The Alaran Update

Okay. I am a Horrible Person. Note the capitals – that’s my language saying how majorly bad a person I am. I haven’t posted in almost two months. In my defense, it wasn’t two months. Just almost. So, I’m sorry. Especially since I promised something special on the twelfth. Of July. Which was last month. But, in my defense again, I have been working on this Alara thing for over a year now. I was due a respite. And I took it. I’ve had a great summer. I’ve created about a thousand magic cards, because that’s just what I do in my spare time. I’ve received a suggestion from an unnamed contributor to create a Wyrmspire themed Magic:The Gathering set. After consideration, I have decided that would be awesome. As soon as I finish my Australian set and my Artifact Tribal set. But anyway, my summer’s winding down, I should probably read The Robe, and things like that. So I’m posting again. Jubilation.

This is it. The post that will change Alara… forever. Okay, it’s not that dramatic. It’s a story update, nothing more. But it’s a pretty eventful story update. Five years have passed in Alara. It’s not just any five years, either. It’s an awesome five years. (Note: I will be posting links to previous articles in case you can’t find the relevance of the tidbit you just read)

823 A.F., the “present day” of the Alara of yore, has now become 828 A.F.

What’s happened in between, you ask?

823 A.F. – Toward the end of the year, Selvern (city of the Satyrs, if you remember) is burned to the ground. It’s unknown where the blaze began, but it made quick work of a city that is, for the most part, tree. The Satyr wizards are strangely powerless to stop it, and the entire city burns. Rumors abound as to the start of the fire: was it the Alliance attempting to weaken their enemies, or perhaps the Twelve providing “motivation” for the Satyrs to go to war against the Alliance? It’s unknown.

824 A.F. – Benedict IV announces his heir. The city waits with bated breath. Turns out – it’s his daughter. Keara Lynn Dargonne is the next in line for the throne. This is met with mixed reaction. The council is equally split between wanting to stab Benedict in the face for spitting on tradition, and giggling at the people who are outraged. Benedict’s youngest son, Randolph Thaddeus Dargonne, comes out of the closet. He begins hanging around with a minotaur sailor named Jurek. Adrian Benedict Dargonne, the expected and expectant heir, disappears completely. Keara continues adventuring, entirely ignoring the edict. (More on Wyrmspire’s Royal Family)

Elder Kharat Karandul of the Dwarven Council of Elders in Wyrmspire dies, and before he manages to push through legislation declaring wind dwarves not dwarves. (Click here for the whole story.) Karag Narath, a wind dwarf, becomes the new member. The Council of Elders becomes infinitely more liberal.

In the Wastes, the city of Tugél Vas decides that it’s had bloody well enough with the way things are going for it. Tugél Vas begins extending the hand of diplomacy to whoever it wishes – i.e., all of its enemies at the same time. It’s unknown how this is going to work out for it. Meanwhile, the Hundrites, fanatical skeleton worshipers of Black Hundriss, continue to grow in power.

Benedict IV begins, in secret, negotiations with a foreign power know as the Arak. This leaks out, and the council is outraged. Eventually, however, they agree to continue the negotiations Benedict began.

825 A.F. – The Twelve move their armies closer to the lands of the Alliance, establishing the military outpost of Turas. This makes the entire Alliance very uneasy.

Several small kingdoms decide to break their allegiance with Wyrmspire, though maintaining their loyalty to the Alliance. It’s unknown why this matters, but they appear to take it very seriously.

Thaddeus Irongate, High Baron of Irongate, decides to use this to take issue with the liberal king of Wyrmspire, who he’s never really liked. He declares the dwarven kingdom “at odds” with Wyrmspire. No one really knows what that means. What is known is that Thaddeus begins being much nastier to Benedict at council meetings.

Prince Adrian Benedict Dargonne shows up in Wyrmspire again, making peace with his family and agreeing to stay near even if he doesn’t have the throne. This may seem all well and fine, but rumors say that he’s secretly an agent of the twelve.

In the Wastes, Ihirin the Just, leader of Citadel Gishnath, is assassinated. Lord Vaethil the Game, a crippled and decrepit Asilin, is appointed in his place. Lord Vaethil is a classist, though ironically he doesn’t distinguish much between Asilin and Humans. Gishnath becomes a stratified, class-based city, with a system of nobles on top and everyone else in the metaphorical mud.

Tugél Vas makes an alliance of convenience with Citadel Zarathas, and the two begin waging war on everything in sight, in the knowledge that as soon as everything else is wiped out they’ll go at each other’s throats.

Negotiations with the Arak nation continue, and a trade route is opened up between the Alliance and the Arak. Though their location was previously kept a secret from most even on the council, the Arak nation apparently lies in the far west. Sentinel Watch, an island in the west of the Cloudsea, is used as an in-between point.

826 A.F. – Surviving Satyrs begin to rebuild the ruins of their city, naming it New Selvern. These Satyrs are part of a political group that considers the Twelve responsible for Selvern’s burning, and break their alliance, though many vengeant Satyrs have at this point joined the Twelve’s armies, and are stationed in Turas. Diplomatic mumbo-jumbo begins, with the Twelve attempting to get New Selvern back and the Alliance attempting to make a new ally. New Selvern maintains its neutrality, becoming a veritable Switzerland in the middle of the Civilized Lands.

The Dwarves of Below figure out a way to contact the dwarves of New Below: they weave a strong rope, uncountable miles long (actually, they’ve counted it, but the figure is confidential, they don’t want people to figure things out), attach a bit of rock with “if you can read this, tug thrice” and “p.s. no demons or things with many arms” etched on it to the rope, attach one end of the rope to a building, and drop the other end. Sure enough, after a few days, a tug comes. They begin communicating.

Proxy wars between various small states begin. Wyrmspire and Turas send their various armies in to intervene.

The Hundrites establish Citadel Hundriss in the Wastes, a monument to their increasing power. As a monument to their increasing insanity, the citadel is also completely movable. It flies around the Wastes and they kill things.

Trades and negotiations continue between the Alliance and the Arak nation.

827 A.F. – Thulin Thunderboot sends word from Swelterholm, two years after he’s declared dead. While exploring the ruins there, he discovered a stone tablet with an odd truth etched in it: There was no Ulëndras. He was a fictional character created by Dräsilith around the year 800 E.F. in order to stabilize his rule. It’s unknown what Dräsilith was, but he certainly wasn’t a Royal Dragon. The entire history of humanity from 800 E.F. backwards was fabricated. The tablet that referred to this was proved true by a little-known sigil used by the Dragonkings of the late A.F. period. It’s unknown how the Dragonkings came about if there were no Royal Dragons.

This discovery causes craaazy hubamajub. Imagine figuring out that your entire history was false. Not a good trip. Everyone starts arguing, attempting to get more research done on this. In the midst of this, Denedius Argyle, father of Benedict IV’s wife Queen Katalina Dargonne, manages to fenagle in a questioning of Benedict’s claim to the throne. This makes no sense, as Benedict is not connected in any way with Ulëndras or Dräsilith, but in the wake of the revelation the populace generally distrusts royalty, and Benedict had attempted to form an alliance with the Arak in secret, so the council convenes to discuss things.

The Council manages to force Benedict IV off the throne, and he goes into self-imposed exile working with the Grey Dawn. The issue the council faces is who to put in Benedict’s place: Denedius Argyle is old and his name is silly, Queen Katalina is biased towards Benedict, Prince Adrian might be a traitor, and Prince Randolph has a minotaur lover. The Council decides on putting Princess Keara, most apathetic of the various royals, in charge. The royalty thing being thrown in question, she is for the moment known as Magistrate Keara Lynn Dargonne.

Meanwhile in the Wastes, the Crows break out in war over the dual identity of their Sighted One. It’s a rather hectic war, as the only dividing line is philosophy, and seriously, have you ever tried to fight a war over philosophy? No one knows what’s going on.

The Council finally decides on a full alliance with the Arak nation, and announces its agreement to the populace. Reactions are mixed, as though the Arak diplomat is incredibly eloquent and highly sophisticated, his form is twisted and strange. It’s soon discovered, after a series of traders from Arak arrive in Wyrmspire, that all of his race are like this: sophisticated, but with rather harsh voices and forms. This strange race calls themselves the Uth. (Hint: picture mercantile orcs. Haha, I found a way to get orcs into alara without having them be barbaric motherfluffers.)

828 A.F. – It turns out Benedict was keeping a bit of peace after all. A small war breaks out in the mountains near New Selvern between the nations of Arrowswift and Dagurn. Arrowswift is an ancient and noble nation who has traditionally had ties to the throne (often providing spouses for kings), and Dagurn is a place whose royal lineage has had occasional ties to necromancy. Obviously, in the craze of anti-royalness, the Council ends up siding with Dagurn. The Twelve side with Arrowswift in response, further blurring every line ever. Things go batshit, though it’s not full-on the Fifth Imperial War… yet.

The street violence between Clan Axebreaker and Clan Lakedeath in the Dwarven Quarter escalates. It becomes unsafe to walk the streets of the Dwarven Quarter, so the wind dwarves begin building sky tunnels, large walkways above the street. This is odd for traditionally underground creatures, but it works. Of course, the street dwarves immediately begin blowing the skytunnels up. Things continue.

In the Wastes, the Zantith necromancers do an amazing thing. The underground city of Aux Azalia rises – it enters the world as a gigantic dirty megalith. Things go even crazier in the Wastes, as the Zantith begin fighting for real. Turns out, there’s more of them than anyone considered possible, perhaps about half as many as the Asilin – but they’re all on the same side.

The Uth of Arak and the Humans of the Alliance continue to intermingle, with some humans leaving for the land of the Arak and some Uth living in Wyrmspire or Below.

–PRESENT DAY–

So, that’s what’s going on. Expect a post on the Arak nation sometime soon, and perhaps a character bio of Benedict, ’cause I really like him. Comments would be appreciated on whatever you consider delicious — or conversely, not. Oh, and the reason for the human history retcon is that I realized that having upwards of four thousand years all plotted out perfectly is really boring. I mean, what would happen if I needed some ancient empire for a campaign and couldn’t use the mega one? Would it be even older than that? That’d be silly. Anyway, see you next post.

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Alara: Pantheon

Yeah, so I’m redoing the pantheon, based on the fact that things have changed since last summer, and also I think all the religious information of Alara should be in one, easily-accessible place. So here goes. (note that we’ve gone past the one-year anniversary of the inception of alara, but not yet the one year anniversary of me calling it Alara. That’s the twelfth. Maybe that’ll be the day I post the update)

The Young Pantheon
The Young Pantheon, also known as the Archan Pantheon, was brought to the Civilized Lands in the year 42 E.F. It has since become the dominant pantheon in both the Civilized Lands and the Wastes. The major book of the young pantheon is te’Archan Dal, or the Book of Archus (in old common). Archus and his ilk took over from the elder gods in a war of epic proportions, which eventually ripped the continents from the ground and produced the world of Alara now know.

Archus
Archus is the king of the gods — the young pantheon, that is. His favored form is that of a roughly middle-aged, well-muscled man with black hair and beard turning to gray in places. Other forms he takes are that of a white-haired but still muscular dwarf, or occasionally, when he’s in a battling mood, a large, well-muscled mountain dragon. Basically, he likes well-muscledness. His favored weapon is the broadsword, and his favored animals are, and this is a direct quote from te’Archan Dal: “Anythinge with a large amont of ferocitie, goode examples beinge the lyonne or egle.” This makes the griffin very archusish. Archus’ alignment is Lawful Good, and his tenants are as follows:

  • Be notte a pricke.
  • Uphold Law, Honorre, and Order.
  • Dance like no onne is watchinge. (it’s thought that this is a mistranslation).

Archus is most often worshiped by any variety of city-living, orderized people. The humans of the Civilized Lands and the Dwarves of Irongate both revere him considerably lots. He’s basically ignored in the Wastes, and the elves are bored by him.

Helena
Helena is Archus’ sister and (yes, we know this is kind of yucky, but gods can do this ’cause they don’t adhere to the regular rules of genetics) consort. Where consort means “off-and-on girlfriend that really thinks he’s a bit of a dork.” They really do love each other, really, and they’ve had at least three kids (perchance more, some of the demigods lying about have dubious heritages), but at this point Helena finds it more fun to just mess with Archus. For example, there’s currently a temple of Archus balanced exactly on the edge of the world. That’d be Helena. Helena is the goddess of trickery, love, and kindness. Quite a repertoire. She only ever appears as a very beautiful human woman, probably of around 35 or so, with long, brown hair and a pleasant smile.. Her favored weapon is the shortsword, and she likes cats. Cats are often considered to be sacred to Helena. Her alignment is Good, and her founding principles are:

  • Be nice to those who deserve it.
  • If it’s funny and not particularly damaging, it’s worth doing.
  • If the rich deserved their riches, they’d guard them better.

Helena is, mostly for the third principle, often payed tribute to by career thieves. The Wyrmspire Thieves’ Guild, for instance, is known to have a small shrine to her in the guildhall. Any manner of wanderer or rogue can find acceptance at her temples. Elves love her. She is also considered to be the patron goddess of Wyrmspire.

Anator
Anator is Archus’ brother and enemy. He’s a massive prick, and holds a deep belief that chaos is the ultimate form of life, and that all should be returned to chaos. In that vein, he is one of the most active gods in the mortal sphere, usually sewing chaos and breeding dissent. At least half of the wars in the past millenium can be traced back to an Anatorian starting point. Anator’s favored weapon is the flail and his favored animal is the wolf, though he also likes moose, for some reason. He often takes the form of a deathly thin, scraggly-haired human man, or a black-furred Njorlghar, or a giant swamp dragon. He is Chaotic Evil, and these are his tenants:

  • If you can do something, why not do it?
  • The weak are weak for a reason, and should be taken advantage of.
  • Power is worth anything.

Anator has cults all over the place, but the only places where his temples are accepted in the mainstream are Argan Vas, Selvern, or anywhere in the Wastes where Hundrites are.

Plaggan
Plaggan is the king of the dead, and another, lesser brother of Archus. It’s often vague in Archan mythology where exactly the dead go (there’s some thought that they go to a peaceful realm in the middle of the Evertorn) but wherever they go, there Plaggan is king. He is a rather torn god, as he feels that the whole “god of the dead” things means he probably should be evil and follow Anator, but he likes his realm of dead things and his rule and thus more often follows Archus, as Anator’s plan is to dissolve everything, and that’s not okay. Plaggan rarely takes any form at all, but when he does it’s a seemingly empty suit of rusted bronze armor. His favored weapon is any variety of polearm, and his favored animal the vulture. He is Unaligned. Tenants:

  • Do not hasten mortals’ paths toward death, but do not mourn when life takes its course.
  • The dead should be treated with respect.

Plaggan is often a half-forgotten god, worshiped only by those with dead relatives who want to make things nice for their loved ones. There are no areas where worship of him is particularly prevalent, though the Njorlghar of Wyrmspire seem to have some love for him.

Zaran
Zaran is another one of the Archan brothers. He’s more of a rogue than the rest, and spends his time sailing the cloudsea. He’s the god of all sailors and explorers, and one of the least present gods on Alara, while ironically being one of the most present, as he’s usually sailing. He only ever takes the form of a massive human man with hair and beard of clouds. When great sailors die, he snatches them from the grasps of Plaggan and sails with them aboard his ship. He has a large assortment of sailors, a combination of minotaurs, humans, elves, rhokari, underfoot, and one odd dwarf. His favored weapon is the scimitar, and his animal the gull. He is Good, and his tenants are thus:

  • Explore and see as much of the world as you can.
  • Who cares what happens today? Tomorrow you’ll leave, and you can have just as much fun in the next town.
  • Party hard.

Sailors of all sorts revere Zaran, as does anyone who lives near or on the Cloudsea: the Rhokari, the Minotaurs, and many humans.

Omora Agabai
Omora Agabai is the goddess of magic, and sister of Archus.  She’s mysterious and vaguely ADD.  Sometimes she spends decades trying to mold the world to good, and then seems to drift off and no one hears of her for years.  She’s generally for any kind of trickery and anything involving magic.  She also protects wanderers and those on the lower rings of society.  She takes the form of a short, tan-skinned half-elf woman with black hair, seeming to fade between purple and blue in places.  Her hair seems to move with a mind of its own, whirling about and occasionally twisting itself into a bun when it’s bored.  This form varies in age, occasionally young or very old, but always the same person.  Omora Agabai’s favored weapon is the stave, and her favored animal is the raven.  She is Unaligned.  Tenants:

  • Explore and discover all you can.
  • Live for the moment.
  • If they can’t take a joke, fuck them

Omora is payed tribute to by all variety of mage and thief.  The elves have large temples to her as well, and the Njorlghar occasionally like her too.

Rudolphus is the son of Archus and Helena.  He is a god of knowledge and discovery.  His favored form is that of a bookish-looking, robed elf with long brown hair.  His favored weapon is the ledger (yes, he whacks people with books) and his animal the owl.  He is often worshiped by scholars and mages.  Rudolphus is Good.

Jurgan is Rudolphus’ twin brother, another son of Archus and Helena.  He is of the opinion that his brother is a twat, and he’s probably right.  Jurgan is a god of war, of combat, of glory, of valor, all that stuff.  He is exceedingly honorable.  His favored form is that of a youthful warrior, bedecked in shining plate and full of happy swordage.  When he deals with the minotaurs, however, he’s a minotaur.  ’cause that makes sense.  His favored weapon is the battleaxe, and his animal the bull.  His worshipers are any kind of soldiers, and the entire minotaur nation.  He is Unaligned.

White Aretha is the youngest child of Archus and Helena — their daughter.  She is the god of orderly death, the one that takes and ferries the souls of those whose time has truly come.  Her favored form is that of a young, eerily beautiful woman with whiteblonde hair.  Her favored weapon is th scythe, and her animal the dove.  She is Lawful Good.   She’s most commonly worshiped by really anyone who wants their death to mean something.

Black Hundriss is the son of Helena and Anator — it’s a long story.  He’s the god of chaotic death, of random murder and of slaughter.  Obviously, he’s Chaotic Evil.  He often takes the form of a thin youth with long, black hair.  His favored weapon is the scythe, something he’s still feuding about with his half-sister, and his favored animal the elk.  Hundriss likes elk.  He’s mostly a cult figure, not really bothering with temples n’ shit.

Elleida is the goddess of undead.  She’s the daughter of Plaggan and Omora Agabai.  Somehow, two Unaligned gods spawned an Evil daughter.  Obviously a bad fruit.  Her favorite form is a diminutive, black-haired, pale-skinned woman.  Occasionally, however, she’s tall and blond.  She’s actually kind of vain, which is odd for a goddess of undead.  Her favored weapon is the mace, oddly enough the only weapon able to smash her skeletons, and her favored animal the mouse.  We don’t know why.  She’s mostly a cult figure in the Civilized Lands, but in the Wastes she’s the most important god, along with White Aretha (which totally makes sense… actually, it does.  Read the wastes posts.)

Badhis is the goddess of nature.  She’s the daughter of Zaran and Omora Agabai.  She doesn’t particularly care for people, elves, dwarves, minotaurs, or anyone.  She likes nature.  Plants.  Animals.  It’s nice.  Her favored form is a green-haired, almost-treant girl.  Her favored weapon is the stave, it being the closest weapon to nature.  She’s not commonly worshipped, but she’s a popular figure both with druids and with the youth population, who have recently begun to become hippies.  She is Unaligned.

That’s the young pantheon.  I’ll do the others tomorrow, because quite frankly my ADD is setting in and now I have to either go make Magic: The Gathering cards or funk around with a recently-pirated copy of RPG Maker XP.  Fare thee well, and look forward to the twelfth…

Alaran Organizations: The Explorer’s Society

So, we meet again, my devoted and seemingly nonexistant followers. Here’s the plan for the summer:

1) I write a few more posts. Shit like a few more organizations, some more beasts, that kind o stuff.

2) Big fucking update. Like, for srs. We are talking story advancement here. As in, fast-forward five years and see what’s changed. This is mostly ’cause I want to change some shit, and I feel like the best way to do it is through time. And since this is a fictional world I’m fucking with, time can pass with the snap of a finger. Fingers.

3) More posts. No spoilers here about what imma be posting about.

Anyway, on to the explorer’s society.

The Explorer’s Society was founded in the year 655, a date proudly proclaimed on a plaque of their official guildhall. Explorers existed before that, of course, but after 655 they had a society. That makes ’em fuckin bigwigs.

The Explorer’s Society was founded in the wake of famed explorer Hendrick Alantra. He theorized the existence of another continent, a land he called Gúlind, old common for (roughly) “the land beyond.” Technically, Old Common for “the land beyond” would be te’lind tevaera, but that sounded stupid and uselessly alliterative, so he named it Gúlind, lit. “far-land”, and told everyone that it meant “the land beyond”.

Hendrick, with nothing more than a degree in linguistics and a dream, petitioned the then-reigning King Benedict I for a grant to find Gúlind. Benedict I, old, bored, and anticipating peace, grants it. Hendrick sets off in a ship full of hired help, and isn’t seen again for three years.

And then, he appears. Full of tales of giant, dragon-like creatures that could not breathe fire. Tales of men with scales and flickering tongues. Tales of mountains spitting fire. These were originally attributed to insanity, falsity, or drunkenness, but after every man of the crew collaborated the story, it was believed. Funds poured in for a return expedition to Gúlind, and a fleet set off: the flagship Discovery (a remodeled, larger version of the previous ship), the Helena’s Grace, the Zaran’s Will, the Cloudwing, and the Mercy of the King. Much fanfare occurred, and everyone was happy.

Fastforward a few years. Benedict I dies. Benedict II takes the throne. The second imperial war begins with Argan Vas attacking Wyrmspire. People largely forget about the expedition, things like the threat of imminent death distracting them. Then, a large trunk of wood washes up on the shores of a small fishing town in the east, caught in an expanse of canvas that allowed it to be born aloft by the winds of the Cloudsea. Nothing much is thought of this, until a weathered inscription is discovered near the base of the trunk:

The Discovery
642
Archus Bless the King

Among the exploration-interested men of Wyrmspire, a great ruckus occurs. War? Who cares, one of ours died! After holding a large funeral pyre for those presumed lost, the educated motherfuckers found the Explorer’s Society. The broken mast of the Discovery is still displayed in the center of the guildhall.

The Explorer’s Society explores. New island found far to the east? They’re on it. Expedition to map the deadly Omarra desert? Sure. See what’ll happen if we drop a lead block off the continent? They already did that.

The Society currently is one of the most major funders of the technological city of Below. From there they launch expeditions to the center of the planet, expeditions to the Evertorn, expeditions to that island over there, or expeditions along the side of the continent to see what’ll happen. The society outpost at Below is the very definition of bustling, as there’s constantly something being launched.

On the walls of the Explorer’s Society guildhall is the most complete map of Alara thus far known to be assembled. One wall is devoted to Aulind, including the entire Civilized Lands, the entire Wastes, parts of the forest of Requiem, parts of the northern Ebenien Plains, and parts of the Omarra Desert. Another wall is devoted to Norgenar, the bittercold southern continent. Only the northern tip is mapped, and there’s no way to know how large the continent is in full. It’s mapped in extreme detail, however.

The remaining two walls are devoted to the edges of the continents: in-depth depictions of the vertical forest of the rhokari, with the territory of every tribe mapped. The nooks and crannies surrounding Below. The ice gargoyles that live on the sides of Norgenar. Everything known is mapped. It’s rather scary.

The rest of the guildhall is full of artifacts brought back from distant lands, memoirs of famous explorers, and treatises written on said memoirs by people who wish they were exploring. The back of the building is filled with exploration equipment, from machetes to lightweight clothing to iron rations.

The Explorer’s Society often doubles as a researcher’s guild of sorts. They have scriptures pertaining to basically everything in their possession, and as such, when someone important wants to know something, they go to the Explorer’s Society. If they don’t already have the information, they can quite easily be persuaded to go and get it – after all, it’ll probably involve exploring. The Explorer’s Society currently enjoys quite a large amount of funding from the Council.

Important Members of the Explorer’s Society:

Thulin Thunderboot is arguably the most famous explorer ever. He surpassed his idol, Hendrick Alantra, several years ago, after bringing back evidence of a race of horse/men hybrids from the north. Thulin has made more personal contributions to the Society than any other member in the entire history of the organization. His contributions include the aforementioned evidence of the existence of “centaurs”, his leading of an expedition into the Wastes, and his mapping of a significant portion of Requiem. Of course, he set out to map the entirety of Requiem, but gave up after getting a few hundred miles in without finding anything interesting and then being shat upon by a moose.

Thulin is a dwarf. He’s of relatively average dwarfish height, and is, indeed, by all standards of appearance, a relatively average dwarf. This is offset by his clothing, which is often a combination of white robes he got in the north, tribal leather bartered from the savages of Requiem, and a hat made of bones that he got in the Wastes, which he merely wears because it happens to be enchanted to provide a considerable bonus to one’s dexterity. He fights with a combination of bizarre weapons that he procured in various lands, but mostly enjoys the Lynoth, a northern variation on the shortspear which consists of a head a foot long and jagged.

Thulin’s current expedition is one of great ambition: to find the fabled northern land of Swelterholm and map the fuck out of it. He set off on this expedition, under great fanfare and much rejoicing, with three ships and the instructions that if they didn’t hear from him in a decade, declare him dead and have a public funeral. It’s been eight years thus far, but we’re thinking he’ll report back. We hope.

Saer Elthallow is the current guildmaster of the Explorer’s Society. He was, long ago, an explorer, but now mostly contends himself with the research side of things. He basically sits around the guildhall, eating pie and reading of whatever Thulin did recently. He has published most of Thulin’s memoirs, seeing them as educational to the public. This led to the one on the Wastes being banned, of course, as the Council doesn’t particularly want its people to know that there’s an undead threat lurking a few miles north.

Saer is a human man of about seventy, with long white hair and a heavily wrinkled face. Despite his rather dry way of occupying his time, he constantly smiles, and often reads stories to orphans on his days off. Which are really whenever he feels like reading to orphans, ’cause he’s the guildmaster, he can give himself the damn day off. It’s rumored that he was a pirate when he was younger, but these rumors are mostly ignored, probably because they don’t matter.

Chapter I

So, here’s the first chapter. (Esty, if you’re reading this, I still want comments on the prologue). My main concern here is whether or not I described Below decently, it’s a bit of a mindfuck, so I want to be sure I paint an accurate mental picture. It’s a bit long, but it’s double-spaced so reading it shouldn’t be too much of a problem.  Opinions are mandatory. You shall be assimilated.

I

Far away, another ship, a different ship, pulled into the docks of Below, the city beneath the world. Here, the rain was lighter, more of a depressing drizzle than an obliterating downpour.

The crew of the Lucinda scurried about, making ready for landing. They were making port for the first time in months, and all were excited. Some had wives and children on land that they were eager to see, but most simply looked forward to ale and wenches, probably in that order. The only crew member not in a frenzy was, oddly enough, their captain. He stood, solitary and drenched in rain, at the bow of the ship, looking toward the city, thinking. The crew knew their captain, and knew that if he was thinking it was probably about something important. This was because he rarely bothered with thinking, preferring prompt action and sorting out the mess later.

He stood, staring at the the city of Below with his pleasant blue eyes, though not entirely seeing it. He looked about thirty, perhaps either ending his third decade or beginning his fourth. His left hand engaged in a constant struggle with his long, black hair, which was attempting unsportingly to blow into his face and obstruct his view. His right, in contrast, was deep in this pouch, gripping something unseen.

He wore the standard clothes for a sailor of the Cloudsea: baggy, beige colored pants that had probably once been red, tight at the waist but loose at the bottom, so that if he fell overboard the rising thermals would catch his clothes and arrest his fall. His shirt, though white, adhered to the same principles of design as his pants, with many seemingly extraneous folds designed to catch the wind while not catching the rain. He wore a small leather pouch, for personal effects, in which he currently had his right hand. The only way he differed in dress from any of his crew was the bright red, silk sash tied loosely around his waist, like an afterthought, proclaiming his rank of captain.

One of the crew approached him, a man of medium height with a long scar on the right side of his face, though otherwise unremarkable. “Captain Corentin,” he said in respectful tones, “We’re ready to dock.”

The captain stood still for a moment, likely finishing his thought. He spoke without looking at the sailor, keeping his eyes on the city. “Pull in on one of the upper docks.”

“Cap’n, that’ll cost a bunch! Th’ docking fees are bloody crazy up there.”

“I know; I’m in a hurry. Give the order.” The sailor ran off, shouting at the rest of the crew to get to work.

The docks of Below were rather oddly situated. The problem with Below was that, as it was an entire city placed on a sheer cliff face on the underside of the world, it had rather more vertical space than it did horizontal. Thus, the docks were on the underside of the rest of the city, so that the city did not have to deal with them taking up space. The uppermost docks, usually reserved for visiting nobility, were a few seconds walk away from the Main, the area where most of the work went on in the city. The lowermost, on the other hand, were both rather poorly constructed and cut off from everything else, the only access available a series of bizarre mechanized lifts whose maker had probably been several cards short of a full deck.

All this, Captain Corentin thought of as his crew prepared to dock in the ritzy upper levels. They pulled in alongside a richly decorated transport ship, its triple sails and freshly painted red sides cutting a stark contrast to the Lucinda’s shabbiness. Aboard it, some pompously dressed fop looked at the Lucinda with disdain. His look was greeted with rude gestures from several of the sailors.

Corentin leaped off the bow as soon as it neared the dock, leaving his men to tend to the ship and setting off at a brisk pace.

“Cap’n!” called a voice after him. He turned; it was the scar-faced sailor from earlier. “Shouldn’t one of us go wit’ you, sir?”

“I think I know my way around Below, Arak,” replied Corentin. He turned back to the city.

Despite his hurry, he took a moment to breath in the sights. Below was, truly, an amazing place. The city had been founded, as a mere outpost, a century and a half previously. The idea was that the bountiful wind-power of the Cloudsea should be put to some good use. Of course, the group of crazy dwarves who had the idea thought it was too simple to merely build a city on the coast. There are lots of cities built on the coast, where’s the fun in that? So, they gathered up their equipment, and made it, somehow, down the side of the world and to a cliff face that would soon become Below.

The original outpost was constructed on a kind of ledge, an outcrop of rock that, while near the underside of the continent, was probably still technically the side of it. A cave behind said ledge provided shelter and the main living space for the scientists, while on the ledge itself they performed their experiments. Then, they discovered that the underside of the world was actually incredibly strong and could support any number of things hung from it. Thus, Below grew into a city partially on a ledge above itself, but mostly hanging down in the form of all manner of docks and hastily thrown-together buildings.

Most of the scientific work in Below occurred in the Main, the most sturdy area. A grid-like system of ramps and wooden streets ran everywhere, cutting the Main into neat little squares. In each square was a building, or several buildings, dedicated to the pursuit of wind science. Underneath the streets hung bizarre instruments, doing everything from measuring wind-speed to powering transportation to just sitting there, blinking with seemingly incongruous lights.

Further back in the gloom underneath the world lay the living area for most of the workforce of Below. It hung like a badly-constructed model, streets going random places, sometimes stopping, sometimes having large pieces missing, and saturated with a myriad of badly constructed houses, if they could be called that. The house-like objects mainly took the form of large communal living areas, low and squat, with canvas sheets as roofs, as that was the most conservative way to construct them and wood was expensive. The thinking of the scientists was that their living quarters should not be particularly comfortable, as the most important aspect of the city was the technology. Thus, they hadn’t put much effort into their living quarters, earning it both the ire of everyone living in it and the nickname the Ramshackle.

In between lay the area of the merchants, where the hardworking men and women who had nothing to do with science were yet intimately connected with it, as all their customers were either scientists or grunts working for said scientists. It was a combination of the styles of the Main and the Ramshackle, slightly less organized than the scientific district but not as decrepit as the living quarters, as that just wouldn’t do for the merchants. Here, one could find butchers and bakers aplenty, though candlestick makers were a rarity, as open flame endangered the mostly wooden city. The merchant area had no name, as such, though some called it the Mainshackle and thought themselves incredibly witty.

Corentin took all this in within the space of a second, seeing everything going on in the busy city. He continued along his path, though looking all around him as he did, for Below still amazed him, despite the many times he had visited. Around him swirled daily life in Below, a confusing, busy thing. The main population of the city were the Wind Dwarves, dwarves who had forsaken their native mountains and come to further the pursuits of science, their close-cut hair and shaven faces a blatant contrast to their mountainous cousins.

Nearly as numerous were humans, who came in every size and shape but were mostly relegated to grunt roles in the technological city. A sizable minority were the Underfoot, a race of mischievous beings roughly the same size as human children, who scampered about doing all sorts of odd jobs. Though these three were the clear majority, nearly every other race could be found in Below: elves, attempting to remain aloof and distant in the bustle of the city; the winged Rhokari of the northern forests; horned minotaurs, bull-men from the islands to Below’s south and east; a few of the Njorlghar, rat-like beings who subsisted in filth and squalor. Corentin even thought he caught a glimpse of purple-furred Satyr, deep in conversation with a dwarven overseer. Though all were different, all shared the same style of dress: loose clothes with safety folds in the case of a fall – a very real danger in Below.

Watching all this, Corentin was pleasantly surprised when his feet took him directly to where he wanted to be: the Below headquarters of the Explorer’s Society, a squat building made of a patchwork of stone and wood, bearing the symbol of the society, a boat imposed upon the rising sun.

He entered, and found everything aflutter. The welcome room, though small, was large for the standards of Below. Dozens of people ran about it, giving papers to each other and checking various bags, occasionally scurrying into a back room, and all talking in very loud voices.

Corentin, after blinking slightly in the face of the bustle, grabbed one of the hurrying men by the arm. “Excuse me, do you know where I could find Shorac?” he asked the man, who motioned toward one of the back rooms and sped off. Corentin shoved through the multitude and opened the door gingerly, fearing another scene like the one he had left.

He was greeted, however, by a scene of quiet and calm, a small study warmly lit by a glowing lamp. A desk on the far side of the room was covered in all manner of papers, books, and assorted hodgepodge. At it sat a slight, balding man, who had not noticed Corentin’s entrance. His nose was nearly touching the book he was reading, and the tip of his quill was tracing the lines as he read them, occasionally underlining something of apparent importance.

Corentin watched him work for a bit, smiling slightly. He then grew bored, and contemplated the best way to interrupt the scholar. After thinking a bit, he said “Boo!” in a loud whisper. The man jumped, and looked up. He was obviously annoyed at being interrupted, but the scowl on his face quickly turned to a warm smile.

“Drogo Corentin!” he said, rising from his desk.

“Thale Shorac!” replied Drogo, and the two embraced. “Though,” began the captain after the greeting, “You should know as well as anyone that I despise my given name.”

“Don’t see why, perfectly pleasant name,” replied Shorac, grinning. “Name of a saint, y’know. Saint Drogo. Healed the emperor of a deadly sickness, a few centuries back.”

“You’ve mentioned before,” said Corentin, prodding Shorac in the ribs playfully. “You also mentioned that the emperor died of the same sickness a few months later.”

“A trifle!” exclaimed the scholar, and the two fell about laughing at the same conversation relived for the thousandth time.

“Drogo Corentin, where in the seven hells have you been?” asked Thale after the levity was finished.

“Oh, you know, here and there.”

“Here and there!” said Thale in mock rage. “You bastard, I haven’t seen you in three years!”

“Three?” said Corentin, genuinely surprised. “I was last in Below six months ago, didn’t I visit you then?”

“Six months? Six months? No, last I saw of you, you were headed off to the outer islands in search of the fountain of youth!”

“Ah, that.” Corentin’s face glazed over in a smile of hazy remembrance. “Good times. I guess I could probably be forgiven for forgetting to visit you last time, I was being chased by minotaur assassins. Bit preoccupied, y’know.”

“I shouldn’t ask, should I?”
“Probably not.”

“I guessed. How’d the fountain of youth go, though?”

“Oh, we never found it. Turns out the map was forged. We did find the fountain of death, though. Bit of an awkward conversation with that sailor’s parents when we got back to port…” Corentin’s brow furrowed, and he stared at the wall for a short while. “Anyway,” he began again, “what’s going on with you? Officially registered Scholar of the Explorer’s Society, you must be very proud! Last time I was here, you were an assistant!”

“Yes, I got the promotion last year. Only a conciliatory gesture, I’m afraid. The Below chapter wanted someone with a bit more prestige to do their research, and headquarters agreed. Still, the pay raise is nice.”
“What’s all the ruckus in the other room, anyway?”

“Oh, there’s an expedition starting… well, about two hours ago, by now. The sixteenth expedition to the center of the continent. They’re convinced they’ll find it this time.”

“Will they?”

“All things are possible!”

The two friends chuckled quietly together for several moments more, then silence fell. After several moments, Thale began speaking again, this time in a more serious tone. “Corentin, what exactly is it you want with this visit?” he inquired, attempting to be polite.

“Couldn’t imagine what you mean,” replied Corentin uncomfortably.

“Oh, come on. You only ever show up when my knowledge could be of use to you. Back in Wyrmspire, you and your delinquent followers came by only when you wanted advice on how to beat the neighboring street’s gang!”

“Hey! You were more my friend than any of those sheep!” exclaimed Corentin, offended.

“That may have been, but you only remembered it when you wanted something. Hells, last time you were here it was only to ask my opinion on that map you won!” The two stood in awkward silence for several moments.

Corentin started again, stumblingly. “I may have something I wish to ask your… opinion on.”

“Ah, here we go,” smiled Thale. “What is it? Another map? Perhaps an ancient artifact you ‘acquired’ and wish to have examined?”

“Closer to the latter…” mumbled Corentin as he fished in his pouch. He pulled out several things, some identifiable and some not, before he got to what he was looking for. “Ah!” he exclaimed, and pulled it out.

It appeared to be a shard of pottery. It was small enough to fit comfortably in Corentin’s hand, but large enough so that he could not entirely close his fist around it. Though obviously broken, it was decorated on both sides as well as on the edges. The decorations were dizzying, all manner of colors and designs, swirls and paintings. Dominating them, however, were several large swirls of silver, shining even in the dim light of the study. They danced intricately, confusing the eyes and confounding the mind.

Both men were silent for several seconds, studying it. Thale broke the silence first. “May I hold it?” he asked. Corentin handed the shard to him, and the silence continued. The scholar turned it over and over in his hands, examining every part of it, every bit of paint.

“I’ve no idea what it is,” he finally pronounced, handing it back to Corentin. The captain looked downhearted, but listened as Thale continued. “It’s… an oddity, certainly. The silver shouldn’t shine like that, but it does. And it’s obviously very old, as the other paint is worn and faded, but none of it’s chipped away. The color has faded, but evenly, which is almost unheard of in artifacts of this age.”

“What should I do with it?” asked Corentin, speaking for the first time in several minutes.

“Well, first, you should tell me where you got it.” Though he loved his friend, Thale was no fool, and new that anything Corentin brought him was probably earned illegitimately. The scholar was fully prepared to scold his friend for theft, gambling, or whatever he had done to earn this object.

“Well…” began Corentin, sitting down at his friend’s desk and putting his feet up, “You know who Dracart Kavarus is, right?”

“Of course, most do. Currently the most dangerous member of the Twelve, ambitious as all hell, pledged unswervingly to Anator. Not a nice person.”

“That guy. Well, d’ya know that he has a daughter?” This proclamation from Corentin was greeted with a glare from Thale, who knew where this was going. “Deadly beautiful,” continued the captain, “and just as evil as her father. But naïve. Doesn’t know when someone’s trying to… coerce her.”

Thale glared at Corentin for several seconds more. The captain continued, speaking a bit faster. “Anyway, she and I had an… encounter… and while the guards were chasing me out of the fortress I found myself in a trophy room. Nice place, with a bunch of obviously valuable things.”
“Well, what possessed you to grab this bit of pottery, then? Surely there was more of value there.”

“Oh, sure. But it was big. There was a statue that I could’ve sworn was solid gold, and a battleaxe made of mithril and etched with all kinds of things, but the guards were getting close and they had some unpleasantly pointy objects and orders from her father to kill, so I grabbed this and legged it out the window.” Corentin paused for a moment, contemplating. “Fortunately, the castle was on the coast, and I fell into the Cloudsea, where my crew rescued me. It was a bit high up, I doubt I would’ve made the fall if not for that…” He lapsed into silence, having finished his story.

Thale sat for a moment, obviously decided something, and spoke. “Well, I can help you.”

“You can?” Corentin almost jumped out of his seat.

“Of course,” said the scholar, smiling smugly. “I’ve a fellow scholar, a dwarf, who specializes in this manner of thing. Artifacts, and the like.”

Corentin was sitting on the edge of his seat with excitement. “Thale, I love you! You’ve no idea how curious I am about this thing!”

Thale began to say something, then blinked and switched to another. “Why?”

“Huh?”

“Why are you so curious? I’ve never known you to care about something that isn’t directly on the path to your fortune.”

“That’s just the thing, I’ve no idea! It shouldn’t interest me at all, but it does, and that makes it all the more interesting! It’s driving me crazy! Now, where the hell is this dwarf you’ve spoken of?”

Thale paused for a moment, then continued. “…well, that’s the thing, he’s a bit of a long way off.”

“Where?”

“Sentinel Watch.”

“Where in the name of Zaran is that?”

“It’s a newly constructed outpost. On an island to the west… here, I can give you a map…” Thale began rummaging around in one of his piles. Corentin leaned in to look, and gave up after several minutes of not being able recognize anything that flashed under his friend’s hands.

After a seeming eternity, Thale found what he was looking for. “Aha!” he exclaimed, holding a shabby piece of parchment high. He pressed it into the captain’s hands, pointing toward a recent addition to the map, added in relatively newer ink.

“Sentinel Watch…” read Corentin. “By the gods, that’s further to the west than I’ve ever been! What’s the purpose of an outpost there?”

“You’ll find out. You’ll find the dwarf there, his name is Galeun.”

“I suppose I shall…”

Exchanging several more pleasantries, Corentin departed. The room through which he had entered was just as busy as it had been previously, but he paid it no heed. He knew where he was going next, and that’s all an adventurer needs.

Prologue

Oh god, I’m trying my hand at writing again. What has gotten into me. This is only the prologue, which doesn’t have any of the actual characters in it, ’cause prologues can be crazy like that. I already have the first chapter too, but I need to streamline that a bit more before I post it. It takes place in Alara, because I’m a whore and enjoy literary masturbation. Comments are mandatory. Don’t comment and I will ball you. That’s where I take off your balls. I’ll figure it out for the females among you.

Prologue

Rain. Cold, depressing rain, pouring down through the blackness of night like the anger of the heavens. Thrashing everything it touches, driving even the hardiest to find shelter. All across the Civilized Lands, it rains.

And far offshore, deep in the morass of the Cloudsea, a ship. The storm is worse here; gusts of wind whirl unpredictably, making it practically impossible to sail. The black clouds above descend to the horizon to merge with the equally colorless clouds below; the ship appearing to float on a backdrop of midnight. Solitary and unseen by any observers, the ship is tossed like a toy by the powerful winds, a plaything in the hands of the gods.

On board, figures scurry busily about. They cannot be seen clearly, as in the gloom, they are only silhouettes subject to the occasional flash of lightning. None of the figures is exactly the same, some tall, some uncannily short, and some with horns. All run frantically, shouting commands to each other and desperately attempting to save their ship from the damnation offered by a plunge into the Cloudsea.

In the center of the bustle, somehow commanding all attention without being unique in any way compared to the myriad around them, are three figures. They struggle with a series of ropes, trying to confound the storm.

“By all that is holy, brother, how can you find this relaxing?” shouts the figure on the left, a woman. The center figure, a good two heads higher than his two companions, and obviously the only one truly comfortable with the current predicament, merely goes stoically about his work. “I maintain that we should have met on my terms…” grunts the same figure again.

The figure on the right lets out a short bark of laughter, all the breath he is willing to expend. “Sister, how is a smoke-filled room full of mysteries and secrets any better than a piece of wood teetering on the brink of destruction?” he shouts.

“I can think of a few ways!” replies the woman. The two fall silent for several moments, concentrating on the task at hand. The storm continues unceasingly, and the sailors match its fury blow for blow.

After several minutes of toil, the woman speaks again. “I suppose we should get to business, then,” she shouts over the roar of the storm.

“The sooner we start, the sooner we finish,” replies the man.

“To the point, then: we all know what is coming. The only thing we don’t know is how many of the others know.”

“I think you can be assured our brother will discover soon enough.”

“Of course. All we can do is try to delay that discovery as long as possible.

The center figure, silent and looming, now speaks for the first time. “We can do more than that.” The other two turn to him, questioning glances implied, if not seen in the gloom.

“What have you in mind?

“Yes, what, brother?”

The massive figure straightens, taking pause from his work. “We could swear not to interfere,” he says.

The other two explode immediately. “Preposterous!” shouts one, the woman. “We should have a hand in this, the same as any of the others!”

“Such oaths are not to be taken lightly, brother!” shouts the man.

“It begins on your turf! Would you be a hypocrite?”

“Are we to be helpless in this?”

The center figure raises his hands in a gesture of pacification. “Siblings, hear my reasons! What is to come will come. The presence of our hands will only attract the attention of the others. Far better to leave our influence to be spent towards the end, and allow the beginning to unfold unobstructed!”

The others, now also having ceased in their work, stand in stony silence, contemplating their brother’s words. The figure on the right, the man, is the first to acquiesce. “Brother, you are wise, though how you come by it is a mystery to me. I swear, by my siblings and my children, not to interfere in the events to come.”

The woman folds her arms, glaring bitterly at her two brothers. Finally, she agrees. “As do I,” she says softly. The three stand together a moment longer, silent in their thoughts.

An outside influence breaks the mutual reverie, coming in the form of one of the sailors. “Captain!” shouts the horned figure gruffly, “The storm worsens! What are your orders?”

The figure in the center appears to grin, though his face is invisible in the black rain. “Back to work, my brethren!” he shouts in glee, and takes up a rope.

Alaran History: Elves

Disclaimer: This history may be mostly fabrication up until E.F. 800, as is the human history (a discovery made by Thulin Thunderboot in A.F. 827.) The elves insist it’s true, but we don’t really pay attention to them.

The Elves of Alara have a considerably longer lifespan than the rest of the races – there are rumors of some living to see 1,000, although for most 500 or so is pretty damn venerable. As such, their history is on a rather grander scale than that of the humans. As elves are also very patient and very, very methodical, wars can last for millennia and political grudges for even longer. Thus, I give you: the history of the Elves of the Civilized Lands.

~E.F. ? – The Elves are under the whip of a mysterious race known as the Maraki, who worshiped a dark god by the name of Banaraat. It is unknown for how long the slavery lasted, as almost all records are in the language of the Maraki. The Elven records from this time use an unknown dating system, marked “Fall of Aldar”. What is known is that the Maraki empire spanned an incredibly great area, and the Elves were only one of the many races enslaved by them. The others are named by ancient Elven records, but they were named in Old Elvish, so we’ve no idea what they were.

~E.F. 18,000 – The Maraki Empire falls. Elven records indicate that this is due to an elvish uprising, but it’s more likely that the Empire fell simply due to reasons most empires fall: corruption, decadency, barbarians. Etcetera. The Elves essentially loot the corpses of their former masters, and thus ‘invent’ bronze weapons. Elves were never that good at metalworking in the first place, so they just had to steal shit.

~E.F. 17,300 – The last of the Maraki is hunted down and killed. With this, the Elves turn from a rampaging bunch of angry savages into a proud, empire-building race. The irony of this is lost on them. The Elven Empire begins. The official state religion is the Elven druidism that began during their slavery to the Maraki; though freedom of religion is also embraced. Tevarüs Brighteye, the leader of the expedition that slew the last Maraki, takes the throne.

~E.F. 15,000 – Under the rule of Hadaris Brighteye, direct descendant of Tevarüs, the Elves continue slowly but surely building their empire. In doing so, they come across roaming tribes of humans. They enslave them, ’cause they need more muscle to build the previously mentioned empire. The irony at this point is so thick that they should literally be suffocating in it.

~E.F. 11,500 – The Elven state religion, under Garatæne Brighteye, changes from the old druidic tradition to worship of a god known as Patarien Thurei. This change coencides with a massive push in elven conquest of surrounding territories.

~E.F. 10,500 – The Elven Empire reaches its greatest extent under Thælis Brighteye, covering the entirety of what is currently known as the Civilized Lands.

~E.F. 10,200 – It is discovered by a group of elves known as House Dawnsong that Patarien Thurei is in fact the same god as Banaraat, the dark god of the Maraki that had enslaved them. They use this fact to begin a rebellion among the elves. House Brighteye, currently between emperors after the death in battle of Thælis, does not do much, knowing that fighting the rising populace would lead to their destruction. This leads to some of the populace actually remaining loyal to them, as well as Patarien Thurei.

The Elven Empire splits into the two states of Narandavir and Heletül, Narandavir in the east, the current territory of Wyrmspire and Argan Vas, and worshiping Patarien Thurei, and Heletül in the west, current territory of Elenaiar and Asernaiar. In Heletül, the old druidic tradition is revived, and the human slaves released, as they consider slavery another reminder of the Maraki empire. The human tribes take up the druidic traditions of the elves, as they really have no other religion to mess with. Galegar Brighteye takes the throne of Narandavir, and Faralis Dawnsong takes the throne of Heletül.

~E.F. 9,500 – The freed human slaves unite and attack Narandavir to free their still-enslaved brethren. This does not go well for them, as the elves of Heletül, noting the violent tendencies of the humans, conveniently “forgot” to tell them how to craft bronze. So, they wage a war on Narandavir with stone and hate as weapons.

~E.F. 9,200 – After three hundred years of Narandavir basically slaughtering the humans and the elven senate of Heletül arguing over whether or not to help them, Heletül, under the rule of Gæren Dawnsong, finally steps up and begins to attack Narandavir. This begins a massive bloody war.

~E.F. 8,000 – The human slaves are all essentially freed from Narandavir. The humans, knowing a shitstorm when they see one, decide not to participate in the rest of the war, universally considered “probably a good idea”.

It should be noted, here, that elven warfare is not at all like that of humans. It’s more a constant state of dislike, occasionally interrupted by a battle or a mage going crazy and fireballing everyone. This enables wars to continue for thousands of years, far longer than human wars continue for, even accounting for the difference in lifespan.

~E.F. 6,200 – The Elves of Narandavir take a turn for the evil. The more evil, that is. They begin participating in dread rituals, blood sacrifices, and the like to summon demons and bolster their armies.

~E.F. 6,000 – Femæra Dawnsong, queen of Heletül, forges an alliance with the roaming human tribes, who have by now forgotten why there’s a war on or if they were ever involved. Together, the elves and humans begin the final assault on Narandavir.

The next millennium is spent in an elevated state of warfare. The noted elven warfare style of years previous goes out of style in favor of straight war. Entire cities are built around battlefields, leaving an odd phenomenon of twin cities being discovered thousands of years later, with one decimated due to the victories of one side. Some individual battles, including the final siege of Narandavir, last for centuries.

~E.F. 5,000 – Narandavir is felled. The city is sacked, and the now corrupt demon-elves hunted down and executed to the last.  The constant battle of the last millennium has completely decimated everyone involved.  Heletül is greatly weakened.  Nothing much differs among the human tribes, ’cause they’re just random humans and you can’t really have weakened tribes.  Doesn’t work.  Point is, Narandavir is demolished and Heletül is in a bit of shithole.

~ E.F. 3,500 – The estimated time of Heletül’s falling in two.  Not much is known, as elven records disappear randomly for about a thousand years, and when they come back again Heletül has become the twin city-states of Elenaiar and Asernaiar, Elenaiar under House Dawnsong and Asernaiar under House Galebreak.  At around this time, the focus shifts from the elves to the humans.  The elves don’t really do anything very important ever again.  They are also mostly ignored by Ulëndras and the empire of Drak’an, who seem mostly interested in humans.

~E.F. 1,300 – The Dwarven invention of iron weapons changes elven warfare for the first time in seventeen thousand years.  This vaguely shocks the elves out of complacency, as they’ve realized that, apart from overthrowing Narandavir, they haven’t actually done anything in their entire history.  They’ve added to the knowledge of magic, and have produced several hundred philosophers, but… whatever.  After this point, the elves resolve to take a more major role in the politics of the land, instead of just festering.  Both Elenaiar and Asernaiar decide this independently within several years of each other.

~E.F. 600 – The War of the Twin Spears, the Elves’ unified attempt to free the humans from their draconic overlord, Dräsilith, ends badly for the elves.  The humans, it turns out, are just fine with their overlord.  This is the bloodiest war in the entire history of the elves or humans, as the elves were surprised by the humans ability to war and the humans were surprised that the elves weren’t just forest-pansies like they always believed.

~E.F. 30 – The Elves watch in bemusement as the humans’ dragon-worshiping society completely eats itself over forty years or so.  They also watch in interest as the new gods, the pantheon of Archus, arrives from across the sea.

0 – The Archan Empire is declared.  The elves essentially sit back and think “yeah, that’s gonna work out great”.

A.F. 12-40 – Japhasath, prophet and living voice of Archus, spends thirty-eight years discussing matters of religion with the elves of Asernaiar and Elenaiar.  This is a remarkably short amount of time for an elf, but Japhasath somehow still manages to convert them from their old druidic tradition to the worship of Archus, though they take more to the worship of Omora Agabai and Rudolphus.

A.F. 55 – The Archan Empire falls.  The elves, despite having been converted to Archanites during that time, still giggle to themselves and think “I told you so.”

~A.F. 200 – The Elves maintain a vaguely cordial relationship with the Niaran Empire, by which we mean that they don’t attack them and are in turn not attacked for a few hundred years.

A.F. 598 – Darius the Mad declares war on the elves, marking the first opportunity for true elven warfare in over a thousand years.  They go mad.  Of course, this all ends when Benedict I takes the throne and reaches out to them, but they have fun in the meantime.

A.F. 652 – The Elves of Elenaiar and Asernaiar enter into the treaty of the Alliance, as dictated by Benedict I, the Wise.  Though there are still some disagreements among the allied races, as Elenaiar doesn’t really like Asernaiar, it’s reciprocated, the dwarves are annoying, and this is the first anyone except the humans has heard of the minotaurs, the Alliance generally works.

A.F. 788 – With the death of Kæran Galebreak, and through some odd incidences of intermarriage, Ambrellis Dawnsong takes the throne of Asernaiar, marking this the first time in over four thousand years that House Dawnsong has had sole control over the elves – though this does not mean that the elves are united.

A.F. 810 – The Amen-Kathar invade Asernaiar, sacking the city and leading to the exile of the elves from their homeland.  Some go to Elenaiar, some to Wyrmspire, and some to Below, but a lot remain in the general area and become the Phoenix Guard, a group of militant elves under the leadership of Ambrellis Dawnsong who will, if given the chance, return to the ancient ways of the Elven Empire.  This is generally considered a bad thing, as is a bunch of squid-things having control over a once-great city of the elves.

A.F. 823 – Present day.  Queen Ellesmera Dawnsong, a half-elf related to the house of Dargonne, presides over Elenaiar.  Asernaiar is still in shit.  Ambrellis Dawnsong is waging constant war on the Amen-Kathar, and random dwarves have begun digging up ancient elf ruins, attempting to fill in the blank areas of elven history.

Alaran Bestiary: Dragons

Dragons. Though massive, absolutely massive, and obviously reptilian in biology, they posses a similarity of movement to cats, and an intelligence far beyond that of the most ancient elf wizard. Though obviously intelligent, they are still relegated to the position of “beast” in the thinking of most prominent Alaran biologists, as thinking of them as more than creatures would both creep many the hell out and put in a rather nasty perspective the many, many dragon-purges that have occurred in the past – genocide is such an ugly word. Thus, their inclusion in the newly-formed Bestiary section, not in the Races section of years past.

Dragons have existed on Alara for gods know how long. Which is accurate – the gods probably do know, but they aren’t telling anybody. Their origins are contested: prominent religious fanatics believe they were created during the war between the Elder Gods and the Young Pantheon, though which side created them depends on the particular bias of the theorizer. Some mighty wizard-scholars argue that they were a side-effect of the genesis of the world, magic energies gone crazy and creating some equally crazy shit. The dragons themselves believe themselves to be created by their god, a divine being whom they do not name, as they consider it profanity for any to speak or even think the name.

What is known is that whatever their birth, dragons exist, and have had a profound effect on history in their time. The history of the human race is melded with that of the dragons, as they were ruled by them for several millennia. Even now, almost a thousand years after dragons were usurped as the rulers of the land, dragons commonly influence the goings-on of politics, war, and generally everything. Dragons are powerful, intelligent, and ambitious – generally, as dangerous as a creature can get.

Dragons come in two main varieties: the Greater or Noble dragons, and the Lesser, Common, or Degenerate dragons (though only called degenerate by people who don’t particularly like them, i.e., greater dragons). Lesser Dragons are not going to be covered in depth in this article. It’s generally thought that Lesser Dragons are all creations of bizarre experiments or epic spells, and that the Greater Dragons are the pure form that was originally created. It’s probably the Greater Dragons that created most of the Lesser – attempts to create more easily controlled underlings, for example. Due to this genesis, the Lesser Dragons are incredibly varied in form (anything from humanoid dragons to cat-sized dragons to dragons with two heads), though all draconic, while the Greater Dragons are more consistent.

Greater Dragons all share various physical features. They are four-legged, bear the aforementioned resemblance to cats, and winged. Most of them have some kind of horns, and they can all breath fire, though the variety and heat of said flame differs depending on species. All have some proficiency in magic, though some choose not to pursue this path. Greater Dragons all live upward of 3,000 years, though only Sand Dragons have been known to reach 4,000.

And, strangest of all, all Greater Dragons, after reaching a certain age (it’s thought puberty is the boundary) can shift into a humanoid form to go without notice among their enemies/minions/dubious allies/whoever they feel like going without notice among. This mortal form varies; some dragons shift into elves, others into humans. Very rarely some shift into dwarves or underfoot, but almost never any other race. Though the Greater Dragons can shift into humanoids, they cannot change the physical features of their humanoid form, and always appear in the same clothes. It is generally thought, by dragon-scholars, that a dragon’s humanoid form is determined by some element of its personality, and cannot actually be changed at will by the dragon. Dragons have been known to change their human forms, but it is almost always after some traumatic event or epiphany that significantly changed the dragon’s personality.

There are many species of Greater Dragon, and though they all share the physical aspects mentioned earlier, they are incredibly varied in other ways. A distinguishing feature of dragons is that their species can often be identified entirely by their name, as each type has its own naming conventions.

Mountain Dragon

The Mountain Dragons are the most prolific of the Greater Dragons. They live (duh) in the mountains, most often in caves and other lairs, but often in massive citadels or towers if they are particularly military-minded. Mountain Dragons have scales of a stormy and cynical blue, occasionally turning gray with age, and backwards-sweeping horns. They’re what most people think of when they hear the term “dragon”, as they’re average in most ways. Not too large, wings are average size, flame is normal, etcetera.

In terms of personality, Mountain Dragons are to other dragons what humans are to other humanoids. They’re equally likely to be malevolent bastards or relatively nice. Of course, they’re dragons, so they don’t go around handing out love and kisses, but they’re the species of dragon most likely to enter into alliances with humans, or, in rare cases, act as a mount, though this usually involves either a threat to the entire world or copious amounts of gold going into the Mountain Dragon’s coffers. Mountain Dragons, when shifted into humanoid form, can take any of many forms, but often appear rough and rugged, dressed as a typical adventurer.

Mountain Dragon names are usually long, and involve double letters. Examples of this would be Alagaaz and Aagnar, both Dragonkings of old.

Flame Dragon

Flame Dragons are not “usually” found anywhere, they are essentially wanderers, though they can often be found near human settlements, dwelling in deep caverns. Their scales are a bright, flamelike red, though before puberty they often tend more toward orange. Flame Dragons posses only a single horn, sprouting upwards from their nose. It would be called rhino-like, if anyone in the Civilized Lands had ever heard of rhinos. Flame Dragons are of average dragon size. A Flame Dragon has the longest and most powerful of all dragon flames: it is incredibly hot and it more like a concentrated blast of energy than a stream of flame. Merely the force of a Flame Dragon flame can topple a tower or destroy a building. And then it catches fire.

Flame Dragons are, in general, complete psychopaths. There are some exceptions, but for the majority, their goals tend toward wealth acquisition at any cost, or just rampaging based on the age-old philosophy of “screw you”. Flame Dragons are most often loners, as their insanity is not often tolerated by others, even of their own species. If one finds a Flame Dragon, even a newborn, it is probably prudent to simply slay it on sight, if possible. Though the wyrmlings are cute… it’s said that they can be raised to be innocent, but it’s challenging. Flame Dragon’s humanoid forms often have spiky red hair and glowing eyes, and often wear leather, though flame dragons are in general reluctant to shift to human form.

Flame Dragon names are short, harsh, and to the point. They also often include apostrophes, which both serve the triple purposes of heavily emphasizing the preceding syllable, performing a glottal stop, and looking really cool. Example Flame Dragon names include A’ka and Ka’ath, both Dragonkings. The reason I use Dragonking names as examples is because I am a lazy bastard, and I already had most of them written down. Fear my indolence.

Sea Dragon

On Alara, a Sea Dragon is a bit of a misnomer. They should more accurately be called water dragons, or lake dragons. Some have recently recognized this and begun calling them Storm Dragons, which is also a bit of a misnomer, as they really don’t have much to do with storms either. Sea Dragons live in large bodies of water, such as Crown Lake. They have shining blue scales, occasionally stained green in places. They have no horns, and are slightly smaller than average for dragons. Their wings are developed more to be used as flippers, and thus are smaller in size than the wings of other dragons, making them clumsy and ungainly in the air. A Sea Dragon’s flame is more like a high-pressure jet of boiling water. Sea Dragons have not been observed to flame above water, and have a maximum lifespan of about 2,500 years, shorter than those of other dragons.

Sea Dragons are the most bestial of the Greater Dragons, and there is a movement among certain high-minded Mountain Dragons to have them reclassified as Lesser Dragons. They do, however, share all physical aspects with Greater Dragons, even if they do seem to prefer hunting and survival to more common dragonly pursuits, such as wealth, maidens, or kingdoms. Sea Dragon’s humanoid forms often have long hair and wear ethereal, loose clothing, with sea-green eyes.

Sea Dragon names seem to include many u’s and the occasional th or dh. Examples include Uruth and Dhuir. There were never any Sea Dragon Dragonkings, as a Sea Dragon has never been that ambitious.

Swamp Dragon

Swamp Dragons live in swamps. They have pitch-black scales. They are smaller than average for dragons, as swamps are usually hard for great bloated lizards to navigate. The occasional exception is found in a Swamp Dragon so large that the swamp can actually grow on its back, but there doesn’t seem to be any in-between. Swamp Dragons have forward-sweeping horns. Their bodies are craggy, rough, and well-suited to life in a swamp. A Swamp Dragon’s flame is less powerful than that of other dragons, it is colder and oozes more than jetting. However, it also produces toxic smoke, which is more than likely to kill the target and everybody around him before they die from the heat.

Swamp Dragons are undoubtedly the nastiest of the dragons. They posses an insanity much akin to that of the Flame Dragons, but much more focused. Swamp Dragons gather minions, form alliances, build fortresses, amass wealth. All for the purposes of destruction. Swamp Dragons revel in destruction and decay, to make everything like their native swamps. A Swamp Dragon will decimate an entire city just to watch its ruins slowly fall apart and fill with plant like over the years. Swamp Dragon’s humanoid forms are always deadly attractive, and they always dress in black cloth.

Swamp Dragon names are cynical and short, often with harsh consonants. Examples include Kharr and Akun, the former a Dragonking.

Forest Dragon

Forest Dragons live in forests, and their scales are shiny-green. They are the smallest of the dragons, as they are often surrounded by trees that need to be navigated. They have horns bloody everywhere. Their shoulders have spikes, their heads are lined with spikes, and they have tail-spikes. They look like something akin to dragon-porcupines. Forest Dragons are the only Greater Dragons that do not posses a flame, a development designed to prevent them destroying their own homes.

Forest Dragons are pretty much bipolar by definition. They’re content to spend hours simply walking among the trees of their territory, enjoying life to the fullest, listening to the sound of brooks, smelling the flowers, watching birds. And then, suddenly, they’re aching for a fight. If nothing presents itself – a large bear will do, even – they rip up a few trees to cool off. If something does present itself, it’s screwed. Unless it’s another Forest Dragon, in which case they feed off each other’s energy and the fight escalates until they’re both left exhausted and bloodied. Forest Dragons are extremely pleasant to talk to in the first mood, and extremely unpleasant to be within a mile radius of in the second. Forest Dragon’s humanoid forms are often elven, wearing leather and an unsettlingly pleasant smile.

Forest Dragon names often include nasal sounds, such as n, m, and ng. Examples include Ungelnar and Kungeg, both Dragonkings.

Sand Dragon

Sand Dragons are larger than normal for dragons. They are not found commonly within the Civilized Lands (no deserts) but mostly in the great desert to the north. Sand Dragons have shiny, copper scales, and spend most of their time prone in the sand, contemplating. Sand Dragons have a pair of backwards-sweeping horns, much like mountain dragons. Sand Dragon flames are excessively dry and hot, though less powerful than that of the Flame Dragon.

Sand Dragons are highly contemplative philosophers. The desert lends itself to this kind of thought, so Sand Dragons will spend years appearing to be asleep – but thinking. Some of the greatest problems in the world have already been solved by Sand Dragons. Sand Dragons are a great resource, if you can find one and convince it to share its knowledge. A Sand Dragon often has a great store of riches, and will gift it to anyone who can give it a puzzle it can’t solve. Of course, giving it a puzzle it can solve often means being eaten for the interruption to whatever metaphysical thing it was currently thinking of. And it can solve most puzzles. Sand Dragon’s humanoid forms are often ancient, white-haired men or elves.

Sand Dragon names often include many s’s, and are superfluously long. Examples include Salsalarith and Rashagnasa. There have never been any Sand Dragon Dragonkings, they really don’t truck with politics.

Cloud Dragons

The denizens of the Cloudsea, Cloud Dragons are absolutely massive. They are nearly twice the size of an average Mountain Dragon – the more room to spread out in, the bigger one grows, I guess. They have no horns, and their wings are around 1.5 times the size, proportionally, in comparison to other dragons. These extra-large wings allow it to float for hours on end. A Cloud Dragon can actually sleep on the wing, if it finds a good thermal. Cloud Dragons roost on small islands in the Cloudsea, but spend most of their time in flight. Their scales are pure white, and their eyes are blue, a remarkable thing among the dragons, who mostly have green eyes. Cloud Dragon’s flames are average.

Cloud Dragons are undoubtedly the most whimsical of the dragons. They simply spend all their time flying about, enjoying life and the breeze. This does not mean a sailor has nothing to fear from a Cloud Dragon, as the dragon may decide that the ship looks like a wonderful new toy and begin to flip it about. But it’s all done with innocent intent. If one converses with a Cloud Dragon, one will find it aloof, constantly thinking about something else. Cloud Dragons are very willing to help anyone who asks, though they may forget the task halfway through. Cloud Dragon’s humanoid forms are often children or Underfoot, with a glint of massive wisdom in their eyes.

Cloud Dragon names often include a large assortment of vowels, with very few harsh consonants. Examples include Kaeala and Aegealai. A Cloud Dragon has never been a Dragonking.

Royal Dragons

Royal Dragons are now extinct, but at one point were the greatest of all dragons. Evidence suggests that they were larger than even the Cloud Dragons, with hotter flames than those of the Flame Dragons. Their horns were different for each one, but always formed what appeared to be a crown, or perhaps a halo, and were always perfectly symmetrical. It is unknown what color the Royal Dragons were, as the statues have long since lost their paint. Suggestions include shining gold, pure white, or even a bizarre mixture of colors, a tapestry of sorts.

Royal Dragons were notoriously high-minded, given to empire-building, philosophy, and generally just being obnoxiously good at whatever they tried. Interestingly enough, there are suggestions in certain ancient scrolls that Royal Dragons did not posses the dragon ability to transform into a human form, though no one knows why this would be.

Royal Dragon names are long, and include umlauts that both emphasize the vowel in question and change its pronunciation. Examples include Ulëndras (oo-LEEN-drahs) and Dräsilith (DRAY-sil-ith). Both of the above were rulers of the ancient empire of Drak’an.

(Note: Due to an ancient scripture discovered by Thulin Thunderboot, the entirety of human history has been thrown into question, and the existance of the Royal Dragon is no longer exactly a sure thing.  In fact, a lot of prominent scholars think it’s bullshit.  Terribly sorry.)

Alara: The Evertorn

Yeah, yeah, I haven’t posted in two weeks. Production of Agamemnon + psychotic embryology teacher = fuck me in the ass and name me Clancy. But I’m back.

It is well known, among the ranks of the even-slightly-educated, that Alara is a world that hovers above the clouds, suspended by the will of a dethroned god, ever floating. For most people in the Civilized Lands, in Aulind, in all of Alara, this does not and will never matter. Many never see the Cloudsea, or only see it once in their lives, or very few times. Many others, however, live their entire lives by and for the Cloudsea, such as the Wind Dwarves of Below, the minotaur sailors of the isles, and fishermen in small villages all over the the Civilized Lands.

Even those who live and die according the the whims of the great Sea almost never stop to question: what lies below? Beneath that layer of wind-torn cloud, what exists? Where do fallen sailors come to rest? These questions have been the territory of philosophers, scientists, and wizards since the dawn of civilization. And the answer is this: the Evertorn.

The Evertorn is the land beneath the clouds. It is the remains of the land that the current continents rose from, in the depths of time. It is a horrible, horrible place: barren, desolate, and almost devoid of life, save one thing. The demons. The Evertorn is a place under constant warfare, constantly devoured by the demons fighting for supremacy.

Hypothetically, the Evertorn is infinite. No one has ever measured the land beneath the clouds, and no one knows how large it is. Thus, hypothetically, there are an infinite number of demons dwelling there. An infinite number of types of demons, as well: if something could be conceived to exist, it’s probably in the Evertorn.

The demons are grotesque creatures. Incredibly varied in form, intelligence, and any other criteria you might choose to pick, the demons are a heartily evil bunch. Occasionally, one shows its evil in a more creative way than others, and chooses to do something nice. But trust us, it’s all for the greater purpose of evil.

Demons range from mindless mutants bent on the destruction of everything in their path to loyal and disciplined soldiers to scheming overlords who can contain their evil for the purpose of a greater one: politics. The one major interest of any Evertorn demon lord is power, which can be split up into to two lesser interests of warfare and politics. At any given time, a demon lord is waging war on several other demon lords, formating alliances with several completely separate demon lords, and plotting to betray all of them. The web of allegiances and hatreds on the Evertorn is so mind-blowingly complicated that trying to diagram it actually led to the death of several prominent Blue Magi, studying in the Arcane Academy of Wyrmspire.

Which leads us to another thing: the Evertorn and Alara, while miles of cloud-stuff apart, are not wholly separate. On one side, many prominent wizards and scientists in the Civilized Lands spend their entire lives studying the Evertorn. “Where do the Imps we summon come from?” question prominent demonologists. “If I drop a rock off of Below, how long will it take to hit the Evertorn, and if it lands on a demon will it kill it?” question prominent (read: batshit insane) scientists. Wizards make entire careers out of summoning demons into their service, and it often pays to figure out where the shit you’re summoning is coming from, and also how to summon bigger demons (wizards aren’t the most sensible of people).

On the Evertorn side, everything revolves around the surface world. The demons of the Evertorn hate the fact that they’re caught in this craphole, and are doing everything in their power to ravage and destructify the hated surface. Of course, demons hate each other almost more than they hate the surface world, so things are basically fucking crazy. A demon lord attempts to open a portal to invade Alara, and is immediately set upon by his neighbors who resent him being more successful than them. On the other hand, a demon lord manages to, in disguise, get into a powerful position in the House of Dargonne, and the ensuing bragging rights catch him several allegiances from other demon lords. Controlling parts, however minuscule, of the above is a major thing in demon politics, and the most major demon lords often play in the surface world. And then kill everyone involved, even on their side, so no one can go tattling to the other demon lords. Demon lords aren’t very nice.

The Evertorn does not adhere to the normal rules of the physical world, as such. Though, scientifically speaking, light cannot actually filter through all the layers of cloud to reach the Evertorn from the sun, there are still regions of it that are burning deserts, the sun seemingly so close that one could reach out and touch it. Other parts are nearly black, illumination only provided by lava flows or strange luminous algae. It is thought that this strange inconsistency of light is caused by the proximity of the Evertorn to the body of the Elder God.

There are many, many races of demons. They are innumerable. In some wretched corner of the land beneath the clouds, anything and everything imaginable exists. There are, of course, several races of demons that, through their strength, ease of proliferation, or some other factor have become more common than others. Three such races are the Dradh, the Sak’kiin, and the Orlüg. The Dradh are the common underlings of every demon lord, of every minor leader. They are tall, bordering on nine feet, strong as hell, and have as much free will as a slightly retarded marmot. They have humanesque faces, with reptilian nostrils and eyes. Their bodies are covered with armorlike scales, and their arms have spike-like protrusions pointing forward: natural weapons. Dradh make up the majority of the forces of many, many demon lords, and also make good slaves.

The Sak’kiin are cunning, intelligent, and the closest thing to a demon lord a regular demon ever gets. They are slightly smaller than the Dradh, averaging around seven feet tall. Their short stature is more than made up for by their absolute brilliance, however. In battle, Sak’kiin make up the shock troops, coming in, tossing fireballs everywhere, and teleporting away before anyone can do anything about it. Sak’kiith are often used by demon lords as advisers, though it pays to keep a regiment of Dradh bodyguards around, as your adviser may just decide to kill you in a massive power-play. The Sak’kiin look mostly humanoid, as do most of the most prolific demon races, but their humanity is tempered by their fangs, six pupil-less eyes, and the auxiliary pair of arms, six feet long and tipped with bony, dagger-like ends on their backs.

The Orlüg are scary. Ranging from twelve feet tall (short) to fifty feet (oh shit, oh shit, an elder Orlüg is eating my castle), all share the same attitude: anything in existence deserves to be purged from said existence. The Orüg exist only to eat, to destroy, to decimate. They are vaguely humanoid, but with grotesque, overblown features, covered in coarse hair, cyclopean, and often with two or more heads.

The demon lords control everything, when it comes to the Evertorn. Depending on the lord, his dominion will take a different form: some demon lords build massive cities to house their armies and their slaves, while some simply roam around, essentially being glorified brigands. What every demon lord has in common is power. A demon lord, if transported with all his power into the Civilized Lands, could rip through entire villages, entire cities, without being stopped. Of course, if the city targeted were Wyrmspire, some wizard would just magic him back to the Evertorn. Which is the weakness of every demon: they are tied, irrevocably, to the Evertorn. A simple spell, and they are banished. Some have the will to resist, but they are rare. Demons are created, arguably, by the Evertorn: no one actually knows where demons come from, they just seem to… appear. It’s quite possible that they are just… grown. Like flowers. Horrible, angry, twisted flowers.

The greatest of the demon lords are the demon princes. These beings are nearly deities, and indeed are occasionally worshiped as such by various cults. The demon princes have vast dominions in the Evertorn, occasionally larger than some continents above. Of course, a demon prince’s greatest enemy is another demon prince. The most powerful of the demons are constantly cutting each other’s throats. There is no real criteria for when a demon lord becomes a demon prince, but when an undeserving lord declares himself a prince, he’s usually set upon by all the other princes, and quickly eliminated. Only the most powerful lords can survive this onslaught long enough for the princes to give up and go back to squabbling with each other, and this is the mark of a prince. A prince has not ascended in the Evertorn for many centuries. Demon princes, and all demon lords, are physically unique, and while they may take elements from other creatures beings looking exactly like them do not exist.

Don’t think, however, that there is no human (or, rather, mortal) presence in the Evertorn. That would be unbalanced. There exists the occasional mortal in the Evertorn, just as there exists the occasional demon on Alara. Many prominent wizards, though mainly those with sick twists, occasionally delve into the politics of the Evertorn. Many a prominent and good-hearted wizard has formated a group to go in and clean up the Evertorn, opened a portal, stepped through, glimpsed the bat-fuck, ape-shit crazy place that is the Evertorn, and turned back immediately, sometimes permanently renouncing goodness on the basis that if something as evil as the Evertorn can exist then there can be no good.

Non-wizards may also reach the Evertorn, though it’s hard. Scientists in Below have calculated that, if one simply tries to fall there, one will starve before one hits. Or, if one has the foresight to bring along a picnic basket, one will eventually reach such a speed that one’s flesh will be ripped from one’s bones, due to the incredible gravitational force of the Elder God. All this, however, has not stopped the crazy Wind Dwarves, Underfoot, and Humans of Below from trying. Recently, an expedition was launched, in which a group of specialists were encased in a solid lead, square-shaped ship, provisioned with several weeks worth of food, and of course, massive amounts of shock-absorbing technology for when they hit. They haven’t been heard back from, but it didn’t seem likely that they would be. Chances are they’re either dead, or have started scientifically diagramming the Evertorn, and will report back when they figure out how to build a catapult large enough to get back.

Important Residents of the Evertorn:

Prince Haal is the current most powerful demon prince of the Evertorn. Haal is a cunning politician and a brutal warlord, and rules over an absolutely massive territory. Haal is unique among the demon lords in that he will keep any allegiance that he swears to. Of course, you have to watch his wording, but he never actually lies. This has given him a reputation that allows him to make deals with fellow demon lords at a much greater rate and with much less squabbling over details – thus, if he’s being attacked, he can bargain a squadron of Sak’kiin reinforcements in the blink of an eye. Occasionally, someone doesn’t watch the wording of the agreement he enters into with Haal. Haal then backstabs him, takes his territory and all his minions, and adds them to his own power. Countless demon lords have been dethroned by trusting Haal too far.

Haal’s physical form is that of a giant, reptilian man, twelve feet in stature and with six arms. In each arm he holds his favored weapon, a highly decorated sacrificial dagger. Haal most often wears a formless brown robe, seemingly with no openings save the bottom one and one for his head, enveloped in brown cloth. Then, out of nowhere, come the daggers. Snicker-snack, and you’re dead. Haal, in addition to being very lethal in close quarters, is an incredibly accomplished sorcerer, and will fuck you up. Period. Some legends abound of Haal being a bastard son of Anator, god of chaos, but there’s a chance those were just started by Haal to enhance his aura of power.

Prince Salarath is the second-most powerful prince of the Evertorn. He’s fucking crazy. He makes allegiances just like Haal, but is about seven billion times more likely to randomly break them and eat the head of whoever he had the agreement with. Because Salarath is a wolf. Well, technically, he’s three wolves. Salarath, in his most favored form for battle, stands about nine feet tall, and has three bodies. All molded into one. They are, essentially, three large, upright wolfmen. But when you look at the back of the left arm of one, it turns out to be the front of the right arm of another, and then it doesn’t matter which arm it is because it’s clawing your eyes out. This means that Salarath has three arms, three legs, three chests, three heads, etcetera. This means that battle with him is a fucking crazy fuckfest, because each head trades off control of the body essentially every second, meaning you could be watching him eat someone from twenty feet away and then suddenly he’s leaping at you and then he’s away again but one of the retreating claws takes off your head so you’re fucked up anyway.

The three heads are three different, and often competing, sentiences. Their names are Belgrath, Thane, and Meshiae. Each one is a different color: Belgrath black, Thane brown, and Meshiae white. Belgrath is an insane warmonger, who revels in killing things and then eating them. Thane is the brains of the group, and often is in control of the body, as well as the plots, the legions, and everything else Salarath controls. Meshiae is a mage who spends most of the time with his eyes forced closed by the wills of his two brothers, who fear him. This is because, if Meshiae opens his disturbing, ice-blue eyes, anything targeted by them will be frozen in a block of ice, then incinerated, then ripped through several portals to far realms and taken back. When used in small doses, however, Meshiae’s specific brand of lunacy can be very useful for, say, completely decimating several legions of enemy soldiers.

While Salarath’s most common form in battle is that of the three-bodied wolfman, he takes another in other instances: Belgrath, Thane, and Meshiae all have their own bodies. Normal wolf bodies, though larger than usual and with horribly intelligent, glinting eyes. This is the form that Salarath most usually lounges in, as he enjoys the freedom of movement granted to him by separate bodies. Salarath often moves about Alara, gaining followers or interfering with politics, and he uses his separate form in this time. So, if you’re out in the forest, and you suddenly see three wolves, one black, one brown, and one white, all looking at you even though the white one has its eyes closed, and all moving in tandem: run. Run like you’ve never run before, and pray to god the white one doesn’t open its eyes.

Prospector Dhar Dhurek is the dwarven leader of the mortal presence in the Evertorn. He’s not important by the standards of the Evertorn, as in he doesn’t have a massive territory or several hundred thousand minions reporting to him. But, by the dubious standards of the Civilized Lands, he’s very, very important. The Prospector is the leader of the expedition, begun several months ago, to Evertorn. The one where they dropped a giant lead block full of scientists into the Cloudsea. Yeah, it worked. And Dhar is amazingly good at leading the expedition.

When the giant lead block (known as the Successful by the overly optimistic project-funders in Below) hit the Evertorn, it immediately sunk several hundred feet, causing such a sudden vacuum in what was previously earth that it was filled in overhead immediately. After tunneling out, the expedition beheld a bunch of demons killing each other. They were not immediately noticed, so they scarped. Now, several months later, the remains of the Successful and several other caverns have become the city of New Below (also commonly called Further Below). New Below is dedicated to diagramming the Evertorn, cataloging its denizens, etcetera, etcetera. Dhar is the leader of this. He often sends out field expeditions, to watch demon battles and take notes, draw pictures, and drag in dead demons to be dissected. They’ve got quite a lot amount of data so far, and have not yet been discovered and exterminated. This is an Accomplishment.

Alaran History: Humans

(Note: This history has been disproved up to about 800 E.F. by a discovery of Thulin Thunderboot.  Everything else is still true.)

The Humans of the Civilized Lands have a history which, though not as long as the histories of their neighbors the elves, dwarves, and minotaurs, not as depressing as the history of the njorlghar, and not as heavily involved in hallucinogens as the history of the Satyrs (frickin’ satyrs… gettin’ high all the time), is, to put it lightly, action-packed.

~E.F. ? (Eptan Fael – literally, The Year of Emptiness.. it was named by fanatical Archus worshippers who were also emo poets) – Most of human history is not known. In fact, the origins of humanity are something constantly argued about by many prominent scholars. The religious fanatics say that humans were one of the races created by the young gods to fight their elders before the world exploding, and thus you will find humans on every continent. Homostin of Wyrmspire insists that the humans of the Civilized Lands migrated from the north, though he’s not sure what this means in terms of origins. Some scholars think that humans changed over time from a lower life form that, though human-like, was rather hairier, but they’ve been locked up, and quite frankly, they’re wrong.

~E.F. 3,800 – What is known of human history starts roughly five thousand years ago, with the human invention of bronze weapons. This new metal allowed the various roaming tribes to start killing various other roaming tribes, and the entirety of the Civilized Lands was plunged into violence. This ended with the coming of Ulëndras the Mighty, an incredibly powerful dragon. It is not known from whence Ulëndras came, but it is known that he was not any kind of dragon known upon current Alara – he was what is referred to in what records there are as a Royal Dragon, though no one knows what the hell that means.

Ulëndras took power over a tribe of humans, and the Civilized Lands soon fell to his followers, succumbing entirely to dragon-worship. Before this, human spirituality consisted of a vague druidic tradition… with trees and stuff. Ulëndras was worshiped both as god and king. It is important to note, here, that as we do not know what sort of dragon Ulëndras was, this may in fact have been closer to the truth than we suspect.

Ulëndras coaxed out of hiding the existing dragons. In those days, dragons were more likely to murder each other than not to, and the other dragons feared for their lives. But Ulëndras did not murder them – in fact, he incorporated them into his rule. With Ulëndras as god-king and the dragons as his enforcers, the empire of Drak’an was forged… the most enduring empire in human history. It is not known where the capital city was, but scholars think that it was on Coronation Isle, the small speck of land in the middle of Crown Lake. It is thought that Crown Lake was lower thousands of years ago, and the city dwarfed even current-day Wyrmspire.

~E.F. 1,300 – At this point, Drak’an has persisted for twenty-five hundred years, and is the most consistent power in the Civilized Lands. However, it has been waning for the past several hundred years… and the people think they know why. Ulëndras, great and powerful god-king of dragons, is growing old. Dragons take an immense amount of time to age, but Ulëndras was not young when he founded Drak’an – and he has certainly not gotten any younger. Scholars estimate that Ulëndras may have been ten thousand years old at this point, though it’s all an unknown, as they still don’t know what the Royal Dragon aging process is like.

The younger dragons under Ulëndras’ power wage war against him. Helped with the dwarven advent of iron weapons, the people join. The Brood of Ulëndras is hard-pressed to defeat their rebelling subjects.

At the height of the war, when Ulëndras’ mighty palace was surrounded by raging dragons and mobs of humans, Ulëndras is killed – by his own son, Dräsilith, who puts down the rebellion with a firm stare and takes control of Drak’an. As dragons are wont to do, Dräsilith kills any dragon older than him or near his age, leaving only those far weaker than him and not of any danger to his rule – the rule of the Brood of Dräsilith (dragons are notoriously vain, and name their families after the current patriarch – history is not given much thought when you can live for three thousand years)

~E.F. 600 – The War of the Twin Spears occurs, which is basically humanity bashing the shit out of the elves, who momentarily ally to fend off the humans. It is one of the bloodiest wars in the history of either race, and what’s worse is that no one can really figure out who started it. If you dig deep enough, you can still find the mass graves that resulted from some of the battles…

E.F. 188 – Dräsilith has turned out to be a far inferior ruler to his father, and though he managed to hold his power for a millennium, he can hold it no more. After summarily executing every last member of his Brood out of paranoia, he is set upon by an alliance of lesser dragons and killed. The last of the Royal Dragons, of the line of god-king Ulëndras, is dead. Drak’an follows. The empire of three and a half millenia falls, turning into a series of states, controlled by a variety of powerful dragons – the Brood of Kharr, the Brood of A’ka, the Brood of Alagaaz, etcetera.

E.F. 42 – Ships arrive from across the Cloudsea, from the land of Luinthras. These ships land in an area controlled by the Brood of Kaa’th, a group at the time too weak to do anything about them. They bring with them messages of peace, messages of a world without dragonkings… messages of a new god. Archus and his pantheon have arrived in the Civilized Lands. The dragonkings are too busy warring amongst themselves to notice, something dragons have been beating themselves over the head about ever since.

E.F. 35 – A boy by the name of Japhasath is born in the region of Ka’ath. The visiting high priest of Archus, who sailed across the Cloudsea on the whim of a dream, declares him the prophet of Archus, the future of the lands. A gathering of Archanites begins to collect around the boy. At this point the dragons should really start noticing stuff, but they’re kind of stupid mega-large lizard things.

E.F. 23 – On the day of Japhasath’s twelfth birthday, Dragonking Ka’ath takes an interest and decides to incinerate the troublesome boy along with his hometown. On seeing him, Japhasath raises his staff to the sky and Ka’ath is struck down by the will of Archus. This begins a rebellion entered into by all of the rather large following of Archus. The dragonkings finally notice.

E.F. 15 – Dragonking Alagaaz, the most powerful of all the kings, disappears completely. Without his protection, his lands, mostly territory in the Dragonmaw Range, quickly fall to the warring Archanites. The Archanites sweep the land, murdering every living thing they come across – human, dwarf, dragon; man, woman, child – it makes no difference, as they see their still living under Algaaz’s wing as evidence of their refusal of Archus. This massacre is known as the Dance of Dying Embers, and is considered the worst thing the Archanites have done in recorded history.

E.F. 4 – An eleven year stalemate is broken when Japhasath marches upon the palace of Dragonking Kharr. He walks right past his guards, into his thrown room, holds out his staff, and commands the king to die. The massive black dragon promptly obeys. His palace falls in a rain of fire, and the corpse of the last remaining dragonking is incinerated.

0 – The Church of Archus, having sent several representatives from Luinthras, founds the Archan Empire, declaring the worship of any Archan god the only acceptable form of religion. Japhasath is offered the crown, but declines. A puppet king is installed by the church.

A.F. (Archan Fael – literally, The Year of Archus) 52 – Japhasath has wandered the land much over the past decades. It is thought that in this time he brought the worship of Archus to the dwarves, the worship of Rudolphus and Omora Agabai to the elves, and generally went around being a nice guy. Japhasath is last seen going into the far reaches of the Dragonmaw Range. When some dwarven priests go to find him, all they find is his staff… resting between a mountain that has been cloven perfectly in two. This mountain is named the Cleft Spire, and is still the most holy site of Archus in all the Civilized Lands.

A.F. 55 – The Church of Archus and all their lackeys receive a message from across the Cloudsea. Immediately, they pack up and leave, promising to return within the decade. They do not keep the promise.

A.F. 60 – The Archan Empire crumbles without the support of the Luinthrans, dissolving into a series of city-states.

~A.F. 75 – A small city in the northern regions of the Civilized Lands turns to the practice of necromancy, naming themselves Túgel Vas, the City of Bones.

A.F. 202 – It has been a century and a half since the departure of the Luinthrans, and the humans have spent most of that time killing each other. Three city-states have emerged ahead of the rest, named Túgel Vas, Dúnel Vas, and Argan Vas – the City of Bones, the City of Kings, and the City of Swords. Dúnel Vas and Argan Vas enter into an alliance. Their combined armies sweep the lands of those stupid enough to resist. Túgel Vas fades into the background, knowing it cannot stand against the twin cities. The eldest children of the two ruling houses are married, and form the newly born House of Niara. Emperor Ethélgar the Great takes the throne of the newly created Niaran Empire.

~A.F. 290 – The First Crusade occurs. The forces of Niara march upon Túgel Vas, determined to destroy its blasphemous presence, which they’ve only recently remembered. It is thought that around this time Zarathas, the first Asilin, was created in an attempt to counter the empire. Something countered it, for after a few years of war, the armies of the empire beat a hasty retreat and resolve never to mention the situation again. Prominent geomancers have dated the start of the degeneration of the Wastes to around this time, so it is thought that some great, land-corrupting spell fended off Niara.

A.F. 307 – The Niaran Empire has become the foremost power of the land, allying with both the elves of the west and the dwarves of Ironforge. In what is considered one of the most hilariously ironic incidents in history, Emperor Edhert the Paranoid is killed by assassins. With his heirs killed in the same night, the House of Riverwish takes control of the empire, though they keep the name Niaran Empire, if only because “Riverwishian Empire” sounds rather lame. Emperor Ashbald the Ruthless takes the throne.

A.F. 352 – Emperor Ashfar the Oblivious is slain by invading minotaurs, beginning a rather embarrassing period in the history of Niara: its period under foreign rule. Emperor Gathak dún Gadh of the House of Karkan takes the throne.

A.F. 370 – After a short and useless rule, Emperor Nuthel dún Gathak is dethroned, stabbed, hung, poisoned, drawn and quartered, burnt, and thrown in pig doings by an irate populace. The House of Atralang comes into rule, beginning the most prosperous period of the Empire of Niara. Emperor Jakben the Red takes the throne.

~A.F. 380 – The Second Crusade occurs. The House of Atralang decides that those damn minotaurs need to be taught a damn lesson in damn manners. So they invade, kill the sitting emperor, and spread the word of Archus. The minotaurs are just fine with Archus, but especially take to the worship of his son, Jurgan, and his friend, Zaran. Ironically, the minotaurs become staunch allies of the empire after this.

A.F. 454 – The Third Crusade, also known as the Forgotten Crusade or A Bad Idea, occurs. Emperor Jakthorn the Blue decides that it’s high time to check up on those damn necromancers again. The armies of Atralang invade, find a scarred land full of about seventeen different factions of warring undead fiends and one faction of beleaguered humans, decide that Túgel Vas has enough problems without them, turn around, and march right back to the Civilized Lands. Jakthorn dies a year later of dysentery.

A.F. 517- Emperor Jakhart the Yellow dies of plague. With no heirs ready to take the throne (his only daughter doesn’t count as an heir, ’cause she’s a chick) the War of Ascension breaks out.

A.F. 522 – The War of Ascension is won. Emperor Larazan the Conqueror takes the throne, marrying Jakhart’s daughter to lend legitimacy to a claim originally enforced with sharp objects. The House of Dargonne now has the throne.

~A.F. 560 – The Fourth Crusade occurs. Emperor Ethélgar Moonbane, upon hearing of the heathen, moon-worshiping, moon-addicted, Moon Dwarves to the north, decides to invade. This goes rather well, and they completely decimate an entirely stable society that has been running fine for thousands of years. Unfortunately, Ethélgar’s two eldest sons, Arug the Princely and Zagan Deathwish, both die in combat, leaving Darius the Mad as the only heir.

A.F. 598 – The people of Argan Vas rebel, assassinating the potentate installed by Emperor Darius and declaring war on their sister city, Dúnel Vas, beginning the First Imperial War. Darius goes completely batshit, declaring war on both the elves and the dwarves for “not helping enough”.

A.F. 602 – Darius is killed by his eldest son, Benedict. Benedict quickly asks for peace with Argan Vas, renames Dúnel Vas Wyrmspire, and declares himself King Benedict I. This is the end of the Niaran Empire, and the beginning of the current period of history.

A.F. 652 – The Alliance is formed, an agreement between the elves, the dwarves, the minotaurs, and the humans of Wyrmspire to not kill each other and maybe occasionally help each other out. Benedict I, the Wise, promptly dies after seeing this through, as he is at this point really friggin’ old.

~A.F. 660 – The Second Imperial War occurs, taking the life of Benedict II, the Avenger. His brother, Carith I, takes the throne.

~A.F. 685 – The Third Imperial War. Through a series of stupidities, Carith II, the Fool, is slain in battle. His brother, Gandin I, the Brave, takes the throne.

A.F. 722 – Gandin II dies with no heirs. The War of Succession, basically a bitch-fight between various second and third cousins, begins.

A.F. 725 – Carith III, the Eye, grandson of Carith II, takes the throne decisively. During this time, he forms an alliance with the Order of the Red Magi. Carith III is often thought to be the most dubiously mage-like of all the kings. Most noble people don’t really truck with mages.

~A.F. 770 – The Fourth Imperial War occurs. Benedict III, the Hammer, is slain in the final battle, leaving his son, Carith V, to take over.

A.F. 798 – Carith V and his son, soon to be Gandin III, are both assassinated in the same night. The young adventurer Benedict IV takes the throne.

A.F. 823 – Present day. Despite many efforts by people on both sides to start the Fifth Imperial War, Benedict IV has thus far prevented it. This is generally considered a good thing. Benedict has three children, named Adrian, Randolph, and Keara. As the eldest two are gigantic twats, it’s generally hoped that Keara take the throne, despite the fact that she is sixteen and refuses to be seen anywhere near the palace.

Fucking Finally

Okay, I’m bloody well done with Wyrmspire.  Phew.  That took, what… six months?  Remind me to detail my next city in less… detail.

The next things I’m going to do are available on the Alara page – the ones that aren’t links are articles that haven’t been written yet.  Methinks I’m going to do some history, then the Explorer’s Society and the Thieves’ Guild, then dragons.  Then maybe some more cities – though in less detail.  Far, far less detail.

Peace out.

~Tusked

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