ADERYN'S CRADLE tells the story of an exiled traveler caught in the middle of a monumental struggle between humanity, nature, and the gods.
A thousand years ago, the Five Gods of Anora defeated one of their ownin a war known as the Soulfire Crisis. Aderyn, the god of free will and creation, was defeated by forces united for the first time in centuries. His followers were routed and his works destroyed. Eventually, Aderyn and his realm, the Cradle, were erased almost entirely from Anora.
You are an exiled traveler in flight from the wrath of Ostia. Pursued and cursed by the god of hunger for defying its will, you seek refuge in the last of Aderyn’s shrines. There, you take up arms for Aderyn, and begin a journey to return his Cradle to Anora.
This land, once the center of technology and culture for the world, stands empty. Its inhabitants have either perished or become twisted versions of who they once were. Only a few managed to retain some of their sanity.Your victory depends on the advice of these last few survivors and their tenuous grip on reality.
Fight your way through these ravaged lands, journeying to diverse environments and defeating a wide array of enemies. By uncovering the mysteries of the Cradle you will ensure not only your own survival, but help Aderyn return to the world with his promise to the human race: free will.
"Suppose, my friend," says the guru, scratching ponderously at his chin, "that you have five gamblers, between them playing a great complicated card game, of which only they know the rules, for very high stakes, and each believes the others to be cheating."
"And these would be the five kings?" you ask.
"No, no, no, my friend," laughs the guru. "These are our gods, and we are the coin with which they play their ineffable game."
There was the Great One, Anora, who by their will shaped the land that now takes their name (not in vanity, but with pride), though none remain who remember that time. As they created this fair land, while it was still young, the ancient one saw to it that it should be populated with all manner of creatures, from the littlest creepers to the tall beasts that roamed the plains.
Unable to let the land rest with anything short of perfection, Anora, with all their formidable power, poured their energy and spirit into every speck of dust, until, shivering themself to pieces with the effort, the Great One was no more, and all that remained was Anora, the land, and five splintered pieces of the whole.
These five are well-known to us - the gods, Acie, Nitima, Ostia, Ryphae, and the long-forgotten Aderyn. Shaking themselves into awareness, with only distant memories of how they had all once existed as one, each with newborn powers which distanced themselves from their siblings, settling down in some stretch of Anora and claiming it as their own.
By then, the people of Anora had grown enough to recognize these beings as true power and fell to worshiping the five, each ensconced within their own cradles. The gods fashioned their worshipers societies to satisfy their own selfish pleasures, paying little regard for humanity’s needs and comfort. They were a fierce bunch, and quick to quarrel amongst themselves if ever a reason arose. Consequently the people often suffered by the gods’ bickering.
There are five gods, each a genderless entity who grew out of the body of the ancient one, known as Anora. Since English doesn't have a genderless pronoun, we are forced to refer to Aderyn as a 'he' for the sake of readability.
Acie, God of Eyes
Acie (AH-chee-ay) was the most curious of the five, and saw through her followers' eyes all the glories and changes of Anora. Ever desirous of seeing every nook and cranny of the land, Acie spurred her followers to roam all of Anora. Gripped with insatiable wanderlust, never able to settle, these travelers became skilled in wandering the wilderness, in reading the signs of the seasons and surviving in places precious few could.
Natima, God of Heart
Nitima was the most passionate of the five, and thrived on the trials and tribulations of humans. Finding despair, anger, and love to be most potent, Nitima urged their followers to war, waging battles both within and without their cradle. In time, disciples of Nitima became known as fiercely driven warriors, and even fiercer lovers.
Ostia, God of Mouth
Ostia was the most hungry of the five, and gathered his followers every season to sacrifice some of the land’s bounty. Ostia found that when fed to excess, his energies would pour back into the earth around him and the people worshiped him for the fertility he gave to Anora. But in years of famine, Ostia the Hungerer was cruel indeed, as Ostia demanded sacrifice even when stockpiles were empty. By necessity to sate their gods’ great hunger, and their own need for food, Ostia's followers became accomplished farmers and merchants. Their lands became the breadbasket of Anora.
Ryphae, God of Mind
Ryphae was the most intelligent of the five, and desired to know all that she could. As she lacks a mind with which to learn, Ryphae employed all of her followers in the pursuit of knowledge, plucking what they learned from their heads like ripe fruit. In doing so, her followers became great but tragic scholars, doomed to lives plagued by obsessions and compulsions resulting from Ryphae’s frantic quest for knowledge.
Aderyn, God of Hand
Lastly, Aderyn the Maker was the most inclined to creation, passing on his talent to his followers. Aderyn took vicarious pleasure in watching humans build, much as Anora once had, and was proud of the monuments and great works his worshipers built. So it was that the followers of Aderyn became known as master craftsmen, artists, and builders.
The Soul Fire Crisis
To inspire creativity in his followers, Aderyn lit the soul fires, flames in his temples that gave men freedom and will to create new and better things. With the fire’s light cast over Anora, multitudes flocked to Aderyn, drawn by his encouragement to pursue whichever path in life they desired, so long as they sculpted their path with their own two hands. Around their necks, they wore Aderyn's charm, round and bright as Aderyn lit their way, whichever way they chose.
And so it came to pass that those who did not follow Aderyn began to draw closer to him, lured by his relatively gentler ways in comparison to the mandates of his siblings, who seemed passing cruel. Aderyn did as he always had, but the other four grew more and more jealous, until at long last, irrational with anger, Ostia, Ryphae, Nitima, and Acie banded together against their sibling.
Knowing his siblings would soon arrive to subdue him, Aderyn acted quickly. He quietly split his very essence into five pieces, so as to thwart the other four, power-hungry as they were. Four of these were entrusted to four of his high priests, who were spread across Aderyn’s Cradle. They hid during the impending invasion, Aderyn’s essence making them immune to the horrible magic that the other four gods would use to twist and destroy Aderyn’s people. As for the last hiding spot, Aderyn hid his remaining essence in a small shrine near the edge of his cradle. Thus prepared, he and his worshipers faced the onslaught of the four jealous gods.
The battle was heated and pitched, but in the end Aderyn's loyal people lay battered and broken across Aderyn’s Cradle, overwhelmed by the power of the other four. To be sure, Aderyn was no match for the others with their fury ignited. The victorious four divided the land of Aderyn's Cradle between them and twisted it into a perversion of the beauty that had once been, its people horribly altered, and corrupted to keep the soulfires smote, and their great works ruined. At last, to ensure Aderyn would never again be a threat, the four trapped him in the great citadel at the heart of his lands, and together banished the entire cradle, life and land, to another plane of existence.
When the light and noise ceased, and people dared to look, all they found was an unimaginably large smoking crater, a gaping wound and reminder of what would happen should one cross the gods. Aderyn’s four high priests, the only intact survivors, lay in waiting in Aderyn’s Cradle, hoping for the return of their god, and a way to rekindle the soulfires. The fifth piece, though, sat in the shrine on the edge of the crater that had once been Aderyn's Cradle, a link back to the divine who waited for their champion. Over succeeding generations, Aderyn’s legacy passed from memory until it was but a tale, told by those who wish for something other than the tyranny imposed by the other four.