Legends of Pandaria
The Gods War
The Conjunction of the Million Spheres melded a huge number of worlds. The known world combined with others - both very similar and vastly different - to form the present world of Pandaria (still known, to many, as Earth).
With landscapes and natural laws radically changed, both physically and spiritually, the inhabitants of the new world had to adapt and co-exist. However, many powerful entities whose interests clashed - the "gods" - would not do so.
The world-shattering conflicts which resulted are known as The Gods War.
During the Gods War period the lands and seas were changed, new races created, wiped out and warped by the gods to aid in their battles. Many gods were also slain, rendered powerless or even, it is said, 'absorbed' by others.
It is not determinable how long the Gods War lasted, as no trustworthy records survived the upheavals. There may have been many such peaceful interludes similar to that currently enjoyed, but no definite proof remains. Several conflicting histories have been theorized and extrapolated from scant evidence - any of which may be correct (or even all of them - due to the ramifications of the Conjunction). In any case, reckoning of time during the Gods War is meaningless since the sun, moon and stars are said to have been absent, frozen and even reversed for considerable (subjective) periods.
It is conjectured that the Gods War is a continuing process, and that the eight thousand year interlude since the devastating Battle of Pesh is but a pause in the struggle. At any time the War may flare up again, ruining continents and slaying millions, destroying the old gods and setting new ones in their place.
The Battle of Pesh
The Battle of Pesh, where Law and Chaos contended, was the last recognizable event of the Gods War. The current epoch is held to have begun at it's end, and the Elven calendars began their count of years at that time.
Melkor, the evil elven god of darkness, desired to unmake the world and re-create it according to his will. To this end, he ignited great fires within the earth, seeking to cover all the lands with ash and molten rock.
Aule, lord of the underworld, sensed this and raised up mountains over the fires to smother them - but the fires Melkor had made were too great for Aule alone to put out.
Responding to the call of his fellow Vala, Ulmo, lord of the seas, came from the West to quench the fires of destruction.
But the Lords of Chaos interfered - twisting the decree of Aule that raised mountains, they raised mountains to block the Lord Ulmo. Thus were created the cragged and warped Chaos Lands.
The Lord Ulmo and his quenching waters broke through, at the Clashing Rocks, but - at the same moment - Melkor and his destroying fires escaped, blasting mountains of lava, flame, dust and ash into the sky!
Manwe, lord of air and King of the Valar, intervened. He forbade the forces of the air from carrying the debris abroad. Thus only the land of Muspelheim was smothered, choked, burned and devastated.
Lord Aule delved beneath the Burning Mountains of Muspelheim, allowing the waters of Lord Ulmo to quench most of the fires below. But to this day the waters of Ulmo still flow down through the Whorl to quell the raging inferno.
The gods summoned their mortal servants to battle.
The Wind Dukes of Aaqua flew over Muspelheim to aid the Valar, but the Lords of Chaos twisted Lord Manwe's decree so that no force of air may cross the borders of Muspelheim. Thus the Wind Dukes were trapped over that desolated realm. They tried to defy the Ban of Chaos by flying through the Storms Edge to join the fray. But as they did so, their airborne country exploded - showering the lands with huge boulders and a large part of the Dwarven army assembling below was crushed. The Dwarves, believing this to be elven treachery, turned on the Elf armies on the ground. The evil Hobgoblins gleefully joined in against their hated enemies, the Elves, but the other forces of Chaos stood with the outnumbered Elves against the Lawful Hobgoblins and Dwarves. The Lords of Law entered the battle to oppose the Lords of Chaos. The Valar were obliged to fight beside the Lords of Chaos in order to defend the Elves, and since that time the Dwarves have only respected Lord Aule, whom they call Mahal the Maker, who was resting from his labours and did not fight. Melkor brought his forces against the Valar and so fought on the side of Law.
Thus the battle came to be fought between the forces of Law and Chaos, rather than of Good and Evil.
The Arch-Lich Vecna
Seldom is the name of Vecna spoken except in hushed voice, and never within hearing of strangers, for legends say that the phantom of this once supreme Lich still roams the Material Plane.
Vecna's origins were obscure, but it is probable that he was one of the first and greatest of human Wizards, taught the art of Magic by the Elves during the Great War against the Goblin Horde.
However, VEcna was certainly by far the most evil. By perverting his arts in unwholesome ways, he was able to maintain his physical existence beyond death, achieving a horrible form of immortality. Down the ages since that time, other evil wizards have followed his methods and similarly sacrificed their souls to become liches.
Vecna used his unnatural lifespan to riser through the Shamanic hierarchies and gain authority over several of the Barbarian tribes of Kymeria. With this power base, he conquered the rest of the Kymerian Isles and founded the Empire of Woe. Over the following centuries, the Empire of Woe came to dominate most of the known world. Vecna ruled the Empire of Woe through sheer terror. Subjects were forced to worship him and make awful sacrifices as he tapped their power in an effort to become a god. The appalling horrors of his rule are best not mentioned.
When Vecna grew in power he appointed a most ruthless lieutenant to serve as his bodyguard and right hand. This henchman was the famous Lord Kas. For him, Vecna found a weapon of potency: a Sword of dull grey metal, having unsurpassed hardness and with sharp point, keen edges and powerful magical properties. There can be little doubt that Kas became the most renowned swordsman of his age because of it.
Legend says that the destruction of Vecna was by Kas and his Sword, but at the same time Vecna wrought his rebellious servant's doom - and the world was made brighter thereby.
The Hand and Eye of Vecna
It is certain that when Vecna finally met his doom, one hand and one eye survived.
The Eye of Vecna is said to glow in the same manner as a that of a feral creature, but that it appears to be a gemstone (an eerily-glowing agate) until it is pressed into the empty eye-socket of a living creature.
Tales say that the Hand of Vecna appears to be a mummified extremity, a blackened and shrivelled hand, possibly from a burned body. If the wrist portion is pressed against the stump of a forearm, it will instantly graft itself to the limb and become a functioning member with a grip of surpassing strength.
The Arch-Lich supposedly imbued both his Hand and his Eye with wondrous and horrible powers, which enabled them to persist long after his other remains mouldered away into dust.
The Empire of Woe
The first and greatest Empire of Woe was built by the Arch-Lich Vecna.
Vecna was a shaman of the Kymerian Barbarian tribes. By unnaturally extending his lifespan he was able to rise through the hierarchies to achieve supreme executive power over several tribes at once. He used these tribes to conquer the rest of Kymeria, which was then renamed the "Isle of Woe".
Vecna declared the Empire of Woe when his conquest of Kymeria was complete, in 264BT. The Empire dominated the northwest and, over the following 350 years, spread south and east to cover most of the continent.
All opposition was brutally eradicated in a continuous pseudo-religious reign of terror. Whole tribes were dispossessed and driven from their homelands. Most others were subjugated and forced to worship Vecna himself as their "God-Emperor".
For hundreds of years Vecna ruled the Empire of Woe by the power of his hand, and through a network of Temples and a hierarchy of Mage-Priests dedicated to his worship. The Mage-Priests conducted the services, punished reluctant worshippers, exacted the tithes of goods and children, choosing those to suffer sacrifice and invoking the power of Vecna himself to claim his terrible toll. Dark agents roamed abroad making gruesome examples of those who did not attend service. The evil power of the Arch-Lich Vecna, God-Emperor of Woe, was an ever-present threat in the lives of millions of ordinary people for many generations.
Then one morning it was gone.
Vecna was slain. Assassinated, so it was later said, by his lieutenant Lord Kas, who had been urged to the deed by his supernatural Sword, but who was himself killed in the act - the Lich's last victim. The year was 96TR. The Empire of Woe fell apart almost overnight.
The Second Empire of Woe
With the Fall of the Arch-Lich, the Mage-Priests had lost the root of their power. Internal successional strife erupted in the homeland of Kymeria and various factions recalled the legions over which they had influence. All mainland provinces rose in rebellion to throw off the yoke of the Mage-Priests and their artificial religion. Only in Mercania did the imperial forces manage to keep control. Bitter conflict wracked the Isle of Woe for the following ten years.
Then, in 106TR, the High Wizard-Priest Yagrax seized power and declared the Second Empire of Woe. Yagrax had discovered a huge magical tome, and used it's arcane properties to gain supremacy over his rivals. The Imperial Governor of Mercania - a lich of considerable powers himself - refused to recognize Yagrax as Emperor however, and declared his own "Kingdom of Wyrd" (which survives to this day).
Over the next sixty years, Yagrax's new Empire re-established control over some of the lost provinces on the mainland, in northern Chaubrette and Kurland. But this was just a small fraction of the old Empire's territory.
Finally, in 172TR, Yagrax unwittingly unleashed unholy powers by the use of the Tome and brought doom upon his tyrannical domain. In a disaster known as The Cataclysm, the Isle of Woe was engulfed and sank beneath the waters of the Nyr Dyv. Many coastal provinces were also inundated, particularly those which had been re-conquered. This was the final blow and the Empire of Woe was destroyed - forever.
The Ancient Kingdom of Melderyn
The Kingdom of Melderyn was founded by Erebir Pendragon in the year 1TR. (The Tuzyn Reckoning of years was instituted then by Tuzyn, High Priest of the new state and adventuring companion of Erebir, to commemorate the event).
Erebir's tribe originally hailed from Kymeria but was exiled for it's opposition to the evil lich and his minions. Later, as the Arch-Lich's Empire of Woe expanded, the tribe was driven further and crossed into the mist-shrouded and mysterious land of Pandaria. There the tribe initially prospered, as the lands seemed uninhabited but for few superstitious primitives. But one day came emissaries from the self-styled rulers of the region - the Anura, or 'Swamp-Lords' as the natives called them. These degenerate humans demanded tribute - living sacrifices and other blasphemous worship for their vile god. The tribe refused. The Swamp Lords sent wave upon wave of disgusting monsters to plague the exiles, to drive out or destroy them. It was a war of attrition which went on for several years - and which the tribe of exiles was gradually losing. Erebir, then a young and adventurous warrior of his tribe, set out with several companions to find a means of victory. They discovered, to their cost, that the stronghold of the Swamp Lords was virtually impregnable: infested with thousands of the most unspeakably vile monsters and actually occupied by the Anurans's blasphemous frog-god!
After many more adventures, including Erebir earning his title by the slaying of a dragon, the companions discovered a land where they could successfully protect the tribe against the whatever eldritch horrors their enemies could send. Lord Erebir Pendragon returned to his tribe and, fighting off more assaults all the way, successfully led them to the new land - the land of Melderyn. The tribe proclaimed Erebir their King and so was the Kingdom of Melderyn founded.
During the following decades, all further attacks by the Swamp Lords were soundly defeated. But they did not stop. After many years (in 51TR) the venerable King Erebir forged an alliance with the Dwarven and Elven kings and, with powerful magical aid, their combined armies launched an attack against the Swamp Lords stronghold. The attacking armies suffered terrible losses and all three kings were slain. But they succeeded.
The kings reached the chamber of the frog-god and Erebir himself dealt the beast a mortal blow before he died. In the agony of it's death throes, the unholy creature destroyed the stronghold and killed most of it's own evil priests. The insensate beast then fell back into the pit of slime whence it had crawled aeons before and plunged to it's death. The power of the Swamp Lords was broken. Peace and sanity came to the lands of Dwarves, Elves and Humans.
Erebir's son Hadric was also killed with him at the destruction of the Temple of the Frog, and therefore his grandson, also called Erebir, became King Erebir II of Melderyn, taking the family name of Pendeus to honour his grandsire's heroic deed.
The Invoked Devastation
Hundreds of years ago (in 761TR) a Goblin Horde from the East invaded the devil-worshipping Kingdom of Gash. To destroy the invaders the Steel King of Gash, an alien autocrat, invoked the patron deity of his realm - Tiamat, Queen of the First Plane of Hell and Mother of All Evil Dragonkind. She responded. Throughout the world, Tiamat's scattered children awoke from their slumbers and flew, as one, to destroy the Goblin armies.
The goblins were soon routed and slaughtered - but the dragons then continued to ravage and slay across the world.
This disaster became known as the Invoked Devastation. People of many races were killed, many towns destroyed and entire countries held to ransom during the Dragons' reign of terror. The full fury of the Invoked Devastation lasted only a decade or so, but sporadic echoes continued for a century. The Kingdom of Gash and the lands of the south-east bore the brunt of the destruction. Bahamut, the Platinum Dragon, sent many of his good dragons to do battle with their evil brethren. Many heroes arose to combat the great beasts and attempt to drive them off. Gradually, the Dragons became sated and, one by one, returned to their slumbers.
The Protectorate of Pandaria
During the time of the Invoked Devastation, the Kingdom of Melderyn extended it's protection to the disparate states in the basin of the great Thard River system, the region known as Pandaria (or 'Land of any Bridges', in the old native language).
In return for largely nominal fealty to the throne of Melderyn, the other states (Kaldor, Rethem, Chenat and the Thardic Republic) gained the benefits of powerful magical defence provided by the Wizards of the Mages City of Cherafir, the capital of Melderyn.
Thus was formed the Protectorate of Pandaria.
The Melderyni Guild of Arcane Lore was subsequently established throughout Pandaria to develop the magical abilities of talented individuals of every country in the region, and to provide magical services to any locals able to afford them.
Specialist mystical advisors, known as the Lord Viziers, were also made available to the rulers of the various states. Some resented the Lord Viziers as symbols of foreign (Melderyni) interference, but were confounded by the fact that they were, without exception, bumbling and amiable old fools with an uncanny knack of giving excellent and timely advice. Also, with the spread of the Guild of Arcane Lore, they are now usually natives of the region concerned.