Long ago, along the banks of the rivers now called the Asquelle, Oreuse, Vitroux, and Meine, there lived five tribes: one for each of the Gods, though these people were as yet ignorant of the Pentad. The land that Oraphe had gifted them was lush and green nonetheless, the climate fair, and the forests rich with game. At times, it was true that Echeran raised his mighty sword and there was war among them but, more often than not, there was bounty enough for all and they lived in Ipté's peace.
Centuries passed and, as Chune granted them more of her wisdom, the five tribes began to apply her Gift of magic in simple ways. They built villages and towns, pushing back the forests with their dark, rugged reaches and savage beasts. Farms came to cover the hillsides: swaying seas of golden rye, barley, oats, and lentils dotted with thatched-roof huts and cottages. Gradually, the five peoples became one and their numbers grew. They began to call themselves something new: Parren. Dami was pleased by their sound judgement and blessed them greatly for many years.
But the five-tribes-turned-one were simple yet, compared to their neighbours from the rocky, sweltering north. These had built a vast empire on blood, gold, and magic. They, too, were many, and greatly blessed by Echeran, whom they worshipped in marble temples. Now, they turned their greedy eyes south towards the lands of those they called Parencii. How simple was the conquest.
Yet, for all of their initial brutality, these Avincians proved just and fair as masters and, in time became brothers with the Parencii and the others whose lands they had marched upon. Once again the people of the Asquelle, Oreuse, Vitroux, and Meine thrived. They learned a great deal in this time - most of all, the names and magics of the Gods - and nobody could call them simple anymore. They built their homes of stone and plowed their fields with oxen and slaves gained from conquest. Their victories became those of the Avincians and the Avincians' theirs.
However, the same was true of their defeats, for such are the Gods of the Pentad that they give and they take. The peoples of Sipente ebb and flow no differently than their world does. Too much, those of the arid north liked their gold, and their empire weakened from within. From the south now, lands cold and unforgiving, blessed only with winds, snows, and a wealth of minerals, came a new threat: the Eskandr.
Their magics were fresh and strong and their fury and lust like nothing the Parencii nor their Avincian masters had ever seen. By fire and sword, they set upon the more civilized peoples' homes, farms, and businesses and razed them to the ground. To their frigid and desolate lands, the Eskandr took the accumulated wealth of generations: the gold, spices, and marble, the strong men as slaves, and the beautiful women as unwilling wives. Those left behind howled for vengeance and, within a decade, formed the backbone of the mighty Avincian legions which struck south.
On the banks of the Meine, the two armies fought to a bloody standstill. The empire recovered itself somewhat and staggered on for another two hundred years. The Eskandr bided their time but, when the thousand year city of Avince and its civilization fell, it was not they who did the deed. Rather, among others, it was the Parench. For quite some time, they had been doing the dragon's share of the work and receiving scant little of the reward.
For their greed, Dami judged them wanting and Echeran laid them low. Plague and famine swept the lands of the dead empire. Petty kings, conquerors, and strongmen carved the great corpse into small, feuding realms. Roads fell into disuse, temples into ruins, and forests full of wolves and bandits encroached upon farmland. As they lay bleaching in the subtropical sun, bricks were scavenged from the great, overgrown bones of the old Avincian cities. Public baths, stadiums, and libraries became humble huts and longhouses. Books became kindling and the practice of magic became strange and arcane.
Now, the Eskandr returned, and they feasted on the soft lands to the North. Under many banners but with one purpose and a common set of heathen gods, they raided up and down the coast and then began to strike inland. The villages of the Parench burned once more and there were a hundred different men who claimed that they would act as saviour to their people: the one to take on and defeat this scourge of Echeran. They would not share their glory, however and, instead, they carved their own lands up in bloody warfare. Only after dozens of these would-be heroes lay dead and the heathens ran rampant, extracting tribute and taking slaves, did the remainder swallow their pride and adopt the titles of dukes, counts, barons, and margraves.
On the shore of the Étroite Sea lies the old Avincian city of Solenium, with its handsome stone buildings, cobble streets in their original grid pattern, and palm trees that sway in the maritime breeze. Renamed Solenne by the Parrench, it was here that the proud lords of the land, near to broken from their wars against each other and Eskandr alike, gathered on the Ides of Verdi. As cathedral bells chimed and the year’s first flowers bloomed outside, they bowed their heads and pledged their fealty to a new king: a first among equals.
The ruler of the unified Parrench people, Arcel, is a young man, for it was truly his father Rouis who won the crown and then expired too soon to wear it. Some say he is clever, handsome, and strong in The Gift. Others say that his are a young man's dreams and too grand to make for reality. Dukes and counts whisper and scheme. Margravines curtsy and court him. They say he will fail but, in truth, he must succeed, or the bold experiment that is one Parrench nation will fail with him and become a feast for the Eskandr.
To that end, in cities, towns, and even the largest of villages, King Arcel's agents now appear. For those few who can read, parchments are hammered onto posts and church doors while innkeepers and town criers relay the king's message for the many who cannot. Arcel, first of his name, King of the Parrench, calls all willing and able warriors skilled in the use of The Gift to the town of Relouse, on the southern frontier. Knights, Wizards, Rangers, and Scoundrels alike, he calls them to fight for the future of their people.