The Zhentarim Gambit
Excerpts from the Eidaor, the definitive tome of Antarian knowledge.
Antariel was formed many ages ago in an area known as The Valley of Winds, where strong winds that blew through were the dominant force on the environment. Centered around deep blue lake and fertile farmlands, Antariel grew from a small agricultural village to a dominating powerhouse in a few short generations. Taking control of the surrounding city states, Antariel was renowned for pushing education and knowledge of the world and magical arts rather than war mongering, relying on powerful magicians and small battalions of warriors instead of massive armies. Because of the overflowing magical forces, most Antarians lived well beyond a normal lifespan. Not much else is know of Antariel in its golden age, other than that it was very prosperous.
The Reign of Judge Garland Til Zeitgeist IX and The Collapse
Of course all good things must end. The most contentious point in Antariel’s history happened during the reign of Judge Garland Til Zeitgeist IX, and is agreed upon by historians and experts as the tipping point which lead to the Kingdoms downfall. Many kingdoms and city states fell afoul of what has since come to be known as “The Gibbering Horde.”; a collection of foul beasts from the Outer Planes accidentally summoned into ours and intent on destroying all sources of magic they came across. Antariel hosted the refugees while hiding their immense magical signature, but it wasn’t long before the Horde began to encroach on them.
Disbelieving that the Kingdoms multiple battalions could not fend off the horde, and being a powerful magician himself, Judge Zeitgeist IX instead arrogantly turned to the kingdoms strongest order of mages, The Historia Mane Gloria, to defend the city. Creating a spell which has become known as “The Wonderwall”, the city was protected by a magical dome that obliterated The Gibbering Horde, saving the kingdom.
However, the spell cost the life energy of all who had cast it: the kingdom’s most powerful mages. It also had an unintended side effect that no one could have predicted: the wind ceased blowing. While the city had survived, the lack of wind caused the land of the valley to slowly but systematically die out. While Magical relics helped the battalions, the lack of a real army left the city helpless to invading armies. Judge Zeitgeist IX fled from the kingdom, leaving his people without a leader and in shambles. Experts later agreed if Judge Zeitgeist IX had used the battalions as a defense instead, it would’ve given the court mages ample time to to return the horde to the Outer Planes through other means and prevent Antariels slow atrophy.
This marked the beginning of The Collapse. Citizens turned on each other, leaving much violence and bloodshed in the streets. The prosperous hub of learning was reduced to petty fights over dominion of the dying city. It would take many years for Antariel to recover from this bloodshed.
The Forge Family-The Last Rulers of Antariel
After generations of squabbling and fighting among the citizens, choking the life out of the dying city-state, Azuba Zenobia Forge was named Judge of Antariel. Judge Azuba Forge’s first ruling was to cast away the dangerous magical relics, such as Aechris the Mirror Blade, so they could do no more to the people. His second was to re-institute many of the Educational ideals that were held in the Golden Age.
While Judge Forge’s effort helped preserve Antariel’s knowledge, the damage from the ages was done. It hadn’t rained in Antariel for centuries, and the lack of cloud cover brought the full heat of the sun on the land. The edges of the valley had already become sand at this point, and the land that was closer to the lake in Antariels heart had begun to become craggy and brittle, unsuitable for any crops. Lacking goods to trade, the only boon Antariel had left was it’s impressive Library. Unfortunately, all the knowledge within couldn’t save Antariel.
By the time Judge Everardus Gifford Forge IV, the last descendant of Judge Azuba, took the throne the valley had become an impressive desert, the only area bearing any life was the remnants of the main city, and even then the only green sprang from around the lake. The Heart of Antariel, the lake that lead to it’s formation aeons ago, had become the only verdant Oasis for miles. By this time the majority of the citizens had left, leaving most buildings derelict and in disrepair. It was around this time that the final citizen was born: Yupanoyan Asmodeus Zularti. By the time he was a young man studying at the Lake Library, Antariel had already given its death rattle. By the time he had reached maturity, only 14 citizens remained.
Today, Old Yupa is the sole survivor of the Kingdom. All that remains of the city are old collapsed buildings and the Heart; The Lake and it’s Library where Old Yupa lives. Many regard the lakes water to be sacred, believing that the water has been diluted with magic, prolonging the life of everything around it, Yupa included. The majority of tomes in the library are undecipherable or destroyed because of age. Still many make the pilgrimage to seek out Old Yupa for his wisdom.