Dornath is a land at war. Bleak, broken, and xenophobic, its people live in fear of threats from without and within. But such was not always the case. For decades, the continent of Andur was at relative peace. Dornath was a prosperous and stable nation, with trade routes and peaceful relations with its neighbors northward and eastward across the continent.
Far to the east, beyond the Caldanian mountains, the land of Karatania was generally ignored by the rest of the world. A loose collection of nomadic horsemen and impoverished villages, it was known as a backward and barbaric land. Without a strong central government, the Karatanian leader Tsar Velislav was the latest in a series of leaders in name only.
Two decades ago, a wandering mystic named Grigori came out of the wilderness and offered to become an advisor to Velislav. Grigori swore that if Velislav would listen to his words of prophecy, his name would be remembered forever. Shortly thereafter, the newly styled Glorious Empire of Karatania launched a massive war of aggression, sweeping across the continent. No longer a disorganized collection of tribes, the people of Karatania had united behind their leader, who took the title of Khagan Velislav. The Karatanian army was disciplined and brutal, led by skilled riders who left death in their wake. Worse than the riders, though, were the creatures that Velislav had allied himself with. Monstrous goblins, ogres, and trolls, roused from their mountain dwellings and underground lairs, fought side-by-side with the Karatanian army. Survivors of these attacks whispered that there were other creatures as well, demons of pure evil that ate the souls of men.
Taken by surprise, the nation of Dornath led its allies in an attempt to stem the onslaught of the Karatanians. Massive armies rode out beyond the Skyhold Mountains, meeting the invaders in the heart of Andur. For five years, unimaginably bloody battles raged, with hundreds of thousands of casualties on both sides. At last, the tide began to turn, and the Dornian Alliance looked as if they would win a resounding victory against the Karatanians in the heart of Andur.
But the Karatanians had one more vile trick up their sleeves. On that day, 10 years ago, in the year 1257, on the morning of the 8th day of Haymonth – a day that will live in infamy – Khagan Velislav revealed the depths of his cruelty. He destroyed not only the proud army of the Alliance, but even slew all of his own troops in an explosion of unprecedented power. Across an area of almost 1 million square miles, forests, cities, people, and entire nations were instantly vaporized. Those rare survivors who witnessed the Event from a distance describe the “skies opening up” and “expelling fire and light without sound.” The Desolation Event, as it has come to be known, effectively ended the war, as both armies were swept away in an instant.
The Desolation remains a barren land to this day. Its only residents are a few warped, disfigured humanoids and the unquiet spirits that walk the night. Both Dornath and the Karatanian Empire were largely sheltered from the blast behind their respective mountain ranges, and Khagan Velislav remains intent on spreading his corruption across Andur. The world has spent the last decade locked in a cold war, with each nation using sabotage, espionage, and proxies in an attempt to gain the upper hand.
Over the past decade, Dornath has struggled to rebuild itself. Although enemy armies never reached its borders, the nation suffered the loss of 2/3 of its adult male population, as well as the decimation of industries and trading partners.
King Edwyn has sat the throne in the capital city of Sevenoaks for nearly 30 years, during which time he has been severely tested by the war and its aftermath. Whereas he was once a ribald ruler when he took the throne, he is now bitter and deadly serious. He knows that it without constant vigilance, Khagan Velislav may yet have his victory.
Karatanian spies are everywhere, and the citizens of Dornath are wise to be constantly on alert for any sign of sabotage or terrorism. They have even planted stories that it was the Dornians themselves who caused the Great Destruction. When the brave patriots of the Realmsworn find those who spread these treasonous falsehoods, they are dealt with swiftly.