Here are some more mad ramblings from the recently rediscovered files of Wilhelm of Praag, strangely still relevant to the Tyrion and Teclis Trilogy. (I would like to thank Jimmy Carmine for pointing me in the direction of archive.org in the comments to the previous Blast From the Past). I should point out that this comes from my old website, was written over 10 years ago and was never part of the official background anyway. Still bearing all that in mind, let us proceed!
The Paths of the Old Ones
Some Speculations on their nature by Wilhelm of Praag.
Recently there fell into my hands some of the texts translated from old Elvish into the common tongue of men, by the Elvish mage, Tasirion of Turmir, before his unfortunate demise at the hands of a mob of irate Ulric worshippers in the city of Marienburg. These books, the so-called Testament of Tasirion, are a fascinating insight into the strange world view of the Elves. Moreover in them, we often find references to the mysterious beings known as the Old Ones, a god-like race of extreme mystery that has exerted a fascination over the minds of scholars for generations.
Tasirion, as we all know, was quite insane, and many have claimed that his writings are nothing more than the demented ramblings of a deranged maniac. Yet they do corroborate some things written elsewhere by other, somewhat better regarded, scholars. His are not the only references to the mysterious Old Ones. The Book of Sigmar speaks of them, as do certain scholarly tomes kept in the vaults of the Grand Theogonist’s library in Altdorf, of which I am forbidden to mention by name. The Eighth Scroll of Verena contains twenty seven stanzas dedicated to the Old Ones, and their servant race, the hideous Slann. Some texts claim that they were the original rulers of our world, and that all of the races that came later were their creation. This is blasphemy, for all know that the Gods created men and elves and dwarves, and I record it here, merely in the interests of scholarship.
But let us not forget that Tasirion was an Elf, one of the Elder Race and privy to much knowledge that men can only speculate about. Their history is far longer than ours, and their written records date back into the first age of the world, and even to the legendary Dawn times.
All of these works, even Tasirion’s, are vague. No one seems able to describe the Old Ones, or, perhaps if they could, they chose not to. Some of the texts make references to them being so glorious that mortals were unable to gaze upon their visages without dying of rapture. Others claim that they were so hideous that no man could look upon them without descending into madness.
Tasirion writes that they ordered their worshippers to destroy all images of them before they departed this world. Why this was, he did not say, and all we can do is speculate. What could beings of such awesome power possibly fear?
Tasirion makes other claims, which most scholars dismiss as lunacy, but which I find oddly convincing. He states that it was the Old Ones who were responsible for the creation of what he calls the Great Black Gate of Ultimate Madness in the Uttermost North. This Gate was intended to take the Old Ones back to the Heaven or Hell from which they came, a place located among the distant stars or so the Mad Elf would have us believe. That it is possible to open pathways to other worlds is not open to doubt. Where else do daemons come from? Is it then so unlikely that other mightier beings than we should be able to create such gateways when even human mages can open such portals?
Tasirion writes that the Great Gate of Madness was merely the final culmination of the Old Ones work. They also created paths to the Gate that once criss-crossed our world but which are now corrupted by Chaos. In ancient days these paths were sealed by mighty spells to prevent their corruption seeping out into the world, but in all the long ages between now and their closure these spells have worn away, and at their terminal points the raw stuff of Chaos seeps through into the world, congealing into warpstone, and other foul substances.
Tasirion claims that he himself passed through the Paths of the Old Ones after he found an opening where the seal had weakened, in fabled Ulthuan. In a matter of days he made his way to the lands of men, suffering hideous perils along the way, and much to the detriment of his sanity. If this was true, it might also explain other things, like how hideous monsters sometimes appear seemingly from nowhere even within our own Empire. All of us have heard of places of power, located in centres corrupted by mutations, places where demons sometimes appear- might there not be a connection?
Tasirion also indulges in further and even more disturbing speculation. He claims that the Paths and indeed the Great Dark Gate may not be what we think them to be at all, that the minds that created them were not remotely similar to those of mortals. The fact that they can be used as a transit network does not mean that this was their purpose. Humans and even daemons may be like rats scuttling through the empty pipes of an abandoned alchemical laboratory. To them, the pipes are a convenient route of travel, but one that in no way reflects the intent of the original designer.
In his books, Tasirion even posits a theory that the Old Ones were actually trapped on our World by some form of cosmic shipwreck. The Great Gate, the raising of whole civilizations, was to them, the equivalent of a man building a raft to escape from a desert island. They simply abandoned their creations to their fate once their purpose had been achieved, and that the coming of Chaos was nothing more than a by-product of their departure, possibly even one they foresaw.This is not a pleasant thought nor is it one calculated to make us think well of ourselves. Perhaps it is for the best to dismiss the Elf’s works as the final diseased writings of drug-crazed lunatic.
Readers should note that Wilhelm of Praag spent several months in a cell in Marienburg after this paper was published and then, having recanted of his heretical writings, was scourged through the streets of the city at the orders of the High Priestess of Verena before being sent into permanent exile to do penance for his follies…
Blood of Aenarion is on the long list for the David Gemmell Legend Award this year. You can vote here.