The Tenebris AuroraEditFormed in 215 AC after a Kaor taught a gentle human witch Darkness Magic, the Tenebris Aurora was originally a peaceful organization and the first gathering of Occultists on Valmasia. In the beginning, the Tenebris were lead by a single witch who traded her life force with a Kaor for its power and protection, accruing disciples as she traveled the land. These apprentices of the mysterious and furtive blood-witch would be the ones to carry on her tragic legacy and, eventually, declare themselves the "Shadow Aurora".
The Tenebris were initially a peaceful gathering until the late 260's. When King Arthor Pendragon obtained Excalibur, he foresaw the arrival of a Perfect Yokai, and immediately his Holy Knights began to exterminate Yokai. So afraid were these men of the Perfect that they did not merely cull monsters; human Occultists, who often lived in a shaky harmony with their Yokai, were also deemed a threat as potential servants of the Perfect and put to the sword. Many hidden villages and small Occultist clans were murdered in rapacious bloodshed, which enraged the main body of the Tenebris Aurora.
For the sake of vengeance, the leading Tenebris masters decided to forsake the grand witch's teachings, deciding to use Occult powers for retribution. The Tenebris Aurora began honing evil powers for war- dark spells which were capable of horrid destruction, and Yokai summoners among them began to gather monsters for battle rather than protection.
With the arrival of Mordred the Perfect in 290 AC, the Tenebris Aurora were already a militant organization locked in guerilla warfare with the Order of Light: they were all enthralled, seduced or manipulated by Mordred to aid him in an unholy campaign of destruction, chaos and consumption across Valmasia, in which the lost Kingdom of Mefarn was destroyed and replaced by the Deadland Marshes.
For centuries after Mordred's arrival, and generations after his death, the Tenebris Aurora continued to fight the Order of Light; they perfected many monstrous techniques of war and many of their mages were men born solely to fight, living in a harsh society devoted to the ancient battles lost in Valmasia's dark ages. They waged campaigns of destruction across the land until, finally, Ro'tro Exceliar seized Durendal and lead the Tenebris to victory under the black wings of a dark Phoenix- destroying the Order of Light and uniting Valmasia under him as High King.
Origins (215-265 AC)Edit
The Tenebris Aurora was a peaceful organization up until the formation of the Order of Light. Originally, they taught Dark Magic to carefully selected individuals able to retain their sanity, and were lead by the forgotten blood-witch who first discovered the Occult arts by consorting with a Kaor Yokai.
This era of the Tenebris was perhaps the most prosperous. Dark magic of this time was centered on self-defense; many curses only inflicted harm on one's attackers, and could turn one's own injuries into a source of power, used only when the user had already been attacked. The initial form of the dark arts were pure and tranquil; to resist Depravity, many Tenebris mages meditated and only used their magic when necessary, acknowledging it was a tool solely capable of destruction.
Yokai summoning techniques originated in the later years of this era. These were revolutionary, removing much need to fight Yokai at all, although they did endanger Yokai Summoners. Utilizing the dark arts to simulate Yokai telepathy was intensely demanding and held just as much risk of Depravity as any other Occult spell, requiring years of training and careful practice to master.
Retribution (265-290 AC)Edit
Yokai cullings lead by Arthor's Order of Light take on new extremes when human Occultists consorting with the Yokai are killed. The event sparks an outrage which leads the Tenebris masters to forsake their traditions of peace, who begin to modify and research more vicious uses of dark magic. Spells of torment and corruption are made during this time- evil magics which warp what they touch into malignant forms or torment the mind directly to slowly kill an adversary.
The Tenebris slowly amass power and avoid a direct confrontation. Instead, they recruit, condemn the Order of Light with propaganda and begin to amass a following of outcasts, criminals, dissidents and genuinely ambitious mages fascinated by the power of dark magic. The militant strength of the Tenebris Aurora rapidly increases during this era- though it does not see use until its end.
Middle Ages (290-304 AC) Edit
Mordred the Perfect arrives on Valmasia and begins destroying the Kingdom of Mefarn. The Tenebris Aurora are manipulated to his aid and begin assisting the Perfect in an unholy campaign of ravages and destruction across Valmasia in which thousands die and great cities burn.
Many Tenebris were enthralled by Mordred; many more, however, willingly became the Perfect's subjects. Mordred taught unprecedented secrets of dark magic to his most competent followers and gave humans hidden Occult spells- most of which are lost to this day. It was for this power that ambitious warlocks consciously became the overfiend's soldiers in a war on Valmasia.
With the death of Mordred, the Tenebris struggled even though Arthor Pendragon had died of his injuries. They were scattered and forced into the shadows; once again reduced to a guerilla organization, they act against the Order of Light from behind the scenes and slowly recover their strength.
Disarray (304-380 AC) Edit
The Tenebris Aurora remain in disarray, unable to form a cohesive front against the Order of Light. Single efforts and sect leaders emerge during this time- but no one splinter faction prevails, with little hope of the Tenebris returning until finally the Tenebris masters band together again under a single cause in 380, leading to the re-emergence of the Occultists and the beginning of Valmasia's most war-torn era.
Era of War (380-503 AC) Edit
The Order of Light and Tenebris Aurora wage horrid wars so devastating they plunge Valmasia into the dark ages for over a century. Villages rise and fall- and countless die in savage warfare that only escalates as casualties turn more and more dire. New spells, technologies and crafts are invented during this time... often solely to be used in wartime.
Ro'tro Exceliar (503-512 AC) Edit
In the most extreme period of the ancient war, a single Occultist of fabled power rises to prominence: his name echoes through Valmasia even today, as High King Ro'tro. But before Ro'tro became the man to wear the High Crown over a united Valmasia, he was a military leader of exceptional history.
During a quest that is forgotten to history- Ro'tro obtained the Cursed Sword Durendal, likely having stolen it from the betrayer Tristan's unmarked grave. Despite the maddening effects of the corrupted weapon Ro'tro manages to master its power and holds it high as a beacon to his men- which only grows more powerful as he rallies the Tenebris and their growing allies with speeches devoted to human freedom, toppling a corrupt upper class and creating a new Valmasia.
The Tenebris masters fall behind Ro'tro, who becomes the single leader of the Tenebris Aurora: a silent title that commands deafening authority. With only his sheer power and charisma, Ro'tro leads battles to victory against the Order of Light across Valmasia. The reclusive Drakanite tribes were partly sympathetic to the Tenebris, mostly because the Order of Light's leaders had offended their own elders, but also for Ro'tro's cause of creating a truly peaceful Valmasia freed from the Era of War- a time that had been nothing but fighting and desolation for over a hundred years.
In a final great battle, Ro'tro lead the Tenebris and their allies against the Order of Light in a total war to decide which organization would unify the continent. While his subordinates fought the Exorcist's main army, he engaged their leader, Celeste Brighton, and her closest allies in combat- alone. When it seemed Ro'tro would be overwhelmed and defeated... he cast a spell which has not been seen since the battle of 512 AC, summoning the depraved power of a Dark Phoenix which enabled him to slaughter Brighton and her trusted knights in an epic battle that completely destroyed the Order of Light's fortress.
With the Order of Light scattered, scoured and purged from the land, Ro'tro became High King... but vanished not long after ascending to power. There are many legends as to why he perished. There is brief historical mention of a large, secret ritual in which he used the aid of many mages to an unknown purpose, disappearing shortly after in silence. His sudden disappearance left Valmasia unhealed and scarred by war, and plucked utterly of the Order of Light.
After Ro'tro's disappearance, the Order of Light was no more, and most Tenebris mages departed from their strict and elusive society to join the villages of Valmasia. These Occultists and their descendents slowly shed their traditions and much of the old Tenebris ways were lost, the organization itself slowly dissolving into the modern kingdoms of Valmasia. No known formal Tenebris Aurora is known to exist today on Valmasia...
After their initially peaceful beginnings, the Tenebris quickly became a militant organization with harsh laws. Outsiders were welcomed into the organization but strictly held to their worth- your standing in the organization was only what you earned.
Originally a society of scholars built around dark magic, the Tenebris became a powerful force of research. The organization's masters were those of vast knowledge and potent magic alike. Many ancient Tenebris spells are still used by Occultists today... all of which were created for the purpose of war, vengeance and total conquest.
As the Tenebris Aurora aged their organization became more structured. Arthor's scattering of the organization prompted it to develop hard-lines of rigid protocol; there was not much strata to the Tenebris hierarchy, and its ranks consisted simply of thralls, apprentices, war-mages and maters. Tenebris members tended to follow this hierarchy even in disdain, although lower ranks often challenged their superiors to take their status by right of power.
Thralls: The lowest class of the Tenebris Aurora; in the middle ages, these were all of Mordred's mind-controlled battle slaves, few of which ever rose to consciousness. But willing servants of little or no magic also fell into this category. Later, it is was the class of initiates and recruits, who were seen as entranced by the power of the Tenebris' long-honed arts of destructive magic.
Apprentices: All Tenebris Masters are charged with taking apprentices, and the only criteria for them is that they stand out from other Thralls in at least one useful quality. If a thrall proved themselves- they were apprenticed to a Master, and trained in such a way that built upon the talents they had already damaged. Elemental mages might be taught magic such as Shadowflame or Hellstorm to compliment their magic, whereas Yokai summoners or other kinds of Occultists would be taught different abilities to compliment their spellcraft.
War-Mages: Apprentices were 'promoted' when they survived exceptional battles. Those who demonstrated mastery over their training were taken again, this time under multiple masters, to undergo a grueling semester of harsh combat conditioning. In this time most all War Mages emerged as master Occultists themselves and were schooled in the rigid conduct expected of proven Tenebris mages.
Masters: Warrior mages who attained vast power in the Tenebris Aurora inevitably accrued infamy and renown. The most talented, most infamous of these powerful sorcerers were declared 'masters'. These were often Occultists so powerful that Imperfects could not control them- who instead offered them prestige and power to retain their loyalty, although some Occultists rebelled against their masters to seize even more power in the organization.
Children born among the Tenebris Aurora were always judged on two things; their magic, and their will to live. Early on small children were subjected to simple trials and torments to see if they would fight hard enough against them, as well as tested early in life for magical abilities... and those who did not have them were killed. The Tenebris Aurora had scarce resources for many years and did not take in people who could not contribute to the organization's power.
While a technically free society, the Tenebris were so focused on power that their laws only preserved their own people's lives enough for the sake of fighting the Order of Light, as the desire for vengeance eventually became a deep hatred for the Exorcists that outlived any memory of why the Tenebris fought them. As a result- Tenebris villages were not prosperous, and often frugal, although they were always resilient and defensible.
One of the Tenebris Aurora's best strengths was its research: its scholars had no morals, scruples or limitations on what they would do to invent new magic or weaponry. They often performed human experiments- writing rune patterns on their own bodies that augmented their mana circuitry or reflexively cast spells, using the same techniques on simple machines to create some of the first magitech on Valmasia. Unfortunately, most of it was lost during the Era of War, but the ancient ruins which contained it remain unexplored today...
Originally just a militant society of strict tenets, the Tenebris Aurora in the end became a more open society defined by virtues such as freedom, opportunity and liberation from the Order of Light. People who were dissatisfied or offended by the Exorcists flocked to this propaganda, largely contributing to the Tenebris Aurora's victory.
Occultists from the Middle Ages were, on occasion, brought to Mordred and his generals for a sinister purpose: dismemberment, after which the Imperfect hierarchy and sometimes the Perfect himself would graft parts of their own bodies into the maimed mages to replace their lost flesh. This was an experiment to create humans who had Yokai blood- an ideal intermediary for the Yokai to maintain rule over their human subjects.
Sacrificial mages, warriors maimed in battle, and dying Occultists alike were all subjected to this process. The exact secrets of it have been lost to time; however, at some point, the technique was perfected. Roughly 1/5th of all mages to undergo grafting would survive and begin to acquire Yokai-like qualities.
Initially just called Halfbreeds, the surviving mages of the experiment acquired permanent hereditary qualities that are the norm of Malpercians today. They were unable to resist Depravity, learned darkness magic naturally and could never free themselves from the black arts, becoming Mordred's ideal subjects and most trusted agents: many consisted a secret police of sorcerers, used by the Perfect for special missions both within and without the Tenebris-dominated lands.
When Mordred fell, most Malpercians were so alienated from the rest of the Tenebris by the favor of the Yokai lords that they broke off from the organization rather than persevered with it, contributing to the disarray of the Tenebris Aurora. The largest sects of Malpercians isolated themselves in remote regions to await a new Perfect Yokai; they exist today, as xenophobic clans whcih retain the harsh magocratic culture of the Tenebris Aurora.
However, when Ro'tro Exceliar rose to prominence and began to lead wars across the land against Exorcism, many Malpercians left their ancestral villages to join the Tenebris Aurora again as part of the Occultist forces battling the Order of Light.
Tenebris Masters Edit
Aside from Ro'tro, there were many members of the Tenebris Aurora who commanded presence throughout the ancient times, moving the organization in great strides in its long evolution to become the power that toppled the Order of Light.
Ro'tro Exceliar (500's): A legendary master of darkness and swordplay alike utilizing a forgotten Blade Style that suffused might and curses in perfect harmony. Able to bring a foe low by a single swoop of his blade- Ro'tro was feared for his power, but most of all admired for his fabled charisma. He vanished after conquering the continent and destroying the Order of Light's final fortress- leaving only the Cursed Sword to reappear after him in the later centuries.
The First Witch (215 AC): A nameless woman who utilized both Occultism and Blood Magic, said to have invented both. By trading her life force with a Kaor she received knowledge of Dark Magic via the Yokai's telepathy, acquiring the first darkness spells to be used on Valmasia. She teaches them freely, encouraging her subjects to be careful with the use of her power, creating the tradition of peace that survived in the Tenebris Aurora for fifty years.
Nameless Death Mage (Early 500's): Among Ro'tro's followers was a Malpercian who had attained the powers of Death, a lost rare magic. There are accounts of this 'legendary sadistic warrior' killing many heroes in cold blooded murder to absorb them through Sacrifice; fearful tales persevere in old diaries and record accounts of the man's mutated right arm, a horrid gnarled appendage covered in warped eyeballs. It is said he vanished along with Ro'tro after the Tenebris victory, sailing to another continent in pursuit of Order of Light refugees...
Mauldron (431-513 AC): A feared illusionist who merged his spells with curses to create nightmares that could cause people injuries from wounds they suffered only in their dreams. Mauldron was a skilled assassin and a powerful Tenebris war-mage, so highly reputed that he was promoted to the station of general during the era of war. He pioneered illusion magic with many insidious spells, the highest of which brought night terrors to life.
Malpercius (295-358 AC): The legendary forebear of the Malpercius clans. Malpercius himself was but one of the many thralls created by Mordred's meddling with human flesh to create new minions. Supposedly fused with a piece of the Perfect's own body, Malpercius was an Occultist of horrific power taught by Mordred's own generals. He abused the trust he earned from his Yokai masters to convince the Imperfects that their rivals plotted against themselves and Mordred, Sacrificing many of them under false charges of treason in order to grow his own powers. In the end- he became so obsessed with his own power that, after thousands of sacrifices, he began to sacrifice himself with rituals that crippled him in exchange for power; he was reduced to a senile mage in a wheelchair for the last quarter of his life, in which he accrued many apprentices and disciples, one of which was ultimately charged with Sacrificing him and inheriting the Diabolicon.