Aelva Danna de Nuru – “The Wicked Ones Only Sleep”
The aelva danna, “the wicked ones”, the Sorcerer Kings. They created the ven to be their slaves, a magical race of servitors bound to their every whim. The Sorcerer Kings ruled over a world of bounty and perfection; a veritable Eden. Then, for reasons forever lost, they went to war with one another.
The Sorcerer Kings built armies, and prepared eldritch sorceries the likes of which have never been seen since. They believed they would conquer the world. Instead they nearly destroyed it, and their place in it.
When the magical conflagration was over, the Sorcerer Kings were no more. The ven pulled themselves out of the rubble, masters of their destiny for the first time. Yet the legacy of the Sorcerer Kings remains in the ruins that are scattered throughout the archipelagos of Shanri, and in the powerful artifacts of magic scattered across the land.
Aelva danna de nuru. The ven still live in the shadow of the Sorcerer Kings. Ven children are taught to fear the aelva danna, and their black art, the art of Sorcery, has been outlawed. Of course, law or no, their sorceries hold power. And no ven can refuse power for long.
The Betrayer War (200 years ago)
For ten generations the High King ruled Shanri. Chosen from among the Blooded Nobles of the ven, the High King steered his people from the rubble of the Sorcerer Kings and to a new civilization. During this time the noble houses of the ven were formed, and ven civilization was structured. No longer slaves, the ven now styled themselves as the masters of Shanri.
But Shanri had changed. The destruction of the Sorcerer Kings had wracked the land. Paradise was lost, and the archipelagos remained, floating in a world of magical torment and untamed chaos. Amidst this chaos the High King and his descendents worked to gain the power necessary to tame the land. But power is always the ultimate corrupting force.
Jaymen Steele, Blooded of the Elk, the last High King, was unwilling to enter the Solace of old age. He sought the power to delay the Great Sleep, or avoid it entirely. His quest for waking immortality drove him mad.
The Betrayer War brought together the combined forces of all Houses against the Emperor. So great was his might, those in his own House turned against him, and even that great Strength was barely enough to defeat Steele. Decades of sorcerous research empowered him beyond imagination. When he was defeated, a council of nobles gathered to cast the course of the future. No ven should ever again be declared Emperor. More, that the House of the Elk be held at half-shroud. A warning if they should ever demonstrate the hubris of their Blood again.
The last High King, Emperor of the ven, pronounced the Betrayer Curse as he fell. The blooded families all fell under it. And even as the ven pronounced that they would never again kneel to the High King, the seeds were laid for the next great power struggle. For although all ven swore that they would never kneel before a High King, so too did all ven secretly desire that ancient throne for their own.
The Quiet Poison (150 Years Ago)
Over the next century, the Blooded of the Wolf moved quickly to consolidate their power and fill the vacuum left behind by an empty throne. The House of the Fox did the same, but met with quick resistance from the Adrente wolves. A second war erupted, but it did not find its end on the battlefield. Instead, the war was ended on the floor of the newly created Senate.
The Senate adopted what would come to be known as the War Amendment (taken from Jonan Drax’s ancient Laws) forbidding any noble from gathering armies. The nobility was permitted to keep “a small personal guard for the purposes of security and protection,” but otherwise, no soldiers, no garrisons, and no armies. Needless to say, the ven reacted to the amendment in their own way. They started gathering armies.
But waging war was still illegal. And in reaction to that clause, espionage and assassination became the primary cause of death among nobles in Shanri. For seventy-five years, the death toll became almost epidemic. The primary method of assassination was poison, providing an anonymous method of doing away with powerful enemies.
Thanks to another amendment passed by the Senate, dueling transformed from a messy and bloody exercise into pure ritual. The Dueling Act forbade casual swordplay. It ritualized the duel, transforming it into an art form, and the preferred form of redress among the Houses of the Blooded. House Wolf and House Fox developed these rules, House Wolf ensuring that the rules were deadly, and House Fox ensuring that they were beautiful. The Dueling Act was unconcerned with justice. It dealt entirely with revenge.
The Anguish (100 Years Ago)
“This storm knows us,” Uvand Philo wrote. “It knows our names.”
The Storm, dubbed “the Anguish” by those who lived through it, ravaged all of Shanri. It first appeared a century ago, seemingly willful, seemingly knowing, all too deadly. A murderous Storm. It did indeed seem to know their names.
Clandestine Blood (50 Years Ago)
The Rise of the Anguish created two important changes in the society of the ven. First it gave prominence to the House of the Falcon, their ability to dismiss the terrible Storm gave them station above what their new arrival would normally allow. Second the Storm forced the ven into the former homes of their sorcerous masters. The ancient stone and strong foundations of the sorcerer-kings former homes could withstand the worst of the Storms lashing weather.
This birthed a sense of comfort and luxury among the Noble ven that they had not previously known. With unprecedented access to the lairs of their former masters sorcery, that once vile and suspect element saw a resurgence in the courts and lands of the minor houses. It was at this time that the Blood Oath, was discovered and first used setting the course for many things to come.
Totem Rex (Today)
Whispers stalk the halls of the Senate, the words said in hushed tones, on hidden lips “High King” a new title for a new ruler. A king, not an Emperor, a ruler beholden and answerable to the Senate. What could this mean for ven society?
It is a time of expansion, from the safety of the mansions built on the bones of their ruined masters homes the ven seek out new lands. Ventures out from the hub, while dangerous have proven profitable and some more ven seek their fortune on new and unknown shores. But journeys across Shanri are dangerous, not only do ork and Monster stalk the ven but Pirates grow in number. Privateers flying the banners of the houses, raid rival ships for riches, and veiled ships flying the black flag attack anyone and everyone they can catch.
It is a time of exquisite riches and great danger, a perfect time for the ven.