Heroes of the Painted Sky
A Brief History of the World of Jurn
The Creation of Jurn
In the beginning was the Everwyrm, father of the dragons, creator of the world, awesome and terrible. He took the form of a great wyrm with iridescent scales of every color, and a thousand heads. In him dwelt the glory and power of all dragons, the fury of the elements and the seasons, law and chaos, good and evil. And the Everwyrm desired lesser beings to look upon his awful glory. And so he made the world, and all its races, sculpted from primordial clay, forged in the ancient fire of his belly and filled with breath from his lungs.
But the Everwyrm was a harsh master. His evil drove him to wrack the people with terrible cruelty. But his goodness drove him to punish all creatures. None were innocent in his sight, and from morning to evening and deep into the night, his many heads scourged the earth and sky with breath of fire, frost and poison.
So the people cried out, and the first gods answered. No one knows where they came from, but they appeared as stars falling from the heavens. They made war with the Everwyrm, and for forty days and forty nights they battled. But at last, the war-god Siegfried drove his sword deep into the Everwyrm’s heart cleaving it in half. In his death throes, the Everwyrm shook the earth with agony. As his body fell from the sky, it tumbled towards the continent of Lacrima, his heads weeping fire and frost and lightning. But Luca the Still-Minded and Melchor the Bright cast a mighty spell together that caused Lacrima to vanish in a flash of light, never to be seen again. As the Everwyrm’s body was swallowed by the sea, dragons burst forth from his heart, flying everywhere. And this is why dragons are called wyrms, and why to this day no dragon will bow down to the gods.
The Golden Age
With the Everwyrm vanquished, a kind of peace descended upon Jurn. This is not to say that the world was free from strife. Men and women still quarreled over status, wealth and power. Empires rose and fell. Great armies clashed with one another. And with their common enemy dead, the gods turned to infighting with one another, for each had a different vision for how the world should be. Their endless schemes persist to this day, locked in a game of chess with the people of Jurn as their pieces and the world their board.
Still, this time is remembered as the golden age of Jurn because the gods were much kinder than the Everwurm had been. Under their rule, the people were able to band together to form great nations. They began to create great inventions and works of art. Wizards began mastering the secrets of magic and the gods established religious orders to advance their ideals in the world. The scholars of the Tower of Minorath began their history of the world, reckoning from the death of the Everwyrm onwards, and the mage Sif assembled the great mages of the world to establish the Circle of Sequestered Magic, to protect the world from magical secrets
Many were the great achievements of this period, which lasted for over a thousand years, and was only brought to an end by the arrival of the Vagrant gods – foreign gods from a dying plane, bringing their peoples with them, intent upon making Jurn their new home.
The Incursion and the Vagrant War
In year 1253, a pillar of light erupted in the sky, originating from the continent of Rhovard. It was the Vagrants, a group of gods from a dying plane who had used powerful magic to open a portal into Jurn. After them streamed their people – a horde of orcs, goblins, and mysterious raven-winged men. Taken by complete surprise, the people of Rhovard were unprepared for the strange, savage invaders. Their armies took to the field, but the orcs had superior numbers, incredible strength and ferocity, and strange magic on their side. Within a few years, the entire continent had fallen under the control of the vagrants. Refugee ships trickling across the ocean to Chrace telling tales of the invaders and their brutal subjugation.
The Vagrant gods and their minions then turned their attention to Chrace, crafting a massive fleet to carry their warriors across the sea. Five years later, the first ships made landfall on the shores of Chrace, but the kingdoms of Chrace stood united against them. War raged for years as the savage orcs and goblins crossed steel with the Dragon Guard of Iconia, while the sky-knights of Sundagard dueled with the raven-winged marauders of the Vagrant gods. The mage-lords of the tower of Minorad traded spells with vagrant shamans and demonic entities summoned from their dying planes.
At last, when defeat seemed certain for the defenders of Chrace, the arch-mage Sif appeared with an army at his back, a gleaming host composed of humans and draconians, elves and dwarves, halflings and gnomes. They spoke a foreign tongue, and no one knew from whence they came, but they charged mightily into battle, turning the tide of the battle in a single stroke.
But the Vagrant gods would not be denied. When they saw that the battle turn against their army, they descended from the heavens to join the battle themselves. Their avatars towered over the battlefield, filling the defenders of Chrace with fear. The First gods themselves descended to the battlefield to meet them, an event not seen since the slaying of the Everwyrm. Melchor and Luca cast powerful spells while Kaitos strode the battlefield, smiting the guilty with judgments from his ancient books of the law. Deneb the witch-queen raised the bodies of the dead to fight again, and Aster the Abyss swept across the field as a black wind, slaying those in his path. At the center of the battle, The Radiant One dueled Beogh, king of the Vagrant gods. The conflict raged for days and nights, and the earth shuddered under the force of the conflict. It seemed as if all of Jurn might be destroyed in the battle.
Finally, several of the Vagrant gods betrayed the others and switched sides, including Orochi the Serpent, The Emerald Pool, and Kiva the Watcher. Their reasons for their choice are complex. It is said that Orochi switched sides to save his own skin, while Kiva is known to have switched sides because “To do otherwise would have resulted in the death of those not yet meant to die.” The Emerald Pool did so for its own enigmatic reasons, which can only be speculated at.
Together with the First gods, the defenders of Chrace and Sif’s mysterious foreign army smashed the Vagrant gods and their minions. Luca cast a powerful spell to prevent the Vagrant gods themselves from escaping back into the heavens, and surrounded, they were slain one by one. The surviving orcs and their allies boarded their ships and limped back to Rhovard. They have not been heard from for over a thousand years. Those who are brave enough to attempt the voyage from Chrace to Rhovard usually never return. Those who do return with stories of the orcs and their strange culture, with its alien buildings and strange magic. They say that the orcs still hold a grudge against the people of Chrace for killing their gods.
In the aftermath, Sif and his mysterious army vanished once more, becoming gradually more and more shrouded in myth as the decades passed. The traitorous Vagrant gods were regarded with suspicion, but the First gods chose to let them live, and all three have established their own cults among the people of Chrace.
The Present Conflict
It has been over a thousand years since the Vagrant war. In that time, Chrace recovered and its nations became prosperous once more, but none ever forgot that the orcs and their allies, bereft of their gods, still rule over Rhovard across the ocean to the east. But in the year 2388, the silence was broken once more by another fleet from Rhovard, with ships numbering in the thousands. The orcs had come to settle the score, but they were not like they had been a thousand years ago. Instead of wielding the crude weapons they had used, this time they brought with them curved swords of tempered steel and guns made with flash powder that could propel a leaden ball through armor. They wore suits of ceramic plates with intricate designs, and their mages wielded strange new spells never before seen.
Worst yet, they were not the beaten savages that had once fled the shores of Chrace a thousand years ago – they were organized, patient, and deliberate. And they seemed possessed of a newfound purpose and zeal, marching under a strange banner with three ravens against a golden field. Landing on the shores of Chrace they swiftly overwhelmed the first towns and cities they had encountered, while messengers flew at breakneck speed to the great capital cities of Chrace to rally their forces. War had once again come to the shores of Chrace.