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“Gather round, yeh soft little Topsiders, and hear the story of the Great War and the Reckoning.  Don’t roll yer eyes at me! I know yeh all heard it before, ever since you was suckling at yer mother’s breast.  Well, gather round to hear it told right, by one who saw it all and lived to tell the tale.

Thirty years its been now, since the Reckoning came.  Thirty years since the great nations o’ Ark’Tammor fell and this wretched mob of survivors turned tail and fled the the sky, leaving the rest below to rot and die in the Wyrdmyst. Have yer kin ever told you of their home, of the folk they left behind? No, they didn’t, did they? No, they just got real quiet, and stared down into the Abyss. Well I’ll tell yeh, I’ll tell yeh what it was like.

See I was an airship captain, back when the beauties were still a marvel and a wonder, not the flying piles of stitched together flotsam barely held aloft by a handful o’ Wyrd Shards yeh see today.  Nah I had a real airship, “The Dancing Dragon,” with an air elemental summoned an bound into her hull. Traveled the continent, did I, from the Port of Dunpoli to the frozen wastes of Ulgath.  Thar wasn’t a city that I didn’t have a bunk in.

I seen the crystal spires of Elithium, the capital of the elves of Alkarenil.  Yeh think the elves are snooty now?  Yeh shoulda seen them before the Reckoning struck. Unconcerned with us mere mortals they were, unless their Naarvishi War Mages were wiping us out.  We didn’t know they had a whole nation o’ Drow under them that they were fighting, yeh wouldn’t know it now, but they’d been fighting each other since the beginning o’ time.  

But I be getting ahead of myself.    I’ve drank with gnomes in the mechanical wonder that was the Port City of Dunpoli, less than half me size, and I was still the one under the table when the night was out.  The things they could do with Whiskey. Ahh The rabble who tinker these days be a far cry from the brilliance of the Wizards and Artificers of the Togarai, so much was lost in the war.  

I seen the two Kingdoms of the Dwarves, the Sunken Towers of the Probashi Empire and the open market of the Melzakeen.  The Probashi never took kindly to outsiders, but with the right wares they’d unpucker their little assholes enough to give yeh a tour.  The sunken towers were a sight to behold, upside down, they were. Go fer miles into the the earth. But fer my merchant’s heart? Thar was nothing the dwarves could do that was grander than the golden domes of the Melzakeen Grand Market.   My Dragon could cross the sands and berth in the great white cliffs of Melzakeen in a day, outrunning the Creet Trader’s Land Skiffs by half a week. Not to speak poorly of the Little Folk,  I picked many a stout man an woman for me crew.   Halflings be a crafty lot, and can crew a ship with ease that comes from a lifetime spent on the deck.  Their only shortcoming, if you’ll bear a joke from an ol Captain, was thar skiffs were too chicken shit to leave the earth behind.  

Most of me days were spent in the realms of humanfolk, running goods between the great cities.  Dozens of them, all across the land, not the few floating garbage dumps yeh call cities today. I traded with knights and the Dragonborn lords they served for fine Arran steel, when they let me near their castles and keeps.  I even saw their Dragon Queen, once, though rumors be she croaked in the Reckoning.  The Umar cities weren’t grand, but what they lacked in size they made up for in beauty.  Carved from living wood, they were, shaped by the Umari Shamans. The Shamans brought up molten fire from the earth to warm their bones, and keep the deathly chill o’ winter out.  

Me though? I be of Lothar, land o’ spell and sorcery.  Me brother was even a sorcerer, married to a Tiefling lass no less.  At least one in ten Lothari were Tiefling folk. The other nations might have claimed it were the Tieflings who unleashed the Wyrdmyst, but that be a load of hogwash.  Like them bastards who claimed it were the Drow. What sort of fool would unleash a magic that flows downhill, when their whole empire be under the ground?

Aye, I’m rushing again.  Where was I, aye, me brother’s wife.  It be her who helped me acquire the Dancing Dragon, a finer woman I never did meet. They met in the capital, Kelethor, grandest city in all o’ Ark’Tammor. At least, it was.  I been there twice now, since the Reckoning, but I won’t go again. It breaks me heart to see the channels and fountains befouled and warped, the endless red stone of the city cracked and shattered.  

It don’t really matter who started the war, every nation has their own story, and none of them accept the blame.  It weren’t long before every nation was fighting it though, even the Creet got pulled in, and they were always a peaceful folk.  Fer seven long years it reigned, each nation striking at its neighbors with sword and spell. The Wyrdmyst weren’t even the first plague unleashed, I swear the Umari and Alkarenil tried their hands at pestilencecraft, but neither o’ them succeeded in winning an advantage with their spellwork.  

Then the Reckoning came, boiling out of the ground of every crack and fissure of Ark’Tammor.  The Wyrdmyst, killing and warping all it touched. Stone, metal, flesh, trees, it didn’t matter.  Everywhere the Wyrdmyst came, death and madness followed. At first it just be here and there, but soon whole cities would just vanish into the Myst and nevar return the same.  I seen men transformed into hideous beasts, I seen their own bones rip free of their flesh and stab at their brothers an sisters. I seen magic run wild and free, like some terrible force o’ vengeance to punish us for our crimes.  

Every nation fell within a year, every kingdom was crushed.  The ties o’ race and nation that had banded so many against each other in hatred were forgotten in the mad rush to the sky.  If the Mysts hadn’t given us the shards, none o’ what yeh grew up standing on would have ever existed. We grabbed whatever piece o’ junk and hunk o’ dirt we could scavenge, bolted every Shard an Stone we could get our hands on, and fled like rats on a burning ship.  Yeh won’t believe it, but there be a time when the idea of inviting a Goblin, Kobold, or Bugbear into yer city woulda been madness. We thought they were monsters, but the Reckoning changed that. It did’na matter anymore. The whole, starving, rotting mass of us ran teh the sky, and left everyone else we ever cared about to die.  

For twenty and three years we fought, starved, and fucked Topside.  Refuges, we built floating garbage dumps and called them cities, cannibalized ships and called them homes.  Me own vessel, me precious Dragon, was set aflame one night in a raid. The fools. I’ll never knew who did it.  It was chaos, anarchy by sword and fear. Nothing mattered but what people was too afraid to take from yeh.

Eventually we adjusted to our new lives as outcasts over the clouds.  The Factions as yeh know them emerged, and some sense of order was brought upon us all. Yeh could scrape out a life, if yeh want to call it that, but so much was lost. We had survived, but we would never be the same.

Then the Abyss began to part, and for the first time since it had begun we saw land and sea under us again.  I was one o’ the first to volunteer, just for the chance to feel earth under my feet. Seven years I was a Deeprunner, hitting every patch o’ turf that peaks its ugly warped head out from the Myst.  I seen things yeh’d never believe, wonders and horrors, marvels and nightmares. I remade me fortune, even bought myself me own ship again. No beauty compared to the Dragon, but she flies and she’s mine, and that be all that matters.

Me knees have gone, and me back is out, or else I’d be a Deep Runner still.  I guess it’s time I left it to the young bloods, and that means yeh soft and daft lot.  Dead before a week, I’ll bet yeh’ll be, dragged off into the Wyrdmyst by some nasty beast.  I got one piece of advice for yeh, if yeh survive the Agent’s tricks, the monsters and beasts, and the warped magics of the ancients?  When yer ship’s mate sees the Wyrdmyst rolling back in, and yeh hear that warning bell ring? yeh run. Yeh run and yeh don’t stop until yeh feel the deck of the ship beneath yer feet.  Cause they ain’t waiting for yeh. No one will.”