Tuesday, October 18, 2011

History of Lingusia in the Ages Era

   The World of Lingusia is an immense realm, a legendary planet forged at the moment of creation by great, primal beings. Its history is one of perpetual discovery, magic, danger, and conflict. It is, in short, ideally suited for tales of high adventure, intrigue, and exploration.

   Physically, Lingusia is believed by most to be a flatland, a disk-like world which may be somewhere on the order of 28,000 leagues in diameter. The center of this great disk is the Southern pole which attracts the magnetic compasses used for navigation, and it was established long ago by travelers that the closer you get to the pole, the more varied the direction of the compass gets. Likewise, the mysterious magnetic flux of the North Pole seems to radiate from the edge of the world, where the great oceans circulate in a writhing mass, which plunges over, and sweeps back up, the edges of the world. No traveler alive has truthfully traveled to the edge of the world, however, so only the suspect tales of ancients speak of such things.
   As a flat world with a very slight curvature, A Lingusian's view of the horizon from any given point is noticeably immense. Most horizons can carry on for a much greater distance than in the mundane world of our own reality, but the density of atmosphere, as well as great mountain ranges, variation in geography, and other features prevent an utterly clear view at any given moment. Still, it is said that in certain great mountain ranges, ancient scholars and mages have been known to set up optical observatories with which they can study the entire world, given a high enough vantage point and strong enough telescopic lensing.

   In the heavens, Lingusia is circled by a number of celestial objects, serving as navigational aids. The sun travels the sky in a traditional day’s length, but its orbit is in a permanent flux, as it rolls seasonally along latitudinal lines in the sky over time to create the seasons. A single large orb looms in the night sky; future generations will know a second moon that forms when the god Poltrietie is born of the World Seed, but that deed has yet to come.
   Other navigational points in the sky include a medley of odd worlds such as Astrophikus, Hyskortius the Winking Eye, the shimmering Haze, and the constellations of the stars. The stars are believed by men to be portals in to the celestial realms, and for all anyone knows, they might be right.

The Empire Era
   During the year of 1,744 aw the first king of the royal line of Usyllyses took the throne of the Empire and began a long period of stable rule. The Hyrkanian Empire prospered under this royal house until the time of Usyllyses III, who was fated to oversee the empire during the resurrection of the dark immortal Xaraun Vestillios. It is in this era, dawning in 1,927 aw when Usyllyses III took the throne in the Emerald Palace, that the Age of Strife and Prophecy is said to have begun. Some might suggest Usyllyses III was born under the sign of ill omen, and many believe it, but no book outlined whatever curse or doom may have been foretold by his rise to power.
   Anander Usyllyes the Third was the eldest son of his father, who had ruled for eighty years and born many children, but only one son. He was only twenty when he took the throne after his father’s passing, and his two eldest sisters acted as steward-regents for two years until Usyllyses took his first wife, Icarda of Kymir. Icarda herself was said to be cursed, for it was revealed in time that she was barren, and she died of a lingering illness ten years later.
   Usyllyses, who had adventured much in his youth, was close friends with the King Pheranaxos of the elvish empire of Sylvias in the south, long-time allies of men. On a diplomatic visit after his wife’s death, Pheranaxos gifted the Emperor with a daughter, the young girl Phyxillus, to become Phyxillus Usyllyses. The act was considered unorthodox among the elves, to allow a human to raise an elven child, but Pheranaxos was grieved by the troubles his friend had gone through in failing to raise a family, and felt it was the least he could do. Phyxillus was the youngest daughter of the elvish king, but some suspected she was not truly his, and thus the reason she was given as a gift. The mystery of Phyxillus’s true parentage—assuming there were any mystery at all—remained unresolved to the conspirators of that day.
   Usyllyses raised Phyxillus as his own daughter and proclaimed that unless he found a means to a son, he would make her Empress on his passing. This caused no end of controversy within the Empire, but the wiles of Usyllyses’s beautiful adopted elven daughter were enough to charm even the most vitriolic political antagonists. Phyxillus grew up and became a charming woman of an apparent 18 years by the year 1960 aw. She was in fact already nearly 60 years of age, as elven children aged much more slowly than human children did, and she was 37 human years of age when she was adopted.
   Despite her charm and political savvy, Phyxillus and her father found that many were opposed to the idea of a near-immortal Empress on the throne, for it was certain to cause a great deal of conflict amongst many noble families in Hyrkania who secretly hoped that an end to the line of Usyllyses meant that the royal genaological charts would favor their families in establishing a proper heir to the throne, one which was a trueborn Hyrkanian, and not an elf. This strife was only exacerbated by a movement in Southern Hyrkania, spawned from a new cult that was growing out of the depths of Old Galonia in Galvonar. The so called “Cult of the Red Robes” espoused the worship of gods that had not been spoken of in public places for centuries, such as Dalroth, Slithotep and even Orcus. As these cults spread throughout the south, the political dissidents also grew in power.
   Elsewhere, along the borders of Hyrkania in the wilderlands of the Jungles of Amech, the windy deserts of central Hyrkania and the remote vastness of Mitra’s Forests, evil began to stir. The orcs of old had long been subjected to persecution and conflict at the hands of man. The Empire would not tolerate the presence of monstrous humanoids in its borders. In the deep caverns and remote wilderlands these orcs and other monsters were growing in power, feeling the call of darkness as a long unheard call from the Chaos Gods began to sound anew. The power of the dark was growing once more, and perhaps this time nothing could stop it…
   Now, the time is 1,958 aw. Usyllyses grows old, but his own Empire is restless with his choice of successor, and bandits have recently kidnapped Phyxillus for ransom, though some suspect dire machinations by political rivals. The monsters of the untamed wilderness are growing bold, and seem to feel that there is a great leader offering them a powerful sense of unity. Oracles of the Emperor are predicting dark omens, and speak of a terrible darkness that is about to descend upon the land.

Highlights of the Empire Era Campaign:
   This era of Lingusia is the seminal “original campaign” of the world. It features three themes, centered around the time beginning from before 1,958 aw through 1,980 aw, during which the ancient immortal champion of chaos, Xauraun Vestillios, once more rises to power and seeks to unite the chaoskin under the banner of his dark gods, to squelch the dominance of order over men and the other fair kindred. It also deals with the rise of the new avatars, both those known in history already (Wormie, Gilrad, Bard, Selene and others) and those who have been lost to history. Finally, it deals with the adventures of heroes unknown in an era when Hyrkania was still a strong Empire, yet to be torn apart by internal strife and devilry, a time when the dominions of the Middle Kingdoms were at their strongest, but yet were most threatened by an evil no longer willing to sit in darkness, quiescent and brooding.
   This campaign guide and gazetteer will offer everything needed to run adventures in this period in the Middle Kingdoms, including a gazetteer guide, overview of events, key villains and plot points, and rules on how to become an avatar. It is meant to serve as a companion piece to the other two world guides to Lingusia, the Keepers of Lingusia (detailing the old alternate history of the world through the era of the Cataclysm) and the Warlords of Lingusia (detailing the world in 3,500 aw after the great warming of the Deluge).
   To use this module you will need nothing other than your 4E rulebooks and this campaign guide. If you use the Warlords of Lingusia with this, you can employ the many character races and additional options available there in this setting if you desire, as well (such as satyrs, faeries, ogres and other new player races outlined in WoL). The gazetteer assumes that you will be principally using core rule material, and so focuses on how the classes and races of 4E work in this particular era of Lingusia’s history.

Mytho-Historical Introduction to Lingusia
   Lingusia is an ancient realm, with a wide range of cultures stretched out over three known continents and three more undiscovered. The center of exploration, discovery and adventure can be found within the Middle Kingdoms, located along a lengthy southern stretch of the north-central continent.
   Geographically Lingusia is a flat world. The horizon on Lingusia is obscured primarily by distance and the occlusion of air and dust; one can see on the horizon just as far as the world will allow. Indeed, a visitor from another plane will find the strange horizon of Lingusia and its vast depth and hinted mysteries to be relatively difficult to process.
   While most natives believe the gods long ago created the world to be a vast flatland out of magic, it is not entirely clear that this is the case. Stories of ancient metal tunnels running in the deepest levels of the world support the notion that Lingusia is somehow a construct, an impressively vast engineered domain, built and managed by hidden forces that may have been implemented by the gods long ago, but which function efficiently and independently to this day.
   Lingusia’s historians in the Middle Kingdoms divide the history of the world up in to a series of “ages,” of which there are presently three, and the historians believe that the current time falls somewhere squarely in the middle of the third age.
   The first age, the time of the gods, is defined by the earliest period in Lingusia’s history and begins with or shortly after its creation. There are many various myth tales about the origin of the world, but in the Middle Kingdoms the most widely accepted story of the world’s creation revolves around the primarl chaos, called Mala’kor, and how it spat out two entities, being Ga’thika (life) and T’kothos (death). It was with the creation of these fundamental entities that the universe sprang in to existence.
   The mythology of the Middle Kingdoms is recorded in a series of legendary texts, called the Idean Codices (each book being a codex in style of binding and format). The Idean Codices are ancient, and the oldest tomes are said to have been written before humans had even been created. Historians believe that the oldest period on record discussed in the first tomes goes back 80,000 years or more. There are always, of course, dissenters, and some scholars contend that the eons before man came in to being are countless and that the world itself may be millions or even billions of years old.
   The myth tales of this first age tell of how the two primal forces came in to sentience, and from this rose a need to create. The entities that were called Gathika and T’Kothos bonded, creating the universe as it was known. Malakor, a whirling maelstrom of destruction in the far realms of existence had always been sentient in some manner, and sought to destroy them, first sending a series of ancient offspring, the primal harbingers of nonexistence to annihilate the realm of ordered existence that were comprised of the anima of life and death.
   These first beings of destruction were the original Gods of Chaos, according to the only codex that speaks of them, the Calydarin Codex. Called the Skaeddrath in the primal language of the first gods, the two forces of creation sought to protect themselves, and in so doing created their own protectors, the elder gods. The elder gods were the first beings, sometimes called Titans or Primordials, though the few still known to exist in the present are identified by the somewhat more benevolent title of The Mysteries.
    The old gods fought and defeated the Skaeddrath, though they could not destroy these cosmic beings of such power and might. Instead, seeking to preserve the young universe they were charged with protecting the Mysteries locked the Skaeddrath away, constructing a vast prison in to which the twelve Chaos Gods were forever sealed within. This prison was a vast planar domain, forged from the primordial substance of Gathika and imbued with order and life. A vast Engine of Creation at its center was forged, drawing upon the power of the magnificient cosmos to wrap the Skaeddrath in eldritch chains for an eternity. This immense construction became the world of Lingusia, a primordial prison for the seeds of cosmic destruction.
   Ultimately the Mysteries were left as all-powerful prison-keepers, dedicated to their mysterious task. It is said that each of these old gods in time either moved on to dimensions unknown, or that they eventually faded in to nonexistence. A handful are said to still exist, such as Aurumurvox and Damortus, and that these strange powers care for unknown cosmic secrets that hold the key to the era of some future apocalypse which they will, when the time is right, seek to avert. In the place of these gods were spawned a new lot, known then as the Younger Gods, and it is these beings that humanity now worships.
   Most of this most ancient lore is regarded as heretical, and is rarely spoken of. Indeed, in the Church of Naril the entire tome of the Calydarin Codex is regarded as pure heresy and to utter any stanza or verse from its pages is punishable by death. The most common beliefs of creation begin with the oldest Idean Codex known to have been written by men, called the Yankari Codex. Here, writing in what is believed to be the first language of men, the ancient priest Yankari spoke of man’s rise to power in the wake of a great cataclysm, one in which the gods, long serving as benevolent caretakers of the world, had been betrayed by their first creation, a prehuman race of sorcerers called Prehunates. The Prehunates were the first creations of the gods, and imbued with a spark of potent magic, enough so that in the thousands of years they ruled and evolved, they gre contemptuous of their creators, and eventually sought to usurp control of the world from them. The gods cast the Prehunates down in a destructive cataclysm, destroying the entire civilization of these aspiring immortal sorcerers overnight, killing most all of them save for a few lucky ones.
   In the wake of the collapse of Prehunate civilization many lesser races, regarded until then by the gods and Prehunates as slaves and animals, were given leave to rise up and become civilized. Humans, elves, dwarves, Halflings, orcs and other races at last found their hour of ascension. Man was now the inheritor of the world, and the gods served as his remote overseers and tutors.
   This era of man’s rise marks the beginning of the second age in most historical texts. The dawn of humanity was a long and complex period lasting at least eight thousand years, during which humans spread from the cradle of civilization in the once lush fertile lands of central Hyrkania outward, to the many corners of the world. No concise historical perspective can account for the full diversity or expansion of man, however, and no two historians agree on how it came about. Most scholars of the Middle Kingdoms believe that the Hyrkanian Desert was once a lush and fertile land, and that it was the wellspring of ancient civilization, but most other kingdoms throughout the world prefer to imagine that they, in turn, were the center from which all learned culture sprang.
   Myth tales during this period suggest that the gods had many tales and adventures. The pantheon of gods was divided, it is told, between those who sought to care for and nurture the world, and those who sought to destroy it and remake it in their own desired image. In time the pantheon was divided between those gods who professed a love for the power of ancient chaos, and those who sought to maintain the embodiment of order in the life-death-rebirth cycle of existence. It is said that during this time many battles were fought in the heavens, but it was not until humanity and the other races had grown noticeably powerful that the divinities took notice of their followers and sought then to involve them in this ancient conflict.
   The heretics of the Calydarin Codex have their take on the mythology during this period, as well. They claim that the younger gods were initially united, but that a handful of them spent too much time studying the ancient power of the Skaeddrath, and grew transfixed by the power of these primordial destroyers. They sought to steal power from the imprisoned cosmic destroyers, to siphon it off for their own ends. This power drove such gods mad, including Dalroth, Slithotep, Baragnagor, Bekphegor, Kathak and others. It was this desire for power that led to the schism between the patheon, and the formation of a pantheon of order and a pantheon of chaos. The heretics of the Calydarin Codex even go so far as to suggest that it could have been this very corruption of chaos that drove the first men, the prehunates, mad with power, such that they dared to challenge the gods.
   The long-standing conflict between the pantheons of chaos and order eventually erupted in to the mortal world, when after untold eons of celestial conflict the gods sought to resolve their issues in the flesh, upon the very soil of the world. For as long as humanity had existed there was a splendrous city of wonders, the seat of the many thrones of the gods called Corti’Zahn, in the Fertile Lands of Hyrkania. Here, the gods took on physical aspect and would interact with chosen mortals while enjoying the delights of the physical plane. Approximately two thousand years ago, the gods of chaos sought to sieze control of this great city after they had been forcibly exiled centuries earlier, banned from the mortal realm. This led, ultimately, to a year long war of destruction that decimated the Fertile Lands and shattered the city itself, destroying its ancient power and rendering it useless to both sides of the conflict.
   The chaos gods had sculpted an ancient army, forging a vast realm of darkness between the fathomless deeps of infinite planar space called the Abyss. The Abyssal realm was seeded with terrifying beings called demons, known as devonin in the Old Tongue. They called upon this army to craft an immense bridge, a great planar portal that tethered the Abyss to the mortal plane, and launched an attack upon Corti’Zahn. The gods of order called upon their celestial armies and mortal followers for defense, but it was a war of total destruction and utter attrition. After a year, the portal was sealed, but a great many deities’ aspects perished, and some gods were even utterly destroyed, consigned to oblivion. Innumerable demonic, angelic and mortal followers in the vast armies were snuffed out of existence, and the war ended when both forces had exhausted their armies and their energies. A truce of sorts was called. So began the Third Age.
   The ancient empires of man arose from the ashes, and Hyrkania became the strongest and most ancient of human dominions, lasting right up to the present. Most of the modern kingdoms and cultures of the present rose during this period out of the ashes of older empires now extinct. In the Middle Kingdoms all of the kingdoms of man as well as Hyrkania itself grew out of the period after the so-called War of the Gods, and only Old Galonia can rival Hyrkania for sheer age and antiquity, having been around as a ruling kingdom for more than four thousand years, according to their own boastful historians.

Timeline of the Warlords Era

The Time Before Man
(more than 75,000 years ago)
   In the prehistory of man you find the mysteries of the oldest legends of the gods, including the formation of the world and the invasion of the Skaeddrath, the foggy pre-pantheistic primordial mysteries and the rise of the younger gods. Much of this mysterious history has already been discussed in the introductory chapter, but it suffices to say this this ancient period reflects the time before all modern men and their curiously uninformed beliefs.

The Rise and Fall of the Prehunates
(75,000 BW – 10,000 BW)
   During this ancient era, the prehunate civilization arose. The details are murky, but it is clear that this was an ancient prehuman race of beings that were the favored children of the gods, sent to grow and prosper in the world.
   The prehunates were human-like, though their affinity for the divine was unique, and all of their kind were gifted with potent sorcery. It was inevitable that they would advance in power and lore, and that their people, at first idealistic philosophers and egalitarians would eventually come to crave more. In time, they advanced to great power, and built a terribly wonderful ancient civilization centered around their potent sorcery and the divine gifts the gods granted them. They discovered and explored the planar realms, leaving many ancient cities and structures in their wake to impress those who would find them eons later. Some say that they even discovered or created the Weirding, and drew from it the elves and feykin as servants. And at last, a handful of prehunates discovered the true secrets of the universe, and the center point of creation, the cosmic balance of order and chaos.
   It was this discovery that led some prehunates to rise up and seek true godhood, to supplant their creators. The prehunates who sought such rebellion included Diannysos, who was said to have destroyed a world with her power, and to have been imprisoned by her own people for the act. Eskandar the malign, suffused with his narcotic appreciation of the Dreamlands of Ethenur, seized such power and captured the minds of his kin so hypnotically that at last the prehunates were perceived as a true threat to the gods.
   Perhaps the gods had sought to nurture the prehunates in to a race that was suited to the task of ascending to godhood, and perhaps they simply underestimated the power granted to their subjects. No matter what the gods intended, it was ultimately their task to destroy the children who sought to steal their power and destroy them.
   The cataclysm that destroyed the prehunates happened 13,500 years ago by the reckoning of those ancient scholars who wrote of it in the surviving Idean Codices. In one day the entire civilization of the prehunates was destroyed, and their lands submerged beneath the oceans, engulfed in lava, or pulverized with divine might. The vast and ancient Amechian Basin was said to have been created in the wake of this, and the immense Rift of Tragonor was the diving line, showing how the very earth of Lingusia had been submerged more than a mile; this subcontinental basin dropped precipitously below sea level, and many thousands of years later, this would lead to the time of the Deluge around 2,500 aw.
   In the wake of the prehunate destruction a small, pitiful species of Neolithic barbarians named man found a great void to be filled. Humans rose up, and filled that void over the next several thousand years, developing the rudiments of culture, writing, and civilization. The first such civilization appeared in the region of the Nyarlith river delta and was the foundation of the long-lasting Hyrkanian Empire. Its first recorded king was Kolhyrykan, still regarded as the greatest of all kings by most men.

The First Empire and the War of the Gods
(2,100 bw – 499 aw)
   Hyrkania’s first great dynasty was identified from the first recorded list of kingship. These tablets identified the Usylian Dynasty, which claimed direct descent from the fabled founding king, Kolhyrykan. From this dynasty sprang several more, during which a vast region from Belladas to the southern coast was united in a loose affiliation of provinces.
   While the Hyrkanians were expanding their empire, other regions were advancing as well. The ancient empire of Galonia arose from the lesser kingdoms of men in Galvonar, and its own dynasty of ancient self-proclaimed god kings arose, with their vast monuments and tombs. The elves, who dominated the great forests of the Middle Kingdoms and especially Silvias, dealt with a hundred year invasion of the orcs, who arose from the darkness of the underworld to seek out new lands on the surface. This conflict lasted from 970-800 bw and was a monumental point in elvish history, as well as the time when much of the bitterness toward the monstrous demihumans was fostered by the fey. The elves grew to mistrust the dwarves during this time. The dwarves looked to their own defenses and failed to uphold an alliance with the elves. In later years even the Shilnavillin tribe of elves became corrupted by the darkness brought by the orcs, as they took to chaos worship and descended in to the earth, to eventually become the asharth.
   This period marks a great era of monument building and optimistic development. The legendary Great Old Road that once stretched from the western to eastern coasts of Lingusia was constructed, and though the road was immersed during the deluge by the Amechain Sea, it’s westernmost and easternmost portions remain to this day, used and maintained by overland caravans and inland cities.
   The last old dynasty ruler was emperor Shakytis of the Fertile Empire of Hyrkania, who rose to power in 13 bw. It was under his rule that mankind experienced the second legacy of the ancient gods, a great war between celestial and infernal beings fought on mortal soil. The war began in 1 bw, and concluded after only one year, but it left the Middle Kingdoms a ruin, from which mankind rose to rebuild, and the Hyrkanians, ever a vigilant people, once again forged a new empire from.
   This War of the Gods was ostensibly predicted by a series of prophecies related to the sacred Orbs. The Orb of Chaos allegedly fell in to the hand of an aspiring sorcerer named Xauraun, a nobleman of Hyrkania some decades earlier who was granted great power and immortality by the device. The ancient feud between the forces of chaos and order was ignited when Xauraun learned of the means to open a rift in to the very Abyss itself, a nine-layered planar realm in which the abyssal demons waited patiently, a vast and infinite army in the service of the chaos gods. Once opened, this rift, which appeared north-east near the Angharak Mountains, unleashed a devastating horde that swept across the land to sack and pillage the sacred city of the gods, Corti’Zahn, located in the heart of the Fertile Empire, south of the Throne Mountains. 
   The gods, who existed in this era in physical form according the the Idean Codices, mounted a defense of their loyal seraphim, and even the evil gods of order called upon their infernal minions the devils to defend their sacred city, which had been revered as a cosmic monument and physical proof of their power to the mortals of the land who dwelt around it in seeming safety and comfort.
   In one year, the lands of the Fertile Empire were laid to waste and to this very day are the harsh Hyrkanian Deserts in which nothing save the heartiest weeds can grow. The Throne Mountains were rendered a haunted wasteland of the dead and riddled with errant demons. The Hyrkanian Empire was laid low, though in later decades it recovered and once again prospered. Corti’Zahn itself became a necropolis of the dead, where hundreds of thousands of celestial and abyssal soldiers died, and countless mortals who came to the defense of the gods were slain. It is unknown how many gods were slain in physical form on that day, but most of the old pantheon lost their corporeal aspects, though most dedicated followers were assured in dreams and visions that their immortal souls yet lived on in the celestial kingdoms. The gods thereafter forged a pact on all sides that they would never again cause such destruction so willingly in the mortal realm, and in this pact it was agreed that the gods would only act indirectly through mortal agents. These agents, called Chosen Ones, were later identified as avatars of the gods, and were granted special artifacts and boons in exchange for their duties to the gods.
   The Orb of Chaos disappeared not long after the war ended, as the first avatar of order was Warenis, a powerful mage charged with the task of slaying Xauraun, using the Orb of Life to seal the Abyssal rift, and spiriting the Orb of Chaos away. It would not resurface for 2,100 years. Warenis, as it turned out, was rendered an eternal soul like his counterpart Vestillios; they were both destined to reincarnate in future forms, to serve the will of the gods as the first of the Chosen Avatars.
   One year after the war, a new emperor rises to lead Hyrkania to reunite and rebuild named Catythytas. He founds the Temple of Naril, the lord of the sun, and the order of the Solarian Knights is born. From then on, Hyrkania struggled for over a century at recovery, as various contenders to the throne arise and seek to usurp the dynastic line in its rule. The strife that seems to riddle the world is atrtributed by some to residual after-effects of so much chaos flooding the land during the great war. During this time, in 65 aw the emperor Kravorstys arises, and he constructs a great monument from relic materials of Corti’Zahn, the fabled Emerald Palace of Hyrkan’ien, the capitol.
   Hyrkania grows once again right up until around 450 aw, during which the Lelos Dynasty begins, and a new succession war arises. Not long after, house Vestillios gains control of the empire after overthrowing Abernan Usyllyses-Lelan II. The first emperor to gain control of the emerald throne is the reborn soul of Xauraun. It is with this reincarnation that Xauraun discovers he can use certain ritual magics to unlock his memories, and restore his knowledge of past lives. During his reign, he cements his power, develops a secret police and founds the cabal of the Red Robes to develop a new cult of chaos to once again fulfill his destiny.

The Age of Expansion (500 – 1,400)
   Hyrkania descends in to a new era of chaos and insurrection as the wars of religion lead to mass persecutions and the exile of many more. Under the crippling rule of emperor Vestillios, religious dissidents to important to execute but to dangerous to leave free are shipped to the distant colony of Noenday in the western shores of the Western Wilderness. By 513 aw Octzel Venn Ta, a priest of Enki, is shipped to the Noenday penal colony, which leads to the inevitable founding of that future kingdom. The wars are at last ended when Vestillios is deposed, after the reincarnation of Warenis arises and exposes the emperor as an avatar of chaos. Unfortunately this is not the last of such conflicts, as two more major religious civil wars happen in the next two centuries, lasting decades, all as a resultof the seeds sewn by Xauraun Vestillios. It is not until the coronation in 700 aw of empress Syrradalis I, a woman of half-elven blood, that unity in the lands is at last cemented once more.
   Meanwhile in 553 aw Octzel formally cecedes and engages ina  vicious but short naval conflict to enforce its independence, during which the elder Venn Ta is killed in an accident. By 713 aw king Donn-Dadera rises to power, and begins construction of the palace in the  capitol city of Octzel, christened after the man who led them all to freedom. Donn-Dadera is a cultist of Slithotep, and this has a lasting influence on the architecture of the palace, and sometimes of its inhabitants’ mental conditions for centuries to come. Dadera is responsible for the cabal of the Hagarant Lords during this time, warlocks seeking to usurp the religious freedoms of Octzel in the name of Slithotep. Their bid for power is thwarted not long after Dadera’s death, in which the Hagarant coup is put down in a brief civil war.
   For much of the remainder of this period the Middle Kingdoms are a land of conflict and expansion, as the various established powers cement their long-term hold, establish distinct cultural norms apart from one another, and grow to fill the seams of the vast region they inhabit, slowly but surely driving back the monstrous denizens that lurk in the uninhabited lands around. By 1,400 Octzel has grown to encompass the largest territory it will ever hold, as has Hyrkania and Galonia in the south. Elsewhere in the world many other kingdoms rise and topple in this time, but the remainder of this period is distinct for the expansionism of the the Middle Kingdoms.

The Age of New Empires (1,400 - 1,900)
   During this period, many famous personalities come to power and make their mark upon the land. The decadent reign of Gremna-Lubidosi in Octzel leads to several decades of wasteful spending and cultural distortion. In the wilderness, the vampiric serpent man Karukithyak threatens all, but is at last believed to be slain and entombed in 1,500, not to awaken again until 1,950. In Hyrkania, though still united as an empire, the people are clearly dividing in to two cultural groups, being the southern and northern Hyrkanians. In New Galonia, the dynasty of Pillater II rises, and a new cultural and religious revolution with it. This schism in culture leads eventually to the founding of Persedonia on the eastern coast of Galvonar under the reign of the dissident Galonian prince Cartoseon.
   Hyrkania experiences a high turn-over in emperors during this period until the third dynasty fo house Usyllyses is established, during which a lengthy period of peace ensues, and the empire itself can once again turn to focus on its neighbors instead of its own internal squabbles.
   By the end of this era, The Rule of the Twelve begins in southern Galvonar, during which the entire region is united under the dark cabal that, once again, is revealed to be a puppet front for the actions of a reincarnated Xauraun Vestillios. Meanwhile, in the stretch of land between Galvonar and Octzel, the smaller Middle Kingdoms of Jhakn and Takonor form for the first time in a region regarded as largely worthless by the larger kingdoms.

The Future  (1,900 onward)
   By 1,900 aw the Middle Kingdoms were taking a face and form that looked very much like it would for centuries to come. In 1,927 aw Anander Usyllyses III was coronated in Hyrkania. He forged an alliance with the forest kingdom of the Silver Elves, and the elvish King Pheranaxos, who had adventured with Usyllyses in his younger years granted custody of his youngest daughter to the human king for reasons unknown, though rumors among the silver elves suggested that an old pact with the seelie of the Weirding Realm required that the elvish king pay a price for a past indiscretion before the Faerie Queen. This proved a great boon for Usyllyses for he had failed to have a child with his late wife Ecartha who could not bear children, and so he raised the young elf named Phyxillus as his own daughter. This put Phyxillus as the first true blood non-human heir to the throne of the empire.
   In 1,930 war broke out between the small kingdoms of Jhakn and Takonor, based on a long-standing conflict and accusations of demon worship in Takonor. By 1,945 the war concludes with the sacking and pillaging of Takonor’s capitol, which is razed to the ground and left in ruins; Takonor’s people are  a hardy lot and quickly rebuild and repopulate the city and environs.
   Between 1,960-1,962 Xauraun's latest reincarnation comes into power in Southern Hyrkania, and with the forces of the Black Tower he waged war against Hyrkania. His army is a mixture of dedicated chaos cultists of the Nihilist cults, as well as endless hordes of orcs and other monsters of the underworld. The threat he poses is so vast that for the first time in centuries, avatars are picked by the gods to aid the champion of order Warenis to defeat Xauraun. From this era come legendary heroes who would one day become gods and legends themselves, including Wormie Vellsoth. Gilrad, Phyxillus, Selene, and others. The campaign against Xauraun lasts three years, but leads ultimately to his defeat, as well as the closure of a new Abyssal rift which he attempted to open.
   From 1,963-1,968 this Company of new avatars explored the Middle Kingdoms. Wormi Vellsoth founded the Black Lotus Guild in Octzel and became embroiled in local politics and skullduggery, including many conflicts with the wizards of the Twelve Quirak and Macabeth (both of which ended up dead). Gilrad wedded Phyxillus Usyllyses and together they came to rule Hyrkania, eventually bearing a son named Aroth, who would prove to be a decided less effective ruler in later years. Despite them being two foreigners, one of whom was non-human on the throne, Hyrkania embraced these distinct heroes as their leaders.

   Much more has been documented to come, but all matters not, for it is distinctly possible in this era that history could go any number of ways…

 Next: A Short Gazetteer of the Ages Era

 All text copyright 2011 by Nicholas Torbin Bergquist, all rights reserved

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