The Story of Ambardia
Not very long ago, the citizens of Ambardia lived very simple lives. Their existences were only slightly punctuated by the changing of the seasons or the birth of a child. These simple farmers, hunters, and tradespeople rarely ventured more than a mile or two from their homes, grouping together in small villages and hardly ever showing curiosity about what lay beyond. The people lived as they had for thousands of years, an almost stagnant society with no advances in technology, exploration, or social structure. The culture produced no leaders or great minds until about 200 years ago.
The birth of the boy Ambard was no special event in his village. Indeed, in this particular village, no last names were needed because few people ventured far enough from home to need one. The villagers simply called each other by descriptive names when necessary, like Old Nevin, Young Calis, Favir the Baker, or Savol from across the lake. As Ambard grew, he began to realize that he perceived the world differently from his neighbors and even his relatives. This realization greatly disturbed him; why should he, of all people, think of himself or his world in any terms beyond his trade and his home?
When he reached adulthood, to the great surprise of his fellow villagers, Ambard left home with the intention of seeing as much of the world as possible. Surrounding villages were even more astonished at his arrival, and confused when he stopped only briefly. It did not take long before Ambard made a startling discovery. The world he inhabited consisted entirely of a few small villages and the resources necessary to support them. In every direction from his home village, there were only one or two others, and beyond these, the world simply… ran out.
This discovery rocked Ambard to the core. He found himself unable to stop traveling and wandered the boundaries of his limited world continuously, becoming somewhat of a mythical figure known now as “Ambard the Wanderer.” Travelling in this manner for three years, Ambard began to despair. He hardly understood why he was driven to reach beyond the existence that seemed to satisfy everyone else he knew, and he was beginning to have an unpleasant intuition: his already limited world was shrinking.
His suspicions were confirmed, when one day, expecting to arrive at “Village Number Seven,” (he had named it himself, as every village he encountered simply called itself “The Village” or sometimes, more ambitiously, “The Town”) it simply wasn’t there. Ambard backtracked, thinking he must, even after travelling the same lands year after year, somehow have made a mistake. He had made no such mistake. Village Number Seven had vanished, and Ambard seemed to be wandering in circles through the same forest, over and over again. Night fell, but day did not dawn, and an unseasonable thunderstorm broke, making it impossible for Ambard to find his way out of this predicament. Finally, he took what shelter he could beneath a larger tree, and attempted to ride out the storm.
He dozed a bit despite his misery. When he awoke, day had broken at last, but he found himself in a clearing he had never seen before. In the clearing was a cheery thatched hut, with a trickle of smoke and delicious cooking smells wafting up the chimney into the air outside. Ambard ventured inside, where he found a meal set on the table, and dry clothing, but no inhabitants. He ate the food and changed, drying his wet cloak beside the hearth and wondered where he was and what would happen next, if anything. While he was pondering these questions, he heard a mysterious voice calling him outside.
As if in a dream, he rose from the table and went outside into the clearing. He found a magnificent white stag who spoke to him at length and showed him many magical visions, explaining the nature of the world and the laws of the Universe. The stag was a representative of the various forces of Order that attempted to govern the Universe. Ambard’s world had once been like many others: a thriving varied world with infinite diversity and fantastic civilizations. Unfortunately, a small group of those who were responsible for creating Order in the Universe had quarreled among themselves, thereby disrupting the Balance of the Universe and leaving an opening for the forces of Chaos to gain a slight advantage. Although the Balance had since been restored, a being known as Itrophi was gradually devouring Ambard’s world.
Naturally, Ambard immediately vowed to join the forces of Order and fight against Itrophi, but the stag explained that this action would only disrupt the restored Balance, even if it were possible. Itrophi was not necessarily evil, despite its destructive nature, and an addition to the forces of Order, however slight, would tip the Balance once again. The stag explained further that Ambard’s role was to be a simple one: where Itrophi devoured, Ambard would create.
Ambard was distressed at first. Why shouldn’t a destroyer of worlds be destroyed itself? How could he re-create an entire world? What if he, with his failings, created lands or beings who were not Good, thereby adding to the forces of Chaos? The stag seemed amused by these questions. Ambard would only be given the tools to begin the process of re-creation, and his descendants would finish the job over many hundreds, even thousands, of years. Also, Order and Chaos were not necessarily Good, nor Evil: they were simply necessary. Finally, the re-creation of Ambard’s world must be the product of one of that world’s inhabitants, and the products of that re-creation must reflect not only a balance between Order and Chaos, but all the idiosyncrasies that were part of the world, and part of Ambard himself. Representatives of the forces of Order would check the progress of Ambard’s world from time to time, and when Itrophi ceased to make progress in consuming the world, it would focus its energies elsewhere, better serving the greater Balance.
Ambard was given the means to re-introduce learning and magic back into the world. He was given the knowledge and abilities to influence and even add to the world around him. The stag assured him that these abilities would be passed to his descendants, and bade him return to his home village and start the process of re-creation there. He met with some small resistance, and much confusion, but soon his village began to thrive and expand, as did the lands around it. The villagers, some of whom began to be born with curiosity and a thirst for exploration and knowledge, creatively titled their village “Ambardia,” and as it grew, this name came to mean the larger realm surrounding the ever growing village.
Since this time, the lands around Ambardia have grown, and its inhabitants have become more and more varied. Also, the realms have begun to produce more and more heroes and adventurers in addition to scholars and explorers. Instead of only villages, there are now kingdoms and larger towns, and the realms expand almost daily thanks to the efforts of Ambard’s descendants, one of whom is always dubbed “Ambard,” to this day.
The current Ambard can sometimes be found wandering the realms and helping to stop the efforts of the world-devouring Itrophi. Adventurers also wander the land, helping to keep the balance between the peaceful civilizations and some of the stranger (and sometimes monstrous) creations that are the products of Ambard and his descendants’ unusual imaginations. The stag had stressed to Ambard that imagination was the key element in the re-creation of Ambardia, and he and his descendants strictly adhere to the stag’s advice.
Come, adventurer! Come and be a part of the creation of a world! Come and live, fight, and reap rewards in a realm ruled by imagination! The denizens of Ambardia await you.