Cataclysm

From World of Charun

Contents

The Beginning

Despairing survivor of the earthquake
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Despairing survivor of the earthquake

The events leading up to the end of the Third Age are referred to as the Cataclysm. A period of only six days, during which damage of a previously unheard scope was inflicted upon the face of Charun. Some sages claim that it was a global natural catastrophe of epic scale, while believers in the Old Gods argue that it was triggered by the violation of old divine law.

It began on the 13th of Randine, 913 III, just after midnight with an earthquake lasting 9 full hours. The sky slowly turned red as the quake generated huge waves to pound Charun's coasts, flooding entire regions. Many settlements were ruined during this initial period alone, leaving only buildings of sturdier architecture standing, such as castles and larger stone buildings as found on the Three Isles.

The earthquake's epicentre was located somewhere around the Kingdom of Kurash, opening great rifts more than 30 feet wide. The capital, Kurash Town, was incinerated as a flood of molten lava erupted from the deepest of these, leaving naught but a small section of the King’s Castle standing. Most towns and villages in central Charun were razed by the quake, with flooding further damaging settlements as far inland as Teardrop and Hillyfield, with strong currents washing away screaming inhabitants. People fled before the sea, seeking the salvation of higher ground; men of northern Old Land fled to the Wild Hills, while others sought refuge further west, hoping to find land spared by the devastation.

Skies tainted red
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Skies tainted red

Sandstorms powerful enough to carry away buildings raged in the south, ripping inland settlements apart even as the angry seas drowned coastal villages beneath the waves. It is estimated that the only buildings in the southern reaches that were left more or less unharmed were the great monuments of Necharam and the grandest of temples and palaces in Mubuluk. Across the continent, in the Northlands, blizzards containing man-sized chunks of ice rained destruction across the region, forcing survivors to seek cover in caves from the havoc and from humanoids that later scavenged the ruined settlements for corpses to feast on and equipment to claim. No villages were left standing, save the few fortresses and castles found in the region.

Sun Glade, the realm of the Ulutharin, faced waves that carried ships clear across the island to the other side, crumbling buildings along the way. The majority of their structures withstood the punishment of quakes and waves though, held together by magic rather than mere masonry. It was not buildings, but rather the ancient trees in the Niematharin realm of Green Glade that withstood both the quake and flooding, their roots dug deeper into the ground, than any building’s foundation. Those trees were the salvation of the Niemathar, their crowns offering them a place of safety. The Eastern Lands across the ocean were fortunately unaffected by the earthquake due to the vast distance to the epicentre, though the flooding still inflicted a fair share of destruction to nearly all coastal settlements.

When the trembling, the flooding, and the storms had subsided, a devastated world lay in their wake. Nations were shattered, stricken by tremendous casualties, with towns reduced to rubble and submerged beneath water, sand or ice. But this was merely the beginning of a six day long tribulation filled with turmoil, despair, and death worldwide.


The Dark Crusade

Abbadon surrounded by his devotees
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Abbadon surrounded by his devotees

With Charun wounded and bleeding, a powerful warlord of Garagor seized the opportunity and emerged to deliver the killing blow and claim mastery over all. This warlord, Abbadon, had brought entities of great power from the depths of Hell to side with him and his host. His Second Dark Crusade began on the 15th of Randine with the launching of devastating attacks on the remnants of the Kingdom of Kurash, which swiftly overtook the region.

Simultaneously in Castle Stern, a smaller, but substantial host also loyal to Abbadon prepared to assault what remained of the settlements in their region in similar fashion. Their leader Baron Stern, a mighty priest of Garagor, was to see to it that all survivors were caught and killed, and the region claimed in the name of their lord. This would have spelled the end of the Narghali race of men who inhabited the region, left too weak and too few to properly defend themselves. Their salvation came in the form of a score of courageous heroes, known today as the Saviours of the Narghali. Infiltrating his stronghold, they managed to slay Baron Stern, as well as a significant part of his forces. This crippled them to the degree that they were left unable to execute their part of the Dark Crusade that was to conquer the region. More than half of the Saviours lost their lives in their endeavour but all have been hailed as heroes amongst the Narghali ever since.

Indifferent to the development in Castle Stern, Abbadon continued his crusade undaunted. He led his forces towards Hillyfield, reaching the capital on the 18th of Randine. In less than a hour, he had destroyed what was left in the wake of the quake and flooding, sending surviving half-men fleeing for their lives towards Castle Farrowbar to the east. They would have perished as well, were it not for the Niematharin emerging from the Green Glade to aid their allies. Thousands of Mórail, joined by heroes of all races, charged the dark host at midday in a battle known as the Niematharin Stand.

The fierce battle raged yet when sunset approached. The forces of Abbadon had killed nearly three-quarters of the Mórail host and it seemed the Niematharin were doomed to face defeat and death in the hands of evil.


Turn of the Tide

Six days since the Cataclysm began, on the 18th of Randine, 913 III, everything reverted back to normal just before sunset. The red sky slowly gave way to blue, the churning seas relinquishing the land it had previously claimed. Opinions differ on the causes behind the event's end. Those seeing the Cataclysm as a global natural catastrophe claim it was simply nature's course. It did, however, occur just as the Niematharin miraculously managed to turn defeat to victory in the battle of the Niematharin Stand, which scholars claim was merely coincidence. However, believers in the Old Gods, as well as the Niematharin tell an entirely different story.

Being of Light charges the dark host
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Being of Light charges the dark host

When everything seemed lost and the fate of the world appeared to be doomed, a blinding sea of white light appeared between the fighting armies, separating and throwing them back. Those amongst the Niematharin host watched in awe as their wounds closed and their fallen comrades returned to life, while the mortals of the dark host fell to the ground, screaming in agony and terror. All infernal entities partaking in the Dark Crusade were slain as soon as the light reached them, sparing only the three mighties ones standing alongside the warlord Abbadon. Out of this light charged a glowing entity, carried by angelic wings with a radiant sword in his hands. The blade pulsated with light, stronger than that of the sun, making sunset look as midday with it's brilliance. This light reached into the sky, banishing the evil that tainted it red, the figure's mere presence pushing the flood water back to the oceans. The Mórail say that it was Estaithios the Trusted One, called Brunir by men, who arrived to enforce the law he had sworn to uphold, preventing entities of divine or godlike status from walking in the World of Mortals. It was the presence of the three beings from Hell that had summoned forth the Overlord, each of them an ancient demon of godlike might. They had been called upon by Abbadon and willingly entered the mortal world, bringing the Cataclysm with them.

It was all over within moments. The creature of light charged the demons, who fell before the Truthbringer - Brunir's blade serving as seal and warden in protecting the world from outsiders. Wielded by the winged entity its might was enough to slay those with dark souls through a mere touch, and it banished the demons from the mortal world, doomed to never again leave their realms – a fate destined those destroyed by the divine sword.

With Truthbringer's vanquishing of the final demon, the warlord Abbadon suddenly charged, flying swift and straight upon black wings to impale himself upon Brunir's shining blade. The world was silenced and shrouded as the winged being of light faltered, limping fingers relinquishing hold upon the sword on which Abaddon's corpse hung. He turned towards the elven host, white wings spreading to create shield and sanctuary around them. Tears could be seen rolling down his cheek, as he closed his eyes and waited, Abbadon laying behind him on his back, with the Truthbringer standing tall from his chest. At first a slight tremble could be seen in its hilt. Then, without sound or warning the sword shattered into pure light, tearing asunder the survivors of the dark host. The Truthbringer had been broken, the seal and the warden of the mortal world was no more. As light from the shattered sword faded, so did the light surrounding the winged being. He flew to the sky, his free-flowing tears turning to rain.

Only then were the intentions of the evil alliance revealed. The Truthbringer, forged to draw only outsider blood, was destined to shatter should it ever claim a mortal's life. Abbadon, though of infernal origin, was conceived by a mortal woman and her blood within him was enough to stain the Truthbringer's blade, spelling it's doom. The Overlord had been intentionally lured forth by the entry of the demons and their violation of divine laws. The paid toll was high, the demons doomed to stay eternally within their realms, while Abbadon sacrificed both life and soul, vanishing into nothingness. Yet the reward won by evil and its harbinger Garagor, ancient opponent of Brunir, was considerably higher. With the Truthbringer shattered, Brunir's laws upon the mortal world was renderred defunct. Entities of godlike might were now free to enter the world, with no fear of destruction at the hands of the Overlord.


Aftermath

It was not only lives, homes and nations that were lost in the Cataclysm. Hope and altruism vanished as well, leading to a cynical and selfish outlook on life. The survival of those closest to you became most important, and many were prepared to take any measures to ensure it. Beliefs vanished as well, replaced by doubt in the Old Gods. Tangible matters became of greater importance, since what one saw and was able to touch could give immediate aid, or cause harm. Praying to insubstantial gods that might not exist was seen as waste of time. Many mortals chose to turn to the New Powers that made an appearance after the Cataclysm, with their worship instead.

Many scholars and sages dismiss the Mórail tales about how the Cataclysm was ended, explaining the winged being as a summoned celestial aiding in the battle. Believers, however, maintain that it was Brunir that saved the world from the powers of evil.

An age ended on the 18th of Randine, 913 III, and a new era, the Age of Heroes began.


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