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The Kingdoms

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The Five Kingdoms

For many centuries the survivors Maarin had lead to the new lands were primarily concerned with surviving and building up their civilizations.

The humans and some demi-humans formed theKingdomofMaarin, named after their savior. These people built their towns along the coast and river. Most of the humans had been fishermen when they had been enslaved by the Dersatti. They used the skills they had learned to set up an effective fishing fleet and the people were well fed, enabling the population to grow rapidly.

The elves headed into the thick and ancient forest and persuaded the trees to grow into the city ofSilverarnus. The elves, as always, lived in harmony with the land and traded with the humans of Maarin.

The gnoll warriors, lead by General Gnurmesh, set out into the woods as well. There they hacked out a fortress city and set out to dominate the land around them. Having only been savage warriors for the Dersatt, the gnolls were ill-equipped for surviving. Maarin aided them extensively and taught them how to raise animals for food. The gnolls wanted to wage war to gain slaves and food, but Maarin deterred them from doing this.

The Moraks, Ur-Moraks and Orcs banded together and went into the mountains to dig mines and dwelling places. They were lead by General Habrok, who became their first king. The orderly and militant Ur-Moraks took charge of the society and built an orderly civilization. While the Ur-Moraks had served as soldiers, they fully grasped the concept of logistics and supplies. This enabled them to survive and thrive. The more chaotically inclinced orcs found the order of the hogoblins somewhat oppressive, but did value the availability of food.

The dwarfs and gnomes also headed into the mountains, led by the master smith Adrabben. He led his people well and they created a marvelous city within the mountains. They traded iron and steel goods with the humans for food.

Inspired by the goodness of Maarin and Laarin, some of the more enlightened people of the new kingdoms created Caer Maarin-a mighty fortress of goodness and mercy. Those of the Order of Maarin devoted themselves to maintaining peace, justice and order in the tradition of Maarin.  Fighters, rangers and Paladins were drawn to this order. The order of Laarin devoted itself to mercy and healing in the tradition of Laarin. Clerics, druids and some less militant paladins were drawn to this order.

Although the members of the order were mostly humans, in accord with the policies and actions of Maarin and Laarin the two Orders helped all of the races. The people of Maarin were happy to accept their aid while the more proud dwarfs and elves were less inclined to do so. The goblins and gnolls, already returning to their more evil ways, were inclined to refuse almost all aid from the Orders. Out of their enduring respect for Maarin and Laarin, even the gnolls did not attempt to harm the peaceful members of the Order of Laarin.

The five kingdoms grew and their borders expanded until they ran up against each other. The humans of Maarin allied themselves with both Adrabben and Silverarnus and agreed to maintain peaceful trade. The Gnolls of Gnurmesh raided the elves and the goblin kingdom. In reply, the elves and goblins launched reprisal attacks against the gnolls. When not dealing with the gnolls, the goblins made occasional forays against the dwarfs and thekingdomofMaarin.

For the most part the battles were fairly small scale and no attempts were made by any of the sides to actually wipe out the others. Matters might have continued in this way for centuries if outsiders had not arrived.

 

The Empire

About 1,000 years ago, explorers from the Ventanni Empire learned about the Five Kingdoms. The Empire began by sending in spies to learn as much as they could. Based on the information gathered, the Empire decided to send a battle fleet to awe the inhabitants. Seeing the power of the Empire, the Five Kingdoms decided to accept the offer to become allies of the Empire. Islands on the coast were granted to the Empire and Imperial towns or cities were built upon them.

For centuries the Empire dominated the region and the Four Kingdoms adopted many of the ways of the Empire. Despite the many benefits of being assimilated into the Empire, the Five Kingdoms elected to remain allies. Imperial authorities considered taking the kingdoms by force of arms, but decided that it was acceptable for them to remain as allies.

 

The Five Kingdoms

Less than 700 years ago, as the Empire began its slide into corruption and decay, agents of Caer Maarin determined that great evil was at work within the Empire. These agents, in accord with the Way of Maarin, warned the rulers of the Five Kingdoms.

The rulers of Maarin, Adrabben and Silerarnus were quite worried about the reports from Caer Maarin and wisely began preparing for the trouble that was foreseen. The ruler of Habrok was not terrible concerned about the evil, but found the reports of corruption, chaos and decadence appalling to his sense of order and discipline. He decided to further expand his armies in secret and began laying down plans for battle. The gnolls of Gnurmesh found the idea of a corrupt Empire very appealing. However, the wiser gnolls reminded the leaders of their history-they had been enslaved by a corrupt empire and would have perished in its destruction had it not been for Maarin and Laarin. Thus, while some gnolls partook in the corruption, most of them followed their leaders and began preparations for the disaster they were sure would be brought down upon the Empire.

Despite the attempts at secrecy, Imperial spies learned that the Five Kingdoms were stockpiling supplies and preparing defenses. Assuming that the Five Kingdoms were planning a rebellion, the Empire sent a mighty fleet and an army to the area.

Seeing that the might of the Empire would soon be turned against the Five Kingdoms, one of the best Knights of Maarin who was also the heir to the throne of theKingdomofMaarin, came up with a plan. This knight, Althen the Just, told the leader of the Imperial forces, Sharras, that the Five Kingdoms wished to develop a new relation with the Empire and that they were simply enhancing their strength to show their worth. To reassure the Imperials, Althen agreed to go to the Empire as a sign of the good will of the kingdoms (and as a hostage).

Sharras was apparently quite taken with the young paladin and she brought him to her family lands after the army was withdrawn from the Five Kingdoms.

Although exactly what happened to Althen in the lands of the Empire is unknown to the scribes of the Five Kingdoms, his fate soon became all too clear.

A few years after his departure, Althen returned to theKingdomofMaarinwith Sharras. Upon his arrival, he announced that he was engaged to Sharras and that they had returned to his home to be married. While the crowds went wild, some of Althen’s friends in the Knights of Maarin were quite concerned. Sharras’ masked guards had carefully, albeit politely, kept them from approaching or speaking to Althen. That night it became all to clear why this had been done.

While the exact details are known only to those involved in the horrible deeds, that night Althen murdered his family while they slept. In horrible irony, he used the king’s holy weapon, Ashurrel, to commit the deeds. Ashurrel, the Just Blade, had been given to Althen’s ancestors by Maarin himself and was considered one of the greatest weapons of goodness in the land. Legend says that Althen threw the blood stained blade into the sea.

While Althen slew his family, the servants of Sharras opened the city gates and assassinated key targets in the city. After the gates were opened, dark ships sailed up to the docks and spewed forth an army of silent, masked soldiers.

In the morning, the inhabitants of the capital city ofHollemcemawoke not to a day of celebration, but to horror. The once proud city had been brought low and the blood of the best stained the city. The bodies of Althen’s former comrades were pulled through the streets by fell horses that spewed forth blood and fire. They had died bravely protecting the innocent and had inflicted terrible losses on their foes before being cut down by overwhelming numbers.

Althen and Sharras were married that day.

 

Blood of the King

Althen claimed the kingship of Maarin and he and Sharras no doubt believed that fear would lead the people of Maarin to accept his rule. In some cases they were right, but most of the people refused to accept his claim to the throne.

One of the surviving clerics, the high priest Kelteb, was brought before Althen and commanded to tell the people that Althen was the rightful king. Kelteb refused, saying that Althen was a foul murderer and hence could never sit on the throne of Maarin. Althen had Kelteb slowly strangled for his defiance.

However, Althen found that Kelteb had spoken truly. When he attempted to grasp the tokens of kingship and sit on the throne, he was horribly burned by holy fire. Sharras decided that this did not matter for they would simply take the land by force and slaughter all who denied his kingship.

The elves and dwarfs, informed of the true story, refused to accept Althen as king and prepared their kingdoms for battle. Won over by Sharras’ persuasive minions, the gnolls of Gnurmesh accepted Althen’s claim and sent troops to aid him. Surprisingly, the King of Habrok refused to acknowledge Althen. Not only had the hobgoblin King Hechos respected King Kalthen he also believed that the person claiming to be Althen was an imposter. After all, no Knight of Maarin had ever fallen into depths that even a hobgoblin would find appalling.

The citizens of Maarin who did not heed Althen’s call rallied behind General Jethon, a noble leader who had been reviewing border troops when the capital fell. Jethon’s forces set out to retake the capital.

Lacking clear orders, many of the Imperial forces in the area were reluctant to become involved in what their leaders saw as a potentially very bloody civil war. But, at the behest of Sharras, substantial forces arrived to support Althen.

Once again, then, war had come to the land.

 

The Seven Kingdoms

The forces of General Jethon, supported by hobgoblin soldiers, put up a valiant fight against the forces of Althen and Sharras. They pressed onward until they were at the very gates of the city.

Sharras, who had been using all her abilities to sway the Imperial leaders, finally convinced them to take action on her behalf. Imperial forces landed on the coast and pushed back the forces of Jethon. They also began pushing into theKingdomofHabrokand established forces on the borders of Adrabben and Silverarnus to deter them from becoming involved.

Jethon’s forces and theKingdomofHabrokheld on for over a year against the might of the Empire but it seemed that their defeat was inevitable. It is then that the Cataclysm fell upon the Empire.

Terrible energies ripped through the Imperial cities and town on the islands, striking down the wicked and then raising many of them up again as undead horrors. Those who had not given into the corruption and evil fled to the sea.

Hollemcem, though tainted with evil, was not part of the Empire and hence was not struck by the full force of the Cataclysm. It is said that Althen and Sharras were transformed by the Cataclysm as were their most devoted followers. The Imperial forces were largely broken and scattered, although some of them fled to the north, eventually meeting up with other survivors from the Imperial cities. There they began a new kingdom and named it Rykos after the Imperial General who established order among the survivors. This became known as the sixth kingdom.

Jethons forces, though badly weakened by the years of warfare, were able to secure the remainder of the Kingdom. They made a foray against Hollemchem, but the scouting forces returned with tales of horror. It was then decided that Hollemchem was a place best avoided. Althen and Sharras still reigned there, but seemed to be unable or unwilling to extend their power far beyond the city.

Thus did the seventh kingdom, the Accursed Lands of Althen, arise.

 

The Regency

The kingdoms of Gnurmesh, Rykos, Habrok and Maarin grew during the period of relative peace that followed the fall of the Empire. There were some minor incidents, but major battles and wars were not the order of the day. After all, Habrok, Maarin and Gnurmesh had been devastated, Hollemchem was an accursed city, and the people of Rykos were quite busy trying to create a civilization in the wilderness. In the tradition of Maarin and Laarin, Caer Maarin sent all the aid it could spare to those in need, thus earning the goodwill of many. The people of Rykos, out of appreciation for the aid received, agreed to respect the Truce of Maarin.

About two hundred years ago, scouts from Transal and Shevar arrived in the lands of the Seven Kingdoms. Transal established ties to Maarin, Adrabben and Silverarnus while Shevar forged ties to Rykos and Habrok. Having had bad experiences with gnolls and cursed cities, Shevar and Transal do not become involved with Gnurmesh or Holemchem.

While Shevar and Transal engaged in some conflicts, the Seven Kingdoms do not become involved. Shevar and Transal eventually became allies and, about one hundred years ago, formed the Regency.

The Regency, eager to re-establish the Empire, stepped up its diplomatic activities in the region. Rykos became an ally of the Regency and agreed to consider joining. The other kingdoms maintained cordial relations with the Regency. Their past experiences with the Empire made them somewhat wary and they began preparing for possible trouble.

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Written by Michael LaBossiere

December 20, 2011 at 7:08 pm

The Story of Maarin

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Untold eons ago, reality was called forth from nothingness and the ruling Principles gave rise to the gods. The gods shaped reality in their images and brought forth their first servants. These servants were beings of pure spirit and were untainted by matter.

While these beings served their divine masters well, the gods desired more. They shaped the primal matter of reality and created planets and stars. Some of the gods chose to focus their attentions on a promising world, that of Aerth. They shaped the lands and called up mountains. They filled the empty plains with water, thus creating the oceans. Then they decided to create beings to dwell in this world.

The first race they called forth was created in contrast to their spiritual servants. These beings were created out of matter. The gods shaped them as perfectly as matter could be shaped and gave them great powers and vitality. These beings were called Dersatti and were placed on a great island, Karatharth, on Aerth. The Dersatti decided upon a republic and set about creating a civilization of great art, learning, culture and wisdom.

While these beings pleased the gods, they found that their desires were still unfulfilled. Driven by some innate need, the gods shaped new races by mixing matter and spirit. The gods shaped these beings in their own images, thus giving rise to a diversity of races. It is said that the true dragons were the first race created and then other beings of great power. The gods then turned to creating the lesser beings.

Legend says that the elves were the first of the new races to be created and they were given great vitality and insights into the power of magic. They were placed within the vast forests of the world and developed a love of beauty and nature.

Next, it is said, the dwarfs and their kin the gnomes were created. The bodies of the first dwarfs were created from matter taken from the very bones of the greatest mountains. As such, these beings inherited the strength of stone and feel at home in the depths of stone.

Man, some say, was created third. His span of years was not as great as the elves and he lacked the strength of the races of stone. Man was, however, the most adaptable and ambitious of the races.

At first, the legends say, the ancient Dersatti gladly mentored the new races and showed them the path towards civilization. Relatively few in number and reproducing slowly, the Dersatti sent forth a handful of ambassadors and guides to the new races and invited the best and the brightest of these races to their island.

For many years, the world enjoyed a great golden age. The noble Dersatti spread their culture and teachings and the new races thrived.

But this golden age did not endure. In their greatness, the Dersatti had one great flaw. Though they were beings of the most noble matter, they lacked spirit. So, the death of the body was the end of a Dersatti. Given their great lifespans and incredible toughness, the Dersatti did not worry much about this at first. But, as the centuries went by, some of the Dersatti began to worry greatly about death and turned their attention towards developing a solution. At first, their attempts were noble and yielded many medical arts and powerful healing magic.

As time went on and the eldest Dersatti began to feel death approaching, some of them turned to more desperate measures. It is said that some of them developed necromancy and their experiments created the first undead to plague Aerth.

These Dersatti also began to develop a taste for power and dominion. The once gentle guiding hand of the Dersatti turned to a pushing hand and then, after many years, to a crushing grip. It is written that the Dersatti brought war to the world as they began to construct an empire. At first they trained the new races in the art of battle and then the worst of them changed the new races to create more militant and brutal races. This, the ancient tales say, is the origin of the Moraks, Ur-Moraks, Orcs and other races that are but twisted mockeries of the true races.

The fallen Dersatti waged war through their mortal armies and thus soaked Aerth with blood. Some of the Dersatti remained true to their noble origins and strove against their fallen brethren and thus the wars of dominion turned into a brutal civil war.

This war brought horror and devastation to the world. The civilizations that the Dersatti had uplifted were brought down in ruin and their people were enslaved. The noble Dersatti that survived were forced into hiding and wept at their failure.

Although the Dersatti had enslaved most of the world, they still had not conquered death. Having lost all scruples and decency the fallen Dersatti renewed their necromantic researches with a demonic intensity. In their desperation, they did unspeakable things and earned the ire of many powerful beings, including the true dragons. These vile researches paid terrible dividends. It is said that the fallen Dersatti transformed themselves into necromantic horrors beyond the reach of death. Or so they believed.

Though the power of the fallen Dersatti, now known as Necrosatti, was great, they were not invincible. Though they crushed most of those who opposed them, they could not crush them all. Some free lands remained beyond their power. It is to some of those lands that the few surviving noble Dersatti journeyed. In those lands they continued their true path-teaching the new races and encouraging civilization.

The Necrosatti continued to fall even deeper into evil. The few living Dersatti who remained to serve them grew weaker and more decadent. It is said that the actions of the Necrosatti offended even some of the evil gods. The gods met and, after much debate, decided that the Dersatti would be purged from Aerth.

It is written that the gods sent a sign to Maarin, a noble Dersatti, of their intent to destroy Karathath and plunge it and the Necrosatti into the depths of the ocean. Maarin saw that the gods were willing to grant mercy to the mortals that had been enslaved by the Necrosatti and he was determined to be the instrument of that mercy.

As the island shook under the coming wrath of the gods, Maarin, his sister Laarin and their loyal friends arrived with a fleet of ships. They offered the slaves a chance at freedom and many of them were moved by Maarin’s words and elected to abandon their masters. Maarin and his sister led them to the ships and they fled the island as fast as they could. Maarin, moved by mercy, had rescued not only men, elves and dwarfs but also members of the monstrous races. Knowing that the survivors might turn to fighting among themselves Maarin had them swear the oath of peace: for the duration of the journey no one would raise a hand against anyone else. Such was the power of Maarin’s personality that his oath was taken and obeyed without exception.

The ships sailed for three days and finally arrived on the shores of a land that had not known the dominion of the Dersatti. The survivors decided they would go their own ways with each race taking a portion of land. Maarin and Laarin guided each race and offered them what help they could. These people set out to build kingdoms of their own and this effort kept them busy for many generations.

The hatred of the Necrosatti and the fallen Dersatti was burned into the souls of the once enslaved races. Legend has it that the few surviving fallen Dersatti used magic to change their very nature-they became creatures capable of shifting their forms so as to hide from the wrath of their former slaves. It is said that the mortal races would slaughter the fallen Dersatti on sight, should they recognize them.

Some of the enslaved races had become permanently changed by their experience and tainted by the evil of their masters. Some legends hold that this is the origin of many monstrous beings that trouble the world even now.

Maarin and Laarin provided guidance to the new kingdoms until their time came to an end. In an ironic turn of fate, the gods granted Maarin and Laarin immortality by elevating them into the ranks of the divine.

In gratitude for all the aid given them by Maarin and his sister, the people of the kingdoms agreed that each year there would be three days set aside to honor them. During this time the Truce of Maarin would be honored and no hand would be raised in violence.

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Written by Michael LaBossiere

December 20, 2011 at 7:05 pm

Posted in Sourcebook Material (Old)

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