The kingdom of Mertha is the sole desert of El-Rah, a bleak, desolate expanse of shifting sands and unyielding heat. However, it was not always so.
Mertha was once a vast expanse of tropical jungles, abundant in natural beauty and resources. The people of this land were entirely self-sufficient, needing nothing from the other kingdoms, and eventually being able to sell their own goods, which were in high demand. Exotic fruits, spices and meats were exported from Mertha, as well as rich deposits of precious metals and minerals, mainly gold.
As they grew more rich and powerful, the people of Mertha became arrogant and spoiled. They cleared large swathes of land to build opulent and extravagant cities, towering monuments to their prosperity. They stopped worshipping and respecting the gods, as they believed they had risen to power not by the grace of any god, but by their own intellect and ambition. The gods were indifferent at first. The people of Mertha had stopped worshipping them, but they were not actively seeking to disrespect them, so it was of little consequence.
The final straw came when the Merthian king at the time, Kyllion Makusha decided that they were superior to the gods, and demanded that the other kingdoms, as well as all the gods, pay homage to them, as well as deliver regular tributes and tithes to their superior nation. Upon hearing this, the gods were outraged. They descended upon Mertha with a vengeance.
They stripped the land of everything that had once made it a paradise. Macchia took all the fertility and nutrients from the earth, ensuring nothing would ever grow there again. Bajeed caused the sun to shine down with a merciless heat, drying up all the water that had once flowed freely. Athoms sent a wave of null energy sweeping across the land, wiping out the essence of all living things aside from the Merthians themselves. In an instant, every plant and animal in Mertha lay lifeless. Mosath then brought about a great decay, as everything slowly rotted away until there was naught but ash and dust left. Fathkah aged all of their buildings to crumbling ruin, destroying years of architecture in an instant. The lush, vibrant rainforest was no more. In its place there now lay an endless landscape of scoured sand. Finally, the gods lay a curse on the entire people. They were doomed to never leave the desert, to stay forever in the wasteland that was once their home. The wrath of the gods was complete.
The Merthians struggled for the first time in their history. In the next few months, they died in thousands, unable to cope after living in opulence for so long. Yet eventually, some found ways to live off the desert. With their remaining jewels and trinkets, they were able to purchase plants and livestock from the other nations which would survive the desert climate, as well as what little they were able to claim from the desert outskirts. However, even after they had managed to stabilise, there was a divide amongst the Merthians.
Many of them had been humbled by their harrowing experience, believing that what they were experiencing now was a just punishment for their arrogance and hubris. However, some Merthians, mainly of noble descent, were angered by the gods’ actions, and sought to find a way to have their revenge. After much arguing and the threat of a civil war, it was decided that the two groups would live separately.
The first group came to be known as the “Muak’Lau” (Moo-ack-lau), “The Silent”. They knew they had done wrong, and that they deserved their fate. They dedicated themselves to humble, peaceful living, in hopes of one day earning their freedom from the curse they had been burdened with. Over many years, the gods eventually came to see that these people were genuine in their sorrow and repentance, and carried no ill will towards the gods. The gods offered them a reprieve: If they agreed to worship the gods and provide priests and other individuals to carry out their will when required, their people would be allowed to leave the desert. They agreed, dedicating a significant portion of their lives to the service and worship of the gods.
The Muak’Lau eventually flourished, establishing several cities outside of the desert, while some remained in the desert, as it had become as much a home to them as the jungle they had once known. Many of the Muak’Lau now serve the gods, either in worship or deed. However, there are some, chosen at birth by a ritual, who are destined to become nomads, people who roam El-Rah, looking for a place to call home. In this way, the main kingdoms of the Muak’Lau remain connected to the rest of the world, as these nomads send information home about the state of the rest of the world.
Those who hated the gods came to be known as the “Kryul Akash”, (Cry-ool-ah-cash) “The Profane”. They wandered off into the desert, intent on finding any way possible to escape the gods’ curse. They studied for years, learning every spell, enchantment and invocation known. A cruel fate was theirs, knowing how to accomplish nigh on anything, except for the one thing they wanted most. They turned to alchemy, herbalism, even spiritualism, but in spite of their formidable grasp of the arcane, they simply couldn’t come up with a way past the desert barrier.
One day, a figure arrived at their town. It was cloaked in robes that seemed to be made from the very stuff of twilight, hiding its form and almost recoiling from the touch of the sun. He offered the Kryul Akash a deal. He would give them magic that was forbidden in the world at large, possibly allowing them to get through the Gods’ barrier. In return, they would agree to travel across El-Rah, undermining the gods and working towards the eventual return of the demons. The Kryul Akash agreed in a heartbeat, setting their fates in stone.
With forbidden magic at their fingertips, they were some of the most powerful spellcasters the world had ever seen. Working together, they could conjure Great Plains of hellish fire, rain down acid and even summon shades from the afterworld at a whim. However, their real breakthrough was discovering how to manipulate life, death, and the soul.
They learned to take the soul out of a willing participant and move it into another vessel. They all agreed to do this, convinced it was the only way to escape the gods’ curse. So each fashioned or found a body for themselves to be transferred to. Some took on the form of regular people. Others carved themselves golems of stone and metal. Others still assumed the form of horrible monstrosities, creatures from their wildest dreams that did not exist, and never should have. With their souls thus encased, they were finally able to escape the desert.
However, their triumph was short lived. In their new forms, that found their magic was much decreased, and they no longer had the strength to transfer their souls to other bodies. They were still beings of great power, and still had all the knowledge of that magic they once had, but their diminished souls no longer had the power to sustain such magic. Furthermore, their transference has left them all infertile, with no way to propagate. They were immortal in their new forms, yes, but they could never grow into the legion they had hoped for.
So now the Kryul Akash wander the world in their myriad forms, causing chaos and discord wherever they tread, and always, always searching for a way to recover their power, so that one day they might rival the gods themselves.
Once the Hyperion Portal had opened and the people of the Everglade and El-Rah began became acquainted with each other, a small town began to develop around the portal where the people of the Everglade would trade with the Mortals of El-Rah.
Within 50 years of the Portals appearance the town had turned into a large fortified city. Over the following fifty years it turned into a vast and beautiful haven. The city blossomed and grew, peoples from all across El-Rah gathered there to live, trade, and study. While it continued to grow its people ensured that the beauty of the land was not tarnished by the growth of the city especially around the portal itself. A forest still surrounds the portal and the land remained wild and beautiful, the city itself works with the land and ensures that the beauty of El-Rah is preserved not destroyed.
As of the year 300 the city had reached it’s full beauty, and each year on the anniversary of the appearance of the Hyperion Portal, a huge Festival would overrun the city with colourful lanterns dazzling displays of magic in a display of celebration for the Fae who brought people together and created a paradise and safe place for all in El-Rah.
While the city still has its issues with crime and the like, for the most part the city is well respectful of everyone in it.
Following the events of the Hundred Year War, an unsteady peace was met between the races of El-Rah. As time progressed, this peace began to stabilise as the vastly different peoples of the lands joined together in arranging all manner of agreements in trade, law and kinship.
Among the various alliances and clans formed, was a group known simply as the Order of Worship. This group, formed from people of all races and creeds, was unanimous in its desire to worship and praise the gods of El-Rah – Not only in their efforts to stop the Hundred Year War, but to create and shape the very land itself.
Within the Order of Worship exist sects devoted specifically to each god, major or minor, praising their aid in the creation of El-Rah, though it is not to any one specific god that devotees are inclined to celebrate. Members of the Order of Worship are advised that although certain gods did undertake individual roles in the creation of the land, the Order of Worship functions as a group of worship for all the gods of El-Rah as a whole.
“We thank Macchia for the growth of tree and seed
Athmos for the ground beneath our feet,
Bajeed for the bounty of harvest plenty
And Mosaths arrival with the Empty.
Father Fathkah, keep our time
to ensure that we may stay in-line”
A common prayer, issued before most meals by Devotees
The People of Grimgate had a large surprise in-store for them this cycle.
One day towards the end of the Plentiful a large tear opened in the realm and through it poured the minds, bodies and spirits of people, and monsters alike. El-Rah was forever changed on this day, what was once a realm free of monsters and corruption had its cosmic scales tipped into imbalance by the People and Creatures who arrived from a place called Fortunes Bay.
Bringing with them all manner of creatures and troubles the other-worldly travelers made their home in the town which they arrived attempting to make recompense for the damage they had caused by coming to this land. First a Rah-Kah made its presence known, a special breed that was changed on its way between realms a rah-kah part raven, part dragon. This creature was vengeful and powerful, it slowly began to wreak havoc on the village. Eventually through the Graces of Mosath he saw fit to bring a new champion into the world, he resurrected a fallen warrior from the other world as his sword on the plain of El-Rah. Auros Creed was able to help defeat the Rah-Kah with the the power bestowed on him by Mosath.
The troubles of Grimgate were still far from over, another soul from the other realm picked up a spiritual companion in their journey through the void between worlds. Bringing with them the Seven Sins which the gods had attempted to hold at bay since the worlds creation. One by one the Sins attacked and attempted to corrupt the people of Grimgate and by extension the world of El-Rah. They were unsuccessful thanks to the united efforts of the people.
But still more trouble lie afoot, an unseen force is gathering in Grimgate, the godly artifacts are being brought together, but who could be the puppet master pulling the strings?
For 50 years the Children of the Forest roamed the lands of El-Rah causing chaos as they destroyed the natural balance of the world. Finally in the year 300 Fathkah stepped in, offering the Children of the Forest a final warning. When it was met with ignorance and more violence, he once again summoned the Dragons of El-Rah to battle back the forces of chaos. Locking them back in their realm of eternal darkness and sealing the door with ancient magic written in the blood of El-Rahs fallen.
These “Demons” as the people of El-Rah had taken to calling them were locked away, forced out of El-Rah and back into the darkness for disrupting the balance. Any who were not locked away were slaughtered and once again the balance of the world began to fall back into alignment. With their task completed once more Fathkah returned the dragons to their posts until they were needed once again.
With the demons locked back in their Realm Fathkah then summoned, each of the gods to the gateway between the worlds to add their powers to the seal on the door, cloaking it from Mortal eyes.
During the battles between the Children of the Forest and the People of El-Rah, the “Demons” as people had taken to calling them were said to have captured and tortured many citizens of El-Rah. They were said to have dragged them back to the Wandering Woods where they would either die or be tortured beyond the limits of what their body could take.
If they did not die then they were said to lose their minds, becoming shells of what they once were. This allowed the Children of the Forest to change them into something else entirely.
A mark would be placed on the neck or chest of the victim binding their will to the Children of the Forest. This would allow them to control this person entirely, the only indication of this process was the mark placed upon their skin. They were known as Children of Sorrow, and they were sent back into El-Rah to act as spies among their own. The Children of the Forest were said to be able to whisper directly into the minds of the Children of Sorrow and extract all they had learned. While difficult to remove this spell from the child of sorrow, there were several reports on mages succeeding in restoring the persons own free will. However the person will still never recover fully,in many cases they would take their own life as they were unable to live with the tortures that they endured, only the most resilient of people were able to overcome the sorrows of their past and make a full recovery.
As the Plentiful of the year 0200 began the world of El-Rah experienced an Anomaly it had never seen before. A great ripple of magic erupted from the the centre of El-Rah betwixt the five petrified dragons. This magic was felt all across the realm and people come from all around to see what had caused it.
For several weeks at the centre of the world the citizens of El-Rah watch as magic transpired as lighting and shot outwards in wide arcs lighting up the sky with an array of colours It was on the First night of The Decay that something changed. The people of El-Rah had grown accustomed to the night sky being lit with sparks and flashes of colour but on this night something different transpired. The sky began to glow as a great many rays of light shot forth from the centre of the realm. The light pierced through the darkness in what seemed like an endless stream of colour and power. Until eventually it gave way and in its place an Armillary Sphere stood. At its centre a swirling vortex of magic.
Over the coming days people from all across El-Rah once again gathered to see this anomaly, and as they watched humanoid figures began to walk forth from the sphere as they exited its confines they transformed into people who the citizens of El-Rah first believe to be elves. They were soon corrected by who appeared to be the ruler of these people a young man who declared his race the Fae. They had heard tales of the prosperous land of El-Rah and had come to live amongst its people.
Many of the Fae came through this portal on that day, creating lives for themselves in a new land, however an unforeseen consequence arose in those who ventured into El-Rah for extended periods of time. They found that the portal between their realms would no longer recognise them as Fae. The realm of El-Rah had sought to balance the new magic that was brought to the land by the Fae and in doing so prevented free crossing between the realms to ensure that the magics of two lands did not combine and throw the multiverse into disarray.
While the Hyperion Portal to the Everglade would always stand at the centre of El-Rah, those who crossed were forced to stay for the remainder of their life. Many Fae still chose to come to the realm of El-Rah where new adventures awaited them. But many stayed behind unwilling to give up their ancestral home.
When the hundred year war showed no signs of stopping, Fathkah decided to intervene. He did not wish for the gods’ creation to be constantly torn apart with war. To this end, he created the Five Great Dragons to end the war. Each dragon was designed to deal with a certain race, forcing them to surrender and agree to peace.
The first of the Dragons was Salazaad, whose job it was to bring the race of man to heel. A relatively thin and elegant dragon of light green, she matched humankind’s cunning and adaptability, fighting a series of battles against them with differing tactics each time, so that by the time they had figured out how to fight her, she had already planned out how to counter their response. In addition to this, she had the ability to breath gouts of scalding steam from her mouth, blinding and damaging people as well as providing cover for her. In the end, it took only a few months for her to break mankind’s will to fight, as they knew that no matter what they thought of, Salazaad would have already planned for.
The dwarves were a stubborn and sturdy race, with advanced knowledge in the art of smithing and machinery. Any foe to face them had to be just as sturdy, and so it was that Fathkah created Gronduath to subdue them. In contrast to Salazaads nimble form, he was large and bulky, with thick armour plates and scales covering every inch of his black hide. He faced the dwarves head on, pondering forwards through a storm of fire from all manner of artillery. Ballista bolts ricocheted off of his massive form, and even boulders simply bounced off in effectively. Gronduath simply kept advancing, never faltering his steady progress as he marched towards their fortress. The remaining dwarves retreated to the inside of their mountain, sealing the gates against this unstoppable force. When he reached the barred entrance, Gronduath reared back and let loose a torrent of acidic breath which reduced the gate and the surrounding area to formless slag within seconds. The dwarves, not wanting their entire fortress and treasure trove to face the same fate, hastily surrendered, and Gronduath left the same way he came: surely and without stopping for anything.
Ithranuin was the third of the Dragons, made to face off against the elves. These beings seemingly had a natural affinity for magic and the arcane, and so it was that Ithranuin was gifted in this way as well. His brilliant dark blue body was comparatively thin compared to the other Dragons, for while he was certainly a capable fighter, his true strength lay elsewhere. When they met on the battlefield, the elves launched barrages of spells at him, only to find their magic going astray. Spells would wither miss their target, fizzle into nothingness, or worst of all, be directed back against their casters. Ithranuin whirled though this maelstrom of magic, unleashing terrific blasts of lightning from his maw which decimated the elves. Calling upon magic of his own, he summoned a raging tempest to sweep through the elves forces, destroying entire regiments in instants. Cowed by this unimaginable display of power, The elves dropped their knee to Ithranuin, their pride and spirit shattered.
Beast-Born are beings of duality. They are sentient beings yes, but at their core lurks their beast self, fuelled by primal instinct. To face these creatures, the dragon Dahlokmiir was created. A deep red creature of fury and ferocity, she was to prove herself the apex predator. The beast-born attacked her with a furious drive, swarming forward in a wave of claws and teeth. Dahlokmiir swept them aside like dry leaves in autumn, her great strength sending them flying. Yet still more came, some even daring to climb onto her and search for a weak point. In his rage, Dahlokmiir flew upwards, surveying the field full of enemies, before letting loose a veritable inferno from her jaws. The lucky beast-born were killed instantly, while the others died slowly, screaming in pain and fear as the fire slowly ate away at them. At witnessing this devestation, the hearts of the beast-born sank into their chests. They solemnly swore their agreement to peace. To this day, the trees in that field grow black, and the smell of charcoal permeates the area.
To force an Orc to surrender is a dubious thing. They relish in war, with many members of their race being both brutishly strong and highly aggressive. Fathkah realised this, and so to confront the orcs he sent Cruxiel, a dragon of white who was as silent as the winter wind. He would prey on orcs that were separated from others, picking off stragglers and patrols. Orcs thrive on conflict, but the stories of orcs disappearing with no trace except for some frost left on the ground unsettled them. When the dragon appeared to them finally, it was to them not a creature of flesh and blood, but a spectre of cold, silent death. They threw down their weapons and promised that they would try their best to maintain peace. Cruxiel stared impassively, before slinking back off the way she had come, the only sign of her passing being the chill wind and fear left in her wake.
The Dragons gathered at the central point of El-Rah, forming a circle facing outwards, as Fathkah petrified them, letting them stay on El-Rah as a reminder to keep the peace, and what would follow if they didn’t.