The First Ascension
Towards the end of the First Age a new phenomena was born. Small groups of sympathetic Humans were leaving the Zaurian lands with new found empathy towards the other races. The Hostility in the Zaurian Empire was growing larger and larger and so those that did not align with the “purist” mentality departed from their homes to seek out further horizons. Life outside the Zaurian boarders were harsh. There were many monstrous creatures defending their territories and the few sentient races that were still free of Zaurian influence did not look upon Humans too kindly. It would take much time and many generations to build a newfound trust but eventually a few humans made themselves noticeable. Taking it upon themselves to risk their lives to solves problems that plagued the outer lands. These small bands of Humans, and sometimes allies from the other races, became the first adventurers and the mightiest of them were able to usher in a new age. Among these newly minted heroes would come four of note, Baccob, Cuthbert, Kord and Olidammara.
Baccob grew up the son of a sympathizer. His father was a human wizard who spent his youth traveling the outer lands, especially the forests, to find Elven tribes that had managed to avoid the empire. He managed to befriend one such tribe and lived out his life as a guest of the elven kingdoms. In some stories he brought his wife with him, in others he met his wife, an elven bard, in the tribe. Either way, Baccob was born a human(or possibly half-elf) in elven lands. His talent with magic with undeniable, even from the beginning, and with time he quickly outgrew his father and many of the elven mages. When he reached maturity (likely around his 14th year if the records are to be believed) he left his childhood home to further his magical studies in the outside world.
Cuthbert was born a Zaurian citizen from the upperclass. His parents were Zaurian purists and he was raised thinking of Humans as benevolent masters whose reign is necessary to keep the chaotic lesser races in line. However Cuthbert himself would be raised a bit conflicted. Though raised by his parents with those values, his parents were aristocratic nobility and mainly left the raising of young Cuthbert to his nanny, a elderly Dwarven Woman named Bertha and a longtime family slave. Bertha was like a mother to Cuthbert, having raised his family for generations. However, around Cuthberts 11th birthday, Bertha and her two sons were publicly executed under suspicions of affiliating with slave resistance movements. This was a turning point in Cuthberts life. His own Father was the judge that passed the sentence on Betha and her two boys but to Cuthbert, who had studied law all his life, the trial itself was a sham. No, less than a sham. It was a mockery of justice and order to the highest degree. Cuthbert would only become more and more distant after that, spending more time with Dwarven slaves. Helping them when he could, and providing help, healing and council. In time he became too much of a public figure for even the nobility to deal with, and the dwarves of Zauria began to refer to him as “Saint”.
Kord was orphaned at an early age. His parents had traveled outside of Zaurian but could not fine other sentient races willing to trust humans. They became wandering nomads and tried to live as best they could. When Kord was still a young boy his parents camp was attacked in the middle of the night by a giant beast (believed to be a Gray Render). This was Kords first experience of what true strength looked like out in the wilds. His father fought bravely against the giant, even managing to take out an eye as he swung his greatsword wildly at the beast, but could not do more than distract it while his mother was able to ferry him to safety. As the two of them fled camp, Kord was able to just see the beast live up to it’s name, as it rended his father in half. Now deep in dangerous territory, and without the supplies they were forced to leave at camp. Kord’s mother did her best to provide for him and keep him sheltered. She went as far as to ignore her own needs and attempted only to keep her son alive when supplies were at their shortest. Eventually, not half a year after losing his father, Kord would loose his mother as well. Now, alone and barely a boy of 10, Kord found himself at the mercy of what the world offered. He kept to himself and survived off the land as best he could. It was a harsh proving ground but Kord was determined to pass though it. He started off small, just figuring out what vegetation was safe and what was not. What could kill and what could heal? He made his first kill at 11 when a lone wolf stumbled into his camp at night. The thrill of survival would drive him to kill again. He began to seek out beasts and monsters to test himself again. With each triumph he would feel more and more alive. When he was a man of 15 he looked half a giant himself, broad shoulders and bulging muscles. Around this time he encountered a tribe of Orcs who were scouring his lands. Unarmed and alone he rushed their lines and like a wild animal himself bested tens of them before the rest scattered and ran. The tribe would return every so often. At first it was to send more warriors after him but eventually Kord began to notice instead of attacking him, they began observing. One night, Kord was awoken from his rest at the sound of the Orcs screaming in terror. Just outside Kord glimpsed a familiar sight. A giant gray beast missing one eye rending the orcs in half one after the other. Kord felt a rage boil inside of him he never knew as flew at the beast with a deafening roar. The Orcs watched in amazement as this Human Man single handedly grappled with the beast. At this point in his life it’s rumored Kord’s strength already surpassed what humans should be capable of. He threw the beast to the ground and grabbed its head between his hands, twisting until he heard the snap. It took Kord an hour or so to calm his own rage but when he came to he saw the beast’s still corpse on the ground beneath his feat and the remainder of the Orc tribe looking at him in awe. Kord would later take the Orc tribe under his wing. His bloodlust satisfied with the death of the beast that took his parents from him, he instead began focusing on tests of strength for their own merit. He traveled from town to town challenging the strong to contests of their own choosing, each time proving himself as the mightiest mortal on the plane. To this day a few groups of Half-Orcs will claim their lineage to him, as will more than a few Humans.
Olidammara was born a street rat in the slums of a Zaurian city. He was mainly raised by other local streetrats, mainly gnomes and halflings as they were the least valued slaves and were mostly left to wallow in poverty. His favorite past time was playing tricks on the locals that he learned from these friends. As he got older more and more “purists” began lynching the lesser races where they could find them, using any excuses they could. Many of the gnomes and halflings were forced to flee the lower districts but many would not be able to make it out alive. So Olidammara began to devise an underground system meant to use the hidden alleys and sewers of the lower district to their advantage. This new system of “Rogues” could now safely harbor the threatened races while shipping them out of Zaurian influence, as well as play a few tricks on the purists, mainly by stealing from them. However, this Rogues Gallery would only serve to invigorate the purists movements more and in a few years the Zaurian empire was once again poised to strike out against the world.
Zaurian Purists armed themselves in droves and began attacking the area’s outside their influence, now determined to stomp out the lesser races and solidify human superiority, but where before they had sheer numbers and the element of surprise, now the world was ready for them. The races of Elves, Gnomes and Halflings were united on the outside, led by the Wizard Baccob who’s magical prowess at this point exceeded what mortals were thought capable of. He could rain fire down from the sky and end entire armies single handedly. At the same time a Herculean barbarian outlander had been leading an Orc raiding party to stomp anyone who attempted to enter the canyons and soon became bold enough to make a campaign towards the empire itself, though his Orcs would not leave their home so often the Human ventured alone. Inside the empire they faired no better. The Rogues were progressively getting bolder and bolder and more and more slaves were vanishing from their homes. The Rogue Prince had made deals with the Saint of the Slaves races and were slowly eating away at the false infrastructure of the Empires cities. The cataclysm came to a head when the two parities met. At the same time the invading armies had pushed the empire back to it’s last city gates the hidden slaves from inside its walls, Dwarves, Gnomes and Orcs burst from the lower districts. The purists would not go down easily, however and the result was a bloodbath beyond what anyone had seen since the first days. In the end, where tens of thousands once lived, only a few hundred survived. The empire would crumble soon after. The remaining humans would attempt to rebuild but now the other races were free from their thrall and attempted to make bids of power of their own. In an attempt to keep peace three of the heavenly four, Baccob, St. Cuthbert and Kord would each take one of Zaurians three cities for themselves to help rebuild. Olidammara was asked but refused, he preferred the family he had already built and so he dedicated himself to establishing a new code of honors for his own “rogues family”. Meanwhile the other three rebuilt the ruined cities. Baccob developed a city of magic and established 8 schools of wizardry to promote eduction and magical exploration. St. Cuthbert created a city of Law, one that would be just and rule over all without prejudice, now convinced that when people are put in charge they can be corrupted, but Laws can be absolute with no one above them. And Kord decided his city would be one of individual achievement. Not interested in building or ruling he made a city of trials, one where those seeking to prove their strength or merit could attempt to make their own name for themselves. This would later become Zheferhelm, the city of Adventurers. And Olidammara would create a nation that transcended cities, a Rogues Guild that he established with a Code of Thieves Honor. This was the story of the Heavenly Four, the new Gods. Baccob, God of Magic; St. Cuthbert, God of Law; Kord, God of Strength; Olidammara, God of Rogues. Their ascention to godhod would at last end the Age of Man and usher in the Second Age, the Age of Heroes.