The gift of magic has never been shared equally.
The first to master Tem's legacy, the ambitious Temeri, were born to it – indeed, their arcane skills have always eclipsed any shred of self-control.
Umbral's favored race, the Moon Elves, were the next to bring order out of chaos, establishing foundations of magical theory still studied to this day.
Yet as the Ages passed, and great magi from across Aeos channeled the essence of chaos in defense of the Driftworld, one race was denied the gift: humanity.
And so the history of the human nations was written not in the forge-runes of the dwarven Cragscar Kings, the dark rage-poison sigils of the orcs, or the strange electro-script of the goblin syndicates – the history of humanity was written in blood, steel, and stone. No city on Aeos exemplified human strength, brilliance, and ferocity as much as Dawnhold, and no human exemplified those virtues better than Corvyn Baruph, a young gladiator in Dawnhold's fabled Arena.
Baruph had no past to speak of, and spoke little himself. In true gladiatorial form, he let his weapon – a gilded hammer – do the talking. In those days, all Arena battles were to the death, and offered much-needed respite and inspiration to the people of Dawnhold, whose soaring walls were under constant reconstruction from centuries of demonic assault. For though all the skill and strength in the world could be undone in a second by a demon's curse or a Naga's stormbolt, Dawnhold's gladiators were honor-bound to fight with human gifts alone.
So the gladiators fought – some in the name of the war-goddess Beruva, others to earn their freedom from the notorious Dawnhold Prison, and still others to hear their names immortalized in story and song. So for centuries, the sounds of war and death echoed within Dawnhold's walls and beyond its borders. Yet young Baruph fought during an era of relative peace – the centaur tribes had given up on their monthly raids, the wulfkin of Vilkan Heights had reached an uneasy truce with their cousins in Dawnhold, and Derajj's demonic host had not been seen in decades.
Some years into his career, Baruph faced a strange opponent – the Moon Elf pilgrim Azra Timbersong, a battle made all the more unusual by the fact that most Moon Elf elders follow a strict policy of pacifism, except in self-defense. As word of Timbersong's challenge spread through Dawnhold, the audience that gathered exceeded even the best estimates of the masked Fightmasters, whose instincts in such matters were seldom wrong.
True to form, the fight was unlike any that Dawnhold had ever seen. With reflexes that belied his centuries of quiet contemplation, Timbersong dodged Baruph's every swing, speaking too softly for any in the audience to hear. As the young gladiator quickened the pace, the Moon Elf began to blur, leading some to believe that he had violated the first rule of the Arena – no magic. But any punishment for that would have to wait because of the second rule – the battle does not end until one combatant is dead.
Soon Baruph himself moved faster than any could see, and the crowd fell silent as the melee intensified. Azra smiled, still unscathed. Baruph laughed, sure that he would eventually win. Suddenly, they both stopped. Baruph stared at the sky, where the sun moved ever closer to the horizon.
And in a flash of blinding light, the gladiator flew.
The soldiers that later dispatched the shattered ranks of Derajj's army discovered demons that would have entered Dawnhold silently and in shadow, if not for their sun-scorched flesh.
Baruph, exhausted from battle, returned to Dawnhold to face the justice of the Fightmasters, having broken both laws of the Arena. Yet none would dare pass judgement on him. Some in Dawnhold called him half-blood, for no human had ever manifested abilities like his. Others called him the Chosen of Beruva, the first of many to finally unlock the mysteries of magic. Yet in a few short months – with the gracious abdication of Huldorn, last of the Helmholt Dynasty – all would call him Baruphon I, the Sun King.
So that's how a gladiator became the king of Dawnhold. What NPC would you like to read about next? Let us know on the Forum!