The History of the Sectaurs
As told by Mantor, Chief Counsel to King Markor
Translated and adapted from the original Symbionic language by JonWes
There is a saying among my people. The phrasing and the attribution vary depending on who is currently quoting it. Its actual origins are as hazy as much of our own history. And yet, like the greatest sayings, its basic truth survives corruption—"History is written by the victorious."
What, then, if the battle is not fought against a Skall-bladed foe? What if the battle is waged within? Against the drive of an entire race? Against the unyielding desire for perfection? What if the battle is for complete domination of the biological present and future? And what if that battle is lost? What if there is no victor? We of the planet Symbion know the answer to this riddle all to well.
"History is written by those who survive."
The Wonders of the Ancient Ones
Even for one such as I (a Keeper of the Way to some, heretic to others) the truth of the Ancients is largely stitched together from various ancient, incomplete sources combined with legends handed down through the ages, and an educated guess or two.
However, by most accounts, the Symbion of the Ancient Ones was a virtual paradise—a glittering jewel of a world, hanging in a small galaxy very far away from your own. The Ancient Ones tamed their paradise utterly, seizing control over their environment. Within the lush and hospitable confines of the world they had created, the Ancient Ones prospered on Symbion for eons.
Of course, it could not last. In their quest for perfection, the Ancient Ones had sought to control all factors of their life, even their biological future. Eventually, their technological and biological experiments began to fail. Their paradise began to collapse, and The Great Cataclysm began. The details of what happened to this once proud and sophisticated race are lost to us, for now. But one thing is clear—the Ancients realized that life as they knew it could not survive the Cataclysm. They sealed the technological, cultural, and historical knowledge of their race in bio-control centers (called "hyves") scattered across the planet. It is from the ruins of the few hyves that have been discovered that we have pieced together what little we know of the Ancient Ones.
The extinction of the Ancients gave rise to chaos. The planet became a harsh, foreboding world where warring tribes struggled for survival. The environment became unstable, then deranged. All manner of strange weather and mutated creatures arose from this strange, savage new Symbion.
Only the strongest survived.
A Bitter Fall
The true and specific origin of the race known as the Sectaurs is shrouded in mystery. Are we a natural evolutionary development whose origins trace back to the Ancients? Are we the direct result of that long-dead race's biological experiments? A direct result of the Cataclysm itself? The answer, if there be an answer, is sealed in one of the undiscovered hyves of the Ancients.
The Rise of the Sectaurs
There are two dominant species of Sectaurs—the humanoid warriors and the insectoids. Although the insectoids are on a lower evolutionary order, they are intelligent creatures that communicate telepathically with their humanoid counterparts.
Through the intricate ritual of telebonding, warriors can establish a permanent psychic link with a particular beast. The consciousnesses of the two Sectaurs meld instantly and completely. There is no need for verbal command or communication between the two, because each knows the other's thoughts at once. Warrior and Steed become a single entity.
As the planet Symbion became more stable after the harshest days following the Cataclysm, the nomadic tribes of Sectaurs began to settle in small villages, farming the versatile and useful Skall plants and edging their way toward civilization again.
Over time, two major kingdoms emerged. The Dark Domain, ruled by the Empress Devora, and the Shining Realm, ruled by King Markor, the Mighty. Although in relatively close proximity to one another, each kingdom developed its own unique identity, ethos and culture. Although both kingdoms share many commonalities (such as the ritual of telebonding) in most other ways they are diametrically opposed to one another. The reason for such an extreme split is a matter of conjecture.
The Two Kingdoms
Just as the two kingdoms of Symbion are both connected and opposed, legend and rumor suggests the commanders of their respective armies share a similar bond. One legend has it that King Markor sired both Dargon (heir apparent of the Shining Realm) and Spidrax, the General of the Empress' army. Another legend hints that a close bond between Dargon and Spidrax was set in motion before the Cataclysm through a genetic experiment gone mad. Whether there is truth in these or the numerous other tales that have arisen around these dynamic figures, the fact remains they are equally matched.
Commanders of War
Even in their final days, the Ancient Ones ensured their ways would not be lost. They genetically marked some Sectaurs so they were pre-disposed to form a secret society that would gather, store, and probe the lost knowledge and secrets of the Ancients. Calling themselves the Keepers of the Way, these dedicated scholars desperately search for the ancient hyves. Their efforts are hindered, however, by the need for extreme secrecy. Since most of the inhabitants of Symbion blame the current state of the planet on the Ancients, anyone found possessing ancient knowledge is branded a sorcerer, and put to the death. And yet, as the centuries pass, the Keepers slowly grow in knowledge, numbers and power.
Keeper or Heretic?
After centuries of tensions and warring between the Dark Domain and Shining Realm, Empress Devora began marshalling her forces to absorb the smaller City-States that border her Domain. Her ultimate goal is nothing less than seizing control of all of Symbion. Meanwhile, in the Shining Realm, tragedy struck. While on a mysterious mission, King Markor and his escort vanished. Markor's cautious brother Galken was named Regent of the throne. A fine warrior, but a weak leader, Galken was easily manipulated into forming a truce with the Dark Domain. No longer at war with the Shining Realm, the Empress was able to focus her attention on her true goal. Having uncovered a minor outpost hyve left behind by the Ancients, her armies began an all-out search for the Legendary Hyve of the Ancient Wonders.
When the forces of the Shining Realm learn of this treachery, the need for immediate action is clear. With my aid, Dargon is convinced it is his duty to protect the secrets of the Ancient Ones and prevent them from falling into the hands of the Empress. As thee Dark Domain and the Shining Realm race against time in their quest for discovery, a third force—the Keepers—stands in the shadows, waiting...