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The War of Thought

A synopsis compiled from recovered records by the Temple of Technology’s scholars, with assistance from the Eight.

 

            At first, the War was a simple struggle; both sides would construct War Avatars, limited constructs of magic, and pit them against each other. War Avatars were originally game pieces that followed an elaborate set of rules. Thus, the War at first was little more than a game. This stage of the War only lasted a few months, as both sides were merely using the War Avatars to test their opponent’s tactical skills. Neither side, however, was willing to make the first move.

            The neutrals discovery of the orc program allowed the Angels the opportunity to act with a clear conscience. The orcs were first created by crude construction methods within what is referred to as a ‘biofactory’, a Demon construct which assembled millions of orcs fully grown by some unknown form of High Magic. The newly ‘born’ orcs were trained by memory implantation via High Magic, this resulted in legions of identical soldiers completely loyal to their Demon masters. The early orcs, however, were barely functional idiots, incapable of complex thought or decision-making due to a lack of real experiences and the orcs predisposition to lesser intelligence. Demons formed the command of these early orc armies, although that would change in time.

            Instead of making their own creatures to fight the orcs, the Angel faction enlisted human volunteer armies. The location of the first large scale conflict fought during the War of Thought is now known as the Plains of Wrath. The battle began slowly, neither side had any experience, and their winged leaders were exhausted from the stress of transporting a thousand combatants to the field from their staging areas deep within each side’s respective territory. It actually began when a human warrior dropped her sword, and it skidded into the orc line. When she went to retrieve her weapon, the orcs parted, thinking she was one of their Demon overlords, as humans and the Winged Race look very similar without the wings. However, as she bent over to retrieve her weapon, Throg (later known as Throg the Unmanned) realized that Demons never picked up anything with their hands, and grabbed her. The resulting brawl started the battle, leaving the woman dead and Throg castrated. With blood drawn on both sides, the battle began in earnest. No quarter was given, and bloody slaughter was the course of the day, beginning the War in earnest.

            The early battles of the War were fought this way, in bloody proxy battles at agreed upon locations. In time, both the orcs and the humans grew both weary of battle and more evenly matched in personal combat. In time, despite greater numbers, the Angel-led human armies began to defeat the orcs simply by out-smarting them in the field. Demon commanders tended to give their orc troops simple commands like ‘charge that hill’ or ‘go over there and attack anyone who isn’t an orc or demon’, which, while sufficient against less experienced troops, proved to be disastrous against the rapidly improving human armies, who actually learned from each battle and created new battle plans to counter the orcs numbers. In time, the Angels turned command over to the most skilled human fighters, who began to style themselves as ‘generals’ and created the first human chain of command.

            As it became clear to the Demons that their orc armies were insufficient to defeat the growing battle prowess of the human volunteers, who at this point began to call themselves ‘soldiers’, a Ktal word meaning ‘one who conquers and defends’, they began to create a new warrior race to replace or at least supplement the orcs. Wolves were chosen for their pack hunting ability and ferocity in battle, High Magic was used to combine the intelligence and upright posture of humans with the physical and instinctual characteristics of wolves. The ‘potentials’ were brought to term within the wombs of human slaves, and raised in special slave camps were they learned the arts of combat from birth. The result came to be known as the Wolfen, an intelligent but feral race who ultimately proved to be a failure in warfare. Early Wolfen, lacking the structure of the pack that modern Wolfen have, went berserk in real battle, tearing into friend and foe alike with their teeth and claws. In addition, Wolfen are incapable of speaking the Low Tongue correctly, although after a few years most Wolfen learned to speak a debased version of the Low Tongue where the words were adapted to better suit their mouths.

            At first, the Angels ignored the Wolfen, believing them to be simple beasts altered to walk upright. Upon witnessing the ferocity of Wolfen in battle, and after carefully studying those few that could be captured alive, the Angels decided on a plan. A creation unique to the mind of the first Angel to construct one, the Night Hounds were made to hunt down Wolfen, although only in packs of twenty or more. Unfortunately, Night Hounds proved to be too easy to tame, allowing them to be converted by clever Wolfen and orc beast handlers.

            By this point, the War had spread into true conflict, earlier violent encounters with the Ktal-jin by both the Angels and Demons showed the two sides that they had been unprepared for what war was truly like, they had sat soft in their chairs while their troops fought bloody games on cleared ground with marked borders. It was the Angels who first took the War to their enemy’s territory, veteran human soldiers who had faced the Ktal-jin Mechanists knew the value of superior terrain and surprise tactics, so they sought and obtained permission to attack the Demons’ forces directly. This marked the mid-point of the War of Thought, the introduction of hit-and-run tactics and surprise battles caused an escalation in the conflict.

            Even after turning the Night Hounds to their side, the Demons continued to seek a new creature or weapon which would give them the edge in battle once more. The orcs and Wolfen, despite their ferocity, had no true fighting spirit like the human-led armies in the service of the Angels. Attempting to lead their slave armies themselves simply resulted in additional casualties amongst both the Angels and Demons, who would frequently become side-tracked in High Magic duels, usually to the death of both participants.

            Differing burial customs had already come into being amongst the differing factions, Angels had themselves cremated and the ashes returned to the soil, Demons, however, built elaborate stone tombs for their dead, enshrining the bodies of the fallen within preservative spells of stasis. This practice, however, was corrupted by the Demoness Dominique Voidwing, who tried to cheat death itself for her lover Beleth Shadefeather. Normally, if performed quickly enough, certain spells of High Magic could safely raise the dead, but Shadefeather’s soul had already passed beyond the Veil which High Magic cannot pierce. What Dominique called back to inhabit her lover’s body was the first soul of a vampire, unleashed into this world by grief and madness.

            The creature that wore Beleth’s corpse awoke to find her creator gazing down upon her lovingly, and a deep hunger filled the nascent vampire. Dominique saw the look in her creation’s eyes, and knew then she had awoken an evil that should not have been touched. Unfortunately, the Demoness found herself unable to resist the unearthly beauty of the vampire, and took Beleth Bloodsdotter, as the vampire came to call herself, as a lover. It is uncertain whether Dominique went mad at this point, or was manipulated by Beleth, as the Demoness took to robbing tombs by night and using them to create new vampires. By the time her actions were discovered, she had already created over a hundred vampires in her new ‘family’, enough to kill over a dozen humans a day simply for sustenance.

            During Dominique’s trial, the Demon Commanders studied her creation, and decided to be lenient, they simply took her spell, and modified it slightly to transform her into a vampire as well. Although robbed of her High Magic, Dominique was placed in charge of her creations, the first noble vampires. The former Demoness had succeeded where so many others had failed, the vampires were exactly the weapon the Demons needed to win the War.

            Once it was discovered that sunlight destroyed vampire tissue, but they simply regenerated so quickly that it was impossible to see, the Demons began to prepare what would eventually become the Sidun valley. Sidun, the land of eternal night, was meant to serve as an incentive for the vampires, a land where they would be forever free of the painful rays of the sun. It worked beyond expectations, as the thought of a homeland best suited to their kind stirred their black hearts to new efforts.

            Incredibly strong and fast, the first vampires were also highly intelligent and learned quickly the arts of war. It took them only a few months to develop a form of magic of their own and use it to cow the orcs and Wolfen placed under them. The orcs and Wolfen under the vampires literally feared them more than death itself. A few accidents with human slaves assigned to them as food stocks created the first Thrall Vampires. Once the Demons determined that the Thralls were simply nearly mindless killing machines, they began to secretly transport large numbers of Thralls into Angel-held territory, were they wrecked havoc until destroyed by sunlight or starvation.

            Over the course of a single year after the vampires were given command of the slave armies of the Demons, the Angels lost battle after battle. Vampire magic proved effective in countering the High Magic spells of the Angels (and of Demons as well, a cause of concern in the Demon High Command) and their ability to recover almost instantly from all but the most lethal of attacks by night allowed them to lead from the front lines. The Angels began to fear that the Demons would conquer them all at last, shackle their wings, and make them slaves like they had all other life in their control.

            However, hope came one day as night fell over a battlefield outside the Angel capitol city. Riding a blazing form of winged light came Gabriel, the only one of the true Lifemasters who had joined the Angels. He brought his greatest creation, the Eight Mother Dragons of the Elements, he rode upon mighty Zenith, and behind him flew Midnight, Gray, Azure, Teal, Crimson, Viridian, and Legion. The roar of dragons filled the skies for the first time, and Destiny itself was altered forever.

            The Angels, strengthened by the gift of Gabriel’s Chosen, as the dragons were first called, flew once more on an even current with their opponents. As the battles began to stalemate once again after a few Angelic victories, both sides turned to new creations once more. The Demons constructed a virulent plague which struck the human population of both sides. The Demon’s favorites were given immunity, but the mass of humanity was deemed expendable to wipe out the Angels’ armies. Thousands died as the ‘Black Plague’ raced through the human population, the Angels were helpless against the powerful High Magic wrought by the Demon Lifemasters. It was not until an immune human escaped his Demon master that the Angels were able to work up a counterspell, by then fully half of all humans had died.

            After this point, records are practically non-existent as both sides of the War began to use increasing levels of High Magic against each other. By the end of the War of Thought, the most powerful of Angel and Demon Mages were capable of the destruction of the world itself. The spirits who remain from this time refuse to speak of it, for fear that knowledge of the powers used will bring those dark times back upon them. It is known that during the final phase of the War the Angels were responsible for the destruction of the Spectral barrier over what is now Luminar, creating perpetual sunlight there. Both sides also began to create enhancers for their mortal troops, armor which bonded with the wearer, weapons fueled by their wielder’s life force, traps which devoured souls. Fortunately, most of these enhancers were destroyed during the final days of the War by the Great Backlash, but some still remain in remote locations.