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Topics - Sabrath_Kell

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16
World and Lore / Official MW Lore: The History of Etheria
« on: September 07, 2015, 10:25:04 PM »
The History of Etheria

Hey guys! I've been asked many time about the History of Etheria, and how all the references to past empires and gods and dragons all fit together. I've put together a brief history of Etheria here, as well as a visual timeline. I know this post is long, but hopefully it will serve as a foundation document if you have any questions.

Without any further ado, let's get started!



The history of Etheria is divided into five basic eras: Creation, the Golden Age, the Age of Catastrophe, Pax Etheria, and the Modern Age.

The calendar is arranged on the foundation of the Pellian Empire (PE). Everything after that foundation is considered the Modern Age, and everything before that is measured in years before the Pellian Empire (BPE).

The current year of Etheria is 1524 PE.

Now a little about each era.

Creation
In the beginning, the realm of Etheria was a void. Out of this void arose four beings of great power, referred to as the Elemental Lords:
Al Abbeden, Emir of the Roaring Fires
• Ugulanthu, Baron of the Rumbling Deeps
• Val’as Sherean, Mistress of the Murky Phantoms
• Ilasthasa, Duches of the Windswept Aeries
These four beings combined their essences to create the world of Etheria.

However, the Elemental Lords were not satisfied, and craved audience. Each created beings that closely identified with their own nature. Al Abbeden created the Grug, a grouping of races that includes Orcs, Goblins, Trolls and Giants. Ugulanthu created the Dwarves. Val’as Sherean created the Elves. And finally, Illasthasa created the Dragons.

For a time, the Elemental Lords were happy, but eventually they realized their creations were too much like themselves, and grew bored. As a result, the Elemental Lords once again joined forces to create a new, varied race, and called them Humans.

The Golden Age
The races thrived under the attention and tutelage of Elemental Lords. Soon, this burgeoning world of Etheria began to attract the notice of other powerful beings as well.

Other beings of power began to size up the might of the Elemental Lords, and the world they had created, and began to dwell in Etheria. The Elemental Lords took this as flattery, and did not disturb these new beings, thinking them friendly. However, the interlopers viewed the Elemental Lords as past their prime. More and more began to walk with and interact with the growing humanoid civilizations, and their personalities and attentions finally  began to displace the Elemental Lords power among the races. Ultimately, these beings were referred to as the New Gods.

The Elemental Lords were realized that their time had passed, and retreated back into the void to plot and scheme as to how they could one day take back their power.

In their absence, the New Gods organized themselves according to a new hierarchy, and as they did so, gained more worshippers. In return, they enlightened the world of the races, opening their eyes to knowledge and learning. The Eleven Kingdoms began to record history, and the first great Human kingdom, the Kingdom of Frelhal, arose.

The New Gods also shared the secrets of the magic, the secrets of the Voltari and V’tar with their worshippers, something that the Elemental Lords had kept for themselves and only their most trusted servants. As knowledge of V’Tar spellcraft great, a wave of great prosperity washed across the land. This was the Golden Age for Etheria, and it was a time of miracles and unimaginable achievements. There has not been a time of greater knowledge since.

The Age of Catastrophe
Finally, from the recesses of the Void, the Elemental Lords decided the time to reclaim Etheria had come. They combined all their power, and convinced the Dragons to fight along side them for their cause. They attacked the civilizations that had turned to the New Gods, striking across the length and breath of Etheria. This was called the Elemental Wars, and as it progressed, battles raged, cities burned, and the very land itself was reshaped and transformed through war-wielded V’Tar power.

Finally, Nailiana, the leader of the Dragons and the first dragon created, was slain. Despite the atrocities of war that they had already seen, this event galvanized the Dragons, and they withdrew their support from the Elemental Lords. Without their help, the Elemental Lords were severely weakened, and were eventually beaten.

Civilization went about the task of repairing much of the damage the war had inflicted. The High Elves founded the nation of Sortilege as a source of learning in the ashes of the conflict. Seeing the destruction that limitless, unfettered V’Tar magic wrought, the New Gods passed onto their worshippers a new method of slowly drawing upon magical energy (channeling), and spending it to create specific effects, known as spells. In time the races learned to research and develop their own spells. The New Gods organized these spells around their own pantheon to create the systems of magic that would later become the 6 major schools of magic.

As magic classification grew, so too did ambition. The Empire of Frelhal had weathered the Elemental Wars, but had been weakened by the chaos and destruction that it had rained down upon it. A new kingdom, called Sen Ahreal, sprang up, and the stage was set for conflict between the empires. Finally, Sen Ahreal grew large enough and powerful enough to attack Frelhal directly.

The war was swift and brutal, and saw Frelhal defeated by Sen Ahreal’s superior magical and military forces. Flush with the treasure they had gained form sacking the Frelhalian cities, and fielding legions of conscript soldiers, Sen Ahreal picked off several other smaller kingdoms in the region, and controlled most of the Northern Continent. Sen Ahreal continued to expand, and became the most feared nation on Etheria.

Fueled by dreams of world conquest, Sen Ahreal launched a war of global conquest, and found itself fighting a coalition of the remaining independent powers. To further their grasp on power, Sen Ahreal mages hatched a plan to summon the Elemental Lords once again, this time to fight alongside them for true domination. When this was discovered, the remaining Free Nations recruited ten of their most powerful archmages, and charged them stopping Sen Ahreal. The archmages combined their powers, true V’Tar and artifacts from the Golden Age to create a powerful spell that ripped Sen Ahreal apart from the inside out. Parts of the land were thrown high into the sky, creating the Sen Ahreal Drift, a belt of skyborne islands that still circle Etheria. In less than a day, Sen Arheal and its wonders were naught but a memory. The massive devastation caused by the actions of this war, tempered attitudes towards magic for a time, and Etheria was relatively peaceful.

Pax Etheria
Following the destruction of Sen Ahreal, Etheria slipped into a relatively peaceful time. The Gods had had their fill of war, and worked alongside their followers to rebuild. During the Pax Etheria, which lasted nearly 700 years, there was only one major conflict, the Leaf Cutter War, in which the Grug races, led by an Orc Chieftain, attacked the somewhat disconnected Elven races simultaneously — in the north (where the Frost Elves held sway in the Rimemark), in the Straywood, and on the shores of Sortilege. The Elves were able to beat back the Blood Wave invasion, and as a result of their victory, normalize relationships with each other.

The Modern Age
The Modern Age begins with the creation of the Pellian Empire. The Pellian Empire was founded by Arrax the First, who claimed to be the last surviving descendant of Sen Ahreal. He established an Imperial Line, and made the Arraxian Crown, a powerful artifact that he claimed had been passed down from the Sen Ahreal empire, the symbol of his reign.

The Empire grew, and his descendants continued to rule and expand, eventually conquering the bulk of the civilized lands of Etheria, from the ancient Elven nation of Sortilege, to the deserts of Dsjer-Tet. At its height, the Pellian Empire consisted of 5 provinces: Westlock, Lupertra, the Pellian City States also called the Shaggazora, Ivarium, Lacemonia, and Palamea (an island in the Viridian Sea).

For scholars of Etheria, no civilization has expanded as far as the Pellian Empire, nor has shown as brightly. The arts, learning, law, commerce, language and magic were all protected during its heyday, and many of the Schools of Magic that exist throughout Etheria today were instituted by, or inspired by it.

Unfortunately, the Pellian Empire was doomed from the start. The Arraxian Crown, the symbol of its authority, and central artifact of its power was no Sen Ahreal artifact at all, but was instead created by the devious Demon Lords of Infernia.

The magic of the artifact twisted the minds of the rulers it crowned, slowly compelling them to greater and greater bouts of cruelty, and to engineer a massive way to allow the Demons to exit their Realm of Infernia, and enter into the Realm of Etheria.

Such was the compulsion that the rulers of the Pellian Empire commissioned their capital, Pellia City, to be built in such a way that the city streets became a massive pentagram, and with the power of the artifact, a Gate to Infernia was opened.

Once the gate was open, the Demon Lord Adremelech marched his forces through and into Etheria, and thus was started the beginning of the Demon Wars, usually referred to as the Infernal Interregnum.

The Infernian forces tore across Etheria, and all but destroyed the once-great Pellian Empire. Except for the bravery, diplomacy and ingenuity of an Ivarium General named Terius Meravaran, Etheria may have become a new lake of burning fire, and a new home for the demon hordes.

Through guile and tenacity, Meravaran was able to reunite the shattered fragments of the Pellian Empire, to gain support from the Dwarves and the Elves, and even enlist the help of Celestian angels. With his strategy in place, his Grand Alliance struck back at the Demons, ultimately beating them back to Pellia City. Finally, in 1021 PE, Adremelech fought the arch angel Malaked, Warlord of the Angelic Multitudes in a titanic deul, in which the angel ultimately defeated the Demon Lord and slammed shut the Gate to Infernia (though at the cost of Malaked’s life).

In the wake of the chaos, the former provinces of the Pellian Empire became new independent nations, of which Westlock, Ivarium, and Sortilege were core. In order to give the nations of Etheria time to recover, General Meravaran resurrected an idea that had been discussed after the destruction of Sen Ahreal, the creation of method whereby Mages could battle each other without causing massive destruction to the environment or innocent by standers. These Mage Wars would be duels fought by the mages, but confined to arenas, and would serve as an alternative to war for the settling or disputes.

Etheria Today
For the next 500 years, Etheria experience a neo-Pax Etheria, until once more the lands of the Blood Wave spawned the Warlord Trokoth. As his predecessor had once done during the Leaf Cutter War, Trokoth unified the Grug races, though this time he led his assault on Westlock, the bread basket of Etheria.

As the Westlock forces deployed to stop the Bloodwave threat, Ivarium took the opportunity to send its legions west to take back much of Salenia, what was previously the the Shaggazora/Pellian City States. The area is now a hive of unrest, with refugees fleeing west to Westlock, or north to the Straywood or the Anvil Throne.

Westlock forces captured Trokoth in 1524 PE, and he is set to stand trial by combat in Victoria, the Westlock capital. That same year, a multinational group of Warlocks defended the western Westlock city of Elsbereth, laying waste to the Blood Wave army there, and in reward, was able to establish a temple to Taranis in that city.

The remaining Blood Wave forces remain in the eastern plains of Westlock, and near the Darkfenne, where they appear to have joined forces with the necromantic armies of the Bog Queen.


Hopefully this helps give a brief overview of what's been going on, and what is outlined in flavor text, OP Kits, and some of the Forum stories of the Arraxian Crown and the Travels of Amadseer. (http://forum.arcanewonders.com/index.php?topic=15675.0) If you have any questions about the timeline or events in Etheria's history, feel free to post them here!


17
World and Lore / Legends & Lore: Celestia and the Angels
« on: August 26, 2015, 07:24:37 PM »
Legends & Lore: Celestia and the Angels

This week, we’ll take a look at Celestia, one of Etheria’s two moons, and home to many of angels that have been integral to Etheria’s history, such as [mwcard=MW1C39]Valshalla[/mwcard], [mwcard=MW1C31]Samandriel[/mwcard] and [mwcard=FWC13]Selesius[/mwcard].

First, let’s look to the sky! Etheria has two moons, Celestia and Ves. Celestia appears as a golden white color, Ves is primarily a hazy dark grey. Celestia is the closer body, and moves through the night sky more quickly; Ves is further out and moves much more slowly.

Twice a year, the two moon are aligned, one behind the other, and are in line with Etheria and the sun, causing a lunar eclipse. These two eclipses are the core of the Etherian calendar, and mark the changing of seasons, as well as festivals and holy days for followers of Asyra and others.

In fact, if you take a look at Priestess’ mage card, the golden circle design at the end is called The Crescent Celestia, and is the symbol taken by the followers of Asyra. The design of the symbol is a representation of the twin orbits of Celestia and Ves around Etheria, with the top open to symbolize one of the eclipses, and the staff base symbolizing the second of the eclipses. The Crescent Celestia has also been adopted by the Holy School of Magic.



Celestia itself is home to the angels, a race of beings that are mostly humanoid in appearance (if you look past the wings), but who are far older, hardier, and more shaped by the essence of Voltari. As such, angels do not age as most humanoids of Etheria do. They can still be slain, or fall pray to a virulent disease, but the ravages of old age pass them by. Legendary angels like [mwcard=MW1C39]Valshalla[/mwcard], [mwcard=MW1C31]Samandriel[/mwcard] and [mwcard=FWC13]Selesius[/mwcard] are many hundreds of years old, and all fought in the Infernal Interregnum  (the Demon Wars), battling back [mwcard=MW1C01]Adramelech[/mwcard] with the combined Etherian forces of Merevaran. (More on that in a future Legends and Lore).

What is Celestia like? By all accounts, it is a beautiful place, tranquil, with white and silver-hued landscapes, majestic mountains, ancient, gleeming cities and oceans of pearlescent gold. That said, it is a place humans cannot visit, except with the aid of powerful magic or sustaining artifacts; Celestia has no atmosphere, no air.

Luckily for the angels, they don’t need it. Still staring up at the starry sky, the one thing that has drawn their attention and fascination over the ages is the beautiful blue and green globe of Etheria. Millienia ago, angels contrived ways of exploring that globe, through powerful V’tar artiacts and angelic magics. (You didn’t really believe they flew there did you?) Now, they have established a network of portals (all cunningly hidden or powerfully protected) that they can use to move from one place to another.

Though Etheria is beautiful and exotic, and they are endlessly fascinated by the blue skies and endlessly shifting clouds (which they do not have), most (though not all) angels prefer life on Celestia. Those who do stay tend to work with the Churches of Asyra, the Dawnbreaker, or Bim-Shalla.

Etheria’s other moon, Ves, is also inhabited by angels, though Celestial angels and Vessian angels are very different in terms of motivation, ethics, and personality. A Vessian angel is depicted on the card [mwcard=MW1E25]Maim Wings[/mwcard].

18
World and Lore / Legends & Lore: Goran, Werewolf Pet
« on: August 21, 2015, 12:26:00 AM »
Legends & Lore: Goran, Werewolf Pet

This week, we'll focus on the sad tale of [mwcard=MW1C17]Goran, "Werewolf Pet"[/mwcard]. To tell his story, we'll also have to talk about another notable of Etheria, a warlock whose raw ferocity causes discomfort even among his own order: Savinius Moltentongue. But first, a little geography to set the stage.

The Darkfenne is a strange place, a mixture of the remnants of old twisted magics and feral, savage fauna. The southern reaches, closest to Straywood Forest and Westlock are swampy and difficult to traverse. The middle marshes are overgrown with the ruins of lost strongholds and cities, destroyed by mage battles and pure V'tar power long before the Pellian Empire, still the demense of the Bog Queen (http://forum.arcanewonders.com/index.php?topic=13190.0 for more about the Darkfenne). But in the northeast reaches of the Darkfenne, the swamp recedes and the soil becomes jet black, teeming with odd, lumious trees and constantly hanging mist. In this unforgiving environment live the Tribe of the Howl, a predatory kingdom of werewolves and other shapeshifting creatures.

Within his Tribe, Goran was a prince, son to the Werewolf King Gnarzul. For many years, Gnarzul had maintained the borders of the Tribe, sending members of his Tribe to patrol their lands and deal with the encroaching undead servants of the Bog Queen who wandered to close to their territory. His son Goran grew in might and prowess as he hunted with many packs, ultimately leading hunting packs on his own, and establishing himself as the future alpha and King-to-be.

Little did he know that the biggest threat to his future would not come from the Bog Queen, but from a stranger to Darkfenne, the Warlock Savinius Moltentongue.

Unlike many Warlocks, who tend to live at fringes of civilized societies, Savinius was an explorer in his own right, and he was drawn to the lost secrets hidden in the depths of the Darkfenne. (As a side note, Savinius is also known as "The Curseweaver" for his creation of a curse-plague which he leveled against a tribe of barbarian Horselords known as the Allani, demanding yearly tribute from them in exchange for temporary relief from the dark magic).

On one of his expeditions, he stumbled into the territories of the Tribe of the Howl, and crossed path with a hunting pack led by Goran. Rather than run, Savinius unleashed a blazing tide of hellfire and demons, slaying all but Goran and one other werewolf of his hunting pack.

With a snarl, Goran commanded his packmate to return to King Gnarzul, to tell him of the intruder, and to bring the remainder of the pack to tear Savinius into tiny, tasty bits. He then attacked Savinius himself, using all his guile, cunning and prowess.

Sadly for Goran, Savinius was more than a match for the Prince of Werewolves, and rather than slay his foe, he placed a powerful curse on him, bringing him under his absolute control as a "pet", the greatest trophy of his Darkfenne expeditions.

He waited until King Gnarzul and his forces returned to the scene before teleporting away, leaving the King with a last look at his son, broken and bound in hell-summoned chains.

19
World and Lore / Legends & Lore: Ludwig Boltstorm
« on: August 14, 2015, 06:16:45 PM »
Legends & Lore: Ludwig Boltstorm

Today marks the start of a new series of articles about legendary characters, items and places in Etheria called "Legends & Lore".  This week we take a look at one of the legendary personalities of Etheria, first seen on a card bearing his name from the Forcemaster vs. Warlord set -- [mwcard=FWC10]Ludwig Boltstorm[/mwcard].

Ludwig Boltstorm hails from the Anvil Throne, and is known across Etheria as one of its foremost minds, inventors, forgemasters and visionaries.

During his formative years, Ludwig (or Oudeeg, depending on how you transliterate the Anvillar Dwarvish) served as an apprentice to two of the top forgemasters in the Dwarven Lands -- Anzibar Orth (now deceased) and Forgrom Hammerfell. This was unusual in and of itself, because most masters do not take apprentices who have already served under (what they consider) to be their competitors. However, an exception was made in the case of Ludwig, since he had already developed a reputation for his distinctive and superlative craft, even in his first year. When Anzibar was found dead (foul play was suspected though never definitively proved), Forgrom Hammerfell invited Ludwig to be his journeyman apprentice, which he accepted.

During the remainder of his time with Forgrom, Ludwig learned much about the unique minerals and metals of the Anvil Throne region, knowledge that he would put to use much later in his life when he eventually teamed up with Forgrom and a small, secretive council of Dwarven Mages to help perfect the development of [mwcard=MWSTX2FFQ05]Harshforge Iron[/mwcard]

After many years of service to Forgrom, he eventually earned the title of forgemaster in his own right. Rather than starting his own practice in the Anvil Throne, he journeyed to the southern, desert expanses of Dsjer-Tet, where he stayed for almost twenty years, learning from the smiths and Mages there who still venerate the Elemental Lords, and practice the secrets of their arts.

Ludwig's nickname "Boltstorm" comes from the invention of his repeating crossbow, one of many creations that have elevated the perception of Dwarven ingenuity far beyond the mountain kingdom's borders.

He famously cites his travels in the Dsjer-Tet as inspiration for the the device.
One day, while in the marketplace, he noticed a weaver who had tinkered with his loom so that it was able to weave two pieces of cloth at the same time, one on the upstroke and one on the downstroke. Ludwig claims the repeating motion of the device served as his stroke of genius. Much to the consternation of the weaver (who had never seen a dwarf before), Ludwig ran to the loom, and began examining the wheels and spindles which drove the apparatus, making notes on his arms and stomach with a ever-marking stylus (another of his inventions) that he always carried.

Later, using those notes as a springboard, he developed the repeating crossbow, and much later, the repeating scorpoion, a massive weapon of war that the Anvil Throne commisisioned to defend against Blood Wave invasions.

Since his return to his home country, Ludwig has been instrumental in the creation of many new Dwarven notable objects, many of which involve Harshforge iron. As such, he has become something of a target of the Arraxian Crown, as well as mercenaries working (supposedly) for the throne of Ivarium.

20
World and Lore / Official MW Lore: Ask the Loremaster
« on: July 19, 2015, 10:04:26 PM »
There's a lot to unveil! What would you like to hear more about?

21
The Flame Casts Two Shadows:
Westlock and Ivarium's Roots, Part 2


For the past half millenium, trade, politics and culture have rotated around the two major players of Etheria: Westlock, the monolith of light and justice, and Ivarium, the sword that never forgets. But roll back time 500 years, to a time before the end of the Infernal Interregnum (the Demon Wars) and the signing of the Mage Wars Accords. There was no Westlock, Ivarium  -- there was only the Pellian Empire, the largest single empire Etheria has ever known. This second of a three part series will explore the roots of Westlock and Ivarium, of particular note in light of current world events.

Before the Demon Wars and the forces of Adramelech laid waste to the heart of the empire (modern day Salenia), The Pellian Empire was a bright shining jewel. Not since Etheria's Golden Age had commerce, the arts, magecraft and learning been everywhere and accessible to those who wished to indulge in them.

The capital of the Pellian Empire was Pellia City, the city secretly built as a large scale pentagram, which powered the Gate to Hell and the invasion of demonkind. Radiating outward from Pellia City were the Shaggazora, a collection of sattelite cities that functioned as hubs for the arts and centers of learning, each beautifully cultivated and populated with buildings and estates often owned by the wealthy or the politically connected. The Shaggazora paid a heavy price during the Occupation, and today only Maradon and Iklosas can boast more than a few architectural remnants from a once oppulent way of life. (Coincidentally, the name of the zombie [mwcard=DNC12]Shaggoth-Zora[/mwcard] is corruption of the name Shaggazora, a zombie that functions based on incorporating the life of other zombies nearby.)

The west of the Pellian Empire was the province of Westlock. It's idyllic landscape and fertile plains made it the breadbasket of the Empire. Though travel was not overly dangerous, the distances to the farther reaches of Westlock (today Westmarch, the area close to Sortilege) were quite long, and the news and culture of the capital disseminated much more slowly. In general, Westlock was a place of farms, orchards, and temples, a quiet place that seemed less inclined to the politics of the capital, and more inclined to the practical matters of building, improving, and stewardship.

The east of the Pellian Empire was the province of Ivarium. Ivarium was an early conquest of the Pellian Empire, but even before it was conquered, it's people were hard, with a military bent, forged from centuries of conflicts with the southern desert kingdoms of Dsjer-Tet and their Pharoahs. The Pellian Empire conquered Ivarium, then quickly assimilated its troops into its own fighting forces. Together, with the full might of the Pellian Empire, much of Dsjer-Tet was brought into the fold as well. Still, when taken as a whole, Ivarium's background was a long list of conflict after conflict. Even after the dust settled on the desert conquests, Ivarium remained the Pellian Empire's training ground for military might, and its staging ground for campaigns across Etheria to expand the might of the empire. The Ivarium Legions served as the backbone for Pellian stability - and during the Demon Wars, they were the shield that kept the Infernian forces from overrunning the entire land.

When the Portal was open and Adramalech and his forces stepped foot on Etherian soil, he did so knowing the the Ivarium Legions were dispersed across the land, as part of several campaigns. While the Legions still in Ivarium were able to implement a wall to hold the forces back, Pellia City and the Shaggazora quickly fell. The provice of Westlock would probably have been next, had it not been for one of Etheria's greatest heroes -- the General Terius Meraveran, commander of the 7th Pellian Legion, whose forces  happened to be at the eastern edge of the Westlock border. Withouth Meraveran's pluck, tenacity and resolve, there would be modern story of Etheria that did not involve subjugation by Infernal forces.

22
The Flame Casts Two Shadows:
Westlock and Ivarium's Roots, Part 1


For the past half millenium, trade, politics and culture have rotated around the two major players of Etheria: Westlock, the monolith of light and justice, and Ivarium, the sword that never forgets. But roll back time 500 years, to a time before the end of the Infernal Interregnum (the Demon Wars) and the signing of the Mage Wars Accords. There was no Westlock, Ivarium  -- there was only the Pellian Empire, the largest single empire Etheria has ever known. This three part series will explore the roots of Westlock and Ivarium, of particular note in light of current world events.


The first true empire, forged in the time following the Golden Age of Etheria  was called the Frehal Empire. It was spectacularly destroyed by the much more ambitious and expansionist Sen Ahreal Empire though powerful archmage magics that physically ripped the land apart, and started the blights that would later evolve into Darkfenne Swamp (in fact, many ziggurats and artifacts of the old Frehal/Sen Ahreal Empire can still be found by adventurers who brave the swamp's deep interior).
 
Once the Frehal threat was eliminated, the Sen Ahreal Empire continued to expand, gobbling up territories and dominions. The Empire's ruler, Lord Arrax is of particular note, because he wore a demonic artifact, the Arraxian Crown. To be fair, he didn't realize it was demonic at the time: he thought it was a draconic artifact, a wonder that had been created millenia before during the Golden Age of Etheria.

Long story short, the Crown turned Arrax cruel, and his cruelty fueled further conquests, expansions, and wars. Over time, as the empire expanded, it became known as the Pellian Empire.  At its height, it consisted of five provinces: Westlock, Lupertra, Shaggazora (the name given to a collection of Pellian City States), Ivarium, Lacemonia, and Palamea (an island in the Viridian Sea). Beyond the provinces, its captured lands and spheres of power stretched from the Etherian Ocean in the  west to the deserts of Djser-Tet in the south.

The Arraxian Crown itself whispered demonic intent to the rulers of the Pellian Empire, and whether they understood its words or not, they began to build something extraordiary, the new capital, Pellia City (modern day Salenia). As an architectural achievement, Pellia City was unparralleled. Even in the deep jungles reaches of far off Kumanjaro, the City of a Thousand Wonders was known.

Roads, aquaducts, glowing lakes, etherial towers, bridges of light and floating palisades were only some of the spectacles a traveler could see in Pellia City. But behind the beauty and awe, there was a sinister design at work.

The city had been designed to create a perfect infernal pentagram writ large, with each monument, tower and aquaduct perfectly positioned for summoning a portal to the Dark Realm of Infernia on a massive scale.

Once the city was completed, the Arraxian Crown itself was activated, and the entire city became a collossal Gate to Hell, a portal that opened with a shockwave of fire and brimstone that blasted outward across the city, and disentigrating the Pellian Empire's final Emperor in the process.

Out of the portal stepped Adramelech, Lord of Fire, and with him, the Demon Lords of Infernia. With the Pellian Emperor a pile of dust and the city in disarray, Adramalech's forces had little trouble in taking control. Thus began the Infernal Interregnum (the Time of Infernia), commonly referred to as the Demon Wars.

23
World and Lore / Map of Etheria
« on: July 10, 2015, 07:34:21 PM »
For those of you who have always wondered about the nations of Etheria, and have perhaps tried to zoom in to fuzzy images that have been teased here and there. I present...

THE WORLD OF ETHERIA (or at least the northern parts)


Quick note: Salenia is a collection of independent city-states: Meladon, Delias, Atticara, and Iklosas. That is why those cities are a little smaller when compared to the other nations or areas.

24
World and Lore / Official Mage Wars Lore: Meet the Loremaster
« on: July 10, 2015, 07:28:55 PM »
Hi all

I wanted to officially introduce myself. I'm Chris Henson, and I'm the official Loremaster for Arcane Wonders. I post under two different accounts on the forums: Amadseer and Sabbath_Kell.

I've been a part of the Mage Wars community since the very beginning, in fact, I was Bryan's very first opponent. Since that time, I've helped mostly with the creative side of things, helping to flesh out the logo, architecture and designs of the core set, and a lot of other stuff since.

I'm a huge fan of world-buidling and rpgs, and I'm excited to bring you guys the inside scoop on Etheria and the Mage Wars story. And let me just say up front: there is a LOT of Etheria content.

We've released dribbles and teases over the years in flavor text, OP kits and a novel (and some here on the forums), but the world of Etheria is robust and very rich, and has been growing over the years, somewhat under the hood. It's time to unleash it!

For those of you who are interested in the back story/lore of your favorite creatures/legends, or wonder where is this Academy everyone keeps talking about, I'm here to fill you in.

If you have any special questions concerning lore or the world of Etheria, Celestia (where the angels are), or Infernia (where the demons are), then post them here.

Thanks!
CH
 


25
World and Lore / World and Lore of Etheria
« on: June 29, 2015, 12:57:38 PM »
I've been asked about the order and scope of official writings in the Mage Wars universe. Here's the comprehensive list of what's been published.

A Map of Etheria
 http://forum.arcanewonders.com/index.php?topic=15702.0

Background Lore
History of Etheria
An overall view of the history of Etheria here, including a timeline
http://forum.arcanewonders.com/index.php?topic=15981.0

The Gods of Etheria
All the Gods, Goddesses and Lords of the Etherian Pantheon
http://forum.arcanewonders.com/index.php?topic=16442.0

Calendar of Etheria
Here are the months and festivals celebrated by the people of Etheria.
http://forum.arcanewonders.com/index.php?topic=15980.0

Legends and Lore
These regular posts explore the stories behind the people, places and things seen on Arena and Academy cards.

Ludwig Boltstorm: http://forum.arcanewonders.com/index.php?topic=15891.0
Goran, Werewolf Pet: http://forum.arcanewonders.com/index.php?topic=15924.0
Celestia and the Angels: http://forum.arcanewonders.com/index.php?topic=15947.0
The History of Etheria: http://forum.arcanewonders.com/index.php?topic=15981.0
Sistarra, the Grand Academy of Magic: http://forum.arcanewonders.com/index.php?topic=16000.0
Laws of Magic: http://forum.arcanewonders.com/index.php?topic=16022.0
The Flame Casts Two Shadows
Part 1: http://forum.arcanewonders.com/index.php?topic=15721.0
Part 2: http://forum.arcanewonders.com/index.php?topic=15727.0

If you are interested in the cosmology and magic of the Mage Wars universe, you can find out a lot in this post:
http://forum.arcanewonders.com/index.php?topic=15757.0


Main Story Lines
The official main storyline comes from the Organized Play (OP) kits, which get sent out to gaming stores, along with promo cards. They are then posted online for the main community to read and enjoy as well.

Here's a list, and a link where you can read them.
OP 1: Westlock: Dark Prophets
     • OP_DPPROLOGUE, Sean McCoy
     • OP_DP1: Death of a High Priest, Sean McCoy
     • OP_DP2: To Save a Priestess, Sean McCoy
     • OP_DP3: A Warlock in Disguise, Sean McCoy
     • OP_DP4: Temples Burning, Sean McCoy
http://www.arcanewonders.com/westlock-dark-prophets

OP 2: Allegiance in Blood
     • OP_ABPROLOGUE, Aaron Brosman
     • OP_AB1: The Rite of Visions, Thomas Allen
     • OP_AB2: The Ascension of Trokoth the First, Thomas Allen
     • OP_AB3: Small Minds Laid Waste, Thomas Allen
     • OP_AB4: Truth Like Blood, William Niebling
     • OP_AB5: Enemies Without and Within, William Niebling
     • OP_AB6: Inquisition of the Mind, William Niebling
     • OP_AB7: A Paladin’s Virtue, Aaron Brosman
     • OP_AB8: Siegfried’s Challenge, Aaron Brosman
     • OP_AB9: Honor Brought with Blood, Aaron Brosman
http://www.arcanewonders.com/allegiance-in-blood

OP 3: Unholy Tides
     • OP_UTPROLOGUE, Aaron Brosman
     • OP_UT1: Into the Eyrie, Aaron Brosman
     • OP_UT2: The Court of Towers, Aaron Brosman
     • OP_UT3: Into the Heart of Darkness, Aaron Brosman
     • OP_UT4: Encircled in Darkfenne, Aaron Brosman
     • OP_UT5: The Trail of Death, Aaron Brosman
     • OP_UT6: Death That Should Not Be, Aaron Brosman
     • OP_UT7: The Renewing Spring, Aaron Brosman
     • OP_UT8: The Dead Lake, Aaron Brosman
http://www.arcanewonders.com/unholy-tides

OP 4: Converging Fronts
     • OP CFPROLOGUE, Aaron Brosman
     • OP CF1: Favor for a Nation, Aaron Brosman
     • OP CF2: First of the Spires, Aaron Brosman
     • OP CF3: Reflections of Guilt, Aaron Brosman
     • OP CF4: The Weight of War, Aaron Brosman
     • OP CF5: Lessons Old and New, Aaron Brosman
     • OP CF6: Path of Might, Aaron Brosman
     • OP CF7: Illusory Preparation, Aaron Brosman
     • OP CF8: Uninvited Guests, Aaron Brosman
http://www.arcanewonders.com/converging-fronts

OP 5: Malignant Intentions
     • OP MIPROLOGUE, Aaron Brosman
http://www.arcanewonders.com/organized-play/malignant-intentions

In addition, Mage Wars has a published novel, written by Will McDermott. Although there is nothing in the book that definitively places it anywhere along the OP timeline, I think you can probably peg it to sometime in the OP IV/V range.

Mage Wars: Nature of the Beast, Will McDermott
http://www.amazon.com/Mage-Wars-Nature-Will-McDermott/dp/1606905732

There are also two "forum canon" story lines that exist (and continue to run). They draw on the same "global" events, but have characters that are specific to their individual stories. In general, these story lines seek to flesh out the Mage Wars experience to something broader than arena combat, and feel more like an RPG world set in the Etheria universe.

Both begin around the start of OP Kit V and run concurrently. 

Forum Canon
The Wanderings of Amadseer the Cursed
1. Concerning the Emerald Tegu, Amadseer (Chris Henson)
http://forum.arcanewonders.com/index.php?topic=13186.0

2. Concerning the Darkfenne, Amadseer (Chris Henson)
http://forum.arcanewonders.com/index.php?topic=13190.0

3. Concerning Deathfangs and Warlords, Amadseer (Chris Henson)
http://forum.arcanewonders.com/index.php?topic=13219.0

4. Concerning the Orcish Slave Trade and Priestesses, Amadseer (Chris Henson)
http://forum.arcanewonders.com/index.php?topic=13238.0

5. Concerning Necropian Vampires and the Bog Queen, Amadseer (Chris Henson)
http://forum.arcanewonders.com/index.php?topic=13286.0

6. Concerning Thorg and the Sunken Temple of Necropoli, Amadseer (Chris Henson)
http://forum.arcanewonders.com/index.php?topic=13362.0

7. Concerning Concerning Ichthellids and Catacombs, Amadseer (Chris Henson)
http://http://forum.arcanewonders.com/index.php?topic=15355.0


Arraxia Rising
1. ARRAXIA RISING: The Chamber of Embers, Sabrath_Kell (Chris Henson)
http://forum.arcanewonders.com/index.php?topic=15389.0

2. ARRAXIA RISING: The Circles of Fire, Sabrath_Kell (Chris Henson)
http://forum.arcanewonders.com/index.php?topic=15439.0

3. ARRAXIA RISING: A View From Infernia, Sabrath_Kell (Chris Henson)
http://forum.arcanewonders.com/index.php?topic=15478.0

4. ARRAXIA RISING: Strategy and Sectarus, Sabrath_Kell (Chris Henson)
http://forum.arcanewonders.com/index.php?topic=15560.0

5. ARRAXIA RISING: Understanding the Dark School of Magic, Sabrath_Kell (Chris Henson)
http://forum.arcanewonders.com/index.php?topic=15674.0

Battle Lines
Part 1: http://forum.arcanewonders.com/index.php?topic=16828.0
Part 2: http://forum.arcanewonders.com/index.php?topic=16845.0
Part 3: http://forum.arcanewonders.com/index.php?topic=16864.0
Part 4: http://forum.arcanewonders.com/index.php?topic=16882.0
Part 5: http://forum.arcanewonders.com/index.php?topic=16893.0


Hope this helps!

26
5. ARRAXIA RISING: Understanding the Dark School of Magic

For over 500 years, the Arraxian Crown has plotted and schemed to bring about the destruction of the nations of the world, through whatever means necessary.
ARRAXIA RISING is a chronicle of its stories, plans, and machinations, played out across Etheria and the Dark Realms.


City of Elbereth, Westlock

In the weeks after the wholesale destruction of the Blood Wave army by the warlock army in Elbereth, a distinctive, different atmosphere could be felt in the city. Some attributed it to the horrors of war, felt even more keenly when the battlefield is a citizen's own backyard. Some attributed it to the sudden influx of unfamiliar faces, a collection of warlocks from nations all across Etheria, who now openly walked the streets and filled the inns. Some attributed it to the newly opened Temple of Taranis, hastily converted from a Temple to Akiro, a god who had very much fallen out of favor with the local populace.

Once Governor Marchens had given his decree that warlocks were welcome in Elbereth, and that a temple to Taranis could be established, Sabrath Kell had moved rapidly and with a sense of command that one would expect of a general. Within days, he had assembled and set crews to work, some on the temple, others using the spell craft to help with the cleanup and reconstruction of the town, particularly on the city walls and watchtowers. He had also made available warlocks to the city guard, charging them to help with finding and bringing down any remnants of the Blood Wave force that might still be lurking in the countryside. The warlocks had been looked at distrustfully in the beginning, but they had caused no trouble, followed orders, and had been very good at flushing out/burning down goblins and orcs.

The Temple of Taranis now stood complete in the west side of the city, its vaulted stone and silver exterior painted black, its front courtyard, which opened to the bustle of city traffic, now cleaned. The statuaries that had lined it on either side had been torn down, and sent to the Governor, to be erected at some other shrine dedicated to the God of War. Kell had gone out of his way to let it be known that this remodel was not a form of desecration, merely a repurposing. Kell had brought in a foreigner to run the temple, a stately, well-spoken man from the Selenian city of Atticara, named Mazmur Hext.

*****

Courtyard of the Temple of Taranis, west side of Elbereth, Westlock

Mazmur Hext looked out at the small crowd that had formed in the courtyard at the bottom of the steps that led down from the temple. As the appointed head of the temple, Mazmur had the unenviable task of educating the populace about service to the Dark Lord. Not an easy sell in a country in which the servants of Asyra, Bim-Shalla and the Dawnbreaker were fixtures in virtually all aspects of daily life.

Still, people are people, down deep in their bones, and that was something Mazmur knew quite a lot about.

As he did every morning since he had come to the temple, he started his speech to those who gathered with news of the world. During normal times, Westlock was open to trade, travel and commerce, and news of the other portions of the country, and of Sortilege and Ivarium was relatively easy to come by. However, the Blood Wave seige was hugely disruptive, and even now, few merchants wanted to venture this way. The city was healing, but news was scarce.

“People of Elbereth, I bid you good morning. I start with news from outside these walls. First, the main Blood Wave force is still encamped outside Victoria. There are reports that Trokoth may have been captured, but those are not confirmed. All I can say of a certainty is that his force has not taken the city, and that at present, there is no seige warfare.

“News is more bleak as you venture east. The city-states of Selenia continue to fall to Ivarium aggression. The Seventh Legion has annexed Iklosas and my home city of Atticara, and now battles the forces of Maradon. Citizens of Westlock, I know you have suffered already at the hands of the Blood Wave, but the real threat is no ad hoc force of orcs and goblins. Since the days of the Grand Alliance, Ivarium has kept their swords sharpened, and their eyes focused on reforging the Pellian Empire. Perhaps they believe that time is now.

“I have reports from the north as well, reports of sickness and blight from the Darkfenne. It may be that the Bog Queen has chosen this time to wake from her unnatural slumber, and to gather the forces of the swamps to her banners.

“Some good news at least from the west. Sortilege reports no Blood Wave forces on its borders, and the Grand Academy of Sistarra will begin its new year on schedule, as it has for the past 235 years. I was once a young mage there, and I can only wish those who are preparing themselves for the rigors of magecraft the best.” There was light, nervous laughter from the crowd. Polite, nothing more.

“I have also received word from the ancient desert kingdoms of Dsjer-Tet.” The crowd quieted — Dsjer-Tet was a far flung land, and little word came of its exotic nature even in the best of times. “The old pharoah has died, some say at the hands of the Council of Djinns, and a new ruler has been installed. To mark the occasion, all debts have been cancelled, slaves of more than 12 years have been freed, and a celebration of games have been called. Those looking for fame, glory, and the beauty of the Dsjer-Tet bosom should leave now."

The crowd chuckled, save for the more pious adherents of Asyra, who shot Mazmur unkind glances.

“And now for word within these city walls,” Mazmur said. “Halthom Strom has returned from a hunting party made up primarily of your stalwart city guards. They have found a goblin camp of twenty Blood Wave soldiers, and have cleansed it from your borders. Sleep well tonight, and remember their service.

“Embrisa Nightforge has shored up the northern gate, and has been aiding your blacksmiths in forging new and stronger reinforcements. Everyone knows that the Anvil Throne knows their business when it comes to metalworking, and Embrisa is among the best Dwarven forgemaster of their realm. We are lucky to have her here with us. With a little luck, she and her team should have the eastern gate redone in a fortnight.

"There have been no reports of demons, nor shall there be.” Mazmur paused to let that sink in. Despite all the work, and despite their help, he knew the citizens of Elbereth did not trust the warlocks, nor believe their oath to the city Governor. “Taranis is the Lord of Darkness, not of fire. We serve him here, not the denizens of Infernia."

“How can we be sure?” called someone from the back. “Warlocks summon demons to fight for them. We’ve all seen it in the arena.” There was general agreement from the crowd.

Mazmur nodded, then raised his hands for silence. “Let me speak today of the Dark School of Magic, of its practitioners, and of the Arraxian Crown. I believe that if you hear me out, you will understand.

“Before there was Light, there was Darkness. Taranis is the Dark Shadow, an embodiment of the original state of being. The Supreme Darkness existed long before Asyra, before Bim-Shalla, before the Dawnbreaker. I say to you today, long after their lights burn out, he will continue to exist. Why? Because there will never be nothing. But there will always be Darkness.

“The Dark School of Magic is not the evil school of magic. You all know that it is taught in Sortilege and at other magic academies as one of the Six Great Schools of Magic. It’s magic derives from the unknown, the shadow, the power that comes from fear.

“I ask every person here to search your heart. Are these not conditions that are within each of you?  Conditions that have existed since you were a child? Dark mages embrace these conditions, not because they love them, but because they know they can never truly remove them. If you cannot remove something, the next best thing is to harness it, to shape it into a tool to be used.

“Dark magics protected this city. Curses rained down on the Blood Wave soldiers who wanted to burn your homes and your families. Dark mages harnessed this power as tools. And those tools have allowed you to stand here today, alive and well.

“The Dark Lord Taranis wants us to use his tools. Dark magic is not about evil, it is about subjugating those things that would hurt you, that would destroy your family or your city. When Ivarium comes to destroy your way of life, who among you would find it repulsive to call down a curse on them? To use the tools available to stop them?

“I have been to arena battles — I have seen Wizards and Priestesses and Beastmasters and Forcemasters use Dark Magic as part of their strategy to win. This is because they are educated, and because they know that the Dark School of Magic is not something evil, that should never be touched. The use the spells that can seal their win, knowing that spells are spells, not something evil, something to avoid.

“This Temple is here because the Arraxian Crown came here, using Dark tools to help protect this city. Taranis gave us these tools, and he wants to give them to you as well. As I mentioned earlier, conflict is at the border, even within your nation. Now is the time to gather up as many tools as possible.

“And as to demons? We did not summon demons to help defend your city. We used spells that your priests and priestesses have used. Circles of fire, flameblast, walls of flame, fireballs. We summoned creatures of the night, called down curses on our foes. You were there, many of you. Is there anyone here who felt that our spellcraft was evil? Did you not wish it yourself on those orcs and goblins?

“The Arraxian Crown follows the will of Taranis. While Infernia bows to his will, we are not a one-trick pony. Ask any warlock, and they will tell you — there is no love for any demons that they have summoned in the past. Demons were simply tools, and the time for the usefulness of that tool is over.

“How can you be sure?” Mazmur scanned the faces of the crowd. “You can be sure because we do not need them, citizens of Elbereth. The real power comes from Taranis, not from an imp or hellion.

“I invite you to enter his temple, to receive his teachings, and his blessing. I invite you to become a part of the Arraxian Crown, an organization dedicated to making sure that the aggression of foreign nations does not stand unchecked."

As they had every day for the past several days, the crowd quickly dispersed as Mazmur invited them to visit the temple. And yet… They return each day to hear my words, and they are less and less afronted by them.

Mazmur Hext climbed the steps of the Temple and walked back inside, through the main foyer, the library, the meditation rooms. He unlocked the large iron doors that led back to his personal chambers, and stepped inside.

The light of eternal flames filled the room. He was not one to live in the shadows. To either side of the door an animated skeleton stood. For each, its rib cage had been removed, and in its place, iron bars and shelves had been fused to the bones above and below it. The skeleton on the left contained two rows of neatly arrange books or lore and spells; the skeleton on the right housed drawers of clothing, jewelry and wands.

“Tome, Trunk, come over here,” commanded Mazmur Hext. The skeletons silently obeyed. Mazmur  searched inside each for the items he needed, a ledger and a collection of quills and ink.

Mazmur Hext knew just what made people tick. He had searched it out himself, many times, right down to the bone. At their core, people wanted to serve those who had been chosen. Just like his wife and eldest son.

27
World and Lore / Arraxia Rising: Strategy and Sectarus
« on: May 24, 2015, 11:54:14 PM »
4. ARRAXIA RISING: Strategy and Sectarus

For over 500 years, the Arraxian Crown has plotted and schemed to bring about the destruction of the nations of the world, through whatever means necessary.
ARRAXIA RISING is a chronicle of its stories, plans, and machinations, played out across Etheria and the Dark Realms.



City of Elbereth, Westlock

Bonfires lit the grounds around the walls of Elbereth, coloring the celebrations of the Arraxian defeat of the Blood Wave force in oranges and yellows. For the first time in the history of the city, perhaps even the history of the country, Warlocks were heroes, even saviors. Knights and paladins, and even a few (well very few — maybe one or two) servants of Asyra struck up thanks-laden conversations and shared horns of wine with the Dark warriors, and even pretended not to be uncomfortable.

It was unnerving. Especially considering that openly practicing Warlocks were generally rounded up and taken off to a dark cell.

Sabrath Kell walked through the celebrants, watching. He didn’t enjoy standing still, even after battle. Stopping felt too much like losing, and standing still seemed to be far too close to dying. So he did what he always did after bringing his troops through to victory — he surveyed the camp, took stock of the costs, and made note of the troops who still stood ready. He surveyed the faces of the women and men he passed, searching their eyes, their smiles, their body language, their weapons.

The habit was undoubtedly a holdover from his much younger years, when he had started his career as a Warlord in the service of Ivarium. He had gained the title of Mort (the Ivarium equivalent of Captain) before he was 23, then had been named General of the Sixth Legion by age 30. It was not the most meteoric rise in the history of the Empire, but by then, his reputation had become entrenched.

His reputation stemmed from two unusual facts, not wholly unrelated. The first was that even as he continued to rack up victory after victory for his forces and the glory of Ivarium, he began to focus his attention on Dark magic. Eventually, he had openly admitted that he had been recruited by the Arraxian Crown, and that he was no longer Sabrath Kell the Warlord, but Sabrath Kell the Warlock. And yet despite that, his zeal for warfare did not wain. With his new Dark Arts and abilities, he continued to defeat any army or monstrous force gathered against him and his men.

The second reason for his reputation was his [mwcard=FWQ09]longsword Sectarus[/mwcard], a blade that even the demons eyed with something between fear and trepidation. The sword was ancient magic, older than the Infernal Interregnum, older than the old Sen Ahreal kingdoms, perhaps even as old as some of the ancient V’tar artifacts that were thought to predate Atalancia.

It was more than a sword, that he knew for certain. It had been forged in the likeness of a sword, cut men down like a sword, but its deadliness was much greater than that. Trapped within its dark runes and multifaceted blades was an ancient soul, a soul of exceeding malevolence and dark intelligence.

It called to me, Kell remembered. It called me by name, clearly and powerfully, in the deep recesses of my inner mind. Nevermind that I was locked in battle in the Shackled Lands. Before he had known it, he had wandered from the battlefield, through dense jungle, to a web-sealed cave. Inside, he had found a collection of rotting bags filled with Kumanjaro talismen and amulets, and a heavily magicked dragonscale case with the sword.

When he had opened the case, the eye that adorned the hilt had blinked and stared at him, and the voice had spoken to him as if they had known each other for decades.

:: Sabbrath! I am sorry to have pulled you away from the glory of the field of battle, but it was necessary. Let us go back together, and destroy those who would tarnish the reputation of the Empress. ::

He had taken the sword, and had done just that, slaying every last warrior and member of the village. And then, he had called down a curse on that place, a curse that now knew that Sectarus had supplied to him, tainting the ground, the vegetation, the rocks, the flies, and the corpses with blood-dark disintegrating rot.

His troops were brave men, but even they had quailed under the ferocity of his savageness and the unknown, powerful curse. Soon enough, they would become accustomed to it, Kell reflected. Soon enough, they would be proud of it, to serve the general who wielded Sectarus in service of the Empress.

:: Have you indulged enough nostalgia? :: the voice that was Sectarus asked, bringing Kell back to the present. Kell was moderately certain that Sectarus could not read his personal thoughts, despite being telepathic. But the sword did seem to know his moods and his manners, and could read his emotions.

Yes. I’m simply taking stock of the situation. “Victory requires thorough planning, and planning requires thorough awareness.”

:: You quote the words of Lord Bellicar to me? Any general with 30 minutes on the battlefield knows such things. But here’s a maxim that you may not have read, “Consume your enemies while they believe you to be friends. Only as their souls dim will they swell up with outrage.” ::

Who said that? Though he did not like to admit it, the soul that was Sectarus was a seasoned and brilliant tactician, perhaps of a level of Kell himself. If the blade could feel emotions like gloating or superiority (and there seemed to be every indication that it could), it did so when it presented Kell with insights from ancient generals and warlords, long lost to modern scholarship.

:: An Arch Mage named Arzimandius, long ago. Who he was and what he did is less important than what he mean though. The courtyard is flowing with love and appreciation to you and your forces for saving this wretched city. It’s time that you take advantage of it, don’t you think? ::

I do. I was just thinking the same thing, though without namedropping long-dead mages. It’s time to share a cup of celebration with the Governor of Elbereth.


***


Albert Marchens, Governor of Elbereth, nodded to the paige who announced the arrival of Sabrath Kell to the throneroom.

The Warlock was tall and muscular, with stringy locks of shoulder-length white gray hair. His face was hard, somewhat severe, with red-rimmed eyes and deep furrows on his forehead. He wore his ornate Ivarium battle armor, enameled blood-red and gilded with silver filigree. Surprisingly, he handed his sword Sectarus to the paige as he entered, and watched with amusement as the youth recoiled as if the thing were a viper that would strike the moment it touched his hand.

“It will not hurt you lad,” Kell said. “A sword is only as powerful as its wielder, and only when it is in his hand.” Kell ignored Sectarus’ laughter, low and deep in the recesses of his skull.

He bowed curtly. “Your city is secured, Governor. Though Trokoth still marches with the eastern  portion of his army, you have no more need to fear a two-prong war in Westlock.”

Marchens nodded. In his state robes, he looked more like a faculty member at the Grand Academy of Magic than a Governor of Westlock. “I have reports that Trokoth’s forces are encamped outside of Victoria. With any luck, our forces there can do to him what you helped us do here.”

:: “Helped" you? :: Sectarus growled. Even in the paige’s hands, the sword maintained its mental connection with Kell. :: This fool is clearly full of himself, Kell. If not for us, this city would be knee-deep in Westlockian corpses. ::

It’s all part of the dance, thought Kell. Let him feel empowered and magnanimous. It suits our plans. Plus, by destroying the lesser of the two forces, we seem a lesser threat than the Blood Wave horde.

“Indeed, Governor,” Kell said out loud. “The prowess of the Westlock army is well known. It is a fine force, made up of brave warriors. I have little doubt Victoria will stand.”

The Governor nodded politely to the point, then leaned forward, closer to the Warlock. “On behalf of the city of Elbereth, and on the authority of King Gavin the Fourth of his name, I thank you and your forces for coming to our aid.”

Kell nodded politely, waiting for the follow up question, which did not take long in coming.

“Yet, I am curious. You know that openly practicing Warlocks are subject to imprisonment throughout the Heartlands, save for in the Mage Wars arena in Victoriana. Never to my knowledge has there been an assemblage of Warlocks this large, or drawn from so many nations. In the five centuries since the Infernal Interregnum, never has an Arraxian army participated this openly. Why now? And why here? What is this force you command, and what should I expect of it?”

To his credit, the Governor delivered his words confidently, even boldly, but Kell knew the man was sweating. The Blood Wave attack had brought the city to the brink of ruin, and now the Warlocks were here, stronger in both health and number. The city was his, if he wanted it.

“You are right, Governor. It has been many years since we have assembled so openly, and by rights, you could send your troops now to lock us up. Yet, if I may be so bold, the world has changed in the years since the Mage Wars Accords have been written. Once, the Arraxian Crown served as the pawn of the Infernal forces of [mwcard=MW1C01]Adramelech[/mwcard]. But today, we are no longer pawns to Infernal machinations.”

Kell let those words ring though the chamber, saw the look of surprise play across the Governor’s face.

“No?” he said, a hint of incredulity in his voice. “How can I believe that?”

“Put aside the fact that we came here, unbidden, at your moment of need, and saved your city,” said Kell. “When we formed our Circles of Fire (see http://forum.arcanewonders.com/index.php?topic=15439.0 for more), and advanced on the Blood Wave forces, we did so using Elemental and Dark magics. But throughout the fight, Governor, we did not summon Infernal help. Not one demon was called during this battle, nor has one been called upon since.

“History has taught us the folly of relying on Demonic forces. In the last five hundred years, Warlocks have been despised and hated, our magics maligned. It is time we step back into the light of the nations, Governor, and show that we too are part of this world. We have come unannounced, to render aid unexpected. Now that we have done so, we will leave this city, and her people. My men politely ask that we do this after the festivities have ended.”

“Nothing then? You have no demands?” Marchens eyed Kell's face, searching for signs of deception, some kind of trap.

“Demands? Governor, truly your mistrust is misplaced. We ‘demand’ nothing. We have come in peace, we will leave in peace, each to return to his or her country of origin. Even in Ivarium, I had not heard that the Westlockian throne was so unthankful to those who had proven to be friends.”

Clearly, Marchens was not fully convinced, but his pride had been stung. “How then can the City of Elbereth reward the forces of the Arraxian Crown?”

“As I said, we seek nothing in return. But if you would uphold Westlock’s proud tradition of generosity, then I would ask this: let us be welcome here in this city. Be tolerant of our order and magic here in this city that we have helped to save. Let us establish a single temple to Taranis — and not to Adramelech — to serve as proof that we are no longer beholden to Infernia.”

“If we so decree, will you continue to abstain from contact with demonkind and the denizens of Infernia? One slip, one imp, one pentagram, and the deeds you have rendered today will be immediately forgotten.”

“We will,” said Sabbrath Kell. “We do so swear to Governor of Elbereth, representative of King Gavin IV, King of Westlock, and heir to the mantle of Meravaran, that from this day forward, Warlocks will have no communication or traffic with the realm of Infernia.”

Governor Marchens paused long, weighing the words, the lack of trust, the service rendered to his city. Finally he spoke. “So be it.”

***

And that is how a temple to Taranis, Lord of the Supreme Darkness, administered by representatives of the Arraxian Crown, came to be state sanctioned in the city of Elbereth, in the nation of Westlock.

As Sabbrath Kell left the throneroom, he shared a mental laugh with his sword Sectarus. And in Infernia, in the main chamber of the Bastion of Chaos (see http://forum.arcanewonders.com/index.php?topic=15478.0 for reference), there was laughing as well.

28
Creative / Cinco DeCoyo
« on: May 05, 2015, 02:33:18 PM »
Happy Cinco De Mayo ...er Cinco DeCoyo!

29
World and Lore / Arraxia Rising: A View from Infernia
« on: May 03, 2015, 12:34:07 AM »
3. ARRAXIA RISING: A View From Infernia

For over 500 years, the Arraxian Crown has plotted and schemed to bring about the destruction of the nations of the world, through whatever means necessary.
ARRAXIA RISING is a chronicle of its stories, plans, and machinations, played out across Etheria and the Dark Realms.



Infernia, Inside the Bastion of Chaos

[mwcard=MW1C01]Adramelech[/mwcard] smiled as he watched the siege of Elbereth play out in the coalescing mists in the main oversized crystal orb that hung suspended from the ceiling. Other lesser orbs also hung here and there, each for displaying other locations in Etheria, but with the bulk of the Arraxian Crown force assembled in Westlock, most were now dark, or still.

The Bastion of Chaos was headquarters to the Council of Lies, the coordinating group responsible for running the Arraxian Crown’s movements on Etheria. To be perfectly honest, Adramelech hated to visit this place, and hated the three Demons that headquartered here.

To Adramalech’s left, Grethmene’s heavy-set form slouched in an oversized chair. Though he appeared to be watching the battle, Adramelech knew he was far more interested in watching the reactions of the other demons in the room — including himself. This one watches too much for his own good, Adramelech thought. And not of the things that he should.

Grethmene was an old demon, even by Infernian standards. Referred to as “The Deceptive Shadow” by his demon peers, the goateed spider had served under five Infernian Imperators before Adramelech had come to power. On the day that he had disposed of the previous Infernian Lord, Adramalech had found Grethmene waiting for him in this very council room, ready to swear undying allegiance. That kind of loyalty was unsettling, but he had rewarded Grethemene on the spot, making him the leader of the Council of Lies and the Arraxian Crown’s spymaster. A prestigious reward for loyalty — at least, that’s what he told the old demon.

In truth, the Council of Lies had become a shadow of its former self since the Infernal forces had been defeated five centuries ago, and Adramalech suspected that Grethmane’s forthcoming work on the Council would be anything but pleasant, since he would have to work with Selverane and [mwcard=MW1J17]Esmere[/mwcard] — the other two demons in the room — both of whom were annoying enough to make Asyra blaspheme herself. Promoting Grethmene to focus on Etheria meant Grethmene would have little time to meddle with plans in Infernia — in essence, a convenient, tactical way of putting the demon out to pasture.

Grethmene had taken the promotion gracefully, even appreciatively, even though Adramalech was certain he was harboring resentment. Which is exactly what I was hoping for, and yet… something about the spymaster’s smugness in this situation was... bothering, the Lord of Fire mused.

“Have we not done well, my Lord?” asked Grethmene with his characteristic drawl as he watched the battle unfold, his fingers working back and forth, as if  impatiently weaving black webs with his very fingernails.

Adramalech tapped his iron talons on the table, focusing on the killing stroke of a skirmish he was watching between an orcish Warlord and a [mwcard=MWSTX2FFA01]female warlock[/mwcard]. “From the embers of Arraxia, it seems we have forged a new blade,” he said. “Our Etherian agents seem to be taking to their task with vigor.”

“Oh they are my Lord.” Her slight emphasis on the word “my” was barely noticeable. “Your battle plans for have been met with a renewed sense of purpose. Is it possible that this might lead us to once more find a way to open a door to Etheria?” The words came from Esmere, and were coated with the poisoned seduction that all succubi used as their calling card. Still, even by demons of her race, she was called “The Poisoned Seductress” — Adramalech eyed her warily, as he always did.

She had achieved her position on this Council through deft maneuvering, rising steadily upward through the Infernal legions. Without doubt, she had used her charms and played off the temptations of those in positions of power above her, but the part that gave Adramalech pause was that now that she was of a much higher rank than those who had been her stepping stones to get there, she maintained relatively few enemies. That she could keep those that she used happy, even as she advanced past them could result in a gang of problems later. Something to consider — and watch.

Why hadn’t he replaced her already? Or seen to it that she met some (un)fortunate (un)timely end? Perhaps it was because he enjoyed the friction that existed between she and Grethmane — the old demon seemed impervious to her charms and seductions — or perhaps because he had to admit that he valued the wealth of knowledge that she uncovered about the shady deals and backroom discussions that occurred throughout Etheria. Grethmane was adept at using her networks, and putting her agents in play, but Esmere was uncanny at finding those who would further her cause, and then convincing them to help her. Often of their own choice — she had an unusual reputation for a demon of eschewing physical violence, as long as she could get her way by other means.

“Taranis believes the time is right. It is rare that he calls the Chamber of Embers to order.”

Esmere wore a small statuette of carved ruby on a white gold chain that hung low and nestled her ample breasts. It pulsed red now, and her eyes took on a far-off look. “We have an extra attraction today,” she said after a moment. She reached her hand out to one of the other suspended orbs in the room, and its darkened interior flared to life, showing a heavily armored orc warlord and a brown-bearded wizard locked in spell combat. “Trokoth,” she said, “This is the other Blood Wave camp, near Victoria.”

“And the wizard?” asked Adramalech.

“Laddinfance, My Lord.” It was Selverane, the third member of the Council of Lies that spoke. The pale skinned demon was tall and muscular, immaculately groomed and clothed in a tunic of fine-spun golden thread, with a swirling [mwcard=DNQ01]Cloak of Shadows[/mwcard]. Few beings that lived in Infernia were as wardrobe conscious as Prince Selverane, King of Cons and Master of the Grift. “Primus of the White Spires of Sortilege. He seems himself as Sortilege personified, and acts as pompously as if he were a nation unto himself.”

“Which is to say that Selverane has not yet found a way to sway him into serving our interests, or the designs of the Arraxian Crown,” Esmere said. Selverane’s red eyes flashed, but he let the jibe go unanswered. “Keep watching,” Esmere continued with a mysterious smile. “I have it on good authority that things are about to get more interesting.”

“These are times of opportunity” drawled Grethmane. “Westlock is hard pressed indeed, and it’s power may have passed its zenith. A two front war wages within its own borders, and it seems that they have to outsource mage champions from Sortilege to fight Trokoth himself. The embers of the Pellian Alliance have burned down low indeed. Whether Trokoth wins or loses, it makes little difference. The balance of power is ripe for us to shift.”

“What of [mwcard=MW1C23]Malacoda’s[/mwcard] work in the Darkfenne, Lord?” asked Selverane.

“He has stirred up his plagues and rots, and has commanded [mwcard=DNI06]his servants there to stand ready[/mwcard], but it seems the Bog Queen has her own agendas. Though the Silent Lady is consort to Taranis, she keeps her own council, and commands her servants accordingly,” said Adramalech. (recap: http://forum.arcanewonders.com/index.php?topic=15389.0)

“Surely in keeping with Taranis’s plan though?” asked Esmere. “I cannot believe that the Silent Lady would have the Bog Queen working at odds with the overall strategy?”

Adramalech shrugged. “What difference does it make? None to me, nor to our larger plans.”

“Agreed. Still, the more we know of other’s plans, the more we can twist them to our advantage,” Selverane scratched absently at his closely cropped goatee. “With the movement of so many players — Ivarium, the Blood Wave, even the Silent Lady — we can pin weave whatever fears we want on virtually anyone we want. Delicious if you ask me.”

“You may want to hurry these mind games along,” grimaced Esmere. “In case you have forgotten, several of our Arraxian cells have been rooted out by the church of Asyra. It would be best if we could shift their focus to something else.”

“Once the warlocks win their fight at Elbereth and save the city, that will all change,” Selverane assured her. “Just wait — the tide of public opinion will turn.”

Adramalech let their prattling wash over him as he turned his attention back to the main orb. The city was awash with the flaming corpses of the Blood Wave force, and rank upon rank of Warlocks continued to push forward, driving the horde back. It would be over soon, and then he would see if Selverane’s predictions about the perception of the Arraxian Crown would come true.

30
World and Lore / Arraxia Rising: The Circles of Fire
« on: April 21, 2015, 09:12:42 AM »
2. ARRAXIA RISING: The Circles of Fire

For over 500 years, the Arraxian Crown has plotted and schemed to bring about the destruction of the nations of the world, through whatever means necessary.
ARRAXIA RISING is a chronicle of its stories, plans, and machinations, played out across Etheria and the Dark Realms.



Infernia, Chamber of Embers
And so Infernian eyes watched the unrest that continued to play out across Etheria, unrest that was already in motion, even without the nudging of the Arraxian Crown or the plotting of the Demon Lords.

Through the coalescing mists of the Chamber of Ember’s scrying table (http://forum.arcanewonders.com/index.php?topic=15389.msg49608#msg49608), they watched as the Blood Wave moved south under command of the warlord Trokoth, swelling with a daily influx of orcs, trolls and minotaurs. Once it passed the Bloodcrag Mountains, the force split into two units — one, barreling directly at Victoria, Westlock’s capital, and the other hugging the coastline, pummeling its way south into Westmarch, the breadbasket of the nation.

Meanwhile, far to the east, Ivarium’s forces mobilized as well — but not to aid Westlock against their northern invaders. Instead, the forces of the Seventh Legion swept across Selenia, annexing the city states of Atticara and Iklosas. (For more: http://www.arcanewonders.com/converging-fronts)

“Now is the time to set Taranis’ plans into motion,” growled Abbadon, Lord of Destruction. He eyed Bael and [mwcard=MW1C01]Adramelech[/mwcard], searched their faces for alignment, and found it. “Are your operatives ready, Grethmane?”

“They are, Lord” the fat demon said. It was his responsibility to coordinate the machinations of the Arraxian Crown in Etheria with the will of Adramelech and the larger Council of Embers. “From Sortilege to Djer-Tet, Ivarium to the Anvil Throne, the warlocks of the land wait for word to rekindle the embers of Arraxia.”

“Good. Then let it begin.”

***

Westlock, city of Elbereth
An explosion of stone, sparks and flesh punctuated the night sky as one of two enormous Blood Wave catapults pummeled the battlements onf the inner wall of Elbereth, largest and most fortified of the cities of Westlock’s western province. The huge seigecraft had already ripped a hole in the city wall, and many Blood Wave attackers were swarming through.

The slow moving machines (politely referred to as [mwcard=FWJ01]Akiro's Hammers[/mwcard]) had gained a reputation for destruction ever since they had punched through the walls of the first Westlock city that stood in the path of Trokoth’s advance. That city had withstood an assault by a pair of the machines for little more than twenty minutes before it fell prey to the invaders. Since that time, the two seigecraft had been nicknamed Destruction and Woe, and their arrival heralded what was to follow.

However, apart from the siege engines, the Blood Wave army was primarily just a collection of orcish and goblin foot soldiers, fortified with ranks of hardier trolls and [mwcard=MWSTX2FFC03]minotaurs[/mwcard] from the Bloodcrag Mountains. The Orcish Warlord Trokoth had wasted no time in capitalizing on his forces’ core strengths — raw power, superior numbers, and a driving desire for conquest, and had opted to put little stock in calvary, or air superiority. His strategy was straightforward and brutal: batter down the walls of whatever city his forces came to, crush the city’s defenders, and continue his conquest of the Western nations.

While Trokoth himself was thought to be with his eastern forces (http://www.arcanewonders.com/converging-fronts Chapters 7-8), the horde that assaulted Elbereth was in capable hands. The orc [mwcard=MWSTX2FFC07]Gurmash[/mwcard], known by his troops as the “Warmaster”, had long campaigned with Trokoth. He was known for being as relentless and unstoppable as a hail of stones, and his promotion from Sergeant to Second General was proof.

Since taking command, Gurmash had planned all his attacks under cover of darkness — and this siege was no different. The overcast sky covered the waning sliver of a moon, and the stars were all but blotted out — bad news for the primarily human defenders. Orc and goblin sight was not as keen as other humanoids, but their night vision was just as clear as it was during the day.

Blood Wave soldiers streamed through the city through the gaping holes in the outer walls like a writhing mass of shadows, the red glow of torches and firelight glinting off their piecemeal armor. More heavily armored Warlords waded among them, throwing up walls of earth and stone behind the onrushing defenders, separating them from their support, and trapping them against the onslaught. It was far less of a battle than it was a slaughter.

Gurmash stood atop a summoned watchtower and surveyed the shifting movements of the soldiers below. The siege had lasted little less than an hour, but the signs of the city’s fall were eminent. Siege warfare was swift when spell craft was involved, and so was rank and file fighting. This was the lesson first learned in the Elemental Wars, and then again during the Infernian Interregnum.

It was time for the final hammer stroke. The Warmaster lifted [mwcard=FWQ06]a massive warhorn[/mwcard] to his lips, and gave a series of carefully scripted blasts. At the base of the [mwcard=FWJ02]watchtower[/mwcard], a squad of Warlords he had held in reserved summoned phalanxes of [mwcard=FWC09]Iron Golems[/mwcard] to advance on the left and right. Though slow, they would drive any remaining defenders to the middle of the field, where his main force stood ready to crush whatever little resistance they had left. As they advanced, Warlords accompanied them, slinging spells and [mwcard=FWA04]summoning boulders[/mwcard] and [mwcard=FWA03]hails of stone[/mwcard] to clear their path of any resistance. The green glow of their Earth magics painted strange reflections on the polish surface of the golems’ skin, and struck even more fear into the overmatched defenders.

It was not long until the end was near for the beleaguered forces of Elbereth. The remaining [mwcard=MW1C22]knights[/mwcard], [mwcard=MW1C28]archers[/mwcard] and impromptu soldiers of the city that were left huddled close, sent up fervent prayers to Asyra, Bim-Shalla and the Dawnbreaker to protect them from the unprovoked aggression of their foes.

***

The answer came in the smell of sulphur and the afterglow of [mwcard=MW1I28]Mass Teleportion[/mwcard].

***

The sound of teleportation is distinctive, and even in the chase of battle, soldiers note the strange pitch of Voltari magic. And that is but the sound of a single mage — not the sound of hundreds, appearing in formation. In the briefest of seconds, in the middle of the carnage, standing atop the bodies of Elbereth’s fallen — were hundreds of Warlocks in three concentric circles.

Male and female, the warlocks gave a fearsome shout in the momentary silence. Male and female they stood, a force forged from all the nations of Etheria, each wearing the [mwcard=MW1Q05]distinctive armor[/mwcard] of their homeland.  Members of the outer circle were each armed with [mwcard=MW1Q14]fiery whips.[/mwcard]

In the ring’s center was a tall man with shoulder-length white-gray hair, red-rimmed eyes and ornate blood-red armor. Even among the inhabitants of Elbereth and the other cities of Westlock, he was known by his dread reputation — this was Sabrath Kell, veteran of the Shackled Frontier and General of Ivarium’s legendary Sixth Legion.

Well wasted no time; he raised his legendary longsword [mwcard=FWQ09]Sectarus[/mwcard] high. Even in the chaos of the battlefield, the unnatural blade projected a fearsome presence — rumor was that the sword itself was alive, and that it was a tactician of a level of Kell himself.

“Warlocks of Etheria!” Kell called out from the center of the rings. His voice was harsh, commanding, accustomed to obedience. “"Unleash hell!”

And so they did.

***

As one, each of the Warlocks blasted outward with a [mwcard=MW1A12]Ring of Fire[/mwcard], joining their spells together to weave a massive rippling wave of flame. It radiated outward, engulfing the Blood Wave soldiers on all sides, spreading fiery woe deep into their ranks.

“Again!” Kell commanded. As the next wave of flame burst outward from the ring of mages, he paused long enough to conjure a [mwcard=MW1J19]grotesque statue made of Infernian basalt.[/mwcard] Its appearance was that of a tortured soul, twisted through pain and lacerated by a collection of wicked spikes. Kell laid it at his feet; as he did so, the idol’s face flared to life, stone eyes searching the field. Soundlessly, it opened its mouth and a crimson mist poured forth, growing and expanding as it blanketed the battlefield within the city of Elbereth, cutting off all who touched it from the healing power of Celestia.

“General Gurmash!” Kell said, his voice carried on the winds of some Dark magic. It was clear he knew already who led this army of Blood Wave forces. “Your march on the Western nations is over. You may surrender now, and I will spare your forces. If you refuse — and I certainly hope that you do — we will turn your amy to ash, and light up Infernia with an offerings of their burning souls. I have heard you value honor in the Blood Reach; if so, take solace in that — for you will take solace in little else here today. What say you Warmaster?"

The fighting stopped. A silence slid across the city, punctuated only by the crackle of flames. Knights, orcs and warlocks waited for the response.

“General Kell!” Gurmash replied from across the field. “For my part, I am glad we have met. I know little of the politics of this land, and even less of Ivarium. But I know this from stories told around campfires and on festival days — the Arraxian Crown was crushed once before, and that was with the [mwcard=MW1J06]Gate of Fire[/mwcard] open, and the demons of Infernia at their back.” He paused and let the echo of his words die away.”I see no army of demons helping you today, General. What I see is my battle-forged forces, surrounding you on all sides. So light your fires, little mage, and fling your curses. Victory is not enough. Today, we will write history in blood, and break the Arraxian Crown once more. Surrender or not as you will. It will make little difference to the crows come first light."

Sabrath Kell nodded grimly. “We shall see.” Turning, he addressed the orcs and goblins that surrounded the rings of warlocks under his command. "Soldiers of the Blood Wave — hear me now. Your souls have been forfeited by your leader. By the dark of the night and the fire of the flame, this city belongs to its people, and the blood that will be spilt here to Taranis. You will find no quarter from us. Fight or flee or die. It makes no matter.”

He raised [mwcard=FWQ09]Sectarus[/mwcard]. “Warlocks of Etheria! Westlock needs us, though they could never ask such a thing. This day, Arraxia chooses to be the savior of Etheria, to break its foes and [mwcard=MWSTX1CKI01]drain their souls.[/mwcard] Let us show them the power of the Dark!”

And with that, the city erupted in a scream of sulphur, swords and death.

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