I. Age of Arcana OverviewEdit
1246–457 BE (2031–2820 NW)
Throughout the known history of Amalur, magic had been the world's most precious resource. For some races, such as the elves, the control of magic was intuitive, becoming a fundamental part of their culture. Other races, such as the humans, had no means of directly employing magic; they could not learn to cast spells, no matter how diligently they studied the arcane arts. Most other races fell somewhere in between, and a kingdom's place on the magical spectrum had a profound influence on its overall standing in the world.
But at the dawn of the Age of Arcana, everything changed. Magic awakened in the mundane races, shifting the balance of power in fundamental ways. A new era for the kingdoms of Amalur had begun.
II. Magic ManifestsEdit
1246 BE (2031 NW)
The Ljosalfar city of Fieriol was home to the Order of the Ash, a guild of mages renowned for their mastery of magic. Many of the other kingdoms, including the Almain, sent pupils to the Order to learn from its scholars. Yet even the most intelligent humans had proven unable to perform the simplest spells.
Then in the spring of 1246 BE (2031 NW), a young Almain student named Garvin Dulac was tidying up the library of Master Wynnris, a revered Ljosalfar conjurer. Dulac came upon one of Wynnris' spell books, open to a page of summoning spells. The curious human began reading the spell aloud, and to his surprise, felt the power of magic welling in his voice. A flash of light dazed him for a moment, and when he collected his wits, a stunned Dulac realized that a small air elemental hovered in the air before him, awaiting his command.
Wynnris was startled when he heard his pupil's report of what had transpired. Though centuries of evidence proved such a feat was impossible, Wynnris had come to trust his young student. He called forth the other masters of the Order to test Dulac, and it was soon obvious that the human did indeed possess considerable magical talent.
The Order of the Ash began testing members of other races judged to have little or no magical ability. At first, only a few examples of magically inclined individuals were found, but gradually more and more surfaced. The Order's scholars shared this information with the leaders of the Scholia Arcana, who were also discovering that the very nature of magic in the world was changing. The elves debated how best to respond to this profound shift in power.
III. Distant ShimmerEdit
The port cities of Amalur hummed with stories spread by mariners who had sailed the Sea of Secrets south of Adelia. They claimed that the sky above the water shimmered with an ephemeral, shifting light that was visible both night and day.
Sailors dubbed this phenomenon the Southern Glimmer, and some claimed to hear the whispers of the gods within the lights. Since mariners were known to be a superstitious lot, and the Sea of Secrets had often been the setting for all manner of tall tales and spooky stories, most dismissed these reports as mere fables. Still, some travelers took pains to avoid the area.
IV. Kollossae RisingEdit
During the Middle Kingdoms, a clan of hill giants called the Mairu transformed their culture based around a devotion to the goddess Ethene. Gaining leadership of the Ouranos in the land of Jentilak, the Mairu reinvented themselves as the Kollossae, heirs to the legacy of the Titans.
The surging of magic in Amalur transformed the Kollossae. While others among giant-kin, such as the Jottun and the Ettin, became able to harness magic, the Kollossae found they had become potent conduits of arcane power. They believed their worship of Ethene set them apart from—indeed, above—their cousins. Their goddess had surely favored them with the wisdom to master the magical arts.
With this newfound power awakened within the giants, Kollossae society began to rapidly mature and evolve. An order of mages called the Oraculum was founded to study the arcane arts, which soon rivaled the Order of the Ash in terms of its potency. Oraculum mages became key advisers to Kollossae leaders.
As the years passed, the physical form of the Kollossae changed—no more did they look like the primitive hill giants of the Ouranos. The Kollossae took on a regal and noble appearance, and by the end of the Age of Arcana, they would more closely resemble the visage of Ethene herself.
To demonstrate their prowess as lords of the Ouranos, the giants ordered construction of a capital city called Ethenias. The city was to be built high atop the soaring peaks of Jentilak, as close to the gods as possible. But the Ouranos was a notoriously unstable alliance, held together more by force than diplomacy. The Ettin, still bitter over losing leadership of the Ouranos, refused to help in the construction, as did the savage barbarians known as the Deinir. The Kollossae and their Jottun allies built the city themselves, completing its initial fortifications in 1171 BE (2106 NW). The Kollossae made their homes in the highest parts of Ethenias, the Jottun inhabited the lower reaches of the city, and the other Ouranos races were only allowed to settle just within the outermost walls.
The ambitious Kollossae wished to transform the Ouranos from an unstable alliance of pillagers and raiders into a true world power on par with the great kingdoms of Amalur. They announced a desire to open diplomatic ties to the other kingdoms, which required that there be no further raids on neighboring lands. This was a fundamental change to the Ouranos' long tradition of invading other kingdoms and taking what they wanted by force.
The Deinir looked upon the Kollossae's attempts at diplomacy with contempt, believing the giants were showing weakness. Together with the Ettin, who wanted to regain leadership of the Ouranos, the Deinir plotted the overthrow of the Kollossae regime. Knowing that a successful assault upon Ethenias would require a massive force, the Ettin enlisted the help of the mountain troll clans, offering them the spoils of victory should they help overthrow the Kollossae. The trolls eagerly agreed.
Amidst the harvest season of 1131 BE (2146 NW), the rebel army attacked. The Kollossae and Jottun were driven back into Ethenias. Some bands of Jottun, eager to return to the old ways, broke ranks and sided with the rebels. These ogres were called Riisar, a Jottun word meaning "traitors," which they adopted with relish.
Once winter hit and the deep snows fell, conditions made fighting in the mountainous terrain difficult. The rebel army laid siege to Ethenias, so the Kollossae and Jottun remained within the walls and prepared for open warfare to resume in the spring.
When at last the thaws came, the priests of Ethene conducted rituals to their divine matron to ask for her guidance in the battle ahead. In the midst of the ceremony, a shimmering visage of the goddess appeared. The high priest was granted a vision of a distant place where sharp mountains jutted upwards like massive teeth.
As the rebels prepared to launch their attack against Ethenias, a great earthquake shook the land, opening a deep chasm that cut off the advancing army. The Kollossae priests declared that this was another sign from Ethene; as the land was sundered, so the Kollossae and the Jottun were to break away from the other giants. Instead of continuing the war, the giants and ogres made their way down the mountain toward the coast, where the Ouranos longships sat in harbor. A force of volunteers—mostly Jottun who scorned the idea of leaving a fight unfinished—would remain behind to hold off the rebels so that the others could begin their pilgrimage.
The sacrifice of those staying behind—immortalized as “the Stand of the Blessed” by Kollossae bards and scorned as “the Cravens' Folly” by the rebels—bought the time necessary for the Ethenian ships to depart from Jentilak. The enraged rebels slaughtered those who remained, then marched to Ethenias and sacked the city. The Ettin took control of the Ouranos again, abandoning any notion of diplomacy with the other kingdoms.
The priests of Ethene led the fleet eastward across the Baleful Sea to the heart of Alfaria. A single word revealed to them in the vision from Ethene resonated within their hearts: Hyperian. Their faith guided them to the shores of Alfaria, where they found the jagged mountains called the Teeth of Naros. It was here that they received yet another sign: a shrine decorated with an image of a great floating city, tended by priests called the Thrones of Ethene. The Kollossae resolved to build a new city, one worthy of the goddess they revered.
First, however, the giants would need to tame the wilds of Naros, a land fraught with peril. It would take many years, filled with countless trials, before the Kollossae would discover how to employ an array of sacred relics to build the great floating city of Idylla. Once the city was finally established, the Kollossae were well on their way to becoming one of the great kingdoms of Amalur.
V. Founding of AdessaEdit
1082 BE (2195 NW)
Since the attack that wiped out their monastery centuries before, the gnomes had been reluctant to establish a single, centralized kingdom. They felt it wiser to spread out in smaller numbers, either settling in quiet villages located in friendly territory or living within the cities of allied kingdoms. Since the gnomes often made beneficial contributions to their communities, their allies appreciated their presence.
But with the surge of magic in the world and the rising prominence of other kingdoms, the Templars believed the time had come to demonstrate the full measure of gnomish accomplishment. After squelching the few voices who expressed concern that drawing so much attention to themselves may prove dangerous, the gnomes drew up plans for a grand city which would serve as the center of knowledge and learning in Amalur.
The enterprising gnomes selected a site in Detyre, located at the southern edge of the Faelands. This arid region was rich in natural resources and vibrant with Fae magic, and it had not been claimed by any of the world's great kingdoms. The city of Adessa was founded in 1082 BE (2195 NW), though construction would continue for decades as the gnomes sought to make the city ever more impressive. The centerpiece of Adessa would be a grand library to display the gnomes' massive collection of ancient books, scrolls, and artifacts. In the great halls of the city, the Scholars could conduct research and experiments with the direction of the Templars, all while safely under the protection of the renowned Praetorians.
With magic in the world reaching unprecedented levels of potency, it was believed that the gnomes' quest for immortality—the Well of Souls—was close to reaching fruition. The sensitive nature of these experiments required a heightened degree of secrecy, as well as access to a crucial resource: test subjects. When war broke out in the northern Faelands, the greatest minds were dispatched to labor in secret toward the gnomes' ultimate goal.
VI. The Crystal War BeginsEdit
1049 BE (2228 NW)
The Fae of the Court of Winter embodied the influences of death and decay, necessary facets of the natural order. The Tuatha Deohn were a sect of Winter Fae who played out their role in the Great Cycle, as all Fae had done for untold ages.
But as change came to the mortal races, so it came to the Tuatha. From the lowest of their ranks arose Gadflow, a madman who slew the High King of Winter and usurped the throne. Scorning the ways of the old gods of nature, Gadflow proclaimed his devotion to a new god arising beneath the mountains of Alabastra, one that armed the Winter Fae with deadly weapons forged of prismere crystal. Having built himself an army of zealots, Gadflow did something that had been unthinkable for a Fae: he marched against the Alfar, plunging the Faelands into war.
The Tuatha invaded the Plains of Erathell under the cover of darkness, a brutal attack that the elves would refer to as the Night of Blood and Fire. The violent Fae attacked the port city of Rathir, setting the southern edge of the city ablaze. Though the city's defenses held, the battle was a costly one for the elves.
After suffering brutal losses over a long, bloody winter, the Alfar achieved their first decisive victory in the Battle for Galafor Plain. For a time, the elves had gained the upper hand in the war, pushing back against the Tuatha incursion in a series of conflicts that culminated in the Battle of the Caeled Coast.
Pushed out of Erathell, the Tuatha regrouped in Klurikon and soon gained new momentum. Malwyn, Witchknight of the House of Pride, took his revenge on the Alfar army by summoning dark forces of chaos to battle alongside the Tuatha. The elves had no choice but to retreat to their fortress of Mel Senshir on the Day of Pale Swans. Though Mel Senshir withstood the Tuatha assault, the relentless Fae began a siege of the fortress that would last for years. The Alfar forces slowly dwindled while the Tuatha only seemed to grow stronger.
In the midst of this dark time, a new force arose to defy the threads of fate, changing the destinies of mortals and Fae alike. When the long struggle finally reached its conclusion, the Crystal War would have lasting repercussions that rippled throughout the history of Amalur.
VII. Birth of the AtirathiEdit
1022 BE (2255 NW)
In the course of fighting the Crystal War, three great warriors came to know one another: Elbin Descher, a brilliant Almain strategist; Amoran Bermond, a Ljosalfar officer and master of exotic weapons; and Amaya Sateri of the Bassawin, an incredibly swift physical fighter who could incapacitate her opponents with her bare hands. The three served together in many successful campaigns, and each learned to respect the others' skills, as well as the honor they showed in combat.
Years after the end of the war, Descher, Bermond, and Sateri's paths crossed once more, and an abiding bond began to form between the three. They spent hours discussing the countless conflicts they had played a part in, and each agreed that there must be something more to be gained from history than battle after battle fought for kingdoms and crowns. On that day, they sought a place far away from battle where they could reflect upon what their lives had taught them.
Their search took them to the southern reaches of Adelia, to the quiet land of Oniboros. On a bluff overlooking the small coastal village of Sagara, the three masters built a small dojo. Here they shared not only their martial knowledge with one another, but spent many hours discussing philosophy.
The masters lived in quiet seclusion until one morning when Descher observed ships landing on the shores, flying the flag of the dreaded Durek. The raiders attacked the village and captured its defenseless citizens. That evening, the three masters came down the mountain and attacked the Durek in their camp. By combining Descher's tactical knowledge with the martial prowess of Bermond and the fighting skill of Sateri, the trio defeated a force that vastly outnumbered them.
A few days later, the village shaman, a man named Berik Lomas, traveled up the mountain and asked to speak to the masters. The shaman explained how he too was a seeker of peace, and had spent years studying the magical arts for knowledge that would help him attain enlightenment. The three masters invited Lomas to stay with them, and together they combined the study of the mystical arts with their exploration of physical skills into a discipline they called Tiratha.
Word of the quiet masters who had saved the village began to spread across the land, inspiring visitors to journey from near and far. Those who wanted only to learn a new form of combat were politely ushered along their way, but those who sought greater awareness and purpose were allowed to stay and learn. The three masters were called Rishi, for they had attained enlightenment that they sought to share with the world.
Soon the small dojo was insufficient for the number of students who had come to learn from the Rishi. The grounds were expanded and called Ashram Sakinah, a place of learning and tranquility. The order was called the Atirathi, disciples who followed the path of Tiratha.
After many years, the three great Rishi finally passed from the world. It is said that they walked from the mountaintop together and disappeared into the clouds. Though they had trained other masters to replace them, out of respect for the work the three had done, no one would take the title of Rishi for a thousand years.
VIII. Streams of MagicEdit
In studying the rising tide of magic, gnomish Scholars in Adessa began to notice patterns emerging as lines of magical energy that seemed to connect various locations throughout the world began to manifest over time. In his writings on the subject, Savant Rence Barcel proposed that these connections, or mana streams, could be used to move objects—perhaps even living beings—rapidly between two points. Barcel's initial research showed promise, and seemed to have the potential to tie into other endeavors, such as the creation of the Well of Souls.
Other kingdoms, the Kollossae among them, also made strides in using Amalur's mana streams for transportation and communication. By creating special anchor points, they were able to utilize streams to move from the world's surface to their cloud city of Idylla.
Research into the mana streams would continue throughout the Age of Arcana, though widespread use would not be achieved until later in history.
For over a century after the end of the Crystal War, the Ljosalfar debated amongst themselves what their role should be in world affairs. The more conservative elements of their society urged that the elves remain insular, maintaining Glen Suthain and staying clear of external conflicts. But in this age of rising magic, a more cosmopolitan viewpoint was gradually becoming popular amongst the Ljosalfar elite. Other kingdoms were expanding their influence across the world, and a growing number of light elves thought they should follow a similar path.
It was decided that the Ljosalfar would found a new settlement outside their Eldrith lands, a place where they could more easily interact with the other kingdoms. The winter elves looked eastward to the tranquil beauty of Laran, an area dotted with a few small human villages. Laran was also home to the peaceful Hylarans, an amphibious race that dwelled in and along the Hessen River. Here the elves built Tolyndrae, a beautiful city of magic and wonder.
Within their new city, the Ljosalfar built a campus for the Scholia Arcana. Masters of arcane knowledge from Rathir traveled to Tolyndrae to teach alongside the Order of the Ash. As its reputation grew, Tolyndrae became renowned as a center of magical research and study. The light elves began to relish their new role as mentors to the races still struggling to understand the gift of magic.
X. War of the RotEdit
867 BE (2410 NW)
The harsh lands of Fortenmar were home to a legendary druid who communed with the spirits of nature unlike any other before her. She was called Rhianara, and some accounts paint her as the very personification of nature itself. Rhianara traveled about Amalur, and wherever she stopped, followers would gather and start their own enclaves dedicated to following her teachings.
One of her most devoted students was a Ljosalfar named Borengar. The light elf had come from afar to learn from the druid, and the two traveled together for many years. Borengar came to love Rhianara, but the great matron focused only on her duties to the land. He persisted, believing that in their union the two would become more powerful than any before them. When Rhianara realized that her pupil sought to use her knowledge for conquest, she cast him out and declared him a heretic.
Borengar was filled with hatred for his former leader. He approached a cabal of sorcerers called House Urdalen and formed an alliance. He combined the arts of the sorcerers with his own, perverting the teachings he had learned as a druid and delving deep into the ways of dark magic. Borengar's sorceries unleashed a malignancy that corrupted his soul even further, and he became known as Borengar the Darkened. It is said he had the ability to corrupt any living thing he touched. The twisted Alfar built an army of followers and marched across the land, intent on touching Rhianara and bending her to his will.
When Rhianara learned what had become of her former pupil, she gathered together her followers and went to meet his army on the edge of the Heaving Swamps. The twisted disciples of Borengar fought the druids of Rhianara in a battle that lasted days. When one side advanced, the other would drive it back.
As the costly stalemate wore on, Rhianara realized what must be done for balance to be restored. During a daring assault, she broke the lines of battle and faced Borengar directly. Borengar gazed upon the face of the woman he had once loved with a hatred so deep and so dark that the ground around him withered and blackened. In one final act of loathing, Rhianara's fallen disciple wrapped his hands around her neck and unleashed the full force of his corruptive magic into her body.
Rather than try to avoid his attack, Rhianara instead absorbed his dark energy into herself and allowed the power of life within her to overcome his corruption. Borengar screamed in horror as the dark essence he'd fostered for so many years was drawn from his body. With a final shriek of pain-fueled rage, he crumbled to dust before the eyes of his followers. The ranks of Borengar the Darkened were driven from the battlefield and pursued mercilessly by Rhianara's druids.
Borengar may have been defeated and his corrupt army scattered, but the price of victory was a terrible one. The only way Rhianara's spirit could survive the ordeal was for her to give herself over to nature and become one with it. Her physical body dissipated, but the purity of her spirit lived on. The ground where she won her victory was renewed, and it blossomed more than any other place in Fortenmar. Called Rhianwood, the site became a beautiful grove that would remain a stunning source of purity and nature within an often harsh and unforgiving landscape.
XI. The Long WinterEdit
786 BE (2491 NW)
As the harvest season of 786 BE (2491 NW) arrived, auguries foretold that the winter would be unusually harsh and cold along the northern coasts of Fortenmar. Before the worst of the weather hit, the Dverga recalled their fleets to harbor in Emberdeep. Most captains complied, but some scoffed at the threat of ice and snow. They were Dverga, not cravens who trembled in the face of winter storms, and they refused to cower in port when there was profit to be made on the high seas.
The bitter winds of winter blew in from the Frostbreak Sea early that year, even before harvest season had ended. Emberdeep's harbor completely froze over, stranding the foolhardy captains who had refused to return to port. Those who could not find an open shore on which to land were lost at sea. The rest of the Dvergan fleet was trapped for the winter, unable to send out their traditional raiding parties to restock their larders. The dwarves were forced to endure the winter with the supplies they had on hand.
The months stretched on and winter refused to release its icy grip, and as their stores of food and medicine dwindled, the dwarfs grew restless and hungry. The traditional day of spring's arrival came and went, but still the cold would not relent. Many of those who were sick and weak did not survive to see the thaw that finally reached Obsidian Isle weeks later. At last, the waters of Avgrunn Sound again became navigable, and Dvergan raiding vessels sailed south to seek plunder.
When the coast of Fortenmar came into view, the Dvergan sailors expected to see the familiar fishing villages that had dotted the shorelines for generations. But where the quiet settlement of Olghorn once stood, now a massive fort overlooked its natural harbor. The stout fortifications of the structure were impressive, with catapults and ballistae poking out over the crenellations, aimed seaward. Dvergan spotters noted human heads peering over the walls—the fort was defended by Varani.
The Dverga, ever proud, did not divert course for easier pillaging. Nor did they mount a suicidal rush on the fortified position. Instead, the bulk of the fleet sailed westward, making for a nearby stretch of shore. The dwarves planned to launch a combined naval and ground assault and overrun the feeble humans.
The rest of the fleet waited off the coast for three days—the agreed-upon time—then sailed into range of the fort and engaged the Varani, matching their own catapults and crossbows against those of the defenders. The dwarves expected their ground forces to join the battle, but the land assault never came. The fleet kept up the attack for as long as it could, until spotters noted Dvergan ships sailing north, far to the west of the besieging fleet.
The ground forces had been met just inland by a combined Jottun and Varani army, which ambushed the dwarves and drove them back toward the sea. Several Dvergan ships were destroyed and the survivors were chased away. The Dverga who had remained off the coast realized the second fleet had been turned away; demoralized and lacking ground support, they turned and sailed off to pillage easier targets.
Fort Olghorn would remain in Varani hands for some years, becoming a hub for trade, but the dwarves held long grudges. The failed Dvergan siege proved only the first of many battles for control of Fort Olghorn over the years to come.
XII. The Northern KingdomEdit
515 BE (2762 NW)
Having gained the ability to directly control magic, the Almain kingdom steadily grew in influence throughout the Age of Arcana. Port Myria became one of the world's great trading hubs, and the increasing wealth and power of the Almain caused them to search for more land and resources to acquire, since Almere Valley itself was bordered by Kollossae lands.
Almain ships carried settlers northward to Laran, where trading outposts were built near the mouth of the Hessen River. The Almain engaged in commerce with the Ljosalfar mages who inhabited Tolyndrae. A village called Nordenholdt was founded in 641 BE (2636 NW), and farmlands soon sprang up in the area. As the settlement grew, affluent Almain built expensive manses and had their children tutored by the mages of Tolyndrae, while commerce and trade flourished on the banks of the Hessen. The Almain referred to the region as Crownhold, considering the lands to be under the control of their king back in Port Myria.
The Hylarans, who had villages beneath the Hessen River and along its banks, became increasingly affected by the encroachment of the Almain. Though the humans were not overtly aggressive to the reclusive Hylarans, their sheer numbers forced the aquatic people to retreat beneath the water's surface.
Over time, Nordenholdt became as prosperous as Port Myria in its own right. With the proximity of the Scholia Arcana in Tolyndrae, more and more of the wealthy elite who made their fortunes in the trade of magical goods came to settle in Crownhold. The seat of the Almain kingdom remained in Port Myria, which upheld the simple traditions of farming, soldiering, smithing, and trading.
The northerners grew to resent the taxes being sent to Myria, while the southerners looked upon the people of Nordenholdt as privileged elitists who had forgotten the simple principles that made their kingdom strong. As the years passed, this division only deepened.
In the winter of 526 BE (2751 NW), King Cordrick II set out from Port Myria to sail to Nordenholdt to meet with the city's governor. A sudden squall erupted on the Hessen Bay, causing the king's barge to crash on the rocks off the shores of Naros. Cordrick's entire entourage, including his young daughter and only heir, drowned.
With no clear line of succession to the throne, the Almain noble houses began jockeying for position to be named the next royal line. The strongest claims came from Almere Valley, where some families could trace their lineage all the way back to Almere the Bold himself. Yet the more prosperous families lived in the north, where many claimed to have a better grasp on how to lead the Almain people into the future.
The heads of the major Almain noble families met in Port Myria to work out the kingdom's new political structure, a process that typically involved one house being anointed the next royal line while concessions were paid to the others with strong claims. But the philosophical split between the northern and southern halves of the kingdom proved too great to overcome: when the head of the most prominent northern family felt her house had been insulted by the southerners, she left the proceedings, followed by the other houses of Crownhold. In their absence, the houses of Myria chose Conrad Ulmden as the next king, crowned Conrad I.
The nobles of Crownhold were incensed by this move and refused to recognize the authority of Conrad I. Instead, they chose their own king from a northern family, Jereas Dersch, who took the name Jereas IV (having been named after a distant relative, King Jereas III). The first act of this new northern king was to declare Crownhold a sovereign state, free from paying taxes or homage to Port Myria. But to avoid overtly turning against his own people, Jereas vowed to uphold the principles of the Almain and defend all citizens of the two realms whenever danger should threaten them.
Though King Conrad refused to recognize the legitimacy of Crownhold's sovereignty, he was reluctant to ignite a full-scale civil war that would tear the Almain apart. He realized that, though his standing army was greater, King Jereas had deeper pockets to fund a sustained conflict. Although it incensed some of his followers, Conrad began a process of diplomacy to attempt to bring the north back under the Almain banner.
Ultimately, Conrad's efforts would prove futile. Upon the king's passing, his son, Conrad II, took the throne and vowed to reclaim the north by force if necessary. In response, the next northern king, Jereas V, rescinded his father's declaration of protection for Almain outside of his own realm. A civil war seemed inevitable.
But as Conrad II built up his forces in preparation for a siege of Nordenholdt, the tide of chaos rising on his borders captured the king's attention and resources. Little could Conrad suspect that his kingdom would soon face a graver peril...