The Valley of Oosular
Floating within the inky and foul blackness of the Great Beyond there existed the ancient world of Ja. Suspended and protected from this darkness by the Astral Winds, life upon the world flourished and grew with abundance and diversity. The oceans and continents teemed with creatures large and small, the greatest of which were the Ajir. For countless eons these powerful and immortal beings existed in peace and harmony using their magic to create and enhance all life on Ja.
From amongst the ruling Ajir arose the brothers Zanar and Abyal. Both were good and true and held great love for their people. However, while Zanar was content to lead is kind while pondering the great mysteries of life, Abyal grew more and more restless. Eventually he began to curse the stagnation of the Ajir. The joys of Ja felt shallow and tiresome. He looked away from Ja towards the Great Beyond for answers.
So Abyal disappeared, and his people wept for they believed him lost. However, after a time he returned. Abyal had found a way to enter the Great Beyond, a realm of all and nothingness unfathomable. While he has left simply seeking knowledge, he returned changed. Moving freely among the Ajir he preached and a great many Ajir flocked to his side. Some came because they too had grown restless and weary, others because Abyal’s charisma was simply overwhelming.
Abyal preached of strength through conflict, order though turmoil, freedom through obedience, and domination from submission. He taught these ideas were the birthright granted to them from ancient ancestors long forgotten to the mists of time. He taught that only through death could they live. Ajir’s followers heeded his words and Ja erupted into violence and horrors unimaginable. Forgotten powers were unleashed as these greatest of beings warred. The Ajir discovered death.
As the abundance of life was slowly burned away by corrosive magics, Zanar knew the war was lost and that Abyal and his followers would soon wipe them out to the last. There was but one hope, and that was to face his brother, plead for peace, and failing that end the war by slaying him in single combat. But Abyal, fearing a trap, would not have it. When Zanar and his remaining followers showed, Abyal attacked, unleashing magics he gained from the Great Beyond. Zanar and his followers made the desperate act of using the life energy of Ja to defend themselves, not realizing what they faced. The resulting release of power shattered the planet in two. The hemispheres drifted apart, although still joined by a thin astral cord linking one half of the core to the other.
What was once the surface of the Ja, paradise in all its glory, was scoured clean by the onrushing astral winds. In the devastation some of the Ajir were flung into the Great Beyond, the remainder were sucked into the newly created void between the two hemispheres. This void quickly filled with a substance carried by the astral winds, and was separate and apart from the Great Beyond. Floating amongst the wreckage within this astral space the last of the Ajir, now dying, looked in awe upon the tiny remnants of their former world. The magic that was Ja even now sought to survive, as shards of life formed crystal spheres to protect them from the harshness of the astral winds. These spheres enclosed tiny worlds — small echoes of what once was. Those few remaining Ajir used the last of their powers to seed what shards they could with sentience and purpose, so that life would arise in their image, and they would not be forgotten.
The Ajir then died, one by one, until only Zanar and Abyal remained. Both weak and near death, they went their separate ways — following the tether of energy linking the two halves of what remained of Ja. When they reached what was left of the opposing hemispheres, and stood within the shell of their world, they each expended their remaining power. Zanar recreated a small portion of the paradise of Ja and infused it with his very life. Abyal plunged the other half into the Great Beyond, opening a doorway to the Abyss. With his last energy, he used the tether between the two hemispheres to channel the dark energies released in order to corrupt his brother’s creation. Then both of the brothers, the last of the Ajir, died.
From the new paradise created by Zanar on what was until then the center of Ja arose the Zan. Powerful they were, but mere children when compared to the now extinct Ajir. The magic that recreated the paradise of Ja infused these new gods with the memories of Zanar, and they called their land Zanara. But not all of Zan were good, the corruption of Abyal took hold of many, and the conflict began anew. But through Zanar’s wisdom the magic of Zanara expelled the corrupted Zan and they were forced to flee along the tether. When they came to the doorway to the Great Beyond created by Abyal, the portion of Ja submerged within the Great Beyond emerged as if it had been waiting for them — only now it was infused with a dark energy and cleansed of all that had been Ja. There the corrupted Zan built the cavernous hell that mortals would one day call the Abyss.
But the evil that filled the hearts of the corrupted Zan strove them to conflict, and soon they fought amongst themselves over who would rule. Factionalized and covetous, they looked to the worlds within the Astral Sea, and saw in them souls to build armies and power their magics. The Zan too saw this, and feared for the mortal souls. Using the power of Zanara, they turned the tether into a conduit to draw in the souls, and pull them up in a river of life energy to Zanara where they could rest.
In response the Lords of the Abyss sent minions to travel the Astral Sea to harvest the souls of the dead before they reached this River of Souls. Then the Abyssal Lords themselves sent their influence to the material worlds to corrupt the souls of the living, and create the dark cults and priesthoods we know today. Also, not all sentient life was created by the good Ajir, some of the former followers of Abyal created dark reflections of themselves, and this life was seeded to new planets. The Lords of the Abyss sent demons to attack Zanara itself, riding the current of the tether between the Abyss and Zanara.
So successful was the harvesting, and so numerous were the demons forged from the souls of the damned, that the Zan were hard pressed to survive. In response, they gave the most righteous of souls the choice to fuse into powerful archons, and built their own army to fight off the demons and devils and protect the souls within the Astral Sea. Furthermore they sent their influence to the mortal worlds too so that their magic could help against the evils of the Abyss, and heal and cleanse the lands.
Thus the conflict between Zanara and the Abyss continued though the ages…