The time when gods and goddesses were not bound or known as their current corporeal or aspect forms. It was said that before Yurie touched the universe and made order, the gods and other such beings roamed in chaos.
The primordial aspects of the world came together in a tense synchrony. Life, Death, Chaos, and the Elements manifested within known reality. Beings other than the divines began to emerge, from animals, forces of nature, or divinely inspired - all were allowed to tread upon the surface of planets. This era was beautiful and feral, the earliest of sapient creatures in tribes with limited magic use. From this time sprung forth an aspect of the Sun; a divine woman known as Surna who led the common creatures from their mud and huts into a new age of intelligence, glory, and exploration.
The Golden Age
Sentient beings walked the realm, having access to much more power than one could even imagine in current times. Destiny was no longer controlled by omniscient and omnipresent beings, but by their own creations. They could now move and evolve on their own with little to no divine intervention.
Other creatures stemming from the created species began to emerge. Elementals and Elves were born into the world on their own accord, uncontrolled by the destiny bestowed upon them. Afterwards, more began to evolve, standing from the mud, to become their own masters. Orcs, Demons, and Aquans were all said to have emerged from this group.
During this period, the world prospered, evolved, becoming its own living, breathing beacon of life. Thousands of civilizations were born and died through this epoch. Only the strongest survived, many being Dragons cultivating hordes and securing substantial amounts of power. Surna’s light shined brightly, warming the world and keeping in a constant state of growth and development. Her luminosity was so powerful that she caught the attention of other worlds. Envoy ships dotted the sky, those far and wide in the universe wanting to witness and experience Surna’s radiance.
With the first known alien contact, more species began to populate Esterin. Some traveled to the planet to visit and gawp at the marvels of the Golden Age from afar, while others attempted to view in person. Most of these visitor’s technology failed upon landing, forcing them to stay. Other species traveled to Esterin through once functioning portals created by the Divines. The most well known of these aliens are the Q’thar, crash landing on Esterin a little over 20,000 years ago. Their presence and population, once a space of chaos, is now an integral part of Iron Fall.
This was the age where many saw the creation passages to other worlds, incredibly advanced medicines and mana technologies, as well as general peace among the different civilizations. It seemed to be some sort of utopia, untouched by the potential hardship the world could endure, but it couldn’t go on forever.
The worlds in the solar system experienced an unprecedented renaissance. Although there was still conflict among the mortal species, and tensions between the divines, there was prosperity and abundance. Elseldir watched from his palace, in awe and wonder of the creatures he considered mere ants before. Among them was a glimmering divine, one different from himself and the others. Surna had sprouted from the physical world rather than the divine aspect of the other gods. A beacon of beauty and light, her intensity was matched by the fire she so effortlessly controlled. The mortal races looked to her for hope and prosperity. After centuries of watching, Elseldir finally descended to meet the woman that his creations so lovingly called “The Flame of Life.”
Their meeting, at first, did not go as planned. Surna was unimpressed by Elseldir’s poise; his divine machismo (an effective intoxicant to others) had no effect. From Surna’s strength the Asrai pledged their allegiance, while the dragons basked in the glow of her fire. Finally, one day, Surna agreed to Elseldir’s request. Their love blossomed into a torrent of life and riches into the world, and Surna’s flame grew brighter. It pushed back the edges of darkness, warmed those afraid and scared of what lay beyond the mortal plane. The flame even dared to tickle at the oldest, most sacred of aspects; Death.
Lena’s gaze was beyond the mortals, concerns only with the Eternal Balance she and Elseldir had erected eons ago. Flame licked at her dark skin, burning her to the bone, whilst the shock and pain of the sacrilegious event shocked her indigo hair white. Bitter tears stained her eyes orange and cheeks black, while the insult and injury of her broken bond with Elseldir turned the goddess’ heart to stone. Her people, the en’yre, screamed as their bodies were turned to ash, and the denizens of death and the night fled to her temples, safe havens, and even sought to enter her Embrace before their time.
The disruption of the balance between Life and Death allowed for a rip to appear in temporal reality. The creatures that gazed through hungered, bodies and limbs tearing and fighting against the small barrier that kept them and the divines separated. One thing was clear, amidst all of this, their goal was Surna and Elseldir’s light.
Lena, using the last of her strength, struck down Surna and scattered her divine being and mana across the universe. Although a temporary measure, it did enough to stay the great creatures that lay beyond the rift.
As the sun vanished from the sky, the world was consumed by the Old One’s insatiable desire to consume. The creatures surrounded the planet, filling the atmosphere with tentacles and horrible visions of their true forms. Without Surna’s light, Esterin was weak and ripe for the taking. The Old Ones, creatures of ancient power that drifted between the stars and dimensions, sought to claim the shining jewel that was Esterin for their own. Hungered for the ethereal force known as mana and divinity, the Old Ones set about trying to claim Esterin for their own.
The Old Ones sent creatures, big and small, to Esterin’s surface. Massive earthquakes, terror, and general mayhem plagued the world in those first few hours.. And, in the first few days, nearly 90% of the world’s population perished. Great cities along the coast were flooded by a creature simply known as the Beast of the Deep, millions upon millions drowning in the sudden cataclysm. Those that survived moved inland and began to fight among themselves.
Lyeria vanished from the desert, the missing Demon Imperium creating a power vacuum on Dragon’s Cradle. Brother fought brother, mother murdered child for food, and society began to break down on the most basic of levels. The few vestiges of power that remained that were not under civil war or devastated beseeched Elseldir for help. The Moon, stricken with grief for the loss of his Sun barely heard the cries of the mortals below. As Surna’s blessed children began to fade from Esterin- hunted in the first few weeks by the insane cult of Branded as well as desperate common folk - Elseldir turned to action.
“My blood shall sustain until the time when the Sun returns.” With that oath proclaimed, Elseldir opened his veins to fill Esterin with magic and the soft, gentle glow of moonlight. The chaos slowed, and the remaining great sorcerers of the world conjured their last vestiges of power. Verdisol, Lightvale, Taunhill, and many other cities grew warm- light flooding the streets and allowing plants to grow. Although still cold, the moonlight allowed for people to return to their senses, and for places of particularly condensed mana to grow bright and plentiful.
The first generation of survivors were safe. After the first few years of living in their darkened world, many fell by their own hand or into different forms of madness. Those who persisted with level heads were few and far between. As cities tried to recuperate and heal, the darkness outside of cities grew stronger, so did the desire to return the Sun to their world. Those who survived were hardened with trauma, anger, and the desire for revenge. They trained their children in new forms of magic and combat, preparing them for the inevitable, final war against the Old Ones.
The true damage of Twilight was not fully understood until Reconstruction began. Scholars estimated that nearly 70% of the world's population was lost in the first few years. Those that survived the Beast's wrath had to face resource shortages, interfighting, roaming bands of monsters, and exposure to new and harsh environments. With the sun gone from the sky, the world began to change. Some ecosystems were lost overnight, while others degraded and died over time. The Demon City of Lyeria vanished in a blink of an eye, leaving behind crystal sand dunes- assumed remnants of magic and those imperials that were not within the city walls.
The harsh realities of the world were daunting to survivors. Many focused on protecting and healing their communities. Lightvale barred itself to the outside world, protected by Orrian Entumal - now known as the Oracle and Elseldir's sword. The few dragons that survived shored up their resources, and devoted themselves to being living beacons of protection. Other cities still, such as Esmere and Dranur, experienced a massive boon of growth and population.
However, Elseldir would not allow Surna’s sacrifice to be in vain. Despite the darkness engulfing the world, the Moon offered his life blood to the mortals of Esterin. His divine ichor fused with the planet, causing great ley lines and mana lakes to spring forth, providing heat and energy to the world. The intensity of his actions forced Elseldir to retreat from the mortal realm, hiding from the wrath of Death.
Despite being hidden away until he could regain power, the Moon’s earlier sacrifice still had a drastic impact on Esterin. His blood now running through the land, brought life back into the dying world. Mana ran rampant, permeating even the simplest of lifeforms. The rise of powerful magics and the abundance of mana dealt a massive blow to the eldritch horrors feeding from the darkness.
The Old Ones were thwarted, original goal disrupted by the God of the Moon, forcing them to retreat into the Rift Lands and Dark Reaches. This is where these creatures now remain, waiting and plotting for the proper time to allow their mission to continue. Though, their power still draws people near. Worshippers of these horrors, known as the Branded, flock to be gifted with their mark. They receive gifts and wishes, but at a terrible price, losing their mind, body, and agency in the process. Their goal is to locate and capture magic uses as offerings to the Old Ones in hopes they can regain their once abundant power.
The Current Era
Year 121AT to Present
The current era is marked with a new generation of people. This generation grew entirely in the dark and cold, men and women with a sense of pride of their origins, and a grim acceptance of the present. Many have sought to change the world, to return it to the mythical tales of their parents and ancestors.
In the current era, 202 years have passed since Surna’s disappearance. The realm known as Tenebris Realm to its inhabitants teeters on the edge of total annihilation. The skies are filled with eldritch horrors, tentacles usually blocking view of the moon and stars. Much of the world has grown cold, the darkness really taking its toll on the environment. However, ley lines, mana springs, and mana lakes provide heat and light in many populated areas.
Outside of cities and settlements, a great bog settled across the land. The Frontier has no consistent or viable power source (aside from mana springs, mana lakes, or ley lines). Great beasts, monsters, and other horrors roam free, preying on the adventurers foolish enough to explore the lands. There had been few attempts to build roads connecting all of the cities, but they are found to be quickly overcome by the wilds if not maintained with diligence. More recently, a group of engineers began repairing broken railways, connecting many of the major cities to one another after receiving the approval of city leaders (Verdisol, Taunhill, Lightvale, Mistmoore, Lyeria, Dranur, and Vasillica). It has managed to half the time it takes to travel from city to city and greatly decrease the danger of doing so.
Minor outcroppings of civilization are scattered throughout the Frontier, offering bastions within the darkness for those who dare explore this unpredictable land. Many who wander out past the Frontier and enter the Dark Reaches often never return, but those who do survive are known to come back changed, their very core altered by the unstable lands. Within these unstable lands sit pockets of even more extreme environments known as the Rift Lands—a bizarre accumulation of divine magics, portals, and extremely unstable terrain. Only a handful of adventurers in history have seen these lands and lived to tell the tale.
Tenebris Realm is a world upturned—filled with everything from monstrous horrors to political intrigue to great friendships. Once a beautiful and peaceful planet is now in the grips of dark, sinister beings. It teeters towards chaos while the inhabitants of the land try to survive and achieve their goals.