Background: Avras

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  • Melting pot city half between Vetia and Augea of high importance to many factions.

    Tandemar 3rd, 962 AS.
    Dear Diary,
    It is most exciting! I have arrived in Avras itself! It has been a right whirlwind and no mistake. All of Monday I was on the great Bridge of Destiny, an enormous stone highway that leads into the city: it’sthe only way to get there! Sadly, this means that the bridge is very crowded at all times of day – anincredibly diverse throng if ever there was one – so it took me many hours to finally reach the gates!Meanwhile there was nothing to do but gaze at the fantastical battlements ahead, and dream of theglory of a lost empire. I also tried to wave at some of the “archies” that live under the bridge (underits arches, hence the name) in terrible conditions. They gave me a very rude gesture in return, so Ihad to look away.
    Today is only Wednesday, and already I have seen more sights than I thought the entire world couldcontain! I have seen the great Senate House, and the mighty Sepulchre behind it. You can only enterthis most holy site on the wide road from the East, and for three hours each morning, starting at themoment of sunrise, they close the great doors of the Flame Gate for pilgrims and pennants to watchthe glory of the dawn through the fiery colours of its stained glass. Now that was a sight to behold,let me tell you!
    After worship, I saw other remarkable monuments such as the ancient Forum, Amphitheatre (whereI am told that Sunna’s victory over the Rat King is yearly re-enacted) and the famous lighthouse ofantiquity, Sunna’s Lantern, which still guides ships through the mists that wreath the Omiphorousriver. Here I saw citizens from each of the city’s 27 “contradas” (districts) compete in a very dan-gerous race to swim to the western shore and back, cheered by an enormous crowd, to win glory fortheir contrada. What a thing to stumble upon! I visited shops of every description in the great bazaar(once an Avrasi bathhouse) and visited the dead in the legendary Necropolis! I even saw the RuinedQuarter where city mages keep watch over a magically contaminated patch where they say the Veilwas torn many centuries ago.
    All in all it has been a very enjoyable and interesting trip. I am also glad to report that so far I havenot fallen victim to any of the criminal activities that everyone told me were such a problem here. Ithink their concern may have been a little overblown.
    Farewell for now!
    — Diary of Claude le Petit, Equitan traveller.It was found on his body, in a gutter in the Volskayan district, on Tandemar 4th.

    To all that are in Avras, beloved of Sunna: May the dawn forever shine upon you. First, I thank my saviour for you all, that your faith is proclaimed throughout the whole world. In these dark times I counsel you to give thanks in turn for your holy life in the city of Sunna herself. The Goddess blessed the site of its foundation at the moment of mankind’s awakening, and from it arose the first great civilisation of humanity, a fearsome empire that held up the light of our species like a dazzling torch, surpassing even the brilliance of the elder races.
    What a city was Avras of ancient times, that magnificent crossroads of East and West! The citizens strode gleaming streets; streets teeming with every goodly thing. Libraries overflowed and the great forums thronged with insight and sophistication. The mighty government marshalled the full resources of the vastness of the Empire. And at its centre stood the Holy Sepulchre itself, dedicated to the Goddess of the Sun and her pantheon. But like all lights, Avras attracted the vilest of insects and parasites. Its noble leaders fell to the influence of such unspeakable abominations, coming to value power for themselves over the good of human civilisation. The conquering hero, Gaius Dexion, with his ageless, southern Queen by his side, came to blows with the Senate and its champion, the merciless Tiberian, and the Empire sank into civil war. Sunna abandoned those who bowed to the sinful impulses of our species, and at the height of the conflict there emerged a monstrosity greater than any before imagined: the vile rat Kings and their unending tide of vermin.
    The pestilence devoured Avras with ungodly speed, and soon the rats had spread to every corner of the Empire, consuming all in their path and returning humankind to its primordial state of squalor and servitude. Heaping humiliation upon humiliation, the rodents proclaimed themselves the heirs of the Empire, preening and cavorting in their warped perversion of the customs and stylings of the Avrasi people and their rulers. Long centuries did we suffer under the vermin yoke, and long were the great shrines of Avras left defiled, before Sunna finally returned to rekindle the flame of human strength.
    Coming as the mightiest of warriors, one whom kings and rulers followed naturally as disciples, Sunna lead our great crusade against the many enemies we so recently confronted. Always remember the great peril of our species, and the danger of annihilation we faced, before the Goddess drove our armies through their defences and finally reclaimed Avras as our own. The Adversary was slain by her hand. Friends, never forget the joy of these tidings! Sunna has liberated the holy city of Men and Women, and humans once more dwell among the mighty avenues, and once more pray in the Holy Sepulchre, where lies her sword Sonnstahl! Our task now is that of preaching the blessed truth of the Goddess to those who were not there to bear witness.
    — From Drusus' letter to the Avrasi, Sunna Cycle,
    estimated date 59 AS

    King Louis: My dear Cantemont, how glad I am to
    see you well. But where is our Commander, the
    Duke of Gasconne? Is he still in the field?
    Cantemont: Sad news, my liege. Gasconne is slain.
    L: By the Lady, our nation is so much the poorer
    for his loss. What news from the Crusade? Is the
    traitor deposed?
    C: My duty lies heavy upon me. But I will endeavour
    to be direct. 4,000 knights followed us to
    Avras. Fewer than 400 return with me. And
    many of them are decidedly the worse for wear.
    L: Surely it is not true. Were you not prepared for
    General Fontaine and his meagre troops?
    C: Indeed we were, my liege. At first we sent a summons
    to parlay, as my lord instructed. But the
    villain would not even treat with us. Immediately
    we closed upon the city from the West, for the
    honour of the Lady. But we weren’t expecting...
    L: What? Tell us!
    C: We weren’t expecting the zombies, your Grace.
    L: Forgive me, did you mean to say zombies?
    C: Yes, my lord. Very much so. We found the approaches
    to the city impassible, as things pulled
    men and horses beneath the murky water.
    We believe there may have been some kind of
    necromancy in play. A beautiful woman floating
    above the filth and laughing at our efforts confirmed
    our suspicions. But when our dear friend
    Gasconne sought out the fiend it did not go well
    for him. She devoured him in front of us... A most
    unpleasant business.
    L: My Lady! And yet you outnumbered them, did
    you not? After all we spent...
    C: Indeed. But our knights were driven into the
    swamps by magical curses, and our horses became
    mired. We were exhausted after a long
    march and our heavy armour was ill-suited to
    the boggy terrain. It was at this point that a
    considerable number of our fallen countrymen
    began to rise from where they’d fallen... Then of
    course there were the nightmarish wraiths
    L: Wraiths?
    C: Something of that ilk, I’d rather not go into detail..
    Many who were not slain took their lives in madness.
    L: By the Lady... I must retire to prayer. Give the
    survivors food and water. You are dismissed,
    Cantemont. Go back to your family.
    — Transcript of proceedings
    at the Court of Equitaine, 960 A.S

    The traitor General Fontaine continues to refuse to
    see me. I believe he is now little more than a puppet
    of his “Queen”, an extraordinary pale beauty, who
    fills his head with visions of power and prestige.
    She must be dealt with immediately.
    — Ambassador Duchess Mathilde to King Henry of
    Equitaine in 962 A.S. concerning the ruler of Avras.
    Shortly after this missive, an assassin was caught
    after failing to kill Fontaine’s wife

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