Phal

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Phal is the capitol city of Nos Vorm, a Flat Dimension on the Outer Rim. It is the administrative capitol of the region and seat of power for the Phal Fidel Unified Nations, all of which are considered member worlds of the Alliance. Phal is known as "The City of a Thousand Temples" because of all the unique faiths represented there.

History

Officially, Phal was founded in A.Y. 112, but a major metropolitan city had existed on the site since the Age of Darkness at least. Evidence from various sacred sites indicates a stone-age culture existed in large numbers, so the site is held to have always been inhabited.

Early History

Phal is often compared favorably to Sun's Beacon, being a trade hub and mostly independent. No written history survives from the First Chaotic Period, but Tower Magic arrived in the region around 3600 B.G.A.. Oral histories hold, unlike Arindell, Nos Vorm was dominated by large nation-states even then, and Phal stood alone as neutral ground.

In any case, these histories are not much supported, as wide-spread and wildly different tower designs point to a much more chaotic history.

The first written records come from the Dynastic Period, by which time large empires did indeed control the explored areas of Nos Vorm. At this time, Phal lay on the borders of three intersecting empires, who had divided the city accordingly. As a trade hub it was not fought over, and it can be said that Phal formed the seat of a very early alliance.

Marconian Rule

This unity was not to last, however, as inroads by the Marcon Alliance quickly began. The Sack of Phal is generally placed in either 1477 or 1481 B.G.A., depending on the interpretation of the Marconian Calendar. The exact history of Phal during this period will never be known, as the Marcons came to dominate the region utterly.

In 901, Phal was one of the regions hit by Lelerough. As a major seat of power for the Marcon Alliance, it is likely her destruction of the city was complete. The local custom would prefer not to give Lelerough her due credit, but historians generally agree to this. The Marcon Alliance was never able to regain its hold on Nos Vorm. A successful slave-uprising followed Lelerough's attack, and new nations formed. Some were still in the Marconian tradition and would remain so until the arrival of the Gudersnipe Army in 301 B.G.A., but Phal was quickly rebuilt as a hub of commerce, and a lasting symbol of freedom.

Second Chaotic Period

The vestiges of the Marcons were dismantled by the Gudersnipe Army, and several new empires formed during the Second Chaotic Period. A series of campaigns between 50 and 120 B.G.A. established the modern borders, but these were contested until a detachment of Eieber's army arrived in 5 B.G.A. Eieber himself did not visit the region. Unlike Lim Phat, the situation in Nos Vorm did call for a military solution, and Lieber's armies were based at Phal.

The armies of the future Unity Earth Sphere Alliance, banded together with several of the more powerful empires, were able to bring an end to tower magic by the first year of the Golden Age. Much like the Battle of the Sanguine Gulch in Arindell, the Battle of Hait Plateau signaled the end of the Mage Wars.

Alliance Era

Phal was formally founded in the 12th year of the Golden Age, and established as the administrative capitol of Nos Vorm. Unlike most alliance member worlds, Nos Vorm actually has a separate, smaller alliance of its own: the Phal Fidel Unified Nations. This ultimately acted as an administrative branch of the greater Alliance, but did provide some special considerations for Nos Vorm.

Under the Golden Age, Phal was reconstructed into a glistening, perfect city. One unique attribute of Nos Vorm is a complete lack of geologic activity. This allowed for structures to be built on a truly awe-inspiring scale, and Phal was home to the first sky-scraper known to reach two miles in height without the use of magic.

The heart of Phal was the Pentastat Row, an avenue lined with lofted towers around an enormous promenade.

Ever since the fall of the Marcons, Phal had been known as a melting pot of religious ideologies. While wars had been fought for all of Nos Vorm's recorded history over religious beliefs, in Phal a new kind of battle began. A core tenet of the Alliance is that member worlds my not state-mandate religion; a problematic credo in Nos Vorm, where many of the nations were, effectively, ethno-religious. Still, religious freedom being sacred, the various agencies competed, with the construction of ever more elaborate temples and churches. By the mid-century, Phal was known as "The City of a Thousand Temples".

During the Second Age, Phal became a major center of worship for Mendalla, with many temples and cult sites dedicated to her. The Songs of Mendalla and nearly all religious material was composed here. Worship of the other kings was not nearly so prevalent, but there did exist moderate followings for Ennead and Makbeth. It is perhaps the lack of significant veneration for Sabatoth that led to one of the most significant changes in Phal.

As the Second Age waned into the Third, worship of Mendalla, Ennead, and Makbeth diminished greatly, while Sabatoth became recognized as the true god, and Cardinlism became the dominant religion. This did not sit well with the people of Nos Vorm, who by now held that declaring any faith the "one true faith" was an anathema. The Grand Temple of Mendalla (constructed A.Y. 2532) was burned in a riot in A.Y. 37, known as "The Night when the 1000 became 999", wherein the temple's very bricks smashed up and carted away. While the actual destruction happened over several weeks, local custom holds "by dawn the temple was naught but an empty patch of earth".

The riot destroyed many of the most sacred texts and icons of Mendalla.

Cardinalism failed to take hold in Nos Vorm, and while never forbidden by law, it was shunned within the great city of Phal. This is not without precedent in Phal's history. Of the countless religions practiced throughout Nos Vorm, the majority are polytheistic in nature, and monotheisms were often limited to "small, local gods". Faiths that declared themselves the only valid faith had never gained much traction; this is thought to be a byproduct of especially brutal and violent religious wars early in the region's tumultuous history.

Necromanic Wars

In the early-to-mid Third Age, the Necromanic Wars began. Nos Vorm had had a significant population of Necromancers since at least the Intermediate Period, and this population exploded during the early Alliance era. In Phal, enormous populations of both grey and green Necromancers existed, with dozens of large, wealthy temples devoted to each.

Officially, "no war" happened in Phal itself, as Phal had been free of wars since the end of the Mage Wars. "There is no war in Phal" was an oft-repeated expression. Unofficially, the city had to be broken up into several districts, and fortifications constructed. The Loss of the Few (see below) was the direct result of these activities. Any battles fought within the city were declared "riots", but there is no mistaking the truth.

Of interesting note is the general level of technology found in Nos Vorm at this time. With most citizens dedicated to ecclesiastic pursuits and the still high prevalence of magic (preserved in a variety of religious rituals), the region had not industrialized. Small bits of technology, most especially cellular telephones and solar panels, were fairly common, but guns were virtually unheard of. The Gudersnipe Foundation had no presence on Nos Vorm beyond a single GATE hub in Phal, which further contributed to its low technological standards.

In point of fact, it was the Foundation's inability to intervene that led to such brutal fighting. The one hub in the region was destroyed utterly in the first battle, and no other (known) way existed to travel to and from Nos Vorm. Communication was retained by Ansible, but much like the GATE, only one such device existed, in the hands of the Phal Fidel government:the de facto leaders of Phal itself. For the next century, they continued to report that "everything was fine" and no outside help was needed.

This, coupled with the large population of Necromancers and relatively low tech level, is believed to be the chief cause of the scale of conflict. Since the end of the Mage Wars, standing armies had been rare on Nos Vorm. The various governments had been chiefly concerned with preventing smuggling and illegal immigration, & actual border defense had long ceased to be a concern. Further complicating matters, the conflict was not between governments. The various nations of Nos Vorm were all still on excellent terms; the problem was the battles between warring Necromancers, their mercenaries, and the undead armies they raised.

No corner of the explored parts of Nos Vorm were left untouched by the war, and while some cities did hold their defenses, many were razed. The death toll was astronomical, most especially in the late period of the war when both sides resorted to genocide.

Unbeknownst to the Alliance, the Grey Temple necromancers had retained the ability to travel magically between worlds. This was a power thought lost since the Mage Wars, and in modern times only the Gudersnipe Foundation possessed the capacity (via the GATE). With only the extremely limited reports from the Phal Fidel government, the situation on Nos Vorm was ignored.

Wars End

If not for the brave actions of Liaka Maru, it is not known how much longer the battle on Nos Vorm would have waged. By the time of the Sasened Mission, Phal was in dire straits. The latest "riot" had destroyed all semblance of order; the city was in flames, and the streets were a constant war zone. The government officials and the one working Ansible were barricaded on the upper floors of one of the great sky spires and were running out of food. While officially no change of power ever happened, it is likely that for a period of at least seven months, no actual government existed.

In A.Y. 3381, the Sasened Mission established a stronghold a thousand miles to the east of Phal, in a remote and un-populated region. With the Green Temple necromancers unified and the remaining free peoples marshaled, a very large war party armed with modern automatic rifles marched on Phal, and took the city. From there, order was destroyed, and the Grey Temple defeated.

Civil War

While the Necromanic Wars were brought to a close, the devastation across Nos Vorm had been near-total, and the population was reduced to an even lower technology level than before. This was made even worse by surplus weapons brought in by the Sasened Mission, which soon fell into the hands of roving gangs and warlords.

While relief in the form of food, tools, and seeds was imported in great quantities, the Phal Fidel government refused to allow Crimson Blade soldiers access to Nos Vorm to restore order, and the region entered a long and bloody period of civil war. Phal remained as a central hub of trade and travel, but only a shadow of its former self.

The modern weapons did not last long, as ammunition was scarce and could not be produced locally. They lacked the technology to copy firearms and most of the mages had been killed during the Necromanic Wars, so by the end of the 4th century, steel swords and armor had again become the chief means of war.

By A.Y. 3450, the political divisions of Nos Vorm had been redrawn. The small bands of warlords had grown into mighty empires, and large, highly-organized armies were a common sight. Remembering the huge advantage of the old "guns" they once had, development of new firearms began. Cannons and soon muzzle-loading smooth-bore muskets saw action, and once again the political landscape changed. The first group within a region to develop firearms rose to power, and spread unimpeded until they reached another group with similar capacity.

It took until 3611 for the boundaries to stabilize, and for the Phal Fidel government to reassert power. The old borders were completely gone, but much of the character of Nos Vorm had survived. It seemed, through all the generations of fighting, the one dream at the back of everyone's minds was one day to put down their weapons and go back to building temples and worshiping their many gods. Phal Fidel, which remained unbroken, was able to so quickly bring back the old ways. Once the borders had been drawn, most nations were happy to return to peace.

Technology, not the failings of the Phal Fidel, was blamed. For whatever reason, it was generally agreed that guns, not necromancers, were at fault for the centuries of bloodshed, and technology was outlawed. Until the end of the Third Age, the only device more complicated than could be built by a village blacksmith, was the now ancient Ansible, through which the Phal Fidel continued to transmit reports to the Alliance that "everything was fine".

Fourth Age Revelation and Reconstruction

By the start of the Fourth Age, the existence of the rest of the known worlds was largely forgotten. The bulk of Nos Vorm existed as a series of quiet, agrarian hamlets. In Phal, work had long been underway to rebuild the old temples and restore the many schools of thought. Philosophy had become distinct from religion, and the many great cities (especially Phal) were lively places of discussion and debate.

It had long been a great enigma that certain items of great antiquity and unknown provenance were held in the reliquaries of many temples and shrines. These queer items were thought to be the work of the gods, for no mere mortal could reproduce things of such complexity and wonder. Many such objects had large and powerful cults associated with them, among these were the Secret Order of the Phal Fidel Ansible, which nightly carried out special ceremonies around their most sacred relic.

In A.Y. 43, a young inductee of the cult, whose name is lost to history, entered the reliquary of the much reserved Eul-Speak, and began to examine the secretive, ancient device very carefully. Being a mechanically-minded chap, he concluded that the sacred artifact was part of a whole, and began a systematic search for the rest.

The cult remained a powerful force in Phal for the rest of the Alliance era, and far be it from any historian to disagree with accepted doctrine. The version of events celebrated in song and story holds that the unnamed cultist entered the vault, looked upon the Heart of Light, and cried out until his voice was heard across time and space.

The less dogmatic series of events is as follows. The vault contained two things: Nos Vorm's Ansible, and a nuclear reactor. The Ansible, a testament to the incredible design faculties of the Gudersnipe Foundation, had continued to function perfectly despite a thousand years of neglect. The only slightly newer receiver, kept in the temple, communicated with the Ansible wirelessly and was itself powered by a small atomic battery. Nightly, the cultists had said a prayer to the receiver, which was in fact a status report to the Unity Earth Sphere Alliance, saying that everything on Nos Vorm was fine and not to bother them. While the Ansible was still in perfectly serviceable order and indeed remained in use, the reactor had not fared well over ten centuries of neglect. Operating at only a fraction of its original power, the unit was days or possibly even mere hours from a catastrophic meltdown, and had been leaking dangerous levels of radiation for centuries. Inside the vault, and rapidly succumbing to radiation poisoning, the cultist found the control panel for the Ansible and had enough sense to activate the machine and enter the technical support number helpfully printed on the side of the console. Throughout the rest of the known worlds, this is regarded as the most important trouble ticket in history, and is helpfully remembered as "The Sev One".

Following this, the Foundation rebuilt the GATE hub and set about (somewhat forcibly) normalizing relations with Nos Vorm. The original Ansible was left in place, a new one added, and ten others along with ten other GATE hubs, in cities all over Nos Vorm.

The Mass Migration

High technology was still slow to come to Nos Vorm, whose older residents preferred a quiet, idyllic life. However, young people, all over the world, were eager to explore what else the verse had to offer. Excursions quickly turned into a mass migration, as natives of Nos Vorm spread all over the known worlds. These were all, with exceptions, almost exclusively young people between the ages of 18 and 35. Back home, it came to be known as "The Lost Generation" (see below).

But Nos Vorm soldiered on. With the GATE hubs came the Gudersnipe Foundation, who were eager to explore mineral resources. Metals and coal were still mined with primitive technology, and the sudden loss of a workforce left Nos Vorm primed for a long-delayed industrial revolution. Mining had long been regarded as a dangerous, highly undesirable profession, which existed only because of the necessity for it. With most of the young people having left to settle on other worlds, the mine-owners were eager to adopt labor-saving machines, and even more eager to employ the hitherto unknown concept of "safety standards". This was accompanied by an influx of off-worlders, as skilled underground miners were imported to train the locals. Many of these miners brought their families, and were happy to stay. For the Foundation's mining community, Nos Vorm was remembered as a wondrous windfall. Men and women from all over the known worlds who had expected to labor for years were suddenly able to become foremen and overseers. Many even bought mines and became wealthy.

Yet the off-world influences did little to change the character of Nos Vorm. Its culture, forged through eons of turmoil, changed the invaders, not the other way around.

The Foundation's presence on Nos Vorm did not grow much. GS Towns were established to service the GATE hubs, but by the end of the first century of the Fourth Age, the locals had gained enough experience to operate the mines without assistance. Technology was still slow to catch on. While cellular telephones and computers were popular again, these were mostly manufactured off-world and powered by solar panels. A network of railways and canals serviced the burgeoning mining industry, but most citizens still preferred to walk, or ride animals. The automobile never caught on outside of the GS Towns.

Fourth and Fifth Ages

Throughout the rest of the Fourth and across the Fifth Age, Phal led Nos Vorm in regaining its former spender. The Pentastat Row was rebuilt to an even grander palisade, and once again the city's thousands of temples and belief systems flourished. Along with the miners had briefly returned Cardinalism, but again outside GS Towns this was not popular.

By this time, polytheism was the rule, if not by law than by public opinion. Religion, as it was widely practiced offworld, had given way to a sort of pseudo-religious philosophy, wherein the practice of ritual and tenets of belief had become more important than faith itself. To be a proper citizen of Phal, one had to obsessively memorize and practice as many religions as possible, with the preservation of the oldest belief systems of greatest importance.

Sixth Age and Succession Wars

The dawn of the Sixth Age brought about the Kamian Succession Wars, a tumultuous era for all of the known worlds. While the Succession Wars were primarily fought in The World, Nos Vorm's strategic value was recognized early on. Since it was initially believed it could only be accessed through the GATE, the Foundation began building factories and aggressively exploiting local resources to produce war materials. With much of Nos Vorm still being agrarian, their biggest export was food. The Foundation paid farmers to use modern fertilizers and powered equipment to increase their yields, which they in turn purchased, processed, and used to feed the Crimson Blade.

The strategic importance of Nos Vorm was recognized by the Kamians as well. While they lacked GATE technology, the Kamians were keen star-mappers, and had unlocked the secrets of the Domains to a degree of which the Foundation and Alliance were unaware. Two-way travel would not be possible, but by visiting certain regions of the World that shared a domain with Nos Vorm, the Kamians could punch a sort of hole in the Aether Wall between worlds, and dispatched a sizable invasion force who were able to establish a beachhead on the edge of Nos Vorm. After digging in and building up a power base, they enslaved the sparse population, and began a full invasion of Nos Vorm.

The ground war would last from A.Y. 6147 until A.Y. 6397, a period of 250 years. Fighting was not continuous throughout this era; the Kamians employed a similar strategy as they did in space-based campaigns, of taking over an area, then fortifying it before moving on to the next.

To the best of all knowledge, the Kamians did not possess anything analogous to Ansible technology. They had subspace communication for their war in The World, but did not have a way to talk to their soldiers on Nos Vorm, or vice versa. Further, it is unknown but believed that no further forces were dispatched once the initial beachhead was established. Supposedly, the plan was to fight their way across Nos Vorm, lay siege to Phal, and capture the Ansible and GATE hub within. This ploy would have taken generations, if it could succeed at all; which meant the initial invasion force left knowing they would not live to see their homeworld again. This exemplifies what made the Kamians such a dangerous foe: violent as they were, they exhibited generational thinking on a level not found in most human civilizations.

The Kamians were, of course, fighting with extremely high technology: weapons of mass destruction, missiles, supersonic aircraft, tanks, and even man-portable directed energy weapons. Fighting them, in turn, necessitated the use of high technology as well. For the first time since the days of the old Gudersnipe Army, the Crimson Blade Elites operated on Nos Vorm in large numbers.

Phal became the seat of a Central Command and Control station, and soldiers awaiting rotation to the fronts were quartered their by the millions. This also brought Cardinalism to Phal, as most of the soldiers were adherents. This led to quite a bit of friction between soldiers and civilians. While the Foundation wholeheartedly and even militantly supports religious freedom, it was difficult for the soldiers to tolerate the local custom. Given that the Crimson Bladers were elites with combat experience, it was especially difficult; as the saying goes: "there are no atheists in foxholes". Many had been raised (and fervently believed) in the One King, as the sole god, and Cardinalist rituals as the sole 'true' religion, while the local ideology ignored the idea of absolute truths, and instead held that ritual and doctrine was better than actual faith.

The first large Cardinal church was built on the Pentastat Row in A.Y. 6161, and dedicated by the Doseu that same year. Despite their feelings about Cardinalism, the citizens of Phal stood on custom, which obligated them to honor the beliefs of the soldiers. The sticking point lay in the notion of exclusivity. Cardinalism dictates the One King is the ultimate god, and adherents may have no other gods. While a typical Phalinite was happy to swing by the Church of the Cardinal Star and light a candle to the One King, it was difficult to convince him he couldn't then continue down the Row and pop in to the next temple for a wine-and-opiate-fueled orgy that glorified some other god, and recite vows of chastity before yet another, the very next morning.

Still, converts went both ways, and Phal developed a small group of believers. As the war dragged on, the Foundation found it no longer economically efficient to quarter troops in the city proper. A series of large bases were built, first on the outskirts, and later closer to the fighting. Rotating soldiers spent only days in Phal, instead of weeks or months. The bases grew slowly into GS Towns, with all the comforts of home.

After the Kamians were defeated in 6397, the Foundation retained a strong military presence on Nos Vorm. In A.Y. 6450, this was scaled back to a skeleton force tasked with maintaining the various bases and infrastructure in case it was needed again. Aside from a small garrison to protect the GATE hub, the Foundation's presence in Phal completely evaporated.

The adherents to Cardinalism held on for another generation or so, but eventually fell back into the local ways. The Church of the Cardinal Star on Pentastat Row was converted first into a music hall, then into a temple for a new, popular deity, and finally torn down in 6805 to be replaced by another temple. When the war ended a few years later, the Foundation placed the land it had bought for bases in a trust and began the process of stripping all equipment and material left behind. At the end of fity years, the trust was dissolved and the land sold off. The Foundation's presence on Nos Vorm was again minor, and Cardinalism had all but vanished.

Long Night

By the end of the Alliance era, Nos Vorm had become a strong part of the known worlds. Trade and travel were popular, and in addition to exporting large quantities of raw materials and foodstuffs, Nos Vorm was a popular tourist destination. Its wide array of enormous and very old temples attracted crowds from all over.

Nos Vorm's unique religious topography ultimately led to its destruction, when Samuel Fate began the same war of subjugation that went on elsewhere, but the people of Nos Vorm were not so easily able to fight back.

Military strength was once again weak, and weapons were few and far between. But the greater failing was in consistency of faith. Cardinal Clerics across the rest of the known worlds were willing to lay down their lives against Samuel Fate, but the citizens of Nos Vorm were not quite so strong in their beliefs. By the end of the Sunset period, Nos Vorm was completely subjugated, and by the end of the Afterglow, open worship of Samuel Fate had replaced all other religions.

Gone were the thousand temples and the hundred schools of thought. A few select orders managed to spirit away their most sacred texts to the Library of Arindell, but most ideologies were lost. Fate's campaign had been especially brutal in Nos Vorm (despite a relatively low level of resistance). Religious leaders (of which there were MANY) were killed as examples.

While the thousand temples of Phal were sacked and the iconoclasm complete, the beautiful spires of the Pentastat Row were preserved. The entire area was transformed into a single enormous temple, and the great square made into a gathering placed for the worship of Samuel Fate. Nowhere else in the known world was Fate's godhood openly admitted. (Or was it?)

New Day

Despite three millennia of subjugation, the people of Nos Vorm had not been happy under the control of Samuel Fate. Once his acolytes had been rendered powerless, there came a great uprising and a call to return to the old ways. Though Nos Vorm was full of true believers, watching their god die had a considerable impact.

Through the long millennia, the stories of old had been handed down, in tales of great freedom and diversity of thought. It was an idea, if nothing else, and the citizens of Nos Vorm were eager to return to it. Practically overnight, new religions and philosophies sprang up out of nothing. New temples were built, books written, and a return--if only in imitation--to the old ways was fast brought about.

Cardinalism, however, remained obscure. As before, any sort of monotheistic practice was deeply mistrusted; and despite its role in ending the tyranny of Samuel Fate, most Phalites tended to conflate Cardinalism with Fate's self-proclaimed godhood. The new Nos Vorm favored naturalistic religions and philosophical teachings, and shied away from naming an actual supreme deity.

Pentastat Row

The Pentastat Row is the historic heart of Phal. The Row consists of a central plaza ten miles long and two wide, ringed by nineteen iconic sky spires. The space between the pillars and surrounding the plaza is filled with temples representing the countless different faiths practiced in Nos Vorm.

History

The Row was constructed early in the Golden Age, and is still hailed as a remarkable achievement in urban planning. Built at a time when Phal lacked any means of transportation more sophisticated than horse and cart, the massive row could still accommodate millions of pilgrims each day. It had been designed, from the very start, knowing it would need to support throngs of people, so every possible consideration was made.

Modern mass-transit systems did not come to Nos Vorm until the early part of the Fourth Age, by which time the Row had spent quite a bit of time in ruins. However the basic layout did not need to be changed, it was as good then as it was when designed. The major addition was to the plaza itself. Once home sewers and rest houses, it was reconstructed fully seven stories deep, uniting subway systems, transit walks, and a multitude of hotels, eateries, and other ammeneties. From the surface, entrances to the subterrance looked small, and did little to disrupt the illusion of a large, flat paved area. Underneath lay a first layer of quick-access tunnels for traveling around the plaza and too the spires, along with lavatory facilities for easy use. Bellow lay a series of markets selling mostly food or other items of comfort. Bellow that were several layers of lodging, rapid transit cooridors, and various other necessities to support the millions up above. Of course, being Nos Vorm, small temples and shrines could be found all throughout these spaces.

The great sky spires, interestingly, while a symbolic part of the religious landscape, were not themselves holly. They had been conceived from the first as mixed-use residential and lodging structures, designed to house the many priests, nuns, acolytes, teachers, philosophers, and various other temple personnel of every sort. The higher reaches provided luxurious travel accommodations, to let piligrims and tourists look out upon the wonders of the Row.

In the early part, the spires were built of steel and used enchanted lifts to carry people to the upper floors. After the reconstruction, conventional elevators were used.

During the Long Night, the spires were all emptied of their people, but left in place, as the whole of the plaza was turned into a single temple to Samuel Fate. Attendance was moderate, as only those few as lived in the neighboring districts of Phal were able to walk there once the old system of getting people in and out had been removed.

The Loss of the Few

The Loss of the Few is the name given to a specific event in Phal, early in the Necromanic Wars. As the city was divided into districts and fortifications hastily built, many small temples and religious shrines were destroyed. In Phal, where religous diversity was itself considered sacred, the loss of any shrine or monument was significant. Even if no truly faithful existed, small religions were kept alive as a matter of course.

The hastily-built walls destroyed hundreds of small cult sites. Entire religious sects, some of which had existed for thousands of years, were wiped out. Though the total number of people impacted was ultimately small, the loss of so many faiths and traditions was seen as a huge blow to the city.

The Lost Generation

In the 3rd year of the Fourth Age when contact with the known worlds was restored, many citizens of Nos Vorm, mostly those between the ages of 18 and 35, set off on multi-year treks to see as much as they could. The majority did not set off with the intent to leave forever, but many had not prepared for their trips.

Background

Across Nos Vorm, money had not often been a huge concern. It was common for young people to travel from city to city, taking work on farms and construction sites, often paid only in food and a safe place to sleep. Many of the cultures around the world held a spirit of generosity; these were pilgrims after all, traveling to holy sites. Young travelers could rely on work for their room and board and handouts for any meager necessities. If they were paid at all it was usually in very small amounts, used mostly for recreation and to be donated to other temples and cult sites.

In the warmer areas, it was common to sleep outside. Most temples even had small, well-groomed parks on their grounds, filled with soft grass, and set aside for adherents to sleep beneath the stars and contemplate the infinite. In fact, sleeping in parks was such a common part of the culture that in many languages, the word for 'Park' actually came to mean, "a place to sleep".

Travels Off-World

This was, however, not a wholly effective approach when traveling to other regions. The Gudersnipe Foundation, in particular, who controlled many of the areas first explored by travelers from Nos Vorm, had very strictly enforced laws about "sleeping rough" and went to great lengths to keep its own citizens off the streets. Many travelers from Nos Vorm were charged with vagrancy, which was not a serious crime, but kept them from going home.

The Foundation, at its core, is dedicated to the notion of long-term stability. Homelessness being by nature unstable, significant resources are made available to keep it from happening. Many travelers from Nos Vorm had no money and expected to work for food and lodging as they had back home, and were as such placed into these programs. Many Phalites were able to achieve their goals simply by traveling from one Labor Mill to another. Still others who made it as far as Alliance regions took up temporary jobs and lodgings, and became settled. There were no serious barriers to returning home, but the lure of modern conveniences such as electricity and indoor plumbing proved too much, and most simply began new lives elsewhere.

Impact

In some regions of Nos Vorm, the exodus was as much as 95% between ages 18 and 25, and 9% for 18-35. Over all, the dimension lost about 70% of its population in that demographic. It was fortunate the trend did not continue, but it left a lasting impact on the character of the world. Much like the losses of religious traditions, the loss of a generation was felt for centuries to come.