THE FIRST AGE:
The Birth of the Gods:
All men can agree, from out of the darkness came the first gods. No one knows for certain how exactly, but many cultures have their myths.
In Rhøsus they say the gods emerged from deep within the earth where it is dark and warm. Wise men of Āstai say they rose out of the cold abyss riding on the backs of leviathans, sharks and the like. One mountain tribe in the V’eti called the Ughal, say there is no such thing as fate, and there are no gods, only forces of nature. While the jungle tribes of Zaneos claim they ran out of the heart of the forest, to escape from the clutches of evil Sdravicciar, a blind thousand-armed beast that shall one day swallow up the earth, and all manner of light.
An ancient myth from the fallen empire Yaar-Œs says the gods are not gods at all, but powerful beings from another world. Through a portal, an evil being known as Xif escaped his prison to wreak havoc across the universe. A universe that is much larger than just the mortal realm. And before Uma, and her sisters Spæa, Ehrna, Nattora and her brother Edda could capture him, the doorway between worlds was destroyed, trapping them all.
Yet the prevailing theory in Kassus and Tandar maintains that the gods, who are Umtau, Separ, Enda, Tok-Navar, and Ehna’ Rial, descended from the place above the clouds where the sky is always night, on their ships which could sail across the sky, ushering in starlight and the dawn. But unfortunately, the evil god Xintau came in their wake.
The Toils of the Gods:
Whenever or however the gods came about, it is understood that they soon set about making a paradise. And over an unknown length of time, they did just that. They made everything. From mounts, forests and sounds, to fish, cattle and smells, the birds and the roots, the winds and the whales, the sun and the moon, to land, stars, seas and the æther.
And either before, during or after, Umtau and her siblings fought with the evil Xintau. Some say, the folly of the war is the reason that some creatures and features of the earth exist.
The details have been unclear in every interpretation of the story since the dawn of time, yet all men can agree that Xintau was defeated, but not destroyed. Because like light and dark, the concepts of good and evil are inextricable.
So the gods cast the evil god away to a remote corner of the world, and imprisoned him. By doing this, Xintau could do no harm; could do nothing but watch with the other gods, their machinations come to life, as they promoted peace and goodness. Although they felt wiser after their conflict with Xintau, they felt different. And they wondered, if they might one day fall prey to the disorder which overwhelmed their foe.
Separ, Enda, Tok-Navar and Ehna’ Rial gained dominion over all the oceans to the fringes of the earth. And Umtau shepherded and guided the beings that lived on land. While the vile Xintau looked on from the confines of his prison with hatred; propagating, more and more evil.
THE SECOND AGE:
The Rise of the Everlasting:
As the first age transitioned to the second, the gods flew to the sky, to where they could observe their creations from afar. And new gods even joined them. Gods like the handsome Vuseos, a moon for the southern skies who shone as brightly in the day as he did at night. Or the beautiful goddess Arkiva' Rial, a lagoon of Kassus.
In the world below were many races and many castes between them. Whose minds were great or small, and lives were days or everlasting. There were the mischievous and childlike faeries, the ravenous and mal-tempered goblins, and the soft and gentle giants.
And among all of them were the elves. Tall eternal beings with heightened intellects and strength. They built great houses of stone, forged metal, created writing and language, and medicine, and ruled Umtau with pure hearts.
Though despite their purity, Umtau's sister Tok-Navar did question whether it was responsible to allow their creations free reign over the lands they had made. And if she should continue to feed them and allow they to grow.
The Rise of the Dæmons:
Throughout this sustained peace, while the gods surveyed the lands of the eternal elves, they neglected to watch Xintau. Over time while the gods believed him to be only rotting away in his cell and watching through the cracks in the earth, Xintau spawned many children. The rueful and woeful. The horrible, and treacherous, and malfeasant and vicious.
The evil god’s prison could not sustain the accumulated wickedness and it finally burst. Through the cracks, all of the atrocities of Xintau rose from the earth and the sea. And in a violent volcanic display they exploded out of newly formed mountains at the western edge of the elves’ continent. They scarred the land, and blackened the skies.
Like a flood, Xintau’s children called the Vaga washed over the realm. They ate the animals and the people, the rocks and the soil, and even the edges of the western shores, making them dangerous and jagged. They even corrupted species too simple or naïve to know better, or too slow to run away.
Umtau and her brothers and sisters descended to the earth to intervene, and destroy the Vaga, and imprison Xintau once again. But they were shocked to find that the beasts were impervious to the might and will of the gods. Xintau even proclaimed that the Vaga were designed to be impervious to them.
And so the army of the mindless Vaga marched on, until they came to Kassus. But the races of that earth had no intention of being destroyed in one fell swoop. Nor did the gods wish to see their creations be snuffed out by the spawn of Xintau. Although Umtau and her kin could do no harm to the Vaga, they could aid in their extermination.
The gods armed the alliance of elves, giants and fae, who attacked the Vaga from their northeast position. Many died in the battle; warrior elves, fighter faeries, and giant strongmen, with the Vaga drawing first blood.
But the dæmons did not prevail, and eventually they all were slain, and fell to their knees. Once dead, the gods turned their foul corpses and heads to stone. And they became known as the V’eti and the V’eo. Or the the Vanquished, and the Detritus.
The Rise of Men:
The remaining Vaga, and the corrupted creatures like the goblins, retreated to the land which once held Xintau. There they would surely die off. Their maker however, was captured once again. Though on this occasion, Xintau was banished to a place of perpetual darkness, from which he could never escape.
Those triumphant then looked to the westerlands, now barren and ruined, but were assured by the gods that all life would eventually return anew. And surprisingly, (for it was no secret that the goddess neither admired nor trusted the elves, giants and faeries) Tok-Navar offered the gallant warriors a gift. When they accepted, she wept, and replenished the earth, making the land green and glorious once again. She presented to them an orb, which she claimed contained her tears. So long as the orb was safe from harm, she promised the land would stay rich and verdant. That day she became the goddess of hope.
No sooner had trees and grass grown back, that life and innocence emerged from an unlikely place. Out of the caves of those now inactive volcanoes from whence the Vaga came; out of hiding, arrived the children of men.
The giants and the fae, and the elves asked the gods if they should remain now that they knew of war and death. Aware now and wise of the consequences of combat, said their creators, that their time should indeed end, but that those who did not participate should continue to live on, and guide the young race of men. But not forever.
Umtau and her siblings agreed to make those brave creatures immortal but not invincible. And they turned the warriors, the fallen too, into stone so they could remember what comes of war. And so, all those who fought and won against the Vaga became mountains. And would forever be known as Vastah Ih, or the Pillars of Immortals.
Meanwhile the gods wondered if it were wise to allow those who had only seen war, still be allowed to live.
THE THIRD AGE:
The Innocence of Men:
And so it was, that the lands once entrusted to the elves and the giants and the fae soon came under the dominion of men. The lands soon became known as the the Realm of Men, or the Mortal Realm.
Humans could outlive mayflies, and meerkats, coyotes and even crocodiles. But not as long as their immortal predecessors, who continued to teach men the ways of life even though their numbers dwindled. And humans spread too, across the continent, as their population grew.
Men could be as sweet as a giant, or as deceptive as a faerie. Or as dumb as a goblin, or as wise as an elf. But usually, humans fell somewhere in the middle of all of these attributes. Above all however, they were innocent, and had no penchant for war.
Tok-Navar who was always wary of the creatures of the earth, insisted they may not be so innocent for long.
The Hidden Evils of Men:
Another blessing, or flaw some may say, is mankind’s propensity for love. In good grace the immortals showed humanity love. Love of art, of knowledge, of the world. Especially a love of women, who were even fairer than men. But a man’s love is different than all others; is much more vibrant. Beyond simple admiration, mankind felt other types of love. Zeal, pride, desire, passion… and more. More than what the elves certainly knew. And one day mortals, immortals and gods alike came to know that love is not always what it seems.
Fatefully that day came— that dawn— when a young woman named Halia fell in love with the moon Vuseos, and he too fell in love with her. Vuseos fell from the sky, uninjured, and soon began their extended affair.
But Vuseos already belonged to another. The goddess of the Great South Seas. When her sister Umtau refused to drag Vuseos back into the southern skies where he belonged, Separ turned red with jealousy. The bitter goddess was forbidden from smashing the lands with storm, or flooding the riverbanks. So instead she targeted Halia and tried to drown her.
While the attempt was unsuccessful, Umtau could not stand by and let her sister’s wrath escalate, and allow her to become like their old enemy Xintau. Umtau resolved the situation, and their was rejoice from all involved parties.
However, mankind now knew of war, and the fears of the gods and the remaining immortals was realised. With their innocence gone, the gods asked mankind if they should remain now that they knew of conflict, and envy. Fully understanding of what they had seen; aware of what the goddess Separ had done, and what it may have inevitably led to, the humans boldly opted to stay on the earth.
Amongst themselves, the gods discussed whether it was right to give the humans the chance to live, Tok-Navar especially. And once again they questioned, if Separ’s rage may have truly intensified to the severity of Xintau. They agreed they must continue to watch the mortals, for they were young and still had much to learn.
The Treachery of Men:
Before long, families became clans, clans became tribes, and tribes became kingdoms. And gone were the days of hunting and gathering. Men had agriculture and forges, and built houses of stone as the elves once did.
At first this societal growth was peaceful, but as each group expanded their territory and each king exerted their sovereignty, tensions surmounted between the neighbouring and rival kingdoms. So much so, that there was little to be done to deter conflict between the humans by either the declining immortals, or the gods. And when the immortals or the gods tried to intervene, they became angry.
No longer did mankind make an effort to seek council from the immortals, and when men were not openly hostile toward them, they ignored the advice.
Soon the fae and the elves retreated to the forests, and the giants to the hills and mountains. Many even chased. Eventually they were butchered without hesitation when men came upon them. So what remained of the immortals was forced into hiding.
As for the gods who were once worshipped and revered, they became feared and then hated. And in some cases, ignored and forgotten completely. These sinister and defiant acts greatly depleted the powers of the gods.
Yet again, they did wonder if it was wise to have let men to their own affairs, after succumbing to their vices and hidden evils, of which they had been warned. They wondered if men should still be allowed to live. If they should not act before they were unable. Umtau insisted that mankind was still very young.
Kingdoms rose and fell, while others faded into obscurity, or toppled under their own weight. All at the mercy of men. And by the end of the third age, which lasted a mere three thousand years compared to the first two ages, saw one empire above all had risen to prominence. One that would become known as the first and last great empire.
THE FOURTH AGE:
The First and Last Great Empire:
At the dawn of the fourth age, King Waziroh of the budding Yaar-Œs Empire conquered his enemy to the west. The people of the River Winding declared their king a hero, and an emperor.
Yaar-Œs was wealthy and powerful, but in its early days was restricted to the river— for which the land was named— which flowed southeast from the Noskah-Resaak. Mountains otherwise known as the Thorns of Death.
West of the mountains, was Waziroh’s sworn enemy, King Lokaska. He ruled the western coast, all the way up to the north coast of Umtau. The kingdom of D’Endaraw.
Fighting between them began over the dispute of one island. An island which contained no significant resources for either king. Nevertheless, they had their war. And after two years, Waziroh and his small navy managed to sack Lokaska’s capital city, and claim the crown.
But Waziroh’s new empire was one of many. Directly north was Sashaan, and to the east was Meptus Viqāq. And both were wary of Waziroh after conquering D’Endaraw.
Due to its political and economic stability, and wise leadership, Yaar-Œs lived for well over two thousand years, of which most were prosperous. After fifteen hundred years, the empire was at its height. Emperor Zazisso II had subdued the Kassians at their then capital of Arkhan. Their reach spanned the entire length of the continent of Umtau from west to east and north to south. All that stood in the emperor’s way were the island fortress of Tezan, the forested city of Nundir, and the island nation of Vuseos.
However, the emperor’s son, Zazisso III usurped him, plunging Yaar-Œs into civil war. This murder marked a period of rapid decline. V’etor as it is known in Tandarian Vulgar or, The Fall in High Kassian, is a regular topic of conversation in both nations.
The New Kingdoms:
Not two centuries later, the already burgeoning Tandar and Kassus had repulsed Emperor Zazisso IX and his army to the eastern boundaries of the River Yaar-Œs.
Kassus had grown after the fall of Yaar-Œs, and at this point encompassed all of the land east of the Vanquished and the Pillars of Immortals. Tandar had also swelled beyond its original border. It extended from the River Vandar, and Zaneos in the east, to the fortresses of Ohskorn and Viqāq in the west.
Tandar and Kassus, whose alliance was already strong, decided even to combine their noble houses. Lady Damona, the princess of Tandar married Lord Hadad.
Within a hundred years, Kassus conquered Sidòn, and Tandar defeated the chieftains of Āstai. And less than a century after that, the northern kingdom of Rhøsus became a suzerainty of the united houses. However, their were unable to control Vuseos and Nundir just like the great empire before them.
The Darkest Day:
Ninety-nine summers later, the four moons aligned and blotted out the sun, plunging every nation between Enda and Ehna’ Rial into darkness. Along with it came a new evil. It was more treacherous and loathsome than anything that had ever existed. It came with claws, and it came unseen.
As swiftly as an eagle it flew, this lonesome creature during the night, over land and sea. It landed in Tandar; in their holiest city. And it went to the temple of Umtau under a guise, to draw in close. And when the priests were near enough, it slew and then ate them all before it took one of the relics the priests had been guarding. The Tears of Tok-Navar had been stolen.
Some say it had no name. Others, that it was Xintau incarnate. Yet it was not the god. Nor was it one his dæmon spawn, the vaga as many suspected.
It was born from the two banished races— the vaga and the goblins— who had mated to survive. It possessed unparalleled strength and intelligence. This plundering monster was the first, and the king of a new breed called Vagan V’asi. And his name was Vizavus the Thief.
The Return of the Dæmons:
Vizavus and his savage kind had bode their time well, waiting until the opportune time when the gods would be at their most vulnerable, and at their weakest. And the gods did not know who was responsible.
The following day, the people of Tandar discovered what happened at the temple of Umtau. Weeks, months and finally years passed… and not a drop of rain fell on the Tandarian lands. They knew that droughts could not last so long, and they blamed the gods. The Tandarians shouted at the heavens to no avail, for the gods were so powerless, too few men could hear their reply, nor accept their condolences.
As for Tok-Navar, who despite her better judgement had grown to care for the humans, became cold and distant. And for all of her efforts to cry and wail, she could not shed a tear.
When their lands shriveled and died and turned to dust and desert, Tandar looked east and saw that the rains continued to fall over Kassus effortlessly. Kassus was implicated of ordering the theft, and an ultimatum was given to return the Tears of Tok-Navar. Of course the Kassian king denied any wrong-doing so the two kingdoms went to war.
But men know little, and are among the pettiest of all creatures in the mortal realm. For they were unaware the taking of the orb had been planned for millennia by a patient race west of Enda. Their lands which was nothing but a wasteland now, was all but sucked dry. The Mortal Realm was ripe for the taking.
And of all the beasts of Umtau which rely on sight to see the world, humans are remarkably unobservant. As the Thorns of Death rumbled to life for the first time in ages, smoke and ash, and fire killed everything around them. And every plea for help which came from the weak western kingdoms was ignored. One by one, those kingdoms fell, and the Vagan V’asi came ashore.
Finally, the Vagan V’asi stood on the fringes of Yaar-Œs, who declared their need for aid. The other gods used all of their power and influence to convince Tandar and Kassus that if the last of the western kingdoms fell, they would suffer the same fate.
A truce was struck, however briefly, and the forces of Tandar and Kassus united once again. They marched or sailed to where the last armies of Yaar-Œs and the western kingdoms had mobilised waiting for the Vagan V’asi to arrive.
The war was fierce, and the carnage was great. Thousands upon thousands of men died on the battlefield to repel the slow march of the dæmons. But they did not succeed. As they pushed the Vagan V’asi further toward the ocean, the creatures hid underground, launching the beginnings of guerrilla warfare.
Feeling the plight had been sufficiently dealt with, the Kassians and Tandarians returned to their own conflict, and left the wasteland that was Yaar-Œs to at last crumble for good.
For a thousand years, Tandar and Kassus would fight without an end in sight. While the ruined and scarred lands to the far west now known as Driu-Vaa-Saak, or Death would become the new home for the Vagan V’asi. Which they would feed off of like they did their old home, making preparations to strike again, once the time was right.