The dead stopped rising from their graves, and the demons were driven back to the thousand hells from whence they came. The great black fortress of Khalzed-Mauruk fell silent; its great furnace went dark. For a moment, we thought we had won, that Exterminis had been defeated.
We were wrong.
During the Immortal War, the great Dragons came to Erdael to protect the mortal realm from both celestials and infernals alike. The dragons were guardians of the natural world and protectors of the balance between the forces of creation and destruction. They were, themselves, neither angel nor demon, but rather natural animals from a distant plane of existence. As natural animals, they did what comes naturally to all animals: they procreated. A dragon, whose name has been lost to time, layed an egg far too close to Exterminis’ prison.
For ten thousand years, the poisonous hatred of Exterminis polluted the egg, preventing it from hatching yet feeding it and keeping it warm. Exterminis poured his anger, his rage, and his hatred into the egg. Foul demons chanted magical incantations over the egg in a non-stop litany of pain and suffering. The screams of a million tortured souls sang the embryo to sleep and soothed its tormented spirit. Finally, when the time was ripe, the egg cracked.
The volcano underneath Khalzed-Mauruk exploded. A great dragon soared into the air, riding the flow of lava. The beast was massive, at least a hundred times larger than any dragon that had come before it. When it roared, the mountains shook. The beating of its wings caused hurricanes and tornadoes, and its great claws dug canyons into the earth. And that flame! The fires of its lungs could boil the seas dry and melt the great glaciers of Meliyat.
Alteriax, the Devourer, had come to do what Kullervo could not.
No weapon could pierce its hide. No spell could damage its scales or cloud its mind. Using tooth and claw and flaming breath, the great dragon laid waste to the mortal realm.
With its terrible flaming breath, Alteriax burned the great wilderness areas of Erdael. The elves, kucheri, and ferals could not escape their fiery deaths. The great wyrm flew high over the mountains, then dove down with supernatural speed and raked his talons across the mountaintops, burying the dwarves underneath collapsing mountains.
Alteriax flew far to the North, to the frozen kingdom of the peri. There, it melted the arctic ice, and roasted the peri alive. Not even their powerful magics could stop Alteriax the Devourer!
The scattered remnants of humanity fled in terror and hid in caves, returning to a primitive life. Within three generations, all they had once known was forgotten. Thus ended the Age of Sorcery.
With the mortal realm all but destroyed, its natural resources almost completely depleted, The Devourer moved on, constantly striving to satisfy its insatiable appetite.
Art by Jack Duck