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Thread: [XMAS 2012 PREVIEW] Units and Lore - PART 2

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    Icon5 [XMAS 2012 PREVIEW] Units and Lore - PART 2


    PREVIEW Part Two, ACT 2




    FACTIONAL UNITS and
    DEEPER LORE



    Ward of Descati - The Ghaurclai Resurgent



    LORE

    Faction Intro/Lore-ical Overview
    The single night that saw the sundering of the elves was a swift and vicious thing. Aty the end the Celesti king and his guard lay dead, lying amongst the bodies of Lindiri ANimists and the elves that were forced to defend themsleves and defend the humans they had brought to the parley. Before this, no elf raised a hand to another, but the Celesti were roiling with anger, and the ANimists simply reacted to their animal instincts.

    The Celesti left the camps, protecting the king's young son, despite the lack of need for this. Bitterness swelled, and the Celesti gathered most of their kin, heading west, until they had to stop ion exhaustion. Here is where the Cthoane took their long considered action, sending a shower of AByssal comets into the Celesti camps. By the morning, they were intensely ill, and they stayed where they lay, as the comets burned through the ground and delivered them to a kind of nest.

    No one knew where they had gone, and didn't find out for thousan ds of years. Then came the Ghaurchlai Wars, as the Ghaur assaulted all of the west, coming up from the SOuth in open war. They were hideous, twisted creatures, evolved, degenerated, into many forms and foul shaped beasts. The Revenants led, as did others of greater power, but these were few. AMongst their ranks came the Vore Angels, wizened beasts that took ahuman form, with druty wings and covered ina noxious dust - and many creeping, flyinmg, burrowing demons, for that is what they were. NOw, after a defeat long ago, they have broiken free of their prison in the polar ice and are being shipped to the lands of the Federation, who feel themselves the masters of a power that cannot be controlled. Whilst some serve in the Federal armies, others were shipped elsehwere, to gather fore war noce more, their hatred only intensified.


    The Beginning: 1
    At the end of the event the Eldest called The Fracture, the Celesti moved west at a rapid pace, gathering in number at the Elohim-built Teresaire, then moving to the west of that, to funnel down into the Burgeoning, a massive flat pane of land in the south. There they began the building of the six Golden Spires, huge fortress cities that rose high into the heavens, platforms grown from gold, where they could be at one with the stars and prepare for what was to come. Here, the six Spires began to grow, high walls spearing through the rock, to gather towards the centre, having gathered around each other beforehand.

    In the centre of the six was a single Spire, and this was to harness power from the stars and sun, to gather in huge waves, for whatever their decided use would be. Here, surely, was enough power to turn to their use, to achiever anything they desired. They began to gather the power of the celestial bodies, but it did not go unnoticed, neither did all Celesti agree with what began to lurk in the minds of the most powerful. These they called Silthandael, and they left before they could be taken by the others, taken and interned in whatever prison could be fashioned for such beings.

    The Silthandael fled into the breaking dawn, and they ran to the kingdom of the Selediri, to the north and west of where the SPires were growing. A second meeting was held here, as the SIlthandael pleaded for the Selediri to prevent the Celesti that remained from achieving their goals; goals that horrified the SIlthandael so greatly that they would not speak of them. The Selediri listened, and they began to gather their warriors, - small groups of Ildiri and Lindiri came, as did Rhysthari in large numbers, and they studied the details of what the SIltnandael showed them. Violence hung in the air, strong and full of venom, and it drew the gaze of others; the AByss was drawn to the Dragon by a lunging spasm of greed, and the eyes in the Dark spun machinations beyond the madness of eve the Celesti in their glowing Spires.

    Elohim came from the farthest reaches. Thousands of the Illuminated came to the Selediri, bringing vast resources with them, for the danger building on the plains to the south could not be ignored. It was not ignored, and it bore the strangest fruit. As the Elohim began to gather, the skies lit with green, pulsing light, and the comets began to fall. Small at first, they gathered, more and more of them swirling through the skies, until the greatest of them burst through the atmosphere - miles in length, they plunged through the devouring protection of the Dragon's shell, and they smashed into the plains around the Golden Spires, sending great gouts of broken earth high into the air.

    Green, writhing light splintered across the Dragon's writhing body, and the Elohim wept but they flew swiftly to the SPires, the army of the Selediri and other Eldest trailing behind.

    The SPires had toppled, fallen, broken by the comets, and the earth had been thrown in on itself by the Abyssal magic at work. The earth had swallowed the SPires before the centre was complete, and virtually all trace was gone from the body of the Dragon. STrange creatures filled the night, and there were battles in the dark, all the while the world was lit by Abyssal fires. Many battles were fought, and many died in them, but the AByss was contained, the creatures slain or broken, and the lights faded, battered to nothing by Elohim magic.

    Acrtoss the plains there was silence, and the Celesti were gone. Raised so high in their ascendent madness, they had been torn down, and some called it a blessing that the ELves and their allies had not been forced to assault the Golden Spires - others wept openly in their loss. The Elohim remained silent, and small groups left, to achieve tasks that would remain empty for thousands of years in many cases (the founding of the Void Temple is one - I WILL explain that properly one day, and others that I s'pose I might go on about). They scattered wards about the plains, sinking some within the earth; others they raised into the sky, to be forgotten amongst the clouds, but others were left to be overgrown by tress and natural growth. One was the bud that began to gather the energy that created the City of Solace; others were quite odd and many seemed tiny, yet all had purpose.

    The Elohim and the SIlthandael left the coast, to sail to the furthest shores, where they were gioevn new hope at the City of Dreaming, where the Elohim slept and dreamed their prophecies and imaginings of what could be.

    In the plains where the SPires had stood, the power of the great golden cities was broken, but it was not gone. Deep under the earth, the gold spires had fallen, and were buried with the weight of the abyssal power of the comets. Here, many of the Celesti were held prisoner by the weight of earth that sealed them within. Many had died, but the majority were within the SPires, and these great golden towers were to become their homes for what remained of their sanity.

    Here, the green lights of the Abyss ate inot the gold itself, breaking and eroding the metal, to breach the encasing fortifications. Bathing the Celesti in the Abyssal lights, the highest of the Elves were to undergo an evolution, forced through them in excruciating pain, their bodies and minds torn apart and warped, over hundreds of years they suffered - the extent of which none can truly guess, but at the end, they were crushed and twisted, becoming the antithesis of all they once were. Not all resisted; some 'grew' into the pain, greeting it and battling it for control, and these became the greatest of the beast; many simply suffered, and bred, and fed; an endless cycle, through which the weaker were devoured, other creatures of the earth were gathered in and changed, and the Celesti remained truest in those who grasped at the power the AByss tortured them with.

    The Abyss has one great weakness. It does not consider, does not think, or debate, it just conceives and ejects thoughts, before anything of sanity can occupy these plans. They did not consider that the Celesti were not a race born to serve, and the Celesti became no servants of the AByss; they challenged it - the ones who had grown most of the Celesti in the dark were called by the Abyss, and they spat in it's face, turning away from it's embrace. These elves walked away from the grasp of the failing power of the comets - they closed the breach that was being opened, destroyed the CThonae that attempted entry, and walked anew into their rotting Spires, calling themselves by a new name; they called themselves the Ghaurchlai.

    For an unrecorded time they lay under the earth, until they hungered for the night skies, and the burrowed upwards, creating massive underground nests, until they breached the surface of the Dragon, to emerge into a world beyond any they had considered. War was not a thing they had prepared for, and they retreated before they were discovered, to begin plans for their assault on the surface world. There were those amongst them that could devour the bodies of living things, could absorb their entirety and could take on that form; Shapestealers, they were called, and they were sent to the world above, where they prepared everything, until ready to unleash the Ghaurchlai Genocide.

    Their plans were far from finished, however, when the first of the Elohim wards was triggered, and the Void Temple sought their nests. Aden's Cell was dispatched, and the northernmost SPire-nest was unearthed by his six. Knowing what he could do with his discovery, the Ghaurchlai unleashed their hundreds of thousands, led first to the Fortress of Hedrin, one of the thought-wards of the Elohim. The city fell, and the war began.

    The Beginning: 2
    After the disastrous Council at the Withermere, the Celesti Elf leaders returned to their host. Here they met as one. Not all Celesti were present, but at least eight thousand were, and they prepared for war, as if they were creatures of instinct rather than reason. It is postulated that macabre power were at work even then, the tendrils of the Chthonic Lords reaching same few who argued for war.

    There were those amongst them who wished no part in this; several hundred removed themselves from the camp and travelled west - these were the SIlthandael of old. Others stayed, yet were drawn to neither camp. Over the next month, more Celesti were called to their moot, and they began preparations for a swift war. Golden arms and armour were polished and crafted, and the host swelled to over thirty thousand. Their channelers were formed into units and they plied the Gold, t5he colour no others could see.

    At this point, they marched west and invested the human town of Sirare, which fell in hours. Many were put to the sword, others escaped, but the news swiftly reached the other elves, and they gathered several hosts to one. This gathering was joined by avatars who had turned from the Celesti, those that claimed to have seen insidious tendrils of black pooling around the heads of some of the greatest leaders of the Star Elf Host, whilst others acted .

    Fearing for the worst, the combined armies of the elves moved west, whilst others began to secure the borders of some of the human lands. Without hope, heavy of heart, they marched, even as the Celesti crossed the seas in stolen Ildiri fleets, having driven of those who had owned them.

    The Celesti forces landed on the west. Within hours, they had burned the Ildiri fleets they had crossed with and gathered to begin to claim their kingdom of the Stars. For, in the west, there were few save for elves, and they claimed lordship over all. Humans were in the north, and some cavalries were sent to exterminate them, only to be stopped by Selediri forces marching to prevent just this. The two forces lay in a stand-off, and the Celesti debated the slaughter of their kin.

    As events unfolded, the Elohim ELune came swiftly from their holds in the dragon's eye, and flew to the main Celesti camps. Fortresses were being raised, their walls fashioned from massive blocks of gilded steel. The ELohim met with the Celesti leaders, and denounced those consumed by the Abyss, whom they cast down to writhe in the mud. Black ichor drained from their perfect skin, as their mewling coughs became screams of despair.

    The followers of the fallen Celesti Lords attacked the Elohim here, and there was a battle in the dark. The Elohim contained the evil, and most of the insane were beaten off or slain, and the hold over the minds of those remaining true were cleared once more.

    The survivors of this, and those that had not been present moved south, towards the Mountains of the Moon, where the reality meets the spiritual, and they wrought a magic, a deep magic that breached the layers to the Abyss. The Lord ANbaen sent a comet of his fashioning into the universe of reality, and it tumbled, growing with speed, trailing dark whispers of hate as it travelled and grew.

    The forces facing the Selediri in the north were next to0 be visited by the Elohim, who wrought their magic again, but these Celesti were despoiled utterly, and they killed many Selediri and Elohim, but were destroyed and broken apart by ripples of Ley, to be neutralised and contained, their evil broken and dissipated.

    To the south lay the Selediri host, now gathering to celebrate their freedom and their rise to grace once more, awaiting the arrival of the ELohim Elune, to lead their devotions. Such a meeting was not to be.

    Spinning at vast speeds, the Abyssal comet had found it's mark, drawn by foul sorceries, and it crashed through the atmosphere, tumbling into the camps and the new walled cities of the Celesti who waited for their lords to return. The force struck them hard, and, had the comet been full of reality, they would have all died, as would most life on the dragon. However, this was mostly swimming with the blackness of the Abyss, and the great walls were driven underground by the impact, the Celesti tumbling down into newly opened pits. Many dies, others were trapped, others simply drowned in pools of black vapour, but death would not claim these last; those that lay trapped, those that drank the shadows, they were kept alive, feasting on the Abyss, given sustenance by root evil.

    The ELohim came upon the disaster and sent their mind in a desperate search for life. By the time they arrived, they found none, for the Abyss had already wormed it's way into those creatures that were once Celesti, and they were no longer alive in the way they once were. This was the moment of the birthing of the Ghaurchlai.


    The Withering
    Slowly, a shroud settled, like dust, upon the Celesti that lay trapped under the comet fall. Trapped within cities of gilded iron, swathed in mud, mire and abyssal dusts, the survivors began to change. This was the 'Withering'. Those within the cities survived better than those lying under dust and rubble, although the numbers of these were greater - they quickly became what they were meant to be. From these were born the demon spawn, the lesser brethren of the GHaurchlai. Some grew wings, leather, feathered, even wings of black smoke.

    These creatures began to exhibit other traits; some began to crawl at speed, their bodies adapting to their precise environment. There were those that burrowed through the dust and earth, and those that moved like filthy fluid...others there were too, but many of these other forms proved unable to survive; the Withering seemed almost random in some ways, and the abyss follows different rules from the planes of reality.

    Inside the gilded halls walked those that were slower to change. The Spawn took mere months in some cases, only years in others, but, the others - they could wait for hundreds of years before their true forms were revealed, but were promised millennia to revel in them.

    Within the halls of the gilded cities, the survivors began to break down. AT first, they maintained society where they could, then it began to break down, groups splintering off to form smaller societies, finding room for all to hide in the shadowed halls and vast walkways. Some warred as time went by, but society broke down at a faster and faster rate, finally collapsing as the Demonspwan found their way into the cities, hunting down the Celesti who were slower to change.

    There were battles in the half light, which went poorly for those that still appeared as Celesti, but they used magic, which the demon spawn did not possess, and areas were warded from these creatures. Slowly, those within the wards changed. Inwardly at first, then spiritually, then, finally the physical changes overcame all. From the warded areas, now containing ward within ward as the societies of Celesti grew ever smaller, there finally came the roar of powerful creatures, and the SLaiughterstars emerged, ridden by Revenenants, as others crawled, flapped or slithered in their wake. One thing remained true, however; whatever the changes, all GHaurchlai seemed to retain the essential characteristics of a 'human'. Maybe it was simply that the ones who had altered beyond this could not survive, or maybe it was a simple pull of reality, but the roots of the Ghaurchlai remained, as did their language; the Words of the Stars, or honeyed tongue of the SIlthandael, yet now spoken in harsh, guttural tones, once like syrup or birdsong, now harsh and broken, filth encrusted vowels concatenated with whispers of hate.

    AT last the Ghaurchlai were born. Tens of thousands of Spawn were swarming around their new masters, and the new society that was born was not so different from before. There were still those that thought with skill, killed with skill and talked with skill, save now there were none to oppose the madness that was wrought by the savage tendrils of the Abyss. As one the Celesti bowed in supplication to the stars, as they always had, but the Abyss had twisted them beyond repair; never would they be creatures of the Abyss, but they were an inescapable evil, and one that remembered; remembered all things, remembered enough to truly, cognitively hate.

    As the centuries passed, they bred - they devoured their own to survive, but they bred ever faster and their numbers eclipsed anything from before. All the while, the greater of their number planned and plotted, gathered and obfuscated their plans, designs and existence, and none, save the watchers in the Void Temples, kept any record of the times before the shattering of the last Elvin Counsel.





    The Dragonthrone of Imperial Kadasandra

    FACTION UNITS

    Units












    LORE

    The Foundation of Kadasandra


    WHEN the East was secured, and the Imperial system was being developed into an optimistic law-driven State, Valerian grew restless. He had seen much of the east and sated his dreams upon it, but, in the conquest of Ancillia, he had tasted some of what the west could offer. There were many wonders to be found there, and a true conqueror is never satisfied with lesser men’s' dreams. Turning west, he sent men along 'the spine' - a tract of land that connected, in a rough fashion, the east and west continents. In the centre was a set of islands, arrayed around the mass of an ancient volcano, higher than the clouds it so majestically breached. The people who inhabited the 'the Spine' stayed well clear of it, and they told rough tales of the disappearance of those who had dared it's shadow before. Once, a band of men had explored the area - few made it home, but they bore tales of an abandoned city on one of the isles, at the foot of the volcano, built entirely of something resembling ivory, yet strong and polished to gleam like purity in the befouled air.

    Valerian was naturally attracted to this legend, and vowed its solution. With Mournweaver and two hundred of his finest men, he set out west, leaving instructions behind on the fashioning of a great fortress, to watch against attack from the west should Valerian fail.

    The people of the spine were lowly folk; they lived in huts and wooden buildings and fell back from the advance of two hundred armoured men, bowing to the glory of Valerian's armoured glory. Riding a grey stallion, he was arrayed in a panoply of gleaming silver, and the Imperial flag was raised by an Atakash noble named Karesh Alatan, who would become a great warrior and general one day himself. Ten miles from the immediate fogs that shrouded areas of the isles and volcano, they camped, and the Spur Hawks were unhooded to get a better orientation to their surroundings. Such birds do not know fear, and they screamed defiance at the strange sights. Valerian knew they would fly through this, as men would not dare walk, and his plans were simple.

    Before the main camp woke, Valerian dressed in black leathers and climbed his great Hawk, Pericene, and dismissed his guards, who fell back only upon his mount's vicious awakening. Pericene leapt to the air, and flew swiftly into the morning haze, climbing at his master's touch. Spiralling, Valerian climbed the sky itself, and swept towards the mountain at the centre of the Spine. Pericene flew for four hours, beating against curling winds and the stench of the trails of smoke that filled the air in drifts. He was tiring, and Valerian feared for his friend. Driving the great bird towards the mountain, he threw himself from Pericene's back, and hammered into the solid rock. Swiftly hammering in crampons, he commanded his mount to leave him...four times he shouted commands, until, finally, the battered Hawk turned towards camp and slowly beat it's wings, listening for his master's recall all the while.

    Valerian climbed. He dragged himself up the mountain's sides, foot by foot, scraping his leather armour to the point where it barely held in places. For two days, he climbed, drinking the water he had brought, eating when he reached small shelves, resting only briefly, literally clasped to the rock by metal pins and claws. On the third day, he reached the clouds, and the cold hit him like a fist, moisture drenching his leathers, the winds intensifying. However, he carried on, and broached the cloud tops after another four hours of terrible pain. Weakening rapidly, he burst through the cloud cover and nearly fell. It was not what he had expected. Before him lay a smouldering volcano, but it was not active, nor did it blow great gusts of heat at him, or smother him in ash. In many ways, he had already given up on returning from this, but now he surer than ever before. In the cradle of the Volcano, there lay a nest of beasts. He could see at least seven, all entwined and curled into one another, sleeping, their nostrils trailing smoke and their breath cascading from their mouths in great hot gusts. He could only see seven, because he could not see further than this - each creature was at least a mile long, it limbs the height of fortress walls, their great wings curled tightly against their backs, twitching in their sleep. Valerian staggered two steps forward, and slid down a screen, tumbling to fall before the lid of one great eye, closed in slumber. He passed out in pain and exhaustion, his last sight the flickering of the creature's eye opening to fix fully upon him.

    --------------

    In the camp, there was confusion as Pericene returned, his safety straps neatly cut. Mournweaver gathered the men and calmed their fears. Valerian was a great man, and the straps were cut cleanly. Whatever had happened, he had doubtlessly planned - sparing his men from his actions, as ever he did. Two Hawks would be dispatched every hour to search, but no dangers would be risked. In one week, they would proceed into the mists and smoke and would begin a true search, but until then there was a cursory patrol. In all their hearts they believed Valeian was alive - the man was untouchable; a master of the lesser men and world around him.

    -----------

    They waited only five days for his return. At dawn on the fifth day, the sky shook with shuddering winds, and the men in the camp were flattened by their ferocity. A huge shape appeared briefly, then crashed to ground before the massed guards. It was a dragon. It's vast maw opened, and its hiss blasted them with searing air. As one, they fell back, arraying themselves around Mournweaver. Almost sick with fear, they braced themselves for death, then watched in astonishment as the beast lowered it's head and Valerian leapt from it's huge head, landing heavily, his leathers in tatters, his skin black with ask and soot, yet his smile was one of hideous delight. 'This, my friends, is Albitair. He is one of the True Dragons, and he is my friend.' The men cheered, and Mournweaver spat in disbelief, then smiled and clasped his lord's shoulders. His whisper was barely audible even to Valerian, but he simply said 'You're utterly insane.'

    ------------------

    Albitair flew the whole warband to the ivory city, settling them on the sands around the natural bay, withdrawing into the sea to roll and twist in the waters, which bubbled and steamed at his touch. Uttering a strange wail, he thrust his head under the waves and sprayed the whole gathering in hot, slat water. Valerian turned to Mournweaver; 'they do this all the time. They have a worse sense of humour than you do, my friend, and ten times more dangerous for us.'

    Claiming the Ivory City, he called from time it's elder name; Kadasandra. The mist and fogs had begun to withdraw as the Dragons ceased their magics, and five isles were revealed, each virtually flat and barren - landing platforms for the dragons, he had been informed. What plans Valerian had were of wonders, and these wonders took 7 years to complete. At the end of it, there was a vast array of beauty that was Kadasandra; spread across all five isles was a new city, centred around the home of the True Dragons, about which was spread the astonishing Ivory City; which would become the palace of Valerian and home to those of his court. Spiralling above them were the True Dragons, who named Valerian Brother - never did he reveal those few days, but his eyes held a fire that was not present before, and he rode daily with his friends. For the first time in thousands of years, there rose a pillar of flame from the courtyard of the central tower of the Ivory City - a flame that became known as the 'Warflame', for it was given by the Dragons, and Valerian passed it's power to the two hundred men who had come with him on his first journey - the guard that were 'The Imperial Warflame'; the best and most tragic of all.

    Valerian and the Beginnings of an Empire
    Valerian was once known as Ulaya, a War Chieftain of the Atlaia, one of the foremost of the clans in the Sea of Grass. His Father Ultur had forged a tribe, a rare occurrence, uniting 32 Clans under his banner. A great man indeed, but as nothing compared to his son, Ulaya...the man who would become Valerian, Emperor of the Dragonthrone, the most powerful man in the world, the only 'Dragonfriend'. With the tribe Atlaia, Valerian set out to forge this power.

    The clans of the Sea of Grass were unusual. They had no concept of CONQUEST. It had never occurred to them to want to dominate another culture, as they fought amongst themselves endlessly. However, there were clans who had suffered from the depredations of Telmior, a princedom bordering the Sea of Grass, to the west. They operated under a slave culture, and the clans were a prime target. Strong, lean, practised warriors, they commanded a high prince in Ancillia, to the north.

    Ultur has forged bonds with the elusive clans of the West, and he sent Ulaya and Alatai, his other son to negotiate. His tribe may have been great, but the western clans were the best tamers of the great Spurhawks that inhabited the stunted mountains of the Sea. Ultur and Ulaya both saw the possibilities that a larger force of these war birds would engender. Alatai was sent to the West Clans summer trails, and began negotiations with a clan that tamed the birds, the Paeirtun. Ulaya went deeper into the scared lands about the mountains, and was found in an entirely different situation.


    In these deeper places, he was said to have been ambushed. His Spurhawk was slain and his body wounded, and he was captured. The Palioaer were the only breeders of the rare Black Hawks, and intended to feed him to their birds or ransom him. In the month that followed, he began to make negotiations into their becoming a part of his Father's tribe. At first, the captors laughed at him, and beat him but later they began to listen. It was here where Ulaya made his name. One night, the clan was attacked in full force by the twin clans of Abiidi and Narutar, intent on taking their Black Hawks and selling the clan to the Telmior.


    During a frantic battle, the Palioaer cut Ulaya's bonds, and he cut down many foes. He set the clan's war banner by his feet, and defended it against all who came for it. It is said he slew over thirty foes. The warriors rallied to him, and he led a ragged defence. It is said that he won that battle by sheer force of will. They spent a day burying the dead, or burning them, and he led a counter strike on the clans. In a swift battle, he managed to have half of his force on Spurhawks, shooting bows again and again into the panicked foe. Ulaya then led a cavalry charge into the combined camps. Everywhere the foe fell in droves, until they surrendered to his, admiring his prowess.



    He was held for another month, but as honoured guest. Upon his return to his Father, he led 3 clan chieftains who would join the Tribe, and the only clan that could breed and tame Black Spurhawks. His brother came back with assurances of aid, but at the cost of war with Telmior.

    Ultur and his sons had bound the north, with their fair caravans, the Eastern Clans with their vast herds, the West with it's fierce Hawks, and the south with it's greater numbers.

    To Ulaya came one of the Old Ones. It was a great risk, for his father had them slain on sight, seeing them as degenerates. This man, nameless to the end, explained the many aspects of the Old Ones' lives. They wished to treat with him, as their visions showed the death of his father being close by. They had abilities beyond the norm, and would treat with him for the protection of their ways and their future. Ulaya went further. He spent two weeks with this man, then went to their sacred groves to the south and learned much from them. They would send seers with him when he returned, for his father would be dead. Dead at the hand of Ulaya's brother.


    With his seers, Ulaya moved north at speed. Their passage was eased by the magic’s of the Old Ones. He swept into the southern camps, to find that the entire tribe was in disarray. Some had joined his brother, most were unsure, but there were those that flocked to Ulaya. With the Hawk Clans behind him, he drive north once again, gathering horse clans and Saer Riders to him. His Brother met him one mile south of the Tribe encampment. There was a battle, but it was never in doubt. Ulaya had a rare grasp of tactics, and completely crushed the clans that had followed him



    The survivors of the 'rebel' Clans were given the choice of a Clan or death. Many took the former, and joined an existing Clan that they had marriage bonds in. Some few chose to die. His brother was flayed and torn apart by horses. The ones who chose death were made into a bodyguard for Ulaya - the Honoured Dead. From that point, they were his forever.



    There was a month of feasts, of tears for the dead and many of the ancient rites that the Old Ones observed.


    Ulaya had to turn this force to some end. Telmior was a foe of old. It had been using mercenaries to slave into the Western Clans. Those that were not already His came to him, asking for forgiveness that they had delayed their fealty, brining signs of war, supported by some few of Clans already Ulaya's. The tales were worse than ever before. The Telmior were simply observing the lack of warriors in the west, not seeing further than their notion that the Clans would never work together. They would find that this was a dire mistake. With the bodies of mutilated dead, tales of mercenaries committing worse atrocities, Ulaya's moment was made, his decision as bright as the mid-day sun.

    Ulaya moved north at speed, with horse and Hawk, and there followed the train in his wake. He commanded 16,000 Spurhawk Cavalry, 8000 Horse and 22,000 warriors. The mercenaries were not prepared for this. They were strung out, killing, slaving, intent on rapine, and he struck them at every point, given the places by his Seers. The orders were to capture, not kill. 3,200 mercenaries were captured, leaving just under a thousand dead. In one long day, they had killed or captured every Telmioran mercenary.

    The response to this was said to be savage. Whether he later regretted it will never be surely known, but he hacked them to pieces. They were strung up, lost limbs, maimed in a thousand ways, then sent to Telmior's capital, Telimir, itself, with one sighted man leading nine blind on a chain. The way was torturous, but they were fed and watered, to ensure the greater part made it to their destination. Abandoned about a mile from Telimir's walls, they marched to the city, a testament to the brutality of the Altaia.

    Ulaya was no fool. He had just added thousands of useless bodies to a city that would find itself under attack within days of the train of cripples entering it's great gates.



    Valerian and the Ghaurlichi Wars
    AT the time of the Ghaurchlai Wars, valerian had become tired, sleeping badly, not resting, depressed and uninterested in rule. It is said that he went to the Dragons and found them sleeping or gone, with no way of waking them. His fire of life was extinguished in one fell swoop. In the capital, the Courts were rife with treason, corruption and the death of many advisors, to be replaced by Ghaurchlai Shapestealers.

    When Valerian was torn from his dire thoughts by Inledlis, the Void Knight Compassionate, he rallied the Imperial East and marched to Saden Fields, where the cataclysmic battle for the planet began. Valerian was wounded direly, and the Dragons stirred, then awoke and came in fury upon the Ghaurchlai battle lines. As the Emperor lay wounded, a Dragon came and bore him to their nest, whilst the other Dragons tore into the Ghaurchlai Host. Each being a mile long, they smashed and burned entire battalions of the foe, and are said to have destroyed the host from the rear, even as the forces of the east and west hurled themselves against the Ghaur battle lines.

    Many of the greatest Ghaurchlai perished that day, but dragons too were killed and wounded, but the Ghaur that remained were bound by the Ildiri bending rivers and flooding the enemy host with a walls of fresh water. Fresh or running water sends Ghaur into torpor, and the result is best taken from the Ildiri historians.

    Kadasandra: The City
    The City of Kadasandra lies on an isle between the two continents, along the narrow land bridge that runs east to west. It is the site of the Dragon Nest that gives the Empire its name. The few that remain are asleep, hiding in dark chasms, or in roiling rivers of lava to keep them warm. Valerian is the only man to ever befriend them, and they made his passage to Empire far smoother than protracted wars would have done.

    Kadasandra is a city of waterways, canals, locked and quayed; its beauty is astonishing. The Emperors hold the Titular powers of both east and west Empire, and perform a game of wafting and wending balance as the might of the Emperor is brought to bear. The city ends at the last part of the each land bridge, in the twin fortresses of Eastwatch and Westwatch, and their powerful Navy lies in the Isle of Fleet. They play a strategic game, arrayed against the forces of both east and west, leaving the tactics to the Wardens of East and West - Lian Sanda in the West and Palantine in the East.

    Kadasandra bolsters these two halves with whatever it can, and the Imperial Guard number in the thousands, so their aid can be significant. Often they can convince the Void Temple to aid the East and West, and Kadasandra's Dragonthrone is hugely vital to the continued legacy of Valerian.





    Naugiri Orcs - The Erutile Diluvians


    FACTION UNITS

    Held back for the Warcast

    LORE

    THE APPEARANCE OF THE NAUGIRI AND THE SACKING OF ANHRIDAHL
    When the naugiri first appeared, they came as a wave over a tiny island. From the South west of the continent known as 'The Broken Crescent', they came, rushing headlong into war. A small shift in the Dragons' dreams, a movement of a lazy limb, a reaction to the Ildiris' fashioning of the southern polar cap...it could have been many things, but they awoke. A piece of night crackled with light, and the Naugiri came forth.

    In their tens of thousands, they smashed headlong into the Southern Wheel. Here lay three kingdoms of man. Pre-eminent amongst them was ANhridahl, a highly evolved, cultured kingdom, ruled benevolently by a wise king.

    In three years, they were undone. The neighbouring realms were obliterated, but their survivors gathered in this final throne. To the north lay all the lands of the 'Broken Crescent', but here stood the greatest amongst men, and they were utterly undone. Fighting hard, they managed to slowly retreat from holding after holding; as each fell, the exodus grew. Briefly they challenged the Naugiri, as the neighbouring kingdoms' survivors added their weight, but ever they were pushed back. There were battles won, but no war to win. Finally, they broke, and they were driven to the unexplored land to the north west, the ice region known as Iryn Thaan. In a long train, the last of the people fled ever forwards, many dying in the snow and cold, as their armies sought to buy them time.

    For six months they marched, and thousands perished, but they finally gained entry to a snow cavern, discovered by exhausted scouts, and here they built their sole residence, fashioned of cyclopean stone and ice blocks, they fashioned a new realm, and when the final elements of the army were pulled back, the Naugiri did not follow. AT first. When they did they were met by ice, steel and the ferocity of men turning as cornered rats. They assaulted the city and were hurled back. Elsewhere, the Naugiri moved to new wars, but here, they were stalled at last. They gathered a tide of DIluvian Warriors and prepared engines of war. Gathering fifty thousand they gathered to strike one last blow. This was when the miracle happened.

    As the Naugiri charged the walls, ice pits opened, huge icicles fell as blades; the very ice itself came forth to defend it's newest Sons. From the ground came the Ice Weirds - massive creatures of moving ice and stone, fed by ley, as all avatars are. From the north came the Setept Ferakine; the Ice Leopards, snow bears, all manner of creature, to strike the orcs as they surrounded the walls, and from the graveyard disturbed by the building of the city, Nameless, came the Dust Host; the Eidolon of the Demigod, Blade, and his brother, the DawnRazor. A fierce battle was fought, and, at the end, the Orcs limped home, smashed by all three foes, utterly demoralised and defeated by things that made no sense. After one battle, the new Kingdom of Iryn Thaan stood proud, and the three forces met in feast after, and made pacts stronger than the bond between body and soul.

    Naugiri Ley
    The use of Ley by Naugiri and Rhysthari is very different to the elves.

    Where the levs use Ley itself as a weapon, and to heal and alter things in reality, it is fairly subtle and well woven. The Naugiri use a very raw form of channeling - it still returns the Ley to the Dragon after use, but it is more used to manipulate physical objects rather than as a direct application of magic.

    An example of this are their Ley weapons. Where the elves simply concentrate magic is such a tight mesh that it tears apart what it strikes, the Naugiri's main weapon is the Sky Shredder, used to strike ground targets and air targets. They take hundreds of shards of metal and encase them in a Ley 'net'. When fired, it spins at great speed...as it moves, the ley unravels until it busts, sending thousands of shards to annihilate whatever is in it's range. They also make carapaces, which won't be in this mod I doubt. Here they make a metal case in the shape of whatever they need it for - common uses are as troops carriers, or burrowing carapaces...they build the 'statue' of the carapace, then bind runes of Ley into which animate it and give it it's 'mind' so it performs it actions correctly.

    Their sorcerers are normally Goblyns. You have the harpies and gargoyles; flying goblyns, that have ley infused gloves that fire shards of metal; you have crossbow like weapons that fire tiny balls of ley-net. Positive use of magic for the Naugiri is limited. They are the prefect 'Symbiotic-Predator', with very little use for anything that is not to help them kill. Don't mistake them as evil; they're a VITAL part of the Dragon's eco-system, not evil, but humans perceive them this way, as you would do if all you ever saw of them was a tide of death. SO basically, the elves have a very wide use of Ley, the naugiri have a very narrow use of it, but as a tool for killing, the Naugiri use it far more inventively and possibly with the least effort.

    The Diluvians
    The Naugiri emerged from massive shifts in the Dragon's body; earth shattered - rivers bent and mountains crumbled, leaving great cracks in the rocky lands far from the Eastern Continent. From this emerged the Naugiri; great hulking figures moved from the dust, armoured in gold, their hands grasping great ragged blades as they swarmed free. Some called them Elves, but these were the predators of the Dragopn's body, and they had been viewing the spread of humanity, the ravages of the Khezdruli, and the Elves inability to do anything about it.

    The Naugiri are symbiotic predators; they exist to destroy parasitic elements on the Dragon. Beneath the surface of the plant, they had long guarded the body of the Dragon against underground threats, and had long since wiped out most of what lived there in a parasitic form. Now they turned their attentions to the surface - it was not for nothing that they were unleashed, for the Dragon shuddered and itched from the abuses that were being carried out by the new races.

    Hundreds of thousands of them emerged, wave after wave, and they crushed the humans they found; the proud Kingdom of Bethaladrin in a consistent war. They chased them to the city of metal and Ice, raised long ago by the Dead to contain an Infection from the Abyss that was burning into the Dragon's flesh. Here the Naugiri met defat, but they had slaughtered an entire land, the strongest of all human lands, and the slow elimination of these 'Iryn Than' could take it's time; time to the Naugiri was not a factor in their duties, for they had existed as long as the Elves, just in a different way, a different role, and they could wait for eternity. When the Infected were thrown from much of the world, the Naugiri had fought them below the surface, finding great swathes of Infected gnawing at the body of the Celestial Dragon, eating at it's restless form. Now they were gone. All was done and they would not return there.

    The Naugiri knew of the threat that the Haladin posed; they sensed their magic at play, knew the Abyss was listening and waiting, and the urgency in their mission was increasing, so they gathered their strength, and they moved half of their lands west, to crash an entree section of the egg's surface into the Empire of Valerian, smashing it into the land of Duinir, in a desperate attempt to get to the Haladin. Instead, they met the Empire, and their nature forced them to attempt to eradicate this threat, as they seemed to be intent on protecting the Haladin (of course, they simply defended themselves against an unknown threat) from the Naugiri. Thus their task became the eradication of all parasites from the area, not just the Haladin.

    On the Eastern continent, the EMpire fought them. Three great Naugiri hosts entered the Eastern EMpire, whilst a fourth struck at the Haladin.

    The first force of Naugiri struck through Duinir, to the north of the Sea of Grass. Progress was swift, but they met the combined armies of Duinir, Dalthrasia, Telmior and the Karesi, reinforced by the Imperial Guard Legions. These they met at the borders of the Sea of Grass in the north, and their host was beaten, scattered, turned back.

    To the South of the Sea of Grass, they struck deeply. Setantana, Warden of the East, held them at last in the province of Saladir, but he had withdrawn the garrisons from the Sun Kingdom to match them, and the SUn King revealed himself, leading the Rebellion that freed his people. Setantana beat them here, in a fashion. More likely is that they didn't expect him to appear with the force he did, and their confusion was confounded by the lack of Goblyns in their force; for Goblyns were the leaders of the Naugiri hosts, small but agile, intellectually supreme, they were mostly intent on the attack on the Haladin, and the attack to the north, which they knew would meet a sizeable resistance. Setantana fought them to a standstill, and they were naive - they knew that the SUn King had gathered on his border and suspected humans to stand together, but they were wrong, and they fell back. Naivety about the parasites led to this defeat.

    To the south of that, the Naugiri had plunged through Atakash, which simply retreated everything into their high walled cities, blocking nothing of their approach. The host fell upon the Federation, hitting them hard, and they crushed the first force they met utterly. They overextended themselves though, and the Federation had butchered the land of forests, metals, stone, anything, slaughtering the Avatars as enemies of the State and all manner of non-humans were dead or in detention. Nothing was here to sustain the Naugiri, for the feasted on Nature itself, and they were struck by WOlfborn, Federation and Ashapuran elements, again and again, and were weakened by their surroundings. They needed no food, no sustenance beyond the natural world's presence, and this was no longer here, so they broke and ran back to the north.

    The last drive had been into the Earthspire, against the Haladin. This was a disaster, for the Haladin unleashed the full brunt of Blood Magic on them. The Clans of the Cimrai in the vales below the Fortresses of the Iudruul, hit them hard, as their warriors were fierce, as fierce as the Naugiri, and were fought to a standstill, then struck by the Abyssal magics of the Iudruul, they were sent into a confused retreat. The first attacks on humanity in the East were a disaster, but this was no deterrent to the Naugiri, for they are the Diluvians, the Flood of Cleansing that the Dragon desired them to be.

    Since this, they have bred a new force, have gathered their own magics and they have had time to study the humans here. They have brought their great Rune Carapaces from the other lands they took, and the Goblyns have managed to bring the more reckless elements to heel - for the first attacks were not made with any thought save slaughter. This, the Goblyns have rectified. They have built for war, and they have tested the DUinir Wardens endlessly, breaking their lines in battle, sending armies through them, into the EMpire, testing their response. They have learned that not all humans stand together, and they know the political situation, have seen how to exploit it, and they are prepared for war on their terms.

    The Diluvians are the main force behind the Naugiri faction; they are the foot soldiers of the Orcs, mostly bulky troops, dressed in oddly crafted gold armour, as heavy as Dwarven arms, but confined only to certain parts of the body, as the Naugiri are actually quite athletic in combat - they seem tireless, and their speed of movement belies their bulk. The heavy armour seems to not affect them greatly, but it is confined to vital areas in the main. Formed of an odd golden metal, it hums softly constantly, and has a degree of magnetism to it - the unwary can lose a metal blade to a piece of armour, as this magnetic property can tear it from their weary hands.

    The Diluvians do also have lighter warriors amongst them - the Red and Black Hands are differing in their approaches, but they are not heavily armoured and operate to some form of ritualistic combat - much like an art rather than simple prowess at slaughter.

    Amongst the orcish Diluvians number other forms of warrior. They have a form of Uthghaat, or Troll, much as do the Dwarves amongst their allies in places, but these are bitter foes. The Trollwyns are strange little creatures - diminutive they terrifying vicious, they swarm around and under their massive Brood Mothers, spilling out in a scything attack around Her, only to rush to safety once again. On occasion, you will find one of the Crones amongst their forces; a towering figure of dank hair and skin like cracked stone, they can unleash massive bursts of magic in raw displays of power; whilst from their masses of hair come small flying creatures with razor sharp bone growths that allow them to cut at foes before they swarm back into her hair.

    Then, there are the Rune Carapaces. These are incredible creations, matching Gnomes in ingenuity, possibly overwhelming them in power. They have Goblyn women amongst their number who practice with Moraena Runes - these are strange metallic objects that are capable of being infused with Ley magic, but this magic is drawn not from the Dragon, but from the creatures themselves. It is drawn not through any effluence, such as blood, but directly from their 'soul'.

    They charge these runes, each of which evidences differing properties based on ancient secrets, and then ready them to be applied to a Rune Carapace. From below the earth, there are massive sections of a chitinous substance, mixed with metallic sections that can be drawn together through magic and engineering, to form a 'carapace'. This is a strange form of mechanical insectoid engine. They choose different sections for differing task; some burrow beneath the earth, some can fly short distances like a juddering mosquito in all it's lack of grace. Others leap, some scythe through massive areas, some can stand on rear legs, to climb up even sheer surfaces - some bludgeon through fortifications, and they combine these abilities too.

    Many Carapaces carry soldiers inside them, and they are very difficult to subdue or destroy, for there is nothing to hurt; an opponent needs to either smash sections, or they can attack the Runehags themselves, which yields greater results. With metallic runes, the Hags weld them to sections of the Carapace, and each Hag will pour their essence of spirit into that single Rune to operate it's function. This way, these welded Runes may operate the Carapace in battle or in a domestic role - within the depths, Carapaces were vital to any work the Naugiri did, and now they prove to be vital to their massive war effort. A Carapace is massive and intimidating in the extreme.

    There is, of course, one possible weakness in these Runes, but it has not yet been tested; as they are born of magic, magic may well be able to undo them, unravel their Ley, much as channellers in combat do to each other - even as one strikes, another will unravel the Ley, causing it to split into threads and dissipate. There is a chance this will unweld the runes or at least make them dormant.

    The Naugiri will be very hard to truly represent, but there are ways to attempt even the weirder stuff. Certainly the soldiers of the faction are doable, big or small or in whatever form, but they have many odd ones too.

    Naugiri artillery is a marvel, but a lethal mess if it is poorly managed. Their main artillery types are SKyshredders and Scattershard Cannons. Skyshredders protect the vulnerable from aerial attacks - previously they were able to aim at any angle under the earth, but they have adapted them to tears through the skies, as the Empires' Spurhawks were terribly efficient at first.

    The method they use is ingenious. They are not great master smiths, but more simply effective. They gather shards of metal; often shavings from their daily work, and then treat them - the worst kind are treated with a Phosphorous coating. Once treated, they draw them in nets that will be torn apart as they are fired from artillery pieces. The cannon gathers Ley, and builds a field around the shards, which magically contains them, then it fires them at great velocity, starting a spinning motion which builds to a blinding speed of revolution. The field dissipates as it travels, and they are charged in the cannon until the gunners estimate the field will hold over the desired distance to their foes. WHen it finally shatters, the shards are sent spinning at massive velocity from the centre of the Ley 'sac', tearing through everything in their path. They have brought even Carapaces down by mistake.

    The one problem is that the Ley net CAN go horribly wrong. There have been many battles where the net has torn itself apart soon after being fired, and tales abound of Naugiri units decimated by this. Most see it as a potential hazard rather than worry overly about it, as they are devastating weapons when they work.


    -----

    I'll try to return to explain their society...of the Goblyns with their winged Goblyn-lords, the male gargoyles that scatter in the skies, and their mates, the harpies. These are the greatest of the Goblyns, and some of the few suited to direct warfare. I'll also explain Rune Carapaces, cos they're pretty cool.

    NOTE: the accounts of separate races on the same incidents may well differ, as I try to make it come a little from their viewpoint, and their 'facts' differ from other factions versions, just like real life. The Naugiri not seeing division between humanity is one example - they don't differ with each other, so they thought humans didn't either.

    -----

    Now, THIS is a right pig (and a half, or twice or more).

    Deep amongst the darkness, in the folds where the Dragon's scales move and expand, there is another world. A world of lightless cold, or of flowing blood in steaming masses, where strange moulds grow, where beetles run skittering from safety to safety, some seized by things in the dark, crunching, grinding. In this world, there was no balance. There was no meaning to life within, nothing guiding or protecting, and here there was more danger of infection than from the land above the armour of the Dragon. Lidless eyes watch all ways, creatures bend sound to their own use, and there are Catchers in the Dark. It was a world that needed something; as above, so below, and thus the Naugiri were born.

    Some say they were never there, others that they must have been Dwarves who were not brought to light by the Celesti, left to grow into what they would have finally been. It is doubtless that the Elohim have some idea, or even full knowledge, but they are as silent as ever, and there are none who can truly translate their libraries or breach their depositories, as none were ever meant to.

    The Naugiri are considered by most as the 'elves' of the Underweald, the caretakers of the Dark below the Mother Dragon's bathing light. They are there for the same purpose that Elves above exist for; to make the Dragon birth successfully, and they fight a silent war deep under the surface, fighting unknown foes, dying in droves as they kill any sign of the 'Accursed', which those above call the Infected.

    Somewhere, this balance, of Above and Below, broke, and the Naugiri came out of their deeps, flooding into the lands of the races above. In the far lands, they broke out, heaving from the earth, to spill ina mass upon the surface. Whislt they still warred below, they found a new threat, forthey are more simplistic than Elves. Their purpose is to protect and eradicate problems they find. They are the predators of the Dark, and they saw life the same way on the surface.

    They breeched the earth in the Kingdoms of men, and they took the measure of those about them. Something in them recognised the Elves for what they were. Dwarves confused them, and the bright lights of their Ley weapons burned them, reeling in a new sensation; fear. This was not to last forever, but their attention was drawn to those more directly accessible; Humanity, the Grand Parasite.

    SO they began their duties in this new world by finding the humans guilty of being alive; alive when they shouldn't be so, and therefore needed to die for what was fitting for their previous world. Sadly, they were not meant to find the surface, not meant to live in this world of difference, and their duties below had no meaning or correlation with the world above. They simply saw the humans, judged them and tore them apart.

    Hundreds of thousands of the Naugiri broke free, and they struck the kingdoms around them. The course they pursued was the end of the humans who would become the Iryn Thaan, much as other remnants became Dur-Thaan and the Seryn-Thaan, all fleeing before a terrifying foe that could not be bargained, with, parleyed with, pleaded with. They were overborne by this flood, this Diluvian Host that was the Naugiri Emergent.

    The greatest of the Naugiri mystics were the Crones, massive creatures that stood forty foot from ground to head, their hair alive with harpies and gargoyles, fleets of them swirling around the hideous visage of the creature that was the Crone. Many of them gathered, even as the kingdoms of men dissolved around their breech sites, nd they broke their conquered lands, sending a huge shard crashing west, to smash into the lands of Duninir, in the Eastern Empire. We follow what happened after.

    Nuts, I'll carry on in a second post. Just easier. I keep doing it in bits because I've been bitten by the entire-post-dying bug too many times...

    In the Imperial East, the men of Duinir saw the new mountains literally appear before them in just a few hours. The land was torn and bent, as the Naugiri crashed headlong into their forests. Overnight, the forests of Duinir were ravaged, a fifth of the woodlands were ripped to pieces, settlements taken with them; one village was left alive, to find mountains rising just metres from their perimeter, houses standing just metres from broken shards of earth. Not one villager was killed, but they were unready for what followed.

    Burning houses, fields aflame, this marked the Naugiri onslaught after the continents collided. They swept into Duinir, barely pausing. Armies ravaged Dalthrasia, orcs breached the Earthspine; into the lands of the Haladin; they flooded under the Sea of Grass and even broke through further south to the Federation. In one swift attack, they thought to overwhelm a race. Humanity was lucky, for they underestimated the cohesion of the Empire. Eosse Satanta, Warden of the East, reacted swiftly, abandoning the garrison of The Sun Province, bringing forces to bear on the trail of the Orc host passing through to the Federation. He hit the force south of the Sea of Grass, and their lines of supply were shredded. It worked differently on the surface; here, you did not simply trap or kill single targets in a herd of beetles, you farmed, and kept and grew. Supplies were never a problem. Here they learned the hardest way - defeat was bitter, but the Warden of the East had given the Sun King the time to rebel, and overwhelm what garrison he had left. These Legions were allowed to leave the lands of the Salient Sun, a civilised approach, and he was glad for it, as he knew the Naugiri were not simply done with his land.






    The Pawn Saints - The Principality of Steel


    FACTION UNITS







    LORE

    Bishop Horse
    The Bishop's Horse use Khezdruli Clockwork Crossbows, made for them when the warriors of Cho Tetsu attacked a Dwarven weapons shipment in the first invasion by their people into Principality territory. It brought the Dwarves into a short war with Cho Tetsu, which resulted in their being ejected from the main continent. During the war, they brought repeating Clockwork Crossbows, as they were experimenting with their use. The Khezdruli were supplying the Prince with the plate armour they still use today, as their own smiths were making plate of a far lesser quality, and the Prince's immediate guard and the Queen's Innocence required top-quality armour. The Cho Tetsu attack was made through an ignorance of how the mainland was in it's workings. They have since rectified this, and their latest invasion is far more targeted and made with a different purpose - that of limiting the 'allied' response of the Principality's neighbours.

    Principality Politics, and Indoctrination into the Empire

    The Principality of Steel is split into two halves, both of which have an uneasy relationship with the other. In the south live the Prince and his Court; a Feudal society.

    The Prince holds direct power over several areas, including the Chequered City itself and some of the southern Fiefs; he also holds sway over some of the mid north, and nominal lordship over the Fennweyr in the north. He has a large professional force based in and around the Chequered City, and has the right to call upon the Barons of the Principality, although there are rifts within the state, and many of the Feudal Lordlings constantly bicker amongst themselves, with a few challenging the Prince's rights under the feudal laws.

    In the East, the Barons are the most independent, and the Barons of Applegate has often been at the centre of many internal problems, but this is normally due to his family's strong stance on right and wrong within the Principality of Steel. They hold lesser military status, with fewer knights than elsewhere, but their levies are large and strong.

    The Prince occupies the highest status, with his most eminent peers being the Bishop Palatine, the Lord of the Tower and the Queen herself. The Council of Nobles consists of 14 Lords and Barons, the Bishop, the Lord of Towers (the Marshall of the Realm, commander of the Prince's armies) and the Prince. His wife is the Queen; a title that is more titular than possessive of true power, but she does command a sizeable personal fortune and a small military elite. Several Queens have been executed in the past, and the laws were changed to give her some protection, in the form of the knights of the Queen's innocence, as any of noble blood has the right to prove their innocence in any crime by Rite of Combat. The Queen's Innocence are certainly the best soldiers in the entire realm.

    There is a another section of society within the Principality. This is deep within the wilds of the north....the place they call Fennweyr. Here, the control the Prince exhibits over the Feudal system is not apparent in the slightest. In Fennweyr live the Heath Clans, who worship different gods and are led by the Fennweyr Druids, who have forged bonds with the creatures and spirits of the Moors; the avatars and creatures of Fey nature that live in the haven afforded by the dense forests, heath-lands and bogs that offer sanctuary to their kind.

    Many times have there been wars between the south and north, for the Clans tend to be far more independent than the Barons, as they possess self reliance that does not exist in the Prince's lands. These wars are usually started by a Prince who craves more control over his realm, and often end is stalemate or disaster - some claim they fight these wars to keep their armies from losing their honed skills through lack of practice.

    The Clans do agree to send tribute, and they agree to aid the Prince in conflicts that involve an enemy invasion into the Realm, but they possess some free will over expansionist wars, as they are less inclined to partake in them by their very nature.

    Valerian brought the Principality into the Empire during the most bitter war known in the Principality of Steel. The Fennweyr Druids had led their people to several victories, in several set-piece battles, and the Prince at that time was holding them back through sheer will. Valerian offered to end the conflict in return for nominal obedience to his Empire by the Prince. The Prince was forced to agree, as the risk to his rule was severely threatened.

    Valerian, clever man that he was, sent forces to support the Prince's armies, but travelled into Fennweyr himself, where he calmed the Druids through promises of protection and the instigation of rights in the succour of the Empire - he would guarantee them their culture and their deepest lands' way of life, offering Imperial support should this be broken. He gave this message to the Prince, who agreed, as the dictates of this agreement were simply not savagely demanding. He was informed that the Empire would fight to defend the north should future Princes break the agreement, and the Fennweyr forces disbanded, to return to their homes. Thus Valerian conquered the Principality - he offered protection to both sides, should their agreements fail, and had set the treaties up in a way that would mean that only one side could breach them at a time. A garrison force was instated in the East, rather than occupy settlements in the interior and breed resentment, and the land settled.

    Future Princes seemed to spend much of their time attempting to get around their obligations to the Empire, but this itself helped the realm settle. As the world plunges towards an unknown future, the Prince begins to wonder whether the treaty with the Empire still holds any positivity for his people, or whether he should rebel, as did the Sun King in the east. Times are uncertain, and the future is unreadable. A rebellion but the Prince would sow further ruin within the Empire, who act as one of the only stabilising forces within the world. If the Prince chooses independence, then it would further the possibility of the Empire's destruction, with little gain for the world; even the Prince may lose in this case, as Fennweyr would surely respond.

    The Principality and Cho Tetsu
    Throughout the annals of history, the realm of the Prince of Steel and Cho Tetsu have known internecine war. Many times has Cho Tetsu invaded the southern fiefs of the Principality, claiming rights to it's rule, as they have controlled it many times since Cho Tetsu's founding, which pre-dates the forming of the Principality. It keeps the lords of Cho tetsu focussed in warfare, and gives them some freedom from their massively complex political struggles within the island chain they have taken as home.

    As the current years begin to unfold, Cho Tetsu has again assaulted the South, and they control fortifications of note, bringing thousands of their troops onto the mainland. This in itself may well dictate the near future of the Eastern continent, as their victory would perhaps sew some form of unity between the Prince and the Emperor. Whatever the case, Cho Tetsu has committed more troops to this incursion than ever before, and amongst them are warriors of the Temples of Flowers and those of many organisations that have previously remained aloof in foreign affairs.

    Should this continue, the armies of the island realm could even threaten the Chequered City itself.

    Brief History of the Principality

    The Principality of Steel is an odd faction. In the South, the majority of the kingdom's populace live, sequestered in great stone towns and cities, living under a Feudal obligatory society, their fates entwined with those of the lords that rule them, some for the better, some for the worse; as with all societies like this, there are lords who are benevolent and those who are tyrannic, and the people suffer or bask in the rule of their lords. In the grand Chequered City, the Prince and his court reside, an aloof presence, yet a comforting one, for people know their care lies ultimately in a Prince chosen by the Trueblade - the main Cult of the Principality, geared towards war and honour, but it is the honour that people respect and rely on. There have been cases in the past where lords who go too far have been stripped of their position and sometimes even hanged for their depredations. In such cases, their title is passed to the nearest relative, who generally behaves for some time after this.

    Some hundreds of years ago, when the Principality was first settled, the lords were shown a game by the people of Cho Tetsu, who were more advanced in their culture; Tlass. It was a game where strategy of war was played out on a board, where a King (or the Cho Tetsu equivalent - the Emperor) commands troops in the field, represented by knights, footmen (Pawns) and martial troops of various religions. There were archers, cavalry and footmen, and this complex game was played without any random elements, thus was considered the height of intellect and a test of honour, as the player could win by sacrificing his lower soldiers in horrific ways, or he could try a million different way of tireless methods to win.

    The Chequered City began it's evolution, and of the kingdom itself, when this game became more and more important. The Princes built a huge chequered board for games of Tlass, which they referred to as 'The Game of Saints', and used real people to represent pieces, sometimes ordering the to fight with wooden weapons to take away the random edge, and even to end disputes between noble houses. They slowly expanded this, and soon 6 boards of marble were constructed, and the military became constructed around this pattern. It gave their lords bloodless tactical experience in 'war', and they proved this in battles in the north, against the bordered states in the east, and against Cho Tetsu as it probed the coastal defences and blooded it's men against the Prince's armies.

    The Chequered city began to grow, and became a mighty Capital, fit for Kings. As they had taken the Trueblade as their 'King', man could not ascend above the title Prince, but he, and then nobles themselves, were considered to have been 'ordained' by their god, fortifying their positions in society; the new introduction of militant 'Bishops' and their Episcapalian Horse Troops, after the fashion of Tlass made this complete, and their society ceased developing further, as it seemed 'perfect'. Each noble House had it's own armed forces, and could call on it's peasant servitors to join their armies as 'Pawns', like in their games. There were internal conflicts between houses, and they were largely overlooked, unless they seemed to be detrimental to the realm - usually squabbling over hamlets and resources, or names and bastard children with a potential 'claim' to a House, supported in arms by another House.

    About a hundred years ago, the Princes turned their eyes north - Cho Tetsu had not invaded for some thirty years and they grew tired on minor conflicts; nothing would satisfy the realm than expansion, or just war for the sake of it, and they laid claim to the northern heaths, which turned into mired lands and deep Moors. The Prince of that time, Katalas 'Ironheart', led a fully levied army of twenty thousand men north and demanded the oath of fealty from his subjects amongst the Heath and Moor Clans. Hoping for war, he got his wish, but not in the form it came upon him. The Clans gathered their forces, hundreds of small family clusters and small settlements sending their men to fight, and a larger host than expected faced the Prince. What came next was what marked the conflict further, for the beasts and creatures of the north came to their aid of their brethren. Strange Fennweyr Druids brought an army of oddities with them. These creatures were called 'Mythics', and they came in their hundreds - fauns, Satyrs, Firs, Ettins of the heaths, talking beasts of unnatural size and worse came to stand with their allies, and the war took a sour turn for the Prince.

    The Battle of Sedgewyg was fought early in the day, soon after dawn bathed the fields in blood. The Prince's forces attacked the lines of their foes, and the Household Knights smashed through the centre in wedges, driving through them and out of the other side, but were fallen upon by the bests, the Mythics, and withdrew after suffering heavy casualties. However, this valiant action almost won the day, as the Tower Knights and Pawn Levies followed up to punish the Clansmen, who fought virtually unarmoured. Had they been the main enemy, they would have been slaughtered, but they fought ferociously, and their allies drove into the Tower Knights, even as the Bishops' Horse showered with bolts from their deadly crossbow, only to ride away when the foe threatened them and shoot again. The day was considered a draw, but both sides had suffered terribly. It was at the end, when both forces withdrew from exhaustion, that the other Mythics arrived. Great Gryphons drooped from the skies, and bands of stranger creatures arrived. These were of greater intellect than the Clansmens' allies, and believed in higher purpose, so they chose to fight for the Prince.

    On the second day of battle, these creatures made the difference. Gryphons bore the Prince and his favoured knights to battle, and their charge was devastating. In three hours, they broke the clans, who turned and fled north, harassed and slaughtered by the Prince's cavalry and new allies. Three days later, the Clans sent a group to parley, and they agreed to a basic fealty, upon which they would send men to aid the Prince and pay tithes to him for perpetuity. The treaty was uneasy at best, but the Prince had won, and gained allies; the Gryphons decided to stay and they became a Royal Guard unit, cherished deeply by their Prince.





    The Rhysthari Lizard Folk - Tainthealers of Ispir


    FACTION UNITS

    NONE TO BE SHOWN YET!

    LORE

    What Are Rystheri?/War With Ghaur/Military
    Separate from the elves, yet so similar, the Rysthari are a unique force on the Dragon's body. They use natural Ley in the air, spillovers from the power racing along the nodes, processing it and expending it, then channeling it into the nodes, replenishing them and healing the loss. They came after the war against the Khezdruli to repair the nodes plundered by the Dwarves, and ran headlong into the Infected as they poured from the halls of the dead, spilling out into the lands around, revelling in their forms even as flesh warped and bone twisted their forms into the 'correct' form that creature chose to take.

    In short, the Rysthari are the greatest healers, both to other races and to the Dragon's body. They care for and protect both and small bands of them wander in the shadows performing their sacred duties in shadow and silence. In their swamps, they are masters of all life, and the fecund mires give birth to much of use to them. Their cities lie half sunken, altars raised to feel the passing of ley and pinpoint areas of damage.

    When the Ghaurchlai attacked the Empire, they sent a huge army under Katathrax, a Warpscreamer Revenant of massive distortive powers. The army was damaging the swamps and were to slip through Nidon Hal to penetrate behind enemy lines and assault the Swan Kingdom before any reaction to the war could be taken. They did not take into account the Rysthari, as most have made the mistake of doing on many occasions. Katathrax was devoured by a Mire Titan; an avatar of such power that nothing can contain it, yet it lies trapped with the swamps of nidon hal. Even as he died, the raids they had suffered on the marsh became a mass of Lizard-kin, Avatars and behemoths of the more fetid areas of the deepest march.

    The entire battle was over in minutes. Ghaurchlai were torn from mounts, ripped from the sky by massive tentacles or grappled and pulled below the waters and slime. One hundred thousand Ghaurchlai began their journey into Nidon Hal. Three weeks later maybe 2000 found their way back the Nest, their tales enough to make the Ghaur never attempt such a feat again.

    There are more than just Lizards in the Rysthari host. Many creatures, natural and avatar, dwell with them, and many hold pacts of alliance that sees Nidon Hal defended to any invasion. Massive magics would have to be forged to even begin to breach it's defences and penetrate it's flood of secrets. Only the Lindiri and Ildiri hold any form of relationship with the Rhysthari, but they say that Void Knights have visited them and been found worthy. It is said that their secret chambers hold much knowledge that the Swamp Folk have passed on, but much of this is likely beyond mortal understanding.

    Whilst Nidon Hal IS their only true land, there are Rysthari in most of the mires and swamp, no matter how small. Rumours persist of their presence within Ildiri lands, of teachers at the Void Temple and of a pact forged by one of the fallen emperors of old, although what this was has evaded most if not all that attempt to plumb the depths of the Rystharis' psyche.

    The Swamp Kingdom is a worthy opponent. They left their lands during the Ghaur war, to aid Valerian and the Void Knights, but few if many marked them at Saden Fields. Elsewhere, there is vague mention of their presence, but many attribute this presence to roaming Ghaur

    Account of trader Maran Arnford; who visited one of the cities of Rhysthari…
    Rhysthari, the swamp-dwelling lizard-folk, and their various friends, charges and allies, house themselves deep within their beloved swamps. The outer areas of the Swamp are fecund - fostering many life forms, not all of which are under 'control' by any means. There are things that live in Nidon Hal that even the Rhysthari tread carefully around.

    In the 'deep' or central swamps, the beasts that occur tend to be large and more sedate, although they will not tolerate intruders unless invited there. Amongst their weaving forms lie the homes of the Rhysthari - the deep-thinking, philosophical lizard-folk that are the greatest healers in existence; it is said there is no wound to man, beast or world that they cannot cure, and their knowledge is firmly locked away in the swamps and the cities of the Rhysthari.

    Here follows an account of the Imperial trader, Maran Arnford; a man who was allowed to visit one of the ziggurat cities of the Rhysthari - for reasons he never explained, even on his death-bed when pressed by large quantities of money for his 'secrets'.

    'The ragged boat finally drew us through some of the densest foliage yet; a grey, twisted tree type that hang dank with trailing seed-pods and let off strange vapours; vapours that made me want to sneeze and yet further made me the calmest I had ever felt then or since.

    In the water, at a dangerous looking angle was the top of a ziggurat, maybe 30 metres high out of the water - I was to find out quite how deep this structure was, after spending days in this damned chamber they sat me in, leaving me with a one-eyed lizard who's brains had been pickled for the last thirty years. The stench of the slime on his body was repulsive, yet I felt no sickness from it - the air was of such cool and purity that the stench meant nothing. Thank the gods.

    The top of the structure was all metal...solid copper, with silver and gold filigree; beautifully detailed work, with many scenes, some of which were allegedly predictions of a thousand years ago; yet to be proven, if they ever were to be so - of course, my thoughts on predictions area little less sacrosanct, but there is something about that place and those images that haunts me.

    Finally, they motioned me into the water, then mimed holding their breath and swimming down. They took my hand and literally dragged me under. I had no idea how fast or far we went, but each time I thought I would die, they dragged me sharply into some strange foliage structure; here they had trapped air, and my head burst into reality again, for me to suck gasps of air into my laboured lungs, before they dragged me down again.

    As we travelled - admittedly, not straight downwards - I began to see the rest of the ziggurat; it was immense, massive, ALL of it lined in these beautiful carvings, lit by a fuel that seemed to be able to burn underwater. Everywhere I looked were Lizard folk, and I saw the mass of enormous creatures pass by in the distance.

    Eventually, they dragged me to the last of the air pockets. They made motions with their hands that left me clueless, then unceremoniously dragged me down quickly, to be pulled under the ziggurat, to emerge in the centre , through a hole that allowed access to the city within the shell; a whole city was actually inside this thing, with but one entrance, and that was not somewhere a human could easily go.

    I emerged from the central pool, to be introduced to a stone room, lined with more carvings; a squalid grey stone was the matron of this place, but then, this was essentially the public entrance and wasn't designed to anything but utilitarian. Having spent quite some time down there with this idiotic creature I mentioned before, I was drawn up into the city. I will not say more than one thing about this; it was stunningly beautiful; jungle gardens, green lamps, the whole place lit up, with plants and flowers of enormous size cramming the streets and walkways. I mean, there must have been ten, twenty thousand of them in there, and I was greeted by every single one as I wandered down what must have been a town street - at this point I was still in the 'countryside' - I hadn't even come near the top levels and their wonders! For the life of me, I will never reveal what it was I did or beheld there, but it was the making of me, and the wisdom I encountered was stunning. We are nothing when help up against the Rhysthari - I doubt even the elves themselves are, to be frank.

    The Rhysthari are two things; they are there to heal and correct problems with the Dragon. Early on, they also learnt that they were needed to combat the 'infection', which was the first mass manifestation of the Cthonae. Since that event, they have split their use of magic two ways; the path of Life and Healing, and the path of Rejection.

    The path of life is the strongest use of White, Green and Blue Magic there is, woven in combination; they are also the only race able to separate the weavings of Ley colours...they can PREVENT say Black Ley from colliding with and destroying White Ley, commanding both to separate and walk the same path as separate powers.

    They can grow new rock, they can give months of sunlight to a dying plant is seconds, allowing it to heal and grow. The Lizards can call on what they term Ispir to create, reduce, blend, augment. Two trees grown together into one sickly tree can be moved aside to grow healthily. Where there is no water, they can simply create some. Where the Dwarves mine Ley Crystals, they stimulate growth of new clusters.

    The flip side of Rhysthari magic is the use of Ley as a weapon. The main users of this form of their magic are the El-Witches. They stand as the greatest foe of both the Cthonae and Ghaurchlai in this way. They can use Ley in warfare much as the elves do, but it is still not as incisive as such a tool as the elves use is.

    In war with the Abyss, they can interfere, disrupt and dissipate abyssal magic, which simply ceases to be. They can actually move along abyssal magic threads, running across them at speed, almost 'teleporting'. More to the point, they can nullify any abyssal use, can unravel their artillery and their teleporters, can blanket the field of battle in a peace that reduces any emotive magic of the Abyss; worse, they can cause FEAR in something that feels no emotion, making is so much more of a disrupting force to them. Anything the Abyss can send can be unravelled; they can even take creatures that have absorbed more than one body to make their host and unravel the bodies.

    Then there is Nidon Hal. It IS Magic. I won't go into that here, but a massive army Ghaurchlai tried to use the swamps as a shortcut to the Ildiri Kingdom and failed to understand the nature of the swamp.

    In the Deep Swamps there are things that are unmentioned anywhere, avatars that are behemothic, there are strange tentacled creatures and vast entities with rows of razor sharp teeth that rise a hundred feet above the fetid water, only to come crashing down to swallow entire companies of men and horses. Suffice to say that no Ghaurchlai left the swamp to bring news of any disaster that may have taken them, to sink silently into the silt to be devoured by the mass of carnivores and insects that swarm everywhere in Nidon Hal.

    Rystheri Architecture
    Rhysthari, the swamp-dwelling lizard-folk, and their various friends, charges and allies, house themslves deep within their beloved swamps. The outer areas of the Swamp are fecund - fostering many lifeforms, not all of which are under 'control' by any means. There are things that live in Nidon Hal that even the Rhysthari tread carefully around.

    In the 'deep' or central swamps, the beasts that occur tend to be large and more sedate, although they will not tolerate intruders unless invited there. AMonsgst their weaving forms lie the homes of the Rhysthari - the deep-thinking, philosophical lizard-folk that ae the greatest healers in existence; it is said there is no wound to man, beast or world that they cannot cure, and their knowledge is firmly locked away i n the swamps and the cities of the Rhysthari.

    Here follows an account of the Imperial trader, Maran Arnford; a man who was allowed to visit one of the ziggurat cities of the Rhysthari - for reasons he never explained, even on his death-bed when pressed by large quantities of money for his 'secrets'.

    'The ragged boat finally drew us through some of the densest foliage yet; a grey, twisted tree type that hang dank with trailing seed-pods and let off strange vapours; vapours that made me want to sneeze and yet further made me the calmest I had ever felt then or since.

    In the water, at a dangerous looking angle was the top of a ziggurat, maybe 30 metres high out of the water - I was to ffind out quite how deep this structure was, after spending days in this damned chamber they sat me in, leaving me with a one-eyed lizard who's brains had been pickled for the last thirty years. The stench of the slime on his body was repulsive, yet I felt no sickness from it - the air was of such cool and purity that the stench meant nothing. Thank the gods.

    The top of the structure was all metal...solid copper, with silver and gold filigree; beautifully detailed work, with many scenes, some of which were allegedly predictions of a thousand years ago; yet to be proven, if they ever were to be so - of course, my thoughts on predictions area little less sacrosanct, but there is something about that place and those images that haunts me.

    Finally, they motioned me into the water, then mimed holding their breath and swimming down. They took my hand a nd literally dragged me under. I had no idea how fast or far we went, but each time I thought I would die, they dragged me sharply into some strange foliage structure; here they had trapped air, and my head burst into reality again, for me to suck gasps of air into my laboured lungs, before they dragged me down again.

    As we travelled - admittedly, not straight downwards - I began to see the rest of the ziggurat; it was immense, massive, ALL of it lined in these beautiful carvings, lit by a fuel that seemed to be able to burn underwater. Everywhere I looked were Lizardfolk, and I saw the mass of enormous creatures pass by in the distance.

    Eventually, they dragged me to the last of the air pockets. They made motions with their hands that left me cluess, then unceremoniously dragged me down quickly, to be pulled under the ziggurat, to emerge in the centre , through a hole that allowed access to the city within the sheel; a whole city was actually inside this thing, with but one entrance, and that was not somewhere a human could easily go.

    I emerged from the central pool, to be introduced to a stone room, lined with more carvings; a squalid grey stone was the matron of this place, but then, this was essentially the public entrance and wasn't deisgned to anything but utilitarian. Having spent quite some time down there with this idotic creature I mentioned before, I was drawn up into the city. I will not say more than one thing about this; it was stunningly beautiful; jungle gardens, green lamps, the whole place lit up, with plants and flowers of enormous size cramming the streets and walkways. I mean, there must have been ten, twenty thousand of them in there, and I was greeted by every single one as I wandered down what must have been a town street - at this point I was still in the 'countryside' - I hadn't even come naer the top levels and their wonders! For the life of me, I will never reveal what it was I did or beheld there, but it was the making of me, and the wisdom I encountered was stunning. We are nothing when help up against the Rhysthari - I doubt even the elves themselves are, to be frank.



    Last edited by Shankbot de Bodemloze; March 19, 2014 at 04:49 PM.

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    Default Re: UNITS & LORE Preview part 2




    FACTIONAL UNITS and
    DEEPER LORE






    The Holts of the Khezdruli - The Three Kingdoms of Dwarves


    FACTION UNITS









    LORE

    What are the Khezdruli?
    The Khezdruli, often referred to as Dwarves, or the Unfinished, or, more viciously 'The Imperfect', are one of the first races that began awakening from the conception of the Dragon's Egg in physical matter - so, when the planet/world was at it's youngest, the elves, as they originally were, came into being, then were followed by the Dwarves

    Nobody is really absolutely sure on their purpose, but the Celesti found an anomaly developing INSIDE the body of the largest avatar on the planet in the early days - an entire mountain range was his form, as he curled around a massive bowl of water in a continent known as 'Xefeyr' to the Celesti. They went into it's body and retrieved these 'things', simply out of curiosity, and brought them screaming into life; a painful process by all accounts which seems to be justified, in some sense, by the rather high pain threshold the Khezdruli exhibit. The problem with what the Celesti did was that the new creatures were technically 'born early', and therefore incomplete, or not totally grown; they may have been a developing elf or could have been anything - the world as it stands shall never know in all probability. What's important is that the Dwarves show a specific failing that they term the 'Hunger'. This 'illness' dominates their lives to a degree, and caused a war between the elves in their entirety and the Dwarves, early on in their existence.

    This alone should determines some of their stubborn nature: The elves generally agree there were around 300 Khezdruli when first brought to the light; one record say 'three hundreds and two of the embryonic creatures were brought to light', but the Dwarves steadfastly argue that is was 303, and have done for thousands of years. When asked to produce evidence, they just say 'our records are our own', and mumble 'you wouldn't understand them anyway'.

    WHAT DO THEY LOOK LIKE?

    The Khezdruli are seldom, if ever, seen above ground without their armour or other ablative clothing on. Their natural form is a simple humanoid, yet short, stocky, immensely strong. Their skin is the colour of powdered rock, yet is lighter, fed by the blow that flows under the skin. Their skin is rougher than a humans, but not scaled or ridged like lizard-skin. Many feel that they are unattractive, but not repulsive in any way. Their eyes are normal sized, but slightly more round, orb-like than a humans almond shaped eyes. Their vision in daylight has never been good, but their night-vision is excellent, and zero-light vision is perfect; some concur that their zero-light vision is similar to a bat's, others that it just senses space and emptiness like we would a breeze and fills those areas that have something in them as 'non-empty'. As ever, the Khezdruli refuse discussion on any aspect of their physicality, even under torture. They have naturally thick hair, and it grows well underground, so many grow bushy mops of hair, some have beards, but some are just naturally hairless, like the Onnair.

    Dwarves bleed, they die, they age, they wither, but their birthing methods are the exceptional thing; they are, for want of a better word, 'made' by their parents. As said before, the Khezdruli were 'incomplete' as a species.

    KHEZDRULI MILITARY: The Dwarven military is a caste based system, but there is a high social mobility amongst the Dwarves; they take the aptitude of the young and grow it in the direction it was meant to be grown. A Mushroom herdsgnome manager can see his son become a mighty warrior, or his daughter an unsurpassed craftswoman, but once in those castes, they stay, and society is ordered around these strict castes. Dwarves love order and they live based on this simple fact.

    The military are highly prized, but now operate in two directions - 'Ancestral' units and the newer 'Oathbound' units, dating from the Treaty of Azraghaal in the dwarf-elf war. There are many of the former and fewer of the latter, but they are specialised in differing areas. The Oathbound troops rely LESS on Ley technology and more on skill and mobility, but the older units have massively powerful armour, enhanced by ley crystals, and they use this to deadly effect. Of course, the Oathbound units are supplemented by Gnomes more, because they are a newer invention and viewed with distaste by some of the old castes. This seems odd, considering their own rejection of ley, but it represents foward-thinking so is embraced.

    The Dwarves have their own honour system. The Ancestral Guard are primarily used to defend outside the gates to prepare the inner troops for defence; they may all die, but this is a great honour. Death in war is not viewed the same as men and elves. It is a true wonder to be ALE to give your lives for the race, and they are so heavily armoured that they usually hold the enemy up enough, considering the tight spaces, to allow the defence to organise before they are wiped out, and they gain much by doing this. Fighting to the Death is viewed as the greatest of aspirations, not something to be feared.

    Brief Khezdruli History
    The Fathers were born of rock, or so the Leysmith Keepers say. They brought our people through the walls of the Egg, and their strength smashed through tons of rock, to release us into the world of sunlight. With watering eyes, the young of the new race fell on their knees and gave thanks to the Fathers.

    We were taught in the open world, our Fathers the teachers, we the students. Under the stars, we learnt of words and numbers, and were given knowledge of angles and shapes. More than anything, these were the areas to which our questions drifted. Eventually the Fathers gave us materials, and like our young now, we played and whittled at rock and eventually made tools to scrape metals, then metal tools to work other substances, until they finally gave us fire. Fire was a tool of the Four, they told us, and that the use was of great responsibility. We should never misuse fire. And to this day, we haven’t.
    For many years after, we studied, then the Fathers let us see the Others. Other creatures like us, in the distance at first, then close up, then, finally we actually spoke to them. These Others were full of disdain for us, and their gaze often fell to our bodies, for we began to wear the things we made. They looked with envy at what we could do – for they could not do such things themselves.

    So, we began to move towards the great spires of stone, white coated, huge mountains of rock, for we sensed what lay beneath, and our thoughts travelled to the source of our need. We, the Khezdruli, needed to create, we needed metals, stone, crystal; all were needed to keep the fears at bay.

    We often dreamt of fear, of a gnawing hunger, of a need that had to be satisfied, of a loss that needed filling, and the only way was to create. And what better to create than the things we were doing? And to do that, we needed more metal, more stone, and the trinkets the Others envied were of crystal, pure and clear, some glowing with the lights of Sun and Moon, others with a liquid sense, swirling with colours of beauty.

    Thus, the Khezdruli, those you call ‘Dwarves’, burrowed, our tunnels mining deep into the mountains, to open veins of metal and precious elements, which we worked to understand and name, for the Others knew the names of animals and plants, but these wonders, the metals that melt in water, the one that burns in air..what did they know of them? Nothing. It was ours to call a name to these.

    Our Holds were beginning then, but we had no need to keep gates, or doors, for nothing ever threatened us, and we foolishly believed in our safety. For some reason, arguments with our Fathers began about now, and would lead to their departure in coming years.

    The mines expanded, and our refuse needed to go somewhere, so we open trenches in the valleys, and the ores we refined, then elements we had used and the wastes we created all needed to go out of the mountains. What else could we do? We had a right to our own destiny, and our choice was to create, to burrow, to build, to make things of beauty.

    Some of the Others began to visit, especially the Seldiri, as they were fascinated by our fires, and we traded like for like, and the Others brought things we could not make. They brought us molds that would grow in the dark, and we farmed them in the tunnels, for other living things could not survive there. AT first they tasted bitter and austere, but we grew to love them, and still survive on this fare.

    But then the Ildiri announced their proclamations on our way of life. They ordered us to cease our natural ways, and return to the surface, to learn and talk, and eat of the land. This was for them, not us, and, as we now called it, the Hunger was ever present. We never question WHY we Hunger. We just do. Build, create, fashion, polish; it drives us, but it makes such beauty possible, and no real harm is done.

    But the Ildiri grew angry, and the Seldiri left, the Lindiri began to pick at our outpost. Some even reported violence from the forest devils. It was after some years of this that they realised we would not cease. If they had bothered to ask, we would have told them our reasons, but we didn’t get the chance ourselves. They just came.

    Thousands of them poured into our Holds, and their blasts of light shredded our bodies. But we fought back. With tooth and nail we fought, and often with grasped statues and lumps of rock, we broke their bodies, and the dead piled high. In distant sections of our lands, the Smiths became warriors, and they drew plans of weapons that would kill as well as the Others’ beams and lights.

    The War continued, and we lost many Holds. They lost many people, but an ending was never in sight. We were evening the odds with our new implements of slaughter, but their weapons still outclassed ours, and the initial toll had been so high. It was time to end it, for peace, so we sent Azghal.

    Azghal went from the deeps and explained the plans we had. The Others talked and whined, but the Celestiri won that end of the peace. We would only delve as much as kept out Hunger away, never more, and would try to develop ways to limit what they called ‘the damage’ we ‘caused’. Upon our agreement, the war ended, and there were no more attacks. We could dissolve our dead and try to rebuild what we had lost. The Others let us keep all of our treasures, which was the greatest surprise of all our history. We have some respect for them, that they control such naked greed.

    The Developement of Ley
    The Outsiders, or Elves as they are sometimes known, used weapons of such awe in our great War that we had to try to learn their ways, to safeguard our future, we had to counteract their advantage. Somehow, they sucked it from the air, or ground. If ground, then we must be able to exert some use from it.

    In one Hold, the elves had forced us to leave, and we sent back Azghal and another to find the reason. For years, they searched the caves and tunnels, and found n’er a thing, but they did see that patrolling elven guards bowed to certain areas, and traps and suchlike were erected in one particular area. It was here, he used the elements that ate stone, and he finally uncovered a vein of crystal, crystal that glowed many colours and shapes could be seen as if one was dreaming.

    Stealing this crystal, he returned, and experiments were undertaken. For fifty years, the smiths worked, and finally drained part of the crystal to make a tiny mechanical toy move across a table. Here we had what the elves had feared we would get. We had what they called Ley, but in a form different to theirs, although we know nothing with any degree of certainty.

    Over time, the Warsmiths managed to divine more of this crystal. It could be split, and small parts taken from the whole. With meditation, a Leysmith could change the colour of the crystal to permanence, and the proximity could make a model have the characteristics of the crystal’s colour. The size of the crystal, the more that characteristic held thrall.

    From this point, it was short work to find the idea that would lead to our greatest works. Unfortunately, something interrupted our train of thought. The Infected.

    They came in waves, inhabiting the remains of those we entombed, biting, tearing, slavering. They killed in a frenzy, and their hissing filled our dreams. We have few records, but we know that we were forced to seal many Holds and the Ildiri filled them with water. Still they remain sealed, locations lost to time.
    *
    After the rebuild, the work began with the new-found power of Ley, as the elves called it. What the difference between the stones and the elven strangeness was, is unclear, but we were working for many years before the Infected, then work ceased, and we took it up again about 400 years before the founding of the Empire, and worked in secret, progression slow, the mining of crystals done with care and precision.

    Stocks of crystals were gathered, and greater machines were made, ever more complex, ever bigger. By the time of the Ghaur, we could move a stone or metal giant of some 20 foot. We called these creations Gnomes.

    The Ghaur war started against the Empire and elves and we stayed within our halls, as so often during the petty human wars. Oh, these humans had tried to involve us, and bloodshed had occurred under one or two attacks on us, but we had always let them into the halls, then none would ever leave, and legends grew and fear germinated, until they left us to our own Hunger.

    Our involvement in the Ghaur war was started by the need of human and elf for our weapons, weapons that had been created to kill elves. We sold them weapons in return for things we couldn’t make or grow ourselves, and became a target for the Ghaur, who had left us alone before then – whether through design or just incident, who knows?

    The Ghaur attacked in force, and were repulsed, through our own skill and the strength of the Gnomes, but we knew they would not stop once begun, and we heeded Valerien’s call, and marched to the Saden Fields to join his Empire and to fight side by side with the Others.

    The battle is legendary. The gnomes broke the tide again and again, and the killing Ley lanced Ghaur from the skies. Human mages added confusion, but the battle turned when the Avatars, Dragons as Valerien called them, arrived. They won the battle, but were punished for it to the point of extinction. Never would we want to feel their ire.

    Khezdruli Societical Attidudes
    The Khezdruli are a remarkably insular race in general, the only exception being the Followers of Azghal, who deal regularly with the outside world, and enjoy good relations with many other nations and species. Due to a lost reason, the Khezdruli and the Rysthari lizard-folk do not enjoy any kind of relation, but any Dwarf will swear complete lack of knowledge of the notions behind this.

    The older Cults do not mix well with foreigners, and their Holts are virtually barred from all who would gain access. Despite their alliances in the past, the elven nations are not seen as completely trustworthy, and are thought of in the light of children, playing with energies that should be contained, not encouraged and released in abandon.

    In general, there are ambassadors to other realms, and they tend to be older, more experienced Khezdrul, but their powers are limited, and any decision of import is passed back to one of the Kings of the Dwarven Realms. The ambassadors tend to change with relative frequency, almost as if it would be bad for a friendship to develop.

    Having said all this, the Dwarves do tolerate many things. Slights are treated with humour, and most Dwarves are willing to have a good drink with anyone; it’s just that the majority ARE content to stay in their Holts and ignore the world around them. They are not rude, aggressive or petulant – they are generous to their friends, loyal to the point of idiocy and have a very dry sense of humour.

    Laws within the great undermountains are the absolute bedrock of Khezdrul existence. They have rules set in legions of books, dating from the inception of any form of basic society they had, holding laws that deal with every aspect of life. They are not intrusive, nor do they take the part of tyranny, but they are complex and incredibly thorough. No other nation has ‘rules’ that are this encompassing, although the Federation do have a lot of Laws.

    Punishments for breaking the law of the Realm varies wildly. For simple crimes, such as breaching a trust, there are punishments from a beating given by the injured party, to fines, whose payment is issued direct to the injured. For more complex or extreme crimes, the punishments rise in their vicissitude.

    The crime of murder is not completely unknown, but is punishable by devourment. A prisoner is taken to the places near where they expose children condemned by witching powers, and is left for the ‘Mountain to Devour’, chained to a large outcrop for whatever creature may come hunting..

    Some of the punishments can seem severe, but when one actually looks at the crime committed, there is a certain amount of equality in justice not found elsewhere. Above all, there is practicality. Notably, very few crimes are really committed, as the family and Cult deal with the ‘corrective’ upbringing that leads to a secure society.

    Dwarves vs the Infected
    From the depths, from graves and hollows, from blood-caked tombs, they came. Some were the bodies of the dead, given life again – others were worms of the earth, or prowlers that had the shell of insects and the teeth of dragons.

    They wrought a terrible slaughter, massing against Holt after Holt, and many fell in a wave of blood and death, even the best Dwarven warbands unable to stem the tide. Gnomes were ripped apart by claws that could rend stone, and the dead ate the flesh of the living.

    Dwarves fled their cities, and poured into the lands of elves,. Lindiri killed some, but the Ildiri saw what had become of those that stayed, and could see the Infection flooding into their lands, sweeping aside resistance spreading and spreading, as the dead began to walk again and brother ate brother in the nausea of death.

    Wielding Ley, the Ildiri swept into the Holts, and sliced through the Infected, but the gloom that surrounded them challenged the Ley, and the Dwarves had mined the Ley, and their powers failed in places. Other Ildiri persuaded the Wild Elves to cease their hunting of the Dwarves, and some Selidiri were persuaded to march to the Dwarves’ aid.

    Expeditions massed, and the holts were assaulted anew. Infected died, but elves and dwarves fell, too, and some rejoined the ranks of the Infected. Selidiri that fell did not rise again, and they were chopen to activate the Gnomes that lay dormant.

    However, all knew that they could halt the disease, but not lance it. The Selidir sent their braves into the tunnels, and some made it out again, with tales of despair and travesty. Of the infected, more was revealed, and the knowledge that the infection was the result of the dead nerves of the Dragon became apparent. In essence, the infection was born of the Dwarves, and they had to sacrifice something of themselves to destroy it.

    Also apparent was that water was a weakness. Where rivers crossed the tunnels, and bridges had fallen, no infected had crossed. With that knowledge, armed with a weapon of intellect, the Ildiri formed a plan to flood the Holts, flood and seal them, keeping the infected closed off forever, drowned in the Tears of the Dragon, and cut off from any intrusion into the world. The Khezdruli’s sacrifice was the loss of all but a few of their Holts. A few had no evidence of Infection, but nine in ten holts were to be sealed forever.

    The Ildiri performed great magics, and rivers changed course for brief periods, enough to flood the tombs that the Holts had become, and the Dwarves made seals from pure Ley Crystal, infused with powers of the Selidiri. The Lindiri grew entire forests over the seals, deep earth covering them, until no-one could tell that there had ever been a Holt there at all.


    The Khezdruli wars were a brutal affair. The Fathers had departed, and the Ildiri convinced the other elves to destroy the Khezdruli, for their toil was abhorrent, and the elves could not bear to see it. The Ildiri marched to war, and dwarves were slaughtered by the pulsing of Ley Weapons. The other Elves came to war late, and, by this time, the Khezdruli had begun to fight back, using rocks, nails, teeth and natural strength. The losses this early in the war would never be recovered.

    The War took it’s hold, and Dwarves died in their tens of thousands. But, behind the front lines, they were preparing a new technology – that of weaponry, using the bones of the Dragon (metals) to create shards of sharpness to destroy the life in other beings.

    The odds evened out, and in their tunnels, the dwarves slew many elves, and it looked as though mutual slaughter was to be the end in sight. However, a Dwarf came forward that had listened to the elf proclamation – that rape of the Dragon’s body was not permitted. He came to the Elves and told them of the Hunger, and an agreement was struck that limited the Dwarves’ plunder. Still the two sides lacked any understanding, but the elves could no longer justify such a brutal genocide.


    A short time into the war’s end, maybe days, maybe weeks, THEY appeared, thousands, flowing from the broken holds of the Khezdruli. Infected, they called them, thousands of them, writhing, slime covered bodies, rotting with the deadpool, biting, gnawing, they flooded the camped armies, and another time of slaughter began.

    Bodies in a state of undeath, but yet not truly alive. Magic had little effect, and the Ley weapons of the Elves would do little but burn and scorch, save the fires of the Sun Dragons, the Silidiri, which threw them back. Azghali led his guard against them, siding with the Elves, but many Dwarves holed themselves up and sealed their cities. Sadly for them, the Infected came from within the Dwarf Holts, and they were eaten alive.

    The armies of Azghali and the elves managed, through torrid slaughter, to seal the holds the Infected were coming from, and trap them within, the Ildiri redirecting the waters from the mountains to fill the holds. The names and whereabouts of these holds were struck off the records of History and still remain gone, lost to time and the Infected.

    Dwarven Cults
    There are seven cults, formed after each of the seven Lords brought into sentience by the twelve Fathers of the Celesti. Each has a history recorded in the Lexicon Gnomes, some thousands of years old, written in the simplest form of the Dwarven tongue.

    Many of the references between the Cults are similar, but the personalities of the Seven are inherent in their descendents, as if persona were genetic amongst the Khezdruli. Due to marriage within society being internal amongst a single Cult, one would think there was inbreeding, but the nature of their birthing system proscribes this.

    Birthing into the cults is through differing methods; for instance, the Karagash Cult make their children in cauldrons of lead, where the elements are combined to form the shell of a youngling. The process makes for Dwarves that are hardy, slow-witted, but with incredible stamina and a penchant for food-mining.
    The Cults are as follows, but the eighth, the Azghali are also listed – a ‘new’ organisation, based on the intervention of Azghal in the Ley wars. Some hundreds of years after his death, a few of the dwarves who served under him formed a cult of their own, and, despite being seen in less than positive vein, they hold an important position within the military.

    KARAGASHI
    The Karagash Cult, as mentioned, are born in Lead crucibles, and are often used in menial tasks, building Golems to aid them. Their understanding of the Ley is minimal, and they often see it as an unnecessary waste of Ley to use Gnome for ordinary household tasks. Few of the psychically adept younglings are born into this cult, but they are always slain. None are known to have survived the Karagash version of exposure that kills the majority of weirding Dwarves.

    Probably 80% of all food in the Dwarf Holts are produced by the Karagash, and some of the strongest members become useful to the military due to their strength and hardiness. In combat, they are lacking in strategy, but they batter their way through their foes with a complete lack of finesse, just brute killing power.

    ARZAKI

    The Arzak Cult is the cult of the quick-witted, a mischievous family, that has a turn of mind to equal any amongst the other races. They are mercurial at best, and many are quite unhinged by the Hunger, which manifests in the creation of crystalline beauty. Their products are seen as the art of the Dwarves, and statues, whether powered by Ley or not, lamps and other instruments are born of the Arzaki.

    Arzaki warriors are often the officers of units, but those driven mad by the Hunger are formed into a little known cell, spoken of little, and unleashed in desperate times. They have remained unseen for quite some time. As dwarves live long lives, there may be hundreds. The Arzaki are prone to disease of the mind. This may be a by product of the Quicksilver used in the birthing of their young. When they first came to the elves, they were the ones that found the greatest affinity with their teachers. All water within Holts is overseen by Arzak cultists.

    ENOWERE

    The Enowere Cult is the Cult of the Earth, of static living, of the Old Ways, and little changes in their viewpoint on life. They are stubborn and implacable, and still remember the Ley wars. They never forgave Azghal for his interference, and they have great animosity towards the elves. Even Ley crystals are seen a s a necessary evil, but the thought that they are robbing the elves of their ley talents seems to be what keeps them silent on the matter.

    The Gnomes created by the Enowere are the Gleamers and Glimmer Grinders, monstrosities that kill and smash, destroy and obliterate the foes of the Khezdruli. Enowere younglings are born with the most basic process, with few exotic minerals and represent the basis of Dwarf Lore and opinion.

    DISANDA

    Disandrae are the tallest of the Dwarves. They are created with great amounts of zinc and potassium, which makes them vulnerable to fire and water, but they are lethal fighters, energetic and skilful, lithe and flexible. They are seen as a precious part of the Khezdruli nation, and are not numerous. Many die in their youth, when they are most vulnerable to the elements.

    BANDALAN

    The Bandalan are the most numerous, and form the bulk or both army and workforce. They have many skills, but excel at few. Stout, born of Iron and Carbon, they are slow, but run everywhere, moving for days without rest, and eating on the run. They need little sustenance to keep them going, and feel few emotions beyond those a Dwarf should have. Most Dwarves are measured against the Bandalani, and they have pride in this.

    KHARZIN

    Kharzin Dwarves are the Ley masters. They understand the flow of Ley that powers the elves, but disregard the legends of the Dragon, instead believing in the words of the rebel Lords who turned on the elves after the elven Treachery. The Hunger is high in these creatures, and they pursue the manipulation of the ley crystals to obsessive lengths.

    Powdered Crystal is used in their birthing, and rumour suggests that many are left to die on the mountains. Their numbers have dwindled, and they are the Masters of the Gnome. Few are ever risked in battle, and those that are usually form Gate Watch units. Their relation with Azghal’s Cult are actually very good, but they keep their distance due to the fact that Azghal debated the wisdom of their use of Ley Crystals.
     
     
    ONNACH
    Onnach Dwarves are few, and are never seen by most. They are blind and see by sound waves, hiding deep in the mountains, mining Ley, which they devour, rather than rock and mineral. Some say they are mutated, but no evidence suggest any magical abilities. They just slide from shadow to shadow, and whisper secrets unheard for thousands of years. Their Lexicon Gnomes are thought to contain the secrets of existence, and are shrouded in mystery. No Onnai serve in the military, but they often bring intelligence, their methods unknown, but effective.

    Sometimes the Onnach are called the Dreamers, as they whisper from the dark, and avoid the light of day. In the deep, they are lethal killers, but have no real relationship with any other s of the Dwarf-kind, and resent them transgressing their imposed exile. No children from this Cult are sent to die of exposure, and some wonder at whether there are those amongst them that have powers unnatural, but the knowledgeable argue against this. Much of the Ley Crystal mined is found by the Onnach, but nobody ever sees them provide the veins.

    AZGHALI, THE EIGHTH CULT

    The Azghali are born in crucibles of a secret mix of materials, and some believe they have chemicals that are forbidden in their genetic make-up. For sure, they are unlike the other Dwarves, progressive, friendly to the Others and willing to forego the use of Ley, preferring to work for all that they earn. There have been occasions when they have in fact demonstrated in numbers about the development of new Gnomes, especially for what they see as frivolity.

    Their warriors are both hardy and skilled, with essences of all other Cults within their make-up. Most of the Khezdruli seen outside the mountain Holts are Azghali, and the world at large sees them as the Dwarves to measure others by. This irritates the Seven Cults, as they see them as tolerable at best – at worst, a disease to be rotted out. Maybe, one day, they will be expelled from Khezdruli society, as they intermingle too much with the Others.

    Khezdruli Cultural Musings
    The Khezdruli rely heavily on a Cult and family based legal system, which is inherently geared towards physical punishment, rather than incarceration. Due to the sedentary nature of their brains, they would not be considered ‘punished’ by simple ‘waiting’.
    Often punishments involve physical address, whether through short but sharp pain affliction, or by long and arduous work detail on shameful pursuits. This is usually administered by the wronged, or, for crimes not covered by this simple casting, from Cult figures, or from family.

    Having said this, there is so little crime, and most crimes are caused through insult or abrasive conduct, and a few through excessive use of Ley acquisition, or by the occasional theft of Ley devices. There is no crime linked to poverty, as such a thing is non-existent. Dwarves do not suffer illness, save the occasional ‘depressive’ state, or melancholy, induced by a physical reaction, usually cured by administration of minerals to counter-act deficiencies.

    Few Dwarven families suffer from ‘poverty’. Cult resources are vast, and those who suffer hardships are easily given aid to counter their circumstance, and help to get the family out of any problem. Debt does not exist, as there is no ‘lending’, and banks are non-profit organisations. However, there is nothing ‘utopian’ in their society. Demands are such that a Dwarf ‘belongs’ to his culture, and has no existence outside his Cult. Only family matters more than society.

    Society itself is not a thing of higher meaning. It is simply the machine that makes ‘everything work’, and, if it takes a life, it is seen as fitting to sacrifice oneself. The Gate Watch and other ‘valiant’ units of the military are seen as such from the outside, but are usually filled with the ranks of those who have done their life’s work, or lost the meaning in their lives through loss of family. It is not so much gallantry as a necessary sacrifice – or even a form of ‘euthanasia’.

    Upon death, the possessions of the deceased are passed to family, chosen before death – wills are common, and the wishes of the deceased are inviolate. They cannot be challenged. The deceased loses his living ley ration, but may pass on any ‘pension’ he may have been gifted with. Gnomes are given in the will.

    Illness does occur, and the feared ‘infection’ is sometimes seen and destroyed. Other diseases include madness induced by the ‘Hunger’, and physical illness can cause ulcerations – cancer is not unknown. Most are cured by administration of minerals, but some end in a fatality.

    Dwarven ‘art’ is normally a part of the ‘Hunger’, and expression of the Hunger is considered art.

    Sometimes the Khezdruli see the pain in a work, and this seems to them to be the purest form of expression – honesty is prized, and anyone willing to bare their soul is admired. The piece does not even have to have beauty, but they are usually flawless. Children first feeling the Hunger express it in a base form, and their work is a matter of parental pride. Their openness is admired, and the basic nature of it does nothing to diminish it’s value. Thus beauty is not measured by sight, but is measured by emotion, which is a strange thing to those who think they understand the nature of Dwarves – who, on the face of it seem like automatons. They are not, but are just very private . They genuinely care about each other, and two individuals may feel love, but in a Dwarven way that outsiders would not appreciate.
    Warfare is viewed neutrally. Very few military undertakings are moved through hate or anger, although some have been, but are initiated through need only. Most wars have been in defence of the realms, but the Ghaur and the Infection were fuelled by anger and fear. The Khezdruli wished to remain neutral against the Ghaurchlai, but were involved due to destruction of entire Holts.

    In a battle, there is no massacre. A beaten enemy will be left to retreat. There is no point in total destruction of a foe, just in their defeat and damage enough to prevent them from retaliation for some time to come – so they can ruminate on their actions.

    Thus the Dwarves are not in any way evil. They follow strict codes, and their nature leads to compassion. They love privacy, and retain distance from their neighbours, but not through negativity, but through a wish to be left in peace. There is no weakness in them, and Azghal was an anomaly, and his legacy is viewed with distaste by most. It is probable that they will open up more and more in the future – change is in the air, and is probably irresistible in it’s momentum.

    What this will mean is unknown and unforeseeable, but it is certain, and will undoubtedly alter the world. There is much the Khezdruli can offer the stability of the world, but there are dangers in their mining and rape of the Dragon, and the Infected are a threat none should take lightly. It is unthinkable that the Hunger can be resisted, but their delving can be controlled, and the Azghali would see this happen.
    SO, for the Dwarves, change is coming, and, whilst their culture will alter, their way of life may be crippled, and many suffer at the hands of change, there will be much that is good to come of it.

    Dwarven Physiology
    Dwarves are generally quite short in stature, hence the colloquial term ‘Dwarf’. In some circles, the word is simply an insult, but feelings on the matter vary. Their bodies are very heavily muscled, with the joints and tendons protected by sheaths of gristle, sliding over the weaker points on an excreted fluid that lubricates and prevents any wear. Scholars attest that this fluid has remarkable properties in a medicinal purpose, but few have had a chance to test this theory.

    Younglings are birthed in crucibles, where the father and mother mix elements prescribed by their Cult, then bind it and fertilise the amalgam of minerals, metals and other organic material. A tiny grouping of cells is expelled from the mother, and the parents watch as the cells begin to absorb the mix of elements that will allow it to grow, and take shape as a form of egg-sac.

    The growth of the baby is then monitored, as he lies in the crucible, absorbing the ground substances they bring to feed him. As he grows within his ‘egg’, the child’s body begins to take on the appearance of a small humanoid, and, after twelve months, is able to tear through the birthing sac, and take his first breath, usually followed by a squeal and ululating cries.

    Growth after the birth is rapid, and it takes only five years until he is able to function with an adult level of sentience. Talking comes slowly, but writing and manual skill is quickly learnt.

    The Khezdruli have twin stomachs, one to dissolve minerals, one to dissolve metals. They fix their diet to the way they are feeling, so an unwell Dwarf will know which ‘medicines’ to take. Rock is their main source of nutrients, as is earth, but metals tend to have a much larger effect on their health. Dwarven medicine is very advanced.

    The actual make-up of their body is mostly flesh, coating metal-laced bone structure, and organs made of varying compounds. For instance, their ‘liver’ is a chalk filter, their hearts are made of phosphor, their blood-oils keeping it from igniting. When a Dwarf dies in battle, he will sometimes combust.

    They live and breathe like humans, but their eyes are excellent at low-light vision – they have filtering skins, which slide over the iris and lens, to allow them to change their visual patterns. Thus, they have a filter that acts as some form of heat perception, and another that gives basic shape recognition in total dark.

    Khezdruli brains are an anomaly, made from gem substances, each Cult having a different amalgam. These gem-clusters have differing densities, and the varieties perform specific functions. Brain surgery is an area surgeons excel at.

    The nervous system of a Dwarf is regressive, and they do not feel pain as we do. They become aware that they are hurt, but the actual riot of pain we experience is numbed and contained.

    Dwarves and their Gnomes
    Dwarven culture has relied upon Gnomes for a thousand years at least. At the Battle of Saden Fields, they were a rock that withstood the storm that was the Ghaurchlai, until their Ley Batteries diminished, and they stood as rock, or toppled to the bloodied ground.

    Gnomes come in a massive variety, from small versions of household pets, to machines that radiate heat, to huge automatons that grind their way across the field of battle. Of course, it is the Gnomes of warfare that are most often seen. Often these are machines that mine or perform tasks using strength and power, but some are developed purely for the purpose of war.

    Principle amongst these are the Gleamers, the rotary giants that smash huge hammers through armour and bone, but Golems that mine, Spineshanks that spit metal death, and Scuttlehops that protect units from enemy missiles whilst they advance.

    Programmed to their only use, they prowl the tunnels, stride across battlefields and clank on wheels - spin on rotors, flying, walking, crawling. Their variety of execution matches the Ghaurchlai in their ingenuity, the brains of the best of the Dwarven race feverishly working to better their lives.
    Through the tunnels of Dwarven homes, small rotors propel tiny gnats, radiating light in the dark.

    Humming Drones move food through streets and Warders screech alarm at the approach of strangers to the gates. So many varieties, such imagination; it all came from a race thought to have none of such qualities, no imagination, their thoughts set in stone. Nobody believed in their lust for variety, of what the Hunger did to them, giving pain that wrought emotion in the emotionless, imagination in the unimaginative.

    It is also thought that there Gnomes as yet unseen in war, and others, older, sealed deep within the Holts that were Infected. These Gnomes could carry secrets of great import, of the technology that bore the Gnomes, of secrets of the Dragon, of wonders, yet balanced with the terror that was the Infection.

    If Gnome is confusing you, it's a machine that is an automaton, programmed as such to do a task, normally fairly simply, although are vastly complex of course. The fabric weaving Gnomes are about 1 foot tall, with extended arms and various tools on wheel-arms that spin at a rate that allows the cutting and spinning to take place at speed and great accuracy.

    Several units will be equipped with similar mail, and the breastplate will feature strongly, but altered - the unit I'm about to show has a similar thingy, but you'll find the Dwarves LOVE colour coding their mail - this is largely because it means they use difference metals, which issue differing challenges to the makers, and they also like to colour code their soldiers simply because their daylight eye-sight is fairly poor, but reacts well to colours, especially those of metals, to which they have a strong affinity.









    Weirdengroves of the Lindiri - 'Eldest We'


    FACTION UNITS

    Units
















    LORE

    The Horned Sons
    In the deep forests there are those that wish not to be seen, slight, timid creatures that once ran with deer, or fled the plains as gazelles and other faun-like beasts. These are known collectively as the Horned Sons; a race of flighty, mostly placid humanoids, Animists, created by the Lindiri. Marked with the Sap of the God Tree and infused with Ley and other vastly complicated techniques, they were developed into humanoid creatures that walked as men and flitted amongst the trees. They play, they hide, they laugh and joke - curious, whimsical and incredibly dextrous, they guard the deeps, and herd their friends, the deer herds and guard the breeding grounds of many beasts. Highly gifted in compassion, they are philosophers and poets, hiding remarkable intellect behind a veil of camouflage. Whatever their beastly nature, they are experts at remaining unseen, and they hunt down intruders, most of whom never even see them and die swiftly, pierced with carefully aimed arrows or spears - there is no cruelty inherent in them, but they will fight for their charges and those that gave them their freedom and grace. Deadly accurate, swift and very hard to detect, they fight in groupings called 'swifts', to defend or to punish those that mistreat animals. Armed with spear or bow, they prove capable warriors, and they can replace size and strength with skill and speed. Dangerous foes, yet never a solid force, they will create havoc on the battlefield - fighting in woods, they are truly a dire threat.


    Fydwyr Noble Archers
    These arguably the most incredible archers the world possess. They train from a young age, and, at a fighting age, are devastating indeed. Using the Ley Bows of old, they fire shafts of pure Ley, hissing and burning as they fly, deadly accurate, to slice through enemy armour as if it were silk, lighting the flesh beneath it, burning their foes in a wytch-light. Ley bows are an ancient weapon in design. They summon Ley energy from the Dragon itself, and gather it to an deep intensity, then release it in a bolt of green light, arcing downwards precisely, to slaughter their foes. It is said that, where a Ley Arrow misses it's target, the energy will dissipate and the earth below it becomes hugely fertile - battlefields often grow rare and wonderful flowers after a battle involving these weapons, but their foes lie dead in droves.

    Lindiri Gods
    The Lindir are driven by region. All elves understand the true nature of gods, but those they worship are given this status of free will; gifted with it rather than obedience through awe like the humans exhibit. The Lindiri gods tend to be the first of the Lindiri, the 'progenitors' of their race. Rather than being dead, they have ascended through the will of the God Tree, reborn through the sap, willingly given.

    Elves do not call them Gods, but Aspects.

    CELIBH - The Most Beloved, the god of nature and the god of righteous rage.

    Celibh is the Father of the Lindiri, the SOul of that people. He Ascended after his exposure to the Sap of the God Tree, the Awakening of beasts to ANimists, and his Werden Tree tomb shattered at his death, unable to contain his sheer power. Bursting from his Death, he Ascended, too full of power and meaning to simply 'die', he soared to the Moon, the Home of Gods, Land of the Dead. Celibh is the heart of the World, in many ways, and he sees beyond the elves. He is fascinated by humanity, he pities the ANimists for what he began, and he despises the Chitkinnen and the Serpent of the God Tree, Sythys, lives in terror of Celibh. Tall, alight with sun and life, he is benevolent and wild. His priestss dance wild dances, the Wild Hunt are spiritual servants he uses to exhibit some control on the world. He is not the wisest of Gods, but he is powerful, and he is both mirth and grace, old yet youthful, and he worries for every living thing in his view. He is not just worshipped by Lindiri, but has human devotees as well, and he tends to behave with good intentions, albeit a little irresponsibly at times. In wrath, he is a terror to behold, and his hand is such moods is heavy indeed. The God Fennweyr was made of the greatest rage he ever gathered, to aid his Animists spiritually as much as they were physically strong.

    LARALEIN - The Lady of Fecundity and Grace, the Evermaiden

    Wife to Celibh, Laralein is also the carrier of the Arrow of the Sun, or the spark of the Mother Dragon. She is said to hold this dire weapon for one task, should it ever be needed. Some believe it is to slay some great menace, some to awaken the Dragon, others create more fantastical musings. She is beloved of Celibh, and she dances each day, riding the fires of the Mother Sun, Her daughter as much as any others' god. Laralein is beautiful, stunningly so, her woven hair growing with fresh flowers, but she bears a side of devilry, for she is the Huntress, and her targets are often delighted to awaken in her Halls. Her priestesses are the Daughters of Tree, River and Brook; three maidens that exists in many places at the same time, and she feeds the world with sunlight, for all things to grow.


    FENNWEYR - The Father of Beasts, The Forest Goat

    The God Fennweyr is, in fact, a figment of imagination, in some senses. He exists as a projection of need by the Animists. Fennweyr carries their anger and their sadness, their feelings of incompleteness; they look at the elves and see what they are, and see this as lesser than they could be. Fennweyr is alive, for certain, but he was not born in the Moon with the other gods. He is a woven thought, and his persona flashes through the world, tied to the flow of Ley. He is the nature of the beast, and their thoughts and emotions fuel his existence. Celibh pitied his flight, and he gathered the thoughts he was made with, binding them to form the Horned God, the Father fo Beasts, who now protects his children, the Animists. Through the Ravenshrouds, he delivers vengeance on the wrongdoers, and he guards his folk beyond the measure of any other god. The Beastspeakers know his thoughts, and the world that knows him as foe shivers with Dread in the cold morning mists, for his voice is thunder and it hunts the dawn and dusk.

    SURETHAIN - Lord of Vengeance, the Warslain - The Grand Adversary in the texts of the Only Cult

    This is the Elven god of Justice, often seen as vengeful by many. He is listed as the Enemy of God by the Only Church, his name slandered. There is reason enough for this, for he destroyed an entire army of theirs that had sought the God Tree, in their own turn to destroy it, seeing it as abhorrent; for it made beasts walk and talk like men, an evil so vast it carried ten thousand men to find the source and end it. They entered the Lindiri forests and Surethain fell upon them with his followers. The screams lasted days, as he awoke the trees and the spirits of the earth, called Fennweyr to life and shattered the air with curses of such power that it stained his soul. The bodies of ten thousand lie still under the eaves of the woods, Surethain himself slain by his own curses, to be reborn as a god. It is said that he is ever watchful, ever ready to have revenge and ready eve to breach the rule of Reality to visit true vengeance on the world's foes.

    ANWEN - Lady of Winter’s Grace

    Anwen is the least of the gods, the sleepiest, but also the most perfect, beautiful and startling of them. She dances a slow rhythm of peace in the world of mists and halflights, and her touch is cold beyond measure, yet she is never sinister, just aloof, until her mind warms and her heart floods open; then the world is shivered in it's slumber, and the vice of Winter is gathered to her, dissipated by her inner warmth, so summer can begin. Her love is sometimes distant, often disregarded by humanity as a dull warning of terrors to come, she is the weaver of tales, thought to make them to be sung and told during long winter nights, to keep her folk indoors, whilst Fennweyr feeds his darker beasts on those without. She is sometimes seen bound to Fennweyr, as he knows peace only through her touch. She is not his mistress, but carries peace for his darker nature. Her beauty is greater than Laralein's, but her face is often masked against the cold.


    Lindiri and Sentience
    they thought that, since they had been awoken and mentored themselves, they would do the same with the beasts, mostly so they could represent themselves with equality and grace, and to make them 'herders' of their species, but they didn't think about them retaining their nature, so the more ferocious ones remained so at times, although they generally fight their own nature to some extent. They sit in counsel with these creatures and treat them as equals, but it was never as perfect as they would have liked. The Lindiri spend a fair amount of time sorting out arguments and differences, as much as actually achieving anything, but their creations are very much worthwhile.

    The method they used was the sap of the God Tree (one of the most ancient Avatars), which acted I suppose a bit like stem cells, and evolved them in ways the Lindiri used 'surgical' (small and precise) ley to aid them in.

    When they tried this with plants, it went horribly wrong, so they had to destroy them. Incidentally, it also went wrong with rats, and the serpents took it upon themselves to drink the sap of the God Tree, evolving without the Lindiris' aid...which is where the power of the SYthys Cult in Ashapur comes from.

    Lindiri and Science
    When the Lindiri conceived the creation of the Animists, they were looking at the development of the elves themselves, who had little idea of their evolution, if any. Even the Celesti could not truly explain HOW the elves came to be. The Lindiri looked at the vast array of animal species and flora they had to nurture and protect, and swiftly came to the conclusion that they could not possibly provide a level that would satisfy them; the Ildiri had made bonds with the Avatars of the waters and land they were succouring. The Lindiri thought patterns were of a far different temperance, and they wanted 'herders' to help them, as they possessed only the animists such as the Diarnae, or centaurs, who would only exist in certain numbers - besides which, they had the issue of carnivores and hebivores, and the balance that was needed to keep this cycle 'positive' in nature - far harder than the tasks of the Ildiri and Selediri indeed.

    Thus they looked at the differences between the Diarnae, the tree spirits they were firends and the animals themselves with and compared the differences between all of them, including in relation with themselves. The conclusion they came to was that each species could be made to care partially for itself. The brain activity of the Lindiri was enormous compared to the others...they used up to 70% of their brains' capacity to affect their body, and then the world beyond it - a wold used very little of it's brain beyond instictive levels. Diarnae themselves only used slightly elevated levels compared to the animals, whereas the spirits were not measurable in the slightest. They conluded that they would need to alter the physical form of the beasts, that they would need to develop more complex vocal systems for speech and that the brain itself must be 'awakened' to use more of it's capacity - to make them sentient; capable of autonomous action as a sentient being.

    So, the Lindiri came to the God Tree; the essential being that had provided the world with it's flora in the first place; god-like, it was perhaps the most powerful Avatar of the Dragon. It had severe restrictions placed on it, yet was capable of such power. They had seen it use magic to heal and grow new species of flora, and they had seen it release the spirits of the dying to become a part of the world - in essence, it had actually 'created' new Avatars. The God Tree itself was the greatest duty of the Lindiri - to all intents and purposes, it was immortal - it would never die of age , but they suspected there means to kill it, or that neglect may paralyse it's mental state, as it needed entertaining, much like a child - it may have speech in a telepathic sense - through imagery, but it was childlike in it's needs. They tested many ways to use it's bounty, and fin ally, they asked it for it's sap, which is what it leaked to acheive many of it's ends.

    An imprecise science began. After many disasters and lesser acievements, the Lindir began to learn strong, yet imperfect manipulation of the tree sap (it works, in out terms, similarly to stem cells). WHilst they used ley to confine their subjects asnd remoe pain or thought or memory, they used the sap to grow and develop vocal chords of intriciacy. They would then 'evolve' the body to the form they felt was best suited, if needed at all, and then burrowed with ley into the brain itself, using magic to open up areas, awakening deeper intellect, and other less desirable effects at first, creating some abominations they had to 'put down'...but when they learned enough, they could follow the patterns of the elves, and then open some of these in the animals, which became termed as 'Animists'.

    Thus, they created wolves that walked as men, could speak when educated to do so, and would watch and guard their charges - the 'normal' wolves of the Dragon. They removed the natural desire to indiscriminately kill, and thus wolf could communicate with prey and they could reach agreements logically between them to reach an equilibrium and punish the creatures that strayed from the 'natural' ways - wolf that were excessively dangerous would be culled, and , should the prey become threatened by the number of hunters, they would reach a way of altering this. In some ways, it was crule and capricious both, yet it worked.

    NOTE: When the wars with the dwarves seemed inevitable to the Lindiri, they created other Animists, whose charge was the protection of the Elves themselves, to act as guards and warriors. This where the Oaken Brood and the Horned Sons were developed in such a different mould, a mould that equalled the task that would be theirs. As with all scientists, there were many cases where they did try manipulations that were un-necessary or frivolous, and some which went remarkably wrong; Minotaurs were not well thought through, and the Chitkinnen were a complete disaster, but, on the whole, it was an inspiring success, and the elves as a whole did know when to stop, although some of that was due to the mistakes they had made. Their last experiments were on the Flora rather than Fauna, and these were highly effective, but there was a terrible 'wrongness' in giving plants minds and methods of communication, and it is said the God Tree itself called a halt to this - this was the task of the Spirit-Avatars, not of the plants themselves - most were destroyed, although some were simply 'lost' or forgotten - such as the gods of Cho Tetsu, for instance.





    The Seledir Kingdom of Silidis - Phoenix Rising


    FACTION UNITS










    LORE

    What are the Selediri?
    WHAT ARE THE SELEDIRI?

    The Selediri, simply addressed as their true name, are one of the elven races that began awakening from the conception of the Dragon's Egg in physical matter - so, when the planet/world was at it's youngest, the elves, as they originally were, came into being. The Seledir were said to have been the hardest to awaken, but, once awake, the hardest to keep under control.

    The Selediri are the Elves with domain over the dry places, the places where heat brings others to their knees - the most difficult charge of all - to keep healthy something that, of it's very nature, fights against this. They are thoughtto be cold blooded, as they often sun themselves, basking in the heat, behaving in similar kin tot he lizards and creatures of the places they oversee.

    WHAT DO THEY LOOK LIKE?

    The Selediri, as with all elves, have two forms; a 'natural' one and a 'Glamour' form; a form designed to appear how others would be more comfortable seeing them, as it would never have suited for the caretakers of the world to appear ferocious or fearsome in any form. This is kind of like a translator for languages, in that it allows them to meet with other races in similar form and the two can then find immediate common ground.

    Their natural form is a simple humanoid, but they appear to be jumpy, almost nervous, brimful of energy that will scarcely rest. They seem as though they are made of very dense liquid - there is a 'skin' but it is not utterly opaque. Beneath this skin are the bones, which are formed of an incredibly tough but hollow rock growth, and the organs, which are formed of vegetation - to filter their fluids are strange red and orange growths and there are Pumice type substances acting as other organs - they do not follow a human pattern of organs, but have their own - they approximate in the same way, if not in the same number and position.

    Their eyes are piercing, yet stunning; like endlessly churning liquid pools that change from shade to shade of the colours of fire....many colours that shine at their perfect hue and luminosity. This form is not weak; it is rather strong, but physically, they probably aren't as strong as humans in some ways, but are blindingly quick, a blur when at full speed, dashing between positions at speed. Like lizards, they are capable of incredible movement speed, are incredibly strong and their minds are strange to most, filled with spiritual questions, for they are the most curious of all races. However, much like lizards, they tire quickly, and, like all that are detrimentally curious, they get bored of all things, save one - the spiritual art of combat. The Selediri are, without doubt, the most skilled artists of war that could ever have been conceived; yet they are most notably flawed.

    In their protective form, they appear as human in form, with completely normal skin tones - a form they call 'blooded'. Their eyes shine and follow similar colours to their other form. The darker skinned areas are usually deeper shades of fire in appearance; so you get find their darker skin areas are deep reds and their hair is often blonde or a very burnt sienna colour. They seem solid, opaque, comfortable looking to the eye, and intensely captivating; where the Ildiri are a thing of unnatural beauty, the Selediri are a thing of alien wonders. Their charisma is legendary, as their nature is to laugh and play tricks, but they have a darker side; one of the deepest anger, but this is brought to the surface only in extreme circumstance - most of the time they just sulk if offended.

    Selediri Color of Magic
    The Ildiri are Ley channellers, which means they collect the brain impulses (Ley) of the Dragon and form it into magic, which they use part of, returning all that is taken to the flow of serotonin fed nerve pulses that cascade around the ley-lines. They are 'positive' magic 'users'.

    Their primary colours are Red, Orange and Yellow- so raw emotion, Fire/ Warmth and light and cascading illumination of mind.

    A History of their Race: From a Selediri Perspective
    Under the Rays of the Sun, we were born, their light giving us life, and we came from the sands to lie upon the rocks and bathe in it’s glory. Warming our bodies upon the rocks, we stayed for an age amongst the dunes, and our bodies were made stronger, for we were born cold and weak, and we needed the Sun to strengthen ourselves. Yes, and we needed the Ley, the lifeblood, to give us intellect, which we were not born with, our cold blood becoming warm, like that of the animals of the woods and hills. But we knew little of this, until the day the Celesti came.

    They appeared among us, and a light shone from them, a different light from Ours, but we recognised it’s glory all the same. The ones that stayed, they taught us to speak, and think, and, yes, to wonder and revel in life, to love and to give back to the land what we took as food.

    We talked to the plants and beasts, and we knew of all things that life was the greatest gift, for we were alive, and we had true joy at what had been our gift. Our responsibility was to the force of existence.

    They taught us of many things, and of the Ley, which we took from the land every waking day, and gave back during each cold and lonely night. Our blood cooled at night, and we learnt to make fabrics, to weave and make clothes to warm us at night, and we created fire-stones, stones that were infused with Ley, to glow with heat in the dark of night, giving light and warmth...greater versions of these heated our halls and caves.

    The Ley was a wonder, and the best among us learnt to manipulate it, and we built dwellings of sand, dwellings which became white sand towns, then cities, and we were taken to see the others, the Lindiri, so close in some ways, so distant in others, and the aloof, yet learned Ildiri, born of the Moon, our only true friend during the long nights.

    We taught our friends of our ways, learned of theirs, debated, argued and laughed together under the hallowed bodies of Sun, Moon and Stars, and in the Twilight times we speared the fogs to see the Lindiri and their animals.

    Our diets changed, and we grew taller, but never as tall as the Ildiri or Celesti, similar more to the Lindiri in stature, but our blood was cold, theirs warm, and we talked to the other beasts of cold blood, and learnt their ways of life and existence.

    As time passed, our people began their pilgrimages, at first to learn all that we could of our brothers, then, slowly, to begin education in every area and to learn of the memories of the lowliest avatar, to tend to the barren places and to develop our culture.

    One of our pilgrim bands came upon an anomaly in the deepest desert; a stone that floated during the day and settled at night. This evoked curiosity beyond anything we had ever know, and we studied the stone for days, eventually assisting the latent Ley that it was found to be storing during the daylight hours. With small changes, a Channeller named Elentis managed to get the stone to float consistently, but still required the daylight sun to do so. With further acceleration, other tricks could be observed, and a month of such work gave a thorough knowledge.

    What truly surprised Elentis was that a search for more of this stone, which he named Sun Stone, revealed a massive concentration of the rock beneath where he stood. It was said to have stretched for miles in every direction, and he began an excavation. During this period, we built new cities from this stone, and these vast pyramids floated above the earth. Huge ramps could be extracted or collapsed, and they remained safe; more so than ever we could have dreamed. It was during this time an accord was struck with the Madashirii Avatars, whose home was buried in the very veins of the Sun Stone. We expanded our knowledge of such things, and great treaties were made between the Selediri and the many avatars of the barren deserts.

    Time seemed to stand endlessly, a vast and uncounted truth in our world, yet we began to take measure of it, as the difference between day and night meant so much more to us than any others. Over the years, we learned to defend ourselves, as there were things that were alive that needed to be averted from our homes, and things that would damage our works, many of which had no knowledge of what they did. SO we began to learn to fight, and we spread this to the others, but we excelled, and it became such a joy that it went to the heart of our being - it was the first truly spiritual pursuit for us, seemingly endless. Variants of methods and weapons were created, and we began to use Ley to augment our abilities, again passing such knowledge to our brothers, who in the main seemed ambivalent, whereas our very souls sang of it.

    Then came the Khezdruli, and many of the Celesti left to teach them. They were fascinated by the stones that grew in our lands, and often stole them from their resting place, but we forgave them; they were children at the time, and knew no better. We thought they would grow away from such behaviour, but we didn’t know what was to come: the War with the Dwarves.

    AT first we refused to believe all the Ildiri told us, but then we saw the Holts they had built, what they did to the rivers and seas, and we marched to the aid of those that wished to go to war. The Ildiri and Lindir argued much, but the Celesti stayed away from this course of action, until they learned of the Dwarves' mining of the very nervous system of the Dragon; THEN they went to war with a vengeance. We feared the dark places, but this simply intensified our need to test ourselves. In the early days our very presence was enough to drive off some of the Unfinished.

    It was mindless, a slaughter of thousands, and we won many small victories, yet the final victory seemed far away, and many times we questioned what we were doing. We saw how even the Celesti were in fury, and we owed them much, so we stayed fighting. In a way, we never understood the War, but we fought hard for our kin.

    The Khezdruli invented their killing weapons, and the war became harder. We were never truly numerous, and we saw the deaths of many of our folk, men and women, but we stayed and our support to the cause of war grew. There was the Council, the day when the Dwarf Azraghaal came to us and argued a defence against our actions. We voted to end the war, as did the Lindiri, and the Council was tied. Then the Ildiri relented, but the Celesti never did.

    We went back to our old ways, and we grew again, but then the folly of the humans arose, and we saw the Celesti turn their backs on us, but we wanted so badly to teach these new animals the ways of harmony and peace, to make up for the decline of the Dwarves into ignorance. Our faith deepened as we knew more of these humans, and we took groups of them, teaching them to live in the deserts. In the main, these remained deferential to what we had, and they never scourged the lands of the Dragon's Bounty - rather they showed a keen respect, which they still do exhibit, but we have seen what humans do to other places, and we simply await the summons to war in much the same way as we had been pulled into the annihilation of the Dwarves.

    We trained the humans, and, to us, it was a good thing to do. When the Ghaur came, we had an ally in these Humans....only time would tell what role they may have paid.

    Selediri Society
    The Selediri live in vast floating cities - pyramids made of Sunstone, that store the ley of the Sun in order to give this energy off when channelled; they use this to build their pyramid cities, and their people live inside the hollow structures.

    There are stages to the life of a Seledir. These often form either periods of hibernation or deep spiritual illumination. The males and females follow different paths, but they pass through the doors of several cults (they have a wide choice of progression), which send them on pilgrimages, teach skills and ask of them many services. As they achieve their tasks, they move onwards. At the end of adolescence, they begin to fall into the martial cults, and the training in the art of 'beautiful death' begins.

    Those that have fought the Selediri remember them well, if they survived. They leap like salmon and their sword blows are perfect and deadly, seeking out weak places with precision, the blades carving through mail with ease. Their curved blades are made for the 'draw cut', which opens a foe up with a single slice. No one forgets them. Only the warriors of Cho Tetsu follow anything near this path, and others are driven by base emotion rather the worship of a skill itself.

    Selediri Military
    The Selediri have one of the most sophisticated cultures and societies there is, and their military is unusual. They maintain a standing army, but it is carefully organised, each section being held under a Dragon Blood noble, in a vaguely feudal fashion. Those who fight in most situations are 'regular' troops - they spend their lives training and are constantly mobilised. Only in the worst of situations would they call on any kind of 'reserve' forces, as these are the people that are crafters, farmers...the lifeblood of the realm, and it is the duty of the army to protect them.

    They are not an expansionist culture, but they fight for 'what is right and correct', for moral reasons, and they fight to protect the Dragon they look after. This more than all - the entire species would die to see the Dragon safe. The Selediri will be apt to fight an entire war over the death of a rare creature in their deserts as much as for greater things. They are like children in their emotional responses, and tend towards swift, reflexive reactions rather than deep thought.

    The Dragonbloods are the perfect warriors, and they tend to control and organise the armies, but they are not always present. This usually leads to an argument about who will lead - none of them will actually want to, so the argument is about who can manage to avoid leadership; however, there is a spiritual hierarchy that will often decide it in the end - or a simple game will decide the fate of the army's generalship. Possibly the main weakness of the military is the disparity in warrior orders, and the fact that the majority of fighting units are apt to do whatever they want, tearing through the foe with such swiftness that they tend to win anyway. Of course, the main weakness of the people as a whole is the cycle of hibernation and wakefulness. It means that many of their best are asleep at any one time, leading to certain difficulties.

    Madashiri
    'When mining for the Suntone, the Selediri awoke an avatar, a peculiar beast that slumbered in the dark, where the fractures lay within veins of darkness amongst the rock. Here they discovered the Madashiri, who lay in torpor, staining the sunstone which gave them the little warmth necessary for them to live and allow them to serve the desert's treasures as guardians and judges both.'

    'Fell in battle, wielding enormous sickled blades, they were given terms by the Selediri, which took them to be allies and guardians both - after the parlies were over, and the workings of the Selediri were shown to be honourable, protective and symbiotic, the Madashiri, know more commonly as Jackalweirds, served their new allies in peace and war. They undertook building of the Selediri Pyramid cities, where their powers unlocked the latent magic in Sunstone, causing the cities to float above the deserts themselves, powered by the very sun the Selediri worshipped.'




    The Wolfborn - Godslayers of the Wolver Isles


    FACTION UNITS





    LORE

    The Wolver Isles
    An aeon ago, as the Witches tell it, we came from the mainland, weak people, broken by a savage foe, one that took our children in the night; our hunters vanishing and our women birthing unnatural things that were exposed and forgotten. There were those amongst us who were not so weak, and these trained in skills of battle, abandoning their hunting and the practices of dirt lovers. These grew in number, and they were made pariahs, for they took food and the toil of others, but the enemy were met and died in the trees that hid them. The weak finally grew foolish enough to push these men from their homes, calling them thieves, a drain on the 'honest' toil of others. This band moved south, and there were a good number of weaklings that followed them. More came later, as we built our skill -less ships. They brought news of the Weak, of slaughter and burning homes. We had reached the coast and there were Witches among us; women of the Cairns, who could see what others could not. These, under the crone we named Spearfinger, dreamed of the Isles that we dwell upon now; the Wolver Isles. Spearfinger was to lead us there, for the first amongst those people believed in her above all else.

    There we built our first boats, and many sank, until we found one that did not. In this fashion, we built more, until our entire people could leave the weak of the past behind. For several weeks it is said we sailed, and many ships were lost in storms, as the sea recognised those that still were weak, drowning them, turning their ships. Some were found and they were treated well, as they were tested and were found to be strong. At last the Witches saw the Wolver Isles, and the First roared their delight. Even as some reached the savage rocks that lined the shores, the Drowned God rose against them, a massive form exploding from the dark waters, ten times the size of a man, splintering boats like straw, bodies of our people crushed and smashed. The roaring God was to test us, to test our ability to claim our homes. It is said the Witches fought back with their curses and cantrips, and this only enraged the Drowned God at first, but Spearfinger's power was far greater, and she drove him back, to his kingdom beneath the waves.

    Upon the First Isle, the people who became the Wolfborn settled. At first we kept to the coasts, and pats of the land were farmable, which we gave to the ones who came to us after they had turned us away. There were animals, some who came to us, but there were others who did not. Large beasts that walked on two legs were often seen, but they avoided us and we them, but they would become friends and then war-friends. These were the Wyndlin Firs, but they are another story and that itself is a jumbled tale. The strongest began to train more and more for war, and the Cairn Witches found much of interest to them. Spearfinger took some of our best fighters and took them inland, to great stones that glowed in the moonlight. Here they say unspeakable things were done to them, and their return marked the beginnings of the Weirds. These warriors could become half-creatures, or Weirds, both Wolfweirds and Bearweirds (and others that ever remained from our sight), supposedly already decided in their own character. Whatever their tale, they are simply, to us, great killers and we embraced them and their madness with heart.

    We sailed, fished and tried to find the other isles, but ever the Drowned God would come upon us, and we would lose men and boats. This remained so for months, before the man called Karaheir, who became our first Lord, took to the sea to battle this God, to fight and kill him, or die to give him the souls of Men. What God could not but be satisfied with this? Karaheir sailed, and he found the Drowned God, and he slew him; he and his men became the Godslayers, who are the greatest in out numbers, even now. They rage and kill and wounds seem not to touch them. Great axes rise and fall, shield walls splinter and men run from these warriors, and with cause. It is almost forgiven, to run from them, but almost is a word that is most often not enough.

    When the Drowned God died, the crops and the land withered at his lost, and our path came before us, for, to survive, we had to take from others. We took the other isles, and the largest of them held many secrets, given to the care of the Godspeakers and the Cairn Witches, who grew more apart from us. We do not even know if Spearfinger died, but many claim she has been in their dreams, and she speaks Truth. When followed, it leads us to better things. We took to the seas, but as Wolves. We were not sharks, for we did not swim, but, as Wolves, we struck the coasts of the weak men we had left behind. With this, we survived, and prospered, and our lives were filled with honour, strength and satisfaction. To scream into a storm, to face a God is his domain and kill him. These are the tales and lives of the Wolfborn.

    -----

    Roiling waves cover the islands of the Wolvers, a chain of small islands in the southern seas, namely the Boiling Sea, or the Sea Incarnadine in older maps. Sparse and ungodly, the lands support precious little of anything at all, yet a small nation cling to the rocks as they have done for a thousand years and more. Screaming into the wind, they spit death in the face and survive all conditions, all hardships are endured, and a proud people live the lives they have lived, follow the old ways, and are a scourge to the coasts, raiding and savaging communities as they harvest their lifeblood as a farmer does his crops. Without this way of life, the Wolfborn would never survive, and so the legends they carve survive.

    The nation is known also as the Godslayers, those who have killed Gods. This is a legend that may prove true; that they took the isle from a vastly powerful avatar, godlike, a being of water and earth, a Dragon, scion of the planet itself. This creature fought them for months, each side wounded and succumbing to a small death, as the Wolfborn call it - a painful death, in stages made ever more certain. The Godslayers are still a renowned group of warriors fierce, powerful; the epitome of their wild culture.

    -----

    Something stirred amongst the ranks of the Wolfborn. The Bearweirds and wolf brethren parted, bowing their heads in suplication. Lightning flashed across the heads of the waiting warriors. Where normal men seem not enough, when a battle is all but lost, men turn to heroes, to the best of their own. They hold lines that would otherwise crumble, and die where they stand shouting a litany of defiance to the last man. From the deep ranks strode the Godslayers. They had slain a god in the past, so legend states, a war god of the deep waters, intent on drowning their fleet. From ships and masts, they flung themselves at him, cutting him ever more deeply, clinging to his flesh in a violent, primal struggle, till he sank beneath the waves, leaving gouts of blood in the water. A wind stirred, called by their holymen, calling on their own deity, as the Godslayers stood, screaming their victory to the winds, which had once had a brother beneath the waves.

    As the foes' ranks shuddered, it was not mere men that walked towards them, but killers of gods, the crackling streaks of blue lightning hissing as they stood alone, facing a host thrice their number. The battle already won, simply by the power and weight of their doom-laden gaze. For what can mere men do against something so terrible that the power of gods was once not enough?

    GodSlayers
    'Something stirred amongst the ranks of the Wolfborn. The Bearweirds and wolf brethren parted, bowing their heads in supplication. Lightning flashed across the heads of the waiting warriors. Where normal men seem not enough, when a battle is all but lost, men turn to heroes, to the best of their own. They hold lines that would otherwise crumble, and die where they stand shouting a litany of defiance to the last man. From the deep ranks strode the Godslayers. They had slain a god in the past, so legend states, a war god of the deep waters, intent on drowning their fleet. From ships and masts, they flung themselves at him, cutting him ever more deeply, clinging to his flesh in a violent, primal struggle, till he sank beneath the waves, leaving gouts of blood in the water. A wind stirred, called by their holy men, calling on their own deity, as the Godslayers stood, screaming their victory to the winds, which had once had a brother beneath the waves.

    As the foes' ranks shuddered, it was not mere men that walked towards them, but killers of gods, the crackling streaks of blue lightning hissing as they stood alone, facing a host thrice their number. The battle already won, simply by the power and weight of their doom-laden gaze. For what can mere men do against something so terrible that the power of gods was once not enough?
    Wyndlin Firs


    The Wyndlin Firs are naturally a shy creature. They occurred in some places on the eastern continent, but mostly on the Wolver Isles. Sadly, they have all but gone from the mainland, hunted and slaughtered by the Federation - some still exist under the Lindiri forests, but the main stay with the Wolfborn.

    The Wolfborn simply watched them for years, did not interfere with them, and eventually, the creatures came to them, surprising them with their ability to speak, and their wisdom. These were not gangrel creatures...they were sophisticated socially and able to problem solve to the same degree as an average human, if not above. They live in the villages with the Wolfborn, and help them tend to their herds, whose animals trust them. When the few herds they do have get into trouble, as they often do, the Firs are first to rescue them.

    There is a duality to them, however. Despite their normally gentle ways, there are bestial facets to them. When angered, frightened or threatened, when the Wolfborn are at war, the Wyndlin Firs are huge, quick, powerful adversaries. Immensely strong, they shred through foes' armour, rip apart horses and smash ranks of even iron-shod men, scattering them like dolls. It is contrary to their nature, but, when unleashed, they bring hell with them.

    People of the Wolfborn
    The Wolfborn are a mix of things, one of which is , yes, anthropomorphic wolves, but there ARE humans amongst them too. It's a case of them being a base human society, but a LARGE amount of what I call 'mythics', so the weirder stuff, like shapeshifting men, the Wyndlin Firs...they have got other units that weren't in the battle, and they have some mythics amongst them - they have the Children of the Holly King, and the Children of the oak Queen, which are made of sticks and wood and stuff, en form around the Isles' God Trees.

    Uhm they also have Ravenshorn, which I'll leave for you to discover, and several magic units...the Fate SIsters, the Cairn Witches....all sorts! And, of course, the massive DOlmen avatars.







    The Only Church - Followers of the One God


    FACTION UNITS



    LORE

    s
    Origins of the Only Church
    The Only was born in the Eastern Empire (as it became), but it's origins are shrouded in mystery. Most would say that it appeared a maximum of two centuries before the Ghaurchlai exploded from their nests around Saden. Who he was or is, is again a mystery, or how the god was made divine in the first place. What is the truth is that he is blind; a god alone in the Deadpool, unable to see, yet able to see into the physical world far better than any other of the deities. SOme say he lacks any real power; certainly he was bound first by the Ghaurchlai when they invaded the moon, unable to escape them. This had dire consequences for the world.

    His cult began in a small way, amongst humans of the East, amongst the Karesi. Some feel it was a response to the hedonistic depredations of the Brazen Queen amongst the Telmior. The religion grew slowly at first, then the movement expanded. It was never a religion amongst entire cities of people, but stuck to the villages, and the poor amongst the larger settlements. Followers tithed money to the Cult, which was renamed 'Church', making many of other gods see them as placing themselves above them. The small temples became larger, and the Church developed a Church Levy system, which made them more important to leaders, as they could count on the Church to aid them militarily. They never threatened any major power and their Levies never numbered enough to cause any real concern, but they were more important to communities, who relied upon them to a larger degree.

    A hundred years before Valerian, the Brazen Queen stamped out the Church in Telmior, and hundreds were enslaved or slain. Most fled to other lands, and the movement ceased within her borders. By then, there were elements in Saladir, Kai-Losson, Ancillia, Acascarena and Dalthrasia, but they failed in Duinir and Atakash, and Ashapur delighted in enslaving them.

    The internal structure of the Church is the elevated status of the Eight Eyes. These take form as the eight parts of a compass; north-east being the highest. Each actually become literal eyes to their god, and they can wield powers through him. They had a large number of Scourges; men who wrack their bodies and minds in the pursuit of making Holy Relics, for this was of far greater importance than for other faiths. The Eyes can maintain illusion, breach illusion, reflect the divinity of their god through the Colour Gold - they have both the ability to reveal his nature and guidance, and an ability to use this for their own gain. This two edged sword became the bane of the Cult shortly before the Ghaurchlai war, and has done again twice after; the most prevalent in the last ten years.

    By the time the Ghaurchlai were preparing for their absolute assault, they had already invaded the Moon, and had seized the Only himself. He was bound, but sent a pulse of energyto find a follower, to make him the Ninth Eye, or e one who could see everything, could commune directly with him. He found the man who was known simply as Priest. He led the first community into the Western COintinent, after the fall of the Brazen Queen, even after the settlement of Nehemia. He led one small village, and was devout and true.

    Priest's village was attacked by Ghaurchlai swiftly after they took Nemeth, but he was saved by the Void Knight-Compassionate, Inledlis. The tale of the war is long, but the Eight Eyes bargained with the Ghaurchlai for their power back, and they were granted this. They then played a clever and intricate game, until Priest was brought to Lisandra, where he unmasked them and destroyed them for their fall.

    Ill stop there. Tea-time.

    Right, short break and cup of tea...

    Priest travelled to Kadasandra with Inledlis, where the Only Eyes had driven the Emperor to despair. The True Dragons were sleeping, as they must, and Valerian was alone. They Eyes promised to divine when they would awake once more. Using their powers they invaded his thoughts and convinced him that they would not awake for hundreds of years, that they had abandoned him, and that it was his actions that had caused this. Inledlis and Priest destroyed the Eyes in the capital and freed the Emperor, Priest explaining the nature of the Dragons to Valerian, and the link between him and them - they were drawn to him and bound to him by bonds beyond mortality. He awoke, much to everyones' relief, and he gathered the East, who had been warring with Ghaurchlai in their own lands. He swiftly defeated the threat to the Empire, and Priest hunted the last Eyes down, destroying them, burning them with pillars of fire. He gathered the strength of the Only, which now numbered in the thousands - levies and monastic warriors, equipped and trained well. He and Valerian gathered their forces and moved through the Capital, bringing a hundred thousand men tot he war there. This ended at Saden Fields, where the EMperor was slain. Priest was given a place in the Empire for his loyalty and his hand in victory. The renewed Church rose in power.

    Over the next few hundred years, the Cult spread, they grew more truthful and organised and supported EMperors. When the Federal COuncil bought their lands, the Only were given the Lake Kingdom for their role in limiting the Federation's initial war of propaganda. With increased temporal power, they again sank into a mire of infidelity. Tales of how this was broken are almost non-existent, and they were suppressed. Since then, they watched their own number in an almost paranoid fashion, but, at this time, within the last decade, they again began to Fall, and the destruction of the 'Unclean' in the Lakes began.

    A year ago, there was a schism. The Only God could see what his Eyes were doing, he could see their Fall, and he saw that not all had Fallen...yet. He sought a Ninth Eye once again, and found Anna Sandam the sister of the Imperial Warden of the West. She was a strong woman, young, but strong willed, fair and just and she had the charisma to do what needed doing. She alos had her sister, which would give the Eyes pause before 'removing' her. This gave her time to act, and she drew the Faithful Eyes to her. Most of the Church had Fallen to the others, but they brought several Orders of fighting Monks with them and a number of other devotees. They could not, however, bring the Levies into this, as they had been poisoned against the Lake dwellers, the Mistiriel, and it was deep-rooted, as all such hatreds are.

    She was pursued, and she survived three assassinations attempts. She swiftly defeated several Temple forces and withdrew to the last 'free' lakes. Here, she makes her last stand, and draws anything that remains true to her. The Only will have a fight on their hands now, but they posses vast wealth and an army of well-trained and hugely supported fanatics.

    The Blind God
    The Truth of the Only God is quite different to what is believed. He is the Blind God, as all know, but he's more than this, and less. As humanity is a parasite, so they affect the world - some for good, some for bad. The Blind God is a reflection of this nature. He is the conscience of man, a reflection of their souls. Where men have no task compared to Elves, no grand scheme (hence the nature of parasite), they also have the freedom to do what they wish, in entirety, as nothing binds them - even the Khezdruli have their Hunger. The Only is a force that almost intensifies this; he gives men something beyond daily needs and material desires, and he has no control over their response. He is a sad figure in reality, and his only reaction is to find a Ninth Eye in an attempt to elevate a human above the others - they can directly feel his pain and sorrow, and his loneliness, and this gives them such vast insights that they are driven beyond all normal means to 'put things right'. They are also gifted the power to cancel the abilities of, or strip them from, all of the other Eyes.

    The other gods see the Only often, for some care for his needs. Most gods have a very defined personality and there are some that help him within the world of the dead, caring for him. He alone commands no armies of Eidolon, has no servants, as he cannot see to fish the souls from the Farstream river. The other gods claim them, if their souls are worthy of saving, then they join the Yaga Dai, in service to the Dragon where they had none in life.

    Current Situation of the Only
    The current Church stands arrayed against Anna Sanda and the Lian Elune, their objective to annihilate them - no mercy, no survivors. Every one of them must die, leaving none to oppose them. The root of evil has not run as deep as before, however, and some are against them. They number in the thousands; levies, the Seraphael, Templars, armoured ins steel and armed with weapons and faith. Currently, the White Manse is the main spiritual home, as it has been, and the greater Clergy gather there for prayer and guidance, receiving plenty form the Eyes that have Fallen. They devour the hatred the Eyes give them, as man has always been a slave to extremes and purpose inherently bound with cruelty.

    The leader of the faithful is the Northern Eye, Mallister Kadain. He is powerful beyond his means, and he wears power with a false grace. He has Fallen more than any other, and his mind is plagued by dreams of the most evil beings. Projected into his mind are the thoughts of Kalacris, Lord of the Abyss, who seeks to gain power enough to breach Reality. Through this man, he dreams of entry to the Moon and the slaughter of ALL gods. Mallister is a vile man, the worst of what his species can develop, and he surrounds himself with the faithful, who have forgotten their faith enough to be enveloped in his vision. He does not see himself as a false Eye, rather that he is the only good Eye, and he seeks righteousness where there is none, as blind as his former god.

    The Church is possibly the most immediately wealthy factions there is. Hundreds of years of unspent riches, artefacts and laws have given them an obscene power, which is only now becoming known, as the Eyes plunder the Temples. Outside the Lake Kingdom, their power extends, but they cannot yet bring this to bear. When they throw everything into a war of domination, they will unleash a tide of power that has vast roots, unexploited for an age. The one thing the Only Church will never do, as it is abhorrent, is hire soldiers that aren't of the Faith, and this may just give Anna Sanda the space for survival she desperately needs. With an army of mercenaries, they would destroy her in days, but they cannot do this. They fear her sister, Lian Sanda, for she commands resources beyond even theirs, and a war with the Empire would be disastrous. However, if war escalates, there is every room for such beliefs to be abandoned in the struggle for mere survival. Not for nothing would the EMpire war with the Church, but it is ever in the Eyes' thoughts and dreams of paranoia.



    Last edited by Shankbot de Bodemloze; March 12, 2013 at 02:21 PM.

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    Default Re: UNITS & LORE Preview part 2




    FACTIONAL UNITS and
    DEEPER LORE





    The Western Marches of the Empire

    FACTION UNITS







    LORE

    Conquest of Valadir
    The conquest of Valadir was by far the toughest Valerian had thus far faced in his career. Approaching the southern border with twenty legions, supported by four legions of provincial troops, Valerian paused. He had not come with full strength, as the construction of Kadasandra was being harassed by raids from pirate fleets, who were catching and burning ships bearing materials. Appointing Kemis Sadoran as master of the Imperial fleets, Valerian had authorised the construction of seven great warships, aided by the Ancillians and the men of Karesi, who had both fought at sea for many years. The Karesi had fought the pirates before, and turned away an Ashapuran fleet forty years past, winning a sea battle by scant means. There was no cohesive fleet this side of the eastern continent; the Sun Kings had maintained a fleet to fight off the raids of the Wolfborn, but this was missing in part, having fled north upon the conquest of the Sun Lands. The Wolfborn were being held at bay, but Valerian knew that he needed a fleet.

    He did, however, have a plan, and this required the use of his best assets - the air cavalry of the Sea of Grass; the Spur Hawks. Leaving them and a decent garrison behind, he marched to Valadir. As his army crossed the border, they were assaulted by several thousand Valadiri, heavy foot troops in strong mail, used to the conditions of the north. However, they were unprepared for the sizeable cavalry force Valerian had brought with him, and were routed eventually, dealing surprising casualties to the Imperial force.Valerian proceeded cautiously, and learned that the mainstay of the Valadiri forces lay in the west, whilst some form of monastic order lay in the east. Fearing the uniting of the two, he stood half of his force, including almost all cavalry to watch the west for the approach of the Valadiri main force. Taking his siege engines and a hand picked group of soldiers, Valerian pressed east, scattering villages and hamlets in his way. He passed one stockaded town and left 800 men to prevent any threat from materialising there.

    The monastery stood atop a steep hill, it's walls built of stone, high and thick - a difficult assault at the best of times. Atop it's walls the warriors of the Monastery stood, with heavy mail and white surcoats, they looked most unlike the men he had fought before - these were the Valadir Kyrini; the women warriors that protected the Halls of the Dead - the internment chambers for the lords of Valadir, - and the Healing Halls, where they practised great skill. Valerian was already prepared for why he must do, and he threw the might of his siege train against the building. For a week, he pounded the Monastery, and it's walls began to crumble. The dead fell from the walls, and smoke poured into the sky. At the week's end, he rode to the walls with only two men, and demanded their surrender. Three women rode out of the gates, their faces smeared with soot, surcoats filthy, but he saw no weakness in their countenance. He knew they would fight to the death. As in so many other cases, he reversed his tactics; he apologised for the siege, mentioning that he had been led there by men of Valadir, who had thought them an aberration due to their sex, and had been informed that they were the best warriors of Valadir. Appealing tot heir pride, he caught their meaure, and was invited in, partly to see what he had done; on his deathbed, he apologised to the sky for this deed, and he regretted it deeply, for most of the dead were simply women, healers and servants. The warriors had losses, but they numbered in mere hundreds from the very beginning. He gave solemn vows before them that he would repair everything, that he would forever take their cause as his own, and that he would see their cult prevalent within the province, when the EMpire claimed it.

    He simply marched from the Monasteyr, and his men arrived at the gates, with axes for cutting timber, having altered the use of several war engines to carry heavy cargo to the top of the battered walls. There was also a great deal of gold amongst his 'gifts'. Three miles along the rode, he was met by three hundred of the Valadir Kyrini, who swore oaths of fealty and prepared his army for the war ahead.

    It took Valerian over a year to temper Valadir. He won battle after battle, inched his way into their lands, then began to seize towns and castles, until only the capital was left. This was a massive strongpoint, and twelve thousand Valadiri occupied it's walls. His cavalry were useless and he has lost many men. The siege began, and his forces were harried from the start - small bands of warriors attacked every party to leave camp - the city led sorties to great effect. He had one way to end this - a direct assault, before his men lost their faith. Events intervened, however. To the south of Kadasandra, the Imperial Navy had defeated the fleets of the pirates of Hanghaven in three decisive battles. Having done this, they seized the Isle of Fleet, and built the Imperial Naval base there, already beginning the construction of a larger fleet. This had been aided by the SPurhawk Cavalry massively, but they had moved south to find and burn Hanghaven; something that even to this day the Empire has failed in.

    Mournweaver, however, led the majority of the garrison forces of Kadasandra, unneeded due to the pirate threat's elimination, to join Valerian. The greater deed, however, was the fact that he asked a Dragon, Vyrylis, to take news of this to his Emperor, as this would surely bring heart to him and his men. The arrival of a mile long Dragon to the feet of the Emperor had an effect beyond it's meaning. The Dragons had said that they would never aid him in the killing of sentient beings, but the Dragon's landing created terror amongst the Valadiri; they had legends of these creatures - and this man had tamed them! They stopped all activity outside the walls of the city, and no more sorties came. Then Mournweaver appeared, leading thirty thousand men, and their fate began to unravel. Even then, they would not surrender, and Valerian was forced to assault the walls. During the second assault, he was wounded by a serrated spear. This panicked the Dragon, and it rose to defend it's friend - it landed upon the walls of the city, reducing an entire section to rubble, and it's flame burned the skies in it's anger. The city was alight for three days, at the end of which they surrendered, asking that Valerian aid them in quelling the flames, before the city burned - in this northern realm, all building were made of stone foundation, upon which rested a wooden shell, and they burned well indeed.

    The Dragon urged all to remain outside the city, which they did, and he beat the flames with his wings, quenching them swiftly. The city, and the Province of Valadir had fallen, and it's master kneeled before Valerian in supplication. Magnanimous, relieved, Valerian named him and his family as the rulers of the Province, and lent massive aid to the new Lord of Valadir. Workmen from Kadasandra, now completed, began to arrive in numbers, and the Province began to rise well above it's previous station. The Valadir Kyrini were given shrines in every settlement, and they brought great knowledge in the healing arts with them, which made them wealthy, and aided the populace greatly, as did their status aid the society in other ways. Valerian gained new units of Valadir Kyrinin for his army, and the province was secured - with vast wealth in raw materials, it became a shining star in his crown, albeit being nearly the end of his EMpire in the taking.

    The Imperial Heartlands
    Once the Province of Valadir was under control, and the rejuvenation of the province was underway, Valerian looked south, into what would become known as 'The Heartlands'.

    Here, the situation was the strangest he had faced. The entire province was consumed in an internecine war. Here, twelve Barons controlled the majority of the land, but there was a swather in the eats, along the coast, that was 'free'; the Free Cities of the east were solidly involved in this war, as the surrounding barons sought to the balance of the war in their favour by capturing one of the three Free Cities. Their wealth was impressive, and their main army was mercenary, as they were far more engaged in trade than in war, and the mercenaries had great skill. Yet they were beleaguered, and their people had undergone their first levy; these troops were terrible, but well equipped, and their borders were consumed by several large armed camps as they desperately tried to hold against the attention of the neighbouring Barons, who were now supported by allies who shared the same goal. For the first time, eight barons lay in alliance, and they were poised to crush the Free Cities. Valerian saw his opportunity and seized it.

    He sent forces from the provincial armies to the west, to attempt to being the remaining Barons into the war on his side. Eight thousand troops marched there, led by Mournweaver; their numbers were made up of troops from Atakash, Duinir, Dalthrasia and chariots of Telmior, as the lands of the heartlands were mostly flat or hilly, with swathes of light forest; this was good land, the soil rich, perfect for set-piece engagements - almost built for tactical warfare. fifteen hundred Silver Lancers from Saladir rode in Mournweaver's van, and he encountered only small groups of troops, who quickly melted away from his forces. After several days of marching, they came to the walls of Tremavaine - the first and largest of the Baronies in the west. The walls bristled with defenders, but Mournweaver set out in parley, a white flag representing peace - for black was often used for surrender without terms; white being the chance of life through peace.

    In the East, Valerian led a much large army; fifty thousand men marched with him to war. Here, there were no expectations of peace - they all knew this would be war, whatever happened there would be battle, but there were chances of limiting their enemies. He was met in the north, two days into the borders of the free Cities, by a heavy force of mercenaries from the northernmost city, Avalaine. Here, he made a pact that cost him dearly, but he promised to break the cycle of war and death within the Heartlands. This was based upon the deaths of all eight Barons arrayed against the Free Cities, and the capture of their holdings in entirety, plus the semi-autonomy of the Free Cities in perpetuity. He learned of the strength of the barons, which outmatched his own, and of the disposition of the Free COmpanies - the paid champions of the Free Cities, which tipped the balance, but not entirely enough for his satisfaction. Each time he left a Free City, he was to leave a portion of his forces against the chance of his losing the war amongst the Baronies. Potentially a foolish decision, he agreed, and he exchanged twelve thousands of his men for barely that number in mercenaries and levies. He immediately disbanded the levies, sending them back to their homes and fields, gaining their relief and affection, which proved of great importance.

    The middle City was under threat of siege, and he marched swiftly to the west, to attempt to come behind the attacking force. A good plan, but it marched him straight into battle, as he met the force the Baron were sending to delay his advance. A battle ensued, but he was down by twelve thousands and had only the Free COmpanies of the northernmost four armies of the Cities. He managed, however, to defeat the Barons heavily, and two were captured and executed on the spot. His losses were not truly serious, but he had the numbers in the first place. The shock of air cavalries had beaten their resolve, as they had many times before, and their engines had been destroyed minutes in to the battle, one Baron's guard obliterated and the man captured. It was the same evening, however, when the Barons' forces from the east and west arrived, attacking from both sides. This battle he nearly lost, and it was a complete mess. The onset of dusk had limited his response, and the Spur Hawks could not see properly in this light, so he had sent them to safety in the north. Losses were high on both sides, as Valerian's men were of the best. Their skill saved the day, and the baronial forces were broken, hunted by lancers throughout the night. Another Baron was seized, and he was slaughtered in the morning.

    The next day brought troubling news; it appeared that the mercenaries of two of the Free City forces had turned, borne over to the Barons, to fight as part of their strength. Outnumbered, he turned to the lands of the bronx he had slain. Faced with a retreat to the Free Cities, he moved west, entering the baronies. Here, he met the largest surprise of his career. As he reached the walls of one dead baron, he was cheered from the battlements, and they delivered the bodies of the entire family of the Baron Faulnekir. It appeared that the folk of most Baronies had been forced into a hellish life where they faced slaughter and death at every turn; never peace and life, as they most desired - they had now risen up and he had gained both allies in war and a secure base of operations, and one of supply, which was the most dreaded possibility in this path of action.

    Three of the holdings of the executed Barons had risen. They sent only six thousand men, but they had denied the Barons much, and Valerian was more than satisfied. Learning of the besiegement of the southern and central Free Cities, he was forced to the east and the coast, but he was leading a force in high spirits, albeit split into varying factions. He fully expected the mercenaries to turn, as they did, but not all did so, and he received warning of such. Two units - the Warwidows and The Legion of the Damned - and he surrounded the mercenary camp. Firign volley after volley of fire arrows in the night, they hurled pitch coated missiles in tot he interior. Many burned, but some attempted to break free, and were cut down in their hundreds. When the slaughter was done, Valerian called a council, weary to the bone of this stupidity amongst men. The Merecnaries that remained true were elevated in status, enlisted to the Western EMpire at a very generous pay rate, given permanence of employment, and they would form a part of the guard of the Warden of the West, once such a position was instated.

    He reached the Free CIty of Amalaire, he found it under heavy siege; it's walls were broken and there was vicious fighting in the three breaches that had formed. He was glad to see Imperial banners amongst the defenders, flying high, and saw his men hurling back the attackers. Without pause, he split his army, and struck hard - three sections struck the breaches, whilst Valerian attacked the forces of the Barons that good back from the walls. The battle raged, as the forces of the turncoat mercenaries would not surrender; they nlnew their fate if they did so, and it was a terrible day. None had gained the upper hand enough to end this, and Valerian heard of the fall of the southernmost Free City; he knew that the Bronial forces marched north even now, and was faced with what seemed like a possible defeat. Sending Aerial scouts to cover the south, he found they were less than eight hours hence. He prepared to withdraw from the immediate city, but decided instead to break into the city. Abandoning an assault on the Barons rearguards, he threw his men at the breaches, bursting through two in minutes, sending the attackers fleeing. The third held briefly, but the defenders came at them in huge numbers, tearing them apart, despite losses, for the attackers were the citizens of the city, and were filled with hate and vengeance.

    The Baronail army arrived, and formed up around the city walls. As they prepared to launch their assault, Mournweaver arrived, leading many of the free levies of the Barons' fallen Houses. He had allied two of the western barons, then defeated the remaining twop in a huge set piece battle. Leaving men to control, the investment of the defeated lands, he marched tot he east, to find a welcome, as Barony after barony had overthrown their 'leaders', each sending a few hundreds of their men to bolster a central army they were raising to march to Valerian's aid. Mournweaver gathered these men, and marched east at a mile-eating pace. He learned much as he went, and he learned of the dire situation Valerian was in. Sending many of the "free Men' south, to retake the city on the coats, he threw his Imperial troops east, arriving to the rear of the Baronial army that threatened Valerian. He knew his Brother's ways, and hurled his men in a section of tight wedges into the Barons' camps, aiming to take or kill the remaining leaders.

    The attack began before he could move, and he saw the breaches under assault. His men smashed into the camps, obliterating some of the defending forces, but meeting tough resistance in some. Valerian pressed from the walls, and the breaches in the north and centre collapsed, but the third breach was broken inwards, and Baronial troops surged into the city. Valerian was a man of strangely contesting morals, but he led a part of his force back into the city, to prevent the slaughter of it's people, whilst many formed up to assist Mournweaver. The fighting was appalling, men dying in hundreds; most of which were Baronial forces. The City was bitterly contested, until the mercenaries had been destroyed; the majority of what remained of the attackers surrendered. Outside the fields, similar events occurred, with one Baron being captured by his own men. As they lat down their arms, many of the Baronial men cheered Valerian and Mournweaver. The mercenaries were rooted out and massacred. It is doubtful that nay survived the purging of their ranks, as many were known amongst the defenders of the Free City, and their rosters were delivered to Valerian. Not a single name was unpicked at the day's end.

    Over the next three months, the 'Heartlands' were formed, given that name by the people that lived there, as they gave their hearts to Valerian and his fair hand at rule. The Free Cities were eager to match this adulation and gave up their status to form the trading ports of the Heartlands. The loyalty of this Province's people never lost their loyalty, never betrayed their new master - for a thousand years and more, they remained the most solid of all Imperial Provinces.

    Over those months, Valerian managed to reforge his legions, and more came from Provinces...Kyrini from Valadir marched south, with men of that Province in tow, men from the East came in larger numbers, and new Legions - the Heartland Legions - were formed, great in number. He learned of the Daikini (which is death with elsewhere), who he brought heel swiftly, and then of the provinces to the west; Kiris and Taichondra, and of Nehemis and Caria to the south. Seeing the problems of the south in minutes, he turned instead west, to Kiris and Taichondra.

    TAICHONDRA
    When Valerian studied Taichondra, he found a land of forest and marshes, inhabited by a proud race of humanity. AMongst them lived deeper creatures, and Valerian wouldn't consider their involvement in what was to come. His scouts were lost, each party simply disappearing, never to return. His Spurhawks could not penetrate the canopies of the forests, and thus he was sightless. Valerian was never a fool, so he led a massive force, sixty thousand strong, to the borders and stood alone at the break of the forests, standing with a flag of white, to parley with what awaited him.

    Two days, he stood alone, his men growing ever more nervous, yet they obeyed his command, and nothing was sent to him, nor did any enter the forests. On the third day, hew awoke from a fitful sleep, to find a tall man sitting by a small fire, a fire that did not consume wood, yet glowed with a depth of colour, it's warmth radiating in the cold morning air. Beside the man stood a creature that Valerian had heard of only in impossible legends; it was one of the Ispir Rhysthari - a Taint Healer, a lizard, small in stature, yet it radiated power in waves even a human could feel.

    Together, they talked of many things. AMongst them were questions of Valerian's mind and nature, for he could not lie to this creature. He could feel it in his instincts, and this, above all else is what saved him a terrible war amongst forest and marsh, against man and Lizard; and the deeper beasts that lurked in mires and fogs. For two days, they talked, and Valerian's dreams were of peace and calm; for the first time in his life he felt at peace, the things that drove him so hard gone from his thoughts, and he felt he would never feel the need for conquest and the testing of his passions again. He was wrong in this, of course, but he understood the importance of what lay before him more than anything he had ever understood before. He was shown images in his waking light, pictures of far events, in place and time, and he could see the task of the Rhysthari, could feel the need for what they achieved, and he saw the threat of many things to come. This was what brought him to build the massive fortress of Hedrin, what drove him to stop his conquest at that point, to progress no further, and he saw what lay in wait for him in Nehemia - how terrible that struggle would be, and how necessary it was. Much of the Elves' nature was brought to light, and he knew how to gain entry to the Heron Kingdom, to breach the lists that prevented the passage of any foe, man or beast alike.

    At the end of the parley, a week had passed, and he walked from that camp a friend to the children of Ispir - the Rhysthari, and as Emperor of the new Province of Taichondra. At the forest's edge there materialised three thousand men of that place - the Long Knives, who would serve in their best capacity. He would find their skills invaluable in Nehemia, for they were the bane of beast or horse. Their lord was with them, and he stood at Valerian's shoulder for the remainder of his life.

    Kiris
    After the Taichondrans gave themselves to the Empire, Valerian was directed by them to the land of Kiris, as the Taichondrans beleived them to be of great importance in the battle they would find in Nehemia.

    Here lived the Lady of Light, called immortal by many, the great Lady of her people, benevolent and bright, and her people were wondrous in nature. Here had something unique come to be. Valerian entered the Province in peaceful attire. With him were most of his closest commanders. Mournweaver, the Lord Karan Ibelel of Taichondra, the war mistress of the Valadir Kyrini; many of his friends were there, and he was at the most vulnerable he could be. Kiris Adele, the Lady of Light was truly Immortal, in the terms of Man. She had lived for three thousand years, for she was Eleient; an Ascendent, given that status by the Elohim. An ascendent was a human that was gifted with Truth by the Elohim, gifted with the terrible grant of agelessness, for Eleint could not die through aging, nor were they easy to kill, for their life outside the flow of time wcould heal most wounds, reversing their flow to make them whole again. They could be killed, of course, but it took a bitter blow to truly slay them. With this Ascension came a terrible toll in many ways - easy to imagine what deathlessness could do to the spirit of a person, for they could see the world around them for what it was; all the cruelty and wrath of people brought painfully to the fore in the granting of wisdom. To see those you love wither before you, to witness all that was born of pain; this could break a person, but Kiris Adele was far stronger than most, and she ran her domain with all the grace that gave her her name - the Lady of Light.

    She came at the rise of the fourth dawn, with her Lightbringers; cavalry mailed in the purest silver hues, their cloaks purest white, unstained and unmarked by dirt or time. Their lances were held high and their bearing was keen, nobility in their graceful repose, aching with a glorious raiment.

    As the Lady Kiris drew close to Valerian, she found herself gazing down at a knot of men and women, whose faces were awash with emotion. One by one she looked at them, before she found Valerian, hiding at the rear. Him, she spotted and she dismounted to stride straight to him, kneeling to take his hand in hers. 'I have dreamed of you, my lord. In my dreams you are a light to the world. Yet you are not unknown to cruelty in the past, it has been burned from you by experience, and you are something to treasure; a base man raised high by his own hand, yet vulnerable to deceit, vulnerable to all emotion, good or base. You have the ability to make this EMpire a thing of stability in this world, yet it can also be the tool by which to destroy this fragile existence. I am torn, yet I would see this hope bear fruit, whether strangled by weeds, poisoned by parasites or brought to flower, you have a place in Fate.'

    Valerian was bemused, as were his generals, yet they stood before Kiris like children and their confusion was evident, their souls laid bare. Some wept, and were driven to their knees, and these would have betrayed their Emperor in later life. Others stood strong, even those who were seeing for the first time all the foul things they had done in life, and their loyalty was tested, but found to be true, as were their reasons for standing with their EMperor, by his side in war and in peace. None left that scene untouched, and those who would have brought ruin in their lives were changed by this epiphany.

    Valerian was taken to the castle of the Lady of Light, to meet her daughter,Loren, and to witness her domain for what it was. Hers was a land much like any other; there were those with great position, those with nothing, yet all worked together in the main; each had their place, and, despite conflict, despite the more deathly of human traits, the kingdom lay with one constant; the absolute of justice, mercy and truth. Where others simply wore this raiment, The Lady of Light, was made of this, and her belief in this was unwavering - in this, her people prospered, and they all but worshipped their Lady because of it.

    A week of celebration followed, and the group of Imperial Lords and Ladies were shown many things; they sat to witness her courts, they saw that commoner and noble were treated as equals, yet they saw how inevitable it was for human nature to bring each into conflict, and saw how unfairness was always in evidence amongst people, yet how it could be pushed with softness to become more equal, and that a person could be turned to a better way through subtle means. Yet they ever saw the other ways of rule, for it became painfully evident to themselves of their own flaws, as each considered their own methods and beliefs, and saw the weaknesses in themselves. It would not change them utterly, or swiftly, but they would not forget this, and that wa enough.

    AT the week's end, Kriris and her daughter gave Valerian an audience in their chambers, and much was spoken of. The war with Nehemia was at the heart of this, and, of course, the bringing of Kiris into Valerian's Empire was of much debate. Valerian gave his speech a deliberate and slow truth, and he spoke of his meeting with the child of Ispir, of his terrible temper, of the wrongs he had committed in his conquests, and of his fears that he could not be anything other than what he was. This was enough - to know doubt is the only thing that is needed to be a great ruler; for the lack of doubt in one's abilities, in decisions is the mark of a terrible dictator. To question your motives and your methods is to know humility in rule, and that was what leant Valerian the mark of greatness; to the Lady of Light, and her Daughter, this was enough. By far, it was enough, and Kiris entered the EMpire as a friend, as an ally, not as a tributary nation. This would stand for as long as the Lady of Light would have it, and she was given great stature in the Laws of the EMpire, to stand inviolate.

    Nehemia
    Nehemia is a land of vastness. The north is filled with flowing grasslands, fertile, dotted with hills and small valleys. In the centre lies Nemeth, the land's capital, built by ancient hands, carved back into a mountain. It is a massive plateau, flat entirely. Throguht centre of the plateau is a descendin ramp, drooping at a pleasant angle through the depth of the plateau, to end level with the plain below, a ramp of 600 metres in length, ending with a great gate, vastly tall, strong, built of wood and iron. Halfway along the ramp in a second gate, smaller, but also stronger still, the last bar to any forcing entry. This second gate can be attacked from above with impunity, the defender able to rain death down upon and invader as they desperately attmept to breach it. SHoudl they do so, the city is wide open. ALong the edge of the plateau, they have raised battlements of stone, cemented strongly to the stone edge, giving some form of preotection to the defenders, yet these battlements are not as strong as the natural rock.

    Deep within Nemeth are small fields, where crops are grown, and a natural stream flows through the entire city, to drop like a waterfall from the city's edge. It is a fine strongpoint, but not infalliable.

    The south of the realm is filled with sparse steppes, and little grows there; this is where the more nomadic peoples live, driving vast herds before them, and many smaller villages and a few towns mark trading points, but are walled only by timber stockades, although some have small foundations of stone, topped by palisades of wood. This is a harsh kingdom to bring law to, and to conquer it is a task beyond most, but Valerian had been shown visions of the place, filled with darkness, and he had sworn to bring the land to heel, to bring some form of decent rule to the land, and to elevate it above it's most base nature. It is a harsh land, where justice is unknown; right is decided mostly by the largest force, and the desire to win through any means decides it's leaders. The north is less lawless, but it still is held by the ways of the south. Most of the northerly lands send tribute to the south, for there has been war before, and the north burned for it. Only in Nemeht reigns any form of government, for the clans cannot take the place by storm, and their leaders are allowed within only with small guard detachments. Law here is with purpose, yet it is withered by years of it's abuse, and few if any have any honour.

    There is darker purpose here, too, deep within it's society, for there lurk things of evil intent, forebears of a future menace so great that it would consume the entire world in flames and death. This was Valerian's purpose in coming here, because there was little else to value in a war to conquer Nehemia.


    NEHEMIA partII

    Valeiran at last moved to take Nehemia. He knew he could expect no aid from alliances or promises, as history showed that they never kept any word they gave. Only a fool would naively walk into the land expecting to divide and conquer, for these tribes and clans were ferociously independent of any outside influence, and would unite whatever happened. Monies given would be sent south, to aid the defenders, and there were none that wished things to change - none with any ability to help such and effort for certain.

    He had spent three months gathering the might of the EMpire. The East had come; chariots from Telmior, Dalthrasian Pike, Wardens from Duinir - ANgelbloods, Saladir Silver Lancers, Lionhearts from the Karesi...legions of the East. Supplemnted by Kadasandran Guard Legions, Ancillian Pitdogs and warriors of the Sun Kingdoms - Young Sons and small numbers of more obscure units. In the East he had the warriors of Valadir, the Taichondran Long Knives, Lightbringers from Kiris. Even Daikini forces and Void Knights were gathered. With a hundred thousand men and women he had come to the northern borders, yet he knew he was facing something different to what he had faced before. For the first time, he actually doubted the outcome. He was nervous, even scared. Above all, he was a man of action, and he threw these worries aside. The war for Nehemia began.

    Valerian split his forces into ten groupings. Each had two thousand mounted troops at the least, each had five hundred Spurhawk riders. Four thousand Legion bow and foot combined, one thousand Guard Legion troops and then between two and three thousand of his Provincial elites. One force went each of his best commanders. Kiris, the Lady of Light and her Daughter, Loren, took one column. Mournweaver another. Marene Valak, Lady of the Valadir Kyrini led in the east, with Grimwell Haradh, Lord of Valadir in another. Taichondrans marched under Karan, their lord, and with them went three hundred Rhysthari Lizard-folk. Elsewhere the commands of Jensen Prowl ploughed onwards, Prince ANhedrin of Diakin led the Daikini and much of the Void Temples' strength and Imrin Elcontar, father of the future Warden of the West, led alongsideArian Sepcever, the daughter-Warden's future aide. Darian Lune led the tenth column by the sea route, to land upon the lands south east of Nehemia, promised safe guidance through Nidon Hal at the right moment. AT his command and his judgement were five thousand of the Imperial Marines, the armed forces of the Navy, based at Fleet. The last thing Valerian had done was to see his friends, the True Dragons, and discuss the campaign with them, and this had borne strange fruit indeed.

    NOTE: In this time, Valerian had travelled to the Heron Kingdom, the home of the Ildiri, which I'll detail later (forgot, sorry), and in his army marched three thousadn Lidir, hidden in the garments of Imperial Kadasandran elites, a 'newly formed' (and non-existant) unit, which were basically Ildiri.

    Valerian, for the first time, was the last to enter Nehemia, and his force was stronger than the others. He was warded by sixty Void Knights, the Ildiri (who had one hundred 'Masques of Idian' - their most powerful battle CHannellers), and had a decent display of other units; the Angelbloods marched only with him, as they refused any other psoting - he numbered nigh on twenty thousand once the force came together, which none other than Kiris and Mournweaver knew of.

    The eight main columns marched south, but at a reasonable pace. The war would not be won by surprises - more likely they would be surprised themselves, and the troops' freshness was paramount. Each encountered little resistance beyond hundreds of gaping mouths and the occasional band of scouts of the Nehemian Ponies, the hardy platforms from which Nehemians often fought - endless stamina seemed to be their main trait, but they had others too, as would be discovered. The main eight forces were to open the way to Nemeth, but they were to scour the countryside and report the positions and numbers of all settlements on the way, although these were to be untouched save for their marking by Spurhawks, who would fly patrols over them consistently.

    The armies made good time, and they began to see resistance gathering. One Spurhawk patrol put the numbers of one band of pony-raiders at three thousand strong, and many other bands were forming, albeit smaller in number. As the enemy began to gather, the eight armies halted, and each raised a fortification. They began as wooden forts, able to hold two thousand men, and five hundred horses, or two hundred SPurhawks, but the armies had carried stone, for it would not burn (and fire was a nehemian love in war), and the wooden palisades were slowly replaced by stone. Herds were brought with them, and now the forces began to gather in the herds of surrounding clans that could be pinned down, or small settlements. Each was given compensation in grain. Several small skirmishes broke out, and all Nehemians that resisted were slain or simply driven off. Silent eyes followed their passage of retreat from the skies above.

    Thus a string of fortifications sprung up towards the ending of the fertile lands and the beginnings of the steppes, where nothing grew.

    The progress seemed good. What seems good in Nehemia is not often true.

    Two things cocured at roughly the same time on the same morning. The fortress under the command of Lord Karan of the Taichondrans was attacked early in the morning, just before dawn took a strong grip in the sky. A second attack took place in the easternmost army, under Adele Kiris, the 'Lady of Light', and this was the more surprising, and the more devastating.

    twelve thousand or more riders of Nehemia attacked the forces of Taichaondra that morn, and they swept through the surrounding camp to the south of the ortress, finding it utterly empty, at first, as they burned tents will pirtchers of oil, cast from ponyback. As they waited for the blankets to rise, for the screaming to begin, and their targets to go down under Nehemian Horsebows, the Taichondrans, the Long KNives, struck. These men fought on foot, purely. They had no reason for horses, and they knew this to be a massive flaw, so they had trained their warriors for a hundred years to kill horses. Sweeping low, under the bellies of the ponies, they swept inot the riders, and tore them apart, the long knives rising, cutting, then releasing, ponies collapsing even as they swept clear of the falling bodies. They rose quickly, and the riders died along with their poines. Hundreds went down in an instant, and the Nehemians reeled. To them, their ponies were almost holy, and they had given them invicncibility time and agian. As their warriors reeled, the Lancers of the Imperial Legions struck, and wedges penetrated through the ranks of the Nehemians, to wheel and fight clear. From that point, it became a massacre, albeit with loss to the Imperial force. The raiders broke, leaving five thousand dead or fallen behind. Eeven as they broke, the Spurhawks swept down upon them, tearing ponies and rider from the ground, to break them, hurling them amongs their fellows.

    To the East, however, things went differently. One thing that Valerian had no knowledge of was the Sky Temple of Nehemia, located in the south east of the realm.

    Another break, sorry.


    NEHEMIA part III

    The Nehemian Sky Temple was a religious district, home of the Nehemian Skybulls. I lay in the centre of a vast area of steppes, a tall, twisted, mountain that was flat-topped, upon which rested the pillared SKy Temple, an edifice of white marble, ancient and strangely brooding, it's walls and roof streaked by burns made from lightning striking the metals on the roof, which hummed with a dull, insistent sound, rising to a roar during the heaviest storms. Aroudn the temple were the stables of the great Skybulls; huge horned beasts that rode on lightning, flying high in the sky, gathering energies from clouds, which they could agitate to bring on storms, or even gather sheets of glowing light to run along, their black hooves blurring with white streaks of lightning, like metal dragged along metal, sparks flying, hissing, scattering - in war, they could even send bolts of blue energy down, to smash into their earthly foes.

    In this battle, they were unexpected, to be brief; they began the attack with savage strikes that rained down on the defenders' encampment - sixty bulls streaked through the sky and bolts struck again and again -tents were fired, armoured men cooked in their mail, hideously burned, their screams appalling. On the tide of this assault came the men of Nehemia. Three thousand Horse Archers rained fire into the camps, fire arrows torching the area, even as footmen gathered to throw oil amongst them, spearmen dealing with men as they fled fro the fires. All was chaos, until the Lady of Light appeared. With a hundred Lightbringers, she charged from the fortress, her robes flying behind. As she rode, light gathered about her, and flared inot the sky, blinding the Skybulls, who began to throw lightning everywhere, striking each other as much as troops on the ground. They fled swiftly to their temple, and the defence of the camp began without their terrible presence.

    The Lightbringers broke through the attackers, and began to cut down the infantry, clearing an are, into which fled her own men. Many were dea, but Kiris gathered a decent force, and a surging wave of Nehemians broke upon it. Arrows flew from the Horse Archers, and they swirled like bird-swifts around her position. However, she had bought time for the northern camps to organise, and the Legions came. In the north were the horse-herds, protected more heavily than other parts of the camps, and the Lancers swiftly engaged Horse Archers. Many had managed to disangage the Lancers, but hundreds were caught in a vicious melee, one they could not win. Larger horses and better armour was carrying the day there, and then Kiris was upon them, three hundred Lightbringers tearing through the Horse Archers that had puled fre fro t he Lancers.

    Elsewhere, infantry engaged each other, but the men of the Empire were outnumbered. Their mail kept most alive for now, but the pressure of the attackers was beginning to tear the formations of the invaders apart. Kiris managed to drive many Nehemians off, her attack vicious and desperate, and she returned to crash into the rear of the foot warriors. The battle wore on for some time, until the dead lay in mounds about the field, but Kiris was the light of Vengeance, and wherever she went, her foes shrivelled. Her mere presence was beginning to tell, and the Horse Archers reassembled and attacked, this time to cover the retreat of the Nehemians, as the footmen returned to their comrades, each gaining the back of another rider's pony as they rode off, each pony double-mounted. The day had not been won in the slightest, but the men of that tattered army were alive, at the least, Five thousand lay dead and the scorched bodies of the fifty Spurhawk scouts were discovered later that day - the warning never brought to Kiris that would have saved much of what she had lost.

    She sent the remaining Spurhawks to attempt to locate the home of the Skybulls (Note: They could see the mountain of the SKy from their position of course), and withdrew much of her force into the fortress, which now became a haven, rather than a symbol of conquest. Designed for the comfort of two thousand, it would stretch to twice that, leaving a thousand riders and scouts on duty outside the walls at any one time. It was the biggest blow to befall the Empire at this time, but not the last.

    Similar attacks were launched over the next week, and no single force had escaped engagement save for Valerian's own, by the week's end. For the most part they were merely probes, but there were losses on both sides, and no clarity on either.

    The war took on a different urgency once Valerian assumed his position, two miles from the walls of Nemeth. He could see the disparate forces of Nehemians falling back to it's gates, and left them to gain entry. He had every reason to allow as many as possible to enter the city, and had men south of the city attacking and driving men and their families north. His own force camped away from the main 'road' into the city. Spurhawks ranged around the whole area, reports coming in swiftly of enemy movements, which were swift and highly organised, as the gathered a sizeable force. The entire Air cavalry was sent to strike at them in force, and they scattered the smaller bands gathering, splintering their plans, killing droves of their riders for small losses.

    The main change in those first weeks was the emergence of Jensen Prowl, who sent his main force of men to the defence of their fortress, with new plans to extend the walls, taking his Legion Lancers, his Spurhawks and the riders of Saladir, sweeping across the sparse grasslands as they fell to steppes. He gathered more men from other commands, and began to punish the Nehemians, sweeping into their forces, one after another, his sword, Panther, gaining him the name he would later bring to the Ghaurchlai Genocide in such strength. His men rode like a storm of vengeance, littering the steepes with dead Nehemians, and captive foes began to file into the nearer fortresses.

    It was at this point that the truly vicious warriors of Nehemia beagn to arrive in the more northerly lands. These were the best of that land, and they arrived in thousands. The more terrifying event was the arrival of the Gorecrows, two thousand riders, armoured in black, riding Carian Warhorses, stolen in raids, or bought from frightened fools. These armoured cavalry were taller than the usual Nehemians, and they were covered in mail, black plate, their very presence bringing a roiling fear that was nothing to do with mere mne. THESE were what Valerian had been warned of. When Jensen Prowl brought news of their arrival, Valerian began to plan for their demise, but even he could not have imagined their battle skills.

    The siege of Nemeth began a month into the invasion. Valerian arrayed his main force across the expanse of the walls, calling in Boreal Harker and his men from the camp of the Lord of Valadir. Two thousand heavy foot arrived with banners high, and Harker was given Valerian's force, save for his Ildiri, the ANgelbloods and a few other distinct disions. He lft behind sixteen thousand men for the siege, and left with six thousand of his own. Striking west, he joined Mournweaver, and then drew in the forces of Imrin Elcomntar, who left behind a simple garrison in his own fortress. Long Knives and the few Rhysthari wandered into his camp a day later, and he couldn't help but smile at their betrayal of his orders, grateful for their presence. The siege bagn with a massive bombardment by forty siege engines. After two days, they abandoned any attempt on damanging the walls, simply tearing down parts of the battlements, and then the bombardment turned to one of fire and phosphors, endless and patient.

    The war began to split distinctly into the western and eastern forces. Kiris became the light of the Eastern armies, whilst Valerian and Mournweaver led the West. Between the two, Jensen Prowl operated, and he drove deeply behind enemy lines at times, always retreating before the heavy cavalry of the Gorecrows. It appeared that he had become their main enemy in all of this.

    In the East, Kiris led an attack on the Sky Temple, her men securing the lower paths swiftly, but constant storms kept her from rising much further. She chose to besiege the Temple at first, but her patience had a cost to her mens' belief, and she was forced to desperate action. Leading her Lightbringers, she began to advance further, and her forces battled with guards of the Temple for two dfays, winning slight ground, but she finally gathered what power her ascension had lent her, and she led her forces in a ball of glowing light that protected them from the storms. Each blow of the storms crashed into her light, and she felt the pain of each jolt, but her men surged up the cliff-lines, smashing through the temple gaurds. As SKy Bulls took to flight, wheeling to unleash their own strength upon her, she sent rays of golden light amongst them, and they withdrew, but her own defence suffered, and suffered from fractured ribs that tested her will throughout the entirety of the war.. Her men gained the upper reaches, and were met by the very priests of the temple, each of them elderly, a mass of white hair and creased skin, cross-crossed by tattoos. As her eyes fell upon the tattoos, she understood their purpose, and they, hers. None speak of what happened on that mountain, but, at it's ending, the SKy Temple was taken by parley rather than force, and Sky Bulls flew no more against the EMpire, but neither did they fight for Valerian. Kiris established a garrison on the Temple mount, and her Spurhawks were gathered there in force.


    NEHEMIA Part IV

    New orders from Valerian were taken to all commanders in the field. The centre of the East and West were to hold solidly along the same line as Nemeth, whilst the forces gathered under Kiris in the east and Valerian in the West, whilst Jensen Prowl carried his private war to the Nehemians. It was at this point that the Nehemians attacked the fortress of the Valadiri, closest to Nemeth in the eastern part of Nehemia. The Nehemians borke against the stone walls, but the Gorecrows were in the van, and they broke the gates, pouring into the frtress. Grimwell Haradh fought in the centre of the defenders, whilst Marene Valak led the wall defence amongst her Valadir Kyrini. The battle wore on, but the defenders were being slowly annihilated. Their reserves had moved to aid the fortress, and the battle was the most bloody thus far. Haradh was wonunded, pulled from the grip of the Gorecrows by Kyrini warrior-maidens. Marene led her forces tot he walls, and they escaped over the northern wall, as the Valdiri of Haradh were cut to pieces by the Gorecrows. Few of their number had fallen in the entire battle, but The Kyrini took one of their dead with them, to study their strange armour for weaknesses. Leading a fighting reatreat, the Kyrini managed to get clear, their legions linking with them as the rest of their forces were slaughtered in the field.

    Marene fled towards Nemeth, and she was able to lead two thousands of the nine that began alive that day to Nemeth. The bodies of all dead in that battle were gathered, as were all that were wounded or captured, and the Gorecrows hung them on posts dug into the ground, calling down carrion birds to feast on the dead and living alike. When news reached the other warcamps, the effect was different in each. Jensen Prowl reacted instinctively, his fury soon to be felt by the people of Nehemia as he led the force known as 'Prowl's Panthers' to a new war, but first, he raced north, to the body of the Gorecrow.

    Valerian reacted in wrath. He revealed the Ildiri in their shining glory, knowing that the Gorecrows would come for them, for they knew now that they were nothing of mortal design. Marching south, his men began to gather the folk of Nehemia, sending them north in large numbers, to be gathered by his border forces into camps prepared before his march began. Moving swiftly south, he sent Spurhawks to bring Darian Lune to battle, before m,oving towrads the centre of the land, to come behind the Gorecrows. He was met there by a massive army of Nehemians, come to aid their northern kin and battle ensued. At it's height, Valerian's men were surrounded, pressed on all sides. Outnumbered, he fought amongst his men, with Mournweaver beside him, his Ancillians fought to protect the Emperor as he grew ever more reckless. The Ildiri fought in serried ranks, their weapons bright with blood, and they fared better than any. In their centre stood the Imhrain Imrauhn, the fighting elite of the vaunted Swan Knights, and nothing would stand against them. The Masques of Idian were unveiled at the battles' height, and they threw ice shards at their foes, great gouts of water crashing amongst them, absorbing missile fire, then sweeping aside the riders who fired them. Time and again, the Nehemians attempted to break the Ildiri, and they failed everytime, but the Masques were tiring, their displays of power beginning to wane.

    The sway of the battle moved between the two forces, but the magic of the Ildrii had exacted a tool; never had these warriors met anything like the Ildiri, never had magic been anything more than a nightmarish tale, and this Emperor was a great warrior, ravaging their best warriors; already the champions of five clans had fallen to his blade. He was a man that could dare to weara crown, and some amongst the Nehemians began to pull away from the fighting. Slowly, more did so, until, the lines had fallen silent. The army of Valerian stood in silence, whilst the Nehemians began to roar, saluting this giant of a man, this warrior lord, Valerian. They gathered their men and saluted once more, then they rode from the battlefield, leaving only their clan chiefs to speak to this Emperor amongst men.

    The parley that followed was like a dream for the army of Valerian. They had been staring death in the face before the warriors of this mad land fell back, only to salute the EMperor and ride away. Such was unknown to them. As the parley began, they simply stared at one another, stunned, until exhaustion took them, or wounds claimed their strength, and many collapsed, or slid down to sit amongst the blood and mud that the battle left in it's wake. The parley lasted for the rest of the day, and, by the evening, the Nehemians had removed all dead, to be burned in honour. Such had been explained by their commanders to them - this was an honour indeed. After the Ildiri treated the wounded, and the Rhysthari had closed mortal woumnds, or their magic had reset broken bones, as if never broken, the Nehemians sent them food. Great pits were dug for the roasting of great-horned cows, and the madness of the day slipped into a surreal night of friendship that most expected to end on the morrow in the deaths of all of Valerian's force. Many simply slept, others ate well, for, if this was their last night, they would at least die well-fed. The morning brought different news though, for the Emperor had ended this small part of a larger war. The chieftains of the many clans gathered had agreed not to fight the EMpire anymore. They would not join them, but they no longer wished to see him dead. Instead, they would fall back to their own lands, there to defend against their enemies in Nehemia, or to rage against the Emperor if he broke his word. Even Valerian was mystified by this change; but he was never fool enough to turn down an offer such as this either.

    The Lady of Kiris in the east moved gathered the majority of the forces there, and moved against the Nehemians in the southern part, below the Sky Temple. She broke a sizeable force, and pushed towards the border with Caria. Here she was met by the Iron Lords of Caria, who brought 5000 heavy horse with them, joining her army. These she sent to Jensen Prowl, whose target was The Gorecrows. An attack on the north east had led to a repulsion of a force containing a small number of Gorecrows, who were unable to retrieve their fallen, as Jensen Prowl prssed from the south. Their remainder fled, but bodies of fifty or more were abandoned. Prowl's forces claimed them and they were revealed in their deaths as something less than human. Prowl moved towards Nemeth.

    Valerian had sent a mass of supplies southwards, to relive the Nehemians there from the blockade of food they had been suffering from. In return, they deepened their agreement. One clan sent 600 horse archers to fight the Gorecrows. Valerian moved across the southern part of Nehemia , to the centre, where he would founf Hedrin later. Here, he raised a larger wooden fortress. Darian Lune's men were housed here after their passage through Nidon Hal, and then marched north to join Jensen Prowl. The Lady of Light was freed to move against the last bastion of the southern Clans, and besieged their main town, Karkaudar, which she intended to bring to heel without violence.

    In the north, the Gorecrows assaulted the forces of Arian Sepcever outside Nemeth, and his forces were barely holding their ground against their terrible foes. No forces issued from Nemeth, and it was later discovered why this was - Sepcever was grateful for that respite, but his men were falling around him, and he knew they would not last the day. This entire horror was shattered by Jensen Prowl's arrival. Riding at the head of his own horse, flanked by the Lords of Caria, he struck the Gorecrows, who had turned to meet him. Hi infantry and archers moved in on both flanks, and the Nehemians began to fall in numbers. Sepcever held his ground for the beginning, his men breathing at last, the intensity of terror the Gorecrows had wrought on them fading.

    The Gorecrows fought like demons, and the clash was horrific. Carians and Imperial forces died in droves. As the courage of the Carians faded before the Gorecrows, the Lady of Light arrived with her Lightbringers of Kiris. She had left the majority of her forces some miles distant, maybe a day or more's march, but she had seen the danger Prowl was in. Despite the Nehemians breaking around the knot of horsemen, the Gorecrows were turning Prowl's men. He was a giant, and he slew two dozen men alone. The Lady of Kiris struck the Gorecrows, and light blazed from her being. Their intense magic dispersed, they were vulnerable, and Prowl's men grew in purpose. The Carians roared their new-found vigour, and the Gorecrows were torn apart, their ranks crumbling. They did not break, or run, and it is said that not a single one lived or was captured. Those that were not slain in battle took their own lives before capture.

    The Nehemians were already in tatters. Many has surrendered before the Gorecrows failed, and the few that fought until that moment fell silent, filled with a stupor. At the last, the gates of Nememth opened, and a knot of riders slowly moved amongst the dead, to stand before Prowl and the Lady of Kiris. They had brought with them a number of chieftains, and the bodies of some of the Gorecrows, whom they delivered for execution, citing their crimes. As a whole, the city surrendered, and the news of their struggles within their walls was given. Surrender had been in their hearts for some time, but the more violent of the commanders had swiftly executed all who spoke of such.

    With the fall of Nemeth, the war was over for the most part, and Valerian followed his methods elsewhere, delivering huge amounts of aid, hunting down the more oppressive and lawless of the Nehemian chiefs, whilst allowing them to settle their lands in their own lawful ways. Whilst doubts lingered in some hearts, many applauded Valerian as a saviour, as the brutal hold of the south was broken, the north ruled as equals, and the better of men in the south given freedom to govern to their best ability.

    Last edited by Shankbot de Bodemloze; March 12, 2013 at 02:22 PM.

  4. #4
    Squeaks's Avatar Being All Mimsy
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    Default Re: UNITS & LORE Preview part 2

    Part two of part two released!

  5. #5
    HTVfanatic's Avatar Shashu
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    Default Re: UNITS & LORE Preview part 2: RELEASED

    Amazing Squeaks haven't read much of it, but the units are really cool. Will come back and read when I have the time, its really interesting.

  6. #6
    Kaiser Leonidas's Avatar Lord of the Cheese
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    Default Re: UNITS & LORE Preview part 2: RELEASED

    I don't think I ever realised quite how much lore there was floating around here, this is going to take a long time to read properly.

    Once again congratulations to everybody involved and as you you wanted me to take some credit, I guess those screenshots do look rather dashing .

  7. #7
    Squeaks's Avatar Being All Mimsy
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    Default Re: UNITS & LORE Preview part 2: RELEASED

    Seen the other part of the Units release too?

    I am, we are very proud of it. We're amateurs entirely, but we've given it a good go!

    I'll await your reply when you've peekd properly. It was never intended to be read in one day, week or month. It's just there if you want to see it. It's been 13 years since it began.

  8. #8
    Squeaks's Avatar Being All Mimsy
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    Default Re: UNITS & LORE Preview part 2: RELEASED

    Quote Originally Posted by Kaiser Leonidas View Post
    I don't think I ever realised quite how much lore there was floating around here, this is going to take a long time to read properly.
    Uhm, yes. I will be VERY surprised if ANYONE actually reads it

    Once again congratulations to everybody involved and as you you wanted me to take some credit, I guess those screenshots do look rather dashing .
    This far far from any single person's production. BAD!!

  9. #9
    danny X's Avatar M2TW Mapper
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    Default Re: UNITS & LORE Preview part 2: RELEASED

    Damn all these units, from both unit previews, are wonderful!

  10. #10
    Namorath's Avatar Discens
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    Default Re: UNITS & LORE Preview part 2: RELEASED

    after seeing these unit previews, I have come to the conclusion this world is full of the ugliest people in existence
    because everyone is wearing masks or full helmets (except for two of the desert elves units)

    the dragon has beaten everyone with the ugly stick

  11. #11
    Squeaks's Avatar Being All Mimsy
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    Default Re: UNITS & LORE Preview part 2: RELEASED

    You're not wrong there I guess. There are a fair few units with no masks at all, and if they're the pretty ones, then it's no good at all.

    I enjoy making helmets and stuff, as it's far more interesting to me than making 'actual' faces, or pinching them from other places and pasting them in.

    Quite a few generals will be open-faced...Ilien's own model has no helmet at all, just red hair bound by silver thorns and roses. Most 'heroes' will have faces....Anna Sanda, Lian Sanda and others.

    It's really also based on faction...the fief levies of the principality are not big on hiding their heads. Ashapur aren't big on showing them at ALL. Iryn Thaan are too cold to start showing faces.

    Elves and stuff would just be weird to see. The Dwarves are not beardy under there, and they can't see well in bright light, so their hats keep the light from fully blinding them. Just rambling now.

  12. #12
    Namorath's Avatar Discens
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    Default Re: UNITS & LORE Preview part 2: RELEASED

    since this is your world squeaks you are a cruel god
    how is the pageant industry going to survive if you keep making ugly factions!

  13. #13
    danny X's Avatar M2TW Mapper
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    Default Re: UNITS & LORE Preview part 2: RELEASED

    Quote Originally Posted by Namorath View Post
    since this is your world squeaks you are a cruel god
    how is the pageant industry going to survive if you keep making ugly factions!
    I don't know what pictures you're looking at mate

    The units need substantial protection from magic etc, Squeaks has revolutionized magic and unlocked many things that previously was thought impossible, therefore each faction has evolved to use helmets like you would wear shoes when you go out-side.

  14. #14
    Squeaks's Avatar Being All Mimsy
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    Default Re: UNITS & LORE Preview part 2: RELEASED

    He is saying it kindly Danny.

    With helmets thing; it's like 'where are awful units?' thing. I wouldn't want to go and get battered on the head if I had access to hats. Masks/full faces are partly down to protection, partly because it makes some looks fearsome, or doesn't show fear on faces etc. It's also partly because I like it, partly because the cultures are developed beyond medieval earth; they maintain large regular armies for protection etc; they don't want to lose every decent smith through levying them all and watch the inept die horribly. In the mod, when any settlement is attacked, the 'locals' will defend their homes. Pretty naff units, badly equipped, poorly trained etc. They will be unlikely to have 'professional' arms and armour, and will most certainly have faces and stuff. They're simply not wanting to die without a little scrap. They will pop up, fight, if they win they will disappear back into their society again - if they lose they're dead anyway.

    As Danny said, there is magic flying all over the place...if the stuff passes through a soldier, or whips around them, or anything else...poisons of the Chitkinnen, fire, decomposing or suppurating Abyssal magic etc etc etc, then it WILL just melt your face, poison you, drive you mad or many other things. Hydra venom, Dragonfire, acids, Khezdruli lightning...ALL of this will kill; a Helm and mask will limit this to a degree that is important.

    Then there are races that need these helms just to survive...Dwarves to see in daylight (some are used to it - Azaraghal's lot for instance), others to hide 'inhumanity' from others, or for many as symbols of office (very important to some factions...Federation, The Only Church and others), or to scare people, even to focus magic, or control it, to breathe even; the rats use Steamskin, the odd weirdies from Lian Elune use stuff to keep their fluids from drying up outside the sea or lakes.

  15. #15
    danny X's Avatar M2TW Mapper
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    Default Re: UNITS & LORE Preview part 2: RELEASED

    Yeah i know, I got a bag on!

  16. #16
    Namorath's Avatar Discens
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    Default Re: UNITS & LORE Preview part 2: RELEASED

    i was trying to be funny that all

    it was my own goofy reasoning on why there are no faces

  17. #17
    Squeaks's Avatar Being All Mimsy
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    Default Re: UNITS & LORE Preview part 2: RELEASED

    Yep. Wouldn't want any humour there would we? I think only the Ghaurchlai would display their children with blonde wigs and vast amounts of make up.

  18. #18
    esaciar's Avatar Pili
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    Default Re: UNITS & LORE Preview part 2: RELEASED

    This has to be one of the most ambitious and exciting mods I've come across in Total War.

    It is a sheer joy to behold such ingenuity, creativity, commitment and passion for a project. The time an effort that has obviously gone into this is phenomenal and I am so excited to play this I can't possibly describe it.

    The depth and beauty of this mod is staggering and I can merely applaud Gods as an awestruck mortal...


  19. #19
    Squeaks's Avatar Being All Mimsy
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    Default Re: UNITS & LORE Preview part 2: RELEASED

    Quote Originally Posted by Stigweard Ruadhan View Post
    This has to be one of the most ambitious and exciting mods I've come across in Total War.
    ....and utterly nuts! Thanks though

    It is a sheer joy to behold such ingenuity, creativity, commitment and passion for a project.
    ....and utter nuttiness Again thanks...that's quite a thing to say! It is one of those things where you decide to try to do it, then put one foot in front of the other whilst doing it, so you get there somehow in the end

    There's two quotes I love, both from Lewis Carrol, both Alice in Wonderland...

    “Begin at the beginning," the King said, very gravely, "and go on till you come to the end: then stop.”

    and

    “Alice came to a fork in the road. 'Which road do I take?' she asked.
    'Where do you want to go?' responded the Cheshire Cat.
    'I don't know,' Alice answered.
    'Then,' said the Cat, 'it doesn't matter.”

    That's kind of everything in a nutshell.

    We do want to do something that's not average or mediocre. Doing this at all means we have to do it well, or it's not worth having done it

    The time an effort that has obviously gone into this is phenomenal and I am so excited to play this I can't possibly describe it.
    Thirteen rather up and down and somewhat obsessive years, not to mention left and right. Worth every biscuit too.

    The depth and beauty of this mod is staggering and I can merely applaud Gods as an awestruck mortal...
    Then, by the end, we'll hopefully fulfil it's potential, and reward people who say things like that. Somewhat humbled by that.

  20. #20
    esaciar's Avatar Pili
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    Default Re: UNITS & LORE Preview part 2: RELEASED

    You are most certainly welcome...


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