History of Akhelaten
This is a world without a name; seemingly purposeless and chaotic, it is a world where history is almost unknowable - some legends are true because they are real, and some legends are true because they are believed to be real. In the end, who can tell the difference?
Mortals, ceaselessly reborn in an eternal cycle of reincarnation, reshape the planet with each age, forgetting whatever came before. Only the immortals, the Elves, remember the past - but they have abandoned the world.
History follows the following brief timeline:
- In the beginning: Elves and humans are created. Humans dream up gods and shape the world. Akhelaten is built as a refuge for forgotten gods.
- 12000 years ago: Humans summon the Spine of the Abyss, destroying the first Akhelaten.
- 10000 years ago: Elves build Elohkava, the Bridge to the Sky, and leave for Alfgard.
- 1300 years ago: The Transcendent arrives from the future due to the following time loop.
- Yesterday: The Transcendent is exiled from Alfgard for her blasphemous experiments.
- 50 years in the future: The Transcendent begins a war of world domination. She is defeated by the gods of Akhelaten, and escapes by travelling 1350 years into the past.
- 1000 years ago: The Transcendent destroys the second Akhelaten, but is in turn defeated by a few gods who manage to survive her onslaught. She escapes by making herself into a human and dying.
- 968 years ago: The Transcendent reincarnates for the first time, and is killed by the Strigoi. They continue to kill her reincarnations each time they appear.
- 27 years ago: The Transcendent reincarnates again, but this time manages to fool the Strigoi into killing a different girl in her place. She grows up under the name "Marta", and joins the Strigoi.
- 1 year ago: At the behest of Marta and the Strigoi, Duke Edelweiss leads an expedition to the Lost Continent where the Transcendent first landed 1300 years ago.
- Last month: Marta reveals herself to be the Transcendent and seizes control of the Silver Spire. The world is doomed... again.
The Beginning of Time
In the beginning, two races were made: elves and humans. Humans were mortal, doomed to die and be reborn again and again. Elves, likewise, were doomed never to die, or to sleep: only to watch and remember.
In time, a third race arose: the gods. Born of human dreams, waxing strong when their stories were told and waning when they were forgotten, the gods walked the earth and reshaped it according to their whims. In this way, the world fell under human dominion.
The Elves did not trust the gods, and withdrew into hidden places where gods could not walk, preferring to deal only with humans themselves.
The Departure of the Elves
For an immeasurable span of time, the cycle of humanity continued. Civilizations rose and fell, the world quaked and was reshaped, gods were born and died. And the Elves grew tired of it, tired of their warning being ignored, tired of seeing the same patterns repeated again and again and again.
Akhelaten, City of Seven Hundred and Seventy-Seven Gods
The gods came to realize that, of the three races, they were perhaps the most powerful - but also the most vulnerable. Elves could not die, could not even be injured; humans could die, but even for them death was only temporary; while a forgotten god was dead forever.
So they gathered human allies, priests and servants, and built the temple-city of Akhelaten high atop the holy mountain Haku-Aten, "Peak Closest to Heaven". There, gods whose time had passed could retire and rest, and be remembered - just enough to survive. It became the unofficial capital of the gods, overseen by three of the oldest gods, remembered only as animal totems: a raven, a bear, and a ram. "Wise ram, who always finds a path. Great bear, who is full of rage. Clever raven, who watches and waits for her time."
The Spine of the Abyss
The Elves know very well that there are no lines that Humanity will not cross, so it came as very little surprise when they summoned the Spine of the Abyss from the darkness outside the world. The Spine shattered Mount Haku-Aten, destroying Akhelaten in an instant, and a war began that took every warrior in the world - human, elf, and god - to win. Finally the Spine was destroyed, and Akhelaten rebuilt, but the Elves had reached the limit of their patience: it was time to leave.
The Bridge to the Sky
The elves had never bothered much with leadership, but their unofficial capital was Elohnnen. It was there they gathered and decided their time on this world was at an end. They created a plan to escape to another world of their own creation, Alfgard, and leave behind a legacy of artifacts for human use. The Elves had long suspected that someday the humans would be forced to go to war against their gods, and so they devised a network of hiding places, proof against divine intrusion and filled with Elven weapons, which would give the mortals an advantage.
A small cadre of elves were selected to co-ordinate the plan, chief among them the Elven master artificer, Ravda. Under her direction, the Elves built Elohkava, "The Bridge to the Sky". What Elohkava was, or how it worked, is still a mystery to mortals - it was more than a simple portal to a pocket world. It led to "a perfect place and time"; what lies on the other side defies mortal comprehension to this day.
When Elohkava was completed, the Elves sealed up their old haunts and walked across The Bridge to the Sky, leaving the world forever.
In the ages since, a few of the Elvish caches have been found and opened by humans, their treasures making it into mortal hands. One of these treasures was the Rod of Briggadoon, found by the priests of Akhelaten. They used it to cloak the temple-city in a spell of invisibility, hiding it from mortal eyes.
The war which now consumes the world has a complicated history, mostly because of the Transcendent's capacity for travelling through time.
The Future Past
While the other Elves enjoyed the peace of Alfgard, Ravda continued her research into crafting with stranger and stranger materials. In the course of this, she discovered that the immortal substance that made up Elvish bodies and the insubstantial spirits that made up Human souls were two states of the same material - an eternal and inviolate form of spirit-matter. And she found she could transform one into the other and manipulate it.
Of course, the only steady source of this material was other Elves, so they began to notice their brethren disappearing into Ravda's labs. When they discovered what she had been doing, she was banished from Alfgard and sent hurtling back to earth.
She arrived in a human world in the midst of a technological revolution. Vowing that she would return to Alfgard, Ravda insinuated herself into the human nation in which she had landed. Combining her magical expertise with human technology, she provided the humans with all the warmachines they would need to conquer their enemies. At the height of their victory, however, Ravda betrayed them - she seized control of the weapons she had built and began a war to conquer and enslave the world.
Unfortunately she had underestimated the influence of the gods - they had been weakened by an age of enlightenment and cynicism, but Akhelaten still maintained enough strength to oppose her. An army of half-forgotten gods and heroes marched against her, and she lost her war.
But Ravda was not beaten. Her final invention was a device that allowed her to wind time backwards, travelling thirteen hundred years into the past. She arrived in the Kingdom of the Broken Shield - a weak and impoverished nation, named for a legendary military failure which still shamed them. And from there, she built again.
The Empire of the Broken Shield
The human kingdom she arrived in could not resist Ravda's promises of power and wealth, and gave her everything she desired. In return, she provided them with enchanted weapons that transformed them from a weak vassal state under the thumb of its neighbours into a dangerous rogue power that threatened the continent. Although her knowledge of science and magic was considerable, it took Ravda a long time to build up the infrastructure required to support her goals. In the meantime, the kingdom quickly became the Empire of the Broken Shield, and the entire continent came under their control.
With the Empire's rulership, however, came Ravda's technology - medicine, clean water, abundant food, weapons capable of driving off the monsters that lurked in the wilds. The war came to be seen as the best thing that had ever happened, and it was all thanks to Ravda - monuments were built to her, and her "Utopia Academy" was given whatever resources it required.
Ravda used these resources to create the Silver Spire, her headquarters and central laboratory, where - in secret - she laid the groundwork for her final war. She created an "academic security force", the Justicars, to defend the Spire - in truth they were a secret police force composed of thugs and experimental cyborgs, who brought in whatever Ravda required for her research. Sometimes they brought her people - often children. And sometimes, they brought her gods.
As the people depended more and more on Ravda's inventions, they abandoned their worship, leaving their gods easy prey for the Justicars. One by one they were captured and imprisoned, taken deep into vaults under the Spire where their powers could be put to use.
In order to distract the public, she started a project to build "the city of the future" - a golem-built city that would, she proclaimed, stand in pristine perfection for a thousand years. The people were enthralled, and millions flocked to Ravda's shining white city by the sea.
They never got a chance to enjoy the city of the future, however - Ravda, satisfied that she had hunted down every god on the continent, set her master plan into motion. All over the Empire, hidden vaults opened and unleashed an army of unstoppable machine soldiers, led by four powerful generals: the Deva. Women who resisted them died; men were captured and dragged back to the Silver Spire, to be transformed into new soldiers.
The massive metal city that had grown up around the Silver Spire - an endless labyrinth of laboratories and factories - tore itself out of the ground and lifted into the sky. The Silver City rained destruction down on the small pockets of resistance that were left, and soon everything was in her iron grip. She proclaimed herself Ravda the Transcendent, and that she would soon bring an end to the Old World in order to open the path to Paradise - a meaningless metaphor to mask the fact that her plan was to make a blood sacrifice of the entire human race in order to raise Elohkava and march on Alfgard with an army of ten million war-machines at her side.
The Transcendent kidnapped the entire male population of the Empire, enslaving them either as more Justicar soldiers, or forcing them to work in the factories of the Silver City. Then, for fifty years, she waited - building her strength and preparing her army.
The Fall of Akhelaten
With her army ready, the Transcendent marched to Akhelaten - the Silver City darkened the skies as the Deva and their machine soldiers rained down on the cities of man. In a matter of a few weeks she laid claim to all the lands stretching from the coast, west into the Cloudhills - and most importantly, she'd captured the Lord of the Ascent and the Rod of Briggadoon.
She broke the Rod, and the spell that concealed the peak of Haku-Aten dissolved, opening the way to Akhelaten.
All four Deva descended on the city, ravaging the priesthood in moments - the Transcendent, from her last war with the City of Seven Hundred Gods, knew where to strike first, knew that as long as the priests never had an opportunity to summon their sleeping gods the city was almost defenceless.
Minutes later, Akhelaten was in flaming pieces. Her soldiers looted the temples, seizing the relics in which the gods slept and bringing them back to the Silver City.
But even in victory, the Transcendent planted the seeds of her undoing. A few priests were missed - a handful of summoners, who managed to call forth seven gods:
- Strigoicia: the crow-goddess of retribution, who punished those who broke the laws of the gods.
- Baelroth: the cast-off armour of a forgotten god of war, filled with battle-lust and rage.
- Sarig: the once-great god of magic, his power split among three vessels: one young, one middle-aged, and one old.
- Fuyuzare: the goddess of the cruel winter and the deep blizzards, who takes the unwary and the wandering.
- Garthax: titled "the Destroyer", an ancient and incomprehensible dragon god.
- Kinslayer: a fallen angel of justice, called Kinslayer for having killed his own father.
- Sedenya: a goddess of plenty and of the harvest, who went into hiding rather than face the Transcendent.