The Song of the Qui-Chi
The cleansing wars
After century upon century of hating himself, Rajaat turned his hatred outward. He declared the Rebirth a mistake, claiming that all the races it had spawned were monsters. “The only way to return Athas to the glory and harmony of the Blue Age is to wipe out the blight of these monsters from the world!” Rajaat bellowed, and his Champions believed him. They took his cause to heart. Of course, they believed he meant to give the world to humans (specifically, to the Champions). Rajaat, however, wanted to return Athas to its original inhabitants: the halflings. You may ask why Rajaat did not simply turn halflings into his Champions; the answer is that he could not. Halflings belonged to the old world, to a time before the birth of magic. Few Halflings wanted anything to do with Rajaat’s twisted dreams. A small group of halflings still kept the old ways of the nature-masters, though, and they decided to serve Rajaat as his personal guard. It fell to the humans, with their natural ability to learn new skills and powers, to become Rajaat’s Champions. Approximately 3,500 years ago, the first battle of the Cleansing Wars raged in the Athasian wilderness. With titles like Butcher of Dwarves, Ravager of Giants, and Pixie Blight, Rajaat’s Champions set forth to deliver death and destruction to the demihuman and humanoid races. Rajaat became known as the Warbringer, and the nonhuman races perished. Some of the pyreen tried to stop his insane march, but they too fell before the Warbringer and his Champions. The pyreen became the Peace-Bringers for-ever after that time, even though they failed to stop Rajaat’s wretched plans. Great patches of forest withered and died as the Champions waged their terrible war and drew the life force to power their defiling spells. Some of the Champions succeeded in their wicked desire to eliminate whole races, for goblins, pixies, and gnomes have vanished from Athas. Others came exceedingly close, like the Dwarf Butcher and the Tari Killer. The land itself suffered along with the nonhumans, for the Champions indiscriminately used defiling magic to increase their power. Whoever tried to oppose them, no matter what race they belonged to-even the human nations—fell before their dark powers. From Rajaat’s place atop the Pristine Tower, bathed in the light of the crimson sun, an immeasurably older Warbringer waited for victory. Weeks turned to years, years to centuries, until one day Rajaat saw his Champions return. He stood before them with his long shocks of gray hair and his white, burning eyes, eagerly anticipating the news they brought him. “Have all the abominations been destroyed?” Rajaat asked his Champions. “Can the Blue Age start anew?” The answer to both questions was no. The Champions had almost achieved victory when they realized Rajaat was mad. In retrospect, the Champions had always known that. What they learned was that it was not the humans who would inherit the new-born Athas—it was the halflings. The 13th Champion, Borys of Ebe, the Butcher of Dwarves, personally led the revolt against Rajaat; most of the other Champions sided with Borys in their betrayal of Rajaat. With the help of an artifact called the Dark Lens, Borys and the Champions imprisoned Rajaat beyond the shadow dimension of the Black, in a place of nothingness called the Hollow; they hurled his halfling guards into the Black. Both were secured with spells of holding and binding that remain in place to this day. The Cleansing Wars came to an end, and the Age of the Sorcerer-Kings began.