PREVIEW Part Two
This second Part of the Christmas Update Preview is simple enough to understand. After the First gave you an idea of what the thing was about, and gave map shots from within a game. Danny X is the mapper, and it's great he wanted to share his (very) hard work with you. All of that takes space and viewing-download time. So we thought we'd make a second part.
THE WORLD AS IT STANDS
In the dark, in the Abyss, Hungry Eyes watch with struggling indifference. Nothing shines in here, nothing imagines or doubts, and anything without doubt, without remorse, is frightening beyond understanding. Eyes fix on the Egg of a Celestial Dragon, feel the pulse in it's developing body, sees the flare of it's thoughts, vast energies running from nerve to nerve, it's force deluging the surface with the power of Ley. This is, to the creatures that exist, symbiotes, parasites, predators, is 'magic', sustaining the life of the creatures that live upon it's form, the pitiful life forms that struggle so vainly, yet so importantly, in their own sentience.
They possess a knowledge and being that cannot, in the main, see beyond daily needs or wants, yet is filled with fate and undeniable effect. Some are selfish, some selfless; some are parasites, some have a symbiotic duty and some are just filled with unending hatred. On a thousand worlds, a thousand Dragons, there is nothing of the randomness of life on this Dragon, and it's life is of celestial importance, as it carries weight as the strongest of this Mother Sun's brood, a rarity - not limited to the being of a single colour, it develops many at once, and it's siring of any brood promises strength for Reality to bind the Abyss ever more tightly.
Uncounted years have passed since the world began. In this time, many have emerged; the Elohim awoke the Elves, Rhysthari were of the Avatars' creation, for the Avatars were always there, the last of the Child's potency in one breathless, dying, dream. The Celesti tore the Khezdruli, the Dwarves, from their slumber, leaving them 'unfinished', diminutive, filled with the 'Hunger' - after came humans, parasites, then, so much later, the Naugiri broke their duty below and emerged onto the surface, there to fall upon humanity like an avenging flood of unknowing slaughter.
The world stands at the greatest height of imbalance that could be tolerated, the races and cultures upon it's scales, the world's surface, set as puppets without string, ready to fall upon each of the others with naive violence. The Empire stands strong, but it's strength is constantly tested. There has been little respite for the people of this fount for Good. Striding across twin continents, it has the ability to once more turn aside madness, yet it is also ripe to fall. The Kingdom of the Salient Sun stands like a child that has just lost it's guidance, a power for good, yet a power for others to tear down. The Haladin summon powers they do not understand, drawing spirits from the Abyss, sealing them in objects that give power, yet also bringing madness, exerting dominance over the user. They have used the Bloodfed magic, and the Cthonae wait for their foolishness to invite them freely into their world, as has begun. Naugiri, the Diluvian host, Orcs, mass to finish the Iryn Thaan, a people who have retreated as far as they can and array what they have in a last-ditch defense - yet they also face the Empire, face the Haladin, and the Sun King. Whether these peoples deny the Naugiri or stand separated, alone, will determine much, as a halting of the Naugiri flood would staunch one of the greatest wounds to the Dragon's hope.
Wolfborn prowl the seas, Godslayers, killers, raiders, their far-ranging ships burning and looting, their own nature forcing this life, however happy they may be to be so. The armies of Ahsapur are strong, their wealth and society built upon slavery and murder. Beyond their borders, the Bandit Kingdom is a beacon of hope and light, for they hold the noblest ideals and alone they may save much of the world from a darker fate, for they summoned Solace, the Ephemeral City, unknowingly, and it's purpose is of the greatest of man.
The kingdoms of man stand tall, or stoop low, and the west continues their path of pain, for here stands greater possibility for good or ill. The Federation strides both continents, bitterly opposed to the Empire, but they are threatened on all fronts in the west. They failed to kill Ilien, their greatest general, a woman devoid of deception and cruelty, and she stands against them, another Hope for the world. The Ghaurchlai, long imprisoned beneath the ice of Cara Hapa, are awoken, led by the creature the humans call Descati. The Chitkinnen emerge in their far western borders, and they look ripe to fall to anyone with any wisdom or vision. Where the Ghaurchlai will go next is unknown. The Empire stands strong, but Nehemia is on the verge of rebellion, Ilien is not their friend, and Descati desires the death of all that lives.
In the more northerly parts of the west, the warriors of Cho Tetsu ready to spend their lives in a new war with the Principality of Steel, who are fragmenting internally by the day. In their northern provinces, the Fennweyr, the Druids are ready to call their people to war, as the Prince's Only Church advisers make no secret of their desire to purge the entirety of their Heaths, bogs and moors, much as they do in the East, where they stand as executioners to the Lake Kingdom, Lian Elune. Around the world, the other races are arming, coming out of a detachment from the world, centuries long. They are hastily preparing for conflict and death, as they see the truth behind many foes, a truth humans cannot see. The Selediri and Ildiri Elves stand ready, the Lindiri less so, but they know their foes. The Ispir Folk...the lizards of the Rhystari now reach their deeper magic into the swamps, and draw upon the beasts that lurk within. They are ready for war for the first time for 10,000 years. Their power is utterly unknown, but their magic is the most extraordinary. Old legends speak of the sky changing colour, of entire legions of troops dying in mere minutes. Soon, the reality of whether they still wield such power will be tested. The race that felt their ire in open war, the Khezdruli, have amassed such might as to destroy any single nation with ease, yet they are fragmented, three kingdoms, and if they are struck quickly, they may wither just as much as any other.
FACTIONAL UNITS and
Please note that some stuff is omitted due to later plans. There are some slightly rushed, so slight errors. The shiny units are dampened, jut these pics were taken before that. Also, there is battlefield magic galore, but I will show one video only. Finlander is making use of this for you! One small thing now:
Spoiler Alert, click show to read:
Spoiler Alert, click show to read:
So, ignore any errors for now and be nice
Ashapur - Pavishate of the Silken Knot
The people of Ashapur fall into many categories; there are those who are slaves, who are unworthy of the air they breathe, if that is what their master wishes. The streets have an underworld; no free-born Ashapuri will become a slave. Rather, they face execution. They live in the cities in narrow streets, swathed in silks that would seem to show some facet of wealth, but there are Houses at work here, and none stand aside from this vital feudal system. A Beggar will still work for a Padishar or one of his 'Paid Men' (Feudal Vassals). These Houses run everything, know everything. They may value a man of the street more than their own son, but the entire society is built on a veil of obscuring silks, a thin veil of decency perhaps, of being above scrutiny and openly welcoming. Instead, you are watched by many eyes, your life is valued, and the likelihood is that you will die young...to the poison, garrotte or dagger of any one of a thousand foes, known or unknown. When you are invited to drink rose-water, you drink it, as this may guarantee your life for the next few hours. Asked to break bread in the morning, you may live. Asked to kill your brother to show your loyalty...one of you only will live.
History of Ashapur Settle, children – we’re in an oasis now. There’s nothing to fear here. No great man is here to make demands, no law beyond the law of your own moral code, and no thirst to dry your mouth with sand. You’re amongst the finest of men, the Keir Hedrin, swallows of the desert, our honour as merciless as the sandstorm, but as gentle as the soft sand under the waters of this little paradise.
Hear the tale of Ashapur, the land of the Silken Knot, land of slaves and masters, yet a land of honour and love. The most complex and, at times, merciless land in the known world, reminiscent of the shifting sands that make up all lands away from the coast.
Ruled from a city of a million souls, Ashapur came from a slavery of its’ own. Yes, once we were but slaves of the Empire. We were warring clans, disunited, easily conquered by the rising star Valerien, and we fell as ripe grain to his first legions. During the Ghaur war, our people were slaughtered in their beds, for he took the cream of our menfolk to defend His Empire, not US!
In the time of the Ghaur we formed a society in secret, and waited for the war to end.
End it did, although much of our nation lay dead at Saden Fields. The Ghaur were broken and entombed, and our men returned. We trained in secret, armed secretly and traded for favours with other dissidents. Many mercenaries came to settle and we hid their hire behind this lie.
In the Dark, we unified clans, and the first Pavashars plotted murder. By the time we were ready, several betrayers had already joined the waters with theirs, and our plot was safe.
Then the strangest thing happened. The merchants bought a part of the Empire, and the Federation, now our closest ally, was formed. In many ways, they are like us, in other ways, I would spit on their stupid rules and Laws.
We waited ten more years, then, almost overnight, struck!
Garrisons were overrun, nobles assassinated and communications destroyed. All priests of the Only were flayed and Tsibi walked the night free. For a small loss, we seemed to achieved what years of planning had prepared for. We simply had to organise and prepare for the backlash. It didn’t come.
The boy emperor was dead. Died through poison, and we were blamed. They timed it to coincide with our rebellion, a day before the news reached great Kadasandra, the boy lay in death, and we were blamed!
It was later that the expected fight occurred. The citizens replaced the boy with a man, and he, Lorellas Vivain, was a warrior. Born to it, he led a massive army to destroy our newfound life, and we awaited the hammer blow. The numberless, Dog Soldiers and others were drafted. More mercenaries were hired, and we fielded an army equal to his in the East.
Then came the priests. They came to the Pavishars and whispered poison in their ears. Tsibi cried as she heard from her ears in the temples. For, out of the desert, the Avatars of the Serpent came, and many of the temple fighters from unknown places. For years they had lain in wait, and at last revealed themselves, these Sons of Sythys.
Our army now outnumbered the Imperial forces, but we were plagued by raw recruits, and the spectre of defeat hung over us.
The Imperials entered the eastern border, then marched directly on The City of Silk, and we barred the way. Our armies drew up facing each other, and bloodshed was certain.
The next day, we fought for the right to determine our own fate. The screams of the dying echoed in the still air, and many died on each side, but we had the serpents, and their fanatics wrought a dance of slaughter. The Imperial Guard were struck by the newly formed Hadakim regiment, and the battle was profound. Eventually the Imperial flank collapsed, and the Hadakim slew the Emperor. Beaten, the Imperials withdrew – to their credit, there was no rout, they simply left the field, and we let them, our numbers one fifth of those who started the day.
Over the next decades, our culture grew, and we built many wonders, but the snakes began to infiltrate our people, and became powerful. A new High Pavishar was brought into leadership, and proved an inspired choice. He, Sulamna, countered the priests, and built a massive temple to Tsibi, goddess of death, to counter their influence.
The battle had left Ashapur with reduced manpower, and the snakes suggested a course of action, which had been in place centuries before. We needed people to work what infrastructure we had, and the only way was to revert to the old ways: slavery was re-introduced, and the Hawk Masks, slavers, were reformed to achieve this end.
With a new and growing base, we began the climb to our modern state, and the country began to rise in power.
The Federation also climbed the rungs of power, and they launched an invasion from West to East. We stayed neutral, and watched as their ‘emancipation’ forces landed. The Empire advanced to fight, but the Federation had devised cunning tactics, and the Wolf-born in the south began a war of loot and plunder. To our northern borders, that bandits united under the ‘Beggar King’, and the Imperials fought on three fronts. They also fielded an army to watch us, but we were little threat, although the snakes pushed for war.
The Imperials fought hard, but had to split their forces. One army engaged the Federation, and made little headway, whilst other forces pushed the Wolf-Born out, and the bandits were forced into the mountains. By this time, however, the Federation had a stranglehold on the south, and the Emperor was forced to sue for peace, for the Empire was exhausted from constant struggle.
The High Pavishar, Akkabar, was to be our greatest leader, and took our people to greatness. The culture sank into intrigue and politics became enmeshed with the snakes. This made the game of the court deadly, and the nobles spent much of their time and interest in this game.
Our slaving took us into lands of disunited clans, and we enslaved many, but the deadliest, the Myr Addat fought off every incursion, and finally added their nation to the Empire’s shortened list of allies. They and the thirteenth legion became a thorn in our plans, and we still fight them now, with constant skirmishes and much bloodshed. For no apparent reason, the Empire took a dim view on slavery.
Ashapur now sits on it’s Zenith, and we have made pacts with the Bandits crushed by the Empire, and to the pirates of Hanghaven, to the west, who supply many of our desperate need for slaves. We even have dwarves working our forges.
The Silken Knot…yes, that what the cityfolk call it….a society so devious and complex that it appears twisted to those who try to understand. To unravel it, you need a thousand years in cultural evolution, and a mind fit for intrigue beyond that of any Imperial Court.
The Silken Knot The Silken Knot is a term used for Ahsapur's society. They're a desert culture on the Eastern continent, incredibly defensive and there's not been much evolution in their society over the entirety of it's existence.
Ashapur lies in a massive area of desert and arid surroundings. Incidentally, Selediri DO exist there, but they hide themselves completely, as they find the culture of the humans to be hideous to their own nature. Some are hunted,a nd some enslaved, as is the culture itself.
The Silken Knot is actually the preferred method of assassination used by the nobility - a scarf with a knot in it used as a garrotte to strangle the other nobles. It's considered 'clean' because no blood is pile and it requires skill to use, giving honour to the dead, as they're not marred beyond the damage to the throat....no severed heads or anything preventing true honours in an open-casket funeral, as some choose - others choose other methods; internment in a shrine to Tsibi or cremation are popular to novels. Burial in the open in not an option, save for slaves and the Nameless Dogs, or the lowest of society are called. Most of these 'burials' result in the corpses being spoiled by predators or the massive Ghuul Vultures.
Ashapur is a political mass that operates in a subtle game of death between noble houses. Discussions of politics are rarely held face-to-face, but between silken sheets that obscure the view, however easy it is to know the voice speaking. Most nobles wear veils and masks in public. Often, this foils assassination in public, as most nobles send out decoys and empty palanquins, but most dare not send assassins in public, and night is their preferred time.
In the past, assassinations were also limited by the prevalence of the Tsibi CUlt, as the goddess of Death is not fond of people taking it upon themselves to be paid killers - Death is natural or bought through warfare, where people are all too aware they may die, and are prepared for it - somehow, unexpected death upsets her, and her Temple Guard are renowned for their constant hunt for assassins. Many of the lesser organisations have been annihilated by her temples.
Since the emergence of the Sythys Cult, her prevalence has been endlessly challenged in Ashapur, and her power to limit the activities of assassins is lessened, especially since the Sythys Cult offers this service as expert poisoners and suchlike. It brings in high levels of funding, but has the same effect as duelling did for European cultures on Earth.
At the height of Ashapuran society is the Pavishate - the Pavishar is the utter head of their nation, and is inviolate where assassins are concerned - it HAS happened, but, when it has failed, entire noble houses have been exterminated as a result, in public, by slaves, who relish their revenge a great deal. Remarkably unpleasant and a decent deterrant.
Below him are the Padishars, the 'lesser' nobles, who are large in number. They are in state of flux, as they can be removed from grace, and others can be elevated. History is not a huge element in this, and bloodlines are not considered to be the greater factor in their eminence; ancient families do not enjoy much of a boost to their status; they simply show brilliance in their playing of the games of the Silken Knot.
The society is dominated by it's reliance on slavery, and many slavers rise in power with their ability to do well at that particular 'art'. Slaves certainly outnumber the nobles in each House, but the 'very common' people (The Nameless) often have no slaves or simply one or two. They are definitely a sign of status. Slaves are carriers of messages and they are the bearers of many fates in the culture. If you wish to insult someone, send them a slave you don't like much, as they'll kill them and feel much better about being insulted by their enemy afterwards. To the owner, it's no great loss either.
Slaves form a part of the national army, as they are highly efficient at soaking up missile fire, exhausting the enemy supply of them in the process. Some Houses will armour their slaves and arm them well, as they sometimes dislike the unnecessary loss of wealth in throwing them away; however, it far more preferable to see slaves die than citizens of the nation, however low they may be.
Free citizens cannot be made slaves. This is inviolate. They can be killed, 'lost', imprisoned, but never enslaved. The Pavishar CAN bypass this, but reserves this for nobles he doesn't care for, and occasionally someone who comes to ask for a decision at court he doesn't care for much either.
Ashapur is a hotbed of machination and illicit activity, but this is where it's strength lies, for no section of the society is unused to risk or too comfortable in their beds, which breeds a toughness that has seen them survive for so long.
The pirate city of Hanghaven is Ashapuran royal property, despite their absolute denial of such a thing. This is where their slavery gains it's greatest productivity, but they buy slaves from the Wolfborn, who have no understanding of it, just that they can get money for people who were stupid enough to surrender or just sit like rabbits awaiting capture. The Federation also give large quantities of their own people to Hanghaven, when their disappearance is more necessary than any penal servitude. The Bandit kings are rumoured by the Empire to provide slaves, but they actively attempt to prevent the operation of slavery on their borders, which has involved more than one full combat in the past. To them, slavery is an utter perversion.
Badabaska - Hounds of the Moon
Daily Badabaskan life means living under a shadow. They exist, not live, and their entire society is geared to survival - nothing more. Where children play in other lands, they learn to fight. They carry burdens, learn to run, jump, build up composite fitness. Their childhood is examining past battles, remembering the weaknesses of species, learning a weapon they are good at, picked by tutors to fulfill a role. There is no choice, no freedom, yet they lack restraints others find in life. Freedom to choose who to marry, freedom to choose a home, as many stand empty. Crime is non-existent, and has always been so. Their roots were of the Han-Dinen, so they learn their old ways, but the new ways are of the Badabaskans. There are no members of society, below the age of five, that do not fight, and virtually no-one lives above forty. Their leaders are chosen by merit; no grand families exist; this is a meritocracy. There are few illusions and little hope, but they see wonders inside their mountains, and they live and breathe and love; every moment of peace is spent sucking it in, as they don't know when next they shall breathe again in this way - maybe never, for the next day, they may be dead.
Badabaskan Geography The Badabaskans were not always known so, nor did they live on the three islands they now call both home and a trap. The Islands of Badabaska, Hannabaska and Keleddyn are three relatively minor teeth that jut from the seas north and east of the Polar cap that encases the Ghaurchlai, sealed there after their defeat at Saden Fields.
Before the Badabaskans came, they were simply islands that were layered strangely in rock, almost like a spiral stairway in some places, sheets of rock placed atop each other in a haphazard fashion. Built in several places amongst these rocks were five great fortresses; three on Badabaska, one on each of the others. If you considered their lineage, they seem like something the Khezdruli may have built, yet there are other influences there as well. Certainly elven influences are there, but, when you wander inside the fortresses, there are signs that Rhysthari have been here at some point - there are large underground areas where crops are grown without the need for 'true' light, and Rhysthari cultivation globes are large in number, coating ceilings of rock. In fact, if you looked at the nature of these places, then you could call them the ultimate in defensive works; there is a massive underground network of tunnels and caverns, carved into the rock, but carved in a 'friendly' fashion, so that someone could dwell there with more comfort than say a normal castle even.
The inhabitants can grow crops here; there are places that could house herds of animals, as large underground forests exist in places, and gardens - all fed by Ryhsthari and Lindiri means. Simply put, the fortresses are a marvel of engineering, and it was certainly a joint effort at some point of most of the intelligent progenitor races. Ildiri waterfalls feed the entire structure through streams and channels carved by Khezdruli, and it works as some kind of ecosystem. When the Badabaskans came here, it was to find all these wonders still in their prime, perhaps thousands of years after they were first laid in place.
The three fortresses of Badabaska connect, whilst the others stand alone. Should one of the three fall, then there are means to collapse all entry to the others, and each can live independently of the others, connected in a triangular form, they can live as three, or two or one at the last. There is little beautiful to the outside fortifications; they are made of a horrible brown stone, but they stand tall and strong. There is no give in these places, and the walls cannot be simply battered down; they must be taken inch by inch. The area inside the outer walls contains some living quarters, but they are arranged like mazes, and each area can be locked into itself through walls that can be winched down into place rapidly, trapping the foe should they breach the walls. If a foe CAN take the walls, they will take many more deaths to seize this maze like area, but any foe determined enough to even attack a castle like this would have to possess the numbers to do so - it would simply be a case of how many died.
Once through the maze of quarters, the attacker would meet the second wall; standing at a mere 30 feet, it is a defensive point, but it is designed for a different purpose. Within the wall itself is the means to collapse the entire wall by sections, revealing an array of Gnomes, long since sunk by the Dwarves, which will come alive the moment the light strikes their elven ley crystals, to assault whoever stands before them.
Should an attacker make it through here, the last gate stands, warding the entry to the tunnel system and the homes of the Badabaskans. In great caverns lie the actual cities, and these are lit as if in perfect sunlight. The cavern roofs are a wonderful blue, in many hues and shades, and they are encrusted with gems that mimic stars at night, when the Selediri magic fades to simulate the darkness between dusk and dawn. Here, when the gate looks as if it will fall, the Badabaskans can collapse the foreword sections, with prepared sections of rock falling into place. The city remains undamaged, but the entire area becomes impassable. Metal workings make it almost impossible to burrow through this, but they CAN be raised at the interior side. Further on, there are several places, amongst the tunnels and caverns, to irrevocably destroy the wonders of the fortresses in a final gasp at life for the defenders.
Badabaskan History: Ghaur If you ask a Badabaskan, they can give you an account of the last 2000 years; they all know it - they live and breathe their past. Never filled with glories, the Han Dinen lived south of the Empire in the West. Valerian never pushed further south than Nehemia, and he may have known what was down there - a story tells of a meeting with someone called the Painted Man, whereby an accord was struck to never push further. Whether Valerian knew precisely what was there, we'll never know, but he honored this.
The Han Dinen were a race of black haired folk, slightly smaller than the average Imperial Subject, yet very strong, fearless and determined. They lived in clans, clustered in villages and walled stockades where they kept their herds. They rode no beast, nor did they eat or hunt anything to extinction - rather they would cull, salt the meat and store it carefully, smoking some of it - mainly for variety. There were beasts they did use, however; the massive Baerhounds were their friends and they were said to have had others, but knowledge of them is sparse at best.
The Han Dinen lived around an inactive volcano, known as the Moonmirror. Here also lived others - a sect of Amazons was present as direct guardians, but they were wiped out in the Ghaurchlai wars. The Moonmirror was filled with complex tunnels, all of which led either to death-trapped murder-holes, or to the vast cavern beneath the volcano. In this cavern was said to be a lake with black water; this was the limits of the Farstream; the way into the world of the dead, and the women and Han Dinen were tasked with it's defense: both would die to the last to protect it.
During the Ghaurchlai wars, the Han Dinen and the now forgotten women-warriors were assaulted by the Ghaurchlai; a massive horde they stood no chance against. The women were destroyed utterly, caught in their volcano, whilst the initial attack on the Han Dinen saw them scattered. It was the coming of the boy, Adathir, and his guardians from the City of Solace that led to the Han Dinen uniting under the Clan Chief Gaira. They attacked the foe, and the boy was sent through the Farstream, after which the Han Dinen retreated, to carry out a forgotten war against the Ghaur until their flight to the isles of Badabaska. It is said in their histories that Gaira knew they would be caught and destroyed eventually, and, learning that the Emperor had left Kadasandra with the armies of the East, they pulled back to the sea, where they fashioned rough boats and sailed east...visions haunted and blessed Gaira, and he dreamed of the isles often now, even knew their location and the sea avatars called to ensure his safe passage.
HE and his people arrived in Badabaska, and constructed massive fortified cities, aided by the avatars of those islands, which were powerful, ancient beings. These cities remain still, but they are under threat constantly now, as the Ghaur infested the Isles in large numbers. Using the Farstream, they emerged on the isles and assaulted the Han Dinen; all settlements outside the cities fell, and they retreated behind the walls which still keep them alive...barely.
Han Dinen and Badabaska The Han Dinen were a culture of men living in the far south of the Western Continent. They were squat and had bronzed skin and dark hair - black in most cases. The Han Dinen lived in Clans - loose groups of people descended from family groups in ancient times. This was never due to inbreeding, as the Clans gave great worth to the joining of clans; they law forbade in-clan partnerships in most cases, unless a question of noble descent made it necessary. Even then, the marriage could take place only with cousins or further descent.
The Han Dinen were the most united of the southern peoples; most clustered in small groups of villages or hamlets - even in wandering groups of herder families. The lands they lived in were mountainous and laced with hills. Poor soil was present in the east and central areas, but the western clans farmed and maintained the largest herds. Deep in the mountains an order of warrior-women occupied a large fortification that crested the outside lip of a large, extinct volcano. Here lay the Soul Mirror, or Mirrormere - the entrance to the Lands of the Dead, where the gods lived with their Eidolon - their believers in life, fished from the Farstream, the river of the dead that carried souls into the after-lands.
During the Ghaurchlai Genocide, the Han Dinen were assaulted by an utterly overwhelming force of the demonic creatures, and the fortress on the Volcano fell to them, leaving the entrance to the world of the dead open to them. This they breached, and they fought against the gods, capturing most, as their nature made them almost impossible to destroy - certainly the Ghaur knew no way at that time. The Eidlon were scattered or slaughtered, but most escaped to flee into the territory of the Yaga Dai, a dead race that held the entire east of the Deadlands. The Yaga Dai fought the Ghaurchlai, holding them back, until the people of the city of Solace managed to rally them and push the Ghaurchlai from the Deadlands.
The Han Dinen had retaken the entry to the Mirrormere, and when the Ghaur were chased back through the Mirror into the Volcano, they slaughtered most of them. Behind the Ghaurchlai came the hosts of the Dead; the Eidolon and the Yaga Dai, and their victory was completed. Not a single Ghaur escaped. After many councils and minor battles, the Han Dinen, their female warrior order and the Dead moved north, retaking much of their original land and breaking the siege of Solace. The Ghaur were moved to bring their Eastern hosts back, and some of their strength from the Imperial lands to the north came south, forming a vast army.
This in itself allowed Valerian to bring the armies of the Western nations - or what was left of them south, to fight a decisive battle at Saden Fields, even as the Han Dinen, unknown to him, fought viciously in the south. The only reason Valerian had a chance at Saden Fields was due to them and their war. He won Saden Fields, and the Han Dinen were fighting to a bitter standstill - the use of massive magics by the Ildiri and the other elves drew the waters into the Ghaurchlai nests, melting most of the southern ice cap to do so. This wave of clean water struck the Ghaur fighting the Han Dinen, and some of their number were caught in it and sealed in the Southern Ice that remained, as Ghuarchlai were sent into a torpor by water. However, there were still enough to destroy the Han Dinene as a culture, and the gods intervened. They opened a way into the three islands of which Badabaska was the greatest.
The Han Dinen stepped into their new home, but were followed by many Ghaurchlai, who trapped them in the fortresses. All remaining Ghaur were simply obliterated by the gods, but many gods fell to nothing in this vast expenditure of their own essence, or were at least to the point where they were after named lesser of the gods, or simply Powers. Some of the people of Solace were elevated to this new status of 'power' and the strength of the Deadlands was remade.
Now, the Badabaskans sit in their fortresses, fighting a war against the Ghaurchlai. The Ghaurchlai dare not openly storm the forts, but they fight a war to harass the defenders - whilst the Han Dinen slowly lose numbers, the Ghaur breed, and it is inevitable that the fortresses will fall. At the time of the main mod, the Badabaskans face this stark choice; they either follow the histories of the last thousand years, or they issue from the holds and exterminate the Ghaur IF they can still do so. Outnumbered hugely, the Badabaskan are ferocious warriors, and they stand some hope of doing so. As with much of the world, they seem at a pivotal point, where the balance of the Dragon's future lies under direct threat; more dire than the Ghaurchlai Genocide, as even the Elohim return to fight in this war. Badabaska stands alone, yet they have potential allies to call upon. Theirs is a difficult path, but it is one that is unwritten in the Fates
The Bandit Kings - Lands of the Beggar Prince
Lore-ical Overview There are those that fall and see what they love die in the political machinations’ across most cultures. There are the persecuted, the lonely, the disenfranchised...all social castes, all cultures, they wish to leave their old lives behind so desperately that they run in the night and don't look back to see if they are pursued.
There is one place that will gladly accept them, one place they can live in rags rather than riches, but with happiness that hasn't been a friend for many years.
Once there the City of Solace; a city that was hidden save for those that truly needed its embrace It disappeared during the Ghaurchlai wars, as it's inhabitants went to a final war and were murdered almost to a man. Now this city has returned, and the Bandit Kings welcome it as you would a prodigal son. The Fox King rules here, but with a velvet glove rather than iron fist, and their army, known as the Beggar Host, have trapped every entrance, rigged rockslides, pits, small fortified walls, all along the valleys.
The Fox Court is resounding with the cries of a fledgling democracy, but it teeters on the edge of destruction. This could be reversed; perhaps they could even take the fight to their oppressors? One thing is sure...the struggle that comes is likely to result in more grief than the world can bear.
STORY: Opening of the Dwarf Holts: The old Dwarf Holts were sealed when the Infected erupted out of them, at the end of the Ley War; the Ildiri flooded them and they were sealed in a LONG time ago. This is an eye-witness account of when the Bandit Kings reopened one, several thousand years later.
WITNESSES all tell a similar tale of the final breach. No bigger than a man in height, but wider, the rock crumbled into the Holt, and a hiss of ancient air plumed from the hole, black, shadowed, it enveloped the miners in gloom, before it melted away in the light of the sun.
THE bystanders expected to see some horrific vision of corpses left in it’s wake, but the onlookers simply saw the small team standing amongst the dissipating gloom, and they cheered in relief. The Holt was open, and the inky blackness seemed to beckon them in. Some record a feeling that they were being examined by that darkness, that strange eyes beheld them in the dark. Virtually none of the team who were there that day would ever enter a Holt, but the Dwarves were unaffected by this sense of unease.
THE Holt was opened more over the next few weeks, the entrance widened and braced, before any would enter. The first expedition was made of a dozen Dwarves and nine men. The men included three Grey Whisperers, who had come to see what awful foolishness had been visited on the Kingdom.
THE first visit was recorded by a Grey Whisperer.
‘WE entered the vault carefully, our hearts racing. The darkness was so thick it felt unnatural, and the Khezdruli passed us their strange, smokeless torches, each of us taking two.
There was a careful drop into a wide tunnel, paved smoothly, the walls lined with statues and faces, which seemed to warn against the very thing we were doing. The air itself was oppressive, and the entirety of the gloom felt to damp, yet it did not carry any smell of rot or mould. The place we stood in seemed like any road through a city gate, save that it was underground.
ODD plant life clung to the rock, mushrooms that glowed slightly, deeply coloured vines weaving through the halls. It was most definitely a different world to that which we knew, and the vast vault grew wider and higher as we stepped across it’s length.
DESCENDING slowly, we were given groupings. Three groups of nine were formed, and we traveled together for the first few hundred yards, after which, the paths began to deviate. Certainly the first halls we encountered were military in nature, and small fortified areas were set into rock. Beyond these was a gate, which the Dwarves called the ‘Final Gate’. This was black in colour, obviously metal, and threaded with gold. It was beautiful in it’s own right.
THE Final Gate stood ajar, enough for two to enter at a time, but it’s mechanism was dead, and we could not open it further, nor could we close it. It yawned, and part of you wanted to run screaming back to the surface; anything rather than pass through, as it bore the very nature of abandonment without pause or thought to close it behind.
OUR Order is not powerful in the way men measure such things, but we could sense that the darkness was not unoccupied, that we were not alone down there.
AFTER the gate, the Holt took on a different nature. Beyond it was a simple barracks, and this bore signs of damage. It’s war machines were broken, and we saw some evidence of battle. There were bones, and they had been gnawed, cracked and splintered. Much of the skeleton of any single Dwarf was missing, dragged away to be devoured. Armour was slung about the barracks floor, pitted and scarred, but where Ley had been used, there were still crystals, some of glowed slightly.
THE weapons and armour bore some similarity to the Dwarven weapons we had seen, but they were noticeably different in their manufacture. There were incredibly ornate and beautiful pieces, but some seemed to have been manufactured en masse, maybe in moulds, with little time given to their making.
WE separated here, as tunnels began to branch outwards from this main area. Our group entered a huge level area, which was circular in nature. It was probably the size of a human city in itself. The Khezdruli said it was the dwelling area of the main populace, centered around a huge fountain, which still spat and sputtered blue light - Ley - simulating water, as an Ildiri fountain would have done. This flowed outwards in four directions, dissecting the circle as it grew wider and traveled outwards. Four sections were here, and all of the houses were squat, and bent, quite beautifully, in a crescent that formed each street around the fountain and beyond.
WE entered one house immediately, as it’s door lay open, and blue lights, born of Ley Crystals still shone weakly. The entire ‘city’ was illuminated, but this was high in the ceiling, and we couldn't not be sure as to how this was achieved. Mirrors, Metals, shafts of light from the vaulted ceiling, possibly Ley as well, but it’s manufacture must have been beyond anything humans could even imagine.
THE House dropped immediately by several feet, wide steps inviting us in. Shock greeted us, and air hissed from every mouth. There were bodies, mostly bone, and they were torn apart; you could see that their deaths had been at the hands of something big, something that had literally pulled and torn them apart, for the bones were cast across the entirety of this main room. There were dark stains that I can assume was blood. The most fearful thing was the skeleton that lay in the centre of it all. It would have stood at least ten feet high, and it was a warped, vile thing. It’s very bones seemed bent, and were made of the bones of many different skeletons, ground and bent , fused to form something horrific. It’s skull was huge, bigger than a horse, and it carried many eye sockets.
WE moved through the house swiftly, and it was still whole in places. The ceiling had a hole in it, perhaps where something had gained entry. Beyond this, the majority of items were whole. Plates, cups, all of metal, were whole, and then we found the strangest thing. A tiny little golden thing, about a foot tall, was slumped in the corner. It’s tiny body was of gold, with small arms ending in tiny, perfect hands, and it rolled on a ball of silvery hue. It was the first real ‘Gnome’ I had ever seen. The Dwarves amongst us gasped, and them seemed to be grinning wildly.
ONE, Theruden, bent over the tiny thing, and he fumbled in his pack, bringing out a tiny blue crystal that pulsed with light. He carefully opened a hatch on the Gnome’s back, and punched the crystal inside. The effect was magnificent. The little thing whirred, fizzled and spat little electric bolts, then it came to life. Whizzing around it circles, like a child or dog, it fizzed, and a tiny squealing sound escaped it.
THE Gnome then surprised us further, as it began to chirp, almost singing, and looked at Theruden directly, small lenses and cogs for eyes seeming to focus. Keruden nodded at it, then turned to us. ‘It’s frightened’. He almost spat. ‘I think someone took it’s Crystal, before it could be seen, and it still remembers one thing; fear’
FROM this point onwards, the Gnome went with us, and we saw more damage. The tiny thing seemed to know where it was going, ad it led us straight up one of the main roads, where the Ley still sputtered like water, albeit at a level that was almost pathetic.
IT took us through what must have been a battle-site, and there were many dead; dwarves and horrific creatures. Here, we also saw armour from what must have been Elves; it looked like Sea Steel, and a good hundred of them lay in ranks, torn down where they stood, yet they did not break or run. It was the strangest site; some order amongst absolute chaos. The mail still glittered, even when it was bent and gaping holes had opened through armour.
AT the end of the thoroughfare, there was a room, a great vault, and in it were row after row of glittering, golden shapes. Here were a great array of Gnomes, in ordered ranks, obviously made and unused, or shut down for some reason. The vast majority were strange horses, or parodies of horses, all cogs, gears, gems for features, all with a beauty that was otherworldly. It was a vast relief to see them, and we wandered, open-mouthed through them. Certain others were still standing, obviously war machines, and there was a space at the rear where some must have fought, but the entire back wall was stacked with blue Ley Crystals, unused and captivating.
THERE was a gate at the very rear, and it was beautifully decorated, abounded with differing hues of metals. This, we opened, and horrific air blasted out of the hole beyond. Several of us vomited, and we looked gingerly beyond. It was obvious that no-one of us wished to go there. Then we heard the scream, a howling noise that came from a vast distance, but it carried such fear with it that we flinched. The howl turned into a shrieking blast, and we feel back from it, ramming the door shut. Bolts clicked into place, and it fused itself together. I summoned what little power I could manage, for fear ever drains a Weirder’s powers. Directing power at the gate, I began to bend pieces, grinding them together, forever shut. It resisted, like an untamed horse being broken, but I finished the task, sweat pouring down my face.
WE moved swiftly then, returning to the main thoroughfare. The Gnome came with us, and I noticed that it held tiny blades now, one in each hand, as if to protect itself. I would swear it was shaking, but such a thing was said not to carry any form of emotion, and this was not the place to dismiss any imagination the mind could create.
AT the thoroughfare, we entered the more level of the two ways the others had gone, not wishing to descend any further, and now we moved with careful swiftness. We entered one tunnel-like place, and the floor swelled with water, running still, flowing, but it was an inky black, and it stank. We waded across it, cringing at it’s touch, and then we heard the sound of feet running. Most drew weapons, and the Dwarves formed a wedge at the fore.
THE group we had tailed burst into view, running at full speed, panicked, some looking over their shoulders. When they saw us, they came to a halt, rapidly breathing, heaving, and our group instinctively moving to the front, ready for whatever followed.
IT was about now that I noticed the missing member of my Order, and that I noticed burns and wounds on some of the men and Dwarves. They were less three of their number, and others were wounded, but none terribly.
THEN I felt it. The surge of power building. The Elseth came into view, black tendrils of magics building around her, like tentacles, whipping from side to side. I saw her eyes, and I knew what we faced. She was gone, for sure, and something that had waited patiently for this had torn her mind to pieces, inhabiting her body, drawing on her powers, augmenting them with it’s own. I could her the remnants of her screaming in my mind.
I had little room for thought or choice. Magics flared and she threw it at the Dwarves in their wedge. I reacted instinctively, and I forced a wave of dissipating Ley into the Abyssal attack, desperately unraveling it as it came. Luckily, it was not ready for any kind of power amongst us, and I shredded it’s weave, then sent everything I had at it’s head. I wove shards of Ley, made from the very air itself, into her head, and tore pieces of it apart. She howled, and then I felt the power building in her, massive, unfettered, coming from the deeps of this place. I screamed, and we ran. I stayed at the rear, awaiting what was sure to come, to try to absorb enough of the death that the others would escape - if my death could manage this, then it would be enough. I stood my ground as she appeared once again, and such power moved in waves.
THEN rough hands grabbed me, and I was dragged through the stinking black water. Elseth hammered outwards with the full power of the Abyss, and I saw the black tendrils coming, saw the mouths that gibbered at the end of each of them, burning with foul black flames. I looked at my death and prepared myself.
THE Abyss struck where the water flowed about us, and it broke in-waves, shattering into pieces, obliterated, like a mirror striking a wall. Shard whipped at us, and I threw a blanket of power up against it. So little came through that I easily swept it aside. Then I saw the power reflected back at Elseth. Where one abuses Ley, it can Wrack them, this I knew. I had never encountered the Abyss, and had no knowledge, as I do know, but it follows similar principles; if the body cannot cope with the backlash, then it will be destroyed, whether in part or in entirety.
Imagine the attack of a sword. If your feet are not firmly grounded, then the strike will have little power, and the energy will be directed up your arm, back at you. This is a similar thing.
SUFFICE to say we saw something that will never leave us alone; at night, the survivors all see this chain of events, sometimes when waking, too. The thing was made to nothing by what it was being struck by; I heard Elseth scream, and I saw the body, what happened to it. I saw the Abyss itself open behind her, saw things in the dark, things that stared with nothing, nothing but simple consideration - the eyes were gaping wide, glowing, with many pupils, or mouths that ate at the air, bit at it and devoured, all the while staring at us without anything we would call emotion, yet is was beyond even this - these eyes looked with the interest of a vivisector - we were utterly inconsequential, yet we were WANTED by them, we meant nothing, yet we meant everything, and there was no care as to what we were, or what they would do to us.
GIBBERING sounds echoed, and Elseth was pulled into the Abyss, her mind alive, returned to her, even as they dragged her through, and her terrible understanding of what was happening shook me to the core. She knew what they would do, and she knew she would not die for a very long time., and I could do nothing but watch.
We left the Holt swiftly, the third group returning. They had found deep water in the longest shaft, and would not dare it’s embrace, so they returned, but they could ‘feel things’ in the dark. They were desperate to banish this as an imaginary fear. It became less so when we told our tales, but we withdrew to the surface again, and moved swiftly to the Fox Hold itself, for what we bore had to stop any further action in these places. Sadly, it did not do so; they dragged those horses to the light, plundered other depths, and they began to open others; four in all have been opened, but I have met those that watch them, and they are uniquely capable of stopping this, should it be necessary to do. They are monks of the Void Temple, and they watch carefully, all the while intensifying the wards on the remaining Holts.
THE Bandit Kingdom is stronger for what we found, but by all gods or creatures, I fear what is down there, fear it more than I can even express, but I share this with my small friend, and he looks at me with twinkling eyes, and I know he can understand every word. He is a strangeness that is welcome, and he is everywhere with me, my strength and my friend, for the Dwarves gave me the littlest Gnome, and I have cradled him in the dark, when I still hear Elseth’s screaming in the shadows that abound’.
SOLACE Perhaps the oddest around, save for the Painted Man and Moonbiter/Moonthrax, Solace is a possible game changer in some ways; certainly it provokes the biggest choice of how to use it tactically/strategically, poss morally too.
The idea of Solace itself is that some people suffer so much doubt, pain or are just broken by life, and they need rescuing; and nothing they have or will find will ever do this. Solace is the manifestation of the development of emotion in the dragon's psyche, and is drawn to suffering and emotion, especially in a noble form, or in a form that is devoid of anger, or utter negativity - the suffering has to be directed inwards rather than projected outwards, if that makes sense?
Note: Negative emotive states are what draw the Cthonae in.
When drawn to Solace it is said that the person is shown what could be and given a choice to make in a 'dream'; whether this is a moral choice and the city judges them is not entirely known, as few remember anything save that they had a dream. Once the person accepts or follows what is shown, they awaken to find the Gatekeeper with them. He leads them into a mist, from which they emerge to see the borders of the city, and are walked into it's arms.
When entering Solace, there is a sudden sense of peace and release. It is not a place that MAKES people happy; it gives them the peace they need to repair themselves. Some choose to stay forever; some stay long enough to 'mend'; people do not age in Solace.
Part of what Solace does is teach various things to organize and perfect people. There is a heavy leaning towards martial traditions, as these exercise body, spirit and mind, and they also give self control and a sense of massive achievement. The by-product is that the city has superlative defenders if attacked.
They reach their physical, mental and spiritual perfection. Many are preternatural in their abilities.
What IS known is that those that leave of free will are often never to return. This makes sure that anything that makes them leave is of greater import to them than the city, which means they will perform a higher role, and often perish doing so. It is the perfect death.
In the Ghaurchlai Campaign, Solace IS going to be a city that can be the Void Temple's to control at some point, and the Han Dinen if played get the city.
The use of the city in the mod is to provide a small group of 'characters', in the form of generals...they can offer missives choices....they can initiate and follow a VERY important story-line, split to do so, ignore it, whatever, but there will be 6 generals of enormous power that can achieve much, but are split so many ways.
The city itself offers a huge target to the Ghaur and a clever player can make them throw TONS of troops at it, and watch them get minced...or take the city. The garrison will not move out, but they are very strong, and irreplaceable. All will be general led.
Chitkinnen - Children of the White Sow
Faction Intro/Lore-ical Overview Deep under cities, in hill hives and in the deep mountains live the Chtikinen, the rat people, the folk of the White Sow. Awakened by the Lindir, they turned on their creators and tortured some knowledge from them, a knowledge that is patchy, pain filled and incomplete, it drives them to do what they do, which is breed, maim and kill for the purposes of the White Sow and her nest-mind priests.
Bred into rigid castes, based on fur color in the main, they revolve around the cults they have made; based on the knowledge of the Lindir they maimed and destroyed. These cults are those of the Psychotrope, the Cult of Vivisection and the Rabian Cult. They deal with drugs, poisons, breeding, disease, the manipulation of chemicals and elements, yet everything they do is inherently unstable, and much goes wrong, only to be destroyed and devoured by lesser kin.
In warfare, the rats are smaller than humans and often visibly weaker, but they have perverted life and bred massive rats, some even 20 foot tall, that slaver and grind, as their intellect has diminished with the addition is size , not an un-hoped for side effect.
They are psychopathic, manipulative, cunning, and deceitful. All at the behest of the Great White Sow, their only Mother, and her mate the King of Tooth and Bone.
STORY: "BORISSOMEONE'S INTRO" We started from pity, we hid in the shadows and lived a simple life, but pity changed everything. From the dark came the Lindiri compassion filling their eyes as they gazed down upon us as we crawled through the debris of the man world. We were happy in our own way, plague and death a constant that made us what we are, always lurking in the shadows feeding on the waste of the so called civilized world, spreading disease and feeding on the dead. What came next for the nest was pain as the Lindiri worked their magic upon us, they thought to improve us. From this improvement we were born again, the first of the Chitkinnen, from pity and pain we stood upon two legs and tried to comprehend this new world that had been thrust on us.
The Lindiri explained this new world to us, but we of the nest did not truly understand what was told, and from the confusion of this new world the thoughts of old started again. We craved to understand and took many of the Lindiri into our nests, but as the screams of fear and pain rode the hollows of our shadow drenched lairs the Lindiri gave little to us, preferring death to sharing with us. From pity to a new world to death, the Lindiri have given us much and yet retained more.
Now we bide our time, the White Sow gives many to the nests, her mind feeding all as her heaving sallow bulk spews forth new born Chitkinnen. Many of the new are born into this world with the power of the mind, the Nestmind Priests who watch and gather information for the day when we explode from the sewers and shadows of the man world and begin a new age of slaughter, but for now we bide our time and feed, growing stronger for that day. Terror and the stink of death will ride the wind when the Chitkinnen walk amongst men for the first time.
The King of Tooth and Bone demands much from the nest, he feeds and mates with the White Sow, his maw devouring all that come his way, whispers in the dank foul air tell us we should look upon the White Sow’s mate as something more, a god to our many nests? The King of Tooth and Bone wants much and has all, our black eyes gaze upon his massive form with devotion for he embodies all that we are, death, disease and power.
As the foul air weaves and dips through our dark nests we work toward the day when we come forth and feed upon the man flesh, his children and wives will all feel our pain as we eat their screaming forms. The Cult of Vivisection improve us, they cut and change us for the better, whilst our minds are expanded by the Cult of Pschotrope. The Rabian have given much to the twisted and foul tunnels we call our lairs, from this most prized cult come the priesthood, the Brotherhood of Shadow. From the dappled shadows of the Brotherhood come the much feared Steamskin Watches. The Watches walk the dark for our mighty mother feeding information to the Nestmind ensuring all follow the will of the nest. We are the Chitkinnen, borne from pity but bound for greatness and much death. The Nestmind calls and she tells of dark days for the land of men, we are the Chitkinnen and now it is time for Total War.
JEAN's INTRO TO THE THREE 'CULTS' of the CHitkinnen The School of Vivisection...the Masters of Flesh...who cut it, examine it, know it, reshape it. They can dismantle life and rebuild it according to their will...stronger, deadlier... From the screams of Vivisection our knowledge is born, our technique advanced. The Fleshmasters examine life and teach us how to kill it and make it a part of us...countless bodies are sacrificed in the experiments as flesh and bone are separated and joined with other bones and other flesh...as organs, muscles, skin and all the innards are shuffled, reshuffled and dealt anew to serve a different purpose. It is by the blades and lore of Vivisection that we learn how to best slay our enemies and enhance our own Brood.
The Rabian Sect...the plague givers...disease eaters...that which others look upon with disgust as refuse, excrement, rot, the inedible, the unsmellable...we revel in. The Infection gave us unprecedented growth, like a plague we spread through the underworld finding new forms of disease, infection and mutation. The Rabians took them all and absorbed them. Instead of filtering out the disease like before, they learned to draw strength from it. Some mutated into ferocious warriors, larger and stronger than our kind has ever known while others learned to harness toxins and dangerous substances, and use them to sow death among our enemies. The Rabian Way gives us resilience and strength to outlast those who would stand in our way and hinder our inevitable growth.
The Cult of Psychotrope...the Plague Dragon's prophets...the mouths and tongues of the diseased brain. Theirs is the clarity of our purpose, theirs the vision of our final destination...they are the keepers of our past and the diviners of our future. The toxins that infest the World-Body can not only enhance the body but also give flight to the mind and imbue it with courage and ferocity on the field of battle. They allow the priests of Psychotrope to see beyond the bone, beyond the flesh, expand the senses. Not all may withstand the Truth, the touch of the plagued mind, and they may end up gnarled and twisted by the agony of psychotropic blowback. None who delve into these dark corridors remain completely untouched by the mind-rot but such are the pleasures and sacrifices of the Path of the Psychotrope, such is the price of truth...and of memories. To seek the Path and remember the Past...it is the creed by which we honour our Oracles.
Chitkinen Society Organised by fur colour, the White Sows give birth to many hundreds of rats, but the births are external of her body; in effect, they are formed then 'grown' by elder sciences (Lindiri) gone horribly wrong.
As the pupae are growing, they are administered drugs by the Cult of the Psychotrope (Psycotropic drugs - those that affect someone's state of mind and inner being). They are then passed to the Cult of Vivisection, who perform 'rites' that see the pupae reformed for their role - the original devices of the Sow see their base function, as random fur colours are assigned, the Cults then direct them to their primary role - some are delivered stunted or gigantic and insane, to be devoured as the rats' primary food source (different castes eat different types of food-rat), others bear white fur and are the highest of all, whose psychic powers are enhanced by the Psychotropic interference...others are grown through biochemical means and then 'improved' through vivisection....the list goes on.
The mainstay of the Chitkinnen forces are those of the Brown Rats, whose numbers form the basest of warriors. In masses, they are bred for work and war, craven and beaten, sent to die, to soak up the foes' ability to kill before the more valued are sent in to annihilate the enemies who survive.
Cho Tetsu - Petals in Still Waters
Faction Intro/Lore-ical Overview Faction Intro/Lore-ical Overview
When the Lindiri first came to life; they used their abilities to make many 'awakened' flora and fauna. They were charged to do this by the knowledge of the Celesti, who taught them the beginnings of their work. They were to create awakened beings that would aid them in their understanding of the world and its many inhabitants, whom they were given the task of protecting - they were wards of all things Temperate.
The Culture of Cho Tetsu has seven of the awakened flora, and they worship them as gods and follow their edicts; a task to which they appointed seven temples and seven Orders of Temple Guards. Their society is a hugely complicated machine. They have rigid caste systems, and Noble Houses fight both openly and politically for power, even utter dominance outside the Emperor’s jurisdiction. This is as much as a game for power as their enemies, The Principality of Steel; if not more so. Their politics are enmeshed with Honour, yet much of their struggle is far from honourable.
The warriors of Cho Tetsu are some of the most disciplined fighting men of all cultures. They often fight with two weapons and never use shields. Recently they have invaded and taken a parcel of the domain of the Pawn Saints. It seems there will be
Cho-Tetsu Society The society is at odds with itself in many ways. The highest figure in the land is the White Divine, the EMperor of Cho Tetsu, who lives in the City of FLowers. He maintains a large part of the city for his palace, guarded by Imperial Guard, also known as the White Fire Guard, or simply the Divines. His power is vastly limited however, and he commands the City itself, but little beyond, save through allegiances that appear and vanish swiftly. The Orchid Temple is pledged to the support of the EMperor, whoever he may be. It is unusual for a White Divine to last past the age of forty. There is little semblance to say Roman Imperial Politics; he does not get assassinated by family or by his own guard etc. For better or for worse, he lives until dead, but there is something in their nature that leads to early death in the Imperial Line. Upon his death, the Temples of Flowers support a new Emperor from his immediate family. Each Temple submits their support for one male; the one with the most votes becomes Emperor. It has never been tied between seven votes; always it has been a fairly clear choice, with the Peonie Temple often being the main ;fly in the ointment' in this process.
Aside form the White Divine, there are several bodies that share power.
The Temples of the SevenFlowers The Seven Flowers are not wholly accurate in their number; the eight is mostly secretive and it's end has been sought for hundreds of years. The Seven Flowers are actually the last of the Flowers that the Lindiri 'awoke', much in the same way as they did the Animists. After their creation, the Lindiri destroyed them fairly swiftly, as the experiment was not a success, but an absolute disaster. The Flowers were fed the sap of the God Tree, and magic was applied in the tested ritual. What the Lindiri failed to realise was that Flowers were of a different mould. They had no soul or spirit, as did the animals they changed, they did not have sentience, and this could not be just enhanced like Animists. In giving them an attempt at sentient being, the Flowers took the souls of the Lindiri that made them, the ritual transferring their minds into the plants. Plants have varying natures, and produce chemicals that affect other creatures; as such, they used these essences to affect those around them, whilst the Lindiri trapped within often went mad. The life within the flowers was one of a horrible nature, as they could not speak, could not communicate save through thought and projected images. Thus, some plants could poison, some could control minds, others had abiltiies to achieve many unwanted effects on sentient beings. The plants could not move at this point, and this saved the Lindiri.
They destroyed the vast majority swiftly, and others they hunted, as some began to move using their roots. There was a silent war; at it's end few of these plants survived. However, there were some that were discovered to be different, and these few were taken from the Lindiri forests, to be limited to various places where no harm could be done and they could be quietly observed. What became CHo Tetsu was one of these, but only eight were alive by the time the humans arrived - by this time, the Celesti had left, and the Lindiri had long abandoned the isles. The FLowers communicated with the humans, and were seen as gods, who the Cho Tetsu people began to worship. The eighth Flower, the Mantis, was swiftly hidden by one group of worshippers, as it's abilities to affect the world was beyond the others, and far more dangerous.
Note: The Lilindhili, in the Jungles of the major continent, are the Jungle Lindiri; here, the Flowers have largely 'won' the war, as they almost completely control the Jungle Lindiri...long story, but just a note.
The Temples of the Flowers are contained within the City of Flowers, and here the plants lie, unmoving, in beatiful seclusion, tended by the greatest talents of the Nation. The Flowers ahve Colours, like Weirders and CHannellers do, and they have distinct personalities.
THE LILY is the Flower of Contemplation, serenity and peace.
THE ORCHID is often seen as the Imperial Flower, and it's persona is that of Reasoning, intellect and of Logic. The Temple is entirely behind the EMperor
THE PEONIE is the Red Flower, seen as the Flower of war and martial spirit. It is these things, but it is mainly simply a dominant Flower; in the times when others existed, it grew amongst them, striving to dominate the flower-beds and grow taller and more quickly than it's brethren, hiding them in it's shadow. The Imperial Warmaster is supported by the Peonie Temple, often against the Emperor's restraint on the martial expansion of Cho Tetsu.
The Federation - Council of Nine
Faction Intro/Lore-ical Overview The Federation, or the Directive of the Free, is a vast country occupying the lands on both Eastern and Western continents. It was established on the territory bought from the Empire at the time of its decline by several wealthy merchant families. Their ultimate goal was to create a free state, where every person, no matter how rich or poor, would enjoy equal rights, contained in the Great Liberties, and would answer to one law, manifested in the Laws Inviolate. The people, tired of oppression and despotism of Imperial governors, flock to their banner…only to find themselves under much heavier burden...
The Federation is shielded from the rest of the world by a chain of mighty fortresses that prevent the rest of the world from seeing through its image of benevolent and free state…and discover the totalitarian regime inside. The state is heavily policed, and people live in constant fear for their lives, especially in the heart of the country, close to the grim capital, Strongpoint. Entire villages disappear overnight; some of the populace later found in the dreaded Penal Battalions – hideous hybrids of flesh and implanted steel – and newly acquired elite Ghaurchlai troops – the Descati’s Hounds – march unhindered through the roads.
The ruling group of powerful and secretive individuals, the Council of the Nine, uses any means possible to strengthen and empower their position, and is preparing to launch another of their ‘liberation campaigns’, though now the Council might find a mortal enemy much closer to itself.
History of the Federation as Told by their Council FROM THE EXALTED LIBRARY AT STRONGPOINT, produced in the First book of the Law
The Empire rose like a phoenix, proud and strong, full of the fires of conquest and unification, towering under the fine leadership of Valerien. In the Wars of Unification, all were cast down, and he beat the embers together like the blade of a good sword.
The Laws of the Dragonthrone were sacred, and all were equal under them. His will extended over all and the unjust lay in stupor, their fear unmanning them. The Empire was pure, and his leadership shaped the world. Then the Ghaur came.
Years of war followed, and the cream of the Empire died before the black hosts of creatures from nightmare. See the Bestiary of Jonas. Valerian faced all of this, and never faltered, but some, with fear in their hearts, did commune with the beast, and worked from within to hasten Ghaur victory.
Battle after battle was fought, and the old races were brought in to aid the Empire. Much of their number came to the final call to arms, and the hosts met on the fields of Sallen. That day, the Empire died.
The battle was terrible. Tens of thousands died, and the Empire never recovered, but the day was won, with the aid of the Dragons, Valerien’s friends, the last hope our people had before the Council. The Dragons tipped the balance, but Valerien fell, and the way was open to the puppeteers who had plotted against their own, a deed so foul that our laws hold it as treason most severe.
For years, the Empire struggled, but it slowly failed. They even re-named it Dragonstar, to give praise to Valerian’s efforts, but the conspiracy hid his deeds behind this name, heaping more praise upon the dragons, which were simply the remnants of an old race.
Things fell from bad to worse. Loyal people were persecuted, and the laws no longer extended to all. Rich nobles were able to influence the judges, and the Justicians, our keepers, were unknown. The Laws had failed, and the Empire decayed. Then Emperor Navall died, leaving the child Verian upon the throne. The time for the disloyal was upon us. They began to subvert the infant’s rule, but some who were loyal took it upon themselves to save part of the olden Empire. The nine.
The Nine gathered, and decided to save a piece of what Valerian had wrought. They raised monies from all ports: the peasantry, nobles who still believed…all gave in the hope of a new day. The money was gathered, and an offer made. The wealth to treble the treasury of the Empire, and the ceding of lands to be known as The Federation to the Nine.
In a glorious moment, the Federation was born, and the Nine created a Council, so that no one man could decide the fate of many. The Council wrote a set of Laws, laws which safe-guard the people, which make the people one, noble and ‘commoner’ alike, and see that all are treated with true honour. The Order of Justicians was made, and they travel the land still, dispensing justice and truth where the needy are oppressed. In one moment a land of perfection was born.
Whilst the Empire failed, the Federation grew. The people worked for free on the construction of Strongpoint, and the further strength of our Forts along our borders, and then more in key areas, which allowed the upholding of the Law, and allowed us to crush a rebellion by the Imperial nobles who had shown their mettle by turning against the Council’s ‘Declaration of Equality’.
Oh, yes, the Empire failed. They stuck a Prince in the West, a man born to high position, who owes simple lip-service where once he cowered. They allowed the Wolves to eat at the South, barbarians to raid, rape and kill their own, and the Legions supported their leaders more than the good of the nation. Wars were fought, and blood was spilled in short-sighted games of power. The people suffered.
The Council saw this, and tried to free the Eastern provinces. Again they offered to beggar themselves for the freedom of many, but they were refused. As a one, we decided to free them the only way left. War!
In the East we landed a massive fleet, and an emancipation force clashed with the Legions. Somehow, at the same time, the Wolves attacked elsewhere, and bandits grew prolific in their lack of fear in the north, above where we prayed for freedom. Our people gave their blood, and the Legions could not withstand our just cause. They gave way before us, and launched much of their strength against the Wolves and bandits.
We quickly managed to gather in as much of the land as we could free, and settled down in defiance, for we knew they would attack to enslave what we had taken from their faltering cause. We gave protection, Law and a wealth of important changes to those we freed, and the Federation in the East was born.
Three times, Legions crashed against us, but our programme of fortification bore fruit. We lost good men, but held on, then we rewarded by the Council in their just idea of the servitude of criminals. It was here that the Penal Battalions were given life. Criminals would die for their people, having given their rights away at the time of contravening the Law.
With these Penal troops, we threw the Empire back, and they were forced to conceal their cowardice in a tale of our ‘atrocities’. They said we committed deeds that were so foul, they had to consider our abuse of their people. The people we freed.
At the withdrawal of the Legions, we truly brought happiness to these people. Their oppressors were gone, and we brought Freedom.
FROM A RECENT PROCLAMATION
Our message reached other ears. The Rebellion started perhaps five years ago, as all are aware. Some whispered that they were emulating our Council, but we fear they have other agendas. However, the Empire has warred with them, and we must consider the common good of all in this. The Rebels may need a parent to take control of their struggle, to hand them the rein of emancipation. The Federation way is by far the truest, and has withstood the tests of time. Even now, the Council is meeting. Some would say now is the time for righteous war.
Fennweyr - Keepers of the Deepest Magic
The lands of the Fennweyr are filled with a fairly basic life, but it is fulfilling and free. The Clansfolk are clustered in huts, built about various shrines, smithies flaring, brewers getting small children to gather flowers for the press. Coin has value, but humanity has a far greater worth here. They do not tolerate much of the world beyond, for they have little reason to trust it, and many reasons not to do so. Here, children play amongst the trees, are guided home at night by friendly whisps - they play amongst the hulking Ettins, whose laughter booms like a war machine in the settling pollen. Pipes and flutes play, the musics of the forest people, sending peace through the realm. However, there are darker arts at play here too. There are reason that normal folk should fear the Fenns, for there are as many malign creatures as benevolent, but the clans and the 'good' keep them at bay. There are ways of doing this, rituals that confuse and displease the dark fey; salt can ward against the Moraefinns. Sugar trails can lead a Baenfoire in circles until dawn's light, and the creatures that do get through carefully prepared defences are often fearful of lights, of human voices, or are met by those that care for the humans, or the Druids themselves will burn them with their Weirding, throwing magic at them until they fall back into the night. If something particularly dangerous appears, then it is hunted and slain, but there is sorrow for this. Of course, when the Prince comes to the Fenns in open war, he is met by bad and good, and the Clans stir for war. Simply marching through miles of Fenn can wear and army down enough for a defence to cripple them, sending them back to the feudal lands.
A History of Fenn Relations with the Principality The Fennweyr was once a vast area, stretching from the northern coast of the west continent to the areas now occupied by the Prince of Steel. Not all was fens and moors, but they were an ancient power, deep rooted and capricious; like the land, they took people from the lands around and most were never seen again. Tales were abundant of strange lights, of Candle Wights, of the shambling forms of giants on the skyline, of whispers amongst unquiet trees. Man feared this place in the main, and few strayed within it's boundaries; or, if they did, none knew about it.
Horned men blew their misshapen pipes in lilting waves of dischordant sound, and children followed them deep into the heavily blackened nights. These children became the men and women of the Fennweyr, for not all of the dwellers were bad, not all were terrors or even faintly dangerous. Much of what they did was a misunderstanding, but the first people of the Principality banded into larger groups to protect themselves - this, in itself, would give rise to the Principality, as previous settlers were less inclined to larger groups, valuing freedom and autonomy.
The humans began to hunt in the woods, and they found the 'evil' within. Many creatures were interested in these humans, so different to those they had raised themselves. They were met by bows, spears and swords. Many of these more curious 'beasts' were slain, and they were driven back, deep into the woods. Over a larger period, the humans pushed them back more and more, and they cut down the trees, burning areas to 'cleanse' them. There were beasts that struck back, but they themselves were disorganised, and easy to turn back or kill.
As the Fennweyr shrank, the humans that were of the land saw their friends being slaughtered, and saw the tears of tree spirits, the bestial howls of pain from greater creatures, all as their mates and fellows were caught and killed. Tales filtered to them of how cruel the humans were, of what they did to the creatures they caught, and the 'Children of the Pipes' gathered. Their 'captors' had raised them well, and had never asked anything of them, save friendship, which they were rewarded with loyally. The Fennweyr people had their leaders; those called Druids, who gathered their folk, leading them with the magic of the land; for healing and care they were taught, and they gathered and voted for war on the southern humans, by now the Princes of STeel.
The Pipers fell upon the human settlements below the remaining Fenns. They massacred the people of three villages, every last one slain, and beat the garrison of the local, forgotten Lordling, killing his entire retinue; knights, archers and footmen alike. The Prince responded, and an army was gathered in the Chequered City. Several hundred armoured knights led five thousand men, armed in leather and chain, their banners bright in the winds. Marching north, they were stopped before a great hill, atop which was a bizarre sight: here, amongst the Sealing Stones, waited the Fennweyr Clans; Heath, Willow, Hill and others stood strong.
Even as the Prince drew his battle lines, he could not imagine defeat against the ill-armed Fennpeople, but they were not alone. As he finalised his plans, the creatures of the land came to their friends. Dancers of the Forest Goat, Baelfinns, Ettins, the deadlights, all manner of creatures came from the woods and moors. It is said that they numbered in the thousands, but there were a few hundred at best, save for the children of the Summer Queen and Winter King - of them there that many of each of their folk, mere twigs and leaves, yet would prove so lethal.
The Prince himself led a charge of his knights at the 'Beasts', whilst his archers and then infantry assaulted the hill. It was a tragedy in the making. The Summer Queen's retinue braced against the knights, and their spears were of magic in nature, killing many horses, through into steel armour, which was pierced as if butter. The knights were stalled, and the others were upon them. Even as they were massacred, the Winter King's folk grew into being, from nothing, amongst the archers and the Clans charged the infantry. This was an horrific slaughter. Of the entire Prince's host, less than fifty survived, and these had to walk a gauntlet of brooding horrors, as the creatures and Clans watched their foes retreat south. The lesson was not lost.
This prompted the first peace between the two factions. This was added to by various Princes and their Druid counterparts, but was also breached as many times. War between the two was shifting, but the Fennweyr Druids decided, after a campaign during which they had defeated army after army within the fens, but had been defeated when they left their homeland in return, that they would make a pact with the Prince of that time. The Fennweyr was to be left semi-autonomous and would provide trade and some tithes in return, along with an agreement to aid the Princes when their homes were invaded.
It was a peace, but successive fools amongst the southerners decided they could do what others before had not, and they attacked still, although less than before. The coming of Valerian changed this, and the Fennweyr has changed in his wake; better armed, better trained, they remain a check on the growing power of the southern Prince.
Lian Elune - Lake Kingdom of the Mistiriel
Liane Elune Situation Over the time between it's containment and now the Lake Kingdom has fallen into a bitter struggle. The Only decided that the Lake Kingdom needed purging of it's 'impurities', which simply meant that the wild parts of the Kingdom were to be forced into a war of extermination. Little resistance was given at first, and the denizens simply retreated. Now there is a last bitter struggle for their survival.
The people of the Lake Kingdom are tied strongly to the waters, both of the lakes and the sea around it's coast. Ildiri live there, as do many water spirits and avatars. They simply let the Only advance into territories they had held, viewing their advance as a form of peace, as there were vague promises of a finite measure to these advances.
In the last ten years, however, things have changed. The last territories of the LIAN ELUNE ('Starlit Lakes') lie in a final defensive psoition in the small area known simply as Lune. The Only CHurch has broken, as a Ninth Eye has been found again. She has gathered three of the Eyes to her, and they have brought some of the Church's strength with them. Together they have travelled to Lune and now sit within it's borders, as they have been for the last year, fending off the corrupt Church forces.
The situation now is that the Ninth Eye, Anna Sanda (sister of the Warden of the Imperial West, Lian Sanda) leads the people of Lune, the creatures and spirits of the land's waters and the Ildiri populace in a united front against the mass gathering of the Church's forces. Her loyal Only troops stand beside her, mostly made of Militant Monastic orders (meriotic in nature) and some of the personal troops of the three loyal Eyes. No CHurch Levies stand with her, but hers is still a army with deep rooted strength. All that remains is the struggle for survival.
The corrupt Only forces are strong and great in number; the Church's great wealth lends them power beyond the folk of Lian Elune, but they fight for a lesser purpose in some ways - there are those amongst them who lose belief in what they are doing, and the emergence of the Ninth Eye has many worried - those who do not believe assurances to the contrary.
SO, you have two factions about to slaughter each other - the forces of Anna Sanda in Lune, and the forces of The CHurch of the Eye of the Only. The Only must win a swift victory, and they will push hard for this.
It is said that some of the Elohim, the prognitors of the Celesti, stand with Anna Sanda, recently come to her side...the Elohim are waking, and they do so only in the direst circumstance. SOme stand with Ilien, the Rose of War, in the West, and now some stand with Anna Sanda in the Lake Kingdom. Even in the Ghaur Wars they did not come in large numbers, barely having anything approaching involvement, but now they are forming battle lines with seemingly minor causes. The significance of this cannot be underestimated.
The Awakening The camp was in the narrow twist of land before the 'last lakes', the Maerlemord, and the recent skirmish had left them bloodied and dejected. Anna Sanda had faced two Eyes of the Only alone, her loyal Archpriests to the east in the main camp. She had found several thousand Temple forces and had hit them at pace, barely allowing herself room to breathe. Her forces were a poor mix of units, but they were fighting for the right thing, and she was surrounded by her personal guard units...the Ordersd Mendicant and Meriotic were hers, for their nature was based on prophecy and dreams, and they had dreampt of her coming and found and protected her, at great risk to themselves. They had known little saze her frailty; not from where the threat came, save that it was from within their own Temple.
As the memories of battle faded, and she returned to the mud, blood and cries of the wounded, maimed and the dying, she held to her decision to allow fires that night. Her men were battered and were in a mire, and she could not forbade fires, even should the Eyes that had fled the field return with greater force. Her own men had been sent to the forces that ranged to the west and east. Morning was bound to bring their return and that of surgeons and fresher forces. Her life was now a nightmare of blood and ruin, but she fought for something that she held in faith before her own existance; the people of the lakes did not deserve the fate the False Eyes of the Only CHurch held for them in their vile plans, and she was all that stood between them. Maybe that was arrogance itself, for the Lian Elune had their own forces left to them, weak though they seemed, and she was lucky not to have been executed, let alone welcomed as she was. She remembered the eyes of the pale Ildiri, the ill-armed Mistiriel of the Lake People, and the few that remained of 'better' troops. At this point they held little of anything, and her aid had turned some things on their head; the Only forces had been routed from the field in several swift battles; hellish nightmares she barely remembered. They had not expected her arrival, and she had been as surprised when others of the Temple came to her aid. The three orders she had taken with her numbered mere hundreds, but they were like demons. Now she had thyree Eyes and their entire retinues, but no Temple Levies would follow them. Now they were excommunicated, but through her they were never before as close to their god.
She was startled from her thoughts by the shouts of sentries. She rose swiftly, her aches forgotten, as she saw a train of lights wavering along the boundaries of the camp. They were not the lights of torches, nor were like anything she had seen before. Almost running, she was strapping her helm on as she reached the picket lines. The lights were moving closer, but only so close. She could make out forms amongst them, but little more - they certainly weren't attacking, that was certain, but the Only taught harsh tales of this place; at the edge of the Maerlemorde, she was the safest she could be from the superstitious fools that formed the Temple forces, but she had forgotten what lived within those tales - teeth and claws in the dark, things rising from the waters to snatch those that wandered too far or children from their cribs. Swearing at her own stupidity, she lef the lines, and walked slowly towards the floating lights. They blazed as she stepped into the ebbing waters, and she lost her sight, staggering, only to find herself in a canopy of flowers, dream-like plants and webbing of vines and posies weaving around her.
In front of her stood the folk of the maerlemorde; the denizens of the deep lakes. In numbers, they were facing her and she could see pleading eyes, light issuing from them in a plaintiff, soundless, cry. She could feel the intensity of their pleas. One walked from the waters, a woman of bluish skin, her arms delicately etched into scales like those of a fish. Her eyes were wide and overlarge and her fingers ended in claws, webbing between them; she smelt of fresh waters and moved with terrible grace. 'Will you save us, Lady of the Waters? We fade, we see ourselves die, yet always there is a faintest of hopes. We dream of you as the men in metal armour poison our waters, as they cut down our people on the land. YOU are the one we see, and yet this is the slightest of hopes, and each day that fades. Will you take us as your own, march with us and die with us if that is what must be? It is your choice, lady, and we give ourselves to you with the asking. Will you save us?'
Anna awoke with a start. She lay in her quarters, rough as they were, her armour torn from her, her body soaking wet and very cold. Faces looked upon her, and relief was burgeoning. 'Yes', she had said, before the floating lights faded to the dark.
An hour later, Soaseir shook her, his face lit by wonder. 'My Lady,' he whispered, 'we have new friends, and they are quite the sight indeed. It appears we were sought last night by one of the False, but our new, uhm, friends, have brought me his head - it is the Eye of the North-East. He's less pretty than before, but I know him well enough.'