Far to the west of Eldross lies the vast and dark kingdom of Velkaria. The terrain of the land varies widely, covered with sharp craggy mountains, foggy moors, deep dark forests and mysterious valleys. The capital city of Undryn sits deep within the centralized Midnight Mountains, surrounded by frozen tundra to the south and milder swampy coasts to the north. To the east sit three large strategically placed castles on the harsh shores of Skullbreaker Coast, keeping ever vigilant watch against potential invaders. To the south, acting like a gateway to the lands of Tahleah, grow the massive ancient Frostwood trees of the Blackheart Forest. Hardened tribal folk populate these unforgiving lands; wild wandering clans with hearts as cold as the land they have come to endure.
As tough as the living mortal population on the surface may be, few of them descend into the underground world dominated by both immortals, and those who mortals have been returned to serve beyond death. There are few known ways into this vast underground land. The first is through Undryn itself, guarded by the elite of Velkaria. The second is Veyrosa, a port city that leads into the underground seas below the land. It is rumored that there are more entrances, but if they exist none have lived to tell of their location. The strong power of Umbra casts much of the land in an eerie shadow, combined with the dominant effect of elemental ice, together they form a landscape where even the shining light of the Sunstar is never bright enough to create more than a hazy glow. It is a land where few can survive, and even fewer dare travel.
Cities and Towns
Though few and far between, there are some well known cities within Velkaria.
Dating from before the breaking of the world and the time of Kannan, the ancient city of Undryn lies both above and below ground. Protected by the Midnight Mountains, it forms possibly the most defensible civilized position in the known world. Below the ominous towers of the exposed city is an underground ring shaped tunnel with openings in all directions to the underworld below. It is here that the invasion by the Empire of Vendarose was thwarted and driven back.
Deep within Blackheart Forest is a large establishment of makeshift hovels and buildings that make up the town of Deshan. Few have seen this city who are not of the tribal people that walk the tundra. It is said that many who live there are mad, and cackling can often be heard from unseen dwellers in the forest.
The largest completely underground city, its population is composed of the oldest risen mortals, so old they are mostly entirely skeletal in form. The eerie appearance of so many bony inhabitants has led to the name “The City of the Bone” to the few outsiders who have seen it.
In the most northern point of Velkaria to the northwest rises Tyrfing keep, said to be inhabited by the most feared warrior mortals of Velkaria. Wild in nature, they are known to go berserk in battle and embrace the chance at honorable death. A small village surrounds the keep where the common population lives, embracing a “might makes right” philosophy. They are led by a mysterious woman who is said to have great powers of prophecy.
The main underground port city that guards the way into the underground seas, this city is mostly inhabited by the undead. It is the main city for trade in the kingdom, and is run by a council composed of some of the few truly merchant minded souls in Velkaria. It is probably the safest place for outsiders to go if they are seeking commerce or safe passage in the lands.
Places of Note
The Soul Vales
Appearing across the land, mostly found in deep valleys, are focal points of Umbra power where souls tend to gravitate. These places may feel unnatural to the living, and those not in tune with the forces of Umbra may even experience harm from them. It is said that the living who dwell too long here will have their very souls pulled from them, and that the souls of such victims still remain in the vales. Throughout the history of Velkaria, there have been battles fought over these places for those immortals and undead who wished to gain access to their power.
The Dark Isles and Dark Moors
Dotting the underground sea are several small islands that are known as magical portals to locations above the surface, mainly into the many Dark Moors above. Towns and cities are often built near these Dark Moors, allowing those who know the access routes to move quickly through the Kingdom.
Home to the three Skullbreaker Keeps run by three brothers who are cousins to Deitreich, this coast is the launch point for most of what serves as a navy for Velkaria. Often more pirates and raiders, the people of this land are hardened sailors who claim this coast as their home.
The dark and mysterious haunted wood that acts as a gateway between Tahleah and Velkaria. This strange wood is sometimes filled with mischievous laughter, and many spirits are thought to inhabit the place.
Velkaria is a land full of natural resources for those who know where to look. Buried within the mountains and caves are a multitude of gems, metal ores, rock and stone of all types. Found within the swamps, bogs and moors are a great many herbs and plants found only in such regions. The Blackheart forest trees provide a hard flora called Frostwood, and growing on those trees can be found many types of strange lichen.
The land itself is perhaps the most valuable resource in the Kingdom. Because Velkaria sits on the central focal point of Essential Earth, the infusion of Umbra magic into the very ground itself has given the land the power to raise dead mortals who decompose within it. If the condition of burial and decomposition is not controlled properly, the mortals who rise from it can become what are known as the feral undead, a fact all too well known by Necromancers. Deep within the underworld, nearest the Earth focal point, can be found some of the most powerful forms of this earth, known to most as Essential Earth. This substance can be made into dark bricks, sometimes called Umbra Stone, which are said to be nearly impossible to break.
This rare flower grows in soul vales, and only blooms at night. It is infused with the energy umbral souls and can be very powerful in Necromantic rituals.
This rare metal is found in the mountains and caves of Velkaria, and is used to smith the Dragon Armor worn by Velkarian knights and nobles.
Magick and Technology
Just under half of the population uses magic, primarily Necromancy. It is thought that the shadow cast over the land can be drawn upon to harm those not from Velkaria, and thus Necromancers are looked upon as valuable defenders of the realm. It is also Necromancy that is used to aid the dying transition into undeath so that risen mortals retain their awareness and do not become feral.
Weapons and Armor
Though all types of weapons are employed, the nobility prefer long swords, shields, and heavy plate armor, made of strong steel where possible. For the wealthy and those of high standing, these items, especially the armor, can be very ornate. The common mortal population, however, often uses weapons and armor of bone crafted from their fallen enemies, as a sign of their power and dominance, and sometimes to confuse the enemies as to whether they are living or undead. Those in the blackheart forest often wear fur and leather for warmth as well as for protection.
Looming over the air and sea, the ship crafters on Skullbreaker coast are the builders of massive ominous sailing ships, recognizable by their black sails, icy frostwood masts and tower like structures all across the deck. They are used to hide their undead crews from the shining light of the Sun Star, and even the brightest Astral flares that occur within the Aethyric winds. These ships can sometimes be seen in Asharen, preparing for journeys deep into the Vortex and the Nethyr sea, where they are known to have exceptional ability to perform.
The living often bear black painted tribal markings on their faces and bodies, identifying varying ranks and deeds. Some have been known to sew horns and braids into their hair. These accountraments began mainly as an attempt to imitate the immortal undead who live below ground, who they both fear and revere. Eventually these undead like imitations became practical, for it is difficult for outsiders to distinguish them from the immortals themselves.
In Velkaria there are two distinct appearances: that of the immortals of the noble Velkarian Houses, and those of the risen reanimated mortals. The creation of this latter state, either naturally or through Necromancy, has earned them the name the “un-dead”, as they truly were once living. These undead risen mortals are in a slow state of decay, and thus their flesh continues to rot the longer they exist, until they are purely skeletal in appearance. One can tell the age and power of a risen mortal from their state of decay.
The nobles, who call themselves the Umbral Incarnate, are often known to outsiders as the “living dead” because they have never actually died, but have been in an ever changing state of Umbral evolution since the Great Rising. The Umbral Incarnate can usually be identified by their ghoulish white pallor, darkened eye cavities, often slightly pointed ears, and sometimes two pointed canine teeth. These teeth often appear when the immortals feel the need to feed on soul energy, a phenomena that often manifests through the drinking of living mortal blood.
The mortals of Velkaria can be distinguished by tribal appearance, bearing fur coverings, makeshift sewn leather clothing, bone armor and jewelry covering various parts of their body. The immortals enjoy aristocratic clothing with ornate and detailed design. They are fond of long ornate robes, cloaks and capes. They wear heavy plate mail into battle, usually in the colors of their house, and often equally as ornate. Both armor and clothing bear symbols and designs that pay homage to the ancient ancestry of their land. Velkarian nobility is generally very proud, and thus tend to wear their best clothing at all times, not just for ceremonial purposes.
As the “undead” have earned power and possessions through service to their immortal masters, they can generally be distinguished from the living who imitate them by their much wealthier clothing, more ornate armor and jewelry. Some still prefer to honor their clan through the use of ceremonial furs, especially the recently dead warrior revenants.
The Velkarians believe that the fundamental power of all creation manifests ultimately through Umbra and the will of souls. All of the multiverse is powered by the energy of souls, either manifested in physical or ethereal form. Experience and knowledge are highly valued, and these are what lead to a focused and directed will, with each soul finding its purpose. The willful energy of souls is highly valued, and the more life experience a soul has, the more value it has. Like a diamond forged in the earth over time, a soul becomes stronger and more resilient over time. Young souls are not as strong as older ones, because they have less knowledge and experience, and thus less value. This quality of souls is a fundamental property of Umbra, and permeates all aspects of the cultural philosophy.
Soul energy can be literally harnessed in many ways. It can be drained from the living through various forms of feeding, for example, or it can be ultimately turned into a manifested form of “currency”. In all cases, it should not be wasted; thus it is, that although the paradyne of Umbra can be seen by many as a philosophy that embraces death, the actuality is that death without purpose or without experience is considered a useless loss of soul energy. Umbra has its place in the cycle, and death should come to each person when the soul is ready. Killing the young can be considered wasteful. There is a saying in Velkaria, “good life brings strong souls, good death brings the strongest.” Umbra is always hungry, and will gladly feast on any, but the strongest and brightest of souls are those that have lived and shared the greatest experiences.
Honor is of the utmost importance, for it is in honor that purpose is found, and in purpose that the will is employed; through the use of will, the soul gains strength. Honor means each person having a code and following it as strictly as they can. Not all codes are the same, and these can vary from house to house and person to person, but this code should always be followed if honor is to be maintained. Lack of morality is really the lack of following one’s code, or in the breaking of it. Failing to maintain honor weakens the soul and the energy of Umbra, and thus those who break their code are called weak. The combination of living with honor, strength, and experience is what Necromancers seek to form strong undead. The weak and dishonorable make feral, untamed and treacherous undead, if they can even be raised at all.
Etiquette and Society
The social interaction of the Velkarian people is as varied as the vast array of groups that reside there. Amongst the noble houses, formality and the old ways are still favored, whereas the clans and houses on the surface can be terse and direct. However, one thing is common to all; rank and social order must be respected, and the assertion of dominance is of the utmost importance in social dealings.
Noble Houses are recognized as ultimately in charge, and have an arrogance that shows it.
Nobles marry for both love as well as power, but mainly to connect families and secure power. A house is made up of those that are born into it, though children amongst nobility are rare, and thus greatly celebrated. Mortals who serve a house spend most of their life ensuring that their death will earn them a place within the house. Undead who have become adopted in this way earn the prefix “named”, thus Named of House Dravin, etc., distinguishing them from actual incarnate blood. Bastards are accepted but must also earn a similar name and cannot bear the House name by itself.
Life amongst the mortal tribes is harsh, and so it is critical to become self reliant so one can contribute. The weak are often sent to the noble houses for soul feeding, as this will at least allow them to contribute to Umbra in a way that strengthens them all. There is always a concern amongst mortals, however, that a child should live long enough to become an adult, lest they die and rise in childhood. Undead children are considered a tragedy as well as a waste of soul energy, and so to many it is acceptable to burn a child’s body when it meets an untimely death.
Most people speak both Chrossian (the common language) and a very few know the ancient language of Tyrasian, though this is rare. Speech in Velkaria is often direct, but respectful. Titles vary throughout the culture, some from the ancient world, such as the ranks of the nobility; King and Queen, Count(ess), Baron(ess), and Lord and Lady, and Sir for knights. In the clans the leader is always Chieftain, and other titles may vary, such as Counselor and Elder. Whatever the title, it is critical that anyone dealing in social interaction be aware and use the appropriate title, and show the proper respect to those of higher standing. Those of the Vampire houses tend to speak more eloquently and loquaciously than others, whereas those of warrior houses and clans tend to be far less wordy.
Dishonorable talk is generally not tolerated. Questioning the honor of another can often lead to violence. Anyone speaking of the value of Illumimancy is likely to be scoffed at or ridiculed. Those who keep secrets and knowledge from their elders or family are treated with distrust as this is considered disrespectful, but outside of one’s immediate tribe or house, secrets are common.
Greetings among the nobility often take the form of a short watchful bow, without taking the eyes of the other person. There is a similar quick bow used in Blackheart Forest, though it is far quicker and less formal. Warriors, upon greeting and leaving, often use hearty strong forearm shake. When arriving at another’s home in Grymhold, it is customary to bring a small gift.
When walking away, turning one’s back to another is considered disrespectful. Folding one’s arms is a challenge to the authority of a superior, and often a sign of close mindedness or defiance, and is considered highly offensive when speaking to one of higher rank. Generally speaking, insulting someone that is stronger or wiser than you is a faux pas, as is insulting or accusing someone in the higher nobility.
Architecture and Art
The nobility and Incarnate families of Undryn live within ancient and ornate structures dating back hundreds of years, since before the time of Kaanan. The characteristics of this architecture include tall dark spires with large wooden doors and arched windows, all layered upon deep foundations that go many levels below. Deep underground, living areas have been carved into the stone with statues and scenes in relief into the walls. In Grymhold, one can still see the stalactites hanging far above the walkways and streets. All of the cities have great murals and paintings that tell of the battles and struggles of the Velkarian people. Some undead enjoy keeping living portraits of themselves in their homes, rather like baby portraits are popular in some cultures.
Commoners live in stone houses with thatched roofs in the open tundra and mountains, while homes in the forests and swaplands are often simply wooden huts. Many undead simply live in caves that have been modified for defense. In the Blackheart Forest, many live in treehouses high above the ground.
Nobles enjoy theatre, especially tragedies and epic tales that tell the stories of their battles and trials against Vendaeros and the burning light of Astra. One popular epic tale tells how Deitrich came to power and brought his people out of the early times of chaos, to go on and form the resilient Kingdom of Velkaria.
Food and Diet
It should be noted that the Undead do not technically need to eat, though often it takes time after the rising for their appetite to subside, and they sometimes eat just to remember what food is like. Ghouls of course will eat the living, though they are rarely seen at a formal table. There are even those mortals who imitate these ghouls and are cannibals, believing the soul force will bring them closer to Umbra.
The Incarnate are able to eat and metabolise food, though most prefer to feed off of soul energy when possible. Neither is harmed by foods that would be considered poisonous, and so will often eat and drink foods taboo to other cultures for the amusement of alarming their guests.
The common mortals in Velkaria subsist upon various breads, grains, and hunted animals such as boar, deer and elk. Fruits and vegetables are less common due to the cold climate, but nuts and seeds can often be found in forested areas. Beer, meads and ales are commonly imbibed. There is some farming that takes place near the various keeps, so livestock are sometimes used by the less nomadic people. Fishing is common in the coastal areas. Apples and honey are eaten during the Celebration of Umbra, and the occasional pig with an apple in its mouth can be seen roasting over a large fire. As certain wines can be popular for trade, there are a very few secret vineyards in the kingdom. Foods unique to Velkaria are:
Blood Cakes – special circular pastries eaten during the full moon.
Spike Fish – a type of fish found on the Skullbreaker Coast that is ground up and made into balls and is quite tasty. Its spiky spines can be poisonous and so care must be taken in preparation for living guests.
Reindeer – At Tyrfing Keep there is a special type of deer that is considered a delicacy and makes a great pudding; the rest of the deer is also quite good and known for its tenderness. The people of Tyrfing Keep now breed these special deer for meat and pudding.
Blackheart Berries – a berry unique to the forest that is fermented to make a fragrant wine, but can be poisonous if not ripe enough.
Blood Wines – Though not generally effective at sustenance, there are a few wines mixed by those who know the rare art of fermenting grapes and blood in such a way as to preserve soul energy (or so it is rumored).
Professions and Skills
Education and knowledge is highly valued in Velkaria, especially by the upper class. Education, however, does not mean simply learning facts, it means getting out and experiencing the harshness of the world. As knowledge increases, so does the strength of the soul, and for mortals it means a more powerful rising. As the power of a single soul increases, so does the power of Umbra as a whole. All skills are taught, from history, math and herbalism to fighting and social skills. Children are educated from a very early age, with the noble children having private mentors and tutors, and the less wealthy taught by elders and family. There are major schools in all cities, however, which specialize in specific arts such as combat, magic and social graces. The armorsmiths of Velkaria are also greatly respected for their ability to craft the Dragon armor famous to Velkarian Knights.
At the age of eighteen, everyone must spend time in the service of the Order of the Dragon for two years, where they patrol and defend all of Velkaria, to learn about its many regions and understand the ways of the land and Umbra. In this way everyone learns some fighting and survival skills, and comes to appreciate the harshness of the land and its people.
Celebration of Soulfall – Velkarians celebrate the time of year when Umbra becomes the strongest in Eldross, known as the Season of Soulfall. This celebration takes place on the first three nights of Soulfall. A journey is made by one called the Headless Horseman, who starts on the East Coast and rides through all of the main cities letting people know that it is now the time of Umbra.
The Day of Stillness – This is a day of fasting day and a reminder of the time the strong rose from the dead in the war against Vendaeros.
The Full Moon – These are always celebrated with blood pastries and drink. It is a reminder of the cycle and the end of things before they are made new.
All Souls Day – This is the day when those strong enough that have died in the past year have one last chance at life, if they are strong enough to survive the night. Those that have risen that night are special as Umbra has rewarded them for proving they are worthy, and it is thought they will bring value to Umbra.
The Great Masquerade Ball – This is on the final night of the season of Soulfall and a celebration to remember one’s code until Umbra comes again. Masks represent secrets, and bloodwine is drunk to keep one strong for the coming year.
Funerals – The times of mortal passing are full of drink and games as everyone remembers the life of the deceased. It is thought that the more people that attend the funnel, the more the soul will be helped onto its journey, especially if it is to rise again. Bodies are buried deep within the earth – only the truly dishonorable are cremated to ensure they may never rise.
Rising Day – this is a personal celebration day for each mortal who returned from death into undeath, much like a second birthday.
Velkaria is recognized by the rest of the world as a Kingdom, though it is so large with so many different types of inhabitants that it only loosely lives up to the name. The recognized leader is King Deitrich Ulthas, who rules from Undryn and delegates power throughout many places in Velkaria. Deitrich thoroughly vets his appointed officers and expects strict compliance from them. He has named three of his cousin’s from House Dravin to rule across Skullbreaker coast, each with his own keep and surrounding Duchies, both to guard the coast and to keep them at arm’s length. The King’s military enforcement comes through his elite guard, the Order of Blood, led by his knight champion Ragnas the Black. However, if Velkaria itself is ever in danger, all of his feudal lords from around the lands are expected to rally to the call. This has not been necessary since Vendaeros invaded, but the old oaths still stand.
There is an understanding amongst the wielders of magick in the lands that Umbra itself is the true power of Velkaria, and that the King is a manifestation of this paradyne. Therefore, the most powerful Necromancers can have great influence over the people, as they are often the unspoken judges of whether or not the King is within Umbra’s favor. The general mortal human population supports the king as long as they believe Umbra favors their ruler, and in fact this “right of paradyne” has rarely been in question with Deitrich.
This perceived authority over rulership makes the gifted Necromancer Rastayne the Bold a powerful figure in Velkaria. Rastayne was once very close to Deitrich, acting as a direct advisor to the King, and even rumored by some to be his bastard half mortal son. The two have not been as close since the Vendaeros invasion, when Deitrich ordered Rastayne to take the mortals deep below ground to both protect them from the taint of Astra and to ensure that they would rise properly in case the war did not go well. During the journey, much of the cave system collapsed on the refugees, who thanks to the preparation of Rastayne, rose as powerful Undead. Rastayne then began construction on the underground city of Grymhold, establishing his own power base and creating his own elite risen guard, the “Death Knights”. Rastayne’s own personal form of risen status, unique to Necromancers, has earned its own title “Liche”, and Rastayne rules as Arch Liche with an authority in Grymhold that is second only to the King’s. Deitrich knows that if Rastayne were ever to sense that Umbra no longer favored his rule, Rastayne could attempt to claim this status for himself, creating a sometimes tense alliance.
There are very few Kingdom wide laws in Velkaria, for legality rests in the hands of local lords and leaders for the most part. The most important laws have to do with dishonor and breaking a code, untimely or poor deaths or murder(especially those that disrupt rising conditions), or the use of Astra forces to create or cause either of the previous. Equally offensive is anything treasonous against the king, as this is an offense against Umbra itself. Beyond that, locals are mostly in charge of their own laws and justice. Examples include a Council of Elders who rules in Blackheart Forest, and a Coven of Captains who control trade laws in Veyrosa. In the city of Grymhold, a group of Skeletal forces called simply the Grym enforce the will and laws of Rastayne, and are especially harsh against those disrupting Necromancy rituals and risings. The elite Grym, called Death Knights, have even taken it upon themselves to act as a police force for the rest of the Kingdom, sometimes clashing with the Order of Blood.
Codes vary widely from region to region. Those who are found to be dishonorable or code breakers can end up losing all of their possessions and their honor, as well as be ostracized from a clan or house. Those who murder may end up in servitude of the offended party, family or house. Charges against an individual can often be defended by trial through combat or sanctioned duels. In some cases, trial by peer judgement is employed, though this method is not often trusted because of the history of deceptive practices often seen in nearby Tahleah.
Organizations and Orders
Order of Blood
This is King Dietrich’s private guard of the most dedicated and battle hardened experts in Velkaria. There is at least one representative from each region, with a total of seven guards in this prestigious order. Most of the recruites come from the Order of the Dragon.
Order of the Dragon
These are the footsoldiers of Velkaria, enforcing the laws throughout the land as a sort of police force. They are, for the most part, respected throughout the lands and do not get too involved in minor local issues, letting the local lords deal with their own problems. The highest ranking member of the Order of the Dragon has been given the title of General. The current leader is General Darian the Staunch, a powerful Death Knight from Grymhold.
A group of mostly mortals that travel to different lands to spread knowledge and stories and help develop schools in many different lands. While traveling, they record and write down the stores and tales gleaned across all of Eldross. When in Velkaria, the elders help compile the stories the travelers have brought, and write the tales to add to their tomes.
The Noble Houses
The ruling family of Velkaria, this powerful aristocratic house is known for its Vampiric powers. It has been ruled for 120 years by Deitrich Ulthas.
This house controls the duchies along Skullcrusher Coast, where they watch from the three keeps along the shore. The three brothers in charge are Sev’ryn, Carvis and Vallas Dravin.
The most powerful military house in Velkaria, known as the Revenants, its immortal warriors are said to fight with unmatched speed, strength and grace in battle. They are based in Tyrfing Keep and led by Countess Navia Litharian, second daughter to Gunther Litharian who was permanently killed in defense of Tyrfing Keep during the invasion of Vendaeros.
The house in control of the port city of Veyrosa, and who runs a large armada of ships used for trade throughout the world. The most famous of the House is Admiral Ayres Ironshadow, one of the most calculating and fearless pirates on the seas.
House Swerdyn is in control of Grymhold, the City of the Bone. Led by the Liche Rastayne the Bold, this house is the only house formed of risen mortals instead of descended from the Incarnate.
A tribe of risen Undead who banded together and inhabited the Bonedigger caves. Often referred to as Ghouls, they are the few known undead to consume humans, an act largely frowned upon by the rest of the kingdom.
The clan in charge of the council that rules Blackheart Forest. The current head is Amethyst Silverwood. Dietrich respects Amethyst and works to keep her in charge of Blackheart Forest. She is a powerful and cunning ally, but one that he must keep his eye on.
A group of humans that live in the village surrounding Tyrfing Keep, they are known for learning fighting skills from the revenants of Tyrfing keep.
Long ago, before the breaking of the world, Tyras was a land rich in the power of the paradyne of Umbra. Though the land was filled with both mortals and immortals alike, the Undead were a mystery rarely known to the land. In those days, mortals were subjugated and forced into the service of the Incarnate with no hope of persistence after death. While House Ulthas ruled atop their high towers in walled cities, many were not as fortunate.
That was until the day everything changed. It is said that in Velkaria that day the clouds darkened and a grey sheet covered the Sunstar. A shroud covered the land and the light became an eerie diffuse glow. As the morning sky became covered in a purplish cast, the rolling hills of Tyras began oozing with black mud as swamps and bogs crept into the land. The land began to slowly freeze as the earth itself began to morph and change. There were now more swamps and moors, and large black obelisks pushed their way up through the earth. All across the land, from graveyards and battle sites across the land, the dead began to rise.
There was a new beginning in Velkaria as the people’s lives were changed forever. In the coming years, many mortals died from the harsh cold conditions, only to rise again. The Necromancers of the land began to eagerly study the phenomena, and over time began to understand the conditions necessary to control this rising process. The time became known as The Great Rising. Afterwards, the relationship between the Incarnate and mortals was forever changed, as was the land itself.
Right after the Great Rising, House Ulthas took charge and began to rebuild and restore order from the capital city of Undryn. For years, no one in Tyras was quite sure what was happening in the other continents and the seas beyond. Deitreich sent out scout ships, and eventually reports came back that the island of Chrossus had vanished into a great storm. On the shores of Ondras, the lands were said to be a wasteland covered in ash, its people twisted and deformed. To the South, the Blackheart Forest was filled with a maddening laughter, with tales of ghostly forms and malformed beings running wild. Attempts to reclaim and restore order to those lands were met with disaster when a group of saboteurs and assassins attacked an envoy of nobles trying to re-establish peace. Before another attempt could be made, an event occurred that would shape the future of Tyras forever.
The Vendaeros Invasion
In bright skyships they came, bearing flags of parley and peace. Hailing from the lands across the sea, they named themselves as the people of the land that was once Naras, now renamed as the Empire of Vendaeros. They came, they said, to establish a new order for the world in the absence of the old rulers, the King and Queen of Chrossus. They told tales of disasters and changes all across the lands, and of the twisted people they had seen.
It was not long before they attacked, claiming the need to purge the Undead, as they were an abomination in the sight of Astra. Their eyes were filled with a hateful shining light, and they slaughtered without thought or reason. It was clear that they had been driven mad from the breaking of the world, and the people were thankful that the shadow of Umbra had protected them from such a fate.
The Vendaeros invasion was well underway. Ravaging across the land, the forces of Astra took land, little by little, year by year, until they had found their way to Undryn. Unable to discover or penetrate the underworld, they began a siege on the capital that lasted months. As the siege continued, King Dietrich Ulthas sent Rastayne and many of those that were not combatants far underground. Rastayne did as he was told, taking several hundred craftsmen, mages, and others to a large open area full of stalagmites and stalactites. This huge cavern easily fit the masses, and there they waited for a signal from the King. While waiting, Rastayne, a great Necromancer, began to discover great sources of Umbra power within the deep earth. Drawing upon this power with his apprentice mages, he harnessed this power and turned it against the enemies above. The caves shook with tremors and began to crumble, and soon buried them all alive. Some died quickly, others agonized for a time, but in the end, they all rose together. In this powerful place of Umbra, their flesh rotted rapidly and soon the skeletal population of Grymhold was reborn.
On the surface, a rotting plague began to affect the Vendaeros invaders. Food in the lands became scarce, for mortals and the conquerors were soon Unable to hold their siege on the city. In a final assault, King Deitrech led his elite Blood Guard into the heart of the enemy, driving them back forever. In this way, he secured his place as the chosen of Umbra, and his authority was unquestioned. From the ravages of war, a new kingdom was established, and named for Deitrich’s old duchy in Tyras, Velkaria. Since that time, the Velkarians have remained aloof, venturing out only to interact with the returned Kingdom of Asharen, whom they respect for their open indeed ways.