After the horrors of the Abyssal War and the destruction of the Realm of Chaos (as well as scores of lesser Realms), those denizens of the cosmos who survived decided to bury the wrecked husks of the twisted great machine (proper name in development) under the unthinkable tons of cosmic debris. Once that monumental task was complete, they found that what they'd unwittingly created was a massive, unclaimed landscape with many different kinds of climates, well suited to hosting almost all existing forms of life. Many proto-beings, their old homes destroyed, made their home on this new Realm born of the wreckage of the old. Dragons, the fundamentals of Chaos, populated many Realms, but a significant portion of them chose the Materium to settle in.

Then the first gods started to appear, beings from other Realms who had found a piece of the dead Primals, a Godshard, and been transformed by it. As these gods discovered their abilities and limitations, one such god immediately turned his eye towards the Materium. This god, formerly a denizen of the elemental Realm of Earth, renamed himself Verdenkrav, and created a new mortal race of hardy, earthlike beings in his own image. This new race was known as Dwarf.

The dwarves were the first race to be granted divine power, and they were the first large group of mortal souls faithful to a single god. As such, Verdenkrav held a level of power miles above the other new gods, and was implacable. With the divine power granted by Verdenkrav and no interference from the other budding godlings, darvenkind quickly came to dominate the central mass of the Materium and forge a mighty Dwarven Empire, where 'lesser' mortals were either enslaved or pushed back into the wilds. Dragonkind seemed perfectly content to let the dwarves grow and thrive, watching the chaos with amusement from the surrounding wilderness.

This endured for thousands of years, Verdenkrav growing ever more powerful, his rivals helpless against his unparalleled might, until one fateful decision was made by the reigning dwarven Emperor. He decided that it was time to assert the dominance of the dwarves and conquer dragonkind, for while dragons individually held immense power, his race had the backing of a god. And so, the dwarves marshaled a great army, and marched up the gentle slopes of the immeasurably immense dome volcano to the far west where dragonkind had built their primary nesting grounds.

So began the fall of the great Dwarven Empire, as for all their divine might, dragonkind was one of the fundamental races, possessed their own kind of magic, and each individual adult dragon was worth a whole platoon of dwarven warriors. The dwarves had never seen anything like the fury of dragons; their armies were crushed, their cities ravaged and razed to the ground. In the span of a single week, thousands of years of dwarven culture and accomplishment were wiped from the face of the Materium. The very last remnant of the dwarven race, the inhabitants of a single great city set in the dominant mountain range of the Realm, tried and failed to seal their city off in a dome of solid stone and were forced to flee deep, deep underground. In his blinding rage, his greatest achievement all but lost, his immense power leeching from his fingertips, the dwarven god Verdenkrav lashed out at the dragons with every last bit of force he could muster; the great dome upon which the dragons' nests were made erupted with such unfathomable force that it left nothing but a crater the size of 1/3rd of the continent in its wake. The main force of dragonkind on the Materium was gone in no more than a few hours. Verdenkrav himself had spent every last iota of his Faith, his soul, and a very large fraction of his Godshard's power in that vengeful strike. He was irrevocably removed from creation, and his Godshard was left all but inert as it fell to the Materium's surface. Where it landed, the continent cracked and the sea poured in to fill the gap, and the diminished Godshard was lost. Had Verdenkrav but set foot on the Materium and bided his time, he could have destroyed every last dragon on the Realm without losing his life; instead, he forever ensured that there would be one less god in the universe at any given time.

By now, the elemental Realms had manifested the latent fundamental concept of Chaos and been drawn together into a single Realm. The surviving dragons of the Materium retreated there as the choking ash and noxious vapors utterly killed off almost every form of life on the surface, and the gods, not having had any eyes on the Materium for fear of invoking Verdenkrav's wrath, avoided the mysterious, seething blackness that remained.

Except for one, an angel of Verdenkrav who had found (but never touched) a Godshard, and had hidden it away to prevent anyone else from stumbling upon it just as he had. Knowing what had happened, and seeing an opportunity to act without interference from the other gods, this angel took up the hidden Godshard and was reborn as the god Cronepheros. In order to disguise his origins, Cronepheros loosely modeled his new appearance on the Graces, and as the other gods tried to secure followers amongst the few beings of the other Realms, Cronepheros started to clear away the stifling clouds of death clogging the atmosphere. Once it was inhabitable again, he created a new race in his new image. They were a taller, less hardy, more moderate race, and he called them Human. However, Cronepheros was both more patient and more cautious than Verdenkrav, while at the same time far less power-hungry. Rather than act overtly and secure Humanity as his own, he instead left them to their own devices and traveled off to the Realm of Good, to bargain with the Graces for a place to secure his Domain. Without a god to unify them, humans spread across the map in different directions, settling in their own little groups.

(Continued in Part 2)

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