Lantern Year Two

The four founders regaled the other survivors with stories of their epic battle against the White Lion. At the end of every day, the Survivors would gather around the Sacred Pool to hear their stories of how they crippled its unusually human hands or sliced strips of hide from its flanks. As Solterra grew in size, the Survivors realized they needed to hunt more quarry if they were to outfit their entire Settlement with armor and weapons. The settlement calls upon its founders and their renowned Founding Stones* to set out in search of another White Lion in hopes that they may bring back more of its gleaming fur and sturdy bones to build weapons. 

However, two of those founders had other plans.  In the realm of Kingdom Death, Lantern Years can span ages or minutes. Aurora and Sun had birthed the first children to Solterra Settlement, and they believed that even the young must prove their merit to the sacred Sun. Solaria and Sun were nominated in their stead to hunt the White Lion. Apollo and Dawn, feeling a great kindred to their fellow founders, were honored to be given charge of these Sun children. They vowed to train them to be strong and stalwart in the face of death and that they would avenge their deaths in battle if need be. 

Painted by a user on DakkaDakka. 
As they set out upon the hunt, Dawn discovered a White Lion Claw. She taught Sol and Solaria how to use their [Fists and Teeth] if they should lose their Founding Stones in battle. During their hunt, the Survivors began to notice that they had lost time. They could not explain how they knew, but worried that they would lose their quarry, they hurried onward. Little did they know, the clattering of their Founding Stones and lanterns would draw something even more dangerous to them. 

Suddenly a ground began to shake. Before their very feet, a great worm burst from the ground. Its hide was covered in a mosaic of screaming faces. Terrified, they froze in body and mind, trying to comprehend the majesty and horror of this giant worm. As the worm rounded upon them, they ran. They ran with little regard for where they might be running. They had known at their core that any attempt to fight this beast would result in them most likely being devoured whole and the people of Solterra would never receive the bounty they needed to protect the Sacred Pool.

Their sense of duty served them well, though, because they came upon the trail of another White Lion. Uneasy with their earlier cowardice, they fought the White Lion ruthlessly. They flanked it repeatedly from all sides until it lay dying among the acanthus, Sol vowed to bring his parents great honor by bringing back the White Lion's shimmering mane. Using only his arrowhead, he sheared the mane clear and wore it about his shoulders as a stole on the journey back to Solterra. 

When they returned, everyone knew Sol was changed. He seemed Possessed. Solaria too was changed, as she had become Fated. To honor them Sol and his sister, the people of Solterra built a Weapon Crafter. During the feasting and celebration, Aurora and Apollo came together once again. 

Eventually, the settlement turned to their beds with full stomach and hearts swelling with stories of victory. One Survivor could not sleep - Solaria. She lay awake, admiring the Rawhide Armor she had built for herself. Suddenly, from the edges of the shadow that ringed the settlement, she heard a scream that broke the silence of the slumbering settlement in two. People all around her began to wake, afraid that a new monster had discovered their beloved Solterra. 

As Apollo woke, he saw that his daughter was frozen in terror, clutching her new armor. He heard the screams and crying of his fellow Survivors. He felt the Voice of Reason swell within him, and so he gathered everyone around him and began to speak. He spoke about the terribleness of the Kingdom Death realm they all inhabited, of monsters so great and terrible that they could not even be comprehended. As he did so, the fears and and tears grew into an madness. The settlement chanted a heady battle cry under the light of the Sun, willing the monsters to seek our Solterra. From thereon, he became known as the Orator of Death

Months later, when the wail was heard again from the darkness, a baby boy was borne into the waters of the Sacred Pool. When he came of age, the boy Cyrus was sent out in search of the beast that wails. 

Lantern Year Three

The next lantern year, Cyrus set out upon his journey to discovering the beast that wailed in the darkness. Its screams had been growing louder, and the people of Solterra suspected that it could see the brilliance of the Sun and that is was drawing closer every day. Solaria, Aurora, and Sun volunteered to accompany Cyrus on his first hunt. 

As they crept through the darkness, they could hear the beast. As they hunted, they came upon a pile of [Large Flat Teeth]. Aurora had stepped on the pile by mistake, and the teeth skittered and clattered in the darkness. Their noise startled the beast ahead of them, and they heard it run from them. Eager to catch their quarry, they hurried onward, Aurora stooping down quickly to grasp one of the teeth. 

Finally, they saw it. It was a Screaming Antelope with a giant, snapping maw of a stomach. Its wails hardened their hearts and their fists, and they attacked it mercilessly. Though it tried to run from them many times, it was ultimately easy prey. As they fought, they narrowly avoided a Pool of Lava, but they also harvested several Acanthus Plants. Such an easy prey it was! Cyrus and the others were victorious. They stripped the carcass it of its pelt and its teeth, and Cyrus cleaned its shank bones to return to the settlement's Bone Smith.  

When they returned, the people of Solterra applauded Cyrus and they built a Leather Worker in his name. Impressed by Cyrus strength and blood thirst in battle, Dawn went to him in the night. Little did they know that they would birth a beautiful baby girl named Aurelia many months later. 

The celebration of Cyrus would be cut short when the Plague came to Solterra, though. Several of the survivors became ill. Some were able to overcome the sickness easily. Sadly for Dawn and Solaria, the people of Solterra did not know medicines, and both succumbed to the Plague. Aurora, in her great wisdom, declared that the settlement would Cannabalize its dead. She believed that even in death, these precious survivors could continue to support the settlement and ensure its survival. 

The armor and weapons that had belonged to Solaria and Dawn were ritualistically cleaned and bequeathed to Aurora. In memorial of their legendary hunts and contributions to Solterra, Symposiums were held so that other survivors could learn the art of the hunt and contribute their own unique skills to the settlement.

The people of Solterra mourned their loss for some time. As their grief began finally to lift though, their settlement was shrouded in another type of darkness. Stale rain and fits of light punctuated the darkness. The survivors sensed that another monster was approaching, and their madness began to grow. Sol, prepared to Brave the Storm, rallied the people of Solterra to stand together against the raging winds. They toiled endlessly until they had built one Hovel, and then another, and then another, and so on. As they worked, the wind and rain unearthed several more broken lanterns, and the Survivors felt hopeful that they can begin to fight back against the storm, the monsters, and the enveloping darkness.
*If you upend the founding stone card, the female face shard becomes a male face shard. Merry Christmas!