The Tale Thus Far...

From 11-20-2001

Eleven years after the Isparians won their freedom from the Olthoi, the skies chilled and the snowline dipped from the peaks of the Lost Wish and Linvak mountain ranges, until the entire island of Dereth was coated in snow.

During the sudden frost, Sir Joffre Tremblant searched for a fabled lost Empyrean city. His party's disappearance was a mystery until rescuers discovered that the Tremblant Party had been slain and turned into undead by an ancient cult of necromancers in the undergound city of Frore. Adventurers battled throught armiers of undead into the depths of Frore, where they confronted a crystalline Great Work. The necromancers had found this crystal buried in the earth and used it to drain the heat from the land to suit their needs. Many adventurers perished before the huge magic crystal could be shattered, but eventually they succeeded and warmth returned to the land.

Ancient documents told of a war with Shadow creatures, led by a creature named Bael'Zharon, the "Hopeslayer", two thousand years before the arrival of humans. As heat seeped back into the earth after the shattering of the Great Work, enigmatic Shadow-creatures reappeared in Dereth. An Empyrean alchemist and warrior, Lord Atlan, had forged weapons during the first war to defeat these dark warriors...perhaps because humanity began to recover Atlan's ancient weapons from hidden underground vaults, the Shadows seemingly vanished into the night. Records found in Atlan's vaults revealed that the last war ended only when Bael'Zharon was trapped within a prison of crystal that subsequently broke into six pieces. The "Great Work" found by the necromancers of Frore was the first piece.

In the following spring, the snows receded and a rainbow of new flowers spouted from the earth. There were festivals and dances and many marriages. Strange events, however, cut short the spring celebrations. Dark, twisted Shadow spires burst from the ground. Although evil looking, these floating towers appeared only to drift harmlessly over the land. And upon the horizon, between flashes of lightning, some saw a great, shadowy silhouette, its dark wings stretching across the stars.

The Shadows, believed by manhy to be dormant, now attacked remote human outposts. Adventurers entered the shadow spires and battled powerful Shadow Generals, discovering an ominous magical creation: the Nexus Crystal. The crystal, the second of the six imprisoning Bael'Zharon, was destroyed. The Shadows once again retreated.

After the shattering of the Nexus Crystal, a Gharu'nsim noble, Jaleh al-Thani, built a new town, Ayan Baqur, in the wildest reaches of the Direlands. Meanwhile, Shadow Spires continued to glide over the land; small groups of Shadows were sighted, but their once-vast armies were nowhere to be seen.

And in the Direlands, undead heralds opened portals to the island of Aerlinthe, off the northeast coast of Dereth. Fossilized undead and other terrifying creatures wandered this volcanic ruin. Isparian adventurers entered the Keep of an ancient creature named Aerfalle, the undead Lady of Aerlinthe. They challenged and bested the eldritch sorceress. Aerfalle's letters revealed that her undead armies also sought to stop the Shadows and their lord Bael'Zharon..

In a laboratory in the mistress' keep, the adventurers stumbled upon a nascent horror: and Olthoi grub. For this Olthoi young to exist, something had to have given birth to it.

As leaves turned colors and fell from the trees that year, four drifted spires converged on the town of Cragstone. A mysterious magician repelled these Spires with the help of an unknown archer, who many held to be Elysa Strathelar. Meanwhile, humans fought both Shadows an undead in an attempt to gain accesss to three additional pieces of Bael'Zharon's crystal prison. Unfortunately, the pieces were shattered, leaving only one crystal to hold the master of the Shadows at bay.

Later that season, explorers discovered portals to the Vesayen Isles archipelago southeast of Dereth. Adventurers destroyed undead armies in an ancient cathedral there and found a journal revealing the location of a single remaining crystal that by itself was all that held Bael'Zharon imprisoned.

Many sought to destroy this crystal to gain the favor of Bael'Zharon. Other Isparians saw this as folly and rallied to defend the crystal. In the end, the destroyers prevailed and Bael'Zharon was free from his 2000-year-old prison. With Bael'Zharon loose, the waters turned the color of blood, the skies darkened to crimson, and the sun was blotted out.

The reclusive Empyrean mage, Asheron, emerged after many years unseen to halt Bael'Zharon. He tried reason, but soon the two were engaged in a magical duel that raged across the land. Meanwhile, adventurers found and combined ancient artifacts to sap the distracted Shadowlord's powers.

Weakened, Bael'Zharon retreated to his lair, pursued by armies of Isparians. Bael'Zharon and his Shadow guards slew hundreds...but finally succumbed to banishment into darkness. With Bael'Zharon gone, his Shadows also retreated.

The mysterious, hooded Virindi seemed to fill the power void. At one time these alien beings only occupied the Obsidian Plains or their own underground laboratoriess. Now, a new Virindi installation appeared in the A'mun Desert and the creatures glided across Dereth at will.

Bodiless Virindi dolls and undead marionettes soon floated over the sands of the A'mun desert in the new spring — the Virindi brashly encroached further upon Isparian lands.

A Virindi Observer then appeared in the town of Ayan Baqur, claiming to be there to prevent renegade Virindi forces from ravaging the city. This Virindi was unfortunately slain, and his claim proved to be true: Virindi attackers descended. The nobleman Jaleh al-Thani fled, and the Virindi soon stood in the stead of the shopkeepers and crafters of Ayan Baqur.

In the month of Morningthaw, Lugian emissaries settled and made peaceful overtures in Rithwic, Nanto, and Yaraq. Emboldened, explorers made contact with the residents of Linvak Tukal, the Lugian fortress. Rival Lugian raiders besieged the fort, as the adventurers soon discovered.

This division between Lugians acted as a reminder of the recent overthrow of Ayan Baqur, and the schism that might exist within the Virindi forces. Additional intelligence gathered by adventurers' raids on Virindi strongholds confirmed speculations of an internal power struggle amond the Virindi.

Soon thereafter, Isparians repelled the Virindi and liberated Ayan Baqur. The Virindi were riven between an "old guard" who remained a single mind, and a cadre of Directors tainted by prolinged contact with humans. The rebels sought to establish a "Quiddity," or shared consciousness, of their own on Dereth; a consciousness that would be amenable to their new individuality.

The renegade Virindi conducted experiments upon Isparians to understand human consciousness better. They forged alliances with Tumerok and Lugian factions to bolster their military might and gain access to valuable minerals.

Humans then discovered a path to the island known as the Singularity Caul. Once Bael'Zharon's personal playgorund, it was overrun by both factions of Virindi. The old guard Virindi eventually gave up on trying to force the renegades back into the fold, and elected to watch and wait to see how their experiment would unfold.

One man, however — Candeth Martine — would not so easily forget the Virindi. He had been their prisoner, experimented upon, and augmented by their alien magic. When he escaped, he used his new powers to rip open portals to the previously unknown island northwest of Dereth, called Marae Lassel by the Empyrean.

Marae Lassel
Long ago, Marae Lassel had been an unspoiled wilderness. With the original appearance of the Olthoi, though, Marae Lassel, like Dereth, became host to a new brood.

As the Isparians were summoned to Dereth as a side effect of Asheron's sundering, the Tumeroks were also torn from their native lands. They arrived on Marae Lassel, and found themselves trapped, unable to reach the shores of Dereth — fighting for their lives against the Olthoi. That changed when cloaked, floating stranger approached an outcast named Aranpuh. The Tumerok boy was "blessed," and overthrew the Hea, one of the two Tumerok tribes on the island. The Hea tribe thus entered a compact with the Virindi: in exchange for a way off the island, they wold serve as the Virindi's soldiers.

Today in the wilds of Marae Lassel, a fungal blight creeps across the land, and the nights are fraught with the ratcheting of a thousand insects. In the wake of the Virindi collapse, Aranpuh's Tumeroks have turned their attention to settling old scores. And Martine pursues his plans of vengeance, heedless of the cost.

Somewhere, yet undiscovered, an old enemy awaits. It is a foe potent and terrible, the lieks of which have not been seen since the tragic heroism of Thorsten Cragstone. But Cragstone is no who will save Dereth this time?  

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