The most recent era before the modern age and the one that has most shaped the current World of Ere is the chaotic dark age that followed the end of the Hailene War of Ascension. This time was marked by constantly shifting borders, constant wars and the repeated emergence of so-called ‘unifiers’ ultimately bent on domination of their respective regions.
As this period is one of the best detailed eras of the world’s past, its recounting is one of the longest as well, so the telling of the Age of Tragedies will be split into multiple volumes. The first such volume will begin where the Age itself began: the Shattered East.
History records the end of the Hailene War of Ascension as the apotheosis of the goddess Dey and her destruction of the hailene homeland of Illium. However, by the time the Imperial Throne of Illium and the main fleet of the hailene were destroyed, dozens of hailene fortresses, supply stations and colonies dotted the eastern continent, reaching as far inland from the coast as the Hedoria Mountains.
It would be six years before the last organized hailene insurgency officially surrendered, but the destruction of Illium and the main fleet convinced many members of the Vishnari Alliance to decide the war was over. The sixteen years of war and hailene occupation left a vast swath of the east with little resembling their former leadership and the great generals and captains of the disintegrating alliance eagerly directed their forces to carve out personal kingdoms.
At the same time, the natives of these lands—the orcs who had now become minotaurs, the goblins and kobolds formerly enslaved by the hailene, and the dwarves newly arrived from the deep to defend against hailene attempts to take their mines—also sought to reclaim what had once been theirs.
War among these former allies as well as ‘lost causer’ hailene guerrillas was inevitable. Cities were erected, captured, sacked, retaken and besieged. New alliances were forged, then broken by betrayals. Heroes of the great war became monsters and tyrants of the new paradigm.
But even in the beginning of great upheaval, some seeds were planted that would endure.
For example, General Khalam Enderal, who with few mages among his forces beat back the hailene by employing gunpowder weapons and earned the nom de guerre Auven Sha’dar (literally Undefeatable of the East in Old Vishnari) took and settled a hailene supply depot at the edge the Sinuehua Desert. There, he carefully marshaled his forces, made allies of the local bronze and copper dragon nations, and made attractive offers to any alchemists or tinkers in the region to become part of his nascent city-state.
Protected by desert to the east and the Hedoria Mountains to the west as well as advanced chemical and mechanical science which became known as ‘Shadari Anti-Magic’, Enderai’s city soon came together under his rallying cry ‘I am not Auven Sha’dar; We are all Auven Sha’dar!’, which eventually became the name for the city itself, which still stands in the modern era.
Further east, the demand for skilled magi resulted in the forced conscription of any who showed affinity for greater than average mystic power. Seeking to avoid this, a society of wizards secreted themselves in the scavenged hulk of a crashed hailene warship. From this remote tower, these magi launched missions to free their brethren and bring them to learn in safety and relative freedom.
Fear of discovery and subjugation slowly became the main drive of the tower, and their intent soon turned to the formation of their own nation. But with the rise of Auven Sha’dar and its ‘anti magic’, the tower inhabitants realized that mystic might would need to be backed by mean force. To this end, they allied with local minotaur, hob and troll populations, promising the return of their ancestral lands so long as the magi were allowed to take over the abandoned hailene fortresses at Illiahome, Sultana and Eavankrist.
By the third century following the war, Sultana had become the center of mage-led society with the a lose confederation of vassal townships as well as the sister-fortress cities forming a nation that would become Mindeforme with the derelict ship where the nation’s seeds were first planted being converted to a storehouse of all any and all Mindforme’s collected knowledge and the town that sprang up to support it becoming known as Siram Legate.
Further north, the dwarven halls recalled their forces in the face of the hailene being repelled from their realm. The dwarves had only just become aware of other civilizations on the surface by the hailene incursion and as such were forced to consider their next move. Their initial solution was the construct surface strongholds to claim the surrounding surface lands and prevent more interlopers. Any refugees from points further south were allowed to stake claims in regions of no interest to the dwarves provided they swore fealty and paid tribute to whatever lord’s lands they were established above.
East of the Hedoria, the scattered city-states who contributes soldiers to the cause of the war found their sons and daughters returning armed with advanced skills, weapons and magic learned from the war. The balance of power in the region shifted dramatically and within a few decades, dozens of small kingdoms had been established and went to war attempting to expand their borders.
The next nearly six hundred years would be a time of unmatched upheaval with borders moving on what would sometimes be a monthly basis. Records show that within two centuries of the start of the age, there was already talk of prophecies of a great leader who would unite the Shattered East under one banner.
Countless ‘uniters’ would arise, each fulfilling various versions of said prophecies. Hero and tyrant alike, they raised grand armies and set out to conqueror their neighbors and bring the roving bandits and freeholds to heel. Most failed and were put down in a few years and those who managed to create sizable empires found that their legacies never lasted more than a generation before being torn apart through infighting or succession crises.
Things changed however when Nov Uelias overthrew the monarch her served and turned his sights toward not becoming the uniter, but to stabilize the kingdom of his birth, Kinos. In order to do this, he formed the Mage Works, an organization dedicated to studying and applying magic for the public good. Mage Works projects included building roads and aqueducts, researching means of preserving food, transporting people and goods long distances, and mass-producing everyday magical goods.
All of these advances drew the attention of surrounding settlements. Some wished to join with Kinos, others wished to take the wonders found there. Nov was eventually pulled into the drama of war and alliances that plagued the region. Only he surpassed all of his predecessors by combining superior technology and tactics with a new diplomatic tact.
Defeated kingdoms were allowed to retain their culture under a few caveats. First, the leaders of said kingdoms could keep whatever title they preferred, but would be known in Nov’s larger kingdom as a Prince of Nov and their realm as a principality. Each principality would pay taxes to Kinos and one in three children would be required to serve five years in the the King’s Army. These conscripts would then be stations in far-flung locations throughout the kingdom, guaranteeing cultural pollination and loyalty to something larger than one’s principality.
And so was born the largest, most populated nation on Ere; the Kingdom of Novrom. After four decades, Novrom had become a powerful influence in the world, enough so that Nov’s son, Nov II was able to leverage said influence into the Thirteen Nations Accords, which would mark the end of the Age of Tragedies.
However, this tale is merely that of the Shattered East. At the same time the east was breaking apart, the West would come under the sway of a rising religious power. As the forces of the Calderian sect spread over the land, salvation for the unbelievers comes in the unexpected form of a schism in the east.