Ages ago, in the unfolding of the world, it is said that a mad god planted the seed of evil at the foundations of the universe. Here is festered and grew, branching out to form the eternal realm of terror and chaos known as the Abyss. All that entered the Abyss was corrupted, defiled, and made altogether malevolent, and it grew to have such influence over all things that even some of the primordials were transformed into demon princes. The mad god laughed as his power soared, and he created an army of demons to conquer all things and achieve total dominion. Calling the forces of fire and darkness to him, he marched out from the Abyss and began a war against the other gods.
After many terrible battles in the heavens and upon the face of the world, the mad god and his demon army were ultimately defeated by the gods. The demon princes and their followers were cast back into the Abyss, but the mad god was taken to a secret place and chained there. And there he is still, living in an undying torment, forever imprisoned and forever seeking some way to escape. The Chained God, the Elder Elemental Eye, some name him, his older name now being accursed.
The Abyss endured its defeat in that first and oldest war, continuing to this day, the everlasting abode of the demon princes and their untold hordes of minions. There, evil does not sleep, and the forces of annihilation wait to be summoned once again to inflict devastation and terror on the universe and its inhabitants. They believe that by unmaking all things, they will release the Chained God from his prison and enable him to complete his mastery of the universe, remaking it in his own image, ruling over his horrific creation for all eternity. Even now, the Abyssal armies seek new ways to enter the world and wreak a most terrible vengeance. And soon, they will find one…
The war between Aurum and The Crimson has lasted for over 1,000 years, and none of those who initiated it yet live. Its roots are in the Shimmering Heights, a vast range of mountains that lies between the two great kingdoms. Here is the world’s greatest reserve of residiuum, the fundamental material used for the creation of magical items, the raw source of the world that was left when the gods had finished making their dominion. Both the mercantile power of Aurum and the warrior clans of The Crimson knew that possessing the Shimmering Heights would mean great power and perhaps even the dominion of the world. And so they have fought, century after century, battle after battle, with no clear victor in sight.
It began as a simple conflict between mining expeditions, but it quickly escalated into a border dispute, then into a proxy war fought by puppet rulers, then into a full blown war between the two realms. Generations of both kingdoms have known nothing but war, been taught to hate and fear their enemy, and died on the ruined landscape surrounding the Shimmering Heights. There have been countless attempts at treaties, seemingly conclusive victories on both sides, appeals made to the gods, and still it continues, the ancient hatreds and lust for power too great to overcome. The closest thing to an end to the fighting came in the relatively recent past, when the great human empire of Nerath intervened and claimed the Heights for itself. Renaming the disputed territory Sarek and appointing a Nerath governor to rule over it, it seemed that the conflict between Aurum and The Crimson had finally come to an end. But it was not to be.
The empire of Nerath suddenly fell into ruin and anarchy, and its tributary Sarek fell with it. With the Shimmering Heights and their precious residiuum deposits once again up for grabs, the latest generations of the two warring kingdoms have once more marched into the field, rolling over the intervening lands and forcing their people to swear allegiance to their own cause. Ancient fortresses and cities are razed and rebuilt again, soldiers die, and more and more civilians are left refugees without a home. Signs are, however, that this may be the last struggle between Aurum and The Crimson.
Unceasing conflict and vast amounts of treasure and lives have all but ruined these once great kingdoms, bankrupting them and ruining the morale of their people. Even the commanders of the military and the ruling classes have begun to consider alternatives for their future – alternatives that lie in some other land where peace reigns and life and death are accorded their proper reverence. The last gasp of both kingdoms has come at the Serak city of Geist, once a jewel in the wilderness beneath the Shimmering Heights, now a ruin. The expeditionary forces of Aurum and the massed might of The Crimson have fought each other to a standstill at the Iron Citadel, a fortress now held by the mostly volunteer Aurum army but surrounded by The Crimson’s mixed force of monstrous creatures, clan warriors, and mercenaries.
Your characters are privates in the Aurum army belonging to an elite unit that answers to Queen Avelda Patina herself. Known as The Gilded Lions, these commandos, knights, and sellswords have held out against The Crimson’s siege for six months, but at great cost. Most of the friends you made in training are dead, captured, or missing, and you have seen other Aurum outposts throughout the city fall to the enemy. You’ve lost track of how many mounts and commanders you have lost. It is only through the defenses of the Iron Citadel and your own skill and resolve that you have not also fallen. With food supplies running low, however, it may only be a matter of time before your time comes.
Weary of war and its horrors, you awaken on the seventh day of the seventh month to find dwarven Sergeant Dural telling you to go to the commander’s tent and receive special orders for a new mission. The sky is overcast and dark, with every indication of an impending storm. Your comrades are fatigued and hungry, keeping watch for signs of another assault on the Citadel. The camps of the enemy stretch out to the horizon, with tribes of goblin kin and orcs, companies of ruthless mercenaries, and The Crimson’s own clan warriors rising with the dawn or else settling down after a long night watch.
Your current commander is one of the few officers remaining, Captain Lanyard, a young human knight who was as green as you were when you first made landing in the nearby city of Kenting. He is now a battle-scarred veteran, and he has the respect and trust of The Gilded Lions. Rumor has it that he gave up a comfortable life as the scion of a wealthy mercantile house back in Aurum’s capitol, Beryl. Whatever the case, he must have something special in mind to call on your unique set of abilities. You have already made a name for yourselves, honing your skills in the forge of war, somehow escaping the fates that have befallen so many of your comrades thus far. It may be simple chance, but it may also be the sign of a greater destiny ahead. This day may well prove to be the last battle of this terrible war, but it is only the beginning of your adventure…
Breagan (Kyle): Half-Elf Warlord. From a town in the foothills of the Shimmering Heights, he was pressed into service by Aurum, but quickly displayed charismatic leadership skills. He was raised among humans, and trained in the Aurum capitol city of Beryl. He earned the rank of corporal as a result of his most recent mission.
Gath (Greg): Human Fighter. A member of the Atmet tribe, once indigenous to the country of Sarek, his people have been split up and decimated by the war. His real name is unknown, as his people believe that knowing your true name grants others power over you. He volunteered to fight on the side of Aurum. He’s a private.
Kai (Holly): Elf Ranger. Kai was pressed into service by Aurum, along with the other teenagers from her elven village. The forest which had been home to her people was one of many casualties of the war. She’s a private.