[Age of Dusk] Forgotten.

In the wake of the Calamity arose the Harrow-kings, to usher in the Age of Dusk with a reign so dreadful it inspires nightmare and madness to this day. By sword and sorcery they reshaped the Lands of Autumn into fields of carrion. Civilisations were scoured from the face of the world, never to be remembered. The bones of entire species were used to line their thrones and galleries. So it is that the greatest of their foes are entirely forgotten. But forgotten does not always mean lost. And in the Age of Dusk, what once was buried may live again.

The Tso;  Virtually untouched by the Calamity, the Tso expanded rapidly in the wake of the fall of the Tzyanese empire and carved out a substantial empire in the north-east of the Lands of Autumn. They were the first to seriously challenge the rise of the Harrow-kings, and now they are dust.

The Tso were drawn from strange stock, displaying characteristics unlike any other people in the Lands of Autumn. Skin like ivory, eyes like obsidean, they stood tall like giants and were hairless like a newborn child. In ornate suits of cultivated chitin they trampled over the squabbeling kingdoms of the north-east, laying them low by their greatest weapon; philosophy.

By their words and writings sons would turn upon fathers, wives upon husbands and servants upon masters. By their oratory, heroes were made out to be blackest villains, savagery was made civilised and slavery was made to be the ultimate freedom. When streets were filled with quarreling mobs, palaces with madmen and trees were adorned with the corpses of the guilt-ridden they would come in, offering to rebuild what they themselves had unmade so easily. Armies of willing servants gained them an empire to rival Tzyan.

They screamed and begged as their empire fell. Seeing philosophy as nothing more then a weapon, the Tso lacked any creed or conviction of their own. When they examined the thoughts of these Harrow-kings they recoiled in despair, for there was nothing virtuous or noble left in them to subvert. Where they expected to find dreams of greatness and virtues of the soul instead they found a yawning emptiness.
They loved life too much and so it was that fear unmade them. Though most of their teachings were burned along with them on great, city-wide pyres, some vaults survive, ready to unleash memetic poisons in the veins of the kingdoms of the Age of Dusk.

The Hadra; A minor kingdom southwest to the flesh-eating jungles of great Gyrr, the Hadra were a major regional power despite their isolationist tendencies. Rumoured to carry the blood of shapechangers, the Hadra’s greatest asset was their almost infinite adaptiblity. In a matter of weeks, the entire Hadran culture could be overturned to be the nemesis of whatever upstart nation sought to claim their lands. Enemy tactics, strategies and technology were rapidly analysed, co-opted and improved upon to lay low any opponent. It was said that a Hadran swordmaster had but to look at a single duel before he could duplicate and even integrate the entire school into their own repertoire.

So it was that when the Harrow King Skorith Haduun turned his dread gaze upon the Hadra, he was repelled threefold. No force of arms nor sorcery could lay low the Hadra, who were malleable as clay, and adapted to every stratagem of the accursed warlord. But no change comes without cost. So atrocious were his sorceries, so brutal his tactics, that the Hadra could not help but recoil in horror at what they had been forced to become.

The fourth great Host of Skorith marched into Hadra, finding nothing but cities paved with corpses. The Hadra had chosen death over a far more terrible alternative. Deprived of his vengeance, Skorith is said to have ordered his host to fight amongst themselves until but ten remained.

The Aronach;
The Harrow Kings were said to be dread incarnate. But this is, like many things said about the Harrow Kings, a lie. Even the Harrow Kings knew fear. Little is known of the Aronach, but fragments speak of all the Harrow Kings uniting in unheard of alliance to combat a race, creature or sorcery from the darkness below the earth. Many of the Kings perished, but in the end it was brought low.

All writing on the subject of the Aronach was subjected to a great purge, and all who had served in the combined host were put to death to protect the secrets of the Kings. What remains of the subject are naught but scribbled fragments in dead languages, seeking in vain to articulate what mere human language cannot describe and the human mind cannot comprehend. The veracity of these accounts, if any, is impossible to verify.

…spectral shapes burning with colourless fire…
…a thousand violet eyes in darkness absolute…
…clothed in the skins of the ancient dead…
…a thousand arms…
…and when they looked upon it they despaired and turned to pillars of ash…
…a terrible winter over all the land…
…the sky screamed and the planet wept black blood…
…banished below, Ursk guards it…
…It scrapes the sky and its shadow is the end of all things…
…formed from the husks of dead empires…
…dust, fossil and ancient hate…

The Children of Winter;

Few civilisations could stand against the Harrow-kings, but rarer still were the Kings defied by men. Nine adepts of old Tzyan were said to have travelled into the heart of the Weapon and from it wrested the mastery of time and space. Immortal and invisible were they, moving in the spaces between heartbeats and the void beyond memory. They rewrote time and history as they saw fit.

The Harrow King Tioragh laid siege to their extradimensional realm, fighting for ages and picoseconds, until they were cast down and shattered, cast in temporal fragments across space and time. All but two. The Eight Child imprisoned himself within a bubble of slow time, to await the time beyond time. The Third child was punished uniquely, for he was the most clever and the most skilled. Forced to wander the world, out of phase and blind, the fragmentary glimpses of the world making his sensory deprivation all the more agonizing.


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