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Let’s start at the beginning.
At first, there was nothing – a millisecond later, there was everything. In the great cataclysms of creation, the First Four were born: Ytar, Goddess of Fire. Ather, God of Air. Emitaf, Goddess of Water. And Ogun, God of the Earth. For a thousand years, they would dance across the universe, creating all the cosmic beauty and devastation within it.
As they danced with each other they birthed more Deities. Ytar and Ather had Siforr (God of the Sun), while Ogun and Emitaf brought forth the the trixter Ius (God of the Moon). It was under the spell of the Moon that Emitaf and Ather did meet, creating Yala (Goddess of Life) and Morduki (God of Death). This infidelity shattered their Divine House, and sent the First Four into the corners of the universe, as far from each other as they each could manage. It was here would remain, agreeing only that there were to be no more Gods.
Morduki, the God of Death, was more than happy to oblige this decree – but his sister Life would not be so restrained.
She danced with Siforr and summoned the sisters Ova (Goddess of Beasts), Radia (Goddess of Will) and Wodea (Goddess of Plants). She danced with the Moon and conjured the brothers of Ocarus (God of Dreams), Etos (God of Peace) and Pelios (God of Emotion). Because she was Life, she loved the lives of her children. Because she was their mother, she taught them to love and to dance.
Wodea and Ocarus grew trees so tall that their skin turned hard as iron and divinity was trapped within their branches. The trees filtered this power into their roots, creating Xunos (Goddess of the Wild), who in turn brought forth the Elves to tend her new garden. Radia was seduced by Etos and Pelios, calling forth Lordros (God of Fate) and Voara (Goddess of Force), respectfully. Ova and Ocarus brought forth Vistrix (Goddess of Chaos), Shakti (Goddess of Illusion) and Epona (Goddess of Knowledge).
The Trickster Moon lay with many of his grandchildren. Voara bore him Rapel (God of Magnetism), while his union with Epona summed Kalos (God of Invention). The Gods of Magnetism and Invention would later combine their power and forge Dwarves from stone and magic. Vistrix was Ius’s favorite, and their millenia-long tryst gave birth to Ceato (God of the Sea), Atuna (Goddess of Magic) and Jodar (God of Luck).
Ova was wild, as beasts often are, and the sons of Ius were seduced by her life made flesh. Ova and Etos allowed for Tir (God of Travel), Sah (God of the Astral Plane) and Mivia (Goddess of Time). Ova and Pelios shook the heavens with their love, and called forth seven children: Gaidir (God of Sport), Mightos (Goddess of Strength), Cenos (God of Speed), Udea (Goddess of Vitality), Aurras (Goddess of Sound), Vodon (God of War) and Hilo (God of Flight).
Radia and Etos recoiled in horror at the disorder wrought by their siblings’ children, and lay together to bring about Barros (God of Order).
The families squabbled, as families are wont to do, but the Gods maintained a delicate balance by agreeing to return to the First Law: no more Gods. And for six thousand years, there were none.
Zavan, God of Man
Dwarves were the first of men to be given magic, as they were jealous of the Elves and their millennia of life. They became fierce guardians of this new power, which they used to create great feats of architecture and technology. And once their towering Dwarves halls could be made no more magnificent, they set about shaping the world.
Centuries of dominance made many of the Dwarves as selfish and petty as the Gods. The Elves eventually grew tired of their constant waring and stole the secrets of magic from them, teaching the knowledge to the others races in order to restore balance. Enraged, the Dwarves declared war on all the races of man, and the Hundred Years War began.
As death and turmoil spread across the land without intervention, mankind grew distant from the Gods. The first human city of Ani rapidly expanded as more and more people fled to the walls of the Capital to seek reprieve from the unending violence. The city prospered, a shining light in the darkness that threatened to consume all. Man began to idolize his own creations over the Divinity of the Gods.
When the millionth person was born inside Ani’s sprawling slums, mankind also birthed its first God – a simple but wise farmer known as Zavan. As he was now an omnipotent being blessed with the practicality and impatience of a mortal, Zavan immediately set about improving Ani, raising towering walls that carried magically purified water along the tops of it’s ivory embattlements. He dug a great canal that brought this water into the heart of the city, blessing its inhabitants with good health and bountiful crops.
With the Capital in order, Zavan set about ending the Hundred Years War and unifying the five kingdoms under his rule. In just over a decade he united the races and cities under a single banner, forging the most powerful kingdom the world had ever seen.
The speed at which the God of Man worked, combined with the ease at which he wielded his powers within his own realm, terrified the old Gods and goaded them into swift action (swift for immortal beings, at any rate).
At the height of the Hundred Years War, many Gods grew wary of man’s increasing power. A pact was formed from an unlikely cabal of Siforr, Xunos, Vodon, Vistrix, Voara and Barros. On the first day of the second year of Zavan, they attacked all at once, intent on killing the God of Man with a single strike.
What they had not planned on was Death finally taking a lover. They had certainly not planned on how fiercely he would fight to protect him. The titanic conflict that ensued quickly spilled across the entire pantheon as each Deity was forced to chose a side.
The Great Godswar had begun. It would barely last an hour.
The Breaking of the World
As the Gods battled for control over the mortal realm, they tore the planet asunder. Millions of creatures died within minutes as divine energies not seen since the creation of the universe were harnessed as sword and shield.
In the final moments of the hour-long war, Zavan gave his life defending the five nations. Siforr struck at him again and again, sundering the land with earthquakes and volcanos. In order to save the city of Ani, Zavan sacrificed a third of Kadar and much of the countryside surrounding the capitol city as it sank beneath of the waters of a new inland sea. In his dying moments, Zavan willed his Divinity into the fabric of his armor, weapons, clothing and crown, and then willed these artifacts to a simple farmer from Kadar named Jakub Kladivo. The last artifacts ever forged will be forever bonded to the most worthy of those born within the Five Kingdoms.
As the storm that had engulfed the entire world bore down on the five kingdoms, Zavan gathered the raging magical forces that had been unleashed upon his world and used them to form a permanent barrier protecting the ravaged nations from the destruction of the planet. The survivors of the Five Kingdoms put out the fires and rebuilt what they could of their former lives.
The five kingdoms sent explorers to every edge of the World Storm on land and sea. Those that returned reported a swirling, impassible wall of wind and lighting over a mile high, and so dense with dirt and debris that vision stopped soon after the storms’ edge. Others reported huge, winged beasts darting in and out of the tops of the storm clouds. After a decade of search and scholarly debate, the leaders of the new world came to a grim conclusion: the Godswar had destroyed the entire world, save for a broken, scorched, drowned continent shielded from oblivion by the dying oath of the last God.
With a sea now separating the Five Kingdoms and a demigod unwilling to use his new powers to force compliance, the union of nations quickly broke apart. The Capital City of Ani remains fiercely loyal to their Godking, safe within their unassailable walls. The South was split in two with the rocky, forested East returning to ancient royal bloodlines in order to keep peace, and the fertile West breaking into a dozen fiefdoms loosely united under an elected council.
The small nation of Ryzan, newly rich with a mile-wide ore of gold that erupted to the surface during the Godswar, gave birth to an unusual form of government. Nearly every public sector position, from Czars to local council leaders, is won by who can pay the most to run the department for that cycle (half a decade). Elections are a simple matter – candidates wager an amount they believe is enough to win, and then run a campaign to encourage the public to “vote” for them by donating to their election pot. All donations and totals are kept secret until the election is over and the vaults, magically warded against theft and sealed to prevent tampering, are inventoried. The winner is the candidate who amassed the most money. This system also allows for a tax-free society, as all of the “votes” are gathered to form the budget for that department over the next five years.
The largest and most northern of the five kingdoms fell into decades of anarchy as famine and disease ran rampant. Out of this chaos a Priesthood arose whose acolytes preached mortal solidarity – foolish, petty Gods destroyed this world, so man should reject all things Godly.
This order sent Inquisitors to every corner of their broken nation, bringing relief in the form of food, supplies and labor. Their priests carried gems mined from deep within the Dwarven Capital of Gal-Hadir that glowed in reaction to the presence of magic. They used these stones to collect and destroy items infused with magic, and repurposed enchanted weapons to forge anti-magic Bane Swords.
The independent nation of Utea was blasted down to the bedrock by Siforr with only small pockets of life surviving.
By infusing the last of his Divinity into his possessions and arms, Zavan passed on a great deal of power to Jakub Kladivo, a humble but bright young farmer from the Northern Kingdom. His inherited swords, armor, cloak, boots, helmet, gauntlets, belt and tabard were artifact-level items, instantly transforming him into the world’s last Demigod.
After a period of adjustment to near-Godhood, Jakub set about putting the great city of Ani in order. He established a ruling council staffed half by public vote and half by royal bloodline. The throne secure, he turned his attention to the shattered remains of his once proud kingdom.
Though hunger would would claim many over the next decade, Jakub was able to organize a fleet of relief vessels in an attempt to stem the starvation. And while their most fertile lands had been lost to the scorching rays of the Sun, ash from the Burning Eye caused lands in the North to flourish.
An island chain formed by lava in the Godswar become havens for the root vegetable stables of the North. Admiral Yosef Kadar claimed these islands for the people, and turned what was left of his navy into a national farming relief effort. In order to foster peace, Jakub gifted a hundred ships to Admiral Kadar, allowing him to suppress the various warlords that had carved up the North and spread humanitarian aid to all in need.
In the 33rd year after the Breaking of the World, the Empire of Kadar was officially chartered. Twenty-two years later, the Empire would declare war on the Godking.Backed by the technology of the Northern Dwarves, a powerful navy and gold from Ryzan, Kadar invaded the South.
Their superior numbers and equipment allowed Kadarian troops to overwhelm the Republic of Wessel, followed quickly by much of Eastern Brenus. The Dwarves of the East stood in opposition to their world-conquering brethren and forged an alliance with the Elves of the Ironwood and the Humans of the Highgrass Plains, and held the invading army at the Voiceless Peaks.
Desperate to break the stalemate, Kadar agreed to begin transferring the magical items, armor and equipment they gathered during the Southern Campaign to Gal-Hadir. Weapons were still reserved for the crafting of new Bane Swords, but all other items were turned over to Dwarves.They broke them down in massive lava forges and used the raw magical elements to create horrific stone and metal golems that feed Kadar’s war machine.
Though pressed hard, the Eastern front held due in no small part to the clans of Ents and Trolls that lumbered out of their forests and marshes to meet these inhuman giants eye-to-eye. The battle was turned, and within a year Royal forces loyal to Ani would take the Highlands of Kadar, and establish their will over the banks of Ryzan. Without their gold to fund the war, Kadar had no choice but to agree to a peace accord in the 48th year since the Breaking of the World.
The Fifty Year Peace
Sufficiently cowed by King Kladivo’s combined forces (as well as his ever-increasing God-like might), the Kadarian Empire agreed to peace largely on the capitol’s terms. They would rejoin the greater empire not as subjects of the King, but as a voice in a representational Senate.
Each of the Five Kingdoms would have votes in the senate equal to one for every ten thousand of their citizens (A census is taken every ten years, led by royal forces from Ani with delegates from each of the Kingdoms). King Kladivo would rule as Emperor of this government, with the ability to veto any proposed legislation. The Senate can override this Royal veto with a two-thirds majority vote.
With democracy established (as well an excuse to keep troops in every corner of the empire on a continual basis), Jakub reigned over fifty years of peace, interrupted only by occasional terrorist actions from pockets of Kardarian loyalists.
While Ani remains both popular and powerful, Kadar retains much of its influence over Ryzan, as well as a unrivaled Navy and Army.