Earthen vessel, crumbling, rotten;
Spirits fleeing soil we’ve trodden.
Blood of sorrows! Flow, forgotten—
‘Midst ashen rain of aether, fallen.
-verse fragment of Dhakaani ‘duur’kala’ dirge-song
The warring period of the Five Nations of Galifar, referred to by the optimists of that generation as the ‘Last War’, was a troubled time in Khorvaire’s history. What began as a dispute of unclear succession among royal bloodlines soon expanded outward, fueled by leaps in technological advances that changed the very nature of war.
For a hundred years, the peoples of Khorvaire were to know the horror, bloodshed, and tragedy of the nobles’ conflict. In the end, only when faced with the unknown threat of annihilation suffered by the Kingdom of Cyre, were the remaining nations able to put aside their feud, thus signing the Treaty of Thronehold.
A tenuous peace was ushered in and for the next several years the nations of Khorvaire and the scions of King Galifar I struggled to rebuild their empires after having known a century of war. As soldiers returned home to their families, trading sword for plough, it seemed as though the people of the Five Nations would at last know peace.
Alas, it was not to be.
Treading cautiously in the wake of Cyre’s destruction, the monarchs of the Five Nations sought new ways to gain advantage over their neighbors. Expeditions were chartered to foreign lands, wresting powerful ancient relics from the ground. Magewrights and other craftsmen of the Dragonmarked houses forged new innovations for the field of battle, amassing fortunes as they catered to the fears and paranoia of some.
Scant years after the cataclysm known as the Mourning brought Khorvaire to its knees, the Five Nations once again looked towards war. It is an oft-repeated saying by seer and scholar alike, that history repeats itself. And so it came to pass that in the years following the brief peace brought on by the Treaty of Thronehold and the destruction of Cyre, the landscape of Khorvaire was once more consumed by the flames of war.
Terrible though the ensuing conflict was to be, the tragic fate that was meted out upon Cyre on the day of Mourning was not to befall the people of Khorvaire once more. As it has been the subject of much debate among historians, I commit these pages into record to show that it was by no accident, nor stroke of luck, that our nations kept their guard through those dark, terrible years.
It is to the credit of the actions of a few – names perhaps now familiar to you, their deeds ring through history of song and scripture alike – that Khorvaire was spared a fate most tragic.
In the autumn of the year 998 YK I found myself cloistered near the hilt of the Dagger River, a student amidst the wondrous city of towers – Sharn. It was there, while attending classes at Morgrave University, that I first encountered those brave souls.
To this day, I do not know whether it was mere coincidence or the pull of fate that first drew me to their particular group, from the thousands of wayward travelers walking the city. For at that time, that is what they were – common travelers, performers, cityfolk such as you or I. And yet, as I glance through these pages once more, flush with their accounts, it becomes evident that they were woven by fate to something much greater.
Herein lie their stories.