Poetry Patterns

Poetry has acted as a window into deeper understanding of language for me. I have dyslexia, which radically changes the way I interpret information, specifically lingual information (written and spoken). But from a young age, poetry and the workings of poetics was a way I could read easily. The patterned setup of Iambic Pentameter, end rhymes, and metaphor somehow fit into my neuro-atypical psyche with greater ease than prose or spoken conversation ever did. Most of my personal journal entries are written in poetic stylings. Even many of my prose in novels and articles frequently employ poetic design elements. Poetry allows for greater passage of information in a contained piece of writing. And by employing these design elements not only in poems, but in all forms of storytelling, I believe a writer can transmit even greater impact to their readers.

I recently participated in a writing prompt based on the Missoula Monster Project, where artists take a monster created by a school age child and reinterpret it into another medium. As I explored the myriad monsters, I came across Monster #35 by Henrik. It was a ragged snake, dripping, with jagged stakes across the tail where a rattle might have been if it were a rattlesnake. I read the description given by young Henrik.

“My monster likes to eat sharks, fish, and chickens,” He wrote. “My monster used to be a rattlesnake. My monster gets slimey in the ocean.”

Figure 1. “Monster #35.” Missoula Monster Project, https://givergy.us/missoulamonsterproject/?controller=lots&action=showLot&id=69

The fact that the monster had once been normal creature like a rattlesnake captivated me. There was a transformation that occurred. Something happened that changed the rattlesnake to a monster. And that got me thinking, why would it stop there? If the creature had changed once before, was it not possible for it to change into something else, something greater? Like the fish nestled just behind the monster’s teeth in the drawing, I was hooked by the grimace of the beast. I had to know more. I had to create more. In my first few attempts at writing a poem about Monster #35, I had trouble deciding on a style. I didn’t want to do it in freeform. I wanted to fit it into a pattern that would reflect what I saw in the picture. It is a serpent. It changed form into something more than it was. That reminded me of something mythological: the Ouroboros.

The Ouroboros derives from Egyptian mythology. It is a snake that eats its own tail, and is generally seen as a symbol for eternity. Sometimes people will associate it with Jormungandr the World Eater, a creature from Norse mythology which was believed to be a harbinger of the end times. In both instances, the depictions of the serpent are of it eating its own tail, either in a circle or an infinity symbol.

Figure 2. “Ouroboros, The Infinity Symbol.” Mythologian.net. https://mythologian.net/ouroboros-symbol-of-infinity/

Infinity. The figure eight. That was it. I found my poetry pattern; I would write a sonnet in Iambic Tetrameter, a poetry form which employs fourteen stanzas, eight syllables per line within each stanza. I pulled together the imagery I found in Henrik’s monster, and created a first draft. It was okay. I titled it Changeling, since the monster had altered forms throughout the piece, and saved the document. But as I looked it over, I saw another place I could pull in a poetry pattern: whitespace. By pushing the lines apart intentionally in places, I could restructure the poem to resemble a figure eight, like so:

My crooked teeth and verdent scale
Revealed me time                    and time again.
A child’s toy                                               upon my tail
Gave warning of                                                           my mortal sin.
Through the reeds                                                           like emerald sheets
I ate, as was                                                                 my right, lost chicks.
But men within                                                       their strong retreats
Abhorred my great,                                              long rattling clicks.
So to the                                     viridescent sea
I roved. And let                             loose my sufferings.
The serpent                             of humanity
Went to greater          monstrous stings.
Upon the waves I grew so pale
And shed my skin forevermore.
And fed instead on shark and whale
And forsook                             the forgotten shore.
All that I was                                            before is gone,
I am all sleek,                                                as a snails gleam.
And eat, and eat,                                                     all that is wrong
Along this                                                          world’s oiled seam.
My size now dwarfs                                    all men’s fair ships
That sail upon my sea.                                  Poor souls.
I shall now stretch                     til the earth rips,
And become the Ouroboros.

Eight syllables per line, all organized into a figure eight. It looked nice, but it was only a first draft. I shared it with my peers, looking for ways to improve on the patterns in the poetry. As it was, there were places where the lines didn’t break evenly along the whitespace. With a little reworking, I could balance the word placement and improve the form. The title was also a sticking point. A changeling is a mythological creature, a fairy that replaces human children to torment their parents. Since the piece already dealt in myths, mixing in language referencing other myths seemed to undermine what I was going for. And the poem as it stood did not cover the concepts of eating, growing, or eternity in the ways an Ouroboros should. I took these pointers to heart and approached the poem once more.

As I considered the symbolism going into a piece like this, I thought more about the serpent. In biblical references, the serpent is synonymous with Satan, also known as the Beast. And the symbol of the Beast is a series of three sixes. That was when I noticed how a number of lines in the poem already had six words in them. It was at that moment that I decided to take on another challenge: to make every line of the poem have six words as well as eight syllables. I worked and reworked the language of the piece, including new references to color, hunger, and immortality. After a grueling twenty hours spent on the poem, I reviewed my work. The title of Changeling no longer fit. So I titled it instead, Serpent.

My crooked teeth and verdant scale
Revealed me time       and time again.
The clatter of                           my famished tail
Gave sign of                                        my gluttonous sin.
Through the reeds                                           like emerald sheets
I ate chickens                                                  and many things.
But men within                                   their strong retreats
Sought to end                                     my great rattling’s.
Escaped I to                            the azure sea
And gave in                            to my anguishes.
The sight eternal          I could see
A future out ‘mongst the fishes.
Upon the waves I became pale
My hunger grew          six times before.
Feeding anew on                     shark and whale
And remember not                              that far shore.
I am eternal                                                     on this dawn
And shimmer like                                a moray’s gleam.
I shall consume                       each mortal wrong
Along this world’s oil soaked seam.
Tail meets esophagus.
I am Ouroboros.

As I closed out the poem with a couplet, I made a decision to alter the number of words from six to three, and the number of syllables to six. To me, it felt like a natural continuation of the mathematical pattern I had employed, with a symbolic “coming to a head,” much like the tail and mouth of the Ouroboros itself. The poem is not only about the serpent. It is the serpent.

Poetry is all about patterns. Knowing which ones to use, and when, allow the poet to craft their work around particular symbols and feelings. To me, the Ouroboros is both the symbol of eternity and consumption. The simple painting of Henrik is in many ways an Ouroboros for me; it gave me a hunger to create, and fostered in my mind the sense that progression from one state to another is an eternal quest. One that Monster #35 was on.

One that I am on.

Poetry Practice

Poetry is an artform which is dear to me. Long ago, I wrote many poems. For reasons I do not yet fully understand, I stopped writing poetry just before I graduated with an Associates degree in 2014. Yet now, as I continue my education seven years later, I have found once again that poetry is a portal to the deepest human expression.

It is my belief that poetry is the earliest form of knowledge transmission employed by the human race. We have anthropological evidence of human beings existing in complex societies as far back as fifty thousand years ago. However, the earliest written languages date back only around seven thousand years ago. How is it, then, that these ancient beings of our species were able to maintain uniformity of culture, language, stories, and histories without written words? They would have needed a system that was easy to remember, one that could be passed on orally for generations. Poetry fits that bill well. All other language art forms, novels, movies, stage theatre, even music, are the direct descendants of poetry.

One of the earliest forms of poetry of which we have record is Sapphic poetry. So named after the Greek poet Sappho, who is regarded as one of the most influential poets of all time (even earning herself the title of “The Poetess” among her people). The pattern employed by Sapphic poetry is that of three lines, broken into eleven syllables, with the fourth and final line composed of five syllables. Also important is the use of the metrical patterns. A Sapphic poem uses both the metrical patterns of trochee and dactyl. Trochee, pronounced troh-kee, means a two syllable piece within the text, referred to as a foot, with the greater vocal stress being placed on the first syllable. Dactyl, pronounced dac-til, means a three syllable foot with the greater vocal stress being placed on the first syllable. An example of a Sapphic poem, therefore, would look like this:

Hold to the spell lest into hell you find gods
Forgotten by hinter sky of lowly fears.
There are forever in us powers ancient
That can save all souls.

Where lies on men of earth an keen wet knowledge
Mired, hardened, eternal worth. In College
Hearts break upon the waking day. When we fail
Forever we cry.

That fearsome creature feasts on flesh and soft bone
Entombed upon an ancient throne where she lies
Cold, forgotten by time. When hearts fail, malign,
She will pass beyond.

Another particularly well known poetic form is the Sonnet. Credited to the bard William Shakespeare, the Sonnet is comprised of four stanzas in iambic pentameter. Iamb are similar to trochee, in that it has two syllables, however the vocal stress in an iamb is on the second syllable. The meter an iamb is set in means how many iambs are present in the line. Therefore, iambic pentameter means there are ten syllables in a line. The first three stanzas of a Sonnet follow an end rhyme pattern of AB AB, CD CD, EF EF. The final stanza of a Sonnet uses the end rhyme pattern of GG. Therefore, a Sonnet would look something like this:

How oft I seek transcendentalism
To become entangled in the Ethos
Yet, fall short of the fell mechanism.
Yes. How could I forget? It is Pathos
Which calls to me. Her light spread out like wheat
To thresh, refulgent in great harmony.
My fellows think it cruel to leave the seat
empty, and supplicate the surgeon’s fee
be met. Though vacancy delivers one
from lies. It is holy smoke, up the flew.
Freedom from vanity of emotion.
My fellows think it cruel to leave them, too.
Apotheosis to escape this earth.
But darkened skies forbid my reasoned mirth.

Both of these poems are original, my own work. It is my belief that by practicing particular styles, and making my best attempt to explain how they are formed, I can increase my own understanding of the craft. Poetry is one of my favorite writing styles. It is far older than the novel, far more refined than the script. And it is, truly, the portal to the greatest human understanding that can be achieved.

The Story of Onsen Island

There is an island on the far eastern edge of Tandavar, nearest the Korudo Sea. It is known as Onsen Island, and it is one many imperial colonies of Udai throughout the Tandavaran Archipelago. The island has a long and storied history in the empire, dating back into the Fall Era. Long ago, the colony was abandoned and left to return to nature. Now, in the year 821 of the Modern Era, the empire has again extended its borders to Onsen, and established the colony once more.

In the year 250 FE, the Udaite Empire began expanding into the territories of Tandavar. Under the rule of Emperor Uda Ikari, the empire sent seven ships into the untamed lands, loaded with intrepid adventurers seeking to bring glory to Udai. The vessels landed on seven different islands: Onsen, Pingyao, Kage, Aka Shi, Keshima, Shudao, and Jinzi. Each expedition was lead by a Bushido of a Ju Hachi house, with the goal being to establish an outpost, reconnoiter for resources, and establish a foothold in the area. The expeditions were a success, and over the next fifty years the outposts blossomed into villages, bustling with new life.

However, the islands of eastern Tandavar were not uninhabited when the expeditions arrived. They were home to a large tribe of barbarians, called the Ezen. This tribe commanded a great number of sailing vessels, and had villages established all through Tandavar, including the seven new island colonies of Udai. The Ezen worship battle, and the greatest warrior among them is set as their ruler and their deity. In those days, God King Galam of the Ezen viewed the intrusion of the Udaites as an act of war, and spent the remainder of his life in constant strife with the people of Udai among the islands.

As the conflict with God King Galam dragged on the islands of Aka shi and Shudao fell to his armies. Support from the mainland was too slow, the waters of Korudo proving dangerous for even the most worthy vessels, and the remaining colonies had to defend themselves against the growing onslaught. The Bushido of Pingyao turned their efforts toward the ruins of the ancients upon their island, in hopes that studying the old magic held there would give them an edge over their enemies. Sadly the task proved their downfall, with their efforts instead releasing an incredible surge of untamed earth magic. The entire island was destroyed.

With the loss of Pingyao, the remaining Udaites withdrew from the remaining islands to Onsen, in hopes of holding the village there as a fortress against the Ezen. Over the following 25 years, Onsen held out against the barbarians, suffering only minor losses. But the God King Galam grew restless in his old age. It was his obsession to destroy all the Udaites upon what he saw as his land, and so he turned his attention to the magics of the ancients also. When the Ju Hachi learned of his plan, they remembered the tragedy at Pingyao. Knowing that such an event could happen again, they left their fortress on Onsen to take the fight directly to the Ezen.

In the ruins on the southern end of Onsen Galam established his war camp, in hopes of harnessing the destructive forces of the ancients to win his war. The Ju Hachi warriors launched their assault on his camp swiftly, with thousands of casualties on both sides. Despite the best efforts of the Ju Hachi, however, Galam had created a weapon to channel the ancient magic of pre-Fall humanity stored in the ruins. According to legend, the power he unleashed brought untold destruction and chaos upon the island. The ruins were swallowed up into the earth, taking with them most of God King Galam’s own people. One Ju Hachi warrior, named Ito Kenji, strode forward amongst the chaos, and faced Galam alone. Ito Kenji cast a protective spell on the remaining Bushido, and plunged his blade into the heart of Galam. The energy harness by the God King was released in a sudden fury, destroying Ito Kenji, and much of the island as well. Despite Ito Kenji’s protective spell, many of the Ju Hachi Bushido died in the wake of the devastation. The barbarian tribe of Ezen was all but destroyed as well, leaving only a small remnant of their people to survive.

After the battle with God King Galam, the remaining Udaites were too few to survive another winter on Onsen. The imperial citizens boarded their remaining boats in the year 365 FE. With the provisions they had they sailed for the mainland, heartsick to lose their island home. Over the following centuries of the Fall Era, the empire made no further attempts to expand their hold into Tandavar. Onsen, the last bastion of the Udaite colonies, was slowly reclaimed by the elements.

In the year 790 ME, a petition was put forth among the Ruling Houses of Udai to return to Tandavar once more, and reestablish the colony on Onsen island to preserve and explore the cultural heritage of the ancient, sacred site. House Zhu and House Wei, in an uncharacteristic act of cooperation, agreed that the endeavor was worthy of the empires assets, and sent a colony ship to the island. House Zhu dedicated one of their most trusted Bushido, Shigenori Zhu, to be the Lord and Daimyo of Onsen. Over the decades since the reestablishment of the colony, the citizens of the empire have found prosperity and favor upon Onsen. After their initial arrival, it was found that a small tribe of the Ezen barbarians still remained on the island. They did not have their former prowess, yet they remain a formidable challenge to the peace of Onsen. Lord Zhu has established a tenuous peace with the Ezen tribe. The village of Onsen has been established as a peaceful zone, where citizens of the empire and the Ezen can interact without fear of retaliation.

As time has passed on Onsen in the Modern Era, the village has found stability through the incomings and outgoings of Tandavaran adventurers. Onsen now acts as a major hub for the Tandavaran-Udai trade routes. Traveling adventurers following these routes have provided the breastwork of the reconstruction on the island, providing labor, clearing out infestations of dangerous creatures, and ensuring safe roads for the passage of supplies from Onsen village to the outposts nearer the coasts. Although there is a peace treaty with the Ezen, there are still conflicts with their people from time to time. Rogue groups of the Ezen tribe have been found to waylay adventurers on the roads, robbing them, or in some cases, leaving them for dead with severe wounds. Lord Zhu, in agreement with the current God King of the Ezen, has therefore put forth an edict that anyone traveling on the roads of Onsen is well within their rights to defend themselves from any perceived threat, without fear of compromising the peace treaty. So far, there have been no major conflicts, and the treaty holds.

As the colonists have connected with the island, they too have connected with the history of the place and their forbears who dwelt there long before. With this has come revivals of old traditions, such as festivals, customs, patterns of worship. By far the most prominent festival is the Festival of Masks, a celebration of the spirits of nature and ancestors. The festival is held yearly in the month of August, generally running from the tenth of the month until the close. Many view this time as a time of reflection, seeking hidden knowledge of the past through study of the magical arts and the ancient sites around the island. There are also many challenges held throughout the festival which reward participants with various trophies. The greatest prize, however, is for those who participate in and win the Tournament of Warriors. Whoever comes out as the victor of that challenge is given the opportunity to become a Bushido retainer for house Zhu, in the service of Lord Shigenori Zhu.

In recent years, Onsen has become a place of refuge for people of the empire who are tired of the never ending politics in the mainland. As such, a number of political refugees have come to call Onsen home. They come to the island to escape rebellions in the prefectures, either driven from their lands in the destruction that follows such conflicts, or because their houses were disbanded for their participation in them. Lord Zhu of Onsen holds that the island is a place of peace, where anyone can get a fresh start on life. Most recently, a number of refugees have arrived on Onsen from the Shinrai prefecture, displaced after a rebellion led by a Ryoko-Sha mentor there.

Onsen is no stranger to unusual magical occurrence, as evidenced by the conflict with the God King Galam. Most recently, a magical staff has been discovered rooted in a glade on the island, surrounded by powerful warding spells. The staff has begun to garner great attention from traveling adventurers, as a rumor has sparked up about it that whoever is able to obtain the staff would become a mage of the highest degree. So far, no one has been able to pass the test. The staff has been scrutinized by the local magical authority and have found it to be benign in nature, so the contest to see who is first to claim the staff continues.

The island of Onsen is a place of long and magical heritage for the empire of Udai. Lord Zhu has established peace and prosperity upon the face of the land, and it has brought many people of all walks of life to call the place home, even if only for a short time as they pass through on their journeys. As the Festival of Masks continues on Onsen Island, and more people are drawn there to participate in the many contests, it is likely that soon someone will claim the mystical staff, and usher in a new era of magical prosperity.

The Bushido of Udai

The empire of Udai has seen many battles. While there have been several rebellions within the empire, there have been no instances of what would be called a civil war. Most of Udai’s conflicts have been with foreign nations, almost always on the defensive. Udai is a land rich with natural resources, and others have often envied them of these things. Through every conflict of the last thousand years, one thing has become clear: you cannot win a land war with Udai.

There are several reasons for this. Udai is the largest nation by land mass, with a population to match. Udai also hosts what is widely considered to be the most disciplined military force of any nation. In the nation of Udai, there are thirty noble houses. Twelve hold the position of government authority. The other eighteen houses, called the Ju Hachi, comprise the warrior caste of the empire. While there are many roles members of the Ju Hachi can occupy in the empire, from magistrates to land barons known as daimyos, all of them spend at least a portion of their lives as warriors. The Ju Hachi warriors are known as Bushido.

The Bushido are trained from birth in the arts of war. Swordsmanship, archery, martial arts, and discipline of the mind are all studied, with especial focus on protecting the empire from all threats, foreign and domestic. Every being born into the houses of the Ju Hachi go through this training. When they have reached their twenty first year, they are given the choice to leave the Bushido to pursue other life aspirations, or to continue in their service. Very few ever choose to leave.

To be Bushido means more than being a skilled warrior in the techniques of weapons. It means also to be educated in the high arts of magic. While not all Bushido are spell casters, it is required training in their primary education to understand spell casting; this serves two purposes. One, to enable them to use these abilities with greater affect, and two, so they may better understand how to counter spells when they face them in combat.

It is possible to become Bushido if you are not born of the Ju Hachi houses. However, it is rare. For a person to join the Bushido, they must be chosen by the lord or lady of either a Ruling house or Ju Hachi house. To even be considered to become Bushido, a being must be of superior skill in combat, and have proven their worth to the empire in battle.

The first foreign war for Udai was in the year 300 FE. The nation of Mul Debbon, occupying north eastern Filenfoe, began to push their boundaries into the farmlands of western Udai. The war chieftan of the Debbonese forces, Ashtun Voicethunder, believed his god had called him to lay claim to the land. At first, he armies found little resistance. The local rulers and peasants paid him no mind as his armies entered their villages and erected the Debbonese flag over the following year. He established his hold in the town of Oshu, in the western prefecture of Kessho. One night, in the year 301 FE, Ashtun received an envoy from the empire. They informed him that if his did not leave willingly within ten days, he and his armies would be utterly destroyed. Ashtun ignored the message.

On the morning of the eleventh day, the Debbonese forces awoke to the combined force of the Ju Hachi aligned under their banners on the fields of Oshu. Ashtun Voicethunder believed his warriors could handle what he saw; they wore little to no armor, and carried no shields. He also mistakenly believed they had no magicians with them. And he, believing his tonsure of Elkenhammers would be protected by their god, stood his ground. A Bushido came forward from among the ranks of the Ju Hachi. His name was Shujin Kizoku, the commander of all the Ju Hachi in those days.

According to the legend of the Battle of Oshu, Shujin let out a shout that defeaned the Debbonese warriors. He said only two words: “No Mercy.” The following battle lasted only twenty minutes. There were no prisoners taken. Over the course of the next year, Shujin lead the campaign to reclaim the lands of the empire. The remaining Debbonese fought vigorously, but even their mighty Elkenhammers could not withstand the battle; their spells died on their lips, caught in the suppression mastery of the Ju Hachi Bushido. By 302 FE, the occupying forces of the Debbonese were completely annihilated.

The Ju Hachi Bushido are not only fearsome warriors. They act as peacekeepers in Udai, sustaining the empire and dealing justice swiftly in the open. Bushido live by a warriors code, focused on dealing honorably with the citizens of the empire, mastering their emotions, and strengthening their minds. Most Bushido also practice meditative arts, such as origami, poetry, or music. These pursuits give them perspective in their duty; that while they are warriors, peace is the goal. Even during times of conflict, Bushido maintain inner peace through their meditative arts.

Bushido trace their heritage in Udai back even before the first emperor Zhi Tsan established feudal rule. In the early days, when the region was still known by its scarg name of Secuba, the land was covered in roving warbands of men. They fed themselves on the spoils of honest and hard working folk. To ensure the safety of the people, the towns and villages united themselves into kingdoms, and established the hierarchal caste system which still exists today in modern Udai. The peasant caste provided the labor of their hands, the warrior caste defended the kingdom, and the ruling class managed the important issues of law, border safety, and the judicial system.

The twelve ruling houses also retain Bushido in their service. Frequently these Bushido hail from the Ju Hachi houses, but they can also be held under the name of the ruling house who retains them. House Zhu has many Bushido retainers in their service, as well as five Ju Hachi houses who are pledged to them. House Wei also retains a number of Bushido, while having four Ju Hachi houses pledged to their service. The other ruling houses also keep Bushido retainers, and share the remaining unpledged Ju Hachi among them.

Bushido can specialize in any number of martial weapons. The bow, the sword, the spear, and many other weapons are used by the Bushido of Udai. Their minds and spell craft are as keen as their blades, and they serve their empire with a singleness of mind. Through generations, the Bushido have protected the empire from all its foes, and those who would seek to destroy it from within. The Bushido are sworn the protectors of Udai, and are one of the most fearsome societies of all Alteris. So if you find yourself in the empire, be on your best behavior. Otherwise, you could easily end up on the wrong side of a Bushido blade.

The Magician’s Crusade

In the last years of the Fall Era, a powerful magician rose up among the peasantry of Silg. This magician went on to nearly conquer the entire known world, until he was stopped by the great hero Alkanet, who came from the islands of Tandavar. This conflict is known as the Magician’s Crusade, and is told among all people of Alteris. Although the stories vary depending on the people telling it, each nation having their own version of events, there are enough similarities in the tellings to drawn a conclusion of what is likely the truth behind the legend.

In the year 760 FE, a boy was born in Silg in the small village of Cloven, Lestmarsh. His birthname is unknown. The boy started his life as many in Silg had, living as a peasant, serving in the fields of his lord. But from an early age, this boy showed a proclivity toward magical abilities. He yearned to study in the arts of spellcraft but was denied; a peasant cannot pursue an education as a magician in Silg until they are of age, and only then if they join with the Royal Guard. He then sought to learn magic in secret, stealing knowledge where he could from the courts of local wizards. He was caught stealing on a spring day in 779 FE, and killed a guardsmen in a fit of passion.

The young spellcaster lived in exile for the next eighteen years, living in hiding in the bogs of Lestmarsh. But at some point, he found an ancient alter to a forgotten god. And as he prayed to this being, it granted him incredible power, if he would serve them. He gave himself in service to this god, and was thenceforth known as Hybris.

Hybris returned from the swamps, and used powerful influence magic to bend the Royal Guard of Lestmarsh to his will. He marched on Wortol, and killed the king of Silg, placing himself on the throne. This action sent terrible waves through the kingdom, but he promised those who would follow him that he would lead their kingdom to a new golden age, with Silg ruling over all the earth.

Over the next year, Hybris conquered Mul Debbon, driving their ruler, the Gold King into exile, and took control of Filenfoe. His armies relentlessly raided the desert lands of the hastu, and sought the total extermination of their race. Among the Filenfoeans in those days was a hastu seer. She had a vision, that a being would come from the north and destroy Hybris. Word of this vision spread among the Filenfoeans, giving them hope. Eventually, word of this prophecy came to Hybris himself. He feared the message, and called on his god for guidance. The god came to him, and commanded him to send his armies north, and destroy the people there.

The northernmost island of Tandavar, Spade, was home to a peaceful society. The people of Spade had lived their since the Dawn Era, practicing ancient magic and continuing the worship of Sherrphoght. When Hybris’ armies came to their shores, they washed over the people like a tide of death. The people of Spade fought hard, but the armies numbers were too great. In the end, only one being stood alive on the shores, among the bodies of his fellow people and the invaders. His name was Alkanet.

Alkanet sailed south on a ship taken from the defeated army, until he came to the shores of Mul Debbon. Legends say that when Alkanet arrived in Mul Debbon he was discovered by the Gold King, near the glacier of Everwinter. They quickly became friends, and the Gold King told Alkanet all he knew about Hybris, his rise to power, and the threat he posed to all of Alteris. Alkanet and the Gold King waged battle with the forces of Hybris across Mul Debbon. But despite Alkanets awesome spellcraft, they could not breach the barrier magic Hybris had errected around Alterwood Keep.

Alkanet and the Gold King then discovered the rumor of a seer in Filenfoe, and made their way south to meet this woman. As they went they found another companion, Thorn the blood prince of the hastu, who joined them in their quest. All through Filenfoe they found the fortresses of the army of the magician. And they destroyed them. Until they found themselves near the Gawir Ruins, where the hastu refugees had been driven by Hybris’ army. There, they found the seer. She knew Alkanet, much to his surprise. He was the one she had prophesized would come. She gave him the blessing of Tset, and called on the spirit of Sherrphoght to guide him in his quest. Alkanet, thus empowered, united the hastu tribes to the call of war, and marched north once more to destroy Hybris.

When they arrived at Alterwood Keep, the army of Alkanet laid waste the army of Hybris, driving his Silgen loyalists to flee in terror, abandoning their king. Alkanet destroyed the barrier around the keep, and waged terrible battle with the magician. In the ensuing battle, the Gold King was struck with a powerful curse, and Hybris escaped.

the Gold King knew he would die, so he promised Alkanet his kingdom; but Alkanet refused. He instead asked that the Gold King do all he could to let the people of Alteris live free. The Gold King, in an act of love for his friend, surrendered his resplendent armor to Alkanet. Thus clothed, Alkanet set forth to follow Hybris, and end his reign.

Alkanet spent several years searching for the disgraced magician. The people of Silg rejected him after his defeat at Alterwood, and attempted to distance themselves from the actions of their treacherous king; but the world did not forget that his armies were Silgen for centuries. Finally, Alkanet cornered the man at his final refuge: the vary alter to his forgotten god where his path toward destruction had begun. Alkanet and Hybris fought with all the power of the harkens of the earth. The force of their combat was so great, it tore a hole between realms, opening a doorway into the dark dimension. A palpable miasma of twisted magic poured from that wound, until Alkanet, mustering all his strength, destroyed Hybris and sealed the opening.

It is unclear exactly what happened to Alkanet after this event. Silgen legends say he continued adventuring across the world, fighting evil and setting things right in the wake of the Magician’s Crusade. Debbonese legends tell that Alkanet returned to their lands, and spent decades in mourning for the loss of his beloved friend, the Gold King. In Filenfoe, the hastu people hold him as the savior of their race, delivering them from the genocidal war of Hybris. There is truth to all these beliefs, and the work of Alkanet did indeed usher in a new era of peace among the people of Alteris. At the conclusion of the Magician’s Crusade, 804 FE, a new era was established: the Modern Era.

There has been a resurgence in interest in this centuries old story of the hero Alkanet in recent years. A fordrin scholar bore record of peculiar events on Spade Island, where some locals claimed to have seen Alkanet with their own eyes. The record indicates that his spirit remained in the world, seeking to finish what he had started eight hundred years ago: the destruction of Hybris and his god. The claims of these adventurers on Spade Island called into question the authority of the ruling magical society at the time, The Coven of Helcrest. But that is a story for another time.

The History of Filenfoe

Once, long ago, Filenfoe was home to the first hastu civilization. Under the guidance of their goddess Tset, the hastu built many cities, fortresses, and great structures; they were carved into the mountains, and from the mountains. Places like the canyon city of Gawir, the monolithic accomplishment of Ziggurat, and Kolong, the city beneath a mountain. But at the end of the Dawn Era, the hastu abandoned Alteris, going with the gods to the dark dimension. When they left, they left Filenfoe a deserted kingdom, cities empty, being reclaimed by the sands of the Kaduruk desert. In the chaos that followed the end of the Second Dragon War, many humans entered Filenfoe, claiming the ghost towns and cities of the hastu as their refuge.

In the days of the hastu, their kingdoms were named Yial and Bial. The humans named the region Filenfoe after their claiming of it, a reference to their long time enemies who had once lived there. It is unclear how long humanity occupied this region before the beginning of recorded history in the Fall Era. But through that time, the region was home to many different kingdoms and nations. For many centuries during the Dawn Era, there was a unified kingdom of Filenfoe, united under the family of Keeli.

There are many apocryphal stories of this family and their exploits, though there are no written records to indicate whether these stories are true. But under the rule of the Keeli line, the people of Filenfoe prospered. They paid homage to the ancient gods, and established many new settlements and cities. They built their capital city, Galia, by the delta of the Tulgunda river, and the fortress city of Sagara farther south, near the jungles of Jurig Kai. The Keeli line prospered well into the 250th year of the Fall Era, before things began to weaken for them.

In the year 250 FE, the first Silgen tradesmen entered Filenfoe, passing through the Narrows, a small canyon way through the western ridges of the Naekiin mountains. This was the first time humans had entered Filenfoe since their first arrival in the forgotten histories of the Dawn Era, and it had a great impact on the people of Filenfoe. At first, their presence brought with it new wealth. But as the people prospered, so did the influence of the dark gods. Chaos and lies began to seed themselves among the people, until juntas began to lay claim to the plains of Filenfoe, weakening the kingdoms authority. The family of Keeli united their people against this new, growing threat, but the juntas were only the beginning of their trials.

By the year 270 FE, Silg no longer viewed Filenfoe as a kingdom, but a conquest. They moved their armies into western Filenfoe, and began the process of vassalizing the cities there. Worse still, the northern kingdom of Mul Debbon also began invading into eastern Filenfoe, claiming annexation of those lands to prevent the spread of their rivals the Silgens. The kingdom of Filenfoe was too weakened by their internal war with the growing juntas to oppose the occupations. But they fought, tooth and nail to keep their home. The capital city of Galia fell to the Debbonese forces on June the 18th, 290 FE.

In the year 312 FE, there was another trial. The hastu, who had vanished thousands of years before, suddenly returned. They found themselves refugees in a war-torn world, unable to support their needs. The kingdom of Filenfoe feared that the hastu would cause more division, but the returning hastu showed no animosity toward their ancient enemies, and instead secluded themselves into the deserts and forgotten fortress cities of their ancestors. The royal family prepared for the worst from the hastu, as they continued their campaign to free their people from their oppressors.

The royal family of Keeli reestablished their seat of power in the fortress city of Sagara, hoping they could overcome the juntas in time to reclaim their nation from the invaders. But a powerful junta, calling themselves the Maung, or being translated, the Tigers, spearheaded a coup to assassinate the Keeli line. In the year 345, the Maung initiated their coup, but the crown prince, Mokee Keeli, was away from the castle keep on the night of the attack. The story goes that he returned from a hidden land, far to the south across the sea, to find the Maung waging terrible war across his kingdom, and the regions of eastern and western Filenfoe under enemy occupation. In his rage, he became the Warrior King, and waged a terrible conflict against the Maung and the invaders.

In 350 FE the invading nations became embroiled in the Trade War, and the conflict between the two nations weakened their hold on Filenfoe. The Warrior King, with the aid of his remaining loyalists, established a treaty with the hastu people who had moved into their lands. For the promise of accepting them as citizens, the hastu agreed to fight on bahalf of the Filenfoean kingdom; they laid waste the Maung, and drove the invaders to abandon their hold on the kingdom. By the end of the war for Filenfoe, the royal line of Keeli was lost, and the kingdom fell into ruin.

As time moved forward in the Fall Era, Filenfoe was a place of many nation states, caught up in the continued conflicts left behind by the actions of the Maung, the other juntas who vied for power, and the vacuum of the occupation of Silg and Mul Debbon. The influences of the hastu cultures also affected Filenfoean development, contributing to a renascence of identity in many of the nation states. Only the nation state of Sagara retained the cultural purity of their heritage in the wake of the wars and upheaval.

Over the next few centuries, the wounds of the occupation slowly healed, with humanitarian aid coming from both Silg and Mul Debbon to repair the injustices of the past. In modern Filenfoe, there are many trade hubs along the roads from Silg to Udai, as well as an increase of community between the nation states of the region. There are four major nation states of Filenfoe: Sagara, Ziggurat, Galia, and Kaduruk. Every nation state has hastu citizens, but the central nation state of Kaduruk is the only one governed by a hastu hierarchy. Since Kaduruk is a vast desert, the people of this nation state have few permanent cities; they instead move in nomadic bands, following the seasons to keep in the more fertile regions throughout the year. Ziggurat is home to the fertile plains of Tenah Rendah, where the study of healing has strong roots. Galia holds the north eastern territories of Filenfoe, and has the most temperate climate of the region.

Filenfoe is a place of varied landscapes. There are savannahs, deserts, high mountains, wetlands, and jungles. The people of Filenfoe share a sense of unity in their collective trials. Time has not been kind to their kingdom. But despite all the strife, they remain undaunted.

History of Mul Debbon

The nation of Mul Debbon has deep roots in the world of Alteris. Its origin stretches into prehistory as the first independent human nation, and the first fortress against their gods during the Second Dragon War. Some texts suggest the name is derived from the names of their first king and queen, Mul and Debbani respectively. And while there are some records of an actual queen named Debbani, it is more likely the name is derived from the ancient language of man, with mul meaning “mountains,” and debbon meaning “many.”

According to legend, when the dragon god Sherrphoght waged the First Dragon War across Alteris, the race of man drove the scargs eastward into Secuba, what is now Udai. When Sherrphoght decided he wanted to conquer Dolceca as well, his human followers rebelled against him, and established the camp of their resistance in the mountains of the region of Heroc, central Alteris. Heroc was a cold and unforgiving landscape, and no other beings had chosen to call it home prior to the human uprising. The dragon gods attempted to end the rebellion quickly, but their human children, strong in the ways of earth magic, enchanted the skies and lands around them to ward off their creators. Those enchantments can still be seen in the night skies above Mul Debbon.

In the prehistories of the Dawn Era, Mul Debbon was mostly governed by kings and queens. The monarchy of those days worshipped the dark gods, and the nation was under constant threat of chaotic conflict and misinformation. There were countless civil wars in those days, with many of the cities being burned to the ground again and again. Experts disagree on the exact time table, but the general consensus is that 800 years before the first year of the Fall Era, the monarchy finally ended worship practices to the dark gods, and outlawed the speaking of their names. Over the thousands of years before that period, however, the human species deiminated themselves all throughout Alteris, filling every possible land that could support their intrepid species. Despite any animosity held toward Mul Debbon by their surrounding kingdoms, the land of many mountains is the primary origin point of all human life across Alteris.

The Fall Era is marked by a number of changes across all of Alteris. In the year 1 FE, a Debbonese lord claimed to have had communion with an ancient god, named Elken. In his account, while he was out hunting boar, the god approached him and demanded an accounting of his service as lord of Oakenhome. The story indicates that this lord, who is known as Anthropol, was chastised by Elken for not supporting the people of his city. He returned from his hunt that day, cast off his title, and established the first church of Elken. Over the next hundred years, that became the Order of Elken and fundamentally altered the government of Mul Debbon. Elken worship became the primary religion at that point, with a greater focus on personal freedom, and government for the people.

The nation today has six city states: the captial of Alterwood, Oakenhome, Sunlanding (also called Posadka), Lyonhall, Boarshrine, and Redfall (also called Krasnaya). The nation is governed by elected officials, called Yilieths on the local level, and Boroeths on the higher level. A key distinction among Debbonese culture is the absence of patriarchal or matriarchal rule. People are not forced into particular career paths or societal expectations based on their gender. There are male and female Elkenhammers, Yilieths, and Boroeths.

But the road to what is modern Mul Debbon was not an easy one. The trend toward freedom of the citizens did not find footing until after the year 200 Modern Era. As Elken worship grew, the ruling elite found it harder to assert their dominion over their subjects. The people rebelled frequently, resulting in over seventy-five civil wars in the region from 50 FE to 800 FE. These wars have left permanent scars on the cities of Mul Debbon, with structures being built atop the rubble of countless generations lost in conflict. The frequency of in fighting lead to the foundation of the Order of Elken’s warrior monks, the Elkenhammers. Their devotion to the natural balance and freedom of all beings put them in place as the ballast of peace in the region, keeping the lords and kings from abusing their power as often as they could.

Things changed drastically in the year 150 Modern Era, however. A civil war forced the Order to dispatch their warriors with the then queen’s military, in an effort to ensure prevention of war crimes. But the queen issued an extermination order, which lead to the annihilation of the Elkenhammers on Friday the 27th of June, 150 ME. Only a few escaped her order. The civil war petered out over the next year, with the queen being assassinated on the throne. She was then followed by her daughter, who attempted to rebuild Mul Debbon once more.

After a fifty year period, the Elkenhammers returned. In 200 ME, the rebellions had been settled, and peace was returning to the land. However, a heavy tax remained on the people as instituted by the previous queen. An Elkenhammer called Anthropol the Second allowed himself to be captured so he could hold audience with the queen. There, he taught her the fundamental truths of Elken, and inspired her to lay down her crown and free the people from the yoke of lords and ladies. Since that time, Mul Debbon has been an egalitarian theocracy.

The History of Silg

In ancient times, scargs ruled over most of what is today called Alteris. In those days, the lands had different names: Heroc referred to the lands north and east of the center of the continent, Dolceca the lands south, and Secuba the lands east. The land of Heroc was among the first to fall to the race of man when they sailed south from Tandavar at the behest of their god Sherrphoght. And when the eastern lands of Heroc were taken by them, they called them Loxmun. This region is what is today called Silg.

As the centuries past through the Dawn Age, humanity moved farther into Heroc, into the region that became Mul Debbon. But as the Dawn age and the Second Dragon War drew to a close, humanity spread abroad into all the lands of Alteris. When humanity returned to Loxmun, the influence of the dark gods still raged among their species. This led to countless conflicts in the region; war, slavery, genocide, and all forms of debauchery ravaged the region of Loxmun.

Then, in the year 101 FE, a human named Vero Silgis united his brethren under a new ideal focused on a return to Sherrphoght worship. He believed that order among men could only be achieved through a strict hierarchy of kings and nobility, providing a structure to their society that allowed for the rule of law. King Silgis waged a campaign across the region of Loxmun, calling for peaceful transfer of power wherever he could, and taking control of the villages and communities by force when required. As time passed and King Silgis asserted his dominance over the region, he declared worship of the dark gods a crime punishable by death, and instituted laws that protected against murder, theft, and all other manner of amoral behavior to the affect of harming another. Most historians agree, the work of King Silgis did more to bring stability to the people of Loxmun than any other person in history to that point.

After uniting the people, he declared the land a new kingdom, which bore his name. Those who joined with him willingly were granted noble titles in the kingdom, and given ruling authority of the eight provinces. As the kingdom of Silg grew, it sent waves through the surrounding region, exciting the grok tribes who lived in the southern swamplands below. Fearing that the groks would unite and attack his kingdom, King Silgis marshalled his army and declared a preemptive war on the groks in 115 FE. The conflict lasted four years, and many lives were lost on both sides. But in the end, the swampland was tamed and claimed by the kingdom of Silg, adding the province of Lestmarsh to their borders.

The capital of Silg is in the province of Wortol, where Vero Silgis rebuilt the ruined temple of Sherrphoght there into his own palace. The structure continues to act as both a site of worship and the residence of the royal line to this day. The nine provinces, from north to south, east to west, are Wortol, Reb Tenn, Rastis, Olganny, Vether, Whilhol, Menganny, Cheshton (also called Cheshly), and Lestmarsh. Each province is governed by a person of a noble bloodline, either a lord or a lady, for the duration of that individuals lifetime. After they have passed, the nobility of that region vote to select the next nobleman who will operate the governing seat. The kingdom is ruled over by either a king or a queen, often passed down by birth; however, the nobility can vote to decide who is the next ruler of the kingdom upon the death of the previous ruler. The complexity of this system has led to no shortage of conflict among the ruling class, seeking to establish themselves or their family line as the rulers throughout the kingdom.

There are hundreds of noble families in the kingdom of Silg. The most prominent family lines are those of the Silgis’ and the Braith’s, with both families having held the kingship at different times throughout the last 1500 years. The kingdom is based on a strict caste system, nobles and peasants, to maintain order and function in their society. The peasantry operate the farmlands, as well as the industrial complex of the nation, manufacturing the metals, tools, textiles, and other useful goods for the kingdom. Generally, the caste system is looked upon favorably by the people of Silg. There are some, however, that find the system degrading.

It is believed that the Thieves Society is centered in the kingdom of Silg, but there is little evidence to suggest this. There are high crime rates in some of the midwestern provinces, however, with many peasants choosing to join or form criminal organizations to get ahead. If someone is found to have ties with these gangs, they are charged with sedition, a crime punishable by death. Gangs with the names of House Uncanny, Rotten Gut, and even more subtle names like the Tradesmen, can be found throughout the kingdom.

To combat these seditionists, as well as to defend the interests of the kingdom at large, Vero Silgis established the Royal Guard in the last days of his rule. It is the military corps of Silg. Every province of Silg is protected by a sizable detatchment of the Royal Guard, and membership with this military corps grants greater rights and privileges to those born outside of nobility. Peasants who join are given the social status of citizen, elevating those of the peasantry who join out of poverty, and even offering them greater education and quality of life.

The people of Silg prize entrepreneurship, and hold enterprise as one of the highest virtues. This is reflected in their intrepid spirit toward sailing, and exploring. While no vessels from Alteris dare sail too far into the oceans round about them, most maps of Alteris are of Silgen origin, their cartographers working tirelessly to discover every place the world has to offer. Traders from Silg run trade routes into every nation of Alteris, delivering of their own goods, and returning with rare and unique spices, textiles, and mineral ores to be sold in the cities of Silg. The people of Silg also prize the arts, having many performance halls, authors, and painters among their citizenry.

Silg is a kingdom of order. Their fealty to the god Sherrphoght has established a peace among their people for generations. Silgens are a proud people, with many beliefs and customs. They believe in their leaders, and worship many old gods, including Grukscava, god of the hunt. Their culture holds closely to the ideals of family bonds and utilitarianism. Among all the nations of Alteris, the people of Silg are known to be generally jovial, but do not underestimate them; they are a force to be reckoned with.

The History of Udai

The empire of Udai was founded in the year 71 of the Fall Era. But the history of its people goes well into the ages of antiquity. In the Dawn Era it is said that near the end of the Second Dragon War a collective of human and fordrin entered the region, intermarrying and forming new cultures.

Over the centuries, the region developed into clans of warlords, fiercely devoted to their ideals and authority. Wars and contentions mottled the region, until the fordrin suffered a curse called the Burning Hands. This curse, believed to be an affliction brought on by the dark gods, caused the fordrin to no longer be able to touch their human counterparts without inflicting serious harm on them. At that point in their history, the fordrin withdrew from society, forming what they referred to as the Hidden City. When exactly these events took place is a mystery, lost to the destruction and confusion of the end of the Dawn Era.

By the year 15 FE, the nation was comprised of seven distinct kingdoms: Xihan, Xiwang, Shinrai, Tatakai, Youkei, Zhu, and Senshi. Xihan was goverend by the warlord Zhi Tsan. In those days, the land of Secuba was in near constant conflict between the warring kingdoms. With the growing vacuum of power left by the withdrawal of the ruling fordrin class to the Hidden City, the kingdoms of Tatakai and Youkei joined in a pact and overthrew the kingdom of Zhu. After their victory, Tatakai betrayed Youkei and conquered them.

With the three regions united, the new kingdom of An was forged, so named after the warlord of Tatakai. Zhi Tsan, aware of the threat of this new power, called on his brother Zhi Sun, who ruled over Xiwang, to join him against An. By the year 65 FE, Senshi had been conquered by An, and Shinrai had joined with Xiwang as a vassal, with Xihan as the political governing seat of all three.

Tensions grew as warlord Zhi Tsan grew old. the kingdom of An invaded the prefecture of Xiwang, and killed Zhi Sun. This embroiled Zhi Tsan, compelling him to call on his allies among the fordrin of the Hidden City to end the conflict, once and for all. By the year 71 FE, the kingdom of An, along with the remaining unconquered kingdoms, all flew the banner of Xihan. It was the first time any one warlord held the seat of power over all the kingdoms of Eastern Alteris. In his final decree, he named the region an empire, granting each prefecture their own feudal rule under his authority.

There is some debate about where the name of Udai came from. Some believe it to be derived from the title Zhi Tsan was given by his loyalists, “Uda.” However, review of ancient texts reveals that the title of Uda was not give to Zhi Tsan until nearly 40 years after the empire was dubbed Udai. Deeper research shows that Udai is likely a mishmash of two words from the ancient dialects spoken in the region, “Yao,” meaning ambitious, and “Dai,” meaning banner.

The feudal empire of Udai established its capital in the region of Xihan at its founding, and the city of Xihan remains the capital to this day. In the empire, the power of each prefecture is divided among noble family lines, called houses. At any given time, there are about thirty houses in Udai.

While there are generally thirty houses, only twelve of those houses hold any real authority in the matters of national government. They are, in order of superiority, Zhu, Wei, Zhishi, Shinjitsu, Senso, Lieren, Moffa, Wushu, Heishi, Biruda, and Hasu. From time to time, a house is defunct due to actions by their leadership that are not in harmony with the will of the empire, and they lose their status. New houses are then established to replace them, taking on the role of prefect in the region where the previous house was removed. House Zhu has long been the greatest house in the empire, their prefects ruling over the majority of regions throughout Udai.

While the governing houses and the noble houses espouse the rule of the prefectures throughout Udai, every citizen has a family line that is referred to as a house. These houses provide the born surname of each citizen. Not every house is noble; many houses are artisans, farmers, merchants, or soldiers. But regardless of the noble lineage of a house, the relation one has to their house is a source of pride for each citizen. The governing houses of Udai are given the opportunity to establish places of learning, called Daigaku, or being translated, Universities. The Daigaku of each house focus their teachings on the skills and knowledge most prized by that house.

Teaching at a Daigaku is considered one of the highest honors a citizen can attain, and only the greatest scholars are selected for the duty. Udai is prized among all people of Alteris for its focus on education. Of all the nations of Alteris, Udai has the most unified primary education system for the rising generations. Almost all citizens are literate before the age of ten. Every city and village in the empire has at least one school, where the youth are taught a plethora of useful knowledge specialized for their region and status among the citizenry.

Not every scholar of Udai can teach at a Daigaku, so some choose instead to be teachers at the schools in the prefectures. Others, not content to share their knowledge only in a small region, become mentors, known colloquially as Ryoko-sha. These mentors go from region to region, sharing what they know, and often garner robust followings of disciples. Sadly, these followings frequently turn into rebellions, with the military of Udai being forced to quash them before they boil into episodes that could threaten the security of the empire.

The imperial line also has a house: Uda. However, this house is not included among the ruling twelve houses. Uda as a house can only be joined by birth, and their sole responsibility is to act as the figureheads of all of Udai. The current head of house Uda is Empress Uda Lei Lam. In recent years, Empress Lei has come under political stress. This is because she revealed the truth about the Hidden City of the fordrin. After an event referred to as the Revelation at Spade Island, recorded by the fordrin scholar Sachii, Empress Lei felt impressed to reveal that she was of fordrin decent, and that there was in fact no Hidden City. Instead, the fordrin were always among the citizenry of Udai, ruling over many of the prefectures under house Zhu. This has garnered disdain from fordrin who enjoyed their secrecy, and humans who believed they ruled Udai.

House Zhu has long been the most powerful house in the governance of Udai. While house Uda is the seat of imperial control, the day to day work of managing the law, settling legal disputes, and maintaining the peace is under the guidance of house Zhu. In many respects, the Emperors and Empress’ of Udai have acted more as figureheads than as governors. This distinction has also lent toward the discomfort many felt when Empress Lei revealed the secrets of the fordrin to the world at large. House Zhu however retains their strong loyalty to the Empress and the empire.

Currently in the empire, there are six prefectures: the capital of Xihan, where the Empress resides, Shinrai, Zhu, Jia, Kishi, and Kessho. Each prefecture is governed by a member of one of the twelve governing houses, with the majority of governors being either of house Zhu or house Wei. The houses of Zhu and Wei are fiercely adversarial toward one another, and there have been no shortage of attempted usurping of power between them in the prefectures. With the revealing of the fordrin as the majority ruling class of Udai, house Wei has increased their fervor, establishing themselves as the champion for human interests in the empire. While there have been some minor human rebellions since the revelation, house Wei maintains a strong position of siding with the Empress and the rule of law, citing that the only means of true and lasting change in the empire cannot be won by the sword.

Udai remains a powerful player on the stage of Alteris. Their collective devotion to their empire and education allow their citizenry the sense of self needed to maintain a strong community. Whether they seek training through a Daigoaku or not, each citizen of Udai finds purpose in their contribution to the empire. And it is in this that the empire of Udai have show their strength.

Gods of Alteris

In ancient times, the world of Alteris was peopled by the scargs, their mighty race spanning the entirety of the known world. They were powerfully connected to earth magic, called the Harken, which flowed through all things as the undercurrent of life itself. Many of these scargs transcended their mortal lives, achieving something they referred to as “I’o’t’pec.” In the common tongue we would call this apotheosis, or in other words, the process of becoming a god.

The Age of Apotheosis is a period in the Dawn Era, the earliest era of history in Alteris. Much of this time is considered myth, but regardless of this association, the beings of Alteris continue to hold the stories and gods of this era as both creators and patrons of the natural world. The primary gods and goddess of Alteris are Elken, Grukscava, Tamra, Septusiga, Sherrphoght, Tset, Helcrest, and Wize. There are also lesser gods and goddesses, who will be discussed later.

Elken is god of nature and freedom. He is worshipped primarily in Mul Debbon. However, there are shrines and effigies of this god all throughout Alteris, ancient sites where people long ago paid their respects to the deity. The Order of Elken safeguards the teachings of this god, holding that all beings are created equal, and should be allowed their natural freedoms to live and die as they choose. Elken is believed to be the safe keeper of all wild places in Alteris, and the protector of equilibrium in the natural world. His symbol is the five pronged antler.

Grukscava is god of the hunt and amelioration. He is the father god of the groks, but is worshipped by many races in many nations. The Guild of the Hunter-God, located in Silg, is a great church to Grukscava, devoted to the ideals that seeking the challenge of the hunt will grant them self improvement and ascension. The teachings of Grukscava focus on what it means to gain power, and how that power should be used to achieve the greatest advancement for ones society. Interpretation of what the greatest advancement is has been a subject of heated debate for centuries. His symbol is the waxing crescent.

Tamra is goddess of healing and wisdom. She is worshipped primarily in south western Filenfoe, but her favor is sought anywhere that healers practice their arts. Tamra worship is found all over Alteris, as are shrines to the goddess, often marked with silver arches. The art of potion making and all medicine craft is under her purview. Many scholars also seek her guidance as they continue their studies, in hopes of finding new knowledge to share with their fellows. The teachings of Tamra focus on personal health, both of the mind and body, and in achieving the Understanding, a state of being where knowledge and self are one. Her symbol is the silver talon.

Septusiga is goddess of war and honor. She holds special regard among the people of Filenfoe as the patron deity of their nation. While Septusiga worship has seen a decline in recent years, there are still shrines to be found across the world, marked by offerings of swords. These holy sites are frequently visited by soldiers on their way to battle, or warriors who seek greater valor in their service. The teachings of Septusiga have been a guide for the rules of engagement throughout most wars of the past thousand years. Surprisingly, mercy is one of the greatest tenets of Septusigas teachings. She holds that the ultimate goal of war is not destruction, but preservation of society. The symbol of Septusiga is the iron shield.

Sherrphoght is god of magic and order. He is the primary deity of Silg and a central figure in their monarchy. As the father god to humanity, Sherrphoght worship can be found all across Alteris, although the practice is in decline everywhere. Sherrphoght was killed by mankind eons ago, and although he is a dead god, this does not limit the power or authority the name invokes. A dead god is still more powerful than a living mortal, and their presence is considered eternal, even if no longer corporeal. His teachings focus on the Harken, or in other words, natural magic, and how this natural magic of the world creates balance. His symbol is the crimson flame.

Tset is goddess of law and service. She is the mother goddess of the hastu, and the primary deity of Poek Pamatang practicing hastu everywhere. This sect of hastu culture is a small group, however, and so too is the collective following of this dead goddess. Her teaching centers on the authority of the law, and how society can thrive through obedience to it. Her laws are many, and govern everything from family organization to governmental hierarchy. Her symbol is the four point star.

Helcrest is the goddess of lies and manipulation. Her form is that of a human. For much of recorded history, the beings of Alteris were caught in her web of lies, believing her to actually be the goddess of magic and power. Her influence has been lessened in recent years, however, as she was revealed to be a dark goddess, bent on the subjugation of the entire world. Her teachings focus on total devotion to her power, in exchange for long life and authority over others. Worship of Helcrest is generally looked down upon now in Alteris, with many of her followers now worshiping in secret. Her symbol is the black ring.

Wize is the god of chaos and confusion. He is the patron god of debauchery. His form is that of a hastu. He is often depicted as capricious, violent, and strangely jovial. The teachings of Wize center on the idea of total self service, giving oneself totally to the passions of the flesh, no matter the affect it has on those around you. He is the father god of the bellibubs, also known as goblins, and the progenitor of many plagues throughout the world. His symbol is the broken goblet.

Worship of the gods and goddesses has dwindled in recent years throughout all of Alteris. This is in large part due to the events leading into the Fall Era, when the human race killed the dragon god Sherrphoght and his sister Tset. This action brought a dearth upon the land, and the gods and goddesses made an exodus into the Dark Dimension, withdrawing their physical presence from the world. Many people still choose to call on these deities, and have had spiritual experiences in their worship. But the Age of Apotheosis is long past. The stories of these ancient beings remain important tales for educating the people of the world, a reminder of what came before, and what comes after on the road of life.