[Written] Essence Wars

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[Written] Essence Wars

Post  Jared T on Fri Jul 22, 2011 9:59 am

Found in the Lore section of the Final Haven website.

Notes on the Essence War... By: Garet Maevers

"The paragraphs below are from a book entitled "The History of the essence wars" that was thought to have been written in the early years following the war by one of the very few remaining Essence Mages. The book was my grandfather's prized possesion but it did not fair the cataclysm well. Most of its pages were burned. I am attempting, through the help of Elder Quetzel, to restore these pages with the aid of magic and alchemy."

-Garet Maevers, 1057

Once the cities-states of man stood proud, carving out their ordered existence from amid the wilderness under the guidance of the rotating triads. At least twelve of these states belonged to the league of mankind. They traded with one another in knowledge and goods, and as the time of the change subsided they grew in wealth and power.

The cities of the league were ruled over by a group of sorcerers called essence mages. They had academies in each city, and often traveled to share their knowledge. It is said that all were welcome to study among them, in the service of the state, for so long as one had interest in serving. Each city had three essence mages, one the Pri’it who made the laws and upheld the responsibility of governance, one who had previously held the post and stayed to advise the successor, and one who was in training for the rulership of the city. Each served five years at each post.

Those essence mages worked an art in the ancient style, similar it was said to the grand rituals used before the Splitting. Though many of their arts seem to have little impact, they had great skill in healing the mind and body, and were said to be able to travel from one place to another through the dreams of men, and Phantera.

Not long before I was born, some of these men and women began to disappear on their travels. This was not unheard of, as many of the creations of the splitting have yet to be eliminated. Phantera is not the place of bliss and harmony the elves tell us of the golden age before man came to be.

Rumors of darkness and nightmare within the dream began, and the essence mages investigated them, but always the darkness seemed to vanish when they approached, and no evidence of malfeasance was to be found.

Over the next few years villages and farms began to disappear, first in the hinterlands, and then closer to the city-states. Essence mages rode with the might of the city states at their back, but found little but roving mobs of orcs, and bands of savages. Patrols were strengthened and new guards enlisted, but this did not stop the growing discontent within the cities.

Crops began to fail, where the essence mages did not walk to strengthen root and seed, whole crops were blighted by disease. The hungry people began to grow discontent. Rumor spread that the essence mages were poisoning distant crops to force people to live under their rule.

In an effort to stop the destruction the essence mages began sending students from their academies, before their education was complete. They felt that if they could just protect all the villages, this malcontent would soon dissipate. Such was not to be.

Many atrocities followed in the next few years. First among them was the massacre at Sardonac. Eight young men and women were sent by the city state of Val’Terra into this distant village to provide much needed services for the locals in terms of crops and healing. Apparently a virulent plague had descended on the local population. The people of Val’Terra were known for their compassion and their gentle nature. The limit of their violence was in the hunting and wrestling contests they held annually to honor the bounty of their land.

The eight disciples of this city met with a tragedy beyond understanding in Sardonac. The people of that village were covered in leaking purple sores and pustules, their will to live seemed to have been drained away, and at night the village would echo with the screams of the suffering. During the day the people silently went about their business, with no word as to the pain they suffered.

The young mages quickly set up a hospice for the victims, and at first it seemed the village would recover. The people gradually began to heal, and the sounds of laughter again floated on the wind. They reported to their city that despite great difficulty, the work was progressing well.

On the second fortnight of their stay one of the disciples disappeared. She was found in the morning, with an iron spike driven through her forehead, holding her to the crossbar of the village well. Her body was frozen in rigor, her hands raised as though to cast a spell. Much good it had done her.

Her comrades sent word through a ritual by which essence mages are able to talk to one another over great distances. Val’Terra immediately dispatched troops, and many more essence mages at the academy there prepared to journey through the dream to the aid of their comrades in Sardonac.

In Sardonac, the seven remaining essence mages buried their fallen comrade, returning her to the life giving soil of Phantera. It was then a pale and tortured whisp bearing her likeness appeared before them, and spoke in rasping words of the ancient tongue of the An’Dar.

"Your prison of the splitting shall not hold me. I am the master of suffering, the lord of death, and all the living of Phantera will join me in my retribution or weep as they are crushed under my heal. My ten thousand years of suffering is ended and I shall feed again on the victims of this pathetic world. I am Shri’Illi’Aingun."

Thus did the great evil, once thought destroyed by the splitting reveal itself once more. Even as it spoke to them, the population covered in sores and boils rose against the essence mages and those few good people they had healed. In terror the young disciples and the peasantry not afflicted by this vile curse fled into the only stone building in the village. There they barricaded the door and called again for help from Val’Terra.

Three days they held that small building, fighting with every art at their disposal. In their last desperate hours the last essence mage among them, one Illinia Vonia sent word to her teachers, "We are lost and the black doom is upon us, all Phantera walks now in darkness."

For those three days, what terrors they endured is not known, only that the dream was blocked from their allies by swirling winds of nightmare and shadow. By the time the two score of essence mages sent to assist had breached the wards of nightmare, and reached the village, not a soul was left alive. The troops arrived from Val’Terra at nearly the same time, finding two thousand corpses in the vallage, not one whole. They were covered in the burns of pure life energy, some tangled in grasses and thorns conjured by those inside the building, others hacked at until scarcely a single limb remained intact.

The stone building in the center of town was breached, its doors torn asunder, and the bodies inside dragged into the street. On the back wall, a single message read ‘bow before your new master.’ And the headless corpses of seven essence mages lay prostrate before the wall.

The cults following Regis Mortem, or Shri’Illi’Aingun began soon after Sardonac. Followers marked themselves with a red tear, to symbolize the tears of blood the world would cry before being purified in their master’s vision. They were promised the spoils of rich cities, and the rich among them were promised rulership over the new world.

They were told that the corruption of the essence mages could no longer be allowed to stand unchallenged, and that with the aid of their master, even those killed by the essence mages and their armies would rise up from the dead to strike back at their murderers. And the dead walked among the living, and foul creatures of darkness and nightmare roamed the dream, seeking portals into the world of waking men.

Within two years of Sardonac, armed clashes between the servants of Regis Mortem and the League had become commonplace. Most of those confrontations the league lost. Communication between cities was reduced mostly to portal travel within five years, and within ten it was clear that mankind was loosing the struggle against the dead. Two of the great cities of the league fell in those first ten years of conflict.

The city of Armontage was felled from within. A single woman killed the ruling council in the depth of one dark night, and opened the gates. Dark masses of the dead and those who had allied themselves with darkness, orcs, some Ga’Vin, a few elves, burned and slaughtered the town.

The fall of Armontage marked the first schism among the elves, which had till now left this war to the humans. At Armontage, elves wielding dark powers granted them by Regis Mortem slaughtered the innocent, and the Queen of the elven people knew then that the cousins of her people who had been banished after the splitting for joining forces with Shri’Illi’Aingun in the first darkness were now walking the surface world again. It was true that many among the different races had sided long ago with this darkness before the splitting. At that time though, the dead did not walk the land of the living, this was a new twist, rendered possible only by the splitting. In this gap between life and death, the evil created by the arrogance of the races of Phantera found new power and a new source of sustenance. Where once he had fed off the very fabric of magic that held the world together, that cosmic power which exists in all elements of creation, now he drew sustenance from the fear and suffering of the living.

Soon three of the cities of the League were surrounded and under siege. The sieges lasted years, for the enemy was content for a while to feed on the suffering and fear of those within the cities.

What it had not counted on, was the enduring spirit of mankind. The shock and terror of the initial assaults was broken with a wave of pride that swept through the cities of the league. The essence mages discovered they could wield the full force of life energy with frightful power against the undead, conjuring blades of wrought energy from the air, and calling bolts of life force from the very earth beneath their feet to smite the minions of darkness.

With newfound courage these once peaceful men and women lead armies to battle against the servants of Regis Mortem. For a time they were successful, and through their aid, the sieges over cities of the league were lifted. Mankind proved to be made of stronger spirit than the creature had believed, for its elvish and Ga’Vin servants thought little of the short-lived humans and their petty weaknesses.

Knowing that its underestimation of mankind was due to the hobbling of its senses during the last war, the creature sought to free itself, knowing full well that with all of its powers regained, the world would easily fall into its grasp once more.

New armies were raised to plague the cities and villages of mankind, while its true purpose remained secret. It would have to break the seven seals created by the heroes of the last age. Those heroes had bound the seals to bowls of power with their lives, sacrificing themselves in the hope of powering the magic to defeat an immortal foe.

During this time the Elves and Dwarves also allied themselves with the league, for the fighting had grown truly desperate. The homeland of the Aviana was destroyed in the fighting, and the survivors fled to the winds. The clans of the Val’kin’vi were scattered and nearly destroyed, and many of the caravans of the Guthrie burned while making reckless journeys between towns to provide supplies and news to the desperate and starving people of different lands. Many towns owed their very survival to the fearless nature of the Guthries, and their willingness to deliver to any destination.

The great city of Halish disappeared in a sandstorm of blood. The city of Car’na’thon lay a shattered ruin at the bottom of a crevasse a mile deep, while a great plateau rose where verdant plains once ran.

In the city of Si’aad, close to the borders of fair Silv’an’dar where the lady Yilith a’Mirandia held court, a great essence mage fought to defend his city when all was lost. He thought to use the powers of darkness against their masters, to channel the powers of death and destruction into a circle protecting his fair city. Corrin al’Gerrad was the man who damned his own people.

His name is cursed, and in his madness he suffers still for what he has done. Corrin called upon the most powerful of rites, and drew a circle around the walls of his town as a dark army approached. He drew into himself the hope and life of the town creating a wall of destruction a mile high to wipe out his enemies. When it was done, not a single one stood, outside or within the walls. Corrin looked upon what he had wrought with horror, for he had killed his own people. He rushed to the nursery where his baby son lay still, and wailed in pain and suffering.

The lord of death then appeared to Corrin, and promised to return his son to him, in exchange for a service. His grief maddening, the fool agreed to serve the master of death in exchange for his son’s life.

The babe screamed as air filled its lungs once more, and the voice of madness filled Corrin’s head. He thought to outwit Regis Mortem, and wove a portal to send the child to Silv’An’Dar where the babe would be safe in the hands of the elves, but the lord of death was not done with him. The spell was halted, halfway through and the child never appeared.

As per his promise, Corrin gave his life to serve his lord. His essence was bound into the blade of time, a dark sword of ill power to shatter one of the sacred bowls binding the powers of his new master. As his lifeless body slumped in its ruined city, over the blade of a black sword his tears fell upon the earth, and where they touched, gateways to chaos were opened, and the fell minions of anarchy entered the world to revel in this time of destruction.

Jared T

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