By Jodocus Lipsius, Court Historian
- Printed by Ye Olde Presse, Verdistis -
As a member of the Prancing Seahorse gentleman's club of Aleroth, I am proud to present this little historical summary of mighty Rivellon. May the reader find elucidation among its pages, few and incomplete as they are. What knowledge I have I share; I can do no more.
Note on the abbreviations of time:
- AR: Anno Rivellonis. The ancient way of identifying specific years.
- AD: Anno Deorum. How we count years now, in honour of the Seven Gods.
WARNING! For those readers who are unfamiliar with these events, but intend to learn more about them by means of interactive scrying stones, I issue a SPOILER ALERT! No need to thank me.
8800 AR - Dragon Commander
So long ago did these events take place that they may well be sagas rather than truths, but ancient souls swear they happened as described beneath. I leave it to my lectors to make up their minds for themselves and separate what they think is reality from what they think is fiction.
When Rivellon's first emperor Sigurd was killed by his own children, a bloody war for the throne began. The entire world was said to be in danger of destruction, for rumours persist through time that all battles were fought with giant machines and airships of incredible and devastating power; technology long lost - perhaps merely a fable. In the end a Dragon Knight - and son of Sigurd - prevailed. Details are few and far between, but my research indicates that he had the backing of the legendary wizard Maxos. If so, what a mighty pair these two must have made!
The Lost Centuries
Almost nothing is known of these lost times. One can only deduct that the empire united by the aforementioned Dragon Knight must have fallen or slipped into decadence. Did it stand for a thousand years? Two-thousand? We may never know.
During these lost times one cataclysmic conflict did most certainly take place: the prolonged and brutal Wizard Wars. I shall elaborate a bit more on these events further down the time line.
4 AR - Original Sin
Sadly I must confess that once more my knowledge about these long forgotten times is diminutive at best. Very little is known about the strange and spectacular events that befell two so-called Source Hunters. Nevertheless, if one can put faith in the fragmented stories told by old wizards, they both prevented and set in motion events that changed the destiny of fair Rivellon herself.
I'd sell my soul to know more, but those damned mages are so damnably reticent! Zandalor knows all, of that I am sure, but not even two carafes of spiced elven wine stir his tongue to speak of what happened back then. Something must have! Shortly after, we even changed the way we count time! AR to AD ... Was it truly just to honour the gods?
The history of this world; I swear more of it is secret than is known.
100 AD - The First Rise and Fall of Chaos
In this black year a new enemy attacked Rivellon, more vicious than anything that came before. It was called Chaos and it had been worshipped and brought to power by sinister forces at work ever since those times Zandalor refuses to talk about. Might there be a link? This is mere assumption on my part, but we all know what they say about smoke and fire - and when thick smoke curls up out of the wizard's pipe as he gives me that stern stare of his when I press him upon the subject, I do start to suspect evil and intricate doings. But this is neither here nor there, so suffice to say that after long, brutal battles, the enemy - personified by the demonic Chaos Lord - was defeated by dwarven armies. They alone safeguarded the world from succumbing to Chaos during these times and still deserve lavish praise for doing so.
611 AD - The Second Rise and Fall of Chaos
The Chaos Demon had been defeated centuries before, but an insidious wizard by the name of Ulthring (how Zandalor glares when the name is mentioned) had rallied the wounded demon and amassed fresh armies anew. This time Rivellon would have surely fallen had it not been for the Sacrifice of Seven: empowered by the Seven Gods, a human, a dwarf, an elf, a lizard, an imp and an orc gave their lives so that the Lord of Chaos would be defeated. Among them was Duke Ruben Ferol, and it was his apprentice Ralph who walked away from the battlefield with Ulthring's sword: the ill-fated Sword of Lies.
1218 AD - Divine Divinity
Alas it seems that Chaos can never be finally beaten, for even though centuries passed, its nefarious influence remained awake - and plotted.
(Let me interject that finally we come to those parts of our history with which I am much more familiar and my narrative will be the more elaborate for it.)
I'm sorry to say evil festered from within: humans, loyal to the Damned Hordes, sought not only to ensure the return of their dark master, but to give his Demonic form human semblance, so that rather than to destroy Rivellon, he would come to rule her. This group, known as the Black Ring, were close to achieving their goal and would doubtless have succeeded had it not been for both the tireless vigilance of Zandalor and the startling fate of an adventurer named Lucian.
This adventurer, guided as he was by the forces of good, exposed the Black Ring’s sinister schemes and when the time came willingly underwent a daring ritual that infused him with the powers of the Seven Gods who feared that Chaos could threaten their very existence. So the Divine was born!
Leaving but grim corpses in his wake - and aided as he was by a dragon; the Patriarch - the avatar of light followed the enemy to its stronghold, nestled deep beneath the desert wastes of Yuthul Gor, where he stalked and killed every Black Ring elder until finally he and their diabolic leader, the Demon of Lies, stood snout to face. The fiend smiled and told the Divine he was too late: the transfer was complete and the Lord of Chaos would walk again. Indeed, behind him, on a large altar lay a newborn infant, a shell of innocence wrapped around a soul of utter corruption. The Divine’s sword saw the Demon dead, but despite being able to put an end to the vast plague that had almost brought Rivellon to her knees, he could not bring himself to kill the child.
1218 to 1233 AD - The Youth of Damian
Lucian named his 'son' Damian, and for years the Damned One, unaware of the terrible forces that brimmed beneath his boyish exterior, grew up under the Divine’s tutelage. Until he met Ygerna. Sent to seduce Damian by her father, the Black Ring necromancer Kalin, she befriended the young man, who was instantly infatuated with her. Not only did she return his affections, but also his long slumbering powers. They practiced innocent spells at first, but later on more sinister magic, rarer incantations, and, most dangerous of all, they unravelled forbidden knowledge. For some time, Damian's Divine foster parent was blissfully oblivious of Ygerna’s ominous influence on his son, until evidence connected her to Kalin, whom he had recently executed. When questioned she confessed that she supported his rotten stratagems, the most important of these being the renascence of Damian’s dark, dormant powers.
After hearing such hideous testimony, Lucian had no choice but to execute Ygerna in turn: the Black Ring never enjoys clemency, whatever the circumstances. Under the eyes of the wise, but worry-plagued Zandalor, the Divine’s sword severed Ygerna’s head from her body. Yet, at that prophetic moment, while Ygerna’s blood was still claiming more territory on the floor, Damian entered and gave voice to a spell that utterly stunned even that mighty ensemble: the spell of Soul Forging. Before anyone could react, Damian turned back and seemingly disappeared. The Divine knew his son would from then on be his greatest foe and understood that Damian had already realised a great deal of his black potential: he who can Soul Forge, is a stupendous adversary indeed. The Damned One walked again.
As Lucian and Damian gathered their armies, Zandalor contemplated the repercussions of Damian’s acts. A Soul Forge is an exceptional enough event in its own right; a Soul Forge with a soul as it dwells amidst the few fragments of time between life and death, was unprecedented. Uncertain of the consequences for either him or Damian, he entrusted Ygerna’s body to the care of embalmers, forgoing the usual ritual burning of Black Ring corpses.
1233 AD - Damian Is Banished To Nemesis
Within days, the Black Ring and Divine Paladins clashed. Damian though, had eyes for Lucian only: he would show him the same kindness he had shown Ygerna. What he did not know was that the Divine was ready for him. He would lure his son to a Rift Temple and, if all went according to plan, banish him to another dimension. Blinded as he was by his all-consuming wrath, Damian did not realise he was being drawn into a trap and soon he was locked away in shadow haunted Nemesis. The Divine returned to Rivellon, glad that the threat his foster son posed was eliminated, yet strangely mournful because he realised that despite the evil that had taken hold of him, Damian’s spur-of-the-moment Soul Forge was essentially an act of love.
1238 AD - Beyond Divinity
The Damned One however, made the best of his situation in Nemesis. He bode his time, grew in stature and power, until he did what most thought could not be done: with the help of a duped paladin who knew not it was Damian he was fighting with side by side, he broke free from his prison dimension and initially overran the surprised Rivellonian forces.
1238 to 1300 AD - The Rise and Fall of Damian and the Divine
His thoughts were still wholly focused on one thing: to destroy the Divine and so revenge Ygerna. The war changed the face of Rivellon: for years it raged and one catastrophic event followed the other. Where once there were mountains there are now flat scorched plains and picturesque farmlands have been pushed up and turned into jagged cliffs. Nevertheless mankind faced its infernal foes with remarkable courage and tenacity. A decisive reason for their stubborn optimism was the new forged alliance between the Divine and the now very rare, but still immensely powerful Dragon Knights, the last and elusive proponents of Dragon magic in the Demon-swept realms. Throughout the climactic battle, the scales of victory could have tipped either way. But then the unthinkable happened: one of the Dragon Knights betrayed and slew the unsuspecting Divine. During the confusion that ensued, the Paladins started to fight Dragon and Demon alike. Luckily Zandalor was able to rally the troops and so narrowly avoid disaster. Damian, who had already lost much of his forces and had seen his revenge materialised, ordered his army to abandon the field. His dominion over Rivellon could wait. And besides, he had other things on his mind.
The war ended, but the fighting never stopped. Enraged by the betrayal of the Dragon Knights and the death of the Divine, humanity saw the foundation of the Order of Dragon Slayers, which specialised in the eradication of the Patriarch's chosen few. With Maxos gone and the Patriarch unwilling to intervene, their already very small number dwindled fast until ultimately only one remained: Talana.
1300 AD - Divinity II - The Dragon Knight Saga
Talana was hunted without pause and without remorse, but when she was finally tracked down and mortally wounded by the greatest of Dragon Slayers, Commander Rhode, she yielded all her powers to a young Dragon Slayer recruit who thereby became the last Dragon Knight.
It became his goal to kill arch-nemesis Damian by means of resurrecting Ygerna with whom he was soul forged. During the course of his quest it was revealed that the Dragon Knight who killed the Divine was mind-tricked by Damian and that the Dragon Slayers' hunt for Dragon Knights worked to his advantage. When he'd be back, he'd no longer have to deal with these fearsome foes.
As it would turn out, the mystery Dragon Knight who assassinated the Divine was not the last one to fall for a ruse, for the Dragon-Slayer-turned-Dragon-Knight too was tricked, by no other than Ygerna this time, who, claiming to be Talana, led him to her from the very netherworld – the Hall of Echoes – so that he would resurrect her. Believing this would kill Damian, the Dragon Knight did so, but soon discovered he was duped and found himself imprisoned in a realm beyond time and space: the Plane of Hypnerotomachia.
All worked out well for Damian who had unsuccessfully tried to resurrect Ygerna as well. But that was not the only thing he had been doing, for Damian knew his history and knew of the legends of Sigurd's empire. During the glory years of the Dragon Slayers he had been doing more than sit around and plan a next campaign: he had been researching the technology used by Maxos and the Dragon Knight to unite an empire so many thousands of years ago. The result was still a far cry from what this technology had once been, but nonetheless the crude, but imposing Flying Fortresses he had constructed were a force to be reckoned with and he lost no time deploying them against the human capital of Aleroth.
To protect the city, Zandalor employed desperate measures: he conjured a shield around the city which effectively safeguarded it from harm, but to be able to do so he first had to harvest this shielding magic from around the prison of a Chaos wizard by the name of Behrlihn who had been rotting away in his dungeon deep beneath Aleroth ever since he was incarcerated after the Wizard Wars.
Behrlihn, omnipotent in many ways, knew everything that had happened in the world despite his being locked away, and now that he sensed the disappearance of the shield, he immediately travelled in mental form to the Plane of Hypnerotomachia, something he could not do when the guarding magic was still in place. Here he found the lost Dragon Knight and no other than the Divine, who was in fact still alive and likewise imprisoned by Damian. Behrlihn made a deal with the Dragon Knight.
The latter would release the former's physical self from underneath the besieged city and in return Behrlihn would both free the Divine from his other-worldly captivity and give the Dragon Knight the Eye of the Patriarch, a mighty object that could destroy the armada of Flying Fortresses around Aleroth. And so the Dragon Knight was free once more to roam the city in search of ways to free the dread Chaos wizard.
In the end, the Dragon Knight freed Behrlihn who gave him the Eye of the Patriarch, but refused to free the Divine. Armed with this powerful object, the Dragon Knight set out to defeat the fleet of Flying Fortresses which turned out to be commanded by the freshly resurrected Ygerna. The threat above Aleroth was obliterated, but the fight was not over. Ygerna and Behrlihn spirited themselves away to the Plane of Hypnerotomachia and pulled the Dragon Knight in with them. At last there followed the final confrontation between these three and soon both Behrlihn and Ygerna lay dead.
Their lives and their powers had been undone and consequently the Divine was freed. Aleroth and indeed all of Rivellon rejoiced, but Damian remains alive to this day - and in a sense he remains undefeated.
The future - unlike Zixzax the Imp Historian claims - has yet to be written ...