TeeCollected Lore of the Astyan People
#1

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The following are part of a series of books written by historian Agathe Croncelle, and donated freely to the Osronan and Therian libraries. They give an interesting depiction of the historic Astyan people, after extensive studies by the author in numerous ruins and historical landmarks.


Of particular interest to many historians - and other certain types of reader - are well-documented details included in each volume of the original scripts in question, including full sketches of once-powerful Astyan runes that typically surrounded the sites.




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~~



'Time Before Time', scripture on Moonfall ruins, est. 301AC

In the beginning came the Creator; who among mortals is known as Kraus, who came from fire and ruin into nothing. With the Creator came the Divine Ones, and their coming created upon their new world a great and mighty energy.

The shaping of all life began with spark, seed, and stream. From chaos; order, and from order; further chaos, forever entangled in the lifeblood and beating heart of our world, and the relentless flow of Time.

It is written that the first of us took shape in this age, when the Divines laboured and toiled and then watched the growth of the new world's creations. The first of us explored this world with awe and wonder, and grew prosperous and strong through the teachings of the Angelic Host*, and the Children of the Divine.

So was born the Infinite Kingdom*, through Knowledge and Compassion, Creativity and Energy, Curiosity and Power for the betterment of all. So was born the Kingdom of Astya.



* 'Infinite Kingdom' has many translations in Astyan; generally most were an attempt to remind everyone of their ancient lineage.
* 'Angelic Host' is often translated several ways due to the word in question being similar to others in the original Astyan and time having taken its toll on existing writing. A secondary translation reads 'Divine Elders'.


~~


Last Address to the People of Astya, Regent Aurea Petrakis*, c. 282-3AC



People of Astya.

Grim days are upon us. It is true that our ancient enemy, Mordred the Perfect, has returned to our lands. No doubt you have seen the huddled refugees, and worried over the massing reserves of soldiers and Archmagi.

I am here today to reassure my Kingdom that there is nothing to fear. Indeed, it is this fear that Mordred uses against us, dividing our strength. Take heart! We have endured for millenia and we will continue to do so after this crisis has been dealt with. Even now, our most powerful Archmagi begin the necessary rituals to deal with Mordred before the threat reaches us.

While it is true that our armies have suffered against the forces of Mordred, we remain strong and vigilant. Our runesmiths are working tirelessly to ensure every soldier is protected against the Occultic arts; our artificer-magi have developed powerful new variants of our standard battle armor; the barriers and wards protecting our cities remain fully powered.

To those fighting for our very survival, what more can be said about your bravery and selflessness? The Legions*, the Scout Forces*, the (untranslated)? The very world trembles at the coming of Mordred, but the warriors of Astya remain defiant.

So draw your blade! Empower your armor! Know that while your heart still beats, the very lifepulse of Eternia itself flows in your veins. You are the Children of the Creator!

Astya Eternal!




* Note: The original speaker of this speech is in dispute; both an Aurea and a Petrakis were certainly present at the time, but no documentation exists for such a regent despite the wording being accurate.
* 'Legions' is the closest modern approximation to the original Astyan word, which was a generalized term for soldiers with subtle differences between command structure.
* 'Scout Forces' is sometimes mistranslated in other writing as 'Rangers'. This is inaccurate; the Astyan word for Ranger meant more of a nature Mage than a military combatant.



~~

Dirge of the Thirteenth, Pre-Osronan Military Ruins, c. 293AC

Farewell fellow warrior, a long and sad farewell ;
to thee, to thee, eternal light and life;
gone, not forgotten, amid the ghosts of Hel ;
(Last stanza missing)


* Note: Of interest is mainly the reference to Helheim, which did not appear in the modern pretext at all in earlier pre-Essharan writing.  It's possible there's a more archaic term the Astyans used for it that has not yet been translated correctly.
~~
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Rear Leaflet: The Original Author, Agathe Croncelle, Known Roustabout and Weirdo. Whereabouts Unknown.
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#2
(This should probably have gone in in character? Whatever)


Collected Lore of the Astyan People, Vol II
Life and Times

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This volume makes an attempt to describe the day-to-day lives of the Astyans, with subsections denoting how their livelihoods, beliefs, and technologies still influence Essharan culture today. While much of it is conjecture, many historians note the high degree of accuracy with historical and contemporary records. Of note is a detailed piece on Essharan Architecture and in the forward, instructions for a meditation ritual that allows skilled Time magi to receive brief glimpses into the distant past. 


Forward:

Attempting to describe the Astyans with any reasonable accuracy is an endeavor in itself.   Most of the existing information is little more than conjecture or folk tales- mythology more than fact. Some precious few of these facts are the best type; the indisputable ones. It's fact that most, if not all, of Esshara's population descends directly from the Astyans, and that the Astyans themselves are one of, if not the, oldest structure-building cultures on Eternia. Their exact origins are so far distant that even attempting to speculate becomes fruitless, and their remaining relics are either impossibly rare at best, or diluted to unrecognizability.

The Astyans were generous, however, in their distribution of ancient ruins. Early scout forces who explored the peninsula, before the main groups of refugees, were each assigned gifted Earth magi in order to raise towers, fortresses, and small towns out of stone and metal. Many of these ruins can still be seen today in various degrees of collapse, and because of the Astyan love of stonecarving, it is from these ruins that we can glean the most information about their people and history.

Remarkably, the more we learn about them, the more we learn how much their influence resonates in Esshar today, and how they might be less different from ourselves than expected.

The following is a meditation system I, the author and researcher of this tome, devised for tugging back the curtain of time and peering into the fog a bit. It requires significant practice and roughly a week of preparation, but can be very instructive. Unfortunately when looking back so far it's impossible to choose a specific timeframe or event, but at least general things can be glimpsed here and there. 


A lengthy description of a Time-focused meditation ritual is described here, using several Astyan runes during the preparation phase. Of note is that several of these runes bear suspiciously close resemblance to known Occultic symbols.
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#3
nope, this is the right place for lore submissions
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#4
Collected Lore II, cont'd

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By all appearances, Astyan civilian life was a peaceful and productive one. Long millenia of stability and progress had created a people of great advancement; crude perhaps in the technological sense by today's standards, they were nevertheless highly advanced for their time and the people benefited from this in many ways. Standards of hygiene, education, and magical learning* were quite high, particularly by the Astyan 'Golden Age' in the Middle Mythic Era*.

Much of Astya's great might came due to their great capacity for magic of all varieties, and several long-standing programs that encouraged the magical arts to flourish in all avenues of society. Their coinage system was an interesting one; early skill in empowering objects with energy allowed them to use only a single type of coin; and then grant it greater value by enchanting it permanently with a tiny fraction of their own power. By the Late Mythic Era, startling advancements in both runecasting and forging had allowed them to embed an enchantable mesh* into their coins and gemstones - and, later, armor and weapons - which gave rise to an incredibly wealthy elite society of Archmagi. 

Magic was such a part of life and the early flow of magic so strong, that non-Magi were a relative rarity in such times. Despite that, the Astyans treated non-Magi well, and many were given prominent places in society -- but only when subsidized by an Archmage. For small, private sales, generally the barter system was used, with a flourishing trade in homemade magical artifacts used as trading objects. While trinkets by Astyan standards, today these relics are highly valued and extremely rare. 

The Astyans were skilled smiths and artisans, with high-quality forges typically using plasma-based magic*. While their artwork, engineering, and construction were perhaps uncreative by Essharan standards, their extremely high standard of quality allowed their creations to last long after regular maintenance stopped. Typically of highest value to today's historians and explorers are indoor ruins; these have usually been shielded from the elements and typically are avoided by superstitious locals and thus aren't as badly looted as more modern abandoned areas.

While contemporary descriptions in some other cultures depict the Astyans as a relatively dour and humorless people, numerous recovered artifacts, scriptures, and stonecarvings depict otherwise; they held a great love of oratory debate, theatre, and artwork. Indeed, may other cultures 'inherited' numerous Astyan traits; their use of the mysterious spiral motif is similar to some Gehennan* artwork, suggesting an early cultural exchange. 



*Magical Learning: See 'The Flying University; the Astyan Education Model' Vol I, 1543AC
*Middle Mythic Era: Scholars are divided as to when the peak of the Astyan Golden Age began and ended. Generally the start of the Astyan Decline corresponds with the end of the Middle Mythic; usually agreed on around the War of Nightmares.
*Enchantable Mesh: See: 'Academy Archives Script #44881: Astyan Rune-Wiring'; see also 'Osronan Times c.1672 : Fenossi Orchilacum Wiring Patent Declared Illegitimate By Crown, Citing Astyan Historical Origin'
*Plasma Forges: The Astyans had extremely efficient forges, though today's melting temperatures have since surpassed them. Several Astyan methods are still unknown to us, such as the alloying of Nyeshk and Mythril, though today's metals are both lighter and stronger than Astyan equivalents due to better modern impurity removal methods.
*Gehennan Artwork: There are many examples of modern and historical art that lends credence to an Astyan origin, though none is quite as obvious as the Gehennan spiral. Astyan relics carried this design many millenia before it appeared in Gehennan architecture, though its original purpose or meaning is still a mystery.
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#5
Collected Lore, Volume III
The Astyan Military

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This book contains much speculation, as warned by the author in the forward. The vast majority of the Astyan military was used to hold off Mordred until the final escape; thus few military artifacts have survived through the long ages and so information about it is spotty at best. Despite that, it's clear that much research was done to compare modern military methods with the known equivalent Astyan ones.



Looking back through even non-Astyan contemporary historical records it's clear that the Astyan military was a predominant part of their long and continued success. Even the spotty literature regarding the Mythic Era has always touted the prevalent warrior culture. As worldwide centralization occurred under the form of governments, the need for military defense became a concern; the Astyans had long since cornered the market however on the development of military research and was vastly more advanced than their peers, who in their general opinion were mere unenlightened barbarians*.

This sense of superiority was compounded by a genuine giftedness in the magical arts that stemmed from their origin in the foggy murk of pre-history - it was clear even to their enemies that the Astyans had vast control and knowledge over Eternia's brimming pool of energy*. Their general mythological explanation was gifts from the 'Divine Ones', though scholars to this day still debate who precisely those were or if they even existed at all.

Our knowledge on the exact structure and makeup of the Astyan army is spotty at best, though it's known there was at least a simple hierarchial structure of civilian militia*, common soldiers, elite heavily armored infantry*, and advanced scout forces. All in the Astyan military had to be magi, and generally the stronger one's natural gifts, the higher levels of veterancy one could achieve. 

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Astyan Heavy Infantry, restored stone etching, c.255AC

The Astyan military model focused primarily on small, powerful, mobile units over large battlefield deployments. These elite companies had long histories often spanning thousands of years but had far less independence than today's mercenary companies and were funded and equipped entirely by the Crown. Unfortunately only knowledge of these company's existence has been found, and none of their actual names or legacies, but some current archaeological sites have borne promising results.*

Each company was generally from three to ten elite magi, lead by an 'Archmage' or 'Warlord', two of the highest military ranks one could achieve. 

Generally, an Astyan military target would be scouted by a scout company to build a solid foundation of attack and defense points; these scout forces would join the main attack or defense force at a pre-arranged time. Their tactics were predominantly based on both hit-and-run by the light forces, and hammer-and-anvil maneuvers by heavy infantry companies. These heavy infantry were equipped with highly advanced armor for their time, capable of being worn for long periods and both enchantable and maintainable by common soldiers in the field. Unfortunately, knowledge of their construction was lost in the fall of Astya.

It's possible both men and women served in the Astyan military equally*, though artwork from the era is scarce and typically does not show any signs of gender in their depictions of warriors in armor.

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Astyan Scout Armor; possible female variant, restored stone etching, c.249AC


Numerous Astyan military funeral sites have been found in the Essharan peninsula; many of them the last resting places of Astyan scout forces who initially explored the continent and had to tame whatever nameless beasts already lived there. Their funerary rites were quite simple, with one of two methods being used: either stone-cairn burial with numerous runes and inscriptions surrounding the site*, or cremation into long-lasting ceramic urns. In all cases examined so far, there has been inscribed a dirge or poem near the burial site; though it's not mentioned in any historical writing, it's likely this tradition goes back well into the Early Mythic.


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" Astya Eternal", Preserved painting found in manor ruin, c. 1244AC, Time-magic survey dated c.95-105AC






* Numerous Astyan literary references are found in the Late Mythic Era regarding Astya's neighbouring Kingdoms, most of whom they considered young and brash upstarts and conquered them whenever possible. However, after the Astyan Decline, their military might waned significantly and the Astyan border continued to shrink over the centuries.

* It's disputed highly exactly how much stronger Magi were during the Mythic Era; legends tend to be exaggerated over time. Despite all this a thread of constancy remains through non-Astyan sources stating that the Astyans were, in fact, particularly gifted in all forms of magic, much to their great envy. Several references exist to "streams" in Astyan literature, though what they could be referring to specifically tends to be unknown.


* Use of Militia: Only in the Astyan Decline did the use of civilians for military purposes begin; before that, all militaries were elite cadres of extremely gifted Magi and no 'rank and file' whatsoever. However, the urgent and frantic defense against Mordred and his demonic hordes required the mobilizing of every part of Astyan society, and these low-echelon troops were given whatever was on hand to defend themselves with.


* Elite Infantry: The Astyans took great pride in their heavy infantry forces; these were despite the armor, quite powerful Magi with many years of training before they entered the battlefield. This extreme discipline allowed their mere presence on the battlefield to cause many foes to scatter. Many of them rose through the ranks to become powerful and influential Archmagi; unfortunately during the Astyan Decline and the final battles, roughly 98% of the entire elite company units and millennia's worth of equipment were lost.


* Equality: Scholars have been in hot dispute about this issue for many centuries. It's obvious that many Archmagi in the military were women, and many prominent leaders were as well. However, exactly how many were in the military structure itself is unknown. Several 'possibly female' variants of their standard armor are depicted in some artwork, though the sources of these too are disputed.


* Runes: Though many of the funeral runes surrounding Astyan burial sites have been deciphered, many have not. This author personally has studied many in the Vale of Moonfall and the only thing of note besides the lovely poetry was the regular use of what I can only assume were runes drawing on the power of Time. Unfortunately non were active after so many millennia but it begs the question of what their purpose was. To keep time from desecrating the site, perhaps?
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#6
Collected Lore, Vol IV: Decline & Fall



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Preserved Oil Painting, c. 344AC, "Remember The Wall"



Editor's Note: This volume contains the most references to occultism in all the Collected Works, yet congruently also contains the highest frequency of known Occultic symbols. These have by and large been subtly removed from all published volumes distributed in Osronan and Therian bookstores.


Despite the long history of the Astyans being recorded in many works - particularly stone carvings - the exact circumstances of their great and ancient empire's decline is still widely debated. Generally there are two main theories; the slow decline, and a rapid downfall. Most theories however agree that the beginning of the end for the Astyan people was the ascension of Amelia Eliade. History does not treat her particularly well -- indeed, most relevant documents were scrubbed clean of her presence long before the end.

The first theory considers the long period after the awakening of occultic magic and the heavy (presumed) tampering of the flow of Time by an unidentified Petrakis (in astronomical history, this was also the first known sighting of the star Yauntu, a notable harbinger of ill omen). Though the details of these events have largely been lost to history, it's undeniable that later costly wars and civil strife left the once-great Astyan-territory growing ever smaller. These independent territories would expand to become today's powerful kingdoms and empires.

The second theory points to the continued longevity of the Astyan Kingdom itself for proof that its existence might have continued indefinitely, were it not for the outside invasion of Mordred. It's this singular war that, the theory claims, immediately began a rapid and irreversible process of disintegration. The Astyan military, once thought invincible, were swiftly defeated and the Astyan heartlands left unprotected, allowing Mordred a swift assault on the capital and the general rout of all remaining citizens, and the kingdom became a ruined wasteland for centuries thereafter.


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Copper Engraving found in Astyan Tomb, c. 310AC 


Details of the actual escape from Astya are understandably sketchy at best; most so-called 'contemporary' accounts have generally been found to be written hundreds of years later. What's known for certain is the remaining Astyan refugees were transported by Divine providence to relative safety; a side-effect of which was a slow descent into obscurity and eventual disappearance from the historical record, as well as the subsequent growth and eventual dominance of Esshar itself, from the ashes of a dead culture.

Today, we are left with only what relics Time has chosen to keep behind. Most interesting are their runes and scripts, found in many places throughout Esshar in the form of standing stones, ancient monuments, abandoned fortresses, and ancient stone buildings. Even after millennia, their once-powerful control of magic makes exploration of these places a dangerous prospect. 



Addendum; The People of Sorrow


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In the early days of Astyan exploration of Aegis after their flight from the homelands, they came upon a strange and elusive people who nevertheless aided the refugees in their search to find a new place to settle; by all accounts this was in fact an early tribe of who we know today as the Magnolians. Their own history is even more elusive than that of the Astyans, who've at least left a lasting legacy of Essharan families, and crumbling relics of a bygone era.

These early refugees lost much of their ancient and vast knowledge on the flight from Astya; most of the survivors had been civilians and noncombatants. It's speculated in some sources that the Magnolians granted the refugees some kind of assistance, not the least of which was the encouraging gift of the lands west of the mountains, with no-doubt strong hints to stay on that side. 

The earliest pre-Osronan writings confirm the arrival of the 'People of Sorrow' to the peninsula in roughly 284 AC - these writings are contradictory on the exact makeup of these people beyond them having the tattered remnants of a once-advanced military force (likely the last of the Astyan Scouts) along with a large group of civilians. 

Epilogue

What is the lesson we can learn from history? There are many -- and indeed the most clear lesson of all is that even the greatest among us can be driven to great depths by the merciless flow of Time and the insidious hand of the Occult. The history of the Astyan people is indeed a history of the Essharan people, for their birthright lives on. One only needs to look to the grand Magi of the Osronan noble families to see what became of the Astyan's famously powerful magical talent, despite their remarkable advances and culture being lost to us. 
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#7
Collected Lore, Vol. V: Known Relics & Artifacts


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The second-last tome in the series, Volume 5 is a noble attempt by the researcher at an exhaustive and definitive list of known and confirmed objects of Astyan origin. The origin of the majority seem largely speculative, due to a lack of surviving evidence. Of all the works in the Collected Lore series, this tome has been most argued over by historians and some of the listings are more controversial than others. This particular work is most referenced by modern archaeologists and artifact hunters, usually in an attempt to prove an Astyan lineage for some relic being sold.


Identification of Astyan artifacts is a difficult and laborious process - generally, the only way of being entirely sure of an artifact's origin is to find at least two references to it in ancient writings or script. Of course, given the scarcity of such ancient data, such a provenance can be difficult, if not impossible, to accurately establish. As such, possible alternate origins are mentioned whenever the true origins can't be certified.



The Adonai, Golden Staff of the Sovereign
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Origin: Petrakis Dynasty, Mythic Era
Crafter: Jorvik Petrakis (assumed)

Description: 

The Adonai was for millennia a symbol of the ruling power of the Petrakis lineage and a metaphysical representation of the Divine blessings the Astyans cultivated. Supposedly crafted by a particularly skilled Metal-shaping Petrakis prince, it was gifted to a 'Queen Amara Petrakis' early in Astya's expansionist phase and was a treasured symbol of power for thousands of years. It was systematically improved over centuries with concentrated and overlapping application of complex enchantments, and occasionally loaned to champions of the Petrakis dynasty. Its specific powers are never mentioned in any ancient writing.

Fate:

The Adonai's fate is only sparsely documented in ancient Essharan sources; most point to the staff being lost in the final defense and escape, c. 280AC. 




Liber Daemonicus, aka the Book of Elaide
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Origin: Archmagi Elaide, Mythic Era
Crafter: Uncertain (assumed Archmagi Elaide)
Description: 
Though the origins of demonkind are a hotly contested topic among both scholars and theologians, none can settle the matter with quite as much certainty as the original handbook. Much knowledge of the Book is driven by speculation, not surprising considering the heretical nature of it. The only extant writing on the Liber Daemonicus is from a ruined Astyan temple site and sporadic mention in other sources (where Elaide is even mentioned at all). Supposedly, the Book of Elaide contains half-mad (but brilliant) conjecturing on the very nature of magic itself, leading to the subsequent Astyan exploration into occultic energy sources.
Fate:
The Liber Daemonicus is last mentioned in an Osronan Church script from 941AC, mentioning that a group of Therian peddlars had attempted to sell them something of that name, described as 'a revolting pile of smoldering rags'. (subsequent arrest, search, and summary execution of the traders turned up, apparently, nothing of interest save for a strong taint of occultic magic lingering near the Therians). 




The Ruby Swimsuit
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Origin: Astyan Design Festival, c. 60AC

Crafter: Juriah Altis, Altis Gemworks
Description: 

A bi-yearly event in Astyan culture, the Design Festival was a showcase of fashion and art, much of which would be used as the following year's noble dress. In later eras of the Astyan Kingdom, this festival would grow increasingly more competitive, with progressively larger prizes given out to the chosen winners (as well as numerous offers for designing garments for Astyan nobility). The festival of 60AC was won by a Juriah Altis, as his ruby-crafted swimsuit was given the only perfect score ever awarded by judges in the long history of the festival. Later, the swimsuit was gifted to the Astyan royal family, the matriarch of whom subsequently had it enchanted and wore it into battle on numerous occasions.

Fate:

The Ruby Swimsuit, once thought lost in the flight from the Kingdom, is now known to have survived, having been gifted to the Queen of Valmasia on her birthday shortly before Mordred's invasion. Its current whereabouts, if it still exists, are unknown, though occasional rumors about a remarkably similar garment have continuously resurfaced in various cities over the decades.




The Chronolens, aka The Mad Eye of Time
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Origin: Astya, Early Mythic Era (probably)

Crafter: Unknown; See Below
Description: 

Out of all Astyan artifacts, the Chronolens is possibly the one with the least archaeology-friendly history. Indeed, its own past is a muddled mess of temporal loops and unpleasant paradoxes of space and time, making tracing its construction virtually impossible. Even the Astyan themselves, in the few times the Lens is mentioned, invariably note that nobody was quite sure how it actually works anymore (hinting at its quite ancient construction) or how to use it. In gluing together the Eye of Time's various mentions throughout the historical record, it's clear that the relic itself has some kind of underlying mechanic or agenda that nobody else can figure out - inevitably, after being activated and used, the Lens always initiates some kind of Time-ripple and disappears entirely. Entire centuries subsquently pass before the Lens is again mentioned, inexplicably reappearing somewhere - and somewhen- else in the world.  
Fate:

In 877AC the Chronolens was known to be activated, emitting a well-described pulse of Time energy across the continents (subsquently noted in many records). The effects of this pulse or what significance there was on that date is still being debated by scholars. Since then, known activations of the Lens (or their effects) are rare, and the Lens itself, due to its internal manipulation of the flow of Time, can by definition never be certifiably located. With the power of the Chronolens, it's even possible that it has not, in fact, been created yet, and instead merely appeared  first in the Early Mythic Era in Astyan hands.
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