by J.C. Shaner
A creation story for a fantasy realm which will be the centerpiece for many later works
|A History of the Sapphire Kingdoms|
The origins of the world colloquially known as 'The Sapphire Kingdoms' can be traced to a chaotic time in the universe. Before there was any solidarity, substance to the world, life only existed as a disparate collection of primeval energies. Eventually, several quantities of cosmic energy coalesced into a single entity. This entity focused its energy and shaped itself into the first true 'being'. It took on the massive form of what is known today as a dragon, its every extremity intricate and magnificent. Traveling the cosmos, this went through eons of self discovery and ponderance of its own existence. It eventually settled upon one salient fact: It was alone. The first being dwelt upon this fact, deciding that it must act to remedy this sad truth of its existence. Drawing from its own energies, the first being poured its thoughts, emotions, and life force into one static location in space. A solid object formed, the planet which life as we know it would call home. The first being created this world much larger than itself, so that it might traverse this mass and spend considerable time perfecting its design.
From its surface, the first being began to shape his creation with care and finesse. The great chromatic dragon's scales contained its power, and over many decades it shed some of these scales and laid them upon the earth. From these scales grew the world's first primordial creatures. From the green scales arose elementals, beings of wood, stone, and foliage that dwelt in the lands they were shaped after. The dragon's blue scales, having produced the world's great sea, created many creatures designed to thrive in this environment. The greatest of which was a solitary, colossal squid. The squid took up much space in the Great Sea, growing as it fed off of the nearby smaller, weaker aquatic denizens. Finally, the dragon's red scale created the world's first sentient species. While the great, tentacled beast of the sea was dominant in its domain, the creatures of the red scale were weaker, yet far more populous. They dwelt on land, formed loose gatherings and interacted with the other creations.
The First Being watched these creatures lived off the land, harvesting the green elements in nature to shelter and sustain themselves. Those near the Great Sea ate its smallest denizens, yet knew not to travel to the domain of the Ancient Squid. As they learned of its existence, they feared it. This fear turned into worship, and these creatures created small idols of the Squid and revered them. The First Being saw this and experienced a bold emotion: envy. The First Being did not enjoy the actions of his creations, the fact that they chose to worship the might of the Ancient Squid as opposed to their own creator. Acting upon this envy, the First Being chose one day to appear to his creations. He presented himself to the largest tribal residence of these creatures, appearing in draconic form. In order to bestow meaning and power to its existence, the First Being named both itself: Bao. Furthermore, it named the creatures whose reverence he would reclaim: Orcs. Bao then turned his attention to the false idols the Orcs had made. He destroyed the entirety of these idols, also striking from memory any knowledge of the Ancient Squid from all of his creations. Finally he traveled out to sea, reshaping the terrain to entrap the subject of his envy. There the Ancient Squid lay, immortal yet entombed and fated to be eternally unknowable...
Despite his correction of their behavior, Bao was still dissatisfied with the behavior of his first creations. He once again shed many scales, infusing them with his power to create again. From the blue scales he created the Elves, gifting them with great intellect and logic. He placed the Elves on islands and peninsulas, coasts and bays. He imparted to them a love of the sea, a desire and longing to sail on the ocean. Furthermore, he granted them longer lifespans than the Orcs, so that the Elves might carry out entire lifetimes at sea. To this day, the true motive for the Elven love of the Sea remains unknown...
From the green scales, Bao created the Gnomes. He created this species to serve as tenders of the natural world. Despite this role, Bao shaped the Gnomes as small creatures, so that they would forever look up at his works and be reminded of his might. Finally, from the red scales came the Dwarves. Bao created the Dwarves to wander, to be impassioned shapers of his world. Some joined the coastal settlements of the Elves, initiating early concepts of trade and industry. Other Dwarves joined the Gnomes in the wilderness, together beginning the practice of early druidic magic. Yet more Dwarves traveled far and wide, encountering now sizable Orc settlements. Here the two races began to trade and catalogue knowledge and culture, and to build great structures of stone. Still the Dwarves traveled, the largest group eventually settling in the northern reaches and taking the clan name Turgrinth. Another large collective found themselves in the world's southern islands, making their homes in equatorial jungles and deserts. These Dwarves took the clan name Veshraal. The Orcs, being the first of Bao's races, chose to chronicle the emergence of their later counterparts. A great many of the world's first books are believed to have been bound and scribed by Orcish hands. Orcs committed to building the world's first great cities and establishing lasting relations with the other races. All of Bao's creations flourished for centuries.
Until their creator was gone.
Bao had continued to witness the development of his creatures, from the dwarven perfection of metalworking to the continued vigil of the Elves at sea. As he had granted each race a knowledge of the others, so too had Bao bestowed upon them a knowledge and reverence for himself. He was satisfied that the world was truly his. He discovered an urge to return to the cosmos, to further explore the very energies from which he had emerged. Orcish elders, having the closest connection to Bao, began to feel adrift from their dragon deity. They named this period of time Bao's Exodus. Yet before their creator's absence. One Orc clan was granted a boon in the form of the Gems of Knowing. These three gems, one for each color of Bao's scales, were granted to an orc sage by the name of Utzaag. These gems chronicled Bao's existence and creation of the world, omitting any matters related to the Ancient Squid. When held, the gems laid bare every other aspect of the world's creation and its great races.
At the beginning of Bao's Exodus, the great chromatic dragon journeyed back out to the cosmos. He sought new energies to shape with, new elements to bring to his world. Facts of existence that Bao had become familiar with worked differently or not at all in his foray into swirling space. There was no direction here, no order. Bao reached out, shaping the energies around him. He consolidated segments of energy in accordance with their nature, in so doing defining the boundaries of the Elemental Planes. Bao shaped these planes to a small extent, not exerting the same level of focus and finesse as he had in shaping his own world. He sought to let these raw planes churn with their own power and shape themselves. Largely free of his influence, the Elemental Planes took on aspects and appearances largely dissimilar from one another. After enjoying the Elemental Planes for a time, Bao took again to the dark areas of space. His consolidation of the elemental energies in space had altered his perception; there was nothing to gaze at in the blackness of space save for the motes of light from far off stars. Bao reached out into the darkness, searching for another plane on which to spend his time and attention next. After a time of searching, Bao finally heard a response.
You are not welcome here.
These words emerged from the abyss of space itself, searing a warning into Bao's mind. Yet the great dragon, thinking only of his shaping of the elements and godhood on Earth, delved further into the dark. He realized that the abyss was not merely empty, dark space, but rather a realm unto itself. While Bao had been shaping Earth and the Elemental Planes, so too had this faraway realm been crafted and refined. As with much of the cosmos beyond Bao's ordered world, here in the Realm of Abyss the laws of nature did not work as Bao had assumed. He fumbled through clouds of dark smoke, massive floating shards of gray stone, and rivers of black liquid. It seemed as if this inhospitable realm rejected Bao's very existence. Bao had no power here, no control over the Abyssal Realm's misshapen denizens. He felt for the first time fear, pain and confusion. It was only after an unknowable period of torment that Bao was finally met by the ruler of this abysmal place.
Her name was Tezzenon. She was a being comprised of the voidspace, a chaotic darkness that offended perception and denied logic. Her presence seeped into every part of her realm, her form impossible to define. All that Bao could perceive were tendrils in the dark, the void taking form only to assimilate his structured form into the void. The tendrils ripped at Bao's scales, for Tezzenon rejected and resented the singular, defined form he had chosen. Bao shed blood in this realm, his efforts to fight his attacker meeting with naught but futility. The dragon simply could not battle that which was endless. Gaining nothing but suffering, Bao fled, his only option retreating past signs of his own failure. As he did so, he named this horrid realm: The Aether. He named Tezzenon as well, attributing the Celestial word for chaos to her.
As Bao fled towards realms familiar and safe, he continued to shed blood among the stars. He returned to Earth, or Skarsga as it had been named by its inhabitants. Bao collapsed atop a great northern mountain. The nearest tribe of Orcs, named Utzaag after their elder who had held the Gems of Knowing, and the dwarves of Clan Turgrinth sensed a supernatural peril. Old and powerful shaman and mystics alerted clan leaders, and many Orcs and Dwarves journeyed to the mountain's peak and discovered the form of their creator. Here their comatose deity slumbered to slowly recover, and they named this place Bao's Vigil. Through emissaries Gnomes were summoned, working their druidic magic and formed the first major druid circle, the Circle of the Shaper. Here the Circle harnessed the power inherent in the land to sanctify the area and return power to their creator. Yet this peace and respite was not meant to last; Bao's escape from The Aether had not been wholly successful.
Tezzenon had coalesced her entropic form and emerged from The Aether. She savored her victory, yet rankled in the fact that she had not obliterated her wounded foe. Nurturing her hated for the Shaper, for her antithesis, she left her native plane to give chase. She followed the frozen blood shed by her godly enemy. Through these symbols of his fragility, she traced him across the stars. As she sensed greater proximity to her foe, she called near several coagulated quantities of Bao's blood. When Tezzenon finally came upon Skarsga, she split these blood fragments into three great meteors. After so doing, she sent her wrath down upon the world of the god who dared trifle in her domain. Above Bao's Vigil, the skies darkened.
For three days of eclipse, the gathered mystics and druids could only watch as their doom drew ever nearer. Finally, Bao awoke and was alerted to the oncoming cataclysm. He shielded the mountaintop, protecting those attending to him. However, the summit of Bao's Vigil was ravaged by the first of the abyssal meteors. The foliage became blackened as if suddenly scorched. Life simply was denied existence here; flora and fauna withered and died under Tezzenon's merciless first strike. She sent her corruption far and wide, sending a second meteor into the verdant jungle wilderness of Akrilla, and the third sinking into the eastern portion of the Great Sea. At the base of Bao's Vigil, Tezzenon's corruption began to seep into the land. The precious few druids there succumbed, overcome with despair and madness. The natural creatures of Bao's world were made more savage, many cursed to spread Tezzenon's bloodlust—becoming the world's first lycanthropes. These monsters assaulted Bao's Vigil, their curses spreading to many wounded. Elsewhere, once jovial woodland sprites were warped into vicious, capricious imps when exposed to Tezzenon's entropic energies. Stoic, peaceful creatures such as treants and rocs were shaped as well, becoming savage hunters of any living prey. Across Skarsga, the Orcs, Elves, Dwarves and Gnomes became embattled by Tezzenon's horrors. The Void Queen—as she was named by those few who witnessed her chaotic form and lived—observed several of these battles. She turned her attention to the dead, raising the first of the world's undead from their graves. Great was the pain these horrid images of former allies and loved ones inflicted.
This time would later come to be known as The Dawn's End. Bao's mortal races had only recently established central seats of power; these once great cities were either besieged with horrors or laid low by Tezzenon's direct machinations of paranoia and terror. Bao, weak yet willful to take action, raged at the destruction ravaging his world and its inhabitants. Encouraged by the dwindling bastion of mortals defending him, Bao drew upon a reserve of energy to call upon certain familiar planes of the cosmos. From his mountaintop, he conjured many portals across the world that led to the various Elemental Planes. While he could not control the residents of these outer planes, he called for their aid, and after seeing Tezzenon's wave of carnage they lended their allegiance. Denizens of these planes rallied to areas of Skarsga best suited to their native habitat, taking up the fight against Tezzenon's corruption wherever it was nearest.
However, Tezzenon was not yet imperiled. While she had spent considerable energy warping Bao's creations, so too had she merged her own energy with that resident in the land itself. She carved out deep tunnels and caverns beneath many mountain ranges, spawning within them nightmarish aberrations drawn from The Aether. She also populated these depths with colonies of Elves and Orcs whom she had driven to madness. Here in these abysmal places her creations built idols to her dark will. In turn, Tezzenon bestowed upon a select few supplicants fragments of her own dark power. These fearsome foes, named Blackguards, were responsible for great atrocities perpetrated in the Void Queen's name. These Blackguards decimated whole elven cities as Tezzenon's attention turned to the Great Sea. As she traveled across Skarsga, her corruption followed, befouling large portions of ocean, Naught but her own warped beasts survived.
The Void Queen stopped at the southern continent of Arrasai. Here she encountered the Darvanni, a powerful clan of desert Elves who had banded together to stand against the oncoming darkness. These elves proved to be a formidable opponent for the Void Queen's army, as they used the land's inhospitable terrain and native creatures against the invaders. So too did these Elves practice the first forms of arcane magic, having spent considerable time even before the Void Queen's arrival harnessing and studying the innate ability of mortals to tap into the energy of their creator. Tezzenon was intrigued at the skills possessed by this stubborn collective. Deciding not to immediately appear and smite her foes, she chose a different course. She elected to turn the Darvanni's power against them. She reached into the minds of several powerful magi, encouraging them to pursue dark avenues of study that led them to begin tapping into her own power. Through her influence, these magi developed new, powerful branches of magic; conjurers and evokers emerged and rose to prominence with their mastery of lethal spellcraft. However, in response a secret sect of highborn Darvanni magi, the Arra'Sir was founded, focusing on defense and seeking to counter the dangerous magic wielded by their peers. This sect operated in secret, hunting Tezzenon's suspiciously secretive pockets of undead minions and cultists devoted to her.
As Tezzenon's focused was held in the South, the battle-hardened defenders of Bao's Vigil gained a foothold atop the blasted mountain. Here had begun the first priesthood dedicated to Bao, clerics spending much time with rituals and prayers to heal The Shaper and receive divine boons in return. They built amidst the blackened peaks a beacon of light and security, a combination fortress/chapel named Edifica Primus. With this fortress as a rallying point, the mortal forces fought back against Tezzenon's hordes, clearing much of the peak and forcing many creatures of chaos into retreat underground. Several scouting parties fought through the swamps at the mountain's base, eventually reaching the dwarven city of Calducott and establishing a supply route up to Edifica Primus.
Far to the South in Arrasai, Tezzenon felt her grasp around her ultimate foe begin to slip. Growing enraged, she urged her forces vexing the Darvanni magocracy into action. Talu'mak, a populous capital city, was the first to fall. The city's upper caste had launched into a bloody civil war, those lower born succumbing to jealousy and distrust. Much of the city itself was destroyed by reckless battles between noble scions vying to be king of a shrinking hill. The Arra'Sir managed to end this conflict, though not before the city and its environs were made untenable. Tezzenon descended upon the city's dead, raising many as mummies and liches, courtesy the power they wielded in life and the rites conducted by persistent pockets of cultists.
Still enraged by her loss to the north, Tezzenon abandoned Arrasai. She condensed her chaotic form, consolidating her power while hating the necessity for such a deed. Traveling north across the Great Sea she encountered the forces of the Water Elementals, merfolk and the frog-like Toxar. Beating back these foes, she happened upon the prison of the nameless ancient squid. She worked her corruption through the godly seals, wearing them down almost entirely. Yet she sensed that the will of the creature within matched her own. Instead of releasing this beast, she left the remaining seals intact but keeping in the back of her mind the presence of this creature. Tezzenon's foul magic advanced, wreaking havoc on elvish island settlements and corrupting their inhabitants. These towns' hapless residents were turned into monstrous hags, the men becoming mindless aquatic ogres. Tezzenon's hags were cunning, taking up residence in briny caves and cursing any mortals nearby. Other elves Tezzenon made into beings of sublime beauty, yet bestowed upon them the same malicious intent as she had given to the hags. These sirens would use their appealing looks and charm to lure elven sailors to an untimely death.
Passing through equatorial volcanic islands, Tezzenon encountered the forces of the Fire Elementals. She conjured horrors from her own plane, altering them to possess the fiery countenance of the salamanders, azer, and elementals opposing her. The first demons and devils of Skarsga waged a bloody war against all mortals of these islands, eventually forcing the elementals back and nearly conquering the collection of islands. Reaching the northern reaches of Skarsga, traversing the highest peaks, Tezzenon encountered the armies of Air. She once again extended her considerable corrupting influence, ravaging the shape and spirit of many noble Aarakocra, the end result being malicious, murderous harpies. She rended the flesh from many mountain griffons, mutating them to possess reptilian features and multiple regenerating heads. Tezzenon had grown too impatient to intervene in the subterranean conflicts between her own aberrations and the forces of the Earthen plane.
Finally, darkness returned to Bao's Vigil. Tezzenon took the form of a great black dragon, a monstrous simulacrum of Bao's noble form. She rained down blood-red fire upon the mountain and its defenders. Bao, having recuperated significantly, left the side of his clerics and took to the sky. A vicious battle was joined, with the forces of corruption and carnage resurgent to besiege a mountain held by Skarsga's most dedicated protectors. During this savage battle, Tezzenon grew frenzied with bloodlust. While she had long been away from the Aether, she still possessed much of her power and had her foe's defeat within reach. She had corrupted Bao's world, and vowed to destroy his very soul as a conclusion. She gated in many of her demons from the southern islands in addition to raising the dead of Bao's Vigil to add to her unholy horde. Yet while Tezzenon's hordes began to attain the upper hand on the ground, the Void Queen own personal victory was less assured. As Bao was poised to inflict a final, mortal wound, Tezzenon returned to her entropic, natural form. She angrily fled the battle, disintegrating many of Bao's defenders as she fled to the world's darkest forests.
Even as she seethed with rage, Tezzenon plotted against her sworn foe. She vowed that The Shaper would still die by her hand. Almost as an afterthought, she warped the spiders of the Dragonveil, introducing venomous, lethal breeds into their habitat. While she was pleased with this creation, she desired to design a creature of her own to rival Bao's creations. She enjoyed toying with and tearing down his works, yet yearned to wield her own force to rebel against Bao's natural order. So driven, Tezzenon created the form of Skarsga's first Human. She had poured much of her dark energy into this task, creating seven human women. She named the first of her creations the First Coven, gifting them powers greater even than her Blackguards. While members of the First Coven covertly went out into the world, sowing their master's corruption, the Void Queen created more, lesser humans within the dark reaches of the Dragonveil. She kept her new subjects hidden, amassing in seclusion as she bestowed upon them one sole focus: to rebel. She created the first humans to rebel against Bao's natural world and all living creatures within it.
While the First Coven worked to corrupt the beasts of the wilderness, bands of humans eventually emerged alongside corrupted elves, orcs, dwarves and gnomes to sow chaos and destruction in frontier towns. Depsite cults to Tezzenon being eliminated by an increasing number of abjurers, additional cults seemed to appear just as quickly. The first Human Blackguards left bloody remnants of hamlets and villages in their wake, accruing greater numbers of undead thralls. The few survivors of these slaughters told tales of black mastiffs and unicorns serving as mounts to Blackguards and the rarely-seen witches of the First Coven, maniacal blood mages bringing gruesome death to thousands. It seemed as if, just as Bao's forces had begun to reclaim his world, their safe ground was rapidly shrinking under the Void Queen's widespread assault. Whole cities were abandoned or decimated, some garrisoned by Blackguards and their legions of undead.
It was not until many years of horror and loss, named The Mortal Wars, had passed that the balance of power once again shifted. Bao had not been present in many battles, and while his worshipers grew concerned over their god's absence, Bao was in fact traveling subtly throughout his world to muster aid. While Tezzenon's initial assault on the world had led to many elemental portals being closed, some remained; it was these gates to worlds beyond his own that Bao sought. At many of these portals Bao removed more of his scales, infusing them with primordial, elemental energy. These scales became eggs, hatching into rapidly-growing dragons. Several years into The Mortal Wars these dragons joined with Bao's forces, balancing the scales in the violent conflict with the Void Queen. These dragons were first seen in the Battle of Wyverngarde, a savage fight in the ruins of a once-great Orcish city laid low by legions of spectral undead. Luthri, a member of the First Coven, resided in Wyverngarde. A flight of red dragons rained down destruction on the ruins, blasting it into a skeletal visage of its once noble image. Many undead and cultists to the Void Queen were incinerated, and Bao's forces achieved a victory over the hordes within the ruin. This came at great cost, however, as several dragon's perished to Luthri's foul magic. Furthermore, the witch fled the battle and evaded capture.
Enraged by this and other setbacks across the realm, Tezzenon commanded her dark forces to achieve victory by any means necessary. She ordered her Blackguards to purge entire mortal bloodlines. She whispered orders to the First Coven to raze entire forests. Yet it was one of the Void Queen's own that provided a further setback. One of the First Coven, a witch named Aullaire, refused to destroy a druidic circle of forest gnomes. Thanks to Tezzenon's own seeping corruption, much of the area's wildlife were weak and sickly. Many gnomes starved or were forced to leave their homeland. Aullaire did not see the wisdom in laying waste to an already beaten foe. She questioned the need to stamp out a group that was already powerless to resist the Void Queen; could they not join the ranks of the undead? This perceived disloyalty drew the ire of Tezzenon, who cast out Aullaire from the Coven. Aullaire was reduced to the form of a mortal human woman, left to wander the Dragonveil in despair. Shortly thereafter, two other sisters, Seshra and Vunhild, questioned their orders as well. Tezzenon could not force these powerful cohorts to comply, as she had instilled in them too strong an urge to rebel. Tezzenon stripped these sisters of their power as well, sending them off to the farthest corners of the world.
Again, Bao's planning granted the forces of life and order another great boon. The Shaper happened upon Aullaire in the Dragonveil, the woman wandering through the forest devoid of power and purpose. Bao returned both to her, granting her some of his own divine might and requesting her aid in ridding this world of her former master. Aullaire accepted both. In the form of a heavily armed angel, Aullaire met the Void Queen's armies in battle alongside The Shaper's mortals. It was after some of these battles that several Blackguards were redeemed, becoming along with many humans the first free human tribes. Aullaire, training an army of paladins, continued her worldwide quest of redemption. In the meantime, Bao sought out the other outcast sisters, Seshra and Vunhild. He showed Seshra the power of the abjurers of Arrasai, mighty opponents of Tezzenon through their own intellect, virtue and resolve. Seshra was granted a link to Bao's power, becoming an arcane demigod worshiped throughout Arrasai as she exorcised the land of undead filth. In the north, Bao showed Vunhild the tenacity of his wild creatures. In her solitude, Vunhild had come to care for the creatures of nature. Bao granted her a link to the energies within the earth, and Vunhild took this power and ranged across the north with many dire beasts to eliminate all forms of her former master's corruption.
After what she viewed as the theft of her Coven, Tezzenon felt her grasp on Skarsga irrevocably lighten. She called the remaining sisters of the Coven, Aganette, Ariette, Luthri and Sheer. These witches gathered in the desolate Wyverngarde ruins. Tezzenon gathered her forces here for a final assault on Bao's Vigil. At the Vigil, Bao had granted each of his new demigods one of the Gems of Knowing. Into each Gem was written a complete history of the world, from the beginning to the present struggles against the Void Queen. After this great ceremony at Edifica Primus, the skies once again darkened. Tezzenon's corrupted hordes marched on the summit, while she and the remaining sisters remained at Wyverngarde. Knowing this, Bao and the Demigods traveled to meet their foe head on.
Bao and Tezzenon once again took on draconic form, waging bloody battle in the sky while the demigods fought amongst the ruins. Only Ariette stood alone, the Demigod of Silence looking up at the deific battle above. She wished only for a cessation to the chaos, overwhelmed with the carnage around her. She issued forth a horrendous, unearthly scream, stunning both god and demigod. Tezzenon was the first to retaliate, impaling Ariette on her spear-like tail. The Void Queen tore open a portal to The Aether itself, hurling Ariette through. Bao seized this opportunity, taking advantage of the distraction to lunge in for a finishing blow against the dark dragon. Yet the cunning Void Queen caught his move, and the two gods simultaneously inflicted mortal wounds upon one another. The remaining demigods gave pause and watched as their masters bit, clawed and burnt the life from one another as if they were any lowly beast. Tezzenon was still weaker, having been away from The Aether for too long. She had expended too much of her power away from her native plane. Near death, she retreated, fleeing through her black portal and sealing it immediately behind her.
Her demigods, with their leader defeated, fled Wyverngarde for parts of Skarsga unknown. Bao's demigods took up his dying form and bore him back to the peak of Bao's Vigil. There his mortal forces had routed the armies of the corrupt and the dead. In mortal form, Bao was laid to rest in a tomb beneath the chapel at Edifica Primus. For days on end, mortal and demigod alike grieved and mourned the death of The Shaper. Yet the land itself had finally been granted the freedom it so desperately needed to heal. Life and growth returned to the natural world, and Bao's mortal races began to rebuild. Humans, having so recently fought against the Orcs, Elves, Dwarves and Gnomes, were given a chance to acclimate and live among the other races of the Sapphire Kingdoms—albeit under many watchful eyes. The city-state of Skar-Fjord was established, a great beacon of peace and security ruled by emissaries from each of the great races.
And now we come to the present day. Seven hundred years after The Shaper's death and the end of The Mortal Wars, much has changed. Several human kingdoms have emerged, despite scrutiny from many other longer-standing kingdoms. There is widespread travel throughout the Great Sea, as avenues of trade are opened and intercontinental relations are born and tested. Many organizations, such as the Ilcarin mercenaries, have seen both rise and fall. Others, such as the Abjurers of Arrasai, continue to expand and endure. The Demigods maintain a palace in the clouds above Bao's Vigil, granting power to their followers from afar. Yet Skarsga as a whole is a world holding its breath, an eerie quiet on its frontier, a foreboding tension in the minds of great seers. The next chapter of history is ready to be written. The Sapphire Kingdoms are ready for adventure.