by Grant Smuts

*note: this post is a repeat of the Dreaming City, which is no longer active.*


The Pre-Mundane Days

excerpt taken from the notes of Nexfera
(circa early 19th era)

…  I soon found that there was no true counterpart to the history I had uncovered, but there remains, however, a tiny residue of accounts which for years baffled and shocked me with their parallelism to Gehara’s own past, and it is common knowledge how that cursed nation fell. The bits of ancient folklore and local legend notwithstanding, I found, within the very depths of the city’s catacombs, evidence of the death-roads of the elder beings. It is simple to assume that pre-mundane men constructed them, but there is little in our history –  any  history – or our culture –  any culture – to suggest that we in our primitive state were capable of, firstly, feats of cthonic engineering as complex as domed hollow hives still capable of supporting the mass of a city above it, and secondly, that any man, be he engineer, mathematician or philosopher, that could naturally conceive of the angles that form the tunnels. There is something altogether more ancient about the very shape they bear. Merely thinking about what I witnessed draws my mind into their abyssal darkness. I am forced, in my nightmares to consider what it was that  they  achieved in the days before mankind rose to prominence – and certainly what they did makes everything we have ever accomplished pale in comparison. And yet there was once an institution that studied the very origins of these mysteries, hoping to shed a light on the featureless past.

The name ‘Rensmouth Academy’ has fallen into disrepute in scholarly discourse of the Pre-Mundane days, mostly because of their more… esoteric practices. While no one can dispute that the Academy existed, there is an ever-dwindling number of scholars who believe in the true nature of its denizens…

The old symbol of Rensmouth Academy. The Buer represents chimeric knowledge.

The Second Moon

from the correspondence of Callion Gale of the Valharrow Archivists’ Academy
(35th year of the 19th era)

I have certainly heard of Nexfera’s hypothesis, and I reserve the right to dismiss him not only as a madman, but an idiot as well. When did we begin to take the words of mad scientists and mass murderers seriously? What’s next? Are we to accept that whale songs are scientific postulations? Maybe  birds have a working theory on the creation of the universe, perhaps we can all benefit from just listening to their songs a little more!

There is  one  thing I will concede on his thesis – Rensmouth Academy existed, and it achieved what no other wizarding guild or academy has achieved in the intervening years. However, the most troublesome thing of their existence is that there exists almost no record of them. I have combed these Archives, and for three decades I have come across only two documents officially bearing their signage. One, of course, is documenting the Advent of Circea, our second moon.

Much of this document is illegible, but a restoration has revealed that the raising of the moon was the conjoined effort of an unprecedented number of four path mages. The exact number is unknown, but I think we can safely presume that there were at least ten, each aided by the leading mages of other cities. Assuming the theories that the strength of magic was effectively doubled at this time are correct, it may be theorised that the elements used in the second moon were chosen specifically for their magical conducive nature.

The raising of Amarith’s second moon, Circea, which greatly increased the power of all mages in the world.

The Original Plans

The second document, which seems both poignant and utterly insignificant, is the original plan of the city. It may be interesting to note that Valharrow was intended to be a metropolis that covered much of the western reaches – all its outlying holdfasts and hamlets would, effectively, be a part of the city, all connected by main-roads. While it is still clear to see today, due to the sheer number of holds and villages loyal to Valharrow, it’s also evident that these plans would never have come to fruition. In the end, Valharrow rose akin to other cities, surrounded by great walls and closed further by the xenophobia that dominated the ancient days (and which continue to the present era).

What I note in these documents, however, are not merely the lines drawn, but the lines  erased.  It seems that Valharrow was initially intended to occupy a different space and shape entirely – and it uncomfortably reminds me of the ‘curious angles’ that idiot Nexfera spoke of. Whatever the intention was, it was clear that it never came to pass. Soon after Circea’s Advent, Rensmouth Academy went into a swift decline, eventually dissolving. Much of their passing is a mystery, though the argument could be made that  everything about them  was a mystery.

But there was no time to uncover the secrets they left behind.

Two mere years after Rensmouth quietly faded away, Rykisedek emerged, and the world was set on fire.


Circea: Amarith’s second moon, supposedly raised by the scholars of the now defunct Rensmouth Academy, Valharrow’s first and only magical academy. Circea’s golden light augments the power of mages.

Death-roads:  Leylines of vast magical energy, artificially constructed and naturalized by unknown means by the Rensmouth Academy. Other, natural death-roads exist in other regions, but there is a powerful focus of them in Valharrow, for unknown reasons.

Nexfera:  The mad scientist, a mage ascending to walk the Four Paths. It is presumed that he never succeeded, though he was a terrifyingly powerful mage in his own right. He was infamous for his magical experiments, which created a large number of intelligent but maddened, nigh-immortal beasts, many of which still roam the wild expanses of the western wildernesses.

Rensmouth Academy:  A semi-secret society, now famous for its accomplishments in raising Amarith’s second moon. Rensmouth is also assumed to be responsible for the catacombs and death-roads below Valharrow. Many wild rumours have emerged in the centuries after their passing, among them the notion that the elders of Rensmouth weren’t human.