incomplete map draft
(be sure to hit the magnifying glass in the lower right twice)
Year 1: St. Ethar the Founder unites the human city states of the Heartlands at the battle of Prathava and founds the Etherian Empire, which continues to rapidly expand to the south and southwest.
Year 45: the First Dwarvish-Imperial War takes place, the Dwarven Kingdoms repulse the Empire's attempted advance into their mountain holds.
Year 51: To the North, Andros Doreos of Jenuya founds what will be the Liga Thalassa through the establishment of a series of treaties that form the League's later basis with Trabzon, Dorpat, and Krit. Over the next 20 years other cities will join.
Year 53: The Days of Fire and the Year of Ascendence. The mighty dragon Arcanthos descends on the Etherian Empire from the Northern Wilds and lays waste to all who oppose him. Tens of thousands perish before the dragon's onslaught, and the Empire teeters on the brink of collapse. Ullessar the Blessed, a bastard son of Ethar the Founder, defeats Arcanthos through cunning means, badly wounding the monster, which flees.
According to the teachings of the Ullesian Cult, Ullessar is granted divinity by the gods for his cleverness and courage. Whatever the truth of that, Ullessar does become immensely powerful- a mighty warrior and peerless sorceror- after he defeats Arcanthos. Ullessar's half-brother, Emperor Ethar III abdicates in favor of Ullessar.
The Thearchy is born from the (literal) ashes of the Empire.
Ullessar shares a fraction of his power with those noble families most loyal to his regime, making elves from men. To his immediate followers, a coterie of thirteen, he gives even more of his divine power, making them fearsome Demigods, beings of immense power, intelligence and skill who serve as Ullessar's lieutenants.
Years 55-84: the years of Reshaping. Over the first thirty years of his reign, Ullessar writes 57 tomes of philosophy and theology, collectively known as the Ullessian Way, detailing how all sentient beings can ascend through reincarnation to divinity. The Empire is reformed into a vast theocracy governed by a strict caste system. While other religions are tolerated to varying degrees, all forms of worship are subject to the oversight the Ullessian Cult.
The Demigods form the Council of Thearchs, which assists Ullessar in governing his lands.
Years 55-present: In accordance with the teachings of the Ullessian Way, those of mixed human and elf heritage are driven out of the Thearchy as abominations. They are hunted mercilessly by the Thearchy.
Years 55-100: Thearchy expands dramatically, its vast armies led by powerful Demigods and often by Ullessar himself. The powerful Rheinstaadt Confederation accepts client state status without resistance, and many other nations are brought under the Thearchy's thumb by intimidation, conversion or conquest. The Dwarven Kingdoms offer battle to the Thearchy three times over the course of forty five years, and are soundly defeated by Ullessar and his generals each time.
64: The Kingdom of Valenvaryon is crushed in the naval battle of Tripantos and made into a province of the Thearchy. The demigod Tynath is named Exarch of Valenvaryon.
65: In the aftermath of the Battle of Tripantos and the vassalization of the Rheinstaadt Confederation, the remaining cities join the Liga Thalassa to give it its present borders, out of fear of the Thearchy.
Years 100-110: The Ullessian Purges. The Thearchy invades the Dwarven mountain fortresses and launches a war of extermination. After ten years of fierce fighting, the Dwarves are crushed. Ullessar drives the spirits of the Dwarven ancestors from their ruined cities, and decrees that the Dwarven cities shall remain depopulated wastes forevermore.
Year 111: With the end of the holy war against the dwarves, half elves, persecuted religious groups, and low caste humans begin to use the ruins to escape the Thearchy, forming the first communities of the Exiled, as they call themselves.
Year 112: Providing no explanation, Ullessar retreats into his vast Temple-Palace in his capital of Alma, leaving the day to day functioning of empire is handed to the Demigods and elven oligarchy. The Council of Thearchs becomes the executive branch of the Thearchy.
Elven culture is increasingly defined over the next century by decandence and exess, while undercaste uprisings and revolts become increasingly common. The powerful blocs of vassals like the Rheinstaadt Confederacy and Jenuyan League begin renegotiating the terms of their client status, slowly worming out of the Thearchy's grip.
Year 200: The Dragon Arcanthos resurfaces in the ruined Dwarven capital of Janderhoff, and begins forming the Exiled into a nation. Rumor spreads of the Exiles' growing power and numbers in the south, and there are whispers throughout the land of the Dragon's return. Mention of such things becomes punishable by death within the Thearchy. Ullessar remains in his Temple, his Demigod lieutenants are either disinterested in the dragon's return, disbelieve the rumors, or too cowardly to act.
Years 215-216: The Ullessian Civil War, fought between the Demigods Ixetia and Samur and their armies and allies. Ixetia is defeated and killed, along with three other demigods. Nine remain alive.
Year 226: The elven aristocrat, sorceror and celebrated philosopher Athalus Nagath daz Odros leads a coup in the province of Valenvaryon, murdering the Demigod Tynath on his throne in the provincial capital. Odros proclaims himself Exarch of Valenvaryon in a impudent letter to the Divine Council, who reject his claims and denounce him as a revolutionary. Secretly terrified that one of their own could be killed so easily, the demigods dispatch an army to retake Valenvaryon and are soundly defeated by Odros' forces near the fishing village of Viiir. A peace is brokered in which Valenvaryon remains nominally a part of the Thearchy, with Odros as Exarch, but Odros is given almost complete independence. He wastes no time in dismantling the Ullessian Cult within the borders of his lands and organizing mass pogroms against the Ullessian devotees.
After Odros' victory in the South, the Rheinstaadt Confederacy refuses to pay its annual tribute to the Thearchy and threatens to declare independence.
Tenets of the Ullessian Cult
St. Ethar the Founder forged the Empire through his military brilliance and prophesied the coming of Ullessar the Blessed.
Ullessar was a great battlemage who defeated the dragon Arcanthos the Destroyer in battle. The gods uplifted Ullessar to godhood, and Ullessar shared his gift with the Chosen, who become elves.
The goal of each soul is to attain divinity through reincarnation into a higher caste. Obedience to the Thearchy and denial of the flesh will lead to reincarnation. So humans can hope to become elves in their next life, elves demigods, demigods gods, etc.
There are many gods worthy of worship, and the devotee of Ullessar may honor them all.
One should not marry outside their caste, to do otherwise is heresy, the path to godhood is purity.
Dragons are agents of chaos, tempting those without means with power and wealth. To accept these deals is a 'compact with evil.'
Sorcery is forbidden to non-elves. Only the Chosen may study the laws of energy and matter.
Necromancy is the greatest abomination. No one may study the laws of the Outsides.
Ancestor worship is an abomination. Worship only those who have ascended the ladder to divinity.
'Female' and 'male' are illusions of the flesh, there exists no gender in the soul.
'Half elves' (vermin, heretical, to be exterminated)
Aspirants: Human peasants, serfs
Enlightened (human artisans, merchants, clerics, warriors etc)
Uplifted: exclusively elves: aristocrats, business owners, estate owners
'Chosen' elves: nobles, dukes, thanes, sorcerors and other titles of nobility
Demigods: The (originally) 13 leaders of the Thearchy under Ullessar, extremely powerful and intelligent warriors, sorcerors, and leaders. Only eight live to this day.
Humans: the base standard. Easily the most numerous in the world.
Elves: Humans uplifted by the power of Ullessar following his defeat of Arcanthos. Physically superior to Humans in almost every aspect, also possessing far longer lives, less vulnerability to disease, faster reflexes and a generally higher intelligence. These attributes, especially their innate magical abilities, have been in decline since Ullessar locked himself in his temple for unknown reasons. Insanity and crippling degenerative diseases have become increasingly common among elf-kind in recent years.
Nagath Elves: Elves who have sworn allegiance to the rogue Great House Nagath and it's undead lord, they have cut their connection to Ullessar and thus no longer suffer from the decline facing the rest of their kind. They are sustained, rather, by dark sorcery and by continually eating human and elven flesh. Nagath elves are uncommonly skilled sorcerors and necromancers, no longer bound by the strictures of the Ullessian Cult.
Half-Elves: The offspring of a human and an elf. Generally superior to humans in most aspects, though not by nearly as much as pure elves. Their abilities haven't declined over the years, though they are still less than true elves.
Dwarves: those who live below, at one point were as numerous as humans, but after the Ullessian crusades are now all but extinct. Few live on the surface, hiding in human villages on the outskirts of the Empire or so far below ground that no one knows how to find them. They universally hate the Empire as Ullessar purged their ancestor's spirits from their underground cities. Generally tougher and stronger than humans, also possessing some resistance to magic. They once possessed great magical ability, but this ability was tied to the spirits of their ancestors, and was lost as their ancestors were purged.
Troll-kin: A foul mix of men and troll, bred by sorcerors in the slave-pits of Agash, troll-kin are strong, merciless and cunning despite their limited intelligence. They are used as heavy infantry by the Exarchate of Valenvaryon.
Reclicica: Warm blooded, sentient saurians native to the plains north of the Ullessian heartlands.
Vakeshi Tribesmen, aka lizard-kin and dragon-kin: rumored to be distantly related to the Reclicica, the Vakeshi are a race of cold blooded, sentient reptiles native to the deserts of the far South, where they have developed a complex nomadic society. Lizard-kin are valued for their capabilities as light infantry and skirmishers by the Exarch of Valenvaryon, while the Dragon-kin are a rarer variant of the Vakeshi more closely related to crocodilians, and are extremely dangerous heavy infantry.