Akara: Lands of Chaos
Three hundred years ago, Akara was a fertile land teeming with life. The world and its inhabitants prospered, and lived peacefully with the land and one another. Strong and just rulers presided over the kingdoms of Men, Elves, and Dwarves. Halfling caravans roamed the fecund lands without fear of aught but wild beasts. Wizards worked for the good of the people, using their magics to better the lot of the common folk. The gods favored Akara and her people and poured out blessings abundant. The priests of the Firstborn ministered unto the people with love and zealousness. Art, Science, Mathematics, and Astrology all were thriving arts and it appeared that the people of Akara would enter a new Age. Evil, while present, was quickly found and subdued with the strong hand of justice. Balance was maintained, as agreed upon by the gods.
But utopian Akara was soon to become a half-remembered dream and stories told as fairy tales to children. For it was three centuries ago that a powerful force rent Akara, altering her forever. For it was from the Great White Desert, now called the Yundland Waste, that the peal of doom was sounded. An interdimensional rift rent the Material Plane asunder, and from it all manner of malice and wickedness was disgorged. Orcs, trolls, goblins, tieflings, and all manner of vile creature flooded first from the Worldrift. The mighty wizards, upon being made aware of the cataclysmic disaster, threw all their arcane might into sealing the Rift. But it was too late. For now, the Worldrift had changed, altered, and grown into something powerful, chaotic, and uncontrollable. The mages of old concluded that the rift now had focused upon the Plane of Chaos. The Elder Sages knew that this would be the undoing of their world.
Therefore, armies from all lands were marshalled, and sent to the Great Rift to protect their lands. There the graceful elven archers and rangers were sent from the forest kingdoms of Quel’Thanas, marching alongside the stalwart dwarven axemen of neighboring Dol Gador. Men, too, fielded a massive army consisting of brave souls and chief among them the Knights of Akara. Then battle was joined, and though they fought valiantly, the people of Akara were ultimately defeated. To worsen matters, the land itself appeared to be failing. Crops withered, forests grew bent and twisted, somehow corrupted, and mountains became violent spears in the sky.
Meanwhile, as the horrific and colossal battle raged, the mages and priests of the goodly gods worked in unison with their divinatory magics to determine the source of the rift. It was found to be emanating from the Resplendent City, a prosperous coastal city of Men on the northern shores of the land. Word had not been sent from this place, and no armies had issued from the land. This foreboded ill, and a small band of adventurers were sent to investigate.
The intrepid explorers soon unveiled the horrors that had befallen the once glorious metropolis. It was to here that the powers of Chaos flocked. There was a powerful demi-lich controlling the portal, and preventing its closure with ancient and forbidden Necromancy and a tome of chaos and death called the Necronomicon. He used the land’s life to maintain the rift. Here was the reason for the unexpected invasion, and the concurrent death of the land itself.
In an outrage, the High Priest of Pelor the Sun God, who had gone to represent the gods and accompany the brave band, smote the demi-lich with the might of the Sun while his companions defeated the Guardians of Pandemonium. This blow felled the dread Lich Nerukul, but the retribution was terrible. With his last of his unholy power, the lich uttered a final incantation as he expired.
It was then that the Elder Old Gods entered the Prime Material Plane through the rift from the Plane of Chaos and made Akara their home. As the ancient evils of chaos and despair entered the realm, they made a vessel of the High Priest. The Worldrift was shattered asunder, and all those fighting near it were instantly slain. Thousands perished in the terrible release of energy. This is called the Eve of Culling today. Such a travesty was beyond the longsuffering of the gods, who had until this point allowed the mortal races to determine their own fate. However, the Elder Old Gods posed a direct challenge to their rule, and the balance was turned. So, the gods themselves joined battle. Heironeous, benevolent god of Justice fought alongside Nerull, the wicked god of death. For this, too, had become a battle of survival.
The battle was catacylsmic. Mountains were toppled, seas thrown upon the land, and the earth itself heaved and rolled. But the Elder Old Gods were not only malicious, but ancient. Their evil had roamed the Plane of Chaos since before Time itself came into being. They were enigmatic, and made of the very stuff of fear and chaos. They had longed to enter the Material plane since before these gods were born. The histories later tell how many gods were slain, though such impossible tales are the province of old wives’ tales. What is certain, however, is that the gods of Akara were bested. They were necessary for the existence of Akara, however, and so could not be killed outright. Thus, they were imprisoned below the very desert from whence their greatest foe had ascended to power. Now called the Yundland Waste, it is the prison of the gods. It was sealed with the very stuff of Chaos and Nightmares, and none have found the way to break the seals of the Godhold.
A reign of terror engulfed the lands of Akara, and even sleep was no escape. Every mortal being spoke of terror-filled nightmares and many hallucinated in the daylight. It was a time of despair and woe. Many were enslaved, and great ziggurats to the new gods were erected. The dwarves’ skill stone was used to carve and craft the unholy edifices, and the backs of Men used to transport it. Elven magic was used to perverse ends, befouling Nature even more. And still the foul dreams continued. Foul and vile priesthoods were established from the ranks of the corrupt, and they championed the cause of the Chaos deities as Chaos Priests. All in all, this reign of evil lasted fifty years. It would have continued interminably but for a small resistance movement called the Enclave based in the now frozen Tundra of K’naa. There, the remnant of wizards, warriors, and clerics of the old times gathered. The wizards felt at fault for exploring Necromancy, which was used to open and maintain the Rift. The clerics were powerless, their gods imprisoned, and the others’ were just as hopeless. They would choose death over this existence. So, they gathered in common cause against insurmountable odds. Yet the dreams were unceasing.
Through their clandestine scheming, they devised a plot to usurp the newly ascended gods. Using the same device that summoned them, they would cause the gods of Akara to be freed by instead imprisoning the Elder Old Gods, thereby maintaining the seals. They acted on their bold plan, and a final battle was joined. It is said that the Enclave was destroyed in their final heroic act, but their success was not as intended. They used the artifact of great power to ensnare the old gods in their own temples. However, all did not go as planned. Instead of trading places with the goodly gods, the Chaos deities were simply…killed or banished. The gods of Akara were still imprisoned. The Enclave and her members were slain without mercy. Thankfully, with the disappearance of the Elder Ones, the nightmares ceased.
So here we have come one-hundred years after the Enclave’s act of desperation. Today, Akara is a dark land. The cults of Chaos went into hiding, and it is whispered of their scheming in dark corners. The Elder Old Gods are not spoken of, and it is taboo to utter their names. The gods of Akara remain imprisoned in their desert cell, and the races are decimated. We slowly rebuild, but corruption and malice run rampant. Fear is the only light in the eyes of the people of Akara. We are grateful to the many heroes of the First Battle and the Enclave after it, but we live in fear to this day.
We few remaining elves are the only ones who remember the Old Days of Joy, and even those who do grow old and die. We are mortal now, though long-lived yet. It is a harsh life we live, and the meaning of peace is forgotten. When not contending with bandits, trolls, ogres, and the like, we must fight the cults and each other. Things are not the way they were.
Akara is a damned land, but hope is not easily killed. But we know despair now, we know fear. We are abandoned by our gods, turned against one another, and living in a harsh, unforgiving world. But the spirits of Men, Elves, and Dwarves are not easily crushed. We work for a better world still. Some claim the Enclave will rise again, others say such flights of fancy are best kept quiet. Either way, we do what we can to survive. And we hope. And we pray.
However, evil is restless, and people say the ancient places of evil are again reawakened by the perverse of heart. The Worldrift stirs, and foreboding tidings are afoot.
And the nightmares have returned….
From the journals of Ereth the Sage
9th day of the Month of Terrors,(4400 McD, 113 PR)