“The outsiders can keep believing that we deny them entry into our lands simply out of a distaste towards them. The truth, as it often happens to be, is different to what they would happen to believe. We, more often than not, do this to protect them from themselves, as there are lost secrets in these mountains that should never be found.”
- - Warlord Tyrin Wulnir
The Arakai Mountains is the modern name given to the westernmost section of the Northern Mountains, the great mountain range that spans much of the Polar Lands of Koldenwelt. An isolated region with a harsh climate, the Arakai Mountains are home to large amounts of highly specialized wildlife not able to be seen anywhere else in the world. As the race that the region is named after, the Arakai are the main culture most travellers in the region will find themselves interacting with, and often not in a good way either; the Arakai clans are noted to be exceptionally adamant in not letting outsiders enter their territory.
Attested by many to be inherently magical in nature, of the region's more advanced inhabitants nearly all have been potent practitioners of magic, and the area has also been visited by numerous deific entities throughout the years, such as Harstag and Kartansimal coming into contact with the early Arakai. Some scholars attribute this to the Aurelian Platinum deposits that used to be found in the deepest reaches of the Arakai Mountains - deposits that were mined clean by the Qoranit long before the current age, with the refined material itself being lost for the most part alongside the ancient people.
Age of Ancients (~10,000 BNA - 4,500 BNA)Edit
With the earliest written records on the history of the Arakai Mountains beginning with the formation of the Greater Qoranit Imperium and the preceding war that the Qoranit fought against the Dragonkin, the region is commonly assumed to have been left unscathed, or even by some accounts suspiciously unnoticed, by the forces of the Simulacrum Caligaduro Provectus, who were in control over most of the northern Koldenwelt at the time. The Qoranit of the time were noted to have been somewhat limited in their power - even if still being the remarkable mages and engineers people know them as in the modern times. However, a time of drastic change came upon the ancient people, when a researcher by the name of Sindri, a man whose ideas had been rejected in the past for their overtly eccentric nature, approached the Qoranit leadership with a plan of action to raise their people to unprecedented heights of power. Sindri had brainstormed a way to create intricate Aurelian Platinum constructs capable of independent thought and easily controllable by their masters, brought to life by a magical power that he had also devised in conjunction with these automatons - a power that was to be derived from those of the mysterious Dragon God of the Dragonkin.
Approving of the inventor's plans, the Qoranit leadership moved fast in organizing their armies and officially declared war on the Dragonkin. They were also joined in this conflict by the Bálstedunn giants, who had retained rather strained relations with the Dragonkin for numerous centuries. The war eventually culminated in an assault by the allied forces on the enemy's capital in the modern day Hunter's Bay, that saw the Qoranit destroy nearly every trace of the ancient Kelodhres' existence and claim the most useful of the latter's artifacts as their own. While the exact circumstances of the events remain unknown, the attackers also managed to subdue the deity worshipped by the Dragonkin and extracted the power required to carry out Sindri's plans from it - afterwards likely dooming the deity to the same fate as its followers. Having been now provided everything that he had asked for, Sindri took to working towards the next step in his plan almost immediately, finishing the construction of the very first of his automatons in barely a week. Explaining to his fellow inventors how the constructs worked and how they were built, Sindri also taught other Qoranit how to use this new magical power that he had developed.
The coming centuries saw the newly founded Greater Qoranit Imperium grow in influence as it spread ever outwards from the Arakai Mountains. Sindri's discoveries had brought about a golden age for the Qoranit but had also created an ever-increasing need for more labor force in the Aurelian Platinum mines - one able to be fulfilled only by slavery. However, this reliance on slaves eventually endangered everything that the Qoranit had built, and the Arakai Mountains in general, as two powerful entities of magical nature, later referred to as the Enairtheil by the Qoranit, incited the Nethálfar slaves into a revolt. Being the most populous slave race within the Greater Qoranit Imperium, the Nethálfar brought the production of new automatons to an effective standstill with their revolt, thus making it difficult for the Qoranit to combat their new masters. After numerous years of difficult battles fought across their underground cities, the Qoranit eventually managed to defeat the two mysterious entities by imprisoning both through unknown means. However in the aftermath, many of their cities were now considered to be lost to the Nethálfar and their Notvolv allies, and their automaton armies were left devastated by the conflict.
Desperate to reclaim the power that they had held during their golden age and careful not to relive their past mistakes, the Qoranit turned their attention inwards to the Arakai Mountains, becoming a less active force in the wider world and ceasing to expand their territory. The Qoranit also took to using rather extreme measures in order to ensure the continuation of their rule; the once abundant Aurelian Platinum mines were mined clean and the metal stockpiled in manufactories, all the while new and more advanced automatons were developed by Sindri and other engineers. The hatred for deities of all kinds that the Qoranit were somewhat notorious for came to be a defining element in the research that they conducted at the time, with their search for knowledge becoming synonymous with their goal of surpassing all gods - both worldly, and otherworldly. However, the time of the Qoranit eventually came to an abrupt end, as their entire population vanished without a trace, leaving their cities eerily quiet except for the whir of engines that continue to function even without their creators.
Age of Heroes (4,499 BNA - 2,000 BNA)Edit
With the disappearance of the Qoranit, the region had been left a placid and lonely expanse, where only the Bálstedunn wandered alongside their herds of native mammoths. This power vacuum didn't last for too long, however, as in approximately 3,500 BNA, a new race began to spread its influence in the Arakai Mountains. A group belonging to the insectoid race of the eponymous Arakai had left their homeland in Hunter's Bay as a result of religious differences; the Arakai had come into contact with the Simulacrum Harstag some thousand or so years beforehand and had subsequently adopted him as their god, while this new group had recently encountered Kartansimal, the New Colossus of Ice, replacing their past worship of Harstag with that of this living embodiment of cryomancy. Despite the latter party having been forced to leave their ancestral homeland in order to prevent the rising tensions from potentially harming it, these two groups had splintered relatively amicably, with them also bringing radical changes into Arakai society by forming the first two Arakai clans, Kerene and Hejarus - both being named after the initial settlements that encountered each deity.
As the Arakai who followed clan Hejarus travelled in search of a new home, further splintering occurred within the newly founded clan, resulting in the Arakai spreading in multiple directions, and with each main group considering themselves an independent clan. It was these clans that went on to rediscover the lost cities of the Qoranit, converting the ruins left behind by the ancient builders into their new homes. However, as the Arakai clans continued to expand their territories, they eventually provoked the Bálstedunn by settling too close to lands that the giants considered sacred. As a direct result, the more organized Bálstedunn tribes began to actively hunt down any Arakai presence they could find; a bloody campaign that led to the deaths of thousands of people, and the destruction of countless clans and their unique cultures. This war that the giants waged on the Arakai culminated in the Siege of Unkhatcar, that saw the Arakai, led by clan Hejarus - who had claimed the ancient city as their capital - deliver a decisive blow against the Bálstedunn, who were left virtually leaderless in the aftermath of the battle.
Peace between the two races was made shortly thereafter, with the Bálstedunn even acknowledging the Arakai as inheritors to the responsibility given by them to the Qoranit in ages past as sworn protectors of the Mountains - in doing so also marking the Arakai as the indisputable rulers of the region. The coming centuries saw the Arakai steadily recover from the devastation inflicted upon their populace; many new clans, such as Wulnir and Silaris, rose to prominence among their peers, giving way for clear leadership to take root within the clan hierarchy. As the Arakai transitioned towards a more centralized governance, a change of priorities could be seen in their worldview. The question of religion had become superseded by those of culture and heritage, with many clans developing myths surrounding their founders and how they rose to power, painting the lives of these figures in legendary light.
Age of Strife (1,999 BNA - Today)Edit
This mythical quality became an almost universal goal for many ambitious Arakai, and was widely exploited by various warlords; over time steering the Arakai as a people towards becoming a full-fledged warrior culture. With competition and warfare between the clans becoming commonplace, these developments within Arakai society came to a head some two thousands years prior to the modern day, when the warlord of clan Silaris, Vortigern the Mad, began a long campaign to once more unite the Arakai clans under one banner. While the eastern clans, excluding clan Kerene, followed him quite readily - helped by the fact that he had given aid to clan Lamind against raiders that allegedly belonged to Harstag worshipping clans, who were, in turn, brutally exterminated by clan Silaris - their western counterparts, led by clans Wulnir and Hejarus, resisted the mage-king's aspirations.
The war that followed was fought on a previously unprecedented scale for the Arakai, with their old approach to warfare showing itself to be inadequate for it; wars between the clans in the past had been usually decided by one or two pitched battles, where everything was expected to move through very specific routines. In contrast, Vortigern's war was a far bloodier and drawn out conflict - partly by the man's own design, as he desired to remove the "cyclical stagnancy" that he saw affecting the Arakai and to ultimately bring them into a domineering position beyond the Arakai Mountains. While the war eventually ended in his favor, and so achieving his dream of a united Arakai, Vortigern's supremacist beliefs and fervent distaste for outsiders caused his reign to last for only six months, as the warlords of clans Lamind, Wulnir, and Hejarus revolted against their Silaris overlord. This alliance went on to drive the clan to extinction, killing hundreds of its members - many of whom didn't have anything to do with the regime; causing later generations to question the validity of such an approach - and Vortigern himself in the Battle of Nthcnzel.
Despite his death, Vortigern's ideals - both those of unity and of Arakai superiority - had still found themselves ingrained in the Arakai mindset. Among his past enemies, Lamind and Kerene warlords, in particular, were famous for instituting practices used against outsiders that were remarkably similar to Vortigern's own. His dream of seeing the Arakai united again also inspired many to try and spur others to embrace it as well, and while it remained nothing but a hopeful dream for nearly two thousand years, it wasn't until 27 NA that people began to give some thought to the idea once more. War on a similar scale to Vortigern's erupted between clans Lamind and Wulnir following an altercation caused by an assassin during a clan summit in the Lamind capital, with both accusing the other side of the attack that led to the deaths of all but three warlords present. The actual culprit behind the attack, warlord Ire Lamind, built himself a powerful following by promising the Arakai clans unity and the elimination of the need for competition once the war was over, while his enemies, warlords Tyrin Wulnir and Uruth Hejarus, relied much on their past ties and were vocal proponents for clan freedom - and thus quite easily blamed by Ire for the act that he had been responsible for.
As firsthand knowledge of the Arakai Mountains is difficult to come by, the most comprehensive geographical description given of the region details it consisting of a tract of land that is cut off from the rest of the world by two separate mountain ranges, the Northern Mountains in the south, and the Mountains of the Mother surrounding Hunter's Bay on the northern coast. Predictably, the region features a primarily mountainous landscape; high concentrations of valleys and alpine tundra are found throughout its western portions while open plains can be found in the southeast. Temperatures within the Arakai Mountains generally remain below freezing until the summer months, and even then barely reach temperatures of 10°C - largely due to the high altitudes present in it. Additionally, as much of the terrain is above the tree line, most forests in the Arakai Mountains are limited to taiga, and are more regularly available in the eastern lowlands. Vast subterranean expanses can also be found underneath the region, with series of interconnected caverns going across nearly the entire length of it.
- Location - Western Arakai Mountains
- Affiliation - Neutral
The ancient capital of the Qoranit people, Deep Core is an underground city of massive proportions, commonly believed to have housed a population of millions during the height of Qoranit power. Being built into a vast cavern, Deep Core appropriately serves as the greatest example of its builders' ingenuity; brilliant structures made of stone and gold can be seen everywhere, while underneath the walkways of the city, the mechanical constructs of the Qoranit still patrol the maintenance tunnels, making certain that the city's automated processes remain functional. Initially lost alongside its builders, the city was later rediscovered by the Arakai, who have since mounted numerous expeditions into it in order to reclaim the countless lost secrets held within it. However, as a testament to its massive size, the Arakai scholars who have traversed the almost labyrinthine halls of Deep Core throughout the centuries have still not fully explored it yet.
- Location - Northeastern Arakai Mountains
- Affiliation - Clan Kerene
Hunter's Bay is the name given to the ancestral homeland of the Arakai, which also functioned as the capital of the Dragonkin Empire in the ancient times. Separated from the rest of the Arakai Mountains by a mountain range that the Arakai call the Mountains of the Mother, life in Hunter's Bay differs greatly from that of other Arakai controlled lands; conservative traditions are at their strongest, and the worship of Harstag - that has, for the most part, died out among the other Arakai clans - is practiced still. In fact, the fertile, forested land is considered sacred among the worshippers of Harstag, as it was where the Simulacrum first came in contact with the Arakai, which also led the area to become saturated by otherworldly magic. Ever since the early Arakai split into clans, Hunter's Bay has been held by clan Kerene, whose neutrality in many of the larger scale wars fought in the region has left the land virtually untouched by conflict.
- Location - Western Arakai Mountains
- Affiliation - Neutral
Kémelomceri, or as it is conventionally known as the Heaven Mountain, is the highest peak in the Arakai Mountains and an important holy site to all Arakai. A common pilgrimage destination for Arakai mages and warriors, the mountain is intrinsically linked to Arakai spirituality; the mountain is seen to be detached from the mortal world, and that its summit pierces into the eternity of the Aethereal Firmament itself. Thus, it is no surprise that the Arakai believe that they are to carry the souls of those they have killed in life all the way up the mountain into the afterlife upon their own deaths - so that they too could be considered worthy of entering it. Scholastic minds among the Arakai have also found the Qoranit tower built on the summit of Kémelomceri to be of much interest, attributing the observatory-like structure as the location where the ancient beastmen made their discoveries on the structure and nature of the Aethereal Firmament's many realms.
- Location - Unknown
- Affiliation - Neutral
A legendary Qoranit ruin lost to the annals of time, Opostlokos is a matter of much debate among Arakai scholars; attested by many to be an actual structure hidden somewhere in the Arakai Mountains, yet still having its purpose remain unknown. According to Qoranit texts dating back to the last few decades of their reign over the Mountains, Opostlokos was to be the masterwork of Sindri the Inventor, the final High Overseer of the Imperium and the man attributed with the creation of most of the technological marvels of the Qoranit. The structure is thus commonly believed to be the last mark that the ancient people left on Koldenwelt, and for this reason, has been sought after by great quantities of scholars throughout the years - each hoping to determine the reason for the disappearance of the Qoranit. Unsurprisingly, Opostlokos is also known for its tendency to become a fixation for many scholars, with the condition itself being called.
- Name - Bálstedunn
- Affiliation - Neutral
Of the ancient races of the Arakai Mountains, the Bálstedunn giants are the only ones to survive into the modern times. Living in the western tundra as Magnuther herders, the giants are a shamanistic race that worships the Mountains itself, and often act exceptionally protective of it when confronted by a potential threat to it. This is often attributed as the reason why the usually docile race joined the Qoranit in opposition to the Dragonkin, and for their war against the Arakai clans. Possessing both incredible strength and intelligence, the Bálstedunn have unquestionably been the most formidable race in the Arakai Mountains throughout the ages but due to their general indifference and withdrawn nature, have never gone on to dominate the region. Most of the giants lead a solitary existence, while a few larger tribes have found a shared leader in the blacksmith and shaman Surtras.
- Name - Dragonkin
- Affiliation - Dragonkin Empire
The Brood of the Dragon God, or as they were commonly known as the Dragonkin, were a race of twisted lesser Kelodhres, and allegedly the first race to form a society in the Arakai Mountains. While the race's own history is mostly shrouded in mystery, Qoranit texts tell that they were created by their king, who was referred to by the Qoranit as the Providence. A seeming combination of both the blood of their king and the mysterious entity referred to only as the Dragon God, the Dragonkin resembled draconic centaurs that lacked wings and had large crests on their heads. The race met its end when the Qoranit alongside their Bálstedunn allies conquered their empire and founded the Greater Qoranit Imperium on its ashes, leaving nothing behind of the Dragonkin Empire.
The Arakai are a race of insectoid beastmen that have acted as the masters of the eponymous Mountains for at least the last three thousand years. Notorious among the other races of Koldenwelt as extremely xenophobic, the Arakai see themselves as the caretakers of the Qoranit legacy and the only ones who understand the danger posed by the ancient relics, resulting in them viewing all outsiders entering the Arakai Mountains to be endangering the region and the rest of the world. Some of the most potent magic users in the region, every Arakai is inherently capable of wielding it - provided that they are first taught how to tap into their magical potential. Much of their society is built upon their clan hierarchy, which by placing much importance on serving one's warlord, has brought about a firmly ingrained warrior culture among them.
- Name - Nethálfar
- Affiliation - Neutral
One of the two races present in the Arakai Mountains that aren't native to it, the Nethálfar are a race of cave-dwelling piscine creatures. Originally a slave race brought to the region by the Qoranit from their empire's territory on the eastern coast of Talmyr, the Nethálfar eventually revolted with aid from two entities that the Qoranit referred to as Enairtheil. Somewhat fearful by nature, members of the race rarely venture beyond their preferred environment and are generally averse to danger when confronting it alone. With the fall of their past masters, the Nethálfar have for the most part claimed the subterranean ruins for themselves, and often come to blows with Arakai scholars undertaking expeditions into the underground cities of the Qoranit.
- Name - Notvolv
- Affiliation - Neutral
The Notvolv, or as they would be called in the Common Tongue the Night Witches, are a race of magically-inclined beings almost otherworldly in their way of life and appearance. Arriving at the Arakai Mountains alongside the beings known to the Qoranit as Enairtheil, the Notvolv aided the Nethálfar in their revolt against the Qoranit, and have since lived alongside the piscine race in the depths of the region. According to most sources, the Notvolv are an all-female race of witches that sculpt new generations of their kind from mud infused with dark magic, while also grafting their bony masks onto their newborns' faces. The race also apparently worships the two entities they followed to the Arakai Mountains, and have been indoctrinating both the Nethálfar and any captive Arakai to do so as well.
- Name - Qoranit
- Affiliation - Greater Qoranit Imperium
The Qoranit were a technologically advanced race that ruled the Arakai Mountains prior to their species-wide disappearance. Hailed as brilliant engineers and scholars of the magical world, the Qoranit saw the search for knowledge as the ultimate way of self-betterment, whereas stagnation was considered something utterly unnatural, and therefore required removal so that life could thrive. The Qoranit also held a vehement distaste towards deities of all kinds; viewing their interactions with the mortal world to be the source of the stagnation present on it, and were more than eager to prove their independence from them - even going as far as working towards inventing methods to cast down these gods. Nowadays, all that remains of the diminutive researchers' mighty empire are ruins holding untold riches and arcane secrets within.
“Why would I ever want to return back home? There is nothing left for me there but vengeance.”
- - Hrafn
“I fear for the north. When I travelled to the Arakai Mountains, it was following a call... yet I found nothing, and knew not who had called me there. And when I look to its future, I see nothing but an all too familiar shadow cloud it.”
- - Harstag