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Zola Fel's March to the Sea - A Myth of the Great Darkness


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The headwaters of the Zola Fel River are called the Leaping Place Falls.  Those heights are the place where Zola Fel, a crusading river of the Sea's invasion of the Land in the Storm Age, witnessed the destruction of the Spike and felt the call of great Magasta to assail the void opened at the heart of the world.  Zola Fel retraced the path of his conquests of the Land to rejoin the deep currents of the Ocean and take part in Magasta's victory over Chaos.  This much is fairly common knowledge in the lands along his modern banks.

The particulars of this journey have never been explored in canon, to my knowledge.  Well, I run a RQG game set in Pavis after the Liberation, and I love a good road trip--so I set my players the task of retracing Zola Fel's march back to Magasta in a this-world heroquest.  The short myth I developed to guide their interaction with the Otherworlds on that journey follows:

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Zola Fel's Three Contests

In his return journey to the Ocean from the Leaping Place, Zola Fel was confronted by dilemmas and challenges that expanded his understanding of the conflict between Existence and Chaos, and his role within it.  The sites of each of these trials became a bog along his flow.  Other bogs formed along the Zola Fel before and after the Dawn, but these three are of special significance to the river's cult as places where he gained special insight into the struggle with Chaos.

1) The New Bog - The Realization Place.  Here Zola Fel witnessed refugees of the wasting of Genert's Garden huddled on broken hills, besieged by hordes of Chaos monsters.  The bedraggled baboons, humans and Morokanth sheltering there had been Zola Fel's enemies in his invasion of the Land, but the Battle of Earthfall and many other evils had since slain most of their gods and destroyed their once-great civilization.  Zola Fel found he could conjure no animosity towards the land-dwellers in their extremity, despite their old antagonism.  In the face of Chaos, he realized that old enemies must become allies.  He shifted his course to swamp and drown the monster horde, strangling their leaders and devouring their evil spirits.  He recognized that many peoples played a role in Magasta's fight and deserved his help.  The surviving refugees were among the first Riverfolk of Zola Fel.  Those who chose to leave the River's protection brought word of his deeds to the newly arrived Star Khans.

2) The Great Bog - The Recognition Place.  Here Zola Fel came upon a place where Storm Bull, Zorak Zoran, and their raging sons battled Chaos.  The Storm Bull was Zola Fel's chief surviving antagonist from his invasion of the Land with great Genert fallen, and much ill-will remained between them.  The insights of the Realization Place still flowed powerfully within the river though, and he chose to put them into practice in spite of old grudges.  Zola Fel swept out to aid the Storm and Darkness gods, soothing hurts and exhaustion with his waters, stymieing and swallowing the monsters with his flow.  Zola Fel's currents soaked the churned earth of the battlefield, washing the worst of the Chaos blood away, and the Storm Bull recognized him as an ally in the Eternal Battle, if not a true friend.

3) The South Bog - The Determining Place.  Here Zola Fel confronted his last great obstacle on the march to the Ocean: he faced the Chaos god Ompalam, who sought to trap and bind Zola Fel into the fabric of his own dark empire, which could then extend further up the river's flow.  Ompalam goes only where humans bring him, and he was brought to the mouth of Zola Fel by ships of the Empire of Chir, a seafaring realm of the Vadeli immortals.  The Vadeli raised a colony beside Zola Fel's estuary, and swelled its population with slaving raids into the interior.  Many who wandered the wastes having not yet learned of Waha's Covenant or received the teachings of the Star Khans were set upon by the Red Vadeli and dragged in chains to their city, where Brown Vadeli overseers directed their labor according to the designs of the Yellow and Blue castes.  Ompalam's servants sought to pool Zola Fel's flow behind the Iron Locks of the Cruel Canal, but the river called upon insights and allies won in his journey.  Storm Bull bellowed, his friend Zorak Zoran stamped his feet and swung his club, the Star Khans led the first of Waha's people to steal back the Vadeli's slaves.  Unlooked for, great Flintnail of the True Mostali arrived with a troop of his sons and bent his deep wisdom to undermining the works of the Vadeli.  Weakened by the labors and violence of these powers, the Iron Locks were finally sundered by the full, unleashed torrent of Zola Fel, who burst through the designs of Ompalam and cast the great iron gates of the Locks into the Ocean as rusting fragments.  Those freed from Vadeli domination joined the Riverfolk or the Beast Riders, and the alliance of necessity between those peoples sustained them in the long, cruel war against the monsters and demons of Chaos to come.  Zola Fel, his flow freed of obstruction from the Leaping Place to the Ocean, rushed out into the deep currents to join Magasta's ultimately victorious struggle with the void.

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Though there was potential here for a closer alliance between Storm Bull and Zola Fel, relations between the Storm and River peoples were forever stained by the digging of the Good Canal, and the harsh labors to which Waha put Zola Fel's sister river.  The River has never quite forgiven Waha's people for the disfigurement of his kin, and despises the Beast Riders' modern practice of slavery.  There can be cooperation between the River and Beast peoples, but little deep trust within Time.

The Iron Locks were utterly destroyed, but the myth is quiet on the ultimate fate of the Vadeli colony.  No surface ruins remain, but certain fragmentary Second Age texts housed in the New Pavis Knowledge Temple suggest that it now lies at the foundations of the much later God Learner colony, Feroda.

 

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