Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Elemental Lords, Living Vortices, and Sorcerer Kings

This is the history of Athas from the point of view of the elemental lords.

The elemental planes; earth, air, fire, and water, have existed since time began. The inhabitants of these realms are elementals, they can be both powerful and feeble. They were born of the substance that surrounded them and made up their homes. They battled each other for dominance for countless millennia and these clashes created the battlegrounds of the paraelemental planes, magma, sun, rain, and mud.
Then something happened that they did not expect, the paraelemental planes gave birth to their own forms of life. These paraelementals were not as powerful as their elemental cousins, but they were recruited as fodder for the elemental wars, lead by genies and other true elementals. As time passed, the paraelementals grew in power and intelligence. They threw off the yoke of the elementals and began warring with them.
These battles caused the combatant's respective elements to drift into the prime material plane as scattered matter. These pieces of matter did not concern the elementals, for their planes were vast and endless. However, a powerful sun paraelemental visited the prime material plane and used the pieces of scattered matter to create an azure orb of pure paraelemental sun.
"He looks better in red." - River Tam
This organized sun matter imbued the paraelemental and the paraelemental plane with even greater power, creating the first paraelemental lord. The other elementals saw what the paraelemental had done and were quick to organize their own matter on the material plane. For the first time since time began, the elementals stopped fighting and began working together to organize the matter in the universe. Water, air, and earth quickly worked together in the process of creation, with fire joining them reluctantly later.
The culmination of their joint efforts was the creation of a world with living things. Plants and animals thrived, each imbued with a little of each of the four main elements and some with portions of the paraelements as well. There was no sentient life on the prime material plane, as the elemental lords had no reason to create it.
One day, things changed. The elemental lords noticed other creatures encroaching into their domain. They quickly sealed off these entrances, but allowed a small group of these curious creatures to live on one of their creations. The creatures were small and, when compared to the elemental lords, weak. Once the inhabitants discovered they could not return to their homes, they settled and adapted. Some of these inhabitants, who called themselves Halflings, discovered the presence of the elemental lords are offered their servitude in exchange for small portions of the elemental's power. The Halfling's named the world they lived on Athas, which meant "joy or gladness" in their ancient tongue.

Pleased with their creations and new found power, the elemental and paraelemental lords relaxed, content in their new found power and stability. However, old feuds were not forgotten and soon skirmishes began along the borders of the planes and also in the prime material plane. The lords discovered that they were tied to their creations and an increase or decrease of power and influence on the prime material plane increased or decreased their power in the elemental planes. All of the paraelementals and elementals had significant holdings on the prime material, all except two.
Fire and Magma felt their holdings were too few compared to the others and formed an alliance to discuss the situation. After a millennia, these elemental lords decided to assist some of the Halflings, who had learned to alter nature, to pervert nature instead and damage the holdings of the other lords. In the end, these nature benders were defeated. The lords of fire and magma met again to come up with a new plan, but before they could agree on a method of diminishing the other planes holdings, the Halflings did it for them.
Fire Elemental
The Brown Tide was more devastating to water than the fire lords could have hoped for. In the end, it lessened the holdings of water and mud. It gave fire dry places to thrive. Magma was disappointed, but the fire lords no longer had a need for their alliance and abandoned it.
The Water lords were disappointed, but still had significant holdings. The Sun suffered the most. The Halflings used the power of their creations to age the sun in order to stop the brown tide. This aging caused the sun lords extreme pain, so they retreated from Athas. 
In order to protect Athas from another brown tide, the main four elemental lords created guardians. These guardians were living vortices that could imbue others with elemental power. Many bonded with Athas itself and became spirits of the land. These spirits selected champions of their own. These champions were called druids and they became traveling protectors of the natural world.
The new age also brought about the creation of new creatures. These lesser races began offering their allegiance to the lords and the lords accepted. Kreen, who were created by the lords as animals, gained sentience. Psionics appeared as well, but the elemental lords took little notice.
Battles continued between the other elements, but they were generally small skirmishes, or assassinations of followers on the prime material plane. These petty battles changed little for the lords, but they amused themselves with the fighting. All of the elemental lord's were content, except magma.
Then, in the eleventh King's Age, in the year of Enemy's Fury, Rajaat was born. His invention of magic went unnoticed by the elemental lords for fifty king's ages. When Rajaat created his champions, the elemental lords stopped fighting each other and took notice. The defiling magic these champions were able to wield was powerful enough to destroy the essence of what gave the elemental planes their power.
The oceans were destroyed by the foul magics being used over the course of a millennia. The elemental lords of water were greatly reduced in power. This and other losses of moisture changed the paraelemental plane of mud into the paraelemental plane of silt. The former mud lords went mad and ordered their priests to support the defilers in turning the entirety of Athas into silt. The druids of Athas attacked the champions, but there weren't enough of them really stand up to the champion's armies.
Foolish defilers playing with things they did not understand opened a portal into the borders of the plane of earth and magma. Obsidian energy flooded the prime material plane and killed every living thing in its path. The earth lords attempted to close the portal, but the defiling magic proved too powerful and destructive. Only the power of the Seventh Tree stopped the obsidian from spreading across the face of Athas.
This tree needs no one to speak for it.
After the betrayal of Rajaat, Borys used the Pristine Tower and the Dark Lens to change the champions into dragons. In addition, using information he and Nibenay had gathered, Borys took control of a few living vortexes and bounded them unwillingly to the dragons. This allowed the dragons to steal the power of the inner planes and bestow it upon the dragon's servants. This also aged the sun further and drove the sun paraelemental lords mad with agony.
The wars became more intense, with mad silt and sun lords leading the way against the other elemental and paraelemental lords. The elemental lords stopped fighting each other to focus on the combined threat. Unfortunately Borys went mad and destroyed the land, weakening the elemental lords further.
After Borys emerged from his maddness, the druids stepped up their attacks. The dragons quickly tired of their attacks and joined together to eradicate them. The druids and elemental clerics fought back, but failed. To avoid their complete destruction, the druids went into hiding. After the dragons stopped focusing on them, the druids reemerged from hiding and vowed to protect sections of Athas from further destruction.
Currently, the once mighty elemental lords of air, earth, fire, water, and rain are fighting a losing battle against the forces of magma, silt, and sun.

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