The following texts were discovered in the tomb of Saint Orlianis and are considered part of the Lost Loggias of Solomon. These texts are believed the be Heretical by the Alkavian Church and have been kept secret, the different chapters scattered around the world and some kept within the vaults of Tol Rauko. Unknown to the Church however, a complete copy of these texts are in the hands of a secret group known as the Sons of Orlianis.
Why do we forget?
Every time I begin to tell this story, our story, that question always comes to my mind. And still today, at the doorway to a new millennium, I am still incapable of an answer.
We lost everything. In an instance, what was ours was snatched away, drowning us in the darkness of our own knowledge. Like tears forgotten in the vast ocean of history, we advanced through a path of uncertainty, ignorant of our condition, while the world that we had created collapsed around us.
Was that our sentence?
Or our salvation?
The Age of Chaos
From the perspective of man, everything in respect to history before the coming of the Messiah is rather confusing and vague. The Church and Tol Rauko resolved those issues in their own way, hiding or destroying the information that they did not wish to be leaked to the public. In spite of everything, be it by oral tradition or the meticulous and secretive work of historians, there are still some fragments remaining from previous eras that are preserved.
The beginning of the time period known as The Age of Chaos has some uncertain origins. If most sources determine that its beginning was a result of an apocalyptic conflict, referred to as the War of Darkness, then there are very few testimonies of anything that traces back more than ten thousand years before the arrival of the Messiah. We can only assert that this cycle was extremely long, and saw the rise and fall of great empires. In fact, many of the cultures that exist nowadays in Gaia germinated during these centuries.
Honoring its name, it was a chaotic age, full of inexplicable wonders as much as horrors. During that time man walked alongside what we might today consider fairy tale beings. Each population forged its own legends of the end of this era, like myths of Holst in the deserts of the north, the revelations of Eyad in the burning sands of the deserts or the disappearance of the Eternal Emperor in distant Varja.
Nevertheless, those are stories for a separate occasion.
It was then, at that time of confusion and chaos, when somebody appeared and changed everything. From the shadows of our own history a young man arose who would show us a new destiny undreamt of; a simple boy who, with time, would cause the very pillars of the world to stagger. He was of humble beginnings, but even the greatest kings and emperors would bow before him. Today he is called by many names, like the Illuminated One, King of Kings or Son of Alkavir, but the first by which he was known was Abel.
Although there are countless ecclesiastical controversies on his childhood, which remains shrouded in mystery, the first known fact in Gaia regarding Abel was that he lived in a small village in a region currently known as the Dominion. At that time, the whole territory was surrounded by constant war, being only natural that various lords would dispute the control of towns and cities. That day, the village of Netzath was under attack by a minor military company that had no other intention than to sack the town and capture it. Abel appeared in the heat of battle, slowly walking towards the proud captain of the soldiers. Nobody raised their arms against him; they were incapable of doing so. Once before the captain, the little one, who was barely ten years old, calmly smiled. The first words that they would hear him say and those which he would pass on to history would be: “Today a new age begins.” Next he spoke with the innocence of a boy and the wisdom of an old man, and none of the soldiers could turn his attention from him.
The captain was overwhelmed and when he discovered that the child was nothing more than a mere wandering vagabond, he decided to follow him wherever it may take him, even to the depths of hell itself. That man would be the first of his disciples, and when the moment arrived, also the first of his Apostles: Ezekyle Hawke.
Abel traveled from one side of the world to the other, spreading his word to all countries. Everywhere he went, people abandoned their conflicts in favor of common goals, following the lessons of an unknown God until then, a God of all things that granted the people power over life and death. Alkavir.
His philosophy had no room for either magic or the supernatural, which he considered to be the root of all evils humanity had suffered up to that point. If man wanted salvation, he had to return to his origins, before unfamiliar forces invaded his life. Thus, wizards, spirits and other supernatural creatures saw how a creed that only rejected them now rose against them with an alarming force that they had never imagined. For that reason, when he had just turned sixteen, some of his detractors decided to finish all the problems that Abel was causing them, taking advantage of the fact that he had arranged a sermon before a great crowd in the city of Ilion. The attack was orchestrated by the Order of Yehudah, a power convinced that those who benefited from the Gift were the legitimate rulers of the world. Its objective was not only the assassination of Abel; but a rowdy demonstration to prove to everyone where the true power resided. However, the wizard lords never would have imagined what the outcome was going to be. That night, Abel would teach us that Alkavir brought not only love and mercy, but also just punishment and revenge. When the arch mages manifested before the crowd and began their brutal show of force, the young one gathered a fallen soldier’s sword from the ground and advanced towards the wizards with tears in his eyes.
Poor fools. In a certain way, I feel pity for them.
They never understood what they faced.
The Wars of the Cross
Following those events, Abel’s passive nature receded. He gathered his closest followers, whom he granted the title of Apostles, and explained to them that the moment to change the order of the world forever had arrived. Thus he initiated a crusade in the name of unification, gathering us all under a single flag, a single dream and the same heaven.
And the Wars of the Cross began.
Kingdoms and entire nations surrendered before him, lords of war and emperors turned over their weapons and stately crowns, all fascinated by the overwhelming figure of Abel. And those who refused, were subjugated by the force of an army that was compelled by the vigor of faith. Sometimes, the monarchs who were unwilling to follow his rules found themselves fighting with their own rebellious subjects, who rose against them complying with the lessons of The Savior. Throughout the years, Abel moved forward with his dream, uniting all the nations of humanity. Only the Empire of Solomon, long ago the greatest power of mankind, refused to waver and managed to resist the reformation of heaven’s chosen one, who ignored them for a time, favoring other principalities.
After the years, the religious unification was regarded with disdain by the deities that are known today as the False Idols, and some of them decided to take an active role in the matter. At the doors of the Peak of the World, Abel personally faced Fenrisulf, a living God that had manifested himself in the world at full power. Tradition and the Church have called that entity “The Great Beast”, which perhaps was not entirely inappropriate. Against all prognoses, Abel destroyed the deity, spilling the blood of a God with his own hands. At that moment Saulo, high priest of the False Idols, dipped into the blood of Fenrisulf and marked Abel’s forehead with a cross. Thus the name of “Christ” would be given to him, which means the Anointed One, and from henceforth all would understand that he was the son of Alkavir.
After that act of power, the world became aware that man found himself in a time of apogee once again and, for the first time in a long time, humanity again took center stage over all other races. Ambassadors of several cultures tried to make contact with Abel but their only answer was a closed border separating mankind from everyone else. The empire of Sylvanus accepted grudgingly, since they had no desire to openly start a war, and the Jayan tribes in human territories were expelled by force. The remaining races, ethnic groups and cultures gradually followed suit, forgetting man and his matters. Only the citizens of the shadows posed a true threat. In spite of merely having a fraction of the power that they had years before, the Duk´zarist were a force to be reckoned with. Their pride would never allow them to accept denied passage to any place.
But, once again, Abel did something that nobody would have predicted. Completely alone he entered Khronos, the floating capital of the Duk´zarist, where no human had previously set foot on without receiving an invitation. While everyone stood in shock, he walked through the very doors of the dark palace and demanded to see the empress Phometeum Noah. His audacity piqued the curiosity of the Mistress of Khronos, who accepted a reception with the Messiah. Some say that, when she was with Abel, the Dark Empress saw the shadow of Alkavir behind him and trembled. I think that in reality, she felt as dazzled by his magnetism as everyone before her had, so the dark lady decided to give humanity an opportunity to prove their potential.
For one reason or another, she agreed not to take part in the matters of mankind and Abel then returned to his disciples, determined to finish the Kingdom of the Heavens. He was only twenty-eight years old.
He would not live to see twenty-nine.
The Kingdom of the Heavens
After securing his borders to the north, south and east, the attention of Abel and his Apostles was centered on the decadent Solomon. Its present governor, emperor Romulo, known for his despotic behavior and cruelty, had openly announced his rejection of the Messiah’s doctrines. The plebs supported him whole-heartedly, decadent and clinging to the old dreams of greatness they once had. Because of all this, it promised to be a difficult campaign, although nobody doubted the final outcome.
Shortly, and with less problems than expected, the armies of the Messiah managed to arrive at the outskirts of the capital of Solomon, setting camp just a few miles from its walls until daybreak. That night, Abel congregated with his Apostles and ate supper with them. Some say that they found him strange, and others say that he announced implicitly what was going to happen to him, although at that moment they did not understand it. When he finished, he met in private with Ezekyle and then with Iscariot, another of his close followers. The content of these conversations is completely ignored, but apparently, Iscariot told him that he wished to show him something. In silence, he led him to the Hill of Laments, where a garrison of Solomon’s soldiers were waiting to capture him. What happened in that place is cause for much speculation, although the most widely-held belief is that Abel let himself be caught without putting up any resistance. It is said that at that moment he shed a final tear for our destiny and that Iscariot kissed him on the cheek to dry it for him.
As payment, Romulo gave the traitor thirty pieces of metal as dark as a man’s heart.
Beware of anyone that possesses these, for our sins fall upon them. The following morning, Abel appeared crucified on the walls of Solomon, where he lay dying the night before during thirteen long hours. When he finally passed, the skies did not open and the earth did not shake. It did not rain blood, and there was no moment of silence in the firmament.
He simply died.
The Eleven Holy Kingdoms
Contrary to what Romulo and the leaders of Solomon thought, the death of the Messiah did not end his dream. After the treason of Iscariot, the eleven remaining Apostles took control of the army and in just a few hours collapsed the walls of the city, crushing all resistance. There was no mercy for those who had tortured and executed their lord. There, on the ruins of the capital, the eleven raised the tomb of the Messiah and met in what would be remembered as the first Holy Council. The Wars of the Cross were over, but now, without the figure of Abel to guide them, an uncertain future loomed ahead of them. Even so, the Apostles believed in the dream for which they had lived and fought for during a decade and it weighed strongly on their hearts, which is why they made an effort in keeping the dream alive.
The eleven began a long discussion that lasted several days; finally, they wound up exhausted and they had to rest. That night they dreamed about the Messiah, who explained to them that as of that moment his life’s work would fall into their hands. Upon awakening, they decided to divide the principalities of man into eleven parts and take the role of its leaders. Thus they would be able to carry on his destiny and maintain the stability that had cost them so much to reach. It would be the beginning of a new time known as the Era of the Holy Kingdoms. The world began to change and every man, woman and child could feel it.
Three years later, on the ruins of Solomon the city of Archangel was founded with the purpose of being the capital of humanity, while the Apostles declared the birth of the eleven kingdoms in their respective principalities. Thus began a long period of splendor, although certainly not one free of problems. Applying the doctrinal principles of Abel, the use of the supernatural was prohibited and the borders were closed to the other races of Gaia, with which man ceased all relationship with. Engrossed in their own matters, the other races did not give this act the importance that it deserved. On the other hand, the Apostle Janos Shetep could not wait to make good on his objective, since his obsession to take revenge on Iscariot made him abandon his kingdom. Kushistan thus became a serious problem for the territorial unity of man, and there would always be a great tension between the Enneath people and the Holy Kingdoms of the south.
With the passage of time, years after the death of the original Apostles, the Holy Kingdoms began to distance themselves from one another, even reaching the point of generating friction among them. They finished grouping into four large blocks that had completely forgotten the objective with which they were created. In a sad irony, the grand dreams and ideals of the past could not stop the nature of the human spirit.
And it was then, at the doors of disconnection, when the world would confront its darkest hour. Soon, everything that we knew would end up sinking into terrible of madness.
Given that between the shadows of our own history, a twelfth kingdom of man had formed.
The War of God
Rah Sith, the last descendant of the Apostle Iscariot, had secretly created an unknown power to all forces of the world, the Empire of Judas. How he managed to do it without anybody noticing is still a mystery, but its power was absolute. He possessed part of the lost technology of Solomon, which gave him complete superiority over the rest of the nations. Self-proclaimed Lord of the Rejected, all those that did not seem to have a place in the world rose up beside him. Wizards, summoners and a plethora of supernatural beings all joined him, united under the ideal to change Gaia forever. Nevertheless, those were not the only forces that he had at his disposal. Thanks to his knowledge of science, Rah created a multitude of new creatures by means of supernatural genetic manipulation, new races born with the sole purpose of being his weapons, to which primeval horrors and great beasts would join them. He had an army the likes of which had never been seen; even in the War of Darkness…
However, luring the young Duk´zarist empress Ark Noah to the stronghold of Tol Rauko was his most clever strategy yet. Ark Noah was the daughter of the deceased Phometeum, and under the false promise that his technology could find a cure for her people’s racial weakness towards metal, Rah made her a prisoner so as to force the Duk´zarist to support him in the conflict.
On the 13th of September of the year 223 Rah declared war on the world, and nobody was prepared for his arrival.
The first enclave to fall was the city of Acheon, the greatest metropolis of the era. In spite of its great technological achievements and powerful defenses, the large city was reduced to little more than ashes in less than a day. Hours later the hoards of Judas spread out throughout the coasts of the Inner Sea, creating a symphony of destruction. The Holy Kingdoms, preoccupied with their minor disputes, were incapable of properly responding to the onslaught and were devastated one after another. Three separate attempts were made to gather an army that could face them, but all three of them failed. Soon, the troops of Rah changed their objectives to diversify their conquest, also attacking the nonhuman powers and the old empires with deadly effectiveness. Realizing that Rah and his monsters represented a threat to the future of Gaia, the Sylvain nations led by emperor Taumiel Ul Sylvanus, decided to join the conflict. At first, they offered their aid to the remaining Holy Kingdoms, trying to sign a temporary alliance with them, but received a full out rejection in response. In spite of everything, seeing the plight of the Duk´zarist, they understood that they too would soon be targets of the offensive and being unable to halt the advance of Rah on their own, looked for the support of the powers that had fought together in the War of Darkness. The strength of the Sylvain produced a temporary swing in the situation and the forces of Rah finally began to experience defeats. Regardless, when the Duk´zarist citadels commenced their offensive, it was abundantly clear that the power of the elvish nations would be incapable of stemming the advance of Rah. Only six months after the beginning of the War of God, the Empire of Judas had had proven beyond a doubt that they were the true rulers of Gaia.
But, against all odds, one man rose above the rest and brought hope. Aeolus Hawke, the young descendent of the ancestry to Apostle Ezekyle, stood defiant against Rah in the conquered principalities. After a few months, what began as a simple revolt turned out to be the greatest threat for Judas’ domination. Armed with a natural talent for combat, a brilliant tactical mind and a charismatic leader, he was able to reunite the remaining forces of the Holy Kingdoms coordinating a series of fast and devastating strikes to the hordes of Rah. Even so, the absolute superiority of the forces of Judas continued to endure, which was why Aeolus made contact with the Sylvain nations and accepted the proposal offered by Taumiel. In spite of the great distance that separated them, both were able to create a true upset in the war when they combined their armies’ actions. The Empire of Judas began to lose ground and many of their forces were exterminated. When the floating Duk´zarist citadel of Ordos Xenos was destroyed, crashing into a chunk of Rah’s forces, all of Gaia realized that the outcome of the conflict hadn’t been as final as it was first believed to be.
The Arrival of Rah and the Conclave
The bitter moment of the war, one that would mark its first point of inflection, was the Battle of Ashes, when Rah realized that his armies were backing up and left the island of Tol Rauko to confront them personally with the Conclave, his most powerful agents. The Lord of Judas and his eight companions descended onto the middle of the battlefield before a combined force of more than five million men, Sylvain and other races commanded by Taumiel. The words that he pronounced when he spoke for the first time to the world would forever be etched in history.
“You are guilty. You are responsible for your own down fall. Do you not see it? As lambs you faithfully follow the ideals of a destiny that does not belong to you. Blind and chained, you have forgotten what it even means to be human.
Ready yourselves. The world will change, although we must stain it with blood for that. The hour has arrived for the God - that arrogantly we have created in our own image and likeness - to die. With our hands we will destroy the heavens.”
Afterwards he ordered his troops to withdraw, while just he and the Conclave advanced alone towards the armies of Taumiel and the Holy Kingdoms. In just a few minutes, the nine had already slaughtered a third of the allied forces…
When more than a third of his armies had been destroyed, and seeing that his adversaries were like living Gods, the lord of the Sylvain nations ordered the retreat. This was a blow much harder than anyone suspected, for many began to consider Rah more like a deity than as a mere man. After that battle, the members of the Conclave split the command of all the different forces of Judas, attacking every corner of the world in unison.
Only Aeolus and his armies continued to win their battles, making him the only person who could possibly stop Rah. Recognizing how threatening the young man was for him and his objectives, the Lord of Judas ordered the eight members of the Conclave to find Aeolus and to destroy him at whatever cost.
After several confrontations that put him on the verge of dying, Aeolus would end up being intercepted by Edil Sith, the adoptive daughter of Rah and member of the Conclave. Both became involved in a terribly personal foray, during which the young girl unleashed several powers against him. In the climax of the duel, Edil invoked the Dark Aeon Tawil Ay-U’mr, the Lord of the Gates, attempting to drag her antagonist towards the infinite nothing. But Khaiel Sith, the Conclave leader, had been watching the fight secretly from the shadows. Khaiel took advantage of the situation trying to destroy both of them simultaneously, triggering a holocaust of pure destruction that did not leave a sign of either of them.
During the following months, the forces of Judas, headed by Khaiel and the remaining Conclave members, continued their war with deadly effectiveness. Soon they completely undid all the accomplishments that Aeolus Hawke had achieved the year before. With a majority of the Old Continent in their power, they extended to principalities beyond the oceans, reaching first Varja and later Khalis and Lunaris, where they continued their assault. The feeble alliance that was forged against Rah began to waver as emperor Taumiel saw himself unable to do anything other than defend himself the best he could. Little by little, hope began to smother under the terrible weight of cruel reality.
Once again, the destiny of Gaia seemed to be decided.
But there was still more blood to spill…
Terminus and the End of the World
After spending months missing when all believed him dead already, Aeolus suddenly returned to put himself at the forefront of his remaining armies. With renewed forces, he once again turned the tide of the war, reconquering the central area of the Old Continent, and even defeating several members of the Conclave. With blood, sweat and tears, he managed to arrive onto the plains of Terminus, where he gathered all the remaining forces of the alliance. Taumiel and the other leaders of Gaia’s great kingdoms and powers congregated to his call, as well as some dragons and other ancient beasts. In front of them stood the formidable armies of Judas, the most powerful army in history. The greatest battle that the world would ever be witness to was on the verge of exploding, a battle in which everyone was certain that Rah would stand victorious.
But something happened that foiled the Lord Judas’ plans. While he prepared himself for the final confrontation, a Duk´zarist calling himself Larvae was able to infiltrate Tol Rauko’s security and reach the location where Ark Noah was being held prisoner. How he managed it is unknown, as was the frightful discovery that he found in the depths of the stronghold. There stood an immense machine created with the technology of the Lost Loggias of Solomon, a massive artifact that fed on the souls of all the victims of the war, channeling its power towards an unknown result. Hundreds of miles away, Rah sensed that somebody had breached the watertight caverns of the Tol Rauko and returned to the stronghold, hours before the battle of Terminus began. Thus, Rah and Aeolus would never get to meet face to face, and the ironic destiny continued its course in a way that even the heavens could not foresee.
When more than twenty million opponents threw themselves against each other, the fields were flooded with blood. Over the course of several days a war of epic proportions raged on, although after the first round, the superiority of the forces of Judas was already clear. Hopelessly, the armies of Aeolus still marched forward. It had been such a long time that they no longer fought for ideals, creeds or revenge.
But… What else was left to them?
However, before the end of the second day, when the end of the conflict seemed imminent, the news of Noah’s liberation reached the forces of the Duk´zarist giving way to a surprisingly turn of events. When discovering the reason they had been forced to participate in the war, something that was kept secret from the darklings, they withdrew from the positions they were holding until then, devastating all the forces of Judas that stood in their way. That provided the long awaited opportunity that Aeolus and his allies needed, and the young general did not let it escape. With everything he had left, he threw himself against the broken and divided forces of Judas. At sunset of the third day, the armies of Rah were forced to retreat and wait for an opportunity to regroup, an opportunity that would never come. Without losing a second, Aeolus advanced through the uncultivated farmlands devastated by the war up to the Coast of Yearnings, where he sailed his remaining troops to the heart of the Inner Sea so that he could finally destroy the War of God at its source once and for all.
And far away, in Tol Rauko, Rah realized that everything had come to an end. The world that he wanted to save rejected the “liberation” that he offered it. Thus, being a prisoner of that bitter irony, he committed the greatest of atrocities.
If he could not save the world, then he would destroy it.
Before Aeolus could arrive at the stronghold, Rah descended into the bowels of the earth, where he started up the machine that he had been constructing. At the moment of its activation, a deluge of power without equal struck Gaia, creating a terrible distortion that devastated the physical plane as much as the spiritual one. Today we still do not know the full consequences or the purpose of the machine, but from that moment on everything changed.
The truth is, the world ended that day.
Only we did not realize it.
The Dark Day After
Rah, being physically connected with the machine during its activation was swept from existence, which marked the end of the conflict that had sunk Gaia into desperation for the last three years. However, with hundreds of millions dead and several civilizations extinct, nobody dared call it a victory. Two entire continents disappeared, erased by the power that the Lord of Judas had triggered in his madness; more than half of the world as we knew it ceased to exist… And those were not the only consequences that Rah’s machine had wrought. It had destroyed the very basis of supernatural essence in Gaia, thus leading to the death of magical entities. Many of the oldest and most powerful creatures, like the dragons or titans, were forced into hibernation, while other mystical races like the Sylvain or the Daimah felt that they lacked something that was as vital to them as the air they breathed.
What little was left of Gaïa found itself in the darkest of chaos. The Holy Kingdoms and most of the nonhuman nations were no more than a vague memory, while pillagers, beasts and nameless horrors destroyed whatever got in their way. Racial hatred between the different populations had reached unfathomable levels, and the different races killed each other without the slightest provocation. In that withered, desolated world, the survivors of the holocaust asked themselves if there was any reason to continue living.
In that moment of declivity, Aeolus Hawke, still commanding the remaining forces of the Alliance, requested the support of emperor Taumiel Ul Sylvanus to try and create a new order. Unfortunately, the High Lord rejected his offer and withdrew with his diminished armies to garrison what was left of the elvish nations after the disappearance of the Sylvain’s main continent of Khalis. Despite practically being alone, Aeolus tried to bring peace in times of chaos and death to all injustices within his reach. He killed off the plunderers with whom he crossed paths with, allowing those that surrendered to join his crusade. Soon, countless abandoned people followed, seeing within him the only light that still shone in an era of darkness.
When Aeolus arrived at the ruins of Archangel months later, he ordered the reconstruction of the city while he began to try and bring order to other lands. At each territory that he incorporated was granted the title of Abel and, without realizing it, he created the roots of what would become the most important empire in Gaia. During the first years, Aeolus tried to maintain an open and permissive mentality towards the supernatural, trying to designate a home within Abel for the nonhuman ethnic groups and the wizards. Unfortunately, interracial hatred and fear towards magic proved to be too deep, and many battles erupted making coexistence complicated. The situation became volatile when a group of wizards, who had proclaimed themselves the heirs of Yehudah, attacked the southern edge of Abel, while several Devas that lived in interior lands initiated a grand scale assault against Archangel. Both conflicts ended not only with large casualties, but the suspicion Aeolus most feared was confirmed: that coexistence was completely impossible. From that moment on, he expelled all the supernatural entities that he found from his lands, forcing them to withdraw under the threat of being completely exterminated. Little by little, the mystical beings began to disappear, hiding themselves from the eyes of mortals or intermingling secretly among us. Since then, man would eventually begin to forget the supernatural, considering magic and the unexplainable as a shadow of the distant past.
And ten years after the end of the war, Aeolus returned to Archangel, where he made what would be his most important decision. The 16th of September 233 years after the Messiah, the same day in which he got married, Aeolus Hawke founded the Sacred Holy Empire of Abel.
The Sacred Holy Empire of Abel
The Sacred Holy Empire of Abel was born with the objective to unify Gaia under a single flag. Aeolus proclaimed himself spiritual and imperial leader, appointing into his crown all the military and ecclesiastical power. The territories annexed to the Empire became principalities, dependent countries to the Sacred Holy Crown that acted as subordinate regions. Following this, Aeolus granted the title of Lords of War to his four most important generals, giving them control of the armies of Abel, and reconstructed the Church in all of its splendor.
But even then the young Emperor did not rest. He soon returned to his travels, trusting that many principalities would join the Empire of their own free will. By that time, his fame had spread through all parts of Gaia, and in every corner of the world they knew that Aeolus brought with him stability, order and justice. Nevertheless, he didn’t always march peacefully. First he had to face the threat that Nazhael posed, one of the old marshals of Rah who had conquered part of the principalities on the Coast of Commerce. Then he opposed the two remaining powers that had reemerged in that chaotic time, the Lands of Al-Enneth and the Empire of Lannet. For years, he traveled from one place in Gaia to another, chasing the goal that he had established upon Abel’s conception whatever the cost. Once the entire Old Continent was unified under the flag of the Empire, Aeolus rested his sight on more distant lands, first conquering the island of Varja and later the New Continent. It was a time of changes, on which the majority of the current countries and nations were founded.
It was also during this period when the emperor restored two of the most important organizations today: the Inquisition, created with the purpose of ending supernatural dangers that were hidden among men, and the knights of Tol Rauko, whose mission was to protect and conserve the knowledge from eras past.
Finally, after decades of continuous conflict, Aeolus could now return to his beloved empress and rest by her side. Just as he wished, although his hands had been stained with blood, the legacy that he would leave the children of Gaia would be a world very different from the dark times that he had had to live through. And it was so, in year 355 of our era, having reached 149 years old, Aeolus Hawke passed away as he had always wanted; placidly, in his bed.
The Seven Centuries
At the time of his death, the only son of Aelous, Lazaro Hawke, inherited the Crown of Abel and the heavy responsibility that it entailed. However, possessing the same talent as his father and having instructed him since he was a child, Lazaro proved to be more than worthy of his father’s legacy. The first great challenge that he had to face was the declaration of independence that Lannet and Shivat proclaimed as a result of the previous Emperor’s death. With intelligent and capable decisions, Lazaro not only maintained the cohesiveness of the Sacred Holy Empire by stopping the insurrection of Varja with minimum bloodshed, but also managed to create a true unity between the different principalities when constituting the body of the High Senate, in which the leaders of all the countries participated. In this way, the long period known as the Seven Centuries began, during which the Sacred Holy Empire, led by the Hawke lineage, governed with absolute power over all of Gaia.
It is true that during this time there were problems of great importance, such as the attack of the Thurizung clan on Haufman, that ended in numerous deaths and a certain disorder in the principalities to the north, or the two new armed insurrections by Lannet and Shivat. Nevertheless, the action of the Hawke emperors was always commendable, proving to be in complete control of their power at any given moment, and having the talent to come out on top in any situation, no matter how complicated it was. Even at the beginning of the sixth century when a violent earthquake passed through the Old Continent, producing hundreds of thousands of victims and causing enormous economic losses, the Empire knew how to confront the problem, creating aid divisions and investing great amounts of money in the reconstruction of all affected principalities.
Without a doubt, one of the best-chosen decisions in part of the emperors of Abel was the one to create the arbitration wars, by means of which the conflicts between the various countries and principalities were solved, following a series of guidelines laid down by the Imperial Arbiters. That way, it was possible to resolve wars as if they were complex games of chess, avoiding damage to cities or unnecessary bloodshed.
As a reflection of this prosperity, great improvements were made at economic and cultural levels throughout the Seven Centuries, and countless advances were introduced in Gaia the likes of which nobody could imagine happening years before.
For the first time in history, man made exponential leaps towards a brilliant future.
The End of a Dynasty
One may ask themselves if it is possible for a few, or even for one person, to reach world-changing potential. Too frequently history has replied to this question affirmatively, although unfortunately, not always for good; since a single man destroyed the ideals of the Empire with his own hands.
Even before becoming Emperor, Lascar Hawke, the last member of the imperial lineage, had demonstrated very different conduct from any one of his predecessors. Ever since he was a child he was prematurely capricious, arrogant and malicious; he held back nothing when it came to getting what he wanted and, despite of having the same talent characteristic of his family for generations, he did not seem to use it for anything but his own benefit. Many people, including his father, thought that he would reform once the weight of the imperial Crown fell upon his head; they could not be more mistaken.
When Lascar ascended the throne, he demonstrated that his behavior up to this point was no more than a shadow of what awaited Abel. Once adorned with the absolute power of the Holy Emperor, he brought with him a time of depravation and cruelty unsurpassed in the Empire. He took women as he wished, ordered executions without reason, and when he grew bored he even caused wars just for pure entertainment. Lascar even got to the point of assassinating his wife (although it was publicly declared a suicide), the former princess of Lucrecio, for attempting to abort Grayson his first-born son.
His actions reached such a degree of immorality and depravation that the Lords of War even requested that he refrain and yield the crown to his son, just barely a child. Because of his refusal, the idealist Lord of War Elias Borges, in charge of watching over the safety of the heart of the Sacred Holy Empire, believed it necessary to remove Lascar from power whatever the cost. He met in secret with his companions, as well as with the High Archbishop Augustus and the marshal of Tol Rauko, and between all of them they agreed to carry out a bold plan. Gathering his most elite soldiers in Archangel with the excuse of organizing military games and taking advantage of the fact that most of the Heaven Order, the personal army of the Emperor, were absent, Elias prepared himself for an assault on the imperial castle to force Lascar to abdicate in favor of his son. That way, everything would be over quickly with a minimal number of lost lives.
Going along as planned, on the night of March 11th the year 957, the elite forces of the Lord of War stormed the Castle of the Angel. The knights of the Heaven Order proved their worthiness and, in spite of having an overwhelming superiority over their adversaries, they were only able to restrain the attack for several hours. Nevertheless, Lascar knew from the beginning that resistance would be completely futile, thus he waited calmly in the throne hall with a sardonic smile on his face. Just minutes before Elias finally got to him, he ordered his son to stand in front of them all, and forced the young boy to murder him with the assistance of the Imperial Lawgiver of Aeolus. In the moment in which the first drop of blood hit the ground, the destiny of young Grayson as future emperor was condemned, because he had just committed a sin against the Empire.
That would be Lascar’s dark legacy and his parting gift to the whole world: the end of his dynasty and the imbalance of Gaia.
The Last Emperor
When Grayson killed Lascar, it completely destroyed Elias’ plans, since the boy no longer could aspire to the throne. Without another successor, the future of the Empire was compromised, because up until that moment the conception of Abel was maintained in the quasi-divine figurehead of the Hawke lineage. The problem was very serious, and to solve it, the greatest powers of Gaia divided into two factions: those who supported Grayson’s ascent to the throne in spite of his crime and those who preferred that a new dynasty ascend to power. Ironically, the boy himself gave the answer to the problem when he declared openly that, given the circumstances, he was not fit to ascend to the throne. Thus it came about that Elias Borges, the closest descendent to the title, would be proclaimed the Holy Emperor due to the backing of the Church and the remaining Lords of War. Incapable of blaming the son of Lascar for the occurrence, the first decision of the new Lord of Abel was to send the boy to Lucrecio and grant him the title of prince, which rightfully belonged to him through his mother’s lineage.
Naturally, the ascent of Elias to the throne caused an enormous uproar throughout the world. Many principalities that had always set their sights on independence took advantage of the moment to try and sway imperial policy, and they even reached the point of suggesting possibly modifying the structure to create something more like the first Republic of Abel. Little by little the atmosphere of agitation increased and there were those that feared that Elias wouldn’t be able to stand the tension. But, contrary to all the rumors, the previous Lord of War demonstrated a great shrewdness in politics just as he always had on the battlefield. Backed by the intelligent Archbishop Augustus, one of the most liberal leaders in the whole of Church history, he was able to maintain imperial unity with bold reforms and refined ingenuity. Compared to Lascar’s old regime of terror, the changes in Abel were welcomed with joy and optimism even by the most radical sectors, so for three decades the Empire enjoyed a time of prosperity.
Unfortunately for Elias, his political successes were not mirrored in his personal life, which was plagued with constant misfortune. The tragedy that hit him the hardest of all was the death of his wife who died in childbirth while bringing his daughter Adelina into the world. Torn by the pain of his loss, the Emperor blamed his wife’s death on Adelina and separated her from his side, leaving the child in the care of the knights of the Heaven Order.
The Beginning of the End
After the death of his friend and mentor, the High Archbishop Augustus, Elias found himself in the difficult position of having to choose a new spiritual leader for the Church. The decision proved to be much more complicated than the Emperor first thought, because not only did it seem impossible to find an appropriate person amongst the applicants, but also that the rivalry for the position was heated and caused great conflicts amongst the principalities. In spite of the time that he had been on the throne, Elias had to be very careful, because a bad decision could cause a shift in the power structure of Gaia.
After meeting with dozens of applicants, during one of the hearings the Lord of Abel crossed paths with a young abbess who would change his life. Her name was Eljared and, just twenty-six years old, she had reached the highest station that a woman was able to obtain within the structure of the Church. She was completely mysterious, but possessed a supernatural beauty and incomparable talent that captivated Elias at first sight. Elias couldn’t stop thinking about her for a moment, and began seeing her assiduously to pass most of his time. After several months, to the shock of the entire world, he publicly announced that Eljared would be the new Supreme Archbishop, a title that until then had never been granted to a woman. Of course, there were many principalities that were not in absolute agreement with the appointment, but could not openly oppose the throne of Abel’s designs without greater cause.
Once at the head of the Church, Eljared began to accumulate incredible personal power, greater than any other Supreme Archbishop had ever had. The Emperor, blinded by his feelings towards her, yielded her all the imperial prerogatives, which actually converted her into the true Empress of Abel. Once in possession of absolute power, she began to act with impunity all over Gaia, making strange decisions that very few understood. She put the main organizations of the Empire in the control of several of her confidential agents, while she ordered the unearthing of dangerous secrets of the past. With care, as a meticulous chess player would place her pieces on the board, Eljared prepared to initiate the greatest game ever played.
For a second time the world that we knew was about to change before our eyes, but once again, we would not be aware of it.
The Fracture of the Heavens
The behavior of Eljared did not go unnoticed by the principalities near the Empire for long. Soon, many governors began to publicly protest her acts, warning her that her decisions and behavior were not proper of her position. Nevertheless, the Supreme Archbishop turned a deaf ear to such warnings, and she even began to act more brashly without any apparent justification. It was as if, at heart, she wished to push the world into a rebellion. The situation reached critical mass when Maximillian Hess, Lord of Remo, openly accused her of witchcraft and having the Emperor subjugated. Investigating on his own, prince Hess had unearthed the fact that the abbess called Eljared had never existed, and that her entire past was nothing more than a convenient lie. It’s a matter of debate whether or not it was Eljared herself who leaked that information deliberately.
In response to those accusations, the Supreme Archbishop ordered the complete destruction of Remo and to reduce everything there to ashes. A personal friend of Elias, the Lord of War Thadeus Kisdain, refused to carry out such an order and asked his old companion to reconsider, but Eljared responded by jailing him and replacing the knight with someone who would carry out her designs. Just a week later, the proud principality of Remo lay in ruins, and the lifeless body of Hess hung like a trophy surrounded by the rubble of his own capital. The general reaction within the Empire was deafening; many countries immediately tried to cut their ties with Abel, which caused the Supreme Archbishop to declare war against all their leaders. A conflict of titanic proportions threatened to devour all of Gaia for the first time in seven centuries.
And even as she brought chaos to every corner of the world, Eljared prepared to put her true plan into effect.
What did she really want? Perhaps we will never entirely know. In her own way, she carried a heavy legacy on her back, one that pushed her to her limits regardless of the consequences. Just as Rah had done in the past, she also wished to change the world in her own way.
On New Year’s Eve, a chain of events would take place during a tragic festivity: the fateful night known as the Fracture of the Heavens. From every corner of the globe, the agents of the Supreme Archbishop initiated a complex supernatural structure centered in the city of Archangel that created an alteration in existence. The earth shook, the oceans darkened and the skies of Gaia turned red like blood.
What happened next is shrouded in uncertainty. Officially, forces commanded by the Lord of War Thadeus Kisdain attacked the Castle of the Angel that night, attempting to stop the madness of the Emperor. However, recent studies confirm that Thadeus was not released until the following morning, making the previous versions unverifiable. At any rate, the truth is that while the armies raged through the entire city, an explosive battle ignited inside the imperial palace, reducing much of its infrastructure to rubble. At the height of the attack, the Emperor’s daughter approached her father begging him to stop the madness, but he, completely insane with grief, tried to kill Adelina, accusing her of being the cause of the sad situation the Empire was going through. Seeing that the girl who he had mentored for years was in danger Remus, one of the highest-ranking knights of the Heaven Order, was forced to slay the Emperor. Only minutes later, Eljared, appeared in the tower of the great guardian angel of the city, with her arms extended towards the sky. Her last words resonated through the entire city.
“Is man only a failure of Alkavir, or is Alkavir only a failure of man? Everyone, who has wandered in the darkness of your own history like small children, open your eyes. It is about to begin. Be witness to how we take this step forward. In the end, to deny Alkavir will be the only way to save the world.”
For better or worse, in less than an hour everything had ended, and Eljared disappeared forever.
The death of the Holy Emperor produced serious consequences for the Empire. Anticipating the great instability that hung over Gaia, the young Adelina demanded her right to the throne and began working hard towards world stability. Unfortunately, many of the principalities that had declared independence from Abel months before refused to accept her as Empress, while one of the Lords of War named Matthew Fawkes and some select principalities formed the Azur Alliance, an opposing faction of power that struggles towards the ideal of becoming the center of the new empire one day. Without knowing with whom to side with, the Church has remained a neutral faction for the moment, proclaiming a new Supreme Archbishop on their own without the approval of the young Empress.
Now it is the year 989. Six months have passed since the death of Elias and the tensions between the Empire, the Azur Alliance and the Alkavian Church have only increased. With Abel fragmented, the young Empress makes an effort to maintain control of her remaining principalities to avoid devouring the entire world in the flames of war, while other countries prepare for imminent conflicts. Due to the influence of Eljared, reality has been seriously altered and the supernatural forces grow more intense every day, while the barrier that separates the real world from the Wake is thinning. And in this time of change, the unseen forces have decided to intervene again.
The dark legacy that man inherits is on the verge of fruition. Nothing is over. Deep down, this story has only just begun.
And as I was present at the beginning…
So shall I be here to witness its end. – Solomon, the First King