Shadow of the Whale
In 0BD, one of the most catastrophic events in Riiga took place. A vast black storm swept across half the known world, almost wiping out entire civilisations and causing the reshaping of most in its wake. According to many historical records, the source of the storm was a colossal magical creature somewhat resembling a black whale drifting menacingly through the sky, encircled by a raging, destructive storm. Invading forces of monsters coordinated with the event at most locations, leading many to believe the same being who is responsible for monsters was also responsible for the Darkness. The event mostly affected the Mintar Empire, the Xilou Hoqomer, the Yvabira Kingdom, and the Six Kingdoms of Nor. Cities that were hit include most of the cities in Nor; Tjynas, Undhul, and Khamis in Mintar; Zirer and Euxafi in Xilou; and most cities in Yvabira.
The storm is believed to have formed in the Sea of Ash, between Armalia and Jindiara. It travelled west across Karber, and Sheber, crossed between the Karber Sea and Simber, and across the northern end of Seleru, where it circled around and swept across Nor from west to east, across Ideitess and Bymir, and it dissipated somewhere around Bymir. There are reliable records of the Darkness occurring in Batur, but the Baturun people at the time had very little in the way of written records. It is without a doubt that the storm never made it to Temanea, though they have seen Black Storms outside the Burning Hills storm around 439AL.
Those who had warning of its arrival gathered armies and their best artillery to help against the encroaching monster forces, but no weapon could even reach the whale, for the storm that enveloped him was too dense. Some accounts of battles don't even have reports of any entity being spotted amidst the raging storms. Though some armies did manage to hold legions of monsters at bay for a time, the ever-increasing black storm eventually overpowered every force humans could gather and they were all defeated. The monsters did not take over the conquered cities and kingdoms, however. When the storm passed, the monsters dealt as much damage as they pleased, and then they withdrew back into the depths. Despite several civilisations collapsing, large numbers of populations themselves survived. It seemed more of an attack against civilisation itself than an attempt to kill everyone.
The devastation was so immeasurable that the primary calendars marked the following year 1AL (After Light), and made dates before count backward under BD (Before Darkness). Though not all peoples use this calendar, it is the most widely used dating system in Riiga.
But not all that happened during the Darkness was tainted with despair: The Xelevikenar called Veriviet appeared during the Darkness, commanding the monster attack against the ancient city of Arngos in southern Nor. So great was the attack and Veriviet's power that Arngos was razed and the land became so scarred that the city was not rebuilt. Veriviet was slain by the high priest of the Kingdom of Elecia -- a man known as Shaurdoril of Wolgommen -- by sanctifying a silver ballista bolt and commanding the soldiers to aim it at Veriviet's great gem embedded in his chest armour. Veriviet's great sword, Miesich, remains at the sight of his death to this day, standing upright like a narrow tower leaning before its collapse. As the land itself kills any who step upon it, the sword can only be seen from a distance, and even then at risk to the viewer.
Though records vary, many witnessed a colossal magical creature, as stated. It had the rough form of a black whale covered in mountainous spikes and was constantly wreathed in turbulent clouds and electric storms. The entity itself was allegedly 2-5km long (1.2-3.1 miles), so vast that if it ascended or descended it would create hurricane winds that could tear trees out of the ground, and could unload a smaller storm of any combination of ferocious winds, lightning, or fire at will. The Antemplars, an ancient order headed by demigods with several cults of humans trying to earn their favour, have claimed responsibility for the attack, making them one of the most feared orders of beings in Riiga.
Though the damages caused by the storm and monsters was all but repaired after a century, the physical scarring of the land caused by Murluron itself remains a prominent remnant to this day. These wounds and blemishes, usually called Dark Scars, Demon Lakes, or Dusk Trenches, usually resemble long, broad, and deep gouges in the land, formed by the times when Murluron itself got closest to the ground. Over time, the vast majority of these not found in deserts end up becoming lakes. They often exist in groups formed in a line, with smaller lakes flanking the longest lake where Murluron scraped deepest. These lakes can be mistaken for normal strings of lakes, were it not for two features: First, these lakes are not frequented by wildlife, as fish, amphibians, birds, mammals, insects seem to avoid the waters and surrounding shores; second, the waters are not safe for drinking and the connected lands are not arable, or indeed, accommodating for any plant life, and those who eat or drink anything that has come into contact with Dark Scars often suffers from what is essentially identical to mild Aetherite exposure (see below).
Dark Scars are most often found near the Bay of the Dead, across the Karber and Qarar Deserts, either side of the Lion's Tail, the East and West Fangs, the Heryn Highlands and Simbean Desert, through the modern Eber Empire and Upper Ebere, Arngos, Umberia, Regyland, Curin, Galanor Fields, Huirnon, the Tiuta Basin, the Mucklands and Yvatlands, and Bymir Basin. As mentioned, those found in deserts are often left as dry craters, while the rest are now lakes. Some Dark Scars run through old cities, which forced people to abandon them. These cities are now ruins. Prominent ruins include Qhesosu in Kobhufi, Rimonhu in Oolu, Sukor in Kinars, Tuar Qu in Eber, Amiru in Reunou, Dialnen in Umberia, Teuver in Regyland, Avynin in Huirnon, and Sivlanav in Yvabira.
Across northern Baracsa, and western and central Armalia -- the main areas to have suffered The Darkness -- there are storms which are believed to be remnants of the Darkness which occur approximately once every 50-100 years. These events are called Black Storms, Dark Tempests, or similar, and are different to a regular storm due to a few distinct features.
Firstly, Black Storms are preceded by a more profound environmental change than regular storms: clouds that gather are especially turbulent and dark, a rumbling can be felt from it, and some people in the area may feel a certain dry or tingling sensation. A rare type of bird called the synavos is especially sensitive to these changes, and emits a mournful cry when it does, noticeable due to its normally quiet demeanor. Synavos are usually kept in large cities in a specific tower called a Crying Tower, found on only the largest of castles or palaces. The cry is passed on by means of giant bells, horns, drums, or lines of beacons. Antemplars are known to hunt these birds to reduce the effectiveness of civilised warning systems.
Secondly, the storm brings a darkness as deep as night, lightning which is dark purple in colour, thunder that sounds more like tearing of the air rather than explosions, strong winds, hordes of monsters, and sometimes rain. If the storms are anywhere near civilised areas, humans muster forces as quickly as they can, expecting a monster attack. Indeed, most Black Storms bring monster invasions, though some do not. These storms tend to last anywhere from two to seven days, and will move very slowly across a landscape. Sometimes they seem to change direction. Some claim to have seen Murluron himself in the tumbling clouds of Black Storms, but no historian or priest has ever managed to verify such a claim.
Thirdly, remnants of the storms include a type of stone left over from when the purple lightning strikes certain types of ground. A rare crystalline material called aetherite is formed in this way, though most of it was formed during The Darkness, as the lightning in modern Black Storms is nowhere near the power and intensity of the lightning back then. Aetherite is a very potent carrier of aether, and can theoretically be used to amplify magic by using it as a vessel, material, or container, though this is yet to be achieved by anyone. Aetherite exposure corrupts the wielder rapidly: signs of corruption include a purple-black powdery look to parts of the body nearest to the aetherite, and around the orifices of the body; a gradual detachment from reality and inability to maintain coherent conversations; a drastic loss in mental and physical capability; and a tendency to experience hallucinations of a sinister nature. Despite Black Storms occurring at least once every several decades, aetherite in any substantial quality is extremely rare and extremely dangerous. Regardless, it is contraband in all major human civilisations that know of its existence.
|Historical Black Storms|
|Year||Name||Details (mostly Benevis)||Nor||Umbener||Simber||Seleru||Bymir||Sheber||Karber||Batur||Teman||Yyele||Ideitess|
|0BD||The Darkness||The greatest Black Storm in recorded history, catching several entire civilisations unawares and all but annihilating them.||Extreme||Moderate||Mild||Extreme||Severe||Severe||Extreme||Heavy|
|116AL||Eternal Night||So called because people feared it was a second Darkness, while in truth it did not match up to the same level of devastation.||Extreme||Moderate||Severe||Severe||Minor||Minor|
|183AL||Vile Storm||Unremarkable as far as Black Storms go. It is not known why it was named as such.||Minor||Heavy||Moderate||Moderate|
|297AL||Orphan Storm||Considering a few major plagues (primarily The Scald and Lion's Plague) and the Age of Exploration, many died in this period and this storm made everything worse.||Severe||Moderate||Moderate||Moderate||Severe||Moderate|
|370AL||The Mad Bull||Suspiciously aligned with a Karithian war, where assaults were considered by some scholars to be coordinated between monsters and Karithians.||Moderate||Severe||Heavy||Minor||Moderate||Minor|
|439AL||Burning Hills||In the wake of The Scald plague, many crops were burned and much land was abandoned, making the timing of this Black Storm deadly.||Moderate||Heavy||Moderate||Severe||Heavy||Minor||Minor||Heavy|
|513AL||Black Blade||The first synavos warned the empire of this storm, thought to be symbolic of The Enemy attempting to murder the new emperor.||Severe||Severe||Severe||Heavy||Severe||Minor|
|611AL||The Falling||Named after the Stonejaw that appeared in Umbener and destroyed several fortified towns and cities. It was almost felled, but managed to burrow away.||Severe||Severe||Severe||Heavy||Heavy||Minor|
|718AL||Red Forest||Named after especially large swathes of woodland were set fire by hordes of Orochs, especially in northern Benevis.||Extreme||Severe||Severe||Heavy||Heavy||Heavy|
|821AL||The Assault||This storm was considered to be an especially focussed and intense attack on areas where the Red Temple was prominent and becoming particularly powerful.||Heavy||Extreme||Severe||Minor|
|905AL||The Last Fight||Mockingly named after a prominent band of monster hunters who claimed that they would slay all the monsters and end Black Storms for good. Needless to say, their plan did not work.||Severe||Severe||Heavy||Moderate||Minor||Moderate||Heavy|
|985AL||Fear of Darkness||Named after the fact that this storm cast impermeable darkness across the land, with many reporting a black sky, even during the day.||Heavy||Moderate||Severe||Minor||Heavy||Heavy||Minor|
|992AL||The Dark Echo||So named after the idea that this storm was a mere echo of the previous storm, due to the small number of years separating them, though the destruction was still noteworthy.||Moderate||Heavy||Heavy||Moderate||Moderate||Minor|
- Minor damage: Minimal structure damage, monsters are nowhere to be seen.
- Moderate damage: Only superficial structure damage, monster attacks are rare.
- Heavy damage: Only common houses are destroyed, monster attacks are periodic.
- Severe damage: Only the strongest structures survive, monster attacks are frequent.
- Extreme damage: All structures are ruined, monster attacks are relentless.