A History of Wulluxia
Long ago, before the first races came to Wulluxia, there were no mountains and no rivers. Only the land and the ocean existed, watched over by Godclaw, the first protector. For many long years he surveyed the terrain, which was nothing but grass and dirt and water. As he watched, he practiced the many arts of manifestation—which took a little of himself every time he performed an act. Eventually, he learned how to change the very land around him, and began transforming his domain. But the Council of Elder Gods did not want the land developed, and so they struck him with disfigurement, and banished him to the darkest depths of the Underdark. He struggled, and formed an army of dark dwarves (Duergar) to march on the new protector, Orm. Orm wielded a sword crafted expressly for dispatching Godclaw, and commanded the first army of Men to enter the land, a large war band comprised of displaced tribes. The Duergar and the Men clashed, as Godclaw fought with Orm. Godclaw landed a blow first, sending Orm across the continent, making a depression as he crashed that would later be filled in and known as Loch Orm.
The Duergar made progress against the Men, driving them back towards the land of the Dwarves, the Duergar’s cousin, where they erected temporary barracks. The Duergar pulled back, and carved the free city of Dervisk into a mountain they named after their patron. Godclaw himself, still refusing to enter the Underdark, tried to plan his next move. He kept too busy preparing to notice Orm’s recovery. Once again the two protectors fought. This time, however, Orm landed the first blow, throwing Godclaw into the Underdark. In a last, desperate move, Godclaw used his claw to hang onto the edge of Wulluxia. This created the Godclaw Delta and it left a dark stain on the land around it. Strange new races, many warped and weird, began to breed and spread out from the area. Many tribal wars flamed over the area, until Korlus the Brute managed to unite the area, spreading from the Godsclaw Delta to the Fae Forest.
At that time, the Fae Forest stretched from the Wulluxia Ocean to the River Nord. By this time the humans had established more permanent dwellings, and created the city of Grandes. Human holdings reached down to the Wreath Range. Humans and the Dark Races (as humans knew them) began to clash back and forth. The “Founding Wars”, as they were called, gave rise to some of the first legends of Wulluxia. The Dark Races created a behemoth named Brunx, a large half-mammoth half-stone giant, who broke through the northern portion of the fae forest and devastated human farmland. Humans, however, manage to trip the monster, with the help of the Fae, who were angered at the disturbance of their place of power. Fae magic powered human-designed flying machines, which were used to attack not only Brunx, but also drop flaming potions on the lands of the Dark Races.Unto the Age of Darkness
King Hroth led the humans at this time, and he swore an honor oath to protect the Fae in return for their hope. The era of Fae-Human cooperation led to many romances, and the children born to these couples became the race known as the Gnomes. At first, the Gnomes were accepted into the human and Fae societies, but as they grew up they became more and more trickster-like, playing gags on their parents, and using their small size to their advantage. Humans first tired of the jokers, even if they were their own offspring, and rounded them up into a camp in the Wreath Range. The gnomes left as quickly as they could, many escaping out of the arms of the guards bringing them in. Instead of going home when escaping, the Gnomes banded together and began working their strange trickster magics—most often innate—on building an illusory road with many twists and turns and dead ends. This prevented more humans trying to bring gnomes to the valley in the middle of the Wreath Range. The human’s, however just started flinging the gnomes onto the road. From then on gnomes stuck with gnomes, humans stuck with humans, and fae stuck with fae. The gnomes crafted their village Eryktil Disf’ntyn, and tried to build a small homeland for their kind.
King Hroth, however, was too proud, and despite lending his name to Faewroth Outpost, he began to want more land for his empire. His adviser, who was secretly Huntil Leechword, a doppelganger in the employ of the Dark Races, suggested an expedition into the Fae Forest. Wyrmslayer the Dark was the Strength-King of the Dark Races at this time, having won the power in trial by combat from Korlus, led an assault from the other side of the forest. This resulted in the burning of the Fae Forest. It also led to the first Human civil war—King Hroth, after discovering Huntil Leechword’s ture nature, was cursed and transformed into a zombie ruler who subjugated the human lands as part of Wyrmslayer’s Reach.
Thus began the Age of Darkness, which crafted the need for the heroes who would craft the Heroic Age. In the Human portion of Wyrmslayer’s Reach was born a child to a peasant family of the name Rathar. (This family actually descended from Orm, who bedded a woman before he descended into sleep at the bottom of his lake, clutching his Godclaw Slayer, protecting the land in his dormancy). Named Wilhelm, this child was the divine king of the land. But for the first twenty years of his life he lived as a yeoman farmer in the small village of Demage in the Cairn Mountains.The New Breeds
A few years before Wilhelm, a Gnome of unknown breeding (some believe he may have been a first generation Fae/Human hybrid) entered the Gnomic Proving Grounds, an academy of Magic Arts located between the village of Orm and Eryktil Disf’ntyn. For his final task, this Gnome, who was known as Xelnaga, was asked to “Create Something New”. He teleported a rival, a Dwarf attempting to study Gnomish illusion magic, into the test room. Here he combined him with a Fae teleported in from the remnants of the Fae Forest. He combined the two, creating a new race, and then copied this new creation over until he created an independent population. These creations he called ‘Halflings’. He was awarded mastery of magic, and soon contacted by the Magic College of Xolom, the most secretive and prestigious of magical academies. They accepted him for further studies, but only allowed him to bring one retainer—he chose that first Halfling, Lionel Lightfoot, who would serve as bodyguard, sneak, and squire to the magician throughout the years. That left the gnome government with their first big task: they had to find a home for this new race. At first, they tried to use the Halflings as servants, but the Halflings had a strong independent streak, and they preferred loafing over almost anything. They did have a way with sneaking, and after too many explosions, something had to be done. It was then that the idea of relocating the Halflings to the valley in the Wreath Range was proposed… Halflings, who had a weakness for cake, accepted the offer of a homeland within the Gnomish homeland (now called Blandrish) for a very large party with lots of the sweet food. The Gnome-Halfling alliance was born. Xelnaga, meanwhile, studied under the master Xolom himself, on the secret island of K’Krong, in the portion controlled by that master wizard, who had come to Wulluxia from the far lands, across the wide ocean to the south.
In the Fae Forest, a great upheaval was also taking place. The Fae were disgruntled at best about the failings of their old allies, the humans, and now began to talk openly of destroying the race. However, the rulers still believed humanity was good—they just needed some good liege to reclaim the former glory. The Fae split into two camps, and the priests declared the Fae gods were angry with the pro-decimation side. Still, the Fae began to fight each other, tearing apart the forests. Grudges formed, and families formerly friends began to kill each other. Reprisal after reprisal rocked through the land, until the Grand Fae, the highest cleric of the people cast a spell to freeze all the Forest. He then spoke with another tongue, decreeing that if the fighting were to continue, the Gods would punish those who would destroy other races. A few Fae decided to continue to fight, and they were transformed into 9 foot tall being with broken, burned wings. For emphasis, Gloriana (the Faerie Queene/Goddess) crafted a dark mountainous region and sentenced the new mutation known as the Dark Fae to live there, though their progeny were allowed to leave. From this commandment the Faescarred Mountains arose. The daughter of the leader of these rebels, who had been the next in line for the Fae thrown, was raised hating all the other races of the world, and praying to the new Dark God Malecasta created by the Dark Fae for their worship. The name of this Daughter was Illith, and she set out and conquered the wilderness of the Faescarred mountains between her fourteenth and nineteenth years, at the end of which she set up a small city to the west called Illithia, the first of many. This city, mainly inhabited by Dark Fae, but also a good contingent of Drow travelers and passing thru Duergar, stood as a guard against a continual assault from a camp of Orogs at the edge of the Orkin foothills. Illithia Minor (as it would eventually be called) would stave off many of the attacks by the Dark Races.Wilhelm Sets Forth
It was about Wilhelm Rathar’s twenty-first birthday when he learned from the spirit of the dead mage whose death named Ville Demage. His heritage was revealed, and he swore an oath to the spirit that he would return the realm to the glory intended for humans by Orm. He signed on as a soldier with a contingent from Faewroth, and spent some time within the Fae Forest, fighting various threats, trying to re-create the friendship between the Fae and the Humans. After a vicious attack by Dark Fae, however, Wilhelm and his unit were reassigned to duty in Wyrmskeep, formarly Hrothston, the capital of the human holdings. Here he saw the Dark Races subjugating humans, and learned firsthand of the zombie-infection that turned the king cruel. He vowed again he would reclaim the land, and undertook a journey into the heart of the Dark Lands, hoping to kill Wyrmslayer.
Wilhelm passed through the mountainous regions of the Dark Fae, where he met Illith, the leader. Lusting after the human noble, Illith plotted to take him for her king, and they lay together many nights. She helped him plot against the Wyrmslayer, and told the old tales of Godclaw and Orm. She also told him that there would always be protectors, 2 (an evil and a good) by prophecy, but protectors would not be drawn from the mortal races. Wyrmslayer was one, and Hroth was another—except that he had lost control, and thus lost his power. If Wilhelm wielded a divine cause, he could become the good protector. Illith schemed that she could become the evil protector, and thus replace Wyrmslayer…
Illith had heard of a master gnomish magician who had spurned the illusory tutoring of his race and become a master of all magics. She suggested that Wilhelm find the master, known as Xelnaga the Gnome, and journey with him to the city of Stanés, where Wyrmslayer worked to build a keep wrought from the very stones. To do this he employed slave Duergar’s. Wilhelm bid Illith goodbye, and she promised to prepare an army for him to take Stanés. Meanwhile, she birthed their first child, and cursed it with a spell she’d stolen from Dark Race sorcerer foolish enough to invade Illithia Minor. It became a Darkling, a smaller Dark Fae master of combat and rogue abilities. She named her child Wilhelmina, and kept her in reserve as a private strike force. Using her daughter she was able to secretly carve out a large human settlement, and blame the attacks on the Dark Races. She used this large area as the basis for her new city of science and technology, which became Grand Illithia.The Destruction of Xolom and Rescue of Xelnaga
Wilhelm had boarded a ship bound to the large island of K’Krong, a place of ancient magic and ruins. The Xolom school of magic, according to legend, sat at the edge of the shelf, half in the water, and half out of the water. Xolom came, so the whispers went, from a watery world inside the core of Wulluxia. Few knew the truth, and Xelnaga never learned the exact nature of his master. Sometimes he thought him a water elemental, other time he wore his master’s volcanic nature. When Wilhelm arrived at K’Krong, he found the upper portion had been overrun by the Dark Races, who now wore a new symbol on their armors: they wore a small triangle with a comet above it, the insignia of their new King Vladimir Jeltin (a powerful Lich who deposed Wyrmslayer). Wilhelm rallied the few men who remained, and established a small outpost. From here, he launched a few invasions, managing to win freedom for about two thirds of the island. But the Jeltin, as the Dark Races were now known managed to sneak a small contingent of evil mages towards the K’Krong capital of Xolom. A fierce battle ensued, and Wilhelm stood victorious: but the city had fallen to ruins during the battle. He did not anticipate another contingent of mages who teleported to the shelf of Xolom, and sunk that portion of the island. Xolom himself was in the college when it sunk, as was Xelnaga. A vision came to Wilhelm of their position, and he swore to save them. Xolom’s magic could hold the waters at bay from the college for thirty days.
Xelnaga, meanwhile, was trapped in a testing room, where he had been stuck on a problem of getting past a wrought-iron guardian. The simple answer most students used on the test was an illusory spell to distract the guardian. Xelnaga refused, however, and had sat down to meditate on a different solution to the problem. When the college fell, he had been considering the notion for three hundred and twenty nine days. Lionel Lightfoot, as always, awaited the instructions of his master, gorging himself on the banquets Xelnaga would magically conjure.
Illith used this time to meet with Jeltin, who still controlled the puppet state of Wyrmsland, the former human holdings of the now undead King Hroth—Horth the Horrible to his people—and suggested an alliance. Jeltin, Illithia, and Wyrmsland would all band together and attack Blandrish, subjugating Gnomes and Halflings, returning them to the correct status of slave-races. Illithia would use their by now feared strike forces to carry out secret mission for the alliance. Illith also shared a new magical creation by one of her underlings—a mixture of trolls and gnomes—the Gnoll. She planned to use the creatures as front-line soldiers for battles. Jeltin, meanwhile, accepted the offer, planning to create strike teams of the new magically created race. King Hroth the Horrible, under directions from his new liege, ordered conscription of ever male over the age of fifteen. He imported Ogres from Jeltin to use as commanders, and forced two or three orcs into every unit. Morale of the army was bad, at best, but they marched, taking the outlying city of Oitru, and establishing a base for the Gnomish Liberation Army. Meanwhile, Wilhelmina, under her mother’s orders, infiltrated Dwervisk, and romanced King Dwerv Duergar XVI. She convinced him to offer support to Illithia when given the sign to revolt from Jeltin. Illithia and Dwervisk began a secret but fast friendship then: Dwerv and Illith planned to carve up Jeltin and share it between them—all mountainous regions for Dwerv, and the rest for Illith.
Wilhelm raised a small force, and hired a boat. In an amazing feat, he dove from the boat two hundred and more feet down to the door of the college. He manage to hold his breath long enough to get inside, where he was immediately attacked by the few students remaining, who Xolom had placed on watch. When Wilhelm had come to, he met with Xolom, who had gone mad as he tried to extend the protective spells around his college. Wilhelm slew the raging Xolom, and made a quick escape down several levels of the building. He stumbled upon the testing rooms, where he recognized Xelnaga. Not understanding the test, and needing to leave quickly, Wilhelm asked if there was an exit. Xelnaga nodded, and pointed at the door behind the guardian. Wilhelm instructed Xelnaga to distract the guardian, and he managed to knock it out from behind. He grabbed Xelnaga, and the two made it out the door, swimming up to the surface—this time with the help of a spell Xelnaga had prepared. When they got to the boat, they learned that Wyrmsland had attacked Blandrish. No news came to them of Illith’s involvement, and Wilhelm counted her among his friends.The Rathar Campaign I
Wilhelm declared that he would now take back his homeland—he’d let the rotting old king fester too long. Xelnaga did not relish the thought of being without a homeland, and so he agreed to accompany Wilhelm. The college had taught him enough, he believed, that he could begin to work his magic to fix some of the evil that befell Wulluxia. They sailed to the gnomish port of Blue, and quickly wound through the gnomish road, stopping at Cake Valley and Eryktil Disf’ntyn, where they gathered militias and conscripts of both Gnome and Halfling variety, then headed to Berkshire, from where they would attempt to retake Oitru. On the way, Xelnaga stopped, along with a detachment of magic users—a great number of Gnomish illusionists, as well as a few human wizards. Xelnaga managed to use their power combined to create a great forest that formed a protective arch around the Gnomish Road and the village of Eryktil Disf’ntyn. Many of the large trees were real—about seventy five percent of the forest was made up of real trees. The other twenty five percent, however, was crafted as illusion—and sometimes a nonstandard one. Some trees whisper, some change shapes, some follow people. It is quite hard to tell an illusionary tree from a real one. Somewhere in the forest is said to be a tree whose gnarled roots look like Xelnaga himself. The Xelnaga tree is the main focus of the forest— if it were cut down, all trees, both illusory and real would disappear into the mist from whence they came.
As Xelnaga and Wilhelm prepared an assault against Oitru, the latter sent word to Illith. She sent a page back, pledging support. No-one from Jeltin would cross through Illithia. She did, however, send a minor mage as an ambassador to Jeltin, who performed the small service of opening a portal in a small keep at the north east edge of Wyrmsland, near the land of the Dwarves. From there, Gnolls and other members of the Jeltin Protectorate began launching assaults on the Rathar populous. They only did this, however, if they hadn’t been instructed to join up with the Gnome Liberation Army. Wilhelm also visited Faesgon, the last fortress of the Fae, who had been working as hard as they could to reclaim their forest. Illith’s schemes to cut down the whole thing, and destroy all of Gloriana’s magic had devastated most of the forest. Each day, more and more of the land was cleared for another expansion of the ever growing techno-city of Grand Illithia. Despite the Fae’s distaste for Wilhelm’s alliance with Illith, the new threat of Jeltin and Wyrmsland combined threatened them more. They agreed to support Wilhelm as much as they could, deploying a few of their number to accompany him in battle. They also bargained that should he manage to cleanse his homeland, they would name him protector of their forest, and grant him their port as a holding, if he would prevent any more of their forest from destruction. He swore a blood oath with the Fae leader, and returned to Berkshire, where Xelnaga had been working with the Halfling sheriff to erect a palisade with magical defenses.
For three months it was a stale mate between Oitru and Berkshire. A party would ride out from one to be decimated by a party from the other. Finally, however, the tension could hold no more, and Wilhelm ordered his army to siege Oitru. The battle was short—it lasted no more than a day and a half. Yet the casualties were enormous. When Wilhelm emerged victorious, seventy five percent of his force had been injured or killed. Xelnaga had been struck by a rogue ballista bolt in the first few minutes of combat, and quickly removed back to the field hospital, and eventually to Berkshire. A contingent of humans from the independent city of Orm—some refugees and some mercenary’s, arrived at Oitru on the third day. The Wyrmsland force had pulled back to the Lamplight Tavern, which Wilhelm intended to liberate next. The soldiers who’d accompanied him since his days at Faewroth, however, preferred he liberate that first, as did the Fae. In an act of compromise, he sent his force to Faewroth, where the limited enemy number was quickly overcome, and went to Lamlight Tavern himself, with only the aid of Lionel Lightfoot. They snuck in the back, and Lionel struck a killing blow, dispatching the enemy commander. Wilhelm appeared in a sheet at the window, and played at being a vengeful ghost of the enemy army’s attacks—the soldiers who remained with Wyrmsland, mainly being the gnolls, orcs, and ogres, took fright and gave up the tavern.
To Be Continued