Episode I: The Great Conflict

ACT ONE

Prologue: Brave New World

In the soft, grey light of dawn, the land slept in peace and silence. The last stars of the night twinkled overhead before giving way to the rising sun's warm embrace. Mountains, their peaks reaching keenly into the heavens, lit up like giant candles in the sunrise, never breaking their silent vigil. A lone raven soared through the sky, sounding its greeting to the new day with its cry. Folding its wings, the raven banked away from the rocky crags, their summits capped with snow and nestled snugly in the blanket of clouds.

Further east, the majestic peaks plunged into a carpet of green woodland, crisscrossed by rivers that glimmered like veins of silver in the early hours of the morning. Trees dotted the landscape in scattered clusters, their leaves rustling in the occasional breeze – a morning call to the sleeping forest. Insects began to stir, breaking the silence with a dawn chorus of chirps.

In a small gulley between two grassy knolls, one of the larger streams carved its way in a series of rapids, churning its silver innards into a frothy white torrent. Echoes of rushing water reverberated through the tranquil woodland, intensifying steadily into a thunderous roar as the tributary flowed toward the rising sun and hurled itself over a small cliff in a sparkling waterfall.

The undergrowth rustled – a small sound drowned out by the roaring cataract – as a brown, lumbering form plodded down to the riverbank. The reeds and tall grasses swayed in its wake, mirroring its curious gait. Tiny insects scattered before it, rising into the air in small, buzzing clouds.

Blinking in the morning mist, an adult grizzly bear led a retinue of two cubs in search of food. The mother paused at the river's edge, sniffing the rushing rapids while her cubs played and wrestled in the mud. Detecting a shoal of fish nearby, the huge grizzly waded into the river, as the current lashed feebly at her hulking frame.

Within minutes, two large fish had been deposited on the riverbank, while a third hung limply in the mother bear's jaws. As her cubs tackled their slippery, flopping meals, the rising sun dispersed the morning mist and bathed the forest in splashes of gold. Sensing the growing warmth, the mother grizzly looked east beyond the waterfall, where the rushing river met the lowlands and plains.

"Look," she said wordlessly to her cubs, "A human city..."

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In the early hours of the morning, Terra Nova – jewel city of the dimension of Earth – lay sprawled across the Vast Plains like the pieces of a child's jigsaw. From the docks along the Azure Sea to the towering spires along the Western Peaks, the great city slowly rose from its slumber.

First to awaken were the city's fringes: to the south, farmers made for their fields of crops, which blanketed the land with splashes of greens and yellows. Out at sea, small fleets of fishing boats departed from the eastern harbours, eager to taste the first fresh catches of the day.

Further inland, marketplaces bustled to life as merchants busied themselves with their wares, setting up stalls that sold anything from fresh produce to precious gemstones, mined from deep within the caverns of the Western Peaks. The scent of sawdust and the ringing of steel echoed through the industrial districts as carpenters and metal smiths toiled, crafting items to match their customers' orders.

Horse-drawn carts trundled down dirt and cobblestone roads, ferrying people through the kingdom as they went about their business. Beside them, children ran through the streets, playing and frolicking with glee. Wary parents hushed those who strayed too far, offering the occasional sweet treat to pacify a petulant child.

Near the centre of the city, the major institutes of study thronged with students and teachers alike. The squat buildings housed Terra Nova's archives of knowledge, history and research, detailing everything from the simplest wooden furniture to the most complex magical enchantment. Works of art and architecture adorned the city's central districts: gaudy murals and elaborate sculptures painstakingly designed by inspired minds and commissioned as monuments.

The ancient city had stood for nearly as long as the human race, evolving from the first, crude huts and villages into its present, glorious state, with a population totalling nearly fifty million individuals.

However, Terra Nova had not always been so pristine.

The first human settlements had evolved separately from each other, sprouting up in areas like the fertile lowlands to the south, the rich, productive shorelines of the east, as well as the glittering, mineral-laden caves in the west. These early kingdoms were ruled by their own feudal lords, and constantly warred with one another for resources, land, and overall dominion of the continent.

During the ancient War of the Gods, where the heavenly hosts of Utopia clashed with the demonic legions of the Burning Nether, there emerged a new province, comprised of exiles – some by choice, others under pain of death. These "renegades", as they came to be known, colonized the Vast Plains to the north, eventually establishing a separate kingdom of their own.

Wary of the threat posed by Hellspont, the dark god of death and destruction, the renegades fought desperately to unite the other warring kingdoms. There followed decades of civil war – which the demons exploited to their full advantage – before the people found their resources drained to the last grain of wheat.

In desperation, the survivors banded together, realizing that they were responsible for their own sufferings because of the petty strife that separated them…which was the perfect soil for Hellspont to sow his seeds of corruption.

Aided by legions of heavenly warriors under the command of Aurora, Goddess of Light, the people of Earth stood together, repelling Hellspont's demonic hordes in a bloody skirmish that saw Terra Nova's first royal family rise to power. Thereafter, the renegades annexed the other kingdoms' territories, as their people gradually began to understand and accept the union of powers.

Building a palace and a capital city in the middle of the Vast Plains, the renegades thus declared the existence of a single nation: Terra Nova.