Ascension Prelude: The War Of The Gods

The world of Fhina had been crafted by the gods. No one knew where they came from before the world’s inception, and if the gods knew, they never spoke of it. They worked together, every god, to create a world based on the principles of balance, with equal parts dedicated to good, neutral and evil. As long as equilibrium was maintained, there was no true conflict.

Evil empires rose and fell, as did good. The gods of all alignments created races, intelligent beings to worship them and for the gods to care for and mold. All three groups created their own dragon races. The good gods created the “good” races, humans, elves, gnomes and dwarves. The evil made the gnolls, trolls, goblins, orcs, ogres and giants. The neutral gods created the fairies, who developed a good bent all on their own. There was an agreement, a treaty signed in the blood of gods, that they would preserve this balance, and no gods would ever directly interfere with the creations of another.

This agreement held for untold millennia, until the god Thanatos grew bored with the balance. He saw it as an endless stalemate. He wanted blood, and war. A true war, so he conspired with the other evil gods. They first secretly started creating their own versions of the goodly races, in secret, deep underground where the good gods rarely peaked. They created the races of grey dwarves, dark elves, the vicious death gnomes, the dark fairies and the disgusting bluebottle elves. Thanatos determined that there was no need for a new race of humans; they managed to corrupt themselves just fine without interference, so he modified his own race of orcs to create the more vicious and intelligent black orcs.

Humans spread more than any other race, inhabiting almost every habitable niche on the world. They diversified quickly, adapting to their environments, from the almond-eyed people of the north, to the dark-skinned folk of the plains and World Spine mountains’ foothills, to the pale skinned folk of the south. The elves Stayed most to the forests, while the gnomes seemed to prefer small secluded glens where they could live in relative peace. Dwarves were the masters of the mountains and the tunnels contained within, crafting metal and stone like no other race.

They groomed their new children in the dark of Fhina’s intricate subterranean world, a dark land made of millions of miles of interconnected caves and caverns that connected all parts of the above ground world. In many ways, it was like a second world, filled with forests of mushrooms, black, still seas, and cities connected through trade. The races of dark elves and grey dwarves constructed massive cities. Death gnomes lived in small underground hamlets that were best avoided by other races unless they had business with them. Death gnomes were known to be some of the most cruel and vicious races crafted by the evil gods. They were born worshiping Thanatos, and death and rot were their trade and only love.

The Thamfaer, or dark fairies, were the only neutral race they’d perverted, but it was a powerful move. They were not as powerful as their more goodly kin, but they still possessed powerful magic, and a strong desire to corrupt and ruin the natural world. They lived in mushroom groves deep underground that would rival their light cousins for beauty, but were filled with all manner of deadly fungus and poisonous creatures.

The bluebottle elves were perhaps the greatest corruption the evil gods perpetrated. They had shining metallic bluish-green chitinous skin like the flies they were named after. Their teeth were a single ridge, and their eyes were metallic red, and although the facets were too small to see, their eyes were covered in millions of them. They reveled in decay and horror, and were only ever dealt with because of their battle prowess and complete lack of fear or sense of self-preservation. The disgusting elves would throw themselves into battle with abandon, viewing death and rot to be higher states of being.

While the evil gods groomed their new children,they conspired to not just rule the lands above with their fetid offspring, but to crush the balance altogether. They crafted a weapon of supreme power but mundane appearance; a golden needle. The needle was limited in powers, but it had one more important than all others; a single prick could kill a god. It took the gods thousands of years to construct the artifact and imbue it with the power of deicide, but when the time came, they had vast armies of evil races at their command, and the good and neutral gods never saw their betrayal coming.

They started insidiously allowing their new races to bleed out into the above-ground world. The good and neutral gods watched, horrified, as these new creatures slipped into the world and started slaughtering their good kin. The gods intervened, but were met in open battle by the gods of evil. The entire landscape was drenched in the blood of all races, even gods. In a war that lasted an entire century, the races of both good and evil were reduced to a few hundred thousand each. The death of gods that kept watch over various aspects of the world caused untold turmoil; cataclysmic earthquakes, tidal waves, hurricanes all ripped the already dwindling people to pieces.

The final battle of the gods came down to Thanatos, Blackheart and a goddess known as the Silver Queen. She could take the form of a great silver dragon, and she battled the two evil gods for days before finally being mortally wounded by Thanatos and his needle. As the two evil gods gloated over their victory, the true nature of evil showed its face as Thantos turned on Blackheart and drove the needle into his back, leaving him the sole god on Fhina. He was able to savor his victory for less than a minute, because the dying Silver Queen attacked. They grappled for minutes, but so powerful was her rage that she forced the hand of the god of death back on himself.

He watched in horror as the enraged goddess slowly pushed the needle deep into his chest with his own hand. They fell together into a heap, the last two gods of Fhina dying at the same moment. What followed was three hundred years of apocalyptic terror. The World’s Spine grew, as did the mountains in the east, until the entire eastern half of the main continent was nothing but rough, jagged crags. Volcanoes erupted in the center of this ragged land, filling the sky with ash and blotting out the sun. Winter descended for over a century, killing all but the heartiest of life.

It was in this time that the Ice elves arose in the far south, on a glacier the size of a country. In the terrible conditions, only the strongest survived. They had been driven from their forest homes by a legion of bluebottles, forging an enmity that outweighed even that of the gnomes and their death-cousins. But the ice elves thrived and became a powerful force to be reckoned with, sending agents out into the world to lend strength to the faltering good races.

They lived in a palace of ice on the highest peak of the glacier, and often waged war against their metallic-skinned cousins, trying to rid the world of their vile pestilence. Unfortunately, the bluebottles bred fast and grew strong, and would not be dissuaded by death, which every one of them hoped to earn in every battle.

As time rolled on, the world found an equilibrium. The effects of the century of winter began to fade, and the glaciers began to recede. Thanks to cold water from the glacier and hot springs, the Misty River formed, travelling up from the southern ice pack to the World’s Spine mountains. In the southwest, the Pillarlands erupted from the ground, massive hexagonal columns of basalt, reaching up from the ground at random intervals for a thousand square miles. Some were a thousand feet tall but only a few feet across. Others were miles across. They varied in height from a few tens feet to some that seemed to touch the sky.

Many people settled these massive pillars of stone, creating towns that were safely above the flatlands below, which crawled with ogres and other terrible beasts. They built fences to keep the ledges safe for all, and constructed bridges to cross the gaps between pillars, creating a world above the land below.

The Misty turned the land just west of the mountains into a verdant green belt covered in forests and rich, hilly farmland. Along its banks sprang several towns, like the merchant hub of Whitewater and the thriving city of Everdeep. The dwarves reclaimed the World’s Spine mountains as their own. once the quakes had subsided, they found far taller peaks than their ancestors had ever known, some forty thousand feet above the level of the sea. They fought back the many horrors that had moved in to the new tunnels surrounding their old homes and created new dwarven nations from the coast, into the eastern mountain ranges.

The lands north of the Spine returned to normal, with vast open savannah between the mountains of the Spine and the waters of the Miledeep river. Fed by a massive glacier in the east that was perpetually melted by a volcano beneath, but rebuilt by endless snows, the river cut from the mountains to the sea. It was literally a mile deep for most of its length and a mile or more wide. The deep, sweeping waters were treacherous and fast moving, leaving most of the land north of it unsettled wildlands.

In the calmer motes and tributaries near the river often lived giant crocodiles, so it was avoided by all but the bravest or most foolish. Rumors persisted of giant version of normal animals across the river, but most were dismissed as tall tales. Stories of chickens larger than men and elephants as big as castles were written off as mad ravings or outright lies, despite the giant crocodiles and the occasional insect or spider larger than a horse.

Located between the Pillarlands and the verdant hills of the Misty River valley, was the Plain of Bones. One of the greatest battles of the God’s War had happened here. Over five million warriors died on the plain, along with three gods. Bleached skeletons of elephants, horses, men, orcs and countless other races and animals were scattered over a thousand square miles. Presumably due to the fact that gods died there, the bones never succumbed to the elements. While they may have been picked clean and bleached white in the sun, they never became brittle or broken.

The land itself was mostly barren, with piles of bones collecting together,some as tall as thirty feet.The land was pockmarked with signs of geological activity, especially in the lands closer to the Misty. Fumaroles, mud pots, hot springs and geysers dotted the land like trees on a savannah, infrequent enough that it was not a forest of steam vents, but visible everywhere one looked.

The world beneath the caldera was an ocean of molten rock. On the banks of the ocean were subterranean cities occupied by grey dwarves and death gnomes. Both races drew metals and power from the Vastfire, using the magma for everything from heating their steam-powered inventions to drawing out the rich metals found within. Weapons armor and tools from this region were legendary among the evil races for their strength and craft.

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