Did you hear this story when you were little? The one about the monsters who tried to eat the world and the heroes who rose up to save it? Everyone’s grandparents told this story a little differently, but it always had a happy ending.
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Power has a way of accelerating. Like a snowflake falling at the top of a mountain, it gathers and rolls until it is too large to handle. And, eventually, stopped by an immovable force, it explodes.
This is how grandparents explain the beginning of the Concentric States to the children at their feet. A millennium ago, something began to grow. It is lost in the mouths of storytellers where the horde came from exactly. Some say they crawled out from the very ground. Others say they were just men, twisted and powered by their own desires. But every retelling remembers their mouths, rows of craggy teeth, like the mouth of caves, barely concealed in their slackened jaws.
The horde sacked cities, poisoned rivers, burned and slashed and razed whatever they could get their hands on.
At this point, the elder would throw more wood on the fire to warm the room. It fits well with what happens next. Heroes gathered to fight the monsters off, each champion embodying their own specific shade of goodness.
At the foot of what we now call Mt. Orison, in dramatic fashion, was the final stand. The champions, through teamwork, sheer force of will and well-timed divine intervention, evil is vanquished. We began again, independent and unified, a fellowship of cities.
This ending, the grandparents think when they tuck the children into bed, is much more satisfying than what really happened - the decades of infighting, the invocations of gods no one had seen since the reckoning, the sour compromise of a confederacy of city states.
The heroes each claimed a ruin and rebuilt them into the city-states we know today: Fidapolis, the city of faith. Cronopolis, the city of time. Infropolis, the city underground. Antipolis, the other city. And Tortopolis, the twisted city. They set pared down the wide pantheon of gods that the scattered people prayed to, and chose three: Devar the Creator, Adamah the Preserver, and Zeol the Destroyer.
Every year, a representative from each city travels to the capital Concentra, founded mere miles from the battlefield, to convene The Council of the Center. The city-states have been self-dependent for centuries, but the annual convergence still honors a responsibility to the forming Concentric States. To keep us centered, they say before every meeting, we lean on each other.