Spring, summer, autumn, winter – each dawns and sets upon the changed world of Qairn, as steady as the sun and one lonely moon. The year of 340, a year of turbulence and bloodshed and ultimately rebirth, draws to its close with the timely celebration, once again of Earthentide, the dwarven holiday of fasting, meditation and isolation. When those individuals who keep the solemn holiday, dwarves and all else, think back on the year’s events, on the changes they’ve seen their world endure, for the first time, they may be filled with hope and good will towards Qairn, untarnished by the looming pall of war and famine and disease.
The reclusive monks of Harbor Abbey make their announcement and, at midnight on Eartentide Day, the “341st Year Since The Fall of Imald” has begun.
As the world’s imperfect but inspiring figurehead, the fate of the kingdom of Arkhosia betokens the fate of all Qairn. For she has a new Queen, and though that queen may not be a golden dragon herself, but to some, she is nonetheless a beacon of promise – young and driven and committed to reform. The rule of Queen Mexa, First of her Name, is not without strife; dissenters are many, the shadow of Ptolomos and Truarkhism looms over all and neighborly relations – between dwarves, goliaths and blue dragons – are strained as ever. Yet, once more is the Arkhosian Kingdom, that gleaming figurehead, pointed ahead, rather than behind.
The Fallen Moon, the most ravaged by the fires of war, has taken the greatest steps towards its own recovery. Now, in place of three squabbling Regents, bickering over too little territory, a single ruler has stepped forth – Tepemkau Nebet has been declared Supreme Regent of Imald and All the Fey Provinces, those wild lands in southern Colcambria. In exchange for sovereign control of these regions, the great archwizard has bent all his magics to the halting of the Feywild’s spread, sparing mainland Arkhosia the gruesome fate the rampant fey powers laid before it. Now, Tepemkau rules with unquestioned authority over all that is eladrin and gnomish in the world.
Peace, too, has come to the Empire of Tojezen, the Raborox Rebellion long over. Though gravelly injured in the Duel of Dragons, the dracoempress is not be bedridden long and even now, she seeks to further her conquest, adding more and more cities to her expanding empire. This inspires no small tension among her neighbors, Arkhosia and the Seastone Republic both and, for the moment, Tojezen restrains her interest to coastal cities in farflung western Irmina, but who knows where next that greedy draconic eye may turn, looking to claim more treasure still?
The Great Dwarven Houses are in disarray. Buoyed by their discovery of Jëbebror, House Amethyst has recently claimed the supremacy previously held by the now shattered and fractious House Topaz. Following their defeat in the Second Battle of the Ashway, House Topaz is scattered and leaderless, its Craftmistress vanished without a trace. Against the newfound might and prosperity of House Amethyst, House Onyx is pushed slowly from its holdings in the Kazalhan, while House Jasper continues to study and record its history, as ever it has for hundreds of years.
So too has it become an age of wealth and prosperity for Three Seas Shipping. Granted access to the portico, the massive merchant conglomerate has taken to the Purple Moon, plying the seas of Palune and returning with untold foreign treasures, the likes of which Qairn has never before beheld. Among these treasures are immigrants, dusk elves and gnomes seeking to escape the oppression of the Viziers, and they have settled in sporadic colonies across the world’s three oceans.
With slavery abolished in every corner of Qairn, the goliath people are once again free. To them, this rise and fall of True Arkhosia was but a brief blip on their long years of peaceful (or warlike, as the case may be) existence but it could spell the beginning of a whole new paradigm for the relations between their stoic people and the greater world. For the first time, there are official relations between the Arkhosian Kingdom and the many goliath tribes that border them, from the Soot-Sands, to the Colored-Coral, to the mighty Saltspray. Tension there is still, of course, but perhaps these two rival cultures can learn to cooperate as one.
There is one force, a force too powerful to be forgotten or brushed aside, that is absent from this brave new world. When the smoke cleared from that final battlefield, the one that decided the fate of Qairn, so too did The Nameless Company disperse, blown to the five corners of the world. Some stayed to aid the new Queen of Arkhosia manage, protect and rule her beset kingdom. Some went home, to attend their families or to settle old scores. Some went into exile, for research, study or the betterment of themselves.
Do not think that this new world, forged in the heat of their exploits, no longer has need of heroes. Once again, a great need will rear its inevitable head and summon back these legendary champions back from the edges of the map but it may not be the need they anticipated.
For, in the humble town of Belltower, the wellspring of so much adventure, wedding bells are ringing.