The Eth Empire

Originally posted

The sands sing of empire

From the journal of Zevia Rafique, Eth scholar of antiquities

While digging in the ruins of Shimmersand, I unearthed an ornate brass plate of ancient Eth design. Upon exposure to small amounts of refined sourcestone, the plate unfolded into a series of free-floating rings that spun in midair and spoke our people’s history, thus:

In the desert, nothing should live long, and yet we persevered. Ours were the ways of sun and sand, riding by night, cutting water from the cactus and fighting over oases. Always we studied sorcery, a spell to bring the rains or find shelter from the sun, or slay the beasts who struggled with us to thrive amid the dunes.

We wandered in thirteen tribes, settling rarely. Even in this wandering age, our few cities were beautiful: Fortune’s Shore glittering on the coast like a lost diamond on a beach, and Charmed Eboni with its impenetrable walls.

But most Eth roamed the sands, so the dragons fell upon a divided people. The Golden Maw infiltrated Eboni and subverted it from within, and so we called it the Charmed City only with bitter tongues. We fought like desert tigers, slashing with talons and fangs and vanishing back into the sands, but the dragons were too terrible.

It was one of the Mkhai tribe who first drew energy from sourcestone, inspired by the ways the planes warp and change Telara to see the vast magic within the stone of creation. Building upon this breakthrough, we crafted engines of war to turn upon the dragons.

How they roared when our engines burned their armies to lakes of sludge, turned their champions into crystal statues, even singed the scales from the dragons’ mighty shoulders. We pushed the Blood Storm back across the desert, sealed many of them in tombs inescapable, and aided in banishing awesome Regulos.

And then we beat our swords to plowshares, turned the engines of war into machines of prosperity. We made the desert flower, raised roads of glass above the sand, and built towers that scraped the scorching sky.

Kings and colleagues

As our society bloomed, each of the tribes settled in a great city, bound together with oaths of confederacy. Mkhai stood unmatched in harnessing sourcestone. Khaliti was the city of craftsmen, peerless even among the Dwarves. In Arkeen, we Eth worked wonders with life itself, and great Catari shone above all the rest.

A sorcerer-king ruled every city, ally and peer to his fellow kings, each free to explore the reaches of possibility as they saw fit. In polished sandstone towers, amid the thunder of great machines, these geniuses crafted tiny worlds of living diamond, enslaved the paragons of the planes, and built weapons that could slay bloodlines with a flick of the wrist.

Convocation and collapse

At Redoubt we held the Convocation, for—

At this point, the narration on the rings changes subtly. Where her pronunciation is normally consistent with Arkeenian speech patterns, it here seems to fit the Catari dialect. – Zevia Rafique

—for a great evil had infected Eth society. The dragon cults had infiltrated every level of our wonderworks, and drastic measures were needed to keep them from corrupting the science of plenty and peace, bringing all Telara to its knees. The sorcerer-kings voted, and with tears streaking their pleated beards, they cast the Convocation.

Here the speaker returns to her original Arkeenian cadence. Certain inflections are drastically different, as if the piece in Catari dialect was somehow recited by a different speaker. – ZR

A wave of vengeful magic washed over our beloved cities, silencing machines, snuffing every eldritch light. Glass roads cracked and shattered, magical wells went dry, and the cities of the Eth—centers of an empire that stretched across the deserts and beyond—sank below the slithering sands.

Without our glorious magitech, we returned to wandering the deserts. Our former subject peoples reviled us and would not take us in, so we took shelter with our noble allies, the Bahmi.

During our empire’s final days, tribes of unwashed brutes came down from the northern mountains. Loving the gods as fiercely as they hated science, these Mathosians would build an empire of order but no wonder.

And the wonders of the Eth lay dead beneath the sand, waiting to answer the call of any who love progress above superstition.

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