LORE
The Calamity

'After only days Xeryn was reduced to little more than rubble and cursed wastelands... ‘Eventually the gods could not tolerate such horrors done in their name. Foretold by a slew of divine omens, they descended upon the Empire to right its wrongs. In a chain of dreadful events that became known as The Calamity, they destroyed the Empire in a matter of days. The gods then saw what they had done in their anger and confusion. It is said that grief and shame broke them, and they left this reality, never to return.’

- Agos, old wanderer

The Calamity is perhaps the single most important event in the history of the Empire and the continent of Xeryn, if not the entire world. It changed everything; nature’s laws no longer apply to many places, the fabric of reality is broken, all cultures involved were changed irreversibly, and the creators of the universe disappeared. Ever since then, a new calendar has been in use. All of this began with the Omens, about a month prior to the devastation.

Signs and Portents

‘What rained from the sky looked like no rain at all, but more like blood. But it wasn’t even that. Upon closer inspection it looked like an oily, crimson substance with dark streaks. It seemed to move with a will of its own and collected into puddles. Where it congregated, countless tiny black things swarmed in it. Perodius touched it against our warnings and it ate him alive in seconds.’

- Excerpt from a survivor’s written account (dated 4 days before the Calamity)

The Empire was on the brink of civil war. Chief among the atrocities involved was the genocide committed in Viran, a country that was especially rebellious, and the Twelve Apostles decided to make an example of it. As hundreds of thousands of Virani were being put to death, the first Omens began to appear. Initially, these were mild, but still odd: milk curdled in seconds, crops ripened and died in a matter of hours, eerie sounds were heard on the night winds, streams flew backwards, lunatics raved most disturbingly, and animals began to migrate at random.

It is said that the Elder Gods could no longer abide Imperial cruelty and evil done in their name, so many retrospectively speculate that the Omens were supposed to be their warnings. On the order of the Twelve, however, these curious and threatening phenomena were ignored, regarded as manifestations of the gods’ anger owing to rebelling subjects. The Immortal Emperor remained silent. About a week before the Calamity (by the 16th of Xunais), the portents started to become stranger, and decidedly more violent. At places a blood-like substance fell from the sky, at others acidic rains struck. Terrible storms ravaged the provinces while deadly hurricanes and floods invaded the coastlines. The earth shook, and all of nature was in a panicked frenzy. Servants of the theocracy ordered the people to pray to the Emperor. Most citizens of the Empire believed that the end of the world is nigh, so as expected, many went on sprees of indulgences or violence.

Cataclysm

‘Upon closer inspection, all thaumaturgical evidence points towards an arcane incident. It is difficult to be certain, since no measurements survived the event, but applying Bethanus’s theory, we can consider contemporary samples adequate. The theory stipulates that the arcane footprint, or resonance, of today’s anomalies have their roots in the Calamity and therefore must share the same arcane attributes. Thus, it can be established with almost complete certainty that whatever fuelled the combination of seemingly otherworldly phenomena that we call the Calamity is magical in origin and nature. [...] Considering the range and variety of all the accounted episodes during the incident, the magical energy required to perform such feats can only be described as cosmic. [...] That means it is impossible to have anyone be able to commit such energies other than, perhaps, the Gods.’

- Taken from the official report of Grand Magister Valdar of the Crimson Order before the Senate (P.C. 797)

The Calamity itself began on the 24th of Xunais in the last year of the old calendar (I.C. 2793). The few contemporary accounts say that the sun stopped at midday and did not move. The sky changed everywhere to different degrees (the most apparent of these changes occurred in the Southern part of the continent) and there was a constant and strengthening droning sound heard everywhere for a few hours. At length, the skies broke and all hell broke loose. There’s no two regions that suffered the same fate - perhaps the cruel imagination of the Gods that descended from the heavens knew no bounds? Some areas burned up in a conflagrating meteor shower, others were swallowed by seas, still others darkened to pitch blackness while unseen, giant horrors toppled the buildings and consumed people. Several cities disappeared without a trace, others were cursed by terrible sorceries. Dark, living clouds fell on the ground and drained the life of men, animals, and plants alike. Streams of destructive energies whirled around and killed indiscriminately. Ominous mists embraced settlements and left behind only bodies with faces frozen in utter horror.

Nobody could see or tell what or who caused the cataclysm, but most people were convinced that the Gods themselves manifested to punish the Empire. However, if punishment was the point of all this, it was done in excess: after only days of these cataclysmic phenomena, the continent of Xeryn was reduced to little more than rubble and cursed wastelands. At that moment, as quickly as it all started, the Calamity ended, and a macabre silence settled on the demolished realms. Over 70% of the population of Xeryn was dead. The Elder Races would not escape the Calamity, either. The Elven homeland of Dor Anthelas burned to cinders, which in turn robbed the Elves of their immortality. The great Dwarven iron and stone cities of Dvendar Tharr erupted and melted in a catastrophic volcanic chain reaction, killing most of their proud race. Truly, what little remained did so mostly because of the final act of the Immortal Emperor.

The Abjuration

‘Abiuara ut eas Imperator Divinis!’ (approx.: May the Divine Emperor shield you from harm!’)

- Imperial proverb

Imperial dogma states that when the vengeful Elder Gods descended upon the world, His Divine Majesty was expecting them. Aided by the Twelve, the most powerful of his Apostles, the Emperor attempted to shield his Empire from the bulk of the wrath of the Gods. In the heart of the capital, atop the gigantic Cathedral of Ascendancy, a magnificent ritual was performed. Though less patriotic citizens of the Empire today doubt the success of this heroic endeavour, historians and clerics point to the fact that most of the mighty capital, Xeryn City, did avoid destruction, as well as some parts of the oldest provinces of the hearthlands. This act was the Abjuration, and on each anniversary of the Calamity, on 24 Xevarum (the name of the month, originally derived from the name of the Elder Godess Xuna, got changed after the Calamity), the citizens of the Empire celebrate the Emperor’s victory over the treacherous Gods.

Unfortunately, the Emperor himself was terribly battered by the inconceivable energies he struggled against, and fell into a deep slumber to survive and to heal. He’s been in this state for over a millennia now, confined to the innermost chambers of the Cathedral, where only his closest servants, the Apostles and the Twelve, can see him and care for him. The Twelve themselves were present at the Abjuration, and did not escape unscathed, either. Their flesh melted from their bones as the Gods struck at the capital, but the Emperor bound their souls to these bones and made them survive in their new forms. The Twelve were reborn as powerful undead, the Liches, and continue to serve His Divine Majesty while he slumbers. It was they who reorganized the Empire. It is they who rule it till the day the Emperor awakens.

Survivors

‘Calami-wha’? Ha! My ancestors just sat an’ watched as this Empire of yours went up-in smoke an’ flames. My people tho’, we live by tha law of tha spirits: Shalimi. Thas why Dajmaha never burned, ntugu.’

- The mercenary Vikujambi

Those that survived the Calamity did so either by being extremely lucky, extremely powerful, or by heeding the Omens and preparing for the end of the world. The lucky ones were mostly in the few places the Abjuration protected: Xeryn City and parts of the oldest provinces. The powerful ones, like the Council of the School of Sorcery in Karkpolis managed to protect parts of their cities with immensely potent magic. Then there are the ones who looked at the Omens and interpreted them differently. Seeing these occurrences as divine warnings, many dissenting high priests and concerned leaders took measures to protect their subjects. Most of these measures involved shelters of one type or the other, which are referred to as ‘calerus’. Some caleri were natural underground cave systems, others were built for different reasons. A surprisingly high number of these managed to save the lives of those who hid in them during and after the Calamity.

There also has to be a mention of certain regions of the continent that avoided the attention of the Gods completely. Dajmaha, the Land of Eternal Rain was spared, as were the Atuk Mountains separating it from Tark, which proved to be great shelter for half of the province’s population. The Sharduk tribes redeployed the ships they used to invade the continent with and waited for the worst to pass out in the ocean. Unfortunately, these realms also suffered greatly afterwards, due to the magical fallout of the Calamity and the complete destruction of all other places.

Excommunication

‘The treachery of the Old Gods changed our world. Bal Ur Kaal teaches us that it was jealousy that prompted their divine ire. Seeing our prosperity, happiness, freedom, and most importantly, the potential of the mortal races... the potential to ascend, just like His Divine Majesty ascended… angered the Gods to no end. So they touched this world in their blind anger, and the marks of that touch will remind us of their treachery forever. But what parent does that? What parent turns on its own children? We are better off without the so called guidance of the Old Gods. We are now free to forge our own destiny!’

- Excerpt from the sermon of Triumvirate Pontifex Geludis on the anniversary of the Calamity

Following the Calamity, the Elder Gods left the world. They no longer answered prayers and no longer provided magical energies to their priesthoods. Where they went, or how is it impossible to reach them - no one can say. There’s been attempts to reach Mount Xyn (the metaphysical one on the Outer Realms, not the one in the mountain ranges near the capital city) much later, but the ones that survived the perilous journey through demon-infested planes found its gates closed and the realm seemingly abandoned. The shock of the surviving populace quickly turned to anger towards the Gods. Soon, the remaining shrines and temples were brought down, and those that hid themselves underground or in magical shelters defied the gods. Often, priests who refused to abandon their gods were killed, and this purge resulted in the loss of most old religious traditions, effectively obscuring the old faith. An era of godlessness followed for centuries.

However, such vacuum that the Elder Gods left behind yearned to be filled on a cosmic level. Soon, mighty beings appeared and set themselves up as new gods, offering powers and whispering promises of retribution. After a few generations, people accepted the cruelty of the new world, and with that they accepted its new deities as well. The Empire was reformed in a darker image of its former self, and the Triumvirate became its official religion.

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