The Forging of the Corpse-Kingdom
It is said that Gotterdammerung sprang forth from the cooling cadaver of the fabled Wyrdic Empire, wrought by the Necromancer called Balagas with bloody butchery and soul-rending sorcery. With skills mythic and forgotten did he raise up his citadel, Lichtenstein, from dust and ash just as he raised up an army of undead from the ancient crypts of Wyrd.
When even the restless dead fled from the very sight of Balagas’ domain, Human, Cambion and Shaedling were drawn to his power and flocked to the sanctuaries he had carved among haunted forest and shadowed mountain. His followers, both living and unliving, scythed through the holdfasts of bandit lord, blood prince and lich count until none remained to bar his dominance of the land. In their place, Balagas left loyal apprentices and knights to hold the lands in his stead and carry out his decrees to the common folk – continuing the Wyrdic system of lord, vassal and serf that could still be seen in today’s Corpse Kingdom.
The Reign of the Iron Wolves
The Corpse Kingdom almost crumbled when Balagas was assassinated a hundred years later by jealous rivals. In a stroke of fortune, the knighthoods, called Kriegers, he had established to safeguard his realm with steel and sorcery proved ready and willing to take upon themselves the yoke of governance.
At their head was the King Gregor the Iron Wolf, the greatest of the Kriegers. Willingness soon turned into eagerness and eagerness became unto jealousy: Gotterdammerung would barely survive Balagas’ demise, but it would descend into the squabbling of the Kriegers for power Plagues and marauders would assail the Corpse-Kingdom in its weakness and leave it writhing, waiting for its doom. Centuries would pass while Gotterdammerung lay dying in the conflicts internal and external.
Even as war after war took its toll upon the populace, a new faith began to burgeon among the wearied folk of the Corpse-Kingdom: Balagas was none other than the Lord Reaper made flesh. The Kingdom that he had carved with spell and will was divinely ordained, belonging not in the inept, bickering hands of the Kriegers but in his true disciples: the Church of the Lord Reaper.
The Rise of Lord Reaper’s Church
When a massive army of demonic half-breeds left the capitol in smoldering ruin and covered in the blood of the Krieger-King and his retainers, it was the power of Lord Reaper’s priests that rebuilt the lands and restored the people’s spirit. Otherworldly magic and military might would still have places in Dammerunger society but they would bow before the strength of Faith in the form of the Church’s first King-Priest: Arbiter Victor the True united the faithful beneath his banner and cowed those who would oppose him.
With faith and a figurehead, the priests solidified the people’s faith in Lord Reaper, allowing other factions power only when they recognized Lord Reaper as the true god. The other gods were acknowledged, but Lord Reaper was the truth and the maker of their Kingdom and the ultimate knower of their destiny, the beginning and the end. Balagas was firmly ensconced in divinity – as the keystone of the Dammerunger faith.
Gotterdammerung and the Age of Darkness
As the Age of Darkness progressed however, not even the light of the Dammerunger willpower could prevail against the encroaching calamity. Like Krieger idealism, Faith would eventually be overwhelmed by the greed and the passion of the mortal soul. Even in their faith, the Reaper’s church could not keep united – it became wracked with heresy, schisms and worse yet, idolatry. The disunited church’s descent was sped by its enemies internal, such as some of the Kriegers, and enemies external, such as demonic princes and greater undead monstrosities.
The Dominion of the King-Priest
It has been two thousand years since Balagas raised the Corpse-Kingdom and a new age dawns against the darkness that holds Gotterdammerung in thrall. King-Priest Siegfried Godhammer, once of the Krieger Nibelung and now the Reaper’s Crusader, has united Krieger and Church beneath his sigil and leads his people with silver flame and runed hammer. His efforts have thus far yielded positive results – as King-Priest he has purged the heretic from his clergy and expunged the traitor from the nobility. Meanwhile, he rallies his armies against the demonic and deathly forces that prey upon his people.
The King-Priest is a bringer of order and a turner of tides – and so hope the Dammerungers, a true light against the darkness.