Age Of Trials
A BRIEF HISTORY OF THE WORLD
Age Of The Gods
Gods created the world and its inhabitants; whether they are the gods we know now, or ones that came before, we cannot be certain. In the beginning, the land was covered with forests until it reached the Great Desert. Elves dominated the majority of the land, the Selenaous the islands to the northwest and the southern coast, the Therians the Great Forest, and the Svartalfar the frigid lands to the north. Less numerous races, such as Fauns, Gnomes, Halflings, and the Fae, could be found all over the forests in small numbers; Dwarves lived in the mountainous lands. The mysterious Draconids occupied the lands adjoining the Great Desert.
Men were small in number then, and spread quite thin across the world. They thrived in numbers in the warm regions around the edges of the Great Desert at first, but found themselves subjugated by the Draconids. It was here that the great advantage of Men began to bear fruit; in but a few generations, they overwhelmed the Draconids ability to control the rapidly multiplying humans. Men overthrew their masters, forcing the Draconids away from their ancestral homes and into the Great Desert and beyond, if anything indeed lives beyond that great sand wasteland.
In the lands along the great river Iteru, to the delta emptying into the Great Inland Sea, Men flourished, building great stone edifices to elder gods and an empire that spanned more than a score of centuries. Creeping north and west along the coast, they encountered the Selenaous, who agreed to cede these Men the eastern third of the sea in order to effect peace for another thousand years.
In the isles to the northwest, Men began to grow in number along the great islands, a proud, warrior culture. But, before they also came head-to-head with the Selenaous Elves, a common menace emerged. Fomori Giants landed along the islands and coastlines, threatening to overrun the land with their barbaric ways. Elves and Men, Fae and Halfling came together to drive the wretched, misshapen creatures from the land, and the Selenaous gave the Men the northwestern islands.
During the Age of the Gods, the Draconids still occupied the lands along the southern shore of the Great Inland Sea, Masr and Tynes being the greatest cities of the Iteru Empire. In the northwest, the Fomori are the biggest foes along the coasts. Mankind has risen to overthrow Draconid slave masters in the Empire, and struggle alongside Halflings and Fae to retain the great islands. Selenaous Elves have many strongholds in the northwest, dwindling in number throughout the Age.
Gods are far more interfering in the affairs of Men than they ever will be again. Miracles happen. Many of the Iteru gods still lived, and struggled to retain worshipers. Clerics are rising in this period, establishing the great religions to come. The gods grant magic to the world.
Technology is mostly bronze in this age. Vambraces and greaves, wooden shields and leather armor. Gnomes are only starting their explorations into black powder. Elves have alloys, and can create lamellar armor. Chariots are in use in both the lands of the Iteru and the northwest.
Age Of Heroes
North and west around the coast from the lands of the Iteru Empire, a new land of Men emerged. A land of city-states, where kings ruled and knowledge flourished. A third group of gods grew from the beliefs of these Men, and the struggles of the gods bled over into the realms of Man.
New races emerged once more. Orks, an odious race of dire wolf mounted raiders, pressed the races of man on the east. The Iteru, once a mighty empire, had become old and corrupt, and the Emperor sought military help from the city-states of Pamphyllia, likewise beset by these new invaders.
The human races were not the only ones beset by the Orks. To the north, both the Therian and the Svartalfar Elves were also sorely pressed by the worg riders. They poured into Turonia, and through Hrusland and Karellia in the north. The Svartalfar begged for help from their Therian and Selenaous brethren, but the Therians were mired in Turonia, and help from the Selenaous was limited to holding the coastal city of Kev in Hrusland.
With the situation looking bleak, heroes emerged from the chaos to lead civilization back from the brink. It began with a Draconid named Kolesh, who walked out of the Fire Desert into the Selenaous Elven city-state of Tynes, seeking passage to Carlion in Logres. Having not seen a Draconid in their extended lifetimes, the Elves were reluctant to assist, and detained Kolesh.
In Pamphyllia, a civilized centaur came down from the hills. The Kentauroi were a race of half-man, half-horse, prone to being wild and lusty, overly indulgent drinkers and carousers, given to violence when intoxicated, and generally uncultured delinquents. But Kheiron was different, having been raised by Helios, god of the sun, and taught in the human arts; among others, medicine, poetry, the arts, and music, archery, hunting, and prophecy. He had taught many others since then, but now he was compelled to seek out the heroes of the Age.
He sailed to Tynes, where he negotiated a quick release for Kolesh from the Selenaous Elves with the help of Talanariel, a young Elf not yet hidebound by the stagnation that grips other members of his race. Given, of course, that the Draconid leave the city. Immediately.
And so the quest was formed. They found a captain, Garalis, a goblin short of stature or pleasant demeanor, willing to risk the travel past the Serpent’s Teeth and the Sea of Storms for the perilous trip to Carlion. Avoiding an island of nymphs, crushing rocks, Fomori, storms blowing them off course, and tritons, the quest becalmed near an uncharted isle where the haphazard crew of the Stargazer went ashore to replenish their supplies.
There, the heroes discovered a great cavern guarded by a score of skeletons. Dispatching the foul creatures, they awoke their master, the great necromancer-wyrm Uroboros, foul creature leftover from the Age of the Gods. A great battle was engaged, with the trio of Kheiron, Kolesh, and Talanariel sore pressed until the Draconid sacrificed himself, shoving his Flamestaff into the soft roof of the mouth of the undead beast, ridding the world of the gods-bane forevermore.
Uroboros guarded a great treasure, as dragons are wont to hoard, and a great stairwell of fire and sulfur descended into the abyss. The pair were filled with dread as they now knew this to be the Isle of the Dead, and the steps an entrance into the Underworld. Kheiron knew that he must retrieve Kolesh from the Hall of Glory and bring him back to the world if the quest the gods had placed upon him should succeed. Bidding farewell to Talanariel, Kheiron descended the great stairs into the home of the gods of death.
The centaur paid the boatman Char to cross the river Stygion, walked the Trail of Regrets, where he was tested by the shades of friends since passed trying to tempt him him from the Path, until he came upon the Hall of Aides.
The God of the Dead explained that there were others in this realm, and that the spirit of the Draconid belonged to the god of the Iteru dead, Ausar.
Kheiron traveled into lands he had neither read nor heard about in the realm of the underworld. He entered a vast, sand-filled wasteland where he followed a wind-swept brick road down an avenue of temples and pyramids in varied states of disuse and disrepair, until he at last came to an enormous temple complex at the terminus of the road.
Entering, he found himself in a long avenue of statues and monuments to Iteru dead. At last, a throne room beckoned, a gigantic structure with a giant dais at the bottom of the bowl, and benches that rose up as far as the eye could see. On the dais sat an ornate bronze throne, occupied by a small, frail, green-skinned man wearing a white crown and robes, and holding a shepherd’s crook in one hand, with a flail in the other. As emaciated as he was, Kheiron found it easy to believe that this could be the ruler over the dead in this realm.
Ausar explained that he could not grant Kheiron’s request. The Iteru religion was nearly gone, and with it, much of his power over mankind. However, he could grant the centaur one final audience with the specter of his dead friend.
Kolesh greeted his friend warmly, and told the Kentauroi that his time was not yet here. The Centaur needed to return the mortal world, find the Faerie of light and shadow, the Halfling who didn’t believe, and the Faun of unshakable conviction. Kolesh advised him to harvest the dragon’s teeth, and for each one he sowed Kheiron would receive a fierce warrior. He told Kheiron that he would see the Draconid one more time, but until then he must not doubt the path gods have set them upon.
And with a thought, Ausar transported the centaur back to Uroboros’ cavern, where he pulled each of the dragon’s teeth and placed them in his pouch. Talanariel looked at him as if he was a ghost; Kheiron’s formerly auburn mane had turned white, the cost for his trip to the Abyss.
The next part of the trip of the Obliquity has been chronicled by those far superior of prose than I; needless to say, Kheiron and Talanariel found the Faerie when weather forced then to port in Tuala Morn; Carlion brought them an unbeliever Halfling; and the Faun of supreme dedication to the gods met them when the Quest reached the shore of Acquitaine.
At long last, the heroes reached the Varistian Pass, where the Therian Elves and the Dwarves joined forces to block the invading Ork army. If the Orks were able to breach the pass, the entire known world would lie open before them.
Age Of Trials