This is my newest world which I created as a background for a NPC (non player character), Maëlle, of my Lodoss campaign.
Today the world called ‚Ighrind‘ is a rough land shrouded in ice and chilling winds. However, it has not always been such a dark and hostile place. Ighrind used to be a pretty ordinary world with two large continents, a beautiful flora and fauna as well as some pre-historic civilizations. Why then, did it become a place locked in the grip of eternal ice?
Over 6,000 years ago the divine war between Ain, the god of the sun, and Aon, the goddess of the night, came to a bitter end. Aon, whose worshippers outnumbered Ain‘s by thousands, slew the sun god in a terminal and climatic battle above the sky. The sun exploded and the dying but still unbearable hot body of the god smashed into the northern hemisphere of Ighrind burning all life with his final fiery breath. Aon herself was terribly wounded and followed her adversary, tumbling down to the destroyed and scorched earth. Her body of ice covered most of the continent, and her freezing cold blood flooded the rest of the tortured land.
While most unlikely, there still were survivors. Most of them, however, had fiendish ichor in their veins. This fact was critical for the further development of the world. Aeons past, before the gods came, there were the Dark Dreamers, minds spawned by the Utter Darkness that was before all creation, and that forms creation‘s underbelly. When these dark spirits looked up they saw creation and dreamed of its destruction. But they could not reach beyond the shadowed veil that separates them from the mortal world. They discovered, however, that they could make themselves manifest on the Umbral Plane by imbuing planar fabric with their dark essence. The first True Fiends were born. These beings were not true embodiments of the Dark Dreamers — or Dark Creators as fiends call them — but sentient creatures of their own might, aspects so to speak. Each of these elder fiends is an embodiment of the traits and ambitions of its respective creator, and unique. These dark defilers and destructors knew the death of the world‘s two major deities was their chance and they took it.
Offering their aid to the dying mortals the true fiends were able to procreate living offspring. The human or elvish heritage was almost totally lost but in form, so that these knew creatures were real fiends sharing characteristics with their fiendish ancestry. These fiends could breed true and were the beginning of the powerful fiendish families which all trace back to one of the True Fiends. All fiendish families encompass immortal fiends — either direct offspring of a true fiend or children from two ‚lesser‘ fiends — and beings that are the result of the mingling of mortal and fiendish flesh. Today, there are few mortals who do not show signs of fiendish heritage.
Some hundred years after the world‘s destruction, a being of unbelievable eldritch might emerged from the Eternal Winter of Ighrind. Rumor has it, that this was a child of Aon‘s soul and one of the Dark Creators, but no one knows. This creature which is called the Cryossiarch or Emperor today, conquered most of the land of Muata, Ighrind‘s main continent, and founded a tight ruled realm known plainly as ‚The Empire‘. While the Cryossiarch has always been an elusive ruler, controlling its realm behind sealed doors, one of its greatest influence was on the Imperial tongue — being male as well as female, the linguists of the new Empire were in need to construct a fourth grammatical sex to relate to their ruler.
3,000 years the Cryossiarch ruled its Empire with cold and iron fists. Then, suddenly and unexpected, the Emperor transferred most of the day-to-day decision making to the Imperial Council. Leith, the Imperial City, is located some 300 miles from the Archar-Mountains, the only landmark of the Contient-of-Ice-Eternal to speak of. Here the seventeen most influential fiendish families, the Imperial Families, always had a measure of weight to throw around when it came to some decisions the Cryossiarch made. But now, they had the might to rule — and failed.
Today, the Cryossiarch seems to have abandoned its realm and never leaves the Citadel, the highest point of the mostly underground existing city of Leith. Only the red-cloaked wizards of its personal guard are a sign that someone still lives within that tower. The members of Council on the other hand were so entangled in their own little schemes and intrigues that they lost the influence on the land. The Imperial Army dwindled away until nothing but the Guard of the City was left. Imperial magistrates did not have the man-power or resources to deal with uprisings in the provinces and the hinterlands. Today, the Imperial Families might still think they rule a vast empire. The truth, however, is that the Empire‘s realm ends with the city walls of Leith.
Outside of Leith there is nothing an Imperial Citizen would call civilization. Nomadic tribes consisting of humans and fiends roam the land, fight with each other, and fight the Eternal Winter that really rules the continent.
In the year of 5237 of the Imperial Calendar a new threat showed its head to the world, the lich-fiend K‘moi. Lord K‘moi or Kaesh‘moaee is a true fiend that plagued Ighrind for thousands of years until it was destroyed almost two thousand years ago. Or so its slayers believed. Kaesh‘moaee did not return to the Darkness, to its Dark Creator, but clung to its existence in the mortal world by focussing on the ichor it had left in its offspring. It took the creature over 700 years to reform a body on the Ethereal Plane while fighting its Dark Creator‘s call to return to forgetfulness and non-existence. Almost the same amount of time was necessary to refill its powers and reach its former strength of mind and body. While still an embodiment of its Dark Creator Kaesh‘moaee had changed. It no longer had the interest in furthering its creator‘s ambitions. Tired of the never ending internal struggle with the Dark Creator‘s whispers in its mind the true fiend searched — and found — a way to silence the voices in its head. It turned itself into an undead creature, a lich-fiend. Raising an army of undead creatures out of Muata‘s soil the now renamed Lord K‘moi launched attacks against the nomadic tribes of the continent, marching further and further in the direction of Leith. Then, in the year 5236, it reached the Archar-Mountains and built a fortress there. As its next move it declared war on the Empire a year later. The Imperial Council was stunned.
The Kaesh‘man — the most powerful Imperial Family and descendants of Kaesh‘moaee before its ‚death‘ — were caught between the decision to launch a defense of Leith or to surrender to their ancestor. The rest of the Council was too surprised and had too few knowledge of the City‘s defenses and troops that they wouldn‘t act either. So the Cryossiarch send three Red Cloaks to the Council who were able to draw an army out of the City‘s populace and march against Lord K‘moi before he could attack Leith. This attack is called today the March of the Dead because almost no one returned to the Imperial City alive — even one of the three sent Red Cloaks perished in the attack on Lord K‘moi‘s fortress. However, while nobody knows for sure, the true fiend‘s army must have been destroyed as well because he did not attack — and has not until today. There are always minor skirmishes but nothing that really threatens the Empire. The shadow from the south still remains and no one knows what happened to all the corpses outside the fiend‘s fortress — they just vanished.
After these dreadful events the rest of the City needed a scapegoat for the loss of so many people — the Kaesh‘man. The Council declared them traitor and slaughtered the whole family through a Shadow War later named The Purge.
5424 a new rumor spread through the Empire and made the fiendish families uneasy and wary. Lord K‘moi has a new champion, a half-undead being, and is preparing again for war. Two years later the true fiend was attacked in his own fortress by some assassins including an undead stalker called ‚His Granddaughter‘. The attack failed and almost all assassins died a horrible death. All scouts who return to the Imperial City alive tell stories from even more increasing activity and growing armies behind the huge walls of the lich-fiend‘s fortress. The question is, when will these armies attack? Pessimists say, that this new year of 5427 will know the answer.