We called it the Realm. The Realm was an oasis, a paradise for all who dwelled therein. There were lush woodlands to the north, a vast ocean to the west, ashlands to the south, and protective mountains to the east. It was a place of peace and prosperity. At the center of The Realm was The City. The City was built atop a river outlet that led to the sea and it also connected trade routes that wove through the nearby woods and mountains. This made The City one of the largest trading hubs in the world. The City was the heart and blood of The Realm. The Realm’s safekeeping was governed by the City and the City was built upon a strict democratic model. All people had a voice and a vote in what happened within the Realm.
The City’s government operated using a faction system. Given time, various groups of people with similar interests and skills would naturally come together. Pending approval by other already established groups, a faction would then be formed and a representative assigned to speak for the best interest of said faction. These representatives were called “Masters.” When The City was founded there were but a handful of factions, but in centuries since then that number had increased considerably, bringing both wealth and diversity to The Realm.
Under this system, The Realm was able to grow and expand for hundreds of years. But it could not last forever. The first disruption to the system came in circa 332 C.F. We don’t know which enemy attacked first, the Dranak or the raiders from the west, but we do know that both groups’ goal was the same: domination of The City. After countless generations of peace, The Realm was caught almost completely unprepared.
The infernal Dranak warriors seemed to fall like rain from the mountains in an endless stream of death and destruction. Meanwhile the raiders from the west came by boat. Many fled our home, thinking it was lost. Many fell in battle, fighting for their families. And many forgot hope, believing it was over.
Many doubted. But not all. A group of The Realm’s greatest warriors banded together and began to push back the seemingly undefeatable foe. This war went down in history as the War of Enlightenment. While we came out victorious, we came to remember something that we shant forget again: We are not alone in this world.
When we had pushed back our adversaries, we regrouped and discussed the future of The Realm. We knew that things could never return to the way they had been before. But we also knew that The Realm was destined to be more than a forgotten dream. Four of our greatest warriors stepped forward with ideas on how we could restore our world to even greater glory.
First, Kheima, Master of The Coalition, presented her plan. She argued that what we needed was a group to protect us. We needed a force to fight for us, to police us and above all, be battle-ready for us. Kheima believed that our answer could be found in science and technology. Her plan was to create an elite group of soldiers, augmented with technology, that could defeat any who might dare challenge The Realm.
Hachi, Master of The Order of 1000 Doors, was quick to disagree. He didn’t like the idea of sitting back and waiting for our enemies to strike. He argued that we needed to be aggressive and take out our enemies before they could gather their strength. He wanted to create a network of intelligence and information that could weed out potential threats and cut them off at the source.
Thorgrim, Master of the Dawn Warders, fought for another solution. He felt that he and his fellow sorcerers could protect The City using only magic. Utilizing powerful enchantments and wards, Thorgrim believed that he could encase and conceal us against danger or harm, and thus we would need no army.
Rayule, Master of Netherwalkers, presented yet another plan. Rayule and his followers knew many secrets which they believed could not only revive our fallen brethren, but provide The City with an unquestioning, dutiful and endless army of workers or fodder. Their plan was reanimation.
We called for a vote among the few factions that still remained. Though there was some variance in the votes, the overwhelming majority agreed with Kheima, Master of the Coalition, and the plan to create a policing and elite force of warriors to protect The City began in full force.
At first, the system worked well and The Enlightened Realm began to flourish as it always had. While Khemia and her Coalition wielded immense power, they did so with justice. On more than one occasion, the Coalition was able to protect The City from nearby threats and other dangers. But power is known for its ability to corrupt.
The wealthy aristocrats and self-proclaimed royals of the city began to “aid” The Coalition wherever possible. What started out as gifts and trinkets soon became endorsements and military contracts. The Coalition began policing the weaker factions and privileging those with wealth or social power.
This was just the opportunity Hachi and the Order of 1000 Doors was looking for. Long jaded after his faction had been voted out of leading The City, Hachi had been waiting for an opportunity to overthrow his former friend, Kheima. When The Coalition began exhibiting signs of oppression and favoritism, Hachi knew it was his moment to strike. Coordinating with other factions who felt the burden of Coalition rule, Hachi set into motion an internal struggle for the right to govern The City.
It’s a pity, however, that Hachi couldn’t have chosen better allies. One of the factions he entrusted with his grand plan saw this not as an opportunity to overthrow The Coalition’s oppression, but rather to gain favor within it. They alerted The Coalition to the Order of 1000 Door’s plan and sabotaged Hachi’s attempt to take The City. The battle was short and the lives lost were few, but the consequences of betrayal were harsh. Hachi and all those who had dared to follow him were exiled from The City. Kheima had a taste of power and she wasn’t about to give it up.
Rayule was the next to come under Kheima’s gaze. No longer content to just protect The City, Kheima became paranoid that she could lose control of The Realm. She knew she needed to eliminate all who might dare oppose her. Kheima knew that since the War of Enlightenment, Rayule had been experimenting with ways of returning the dead to the world of the living. But where had he been getting corpses? Kheima launched a campaign of public outcry against the Netherwalkers, defaming Rayule and his sorcery as dark and evil. What started as a campaign against the Netherwalkers specifically, however, quickly became a condemning crusade against all magic users.
General distrust of all purveyors of wizardry, magic and sorcery became commonplace as more and more people of The City, especially the wealthy and powerful, decried anything outside the realms of scientific explanation. Kheima demanded Rayule’s head as punishment for his factions crimes against humanity. Rayule attempted to flee, but Kheima made certain that he “answered,” for his crimes.
Upon seeing this blatant abuse of power, Thorgrim and the other sorcerers of the Dawn Warders knew they needed to leave The City, else they become Kheima’s next target. Swiftly, they moved to the nearby Pthalguth Woods in the hopes of conjuring up a way to end the tyranny inside the city walls. When Kheima caught wind of the sorcerer’s treachery, however, she burned the forest to the ground.
Kheima wanted absolute control of The City. Thereby she could protect The Realm’s inhabitants with an iron fist. All would be made to follow her law, but all would be safe. This was her vision, this was her dream. Kheima renamed The City “Alec-Kheima.” It was to be a place of science and innovation, a place where all people could feel safe and protected.
Only Kheima forgot one thing: Masters aren’t so easily defeated.
The Order of 1000 Doors was not content to be banished. They travelled to the nearby mountains and carved a new home directly into the mountains face. Within the confines of the arid rocks, Hachi began to hone his clans abilities and harness the power of ancient techniques that had previously only been known to few. Hachi would train a new army within his mountain sanctuary before launching a new attack upon The City and any who dared to oppose him. The Realm was his to be ruled.
Rayule himself was no stranger to the afterlife. Even in death, he held power that many can hardly imagine. With the help of his followers, Rayule was able to return to the land of living, and construct an unholy tower in the Ashlands to the south. With that being said, Rayule did not return from the Nether unscathed. He had been changed. Rayule no longer cared about the petty squabbles of the men who had killed him. The City was nothing compared to what he had seen. Instead, Rayule desired to blur the lines between life and death. Destroying The City and its inhabitants would, however, likely be the easiest means of arriving at his goal. Rayule reformed his trusted followers into a new faction: The Necromancer’s Pact.
Finally, the sorcerers that left with Thorgrim were anything but defeated. A simple fire could not defeat the powerful magic they had at their disposal. In fact, a simple fire could not even defeat the Pthalguth forest in which the sorcerers had fled for refuge. Rather, with each tree that burned under Kheima’s fire, a vengeful and powerful ancient spirit was released. The spirits began congregating on the nearest source of power, the sorcerers under Thorgrim’s command. They were becoming one with nature. Soon, with new power and purpose, the Awakened Venery began to resurrect the Pthalguth forest and move toward the city walls. They would return The Enlightened Realm to it’s natural and unspoiled state, starting with the elimination of The City.
And thus began the Rise of the Exiled.
When the Council of Four was abruptly absolved, Kheima, Master of Knowledge and Betrayal, took control of The City. Renaming the city Alec-Kheima, she wasted no time in creating The Coalition. The Coalition was a group of her most loyal followers, and she used them to secure her rule within the city-state. The coalition was comprised of scientists, warriors and inventors throughout the kingdom. Under Kheima’s tutelage, The Coalition became one of the most tactically wise and deadly forces within the entire Realm.