The Birth of Time
THE BIRTH OF TIME
In the beginning there was the One creator. Such was his power that all he spoke and thought was Truth. When first he spoke he made a place of glory and a throne from which he could sit and view all of his creation. This place he named Heaven and his throne was called Order. The One spoke of a blue orb that rested on the arm of his throne. This orb he named Temporance and to it was given the power to control the flow of time.
THE AGE OF ANGELS
It was now that the One began to speak of new creations. Each one he created he gave a unique name and the twin gifts of life and free will. Each creation was created differently, but to the whole he gave the name Angels. There were 21 Angels created and each was appointed head of a divine precept.
Each Angel was made to serve the One and to serve the creations that would come after. For the first time other voices were heard as they began to sing and praise the One. The Angels were:
Lugus, Angel of Light
Sirona, Angel of Wisdom
Bhall, Angel of Fire
Nantosuelta, Angel of Faith
Nemed, Angel of Life
Amathaon, Angel of Fertility
Junil, Angel of Justice
Arawn, Angel of Death
Oghma, Angel of Knowledge
Danalin, Angel of the Water
Dagda, Angel of Balance
Kilmorph, Angel of the Earth
Sucellus, Angel of Nature
Tali, Angel of the Air
Camulos, Angel of Strength, who would become the Angel of Rage
Aeron, Angel of Peace, who would become the Angel of War
Ceridwen, Angel of the Stars, who would become the Angel of Magic
Mammon, Angel of Foresight, who would become the Angel of Greed
Esus, Angel of Trust, who would become the Angel of Deception
Mulcarn, Angel of Ice, who would become the Angel of Winter
Agares, Angel of Hope, who would become the Angel of Despair
Tanelorn, First City of the Immortals
THE BIRTH OF MAN
Heaven was full of many wonders, which the Angels spent centuries studying and praising. When the One felt them ready he commanded them to take flight outside the boundaries and to fill the vacuum with creations that mirror those of Heaven. He gave them the power of creation. So the Angels set off in every direction, creating as it pleased them a host of worlds true and good that would serve the One.
When the creation was done there was a variety of worlds and a nearly endless array of life upon them. Each Angel created a world in their own preference. All the Angels contributed to a common world which was their greatest creation.
Although all manner of life and substance had been created, the Angels wished to create something greater than their individual aspects. Together the Angels agreed to create a race of men that would receive a gift from each of them. This race would be directly descended from the Angels. Nemed agreed to sacrifice his precept and become the father of this new race. His precept, that of Life, was given over to Arawn. The Angels created an immortal female named Gabella to serve as Nemed’s wife.
The One entered creation where he stood upon a white stone slab and viewed all things. Seeing this work as good, the One took back the power of creation from the Angels.
THE FALL OF AGARES
Unknown to the other Angels, and some say even to the One himself, Agares was unwilling to lose the power of creation. Knowing he could not hope to prevent this loss and that he would be left only with the power to manipulate what already existed, he used the power while he had it to create infinite wells of raw elements: air, earth, fire, water, life and death. At the center of these infinite reaches he placed gems secreted out of heaven itself. When the power of creation was revoked by the One, Agares still had enough matter and energy to continue creating until the end of time.
Agares continued creating in his own world, which he called Nyx, using his infinite planes of elements, life and death. He created Nyx not after the fashion of Heaven, but as he desired. The creatures of this world were not told of other Angels or the One, and Agares commanded they worship him alone. Nyx was a world painted in black and gold, a shadowy reflection of heaven, where the precept of hope controlled every aspect of existence. Dreams, desire, worship, and want ruled the shallow creatures that inhabited this beautiful world.
The other Angels noticed that Agares continued creating. Agares claimed it was cruel to take the power of creation away. The One was jealous that the creations of his Angels had outshone Heaven itself! Six Angels eager to regain the power of creation sided with Agares. He showed them how to create using the infinite planes of elemental matter and energy. These Angels were Camulos, Aeron, Ceridwen, Mammon, Esus and Mulcarn.
It was then that the One intervened. Seeing Agares’ blasphemy, he sought to remove it. By this point however, Agares’ taint had spread through all of creation. Nothing existed that would still exist if the One removed the evil from it. Unwilling to destroy creation, the One cast all the Angels out of Heaven, to live among creation. The One tasked the Angels still loyal to him with protecting creation and guiding it toward enlightenment until the day he returned to separate the good from the evil.
Those Angels who followed Agares opposed the One’s decree and took up arms against the Angels loyal to him. From this point on the Angels that fell were known as evil by men, those that opposed them and were charged with protecting mankind were known as good, and those tasked with maintaining the functions of creations besides man were known as the Angels of Neutrality.
Agares, Angel of Despair
After exiling all of the Angels from Heaven, the One sundered the path between Heaven and Creation so that none but him could pass between them. In response to this all the Angels, except Agares, created a host of new Angels to serve them. The first they created was their archangel, and behind them thousands more to spread their will across creation. The archangels were:
Amathaon—Maponos the Young
Sucellus—Cernunnos (“the great horned one”, who would become the god of nature after Sucellus was killed by Mulcarn)
Bhall— Brigit the Shining
Sirona—Pelian the Suffering
Arawn—Gyra and Basium (the twins)
Tali—Leucetious (Bringer of Storms)
Ceridwen—Kanna, Mistress of Pain
Camulos—The Avatar of Wrath
Aeron—Odio (who was imprisoned by Kilmorph during the Age of Dragons)
Mammon—Hastur, Lord of Nightmares
Mulcarn—Taranis the Unchanging
Agares—none (until the later creation of Hyborem, Lord of the Balors)
But Agares, not satisfied to play the One’s game, did the opposite. He returned to Nyx and destroyed everything there, every creature he had created, every city that had been built. In one burst of power the beautiful world of Nyx was reduced to ash. The world lies to this day barren and devoid of true life. It is named the deepest hell and none would suspect that it was once a world of surprising life.
Gabella mirrored the rebellion of Agares by refusing to endure her role as a subordinate to man. She fled from Nemed and found sanctuary in the Bair of Lacuna, a pocket dimension created by Ceridwen. Future generations of men had the gift of immortality taken from them. But still their divine birthright makes their soul immortal, even if their body fails. It is this connection to the divine, through the Angel Nemed, that allows men to channel the power of the Angels and allows their souls to pass on after death.
At the sixth generation of men, Os-Gabella returned from Lacuna and stole two children, Alexis and Flauros, to raise as her own. These children become the first vampires, killing others to sustain their life throughout the ages.
The Gods created a new wife for Nemed, Anesidora. These were the mother and father from which all humans are descended. Men and women lived in creation as innocents in a garden free from all evil. Other races such as elves, dwarves and orcs would arrive only in later ages.
AGE OF DRAGONS
The Angels of Creation began to style themselves gods. Unable to overcome their differences, they began to war across creation. As in all things, the god’s desires physically manifested. Their aggression was acted out by powerful creatures battling against one another. Dragons, giants, great elementals, and the gods themselves unleashed incredible magic that threatened to destroy creation. Mountains were created and destroyed, chasms and pits appeared like gaping scars, mythic monsters stalked the land.
During this time hundreds of angels succumbed to the whispers of Agares. These fell from service to the Angel that had created them. To this day Agares has more angels in his service than any other Angel, but none of them were created by his hand. Even his archangel, Hyborem, is a corruption of another.
Cernunnos, the great horned one, was the archangel of Sucellus. He dared to attack Agares directly. Agares picked up the powerful archangel and showed him visions of himself dark and corrupted. So powerful was the vision that it became real, splitting Cernunnos into two creatures. They were identical in form but the new creature, which Agares named Hyborem, was dark in aspect and colored in blood. Hyborem and Cernunnos fought but neither could defeat the other. As such, even the archangel of Agares was stolen from another. He is a perversion of the natural.
Sucellus and Danalin remained largely out of the fighting. Instead each tended to a group of humans that venerated them and became changed by the close presence of their god. For Sucellus these people became the Alfar, elves born to nature. Danalin’s people became the Aifons, merfolk able to live in the oceans as well as on land. Under the tutelage of their gods, both the new races soon established advanced civilizations.
Mankind, the greatest pride of the gods, was threatened with extinction. Immanuel Logos, a tribal leader, founded the Order of the Elohim at the close of this age to care for those injured in the Godswar. Thus was born the oldest continuous organization in human history. The Order of the Elohim survives even into the present day.
When it became obvious the Godswar threatened creation itself, Dagda called for the war to end. The gods met at Seven Pines to create the Compact, an agreement that the gods would withdraw and only interfere with creation through certain limited means. The Godslayer was forged as a physical manifestation of this agreement, a weapon capable of killing any god. The Gods retreated from creation to their vaults, unique heavens and hells fashioned before the secret of creation was reclaimed by the One.
The vaults of the evil gods are bound together. They are Seven Hells intertwined for one purpose: the forging of mortal souls into the Infernal. They are layered thus, from highest to lowest: Mulcarn, Mammon, Camulos, Aeron, Agares. The vaults of Esus and Ceridwen exist outside and throughout the other Hells. Bhall would not join the fallen gods until the end of the next age. Unique among the fallen gods, Bhall does not possess her own hell, but instead smolders in Nyx, the realm of Agares.
For some the Compact went too far. Basium, archangel of Arawn, rebelled and continued his battle against the Infernals regardless of the Compact. For others the Compact did too little. Cassiel, the archangel of Dagda, believed the gods should withdraw completely from creation instead of using men to fight their battles. Cassiel broke the Compact by entering creation to teach men to ignore the will of the gods.
AGE OF MAGIC
Without the destruction of the Godswar, man is able to form civilizations. A great empire of men is founded, Patria, and the people learn from and trade with the Alfar and the Aifons. The early tribes of man are slowly absorbed by this new empire.
The Patrian nation becomes strong. Basium’s battles are mostly in the vaults of heaven and hell. Cassiel is revered among the Patrians, who are more philosophical than religious. The children of Os-Gabella have learned to leech life from others to sustain their own. The vampires are a scourge to mankind and the only real predators to humanity. Children of the Godswar titans still roam the remote areas: lesser dragons, giants, krakens and other stranger beings. Despite these threats, this is the most peaceful time in man’s existence since the Godswar.
During the early-middle period of the Age of Magic, Kheldon Ki sculpts the dwarves from his prison home. The inanimate statues are given life by Kilmorph. The new race tunnels out over a few generations, exploring the underworld. They settle on hills near Patrian lands. After abuse by corrupt merchants, many retreat back to their tunnels, forming the unified nation of the Khazad. Other tribes stay on the surface, creating the Luchuirp nation (gnomes or ‘open-sky’ dwarves).
Kylorin becomes the leader of the Patrians. He is a wise and popular ruler, loved by his people. When his first wife betrays him, Kylorin considers suicide by jumping from the top of his palace. Ceridwen, goddess of magic, speaks to the young emperor, offering him another way out. She will give Kylorin eternal youth and have his wife resurrected in a new form each time she dies so that he may find and remarry her without the memory of her betrayal. The price is that Kylorin will worship Ceridwen and lead the Patrians according to her desires. Kylorin agrees.
Ceridwen, Angel of Magic
Ceridwen gifts Kylorin with eternal youth and teaches him magic. He becomes the first archmage and begins teaching others how to use magic to enforce his ever more corrupt rule over Patria. In a few generations his rule is absolute and vile. Sorcerers practice bizarre experiments, creating creatures like manticores, chimera, and trolls. Wizards rule their fiefdoms as gods among men. Kylorin personally trains 21 apprentices and puts each in charge of a separate magical school. These were the names of Kylorin’s students:
Body—Kezef (whose experiments killed all the animals on the Grigi plains)
Water—Trenton Majosi (Aifon)
Kylorin eventually becomes regretful of what he has done to the empire of men and prays for help. Nantosuelta answers those prayers. The vengeful goddess enters creation and destroys the capitol of Patria, but spares the repentant Kylorin. Dagda does not intervene – the Godslayer remains dormant. A new Godswar is narrowly averted, though the enmity between Ceridwen and Nantosuelta reaches legendary proportions. Now Kylorin is the prophet of the goddess of faith and war in addition to being the most powerful sorcerer in creation. Kylorin uses that power to lead a rebellion in his own empire. He sets about subduing or killing those sorcerers who refuse to repent, though some escape his purge.
Nantosuelta answers the prayers of Kylorin
Perpentach was a master of mind magic and a favored student of Kylorin. Kylorin was unwilling to kill him, imprisoning him instead in a dungeon in the Palus (the Tower of Eyes), guarded by unthinking golems. But Perpentach was more talented than Kylorin suspected, and was able to send his consciousness out wandering further and further from his prison. Searching, creating illusions and controlling minds miles from the dungeon in a process that strained him to the point of fracturing his mind. But he drew hundreds of men to his prison, made them fight and defeat the golems, release him, and declare him their ruler.
The war splinters the empire with Kylorin leading good religious forces against the creations and unholy magic of the sorcerers. By the end nine human nations have been formed; the Elohim, keepers of memories and guardians of the sacred parts of the world; the Bannor, keepers of the sacred fire and the greatest enemies of the sorcerers; the Malakim, desert nomads and men of faith; the Lanun, traders and seamen; the Hippus, horse lords and mercenaries; the Grigori, followers of Cassiel; the Balseraphs, lead by the sorcerer Perpentach; the Illians, who dwelt in the tundra and ravaged lands; and the Calabim, ruled by the first vampires Alexis and Flauros.
Kylorin ultimately triumphed over his enemies and established a new albeit much smaller Patrian empire. The great archmage combined the original 21 schools of magic into eight new schools to better regulate the practice of arcane magic wherever Patrian authority could reach. Yet there were still many powerful evils in the world. Outlaw sorcerers took refuge in remote lands and monsters roamed the wilderness now that their masters were dead. There were many jobs for adventurers willing to recover lost artifacts, hunt fell beasts or explore lost provinces. And there were incessant wars among the new kingdoms of man.
Toward the end of the Age of Magic, the Aifon mage Trenton Majosi set out on a quest to save his people. He returned with the only salvation possible, a ritual that would allow Danalin to enter creation and save his children. Rather than perform the ritual and risk a return of the Godswar, Trenton allowed the Aifons and himself to perish. The loss of his beloved children caused Danalin to withdraw, falling into a sleep from which he hasn’t yet woken.
Agares whispered to Bhall, the Angel of fire, and she eventually succumbed to his words. This was the end of the Age of Magic. That night the sky rained fire as Bhall fell from heaven. Men loyal to her were transformed into hideous goblinoid races, eventually uniting into the Clan of Embers. Braduk the Shining, capitol of the Bannor empire and holy city of Bhall, dropped with the fallen goddess into Hell.
The unused ritual discovered by Trenton Majosi found its way into Illians hands. They had no fear of a Godswar, since Bhall was responsible for opposing their patron deity Mulcarn. With Bhall fallen, their lord was unopposed. This dispossessed people snatched at the opportunity to have more than the scraps left to them by the rest of humanity.
The world was on the brink of armageddon. Although many seers and prophets immediately knew when the ritual began, few empires were able to intervene. Only the Luchuirp mustered a capable army. The gnomes were golem makers, so the blizzards and famines brought about by the Illian ritual affected their armies much less than those of other nations. The Luchuirp assailed the Illian capital with the full force of their battle machines, but they were too late. Just as their golems broke through the walls, Mulcarn entered creation. The Luchuirp army was wiped out with a whisper.
A permanent winter set in across creation.
The Citadel of Mulcarn
AGE OF ICE
The gods considered this breaking of the Compact. They were unwilling to restart the Godswar, but couldn’t let Mulcarn move into creation unchallenged. They agreed to let one god go into creation to fight Mulcarn. That god was Sucellus, the god of nature.
Sucellus entered creation and battled with Mulcarn. At the same time the elves turned on themselves. They had agreed to shared power between two queens, one ruling during summer and another during winter. The winter queen held power for years as winter showed no signs of ending. She refused to give up the throne. This precipitated a civil war between the Summer and Winter Courts. Those loyal to the winter queen called themselves the Svart-Alfar, or Dark Elves. Those who remained loyal to Sucellus became known as the Ljos-Alfar, or Light Elves.
Sucellus lost the battle and was killed by Mulcarn. Creation froze even further. The elves were forced to stop their civil war as they could no longer mobilize armies or travel. They took refuge in the hidden places of the world and waited for the winter to end.
The empires of man were crushed by the blizzards and the power of Mulcarn. A few scattered tribes remained, but even these were little more than animals on the edge of survival. All the advances of the Age of Magic were lost.
The Illians themselves lived better than most, but their god had little compassion. Even the children of Mulcarn were forced to forgo basic conveniences and technology in order to maintain the unchanging will of their winter god. Their priests and shamans learned to control the forces of winter to some extent and even derive sustenance from the frozen soil.
Other northern tribes gathered together into a new empire, the Doviello. These men embraced their bestial nature and became more like a pack of wolves than men. They served a use to Mulcarn, by hunting and killing enemy tribes and not interfering with the actions of the Illians. Since the Doviello had little interest in the advancement and change that Mulcarn abhorred, they were allowed to remain.
One corner of the world provided a respite from the unending winter. The fiery pit that had been the temple dedicated to Bhall held a small portion of her essence and so continued to burn, giving shelter to the orcs who prospered in their corner of the world. Meanwhile their Bannor kin, trapped in Hell, faced a constant struggle for survival. Junil admired their determination and sent his archangel Sabathiel to lead them out. They emerged late in the Age of Ice, in the heart of the orcish territory, sparking a rivalry that has persisted for generations. Sabathiel accompanied the Bannor into Creation. In so doing, the spirit if not the letter of the Compact was broken, presumably with the tacit approval of Junil.
Creation would have remained frozen indefinitely had Kylorin not returned. He gathered scattered tribes of men under one banner, the Amurites, and taught them the secrets of magic. He reforged the broken pieces of the Godslayer and took it into battle against Mulcarn, banishing the god from creation and ending the Age of Ice. Kylorin also perished. The Godslayer was retrieved by Dagda’s archangel and taken to a secret place for safekeeping.
Cassiel receives the Godslayer from Circia, 173rd daughter of Kylorin.
I was born to end an age of destruction. Dragons, angels, demons, leviathans, and mighty armies of the gods clashed as they struggled for advantage. Below, the earth trembled and man was locked into a terrifying existence he could not hope to comprehend.
The gods agreed on but one thing—should they continue their struggle across the face of creation, all their works would be lost. The spoils of their war, humans born of their cooperation at the dawn of time, would become extinct if an agreement was not reached.
So they came, one by one, to a distant corner of the world, until all 21 were assembled. The agreement was made, spelled out in the blood of each god. I was the manifest symbol of that covenant, and its enforcer: the Godslayer.
The oath each god made in turn bound their fate to me. Upon binding themselves to the Compact, the names of the gods became etched into my surface. Then they left, never to set foot personally in creation again, on pain of death. I was left in the care of a human warrior. Centuries passed. The Godslayer was used in battles and wars as any other blade. My purpose was forgotten and my pieces split apart from use and time, but my nature cannot be destroyed.
Mulcarn breaks his vow. Take me to him, for he has forfeit his existence and is sentenced to die upon my blade. Take me to him now.
AGE OF REBIRTH
Much like the Doviello of the prior age, men from various tribes began to gather under a dark banner. This time they are responding to a promise of arcane power. Lead by Tebryn Arbandi and Os-Gabella, they are called the Sheaim, powerful summoners who share their secrets openly. Their sorcerers and priests of the Veil finally succeed in weakening the walls of creation sufficiently for Hyborem, archangel of Agares, to break through. The archfiend is accompanied by a host of demons who quickly establish their Infernal empire upon the world’s new incarnation, arcanearth.
Basium, archangel of Arawn, enters arcanearth through the Mercurian Gate created by mages and high priests of the Bannor. Like Hyborem, Basium assumes a physical form to directly lead his new empire of angels and mortal followers. The celestial and infernal empires are relatively weak. Each seeks to outmaneuver the other through trade and alliances with the established mortal kingdoms.
Hastur, archangel of Mammon, invades the watery vault of Danalin. Finding the god still sleeping, Hastur begins whispering to him, causing nightmares that are reflected in creation. Mortals sensitive to these nightmares found the Cult of the Overlords. The Lanun are vulnerable to the Overlord’s promise of power over the wind and the waves.
Rebel angels and conquering fiends have come to arcanearth, imperiling the delicate balance of power and pushing the Compact to the breaking point. Each god hesitates to precipitate a new Godswar. They must strive for dominance through their worshipers and priests in the mortal realm. Meanwhile Dagda watches and waits.
Mercurian vs. Infernal