The Tainting of an Empire
Tsaph Katta, Imperator of the troubled Combine, was holding a grand state banquet. Almost all nations and tribes were in attendance. The dwarven, gnomish and elven allies had ambassadors on hand as did the belligerent Tier’dal. Even the ogres and trolls were represented. All who received an invitation felt compelled to attend, such was the power and might of the Combine.
As the guests entered the banquet hall, Katta was there to receive them. One guest came with a smile on his lips and poison in his hand. He had dusted his glove with empolomine, a slow-killing, hallucination-inducing drug. This guest extended his hand as Tsaph welcomed him to the banquet. With this handshake, the fate of the Combine was changed.
Katta’s reaction was more rapid and violent than most and he collapsed during the dinner, appearing as one possessed. Possessed by evil, some muttered.
The banquet hall was cleared, and only a trusted few were allowed to remain. As Katta lay on the floor, dying, he spoke his last breath into the ear of his closest advisor, a fellow bard named Lcea. The druids then came and wove stasis spells to keep him alive, and put a sleep charm on him so that he would not have to endure pain or suffering. Then the elves of the forest came and took Tsaph away, to hide him within their realm so that no further attempts on his life would be possible.
As soon as word spread around the world that Katta was “dead”, the Combine broke into a thousand tainted pieces. The petty disagreements that had shattered the world before his coming resumed with even more passion. The elves continued to keep watch over the resting place of Tsaph Katta while a few loyal officials, led precariously by Lcea, fortified the Loyalists last remnants.
Lcea brought the brightest minds of the Loyalists together to decide on their grim future. Their situation on Norrath was precarious and any hopes of rebuilding here were dashed while all the infighting was still occurring. Gathered in a room together, exhausted by debate, they glanced, as one, upward through the darkness.
There, high in the evening sky, was the familiar sight of Luclin. But something was different about the moon this evening. It shone more brightly and with more detail than ever before. The rings wrapped the moon in fire as the waning sunlight pierced them. Beyond the rings, Lcea and others could see blurry cloud formations and sparkling reflections that hinted at bodies of water.
Lcea stood up and raised her hand to the moon, “That is where we will rebuild.”
The Great Exodus
And so it was decreed that Luclin would be the new home of the Loyalists. The Combine already possessed vast knowledge of teleportation. Using this knowledge on a grander scale would be the solution to their problem.
All they had to do was wait. In a few months Luclin would pass directly over the largest Combine spire located in Kunark, providing both the focus and the timing needed to complete this mystical feat.
If they failed, the Loyalists would fall and any hope of building their version of the Combine would be lost. It was essentially a costly, all-or-nothing attempt to save their way of life.
The night had come, and thousands had gathered to participate in perhaps one of the greatest magical events in mortal history.
Slowly Luclin approached its perigee. The mages began to chant and motion in the air. Glowing strands of mana poured from them, twined together, and circled the magnificent spires. A magical wind slowly picked up and swirled upward around the spires, taking the mana with it. With one last burst of magical energy, a great ball of light enveloped the spires and then exploded outward in a flash. A moment later, the light and everything it illuminated were gone.
The bright light had winked out, leaving nothing but a black void in its wake. Moments later, flickering lights began to appear all around as torches were lit. Above the refugees, where the fiery rings of Luclin should have been, was cold dark stone. They were not on the surface of Luclin, but deep in the center of the moon itself. The air grew heavy with tension and fear as thoughts of being trapped underground filled everyone’s head.
As fires were lit and magical light sources were set around the group, it became clear that they had been deposited in a vast cavern system located near the center of the moon.
Off to one side of the encampment on a stone island was a large black sphere of swirling mist. The sphere emanated a strong magical field that seemed to pull everything towards it. This sphere, they felt, was most likely responsible for the failed teleport to the surface.
But what was it? And what was its purpose?
Over the following weeks an encampment grew in the cave while scouts ventured into the surrounding caverns. They gathered as much information as possible about the cave system in hopes of learning more about their predicament. During this time they located several caves that extended upward towards the surface, though further exploration ruled most of them out as possible exits. Some were just too dangerous and lacked the resources needed to sustain life. Two, however, showed a lot of potential for supporting a civilization.
With the choice of which path to take narrowed down, another problem was encountered. A good number of those who had come to Luclin were now having second thoughts about leaving Norrath. Even if they managed to build an empire here, how would they return to Norrath to sow those seeds?
It was time for a decision to be made. Those who wished to develop a means of transport back to Norrath would stay in the caverns and those wishing to rebuild the Combine Empire on Luclin determined to go to the surface and do just that. Those remaining would be in considerable danger, as they feared the opposing elements of the fractured empire would surely have the ability to bring an army to Luclin. It was just a matter of time.
And so it happened. The majority gathered their belongings and joined the caravan to the surface. The remaining few set to the task of building a city and developing the necessary tools to create a working portal to Norrath.
A New Start
Those who remained below were few in number, less than a thousand, but in those few were some of the most skilled craftsman and brightest mages. They carved stone and minerals from the caverns to construct their homes and workshops. The mages researched and studied the black sphere in hopes of learning of its origin and inner workings. The area that held the sphere soon became known as The Nexus.
An Enemy’s Search
It happened sooner than expected. The air within the Nexus became electrically charged and mist began to swirl around the black sphere. Something was coming through. Within moments, an army began to arrive. Those who were researching the Nexus were on hand to meet the arriving army. Tensions were high between the two parties. Although the residents here no longer sided with the Loyalists, the new arrivals were unaware of that.
However, it seemed they were just as surprised to find someone on the other side of the portal. In addition, the people remaining at the Nexus had not been idle. Fortifications and guards prevented the newcomer army from simply seizing control of the area.
After a period of time, the officers of the invading army met with the officials of the Nexus. The people of the Nexus protested that they simply wanted to go back to Norrath and not get involved with the Combine dispute, and made this very clear. The new arrivals wished to chase down the remaining Loyalists and then to return to Norrath. They were shocked to learn that there was no way to return to Norrath as yet.
Not comfortable remaining in what was possibly enemy territory, the dedicated and committed members of the army set off to build a strong-hold of their own. They went opposite the way the Loyalists had gone. Building a new fortress, they would have time to organize and prepare to engage the Loyalists. Many were ordered to stay with those who were researching the Nexus, for the leader of the army refused to give up hope on returning to Norrath. And so the town numbers nearly doubled with the added researchers.
The newest residents of the underground city segregated themselves and created their own little settlement right next to the one already there. An invisible boundary was the only thing that separated them.
A Strong Foothold
The construction of the cavern settlement continued along with the research. As time passed, the differences between the two factions of researchers dissipated and they worked more closely together each day. Perhaps, they thought, only with a combined effort would they have a chance to reopen the portal to Norrath and return home. At this time, a number of families who had played important roles in either the construction of the city or in the research of the black sphere became very prominent in the city workings.
It was time to make their little settlement a city. A general council meeting was held with the heads of families and owners of shops attending. They elected a group of council members who would decide on a political structure for the city. Because of the diversity of those who came to the city and the different times at which they arrived, it was decided that a general council would run the city. A name was also chosen from a list of those proposed.
The word Fordel was a name taken from a family survived by only a widow. The entire family was lost in a scouting party during the first couple of months on Luclin. Previous to the loss, their family had been one known for great craftsmanship; they had played a vital role in the city’s original construction. For that, the community honored them by immortalizing their name in the city they helped construct.
The word Midst was taken from a long line of mages who researched the great portal on Norrath to bring them to Luclin and continued to this day on the research for a way to return. Many a mage carrying this family name had spent long hours probing and writing by candlelight in service to the community. For that, the community honored them in their city’s name.
The name was to be “Fordel Midst”, and it would ever be their haven from the shadows