The Ancient Past
Rielun was once a very isolated world home to only two intelligent races that shared the world and its resources ecologically with nature, the Tigé and the Trooda. For centuries it remained so and both races advanced in culture and magic. Strangely, neither race developed technology beyond the most basic needs (i.e. roads, bridges, and huts).
It was the second of these that would shape the future of the world. A tigé sorcerer named Igu Amuth-hal dreamed of leaving a lasting mark on the world. His vision, too build the worlds grandest bridge—perfect in both form and magic. A bridge designed to transport whoever crosses it to anywhere on Rielun. Amuth-hal struggled for years to make his dream a reality and soon became frustrated as the Elders of his race put more and more restrictions on his creation. Then Amuth-hal did something that none of his race had ever done before. He ignored the laws of the Balance of the Four set down centuries ago by the First Ones. Using horrible magic, he razed an entire forest on Malecade and continued to build his bridge on his own schedule. His crime was discovered too late and “The Bridge” was completed in less than six months.
By the time he was brought to face the Elders, the Bridge was already fully functional and worked just as Amuth-hal had envisioned. In fact, he convinced the warriors that captured him, that they should take him straight to the Elders through “The Bridge” instead of wasting time crossing Malecade.
“This journey will take half a year to go from here to The Stones if you insist on walking or we can be there in moments by simply crossing my bridge. I’m sure your family would be thrilled to have you home before Aolstace. What do you say?”
The Elders were amazed, to say the least, as a rift opened up in the Council Chamber of the Stones and Amuth-hal walked through with the awe struck guards in tow. The Elders were frightened, yet curious, about this marvel of magic that Amuth-hal had brought into the world. For the tigé love magic almost as much as keeping to the Balance of the Four.
Amuth-hal showed them that not only could the Bridge transport people from its location to anywhere on Rielun; it could also transport itself. With a word that seemed to echo endlessly through the chamber, Amuth-hal activated the Bridge from half a continent away and transported it to outside The Stones.
“Now do you understand what I have given the world, now do you understand? Not only can The Bridge take us anywhere on the planet but also it can be sent anywhere it is needed. It could bring valuable supplies to those in need when disaster strikes, it could allow you to travel to every Council of Elders across the world in one day. . .”
The oldest of the Elders still condemned him for his crime against nature and vowed he and his creation would suffer the ultimate price, destruction. Only a few of the younger Elders took Amuth-hal’s side and petitioned for a severe penance to be placed upon Amuth-hal for his crime instead of outright destruction. They argued that he should be condemned to regrow the forest that he destroyed for the rest of his days, and that his titles as a sorcerer and an architect be stripped from him and for him to be denied access to the wonder of the Bridge, forever.
The others insisted Amuth-hal face destruction but conceded that the Bridge would not be destroyed, as long as, Amuth-hal gave his life force to the land that he razed. On this the Elders agreed and it was put to Amuth-hal if he would accept the decision or fight the ruling. To their surprise, he agreed.
“I give my life freely if it will save my creation. I will give the land my soul and my magic, all I ask is that I be allowed to perform the Naming at the Aolstace before I go through the Joining.”
The Elders accepted his chosen fate. And so it is that the Bridge was presented to the clans at Aolstace and named Jaua Ae-rielun, or Heart of the World. He then bonded the magic of the Bridge to the Stones so that the Elders could command it. Then Amuth-hal gave his soul and magic to the razed landed of Malecade and the laws of the Balance of the Four were restored. For when a tigé joins with the land, all his knowledge & magic are transferred to the land, as well as, all the knowledge and magic of his ancestors.
The Fate of Time
As the centuries past, the tigé became more and more comfortable with Jaua Ae-rielun; it became a way of life and symbol of pride among the people. Amuth-hal’s name was praised for his creation and his crime was forgotten as the forest he desecrated grew back twice as strong due to the life force of he and his ancestors.
Unknown to them the magic that Amuth-hal had used had infected the wood used from the razed forest. This strange infection soon spread across the whole bridge and strange arcane symbols started to appear along the Bridge. The people didn’t know what to make of these symbols and debate raged among the Elders as what action to take, if any. Some argued that the arcane symbols were simply part of what made the Bridge work as it did. Others worried that something had gone wrong and Jaua Ae-rielun’s magic was failing, dooming the people to go back to the old way of life.
No one ever questioned Amuth-hal’s judgment or even remembered his crime, as it had happened over 800 years ago. Indeed, Amuth-hal was considered to be somewhere between a saint and a god to the people. Only the longer-lived trooda remembered the man’s crime and tried desperately to convince the Elders of the truth. The magic used to construct Jaua Ae-rielun had somehow tainted it and if something wasn’t done then who knows what would happen.
The Elders heard the words of their noble peers and believed it to be true. Something had to be done about Jaua Ae-rielun and it would have to be a hard, permanent choice. The problem was that the Bridge had become immune to things like fire, acid, and even the elements. It couldn’t be destroyed, of that they were certain. But it could be banished from the world with powerful magic. Thus, Jaua Ae-rielun was cast into the Temporal Energy Plane, lost to time. The people cried out in sorrow at the lost of the Heart of the World and soon reverted to the old ways before the Bridge came. Little did they know that Jaua Ae-rielun would still affect their world in ways they could not imagine.
For nearly 200 years, Jaua Ae-rielun would drift through the Temporal Energy Plane, it’s magic increasing and changing with time itself. And then in one moment the bridge became aware of what & where it was. It remembered everything—its birth, its use and its eventual banishment. And somehow it sensed Rielun out there in time and knew it was meant to be here in this place. It was destined to become one with time and yet remained linked forever to Rielun. And with this knowledge, Jaua Ae-rielun faded from physical existence and merged with the Temporal Energy Plane.
Jaua Ae-rielun became aware of all time and the countless worlds that were born, existed, and died within the galaxy. It saw Rielun’s past, present and future. It was this last vision that showed it its true purpose. Jaua Ae-rielun would set Rielun down a path of change and conflict. Too keep the world alive & vibrant one moment and near death & destruction the next. Yes, Rielun would change, the future was clear.
Until then, Jaua Ae-rielun would wait.
Strangers in a New Land
Now, what were centuries to the tigé and trooda, were mere moments to Jaua Ae-rielun. Generations lived in died on Rielun, yet it was like one breath in time to Jaua Ae-rielun.
“Now is their future…”
With a mere thought, Jaua Ae-rielun reached out and touched a world on the brink of destruction, appearing, as a stone bridge spanning a gorge, to a group of semi-intelligent reptiles fleeing a raging forest fire. These primitive humanoids quickly took advantage of the situation, knowing that the strange rock wouldn’t burn like the trees of their dying home, and started to cross Jaua Ae-rielun.
Only after all of them had stepped on the bridge did Jaua Ae-rielun act. The Bridge reached out to the primitives with its essence and increased their potential for knowledge. Advancing them hundreds of years in evolution, gifting them with psionic abilities, enhanced wisdom, and showing them its history and the history of Rielun. “The Bridge” then reshaped their bodies so that they stood tall and straight and gave them tremendous strength and speed. When it was finished, Jaua Ae-rielun transported them to shores of Malecade.
All this, Jaua Ae-rielun did with a single thought. The Bridge then spoke to them.
“I name you teres! You have been chosen to go throughout this world and teach the tigé and the trooda of my evolution and prepare them for the changes to come. You are the Guardians of the Balance of the Four on this world. Now go!”
The Teres heard and understood and went across the world to spread the knowledge of Jaua Ae-rielun’s return.
When the teres spoke to the trooda, who were overjoyed to learn that Jaua Ae-rielun had actually ascended and not gone mad like they had thought. The trooda welcomed their new reptilian friends into trooda society and two races became like blood as the years passed. Both dedicated to the Balance of the Four.
But when the teres appeared to the tigé, the result wasn’t as positive. The tigé were shocked, some horrified, of what the teres told them. For centuries tigé society had degraded from power of the people to power of an elite few.
The Elders of the Council of the Stones had fallen into decadence and tigé society had fragmented as a result. Strangely enough, full-blown war was still an unknown concept to the tigé, even though minor conflicts has become common. The idea of tigé killing tigé was an abhorrent idea to even the most decadent of their race.
The appearance of the teres changed all that. The Elders declared the newcomers to be pariahs and banned their people from dealing with them. But society had fragmented so badly that millions of tigé across the world ignored the ruling and allowed the teres to speak the word of Jaua Ae-rielun at community council halls. Hundreds of thousands of tigé would come to listen to the words of the teres prophets. What they heard affected tigé society for generations.
However, the Elders and those that had come to rely on the decadence behind the council, demanded justice. A highly advanced society, based on peace and community quickly disintegrated with a world spanning war that lasted nearly 50 years. The Elders elite hunters/guards, known as the Shashmala, actively hunted the teres.
And yet these events were what Jaua Ae-rielun had seen in the world’s future and it knew this was the path that Rielun must take to survive the coming darkness. The tigé (and the trooda to a lesser extent) learned the art of war and more importantly, the true value of peace and solidarity.
(And let me tell you, they were going to need it. -RPB)
Darkness from the Sky
Near the end of the 50 years that became known as the First War, a large fleet of goblinoid spelljammers entered Rielun’s system by accident, fleeing the Inhuman War. They had aligned themselves with darkness and millions of their kin had paid for that decision with their lives. However, known space is large with millions of worlds to hide out on and the goblinoids knew that the system was isolated enough to remain under the radar of their elven enemies and the Kings’ Monarchy.
Thus, The Goblins came to Rielun, landing their starships in the hundreds along the southern shores of Malecade. They poured out to meet the denizens of this unknown world — and a new even more destructive war started on Rielun. Orc versus trooda; goblin versus tigé; and hobgoblin versus teres. It was and end and a beginning.
The Second War (also known as the Dominance War) lasted for over a hundred years. The goblinoids spread their influence and destructive technology across Rielun. And now the trio of races that once fought with each other had a common enemy with strange steam-technology and flintlock weapons. The goblinoids might have had the advantage but the Children of the World, or Ethma’rieluna as they started to call themselves, had the advantage of solidarity and, as the years passed, they learned to use the weaknesses of their enemies and found ways to defeat the invaders. And then the goblinoids started fighting with each other, as well the Ethma’rieluna. They seemed determined to dominate one another, as well as their foes. It was this trait that led to their defeat.
The Ethma’rieluna fought back with all their will and faith in the Heart of the World. Knowing that their patron had been preparing them for this since his return. The fought as a people united and won. Defeated, the goblinoids feared that they would put to death by their foes. Yet, they to were part of Rielun’s future and were not destroyed by the Ethma’rieluna. The teres spoke to the remaining goblinoids and told them of the past and the future.
“Jaua Ae-rielun has brought you here for a reason. One day your people will be great leaders and soldiers on this world and many others. The Heart has seen this to be true and beckons us to teach you discipline, patience, and morality. Now come, take your rightful place among the Ethma’rieluna and let us celebrate our great victory today!”
Most of the goblinoids were in awe of the words of the teres; how could they, nay, how could the Heart of the World simply forgive their actions and accept them into his fold? No one had ever shown ‘true’ compassion or love to them before, no one had ever taught them such inner strength. However, many of the goblinoids remained foul of heart and were cast from the shores of Malecade to the untamed islands of the Sea of Pillars. The remaining goblinoids took their place among the Ethma’rieluna.
The Ethma’rieluna lived in relative peace for over 300 years in a period that be came known as the Enlightenment. Only minor skirmishes with the evil seafaring goblinoids that the Ethma’rieluna called the Sermath’kah, or Darkness from the Sea, broke this time of peace.
However, the other goblinoids took their place among the Ethma’rieluna and thrived. The Orcs became staunch leaders in politics and even respected sorcerers. The Goblins grew to see nature in all its beauty and became druids and rangers. But it was The Hobgoblins that would protect the Ethma’rieluna from the predatory Sermath’kah. They took to the sea against their old allies and many a hobgoblin sea captain became a beloved hero among the Ethma’rieluna.
Major political change also came about after the Second War. The races came to an agreement to merge their respective societies, keeping those traditions that remained within the laws of Balance of the Four. A new ruling body that spoke from the people replaced the decadent Council of Stones. Any member of the six races could speak in the Halls of Balance or become an Elder, regardless of wealth, class, or sex. The only requirement was that the speaker be of age among his people and follow the rules of respect and honor that the Halls demanded. Violence and slanderous remarks were forbidden in the Halls.
Each continent had its own Hall built but it was the Hall of the Heart on Malecade that became the greatest center for debate and reason. It was here that the current Ethma’rieluna society grew from. Major advances in magic, science, and steam technology revolutionized life. The goblinoids taught the other Children of the World the power of these gifts. Future generations mastered the life sciences as well as mathematics, which lead to breakthroughs in medicine /healing, spelljamming, and clockworks. Rielun was well on its way towards becoming advanced enough to draw the attention of the rest of known space.
The galaxy knew nothing of the world of Rielun. 480 years past from the start of the Dominance War to the first encounter with the Kings’ Monarchy had with a Ethma’rieluna spelljammer. In that time, the Ethma’rieluna had progressed further in 300 years then most other civilizations had in 2,000 years. And they did it learning from outdated steam-technology that had been worse than second rate when the goblinoids fled the Inhuman War.
The Monarchy spelljammer that encountered the Ethma’rieluna was known as The Perciah. The captain, an elven pilot named Emeryth Symbytha, was amazed at how far the goblinoids had progressed in culture and civility. He insisted that the Ethma’rieluna spelljammer travel with The Perciah to Anagarred where the Kings’ Senate would decide if the world of Rielun would be allowed to enter into the service of the Kings’ Monarchy. The Ethma’rieluna captain, a teres psion named Raaeth-Kal, refused.
“We have heard a great deal about this Monarchy from our brethren and we do not trust these few that are so quick to annex entire worlds of people. And while I realize that our brethren’s view of the Monarchy is tainted by thousands of years of conflict, mine is not. It was decided years ago that the Ethma’rieluna would wish to be at peace with the Kings’ Senate but would not become their vassals. I hope that your Elders will respect our wishes.”
To say that the Monarchy captain was upset is an understatement. His was not a request; it was a standing order. Any world that gained the knowledge of steam technology and spelljamming were forced to at least show some respect towards the Kings’ Monarchy. Entry into the Monarchy wasn’t necessarily a requirement but Kings’ Senate does not like to be snubbed. Emeryth tried to explain but Raaeth-Kal would have none of it.
“Yes, I know all of that. Our brethren has taught us the Senate’s system of diplomacy but it goes so against what the Ethma’rieluna stands for that we cannot honor such improper behavior. One should never force another against their will. Our brethren and we have learned this and take it to heart. I realize that our brethren’s’ ancestors caused a great deal of suffering among the systems of the Monarchy but one should not condemn the child for the actions of the parent. I also realize that this will come as little comfort to you and your Monarchy but it is what the Heart of the World teaches. I ask you, would you accept it if this Monarchy forced the elven people to give up what they believe in most? Would you accept the betrayal of your ideals and faith if they told you to do so?”
Captain Symbytha was at a loss. The teres words struck home in a way that he only knew when in the peace of the Reverie. Something spoke from deep within him to trust in the words of this Heart of the World. For over a fortnight the two spelljammers traveled together. Not towards Anagarred but towards the system of the Ethma’rieluna and Rielun. The crew of The Perciah listened to the words of Raaeth-Kal intrigued by the unique society that the Ethma’rieluna had built.
When The Perciah neared its destination, Captain Symbytha announced that he was retiring from his position in the Monarchy and traveling to Rielun to see the Ethma’rieluna culture for himself. As his last official act as the captain of The Perciah he ordered his first mate to turn the ship around and head back to Anagarred to inform the Kings’ Senate of his decision and the existence of the Ethma’rieluna.
Half of the crew also refused to go back to the Kings’ Monarchy and went with their captain against orders from the first mate. They wished to see this world for themselves and cared little for the objections of the irate first mate. The Kings’ Senate would conceive their actions as treason, and the dissenting crewmembers’ decision would affect the world of Rielun for hundreds and hundreds of years to come.
The Kings’ Monarchy
After a long journey, The Perciah arrived back at the Imperial home world of the Kings’ Monarchy with little fanfare. However, once the first mate spoke in front of the Kings’ Senate of the treason of his captain and shipmates, news of the Ethma’rieluna quickly spread throughout the Monarchy. Who were these insolent backworlders who dared defy the greatest empire to every exist in known space? And worse yet, they had aligned themselves with the descendants of the servants of darkness.
The high rankings members of the Elven Armadas insisted on swift, decisive action that would destroy the descendants of their ancient, hated foes. Yet, a haggard debate soon consumed the Kings’ Senate as the Kings and Queens of the Hundred Worlds bickered endlessly about who would receive the honor of destroying the Ethma’rieluna. Dozens of armadas were formed and it was all the Emperor-King could do to keep the worlds of Kings’ Senate from launching an all out attack on the Ethma’rieluna, as well as each other.
The first mate watched the madness consume the monarchs and he was disgusted. He wished he had stayed with the Ethma’rieluna and he had found their words and society inspiring. He and his remaining shipmates stole The Perciah and set sail through the Ether Void of the Forever Stars back to Rielun. The departure of The Perciah went unnoticed for months, and only after hundreds of loyal spelljammers began deserting too seek out this new world, that proudly proclaimed its independence, did the Emperor-King quell the debate in the senate and decree that his personal armada would destroy the Ethma’rieluna.
The Wrath of the Emperor-King
A thousand spelljammers left the world of Anagarred, charged with the destruction of the Ethma’rieluna and conquer the world of Rielun. The trip to Rielun’s system was a long one, however, and the crew of The Perciah had arrived at Rielun nearly a year ahead of the invading fleet. They warned the Ethma’rieluna of the Kings’ Monarchy intentions and begged to join the ranks of the Ethma’rieluna. In the Hall of the Heart, the former captain of The Perciah now spoke the wisdom of the Jaua Ae-rielun.
“You are welcome to stay, my friends, but you must cast aside old prejudices and accept the laws of the Balance of the Four.”
The crewmembers readily agreed. Throughout the year before the Emperor-King’s Armada arrived, the disserting ships of the Monarchy came to seek the wondrous lifestyle of Rielun that they had heard of. What they found was a grand civilization preparing for war against their homeland. The newcomers were torn. Would they fight to protect this world or to conquer it?
Then the armada of the Emperor-King of Anagarred arrived and complete chaos ensued. The Ethma’rieluna and their new allies fought to protect their people and their world, while dozens of factions fought to either claim Rielun or hold off the invading Imperial fleet. This was the beginning of what would become the Third War of Rielun, the Thousand Ships War, or the Ether Void War.
The world of Rielun and the civilizations of the Ether Void would never be the same again.