|Population:||5 275 000|
|Other languages:||Cygnaran, Kadesh, Solesh|
The skorne, although traditionally fighting wars against each other as the various houses try to prove their superiority, were recently united by one of the most dangerous persons in recent history, the former king of Cygnar, Vinter Raelthorne IV, who has declared himself Supreme Archdominar of the entire Skorne Empire.
The skorne originated as a nomadic people in southeastern Immoren, called Scindor Solum in their language, south of the elven Empire of Lyoss. Skorne tribes first encountered the elves around 5000 BR and started to raid outlying elven settlements. The elves tried on several occasions to 'civilise' the skorne, and all such attempts ended with the deaths of emissaries and soldiers alike. The elves took to derogatorily call the skorne the 'faithless', 'godless', though the skorne accepted these terms with pride: they have no need for gods.
The first skorne to discover spiritual awakening was the master Voskune, who, around 4650 BR discovered the root principles of mortitheurgy and the fundamentals which gave rise eventually to exaltation. He was the first to perceive that on death, a skorne's soul was flung into the yawning Void to experience endless pain and agony. The spirits in the Void are all mad, and he was shaken to learn this was the fate of his ancestors and would be his own fate as well. Voskune was eventually lost to the Void, but his students carried his work forward.
Ten generations later, two masters Ishoul and Kaleed, elaborating on work passed down by students of Voskune, discovered that cutting and polishing certain stones will pull at a spirit, drawing it as water is absorbed into a sponge. They spent their lifetimes perfecting the first sacral stone.
Around 4440 BR, Vuxoris, a venerable warlord, the dominar of Ishoul and Kaleed's house, became the First Exalted through their ministrations. In 4450 BR, Vuxoris had detailed the hoksune warrior code describing the ideals of skorne combat, still followed today, and on his deathbed he asked Ishoul and Kaleed to preserve his spirit so his lore would not fade.
Neither Ishoul nor Kaleed were exalted on their deaths. Skorne philosophers record this with the loss of Voskune himself as a fundamental tragedy of the ancient period. There exists in Malphas an obscure heresy proclaiming that Voskune, Ishoul, and Kaleed — the 'Self-Exalted Trinity' — never fell into the Void but instead persisted past death by force of will alone. Extollers have repeatedly tried to expunge this heresy, but the belief proved tenacious among the city’s lore masters, who preserved scrolls that blatantly contradicted traditional historical accounts.
Twelve generations before the destruction of Lyoss, the philosopher-warrior named Morkaash focused on studying anatomy and the infliction of pain and agony. Morkaash tested himself against the great beasts of the desert by conquering them in battle, dissecting them, and studying their inner workings. After his death, his followers improved their techniques over many lifetimes, eventually giving rise to paingivers and chirurgeons.
In the centuries following the deaths of Voskune, Ishoul, Kaleed, and Morkaash, some continued to devote themselves to deeper mysteries. Some extollers walked the path of Voskune or Morkaash, seeking deeper understanding of the sublime power of suffering and the divide between life and death. Over the centuries, the work of these mystics evolved into a uniquely skorne occult science called mortitheurgy.
Around 4000 BR a world-shaking event irrevocably changed the course of skorne history: the Cataclysm unleashed forces powerful enough to split Caen in two, sundered Immoren and gave birth to the Abyss. For centuries after the Cataclysm, the continent endured supernatural earthquakes, storms, wildfires, and countless other disasters. The survivors were plunged into a dark age, struggling for basic survival.
The Cataclysm necessitated a transformation of skorne society away from its nomadic traditions. It became imperative to build permanent settlements to ward out the calamities. Surviving skorne seeked shelter in the Shroudwall Mountains and established their first city, later named Malphas, and developed stonemasonry and engineering.
In these early years the skorne began to form distinct martial disciplines: the Cataphracts, Praetorians, and Venators. As the skorne grew into an agricultural society, they rapidly advanced the arts of beast handling and mortitheurgy. Over the centuries paingivers began to experiment with an ever-growing variety of creatures, while mortitheurges could engage in precise study and extollers could hone their spiritual arts, and in time they gained prominence as distinct sub-castes.
Two hundred years after the foundation of Malphas, Murzoul the Tireless gained dominance over all the feuding houses of the city and was the first to use the title archdominar to represent his authority. Fifteen years later, Murzoul's heir killed him, but failed to preserve his holdings and let his house become enslaved by rivals.
Eventually Malphas became overcrowded and many of its houses abandoned the city to settle on the southern shores of Mirketh Lake, founding the cities of Halaak, Kalvat and Kaleed. Halaak grew in size and prominence for centuries, eventually replacing Malphas as the centre of skorne civilisation.
Around 3000 BR, the first and most notable non-warrior to be exalted was Kexorus, the Sage of Malphas. He earned exaltation after inventing the skorne alphabet and carving its runes in stone to preserve ancient histories, legends, and the hoksune warrior code of Vuxoris.
In 1700 BR, Lord Tyrant Norvaak, the supreme aptimus of House Bashek, shattered the sacral stones of three tremendously powerful ancestors to set kovaas spirits on Halaak as a curse against his rivals. Norvaak died as he released these spirits, but they nearly annihilated the city before being contained. Thousands died screaming into the Void, their souls allowed no chance of exaltation or even preservation.