Authored by Emilia Lithgow
Professor Emeritus of the Bardic College, Colstean
Any discussion of the ancient mythological creatures rumored to exist in the B.E. period of history must of course have certain limitations or definitions set upon the extemporary work. First it must be clearly understood that this is an academic article. The intent is not to sway the reader in any specific direction or to make argument for a specific type of revisionist history but to provide cool analysis, comparison, and categorization of the various myths in an attempt to uncover some underlying common truth. The implicit bias of the author, being a former Dean of the Bardic College in Colstean and a loyal servant of the Alteran Crown, will be kept to a minimum but the reader should be aware that such bias does exist. It is in this spirit of open academic discussion that the author hopes to inspire readers to do their own research and create a better global conversation.
When approaching each mythological classification I am attempting to create large categories that will embrace many different interpretations of a myth. For ease, I am using the common Alteran names of these groups as those category however, it should be noted that some of these examples to not comfortably fit within the Alteran narrative and are, in fact, at odds with each other. How to reconcile the differences of these varying descriptions is a constant challenge and as the author, I wholly recognize that certain subspecies may be classified entirely incorrectly. As an additional complication, all mythological races seem to have at least some limited ability to change their shape or appearance. This most often involves taking the form of a human for romance, a single night’s dalliance, or for ease of communication. While rare, there are stories of one race taking on the unique aspects of another for some purpose. This was apparently seen as an affront and caused much conflict within mythological society.
I suppose that no review of the multitudes of mythological creatures can begin without some attempt to analyze humanity as a whole. After all, it is through the oral and written traditions of the various human nations that these mythologies are given life. Some may treat them as historical facts but the lack of widespread evidence would leave one to think that their presence was not nearly as powerful or important in human history as some would lead you to believe. It is far more likely that these myths can and should be taken as allegory showing in dramatic relief the very best and the very worst of what we as humans already have within us.
Humans are, by current understanding, the only sentient race on Altera. While different societies approach the terms of “family” and “community” differently, there is no doubt that these general concepts drive all cultures. Humans lack any trace of “classical” heroes such as rumored giants, persons of unbreachable skin, animalistic claws, or other such features, even though such persons figure into the ancient lore on a regular basis. Gone from humanity as well, are the traces of what was once called magic. I would argue that this is to humanity’s benefit as the history of those who were wielders of such powers in the ancient mythos were capricious and dangerous with their powers as often as not. Indeed, the the strength of humanity has the power to accomplish great things without the need to rely on superstition, arcane practices, or prayers to potentially non-existent gods. It is however, also the basic need of humanity to look for deeper meaning in life and to seek more power. This is the drive that consistently drags humans back into the chains of mythos even though we have resoundingly thrown off such magical shackles once before.
This, then, provides a foundation of humanity’s conflicting nature and acts as a focusing lens while we explore the strange and arcane mythos of Altera, Before Exile.