© 2000-2001 Imminent Storm of TWZ
The story I am to tell you takes place in the land of Leretia. The land is home to many peoples, of which humans are but the latest to arrive. Before I can tell you this story, you must know of the other peoples, as well as several other things. All the things I am going to tell you are only what is known and believed by Human and Dwarf scholars, it must be made known that there are inaccuracies and great gaps in their body of knowledge.
First I will tell you of the Six Races of intelligent beings, besides humans, that call Leretia home.
The Dragons appeared first. There are three different types of Dragon each with its own sub-types, but all share similar characteristics. They are reptilian creatures, but are warm-blooded. Dragon scales are extremely tough, only the strongest and most well crafted weapons can cut them. All Dragons are carnivorous as well. They all posses large leathery wings that they keep folded across their backs when on the ground. They are all extremely intelligent. Dragons also have an enormously complex vocal system that includes a larynx and nasal resonance chamber; these are used in their spoken language, which no human can replicate. They can very easily mimic human speech however, and some have learned the human language, especially those dragons that live near the Human Kingdom of Tohin.
All Dragon groups, called "clans" by the humans, posses a strong social order with a head Dragon, called a Bahamut1 in the Human tongue. As far as social interactions with other intelligent races go, Dragons are usually not hostile. However, a clan treats its territory as sacred. Anyone caught in their territory engaging in acts that violate that sanctity is punished, usually fatally. This was a point of major contention between the Dragons and humans early on. Mutual understanding has now lessened those problems, but some tension still remains.
The three types of Dragon are called by their coloration, Red Dragons, Green Dragons, and Blue Dragons. Red Dragons come in two sub-types, each also called by their coloring: Crimson, and Ruby. Crimson Dragons have much brighter scales than their Ruby cousins, and there are other differences. Crimsons are smaller than the Rubies, about 10 feet tall and 20 feet long on average, with an average wingspan of 25 feet. They have shorter necks, but long, thin heads. Crimson Dragons usually form large clans with maybe an entire family acting as Bahamuts. Ruby Dragons, on the other hand, are much larger than Crimsons. They are 20 feet tall and 30 to 40 feet long on average, and have a huge wingspan of 50 feet or more. Rubies have a dark, deep red color with pale yellow underside scales. Their necks are longer proportionally, and they have larger, blunter, and wider heads. Ruby Dragon clans are usually small, consisting of individual adults, and families with only young offspring. All Red Dragons are capable of producing fire breath. The actual means by which they do this is still unknown.
Green Dragons come in three different types, named for their relative size, small, medium, and large. All Green Dragons have the same coloring, behavior patterns, and social structure. Some Green Dragon clans are made up of all three types. Green Dragons do not posses the fire breath ability, but rather they are able to create a mixture of powerful toxins that they exhale. They can even vary the effects of the toxins from simple noxious fumes that function similar to a skunk's spray, to powerful tranquilizers that can knock out even the largest animals in seconds, to incredibly lethal ones that can kill with only the slightest exposure. They have no set clan size; some have been seen with as few as five individuals and as large as fifty. As for the differences between the types, there are more than just the sizes. Small Green Dragons are only 5 feet tall, 10 feet long, and have a 15-foot wingspan. They can be easily distinguished from juvenile Green Dragons by their unique ridge of small upright triangular yellow scales that runs from their snout to tail. Mediums are the same size as Crimson Dragons. They have a set of rear-facing horns that come off the backs of their heads. Large Green Dragons are about the same size as Ruby Dragons, perhaps a little bigger. They posses no ornamental features.
Blue Dragons are the exception to the rule, there is only one type. Blue Dragons are swimmers, and are colored a dark blue on top, gradually fading to a pale blue underside. They cannot produce fire or toxins. They rather have a highly developed echolocation system, similar to dolphins and whales. They are small, only 5 to 10 feet tall when standing on land, 20 feet long, and have a 20-foot wing span. Their wings are unique though, they are tough enough to also act as "flippers" for under water bursts of speed. Normally they use a set of large, thin, upright scales at the end of their tails to propel themselves underwater. They can and do fly as well.
Now that you have some background on Dragons, I can tell you about the next peoples to appear in Leretia, the Elves, Dwarves, Orcs, Cyclopses, Minotaurs, and finally Humans.
Little is known about the Elves, as they are far more reclusive than Dragons. They live in the forests in the north of Leretia, and have founded a city there, Ab'Dendriel. Some travelers have managed to get close enough to the city to say that they saw massive structures built around, and even in the canopies of the trees there. Their stories are widely regarded as lies or tall tails. Elves have at times had dealings with Humans, but only when common adversity lead them to cooperation. There are some elves who have opted to live outside of Ab'Dendriel. They primarily travel the continent in small groups. Very few of these have chosen to live with humans. None ever talk of Ab'Dendriel. Elves are expert archers, as well as powerful mages. They are not very warlike and primarily use their skills for defense.
Next to appear were the Dwarves. They look much like humans, only half as tall. They are subterranean dwellers and miners. As far as their legends go, they first arrived in Leretia while looking for wealth under the earth. That is when they found the mountain they call in their language, "The Big Old One," or Mount Veir by the Humans. They live in a vast underground city called Kazordoon, built under Mount Veir. They are generally hospitable to humans, unless you try to enter their mines uninvited, or pilfer their ore, then they become extremely hostile. Dwarf traders regularly sell their refined metals and raw ores: iron, gold, and silver to the human nations. The most prized metal mined by the dwarves is Mythril. Weapons and armors made from it are virtually indestructible. It is even said that mythril weapons can cut through Dragon scales with no trouble at all. Dwarves are masters of the axe and crossbow. Their soldiers are the most skilled crossbowmen in all of Leretia. The guards that defend their mines are said to be able to wield their battle-axes with skill and speed unmatched by any other warriors.
The next three arrivals to the Island Continent of Leretia were not of such a good disposition. The first of the "trouble makers" as the dwarves call them in their language were the Orcs. Orcs are about the same size and shape of humans, but they have thick, greenish brown skin and feral faces. They are mostly subterranean dwellers, but can and do live on the surface as well. The Orcs have a caste structure to their society. The members of the lowest caste are called "Grunts." They are very slow-witted and not very strong, but there are lots of them; they make up most of the Orc population. The next caste up is occupied by "Warriors", these are strong fighters but only slightly more intelligent than the Grunts. One step up from the Warriors are the "Berserkers" and the "Shamans". Berserkers are extremely good fighters, usually using glaives, spears, and halberds; they are the elite of the Orc fighters. Shamans are the Orc equivalent to human mages. They posses incredible energy manipulation skills. There is believed to be another level above that of the Berserkers and the Shamans. These are believed to be the top leaders amongst the Orcs. But it is unknown if they even exist, let alone what power or intelligence they may posses.
Orcs have a long history of hostility with the other races, and even with themselves. Orcs are grouped into tribes and it is common for these tribes to wage war with one another. The only know instance of widespread cooperation between numerous tribes was during the Great Orc war between the Humans and the Orcs. The only race that hate the Orcs more than the Humans is the Dragons. This came about because some of the tribes actively hunted Dragons for sport as part of their religious rites. Even though not all tribes did this, it was enough to cause the Dragons to despise the Orc race as a whole.
The largest concentration of Orcs has always been on the northern peninsula of Ulderek's rock. On that peninsula is a huge stone fortress/city that is actually just the entrance into a great underground complex of caves and tunnels. The Humans call that Fortress, unimaginatively, "Orc Fortress."
A race of creatures, though not very intelligent, came along with the Orcs. Orcs brought Cyclopses with them and used them as slave labor to build the Orc Fortress, and other strongholds. After the Great Orc War between the Orcs and Humans, many Cyclopses have become free and roam the land like nomads. They are huge, 10 feet tall or larger, and as the name suggests, they have only one eye centered on their foreheads. They have a rudimentary spoken language, and little to no technology. However they do raid towns and villages occasionally and they do horde gold and valuables. But they are powerful fighters and many foolhardy men have died trying to raid Cyclops camps.
The Minotaurs arrived not long after the Orcs. Less is known about the Minotaurs than even the Elves. The only account of their existence comes from stories told by the Elves, Dwarves, and Dragons. What can be said about them is that before the humans arrived the Minotaurs came and waged war against all the races then living in Leretia. They were a bit larger than the elves or Orcs, about 7 feet or so tall. The stories told by the Dwarves tell of the Minotaur's skill with the double-bladed battle-axe and the crossbow. The Elves and Dragons describe them as also having a powerful force of mages as well. From all accounts it seems that the Minotaurs managed to penetrate Kazordoon down to the first level of the mines. They also laid siege to Ab'Dendriel but a joint force of Elves and Dragons managed to beat them back. Details regarding the war are sparse, but according to the Elves, the Minotaurs were never fully destroyed. They remain in the Nirod Mountains, contained by Dragons clans who swore to prevent them from ever escaping.
The most recent race to journey to Leretia has been the Humans. And when I say most recent, the Human arrival was a good three thousand years ago. The exact origins of the first settlers are forgotten. Currently there are three human kingdoms: Thinis, Carlinia, and Tohin. Thinis occupies the south of the continent of Leretia, and has its capital at the city of Thais. Carlinia occupies the Northwest of Leretia, with its capital at the city of Carlin. Tohin is located on an island off the East Coast of Leretia, and has its capital at the port city of Edron. The humans have had a checkered history of relations with the other races, especially the Dragons. The Dwarves, however, have always strived to maintain good relations with the Humans. There are even some Humans that have become citizens of Kazordoon. The Humans prize the gold and excellent metal ores mined by the dwarves. Conversely, the dwarves prize the fine metal goods produced by human blacksmiths, in the form of mining tools, and weapons.
As was mentioned before, the Humans engaged in a war with the Orcs. The relationship between the Orcs and Humans has always been strained. The war finally brought the full wrath and hatred of the Humans upon the Orcs. The Orcs too were so humiliated by their defeat that they bear a great grudge against the humans down to this very day.
There was also a great war between the major Human Kingdoms in recent years. This war will be described in detail later.
I have mentioned it a few times already, but let me briefly explain the concept of "Magic." Individuals referred to as "Mages" wield magic. The races that have produced mages are Humans, Elves, Orcs, and Minotaurs. A mage can harness the very energy of life itself and project it for good, or ill. Some mages can amplify their life energy and use it to control the elements of nature: wind, fire, water, rock, and lightning. However, such control requires great skill and not all mages can do this. So far only very skilled humans and Elf mages have been reported to control the elements. Mostly, mages can concentrate their energy and manipulate it. This energy can heal the wounded. It can also be fired in intense packets or beams that can cause great destruction.
Now that you know a little about the people of Leretia, perhaps some geography is in order. Leretia is a large island continent. Here is a rough map that gives you the general locations of the places I have talked about.
Now I'll tell you the history as known. Dates are referred to by Human reckoning. "BA" refers to "Before Arrival," the Human arrival. "AA" refers to "After Arrival." Most dates and events are known only in legend, where specific records do exist, more detail will be provided.
|6000 BA -||First Dragons appear.|
|5500 BA -||Elves appear.|
|5000 BA -||Great Dark War. A war that appears only in Elvish legend. No one knows who the war was against or why it was fought.|
|3000 BA -||Dwarvish ships land on the shores of the future Thinis Harbor.|
|2972 BA -||According to Dwarf history, the date of the founding of Kazordoon.|
|2000 BA -||Orcs arrive. Cyclopses are brought in for labor. Internal power struggles cause the Orcs to split up and spread across Leretia. Immediate conflict with the other races ensues. Thus begins the long history of Orc hostilities.|
|1800 BA -||Minotaurs invade. War begins. Minotaurs lay siege to Kazordoon and penetrate to the first level of mines. Alliance between Dragons and Elves defeat Minotaur attack on Ab'Dendriel. The Minotaurs are defeated and forced to retreat into the heavily wooded Nirod Mountains.|
|1799 BA -||Minotaurs driven back and forced into hiding in the caves of the Nirod Mountains. Nirod Mountains put under intense guard by several Dragon clans. Rumors of a Minotaur City being built fall into legend. The area remains guarded and no travelers are allowed in to this day.|
|1 AA -||First Human Settlement|
|100 AA -||Conflict with the Dragons breaks out over territory.|
|500 AA -||Long feud between the Humans and Dragons settled through Dwarf intermediaries. However, while all out war is averted, hostile feelings still remain. First trade agreement between Dwarves and Humans. City of Thais founded.|
|700 AA -||Settlers from Thais found the city of Carlin. First contact with the Elves made. Uneasy relations with the Elves formed. First run-in between Orcs and Humans.|
|1000 AA -||Carlin gains independence from Thais in bloody civil war, Kingdom of Carlinia formed.|
|1200 AA -||Settlers found the city of Edron on the island of Tohin, proclaim sovereignty and form Tohinian Kingdom.|
|1600 AA -||King Himli comes to power in Thais. His diplomatic skill leads to the creation of the first peace treaties between the three kingdoms. Problems with the Orcs continue to increase.|
|2100 AA -||Great Orc War Begins. Orcs from Orc Fortress ally with several other Orc bands and form a huge army. Orcs launch attack against Carlin and lay siege to the city. A second Orc army marches south through the Forith pass to attack Thais. Orc Army is checked by a Dwarf force. Thinite reinforcements arrive and the battle of Forith begins. Orcs attempted to attack the smaller Dwarf/Human army through the narrow pass. But excellent defensive strategy allowed the Dwarf/Human force to withstand the attacks and decimate the Orc army. Joint Dwarf/Human army marches north and attacks the Orc army that is laying siege to Carlin. The army surprised the Orcs and was able to break through the blockade and reach the city of Carlin. The Thinite and Carlinian armies joined forces along with the dwarves and launched an attack against the remaining Orc forces. The Orcs retreated in disorder to the north. The allied army attacked the regrouping Orcs on the fields that would be later known as the "Fields of Glory." The Orc army fought hard but was eventually defeated.|
|2101 AA -||Great Orc War continues. The Allied army, now joined by a small force of Elf mages, archers, and other warriors launched an attack against the Orc Fortress. The initial attempt to take the fortress by storm failed. So did the second. The allied force settled into a long siege. The Orcs attempted to counter-attack several times but were thrown back. The war became a stalemate.|
|2102 AA -||Offensive operations against the Orc Fortress end. The Great Orc War ends. Permanent Defensive positions are constructed along the narrow section of land that connects the peninsula of Ulderek's Rock to the mainland. Orc groups throughout Leretia are hunted down and annihilated. Orcs outside of Orc Fortress cease to exist. Cyclopses begin to appear in roaming camps, free of their Orc masters. A long, but relative, peace settles over the land. Relations between Dragons and Humans steadily improve.|
|3000 AA -||Complacency has left the defenses guarding the Orc Fortress in disrepair. Guard staff are untrained or non-existent. Small bands of Orcs begin to re-appear all over Leretia. This goes largely unnoticed by the human leaders.|
|3234 AA -||The Rothe family gains power in Carlinia. The ruthless and ambitious Gallor Rothe takes the throne and begins building an army. Relations with Thinis and Tohin begin to deteriorate.|
The true beginning of this story starts here. In 3240 AA, King Gallor Rothe launches a war of aggression against the Dwarves of Kazordoon, and the Kingdom of Thinis. What ensues is the largest war since the Great Orc War. No one really knows for sure why he did it. Some speculate that he was after the gold and metal ores of Kazordoon. Since he knew that Thinis would support their Dwarf allies, he decided to also launch a preemptive strike against Thinis as well. But we may never really know since after his defeat, he killed himself. But I'm getting ahead of myself.
The war was long and bloody, it lasted four years. The final battle was a landmark in the history of Leretia. Dwarves and humans were once again fighting side-by-side on the Fields of Glory. But this time their enemy wasn't Orcs, it was the remaining forces of King Gallor Rothe. The Thinite/Dwarf army was reinforced by troops landed on Leretia's north shore, at the town of Ostia, by the Tohinians. With them came a force of Red Dragons and Green Dragons from the Island of Tohin. The Blue Dragons had fought alongside the Tohinian Navy when Rothe tried to invade the island. The Tohinians had an excellent relationship with the Dragons living on Tohin. In fact, when Tohinian Dragons referred to the City of Edron, they used the same wording that in their language refers to a neighbor Dragon clan. King Rothe's history with Dragons, on the other hand, was not so good. During the war, his troops had attacked quite a few clans and killed several Dragons.
The Battle of Glory, as it came to be known after the war, went on for the entire day, then the entire next day too. The battle lasted for three days as Carlinian forces executed a brilliant fighting withdraw. The third day saw the heaviest fighting. Both sides suffered enormous loses. Then, just as the sun was setting on the third day, a messenger came to the Carlinian Army Commanders. There had been a coup d'etas and the King was dead, stabbed himself with his own sword. The Carlinian army, or what was left of it, surrendered. There would be a new Government ruled by a Queen, Alea Doth.
If you had been walking on the battlefield that evening, you would have seen what might have looked like an odd sight. A young Tohinian soldier, only 14 or 15 years old could be seen, with tears in his eyes, standing over the body of a dead small Green Dragon. The Dragon had been pierced by three Mythril tipped arrows. The young boy fell to his knees and wrapped his arms around the Dragon. Two larger Dragons, a Ruby and a Medium Green, landed nearby and walked over to the boy and the dead Dragon. The boy stood immediately, drew his sword, a Mythril bladed Katana you would have noticed if you were close enough, quite a sword for one so young. He saluted the two Dragons with his sword in the standard salute of the Tohinian army; he then sheathed the sword. The two Dragons appeared to say something to the boy. He hung his head and stepped back from the body. The Green Dragon took the little Dragon in its front arms and flew off. The Ruby Dragon, limping because of two mythril tipped arrows in its left rear leg, approached the boy and said something. The boy looked up, nodded, and ran off towards the army's base camp.
Historians have commented that the Battle of Glory, more than any other event in history, solidified the friendship of the Thinite and Tohinian peoples with the Dragons of Leretia.
Five peaceful years have passed since that day, and our story begins with that young boy, not so young anymore. It's a bright and sunny mid spring day in the City of Edron. And everything is about to change.
1 - The term Bahamut is a rough human approximation of the Dragon word used to identify the clan leader. Dragons who have learned to speak the Human tongue have adopted this word as well. (Back)