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ALPHA ARKANA

No one knows what existed in the beginning. All that is known is that what is now called the Alpha Arkana was the first spell. It was the spell of creation. It was what created the universe.

In the moments after the casting of the Alpha Arkana, the newborn universe was awash with magical energy. In these first moments of existence, the beings now called gods became. They were not born. One moment there was nothing but magical, chaotic energy. The next moment these beings existed. It is said that they numbered more than the stars in the sky or more than the grains of sand in a thousand beaches.

With existence came consciousness. With their consciousness, they sought to absorb as much of the surrounding magic that they could. Unfortunately, this brought strife. The beings, each striving to gain as much power as they could, began to war among themselves. This war no mortal can imagine. This was a war of survival, for each and every single of these beings. They died at each other's hands, the victor gaining in strength and power. There were no alliances. There were no treaties or cease-fires. The surviving beings speak of the war lasting what was for them, an eternity.

Eventually there were few left. Of the countless beings that had existed, only eleven remained. Each individual was too powerful for any other to destroy without aid, and none sought to work together. These remaining beings agreed not to end their struggle, but to change it. Instead of attempting to destroy each other, they agreed to create, and play, a game.

In creating their game, they first created the area of play. This is our world, called Selan. For the very first time, the eleven beings worked together. The creation of this world required it of them. After the creation of the world, they created the four elements: air, earth, fire, and water. To these elements they each gave a minute fraction of their beings, giving the four elements minds and wills of their own. The four elements were given free reign to shape the world as they chose. Thus were the oceans and continents formed.

With the lands and the waters created, the surviving beings next created the plants and animals of the world. One of them, in particular, played a major role in this. Even to this day, he is worshiped as the god of nature.

Finally, the ten of the eleven beings sought to create the pawns of their game. They each attempted to create their own, distinct type of creature. Some also worked with others to create more. There were many that were deemed unsuitable to use. The pecks were too weak willed and cowardly. The elves were too unreliable, due to the relatively great power and intelligence that they were given. There were many others that were created, and each had some flaw that made them "unusable" for the game. However, the supposed failures out-numbered the successes. The failures were not destroyed. The deities, as they now called themselves, decided to let their misshapen children roam free, and do as they chose. The few successes that they had are today's major races.

Finally, the deities decided upon the rules of their game. No mortal knows how the deities play their game. The deities have never told. All that is known is that the game is still in its early stages.

The deities were on the verge of beginning their game, when other beings came to them and their pawns. These beings called themselves angels and demons. They claimed to have been at war with each other longer than the deities had existed. However, despite their long conflict, neither race had ever been able to gain a lasting advantage over the other. They came to the gods both to offer and ask for assistance.

The angels came from a world that they called Elysium. They believe in justice and virtue. They do not often interfere with the mortal lives of Selan. When they do, it is considered a portent of great events, both wonderful and terrible.

The demons claim to come from a world named Gehenna. In all intents and purposes, they are the direct opposite of the angels. They believe in cruelty, and are instinctively sadistic. They enjoy coming to Selan to interfere with the lives of the mortals. This interference is never for the good.

Any person who is powerful enough can summon both angels and demons. They can also be held at bay or driven away. The gods sometimes send one on a specific mission. However, both the angel and the demon races have their own agendas, which have nothing to do with the game of the deities.

It should also be noted that the four elements, each of which was given life by the gods, have their own worlds. Each of these worlds is representative of the controlling element. Mortals of Selan can summon small pieces of the elements' beings to control. These fragments of the four major elements are commonly called elementals.

THE DEITIES OF SELAN

Each of the eleven gods has taken a name for itself, and with the name, a personality and sphere of control.

Alrothna is the goddess of knowledge. It is believed that she suffered greatly in the war of the deities, for she is always envisioned as being blind, with both hands crippled.

Khadina is worshipped as the god of death. He is not thought of as evil, because all mortal things eventually die. However, he is the least worshipped of the gods.

Kreeng is the deity of all things associated with the night and darkness, such as love and romance, as well as murder and theft.

Lilith is the only deity that is considered evil. She is worshipped as the goddess of pain, suffering, chaos, and treachery.

Loreth is the god of the natural world. He was the one who created most of the plants and animals of this world.

Marach is the goddess of oceans, seas, and weather. She is worshipped both by sea men and by farmers.

Mures is the only deity who is considered to be good. He is worshipped as the god of life and healing.

Piccor is known as the god of magic and light. It is believed that he is the most powerful of the gods, but does not use his power directly against the others.

Sullum is worshipped as the god of justice. He is also the patron god of the E'Gathin Empire.

Synnia is known as the patron goddess of craftsmen and merchants.

Toln is the god of war.

It is believed that there is a twelfth deity. This being has never made his presence known to either mortal or god. The gods can sense the power of this lost god, but cannot locate it.

THE HISTORY OF SELAN

What happened in the formative times of the world is known only in myth and legend. There are few actual facts that are known, and these are jealously guarded secrets. However, what is known is that there was once a mighty empire, jointly ruled by two of the most ancient and powerful of races: the dwarves and the elves.

The dwarves and the elves had created a vast underground empire. No one knows for sure how far it had reached, but it hypothesized that it would have covered at least a third of the surface world. Together the two races built their mighty fortresses and palaces using armies of slaves from all other races.

For thousands of years their empire grew. With it grew their egos, and their lust for even more power. The elves strove to expand their magical powers to the utmost, creating most of the spells in use today and many that have been forgotten. They worked with the fabric of creation to shape the world around them. The dwarves, on the other hand, decided to follow the road of science and technology. They invented, designed, and built colossal machines of steam, and clockwork. Their lives were rooted in the physical aspects of reality, and they strove to rebuild a world of logic. The two races began to argue which way was better. Relatively soon, within a couple of hundred years, there was a definite schism between the two races. The allies became bitter enemies.

Thus followed a war that was long by any standards. No one knows how it was fought, or what weapons were used. What is known is that each race inflicted so much damage upon the other that neither would ever become a major power in the world again. Much knowledge, magic, and technology were forever lost in their war. Eventually, the war was ended when the surviving elves were forced to the surface world, and the remaining dwarves moved deeper underground.

The elves sought to rebuild their former power. They found that the surface world was ruled by hundreds of city-states of varying sizes and abilities. The elves set about conquering some of the smaller city-states, and then signing peace treaties with the larger and more powerful ones. The elves, which live for thousands of years, made plans of betrayal and treachery that would not come to fruition for a few hundred years. This suited them, for they were a patient people.

Within a couple of thousand years, they had built for themselves a vast empire whose influence stretched over more than half of the known world. During this time, they secretly sought to destroy any bit of advanced technology, which had come so close to annihilating them. For the most part they were successful. Several times had explosive black powder been discovered, and several times had there been villages, towns, and even cities that had been reduced to dust, with not a single soul surviving.

The surface empire of the elves lasted for several elven lifetimes. During this time, they had mighty cities built all across the land. Once again slaves of all races did the actual construction. And again, the elven rulers sought to expand their knowledge of the magical world. Unfortunately, they also grew bored, and turned to cruelty and sadism to pass the time of their long existence. Thousands of slaves died at the whim of their elven masters, who would perform vile experiments upon them to satisfy their boredom.

Their cruelty became the elves' undoing. The rebellion began at a small chateau that one elf lord had had built to get away from the cities. No one knows the exact details of what happened, and the legends and myths are too numerous and varied to give any clue. What is known is that a gladiator he owned killed the elf lord. The gladiator then raised an army, and marched forth to inflict as much damage to the Elven Empire as he could before he was killed, or so he believed.

There are two reasons that the Elven Empire fell. The first, and more obvious, is due to their own internal politics. None of the elven lords thought that he or she should have to quell this latest rebellion, and they bickered and negotiated on the subject until it was almost too late. At this point, the rebel army was literally at the front gates of their capital.

The second reason for the fall of the Elven Empire is not quite so obvious to the majority of the populace of the world. There were constantly rebellions rising up against the elves. However, all of these lost momentum and were quickly destroyed within a year or two. To the elves, a race that lives for thousands of years, two years is inconsequential. The elven lords all believed that this was just another small rebellion, and was hardly worth mentioning.

The Great Rebellion, as it has been called, used the indecision and hesitation of the elven masters to their advantage. The leader, today known as Tahlin, was able to find, and convince, a great wyrm dragon to aid him. Tahlin also called upon the gods to aid him and his army, but it is said that only Sullum answered. Curiously, the records also tell of a wandering craftsman that forged Tahlin a suit of armor, a sword, and a shield, and then wandered off, never to be seen again other than in stories. Legend claims that when Tahlin had all three together, he could defeat an entire army alone. No one knows for sure, for the three items were lost upon Tahlin's death.

The Great Rebellion was fought over fifteen years. At the end of it, the last of the elf lords were either killed or scattered across the world. Tahlin returned to where the rebellion had started, and founded a city there. That city became the capital of the new empire, and was called E'Gath.

The new empire has stood for 2326 years. A human emperor rules it with his family, who claims that Tahlin was their ancestor. This claim has gone undisputed for as long as any person can remember. However, all is not well in the world. The E'Gathin Empire, as it is named, is only a fraction of the size of the old elven empire. The rest of the land has been claimed by city-states of varying sizes, or has been reclaimed by wilderness. Also, for over 1500 years, the rulers of the empire have treated only humans, motul, and goblins as citizens. All other races are considered to be below them. Racism and prejudice run rampant throughout the major cities of the empire. As yet, slavery is still outlawed, but that may change.

For now, the E'Gathin Empire is strong and mostly beneficial in nature. However, there are always problems and catastrophes that occur, and that must be dealt with. Wars must be fought, assassinations must occur or be prevented, and trade must flow to all corners of the world.


© 1999 J.K. Wykowski & T. Coonrod