To the most illustrious and invincible Highness, Prince Verethragnan, heir to the Throne of Unyielding Justice, I, Katayana of Amaranth, sends greetings.
You have asked me, my Prince, of the beginnings of all things. To my shame this is not something I can truly answer. My only excuse, my Lord, is that the answer was lost some time before the last of the Giants was slain. To prove that I, Your least of servants, is truthful in this claim permit me to digress for but a moment.
The name of our world is probably the greatest mystery in all the ancient study of etymology. Every culture we have met has named this world their language's cognate of "Kshiurana." From the farthest west there is Sciuren and from the farthest east Shikuran. Nor can we detect any distribution of this name from a singular origin that has spread out during the six centuries since the beginning of this age. Our earliest records, no matter what culture or language, all refer to this planet with this word.
However, though we know the word, we are not entirely sure what it means. We may, however, use logical processes, that you are so skilled with, to determine a probable answer.
First, we must examine the implications of this etymological quandary, my Prince, that are surely obvious to You. Permit me, however, as Your tutor to lay these out clearly so that as philosophers we can examine them. We shall start by working from the assumption based upon the best evidence available to us that the idea of Kshiurana is a memory inherent in all cultures.
The implication is that this intercultural memory comes from a time that predates all of human history. History, as we have already discussed, is the recounting of actions of humans that have been recorded in whatever language and medium is available to the culture. It is true that Your line is the greatest of all royal lines in this, Kshiurana, and by extension the history of Your kingdom the most important in all the world. Nevertheless, it falls to us as philosophers to seek out and learn the histories of other cultures, even those as strange and barbaric as that of the Eleven Kingdoms on the islands of the Western Sea.
As I mentioned, each of these histories call this world their version of the same word, but what is also interesting to the philosophical mind are the origins of these earliest histories. As all men know, and You above all of them save Your father the greatest of all men, this age began with the final defeat of the Giants who had for so long enslaved our race. There, at the Battle of the First Kings?, their evil was ended forever and many of the kingdoms of Kshiurana were founded.
The honor and glory displayed and earned on that field, as You know, led us to number all of our years from that date. Yet that battle was merely the culmination of a war that lasted decades and most cultures have histories written prior to what we now call the First Year. Our own histories, for example, stretch back some decades prior to that time as we carved out for ourselves the freedom to write words pertaining to ourselves as free creatures and not merely slaves. It is further proof of the greatness of Your line that our histories number amongst the earliest of all.
Yet histories of the Empire of Sabinia are attested to have been written but a scant pair of years after our own. Even as we learn the limits of the Five Streams in this advanced and peaceful age, it would be difficult for one of us to travel that great distance in but two years. This is even more true of the histories written upon birch bark in the farthest north where frozen rivers are the only roads. Yet, as I have said, each of these texts agree upon the name Kshiurana.
Hence, we can only assume, as men seeking wisdom, that the name Kshiurana predates the end of the Giants.
Forgive me, Your Highness, for my tedious path to explain that which surely was obvious to You but for those lesser souls such as my own it is beneficial that we methodically proceed through the evidence.
It is this evidence that leads You to my obvious conundrum. How can I, a mere servant, succeed where no others have? For, as You know, we have no recorded history prior to these days for the Giants would not allow their servants this right. Letters they taught us so that we could copy their texts, but literacy they justly feared. All we have are the tales we told huddled in our cold homes and cells when they were not listening.
Those tales that have survived, as You know, are filled with mystery and wonder but not the details that a philosophical mind would require. We may enjoy them for their rough beauty and their soul of suffering and hope, but few indeed are the facts we may glean from them.
As You also know, we have recovered some few texts and inscriptions of the Giants when we finally defeated them. Sadly, I and my brethren have failed at this time to uncover the meaning in these remaining texts for humans were never permitted to learn to read the language of the Giants.
We can deduce the sounds of the letters, and across our world virtually every language uses a script that evolved from our regional memories of the Giants' alphabet. However, though we at times can guess the sound, we cannot divine the meaning of the words.
Nevertheless, the Imperial version of Kshiurana "Shijuren" may offer a clue, as we think the Giants referred to themselves as the yuran, or something similar. Our best guess, then, is that the word survived from their language. Perhaps the original word meant "Giants' World" or "Giants' Home." We may never know, for theirs is a language we have essentially lost.
Forgive us our failure, but know, my prince, that my brethren and I will not rest until we have learned what these say. Should any of us die before can report our success to You, know that our successors will take up this banner and strive forever to unlock those secrets.
Hence, Your Highness, I humbly apologize that I cannot answer for You the question that You have asked. History, as we know it, holds not that answer. Philosophy instructs us, as is obvious to You, that there must be a start, a single prime movement or prime thing that from which all else is derived. To my greatest shame, I cannot put a name or description to that starting point.
Though I realize that I have but merely walked upon a trail that is brightly lit to Your mind, I hope that this exercise has not been without some worth to You. Perhaps, this methodical approach has highlighted something that You knew but had not previously considered in the limited time Your duties allow You to consider natural philosophy.
In such hopes, I remain Your dutiful servant, Katayana of Amaranth.
- Excerpt of the Katayanicum, Book I, Chapter 2.