THE SOUTHERN HALF of Espara had long been steeped in conflict, mired in a lengthy and bloody feud that started when the eastern lands of Ostros seceded and formed Fonscil.
IN THE NEWLY created country, the traitor queen Magda Miruna, only sixteen years old at the time, took up the mantle of war and from her throne kept her enemies at bay. For ten years Ostros tried, unsuccessfully, to quash Fonscil and its young queen.
IN THAT TIME war has ravaged the continent. Much of Espara is a grim and dangerous landscape. Starvation and disease run rampant while thieves and murderers abound. In the wilderness, the monsters thrive on the numerous corpses of the fallen left on the battlefields. Travel in the warring countries is an invitation to death, but even settlements provide little to no protection from the miriad dangers. Even lands far from the front lines of battle suffer from the war, and death is a constant pall hanging heavily over the landscape. The people pray to the Ennead for an end to the fighting, though they know the gods of the Aether are forever gone from the material plane.
THE ONLY THING seemingly untouched by war are the Ivory Spires, the mysterious astral towers created by the extinct race of eladrin long before recorded history, when the gods still walked our plane. Like vast sentinels spread all throughout Espara, these structures, nearly a mile long in height, stand unmarred by time.
IN THE NORTH, the country of Anshea has remained neutral to the fighting, vowing to take no side. And though the country is better off than its two neighbors, war impacts everyone. While trade suffered, and border settlements found themselves accidentally pulled into the fighting, it was The Exodus that truly changed the country.
THREE YEARS AGO the scattered bands of orc marauders who had, till now, kept to the far side of the Easthook Range in Fonscil, united into one tribe and began a diaspora that would take them deep into the heart of Anshea. The orcs left a line of destruction in their wake. They took everything they could, burned the rest, and left no survivors. Unprepared for such an overwhelming invasion, the country is now trying to fight back, but the orcs, for the present, have been successfully pushing forward.
VALSHA, A PORT TOWN in north Anshea, is very near the path the tribe has taken, but is far enough that it has remained untouched by the orc encroachment. The town is peaceful and relatively safe, a place for travelers to seek refuge, or a stopping point for fighters on their way to join the conflict against the orcs. And soon enough, it will be the site of our hero’s introduction.