The Last Record of Enganosh Deepingdarrow, High Lord of Branangor, Dwarfhome.
The continent of Garulia has long been in strife. Foul beasts have always been in their holes. Corrupt Lords created chaos and corrupted their lands to achieve their ends, even at the sacrifice of those who would be their kinsmen. Would be heroes sought their fortunes and hoped to carve their names into history. Champions fought for the Gods, and clerics strove to bring their Message to others.
Most of this remains true, today. Black hearts and black creatures can still be found. There are still those who seek to strive for the Light. There are still those who oppose them, and fight for nothing but their own desires. But those who seek to hold the light in the darkness are finding it hard to keep their grip, and those who call to the Gods have heard only silence for many years.
In 1222 B.L., the Gods fell. It is not my place to say why, but some one, or some thing, wanted it to happen. There was a plan and there was a path. When the Gods fell, the time of the Great Shroud is said to have begun. The Gods walked the same earth as you and I, and their followers found them and banded with them. Wars were waged amongst ancient foes. Celestial pacts and dealings were done and undone. Mortal races, Folk, were toyed with and used as pawns in games far beyond their comprehension. There was much death and suffering to be had by all in the scripts of the Gods.
The Folk of the earthhome of Garulia began to wane in their affections, and the Gods began to lose their hold on the faith that they held onto. I cannot give you a day, but in the year of 1224 B.L., at a time when the ties of faith were at their weakest in eons, the mortal races lost their caretakers, their prayers, and their hope. So came to pass the Vanishing, when all of the earthbound celestials we knew as our Gods simply vanished. Some told tales; Maybe they screamed in agony and burst into light. Maybe they passed into Shadow and Twilight, or maybe they simply faded away. By any measure, the Vanishing removed hope for many, and even those who had long ago given up their prayers to their earthbound Patrons must have felt the emptiness when they left.
Over the next decades, life continued, and for a time many of the Folk began recovering their lives. Some kept up the faith, to some derision, and others made their lives absent of Gods of any kind. Tyrants rose through powers Arcane and Martial, and were challenged by heroes of the same. Natural powers of the earth were harnessed by the primal champions, and it was said by those who revered nature that the gods were just reclaimed by the earth which made theml; A story I have no wish to debate.
Creatures and creations that served the old powers in Garulia began to seek their own ends, and some of the mightier creations formed their own twisted societies. The more malevolent civilizations, if they can be called such, were battled fiercely by those who would see the earth cleansed. Wizardly powers grew and struck, mighty warriors waged war and, while not peaceful, there was a sense of balance by lorekeepers who were recording these events.
While the continent was coming to a new equilibrium of the powers that remained, something manifested and seeded itself into our home. Whether it was some ancient evil returning triumphant to a weakened Shadahl, some Arcane practitioners overstepping their bounds, or something else entirely, a shadow now grew. You heard it in whispers first, and then in the screams of those you knew, and those you called family. Ancient creatures from the abyss, demons and the black plague they live with, had sprung freely into our home. Black holes, doorways if you need, opened in many locations bringing the evil seeds to our corruptable lands.
Folk were generally overwhelmed. Small towns near these Pits were taken quickly, and we will not speak of what happened to their residents. Heroes and champions did what they do best; they tried to fight back and push the Shadow to their holes. Over time, some of the more powerful heroes banded together and tried to end this nightmare. They were not successful. The Curse of Shadow, as we have come to call this plague, was well planned.
Today, large masses of Garulia are a daily reminder of the Abyss and the creatures that plague us. Some strong cities, and strong peoples, continue to wage this seeminly endless battle. Villages and towns exist, I’m told, trying to stay under the curiosity of the aberrations that terrorize us. Folk have banded together in some parts, creating resistance companies, bands … to what end I do not know.
It has gotten worse every decade, every year, since it began. There is no end in sight. Our Gods have gone, perhaps seeing this coming and wanting to punish us for our failings. Our home, Branangor, now has its very own Pit, to which we are losing our people. They have killed all of my sons. I have lost hope and I have failed my people. With no Gods, I know not where my soul will go, but I will look to find the Great Forge.
To the reader, may you meet your end quickly and with little pain. That is the best I can wish for you now.
Races of Garulia – Lessons in history through narratives and verse.
excerpt from We Make Our Own Light!, A History of the People as told by Rivenduum Flameson, a dwarf scholar of great reknown.
For the sake of simplicity, let’s divide the humans into five regions and let the rest sort themselves out where they will. We will not delve too deeply here, for truly, treatises could be written on this short lived and selfish race. I will not attack their race outright, but my own jaded life will no doubt color my writing, for which, I am apologetic not at all. If you don’t like it, don’t read it!
The human race of Garulia, or Nenkars as we People call them, is just as dynamic as you’d expect considering their short lives. Humans have settled in every nook and cranny of the continent major and, over the eons, have had both ambitious, valorous, and loathsome kings and queens grace us with their presence.
The Nenkars of the East have been the longest lived, and most prosperous, with two major lands to call their own, Janthis and Kolramus, the island kingdom. Both of these lands are Monarchies, though I believe the Janthians have called themselves an Empire in the past insanities of one of their own rulers.
Janthians are generally predisposed to war, and rash action, having required time in their military for all sons and daughters who reach a certain age. This has definitely protected their lands over the years, but also brought some crazed monarchs to their throne, a few of which the People have had to deal with with a swift kick to their small skulls. Their specialized military force, known as the Hammer’s Sons, is rumored to have been initially founded when they had some training by one of our kind.
Kolrik people are a scholarly, and cunning bunch. One of the largest libraries in the world is rumored to be found within the walls of the king’s palace. They too have their military, of course, but they also train war wizards, sorcerers, and many other professions. If you are a learned soul, there are worse places you could find yourself. They import many good from the Moorfolk, and often outright pay in coin, jewels and gems, from what I’m told. Kolramus must be an island of riches, indeed.
I’m glad I mentioned the Moorfolk; I might as well get them out of the way. In the northeast areas of Garulia are many scattered villages, cities, towns … whatever the Nenkar call their clusters where they gather to live in relative peace and safety through numbers. The Moorfolk seem very reasonable to me. As a region, they call this the Gentlemoors. The Moors, as they are more commonly known, have many exports from their nature rich lands, mostly of the plant or vegatable variety. Their moist and wet lands are also teeming with life of all kinds. From what I hear, this includes some of the nastier things that live in the swamps of the Overworld, but if they stay, how bad can it be?
To the west lies Sandia, and the capital of Dume. Sandia has much plainland, and even some desert within its borders. Thus the Sandians are a rugged and enduring people, generally fit for combat and able to survive some of the harsh climates of the land. Dume is a rich and powerful city which once boasted three Lords who strove to overtake and rule much of the Overworld. From the records I have been able to find, and stories I’ve heard, they almost succeeded. Around the time of the Great Shroud, at least one of them vanished, one lost his God’s might and all of his influence, and the other had been killed for his evil deeds already. Sandians are no people to be trifled with, and they’re lucky we live no where near to them.
Last of the Nenkar major cultures are the Draguljen. These are mountain folk who live in the southwest mountain ranges near the Drake’s Claw. The lands they hail from are infested with the natural wild life of the area, and their settlements are few and far between. I cannot name you a city, but there’s a village called Dragussen, or maybe a town, where they once had a mighty Chief. We see little of the Draguljen and their fair hair and broad stature around here, but know that if you chance to meet one, they might be able to drink you under your tables.
as told by Byagle the Bold, Half-Even Bard of Barrendown, in his last lecture to other N’ali.
Descended from two of the world shaping races of Garulia, we, half-elves, are open-minded, good natured by our Grace, and multi-talented as a precious stone is multi-faceted. You all can look at me, or look in a mirror and know that the best features of each of your parents appear as your visage.
From our elven side, our A’ali heritage, we are blessed with Grace, fitness and a fine brain, advantages far more than most ever see. Some of you hail from the sylvan heritage and have instincts that make you masters of the forests, and beasts therein. May the Evernear bless you all and guide your paths through the dark shadows under the Great Tree. Others out there hearing my voice know my face is one gifted by the goddess Xymentha, and her people, the Sen’ali. We are the strong willed, and insightful Ffolk, blessed with the ability to see the problems afflicting this world, and solve them. Truly, we are blessed.
But, let us not forget our varied human heritage. My honeyed wheat hair of my head, and especially that of my face, attests that I honor this heritage. My brown eyes are like those of my mother’s. My strong body isn’t as lithe as one of the Ffolk, but the stout nature of my being has helped me in battle, and to that I can thank my mother’s ancestors. Some of my countrymen see my raised ears and think me aloof, or beneath their notice. To them I’d say, “Pay not attention to my fine face, but to my fine actions, and to these fine words!”
N’ali is what the Ffolk call us. Not-Ffolk as a loose translation. To them, I say we are only being seen by eyes not blessed with the gift of two lives. For that is what we have my friends, and by nature, my kin. We are those blessed of two lives, and two worlds, and we must be what we were meant to be, such that we can make either hearth desire to bring us home!
as told by Mensans, Half-Orc Barbarian Druid in a personal journal.
I am strong, and I have always been strong. My orcish mother raised me on the fringes of the clan, and she made sure I was strong. Though I heard tales of many Bruk being cast out, or killed, even as children, no one made real attempt to harm me. Many harsh words were spoken, always, and there were always battles and blood, but my mother was the Shaman of the tribe. She did not want me and did not choose to have me, that I know. But she would not destroy a spirit before it had formed to being; it was forbidden. Because she couldn’t kill me, she raised me strong, so I could leave quickly.
I used my mind and spirit to find peace with the earth, and though I learned to rage as an orc only knows how to rage, I am also a beast, at one with nature and a servant to the Evernear spirits of the world. Maybe it was my human father that gave me this mind, this ability to reason and desire to .. know. If so, I must be sure to thank him when I pierce his heart with my spear.
Looking as a human looks, at least enough to pass at night, has its advantages when hunting someone.
as relayed to Shaundus Friarson, priest of Jantyr by Revular, male deva of Jantyr
Note from Shaundus: the calmness and stillness of these words as they were spoken will forever linger with me.
I am immortal. I knew this not for much of my current birth, but as I aged and my … colors became clearer, I at least knew I was very different from my parents. I had visions and dreams when I was, as you humans say, a teenager, and many of those have been brought more into light as time as grown longer. I do still have these and there are still pieces of my meaning absent from my knowledge. This distresses me, so I push on. I will always push on until my purpose is clear, and then I will fulfill it, and return home, to my father’s side.
Yes, I had parents. They were of very good faith to the Right Hand. The mother in particular believed I was a gift directly from Him. As it turned out, she was right. They raised me and yet also let me raise myself. Perhaps they were instructed to, but either way, I was able to grow into my being once again, and they didn’t try to stop it. When I came of age and told my parents I had to leave, my father gave me his staff, and robes, and my mother gave me food, kissed me and said goodbye. I have not seen them in my travels. I know with certainty that, if they are no longer in this presence, they are standing by the Right Hand of Jantyr and approve of my time.
I hope to one day complete was I am tasked with and to reveal myself to my many parents, and have them all love me as a son once again. When my task is done, by the will of the Right Hand.
word-of-mouth passed dwarven Battletongue, recorded for posterity by a witness at an ancient battleground.
Do you hear me? Are you ready to die?
Response: Who are we? What are we? What have we ever done to deserve a valorous death?
I hear some Nenkar say that, or perhaps some Faerie, and my beard falls off! We are the stones under your feet, good sirs! We are the reason you can climb so high, or even dream of your heights, madam! We build the first roads under your sun, and the first roads far from where your sun ever reaches! We are the First of Stone, we are the children of the forge, and we are Branekar!
Response: What are Branekar?
By all of the children before me, I will tell ye ‘what’s a Branekar?’ Ages ago, we slaved to the titans and giants of the Overworld. We helped them craft their pillars, their Great Halls, their majestic weapons. We even had access to the World Forge then, at the beginning, and we helped shape what would become this world when those oversized orcs stopped caring! I think we did a damned good job, didn’t we?
Response: general cheers
The best One of us came in this time. The one we named ourselves after when we came to find our home, and the one who lead us into the Great War! Branek the Foereaver!
Response: loud cheers continue
Branek the Brave! Branek the Invulnerable! Branek Gianthammer!
Response: loud cheers continue, weapons slam on shield and feet stomp
Branek birthed our people to this way of life. He started us on our path, and we are all his children. We walk his road, we call to Him for strength, and we forge his steel. He and all of the Gianthammer Champions we have marked over the ages!
They are all here, now, with you, and you! They are in your steel! They await your words to fill with power! They surround our enemies to hamper their moves, and hinder their aim! They, as we, are Branekar!
Sing with me now my kin! Sing to the Eld-fathers. Sing to your Lost Mothers. Sing to the Brothers and Sisters Forgotten! They hear us! They are with us! And they will not let us fail them! Sing with me! Sing and …. CHARGE!
carved into the bark of a lore tree in Lir’Ennen, and translated here.
We Ver’ali are the protectors of the natural order. We are the guardians, the healers and the advisors to all those who revere our world. In your blood, you share the life of this tree, and of all creatures of this wood. We are one. They give us what we need, and we give them what they need.
Since the Day of Separate Ways, we have made a home among the trees, rivers and sands of this world, each of the Hearths guarding their own lands. We are all quicksilver: filled with passion, free to run, quick to laugh, and quick to anger. Our anger flows into the lands we guard, and as one, we battle our enemies. The Qua’la guide us and are drawn into us with every breath.
The quick strike before we fade back into the trees is our trademark. Whether with bow, sword, spear or dagger, we are the deadly thorns of this world. We are the sun and wind, bringing swift change and warm light into the dark. We live for each other, and for the prosperity of this world. Take heart from your home, and know that as it strengthens you, you strengthen it tenfold.
excerpt from a letter by Tirfolan Nevannor, Eladrin Archmage of Kas’Alir, to the Lady Beaus of Kolramus, Magemistress.
I am Sen’ali, Lady. This means that my heritage comes from the weave of things arcane, and magical. All we have ever built and created is infused with this might and power, even our sky-reaching citadels. Do not doubt that if we were threatened, the citadel itself would present such resistance, the attackers would lose their will before one Sen’ali lost so much as a hair.
As to your reference to our haughty nature, my people have learned and taught more than any of your people will ever know. Our Bladedancers draw patterns of steel so intricate, your warriors would watch in awe as their entrails spilled out below them! The Arcanists of Kas’Alir can perform deeds not seen elsewhere in your world or the Twilight! Our Faithful, whether to the goddess Xymentha or to one of the less traditional Faiths, readily accepted in Kas’Alir as a new source of knowledge, are of such strong will that our ranks could not fall.
Your threats against us, and me in particular, are so idle, I almost ignored them. But I wanted to make the repercussions clear, such that history could not blame the Sen’ali of Kas’Alir when your island kingdom is slaughtered in retribution for your failed assault. Know this, and mark it well – if I see you again, that will be your last vision.
from an Argument for Assistance, open letter to the Silver Order from Tirfolan Nevannor, Eladrin Elder of the First House of Kas’Alir
My friends, the time has come to right the wrongs we have seen in our ancient home. The violent Vokuz have broken the treaties we helped to broker over the last centuries, and are once again slaughtering the Gendling.
Let me remind you, the Gendling are our allies. They are of our lineage. It is only their small stature and unfamiliar appearance that has made them ‘lesser’ to some. I assure you, they are quite capable, and my own First Apprentice, as you all know, is Gendling Greymad. He has openly been called ‘Vreek’ in my presence, I assume owing to his solid black eyes. This is shameful.
The prejudice of this council must cease. We are above such things, or should be. The Gendling are our ancient kin, and have many skills by instinct and environment which aid their stealth, their misdirection and their worthiness of recognition. Greymad is not the first to be among us. Even our own lore scrolls talk of Gendling champions, both of blade and of arcane power, coming to the aid of our Ffolk when needed. How can you now deny them the aid they seek against the mighty, and the oppressive?
Is it because we have an unbroken treaty with the Vokuz? Is it because you are afraid, or too complacent in your Houses? Does the plight of another ‘lesser’ race bore you compared to your studies and practices?
We are the Twilight. As it goes, so do we. Let us not waste any more time watching ourselves fall to corruption, and apathy. Join my House and come to the aid of our friends. I promise, none of you shall regret that decision.
as told by Rivenduum Flameson, an elder dwarf scholar
Kordak are what we call them. Goliaths are what some others have said. They are very large, roughly twice the size of any of the People of the Mountain. They are strong, courageous, and hearty. They have patterns on their skin, very different between them, and they blend well into the mountain face and rock halls that they live in. I have yet to meet and talk to one in person to find that I dislike how it thinks. This is, indeed, a rare occurence for me.
We met them during a battle with an orc tribe in the valley below Horn Peak. At first, we saw them observing the battle. For days on end, at least one of their people was watching the strategy, the battles, the bloodshed. Some of the soldiers joked about it, called to them, but they paid them no mind.
After watching what had become a pitched battle for a ten-day, three of them came to us. They came with no weapons, and asked to speak to the captain. After a short parlay, one of them left, at a very quick pace using his huge legs, more than my height in length and almost as wide. This one, Vreg as I later learned, returned with five more, as well as a pack of their preferred weaponry, which seemed primitive, but effective mixes of axes and hammers made of rock and bone. They had offered their help, and had said they could end the battle for us. Our captain was doubtful they could do this but accepted out of curiousity I think.
That night, they took off into the mountain pass, knowing those rises and falls better than we, the people under the mountain, and with their large strides and jumps, crossed places that we would have built bridges to cross. The orcs always attacked at night and they still did not dissappoint. However brutal the battle was that night, it ended abruptly. The front lines of the orcs, always fodder and minimally skilled to begin with, retreated when they heard some guttural call or cry from deep in their ranks.
My Brothers around me started laughing, and cursing the cowards as we pushed on. After marching for a while, we overtook the orc encampment, which they were piling out of, and found that their chief, Bruzk, had his head caved in rather messily. Apparently, our new friends had made good on their promise, and we weren’t troubled by the Thorn Fist clan of Orcs again.
from ‘Black Beginnings,’ a memoir of Vadruusil Darkmane, tiefling warlord, and Commander of the Nine Companies.
I remember little of my father. I know that he was a soldier, and perhaps that’s what turned me to a life of battle. My mother though, was a gentle soul. She was human, and from what I remember was a comely sample. She always regarded me with some disdain, and from my appearance, it’s a miracle her human mind didn’t simply decide to toss me into a river or into the firepit that first year.
When I was older, and tried to talk to her about how I came to be what I am, she could barely speak on it. You see, tieflings can bare tieflings, and, other species can also bare them through ancient blood. Occasionally one will pop up in a noble’s family birth, and they’ll either keep it hushed, outcast it, or kill it. It can skip generations, and I’ve known people who have paid for services to have it ousted from their bloodline; not that those services work, but they do pay, and well.
My mother and father were a special case it seems. They had hoped for a blessing on their child, and went to a so-called holy man, and in a time that was said to have been abandoned by the higher powers. This holy soul took their money, and performed his ritual of blessing. During this rite, my mother shrieked in agony, began bleeding, and fainted, and my father chased the priest into the street, and beat him until he no longer took breath.
I was born shortly thereafter, premature, and deformed by the standard of my parents, if nothing else. Either the priest had made a devil-pact, cursed my parents somehow, or it was always meant to be this way. I prefer to think it was the latter. Thus was I born, with horns, eyes as whole and amber as dried honey, deep crimson skin, pronounced canine teeth, and, as I grew, a taste for violence and battle.
Now, this sounds melodramatic, reading it to myself, but I am no warmonger. Like many of my ilk, I am swayed by the look, smell and even feel of blood. We’re not man-eaters; I don’t even eat meat actually. But my nature is to conflict, to brawl, and to win. There are not many tieflings, and if there is a tiefling society, I know not where it lies. This is all very good … for you, the reader. You see, if there were a tiefling society, I’m sure we would have conquered and possibly even massacred you all by now.