The Transference of V`Ral
It was a bright, sunny morning on the 14th day of Flamerule 1379 (The Year of the Lost Keep) ….
Birds were soaring, singing their ageless song to the sun and sky. Below them, simple townsfolk wandered hither and yon – going about their daily business. Children played in the street as they made their way to one of the three churches around town for morning studies. Religion was not enforced in the bustling town, though education at least through age 10 was mandatory. Edicts passed down from the ruling Duchess – herself a priestess of some considerable power, ensured that the towns children would be free to choose their own path as teachers from ALL of the religions with a presence in the city as well as from the arcane and psionic schools were required to provide instructors for the schools.
In the church of Torm, for example – most of the study periods were overseen by a priest of Oghma. Indeed, the clergy of Oghma – who revered knowledge and books above all else, fulfilled similar functions in many churches and libraries across the entire Realms. Even the strictest of Lawful Good churches would open their doors to an archivist of Oghma – for the lord of scrolls sought merely to know all and judge none, though it was rare for his studious minions to venture into an evil church. Too often they were tortured for hidden knowledge or used as ransom to steal away secrets.
Being the most militant of the large churches, priests and priestesses of Torm were typically assigned to teach students basic hand-to-hand, self-defense and physical exercise – though they also served on disciplinary committees, teaching malcontents the value of duty and obedience while ferreting out the truth. The occasionally skeletal leader of that church had learned long ago that where physical force often failed, ingenuity and forced labor could solve many problems amongst the perpetually troubled – as it was difficult to muster the energy to cause problems after a day or week of exhaustive work. As he was fond of saying “There’ll never be a shortage of ditches and tunnels to dig. Just look at the dwarves!” Once they’d been worked like dogs and completed their sentence, most realized that hard work FOR THEIR OWN benefit would take them further than causing trouble and slaving for the church.
After time, the Duchess herself embraced this concept in a fashion that caused no small amount of political intrigue. An edict was issued that while no one was FORCED to work, neglect of children or abuse of others was a capitol offense. If one could not provide a basic level of care for oneself or one’s family though laziness or lack of caring. The offender would be mentally COMPELLED against their will to work at whatever menial labor job the judge deemed appropriate or needed at the time.
Classes in the church of Mystra were limited to those children who displayed some talent for magic or psionics. As ALL forms of magic were the portfolio of the mysterious goddess, her priests and spellweavers taught the Art to any with the skill to learn such things. Psionics, the magic of the mind, followed similar rules and laws as did arcane and divine spells – and while the mentalists who honed such skills were fairly new to her church, they’d quickly reached an equilibrium with all but the eldest and most stubborn spellcrafters serving Mystra. In the other schools, the instructors of Mystra taught advanced magic – respectfully letting priests and followers of the other churches give voice to their gods.
At one point, most of the churches in town were actually housed in a single large temple – which had been completely taken over by the largest church in town and dedicated to Roland, the god of merchants after a noted and famous deific visit some years back. Back then, the central chamber was an open worship area with altars to various deities – allowed to be used by any and all. The leftmost wing housed a temple to Torm, and the church of Roland occupied the right wing. Sturdy dwarven reconstruction had built up and filled in the rear courtyard – where amazing golem-sized statues crafted of the finest and most precious metals stood in place, faces of the gods smiling down on those below. Below the rear courtyard was housed a dwarven temple to the forge-gods Reorx and Damien, and nobody without a beard or white robes ever set foot inside. Butting up against the rear wall of the courtyard was a large forge and foundry, where almost all of the city’s metal was processed.
As large and inspiring as the Temple of Roland was, that structure wasn’t the most imposing – nor the thing that stuck out most to visitors. Standing alone in the center of town, a crystalline spire jutted from the earth – its multifaceted surface glittering like the world’s largest diamond. Hundreds of feet tall, it gave NO impression of fragility or weakness – rather, it stood proudly, bathing various parts of the city in colored light. From time to time it would chime out messages, its ringing voice carrying easily across most of the city – alerting guards to unauthorized or dangerous spells, incoming travelers arriving via magic or merely sounding out the hour. Around its base jutted dozens of crystalline shards, each of which could be used by anyone in the vicinity to communicate with the intelligent Obelisk – who was enchanted to be helpful…. most of the time. Like most beings, it was sometimes playful – sometimes grumpy, but only dangerous to those of an evil bent, or who intended harm.
The great obelisk was tasked to protect the city and serve its leader – Duchess Varalla, which it did with great and powerful force. Few beings, or even gods, would pick a fight with the network of obelisks that had been constructed around the planet by a gem-crazy Ogre – who had since fulfilled a millenia-old prophecy and taken up the mantle of One, a mythical and largely unheard of race that’d spawned the Ancients and Powermasters thousands of years ago. Even now, the Race of One was a secret that only a handful of people in the world even knew existed – and even fewer had ever met.
V’ral’s obelisk was one of the stronger of the crystalline entities across Faerun – having been fed Spherecrystal by a famous dwarven adventurer years back. Only two obelisks were stronger – an obelisk who’d been overfed inside a flying, dwarven mountain (who called itself the Mobilisk) and Obelisk Prime, the ‘original’ gemstone entity that’d spawned all the rest. Connected via veins of crystal deep in the mantle of the world, the Obelisk Network was also attached through the Weave of magic surrounding the planet. During an event known as the Great Resurrect, much of the Weave had burned away – and were it not for the network of obelisks, it might’ve taken centuries to be restored. Where once the Weave merely lay over the world, now it emanated from the ley lines – stretching outward more like a spider web of thick and mighty cables as befits a world of powerful magic such as this.
From a distance, nothing seemed amiss – just a simple morning like any other, but in a place unbelievably far away something was about to change all that. Unbeknownst to most inhabitants of V’ral, one of the former members of the Fallen Legion was himself turning toward darkness – his lust for limitless power and too much time spent with an Alchemical aunt driving him brilliantly mad. The Fallen Legion was a powerful group of stalwart adventurers who served Duchess Varalla – led by a “runt” half-ogre, half-dwarf by the name of Erok, Son of Arg (the aforementioned gem-crazed ogre).
Ethos’ father was Daren, the firstborn Powermaster in centuries – and also teacher, sponsor and friend to Arg. Ethos and Erok, having grown up together – naturally became adventuring buddies, and for a time wandered across both Faerun and its western continent where Daerma (and V’ral) sat. Eventually though, a schism developed between the two – as Erok was naturally bent towards serving goodness, and Ethos preferred amassing personal power. Nobody really knew what had eventually caused them to become bitter enemies – but after one memorable visit home to Anauroch, Erok returned not with Ethos but a startling being calling himself Sazerac.
As the legion continued adventuring, Ethos went off to hunt down and delve ever deeper into the secrets of magic – resorting to summoning and extracting long-forgotten fell sorceries from demons and devils he called forth from the hells. This led him to an uneasy alliance with Ayla the Forsaken, a master in the art of alchemy and torture. At one point, before he completely lost his mind – the young son of Daren successfully tricked Obelisk Prime into absorbing a type of feedback virus, which let him pillage freely through its amassed magical knowledge and unlock the final keys he had been seeking. Offering his ‘help’ to erase the offending virus (and any trace of his crime), the now wholly evil son of Daren got away scot-free – retreating to a sealed, underground drow city which had fallen long ago.
Easily mastering the fell magics that had corrupted its inhabitants, Ethos made contact with an entity of pure destructive power which had devoured gods, worlds and even entire crystal spheres. Offering himself as a host for the entity, Ethos absorbed a fragment of the being’s true nature – and as his body swelled with dark energy, he hissed “I am remade – Avatar of the Unmaker !!”
As you might imagine, this did not go unnoticed by the Unmaker’s other servants – creatures who’d strived for many lifetimes to achieve what Ethos had accomplished in just a few short years. A powerful draconic drow began deploying his forces in earnest – annoyed that this young upstart was threatening his plans. Through various channels, he launched an attack designed to destabilize the planes themselves – trying to collapse them into a single new reality and crush Ethos and the entire reality from whence he came.
When the first shockwave hit Toril, it caused rips and tears to open in the fabric of reality there. In V’ral, a ripping sound presaged unstable gateways appearing in the skies – leading to various other planes, including the lower levels of the Abyss. The demonic horde wasted no time, flooding hungrily out in search of fresh meat and souls. Flaring incandescent, the mighty obelisk warned the city – summoning its defenders to arms. The fallen legion responded – going after the largest and most powerful foes they could see, sending a group of balors (the generals of hell) back to the place from which they’d came.
Seeing a troupe of his mightiest generals come back, beaten to a pulp – an enraged Demogorgon took to the field himself, only to be smacked upside the head with a shovel and sent packing by the legion upstart Sazerac. Roaring in impotent rage, the lord of the abyss vowed revenge and started a ceremony to unlock the powerful vault that led to the Deeper Hells – a place where even he tread lightly. Meanwhile, in V’ral things were slowly returning to normal. With the aid of various and powerful spellcasters around town, the churches were able to ward off and lock down the gates – noting their power seemed to be fading, albeit slowly.
Varalla’s old adventuring companion, a drow powermaster by the name of Sorvani – was able to determine that some kind of planar explosion had caused all the chaos, and to find out more Varalla sent the Fallen Legion through to investigate. It would be the last time any of them saw the Fallen Legion again.
Two days later (roughly 66 hours and change) Demogorgon’s ceremony unlocked the sealed vault – unleashing a score of Abyssal Titans through a gate he opened onto the outskirts of V’ral. Reacting with inhuman speed, the city’s obelisk assessed the grim situation and threw up its strongest protective dome – which held the titans back for roughly 15 seconds. A little freaked out by being attacked by what amounted to 20 godlings, the obelisk tried something that only Prime and the Mobilisk had safely done – shifting the entire city elsewhere.
Unfortunately, the already weakened fabric of reality wasn’t able to withstand such an enormous flux of power – and while V’ral crystal DID have enough energy to teleport the city a short distance away, when reality failed it sent the dematerialized town hurtling sideways out of space and time altogether. Realizing it’d made a serious miscalculation, the obelisk sacrificed its own essence to rematerialize the town as they hurtled across the multiverses – shattering into hundreds of pieces as it landed them on an unknown world.