It looks like there really will be nothing that can penetrate the fog of fantasy that Filipinos have gotten themselves lost in. I doubt there’s much one person can do now that will even manage to awaken the collective Pinoy mind that now seems to be trapped in a Matrix of its own design. Can you hear me sighing?
Oh well, Filipinos love their fantasy after all. They can’t seem to get enough of Princes and Princesses, fairy godparents that magically solve problems for you and fairy tale weddings that can bankrupt societies just to show off to the rest of the world. None of them want to admit to the ugliness of reality and seek to escape it by lying to themselves about the world they live in similar to the way a junkie fantasizes about living a different life during the height of their ecstasy.
But then again, I’m a big fan of fantasy as well. I love to both read and write stories of fantasy so I decided maybe it’s time to present a different kind of fantasy to the Filipino people. One that they won’t easily forget. I have been working on a new project called “Islanders” for quite some time now and I intend to present it on Grow Up Philippines once I’ve got the bare bones skeleton of the setting up and running. However, with the current troubles that continue to trouble the Philippines to this very day and will probably endure until the next century or when the cows come home, I thought it fit to give both our fans and haters a preview of what to expect. A trailer, you might say, if this was a movie or video game.
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Oh and please pardon me for the lack of originality. Before you shout “gaya-gaya” (copycat) I have to tell you that this was originally intended to be a D&D parody (similar to Rich Berlew’s Order of the Stick webcomic) that evolved from a game module my friends and I created for Neverwinter Nights 2. This is my best effort at making the story as original as possible without killing its spirit and theme.
So without further ado, Get Real Philippines brings you a different kind of fairy tale…
In a world called Izeun, a world distinct from but somehow still similar to our own, a world where magic is a force of nature that mortals struggle to control and repurpose for their own ends, is the Kingdom of Yonip. Situated southeast of the Marred Atoll, the great ring around the Abyss of the Thenossa Ocean, it is a tropical archipelago nation of lush jungles and possessed of a long and elaborate history. Yonip is not the only nation in the Marred Atoll, but it is quite possibly the largest, having the most islands and landmass compared to the city-state of Cormin, the islands of Kelzam and the single island of Toralen among others.
To the far west of Yonip and the Marred Atoll is the Known World, a land composed of the three continents Alzio, Oreas and Unych and linked together through their shared history. It is here that many of the mortal races can be found from the fair and eloquent breeds of elf, the innocent and often rustic halfling peoples to the hardy and resilient orcs. The Known World and the many nations that compose it trade regularly with the Marred Atoll, including of course Yonip, at least back when it was still the most progressive nation in the Marred Atoll.
To the far east of Yonip are the Dreadlands, the three continents of Silthrek, Zhaggoth and Mynuc that is infested with extra-dimensional horrors like demons, undead and fae, respectively. Since time immemorial, the Dreadlands and its inhabitants have always been the greatest threat that the Marred Atoll and the Known World have ever faced. What stories of the Dreadlands can be told are often tales of terror and tragedy for none have escaped the horrors of the Dreadlands without having its foul mark upon them.
In its history, Yonip had been conquered at least three times by the three different inhabitants of the Dreadlands. Yonip has always been a human-dominated nation and it is only within the recent century that it has allowed other folk to settle within its shores. Unfortunately, it has since become outright xenophobic when it became a kingdom under the “pureblood” aristocrats appointed by the royal family.
The first to conquer Yonip were the demons and, through their cruelty, taught the humans of Yonip the meaning of pettiness and hate. Those who were captured by the demons were conditioned into being slaves and forced to produce and harvest resources for their infernal masters. In an ironic twist, it was also the demons who taught the people of Yonip the concept of religion but in the wrong sense. What demons taught the citizens of Yonip was the superficial aspect of religion and not the spiritual, to idolize but not to emulate. The inhabitants of Yonip would have to endure the degradation and brutality brought upon them by the demons and fiends for three hundred years.
Then the fae came and drove off the demons. While the fae were less brutal than the demons, they were often selfish and indifferent towards the people of Yonip and often thought of them as mere animals. They would often drive humans away from their own home and kill any who dared resisted. The fae were mostly an enigmatic bunch and, to this day, even the wisest of elves and sylphs can only scratch the surface of their motivations and ideas. However, there were also fae and wights who were quite evil and took special pleasure in tormenting and killing any mortals on Yonip that they encountered.
Last came the undead, led by the dreaded Dohyo the Death Knight. His army was vast and made quick work of both any mortals or fae that stood against them. Like a tide they engulfed Yonip and the rest of the Marred Atoll and intended to use their captured territories as a staging ground for an invasion of the Known World. Dohyo’s forces infected mortals they encountered with the Grey Plague or outright killed them in order to bolster their numbers. The inhabitants of Yonip endured great suffering at the cold grip of the undead and their geist minions but, luckily, their reign would only last for two years.
The nations of the Known World, supported by the gods, most especially the magic of the Blue Pantheon, freed the Marred Atoll from the extra-dimensional influences that enslaved them. Soon enough, the soldiers of the Known World drove the undead back to the Dreadlands and established fortresses in the islands of the Marred Atoll along with some of the islands closest to the Dreadlands to prevent any more invasions. For the next few years, Yonip experienced a golden age: a time of freedom, equality and peace. The following decades were a time of progress and prosperity beneath wisely elected Potentates.
More than a few decades after the liberation of Yonip, a new Potentate took to power by the name of Ferlan Minkos. Fearing that Yonip would be invaded again, Minkos resorted to questionable and outright immoral methods to ensure the safety of his people. Minkos and those who served him sought various artifacts from the previous wars which included collecting the pieces of Dohyo the Death Knight’s cursed armor and wearing it. While Minkos’ intentions were good, his means of bringing peace and order upon the islands of Yonip were becoming increasingly brutal as his mind was slowly consumed by the power of Dohyo’s haunted battle gear. His family too was affected by his use of haunted artifacts and his wife soon fell victim to sinister impulses and desires and became the hated monster known as the Hag Queen.
The people, who could no longer endure the Minkos’ rule and the tyranny of his family and officials were eventually manipulated by the Akkenu family. During the undead occupation of Yonip, the Akken family were one of the first to welcome the invaders as “liberators” and submit to the rule of Dohyo the Death Knight. Together with the Kuwenku family who had a deep hatred for the non-human races of the Known World, the Akkenu family sought to sabotage the reign of Ferlan Minkos.
The Kuwenku family had long been known for their association with demons. When the Fae took the islands of Yonip for their own, it was said that the Kuwenku family went and hid the resources and treasures that the demons accumulated over their reign instead. The Kuwenku family was also known for dabbling in forbidden magic or witchcraft and Nee-Nui, the patriarch of the Akkenu family at the time, was used as a sacrifice to further their goals and cast a spell called “The Great Befuddling” which made it difficult for the people of Yonip to think clearly. In the end, they even blamed the death of Nee-Nui on Minkos, claiming that he was killed by the new Death Knight’s henchmen as he was perhaps one of the greatest political figures of Yonip at the time.
Minkos, during the time of the coup, struggled with his worsening state of undeath. The unclean spirit that now gripped his soul demanded that he kill those who would dare stand and raise their voices against him. He fought with the impulse to give out the order to his soldiers to fight and kill the ever growing number of citizens who clamored for his resignation outside his fortress’ walls in the city of Aedsai. In the end though, his humanity won. The mortal part of him, perhaps the ragged shred of soul left in his heart won out and Minkos couldn’t bring himself to slaughter the people he promised to protect. Instead, he threw himself out a castle window, ending his life and his time as ruler of Yonip.
After the untimely death of Ferlan Minkos, Yonip was then taken over by Koriel Akkenu, the wife of Nee-Nui and said to be a powerful witch who disguised her demonic magic as “divine miracles” and was made queen of all Yonip. She soon instated a system of aristocracy to rule Yonip. Gone were the days of true leadership in Yonip which was now replaced with a meritocracy that favored those who were popular to the people and the current rulers. Becoming a part of public office was achieved not through competence but by favor from other officials.
The Akkenu and Kuwenku families also established the Yellow Codex which would dictate the rule of law in the nation of Yonip. According to the Yellow Codex, no non-human individuals could establish any kind of business in the lands of Yonip without their say-so and comes with a rather questionable 40% tax rate. The Yellow Codex also prevented any non-humans from teaching or sharing their skills with the humans of Yonip, further stagnating the already feudal state of society and robbing the people of any intellectual development. Finally, the Yellow Codex divided Yonip into principalities, each ruled by a prince, princess or both which were either appointed by the royal family or as a result of popularity contests which were decided in fairs.
Koriel also appointed various officials as prime minister to maintain a semblance of democracy in Yonip although it was quite clear from the get-go that she was still in power with help from the Marble Faith, the dominant religion of Yonip. While the Marble Faith claimed to worship the benevolent Threefold God of the Shining Pantheon, it was clear that it still had the trappings of the Obsidian Faith, the religion used by the demons to control the populace of Yonip.
The last prime minister to take charge of Yonip was Gloriem Anuyo who considered disposing of Koriel’s Yellow Codex and changing Yonip’s system of government. Outraged, Koriel and her influential lackeys crucified her with allegations of corruption and treachery. While it was true that Gloriem was not a flawless leader and was responsible for a good number of political mishaps, her intentions for Yonip, much like the late Minkos before her, were mostly benevolent if somewhat selfish. While Koriel inevitably had Koriel imprisoned and even had her accused of being part halfling, Gloriem had installed a system that would eventually give more power to the next prime minister than the royal family.
With Koriel’s death later on, it was clear that the Akkenu and Kuwenku families would lose their grip on Yonip. However, also thanks to Koriel’s death, her son Nui-Nui was able to gain popularity with the populace, becoming both a king and prime minister of Yonip. Like his mother before him, Yonip was largely open-minded regarding demonic influences and was only fiercely critical of anything to do with the Known World and its inhabitants.
When asked about the current miserable state of Yonip, Nui-Nui was quick to blame the regimes of Minkos and Gloriem for ruining the nation despite not taking any active efforts to change Yonip for the better. One of his last great mishaps was botching the rescue of several worshipers of Nuwa who had been taken hostage by a madman and resulted in many untimely deaths which he still refuses to apologize for.
Meanwhile, his greatest known failure was allowing for his own soldiers to be butchered by fiends in Mazampan, one of the westernmost islands of Yonip. No less than forty-four brave men were used as an unholy sacrifice by fiends in a ritual to boost their powers and gain the favor of the Obsidian Pantheon. Instead of declaring war, Nui-Nui was quick to forge a “peace treaty” with the fiends and acquire their help in “bettering” the lands of Yonip.
Yonip continues to be a dangerous and impoverished land because of its people’s backward thinking that is further encouraged by the Marble Faith and the royal family of Yonip. Only time will tell now if the people of the archipelago can find the strength of will to find real meaning in their lives and bring permanent and positive change to their beleaguered land.
So get your deep-sea diving suits ready and make sure your boats have plenty of Necrol if you want to become an Islander!
I HAVE RETURNED TO LAY WASTE TO OUR ENEMIES!