Mesiterra: Age of Heroes
Book One – Copper – Summer 1391
Prologue – The City of Zilos
Since the armies of Ouranos conquered the two great human nations of Mesiterra—Messana and Ostia—Zilos has become a city of refugees. The war’s tragic human wreckage floats in to the island of the noble sea elves from all six corners of the world, sometimes on as little as a raft of driftwood.
The refugees live to the south of the city, in a sprawling slum of threadbare tents, crumbling tenements, and dilapidated shacks. Officially named the City of Hope, residents typically refer to the refugee camp as the City of Mud. Refugees are allowed virtually no access to the city proper, which is surrounded by high walls of magnificent blue marble, a stone unique to Zilos.
Each and every refugee has experienced first hand the pain and destruction of the war, but even the most hardened transplants shudder at the news arriving with the most recent ships from the east. Rumor has it that through a terrifying act of sorcery, Ouranos himself has dealt the finishing blow to the proud dwarven nation of Vinkesh, sinking most of the peninsula beneath the waves and leaving the cities of Kidon and Ikesh cowering. In the minds of many, it is just a matter of time before Ouranos’ fleet sets its sights on Zilos.
The world is in desperate need of a hero—anyone who can go face-to-face with Ouranos and win. What is worse, the bronze dragons of Zilos seem to be disappearing. Once a common sight in the skies to the north of the city, the dragons have begun to leave the island. Where are they going, and what does their departure mean for the people of Zilos?
Mesiterra – The World and its People
Mesiterra is a world of secrets. The creation myth passed down by the priestesses of Musea explains that the lands of Mesiterra were originally raised from the sea by the twin goddesses Mnemosyne and Lethe—Memory and Forgetfulness—and that the powers of those two goddesses course through the very Earth. The ground remembers those who have walked over it, but the sea can wipe away the past.
In addition to the worship of memory and forgetfulness, Mesiterran philosophy is largely composed of an elemental philosophy. Except for in the far corners of the world, the power of the four elements—Water, Earth, Fire, and Air—is a belief held by virtually every person in every nation. It is easy to see why this would be, as the elements demonstrate their power on Mesiterra frequently—through storms, earthquakes, volcanoes, tides and the sheer vastness of the sea—they are constantly reshaping the surface of Mesiterra. Most people of Mesiterra feel a deep affinity to one of the elements, and across the world people choose an element to follow through various coming-of-age and sellf-realization rites and rituals. (See Game Rules – Elemental Affinity).
The Mesiterran cultural landscape is dominated by two spheres of influence. To the west, among the people of the Messanic Archipelago, Water is seen as the most important element. Water must be respected and valued as the highest teacher of philosophy, and following the path of Water leads many people in the Archipelago to practice arcane magic. Magic is seen as a push and pull within oneself, similar to the push and pull of the tides—sometimes magic is flowing into the caster from the surrounding world, sometimes magic flows out of the caster’s body to influence the world around him. Messanans tend to value the opinions of others highly, and seek the path that flows most naturally between people, places, and events. To the east, culture revolves around the great city of Ostia, on the Strom Peninsula in the western part of the vast continent of Esterland. The people in this region of the world are not island dwellers, and their day-to-day philosophies are affected accordingly. Ostians tend to be aligned with Earth, valuing strength and stubbornness. Most see magic as frivolous, and trust items crafted with skill, hard work, and devotion over those crafted with magic. Ostians also honor intellectual integrity, and the ideal citizen of Ostia is someone who is strong of body and mind, able to defend her beliefs intelligently and articulately. The Outer Lands—the Great Southern Forest, Alay, Tarik Tenal, Nimbara, and the Sea of Lights—are less familiar to people living in the circles of Ostia and Messana, and they wield far less cultural influence than the nations at the center of the world.
Of course, in 1391, whole societies are in shambles as the armies of Ouranos course over the lands of Ostia and Messana, swallowing them into a vast empire. The last haven of peace in the Inner Seas is Zilos, which has become a cultural melting pot. It is not without tension as refugees from as far away as Torosovonik, Phaeros, and Siragusa try to keep their cultures and identities alive in a time of terrible change.
Recorded in the Annals of the Alethea Library, the 1st day of the 4th month, 1391. -Clio of Alethea