History of the Shadow World

OF THE HISTORY OF KULTHEA

Several different calendars have been in use over the ages, but only a few survive. Currently, most Loremasters mark the major divisions in ancient history as Eras. The First Era (“FE”) represents truly ancient history. Virtually all information about that Era is legendary and fantastic. The Second Era (“SE”) details events that are still ancient, but evidence for many events during that period exists. It is also possible that a few members of the very long-lived races (Elves, etc) still survive from that Era, but they are not generally very forthcoming about it. The current Era is the Third Era (“TE”). This Era is generally marked by human historical records, so is generally taken to be fact (given any distortions introduced by the historian, of course).

Fragmented tales are the only information available from the First Era. The annals of that Era recall the Lords of Orhan and the conflict which arose between them over the forming of the world.

It is widely believed that there were two groups of Lords, one led by Ûtha and the other who called Kadæna their mistress. After thousands of years, Kadæna and her followers developed the power to shape the land, and they began to modify their environment as they saw fit. It was not long before this came to the attention of Utha, for Kadæna’s idea of a fit environment was a land tortured by earthquakes and cut by rivers of lava. After many years of unsuccessfully attempting to control Kadæna’s whimsical destruction indirectly, Utha decided that the only way that the world would survive was through the death of Kadæna and obliteration of her evil order. Thus it was that the two met, each with the strongest of their kind. The ensuing struggle was one that shook the world to its core.

Continents sank; lands long under the seas were thrust up again. Entire races were destroyed by flame and tidal waves. At the end, when the great clouds and plumes of steam began to clear, every man and woman of each order was slain. Here again, however are conflicting tales. Some say that members of both groups escaped to hiding places far away, fearing that their side would be defeated and that they would be killed; they may be hiding still. Most scholars believe there is little question that both Utha and Kadæna were vanquished, for if they were still extant, their power would be felt. Thus ended the First Era.

The Second Era dawned with the slow healing of the lands and the gradual dispersal and condensation of the mile-high clouds of steam - mists generated from the evaporation of much of the waters of the oceans in the great fires and explosions each Order had cast upon the other. Slowly, plant life began to grow again on the new lands as they were cleansed by rains. Animal life recovered and multiplied. The levels of the sea rose, and lands which had been connected were sundered by new waterways. The few peoples who survived the cataclysm were without order or civilization, barely clinging to life itself.

Though this was a tranquil period for the world compared to the time of the battles of the Lords of Essence, the planet groaned and sighed as it settled into its new form. Winds and tides suddenly shifted; the orbits of the moons were unstable, and the flows of Essence were ever-changing, making travel anywhere perilous. The duration of this period is uncertain, but the Loremasters say that it lasted perhaps one hundred thousand years. It was in the last two thousand years of the Era that sudden and starting changes began to take place.

Without fanfare or apparent synergy (though all at approximately the same time), men who called themselves the Loremasters appeared across Kulthea. They wore many guises, spoke every tongue, and held knowledge critical to the survival of these infant peoples. No one but the Loremasters themselves know from where they came; Loremasters will not speak of their origins.

Able to tap into the Flows at will, they use those energies to transport themselves great distances and channel the colossal forces of nature. It is rumored that the Loremasters are immortal even as were the first Lords of Essænce, or as are the Elven-kind are now, but this too is not known for certain

Under the tutelage of the Loremasters, civilizations flourished.

Peoples learned the ways of language, agriculture, and the working of stone and metals. Centuries elapsed, and Loremasters came and went from various lands, always available to teach. They taught only things their students were readily able to grasp; no great leaps of social advancement or technology were offered. The world seemed a peaceful place—-until the coming of the Unlife and the return of Shadow to the world.

The Unlife feeds on destruction, upon the deaths of individuals and societies with equal fervor. It has no source, but it is everywhere, waiting for a tool to open the door and allow it to enter. Cults and Orders of varied origins and membership took form, but their purposes were dark and evil. It was during this time that the Great Demons were first fashioned by the most powerful of the Lords.

Soon the young mannish peoples were presented with choices: they were offered great knowledge by these new cults, more than the Loremasters were willing to impart. They spoke of the ways of warfare and whispered tales of hostile peoples—-imagined enemies who were readying to attack. Thus were the seeds of suspicion sown?

The Loremasters attempted to rectify those misdeeds, but they seemed too few and were unable (or unwilling) to assault the minions of the Unlife with force. Some peoples responded to their warnings, however, and the battle lines were drawn for the conflict which would end the Era.

Almost as a unit, the peoples and creatures under the sway of the Unlife arose and attacked those who remained free of dark domination. Great Demons and hosts of creatures, led by Priests, Essence Masters and the elite servants of the Unlife lashed out and attempted to destroy utterly what the Loremasters had nurtured for so long.

The wars lasted for nearly three hundred years, and though the powers unleashed during this conflict were as nothing compared to those used in the battle of the Lords of Essence, much was destroyed that had taken long years to build.

Terrors unnumbered and unspeakable walked the lands and flew in the high airs. In desperation, some of the Loremasters turned from their unspoken creed of refusing to act directly and matched their strength against the minions of the Unlife. Most perished in this effort, though without this aid the Peoples of Light would almost certainly have fallen. In the end, the Loremasters and the Peoples of Light were victorious and defeated the forces of the Unlife, though at great cost.

Entire cultures and species were wiped out, and many valiant Loremasters and sages were killed. The Lords of Orhan, who personally intervened, returned to their Moon. Greatly-weakened survivors retreated once again into themselves, concentrating only on the necessities of survival. This marked the end of the Second Era.

Barely had a thousand years passed when new minions of evil emerged. These servants, however, seemed bent upon ways other than brute force to achieve their ends. Deception and subterfuge were the tools of these new Cults. Fewer in number and lessened in power, the Loremasters moved among the lands more as simple gatherers and purveyors of information, speaking a word here or there of warning, advice, or encouragement. Their lordly past has been forgotten to all but a few.

Chill winds now blow out of the north, harbingers of a new assault. Dark religions grow and flourish, gathering new followers with each passing day. The servants of the Unlife take many forms in myriad lands, but their purposes run parallel, seeking the destruction of all live itself. This is the Third Era and the Time of the Shadow.

Time Periods

Fragmented tales are the only information available from the First Era. The annals of that Era recall the Lords of Orhan and the conflict which arose between them over the forming of the world.

First Era: The time period from the beginning of civilization until the downfall of the Empire of the “old race”.

More fantasy than fact, legends tell of mighty races and battles and the fall of all advanced civilisation when Ûtha and Kadæna fought to the death. Ûtha apparently won when he decapitated his cousin Kadæna with some magnificent sword or weapon of some kind.

Long Night: The time period between the First and Second Eras when Kulthea was essentially an uncivilized wasteland.

Second Era: The time period from the dawn of the College of the Loremasters until the start of the Wars of Dominion.

The second Era dawned dark and troubled, with the land recovering from the damage done during the end of the First Era. During the period the Loremasters establish themselves as a source of structure and assist the various countries in the rebuilding and recovery.

The first appearance of the Unlife occurs during the Second Era as does the appearance of many strange and powerful creatures, most bent on destruction and the elimination of any order established.

Almost as a unit, the peoples and creatures under the sway of the Unlife arose and attacked those who remained free of dark domination. Great Demons and hosts of creatures, led by Priests, Essence Masters and the elite servants of the Unlife lashed out and attempted to destroy utterly what the Loremasters had nurtured for so long.

The wars lasted for nearly three hundred years, and though the powers unleashed during this conflict were as nothing compared to those used in the battle of the ancient Lords, much was destroyed that had taken long years to build.

Wars of Dominion: The conflict between the minions of the Unlife and the free peoples of Kulthea.

Third Era: Time period from the end of the Wars of Dominion to the present.

Chill winds now blow out of the north, harbingers of a new assault. Dark religions grow and flourish, gathering new followers with each passing day. The servants of the Unlife take many forms in myriad lands, but their purposes run parallel, seeking the destruction of all live itself. This is the Third Era and the Time of the Shadow

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History of the Shadow World

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