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Official History of Elanthia
Revision 1.1

Page One
    The Beginning
    I. The Age of the Drakes
    II. Second Age, the Elven Empire
Page Two
    III. The Age of Chaos
    IV. The Fourth Age, Modern Era

Tomes 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

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 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.

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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 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.

Further Reading:
· The Gods of Elanthia
· Giantkin History
· Giantkin Clans
· A Brief History of the Turamzzyrian Empire

 



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