Chronicles of Kessandria
The First Age
In the beginning, the races of Kessandria lived in peace through virtue of seclusion from one another. For thousands of years, the elves contentedly kept to their ancestral realm of Epos, the halflings to Seyos, the gnomes to Aneos, the humans to Laeos, the tieflings to Castrynea, and the dragonborn to Rhaevryn.
In the vast lands of Eukareth, dwarves built their famous golden cities while orcs terrorized the wilds, and in the mountains throughout the world, tribal and reclusive goliaths stayed far from the eyes of those who were wise enough to let them be.
Unbeknowst to all, the ashy-skinned drow and their matriarchal society ruled the vast caverns beneath them all in silent seclusion, sovereigns of darkness and terrors unknown.
This is how it always was, and so all thought that it was supposed to be.
The War of Lost Souls
Unfortunately, it is not the nature of beings to leave well enough alone. The beckoning call of power speaks to those with dreams of ambition and glory, and as each race slowly sought to widen their claims upon the earth, it was inevitable that they would eventually discover one another.
Territory disputes began to erupt at the behest of leaders both greedy to expand the greatness of their peoples and fearful of others doing the same at their expense. In the year of 10,493, a devastating war broke out which would consume humanity for nearly three centuries and would go down in the history books as The War of Lost Souls.
It is said to have begun with a clashing of the elves and their neighbors the halflings amongst the Slumbering Hills, then in the great river valleys of Aneos between the gnomes of the north and the humans of the south. Many had already fallen and cities lay in ruin by the year 10,527 when the dwarves became inclined to join in the chaos, stretching out in all directions by virtue of their proud heritage of superior fighting prowess. They served as opportunists, picking up many of the scraps that had been left behind after years of devastation, eager to spread the reign of their king far and wide.
Faced with the new dwarven expansion and weary from their long-fought battles amongst themselves, the northern races knew that they would not long survive the knocking of this new foe at their doors. Called to a cease fire and a meeting in the elven capital of Aeleth Aensar by Lord Illyrios Aleanrae, the four races sat down together for the first time to discuss the troubling turn their war had taken. After so many years in enmity of one another, leaders of the elves, gnomes, humans and halflings chose to lay down their weapons and strike an accord. From then forth these kingdoms became known as the Northern Alliance.
The Northern Alliance
Their peace had just the effect that they had hoped. King Bolgan Firehammer, ruler of the dwarven kingdoms, called off his forces little less than a year later following his defeat at the fabled Battle of Krassather. What lands he had conquered were now much reclaimed by their former masters and the dwarves were left to lick their wounds in peace as long as they vowed to never again stand against the races of the north.
Unfortunately, the Alliance’s victory would be short lived as they marched further south, unknowingly emboldened, only to be met by the surprising ferocity of the dragonborn who had been watching their approach from the skies. While turmoil consumed the rest of the world, the draconic cities and their leaders had quietly prepared, amassing a fighting force beyond reckoning. The haughty and cunning dragonborn stood nigh untouchable, their front lines stacked with the countless tribes of orcs and goliaths to whom the Empress Malxora the Red had promised gold and glory.
The tides quickly turned, leaving the Alliance and their remaining forces retreating swiftly back north to the safety of their homes. They vowed to shift their focus to rebuilding their ancestral cities, realizing that further conquest was a dream born of greed and folly and contenting themselves to the vast lands to which were already their claim.
The Dragon Queen
The last Alliance banner had barely vanished from the horizon when the orcish king, Dread Lyolf, burst into the empress’s cloudtop palace with a score of goliath clan leaders at his heels. They came demanding the payment they had been promised—cities to conquer, treasure to covet—and Lyolf stood impatient to collect on their end of the bargain.
But Malxora was a greedy woman, and one who had never intended to spare so much as a silver piece in payment to this savage sellsword army of hers. She turned them away, and when they moved to attack her, showed not a hint of hesitation in raining the full force of her power upon them.
Still told are the stories of the horrific massacre that took place on that day. Fearsome breath of fire, ice, acid, poison and lightning ravaged the landscape as Malxora’s pet dragons chased the unwitting warriors away from Belsance Croft and into retreat in the foothills of the Draconian Summits.
A New Alliance Emerges
All but half of the goliaths were destroyed, and even more of the orcs. The mercenaries found themselves on the run, forced into begging for safe haven in the tiefling city of Labyrinth’s End, in western Castrynea. Upon reaching the city, however, it was to their great surprise to find that tieflings were not the only beings walking the shadowy streets. A race of dark-skinned, pale-haired elven creatures calling themselves “drow” had risen from below the surface in this place and been living in peace alongside their hosts for many years now.
While their dispositions were claimed to pale in comparison to the brutality of their kin dwelling beneath the earth, these “surface” drow and their militaristic society meshed well with that of the orcs and goliaths, as well as the ideals of the tiefling ruler, Courtmaster Cassarius IV. Their small corner of the world had long stayed out of the various conflicts springing up around them, but with the arrival of these new scorned allies, a blood-thirsty and bored Cassarius found this more than enough excuse to finally take out his own long-standing distaste for the dragonborn, whose arrogant self-importance had always grated upon his nerves.
The clash of the armies of Malxora and Cassarius was that of two forces of both insurmountable pride and obstinacy. Neither side would back down or give up, and in the end, the victor would come from those with the most hate to fuel their resolve. After a fortnight of battle, it was now Malxora chased from the floating golden towers of Belsance Croft, her dragons long fled into the night and her army in tatters at the fault of her own arrogance.
She was never seen again.
Once the court reached a safe haven in Goldcrest, the crown would pass to her daughter, Emersende the Silver. Wiser and more compassionate than her mother had been, Emersende sought to fix Malxora’s many mistakes. Knowing that their foes were too fueled by hatred to be stopped by diplomatic means, Emersende did what her mother would not—she reached out to the Northern Alliance and set Rhaevryn on a new path of cooperation and kinship with its former enemies.
The Mad King’s Curse
Cassarius was unfortunately not so wise.
After their defeat, the dragonborn under their new empress would have been content to simply leave his kingdom be so long as the tiefling ruler made no further threat towards them. Cassarius, however, had become arrogant with the thrill of his victory, consumed with a newfound savagery and self-assurance. When he demanded that his army march upon the draconian cities and burn them to the ground, little did he expect that they would be met by the full power of the elves, gnomes, halflings, humans and dwarves who had run to the defense of their new ally.
The clashes that were to follow were unquestionably amongst the bloodiest within written history. Their already struggling numbers facing a very real threat of total extinction, the goliaths and orcs turned around and retreated into the mountains, abandoning Cassarius and his foolish war. The drow followed not long after, unimpressed with the lack of all sense and strategy being employed by their adopted surface king. Those who had left the [The Underdark| Underdark]] originally due to its brutality now returned in droves, deciding that their chances were better in the horrors of its pitch black caverns than in the ranks of a hateful man’s army.
But even staring his loss in the face, Cassarius would not stand down. He had gone mad, they said, unhinged by his own bloodlust and hatred. Their fathers, mothers, brothers, and sisters being slaughtered in the fields of Rhaevryn for an empty cause, his people could follow the situation through to the same conclusion that their former allies had already:
It was them or their king. Only one could survive.
It was the year 10,542 when General Odenys, commander of Cassarius’s own army, rose against him with the swords of Castrynea at his back. The reluctant usurper was handed the crown, vowing to be a true ruler of the people—one who would never allow blood to stain the history of the tieflings again. The same day, he symbolically laid down his sword at the feet of Lord Illyrios, putting a final end to the war and heralding a new era of peace across the land.
Dawning of the Second Age
With the goal of peace and cooperation in mind, a new world order was established.
In the year 10,543, The Covenant of Order was finally signed. This document detailed the final accord between all of the civilized surface races, drafted just weeks after Odenys’s famous concession. Twice a year, each of the world leaders agreed to meet in the new world capital of Balmoral for a convention dubbed the Universal Assembly, where they would discuss the problems facing their peoples and the world at large. This show of international cooperation was unprecedented, but after the horrors of war, was welcomed nearly unanimously by the population at large.
The Second Age had begun.
And so it has reigned, for 3,000 years…