Rise from the Ashes
The Thakos Empire was once a mighty and thriving civilization.
An unprecedented period of prosperity that lasted 230 years ever since the war with the savage Jellicans of Jelusca was most recently led by the noble king, Tyvos, and his advisers, the Triumvirate. The advancements in knowledge, alchemy, metalcraft, and magics made Thakos mighty. Even the surly bonds of earth could not hold back your people; the power of flight served your people well, and ornithopters and airships filled the skies with wonder and cargo. While the Jellicans were running around in heavy bronze armor, the secrets of steel were well known to many within Thakos. When the empire held Ulukai’s favor, repositories of iron and coke were easily accessable.
But Tyvos had a fatal flaw. In his pride and hubris, he dedicated the newest city of the Thakos Empire in homage to himself, breaking the longstanding tradition of naming cities after gods and demigods by calling it Tyvan. The gods were furious. San, the beautiful goddess of cities and civilization, pleaded with the god-king Ulukai, God of the Mountain, to spare the mortals and punish the king only.
Ulukai refused, swearing that the pride of the Thakos Empire brought this punishment down upon them by revering their king as a god on earth and straying from the path of piety. When the dormant Mount Thelikos exploded with the fury of an angry god, all hell broke loose. The land and sky was covered in a thick, choking ash that still blocks out a good portion of sunlight.
The Thakos Empire had a population in the millions. MILLIONS. 95% of the population died in the volcanic eruptions, tsunamis, and earthquakes; the rest slowly died of starvation, disease, or attacks by monsters. Now, only 10 or 11 thousand of her people survive in an empire with as much land as Texas and Alaska combined.
Somehow, against all odds, you have struggled to survive in a world with poisoned water, little light, and even less food. Sometimes, you feel jealous of the ones taken in the pyroclastic flows and lava, for their deaths were brief.
Or even those lost in the floods that ravaged coastal cities, tidal waves laying low metropolises along the seaboard in one evening. Their deaths were also brief, and for many that fateful night, they were blissfully unaware as they slept in their beds.
The earthquakes, however…even the mighty Pannesians in their mountain villages were laid low by the violent upheaval of the earth. No building made by the hand of man survived. Even the temples to the Sacred Ones fell victim to tremors that wracked the land for days.
All that remains of the once mighty Thakos Empire are a battered, weary, and starving people and what meager possessions they escaped with. Noble and common, rich and poor, all united by a common cataclysm, seek new leaders, ones who can bring them out of the dark, to help them survive, and perhaps, in time, reclaim the glory of Thakos.
Five years after the Reign of Ash, civilization is essentially nonexistent. Bands of survivors in groups of 2-20 scrape by throughout the former lands of the empire. Most groups of people are starving. The people near the coast fare slightly better; they have food, but more trouble than they can deal with as well.
The plains are the safest location, but getting food has been hard. Food doesn’t grow, and hunting wildlife can only feed so many. Metal items all come from the mountains.
The mountains are rich in ore, but scarce in food. Metal and ore is traded to the plains for food. Denizens of the mountains, including dire bears, ogres, and giants love harassing and killing people for food and sport.
The coast is rich in food, but more dangerous than the mountains. Bloodthirsty pirates, merfolk raids, giant crabs, and kraken are just a few of the dangers that await those who call the coast their home; however, no one goes hungry when giant crabs mean giant crab legs! Now if you could only find a big enough pot….getting metal is next to impossible.
The soothsayers all say the same thing: the gods have turned their backs to your people. Hope is nearly lost. Yet, a glimmer of light shines in dreams and visions. The soothsayers all say the same thing in slightly different ways. The only hope to restore a semblance of normalcy to the world would be a direct plea to the gods for forgiveness.
If one of true faith prays for forgiveness for three days and nights at the peak of Mount Nessius, the highest peak of the Thakos lands, the way to redemption will be made clear.
It is also said that San cannot refuse any prayer that she has the power to grant when Phaelon eclipses the sun at high noon every three years.
The inhabitants of Mount Nessius, the Cyclopes, don’t take kindly to strangers. Nor do the Kankros, giant scorpions with nests in the hundreds. The last few hundred feet to the top is sheer cliffs, and only the bravest and strongest dare to challenge the Cliff of Chiarax.
Do these things, and the vengeance of the gods will be abated. They may even deign to grant a special boon.
It will be hard. You will need to be strong, independent, and clever to survive.
The Triumvirate must be chosen.