The Holy Empire of Irath
The Irathan started as a small, primative collection of human tribes thousands of years ago. These men scraped out a meager existance in the jungles south of what is now Cetheron, on the shores of the warm waters of the inner sea. The climate was certainly favorable, but dangers were everywhere, in the form of powerful monsters and competing mortal races, primarily elves and lizardfolk.
What set the Irathans apart from their neighbors was a powerful mystic and spiritual tradition. They studied and named the stars and speculated upon the spirits of the world. They cast their voices out into the night, and eventually recieved an answer.
Bolstered by the first priests on Kathar, Irath spread north and west. They enslaved the elves of the southern jungles and tamed the wilds. Roads were cut into the terrain to speed the spread of settlers and missionaries across an increasingly large frontier, and cities sprung up along the way.
Little resisted Irath’s spread. The dragon ‘civilization’ in the Drakelands was a constant danger, if one that shrank each decade. The dark-skinned elves of Felarri, tired of attacks and endless waves of missionaries, went underground to escape their fate and focus on their arcane experiments. The scattered nomads and tiny settlements north of modern Dis were often more trouble than they were worth.
The only real rival for growing Irath came from he sprawling nation of Ishtar that dominated the entire south of the main continent. In that place the Priest-Kings found a nation with qualities much like their own. Smaller, perhaps, and far less populous, but ruled by stronger, older gods and with a demigod on the throne rather than ‘simple’ priests.
When war and conversion failed, and no way could be discovered to remove the interloper deities that were far more entrenched in Planar society, Irath simply decided to ignore the symptom and concentrate on the problem instead. Its gods were limited to a single world and its people worshipped imperfectly. Though wealth and ease was common in modern Irath, with miracles nearly a daily occurance and the stolen arcane sciences of the dark elves and dragons was flourishing, Irath after meeting Ishtar was far from a paradise. The Priest caste bent their considerable powers to forcing an ever more perfect devotion to the gods upon their people. Any slight, real or imagined, to the myriad gods was punished brutally. Portals were opened to bring in servants of the gods, and to send out missionaries into the infinite Planes.
Had Irath concerned itself with just its people and its slowly increasing importance in the greater cosmology of reality it might still exist. However, its crusaders still worked to subdue those few corners of Kathar not in its control. The diminishing race of dragons gathered in council. What was discussed or discovered there is known to only the eldest dragons, but clearly a plan was hatched. The dragons pooled their resources and gathered support as they could in the abused lower castes of Irath. They used stealth and subterfuge where they could to seal or destroy many portals, to sever the Priest-Kings from their most powerful forces. The dragons and their servitors burned their way through the cities nearest the Drakelands, which were already weakened by rising rebellion and discontent. However even elder dragons can find their match in the more powerful extraplanar servants of the gods, and in priests weilding torrents of holy fire. The attack seemed to grind to a painful halt and then slowly reverse.
The end of Irath happened in only a few days. Each day an increasing number of priests found prayers unanswered. The armies of benevolent and malign immortals called from outside Kathar began to vanish. The Irathan pantheon died quietly and mysteriously. The smug Sovereigns were clearly ready for it. Irath lingered for a year or two in ever shrinking pockets, but any chance for its survival died with its gods.
Three of Irath’s pantheon survived to modern day:
- Althe, the benevolent Goddess of Life and healing who ever dwelled among her children in the land that still bears her name, Althea. She always gave her gifts freely, even to the peoples that Irath trod underfoot. In respect for that the majority of the Sovereigns agreed that she would remain.
- Andorak, the Irathan God of Battle, was said to have survived by his own peerless skill against whatever slew the rest of the pantheon. The peace between himself and the Sovereigns is tenuous, at best. His followers live mostly in Khar’Irath, and in scattered hidden cults in the rest of the lands.
- Finally there was Zarash, the God of Time. Until two decades ago, he still existed, the constant enemy of the Sovereigns. The rumor had always been that he’d been slain over and over, but always reappeared, pulling himself from some earlier point in time. It seems, however, that his luck or skill ran out. Rumor was that the Althean hero, the companion of Prince Kharn, Laguna found a way to remove that thorn in the Sovereigns’ side.