Wednesday, 8 June 2011

The Deep South

A generation has passed since the Old Colonies fell to the Dark Horde. The Orc came out of the Broken Coast in such numbers,and with such a terrible force, that not even the most apocalyptic of prophets could foresee it. The colonies were swept away in a little over a year, and it would take more than twenty years before the Erian kingdoms attempted to reclaim what had been lost. This attempt failed, and now any hope of bringing light to the Dark Continent is slim.

Those who survived the Dark Horde quickly found that their world had changed. At first, chaos and violence reigned, then, in the first years of the second millennium of enlightenment, a new order emerged. The Court of Stars brought order to the Dark Coast. The surviving population from all the colonies were forced to migrate to the fertile region around the Élena river. Some, those who chose to prostrate themselves before the new rulers, gained power and wealth. The rest, by far the majority, were treated as chattel. A new society of slaves and masters was forged, and all were forced to worship the goddess the Orc calls Mother, the Queen of Stars, and her son, Caracalla, the Prince of Ashes.

The Queen is a remote and terrible figure in the minds of the mortals. Her likeness hangs in the homes of all who are allowed to own property, and her name is invoked with fear and reverence by all who live in her shadow. Her son, the living god, is much closer. He walks amongst the living, worshipped by the Cult of Man Ascended as the Son of Gods, the Perfect Being, the Man Supreme. He is the god they follow, the Queen is the goddess they love and fear.

Until YE 1022, the Dark Continent was ruled by a triumvirate composed of the Mother, the Son, and the Warrior. The latter, Ghurandakh, the great leader who forged the orc-clans into a single, unstoppable horde, was killed when the Frost Elves of Fornost left their ancient forest in the North to fight their last battle. Such was the fury of the elves that the Dark Horde was splintered, and the Orc has again turned on itself; many great warleaders fell by elven steel, and those who survived now fight among themselves. Some remain in the service of the Queen, but the Dark Horde has been broken.

The two main cities in the Empire of Stars are Kal-Shaitarak and the City of Stars. The former lies deep in the Ashen Arm on the Broken Coast, and few outside the Court of Stars have ever seen it and left alive. Legends say that the inhospitable coast was once a lush elven forest, and that the land was broken by the fall of the Dead Star. Whether this is true or not, the region is saturated with loci, ancient caerns, dark caves, and other places of power. It was from here that the scattered clans of the Orc emerged to break the walls of man, and it is here that the Queen of Stars sits on her throne.

The City of Stars used to be the capital of the old Aragonian colony Reginia, and it was called Victoria until it was razed by the Host of Man in 1021 YE. It lies on a spot where man has lived since the dawn of the Second Age, and ruins from civilizations long forgotten lay mingled with great palaces and temples, some dating back to before the Last Great War. Now a new layer of ruins has been added, and on top of them a new city is being built. Today the City of Stars is a morass of crude dwellings for the multitude of slaves, where the palaces of the rich rise above these poor houses, monoliths pierce the sky, and enormous workshops spew black smoke into the air.

The Old Colonies, once rich provinces of Erian kingdoms, now lie burnt and tortured. The minions of the Court of Stars are ravaging the lands, strip-mining it for mundane and occult resources. Anyone showing signs of Awakening are brought to Kal-Shaitarak, where they are shown the power of the Abyss. Ancient beasts are released upon the world, nefandic arts and ancient magics are employed to warp and weaken reality itself, and since the death of Dìs, not even in the afterlife can the tortured masses escape the whips and shackles of their dark masters.

[Picture source: Thitipon Dicruen]

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