It was suggested that the premise of Chimeria is complex enough that I might need a prologue, so I wrote one. For the record, I hate it. It’s all telling and it’s . . . stiff. Why do I do that just because I know the title at the top of the page reads “Prologue”? Oh well, it does give the two-minute version of the history of Chimeria.
Human history does not record the day the world changed. It was too long ago. Thousands of years ago, in fact, when the dragons first discovered how to create portals between their world and ours.
Magical creatures of all descriptions, not just dragons, came through those portals to explore this world–a world that lacked all magic. Nearly all returned to Chimeria after only a brief visit. Why stay where there was no magic? But their presence was remembered in myth and legend. Unicorns, werewolves, pixies, and all the rest. Only the dragons stayed to understand this world, fascinated by its human inhabitants. They taught themselves to take human form, the better to study humans.
Some humans bumbled their way through the portals to Chimeria and found themselves in a very dangerous world indeed. Humans had no innate magic and no defenses against the warring magical races.
Strongest and most magical of all the creatures of Chimeria, dragons were the natural leaders of their world, the only race all the others respected. The only race that could command obedience. So, having studied humans, the dragons did three things.
They created magical artifacts, each one containing a single draconic ability, some greater, some lesser. They gave these to the humans, so that they could have an equal chance against the other creatures of Chimeria. The great talismans could make a human into a wizard, equal of nearly any inherently magical creature.
To all of the magical races, the dragons gave a common gift: the ability to take human form. This made it possible for the races to talk to one another instead of constantly fighting. Of course, it also made it possible for them to do other things with each other. Rarely, hybrids of two disparate races were born, possessing the magic of their parents, but unable to take any but human form. The dragons considered this an advance towards unification of the races. The other races usually considered it a disgrace.
Last, the dragons created a council, with seats for all the races of Chimeria, in the hope that they could find a way to live in peace. The Council of Magical Races operated for a thousand years under the leadership of the dragons, during which time Chimeria changed very little.
The world on the other side of the portals changed at an increasing pace. In the beginning, technology, such as it was, had been about equal between the two worlds. Chimeria had magic as well as technology and so its peoples felt superior and safe. The dragons themselves provided security through the Protector and his band of Companions–dragons trained and dedicated to protecting Chimeria and its denizens.
Technology grew and increased, while magic stayed much the same. There came a time when the Council of Magical Races became afraid. If one of the colonial powers of the human world were to discover Chimeria, would their magic be enough defense? The Council petitioned the dragons to seal the portals. After much debate, the dragons reluctantly agreed to close all but five portals.
The Council would raise and support a force, the Portal Watch, to control those portals, making sure that no humans blundered into Chimeria. Only those races approved by the Council were permitted access to the portals. Importation of technology was strictly controlled. Nothing that operated by anything but mechanical or magical means was allowed to enter Chimeria, no drugs or weapons of any kind.
The dragons retired to their own enclave at the Dragon Cliffs, leaving the Council to the other races. In two hundred years, nearly every race had tried at one time or another to take up the position of power vacated by the dragons. None had succeeded, though some races had been forced off the Council completely. The warfare between the magical races had been transformed into political maneuvering, but it had not ended.
This is part of a deleted scene from BLOOD WILL TELL that helps to explain the relationship between Chimeria and our own world.
“I’m curious. If these portals between the worlds have existed for as long as you say, why don’t more people know about them?” Donny asked.
“Very simple. The Chimerians don’t want you to,” Rolf said.
“Because they’re afraid of you, Donny.”
“Sit down. This is going to require a little bit of history to explain.
“Five thousand years ago, or so, when the dragons made the first portals between the two worlds, access was free, in either direction. Some Chimerians came to this side, usually only for a little while. The dragons were most interested in exploring this world. We learned to take human form so that we could mingle with humans and learn your ways.
“And some humans found the portals accidentally and crossed into Chimeria. Chimeria was a very dangerous place for humans back then. All the other races had some degree of magical power. The humans had none. So the dragons began making magical talismans, which they gave to the humans. These artifacts each contained the ability to exercise one draconic power. No human has innate magical abilities. They can only work magic by the use of these objects. Those who collected a large number of these objects and so could do many things with magic became the wizards.
“Some humans visited Chimeria and returned here, bringing with them legends of fanciful creatures. Some beings from Chimeria came here and gave rise to other legends. A little magic bled through the portals between the worlds and touched this world slightly. But this world has always been based on technology, not magic.
“Initially, your level of technology was no greater than Chimeria’s, and we had magic, which your ancestors did not. So no one in Chimeria was concerned. Gradually, however, your technology began to increase, while our magic stayed the same. About two hundred years ago, some Chimerians began to worry. Your technology had reached a point that most magic couldn’t easily block. The Council of Magical Races worried that if one of your expansionist nations were to learn about Chimeria, and try to conquer it, we might not have the ability to defend against you.”
“Why would any nation here want to invade Chimeria?” Donny asked.
“Resources. Donny, Chimeria is like your world was before the industrial revolution. Forests that have never been cut. Unmined mineral resources. Possibly fossil fuels, for all I know. All the resources that are so important for your technology.”
“Oh, I see.”
“The Council petitioned the dragons to close most of the portals. Five were selected to remain open, including the one here.”
“There’s a portal here? Where?”
“Of course. Less than a quarter mile, as the dragon flies. Not far outside the boundaries of this estate.” Rolf gestured broadly in the direction of the ocean.
“So most of the portals were closed. What then?”
“The Council set up a system for regulating access to the portals. A passport was required for anyone not a dragon. Dragons aren’t subject to the Council. Besides, it wouldn’t make any sense to exclude us, since we could just make our own portals. And that would defeat the whole purpose. Some races were denied access to the portals, since they were judged too dangerous. Werewolves and vampires mostly. Although pixies are usually not allowed to cross, either. Too mischievous. And the Portal Watch was created.”
“The Portal Watch?” Donny asked.
“A group originally charged with protecting the portals. Their purpose has been expanded by the Council, since. Valeriah was a member of the Watch. You should ask her for more of the specifics. Basically, their original mission was to regulate access by Chimerians, by checking passports, and to prevent humans from this side from entering Chimeria. Usually, a human who accidentally finds a portal is captured. A charm is used to alter his memory, so that he believes what he has seen was a dream. And then he’s sent back through to this side.”
“I thought you said Crystal and Valeriah were part human. There don’t appear to be any ordinary humans in Chimeria.”
“All the humans in Chimeria are ordinary, Donny. It’s only the use of the talismans that gives them magical powers. Without those, they’re just like you.”
“Does everyone in Chimeria have these magical talismans?”
“Only a relatively few wizards have large collections of them. But pretty much everyone has at least a charm or two. Something to protect them from accidents or illness, if nothing else. Or useful little charms for housework. That sort of thing.”
“Doesn’t Valeriah have that kind of charm? Something to ward of accidents and illness?”
“I’m sure she does,” Rolf answered.
“Why didn’t it work, then?”
“Even in Chimeria, those charms wouldn’t be proof against an intentional act. And here . . . Only a little magic seeps through the portals, Donny. Innate abilities remain, although even they are strengthened by nearness to the portals. Draconic magic still works, and unicorn blood still has the power to heal, Valeriah’s werewolf blood is still tied to the cycles of the moon.
“Close enough to the portals, most other magic still works. The weaker charms won’t work on this side at all, or only very close to the portal. Only the most potent of the artifacts would operate at full strength at any distance from the portal. That’s one reason you’ll generally find most Chimerians on this side clustered in this area or near one of the other portals.”