The Lore of Equus Ballator
From a human standpoint, Ballators appear to be their own strain of the Equine kind, adapted to live in various habitats, with many sub-species existing.
However, Ballators have their own lore about where they came from.
Below you will find two sections: Basic Beliefs and the General Lore. Basic Beliefs will cover what the Ballators who follow each High/Lowlord generally believe, and General Lore covers all needed knowledge of Ballatorian history.
In general, followers of Aether are kind-hearted, loyal, and have the best interest of all at heart. They despise evil and wickedness at all costs. Aether’s teachings cast a profound sense of peace to his followers, and they are usually hospitable, helpful Ballators.
Followers of Ares tend to mimic their Highlordess in fiery tempers and a fierce, wild independence. They enjoy the freedom that the teachings of the Highlordess allows, although they recognize the consequence of crossing her. These Ballators are a very ‘mixed bag’ of characters, and sometimes it can be hard to tell if they are good or wicked at heart.
Those who follow Hannibal are, inherently, either wicked or naiive. Being a god of tricks, Hannibal has lured many a kind heart into his snares by ways of lies and deceit. The followers of the Lowlord are typically devoted and loyal to a fault, performing any task that the Lowlord requires of them, no matter the cost.
The afterlife is not well known, as the Highlords do not divulge this knowledge openly. However, we have recorded some of the basic knowledge, and perhaps, secrets, that are known to the Highlords themselves.
Keep in mind that anything underlined is unknown to living Ballators, and may not be added into any part of a living Ballator’s storyline/history/etc.
Those who die under Aether’s watch and proved loyal to him will go and live in the Highrealm by his side. They are free to wander about any place they desire besides the Lowrealm. Often, these spirits return to earth and silently visit their families, or give them guidance in the form of warm winds and gentle whispers. The spirits live a peaceful, joyful life; the only negative emotions they feel are those associated with longing for their families. Aether’s Warriors are back-up warriors if Ares’ Hunting Guard ever fails.
The followers of Ares are re-animated to hunt by her side. Much like those who follow her husband in life, Ares’ deceased hunters are free to wander about any place they desire. Followers of Ares are permitted to participate with her in the Great Hunt, where Ares ventures to the Space Between to periodically wipe out foul spirits ascending from the Lowrealm and to protect the Highrealm’s borders. Unknown to Aether, Ares will periodically venture into the Lowrealm with a select following in an attempt to thwart her son’s plans.
The followers of Hannibal are fed tidbits by Hannibal; promises of an eternal life by his side; a life of bloodshed and pillages and ventures. However, though no living Ballator knows of this lie, Hannibal re-animates all members of his Legion into lowrealm ghouls. Though it is common knowledge that some followers may be turned into Ghouls, it is unknown that it is all followers, not just an unlucky few. Some never remember their past life, and some, to their torture, remember it all. The ghouls must do all of Hannibal’s bidding, with no choice or freedom, slaves to his will until he uses them for war. Once returned to earth for battle purposes, the ghouls regain a sense of knowledge of their families, and will often chase them in the hopes of finding love or belonging again, often being killed in the process, only to repeat the re-animation again.
Those who do not follow any high or lowlord are free to wander in any place, and any space, they choose that is not governed by a deity. The exception is Aether, who happily and openly welcomes any wandering soul into his fold. These Wanderers, while free to do as they please, experience no sorrow, but also no joy; an existence bound to exploration of unknown worlds, while being unable to revel in the wonderment of them.
The Birth of the Highrealm
Far away in the dark recesses of space, tucked between galaxies, was a star cluster. These clusters of what appear from Earth to be stars are in fact the Sidus Bestia; The beasts made of stars. Each is formless, but if one should wish to travel away from the home cluster and discover something it wished to take the form of, it would do so. One such light was named Aether; ageless, yet old and tired of the task the Sidus Bestia were charged with: forming stars and flinging them into the recesses of the galaxies. Long ago, he had traveled to the planet Earth and witnessed the beautiful equus there, and taken the form of one, though different than the Equus of Earth, for Aether was crowned with antlers and manes sprouted along his shoulders.
Aether knew his time had come. Many stars had been created by his hand; his strength was ebbing. Like the hearts of stars that he had created, one day he, too, would explode into a supernova, forever to leave his mark in space. As he flung his last star into the heavens, he too was thrown out of the home cluster that the Sidus Bestia called home. With the last of his power, he summoned the smallest heart of the smallest star to form between his antlers to light his way as he set off to find other equally lonely and spent Sidus Bestia.
But he did not find them.
Eons of wandering led him back to Earth, circling a small star. Aether looked down upon the Equus, wishing he could join them, but he feared they would not accept him for his origin and his appearance.
Reaching into the black, he formed a cloud, filled with the coldness and death of space. The star between his antlers fed life into it, and he flung it away to gather its own life. After waiting, the Sidus called, tentatively, into the darkness. And she called back.
Achlys, she called herself. She was the color of the sky at night, her horns that spiraled over her head the color of brightest light. Aether was overjoyed to have another Sidus Bestia to speak with, after so many years of wandering in the darkness alone. But Achlys did not stay long. She preferred her own company to that of Aethers, and vanished into the eternal night. Aether would not see her again.
Being abandoned by his creation threw Aether into such grief, such anger, that it began to take form. It seethed and burned, until it took the shape of an equus, though this was a much more terrifying one than Achlys. She burst forth, both beautiful and terrible, grinning at Aether, knowing his weakness had brought her into being. Aether realized the damage his emotions had caused, this thing he had created, and vowed never to let such a thing happen again. The thing called herself Ares, and she did not leave.
After Ares came Adyti, Umbras, and Freyja, and for a time they all dwelt in peace, watching the world below. But in time, they grew restless, with nothing to watch over in particular and nothing to bestow gifts upon. So Aether went to Earth, studying the creatures below. He returned, and all the Highlords and Ladies deliberated until they had reached a conclusion about their creature.
Birth of the Ballator & The Great Dividing
The form of a horse, the heart and tooth of a lion, the horns of a ram. These were the attributes given to the creature, the Warrior Horse, the Equus Ballator. They named him Regale, and he is still rumored to live and dwell upon the earth, aiding Ballators with quests and life tasks.
After the creation of the Ballator, a quarrel broke out among the Lords and Ladies. No one is sure quite why, but the event would be known as the Great Dividing, as all the inhabitants of the Highrealm save for Ares left Aether’s side. By this time, a few new Ballators had appeared, and some still possess the gifts of the Lords and Ladies of Old.
The Rise of Lowlord Hannibal
Aether and Ares, now committed to another as husband and wife, created a child to fill the emptiness they were left with. He was black as night, with Ares’ fire inside him, beaming out of his belly and nostrils. A long mane and tail trailed him, fading into smoke at the ends. And above all, a massive, magnificent crown of horns adorned his head; smoke trailed from the tips of each tine. They called him Hannibal, and he was noble with a strong heart. Blessed with wisdom beyond his young age, he was Aether’s rock upon which he made decisions and dealt with conflicts within the Highrealm and below on earth. Hannibal aided the Ballators below in quests and journeys. Although Hannibal was wise, he was strong-headed and often let his pride get away with him. Aether feared his son’s wild spirit and untameable tongue, and limited his power below. This hurt Hannibal more than he would admit, but he conceded, wishing only to please Aether and find his space among the lords.
However, when Aether began to neglect asking Hannibal for wisdom and opinions as he had done for centuries, instead turning to other lords for council, a bitter seed was planted within Hannibal’s heart. Seeking his mother, he voiced to her his concern, but she laughed, telling him that he should not be so soft, and simply do as he wished with the limited power Aether had bestowed. Following his mother’s advice, Hannibal went to earth and did as he often did, help the mortal ballators with quests and problems they faced. But rebellion was growing in him, and in a burst of anger and bitterness, he smote a young Ballator who repeatedly failed a quest he was attempting. Racked with guilt, he returned to the Highrealm. Aether, shocked and horrified, forgave his son due to the guilt he felt in his heart.
Aether called a meeting with the lords and ladies, and requested that each give the Ballators a gift; something to make the ballators greater than common horses. From Aether, they received wisdom, intelligence, and a variety of beautiful coats. Ares gave them the skill of the hunt and a fiery spirit. When it was his appointed time to bless the Ballators below with his gift of cunning and observant nature, he instead poured out wrath, aggression, and an unruly mind, giving Ballators their angry and dangerous reputation. Aether was furious, but knowing his son was young and angry at his own actions, Aether forgave and sought forgiveness from Hannibal. Aether attempted to make Hannibal more of a part in his daily affairs, but the damage was already done.
Unconvinced of Aether’s genuine apology, Hannibal wreaked plagues and havoc on the earth, bestowing certain Ballator types with more anger and fury than others. Aether and Ares attempted to rein in thier son to no avail, and at last when Hannibal had resorted to killing and eating Ballators solely to upset them, Aether cast Hannibal into the lower realms, hoping some time alone in the quiet of the black would subdue him.
It did the opposite.
The dark, lonely spaces of the lowrealm slowly twisted Hannibal’s mind as he was left to stew in his anger and bitterness.
When Aether called him back, Hannibal appeared calm, collected and mature. He spoke softly, with wisdom, nodding his hugely crowned head in submission. But this was all a ploy. When Aether once again was comfortable with him, Hannibal attacked with fire and fury, declaring everlasting war on Aether, Ares, and the Ballators they so dearly treasured. As Hannibal set off to attack the earth-bound Ballators, Aether cursed him, and Hannibal’s long, trailing manes fell away from his neck and shoulders, and his beautiful orange-and-red crown cracked and fell from his head. His tail, once long and silky, turned to foul-smelling smoke.
Stripped of his title of Highlord, he was given that of Subtus Domini: Lowlord, and banished forever to the Lower Realms.
Ares was enraged, and threatened to smite Hannibal down, but his power was too strong. Aether, fearing Ares’ wrath would burn the earth below, sent her into sleep. And she has been sleeping ever since.
Alone now in the Highrealm, Aether is plagues with guilt. Hannibal exploits this as often as he can. Though Hannibal could easily be bribed to end the war due to his greed, Aether would never stoop as low as this. But somewhere in the Highrealm, Aether hides Hannibal’s horns, the one thing that Aether knows Hannibal wants most.
Centuries after the banishment of Hannibal, he rose again to take back his place in the highrealm. Aether refused him, and Hannibal waged war against the realm and it’s inhabitants.
There was seemingly nothing that could stop the fueled madness of Hannibal’s rage. Gathering his Legion of Ballators, he went against Aether and his Warriors, using Lowrealm Ghouls to help strike horror and fear into the hearts of Aether’s Own.
Hundreds of Ballators answered the call of their patron deity – Hannibal with his Legion and Aether with his Warriors, the two sides gathered strength and power in an attempt to overthrow the other. Through blood-shedding rituals, Hannibal mustered enough power to raise the dead; the Lowrealm Ghouls made their appearance. Zombie-like creatures of every species, but the most horrifying were the Ballator Ghouls, mauled and ravaged by death, crawled from the earth to be companions to those of Hannibal’s Legion who were willing. These ghouls, unspeaking even though their screams haunted those who heard them, harbored a secret that Hannibal was keen to keep until the last moment of battle.
Both Aether and Hannibal met on the battlefield, each carrying in their mind a weapon to use at the most opportune moment. As Ballators’ hooves and teeth flew in the fight, many fell and many tortured in their dying breaths. The carnage fueled Hannibal’s bloodlust and saddened Aether with a sadness so deep, he felt as though he had returned to the vast emptiness of the Highrealm before the birth of his family.
At last when the battle could wager no longer, both sides exhausted, Hannibal declared his ghastly secret: The shadow of the Ballators that now existed as Ghouls, crawling and screeching next to their Legion commanders, had been specifically selected by Hannibal, raised from the earth for one sole purpose. Each Ghoul was the remains of a Ballator that a Warrior member once knew, perhaps loved. The Ghouls were Hannibal’s unwilling eyes and ears through the Legion, sniffing out disloyalty and trickery against the Lowlord, forced to wander in wretched bodies. They were simply stolen souls, cursed forever to be tormented, chasing loved ones with a sliver of hope that they might be accepted and loved again, only to be rejected with horror, and screams, and death. What a genius plan the lowlord had in store — reveal to the Warriors that the ghouls they were killing were loved ones lost, seeking for redemption — and, perhaps then, none would fight against the Lowlord, his Legion, and their Ghouls.
At the revelation of Hannibal’s unspeakable crime, Aether was filled with an anger, a horror so hot that it burned his very skin. He jumped down from his perch, trailing stardust through the smoke, glowing like the sun. Ares, his wife, born from Aether’s own rage, careened through the clouds above with a scream, in a trail of sparks and flame. Ares’ horns spit fire, and her eyes were wild with the promise of battle. “Make way, my Warriors!” Aether’s call rang – his skin still alight. A distant roar is followed by a resounding curse — Hannibal’s plan to recapture his mother and turn her to his side was lost. Rising to meet her, Hannibal was overthrown by the force, a ball of light exploding around them until, with a final blinding burst of fire, Hannibal retreated, vanishing in a plume of smoke.
Aether emerged from the smoke; his body has been badly injured. He begans to glow faintly, and with a sudden burst of purple and yellow light, his body was transformed into a new, whole one — his new coat gleams, and the starry portion of his rump seems to twinkle like real stars. His old appearance is gone, in it’s place, a new coat to signify a new era.
Hannibal has not been seen except for a rare appearance on earth to bless or curse; with Ares’ awakening, he is banished from wreaking his unchecked havoc. But what will happen now? An eternal stalemate? Or was the Realmwar only the beginning of the wars?
Red Star Rising
Information coming soon…