History is a very fickle thing. In times of war, history is written by the victor. In times of peace, history is written by the strongest. No matter how many tomes we read or stories we hear, history is never real unless you have experienced it. Many have faith that learning from the past can help us avoid making the same mistakes. Pity such a lesson is rarely heeded too, which is why I am here. My identity at this time is unimportant. At the behest of someone dear to me, I have been asked to compile a tale of events that have transpired on this world. I have just lived through a turbulent time in history; many were not so fortunate. Before I can delve into the machinations of the present, I must recite history from the start. Welcome to this, the first of many pages of the Chronicles of Valhalla.
Our saga begins four thousand years ago, when the world was new. An enigmatic era had passed over the worlds and new species of beings were beginning to take shape. The beginning years of this epoch were wracked by hardship. Persevering through the climes, vesting adversity, no race adapted more so than the Alatians, so named from their forest-covered isle of Fendoralat (the "Forest Isle"). The Alatians were different from other races in many ways. Their forms were statuesque, their stamina was exceptional and they possessed the rare gift of immortality. Truly they were a blessed race. The Alatians were the first to create literature, science, masonry and mathematics. It was they who devised the first monarchy and social order in history. Their religion was centred on the veneration of nature and its creator gods, the Elathors ("Eternal Ones"). For a hundred years, the Alatians lived a peaceful and secluded lifestyle, with no concept of violence or war. Standing along the coast of the Forest Isle, ocean stretches for leagues in every direction. The Forest Islanders firmly believed they were the only race to inhabit this infinite expanse of water. One day, all that changed.
Out of the boundless blue waters came an enemy the Alatians would call the Kathors ("Dark Ones"). For no reason other than the thrill of battle, the Kathors laid waste to Fendoralat. From the lowliest farm to the noblest homestead, no inch of the Forest Isle was spared from their brutal march. Unprepared and outmatched, the Alatians faltered before their attackers. Their defeat was all but assured until fate intervened. From the ashes of the razed Alatian society, a few mighty individuals emerged, claiming they possessed the knowledge needed to mobilise the remnants of their people for war. The Alatian Sindadors ("Blessed Ones") became remarkable blacksmiths and inspirational generals. Armed with the finest weapons and the heartiest resolve, the Alatians fought back, pushing their attackers out to sea. Several scores of the attackers made flight aboard their ships; disappearing into the horizon. Faced with the constant threat that the Kathors might return, the Alatians constructed a great flotilla. Figures for the eventual size of the fleet have never been found. From an ancient text, the ships apparently"...stretched leagues in every direction. From sunrise to sunset, our glorious fleet spans. No foe shall ever defile out sacred isle again"
Another hundred years would pass without incident. During this century of solitude, the Alatian society was restored. The army and navy trained daily for a war that did not exist. Regrets were now being felt over the wisdom for constructing the Alatian fleet, which remained largely in-active. A growing mood soon befell Alatian society as they yearned to venture into the unknown. The coming of the Kathors proved the Alatians were not the only race on this earth. The masses of the Forest Isle longed to know from whence they came and, if possible, learn why they attacked. The decision was made to dispatch the fleet on a grand expedition into the horizon. Gliding through the waters on the most advance ships at the time, the Alatian seafarers mapped the heavens and chartered the waters. After five years of traipsing the infinite ocean, the Alatians suspected there was nothing to be found. Then, as if by divine influence, their suspicions were proven wrong. Land not their own was discovered.
Far to the north, Alatian captains found the first traces of foreign soil. At first glance, it looked very much like their own: verdant fields, golden beaches and a rocky shoreline. A year later, small groups of explorers scoured the interior. Upon further scrutiny, the Alatians made their next great discovery. None to far from the shoreline dwelt life not of Alatian stock. Similar in size and shape, but possessive of bronzed skin, the Alatians had discovered the mortal race of humanity. It has never been fully known why this happened, but a short time later the Alatians and humans waged war with one another. Could it be possible that Men were the Kathors? That question went unanswered for centuries (I will divulge the answer at a later date). In terms of technology, ingenuity and tactical ability, the Alatians were far superior. The experience the Alatians gained from their war with the Kathors had transformed them into the greatest war machine of the age. In the aftermath of the war, the Alatians changed. They were no longer the peaceful beings of before. Their victory over Men gave the Alatians a taste for conquest; an ecstasy they never wanted to end. Droves of Alatians made flight from the Forest Isle to stake their claims to seized human territory. Like vultures they gathered around the rotting carcass of Men, who were now reduced to slaves. Whereas Thessaly was once a proud and united kingdom it was now a sullied acquisition of the Alatians. Closer inspection of the land and knowledge provided by Men yielded three major points of interest. Firstly, the territory the Alatians had subdued was called Thessaly. Second, Men were not the only race to be found. Thirdly, knowledge of these other races was also divulged.
Northwest of Thessaly is a forest-shrouded peninsula. Within the thick groves of the peninsula dwelt the green skinned races of Orcs and Goblins. Both races share the same reverence for nature as the Alatians, but are also fiercely warlike - some might say the finest warrior race of the world, with a strict code of honour. Collectively, both species are identified as Greenskins and are undoubtedly the most numerous race of the world. For many generations, the Greenskins and Thessalyian Men were enemies, the bad blood between them stemming back to some unknown grievance. Their society was tribal. Clans would war against foreign warriors as oft as they fought each other. There was no real unity with the Greenskins.
To Thessaly's northeast is the largest of all mountain ranges found on this earth. Shockingly, the inhospitable sierras were populated by a pint-sized race called Dwarfs. Khaz Karak ("Mountain Realm", in Dwarfish) was the name of their home. Beyond the naked eye and beneath the mountains were endless labyrinths of smithies, mines and even whole cities. The Dwarfs are master craftsmen and forgers, their knowledge of masonry and metallurgy superseded all, even the Alatians. The Dwarfs had frequently traded with Men and warred with the Greenskins. They are proud and stalwart warriors, a worthy ally to have. Though there are abundant treasures to be found in the deep chasm of Khaz Karak, the Dwarf are cursed with the vice of perpetual greed. Like the Thessalyians, the Dwarfs were a united realm, ruled by a king or queen from the seat at Grüng Khaz ("Capital Mountain").
Intrigued by such information, the Alatians set about conquering the surrounding lands so that they may forge an empire for themselves. Though greater in number, the Greenskins lacked superior weaponry and any form of leadership. A vicious decade spanning campaign resulted in the Greenskins defeat. The Alatians dubbed their new province Finyatindmor (the "Verdant Country"), which encompassed all lands occupied by Greenskins. The Dwarfs proved to be a most hardy folk. Their imposing fortresses and menacing siege weapons decimated the Alatian army. When met in close quarters, the Dwarfs stood as strong as their mountain homes. For a while, it appeared Khaz Karak would ne'er fall. Unfortunately the Alatians learned of the Dwarfs volatile sin. With access to the Alatian coffers, several Dwarfs were bribed into betraying their kin. Khaz Karak was amalgamated into the Alatians domain. The skills of forgery, metallurgy, and masonry the Dwarfs had pioneered revolutionised the Alatian people and army. The Dwarfs also lent knowledge pertaining to what lay on the far side of their borders.
East of Khaz Karak resided the Steppes of Siberia, inhabited by a nomadic race of Men, often called Plainsmen. Siberia was an ocean of green, with grasslands that infinitely spanned every direction of the four winds. The Plainsmen themselves were heavily reliant on horses for travel and war, theirs skills with the equine bellied all others. Unlike Thessalyian Men, the Plainsmen had no central government or sole ruler to lead them. They existed as dissparated tribes, much like the Greenskins. However, the Siberians did not fight one another as frequently as the Greenskins did. It was not long after learning of this untouched land that the Alatians invaded the Steppes. The Plainsmen wielded their horsemanship with staggering proficiency, staving off the more cumbersome Alatian force time and time again. A twelve year war culminated in the Plainsmen capitulation and the assimilation of their superior cavalry into the Alatians own.
The Plainsmen told their new overlords of a mighty race that dwelt near their lands. In the north-east corner of Siberia is a cluster of mountains. The Plainsmen called these the Mountains of Strength in homage to the beings that populate it. A race of muscle, aggression and insatiable appetite ruled the sierra peaks. They were the Ogres. Ogres are easily the largest of all bipedal species - twice the height of a man and thrice the girth. To incur the wrath of an Ogre is to invite death itself. The Alatians had finally encountered a race of superior physical stature. Their mighty height and strength, however, is in inverse proportion to their intellect. The Alatians keen mind outsmarted the dim-witted Ogres and forced them into submission. Maintaining control of these brutes was a trying task. Rather than have their people govern the Ogres, the Alatians bribed several of the brutes to act as stewards - offering tributes of food as payment.
Following the campaign that subdued all the cultures described above, the Alatians observed they had conquered a massive continent. Collectively, they named their continent-wide possession Nastrunadal ("Land of the Many"). With Nastrunadal firmly in their grasp, the Alatian Empire was taking shape. Hungry for more land, the Alatians sailed to the east of Nastrunadal. Sure enough, they found territory ripe for taking. First there was the island nation of Cathay. South of that lay the continent of Arabia. Since both lands resided far to the east of Fendoralat, the Alatians dubbed this region the Far East. Over the next three hundred years, the Alatians embarked on a crusade to incorporate the entire world into their powerful Empire. When the Far East was taken, the world largely belonged to the Alatians. Drawing upon the Dwarfs for their inspiration, the Alatians named their global empire Valhalla ("the wide realm"), a name which would forever stand.
To say Imperial dominance over Valhalla was a dark time would be ignorant. Granted they did force many free races into servitude, but they also brought much garnered knowledge to isolated parts of the world. They brought medicine, education, technology and a host of benefits to nations we would see as "primitive". In fact, much of our modern day facts and ideas can be credited to the ingenuity of the vast Alatian Empire. For years, the authority of Fendoralat was supreme. An efficient government backed by indestructible legions of warriors solidified the Alatian establishment. Except for a few inhabitable and dangerous regions, Valhalla largely belonged to the Alatians. The Alatians maintained order through both the sword and the quill. For the most part, there was peace. The Alatian armies helped keep the masses in line. Whenever regular legionaries could not be counted on, the Alatians would employ local auxiliaries. Every little while, an individual would rise to challenge Imperial might. Such incidents were few and far between; all of which were crushed with ruthless efficiency. If there was a single event that could undermine the might of the Empire, it would definitely be the comet.
In the year -632, a great cosmic event occurred. Emerging from the heavens was a mighty comet. The machinations of the stars have captured the minds and imagination of poets and storytellers across the ages, but this was a source of woe. The ancient texts say the comet strafed the skies for three days and three nights. Wherever it travelled, the lands below suffered. Verdant fields withered, scorching deserts became lumbered with snow and the rivers turned to blood. The masses also suffered. More than a dozen plagues and pestilent wiped out an estimated quarter of the world's population. On the fourth night since its first sighting, it chose a resting place. At the very roof of the world, in the frozen land known as the Northern Wastes, the comet rested. Many prophets and lunatics rose in the wake, preaching the comet as an omen of doom. The Alatians were hard pressed containing the subsequent mayhem, but ultimately prevailed. A turbulent fifty-six year period followed, known nowadays as the Time of Woe. After the Alatians instigated extreme measures, order was restored to the Empire and the comet's affects were dismissed as pure coincidence. If only they knew the truth.
Now we come to the beginning of this tale. The starting year is -82, when the true purpose behind the comet started to show. Behind the veil the Alatians had thrown over their subjects, there was dissent. Bizarre things were reported across the world, and the very core of the Empire was in dispute. At the beginning of this harrowing time, one of the greatest heroes to ever live would show himself. Deemed a fugitive by Imperial officials, he was seen as a hero among his own kin. He was Lysander, son of Heracles.
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