The Different Eras:
The Time Before Humanity, the Ancient Era
The time when humans were in their infancy, living under the goddess Eterra’s protection. Legends say that Eterra crafted this world with her own hands, spreading life and vitality through the barren land, what existed before her none can say but herself and possibly The Observer. The ancient world was covered by forests and jungles, inhabited by beast people and a multitude of creatures that could only thrive in this wild time. This land was far too fierce for the young race of man, thus Eterra kept them hidden in her temple for untold ages before a calamity forced humanity out into the world.
Year 1059, the Divine Era
Humanity has prospered under the guidance of the gods, developing culture and pushing the beast people to near extinction. Nomad cultures to the frozen north, a seafaring culture by the western sea, a mercantile city within the southern desert, and a strict theocracy high atop the eastern mountains. Rahyeh, the God of the sun and mountains has begun a war to consume the other gods.
Year 1621, the Imperial Era
The different cultures and civilizations of mankind have begun to decline, a ruthless Emperor that has embraced undeath having subjugating any who would resist his rule. The beast people are down to their last, nature has begun to suffer, and the living humans are fighting a losing battle against the Undead Empire. The Undead Empire has embraced the strict culture of Rahyeh’s old domain but made it more militaristic, embracing necromantic experiments fueled by the Emperor’s foul power.
Year 2281, the Ruined Era
Void has covered most of the surface, most of humanity fleeing underground, those who remain on the surface going mad. The last bastion of humanity exists underneath the surface, safe from the horrors that dwell above. They have lived in this place for generations, supplies depleting, until one day the void finds them and destroys the home they know as Last Refuge. At the end of all hopes, this is where your story begins.
The Gods of Eterra
The embodiment of the world itself and guardian of all who dwell there. Said to be the mother of the other gods and all living things, humanity being her proudest creation. In ancient times she kept humanity hidden away deep inside her temple, along with a mysterious being known as The Observer. She is benevolent yet ruthless to those that would threaten her world.
God of the north, master of the tundra wanderers, whose divine breath rises to the sky to form the aurora. He has taken the form of a massive white elk, his mane forever frozen over with the purest crystals of ice. His nature is kind and protective, leading his herd to fertile and bountiful land. Every generation he chooses a tribe of humans to follow with his herd and share in his wisdom, a Chieftain and a Champion raised from their numbers to be blessed by him.
God of the west, master of the sea and its storms, whose great eye reflects the light of the moon. He has taken the form of a sea giant, scales covering his body, great webbed claws at the end of arms covered in sharp coral. His mouth is obscured by massive tentacles that hang beneath a wide cyclopean eye, the image of the moon eternally reflecting in it. He is capricious of nature, more interested in the depths of his seas and the art of the storms than any dealings with his worshipers whose prayers for safe voyage often fall on deaf ears. Visitors to his temple fill him with delight and curiosity, though that delight can quickly shift to boredom from which his mind conjures deadly ways that he can be amused.
Goddess of the south, mistress of the desert, the sand that has been blessed by her scales is dusted across the night sky, forming the stars. She has taken the shape of a colossal jewel covered serpent that dwells beneath the sands, the gems of her hood gleaming like a crown. Her movements divert sandstorms and guide lost travelers back to civilization, her passing filling the desert with treasures shed from her body. She is reclusive and reluctant to involve herself in the matters of humans, content to dwell in her temple when she is not venturing through the sands, her temple maidens acting as the intermediaries between her and her followers.
God of the east, master of the mountains, his flaming crest burns with the light of the sun. He has taken the form of a glorious eagle, fire raging from his golden feathers, his talons formed of black molten glass. He surveys his domain atop the highest peak of the eastern mountains, no transgression of his followers escaping his gaze, the punishment for such is swift and unforgiving. His followers obey him without question, donning armor crafted from the metallic feathers of his fierce brood of harpies and garuda, ready to die for their sun king.
Not many know that The Observer exists, only those who have passed down stories of humanity’s earliest days when they resided peacefully under Eterra’s protection. The stories are short and vague, merely amounting to the fact that hidden deep within Eterra’s Temple there once was a robed figure chained to a massive monolith, constantly etching into its smooth stone.
The northlands stretch from the mountains to the northern edges of the known world. Forests fill the land north of the mountains until they gradually thin out into a tundra which extends for leagues until the land is overcome with glaciers. At the edge of the tundra stands a frozen tree, within it lies Heorot’s eldest son Morditas who rebelled against his father, seeing the idea of living to protect the humans as an insult. His followers roam the northern tundra, zealous berserkers and fierce half-elk half-men known as Wendikwa. The Wendikwa were followers of Heorot who resented not being chosen and so used magic to transform themselves as to mimic Heorot’s image, in an attempt to gain his favor. Heorot rejected them, however, seeing this act as obscene, driving many into aligning with the rebellion of Morditas. The highest among the chosen of Morditas was a human champion, the one who served him since before the rebellion. His cursed spirit now stands before the frozen tree, sentenced to act as the warden of his master’s prison. This tree acts as a border between the north and the endless land of ice that is the crown of the world and the dark powers that sleep beneath it.
The people of the Northlands all align themselves to the migrations of the great elk herds. Each tribe follows three figures, the demigod offspring of Heorot who acts as a connection to the god, the chieftain who executes the law of the tribe, and a champion who acts as the tribe’s symbol of glory and strength.The greatest of the tribes follow the same structure as the lesser tribes. Heorot himself acts as the spiritual leader, a High Chieftain dictates law that all the tribes must follow, and a Great Champion commands the tribes when they must unite against an outside force and acts as the paragon of the people of the north.
Most conflicts between tribes are settled by trials of combat between the champions of the disputing tribes. When a conflict is dire enough that a trial between the champions is insufficient it is mediated by the greatest of the tribes, the one lead by Heorot himself. The High Chieftain mediates these more severe disputes, seeking to reach a peaceful resolution, and if even this fails the system of a trial of combat is called upon again, except with the Great Champion facing the champions of both conflicting tribes at the same time. In the history of the north, the Great Champion of Heorot’s tribe has only failed this trial once, when the champion of Morditas drove his frozen blade into the Great Champion’s heart. Morditas then declared his intention of usurping Heorot and laying waste to the humans too weak to serve him, sparking a civil war that raged for a hundred years, stalling the progress of the people of the north while their neighbors to the south flourished.
The people of the north would not see a greater plight until centuries later when Rahyeh, the God of the Mountains would declare his war upon the other gods. Rahyeh set his sight upon the north first, viewing their lack of development as weakness and sending his armies into their land. The Great Champion of this Era of Warring Gods is a man named Gahardod, who after assembling the tribes set out on a quest. He sought out the frozen tree of Morditas, hoping to challenge the cursed specter of his champion so he may take his frozen blade which legend says was carved from the deepest of the glaciers at the crown of the world and makes its wielder undefeatable.
The Birth of Lagon
The stories say that ages ago, long before humanity arose, Lagon was nameless, a terrifying being of unknowable anatomy that shattered the mind of any mortal that dared to look upon it. Where the other great gods that would be charged by Eterra with the protection of humanity were already proven leaders of the lands they ruled, the being that would become Lagon was a raging monstrosity. No other spirits of the sea could hope to challenge the raging titan when Eterra decided to empower the gods she knew any spirit she chose would be destroyed by this abomination, so she crafted a plan.
Eterra waded out into the western sea and formed an island from which she could speak to the sea titan from. She waited until the moon was full and bright in the night sky and called out to it, the waters frothed as the titan’s many eyes rose up to answer her. To it, she said, “Creature, I offer you a bargain. Every night I stand watch over my humans for I know you hunger for them so, but tonight there are matters I must attend to elsewhere and I can not protect them. Do you see the moon overhead? If you keep even one of your terrible eyes fixed upon the moon and if the terrible body attached to it does not leave this island until the moon has passed from its sight and it gazes upon the dawn, I will reward that terrible creature with the moon itself. This way I will know my humans are safe.”
The sea titan agreed to this deal and Eterra went on her way, for the titan had a plan of its own. The titan began carving pieces from itself, a claw here, a slab of shell and coral there, and arranged it in the shape of one of the humans Eterra so loved then crowned it with its smallest most pitiful eye, angling it to stare directly at the moon. Its work finished, the titan dragged its still bleeding mass back into the sea and began to swim for the mainland so it could find the humans and feast.
Eterra anticipated this treachery however, she returned to the island and saw the sea titan’s work and touched that small singular eye and coaxed the moonlight into it. It grew and grew, larger and brighter until it appeared as though the moon itself was atop the figure, and then, the power of the moon and Eterra flowed from that eye and into the rest of the flesh, giving it life. This new creature turned to Eterra and bade her, “Mother Goddess, what am I? What is my purpose?”
Eterra spoke, “You are Lagon, the god of sea and storms. Your purpose is to go and destroy the sea titan that now swims to my shore.” And Lagon raised his hands, as monstrous as they were and crafted his first storm. The waves battered the bleeding sea titan, slamming it into the rocks and edges of the shore. Thunder rang out, shattering the titan’s shell, lightning searing its writhing flesh. Despite this assault, the sea titan still managed to reach the shore, just in time for it to lose the last of its lifeblood, the spot where he died is the titanic shell which is now the center of the city Thetima. Lagon reached down to the trail of blood the titan left behind, stretching from where it had first carved Lagon’s body on the island, through the clouded waters and to the pool that formed under the titan’s corpse, and he touched it. The blood surged then, frothing into the form of dozens of creatures who we now know as the Neried, the merpeople who are the children of Lagon.
They returned to the island and helped Lagon build his temple, the temple that would become his home and prison, as even though he had done as Eterra asked, the deal she had made with the titan said that the eye and its terrible body must remain on the island until it sees the dawn. Unfortunately, the moon is eternally reflected in Lagon’s great cyclopean eye, and he may never leave his island home.
The Maiden’s Vision
Vessel Maiden Apophis looked into her scrying pool again, the delicate crystal of the bowl glowing in the starlight that passed through the open ceiling of her Observatory. She checked the curve of the bowl for scratches or imperfections, it was perfect. She checked the alignment of the stars, they reflected in the pool without error. Apophis held her breath, dawn was close, she had been doing this from the second she could get the stars to reflect properly. If she couldn’t find what she was looking for she would have to wait for the next evening to continue, yet again. She had to find what she was looking for. She gripped the sides of the bowl with her scaled hands and thrust her face in.
She saw herself from miles above and years in the past, a Nagasa infant pulled from a massive pile of golden scales among many, each one bearing a jewel embedded upon their brow, the one belonging to her was black as night. The older Apophis stared down at her past, her eyes reluctant to focus on the Majasa in this vision, golden scales fresh and soft, flexing her new body, but the jewel that rested on her brow always demanded Apophis’ attention. The jewel of the previous Vessel Maiden.
Apophis righted herself, and focused on the other side of eternity, the pathways of the future. She gazed upon the endless threads reaching from past to present to future, all unchanging and unique. Many of them ended in Rahyeh, the conquering flame of the east, destroying her or subjugating her. If he continued to do the same to Majasa and her people was unknowable to her. Many more threads ended in Rahyeh’s defeat, she did not rejoice in these threads for they all ended the same for her. Majasa’s gold scales and jewels were always bare in places, dull in others, she would rise slowly above Apophis before striking, swallowing her whole. Apophis assumes what would follow in these timelines would be as the Diamond Priests told her the ritual had always proceeded. The golden scales would be harvested and given to the humans, a new generation of True Nagasa would be born from her shed jewels, a new Vessel Maiden bearing her black gem among them, the leftover skin would be reshaped and molded into the witless False Nagasa to toil as the Diamond Priests deem fit. A rejuvenated Majasa would then exult, her body new and gleaming, the previous Vessel Maiden’s black gem resting on her brow.
All the threads of fate Apophis could trace ended these ways, all save for one. A strange thread that ran in the wrong direction, reaching from the future and into the present, a thread that was not her own, the thread she had become obsessed with. She traced this thread like she had done countless times, past her sacrifice, or ascension as the Diamond Priests called it, to Majasa. Into a strange future where the humans had conquered the rest of the gods and extended their lives with cruel magic. The thread continued, the night sky she was falling into growing dimmer and dimmer, the stars fading away into an inky darkness until that was all that was left. She witnessed a future consumed by darkness, where fate itself died, a void.
Apophis pulled herself away from the darkness and dashed the bowl to the ground, its shatter drowned out by her shriek of rage. Oblivion. Void. What use was seeing the threads of fate if this was the only future the world had? This anger she felt inside her, it was familiar, an anger that burned with shame. This was the anger of her youth, rage at knowing her fate as a Vessel Maiden, that her purpose was to supply her goddess a means to the immortality she had refused ages ago, simply to always have wealth to gift to the pathetic humans. Why must she face oblivion for the sake of their greed? For Majasa? She doesn’t deserve this. A voice that wasn’t hers itched at the back of her mind.
“They deserve this…”
Apophis turned to the puddle of water where she had shattered the bowl. It was black. It was spreading.
“This is the fate of all things… you will not be alone…”
She stood transfixed as she watched the puddle grow, a figure rising from it that seemed to drain the light from the stars themselves. Apophis smiled.