(This is a deep lore entry designed to add to the narrative of the setting)
The Epilogue of Arawyn, Winter of 1263
This was the Wellspring of the Earths’ Blood, a massive underground cavern consisting of an unspeakable beauty. At one far end of the hall sat a throne of roots so large, the tree that they belonged to seemed hard to even fathom. In the air, tiny pinpoints of blue and pale light drifted about, glimmering and illuminating the room. Arawyn had grown very fond of mortals and their look and so she donned their form more often than not. Her chosen appearance was a beautiful maiden of average height, smooth skin, earthen eyes and long auburn hair. Her dress was flowing and beautiful silk, tailored after the fashion of the high elves.
“We have a guest? How odd… I don’t recall that we have ever had a guest before…” Arawyn gave such a puzzled look to her man servant who knelt before her. He was small in stature and dressed in clothes that looked too large for his frame and also a tad too worn. He had entered the hall to report the news of this guest to her, but she struggled to even remember the servants name. She began to wonder if she always had a servant, or if he was somehow new. What purpose could he possibly serve for her, but nonetheless here he was. Her confusion was muddied by an unshakable feeling that this was normal. She relented to the confusion in her thoughts, “Well then, let them in please.”
The odd little man lumbered over to the chamber door at the far side of the hall and opened it slowly. There was nothing, no sound, no rush of air, just an awkward pause. No one entered and no one was there. Some time passed but she was unsure how much of it exactly, and then finally, slow deliberate footfalls could be heard approaching the door from the other side. Moments later a figure walked through the doors and into the vast beautiful halls. The guest was tall, and while she held very good posture and had taken very confident strides inward, her dress was torn ragged with age covered in dust. She looked old yet distinguished, battle-worn yet weary. In a booming but hallow voice she said one word to Arawyn that echoed through the chamber, “Welcome.”
'What an odd greeting' thought Arawyn as she rose from her throne. She walked steadily towards her guest, the long tail of her beautiful silk gown flowing behind her. “I am Arawyn, mother of the earth. What brings you to the wellspring of the earth’s blood?”
The guest flashed a look of confused annoyance, but the expression quickly faded and replaced with a tired calm. “I am Aradeyl and you are quite the sight to behold. I was much like you once, beautiful and young, vibrant and full of life. Tell me child, where did you come from? A beauty of your kind has not been seen for ages and so you are most welcome in my hall.”
Arawyn felt light headed. Something was terribly wrong but she could not remember what. She gazed past her guest and saw her throne behind her, had the two rotated as they talked? She quickly whipped her head around and saw her own throne was still behind her, but it was different somehow, the roots were dry and brittle. She felt her legs losing strength and she was going to collapse. She heard her guest rushing towards her to catch her. “No, we shouldn’t touch” Arawyn said, but she was falling and she felt the old yet strong arms catch her mid fall.
“But we already have” Aradeyl said to her. Aradeyl looked horrified as if she just realized what had happened here. “I would have wished to wither away in silence and peace. You have to believe that this was not my doing.” She thoughtfully brushed Arawyns hair out of her face, and helped her back to her feet. “I am so sorry that it has to be this way and I fear that neither of us will ever be the same…”
(This is the actual Story Prompt to base this parts individual stories from)
“The Convergent Apocalypse” (Story Prompt for the 10 year span of 1255 - 1265)
The cause was not fully known, but the dead began to rise and attack the living. Panicked cries of necromancy blanketed the landscape, but those who mastered the dark arts half a century ago would claim that they actually found no traces of necromancy in these risen dead. At first it was just a lingering worry, but as the decade unfolded, the situation drew itself into catastrophic conditions.
Although the risen dead plagued all parts of the world, the source appeared to emanate from Travance. Champions of old and new flocked to the ancient land of heroes to steel themselves for the upcoming battle. The call for aid was great and was answered from all corners of the world. The severity of the situation was understood and the world responded in kind, however the new champions where not so impressive and the heroes of old where but mere shadows of their former selves.
In 1265, the armies of the world gathered near the Dragon’s Claw Inn, just as the legends of old described the epic tales from the past. The most elite warriors from many nations where present, some of them led directly by the heroes of old Travance. Allies where mustered far and wide for this fight. From the meadow outside the Inn, they marched to the tower field where a fiery pillar had taunted them in the distance. Upon reaching the pillar, Xualla himself appeared on the battlefield. A demon large and wreathing in flame. He was not accompanied by any other creatures at first, but few on the battlefield where prepared for the sight that they saw, a power long forgotten and no longer wielded in this world; used against them in full strength. Some of the newer champions fled the battlefield immediately, while others where paralyzed in terror, unable to even lift their blades. Only the heroes of old could muster the courage to face the demon, but with all of them combined it was simply not enough, no; it was not even close…
Xualla was careful not to incinerate his enemies, and instead he cut down swaths at a time with a swing of his spear. The horror of this battle was almost indescribable. The Heroes of old Travance one by one, died deaths that would be worthy of legend. Many died noble deaths but with every hero that fell, their corpse would rise soon after and fight for the demon. The momentum of this dynamic was unstoppable and it became quickly clear that there was no hope of stopping the demons rampage. The longer the battle went on, the larger the demons army of the dead grew. It was said that the battle lasted long into the night and took place over every inch of the proper before the last hero fell, and then rose to serve…
The heroes of old who never made it to the battlefield in Travance died soon after the world plummeted into chaos. All manor of hardships blanketed the landscape, and the risen dead were only the worst of it. When a corpse would rise, there was nothing left of its former owner. The bodies seemed as husks animated by some foreign force and it was hard to tell if they held a purpose beyond the primal violence they displayed.
In the coming days the world itself spiraled into doom. Every person that died anywhere and anyway would eventually rise and seek to kill the living. Those who escaped death where always on the run and if someone among them died, they would have to burn the body quickly to prevent it from rising.
The world changed overnight. The risen dead, the rat swarms, the very stars and moons in the sky changed. The air was thick and caused mysterious pressure on the mind. For decades the landscape would deteriorate and humanity would become smaller and more distant from one another. Any safe place, was not safe for long as tribes of survivors were always on the move. There were no longer heroes in this world, only people trying desperately not to be killed. Whatever this world was now, it was not safe. It was a world of survival and a world of horror; it was the apocalypse.