A common misconception amongst modern historians and their students is that the title of Dominion refers to the Dominion of Man. It most certainly does not. The original inhabitants referred instead to the Dominion of Hazlia, the Pantokrator, God of Mankind. And with his Fall the Dominion ended – but did not die.
Far to the east of the Hundred Kingdoms, past the Claustrine Mountains and the desert wasteland beyond it, lie the heartlands of the old Dominion. Once a continent-spanning power, the legions of the old Dominion were powerful enough to threaten even the elder races of the Dweghom and the Spires into acquiescence, or at least a semblance of it.
Past the once teeming valleys and fertile plains of the Heartlands lie the river valleys upon which Capitas, the greatest city of humanity ever built, was founded. And it is here, amongst the ruins of the holiest of cities of man that the remnants of Hazlia fell.
Wounded unto death, but immortal and driven to a towering rage by the betrayal of his subjects, Hazlia was pushed beyond the limits of despair and rage. In his hubris he sought to end the Old Dominion but was foiled by the sacrifice of another member of the Pantheon: Ninuah, the Mother.
Denied, broken and driven well past the edge of madness, Hazlia reached out to whatever power could answer his desperate need to avenge himself and punish his betrayal… and one answered. Death, the third Incarnate Soul of Destruction, had been bound beyond the reach of any being, living or dead, but Hazlia now stood in the threshold of both and could hear his call. Bending all his divine might, Hazlia was able to carve his way into Death’s prison as he Fell.
What happened within that forsaken realm is beyond the understanding of mortals and immortals alike but from the unholy fusion of those two polar Primordial elements an unholy amalgam was born: Undeath.
Animate but unalive, aware but un-souled, a new Primordial paradigm was born. Its rage-filled birth cry infused the thousands upon thousands of dead in Capitas and the Old Dominion beyond with a fraction of his essence granting them a ghastly unlife. The spiritual connection the deceased had with Hazlia made this transfer not just possible but remarkably easy. In fact, this birth cry was so powerful and uncontrollable that Hazlia poured too much of his essence into it, becoming little more than a single directive that lived within each of his undead creations: slay the living.
Almost no records of the butchery that followed exist outside of the most secret vaults of the Order of the Ashen Dawn. What little knowledge of this period exists is embedded into the dark myths and legends of the Rus, the last of mankind to flee the Old Dominion and cross the Claustrine Range to freedom. They alone, amongst all the remnants of mankind, were forced to face the untrammeled horror of Hazlia’s rage and despair made manifest and their myths, legends and cultural outlook reflect this.
Through the selfless sacrifice of the Last Legion and the last remaining god of the Triumvirate, Cleon, Hazlia’s horde was defeated but a primordial power as old and vast as a Horseman, even a corrupted one, cannot be defeated, merely contained.
And so it was that Hazlia’s power and his Will were severed. What the legion did with his Will remains the single most closely guarded secret of mankind, but his power has raged unchecked for centuries in the heart of the Old Dominion. In the center of Capitas there is a gigantic pit from which blazes a miles-high beacon of unlight: a powerful beam of dark fire that casts as much shadow as it does light, shrouding the entire city in a hellish glow of dancing shadows. This is the unfettered and unbound essence of Hazlia, fallen god of mankind; it is a corruption unlike anything that ever came before it and it has sung its siren song for centuries, drawing the mad, the broken, the despairing and the power hungry to it like moths to a flame.
Over the centuries, hundreds, if not thousands, of mortals have answered the call. Of these only a mere handful have survived, and they are the Anointed: the Prophet, the Warlord, the Speaker, the Seer, the Howler, the Keeper, the Branded, the Whisperer, and the Broken. The first whisper of their names is starting to be heard in the lands of man, a whisper that will soon burgeon to become a storm…