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Volume II: A Struggle with Darkness (-2,998 to -1,999)

By A Learned Sage


"The Black Rains"
The Empyreans ignore the celestial fiery visitor seen in the night skies until, one night, it completely disappears. Soon afterward, roiling black clouds raining ash and soot darken the skies. The Yalaini see the darkness enveloping the world as a sign that the Light has rejected them. With the world cooling and crops withering in the fields, panic seizes the people. Although there's abundant food in the storehouses, the Yalaini Elders hoard the stores and dole out only a pittance of what the people need to survive. Remembering the dark magics used by the Dericost Kingdom, the Elders try to pin the blame for these Black Rains on the descendants of the Dericost. The Elders claim it is the actions of these descendants' ancient ancestors that has caused the Light to curse the land and turn the sun dark, and for this all must do penance.

Food shortages strike particularly hard at the village of Daralet, located on the fringes of the Yalaini Empire. With his son on the verge of starvation, Ilservian Palatacost, a mage of Dericost ancestry, approaches the Yalaini Elders and demands they share the food they have in the storehouses. The Elders refuse and have the mage and his followers run out of the village. Ilservian's son dies soon thereafter.


Ancient scrolls record this as a time when clans of nomad Lugians, led by powerful male warriors, roam the planet Tuu. Clan leadership is obtained by killing all rivals in combat. Female Lugians are no more than clan property, left in their ramshackle villages, responsible only for feeding the clan and caring for the young.


During an extremely violent storm, Ilservian, having vowed to return light to the world and finding none, in despair now calls out to the darkness for aid instead. Something in the darkness answers, offering him and his followers power and a means to obtain revenge. Ilservian agrees and steps into Shadow.


Rhethis Eipoth - "First Age of Lore"
Almost 80 years after the sun was last seen, a single shaft of sunlight pokes through the clouds of dust and ash. Twenty years later, the skies are finally free of their influence. With the end of the Black Rains, Emperor Caerlin I declares a new age for the Empire.

Many Empyreans spent much of the period of Black Rains hiding in shelters, and this long confinement gave them much time to think. While many want to return to the life they enjoyed before the rains, others feel their race must first gain a greater understanding of the world around them. With this greater knowledge in hand, they hope they will be able to prevent future catastrophes. To further this goal, accomplished mages found a magical research facility on Dereth.


Lady Rajael Fellarien is convicted of desecrating the island of Marae Lassel, a nature preserve and religious retreat. She maintains that she has been seeking a great evil that resides deep below the island. For her crime, her line is divested of its nobility and she is stripped of the title of Protector of Marae Lassel. A tower is constructed to imprison her in the frozen wastelands of the south, where her only companions will be her Golem guards.


Asheron Realaidain is born, the first son of Atlan, Lord of Knorr and an accomplished alchemist, and Lady Maila, Master of the Knorr Lyceum.


Reports from Daralet of people, especially children, simply disappearing begin to trickle in to the Imperial capital of Tentael. As these reports and stories spread, the populace in neighboring villages become terrified. Emperor Caerlin sends forces to the borders of the Empire to investigate.


When contact with the town of Daralet is lost, Lord Atlan and his forces are ordered to look into the situation. Of the thousands of men and women sent on this mission, only a single female squire returns. Driven mad by the experience, she raves about shadowy men, women, and children enveloping and defeating them, all led by a great winged creature. Soon after this, the Shadow begins to grow at an accelerated rate until it covers the entire Dericost continent. Forces sent against this growing Shadow never return and the Yalaini Empire is unable to ascertain who or what is behind these attacks. The only visible manifestation, the black winged creature, eventually earns the Yalaini name "Bael'Zharon," meaning "Slayer of Hope."


In this year, the first reported sighting of one of Bael'Zharon's "Thorns," which Isparians would later call a Shadow Spire, occurs. Surviving texts tell that these objects are comprised of a Gromnatross, an enormous winged creature which is somehow combined with the forms of hundreds of captured Empyreans. This horrific lifefrom provides the Spires with the ability to pull and shape the mana currents of the worlds.


With Bael'Zharon's forces assaulting the Empire's holdings in the Haebrous continent, the Emperor commands the greatest mages of the time to convene what comes to be called "The Council of Five." These mages are to find a way to stop the Shadows. Those called are:

  • Viceroy Uweden Kormar, the aged scholar and mage who had governed Gelid for the Empire before it fell to the Shadows.
  • Lady Rajael Fellarien, who is freed from her confinement in the southern wastes.
  • Lord Kerenth Portenaer, who is promoted from the ranks of the Emperor's personal guard, the Order of Hieromancers.
  • Lady Adja, a prophetess and priestess of the Ithnaec Cathedral.
  • Lady Maila Realaidain, Master of the Knorr Lyceum and widow of Lord Atlan. (Lady Maila's son Asheron also accompanies her and serves as an assistant to the Council.)

The Yalaini forces lead a desperate retreat from the Haebrous lands. In a bid to provide them with more time to make good their retreat, the Council of Five confronts the Shadow mage leading the assault against the Haebrous town of Dernhale. During the battle, the mage reveals her name to be Elithra of Daralet. Finally, through the combined might of the Council, this powerful mage is defeated. Her death sows confusion among the Shadows and gives the Yalaini forces time to evacuate the town.

Upon their return to the Imperial capital, the Council comes to the conclusion that the winged creature Bael'Zharon, always seen leading the Shadow forces, is in fact a conduit for the Shadow forces' power. They theorize that, if they can break this connection, the threat of the Shadows should be almost completely eliminated. The Council also makes a search of Imperial archives for references to Elithra of Daralet and discovers she'd been a follower of Ilservian Palacost who had accompanied him when he'd been cast out of Daralet. The Yalaini now know the man Bael'Zharon once was, and that they were responsible for making him the monster he now is.

As an adept, Asheron has been studying planar magics. He proposes to the Council that these form the seed of a plan to trap Bael'Zharon. Using an array of magically charged crystals, he theorizes that Bael'Zharon can be trapped in a pocket of portalspace. Once cut off from the force empowering him and his followers, Bael'Zharon will no longer be a threat.

As the remnants of the Yalaini armies try to board ships bound for the Yalaini archipelago, Emperor Caerlin I and his Heiromancer guards challenge another Shadow general, Omadin. As the Emperor presses his attack, Omadin summons a cloud of Black Breath to his defense. At the moment the Emperor's blade severs Omadin's head from his body, a wisp of black mist touches Caerlin's arm and leaves a patch of darkness. This poisons Caerlin, causing him agonizing pain, and in the coming years the pain increases as the patch grows and covers more of his arm, eventually driving him mad.


The Imperial capital of Tentael falls to the Shadows. The remnants of the Yalaini Empire are pushed back to their final stronghold, the island of Dereth (known to them as "Ireth Lassel"). Unknown to the Yalain, the remnants of the Dericost Kingdom's undead armies put aside their differences to delay the Shadow forces at the battle of Ayn Tayan. The delay allows the Crystal Array proposed by Asheron to be completed at the Jailne Lyceum. Once completed, the enormous power of this device draws Bael'Zharon's attention.

As Bael'Zharon breaks through the Lyceum's defenses and touches the Array, the Council of Five casts the final incantations and flings him into the portalspace prison they had prepared for him. The energies coursing through the Array soon overpower it and result in an explosion that shatters the Array into six pieces. The explosion obliterates the Shadow forces surrounding the Lyceum and creates the Obsidian Plains. All members of the Council of Five are also killed in the explosion, although Asheron survives. Moments before the Array was activated, his mother and Lady Adja both cast an ancient Falatacot protection spell on him. In addition to protecting him, this spell also greatly slows Asheron's aging.

Torethis Eipoth - "Second Age of Lore"
With the defeat of Bael'Zharon, Emperor Caerlin I declares a new age for the Empire. Once again the Empire begins rebuilding all that was destroyed and magical experimentation receives even more emphasis by the survivors. The Emperor commands that all pieces of the Array be found and hidden in protected vaults. Those who locate the Shards of the Array report that the shards seem to be showing a limited form of consciousness, attempting to bury themselves deep within the earth. Eventually five of the six pieces are discovered, but no trace of the sixth piece can be found. Asheron returns to his ancestral home on the island of Knorr, where he takes on the role of Master of the Knorr Lyceum, the position previously held by his mother.


Emperor Caerlin I is finally consumed by the disease given to him by his exposure to a swath of Black Breath and dies. His son, Durglen, ascends to the throne and takes the Imperial name of Caerlin II.

To continue on to the Third Volume, click below:

Volume III: The Fall from Grace (-1,804 to -891)
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