A series of classical tales set in the world of Valator as commonly told by bards and minstrels. They are filled with both half truths and colorful legends, the remnants of a past that no longer exist save in history books...
The Last Archon's Legacy
"Once upon a time, in a world long since gone...
There once reigned an Archon of the Sarlish Kingdom. Great was his might. Just was his rule. Potent was his sorcery. Above all, unmatched was he in the heights of glory and power he aspired to. He sought to spread his rule across all that his sight fell upon, and all those that opposed him were conquered swiftly. His vision of a world united under one man was unprecedented, where race and creed meant nothing, where only peace would be allowed to endure...
Alas, the Gods were cruel!
Age worn him down at last, after a lifetime of study and battles. Upon his deathbed, the Archon wept for he realized that the world was vast beyond realizing, and man had not the time to conquer it all! How saddening should it be that for all his great zeal and ambition, the only enemy that he could not overcome was his own mortality! As those closest to him begged for him to tell them who the next Archon would be, the great king instead spent his final breath of life... Cursing the Gods themselves. Thus, the Last Archon died, and the Sarlish Kingdom found itself in a crisis. Of the Last Archon's surviving children, there were only three remaining. Lanius, the eldest brother who favored might over all else and coveted only power. Arteus, who felt more compassion for others than his elder brother and sought only to protect others. And Sarat, the youngest of the three, who cared nothing for politics and intrigues of the royal court, instead choosing to study the great mysteries of life and magic. The land, long united by the Archons, would at last be divided by the last of the Archons.
After a long period of instability within the Last Archon's kingdom, the crisis finally came to a breaking point. Taking from his father's treasury a blade more terrible than any other, more evil than any, Lanius conquered the north and forged an kingdom of his own, the Kingdom of Margoth. In response to this, Arteus took another artifact, a shield like no other, every bit as resolute as its wielder, and in the west he raised a kingdom of his own, the Kingdom of Ertonia. With the crumbling remnants of the Sarlish Kingdom, Sarat left them in the hands of the Last Archon's few remaining loyal servants and instead chose to live in solitude, taking with him the great staff of his father, said to have been imbued with the magical might of every single Archon to ever rule.
As Lanius solidified his position on the world's roof, menacingly staring down at the rest of his father's realm, Arteus called forth every man he could find to his banners and fought to keep Lanius from unleashing his evil upon the land. And what of their youngest sibling? Sarat had established a great school of his own and had brought young children that showed signs of a gift, something beyond anything else. There at his school, Sarat taught his young pupils the great arts of magic, but even as he taught them, Sarat learned more and more of magic and delved more deeply into its mysteries than any others had ever dared.
In time, Margoth fell into the hands of that most terrible of Gods, Halitash. Making Lanius into his puppet, the Shadowlord spread his dark influence throughout the kingdom even as he corrupted the eldest brother. Soon, the King Lanius ceased to be... and Ebonarus, the first of Halitash's dark knights was born. Both saddened by his brother's fate and unwilling to allow it to continue, Arteus fought harder than ever, striving with all of his might and heart to drive Halitash back into the darkness and save his brother. In the end, Arteus fell, his life stolen by the sword of his own brother, an evil done in Halitash's name as Ebonarus marched south to lay waste to Arteus' kingdom...
Only then did a miracle occur, light shining down upon Arteus' fallen form as his spirit was called back from beyond oblivion to serve once more as the defender of men. Garbed in new armaments and his shield humming with more power than ever, the reborn Arteus, now known as Rozen, stood back up and hurled himself at his malevolent brother, lashing out at Ebonarus' foul sorcery and unholy might with righteous fury and an unshakable resolve! The two fought and fought and fought, neither one giving way, neither one showing any weakness as their armies battered at each others, men dying in droves as they chanted the names of their leaders! Stalemate forced the two apart, and with great reluctance, Ebonarus, the fearsome Butcher, and Rozen, the valorous Defender, both retreated, unable to go on any further, their strength spent. With the remains of their broken armies, the brothers moved back into their own kingdoms... Each to recover his strength, rebuild his army, all for the day that they would set out once again to destroy the other!
And in his solitude, after his pupils had learned all they could learn from him and left to teach others what he had taught them, Sarat remained ignorant of the world at large, uncaring of the madness his brothers had unleashed upon the people. What did evil matter to him, when compared to the deep secrets of magic that he had yet to uncover? And of what consequence was blind zeal when it had no place in a world of study and research?
The only thing that mattered to Sarat was... Knowledge. Discovery. Mastery. He wanted to understand all of life's mysteries, to know all of life's secrets, to see everything life had to offer... And one day, he had gone too far, shattering the boundaries between life and death. Where the brothers had become immortal champions of powers greater than them, the Gods themselves, Sarat had instead ascended. Leaving behind the mortal world, Sarat transcended his former self and became something else, joining the ranks of the Gods as the ruler of the great realm of magic itself! Discarding his old name as his brothers had done, the man that was once Sarat became Chronatis, the Watcher. Time was now his to study, his to discover, his... to protect and watch over. And thus, those of his pupils that returned after discovering their teacher's fate found something else, Sarat's school empty and silent. They in turn became the teachers, vowing to teach all those that came to the school the ways of magic as Sarat had once taught them. In time, the school became powerful, its teachers becoming influential and ambitious. These teachers, these Magister Lords then took for themselves the remaining lands of the Sarlish Kingdom, completing the circle that had begun with the Last Archon's death.
Even now, a thousand years later... The sons of Margoth continues to battle against the sons of Ertonia and Sarland, countless rulers having since then assumed the three thrones. But what of the Brothers? Chronatis rules in the infinite, everywhere and nowhere at once. Ebonarus lurks within the darkness of the Brotherhood, where he lords over new generations of dark knights with a tyrannical fist, killing all those that show even the smallest of weakness, and Rozen stands at the side of his goddess, Naiuden herself, even as a great league of warriors was born in his name, the Knights of Rozen, championing life and light over evil and darkness.
Many of these things have been forgotten, just as the age of the Last Archon was forgotten. In the end, the sands of time bury everything, and things that should have been lost were instead found, and things that should have been found were instead lost. None living now in the world of men remembers the name of the Last Archon, but all those who lives today still feel the consequences of his legacy. A thousand years of unending war, that is the legacy of the Last Archon, the legacy he ensured with his dying breath that was filled with only hatred. And yet, the age continues on, an endless stream of conflicts and triumphs. With the Gods ruling from on high, the world of men toiling on still down below, as the story of the brothers three becomes the very stuff of myths and legends, for all men to ponder, beyond all praise and blame!
Thus, life goes on as always, but never forget the tale of the Last Archon and his hate-filled legacy! Never forget, least you repeat his grave mistake, much to the anguish of us all!"