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Bardan

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PostSubject: History of the World   Sat Jun 29, 2013 3:10 am

The Fall of the Kandra and the Rise of Garacaius

Many thousands of years ago, the world of Darien was united into one: the Kingdom of Kandra.

The Ancient Kingdom of Kandra
The Kandrans were a race as old as Darien itself, and their strict but benevolent rule stretched to the most faraway corner of their dominion.  This rule was exceptional in one respect -- it was not upheld by a vast bureaucracy, an omnipresent spy network, or garrisons of soldiers in every little town and village.  The Kingdom of Kandra drew its power from the Kandrans' mastery of Mana, the currency of magic.

The Magical Powers of the Kandrands
The Kandrands were masters of magic -- even an average Kandran was capable of such simple, useful feats as turning water into beer or dissolving an ugly body wart.  It is believed that the Five Wizards of Kandra held enough power to destroy the entire universe.  At least part of this power was believed to come from a secret artifact known as the Heart of Thesth.  It was rumored that the Heart of Thesh gave its possessor the ability to summon a devastating force, a force against which there was no defense.

Fortunately, the Five Wizards of Kandra were as wise as they were powerful.  While they instantly knew of any transgression of their code -- called the Laws of Life -- and doled out appropriate punishments, the Wizards never abused their position.  They knew that any bending of the natural rules inherent in the manipulation of Mana would have disastrous consequences.  And so, any personal joy derived from their immense powers was tempered by the weight of equally immense responsibilities.

Kandran Wizards practiced their magical arts at special, sacred sites that enhanced the power of the magic.  These sites, marked by a circle of standing stones, probably contained extraordinary concentrations of Mana.  It is an established fact that these sites retain special magical properties even today.  When Mana was used on a truly massive scale, a rare mineral would sometimes result.  This was known as Mogrite -- a substance that gives mere humans immense magical powers, as well as immortality.

The Five Legacies
The Kandrans were quick to recognize the value of Mogrite.  All of the five Mogrite stones ever found were incorporated into items known thereafter as the Five Legacies: a pendant, a bracelet, a scepter, a ring, and -- a throne.

Four of the Legacies symbolized the four elements -- Earth, Water, Wind, and Fire -- while the fifth stood for the amalgamation of the four elements into one entity: the world.  Thus, the pendant containing the Mogrite stone known as the Stone of Darien symbolized Earth, and the bracelet with the stone known as the Soul of Kandra symbolized Wind.  The scepter topped with the stone known as Angvir's Flame symbolized Fire, while the ring with the small but incredibly pure Macha's Tear symbolized Water.

The biggest Mogrite jewel, symbolizing the world as a whole, was known as Modron's Eye.  It was mounted on the top of the Throne of Ludd, an imposing throne sculpted from blackstone, a Darien rock as hard as steel.

The Five Legacies were put in the custody of the Five Wizards of Kandra.  Each Wizard was responsible for a particular Legacy for a single year.  At the end of every year, the Wizards exchanged the Legacies among themselves. This was meant to underline the fact that the Wizards were not owners, but merely custodians, of the Five Legacies.

The Decline of Kandran Civilization
The Kandrans thought that putting the Mogrite Legacies under the Wizards' care would ensure continued peace and security.  Alas, they were wrong.

As time went on, the Wizards realized that possessing a Mogrite stone meant much more than greatly increased magical powers.  Mogrite also gave its possessor such benefits as immunity to sickness, almost instant healing wounds and injuries, and incredible longevity.  It also turned out that the Mogrite stones incorporated into the Five Legacies were unequal in power.  Modron's Eye stood out, in particular, for it gave its owner -- or custodian -- practical immortality.  The uniting principle behind the Five Wizards was their equality as regards one another.  Now, the custodian of the throne with Modron's Eye was more fortunate than the others.

What's more, the Wizards' new, long lifespand wasn't that pleasing to all the Kandrans.  The resentment arose very slowly; the Kandrans were a people who enjoyed long lives in general -- the average Kandran could hope to live well in excess of a hundred years.  But after two generations of Kandrans had gone by, and the same set of Wizards continued to govern the kingdom, eyebrows were being raised and questions asked.

They were asked most loudly by the five acolytes chosen to succeed the reigning Wizards.  It took thirty-six years to train a talented Kandran for the Wizards' post; the training was very strict, conducted in conditions similar to solitary confinement.  One set of acolytes had already died without ever putting their hard-gained knowledge into practice.  And so, the candidates-in-waiting whispered and grumbled, sometimes publicly, which was a scandal without precedent in Kandran history.

The Fall of Kandra
In happier times, the Five Wizards would have instantly been aware of the discontent. They would have righted the wrongs, punished the wrongdoers — if any — and things would have returned to normal. But the Wizards were increasingly involved in a power struggle. By that time, they all had their favorite Legacies, and of course the most coveted prize of all was the throne with Modron’s Eye.

The final calamity struck without warning. There are no records, no evidence of what exactly led to the catastrophic collapse of the Kingdom of Kandra. Was it a Wizard making a vicious bid for ultimate power? Was it a bitter acolyte, a frustrated Wizard-in-waiting, putting his hard-gained knowledge to devious ends?

No one will ever know.

The Day of the Great Calamity
What we do know is that exactly 427 years — to the day — after the Wizards took custody of the Legacies, Darien was struck by the ultimate disaster. All natural laws suddenly ceased to work. Farm animals swelled and burst as their bodily fluids instantly transformed to gas. People died horrible deaths, bones snapping as their bodies twisted into impossible shapes, eyes popping clear of their contorted faces as their heads swelled and cracked open like overripe grapefruits. In the Kandran capital, the enormous belusa trees lining all the main streets shriveled and split lengthwise, spilling smoking sap. Seas and lakes hissed and steamed, rivers became rocky canyons, and mountains roared and crumbled into stony plains.Finally, the land itself groaned horribly, and a devastating earthquake swept Darien far and wide.

It was all over in a couple of heartbeats. A terrible silence fell over the tortured land of Darien, and then a bloody rain came down and fell for three nights and days.

The Healing of Darien
Incredibly, handfuls of life survived — among them, a few dazed witnesses of the cataclysm that had just passed. They did not know why they had been spared and didn’t dare to speculate. For immediately following the catastrophe, Darien was blessed by a period of incredibly clement weather that lasted the better part of a century. New water springs burst open across the land, deserts slowly filled with seas of swaying grass and birds began to twitter yet again, perched on the branches of young saplings.

It was as if Nature had decided to nurse the world back to health; slowly, the scattered survivors of the disaster grew into clans and tribes. But however far away and out of touch they were, all those freshly born pockets of civilized life shared one belief,one attitude: an absolute abhorrence of the magical arts. Merely speaking about the existence of the Kandran plaything that had laid low the land meant severe punishment.

The enormous store of magical knowledge accumulated by the Kandrans was lost.And as hamlets grew into villages, and villages into towns, there developed a new faith: a belief in the essential rightness of things as they were. If something was a certain way, that was the way it was meant to be.

The New Darien
The healing of Darien took thousands of years. The newly emerged tribes had adopted a new calendar, starting with the day of the Great Calamity as Day One. And so we know today that agriculture became possible again in Darien towards the close of the First Millennium; that the Second Millennium ushered in the appearance of numerous new species of flora and fauna; and that by the end of the Third Millennium,most of Darien’s scars had overgrown with lush fields and forests. By the middle of the Fourth Millennium, nearly all of the tribes inhabiting Darien had reestablished contact with one another. This spurred progress, and many areas of knowledge grew by leaps and bounds, not least because finally the various surviving crumbs of Kandran knowledge became available to all.

However, one area of Kandran knowledge was left untouched. Of course it had to be the most important matter of them all: Kandran magic. To the creators of Darien’s new civilization, magic was a Pandora’s box of misfortune that would devour anyone who dared open it.

By that time, laws prohibiting magic-related activities weren’t necessary. To most of Darien’s new people, admitting so much as an interest in the magical arts was the social equivalent of confessing to a fancy for gruesome murder. This was how things were.

Until Garacaius.

The Baby in the Woods
It was a special day — the last day of the Fourth Millennium. Pesco the fisherman was busy poling his boat along the thickly wooded shore. It wasn’t easy — a mist had settled on the water, and Pesco had to watch out for floating, dead wood, a task made even more difficult by the occasional screen of reeds. He was in a great hurry though, because the evening was to be full of festivities to mark the coming of the New Millennium, and this hurry was his undoing. The flat-bottomed boat suddenly reared up like a startled horse as it struck a half-submerged trunk, and Pesco got very wet.

The water wasn’t deep. Pesco stood submerged to his waist, spitting out curses and wringing out his cap.When it was dry enough to put back on his bald head, he did so, and took stock of the situation. It quickly dawned on him that all the fish he’d caught earlier were enjoying newfound freedom — he’d humanely but unwisely left them alive. He was about to start cursing again when he heard the baby cry. He listened, staring wide-eyed into the mist; the cry came again.

He waded through the water, then hesitated, standing knee-deep before a twisted tree bending from the shore; he had never seen a tree like that before. The third cry came. Pesco was suddenly seized with a grim foreboding of something about to happen.Dark-eyed with fright, he didn’t even notice the drops of water that ran out from under his cap and down his face. The clammy air was still. Then Pesco’s arm shot out as if of its own accord and grabbed an overhanging branch. Moments later, he was treading carefully through the moss and tangled grass — he was barefoot, and the ground was covered with sharp, dry twigs.

He found the baby almost right away — he practically stepped on it after he pushed past through a pair of prickly bushes. The baby lay on a patch of open ground, naked as nature had made it, with nothing but a tiny leather pouch tied by thongs to the baby’s foot.

Pesco’s thick, scarred fingers untied the thongs with amazing deftness. He pulled the pouch open, peered inside and reacted as if he had just looked death in the face. He jerked his head back and flung the pouch into the forest as far as he could. Those pale, softly growing grains — they had to be something magical! The infant had a pouch of some unnatural substance attached to its foot!

Pesco’s breath came in ragged gasps as he scrabbled around, looking for a suitably large branch or rock.He found his weapon and stood over the baby, trying to summon the determination he needed.

The baby! He could see it was a little boy.

He already had nine children of his own. Even if he’d found this one untainted by evil…he just couldn’t afford another mouth to feed. But he could find someone else to take care of it, couldn’t he? But there wasn’t any sense thinking about it.
The pouch…

Pesco grasped his club firmly. He raised it and held it high for a moment.

But…the baby! The baby, the baby, the baby!

With a shriek of dismay, Pesco threw the makeshift club after the pouch,hearing it crash and tear through the shrubbery. He cursed as he picked the baby up, cursed as he carried it back to the boat, and cursed most of the long way home.

Pesco had always cursed a lot, and that was why he fished alone.

The Humble Fisherman
It is recorded that on the fifth day of the sixth month of the sixteenth year in the Fifth Millennium, a youth named Garacaius passed the final examinations at the Ugarit Academy and left this famous school under a cloud.

Before graduation, each student was required to submit an essay on an extracurricular subject. The subject didn’t really matter — what mattered was the student’s ability to argue a point in a logical and convincing manner. Prize-winning essays included “The Joyful Fly: An Examination of the Relationship Between Selected Household Insects and Wildberry Jam,” and the sensational “Stories My Mute Father Never Told Me: Adventures in Carpentry.” Young Garacaius, however, had dared to write a treatise on…Mana, and the role of magic in the natural world!

To many, this confirmed Garacaius as a suspicious character. To start with, it was well known that he attended the Academy through the help and protection of the Leimar clan, which practically ruled Ugarit. Yet he had repeatedly stated that he was not a member of the clan, most recently when tensions between the Leimar and the Balistan clans briefly flamed into armed hostilities.When asked about his birthplace, Garacaius claimed to come from a fishing village south of Ugarit. But a couple of students passing through that very village quickly found that none of its inhabitants had ever heard of Garacaius. In short, he was already somewhat suspect by the time he submitted his scandalous paper. All over Ugarit, doors leading to prospective employers firmly slammed shut.

Garacaius did not ask for anyone’s help. He left Ugarit and made his way to the fishing village he thought he’d come from. His Leimar “relatives” had told him about the poor fisherman who couldn’t afford the upkeep of a child. He found Pesco, by then bent with age, though still cursing as fluently as ever. To his chagrin, the old fisherman refused to answer any questions about Garacaius’ origins.

Garacaius had nowhere to go, so he stayed. He went out fishing with old Pesco — the first person ever to do that — and the old man was quietly grateful for a companion who did not object to his rude manner and helped with tasks he found increasingly difficult.What was more, before long the young man showed a flash of talent that amazed the fisherman.

The Boat that Changed Darien
The boat Pesco used had a flat bottom, like all Darien craft. Its shallow draft meant it could easily skim the waters on calm days and penetrate any encountered river with ease. However, the slightest storm could be extremely dangerous.

After a lot of nagging, Pesco agreed to help Garacaius build a new boat with a revolutionary design featuring a deeper draft. Almost half of the hull was to be underwater! Pesco argued a boat like that would be difficult to steer, slow to gather speed and slow to stop, and that the submerged hull would never be watertight. But his arguments were in vain — Garacaius was as stubborn as a mule, and in the end the old man gave up.

By the beginning of the next fishing season, the boat was ready. To everyone’s amazement, it was almost as easy to maneuver as the traditional flat-bottomed craft. What’s more, its superior stability allowed the use of a sail in relatively strong wind. Before long, Garacaius and Pesco were making long voyages to hitherto inaccessible fishing grounds.

It was during one of these longer trips that Pesco finally told Garacaius how he had found him, as a baby abandoned in the forest. It isn’t clear whether he mentioned the magical pouch. What is known is that Pesco and Garacaius began returning from their trips with immense hauls; in one voyage, they would net more fish than all the remaining fishermen in the village.

For the first time in his long, hard life, Pesco had enough money to spend every weekend in the village inn, drinking as if there were no tomorrow and pinching any shapely female bottom within reach. One weekend, staggering back home after a night of libations, poor old Pesco fell into a roadside ditch half full of water from a recent rain. Mean tongues said he was asleep before he hit the water.

But there were also whispers that Pesco said Garacaius had used unnatural talents to secure a rich catch on every fishing trip, and that there was an ugly argument, a fight. The fact is, Pesco the old fisherman was dead drunk, and drowned in ankle-deep water. Suddenly, Garacaius found himself resented. Pesco’s family held him partly responsible, although just a month earlier they couldn’t praise him enough for his role in turning around Pesco’s fishing fortunes.

A week after Pesco’s death, Garacaius loaded his few belongings onto his boat and sailed west out of the village harbor and into the open sea. The fishermen mending nets at the end of the pier glanced up from their work from time to time and looked at the solitary sail. It grew progressively smaller, lingered as a white spot on a sea lit golden by the setting sun, then disappeared.

The Good Fortune of the Merchants of Irgiron
Irgiron, an island located right in the center of Darien, had always been an important trading center. At the dawn of the Fifth Millennium, Irgiron was home to a dozen trading houses that kept a firm grip on most of Darien’s intercontinental trade.

The merchants of Irgiron weren’t as well off as they could have been, because the flat-bottomed trading vessels in use at that time were notoriously unseaworthy. As a result, the merchants lost as many goods to the sea as they managed to trade.Therefore, the appearance of a young man who claimed to have invented a truly seaworthy boat excited a lot of interest.

Within a short time, Garacaius had all the support he needed to begin building an ocean-going ship. He retained the oarsmen — Darien craft were traditionally powered by seamen’s arms rather than wind — but added a large square sail. As he explained to the merchants, the stability provided by the ship’s deep draft allowed the use of a sail in almost any weather. Furthermore, the deep hull offered the possibility of large cargo holds — Garacaius claimed his vessel would be able to carry as much merchandise as half a dozen of the traditional craft, and carry it in safety.

He was right. Within a few years, Irgiron’s population doubled. New manufacturers popped up almost weekly, and the Irgiron merchants grew fat and happy.

The Rise of Garacaius
As for Garacaius, he had established trading posts of his own in all the principal ports of Darien and became one of its richest citizens.He established his center of operations in Estoril, Irgiron’s largest town. He built a magnificent house for himself, containing what was said to be the biggest library in Darien.

But Garacaius did not seem to enjoy the fruits of his efforts — more and more he left business affairs in the hands of trusted associates and disappeared for months on private expeditions.He explored all of Darien’s seas and was rumored to have set foot on some of the unexplored, strange lands beyond Darien. He made long voyages inland — on one of those, he reached the lost city of Waleph; its inhabitants had been cut off from the rest of Darien for five thousand years.

The Strange Voyages of Garacaius
The men who accompanied Garacaius on these voyages were very close-mouthed. On occasion, especially when they had just returned from another journey and the relief had loosened their tongues, they described many extraordinary things.

They spoke of ghost cities, and stone houses along paved avenues populated by no one but birds and wild animals. They described strange creatures, some half animal and half human, and others that clung to life although their eyes had rotted out of their sockets and most of their flesh had decayed and fallen away. The men spoke also of strange places — circles of immense stone slabs where the very ground glowed with a soft, moist light.

But the very next day, when asked to explain or to elaborate, the men that had sailed with Garacaius would shake their aching heads and mutter denials. However, one thing they were all happy to say, whenever asked, was that Garacaius was an exceptional man and that they trusted him with their bodies and their souls. This strange mention of the spiritual sent shivers down the backs of most inquirers, and discouraged further questions.

The longest of Garacaius’ expeditions, which took him to the heart of Zhon, lasted nearly two years. When he returned, his retinue was increased by a new companion: a beautiful woman, as dark-haired and dark-complexioned as Garacaius was fair. Normally this would have excited much comment, and Lasha, the dark-haired beauty, would have been the object of many inquisitive stares. But times had changed during Garacaius’ latest absence. Things weren’t normal. The whole of Darien had been swept by the flame of war.

The Great Civil War of Darien
It all started in the land of Taros, the land Garacaius had left so many years earlier to seek his fortunes at sea. The clans of Leimar and Balistan had one of their periodical skirmishes, only this time the House of Ontinor felt obliged to put in its two coppers’ worth. The Ontinor was linked to the House of Aidenfel in the land of Aramon, and in the scuffle Aramon’s House of Buriash took the opportunity to seize some disputed land. And so it went.

Within the year, every single clan and noble house of Darien was engaged in hostilities of some sort against one or more enemies. The web of communication Garacaius had woven with his ships spread the disease of war to every shore.

Garacaius tried to remain uninvolved, but it was hardly possible.Within a month of his return, his trading post on the island of Caora was raided by sea brigands, and the islanders were put to the sword. Garacaius led a small army of volunteers out to punish them, and before he knew it he was involved in half a dozen squabbles with various armed factions.

The Great Civil War of Darien lasted eight years. For the first five, it wasn’t so much a full-fledged war as a series of ongoing skirmishes — short intervals of peace were interrupted by bloody flare-ups that lost their fire after a couple of furious battles.

The Birth of Veruna
However, by the fifth year of the war, things changed. The numerous independent factions, most of them grouped around the noble houses, clans and tribes of Darien, finally merged into four distinct sides. Three of these contestants wanted to pursue the conflict to its bitter end. The fourth — a federation of island city-states sought immediate peace and the settling of differences through negotiation. This pacifistic attitude was not surprising, for the island cities were constantly fighting hostile forces, having found themselves caught in the middle of the global battlefield.

It was no surprise that the city representatives elected Garacaius the leader of the island federation. After all, the islands had been his base of operations for many years, and he was widely respected.What was significant was that the federation adopted the name of Veruna, an ancient Kandran word signifying deep regard for the truth.

The Triumphs of Garacaius
It soon became apparent that the Kandran link went beyond the name. Veruna’s forces, led by Garacaius, repulsed all attackers with astonishing ease. In the sixth year of the war, one of the noble houses of Aramon, the Dernhest, suddenly declared itself an ally of Veruna, and by the end of the year the entire continent of Veruna was in Garacaius’ hands. In the seventh year of the war, Garacaius took the southern land of Zhon. But there were also growing rumors that the leader of the forces of Truth had used magic to subdue his opponents.

In the eighth year of the war, Garacaius invaded Taros. His army came ashore not a mile from the fishing village that had been his home. But the village was lifeless — its inhabitants had fled, expecting to be massacred. That evening, the great leader was thoughtful and sad as he stood at the edge of his army’s camp,watching the sun set over the lifeless houses.

The Reappearance of Magic
It was an appropriate portent for what was to follow. The Tarosian campaign turned out to be the most savage of the entire war. The noble houses of Taros ceased all infighting and presented a united front to the invading army. Hopelessly outnumbered, the Taros nobles turned in desperation to that old, secret weapon of the Kandrans: magic.

Taros had always had an unfair share of Darien’s magic potential. There is a theory that attributes this to the active volcanoes in the Kaf range, which forms the continent’s rocky spine. The cells of the Judicial Palace in Elam had always contained at least one unfortunate soul put away for showing an unhealthy interest in the magical arts. Now, with the armies of Garacaius quickly advancing inland, these wretched aspiring magicians were hurriedly pulled out of the dungeons and ordered to save the forces of Taros from a certain defeat.As luck would have it, with their very first effort, the newly appointed Wizards managed to blind a cavalry detachment scouting the approach route to Taros’ capital, Elam.

Historians agree that Garacaius was beside himself with fury upon hearing the news. He immediately ordered a forced march on Elam, and demanded an instant, unconditional surrender from the city’s defenders. When it was apparent that a surrender was not coming, Garacaius retreated to his tent and emerged wearing a ring no one had seen before. Stepping out in front of the line of his troops, he raised his arms and cried out words in a strange language, then quickly knelt down and bowed his head. To a man, his entire army, fifty thousand strong, did the same.

Witnesses said a strange, dark mist then descended on Elam, silencing the jeers and insults of the soldiers lining the fortified walls. A long and terrifying silence fell, and at long last the mist began to dissolve. A moment later, Garacaius rose from his knees and led his army into a deserted city. The entire population had vanished into thin air; it was a very quiet occupying army that marched in. Each throat was gripped by realization that Garacaius was a Mage, a Mage whose powers equaled those of the infamous Wizards of Kandra.

The New Mage Emperor of Darien
After this final victory, there was no question as to who should rule the newly united world of Darien. There was only one possible candidate: Garacaius.

He moved swiftly, establishing the new Darien capital in the city that had been his home for some time: Estoril,on the island of Irgiron. He was probably at least partly motivated by sentiment for Irgiron, for that was where he had made his fortune. More coldheartedly, the central location of the island conferred various strategic advantages. Garacaius’ already magnificent house was rebuilt and expanded into a true palace.

On the day he assumed power,Garacaius made a famous speech to the Darien nobles assembled in the new parliament. He revealed that he had been actively pursuing magical knowledge for many years, and that in the course of his expeditions he had recovered all Five Legacies, the heirloom of the Kandrans. In a famous speech known later as the Oath to Darien, Garacaius swore never to abuse the magical knowledge he had acquired, and to use it only in the direst necessity and in accordance with the wishes of his people. Moreover, Garacaius swore never to use magic for personal advantage, no matter the circumstances.

The Reign of Garacaius
In the years that followed, Garacaius kept his oath. His new empire suffered many growing pains. Civil war flared occasionally, as participants of the Great Civil War settled scores now long overdue.Never, not in a single instance, did Garacaius reach for the awesome weapon at his disposal. All conflicts ran their course, all disputes were settled by very earthly means. There were even those who grumbled that a timely spell was preferable to having one’s insides pierced by cold steel.

The first years of the rule of Garacaius were also marked by a personal note. The First Mage Emperor (a title he was said to detest, but which had been conferred upon him by a fearful, but grateful populace) became officially betrothed to the dark-haired Lasha, whom he had met on his last expedition in the land of Zhon. Four children resulted from this union, and their appearance was held to be a miracle of harmony.There were two boys and two girls, and one of each was fair; the others, dark.

By the time his children were of age, Garacaius had quelled all remaining unrest; Darien was in a state of total peace. He began devoting more and more time to his children, and it seemed to suit him. Garacaius had always been a somewhat restless man,with a face that reflected the tensions running through his soul. Now he appeared relaxed, at ease… almost happy.

The Tragic Death of Empress Lasha
Tragedy struck as it always does: out of the blue. One day, Garacaius took his family sailing in the first boat he had ever built, the vessel that revolutionized ship design in Darien. It seemed safe enough; he didn’t intend to venture beyond the Estoril harbor. The weather seemed perfect — sunny and windless. But at sea, weather can change in the blink of an eye, and, after all, Estoril and the island of Irgiron lay in the middle of a vast ocean.

The squall hit the harbor like a striking snake. One moment, the water was as placid as a pond. The next, foamflecked waves reared up as savage blasts of wind whipped and slashed at the sea. The children panicked, and the boat capsized. Garacaius was an excellent swimmer and managed to save the four children, but his beloved wife, Lasha, drowned.

The squall passed as swiftly as it came, but things had changed forever. Garacaius could have saved everyone by using magic.Possibly he wanted to,but hesitated to break his solemn promise. By the time he made up his mind, it was much too late.

That morning, as the family clambered onto the boat, Garacaius was a man in the prime of life — and thanks to the Legacies in his possession, he could look forward to many years of perfect health. That evening, Garacaius was a crushed old man. And in the days that followed, he sank deeper and deeper into grief, tortured by his conscience.

The Weakening of the Mage Emperor
Time passed, but did not heal the wound. The Great Mage Emperor seemed to lose all interest in the well-being of his empire. Trouble followed trouble — across Darien, old wounds were reopened and new ones were made. Garacaius acted ignorant; he dismissed agitated couriers with a weary wave of hand and returned to his private hell.

Eventually a deputation from all of Darien’s tribes and noble houses assembled in Estoril. After a day of debate, the gathered nobles decided to present Garacaius with a demand: Rule, or step down in favor of one of your children. In this way, the nobles hoped to avoid the possibility of infuriating Garacaius — one does not pick a fight with a mighty Wizard. And if Garacaius’ successor would turn out to be wise, all the better. If stupid, he or she could be manipulated.

Garacaius instead chose a compromise. He did not resign, but he put practical control of Darien into the hands of his children. To each, he gave part of the empire that he thought most appropriate. To his daughters, he gave what best agreed with their temperaments; to his sons, what best fit their abilities. As he made the appointments, Garacaius also gave each child one of the Five Legacies. Possessing them would ensure that the new rulers would command more power than any scheming nobleman could ever hope to achieve.

The Four Coronations
His first-born son, Elsin, called Elsin the Fair,was renowned for his open and just nature. Practical, down to earth and honorable, Elsin was nevertheless somewhat less than brilliant — his desire for justice outweighed all other considerations.The one area where he shone was the science of engineering, with its straightforward, unbendable laws and rules.

Elsin received dominion over the land of Aramon, perhaps the finest of them all. Aramon was the most developed of Darien’s continents, and Elsin quickly proceeded to develop it even more, founding new cities, building roads and bridges, and establishing the famous Aramon Academy of Engineering and Design in the newly built provincial capital,Kaluen.To cement his grip on power, Elsin received the Legacy with the mogrite Stone of Darien mounted into a pendant.

Garacaius’ second-eldest child was a daughter named Thirsha. Strikingly similar to her black-haired mother, Thirsha loved the land of her mother’s birth, the land of Zhon. She was happiest when hunting deep in the bowels of an untamed forest, and spent whole weeks out in the country with just a single groom for company.

Thirsha received dominion over her beloved Zhon, the wildest and least explored of Darien’s continents.With it, she received the bracelet containing the stone known as the Soul of Kandra. It was particularly appropriate, for the forests of Zhon contained many mysterious ruins dating from before the Great Cataclysm. As with Elsin and Aramon, sending Thirsha to Zhon was an inspired choice. Before long, the stubborn, half-wild tribes of the continent were firmly under her control, and the tribesmen reverently referred to her as the Huntress.

Garacaius’ younger son and third-born child, Lokken, had shown great promise. But after Lasha’s death, much of his early brilliance seemed to be replaced with many undesirable traits. Garacaius dearly loved the dark-headed Lokken, perhaps even more so than Elsin, and he believed a hungry mind, when not fed properly, turns to feed on itself. So he decided to give Lokken plenty to think about. Lokken received dominion over Taros. This ancient continent, some of whose tribes proudly claimed to predate the Kandrans, was almost constantly troubled by disturbances of one sort or another. The four noble houses of Taros all harbored grievances against one another, and much of the land lay wasted by years of fighting.Together with Taros, Lokken received the scepter with the stone called Angvir’s Flame. Once again, it seemed to be a wise appointment — within a year, Lokken had quelled all unrest with a brilliant mix of diplomacy, brutality and magic.

Garacaius’ daughter Kirenna was his youngest child, and the one that most resembled her father. The resemblance included a love of the sea that survived her mother’s drowning. As soon as she was old enough, Kirenna left Estoril for long trips onboard trading ships visiting the farthest corners of Darien. Her co-sailors quickly dubbed her the Sea Mage, for Kirenna had an uncanny knack for anticipating changes of weather and piloting a ship safely through the thickest fog.

Kirenna received the dominion of Veruna and the ring with the mogrite stone known as Macha’s Tear. Among her first decrees were the abolition of all internal taxes and the doubling of wages paid to experienced seamen. The inhabitants of the islands that formed the federation of Veruna had a ruler who instinctively knew what her people did best; within a short time, Veruna came to command a virtual monopoly on sea trade.

Garacaius remained to oversee the first years of his children’s rule. He was a forlorn figure in the Estoril palace, a sad old man seated on the fifth Legacy, the blackstone Throne of Ludd. Although the mogrite Eye of Modron topping the throne assured health and vitality, each new day aged Garacaius by a week. He seldom spoke, and most of those who tried to talk to him received no more than a sad stare in answer.

The End of an Era
Ten years passed. All of Estoril prepared to celebrate the tenth anniversary of the Four Coronations. Among the scheduled attractions were a sea parade featuring the finest ships from Veruna’s fleet; the inauguration of the Darien Exhibition, featuring awe-inspiring machines and other examples of fine engineering from Aramon; and the opening of a gallery called The Wonders of Zhon, exhibiting unique handicrafts and works of art from that exotic land. After night had fallen, the assembled public was to be treated to a performance of the Fire Eaters of Taros, a group of artists skilled in manipulating fire in all its shapes and forms.

The day of the great celebration began with a rosy dawn. The white stone floors of the Estoril palace seemed to be lit pastel peach and orange as Gudnor, personal groom to Garacaius for the last forty years, walked from chamber to chamber in search of his master. He was determined to restore at least some dignity to the man he had loved and served twoscore years, for on this day Garacaius would have to make several public appearances.

It seemed Garacaius had not slept in his bed, and now, as Gudnor approached the Throne Room, his brow was furrowed with concern. It would be unfortunate if his master had chosen to spend yet another night alone on the throne, staring at the night’s shadows with unseeing eyes. Such night-long vigils left him looking even more frail and finished. Gudnor’s hand tightened on the box of pomade given to him by Kirenna, and he entered the Thone Room.

A moment later, his agonized cry shattered the morning peace.

For Garacaius was not in the Throne Room. The Throne of Ludd was empty.And where the stone known as Modron’s Eye had been, a cavity yawned mockingly.

The Four Realms
It has been 1527 years since Garacaius disappeared. His children, all of them granded immortality by the legacies in their possession, continue to rule their respective domains.

However, all this is about to change.

For the last couple of centuries, the differences between the four monarchs have become more and more pronounced.

The emergence of four different “state” religions is another sign that the former unity of Darien has been shattered beyond repair. Previously, all Darien worshipped the same gods. Now, most citizens of Aramon wear rings bearing the silver Hand of Anu, Lord of Light, while the people of Taros worship a terrible dark deity called Belial. All religious inhabitants of Zhon worship Tammuz, the Goddess of the Hunt, and the patron saint of Veruna is Lihr, a mighty sea god.

All four kingdoms have previously fought one another, but now a great divide is opening between West and East.

Ever since Garacaius disappeared, the kingdoms of Aramon and Veruna have been loyal to Garacaius’ great oath renouncing the use of magic in any but the most extreme circumstances. They have concentrated on building their power through economical means — where Aramon excels in industry and internal development,Veruna is a trade powerhouse. Both Elsin, ruler of Aramon, and Kirenna, the Sea Mage of Veruna, insist that their father’s law be obeyed — or else.

In the East, Taros is in open rebellion against the constraints imposed by the long-absent Garacaius. Lokken initiated his reign by using magic to subdue and terrorize the rebellious noble houses of Taros.Emboldened by his success, he has been practicing magic with growing intensity, going so far as to reshape the land to his pleasing. This has resulted in unexpected consequences. The Kandran Laws of Life stated he who manipulates Mana is like a swimmer borne along by a swift, powerful current.While one may use it to one’s advantage, trying to control or alter its course leads to tragedy. Lokken insists everything is going according to plan, but that’s not how it looks.

South of Taros, deep within the woods of Zhon, Thirsha the Huntress is also a regular practitioner of magic. Proudly independent, the Huntress has responded to the demands of Elsin and Kirenna with haughty scorn. She will not be told by anyone when it is appropriate for her to practice magic, and she supports Lokken in his right to do whatever he pleases in his domain.

The preceding centuries have already seen several bloody conflicts between the sibling Monarchs. Aramon has fought Veruna over the barren land of Kuvera in the northwest, and over several islands in the Sea ofMannan.The pirates of Zhon prey on Verunan ships and slaughter their crews. Zhon tribes repeatedly raid the rich coast of Aramon, whose Monarch retaliates by launching punitive expeditions deep into Zhon territory.A seemingly implacable hatred exists between Taros and Aramon, who have fought several full-scale wars on ideological grounds.

Each side has many valid grievances against the others, and tempers have reached a boiling point.The Four Monarchs are assembling armies and readying for imminent war.


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PostSubject: Re: History of the World   Sat Jun 29, 2013 1:45 pm

The Great War

The magical, violent land of Darien was once ruled by Garacaius. His mastery of magic made him immortal, but he found ruling an empire more challenging than conquering it. So he installed four monarchs of unquestioned loyalty into each of the four kingdoms of Darien. These rulers were his own children. Aramon and the sigil of Earth was bequeathed to Elsin, the eldest. Thirsha of the Air, was given dominion over the haunted echoes of Kandra in the untamed lands of Zhon. Lokken was granted the sigil Fire would quell the harsh lands of Taros, or be tamed by them. Kirenna was given the spritely Sea and bilious sails of fair Veruna, Gem of the Waves.

Garacaius, Mage Emperor, had one more legacy for his children: four Kandra artifacts. These gave each monarch mystic powers to rival his own, as well as immortality. If used wisely, these powers could bring new prosperity to the land. But if the force of mana were ever misused, it would slowly but surely bend and twist the children of Garacaius. Beyond the threshold lay disaster, not just for one ruler or one land, but for all of Darien. Within a century, each had absolute rule over their respective land; a century later Garacaius, the man who had united the known world, vanished without a trace...

For 1500 years after the Mage Emperor's disappearance, the four kingdoms of Darien saw skirmishes and warfare, terrorism and piracy, but strict adherence to Garacaius' magical discipline kept borders secure. Until an incident described by one eye-witness as, "all hell broken loose." This was likely the end of the world...

This was not the end of the world, we now know, but the early stages of the Great War. Lokken's demonic forces had broken the trusted use of mana and betrayed Garacaius' legacy. The war would pit Taros and Zhon against Veruna and Aramon. Tarosian efforts concentrated on Aramon, as seen by those opening blows of surprise and genocide, while Zhon's main effort was driving a wedge between the two allies thereby drawing off Verunan forces. These designs would have long-lasting and far-reaching consequences.

In the end, Aramon's lands were scorched and sacked, Veruna's world-wide naval commerce in shambles, Zhon's beasts and jungles lying alongside the forgotten Kandran ruins, and Taros itself battered into veritable oblivion - Lokken himself slain! During the war, savage new instruments of destruction were utilized - both technical and mystical. Gunpowder and Dragons would forever change the landscape of politics and war.

...
(Space Saver)
...


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PostSubject: Re: History of the World   Sun Jun 30, 2013 2:59 am

The Iron Plague

In the aftermath of the Great War, the people of Darien hoped for a swift return to normalcy. Bounty hunters continued to root out pockets of resistance, scouring even the remotest areas of Aramon. Our true story begins ages ago with the Mage Emperor Garacaius, the great unifier of Darien, who abdicated his throne to his children. Garacaius had grown weary of the deathless eternity his life had become. In a stunning display of magic, he traded immortality for one last mortal lifetime. Slipping around the palace guards, he departs Darien forever in a small fishing boat navigating the treacherous Kuvera Straits, eventually reaching the land of Creon to the far northwest.

The distant secretive land of Crean was the true source of the gunpowder that turned the tide of the war against Lokken. But victory has a price, paid in blood and in gold. Elsin of Aramon had shared in triumph over Lokken and agreed to pay for Creon's invention. But gold draws raiders as blood draws sharks. No predator was more dangerous than a renegade group of fanatical Tarosians called the Cult of Lokken, led by the fearsome wizard Heligrin. The payment of gold from Veruna never reached Creon. Only wreckage was found when Verunan ships investigated; however by malign fate, Creon had also dispatched ships to inquire of their late payment. Unwittingly, the Verunan captain would strike the spark that would ignite the world.

Creon's advanced and unknown strength gave Kirenna pause. Not wishing to join another war so soon after the end of the destruction so recently witness across the world, she cedes the island of Caora at the mouth of the Kuvera Straits to Creon control, ostensibly as a gesture of peace. However, the people of the island rose up in spontaneous rebellion against the iron hand of their new masters, even as the voice of their new colonial ruler was heard across the island.

Meanwhile, Elsin of Aramon was furious with Kirenna, not least because at times Caora was part of his domain. He expresses his distress and frustration over the lost gold, Kirenna's foolish underlings, and the offering up of the "Protectorate" of Caora for Veruna's "sins of state." Elsin's fury was an ill-kept secret, and a popular sentiment. A commander in M'hari decided to seek his sovereign's approval with an attack upon Verunan ships at anchor in port. One captain fought desperately to gain passage to the open sea, taking word of this misdeed back to Veruna.

Following this missive and the ongoing troubles in Caora, Kirenna reneges on the cessation and agrees to provide support for the rebels on the island, imploring them to hold out as long as possible. It soon became obvious that resistance would collapse without massive support.

Meanwhile in Taros, Heligrin continues his plans to rebuild Taros to its former glory under Lokken. Drawn by urgent voices that he alone could hear, he and his band enter Crone's Crook to discover unfamiliar soldiers and strange creatures picking over the wreck of the long-lost Sea Shadow - the ship that had carried a mysterious artifact created by Lokken himself before his death. As it happened, the Cult of Lokken were too late to capture their precious bottle at the wreck and turned elsewhere in their quest.

Finding the situation on Caora dire, Kirenna entreats Elsin to "close ranks" with her once again to defeat these upstarts from Creon, offering apologies over Aramon's slighted honor and suggesting Caora be made a freeport from which both nations could benefit. Elsin agrees, and together they gain a temporary advantage against their new enemy, but remained puzzled over their history and their hatred for all things magical. While the lost history of Garacaius would elude them, the dark metallic fleet of Creon lay just offshore and would fall upon the allies in the glow of powdered explosions.

Subsequently, Creon's victorious forces continued to the mainland of Aramon pitting Garacaius' adopted heirs against his trueborn children. Aramon, already scarred and ravaged by the war with Taros only recently, was easy prey. Creon's successes continued across the land, driven by their weapons of scientific principles. Elsin's proclamation of a last stand at Kingsbarrow Hills proved successful, though at a high cost.

In Taros, a band of bounty hunters from Aramon stumble onto a dread sight - undead ranks of the Cult of Lokken. In the ensuing skirmish, freshly minted gold from Aramon was discovered amidst the ruin. When news of this reached Elsin, he realized the premise with war against Creon was false - but how to rectify the situation now that bloody war was joined, and to Aramon's benefit? He would relinquish command of the home front to his commanders and journey with an elite band through the the underdark to the heart of Creon.

For the second time in a short era, the lords of Aramon would betray their Mage King - first Buriash, and now the lords of the north. These northmen would soon turn coat and join up with Creon, known as Yellowjackets due to their common banners of Creon gold.

Heligrin's interrogation efforts revealed that the bottle he so desired had made it into the hands of the Sage of Creon. He required transport, and this would require aerial assets of Zhon, to deliver him and his to Creon.

...
(Space Saver)
...


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PostSubject: Re: History of the World   Sun Jun 30, 2013 11:28 pm

Attack of the Azurians

Finally, it seemed as though the world would know peace and prosperity once again. Though the Necromancer Lokken was reincarnated and the Creonite scourge subdued for the short term, many folk in Darien were optimistic for the morrow. Farms were sown, ships built, cities expanded, and for the first time in the years since the Great War began the world looked to be healing.

But looks can be deceiving. In the far northwest lay the lands of Creon, the colonies of old sat on the southern coast of the Great Northern Sea: Avenar of Old Creon, Atys of the First Domain, the Dasoreen and Muniphal Protectorates, the Provinces of Jimarna, Hezrum, and more. At the edge were Colony 6 and 7, the latter all but a lost legend beyond the ice drifts, abandoned during the war against Darien. These lands were broken and in tumult, the people's scientific faith shaken and the feeling of Garacaius' age-old betrayal a point of contention.

Across the sea was embedded the Great Ice Shelf, a desolate and unexplored expanse reaching beyond the known realms. While Creon battled with its own conscience, something was stirring in the ice, something drawn to the massive magical displays during the final fights on Creonite soil. At first, scattered reports from fishermen about "things in the mist" were discarded as sailor fancies, but then people and ships began disappearing. The Sage's annual report from Colony 6 failed to arrive on time, then at all.

As the far reaches of the nation began to go silent, the Sage could not sit idle and reclusive anymore, regardless of the recent scars dealt to his people. He dispatched a flotilla to Colony 6 to surmise their fate and the truth of the whispered rumors. On the very evening the expedition arrived in Colony 6, a shocking and surreal aurora borealis display melted the sky. The mood of the expedition was grim, confused, and scared - and the damage to the Creon psyche was enough to spark much superstitious talk of the lights. They'd all grown up with them, but these were different... somehow alive.

In the days to come, the expedition would find many settlements abandoned, the roads clogged with refugees. Their ships were effectively transformed into ferries for the folk trying to flee, leaving the forces to press inland. Talk of living stone and shock-blue faces in the ice no longer brought laughter and jokes, but frowns and furrowed brows. One dazed and frost-bitten old man gave it a name: Azure.

On the eighth day after landfall, the day after the old man's fearful words, the morning mist enveloped the encampment. Shrieks brought troops from dreams to face an army of true horror. Ice stone beings dealt death in red, and bled blue in kind; unleashing magical torrents alongside iceflows and deadly shards, freezing gears and cracking mechanical parts, these new invaders broke the Creonite force quickly. Only a handful escaped to bring word to the Sage. The nadir of Creon had come - to abandon science in the face of defeat, or resolve to close this Pandora's Box forever!

In truth, even after their tempestuous war with the Darien Siblings, Creon was constrained by a general lack of magical imagination. They had been so bound by the contrivances of scientific reasoning and logical exploitation, that magical manipulation in and of itself was an almost alien - and dangerously disrespectful - practice. Thus while they had borne witness to the efforts of magical experts during the war, precious little was learned as a result. Now faced with a literal race of magical beings, the people of Creon panicked and foundered.

Across the Great Northern Sea, the hulking metal ships of Creon were broken by storms, icebergs, and magical beasts from the mists. As many were simply lost or deserted as killed or captured. A disturbing lack of details arrived concerning those captives as well, leading to an unprecedented superstitious outcry. Even as Creon's armies were battered on the field, her people began to fragment. None more so than those nearest the Mechanist Dawn movement.

The Mechanist himself was a simple technical support engineer at a secondary academy in the Lower Muniphal Protectorate, who spent his days with hands covered in grease and grit, sweat upon his brow. He did not consider himself a wise man, nor an especially talented man. He simply knew that a machine had parts, and those parts worked in coordination with one another to achieve a common product. And, he said, if a part failed - you improvised. With whatever worked. In the wake of disorder and panic, his words found a desperate few who took his message to heart. His true name was lost; his followers reverently bestowing the monicker 'Mechanist' as his name.

So it was that he and his following began developing an increasingly erratic philosophy, while producing some of the oddest contraptions yet seen. In truth, the Mechanist never saw himself as a leader, but with the provinces being overrun, he set his shop - and all those who would listen - to work making anything and everything to throw at these magical snowmen. After months of falling back, the armies of Creon began to stand and hold, warm blood spilled upon the cold ground. But Spring was coming, and with it a counter-attack planned.

Oddly, during these times and unbeknownst to those outside of 'Azuria,' another movement was commencing from an outspoken healer. His name was Njak Frost. To a human, or any other mammal, the ways and life of an Azurian are hard to comprehend. Biology is entirely different, and thus so is the way the Azurians gathered and lived. Their cities, however, were not dissimilar to other cities of Darien - there were domiciles, markets, offices, schools, and palaces - even temples. Frost was a deacon at his particular temple, in his particular city. While not the head, he was clearly the more refined orator, though he himself accepted that truth in characteristic humility.

As a healer, he spoke of the need for the body to be one with the earth - easier done by Azurians than other races - and of the communal needs of all living creatures. He spoke of peace, gesturing to the south, across the vast icy reaches, towards the lands of humans and steel now besieged by his own people. Did these 'men' desire war? Did they, in fact, invoke the climatic changes caused by the magical disturbances of recent years? From rumors, they seemed inept with magical ways and relied upon devices and crude metals. Could these uncivilized souls have caused such a magical shift this far north?

Whatever the argument, he was staunchly opposed to the war, and did not fear saying so. In the relatively militant society of the Azurians, this was as good as treason. The local administrators took steps to silence Frost and his minions, few though growing quickly in number. In a fortnight, all was planned. A city-wide crackdown would occur at deepening twilight, to ensure all were abed. And their cold blades struck true. Except for Frost himself. He was called away late in the night, a recent follower in urgent health wished a prayer. Thus it was that his followers were slain by the score, alongside his wife and children. By luck, he and a dozen escaped into the snows. A chance blizzard drove back his pursuers, who now assumed him dead.

So it was that while Creon fought for existence and its very way of life, Azuria was on the up and up, conquering seemingly unmolested, reinforcements literally drawn from the stone and ice upon which they fought. The dread winter drew long and harsh, besieged cities starving, frostbite and cannibalism common bedfellows. Even the Sage of Creon was not immune, a well-aimed spell covering his mortar in a layer of ice, causing a massive explosion with the next charge, killing him instantly. There were many calls from the low-folk to raise the Mechanist to Sage, but he refused.

On the first day of Spring, the offensive kicked off to the rumbles and squeals and sparks of the Mechanist's new devices. Though the cold has not receded, the knowledge of the season was enough to give the hearts of Creon strength, and their efforts were rewarded. With increasing speed, they advanced, gaining ground nearly as quickly as they'd lost it, as if the winter had seen them hibernating instead of besieged. Thousands flocked to the banners as news of victory after victory was heralded across the nation, and before Spring was over, only Colony 6 remained under occupation, with a new fleet slicing the waves to the Great Ice Shelf itself!

What had caused such a drastic reversal? Deacon Frost.

He had not, in fact, died in the blizzard. He had fled into the wilds alongside his followers, and they had found a harsh refuge in the wastes. There, throughout the long winter, he had gathered his strength, his followers spreading his word and collecting tributes and volunteers. Ironically, or perchance by fate, Deacon Frost rode back towards the very city he had been chased out of a step ahead of death... on the first day of Spring. It must also be stated that the first of Spring was, for the Azurians, a time of festival and mourning, knowing that the bounty of the year was now at an end. Often the days prior are spent in great revelry and song, intoxication and merriment. So it was that none were prepared, so far from the battlelines, to confront the Deacon's ire.

The ensuing battle was apparently far more destructive to the war effort of the Azurians even than the misfortunes on the field of Creon - or perhaps those misfortunes were due to this battle. One cannot be certain. What is certain, however, is that the city was reduced to rubble after three days of brutal fighting. Deacon Frost was said to have lost his pity for the unfortunate and the will to preserve life. His men engaged in nothing less then genocide of their own people. He himself is said to have died in the fighting.

The total destruction of one of their foremost cities, along with an entire field army, shocked and dismayed the Azurian High Command, even Lord Azdurain himself. The momentary paralysis and longer-term damage to infrastructure and reinforcement meant that front in Creon effectively collapsed. Lord Azdurain apparently ordered the remaining forces to abandon the field in as good order as they could, leading to the situation for the final face-off in Colony 6.

Both sides now blooded and bloodied, neither wished to give quarter. If the Azurians fled, they'd be destroyed in the retreat; if the Creonites failed, their sorrow and vengeance would be unsated. The campaign was bloody and disastrous for both parties, thousands upon thousands slain. Into the meatgrinder was lost a generation, great minds and courageous hearts all. The Mechanist is reported to have fallen here, though rumor has it he either deserted earlier or perhaps survived and lives now in obscurity. In the end, neither side cared to hold onto the remains of Colony 6, and both slunk back claiming a narrow victory.

To this day the Great Northern Sea is a place of tense peace, the reclusive Azurians rarely seen, though signs of their passing is often observed. For their part, Creon has not moved beyond the southern portions of Colony 6, nor do they seek to explore farther north than absolutely necessary. Leave the ice for the Azure, the soil for Creon. Foreigners now hear of these events with mocking smiles and hooded eyes, clearly unwilling to give truth to the fresh scars upon Creon.

Perhaps they all wished to claim those scars for Aramon, or Veruna, from the last war.

Perhaps they still think it is they who could so dominate Creon.

Perhaps... if they ever drew down the ire of Azuria upon them, they would know.

And tremble.


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PostSubject: Re: History of the World   Mon Jul 01, 2013 11:49 pm

The Tormented Tyrak

Lokken is well-known as the Necromancer, and for good reason.  His dread fascination with the afterlife and mortality is well-documented, and his exploits cannot be ignored.  For the better part of two millennia he has ruled over the so-called 'cursed lands' of Taros.  It is true that Lokken has at times used the arcane forces at his disposal to shift and shape the land to his will, bringing the deceased back to his service, and playing the role of dark god over the land.  But before he came to rule, before even Garacaius was the Great Uniter, the Tarosian continent had been home to some of the worst Kandran fallout of all Darien.

It is said that these lands were once, long ago, in the savage days following the Cataclysm brought to heel by a being seemingly immune to the dread magical poisons tearing the world.  He was once the great Necromancer, populating his kingdom with the walking corpses of those newly-dead arrogant Kandrans.  He drew upon powers through the void of death, somehow untainted by the Cataclysm itself.  He knew death, mastered it.  He was called Zadok.

In his heyday, Zadok was a master of stepping through the gateway - literally - into the "Otherworld."  Now called the Underworld, in actuality, what might be considered the place of death is merely a reflection of this world - or so he indicated in a now long-lost tome on the subject. It is unclear of his education on the matter; perhaps he really was a Kandran who avoided the Cataclysm in the Otherworld. Whatever the case, what is ow known is that what is projected on the Otherside is the antithesis of Darien... More or less. Where sunlight breeds healthy life and green pastures, the storm-filled skies of the Other scorch a barren earth with firestorms and lightning where there might be rain in Darien.  Indeed, the reason that Taros is the relative Hell of its current self is impart to Zadok's own machinations all those centuries ago. But also in part to Lokken throwing open the same gates in more modern times.  The proximity to this gateway spills over the poison from beyond.

But what happened to Zadok? It now appears that recorded history of his existence in our world was purposely eradicated. It seems his efforts were seen as an abomination, especially after the Cataclysm. After a century and more of an iron-handed rule, he faced a coalition of free city-states who aligned to face down his hordes. In several engagements, the freemen were resoundingly defeated, attempting as they were to fight on multiple fronts to divide the enemy. A gambler stepped forward, however, and took command. His planned revolved around a single epic fight to hold the enemy's attention while a small band struck directly at Zadok himself.

The risk was great. If it failed, their cities would be defenseless, thereby opening the way for Zadok's domination of other lands. But if they succeeded... Hope could be restored.  At a place which now has no name, the forces of Light stood against the minions of the twisted nether.  Over one hundred thousand men marched against the quarter million demonic undead.

During the battle, while his forces were on the verge of breaking the ranks of the defenders, Zadok was confronted by the Heroes. When magical use was more than hated, frantically feared, these few hoped against hope that  - combined - they might match Zadok's awesome strength.  Zadok, however, was strained by the effort of pulling such a force from the Other and bending it to his will.  In the ensuing duel, he still managed to strike down several members of the party, including the strongest of them - but that distraction bought the others time to sever Zadok from the Other. Threatened with the total collapse of his army, Zadok flailed for a link to the Other, throwing open the gateway... And the Heroes heaved him through, sealing the way behind him.  Thus began Zadok's exile.

For centuries upon centuries, Zadok has brooded and hated. He has mastered the Other in all but name. And he has planned for his return. It was only a matter of time before another Mage broke the seal and ventured into his realm.  And so it was that Lokken came. First in his youth, already a powerful Mage and curious of his new talents, filled with a lustful intellect. Zadok watched from afar, but over time grew close to this boy.  The boy became a student of Zadok , hungrily devouring all knowledge of the craft, and grew to be one of the most powerful practitioners Zadok ever knew. The boy became a man, the man a king, the king a wizened old necromancer who crossed the gateway as skillfully as Zadok himself.

Yet Zadok was still trapped, forbidden from crossing over himself unaided.  And Lokken refused to help, clearly preferring Zadok well away from his own power base, thereby causing a rift between the two.  This rift was subtle at first, simply spending less time together in Otherworldly conversations, then hostile displays employing lackeys, before finally breaking into the odd skirmish.  Of course, the fighting was never direct, and there always seemed to be - on the surface at least - convenient plausible excuses for the minor, local dust-ups.  Despite the rising tension, neither wished to push the limits, for the fallout could be catastrophic.  Besides, Lokken had his eyes set on another prize, and Zadok didn't want to jeopardize his return.

So it was that suddenly, Lokken and a horde of his followers vanished from the Other.  From the flurry of activity, Zadok surmised that Lokken was at war, and after a time it became clear that this was becoming a desperate fight. And where he could, Lokken still appeared alongside many of his high mages to work on...something. At first, Zadok feared it might be some terrible new weapon, but after placing his agents close to the project during one of Lokken's absence, he realized, this bottle was some sort of insurance... a soul storage. A shard of Lokken himself placed inside for when the time was right.  This would be Zadok's escape.

Zadok disguised himself and got close enough to study the spells, and then crafted an exact duplicate laid over - not a bottle - but another vessel. A servant named Xorn. The way his own shard was enough to feel Xorn's thoughts and emotions, and subtly manipulate them, though unable to control the body like a puppeteer might pull the strings. With the ever-increasing emigration of souls from the Other, it was a simple thing for Xorn to slip through the portal into Darien. Not without a very painful tug to rip Zadok's soulshard through, but the insulation made is possible, if unpleasant.

Finally, after untold millennia, Zadok had returned - at least in part. All that was left was for Xorn to build his own power base and finally summon Zadok from the Other, in a way circumventing the constraints that held him there. It was an arduous task, and Zadok could not remain in Darien for long, but he could return and that was all that mattered. So it was that Xorn slipped out of then-besieged Taros and fled in disguise. With the greatest portion of Darien arrayed in war, he was forced to find a place uncivilized, far from population centers. Perhaps it was Zadok's soulshard pulling him, but he made his way to the ruins of the Kandran, deep within Zhon.

A lone Mage traveling in the wild might make for an easy target, except that this one housed a powerful soul. By the time Xorn arrived at a long-forgotten site of power, he had assembled a small army of his undead vanquished to safeguard his travels. For a time at least, his growing power was ignored by the larger tribes of Zhon, though whispers do carry in the dark forests.

...
(Space Saver)
...


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PostSubject: Re: History of the World   Tue Jul 02, 2013 12:35 am

O' Determin'd Delean

Many in Darien look to the 'West' as the lands of intellectual development, prosperity, and the arts.  After all, it is there that the victorious forces of Aramon and Veruna reside, and the undeniable technical power of Creon.  The 'East' have always been regarded a little more backward, a bit more barbaric, something less than civilized.  For the lands of Taros and Zhon, home to undead and demons, halfmen and beastling, this is not an unsafe assumption.  However, there, through the Strait of Tapas which separates these ill-tempered realms, lies a vast frontier across the sea.

The collection of the freeports and city-states found to the east took a decidedly different road to the world Garacaius transformed.  Where the lands of Darien had a single monarch, a single guiding hand, these myriad peoples clashed for centuries with one another and all foreign comers as well, all the while the lands of Darien were consolidating.  Over time, these lands of Men and Mer would find common ground and develop an intricate inter-relationship one with another.  Collectively, they are known as Delean.

This is not to say that these lands were unknown, neglected, or despised by the people's of Darien, but they were generally regarded as simply much to far "over that way somewhere" to bother caring about. Indeed, some of the mercenaries fighting for Taros were from cities of Delean and as often turned bounty hunter after to hunt the same Tarosians, while others provided weapons and other hardware to the highest bidder. Indeed, Baron Leimar, the Butcher of Zakum himself, was a descendant of a Delean-Tarosian marriage.

It is safe to say that, of the lands of Darien, the proximity of Taros necessitated a closer working relationship than other lands with Delean interests. And perhaps this was the problem, particularly after Lokken's return from the grave. During his absence, various portions of Taros were administered by foreign lords, awarded rights for services rendered. Many a knight had taken up residence in Taros and sought to improve the deplorable fiefs afforded them. So it was that they took out loans to hire craftsmen, entice migrants (hard enough to find serfs, never mind it being to serve in Taros!), and generally attempt to live in the luxuries they were accustomed.

When Lokken returned, he unleashed the Cult to deal with these squatters. They were first given a choice: thralldom or death. Then, whatever their decision, they were killed and raised as undead thralls. So it was that Lokken reinstated total authority over his domain. As it happens, he thought very little of the outstanding debts of his erstwhile "subjects." So it was that the last outpost of foreign rule, on the isle of Zakum itself, the House of Dernhest braced for the coming apocalypse.  Until an unlikely offer was made by foreign bankers.

You see, the Alabaster Bank of Kelian (one of the foremost member states of Delean) often lent large sums of money. And they always got their money. As it happened, they had bought up most of the minor debts of the lordlings on Taros over the preceding years.  With the Tarosian crown refusing to honor their inherited debt, Kelian was intent to cause trouble for them. Thus they offered not only to bankroll Dernhest, but to pledge a full military contingent to their cause. In return, they would take ownership of 4/5ths of whatever spoils taken, as well as a considerable portion of Dernhest's annual incomes.

When the Cult of Lokken struck, they were taken by surprise and repulsed with heavy losses. Lokken's rage was terrible to behold.  He immediately set out to recoup the momentum and the damage to his prestige.  Thousands of revenants assembled at his call, and the skies filled with the horrid drakes and deadly wings of his menagerie.  An assault on Zakum was spearheaded by a Shekeleshi legion on the southwestern shores, elite demons and devils breaking through the defenders. But this was merely a feint.  The true attack was impossible to predict - only the warped mind of Lokken could have devised such a plan.

While the Kelian troops were away, the undead would play. A flotilla of ghostly ships arrived in the fog of night, disgorging dark priests and skeletal rank upon rank. The fighting was without hope or mercy, and brutally quick. Kelian was put to the torch before sunrise. But instead of heading home the raiders were ordered to set an example of the countryside. Slaughter and pestilence followed, visiting a hitherto unknown horror upon the Delean.

Outraged, the confederation assembled and moved in force to respond. Seven cities disgorged their men of valor and proceeded across the seas to engage the Necromancer's forces in the field. The plan was for one army to land on Zakum to bolster the defenses while the other six landed flanking Shekelesh, three above, three below. That was the plan, anyway.

The situation on Zakum was going very badly by the time reinforcements arrived, so the landing on the north side of the island was opposed and turned into a bloody mess. To tip the balance, two more armies joined the fight which were supposed to land south of Shekelesh. While this effort succeeded in securing the whole of Zakum within the month, the third army destined to the south didn't get the message, however, and was soon lost. Whether it was storm or simple miscommunication, this army found itself shipwrecked upon the shores of Zhon.

While the other armies were weathering the ranks of undead, completely unaware of these events, this Lost Army of Renagon, led by the as-yet king himself. Of the 60-odd ships in the armada, a quarter were lost in treacherous storms never to be seen again, though wreckage and skeletons would later be uncovered in the jungles. The remaining ships were captained through the tempest to a safe cay, where the ragged troops disgorged into the eerie quiet of Zhon's junglescape.

Renagon's forces were a motley lot, Dwarves and Elves and more, none whom cared terribly much for one another back in Delean. In this dark place, they would come to rely upon one another for life and limb, else their only exodus would be unto the grave. Within hours of landing, Renagon had organized the survivors into search parties and work gangs. By nightfall, a rudimentary fort had been carved out and none too soon as screams and shouts erupted from the dark.

Onto the palisades crashed all manner of beasties, furry and scaled, winged and slimy. For three days the siege continued, and more than once the wall was breached - or bypassed by flying critters - and several ships were fired along the beaches to deter attacks as well as give light. Hundreds fell, and Renagon himself wounded, but the fight continued unabated. In the deepening twilight of the last day, a monstrous minotaur crashed through the shieldwall and slew half a dozen before crossing paths with Renagon. Their weapons crashed, streaking lightning across the battlefield with thunderous clamor. In moments, the battle seemed to slow and still while this epic bout played out. Before long, however, Renagon's would ebbed at him, slowing his response time. Desperate, he willed himself to actions and a lancing flame engulfed the beast, making a giant flickering candle. With that, the enemy broke and fled into the shadows.

...
(Space Saver)
...


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PostSubject: Re: History of the World   Mon Jul 22, 2013 5:29 pm

[Solaron Space Saver]

There being little to zero evidence of a history set down for these guys, I'm going to completely make it up.  Like.  Aliens and shit kind of made up.

[Orison Space Saver]

There is even less evidence for these guys. More aliens and shit.

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PostSubject: Re: History of the World   Mon Jul 22, 2013 5:29 pm

[Brakada Space Saver]

Having been part of the formation of this race, I actually know exactly what the deal was. In short, a Verunan isle in revolt, turned willing 'Dominion' sort of place. I will fill out the details as time allows.

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PostSubject: Re: History of the World   Mon Jul 22, 2013 5:29 pm

[Ethia Space Saver]

AND!

[Sands of the South]

Double-header! I will see SoS finalized into a race, so help me!

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PostSubject: Re: History of the World   Mon Jul 22, 2013 5:30 pm

Can you delete a post? If so, how?

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PostSubject: Re: History of the World   Mon Jul 22, 2013 5:31 pm

[Illohir Space Saver]

From Gemmell-inspiration to Vaerun's Chaos, Anharat shakes the foundations of Darien.

What else would you expect from the bastard son of Lokken?

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PostSubject: Re: History of the World   Fri Jan 29, 2016 10:36 pm

Rabble rabble

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