The Codex.

Entry 1: Hello World.

Y376.10

[dictation starts]

Hi. I’m not entirely sure who will be reading this, or where you’ll find it, or when.

Whoever you are, I’m sorry.

We’re all caught up in something bigger than ourselves. This planet is doing something, perpetuating something in us. Maybe this can contribute to explaining that, somewhat, or at least give you the tools you’ll need to figure it out yourself.

I am the Archivist. I don’t entirely know what I am, or why I was placed here on this planet. But I know that name. I’ve always known it. With this Tome, I will endeavour to record everything I have learnt over the years, beginning with the basics and adding to them anything new I come across as I continue to travel. Even after all this time, I am still only just comfortable with suggesting I know what I’m talking about; this world is full of nuance and complexity that deserves to be explored fully. However, sadly, I feel I’m running out of time for such indulgences.

It needs to all be set down in one place. So here we are.

I should set out some ground rules for reading this Codex:

  1. I’m treating you as a complete new-born with regards to knowledge and context. I don’t know if you might have found this planet as a space-faring species or crawled out from under a rock somewhere; in either case, or if you just need a refresher, I promise I’ll do my best to explain everything.
  2. I am dictating this text to the Tome, a transcription device that does its best to mark down information in a readable prose format. It’s an amazing piece of technology; it marks the date of recording each entry (format: year.day), it shows its command line in a separate typeface to avoid confusion and it even allows for file uploads that can be translated into readable prose too. If there are some small inconsistencies or blemishes, do excuse them, because it’s more than worth it.
  3. Finally, [unknown error occurred – data lost] Please, for all good that is left in this world, do not forget that.

I can’t imagine what situation you’re finding this planet in, but I can speak to how it is now, in the year 375 of the Age of Ash: in short, fucked. It’s a far cry from the legends of the planet’s old rulers, the Ori, but that’s all they are today; legends, myths, stories told amongst the remaining species still surviving. No one seems to know exactly why they are gone, since all living memory has been tainted or removed by – something. A purge of timelines and understandings that has left behind only confusing and contradicting remnants and fragments of a people. I can only find accurate and detailed histories reaching 400 years into the past – at a stretch. After that, everything becomes vague and incomplete, with the Ori at the centre of a mythos that has no clear origin. No currently available chronology follows the rhythms of natural evolution, nor the ebb and flow of empire, nor the birth of new cultures out of the ashes of old. At some point, this planet faced a catastrophic event. A civilisation at the height of its power simply failed, erasing millennia of history as it died.

The Ori are a species that seem to persistently haunt Nephilon – that’s the name given to this planet in the common tongue. They were bipedal creatures, familiar in look and sound to the species called ‘Null’ that inhabit much of the planet today: two legs and arms attached to a torso that supported them, along with a head that held their brain, two eyes to see, two ears to hear, a mouth to eat and breath through and a nose to smell. Simple exteriors hiding incredibly complex biology and the basic structure that almost all sentient and civilised life on the planet today follows – more or less. There was a key difference, though, from what we know of the Null today compared to the stories of their ancestors; the Ori wielded Magick, in fact the greatest Magick this planet has ever known. Sadly, when they died out, they apparently took it with them.

I’ve been here for just over [confused – conflict: internal clock] years. In that time, I’ve not found anything on this planet beyond ruins and wrecks, telling the stories of a brutal, imperial regime gone wrong. From every possible piece of evidence which I have found up to now, I can come to only one conclusion: the Ori may have been mighty, but I do not for one second believe they were good. There are texts, surviving documents, ancient murals and architecture that all tell stories of one kind or another, just nothing even a little indicative of the chronology of events. They seem to have enjoyed an age of prosperity, thriving on the resources and powers they had access to whilst dominating most of the major landmasses and subjugating those species that did not willing work with them. Then, after some unknown amount of time, that ceased to be the case.

The world, as it is now, will not last much longer. Peace has been a distant dream for centuries, as survival is now the paramount concern of the population. Species like the Krannid and Urok, subjugated by the Ori for presumably thousands of years in the past, now find themselves free and have returned to ancient rituals to maintain a good relationship with the planet. The Null are less lucky, especially estranged from the Magick energies that fed their ancestors and without such shamanistic methods of reconnection. And the Titans – well, they barely leave Cal’Grim anymore, content to live out their strange existence isolated from both their kin and the wider world.

There are newcomers, too. The Fey have only recently arisen from a deep slumber underground, appearing on the surface with abilities and physical features that put a target on their back for slave drivers. Their awakening seems to be heralding something new. A shift in things. I will be monitoring that closely.

Don’t get me wrong – the population has grown substantially even during my lifetime here. Every breakthrough in deciphering a piece of Ori technology allows for another boom in territorial expansion, the subjugation of some clans by some other larger ones and the construction of a new settlement to industrialise. Unfortunately, however, such expansion does not imply prosperity for anyone involved; only some species are benefitting from such growth and no one, not even them, is actually thriving. It’s all just scraping by, on different scales and with different end goals. Survival. Nothing greater.

I am telling you this in case all is lost again in the coming years, as I suspect it might be. I am telling you so that you might understand what came before you, whether you’re a young species rising from the ashes or alien travellers discovering the planet anew. If I do it right, you might not have to do again what I endeavour to do here. You may not understand what I’m talking about yet and that’s okay. You will.

[dictation ends]