The Lore And Story Of Ashen
Updated: Dec 18, 2018
When we set out to create Ashen we wanted the game to not only to be satisfying and fun, but to have a deep and compelling story that pulls players through the game. Early in development, we teamed up with universally acclaimed fantasy writer Mark Lawrence, author of the Broken Empire series, the Red Queen’s War trilogy and much more, to help develop the world of Ashen.
Mark’s writing and ideas set up much of the lore, world and characters in Ashen today and we wanted to share more of it with our fans who have been playing through Ashen already. In this edition of our lore blog posts, we look into the overall history of the world and what lead up to the start of Ashen’s story. We hope you enjoy it!
Collated and transcribed by Agnarr of New Bethlem from echoes haunting the towers of Lathyrus.
Wise men say that the dark is older than the light. They say it reaches further and that no matter how swiftly the light travels it finds that all it touches was first in darkness.
The nine realms move among Yggdrasil’s many branches, and the world tree stands upon the darkness, her roots delving into caverns where light will never venture.
But what few know is that there is a forest, and above it stars that are as different from our own as the acorn is from the oak.
Among those stars the Ashen fly. Some say they are the light, but in truth they are of the light, each wing a spectrum spread across the void, brilliance coursing through their veins.
The darkness is old but it is the beat of Ashen wings that first counted time. It was when a single great Ashen flew down to rest upon Yggdrasil’s boughs that the light woke among the realms. Time shed its fetters and drew breath. The tree came into bud, and leaves brought the first colour seen only by the Ashen’s eyes.
Time is its own tide and though the Ashen are immortal theirs is an immortality forged from an infinite cycle between life and death. In time the great Ashen fell from the tree of worlds and lay in splendour, resting upon the plains of darkness in the eternal forest, drawing what few breaths remained to it.
Even then the light was dying but still it remained, and the Ashen’s final three breaths became the three ages of our world.
They say the dark is empty, but it is not so. The Bral dwell in the ancient night and they are legion. Their nature and form offer endless variety. A few as old as the Ashen themselves. A multitude newborn from the blackness.
When the Ashen fell there were some few among the many races of the Bral drawn to the great beast, drawn by the pollution of its blood, both fascinated and repelled.
These scavengers crawled from the utter dark and burrowed amid its feathers. A multitude living and dying. Generation upon generation, breeding and building, all within the space of one breath. The Ashen’s dying light was something they both craved and despised. It ate at them, turning night-flesh to dust and ash and cinders, but it filled them with such power, such possibility. And it changed them.
By the second breath the Bral who dwelled upon the Ashen’s vastness had spawned new forms. Some slithered back into the dark. Some fought and died. One form prevailed. The age of the Listeners had arrived.
The Listeners had new senses, suited to their new age. They had eyes to perceive the light and in its name they built great temples, glorifying the brilliance that sustained them.
By the drawing of the final breath the light had died to a glimmer. The Listeners mourned it in labyrinthine dungeons. The Ashen lay as a dead thing, covered with the skins shed by countless Bral as they had twisted into their new existence. The world the Listeners had made upon its failing body stood dim and drifted with ash, its plants and animals dying too.
It was then that the Gefn came, or perhaps returned, swimming from the umbral seas. She forced a final change upon the children of the Bral, taking a Listener as her mate, entwining with his spirit and birthing the first man. Born in the image of the Listeners the first man was smaller, his eyes bigger and more acute, better suited to the greying world. His form he took from his father. From his mother he took his soul. Adaptable, inquisitive, filled with the urge to explore. When the final breath ended there would be an age of darkness where nothing but glimmers remained, echoing through the ashes of their ancestors. In such an age mankind would need their mother’s gifts.
In that dark age the cities of men fell into ruin, proud Lathyrus drowned beneath the ash, a dozen others toppled by war or emptied by pestilence and famine. But Gefn’s children clung on. A remnant, shorn of their history, wandering, scavenging, surviving.
And now, as the Ashen is reborn from the ruins of its own body, it will be mankind who decide the future. Something so small steering the destiny of something so great. A new age has come, the first of many before the Ashen once again takes flight into endless possibility. This is the age of man. And the ages that follow will be their legacy.
We hope you enjoyed learning more about the backstory and lore of the world of Ashen. If you’d like to read more about Mark Lawrence’s work on Ashen check out his blog post about it here, or find a list of his other works on his website.