Legend of eCritters

In ancient times, before eCritters came to be, Crittannia was a changeless, barren world. Nothing grew or swam in the world's vast ocean, unbroken by land except a single jagged spire, one nameless island. The old gods, true and pure, existed without bodies atop the island's peak, experimenting with the powers of creation. Wind and weather came first, bringing change to a world that had known only warm, sunny days. Waves crashed against the island and the gods listened. There was no joy, no pleasure in the act of creation, for they were perfect beings then, without feelings or failings.

Eons passed before the first life was born, when the gods brought forth new islands in the image of their home and they decorated the shallows of each with different aquatic plants, in a wealth of colours, shades, and shapes. Next the grand land, Thiboria, divided the great ocean in two and the gods traveled across the continent, making hills and valleys, lakes and rivers. Here they took advantage of climate, a product of the land and weather, and covered the continent with diverse plants, from the green canopies of the rainy places to the hardy weeds that clung to life in the deserts. When they had finished, the gods returned to their peak and they saw the whole of their creation and found it lacking. In that moment was born the first feeling and the gods realized they were lonely.

They say that the first eCritter was a Zeka, that it looked up in gratitude at the gods with its bleary new-born eyes and they knew pride for the first time. Then all across Crittannia, new things crawled, walked, swam, and flew. The gods took bodies and lived among their creations, sharing wisdom with all sapient beings, and they experienced love and joy. All species coexisted peacefully, as the gods had given each their own place, their own plants to eat. The gods told stories of the birth of the world and the eCritters repeated them.

The whole world was open to the eCritters, except that one nameless island; the very sight of it was forbidden to all life. Whispers spread from one species to another, rumours about the island of the gods. Why should it be secret? What did the gods have to hide? Creatures of the land spoke to those of the sea, begging them to swim close to the island, to catch just a glimpse of the forbidden spire, and return with knowledge of it. They refused and retreated deep into the water and for a thousand years they did not speak to their earthly brethren. When asked, the creatures of the air chattered and chided, and they too honoured the boundaries that had been set out by the gods. Then, one of the four-legged ones, a creature with a long grasping tail, proposed a grand solution; they would build a tower to the gods, so tall that when they stood on top they would be able to see the whole world. Then they would sneak a peek at the island.

The gods watched with pride as all the land species worked together to build the grand tower. But as the years passed and the tower grew ever taller, ever greater, pride gave way to a new feeling: jealousy. Why should the eCritters build something so magnificent? It was for the gods to create and the eCritters to admire. The gods left their bodies and returned to their island, where they brooded and eyed the tower. The eCritters built in earnest then, terrified that they had been abandoned forever by their gods. When it was finished, they reasoned, the gods would see that they were loved. When the island was in sight, they would stand on top of the tower and plead with them to return. But when the day came, the earth rumbled and shook and the tower collapsed under its own weight. Many labourers died under the ruins of the tower. Worse still, the island that had been Crittannia's first land was gone. Although the eCritters had never seen the island, they were as conscious of its absence, and they felt as if they had each lost a limb.

Aching with loss and anger, the eCritters turned against the species that had suggested building the tower, chasing it away from its lands. It is said that as those hunted beings fled in fear, the fur on their tails puffed up three times it usual size and stayed that way, and they were renamed the Kyrian. In their desperation, they were the first to taste the flesh of another species, the first in a line of omnivores and carnivores that would change the balance of Crittannian life. No longer did all species live in peace; some turned gleefully to killing and others became reclusive. Suspicion and mistrust spread as a ripple from land, to sea, to air. The eCritters now knew good and evil. And so things settled into a new order, where change came through the will and conflicts of the eCritters and the gods no longer interacted with the world they had made. The eCritters believed they were masters of their own destiny. So things continued, unchanged, until the humans came.

The humans fell from the sky and claimed the lands they found as their own. They spoke of a world where the air was poison and the crops shrivelled from contact with the soiled water, where magic was unknown and strange tools commonplace. The humans fought with words amongst themselves, twisting their knowledge and their history to their purposes. Some claimed that the eCritters were beneath them, that they should taken into slavery and used to build a new human civilization. Others viewed the eCritters with pity, as children who needed parents to guide them. Some said that the eCritters need not be involved in human matters at all, that they should be left to their own devices. Those who re-examined human history shrieked about the injustice of it all, that the eCritters should be free to make their own decisions, that humans were repeating the mistakes made on their own world.

And the eCritters knew that their future depended on the whims and mercies of these frail, gifted outsiders. This choice is your own, human. How will you treat us, we who have always been here?