The First war of night
A telling of this major story event which took place in mid 2015.
As the sun shone down upon the morning of the 25th of Midsummer, the sky wrenched open, exposing the Shadow Plane. After decades spent within the Shadow Plane, fighting the beasts and Shadowbound within, Severn, the Manipulator broke free, fighting the denizens of the Plane every inch of the way. Before He was able to close it once more, however, Ati, the Shadow rose from the Itzatl, engaged the Manipulator, and gained entry to the Shadow Plane, reuniting once more with Ohlsana, the Shadow Mother. During the fight between them, the Lance of Irissotl - wielded against the shadows by the Manipulator - was broken beyond all repair.
In the wake of the temporary breach, shadows assaulted the Cities of Spinesreach and Bloodloch, and spread out across the Mamashi and the Itzatl. The greatest casualties were suffered by the Rajamala of Saluria, of whom hundreds were slain at the hands of the shadows; the village itself was devastated and torn apart, not likely to be repaired again anytime soon. The Manipulator vanished soon after falling from the sky and into the Mamashi, offerings only these words amid His broken laughter:
"I lost. I couldn't defeat them. They're coming."
As Lleian drew to a close, the sky yawned open once again, and the Shadow Plane was breached. Ati, the Shadow, empowered by Its Mother Ohlsana, was joined by the Shadow Lord Murgraxis, and shadows flooded downward upon the continent of Sapience. Seeking to free the Shadow Mother, the two leaders of the invasion threatened the slow, painful demise of the
continent unless Damariel, the Unbound - whose predecessor Lanos forged the Shadow Mother's prison to begin with - was revealed and slain, permitting the trapped Goddess Her freedom.
While shadows swarmed the cities of the land, the Gods met the shadows in combat above the continent - Auresae, Chakrasul, Damariel, and Slyphe brought Their combined forces to bear against Murgraxis and Ati. However, Ohlsana's blessing upon the shadows, combined with their sheer, unassailable volume, soon won out against the Gods of Sapience.
The battle culminated in a horrific explosion as Auresae sacrificed Herself to forestall Ati - this attempt was unsuccessful, though She perished in the process, Her order and Her shrines dissolved. The other Gods have been scattered and wounded, and have not since shown Themselves. In the wake of Auresae's demise, the sun has gone dark, giving way to eternal night.
There was but one glimmer of light amid the growing darkness - the Exarch Aban, Hand of the Il'ahji, arrived upon the continent from the Plane of Spirit, along with a legion of Duamvi. Though disgusted by the Corruption and Shadow he perceives in the land of Aetolia, he has opted to remain and discover what may be done to advance the cause of Light in the darkest days of Midnight.
The raids continue unabated as shadows swoop down from the still-open rift - the village of Sterion has been claimed by the Shadow armies, and though Murgraxis and Ati have been silent since the fateful encounter with the Gods, their beasts of shadow scourge the land. Of these, the most fearsome are the armies of Shadowbound, shapeshifting, mutable monstrosities that take on the visages of their victims.
Late in the month of Lanosian, while shadows from the Shadow Plane continued to set upon the continent of Sapience, the silence on the eastern coast was broken by the sound of a hornpipe and drums. A fleet from the newly-reunified Nazedha Empire, led by Emperor Baelak Shipbreaker, sailed upon the east of the continent, intent on fulfilling the apocalyptic prophecies of their dark master, the mysterious Lanu Du.
Though the God Slyphe attempted to prevent their landfall, a combination of dark magic and power from Lanu Du empowered the fleet, permitting them to resist the Tempest's storms and ultimately impale Him on the bowsprit of the Emperor Baelak's flagship. Though He survived the attack, He was forced to retreat, having only destroyed a small number of ships within the fleet.
Making landfall, the Nazedha made their designs upon the City of Delos clear. A battle for the town raged, the people of Sapience against the Nazedha invaders. Soon the melee was joined by shadows, intent on devouring whatever they could reach - including the Nazedha. After sweeping through Delos and murdering many of the inhabitants, the sages of Baelak's fleet brought forth jade fire, which scourged the City from top to bottom. Qeddwyn, the Wise was taken alive, and is now captive aboard the Nazedha Emperor's frigate.
Nazedha now roam the eastern reaches of the continent, burning the forests and killing whatever stands in their path. The shadows appear violently opposed to their incursion, such that the two sides, despite holding in common a desire to obliterate the continent, include one another in their definition of 'continent'.
The Nazedha Rampant
The Nazedha and the Shadow Plane continued to plague the realm during Lanosian and Niuran, with no great incident beyond the former's occasional raids upon the eastern coast, and the latter's strikes against the Cities of Sapience. Arbothia was the second casualty of the Nazedha strikes, their inhabitants fleeing to seek refuge within the City of Enorian - at the forefront of the efforts to recover survivors from Arbothia were Rashar Kynoura, Aithene Silverain, Rivas Silverain, Tenshyo Tanarian, and Aarbrok Furor.
The Ithmia was set ablaze once more by Nazedha raiders, further withering the trees and plants already choked by lack of sunlight. Meanwhile, as a major foci opened across the Siroccians, the Nazedha - unsuccessfully - attempted to intercept it toward their own purposes, but were ultimately thwarted by the united forces of Bloodloch.
Aarbrok Furor, employing a catapult, attempted to attack the Nazedha fleet with an explosive of his own invention, a combination of an assassination attempt by Nazedha blackguards and a miscalculation of range resulted in the explosive falling short and detonating harmlessly upon the eastern coast, rather than amid the Nazedha ships.
The final Nazedha raid of Niuran struck the coastal town of Mournhold - and despite the efforts of the Kelki natives to fight for their homeland, the surface was razed. The warrens beneath, however, were left mysteriously untouched by the xenocidal invaders. In spite of continuing attacks from shadows and raiders, the month has not been marked by significant, devastating incident.
The Conquest of Enorian
Late in the month of Slyphian, the Nazedha struck again - this time at Enorian. The city had spent much of the days before preparing for an attack from sea, aided in no small part by explosives from the Troll Ferlbo, and the machines of the dwarven engineer Rhulin, but the Nazedha attack proved too much for what defenses had been mustered.
Making headway against ballista fire, catapult bombardment, and the combined forces of the brave defenders, the Nazedha swarmed the city, taking it and driving the surviving Enorianites into exile upon Mostyn and Ilhavon. Unable to destroy the Sparks, the Emperor has settled for flying the Empire's flag upon Enorian's palace.
The defenders of Enorian were not the only forces to lash out at the Nazedha forces, however - days after the city fell, the Cabalists, in a ritual led by the Commissar Akaryuterra Ryotega Junakutz-Lionheart, focused the heat of the realm upon the city, burning not only its buildings but many of the occupying Nazedha. The death toll from this magical attack is currently unknown, but it was not devastating enough to break control over the city.
Shadows swarmed the continent during the winter month of Haernos, setting upon the four Cities of the continent and the countryside at large. Nazedha and Sapient natives alike fought tooth and nail against raids of unprecedented strength and ferocity, driven by Ati, the Shadow, and the Shadow Lord Murgraxis.
A lull in the fighting was broken by Yettave Arcan Bouchard, inquiring of Ati whether the raids had come to an end - as if to spite him, yet more shadows descended in the wake of his question.
Although there were fears that the Emperor Baelak Shipbreaker would attempt a ritual to bring about Lanu Du and the prophecies of the Nazedha during the month, it became clear that numbers within the conquered City of Enorian were insufficient to permit him to do so.
Although a raid was attempted against the Enorianites taking refuge in the Ilhavon and Mostyn, the defenders successfully repelled the oncoming Nazedha.
It became clear, in the wake of this small victory against the invaders, that dissent was occurring among the Nazedha ranks - forced to assert his authority publicly against the Chieftains of the tribes of Karthek and Adessim, the Emperor recalled his forces, biding his time in spite of a previous promise to bring about apocalypse by the new year.
Only time will tell whether the Emperor will attempt his eldritch ritual and try to bring about an end to all things.
Fire and Symmetry
Upon the month of Variach, the Nazedha Emperor Baelak Shipbreaker found a solution to the problem of too few sacrifices - intending to suppress rebellion within the ranks and fulfill the prophecy and the ritual simultaneously, he took the men of the Nazedha tribes Karthek and Adessim and put them to the blade alongside captured victims, using them to spill the necessary blood.
He was not met without challenge, however - braving the Nazedha-invested City, the combined forces of Sapience, aided by explosives from the dwarven engineer Rhulin, attempted a last-ditch strike to stop the ritual in its tracks. The Nazedha forces proved fearsome, however, and hope seemed lost until a fragment of Omei, taking the form of a glowing cat, opened a portal past the Nazedha lines and straight to the Nazedha Emperor - now ascended into the form of a Chaos Lord.
The ensuing battle, in which the Duamvi Aban was mortally wounded, raged across a good portion of the day - many of the Nazedha fought amongst each other in the streets, driven to rebellion over Shipbreaker's slaughter of his own men. Surrounded by chaos, it was unpredictable from moment to moment what would serve to hurt the Emperor, and what would not - but in the end, the people of Sapience emerged victorious despite their losses in the battle of Enorian.
That was not all, however - soon after the death of the Emperor, the skies opened, and it seemed for a moment that the ritual had worked. Unfortunately, however, for the Nazedha, it had not been sufficient to awaken Lanu Du, the Faceless God, merely to stir It in Its slumbers. In response, It lashed out at Enorian, flattening the City and much of the remaining Nazedha army before rolling back over and resuming its sleep.
As the people of Sapience returned to the ruined lands, they discovered a crater where Enorian's palace had been, filled with ocean water - and just off the shore, the remnants of the Nazedha fleet. Boarding the main vessel and killing the Emperor's skald, they descended into its depths and rescued Qeddwyn, the Wise - Lenci, the Luminary tutor - and capturing the Empress of Nazedha, Freydha Shipbreaker.
While Qeddwyn traveled with Bloodloch, Lenci set off in an effort to save what was left of the Sparks following the devastation of Enorian. The Empress, meanwhile, was taken into the custody of Enorian, after commanding the remaining Nazedha forces to surrender. The Nazedha Empire, as it transpired, was no more - without Baelak to unite them, and with many of them frightened of Lanu Du after witnessing It firsthand, they had become splintered and fragmented into their old tribal rivalries.
In the wake of this destruction, three new personages emerged - the first two were Goddesses. One was Ethne, the Rekindled, the reincarnation of Mebrene into the Ogre smith Katshkele; the other, a Goddess of new origins altogether, was Avareti, titleless and ill-understood as of yet. The third was a prophet, reincarnated from the soul of the first Illuminai whom Lenci had carried with her for many hundreds of years - and this was Kayalenki, sent by the Gods to serve the cause of Light in Enorian. Avareti, being tethered to Shadow, made Her way north toward Spinesreach, while Ethne remained in the south.
Kayalenki went to the ruins of Enorian, however, and called upon the fragment of Omei embodied as a glowing cat - and together, with the cat sacrificing Her essence and Her being to the effort, they raised not only a Temple, but a Grand Flame that was an amalgamation of the Spark of the Luminaries and the Crescent of the Daru. Standing at the center of the ruins and casting its light downward upon the nearby territory, the Temple stands as a moment to the Gods and to the triumph of Light over the Nazedha.
The shadows have remained quiet in Variach, though there is no telling when they will strike once more, and with still-greater vehemence.
Upon the month of Severin, rebuilding began in the ruins of Enorian - as Rhulin, the dwarven architect drafted plans in preparation for the reclamation of the city, refugees trickled from the Ilhavon and Mostyn, whether to return to the villages, to the sacred places of their various Gods, or simply to go to the Temple at the center of the ruins.
The last vestiges of the Nazedha threat were resolved permanently as, under the authority of the Empress Freydha Shipbreaker, wife of the late Baelak, they surrendered to the forces of Enorian. The prophet, Kayalenki, prayed for cleansing - and was answered by hundreds upon hundreds of the defeated Nazedha, pure of Corruption, marching out of the waters. They had been reborn as Arqeshi - Nazetu free of Chakrasul.
The Arqeshi, uniformly recognizing that they had no desire to return to their previous state, and that there would be no place for them in the islands they had left behind, agreed to join with the Enorianites; many divided amongst the guilds, while others entered into service as laborers and carpenters, ready to build a new city upon the ruins of the old.
The shadow raids have remained steady but restrained, with no word from Ati, the Shadow nor the Shadow Lord Murgraxis. The rift grows ever wider, to the point where it eclipses much of the sky - with the Gods still giving no clear response, the time in which a solution to the threat remains viable is ever dwindling.
Blood and Hunger
In the depths of Iosian, the Shadowbound, led by Ati, the Shadow, turned upon Bloodloch, intent on not only devouring and subjugating it, but bending it utterly to the will of the Shadow Mother, Ohlsana.
Challenging Bloodloch to either perish or to surrender their Primus, Abhorash Nehekhara, they were answered by the Primus himself advancing into the cold desert, challenging the Shadow to come and take him.
A fight broke out among the Primus and the Shadow, the two figures battling across the dunes. Though the Primus fought bravely, shredding the creature's flesh and spilling its dark blood upon the ground, he was ultimately rent apart by Ati's powerful limbs, his mist swallowed. It seemed, for a time, as if the Primus might have perished upon the Mhojave.
As Ati rose to rejoin the Shadowbound, however, it soon became clear that Its victory was not sure - It began to struggle and shrink in upon Itself, devoured from within, unable to prevent the attack from within Itself. Moments later, the Primus reformed upon the desert - having not only slain Ati from within, but having absorbed Its shadowy essence as well. Time will tell what new capabilities he has been endowed with, in light of his gruesome victory.
Shortly afterward, the Shadowbound and the other denizens of the Shadow Plane fled from Bloodloch, fearing that the Primus would devour them as well. The Shadow Lord Murgraxis, swearing vengeance upon the realm for Ati, the Shadow's demise, proceeded to unleash more of the Shadow Plane's creatures upon the realm, focusing upon the cities of Spinesreach and Duiran.
The Return of the Sun
In the month of Arios, the Goddess Iosyne, the Malevolent grew impatient with the seemingly interminable pace of the war against the Shadowbound and took more direct action - namely, by propelling Herself into the sky and engaging in direct combat against the creatures in the heavens.
Tearing through them in droves, She engaged the rift, using Her own considerable power over shadow to temporarily stop it up, commanding the people of Sapience to march to Sterion.
The Minotaur village was not only found open to the continent at large, but infested with Shadowbound - the combined forces of the continent pushed them back in spite of great losses, seeking the source of the rift. This lay beneath the ground, and the portal itself was guarded by the Shadow Lord Murgraxis, the sole General of the Shadow Mother's forces.
Murgraxis proved a fierce and formidable foe, slaying warriors in droves as they advanced before him - the battle was long and difficult, but inch by inch they drove him back against the boundary between Prime and Shadow and forced him through, slaying him and sealing him into the Shadow beyond. Though echoes of the Shadow Lord persisted, slaying several more in the wake of his defeat, he was gone - but not slain.
The night sky was left empty for the first time in months - and Iosyne, the Malevolent retreated to nurse the grievous wounds She had sustained in battle with the Shadowbound. Shortly thereafter, the people of Enorian, aided by Ethne, the Rekindled, performed a ritual to raise the sun into the sky once more - afternoon returned in full force upon the fifteenth of Arios, the sun blazing down upon the lands with renewed strength and brilliance.
In the wake of the War of Night, one third of the continent's living population has died - whether by sickness, by starvation, at the hands of the Shadows, or in combat with the Nazedha invaders. The greatest losses were suffered upon the eastern portion of Sapience, though the western part of the continent was by no means free of suffering, rent as it was by the Shadowbound. The presence of Shadow had permanently warped Sapience - time now passes differently, the days progressing slower than before, the sun and the night both imbued with a greater strength than they had previously possessed.
Though the War of Night is ended, it has left its indelible mark upon the world and the heavens, a constant reminder to the people of Sapience that threats of great and unimaginable power lie barely constrained just beyond their reach. There is no telling what other consequences might befall the continent as a result of the extraplanar conflict that has wracked it.