The Eleven Holy Kingdoms
Contrary to what Romulo and the leaders of Solomon thought, the death of the Messiah did not end his dream. After the treason of Iscariot, the eleven remaining Apostles took control of the army and in just few hours collapsed the walls of the city, crushing all resistance. There was no mercy for those who had tortured and executed their lord. There, on the ruins of the capital, the eleven raised the tomb of the Messiah and met in what would be remembered as the first Holy Council. The Wars of the Cross were over, but now, without the figure of Abel to guide them, an uncertain future loomed ahead of them. Even so, the Apostles believed in the dream for which they had lived and fought for during a decade and it weighed strongly on their hearts, which is why they made an effort in keeping the dream alive.
The eleven began a long discussion that lasted several days; finally, they wound up exhausted and they had to rest. That night they dreamed about the Messiah, who explained to them that as of that moment his life’s work would fall into their hands. Upon awakening, they decided to divide the principalities of man into eleven parts and take the role of its leaders. Thus they would be able to carry on his destiny and maintain the stability that had cost them so much to reach. It would be the beginning of a new time known as the Era of the Holy Kingdoms. The world began to change and every man, woman and child could feel it.
Three years later, on the ruins of Solomon, the city of Archangel was founded with the purpose of being the capital of humanity, while the Apostles declared the birth of the eleven kingdoms in their respective principalities. Thus began a long period of splendor, although certainly not one free of problems. Applying the doctrinal principles of Abel, the use of the supernatural was prohibited and the borders were closed to the other races of Gaïa, with which man ceased all relationship with. Engrossed in their own matters, the other races did not give this act the importance that it deserved. On the other hand, the Apostle Thanos Shetep could not wait to make good on his objective, since his obsession to take revenge on Iscariot made him abandon his kingdom. Kushistan thus became a serious problem for the territorial unity of man, and there would always be a great tension between the Enneath people and the Holy Kingdoms of the south.
With the passage of time, years after the death of the original Apostles, the Holy Kingdoms began to distance themselves from one another, even reaching the point of generating friction among them. They finished grouping into four large blocks that had completely forgotten the objective with which they were created. In a sad irony, the grand dreams and ideals of the past could not stop the nature of the human spirit.
And it was then, at the doors of disconnection, when the world would confront its darkest hour. Soon, everything that we knew would end up sinking into terrible of madness.
Given that between the shadows of our own history, a twelfth kingdom of man had formed.
The War of God
Rah Sith, the last descendant of the Apostle Judas Iscariot, had secretly created an unknown power to all forces of the planet: the Empire of Judas. How he managed to do it without anybody noticing is still a mystery, but its power was absolute. He possessed part of the lost technology of Solomon, which gave him complete superiority over the rest of the nations. Self proclaimed Lord of the Rejected, all those that did not seem to have a place in the world rose up beside him. Wizards, summoners and a plethora of supernatural beings all joined him, united under the ideal to change Gaïa forever. Nevertheless, those were not the only forces that he had at his disposal. Thanks to his knowledge of science, Rah created a multitude of new creatures by means of supernatural genetic manipulation, new races born with the sole purpose of being his weapons, to which primeval horrors and great beasts would join them. He had an army the likes of which had never been seen; even in the War of Darkness…
However, luring the young Duk´zarist empress Ark Noah to the stronghold of Tol Rauko was his most clever strategy yet. Ark Noah was the daughter of the deceased Phometeum, and under the false promise that his technology could find a cure for her people’s racial weakness towards metal, Rah made her a prisoner so as to force the Duk´zarist to support him in the conflict.
On the 13th of September of the year 223 Rah declared war on the world, and nobody was prepared for his arrival.
The first enclave to fall was the city of Acheon, the greatest metropolis of the era. In spite of its great technological achievements and powerful defenses, the large city was reduced to little more than ashes in less than a day. Hours later the hoards of Judas spread out throughout the coasts of the Inner Sea, creating a symphony of destruction. The Holy Kingdoms, preoccupied with their minor disputes, were incapable of properly responding to the onslaught and were devastated one after another. Three separate attempts were made to gather an army that could face them, but all three of them failed. Soon, the troops of Rah changed their objectives to diversify their conquest, also attacking the nonhuman powers and the old empires with deadly effectiveness.
Realizing that Rah and his monsters represented a threat to the future of Gaïa, the Sylvain nations led by emperor Taumiel Ul Of Sylvanus, decided to join the conflict. At first, they offered their aid to the remaining Holy Kingdoms, trying to sign a temporary alliance with them, but received a full out rejection in response. In spite of everything, seeing the plight of the Duk´zarist, they understood that they too would soon be targets of the offensive and being unable to halt the advance of Rah on their own, looked for the support of the powers that had fought together in the War of Darkness. The strength of the Sylvain produced a temporary swing in the situation and the forces of Rah finally began to experience defeats. Regardless, when the Duk´zarist citadels commenced their offensive, it was abundantly clear that the power of the elvish nations would be incapable of stemming the advance of Rah. Only six months after the beginning of the War of God, the Empire of Judas had had proven beyond a doubt that they were the true rulers of Gaïa.
But, against all odds, one man rose above the rest and brought hope.
Zhorne Giovanni, the young descendent of the ancestry to Apostle Pietro, stood defiant against Rah in the conquered principalities. After a few months, what began as a simple revolt turned out to be the greatest threat for Judas’ domination. Armed with a natural talent for combat, a brilliant tactical mind and a charismatic leader, he was able to reunite the remaining forces of the Holy Kingdoms coordinating a series of fast and devastating strikes to the hoards of Rah. Even so, the absolute superiority of the forces of Judas continued to endure, which was why Zhorne made contact with the Sylvain nations and accepted the proposal offered by Taumiel. In spite of the great distance that separated them, both were able to create a true upset in the war when they combined their armies’ actions. The Empire of Judas began to lose ground and many of their forces were exterminated. When the floating Duk´zarist citadel of Ordos Xenos was destroyed, crashing into a chunk of Rah’s forces, all of Gaïa realized that the outcome of the conflict hadn’t been as final as it was first believed to be.
The Arrival of Rah and the Conclave
The bitter moment of the war, one that would mark its first point of inflection, was the Battle of Ashes, when Rah realized that his armies were backing up and left the island of Tol Rauko to confront them personally with the Conclave, his most powerful agents. the Lord of Judas and his eight companions descended onto the middle of the battlefield before a combined force of more than five million men, Sylvain and other races commanded by Taumiel. The words that he pronounced when he spoke for the first time to the world would forever be etched in history.
“You are guilty. You are responsible for your own down fall. Do you not see it? As lambs you faithfully follow the ideals of a destiny that does not belong to you. Blind and chained, you have forgotten what it even means to be human.
Ready yourselves. The world will change, although we must stain it with blood for that. The hour has arrived for the God – that arrogantly we have created in our own image and likeness – to die. With our hands we will destroy the heavens.”
Afterwards he ordered his troops to withdraw, while just he and the Conclave advanced alone towards the armies of Taumiel and the Holy Kingdoms. In just a few minutes, the nine slaughtered a third of the allied forces…
When more than a third of his armies had been destroyed, and seeing that his adversaries were like living Gods, the lord of the Sylvain nations ordered the retreat. This was a blow much harder than anyone suspected, for many began to consider Rah more like a deity than as a mere man. After that battle, the members of the Conclave split the command of all the different forces of Judas, attacking every corner of the world in unison.
Only Zhorne and his armies continued to win their battles, making him the only person who could possibly stop Rah. Recognizing how threatening the young man was for him and his objectives, the Lord of Judas ordered the eight members of the Conclave to find Zhorne and to destroy him at whatever cost.
After several confrontations that put him on the verge of dying, Zhorne would end up being intercepted by Karla Edil Sith, the adoptive daughter of Rah and member of the Conclave. Both became involved in a terribly personal foray, during which the young girl unleashed several powers against him. In the climax of the duel, Karla invoked the Dark Aeon Tawil Ay-U’mr, the Lord of the Gates, attempting to drag her antagonist towards the infinite nothing. But Keith Khaiel Sith, the Conclave leader, had been watching the fight secretly from the shadows. Keith took advantage of the situation trying to destroy both of them simultaneously, triggering a holocaust of pure destruction that did not leave a sign of either of them.
During the following months, the forces of Judas, headed by Keith and the remaining Conclave members, continued their war with deadly effectiveness. Soon they completely undid all the accomplishments that Zhorne Giovanni had achieved the year before. With a majority of the Old Continent in their power, they extended to principalities beyond the oceans, reaching first Varja and later Khalis and Lunaris, where they continued their assault. The feeble alliance that was forged against Rah began to waver as emperor Taumiel saw himself unable to do anything other than defend himself the best he could. Little by little, hope began to smother under the terrible weight of cruel reality.
Once again, the destiny of Gaïa seemed to be decided.
But there was still more blood to spill…
Terminus and the End of the World
After spending months missing when all believed him dead already, Zhorne suddenly returned to put himself at the forefront of his remaining armies. With renewed forces, he once again turned the tide of the war, reconquering the central area of the Old Continent, and even defeating several members of the Conclave. With blood, sweat and tears, he managed to arrive onto the plains of Terminus, where he gathered all the remaining forces of the alliance. Taumiel and the other leaders of Gaïa’s great kingdoms and powers congregated to his call, as well as some dragons and other ancient beasts. In front of them stood the formidable armies of Judas, the most powerful army in history. The greatest battle that the world would ever be witness to was on the verge of exploding, a battle in which everyone were certain that Rah would stand victorious.
But something happened that foiled the Lord Judas’ plans. While he prepared himself for the final confrontation, a Duk´zarist calling himself Larvae was able to infiltrate Tol Rauko’s security and reach the location where Ark Noah was being held prisoner. How he managed it is unknown, as was the frightful discovery that he found in the depths of the stronghold. There stood an immense machine created with the technology of the Lost Lodges of Solomon, a massive artifact that fed on the souls of all the victims of the war, channeling its power towards an unknown result. Hundreds of miles away, Rah sensed that somebody had breached the watertight cameras of the Tol Rauko and returned to the stronghold, hours before the battle of Terminus began. Thus, Rah and Zhorne would never get to meet face to face, and the ironic destiny continued its course in a way that even the heavens could not foresee.
When more than twenty million opponents threw themselves against each other, the fields were flooded with blood. Over the course of several days a war of epic proportions raged on, although after the first round, the superiority of the forces of Judas was already clear. Hopelessly, the armies of Zhorne still marched forward. It had been such a long time that they no longer fought for ideals, creeds or revenge.
But… What else was left to them?
However, before the end of the second day, when the end of the conflict seemed imminent, the news of Noah’s liberation reached the forces of the Duk´zarist giving way to a surprisingly turn of events. Upon discovering the reason they had been forced to participate in the war, something that was kept secret from the darklings, they withdrew from the positions they were holding until then, devastating all the forces of Judas that stood in their way. That provided the long
awaited opportunity that Zhorne and his allies needed, and the young general did not let it escape. With everything he had left, he threw himself against the broken and divided forces of Judas. At sunset of the third day, the armies of Rah were forced to retreat and wait for an opportunity to regroup, an opportunity that would never come. Without losing a second, Zhorne advanced through the uncultivated farmlands devastated by the war up to the Coast of Yearnings, where he sailed his remaining troops to the heart of the Inner Sea so that he could finally destroy the War of God at its source once and for all.
And far away, in Tol Rauko, Rah realized that everything had come to an end. The world that he wanted to save rejected the “liberation” that he offered it. Thus, being a prisoner of that bitter irony, he committed the greatest of atrocities.
If he could not save the world, then he would destroy it.
Before Zhorne could arrive at the stronghold, Rah descended into the bowels of the earth, where he started up the machine that he had been constructing. At the moment of its activation, a deluge of power without equal struck Gaïa, creating a terrible distortion that devastated the physical plane as much as the spiritual one. Today we still do not know the full consequences or the purpose of the machine, but from that moment on everything changed.
The truth is, the world ended that day.
Only we did not realize it.
The Dark Day After
Rah, being physically connected with the machine during its activation was swept from existence, which marked the end of the conflict that had sunk Gaïa into desperation for the last three years. However, with hundreds of millions dead and several civilizations extinct, nobody dared call it a victory. Two entire continents disappeared, erased by the power that the Lord of Judas had triggered in his madness; more than half of the world as we knew it ceased to exist… And those were not the only consequences that Rah’s machine had wrought. It had destroyed the very basis of supernatural essence in Gaïa, thus leading to the death of magical entities. Many of the oldest and most powerful creatures, like the dragons or titans, were forced into hibernation, while other mystical races like the Sylvain or the Daimah felt that they lacked something that was as vital to them as the air they breathed.
What little was left of Gaïa found itself in the darkest of chaos. The Holy Kingdoms and most of the nonhuman nations were no more than a vague memory, while pillagers, beasts and nameless horrors destroyed whatever got in their way. Racial hatred between the different populations had reached unfathomable levels, and the different races killed each other without the slightest provocation. In that withered, desolated world, the survivors of the holocaust asked themselves if there was any reason to continue living.
In that moment of declivity, Zhorne Giovanni, still commanding the remaining forces of the Alliance, requested the support of emperor Taumiel Ul Of Sylvanus to try and create a new order. Unfortunately, the High Lord rejected his offer and withdrew with his diminished armies to garrison what was left of the elvish nations after the disappearance of the Sylvain’s main continent of Khalis. Despite practically being alone, Zhorne tried to bring peace in times of chaos and death to all injustices within his reach. He killed off the plunderers with whom he crossed paths with, allowing those that surrendered to join his crusade. Soon, countless abandoned people followed, seeing within him the only light that still shone in an era of darkness.
When Zhorne arrived at the ruins of Archangel months later, he ordered the reconstruction of the city while he began to try and bring order to other lands. At each territory that he incorporated was granted the title of Abel and, without realizing it, he created the roots of what would become the most important empire in Gaia. During the first years, Zhorne tried to maintain an open and permissive mentality towards the supernatural, trying to designate a home within Abel for the nonhuman ethnic groups and the wizards. Unfortunately, interracial hatred and fear towards magic proved to be too deep, and many battles erupted making coexistence complicated. The situation became volatile when a group of wizards, who had proclaimed themselves the heirs of Yehudah, attacked the southern edge of Abel, while several Devas that lived in interior lands initiated a grand scale assault against Archangel. Both conflicts ended not only with large casualties, but the suspicion Zhorne most feared was confirmed: that coexistence was completely impossible. From that moment on, he expelled all the supernatural entities that he found from his lands, forcing them to withdraw under the threat of being completely exterminated. Little by little, the mystical beings began to disappear, hiding themselves from the eyes of mortals or intermingling secretly among us. Since then, man would eventually begin to forget the supernatural, considering magic and the unexplainable as a shadow of the distant past.
And ten years after the end of the war, Zhorne returned to Archangel, where he made what would be his most important decision. The 16th of September 233 years after the Messiah, the same day in which he got married, Zhorne Giovanni founded the Sacred Holy Empire of Abel.