Age of Darkness
The Age of Darkness was the time period that preceded the formation of the Elven Empire. Whatever happened prior to -50,000 Modern Era is "darkness," perhaps referring to our lack of knowledge. While the phrase refers to all things preceding Elven rule, and so written history, it has qualitatively distinct aspects within it. These might be labeled by other names, such as the First Age for the rule of the Drakes, and the "Arkati-dominated Age" for the interregnum between imperial orders. In practice the Age of Darkness refers to the years -130,000 to -50,000 Modern Era, though possibly with more emphasis on the chaotic parts in the first half.
It is important to keep in mind that the progenitors of the Elven Houses existed at the time Dragon rule was shattered. The Age of the Drakes was regarded as a time of terror and deprivation, and so the rule of Dragonkind is not regarded with much veneration by Elves. There was some kind of more sylvan civilization during the second half of the "Age of Darkness," consisting of oral traditions rather than written history and formal scholarship. The Second Age begins roughly when the Chronicle keepers, devotees of the Arkati, establish records amidst sweeping political changes and expansion.
First Age: (-130,000 to -100,000 Modern Era)
The Age of the Drakes was thought to have begun by at least -130,000 Modern Era, with the Ur-Daemon War occurring around -105,000 Modern Era. The Timeline of Meachreasim Illistim suggests that the war lasted around 1,000 years. By -100,000 the Arkati were dominant, healing the lands, taking up races or causes to promote. Within a few thousand years there was finally an open schism between Liabo and Lornon, with a Conclave by Koar establishing an uneasy balance that more or less holds to this day. What was said at this meeting is unknown, but it ended the immediate threat of civil war. Tales of this time are sketchy, highly speculative and inconsistent. It is thought elementals were highly active following the Ur-Daemon War and possibly while it was happening.
Legends addressing anything older than the First Age are essentially creation myths, typically involving the mystical forces called "One", "Many", "Mystery", and so on. Known examples include the preface to the History of Elanthia by Meachreasim Illistim, and the "Elementals: Origins" section of the work by Lords Ulithian Feras and Isymir Ril-Galad. The deep past is fundamentally pre-historical, older than any known artifacts. What is known of the very ancient past is hidden away in places like the restricted wings of Library Aies.
- "The History of Fash'lo'nae" - Vaelsoth Inzuniel (5108 Modern Era)
- "The History of Eorgina"
- "The History of Luukos" - Larelle Aiv'thyline Loenthra, Ytrhyn Siv'aendas Illistim
- "The Legend of L'Naere" - Meachreasim Illistim (5103 Modern Era)
- "Madness and Entropy: A Tale of Zelia"
- "The History of Lumnis"
- "The Story of Niima and Charl"
The Arkati-Dominated Age: (-100,000 to -50,000 Modern Era)
Whatever precisely happened in the cataclysm that ended the First Age, it is thought that the Arkati were responsible for healing the world and fostering the surviving races. There are substantial inconsistencies regarding the extent of religiousness in this time, reflecting the divergence of several schools of thought regarding the Arkati. The Dhe'nar consider the formation of the house system in the Elven Empire to be the beginning of apostasy, for example, whereas the Elven dogma descending from the Illistim holds non-belief in divinity became widespread at the time of the Ur-Daemon War. Between these two extremes is Elven art showing high veneration, if not worship, early in the Second Age followed by a gradual decline in homage.
While the Elves lived under direct patronage of the Arkati during this time, they were not merely absent during the Second Age. The Legend of Leya attests to the Arkati coming down to the Elven cities, mixing with them, both figuratively and literally. However, the factuality or prevalence in even this legend is dubious, as it speaks of Arkati fighting "the Despana." The Elves would undoubtedly regard this as ahistorical since they had to end her themselves. The extent to which the Arkati were physically present in the second half of the Age of Darkness is not clear. The Elven historians typically do not distinguish these epochs as sovereign ages, regarding the Arkati period as more of an interregnum leading to their own civilization.