Introduction, Chapter 1

I have put my mark in ink upon parchment at the behest of my master, the Earl of Forthest. A patron of scholars, he has honoured me by tasking this humble historian with exploring the entirety of the world, and chronicling that which I find. I have relative youth, and no little skill if I may be immodest, taught to me by my master, and so I shall take the Earl's generous offer of coin, and return to him many years hence with my notes on the world in which we live. And so, eager to embark upon this the first leg of my endeavour I am, as ever, your chronicler Denier Harkreft, scholar at the leisure of the Earl of Forthest, in the year of our lady Hanna, 1438 HC

Lifetimes in he making, this account was undertaken by my master’s master Denier Harkreft, a man born in a land far beyond my ken, the merest existence of which I am only aware through his vivid writings. That scholar left his home behind him forever to learn all there was to know of our world, and pass that precious knowledge on to all those with the gift of letters. Sadly my master’s master died before his task was even half done, and my master is now too frail to continue the work. So it has fallen to me to complete this chronicle, else devote my life to it and then find another, as two men have done before me. And so I have taken it upon myself to compile his notes and, in some small way, honour him by assembling his life's work.
Arrizon Macini, Ashkel, 145 Legacy

The land where we dwell is called ‘Allornus’ in the tongue of the Dwarf-Giants, the first to place a name upon it. It is a truly vast landmass in an even vaster ocean that stretches off in all directions towards the edges of the world where the seas pour into black nothingness if the tales of the Dwarf-Giant historians are to be believed. On this landmass are forests and mountains, marshes and highlands, stretches of tilled earth that reach further than sight, and mighty cities whose spires pierce the clouds above. Since the Sundering when the Divh cast down the homeland of the Landsmen into the seas in the beginning of time, and drove our distant ancestors to his place no other land has been recorded, Allornus has been alone at the heart of existence. It would be a trite but accurate summation to call it a land of great contrast, and it’s peoples many and varied.

Of Men and Myr

With the exception of the Dwarf-Giants, who came from an inscrutable land lost beyond the sea, the story of the inhabitants of Allornus is largely one of Men and Myr. The Myrnaműn, part-animal creatures that range from the noble and mighty Thunderbears of the northern glaciers, to the Skrāl of the southern peaks, to the fierce Vargör, or the legendary nemesis of all other races the Zard. Unlike their animal cousins these races are civilized, and each has their own culture and society. The civilizations of the Myr Races predate the coming of Landsmen to Allornus by uncountable aeons, and may even date back to the time just after the imprisoning of the Elementals, when the Divh first put living things into the world, and even the long-lived and well travelled Dwarf-Giants cannot trace their chronicles to a time before the Myrnaműn ruled Allornus.

Conversely, we Landsmen are relative newcomers. Though none but the Immortal Divhi-Imperitor Haederas can tell exactly how long ago our ancestors were cast from their idyllic home on the Isle of Men, after the thrice-cursed tribe of the Nofo slew their Divhi and devoured his flesh. Five tribes survived that exodus, the Haedar, the Malorns, the Iri, the Ral and the Ghans. Each followed their own Divhi to new lands in Allornus, where they carved out great kingdoms to serve as their new homes and began to make war or peace with those who dwelt already in this new land.

Many of the people of Allornus, especially the scions of the Ogiere, had suffered great loss in the shifting of earth, and falling of mountains and rising up of the seas called the Sundering, and with they and others like the Vargör there could be only war. Only the Dwarf-Giants had sensed the coming of the rage of the Divh, and they fled below the earth. When they finally emerged again they were not the proud and statuesque seafarers of legend, but hunched and pale and unaccustomed to the light of the outside world. However with their earthly-Divh at their sides the Myrnaműn could not match the Landsmen, and were driven back. Only the prolific Zard could not be overcome.

Today even the Divh have left their people, leaving only their eldest Haederas to minister and guide his own people the Haedrasians, greatest Empire of Allornus, and he is old and tired and seldom stirs. However the dominance of the Landsmen on Allornus was long since set in stone, and the Beastmen are now few, or else enslaved like the Vargör, or a primal and savage shadow of their former height like the Urgrol. Many have forgotten their ancestral way of life, and come to live amongst the Landsmen. I weep at what my ancestors have unknowingly wrought upon the first masters of Allornus.

The Divhidre

The story of existence is essentially that of upstart reality expanding into the black eternity of entropy. The continual encroachment of that which is into that which is not.

In the beginning there were the Divhidre - seven beings of impossible antiquity, unfathomably alien and incomprehensibly powerful. But they sought to understand the limits of their infinite power, not understanding that only in the act of seeking those limits were any imposed. They created a disc, and into that disc they imbued reality. And for the first time something WAS. And around the edges of that disc reality began to spread like a disease, in the chaotic, shifting flux that would come to be known as the Shadow world - the ragged hem of expanding reality.

Quickly they learned their folly, but they feared to unmake that which was, because the implication that something could exist raised the question as to whether they now too existed. And presently on the disc there appeared, in turn, capricious living things of immense power, who shaped the disc by their whims. These were the primordeal Divh - the elementals. Jealous and fearful, the Divhidre bent their power against the world - the warping, corrupting, impossible force that we know now as magic. And with their magic, they slew the bodies of the elementals. But they found that their souls could not be slain, and reluctant to unmake even the tiniest thing as they were, they were forced to imprison the elementals WITHIN the disc that was, and the world became their corpus, and their now-vengeful imprisoned souls shaped it into diversity.

The World, and the Shadow

While Allornus might be alone amongst an endless ocean, its nature is not solitary but dual. All men know the land into which they pass in their dreams, where they will ultimately be tried upon their death, a disjointed memory of the waking world, a shadow of reality, it goes by many names but the most popular by far is the Shadow World. Even those who have mastered the art of passing between worlds at their leisure, and there are a mere handful of these in all the world, are not privy to all of the secrets of this place, but what is known is strange and seems to hold some elusive and tantalizing truth that no scholar nor layman can either put into words, or quite forget. Without even knowing it our awareness of that other world permeates our lives.

The shadow world is a place of spirits, both those long dead and those who never lived. Forests and rivers and the spirits of the land itself dwell on the fringe of this world, looking out into the waking world like one might peer into a looking glass. Aware, and able to reach out and touch this world, but never truly in it. When one passes into the shadow world time and space have no meaning. A dreamer might wander for a thousand years then awake to find that he had moved barely an inch, and only mere hours had passed. The rules of the physical world have neither meaning nor sway.

However while most of us only glimpse the shadow world in our dreams or on the periphery of our vision every now and again, or when its inhabitants can push their faces against the glass of the waking world in certain hallowed and sacred places, some can and have visited the place in their waking bodies. Whether by design, or far more often by mere ill fortune, occasiuonally a traveller will pass a day, a week, a month or even longer in the shadow world. The place is subtle, and sometimes one will not even recognize the experience for what it was. Often however, like the sleeper at the end of his life, these tresspassers never return. But unlike the passiage that eventually comes to all of us, these tresspassers do not leave their earthly bodies and possessions behind them. They merely vanish forever, sometimes appearing in the dreams of those they were close to one last time, as if trying to escape. If you have ever been unfortunate enough to encounter one of these lost souls while dreaming however, you will understand the absolute certainty that the dreamer has that the trespasser will never escape.

The Legacy of the Elementals

This division of body and spirit, of physical and spiritual worlds is said to be the legacy of the first living creatures that shaped the world into what it is. The old histories passed down from father to son through uncountable generations all have a single germ of similarity, and that is the story of the Divh and the Elementals. The Creator, mightiest of the Divh, brought the world into being, and spontaneously upon the world were born the eight elements; Fire, Earth, Air, Water, Life, Death, Darkness and Light. And the elements took form, and became living, self-aware things. Pure spirit and energy manifest into the world.

Eventually in an effort to bind these beings of raw power to their will the Divh separated the world in two, a world of spirit and a world of matter and energy, and the elementals were torn in two, as their souls and their bodies became unable to exist as a whole. Then the Divh crafted the Beast Races and then the Landsmen to be insulating vessels for souls, but the soul would always try to escape the body, and eventually the body would be unable to contain the soul any more and it would pass into the shadow world, to eventually rejoin it’s patron Divhi.

However every now and then the spirit of an elemental will creep into the body of a living thing along with its own soul. We call these individuals the Gifted, and they have unmatched power over the world around them, they can channel some of the raw, unchecked power of the elementals of old. Perhaps it is not surprising then that these are the individuals who have most prominently shaped the destiny of their peoples. The gifted figure in our histories, and their power has led many men to learn that the natural laws of the world can not only be understood and manipulated, but that by channelling certain forces in emulation of the gifted these laws can be broken outright, if only for a moment.

Thus the cryptic force known as magic was born into the world. However if even the normal, natural spirit of a living being will eventually destroy him, so the forces that the gifted and their emulators channel are intensely dangerous. Mind, body and soul are usually forever damaged beyond repair if the practice is pursued. Worse still the knowledge is guarded jealously, and much of the lore that is available to aspiring magicians is incomplete. In short while a magician can wield the power of a Divhi, it is almost certain to devastate every part of his being in a manner far more dreadful than mere death.

An Introduction to the World of Allornus
Chapter 1 Chapter 2 Chapter 3 Chapter 4