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The Second Age
This timeline covers three major events; the Wyldwar, the Purges, and the Ashen Crusade.
The Contagion had been defeated, but Creation was not in the clear yet. As the Shogunate reeled, searching for the source of this plague which had so suddenly risen and fallen, the Fair Folk made their move. Not realizing that the great devastation they had been promised had not quite occurred, the Balorian Crusade swept into Creation, obliterating outlying towns before the Shogunate realized they were coming.
Faced with the greatest army they had ever seen, the Shogunate united. Old feuds were flung aside, and the Ten Thousand Dragons fought with all of their skill and power, reacting promptly and efficiently. The newly-united leadership, hoping to hold the outer regions of Creation, refrained from activating the Defense Grid, instead directing thousands of troops to every corner of the world, as armies clashed and the world dissolved. Lunars began hit and run tactics that killed off Fair Folk nobles by the hundreds, and the Sidereals found themselves working triple time trying to hold Creation together in the face of the sheer amount of chaos being wrought upon the Loom. Even the Dragon Kings, far in the East, began to find new hopes and dreams of martial prowess as they whetted their claws on Fair Folk flesh for the first time in centuries.
For almost six months, the Dragon-Blooded gave ground, step by step, fighting over every pebble and drop of water they relinquished. Finally, the Shogun decided that saving the regions of Creation created during the First Age was impossible. Some of the most powerful First Age weapons in the Shogunate arsenal were deployed against the Fair Folk, as the legions were given the order to evacuate the civilian population and fall back.
As the Fair Folk surged forwards, thinking that they had gained the upper hand and were guaranteed victory, the Shogun deployed the Realm Defense Grid. Trails of Essence arced through the air, cutting off the Fair Folk armies from retreat and then shredding them into sparkling motes. Everything within the range of the Grid was saved... but the Grid had power only over true Creation. The outer regions, painstakingly crafted over thousands of years in the First Age by Wyld-Shaping, were lost forever. But the bulk of Creation was spared from any major incursions, and the Shogunate was safe.
The Great Purge
Paranoia and fear gripped both the Shogunate and Heaven. The timing of the Contagion and the invasion were too close. Worse, gathered evidence showed that the Contagion had spread simultaneously from numerous locations; it was some sort of sorcerous work. The Shogunate, determined to prevent this from happening again, began to take steps, its leadership refusing to dissolve into their former feuds so long as this mysterious enemy remained at large. At first, it was subtle things; barbarian tribes with too much ancestor-worship found themselves the target of entire legions of soldiers, burning them to the ground. Yozi-worshippers in the backwaters of the world were rooted out and destroyed, stunned at the co-operation that the Dragon-Blooded were showing. But the fear continued to spread, and imagined enemies took the place of real ones, until the Shogunate, after almost fifty years, began to make true enemies.
In the West, Shogunate forces tracked down Bluehaven, annihilating the fledgling Lintha base in an attempt to wipe the pirates from the sea forever. A dozen Lintha ships escaped, however, their culture further contaminated as they began to spread through the West, accepting other pirates driven away by the Shogunate Navy. Although the Navy made life miserable for these pirate fleets, they held on, forcing the Navy to remain deployed, embroiled in a conflict that lasted for centuries, long after any of the original participants were dead.
In the North, the Legions marched across territories long sealed away by the Solars, posting guards to prevent any new forces from examining them and patrolling the area. In particular, they began to try to actively hunt Lunars, suspecting these Anathema of having created the Contagion. Shadowlands were closed, and the land began to seem quiet - until the Lunars, furious, struck back. As Shogunate leaders turned up dead, the Shogunate reinforced their position, transforming a stupid approach into a deadly defense, placing measures to try and capture Lunar infiltrators and counterattacking against mobile beastman hordes.
In the South, troops rode out into the deserts. The glorious nation of An-Teng was burned to the ground when the Shogunate decided that the Golden Lord bore too much resemblance to the Unconquered Sun of the Solar Anathema; dozens of Dragon-Blooded officers died mysteriously in the fighting, and the Golden Lord himself slew two Sidereals helping in the attack in fury before being bound and destroyed by many more, his Essence tied away into golden-tinted starmetal. His destruction shook the pillars of Heaven, for they had previously believed themselves safe from this purge; when the Unconquered Sun did not strike down the Sidereals for their heresy, all the spirits became afraid and walked softly.
In the East, the Shogunate marched through the riverlands, bringing ancestor worship to a heel and carrying on their doomed war against the Lunars. An early casualty was Ma-Ha-Suichi, whose beastmen were slaughtered by a fire that burned only flesh, spreading through the air, a great weapon of the Shogunate. Ma-Ha-Suichi's body was not found after the fighting, however, and periodic uprisings by various barbarian tribes continued to claim his patronage.
In Rathess, faded city of the Dragon Kings, the governer was given the order to dismantle the Temple of the Sun, as a relic of more dangerous times. When he went to do so, however, he knew not what he had started. The Dragon Kings flatly refused to allow him access, surprising the Terrestrial, who had been used to never having trouble from them. For their part, the Dragon Kings had had a taste of their old selves, and were unwilling to give it up. When the Terrestrial tried to use a show of force, hundreds of Dragon King warriors mobbed his unit and wiped it out. The Shogunate responded with troops, but found that they could not deploy their most powerful weapons against Rathess's old First Age defenses, that they could not land skyships against the Essence cannons of the sky towers, and that marches through the jungle tended to result in a lot of dead troops. Lunars supported the Dragon Kings, happy to see their old allies intact once again, and the Sidereals still felt enough old sympathy to refrain from wholesale assault; besides, they were on shaky ground after the death of the Golden Lord, and had no wish to fall completely by assaulting beings that many gods still thought well of. In the end, the Shogunate laid siege to Rathess, whose warriors sallied constantly, sharpening their skills and minds in conflict.
And so it went for centuries, as the Shogunate fought all comers, creating ever-more problems in their quest to end them. The Sidereals, blinded by the Great Curse, encouraged the Shogunate instead of restraining it, and its very existance began to become questionable; threatened from without, power struggles began to develop within as to what course of action to take, and both the Sidereals and the Shogunate began to fracture into competing factions.
And then came Autocthon.
The Ashen Crusade
Six hundred years after the Wyldwar, the Shogunate had not made any significant progress in its many wars. Indeed, Rathess was stronger than ever, the Lunars were now an active enemy instead of a neutral force, and the west teemed with pirates. Only in the South and the Blessed Isle itself were there any vestiges of peace and order. The Shogunate continued to react to each new blow with violence and stricter controls, trying to crush rebellions underfoot; but more rebellions were created by each failure. The Shogunate did not know, however, that a greater threat was on the horizon.
In the Year of the Salamander, Copper Era of the 9th Epoch of the Dragonblooded Shogunate, 593 years after the end of the Wyldwar, a Shogunate patrol in the Font of Mourning encountered a strange patrol of creatures with insectoid-like appearance, wielding crossbows and stranger technology. When the unknown beings were commanded to halt, they opened fire, and the unprepared patrol was forced to retreat, with heavy casualties.
Over the next few months, tales of other encounters began to escalate, and the Shogunate dispatched a legion to investigate. They discovered that entire towns were being captured and taken away, and that the mysterious soldiers were apparantly humans with access to technology previously unknown. The Shogunate reacted with terror at yet another invasion, and the legion marched to destroy the intruders. Penetrating deep into the swamp, the encountered a strange, metallic head, and began to lay siege to it. The invaders reacted with astonishing force, deploying strange, metallic beings with incredible magics against their opponents. Although the battle was long, the invaders were victorious. Yugash, great nation of the machine-world of Autochthonia, had won their first great victory in Creation.
Yugash harvested the artifacts of the Shogunate army, and demonstrated their effectiveness in an internal border skirmish with Sova. The other Autochthonian nations were stunned, and immediately began plans to open their own gates into Creation; with the Seal breached, it was now possible. Within a year, eight gates to Creation were opened; two in the South, one in the West, two in the East, one in the North, and two on the Blessed Isle itself. Although not every nation was, at first, hostile, the Shogunate was unable to differentiate Autochthonian nations apart, and reacted to each new incursion with full force. Soon, the nations of Autochthonia found themselves united against the Shogunate, as eight seperate battlefronts began to take shape. The Shogunate deployed many of their remaining First Age weapons against the invaders, and thousands of invaders were slain, but the invasion was too far along to be stopped. The Shogunate was determined to wipe these crusaders out, and the crusaders were rapidly discovering that a war of conquest was turning into a desperate struggle to survive. Only Yugash and Estasia managed to make any progress, establishing bastions and machine-cities in the North and the Southwest over five years of war.
In the midst of the fighting, however, a terrible blow was struck against the Shogunate. Eight years into the fighting Lunar elders, working in tandem, slipped into the Blessed Isle and managed to assasinate the entire leadership of the Shogunate in a single, devastating strike. Military, political, and buerocratic leaders were felled, dozens upon dozens of them, in a single day, and all of their immediate successors were slain in the same manner. The Shoguante reeled, and most of its military operations were left bereft, as were the regional governers. With the war raging, no one could agree on who should lead the nation, and Autochthon's children began to take advantage of the confusion, gaining ground once again and creating more beachheads, more machine-cities, more work camps and armed bastions in Creation. With no clear leadership, the Shogunate's troops were left to their own devices, and as the war pressed on, different areas of the world began to govern themselves more and more differently, unable to co-ordinate their actions or even agree on whether they were still of the Shogunate itself.
Ten years after the Crusade began, however, it ended with horrifying abruptness. The Deathlords had not been idle as the Shogunate warred. They had gathered what they could from the endless purges and the devastating war with Autochthon, and all thirteen of them gathered their forces and attacked the mostly loosely defended of the Gates. Piercing through into Autochthon, the thirteen powerful beings successfully drove through the spiritual defenses raised against them, and in a terrible display of might, unleashed their combined powers against Autochthon himself. The Great Maker, weak and catatonic, was slain by their massive power, and the shockwaves began to pulse through the world and towards Creation.
The nations of Autochthon were caught almost unprepared, and rushed to escape their world and seal the gates behind them. Panicking Autochthonians already IN Creation destroyed the gates as a wave of death-energy rushed towards them, trapping millions of Autochthonians within their dying master. Although the Gates were closed, they were not sealed, and numerous great Shadowlands spread through all eight gates, surrounding them with deadly fields scores of miles across. The Maker's soldiers were stranded in Creation; their capitals were now within Shadowlands, and the shattered remains of the Shogunate was still ready to take brutal revenge. The Ashen Crusade was ended in blood and death, and with it died the Second Age.