The History of Scarn part 1: from the creation of the world to the return of the gods

For each of the titans, there has been an epoch. It is not known how long each of these epochs lasted, whether years, centuries or millennia. Many novices make the mistake of believing that each great titan was born at the start of the epoch named for them. This is incorrect. An epoch is simply the time when one titan held sway over the Cycle, its nature steering and shaping our world. Though our knowledge of the titans has always been incomplete, we know they have always been, without beginning or end.

Only scraps of written history exist from the earliest epochs. While powerful civilizations certainly existed in the distant past, upheavals within and between epochs destroyed them, leaving behind only mysterious ruins. What is known about the first days of Scarn has been unearthed in these ruins, recorded from the vast memories of the Incarnates, or handed down by various higher powers who know of such things.

The Time Before

In the Time Before, it’s said that all the world was covered by water. Nothing moved on Scarn, or the two moons in its sky, except certain vague and unformed spirits, not yet bound to any purpose. The greatest of these would become the beings we call “titans.” They had stronger desires than their fellows, and one by one they made those desires manifest and shaped all Scarn through their wills.

There are a few other vague stories told in some parts of Scarn about this time, too.

In one story, the Far Moon (or the Nameless Orb, as most of Scarn calls it) grew wrathful and attacked first his sister moon (K’Datu, today called Belsameth’s Moon), then all of Scarn. When the spirits of Scarn (who are called ushada by the tribes of Termana who tell this tale) saw the Sun begin to gutter and dim, they were afraid and angry at the Far Moon. All of the ushada powerful enough to do so fell upon the moon, tearing out his life and consuming him instead. In this story, while these ushada grew more powerful as a result, the taste of the Far Moon poisoned them as well, planting in them the seeds of his own madness. Thus, the story says, the titans were born.

Scholars also speculate that the uthriach, the elder beings who created the slarecians, came to Scarn during the Time Before—perhaps even earlier than that. The uthriach are secretive, inscrutable, and deadly enemies to any who do not serve them—god, titan, or mortal. However, we have gleaned enough from their records down through the ages to know a little of their history. They were travelers among worlds from somewhere impossibly far away, beyond even the bounds of the elemental planes. Something drew them to Scarn—perhaps the battle between the Far Moon and the ushada, perhaps something else. Either way, some “obstacle,” the nature of which they do not describe, trapped them on Scarn in the aftermath. They slept deep beneath the sea bed for untold ages before awakening and unleashing their slarecian minions on the world.  

The Epoch of Kadum

The first titan to walk the world-ocean that was Scarn was Kadum, whose footsteps shake the sky and whose very words are earthquakes. He gouged great trenches in the floor of the ocean and raised vast continents out of the waves. He shaped all the land of Scarn, carving its face from the bare and elemental rock. At his touch, mountains rose, at his words stone crumbled into sand and soil, and into his footsteps water ran to form lakes.

Yet as is ever the way among the primal forces that are the titans, another came to see what his brother had crafted and sought to improve it. Thus ended the Epoch of Kadum.

The Epoch of Gormoth

Upon the pristine glory of Kadum’s creation, Gormoth brought forth plants and animals, which soon grew prolific and populated the face of Scarn.

It was at this time too that the first druids appeared—or those who would later become known as druids. These earliest channelers of titanic power arose before the time of humans or elves, among the most ancient and mysterious of races. The power these first druids wielded was that of Gormoth over life itself: they could create and shape life, although on a much smaller scale than the titan himself.

The other titans tried to mimic Gormoth. They crafter servitor races and spawned creatures, but none were the equal of Gormoth’s myriad creations. Finally, in a fit of envy and pique, Mormo poisoned Gormoth, infesting his flesh with noxious worms she found deep underground in the caverns of the Uthriach. Gormoth bellowed and clawed at his body, but the worms burrowed too far inside him, chewing and tearing and tunneling and breeding. Then the other titans plundered his secrets, leaving the Lifegiver to writhe and twist.

Thus ended the Epoch of Gormoth.

The Epoch of Golthain

As the titans turned away from Gormoth to crafting their own myriad beings, one of them made a discovery. Golthain discovered that some of these beings were more than mere playthings, but rather had feelings, sensations, and thoughts nearly equal to those of a titan. Indeed, in some cases, they had more, for many of the titans were unable to understand impulses beyond themselves. The titans are primal and elemental beings, as the storm and the earthquake, which have no thought for others.

Golthain, however, discovered within himself a desire to nurture those races, to discover what those races might do and feel if allowed to prosper. In secret, Golthain often gathered up those races cast aside by his brethren and gifted them with sanctuary and safety enough to allow them to begin prospering on their own. It is said that Golthain was also responsible for creating souls at this time.

The ancient druids discovered that their powers had changed from those of their earlier brethren. Now instead of creating new life they could inhabit lesser creature’s bodies, read their minds, and experience life as they did. Also at this time the first humans and elves appeared, although it is still unclear exactly which of the titans created them.

In time, Golthain came foolishly to favor the mortal races over his own brethren and sought to defy the Great Creators. He was punished for his affront by the other titans, who deprived him of his senses and nearly destroyed his own children.

Thus ended the Epoch of Golthain.

The Epoch of Golthagga

With the end of Golthain’s Epoch, change came upon the races. Much of this change was wrought upon the Great Forge of Golthagga. Rather than fashion creatures and beings from raw dross as did his titan brethren, Golthagga preferred to take what existed already and change it, forging it into a creature stronger than what it already was. So did many of the strange variety of creatures come to exist on Scarn.

More importantly from the standpoint of mortals was the discovery of smithing and forging by the intelligent races. It is said that the dwarves, who served Golthagga in his forges, watched the Great Forger closely, stealing some of his secrets for their own use. Though the secrets of Greater Craft–the forging of the bodies of creatures–remained beyond them, they did steal the mysteries of the Lesser Craft, that of metalworking. The ancient druids of this time now commanded inert elements: metal, wood, and rock.

In time, the secrets spread beyond the dwarven peoples to humans and other races, who learned to craft implements of war and prosperity both, including the plows that allowed them to break even strong earth to make it prosperous for them. Eventually, however, this new found prosperity lured plagues of locusts and other insects, while disease spread through the civilizations of mortals.

Thus ended the Epoch of Golthagga.

The Epoch of Chern

With the coming of The Plague of Centuries, so began the Epoch of Chern. It is said that the diseases began by the contagion-swarms of the mighty Chern swept the land many times over. Only the very strongest survived and even they were horribly scarred and mutilated by the ravages of disease and hunger, for the insects consumed the crops and food plants of the lands.

We do not know how long this lasted, save that it was perhaps only because of Chern’s own druids that humanity survived at all. Among them walked the first druids of the mortal races, humans, elves, and dwarves. The powers of the druids in this age granted them great power over disease and illness, as well as over the swarms of insects. Though there was death because of these things, all was not lost. Small pockets of surviving mortals learned to cultivate plants that the insects would not touch and survived the ravages of illness, though they bore the marks of the plagues upon their faces and bodies.

As this age came to a close, the verdant moon was stripped of vegetation and life. Chern’s brother Gaurak at last turned his attention away from the moon to the whole of Scarn itself.

Thus ended the Epoch of Chern.

The Epoch of Gaurak

Where the Epoch of Chern greatly decimated the ancient world, we believe that the arrival of Gaurak destroyed it utterly. Those few who were spared survived by retreating beneath the earth where Gaurak would only send minions and servitors such as the vengaurak, mutated by the Glutton from Chern’s own consuming insects. Druids of this time could create food and water and shape and mold insects, which aided those beneath the earth to survive.

This epoch left the surface of the planet barren and dry. Great dust storms brewed, for there was no plant life to hold the soil to the ground, and massive sheets of sandy soil rose to trap the sun’s heat. Waters poured over the ground from rains, for there were no plants to soak up that water, which ran in rivulets and formed marshy earth. Then, one day, as the heat beat down upon the muddy earth, the keening of the winds stopped. The only sound that filled the air was the dry rasp of serpent scales, as thousands of serpents left their subterranean homes and heralded the coming of Mormo.

Thus ended the Epoch of Gaurak.

The Epoch of Mormo

The barrenness of Scarn was an affront to Mormo, who, like Denev, is a Mother titaness. So she licked the ground with her forked tongue and it was dry. She sprayed the muck from the ground into the air and created cooling mists. She cut her flesh and bled upon the earth, which was quickened with coiling, serpentine vines and creeping life. Gaurak returned and tried to consume the new life of Scarn, yet Mormo was wise and had created the new life to be beautiful but poisonous.

Humans and other races returned to the surface, led by the Mother of Serpent’s druid-hags. These druids had control over snakes and poisons. The world was humid, but it was life-giving heat and moisture. Soon, the races learned what plants and animals were safe to eat and how to overcome some of the toxicity of those that were not.

In time, however, the cooler mists rose and exchanged place with the powerful, hot winds that were the remnants of the Epoch of Gaurak in the skies far above. These clouds roiled and raged, unleashing lightning, and into the new chaos came Lethene.

Thus ended the Epoch of Mormo.

The Epoch of Lethene

Though Scarn was covered with clouds and mists during the two previous Epochs, sunlight would always barely pierce the gloom. Not so during the Epoch of Lethene. Dark, pitch-black clouds formed above, and Mormo’s swamps and moors were flooded with rain. The air turned cold and bitter, and those races that would survive learned to seek shelter high above the recurring floods. The druids of this time could summon rain, lightning, and thunder, but this only added to the constant storms. Occasionally the clouds would part and the sunlight would break through, but then the swirling storms would gather again and drown out the light.

After an untold time of this activity, the world simply turned colder. The waters froze and the winds howled. Though the storms of Lethene broke apart, still winds blew and the world was made icy. Thus ended the Epoch of Lethene.

The Epoch of Gulaben

The Epoch of Gulaben was a great ice age that settled upon the lands of Scarn. Ice covered the reaches of the north. The ground froze solid even in those places that had never seen snow. Many creatures retreated once more into the depths of the earth, seeking the warmth that lay at the earth’s core. It is said that great civilizations and empires beneath the ground were created and thrived during this time.

For many years, nothing but the hardiest of creatures dwelled on the icy surface. Yet into the snowy expanses came the tall and well favored pale warriors and sorceresses who became known as the folk of Albadia. They saw the icy white expanses not as a place of death, but rather as a place to test their own strength. The druids among them could control the ice and cold as well.

As happens all too often, though, civilization was never content to leave well enough alone. In their continual exploration of their new subterranean homes, the races delved ever deeper into the very rock of the planet. Their foolishness disturbed the Father at the Core, the titan Thulkas.

Thus ended the Epoch of Gulaben.

The Epoch of Thulkas

In his anger, Thulkas rose from his cradle of magma, bringing with him creatures of flame and heat. With gouts of lava he destroyed those civilizations that dared too near his sacred demesnes, and mortals were forced to flee to the surface.

The ground cracked with the force of Thulkas’ anger and gouts of heat rose, melting off the ice. For years, steam covered the lands, and mortals were trapped between the raging powers of Gulaben and Thulkas. In the end, however, the ice melted and life returned to the earth, only to be consumed by fire and molten rock.

With time, the anger of Thulkas cooled and mortals looked about them. They found that the communal skills they had learned during the mighty ice age served them well during this new, warmer period, and their civilizations grew. The Epoch of Thulkas saw the rise of the mighty El’Thamian Empire, which stretched the length and breadth of the continent of Ghelspad. This Empire was guided by its pyromancer-druids and the Adepts of the Inferno, all of whom knew that their power lay in Thulkas’ own fiery nature.

As is the way of such things, though, a mighty civilization drew the attention of those who consider such an accomplishment to be a challenge. In this case, it was the titan Hrinruuk, who wondered how strong this civilization was and how long it might be before it was reduced to predation and barbarism once more.

The Lord of the Hunt unleashed hordes of predatory monsters and barbarians, including those from Albadia, against the El’Thamian Empire. Time and again, the forces of the Empire fought back the attackers, though always with losses. Hrinruuk merely crafted more servitors to continue the attacks. The outposts of the Empire slowly fell and descended into savagery in an attempt to survive. The Empire steadily shrank until its capital was destroyed by a mighty horde of Albadian barbarians and their sorceresses.

Thus ended the Epoch of Thulkas

The Epoch of Hrinruuk

Savagery descended upon all of Scarn as Hrinruuk took a greater interest in his experiment. Having shattered the mightiest empire, he seemed bent upon preventing the formation of civilization ever again. He instilled murderous bloodlust in some beasts and crafted yet others as cold-blooded, efficient hunters. Their druid allies held dominion over the wild things, using plants and animals to serve and protect them. Even the dwarves, whose vast mountain citadels had often spared them the worst ravages of epochs past, did not go untouched.

As seems to be the way with mortal races, in time they found a way to combat this active warfare upon civilization itself. Perhaps they turned out to be more innovative than Hrinruuk could have anticipated. Perhaps even those mortals who aided Hrinruuk grew weary of the constant predation. Or, likeliest of all, perhaps the Lord of the Hunt grew tired of his game and turned his attention elsewhere. In any event, mortals began to concentrate on mastering the thing that allowed them to fight effectively for their survival, the powers of arcane magic.

Thus ended the Epoch of Hrinruuk.

The Epoch of Hrinruuk was followed by the Epoch of Mesos. However, some very important events took place prior to the Epoch of Mesos that should be mentioned first.

The Creation of the Gods

It is unclear during which Epoch the titans decided to create the various gods. Perhaps it was across many. (Evidence regarding the history of Asherak suggests to me that this would have taken place during the Epoch of Hrinruuk. This would also have been after Thulkas walked the surface of Scarn. However it may have been at any time after the Epoch of Golthain and before that of Mesos). It was not until during the Epoch of Mesos that most mortals became aware of them.

At some point, after the titans had finished creating mortal life on Scarn, after much of their petty bickering between each other, and after many of them had become bored of toying with their creations, they sought a new diversion. Chern the Scourge, Lethene the Storm Dame, and Thulkas the Iron Lord, were the first among the titans who desired more. Coming together, they found they shared an affinity for destruction and a craving to express their destructiveness in novel ways. The three titans mingled their essence above the topmost peak of the Skypillar Mountains of Asherak, the Peak of Nammul. This brought forth a new being who at once identified himself as Vangal. Filled with rage and a thirst for destruction, Vangal was not a titan but he was much like one. Strong, passionate and suffused with power, this being seemed to be precisely what Chern, Lethene, and Thulkas had sought.

Their “child” Vangal was strong willed and independent-minded and had no wish to serve the titans. So unexpected was this aspect of his character that the titans rejoiced. At last they had found something to alleviate the tedium of their existence. They quickly occupied themselves with teaching Vangal a lesson in power, battering him into submission until at last he called them his masters. Yet within the deep recesses of his heart, he seethed after revenge against his cruel parents.

The other titans took notice of Vangal and were filled with envy. They too wished to have such children. In short order other groups of titans came to Nammul to give birth to the gods. Kadum, jealous of Thulkas, mated with the earth mother Denev, siring Corean the Champion. Lethene and Gulaben, the chaotic titanesses, came together to produce Enkili the Jester. Mormo the snake mother and Gormoth the Writhing Lord (had he finally forgiven her for poisoning him eons before?) made Chardun, who became their plaything and the object of sadistic torment to test the limits of divine power and endurance. Mormo also joined with Mesos to create twin daughters, Madriel the angel and Belsameth the slayer, and then later to create twin sons who eventually became the gods of the elves, Nalthalos and another who, though his name is lost, is honored for his sacrifice. Hrinruuk and Denev gave birth to Tanil the huntress. And gentle Golthain and the earth mother Denev created Hedrada the judge.

The Creation of the Demigods and Others

Denev and Mesos also gave birth to the race of Djinn, beings of incredible elemental power who came to rule the elemental planes. While near-divine in power, the Djinn never sought worshipers (choosing to remain instead on the elemental planes) and thus never achieved godhood.

Other gods were also born from the mating of titans with gods, or gods with each other. These gods typically hold the status of demi-god. Included among these are: Drendari, Mistress of Shadows, the daughter of Enkili and Belsameth, who was disguised as a siren; Goran, god of the Dwarves, who was a dwarven champion that Corean elevated to godhood; Hwyrdd, god of the Halflings, born of Denev and Enkili; Idra, goddess of sex and fertility, who was created when the titan Hrinruuk raped his own daughter Tanil; Mormo and a prince of the water Djinn gave birth to Manawe, who later became goddess of the sea.

Two of the demi-gods however, are not progeny of the titans or gods, but came to be through other means. The first is Nemorga, and his various aspects. He is the god of death, and appeared on Scarn when the first being with a soul died. Now worshipped as a god, he has spawned many other aspects, most of whom are worshipped on the continent of Asherak.

The second is Erias, god of dreams. Some believe that he is the progeny of Mesos, when disguised as a black swan, and the goddess Belsameth. However, Belsameth denies this claiming that while she has certainly done her share of depraved acts, she never dallied with a swan. There is also evidence to suggest that Erias existed long before the coming of the gods. Erias’ history remains a mystery, although others claim that there is a connection between him and the creature known as The Jack of Tears.

The Gods Leave Scarn

The gods cared not for the maltreatment dealt to them by their parents/masters, but they lacked the ability to strike back with any potency. Through powerful, for the blood of the titans flowed in them, they were not capable of standing before the might of their parents. Even destructive Vangal was but a mere novice in the arts of power compared to his sires. Yet, the gods dearly wished to be free of the torment inflicted upon them by the titans and sought ways to remove themselves from their thrall.

It was Hedrada who found the way. He who is the wisest among the gods looked to the Places Beyond the World and found them malleable to his will. He learned to fill those places with portions of his power, reshaping it according to his wishes and creating a sanctuary away from the titans’ grasp. Hedrada shared this knowledge with his brothers, sisters, and cousins; and so it was that the gods took solace in the Places Beyond the World, and each found refuge there.

Alas, even Great Hedrada was once naïve in the ways of the Outer Places. As the gods placed more and more of their power into these great places of hiding, they found themselves inexorably drawn to their own sanctuaries. In time, the gods found themselves pulled outside Scarn and trapped in the very places that they had created. Though not prisons, for each was shaped in its maker’s image and suffused with their own power, these places – the Planes – nevertheless barred the gods from reentering Scarn. The doors the gods had opened had become but one way, and it seemed they could never return.

The Tale of the Elf God

Not all the gods chose refuge in the Places Beyond the World. Some hid themselves and their natures among the lesser races. One of these was the god who later became the god of the elves.

We can no longer remember his name. We can no longer remember his face. But we still remember of the day he came to us, and what he has done for us since. We speak of him now as That Which Abides.

One day, a humbly dressed scribe walked into the central library of the Elven Citadel, seeking employment. He was granted a junior post and set to work. Over the next twenty years he would rise through the ranks, until he was acclaimed by his peers to the high council of the elves, the Council of Archons. This was 16,761 years before the founding of the Ledean Empire. What he said during his introductory speech would change the elves forever.

“It was my intention to say goodbye this day, indeed it was my intention to say goodbye many times before. However, each time there was something that brought me back, and now that I see you here before me, I know I will never be able to leave. It is only fair then that you know who I am, what I am, and in what manner I hope to thank you for the love I have been allowed to know.”

When the scribe-who-became-archon addressed the Council, it was one of the greatest assemblies in history. The delegates expected a simple speech from their newest member, who was known for his industrious zeal and modest ways. Once can only speculate at their surprise when the scribe revealed himself to be a god.

He told the assembly about the gods and of their reliance on love and worship. He revealed their link to the mortal races and how they empathized with their plight in the face of the careless titans. He told them of his journeys in the guise of a common elf and how over the years he had come to love the elven race. He told them at last of how he did not expect nor require that any of the assembly believe a word he said. He asked instead that he be allowed to prove himself, not as a god, but as one of their own. He would serve his term as archon, and if at the time of his term’s conclusion the elves found him worthy, he would become their god, devoted to them in every way.

Some were skeptics, of course, and some even called for his expulsion. Yet, in the end the assembly allowed for him to stay, and over the next fifty years he did not disappoint. Even the most ardent cynic came to love this young god. So it was that That Which Abides became the god of the elves, and the elves became the first of the divine races.

The Epoch of Mesos

The Epoch of the Six-Armed One was marked with an increase in learning in the arcane arts. Nearly all races found a renewed focus in the arcane arts that allowed them to achieve heretofore unseen power in the world. Though the arcane arts had certainly existed in the past, they rested mainly in the hands of the sorcerers, who received their blessings from the titanic blood in their veins and used their power to the glory of the titans. Now, however, sorcerers turned their attention toward aiding their peoples – or seizing as much power as they could hold.

The shift in the attitudes of sorcerers was not the true hallmark of the Epoch of Mesos, however. Rather, it was the rise of wizardly magic. Until now, rare had been those who actively studied the powers of arcane energy without the inborn ability to wield it. Those who did were often looked upon as would-be usurpers of the rights of sorcerers, consorters with Slarecians, or something equally dire.

At the end of the Epoch of Hrinruuk, though, the demand for magical might was great, for it was the thing that allowed civilizations to survive and prosper. Many races discovered that there had seemingly always been a hidden magical tradition among their peoples and began to nurture it. From the rune wizards of the dwarves and Ukrudan Enclaves, to the necromancers of the Termanan dwarves, to the genie-binders of the southern coast, these wizards studied the arts arcane, mastering secrets with an ease that even sorcerers could never hope to emulate. During this time the druids appeared to all but vanish, or were they simply mistaken for sorcerers? And so it was that many great empires rose, riding the might of their arcane spellcasters.

Wizards Discover the Gods

Perhaps the greatest irony of the Epoch of Mesos was that arcane magic allowed mortal kind to discover the gods. When mortal magic reached the level of power that allowed spellcasters to plumb the depths of the planes, they discovered a body of entities willing to answer questions and render assistance. Moreover, these entities, the children of the titans, did not require great sacrifices or souls. They asked for only one thing: the worship that the titans spurned.

The worship of the gods did not spring fully formed from the small band of followers who braved persecution to serve their divine masters. It took many centuries before those original furtive meetings, held in magical academies and the homes of converts, became what could, by any stretch of the imagination, be termed “churches”. In the early days, the worship of the gods was little more than scattered cults without a large membership or a coherent doctrine.

Yet those early god-cultists were afire with the power of the divine. They learned to wield strange new magic that no one on Scarn had ever seen. And their direct contact with the gods gave them knowledge of secrets that no one else knew. This was indeed one of the causes for the god-cults’ rapid growth: closeness to the divine gave unique benefits that had never before been experienced. Unlike the titans, who were dispassionate and uncaring, the gods took an interest in their followers and shared with them a portion of their power. The gods cared for mortal beings for their own sake. Little wonder then that those early cultists considered themselves special and would do anything to protect and expand their newfound faith.

Expand it they did. In just a few generations the worship of the divine grew from instances of isolated heresy into an all-out threat to the established order. This was another early advantage of the god-cults. They grew incredibly quickly – like weeds, detractors would say. The titans were eternal. Nothing mortals could say or do would affect them or their power. Unlike the titans, the gods were strangely malleable and gained power every time a mortal offered them worship. The gods added the worship of mortals to their own strength – which they in turn shared with the followers who worshipped them. This symbiotic relationship brought about a closeness of god to mortal that had never existed with the titans. But there were other metaphysical considerations as well, such as god-worshippers’ denial of reincarnation, a central tenet of druidic teaching. It is little wonder then, that the druids and their allies considered the god-cults so dangerous.

Eventually, as a result of their powers amplified through worship, the power of the gods became such that they regained the ability to manifest themselves upon the face of Scarn.

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