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Autochthon - The World of Brass Shadows
The Great Maker is dead, and his sleep troubles the dreams of the world. The Deathlords have destroyed him, and the dead world that was once a great Primordial now serves as the staging point for the war against Creation. From the Maker, the Deathlords plot their plots and prepare for the destruction of everything.
The Deathlords entered Autochthon in the last days of the Ashen Crusade, slipping through the Seals of the Eight Divinities into all of the nations of Autochthon. They brought with them their handpicked ghostly servants, and set up in the Far Reaches. Distracted by their war against Creation, Autochtonia did not realize the new threat until it was too late; using all of their power, the Deathlords launched a lightning attack on Autochthon's crystal core, as they brought their full supernatural powers to bear. The Alchemicals began to mobilize, but the Deathlords had slipped past every layer of their defenses.
Within Autochton's crystal core, the Deathlords struck with vicious power, shattering his godhead and destroying him. The shockwaves spread through Autochthon, shattering soulgems and bringing about the instant deaths of most of the mortals present. They spread through the eight gates, creating shadowlands a hundred miles across in eight seperate locations. The net result was the almost complete destruction of the Autochthonian people, with the exception of those who had already settled in Creation.
The Deathlords continued to move, raising armies of ghosts from the millions of dead in Autochthon to finish off the survivors and destroy every Alchemical they could find. A few Soulsteel Alchemicals, badly transformed by the death of the Maker, even joined forces with the Deathlords against their former comrades. Within months, it was over. The Deathlords controlled all of Autochthon. The Divine Ministers, who had been dragged to the Labyrinth along with their master, were summoned forth and transformed into soulsteel in order to prevent them from finding a way to awaken their Malfean god. Only two escaped - Debok Moom, Minister for War, and Kadmek, Minister of Design. The Deathlords still don't know where those two ministers have gone, and their continued existance remains a threat.
More recently, the Deathlords have made a pact with the Yozi - in exchange for fifty Solar Essence Shards, they gained the means by which to corrupt Solar Shards. They attempted to steal all of the Shards, but were able to acquire only 150; the rest were released into the world. Now, a hundred Abyssal Exalts join the score or so of Soulsteel Alchemicals that already serve the Deathlords as dark champions. With this new power, the Deathlords hope to be able to finally break Creation, and usher the world into darkness.
Autochthon is not what he once was. In his death, his entire world has been transformed into something darker. For all intents and purposes, all of Autochthon is now considered to be the Underworld, and can only be reached from Creation at night, through the Gates of Charon (which used to be the Seals of Eight Divinities). These Gates open to the former eight nations, each of which has become a domain of the Deathlords.
Within the Elemental Pole of Despair, the ghosts of the dead toil endlessly for their new Malfean masters. The former Elemental Pole of Metal is now the domain of the dead, and has been divided into thirteen regions, one for each Deathlord. Of course, the Deathlords that control the Gates have far larger domains than the rest.
The rest of Autochthon is transformed as well. The Elemental Pole of Oil has become the Elemental Pole of Sorrow, and the creatures that swim its waters moan their sadness and displeasure to those who come to steal the power of the dead god. Oil is darker than before, and its waters sometimes bring about melancholy. Those who enter this pole must roll Conviction once per hour, or be unable to act due to sorrow.
The Elemental Pole of Smoke, in some ways, has changed the least. Now known as the Elemental Pole of Fear, those who find themselves trapped in its choking depths soon panic and lose their way, devoured by the strange creatures that lurk within its gray depths. Anyone who braves this Pole must roll Valor every hour, or be lost to panic.
The Elemental Pole of Lightning has grown more violent than ever. As the Elemental Pole of Rage, its raw power strikes out with greater force against anyone who dares enter its domain. The damage that it inflicts now also causes anyone within it to lose a number of motes per turn equal to their Essence rating; mortals take an extra level of aggravated damage.
The Elemental Pole of Steam still boils, but its power seeks out those who enter it. The Elemental Pole of Hate is more insidious than other poles, and those within it must succeed at a Temperance roll each hour or else will begin to act against their enemies. Those who die here are revived as spectres, and sent back into the Pole of Despair to hunt down and destroy other ghosts.
Finally, there is the ruin of the Godhead. The Elemental Pole of Crystal has been shattered; a vast forest of razor-sharp glass becomes a shattered staircase down to Oblivion, as the Pole of Oblivion connects directly to the Labyrinth. This is the most dangerous place in Autochthon, as all the dangers of the Labyrinth lie in wait here.
Were Autochthon to awaken in his death, the world would change again, for he was slain in his sleep, and he has not woken yet. Unlike the other Malfeans, he has no hatred of Creation; instead, his vitriol would be directed at the Malfeans and their servants, and his world would not be a safe place for the Deathlords to live. He would not precisely be an ally of Creation, but he would neither be an enemy.
The Deathlords rule Autochthon, but they are no more united because of it than the squabbling nations of the Shogunate. Eight Deathlords have seized the Seals, and the others remain in the Far Reaches, doing their best to gather power with no raw materials to work with. Listed below are the eight Deathlords who hold Seals; exactly what the other five are up to is left to the reader's decisions.
The First And Forsaken Lion</b>
The Lion rules the land once known as Yugash, which he has not bothered to name beyond rough military designations. Within, millions of ghosts labour to equip his growing army of ghosts and zombies, which he trains and drills endlessly as he seeks to find a way to conquer - other Deathlords or the land of the living, either would suffice. His gate opens to the west of Chiaroscuro, but they are wise to his designs, and he skirmishes only with them.
The Lion mostly considers the other Deathlords useless. He respects the Walker In Darkness, however, and has from time to time suggested a formal alliance. Although he still loves Princess Magnificant, he is furious with her for ruining his invasion of Chiaroscuro a hundred years ago, and has not so much as spoken to her in over ninety years.
<b>Princess Magnificant With Lips Of Coral And Robes of Black Feathers</b>
Arrogant and haughty, Princess Magnificant has yet to suffer any serious setbacks in her slowly unfolding plans to rule the world. She barely bargains with Creation, preferring to tell them in plain terms that her undead status is superior to their pale existance. Holding the old nation of Claslet, she brooks no insolence or initiative from her servants, instead demanding total obediance. She is on decent terms with Balmori, onto whose territory her gate opens, and Chiaroscuro, but it is barely her capability to restrain her contempt for these humans, and they are aware that she considers herself superior to them. This superiority means that she does not always examine events as closely as she should, as she is content to expand her powerbase conventionally.
<b>Eye And Seven Despairs</b>
Exactly what Eye And Seven Despairs is up to is anyone's guess. The Deathlord quietly marshalls his forces, trades openly with Chiaroscuro and its enemies, and seems to all intents to be content to gather favours that will be useless should he declare open war on Creation. Some suspect that he is taking the long road, giving Creation enough rope to hang itself. Eye And Seven Despairs uses few Abyssal servants, although the exact number of these, even, remains a secret. Having taken the Nurad Gate in the Southeast of Creation, Eye And Seven Despairs sits on the borders of Chiaroscuro and Deheleshen, as well as a few minor nations.
<b>The Bishop of The Chalcedony Thurible</b>
The Bishop is mad, and exactly what he believes and wants even he doesn't know. Having taken the Sova gate, the Bishop finds himself opposite Pangu, who have blockaded his Shadowland and seek to prevent anyone from entering it. Still, there are always those who seek Oblivion, and the Bishop's servants are always watching and hoping for new recruits into his dark cults. Despite this, the Bishop doesn't seem much to care, content to preach to his 'faithful' and stalk the depths of Autochthon.
<b>The Lover Clad In The Rainment Of Tears</b>
The Dark Lady of the North, the Lover remains one of the more powerful Deathlords due to her cunning strategems against New Estasia, whose Gate she lies behind. By giving free support to the rebels against New Estasia, the Lover promotes an image of herself as a freedom-loving lady, while increasing the deaths and chaos caused by both sides. She knows that even if New Estasia is overthrown, the rebels will not be able to hold to a single parliament, and stability will be replaced with death. In the meantime, she continues to appear as a kindhearted Deathlord, granting the gift of death to those who come seeking it, and eternal life to follow.
<b>The Bodhissatva Anointed With Dark Water</b>
The Silver Prince is the most active of the Deathlords. In addition to controlling Jarish in Autochthon, which serves as his primary base of power, he has the Skullstone Archipelago, in the centre of which his Gate lies. Skullstone is one of the thirty-one nations of the Western League, and the Prince is happy to use this political currency to stealthily discourage peace and prosperity in favour of misery and death. He also uses his position to mock the refugees from Jarish, secure in the knowledge that they can do nothing that will not advance his plans.
<b> The Walker In Darkness </b>
The Walker In Darkness remains a young and ambitious Deathlord, although his operations are necessarily cautious. A master of combat and a warrior-priest, he frequently slips out of Autochthon, either through the Labyrinth or through his Gate, and travels the world more often than any other Deathlord. He seeks always to convert others to the cause of death, and has made some gains in the Far East, where his Gate lies. From his base at Kamak, he spends much of his time trying to increase his own power without unduly jeapordizing the Malfean cause. He is currently suspicious of the Mask, and quietly sends his spies to learn what the Mask is up to; what he does not know is that the Mask has already infiltrated his forces, and knows of his investigations.
<b> The Mask Of Winters </b>
One of the Deathlords remains secretive above all others, and the Mask of Winters walks a dangerous line. For the Mask plots not only against Creation, but against his fellows, and his mania for conquest may destroy him.
Simply put, the Mask of Winters currently controls Kadmek, the Divine Minister of Design, and has summoned this last of the Great Maker's ministers without the knowledge of the other Deathlords. Using him, the Mask is plumbing the depths of Autochthon's knowledge, and seeks to raise an army of technological wonders. The Mask, in fact, has learned the secrets of crafting Alchemical Exalts, and has created a new batch of Soulsteel Alchemicals - he already controls fifteen of them, whose existance he is keeping very secret. Combined with his Abyssals, he hopes to use his new army to devastate Deheleshen, and move from there against anyone who dares to oppose him. The Mask has also experimented on using soul-tainting capabilities to create ghost-blooded Dragon-Bloods, and these Shadow Dragons now number in the low hundreds. Finally, he has slowly summoned and bound hekatonkhire, using them as the bulwarks of his soon-to-be invasionary force. He has, by far, the most powerful group of Essence users of any Deathlord.