The Armoredillo is a curious creature, covered in a hard shell bristling with bony, foot-long blades. They are solitary hunters, ranging in size from three to six feet long. Different breeds dwell in deserts, plains, mountains, and shallow water. They attack with their beaked jaws and their spine blades. Their spinning attack is particularly devastating. Skilled Isparian artisans have long since learned to shape Armoredillo blades into wicked weapons.
Banderlings are the larger cousins of Drudges and Mosswarts, all of whom are distantly related to the Tumerok. They are even less intelligent than other humanoids, but make up for this with sheer brutality. They prefer to fight in small packs, using heavy weapons or their sharp claws. On average, they stand seven feet tall, though their chiefs are even larger. Forest-dwellers by nature, they can also be found in Hea Tumerok strongholds and dungeons near the Aluvian lands.
Cattle in Dereth come in two varieties: the common domesticated Cow and the large Auroch. Cows tend to be found near human establishments and are non-aggressive. Aurochs, recognizable by their shaggy coats and long horns, roam the grasslands. They do not attack on sight, but will defend their herd if it is threatened. Tales speak of even deadlier types of Auroch who dwell on the plains north of the Gharu'ndim lands.
The Carenzi of Marae Lassel are feral, rodent-like subterranean stalkers. They excavate large colonies just below the surface of the plains, and burrow up near the surface to wait for prey to pass overhead. Once they detect close vibration through the topsoil, Carenzi hunters will boil up through the ground en masse to attack with savage fangs. A fight with one enraged Carenzi can quickly become a fight with four or more. Rare reports have surfaced of parties being attacked by packs of up to sixteen.
They are communal creatures, with certain members assigned to sentry duty, others to excavating burrows, and so on. They are also, unusually, marsupial. Young Carenzi spend approximately four weeks in their mother's pouch, until their fangs grow out. At that point, they are evicted from the colony and are expected to make their way in the world. Many Carenzi pouchlings come together to form new colonies. Very few of these last, however. If not slain by Tumerok hunters or the larger varieties of Siraluun, rival colonies tend to devour one another in a carnivorous frenzy.
It is believed that the Carenzi once preyed upon a type of grazing herd animal that has since gone extinct. In older and deeper Carenzi colonies, scholars of the Zaikhal Arcanum have found the bones of never-before-seen deerlike creatures. These days, Carenzi are more likely to devour passing Siraluun, Tumerok, and Humans. They can be avoided by a keen-eyed adventurer, though, as their burrow holes always give away the center of their territory.
Dolls are believed to be an aborted Virindi attempt to emulate life. They are relatively small creatures, with masks more rounded than that of the typical Virindi. There does not seem to be any set variance for Dolls; people have reported seeing weak ones that were either broken or damaged, as well as extremely potent ones that can fell an adventurer with only a few blows. Their formidability can only be judged by how “pure” they are (purer ones being, quite honestly, purer killing machines).
Almost all Dolls breathe lightning. They seem to be practically immune to lightning and cold, traits they share with the Virindi who made them.
Drudges are by far the weakest of the humanoid races, and are often kept by their stronger cousins as slaves or grunt warriors. They often scavenge on the fringes of human lands, preying on the weak and defenseless, and also lurk in shallow dungeons. Most of them stand about four feet tall, and fight with their claws; some employ crude weapons like knives and clubs. In combat, they attack in packs, and with little discipline. Be warned: there are a few varieties of Drudges that are more dangerous than the norm.
Walking embodiments of pure natural force, both Fire and Electrical Elementals have been so far encountered in the world. It may be that Elementals are spawned by the very turbulent nature of Dereth itself; after all, they seem to appear where nature occurs at its most violent (consider volcanic Aerlinthe Isle). Or, perhaps Elementals are the result of ancient Empyrean magic — mystic creations, like the Golems. If true, the Empyrean are no longer here to confirm this theory. And the Elementals refuse to say.
The trap used by the Empyrean to contain Bael'Zharon took the form of a spinning array of six crystals. In the act of containing him, this array was fractured into its component pieces. These “Soul Crystals” were sealed away, later to be encountered by human adventurers in the form of the Great Work of Frore; the Nexus Crystal; the Fenmalain, Shendolain, and Caulnalain Crystals; and the Shard of the Herald found under the Ithaenc Cathedral.
As the Soul Crystals were destroyed, Isparians encountered increasing numbers of Crystal Fragments wandering the face of Dereth. It would seem that the magic used to create the Soul Crystals was powerful enough to survive their shattering. These Fragments continue to wander the world, and judging by their persistent appearances, are somehow self-replicating.
Fragments are multi-faceted, humming crystals that levitate above the ground. Although they are encountered sporadically, these relics of potent magic force should never be regarded lightly. Fragment material is a powerful resource once one is subdued -- a vital component of Isparian Shadowhunter Armor.
While not technically a species of their own, the Gelidite undead deserve special mention.
The Gelidites were once living Empyrean from Gelid, a frigid plateau in the north of the ancient necromantic Kingdom of Dericost. Defeated and placed on reservations by Asheron's people, the Gelidites later escaped to the Lost Wish Mountain Range of Dereth. Returning to the forbidden arts of their ancestors, they sought to meet their own apocalyptic prophesies in undeath, and so carved the “Lost City” of Frore out of the cold granite of the mountains.
In the bowels of the mountains, the Gelidites discovered one of the Soul Crystals in which the soul of Bael'Zharon, the dread Hopeslayer, lay imprisoned. This Crystal, and its subsequent use, became their “Great Work” -- draining Dereth of heat and plunging all into a sudden season of winter.
When Isparians destroyed the Great Work to restore warmth to the world, most of the Gelidite sect was destroyed. Their leaders Ferundi, Fenngar, Frisander, and Frisirth were slain. Only a few Gelidites now remain, voluntarily entombed in their frigid, empty city, waiting for the end of time.
Golems are said to be remnants of Empyrean magic, left behind as guardians for their strongholds, both above and below ground. Now that the Empyrean have vanished, however, they have become mindless automatons, attacking anything that comes near. They stand seven to eight feet tall, and are made of many materials, including earth, wood, water, ice, stone and metal. They bash with their club-like limbs, and some also attack with magic.
The scholars of the Zaikhal Arcanum originally titled the Grievvers “Gria'venir,” after a race of spider-daemons in Gharu'ndim mythology. This was quickly slurred into something more pronounceable and appropriate; all too often, those who have encountered a Grievver have been found reeling beside a lifestone, bemoaning the loss of irreplaceable equipment.
These spindly, agile creatures appear fragile, due to their thin limbs and slender profile. However, they are quite resistant to magic and are vicious in melee combat. A few varieties can even cast powerful magic themselves, and reports state that some spit acid, while others, through some unknown ability, produce lightning.
Grievvers have only recently begun to appear in the company of Shadows. Prevailing theory holds that they were once Olthoi, or, more likely, some other species of creature from the magicless insect world. It is believed that the forces of Bael'Zharon, seeking to exploit their natural resistance to the arcane arts, twisted them to serve as warriors in the Shadow army.
The Gromnies, ferocious, draconian predators, are among the rare native species to survive the Olthoi and the arrival of competing species from other worlds. Breeds of different colors dwell in deserts, mountains, forests, glaciers and swamps, and some have also found their way underground. They stand from three to five feet tall at the shoulder. They are extremely aggressive and vicious, ravaging their victims with tooth and claw. In addition, they are known to spit various breath weapons — fire, ice, lightning or acid, depending on their breed.
From references in Empyrean lore, it seems that the gromnies are the juvenile offspring of the mythological flying creatures called gromnatross. Gromnatross have never been seen by humans; some theorize that they have gone extinct or otherwise left the world.
A collective shudder of terror went through Dereth's mages when the Lugians discovered an ore with “anti-magic” properties. Imbued with deep resistance to magical power, this ore, known as chorizite, was quickly stolen by human adventurers and crafted into powerful weapons that could punch through magical protection spells as if they'd never been cast.
As if that were not enough, somehow the Virindi managed to acquire their own supplies of chorizite. With them, they constructed a new breed of servitors: Hollow Minions, embodying the very nature of hollow magic. No enchanted armor could withstand their attacks, no mage-invoked protection could block their strikes.
Powerful guardians, the Hollow Minions remain a bane to all who normally crouch behind the shield of magical defense.
When explorers first came upon the shores of the Vesayen Isles they knew little of just what dangers lay ahead; for there, under the final isle, rested the imprisoned form of Bael'Zharon, the dread Hopeslayer.
Although confined to his crystalline prison, no doubt some of Bael'Zharon's presence leaked into the surrounding lands, tainting the isles with his evil.
In proof, many of the isles' Idols, strange totemic figures carven to resemble Dereth's creatures, seemed to possess a secret, hidden life-force of their own. Such Idols felled many explorers who believed they had overcome all odds to reach a hidden treasure — only to have one of these towering creations come bursting to life!
Knath'taed appear as translucent slabs of crystal. They remained another inexplicable wonder of Dereth until the opening of the Caverns of Laeraa in Harvestgain of Portal Year 11. While the town of Xarabydun was built in the upper levels of the cave complex, adventurers recovered literature from the old Empyrean archive in the lower levels. This revealed that the Knath are actually the result of “slippage,” that is, the mana released into the environment when a mage fizzles a spell. This “spilled” mana seeps into the ground, occasionally animating certain types of crystal.
Knath'taed, once created, are also capable of reproducing themselves. They deposit small, luminous crystalline nodules in well-protected grottos deep underground. These “eggs” absorb minerals from the earth around them, eventually growing into a new Knath. It is said that the magic power concentrated in Knath eggs can be used to amplify a mage's abilities.
Lugians, a race of massive gray giants, were among the first arrivals on Dereth. They are incredibly massive and strong – the average Lugian is eight feet tall and weighs half a ton.
They live, for the most part, in the Linvak Mountains in the south of Osteth, where their fortress of Linvak Tukal was built. (This translates as “Great Tukal” – Tukal being a city on their homeworld equal in size and importance to Ispar's Tirethas, Roulea, or Celdon.) They are determined, single-minded fighters, and their massive fists can crush a common human with a single blow.
Lugians are in love with the earth and works of artifice. They have never been seen to use magic, and discovered and developed chorizite, the magically inert ore that is forged into mage-killing “hollow” weapons. As Linvak Tukal proves, they are superlative engineers and inventors, with a preference for simple, rugged construction.
Lugian society on Dereth is clannish and structured, employing a rigid caste system and a strict code of honor to enforce order among their ranks. Their five castes, from lowest to highest, are Laigus (commoner), Amploth (artisan), Obeloth (fighter), Lithos (champion), Gigas (governor), Extas (patriarch or matriarch), and Tiatus (smith). Lugians are severe isolationists: intruders in their steadings are slain swiftly and without mercy.
The Lugian homeworld is called Tuu, after one of their gods (“god of rocks and things that sit around” in one translation). It is a cold and mountainous world with no moons to grace the night. Instead, “The Forge of Heaven,” a massive nebula that fills one-third of the sky, serves as a source of illumination after sunset.
Mattekars are a strange, fur-bearing variety of reed shark found in the snowfields and mountains of Dereth Island. They are also known, among common folk, as “snow sharks.” They are huge — seven feet or taller at the shoulder — and are found as lone rogues and small family units: the latter will defend one another to the death. They attack with claws, horns and teeth, and are particularly resistant to damage due to cold.
Marionettes are strange constructs that appeared in Dereth in Portal Year 12. Most have no idea where or when they began to appear, only that they can now be found in the deeps of the A'mun desert. Some think they are the unfortunate manifestations of those who became stuck in portal space, come to seek vengeance upon the living. Others whisper that the Virindi have something to do with their sudden appearance, and look with fear at the empty crypts of the desert. Either way, they are creatures to be feared, for all types can cast magic, and are extremely resistant to cold and lightning.
Mites are among the more recent (and irritating) arrivals to Dereth, having appeared 20 years after the first humans. These small, furry humanoids have since become a growing nuisance on the island. They stand four to five feet tall, and are very quick, clawing and kicking with startling speed. Worse than their bite, however, is their bark; the ear-splitting baying and yelping of Mites has driven more than one adventurer mad. Making their lairs in forests, caves, and abandoned dungeons, they breed at an alarming rate. Sages worry that, unchecked, they could soon run rampant.
Moarsmen, like Slithis, are a species only encountered among the steaming jungles of the Vesayen Isles. Unlike the Slithis, whose references in ancient lore have vaguely menacing overtones, these finned amphibian bipeds seem to have a gentler history.
A small army of Moarsmen guard the catacombs of Ithaenc Cathedral from trespass. They were present in the tunnels when the Catacombs first opened in Leafcull of P.Y. 11, implying that they have been performing the same role for centuries. From references in the Empyrean archive found under Xarabydun, it would seem that the priestesses of the Adjanite Order made a practice of taming and training the beasts. If true, this would indicate that, like the feral Gromnies, Moarsmen are one of the rare native species to survive the arrival of so many alien species on Dereth.
The three-eyed Monouga are highland dwellers who have also taken to living in derelict dungeons. They are aggressive warriors who fight with crude weapons and have a totemistic fascination with fire. Five to six feet tall at adulthood, they continue to grow as they age. Once they reach a certain size, however, their muscles can no longer support their weight. These frail “giants” are cast out into the wild, easy prey for other creatures. Recently, Monouga of tremendous size and strength threatened towns all over Dereth before bands of warriors and sorcerers slew them. It is not known how they grew to such a size while retaining such incredible strength.
Mosswarts are humanoids from the same world as Drudges, Tumeroks and Banderlings. In Dereth, they live in various swamps and marshes, particularly in the Blackmire Swamp between the Sho and Aluvian lands. They have also infested many ruins and damp catacombs. They are small (four to five feet tall), fight with claws, spears, swords and javelins, and are fearless when cornered. Some colonies also have magic-using shamans.
The eerily floating Niffis cast bizarre shadows across the sands. Strangely beautiful, these creatures are, unfortunately, also aggressive. Their form suggests an affinity for water, yet many of them congregate in deserts, basking in the harsh sun and balancing themselves with their lateral “wings.” It is thought the fine-grained Derethian sand may fulfill a function similar to water for the Niffis, a creature obviously saturated with alien and incomprehensible magic. Still, some rare Niffis do appear to seek out water, suggesting these creatures may once have had more humble and ordinary origins.
While Niffis can cast spells, their preference appears to be for close combat, and their wildly whipping tentacles can cause great damage. Yet, as much as travelers dread seeing a Niffis' form come floating across the dunes, something about this creature has caused more than a few people to stop and stare in awe -- sometimes to their regret.
Olthoi are a scourge upon the land: insectoid engines of death standing from seven to eight feet tall. They are responsible for the Empyrean flight from the world, and until a decade ago ran rampant across Dereth. Their numbers have diminished since Elysa Strathelar and Thorsten Cragstone overthrew them, but they can still be found deep in their dark, underground hives.
Olthoi are fast, vicious fighters, impaling victims with a pair of huge, overhead striking arms and eviscerating them with smaller, razor-sharp talons. Once they choose a foe they continue to attack until that foe is dead. To them, anything that is not an Olthoi is either prey or a potential slave.
Like ants and bees, Olthoi come in different forms, each suited to a particular role in their society:
- Grubs are wormlike newborn Olthoi. It is assumed that they go through a pupal metamorphosis, but such remains unseen by human eyes.
- Nymphs are immature Olthoi. They are relatively weak and easy to kill, but can still slaughter an entire party of inexperienced adventurers.
- Workers are sterile drones, responsible for digging new tunnels and other menial tasks. They are the most common form of Olthoi.
- Harvesters and Gardeners are specialist forms of Workers, who respectively forage for food in the territory around their hive, and tend the fungal gardens within the hive.
- Soldiers and Legionaries have but one purpose: to find threats to the hive and destroy them. Their barbed claws can slice through the strongest armor. They can also spit streams of acid.
- Eviscerators (also called Praetorians) are the elite shock troops of the Olthoi. They are very rarely seen, as they are specifically bred to defend Queens and their eggs. Other than the Queen, they are the deadliest form of Olthoi encountered by humanity.
- Nobles are the male counterparts to the Queen. They exist solely to help her create more Olthoi, although they are formidable opponents on their own.
- Queens are believed to be extinct in Dereth. There are always rumors that Workers are breeding new Queens somewhere underground, waiting until the time is right to conquer the surface once again.
Phyntos Wasps may be brightly colored and beautiful to look at, but they are also a dire pestilence. These flying insects are huge, with wingspans of three to four feet, and are unafraid to attack vastly superior foes with their cruel stingers. They come in different colors, each of which can use a different magical attack and is found in a different environment, from deserts to forests to swamps. Their buzzing can be heard from a great distance.
Rabbits are small, timid creatures, dangerous only to grass, clover, and the sickly underclass of porters many adventurers in Dereth employ to carry around their hard-earned spoils. It is believed that they are descended from pet hutch rabbits brought over from Ispar, being tame enough that any passer-by can walk up to and pat one if they so choose. Lamentably, recent arrivals more frequently practice their combat skills on them. In light of the wholesale slaughter of these long-eared rodents, particularly near settled areas, it would seem the only thing maintaining Dereth's bountiful rabbit population is the creatures' own penchant for reproducing.
Rabbits can be used to make a number of delicious foods. There are, however, rumors of a mighty albino rabbit that haunts the wilderness, hunting the hunters…
Rats are as much a fact of life on Dereth as they were on Ispar. The rodents in this world are of unusual size, however, being two or more feet from nose to tail. While most are easy to kill, they can still be daunting when they attack in swarms, and the more dangerous Black and Red Rats can be formidable. They dwell on the fringes of human habitation, and have also overrun many shallow dungeons. They attack with startling speed, leaping to sink their teeth into their victims.
The Reed Shark is a peculiar carnivore, a six-foot-long, hairless doglike creature with two forelegs and a single, strong hind leg. It also sports a fin-like crest on its back: the sight of these fins moving through the swamps is what gave this creature its name. They attack in packs, and fight quickly with claw and fang. They can be found nearly anywhere, except for mountains and waterways. Hea Tumeroks are known to keep them as “guard dogs.”
Rifts are enigmas that only recently began to confound adventurers. Some people believe they are “intelligent portals” that have taken umbrage at the superabundance of portal magic use in Dereth. Others believe they are Virindi in their true form, a theory supported by the mask that floats in the light surrounding the Rift. Either thesis could be valid; certainly the Rifts are not answering any questions.
Rifts are immune to lightning, and it is rumored that it in fact heals them. They tend to be almost immune to magical attack and vulnerable to physical attack, or the inverse (weak against magic, strong against physical). They also have the ability to summon Virindi and Virindi-allied creatures to aid them in combat. This last ability is what makes them dangerous. Rifts have claimed many adventurers who thought themselves in a one on one fight.
Appearing during the autumn season, these manikins of sticks and straw seemed benign enough…at first. Believed to have come through the same portals that draw the Isparians to Dereth, many took these Scarecrows for a touching reminder of home.
Until, that is, suspicions grew about these pumpkin-headed figures. Were they indeed drawn from the world of Ispar, or simply Virindi-crafted puppets?
The Sclavus is not a natural monster, but rather a magical crossbreed of serpent and humanoid. It is rumored that they were created ages ago by a degenerate Empyrean cult, in a failed attempt to construct a servant race. Four different subraces exist, ranging in size from four to seven feet tall. Sclavi fight viciously with swords and spears, and are also powerful spellcasters. Swamps, ruins, and deep dungeons are their homes.
The tale of the Shadows is long and still unclear in many respects.
Three thousand years ago, an Empyrean named Ilservian Palacost gave himself over in service to an ancient, nameless power of darkness and madness. He became known as Bael'Zharon, the “Slayer of Hope” in the language of Asheron's people. Ilservian's followers were changed into Shadows.
The first Shadows, then, were Empyrean, corrupted by the same force of chaos that empowered Bael'Zharon. These Shadows fought a vicious war against the ancient Empyrean and nearly destroyed them. Only the actions of the Yalain Mage Council and Asheron saved the race from absorption or destruction.
In recent months, the Shadows captured and corrupted many humans into members of their ranks. They took other species as well; some believe Greivvers to be wildly mutated Olthoi, and the Shadow Sprites bear a striking resemblance to the fey Zefir. It is known from historical records that in the last war, the Shadows similarly twisted several Gromnatross — the adult form of Dereth's Gromnies — into the Shadow Spires.
There are only three Shadows known by name. Ler Rhan and Black Ferah are “generals” in the service of Bael'Zharon. They are extremely powerful entities that do not seem to fully exist in our world. Instead, they send aspects of themselves into Dereth. Isin Dule was once a fellow Shadow general, but rebelled when his master was freed in P.Y. 11. When Bael'Zharon was defeated, he exiled Dule and his forces from the ranks of the “true” Shadows. The current location and activity of Dule's followers are not known.
There are indications that some Shadows, particularly those of the more powerful Panumbris and Umbris types, predate the conversion of Ilservian into Bael'Zharon. Scholars believe this indicates the force that empowered the Hopeslayer has sought the conquest of Dereth for a far much longer time than is commonly known.
Shallows Sharks are a mutant breed of Reed Shark found along the shores of lakes and rivers. They look similar to their land-dwelling cousins, but are smaller and even more savage. They often lurk in shallow water, hiding until prey comes near. They do not like to share their territory with other creatures, including land-dwelling Reed Sharks.
The Shreth is a relatively new arrival to Dereth, having started to appear only in the past year or two. A squat carnivore with bony spikes jutting from its back, it passes through several growth spurts during its life, growing larger and stronger at every stage. Its natural habitat is not yet known, but some have taken to dwelling in dungeons, where they like to feast on carrion and rats. The Shreth attacks with its spikes, hooves, and savage teeth.
The iridescent Siraluun are omnivorous native fowl found only on the island of Marae Lassel. The smaller, more gregarious species are known to flock in large colonies along the island's coast, waterways, and belts of elani trees. They feed on small insects, seeds, and shellfish, although the larger versions have shown themselves capable of cracking the skulls of Carenzi pouchlings with a single rap of their sharp beaks. Always attracted to bright, shiny objects, the Siraluun line their fiercely protected nests with treasure plucked from their victims.
There is a larger, solitary breed of Siraluun, the magnificent Kithless. This enormous bird is sighted only occasionally, stalking prey on the Marescent Plateau and in the northern regions of Marae. It is a transient scavenger that does not regularly consort with others of its kind. Cranky Kithless Siraluun often get into “dominance” squabbles over females and prime hunting territory. They have never been seen to build nests, leading some tumerok hunters to believe that they do have some limited ability to fly, and migrate to a small island north of Marae to mate and lay their eggs.
Skilled artisans among the tumerok have learned to craft exquisite clothing and weaponry from the creature's brilliant plumage. Be advised that the claws of some Siraluun crackle with electrical energy.
No one knows the true form of the Slithis. They are encountered only as a small field of waving tentacles, erupting from soft earth and pools of stagnant water. The main body of the creature lurks somewhere underground, sight unseen.
Based on the recovered journals of the undead general Anadil, it would seem that the Slithis are quite an ancient species, potentially of great importance. He noted that: “…the (Undead) believe the tentacled creatures are the spawn of the Great Ones.” The mythical “Great Ones” referred to are the gods of the vanished Empyrean Falatacot people, who taught the arts of necromancy to later civilizations.
The implication is that the Slithis, as we know them, are but the young offspring of far more eldritch and powerful creatures who have been absent from the world for many thousands of years. Anadil's journal recounted a description of the Great Ones offered by Aerfalle, the undead Lady of Aerlinthe Island:
They did not see much beyond a great writhing mass of tentacles, “a vast field of them, rising glistening from the mire,” she said, “some as thick as larchess trunks.” She conjectured that the creature beneath the water might have been the size of the volcano Tenkarrdun. If such is true, the creatures boiling beneath the water and soft earth here must be mere infants.
Slithis are only encountered on the Vesayen Islands, in the southeast of Dereth.
Many claimed these were less some form of Snow Golem and more strange creatures drawn from Ispar into Dereth (as with the Scarecrows). Appearing during the winter months, many Snowmen added a festive spirit to the season; in fact, it was rumored that one hidden Snowman vendor even sold unique and frosty food.
Other Snowmen, however, proved less than jolly, demonstrating just how much damage a hurled ball of ice could cause.
Found only in the training halls, Targets are principally fashioned from straw or oak. Built to provide new arrivals to Dereth a chance to hone their melee skills, none of these Targets has ever fought back. Yet.
The face of the Tumeroks known to humanity was that of warlike humanoids. In the early years after the retreat of the Olthoi, Tumerok raider bands were a constant threat to human settlements, sacking towns from Holtburg to Yanshi. Humanity rarely came out the better in these engagements; at one point the entire adult population of Holtburg was slaughtered or taken as slaves.
This was not the true nature of the Tumerok. They once enjoyed a peaceful, communal culture, rich in oral tradition, and a unique magic system based on ritual drumming.
But as humans always arrive on this world at one of the nine portal-nexus towns of Osteth, so do the Tumeroks always arrive on the Marescent Plateau of Marae Lassel. This trapped them on a much smaller landmass. They found themselves in a life-or death struggle with the brood of a second Olthoi Queen – not the one slain by Thorsten Cragstone and Elysa Strathelar. The Tumeroks found a way to pen in the Olthoi (which they call “Wharu”) that was as idiosyncratic as their culture.
Perhaps they could have lived in peace, if the Virindi had not discovered them. The cloaked creatures struck a deadly bargain with Aranpuh, an embittered young outcast. Aranpuh was taken and altered – perhaps the same alteration chronicled by the Aluvian Candeth Martine. So empowered, Aranpuh returned with a host of other angry young Tumeroks, and seized control of the Hea tribe.
In return for doing the bidding of the Virindi, the Hea are granted Virindi weapons and passage to the freedom of mainland Dereth. It is “Hea Arantah's” warriors who have bedeviled humans for so long. The loose siege maintained around Dryreach, for example, is used by the tribe as a brutal training ground for new warriors.
But there was one last condition of this bargain. In order to serve as “infiltrators,” the Virindi altered the bodies of the Hea from their natural form to something more….human.
Tumerok names are composed of three parts in a specific order: xuta (tribe) name, given name, and title/role within the xuta, according to the following set of roles:
- Tah – chieftain
- Nua – veteran warrior
- Awa – warrior
- Itea – archer
- Ona – scout
- Aua – elder shaman (literally spirit [au] companion [ua])
- Auri – shaman (literally spirit [au] summoner [ri])
- Rea – hunter
- Khe – drum-speaker
- Ura – merchant
- Puh – outcast or rebel (literally “closed-mouth”)
So, for example, if Manu is a warrior (Awa) of the Hea xuta, he is called Hea Manuawa.
In truth, the word “tumerok” is not their name for themselves. Tumeroks refer to themselves as Tonk, a sound that has spiritual significance to them. It seems to imply the concept of “prime mover.” It is not yet known what “tumerok” actually means, although the revulsion with which they react to it suggests it is an insult.
The Tumeroks transplanted to Dereth prefer to dwell in dry, rocky regions, and have made the Direlands their home. They have dug their own redoubts, and built several fortresses. Perhaps due to the influence of the Virindi, they have taken to using other humanoids as slaves and foot soldiers. They sometimes encroach on human settlements, engaging in both quick raids and longer sieges, using numbers to ensure victory.
The Tumeroks call their home world Ezheret-Hazahtu, although they only live on the body they call Ezheret. This requires some explanation. While a sun does rise and fall in the sky, Ezheret actually orbits another, larger planet called Hazahtu. Hazahtu, or “The Blind Eye,” is an enormous, cloud-shrouded grey-blue orb. Legend holds that when the eye of Hazahtu loses its occlusion, the Tumeroks will be judged for their stewardship of the world.
Ezheret is hot, humid, and prone to extended periods of foul weather. Gales and hurricanes are frequent, perhaps due to the unusual sparseness of dry land. The Tumerok tribes are spread across myriad archipelagos, separated by hours or days of journey by boat. This partly explains why drumming is so predominant in their culture; since it is difficult to stay in direct daily contact, friends and relations will stand on shores across from each other and pound their drums to communicate across the water. This “drum talking” is also used to stay in contact while riding out inclement weather.
The Tumeroks share Ezheret with the scavenger Drudges, as well as the perpetually warring Banderlings and Mosswarts.
Tuskers are a race of eight-foot-tall, apelike brutes, named for the large tusks that jut from their lower jaws. They prefer to dwell in forests, although some have been found in the Direlands and elsewhere, as slaves of the mysterious Virindi. They tend to gather in small clans, dominated by a “crimsonback” female and a “goldenback” male. They fight in groups, bashing with their massive fists and kicking with their strong legs.
Upon meeting one of Dereth's animated corpses, never fool yourself into believing that what you face is a monster devoid of intelligence, bent only upon the murder and defilement of one's mortal form. To underestimate the undead of Dereth is a vast mistake, for they are fiercely intelligent, and enjoy a society as rich and complex as any living culture.
Many of the undead seen today were born far from Dereth's shores, on an unseen western continent called Dericost. Long ago, the noble families of the Dericost Kingdom learned necromancy from the Falatacot people. For thousands of years, undead nobles of Dericost ruled the kingdom in secret, through living intermediaries. After a lifetime of service, these figurehead rulers would join the ranks of the undead on the frigid northern Plateau of Gelid, the heart of the Kingdom.
But the Old Lords grew smug in their power. Some, calling themselves Latzimestal (“Lords of the World” in the language of the Falatacot), declared that ruling in secret was cowardly and hypocritical. The undead had power; let them rule openly. So saying, they seized the realm from the old guard Filinuvekta (“Winds From Darkness”), and launched an aggressive campaign of military expansion. They were ultimately defeated by a coalition lead by the Kingdom of Haebrous, under King Jailne, and the Empire of Yalain, under Empress Alaidain.
But not all the undead were destroyed. Many of the Old Lords fled to the island they called Killiakta: Dereth. They remained a powerful faction until the release of Bael'Zharon in P.Y. 11. The factious undead came to rare accord, and stood united against the Shadows. This proved their undoing, as the losses they suffered destroyed the core of their power. The Dericost are now struggling to survive, and plotting to rebuild their power yet again.
Some luminaries of undead society are:
- Lady Aerfalle is a formidable sorceress who resides on the volcanic island of Aerlinthe. She is one of the Primogenitor (original) undead, as is her longtime love interest Lord Rytheran. As a Primogenitor, she has a unique ability to regenerate herself from almost complete physical destruction – an awing feat of sheer willpower. She is the de facto head of the Filinuvekta faction in the absence of His Eternal Splendor.
- Lord Rytheran was once the master of a lyceum (school of magic) for children of the Yalain Empire, a position that gave him much satisfaction. Over the course of centuries, he turned many of the best and brightest of his Kingdom's conquerors to the ways of necromancy, and the allegiance of Dericost. As a Primogenitor undead, Rytheran can never be destroyed, unless he chooses to be. He still resides in his school, the Mage Academy dungeon near Castle Neydisa.
- His Eternal Splendor is an elusive figure, mentioned a few times in lore. He is one of the Primogenitor undead along with Aerfalle and Rytheran. He was once the leader of the Filinuvekta faction, but disappeared long ago. Even the undead seem unsure of his current whereabouts. The last mention of him dates back to the Empyrean war with the Shadows.
- The Steward of Chalicmere presumably lives in the Direlands fortress of that name, but has never been seen by human eyes. She is the current leader of the Latzimestal, as evinced by her title of Steward; she maintains titular control of the Dericost Kingdom in the name of King Sarvien II, the Latzimestal monarch deposed by the victorious armies of Yalain and Haebrous.
- The Sand Kings are former chieftains of the High Desert, a large expanse of wasteland and tundra west of Gelid. The tribes of the region were fierce nomadic warriors, who moved their herds of animals from one hot spring shelter to another as the seasons turned. The High Desert was an early conquest of the Dericost monarchs, a campaign in which they came to respect the fighting prowess of their enemies. For millennia afterwards, the nomads were recruited to lead the armies of Dericost. They currently serve the Steward of Chalicmere's Latzimestal, though not necessarily by preference – their oaths were to the monarch of Dericost, and the nomads always honor their oaths.
- Nerash was a Sand King who led the armies of Dericost at the final battle of the Millennium War – the siege of the Plateau of Gelid. For losing this battle, he was disgraced. During the engagement, however, a beautiful Haebraen warrior named Leikotha caught his eye and heart. In the aftermath, he abducted her and turned her to an undead. She later escaped, and had her vengeance at the conclusion of the Empyrean Shadow War. Nerash was slain by Leikotha at Ayn Tayan, a titanic three-day battle between undead and Shadow.
- Anadil was a fellow of Nerash, and apparently second only to that Sand King in the art of war. He was recruited by the Steward of Chalicmere to serve as head of the undead army that stood against Bael'Zharon in P.Y. 11. While serving in that capacity, he was slain by Isparians near the Cathedral of Ithaenc. He has since been laid to rest by his tribesman at the Crypts of the Sand Kings, in the South Direlands.
Undead creatures are Filinuvekta mages, Skeletons are Latzimestal warriors, and Mu-Miyah are nomad warriors of the Sand Kings.
The Ursuin are stocky, four-legged creatures that travel together in small packs. They stand anywhere from three to seven feet tall at the shoulder, though there are rumored to be even larger species. It is thought that these carnivores pursued some other form of fauna through a portal and ended up in Dereth. The Ursuin are natives of Ispar; however, this does not curb their aggressive tendencies towards other Isparians… or anything else for that matter.
In fact, the Ursuin are rather erratic in their behavior, being quite languid in some instances yet driven to murderous rage the next, leading to the expression, “it is best to let a sleeping Ursuin lie.” They seem to be adapting to the new terrain quickly, each breed seeking out the regions for which it is best suited. Recently, former natives of Ispar have taken to naming the different breeds of Ursuin by the territories they have migrated to. Only time will tell what impact this carnivore will have on the ecosystem of Dereth.
The Virindi are a race of levitating beings shrouded by heavy cloaks. Their faces — if they have faces — are concealed by grotesque white masks. As of this writing, no one has ever seen a Virindi without its cloak or mask.
The Virindi have a shared consciousness, which they call the Quiddity. The more time Virindi spend in Dereth, the more they grow isolated from the Quiddity. This leads to insanity, and what they call “aberrance” – that is, individuality. But for this invasive force of humanization, the Virindi would be quite cold and mechanical. In their natural state, they are ruthlessly logical and practical. Inferior members of their own race are stripped of will and intellect, to serve as living “puppets” for the superior will of other Virindi. They see no value whatsoever in individuals or in frail “meatling” creatures, which they often “augment” for use as servitors.
The origin and motives of the Virindi remained shrouded in mystery. While their difficulties in this land are known, it is not known why they came here, or why they go through the trouble of staying here. It is certain that they are not native to this world – they refer to their point of origin as “the Singularity.” Offhand comments by no less an authority than Asheron have established their arrival here as being prior to any of the other races, but far after the events that lead to the Empyrean abandonment of the world. One theory, inspired by their uncanny mastery of portal magic, holds that they are actually residents of that realm.
The Virindi have, at some point in the past, fought with Asheron – and lost. The circumstances and cause of that mighty grapple are yet unknown.
Wisps are strange, magical creatures that resemble dancing balls of light. Their origins are unknown: some scholars speculate that they are tied to the vanished Empyrean, or to the forces of magic. They are unpredictable in battle, often relying on magic to harm or hinder opponents, but sometimes darting at a target to inflict electrical damage.
Zefir are small, winged humanoids that dwell within ruins and subterranean caverns. Unlike the benevolent faerie folk of legend, the Zefir are mean-spirited and destructive, and have no love for humans. They attack in swarms to defend their lairs, scratching with their sharp claws, and can also draw upon a large arsenal of harmful spells. They are particularly fond of fire and lightning, and are resistant to damage from those sources.
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