There's a whole bunch of references here to races and whatnot. I'm sure not all of it will make sense (I mean it does to me, but I wrote the thing) but check out the previous entries on the people of Husk over HERE (Part I) and HERE (Part II).
The true nature of the beginning of things will never be known. At this point the boundary between legend and myth is blurred, and it becomes a matter for theological debates and creation theories. This ignorance can be attributed to the Viperium’s policy of erasing and altering the evidence to give the illusion of their pre-eminence – while modern historians have long been aware of this activity, they are yet to uncover any sign of alternate histories. The Viperium, it seems, was very thorough. Evidence suggests that most of the known sentients existed prior to the formation of the Viperium. The Schwierling and the Guruun, with their exceptional lifespan and extraordinary oral traditions, state that there were a number of different civilizations in existence prior to the Viperium. They are yet to be proved either way.
c.7,000-5,000 YEARS AGO
DAWN OF THE VIPERIUM - THE VIPERIUM ERA
The coming of the Viperium was to have ramifications throughout all layers of Orb society, history, technology and culture. How they came to such Orb-spanning power in such a short time is not known, although most historians suspect their ability to mentally control the whims and actions of others was the key to their success. By manipulating enemy against enemy it is easy to see how they would have risen to absolute control. The official Viperium doctrine is that they were granted custodianship over all of the Orb by the gods that had spawned them, and with such a mandate they exercised their beliefs with impunity. Naturally any questioning of the above statement would have been heresy in their time – they truly believed (and encouraged others to believe) that they had descended from heaven, and were to live as gods in this lowly realm.
During the reign of the Viperium almost all other sentient species were enslaved, their lives controlled and manipulated to serve the Viperium’s needs. The Viperium maintained the belief that all of the sentients were actually created by the Narghwans, and encouraged the others to worship them as their creators. Several peoples did escape enslavement, namely the Schwierlings, who were only discovered to exist long after the fall of the Viperium, but who’s memories stretch back to the times before the Rise of the Nargwhans; the Guruun, who minds could never be dominated; and the Bhulkulbs, who the Viperium seem to have regarded with some caution, considering them a power of equal magnitude. Naturally the hated Ehluri were never counted as one of the Viperium slaves, as they did not Emerge until recently. Perhaps it is this lack of a common oppressor that singles out the difference between the Ehluri and the Children of the Narghwa - most other races share an understanding that while they are very different, the ancient memory of enslavement means they would never force their power onto another. It is obvious that the Ehluri have no such qualms.
c.5,000 YEARS AGO
THE VIPERIUM ESTABLISHES CONTROL OF THE ORB
Once the Viperium had destroyed or controlled all other enemies they were free to grow in power and dominance. Led by the Six Narghwan Queens, Viperium society quickly spread across the Orb, assimilating local cultures and beliefs, enslaving all beneath them. The culture of the Viperium was a regimented caste system, a pyramid structure with the gargantuan Narghwan Queens the pinnacle of society. Beneath them were various castes of Narghwans, decreasing in size but gaining in number the further down the social ladder they were. Beneath the Narghwans were the servitor races, the Children of the Narghwa who complied with every whim of their masters. There was no supreme Narghwan Queen - instead they fought bitter battles between one another, either in open warfare or courtly intrigues. Occasionally one would assume a position of superiority over the others, but such was their jealousy and envy that the others would band together to overthrow the superior Queen. Such alliances were short-lived.
The names of the Narghwan Queens were Calishe, Djakarshi, Gharda, Harioc, Sinvashi and Vinvasleen. Each ruled the lands that still bare their name, as well as the surrounding territories. As the power of each Queen waxed and waned their dominions grew and shrivelled, but no Queen was ever ousted from her homeland, save Vinvasleen, whose palace was destroyed in the last days of the Empire by the Verilha Sunfall, which also claimed the life of Queen Gharda. The seat of Narghwan power was in the metropolis of Serpentia, the pinnacle of Narghwan culture. While it lay within the realms claimed by Djakarshi, it was an independent territory and remained so throughout most of the Viper Age. In Serpentia the Narghwan Queens would meet to discuss matters of state or to enjoy Serpentia’s luxuries, engage in duels and enforce control over the Viperium. At several times during the reign of the Viperium Serpentia was nearly destroyed by warfare between the Queens.
COMMUNICATIONS AND TRADE STRENGTHEN THE VIPERIUM
There were two factors that held this precarious Empire together - firstly, the development of rapid communications across the Viperium. Given the physical structure of the Orb, any point on the Orb’s surface is visible from nearly everywhere else within the Orb, as long as astronomical bodies do not interrupt the line of sight. The use of light signals to communicate to other parts of the Orb possibly pre-dates the Rise of the Viperium, however the Viperium put this communication to its most effective use. One of the first projects undertaken by the Viperium was the establishment of a vast network of colossal Lighthouses that would shine various signals at one another, thereby communicating messages across the Viperium. At first the process was simple but lengthy task of spelling out each letter in the transmission, but over time more complicated techniques evolved, combining the use of different coloured lights and arrays of beacons. The only drawback to using the Signal Lights was its restriction to night-time operation, and even then, if enough Suns were still in the Aether, communication became nigh impossible. Communication was also aided by the standardisation of language and mathematics. The great Goilnoi mathematician Galshasi, inspired by the prevalence of the number 6 in Nargwhan society and their caste structure, developed a base 6 mathematical system which he then applied to a number of sciences including astronomy, cosmology, geography and chronology; the Huen Quillingis, who was Galshasi’s symbiotic host and follower, went on to apply the base 6 structure to language and economics, standardising currency and trade and developing the Sjeshisk, the phoenetic written equivalent of the Sisarsul (also known as the Forked Tongue). The hope of Quillingis was that anyone from any realm within the Orb would be able to communicate with anyone else. With its adoption by the Viperium as the state language, Quillingis’ dream was realised.
The second factor that strengthened the Viperium was the need to feed the Narghwans and their vassals. All Narghwans feed off creativity, but while the lower Narghwan castes needed only to consume ideas and thoughts, leaving their victim docile and stupid for but a short time, the vast and insatiable hunger of the Narghwan Queens would drain the very creative soul of any they drank from. This had a number of consequences. The first was the establishment of a complex slave network that would ensure a steady supply of food for the Narghwans. This was overseen by the Bhulkulbs, who enjoyed enforcing this misery upon their stock. The partnership between the Bhulkulbs and the Narghwans grew, and they were accorded near equal status in the eyes of the Viperium. In time, as the Narghwans’ palates demanded a broader selection of tastes and their hunger demanded a greater number of victims, the Bhulkulbs’ slave network expanded to every continent on the Orb. The demand for greater numbers led to the establishment of breeding programs that ensured a ready supply of stock as needed, and the Children of the Narghwans grew great in number. Fashionable tastes led to the cultivation of unusual and exotic breeds within each species. The species known as the Huens in particular formed the staple diet of the Narghwans, for their creativity, rapid breeding, and easily manipulated biology stood them out from other species. This predilection for creating various subspecies of Huens accounts for their many and varied forms today. Often though the Bhulkulbs would instead devour the flesh of their victims, but not before tearing out their soul and feeding them to the burgeoning Viethie technology, where by severed souls were implanted into mechanical creations, giving them the ability to function where no living thing was able.
Not all of the Children of the Narghwans were destined to be fodder. Each species was cultivated to fulfil a particular niche within Narghwan society. Each species was moulded to suit their masters’ needs, and their needs were many. To aid in the flow of slave stock massive efforts were made to ease transport across the Orb. Incredible roadworks were made across the continents, but these then gave way to flying vessels that filed the Aether with their traffic. Then these too were made obsolete, for a unique method was developed that provided near instantaneous transport to anywhere in the Orb.
(Part II tomorrow!)