Tales of the Traveler
“Your lands and your peoples are forfeit. Those who submit to slavery will be spared. To the rest, we offer only the succor of a swift death.”
-Bethryll Sora XII’s declaration of war against the Western nations, in its entirety.
In 842 of the Fifth Era, Raspa declared a crusade against the Bekh Tkhad legions of Cherrok Minh. This was nothing new; what was strange was the fact that none of the Destroyer’s minions arrived to meet the Raspan legions on the battlefield. The crusading army encountered nothing save deserted outposts and the occasional band of frantic refugees, fleeing desperately from the Korad heartland. Emboldened by his enemy’s apparent cowardice, King Glorious II of Raspa sent the bulk of his legions on a direct assault of Orgat Bekh, the heart of Minh’s power in western Koradzil. Neither that army nor any word of its fate returned.
The Soren Empire, having spent the centuries since its founders’ exile expanding and consolidating its power, had at last returned to the surface world. The Bekh Tkhad, as the strongest regional power throughout Koradzil, had been all but exterminated in the initial assault; while the Western Nations had been occupied with their aeons-old squabbles, this mysterious invader had ruthlessly and efficiently conquered the bulk of eastern Koradzil, and was now inexorably marching westward.
The Western Nations began frantically to prepare for war, but were utterly unprepared for what was to come. Western military strategy had long-since stagnated, coming to consist of a highly ritualized and inflexible set of rules and assumptions; Western generals were caught off their guard by the Empire’s sheer numbers and comparatively unpredictable tactics. Within two years, the remaining forces of both Raspa and Laumus had barricaded themselves within their capital cities in preparation of a last stand.
The clergy of Volaria finally managed to unite a coalition of the Western Nations, and of the Elves, Dwarves, and Gnomes. This allied force then effected a desperate counter-attack, which succeeded in driving the Empire as far back as Orgat Bekh; there, however, the drive stalled. With their supply lines severed and a massive Imperial force moving in for the kill, the coalition forces barricaded themselves within Orgat Bekh and prepared for the end.
With the survival of the West at stake, the Volarian High Priest executed a last-ditch plan. Through the use of newly-rediscovered magic of incredible power, a small force composed of the West’s most renowned heroes was sent beyond the bounds of the Mortal Plane. In violation of ancient laws – both Mortal and Divine – these heroes traveled across the Astral Plane to the hells of Sheol. There, they confronted and – miraculously – killed Brusha, the Goddess of the Soren Empire. Brusha’s clergy – who formed the Imperial bureaucracy – were suddenly stripped of their powers, and Bethryll Sora XXII was forced to recall her armies to prevent the overnight collapse of Imperial society. With neither side in any condition to pursue further hostilities, the Western Nations and the Soren Empire entered into a reluctant cease-fire, which has persisted for sixty years to the present day.
The Western world had been saved, but at a heavy price. The enormity of Mortals having slain a God had far-reaching implications, not the least of which was the abdication of Fayr Srex, the God of Raspa. The Volarian clergy have tried to keep secret the method of escaping the Mortal Plane, but magi both within the Western Nations and the Soren Empire work day and night to solve the puzzle. The nations of the West have returned to their infighting, even as the uneasy peace begins to strain. The Empire, meanwhile, has turned to the worship of a new Goddess – the dreaded Imar, long-forgotten mother of Sorcery.