Official History of Elanthia
III. The Age of Chaos (20,000
- 5,000 years ago)
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
III. B. Aftermath of the Undead War - the Age
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
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
IV. The Fourth Age - The Modern
Era (5,000 years ago - present)
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
IV. D. The Founding of Wehnimer's Landing (200
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
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.