A Deep History of Cathule

In the beginning: no-one knows for sure.

Wreckage exists of a first world, unimaginable in its scale and scope; places and names and concepts long forgotten. All that is left of it are ruins, ancient workings, and the Abyssals, creatures of its elder order. Recorded history runs deep with flaws as a result of this apocalyptic forerunner, ever present but opaque.
This is called the First Age, the Age of Darkness, or the First World.
The first recorded event of the First Age is the Daemonomachy, war eternal between the survivors of that first age, all against all.
The ruins and relics are sometimes sorted into  categories:
* Forgotten, ancient First Age structures seeming to predate even the Abyssals.
* Abysian, those relating to the Abyssal demons themselves, sophisticated magical ruins.
* Nemesian, those relating to the Abyssals after the coming of elves, gnomes and giants; fortress-temples, specifically designed for executing war against humans but built crudely, hurriedly, by lesser hands.

In Cathule, the first historians are the mortal races: the gnomes, to toil in the earth, the giants, to make war, and the elves, who claimed the right to rule all and stole the Wild Magic, and were doomed thereby.
The mortal rise to power is marked first by a war against the remnants of the First Age and then, during the relative peace this produced, their wars against each other, various disasters, and ultimate dissolution. The arc of these empires is called the Second Age, its beginning marked by the fall of the Nemesian Temple, its ending by the fall of Illyria.
Sometimes the second age is called the Age of Twelve Crowns, for the rulers of these races:
* The three elven crowns of the sister-empresses of forested Illyria, sea-girt Yaralay, and great Fymory
* The six chiefs of the Giants Ordning (Storm, Sea-cloud, Mountain-stone, Frost, Fire and Thorn)
* The three doomed seats of the the gnomish governors of desert Kytheros, swampy Labriluthal, and gloomy Carapath
* Later, the stolen crown of the Carpathian Dragon

The elves were self-assured, self-indulgent and sybaritic to their core. They embraced the Wild Magic, destroying Yaralay in the process, and enslaved the other races. Their nobility, which survives through the Fomori line, traces its lineage to a small set of common ancestors.
The giants were as they are: fractious, temperamental, violent. Their chieftans were those who could maintain an alliance long enough for recognition from their neighbors, but  forming loose alliances around a racial core from time to time, bue title changed hands frequently or, truth be told, was more stylistic than politically accurate.
The gnomes were crushed and crushed again: by the giants, by the elves themselves, by dragons, by deific ascension, by the mysterious departure of the Kytheroi. Their holds and halls are fallen now, with no halls dating back to the second age.
This was an age of growth and of exploration; of executing the war against the Abyssals to every edge of the map, and of arts and magic. Great legions of explorers were sent in each direction, few-to-none of which returned. Explorer-houses were founded and bred: adaptable stock of infinite potential. Humans, exiled from the empire to find what lay beyond and return.

The elves found, or were given, the wild magic. The three sisters drank deepest of the well of power, and all of their attendants and gentry following. Yaralay was overcome by the Everwinter and lost, but Illyria and Fymory were unscathed and multiplied in wonder.
The Giants were imbued by their elven masters with this power, too, and it warped them. Peace was shattered as the giants rebelled, out of the elves’ control. The physically stronger and quicker breeding giants were opposed by the sophistication and skill of the elves; a losing action for the slower-breeding side. The giants quickly refilled their losses with large litters of lesser giants: ettins, trolls, all touched by wild magic and eager to seize more. The elves of Illyria bred available stock into the vor, a giant- and fey- blooded warrior race, and armed and fielded armies of them against their foes.

Which was the downfall of the second age, and the dawn of the Age of the Vor, as they shared alignment with neither their elven masters nor their giantish foes.

The vor turned the tide of the war in favor of the elves, proving adaptable, numerous, and fierce. The giants who had pressed almost to the silver gates of Fymory now found themselves broken before their new foe. But the masters of the vor, the elves, had made a terrible error in their rampant use of the wild magic. A plague of madness began in Illyria, which swept through elf and, to a lesser degree, vor. Illyria fell, many of its cities vanishing, and the hardy, well organized and masterless vor swore they would not bend the knee again. The moon was created at the same time as the vanishing of Illyria.

The Age of the Vor was a bloody and a dark one. Only the elven kingdom of Fymory still stood; the Vor made war on themselves and on the giants, and on all of the other creatures of the earth. During this time, they also made war with the young kingdoms of men, creatures whose empire arose to note in this age from across the great desert, claiming descent from those legions of the twelve crowns who had crossed the desert to explore and war on the abyssals but never return. Called the Khuf for the desert through which their traders came, the difficulty of executing war against one another eventurally turned crusading vorish warbands to peaceful trade-routes, and the khuf-men settling in Kytheros, Lazhar, Lyrica and around Carapath, territories far-flung from vorish centers of power.

Until the revelation of Thrane, the end of the Age of Vor, the beginning of the Age of the Church.

The Age of Vor ended after the Thranish Uprising and the martyring of Ilmater the White Rose, in which slaves of the Khufic God-king threw off their bonds. The battles began in every corner of the empire simultaneously, almost overnight: creatures of numinous light appeared to servants, slaves, mamluks, beggars and laborers. They told the people what their birthright could be, and told them of the worlds beyond this one, and the rewards that awaited them in those worlds. They armed them with iron and bright steel. They trained them. They carried messages across impossible distances, brokered alliances, and provided supply lines.

The Vor and, separately, the elves found their councils split between aiding Khuf or Thrane or maintaining neutrality. Many vor found themselves driven by honor and trade agreements to oppose Thrane, or selling their service as mercenaries to the Thrann. Elves of Fymory found themselves consulting, crafting magic or selling support to human groups through varied ambassadors, despite stated neutrality.

The superior sorcery of Khuf was ultimately no match against Thrane. Its princes of the church established its center at Kytheros and declared themselves the hands of the celestials on earth. The center of Khuf quickly rallied around a cluster of Nemesian citadels which had proved impregnable during the Vorish Crusades, and allied themselves with the Iron City, a group of world-spanning beings opposed to the Celestials, declaring a shadow-war against Thrane.

The Thranish were not content to merely conquer the Khuf. After establishing a gentle growth of trade, peace and plenty, their princes turned jingoistic. Remembering a history of war, oppression, immorality and use of the wild magic, they declared war against the clan-chiefs of the vor and their supposed shadow-masters, the elves of Fymory.
They executed this war over great distances from their centers of power, with dwindling resources and morale. The death knell to Thrane was the battle at Fymory’s gates itself: duplicating the feats of he sisters, the queen of Fymory retreated with the core of the Fomor and their lands to a faerie realm on the far side of the moon, shattering the lands and dealing a dolorous blow to the church.

This, according to some, ended the Age of the Church and began the Modern Age: the farflung colonies of humanity maintain a trade relation but not a political unity; the nations of elves, vor, giants and gnomes are shattered and uneasy in the face of growing human concerns.

This is, broadly, the ecclesiastical history of the elves and of Thrane. It’s likely impossible, however, as Khufic history — albeit easily swayed for political ends — does not place the creation of the moon as late in history as do the Thranish. And the presence of humans on other worlds, not based on an elven-gnomish-giant breeding project or diaspora, also casts doubt on that origin.

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About lackhand

I was born in 1984 and am still playing games, programming computers, and living in New York City. View all posts by lackhand

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