Anthros Campaign Setting
(excerpted from the Book of Secrets, vol. 1)
In the beginning, there was The Quiet.
Time has no meaning to The Quiet. It has always been. It always will be. It is Everything and Nothing at once, and never. Before anything else, The Quiet existed. And it still exists to this day. It will exist forever.
The Quiet does not feel, does not think. It does not speak. It does not exist as do you or I, as physical creatures trapped within the confines of Time. It simply is.
The Quiet knows everything. Everything that has ever happened, is happening, or will happen. The Quiet can go backwards and forwards through Time as if it were flipping through the pages of a book.
When you are in bed at night and you peer out the window at the stars, you are seeing a tiny, tiny bit of The Quiet. Imagine the size of one grain of sand within a gigantic desert that stretches out forever. That great expanse of stars you see above and around you, seemingly without end? That is a grain of sand in comparison to the infinite desert of The Quiet.
The Quiet does not care about you. It does not care about me. It is not angry, or happy, or merciful, or heartless. Imagine the desert again, but this time, imagine that the grain of sand from before has inside it an immeasurable number of infinitesimally small grains of sand. You are one grain of sand within the infinite desert within the grain of sand that is the entire universe within the infinite desert that is The Quiet.
The Quiet existed. It exists. It will exist. Sometime between the end of all things and the beginning of everything, sometime between the distant future and the ancient past, before Never and after Always, Anthros awoke.
When Anthros awoke, he was surprised. He almost forgot to remember. Then, he remembered.
As long as The Quiet had been, so had Anthros. As long as The Quiet had been, Anthros had slept. Until now. Now, Anthros was awake again, for the first time.
Anthros does not sleep as would you or I. He does not have pillows or a warm bed, or a house to sleep in. He does not wake up with the sun shining in his face, with the landlord’s son shouting in the hallway. When Anthros goes to sleep, he simply decides to forget about himself. Then, when he remembers himself once more, he wakes up.
After Anthros awoke for that first time, he spent five hundred thousand lifetimes of men sitting with and within The Quiet, thinking. After those five hundred thousand lifetimes, Anthros grew bored. The Quiet never spoke with him. He wanted a companion.
Then, Anthros remembered Io.
As long as Anthros had existed, so had the possibility of Io. Before Anthros remembered him, Io had existed only as a possibility in Anthros’ mind—that, and the infinite knowingness of The Quiet. Some say that Io was older than Anthros, even older than The Quiet. Some even say that Io created The Quiet. But we cannot know. Only The Quiet knows.
When Anthros remembered Io, he called Io to him. Io appeared as a shining silver serpent, for he knew that this would please Anthros. And it did. Anthros was happy.
Anthros and Io spent many thousands of thousands of lifetimes of men together. They talked of everything there ever was, things that never were. They talked of the smallest things and of the largest, from the size of your infinitesimal grain of sand to the limits of the unending Quiet. They talked, and they were happy.
But after this thousand thousand lifetimes of men, something changed. Io grew proud. Sometimes he did not want to talk to Anthros. Sometimes he preferred to preen his shining silver scales, or to coil and uncoil his magnificent tail. Sometimes he preferred to travel The Quiet by himself, like a single fish in an eternal sea. Sometimes he even talked to himself, instead of to Anthros.
Anthros could not understand why Io did not want to talk with him. Io and Anthros began to spend more and more time apart.
One time, Io had been gone for longer than ever before. Anthros had not seen him in a very, very long time. So Anthros set out to find Io.
Anthros’ search took many thousands of lifetimes of men. Finally, after an eternity of wandering The Quiet, he found Io.
But Io was not alone. With him were many, many smaller serpents, tiny versions of himself. They were every of every color you can imagine, and many that you cannot. They swam quickly, gleefully through the quiet, shouting to each other in their joy. But as much as they loved each other, they loved Io more. Io told them stories and happily watched their play.
Anthros was happy to have finally found his companion. He joined in the serpents’ play and began to tell them stories of his own. The serpents began to crowd around their new friend. Suddenly, however, Io spoke harshly, and they all stopped, silent. Anthros was confused. Io glared at Anthros, drawing his creations closer to him.
Anthros understood then.
He saw how Io had created his serpents only in likeness of himself, and not of Anthros. He saw how Io treated each one of them with more affection than he had treated Anthros, even after the thousand thousand lifetimes they had spent together. He saw why Io had not told Anthros about his new community.
Io did not want to be friends with Anthros any more.
It was then that Anthros felt an emotion that he had never felt before. Anthros became angry.