Chapter 1 - Wages of War
Tryst winced as Fenroth, leader of the Tartari, slammed a mailed fist on the table. His great steel helmet in the shape of a screeching raven toppled off the side, clattering to the floor with an unholy racket. Fenroth didn't even notice. Over the background shouting, Tryst leaned close to me and whispered, "This won't end well."

Listening to Fenroth's ranting and raving, I couldn't help but agree. He and the other lords were no closer to choosing a successor than they had been a week ago. They never really discussed the possibility of uniting behind a new king, just blustered at each other until they were hoarse, and every night they retired to their bright silk pavilions frustrated and angry. It was getting to be about that time. Crickets chirped outside, and the meeting tent was lit by torches and candlelight alone.
Erebus Elysium Rain Forest Elven Woods Tartarus Dark Forest Erebus Luminous Lake Lethe River Grassy Plains Vespers Holy Lands Vespers Holy Lands Tartarus Dark Forest Glow Mountains Grassy Plains Whispering Swamps Mud Lands Erebus Forbidden Area Desert Plains Cliffs Kingdom of Zirconyx
Click on any territory on the map to find out more about that territory.
The land of Zirconyx has a history. Strange, wonderful, and very very long, as histories get. Most of it is unwritten, passed on in songs and legends rather than books, changing by the season.

However, singers and scribes all agree that the world used to be far larger than it is today. Its many climates offered life to thousands of different species, man and beast, plant and animal, even rock brought to life by the magic coursing through the earth. There are still old maps that show some of those places, but they are lost to us now. Lost in the mist.

It started under the rule of King Napadori the Fair. Life was decent. Hard-working peasant farmed the fields and hauled in the crops, knights and paladins fought in colourful tournaments, and powerful garrisons served to placate the more unruly of King Napadori's subjects.

In his thirty-sixth year, King Napadori was unhorsed in a tourney by some nameless hedge knight, struck in the head by his opponent's lance; after that, he was a changed man. Plagued by migraines during the day and terrible nightmares at night, there was no safe place for his mind to hide. The sickness left him a jittering, paranoid wreck. His eyes saw shadows and knives in every corner. Public executions of the 'traitors' became a daily occurrence. Napadori's once-loyal subjects took their lessons to heart.

Soon enough, Napadori was insisting that entire armies were being rallied just beyond his borders by Zirconyx's neighbours. He ordered his court wizards to scry to the very Edge of the World, searching for his enemies. But the closer they got to the Edge, the more their magical visions clouded over. Their scrying glasses would crack, and their crystal balls would shatter. That had never happened before.

Napadori cursed them for oathbreakers and incompetents, and dismissed all the wizards from court, banishing them back to their great library in the Glow Mountains.

Entire armies of explorers surged forth from Napadori's ancestral castle, but only a handful ever returned. Scarred men, and broken, half-mad with fear. The stories blew across Zirconyx like a cold wind. A thick, terrible mist had swallowed the neighbouring kingdoms and empires, all helpless to stop it. It was said to flay the flesh right off a man's bones; armoured or naked, it made no difference. Cold shapes moved through the haze, killing as they faded in and out of sight.

When the stories reached them, the banished wizards came running back to court. The fog they called Erebus was closing in on Zirconyx like a tightening noose. The King ignored them, calling his entire army to the field, all but the outlying garrisons made up of 'unreliable' local troops. He rode out with a column of his best knights, out past the borders of the kingdom, and wasn't heard from for three hundred years. The crown passed to his heir, a more decent man, but the banished wizards chose to remain in exile.

Slowly, Erebus covered Zirconyx's outlying provinces, driving hordes of refugees before it -- peasants and foreigners and creatures and worse. As a last resort, the wizards, the scholars, the necromancers and the spellweavers of Zirconyx all set aside their differences for one great purpose, joining their power together to weave the greatest magical spell in history. Day and night they worked, forging raw magic into a great shimmering dome of protection surrounding what was left of the kingdom. A spell powerful enough to hold the mist at bay.

When they were done, the wizards returned to court to bring their news before the royal family, only to be stymied by what they found. The entire royal family had disappeared. The serving staff had run off in terror. Once turned up, they claimed that King Napadori had returned at the head of a host of dead men, and gone down, deep into the bowels of the castle. There were things lurking down there, it was said, and a great doorway between dimensions hidden somewhere below.

The wizards fled back to the Glow Mountains to consult the Archmage, leaving Zirconyx in chaos. The kingdom was without a king. With the royal family gone, that left no one to succeed to the crown, and the people had no one to turn to for protection. Leaderless armies fell apart or pledged their swords to the lords and ladies of Zirconyx, rising to fill the power vacuum. They each raised their banners and put forth their diluted claims to the crown.

The Archmage intervened before a civil war could erupt, declaring a truce for as long as it took to investigate the mystery at the royal castle. In that, at least, the lords could agree. Then they uncovered the Seal Stone. The legendary doorway was there, blocked up by Napadori, and the Seal Stone bore one mad inscription scribbled into the rock by the old king himself. "The power is mine -- Napadori, master of dimensions -- to open the Seal is to open the gates of Death."

That decided the issue. It was worth going to war over this 'Chaostle'. The first to secure the doorway would control the castle, the kingdom, and -- perhaps -- power beyond their wildest dreams.

It's up to you to decide. Who will rule? Who will claim the mysterious power of the Chaostle?

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