“What do you know of da Great Saga, ehh? Its da story, ya see? Da big one, da only one what matter. Its our story, all of us, all that fights an’ struggles – from da big bosses with their names carved in da stars, to da smallest grunt what lit da fire. Its what binds all da Realms together, an’ what rips ’em apart.
So, you gits ready for da next story?”
Hogrog ug Weirdklaw
Volume III – “The Prime Dominion”
“A Story of the Civil War of the Iscarneth Ceraphate in the Prime Dominion, a Forgotten Kingdom Beyond the Light Inimical of Haixiah, and of the Aelven Satraps of Virtue and Vice that Fought for the Throne; of a Son Spurred by Fated Choices and Cruel Destiny to Reclaim his Place amid the Realms; and of the Many and Varied Warriors of Fortune or Fate who answered the Call to Arms, as told by the Mad Orruk Hogrog Ug Weirdklaw, Wurrgog Speaker of the Great Saga, and Faithfully recorded by myself, your humble servant Nicodemeus Mikhail Grimm.“
Nicodemus Mikhail Grimm
The story of the Prime Dominion could be said to be a splinter of the Spirefall. As the Age of Chaos broke over Hyish, so too broke the aelven people, thrust down from their pedestals in karmic retribution for the hedonistic underbelly of their society.
It was in the wake of this disaster that a single Soulblight, Mithridates Alti, seized a rare opportunity for power in the Realm of Light. Knowing that only an aelf would be truly respected by others of his kind, he crafted a messiah to send out to the war-torn people. Alti made a pact with the preacher, the aelf Eresiel: Alti would show him to the Prime Dominion and allow him to rule it, in return for Eresiel’s loyalty.
It was in this way that Eresiel became Alti’s puppet in a court over aelvenkind. The Ceraph’s promise of paradise led six struggling tribes out of the aftermath of the Spirefall and into the Prime Dominion. Such an arrangement brought peace and stability to the hidden eden. Tribes became Satrapies; Eresiel became their Ceraph en Iscar, or Guardian of Iscarion, their capital city.
Much like everything aelven, everything was perfect – until it wasn’t. It is hard to tell just how much time passed following the first Ceraph’s union of the disparate tribes until his fall, but Mithridates Alti was naive not to expect it eventually. The Vampire Lord was absent as the six Satraps unmasked Eresiel for the Soulblight pawn he truly was. For the first, and perhaps last time, the Satraps united to brutally butcher him on the steps of his palace.
Thus, Mithridates Alti was robbed of his little kingdom, leaving behind a power vacuum almost as magnetic to the six Satraps as Noctis itself. The fragile peace has frayed and snapped, the promise of power reigniting centuries-old tribal grudges preserved in the Satrapies they birthed.
One thing is now for certain: a new leader must be born, whatever the cost.
At the heart of the Prime Dominion, the inviolate city of Iscarion shines in perpetual dawn. By ancient custom and accord, the conflicts of the satrapies are never brought into the walls of the city itself, for only barbarians would bring war into their own home. The peace that hangs over its walls and illuminated palaces is taut and brittle, however. All have heard rumours of the satraps marshalling their forces, of mercenaries arriving in numbers never before seen, and most concerningly of all, of the imminent return of Mithridates Alti.
For the citizens of Iscarion, shielded by ancient custom, this prelude to war has not been a hardship. The influx of mercenaries has brought soaring trade and exotic goods. What’s more, each of the Satraps knows that to successfully make their bid for the Ceraphate, they must win the support of the traditionally unaligned peoples of the capital city. Each has sought to out-do the others, proudly displaying their generosity and largess, their strength or their vision. For the time being, these displays have been only a boon to the citizens, yet the more prescient among them have already begun to whisper anxiously of the extents their leaders may go to to prove their superiority, and the security of a bond held together by custom alone.
Outside of Iscarion, the threat of the coming war hangs like a sword. Ancient fortifications are being rebuilt, borders armed and seas patrolled. Neighbors that once traded freely eye each other with distrust, misunderstandings and paranoia run rampant, and war-ready warriors stoke the fires on all sides. When war does break, as it seems now that it must, what side can afford not to take every possible advantage?
As each satrap vied to place themselves upon the throne, it was perhaps inevitable that the many simmering grudges, rivalries born of long-held hatreds or fresh grievances, would be the first to break into open war. For some conflicts, so deeply ingrained in the fabric of their bearers, there would be no chance of peace, no reconciliation – only war remained as the final arbiter.
Rune-sigils of the Celandec and the Teclandec
It should come as no surprise that the animosity between the Celandec and the Teclandec would be the first fault line to crack. For the Celandec, who have fought and struggled so hard for everything they have, the opulent plenty of the Teclandec is obscene. Dariel can claim that it was his insight and guidance that brought about that plenty, but Renaya’s people remember the lands that were stolen from them as they were pushed to the edges of the Prime Dominion. The Teclandec in turn despise the Celandec, for they do nothing to improve the Iscarneth. They reject tradition, tarnish the legacy of their culture, and invite hordes of barbarians and brigands into the Dominion. Reyana speaks of dreams, but only because she is not competent enough to change the waking world. They are a roadblock to bringing true prosperity to all the Prime Dominion.
What was a surprise was the speed with which the Celandec seized upon the first whispers of conflict to strike at their rivals. It may be that the depths of their hatred were not fully realized, or speak to the truth that hard times make for hard people, yet whatever the case Celandec ships were already on the Shimmersea before anyone else could act. In a motley and mismatched tide, with ships from every race flying quickly made Celandec colours, the armada crossed the Ruven Gulf and stood poised before the bountiful fields of Wirenth. This wild and unexpected gambit would set the pace of the war to come.
Rune-sigils of the Idrelec and the Ruyalar
The conflict between the Idrelec and the Ruyalar is not the simmering resentment of old grudges, but instead is fueled by the bitter pain of fresh wounds, of betrayal and love. It would be easy to say that the flight and deflection of Atressa’s wife Vashti to Caradryas’ court brought about this war – an incomplete, but not entirely incorrect view. The reasons for her defection are her own, yet it cannot be denied in the short time that she has been with the Ruyalar, they have reached new heights in arts and science, and have found unexpected military success in the opening skirmishes of the war.
Few would accuse Atressa Redhand of sentimentality, or Caradryas Lightbringer of humility. With the honour of the Idrelec and the security of the Dominion at stake, Atressa has issued a writ of arrest for Vashti on suspicion of espionage, and sent several high-ranking marshals marching towards Ruyalar’s lands to seize her by force, if necessary. Caradryas has ordered that they not be permitted entry into Ruyalar lands, the first time since the Usurper War an official from another court has been denied access to another satrapy. The arrival of troops from both satrapies, and mercenaries from across the realms, has gathered all the fuel needed to turn this small conflict into a raging inferno.
Rune-sigils of the Aurannar and the Dornayar
Curiosity and paranoia are a dangerous pair, and never more so than when invested in the seat of power. Such is the state of affairs between the Aurannar and the Dornayar – between Elusedrod and Iden, two satraps far more alike than either would care to admit. Both are driven by an almost obsessive need, yet at the crux of their differences lies the resentment of clashing philosophies. The Dornayar believe that knowledge is paramount, and would do anything to acquire and learn the hidden secrets of the realms. For Iden, whose sole occupation is sealing away relics of the spirefall and preparing his realm for the next catastrophe, this is idleness at best and more likely to bring doom than enlightenment. For centuries, they have clashed over the Aurannar’s vaults, for Elusedrod and the Dornayar would dearly love to know each vault’s location and contents, while the Aurannar will stop at nothing to keep them in the dark.
This resentment has come to a head with the discovery of the Eye of Noctis, a strange relic of the Prime Dominion from a time before the coming of the Iscarneth. Since knowledge of the relic’s location was uncovered, a deadly game of cat and mouse has been waged between Elusedrod’s Watchers and Iden’s own spies in the darkened corners of Iscarion and the shadows of the Lux Umbra. Now, a race is on to recover the artefact first.
The Lux Flumen
“I, Mithridates Alti, once master of Ceraph Eresiel, have come to claim my rightful throne. The Dominion was my discovery, my creation, and its people my wayward children. I shall return to Iscarion the prosperity which I once promised, the very same prosperity you trample upon like squabbling siblings. You may stand at my side in this new era, or find yourselves forgotten by the pages of history. This choice, I leave in your hands.”
Only the six satraps, gathered together in the flesh or through magical projection, heard the words that were spoken in the Senate chamber of Iscarion three week ago. The ghostly messenger that had brought them disappeared just as suddenly as it had arrived, leaving them with only the silence of their company. There could be no mistaking the message for what it was. They had all had a hand in overthrowing Eresiel, the last Ceraph. They knew what he was. And they knew that this day would come.
Three weeks had passed since that day. It was the last time all the satraps would see each other in that life. In the time since, they had retreated to their palaces in Iscarion or back to their own domains, rallying their forces, calling across the realms for mercenaries, and setting their plans in motion. Each knew what that message truly meant. It was a gauntlet thrown into their midst. The uneasy peace that had held since the Usurper War was over. In the face of a threat like Alti, six lords with their own visions and grudges could not hope to hold on to power. Only a single Ceraph, with the might of all satrapies and the support of Iscarion, could keep him from his throne. Over long centuries, they had played their games of influence and power. Now it was time for the final hand.
The call to war was felt through the very bones of the satrapies. The islands of the Prime Dominion, made of the essence of realms, pulled from the Catarhactes by Noctis itself and echoing with magic, thrummed in bellicose rhythm. For centuries, their aethyric beat had reflected the satraps themselves, a sympathic harmony with their aelven masters, but now a new and discordant note could be heard. Growling, low and insistent, undercutting all other rhythms, a sound of broken swords and ancient kings, lined in red and strengthened by the beat of war, the land itself exulted in the return of Mithridates Alti.
ANIMOSITY III – THE PRIME DOMINION HAS BEGUN!
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