Erebus: Age of Rebirth
History of Erebus
The history of Erebus is not known to the mortals of the world. Some know it as far back as the Godswar and some only know what has happened in the last century in their village. Most only know what their priest or teacher has seemed fit to tell them. The future, however, is something that eludes everyone’s knowledge.
The Birth of Time
In the beginning there was the One creator (God). Such was His power that all He spoke and thought was truth. When first He spoke He made a place of glory and a throne from which He could sit and view all of His creation. This place He named heaven and His throne was called order. The One spoke of a blue orb that rested on the arm of His throne. This orb He named temperance and to it was given the power to control the flow of time.
The Time of Angels
It was now that the One began to speak of new creations. Each one He created He gave a unique name and the twin gifts of life and free will. Each creation was created differently but to the whole He gave the name angels. There were twenty-one angels created and each was appointed to be the head of a divine precept.
Each angel was made to serve the One and to serve the creations that would come after. For the first time other voices were heard as they began to sing and praise the One.
The angels were:
*Lugus – Angel of Light
*Sirona – Angel of Wisdom
*Bhall – Angel of Fire
*Nantosuelta – Angel of Faith
*Nemed – Angel of Life
*Amathaon – Angel of Fertility
*Junil – Angel of Justice
*Arawn – Angel of Death
*Oghma – Angel of Knowledge
*Danalin – Angel of the Water
*Dagda – Angel of Balance
*Kilmorph – Angel of the Earth
*Sucellus – Angel of Nature
*Tali – Angel of the Air
*Camulos – Angel of Peace, who would become the Angel of War
*Aeron – Angel of Strength, who would become the Angel of Rage
*Ceridwen – Angel of the Stars, who would become the Angel of Magic
*Mammon – Angel of Foresight, who would become the Angel of Greed
*Esus – Angel of Trust, who would become the Angel of Deception
*Mulcarn – Angel of Ice, who would become the Angel of Winter
*Agares – Angel of Hope, who would become the Angel of Despair
The Birth of Man
Heaven was full of many wonders which the angels spent much duration studying and praising. When the One felt them ready He commanded them to take flight outside the boundaries and to fill the vacuum with creations that mirror those of heaven. He gave them the power of creation. So the angels set off in every direction, creating as it pleased them to create a host of worlds true and good that would serve the One.
When the creation was done there was a variety of worlds and a nearly endless array of life upon them. Each angel created a world in their own preference and all the angels contributed to a common world, called Erebus, which was their greatest creation.
Although all manner of life and substance had been created in the world, the angels wished to create something greater than their individual aspects. Together they agreed to create a race of men that would contain a gift from each of them. This race would be directly descended from the angels and Nemed agreed to sacrifice his precept and become the father of this new race. His precept, that of life, was given over to Arawn and the angels created an immortal female named Gabella to serve as his wife.
The One entered creation where he stood upon a white stone slab and viewed all things. Seeing this work as good, the One took back the power of creation from the angels.
The Fall of Agares
Unknown to the other angels, Agares was not willing to lose the power of creation. Knowing he could not hope to keep the power from being taken from him and that he would be left only with the power to manipulate what already existed, he used the power while he had it to create infinite wells of raw elements, air, earth, fire, water, life and death. At the center of these infinite reaches he placed gems of each of these elements which he had secreted out of heaven itself. When the power of creation was lost to him he still had enough matter and energy that he could go on creating until the end of time.
Once the power of creation was taken from him, Agares continued creating in his own world, which he called Nyx, with his infinite plains of elements. He created Nyx not in the fashion of heaven but as he desired. The creatures of this world were not told of other angels or the One, and Agares commanded they worship him alone. Nyx was a world painted in black and gold, a shadowy reflection of heaven, where the precept of hope controlled every aspect. Dreams, desire, worship and want ruled the shallow creatures that inhabited the beautiful world.
The other angels noticed that Agares continued creating. Agares claimed that it was cruel to take the power of creation away from them and that the One was jealous that their creations had outshone heaven itself. Six angels sided with Agares as they were eager to regain the power of creation and he showed them his infinite wells and how to use them to create. These angels were Camulos, Aeron, Ceridwen, Mammon, Esus and Mulcarn.
It was then that the One intervened. Seeing Agares’ blasphemy He sought to remove it from all of creation. By this point however, Agares’ taint had spread through all of creation, nothing existed that would still exist if He removed the evil from it. So pervasive was Agares’ corruption that if the One entered creation it would be destroyed by His holiness. Unwilling to destroy creation, the One condemned all the angels out of heaven, to live among creation until the day He returns to separate the good from the evil. The One tasked the angels still loyal to Him with protecting creation and guiding it toward enlightenment until the day He returned.
Those angels that followed Agares opposed the One’s decree and took up arms against the angels loyal to him. From this point on the angels that fell were known as evil by men, those that opposed them and were charged with protecting mankind were known as good, and the seven tasked with maintaining the functions of creations besides man were known as the angels of neutrality.
After throwing all of the angels from heaven, the One sundered the path between heaven and creation so that none but Him could pass between them. In response to this, all the angels, except Agares, created a host of new angels to serve them. The first they created was their archangel, and behind them thousands more to spread their will across creation.
The archangels were:
*Amathaon – Maponos the Young
*Sucellus – Cernunnos
*Bhall – Brigit the Shining
*Kilmorph – Goibniu
*Lugus – Baelious (“Fortune”)
*Aeron – Odio (who was imprisoned by Kilmorph during the Age of Dragons)
*Dagda – Cassiel
*Mammon – Hastur, Lord of Nightmares
*Junil – Sabathiel
*Oghma – Embarr (“Imagination”)
*Camulos – Avatar of Wrath
*Nantosuelta – Splendor
*Ceridwen – Kanna, Mistress of Pain
*Sirona – Pelian the Suffering
*Esus – Iaegus
*Tali – Leucetious, Bringer of Storms
*Arawn – Gyra and Basium, twins
*Danalin – Condatis
*Mulcarn – Taranis the Unchanging
*Agares – None (until the later creation of Hyborem, Lord of Balors)
But Agares, not satisfied to play the One’s game, did the opposite. He returned to Nyx and destroyed everything there, every creature he had created, every monument that had been built. In one burst of power the beautiful world of Nyx was reduced to ash. The world lies to this day barren, it is called the deepest hell and none would suspect that it was once a world of surprising life.
The First Age: Creation
And so it was. In the beginning all manner of natural animals and plants existed in creation, much as in our world.
Gabella mirrored the rebellion of Agares by refusing to endure her role as a subordinate to man. She fled from Nemed and retreated to the Bair of Lacuna. Further generations of men have the gift of immortality removed from them. But still their divine birthright makes their souls immortal, even if their bodies fail. It is this connection to the divine, through the angel of Nemed, which allows men to channel the power of the angels and allows their souls to pass to them when they die.
At the sixth generation of men, Os-Gabella returned and stole two children, Alexis and Flauros, to raise as her own. These children became the first vampires, killing others to sustain their life throughout the ages.
The Second Age: Age of Dragons
Unable to overcome their differences, the gods began to war across creation. As in all things, the gods’ desires became physically manifested and their aggression was acted out by powerful creatures that battled against each other. Giants, great elementals, the gods themselves and later dragons unleashed incredible magic and, with it, threatened to destroy creation. Mountains were created and destroyed; chasms and lakes were created like gaping scars. The wars between the angels were fought across the faces of the worlds while men and other races huddled in caves, fearful of the power being unleashed around them. It was during these days that the dragons were born, mighty creatures empowered by the angels to fight in their battles alongside them.
During this time, hundreds of angels succumbed to the whispers of Agares. These fell from the service to the angel that had created them. To this day, Agares has more angels in his service than any other angel, but none of them were created by his hand. Even his archangel, Hyborem, is a corruption of another’s creation.
Cernunnos, the great horned one, was the archangel of Sucellus. He dared to attack Agares directly. Agares picked up the powerful archangel and showed him visions of himself dark and corrupted. So powerful was the vision that it became real, splitting Cernunnos into two creatures. They were identical in form but the new creature, which Agares named Hyborem, was dark in aspect and colored in blood. Hyborem and Cernunnos fought, but neither could defeat the other. As such, even the archangel of Agares was stolen from another, created merely as a perversion of the natural.
Sucellus and Danalin remained largely out of the fighting, and instead tended to their respective groups of men that venerated them and became changed over time by the close presence of their own patron god. For Sucellus these men become the Ljosalfar, elves born to nature. For Danalin these men become the Aifons, men who could breathe water as well as air.
Mankind, the greatest pride of the gods, was almost threatened with extinction. Immanuel Logos, a tribal leader, began the order of the Elohim at the close of this age to care for those injured in the Godswar.
Seeing the devastation they were wrecking on the lands and that they would have nothing to show but bloody battlefields when the One returned, Dagda commanded the fighting to stop. With the aid of Arawn, Kilmorph and Oghma, he threatened to fight against whoever acted aggressively in the conflict. Dagda had enough angels that agreed with him that the others knew it was pointless to fight him. The gods met and the Compact was formed, an agreement that the gods would withdraw and only interfere with creation through certain limited means. As a symbol of this alliance, a weapon of great power was made – the Godslayer. Created as a weapon with the power to slay a god, which was given over to the most powerful of human men, a warrior named Finner. This was a power that none of the gods held on their own.
For some, the Compact goes too far. Basium, the archangel of Arawn, disobeyed it and continues his battle against the Infernal regardless of the Compact. For others, it does not reach far enough. Cassiel, the archangel of Dagda, rebelled, believing that the gods should withdrawal completely from creation instead of using men to fight their battles for them. Cassiel entered creation to teach men to ignore the will of the gods.
The Third Age: Age of Magic
The war still continued, but more subtly than before. Saved from the destruction of the Godswar, man is able to form civilizations. One empire of men is created, Patria, and its people learn from and trade with the Ljosalfar and the Aifons. It was during these days that the angels began to share their gifts with the races of the land. For the first time healers and druids began to appear. Each of the angels began to teach their followers in different ways, but the most powerful of these teachings came from Ceridwen, she sought to teach men the powers of the angels themselves, the men called it magic.
The Patrian nation became strong. Basium’s battles largely took place in hell during this period, while Cassiel was revered among the Patrians who are more philosophical than religious. The children of Os-Gabella, vampires who have learned to leech life from others to sustain their own, are a scourge to mankind and the only real predators to humanity. It is the most peaceful time in man’s existence.
During this time, Kheldon Ki sculpts the dwarves from his prison home and they are given life by Kilmorph. They tunnel out over a few generations, exploring the underworld. They settle on hills near the human lands. After abuse by corrupt Patrian merchants, many had retreated back to their tunnels, forming the unified nation of the Khazad. Other tribes stayed on the surface, creating the Luchuirp, open-sky dwarves.
Kylorin became the king of the Patrians. He was a wise and popular ruler, loved by his people. When his wife betrayed him, Kylorin considered suicide by jumping from the top of his palace. Ceridwen, Queen of Pain, talked to him there, offering him another deal. That she would give Kylorin eternal youth and have his wife be resurrected in a new form each time she dies so that he may find and remarry her without the memory of her betrayal. The price was that Kylorin would worship Ceridwen and lead the Patrians according to her desires. Kylorin agreed.
Ceridwen gifted Kylorin with eternal youth and taught him magic. He became the first archmage and began teaching others how to use magic to enforce his ever more corrupt rule over Patria. In a few generations his rule is absolute and vile. Sorcerers practice bizarre experiments, creating creatures like manticores, chimera and trolls, and rule the fiefdoms in their control as gods. Kylorin directly trained twenty-one students and puts each in charge of a separate magical school.
These were the names of Kylorin’s students:
*Air – Greysun
*Body – Kezef (whose experiments killed all the animals on the Grigi plains)
*Chaos – Carnivean
*Creation – Majen (elven)
*Death – Barbatos
*Dimensional – Os-Gabella
*Earth – Jenkin
*Enchantment – Velgyr
*Entropy – Asmoday
*Fire – Mikel Dylantyr
*Force – Paimon
*Ice – Badb
*Law – Soqed Hozi
*Life – Leucetios
*Metamagic – Gastrius
*Mind – Perpentach
*Nature – Herve
*Shadow – Wode (elven)
*Spirit – Laroth (who would create his own empire in the underworld)
*Sun – Tamesis
*Water – Trenton Majosi (Aifon)
In those days there was no good magic, only good priests and very powerful evil wizards. There was only so much magic on a plane and man did not have the angels’ ability to reach out to separate planes for their power. This wasn’t much of a problem because the magic of the plane was enough to power the relatively few wizards that Ceridwen had taught to channel it. But as more wizards learned to channel magic it became harder for any individual wizard to cast the more powerful spells.
While the wizards numbered few, these were the days of the most powerful of wizards ever to exist. They were evil and created many evil artifacts, some of which still exist to this age. Fire was a holy weapon in these days and the goodly men’s only defense against the unholy power of magic. Although it was rare for a wizard to fall, when they did it was almost always to the flames of the righteous.
The days of the Age of Magic were days of relatively peaceful times but always with strong undercurrents of superstition and fear. Spells could destroy cities or swallow seas, and magical weapons could make a farmer’s son into the most powerful of heroes, but it always had a cost. Kylorin eventually became regretful of what he had done to the empire of men and prayed for help. Nantosuelta answered these prayers and taught him how to be an even more powerful mage. Kylorin used that power to lead a rebellion in his own empire. He set about subduing or killing the sorcerers who refuse to repent, though some escape his purge.
Perpentach was a master of mind magic and a favored student of Kylorin. Kylorin was unwilling to kill him, imprisoning him instead in a dungeon in the Tower of Eyes, guarded by unthinking golems. But Perpentach was more talented than Kylorin suspected, and was able to send his consciousness out wandering further and further from his prison. Searching, creating illusions and controlling minds miles from the dungeon in a process that strained him to the point of fracturing his mind. But he drew hundreds of men to his prison, made them fight and defeat the golems, release him, and declare him their ruler.
The war splinters the empire with Kylorin leading good religious forces against the creations and unholy magic of the sorcerers. By the end, nine human nations have been formed:
*The Elohim, keepers of memories and guardians of the sacred parts of the world
*The Bannor, keepers of the sacred fire and the greatest enemies of the sorcerers
*The Malakim, desert nomads and men of faith
*The Lanun, traders and seamen
*The Hippus, horselords and mercenaries
*The Grigori, followers of Cassiel
*The Balseraphs, lead by the sorcerer Perpentach
*The Illians, who dwelt in the tundra and ravaged lands
*The Calabim, who became ruled by Alexis and Flauros
Creation settled into its new form. There were still many powerful evils in the world. Such as, the sorcerers who still hid in the land and the monsters who roamed the wilderness now that their masters were dead. There were many jobs for adventurers willing to recover lost artifacts or investigate hidden areas. Also, there were wars.
It was during this time that the Aifon Trenton Majosi set out on a quest to save his people. He returned with the only salvation possible, a ritual that would allow Danalin to enter creation and save his children. Rather than take the risk of reigniting to the Godswar, Trenton didn’t perform the ritual and both he and the Aifons were destroyed. The loss of his children from creation caused Danalin to withdraw, falling into a sleep from which he hasn’t yet awoken.
Agares, the first to fall, whispered to Bhall, the Angel of Fire, and she eventually succumbed to his words. This was the end of the Age of Magic. Bhall fell from heaven and that night the sky rained fire. Men of the Bannor, along with all others who had worshipped Bhall, save those who at the time were in the Bannor capital of Barduk, were transformed into hideous orcish races, redubbing themselves the Clan of Embers. The capital of the Bannor empire, which held Bhall’s greatest temple, dropped with her into hell.
The ritual uncovered by Trenton Majosi had found its way into the hands of the Illians. They had no fear of a Godswar, since Bhall was responsible for opposing their patron deity Mulcarn. With Bhall fallen, their lord was unopposed and this dispossessed people saw an opportunity to have more than the scraps left for them by the rest of humanity.
The world was on fire and although many seers and prophets immediately knew when the ritual began, few empires could afford to send armies to stop the ritual when it was being performed. Only the Luchuirp rallied an army. They were golem makers so the burning food supplies didn’t affect their army as strongly as other nations. The Luchuirp assailed the Illian capital with the full force of their battle machines, but they were too late. Just as they broke through the city walls, Mulcarn entered creation and with a whisper the Luchuirp army was wiped out.
A permanent winter set in across creation.
The Forth Age: Age of Ice
The gods considered this breaking of the Compact. They were unwilling to restart the Godswar, but couldn’t let Mulcarn move into creation unchallenged. They agreed to let one god go into creation to fight Mulcarn. That god was Sucellus, the God of Nature.
Sucellus entered creation and battled with Mulcarn. At the same time the Ljosalfar turned on themselves. They had agreed to share power between two queens, one to rule during summer and the other during winter. The winter queen claimed dominance for years as winter showed no signs of ending and refused to give up the throne. This argument created a civil war and the new branch loyal to the winter queen called themselves the Svartalfar.
Sucellus lost the battle and was killed by Mulcarn. Creation froze even further and the elves were forced to stop their civil war as they could no longer mobilize armies or travel. They tried to find hidden places in the world to remain, and waited for the winter to end to continue their war.
The empires of man were crushed by the blizzards and the power of Mulcarn. A few scattered tribes remained, but even these were little more than animals on the edge of survival. All the advancement of the Age of Magic was lost.
The Illians themselves lived better than most, but their god had little compassion and even they were forced to forgo basic conveniences or technology to maintain the unchanging will of Mulcarn.
Some tribes gathered together into a new civilization, the Doviello. These men embraced their bestial nature and became more like a pack of wolves then men. They served a use to Mulcarn by hunting and killing other tribes, and not interfering with the actions of the Illians. And they had little interest in the advancement and change that Mulcarn abhorred so they were allowed to remain.
One corner of Erebus held a respite from the winter. The fiery pit that had been the temple dedicated to Bhall held a small portion of her essence, and so continued to burn, giving shelter to the orcs, who prospered in their corner of the world. Meanwhile their kin of Barduk, the last of the Bannor, trapped in hell, faced a constant struggle for survival. Junil, admiring their determination, sent his archangel Sabathiel to lead them out. They emerged late in the Age of Ice, in the heart of the orcish territory, sparking a rivalry that persisted for generations.
Creation would have remained indefinitely like this had Kylorin not returned. He gathered the scattered tribes of men under one banner, naming them the Amurites. He reforged the broken pieces of the Godslayer and took it into battle against Mulcarn, killing him and ending the Age of Ice.
The Fifth Age: Age of Rebirth
After the death of the God of Winter, Sucellus was reborn, now the God of Life, shortly thereafter his archangel Cernunnos was commissioned to succeed him as the new God of Nature. For the first time a god passed between the underworld and creation and doorways were opened between these realms. Through one, a group of living elves, pulled long ago into the Dungeon of Laroth, escaped. They brought with them some stolen tomes from Laroth’s studies in the underworld. One of which would be used by Sandalphon to teach men to become shades and create the Sidar.
Much like the Doviello of the prior age, men from various tribes began to gather under a dark banner. This time they are responding to a promise of arcane power. Lead by Tebryn Arbandi and Os-Gabella they are called the Sheaim, powerful summoners who share their secrets openly.
Lastly Hastur, archangel of Mammon, invaded the watery vault of Danalin. Finding the god still sleeping, Hastur began whispering to him, causing nightmares that are reflected in creation.
When the ice receded, life had once again returned to areas that had been left vacant. Man was forced to rebuild again but did so a bit stronger, and a bit more knowledgeable than he had before. There were more sorcerers than there had ever been, but that wasn’t to say they were common. Because of this, any individual sorcerer’s power didn’t compare to the legendary powers of the sorcerers of the Age of Magic. The elves still remained split, and although most have returned to the sunlit surface, some made a pact with darker forces and opted to stay in their deep home.
It is now the beginning of the Age of Rebirth. The Compact of Dagda has broken into two factions, one dedicated to Dagda and another dedicated to his former archangel, Cassiel, who continued to argue that the gods should follow the example of the One and turn their backs on creation and allow it to succeed or falter on its own, not as part of their schemes.
Only in retrospect will the point that marks the move into the next age be known. It is suspected that the next age will be known as the Age of Enlightenment and be marked by a dramatic polarization of good and evil, law and chaos which will be followed by the return of the One, and the judgment that ends creation. Some sages predict that that Age of Enlightenment is already upon us and point to the nearly fanatical discipline imposed by the Bannor as evidence, a rigid allegiance so intolerant of infractions; it is now becoming difficult to distinguish it from the planes of most evil totalitarianisms.
Evil cults seem to be taking root in even the most peaceful of farmland villages. Adventurers are sorely pressed to keep up with the activity as new creatures are spawned and ancient creatures are awakened to terrorize the land. In the shadows, it is whispered that the Godslayer may not be capable of killing a god forever and Mulcarn may return. Sages fear that like Sucellus, he may return more powerful than he left. Other rumors speak of a group of men that have found the gems at the center of the elemental planes that Agares stole so long ago. They say the gems of death, water and air are all being held by mortal men, now with as much power as the gods themselves.
It is said the outer planes mirror this activity, the long dormant war of belief on the planes has taken on new urgency, every planar border city taken is celebrated as if those commanding the war know the battle is almost done. Mankind has proven that it does not need the gods to survive; its growing maturity is removing the innocence that protected it so long ago.