History of Balenos
Blessed by bountiful nature, people lived, lulled into the illusion of eternal abundance by the grain that lined every warehouse and the aroma of wine that accompanied every meal. They had lost themselves in their daily, honeyed prosperity, and no words of foretold disaster shared by an eccentric individual would sway them.
Yet disaster befell them.
The world turned mad.
As if possessed, the now blood-eyed people began to attack their neighbors and friends. Their strength increased, their reason abandoned, the violence spread until the entire world was engulfed in flames.
Then something happened. There were those that rose above the calamity. Holding black stones up high, they saved the world. They became known as the Edana.
Once the catastrophe had been overcome, theirs were prosperous and peaceful times, though not eternal. One day, time after these figures had already passed on, the civilization they fostered vanished.
A stone chamber in the southern reaches of a land yet to be called Balenos was sealed, and its vicinity became protected by the spirits of nature.
In the land of Balenos a towering castle arose, and with it the Kingdom of Cron was born.
Noir Bartali III had the reputation of being a kind and compassionate king for the common folk, and a cruel tyrant for the nobility. During his reign the opposition was purged, and the royal authority was strengthened.
With the passing of the years Cron grew stronger. At the same time, the king grew old. In time, the now feeble king’s ideals started to change. The once just Noir III became afraid of death, and more importantly, obsessed with living… By any means available.
One day, an alchemist arrived from across the desert in the east. He sought an audience with the monarch, and swayed him with promises of immortality if the kingdom assisted him in summoning the alchemist’s master. Noir III was convinced and accepted the stranger’s offer.
Soon, children and maidens were gathered to be sacrificed for the ritual the alchemist was preparing. All who opposed the king’s command were killed, or worse, and on the fateful day the ritual was carried out… The castle’s spires were toppled, and the entire structure shattered in an immense explosion that devastated the entire surrounding region, reducing even the kingdom’s urban center, located at the feet of the castle, to a sea of rubble. Nobody in the castle, including the monarch, was believed to have survived the incident.
It is said that a giant herd of something covered Balenos on that day turned night, and the accounts gathered from the nearest surviving inhabitants diverged greatly in regards to what they saw and heard during the event. Whatever happened, the Kingdom of Cron was no more.
In the wake of the catastrophe, some of the survivors of the kingdom gathered in the coastal village of Velia, while others dispersed throughout the continent.
Death had found its way all throughout the continent, and the Kingdom of Balenos was no exception. A terrible infectious disease from the east spread like wildfire. Later called the Black Death, it rotted the flesh of its victims black, and had no known cure. Those who were infected wailed in constant agony, suffered from hallucinations, and murmured something before succumbing to the malady.
While the initial wave of the illness disappeared as abruptly as it had appeared, it and its effects would linger on, only fully fading as the years went on gradually. By the end of it, roughly half of all the population in the western half of the continent had perished from the Black Death.
As a consequence of the tragedy, the higher classes of the various western countries rallied the masses and embarked on a conflict against the Kingdom of Valencia to the east, believing it to have caused the disaster that befell all.
In time, Balenos would find itself pitted against the might of Calpheon to the west, and like other neighboring nations such as Keplan and Heidel, would end up under the eagle’s control.
After a disastrous event took place in the year 277 EC, remnants from Mediah’s military, Balenos’ immediate neighbor to the east, moved in and occupied the ruined remains of Cron Castle. Not having a military force of their own, and seeing as the exiles did not move further west, the people of Balenos hoped for the best and decided to continue their simple lives, farming and fishing.
A few years later Calpheon ceased to be a monarchy, and Heidel established a guard camp in eastern Balenos to protect the land routes connecting the towns in Balenos and Serendia from the threat of the local imps to the north and the bandits from the south.
Under the Republic of Calpheon the land of Balenos was living in relative peace. Yet, dark clouds gathered above. Both the goblins and the imps were growing restless, and the group taking up residence in the castle ruins did not intend to vacate it.
One day, the personnel of the Western Guard Camp captured an injured ogre that was escaping from a nearby forest to the south. Upon investigating the creature’s origin, the soldiers found an open entrance to long-forgotten underground ruins, a stone chamber from the time of the Ancients. Soon after, an excavation effort was set up by the Grand Chamberlain of Heidel, and a famed explorer was hired to delve into the tunnels, for where there are ancient ruins, black stones are sure to follow.
As this was happening, rumors spread of a man clad in black wandering the land…