Hey guys! I just wanted to give you a little bit of insight into what you’re about to read. We here at the collective have really wanted to start our own universe from the ground up. This is the start of that vision. Look out for more of these type of articles in the near future! Happy Gaming, and enjoy!
Far to the south off of the coast of the Shamdel Desert there lies a group of spires reaching far into the sky. The spires have been abandoned for centuries, cursed by the gods for some unknown and ancient betrayal, long out-dating the history that is kept today. Almost. Deep within the darkest cellars underneath the Pantheon’s Temple in Aramek, there are scrolls which tell of the darkest and most secret tales in the known world. Heroes, kingdoms, armies, and evil that have long left the collective memory of those not raised to a seat of immeasurable wisdom and trust by the very gods that cursed those dark spires. Spires that ooze dread and make waking nightmares burn across the minds of those who spend too long within their shadow. But why? Why do these mountains hold such dark and mysterious power when they are no more than stone rent from the earth by the gods in a time long past?
Long ago the spires of El’Riam, as they were called then, stretched much wider and stood much taller than can be imagined. The seven spires that are a symbol of madness and evil now were simply the tallest mountains in a range that stretched from the coast of the Shamdel Plains (as they were known then) miles into the sea, away from the troubles and politics that ravaged mortal life at the time. In the center of these seven spires, there was a city, beautiful and hidden away like a secret garden waiting for the right hands to tend it. The city was called Mandarel, and it was built by the hands of the gods themselves to house a champion of their choosing and his people. The gods waited patiently for a long time until their champion finally emerged. He came from the west, far from the mountains and plains that the gods had chosen to be their fertile kingdom. The man was called Elendred of Salam. He was a man of virtue and purpose, intentionally removed from the politics of his home kingdom and banished from the noble courts for resisting the totalitarian cruelty of the King in Salam (The city after which the nation of Sadalam was named). The gods looked on Elendred and decided to crown him not only their champion but King of Mandarel. Elendred, humbled that the gods would choose him for this great task, embarked on a journey that spanned many years gathering followers worthy to join him in the city of the gods. He took a wife by the name of Kela. She was fair, wise, and well loved by those who chose to follow them to the spires of El’Riam. When they reached the Plains of Shamdel the gods opened a path through the mountains that the new nation could travel through. This pass was the only way in and out of the mountain range that would not result in certain death.
When Elendred and Kela passed into the ring of seven spires they saw a sight that was breathtakingly beautiful. Within the ring of mountains taller than any structure of man there stood a smaller spire. Atop this spire, on miraculously flat land, stood a large and beautiful city that surpassed any of the great feats accomplished by the mortals in this world. All down the spire there was a wide, winding path that stopped at terraced fields that were bursting with fresh crop and fertile soil. A large lake bordered the path leading up to the base of the central spire, and it was populated with fish enough to feed the whole populace for a whole year. The water was fresh even though the mountains bordered the ocean. The new nation flooded into the city to see it gleaming white and gold, fountains of sweet water seemed to be on every corner. There were houses that would be considered palaces in other lands, enough for every member of every family to have their own. The crown jewel of Mandarel, though, was the King’s Palace. The Palace, in contrast with the rest of the city, shone with a platinum sheen. Gemstones as large as a man’s head lined the doorways and tracings of gold and silver adorned each rampart and stonework throughout the entire structure. The thrones in the main antechamber looked to be made of spun glass, so delicate that they would surely break if anyone were to speak any louder than a whisper. The King Elendred and the Queen Kela took their thrones and ruled the land with joy in their hearts.
But not all who were in the city found joy.
A dragon, ancient in her own right, had seen the nation pass through the mountain range that she called home. She knew that the gods had built a great city at the heart of the spires and wanted the riches that were there to be her own. So she took an artifact that she had uncovered deep in the mountains and used her magic to take the shape of a human woman and slip into the city unnoticed. The artifact that the dragon used was a humble thing. A small brooch that looked to be made of bronze in the shape of a many-petaled flower. Its power, however, was anything but humble. This brooch would make anyone believe a lie that the wearer told so long as it never left the wearer’s possession, and it held the potential to fool even the gods if they were unwary. And they were. The gods took rest with the knowledge that their champion had taken his throne, and in their rest, the dragon slipped into the city unnoticed. Her jealousy grew as she looked upon the platinum plated castle, and she decided to take it for herself. She waited until all of the excitement and splendor settled down, and over the following weeks began to spread the seeds for her take over. She told the nation that she was once an advisor in a foreign land, and could help the King rule their nation. The whole population cried for the king to accept her as an advisor, and so he did. How could he have known any better?
The dragon started to tell the King small lies to test his resolve against the power of her artifact, and she was surprised to see that unlike the gods and the peasants in the city below, the King was always vigilant. His unquestioning faith in the gods and confidence in himself made him very resilient to the power the brooch afforded the dragon. So she took a different approach. The dragon approached Queen Kela and began to whisper tales of uprising within the city. She implored her to warn the King so that their heads did not end up on the chopping block. Then she went to the people and convinced them that the King was planning on turning them all into slaves so that Elendred and Kela could lead an even more lavish life than they already had. Over the following months, tension and anger grew within the city. Elendred could no longer deny what his wife whispered into his ear, and he went out to face the people. He was greeted with jeers and hissing. The populace was distrusting, and hatred oozed from them. Though he tried to calm them, they only grew more ravenous, the entire city was on the brink of total chaos. And then the dragon whispered once more into the King’s ear that all he needed to do was kill one and the rest would follow. Corruption pierced Elendred’s heart and he lashed out with his mighty blade at the first citizen that dared come close enough. Contrary to what the dragon said, the city broke out into total war. Elendred slew his subjects left and right, neighbor fought neighbor, brother killed brother, and the city burned passionately with evil and scathing hatred. It was in this moment that the dragon revealed herself, a great and powerful mass of blue-scaled fury that rained cold fire down on the city with each laugh that left her throat. In her transformation, though the brooch that she had worn for so long fell away from her unnoticed, and was lost to the lake far below as she flew.
With the artifact removed from its user, every denizen of the town realized that they had all been believing a lie. They had murdered one another for no better reason than jealousy brought about by dark magics. Tears flowed through the blood and the soot that had marred the beauty of the once pristine city, and one by one the surviving citizens hurled themselves from the walls of the city into the lake below. The water, once fresh and clear was dyed red with blood and fire. Finally, Elendred and Kela were the last two survivors in the city. They stood on the walls and wept to the gods to forgive them this injustice before, they too, took their own lives in the great hall of Mandarel’s platinum castle.
The gods, freshly freed from the spell over them watched in shock as their city turned into a graveyard before them. Their shock quickly turned into rage, and they released all of that rage onto the one that was truly responsible for this travesty. The Dragon, still not aware of her vulnerability, was perched on the highest spire of the platinum castle, admiring her new kingdom when the gods arrived. They came in physical form and bound the dragon in golden chains forged in the fires of heaven. They dragged her, screaming, down into the deepest pit of the castle and chained her there where she could not corrupt any others. Then the gods sunk the mountain with a mighty earthquake that was felt all the way across the continent in Sadalam. The mountains fell into the sea until only the highest peaks were visible some miles from shore. The city of Mandarel was left above the sea so that the dragon could suffer her torment without drowning, and the rage of the gods burned the Plains of Shamdel until nothing but sand and dust remained.
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