Literal Campfire Story: The World that Was Myth in Westhammer | World Anvil

Literal Campfire Story: The World that Was

The pass was snowed in. No one was progressing any further till the weather improved which would likely take weeks. The makeshift camp grew as more and more travelers become bottle necked there. The children gradually found their way to Ayemer the elven Conjurer who was entertaining them with magical light shows. Eventually more adults gathered around, especially since Ayemer had magically augmented his fire to be extra warm. Even a few dwarfs and goblins came, though they sat as far away from each other as possible.   The kids eventually got tired of Ayemer’s limited array of tricks and got onery.   “A story! We want a story!” one child demanded.   “I’m not one much for tellin' stories” Ayemer said.   “Perhaps, I can be of assistance,” the man who spoke wore the traditional garb of a preacher and had the traditional hammer of Sigmar pendant around his neck.  

Reverend Jonas speaks

Ages ago the Old World was divided into several competing powers. Man fought Elf. Elf fought Dwarf. Elf fought Elf and Man fought Man. As if their own wars with each other were not enough, against all of these nations and tribes stood the four great Chaos gods: Tzeentch, the Changing One; Khorne, the harvester of Skulls; Nurgle, the Bringer of Pestilence; and Slaanesh, the Lord of Debauchery.   The Chaos gods sent their Daemons to plague the living on their unholiest days, but they relied on their living minions most of the time. They created beasts who walked like men in the wild and untamed places. They seduced the hearts of weak willed men and offered them magics and weapons to gain the illusion of power. They created the first Orcs and Goblins to plague mankind. These minions of Chaos nearly brought the feuding nations to their knees.   Pullirk, Goblin cowhand interrupts. “What! Chaos ain’t our Big Mamma! We created ourselves! We rose from the ground! The first Gobbos rose from spores in the ground. That’s why we’s green like the bushes but we tough as cacti as strong as trees. If our grandfathers got a bit ringy, the Empire of Boys should have protected their stuff better!”   The reverend continues as if the goblin never spoke.   Very slowly, the feuding nations began to fight less. They stopped fighting long enough to fortify themselves against Chaos. The greatest nation of all was the Empire of Man. While their weaponry was primitive compared to today, their engineers created the greatest weapons and tools of their time. Their magic was beyond the wildest dreams of today’s conjurers—No offense good elf, tis’ a fine fire you made. Their mighty rulers and generals rode on the backs of pegasi, griffons, and dragons. Their advisors had the magic to call up on mighty storms, turn living creatures into gold, and even command life and death itself.   Ayemer, adds his expertise. All My Eye! The Empire of Man learned all their magic from the elves and they done got most their technology from the Dwarves. When the human nations were between Hay and Grass, you needed us both to save your bacon again and again. You humies just bred like rabbits. Once you had numerical superiority over the elder races, you bilked our secrets and pretended you invented ev’rything.   LIke all great nations, the Empire of Man built on the creations of it's predecessors and perfected them.   The Empire of Man grew and absorbed more lands and peoples through marriages, trade alliances and military pacts. Many gratefully joined the Empire for their protection against the forces of Chaos. When nearly all men were under the banner of the Empire, the other civilized races turned to the world’s greatest Empire for succor and together the grand alliance formed the greatest alliance for Order the world had ever seen!   Liouis, Brettonian Farmer offers a different view. The “protection” offered was rarely protection against Chaos. Most of their "diplomacy" came at the point of a sword. They were bulldozers. The Empire of Man beefed everyone who didn’t bend the knee and hitch their wagons to the great Imperial horse’s ass.   The reverend wrinkled his nose and continued.   Once organized, the grand alliance led by the Empire of Man hemmed in the Chaos tainted savages to the North. They permanently occupied many of the wildest places taming them under ax and plow removing places for Chaos more bestial minions to hide.   To fight the Chaos without, one must fight the Chaos within. The Empire of Man’s inquisitors efficiently rooted out the Chaos worshippers amongst their ranks and those of their allies.   Muddor, Dwarf mining boss adds his two cents. For every Chaos worshipper they put to the torch, they put at a baker’s dozen worth of innocents in the ground. Necessary? Yes, by gum. But efficient? Hardly. Certainly, not worth boasting about. Oh and we Dwarfs didn’t need the Empire of Man to weed out the Chaos Dwarfs. We whipped our Chaos problem when the Empire of Man was a bunch of tenderfoots scrabbling in the mud.   The reverend sighed in resignation, knowing that the interuptions and interjections would be unceasing.   The Empire of Man was pressing forward against Chaos on all fronts. Chaos feeds on the hearts of sinful mortals and uses mortals as their hands in this world, so they feared they would be cut off from their power and sustenance. In a last desperate gambit, the foul Chaos gods called upon their remaining power to manifest physically in the world to lead their armies directly.   Eva, the medicine woman provides another view. Pah! Reverend,the Chaos gods didn’t show up in our world because they were losing. The big bugs of the Empire of Man were all corrupt on their own power. This sickness permeated the whole Empire like a festering scab. This was to be their endgame, but like the wicked men they fed off of, the Chaos gods' reach exceeded their grasp.   Indeed they did overreach. While they were able to unleash much death and destruction, by taking physical forms for themselves the four false gods made themselves vulnerable for the first time. The Chaos armies ravaged the world for many years, but eventually they were slain by the greatest heroes of the Empire. With their lords destroyed, their minions were rounded up and slain, saw the light, or simple disappeared.   Liouis interrupts. More jawing about how great the heroes of the Empire were. They couldn’t find their way out of a barn without help. The daemon gods were big nuts to crack, it took everyone fighting them.   Ayemer, adds Without the help of the elven wizards the greatest heroes of the Empire wouldn’t have survived long enough to even lay eyes on a Chaos god. Also Slaanesh fell by the hand of elven heroes.   Pullirk adds. Hate to argy, but the young’uns need to know the truth! T’was Grimgor that slew the Harvester of Skulls. Grimgor the greatest warrior ever lived. Grimgor harvested Khorne’s skull, he did rightly so!   Muddor interjects. As if one of your kind could make a god take the Big Jump. As it were, my kin destroyed the Plaguebringer.   The deaths of the great daemons are stories best told another evening…   Unfortunately the Old World was in ruins. Less than one man in ten survived. The great castles were ruined. The vast farms lay fallow. Those of royal blood were all slain. Gone was the Empire of Man for all time, but one powerful legacy remained to give light in the darkness. The Imperial Church of Sigmar!   Sensing bemusement from Eva and Muddor and hostility from Liouis, Pulrik and Ayemar, he changed the subject   But perhaps that is a story for another evening as well.   While the great Daemons were dead, they left an enduring legacy of darkness to try to rival the Church’s light. They left the four great Curses. It was long known that Khorne, Harvester of Skulls detested magic as a tool of the weak. After his death. Magic began to diminish in the world. Gone were the days when an entire army would fall under a single wizard’s spell.   Ayemer, adds Were it not for the Witching Time, I would say wizards came out ahead. Sure magic is less powerful now, but miscasts are a lot less powerful too.   A good segue to the Witching Time as any. Magic did not weaken overnight but over many generations. Most wizards were good and decent men, like Mister Ayemar here, but not all were. Some wizards were desperate to hold on to the source of their power and turned to maleficium. Some turned to blood magic or necromancy. Some sought artifacts left over from the Daemons. Some tried human sacrifice to strengthen their magic   A lot of magical creatures were slain by wizards as well. Many wizards sought to buttress their failing power with the blood, flesh, or bones of magical creatures. Gone were the majestic dragons and the noble unicorns. Also gone were some of the fouler creatures such as Chaos-addled Chimeras.   Ayemer, adds Y’all can’t blame the wizards for this one. First off, there are more living magical creatures around today than you think. Second off, wizards didn’t kill them all. Sometimes bloodlines just thinned and pegasi and unicorns gave birth to regular horses. Others got killed by nonmagical folk who were simple desperate for grub. There were famines and magical creature’s meat tastes as good as beef or chicken.   My apologies. Wizards were often unfairly blamed for ill fortune. Unfortunately a few decent wizards and their non-magical confederates were executed for witchcraft unjustly.   Liouis interrupts. More than a “a few.” I bet y’all can guess which Church did them witch burnings. Also a good excuse to go after the faithful to the Lady and anyone else who didn’t kiss Sigmar’s dead ass.   The Preacher stopped to glare at the Brettonian, then regained his composure.   Perhaps it is best we cover the other Curses. When the daemons walked the earth, far more men, women, and children died from sickness and famine caused by the daemon’s filth than from the claws and swords of the filthy daemons. Nurgle was responsible for most of it. When Nurgle died he released a horde of rats who walked like men to harry and infect the survivors.   Eva the medicine woman provides another view. Once again the good preacher leaves much out. These rats who walked like men were called Skaven, They were not created by Nurgle’s death. They existed for many generations prior. They bred. They took poisons into their bodies. The bred. They created new poisons to infect the good peoples of the world…and to infect the green folk too. They bred. The Skaven worshipped their own foul horned god, but they didn’t cotton to the fact their god didn’t truly exist. They were Nurgle’s unwitting puppets all along.   The Skaven were a yellow lot and didn’t want to war on the Empire of Man till they had powerful numbers. Generations of consuming poisons left them sterile as mules. They birthed litters of young’uns only by the grace of Nurgle. When Nurgle died they couldn’t breed no more. If they were going to all take dirt naps, they vowed to put the rest of us into the ground first. They thought iff’n they could do that their horned god would let them breed again. Fortunately, they failed or we wouldn’t be here talk’in ‘bout ‘em.   Pullirk interrupted. Rats is hard to kill! They ain’t all dead. They just cooled their heels a bit till the heats off. My cousin heard it from another gobbo who heard it from an orc who knew another gobbo who done saw a walkin’ breathin’ ratman!   Muddor shouts him down. Bite your tongue, you filthy green varmit! The Skaven are all dead and never comin’ back!   Excuse me, I thought I was telling the story! Slaanesh curse was levied on the elves…err perhaps Ayemer would rather tell this part.   Ayemer adds No, I want to hear the Breeders’ version of what happened to my people.   Very well. Elves came from a beautiful horseshoe shaped island called Ulthuan. Ulthuan held the greatest motherlode of magic in the Old World. But long ago there was a dispute over who would rule the Empire of Elves. The elves split in two groups with some living on Ulthuan and some moving up the lands north of here known as Naggaroth. Which group did you hail from, conjurer?   Ayemer smirks Both. Couch your words carefully, preacher.   Ah. Well the elves of Naggaroth tried to reclaim Ulthuan for themselves many times, but after Khorne’s curse weakened the magic in the world. Ulthuan began to sink. This sinking was slow, so the elves had many years to prepare for this. The Elves of Ulthuan turned the tables and they invaded Naggaroth. Elves were and still are more magical than humans, so they were hit harder by the loss of magic in the world. Naggaroth was ruled by a wizard king and sorceress queen mother. They couldn’t survive the weakening of their magic, and they died without leaving a clear successor so the Ulthuan Elves were able to surprise and overwhelm a leaderless enemy.   The two elf groups became one again though not without hardship and bloodshed. The sinking of Ulthuan was terrible, but it was not Slaanesh’s Curse. Before the death of Slaanesh, elves enjoyed very long lifespans, sometimes living over a thousand years. After Slaanesh’s Curse few elves get very far into their second century.   Pulrik quips I wouldn’t mind living to two hundred…   Eva disagrees Yes, it would be nice to live that long, but no, the elves’ reduction in life was not due to the Lord of Debauchery, at least not directly. During the Witching Times, when angry vile men could not find actual witches, so they turned against elves. There weren’t many elves near human lands, and they had the worst time of it.   Any elf they found outside Ulthuan or Naggaroth they murdered. At least they murdered the menfolk. The she-elves, they got worse. They done birthed half-elves. So few elves survived the Daemon Wars and the Witching Times that the elves of Naggaroth couldn’t afford to turn away the refugees from the Old World, even halfbloods. The half-bloods done bred back in with the proper elves and this brought human mortality to the elves. Slaanesh is only responsible as much he is for spurring on the rapacious appetites of men.   Liouis corrects her. There were a lot more elves in the Old World than you think. Many dwelled in the ancient forests. After Ulthuan and Naggaroth had their last war there were of these Wood Elves than all other Elves combined. The Wood Elves were in cahoots with the ancient spirits of the land, but by and by their forests were either cut down by the Empire of Man’s axes or burned down by the Armies of Chaos. What little was left was tenaciously held by the Wood Elves and their adopted kin, but Slaanesh banished the spirits of the forest away into slumber and they dragged their elf allies with them. This is the real Curse of Slaanesh, but the Wood Elves still live. They merged with the earth itself and interbred with the spirits. Even out west, you’ll notice the spirits have lithe features and prominent elf-style ears.   Hmmm, I never heard about Wood Elves before.   That just leaves the Curse of Tzeentch. Tzeentch did not curse the people directly but he cursed the land warping it. Some lands fell into the sea. Sturdy buildings collapsed. Fertile plains became deserts. Mountains rose and fell. Animals mutated and died.   Even though the human population was recovering, the Curse of Tzeentch changed the land so much, so that there were more natural barriers separating the old lands of the Empire. A number of smaller states formed.   Muddor disagrees. No, Reverend, this was not Tzeentch’s Curse. The changes you describe came when the Chaos Moon broke apart and fell from the sky. The falling warpstone tainted the land.     Tzeentch’s Curse was the creation of the Deadlands. Before the Chaos Curses, this continent was known as the “Southlands”. The Southlands was not as fertile or welcoming as either the Old World or the New World, but it was not the mass grave it is today.     There used ta be an ancient Dwarf hold there. There used ta be human nations and tribes here outside the reach of the Empire of Man. I heard tell of an Elf colony. They may have even had their own breed of Southlands Saurios. Tzeentch put them all in the ground and cursed the land so nothin' ever grow there again.   Pulrik corrects him Wrong beardy. Tzeentch was called the Lord of Change, so his big Curse changed things, see? Where do you think all the new monsters came from? Ain’t no more unicorns, but now we got new baddies like wendigo, floating heads, camasotz, chupacaberas and worst of all…the jackalopes!   Eva disagrees No, that was not Tzeentch’s curse either. The Deadlands became the Deadlands because that is where most of the pieces of the Chaos moon landed when they fell. The new monsters spawned not because of Tzeentch’s curse but again because of the falling pieces of the Chaos moon.     Tzeentch was also said to be the most cunning of his kin. Since he's only playin' possum, Tzeentch left no curse upon mortals with his dying breath. He is merely biding his time.   Some of the children shivered and not from the cold.   Muddor objects. Bite your tongue, woman! Tzeentch is dead and never comin' back!   It is getting late, perhaps it is time the children hit the hay.

Cover image: by Paul1748