The Game and Alternate History

Ash Death

The saga of Anieth begins with a man inheriting an estate from a dotty old uncle. This man, Peter Shields, was a literature major who was bumming around New York, working at odd jobs and putting off getting serious about his life. It was 1962 and getting serious might mean learning to play the guitar and write poetry rather than become a car salesman or a professor. But Peter did none of the this, for he inherited an estate of great size. The house was a bit run down and Elizabethan in the way that some houses built in the Victorian Age had been attempts to be romantic.

The house appealed to Peter. He spent some time that winter puttering around, for the estate had very little cash attached to it. A friend suggested selling off some of the acreage to pay to fix the house to get it ready to sell. Peter spent more time dreaming of live in Paris than fixing much, yet when spring finally arrived, he started to wander the grounds and, finally, broached the heavy woods. There he found a tall hedge in the middle of a clearing. He hiked around the hedge and figured that it must be a circle about a mile in diameter. His estimation of his uncle went from "dotty" to "seriously deranged."

But the hedge circle had a gate. It took Peter a month to find the key which was buried in an old chest with a note that said, "this is to the maze, use with caution." Peter actually laughed out loud, but the note sent a chill down his spine. He opened the gate with some effort and a lot of oil for the lock and hinges and went inside. It appeared to be a folly, some kind of maze. Remembering the story of Ariadne in the maze, Peter bought some twine and began to explore. The maze turned out to be very disappointing. It was not really a maze at all, but twenty spiraling alleys lined with different trees leading to a center clearing and a fountain.

Maze

As the tree hedges began to bloom, Peter noted them down and their order around the circle. It triggered some memory of a memory for him. Something he had read or heard of in a class at university. He remembered the professor, a wild bear of a man, who had escaped some crazy country one step ahead of the Soviets. Greshenko, that was it. Alexei Greshenko, Professor of British Studies at university. Peter tracked down the professor and had a hard time understanding the man over the phone. Alexei spoke very loudly but with a heavy accent and very fast as if to make up for his diction with a torrent of words, most of which the average person did not know. Finally, Peter was able to ask him about mazes. Greshenko had one phrase that he kept repeating, the name of a book. When Alexei Greshenko ran out of steam, he asked Peter about the maze. Peter told him about the twenty trees.

"Vot are tey?" Greshenko yelled into the phone. Peter held up his list. "Hazel, holly, oak, hawthorn, willow, alder, ash--" "Stop, stop!" Greshenko yelled. "You jest vit me?" Peter reassured the professor that he would never jest about such a mystery. Greshenko was silent. Then he covered the receiver and yelled to someone in the background. "I vill come!" he yelled. "Tell me the address." Peter stared at the phone, dazed for a moment. "Are you there? I vill come!" Peter quickly gave him the address and hung the phone up, wondering what he had started.

It was by accident that they discovered Anieth. It was a hot day. Greshenko and Shields had walked in and out of spirals for a couple of hours. They stopped by the fountain and had a drink of the water where Lucia came up beside them. At that time, she was only ten, and Peter had a hard time getting rid of her. They drank more water as Alexei talked and talked about the Celtic alphabet of trees and how it tied to calendars and the mnemonics of ancient cypher systems. Alexei then wanted to call in two of his other students. They wandered back to the house and came to the gate, which was closed. Shields opened up the gate and they walked into a different world. Alexei did not notice, but ran into Peter as he stood there, trembling. "My got," Alexei murmured. "My got!" he shouted. "Yes," Peter whispered, "but can we get back?" He began to shake so badly that Greshenko pulled him back into the maze and walked him to the center before the young man could calm down. Neither of them noticed that Lucia had vanished. "You know ve must go back out," Alexei said. Peter nodded and let himself be led back down one of the spirals to the gate. The gate was open, the birds were singing and all was as if nothing had happened.

Alexei Greshenko was a sensible man. He had grown up in a family of scientists, all of whom had been killed or sent to Siberia. He had learned to adapt, but carried with him the legacy of critical thinking and experiment. Very soon, he had the maze worked out. He called in two of his students: Mark Stanford and Theron Abernathy. Peter's best friend, Bob Gallanis came down from New York. However, it was Peter Shield's baby sister, twelve at that time, who came to best understand the world they had discovered. There story is told elsewhere, but what came of their explorations is that they appeared to have discovered a realistic fantasy game. The world "re-set" each time they went back. Within a year they had fallen into a game history that repeated itself with very little variation. It was not until the second generation of gamers grew up that there was any change.


Game History

This is the basic history of the Game. Robert Gallanis always played the part of Marsyas Gallanis; he seemed to made for it. He felt himself to be an emissary of civilization and felt it his duty to destroy what he saw as the demonic aspects of the Wood. Alexei's son, Michali Greshenko, his wife Raissa, and Theron Abernathy always found themselves opposing Bob. Peter always found himself in the middle, trying to do something useful. Michali Greshenko favored his various animal shaper characters, while Theron favored being a tree shaper, and was usually part of the Holly at the final conflict. Peter Shields other half-sister, Marion had married Mark Stanford and they usually played the parts of the Black Nation. Mark's sister, Karen, had married Bob Gallanis and played the part of the Red Queen. For some reason that no one can still understand neither Lucia Shields nor Peter Shields ever became characters, but stayed in their own shapes.

The Invasion was straightforward and varied very little, despite drama among the players. There was a time difference between Earth time and Anieth time that meant that every trip to Anieth might feel to the players like years, but would only be days or weeks on Earth. The Game was a like a person vacation and became an obsession with those who played. Even those who tried to drop out, like Marion, returned, unable to achieve that feeling of being really alive that she had felt in Anieth. For many of us, the world satisfied desires that our civilized world could not.

Gaming Party

In 1969, that all changed. The second generation of players had become old enough to play in the Game. They had grown up to it, learning the languages, fighting skills, and the politics of the Invasion. My twin nephews entered the Game and were successful at the parts of the twin kings, Tuama and Raol Aveldonacc, princes of the White Nation and key players in the enactment. Unknown to us, Leo Stanford had hidden the trauma suffered by his brother, Nick, who had played the part of King Raol. Nick was suffered classic post-traumatic stress syndrome. He had become an older man, embittered by his sojourn as an unpopular king, who had lost his hand, and then lost his life, burned alive by the Ash. That winter we continued our daily plans for our next trip in the spring, unaware of Nick's problems. Bob merely thought the boy lazy and uncooperative. Yet, Lucia sensed that something more was wrong. She also saw an opportunity to seriously change the timeline of the Game.

Lucia and Twins

Having discovered Nick's dissatisfaction with playing King Raol and his envy of his brother, Leo, for playing the heroic King Tuama, Lucia and the boys worked out a plan by which Nick would enter the game early with Leo and get elected, not to the Red Throne as Ula's husband, the Ash King, but get elected to the Green Throne as Nathartha's husband, the Briar King. Thus Raol would control the trading city of Belva and the Trader's Road and help Tuama form the Veldonaccii Alliance where all the Nations guarding the Road would be ruled at one time by princes of the White Nation and the Veldonaccii family. Thus they could secure the Road against Marsyas long enough to give the Holly a chance to ally with the Oak and stop the Invasion.

When the twins were able to change Raol's past, Lucia recruited Theron Abernathy into the plan, for he had always played characters in the Holly Clan. Theron agreed to play the part of Tinneal, a Holly warrior who had married into the Rowan Clan and been cut off for it. In this version, Tinneal would not marry into the Rowan, but give a son to the woman he loved and become Champion. Thus he would be in a position to force an alliance between these two blood enemies, the Holly and Oak. However, very soon after Theron and the Greshenkos entered the maze, Lucia broke the gate. It is still no known how she did this, but speculations abound on other pages. Suffice it to say here, that no player could enter the maze after that time and retain his memories of Earth. This further allowed a chance for the Tree Clans to battle Marsyas, who without the memories of Bob Gallanis would be fighting the Invasion for the "first" time and be crippled by his lack of experience. The Game, which usually took eight years Aneith time and four weeks Earth time, now extended from 357 to 413. Lucia also recruited Thomas Angelini, a friend of Bob Gallanis, to fight as an insider on the Zelosian side by heavily influencing his character of Korutos a Gallanis. It is also not known how she did this. Lucia understood Anieth in ways no one yet has been able to comprehend.

There were two generations of "players," who were able to travel back and forth from Earth. The first generation were those who were older. Their kids and their friends made up the second generation, who went to Anieth right before Lucia broke the gate and after.

Events on Earth

In this family tree, I have put dates in pink for those who went to Anieth early. The date is their first trip. The second set of dates in blue are for those who went in the second generation. Anyone who went after 1970 was lost, either stuck with no memory or so embroiled in the world that they went back even after they died in Anieth and came back to Earth.

Events on Earth

This is a timeline of events that happened on Earth.

Solar Eclipse

On March 7 of 1970, a full solar eclipse was visible on the East Coast of the States. Lucia used this eclipse to break the gate to Anieth. Her daughter, Edna, was born during this eclipse and left at the gates of the Maze. At this time, Peter had figured out that Lucia had something to do with the magic of Anieth, but he still did not know the truth. He went with Bob to try to discover what had happened. They found themselves in Anieth when Marsyas first came to Anieth as a young officer. Bob, as Marysas had no memory at all of Earth. When they met Raol, whom Pete knew to be Nick Stanford, Pete discovered that he, too, had no memory. This also was the case when they went to Zelosia and found Tom Angelini as Korutos. Pete spent many years trying to get the players to remember Earth. A few did. The Greshenkos has a partial memory of Earth. Geoff Martín also remembered Earth. His friend, Brian remembered only when they were at An Doras (the Anieth gate) but Brian's father refused to remember anything about Earth. Diana Gallanis and Edna Shields were the only others who had memories of Earth.

Here is how the Game played out after Lucia changed events and then broke the Gate. The green highlight is the original game event that was changed.


Events after Lucia

© 2012, A.R. Stone



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