Calamians know very little about the actual history of celestials, but when the “Dark World” was still whole, they were a prosperous race that populated the mountainous regions of Israidius in the millions. Their cities were massive – great, sweeping vistas that interwove throughout entire mountain chains and forests. They were a generous people, with a reputation for helping those in need, and were highly regarded as craftsmen, especially for their potions, books, precious gems, and metals.
A society of high culture and art, they were well versed in trade, passionate about education, and ingenious when it came to the advancement of technology. Innovation was a key aspect of their society and one reason they were able to survive the great wars. Avid learners, problem solvers, and record keepers, they could adapt to almost any environment and often served in non-celestial communities as teachers, architects, and multi-lingual scribes.
Unfortunately, when Israidius was overwhelmed by the Corruption, a massive cataclysm that released a plague of dark spirits, celestials died in the thousands. Their cities were pulverized and the survivors were forced to flee their corrupted lands for the safety of a distant continent guarded by two powerful titans who’d erected a protective barrier to repel the spirits.
Celestials were only one of many races to take refuge in this land, which later became known as “The Sanctuary”, but within the safety of its borders they once again to began to flourish. As their population slowly recovered, they were granted a small territory along the coastal mountains. It was a harsh, rocky environment, thick with trees. The soil, mostly clay and slate, was unsuitable for farming and considered rather useless by the native inhabitants.
Celestial ingenuity, however, soon transformed it into a fabled paradise. Used to living in rocky conditions, these mountains proved to be a perfect home, and the celestials rapidly exploited the area’s natural resources. In less than a decade, they became the largest producers of cihadon ore, a durable bluish-gray metal, which rivaled the strength of Calamia’s finest steel. Celestial-crafted swords, spearheads, and shields became some of the most popular weapons on Israidius. This metal trade fueled their economy and gave them the means to build a incredible capital city.
Moonspire, so named because of the moon that always eclipsed the mountain, was a cultural mecca and the center of the celestial civilization. For generations, it stood as a symbol of peace and hope.
Then the War of Daishevar began.
The War of Daishevar was a pivotal event in Israidian history that divided the celestial people, not only from each other, but from their fellow Israidians. Although the Sanctuary was a safe zone protected by the titans, its barrier was weakening. Jeremas, the strongest of the titans, was desperate to find the Israidians a new home, and so he opened a portal to a new world – Calamia. It was a haven, not unlike Israidius before the Corruption, but it was also inhabited. There was no room for a large, new population. Still, Jeremas decided to take it by force.
The celestial elders were mortified by this solution. As children of Evithanon they could not condone such a war, which would destroy beings created by their God, but at the same time they also knew that their world was dying. It was a difficult choice, but in the end the elders refused to take part, risking Jeremas’ wrath and expulsion from the Sanctuary. Many other Israidians viewed their response as cowardice and called them traitors, but Jeremas – conscious of their dilemma – accepted their refusal to fight and permitted them to stay in the Sanctuary. However, in return for his tolerance, he demanded two things – a supply of celestial-crafted weapons made of cihadon ore and a promise of neutrality. The celestials would not have to participate in the war against Calamia, but they could not interfere and try to save the Calamians either.
The celestial elders were grieved, but they knew that their people would not survive if the Titan cast them out of the Sanctuary. They accepted his offer, much to their shame, and stood back while the Israidian armies flowed through the portal into Calamia. The War of Daishevar lasted forty-three horrible years, and the Calamians were slowly devastated. However, just when things looked their bleakest, Gornaz vanished and Jeremas was sealed away.
His armies retreated back to Israidius. Strife was inevitable, and the races of the Sanctuary became fractured and volatile once again as ambitious generals fought for the Valhardian throne. The celestials kept to themselves, trading only with their more hospitable neighbors, until Gornaz returned and began uniting the warring peoples. Once again, the celestials were offered a place in the Empire. Many wanted to accept, now that the war with Calamia was over, and help defend their own world from the threat of the corrupt. But the celestial elders, fearing that Gornaz might follow in Jeremas’ footsteps and incite a second war, asked the Titan to honor the old neutrality agreement. They would not dispute his rule and they would forge him weapons to help fight the corrupt beings on Israidius, but they would not serve as his soldiers. The Titan agreed and for centuries, the celestials lived in peace.
During this time, the ancient texts of the celestials, preserved from their old holdings in the corrupted lands, were housed within a great temple built for Evithanon. One particular item was kept out of the main library and put into a small, empty room. This text, engraved in stone, was referred to as “The Prophecy”. A celestial elder named Paramethius Asapteau wrote the Prophecy, believing that Evithanon had sent him a vision. Fearing the grim future it foretold, he broke the tablet in half, leaving the first section behind and taking the rest with him. Where he went is unknown, but some say he fled to Calamia. Because Paramethius was one of the strongest bishops of his time, the other elders could not discount his writings, but few wished to believe that such an ominous prophecy could come to pass. So they locked the broken tablet away and spoke of it rarely.
The first part of the tablet states:
“In our not so distant future fate will slip its hand into the lives of our people and change us all forever. A child, wingless, shall be born among us, and their coming shall herald the imminent desolation of our people. Within the child�s lifetime, the dark tides of our fate will bring us to our knees, cripple us, and scatter our remains across the universe.”
The years went by, and after a time the prophecy was forgotten.
Gornaz, meanwhile, worked to reunite the Israidian people and defend the Sanctuary’s borders. He began also, to experiment with taming the unruly creatures born of the corruption and so came to be familiar with one particularly violent group, dubbed the “Forsaken”.
Forsaken, as a race, stem from an unfortunate event known as the Corruption, which released spirits of darkness upon the lands of Israidius. These evil, cunning spirits – called Agheon – had always existed on Israidius, but were rarely seen before the disaster. Even among celestials, they were spoken of mostly in stories. Only a few celestial elders knew the reality of their existence and, if one appeared, they disposed of it quickly.
The Corruption, however, released Agheon in great numbers. These incorporeal spirits ran rampant, causing not only great suffering and death, but possessing the empty shells of their victims, twisting the carcasses into warped, demonic puppets. These evil incarnations became new beings, a combination of the dead flesh and the disembodied spirit that corrupted it. No remnants of the former soul remained.
During the Corruption, this scene was repeated over and over across every Israidian continent and through every Israidian culture. The Agheon possessed every creature they could, regardless of race, and these corrupted beings, some stupid and witless, others smart but insane, soon spread all over the world. Each race had their own name for these brutal ifrits. Some called them mazikin meaning “damaged ones”, some shedu or “storm demons”, others shabriri or “demons of blindness”. The celestials dubbed their corrupt brothers deiwos ptotos, “the fallen” or “forsaken”.
Thousands of slain celestials were resurrected as these horrible monsters, murdering and pillaging with wild abandon, but unlike many other corrupt beings overtaken by the Agheon, the forsaken were fiercely intelligent and malicious. To defend themselves against these monsters, the celestial elders gathered their people together and exposed the truths behind the ancient myths of the Agheon. From that day forward, celestials were trained to recognize the signs and symptoms of potential possession. Anyone thought to be exposed was brought before the elders, who dealt with the spirit and tried to destroy it.
Possession of a strong, living celestial is actually very difficult for an Agheon to achieve. The dead and dying they can easily overcome, but in order to possess a living celestial, an Agheon must find a weak or confused individual. They overwhelm the celestial with thoughts of depression and despair and eventually drive them to break their link with Evithanon.
If the link is successfully broken, the celestial victim experiences emotional trauma ranging from panic to despair. For a celestial, losing their link to Evithanon is like losing a limb or a loved one and without that connection life becomes unbearable and they die within a day. (A celestial can regain their link with Evithanon, but only if they find out how, and it is not always easy.) Once a celestial has weakened beyond all hope, the Agheon displaces its soul and assumes control over its body.
The newly born forsaken retains some ‘knowledge’ of their former host’s life, but they hold no empathy for it. Because forsaken are not redeemable (ie once a celestial has become a forsaken, it can never be a celestial ever again), all celestials are duty bound to destroy them. During the Corruption, many celestials were forced to kill their own brethren in order to prevent the transformation. Today, Agheon are rare, but when a celestial encounters a forsaken, they will almost always try to kill it.
Many centuries passed and the denizens of the sanctuary struggled to protect it from the constant threat of the corrupt. The weakening barrier allowed some corrupt beings to enter the protected borders and whole communities were often massacred before Gornaz’s troops could push them back or destroy them.
In 413 ADW, a stranger appeared in the lands of Isradius and joined forces with Gornaz. Very little is known about him, but he was a powerful creature called Derrek, the Hope Slayer. Derrek began to help the titan defend the sanctuary, assembling and training his own forces to combat the corrupt threat. Then in 764 ADW, one of Derrek’s units attacked and killed a group of celestial civilians traveling abroad outside their home territory.
When word of this attack reached Moonspire, the celestial elders immediately sent emissaries to Gornaz, demanding to know what had happened. Their messengers never returned, but Derrek, sporting a pair of wings strapped to his armor, was later seen taunting celestial troops along their borders. The elders, stunned by this gruesome display, made several attempts at peace, trying to reason with Derrek’s militia and get an ambassador through to Gornaz. But the titan did not respond to any further messages and celestials living abroad were targeted and killed. Finally, pressed by their military advisors and the outraged cries of a grieving populous, the elders were forced to declare war against the athdraki leader and all those who sided with him. They deported all foreign races from their lands and established a guarded front.
In 765 ADW, Derrek’s massive armies made their first assault on the celestial border. His troops were repelled, but not deterred. It was the beginning of a long, ugly war that incited great resentment, particularly between the celestials and the athdraki. At first, the celestials held their own, but Derrek proved persistent. He spent decades pushing the limits of celestial innovation and skill, learning by trial and error how to overcome their warriors and weapons.
In time, his propaganda swayed the Israidian populous, gradually cutting off trade and support. Then he developed special “killing units”, some drawn from the savage Israidian clans left behind on Calamia after the War of Darshivar, others from mercenary groups on Israidius. These units could successfully take on the celestial’s legendary “wall guardians” and elite soldiers. The celestials fought back, countering his forces with specially trained forces of their own, but it became a brutal game of cat and mouse. Without the support of the other races, the celestial defenses gradually weakened and their economy began a slow collapse.
Then, in 866 ADW, Lilithia Etendaria was born. Daughter to Kyrin and Isadrasei Etendaria, she was the first and only celestial child to be born without wings. She came as a complete shock to her family and the celestial people. It was a difficult time for a child to be born so different. War and isolation weighed heavy on her people and Lilith found her handicap as well as to the prophecy to be a great burden. She wasn’t treated cruelly, but there was really no place for her within society. Her family, at the request of the church, placed her in the care of Father Aetheocyn, a wise, gentle elder and the leader of the Celestial Council. Lilith quickly formed a bond with him that she lacked with her own parents.
Her birth, however, was viewed by many Israidian scholars as the beginning of the end for the celestial race. Economic instability and isolation were the key factors that led to their demise, but the fabric of their society was also tested by the prophecy’s ominous words. Rumors spread like wildfire. Was the prophecy really true? Was the end in sight? Fear and doubt entered the equation, causing strife among the elders who argued over the girl’s significance. They did not fear Lilith herself but, with the shadow of their enemy looming over them, they did fear what she represented. And this, some scholars maintain, was the proverbial nail in the coffin.
In the end, the celestial civilization was destroyed by Derrek’s armies, who overwhelmed their lands in 880 ADW and razed the capital city of Moonspire in a nighttime attack. After breeching the walls, Derrek ordered the mountain set ablaze and then unleashed his most savage soldiers upon the populous. These creatures massacred the population – torturing, mutilating, and eventually murdering every male, female, and child they found. No one was spared. The citadel was completely destroyed, lost in a pillar of flame and smoke that could be seen for hundreds of miles. By morning, all that remained was a smoldering pile of rubble.
No one really knows why Derrek fought so hard to destroy the celestials and, although his troops marched beneath the banner of a titan, the extent of Gornaz’s involvement is a nebulous affair. Israidian scholars speculate that a combination of factors led up to the conflict, including resentment among the other Israidian races due to the neutrality agreement forged during the Daishevarian War. The celestial’s refusal fight for a new home while the fathers and sons of other Israidians died on the battlefield may have been viewed as cowardice or, worse, disloyalty.
Later, issues surrounding the Forsaken, who were considered by many to be the most heinous of the corrupt beings, may have also played a role, motivating not only strong military support for Derrek’s fatal offensive, but a lack of popular resistance among Israidian commoners. Some scholars also believe that Derrek held a personal vendetta against Evithanon’s children, but no one knows for certain.
With the razing of Moonspire, the celestial “civilization” came to an end and the race itself would have been extinguished but for the efforts of Father Aetheocyn. The old celestial leader managed to open a portal to Calamia, but the gateway was unstable and everyone that entered was transported to random regions of the new world. Father Aetheocyn held the portal for as long as he could, but soon died from magi burn. The survivors fell to Calamia. Some died there, others wandered – lost in alien landscape with little refuge. The celestial prophecy had come to pass. To this day the celestial people remain widely scattered and separated. Because their kind are so few, humans consider them creatures of legend. There are no celestial towns or cities. These things are but echoes from the past. Most celestials live alone or in secret, blending in among humans and elysven, and trying to live peaceful lives. Some continue to serve as warriors and priests to Evithanon and travel throughout Calamia.