The Chronicles of Quelouva
An in-progress outline of an epic tapestry of tales spanning millennia of past and future galactic history.
The Chronicles of Quelouva are a epic series of stories spanning tens of thousands of years of fictional history, past and future; epic in the original sense of many small independent stories that connect together into a much larger story. "Quelouva" is the name of the setting, our galaxy the Milky Way, in the language of the race of aliens called the Ehrban, whose saga composes one third of the stories, chronicling the rise and fall and eventual resurgence of their ancient galactic empire. The entire series takes place in a timeline alternate to our own, though this is only relevant near the contemporary parts of the Human saga, which composes another third of the stories, chronicling the mythological prehistory of human civilization through to the post-apocalyptic future. The remaining third of the stories constitute the Sphidi saga, chronicling the events of a virtual world that forgets that it is virtual, takes on a life of its own, and eventually heralds the end of galactic history.
The settings of each saga are thus widely different in scope. On one end of the spectrum, the Sphidi saga takes place almost entirely within the simulated world called Virtuality. The Human saga meanwhile takes place across the entirety of the Earth, its solar system, and even briefly ventures beyond. And at the far end of the spectrum, the Ehrban saga ranges far and wide across the entire galaxy of Quelouva, with bookends reaching out to other galaxies still. By the end of the series the scopes converge, however, as events within Virtuality reshape not only the whole world but the entire galaxy, and one human from Earth becomes the only hope for all of Quelouva's salvation.
These three sagas are not chronologically sequential, but rather overlap significantly. Each is divided into three parts, alternately spanning time periods of either around a single lifetime, or many thousands of years. The first part of the Ehrban saga spans a single lifetime, and is not contemporary with any other stories. From the end of it spring both its own second part, and the start of the Human saga. The second part of the Ehrban saga spans around twelve thousand years, and runs contemporaneously with but separately from the first part of the Human saga, which spans that same time period. The third part of the Ehrban saga again spans a single lifetime, as do the second part of the Human saga and the first part of the Sphidi saga, which are contemporary with it. At the start of this period the events of the Human saga give rise to the start of the Sphidi saga, and the end of the Ehrban saga finally reconnects with the events of the Human saga during the end of this period. The third part of the Human saga spans another twelve thousand years or so, as does the second part of the Sphidi saga, which runs contemporaneously but separately from it. Past the end of this period, the events of the two sagas reconnect. The third part of the Sphidi saga, with which no other stories are contemporary, spans a single lifetime again, and unique among the periods of the Chronicles begins to incorporate elements of first the Human saga and its setting of the rest of Earth, and then the Ehrban saga and its setting of all of Quelouva.
There are multiple orders in which the stories can be read, some of them passing over parts of the story. One way is to read through the entire Ehrban saga, then the last series of the Human and Sphidi sagas to conclude that story, missing most of the Human and Sphidi sagas in the process. Another is to read the first series of the Ehrban and Human sagas as a prelude to reading the entire Sphidi saga through to conclusion, missing most of the Ehrban and Human sagas in the process. A third way is to read the first series of the Ehrban saga as a prelude to the Human saga, and then the last series of the Sphidi saga to conclude the story, missing most of the Ehrban and Sphidia sagas in the process. A fourth way is to to read the first series of the Ehrban, Human, and Sphidi sagas, then the middle series of the Human saga, then the last series of the Ehrban, Human, and Sphidi sagas to conclude, missing only one series each out of the Ehrban and Sphidi saga. But the canonical reading begins in media res for each saga, and then explores in a spiralling fashion further and further into the past and future of each, unveiling the surprising interconnectedness of stories that at first do not appear related beyond the mysterious recurrence of a symbol common to all three sagas.
The first story, the middlemost story of the Human saga, features a human starship crew, members of a mysterious organization called only the Foundation, awakening from suspended animation, wherein they were apparently in communication with one another as they awake in the midst of an argument we are not yet privy to the nature of other than that one member of the crew no longer trusts their leadership back home or their mission. But that argument is put on hold as their starship has just arrived in orbit over a very odd, apparently geo-engineered alien world, the object of their mission, and their ship is then shot down by weapons from the planet's surface, leaving the crew stranded there. As they regroup they meet several different, primitive but sapient, non-humanoid, local species, and learn that not only do humans at least vaguely resemble the absent creators of these primitive local species and of the advanced technology that shot down the ship, but the logo of the Foundation, worn on the crew's uniforms, is of mythological significance to those locals as well. After various conflicts between the different local species, and between the crew members themselves, are resolved or evaded, the crew eventually make their way to a supposed holy place where both answers and salvation may await, arriving at last at what appears to be an enormous, underground, technologically-advanced, but abandoned, alien city. The story ends on that cliffhanger, to be continued, but not immediately thereafter.
Instead, the next story told is the middlemost story of the Ehrban saga, set on the homeworld of the nearly-humanoid Ehrban aliens, at a time in their history where their civilization is emerging from a medieval era dominated by apparent mages, into an era of mundanity and early industrialization, where the fragmented mundane nations are being terrorized by a powerful witch-queen, against whom the scattered remaining benevolent mages are either unwilling or unable to effectively stand. Against that backdrop, a feral child emerges from the wilderness, and is soon discovered to possess immense magical power, as well as a disturbing temperament, and to be on a single-minded quest of vengeance against the witch-queen. The only clue to the child's identity is a pendant, bearing the same symbol used as the logo of the Human saga's Foundation, which marks him as from the legendarily powerful lineage of a mythic figure named Meij, whose line was thought to have died out. Through the turmoil the child causes in his maniacal quest for vengeance and the reactions of the mundane nations to both him and the witch-queen, an international coalition is gradually formed to finally oppose her; and the child, though himself feared by mundane and magical alike, is turned as a useful weapon against her. This story ends also on a cliffhanger, on the eve of the climactic war of that new coalition against the witch-queen.
The third story told is the middlemost of the Sphidi saga, set in an apparent world of high fantasy, shared by ordinary-seeming humans of a medieval level of civilization, wizards, elves, and a foreign civilization of very human-seeming orcs, with their own warlocks and vampires, as well as myriad other fantastic beasts. The story centers around a war between the humans and orcs, told from the point of view of lowly humans in the trenches, to whom the orcs are seen as brutal foreign monsters who haunt the nights on the outskirts of human civilization. But as the war wears on, and the protagonists rise in rank and interact more with the wizards who nominally advise and assist but in fact seem more to command the human armies, it becomes more and more clear that the orcs are the victims of a war of aggression by the humans, and that the entire affair is being orchestrated by a pair of singular powers on either side, over something to do with a pair of magical jewels of immense power that may be the origin of the wizards' and warlocks' respective magic abilities, embodying the powers of the goddesses of the sun and moon respectively. Amidst this conflict and corruption, the protagonists learn of and join with a pacifist movement of rebel wizards, warlocks, and others, who reject both of those goddesses and worship the forgotten god of the old world, the Nolis... whose symbol is none other than the same symbol both of the Meij lineage and of the Foundation.
With the three settings thus established, a trilogy of prequels then begins. The first is a prequel to this Sphidi saga story, showing the discovery of the gems and the shaping of the world into the way we found it in the preceding story; both its social organization but also the literal reshaping of the physical lands with the immense power of those gems.
Next is a prequel to the very first story, in the Human saga, where the connections between the sagas begin to become apparent. The crew of the human starship from that first story are in an apparent high-fantasy world that is obviously related somehow to the world of the Sphidi saga stories thus far, and where death is apparently a temporary inconvenience. It seems to the audience, not yet knowing this is a prequel, that this might be something to do with what they found in that "holy" underground alien city. But most of the crew pay the setting little heed, ignoring the high-fantasy elements of it as though they were children's games and acting like all of this is perfectly normal and unexceptional; except for one of them, the one who awoke from stasis angry and suspicious of their mission, who is obsessed with a figure known only as the Queen of Hell (who will eventually turn out to be the Big Bad of the entire Chronicles). The rest of the crew, directed by a mysterious figure who we gradually learn is the head of the Foundation, try to dissuade him from his obsession, because they are nearly "at their destination". Just as he is beginning to get some information from the Queen, including notably that their Foundation logo is what she identifies as "the mark of the gods", he is awoken from stasis and pulled out of the virtual world in which the entire story, and presumably the Sphidi saga stories sharing that world, was apparently set, and awakens from his stasis pod on the ship at the start of the previous story.
The third prequel tells the shared backstory of the feral child and the witch-queen from the first Ehrban saga story, revealing their relation and the reason for his vendetta against her, as well as how he came to be of the supposedly lost lineage of Meij.
After that first set of prequels are finished, a set of sequels begins. The first of them concludes the events set up by the two Ehrban saga stories thus far, seeing at last the outcome of the war of the newly-formed coalition, and the feral child who is their weapon, in full force against the witch-queen.
The next sequel finally concludes the cliffhanger left at the end of the first Human saga story, and the final connection of all three sagas. The crew of the Foundation ship enter the supposed alien city they discovered at the conclusion of the first story, and failing to learn much from its still-operational but intransigent technology, begin to contemplate their fate and consider possibly just settling down in the city and living out the remainder of their lives here. But they eventually establish communication with the artificial intelligence that controls the entire place, and learn that the city is in fact an enormous starship, built by the same aliens who geo-engineered the planet and built the technology, now controlled by one of the primitive other species here, that shot down their ship. But those aliens, as well as all of the other more primitives species here, were in turn created by the Ehrban, specifically by one of them named Keius Meij (who will eventually turn out to be the Big Good of the entire Chronicles). The aliens who built the ship considered themselves the "children" of Keius, and their AI recognizes humans as the "adopted children" of him too; more than that, it recognizes the symbol on their uniforms as his symbol. More to the point at hand, it knows of the planet that humans are from, and wishes to protect both humanity and Earth as per Keius' wishes. To that extent, the ship offers to return the crew to Earth, which they gladly accept. As the enormous ship leaves the system through an artificial wormhole in its outer reaches, the larger story is still to be continued.
The third sequel tells the conclusion of the war between humans and orcs in the Sphidi saga, witnessing not only the sad defeat and subjugation of the orcs by humanity, but also a titanic magical duel between the wielders of the magical gems, that once again reshapes the very shape of the physical geography itself, and sees the gems themselves at last lost to history. In witnessing this deeper magic, it becomes more and more clear to the audience that "magic" in this setting is actually the issuance of commands to the simulation in which all of these stories are apparently set.
With all of the sagas finally connected, the remainder of the stories are told in increasingly-long sequences of prequels and sequels to the established stories. A trilogy of stories first tell of the supposed creation of the world that the preceding Sphidi saga stories were set it, beginning with the catastrophic collapse of some prior state of Virtuality, the simulation that it in fact inhabits. In those stories the Nolis, the old god who is later thought to have created the world, is revealed to be the same person as the leader of the Foundation, who merely preserved what he could of the old world of Virtuality; and his betrayal by the goddesses of the sun and moon is orchestrated by the figure known in Virtuality as the Queen of Hell. That betrayal gives rise to a sundering of Virtuality's native people into separate races of elves and vampires, the subsequent war between which gradually diminishes each side to the orcs and humans of the later stories.
Then a trilogy of Human saga stories explore the state of human civilization at Earth and its solar system during the time that the Foundation ship we've seen was visiting that alien world, culminating in the public revelation of the thus-far-secret Foundation, who seem to have roots stretching back into Earth's mythological past, to unite humanity against an imminent alien threat that they have long anticipated, as unknown aliens arrive through an artificial wormhole on the edge of the solar system. These stories star a young woman who turns out to be a different incarnation of the figure known in Virtuality as the Queen of Hell, and her complicated relationship with the leader of the Foundation that, though she doesn't initially remember it, apparently stretches back thousands of years.
A trilogy of Ehrban saga stories then explores the development of the medieval magical society which was just fading in the stories thus far told, and how it emerged from the barest remnants of a far more advanced prior civilization after their world was nearly annihilated in a war with another alien species. The supposed magic that later dominates their world is shown to be merely highly advanced technology, barely even understood by the survivors at this time, having been the creation of Keius Meij, who seems not to have survived their apocalypse, though his biological children live on.
That is followed by a trilogy of sequels that explore the culmination of the Ehrban's technological development in the age after the first set of stories. A conflict between the most technologically advanced nation and the regrouped remnants of the old mage civilization, over whether or not to allow exploration of outer space given the threat of hostile aliens like once nearly exterminated them, is mediated by another descendent of the Meij line, and culminates in a single massive ancient colony ship departing with anyone who wants to leave through an artificial wormhole in the outer reaches of the system, and the mage society once again taking charge of anyone who stays behind, banning further space travel and locking the wormhole behind them.
In the following trilogy of sequels to the Human saga thus far, the Foundation leads a war of humanity against unknown aliens who turn out to be the Ehrban, whom the Foundation mistook for a different alien threat, while the Ehrban meanwhile mistook humanity for the same, the aliens who once destroyed their ancient civilization. That conflict is cleared up when the Foundation ship from the very first story returns to Earth through Ehrban space, having been introduced by their new ship's AI, whose creators were creations and allies of the Ehrban. Just as peace seems to be met though, the threat both of them were expecting in fact arrives, and in the chaos of battle, though Earth's wormhole is locked to safeguard the solar system from further threats, Earth's moon is shattered, raining utter ruin down on human civilization, and both the lady protagonist of these stories and her erstwhile lover, the leader of the Foundation, seemingly die, him trying to rescue her alter-ego the Queen of Hell from Virtuality after her apparent death.
Then a trilogy of sequels to the Sphidi saga feature the re-emergence of elves and vampires into the world of humans and orcs left over from the end of the previous stories, and the unexpected emergence of half-elves or dhampires, equivalent beings in that world's metaphysics and identical to the native people who first inhabited Virtuality, who will be the only hope against them. A power-hungry vampire queen in possession of the lost gem of the moon-goddess schemes to mate with the king of the elves who likewise holds the lost gem of the sun-goddess, thereby siring a child powerful enough to conquer the world. But through those machinations the long game of the trapped Queen of Hell finally culminates, and she herself is reborn of that union, killing her surrogate parents in the process, and ushering in a chaotic reign of terror that none but the half-elves or dhampires can possibly survive.
From there the pattern expands to trilogies of trilogies for one final round of prequels and sequels to round out the whole universe. A nine-part prequel to the Sphidi saga shows the leader of the Foundation, though not in that capacity, commissioning the creation of Virtuality on Earth before any of the Human saga stories we've seen thus far; publicly, to serve as a sort of artificial afterlife for everyone's minds to be uploaded to, but privately to serve as a place to offload the mind of his long-dead love that he has carried with him for thousands of years, the figure who would go on to become the Queen of Hell once released into Virtuality.
Then another nine-part prequel to the Human saga shows the backstory to that relationship and much more, as the founders of the Foundation turn out to be ancient immortals, humans modified by Keius Meij twelve thousand years ago and then suddenly abandoned, whose lives were the true stories behind all ancient mythologies, with the eventual Foundation's leader being none other than Zeus, and the Queen of Hell the remnant of the mind of his first wife Metis, who he reluctantly slew but preserved the consciousness of in his own mind, in turn thereby torturing himself for millennia. As the pantheon's lives fade into myth, their covert machinations gradually shape world history, and they ultimately reconvene as the secret society we come to know as the Foundation.
A final nine-part prequel to the Ehrban saga then chronicles the life of Keius Meij, his discovery of "magic" technology left behind by inscrutable extragalactic powers, and the transformation that Ehrban society undergoes as a consequence; his creation of other sapient species and the remarkable discovery of ancient Earth and primitive humanity whom he cherishes and wishes to safeguard and study the future development of; and the war with another alien species, an offshoot of the Ehrban themselves, which eventually destroys Ehrban civilization, plunging it into the stone age from which we have already seen it reemerge.
We then skip forward over twelve thousand years to the Ehrban colony ship that left to re-explore space at the end of the last story in this saga. A nine-part sequel to that story shows their rediscovery of lost colony worlds, the reactivation of their ancient wormhole network, the meeting of other survivors of the war, mostly Ehrban and other species of their creation, but then also the remnants of the aliens the war with whom once annihilated their civilization, a war which it seems has never really ended, merely been temporarily suspended thanks to the limit of the speed of light, a limit now lifted with the reactivation of the wormhole network. The resumption of the war coincides with the rediscovery of humanity, and our unfortunate destruction as Earth's moon is shattered as we've already seen.
In the nine-part final chapter of the Human saga, we pick up unknown centuries or millennia after the collapse of human civilization, when the body of the lady protagonist of this saga, once known as Metis in another life, buried under the rubble of the ruined world, is uncovered due to natural erosion and awakens thanks to the immortality bestowed on her people by Keius Meij ages ago. She discovers what remains of humanity in this post-apocalyptic world as she gradually remembers who she is, becomes a pivotal figure in the new world's history over the millennia to come, and searches for her lost love, the former leader of the Foundation once known as Zeus, whom she is convinced is just as alive as she is; and when she discovers him, she also discovers what remains of Virtuality thanks to his efforts to preserve it, and inside it the remains of human civilization that once was.
In the nine-part conclusion to the entire Chronicles, the Sphidi saga returns to its forgotten roots, as the people of Virtuality gradually begin to discover that their entire world is virtual and to recover their original memories thanks to the efforts of the humans outside the simulation. They are eventually freed from the hellish dream world they've been trapped in through connections to robotic bodies in the real world, which are eventually upgraded to "holographic" bodies using the same technology as the Ehrban's "magic", which are far more powerful than they at first appear. With this accomplished, the Queen of Hell then executes her plan, resumes the control she has all the while retained of the people in those powerful new "magic" bodies, and unleashes the real-world equivalent of her destructive chaotic "demons" on actual reality. These quickly overwhelm all opposition, running progressively more of the galaxy down to maximal entropy, except for the Queen's immortal physical counterpart, the lady protagonist of the Human saga formerly known as Metis. She seeks out the Ehrban homeworld in desperate search of help, and there finds Keius Meij has since returned, travelling at subluminal speeds from Earth back home over tens of thousands of years. With his help in channelling the aid of the extragalactic powers who invented the "magic" technology that Keius merely discovered — and learning in the process that their own real world is in some poorly-understood way "virtual" itself, and that the "magic technology" in in fact actual magic exploiting that virtuality, disguised as technology to hide that fact from unknown forces beyond reality who have previously rewritten history itself to eliminate magic — she is able to defeat her counterpart the Queen of Hell, but only by sacrificing her love formerly known as Zeus, on whom Virtuality and thus the Queen still depend; and not before essentially all other life in the galaxy has already been destroyed. That powerful act brings down a redaction of history that causes that galactic apocalypse to have never happened, but thanks to the grace of those extragalactic powers, an incomprehensibly knowledgable society of world-minds spanning many distant galaxies, her memory of it is preserved. In the redacted timeline, she is merged with her virtual counterpart, allowing her love to be awoken, and humanity to survive, and to more freely use the Ehrban magic to make their so-called real world as malleable as the virtual one.