I've been working on interpreting/embellishing a lot of G2 lore for Legends of Okoto's Travelers' Guide and I figured that, as a sort of preview, I could share a piece of it: one person's interpretation of how the Island of Okoto came into being. The person in question is an explorer by the name of Shellbe, also the writer/narrator for most of the Travelers' Guide. By delving into the ruins of Okoto's ancient cities and doing... let's say a generous amount of interpreting, this is the explanation that Shellbe's come up with for the world he's lived in for his whole life.
In the beginning, there was only Shadow… or so the legends say.
Honestly, no one on Okoto could give you a clear answer on how exactly our island, our world came into being. We do know, however, that the island and likely the rest of the world is a permanent manifestation of six elements: Fire, Water, Earth, Stone, Jungle, and Ice. We also know that, in the absence of these elements, Shadow appears. This, therefore, is what I think happened.
In the beginning there was only Shadow, or rather, it was the only element ever-present, ruling over all. All the other elements existed in a roiling chaos, flowing through and around each other as streams and wisps fading rapidly in and out of existence. This was the natural state of the universe until a collision between six of the elements produced something different: small, solid lump composed of Fire, Water, Earth, Stone, Jungle, and Ice in equal parts. This was the seed: the first tangible, permanent object created not from Shadow, but from a combination of other elements. Over time, as more elemental streams and wisps collided with the seed, they became part of it too, adding more of their elements into the mix and making the seed grow larger. After a very, very long time, it had grown large enough to become a world. Our world.
The elements making up the world existed in perfect harmony, but they were not uniformly distributed throughout it. For balance, Fire, the most unstable of the elements, was concentrated in the center and encased in a mantle of stone and ice. This mantle was coated in turn in a layer of earth and water; the water became the oceans and the earth their floor. The fire was difficult to contain, however, and wherever it found weak spots in the stone mantle and earthen crust, it pushed them upwards and through the layer of water. This created the landmasses, and in spots where the fire managed to push completely through the mantle and crust, it created volcanoes. Lastly, Jungle coated the entire seed in the form of air, thin enough to allow more elements to flow into and add to the growing world. This seed was not the only one to be created, however. Similar collisions between elements elsewhere would produce similar seeds, possibly with the potential to grow into other worlds vastly different from our own. Some of these seeds were formed of different elements, one of which came to stand out in particular: Light. Seeds coated in light became suns and stars: bright beacons that lit up all the void around them, banishing the shadows whenever their rays hit other elements. When one such beacon formed near our world, the stage was set for the appearance of life.
I’m not sure what to call life, actually. Is it merely a complex interaction of all the elements already present in our world, merely enabled by light? While it is true so far as I can see that life cannot exist without Light, throughout my travels I have seen a number of clearly living creatures that appear to be composed purely of only one or two elements. Did these creatures exist before light reached our world, is life an element of its own, or can it be produced by any interaction between light and another element? For that matter, I’ve also run into creatures who were tainted, perhaps even produced by Shadow, and we know an entire shadow realm exists. If the power to create life resides with the element of Light, surely a similar power must exist in the element of Shadow. Since Light and Shadow banish each other on appearance and both still demonstrably exist, I can only conclude that they must have reached some cosmic balance.
Then again, I could be wrong about this whole elements thing. I mean, it’s not like any of us were around to record this stuff. Maybe some strange beings from another world entirely came along a giant lump of rock, made it into a world, and put us all on it just because they felt like it. Food for thought, I guess.
What I can say, though, is that somewhere along the creation of our world patron creatures of the six elements appeared: Ikir, Akida, Terak, Ketar, Uxar, and Melum. Maybe they were the created when light first hit the world, or maybe it was something else, but because of their existence I am certain that the careful ‘packaging’ of the elements in our world is no accident. The creatures are wise, which is why the ancient Okotans made shrines to them, and in their wisdom I believe that they were the ones who decided that the element of Fire should be placed in the core of the world, that the strength of Stone and Ice should be used to contain it, and the more permeable Earth, Water, and Jungle elements should form the outer layers. However, in arranging the elements as such, they created a world in which the elements were in balance and hence one that could not vanish on a whim; its elements could not just dissociate and vanish into the Shadow around it. They created a permanent outpost, a place where Light could be given a chance to create life and challenge Shadow’s universal rule over the universe. And since Shadow can create dark, twisted forms of life of its own, it created one specifically to eliminate this challenge: the creature we know as Umarak the Hunter.
Umarak, legends tell, is a creature born of pure Shadow and, I believe, created to ensure Shadow’s hegemony over the universe went unchallenged. His purpose is to capture the elemental creatures of our world, to bind them in Shadow and break their influence over the elements. Without the creatures to hold the elements in balance in the quantity that they are found in our world, those elements would eventually clash, dissipate, and the world would fall apart because of it. Shadow would engulf the remaining pieces, leaving nothing but a void behind. Thankfully, the creatures are wise and crafty, and have been able to avoid being captured by Umarak so far; Shadow alone could not create a being strong enough to best those created by the other elements combined. I hope Umarak never gets the help he would need to break that stalemate and capture the creatures; the consequences would be catastrophic.
And the world those creatures are keeping in balance is what has given rise to our island of Okoto and, by extension, us. I couldn’t tell you why the creatures chose to make this island their home, but even before the Great Cataclysm, history tells us that this island always seemed a microcosm of our larger world: a land where all six of the world’s elements are manifested strongly but are not out of balance. The six distinct regions of the island, each influenced by one element, already existed and made a great home for their creatures, but they were not delineated as strongly then as they are now; the landscape flowed more from one region to the other, whereas now tall, jagged mountain ranges divide them. Echoes of the Okoto that was can still be found in the Mangroves in the south end and in the Silent Land at the north end of my home region, but the events of the Battle of the Mask Makers shook the island to its core and reshaped its whole geography elsewhere. In fact, I can say without a doubt that the Battle of the Maskmakers was the seminal event of our modern history solely because it was the event leading to our greatest disaster, one whose wounds and scars are still clearly visible in the landscape of Okoto today. To unpack everything that led us there, though, I should first cover what happened shortly after Ekimu and Makuta became Okoto’s maskmakers: a series of events known collectively as the invasion of the Skull Raiders.