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No mortal truly knows the state of things before the birth of our world. Manuscripts written by Septons whose bones have long ago crumbled to dust report that before the arrival of the first god, a dark and shapeless void stretched to infinity in every direction. This god, whom we call Illumitas for a lack of true knowledge, was reportedly greater of stature and power than any god worshipped in the present day.
The Time of the Gods
Being peerless as he was, Illumitas grew weary of his old existence and stepped forth from the beyond to explore the void. At first the deity was delighted by the formlessness of his new environs but in time he once again became bored.
Illumitas drifted into sleep and began to dream. In his dream he saw a new world hanging in the void, a world populated by many lesser beings. Illumitas was amused and intrigued by these beings, watching their struggles in his dream for some time and always from a distance.
When he woke, the deity was pleased to see that during his repast he had already begun to form this dream world from the only material available - his own body! Illumitas decided to complete this world, as leaving it unfinished would be wasteful of his own power and would ensure his tedium for millennia to come. And so his bones became mountains, his flesh formed the stretching plains, and the riverbeds and deeps were filled with his blood. The deity plucked out his right eye and set it afire so that it would provide heat and light to his creation.
Illumitas marveled at the world he had fashioned, for it was a wondrous accomplishment indeed. The beautiful sphere from his dreams now hung in the void before him, a perfect paradise that practically begged to be occupied by the many creatures he had envisioned. The work had proven quite taxing to the deity, however, and Illumitas fell into a deep slumber.
The Dark Powers
Unfortunately, another had been watching the mighty god at work. This dark being, who none dare to name, coveted the sphere for his own purposes. He knew that he was no match for the first god, even asleep and debilitated as Illumitas was. He Who Is Made Of And Dwells In Darkness then enlisted the help of two others to execute his foul designs. Together with Nox the Putrescent and a brutal warrior god called Grak, Darnkess fell upon the sleeping form of Illumitas and tore him to pieces. But then something happened that he could not have anticipated.
Illumitas had been dreaming of new life and subconsciously created it at the same time. Seven new deities sprung fully formed out of his corpse to challenge the trio of Darkness. War reigned for a time and the newly made planet was severely damaged. Eventually the Seven (called the Sept by modern mortals) triumphed, sealing the three dark gods into chasms deep in the planet’s core.
While the Sept battled the dark powers, one last creation of Illumitas awakened. In a huge cavern deep in the mountains, the spine of Illumitas’ slain body rose again as the dragon god, Draconus. He was huge, and magnificent, and powerful beyond mortal knowledge. He took no part in the battles of the Sept and the dark powers, and instead turned his powers to coaxing his first children into the world. He used his magical arts to transform the last fragments of bones into the first dragons, who became his loyal followers.
The Golden Age
Once the evil deities were sealed in their prison, the Sept surveyed the damage and began to repair the ravages inflicted upon the masterpiece of the first god. The Soldier and the Knight cleared the wreckage while the Smith forged discarded material into new landscapes; the Elemental renewed the foliage while the Mother tended the wounds of her brethren. Even the Scholar was active in this endeavor, for only he knew the exact dimensions of the world when it was first made.
So it came to be that the Stranger was first to discover that the gods were not alone. Illumitas was enormous and had died in the midst of a creative dream. The Sept were only the first things that had sprung from his corpse, guardians of all that came after them.
Returning to the spot where the first deity had died, the Stranger found a veritable explosion of life. Birds, beasts, men, Elves, and faeries were all present. The Stranger led these creatures to where the sphere hung in the void and the gods unanimously decided that they should dwell there on the lush continent of Vargainen as Illumitas had planned. The gods even lived among mortals for a while, for they quickly learned that men and Elves were similar to themselves, if a bit less majestic.
So the Scholar taught them language and philosophy, that they might communicate with the gods and each other. The Mother made them fertile so their races might continue on even after individuals have perished. The Elemental gave the gift of agriculture, that they might feed themselves and always respect the power of nature. The Soldier taught men and Elves the ways of battle so they would have the means to defend themselves in a world that was wild and untamed. The Knight taught them the concepts of law and honor so they would know when and why to use the gift of the Soldier. The Smith instructed the sentient races in many crafts, even taking many of the best artisans to live in Voltanicus, his underground stronghold. Finally, the Stranger gave mortals the Well, a final resting place for their very sparks even after their mortal forms had perished.
Though most men and Elves had been nomadic hunter-gatherers before, they soon began to congregate into villages. As mortals learned more and more from the gods, some villages grew into cities and civilizations flourished.
Three great countries as well as a dozen city-states sprung up in this age and the wilds of Vargainen were pushed further and further north. The nation of Andar became particularly wealthy and influential during this period. The capital city Andarsin boasted the largest library and greatest university in the world; its markets were so vast that anything one might want could easily be found there.
It was the Andarans, with the help of the Knight and the Smith, who built the fortress Wahkarn over the prison of the dark powers. Upon its completion, the virtuous and mighty man Kalbis the Bold founded the Templars of Wahkarn. This knightly order took up the vital task of guarding the sealed portal that enclosed the triumvirate of evil deities. Centuries passed and peace reigned.
The Dark Powers Are Released
As thousands of years passed, the people of Andar, particularly the Templars of Wahkarn, came to regard themselves as beloved of the Sept. In truth, all mortals held the favor of the Sept in those days, but the Andarans became filled with pride and overzealous righteousness.
A small faction within the Templars began to question exactly what they were guarding. They could feel great power beneath their feet and began to ask if the gods had not hidden something from them. Nobody knows for sure, but it is thought that Darkness had found a way to bleed a small measure of his power beyond the barrier. Whether the cause was dark magic or simple faithlessness, the results were the same.
This rogue faction of Templars destroyed the portal and released the dark powers into the world once more. The trio of Darkness “rewarded” any Andarans they found by twisting them into their own image. Elves became goblins and the race of orcs was born from human stock. Light fae were infused with evil, and their hearts darkened. The gods gathered their armies and a terrible war ensued.
The world was nearly torn asunder for a second time. Some scribes claim that the mysterious dragon god known as Draconus fled the sphere amidst this chaos, creating the moon as his sanctuary and thus initiating the slow decline of his progeny.
In the end Vargainen, the continent where mortals had always dwelled, was undone and crumbled into the sea. So many lives were lost that it did not take the wisdom of the Scholar to know this war would eventually destroy the world.
All the gods struck a bargain by which they would never again walk the sphere in their true forms but rely upon mortal worshippers to decide the fate of Illumitas’ masterpiece. All mortals were deposited upon the former home of the deities, and the continent was re-named Novitas (the new land). The gods then withdrew from the world, crafting a magic circle around it to ensure that no immortal could physically reach the sphere again.