The Last Kingdom
The Second Age
Long before the rise of the First Age on Aedar, the gods and the primordials battled over who would have control over the universe; order, or chaos. The gods won, driving their foes back into the primordial chaos. The gods then descended onto Aedar and began to teach and guide the races of the world.
Yet during the First Age, it is said that the Demon Queen, Lolth, scoured all of Aedar in search of objects of great power. What these objects where was never recorded, if anyone ever knew for sure. In her search, Lolth came upon the mighty empire of the elves, and seduced them into worshiping her. It is thought, perhaps, that she wanted to use them to search the corners of the world for her. But the first great war saw the destruction of the elven empire, and the banishment of the Drow, and any plans Lolth had came to nothing.
The other primordials, having grown jealous of the worship shown the gods by the races of Aedar, witnessed the creation of the drow in great interest. Asmodeus, ruler of the primordials, decreed that they would create a their race that would worship them, as the others worshiped the gods. Lolth suggested the humans would best race to be corrupted, as the elves had proven to be stubborn, as the drow continued to struggle against her priests.
On Aedar, a long period of darkness and unrest had grown up following the destruction of the Elven Empire. The creatures of darkness, long held in check by the might of the elven empire, rampaged and pillaged across the continent of Corell. The remnants of the Elven Empire where split between two factions now, the elves and the eladrin. The elves retreated into the forests and the eladrin sealed themselves in their cities and towers; both races too shattered and broken to stem the tide of chaos before them.
On the eastern coast of Corell, the various dragonborn clans were locked in a fierce war on two fronts; hordes of rampaging sahuagin raided their coastal communities along the shores of the Platinum Reach, and the Rakshasa to the south sent forth constant waves of attackers seeking slaves to work their fields and mines. For many years, the dragonborn clans struggled against these foes, and many others. Constant raids and battles from their enemies, as well as constant feuds and infighting amongst themselves kept the clans splintered and divided.
It wasn’t until a young warlord named Baashar of the Stormclaw clan lead an attack against a rakshasa slaver hold that things began to change. Baashar sought to free his brother, and others taken by the rakshasa during the last raid. As he struggled to free his friends and family, he came upon several warriors of a neighboring clan, the Flamescale. Amongst them was an influential cleric of the tribe, Nala. When Baashar freed Nala and her fellow Flamescale warriors, they joined the fight against the slavers, the two clans fighting as one.
Temporary alliances between clans where not unheard of, and after the battle the Flamescale and Stormclaw clans parted ways. However, when the rakshasa attacked the Stormclaw clan in retaliation, the Flamescale clan road in to Baashar’s aid, lead by Nala. The two forged a lasting pack between their two clans, but both realized that even together they could not hope to fend off the rakshasa. So Basshar sent forth emissaries to the other dragonborn clans with the intent to form a great alliance. Most ignored his offer. Too many clans remembered old feuds, or where too embroiled in new ones. Most just had little faith that such an alliance could last.
But a few clans did agree to meet and discuss alliances. The Sunfist, the Cloudstrike, the Brightfire, and the Redscar clans all joined Basshar as the Flamescale did. The six clans where able to withstand rakshasa raids, free slaves, and turn back the sahuagin into the seas. The more victories the alliance claimed, the more clans flocked to their side. Soon Baashar had united all most all the splintered clans of the dragonborn. Seeking to move the alliance from a loose coalition of feuding clans to a single cohesive unit, Baashar founded a mighty city, and named it Arkhosia. Arkhosia towered over the humble villages the dragonborn where used to. It shown as a true testament of what they could do together as a people. Baashar created a banner bearing a single torch made up of many separate flames. Under this banner he forged the fractured dragonborn clans into a single, mighty kingdom.
On the other side of the continent, the various human kingdoms fell into disarray without the guidance of their elven teachers. Bael Turath, was once a great and powerful human kingdom under the protection of the Elven Empire. After the empire fell, the humans of Bael Turath found they where hard pressed to defend their boarders against the threats surrounding them. Their kingdom was too large and their enemies too numerous. Baron Mardat, the ruler of Bael Turath, did what he could to assemble an army to combat the creatures that preyed upon his people. During the war with the drow, his armies had been shattered by the demons the priests of Lolth had conjured. What was left could muster only the barest resistance. Harpies, and bugbears set up residence in the far corners of Bael Turath, but it was by far the trolls that caused the most damage. Day by day, week after week, Mardat’s forces fell back against the troll onslaught, losing more and more of the kingdom as the months wore on.
The baron and his people where growing desperate. Mardat sent messengers out to the other human kingdoms, but none returned. All lines of communication with the outside world had been severed, and the people of Bael Turath despaired that they where the last kingdom to stand against the growing chaos. Mardat sought help where ever he could, and everywhere he look he found nothing. At last, he gathered together the nobles that made up his advisors and formulated a desperate plan.
Remembering the power the drow wielded with the help of Lolth, Mardat decided that a similar arrangement was all that could save Bael Turath. His advisers balked at first, especially his most loyal friend and councilor, Duke Ceransk, but Mardat’s logic and cold rationalizations and the desperate nature of their situation won out, and they began a long and complicated ritual to summon forth beings from the primordial chaos.
The ritual lasted long into the night, and just before dawn, no less then four primordial demons appeared before them; Asmodeus, Lolth, Baal, and Orcus. They appeared in the form of well dressed humans of high class and birth, and spoke words of friendship to the uneasy noblemen, as the people of Bael Turath where exactly what Asmodeus was looking for. The primordials offered the humans a deal, in exchange for their worship, the primordials would grant them the great strength and power they needed to defend their boarders. Asmodeus extended his hand, and in the center of his palm leapt and danced an azure flame. They had only to reach out and touch the flame, and the power would be theirs.
Ceransk’s doubts resurfaced again, and rebuked the demons, refusing their gifts. He made an impassioned speech against giving themselves over to the Primordials, attempting to sway the other noblemen to his position. Mardat listened to his plea in stony silence, until Ceransk reached the height of his argument. As the Duke waved his arms about him, gesturing to his fellows in appeal, Mardat snuck behind him and planted his dagger between Ceransk’s ribs. The duke fell to the floor, dead. Mardat strode over his corpse without a second glance and seized the azure flame, sealing the agreement forever.
The primordials gifted the people of Bael Turath with longevity, great strength, vast knowledge, and powerful magics. The first sign that their power came with any cost began evident as the more they used their new powers, the more their appearance became. In no time at all they where able to rid their kingdom of all their enemies. In he coming years, they even began to enlarge their boarders, raiding what other villages and kingdoms they came across. Over time, just their great power corrupted their physical appearance, so to did it affect their minds. Even though they pushed back the evil that had infested Corell, they enslaved and subjugated all those they came in contact with.
Years past, and both the Empire of Bael Turath and that of Arkhosia grew. The Arkhosian, having dealt the final blow to the rakshasa, had only the periodic attack from the sahuagin to deal with, and lived in relative peace. As the dragonborn empire expanded westward, they began to encounter refugees fleeing from the soldiers of Bael Turath. More and more the dragonborn heard tales of horror from the displaced races seeking shelter within their kingdom. By the time the two empires met, both sides new that war was inevitable. The dragonborn felt honor bound to defend those who had sought refuge within their boarders, and the people of Bael Turath could not allow a nation as large as Arkhosia to exists as a constant threat to their dominance of Corell.
What followed was known as the Fifty Years War. Much to the surprise of the Beal Turath, the Arkosians might and ferocity in battle was a near match for their own demon spawned abilities. Both sides seemed equally matched on the battle field, and for nearly half a century, the war did not show any signs of flagging. In frustration, the people of Beal Turath turned to the primordials for assistance.
Hearing the prayers of their followers, the primordials walked the battlefields with the armies of Beal Turath, quickly turning the tide of war. Upon seeing the power of that their enemies wielded, the dragonborn beseeched Bahamut and the other gods to similarly aid them. As Bael Turath and Arkhosia fought on the battlefield, so to did the primordials and gods battle in the skies above. They brought strange and ancient weapons to bare, and the very foundations of Aedar quaked as they fought.
The last battle of the war was fought in the land of Ter’nas, full of lush forests, and verdant plains. It is said that that day the dragonborn general, Hashan, stood at the lip of a large valley and wept tears for the beauty of Ter’nas, as he knew what he was about to bring to this peaceful land. Behind him was assembled the bulk of his armies, standing side by side with legions of cold and faceless angels, towering Colossi, and strange and terrible god forged weapons of war. Energy crackled and discharged from the devices, scorching the ground and burning the air around them. A strange, alabaster statue moved slowly amongst the ranks of his warriors, and the sound of marble scraping against marble as it walk sent shivers across his scales. He knew not what the purpose of the statue, a depiction of a weeping woman, was, but even the emotionless, otherworldly angels avoided it if they could. Across the valley, Hashan could see the armies of Beal Turath assembling to meet them. Among the twisted human shapes strode fiery archons, demons and devils, and giant abominations of all descriptions. Arcs of strange colored lightening rose from their ranks and disappeared into swirling, menacing storm clouds. Circling high overhead, a dracolich road the winds, awaiting the bloodshed still to come.
The two armies met in the center of the valley, just as the sun rose over the horizon. By the time it set, that same day, nothing was left of the two armies, and Ter’nas was reduced to a barren waste land. The dead of both side was left to rot there, and anyone who entered died as a result of the lingering effects of the terrible magics wrought that day. Some exploded, others burned alive, still others where turned inside out. To this day the wasteland of Ter’nas is a harsh, unforgiving place, and storms of chaotic magic still rage in some areas.
Although neither side could claim the battle of Ter’nas a victory, it signaled the end of the war. With both armies shattered, and countless cities in ruin, there wasn’t much left to fight for. Sensing that defeat was at hand, the primordials, disappointed with their worshipers, and not wanting to face another drawn out war with the gods, abandoned the people of Beal Turath to their fate. The gods, seeing the chaos and damage that their involvement in this conflict had brought about, struck up an accord with the primordials, and set forth rules and laws on the interference of higher beings with the people of Aedar. No longer would the gods or the primordials manifest themselves physically on this plane. They would act solely through their champions and priests. Both sides agreed to this, neither side desiring further war with each other.
On Corell, however, the damage was done. The powers of the higher beings had shattered both kingdoms beyond repair, and the continent sunk back into darkness and chaos.