In the land where I was born, life revolved around the changing of the seasons. Unlike those you may be familiar with, the Seasons of my world were real, tangible beings. Gods unlike those you may worship, and entirely at the forefront of life. This work will seek to explore the lives of these beings, and provide insight into my home to those who wish to know.
For four thousand years, the world has been ruled by The Four; powerful and deific beings, each reigning for a single year before being undone by a successor. Sometimes this transition is peaceful, sometimes it is accompanied by bloody conflict. Always, the cycle continues after one year, no more, no less. This work will go into considerably further detail on each of The Four, but allow me to briefly summarize them here.
Lord Spring: Spring is a capricious being, preferring his life of revelry as a prince to his duty as a king. He will always gladly surrender the throne to Summer when the time comes. He greatly enjoys his conquests against Winter. He most often takes the form of a short, pink man, walking on the legs of a goat with a matching pair of spiraling horns and dressed in luxurious silks and furs. He wears a jade mask with a wide nose, large mustache and beard, and a mouth curled into a jovial smile. Spring is much beloved by his courtiers, and very few days go by during his reigns without a feast or ball.
Sovereign Summer: Summer shares none his predecessor’s joy. They are a vicious and wrathful entity, who cares little for anything other than power. As oppressive as they are prideful, Summer is quick to harshly quell any plots against them, real or otherwise. Nevertheless, there are many who despise living under such an unyielding regime, and actively work against it. Summer is usually shaped as a sexless, brown-skinned, well-toned human, bedecked in garish purple and yellow cloth robes, and a golden mask, relatively nondescript, with wide eyes and a mocking grin.
Lady Autumn: Often considered the easiest of The Four to live under, Autumn is an aloof and pragmatic monarch. Dispassion should not be confused for lack of care, however. She is a diligent and effective ruler, balancing the realm quite well. While not warm by any means, she will be understanding. Though she possesses a certain haunting beauty, it is hard to mistake Autumn as human. Her skin is an unearthly white, clad in dull toned garments and accented by a long mane of auburn hair. Her mask is a burnt red, carved from wood, virtually featureless but for the eyes. A small pair of velvet antlers grow from her hairline.
Winter: Hard, cold, and unyielding. These words best describe Winter, whose name is spoken in hushed tones, and whose presence is universally avoided. More a force than a being, one gets the impression that Winter reigns simply because that is what it does, and the palace becomes very quiet during its reign, with only the most loyal (or sycophantic) courtiers remaining. Rare moments of personality reveal a startling clarity and intelligence beneath its bestial exterior. Winter rarely stays in one shape for long, sometimes a large man, or beautiful woman, or four legged beast, or simply a hulking shadow. Whatever form Winter takes, it is always clad in black, and always wears its mask, a gleaming white porcelain skull, hiding the frigid darkness beneath.
Very little is known of the origins of The Four. Their relationship to each other is not well understood, but appears to vaguely fraternal. All four are loathe to speak of their beginnings, and pressing the topic is unwise.
There are many who flock to the Seasonal court, to petition or advise or attempt to get close to whichever being happens to sit the throne. Their reasons for doing so are many and varied, but each tends to fit into a role, as follows.
The Nobility: There are many established and powerful people that have made a name for themselves at the palace. Most are ultimately negligible, but there are a small few have ambitions that stretch much further than they ought.
Clergy: While not exactly religious officials, each Season surrounds themselves with a group of ministers, advisers, and servants that might as well be worshipers. Devoted in theory, the clergy are in actuality often acting towards their own goals, and merely hiding behind false sanctity. Those that serve Spring and Autumn are known Equinoxes, and those that serve Summer and Winter are known as Solstices.
The Children: Over time, each of The Four has whelped a number of offspring with mortals, giving rise to a small handful of demigods. Most of these beings reside at court, and all of them have their own agenda.
Philosophers: Finally, there are those like me; historians, alchemists, sorcerers, wandsmen, and a great variety of other learned individuals, who have been brought to court for our knowledge, abilities, great wit, and the occasional joke. Now it cannot be said that all of are free of political ambition, but I certainly believe that the majority of my peers are here for the opportunity to access the greatest repository of information and gathering of minds in this world.
Odds and Ends
Before you proceed, there is something I must make you aware of. There are things written in this book that a great many people and other assorted entities do not want anyone to know. By reading further, you risk the burden of carrying with you knowledge that cannot but undone. I myself have been banished from my home for simply knowing it. Fortunately, I have found this place, a greater store of knowledge than I could have ever dreamed, and I have been able to devote my days to completing this work. Read on, if that’s what you desire.
-Excerpt from Mónos’s 'Life Of The Seasons'.