Prologue and Explanation:

Author's Note: I added a short summary of Eberron for readers who aren't familiar with Dungeons and Dragons' newest campaign world.

Eberron is a world in which magic has been tamed and advanced to the point of replacing technology. Magewrights work tirelessly at powerful creation forges, turning out everburning lamps, healing draughts, and even the Warforged: golem-soldiers made of living stone and metal. The continent of Khorvaire, the main continent of Eberron, is criss-crossed with railroad tracks on which fantastic, elementally-fuelled Lightning Rails carry goods and passengers all over the world. An information network made up of crystal balls and whisper-stones allows for the free flow of news and stories across the world, and there is even an international newspaper: the Korranberg Chronicles. In the last few years the inventors of House Cannith have even discovered how to build grand flying airships.

Eberron is also a world at war. Civil war has gripped the grand empire of Galifor for nearly a century, splitting it into five lesser nations and numerous splinter territories. Generations have been born and died knowing only war, and many fear that if peace does not come soon, it may destroy the continent. The people of Khorvaire, sickened at the thought of sending any more of their brave boys and girls into the grinder, have lately started replacing their human troops with Warforged golems. The living constructs are little more than slaves, fighting and dying loyally for any faction that can afford them.

The five nations of Eberron are:

Aundair: a haughty nation famed for its arcane libraries and ample farmland. Aundair has used the war to settle a longstanding grudge with Thrane and Breland.

Breland: a cosmopolitan, democratic country whose economy is based on trade and manufacturing. The Brelish navy is larger than most and, until recently, they supplemented their forces with goblinoid mercenaries and monsters.

Cyre: the center of art, fashion, and invention for much of Khorvaire. Also literally the center of Khorvaire, Cyre, surrounded on all sides by enemies, has suffered the worst under the war. Only their technological edge - including masses of Warforged infantry - and a core of seasoned veterans has allowed them to survive.

Karrnath: a cold, regimented country with a historic tradition of military conquest. Karrnath is a land of dark secrets and strong fortresses. In Karrnath, even the dead defend the fatherland, and the ranks of the Karrnathi infantry are supplemented by skeletons, zombies, and other undead warriors.

Thrane: The holy land of Thrane is the home of Eberron's newest religion, the Silver Flame. At their capital of Flamekeep, a divine pillar of holy fire makes its commandments known to worshipful apostles by possessing the body of a young girl, the Keeper of the Flame. Thranes fight with discipline and bravery, faithfully defending not only their nation but their god.

Additionally, Khorvaire is home to the Dragonmarked Houses: powerful international guilds that have used ingenuity and magic to gain a virtual monopoly in their fields of expertise. House Cannith, for instance, is the last word in the creation of magical weapons and vehicles. House Orien controls the powerful Lightning Rails that allow passengers to cross the continent in a matter of days. House Phiarlan is holds sway in the field of entertainment (and espionage, but few know that), House Deneith provides bodyguards, House Sivis relays messages magically, House Lyrandar runs elementally powered ships and airships, etc. The guilds have a policy of strict neutrality towards all sides in the war.

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Prologue

There was no lack of forewarning before the Day of Mourning. For months beforehand, prophets and holy man had experienced blinding headaches and strange dreams. In the fields of Aundair an entire herd of cattle gave birth to two headed offspring: in the desolate sandy wastes of Droaam, the horrific she-hag Tal Nandrosaa'k gave birth to a perfect and clean limbed human child. Two weeks before the Day, the silver dragon Irshandra, whilst drowsing on a slab of uncut granite within his mountain observatory, observed a curious conjunction of the Rings of Siberys with the moons Threnedor and Barrakas, denoting some unspeakable tragedy was likely to occur within the month. He made a note of it in his journals, but did not think to warn any mortals. In a dimly lit crypt beneath the city of Sharn a thousand apostles of the Keeper, god of death, gathered together to drink from a bowl full powerful poison.

They wanted to avoid the rush.