War of the Worldwound
Grozen (April) 13, 4751.
You awaken to a soft, insistent ringing that reverberates through your head, strange fey notes that leave you feeling an odd mixture of unease and soothing comfort. For a moment you are disoriented, dreams of a spiraling flame and endless, hollow infinity slowly fading as you wipe the sweat from your face, twisting in your sheets until remembering where you are. The eerie chimes linger, a familiar noise which has greeted each dawn for as long as you can recall. For the last year it has been serving as your wake-up call as you finish your final year at Magitek University.
Instantly, you are fully awake, the smoldering anticipation that had made sleep so hard to embrace the night before now igniting with the prospect of the day ahead. Leaping out of bed, you gather your things in a rush, catching a glimpse of the now-familiar floating fortress hovering over the center of the city from the view out your window, dark shapes swooping to and from some of the city’s taller buildings in the distance. The dormitory is quickly coming alive, and you hustle your way down the hall, passing faces that have grown as familiar in the last year as the eldritch wind-chimes that hang atop the Azure Tower. Despite the fair breezes that come down off of the Rostlandic plains to the north, the eerie notes are only heard at dawn, midday and dusk.
If only for today, you are eager to be among the first in the Marshalling Yard to get a prime view of the events to come. You hasten to the fountain chamber, barely allowing the small sphere of intelligent flame to warm up the crystal-clear water that pours out of the glowing, rune-inscribed pitcher.. In the lower levels, aqueducts channel water into the necessary locations, but as a member of the High Class, your room lies over a hundred feet above the ground. The plush accommodations and private library are some of the perks of being an advanced student at Arcadia’s most renowned educational institution, Magitek University of Higher Learning.
So renowned, in fact, that several of the surrounding nations are well-represented among the student population. Count Chezaray Malvadoza smirks at you as he cuts in line, wearing nothing but a towel and drawing the eyes of several of your classmates along with a few grumbles. One pair of eyes make a point of not following the Taldan swordsman; Scyliea, an intimidatingly tall blonde, strides towards the stairwell. Half-clothed at best, the Numerian wouldn’t be putting on a sitch more despite the chill, much to the visual pleasure and unrequiting temptation of half the male population of the city. An annoyed-looking Sonja catches you staring at the departing figure, and the fiery-haired warrior shakes her head, revealing a small pair of curled black horns.
Throwing the curtains fully back, you watch the pink and gold halo of light emerge from the east, rising from behind the unseen mountains that mark Arcadia’s near-border with Ioborea. Several large domes of crystal shimmer in the early light. A sprawling city lies beneath you, white-stone avenues that crisscross vast districts filled with buildings both imposing and beautiful. The surprisingly ordered layout is contained by a massive curtain wall sprouting the iconic black spires that serve as defensive towers. Even now, tiny shapes can be seen moving along the walls and at the towers’ pinnacles, guarding the city against a danger that could never come.
It’s hard not to feel superior, viewing the city from such a height. Not superior to the people below—you’ve seen firsthand some of the incredible things the citizenry of your country have to offer, and a more than passing acquaintance has left you feeling suitably awed in the presence of some of the nation’s greatest heroes.
It was a year ago that you ended your six months of study abroad, and you were forced to endure the realities of most city-dwellers: squalor, crime and the stench of human waste and death. [What nation did your character spend time in? See Below]
Callisto, in contrast, sparkles under the sun, its canals unclogged by discarded refuse and human waste. You see Liliana standing at the carpet lift, and decide ten flights of stairs will do just fine, steering clear of her petulant complaints to the monstrous creature that stands at her side. Its face, masked by an iron helm, still conveys a look of long-suffering patience as you pass by, shaking off the feeling of unease that seems to radiate from the platinum blonde spellweaver’s companion.
Located in one of the six towers at the corner of the hexagonal grounds, you swiftly make your way out into the city, emerging from the protective walls and joining a long queue to get into the coliseum, a monolithic stone oval just across the street. The Parade Grounds was once merely an open square of field, but the swelling population required a massive, arena-like structure to accommodate the citizens for state military functions as well as inter-collegiate competitions.
From the top row, you would be able to see the Museum of Arcadia (where you’d looked up at the looming skeletons of terrible dragons and fearsome trolls in wonder, dreaming of heroics). Knallhart Manor would be to the north, and the majestic Arcadian Palace’s fey architecture vividly apparent from a half mile beyond that.
Instead, you take an aisle seat near the field, waiting impatiently for the announcement to commence. The rumors about what was about to happen had flown about the hall last evening. A new war, a terrible catastrophe, the return of the Autarch…
Instead, you soon realize that you—all of you—are graduating. Months early. Confused murmurs quiet down as the Overseer explains the selection process by which you have been assigned your “field experience,” the mandatory years of service Arcadians spent working for their national interests.
With the recent reports of an increase in Galt recidivism, rumors of Razmirian cultists far to the west, restless Ioboreans to the east, and the ever-present threat of the Worldwound to the far north, you have been awaiting an assignment that allows you to test your mettle against the enemies who wish to destroy your nation. [Which faction did you hope to join, or which faction do you think would have expressed interest in your abilities?]
Returning to the university grounds, you find your supervisor, who hands you the assignation document bearing your name, sealed with a strange sigil. Briefly, the possibilities flash through your mind—technomantic field testing, extraplanar kill squad, squire to one of the knighthoods, flying for the skymarshalls… you open the envelope, reading the formal-looking document.
Assignment: Administrative Assistant
Report to the Hall of Bureaucracy, Grozen 13, 19:00.
[What nation were you sent to?]
Numeria. Ruled by the hardly-aged Kevoth Kul, Numeria remains a strong and vital realm full of tribal intrigue and danger. With its great cities disbanded, the Black Sovereign has adopted the nomadic lifestyle of ancient times.
Ustalav. Gripped by chaos after the death of its last ruler, the surprise arrival of his heir last year has provided the warriing nobility with much-needed stability.
Mendev. A nation beset by tragedy in the form of the ever-growing Worldwound, Mendev has only recently recovered from the disastrous Fifth Crusade a generation ago.
Daggermark. Seat of power for the unincorporated River Kingdoms, Daggermark is known for its dangerous nightlife and the annual Outlaw Council, the semi-formal meeting between the leaders of nearby countries.
Sevenarches. Available to druids, rangers, and hunters only. Not available to elves. An insular nation of fey and humans set up around seven ancient artifacts that appear to be gateways or portals. Their motives, aside from preventing the elves of Kyonin from reclaiming the gateways, remain inscrutable.
Tymon. Formerly the target of Razmiran aggression campaigns, the strange mist that has shrouded the border for more than a decade has seen the nation flourish and armies grow. Turning its martial pride from conflict to competition, Tymon hosts the second-largest Arena in the River Kingdoms, and is famed for its sport.
Hymbria. Available only to full-blooded elves. The forest nation of elven exiles, the secretive nation has been increasingly at odds with its parent, Kyonin.