In this series, we will listen to some of the countless storytellers found in Bukana. Just like the real world Philippines, the Sea of Skulls has a strong oral tradition and there is never a shortage of tales: truth, lies, and sometimes both.
“None of what I’m about to tell you is true. How could it be? All of the characters in this story are dead; well… except for Them. With no one to color that which they witnessed, perhaps that makes this account even more true. Regardless of whether it is the truth or not, it is what happened. This I know.
Before there was anything, there was nothing. There was nothing, but there was also one. It could not be, but it was. In the quiet womb of oblivion, the One gestated. How long it was there, how long it grew, is irrelevant – time did not yet exist to arbitrarily decide when something started or when it ended. Eventually, the One had its first thought; rather it was more of a feeling than a thinking. With that first act of consciousness, the peaceful state of non-existence was forever sundered. The One became two as everything flooded into the Nothing that had always been. The newborn gods (for if they were not gods, then what were they?) sprang into being separated by a seething torrent of reality. The upper god found itself near the source of the river where pure possibility gently bubbled up from a wellspring of what could be. The lower god was cast down to the mouth of the course where, having spent its rage, the flow drifted impotently back out into the void. Between them lay an endless storm where the river became a turbulence of conflict as tributaries split, formed rapids, then crashed back into themselves. The twins sought to quiet the cacophony of unchecked power; they longed for the calm they only vaguely remembered from before.
The upper realm was a place of potential and its god saw what the raw energy of being could become, if only it were nurtured and crafted into a perfect form. This twin became Order and sought to tame the chaos into structured boundaries. In contrast, its sibling witnessed the end result of the maelstrom and came to realize the ultimate futility of its furor. It knew that peace could only be found with the utter eradication of reality and so it became Destruction. Sadly, despite their common goal, the twins were now at cross purposes. Order built its Skyworld around the source and Destruction fashioned its Underworld from the flotsam of the tempest. Here they sat each without the means to overcome the schemes of the other. It was Order that attempted to break the stalemate. It sought to harness the limitless power of the maelstrom, but when it reached in, something stirred. Unbeknownst to the siblings, the raw stuff of pandemonium had congealed into entities of utter madness. Awoken from their birthing slumber, these aberrations tore forth to threaten the gods and their domains. In desperation, the twins worked together to vanquish this new threat. They gave these Old Ones names: Tsathoggua, Ithaqua, Hastur, and many more besides. This weakened them and gave the Two power over the beasts. Order fashioned a net from its most rigid rules and formulae and cast it around the maelstrom. As it drew the net tighter and tighter, Destruction encased the entirety in a shell of detritus until it was thick enough to force Them back into sleep. Thus the Middleworld was formed – the realm of mortals.
Ignoring any lesson that could have been learned from its previous attempt, Order once again sought to gain the upperhand against the agenda of its twin. The sky god fashioned a myriad of forms from the inert material that made up the Old Ones’ prison, but this time imbued them with a minute wisp of its divinity. This new life grew and populated the Middleworld. In an attempt to protect its creation from its dark twin, Order fashioned humans as wardens and defenders. Destruction looked on and saw its own opportunity. Although it could not create, the lower god warped the creations of its sibling by insinuating a sliver of its own being into their souls. Soon eternal summer gave way to harsh winter, day became night, organisms killed and consumed each other, and disease ran rampant. Some living things, once pure and just, were perverted into new, hideous forms and a multitude of stygian creatures were birthed. The most intelligent mortals, humans and the races formed from them, immediately began to worship their creators and through them the hidden power of their realm was channeled back to the twins. However, in giving their creations a portion of their selves, the gods erred. The very existence of the twins now rested with the beliefs of the mortals that venerate them. It was not long before humanity and other peoples fractured and sought new lands to settle. In their journeys, each group of people began to alter their worldviews and thus their perceptions and understanding of their gods deviated from one another. Once again the gods were torn apart. Over the millennia of migration and dispersal, the substance of what was once Order and Destruction have been divided again and again as new gods are conceived by mortal impressions. Now with only an uncertain notion of what they were before, these young gods carve the Sky- and Underworlds into petty fiefdoms and call their chosen souls back to them in order to wage neverending war amongst themselves for dominion; each unknowingly seeking a tranquility they no longer remember.”
– translation of cave wall carvings; Ministry of the Most Holy Thought and Word, Llang Dynasty – Date Unknown