Athos: The Return
Excerpted from the Encyclopaedia Athorium (ed. 5998.2)
Sysitar is a dead, and universally considered cursed, island continent surrounded by Athos Terrarum in the west, Elandir in the East, and Grashnak to the north. It was once the Utopian home of all Athosian life, with each race regarding it as their racial home. Since The Reckoning, Sysitar has been uninhabitable. It’s populations were eradicated and those who fled were scattered to the winds. The once great cities and lands were scarred from the arcane genocide, leaving them infested with terrifying and malformed horrors (the basis of most Athosian Fairy Tales and bedtime stories). There are few who dare venture beyond the immediate coastline, fearing for their lives, but there are a few tiny merchant ports that dot the continent. These ports operate solely as resupply stations and points of last return for scholars (and the occasional adventurer) who venture into the heart of the continent.
History of Sysitar
Sysitar was once the home of every race on Athos. The capitol, Naxos was founded by a multi-racial pact in the Year 345 of the First Age. For the next nine-hundred years each race lived in harmony together, building the other great cities of Pyramus, Thesselon, Raxnaxes, and Larok. Unified, continental government was achieved in 707. As a result of this early decision there were zero wars fought on the continent of Sysitar. Military incidents and conflicts had all, previously, been fought outside the continent or in back rooms. The unified monarchy ruled as a High King and Queen, of equal power, made up of a separate race combination (from an arranged marriage), on rotating terms. The position was an honour and acted as a symbol of unity on the continent. Each decision made was one that would benefit all the races of Athos. Most noble citizens in these years benefited from wealth and simple lives. Lower classes also did very well and made up a majority portion of the urban population. Sysitar in this time was not Utopic for all, however, crime and poverty persisted in the major cities and those outside in rural areas were underdeveloped and remained mostly impoverished. Early racism against gnomes was extreme. Gnomes, who acted as forced labour, are said to have built the great monuments of the continent through blood, sweat, and bone.
After the Speech of Succession in 1000, the monarchy declared that the chosen one would be given the throne. In return, the then High Queen Ciscordania was given a child of Athos, so named Oberon, The Light of Athos. The other demigods were born to 145 other females, their births, though celebrated in their own communities, were nowhere near as elaborate as their noble brother’s. The last High King, Hylar Tror, an Orc, and his Queen Niobe Beleros, a High Elf, abdicated to Nox in the year 1030.
From then, until The Reckoning, Nox ruled elegantly, with some remarking him as the greatest High King. The Utopia survived and life for the people remained blissful. It was during this time that Nox commissioned The Pillars of Eternal Reverence. These five pillars were massive monuments, constructed in each of the five great cities. They are covered in embossed runes and pictographs detailing the histories and secrets of heaven which were beyond the comprehension of mortals. Regardless, they were beautiful. Built in solid marble and graced with gems from all the unsettled world. After they were completed in 1040, The Great Plague broke out. By the time of The Reckoning nearly 7 million died while another 6 million fled across The Realm of Athos. A major result of The Reckoning was that nearly the entire race of Pixies were completely wiped out. Few survived, and those that did suffer from conditions that are slowly driving them to extinction.
Since then, few have ventured into the lands where plague and genocide wreaked death and destruction. The once bountiful fields are now nothing but coarse sand, forests are now twisted and dark with features of an eternal autumn, rivers run red with blood or green with filth, and all around is the stench of death. And the natural weather too is warped. They say the rain in Larok ignites he ground on which it lands, the snows in Raxnaxes are cold enough to kill flesh upon contact, and in Naxos, night is eternal. The once great cities are inhabited by the walking dead who wander the streets, lost in days gone by. Demons and all manner of vicious evil inhabit the spell-scarred land, making a home of desolation and death.
Some returned to the island though, unable to bare thoughts of losing their homeland. These small communities dot the shores of Sysitar, refusing to extend too deep or too close to ruins. They are mostly merchants’ ports, resupplying ships and serving as temporary stays for sailors, archeologists, and the occasional adventurer (typically never heard from again). Over time, many of these ports have been found empty, destroyed, or, rarely, entirely gone, serving as a warning of the constant danger associated with living on the Damned Island of Sysitar.
The Blackwood- The largest forest in Sysitar. It is a temperate forest of dead trees whose leaves continue to fall in everlasting autumn. The branches of the trees form a dense canopy, blocking most light. The wood is supposedly a home to dark witches who trap those who enter and use them for arcane sacrifice rituals.
The Sticks- A small forest in the south-west of Sysitar. Its thin, yet dense tree thickets make movement difficult and those who find themselves lost within are hunted by demon hounds, lycanthropes, wendigos, and other malformed beasts.
The Raxes Mountains- The northern most mountains on Sysitar. They rise high, giving shade to the city of Larok at its base. Now it is a massive chain of hyper active volcanoes, spewing smoke and sulfur into the air.
The Naxiae- The large chain of central mountains. Once the home of miners,great explorers, and the vast knowledge of early civilisation on Sysitar, it is now an uninhabited labyrinth of deadly caves and mountains. They say the deep spiders speak to each other, hiding the secrets of the dead continent within.
The Blades- A vast desert of coarse sand in South-Central Sysitar. They say to step barefoot upon it is to have your foot cut by a trillion shards of glass that burn like hot metal.
The Ice Fields- The southern coastline, which is covered in sheets of ice and snow that grows to the height of a Man in the worst of winter.
The Sun Shore- The northern coast of Sysitar where the sun beats down on the land, charring the grasses. The heat is enough to make a man fall dead from dehydration in but a few short hours.
The Bone Reef- At the time of The Great Plague the people would leave their dead on the streets. Some who were brave and strong enough took the bodies and brought them to the eastern fields outside Naxos. There, the bones ossified and grew into great malformed shapes. The result, a large wasteland of bones.
Naxos- The capitol of Sysitar and seat of the High Throne. Called the City of Life, it was once the largest and most utopian city on Earth. Its knowledge was infinite and those who lived there resided on a series of bridge linked islands in the wide river Styx. Now, it is eternally night, and clogged with the walking dead. The palaces are now rumoured to be the seats of residence for archdemons, escaped from the deep hells.
Pyramus- The Fire City on the North-Western Shores. It was once renowned for its great steel work and its Great Harbour where ships sailed day and night. After The Reckoning, it was engulfed by torrents of magma that spewed for fifty years from The Raxes Mountains. But the city’s towers rose high into the sky and the heat of The Sun Shore forced the old city to build an underground network of roads. As a result, the city is still accessible, although years of neglect and pressure have most likely made the streets network partially collapsed and massively unstable.
Raxnaxes- The Ice City in the South-West. It once boasted the finest cloth work. Mithril artifacts from the old city are highly sought after for their magical strength. The city is said to be completely barren. But at night the city becomes alive with all manners of frostbitten horrors unknown.
Thesselon- The City of Winds in the South-East. Their ships and steeds were the fastest the world had ever known. They could out sail and out run any other fleet or horse twice over. After The Reckoning, the city was rocked by an earthquake that reduced most of it to hazardous rubble. When the Alchemist’s Guild collapsed, a secret store of Poisoned Gas was released on the city which caused the land around it to become a corrupted wasteland. Nothing has grown around the city since.
Larok- The Stone City in the North-East at the foot of Mount Raxes, the tallest peak of The Raxes Mountains and the tallest outside Brimir. It is the city where Dwarves first took to the mountains. Now it is a city in everlasting flame. Mount Raxes, now a massive volcano blows smoke over the city and the rains ignite upon contact with the land below. Magma flows around the city, serving as a sort of moat. Within, the city is filled with elemental beasts and corrupted flesh.
Dalra- An old Mage’s Commune in the centre of the continent which is said to have survived The Reckoning when it mysteriously vanished just days before. Within it are said to be the entire collection of pre-civilised magical tomes and vast stores of information rivaling that of Naxos. Its most prized possessions, so it is said, is a massive armoury of magical weapons and armours. The fate of the Commune is unknown.
The Vaesra- A Massive, floating Castle atop the northern part of The Naxiae. Once, the great warriors of Sysitar lived there, training their martial skills for wars that never were. Inside the deepest chamber of the castle is said to be the Rathakarian Blade ‘Nexian’ which the High King Frustior Thrallnax used to kill the first Rakshasa, Po.