Introduction

In the beginning, there was only sky and sea.

There was Divinity once. True divinity. Unshackled by humanity. It is all at once nothingness and everything. It is the universal consciousness, the greatest soul. It does not feel, it does not hunger. It exists, so that we can exist. It has many names. EL, DYEUS, PRAJAPATI, ESWARA, BRAHMAN, SIVA, PARAMESHWARA, BHAGABAN, BATARA GURU, BALAHALA, MANANAM, MALAUN, BATHALA…

It is not transcendent. It is not God. It is existence and non-existence.

We are the stories it sings to itself.

Then, there were gods. The gods warred. That war has been forgotten, but from the corpses of the gods and the blood spilled, multiple universes arose. The Multiplicity.

Nature, sick of all the division and war, fused all the universes into one. It became a land of vast expanses of sea, rimmed by the World Jaws that make up the continents, and various islands in its center.

Nature became the principle of Hiyang, harmony. Harmony with nature. Being dissonant with nature was called being Di-Hiyang. All those Di-Hiyang when nature became harmonious were left outside of the World Jaws. Outside the World Jaws is an infinite expanse of sub-reality, known as the Forests of Chaos.

Within the World Jaws, there were seven heavens, seven hells, and three layers of earth. There, the gods, demons, and mortals began to sing their first stories. Poems within poems.

Look now, to the center of the sea.

A memory strikes you, like lightning. An image of a grand warrior, a thunderous one, tattoos running up their sky-skin, their face perverted into a devil god grin.

Their kris impales the heart of the world. Yutadagat, in a single instant, is boiled.

Another lightning flash: the kris shatters. It falls upon the center of the world.

The god is the Sky.

This is one of the many stories for the origins of the Sword Isles, although this is the one most important and shared across the isles themselves. The Sword Isles, when looked upon from above, is in the shape of a shattered kris.

The heart of the world still bleeds.

To the far south, traders with the Empires and successful defeaters of the Pale King colonizers, was the Virbanwan Lakanate. They ripped the religion and innovations of the Pale Kings from their hands and forged it into their sword. Now they seek conquest of all the lands under the Ashen Star.

Near the Lakanate, the Nation of Ba-e perseveres. Led by an ancient Dayang, that is, Lady or Queen. The Nation retains the ancient sorceries of the ancient Kadanay people, who lived in the Ba-e region trading with other continents. Mercenaries are frequently sent to other lands from this Nation. They seek to unite all the mandalas to create a burgeoning merchant kingdom.

In the center of the archipelago is the great Rajahnate of Gatusan, established by a tiger warrior prince from the far east. All their royalty have the blood of their great tiger forebears. Wreathed in Gold, these raiders and poets rule the seas and terrorize all the isles. They seek to unite the islands and go on to raid the world.

Further north is the island of Pumirang. There stands the Primal Pillar of Earth, whereupon Heaven and Hell turn. This is the Holy Mountain of Apu, and it is guarded (along with the other Four Pillars of the Earth) by the Confederation of Apumbukid. They seek to further their stewardship by erecting settlements and sanctuaries in places inherently sacred, and to spread Hiyang far and wide.

Finally, ruled upon by a Sultana sitting in the island-city of Jambangan upon the island of Siga, is the Sultanate of Akai. Blessed by the warrior goddess of the moon, Baginda Sumongsuklay–whose influence has spread all the way from the World Jaws–they seek to conquer all of The Sword Isles and convert them into the Moon Faith.

This is the lay of the land for The Sword Isles, in the present time. Which, according to the wise men of this land, is the 86th Year of the Eighth Moon Era, on the cusp of the coming time of suffering: the Eighth Star Era.

The islands are drenched in violence. They long for a savior. A hero.

In these islands, the warriors are known as manggugubat, those who make war. But there are those a cut above the rest. So skilled in combat that they can freely offer their services to any Datu or Lord that they want to work for. Their names so prestigious and filled with glory that they are no longer called just manggugubat. Instead, they are called Kadungganan. Most Prestigious. Warrior-Braves that can cleave the sea and kill the gods. The Kadungganan are the closest thing to the mythic Epic Heroes of days of old. 

The Kadungganan, however, are not heroes. They are mercenaries. Professionals. In the midst of war, they have made everything worse.

The singing star unfurls. The trembling star awakens.

The hero has come.

From the nest of crime and excess that is Ananara, capital of the Lakanate, begins the travel of the man known to many as the Mendicant Bayani. This Auspicious Beggar Hero is known more to others as…

“THE HERO OF PROPHECY.”

Sent by all the gods themselves, this Hero of Prophecy travels the islands to gather the Six Godly Regalia of the First Rajah, which will be the key to create a powerful Empire that will finally conquer and unite all islands under a single throne, thus achieveing peace and prosperity.

The islands are alive and aflame in speculation. What do they do now? That a hero of prophecy has arrived? The hero that will unite the Islands, forspoken by ancient singers. That Hero who will call to arms the banners and mandalas of the various scattered peoples. The Hero chosen by the gods and ancestors.

The people rejoice. The people have been awaiting him.

The prophet that first sung his story, however, was a demon goddess. And this demon goddess has other plans.

Follow, then, as an ostracized princess of the Rajah and her faithful royal guard travel the islands of violence, with a destiny that they themselves must choose to fulfill.

This is not a story where the hero saves the day. Where a farm boy becomes a noble king who serves his subjects faithfully.

This is a story where the PRINCESS MURDERS THE HERO.

Author Note

Maupay nga adlaw! I am Makapatag. This work is a Fantasy Light Novel set in the Archipelago of The Sword Isles, a Fantasy Setting inspired by Classical and Mythic Philippines. 

Any obscure words that are Ancient Tagalog or Bisaya will have their meanings in a glossary section at the end of their respective chapters.

Pronunciation Guide: On pronouncing the terms here, which come from Bisaya and Tagalog languages, always keep in mind the following:
“A” is always pronounced like the “a” in “water”.
“I” is interchangeable with “E”, and thus pronounced like the “ee” in “reed”.
“O” is pronounced like the vowel sound in “thought”.
“U” is pronounced like the vowel sound in “boot”.
All vowels are pronounced, none are said together. “Daongan” is pronounced as “Da-ong-an”

Important Terms

The Seventh Moon Era: This is the modern day. Eras are split into three: Sun, characterized by progress and peace, Moon, characterized by upheaval and change, and Star, characterized by darkness, danger, and violence. There has always been a Star Era. And thus it will always be.

The Five Major Mandalas
Lakanate of Virbanwa: The kingdom situated in the mouth of the Isigan Bay. Once poised to become the colonial capital of the Empire of Issohappa, the Pale Kings were eventually driven out by the combined forces of the people of The Sword Isles. The once colony became the Lakanate of Virbanwa, with their King having the title of Lakan. The current Lakan is Huwan Rekno.

Nation of Mayi: The nation situated by the lake of the same name. Mayi has preserved the ancient traditions and has become a burgeoning trading city state, and is the oldest state to have survived, even lasting since (some say) the Sixth Star Era, and well into the Seventh Sun Era. They are led by a Sangpamegat, named Kalangitan.

Rajahnate of Gatusan: The rajahnate formed after the coming of an ancient Auraskan (Tiger King) prince from the empire of Mahajola. All of the royalty of Gatusan have tiger-king blood in them, in one form or another. The Rajahnate of Gatusan is a league of multiple settlements and city-states all recognizing Rajah Batara Ambasi as their paramount Datu.

Confederation of Apumbukid: Five major principalities situated around the Holy Mountain of Apu. The Confederation chooses to follow the God Apumbukid as their paramount Datu, treating themselves only as follower Datu. They do not presume to rule over any one else. Thus, the leaders of the Dulohan are simply called Timway, Nobles. There are five of them, each one specializing in a particular field of philosophy and teaching.

Sultanate of Akai: The great sultanate of Akai, established by an ancient moon warrior, the proper inheritor of the Rajahnate of Akai. They have a more structured hierarchy and proper royal courts, similar to the Kalakanan, as opposed to the followings of great men that Mayi, Gatusan, and Apumbukid follow. The Sultanate is an empire in its own right.

Tawo: What we would call humans in our world.
Sige”: Used in a similar fashion as “all right”.
Diwata: Nature gods.
Umalagad: Guardian spirits and ancestor spirits.
Datu: The political leaders and heads of their own haop, or following. Similar to Viking Jarls and Japanese Daimyos, Datu are powerful men and women that either married into their stature, were born into them, or earned them through warrior merit. Datu don’t rule over a swathe of land, but rather, over a number of people.
Haop: The Datu’s following and citizens, the people of his village or city.
Laki/Bayi: Generic honorifics, similar to “Sir” or “Madame”. 
Manggugubat: The name for the Warrior Caste that follow the Datu around as their trained and capable fighters. The term Timawa is used within the Rajahnate, and Bayani is used within the Lakanate.
Kadungganan: “Prestigious”. Manggugubat that have exemplary bravery and strength, having earned prestige. They usually have killed many people.
Oripun: The name for the Slave Caste. There are two kinds: Tuhay and Hayohay. Tuhay are closer to serfs: they have their own homes and render work unto the Datu. The Hayohay are closer to slaves as the word usually describes. They are also usually referred to as Alipin in the Lakanate.
Pintakasi: Saint Intercessor. A kind of lesser god in Ashen Star religion, who mediates prayers for the higher god Makakagahum. They patronize a certain aspect of life or reality, such as travels or swords, and when those things are prayed to, the Pintakasi is the one invoked.
Rajah: The name used for a paramount Datu that has some form of power over other Datu that are beneath them. This is usually earned through control of trade routes and/or through accumulation of huge numbers of people and manpower for their haop. The current Rajah in the Rajahnate is Batara Ambasi.
Tumao: The name for the Noble Caste, usually relatives of the Datu in some form or another, be it blood, adoption, or blood compact. They are called Maginoo in the Lakanate.

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