History of Aetaltis: Part VII

After years of peace and prosperity, an arcane catastrophe of cataclysmic proportions brings the Atlan Alliance to its knees. Plus witness the apparition of Orintis, wonder at the mystery of Othorr, god of the Orogs, and marvel at the mercantile mastery of the cheebats.

A scribe copies the Adventure's Guide to Aetaltis for an aspiring hero. (Art by Mitchell Malloy)

Click here to read the previous installment of The History of Aetaltis.

Rise of the Alliance

As the wars against the last Dark Hordes raged, the Atlan Alliance became more and more entwined in the lives of the enari. By the time the last horde fell, the Alliance had become the most powerful force in the region. Alliance settlements flourished and more colonists came through the world gates every year. All around the Amethyst Sea the alliance established new settlements, cities, and forts, and on the island at the center of the Amethyst Sea they constructed shining Atlanor, their capital.

With the exception of early battles with the Drothmal and an occasional conflict with the fey, on the whole the enari did not resist the rising power of the Alliance. This is largely credited to the Alliance’s policy of living alongside people they discovered rather than attempting to lord over them. Wherever possible, the Alliance incorporated enari traditions and cultural elements into their own society on Aetaltis. The most notable example of this is the embracing of Aetaltan religious beliefs by the Alliance colonists.

The Alliance and the Enaros

According to the surviving records from the Alliance’s arrival, the members of the Alliance, with the sole exception of the orogs, worshipped no gods when they arrived on Aetaltis. They did have a complex system of philosophical beliefs known as Centering, but gods played no role in their spiritual lives.

THE GOD OF THE OROGS

The orogs worshipped a deity called Othorr when they came to Aetaltis, and many still worship Othorr today. Most theological scholars claim that Othorr is simply a manifestation of Droth, and not a unique god at all. The orogs deny this.

The Alliance colonists were amazed by the power of Enarosian clerics. Initially, Alliance sages assumed that the powers were an indigenous form of arcane spellcasting. Their studies soon disproved this, and the scholars admitted that Aetaltis’ clerics were wielding a power unlike anything they’d seen. While the arcane scholars debated the source of this strange power, the common colonists saw the magical effects created by clerics as divine miracles. Many chose to worship alongside the enari, and among the common people, the number of colonists worshipping the Enaros and their Avatars grew.

The dwarves warned their new allies against placing their trust in the Enaros. They cautioned that the Enaros would surely fail the colonists in the end, and they encouraged them to rely on their own wits rather than the fickle whims of the gods. The dwarves’ warnings went largely unheeded. After all, even with all the wonders the Alliance brought with them to Aetaltis, colony life was still a difficult thing, and the power of the Enaros brought ease and comfort to their lives.

The Apparition at Orintis

The Alliance officials mostly accepted the growing faith among the colonists, but one story tells of a different reaction. The events are said to have taken place around 45 AR in a city called Orintis (the location of which has since been lost).

The governor of this city took a dim view of the emerging religious beliefs among the colonists. He felt that the Enaros and their Avatars were myths at best, with nothing that made them worthy of worship. This governor believed that faith in the Enaros took the people away from the tenants of Centering that had made the Alliance strong, and that Enaros worship would ultimately undermine his colony’s chances of success.

To put a stop to the growing “Enaros Cults,” he outlawed worship of the Enaros in his city. He followed this by systematically dismantling the religious orders, even going so far as to arrest dissenters and demolish their shrines and temples. The worshippers fought back against this persecution, and soon the entire city was plunged into violence and chaos.

At the height of the fighting, an old man appeared at the gates to the governor’s palace. The guards refused him entry, but he told them secrets about themselves that no other person could know. The guards fled in terror from this stranger who knew things no one should, and the old man walked unhindered into the palace.

Arriving at the doors to the great hall, where within the governor planned his next assault against the cults, the old man easily pushed open the massive iron doors that normally took three strong men to move. The governor, fearful of this strange and powerful man, ordered his guards to arrest the stranger. The old man raised his arms, threw back his cloak, and blinding white light filled the chamber. Everyone in the chamber fell to their knees in terror.

Walking to the governor, the old man spoke, saying “I am Toletren. You do not realize the truth of what you are doing. I shall show you.”

Toletren touched the governor on the forehead and caused him to experience all the pain and suffering that his cruel edicts had inflicted on his people. Suddenly, the governor knew the full truth of the cost of his war against the worshippers of the Enaros. More importantly, now he understood how his actions strengthened Endroren. Toletren pulled back his hand, and the governor fell to the floor weeping.

The white light faded, and Toletren was gone. At once the governor ordered all laws banning the worship of the Enaros rescinded and the temples rebuilt using the gold from the city’s own coffers. Some say that Toletren’s appearance in Orintis not only put an end to the persecutions there, but it led to today's widespread worship of the Enaros by the people of the Alliance.

The Glory of the Alliance

Over the next eighty years the Alliance's work brought peace and civilization back to the Amethyst Sea basin. They constructed highways stretching from the edge of the Dragon’s Maw to the foothills of the Stonegate Mountains. They built great cities in the Alliance style with sweeping circular canals and tall, white towers that glittered in the sun. They dredged ports, bridged rivers, and even started digging new mines for the first time since the Age of Darkness.

If creatures of Darkness surfaced, the Alliance sent powerful armies to strike them down. As worshippers of the Enaros, the Alliance raised new temples more glorious than any seen since the Dwarven Age. As a consequence, the clerical orders of the Enaros flourished, bringing their gifts to all the people of the Amethyst Sea basin.

Colonists continued to arrive from the Alliance homeworlds, and now they were accompanied by a new Alliance race known as the cheebat. It is worth noting that a handful of clever cheebats arrived on Aetaltis with the first Alliance explorers, hiding in the supplies the colonists brought with them. This time, however, they came to Aetaltis as legitimate colonists. It was in these days that the cheebatan colonists began to construct their distinctive, mazelike warrens of shops and homes near the outskirts of the Alliance settlements.

The cheebats’ easy-going natures earned them swift acceptance among the enari. Cheebats regularly served as intermediaries between the native Aetaltans and the atlan and newardin explorers. With startling efficiency they established trade relations with most of the region’s great powers. Soon they were blazing new trade routes across land and sea.

This led to the establishment of the great cheebat merchant houses. Amazingly, the merchant houses are some of the few institutions established during the Atlan Age that survived to the modern day. While clerical orders, schools of wizardry, and groups of every kind collapsed in later years, somehow the merchant houses survived. In many cases, these merchant houses were instrumental in the reconstruction of society during the chaotic times after the Cataclysm.

The Cataclysm

It was on a hot morning in early autumn in the year 105 AR that disaster struck. It started as a strange hum coming from the world gates and city gates that stood at the center of almost every Alliance settlement. The sound was unusual, but people were not particularly alarmed. They were used to odd sounds and lights coming from the gates. Most people simply shrugged their shoulders and went about their business.

WORLD GATES AND CITY GATES

The Alliance built two types of gates during the Atlan Age. The first and best known are the world gates. These massive arcane constructs bridged the gap between worlds and transported people and goods between them.

Less remembered today, but equally important, were city gates. These smaller gates looked like scaled down versions of world gates. Rather than creating connections between worlds, these gates transported important people and goods between city gates on the same world. They allowed the Alliance to quickly deploy troops where needed, send leaders to inspect distant colonies, and facilitate the movement of vital supplies in an emergency.

Inside the gate complexes, however, the newardin gatekeepers were not taking the gates' odd behavior lightly. No one is entirely certain what happened on that fateful morning, but a few stories have come down over the years, saying that there was a flurry of panicked activity within many of the walled gate compounds. There are even stories of fights breaking out within the compound walls, but again, these are just stories with little to base them on other than the recollections of a handful of traumatized survivors.

The hum continued for close to an hour, but suddenly it rose to a deafening roar. People rushed from their homes and looked toward the city centers. Those close enough to see claim they witnessed an undulating blue light shining from where the gates stood. Then, there came a blinding flash, so bright that people a day’s ride from the settlements could see it. The flash was followed by an earth shaking boom that shattered windows in distant villages and drove livestock in the far hills scrambling about in terror.

At that moment, a chaotic torrent of pure essence poured out of the gates. Some people ran, others hid, but no one within sight of it could escape. Like a tidal wave, it ripped through the cities, smashed across the countryside, and continued on for miles beyond the walls of the settlements. The effects of this unprecedented wave of power rolling over the land were catastrophic. Entire cities were wiped from the face of the world, leaving nothing but a smoking crater where they used to stand. Other places were horribly twisted, altered in horrifying ways by the wild magic that consumed them. Still others were replaced by strange, otherworldly landscapes, the original settlement gone forever.

In that moment, before Lensae could even rise fully above the horizon, the Alliance met its end.

 

COMING NEXT....THE LOST AGE!

Holy Symbol of Toletron, Enaros of Knowledge (Art by Ashley MacKenzie)

 

DISCOVER AETALTIS...

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