They came under the prodigious shadow of Mount Vaznar when the lands were still and quiet; a band of a few hundred Human exiles, each carrying morsels of their past lives that had cast them away. Little did these outcasts know that the quiet volcanic slopes on which their tired feet trudged were anything but sleeping. Under the cloak of night, the belly of Mount Vaznar shook the ground. Streams of red surged from its mouth and patterned the rock in scorching veins. Many of the exiles fell that night, their bodies turning to calcified statues in the hot ash. But some were met with a different fate - for, on this night, the Magmarai were born.
Magmarai of Erendorn
In the fiery pits of Mount Vaznar, creatures made from rock and lava emerge every night through the billows of black smoke. From atop their calcine summit, they often watch over the desiccated land around them, looking out for the hopeless and despairing who travel to the volcano to become one of them. These creatures are Magmarai, a species born from the volcano itself who spend their days trying to discover the truth behind their creation.
But Magmarai were not born this way. Once mere Humans, they were transformed in the eruption of Mount Vaznar many decades ago. Their flesh united with fire, their veins ran with lava, and thus they were reborn. Now, those with nothing else to live for will pilgrimage from the Human Kingdom to the land of the Magmarai, beseeching to be reborn as they once were.
No food or water is needed to keep this species alive. Their entire existence is inextricably bound to Mount Vaznar, and as such they are impervious to flames. No amount of heat can harm these volcanic creatures; Magmarai often submerge themselves in pools of lava in worship of the earth and fire that created them. Led by Thullan the Reborn, the Magmarai have a notorious reputation among the Humans as overzealous fools whose minds and bodies have been corrupted as a punishment for their maniacal behaviour. But few know the truth of how the Magmarai came to be. It all began with a young boy who would later become an explorer, a leader, an exile and finally, the ruler of all Magmarai.
Origins of Thullan the Reborn
Thullan the Reborn was once the Human son of a humble merchant, stealing away into the dusty corners of his father’s workshop where he would gaze upon the newest trinkets and troves. But there was another fascination held within the heart of this child. From his youngest age, Thullan always had a peculiar interest in fire, often staring at its flames in sheer wonderment.
With his father’s status as a worldly merchant, many tradesmen and adventurers would approach his stall. Some would even meet with him under the veil of night if they had something of importance to sell. On these nights, Thullan would accompany his father, losing himself in the campfire’s blaze until business was done and the embers were blue. But one night, something else appeared at the campfire, something that young Thullan could not ignore.
The Fire Dagger
Emerging from the midnight thicket, a mighty warrior stepped forward and introduced himself to the merchant. Thullan overheard his hushed tones about how he had recently returned from the dungeon depths and, having battled against inconceivable evils, had acquired a few items he wished to sell. But that was all young Thullan heard because the glinting red dagger clipped to the warrior’s belt caught his attention and trapped it there.
Wisps of pale flames encased the blade of the dagger, dancing along the steel and glowing warmly in the darkness. It was a fire dagger, Thullan heard the warrior say to his father, and it was particularly powerful. As the night wore on, Thullan continued to gaze at the dagger from afar, amazed at how, unlike the campfire, its flames never seemed to burn out.
For many days after the warrior’s visit, Thullan’s mind became consumed by thoughts of what could power such an item; and when nobody could give him an answer, he decided to dedicate himself to seeking out the truth. Thus, the fire dagger sparked in Thullan a lifelong obsession with magical objects and how they came to be - but his mind never strayed too far from the call of fire.
As the years unfolded, Thullan continued to devote his life to seeking answers that were not there - answers for why powerful items were scattered through Erendorn’s depths, answers for why the warrior’s fire dagger glowed with an eternal flame. He even sought to discover the meaning of life itself, an obsession that clouded his mind and eventually led to his exile.
Many years did Thullan spend travelling Erendorn in search of these truths. He travelled to the Nine Deeproot Trees of the High Forest, where he beseeched the Grand Druid Kal’velar to share his wisdom, to no avail; he journeyed to the shores of The Deep, imploring the Watertargs to give him access to their ancient scrolls, but they refused; Thullan even scaled Erendorn’s perilous mountain ranges to ask the wise Parakaws to let him into their Divine Library, but when he reached the summit he was turned away.
While his mission was failing, Thullan’s following was growing. Over time, word of his ambitious journey attracted the attention of many fellow Humans who joined him on his quest to uncover the truths that Erendorn had hidden beneath its surface. With his cause gaining momentum in this way, Thullan was soon followed by a few hundred loyal acolytes; but little did they know that with Thullan’s unravelling obsession and oncoming discovery, their days as living Humans were numbered.
After a trio of decades slipped by like sand passing through an hourglass, Thullan and his acolytes had journeyed to many distant lands, examined multiple artefacts and read hundreds of books and tomes. With his father long dead, they collated all their findings in the old wooden home where Thullan’s passion was first lit. In the later years, Thullan would stay locked up inside this cabin where he would analyse every scroll, tome and artefact until sleep swept upon him like a crashing wave. One night, however, as he read beneath the flickering candlelight, Thullan happened across a scroll that completed the thirty-year-old tapestry he had sewn in his head.
The acolytes all dropped to their knees in admiration as Thullan fell upon them with news that he had made the ultimate discovery, the one they had been searching for for all those years. Whatever Thullan saw in that treasured scroll led him to discern that Erendorn was not just an insentient world that hosted civilisations - it was something more than that, something bigger and more profound. Holding what he believed to be the most groundbreaking discovery in not only Human history, but in the history of all races, Thullan raced to the King and his Council of Seven to share his findings, though he was not met with the praise he felt he so greatly deserved.
The Path of Exile
With his acolytes in loyal tow, Thullan marched through the gates of the Kingdom’s Royal Citadel. As he told of his cause and outlined his discovery to the King and Council, concealed smirks played on the noblemen’s lips, hidden by rich, aristocratic sleeves that they pulled up to their mouths to hide their derision.
Thullan was furious at the Citadel’s dismissal of his research. The obsession that had slowly festered in his mind since boyhood suddenly began escalating as more and more people looked down on his work. At every snicker, sneer and scoff, a hot rage swelled inside Thullan as he realised that his few hundred acolytes were all that seemed to believe him. He began unravelling, locking himself inside his father’s hut for days on end as he poured over his research in a desperate attempt to not only prove his theory, but also his sanity.
And then one day, fury seized Thullan and possessed him.
One night, as Thullan and a few of his followers wandered through the moon-kissed streets of the main city, a group of brazen disbelievers harangued them with admonitions and reprimands. Flying into an uncontrollable rage, Thullan lunged forward and attacked one of the men. Soon after, a brawl between both sides erupted in the quiet stone streets; and when the Cityguard finally arrived to quell the uproar, it was Thullan and his acolytes who were arrested and taken to the Citadel for punishment.
The following morning began with a proclamation: all followers of Thullan and his cause were to be banished from the Human Kingdom for the rest of their days. Harassment, civil unrest and the violent propagation of a subversive message were the official crimes of the group. And so, with only the bare minimum of possessions in their keeping, Thullan and his acolytes were exiled from the Human Kingdom, forbidden from ever returning.
The Journey to Mount Vaznar
Day turned to night. The sunlight turned cold and the small bundles they carried grew heavier as their strength grew weaker. Soon, the morose band of exiles found that their hunger could no longer be staved and that sleep would no longer wait. Desperate for a place to stay amidst the unforgiving wilderness they found themselves in, Thullan somehow found his feet leading the way towards Mount Vaznar, an ancient volcano that sat on the horizon like a foreboding giant.
As a child, Thullan always had a fascination with Mount Vaznar. From the roof of his small wooden home, he would watch its smoke plume high into the sky, curling like black, ghostly tendrils. Born from his years of research and lifelong obsession with the fire dagger, Thullan somehow knew that the answer to whatever they were looking for lied in the fiery reaches of Erendorn’s northward volcano.
Upon arrival, it was imperative that the band of exiles found shelter so that they could rest their weary legs and let the first sleep in many days wash over them. Looking around at the charred ground, broken apart by deep crevices where lava once flowed, Thullan decided that their best chance of finding refuge would be to ascend Mount Vaznar itself. Wrapping their pitiful winter shawls around their fatigued bodies, the group of a few hundred Humans began climbing up the volcano like desperate ants.
By the time they reached the first ledge, a bloody dawn had already begun breaking through the blackness. Looking over the precipice, Thullan saw the last remnants of his group struggle along the craggy slopes. Their palms were cut and bloodied by the sharp, black rock of Mount Vaznar - but this pain was not felt for long because, a few moments after the band of exiles had reached this ledge, their adventure took an unexpected turn.
Ash and Fire
Out of nowhere, the ground began violently shaking; the blackened rock was trembling and quaking. Above Thullan, a white hot glow burst from the mouth of Mount Vaznar and lava began raining over the land like neon droplets of fire. Pyroclastic rocks ripped through the air, lacerating their skin and boiling the edges. The volcano was erupting.
Thullan and his comrades tried to run, but a pool of bubbling lava trapped them in the corner of the ledge. The air became thick with black, toxic smoke so that a person could no longer see the fellow acolytes at their side. The heat was unbearable, the air was unbreathable and then all of a sudden, travelling down the flanks of Mount Vaznar at unfathomable speed, a wave of volcanic ash fell upon Thullan and his followers before they could even shield their eyes.
This is where the story should end. Thullan met death at the hands of his lifelong obsession, and his forlorn band of exiles died faithfully on those burnt rocks. But this is not where this story ends, and this is not where Thullan ends.
Creation of the Magmarai
After the decimation, once the ash had settled and the lava was tamed, Thullan found himself blinking awake to a pale, overcast sky. How did he manage to survive that, and why? It wasn’t long before those questions fell to the back of Thullan’s mind because, as he looked down at himself, he was suddenly overcome with shock to see what the fury of the volcano had done to his body.
Thullan’s skin was all but eviscerated, replaced by black plates of rock that wrapped around his frame like armour. In between the cracks, white hot lava flowed gently, burning brightly against its rugged confinements. Nothing about Thullan was Human at all and, as he began looking around the volcano frantically, he realised that many of his followers had met the same fate. That day, several hundred Humans rose from the cloaks of ash as the first members of a new race: Magmarai, a species born from the fires of Mount Vaznar.
Overcome with an intoxicating elation, Thullan soon began testing the limits of his new body. Since lava now flowed through him, he decided to walk over to a gurgling pool of it that had previously trapped them on the ledge. To the shock of his acolytes, Thullan slowly began lowering himself into the shallow pool until he was sitting - and it did not harm him. Whatever had happened on the night of the eruption had not only transformed the group of adventurers, it had also made them impervious to fire. Thullan began orating rhapsodies of gratitude and worship to Mount Vaznar; but this momentous occasion was tinged with despair, for only a few hundred Magmarai were born that night.
Sea of Statues
While the majority of Thullan’s group were transformed in the eruption, there were many who met their end when the scorching wave of volcanic ash swept over them. Over a hundred Humans died that night, the intense heat killing them before they could suffocate.
When Thullan went in search of his missing comrades, hopeful that they too had been transformed, he was instead met with a sea of nearly a hundred stone-like statues, the calcified remnants of his unwaveringly faithful acolytes - or so he believes.
Over the years, much speculation has surrounded the Sea of Statues. While some say that the tragedy was sheer coincidence, others say that only those who possessed a dishonest heart were the ones who fell. But, like everything in Erendorn, the truth of this is cloaked in uncertainty. To this day, it is said that a few of these statues still remain, frozen in time with their backs turned to Mount Vaznar, eternally trying to escape its fury.
Since their creation, Magmarai continue to dedicate their lives searching for hidden answers and truths. Desperate to know why they were saved from the volcano, many Magmarai have even ventured into Erendorn’s dungeon depths in the hope that they will uncover something that points them in the right direction. But they are no closer to discovering this truth than they were all those decades ago, and as the lands of Erendorn continue becoming more vicious by the day, the Magmarai have another important priority: to grow their numbers.
Ritual of Rebirth
While the Magmarai are a truly extraordinary species, the majority of Humans see them as abominations, a cautionary tale to teach children the dangers of turning your back on the Kingdom. Some believe the Magmarai have been cursed for their curiosity; others believe they are nothing more than madmen who dabbled in witchcraft to point that their appearance became mutated. Whichever is believed, Humans do not look kindly upon Magmarai.
However, there are a select few who see the Magmarai in a different light. Those who have nothing to live for, from the lowly peasant to the beaten beggar, often travel to Mount Vaznar in the hope that they will be reborn as a Magmarai themselves. This is a ritual that the race has carried out for many years. Over time, they discovered that while a Human cannot survive the fires of Mount Vaznar’s lava pools, if they enter one whilst holding onto a Magmarai, the lava actually flows through their bodies, uniting them with fire and transforming them. Only Humans are accepted to be reborn as a Magmarai because no one knows how another species would react to Vaznarian fires.
Hatred for the Humans
Over the years, more and more Humans have travelled to the volcanic slopes of the Magmarai settlement in the hope of abandoning their troubled lives. It pleases Thullan to not only see their numbers grow, but to also know that the Human Kingdom that cast him away all those years ago is slowly slipping into disorder.
It also satisfies Thullan to know that the more troubles that plague the Human civilisation, the more recruits the Magmarai get. Disorder has begun bleeding through the Kingdom, driving more and more people towards the Magmarai, who are superior in every way. Their lives are extended by almost three centuries and they don’t rely on the mortal ways of survival; food, drink and sleep have all become distant memories for this species.
Their resistance to fire as well as impeccable immune systems also make the Magmarai extremely difficult to kill. As their power increases day by day, and hordes of Humans continue to flock to Mount Vaznar, begging for redemption, Thullan only finds that the deeply entrenched hatred he has harboured for over fifty years is just becoming more and more profound; and no one knows if or when this resentment will take hold of their grand leader - it wouldn’t be the first time.
While the Humans loathe the Magmarai, other races fear them. Legends of Mount Vaznar’s offspring have travelled across all corners of Erendorn, each one unique in its telling. Many live in anticipation of the day that these fire-resistant creatures become a formidable, powerful race - but with hundreds of beasts to fear in Erendorn, the Magmarai are just another addition to an already perilous world.