World Lore: The Lost Civilization of Chaldea
Throughout Agon lie the scattered ruins of old Chaldea . At its peak, this empire's reach encompassed everything from Sanguine in the east to the westernmost wastes of the Mahirim Tribelands. All that remains today are moss-grown monuments and the ruins of once-mighty cities.
The Chaldean civilization originated in present-day Mercia , along the fertile banks of the river Eanna. The humans of this area developed agriculture, and fed Agon's first cities with food from irrigated fields. They also invented the science of mathematics, the first calendar, and the art of writing.
Towards a golden age
The foremost city of the Chaldeans was Ashur, which lay near the present-day location of Sanguine. It was founded by the legendary Ashur-Sin I, who conquered the numerous city-states of the Eannic delta, and was crowned the first king of all Chaldeans.
The Chaldean civilization came into being during a period of relative regional peace. However, their wealth soon proved tempting to neighboring human tribes, who took to raiding and plundering outlying villages and towns. In response to this, the Chaldeans launched a series of successful military campaigns against the belligerent nomads who roamed the peripheries of their land.
When faced with the problem of becalming the conquered barbarians, emperor Ashur-Awan II formulated policies which would shape the future of Chaldea . He decreed that cities be built in barbarian lands, and that the conquered tribes be invited to live in them. Furthermore, the citizens of these new cities would be taught how to farm and make tools. Upon swearing allegiance to Ashur, they would be given full rights as citizens of the empire.
The Benevolent Empire
The Chaldeans were not a warlike people, and they rarely launched wars of conquest. However, they had a tradition of responding decisively to outside aggression, and of permanently pacifying defeated enemies by integrating them into their culture.
As the wealth and fame of Chaldea grew, many tribes and settlements joined the empire voluntarily, in order to partake of its wealth and technology. Ashur became the centre of a vast empire, and the Chaldeans became the traders, thinkers and administrators of the greatest empire Agon has seen.
In addition to all human territories, the empire's borders eventually encompassed the homelands of the orks and the mahirim. Before their subjugation, these races launched countless raids into Chaldea , proving themselves to be dangerous neighbors, and provoking the wrath of the empire.
The alfar were also warlike and fond of staging bloody raids, and eventually Ashur decided to move against the children of the rebel god. Though victorious on the plains of Moldar, not even the emperor's armies could defeat the alfar in the subterranean fastnesses of Nagast. In the end, the Chaldeans had to settle for securing and fortifying the surface parts of the alfar homeland, while Melek's armies retreated underground.
The Chaldeans established friendly relations with the mirdain, the ithwen and the dwarves, and traded extensively with these races.
The Agon Timeline
- 2 000 000 years
The goddess arrives on Agon. Casting word-stones upon the surface, she awakes fires within the icebound planet. Oceans and dry land to emerge for the first time in millions of years.
- 1 500 000
The goddess plants the word-stones of life in the oceans of Agon. In the following centuries, life spreads like wildfire, taking innumerable strange and varied forms.
- 400 000
The goddess plants the spark of intelligence in the most suitable of Agon's hominids. With astounding, god-driven speed, they evolve into the intelligent races that dominate Agon today.
- 150 000
A group of mortals assemble the sixteen word-stones cast forth by the goddess. Twisting the power of creation to their own ends, they use them to gain access to the Halls of the Goddess. Desiring the goddess's divine power, they kill her, and cast her into the void.
- 140 000
Jealousy and greed tear the alliance of the Usurper Gods apart, and war breaks out among them. Millennia pass as they struggle for overlordship, until life has been pushed to the brink of extinction, and many Usurper Gods lie slain.
- 120 000
While the Usurper Gods are busy fighting each other, a multitude of gods arise from among Agon's mortals, some of them seizing much power. Realizing their perilous position, the surviving Usurper Gods make a truce in order to defend the divinity they have left. In the course of the Usurper Wars, many word-stones have been scattered and lost.
- 32 000, Mirendil
The legendary elven heroes Myrthai and Lorathai perish on a quest to find the home dimension of the demons who wreak occasional havoc on Agon. It is claimed that they successfully located the dimension, but were slain by some terrible gate guardian.
Slowly abandoning the worship of three older Usurper Gods, who had a tendency to bicker and fight among themselves, the mirdain turn to Myrthai and Lorathai, who reawake as gods. In time, the hero-couple becomes completely dominant, and the older gods are forgotten by all but a few.
- 20 000, Dvergheim
The god Ymir arrives among the dwarves of Dvergheim. He teaches them many things, such as the secrets of magesmithing and runecasting, and he shows them how to find and extract metals of power. Ymir hints at further secrets, and encourages the dwarves to explore the depths and seek new inventions.
Ymir promises to return to Dvergheim when all the great secrets of stone and metal have been unveiled, and to give the dwarves one final task. When this task is completed, he promises to lead the dwarves into a golden age.
- 14 000, Mirendil
A son is born to the mirdain gods Myrthai and Lorathai. They name him Melechai and he is the apple of their eye. The mirdain adore and venerate the newborn god, seeing his great beauty and the potential for good within him.
- 10 000, Dvergheim
The dwarven capital of Ymir's Tear is founded. A vast rock formation is hollowed out in order to house the city, and the cavern surrounding it is decorated with a magnificent piece of art: the heavenly constellations recreated in lapis lazuli, kvitjarn and raudstaal.
- 9 800, Mirendil
Melechai steals an immensely powerful artifact called the Silver Circlet from his sleeping mother's brow, and thus begins his rebellion. He tricks Myrthai and Lorathai into believing that a Celestial Dragon stole the Circlet, and descends to Mirendil in order to start the second phase of his plan. Shedding his given name, he takes a new one, Melek.
Under the cover of a series of wildfires, Melek and his henchmen kidnap entire clans of temporarily displaced mirdain. They lead their victims deep underground, where no mirdain treads, and where the power of the mirdain gods is weak. He encloses them within a dank, spacious cavern, and goes to work on them.
Using the Circlet's awesome powers of influence, Melek pounds and twists the minds of the captive mirdain, turning them into a vicious race of killers who worship him unquestioningly. He then launches an intense, god-driven breeding program, physically shaping them into a race suited to his plans, and to life in their new subterranean homeland.
- 8 200, Nagast
His work complete, Melek leads his race of followers now called the Alfar out from the Cave of Birth . They found the capital of Shoal in the cavern of Dun Mardukar, and Melek takes up residence in the Towers of Silence, a stalactite-fortress in the ceiling above the new city .
Realizing the awful extent of their son's treachery, Myrthai and Lorathai incite a mirdain invasion of Nagast. Pressing its way to the Dun Mardukar, the mirdain army is defeated in a cataclysmic battle outside the gates of Shoal.
- 8 000, Chaldea
Modern agriculture is perfected by the Chaldeans, a people living in the Eannic delta of present-day Mercia . Soon, these early farmers build the first human cities on Agon.
- 7 200, Mirendil
On an island within the ever-calm Lake of Dreams , the mirdain capital of Charybdis is founded. It is perfectly placed in the heart of the Mirendil forest, and connected to the outside world by the Sirith River , which is navigable all the way from the northern border to the ocean.
- 6 500, Chaldea
Ashur-Sin unites all the city-states of the Eannic delta and is crowned the first king of all Chaldea . Ashur-Sin then founds the city of Ashur , which quickly grows into Agon's first true metropolis. Throughout the empire's long history, Ashur remains its capital.
- 6 100, Chaldea - Morak
Provoked by countless raids, the Chaldeans invade the orkish land of Morak . After nearly ten years of campaigning, they subjugate the last of the major tribes.
- 6 050, Chaldea Yssam - Dvergheim
Graceful ships from Yssam arrive in Ashur. Peaceful relations are established between the Ithwen and the Chaldeans, and a rich vein of trade is opened. At approximately the same time, the Chaldeans begin trading extensively with the dwarves of Dvergheim and the mirdain of Mirendil.
- 5 800, Chaldea - Nagast
After establishing outposts on the Nagast surface, the Chaldeans encounter the aggressive alfar, who dwell in a system of caverns underneath the newly colonized land. Defeating the alfar at Moldar, the Chaldeans then establish fortresses near major entrances to the caverns. However, attempts at following and vanquishing - the alfar armies underground fail.
- 5 600, Rubaiyat
The Chaldeans establish trading colonies on the spice-rich but relatively backward continent of Rubaiyat. They also establish a city called Kasdim on the continent of Cairn, in order to trade with the peace-loving natives of that barren land.
- 5 400, Niflheim
The primitive northmen of Niflheim begin trading with the Chaldeans, exchanging fur and wood for weapons and luxury goods.
- 5 200, Chaldea
After suffering decades of raiding, the Chaldeans launch a campaign against the mahirim. They defeat the largest clans one by one, and establish a large city near the Moontower.
This marks the beginning of the so-called Chaldean Peace. For nearly a thousand years, the armies of the Benevolent Empire ensure peace throughout Agon. Eventually, even the alfar raids decrease in ferocity and frequency. In time, the Chaldeans grow complacent, and their culture no longer progresses at its old pace.
- 4 810, Chaldea - Lyonesse
Chaldean explorers discover the island of Lyonesse , befriending its primitive human inhabitants. In the following years, the Chaldeans work among the people of Lyonesse, bringing them such gifts as the arts of writing and mathematics.
- 4 220, Chaldea - Nagast
The worst flood in history ravages the Eannic delta, destroying many cities of the Chaldean heartland. At the same time, a large alfar army strikes against the outposts of the Nagast plains, breaking through all defenses. The alfar then march on the chaldean heartlands, laying waste to those cities which the flood had spared. A hastily assembled defensive army is swiftly crushed.
Aided by dwarves, mirdain and ithwen, a provincial army eventually drives the alfar back to Nagast. But no heir of the last Chaldean king has survived, and the days of the empire are at an end.
- 4 220, Chaldea - Cairn
As Ashur falls, a group of leading citizens escape through teleport gates to the remote city of Kasdim , which lies on the wasteland continent of Cairn. They destroy the gates upon arrival, and establish themselves as the last custodians of Chaldean knowledge and culture.
- 3 159. Mirendil
Eight mirdain archmages experiment with an exceptionally powerful, artifact-fuelled spell, which is supposed to reveal the location of the lost word-stones. As the spell is cast , however, a magical chain reaction is sparked, and the tower of each mage is engulfed by a field of wildly morphing magic. To this day, the areas surrounding the eight towers are haunted by wild and often destructive magical effects.
- 2 050, Cairn
Due to climate changes, the lakes near Kasdim, the last Chaldean city, dry out. As their city-state dies, the citizens hide the books, items and artifacts they were guarding in a deep, magically sealed dungeon.
- 1120, Mirendil
Spurred by escalating trouble with aggressive non-elven loggers, an isolationist movement rises among the mirdain. In 1110, isolationist tribes launch a full-scale rebellion, seeking to replace the king with one sympathetic to their views. The uprising fails, but the schism is final: many extremists distance themselves from mainstream mirdain society, moving to new settlements in the Denwode forest and in sparsely populated parts of the Mirendil. Today, these elves have grown extremely xenophobic and culturally conservative, and they are known as the Ciel Fey. Many Ciel Fey regard the mirdain as outright enemies.
- 590, Rubayiat
Having grown rich and powerful through trade with the main continent, the city-state of Akkad grows predominant on the desert continent of Rubaiyat.
Spurred by ancient writings, explorers from the island state of Lyonesse set out in search of an advanced race, which is said to inhabit a large western land. Making landfall in Mercia , they find that the advanced Chaldean civilization has been replaced by the scattered tribes of their descendants, the Imric people. Disappointed, the islanders return home.
- 498, Dvergheim
The northern svartdverg tribe fall under the influence of a sinister god called Heimar. War breaks out between the svartdvergir and their allies and Dvergheim's majority of Ymir loyalists. Despite some early successes, the followers of Heimar are ultimately defeated. Instead of renouncing their faith, most svartdvergir choose exile, fleeing to the peripheries of the dwarven realm, or to the sparsely populated northern regions of Morak.
- 480, Rubaiyat
Rubaiyat and the nearby island of Arash are united under the rule of Akkad . A period of prosperity follows on the desert continent, with trade connecting its old cities, and new cities emerging along caravanserais and near oases.
The akkadians found the mainland city of Socora , using it as a base for swiftly conquering the nearby regions of Khali and Ochre. They then march on into the human lands inhabited by the horse-tribes of the Imric people. Following a series of ruthlessly efficient military campaigns, they establish themselves as the masters of present-day of Mercia .
- 450, Rubaiyat Main continent
Realizing that the akkadians pose a threat to them all, the mirdain, lithwen and dwarves form an unlikely alliance with the northmen of Niflheim and several mahirim tribes. The akkadian fleet is crushed by an alliance fleet, and Akkad and Socora are placed under blockade.
Though they fight bravely, the akkadian campaign army is eventually slaughtered by the numerically superior alliance forces. Following this defeat, akkadian culture falls into a long decline, from which it is still to emerge.
- 413, Niflheim
The Ice Anvil clan unites the continent of Niflheim under their rule. Their heroic leader, Skjalg Torsson, is crowned the first king of all northmen.
- 400, The Tribelands
The shaman-warrior Amurran conquers the central Tribelands and founds the city of Red Moon . Initially, this first permanent settlement in the Tribelands is little more than a fortress surrounding the Moontower, which is sacred to the mahirim. In the following decades, however, Red Moon grows into a city.
Soon after, Amurran founds the Order of the Crescent. He charges its knights with the task of protecting the Moontower against all non-mahirim intruders.
- 381, Niflheim
Skjalg Torsson dies of a sudden illness, leaving his four lieutenants in the Ice Anvil clan to fight for the Niflheim throne. The northman kingdom succumbs to a long civil war, and to this day Skjalg Torsson remains the only man to have ruled a united northman realm.
- 300, Morak
A massive eruption of the Flaming Skull volcano is perceived as a divine signal by the orks of Morak's Gutlands region. Seeing themselves as the chosen of Azhi Dahaka, a previously obscure god of fire, they launch a particularly determined campaign of conquest, eventually uniting all the tribes of Morak under their rule.
Azhi Dahaka immediately begins influencing the orks through his priests, manipulating them into becoming more organized and civilized.
- 290, Cairn
Outside the currents of history and trade, the native aernar of Cairn have grown to be a deeply religious people. They are accomplished astronomers, who regard the night sky as an open book, from which they read the nature of their god and his works.
In 290, however, a horde of minotaurs invades Cairn, sweeping the feeble armies of the aernar before them. Slaughtering and devouring civilians, the minotaurs, who originated in the mainland wastes of Ochre, settle as conquerors in the villages of the aernar. Some speculate that pockets of aernar refugees still survive in Cairn's subterranean lands and in peripheral wildernesses.
- 280, Morak
The Gutlands orks establish a new, stone-built capital in the shadow of the Flaming Skull volcano.
- 250, Morak
Azhi Dahaka's eternal enemy, Draupnir, begins his counter-work in the swamps of Morak. He manifests among a race of lizardmen called the sadayel, and begins teaching them magic and the ways of civilization.
- 213, Lyonesse
The nobles of Lyonesse rebel against the rule of the island-state's clerics, who insist on strict adherence to the tenets of the Morganic faith. Tapping into a thirst for personal freedom, the rebels swiftly gain support among broad layers of the populace.
After a series of bitter defeats, the last of the traditionalist forces are pressed into the southwestern corner of the island. At this critical moment, the goddess Morgaine visits the leader of the remaining loyalists, Duke John of Malregard, commanding him to lead his followers to new lands, where they are to build a new kingdom bathed in her light. Hastily constructing a fleet of ships, the Morganic loyalists set sail for the main continent. Glad to be rid of the fierce duke, the victorious rebels do not follow.
Duke John and his war-hardened knights land on Imric soil, on the eastern coast of Agon 's main continent. Swiftly defeating the local heirs to once-proud Chaldea , they establish the city of Sanguine .
After a series of impressive victories against the Imric, John of Malregard crowns himself the first king of Mercia - a new kingdom under Morgaine.
The remaining tribes of free Imric finally unite under a High King, called Aur the Bold. Aur inflicts several bloody defeats on overstretched Mercian forces, before being decisively defeated at the Battle of Dalriada. With the last High King dead, the final vestiges of Imric resistance fade, and the kingdom of Mercia now controls the old Chaldean heartland.
- 200, Morak
In their first major campaign under the banner of the fire-dragon, the orks crush and enslave the svartdvergir tribes of northern Morak. For an orkish endeavor, the campaign is remarkably well-planned, and unlike all previous orkish invasions, it has direction and a defined goal.
- 190, Lyonesse
The island-state of Lyonesse is pulverized by a cataclysmic volcanic eruption, which occurs with little or no advance warning. Few escape the destruction as one of Agon's greatest nations is wiped from the face of the planet.
- 180, Mercia
While interrogating a number of cultists, the White Order learns that Malaut, the Demon Prince of greed, has followed the Mercians to their new homeland, establishing a stronghold in a mysterious place called the Shadelands. The cultists claim that Malaut's feared lieutenants, the Below, have grown numerous on the main continent.
- 150, The Tribelands
Inspired by civilizing impulses from the priesthood at Red Moon, the first mahirim clans build permanent all-year settlements. Instead of following their seasonal migrations, these mahirim begin to keep prey in spacious enclosures.
- 120, Morak
In a series of campaigns lasting more than five years, the orkish armies utterly crush the largest goblin tribes of Morak. Countless goblins are enslaved as a result, and the remaining semi-free tribes are forced to pay regular tributes of fresh slaves to Flaming Skull.
Fuelled by the ambitious priesthood and a near-inexhaustible pool of expendable slaves, the orks of Morak embark on an ambitious program of construction. The towering city walls, royal castle and ziggurat at Flaming Skull are built, and in the following decades, similar buildings appear in large settlements throughout Morak.
- 100, The Tribelands
Reacting against the civilizing work of the priesthood at Red Moon, a growing number of mahirim clans turn away from the worship of Leen and Neith, the divinities that represent the moons of Agon. Instead, they turn to the worship of an ancient, wild and cruel god called the Moon-Beast, and renounce all the trappings of civilization.
- 90, Mercia
A long-simmering conflict between state and church escalates into full-blown civil war. Both sides enjoy periods of success, but the end result is a stalemate, with Mercia split in two parts, one controlled by the church leadership at Dalriada, the other by the king at Sanguine.
- 85, Morak - Mercia
Led by Yrrak the Vile, a king of legendary strength and initiative, the orks of Morak invade Mercia . Laying waste to the northern regions of the human kingdom, they plunder and burn their way south towards Dalriada.
Realizing the grave threat to their nation's future, the Mercian factions the Church and the Crown finally manage to negotiate a truce. United at last, the Lightbringer and the King lead their troops toward the fire-snake banners of the orkish army. After a series of fierce battles, the orkish campaign army is decisively defeated at the Battle of the Still Waters.
- 78, Yssam
Appearing on the jungle continent of Yssam without warning, a Celestial Dragon called Far-Loradain lays waste to the cities of the Ithwen elves. Within days, and before help from Dvergheim and Mercia can arrive, the ancient cities of the Ithwen have been torn to the ground. Desperate survivors flee towards the main continent on cramped ships.
As the Ithwen flee, Far-Loradain returns to his slumber, in new lair at the centre of the jungle continent. He has slumbered there ever since, and is the only Celestial Dragon known to reside on Agon. To this day, nobody knows why he came, or why he laid waste to the Ithwen nation.
- 52, Mirendil
The brave and beautiful Ilynna, mirdain crown princess, is killed during a bold some say foolhardy attempt to steal the Silver Circlet from Melek. Her intention is to return the Circlet to Myrthai, the elven god to whom it originally belonged. Today, Ilynna is a treasured culture hero of the mirdain, remembered in countless songs and stories.
- 45, Nagast
A terrible plague spreads through the lands of Agon, killing thousands of people. Unstoppable by known medicine or magic, the disease eradicates villages and decimates cities from Niflheim in the north to Akkad in the south. No cure is ever found, but in the course of the next eight years, the disease slowly fades away. Nagast is untouched by the disease, and mirdain officials claim that the disease was created by the Unseen Radiance, a group of Deathless Mages who serve Melek.
- 32, Yssam
Presumably at the behest of Azhi Dahaka, an Erodach called Iyrtan the Destroyer begins establishing a kingdom of Fire Giants in the eastern regions of Yssam.
- 14, Morak
Led by a charismatic svartdvergir called Imrak, the slaves of Flaming Skull rise in revolt. The rebellion swiftly spreads through Morak's central regions, seriously threatening the orkish kingdom. Eventually, the elite Iron Orks subdue the slave-rebels within the capital and capture Imrak, who is swiftly executed. Parading Imrak's skull through the provinces, the Iron Orks eventually break the remaining vestiges of resistance.
- 10, Dvergheim
Barin inherits the throne of Dvergheim. The young king immediately instigates a program of economic expansion, while simultaneously giving engineers and magesmiths semi-unlimited resources for research and development.
- 8, The Tribelands
Members of the Cult of the Moon-Beast assassinate a high-ranking leader of the mahirim priesthood in his Red Moon home. It becomes obvious that mahirim society is headed towards a final, potentially cataclysmic confrontation between traditionalists and reformers.
- 6, Niflheim
The Ice Demon Illgarm arrives on Niflheim, and immediately begins forcing the monsters of the interior to join the growing ranks of his army. He then convinces the most powerful Northman leaders to join his cause, and begins coordinating raids against southern lands.
- 4, The Moldar plains
In a single night, a black tower rises from a wall of rock in the heart of the plains, raised by a powerful Deathless Mage called the Watcher. Shortly thereafter, he invokes powerful magic, covering the surrounding lands in thick, yellowy shadow and slowly suffocating all natural life. Fierce shadow creatures, also called forth by the Watcher, begin to stalk the plains, killing all who haven't yet fled. Within months, the Moldar plains devoid of life become known as the Watcher Wastes.
In the time that has passed since, the Watcher has built a network of fortresses under the Wastes, while summoning steadily more powerful shadow creatures to stalk the surface. Many have tried to put an end to this growing threat, but all have failed. Now, many fear that entire armies of shadow creatures will soon be unleashed upon Agon, conquering all in the name of the Watcher.