For a thousand years the Zgreli were kept safe, hidden from the greater realms of men that existed beyond their shores, guarded by their titanic savior, the mighty Sea Wyvern Vorgorian who would sink any ships that came too close to the shores of Linea.
Vorgorians' price for their continued security was steep however, the Zgreli faith was made to pay regular tribute to their abyssal patron in the form of valuable Azurite, a precious cyan metal, shaped into unique idols which Vorgorian prized above all else.
For a thousand years the Zgreli faith was able to enforce the collection of this tribute, and off of the backs of the Azurite miner’s and the farmers of the fertile northern lakelands, the rest of the Zgreli society was able to thrive even in its isolation, forming the mightiest empire of the Linari.
The Zgreli Emperors however were very often mere ceremonial puppets, the true influence within Zgreli society lay in the priestly class of Vorgorians prophets, and oddly enough, in the extremely prevalent sport known as Jumbali that had come to permeate nearly every aspect of Zgreli recreation.
Eventually however, after a thousand years of relative peace, with only the rare issue becoming so controversial that it was not settled in the Jumbali courts, the Empire's first true instance of division and fracturing would begin, and would cascade to quickly engulf this ancient civilization.
The many Zgreli Azurite mines had begun to dry up over the generations, and eventually supplies of the metal had become so uncommon throughout Zgrelia that the common folk had begun to have their few Azurite heirlooms and trinkets confiscated in order to continue to appease Vorgorian.
The priest's and nobility, however, while being the ones to enforce these seizures, were quick to deny any demands to have their own Azurite relics or jewelry melted down, even as the number of offerings to Vorgorian began to slow and slow.
As a result of this gradual decline in his regular tribute, Vorgorian began to become somewhat apathetic and lax in his duties to protect the shores of Linea, eventually allowing a few brave settlers of mankind to brave the seemingly decreased risk and colonize the uninhabited northern beaches of the continent.
Although separated by a mighty mountain range for now, this fact that men had been allowed to settle the northern shores caused outrage among the Zgreli, and division upon how to deal with them.
Some wished to use this opportunity to begin to attempt to integrate with the greater outside world of man, some wished to purge the colonists and continue offering tribute to Vorgorian, some began to once again voice that the priests and nobility would need to offer their Azurite, and that their failure to do so had caused this mess.
Eventually in the capital, many Zgreli fortune tellers began to foretell the inevitable fall of the Zgreli Empire, claiming that Vorgorian would drown the world and that a “God bellow and above the waves” would rule at his side as his prophet, leading to the Emperor persecuting and expelling many of these soothsayers.
Things were made worse when a human pirate, Kaeston BlueEyes, with the aid of a Linari fortune teller he had taken as a wife and who she had convinced was destined to be the “God bellow”, began to raid the southern coastal Zgreli towns such as Misulo and Chiweta, leading to even more calls to purge the colonists and rid Zgreli of the threat of mankinds influence.
Eventually after attempting to simply ignore the issue for months, a riot broke out during a Jumbali match, when both teams refused to play after seeing the Emperor in the arena still regaled in Azurite finery, leading to the Emperor nearly being murdered, and the Linari mob temporarily seizing control of the capital of Ozekitl.
Soon, the mob had organized into a militia and marched north, within a night the Zgreli had crossed the northern mountains, and had burnt the human colonies to the ground, slaughtering their human inhabitants before turning back to their homeland, kicking off a civil war between the Imperials, Theocrats, and Citizens.
Kaeston BlueEye’s had been waiting for this provocation, baiting the Zgreli into this act of barbarity he could use as a pretext to portray the Zgreli as a potential threat to mankind, and inspiring retribution in the nations whose colonists had been killed.
Knowing of the vulnerabilities in Vorgorians patrols, Kaeston lead a great invasion force comprised of men from Imro, Moofia, Sanjuf, and Smania, landing in the northern coast, and soon pushing in through the mountains themselves to become the first men to lay foot in the lands of the Zgreli for over a thousand years.
Divided by their own civil war, Ozekitl was quickly besieged and razed by the coalition, pushing the already dreadfully weak Zgreli factions into the far south, effectively ending the Zgreli Empire.
Kaeston was not finished with the orchestration of the fall of the most ancient civilization on Aph however, his ambitions were far more sinister than just that, as he sought to hasten the prophecy his Linari wife had whispered in his ear, to cause Vorgorian to sink Aph beneath the waves.
Vorgorian was already enraged when he discovered that his ancient ally and tributary had been destroyed by the hands of mankind, but Kaeston then declared war on the Sea Wyvern himself, when he discovered Vorgorians vast aquatic horde of Azurite he had been amassing over the thousands of years.
Idols of all shapes and sizes shaped by the Zgreli over thousands of years, each one stored in great abyssal trench where Vorgorian often dwelt when not on his patrol, the idols were precious to him, and often he fawned over the unique craftsmanship of the Zgreli artisans with a peaceful contentment.
Kaeston knew this is where he could inspire the truest and deepest fury within Vorgorian, and so he took his ship above the trench when he was certain Vorgorian would not be there, and dropped powerful explosive charges that sank into the depths before exploding, ruining many of the idols so beloved by Vorgorian.
When Vorgorian returned to find his idols destroyed and his very home attacked by those same wicked men who had destroyed the Zgreli, he became more consumed by utter relentless madness , Vorgorian took Kaestons declaration of war as if it had come from mankind itself, and soon, would answer it in kind.