The Fall of Sarpedon
Introduction - The Fall of Sarpedon
Since time immemorial, the continent of Axiom existed with a simple fact:
Those who wielded the incalculable might of magic ruled over those who did not.
After all, how could Wizards able to decimate an army with a wave of the hand, or Clerics that channeled the raw power of the Gods Themselves, possibly be subservient to those whose only weapon was a yard of sharpened steel?
That was to change.
For previously recorded history, however, kingdoms and empires regardless of the races that comprised them had always been theocracies and thaumaticies. Priest Kings and Lord Wizards ruled their territories with unquestioned authority, the secrets of magic jealously guarded and passed down along family lines to preserve power. Disputes between nations were often resolved in quick, deadly conflicts where the most clever or ruthless use of spellcraft won victory. Despite such occasional violence, civilization existed in what could be considered a secure if stagnant balance. Understandably, modern historians named this time as the Age of Magic.
In one such land came to rise a man of unparalleled strength and ambition. He embodied the ultimate combined achievement of magical potential, martial ability and psionic power. Of this original small kingdom, nothing is remembered except that it took for a new name that of its master.
Sarpedon’s forces soon conquered his neighbors, through tactics brutal and benign, sophisticated and simple, always diverse and brilliant. In fear of losing their own thrones, the remaining nations turned, as they always had, to magic for their defense.
Out of desperation to counter the overwhelming power of Sarpedon, the magic-users delved further than they would have otherwise dared. Wizards called upon energies and beings that they had little if any control over, while clerics who had once been devoted to principles such as Good, Evil, Order or Chaos, tapped into might forbidden by their faiths. New breeds of spell casters born of these experiments included the Sorcerer, Invoker, and Warlock.
During these hostile times, many unfathomable beasts were created as weapons of war, and many virulent spells roamed the land, claiming any who were unfortunate enough to find themselves in their path. There appeared to be no atrocity too great for the combatants to commit in search of victory, and no haven that offered safety to the common people.
All resistance proved to be in vain, for Sarpedon went on to conquer Axiom on an ocean of blood, death, and magic. When the last of the independent nations surrendered, Sarpedon named himself Eternal Emperor and vowed that he would one day supplant the Gods themselves.
To this day, it is not entirely known what happened on the dawn that Sarpedon was to be crowned as Eternal Emperor. Some say a few rebellious wizards managed to cast a final, apocalyptic spell rather than live as thralls, or that uncontrolled magic generated in the great wars finally accumulated with deadly result. Others believe that the Gods joined together to smite Sarpedon for fear he would keep his vow, or that he sacrificed himself to save the world from some unknown terror.
What is certain is that, on Coronation Day, a cataclysm of unimaginable magnitude erupted from Sarpedon’s gargantuan palace, devastating nearly the entire continent of Axiom. The area of the blast became an inhospitable wasteland, and waves of disruptive magic washed over the land, driving survivors to flee to the Southern Coast seeking escape. Thus was the Fall of Sarpedon and the end of the Age of Magic.
While magic itself still existed in the world, its remaining few practitioners no longer held the supreme power and authority they once did. The secrets of the higher enchantments were lost with the prodigious spellcasters that were annihilated during the war, their books, scrolls and instruments burned to ash. The mage guilds and churches that held absolute authority for millennia were now leaderless and cast into ruins. Even the Gods seemed elsewhere now, the most fervent prayers answered only with sterile silence.
In the political and magical vacuum left by Sarpedon, individuals unpracticed in spellcraft from all races rose to lead the scattered populations. The culture and governments of the new city states that emerged were various; some tyrannical dictatorships, some fledgling democracies, most somewhere between. One thing they all held in common was a fear of the return of the rule of magic, and of the devastation that rule once caused. The Age of the Sword had dawned on Axiom.
Today, magic-users descended from the survivors lead much more humble existences. Many serve their local communities as advisors, healers, and occasionally even militia, but the civilized peoples will no longer accept them in roles of authority, and they are often closely watched and regulated lest they grow too powerful. In the uncivilized regions, however, the few wielders of the neigh-forgotten Primal power source have once again begun to find a place in the world that had forsaken them long before the beginnings of recorded history.
It is into this new world that the next generation of adventurers shall travel. A world filled with new hope and potential, but haunted by the past and still chilled by the shadow of the Eternal Emperor, Sarpedon…