In the far flung reaches of the Universe, a world exists near the edge of the cosmos. This Planet is a chaotic one, where great volcanic rends in the earth spit fire and toxic gases into the sky. The rains are a burning acid, the waters of its seas treacherous and stormtossed, its gravity unbearable and the air itself is completely unbreathable. A storm the size of worlds rages in its skies in a luminous lightning riddled vortex. Some call it “The Locus”. Others call it the “Demon’s Eye”. The most religiously neutral term for it is simply “The Great Eye”. A world too harsh for life to thrive.
The moon however, is another story. Large enough for a decent gravity, weather patterns mild enough for life, and air that is clean and pure. It orbits around the The Great Eye in an Ellipse once a month, passing behind the shadow of the Great Eye for three days of each month. It is here that life has grown and civilizations have arisen.
The Great eternal storm in the skies of the Great Eye follows the movement of the planet’s moon and at the moon’s Apogee the storm moves into the darkness between the borders of the Eclipse. The effect to be beheld is like a great glowing blue eye, ringed in the light of the Corona. This Eye has been personified and even deified by many cultures as someone watching over the people in the darkness. The Eye is what inspired the name of the moon for the people living on it: “Corona Vigil”; The Crown’s Watch. A name coined by those of Solarist faith.
The Eclipse is a dangerous and uncertain time that the people of Corona Vigil must fight to survive each month. In the half-light, monsters of darkness are free to roam the surface world. Orc Hordes take up arms and march to take what others have worked for, Vampires awaken from the slumbers and prey upon the living, Lycanthropes lose their humanity and become beasts, and vile Faiths ply their dark spells and rituals and work terrible curses upon the good people.
The first to enter this world was the Elves. They escaped their own world’s cataclysmic collapse with the construction of their towering Ark Cities, which tore their way through existence into this world. Their coming blasted the lands of the east with magical power, blackening the ground and splintering the earth, reshaping it in new and disturbing forms. The lands to the west across the ocean escaped mostly unharmed by the transition, only a few of these Arks dotting it’s surface.
Of all their great cities, less than half successfully made the transition, these were without exception on the eastern lands coast, the others lie dead, having collapsed in on themselves or emerged in several dimensions at once. The latter being shunned by all, the things that emerged from other worlds still remain, stalking through their twisting streets.
After the Elves came the Dwarves. The fabric of reality was still weakened by the coming of the elves and unstable portals began to open into other worlds across the lands, a large migration of Dwarves crossed through these hoping to exploit a new lands resources before the gates collapsed once more, trapping them in their new world.
Humans and other races crossed over from a myriad of worlds through later portals and spread across the west, settling in the wide plains and rich archipelagos in the south, forming ever changing empires and founding great cities.
Portals still open rarely from time to time, spilling out new creatures and explorers, sometimes used by adventurers to bring strange artifacts back from distant worlds.
The Coming of the Dwarves.
When the great portals opened up within the depths of the earth in the home world of the Dwarves a great celebration began, here was a new land, free of the orcs and goblins that infested their world and rich in untapped resources, a great colonization of this new world was started. New cities were quickly founded in the foothills of the mountains in the western lands. Within several years they flourished and migrants poured through the portals to swarm the lands. Unfortunately, it seemed that orcs and goblins had also found portals into this world and their tribes began to spill into contact with the dwarven clans that had migrated here.
A great military undertaking was made, huge armies from the old world marched out to eradicate the green menace from gaining a strong foothold in this new land, a task that doomed several old world fortresses to collapse when stripped bare of their defences, a task almost completed when the unthinkable happened.
The great portals closed without warning, trapping these people in their new lands, cut off from their old world and without the logistical supplies that kept the new cities going. Panic spread and the armies pulled back from their conquests, unable to stay supplied on their march of genocide against the orcs.
Coincidentally, it was around this time that the Elves had attempted to build their own colonies on the continent and had first come into contact and clash with the roving bands of orcs fleeing from the march of the Dwarven warmachine. Eventually the scouts of the Dwarven armies made contact with elven exploration groups and fatefully, through mutual fear and mistrust the first of many meetings ended in bloodshed and retreat on both sides.
When the portals collapsed, it was blamed on the Elves, the Dwarves having witnessed the destructive magical powers of elven wizards and sorcerers came to the conclusion that the elves had used a great ritual of some sort to close the portals and trap them in these lands.
Even as the Dwarves were forced to retreat during the collapse the elves came to the decision that the western colonies were not worth continuing, believing that it was only a short matter of time before the Dwarven warmachine was able to advance once more, the elves having disbanded the vast majority of their military after their exodus, would not yet be able to halt their advance and that it was better to use the great barrier of the ocean to their advantage.
The Human Kingdoms, the Age of Night, and the Dawn of Solarism
Over several centuries a stalemate between the Elves and the Dwarves formed, the elves unable to assail the dwarven underground fortresses and the dwarves unable to build ports with which to construct a fleet to attack the elves. In this period of relative calm, with only scattered elven raiding, human settlements began to form and grow in power. Mostly unotticed and ignored by the two major powers, the dwarves busy fighting the growing threat from the orc warbands that continued to grow and the elves more concerned with their own lands, small bands of human adventurers seeped into the world from the portals that continued to spring up at random and began to form small towns and villages. Some of the more powerful of these groups began to trade with the Elves and Dwarves in return for weapons and technology and began to quickly grow.
These groups however, found themselves vulnerable during the long night of the shadows passing, the things that emerge from the forests and caves in the world preyed upon the small human communities, who lacked the protection of the great stone gates and depths of the Dwarves or the towering heights of the Elven Ark-cities.
Soon human communities were struggling to stay alive and help from any source was sought. Their rescue came in the form of the Vampyr, who offered humankind “protection” during the long night, in return for sacrifices to be given over to their new masters. It was not long before all of mankind fell under the sway of the Vampyr Lords.
The human realms flourished under this protection, growing quickly into empires under their guidance, even as parents wept as their children where dragged away to their new masters towers by black clad thralls. The hunger of the Vampyr however, did not abate. Soon they turned their black eyes towards the Dwarven holds and sought new prey. Legions of humans were assembled under the guidance of the Vampyr and their thralls and war began between Man and Dwarf.
Tens of thousands clashed against the Dwarven fortresses, and when they died, the Vampyr used their dark arts to raise their corpses to fight again during the long night. Soon, the Dwarven holds looked to be weakening against this unending onslaught. Whispers began amongst mankind, what good was it to have the protection of the Vampyr when so many died in these wars, their bodies to be desecrated and made to fight again. Those who spoke openly against their masters quickly vanished.
Although the truth behind the following events is hotly debated to this day, it is known that secretive cults to the sun began to spring up in human cities, begging their god to save them from their Vampyr masters. When the Vampyr heard of these cults, a bloody crackdown began, thousands of those suspected were dragged away by the thralls, or were found exsanguinated in their beds.
A savior arose, a young woman, not yet seen her 17th winter, who claimed to have recieved visions from from the sun himself and been blinded by his form. She claimed she had been entrusted to lead a crusade against the Vampyr and to raise humanity into the light of Solarism. It was said that she glowed with light and her very presence caused Vampyr to burst into flames, as if the sun itself shined upon them. She gathered others she claimed were blessed by the sun and sent them to raise mankind against the Vampyr
Within the year, human cities across the world began to rise up against their overlords, who quickly tried to turn their undead armies back against them in vain, the Blessed of the Saint wielded the powers of light and the legions fell before them. Caught between the human uprising and the vengeful Dwarven holds, the Vampyr and their legions could not survive, those few humans still loyal to their masters were burned at the stake, and the remaining Vampyr were either hunted down or fled into the mountains or forests. After mankind was freed, the Saint and her Blessed vanished, some forms of Solarism claim they ascended to the heavens, others that they left civilization to continue the hunt against Vampyr.
Whatever the truth is, humans now found themselves free to forge their own empires, though dark things still move in ruined towers far from the towns and cities, and the dead still stir in their graves.
Of Dwarves and Mithral
Long has Mithral been a secret art of the elves, it’s forging creating a poisonous fumes that will slowly sicken and kill those who make it, the secret being passed on from the dying lips of those master armourers killed by their creations to their successors, each suit of such armour being highly prized by all for their incredible lightness and strength. When the Dwarven wars began, demand for this armour increased dramatically, the master armorers unwillingness to risk their lives to create such material became problematic.
Prices soared even higher. When the first Dwarven prisoners were captured and returned to the elven Ark cities it was found that some had a fantastic skill with metalworking, equaling the best armourers of the cities. Greed filled the hearts of the armoursmiths with the knowledge of the working of Mithral, the Dwarves were forced to work the forges creating this armour to elven designs, their hardier constitution giving them a greater resilience to the black fumes.
Within a decade a massive Dwarven slave trade began, elven raids taking place on isolated Dwarvern communities to capture them to be put to work in elven foundries. Soon human settlements began to be targeted as well, even orc slaves were taken back to the Ark cities to be put to labour.
It was not long before black sails on the horizon meant fear and terror to any coastal community. The only spared were the northern kingdoms who had long been trading partners with the elves, their grain and cattle buying iron and gold from the elves.
Hobgoblins, and the Long War
When the elven slave trade began, many races that had stumbled into this world were taken captive, including the hobgoblins. When they had been transported back to the Ark Cities, the Elves found them almost bizarrely easy to break for such a warlike species, easily trained as gladiators and pit fighters and surprisingly loyal after a while under their masters. It was quickly realized that to a hobgoblin, who leads them does not matter, as long they were a strong leader and they bring them war and battle.
Several Ark cities saw a brilliant opportunity here and began breeding them en mass, finding them to be natural born soldiers: Disciplined, strong and fearless. Soon entire legions of these warriors existed, powerful armies capable of marching for hours and fighting tirelessly afterwards.
To the great dismay of the Elves who had bred these slave-soldiers an unforeseen problem arose. It is true that hobgoblins are fiercely loyal to those who they see as their masters _as long as they bring them war and battle._
A mass revolt occurred during a period of relative peace and several Ark cities almost fell to their once loyal soldiers, driven mad by boredom. Though the crisis was averted by the loss of many lives and large districts of elven cities, a solution had to be found for there were still Ark-cities with booming populations of hobgoblins that were nearing the crisis point.
It was decided between a meeting of the rulers of the Ark-Cities that to curb the numbers of such hobgoblins, every several years war would be made on the Dwarvern lands, who had been slowly growing in power over the centuries and gaining influence over the human populations of the western lands after they threw off their Vampyric masters. A great fleet was sent out from the eastern coasts and when news of the elven armies reached the Dwarves it took them completely by surprise, they were still recuperating from the Vampyr Wars and such a force had never before been seen.
Several holds had fallen to the legions of hobgoblins backed by the elite elven soldiers by the time the clans could organise a defence to meet the attackers. The Dwarves met the Elven forces in a wide mountain pass, their veteran troops marching in lockstep to meet the chanting hordes of hobgoblin phalanxes in a battle that would last three days. Even though outnumbered greatly, it was the Dwarves who were victorious in the end, their superior training and tactics defeating the masses of poorly equipped hobgoblin warriors haphazardly thrown at their battle lines by unconcerned elven generals.
On the third morning the elven generals awoke from their nightly revelry only to realise their force had dwindled to a size nearing that of the Dwarves, and even more worrying was the fact that the Dwarven line had already assembled and was advancing on the camp. Panic spread through the elves within the army and many nobles demanded a retreat. The elven commander, knowing that the hobgoblins would not continue to fight if their leader fled from battle, and would in fact most likely turn upon their former masters if such occurred decided to stay along with a small group of warriors to make a last stand against the Dwarvern forces while the bulk of the elven force, a large part comprising of many of the wealthiest nobles of the Ark Cities could safely retreat and make it back to the fleet.
The Dwarvern armies surrounded and mercilessly ground down the meagre force before them, an event immortalised by both races in thousands of Dwarvern clan dirges, Elven poetry, artworks and statues.
Even with the loss of almost the entire army, it was deemed a success by the elves, thousands of Dwarvern slaves had been taken, the hobgoblins numbers had been drastically reduced and the majority of the elves had survived, the desperate last stand even allowing the baggage trains loaded with loot the time to organise and leave. Those that returned to the ark cities found themselves lauded as heroes and made vast fortunes on the spoils of the war.
What followed has been a century of regular warfare between the two races, neither able to gain the upper hand in the struggle.