After a decade of growing global conflict with the undead, in 1320 Avard, the War of the Undead ended. The evil necromancer Demik Coruth was defeated, and most of the world withdrew to lick its wounds.
In the Choranil Desert, the Ogre Nations – numbering in the millions thanks to the wise leadership of the ogremai Itzak – began to make plans to destroy the nations of Rakore and Kur Maeth. Unfortunately, the War of the Undead's end sparked the beginning of the Srik War for the Ogre Nations.
The Srik were a race of enormous ant-like beings that emerged from nowhere, perhaps created by the magics of the War of the Undead itself. The Srik expanded quickly, taking over half of the great Choranil Desert. The Ogre Nations abandoned its plans of invading Rakore and Kur Maeth, to concentrate on surviving the onslaught of the Srik.
Male Srik could fly, decapitating orcs with their razor-clawed legs. Drones were as big as any two horses, and could tear apart an unarmed orc in seconds. Warriors were larger than a dozen ogres put together, with armor that could take almost any pounding.
Their hives dug deep within the deserts, excavating untold miles of sand and rock until they found moisture and life. The hives would sleep, hibernating, until one of the few awake would detect prey enough to rouse the hive – and then the fury of the Srik would be unleashed, scouring the desert for hundreds of square miles.
There were limits, however, to the Srik. The Choranil Desert was hemmed in by mountains and beyond those mountains, forests. The Srik themselves could survive, for a time, in those mountains and forests – but they could not live and grow and breed in such conditions. The desert was their home, and there they would stay, never a threat to the Rakoran forests and mountains.
In the spring of 1329, a Srik hive unleashed a long-buried evil.
Thousands of years ago, the Dharveil ruled a beautiful grassland known as the Chor a'Nileh – elven for the 'land of grasses'. The Dharveil were a cruel race of elves that used necromancy and wizardy to subjugate many races beneath their spiked boot heels. They ruled for so long with such great power that they became the legends around which many races fear the elves. The Dharveil even bred from amongst their own people a subrace of tall, strong, fierce warriors and fighters – today known as the 'desert elves'.
The Dharveil empire collapsed from within, due to corruption, infighting, and the increasing madness of their king-lich. Their fights and their magics drained the Chor a'Nileh, turning it into a barren wasteland when they sought to tap into the powers of the Towers, and instead made things go horribly wrong. Within a hand-span of days, the Towers' meteorological effects turned the cities of the Dharveil into dune-buried wastes.
After the collapse of the empire, many of the subjugated peoples returned to the sites of the ancient cities, and placed markers against the necromancy of the Dharveil – markers of stone that would help keep the Dharveil in place, even in undeath, and prevent others from gaining access to the powerful magics and terrible evils of the Dharveil.
Over millennia, the legends of the Dharveil faded into memory – and the markers were buried beneath the desert sands or obliterated by the desert winds and floods.
The Srik, being animalistic, were immune to the effects of the few remaining markers. One of their colonies tapped into the capital city of the Dharveil, breaking the marker and removing its remains. Where not even the War of the Undead could free the Dharveil, the Srik succeeded in unleashing the ancient evils. In part.
Supreme Leader Itzak noticed that the left flank of the war against the Srik was making rapid advances against a weakening enemy. Years of mercenary-trained and combat-tested discipline were ingrained into the orc soldier slaves of the Ogre Nations. The orcs could take punishment that would terrify any other mortals. Armored with Srik carapaces and armed with flint, the orcs were as one with the desert. The regular ogres would often be buffed with potions of strength and battle frenzy, and sent in as shock troops or held as reserves for particularly rough battles. Kobolds, delicious, tasty slave morsels that they were, made effective archers – and their speed was improved by mounting them on coyotes. And then there were the ogre magi themselves, capable of hurling fire balls or turning invisible – or even flying, when they were powerful enough. Against the animalistic fury of the Srik, even such an army as Itzak could perhaps defeat one hive – and then another hive would drive them back.
Rather than press the invasion into Srik lands, the Ogre Nations leader Itzak decided to pull those armies back to attack Rakore. Itzak had been steadily working on a great many plans to topple Rakore, from planting a powerful agent within the King of Rakore's advisors, to negotiating with other nations to invade Rakore, to goading Kur Maeth's leaders unsuspectingly into aiding his plans to crush Rakore.
Itzak even managed to get a spy within Rakore's mages, such that Itzak gained control of one of the impressive Towers.
The holy warriors of the Fourth Crusades had set out to cleanse the western world of magic. After crushing the slave trade and crippling drug smuggling and eradicating demons from the city state of Kur Maeth, the holy warriors set their eyes on Rakore – ready to stamp out the mages still present in a land that had given rise to the global shadow that had been the necromancer Demik Coruth.
Years of frustration at not being able to invade Rakore because of politics or logistics seethed, and needed only a prod from Itzak's agents. A Rakore weakened by fighting with ogre magi and ogre magi weakened by battling Rakoran mages was too tempting a target. Their fleet set forth with every intention of completely destroying Rakore.
The Mad God known as Nabrol ruled his continent-sized nation with an iron fist. Unpredictable, chaotic, and occasionally prone to wipe out vast portions of his own people for no apparent reason, he also demanded sacrifice – human sacrifice. Nabrol was often called the Blood God, as each of his followers was required daily to make a sacrifice of their own blood.
The administration of Nabrol's empire was left to his priests, and their theocratic might aligned tightly with the Avard Accords. Mages were gone from the lands of Nabrolia. Every possible blood line with even the faintest hint of magic had been eradicated. A standing army was ready to strike anywhere at any time for any reason against anyone, led by priests who rode giants into war. The army was clad in heavy armor, as were the horses. Overwhelming power was the style of Nabrolian forces.
When the priests of Nabrol learned of a force that would move their fleets into mage-friendly Rakoran waters, and that Nabrol himself approved of the method of transport, then preparations began in earnest. It mattered not that some mage would be using arcane magics to transfer the fleets; it mattered more that magic would be used to unleash the force of the Blood God against mages and their supporters.
The above series of maps reads from left to right in a timeline of major events in the war. As the ograns (red) invade Rakore (forces in blue) from the east, Itzak's mage teleported the Nabrolian forces (purple) in from the west. From the south came the Kur Maeans (green). From the north came the undead, roused by the Dharveil (army battle lines indistinct and not shown).
After only thirty days of fighting, Rakore appeared to be non-existent. Freedom fighters operated from within the confines of the Rakoran Forests, and several strongholds still held – but for the most part, by late summer of 1329, Rakore was no more.
Hallis Island and Maddog Island were refuges for much of the Rakoran populace that could be evacuated. Loregard fell, and its defenders fought a moving retreat to the mountain of Lok Giran. The mountain fastness of the dwarven priests, Mount Lavanor, held, taking in the population of Rakore's largest city, Kashin. The abandoned ruins of Ruins of Tymarell and the ruins even beneath it held the population of the city of Takanal. The city of Teras held, aided by Kur Maen reinforcements and isolated by swamps.
Things looked very grim, even as the capital, Mount Basilisk, began to fall. The last of the Stonehelms – the strongest and fiercest of the dwarves – were nearly wiped out at Mount Basilisk. Roughly 2,500 Stonehelms and 1,000 other dwarves cost the Ogre Nations nearly half a million in dead orcs, ogres, and kobolds. The Stonehelms and the defenders of Mount Basilisk held an empty capital, to convince the ograns that the king was still there, when he had evacuated weeks before to Hallis Island.
Borrowing a page from the God of Memories, the king's advisor on magic sacrificed himself in a blast of aether-magic that destroyed the besieging army of Mount Basilisk.
The king, seeing no other options, allowed the Burning Sun Monastery to unleash horrible weapons held since the destruction of Tulish. The weapons had been held in reserve because they were too powerful; once unleashed, other nations might realize how to construct them, and could possibly use them against Rakore – the last bastion of magic in all the world.
The sacrifice of the king's magical advisor allowed the king of Rakore another option – to let the world think that all the mages of Rakore could sacrifice themselves in a similar fashion at will, when really only the most powerful of Rakoran mages could sacrifice themselves in such a way.
Volunteer mages stepped forward to go on suicidal missions with the doomsday weapons from the Burning Sun, and brought the heat of a star to Rakore in select locations, destroying the mainstay of the armies of the Ogre Nations. Any auguries cast by priest seeking to determine the power of Rakore would give misleading answers, about the sacrifices of a few mages.
The rest of the world rocked back on its heels, thinking that the mages of Rakore could sacrifice themselves anytime – perhaps even anywhere. The secrets of the Towers were unleashed by the mad Nabrolians, though deception and misleading information by Rakore would help to keep other nations from realizing the potential of the Towers. One of the king's advisors had long ago begun sabotaging the other Towers, booby-trapping them and leaving horrible traps.
The nation of Tesan on the continent of Northern Galanath destroyed itself by attempting to use the Towers as the Nabrolians claimed. Instead of transporting a great army within their enemy's borders, they unleashed tornadoes and windstorms the likes of which the world had not experienced in over ten millennia – but only within a set meteorological limit that nearly destroyed eight nations (Tesan, Boran, Shistason, the Sebre Druids, Loraxi, Fi Chani, Laekbon, and parts of Kirikorik – map). Those nations may never recover from the devastation unleashed by the fools of Tesan – and only madmen would ever attempt to use the Towers for their own gain, again.
A lost city of the dark elves was found, and brought to Rakore en masse. The duchess of the dark elves already within Rakore eagerly added their forces to those of Rakore, and the dark elves fought with a vengeance in order to defend their first open home in centuries.
A flotilla of Sholin neared Rakore in that time. Having been harassed by a pirate armada that the Rakoran navy narrowly beat back, the peoples of the Maotosh Sholin banded with the Rakorans and helped to fight the remaining ograns.
With help from the remaining mages of Rakore, several armies of the ograns rebelled when promised lands of their own within Rakore's borders. An orcish duke was appointed even to the king's council, and a large swath of the northern territories given over to the orc duke. The kobolds rebelled from the ograns, and with their also-great numbers, were given a duchy of their own within the lands of the Ogre Nations that was annexed by Rakore.
Kur Maeth had an odd split. Many of its people turned away from the teachings of the Inquisition, and moved to the Janis Plains of Rakore. The city-state of Kur Maeth, finding its population reduced by as much as a third due to the fighting and defection to Rakore, found survival amidst the hostile jungles more important than pressing any attack against Rakore or the Ogre Nations.
The Ogre Nations, greatly reduced, was forced back into the Choranil Desert, where a truce was struck. The clerics of Rakore would help keep the Dharveil from attacking the ograns there, in exchange for the land annexed for the kobolds, and the return of all slaves taken by the Ogre Nations. The Ogre Nations found itself once again caught in the war against the Srik, holding the right flank and unable to advance or retreat.
Itzak was left in control of the Ogre Nations by order of the King of Rakore. The ogremai never did learn of the doomsday weapons of Rakore, despite his spies and the continuing cold war with Rakore and Kur Maeth, and the hot war against the Srik and the Dharveil.
The Dharveil, for their part, continue to harass and annoy both the Ograns, the Srik, and Rakore – though the Kur Maens found dealing with the undead relatively easy.
A great exodus of elves from the Banoc Forests occurred, as the leaders there were stirred to help fight against the ograns – though too late, by many Rakorans' feelings. The elves were given lands and titles within Rakore by the King of Rakore – more as a stop-gap against future invasions than anything else.
Tribes of ogres, orcs, and kobolds abound in the Rakoran Forests. Some of the tribes have gone feral, and will attack anyone or anything, while others seek to integrate themselves into Rakoran society.
Not all of the newcomers have Rakoran ideals on their minds.
The Dharveil and the Ogre Nations still use their deceit and trickery to influence Rakore.
The Inquisition, though fearful of the new mage-sacrificing Rakore, still seeks to stamp out magic across all the world of Gaeleth.
Rakore is rebuilding. There are plenty of riches from what was taken of the ograns. There is plenty of work left to be done, to rebuild cities such as Kashin and fortresses such as Loregard. The lands of the Ogre Nations are now open to Rakoran travelers, and a road has been run along the coast from Rakore to the Ogre Nations to Kur Maeth – and another road out into the first real cities of the Ogre Nations.
Each nation is keeping secrets from the others. Each still seeks to out do the others. But Rakore's fighting spirit, its belief in the freedoms of individuals, its written-in-stone dwarven laws and ideals… Rakore still stands, despite all the ravages of the Four Winds.
Old racial hatreds die hard. Many within the king's council of advisors cannot even speak with one another due to both language barriers and old hatreds. A new civil war may be brewing, and the king is raising full-time armies – both to put down any rebellions, and to gain experience as a mixed-race army. Lok Magius did not survive unscathed – its library was gutted by the enemy mage within, and some of its key people killed; the mages are rebuilding, and searching anew for knowledge that was stolen or destroyed.
It is a new day in Rakore. And nothing will ever be the same again.