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THE WORLD KNOWN AS THE EVERDARK Should ye look up at the heavens above, there ye will see the eye of our Ancestor. Yes, that same great Ancestor that laid eternal waste to the terrifying Sun, and ushered in the night to enfold the earth in the arms of its mercy. That eye watches over us still as our majestic moon, its crimson light a symbol of its protection. It is the eye of our ancestor, Dracul, who caused the moon to devour the sun. It is that which is the red moon which shines over us now. It is by that very wish of our Ancestor that knights such as we can exist. Just as the red moon circles the heavens do we protect the earth. The moon protects the heavens; we knights protect the earth. In the keep of every village, there is a belltower. The shadow it casts tells the time. And at the appointed time, the bell is rung. The sound of the bell decrees the beginning and end of a day. Halfway through the day, the common folk receive their sustenance. At this time also do they pray to our Ancestor in the holy halls. When the revolving moon has reached the twelfth mark, the bell of the tower rings twelve times. It is at this time that the faithful monks, twelve times, face the red moon and offer their prayers to it--making our gratitude known to the great Dracul. The calm night is, to this day, veiled in the discreet night fog. Within the embrace of the great night, the common people rest, at ease. The heavens too remain still, maintaining their blessed promise to the earth. From the six Progenitors arose the six Principalities, which have made the land fertile and prosperous. The people know hunger no longer. Under the ever-watching eye of Ancestor Dracul, the barbaric warfare of the past is no longer, and the people live in contentment. But not all is peaceful in the depths of the night. Foul faeries must be driven back. The risen dead must be laid to rest. Fallen knights must be vanquished. And the fragments of the Sun must be destroyed. The enemies of the knights know no end. That is why ye, too, must rise to become a knight. Defend the people, prove your honor, and vanquish the fallen... Beneath the watchful eye of our Ancestor, engrave your legend into the soil of the Everdark. KNIGHTS Knights are those who dedicate themselves to defending the Everdark and its people. Knighthood is not simply a marker of social class. It is the nature of one's very being. Should a knight exist among the common people, they will in time be recognized and decorated as a knight accordingly. These new knights must learn the bonds of fealty and friendship, deeper than even those of blood. For a long, long night awaits them. Indeed, an endless one. When a knight is decorated, time stops for them. No matter how old they grow, they will never die. No matter how badly wounded they become, they will always heal. They need not worry about heat or cold, and poison is likewise ineffective against them. They swiftly gain power beyond that of any human, and they know not hunger, only thirst. Warmth is that which joins the common people and the knights together. The emotions of the people allow the knights to choose their lonesome road. By communing with the people, they can resist the thirst that threatens to consume them, and gain even greater power. But do not be deceived. Knights must at all times bear humility within their heart. Should they forget this, they will be consumed by thirst and vice. As their vices build upon themselves, they will lose their free will and, in time, fall. In order to receive warmth, one thing is necessary: a kiss. For knights, this is most often a kiss to the hand, a pledge of their loyalty. A deeper expression of loyalty is a kiss to the nape of the neck. Through this brief touch, knights receive warmth. Of course, there are more intimate ways of transferring it. Any and all of these ways are the greatest joy available to a knight. A knight's happiness is found in knowing conversation, friendship, and romance with their fellow knights. They may also mingle with the common people, seeking those among them worthy to become knights and decorating them. Perhaps that is how ye, too, became knights. And perhaps as a knight, ye, too, should try and slake your thirst upon the worthy. For this is how the knights maintain their strength, as ye have been shown. Should ye be a Lord or Lady, to embrace the common people and multiply is, indeed, your very duty. As a Knight, there are times when ye must rest. Knights must sleep from time to time. Should ye have fought many fierce battles, the moon may rise and fall many times before you awaken from your slumber. This is because ye must meditate in order to absorb the spirit of Dracul from the world. Deep within Dracul's consciousness, ye will rise within the crimson fog and absorb its power into yourself. However, if danger befalls ye--for instance, if ye are attacked--ye shall awaken instantly. Knights cannot be caught unawares during their slumber. Aside from thirst, knights do not hunger. However, many still choose to eat. In order not to forget how the common people live, they will dine on soup, stew and bread together with them. Other knights, in their long years, have forgotten or neglected the habit entirely. For, after being decorated, all knights are children of Dracul. It is the Ancestor Dracul's power that fills and sustains each and every knight. Through sleep, they replenish this power from the world itself. In addition, gluttony causes problems for the common people and is thus a sin. All knights would do well to remember this. Knights such as ye cannot gain or lose weight. Poison and illness mean nothing to them. A wound inflicted upon the body is of little more consequence then a sword stabbed into the earth. Unless their hearts are broken... Unless their hearts are tainted... Knights are eternal. There is naught that can harm ye but the Sun itself. Ye are one with the world. Through exchanging your feelings with your fellow knights, ye shall be fulfilled. And when so fulfilled, ye may even be able to contend with those who stand under the dreaded Sun. Ye neither need nor expect any reward. Anything which ye desire, ye can simply Realize. That is what separates you from the common people... Your ability to Realize. REALIZATION When ye were decorated as a Knight, ye became one with the world and our Ancestor. Our Ancestor lives inside ye, and your abilities are proof of that. And our Ancestor is the world itself. As a result, the expression of your pure will--that which qualifies you to become a Knight--is capable of changing the world itself. Anything that you desire, you can create in your immediate vicinity. When the will of a Knight is focused upon the air or the earth, it can create things where there was nothing before. For example, clothing, arms and armor, or horses can all be thought into being. You can summon armor, fine clothes, a weapon in your hand, and the finest of warhorses at any time. As a result, ye have little need for blacksmiths, stables, tailors, or other such enterprises. Ye are always dressed elegantly. This is a fact of your very being. Ye are always beautiful, no matter how long ago you were decorated as a knight. A skilled Knight can Realize their entire surroundings with but a moment of concentration, transforming the entire landscape, giving rise to new life, or even altering their own being. However, when at rest, everything except your own original flesh... for instance, your clothes and horse, will all cease to be Realized. Consequentially, all knights have to sleep naked. KISSES If they have faith in you, your fellow Knights may permit you to kiss them, which will let you partake of their Warmth and slake your Thirst. You may in turn do the same for them. Kisses are the most important form of touch for a knight. Should ye become a knight, there is no way you will be unfamiliar with the ritual. It is the highest honor for a knight to be permitted to kiss their liege upon the wrist. This gesture is evidence in the eyes of all of your merit and the favor your liege has for you. However, in private, knights may exchange an even more intimate type of kiss; that upon the nape of the neck. To kiss one anothers' neck, as if entwined, is an expression of the deepest friendship and love. In such an embrace, time will no doubt lose its meaning, replaced only by passion and the joy of one's fulfilled love. However, it must be done in secret. To do this before the eyes of others would be most unseemly. SQUIRES AND DECORATION Decoration is the process by which a commom person becomes a knight. For a person to receive decoration, no matter who they are, they must serve as a squire for several years. In this capacity, they must become familiar with the personality of the knight they serve. The knight must also receive permission from the most eminent member of their own bloodline. Each Prince and Princess is in charge of the knights of their own House, and to unilaterally decorate a prospective knight without permission is considered a transgression of knightly virtue. Those who possess any sort of infamy are likely to never be decorated as well. Though it is said the various lineages have different rituals to confer decoration, the details of each are a closely guarded secret. All that is known is that the process leaves both knight and squire exhausted and they must sleep for several days afterwards. As a result, knights willing to perform a decoration in times of crisis are few. Decoration is typically left for peaceful periods, when the Everdark can comfortably be spared a knight for the duration. The bond between a knight and those squires whom they decorate is considered the closest of relationships. Many such former squires continue to serve as loyal companions; however, if the bond between the two is not close, they may be given duties more akin to a page during the infancy of the knighthood. In addition, sometimes decoration is conferred upon household servants and civil officials as a reward for their service. THE KNIGHT'S PATH All knights, at the time they are decorated, take three vows. Ye must hold these vows above all else. They are known as the Knight's Path. The first vow: "Thou must discipline thyself." To indulge in vice is a sin. To draw closer to one's fall is a sin. Bond with your fellow Knights and share in their Warmth. Succumb not to your own desires, and forget not the crimson bonds ye bear. The second vow: "Thou must defend the people." It is the people who built the walls of our castles and keeps. It is the people who provide sustenance to us. No one may become a knight unless they choose to defend the people. For they, too, are children of Dracul, the one who created our glorious land. The third vow: "Thou must not suffer the fallen." That one of their companions should fall is the greatest shame any knight could know. The existence of such a fallen knight cannot be permitted. Even if it is your liege or your retainer who falls, they must be destroyed all the same. For they have been lost down the path of sin, and can never be set right again. THIRST AND THE FALL When knights feel exhaustion or loneliness, they are tormented by Thirst. Often, however, it takes but a single embrace from one of their squires to abolish their ennui. History is rife with record of knights who have been cleansed of their Thirst by but a single knight of newfound love. And should two knights be together, they can share in each other's Warmth and fear not Thirst. Knights must take care not to display their Thirst. It must not be shown to others. For to allow one's heart to be driven by Thirst is to fail to discipline thyself. It invites the fall. Many a knight suffering from Thirst has fallen victim to sin. Many a sinful knight has been lead by their Thirst to stray from the Knight's Path. They have been lead to lose control, harm the people, and in time fall. One who bears sin within themselves displays omens of their impending fall upon their bodies. This is considered greatly shameful and often provokes self-reflection. Those whom display these omens are known as "Night Beasts." Should they proceed beyond this to their fall, they are beyond saving. The fallen are no longer knights. They are monsters through and through, and a mark of shame upon all knights. Ye, as well, shall be called upon to destroy the fallen. THE HISTORY OF THE EVERDARK It is of course thanks to the works of our great Ancestor and the wondrous Progenitors that the Everdark exists. The common people have few opportunities to learn the history of our land, but now that ye are a Knight, it is your privilege to learn it. Let us explore the history of the Everdark in brief. If you wish for a more detailed overview, there are sages in the Principality of Dustheim who would be able to assist you. BEFORE THE EVERDARK This world was not always one of night. In the terrifying age that came before, for half of the day, it was brutally and mercilessly encroached upon by the Sun. Its foul light sought to burn all life to a crisp. Yet despite its dreadful power, not all saw the Sun as the enemy it so clearly was. The naive common people clung to a heretical teaching, an evil creed that demanded the offering of living sacrifices to the Sun. Even so, they were not to blame. They lived in constant fear of being incinerated by the Sun, knowing not the gentle night that protects us now. Their night lasted only half of the day before the Sun crept into the eastern sky to renew its savage assault. During these days, the land was willed with all manner of filth, poison and calamity. The Progenitors decorated by our Ancestor had to contend with rain that burnt them, rivers that blocked their path, herbal banes that caused them to suffer, and of course, the curse of the Sun whose light would have meant their very end. They were unable to gain Warmth except from the flowing blood of the people. This is why our Ancestor and the Progenitors were slandered as bloodsucking monsters. As unbelievable as it may seem, they themselves acknowledged this as a truth at the time. In the midst of this age so dreadful that words hardly sufficed to describe it appeared our savior, our Ancestor--Dracul. ANCESTOR DRACUL As if infected by the Sun's evil, the people in those days loathed each other, warred against each other, and killed each other. It was in such an era that Dracul, the prince of a small dominion, lamented his fate. He sought a blessing greater than that of the gentle night--the power of the moon itself. For five hundred long years, Ancestor Dracul endured. He was misunderstood and rejected by his people, and his land sometimes overrun by enemy kingdoms. And, of course, he had to ensure the wrath of the Sun for countless days. During this era, Dracul decorated six women, adopting them as his daughters. These daughters became the Progenitors of the Six Houses. They, alone amongst all of our kind, shared directly in the Warmth of our Ancestor. After five hundred years had passed, Dracul reached the height of his power. He set himself the task of destroying the loathsome Sun once and for all. After exchanging one last kiss with each of his beloved daughters, he bid them farewell. He transformed his flesh into a great black dragon, and flew up into the heavens, aiming for the east. Piercing the darkness like a blade, the Sun arose to meet him in battle. Its flames, ever so destructive as to inspire despair, engulfed Dracul. But though he burnt, dropping crimson ashes onto the land below, he did not take fright. Summoning the power of darkness from within himself, he, in turn, engulfed the Sun. Though its terrible fire sought to destroy him, unlike the land which the Sun laid waste to every night, Dracul did not yield. Dracul was burnt to a degree that would end any lesser being, yet he regenerated himself again and again. Upon the earth below, his daughters prayed for him. His ashes blanketed the earth in crimson as the battle raged on and on in the heavens. The Sun, though engulfed by Dracul, likewise refused to yield. They transited the sky together, from east to zenith, from zenith to west. At long last, the Sun began to weaken, and its light began to fade. When both were well in the west... Dracul finally shattered the Sun. It transformed into a mass of flaming fragments, which rained down upon the wastelands below. To this day, that part of the world remains filled with miasma and poisoned land, devoid of the blessings our land knows. The age of the foul Sun had come to the end. Dracul had won. But he did not return from the sky. Having exhausted himself near to the point of destruction, he sought to reach the moon in order to rest and recover, but he did not succeed. His body was reduced to ash within the heavens. The ash settled upon the moon, and his ashes rise and fall with the moon still. Once a small, pale white globe, the magestic moon now shines a glorious crimson in the sky. The six Progenitors, his daughters, lamented our Ancestor's death. But it was not in vain. Our great Ancestor had destroyed the Sun and freed the land from its cursed light. THE EVERDARK With the destruction of the Sun by our Ancestor, an endless night began, ushering in a blessed age. Princess Seidmarie, of House Dustheim, decreed that henceforth this era would be known as the "Everdark." It is from this time onwards that we have detailed records of history. The coming of the Everdark was, to say the least, a dramatic occasion. The sun had been destroyed, and the land covered in the ashes of our Ancestor. Finally, the moon shone a brilliant crimson, as did the earth from the ashes that had rained upon it. It was not long before the ashes were stirred up and became, instead, a crimson fog that covered all. People were plunged into confusion, and by necessity, put aside their conflicts. The crimson fog covered the entire world for six days. Then, all over the world, it was drawn into the earth below and vanished. The world itself had absorbed our Ancestor, Dracul. Freed of the curse of the sun, people found that they had cause to war upon each other no longer. In the sky above, the moon shined crimson, its imposing presence gazing protectively down from the heavens upon a world now filled with piece. Those who had espoused the heresy of the Sun as worthy of sacrifice were stricken by its majesty, and repented at once. Man, beast, bird, plant and tree alike were free of the curse of the Sun. Only the gentle light of the crimson moon shined upon them now. In time, much of the miasma and poison that polluted the world retreated. All life prospered, and the people knew peace in the gentle embrace of the eternal night. THE SIX HOUSES It was not long after the Everdark began that the knights arose as well. There were still some in the world who believed the old heresies, those who sought to retrieve the fragments of the Sun from the "Land of Sunset" and claim its destructive power for themselves. The six wondrous Progenitors joined their powers in order to contest the threat of the dreadful Apostle of the Sun, who strove to mislead the people into restoring the curse of the Sun. Then, and now, such forces strive to use the faith of the common people to their end of resurrected the Sun. But at that time, the fear of the Sun was still fresh in peoples' hearts. They were plunged into confusion. In order to save whom they could from sacrifice amongst the common people, the Progenitors plunged themselves into an endless war. A war of persuasion. It was not long before the nobility and grace of our Progenitors commanded the hearts of the common folk, and they amassed many followers. Each of the Progenitors settled in a land where many people lived, and the Six Principalities were born. Noble Drac. Brave Gazewald. Austere Hellsgarde. Virtuous Nosferas. Wise Dustheim. And graceful Avaloma. In order to honor Ancestor Dracul as their one true king, the Progenitors all styled themselves Princesses. This was the beginning of the Six Principalities. Henceforth, the only king in all the land would be Ancestor Dracul in the heavens above. As ye are already knights, it is unnecessary to explain to ye that to call oneself a king would nowadays be held as the very height of revolting egotism. For over a hundred years, the Progenitors sought the fragments of the Sun and purged the heresies that offered sacrifice to it. They replaced them with temples to our Ancestor, teaching the people to pray to the red moon above as his eye, which watches over and protects us all. And at long last, the Progenitors heard the voice of our Ancestor once more. He told them to find heroes worthy of the power of their blood. He told them to decorate them, as he had decorated the Progenitors. Obeying the words of the great Ancestor, the Progenitors forswore their vows of chastity. They decorated loyal followers of their choice, sharing with them the blood of Dracul. In turn, these knights swore to defend the Progenitors to the end of their existence. Many heroes from this time today are known only from the records of honors bestowed upon them and the bards' tales that outlived them. For a time, they brought peace to the people of the land. But all was not well. Beneath the veil of this peace, the dreaded Sun had begun to stir once more. THE SUN DRAGON'S RAMPAGE In the year seven-hundred and seventy seven of the Everdark, the terrifying Sun Dragon arose from the Land of Sunset. Indeed, in the utmost expression of blasphemy and humiliation against our Ancestor, the Sun had assumed his draconic form. The Knights were at once enraged, and frightful. Even the Progenitors knew nothing of this Sun Dragon, a fragment of the Sun larger than they had ever seen... aside from the Sun itself, before it was broken. Its massive form soared towards heaven, but was unable to reach our Ancestor with the meager wings upon its back. However, their beating was so fierce as to stir up all the land. Many heroes perished, and cities and castles were laid to waste. The Progenitors themselves, for the first time after parting ways at the beginning of the Everdark to heal their individual domains, gathered in order to defeat the Sun Dragon. Appointed as leader was Princess Einnacht, of noble House Drac. Though the Progenitors brought with them their most storied retainers, Princess Dishild of brave House Gazewald had deigned to decorate only an elite few. Her house consisted of a mere twelve knights. All were prepared to fight to the bitter end. The battle was a fierce one. The light of the dreaded Sun emanated from the Sun Dragon's entire form, burning every knight it touched. Even as they were reduced to ashes, they charged forward in unison, stabbing it with sword and spear. The Progenitors fought as well, to the point of exhaustion; yet the battle raged on, allowing none to rest. At long last, the Sun Dragon ceased to move, and its fires weakened. It was the Princess of Gazewald who dealt the finishing blow. She and her elite twelve knights charged forward in a last desperate attack. In response, the Sun Dragon's body exploded into an inferno, proving itself a lethal opponent even when it could no longer move. The twelve knights sought to shield the Princess of Gazewald from the raging flames using their own bodies. They threw themselves upon the body of the Sun Dragon, enduring fire none had ever seen the likes of before. In their last moments, they carved the Sun Dragon's body open with their blades. When the flames had died down, and her knights reduced to ash, Princess Dishild saw before her the exposed heart of the Sun Dragon, the fragment that was the source of all its power. Without hesitation, she struck and destroyed it. At last, the Sun Dragon had been stopped. But fragments of the Sun glittered within its corpse still, and their light proved too much for Princess Dishild. The power of our Ancestor, the very night itself, borne within her own corpse flowed out and extinguished the fragments of the Sun once and for all, destroying the Sun Dragon completely. House Gazewald was no more. In respect of the sacrifice made by brave Princess Gazewald and her knights, the dominion of Old Gazewald has never been given another name to this day. Their memory serves as a glorious example to knights of every House. THE FALL OF NOSFERAS Though the Sun Dragon was defeated, it left deep scars upon all the land. Many heroes lost their lives, and the Progenitors itself had to sleep for nearly a year in their exhaustion. In order to escape from the nightmare of the Sun Dragon, the Princess of Avaloma had decided to abdicate her position in favor of a prince from beyond this world, in order that her people might be able to seclude themselves in the domain of the fairies. Amid the fallout, the remaining knights sought to heal the land. They had not the time to find or decorate new knights. But Princess Gazewald's righteousness became known to all. The number of misguided knights began to grow at this time. Seeking to escape from the fear lurking in their hearts that the Sun Dragon might rise again, many heroes succumbed to their sinful temptations. Fallen knights appeared in all the land. The Sun Dragon, though destroyed, in a sense was still rending the land with its wrathful claws. The land, the people, the knights, all had been laid to waste. Even the Progenitors would not be able to heal them easily. These wounds were still unhealed in year 787 of the Everdark. In the Principality of Nosferas, an epidemic the likes of which had never been seen during the Everdark broke out. Of course, the knights themselves were not vulnerable to this disease. But one by one, the common people of Nosferas perished. Almost three our of every four denizens of Nosferas fell ill, their lives departing in a matter of days. The towns and villages lay piled high with corpses, and they spread the disease further as they rotted. Claudead, the Princess of Nosferas, begged for aid from the other Progenitors. But they were too preoccupied with the chaos in their own dominions to offer much help. The knights had known nothing of disease since the dawn of the Everdark, and the common people perishing of a plague did not frighten them as much as the return of the Sun. Even the wisest sages of House Dustheim did not see the need for alarm. But the Princess of Nosferas's mercy was not so shallow as that. She could not overlook the deaths of her people. She sought to save as many as she could through personally decorating them, even knowing that it was a foolish act which could lead to unworthy knights wandering the world. Decorating a knight is a sacred ritual that makes one unable to move for, at minimum, a day. This is no different for even a Progenitor. But even so, without a moment's rest, it is said that Claudead decorated over a hundred knights in succession. Even when weak and confused from exhaustion, she continued to do so. Such was her dedication. Such were the depths of her mercy. Claudead soon surpassed her limit, making herself into something that was no longer a knight--the one now known as the Queen of the Dead, who manipulates corpses as of they were puppets. It became clear to all that, like countless other knights during that dark age, she had fallen. She had become an embodument of evil. Many of the knights of Nosferas recognized the transformation of their Progenitor, Claudead, and left the Principality of Nosferas. Though this act could be seen as disloyal, they viewed it as the only righteous thing to do. It is from them that word of the fall of Nosferas spread throughout the land. Those knights who remained serve the Queen of the Dead to this day, as the wretched Death Knights. They frequently make incursions into the neighboring principalities of Drac and Hellsgarde, stirring up chaos. The knights who fled from Nosferas have disavowed their prior domain, and it is now simply known as the Dead Queen's Land. HELL ON EARTH The dead that overflowed from the former domain of Nosferas was not the only trial the knights had to contend with. The number of fallen continued to increase after the Sun Dragon's rampage. These fallen came from each and every house. No matter how many were captured, impaled, and imprisoned, they continued to maraud through the land, leaving chaos and victims in their wake. At the same time, an unbelievable amount of the living dead continued to spill out of the Dead Queen's Land. This was something that austere Gergianna, the Princess of Hellsgarde, could not tolerate. In the 9th century of the Everdark, she came to a conclusion concerning the repeated invasions from the Dead Queen's Land and the abundance of fallen knights. She sent a missive to the four Houses that remained, seeking to persuade them of her point of view. Though she did not find them receptive, her determination would not be shaken. She performed a large-scale Realization upon her own domain, widening it, discarding all notions of its preservation as she sought to become one with Dracul and the world itself. She sought to perfect the domain she had created at any cost. And in doing this, the Princess of Hellsgarde vanished from the world. What was born in her place was hell on earth. House Hellsgarde itself became keepers of the infernal prison. The fallen knights that could not be saved, and the dead of Nosferas that were condemned to eternal torment, were reborn in the Principality of Hellsgarde. And they continue to wander it to this day, with the knights of House Hellsgard bearing the responsibility to ensure that they do not escape. Prior to her disappearance, Gergianna had selected one of her most ancient knights to succeed her as Princess. It was this woman, Princess Margrit, who succeeded her and supervises the task of guarding the damned to this day. Among the leaders of all the Houses, she is said to have the most responsibility. Not long after these events, Princess Einnacht also abdicated her position as head of House Drac. Though one source claims she proceeded to wander the world and eradicate countless foes, her current whereabouts are unknown. Since then, the head of House Drac has rotated once every hundred years. It was at this time that the era of the Progenitors is considered to have come to an end. RISE OF THE ROSENBURGS After a time, the Four Houses that remained returned to a peaceful existence. Many new knights were decorated, and with their aid, the terror in which the common people had lived finally abated. This peace endured for those to a thousand years. But the appearance of Sir Glanz stirred things from their repose. Ye are surely familiar with the legend of Prince Glanz as the newest, and most beautiful, of the founders of the Houses. But let us tell it in more detail. The year was 1655 of the Everdark. Lord Glanz, a member of a branch family of House Drac, was a knight-errant traveling through the domain of Old Gazewald when he came upon and singlehandedly destroyed a fragment of the Sun. In recognition of this grand accomplishment, he was enfeoffed with a domain of his very own, which he chose to be an unclaimed peninsula on the east shore of the land. As it was once the direction from which the Sun arose, the east has always been held to be an unlucky direction, and shunned. The land was thus largely uninhabited except for a few fighing villages. Sir Glanz, who at this time became known as Count Glanz, established his domain at a small harbor known as Rosenburg. He set aside his former name and took the name Rosenburg for himself. Within a half-century, Count Glanz's genius had built Rosenburg into a burgeoning trade center. He used the harbor to connect goods produced by the people of the surrounding islands with the domains of Avaloma and Dustheim, and with the profits built roads to Hellsgarde, Dustheim and Old Gazewald, establishing strong links with those domains. His achievements made him well known to the other Houses, even as he worked tirelessly to bring yet more glory to his domain. Count Rosenburg's knights ventured into the Silverwing Mountains and tamed the pegasi found there around this time, and began to be seen soaring through the sky on their winged mounts. The pegasi became the pride of the Rosenburgs, evoking both admiration and jealousy from the other Houses. In the 18th century of the Everdark, the Rosenburgs were invited to a meeting of what at that time were the Four Houses. The representatives of the Houses arrived at the decision to confer the title of Prince upon Glanz Rosenburg. For the first time since the dawn of the Everdark, a new Principality had arisen. With Rosenburg now among them, there were five Houses. THE KNIGHTS TODAY It is the 1999th year of the Everdark. Rosenburg is solidly established as one of the Five Houses, and the land has at long last healed from many of its wounds. Hellsgarde, Dustheim, and Avaloma remain much as they were in olden days. Neither their domains, nor their Princes, have visibly changed. Prince Glanz Rosenburg has reigned unchallenged for the three hundred years since he became a count. As of late, he has turned his attention to shipbuilding, seeking to explore and exploit the untamed lands rumored to lie far to the east. The remaining knights of Nosferas, at one time the sixth House, still seek desperately to cleanse their stained name. The rise of House Rosenburg has given them hope that they might some day be able to re-establish House Nosferas in the same way, and they burn with fervor to prove themselves loyal to the Everdark despite the treachery of the Princess they once served. In the domain of Old Gazewald, likewise inspired by House Rosenburg, a few knights from every domain gather with fantasies of resurrecting that long-extinct house. They all hope to be the one whose glory will earn them the right to a domain of their own. Though the Everdark seems to be at peace, even today, the apostles of the Sun and the Queen of the Dead's army are known to continue their sinister machinations. And with no visible foes to contend with, knights are prone to falling victim to sin. Radicals amongst House Hellsgarde and unethical experiments performed in the depths of House Dustheim present the knights with problems not known to them in olden days. Such is the state the knights find themselves in. Ye, too, will find in your years as a Knight that the Everdark shall change in ways that you could never imagine. The final aspect of our world that must be explained to ye is the stage ye stand upon, beginning with the most noble of Houses, the Principality of Drac. Ye shall no doubt begin your career as one who aspires to ingratiate themselves to House Drac. The other houses have their specialties, but it is House Drac whose influence is most powerful throughout the Everdark. However, they recognize the meritorious even if not of their own blood. Knights of House Avaloma and House Nosferas are among those whom have been favored by the Princess of Drac as of late. Even in the fertile lands of the Principality of Drac, ye may find danger, worthy foes, and glory. But ye may choose to brave the lands nearby if you wish. The Land of Sunset, the Dead Queen's Domain, or any of the other Principalities... they all offer opportunities to earn your name. Perhaps ye will not have far to go before being beset by an incursion from one of the borderlands. Perhaps it will be the great incursion prophecied by the sages. It is because of its affluence, as well as its location, that the Principality of Drac is the eye of the storm. Many blades lie waiting to be drawn within the grand halls of House Drac. If ye be of that bloodline, ye shall have to contend with them to. Take care lest ye be seen as a rival by those vying to be the next Prince. Nor can ye rest at ease, even should ye not be of House Drac. The current Princess, Wahrheit, is considering retirement as has been the tradition of past Princes and Princesses of Drac. After that, she shall embark on a journey. For this journey, she shall reweire stalwart retainers. It is for that reason that many of her knights, eager to prove their valor, are cultivating fierce rivalries. Even should ye not wish to involve yourself in this, if ye have a reputation as a mighty warrior, ye may not be given a choice. Even should ye not be so esteemed, it is possible the Princess herself may bestow upon you a quest. Though Princess Wahrheit has had a long reign, the ranks of her retainers in House Drac du not have an abundance of warriors. She may well have a task in need of those of a martial disposition such as ye. After all, some of knights conceal their sins and become fallen still. The fragments of the Sun remain here and there throughout the world, and the Queen of the Dead seeks to expand her domain. The Principality of Drac may appear peaceful at a glance, but the sages have made a prophecy. They warn that House Drac shall be on the vanguard of a new age of strife. Whispers of what this age may bring fill their halls. Ye must be the ones to stand against this malice. This as-of-yet invisible threat. For a demon lurks in the darkness behind these rumors, a demon that is cause for one's heart to quake. Follow the Knight's Path. Never forget your pride as a Knight. Do so, and ye shall be new heroes whom shall restore hope to our Principality of Drac, so filled with unease. THE FOES OF THE KNIGHTS Should ye become knights, ye shall have to devote yourselves to battle. To fight for the sake those who cannot is the duty of the knights. Ye must fight to protect your liege, your domain, and the Everdark itself. Described henceforth are the foes that you must contend with. OTHER KNIGHTS Sparring matches and tests of skill against your fellow knights are commonplace. As a valorous knight, you must not shirk them, whether they be against a superior, an inferior, a friend, or a lover. Instead, consider yourself blessed to be able to contend with other knights in this way. You will meet worthy opponents. And in testing your mettle against theirs, you will come to know yourself. You must come to know yourself. In addition, knights who commit sinful acts must be punished. Only if this is done will they reflect upon their transgression and perhaps return to the Knightly Path, arresting their journey to the fall that otherwise awaits them. As a fellow knight, you cannot overlook those that place themselves at such a risk. You must correct them, using as much force as necessary. Whether it be with a public challenge, or a private intervention, you must. If they refuse your counsel, it may be necessary to seal them. Any sinful knight left unchecked will fall before long. And a fallen knight brings shame upon all. FALLEN KNIGHTS Knights who are consumed by their own rage become werewolves. They become rampaging beasts, sometimes as mad as starving wolves, at other times lucid enough to attract misguided followers. They then frequently proceed to lash out at the common people, going on killing sprees. Knights who are consumed by their own ambition instead become Black Goats. Inhumanly cunning, they are monsters capable of working magic most foul. Their prideful tyranny causes them to become slovenly, degenerate and immoral creatures. Nonetheless, they are capable of leading the common folk astray and building monuments to their own fall. Knights who fall victim to madness are known simply as Nightbeasts. They are beasts through and through, driven insane by a thirst that they must slake, but cannot. They can do nothing but feed and feed again. Many a hero of old fell and became a Nightbeast as their final fate. A fragment of their former selves still remains, and at times, they can return to their knightly form; but even when they do, they are typically not aware of their own fall. THE DEAD ARMY The land once known as the Domain of Nosferas is now known as the Dead Land. To feel pity for its fate is of no use. Claudead, the Queen of the Dead, sends her army of the walking dead to terrorize the common folk of Drac and Hellsgarde frequently. Warriors of bleached bone are accompanied by flying ghosts, and from time to time a knight in full armor appears in their ranks, one of the Queen's dreaded Death Knights. Even should ye not be of the afflicted Houses, the Dead Army are your foes. If they ever succeed in overrunning Drac and Hellsgarde, the knights and people of all the land shall suffer the same fate. There is rarely any advance warning of incursions by the Dead Army. They are sudden and irrational, much as if they were a calamity born of nature. The Dead Army is particularly fierce when it invades the Domain of Drac. If ye should call that domain your home, be prepared to do battle with them. Often they attack by sea; their ships of bone shall land on your shores, and their warriors shall assault your beaches. But they have also been known to use the overland routes. FAIRIES Fairies frolic in the shadows as well. The foulest among them do so as they feast upon human flesh. And as a Knight, ye must protect the common people. Fairies live in mountains, forests, badlands, swamps, seashores - most any remote and undisturbed place is home to elder fae. At times they also make their homes close to human villages, and a few even perform household tasks in order to share human dwellings. But not all fairies are good neighbors. There are also monsters among them. Using the proper methods, one can even ingratiate themselves to a normally malicious fairy. That is a task often carried out by the knights of Avaloma, who for ages have had a close relationship with the fair folk. But there are varieties of fae, such as manticores and trolls, that are impossible to befriend. Fairy hounds and goblins can also be deadly if one makes a single misstep in dealing with them. Fairies can also be a great boon. Unicorns and pegasi have served as glorious steeds to many a knight. The beautiful elves are friendly to knights, and an ancient tale tells of the affections of the Lady of the Lake for her beloved knight. Should ye become lost in the domain of the fairies, time will pass for you as if in a dream. The mysterious folk you will encounter there may be the foundation of your glory. FRAGMENTS OF THE SUN The most terrifying foes ye shall encounter are the fragments of the Sun, seeking to resurrect themselves. These must be destroyed at any cost. They lead the common folk astray with their false heresies, and destroy noble knights. If they succeed in constructing an incubator, they may be able to resurrect the dreaded Sun itself. This attempt to negate the sacrifice of our great Ancestor, Dracul, cannot be permitted. They are enemies of the world itself. If the Sun is ever resurrected, every last knight will be destroyed, and the world will burn in an inferno the likes of which has never been seen. For the power of even these fragments of the Sun is the some thing that can destroy a knight. Many heroes have met their end from it... such as the tale of Princess Gazewald, known to every knight, who sacrificed herself to defeat the Sun Dragon. Shall ye be of those who journey forth into the Land of Sunset to protect the Everdark, knowing full well ye may never return? The determination to do that is the mark of a true knight. HISTORY OF THE EVERDARK 500 BE: Ancestor Dracul is born. 400-50 BE: The Ancestor decorates his six daughters, the Progenitors. 0 ED: Ancestor Dracul destroys the sun. His ashes blanket the earth. 66 ED: The Princess of Avaloma forms a covenant with the Land of Winter. Henceforth, the winters of our land are warm and pleasant. 100 ED: Upon the hundreth anniversary of the Ancestor's death, the Progenitors hear his wishes and begin decorating their chosen. 421 ED: The Battle of Triangle Bay. A Fragment of the Sun appeared above the sea, and House Dustheim, House Hellsgarde, and House Nosferas join forces to defeat it. In honor of their alliance, Triangle Bay is henceforth known as Alliance Bay. 522 ED: The Princess of Nosferas builds the "Tower of the Moon" on the shores of the Moonlight Sea. At one time said to be the most beautiful tower in the land, no living knight recalls the sight of it. 775 ED: The sage Faden is observed to visit the castle of the Princess of Gazewald. 777 ED: The Sun Drago is first sighted. It lays waste to all the land, incinerating countless knights. The Princess of Gazewald sacrifices herself to destroy it. House Gazewald goes extinct. 778 ED: Princess Nimian of Avaloma is the first Progenitor to abdicate leadership of her house. She secludes herself in the domain of the fairies. All Princes and Princesses of Avaloma have short reigns from this time forth. 780 ED: The Knightly Houses meet and agree upon a defense plan for the Domain of Old Gazewald. 787 ED: Plague strikes the Domain of Nosferas. In attempting to save her people, The Princess of Nosferas falls and becomes the Queen of the Dead. The Domain of Nosferas ceases to be referred to as such. 788 ED: The Turmoil of the Tarnished Sea. This marks the occasion when Death Knights first assaulted the Domain of Drac on their ships of bone. 800 ED: Princess Gergjanna of Helldgarde transforms herself into a second hell itself. Her House is charged with defending it. Princess Margrit succeeds her as head of House Hellsgarde. 900 ED: The head of House Drac abdicates and embarks on a pilgrimage, beginning the tradition of leadership of House Drac rotating every hundred years. 999 ED: A goddess appears in the Ruby Lake, and speaks to the knights stationed on its shore. They build a shrine to her, and knights near that lake have paid their respects to her ever since. 1217 ED: Using knowledge received from House Dustheim, House Hellsgarde places a seal upon the hell within their domain. 1655 ED: Sir Granz of House Drac singlehandedly defeats a Fragment of the Sun, and is enfeoffed with the unclaimed peninsula that is now the Domain of Rosenburg. 1700 ED: The newly constructed harbor city of Rosenburg becomes prosperous. All of the Princes are invited to a grand feast held there. 1702 ED: Count Granz is recognized as a Prince, and House Rosenburg becomes one of the Six Princely Houses. 1900 ED: In accordance with tradition, the leader of House Drac abdicates, and "Black Dragon" Wahrheit is appointed as the new Princess. 1944 ED: Count Andreas of House Hellsgarde departs his estate in order to become a hunter and sealer of sinful knights. He soon gathers followers of a like mind. 1997 ED: Lord Samuel of House Drac descends into madness, and is named "the Slaughterer" for his sinful acts. An edict for his defeat is proclaimed. 1998 ED: A band of knights from the Principality of Drac journey into the Land of Sunset to investigate, and if necessary destroy, a sinister pillar of light that was witnessed there. They have not returned. 1999 ED: The present day. What lies ahead is unknown. MAP OF THE EVERDARK COUNTRY: Dead Land: The former Principality of Nosferas, ruled by the Queen of the Dead. No living creature exists within. Dustheim: The ancient Principality of Dustheim. It has many cities built in bygone eras. Avaloma: The Principality of Avaloma, friends of the fair folk. It is near the domain of the fairies. Hellsgard: The dread Principality of Hellsgarde, linked to hell itself. Drac: The great Principality of Drac. It has much productive land and is rich and bountiful. Often, the PCs' stories will be told here. Old Gazewald: The former Principality of Gazewald. Knight-errants of many Houses gather here to maintain its order and safety. Rosenburg: The recently founded Principality of Rosenburg, renowned for its splendid capital. Land of Winter: The island in which winter is sealed away from the world, in accordance with an ancient pact with Abaloma. The Plague Swamps: The plague which lead to the fall of Nosferas is said to have arisen from here. It is presently controlled by Death Knights from the Dead Land. The Dread Forest: A forest in which the trees are pure white, like the markers of graves. Once a lush forest, it was changed to its current state by the fall of Nosferas. The Forest of Ash: The Gravekeeper Mountains: The Skewered Mountains: Ruby Lake: The Fairy Forest: The Whitewing Mountains: The Land of Sunset: Dragon's Forest: The Lost Sea: The Moonlight Sea: Alliance Bay: The Frozen Sea: The Waters Beyond: