Year 20. The Apocalypse brought with not only the end of the world, but the end of religion. Not in a literal sense, of course, the surviving religious institutions of the world were strengthened, if anything, by the sudden destruction of the Old World. But with the death of a world, something is taken out of the creation of the world. The gods of the religions of the world did not warn their followers. If there were prophecies, they did nothing to help their prophets or their people. Many said that their gods lead them to the Lost Lands, and so showed their love and benevolence to their chosen people. But everyone now held in their hearts some knowledge, some feeling, that the universe had changed. The scriptures no longer spoke of the future, but of the past. Myths, prophecies, revelations and commandments, they were all for a time that had past. Religions speak of a time to come, of a crescendo that the universe is building to. Who expected it would actually come? The walls of destruction had closed in on them, but the end of the world did not spit bile and hatred at them. It did not destroy their enemies, or smite the unfaithful. Angels did not swoop down from the heavens to fight back the march of oblivion, nor did demons rise up from ashes to cut down the last of the wicked. The end of the world, and the surviving of the last pin prick of life, came without even a whisper. Arguments raged over which god called forth the Apocalypse and which god protected the Lost Lands. Millions made their pilgrimages to the now-nearby ends of the world. They came for a sign, and most took back with them stories of understanding, of trembling under the weight of the gods’ wrath, or an uplifting of their spirit in the wake of the gods mercy. But in all their heart of hearts, there is a fear and a question of what is on the other side of the Apocalypse. It is not a fear of what is watching back at them. It is a fear of what is not looking back at them. Trade flowing into and out of the Fallen Bay grew throughout the decade as the Empire and Kingdom upriver, and the Horde along the coast, continued their own growth, and foreign merchants from the east came to trade and explore. The disparate peoples of the Bay had their own issues, and indeed many of these issues came to a head in the oddly non-fatal Weekend Massacre Riot of the year 16, during which one of the five council merchant houses was forcefully unincorporated after it was accused of exploiting Qunash workers, as well as scamming Zhang migrants from the upriver monarchies. Conveniently and conspicuously, this has leveled the remaining four great merchant houses equally between Zhang and Qunash controlled. The Merchant Council of the Bay profited from the internal struggles in the Zhang monarchies and the Suilimoon Horde, with dissenting nobles fleeing to the Fallen Bay, bringing their riches with them. The Zhang people may be separated by their polities, but those polities show striking similarities in their ambitions and struggles. The hints of an arms race kicked off by the Heavenly Kingdom of Mun early in the split of the Zhang migration picked up speed in the last decade. The Qiang Emperor was more than anything focused on unshackling and solidifying the Empire’s military. Despite fears that the army-commanding Dukes would turn on their state without tight regulations and restrictions, the purposefully obtuse bureaucracy that had been limiting the Dukes’ autonomy was mercilessly reformed, stripped away of any unneeded offices, while the funds once dedicated to the bureaucracy was combined with new taxes on estate holders to substantially increase state-pay for soldiers. The soldiers themselves have been given new training regimes, instilling greater discipline, with Yang Wunli himself providing intensive martial arts lessons to select, elite troops. The overall effect of the reforms has been positive, and an example of the Dukes’ expanded tactical flexibility came quickly, while the potential danger of the empowered Dukes was also highlighted. Less than a year after the reforms became law, a handful of wealthy estate-owners rebelled due to the tax, and while most of the Dukes quickly reacted to suppress the estates’ mercenaries, one of the Dukes happened to be related to an estate-owner, and turned on the Empire in favour of his family. The rebellion was ultimately crushed with minimal damage and loss of life to loyal citizens, but the Duke escaped with most of his army, as well as a significant number of estate nobles and their capital. The reverberations of the estates’ rebellion were felt for the rest of the decade, with the remaining estate owners cautiously distancing themselves from their dissenting compatriots. Many even pitched in out of their pocket to assist an imperial project to greatly expand irrigation along the river. Under the astute supervision of Grand Chancellor Jiang Wei and his protégé, Secretary Shang Yi, the project not only substantially improved the productivity of the Empire’s farmlands, but has also been met with positive reactions from the commoners, who are most pleased with lowered food prices. The estate owners’ that cooperated with the project also received warmed relations with their commoners, while those that continued to distance themselves from the Emperor have earned even more ire from the state and the commoners. During and after the estate rebellion, a handful of provincial officials in the northern frontiers have been accused and tried of collusion with the rebels and, even worse, with Mun agents. Mun officials of course denied any involvement in the rebellion, but the connections between Qiang estates and the Mun estate-generals is easy to imagine. The Heavenly Kingdom of Mun itself was not without issues during the last decade though, with the King and his court having troubles wrangling the control of their own estate-generals, leaving many wondering if any collusion between Mun and Qiang estates was outside of the control of the King. This was made most obvious when attempts to increase taxation of Mun nobles were met with swift rejection, and a significant number of court officials were forced to flee the country from estate hired assassins. Despite this set back, King Guinyia did manage to pull his favours in with a number of estate-generals to create a standing river fleet, which has already begun escorting merchant ships and barges through the Qiang held intersection downriver. Away from the Zhang monarchies and their internal power struggles, the Great Clan Ruler Suilimoon had his own struggle to ensure the future of his united Horde. While few would question the ability of Suilimoon, the question of succession has plagued the Horde since before it migrated to the Lost Lands. With Suilimoon’s advancing age, rumblings of division and competition for the title of Great Clan Ruler only spread, and he knew that it was entirely possible for the clans to simply reject or kill an heir that he arbitrarily appointed, which could mean an end to Horde itself. His own blood-stained, kin-slaying path to his current position left bitter memories, and he knew his own children would likely share this family tradition if he didn’t work something out before his years caught up with his ambition. With the assistance and wisdom of the Priestess Mother, Suilimoon began reviewing the potential of each of his own (many (such is the life of a Great Ruler)) descendants. A code of laws drawn up by the Priestess Mother was also introduced to the nobles of the Horde’s clans, setting out a voting process for succession. While only those with his bloodline can be voted for, Suilimoon’s attempts to gain the support of the nobles paid off. Thanks to his own magnetism, and the near unanimous respect for the Priestess Mother, most of the nobles warmly accepted the changed, and already there are great public debates of which Suilimoon descendent would best suit their namesake’s position. While the potential for power blocs forming around particular heirs still exists, the clans are more united than they have been since they entered the Lost Lands, and Suilimoon is confident he still has the time and support to organise his lineage and his people before his time to leave this world comes. While issues of succession may have been softened, the clans found other things to grumble about. The Horde was one of the most powerful fighting forces in the Lost Lands, and most certainly the most powerful in the neighbourhood, and so many of the clans’ warriors were chaffing under decades of inactivity. Sure, they would occasionally raid and pillage some unaffiliated villages and homesteads, or trounce some unsuspecting Apocalypse refugees, but the Horde hadn’t undertaken any significant warfare, and many of the warriors complained of growing old without getting in a good fight. Indeed, more focus was put on the seas then on the army, with Suilimoon ordering the construction of a fresh navy. The lack of naval experience, as well as a lack of proper bureaucracy to go about creating an entirely new military division, did not help this venture, but the sheer stubbornness of Krasczul resulted in a small fleet of vaguely seaworthy vessels being built. While the Qunash are not notable for their seafaring, the sailors of the new fleet were chosen in accordance with their mutations, resulting in a surprisingly effective marine detachment. The focus on the fleet also brought along a movement of people and goods to the coastline, and a number of new settlements devoted to harvesting goods and food from the sea have sprung up, not only boosting the Horde’s economy, but also increasing contact with foreign traders. The Qunash are not particularly well known outside of their corner of the world, but if Suilimoon’s dreams ring true, that will change. Falling falling. The mountains crumbling down. Falling falling. The children tumbling down. Falling falling. The oceans crashing down. Falling falling. The gods lying down. The decade for the Bundvolk settlements was defined a wave of purges in the great city-state of Karam, which sent shockwaves across the whole race. The Karam authorities targeted the Falangist movement, a ‘cult’ of sorts which rejects that the gods and goddesses are the remains of the dead origin God, instead believing that when God died his divine spark was split among the sentient races. These dangerous and subversive heathens undermined the very basis for the High Chief’s rule of the city, and so the High Priest of Quern and High Chief Arturus declared a pogrom on the Falangists. Any known Falangists were round up and slaughtered, and those aiding and abetting them were imprisoned. Under Thorne’s determined eye, seemingly every last Falangist was driven from his city within only two years. The pogrom gave some much needed experience to the City Guard, who were also equipped with a wide variety of new equipment. Thanks to Kandros Fir’s efforts, a large amount of copper and iron had been traded for from the northern hills, and sent straight to the city’s smithies. The new arms and armour served the Guard well when a small but fierce band of militant Falangists attempted, and failed, to raid the city palace. The Karam-aligned towns and villages also followed suit, ever wanting to please their economic overlord. The Falangists fled from Karam-aligned territory, with most heading east to the Gajam Confederacy. While Gajam derived its legitimacy from one of the descendent goddesses, the democratic aspects of the Falangist movement resonated with the confederates more than their Karamese neighbours. The refugee Falangists quickly attempted to integrate into the confederate society, and soon found a niche waiting to be filled; the military. Like Karam, Gajam had no standing army, with the only security forces being comprised of police or town guards. With the prospect of Karam-aligned settlements striking across the border at fleeing Falangists, Grand Chieftain Baklam allowed the creation of a border guard, made up largely of Falangist refugees. The pogrom didn’t only have an effect on Karam’s eastern border; to the south, Warlord Jashes took advantage of the chaos. When riots broke out in a number of Karam-aligned settlements in the south, Lokka ‘peacekeepers’ were quick to swoop in and restore order, rounding up and eliminating the supposed Falangist rioters. Without any proper defensive force, and with Karam having no legal or functional command over the settlements, the towns fell under Lokka occupation without any real resistance. Violence also broke out in Lokka-aligned towns, with the Warlord claiming that Falangist sympathisers were taking advantage of his troops’ merciful and lenient occupation to conduct terrorist attacks. The fear and hatred of Falangists spread rapidly through the Lokka-aligned south, and many previous dissenters came to value the ‘protection’ offered by the Lokkan troops. With a strengthened City Guard, and an armoury full of fresh new weaponry, some of Karam’s satellite towns are hoping to receive some assurance from the great city state regarding the rising military strength of Lokka and Gajam. While the city of Karam is extremely stable and wealthy, the prospect of securing and integrating all the satellite towns under its influence is still a daunting task. The widening of the city’s harbour may provide a great assistance in this task, as a proper river fleet could make the trade-rich towns along the river the backbone of a true Karam-centred country. Gerarsa stood with his in a wide stance facing to sinking sun across the sea, his hands gripping the flaking wood railing. He hoped he looked like the contemplative, world-weary scholar he was trying so hard to be, but currently his mind was preoccupied by boredom, seasickness, and splinters jabbing into his palms. He was a man of slight stature, and not particularly physically capable in most senses of the word. His mother called him 'sensitive.' His father called him less sensitive words. But he was still a Liim, and he had the same urges as the rest of his people. Unfortunately, his youthful attempts at adventure rarely strayed further than the next town over, lest he get a particularly painful blister. But where he couldn't escape to physically, he could go across the world in words. While the other children were trekking across and the Kingdom, experiences wonders and horrors, Gerarsa would read of the majesties and tragedies of the Old World. When he wasn't delving into the past, he was creating his own future, writing of how he envisioned the Lost Lands in generations. When the High King announced the attachments of Chroniclers to all navy vessels, Gerarsa saw a chance to not only use his skills with the written word for the Kingdom, but also an opportunity to finally see the outside world. With a burst of Liim energy and lack of foresight, he enlisted, was granted the title of Chronicler, and was aboard a ship in the span of a weekend. His ship, the Struggling Eel, was tasked with patrolling the eastern coastline, but Gerarsa was well aware of how the Kingdom Navy's captains took frequent 'leaves.' He counted on it, he would finally have his own adventure. For three months, the Struggling Eel had patrolled the coast. Somehow, against all odds, Gerarsa had landed himself on the one ship with a captain as boring as himself. The gentleness of the sea let him hear the series of foot-and-peg falls behind him. With a sigh, Gerarsa turned around, taking a long careful blink to avoid any added motion sickness, and faced the captain. A great barrel-chested man, with one stone-tipped peg leg, and a long gnarled black beard threaded with seashells and crusted with salt. How this man was the most disciplined in the whole Kingdom Navy, only the cursed gods knew. 'Captain.' Gerarsa said the name as a greeting, but with barely held sarcasm. What kind of captain followed orders. The living caricature made no indication of picking up on his Chronicler's contempt, replying only, 'Evening to ya Master Chronicler! Ready to chronicle?' He laughed. Gerarsa did not. For the next twenty minutes the captain dictated the day's (lack of) events to Gerarsa. The Chronicler's ledger had two months of the same trivial repetitions. Sailed seven leagues, corrected heading two point five degrees starboard, sailed ten leagues, corrected heading one degree port, etc etc etc. Gerarsa scribbled as the captain droned on, but what he wrote was something else entirely. Exactly one month ago, Gerarsa made a decision. If the captain refused to take the Struggling Eel and her crew on an adventure, than Gerarsa would do so himself, the only way he knew how. And so, to whoever would check and file the ledger once it was returned at the end of the Eel's rotation, the history ship would have taken a sudden and drastic turn for the extraordinary. While the captain believed they were a quarter league off track and doing his damnedest to correct course, the ship was actually off fighting Swelgan raiders. When the captain boasted over maintaining a heading with only a single degree of error for over two days, the Eel had really been rescuing a Zhang princess shipwrecked on a monster-infested island. While writing the day's particularly interesting exploits (it involved mermaids), Gerarsa became aware he was writing despite the captain having fallen silent. He stopped mid-sentence and looked up, then followed the captain's gaze starboard. The old sailor muttered, 'that's not supposed to be there.' The crew stood silently at their posts in confusion, staring at a very large and visible island. They had passed this spot dozens of times, and there had never been an island. In fact, Gerarsa was very sure there had not been an island there exactly eleven minutes ago when he was looking at the setting sun. He felt his pulse jump. 'Captain? Are we going to...' the words choked off. Explore? Adventure? Quest!? The captain's hand disappeared in his beard, a sea salt raining down as he scratched nervously. 'There ain't supposed to be no island there. Damned irregular...' Gerarsa' eyes bugged out. Damned old fool was going to miss an adventure even if it slapped him in the face. 'Captain, we are on patrol, are we not? Is not investigating irregularities the entire purpose of a patrol?' Please. 'I'm sure a report would suffice, it is off course...' Gerarsa almost strangled the captain, but he managed to wrestle his clawing hands to his sides. He took in a hissing breath, and said, 'It's within a two degree margin of error, assuming we altered our path two days ago. In fact,' he made a show of paging throw his ledger, 'last week I spoke with the navigator, and he mentioned we were actually slightly off course. We should, in fact, be sailing through that island.' The captain's eyes widened in anger. 'Assuming the navigator is correct, of course.' Gerarsa added quickly. The captain spun on his peg, eyeing the distracted navigator. Gerarsa wondered if the old bear was going to throw the poor guy overboard, but after a moment he just bellowed for a change of course. Towards the island. His heartbeat pounded in his ears, and his fingers creaked as he grabbed the railing. The sky was darkening, and he could only vaguely make out the silhouette of the island. Adventure. His adventure was here! After all he had read, after all he had written, he would finally live and breathe adventure! Tomorrow would finally be his day, after a life of dreaming, he would step into something new and unknown! When the sun rose the next day, the captain was delighted to see the island had conveniently disappeared, and he happily ordered for a change of course. Gerarsa contemplated jumping overboard, but decided that it would be too cold. He took out his quill, dabbed some ink, and began scratching on the parchment. I stepped ashore... Some feared the fragile union of the Hollowthings of the Night Wastes would collapse, scattering the wretched creatures across the northern deserts. Others hoped for such an event, as the prospect of a large force of Hollowthings is not exactly comforting to whoever gets on their bad side. To the Beast-King’s relief, his efforts to hold together his people succeeded for another decade. A great gathering took place in the Eye, lasted for a full week, and nearly drained the Beast-King’s coffers, but with the event he hoped to bring some sense of unity and happiness to his people. He called it the Night of Day. Despite the Hollowthings’ solitary nature, they did come together, and with a very generous supply of ‘medicinal’ corpse-ashes, they shared a celebration for finding some semblance of peace, unity, and civilisation. While the festival may have been considered tame by most races’ standards, it was an extravagant and wild week for the Hollowthings. It may have simply been the drugs, but for the years following the Night of Day the celebratory spirit continued on, though in the subdued and melancholic manner that the Hollowthings are accustom too. Indeed, in the few cities where the more sociable people gather, smaller and less extravagant celebrations were held, in what came to be a monthly tradition on every full moon, called the Moon’s Day. The Beast-King is well aware that his people are still barely holding together, but this commonality is something he can grab onto. While the first half of the decade was decidedly peaceful and enjoyable by Hollowthing standards, the latter half took a turn for the violent. A sizeable colony of nomads moved south with a compliment of troops led by General Red Iron. They brought with them goods, in particular ash-drugs, to trade with any Gorre they came in contact with. Hopes for peaceful relations rapidly turned sour when they reached the borders of the Gorre Clans. Unbeknownst to the Beast-King and General Red Iron, a power struggle had broken out amongst the Gorre. A number of clans were hungry for a proper war, and took the Great Gor’s lack of action as a sign of weakness. A chaotic civil war broke out between the clans, with sides and alliances changing seemingly overnight, if they ever existed at all. By the time the Hollowthing migration reached the Gorre Clans, the Great Gor had managed to bring some semblance of order to the southern clans, but those clans that still rebelled against him, each other, and cooperation in general had been forced to the west. The anarchic Gorre Clans raided the nomads and colonisers repeatedly and furiously, desperate to take much needed food and goods. While the first skirmishes were chaotic and costly, with the disorganised fighting styles of the Gorre and Hollowthings rendering tactical control nearly impossible, Red Iron managed to hold off the raids until support could arrive from the Eye. Raids and skirmishes continued occasionally along the border regions, and General Red Iron has been pushing the Beast-King to authorise a full campaign against the Gorre. The conflict has shown the effectiveness of the Hollowthings’ fighting skill, and the skirmishes have been an effective testing ground for honing shadow magic. The Gorre Civil War initially created even more chaos along the Gorre-Kingdom border. Rebelling Gorre clans quickly and in large numbers raided the Liim mountain settlements and forts for arms to use in their war. A number of settlements were burned to ash, and forts completely over run, but as the civil war dragged on, the Kingdom was able to successfully rally its armies and push the Gorre raiders out of the mountains. The initial attacks by the Gorre provided a fine starting point for the High King to begin a large campaign to further integrate the confederated Liim peoples. The tribes and city-states were forced into cooperating with each other against the raiders, and the High King leveraged this need for communication. In the name of economic and military necessity, he commissioned the building and widening of roads across the Kingdom, as well as the establishment of a complex messenger dove network. Liim messengers had a tendency to deliver messages at whatever time and location best suited them, and sending military marching orders to a baker three months late tends not to help martial effectiveness. Along with improved communication and travel infrastructure, the construction of a large foundry in Talitainn was used to train smiths to be sent across the Kingdom. This new smithing guild was rapidly put to use in improving and standardizing the equipment of the troops reinforcing the mountain forts. The heavy economic strain of the High King’s ambitions were largely ignored by the Liim, as most saw the necessity of such moves in a time of war. As things settled, a number of grumbling voices once again spoke out against government overreach, but most have been content with the improved infrastructure and military capabilities. Some of those communities in the west are even calling for a retaliatory strike into Gorre territory, though the leaders in the less-effected east are adamantly against wasting money and lives in needless expansion.