(Continued from Part 1)

While Cronepheros was gone, another god cast his eye towards the Materium. This one, a being of light from the realm of Positive Energy named Solaris, had also learned something from Verdenkrav's rise and fall; he who acts first reaps the greatest rewards. Seeking to emulate Verdenkrav's rise to power, but lacking the imagination to create his own race, Solaris saw upon the Materium a new race of beings who seemed, unlike the dwarves, to not have a patron god. Changing his appearance to look more like a human, Solaris spent every last shred of the scant Faith he'd gathered to manifest a spectre of himself before the largest cluster of humans, claiming to be their creator, and offering them great influence in return for their worship.

Dragonkind, a handful having returned to the Materium after the ash settled, saw this happening and decided that never again could a single god hold so much power over an entire dominant race. However, they were still drastically weakened after Verdenkrav's suicidal revenge, and they didn't dare risk wiping humans out like they'd done to the dwarves for fear of what Solaris might do in retaliation. Instead, the dragons used more subtle means, appearing before the rest of the human rulers and telling them the truth, that Solaris was not their god but instead an impostor, and offering them power to resist. Of these lords, 9 accepted the dragons' offer of power, 12 decided the dragons were no better than the lying god, and 4 more decided the dragons were wicked liars and that Solaris was their true creator. Thus, humanity was divided into 3 groups.

The first group, the humans who accepted Solaris, developed into a highly religious nation called Solaedis and grew fairly rapidly. Solaris very intentionally settled them roughly where the Dwarven Empire had been centered, east of the great inlet. With the rapid influx of Faith coming from his massive powerbase, he vainly marked both the land and the people with his radiance. For the land; every blade of grass, every leaf on every tree, every reaching vine glowed faintly with daylight, so that even in the dark of night his nation would shine. For the people, each would carry Solaris' mark upon their skin, like thin rays of light cast across their flesh. Over time, as the Solaedites interbred with other humans and other races entirely, the other effect of this mark would make itself known. On a pureblooded Solaedite, these Rays of the Sun glimmer faintly, like the flora during daylight. However, the less pure their descendants' blood became, the brighter the Rays. All races are freely welcome to convert to Solaedites and praise Solaris (and those who convert often get Ray-mimicking tattoos if they lack natural Rays of their own,) but in Solaedite society having bright Rays is viewed with increasing contempt, and those with the brightest are often the most pious, as if to atone for their poor birth. Solaris is a vain god, naming his stolen people and stolen land after himself, marking those he claimed so no amount of time could remove it from them, so he could never be forgotten or ignored. Now he truly does live up to Verdenkrav's legacy, for while other gods have claimed power and mortals to serve them this time, Solaris remains the most powerful. And eventually, his Faith will spread to every corner of the Materium.

The second group, the humans who rejected both Solaris and the dragons, traveled north to get away from both powers, and came upon the tail end of the incalculably large mountain range that curved east and downward into the landmass, and west into the sea where it became a chain of broad, towering islands. While the landbound mountains made for relatively poor living space, the island mountains were a tropical paradise. Their culture developed as a coastal, seafaring people, and might never have reached any sort of power if not for a fateful discovery made by an exploratory team delving into the caverns of the largest, most impressive mountain-island, Draus. What they found was none other than the still-living upper half of an Eminent, insane and all but helpless, dredged up from where the great machines lie buried by thousands and thousands of years of its own frenzied digging. The broken Eminent was kept a tightly controlled secret amongst the team that found it and the handful of officials who they'd brought it to, and together this new cult became the Manufactors. Though they found it difficult to communicate with the mad, broken thing, what they did glean from it led to massive shifts in their technological development, and the Manufactors used this to become, if not the rulers of the new nation, the irreplaceable cogs that keep it running. With their developments, they dug deep into their island-mountains to construct great Manufactorums, and built their cities up into the mountains' slopes. They wrought great metal bridges, some of them days across, linking the islands of the mountain chain with each other and back to the mainland. They developed a powerful naval force, and armed their militia with technological devices to rival and counter any magic the other nations could throw at them in battle. This grand new nation was named Mohlkauv, and they would never bow to another power but their own, be it gods, dragons, or anything else that might come for them. They would be conquerors, the masters, the sole power the other nations would bow down to, in time.

The third group, the humans who accepted the power of dragons, were granted the secrets of arcane magic. They accepted Cronepheros as their creator, even through his silence. Through these people the dragons launched their scheme to secure control of a mortal faction of their own, to rival any godly army that might ever come to threaten them without requiring dragonkind to enter the field of battle directly.in force. Over time, they lured these people into accepting direct infusion of arcana into their bodies, and in the grand, nationwide transformative rituals the dragons implanted altered knowledge in addition to their magic. These new beings, called Elf, were innately magical just as dragons are (though far less potent.) They were taller, more slender, more beautiful than the humans they no longer remembered being. They had settled in the massive crater to the west, a land of marshes and mountains where dragons lived with them in harmony, where they would build magnificent, sweeping, colorful cities devoted to magic and the arts, all part of a great nation called Ysse. And in their new memories resided a new name and identity for their god; the Elvenfather, benevolent creator of elvenkind, master of arcana, cherisher of the arts, friend of dragons. Though the identity was altered, Cronepheros still felt the power of Faith coming to him from the Materium, and so he returned from his new Domain in the Realm of the Graces. He found his people split in three groups; the first, worshipping a false creator and tainted by his mark. The second, adamantly rejecting the very concept of gods and divinity. And the third, who revered their creator, but didn't remember a single true thing about him or his identity, and twisted by dragon magic into something no longer even human. In despair, Cronepheros forced the dragons to grant him the same arcane power as the elves, and transformed himself in every way, down to his very soul, to conform to the new identity his people had made for him. No longer Cronepheros, creator of mankind, he is now truly the Elvenfather. God of the elves, master of arcana, cherisher of the arts, friend to dragons, and irrevocably a being touched by Chaos. He despises Solaris, and despairs for the foolish Kauvic people who spurned him, but never again will the Elvenfather leave his progeny, the elves, and he will tolerate nothing that dares threaten his children.

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