A Compendium of Dust

Chang-ning, April 28th, 264 AB

For the first time I stand in the grand city of Chang-ning, City of Eternal Tranquility, steadfast capital of the Western Republic that lies beyond the Dunes and the Endless Salts. While the people of the Burren were scraping grains from the dust and huddling in ruins of the old world for shelter, the people of the Western Range were laying the foundations for new cities of stone and inscribing their history. It is in the hope of discovering these invaluable documents of our past that I have traveled across the Wastes to this distant republic.

After much pleading, persuasion, and patient waiting, my appeals have at last been answered and I have been granted access to the Archives of the Scholars’ Palace where the written records are kept. There I have been permitted to view the Chronicles of the Ending and Rebirth of the World, the great historical compendium compiled by the scholar Chen Ming in Anno Belli 125, not long after the founding of Chang-ning itself.

The five books of the Chronicles tell the path of humanity’s trajectory from shortly before the beginning of the Great War in 0 AB, that cataclysmic annum from which we count all other events, up to Chen Ming’s own time, which he counted the Age of Dust. The volumes are as follows:

Book I – The Last Days of Sumin the Prophet (10 AAB–0 AB)
Book II – The Events of Year Zero (0 AB)
Book III – The Decades of War (0 AB–50 AB)
Book IV – The Years of Red Death (50 AB–100 AB)
Book V – The Age of Dust (100 AB– )

These pages are attended by copious glosses and volumes of commentary written by generations of scholars in the intervening annums, but the source materials have not been preserved, nor has any new history been added since his time.

Were I to write a new Book VI to accompany this series, I believe I would entitle it The Age of Air — for surely that is the time that we live in, dating from 212 AB, the annum when Gabriel first took flight aboard the Icarus. In following his example and taking to the skies, I believe we have already begun to rise out of the dust of the war and look up into our future, though we do not yet know what it holds. But my task is not to tell the future but the past, and I will remain here in Chang-ning for as long as I may and learn what I can from these crumbling pages.

Written by Edgar Lusse, Historian

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