by Grant Smuts

Gehara was a kingdom that existed on the borders of Old Valharrow to the west, and the nation of Sunara to the East, before its destruction. Now it is a barren wasteland, devoid of people, blasted by a thousand magical enchantments into a land of desolation.

Gehara’s fall was both mysterious and sinister.

Many legends have persisted over the centuries as to why it was destroyed, and how. Some stated that a Four Path Mage had destroyed it, to test the limits of his powers. Some say the Hidden Academies of Gehara had turned their experiments loose on the land, unleashing plagues and monsters. Some even say that Sunara invaded and destroyed its people in an act of genocide to appease their foreign gods.

Each of these hypotheses, however, pale in comparison to a theory that is rapidly gaining ground in academic circles.

The Immortals

A curious legend persists amongst the Academy’s mages in that there are several immortal beings of extreme power extant in the world today. A few, such as Vortithiryx in the forest of Viridia, serve the role of elemental essences – greatly empowering the magic they represent. They are considered to be balancing forces in both the natural and magical world. However, there are other beings as well, some well-documented (though still relatively unknown) such as Streggan Keep’s Immured Being, and the so called Ragged Man who stalks the western hinterlands.

For those who have dared to enter Gehara, they’ve uncovered evidence of another of these immortals, who until his discovery, has remained hidden from history.

Gehara’s own mages were less attuned to scholarly pursuits as is the norm for most Academies – however their attunement to spiritual forces has not yet been matched, and it is believed that that ability is what drew Sedrafax to them. What little information has been gleaned from ruins indicates that Sedrafax is drawn to places that resonate with the Primeval Chaos, specifically the manifestation of it known as the Primal Flame. Gehara’s rulers were known as Monarchs of Fire, and it is thought that their pyromancies differed from the ordinary fire magic studied in Academies.

The Royal Flame was diverse and possessed of myriad abilites, able to cast magic such as a healing glow and flames that could persist for as long as the wielder willed it. There was also a holy and profane form of the fire, which did greater harm to fiends and fallen divine beings respectively.

The Monarch could also temporarily bestow the Royal Flame and its variations onto those he trusted. Specifically, the Royal Flame was inherited and passed from parent to child.

It was the Royal Flame that drew Sedrafax, and, in an attempt to uncover its origin, convinced the King to seek out the Primal Flame. Sedrafax himself searched the nearby lands and discovered the presence of great beasts – pseudodeities sleeping at the boundaries of Gehara. Wondering if they too had been drawn by the presence of the Primal Flame, Sedrafax attempted to destroy them, but was nearly killed himself. Choosing instead to seek out the Primal Flame himself to merge himself with the Primeval Chaos, Sedrafax went in pursuit of the king’s servants.

The King’s agents discovered the presence of a great furnace hidden in one of the fallen ruins at the edges of their land, but what they uncover frightens them – it seems that the fallen castle they walked was almost identical to the King’s own castle in the capital. The inferno they discover is not the Primal Flame but the Darkness Manifest – a black flame that covers everything in shadow.

Thinking it best to destroy the ruins, the mage among them attempts to bury the Darkness by collapsing the castle walls in on itself.

They were interrupted, however, by Sedrafax’s arrival. At the sight of the Darkness Manifest, he flies into a rage and takes on his true moth-like form and unleashes his magic on the king’s agents.

At the heart of the Darkness Manifest, an ember of the Primal Flame is seen, and Sedrafax flies into it, devoured in the depths of both the darkness and the chaos.

From those ruins then, a black fire emanated and began to devour Gehara.

The King, realising his mistake in trusting Sedrafax, sacrificed his life to create a bulwark of holy fire around his capital, passing his fire on to his daughter before he did so.

But the stirring of so much death and destruction caused the awakening of the pseudodeities at Gehara’s borders, and they slowly made their way to the source of the chaos. In their path lay the capital.

The princess, a young woman named Cendrillon, looked at the flames that was the legacy of her father, and stood in the dawn of a new day, ready to wage war against chaos itself.

To be continued