Ashriya is a world brimming with mystical energies that flow through everything, and can be manipulated by those who have studied their arts. Whether casting spells, or rituals, using psionics, crafting items, or performing rites for the blessings of a deity, magical, psionic, and divine energies ebb and flow through the world as naturally as the act of breathing. When the star Terres rises in the night’s sky, usually four times a year for a few days, these energies are enhanced beyond their normal scope.
Natural disasters, wars, and incursions of beasts and monsters are common trends that historians have noted throughout Ashriya’s recorded history; at least, what recorded history remains. Historians trying to piece together Ashriyan history have diligently compiled several accounts of where the world was thrown into turmoil, interspersed with periods of relief.
Some of earliest known records show that the Q’rittik, sometimes Kriddick or Khak-Topur, described as monstrous insect-like creatures who ravaged the land during the Breaking of 65 AR, had caused mass destruction centuries before then; resolving an exact year, or even century, has proven challenging, but most historians agree that sometime between the 6th and 3rd century BED, the Q’rittik rampaged across various parts of the world.
“The Great War” that pitted the armies of the God of Power against the armies of the Goddess of Selflessness was fought during the 4th century BED. There are discrepancies between accounts of the war, some depicting the reason for the conflict stemming from territorial expansion, while other accounts depict it as a holy war largely between Zinaar and Liandra. This war involved a significant portion of the main continent. Although the war itself did not last long, much of eastern Ashriya was destroyed, largely due to the involvement of the Avatars of various gods being pitted against each other.
“The Turning” was the single-most destructive event in recorded history. The sun, which had previously risen in the west and set in the east, began to move the other way; rising in the east and setting in the west. For the next 150 years following, western Ashriya was cast into a severe Drought, while eastern Ashriya experienced nigh unending rains which caused vast Flooding. The vast majority of information and recorded history of the world was lost or destroyed during this time. The calendar system used today is based upon the Turning, denoting whether events occurred Before the End of the Drought (BED) or After the Return (AR).
“The Breaking” of 65 AR involved drastic upheavals in the energies of the world, coinciding with a reemergence of the Q’rittik. Over the course of several months, the magics of the world had changed, and the Q’rittik rampaged and destroyed much of the world. Historians estimate that over half the population of Ashriya was lost during this time.
“The Faceless” were creatures that plagued parts of the world in the mid 2nd century AR. Capable of matching the fighting strength and skill of any being they encountered, these creatures caused significant devastation during their early years, tossing various nations into chaos. Despite the chaos, the world was able to band together, and through collaboration, was able to bring an end to the Faceless beings.
During the Fourth Rise of Terres in 161 AR, the first of what came to be known as the Surges, the Changes, the Breakings, the Shifts, had thrown the world into chaos once again. The energies of the world shifted, fluctuating dramatically as everything changed. Mage’s found many of their spells did not work, some were rediscovered, others never cast again. Psionicists had to adapt different approaches to the manipulation of psionic energies. Crafters and Ritualists found the very essences and intrinsic properties of natural components had changed. Those who were casting rituals during this event faced dire consequences as their magic failed, sometimes catastrophically. Many artifacts, wards, and other ritual magics previously manifested ceased to work, or began to function in unexpected ways. Even the gods were affected, with several gods being Unseated in the chaos of the changes. Historians have noted parallels between the shifting of energies during these events, and the event that occurred in 65 AR known as the Breaking, during which much of the magic of the world was disrupted and mass chaos ensued. For some time the First Surge was called the Second Breaking.
These changes to the energies of the world were accompanied by several physical changes as well. Sudden earthquakes shook across the lands, as in the east The Greenwood Forest manifested where it hadn’t stood for hundreds of years. Large, old trees stood deep rooted and mighty surrounded by the rubble of settlements that had been destroyed by their arrival. Pindust and Lachindor were among the nations lost. Many died in the instant, some resurrected far from their homes, others not at all. Others still had the fortune of surviving the forest's appearance, but stories tell that not all survived the forest's dangers as they tried to find their way to civilization. Glibben and Tormentors lurking within the wood made it a treacherous place to be lost at night. Earth Elementals were commonly sighted all across the world, particularly around the mountain regions near the eastern and western edges of the continent. The confusion led to chaos and conflict initially, but in many areas people learned to co-exist with these creatures' presence, and in others the elementals seemed to disperse over time. It seems that the shifts in energies caused an increase in elemental activity which is still ongoing. The changes were not all destructive, lands once thought barren have been found fertile with farming flourishing across much of the world.
In 198 AR, during the last Rise of the year, there was once again a dramatic upheaval in the energies of Ashriya. Magics changed, crafters and ritualists once again needed to recreate their recipes and rituals. After this Surge the entire school of Mental magic was never recovered. More forests manifested across Ashriya; Most of Northshire and Kirrin’s Alleys were lost to the wood, the wildlands in the central Ashriya were covered, and the isle of Corsic too was forested. Glibben and Tormentors were discovered in each of these forests as well, often aggressive to Outsiders within their home, the forests that came in the Surges are known to be extremely dangerous and often uninhabitable. Tornadoes were reported to have torn across the land. In the far off lands of the Frozen North and Frozen South, intense winds began to blow towards central Ashriya. Freezing, violent gales and storms soon became commonplace near the Northern Passage and Southern Passage. To this day, traversing the Northern Passage by boat is nigh impossible, due to both the intensity of the winds, and the frozen sea. The Southern Passage is traversable, but only in the late Summer months, should the storms permit it, though few dare to attempt the treacherous journey. Several expeditions have been made to the Frozen North and Frozen South. Of those that have returned, there are accounts of significant numbers of violent and aggressive Air Elementals.
In 239AR the Third Surge caused even more damage than the first two, as the sea level permanently rose over the course of a day. Coastal villages and towns, and even entire nations were damaged, or outright destroyed. Whirlpools began to appear and disappear across the oceans of Ashriya, intense enough to swallow a ship and its entire crew in a matter of seconds. To this day, such whirlpools have caused significant problems to sailors, especially those who wish to try and trade past the Strait of Corsic. Inland saw rivers rising rapidly, flooding over their banks and finding long overgrown grooves, the beds of ancient history. Water Elements began to become commonplace on shores across Ashriya, or out on the ocean. The energy shifts that take place during these events seem to make it easier for elementals to traverse the veil between their planes and our own. As with each of these events, the trees came destructively and all at once. The nations of the west faced the brunt of this devastation. The entirety of the land once known as Firth is lost below sea-level. The Isle of Wonders also suffered extensive flooding along its coasts, as well as massive forestation across the remaining land; today it is no longer inhabited.
In 277AR the Fourth Surge struck, and several of the volcanoes in Ashriya violently erupted. Ash covered the sky, even in places that were hundreds of miles away from the nearest volcano. Many towns and cities located close to these volcanoes were either destroyed by lava flow, or were forced to abandon and evacuate due poisonous gasses that seemed to leak out of the earth nearby, or due to vicious attacks from Fire Elementals that appeared in the chaos near the volcanoes. There are many accounts of people who lost some or all of their hearing due to the literally-deafening crack that was made by the volcano when it erupted. Today, the volcanoes are still actively spewing lava, though in significantly tamer measures. The city of Tangel was lost, swallowed by the forest when Southglen, the largest appearance of forest since the Greenwood, claimed the southwestern section of the world. For some time it was thought that Southglen’s arrival cut off traditional travel to the southeast as the Dead Zone, which is described as a magical force that sickens or kills any Living person who enters the area, even for a short period of time, once spanned the gap between the Greenwood and Southglen forests. It seems as though that the Dead Zone has been shrinking, perhaps due to time, but likely due to the Surges themselves. Not many have been willing to risk scouting the exact boundaries, but it has been found that travel southeast is possible if one stays close to Southglen’s edge.
In 320AR, the fifth and most recent Surge occurred, as all have, during the last Rise of the year. This Surge brought about many changes associated with the energies of Spirit. Spirit Elementals have been spotted across Ashriya, described as creatures emanating a white glow like spirits of the dead, and have been noted to typically be non-aggressive if left alone. Even the way people's abilities to reinvigorate themselves with energy shifted. Historically, all peoples and magics of Ashriya would be refreshed with energy and magic at the same time (referred to by most people as the “Magic Hour”). Since the latest Surge event, people's abilities to be reinvigorated are largely no longer bound to these “Magic Hours,” and they instead are refilled with energy within a few hours should they be resting. During the Rises of Terres, the period is even shorter, taking as little as fifteen minutes of rest to feel completely reinvigorated. This Surge also brought forests upon the southeastern portions of Ashriya causing disruption and loss on the Surdonian Plains and in Rodbar as they struggled not only with the destruction of forest’s arrival, but with those who dwelled within as well. Many people believe, or at least hope, that this would be the last of the Surges. As the world gets back to where it had left off just prior to the Fifth Surge, much of the world is cautiously optimistic for the near future, hoping against hope that Ashriya is entering a new era of peace, prosperity, and relief.
With each of these Surges have come the sudden emergence of vast, magical forests across Ashriya, teeming life. Plants and animals can be found in abundance within the forests, which has drawn in many people in search of food or resources. But those who think of entering such forests, beware, for there are other beings that lurk within.
First, are the Glibben, which are mystical, magical races of beings who were once found in the area formerly known as “the Glibben Wood,” located in the area currently controlled by the nation of the Greenwood Republic. Most Glibben tend to stay within the forests they inhabit, but it is not unheard of for them to wander beyond the borders of their forests and interact with “Outsiders”.
There are even more types of Glibben than there are of the common races of Ashriya. Some Glibben are never seen, but their touch is felt in many ways. Glibben have been known to be extremely curious, mischievous, friendly, mean, passive, hostile, helpful, etc. Some Glibben may invade your home without your knowledge, and amuse themselves by making dust bunnies skitter across the floor, or moving someone's money pouch from where they just know they last left it. Others will "help" a traveler who has wandered into the Wood with a shortcut, only to lead him around in circles for hours, days, or even forever. Some will simply kill any Outsider who wanders into their territory. The habits and tendencies of the Glibben vary significantly, and you never know exactly what you’ll get.
Each forest that are sprung up due to the Surges is usually occupied by at least one Glibben “Court,” which is a general term used by the Glibben to describe their hierarchy. Some Courts may be made up of one type of Glibben, other Courts may be made up of several types of Glibben. Little is known about the Glibben and any of their internal politics regarding who is in charge. The most that is known is most Courts will have a singular Glibben leader, often referred to as the “Queen” or “King” of the Court. The most prominent examples of this are the Summer Queen and Winter King of the Summer and Winter Courts, which existed prior to the beginning of the Surges, and thus are the oldest known Courts in Ashriya. Most Glibben belong to a Court, though it is not unheard of for a Glibben to not consider themselves a part of any Court.
The second type of beings to appear in the forests are known as Tormentors. There is some speculation regarding whether or not Tormentors are actually Glibben, or whether Glibben are just Tormentors, though the term “Tormentor” is supposedly a term that comes from the Glibben themselves. Tormentors come in a wide variety, and still new types are making themselves known across Ashriya. They are monsters in every sense of the word. There is no general rule of thumb for their appearance. Some are massive and brawny; others have horrifying visages; others appear quite harmless. Many Tormentors may be fought and defeated like any other monster or creature of the world. Some Tormentors may appear to be nigh invincible if you do not know the proper way to defeat them.
As the world adjusts to the changes brought on by these Surges, many civilizations have found the Glibben to be one of the most difficult obstacles to returning to “normalcy”. The beings that inhabit the new forests of Ashriya are protective of their homes, and have made it nearly impossible to get to many locations that were once prominent trade routes and fully established civilizations. While some have found ways to coexist with their new neighbors, many have found the Glibben to be more akin to new enemies instead. Most seem to prefer to avoid these often mysterious and powerful beings.