A recovered manuscript with a chilling tale ...

The following manuscript was reputedly recovered by explorers from Paxdei when they discovered the ruins of a planet they named Terra. Authorship is unknown, and authenticity is questionable.

Once upon a time, there was a beautiful and abundant land between two life-sustaining oceans. From north to south and east to west, the earth was rich with wild flora and fauna. The land was so vast, its northern fringes challenged the inhabitants with frigid temperatures and expanses of seemingly unending ice. To the south, tropical breezes kissed the flesh of those who lived there, while intense heat taught the denizens the value of stillness.

Wondrous expanses of forest shared this place called Turtle Island with plains, mountains, deserts, untamed rivers and fecund river deltas, pristine shores and, in its remotest corners, glaciers that seemed eternal.

For generations, the people who dwelled both on and with the land lived peacefully. Sometimes neighboring tribes raided and pillaged, but for the most part, the land provided for the people, and the people honored the land.

Alas, there came a day when boats, the likes of which had never been seen, arrived from the ocean to the east. And people! Such pasty people who lacked color for their skins and color for their souls: a humorless breed driven by the absolute righteousness of their noble mission and a firm conviction of their superior standing among God's creatures.

These new people came from lands wracked by brutal wars: wars of conquest and wars of retribution; religious wars and wars of extermination. And each time the priests and rulers found new grounds for battle, their god was always, always on their side; for theirs was a god of fear and vengeance, a cruel and distant god as joyless as his followers.

Unfamiliar with a god (and a people) so remote from the earth, a god who never laughed and never danced, the inhabitants of Turtle Island at first welcomed the strangers and generously began to teach them the ways of the land. The people did not know the newcomers called them "savages" and "heathens" destined for "eternal damnation."

It would take centuries before the significance of "the arrival," as it came to be called, would bear its bitterest fruit. But before too long, as each new wave of aliens from lands across the water grew more numerous and demanded more space, the first people were increasingly pushed, deceived and slaughtered. As the newcomers plundered their way across the mountains and plains to reach the deserts and the western ocean, their sense of righteous certainty assured them they would prevail.

And prevail they did.

And then they were lost.

But first, for a smidgen of time, part of old Turtle Island became the wealthiest and most profligate of nations. Its rulers, driven by hubris and greed, wearing a mask of piety hiding a shriveled spirit and drunk on the arrogance of power, forged an empire out of a devastated land.

Oh, it was an ugly time of endless wars, sometimes with brother fighting brother, and each always certain of the rectitude of his position. There were, of course, those urging sanity, making impassioned arguments for reason. Yet the number who believed in perpetual evil, who thought peace was never attainable on this earth but was death's reward reserved for those favored by their wrathful god, continued to increase.

With each passing generation, the technology of destruction grew more complex and more efficient. The killing fields that once served as brutal reminders of war's horror were reduced to distant targets not unlike the bizarre games young children played.

The voices of moderation and hope grew weak as grim fear blanketed the nation. With each succeeding generation, the rulers held to a withering number of scruples as they obsessively pursued their ends.

In the early years of Terra's final century, artifice in the service of zeal and fanaticism defeated the dwindling forces of enlightenment. After fanatics of a different stripe attacked the empire in a tragic display of extremism wed to madness, the people grew still more fearful, more insular and bellicose. Soon fear punctuated most daily actions, and people became more willing to listen to soothing lies rather than face troubling truth.

And so it happened that the empire began to crumble and fall. Fear cannot sustain itself forever. It turns first to numbness before it expires to be transformed into a whisper of hope.

In the last years of the empire, as if waking from some stupor, there began to occur faint stirrings of dissatisfaction among the portion of the populace who, until that time, had cooperated with their own duping. In an unprecedented ...

This is the only known extant portion of the manuscript. It is clear from the final fragment an event of significance occurred. Regardless of what transpired, at the time the manuscript was found, Terra had long been uninhabitable. Why remains unknown.

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