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The Vori’s concept of "recorded history" is The Quest, its heroes, and their deeds. Not only did they keep their history in their heads, passed down from one generation to the next, they never kept dates. As the tales were passed down orally, tiny details changed, making it difficult to keep track of exactly what was truth and what was story. Yet, however you tell Atvoria's story, it always begins with Nalageos.
- Broughton, M. R. (7C-289). A Brief History of Recorded Time (3rd Ed.)
During the Winnowing, the gods and dragons battled for supremacy. One such battle between Golgorai-Asthas and Allaka led to the flooding of the land around modern-day Atvoria, leaving only the peaks of the Imoura Mountains above the surface. When the floodwaters receded during the First Calling, the people were wary of venturing into the previously-flooded areas should the waters return. Their fears were assuaged by the appearance of a hero who came from the valley below. He declared himself to be Nalageos, the god of questing, summer bounty, and exploration; he vowed to lead them to other survivors on mountains similar to theirs.
After the First Calling, the cult of Nalageos grew in size and influence, attracting adventurers and travelers brave enough to explore the Atvoren Frontier. A region littered with ancient ruins and untold treasure, the Frontier provided a calling for the natives as they ventured from their mountains into the land below. Until the First Quest, Atvoria would remain a sleepy territory of rolling hills and temperate valleys. The founding of Dendros by-the-Sea along the Sabyline Coast marked the future starting point for many of the thrill-seekers entering the country. No real government existed beyond the municipal level, and superstitious Vori roamed alongside foreign adventurers.
The beginnings of Atvoria proper are rooted in the rivalry between Nalageos and Zahatmos. It starts, like any good folk tale does, with a hero’s call to action. A long-time ally to Nalageos - and crucial to the union of the nation - was Zahatmos, dragon of fate. He made it his duty to seek out quests, great beasts, and new frontiers for Nalageos to overcome, playing at the strings of fate to challenge his friend. Over time Zahatmos grew bitter that his adversary always succeeded and, unbeknownst to Nalageos, began concocting a scheme to finally fool him. One cool, starlight evening, Zahatmos heard the striking of a faraway fatestring in his dreams. A confusing sound to even the dragon himself, it filled his head with scenes of a great battle at the end of what he called the Zenith Harpstring. Upon waking, Zahatmos created a prophecy in the form of a quest destined to thwart Nalageos, who he now perceived as his rival. Attaching the prophecy to the Final Harpstring, he planted rumours within the Atvoren countryside, eagerly awaiting the news to spread. Nalageos heard of the prophecy quickly enough, and immediately set out to gather the heroes mentioned within as the Company. Numbering thirteen in total, the party embarked upon The Quest from the city of Dendros, their departure marked by the ringing of a great silver bell erected for this specific occasion.
Despite the failure and death of his companions, Nalageos pressed on alone until an eventual defeat forced him to return to Atvoria and reform the Company. When Nalageos returned to Dendros, he found a land very much different than the one he had departed from. The twelve mortal members of his Company had become idolized by the Vori after their departure. Monastic orders were soon formed in each member's honor to train journeymen to emulate their values and way of life, which would evolve into guilds of tradesman practicing the same craft as their respective “saint”. In a cruel twist of Zahatmos' strands of fate, the members of the Company had become destined to repeat the Quest alongside their god until it could ultimately be completed. Though the humans fell to their mortal nature, the roles of the members in each subsequent Company formed by Nalageos remained the same; there was always a Judge, a Ward, a Chemic, a Poacher, a Lover, a Farrier, a Gardener, a Wretch, a Scribe, a Minstrel, a Shipwright, a Gambler, and eventually a Manslayer.
The years between each departure of the Company during the Age of Balance are optimistically remembered by some as the Age of Heroes. These periods were characterized by great feats of martial and magical prowess by the guilds. Although many scholars believe that records of such feats are exaggerated accounts turned into legend, there is some evidence to support such claims. The romantic exploits of St. Enham the Lover inspired a generation of authentically Atvoren art and poetry, while Amren Waystrider and his followers developed what would become the House of Harps from the teachings of Zahatmos himself. Others pejoratively refer to it as The Fool's Peace - while Atvoren society may have revolved around the Quest, the rest of the world did not. The Guilds did little to develop a system of government during this time, focusing entirely on the training of journeymen for the Quest. Early Kilden and Eztalpatli expeditions into the Atvoren frontier went uncontested and would set the scene for decades of violence following the Second Calling.
As the centuries progressed, Zahatmos became concerned with the infinitesimally cyclical nature of the Quest. The aforementioned prophecy spoke of a mythical weapon; one that did not exist. Knowing that the strands of fate were becoming strained through impossible machinations, the dragon revealed the truth to Nalageos, pleading with his former friend to give up the Quest. Feeling betrayed, the furious god denounced the dragon and refused to abandon his efforts. Small orders of dragonslayers began to crop up throughout the land - seeking to put Zahatmos in his grave for his treachery. Before Zahatmos could end the feud and reconcile with Nalageos, Golgorai-Asthas was slain by mortalkind and Llyrrh ordered the gods to give up their stewardship of humanity. Paying little mind to Llyrrh's words, Nalageos chose to remain on the mortal plane, as focused on the Quest as ever.
Almost immediately, Atvoria fell victim to the Age of Uncertainty. The penalties for twisting and warping the strands of fate are severe; be it mortal or deific hands that pull upon them. Those who meddle with fate where they shouldn't find that fate always snaps back, often with fatal consequences. For every Company whose fate was tugged towards failure, there were tens of corresponding strings being dragged along; those of the land, the creatures, and even Nalageos' himself. Unfortunately, the hero at the end of the Zenith Harpstring had not been Nalageos, and the prophesied battle took place without him. Yolu picked up her spear after the Second Calling to do battle with Shol for the sake of humanity. When the Zenith Harpstring - to which the fates of Atvoria were intertwined - disappeared, the strands Zahatmos had woven along it strained, then suddenly snapped and tore apart.
With no Quest to fulfill, Nalageos eventually left A'therys with the rest of his kind to return to the Cosmic Mesh. He departed from Dendros alone - the first and only time that the bells of the city did not ring. Soon after, strange occurrences became routine. From seemingly impossible beginnings, warlords rose to raid and pillage within Atvoria, turning the frontier into a battleground. Peasants acquired strange urges to rise as kings; close family could not help but betray them to seize power. Rumors of spirits breaking windows and kidnapping children in the dark of night spread like wildfire. A chaotic pattern of droughts and floods lead to an invasion of Kilnholdt spearheaded by Gorad Maysteer early in the seventh Cycle to secure valuable resources. Faced with a vicious Kilden counter-attack, the twelve guilds each sent their leaders to Dendros, creating a new central government known as the Tridecon Council. Having narrowly negotiated a non-aggression treaty with the Kild, Atvoria found itself with organized human leadership for the first time. Like Nalageos, the newly crowned Premiers were furious with Zahatmos and mobilized the Vori militias to Dendros with every intention of slaying the dragon. Unable to do so, they sealed the doors to Nalageos’ castle and resolved to heal their nation themselves. The Council trained a national army, built roads and aqueducts, guarded villages at night, and transformed Atvoria into a functioning state.
Despite their newfound unity, the Tridecon Council could not withstand the greed of the High Alchemists of Eztalpaltl. Having heard of the existence of argentate under the soils of Atvoria, Eztalpaltl took a keen imperialistic interest in the younger, less established nation. A series of political incidents lead to hostile relations; a trade war gave way to border skirmishes, with troops being mobilized in case of emergency. Three months into the conflict, a renegade militia notorious for mercenary work among the Dalkun attacked an Atvoren mining caravan transporting argentate and provisions. The Vori, freshly unified and brimming with pride, took this as an act of aggression and swiftly declared war on Eztalpaltl. The justification for this move has been questioned by scholars, as there has never been conclusive proof of Eztalpaltli involvement in the ambush.
A series of natural disasters led to the premature end of the war, with both sides calling for a truce. The fallout from a volcanic ash cloud carried rogue kiinfolk past the western border into the Alchemy Nation. Manifesting as an inspired general named Blaiden Kir, the first Irekiin triggered a brief period of conquest known as the Empire of the Irekiin. Finally defeated by an alliance of Eztalpaltli and Atvoren soliders led by Arnet Gildrogher, a tentative peace ensued between the two nations, each agreeing to utilize their resources to prevent such an occurrence from happening again. Exchange of scholarly knowledge and teachings led to new discoveries and methods to control and bind the kiinfolk. Working together, the Vori adopted several of the methods utilized by Eztalpaltli scholars including a calendar mysteriously provided by the Alchemy Nation’s explorers.
In 7C-328, Zahatmos burst through the roof of Nalageos’ old castle where he had been sealed and flew east to a small bay. Raising from the sea a crystalline castle upon a mass of black stone, Zahatmos built himself a new lair, presumably a self-imposed prison to ruminate in. Seeing an opportunity for fame, a host of adventurers flocked to the spectacular castle, intent on killing the one they deemed responsible for Atvoria’s condition. Waves of determined Vori unsuccessfully attempted to find Zahatmos within the walls of his lair, finding only an infinite menagerie of beasts, natural and otherwise. Prospective parties were forced to set up camp outside, eventually establishing a permanent settlement. By the end of the year, the aptly named city of Glasscastle had sprung up around the walls of the impenetrable fortress. Taverns catered to would-be dragonslayers, butchers provided nourishment, and blacksmiths repaired broken weapons. Sensing a shifting tide, the elite of Dendros transferred their posts to the bustling hub of activity, ostensibly for the purpose of overseeing growth. Eventually, the only remaining politicians in Dendros found themselves forgotten and cast to the side in a decaying city. Soon, the ulterior motive of the Atvoren elite became clear as Glasscastle was decreed as Atvoria’s new capital, stripping Dendros by-the-Sea of the last vestige of its former power.
Since the fall of Eztalpaltl, Atvoria has ushered in a new era with the founding of the Adventurer’s League, in an attempt to promote and aid the exploration and colonization of the vast untouchable reaches of the “Shattered Lands”. The League monitors the travel of registered explorers, tomb robbers, and mercenaries known as adventurers; it enforces a strict set of rules and guidelines to prevent overzealous first-timers from dying (or failing to pay their taxes). Adventurers, in return, are given certain privileges, such as the right to explore the ruined nation of Eztalpaltl, to bring unearthed weapons and magical artifacts into Atvoria, and official recognition within Atvoren records. Contemporary adventurers are often given directions toward lost treasures and unexplored wilderness so long as they comply with the rules set forth by the Tridecon Council, passed down through the Adventurer’s League.
Today, the nation seems fairly stable; small hamlets and trading villages spring up with the natural flow of explorers. Permanently trapped in the twisted strands of fate, Atvoria experiences fantastic events on a daily basis. Stories come to life on a whim, and disappear just as quickly. The Vori remain under the leadership of the Tridecon Council, their faith in their nation's heroes and saints under fire more than ever. A belief in the Quest’s completion is pervasive despite Nalageos’ departure; many Atvoren prayers ask for a conclusion to the never-ending cycle. Others revel in what Zahatmos' machinations have led to, taking advantage of the warped reality in Atvoria for their own benefit. Whether or not the torn destiny of Atvoria can be repaired is a question only time will tell.