The Ancient History of Werjen

When Greesh was newly incepted as a god and had received his ball of malleable matter, he hastily began molding. He whispered lovingly to his precious, nascent world, making sure to repeat the words exactly as he was taught. A massive power source, a coresoul, grew vibrant in the heart of the planet. He named the world Werjen.

The Maker provided enough flora and fauna to sustain life, but did not relish in adding beauty and nuance. Even though the surface was only partially crafted, he populated it with a multitude of followers. As each new follower was born, Greesh used a tiny piece of the coresoul to shape their identity and consciousness, ensuring that they worshipped him utterly. When a mortal died, Greesh ensured that their soul was escorted safely back into the coresoul. After a time, he was satisfied with the thirteen distinct peoples he had made. For three thousand long years, Greesh walked among his faithful and met every need they had. He basked in their constant praise. When he was not on patrol, he resided in a tall citadel in the heart of Resh, where virtually everyone lived.

Eventually, he became bored with Werjen and took the faith of his followers there for granted. Wanderlust consumed him as it always had, and he felt the powerful urge to leave. However, he realized that without his constant divine intervention, the interaction between the coresoul and mortal souls would fall apart. No more followers would be born, and their souls would be wasted when they died.

The Ageless Creator fell into a meditative trance for one hundred years. Finally, he adopted a solution to his quandary. He captured a barren, rust-colored planet from nearby and put it into orbit around Werjen. On the new moon, far from the reach of mortal hands, he created a rune-carved spell that would maintain the soul cycle in his absence.

Without a word to his faithful followers, he disappeared into the deepness. Those that he left behind viewed the moon, dubbed Arredov, with awe. They assumed it was Greesh’s promise to return to them one day.

However, there was one flock that spent all of their time beneath the world’s surface. The praeops cared little for the new moon and their faith in the absent creator quickly waned.

After many hundreds of lifetimes, Greesh returned to Werjen. There, he found a world ravaged by war. The Praeopi peoples had turned to worshipping their matriarchal queens instead of Greesh. The insect-like beings viewed their cousins on the surface as religious rivals. They bred in secret for two hundred years, swarmed out of their tunnels, and slaughtered all they encountered.

In horror, Greesh found that four of his beloved flocks had gone extinct and two more were in the brink of capitulation. The Maker easily destroyed the entire mutinous army, and killed all but one queen. He knew that if he were to leave again, the Ancient Praeopi War would reignite. He needed a reliable way of keeping all mortals in a state of peace while he was away. The solution had to be permanent and elegant. Unfortunately, imagination and foresight were not Greesh’s strengths.

Cognizant of his own shortcomings, he used a portion of the coresoul to create a demigod with a keen mind and the gift of prophecy. It was his hope that Eidelis, as he named her, would assist him in pacifying the world.

Eidilis suggested that the best way to enforce peace on Werjen was to create more demigods, similar to herself, who would govern and provide for all people. Greesh took her advice, even though he knew that much of the coresoul would be required and that his own vitality would be severely taxed. The resultant beings, the Herders, all possessed keen intelligences and immense physical strength.

The first five Herders, including Eidelis, were each created with a specific purpose in mind. They were called the Altrites, and they would manage the world in Greesh’s absence.

Hrul the Mighty, Lord of Sacrifice, oversaw sacrificial rituals performed in the Maker’s honor. Instead of allowing mortal souls to merge back into the coresoul, Hrul redistributed them among the Herders, providing them sustenance. Greesh blessed the Herder with control of two full flocks, the Perians and Langue. The Lord of Sacrifice relocated all those in his charge to the easternmost part of Serlista. Eventually, he grew so fond of the Langue that he changed their name to “Jans”, the Divine worth for “Faithful.

The next Altrite that Greesh created, according to Eidelis’ specifications, was Rossil. This Herder was instilled with a potent psionic gift, which he used to sniff out dissent within the minds of mortals. Additionally, he was ordered to use his telepathy to contact Greesh across the cosmos if a crisis arose on the planet. Rossil’s flock was the Vayaleese, who lived in the forests along the western coast of Serlista.

Biern, Lord of Morality, enforced Greesh’s strict code of conduct and watched over the inhabitants of Resh. When Rossil detected dissent, it was inevitably Biern who carried out the punishment. Biern’s strength and prowess in battle made him feared by all, even Eidilis. As the patron herder of Resh, Biern also tended to Greesh’s temple there and ensured that the municipal center of Werjen never swayed in its devotion.

Lainaris, called Twothorn by her followers, was the only Herder who could dip into Werjen’s coresoul to create new life. Wielding this power, Lainaris made life on the world plentiful and added nuance where Greesh had fallen woefully short. Her constant creation also ensured that there was no conflict over sustenance. She watched over the Relpinfels, the littlest beings still in existence after the Ancient Praeopi War.

The first five Herders, the Altrites, ruled their flocks benevolently and commanded their complete devotion. Greesh was pleased with them and originally insisted that five Herders were enough, but Eidelis convinced him that three more were needed to control the most pugnacious of peoples. Greesh eventually acquiesced and the Centrites were formed. The first of them, Hirloa, tended to the Drydin. Oble came next, gifted with sorcerous magic so that he could control the brute strength of the Soliks. Last was Thractis, made specifically to control the mutinous Praeopi colonies far underground. He ruled his flock with resourcefulness and ruthlessness, and Greesh was pleased to see that the insect-like flock was finally contained.

When Greesh finished creating the Centrites, he let forth a tired sigh that carried across the planet’s surface like a powerful gust of wind. All of the Herders could tell that he was far weaker than when he had first created Werjen. As a final measure, the Ancient One ordered the Centrites to take their flocks to the remote continent of Yoon, to keep them away from the peace-loving peoples of the Altrites. The Praeops, Drydins, and Soliks had no choice but to completely re-establish their civilizations on the far away continent.

Having delegated all of his godly responsibilities to the Herders, Greesh looked on Werjen with newfound admiration. He was ready to leave the world for a second time, but first he decided to conduct a small test to see if his Herders would enforce peace as Eidilis suggested. Unbeknownst to all except Rossil, who was ordered to remain silent, Greesh moved a small distance away from Werjen, into the blackness, and observed it. He did not have to wait long before the peace unraveled. Thractis, the Centrite who ruled the Praeops, began preparing for a massive assault on his neighbor Hrul.

Greesh intervened before the light skirmishes escalated into an all out war. He realized that the Herders were not enough, and that his attempt to pacify the world was an utter failure. He was weakened and angry, and he blamed Eidilis for Thractis’ dissent. Greesh tortured her and gave her a purple scar across her jaw, while the other Altrites watched powerless to stop it.

The Ancient One, Greesh, was trapped. He couldn’t afford to let his creations destroy each other, and yet he was unwilling to remain forever on the world. Even if he wanted to leave, he had exhausted himself creating the coresoul, capturing and enchanting Arredov, and making the Herders. Greesh needed help to clean up his mess, but he would not find help nearby. Swallowing his pride, he disappeared into the deepest recesses.

Almost instantaneously, he reappeared, holding a second, yet smaller, ball of malleable matter. He used the matter to create a great glowing globe in the sky. This moon was half the size of Arredov, but had a much more vibrant coresoul. The mortals on the surface of Werjen named it Arrezal. It was pure white. When he was done he had some matter left over. He absorbed the power directly from it, regaining some strength. Greesh adjusted the orbits of the moons to ensure that they would never collide.

As the next part of his plan, Greesh enchanted the new white moon with a rune-carved spell, just as he had done on the red moon. His enchantment brainwashed the Herders, not only pacifying their minds but compelling them to abhor violence. Mortals on Werjen were unaffected, but risked certain death if a Herder discovered that they had committed violence in any way. Greesh looked on the pacified Herders with great satisfaction. Considering the world safe and complete, he once more left the world for the cosmos. A long period of peace washed over the planet. The Altrites carried out their prescribed duties. All Herders protected their flocks and enforced the peace. Arredov continued to cycle the world’s coresoul into newborn mortals, and Lainaris continued to enrich the world.

After a hundred more lifetimes, without an inkling of trouble, something deep in the recesses of Herder Thractis’ mind triggered. His true nature could not be contained, even by Greesh’s enchantment. In secret, Thractis set out to disrupt the enchantment on Arrezal so that he could forever cast the spell from his mind.

He created a portal to the moon’s surface and traveled there. Once there, he found the runes that Greesh had left. Thractis knew he would never be able to decipher them. He dragged Oble to the moon and forced him to understand and destroy the runes. The Herder of Sorcery disabled the runeguard in four short days. When he was through, he warned Thractis about tampering with Arrezal’s coresoul, the source of power for the spell. Thractis ignored him and assaulted the little white moon with all his fury. Eventually, Thractis managed to bore underneath the surface and turn the power of Arrezal in on itself. The coresoul and a significant portion of the moon’s surface exploded in a spectacular burst!

The Herders, their minds now freed, were instantly embroiled in a global crisis. The remnants of the explosion wrapped around Werjen and descended menacingly toward the planet’s surface. For weeks, the Werjen sky was filled with an ominous cloudlike substance. The residue, later known as simply ‘res’, was a mixture of coresoul and dust that used to be part of Arrezal.

As the residue from the white moon fell to Werjen’s surface, the Herders warned their flocks to take cover. For most of the mortals, this was not difficult. On the continent of Yoon, the Praeops and the Drydin were already protected in their underground tunnels. After brief negotiations between the Centrite Herders Oble and Hirloa, the Soliks were allowed to take shelter in the Drydin caves.

In the central portion of the continent Serlista, the mortals flocked to Resh to inhabit the old Praeopi tunnels that still existed beneath the city. The Serls and the Relpinfels took cover with time to spare, but the Vayaleese in the westernmost part of the continent couldn’t make it in time. Their patron Herder, Rossil, for all of his gifts with telepathy, could not provide a safe haven. The res fell on them and permanently altered their appearance. Forever more they would only have thin wispy hair on their heads and big ears that flopped forward. The other flocks would derogatorily refer to them as ‘elves’. Rossil, always loyal to Greesh, was furious with Thractis for his dissention, but decided to wait and see if the Altrites could clean up the mess before he contacted Greesh.

In eastern Serlista, the Eklini and the Jans escaped to the Sea Caves of Eidelis just in time, but the Perians could find no shelter. They were caught in the open, just as the Vayaleese were. Like Rossil, Hrul was unable to protect his people from the falling clouds. Half of them perished on the plains. Within a generation, the survivors of the Perian flock had become completely hairless and noticeably smaller.

Herder Lainaris knew that many of her creations would be tainted and destroyed by the residue. She wanted to protect the world that she had painstakingly created for so long, but she had only a few short weeks as the gases descended. During this window of opportunity, she traversed the world, burying pods in the ground.

Lainaris was experienced with using coresoul to create life, and hoped that her buried seedpods would hatch when they contacted the residue. Her plan worked. The resultant creatures, elementals, wandered around absorbing the residue from flora and fauna, preserving large swaths of nature. When they had collected large amounts of residue, Lainaris herself would come gather it up. The goddess, like the other Herders, gained in power from drawing on the res and encouraged her flock to collect it. As effective as the elementals were, there were many parts of the planet, especially on Yoon, where she was not able to bury the seedpods.

After all of the res had descended, the Herders could assess its effect on Werjen. They found that vegetation left soaking in the res tended to survive, but darkened in color and failed to provide sustenance for normal life. The animals that were soaked by the res were also altered drastically, mutating into strange abominations within a few generations.

With the Arrezalian spell destroyed, Thractis immediately returned to Werjen and attacked his long standing rival, Herder Hrul. The war was brutal. Blood and soul spilled from mortals in rivers and clouds. Other Herders were drawn in. Oble the Conjurer came to the defense of Thractis, his Centrite brother, while Eidelis intervened on behalf of Hrul.

The Hrul-Thractis War culminated in the disastrous Day of Blood, 5129 BW. The Jans and Praeops decimated each other, and the Herders themselves nearly perished. The other Herders intervened and forced them into a truce.

Now that Thractis was under control, Rossil the Telepathic finally made the painful decision to secretly disclose to Greesh that his peace-forcing spell was no more. Very faintly, Greesh replied that he was on his way. From the remoteness of Greesh’s thoughts, Rossil sensed a tremendous distance. It would be a very, very long time before The Ancient One returned.

Over the next several thousand years, the Herders continued to gain in power by gathering and absorbing the res. They grew much stronger than Greesh had ever intended. The lifetimes passed one after another. Thousands of years transpired. Then, one day out of the blue, Herder Eidilis foresaw that Greesh would attempt to destroy the Herders when he saw what they had become. Furthermore, she foresaw that he intended to kill Werjen’s coresoul and render the planet a dead rock, just like Arredov. She warned the others of the Maker’s intentions.

Soon after learning their fate, the Herders ordered their followers to cease worshipping Greesh. They also agreed to an uneasy truce and began constructing stalwart defenses. The Herders prepared strongholds deep underground, beneath the land inhabited by their flocks. They established magical conduits to the surface, meant to draw power from residue and carry it down to them. Thractis’s conduits were manifested as thousands of sleek black nodes on the walls of the Veil Canyons. Hrul’s conduits were large glowing spires on the Lowland Plains.

Greesh slammed into the world with reckless abandon. In order to finish the battle quickly, the overconfident god split his essence into eight and attacked all the Herders simultaneously. He did not anticipate that they had absorbed so much of Arrezal’s coresoul, or that they would cooperate together so effectively. Again and again, Greesh attacked and was repelled by the combined might of the Herders within their lairs.

Wounded, he recombined his essence into one and fled to the surface of Arredov to recover. The Herders followed him there and fought against him for four years. During this time, the Arredovian life cycle was disrupted and no new mortals were born on Werjen. Greesh’s life began to fade. He sent distress signals out into the infinite blackness, but Rossil prevented them from reaching their target.

Finally Greesh was destroyed. His divine blood soaked Arredov and tainted the enchantment on the moon.

The Herders threw their Maker’s charred remains down onto Werjen’s surface. They intended for it to remind all mortals of their victory over a god. When the remains slammed down, they created a deep crater in the Luthzol mountains of northwestern Serlista.

As the new gods of Werjen, the Herders set out to fix the Arredovian enchantment. Even the combined efforts of Eidilis, Oble, and Lainaris could not right the spell. The moon still cycled the coresoul, but it did so irregularly. Forever after, the enchantment malfunctioned. Souls were occasionally malformed, mistakenly placed into a creatures body, or even extracted from mortals who had not yet died.