I'm tentatively working on a PDF I hope to make available to anyone interested, detailing the world of Elyden in general. I tend to focus on micro-slave things, and I think it's about time that i show the world in a macro scale, which might show in more detail what Elyden is all about. This is the beginning of that project. I hope to licence or commission some art to show off some of the more representative regions, creatures and personalities, which will be used in guide.
This is the world of Elyden. She exists in the shadow of gods that have long-since abandoned her. Her domains are slowly crumbling, succumbing to pollution and decay. The natural order unravels, though few truly know why. Seemingly ensnared by her own decadence, Elyden has become a world far removed from the beauteous realm that once was. Deserts slowly expand, pushing the boundaries of life ever farther. Seas dwindle. The sun grows dimmer in the sky. With this unravelling of the natural world comes the waxing of the two elemental forces known as the Firmament and the Atramenta – the two halves of creation.
Her wardens, the Two-and-Twenty Demiurges, are forgotten. Once sustained by mortal worship, the Demiurges have mostly fallen dormant and are weak and hidden, forgotten by most. Those who slumber are blights upon both the material landscape and the thoughts of mortals across Elyden. The bodies of these Demiurges are gigantic and fossil-like, though they are far from dead. Though their bodies may appear lifeless, thoughts yet trickle through their minds. The dreams and nightmares of these maddened gods are felt across the world as the mortals continue in their paths to oblivion and self-indulgence. Elyden is now a place corrupted by these nightmares, where small yet steadily growing demesnes fluctuate like rotten dreamscapes of impossible design.
Those Demiurges who still live do so through their own artifice or the whims of those who yet follow them. Bitter at their own fall from grace, they survive in diminished form, decrepit and feeble. They withhold the secrets that madness has not yet consumed, leaving the mortal races to reel in their ignorance. Most have come to detest the mortals, only grudgingly seeking them out due to the restorative effects of their deference. Some Demiurges secretly reward those noble and hard-working mortals who yet worship them with minor secrets in the hopes of increasing their own power.
Above them all, unchallenged throughout the latter millennia of the Fifth-Age, has reigned a single Demiurge: Rachanael the Hungry, the so-called Undying Machine. Under his selfish reign has Elyden been allowed to rot. The cities of the Korachani empire spread like a disease around the Inner Sea, propagating his church and creating more bling followers to sustain him. Farther abroad, distant empires and nations cling to a semblance of culture, though they too are in decline.
Elyden is a land of idiosyncrasies. The art of technarcana offers marvels previously unthinkable even as the Korachani empire fractures to corruption, making such discoveries untenable. Explorers restore contact with descendants of ancient colonies even as the seas slowly retreat, rendering old harbours and ports unusable. Natural resources dwindle, pushing the value of all objects ever higher. Ancient bloodlines - patrician families, merchant houses and royal dynasties - blind themselves to the truth and lose themselves in their last days of decadence before the world or lesser people claim them.
Amid this corruption do the remnants of the Two-and-Twenty mortal races struggle to survive. Some seek solace in ignorance. Others however seek answers to questions unasked, searching cyclopean ruins of distant ages revealed by the rot of the world, hoping to find in catacombs and foundations hints as to where they came from, what their purpose is. Perhaps in such ruins might they find the answer to their survival... or madness.
The lands around the Inner Sea reached an industrial age many centuries ago. Wrought iron bridges and chrome steel are a common sight, as are concrete foundations and fortifications and trench defenses, Steam and technarcane engines and machines are common, if not readily available to all classes. Steel-hulled steam-powered ships cross the Inner Sea and distant lands can maintain tentative contact through primitive telegraphy and other more esoteric methods. Single-shot rifles and mortars are the tools of war, as are primitive land-ships and ambulants that crawl across the inhospitable wastes (though trains do not exist).
It is, however, a time of decline and in many cases technology has stalled or diminished since the golden age of the Korachani empire, over a millennia past. Superstition and ceremony take the place of logical thinking in many circles and there exist many idiosyncrasies that in a sane should not be, Though the nations around the Inner Sea are industrialised, lands farther afield may not be. Technology is a treasured commodity rooted in a xenophobic and imperialistic religious tradition and though trade reaches far it is in many cases a one-way system. Many places, particularly the Surrach in Sammaea and much of far eastern and western are less technologically advanced, though that is not to say they are primitive. Many such places have a more pronounced arcane tradition than those around the Inner Sea, which have eschewed the discipline of the esoteric for the short-term gains of technaracana.
One thing that merchants are not reticent of selling are arms. Rifles, repeater cannons and revolvers are traded with pre-industrial nations without thought, leading to one of the more pronounced idiosyncrasies that are prevalent in Elyden.
Elyden’s ancient history is divided into five distinct ages,,referred to as the Five Ages of Mortal Life, and a Mythic Age preceding them. Each age is characterised by certain themes and the transition between ages is generally a major event like a war or major cultural shift. Events in recent centuries such as the independance of Almagest, the Sundering of the Korachani empire and more recent political tensions have led many scholars to believe that we are living in the autumn of the Fifth Age.
What follows is a condensed history of time that readers may be interested in learning. Do be warned though as much of this material is very much unknown to the denizens of Elyden and to know such things is to court madness:
The Age of Myth (the Four Great Acts of Shaping)
- The creator stirs, causing the Sea of Chaos to separate into the Firmament above and the Atramenta below.
- 1st Act of Shaping: between the Firmament and the Atramenta appears the material plane. In the material plane the creator forms the mesochthons – failed experiments at life, they are abominations that were rapidly abandoned, sent to the primordial material plane to waste away.
- 2nd Act of Shaping: the creator makes the Two-and-Twenty Demiurges – worker gods entrusted with shaping material plane into a realm habitable to future creations.
- 3rd Act of Shaping: the Demiurges fill the material realm with the orbs of life (planets). One such orb is Elyden and they shape its oceans and continents, mountains and rivers (c. 1 billion years ago).
- 4th Act of Shaping: the creator, pleased with the Demiurges’ work, sees that Elyden is ready for life, and places two-and-twenty pods - one for each of the Demiurges - each containing seven seeds, which in due-course will germinate into the Immortals – beings that will inherit the perfect world.
The First Age of Mortal Life
- Though their work is deemed complete, the Demiurges cannot comprehend a life without shaping and continue crafting the material realm, slowly tarnishing the perfection that they had achieved. This leaves the world an imperfect place.
- The chaos brought about by the Demiurge’s work makes the immortal seeds germinate before their time. What emerge from the seeds are not immortal, but rather imperfect versions – the two-and-twenty mortal races, of which humans are one. The mortals, like a prematurely born child, are not ready for their world. Likewise, the world, reduced from perfection to a state of chaos, is not ready for them – raw sounds and sights assault the nascent mortals, maddening them with a cacophony of stimuli.
- To help them cope with this chaos the creator (knowing they are not at fault) bestows upon them a spark of its own divinity, to help them survive the raw world. This trait would be passed on to their children. From this point mortals who die leave behind Soulstones – physical manifestations of that divine spark that take the form of large spheres, ranging in appearance from pearlescent to pitch-like. The soulstones are now thought to have been primitive corporeal souls.
- Most Demiurges ignore the mortal tribes, and go about erecting monuments and shaping continents. The creator, having given them chance to mend their ways and take leadership of their wards is angered by this indifference and exiles them to the material realm, forcing them to become leaders of their respective tribes. They will come to draw their strength from their followers (so a Demiurge without followers would grow weak).
The Second Age of Mortal Life
- The mortal tribes worship their ‘patron’ Demiurge as a living god, providing it with the vitality it needs to survive and continue shaping, though this shaping is now restricted to moulding their tribes in their own image and making the world a better place for its children to live in.
- The Demiurges’ individual characteristics become more evident as they grow more distant from one another and the creator, whose existence is never mentioned to the mortals. Many grow bitter at their punishment, with them all coping in different ways: Some try to bury their resentment and anger in their work, ceaselessly erecting monuments. Others grow distant from their own children, becoming weak and insular. Others try to reforge the link to the creator, failing. Others, like Urakabarameel, turn to asceticism. Some (including Rachanael, Ashterath and Baphomet) understand the status quo and begin amassing followers in a bid to culture power.
- As the mortal tribes grow some of them fracture, with groups abandoning their homelands to forge their own fates, leaving their gods behind. Worship of the Demiurges lessens and most are noticeably weakened. Fearing what may happen if this continues, the Demiurges meet and in their desperation are convinced to elect Rachanael to teach the mortals discipline and awe.
- Rachanael betrays his siblings and enslaves unnumbered mortals, growing powerful. His siblings form an alliance, led by Talantehut. They eventually defeat him, at no small cost to their own children and lands.
- The creator sees the Demiurges’ actions and fears they have not all yet learnt their lesson. This is most balant in their failure to teach the mortal races of him. In punishment he strips them of their divinity. They are now mortal, and can die is severely-weakened. Many amongst them despair, knowing they can now die. Such Demiurges include Vorropohaiah, Nergaal, Achaiah, Ialdabaoth and Shibboleth. Others accept their new fates and cope in various ways. Sybaris turns to hedonism, as do her children (shie). Avraham, becomes a materialist and guides his tribe (humans) into an imperialistic future. The conjoined twins S’hith and Nelchael use what powers they have to give hope to mortals in the form of prophecy and visions, respectively. Neith and Kharani forsake the mortal realm and forge their own realms, creating the two moons of Siella and Arakhame’, respectively.
- With the greatest of their divine abilities gone, the Demiurges turn to the material realm to fuel their crafting. Rachanael and Duruthilhotep are the first Demiurges to master the Atramenta and the Firmament, respectively, and begin teaching the mortals some of their secrets. Others, like Nyarloth and Synchthonith, help the mortals develop technology.
- The creator grants the mortal races the gift of a conscience and the free will to seek out the truth of their world, should they wish. Upon death a mortal’s soul is no longer trapped within a soulstone and instead becomes one with the otherworld where it will eventually be reborn as an otherworlder – beings that help and hinder mortals seek the truth of their world.
- Many Demiurges continue to despair following their sundering from the creator. Allaishada calls a council of her siblings where it is decided that a great bridge shall be constructed linking Elyden to the realms of the creator. All but two of the Demiurges worked together constructing the bridge. The other two – Talantehut and Arimaspi – secretly oppose them, praying to the creator to stop them before things become worse.
- The creator responds, destroying the bridge, plunging the world into darkness for a year and a day. So they can never work together again the Demiurges are stripped their divine language and their children are given different tongues. Talantehut is granted the title of Keeper of Balance (at the cost of her children’s worship), and Arimaspi becomes the King of Kings – he alone can now shape the natural features of Elyden.
- Mortal nations rise and fall, races intermingle, leading in most cases to a dilution of the two-and-twenty mortal tribes. The Demiurges begin to wane in power.
The Third Age of Mortal Life
- The Demiurge Malachai dies – a warning to all his siblings of their mortality. Many Demiurges fall into deeper misery. Vorropohaiah copes by erecting gigantic monuments in his own name. Greatest of these is Carceri a world-spanning labyrinthine cavern, the purpose of which is unknown to all but his highest-ranking primates. Stripped of the powers of shaping the world he accomplishes this through the labour of billions of followers and slaves over millennia.
- War, expansion, fragmentation of the mortals continues. The land slowly changes at the hand of Arimaspi.
- Mortal expansion reveals the forgotten mesochthons, which wreak havoc upon the mortal plane. Synchthonith, Nyarloth, Duruthilhotep and Urakabarameel succeed in imprisoning them within Carceri. Vorropohaiah becomes their gaoler.
- The Third Age ends around 49,000 years ago.
The Fourth Age of Mortal Life
- The predecessors of extant nations appear. Very few ruins and relics found today date to before this period and indeed few survive from this age.
- The Demiurges continue to wane during this time. Most mortals have forsaken them and their memory slowly begins to fade. Many Demiurges fall into languor, their dreams polluting the world.
- Rachanael grows more belligerent and following a long conflict between his followers and those of Allaishada is imprisoned beneath the desert of Kharkharadontis. The place becomes known as Daekyn.
- The followers of Rachanael clash with many mortal tribes and their allies in their attempts to free him. This time becomes known as the Shadow War. They fail and the age ends with the near annihilation of the mortal civilisations around 6,500 years ago.
The Fifth Age of Mortal Life
- The merchant prince Malichar discovers an artifact of the Demiurge Talantehut in -23 RM, intended as a warning to the mortal races. It is a history of the ancient world and the crimes of Rachanael.
- Malichar seeks him out and, following many trials and tribulations, frees him in 331 RM (3700 years ago), encasing him in the Leaden Throne, a technarcane engine created with the aid of Nyarloth to sustain him. Malichar has been ruler of Korachan since then.
- No longer sustained by the Shaping of the Demiurges, the natural world begins to fragment. Her seas slowly begin to disappear. Life itself begins to wane.
- The Korachani empire fragments in two in 3705 RM (just under 300-years ago). This leaves the High empire, north of the Inner Sea and the Reformed Empire south of the Sea. Corruption within politics and religion is rife. Resources begin to expire. Prophecies and visions are on the rise, as are those whose dreams and nightmares reveal the bitter thoughts of the Demiurges.
- Eschatological cults become more common as people begin to feel Elyden’s sickness. Worship of Rachanael wanes and other Demiurges experience flickers of sapiency.
- Many scholars believe that we are in the last days of the Fifth Age.