History of Elanthia

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History of Elanthia is an Official GemStone IV Document, and it is protected from editing.

The Official History of Elanthia

Drawn from the Collected Libraries of Illistim by Meachreasim Illistim, First Master of Lore
Published: 9 Ivastaen of the year 5100
Modern Era

The Beginning

In the beginning...there was nothingness.

And then, a tiny spark of tarnished silver light lit the nothing, blinding it and eventually killing it. Nothingness had been driven to extinction in a single moment, to be remembered in the songs of bards and the hearts of melodramatic lovers sure to never love again. The light shone on, gaining in luster and argent hue, cutting through the places that the nothingness had cloaked.

Out from under the wings of oblivion drifted small particles of something-ness. These bits of pieces flowed towards the light, for while they could not remember a beginning, and could not remember the fear of not existing, they did know that the light was the catalyst for everything to come. They drifted to the light, and into the light. They came together, swirling and tumbling until they were no longer bits of pieces. They were the light. They were One.

The One looked out over the dead remains of nothing, and reached out to lift the corpse. Now free, a thousand thousand motes of something-ness drifted up, floating aimlessly in the void left by the death of the nothingness. The One shone brightly, and in the shining commanded, "Come together and Be." The motes found that they knew obedience, and they came together in six separate but not different Be-ings. They were not One. They were Many.

The Many turned to the One, unsure and curious. The One shone again, and stated in the shining, "We are One and we are Many. We are all that Is, but the nothingness left so much that Is Not. It is our responsibility to fill the empty spaces." The Many filled with the purpose of the shining, and it was what they were.

To honor the One who had freed them, they created balls of raging flames to give off colored light. To represent themselves, they created other existences to reflect that light and give it purpose and meaning. The void was no longer void.

The One observed all of existence and shone brightly in approval. But as the light flowed through the creation, the One saw a corner that the light did not reach. The One peered deeply into the lightlessness, and saw another. The Other looked back, and in that gaze the One saw a diametric opposite. "What are you?" asked the One. "I am all that you are not," replied the Other, "and together, we are All."

The Other darkened then, and called together more motes of something-ness into six separate but not different Beings, although they were different from the six called by the One. The new six joined the Many, and they too were Many. The Other reached out to the One and said, "The Many are mine and the Many are yours." And the One reached out to the Other and said, "Let us make one that is both, for without balance, All is for naught."

Using the last of the motes of something-ness, the One and the Other shone and darkened, and called together the last of the Many. The Grey was different from the rest of the Many, but did not seem bothered by this. Instead, the Grey stood with the Many, and the Many accepted the Grey into their fold.

The One pointed down to a ball of blue and green and shone brightly, and in the shining suggested, "There is a place that is beautiful and growing. It needs other Beings, ones not like us, but smaller and more limited, but possessing great capacities." As the Many nodded, the Grey spoke and said, "It needs Life."

The Many started, but nodded in agreement, for there was not anything that had been named in such a fashion. The Grey smiled. "The One and the Other are All. We are Many, and I am Grey. In these names, we state on many levels what we are, but those that we create will not be able to comprehend so deeply. They will need a way to refer to themselves." The One and the Other nodded to themselves. In the Grey, they had done well.

First sculpted were giant creatures, each different from the other. In these creatures, the Many invested great power and nearly limitless intelligence. They looked to the Grey, who said, "You have created Those Who Rule. It shall be their purpose to watch the different places in existence."

Next came other giant creatures, not one the same as another. The Many also gave them great power, and intelligence almost without end, and looked to the Grey for their purpose. "These shall be Those Who Oppose. They shall be the opposites of Those Who Rule, keeping the balance preserved."

Knowing this, the Many made a number of beings, mostly the same but with different qualities. These beings had power, and intelligence, and more than that, they had desires. The Grey nodded. "Those Who Help. In them, Those Who Rule shall find servants and assistants, and other things that their own greatness will not allow them to attain."

The Many looked down upon the teeming ball of blue and green, alive but without Life. They looked at each other, and at the One and the Other, and created tall beings, broad of shoulder and abundant of muscle. The Grey named them The Skyfinders, for they were closest to the firmament.

In balance, the Many made some of shorter stature, also broad of shoulder and filled with a stalwart strength. The Grey called them The Stoneshapers. The mountains would be their home, and the rocks would be their livelihood.

Elegant beings of sweeping form and musical voice followed. The Many endowed them with powerful minds but a serious nature to better utilize their mental acuity. They were called The Graceful, for in each aspect of their being, a profound delicacy could be found.

Their opposite came in a tiny package with bright eyes and a happy smile. Good humor and sweet nature were their hallmarks, and thus the Grey named them The Merry. Happiness would follow in their wakes, bringing existence a much needed levity.

The Many looked at their creations and nodded, feeling that now Life was complete. The Grey called bits of Life together, sculpting beings that were neither tall nor short, thick nor thin. They were not as strong as the Skyfinders, nor were they as beautiful as the Graceful. Instead, they were some of each of the strengths of the other creations. The Grey called them The Median, for in them was the essence of balance.

Life would grow bored and stagnate without challenges, and to that end, the Many created creatures of varying shapes and sizes. Some would regenerate their flesh if wounded, others would overwhelm with massive size, others would present challenges only guessed at. The Contenders were born, and given the purpose of granting opposition that Life might flourish.

Mental challenges were not overlooked by the Many. Creatures of scale, creatures of feather, creatures of all and neither, all massive in size and intelligence came into being, there to stimulate the mind. More importantly, they would feed the dreams and imagination, for nothing else was like them. They were called The Unique.

The whole of this new intelligent Life, the Grey called Potential. The One and the Other looked upon it, and the One shone in approval. But the Other pointed into the corner of existence where the light did not reach. The One stared deeply into it, and knew that Something was there, but could not see what It might be. "What is It?" asked the One.

"It is The Mystery," said the Other. "It is that which cannot be known. From that will come things no one, not even we, will expect. It is that which will ensure that our creation will grow as it deems that it should, without our interference."

The One nodded, for the Mystery was a good thing. And when Those Who Rule sought to destroy Potential, it was to the Mystery that the One pointed when the Many sought to stop them. "Although this was not the purpose originally seen for them, we must watch and see. Just as we, All, did not stop you or step in as you spun creation into being, you must not step in as creation takes its own direction, outside of your whims."

When Those Who Help stepped in, stopping the destruction of Potential, the Many nodded, and they understood. The Mystery was indeed a good thing.

The One, the Other, the Many and the Grey stepped back and watched creation unfold.

I. The Age of the Drakes (100,000+ years ago?)

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"Of the first age, little is known, save for one thing -- the dragons ruled all Elanthia. There are no written records of this time, but paintings on the walls of caves, carvings on petrified trees and glyphs found in the Southron Wastes all convey the same desperate messages, of flight, fear, and starvation. Above all, the mighty wings and claws of dragonkind."
- Linsandrych Illistim, First Master of Lore, House Illistim

I. A. The Rule of Dragonkind

From the dawn of time, none challenged the dragons. Intelligent, savage, and with powers beyond what men now name as gods, the drakes called all of Elanthia their own. The lesser races huddled in caves, hid in the deepest forests, or wandered as nomads. The drakes did not permit civilizations other than their own. So it had always been, and so it would remain.

It was only the intervention of the drake's servants, the Arkati, that allowed the lesser races to survive at all. As old a race as the drakes themselves, the humanoid Arkati were lesser in both powers and numbers. But they aided the drakes, and in return, the drakes suffered the lesser races to live.

I. B. The Ur-Daemon War

All this ended with the coming of the Ur-Daemons. Now believed to be extra- dimensional intelligent creatures, the Ur-Daemons somehow opened a portal to Elanthia approximately 100,000 years ago. They fed on mana, both that contained in the land's natural mana foci and that bound around all life.

There are no real records of the titanic battles fought between the Ur-Daemons and the dragons. Given the nature of the antagonists, it is doubtful that any histories could convey the scale of such a war. It seems to have lasted for at least several generations, as such were counted by our own ancestors, a span of at least a thousand years. In the end, the Ur-Daemons were driven back, making a final stand before the portal leading back to their own dimension. This final battle blasted the landscape for hundreds of miles, leaving it barren and lifeless.

The drakes had won, but they had also lost. Most of their number had been slain in the conflict, and many others had been driven mad by an emotion none had known before - fear. Drake rule was shattered forever.

Though lesser in number and weaker than their ancient brethren, the few dragons that survive today have not lost their appetites, and are still the most powerful and feared creatures on Elanthia.

I. C. The Coming of the Arkati (100,000 years ago?)

The land recovered slowly from the war. The Arkati worked to heal it. Long the dragon's servants, they had themselves learned how to manipulate mana. With most of the dragons dead, insane, or hiding, certain of the Arkati began to mold the land and its lesser races into their own likenesses. They who had been servants now played the part of master. These Arkati are those whom we today call gods. It is said that, in these early days, they walked the land as teachers, leaders, and guides. Imaera took the people of the forests, and taught them to be one with the land. Eonak showed the folk of the stone how to mine riches from the mountains. Oleani adopted the smaller folk of the valleys, instilling in them a joy for life and a special gift for growing things.

Others of the Arkati chose not individual races, but seasons, emotions, or tasks to be their own. Kai accepted warriors of all sorts, and Lumnis embodied wisdom and learning. Ronan controlled the night, the time of dreams, while Phoen's was the warm sun of summer. Imaera chose the autumn, while Lorminstra reigned over winter, the season of death. The raging seas were Charl's domain. Jastev's followers celebrated visual arts, and developed a gift of prophecy, while his twin Cholen became the god of festivals and performing arts. Tonis, remarkable for his speed and determination, became the messenger of the gods. Over all of them ruled Koar, with a firm but gentle hand.

Not all of the Arkati chose to help rebuild the land. Some had a different vision. Without the dragons controlling them, they began to strive against the others. Eorgina, Goddess of the dark, became their leader. Aligned with her were Ivas, mistress of seduction, Fash'lo'nae, master of the arcane arts, Andelas the Cat, whose joy is others' pain, and V'tull, the dark warrior. Also joined with Eorgina were Sheru, bringer of terror and nightmares, Mularos, who twists love to control and destroy, and Luukos, he who feeds on souls.

The two groups grew further apart, as it was clear each regarded the land in a different light. Koar's faction saw it as a trust which had befallen them, the lesser races as children to be taught. The others saw the land as a stage for their own desires, its inhabitants as playthings, food, or worse.

Strangely enough, the Arkati never came into open conflict. Some say that neither side trusted its strength to win the day. Others believe they simply await the appointed time.

II. Second Age, The Elven Empire (50,000 - 20,000 years ago)

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Under the Arkati's tutelage, all the lesser races developed their own civilizations. But none has ever matched the great empire of the Elves. The most magically adept of the races, they saw themselves as the natural heirs to dragonkind. The Elves quickly spread from the deep forests in which they had always lived, staking claim to much of the known world.

II. A. The Seven Noble Houses of the Elves

"The lesser races live in savagery. It is only with the guidance of our own eternal empire that they shall ever rise from barbarism to enjoy the benefits of civilization. Incapable of ruling themselves, they are rightfully grateful for our benevolence and aid."
-Yshryth Faendryl, XIV Patriarch, House Faendryl

The elven empire was centered on the Seven Cities, each built by and named for one of the seven noble houses. Each of these lines had risen to leadership of the elven peoples. Even today, most Elves swear varying degrees of allegiance to one or the other.

Ta'Faendryl, built by Korthyr Faendryl's line, was the capital city of the empire. Though all the houses were theoretically equal, most acknowledged the Faendryl as the natural leaders of the race, though some did so more grudgingly than others. No other house had mastered both spirit and elemental magic as well as had the Faendryl Elves.

Ta'Vaalor, the work of the great Aradhul Vaalor, is more a fortress than a city. The Vaalor have always produced the finest warriors of the elven race. All Vaalor, male and female, enter the military at a young age, serving for some hundred years. Perhaps because of this, they are the haughtiest of the Elves. They had little tolerance for the lesser peoples of the lands, especially mixed-breeds. They have never suffered the elven culture or bloodlines to be tainted by others. They also chafed under the leadership of the Faendryl, believing the high seat should be theirs.

The line of Zishra Nalfein founded Ta'Nalfein, which has always been a center of elven politics. The Nalfein are fairly adept at everything, but they have always been the masters of stealth, whether in the field or the council chambers. Their politics are particularly ruthless, as they let little stand between themselves and their desires. The Nalfein are also apt to take up the life of a wandering merchant, traveling the world to trade in both goods and information.

Sharyth Ardenai was the matriarch of Ta'Ardenai, and her line remained closest of the houses to their roots in the deep forests. Though they dwell in towns and cities, they retain a closeness and a love for the land exceeded only by the Sylvankind. They tend to be less haughty than members of the other houses, and have less of an imperial bent. They are typically appointed as emissaries to other races. They are, however, capable warriors at need. All Ardenai grow up to revere the hunt, and few can match their bowmasters.

Bhoreas Ashrim's line took to the sea. None could match their skill with elemental magic, especially that of wind and water. They were said to have achieved control over the weather. They used this skill to master the waves, and they used their mighty city of Ta'Ashrim as a base for trading with some and raiding others. Coastal dwellers of the other races came to fear the warships of the "Sea Elves," as they were known. Though perhaps the haughtiest of all the elven houses, the Ashrim had little to do with elven politics - they considered the sea their kingdom, and cared little for the concerns of those on land.

Callisto Loenthra's house is one of craftsman, artists, poets and bards. Ta'Loenthra is generally acknowledged as the center of elven culture, especially by the Loenthra. Though some do leave the elven lands to ply their trades as merchants or wandering bards, most Loenthra consider the lesser races too barbaric for their company. An old Loenthra saying describes performing to an unappreciative audience as "casting pearls before Dwarves."

Ta'Illistim was founded by Linsandrych Illistim, the greatest scholar in elven history. Her house has continued that tradition, and none can match the knowledge of the Illistim Masters of Lore. They are also extremely adept at the working of magical rituals, and the greatest artifacts produced by the Elves came from the House of Illistim's laboratories. Though many Illistim choose a life of seclusion and study, some others travel the world in search of knowledge, both old and new.

II. B. The Sylvankind

Sylvankind spring from the same roots as the Elves, but they chose a different path. As the Elves moved from their forests to build the Seven Cities, some stayed behind. These are the Sylvankind.

The Sylvankind care little for the world outside their forests. For them, the forests are the world. They retain a closeness to the land which approaches unity. A keen-eyed traveler can always tell when he approaches a forest of the Sylvankind, for the plants and trees appear both more lush and more dangerous. Few enter such a forest without the permission of its masters, and fewer still escape.

Within these forests, the Sylvankind have built great hanging tree-cities. Some of their dwellings have hundreds of rooms, as they have grown over thousands of years. The race is ruled by a council of Hierophants, each of whom serves for his or her entire adult life. There is little for them to rule on, however, as the Sylvankind are generally of like mind.

Few Sylvankind leave their forest homes. There is simply little to interest most sylvankind "out there". Of course, there are some who feel the call to travel, whether out of curiosity, ambition, or an understanding that events outside the forests can threaten what lies within.

II. C. The Dwarves

The Dwarves also founded an empire, though one more limited in scope. They did not challenge elven control of the land, for the Dwarves were more interested in what was underneath it. They made their home in the mountains. There, they found gold, silver, mithril and other materials. The vast underground cities of the Dwarves were, however, little known to other races, for the Dwarves allowed few to enter and see their riches.

The Dwarves were split into many clans, each dwelling in a range of hills or mountains. Ruling over all was the line of Khazi Khazar, who founded the greatest of the dwarven holdings, the city of Kalaza. His line served as the dwarven Overking for thousands of years. Little is known of most of these years, as the Dwarves do not offer their history freely. Most of this history, however, involves their never-ending war with the other mountain-dwellers, the orcs. The Dwarves have been battling orcs, and their larger thralls, the trolls, for generations.

Though most Dwarves remain in their clans, a fair number do travel the world. Dwarves are, by necessity, accomplished traders, bartering the riches of their underground kingdoms for food, cloth, and the like. They are also the world's best weapon and armorsmiths, surpassing even the skills of the Illistim Elves.

II. D. The Humans

The lot of the Humans was a treacherous one in this age. The Elves ruled the land, and they would permit no others to settle its more fertile areas. The Vaalor, in particular, have always gone out of their way to make life difficult for Humans. Most Humans lived a nomadic life, barely sustaining themselves in the barren lands they were permitted. Others served as slaves, beggars or thieves within the shadows of the great elven cities.

Not all Humans accepted their lot as thralls. Some rebelled. Many so-called rebels were little more than outlaws, more brigands than freedom fighters. Some few, however, actually achieved minor victories. The Black Wolves were one such group. Led by the wizard Aramur Forean, once a student of the Illistim himself, they actually drove the Elves out of the area around what is now called Wehnimer's Landing. After one of their raids killed a young Vaalor prince, however, the Elves hunted the Black Wolves down. The Humans vanished into a series of caverns near the sea, and they were never heard from again.

II. E. The Giantmen

The Giantmen developed a tribal society in the northern lands. These semi-nomadic tribes followed their herds' migrations, spending all but the winter season in warfare with each other. For there is nothing a Giantman likes more than battle. These were, fortunately, limited wars. The tribes sought to best each other, seeking glory and joy, not to destroy other tribes. For while two tribes might be at war this season, they might be allies in the next.

Some Giantmen have always traveled the world, generally in search of a good fight. Many have made a life as a mercenary, and they can be found wherever there is the clash of steel and the cry of the battle-horn.

II. D. Halflings

Halfling society has changed little since the third age. By then, they had developed a peaceful, agrarian society. The Elves did not consider them a threat, and therefore left them to their own devices. This was fine with the Halflings, who neither share nor understand the other races' ambitions to plunder the land. After all, soldiering is the sort of nonsense which could make one late for supper.

Halfling villages are each governed by a democratically elected mayor. Each village is independent, as there is no need for any higher form of government. Halflings themselves tend to stay in their villages, for few can bear to leave their families. However, they are also an extremely inquisitive people, so some do travel the world in search of adventure.

III. The Age of Chaos (20,000 - 5,000 years ago)

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The Elven empire spanned the known world, and ruled for nearly 30,000 years. They believed none could threaten them. They believed this until they heard the name Despana.

III. A. The Undead War

"Thousands of them! Ghouls, zombies, and worse, all blackened and half-rotten. They poured into the valley, an endless horde of screams, blood and stink. Now, we were all veterans of the orc wars, and we were ready for them... but nothing could have prepared us for the banshee."
- Rhak Toram, Warrior of the Dusk Mountain Clan, survivor of Maelshyve

Nobody knows just who or what Despana was. Her contemporaries believed that she came from the jungles said to lie beyond the Southron Wastes. She searched the land for the old places of the Ur-Daemons. Somewhere in what is now called Rhoska- Tor, her quest succeeded when she found the Book of Tormtor. The book was lost during the events which followed, so none can now be sure of its contents. It was said to be written in the language of the Daemons.

Using this ancient work, Despana created the first of the Undead. Their numbers grew rapidly, and she soon had a vast horde of them to serve her. Their first task was to build the great keep of Maelshyve, where Despana took residence. From this keep, countless hordes of the Undead began their second task - the conquest of Elanthia. They were led by the arch-lich Dharthiir, who was said to be more than simply Despana's General.

Dharthiir commanded many of the living as well. Entire tribes of orcs, drawn by promises of conquest and plunder, swore fealty to him. They brought with them their traditional allies, the trolls. Many Humans also joined Darthiir's horde. Some came for silver, others to join any foe of the Elves.

The hordes struck first at the Elven nations. Their progress was lightning fast, easily destroying what little resistance they met in the outlying provinces. The leaders of the Elven houses were unable to organize any real defense. This was not due to a lack of means, but a lack of leadership. Each house wished the glory of vanquishing the Undead for themselves, and none would consent to have their troops led by another. And no house would commit troops to defend the territories of another.

Within a month, the Undead had cut a swathe to the heart of the Elven empire, threatening Ta'Vaalor itself. The Vaalor were led by Taki Rassien, wielder of the legendary veil-iron sword Aramier, and the greatest warrior of his time. He took the cream of the Vaalor armies to make a stand at the fortress ShadowGuard. With him went the Sabrar, a legion of elite knights that had never known defeat. Taki knew that, at ShadowGuard, the Vaalor would stop the horde.

The battle of ShadowGuard lasted less than one day. The Undead destroyed the entire garrison, leaving fewer than a score of survivors. The elite Vaalor armies had been lost, along with Taki himself. At the time, this was considered the greatest defeat in the history of the Elven empire.

Modern scholars, however, point to the battle of ShadowGuard as the turning point of the Undead War. For several reasons, it marked the high point of Despana's campaign. First, the leaders of the other houses were shocked into cooperating. At last, the Faendryl were able to unify the command of all the Elven armies and mount an organized defense. Second, Dharthiir himself was never seen after ShadowGuard. Tavern-tales hold that, at the last, Taki led the Sabrar in a charge at the heart of the undead army, and that he slew the lich. As none of the Sabrar survived the battle, this confrontation remains more legend than history.

The battle of ShadowGuard also brought new allies. From Kalaza, the Dwarven overking sent legions of his heavy infantry. The Giantman Warmaster ordered each of the tribes to support the Elves. There were even small bands of Halflings and Sylvankind. Lastly, Humans came to fight with the Elves. Some were mercenaries, but others came for nobler reasons. Thus were Humans the only race to fight on both sides of this war.

The Undead advance slowed, then stopped. A stalemate was reached, with neither side able to push the other back. Daily charges across the lines of battle brought heavy casualties, but little progress. This state of affairs lasted for years.

Finally, the Faendryl proposed a plan to end the war - a lightning strike at Despana's keep. They claimed to have discovered a secret that would destroy Maelshyve and its mistress forever. It was a new form of magic, one they would not reveal to any.

The Elven armies and their allies assaulted Maelshyve, and the attack went well at first. Berserking Giantmen warriors broke the front lines of skeletons, zombies of ghouls, and a solid square of Dwarven infantry battled back the orcish hordes. Slowly, they pushed Despana's forces back toward the keep.

Then, Despana released the banshees. Their screams decimated the attacking forces, which fell back in disarray. For a moment, the battle appeared to be lost.

The Faendryl chose that moment to reveal their secret, their new magic. Inscribing circles upon the ground, they summoned a flight of lesser demons to battle the undead hordes. Their foes fled back through the gates of the keep. The Faendryl then cast their final spell, causing the keep itself to implode, leaving nothing but smoke and rubble. Despana and her armies are said to have been utterly destroyed.

III. B. Aftermath of the Undead War - the Age of Chaos

The Elves had won the war, but at great cost. Much of their empire had been sacked by the Undead. Their armies were nearly destroyed. But the political results were even more devastating. All the Elven houses were appalled at the spells the Faendryl had unleashed. The summoning of demons was thought to be a particularly heinous act. Illistim mages pointed out the dangers of penetrating the veil. For all any knew, the Ur- Daemon still existed somewhere beyond it. The Vaalor and the Nalfein were also adamant on the subject, though some cynics have speculated that their motivations were not entirely selfless.

The Faendryl argued that it was necessary, that Despana would have won without these magics. The other houses did not agree. They expressed their outrage by expelling the Faendryl from the empire. They were exiled to Rhoska-Tor, the barren, blackened land where Maelshyve had stood.

Without the Faendryl to lead, the Elven empire began to decay. The houses began an internal struggle for power, as each thought themselves the natural heir to the Faendryl's position. As they bickered, their empire slowly disappeared. The outlying territories declared themselves independent, or rebelled outright. To this day, the Elves have not resolved their internal politics.

The Dwarven empire also fell as a result of the Undead War. Soldiers returning to Kalaza from the final battle brought with them more than tales of victory. They also brought plague, the sickness known as the Red Rot. It swept through Kalaza like a firestorm, killing over half the population. The dead included the Overking and his entire line. From that time on, each clan has ruled itself. The clans have become staunch isolationists, caring little for the politics of the outside world. Kalaza itself was hidden, its great gates buried under an avalanche of concealing stones. Only the Dwarves now know its location.

Without the Elven armies to keep order, the land fell into anarchy. The next 20,000 years were known as the Age of Chaos. Orcs, trolls and worse raided at will. Travel to many areas was dangerous, if not impossible. Of the various wars, plagues and other disasters of the era, little is known. The fragments of song and story which survive tell of a very dark time, full of hunger, fear and little else.

IV. The Fourth Age - The Modern Era (5,000 years ago - present)

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It is difficult to mark an end to the Age of Chaos. Most historians designate the modern age as beginning 10,000 years ago, but this is an arbitrary designation. Order was slow to return to the Land, with both the Elves and the Dwarves preoccupied with their own problems.

IV. A. The Dark Elf - Sea Elf War (5,000 years ago)

In the aftermath of the Undead War, the Faendryl had been banished to the land of Rhoska-Tor, the barren and blasted land where Maelshyve had stood. Life in that place was never easy, for little grew there. Below the surface, however, the Faendryl found extensive networks of caverns. Not only did these provide shelter, but they also contained an unusually large number of mana foci. The Faendryl were able to refine their already- considerable talent for magic. This helped them survive.

Slowly, the Faendryl began to change. Their features became even finer and sharper. Those living in the deepest caverns, those closest to the ruins of Maelshyve, found their skin darkening to a brown or black. As their aptitude for magic increased, they became physically weaker.

The Faendryl also became increasingly bitter towards the other Elven houses. Many believed that their exile had more to do with political opportunism than anything else. As they regained their strength, they began to look southward toward their ancestral home. Some counseled a war to regain it.

Others within House Faendryl sought a peaceful reconciliation with the other houses. This included Rythwier Faendryl, XXXVII Patriarch of House Faendryl. He arranged to have his eldest daughter, Chesylcha, wed a prince of House Ashrim. She traveled to Ta'Ashrim, the Sea Elf capital, with a wedding party numbering in the thousands. All hoped this would bring peace to the Elven houses and help them begin the restoration of their empire.

Chesylcha never made it to the wedding. There are as many stories about her death as there are storytellers. Whether it was a Nalfein or Human assassin, or whether she simply fell ill, none are certain. Most believed what served their own ends. Within House Faendryl, those who had counseled war to regain their rightful place used the princess's death to begin one.

The war began and ended with a Faendryl assault of the Ashrim home islands. Faendryl losses were horrendous. Their navies were no match for those of the Sea Elves. However, a few ships did reach the harbor of Ta'Ashrim, and those few sufficed. The Faendryl's greatest spellcasters were on one of these ships. They struck at the Ashrim capital with the same spells they had used to destroy Maelshyve, but their abilities and knowledge had increased considerably. The Sea Elves were not merely defeated, they were obliterated. Their home islands were reduced to lifeless, smoking rocks jutting from the sea.

There were no known survivors among the Ashrim. Certainly, some must have escaped, simply by virtue of having been elsewhere. If so, they have remained hidden since that day. House Ashrim no longer exists.

House Faendryl also ended, after a fashion, with the Sea Elf war. After the Ashrim were destroyed, the other Elven houses no longer considered the Faendryl to be true Elves. Indeed, the changes in their physical appearance lent credence to this. Since that time, the Faendryl have been known to all as the Dark Elves.

IV. B. Dwarven-Giantman War (2,000 years ago)

The Giantman had always been a nomadic people, but increasing contact with other races during the modern age has led some to settle down. Some tribes built cities, even becoming farmers. Other tribes retained the old ways, but their lands were becoming more and more crowded. They were forced to range farther and farther as they followed the seasons, their herds, and their endless wars.

One tribe decided to build a settlement in an uninhabited mountain range. Within weeks, a Dwarven army had appeared, seemingly from nowhere. The Dwarves attacked immediately. At first, the Giantmen considered the Dwarves an amusement, more or less fat, bearded goblins. But they soon learned that, despite their height, the Dwarves were nearly as strong as the giants, far more organized in battle, and armed with the finest weapons and armor their master-smiths could forge.

This odd little war lasted the entire summer. The Dwarves could not force the Giantmen to retreat off the mountain, but the giants could not defeat the Dwarves, either. In the fall, the giants decided to continue their migrations. They had not been defeated by the little people, but they never returned to that mountain, either. Before they left, they forged a compact with the Dwarves there at the peak they called Sunfist. This peace has lasted thousands of years.

The Dwarven-Giantman war remains unexplained. The Giantmen never learned the reason for the Dwarves' attack, and Giantmen certainly need no reason to fight a war. The war did have an unexpected result, though. The Dwarves and Giantmen each gained the other's respect for their abilities in battle. Over time, they began trade. Today, the races are staunch allies, aligned more closely than any two other races in the land.

IV. C. The Rise of the Humans

The Age of Chaos provided humankind not only with great dangers, but also opportunities. The Elven armies no longer protected them, so they constructed their first fortresses. These fortresses eventually grew into towns, then cities. The Humans developed a feudal society based in these fortress-cities.

The largest of these cities was the port of Tamzyrr. The Overlord Selantha Anodheles, later the first Empress, extended its control to the surrounding baronies, and then further. Her own ancestry is unclear. Many say she was of mixed Human and Elven blood, a sign of Elven meddling in Human affairs. Indeed, it is hard to believe that her rapid series of political and military victories was entirely the fruit of her own talents, as considerable as they were.

Eventually, the Turamzzyrian Empire grew to control nearly as much land as had the Elven Empire at its height. In the process, the Humans have restored a measure of order to the land.

Over the intervening centuries, other families have risen to challenge the Anodheles for control of the imperial throne, and it is not surprising to some that their number is not much greater than that of the existing Elven houses. In fact, there are constantly new contending families which rise from obscurity to assail the circle of the empire's noble families, touting their lineage as being unmarred by Elven blood and claiming a total freedom from Elven influence. Some view the lack of refutation from the noble families as tacit confession of Elven influence and support.

For the past two years the Throne of Turamzyrr has been held by the Empress Mynal'lyanna. She is rumored to have the backing of a cult of Luukos. Two of those who contested her claim to the throne were struck down with diseases which defied all treatments, and one was attacked by undead in the first such attack ever recorded in the city of Tamzyrr. The victim was held in confinement until he displayed signs of the Curse of Luukos, and then was mercifully slain before the curse could fully manifest itself. A cold, and calculating ruler, Mynal'lyanna has vowed to extend the empire's holdings beyond the shores of this land, and to bring all inhabiting races beneath the rulership of the empire. Her supporters point to this openly anti-Elven stance as proof that her rise to the throne is free of Elven influence, and is a clear signal that the power of the Elven houses is beginning to fade. Detractors suggest that her vow is a sign of her megalomania, and fear that the powers that back her are anything but Human.

In the two years since her rise to power, Mynal'lyanna's imperial troops have doubled in numbers. Used by former emperors to garrison the city and as shipboard troops to ensure the safety of coastal commerce, the empress has instead used her troops to isolate baronies which have failed to fulfill their imperial obligations.

All of this has had an effect on even a distant frontier town like Wehnimer's Landing. Neighboring barons who have viewed the Landing as too distant and paltry to trifle with in the past are now reassessing the situation. Wehnimer's is a port town, and given the empress' vow to expand the empire across oceans, any port has a new potential for trade and a possible influx of imperial silver as new ships are commissioned. Also, with the empress' increase in troops has come an increase in the baronial taxes to support them, and every baron is now looking for any undeveloped source of income which might lie close to hand. Even if that source does not currently lie within his barony.

Perhaps more significant to the daily life of those in Wehnimer's is the sudden influx of those displaced by the new policies which Mynal'lyanna has put in place. Non- Humans have fled the inner regions of the empire as existing prejudices have been reinforced by imperial policies. And while those with money and influence have been able to purchase exclusions from certain new laws, the common folk of non-Human races have been stricken with a series of prohibitions and restrictions that are pointless other than to humiliate and degrade.

IV. D. The Founding of Wehnimer's Landing (200 years ago)

Wehnimer's Landing was founded 200 years ago, when Rone Wehnimer established a Wayside Inn on the road from the Darkstone bay to the heart of the Human empire. It lies on the very edge of the Human empire, and the town has become a center for trade between the Humans, Elves and other races. The Landing has always attracted a large share of adventurers, who come to the edge of civilization to make their fortunes.

Rone himself grew restless. As his town grew into a city, he found his taste for adventure returning. He was last seen heading southeast with a pack-train of supplies. Many believe he sought Deepholt, the legendary underground city said to have been founded by Osriar Melenthrope. As neither Rone nor anybody else has ever returned from Deepholt, its very existence is unsubstantiated.

IV. E. The Krolvin Attack (150 years ago)

Soon after Wehnimer's Landing was founded, the Human empress immediately dispatched three emissaries to make contact with the Krolvin and establish trade. These emissaries traveled through the Landing on their way to the Krolvin nation.

The three emissaries returned in six sacks, borne at the vanguard of a Krolvin war party. The Krolvin have no use for trade. They take what they want. The citizens of the Landing were hard-pressed to defend it. Though many accomplished warriors, wizards and the like called Wehnimer's home, they were vastly outnumbered. It appeared that the Landing would fall.

Talbot Dabbings saved the day. As the gates were breached, the Halfling warrior was able to slip past the enemy unnoticed. He made his way through the enemy lines in the confusion, heading toward the Krolvin war-leader. Leaping from his hiding place behind a water-barrel, Talbot slew the Krolvin. Two things then happened almost immediately. First, Talbot was killed. Second, the remaining Krolvin began to argue over who should be the new war-leader. This argument took over two days to resolve. By that time, the empress had sent reinforcements. The Krolvin boarded their ships and left - but few doubt that they will try again.