What follows is an account of the events that occurred in the fourth year of the Ninth Kingdom. This history is woven together from eye-witness testimonies, rumors, and the songs of bards across all Known Wandrossa.
These are the events that occurred across multiple locations in Wandrossa.
The Grand Museum
Toshokan, God of Knowledge, Sages, and Writing, turned his might towards creating a new demi-plane–The Grand Museum. Joining Toshokan in this endeavor was Aubeley, God of Magic and Bards, and Urptah, the newly arrived God of Architecture. Additionally, Ptlah sent his three-eyed ape herald, Hugo to ensure Ptlah’s place in the Museum.
Toshokan declared, “It shall be a place of neutrality. All are welcome, regardless of race, creed, gender, etc.. However, conflict will not be permitted. Any violation of this rule will result in immediate eviction and a ban lasting a year and one day. A second offense will result in a permanent ban. Any subsequent attempts to enter the library will be met with termination.”
The Grand Museum included four wings:
- The Library for books both mundane and magical, some common other rare.
- The Amphitheater, a home for the performance arts.
- The Gallery for art.
- And The Warehouse for magic items of all sorts, common through legendary, and even the odd artifact or two.
Currently, there are two portals to The Grand Museum. The first was in Eltun which lead to a central hub at the Museum. The second was a secret portal hidden somewhere in the Museum that led to Orlyggthorp. Supposedly, only the gods that built the Museum knew its location.
The Mystery of Woestone
Rhodamon’s Chosen, Aradahmet the Bright–a powerful, adult silver dragon–traveled around Wandrossa seeking brave souls to travel to Woestone to unravel the mystery there. By years end, seventeen adventurers–dubbed Tomorrow’s Dead–traveled south to the unknown lands.
The Child of Yupni
Yupni’s wrath boiled. He wished nothing more than to unleash it against the evil that had awoken him. Even now he could feel it churning, the voices of anguish still echoing in his ears.
But for now, he bid his time. There were things that needed attending to.
The winds whipped soft and quick across the black leaf forest. A dark cloud swept over and past the trees. Within, Yupni cradled something tight to him. A small, rough stone, just larger than a man’s fist. It hummed and cooed with dormant life. He could feel his child stir softly in its sleep. He could sense its sweet, alien dreams. Gentle rain, distant thunder, clouds bent and molded into shapes and geometries unknown. Torrents and tempests raging with benevolent destruction. It dreamed of the taste of smoke, the smell of ozone, silkworms, obsidian spheres, puzzle- pieced skies, molten glass, loneliness. A living and breathing storm. It was beautiful in the most dangerous and horrifying way.
He knew the world was close to being broken. He had seen the line crossed that placed the planes on the teeters edge of cosmic war. It was a tenuous balance that existed now. Yupni could not sit idly by and watch it slip into darkness. Yet he could not afford to correct it himself. Not just yet. Yupni gritted his teeth. It was a dangerous thing, this creature. But Yupni swore to himself he would take care of it, and to protect this child from the terrors of the multiverse that would exploit its powers.
He would hide his child in a place no god, good or evil, would dare attack. A place of divine and natural significance. Kept secret from good within the life it grew, and concealed from evil by the very darkness it had created. The Spellbound Woods.
There, deep within that wondrous and wretched hollow, Yupni buried his child’s heart, that it may live its innocence in peace. In the coming days, strange machinations would begin to turn throughout the forest. Clear skies turned dark in an instant as lighting flashed and trees exploded with fire, ozone, and flaming rock, before returning to neutrality once again. There were whispers and giggles in the mist. Smoky figures seen and then unseen. Reports would come of lightning storms wreaking destruction in areas that could not be returned to, for they did not really exist except in the mind of a child. The wood would be feared now by those who knew of what happened inside. And those who walk in the Spellbound Woods know to never, ever, cut down a tree. For those who do are burned by lightning beyond recognition.
Somewhere within the trees, there is said to be placed where one can find the heart, and that the one who holds it holds life and power of the godchild. Yet let it be known to mortal and god, those who search for the Child of Yupni may find more than they bargained for.
These are the events that occurred in Alligator Loch.
The Eudard Encampment
After Heaminster’s destruction, Urasil felt uncomfortable about the majority of the Blackleaf Forest remaining unprotected. Turning to the new region of Alligator Loch, he built a settlement of druids called the Eudard Encampment. The druids there did not worship gods directly. However, they sought the guidance of the gods to assist in its creation. Lupus, God of Nature and Beasts agreed with Urasil’s anxieties and assisted in Eudard’s construction.
Bamboo Thicket in Alligator Loch
The chosen of the Jade Panda, Shi Huang, traveled from Orlygghtorp to the Maned Hawk Thicket. After weeks of combating the ferocious green hags and water-logged undead he discovered there, he finally found enough reprieve to plant bamboo seeds in the muddy pools. With an assist from his deity, Wicked Mane Thicket sunk into the earth and returned as tall bamboo. The road to Toheath could once again be traveled safely.
The Quest for the Eye
Leading the way, Naith and her Merry Men left behind Agnuvilana and the others at the Altar of Tragedy so search for the rumored Efreeti Eye. She was aided by a band of thugs she met along the road to the east. They bore magical fruit discovered in the forests north of Bygrove, offerings of Hedera. Byldanos offered simple passage through Eltun, however, the group chose to head south along the road to Orlyggthorp instead.
Naith’s band first searched the ruins at the base of Ghostwood Creek in the forests between the Desolation of Heaminster and Orlyggthorp but only found orcs and wayward goblins there. They then headed east along The Chege March towards Alligator Loch to search the eastern ruins.
By the fall, they were camped at the Ruins of Robury.
A Storm Over Toheath
Alira, chosen of the Storm Goddess Kymopoleia, left Port Mathis and traveled by a watery portal to the Alligator Loch. She made her home again in the ruins of Toheath, learning the dead town’s secrets with intent to discover who its citizens once were.
In her search, she discovered an old journal buried in the mud. The book told the tale of a Marid named Anthedastes who created the Loch. The journal’s last entry was 200 years before the start of the Ninth Kingdom. Many pages were left blank. What happened in Toheath?
Kymopoleia Turns Her Eye to Icwold
The tribal village of Icwold noticed the arrival of the water-walker Alira, first Chosen of Kymopoleia. While many Icwolders remember the last time the gods walked Wandrossa–and knew rumors of the westerner town of Heaminster and its disheartening destruction–offering fear and trepidation with the Storm Goddess and her avatar, there are those who welcomed the goddess, erecting a shrine in her honor.
Kymopoleia favored Icwold. Immediately, the waters turned clearer and the bounty of fish increased that year. Icwolder wisefolk claim that the water even had minor healing powers when drank.
The Disappearance at Liniorath
Aubeley’s Chosen, Orphentus traveled with a band of adventuring wizards and bards to the Tower of Liniorath early in the summer of the Fourth Year of the Ninth Kingdom.
The months rolled on and winter came. Orphentus and his band were not heard from.
One cold winter day, just before the close of the year, an Icwolder shepherd discovered the body of a young woman wearing a blood-stained white tunic bearing a golden lyre. She had seemingly lept (or was pushed) from the top of The Silver Rise.
In her hand, she clutched a curved platinum key with strange markings.
Uncomfortable Bedfellows in Hastow
A trader appeared in Hastow in the early spring. He was friendly and traded in smoked fish and tasty fruits. He also came bearing ominous reports of godly destruction in the east. The trader spoke of Piermo, suggesting that it is better to make a deal with a merciful god than to stand against them all. Of course, Ambrosia had already made a similar deal with the Hastow folk, blessing the surrounding forests with sweet flowers and plenty of game.
Shortly after the trader left, an exodus of goblins arrived in Hastow. Considering the trader’s warnings, the simple folk of Hastow hardly welcomed the Goblins. Many of the Bear, recognizing the markings of Yikas (the “Troublemaker” they sneered), urged Ambrosia, Goddess of Love, to grant aid. She complied and the Bear worked with the Ambrosian followers to build a new temple in exchange for her assistance.
Already pushed out of the Drakecrags by the Iron Lord, Molkov, this did not make Yikas nor his goblins happy. And goblins aren’t known for their patience.
A battle ensued, both sides taking heavy casualties the first day. Inevitably, the presence of Ambrosia’ Chosen Lyra pushed the goblins out. Because of the conflict, Ambrosia’s temple remained mostly unfinished by the end of the year and the Yikas goblins took to the southern forests to establish a camp where they built makeshift shrines and totems dedicated to Yikas.
The Bear urged Lyra to take up a leadership role among the outlanders.
There are some, though, who saw providence in the trader’s offers of Piermo. A small shrine–hidden from the view of the Ambrosians and the Bear–was erected in the root cellar of the village fest hall.
These are the events that occurred in the Drakecrag Region.
Camp Wabuhr Becomes Loin’s Rest
Wabuhrians welcomed Charlemagne and his followers into their encampment. Immediately, the Fire God claimed the settlement his own.
“This will be a place where we can live–a place for the free to live–a place for the rogue to protect the poor and weak. Using our skills of trickery and mastery of fire we will build something that is free and wild. Now let’s get to make something interesting.”
Immediately, the powerful trickster god turned his spoils from the Bygrovian fog to create weapons and arms for Wabuhr turning the crude camp into a wayward fortress and home for criminals and charlatans. Naith, on her mission to find the Efreeti’s Eye, stopped by to oversee some of its production–and mostly pick the pockets of the more naive Wahbuhrians.
The Merchant Kings were not pleased with this turn of events nor were the Sorcerers of Tamor. As a linchpin along the Sleeping Road, Camp Wabuhr was the only road connecting Wicked Maple Grove to the Drakecrag Region.
“To the Burning Place with Charlemagne scum,” declared Boss Glass of Tamor in a letter to King Bridger Gylley.
One summer morning, those who call the bowels of the Altar of Tragedy home were surprised to discover a basket at the base of the great Stair leading to the High Temple. Within the basket were the severed heads of the eleven Agnulivanan cultists who had traveled to the Ruined Tower of Gothmog of Udum to seek the council of Mage Arlew Reeves.
The heads were animated, too, intentionally sent as a cruel joke to the god of death.
They spoke only one word, “Leave!” repeating the phrase over and over.
After being chased away from Tamor by Indronyx’s Chosen, the Mad Solar Temlakos hid at Licanna’s Rough to lick his wounds. There, he was approached by the Grave God, Rhodamon appearing as a humanoid wrapped in a cloak of infinite starry night surmounted by a crown of pure, luminous diamond.
The two spoke, quietly, for some time, Temlakos sharing his secrets with the Death God. From there, Temlakos left with Rhodamon to the Between Place as a Celestial Servant.
When word of this reached the citizens of the Drakecrags, celebrations sprung up. The vampire lords of Tamor deemed the day a holiday, naming it Reascension Day, held in honor of Rhodamon. A new tradition sprung up immediately: a chosen of the town would dress as the mad angel and go door to door seeking offerings to place at the shrine of Rhodamon. Then, a feast would be held in the Grave God’s honor. Gorkilites and Waburhians adopted the tradition as well.
The Circle of the Moon Turns to Lupus
The Wanderer traveled the Drakecrag region seeking Lupus’ new followers, particularly those with the potential to become druids. Sensing a kindred moon soul within the Greater Nature deity, many of these druids took to the Circle of the Moon, honoring the god of beasts with their transformations.
Lead by two archdruids, one for beasts and one for plants, the druids, the druids took to the Spellbound Woods. Their circle surrounded the woods’ great tree, the Tree of Binding.
Then the murders started. First an elven maiden. Then a great awakened tree named Ironfir. Goliath assisted the druids in their search for the murderer in the forest.
Upon hearing there would be a new grove of druids, Davy O’Sullivan, Chosen of Coram Krulak, set off with a group of paladins to offer assistance and protection to Goliath, establishing a permanent barracks at the southeastern edge of the forest.
Others soon joined. Inky, recovering from his defeat at Heaminster, and Aliyah having returned from Wicked Maple Grove, joined in.
By autumn, there were two more murders in the Grove. However, the murderer was soon discovered to be a worshiper of Hedera who–against her gods’ wishes–believed that the forest should take vengeance for the wrath wrought by Indronyx in the previous year.
The adventurers trapped the druid in a dense grove. Hedera appeared, angered by her false worshipper’s actions. Cursing her, Hedera fed the druid her poisoned fruit, permanently turning the woman into a thick blanket of moss covering an acre of forest floor.
Lost travelers who stumbled upon this moss named it “the moaning moss.” They said it weeps, interminably begging forgiveness from Hedera.
. . .
The Spellbound Wood, free of controversy, grew from the magic of Lupus. It captured the western fringes, enveloping more of the Blackleaf into its influence. Lupus welcomed the spirits, plants, and beasts into the evergrowing wood. He then returned to his place at the Tree of Binding.
The Orphan’s Grove
Seeing Lupus’s attempts to spread the influence of the Spellbound Woods, Kash appeared near the edge of the expanding wood and said to no one in particular. “This is going to be. So. Much. Fun.” Before driving the long rough-hewn into the dirt at his feet.
A pulse of fey magic rushed through surrounding the wood subtlety altering everything in it touched. To the denizens of the forest and those welcomed by them, little seemed to have been changed beyond the increased presence of small fey creatures seen flitting among the branches.
The stick itself grew rapidly into a great tree, rivaling any nearby. Its thick sprawling branches spread wide, as the rest of the surrounding forest shifted and made way for a clearing. Seven other trees, more modest in size, but all sharing the wide-branched shape of the central tree, sprout in an uneven circle near the edge of the clearing.
The roots of these trees burrowed deep into an underground spring, bringing up water to begin forming a pond on the surface.
Planks, ropes, blankets and other materials were conjured to form large, haphazard-looking structures, along with bridges, climbing ropes, and slides connecting them all in an elaborate network in the branches of the eight trees in the clearing and on the ground below.
Protective magics came into effect, shrouding the Grove from unwanted attention. Illusions and paths that magically doubled back on themselves to deter outsiders, and the more dangerous creatures of the wood itself.
“Yeah! Now I just have to get all of my friends here! But first, I need to find a new stick. And maybe draw a mustache on the big stone wolf I saw earlier. Yes! That sounds fun!” Triumphant, Kash wandered away from the newly formed Orphan’s Grove to do just that.
. . .
A voice rang in her ear, waking her from her long slumber. A familiar voice. HIS voice. “Psst, Mama Bear. Wake up, it’s time to play.” She stirred and looked around.
He wasn’t there of course, probably off chasing some new adventure. He never could sit still. But he was back, and that was good. She knew instinctively what he wanted, and she could smell on the wind the place he had made for them. The last bunch will be gone now, taken by time if nothing else.
Mama Bear remembered each of her surrogate cubs, and allowed herself a moment to miss them before setting out. She knew the type to look for. Troublemakers, street urchins, the disowned and unwanted. The kind of children to pull her ears and get food in her fur. Her mighty tail crashed into the ground at the thought of it, and a smile kept onto her ursine lips. Kash would accept them all as his friends, but it was Mama Bear who would love them.
One heavy footfall after another, Mama Bear embarked upon her quest to bring the lost and forgotten children of the Drakecrags to Orphan’s Grove.
High atop the Drakecrags, Yumia built a palace of Ice, permanently wrapping the high peak in treacherous winds and permanent frost. Here she rested, preparing to create defenders for her new sanctuary.
That year came the coldest winter Known Wandrossa had experienced in centuries.
A Strange New Dish in Gorkil
Despite all the chaos of the Purge, a goblin chef named Luga invented a new dish made of long noodles and thick, tomato paste. Luga called it Sketta! (he insists it must always be screamed when served).
Sadly, the recipe was believed to have been lost in the Purge of Gorkil.
Grixelbrand swam across the lagoon of the Bog of Hingwell and entered Hidab. He intended to recruit more followers, having already wheedled some away from the oft-distracted Agnulivana.
Already unsettled by the death of an elder shaman, many of Hidab’s lizardfolk cursed the God of Monstrosities for his audacious arrival. Still, some followed Grixelbrand back to his temple in the swamp, believing his extremist ways were more effective against the hardships of the Drakecrags.
The rest of that year, Qrauzs turned his might to Hidab, improving its technology and arcane studies. The Academy of Arcane Insights rose at the The Great Pyramid of the Glowing Scale, shining like a beacon over the Hingwell swamps. Drawn by the light, more scaled and amphibious creatures came to Hidab including frogmen, turtlefolk, and even a couple of rare xiphonans.
The Tyranny of the Iron Lord and the Purge of Gorkil
Molkov’s priests’ words shattered the dull light cast by the Eternal Eclipse.
“Until you are pure, you cannot obtain my blessing,” yelled the priests of Molkov to the inhabitants of Gorkil. “Drive the unclean from your midst. Purge their taint and obtain my blessing!”
An arrow crossed the priest’s throat.
“Yeh, we ain’t doin’ that, mate,” spoke Oir stepping out of the shadows. The Goblins of Gorkil cheered and drew their swords.
Thus began the Purge of Gorkil. Molkov, the Tyrant, placed his Chosen, The Black General at the head of his Armies. Oir stood as the opposing commander.
In the first days, nearly one hundred goblins were slain with hardly any casualties on Molkov’s side. Those attempting to retreat were caught by the Chosen of Qruasz, Traxl, and his battalion of elite lizardfolk from Hidab. The combined might of Molkov and Qruasz easily crushed the goblin hordes into submission.
For Qruasz’s assistance, Molkov gifted the lizardfolk Oir, captured in combat by The Black General. Whispers in Wabuhr say the high priests at The Great Pyramid of the Glowing Scale tortured Oir every day since the Purge.
Various gods of different alignments pooled their resources together to help the goblins survive the Purge, offering asylum in neighboring Tamor and distant Orlyggthorp. Interestingly, the Jade Panda’s Chosen One, Xióngmāo Lóng thwarted Indronyx’s Chosen, The Stygian and its attempts to usher the goblins To Tamor. The Stygian, distracted by its conflict with the Panda Dragon, had little time to react before Agnulivana joined the fray, tossing her full power into creating a magical wall surrounding Gorkil. Dozens of goblins died from misplaced teleports and the Stygian was captured as well, bound by Agnulivana and Molkov. News of this victory over Indronyx spread like fire throughout Known Wandrossa.
Following the Purge, Molkov established Gorkil as a ‘racially pure’ settlement, allowing only humans, elves, halflings, and gnomes to live and work there. Realizing the decrease in morale following the events, Molkov’s chosen brought art and culture from across Known Wandrossa to Gorkil. They built farms and cleared forests. From Molkov’s innovations, Gorkil grew nearly to the same size as Tamor.
Dawn Denstro’s Humiliation
Tamor stayed quiet through most of the year. That winter, however, Indronyx demonstrated his might once more.
Dawn Denstro, daughter of Indronyx, called all of Tamor’s citizens and vampire slave lords to the center of town.
“Citizens of Tamor,” spoke Indronyx’s progeny. “I am sure you know who and what I am. What I am about to say comes not from me but from Indronyx himself! For far too long Tamor has been at war with itself, for far too long our soldiers have served the needs of others! For far too long our vampiric brothers here, and ALL around Wandrossa have been living in fear of the God of Lights’ return.”
The pale Tamorians listened in silence.
“For if he returns, our people will be forced to live underground or perish. Under my new monarchy, we will have the protection of the dark good himself! We will prosper under his shadow! Those who do not wish to have the protection of the God’s and their chosen may leave now. For those that wish to stay, you will live here and continue to fight for your right to live on the surface! To prosper under a NEW banner free from corruption and outside influences. Then I offer my power, guidance, and protection as we form our own independent Nation! The Blackleaf Confederation can no longer control us!”
No applause came. Denstro looked back incredulously. There was a murmur in the crowd. Then it was broken with a jeer. And another.
“Go back to your dark hole, Nemesis!” booed a human woman.
The entire crowd joined in, shooing Denstro and her entourage away from the town square. The people kept their distance, of course, knowing better to touch, let alone harm, the daughter of Indronyx.
Denstro’s humiliation was clear.
. . .
“Think there’ll be repercussions from the Dark One?” asked one of Boss Glass’s bodyguards, watching Denstro leave.
The old elemental rubbed his stony jaw and leaned back in his chair. Others around the tavern watching the events in town square applauded the minor victory over the God of Darkness.
“Drinks all around!” cried the bartender, welcoming the day’s heroes into the tavern.
The new tavern built by the followers of Ashtai was one of the few additions Boss Glass liked.
“Eh, who gives a damn,” said Glass finally, shrugging. He motioned to one of the barmaids to bring him another cup of mud. He then snapped his fingers to one of the human boys standing by the wall.
“Boy. Git word to Vale. Tell ’em this exactly: it’s time for tea. Thems exact words. Ya got me, boy?” said Glass, rubbing his rocky hand through the boys’ hair.
The boy nodded–loose pebbles falling from his hair as he did–and ran off just as the barmaid returned with a flagon full of thick mud. Glass sipped and turned back to the window, staring at the Eternal Eclipse peering above the blue Tamor rooves.
“Done dealt with gods before,” he said, picking at the half of his face covered in glass shards, burn scars from a battle long forgotten.
“Won’t no trouble then. Won’t be no trouble now, neither.”
Wicked Maple Grove
These are the notable occurrences in Wicked Maple Grove.
Academy of the Arts
The newly founded Academy of Arts found itself at the heart of a scandal when a young, elven bard named Ilariel wrote a song called “The Return of Enombath.” The high sages believe she was inspired to sing the song by Aubeley himself.
Wherever her inspiration came from, the song sounded nothing like a tune about the old, fallen God. Instead, those who heard or read the lyrics perceived a poorly constructed limerick mocking the Confederate Governors and Merchant Kings alike with childish puns, scathing insults, and using “The Tomb of Enombath” as a tasteless euphemism for the dead God’s nether regions. Disgusted, Ilariel was banned from the Academy.
“But it’s not what I wrote!” she cried.
Distraught, the young woman traveled back to Bygrove along the northern road.
Tears rolled down Ilariel’s face. Her career was ruined and she didn’t understand why.
Then, an enchanting light appeared before her, beckoning her toward a nearby copse of trees. She followed the fairy light absentmindedly, as most do, deep into the thicket, never realizing the change as she passed through the greenway from the copse to where Kash was waiting far away in the Spellbound woods.
“Hello, friend!” the Trickster God said, breaking Illariel out of her stupor. The young woman looked around at the unfamiliar landscape confused and frightened.
“What do you think of this stick?” asked Kash.
“Stick?” The man asked.
“Yeah, it’s a cool stick, right? Like a wizard staff!” the god clarified.
She said nothing.
“Ka- oh,” Illariel realized who was before her, and thus the situation she was in. She fell to her knees, stammering.
“Y’know what sounds fun?” Kash asked, suddenly appearing eye-to-eye, not more than a foot away from the kneeling woman.
“Sing me a song!”
“Yes! Sing me The Tomb of Enombath. The real one.”
So she did.
When the performance was done, Kash smiled gleefully and vanished, leaving the bard to whatever fate awaited a mortal that deep in the Spellbound Wood.
Madness in Bygrove
When the Piermese Legions first entered Bygrove they were welcomed with cheers from the good folk. Even Governor Elmure Orthrolis saw them as a welcome addition, offering favorable lodgings for the soldiers. The early riots were squelched and crime dropped.
But then the madness came.
There are those that believe it was the water. Those who drank it would hallucinate and become delirious. Many acted out in violence.
Others thought it came from the market, an illness brought by the Merchant Kings’ nomads and their tainted coins.
The Madness of Bygrove was difficult to contend with, certainly but that was hardly the worst of it. Piermese soldiers woke one morning to discover a third of their numbers slaughtered in their sleep. None knew how it had happened as there was no trace of a break-in during the night. Discouraged, many of the remaining soldiers fled, returning to their foreign homes.
“What of your oaths?” begged the Piermese commanders.
“Oaths be damned!” they spat, riding off.
Fires raged nightly. Shops closed, the proprietors fearful of the chaos spreading through the streets. Droves of Bygrovians left the town, most heading east towards Eltun or south towards Orlyggthorp–those who could afford to pass through the Trickster’s Fog.
The last straw came when gang wars erupted among the criminal organizations of Bygrove. Dozens more died in the crossfire. The remaining Bygrovians blamed Governor Orthrolis for the destruction wrought on Bygrove.
With his closest Piermese guards as his side, Orthrolis locked himself in Draffin Keep.
Eltun, Jewel of the Grove
As Bygrove fell into ruin, Eltun prospered. Bygrovians, Gorkilites, and Heaminsterians arrived in Eltun to continue its construction. In addition to the natural expansion brought by its immigrants, the Forge God Byldanos’ influence turned Eltun into a technology hub of all Known Wandrossa. He was further aided by Urptah, the newly arrived god of Architecture.
“Eltun shall be a shining beacon to Wandrossa. This city shall be an example that others shall follow for years to come.”
Urptah worked alongside Byldanos’ Chosen One, Prometheus in establishing a complex plumbing and sewage system. The pair set up a system of temporary reservoirs to hold bath and wash wastewater to be used for the flushing of privies, ensuring maximally efficient use of water. Urptah constructed a wastewater treatment facility to filter the final wastewater using increasingly small gradients of filtration materials (such as rocks, sand, charcoal, etc.) to ensure the water is potable before being allowed back into circulation. Urphtah also helped Prometheus expand the lighting in Eltun from residential-only to include every road and walkway.
“There shall be no dark corners in Eltun, those who work in the dark will have to look elsewhere for places to scamper and scheme in.”
Pleased by the work of his companion deities, Dimitrios announced the first Festival of the Hunt, marking the ocassion with the creation of a new cougar species called dusk prowlers. The Beast King returned from his mission in the Drakecrags to supervise the proceedings and aid in Eltun’s renaissance.
The Azirathnian Oasis
After many discussions, pleadings, apologizing, collaborations and promises with the treefolk; Azirath realized the error in his ways. He could not simply raze forests to build new life but determined that he must find the delicate balance on the line of death and life. While working with the older gods he planned to bring new flora and fauna.
South of Eltun, Azirath dried out an area among the trees and began the formation of an oasis. Azirath’s Chosen, Santiago gathered nomads from outside Known Wandrossa, spreading the word of new life in the paradise created by his lord. To protect and thrive in this new world, Azirath started work on a new race of intelligent creatures, Fennexi.
The Temple of Coram
Coram Krulak’s followers continued to build the new town of Port Mathis. They raised a three-story temple on the north side of the Fighting Pit, overlooking its contests. Its outer four walls and roof were built from metal some say Coram brought from the Other World himself.
The first room of the temple was a tavern, used only for special occasions. Next to it were workshops and forges; the songs of hammer on steel–sweet industry–echoing through its halls night and day. At the top of the temple was a space for the God of the Forge, Coram himself.
The Attempted Resurrection of the Toshokan
Altara, First Chosen of Saern, a creature made of pure ink entered the forests surrounding Heaminster. The thing searched for the bodies of the Toshokan, many of which were destroyed in the desolation, and naturally, the medusan woman, Meadra.
Altara only found one corpse; the shredded remains of a sage south of the site of desolation.
Surrounded by Saern’s black-robed priests, Altara began to pour itself into the skeletal remains of the sage. It sought the Toshokan’s secrets, knowing its ink form would bring the dead sage back. Bathed in blue flame, the skeletal creature rose briefly, then collapsed, the fire gone.
Altara stood there for a moment, confused. Why did the process fail? Altara then realized that it was not alone in the wood.
“A direct intervention from a deity in MY realm?! Impudent! You call yourself a sage? Do you not know who truly rules the Between Place? Why should I let this one go from my realms?”
The priests stepped backward, fearful for the wrath of such a mighty god. Then, a second deity made its presence known: Toshokan, the very patron of the sage they sought to revive.
“Those sages served me faithfully to the end,” warned Toshokan. “They have earned their rest and I’ll be damned before I let you take that from them. Do not mess with those under my care, leech. And, just to be clear, if you ever make a move on them again, I will slaughter every one of your followers, down to every last man, woman, and child.”
Altara bowed its head and fell back, leaving the grisly corpse where it lie.
A Light in the Dark
One cool, summer night, the sleeping sun lit the two Coward Moons, their dim glow bouncing off the Drakecrags peaks. On a tall western mountain, a drake, snorting at the moons far above, drank from the water of a natural spring. A pair of thick, red-scaled talons landed next to the drake. Yauthom shook his wings and changed into his humanoid form.
“There’s an irony that this should start in Darkness,” thought the God of Life and Revival, as he gazed east from the mountain upon which his new temple arose.
Thanks to Yaunthom’s magic, the temple remained hidden in the Drakecrags. He looked back and there was his Chosen, Quateluz, and one thousand of his people. Each one a Phoenixkin, each a warrior clad in half-plate armor and armed with a wicked spear. Their spearheads shaped like a dancing flame. Yaunthom knew that if the dark gods found this location, they would all be slaughtered.
The night before had been an epiphany and Yaunthom now knew his role. Fight on the side of Good. Oversee the powers of Rebirth, of the Phoenixkin, and Protect those that follow the Light. His goal remained: Reignite Enbathom’s Light.
To that end, he turned and faced his people. With a raised hand, each mounted a Yaunthom Drake. Quateluz shook itself, prepared. With a downward slash, a thousand Drakes and their warrior riders took flight for Heaminster. For a Rebirth.
In the predawn, the Flight began to land, encircling the remains of Heaminster. Each Warrior faced outward, ready for the resistance that was sure to come.
A magic light burned around the forest, protective measures put in place by Yaumthom before the arrival of this host.
Yaunthom walked slowly to the town center. From his robes, he drew a large crystalline egg, shaped like a Phoenix egg. Quateluz stood at his side.
As dawn began to break the horizon, Yaunthom began to intone the names of the Gods of Good.
“Aubeley, Avelynn, Byldanos, Coram, Jade Panda, Rhodamon, Yupni!” he called to the rising sun as it woke with its imprisoned moon; the Eclipse.
“A year ago, many of you stood here defending those that lived here, whose sole crime was that Darkness sought to thwart one who had knowledge of Enombath. And I stood and did nothing. Your brave acts laid heavy on me, and in the year since I changed. I have chosen to embrace the Good as you have.” Still silence.
“And so I call on you today to see this, my first act, the Rebirth of Heaminster. Though I cannot bring back the people who have passed, who have been judged by Rhodamon and passed on, I can at least do this thing.”
The egg began to glow with the Dawn light, sending a rainbow of dancing lights across the remains of the town. Yaunthom shattered the egg, and the pieces hit the ground. As they dissolved into the earth, the ashes of the town begin to swirl; buildings, livestock, all that was Heaminster started to reform.
Yaunthom began to cry. He knew he was too late for its people. Rhodamon forbade all from bringing them back.
Of course, this show of aggression would not go unanswered. Quateluz trumpeted out a call, encircled with dancing flames, and the drake-mounted warriors’ armor and weapons began to glow as bright as flames, fat with Yaumthom’s enchantments. Drakes, flames erupting from their mouths in anticipation of battle, bristle for an enemy. Yaunthom gazed around him.
“Heaminster shall live again!” Yaunthom cried. “Enombath shall live again! Indronyx be damned!”
There were no cheers from his warriors. They stood and waited, knowing full and well what they had encouraged.
A minute passed. No reply. No Indronyx. No gods of Good, either.
Yauthom’s phoenixkin warriors stood vigilant, waiting. Finally, a voice came from the wood.
“Yaunthom, I understand you want to do right in the world, but this is not the way to do it.”
Avelynn, the Mother of Wall, walked into the clearing. A veil covered her face.
She touched her hand to Yaunthom’s feathered cheek. “It’s too early for another war. I haven’t even had the time to mourn those I have already lost. I, unfortunately, cannot let you destroy this memorial location, at least not before I am done with my mourning.”
She dispelled Yaunthom’s enchantment, allowing Heaminster to crumble back to ashes. Yaunthom shifted his weight to one boot.
“My children lost their lives here, these ruins are all that remain of them. How you can gaze around without notice a mother in mourning is beyond me,” she sighed. “But I must have my time with my children. I can see you want to help but this is not the way to do so. Enombath’s revival would not come without blood, that of my children and that of the gods.”
Yaumthom began to protest, “Enombath–”
Avelynn took his hands and smiled gently.
“You seem to have me mistaken; I only wish for the protection of my children, I do not care for Enombath’s resurrection. I acted to prevent a needless slaughter. Incurring Indronyx’s wrath so soon after I lost the children of Heaminster would be too much for me. I am sorry but I have to make this point to protect my children. Please, just leave Heaminster and let me mourn my loss–”
A chill wind swept over the desolation, cutting the Life Goddess’ pleading short. The Imprisoned Moon stepped closer to Wandrossa, further eclipsing the Lost Sun, snuffing its corona.
One of Yaumthom’s warriors saw his torch flicker. The flames turned to purple, then blue, then black. Fearful, the warrior dropped it and stepped away. The black flame spat and twitched, expanding with a groan. The air sliced open, and a door to darkness tore into view. From it emerged the gargantuan beast known as Venombath, the anti-phoenix, Chosen of Indronyx.
“As much as I would love to cremate your people alive,” the dark phoenix spoke, its voice like obsidian on bone, “Lady Dawn has requested I ‘give you to the count of three‘ to lay down your arms, surrender yourself to Indronyx, and your army will be spared. What say you?”
Before Yaunthom could respond, Venombath raised a single digit. “One!”
Avelynn looked in Yaunthom’s eye. She saw it before Venombath did.
The rage of the Phoenix.
“Don’t,” she pleaded. But it was too late. Yaunthom led the charge against the beast of darkness. First, the drakes leaped into action, breathing their hot flame on the Chosen One. Venombath swatted the creatures from the air, tearing some in two with is claws. Others it bit in mid-flight, spitting their half-chewed corpses out into the nearby river.
Yaumthom’s warriors pressed their spears into the creature’s calves and feet, some reaching its gut. “Two!” growled Indronyx’s servant as he fell to his knees. The warriors drew their swords and hacked at the monster.
“We cannot allow Evil to rule in the stead of Enombath’s Light!” yelled Yaunthom, approaching Venombath as his men held the creature down. Avelynn stayed behind, watching, frowning. Remembering the battle of Heaminster a year prior, she dare not interfere.
“We must stand. Now, or an eternity, what matters that to a God?” he called back to her. “Excepting that if we don’t take a stand then your children will suffer in a world of darkness.”
Yaunthom took one of his warriors’ spears and faced Indronyx’s prized minion.
“I do not think you understand,” said Avelynn. “You must weigh the outcomes. Not only does this act prevent my mourning but also threatens more of my children as it is a direct call to war of Indronyx.”
Venombath had already stopped struggling. He matched his eyes with Yaunthom’s. Avelynn continued.
“You fail to realize that my children include all of life, even the races that must hide in the darkness. I beg you once more. Leave me to mourn, and leave the ruins of Heaminster untouched. All your actions will do will bring the death of more of my children. I know you want to help but I say again this is not the way to do it.”
For a moment, Yaunthom considered Avelynn’s words. He then turned his attention back to Venombath.
“No,” he said firmly, raising the spear.
“Three,” hissed Venombath. At that moment, Yaunthom’s warriors released Venombath, twitching and screaming, clawing at their own faces. Darkness enveloped their bodies and their shrieks were cut short as tendrils of darkness invaded their noses and throats.
Venombath grew. At first, he was as tall as a three-story building. Then he stood above the trees. When he finally stopped, he was as tall as the tower of Gothmog. The shape of his head eclipsed the Eternal Eclipse, the three in sync.
“Let this be a message for any who would think to defy me, the Dark Devourer!” came the voice of Indronyx through his Chosen.
“I offered you peace Yaunthom! Now, the people you have adopted will pay the price. I will not take their lives. No. That would be far too easy. You, your people, and all the mortals of Wandrossa must learn what happens when you defy gods!”
Fire erupted from the creature-that-was-Venombath’s mouth, washing over Yaunthom’s warriors like a necrotic flood. Avelynn and Yaunthom watched in horror. When the dark flames finally died, the phoenixkin stepped away from the flame, twisted into new lifeforms: voidbränd.
Reborn in darkness, Yaunthom’s warriors turned to him, now answering only to the call of Indronyx.
Avelynn, having seen horrors in Heaminster twice, pulled the aghast Yaunthom away from the sight of his corrupted followers.
“We must leave.”
Venombath stood silent over the Blackleaf. The voidbränd kept their place, staring back at their former liege through lifeless eyes bathed in dark fire. Were they silently cursing Yaumthom for their condition?
Yaunthom said nothing more.
. . .
Months passed. The first flakes of winter dropped from the red-lit sky, gifts of Yumia.
The Mournful Knight and a retinue of priests and adventurers hiked the length of the Wicked toward the mountain.
“Dark things,” said the Knight’s one-eyed medusan guide motioning to the dead trees. The old guide spat and chewed on a reed. “I’ll go no further, m’lord.” The Mournful Knight nodded, signaling his men to press on.
Snow crunched under the warrior’s boots as the sky emptied its frosty contents over the Centaur Wood. At a chill waterfall, the Knight’s adventurers made camp.
“There!” shouted a priest of Rhodamon. The Mournful Knight set his dinner aside and stood, hand on his hilt. Between the trees stood a creature that looked like a charred corpse. Black flames rose from its head giving the illusion of hair. It had no mouth, so would not speak, but its blank, lifeless eyes stared back at the Grave God’s disciple.
The Knight cast his glance around the wood. There were others. All silent. All watching.
“They were once phoenix-kin,” said the priest. The Knight nodded, knowing full and well their ruined condition.
“Are they dead, then?” asked one of the Knight’s archers.
“Nay,” said the priest, placing his vestments on. “Much worse.”
We Three Kings
“Their influence grows,” Bridger Gylley said overlooking Orlyggthorp. Where once there were maybe one or two shrines in town, there were now over a dozen all dedicated to some new god staking its claim at The Great Crossroads. Most days it made her nauseated. That morning, it just made her angry.
Kate Wardslav chuckled from the couch, exhaling thick hookah smoke into the air around her head. “So?”
“So?” Bridger turned to her business partner thumbing the edge of a tacky, ornate sword.
The sword was gifted to the trio months ago by envoys from Port Mathis.
“We hope you welcome us and the industrial might of Coram Krulak into your town,” said the overanxious envoys. They gave the trio the sword and ale along with interminable promises of prosperity on the Great Crossroads should they allow Coram’s machinations there. Naturally, the Kings were all smiles and thank-yous and of-courses and whatever-you-needs in the envoy’s presence. Once gone, though, Bridger wretched and turned to her fellow Kings with a look of “thanks, but no thanks.” The other two women echoed her sentiments.
“Celestials only create problems, King Kate,” Bridger said, swinging the gaudy sword around.
“Heaminster,” said Gytha from the back of the room. The old goblin woman blew sawdust off the figurine she was whitling.
Bridger nodded. “Heaminster, Tamor, and now look at Wabuhr.” She scoffed, “Loin’s End! What a joke. How much have we lost in income thanks to that fire brat’s presence there?”
Kate stretched on the couch, rubbing her eyes. “You worry too much, King Bridger.”
“And you don’t worry enough!” Bridger snapped back, spiking the floor with the sword. It rocked in place for a moment while Kate rolled her eyes.
Bridger turned her attention back to the window. Across the street, she could see the new orphanage created by the followers of Avelynn. The armored woman, Hildegaard stood outside of it, issuing orders to the towns guard all wearing the new sigils of the Council of Three. Only established a month prior, already the Sphinx and his new government were consuming Orlyggthorp.
Capable players of the Great Game, Bridger, Gytha, and Kate accepted the rules set forth by the Sphinx’s representatives without audible protest. Gytha agreed to join the Sphinx’s Council of Three representing the interests of the Merchant Kings.
“I had a dream last night,” Kate said, tapping the flopping sword with the edge of her toe. “That eyeball god wants to cut a deal, too.”
Bridger growled, “Me, too.” Gytha nodded in agreement.
“Quite an offer he had. Endless knowledge,” she whistled. “That sounds better than beer and a sword.”
“I like beer,” Gytha said, setting the finished figure on the table next to her. She grabbed another piece of kindling and started shaving its bark away.
Bridger snorted. “We already have as much knowledge as we need.” She rubbed the scar over her throat and fidgeted, turning her attention now to the new observatory on the hill. Followers of Ptlah–the eyeball god–had erected the structure around the same time the orphanage was built.
“Oh, but divine knowledge. We could be gods,” said Kate.
“We’d be slaves,” said Bridger.
“You’re always so negative, King Bridger.”
“And you’re hopelessly daft, King Kate.”
“I think,” said Gytha, never taking her eyes away from her whitling, “That these gods think that they are in control.”
Kate and Bridger turned to Gytha.
“I think that they think divine power is all they need to throw their weight around. That a few magic tricks and a few soldiers are enough to scare us.”
The old goblin dug the tip of her whitling knife into the top of the carving.
“Confederacy, sorcerers, Crimson Council, the Bear. Even the Black Crusaders. Always the same story, isn’t it?”
The other two gave no reply.
“Those that came before weren’t a problem. Why should these be?”
Finally, Gytha looked up from her work and smiled.
“We just have to do what we always do, fellow Kings. Wait.”
Bridger smirked, “And let them do all the work.”
Kate sat up. “And clean up the mess afterward.”
Gytha clucked her tongue. The old goblin woman then turned her attention back to her woodwork, humming some forgotten tune from her childhood.
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