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Legacy of the Bound

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"No-one is free
until they kill their gods"

- Goliath proverb

 
Aeons ago, after the Age of Dragons and the Age of Giants had both passed, and the Great Glaciers had melted and sculpted the world anew, then came the First Founding, the Age of the Tribes of Earth.   They lacked the immortal wisdom of the Dragons; or the unassailable might of the Giants; or the incomprehensible intellect of the Kraken, the Aboleth, and those other dwellers in the deep. Their lives were brief, fleeting things, barely a speck of dust in the eye of Eternity. Yet, they were blessed with ingenuity; with ambition; with the capacity to learn and change their nature far beyond what any who had come before them were capable of.   Generation by generation, they spread out across the earth and the water, mastering the flame and all the invisible powers of the air. And at last they gazed to the Heavens, and embraced all that was contained within their limitless ambitions.   Thus fell the First Founding.
   

"I seize divinity for all those who are oppressed;
that we might hear the cry of the weak and downtrodden
and bring forth liberation..."
- The Fragment of Storms

 
They warred, akin to no war before or since; with vast legions of warriors and monstrous creatures of legend, with word and gesture, with fire and the sword, and with all the invisible powers of the air. They toppled mountains and sunk kingdoms beneath the waves; their wrath burned the land to dust and boiled the oceans dry; their cruelty froze the fires of the deep and made the winds of the high mountains as flashing blades of coldest steel.
 
They warred, without pity, without reason, without hope; each bound into endless conflict in the doomed and desperate grasp of the salvation that was also their damnation. They warred until the very earth itself cried out for mercy, until the moon wept silver tears for all that had been lost, until the sun turned its back on the world in horror, until only the darkness remained.
 
And within the silent darkness, the voice of thunder roared: "ENOUGH!"
 
Thus fell the Paragons of Azoth.
   

"One by darkness, one by light,
One in the deep, and one in dreams,
One for love, and one for fear,
One by the word, one by the sword,
And one by her own will was bound"
- the Ninefold Binding

   
Uncounted ages passed, and an empire arose. Its rulers - the mighty Basilisk Queens - were the greatest magicians of their age. Harnessing hitherto untapped sources of mystical power, they spread their influence across the continent by fire and the sword, and all the invisible powers of the air. They cast down all that would not bend the knee, shattering the power of the Orcish Khanate and enslaving its people. They besieged the ancient Elven enclaves until they acknowledged the supremacy of the Basilisk Queens; they drove the Hobgoblins from their shores and retook the isles from the foul Sahuagin. The only people who could stand against them were the Dwarves of Tzim Tevash - with whom they entered into a tense peace that lasted centuries.
 
Until one fateful night, the fires of the deep arose from Mat Zadat, the cursed mountain known latterly as Witherpeak, and the land fell into chaos and three years of winter.
 
Thus fell the Empire of Kataris.
 

"For the Sun to rise,
first must come Darkness"
- Orcish proverb

 
1344 Anno Kataris.
 
It has been two years since the Zallenkirk Accord finally brought an end to the Long War. For the first time in generations, the nations of Balthas and Aldernord are at peace - and, too, is the young Republic of Savura and the reclaimed Dwarven city of Vash Kevah.
 
Two centuries of war have claimed a heavy toll on the land, and despite the declared peace, unrest is the rule. In the provinces, banditry runs rife, with levies having been discharged to find they had neither homes, nor coin, nor food to return to. In Balthas, there are rumours of goblin incursions from the mountains, and worse things besides; in the taverns of Aldernord, there are whispers of revolution; and in Savura, the word on the street is that the Dictator, Anaximander di Sola di Treponzo, has no intention of handing power back his power to the Senate following the end of the war.
 
Further abroad, travelers tell tales of the Mandragori civil war reaching a bloody, but inevitable conclusion as the Dragons unleash their rage upon their rebellious scions. To the west, the zealous Vaali launch their crusade into the mountains of the Desolation. Far to the North, it is spoken of an ancient enemy arising from within the Great Desert; the Gnomes of Parath are said to know more, but keep such secrets to themselves. From the South, too, it is rumoured of strange things emerging from the icy wastes of Lost Volsanger, of great battles between the tribes of the Bearsark and some unspeakable force emerging from beyond the Maw.
 
And what of the most curious tales of all? The ritualistic murders within the ancient city of Rostog, the cowled figures said to be conducting strange rites in the ruins of Skatha Ammos, the secret councils of Elves and Druids held under the darkness of the new moon among the stones of Ket Altor?
 
If the whispers on the wind are to be believed, something is coming.
 
All about, the world becomes a more dangerous place.
 

For I have Beheld the Face of the King
And pledge myself thus to Victorious Night
- The Fragment of Storms