Ash and Iron
The Breaking of the World
It began with the fall of the red star, and the death of the Amber City, or so it’s told. Those who delve deep into the ruins and broken places say it began much earlier, some with the rise of the Vishuari, others say it was inevitable. The world, however, did not shatter neatly, as popular stories tell, but rather became cracked, and slowly fell apart over years as Gods died and the heavens emptied, and all the world was left to ruination.
The final piece was, ironically, the rebirth of the Vishuari, the Enthroned. It is said that when Chaos took the power in Heaven, and all the Gods were dead or bound, four walked into the Sapphire Gate, and led their armies on an assault on the very palace of Chaos itself. With Chaos defeated, the Vishuari were freed from their bonds and set about making the world right.
They raised crystal cities in the skies, and ended plagues and famines that swept the world in the wake of the red star’s doom. They drove out the hordes of demons and monstrosities that poured in from cracks at the edges of the world, striving their hardest to heal the wounds made by an age marked by stolen power and madness. But the Vishuari spread themselves too far, and like a candle burnt to hot, soon their lights went out, one by one.
Without the Gods to channel power into their Enthroned servants, they used their energies faster than they acquired more, an ember in the growing night. Soon, the works they made began to falter, then to fail, and the world that was ended with a rain of crystal and men from high in the heavens.
An Age of Ashes
The Race of Man
From fire and chaos, centuries passed and Man did what Man does; persevere. Where cities were swept in fire and war, new cities arose. Where cities were consumed by plague or sorcery, dust filled in the gaps between bodies and mankind found new dwellings. Where cities were consumed by Dragons’ Flame or the march of monstrosities, mankind raised armies to take back what was lost.
With the loss of the Vishuari, the people looked for guidance and, for many years, found solace in tribal or local deities that provided comfort, if little else. Fragments found in the ruins of an ancient spire, however, revealed a secret, taken up by a man named Navo-Verint. After much study and experimentation, he discovered the key in unlocking the power of the stone found deep beneath the brittle white walls, and fashioned the Emerald Mask, and his son would become the first Ascension of the Emerald Crown.
Elsewhere, tribes of Man were erecting new cultures, new cities, and new societies, founded on local customs or half-remembered rituals.
The Sons of Sabik
The Sabika, jackal-men from south of the Githran Sea have a long and storied history of quiet religious strength and independent spirit. Once a slave race in the lowland deserts and savannahs before the world’s breaking, they have become secluded and separated by miles, but continue to be united in their faith in their own strength.
In the days surrounding the red star’s fall, the Sabika received a messiah, who brought them out of slavery and their war with the hated Gnov tribes, and brought with him teachings of strength and solidarity, and personal power. He took their wandering tribes and he made them a nation behind him, and gave them principles of justice and judgment, and of war.
When the Anba-Sem joined with the Black Groom, and called for an army, the Sons of Sabik sent their 10,000 strongest soldiers to fight alongside their messiah, and alongside the 10,000 Immortals that labored under the Black Groom. They marched on the Sapphire Gate, and then they marched onto heaven itself, to confront Chaos and bring order back to the world.
His teachings were focused on personal strength, and solidarity of numbers, and that has been interpreted over the course of centuries, creating several schisms in the communities of Sabik’s Sons.
The Durvar dwell in the mountains between provinces of the Emerald Empire, maintaining their independence through peaceful treaties and open discourse, along with a steady supply of silver and gold from their ore rich, but heavily trapped, mines.
Meanwhile, the Kar-Zari wander the deserts south of the Githran Sea. Their teachings say that it was by the penance of the Anba-Sem’s own wanderings in the desert that he brought them salvation, and their people believe that by walking his paths they can honor him, and perhaps one day bring forth another to save them from these dark days.
In the west, the Vakara tribes take the teachings of personal strength and solidarity near their extreme. A warrior race that dwells in a harsh land of black sands that legends say mark where the red star struck the world, they are sought after by slavers as gladiators or laborers.
Korsa of the Thousand Gates
A race born of Men and Vishuari in the days before the breaking of the world, the Korsa are marked by skin in ashen shades from pale white to burnt black, with animal-like legs and backward swept horns or bone spurs along their hairline.
The Korsa, fabled to be the descendants of those who dwelt in direct service of the Vishuari, are a race known for extremes. In their city of Dukarev they dwell in both opulence and artistry, on the backs of slaves and servants from around the world. Among the Korsa race, a schism has developed in the last thousand years, where those who dwell beneath the city in meditation and thought have splintered from those who foster and maintain the walls and gates of their despotic edifice.
The Du-Sith govern the city above, a decadent and amoral race renowned for their indulgences in perversion and sadism, and rumored to be dabblers in sorcery. It is clear they’ve used runes and relics from the old days in order to cement their dominion over their slaves, and their tendency to favor tools of pain over weapons in personal combat has ended many a duel before it starts.
Meanwhile, down below the city proper, the Korsuul dwell among the trappings of their lost faith, ignorant of the suffering above by choice or circumstance. Almost unheard of, the Korsuul rarely leave their rectories without strong cause, and usually to look for evidence of the Vishuari’s return.
The Unholy Var-Kret
The scions of demons and unclean monstrosities by human women usually die early, unable to survive or left to die. Most of those that survive become horrors in their own right, using their feigned humanity or their mothers’ compassion to cover their depredations. However, there are two examples of races that could be considered comparable to at least the lowest of men to arise from such a union.
The Bakrami were born of nightmares that haunted the flesh of plague-bearers, and are born into the world looking relatively human, aside from an extreme emaciation and unpleasantly long (though not extremely sharp) teeth. They tend to have deep-set, sunken eyes that glitter darkly in dim light, and carry an expression bred from both grimace and grin, as they can never fully close their lips. Bakrami are accepted in the cities of man for a reason, and that is that they are immune to all but the most horrific of sorcerous plagues, and can carry out purges and research in plague-stricken lands with little accommodation.
On the other end of the spectrum from the Bakrami, the Gobbly are a maddened and wild race, born of sorcerous ritual centuries ago, joining the pestilent Goblinsand a kind of inbred, raised-for-chattel stock of men and women. The result was, more than likely, below expectations. A diminutive race of green-brown skinned bald or balding creatures with flat sharp teeth and limbs stretched too long for their plucked chicken bodies and heads structured like putty wielded by the most nightmarish of sculptors. They are not so much accepted, as dwell in the sewers beneath the cities hiding among filth alongside their Goblin kinsmen.
An Age of Iron
The War in the East
Along the eastern edge of the Githran Sea lies a region desired by the Emerald Crown, but which is currently under the reign of three Duvah warlords, who have banded together to keep the insidious expansion of the Empire at bay. The war itself has been raging for over 20 years now, and both sides are moving towards greater and greater violence in their tactics.