Races of Avendar, Chapter VII: The Shuddeni
An excerpt from the Races of Avendar, an in-game text found in the school of heroes, this chapter covers the shuddeni.
Shuddeni: Section 1 The shuddeni are a subterranean race, living in underground cities and temples far below Avendar's surface. They appear as extremely thin, ashen-grey humanoids. They possess no body hair, and often apply oil to the unusual folds and ridges of their skin. Their most distinctive trait is the complete absence of eyes. Instead, they have nothing but a slight indentation there, and no open or empty eye sockets. Thus, shuddeni possess an unusual and alien sense of sight that is not fully understood. Most shuddeni culture revolves around life in their cities, which were originally established by successful clans of shuddeni. In time, the holds of these clans came to incorporate their allies, until they eventually grew large enough to sustain themselves. Shuddeni cities are typically dominated by a ruling caste of priests, who maintain their power through magic, wealth, and fear. The shuddeni race is said to have been shaped by Tzet-Askhari, Great Dragon of the Void. They are thought to be Its chosen children; through them, It unleashed the diabolic magics of Void and demonkind into mortal Avendar. The time of their rise is not fully understood, only that by the time of their contact with humanity, the Dragon's grip was absolute. Shuddeni: Section 2 Human contact with the shuddeni occurred in the years leading up to the War of Night. Mining expeditions in the Brintors revealed a passage into the underworld of the shuddeni, and opened up a permanent link between the shuddeni settlement of Yithoul and the surface. After several initial, failed ventures, the shuddeni established a working relationship with the Republic. What the senate did not know was that these initial peace overtures were merely the first step in a campaign of shuddeni conquest. Extending their power to disenfranchised groups, such as the srryn or humans desirous of forbidden magic, the shuddeni began to gather allies and prepare themselves for battle. When the shuddeni burst to the surface, they brought with them the nightmarish magics of Void, which included demonic servitors and horrifying plagues. As well, the shuddeni legions were bolstered by their savage chaja slaves. The shuddeni first struck in the Brintors, emerging through a formerly unknown link to the surface world. Shuddeni: Section 3 Once the shuddeni offensive began, the warlike srryn and dissatisfied humans fostered conflict and rebellion on the southern front. The shuddeni consolidated their foothold in the Brintors, and began a quest of expansion, establishing themselves in human settlements throughout the mountains. Once secure, shuddeni conquest slowed, but remained dreadfully certain. As humans and their allies fought in desperation, the shuddeni sought a swift and complete victory. They drew together the greatest archmagi of their people, and began to fashion an immense nexus to the outer void. The gateway was to open for three days, allowing the greatest demonic host ever conceived to assemble and march upon Earendam. The result of their summoning, however, was not what they expected. Fleeing the ravages of Tzet-Askhari, the ch'taren and their goddess, Rystaia Lightbringer, emerged onto the Prime. These refugees brought with them the magics of Spirit, which shattered demonic and shuddeni forces with vengeful abandon. Shuddeni: Section 4 With the defeat of the shuddeni and the end of the War of Night, the shuddeni racial ego was deeply wounded. How could the might of their Father, the mighty Tzet-Askhari, have failed? It was during this time that a new god rose to bloody power within the shuddeni temples. He called Himself Arkhural, and mobilized the remnants of the shuddeni war machine. At Arkhural's bidding, the shuddeni marched upon the fledgling havens of the ch'taren who had so smote them. They arrived at Ad'masteisa, the haven of wind, and wiped it from the face of the earth. Even with their eventual defeat by the Warband of Calaera, the crushing blow dealt to the ch'taren was more than enough to cement Arkhural's power for the ages to come. To prevent more shuddeni incursions onto the surface, the keep of Kor Thrandir was built upon their most direct path, and a great seal erected. Despite their obvious evil, shuddeni ties to the surface world were never fully ended. The weakening of the Republic allowed shuddeni scholarship and magic to flourish and draw interracial attention. Their bizarre music and exotic bards also found great fame by way of entrenched nobility. shuddeni: Section 5 In the modern era, shuddeni have integrated themselves into surface society on an unprecedented scale. This led to the rise of their newest god, Rveyelhi, whose oppressive designs have often been forwarded by the adventurer caste. Their prodigious intellect has seen their expansion into any number of domains, in business, magic, and study. As a race, they are still mistrusted, but generally accepted as a necessary evil during the post-War detente. They have continued to push the limits of what the surface is willing to tolerate, as they led a daring and bloody series of battles against allied forces known as the Eyeblight War. Their hatred of the ch'taren, in particular, was especially evident before their defeat. Below the surface, shuddeni still scheme, and undoubtedly intend further conquest. They view themselves as the predestined rulers of Avendar, and the claws of the Deathbringer, Tzet-Askhari.