Transcribed from oral tradition by scholar Liten DignitasEdit
Though He had begun to expel some of His volatility through the creation of His realm, Ortus’ entire being remained in discord. This reflected heavily in the sentient races, as Ortus’ presence fills all things. They existed in a constant state of aggravation and The bonds between their fledgling nations grew strained, putting stress on even the most ancient alliances. This was made even worse by seemingly constant drought as nature steadily fell into disarray. Skirmishes broke out between neighboring towns over as little as a missing barrel of ale, and riots became almost commonplace among the desperate populous. Town guards were hardly enough to keep it in check. Wars started among the different races, each one blaming the others for their circumstances, with racism fueling the conflicts. The use of destructive magic became more and more widespread as the Avasonus turned to violence and sold training in the arcane arts for food and supplies. Law and honor were discarded by many, and the use of dirty tactics became widespread. Battlemages were sent undercover into enemy territory while formal battles were staged elsewhere. Soldiers could only look on in terror at clouds of smoke and dust rising from the horizon as their cities were burned and collapsed in on themselves. This continued until most nations imposed laws banning outsiders from entering their cities, and ceased traditional battlefield conflict in favor of sieges. There was little concern for innocents and civilians, so long as the enemy lost their will to fight. Ortus saw these things and wept over the loss of all that He had so lovingly crafted. While unwilling to retract His gift of free will in order to stop the fighting, He knew He must do something to restore balance.
A few still held to the belief that the fighting might be stopped, and that Ortus could be trusted to make the world right again. To reach out to these groups He sent four prophets, each to one of the alliances that had formed during the great wars. As they were met with vivid dreams of hope, their duties became clear to them, and their message began to spread. “Those who are blinded by hatred shall be lost to it, but any who retain forgiveness in their hearts may yet be saved.” The first to become aware was Ephrath, who would soon become better known as the Minstrel of the Western Forest. As an Errare, she was well suited to journeying far and wide, telling of Ortus’ prophecy. Shortly thereafter, the Oracle of the Southern Isles- an Ensik shaman by the name of Titus, was also given visions of a peaceful new world to which they may escape. His power and influence, as well as his ability to sway crowds with his emotional speeches, convinced many Litus and Avasonus to give up their conflicts. His is own people, however, proved harder to convince. The Vystra posed a similar problem for Symeon, the Lentra Herald of the Frozen North, whose cunning and reputation were perhaps the only things keeping those around him from assuming him delusional when he spoke of salvation. The final prophet to bring word of hope to his people was a Varena named Alphaeus. The Telum and Varena were desperate for any glimmer of hope, and he managed to gather a decent following who began to refer to him as the Seer of the Eastern Plains.
Ortus sent visions to Titus and Ephrath, instructing them to bring their followers to the nearby coast to begin the construction of two vessels. Though in those times there existed great metal-clad warships which might carry hundreds of men, these were to be simple wooden sailing ships fit to hold little more than one hundred passengers each. Meanwhile, Symeon and Alphaeus were to amass supplies and anything of practical value their people wished to carry on their person before setting out to meet with the others.
Ortus then took it upon himself to create four massive golems, each loyal to one of the allied armies. They contained such sheer power - so much of Ortus’ inner chaos that they could hardly contain it, even under their masters’ orders. This power was quickly abused, with many cities devastated each day. These ruins became infected with a ravenous taint that began to choke out all life in the area. Where it spread animals would flee, gasping for breath, and any crops in its path were choked out, unable to escape. It wasn’t long before these noxious cysts dotted the mainland, and by the time the prophets’ ships were ready to launch, spores from the pestilence could be seen drifting through the air intermittently.
Despite having been drawn together by their faith, there was much tension between the passengers and they mostly kept to themselves. Surprisingly, it was Titus who took the role of peacekeeper. With his patient guidance, he slowly began to melt the hostility between his followers and Symeon’s. On the other ship, Ephrath’s people - naturally pacifists, were mostly accepting of their shipmates. For the next week, they remained anchored far enough off-shore that even with the aid of a spyglass, one could just barely see the outline of the land on the horizon and the constant haze of smoke above it.
Each morning they awoke to the soft rumble of the crumbling cities and mountains in the distance. The noise would carry on until a few hours before sunrise, and few could find sleep even in those peaceful moments. It was not until the middle of the eleventh day that it suddenly ceased. Neither crew nor passengers spoke more than needed that day; both ships gripped in an anxious silence. All knew that a truce was unlikely, and the same question rested on everyone’s minds: Was there nothing left to fight over, or just nobody left to fight over it? The prophets decided it wise to wait a day before sailing back to investigate. Late that night an enormous, sickening crack, like the breaking of bones, filled the air. As the ship lookouts clamored on deck, a dim, glowing point of light appeared on the horizon. With each crack, the light grew brighter and the vessels were rocked by surging waves. It was nearly dawn when the sea calmed finally and the night fell silent.
By first light, it seemed as though the land were closer, though their anchors remained secure. The cloud of smoke had dissipated and the dirty lilac color of tainted grass had given way to green once more. One last roll of thunder sounded and any who thought to listen for it heard roaring words mingled in, saying, “It is done.” The prophets each kneeled where they stood, opening their minds to Ortus in prayer. In return they were all met with visions of sprawling, pristine landscape, and one of a grand throne room. There were pearl white marble floors, silks and tapestries in every color imaginable, and at the far end of the long room four rulers sat on velvet seats. Two kings and two queens, each clad in strange armor and a glistening crown. Each set of armor seemed to represent one of Ortus’ golems which had aided in the destruction of the mainland. One set was forged of iron with intricate mahogany inlays, another seemed to be made only of glowing embers, clinging harmlessly to the king’s flesh. The queens bore similarly contrasting designs, one wearing brightly polished steel which glowed at it’s edges with trim of burning red stone, and the other wrapped in green saplings which blossomed about her.
The visions faded and those who had seeked them rose to their feet, giving the order to land on these strange new shores. The lookouts were astonished to see four survivors- two men and two women, waiting for them out on the sand. Nobody had expected there to be survivors. Small rowboats were sent into the shallow water. Symeon, the first to make it ashore, immediately recognized them as the four nobles from the vision, though they now wore only simple clothing. One of them- a somewhat short, wiry man with icey blue eyes and short silver hair, stepped forward to meet them. He was unlike any of the mortal races, sharing similarities with both the Aquil and Varena, but looking nothing like any halfbreed the two races had ever produced. The man introduced himself as Soteir, explaining that the he and his companions had been given their new forms as a reward for carrying out Ortus’ judgement on the corrupted land. He spoke softly, his voice resonating with carefully tempered power. “Ortus has given us the duty of guiding you- the last remaining mortals who possess His gift of thought. The corruption has been controlled for now, and His emotions separated once again. We are to ensure that another Cataclysm is never required.”
Though there were mumbling of skepticism among the survivors, none could deny the divine aura that seemed to emanate from the Judges. A few Avasonus recalled feeling a similar force when in the presence of a very powerful mage, though they remembered it to have been much weaker. As they started to settle in their new surroundings, factions split off, each taking to one of the Judges and beginning to worship them as gods. The racism that had once seemed irreversibly ingrained into their cultures began to fade, as more and more became accepting of each other’s differences, uniting under their blossoming religions. Others remained loyal to Ortus alone, referring to Him as the only true god, following his virtues of creation and bettering the lives of all through development and science. They remained focused on reinventing the lost technology of the old world, working off of the few diagrams and blueprints that had been preserved by the scholars among them. As time went on, they progressed from primitive survival camps, to villages, to small cities. The religious factions began to spread out, discovering regions of the new land- Pavon, which were seemingly tailored to their needs. This period sparked a great peacetime which to this day has only been interrupted fleetingly by minor wars. However, increasingly vicious quarrels among the gods and their followers, and the reinvention of steam technology seem to herald a new age, one that may just bring an end to this peace. We can only pray that the memory of the Cataclysm is fresh enough in the minds of the people to prevent another great war, and that the Judges will remember their duty to protect mortals from such a disaster.