Creation and Early History

The summation below is gathered from the creation myths of many of Áereth’s religions and cultures. No single church will cite this information in such a concise, comprehensive form, but if one made a painstaking study of the clergies of the Sancturn Pantheon, interviewed disciples of numerous demigods, and consulted scholars of the Triad, one might gather an account similar to the one below.

In a formless age measureless to mortals, there arrived a clan of beings that theologians would one day name the Greater Gods. Leading them was the Triad, and the eldest among them was Choranus, the Seer Father and the figurehead of Law. At his side was his equal and consort Ildavir, the Giver of Form, and his brother, Centivus the Shaper. When the Triad and its kin entered the Void, its sole occupant, a being of Chaos known as Zhühn, fled before their luminous presence.

With the help of his children, Choranus began the creation of the world, a place of light, water, and air. He designed laws to govern the course of nature and the powers that could suspend them, setting the stage for impending life. Yet even as the Greater Gods forged this world, Zhühn extended his hands and unmade it, for ever was destruction swifter than creation. Again and again they fashioned their world anew and Zhühn, their Great Enemy, broke it apart. Choranus sought to bring order into the vast expanse, but Zhühn would allow only entropy.

After the Triad took counsel, they welcomed an assemblage of other gods to take part in creation. Most pivotal was the Sancturn Pantheon, divinities who sought refuge from the ruin of their previous home. The Triad granted them their protection and magnified their power. These divinities, later named the Lesser Gods by theologians, were exemplars of good, evil, and neutrality—moralistic ideologies carried over from their former home. Once the Sancturns had settled themselves among the Outer Planes, the Triad invited them to take part in its designs.

With their collective work, Choranus oversaw the construction of a ghostly new world—a place of raw magical convergence suffused with the spirit of nature and the collective power of the Greater and Lesser Gods. Under the direction of Ildavir, the gods gave physical substance to the world by drawing upon the Inner Planes, and Choranus set it spinning within the spiral arrays of the Material Plane.

Though he fought to unmake it, Zhühn’s power was outmatched. Dwelling in the corners of his diminishing Void, Zhühn recoiled at the sight of such enduring creation. To him, the existence of anything but the Void itself was a blasphemy, for he was a being of chaos and oblivion and knew only those. Now light and life flourished, spoiling the endless gloom. This new world, having survived the Great Enemy’s will to destroy, has come to be known in the current age as Áereth—derived from a phrase in the Old Giant tongue meaning “where we walk.”

Seeing it safe from Zhühn’s negation, Choranus at last asked Centivus to devise the first creatures to inhabit Áereth. As his brother set to work, the Seer Father and Giver of Form rejoiced at his artistry and lent their skills to his. From the hands of the Triad, many beings entered the world. This was an antediluvian age of legendary beasts, a time when rocs alone soared the skies, krakens swam the depths, and colossal worms bored the earth unchallenged. Ever was Centivus the artist, his divine imagination given free rein to shape new beasts. This he did with the counsel of Ildavir, whose knowledge of nature and balance lent focus to his work. It was she who infused his creations with life and substance, giving each the ability to proliferate its own kind. At last, Choranus decided which would be given sentience, sharp intellect, or the gift of magic.

The three gods continued to create, experimenting with flesh and blood to set a multitude of strange and monstrous creatures free to roam all the lands. From these beginnings the animal features of the Known Realms find their origin. When Centivus designed the first felines, Choranus marveled again at his brother’s skill, and he gave the most powerful among these features like those of he and his consort: fair faces crowned with flowing hair.  These became the first sphinxes, and they were graced with wisdom and prescience. The next creatures were serpentine, and Choranus smiled at their colorful, scaled bodies, and he gave them, too, faces like the gods’ own. These became the nagas, and they were graced with cunning and a talent for sorcery.

Seeing the need for greater balance in the world, Ildavir began to populate Áereth with a host of lesser forms, taking her inspiration from the great works of Centivus. These became the animals, and they would thrive in all climates and terrains and rule the wild places. From sphinxes, Ildavir created lions and great cats of all varieties. From nagas, she created reptiles and all species of serpents. From rocs, she created birds, and from the great ocean dwellers, she created fish. These new beasts were at first larger than their eventual progeny, and are known in the present world as dire animals.

Then Choranus crafted a race formed fully in the gods’ own image. This effort took the form of titans, large of stature and great in strength. Intending the titans to rule over all others, he found that they did not obey the edicts intended for them. They became a race of discord—seeded, perhaps, by the subtle hand of Zhühn—and the titans went their separate ways and withdrew to the mountainous corners of the world. The magic within them adapted their bodies to the regions in which they chose to dwell, and their power slowly declined. They became the giants, lesser forms of the titans. Lost in their own selfish struggles, the giants abandoned their heritage and forsook the gods.

Disappointed in the fallibility of the titans, Choranus turned to Centivus again. He asked him to devise a ruling race, one that perfected on the forms that came before. As his younger brother set to work on these next creations, Choranus delighted at the beauty of their draconic form. Cunning as the nagas, they possessed the strength of titans and the wisdom of sphinxes. Ildavir gave them life in the cradle of a mountain valley, and Choranus gave them sovereign minds. The Seer Father also granted them profound skill with magic that they might shape their civilizations and defend themselves against enemies who would supplant them. These beings were the first dragons.

As the most intelligent creatures on Áereth, and possessing breaths of deadly elemental power, dragons lorded over all others. At their head, Choranus placed four avatars shaped much like the titans but draconic in feature. These were the Dragon Kings, ambassadors of the gods, given the task of relaying the laws of Choranus to the dragons and those in their charge. At this time, Choranus longed to recreate his attempt with the titans, this time on a smaller, more numerous scale. Taking inspiration from his own family, he created the smaller humanoid races that would serve the dragons in their mighty empire. In the likeness of Ireth, his sagacious, eldest daughter, he fashioned the elves. For Daenthar, his stout and industrious eldest son, Choranus hewed the dwarves. From the image of Poderon, his good-humored, hard-working son, he forged the gnomes.

For the harmony of Olidyra, his diminutive, wayward daughter, he conceived the halflings. Foreseeing the eventual rise of these humanoid races, Choranus at last created humans, a people who would embody the virtues—and failings—of all others. One by one, these five races revealed themselves, and they were at first wary of the great beasts that ruled the land. As they increased in number, the intelligent creatures that came before began to contend with them. In time, some adopted the humanoids as a master might foster an apprentice, beginning with the dragons. As intended, the elves, dwarves, gnomes, halflings, and humans became as servitors to the wiser, more powerful dragons.

Watching the works of their superiors, some of the Lesser Gods grew jealous and began to experiment with the powers of creation, giving rise to goblinkind and many others. Hags, harpies, ogres, and trolls numbered among the many monstrous denizens. Affronted by these bastard creations, Ildavir appealed to her consort and his brother. With their approval, Ildavir countered with new creations of her own. Beings such as centaurs, merfolk, satyrs, sea cats, treants, and all things fey came from this time.

The ethics of law and chaos, loyalty and disobedience, were in flux within Áereth. Each race fought for its place in the young world and many refused to bow to the lordship of the Dragon Kings, sovereignty decreed by Choranus himself. Zhühn, seeking to subvert the work of creation, sent forth his mightiest servant, a fallen titan named Cadixtat that the Great Enemy had fostered since that race’s birth. Once instrumental in the titans’ defiance against the gods, Cadixtat, the most powerful of his kind, now marched across the face of Áereth sewing chaos and disloyalty wherever he went. Empowered with a portion of Zhühn’s own anarchic power, even the Dragon Kings dared not challenge him. Unwilling to allow the Great Enemy this heavy-handed stratagem, Choranus sent forth a sentinel of law named Teleus to defend Áereth, imbuing him with some of the Seer Father’s own axiomatic power.

The battle between Teleus and Cadixtat spanned the world and carried far into the Reign of Dragons, as the law of Choranus and the chaos of Zhühn sought to rule the fate of Áereth. This Great Conflict of ideologies, physical, and spiritual power never knew a victor, however, for when Teleus at last disarmed Cadixtat of his Axe of Unmaking, Choranus recalled his champion. Content to allow the absence of both ethical extremes, the Triad commanded the rest of the Greater Gods to stay their influence as well. In their place, they charged the Sancturn Pantheon to watch over the mortal races of Áereth and allow their morals of good, evil, and neutrality to hold sway. The Greater Gods would remain only the distant figureheads of creation.

Unable to exert his power physically upon the world again, Zhühn endeavored to dissolve it slowly, piece by piece, with the patience only a creature of the Void could understand. Though he was great in power, many of the gods of good and evil would forever oppose him. The time had come for mortals, not gods, to shape the course of the world.