The Book of the Asmodians
The History of Atreia
Read the history of this once peaceful planet and you will find a story littered with tragedy and death. Many centuries ago, the Asmodians of upper Atreia and the Elyos of lower Atreia were one people. There was neither divide nor difference between them; indeed they embraced each other as brothers. Now they are each burdened with an unrelenting and deep-rooted hatred of the other, and meet with drawn swords instead of open arms.
The events that caused this division have been transcribed below by each side, and though there are common truths in both stories, it has become apparent that both also feature mistaken beliefs and clouded waters. These misconceptions soon became folklore, then historical fact, as each side looked for someone to blame for the Cataclysm which ripped their world asunder.
Read on, and find the truth in both before you cast judgement on either.
An Introduction to the Book of Asmodians
It wasn’t always like this. At one time the two sides of this world were as one, we were united as brothers. We looked the same, we had the same ideals and we shared a common purpose: to protect the Tower of Eternity. When they failed, they destroyed everything. Our world, our people... were ripped apart.
In the lower half of this world, the soulless Elyos live out a shallow, but charmed existence tempered with greed, misplaced pride and crushing arrogance. Don’t be fooled by their saintly appearance, beneath their fair skin lurks the very insolence that tore Atreia asunder.
We, the Asmodians, call the upper half of Atreia home, though it is a home few would choose. After the Cataclysm we were thrust into darkness, into the unknown, and we had no choice other than to adapt... to survive. Each and every day our world taught us something new, opened our eyes to new possibilities and gave us the unwavering strength to rebuild our lives once again. It is through those hard earned lessons that we have achieved so much. Aion has given us the opportunity to right our wrongs, an opportunity which we must seize.
But wait, I am getting ahead of myself. First an introduction, my name is Kineas and I am a Daeva, an immortal created during the great struggle against the Balaur. I, along with my people, have done everything necessary to secure our rightful place in Atreia, and we will do anything to protect what is rightfully ours. If it is war the Elyos crave, then they shall have it crammed down their tanned throats until they can stomach no more. The time for peace is long gone. All that is left is retribution.
I have written this diary to recount the years that led to our current standing, maybe you will come to understand what caused this world of ours to change so.
Come now - read, and learn what it is to be an Asmodian!
Chapter One: Unity
I’ll first speak of the era that existed even before my time. Our stories tell tales of green lands and bountiful pastures, a world in which we could prosper and grow happy with our families. This was the era that existed even before the Elyos and Asmodians existed, when we were simply known as humans. Atreia was one. A whole. As we were one with each other, there was no divide, not between our worlds, nor between our people.
Years passed like this, and by all accounts our ancestors were content. I cannot help but feel anger at this notion, that they did not celebrate this paradise they were given, and that there was even a notion that this world was taken for granted. However, knowing what has happened since this time gives context, and perhaps it is only through the benefit of hindsight that we can understand those treasures that we once had. Perhaps even this wasteland that we now call home is a paradise compared to some other land, though I find it difficult to imagine a place more testing than this.
Things would soon change though. Little did we know the horror Aion had in store for us, as our world was about to see a great and lingering nightmare come crashing down, baring vicious teeth and an uncontrollable thirst for war.
Chapter Two: An Ungodly Creation
These nightmares I speak of, they were called the draken, and were terrifying creatures to behold. Huge and heavy, our makeshift weapons were useless against their toughened hides. Worse still, they could spread their pinions and take to the skies in a moment’s notice, rendering our meager defenses useless in a heartbeat. Soon our people learned to hide from the draken, and without a natural predator, their numbers and confidence grew in equal measure. Before long, their darkened silhouettes, created by Aion to rule our world, were a common sight in the sky.
Their desire for power was insatiable; entire species withered and died under their fury as the draken descended. They brought burning infernos with them and in their wake left little more than charred and ruined lands. Soon after the initial carnage these beasts started displaying their intelligence. After realizing the warlike tendencies of the Krall and the Mau, the draken chose not destroy them, but instead subjugated their remaining numbers, saving them only after they had sworn eternal allegiance to their new masters. It was around this time that the draken experienced something of an evolution, as some of their numbers started to grow larger, stronger and more intelligent than their peers. These creatures were called Dragons, not draken, and of their number, five took command of the rest. These five became known as the Dragon Lords.
These five, now awakened, quickly reorganized their forces and established military ranks throughout their society. They chose to rename their people "The Balaur". With their new title, these beasts attacked again with renewed vigor, decimating the few remaining groups who dared resist submission.
Still they were not satisfied, and in seeking more powerful opponents, turned their attention to the god of Atreia, Aion, and demanded the same powers that our creator wielded. When Aion refused, the Balaur, blinded with rage and driven by greed, turned on our god, and gathered their forces for an attack on the great Tower of Eternity.
Chapter Three: The Millennium War
Aion’s hand was forced, and in retaliation created twelve figures named the Empyrean Lords. These creatures possessed a beauty and strength far beyond anything we had ever seen before, and like the Balaur, could take flight through a strange and curious substance called Aether. Our faith in our god, and our devotion to Atreia had been recognized: these creatures were created in our image, and had come to save the world which so many of us had learned to call home.
The inevitable battle started, which soon turned into a long and bloody war. We had found protection around the tower, inside the Aetheric shield our Empyrean Lords had created for us. However, the shield was small, and the land outside of its boundaries stayed under the control of the Balaur. Outside of the Aetheric shield our Empyrean Lords were weakened just as the Balaur were weakened inside it, and once the Balaur realized this, they would line up innocent creatures just outside its boundary and butcher them in an attempt to lure our Lords out. They were cruel creatures, and their actions only solidified our hatred for them.
This was the time which we later came to call the Millennium War, a time in which we humans could prosper once again under the protective wings of our Empyrean Lords. This was also the time during which I was born, and by the time I had grown into a young man, I found the Aether that Aion granted this world had an adverse but drastic affect on me. The Aether responded to me, and I to it, and soon my talents were noticed by others who our people had only seen on occasion. These others, these Daeva, were human at birth, but possessed an innate ability to manipulate the Aether that was used by the Empyrean Lords. Slowly but surely I learned to master these abilities, and while at first I could only chill the air around me, within months I could freeze opponents into place, and summon balls of fire to engulf the Balaur. I found myself revered, much like a god, as those who had once held me close to their breast now placed me on a mighty pedestal. The feeling that I, the son of a simple farmer, could cause suffering to these Balaur was intoxicating - this was a blessing from Aion that I could never even hope to repay.
Soon the number of Daeva swelled enough for our Empyrean Lords to mobilize us into a fighting force. I joined the legion, and progressed quickly through the ranks, leaving my child, an infant boy named Phalaris, behind.
Chapter Four: Cowardice
I progressed further through the ranks. My skills as a sorcerer were superior to many of the other Daeva and within the year I was granted control of a full legion. The fighting was fierce, and while we were often placed in danger before the Balaur, our Empyrean Lords were always careful to protect us. Our skills and tactics improved, and eventually we were able to start killing their younger, more foolish dragons, where before we would be forced to retreat behind our Aetheric shield. These were small steps, but as every parent knows, a child must learn to walk before they can run.
Then came the day that sent us all staggering.
Lord Israphel, one of the two Guardians of the Tower of Eternity - Lord Israphel, who despised the Dragon Lords like no other – declared that we should make peace with them. The purpose of the war, he reasoned, was not to annihilate the Balaur. It was to protect Aion.
I was astonished; astonished that one of our saviors had lost his resolve so easily, astonished that his courage and fierce determination had slipped so... so suddenly. There was consternation among the Empyrean Lords at first. At that time, even the prospect of making peace was unthinkable... a travesty. It seemed we were all of one mind. Israphel’s proposal was absurd.
And yet, it was not long before the weaker Lords showed they had never truly had the stomach for the fight, and longed for the burden of honor to be lifted from them. Lady Ariel was the first to capitulate, and with honeyed words she spoke of Israphel’s wisdom, his seniority, his bravery – bravery! – in daring to propose peace. She had the audacity to tell us how we, as Daeva, should think and act.
How quickly she and her camp followers forgot the sacrifices of a thousand years. What petty value they placed upon the shed blood of so many of our kin.
But others of the Lords still had true steel in their spirits. As a Daeva I had grown to know some of our Lords, and the one with whom I worked best was a great and dignified Lord named Azphel. His resolve was always strong, and it was on his missions that we always had the most success. His manner and his ability were an inspiration to many of us; and so when Ariel’s insipid pleading began to sway some, and I saw the grimace on Azphel’s face, I knew where my own allegiance lay. He stood to speak, and we stood with him. He berated Ariel for her disdain for the honored dead, and blasted the peace initiative as a naive and misguided waste of time.
The hall erupted with fury. It still rings in my ears... the roaring, the confusion, the words of accusation and hate, as each side rallied against the other. Beyond, I saw Israphel speaking impassioned words to Siel, who listened gravely. Israphel insisted that we could defend Aion by working towards peace, rather than through constant warfare. To my horror, Siel was nodding.
To preserve some fragment of concord, all of us agreed to depart the grand hall and leave the Twelve Empyrean Lords to their discussion. I went with comrades-in-arms who knew Lord Azphel’s side to be the only just one; but others went slinking off into the night, in the company of their fellow cowards, in groups of their own. Already we were forming into separate camps, according to whether we sided with the worthy or the weak.
We waited patiently for the outcome that night. I remember it well; I recall looking across our world, seeing plumes of fire burning in the distance, and knowing there was no way that peace would ever exist between the Balaur and us. I thought back and remembered the decades of perpetual fighting, remembered those dark soulless eyes, unblinking and unrelenting as they massacred my friends and my family, for no better reason than a simple, bestial desire for domination.
I knew Siel would reject Israphel’s proposal. I knew that Azphel would argue his case, our case, and that the others, even Lady Ariel herself, would see sense and agree. I knew this; and yet when the Empyrean Lords eventually emerged, the decision that was made shook my nerves, and left me and my legion reeling. Lady Siel had succumbed. For all our protests, she and Israphel, as Guardians of the Tower, held final authority over the Twelve. The decision was final. We were to treat with the Balaur. Already I heard Ariel’s voice raised in jubilant triumph, and the sound of her four cohorts singing some inane chant of peace.
Azphel came forth, his face pure fury. As he left, I took flight after him, a significant number of my fellow Daeva in tow.
Chapter Five: The Cataclysm
So, within days, the misguided peace conference began. As a mark of respect to the five Dragon Lords, the Aetheric Field around the tower was lowered, and they were invited inside this colossal structure for the negotiations. A lifetime passed in the space of a few minutes. I looked into the eyes of my legionnaires, and saw the mistrust and anger that our convictions had been so weak as to let these beasts, which would have us kneel before them even now, treat with us. I turned to my most trusted centurion, and went to speak with him, when, as quick as a click of a finger, everything changed. There was shouting, confusion, a rout. One of the Balaur had fallen, and Lord Azphel was standing ready to fight, his eyes blazing.
The Balaur attacked. Voices screamed for Siel and Israphel to raise the Aetheric Field once again, but for the second time, they failed us. Lost in the tumult, they could not act in concert to defend the Tower. Under the Balaur’s raging claws and weapons, the Tower began to splinter and fragment.
I remember Israphel’s tortured face, wracked with guilt, as he directed Lord Azphel and all his Daeva legions to the north, while Siel marshalled Ariel and hers to the south. There was one remaining hope. Working in two groups, one at each end of the Tower, the Empyrean Lords would do all in their power to prevent the Tower’s collapse.
We held fast. Those in the South, we now know, did not.
In an instant our world was plunged into darkness as the tower’s light was snuffed out. The people turned, screaming as they
ran in all directions.
I remember that moment as though it were yesterday; I remember looking up and watching shards of the tower snapping and falling, illuminated only by the flickering light of the great structure. I remember standing there, rooted to the spot as a huge fragment splintered from the tower, and began to fall towards me. I remember that day well... it was the day I found the other gift that being a Daeva granted me: immortality.
I awoke, looked across our great world, and saw Atreia shattered into two halves. The lower half had been engulfed in a fierce and bright light, while ours had been plunged into cold, desolate darkness.
The peace conference was over.
Chapter Six: Aftermath
Slowly our eyes adjusted, and slowly we found each other. Our people were distraught, terrified: no-one knew how we had survived at all. I told the people that I could find to make camp and stay warm; I then set off towards the stump that was the base of our tower.
It was there that I found a blessing: the five Empyrean Lords who had been sent to hold Aion intact, still alive. They gathered us all together, told us that our world had changed forever, and told us why. Worse still was the cost of this attempted peace: we had lost millions, and Siel and Israphel, the two Guardians of the Tower, had sacrificed themselves so that we might live in their stead. In life they had committed a great folly, but their deaths had not been without honor, and in silence we remembered them.
I returned to our makeshift camp soon after and helped to construct a huge fire to attract other survivors. Over the next few days, thousands would come to us, battered, bruised, and distraught at the events that had transpired. I was fortunate enough to find Phalaris, my child, amongst the survivors, though no-one else that I had known from my settlement had survived.
Days passed, then weeks. It became apparent that our world, our shattered world, had stabilized, and our destiny was once again in our hands. Aion, it seemed, had departed, as had the Aether that had empowered me. For the first time in a long while, I felt vulnerable again. Not wanting to let fear take control of my wits, I spoke with Azphel, and set about plans for founding a new home for us all.
Seven hundred and fifty long years passed, and in that time I saw a great many things change. We soon ran out of firewood, though our eyes were already adapting to the encroaching darkness. Our town was built, named Pandaemonium, and soon expanded into a great city. I saw our people flourish, adapt, evolve against all odds, always under the direction of our Shedim Lords, the five Empyrean Lords who had safeguarded our half of the world that fateful day.
Our evolution took on physical characteristics too; our skin grew pale in this engulfing darkness, and the hard ground, littered with razor-sharp debris, turned our feet into claws. Our hands, too, acquired graceful talons, as if to say that none of our race would ever go unarmed again. These marks were once difficult for me to accept, but if they were necessary for our survival, and they were, then we had no choice but to carry their burden. To us, they were the price of Israphel’s attempted peace, which Ariel had been fool enough to support.
In that time I also saw Phalaris grow old and die, along with his children, and theirs. Such is the life of the Daeva.
Chapter Seven: The Abyss
One day a curious thing happened. The shards of the great tower that had plunged into our soft land started emanating light again, and then pulled themselves from the ground and into the air around us. Azphel ordered the Archon, the strongest of our Daeva, and the unit of which I was now a part, to investigate.
We left straight away, and found a portal of some description which took us to a world, somewhere between Asmodae and the lower half of Atreia, where pillars of rock floated in the air. This was a world where the Aether that I relied on for my powers was present in abundance, and I felt a sense of enormous relief upon finding my abilities still intact. I returned to Pandaemonium and told our Shedim Lords what we had seen. Azphel immediately ordered other Archon to guard this portal, and when I asked why, he did not answer, but instead simply gazed up at the sky, towards the lower half of Atreia.
Two days later, while we were planning a second expedition through the portal, we noticed our guards stationed in Morheim had not reported in to us. Zikel, one of the Shedim Lords and our god of destruction, took the remaining Archon, including myself, to investigate.
We hadn’t travelled long when we found a group of men, claiming to be from the lower half of Atreia, standing in their stead, their weapons drawn. These beings looked like angels, and though they said little, they cast judgment on us instantly. Imagine - being judged for a crime that they, not us, had committed! It was not us who had been soft-hearted cretins, welcoming the Dragon Lords into our tower during full-scale war - it was them!
Zikel’s rage was more than evident, and he threw these "Elyos" to the ground, demanding they curse Nezakan, one of the Empyrean Lords who was weak enough to call for peace with the Balaur. Time, Zikel spat, had proven which side was at fault. Would these Elyos acknowledge their Lords’ mistake, and condemn them for their foolishness?
Their leader, a man named Deltras, refused. With the pride that we now know is the taint of all the Elyos, he piously refused to blame his own Lords, cursing Zikel instead. Swords were drawn, and we charged, cutting them down like the cowards that they were. Still, some of their numbers escaped; most fled towards our home city where in their anger they butchered our women and children before we finished them. Two fled back to their homeland, bloodied but not vanquished.
Chapter Eight: A New Enemy, an Old Enemy
We returned to Pandaemonium that day, and straight away set about gathering our forces for a war against these Elyos. The very next day we met in combat again, and full-scale war broke out between our people. Soon, a further test would present itself as the Balaur, long exiled inside the abyss, found a way out from their prison. Their thirst for blood was just as insatiable as before, and with their old allies by their side again their power cannot be underestimated.
The Elyos, in seeking to remake themselves as creatures of tawdry brightness and feigned moral superiority, have only succeeded in cutting themselves off from those deep roots of history which give us Asmodians our strength. They wish to forget the past, to dismiss the blood that was shed in their names by our common ancestors, as if it was a humiliating stain.
But we Asmodians have not dishonored our past. When we found one another for the first time in that deep night, bloodied but unbroken upon the shattered shores of Asmodae, we sought for a watchword by which we might know our own... for we had not yet taken on our new forms, and there were many strange faces there in the firelight.
’Blood for blood’, came a whisper from out of the darkness, and to this day we know not who may have said it... some say Azphel, some Zikel, and some claim Aion itself, blessing us with its dying breath, spoke to us so. But when the next day dawned, pale and grim, those words were on the lips of all, and none cared what their source may have been.
Blood must be shed, to avenge those who shed their blood for us. And those of us who are of the blood – the loyal ones, the righteous ones who clung together in the long, long nights thereafter – shall stand by and support one another. The whisper has echoed down the centuries, passed from mothers to sons, fathers to daughters, captains to soldiers, kin to kin. Like our blood itself, it warms us and braces us for the fight.
And now we have discovered that which has given our mission a true sense of urgency. With every passing breath, our planet haemorrhages Aether out of our atmosphere. We spent many months searching for the source of this bleed, searching throughout the Abyss, and Asmodae, when it was right in front of us.
It’s the two towers. A mighty resonance still exists between them, vibrating invisibly between the two halves of our sundered world. As if in memory of the lost Tower of Eternity, they cry out to each other across the void, and it is this reverberation that has created the Abyss.
The Abyss absorbs Aether, draining it away like water pouring into a crevasse. Now the Aether is spread thinner and thinner with each passing day, and will soon start affecting our Daeva, and our planet. Atreia is still only held together by the Aetheric ties Siel and Israphel created when they drained their own ethereal bodies of Aether, a process which effectively ended their own lives. Soon the Abyss will start to weaken these ties, and if they were to break, our atmosphere would collapse, and everyone on this planet will perish.
There remains one viable tactic. The resonance cannot continue if only one stump of the tower survives. Our path is clear: we must destroy the Tower of Light. Only then will we end this bleed and safeguard the lives of the Asmodian people from the arrogant tyranny the Elyos threaten us with.
We will not hesitate this time. There will be no staying of our blades, only a brutal and irresistible wave of destruction that will finally rid our home of the arrogant and naïve fools which still infest our lands.
Our fate is once again in our own hands. Blood for blood, our watchword, stands as true as it is ever did, and with steeled Asmodians either side of me, we will not stop, and we will not falter. This time, we will not fail.
- Kineas, Praefectus Castrorum of the Asmodian Archon
And so we reach the present day, when children on both sides are being readied for battle, and when their mettle is tested for the first time in centuries. The Shedim Lords and Seraphim Lords have seen skirmishes slip into full-scale war, and the Balaur, once banished to the abyss during the Cataclysm, have awoken to wreak havoc once more. New mutations, the Naga and the Draconute, have arisen from the Balaur ranks.
In the gentle light of an eternal summer, the five Seraphim Lords who once called for peace are mobilizing their people for war. The Elyos fight in the name of pride, nobility, and justice, the same humane qualities that prompted Lady Ariel and her allies to seize upon the tenuous prospect of peace, long ago. The Daeva of the Elyos see themselves as all that is best in humanity, exalted and empowered. If Atreia is ever to be healed, the frenzied Asmodians must be destroyed, their menace ended forever.
Across unimaginable gulfs of space, far to the north in a land of shadows, the Shedim Lords prepare to rend the flesh of Elyos and Balaur alike. Shaped by their environment into rugged survivors and yet fiercely loyal to kin and comrade, the Asmodians have no time for peace, tolerance or second chances. Peace will only come when every enemy lies dead. They are unwilling either to forgive or to forget and have sworn to bring a furious revenge down those whose ’weakness’ they believe caused the destruction of the Tower of Eternity.
The faction with which you choose to side will have severe ramifications for the people of Atreia. The addition of even one more shining protector or dark avenger may decide the war’s eventual outcome.
A world hangs in the balance. Choose your allegiance carefully.
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