Realms of Mythrais
A GUIDE TO THE REALMS OF MYTHRAIS
Imagine your world; filled as it is with so many wondrous colors, smells, sights, and sounds. You awake to blue skies, the singing of birds, and perhaps the smell of freshly made food to end your fast of the nights sleep. Your golden sun breaks through the few clouds in your sky to warm your face and your heart as you begin your day; content with the knowledge that, with few exceptions, your life will be warm and bright. The star that is your sun is young and vibrant, drifting amid a million other stars just like it that are part of a bright galaxy that rests within the heart of the universe. Not all stars are so lucky. Not all life is safe in your world.
Ages ago, billions of years even before your sun was born, other stars were born amid the first moments of creation. They swirled around each other, burning bright and strong; and many were they that warmed worlds similar to your own; worlds of life. These stars whirled and danced in the vastness of the nothing they had been born in and gave light to the darkness of the dawning of time. Racing outward they watched as their life worlds saw the coming and passing of all manner of life. They streaked ever onward and the stars began to age and some even would collide with their bright siblings and all would be lost; while others would burst in a conflagration of chaos that consumed the life circling about them.
On and on they flew and finally your star was born and its ages came and went until your people walked your world. What your people measure as ages of man, the oldest stars still racing ever outward don’t even notice; so small an amount of time is it to them that for you it would be a heartbeat only. You walk under your bright sun, while elsewhere other life walks under the fading light of ancient stars that are nearing their end.
So far have these stars traveled, so old are they, that few other lights are known on these worlds; some are indeed so very old that they have outlived the very galaxies in which once dwelt their siblings. Fading and alone these stars drift amid the wreckage of eons of history; and their worlds are ancient beyond your imagining. Their life giving light nearing its end, and life growing as dark as the nearly empty skies above the worlds they feebly attempt to warm, these ancient stars grow angry. As do the worlds that circle them. As does the life that lives upon these worlds.
One such star is called Vhalash. Ancient in anger, its red light warms only one planet: Haikel; but it is only a poisonous cloud of swirling storm, chaos, and darkness; vast and alone it holds in its thrall only one living subject. The only life that circles Vhalash lives upon Haikel’s largest moon; the oft cold home in darkness called Aerk.
Aerk circles its master Haikel so that it is never hidden from what life giving light is given by Vhalash. The world of Aerk is a colder place than your world; akin to an Ice Age that would be known in your ages past. Its daylight is a perpetual gloom as the ancient God Vhalash grows old and bathes Aerk’s people in perpetual bloodstained blue skies. Aerk’s night is near death; for stars only ever so rarely show their light in what little of the sky is not consumed by the visage of Haikel’s dark and storm rent face, and the little warmth reflected by that face does little to hold at bay the cold in the world at night. Some of the people of Aerk are nearly spent in caring, for their hearts are a reflection of their grim existence. Why care for tomorrow when it will be as gloomy as today? Life is hard upon Aerk; but not impossible though, and many others strive heartily every day.
Its many lands are surrounded by dark oceans that wash its shores; oceans filled with all manner of creatures to both feast upon and fear. Forests that are thousands of years in age cover vast reaches of its lands, ever so slowly reclaimed in the absence of civilization; and within them are wild beasts and fruits. Vast and ancient mountain ranges have long ago been plundered of their riches; while other younger mountains have risen in cataclysmic ages past when other lands, and the ancient civilizations upon them, sank beneath dark waves. Yes, Aerk is a world alive; if only somewhat less so by comparison to your own. Many races inhabit this world that are savage, evil, benign, or simply filled with apathy.
There are Humans upon Aerk, descended from the same humans you are descended from; it is true. How their people came to this world is lost in the murky darkness that swirls and swallows the past; but they have been here for many thousands of years, and still they sing of dread beasts or bright lights that brought them to Aerk. Indeed, were it not for their coming, life would simply not exist upon Aerk; it would have been swallowed in chaos and death wielded by those who sought to end all things then held dear by such races as lived upon the face of Aerk’s many lands. That was many thousands of years ago now forgotten by most however; with even the long lived and ancient Aerkay knowing little of that time now.
Other races live upon this world too; ancient servants and enemies of the Aerkay. Some created by fell magics now lost while others were enslaved from their homes as were the humans. Those races most prominent are the Daerkur, Dwur, Fhey (and Half Fhey), Fhraen, Goblins, Lizardfolk and Minotaurs. Each of these has helped shape the world of Aerk in its own way:
• Daerkur are known as brutish and crass, but in their day they were powerful warlords and kings that ruled over much of the world in command of vast legions belonging to Aerkay Emperors and their families.
• The Dwur were once the laborer caste of the Aerkay, but long ago they shook off their masters and now are the most technologically advanced race in the world whose lands are rich beyond the dreams of most others.
• The Fhey came to Aerk as invaders filled with lust for the blood of the Aerkay when their most beautiful women were swept away back to Aerk as slaves by legendary demons commanded by dark wizards; and now they have become an enigma in Aerk little understood by their neighbors who see them both worship the land they live upon while slaughtering, with savage abandon, any who would invade their wilderness homes.
• The Fhraen are a nearly unknown race that is yet reviled by most for their dark dealings and underhanded ways; long had they apparently served the Aerkay in ages now lost to record in the modern era, to now be slowly disappearing.
• Goblins were brought as servants by the Fhey who lost their patience for the race many now treat as vermin; but the Goblins are tenacious and ever enduring in the face of opposition despite their diminutive stature and cowardice.
• Lizardfolk are perhaps the remnant of another race that once served the Aerkay in ages when even mighty Dragons answered the call of the arcane might wielded by Aerkay Wizards; but the Lizardfolk today have claimed their own lands and defy any to dare take them from savage hordes of fearless barbarians.
• Minotaurs are a bestial people seen as fearsome raiders and plunderers; but also known to be the most peaceful race in Aerk when unprovoked or faced with such as slave holders or foul sorcery.
There are other races as well, those that in your world are seen as fantasy beings; things that “could never have existed” but in fairy tales and legends pushed aside by “modern” science. Here they do however, just as they once did in your world during times that were primitive and mysterious. When your world was in darkness and misery; perhaps when the Aerkay came to your world from their own dark realms amid the stars and had at their disposal a “science” known as magic.
Now the nations of the humans have come to dominate Aerk, a young, virile, and warlike race; but their dominance is tenuous at times. Ancient horrors spawned of the darkness of time are known on this world. The same horrors that once drove the Aerkay mad. The humans may have filled the vacuum caused by the loss of power and ancient secrets held by the Aerkay; but dark things don’t forget. Darker even than the old evils of the Aerkay; dark things that simply wait…and hate.
In all the darkness that exists in Aerk, there is civilization; even many nations of humans and the other races that live in this world. Few can compete with the prolific spread of humanity; but it is known by all that humans are their own worst enemy and seem to keep their race in check. Their kingdoms are powerful and plentiful, but the common man still fears greatly the realms ruled by such as Aerkay Wizards that wield their ancient magic with unequaled skill, Lizardfolk tribes that devour captives, Fhey Knights that slaughter without warning, or even Goblin forests where the unwary become slaves in deep pits in the earth if captured.
The hub of civilization known to most of the races of Aerk are those belonging to, or formerly belonging to, the Karnite Empire. This Empire was founded by barbaric humans who were so driven as to push aside Aerkay Wizards that ruled powerful City-States, Demonic Cults in control of powerful barbarian peoples, and even nations ruled over by the fell might of Dragons and their magic. At its height, the Karnite Empire encompassed nearly every land seen upon the map of Aerk included in this work; save only some few lands dominated by non-human groups.
The Karnite Empire was so great that it could have only fallen by one manner: from within; and so it did. From the inside out it became corrupt and then even evil; and so, as do all things that live in evil, it consumed itself. Where once its rule extended onto three continents, it now holds only a fraction of its former territories. Upon Courel now stand the nations known as The Kingdom of Mahn, the Plutocracy of Corash and Kingdom of Veshek alongside other smaller human realms. Here also are the Fhey Empire, Land of Brom, and, in the cold south, will be found the Kur Orc Lands and the Jotunlands; home of the Thurse and other giants.
The waves washing the shores of the northern continent of Ghanam now wash the feet of men belonging to the Empire of Amar, Kingdom of Herik, Freeholds of Rhem and the savage inhabitants of the Dragon Archipelago. Farther north beyond the Empire of Amar are the foreboding Black Kingdoms, where savagery and cannibalism are rampant, that were never beholden to the Karnite Legions.
Upon the lands of the Karnite Empire’s own native continent of Haevesh are the powerful Kos Princes in the south who wield power through their fur covered hosts in command of mighty mammoths, the Parthiak Lords of the West and the Khrun Horde dominated by the Khrun Centaurs from the steppe of the farthest west. The Rhul barbarians, never conquered by the Karnites rule the south-east forests of the continent of Haevesh, while their distant cousins rule the lands of the Wolf Reavers across the Icy Sea upon the southernmost western shores of Courel where ends our short tour of the Three Continents and Seven Seas of the Known World of Aerk.
There are many other nations upon the face of Aerk, all for exploring and adventure; but beware to you, the bold ones, for Aerk is an ancient world. The Aerkay have said when they first began their own ascent to greatness in the world they called Aerk, it had been lived upon for many ages before their coming and at times they had disturbed the sleep of some ancient and wicked thing or another that was too horrible to describe without causing madness. Horrors of the darkness of time should be treated with utmost care it is said, because to them a mortal is but cattle to feast upon and their thinking is incomprehensible to even the greatest intellect. Such things were the cause of madness that swept the Aerkay race to the brink of oblivion. Were such to be released again, what would become of humanity’s dominance then?
So be bold adventurer, but be wary always. Not all things can be conquered by a strong arm or sharp mind; no matter how powerful the sword arm or ancient and mighty the spell there will always be a hellish nightmare that is more powerful. Welcome to The Realms of Mythrais.