The Book of The Asmodians

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<br> An Introduction to the Book of Asmodians

Chapter One: Unity

Before my time, Atreia was full of green lands and bountiful pastures. It was a world in which the ancient humans prospered and lived happily with their families. There were no Elyos or Asmodians, just one united human race. Atreia was one, was whole. There was no divide, not between our worlds, nor among our people.

By all accounts, our ancestors were content while countless years passed. The ancients were bafflingly blithe about their good fortune and did not celebrate the paradise that they lived in. Perhaps they took their lot for granted. Only through the benefit of hindsight do we really understand those treasures that we once had. Perhaps even the wasteland that we now call home is a paradise compared to some other land, though I find it difficult to imagine a place more trying than this.

The glory of ancient Atreia was fleeting. Little did our ancestors imagine the sleeping horror that would soon bare its vicious teeth and attack.

Chapter Two: An Ungodly Creation

The slumbering horrors, the nightmares I spoke of, were the Drakan. Aion created the Drakan to rule the world. They were terrifying to behold. Our people’s makeshift weapons were useless against their toughened hides. Worse still, they could spread their wings and take to the skies at a moment’s notice, rendering our meager defenses ineffective in a heartbeat. Our people learned to hide from them in order to survive, for without a natural predator to challenge them, the number of Drakan and their confidence grew.

The Drakan’s desire for power was insatiable. Entire species withered and died under their fury. They left little in their wake but charred and ruined lands. Worse, they were not only power-hungry and rapacious, they were cunning. After seeing the warlike tendencies of the Krall and the Mau, the Drakan did not destroy those races, but subjugated their remaining numbers, saving them only after they had sworn eternal allegiance to the Drakan.

Around the time of that subjugation, some Drakan underwent a transformation: They grew larger, stronger, and more intelligent than their peers. The first of these creatures, the five largest and most powerful, took command of the rest, becoming the Dragon Lords.

These five Dragon Lords quickly reorganized their forces, established military ranks throughout their society, and renamed their people “the Balaur.” They attacked with renewed vigor, devastating the few remaining groups who dared resist.

Still they were not satisfied, and in seeking more powerful opponents, they turned their attention to their creator and demanded the same powers that Aion wielded. When the god refused, the Balaur, blinded with rage and driven by greed, turned on him, and gathered their forces for an attack on the great Tower of Eternity.

Chapter Three: The Millennium War

In retaliation for the disobedience of his Balaur subjects, Aion created the twelve Empyrean Lords by imbuing humans with his own Aetheric energy. These twelve possessed beauty and strength far beyond anything seen before in Atreia, and thanks to their Aether-induced powers, they could take flight like the Balaur. Aion rewarded our faith and our devotion to Atreia: The Empyrean Lords were lifted up from among our number to save our world.

The inevitable battle between the Balaur and the Empyrean Lords and their cohorts soon drew out into a long and bloody war. The forces of the Empyrean Lords found sanctuary near the Tower of Eternity, inside the Aetheric Field that Aion created for us. However, the Field was small, and the land outside its boundaries remained under Balaur control.

The Balaur now drew their power from some source beyond Atreia that we could not comprehend, and Aion’s Aether weakened them. Outside the Aetheric Field, however, the Empyrean Lords were vulnerable. Once the Balaur realized this, they lined up innocent creatures just outside its boundary and butchered them in an attempt to lure our Lords outside. These depraved actions only solidified our hatred for them.

This era was the time known as the Millennium War, a time in which humans prospered once again under the protective wings of our Empyrean Lords. I was born during the Millennium War. While I grew into a young man, I discovered that Aether responded to me, and I to it, and soon the Daevas noticed my talents. These Daevas were human at birth, but they possessed an innate ability to manipulate the Aether, just as the Empyrean Lords did. I became a Daeva and was ushered into their ranks. They mentored me.

Slowly I learned to master Daevic abilities. While I could only chill the air around me at first, within months I could freeze opponents in place and summon balls of fire to engulf the Balaur. I was revered like a god, and those who had once held me close now placed me on a mighty pedestal. The fact that I, the son of a simple farmer, could cause suffering to the Balaur was intoxicating. This ability was a blessing from Aion that I could never hope to repay.

Soon the number of Daevas swelled enough for our Empyrean Lords to mobilize us into a fighting force. I joined a Legion and progressed quickly through the ranks, leaving my child, an infant boy named Phalaris, behind.

Chapter Four: Cowardice

I excelled as a sorcerer, and within the year, I was granted control of a Legion. My Legion fought fiercely, and we were often in harm’s way while striking against the Balaur, though our Empyrean Lords were careful to protect us. Our skills and tactics improved, and eventually we could kill the younger, more foolish dragons before we were forced to retreat behind the Aetheric Field.

Then the day that staggered us all dawned.

Lord Israphel, one of the two Guardians of the Tower of Eternity—Lord Israphel, who despised the Balaur like no other—declared that we should make peace with the Dragon Lords. The purpose of the Millennium 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. At first, the Empyrean Lords were shocked and concerned. The mere prospect of peace was unthinkable. We were all of one mind: Israphel’s proposal was absurd.

Shortly, however, the weaker Lords showed that they had never had the stomach for the fight. Lady Ariel capitulated first. With honeyed words, she spoke of Israphel’s wisdom, his forethought, his bravery—bravery!—in daring to propose peace. She had the audacity to tell us how we, as Daevas, should think and act.

How quickly she and her followers forgot the sacrifices of a thousand years. What meager value they placed upon the shed blood of so many of our kin.

Others of the Lords still had true steel in their spirits. I had grown to know some of our Lords, and the one with whom I worked best was the great and dignified Lord Azphel. His resolve was always strong, and it was on his missions that we had the most success. His skill and his determination were an inspiration to many of us, 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. Lord Azphel stood to speak, and we stood with him. He berated Ariel for her disdain for the honored dead, and he blasted the peace initiative as a naive and misguided waste of time.

The hall erupted with fury. The words still ring in my memory—the roaring, the confusion, the hateful accusations. Each side railed against the other. I saw Israphel pull Lady Siel to one side and speak impassioned words to her. When he returned to address the group, he continued to insist that we could defend Aion by working toward peace. To my horror, Lady Siel was nodding as if his words might hold merit.

To preserve some fragment of concord, all of us agreed to depart and leave the twelve Empyrean Lords to their discussion. I left with my comrades-in-arms, those who supported Lord Azphel, but others slunk off in the company of their fellow cowards. Already we were dividing into separate camps: those who we sided with the worthy or those who clung to the weak.

We waited patiently for the outcome of the discussion of the Empyrean Lords that night. I recall looking across our world, seeing plumes of fire burning in the distance, and knowing that there could never be peace between Daevas and Balaur. 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 desire for domination.

I was sure that Siel would reject Israphel’s proposal. I knew that Azphel would argue his case, our case, and that the others, even Lady Ariel, would see sense and agree. Yet when the Empyrean Lords emerged, the decision they had made shook me to the core and left my Legion reeling. Lady Siel had succumbed.

For all our protests, she and Israphel, as Guardians of the Tower, held supreme authority over the twelve. The decision was final. We were to treat with the Balaur. I heard Ariel’s voice raised in jubilant triumph, and the sound of her four cohorts singing an inane chant of peace.

Azphel left, his face carved of pure fury. I took flight after him, with many of my fellow Daevas in tow.

Chapter Five: The Cataclysm

Within days, the misguided peace conference began. As a mark of respect, the Empyrean Lords invited the Dragon Lords to enter the Tower of Eternity for the negotiations. The Aetheric Field was lowered to allow them to go inside. During those moments after the Field was down, time slowed to a crawl, a lifetime passed in the space of a few minutes for me.

I saw the mistrust and anger that I felt in my fellow legionaries as the Balaur walked into the Tower. How could our Lords’ convictions have been so weak as to let these beasts, who wanted us to kneel before them even now, negotiate with us? I turned to my most trusted centurion to speak with him, in that moment, everything changed. The crowd shouted and milled about in startled confusion. One of the Balaur had fallen, and Lord Azphel was standing ready to fight, his eyes blazing.

<br> The Balaur attacked. We screamed for Siel and Israphel to raise the Aetheric Field once again, but for the second time, they failed us. They were overwhelmed and distracted in the tumult, and they did not act in concert to defend the Tower. Under the Balaur’s raging claws and weapons, the Tower began to splinter and fragment.

Israphel’s tortured face, wracked with guilt, is seared in my memory as he directed Lord Azphel and all his Daeva Legions to the north, while Siel marshaled Ariel and hers to the south. Only one hope remained. 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. With the steel of our spirit, the very iron of our will, we held fast. Those in the south did not.

Our world was plunged into darkness as the Tower’s light was snuffed out. People screamed and ran in all directions. I remember that moment as though it were yesterday. I remember looking up and watching shards of the Tower snap and fall, illuminated only by the flickering light of the great structure. I stood rooted to the spot as a huge fragment splintered from the Tower and fell toward me. I remember that day well. It was the day I found the other gift that being a Daeva grants me: immortality.

I awoke, gazed across our great world, and saw Atreia shattered into two halves. The lower half was bathed in bright, fierce light. Our half was plunged into icy darkness.

The peace conference was over.

Chapter Six: Aftermath

Slowly our eyes adjusted, and we found each other. Our people were distraught, terrified. No one knew how we had survived. I told everyone to make camp and stay warm, and I then set off toward the stump that had once been the Tower.

There I found the five Empyrean Lords who had been sent to the north to protect Aion and hold the Tower. These steadfast five, who we renamed the Shedim Lords, were still alive. They traveled to our camp and explained, as best they could, what had happened. They told us that our world had changed forever. The cost of the ill-advised peace attempt was millions of lives. Siel and Israphel, the two Guardians of the Tower, had sacrificed themselves so that we might live. In life, they had committed a great folly, but their deaths had not been without honor. We honored them in with respectful silence.

We knew that we had to work quickly if we wanted to avoid further losses. We constructed a huge fire as a beacon to other survivors. Over the next few days, thousands flocked to us, battered, bruised, and demoralized. I was fortunate enough to find Phalaris, my child, among the survivors, though no one else survived from my settlement that I knew.

Days passed, then weeks. Our world, though shattered, stabilized, and our destiny was once again in our hands. We could no longer feel the presence of our god, and we believed that Aion was lost, along with the Aether that had empowered us. For the first time in many years, I felt vulnerable. I rejected letting fear drive me, and I spoke with Azphel and planned the founding of a new home for us with him.

Hundreds of long years passed, and we changed. We soon stopped needing fires for light and warmth. Our eyes adapted to the darkness, and our bodies grew hardier and resistant to the cold. We built a glorious city and named it Pandaemonium. Our people flourished, adapted, evolved against all odds, always under the direction of our Shedim Lords.

Our skin grew pale in this engulfing darkness, and the hard ground, littered with razor-sharp debris, turned our feet into claws. Our hands acquired talons so that none of our race would ever go unarmed again. Though these changes in our bodies were difficult to accept, they were necessary for our survival. In time, we prided ourselves on our stronger, fiercer forms. Our land became Asmodae, and ourselves, Asmodians.

My son, Phalaris, grew old and died, along with his children, and their children. Such is the life of a Daeva.

Chapter Seven: The Abyss

During the Cataclsym, shards of the Tower had scattered across Asmodae. One day, we began receiving reports from outlying regions that some of them had begun to emanate light and to levitate into the air. Azphel ordered our strongest Daevas, the Archons—of which I was now one—to investigate.

We left immediately and found a portal that took us to a region located between Asmodae and the lower half of Atreia, an expanse where pillars and islands of rock floated. The Aether that in ancient times had given us our powers was present in abundance. I was heady with relief upon feeling my abilities flood back into me. I returned to Pandaemonium and told our Shedim Lords what we had seen. Azphel immediately ordered other Archons to guard this portal. When I asked the reason why, he did not answer, but rather gazed at the sky, toward the lower half of Atreia.

Two days later while we were planning a second expedition through the portal, the guards, which we had stationed in Morheim, did not report in. Zikel, Lord of Destruction, took the remaining Archons, including me, to search for them.

We hadn’t traveled long when we encounterd a group of beings standing their ground, weapons drawn. They said little, but their condescension and judgmental expressions told the whole tale. We soon realized that these beings were the same soft-hearted cretins who had welcomed the Dragon Lords into our Tower during full-scale war. What gall! They judged us for a crime that they, not we, had committed.

Zikel’s rage was evident at their presumption. Zikel threw these “Elyos” to the ground, demanding that they disavow Nezekan, the Empyrean Lord they worshiped. Time, Zikel spat, had proven which side was at fault. Would these Elyos acknowledge their Lords’ mistake and condemn them for their foolishness?

The Elyos leader, a man named Deltras, refused. With the pride that is the taint of all the Elyos, he piously refused to acknowledge the fault of or blame his Lords. Instead, he cursed Zikel. Both sides drew their swords, and we charged, cutting the Elyos down like the cowards that they were. Some of their numbers escaped, but most fled toward our home city where in their anger they butchered our women and children before we finished them. Two ran back to their homeland, bloodied but not vanquished. Not yet.

Chapter Eight: A New Enemy, an Old Enemy

We returned to Pandaemonium that day and began gathering our forces for battle against these Elyos. The next day we met with them in combat again, and full-scale war broke out between our people.

Shortly after the war began, the Balaur, long exiled in some strange dimension beyond Atreia, found a way out of their prison to enter the Abyss, though for now they are still unable to cross into Asmodae. Their thirst for blood is just as insatiable as in ancient time. With their old allies by their side again, their power is considerable.

And now yet another immediate and urgent threat faces us. We have discovered that our planet is hemorrhaging Aether. We spent many months searching for the source of this bleed, probing throughout the Abyss and Asmodae. In the end, we found it was right in front of us.

It’s the two stumps of the Tower. A mighty resonance still exists between them, vibrating invisibly between the two halves of our sundered world. As an echo of the lost Tower of Eternity, they cry out to each other across the void. This reverberation has created the Abyss.

The Abyss absorbs Aether, drains it away like water pouring into a crevasse. Aether is spread thinner and thinner each minute of each day. Soon this Aetheric leeching will affect our Daevas and our planet. Atreia is held together by the Aetheric ties Siel and Israphel created when they drained their own ethereal bodies of Aether, a process that ended their own lives. Soon the Abyss will weaken these ties, and if they break, our atmosphere will collapse, and everyone on this planet would perish.

There remains one hope. The resonance will cease if only one stump of the Tower survives. Our path is clear: We must destroy the Tower of Light. Then the Aetheric bleed will end, safeguarding the lives of the Asmodian people and simultaneously ending the arrogant tyranny with which the Elyos threaten us.

We will not hesitate. We will not stay our blades. We strike with a brutal and irresistible wave of destruction that will finally rid our home of the arrogant and naïve fools that infest our lands.

Our fate is our own hands. We are Asmodians. We will not fail.

Kineas, Praefectus Castrorum of the Asmodian Archons


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