The Amurites have no ancient history, no glorious empire in the Age of Magic to hearken back to or trace their lineage from. In terms of civilizations, the Amurites are newcomers on the world stage. Nevertheless, they are a force to be reckoned with, feared by some, and respected by all. Part of that respect stems from the tremendous magical power the Amurite armies command, but no small part of it stems from the incredible story of their genesis.
The Amurites call themselves the Children of Kylorin. According to their own legends, the arrival of the archmage Kylorin saved the Amurite people from obscurity, or possibly extinction, during the Age of Ice. Not even the Amurites know exactly why Kylorin picked these people as his chosen folk, but they maintain that it was because of a particular strength of character.
Whatever the reason, when Kylorin appeared he changed the fortunes of the tiny,struggling clan that had been the Amurites. For years he lived in their midst, taking new wives as his old ones died of old age or in childbirth, leading the Amurites to a level of organization and advancement unrivaled by any other nation in the Age of Ice. Generations came and went, but Kylorin remained a constant, working towards some arcane goal with the Amurites as his willing and joyous tools. Whether through magic or sheer force of will, he remained young throughout.
Until, one day, Kylorin strode out of his home. His face had aged many years, terrible purpose shone in his once soft and kindly eyes, and a magnificent blade hung faintly glowing by his side. With no farewells and no apologies, he went forth into the icy wastes and never came back. Soon after, the Thaw began.
He had, however, left behind a powerful gift: his children. Through the years there had been quite a few, and they all carried latent magical abilities. Though the advances in magic made during the guardianship of the immortal wizard were lost during the Age of Ice, Kylorin’s Blood remained. The children of Kylorin intermarried with the rest of the Amurites and the gift spread, making the Amurites the civilization most magnificently in touch with the magical currents of Arcanearth.
This link has affected every aspect of Amurite life. They run their nation like a great magical school, training as many of their young as possible in, at the very least, basic magic skills. Their schools are famous enough to attact students from every corner of the globe. The Archmages and Headmasters of the schools and universities act like an aristocracy in a nation that does not really have one, wielding great political power beyond the walls of their institutions.
As with any large educational institution, the Amurites are mired in scholarly bureaucracy, the most insipid form of administrative quagmire known to man. The Archmages are frequently involved in petty squabbles over obscure matters that sometimes develop into personal feuds. Positions and knowledge are jealously guarded and hard to obtain; potential rivals are stonewalled at every turn. It is easy to become a mage in the service of the Amurites, but it takes a shrewd, powerful and unscrupulous practitioner of magic to rise to the apex of power.
Above all, the Amurites have come to worship magic for its own sake. Their fascination with all aspects of magic is so deep that some no longer feel hindered by petty alignments and concepts of “good” and “evil.” Any avenue of magic can be explored, but some branches, like necromancy, are governed by strict laws and regulations, in order to prevent abuse and disasters. Justice for a mage who ignores these laws and starts dabbling in the regulated branches without obtaining the necessary permission is merciless, final, and in keeping with their fascination with the uses of magic, rather spectacular. No possibility is left for a repeat offense.
Since the Amurites do not feel themselves confined by the alignments most nations follow, they are treated with a healthy amount of distrust by good and evil civilizations. Evil civilizations dislike the regulation of the dark and chaotic spheres, good civilizations are worried that they are not forbidden entirely. While not specifically hated by any, they have trouble making truly close allies. However, they don’t feel they need any. As long as they are left in peace to conduct their magical experiments, they are happy, and wise rulers respect that. Those few who have crossed the Amurites and felt the fire of their arcane might have no desire to repeat the experience. Many have not been left the option.
They didn’t belong to a common civilization or heritage. They were just the scattered tribes that survived close to Letum Frigus until Kylorin united them. Under one banner they became the most powerful empire of the Age of Ice and changed the world.
But a common lineage does unite them now. Kylorin’s blood runs through his many children, and in that blood the strength of a former age, of a time when men were more than the desperate animals they have become. Newly formed they are an echo of past triumphs, and they will forever bring those glories into new ages.
~ 1% Other (Dwarf, Humanoid)
45% Lawful Neutral
7% Neutral Good
5% Lawful Evil
2% Neutral Evil
~ 1% Other
Adult population Lvl 1 or higher: 15%
Sorcerers: 45% (Blood of Kylorin)
The Codex Edda—a code of laws and history, a guide to all aspects of life. A text so important to the Amurites it is almost the subject of veneration, and the second most important pillar of Amurite society after Kylorin himself. There is an entire organization of scribes responsible for guarding the Codex, as well as for amending and developing it. For it is a living thing, evolving, developing, growing. A thing of beauty that will pass into legend and become a much sought after treasure even in future ages.
Mage guilds, established in every kingdom, ostensibly exist to serve the ruler by training up a new generation of magical adepts. In reality, most wizards are extremely reluctant to share their power, and their guilds are often used to retard the spread of their craft. Aspirants face circular regulations, years of drudgery, and a fanatical hoarding of any useful texts. The best of the arcane masters worry about the corrupting influence the power might exert upon an unready mind and soul. Most, however, jealously guard their power for more selfish reasons.
A desire to retain the prestige that their secrets grant them for some; others suspect that the power they share is a resource like any other and fear its gradual diminishment. Many are simply absorbed in their studies, and abhor the thought of taking time away from their own growth to supervise a bumbling apprentice.
Not so Govannon. He is a spiritual as well as a physical descendant of Kylorin, believing that creation will only be complete when human society is at every level imbued with every power the gods used in creating it. He teaches beggar children how to turn rocks to bread, young men how to push their bodies beyond physical limits, and young maidens how to inspire their champions with a crystalline image beyond the etchings of mundane memory. This selfless patience in his utopian pursuit rankles the magical Amurite aristocracy to no end, but his power rivals the strongest of them, and the queen has realized the potential in an army trained by Govannon.
Govannon’s old weathered lips merely smile when reminded of the consternation that he causes. “It is proof,” he says, “that it is not the arcane power that corrupts, for how could the power of creation cause harm to the created? It is the secrecy, and more, the false esteem in which these so called wise-men are held that warps their minds.”
Dain the Caswallawn
He fiddled with the pieces of clockwork mechanism, shuffling them around the tabletop, lifting a cogwheel and mounting it on a pin, then giving it a little tip to make it spin. Technology was fascinating stuff, although Dain had never really had the time to learn anything beyond the basic tricks of how it functioned.
Although he was greatly impressed by the men who could use mechanics to do such amazing things, he did not see the point. Why build these elaborate things to work your way around the laws of nature when it was so much easier to simply manipulate the laws themselves?
He did realize, however, that magic and its practitioners were something of a rare commodity, making these toys and parlor tricks necessary. Magic could solve everything, but it was often easier to do without. Just press a button, or pull a lever, and it happened. No need for great feats of concentration, time-consuming runes or incantations.
Dain remembered the time he had spent as a siege-mage—as human artillery, he corrected himself—in the wars. It had been sheer misery. He remembered the smell of blood, and sweat, of soiled garments and fear. The wails of the wounded, the clamor of battle all too close, and the cold, squalid, wet camps where the Amurite mages, weak as they were in hand-to- hand combat, huddled, waiting to be made use of where no device man’s ingenuity would suffice. Above all, Dain remembered the unease, the overhanging feeling that they would never get out of the whole mess alive.
Still, Dain would not have things differently. Advanced war magic with extremely well-trained mages wielding it meant the Amurites had the luxury of foregoing cumbersome and time-consuming heavy siege engines. It provided them their edge in wars and allowed them to survive and prevail in fights with much more powerful foes. Sometimes, their magic was all that was keeping them alive.
You couldn’t expect to go anywhere in the Amurite magical hierarchy if you did not have the courage to spend time in the wars. It was a form of… job requirement. And so, Dain had fought, killed, suffered and survived, survived the wars, and survived his colleagues. He had laboriously struggled to the top, and now, at the end of it all, he sat playing with the bits of a clockwork astronomical device. The dwarves were exceptionally good at making these knick-knacks, Dain knew. The Khazad powered their mines with them, the Luchuirp combinedthem with magic, to give them life of a sort.
Could this mesmerizing object, this soul-less, functional bit of cunningly-fashioned metal, bound by laws stricter than any of man’s imagining, constitute a threat to him and his people? Even the most lowly Amurite was, to some extent, above the law!
He shook his head. He was becoming distracted and distant. He had become so used to losing his concentration like this that he was no longer sure it whether it had started as an affectation to lull his opponents or a handy personality trait that he had deftly exploited. Looking around the scantly-furnished room, he realized that the sun was a lot lower than it should have been.
Feeling a pang of regret at dismantling the time-piece, he swept from his chamber. That, at least, was one thing at which cogs and gears would always best him. Keeping time.
Valledia the Even
“Is it done?”
Sammuel offered only a painted shell as proof. He wasn’t the most talented of Valledia’s wizards, but skilled enough in the magic of the mind and soul to do what was required, and particularly unhindered by morals that can conflict with such a task.
Valledia nodded and excused the wizard from the chamber, he bowed and slunk out, seeming a jackal to her eyes. But she was no better, her hands were just as bloody for ordering him to the task as he was for completing it.
She sat and considered this while she waited for the Caswallawn to arrive. He was ever late, and as undisciplined as he was talented. When finally he arrived he was rushed, as people who cannot keep time always are.
“You have released Sammuel from the prisons? He was convicted of unapproved necromancy, of sustaining a creature’s life past natural means!”
Valledia didn’t answer.
“He should have been killed for his experimentation, there is no balance in what he was doing, he threatens to incur the wrath of the gods on all of us. First you order him spared, now you let him go. What were you thinking?”
“Incur the wrath of the gods?”
She knew Dain wasn’t religious, he had been listening to the priests ramble on. He started again.
“He broke the law, why shouldn’t it apply to him? What is special about this man that he should flaunt our restrictions while others are punished justly for them?”
“His life is mine to give or take, as is your counsel. Go on to other topics, you won’t receive anything that will satisfy you with this one.”
Dain began to argue back, but he sensed a gravity in her that he didn’t understand. She wouldn’t be moved on this matter, and Valledia had her reasons even if she wouldn’t share them. She was as stubborn and logical a creature as he had ever met.
“Fine, to this truce then. The priests say that the Elohim are withdrawing from their war with the Infernals.”
“The Infernals are not as weak as some suppose, if they are agreeing to peace with the Elohim then it is only because they wish to carry on battle somewhere else. The Elohim are a powerful force and they must see easier targets to feed upon, the Bannor, the Lanun, or us.”
Valledia waited to see if he would continue with his logic, but for all of his arcane skill he had a disappointing inability to anticipate the future.
“The priests are right, at least on this, the Elohim have already agreed to peace. What would you have me do about it?”
“We need to go to Cahir Abbey and meet with Einion, to talk him into resuming this war.”
“Do you think that we could convince Einion to go back on his word? To forfeit a signed deal because if he doesn’t sacrifice Elohim lives we might have to sacrifice Amurite ones? Or do you think that even attempting to do that will not only fail but draw the Infernals wrath at our attempt, and we will have the war you fear so much.”
Dain began pacing. Although shortsighted at times he was an Amurite and once presented with a logical argument he would consider it carefully. He reached out to a burning brazier that hung in the chamber and his finger cut the smoke into twin plumes. At Dain’s silent command the smoke gathered and formed itself into two images, one of Hyborem and the other of Einion. He studied both of them, looking for some sign of their nature in the fabricated images. He spoke slowly as he thought through each statement, trying to see if there was anyway to work around it and finding himself trapped by them.
“Einion won’t break his truce. Hyborem will attack another civilization. If that civilization is us, we will likely die. Do we have something Hyborem wants, something we could trade for peace if we needed it?”
“What would a demon want except to kill?”
“Is there a reason you suspect that he will attack the Lanun or the Bannor instead of us?”
“No, like most predators he will go after the weakest of his targets, that is us. Ready your wizards for war, it will come to us. Slip the firebows from the coastal borders to those we share with the Infernals.”
Dain nodded, understanding the situation. Understanding that diplomacy was lost, he turned his mind to war.
“I will begin to train adepts to sanctify the land, no doubt we will be facing the taint. We may want to consider a show of support for the Order, they could be strong allies soon.”
“You are right, I will handle the Order, stay to your mages.”
“I should go, I have much to do.”
Valledia nodded and Dain turned to leave. She stopped him before he left the chamber.
“Dain, I have foreseen this war and moved to save us from it. Though the night will be long, morning will come. The Elohim will rejoin the war, as they have borne a great enmity against the Infernals and wont be able to watch us fall to them. When the Infernals have taken our border cities and march toward our capitals we will go to them, talk of those we have lost, and they will break their truce and join us.”
“They bear no love for us. Their hatred for the Infernals must be greater than I imagined.”
Valledia only nodded.
“He was our father in every way, our protector, and teacher. He raised our civilization from the shadows of humanity that was left after Mulcarn’s triumph. He did this by the giving of his blood. In battle he bled alongside our armies, and when no other mortal dared go further he walked on alone. But he also shared his blood with us through his children. There were many, by multiple wives and each bore a mark of his unique heritage. These children were as men from the Age of Magic, and the power of that age coursed through them. After the fall of the white hand, after Kylorin left us, the legacy of the generations that came from him are his eternal gift to the Amurites.”
—on Children of Kylorin
At my hand the first empire of man was won
For me long faithful men bled and died
Yet I was the one to which this treachery was done
This truth I knew but my timid lips denied
That a disloyal heart each night beside me lied
My queen who spent her love upon another man
That heart, which I desired most, I could not command
To flee that gilded hell I sacrificed my life
From the tower into empty night I’d fly
What pain is death compared to a faithless wife?
What hope exists to one who’d rather die?
So I stood upon the parapet and cried
“Come death, rend my flesh, gather my soul
Tear from me, this tragedy, this gaping hole”
No answer came from the chill November night
Only wind and echoes from a city far below
Until from deep within the pale moonlight
Came a goddess wreathed in a pallid glow
“Answer me, most mortal king, for I would know
If I returned your love and you weren’t dead
Would you forget your oaths and follow me instead?”
I’m not mad enough to think that burning spirits can
Remake this loss, restore my past undone
And you cannot make us understand
That with even the most silvered tongue
Loves remains can never love become
Or heart won through cheat is ever truly got
Or that this pain would cease if mind forgot
If you’ve no hope left then leap to death
Else hear my words and enter this shadowed door
But I promise even if you don’t draw breath
This pain will follow you to Arawn’s shores
And in death you will possess hatred even more
For I know the dead; they are wounds unhealed
And if you leap now, to this your fate is sealed
So came I to learn from the Goddess of Pain
Ceridwen, breaker of men, maiden of the mask
Many aspects she has and more vile names
She taught me how to avenge my past
And have my wife reborn so that our love might last
Sorcery, her gift to me, would sustain my life
And instead of death would reincarnate my wife
Born anew I could find and woo my wife again
Her mistake erased I’d have my perfect queen
With her death and newfound life she’d make amends
And I would remain forever as a king
In time the happiness she’d bring
Would make worthwhile this twisted sacrifice
For Ceridwen’s gift had come at a price
Two hundred years I stayed as undying king
My lands, once fair, ruled now by arcane might
Through generations of my people and my queen
I alone remained and changed to Ceridwen’s delight
A cruel terror who commanded flame, death and night
I demanded that every man should come to obey
The least of my desires, which grew each passing day
Another Eve had passed, this time by my hand
After a break of years I went to seek her out
I found a young woman working on my lands
I approached and told her all about
The bond between us but she had only fear and doubt
Those eyes, once trusting, were now full of tears
Seeing the monster I’d become in all these years
She destroyed me in the centuries before
And now thought for this I was the one to blame
I returned to the life she now claimed to abhor
And left her in the fields her life unchanged
I approached her reborn forms but it was the same
Always revulsion at what I had become
And through any lie her heart remained unwon
My mages maintained Ceridwen’s demands
Most of which had been trained by me
My kingdom destroyed by my own hands
The first empire of man a cruel magocracy
Devoted to Ceridwen, enforced by sorcery
And I alone remembered times more fair
It was far more than my guilty heart could bare
In the deepest darkest dungeons of Patria
I consulted with the imprisoned priests
Who praised a banned goddess, Nantosuelta
And learned how to summon Ceridwen’s Nemesis
The raging goddess of faith destroyed my metropolis
Leaving only me alive to explain my treachery
I became the first high priest of a new theocracy
A bloody rebellion started, which I led
My empire became an arcane battleground
As the gods had warred now man did instead
Landscapes were lost, forests, mountains, towns
Untold numbers unto Arawn’s shores were bound
In the end the great empire of man was gone
From it only shattered fragments would carry on
As ages pass these countries war against
Each other, forgetting once they were as one
Or how their bitter squabbling commenced
With an ancient love betrayed their war begun
Loves remains can never love become
The same is true for kingdoms split apart
Warring nations shattered by my heart
What of my queen across these centuries?
At times I spy her as our fates entwine
Sharing a few words or lives married
Occurring unforced as allowed by time
Love’s strongest bonds are those that loosest bind
Her life to me, and mine spent trying to repay
My debt of sin to the men my acts betrayed
“The Khazad have withdrawn into the earth, and the ore follows them.”
“Strike well, you not only craft a sword but the will of gods and the salvation of our world.”
—on Reforging of the Godslayer
“Despite the teaching of Ceridwen, the power of sorcery is available to any who would claim it. It isn’t just the force of our oppression, but the tool of our liberation.”
“I had a dream of a city plunged into the abyss, a place of eternal night and fire. Those people, surrounded by demons, are fighting to return to creation. They have hope in a barren world and memories of the joys of this world. “Yet here we stand in their paradise and see nothing but loss around us. You have not seen victory beyond a single successful hunt, and often too many days between those. The empire of men has been broken, but we will reforge it here. We will fight through this world and claim it again for men, and if those in hell do return there will be a world here worth their efforts.”
—speaking to the Amurite army at the battle of Adenshire
“The priests of Sirona tell you to show compassion, to give to those who are suffering. But Temeluchus requires more devotion than that. We cannot appease our guilt by dropping a few coins into a beggar’s cup and then return to our own lavish homes. To truly share the burden we must suffer as the least among us. We must become as poor as the beggar, as weak as the sick, and as helpless as our own prisoners.
How can you fear suffering when there are those just outside your door that do it every day? It is better for you to bleed with them than to live above them!”
The crowd cheered. They were a mix of voluntary poor and the normal Patrian lower class, those that had attended before and those hearing the message for the first time. Some of the devout began to break open rough sores along their arms, allowing their blood to flow down onto their hands. Most had done it so many times that their forearms were stained brown.
Laroth was still disgusted by that part of the religion, but compared to the trials of physical pain, giving a few more gold coins seems a small loss. The man who isn’t willing to sacrifice his blood gives more gold in guilty compensation, but the man willing to destroy his own flesh will give everything he owns without thought.
As they had many times before the crowd quickly filled Laroth’s donation plates. Laroth stayed after, talking to the fanatical that regaled him with increasingly horrific stories of their own self-mutilation. Laroth made no comment to his own suffering, though most supposed it was great and they enviously eyed the dark stains that slipped from his robe and covered up both of his hands. Though they had no idea it was only the stains from a daily wash of beet juice. There was no reason to make sacrifices to a god Laroth made up himself.
When the crowd was finally gone there were only two left in the small shrine to Temeluchus, a man in a deep green cloak, and an odd boy sitting beside him who wore a pumpkin colored shirt. The boy was thin, awkward and unwilling to meet Laroth’s gaze when he looked at him. The man was powerfully built, and his clothes were richly detailed. Laroth was surprised he didn’t notice him during the sermon, as he had a talent for noticing wealthy listeners, though Laroth sensed a greater power in him than just his wealth.
The richly appointed man lowered the hood of his cloak to reveal his face. It was an easy one to recognize as it was on statues all across Patria. It was the Patrian king, Kylorin.
“My king,” Laroth stammered. “I am honored that you would grace this small temple of Temeluchus.”
“The honor is mine, you are a powerful speaker and I found your sermon inspirational.” He answered. Then after a pause he added, “Wasn’t this a shrine to Arawn a few weeks ago?”
Laroth pretended to think as Kylorin rose and walked up to the front. The boy followedin his shadow.
“Yes, I believe it was. Though why the fine citizens of Patria would want to throw gold into graves is beyond me. I think the priest was just keeping the donations for himself.”
“Indeed,” Kylorin said with a smile.
Laroth suddenly remembered he was talking to the king and added a quick, “Yes, I mean, of course your majesty.” And then gave a slight bow.
The boy scoffed, rolling his eyes at the genuflecting preacher.
Laroth raised his head to smile at the boy, that smile that had won over so many. Laroth wasn’t an attractive man, he was spindly and bookish even in his late twenties. But men and women alike couldn’t help but feel calm and comforted by his presence.
But that was not how the boy reacted. The boy became enraged and leapt at Laroth. Laroth was so surprised that stepped back and tripped over the short railing around the altar sending both of them tumbling down in a clumsy pile of knees and elbows.
“You’re a donkey, you’re a donkey,” the boy yelled irrationally.
In the confusion those words were all that Laroth could hear, feel or see. The world melted away until that was the only concept left in it. Laroth brayed loudly at the attacking boy, then rolling over onto all fours he began kicking wildly. His second kick caught the boy in the stomach and knocked him back over the railing where Kylorin caught him.
“Henri! Stop it!” the king yelled.
The delusion of being a donkey disappeared and Laroth found himself hunched on all fours by the altar. He hadn’t been physically changed, but for those few seconds he truly believed he was a donkey. Embarrassed, he picked himself up.
“That boy, he did something to me!” Laroth said.
Henri smiled, though his ribs still hurt he really enjoyed the sight of the braying and bucking preacher.
“Perhaps,” Kylorin said. “Though it could be said that you attacked him first.”
Laroth didn’t comment.
Kylorin continued, “You convert a lot of people to your god. Many disciples go out and try to spread the message you have given them. They repeat your sermons but few convert to them. And after you leave a town the faithful always drift off and forget your message. Men so devoted that some punish themselves to the point of death gradually turn back to normal lives. Have you ever wondered why?”
Laroth winced when Kylorin mentioned the deaths. It was unfortunate that some took the message too far. Especially those who were closest to him, the longer he stayed in one area the more likely the fanatical deaths were. That was why he moved from city to city every few months.
“I assume that I am blessed by Temeluchus. That I am the one he has chosen to spread his message.”
The boy scoffed again. Kylorin had stopped smiling.
“That cannot be,” Kylorin said, “because Temeluchus isn’t real. You made him up. So then why do people so eagerly convert to your message, and ignore it from others?”
“Temeluchus is a great god, during the Godswar he…” Laroth started, ready to defend his god as he did many times to visiting priests and fanatics of other religions.
Kylorin interrupted, “Your son, didn’t he serve as an acolyte in your services?”
Laroth felt his passionate defense melt away, he only nodded to the question.
“He was young,” Kylorin said, “eleven or twelve years old. You were training him in your craft, teaching him to evangelize as you do. You had even told him the truth, that there was no Temeluchus, so that he wouldn’t be in danger. What happened to his mother?”
Laroth looked at the ground, unwilling to meet the king’s eyes. “She was one of my first converts, I was really little more than a boy myself at the time. She died in worship to Temeluchus.”
“So you raised your son on your own until he was old enough to work for you. He must have heard hundreds of sermons. But you thought that if he knew the truth, he would be safe. But even though you told him the truth, even though he saw you pocket the donations every night, even though he listened to you laugh at the gullible worshippers that came to your sermons, he still believed. And in secret he was worshiping Temeluchus. But you didn’t know until you found him dead.”
Laroth broke down, dropping his head into his hands he sobbed and his sorrow flooded out of him, through the shrine and out into the city. Henri was also overcome and started crying as did many within blocks of the temple.
Kylorin braced himself. He was guarded from the energy Laroth was radiating but even he hadn’t expected how unintentionally powerful the preacher was. Kylorin knew Laroth had an amazing talent for spirit magic, that he would make a powerful archmage, but he hadn’t expected it to flow so easily from the bookish preacher. Even through Kylorin’s protections he felt the grip of his own sadness, though he quickly pushed it away.
Kylorin placed a hand on Henri’s shoulder, breaking the spell and the boy recovered from his sobs. Though angry, Henri was too exhausted by the flood of emotion and simply sat down in the front pew.
In a few minutes Laroth regained his composure.
“Why did you keep preaching after your son’s death?” Kylorin asked, unwilling to let the painful subject go.
“I stopped for a while,” Laroth answered, wiping off his face with the sleeve of his robe. “But I’m not suited to be a farmer or cobbler. It’s really all I do well. What else do I have to lose?”
Kylorin and Laroth talked for the rest of the night. Kylorin explained magic, explained Laroth’s power and offered him the opportunity to learn to control it. By morning the shrine was empty. Though it would quickly be occupied by some random cult or religion, the worship of Temeluchus was over.