The world of Erâth, as we have seen before, is governed by seven great powers, each separate and yet intertwined with one another, such that they push and pull, ebb and flow with one another, maintaining a perpetual balance for the world. These powers are responsible for all that is, all lives, and all that grows, for without them the very world itself could not exist.
The powers are thus fundamental to the very nature of the world, and yet they have seemed to wane in recent ages, some retiring to the fringes of the world, and others seeming to disappear entirely. Without them the world of Erâth could not have come into being; yet without them, the world continues to exist.
These powers have been described by many of the races of Erâth in different ways, for to each race they carry a different meaning and weight; for example, Darkness is a great threat to the Illuèn, but perhaps less so to the Portèn.
As the race of men have described them, the seven powers of Erâth are thus: Life, Death, Light, Darkness, Strength, Wisdom and Eternity. Each power is bound to Erâth, and is chiefly responsible for the goings-on of the world in a manner particular to their wont. In this way, night is the realm of Darkness, while day is the realm of Light. Yet the moon and stars reside in the realm of Light, while the deep shadow of the mind that darkens the world in the brightest day is the province of Darkness.
Each of these powers influences the world in a different way, though some powers can extend their responsibilities into the territory of others, and some overlap in their influence.
To begin, the power of Life is responsible for all that grows, or is born, or is created. When a foal is born in the plains, it is Life; when a blade of grass peeks out from the soil in the springtime, it is Life. As a river grows in might from the highest mountain peaks down the sea, that is also Life; and when men build great cities full of music and splendor, their places are filled with Life.
Counter to Life is the power of Death. If Life is responsible for the bringing of things into the world, Death is responsible for taking those things away. From the insignificant demise of insects to the withering of flowers in autumn, Death is everywhere at all times. When a pond dries in the heat of summer, or a woman passes away of old age, it is Death. But Life and Death must often work together, for without one the other could not survive. After all, it is through the death of some that the life of others is preserved, and were nothing ever made new in the world, Death would have nothing to take away.
The power of Light is, naturally, responsible for all that shines and glows in the world, both in nature and in spirit. From the sun to the moon to the glow of a candle, it is Light providing that great illumination to the world. Yet Light is also to found within, for the joy of a child’s laughter or the pleasure of breeze of a summer day—this, too, is Light.
But if there must be Light, there must then also be Darkness. This power is one of the strongest of the world, for it dwells in the shadow of the mountains and the dark of night. When the sun sets and dusk settles, it is Darkness at work. And when the young die and tears are shed, it is also Darkness at work. The very essence of despair, sadness and anger is Darkness, and so it is a tempting power to give in to, because it is often easier to dwell in darkness than to face the light.
The power of Strength is subtle, and works tirelessly in the face of endless resistance from the world. If Life is responsible for bringing a sapling into the world, it is Strength that makes it grow tall, and put out its branches, and reach for the sky. When someone is faced with despair, and pushes onward nonetheless, it is Strength. Strength is everywhere, ensuring the world remains ever resistant to the forces that would weaken it.
Wisdom is the scarcest of the powers of Erâth, for there are few who possess true wisdom. Wisdom is the ability to see through the Darkness and into the Light, to see right from wrong, and to encourage others to find that righteous path. Some would say the power of Wisdom grants knowledge of what is yet to come, but others would argue that such a thing is not true wisdom, for wisdom would be knowing not to pursue a path of destruction.
And last amongst the powers of Erâth, Eternity, is fickle and subdued. While all the races aspire to be eternal, it is often brought into question what the nature of such eternity would be: could one man truly live forever? Would that not cheat Death of their duties? It is unclear how Eternity influences the world directly, but it is entirely possible that it works its effects in a realm removed from the that of the living world.
In the early days of Erâth, when the world was still young and bright, the land and seas were filled with many creatures, many of which have endured to this day. But there also came into being at this time seven great races of Erâth, who could manipulate the world, remake it anew in their image, and grow change wherever they roamed. There was created one race for each of the great powers of Erâth, so that these powers might grow and spread throughout the world, bringing balance to all.
For the power of Life came a race called the Mirèn, who walked the world as do men, yet were not born, nor died. Fair and wholesome in appearance, they radiated joy and health, bringing good tidings with them as they went. All who met them loved the Mirèn, and they possessed great mastery of healing, such that they could even bring one back from the very brink of death itself.
Yet Death was also a natural part of Erâth, being one of the great powers, and to this power was given a race of spectral, shadowy beings: the Namirèn. Race of Death, they were to be found anywhere that creatures or men came to their ending. Although they took often the form of men and women, pale and cold, they did not in fact inhabit the world of men as did the Mirèn, and vanished as swiftly as they appeared. Robed always in black, their presence was chilling and ominous, for to be in the presence of the Namirèn was to feel the presence of Death itself.
The race of Light, the Illuèn, are better known throughout Erâth, for they are closer to men in their existence than any other race of power. Although they are not born as men are, they nonetheless come into being from the touch of another, and may die through violence as easily as men. They carry with them always a faint glow, and can command the light around them to brighten or diminish at will.
To counter the Illuèn, of course, there must be a race of Darkness: the Duithèn. Composed of shadow itself, the Duithèn are fleeting, cold things, bringing with them despair and loneliness whenever they roam. They draw strength from cloud and shadow, and are strongest in the depths of night, when all the world seems to draw close and deep. They command the creatures of this shadow world, and all those that hunt at night or kill for sport are under their influence. They have grown to be one of the strongest races of the world, as Erâth came to be under ever-present shadow, and they can be felt in the deepest despair of men.
The Portèn, race of Strength, are difficult to discern or find: they appear often as stone or tree, finding strength in the growing of plants and animals, and weakness in their demise. They rarely appear to men, or indeed to any other race of Erâth, and spend their time deep in the earth, giving strength to all that grows.
The Sarâthen are the race of Wisdom, and in their natural form are strange beings. They often take the form of old men, for the race of men put their faith of wisdom in age, and often seek to keep their true nature hidden. They prefer to influence the world through the subtle art of suggestion, though they can, if desired, enact great changes across the world at a thought or gesture. The Sarâthen draw from the power of Wisdom the gift of foresight, though they are not always correct in their determinations of the future.
And lastly, of course, there must be a race of Eternity, as there is a race for every other power. While the gifts of the other six races clearly draw from their respective powers, the power of Eternity is less easily defined. As such, the race of men have taken it upon them to be the race of Eternity, and thus have found constant strife in knowing that no man can live forever. Death and Darkness are an inherent part of the world for men, despite the presence of Life and Light, and so they alternate between great hope and deep despair in achieving what they see as the final, and greatest, power in Erâth: to exist forever.
Between them, these powers balance the world, and are kept in check by their respective races. While the Namirèn are present for the taking of life, the Mirèn are present for the giving of it, and so too do the Illuèn balance the Duithèn. The survival of all creatures of Erâth depends on this balance; without Light, the Portèn cannot grow tall the trees. Without the Life of trees and plants, the Mirèn would diminish, and so Death and Darkness would come to dominate the world.
Although each of these seven races were given the ability to reform the world, only two have sought to greatly alter Erâth: men, and the Duithèn. No one can tell which came first: the greed of men, or that of Darkness. In their never ending quest to find Eternity, the race of men began to mistrust the other races, seeing them as falsely eternal. They poured their will and effort into finding cures to disease and death, and so alienated the Mirèn, who saw what they were trying to achieve as unnatural.
With the diminishing of the Mirèn, the Namirèn grew stronger, and so Death came once more among the race of men, more than ever. And with Death came Darkness—a great and terrible Darkness that infected the souls of men, and turned them to despair. In this the Duithèn saw a chance to spread their own influence farther than the realm of night to which they were constrained, and so the world grew dark and shadowed, and clouds covered all the land.
In the end, the great war of Erâth came to happen, and the Mirèn were destroyed. With the utter loss of this race, the power of Life was greatly weakened, and ceased to have any influence on the world. It seemed that all life would cease, but in fact this was not the case; without the power of Life, the world continued on, though crippled and greatly weakened. So the races of Erâth learned that the powers of Erâth were not solely responsible for all that occurred—children of men continued to be born, though they often did not live as long as they once had.
With the loss of the power of Life, the balance of Erâth was upset, and the Illuèn were left alone to now not only balance the Duithèn, but resist the spread of Death as well. The Sarâthen were too few to provide any real strength to this resistance, and the Portèn swore not to influence the world ever again, so harmed were they by the weapons of men. Thus Darkness spread across the world, and Death followed in its path. The Illuèn and men were all that were left, and men were weak. So came about the great Darkness of the world.
In the end, the influence of the powers of Erâth declined, and the world was left ever more to its own devices. Men soon forgot their efforts to attain Eternity, and forgot the existence of the other races of power. They came to accept the dark world for what it was, and could not even see the influence of the Duithèn behind it.
After a great age, the nature of Life, Death, Light, Darkness, Strength and Wisdom was relinquished by the races themselves, with the exception of the Duithèn. Even the Namirèn eventually saw the harm that would come to the world if they were left unchecked by Life, and so began to step back from their realm of Death. The Illuèn no longer governed all Light, nor the Namirèn all Death.
The Duithèn continued to grow, however, though they kept this growth secret from the other races. By the time the races of power realized this, however, they were far too weak to resist: the Illuèn were fading from the world entirely, the Namirèn were few, and the Sarâthen had left the world long ago. So men were left on their own to resist the rise of Darkness—something that they were ill-prepared to do, for the race of men are easily corrupted, and give themselves to Darkness often willingly.