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The Lost Origins of the Elvesby LoZompatore from Threshold Magazine issue 12
The Lost Origins of the Elves
A collection of legends from the most ancient times
Michele “LoZompatore” C. played BECMI for most of his life, starting way back in 1987. He likes, most of all, mixing and matching canon and fanon material about Mystara to see how many new adventure hooks can be churned out. In the little spare time he has away from Mystara he helps other guys in designing oil and gas pipelines around the (real) world.
Prologue: A lecture in Windreach
Academy of the Dragons, early evening of Klarmont, 1 AC 1000
On the warm dusk ending the day of the summer solstice many people were already seated in the Great Hall at the center of the Assembly of the Sages, one of the most venerable buildings in the distinguished, ancient Academy.
While a score of young Eldars and, strangely, old drakes occupied the lowest seats, many young dragons sat impatiently in a huge gallery right above. A separate canopy hosted some strangers - old, wrinkled elves of many ethnicities whose insignia claimed they came from Norwold, Alphatia, the South and even farther lands. This was another very unusual sight, for the elves were not usually welcome in Windreach.
They were all waiting for the appearance of Tearentym the Scholar, the wisest of the Eldar teachers in this temple of knowledge. His lecture, the only one he still deigned to perform once every two decades in the carefully planned ceremonial schedule of Windreach, was one of the most sought events of the Academy..
It was said that Taerentym was almost three thousand years old, a respectful age even for most dragons, and that he was among the founders of the Academy, during a wild ancient epoch when it was clear that a systematic method of transmission of knowledge was necessary if the Eldar and dragon civilizations were to survive.
The audience was eager to listen to the venerable, whatever the subject of his lesson, as his words were meditated upon, the culmination of years of study and full of insight, even for the few, old elven sages from across the world who deserved the honour to attend the speech.
With a soft, glimmering light, like mist slowly coalescing into a humanoid figure, the slender silhouette of Teaerentym materialized on the basaltic pedestal in the middle of the half-round room. His public appearances were very limited, so many in the audience were surprised to see how the burden of time took its toll on Taerentym's body since they last saw him.
His skin looked like brown sheepskin, his hair a half-blown dandelion, his eyes two black dots in a sea of wrinkles.
"Welcome to this Vicennial Lecture, my students," said the venerable, his strong, high-pitched voice totally unlike the aged body it came from. "I feel this time is a special meeting, as it is happening in a really peculiar turn of events.
“Many among the short-lived races today celebrate the completion of a millennium of some petty organization of theirs. Others, more savvy of mortal history, remember that in a bright, warm morning of slightly more than four millennia ago, the world was changed. The night sky still tears to commemorate that tragedy1.
“Finally, other people, those who are more in tune with things from the upper worlds beyond ours, are perceiving an unusual tension among the Immortals themselves2. No one knows for sure if this is for the good or for the bad. My personal feeling is that I will be soon relieved of the Burden of Time, and this might well be my last Lecture. That's why I'll devote my speech to our past, to remember what we are and how we became so. I'll talk about dragons, Eldar, elves and their origins.”
The whole audience stood in awe, as this subject had always been carefully avoided by the venerable as far as the oldest inhabitant of Windreach could remember, even if no one was sure of the reason. It was now clear why the invitation to the lecture was extended also to common - albeit distinguished - elves and drakes. Every soul in the hall stood in deferential silence as the old scholar started his speech.
The First Race
“It is said that Eldar and elves were born from the very first intelligent race to inhabit Mystara. Legends say that, in the very beginning, our world was covered by an uninterrupted ocean, all the continents buried under miles of water3. Only marine races lived on our planet: maybe some of them were also able to fly4 but, in those times, the most important events of life happened in the seas.
An ancient Eldar myth states that, once this World Ocean was ready to harbor life, the Immortals placed a single intelligent life form on it, which was tasked to keep track of the passing of time5.
The true shape of this ancestral First Race is nowadays unknown, for many changes happened in the world since then. The Eldar believe they were this very first race themselves, but the changes needed in their bodies in order to adapt to a life on the continents disprove so.
Maybe the bodies of the First Race were more similar to the present-day water elves, the Aquarendi, although sages say that even this people are but an offspring, created after a dramatic flood submerged the first landsmasses6.
Marine tortles, those grumpy people we also call snappers, boast that they were summoned from far away by a group of ancient Immortals to compete with the First Race in a contest for the beautification of the oceans and of the whole seafloor7. In the end the First Race proved too weak to complete the task and the snappers won the privilege to inhabit the shallowest parts of the sea, where sunlight is greater and prey is abundant. Oddly, the tortles’ race, those peaceable cousins of the snappers, have a similar legend in which they helped the First Race to raise islands and continents when the Immortals commanded so8.
Unfortunately, nothing more is known about the accomplishments done by the First Race when Mystara was young, and I firmly believe that no one but the oldest Immortals could shed some light on these bygone ages.
Whatever the truth about their origins and true powers, the First Race is now gone. All sages agree it differentiated and mutated into countless species and creatures who now share its humanoid shape, albeit changed into a wide range of variations. For my part, I believe the Immortals moved some of the First Race into some sheltered sanctuary we know nothing of, or raised the last of this kin to live among them in the Upper Planes.”
The Eldar Kingdoms
“So, some time after the continents emerged from the sea, the Eldars evolved from the First Race. Eldars possibly started as a marine or amphibian species but eventually they moved to the dry lands where they prospered and became the proud and mighty race we all know of.
“As you know, all Eldars were truly neutral towards life and the world, and felt at ease within nature and its manifestations. Soon after they settled on the wilderness of the ancient continents, the Eldars attuned so well to the magic field that permeates Mystara everywhere that, within an amazingly short time for such a inexperienced race, they became powerful spellcasters.
“Sages speculate about the true extent of Eldars’ powers but there is a wide agreement in the belief that their spellcasters were among the most powerful Mystara has ever seen, at least on par with the dreaded Carnifex, the reclusive insectoid creators of the Meks, and even the mightiest dragons of today.”
This last sentence by Taerentym was met with a loud snort coming from the dragons’ gallery. It was Laicanar, a talented young black dragon from the Amalur lowlands who recently moved to Windreach to perfect the use of magic.
“No doubt dragons are the flawless merger among matter, magic and spirit. Any achievement of any ancient culture could not remotely vie with the perfect equilibrium reached by the dragons. After all, no ancient civilized people lived up to the test of time. Today what we can find of such grand and wise races are nothing but ruins or, at best, scattered, puny individuals who survive thanks to the generosity of superior civilizations like the dragons.“
Such an interruption was not only disrespectful towards wise Taerentym and his lecture, but it also offended all the Eldars in the room. Muttering and grumbling started coming from the seats of the Eldars, while hisses and grumbles of praise came from the gallery of dragons. While a newcomer in Windreach, Laicanar quickly managed to gain some support among his fellow young dragons, especially the greens and the blacks.
Nevertheless, Taerentym simply ignored Laicanar’s interference and continued his speech as if he just paused to have a small rest.
“The Eldar’s knowledge of nature and magic gifted this people with a very long lifespan. It is told that the eldest managed to live for over three millennia, so the Eldars had plenty of time to create many wonders in this and the other worlds within their reach. Like the First People, most of these wonders are now lost forever, or they are invisible and otherwise unreachable to us. But, if you wish to have but a glimpse of the Eldars’ powers just look at the night sky and search for the Shining Islands9. Such places, with all their magic, wealth, and their philosophy of protection of neutral beings are widely believed to be one of their many creations.
“It is almost sure that at least some of the Eldar kingdoms had large colonies stretching into the four Elemental Planes10; moreover settlements were established among the reclusive Early Dwarves of the underground11. At the apex of their civilization, the Eldars were so admired that groups of fey from the faerie world moved into Eldars’ cities to live with them, something unheard of in the following ages12.
“With all their powers, the Eldar themselves were fond admirers of another race, a race who was not born on Mystara13 but whose members reached our world shortly after it was seeded with life. These were the dragons.
“At that time dragons were already majestic creature to be reckoned with, wilder and slightly less intelligent than the modern specimens here represented. Their use of magic was well developed, but somewhat limited. They had their own path to reach Immortality14, which was very different from those of the other races, and Immortal dragons were not enlisted in the rankings of the usual Immortals we know of15.”
Notwithstanding these minor “flaws” - as the Eldars perceived them - dragons were subject of such great admiration that any Eldar which was gifted with slightly more than the average magic power vested to their race wished to become like them.
Many efforts and resources were devoted to this aim and, finally, the Eldar spellcasters’ elite managed to cast an enchantment so powerful to change overnight their whole race. Suddenly, even the least gifted of the Eldars became able to turn at will its own body into a small, grey, dragon-like form which was able to fly, sleep, eat, breathe and speak like any other dragon of the world16.
This flawless improvement was heralded as one of the greatest success of the Eldars’ magic, something unparalleled by all past and present mortal people, possibly including dragons themselves.
Unfortunately, this was not enough for the most powerful magic-users. Magical people did not content themselves to look, speak and act like dragons. They truly wanted to become dragons: a keystone of the Multiverse, all-powerful and free from the control of the Immortals.
It is said that the disaster which befell on the Eldars following this ambition was a punishment cast by the Immortals and dragons alike, as the Eldars wished to exempt themselves from the very founding rules of our reality. This curse took the form of a progressive, prolonged split and barbarization of the Eldar race.”
Map of civilizations before the Eldar Split
The Eldar Split
“According to legends, a terrible catastrophe hit at the end of the 21st generation of Eldars17 since the establishment of their first great kingdom. Based on the reckoning of the survivors, and of dragons, we have a pretty precise date for the cataclysm, in spite of the chaotic age which ensued. It happened exactly one moon minus one day18 after the autumnal equinox of 15370 years ago19; some sages among the Eldars still use a calendar based on this ill-fated day. The sky still changes its color during day or night on the anniversary of this event, as if the magical power unleashed at that time is still echoing in our epoch. Or, maybe, this celestial omen is a sign from the Immortals who just want us - Eldars and dragons - to forever remember the foolishness of our ancestors.
“Only speculation is possible about what exactly caused the cataclysm, as the precise procedure used by the all-powerful mages who performed the spell was banned and neutralized immediately after the event. It is widely believed it was caused by the excess of wild magic accumulated within the most powerful Eldar spellcasters while they were attempting the final metamorphosis of their grey dragon shapes into the new, true chromatic dragon breed they named the Grey Dragon20.
“Eldar magic was so developed and refined at that time that a total failure was simply not possible. The spell actually did succeed but at the expense of the magically weakest members of the Eldar race, which in truth were the majority of their people.
“So the most powerful spellcasters became true Grey Dragons, indeed. At the same time a small number of Eldars managed to resist the spell and did not suffer any modification to their bodies and their powers. Unfortunately, for the rest of the population, the spell turned into a curse. The vast majority of the Eldars were massively drained of their magic and lifeforce, which were adsorbed by the spell and transferred to the magic elite while they were turning into Grey Dragons.
“What was worse, the fallen Eldars were turned into a score of distinct new races, unable to reproduce again with the surviving Eldars and all provided with a shorter lifespan and lesser magic than the previous Eldar form. And this is how the elves, among others, were created on Mystara.
“The spell was so powerful that it did not stop at the planar boundaries of our universe: it sought after Eldars wherever they were found into the Multiverse, and instantly turned most of them into someone - or something - else.
“And this catastrophe was what became known as the Eldar Split.”
“This Split did not just create Grey Dragons and elves, other races were created as well: all drake forms - mandrakes, woodrakes, coldrakes, and elemental drakes - spawned from the magical backlash as some kind of intermediate breed between Eldars, elves, dragons and other races.
“It is believed that at least some of the drakes’ species came from those among the faerie folks who were more attuned with the Eldars21. The so-called elemental drakes might derive from Eldars who changed their bodies to live in their colonies in the Elemental Planes.
“With respect to the non-elemental breeds of drakes a hsiao sage called Tyrk-tyrk-Hsuu22 found strong evidence that mandrakes, woodrakes and coldrakes come from an unique, ancestral shapeshifting race which differentiated shortly after the Great Rain of Fire. If this should ever be confirmed, this differentiation should be considered as another part of the curse cast on the Eldars following the Split.
“Those among the Eldars who managed to survive the Great Split untouched were, maybe, those more balanced in magic and more attuned to Mystara’s natural forces. However, they were scattered throughout the Eldar kingdoms and the Planes, their numbers too few to keep their civilization working. Slowly, they tried to regroup and establish sanctuaries at least in key locations of their culture, but large distances and turmoil caused by the newly created elves, dragons and drakes prevented most of their efforts from succeeding.
“On the dragons’ side, it is currently unknown if related races such as wyverns, dragonflies23, thunderheads24, dragon turtles, dragonnes25, pocket dragons26 and mythical creatures like the flapsails27 were created during the Split. I believe it is likely that most of them have other origins as the dragon race is among the oldest of the Multiverse.“
“This is incorrect. You know very well the lesser dragon forms were created in the Draconic Cluster28 and sent as servants and counselors for true dragons. Even if the other races believe such kin are nothing but wild, runaway creatures the lesser dragons will always obey commands from a true dragon. Or, at least, they better ought to obey!” Again, Laicanar dared interrupt the speech of Taerentym to state his personal opinion. He glared at the audience as if to challenge anyone to to deny what was commonly held among dragons as a well established fact of nature. No one replied, even if some discomfort could be perceived in the canopy hosting the guest elves, which were starting to realize that Taerentym’s speech was going to disclose very bad news about the origins of their race.
“Well Laicanar, yes, I concede that my last sentence is somewhat a speculation. Too few among the wise dare spending some time with the lesser draconic forms to learn more about their origins - at least if they wish to come back with their lives. True dragons, on the other part, do not care very much on the history and the opinions of what they perceive just as their servants, am I right?”
The Aftermath of the Split and the rise of the Abelaats
“But let’s go back to some of the social consequences of the Split.
“Most of the newborn Grey Dragons did not feel obliged to care about the new races: unchanged Eldars could be helped, for sure, but most of the strange beings spawned from the Split were clearly doomed to extinction within a few generations so, why waste efforts and allocate part of the available limited resources to them?
“Many Grey Dragons just decided to selfishly ignore such interrogatives and fled away from the crumbling Kingdoms, eager to use their new powers to explore Mystara and the other worlds on par with the other dragon breeds. They established their own lairs in far away wilderness abodes never to be heard anymore, worsening the lack of powerful spellcasters in the aftermath of the Split, and hasting the decadence of the same Kingdoms they came from.
“And, from their new lairs, they mixed with the rest of dragon society, mating with the chromatics and spawning a mixed lineage.
“The Eldar spell was indeed the finest magical creation of their race, for a grey dragon was able to mate with every possible kind of chromatic dragon and have healthy descendants by them. But something odd happened to the offspring: every time the eggs laid by a grey and chromatic couple hatched, newborns were much more similar to the chromatic parent than to the grey one. It is now widely believed this was part of the curse the Immortals cast on the Eldars, to slowly remove the grey race from the number of the dragons, while it seems that mixing with the greys indeed enhanced intelligence and magical abilities of most of the chromatics29.
“After ten thousand years - just a few generations in dragons’ terms - the greys as a separate breed were no more. Just a few “pure” members were left, one of the last of them being the mortal form of the current patron of the dragons of Mystara, the Immortal commonly known as the Great One30.”
“This is utter nonsense!” roared Laicanar amid the discomforted silence of the audience which followed Taerentym’s revelations. “Dragons are a pure race, current dragons are not and cannot be the result of a mixing with inferior blood. Assuming they existed at all, those “greys” were not true dragons and they should have been exterminated on sight by any real dragon worthy of its secret name!”
“That’s right! And what you spoke about the Great One being one of such impure beings during His revered mortal life is nothing short of blasphemy! Our Canon is adamant in explaining that the Old One was born with the grey scales which were his early and revered symbol of kingship among dragons! What you are telling us are nothing but ignominious conjectures.” This cold speech came from Mar-Hillaeth an exotic young blue dragon from the burning sands of the internal Forlorn Lands31, very pious and proud of her faith in the Great One.
Before a flaming debate on the real nature of dragons and of the Great One could be started, Taerentym’s surprisingly loud voice stood above the bustle of the audience. A spell was likely used by the venerable sage to produce this effect, which managed to silence the hall.
“Please! Please! You could check every single word, I repeat, every single word of my speech here in Windreach, by looking at the Academy Library, or at the Grand Temple of the Great One, or even at the Annals of Draconic Generations. You could also ask it to two or three sages currently in the city. My assistants Clevix, Bonnath and Merjelle will be more than happy to provide you with the needed references on request. But now, please let me continue my exposition.
“On this matter I’d like also to point out that Laicanar’s reaction is not different from what many of his draconic ancestors felt when the greys started mixing with their kin. Incidents happened and many greys were killed or treated as outcasts by their fellow chromatic breeds. But, in the end, assimilation prevailed and now the grey’s heritage is visible in most of the draconic line - and, I must say, in all of the most gifted individuals like Laicanar and Mar-Hillaeth.
“So, let’s go back to the chaos befalling the Eldar Kingdoms. Extraplanar colonies were immediately lost, while most of the faeries - out of fear of further metamorphoses - took refuge in the wilderness surrounding the Eldar Kingdoms and refused to help the surviving Eldars.
“The newborn elves, deprived of most of their former magic, abandoned by most of their former leaders now turned into greys and afflicted with a halved lifespan with respect to their previous form, suffered the greatest cultural shock. Within a couple of generations all the elves living in secluded areas, or just too far from other patches of civilization, had reverted to barbarism and primitive lifestyle32.
“Things went slightly better where helpful Eldars and grey dragons could still be found. Out of honor, pity and guilt those people managed to establish petty nations, ruled by themselves and populated by elves and drakes, where the ancient traditions of the Eldars were kept and observed, albeit with a lesser and lesser interest and belief as the whole population - “nobles” and “peasants” alike - realized that it was now impossible to return to their former glory.
“Within two mere elvish generations after the fall - seven centuries of mortal time - what was left of the mighty Eldar Kingdoms was but a vast wilderness populated by barbaric elves and decadent small dominions populated by frustrated commoners and ruled by a tired and discouraged aristocracy.
“And this is when the Abelaats33 came to Mystara.”
Pacts with the Abelaats
“One of the side effects of the fall of the Eldars was that Mystara became free game for other beings, extraplanar creatures who were met by the Eldars during their golden age and which were kept at bay by their great powers.
“When it became clear that the Eldar power was now broken, some of these beings decided the time was right to reach Mystara and prey upon the great resources it harbored. One of the most insidious menaces came from an entire living world, an extraplanar maze of tunnels inhabited by the Abelaats34.
The Abelaat Colonization
“The Abelaats of ancient times were themselves highly magical beings, said to be among the fairest humanoids to have ever reached Mystara. Their own world was shaped like a network of blood vessels, and the blood flowing into abelaats’ veins was indeed the source of their powers.
“Some scholars speculate that they were some kind of vampires as they had the habit to suck the blood of humanoids, including other abelaats. As their entire magic system was based upon solidified drops of blood, I believe that this strange inclination was nothing but a way to extract magic from themselves but, as abelaats are now an extinct race35, we’ll never know for sure.
“The abelaats built many extraplanar bridges connecting Mystara with their home world and crossed them in great numbers36. Even if they did not suffer any hindrance while staying on open ground, abelaats on Mystara preferred building subterranean cities and villages, as they were more reminiscent of the endless network of tunnels and caves their entire world was made of.
“Abelaats’ main colonies were built on a neglected large island offshore the coast of Davania, a former Eldar colony named Lhomarr37 which at that time was mostly populated by fragmented tribes of wild elves. From these colonies small groups of abelaats moved on the continents, to live among the other intelligent races of Mystara, offering knowledge, lore and magical powers, seemingly in exchange for nothing.
“Barbaric elves, especially those on Lhomarr, became fascinated by the tokens the abelaats provided in exchange for permission to settle part of their land, or for the promise to end a feud with another tribe, or for teaching young elves science, art and magic.
“The tokens usually had the shapes of solidified drops of abelaats’ blood, and were highly magical in nature. They could easily increase the number of spells a magic user could remember every day, emulate some much needed clerical powers by directly communing with the abelaats home plane, or they could easily be cast into jewelry pieces to radiate some permanent magical effect on the wielder or their surroundings.
“The tokens were very versatile and extremely easy to use and - as the abelaats never imbued explicitly evil or offensive powers into them - they also were pretty safe to be handled.
“In short, abelaats’ teachings and instruments were less refined but a lot easier to understand than the ancient, weighty Eldar lore and so the elves became eager to adopt and use anything the abelaats would deign to gift them. As living conditions of every clan who received the abelaats in their land improved greatly in a very short time, the abelaats soon became welcome everywhere among the elves.
“The same happened to primitive dwarves. At that ancient time dwarves were still an underground race38, hailing from the very mountain ranges and hills of Norwold we are inhabiting now39. They came to appreciate the abelaats so much - likely because they shared the same subterranean habitat - that they established proper alliances wherever distances made it possible. The abelaats helped dwarves enlarge their cities, enrich their food stocks and, possibly, they also started a complex magical procedure involving the extraplanar haephestons that would have enabled the dwarves to live above ground after a few millennia40.
“The other intelligent races of Mystara were indifferent or benign toward the abelaats’ intervention into Mystara’s affairs. In particular, surviving Eldars and dragons were treated with great respect by the abelaats, who appeared to them as fond admirers of Eldar culture, really wishing to help Mystara to find a new greatness.
“Abelaats respectfully avoided trading and interfering with places and peoples where dragons and Eldars still acted as patrons. The most notable of such enclaves was a large forest along the northern mid-latitudes centered on a decadent elvish town called Ringlo Hall, established and governed by Eldars and dragons over an earlier Eldar settlement41. The abelaats, curious about a nearby wild magic source guarded by dragons42, settled within the Genander elvish clan43, just outside the borders of Ringlo Hall territory, which they never crossed if not invited to do so.
“Following this and other examples most Eldars and dragons became persuaded of the abelaats’ good intents and gladly left to them the burden of civilizing the barbaric elves.”
“This is rather hard to believe,” the quiet, sober voice of Ellethior echoed in the room. “No dragon, irrespective of its personal opinions, would recant their duties toward the ‘inferior’ elves once such vows are taken.” Ellethior was the young leader of the Chosen of Vanya44, a relatively new group inside the Wyrmsteeth dragons who took very seriously their oaths. Laicanar, usually a vocal opponent of the Chosen, seemed to approve of Ellethior’s interruption of Taerentym’s speech.
“Elves were not exactly abandoned by Eldars and dragons to be entrusted to the abelaats.” Came the quick reply by Taerentym. “No duty was neglected and no vow was broken. All patron races still exerted their benign influence on the barbaric clans; Eldars and dragons did not stop visiting elvish tribes providing teachings and guidance when needed. It seems they just accepted the much needed help from the abelaats which took over for themselves much of the burden where Eldars and dragons could not spare enough leaders, such as on the island of Lhomarr. But please, let me continue the story and, before the end, everything will be clear to you.
The High Elves
“The golden age of the abelaats lasted for seven elvish generations, approximately two thousands and a half mortal years. The civilized parts of Mystara were mostly in peace and, to an external observer, all the intelligent races prospered and grew in numbers, although part of this development was plagued by decadence.
“Those elves still under the direct tutelage of Eldars and dragons stabilized their culture in what could be somewhat defined as a mockery of the ancient Eldar traditions: they appeared as progressive, cultivated people very respectful of an ancient and rigid set of regulations which they neither contributed to building, nor fully understood the founding reasons of.
“Their culture was most sterile, albeit dissent was growing in small groups of young elves who started spending more and more time in the woods, to become elves of the wilderness, a compromise between ceremony and barbarism45.
“Elves living with the abelaats developed a new grand civilization of their own, and became known as the High Elves. Although they did not manage to reach the heights of the fallen Eldars, the High Elves indeed built a living culture on the ashes of the fall of their ancestors. They lived and traded with the abelaats, on the island of Lhomarr and in other enlightened places all over Mystara. Music, dance, poetry, magic and all kind of sublime arts were practiced and fondly followed among the High Elves46. Thanks to magic and the knowledge of medicine their lifespan soon became very long, possibly spanning more than a millennium; and with the help of the abelaats exploration of the Outer Planes of Existence resumed.
“According to legends, the peak of the High Elves/abelaat civilization on Mystara was reached when the Immortals themselves showed up and selected the High Elves’ queen Amberiel and the abelaat First Witch Belotra the Beautiful to become the keepers of the mystic Sigil of the Cup, one of the Seven Sigils guarding the extraplanar prison of the dreaded Carnifex47 48.
“Amberiel and Belotra the Beautiful moved to the faraway Plane of Existence of the Green Realm, along with a retinue of their worthiest servants, to live forever in the castle of Caer Amberiel fulfilling this most honorable duty49.
The Dark Elves
“Nevertheless, this great honour apparently was not enough. Among the High Elves there were also those looking for a greater integration with their patrons, out of friendship or out of the mere search for more wealth and magical power.
“Over the centuries many among those ambitious individuals agreed on a wicked pact with the abelaats to become more similar to their extraplanar allies. And this is how the feared, brilliant and unpredictable Dark Elves were born50.
“This final pact required the High Elves who embraced it to share the same blood with the abelaats. In this way the elves further increased their intelligence, lifespan and magical powers, at the expense of major changes in their appearance and behaviour.
“Their skin became black as night and they acquired a love for cold and subterranean environments, rarely going on the surface during daylight. They also obtained a natural understanding of the currents of life and death; although at first they could not reproduce they soon learned how to bind an errant soul in a new body to create an offspring51. Dark Elves excelled in arcane fields of study like necromancy, magic related to cold, magical metalcraft, planar travel, and, especially, life-binding rituals52. It is speculated that most of the current magical art used to create an intelligent weapon was brought to the world by Dark Elves’ research.
“It is widely believed among sages that Dark Elves have always been few in number, as the abelaats were very discerning about who was eligible for their "gift" and due to the very difficult procedure needed to create new children. However few, since their creation and almost until their demise, the Dark Elves became the ruling honoured elite of the High Elves and were taken in high respect by most of the other intelligent races - common elves, Eldars, dragons, ancient dwarves and abelaats.
“In particular, some sages speculate that groups of ancient dwarves became so fascinated with the Dark Elves’ ritual they persuaded the abelaats in establishing a similar procedure also for them. The rites the abelaats used for dwarves were simpler and somewhat diminished with respect to what they used to create the Dark Elves. Nevertheless they succeeded in creating the so-called Shadow Dwarves53.
“Ironically, Shadow Dwarves could freely reproduce as an independent race and so, within a dwarvish generation, instead of becoming the leaders the common dwarves expected them to be, the Shadow Dwarves banded together in a unique clan and exploited a set of deep tunnels to cross the sea south of their ancestral lands, moving under the glaciers54 which then covered the Kerothar Mountains.”
The fraud is unveiled
“But this golden age cannot last, because no one gives anything for free. All the lore and guidance and services provided by the abelaats came with an unknown price, a price the abelaats themselves started collecting since their very first day on Mystara.
“The very extraplanar gates the abelaats used to reach our world acted also as drain channels from which Mystara’s magical energy was transferred to the abelaats’ home plane55. This magic was used to create new abelaats and power the very living structure their original world was made of. Some scholars speculate the abelaats’ home world was actually some sort of extraplanar parasite feeding on the magic of other worlds of the Prime Plane56.
“At the beginning the loss of magic was subtle and very slow but, over centuries, it turned into an unstoppable flow as the numbers of abelaat colonists and connecting tunnels increased without control. Even then, the amount of magic on Mystara was so great that magical races perceived this loss only after 2500 years of abelaat colonization and, by that time, it was way too late to intervene.
“The Dark Elves were well aware of the drainage mechanism, but they did not reveal the scam to the other races, because of their friendship with the abelaats - to which they thought they were more similar with respect to the High Elves - and because of the ill-fated intervention of the Entropic Immortals. Dark Elves meddling with necromancy and life-binding magic soon drew the attention of many powerful evil beings, who managed to corrupt the elite and exchange their guilty silence for more arcane powers.
“As most of the greatest magic was now the prerogative of the abelaats and the dark elves, both of which were clearly unaffected by the magical drainage, it was easy for them to persuade the other races - especially dragons - that the increasing magical weakness they were perceiving was nothing but their own fault, due to the lack of commitment and dedication to the study of arcane power. On occasion, to divert too inquisitive minds from discovering the truth, the abelaats changed the magical flow direction of one or more extraplanar bridges over a specified area for a given amount of years, to give the impression that everything was right and no actual drainage was in place.
“Moreover, entropic intervention managed to conceal for most of the time the real situation to the other Immortals. They managed to silence every desperate lament coming from Mystara itself - in the form of the living megalith Urt and its retinue of druids57, whose calls went unheeded for centuries.
“For a time the brute-men were used by Urt in a desperate attempt to warn the other races of their impending doom. The brute-men were partially successful in persuading the ancient dwarves58 - but not the shadow dwarves - who distanced themselves from the abelaats and suspended most of their alliances with them. Nevertheless the brute-men soon found themselves persecuted by the abelaats on the false charge of inciting hatred between the races. As a punishment they were exiled and scattered to the inhospitable areas of Mystara, where the ice was receding from the last glaciation59. There the harsh environment greatly reduced their numbers in just a few generations60.
“And finally the unavoidable truth was unveiled: the magical field of Mystara became so low that all magical races such as fey people, dragons, Eldars and the High Elves became ill and weak. None but the most gifted individuals were able to reproduce or to access arcane spells61. And then both the abelaats and the Dark Elves showed their true nature: their intent was to drain every single drop of magical energy from Mystara, leading all the other magical races to extinction62.
The War of the Gates
“Out of desperation, the High Elves bitterly expelled the abelaats and the Dark Elves from their society and tried to build up a coalition with dragons, common elves, fey people and other intelligent races to wage war on the evil alliance and counter the terrible menace to their survival. This war became known as the War of the Gates, a major conflict mostly forgotten by all but the dragons63.
“Unfortunately, this war started very bad for the High Elves’ coalition. The ancient dwarves expelled all the abelaats and dark elves from their lands, but then declared themselves neutral64 and spent the rest of the war facing the piratical incursions of the Shadow Dwarves. As per the other allies, those powerful historical masters of Mystara, they all were too much dependant on magic, and their weakened status was no match for the combined powers of abelaats and Dark Elves, which instead had the almost unlimited supply of Mystara’s arcane power to draw stored on the abelaats’ home plane.
“The High Elves coalition found early in the war they could use the same extraplanar bridges of the abelaats to reverse the flow of magic and bring it back to Mystara. After the first successful surprise attacks on such strategic positions the evil alliance regrouped around the bridges and fortified them, turning the conflict into a long set of sieges. An so, despite many bloody battles and assaults, the weakened High Elves and dragons were not able to fully displace the enemy out of the lands they occupied.
“What was worse, the whole island of Lhomarr - fully evacuated by the High Elves early in the war - became an unassailable fortress from which the evil alliance orchestrated its retaliation campaigns over the continents.
“Abelaats and Dark Elves were well aware that time was on their side: as they firmly held the bridges, the drainage of magic - aided by brute force where necessary - would have led to the extinction of all the magical races of Mystara within just three or four elvish generations.
The rise of the Humans
“And then something really unexpected turned the course of the war. Shortly after the exile of the brute-men, from the very regions the brute-men were confined into65, members of a new humanoid people emerged on Mystara. Those were the humans, a race we all know much too well.
“Who created the humans is currently unknown, as the Immortals do not answer to such a question.
“There are some who speculate they were nothing but a neglected, different breed of brute-men, displaced by their cousins when they were exiled by the abelaats.
“Others endorse the theory the humans were shaped by a large group of Immortals, none of which could consider itself the true creator of this race66. That would explain their silence when asked about this subject.
“Finally, another group of scholars believe the humans were created by Mystara - by the megalith Urt itself - as some kind of self-defense mechanism to remove the abelaats’ menace and take back its own magic67.
“For humans were really the abelaats’ scourge68. They hated the abelaats at first sight and attacked their settlements wherever they found them, killing every abelaat they were able to find. Abelaats and their allies of course retaliated - at first using other races like garls as proxies69 - but soon they discovered the humans were impossible to eradicate.
“Human were not so dependent on magic and their lives were much shorter than those of elves, dragons, abelaats and fey people. Some humans could also quickly understand and learn powerful magic, if given the opportunity, although this was not the distinctive feature of their race. Their strongest points were their greater intelligence and adaptability compared to brute-men and the fact that they were fast-breeders.”
“How fast-breeding could be considered an advantage?” Old Claemetyl of Deepwood finally interrupted the gloomy silence that fell on the canopy of the elves since the beginning of Taerentym’s speech. “We all know very well the overpopulation issues the humans and humanoids periodically face, and their inability to find a proper solution to them. Such early humans would surely have been exterminated by a highly magical race like those abelaats you are talking about. Moreover the ideal rate of reproduction cannot be very much different from those of elves, dragons, dwarves, Eldars and other intelligent races, as it was tested over endless millennia, even when your imaginative story about our origins is considered.”
The nearby elven representatives seemed somewhat reassured in listening that their most distinguished member did not fully endorse the theories of the old Eldar.
“Venerable Claemetyl, the abelaats existed and invaded Mystara and elves were created by the fall of the Eldars, both of those are facts. About the fast-breeding humans, luckily proof of what I say is available here in the Academy Library. In fact, from her vantage point on a steep hillock, the treant Alidid the Meticulous followed five centuries of assaults to the abelaat stronghold of the Rock of Cerrtan. She carefully inscribed on her own bark a detailed account of participants and losses, so we could extrapolate her numbers to get a figure of the whole war.
“Just think about how, in the present time, elves or dragons usually wage war. The High Elves and their allies, and the abelaats and their allies, were not so much different in that.
“Any major, organized attack by the High Elves on an abelaat stronghold and the following retaliation by the enemy could have been possible, on average, once every forty or fifty mortal years70, giving time to both parties to replenish their numbers and train new recruits. In most cases such operations were distanced by seventy years or more. In the same timespan the primitive humans could double or triple their numbers, thanks to their higher reproduction rate.
“A human tribe could lead a large attack on the abelaat strongpoint, suffer their retaliation and then come back with the same numbers within thirty years71 and without asking for any assistance from nearby tribes. And, of course, the High Elves and their allies helped whenever they could.
“The abelaats and the Dark Elves could not simply withstand such rates of conflict. Their numbers dwindled and they were forced to abandon more and more strongholds, which were then secured by the High Elves and the dragons. Magic began to flow back to Mystara and the races who were dependent upon it were spared from extinction.
“And so, even if the humans started as scattered, uncivilized tribes living on the fringe of the habitable lands, within a millennium they spread over large areas of the world, exterminating the abelaats by virtue of this war of attrition. I believe the humans were never fully aware they were fighting a war, for its timescale was too big for them to be easily grasped. Moreover, for most of the time every human tribe acted independently; coalitions formed only where the enemy forces were greater or when some representative of the High Elves coalition managed to appeal successfully to a group of human tribes. More often than not the human tribes waged war on each other in their own petty struggles.
“I think the humans interpreted the whole matter as just a progressive settling of new lands, concurrent with the extermination of an instinctively hated race which occupied the most sought after territories. Apparently, all attempts by the High Elves and their allies to better explain the situation to the humans and to completely enlist them as full allies were never properly understood by them.
“It is to be said that humans were strangely attracted by lands where the abelaats had their largest concentration. Whether this was just out of similar preferences in terms of habitat or out of some mystical command they followed no one could tell. Sages concur that at least in one circumstance the humans acted with an unexpected coordination, as if they were guided by some authority giving them sort of subconscious messages. This happened at the time of the final assault on the island of Lhomarr.
The end of the war and the Exile
“The assault happened some four centuries into the war, following a full century of buildup. By that time the evil alliance had already abandoned all its outposts on the continents and, except for a few scattered individuals, all the abelaats and Dark Elves were entrenched in Lhomarr. The High Elves coalition was slowly recovering its magic but it lost half of its most powerful members since the beginning of the war, so they did not plan any effective invasion of the island in the short term.
“The humans took the coalition by surprise. Suddenly, everywhere on Mystara, most of the human tribes left their recently-conquered lands, joined with other moving tribes and formed endless columns that migrated by land and sea to a very specific coastline territory in central Skothar, just across from Lhomarr72.
“These tribes were led by improvised charismatic leaders of all possible descents, who proclaimed to the masses that the humans were going to claim their prize. When asked in more detail by the High Elves these leaders were not able to explain what exactly this prize was, but their followers seemed content with these vague explanations and showed an unexpected unity of purpose in this migration.
“Within three human generations a huge population had reached their destination on the shore. Maybe as much as one-third of all the humans living at that time on Mystara were gathered there73. A koiné language soon was adopted among the various different tribes to understand each other74 and, in the end, a new people were born by the intensive inter-breeding of the clans. By the third generation prophets and other visionaries appeared among the people of the shore, talking about the fundamental need to cross the sea and get rid of the abelaats once and for all. To always remind their people of their unfinished task the prophets used to address themselves as “Lhomarrians”.
“The evil alliance suspected some occult force was behind this gathering and tried to disperse the humans by deceiving several powerful tribes of the Tanagoro stock into attacking them and starting a long-lasting feud75. The abelaats’ attempt was partially successful in that it pinned down part of the Lhomarrians for a couple of centuries, but it was not enough to stop the inevitable human invasion.
“Hopping across the island chain, which at the time separated the coast from Lhomarr, most of the humans reached the island’s shore as a tidal wave, giving no quarter to its inhabitants and relying on their numbers to best the superior magic of the evil alliance. With the help of a High Elves expeditionary force, within one of their generations the humans were firmly in control of part of the island, conquered through bloody battles that decimated the humans and undermined abelaats’ supremacy.
“The abelaats tried many times to reconquer the lands they lost but the humans were always able to repel them and thrive in the lands they considered the prize they deserved. Moreover, reinforcements arrived when the Lhomarrians on Skothar managed to disengage from the Tanagoro and were able to reach the island.
“Finally, the reversal of magical energy through the captured gates was so great that now the abelaats’ home plane was losing its own magic to the benefit of Mystara76. New abelaats became increasingly difficult to create and all abelaat activities on Mystara and on their own home plane slowed down.
“Less than two human generations after the conquest of the bridgehead the invaders’ numbers were again at their original level, so the invasion resumed. Adopting the same tactic used on the continents on a larger scale, the humans waged major wars once every 15 years, switching to once every 5 years in the final part of the conflict, helped in this by another High Elves expeditionary force. The evil alliance was not able to withstand such pressure and utterly collapsed within three centuries since the landfall of the first humans on Lhomarr. Before the final assault on their last stronghold the last few hundreds of Dark Elves dissolved their alliance with the abelaats and most of them escaped to another Plane of Existence they called Svartalfheim77. A few were left dispersed on Mystara and retreated to faraway places, avoiding capture, and losing much of their powers, eventually to become the ancestors of Mystara’s dark elves78.
“The abelaats held out against the invaders until they lost the last of the extraplanar bridges under their control. Facing extermination they used their residual magic to morph their aspect and look like humans so they could disperse on Mystara and live low profile lives among their persecutors.
“The abelaats also cast a powerful curse79 over all the humans currently living on Lhomarr and on the land itself: the humans’ reign and the land they conquered would not last more than the time elapsed between the landfall and the departure of the abelaats from Lhomarr80.
“Finally, the last abelaats’ leaders in disguise fled from the island, bringing with them the abaton81, a manifold, powerful magical device meant to establish another magical portal with their home world where and when the circumstances would allow for it.
“Unfortunately, all these actions were not sufficient to save them, as in the following centuries and millennia humans throughout the world hunted the abelaats down, discovering their real identities and exterminating them to the last being. We currently believe no abelaat still exists in the world82, even if some scholar believe that, thanks to their disguise, many abelaats managed to mix their blood with that of the humans83. Maybe vampirism, so common among humans, is some kind of undead disease related to abelaat’s blood, who knows84.
“During these persecutions the abaton was captured by an unknown human group. The magical device proved impossible to be destroyed with common and magical methods85, so the humans placed a curse on it. Any abelaat trying to cross the magical bridge created by the abaton would have had its body and mind utterly warped by the passage, impairing the intelligence, powers and exterior appearance of the creature. In particular, their bodies would become easily noticeable by any observer, and they would not be able to reproduce with humans anymore86.
“After many vicissitudes, it is now stored in the Museum of High Magic here in Windreach, not to be a threat to Mystara anymore.
“And this is where humans and abelaats leave our story.
“After the great war the High Elves felt they were not worthy anymore of their guidance role among the elves, for they had been too easily deceived by the abelaats and had traded the very magic of Mystara to get their own wisdom, power and wealth. Moreover the Dark Elves, their own former leaders, were still alive and eager to avenge their defeat by the hands of the coalition led by the High Elves. This could have exposed Mystara to other disastrous high-magic wars in the future.
“So, for all these reasons the High Elves took a sad but necessary decision and abandoned Mystara by resettling in an external home plane they called Alfheim87. From there they provided a distant assistance to elves in times of need and continued their bitter rivalry with the Dark Elves, trying to prevent them from further harming the people of Mystara.
“In order to reduce the unavoidable cultural shock descending from their departure, the High Elves used their own magic to place some kind of “blurring” of their own memories in the minds of all the intelligent beings living on Mystara at that time. They also concealed or brought with them most of the documents and evidences of their former presence on our world.
“The effect of their actions was that, right after their departure, the High Elves were remembered as an ancient, mythical race of a distant past, not properly connected to current events. Some elvish clans came to believe they were some kind of benevolent ancestors88, others thought the High Elves ascended to superior Planes to become the servants of the Immortals89. Even the High Elves’ coalition with common elves and dragons, and the whole war with the abelaats, became somewhat confused in the minds of the Mystarans90.
Mystara at the end of the War of the Gates
Ordana’s New Awakening
“And this, of course, while removing most of the suffering caused by the bloody battles of the War of the Gates, was not of much help for the common elves. Again, they were mostly left to themselves, with their blurred memories and without guidance. The only exceptions were the preserves - the few spared by the long war - where dragons and Eldars still cared to continue the meaningless traditions of the ancient Eldar Kingdoms, usually because they needed the elves to act as guardians of old Eldar relics or other places of interest to them91.
“Over the war many elvish tribes were cut off by their High Elf leaders and, again, they turned to barbarism to survive, tightening their bonds with nearby human and demi-human tribes.
“Before this new wave of barbarism could hit the bulk of the elvish culture the Immortal Ordana gathered as many elvish clans as possible92 on a secluded island called Evergrun, just offshore of the southern continent. There the spirits of nature passed the teachings of Ordana to the elves and provided them with their first stable culture - the Way of the Forest, the heritage now shared by most of the elvish clans throughout the world. Evergrun became a quiet, peaceful and isolated place where, for fifteen generations93, the elves were finally able to evolve into an autonomous race.
“The rest is history known to everybody94. Six thousands years ago the elves of Evergun were allowed to leave their island and established a mighty empire on the southern continent. There they met the men of Blackmoor, embraced their wicked technology and shared a similar fate during the Great Rain of Fire. Survivors from the nearby land of Grunland returned to the Way of the Forest and left the ruins of their former empire, again to disperse all over the world, as if the ancient curse cast by the Immortals on the Eldars still did not accomplish all of its goals.
“And this is the end of this humble Vicennial Lecture. I am nothing but an old and decrepit Eldar, and I despair I’ll manage to provide you the next Lecture within my lifetime. You surely noticed I did not limit the subject of this exposition to elves and so now you know some more truth about dragons, abelaats, humans, dwarves and other races.
“This is my gift to all of you, new knowledge for you to meditate upon and to use wisely in your relationship with the other inhabitants of Mystara. Now you know your lineage and your place in the world. It is up to you to accept it or to try to improve it with your skills and intelligence. As I told you my assistants Clevix, Bonnath and Merjelle will provide you guidance in finding references and proof of what I said in the libraries, temples and museums of Windreach.
“With this, my beloved students, and with my blessing for the future, I greet you!”
“Acceptance? Master Taerentym, there may never be acceptance to what you said about dragons’ place in this world …“ Laicanar’s outraged voice overcame the increasingly loud chatting coming from the audience. Some elves looked shocked, while Claemetyl was busy performing a nervous tirade over a group of mixed drakes who were asking if there ever was a confirmation of Taerentym’s words in the Heimsleidh95. Ellethior’s voice was also discernible amidst a group of Eldars, who were defending themselves against accusations of hiding precious information about their past and maintaining a pretence of help and friendship towards the dragons. One hundred guests, one hundred shaken souls.
With a serene smile on his face, Taerentym disappeared into a glimmering mist from the pedestal of basalt.
Taerentym materialized in his personal rooms on top of the Spire of Scholars, the tallest tower of the Academy of Dragons. There the features of his face slowly melted, leaving nothing but the black silhouette of his head. He also dropped the long embroidered vest of his scholar status revealing a pure-white kilt and a pair of equally white vambraces over a body seemingly made of black energy96.
The dark figure looked at the drugged body of the real Taerentym, sleeping in his bed in his night dress, his notes on the original subject of the lesson “The Grand Alliance of the Wyrmsteeth races” burning in the fireplace. Once awake, he would not remember anything of the last two days, adding his confusion to the chaos and quarreling unleashed by the careless speech the dark being just administered to the distinguished audience.
As a humble servant of Alphaks, the Black King97 - that was the name of the silhouette - was very satisfied with his deeds. The Sphere of Entropy likes to play the other Spheres off against one another with a minimal effort, the more so if this is possible by telling just the absolute truth.
For the sake of honor, dignity and decency - all mortal concepts mocked by the Immortal masters served by the Black King - too many races concealed part of their past: the embarrassing one, where humble origins, selfish compromises and mixed blood contributed to the perceived “greatness” of the present. And this represented a very fertile soil on which Entropy could seed dissent.
With a bit of luck - pondered the Black King - his speech, delivered at such a critical time for the events of this part of the world, would have been full of consequences, helping the side of Entropy in the great war that undoubtedly would have broken out in a few years98. The predictable quarreling about origins, alliances, lineages - and the associated mistrust and contempt among races - would split the people of Norwold. Dragons, Eldars, and common elves were now prevented from forming alliances99 - among themselves and with the humans and dwarves - and they would fight the war as separate forces.
His assistant Clevix was in charge of helping in this process by providing the bewildered Great Hall’s audience with the most compelling evidence supporting Taerentym’s statements - after all Clevix did much of the hardest research work. The evidence, formerly hidden here and there on Windreach, would soon be brought back - in elegant copies of the finest parchment. The various sages from each of the communities in Norwold and elsewhere, would soon be spreading scepticism and distrust.
Moreover Laicanar, another of the Black King’s faithful servants, had the task of fostering further dissent among dragons, trying to instill in those proud minds a discrimination between “pure” and “tainted” breeds. If successful, this discrimination would isolate the most magically-gifted individuals and break up the group of the Chosen of Vanya of Ellethior. This company of dragons absolutely must be removed from Vanya’s commands in the impending conflict100: it was definitely in the best interests of Entropy to disband it.
Finally Teryl Auroch101, the Black King’s own son, was disguised among the audience as a distinguished common elf from a faraway community of central Brun that no one had heard of before. His task was to steal the abaton in the following days, placing this puzzle-box artifact102 in the heart of the lands of the humans103. From there the drainage of magic would start anew and, with the help of the Entropic powers, the abelaats would finally obtain satisfaction on their nemesis.
The Black King allowed himself to remember the course of the events leading to his own presence there104. Unknowingly to all, his wife the Black Queen - an accomplished witch already devoted to Alphaks and with more than a drop of abelaat’s blood in her - succeeded in briefly activating the abaton many decades ago. She carefully transferred a spill of Mystara’s magical energy back to the external Plane of the abelaats and managed to reach this Plane with her own physical form105.
With the stolen energy she awoke one of the most powerful abelaats still slumbering on this paralyzed Plane both of them came back to Mystara, but not before she became pregnant. The passage acted on their bodies and changed them into black silhouettes106, but thanks to their great intelligence and magical powers they did not suffer other consequences. On Mystara they joined Alphaks’ forces and became the Lords of his agents on Mystara. In return for their service Alphaks blessed Teryl, their only son, with an unblemished human appearance, to be the instrument chosen for the abelaats’ revenge107.
Nighttime was coming. The Black King moved to the terrace of Taerentym’s bedroom, awaiting for Laicanar to fetch him outside of Windreach. The King needed a meticulous report from the dragon about the audience’s reactions, to plan the next moves for the maximum damage to the cause of life on Mystara.
Appendix: Timeline of the events described in this article
Note: Most events related to CM6 module are shifted some 700 years earlier with respect to what is stated in the following article of mine on the Vaults of Pandius: http://pandius.com/cm6_myst.html . I believe current dates in the following timeline are better placed so they should supersede the old article’s ones.
BC 30000: Beginning of the Eldar civilization
BC 14370: The Eldar Split. Creation of common elves, drakes and grey dragons
BC 13800: First abelaats arrive on Mystara
BC 13700: Abelaats settle on the island of Lhomarr
BC 13200: First High Elves are created from the common elves stock
BC 12700: Banishment of the Carnifex from Mystara (tentative date). Queen Amberiel and Belotra the Beautiful moved to the Green Realm with their retinue
BC 12600: First Dark Elves are created from the High Elves stock
BC 12300: Beginning of the transition from the last ice age to the current warm period
BC 12000: First Shadow Dwarves are created from the ancient common dwarves stock
BC 11600: Shadow Dwarves abandon en-masse the ancient dwarvish lands in current northern Norwold and, moving through a set of deep tunnels, settle below the Kerothar Mountains of the Alphatian continent.
BC 11500: First sightings of large human groups on Mystara (whether they were created now or they just abandoned the barely-habitable lands where they lived so far)
BC 11300: The loss of magic on Mystara is first perceived by the magical races living on it
BC 11050: Early dwarves cuts most of their ties with the abelaats. Exile of the Neanderthals on the fringe of habitable lands
BC 11000: Humans spread over Mystara
BC 10920: Beginning of the War of the Gates. Early dwarves expel the last abelaats from their territory and declares themselves neutral. High Elves and their allies evacuates the island of Lhomarr, which becomes an abelaats’ stronghold
BC 10850: First extraplanar gates captured by the High Elves’ coalition. Magic starts flowing back to Mystara, preventing the extinction of its magical races. In the following decades the war turns into a set of long sieges of abelaats’ extraplanar gates
BC 10800: Events of "In the Beginning" episode of CM6 module
BC 10600: Humans assemble on Skothar coast just across from Lhomarr. Beginning of the Lhomarr-Tanagoro wars
BC 10500: First human attacks on Lhomarr, helped by a High Elves expeditionary force
BC 10400: End of the Lhomarr-Tanagoro wars. Part of the mixed human tribes living on the coast of Skhotar reaches Lhomarr to help their kin against the abelaats
BC 10215: Dark Elves flee from Mystara
BC 10200: End of the War of the Gates. The last magical bridge is conquered by the High Elves alliance. Surviving abelaats in disguise mix with human population bringing with them the abaton. A curse is placed by the abelaats on the isle of Lhomarr and on its human population.
BC 10100: High Elves depart from Mystara for the Plane of Alfheim. They perform a magical blurring of all High Elves memories in the minds of the intelligent beings currently living on Mystara
BC 10000: Ordana gathers most of the common elves of Mystara on the island of Evergrun and nurtures them through the forest spirits
BC 9800: By this time the last ice age is over
BC 8400: Minimum traceable uninterrupted bloodline of the Elves of the Red Woods families (likely there are much longer bloodlines recorded)
BC 7800: Events of "Forge of Power" episode of CM6 module. Early Dwarves surface on Mystara and start living above ground, becoming the Ancient Dwarves
BC 7300: Events of "Bronze and Iron" episode of CM6 module
BC 7022: Fall of the Lhomarrian Empire. The island of Lhomarr sinks into the ocean
BC 5000: End of the infancy of common elves. They are allowed to leave the island of Evergrun and explore the world. Empire of Evergrun established. First Empire of Thonia (likely named as “First Republic of Thonia”) established.
BC 4000: Events of DA1-DA4 series. Uther Andahar’s Great Rebellion led to the independence of the Province of Blackmoor from the Empire of Thonia. Rise of the kingdom of Blackmoor. By this time “pure” grey dragons are very rare on Mystara
BC 3500: Events of "Island of Sorcerers" episode of CM6 module. First meeting between elves of Evergrun and men of Blackmoor
BC 3200: War of the Dragonlord. Exile of the gemstone dragons outside Mystara. The Great One - likely one of the very last “pure” grey dragons - becomes an Immortal
BC 3000: The Great Rain of Fire. Fall of the Empire of Blackmoor and Evergrun. Elves of Evergrun move to Grunland.
AC1 - The Shady Dragon Inn by Carl Smith
AC9 - Creature Catalogue by Graeme Morris, Phil Gallagher, and Jim Bambra
AC10 - Bestiary of Dragons and Giants by Deborah Christian
BECMI Companion Set rules by Frank Mentzer
BECMI Immortal Set rules by Frank Mentzer
BECMI Master Set rules by Frank Mentzer
Blackmoor: First Fantasy Campaign (Judges Guild edition) by Dave Arneson
BoWI - Book of Wondrous Inventions by Bruce Heard
CM1 - Test of the Warlords by Douglas Niles
CM6 - Where Chaos Reigns by Graeme Morris, Jim Bambra and Phil Gallagher
D20 Dave Arneson’s Blackmoor: Campaign Book by Dave Arneson
D20 Dave Arneson’s Blackmoor: The Dungeons of Castle Blackmoor by Dave Arneson
D20 Dave Arneson’s Blackmoor: The First Campaign by Dave Arneson
DA3 - City of the Gods by Dave Arneson and David Ritchie
DotE - Dawn of the Emperors Boxed Set by Aaron Allston
Dragonlord Trilogy books by Thorarinn Gunnarsson
GAZ1 - The Grand Duchy of Karameikos by Aaron Allston
GAZ3 - The Principalities of Glantri by Bruce Heard
GAZ5 - The Elves of Alfheim by Steve Perrin and Anders Swenson
GAZ7 - The Northern Reaches by Ken Rolston and Elizabeth Danforth
GAZ13 - The Shadow Elves by Carl Sargent and Gary Thomas
HW - Hollow World Boxed Set by Aaron Allston
M1 - Into the Maelstrom by Bruce Heard and Beatrice Heard
M2 - Vengeance of Alphaks by Skip Williams
M3 - Twilight Calling by Tom Moldvay
M5 - Talons of Night by Paul Jaquays
Monstrous Compendium: Mystara Appendix
O2 - Blade of Vengeance by Jim Bambra
Original Dungeons and Dragons Book 2: Blackmoor by Dave Arneson
PC1 - Tall Tales of the Wee Folks by John Nephew
PC3 - The Sea People by Jim Bambra
Penhaligon Trilogy books by D.J. Heinrich
PWAII - Poor Wizard’s Almanac II by Ann Dupuis
Rules Cyclopedia by Aaron Allston
Threshold Magazine issue #9
VotPA - Voyage of the Princess Ark by Bruce Heard
WotI - Wrath of the Immortals boxed set by Aaron Allston
[http://bruce-heard.blogspot.it/2012/06/lower-stoutfellow-alphatias-underworld.html, Lower Stoutfellow - Alphatia’s Underworld (by Bruce Heard)]
[http://bruce-heard.blogspot.it/2013/07/Fris03.html, Frisland, the Marquisate of Azafeth (by Bruce Heard)]
[http://bruce-heard.blogspot.it/2013/06/Fris01.html, The Alphatian Province of Frisland (by Bruce Heard)]
[http://bruce-heard.blogspot.it/2013/04/Ar17.html, Ar:Walking with the Wraiths (by Bruce Heard)]
[https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sahuagin , Sahaugin article on Wikipedia]
[http://pandius.com/cm6_myst.html, Adapting CM6 locations to Mystara (by LoZompatore)]
[http://pandius.com/tortles.html, The Truth About the Ancient Tortles’ Frightening Secret (by Bruce Heard)]
[pandius.com/abltinfo.html, Abelaat Information (by LoZompatore)]
[pandius.com/humanorg.html, The Origins of Human Kind (by Sheldon Morris)]
[pandius.com/lore.html, Of the Lore and Legends of Y’hog, City of the Unclean Ones, and of that Race (by Geoff Gander)]
[www.pandius.com/1016amb.html, EVENTS: AMBYRMONT AC 1016]
[www.pandius.com/yhogcarn.html, Y’hog Carnifex (by Geoff Gander)]
[www.pandius.com/lho_hist.html, Lhomarr: The Land, Its People and Their History (by Geoff Gander)]
[www.pandius.com/varellyt.html, Varellyan Timeline (by Geoff Gander)]
1Meteor showers are expected worldwide on 1 Nuwmont according to all calendars listed in the GAZs and PWAs series.
2Refer to the events in Pandius described in Prologue of “WotI: The Immortals ’Fury” supplement.
3For further information see PC3 module “The Sea People” about the creation myth of the Aquarendi.
4Reference here is to the sea dragons (see DM’s book of the Master Set) which may both fly and swim underwater.
5See the Dragonlord Trilogy, Book 2. The very first race was tasked with the so-called Burden of Time. The Eldar believe that Time itself will stop once there is no one left to mark its passage.
6See the Original Dungeons and Dragons Supplement, “Book 2: Blackmoor” , for more details on this. A legends related to the Sahuagin says that in its early times the world was flooded at least once (likely twice) so the Immortals created three amphibian intelligent races: the lawful Aquarendi, the neutral Tritons and the chaotic Shauagin to cope with a further sinking of the continents. We could speculate that such races were created by the Immortals through splitting of the First Race following alignment criteria. Sahaugin could be the same creature described in AC9 and PC3 supplements and named “shark-kin”, given the similar habits, powers and appearance. The editorial story of the Sahaugin (see here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sahuagin) seems to support this. It is even possible that, as many races of sharks exists on Mystara, then there are many races of shark-related humanoids, all of them with different names and with slightly different shapes and histories. So “Sahuagin”, “Sar-Aigu” and “Shark-kin” could correspond to three different breeds of the same species.
7This sentence is a reference to Bruce Heard’s article here http://pandius.com/tortles.html and to his speculation about tortles and snappers as agents of the Immortals who had a pivotal role in early Mystara when oceans and landmasses had to be “refined” after their creation. It is said that a large number of tortles or snappers may summon enough magical energy to reshape the landscape, raising or lowering mountains, creating lakes, moving coastlines and so on.
8See note 7 above.
9The Shining Islands are described in O2 module “Blade of Vengeance”.
10This is to connect the origin of drakes stated in the Dragonlord Trilogy with the features of Elemental drakes described in the Monstrous Compendium: Mystara Appendix supplement. According to the latter, elemental drakes are related (also) to elemental beings and fey people. In this article it is assumed that elemental drakes come from Eldars and feys who lived in colonies on the Elemental Planes.
11The existence of a subterranean race of dwarven ancestors of the pre-cataclysmic Kogolor dwarves may be inferred to harmonize some official supplements with the rest of canon material. In detail, AC10 module “Bestiary of Dragons and Giants” page 64 tells a legend about Grinax, the oldest and wisest of the mountain dwarves, and how his people chose to live within the mountains. The Penhaligon Trilogy says that dwarves lived underground when the abelaats appeared on Mystara. Finally, if we assume that the world of Aelos described in CM6 module “Where Chaos Reigns” is nothing but a parallel pre-cataclysmic Mystara (see http://pandius.com/cm6_myst.html for details), then the episode “Forge of Power” clearly states that dwarves were a subterranean race which only later emerged on the surface. We could call this race the Early Dwarves to distinguish them from the Ancient Dwarves (Kogolor) and the Modern Dwarves (Rockhome).
12See Note 10 above for the basic approach. PC1 module “Tall Tales of the Wee Folk”, page 39 states that fairies may live among other races; this happened, for example, in the kingdom of Blackmoor before it embraced technology.
13As per the original Immortal Set dragons already existed in the Multiverse when the first Immortals appeared. See also Note 11 above.
14See AC10 “Bestiary of Dragons and Giants” for details on how dragons collect treasure to ultimately become Immortals.
15See the original Immortal Set. Here it is said that dragons are the ultimate challengers of mortals, and that their role in the Multiverse is special. It is also said that, according to Immortal legends, during the primeval war between the first Immortals and draedens, dragons took a neutral stance. As the game we are playing is called “Dungeons and Dragons” I believe that dragons deserve such an important position in the Multiverse. In the following I suppose that those dragons enlisted in the Immortal rankings (as per WotI) are allowed to do so because of the mixing of Eldar and dragon blood in their bodies. True immortal dragons - as per the original Immortal Set - not related to the Eldars are created with the procedure described in AC10 and still roam the Prime Plane and the Multiverse.
16The exact powers of the grey dragon form were never explicitly described in the Dragonlord Trilogy. “Wrath of the Immortals: Codex of the Immortals” states that the Great One, ruler of all dragons in this part of the Multiverse, was a grey dragon during his mortal life.
17This is an assumption of mine. In this article it is assumed that an Eldar generation lasts approximately 750 years (approx. double of an elvish generation) so the 21st Eldar generation would correspond to approx. 15750 years since the establishment of their culture. In terms of human life spans the elapsing of 21 generations would correspond to approx 560 human years, which is a typical duration for a culture or a civilization. I supposed that the same duration (in terms of generations) is true also for Eldars.
18This date would correspond to 28 Ambyrmont according to the Thyatian calendar. What follows is an attempt of mine to explain the strange celestial activities mentioned for that day on GAZ1 and GAZ3 supplements, which were never detailed elsewhere.
19This is another assumption of mine. Eldars and dragons should know the exact date of the catastrophe, as both races actually survived the cataclysm. I chose this date in order to place Thelvyn Foxeyes’ birth - the protagonist of the Dragonlord Trilogy - approximately at the beginning of the 21st Eldar generation after their cataclysm - as if this number is somewhat important for Eldars’ destiny.
20According to WotI (background of the Great One entry) grey dragons are an early - and now disappeared - form dating back to an age when chromatic dragons were mostly undifferentiated. I don’t like this explanation because according to the Dragonlord Trilogy, the Great One - who became an Immortal around BC 3200 - was a grey dragon during his mortal life. This seems to me too a short timespan to move from an undifferentiated grey form to the full spectrum of chromatic dragons of AC 1000 - assuming 1000 years for a draconic generation this timespan would amount to just 4-5 generations. I believe that is also more in the spirit of the original Immortal Set and also AC10 module to have chromatic dragons as very ancient breeds of wyrms. For this reason in the following the Grey Dragons are assumed to be a magic breed of dragons created by the Eldars and soon diluted in the other chromatic dragons breed until it disappeared.
21See the Monstrous Compendium: Mystara Appendix at the entry about Drakes for legends about the birth of the many breeds of drakes.
22This character is cited in PC1 “Tall Tales of the Wee Folks”, page 39, as one of the most renowned sages about drakes’ lore.
23See Monstrous Compendium: Mystara Appendix for a short description.
24See Monstrous Compendium: Mystara Appendix for a short description.
25See AC9 module “Creature Catalogue” for a short description.
26See AC9 module “Creature Catalogue” for a short description.
27This monster is described in the Hollow World boxed set, DM’s Sourcebook, page 23. In this entry it is hinted that this creature could possibly be an ancestor of modern dragons or an unintelligent offshoot of red dragons.
28The Draconic Cluster is the set of external Planes of Existence where the Great One and the Dragon Rulers have established their seats. For further information see the Immortal Set DM’s manual.
29This is to explain while, according to BECMI rule sets (see for example the monsters sections of Rules Cyclopedia or Companion Set), there are chromatic dragons with the ability to speak and cast spells, while other members of the same color are not able to do so. The idea is that the chromatic dragons with higher intelligence and magical skills are descended from some ancient mating between a grey dragon and a chromatic one.
30Again, make reference to “Wrath of the Immortals: Codex of the Immortals” where it is stated that the Great One, ruler of all dragons in this part of the Multiverse, was a grey dragon during his mortal life. It is also stated that this grey dragon breed is now extinct on Mystara. Notice that, according to the Dragonlord Trilogy, the Great One was but a young dragon at the time of the conflict between dragons and the Dragonlord (approx. BC 3200) so the extinction of the grey dragons should be a fairly recent event. That’s why it is supposed here that the Great One was one of the last grey dragons of Mystara.
31The Forlorn Lands is the unofficial name of the Southern Aryptian Desert shown in the map of VotPA Episode 5 (Varellya), stretching on the eastern coast of Davania between Varellya and the Aryptian Savannah. To my knowledge this name was first introduced here: www.pandius.com/1016amb.html and I believe it could be a good tag for the dominions of the western Varellyan Empire (by Geoff Gander here: www.pandius.com/varellyt.html ) turned into wastelands after the curse by the Immortals (see VotPA episode 5 for details about the curse).
32This is also to match the fact that primitive elves are described here and there in many supplements, including the Dragonlord Trilogy itself (which refers to primitive elves’ tribes inhabiting the forests of central Brun as of AC 500). Moreover, if the approach about CM6 module as an alternate ancient Mystara is considered (see Note 7 above for details) then primitive elves roamed the world together with the first humans in the ages which should be subsequent to the Eldars’ fall.
34See the third volume of the Penhaligon Trilogy for details of the abelaats home world.
35This is not really true as, according to book two of the Penhaligon Trilogy at least a descendant of the first abelaats is still alive hidden in Karameikos, while an extraplanar invasion of eastern Darokin and northern Karameikos is described in book three. The events depicted in both volumes could be set during WotI (a good placement would be in AC 1006 together with the Master’s invasion of western Darokin, to prevent the arrival of reinforcements from Selenica) so some years after the current speech of Tarentym.
36Just to give a dating to this event we could assume the first abelaats came to Mystara between BC 13800 and BC 13700.
37Lhomarr is a creation by Geoff Gander (for a general introduction see www.pandius.com/lho_hist.html ), an Atlantis-like island where a mighty human civilization thrived and fell way before the rise of Blackmoor and the current civilizations of Mystara. What follows is an attempt of mine to connect the Lhomarrians to the early humans and to explain how they managed to create the first advanced human culture.
38This is an inference from various sources. According to the Penalighon Trilogy abelaats and dwarves became very close, mostly thanks to the similar underground environment they shared. If information from AC10 is considered (the legend of Grinax and Zalaj on page 64) then the first dwarves were solely underground creatures, which is supported also by the episode “Forge of Power” of CM6 module - under the assumption the events of CM6 actually happened in the ancient past of Mystara, the world of Aelos just being an alternate pre-GROF version of it. In particular, the episode “Forge of Power” narrates how the dwarves first emerged from the underground to live as an above ground race and how they learnt to forge iron and other metals.
Now, if the HW boxed set information is taken into account, then pre-GROF dwarves of 6000 BC (the Kogolor race) lived above ground as herders and farmers. At the same time the Pehaligon Trilogy states that abelaats were destroyed by the first humans (which according to PWAII are not much older than 10000 BC). So, by combining all these references, the transition between subterranean dwarves and the Kogolors should have happened between 10000 BC and 6000 BC, placing the “Forge of Power” episode of CM6 within this timeframe. In the attached timeline the date of 7800 BC is suggested.
39See HW boxed set pre-cataclysmic map: ancient dwarves lived in what is present day Norwold between the Wyrmsteeth Range and Frosthaven.
40Reference here is to the “Forge of Power” episode of CM6 module, see also Note 38 above for details. It is speculated that the abelaats arranged long-term plans for subterranean dwarves to emerge to the surface and become the Kogolor race but then the abelaats became extinct many millennia before this chain of events reached its completion.
41Ringlo Hall is the main settlement of the Elves of the North. As detailed in “Dave Arneson’s Blackmoor - The First Campaign” setting for 4th Edition pages 183 and 184, the elves living in the Red Woods surrounding Ringlo Hall (of the Cumasti lineage) remember their bloodlines up to at least eleven elvish generations. As it is stated that an elvish generation is almost 400 years and that the setting would be placed around 4000 BC, then there are uninterrupted bloodlines of elves living in Ringlo Hall up to at least 8400 BC. In the same reference it is also said that most rituals and traditions followed by the Cumasti are actually meaningless and devoid of significance as the elves do not remember their origins.
Moreover, in “Dave Arneson’s Blackmoor - The Dungeons of Castle Blackmoor” supplement for 3.5 Edition, page 9, it is said that, long before the coming of men, the rock where castle Blackmoor will be built (not very far from Ringlo Hall) was inhabited by a large group of dragons.
Connecting borth references with the relationship between Eldars, dragons and elves of the Dragonlord Trilogy it could be assumed that the whole region of Ringlo Hall was an elvish colony where the ancient traditions of the Eldars were observed by a group of “civilized” elves under the patronage of the dragons of the rock of Blackmoor (and likely, of a few surviving Eldars).
42See Note 41 above. The wild magic source is of course, the magical black rock over which Castle Blackmoor would be built when the region was colonized by humans.
43Refer to the background of pre-generated PC Ismelian Sotadis of DA3 module (page 47), where the high elves of Genander house (possibly connected with the elves of the Red Woods) are mentioned. In the following it is assumed that the Genander elves are a separate group with respect to the Cumasti and the Westryn elves living in the Blackmoorian lands according to “Dave Arneson’s Blackmoor - The First Campaign” setting.
44A group of 50 Wyrmsteeth dragons pledging their loyalty to Vanya is cited on page 29 of M1 module, and they are considered “a divine force”. The name Chosen of Vanya seemed to me a good choice for this group. I’d say that most of these dragons - if not all of them - are pretty young, to avoid overpowering them.
45Elves living in the woods surrounding Ringlo Hall would later become the ancestors of the Westryn elves described in D20 Blackmoor campaign set.
46This follows the description of the High Elves of the External Plane of Alfheim as per GAZ7 page 63.
47If Geoff Gander articles are taken into account (see for example www.pandius.com/yhogcarn.html for details) not all of the Carnifex were banned. Some degenerate and less powerful breeds were spared and survived for some more millennia on Mystara, such as the Y’hog Carnifex or the Deep Carnifex. The original breed who was exiled into the extraplanar prison is made of the so-called Great Carnifex.
48For details about Amberiel and Belotra the Beautiful see M3 module pages 7 and 8. In this module Belotra is described as a beautiful human, here I assume she is actually an abelaat. The relationship of Amberiel and Belotra with the High Elves and the abelaats is just an attempt of mine to deepen the background of both characters and provide some insights to the Green Realm they rule. According to Geoff Ganders’ timeline the Great Carnifex (see note above) were banned from Mystara sometime between BC 10000 and BC 9000 (see here for details: pandius.com/lore.html). Nevertheless, if this banishment is placed two to three millennia earlier, then it is possible to envision a contribution of the High Elves/abelaat alliance to the fall of the Carnifex. That would explain why there are elves guarding the extraplanar prison and why they were rewarded with one of the Sigils. In the attached timeline I assume the banishment of the Great Carnifex to occur around BC 12700.
By the way, the other beings in charge of the other six Sigils described in M3 module may all be part of this ancient alliance which managed to exile those evil creatures. Possibly even Nabumetis (from the Rainbow Realm), Malkar the Warrior (from the Red Realm), Sorabeth the Lawgiver (from the Blue Realm) and Kerrisar (from the White Realm) could be High Elves or abelaat heroes rewarded by the Immortals with a special place in the Seven Realms guarding the Pits of Banishment.
49According to M3 module Amberiel is now tired of her endless guard and really wishes to be relieved of such a burden. On the contrary, Belotra developed a strong dislike of any changing and would gladly continue her service forever.
50Dark Elves are powerful extraplanar beings based on real world Nordic sagas, mentioned and briefly described in GAZ7.
51This is a speculation of mine, just to give some more interesting features to the Dark Elves and avoid an overpopulation of such powerful beings.
52This list comes from GAZ7 description of a magical object called “The Ring of the Nine Svartalven” (page 28 of DM’s manual) which was forged by the Modrigswerg dwarves by binding the souls of nine sages of the Dark Elves.
53Shadow Dwarves are a mysterious subterranean race of dwarves introduced by Bruce Heard in his blog. Available information are at the following links:
http://bruce-heard.blogspot.it/2013/04/Ar17.html. This article is an attempt to provide some background about their possible origins.
54According to DotE - Player’s Guide to Alphatia, (page 5) most of the Alphatian continent - and definitely the Kerothar Mountains - were covered by ice before the Great Rain of Fire and up to BC 1700 - 1800.
55See the Penhaligon Trilogy for details.
56Some further details on this theory are available on the article “Megaliths and the Norns Cycle” by me on “Threshold Magazine” issue #9.
57According to the Immortal Set, druids are the priests of the megalith which forms the world of Mystara, they are able to understand the language of the megalith in the form of subtle and slow changing of the environment.
58This is to explain why dwarves suffered less guilt than elves when faced with their former relationship with the abelaats, as described in the Penhaligon Trilogy. Here I guess this is because dwarves were the first race to act against the abelaats when their treason became clear to the world.
59This is a reference to the events described in CM6 section “In the beginning”. This section describes how the first humans appeared on the world during the end of the last ice age.
60This is a more fictionalized explanation about the near extinction of the brute-men. Instead of direct competition with modern humans (if so, why do brute-men still exist in isolated pockets throughout the Outer World?) and considering also the refined society of Mystara of BC10000 described in this article, brute-men were actually ostracized and exiled to inhospitable places through false charges produced by the abelaats, where the harsh environment claimed its toll.
61This is what would happen to magical races in case Mystara should lose its magical field according to GAZ3 (page 79). The Nucleus of the Spheres here is not involved, but the effects should be the same.
62Again, see GAZ3 page 79 for further details.
63This is an elaboration from what is described about the demise of the abelaats in the Penhaligon Trilogy. According to the books the alliance between the abelaats and elves and dwarves was broken after the abelaats’ theft of the magical energy of Mystara was uncovered. Turning this conflict into a centuries-spanning war called War of the Gates is an idea of mine.
64In the Penhaligon Trilogy it is said that dwarves were allied with the abelaats but they did not reach the same friendship that formed between abelaats and elves, instead. Dwarves (albeit ancient dwarves) are not a strongly magical race so I guess the betrayal of the abelaats was not so critical to them. From the dwarves point of view, I guess the incoming war was just met with the interruption of all relationship and the expulsions of all abelaats from their territory but then dwarves help to the other races of Mystara ended. Nevertheless, I suppose that the same war could have well triggered the animosity between common dwarves and shadow dwarves.
65Two theories may be adopted about the origin of the humans. According to the first theory the humans could have evolved independently many millennia before this epoch and lived their history up to this point as a neglected race. They lived in barely habitable wilderness until the exiled brute men forced them to spread into the rest of the world. As an alternative theory the humans were created as a brand new race around BC 11000 by some superior power using the exiled brute-men as “base material”.
67This possibility is also hinted in Threshold Magazine #9 article “Ecology of the Megaliths and the Norns Cycle” by me.
68See the Penhaligon Trilogy for further details. Humans drove the abelaats to extinction on Mystara.
69This is to combine CM6 episode “In the beginning” to the whole setting described above. According to CM6 the first humans were menaced by a race of huge humanoid brutes called garls. If the PCs manage to solve successfully the events of the first episode, by the second episode garls are nearly extinct on the world. Here it is assumed that garls were unsuccessfully used by the abelaats as a first method to contain human expansion.
70Most of the military in numerical terms would actually be made of common elves, whose lifespan could be assumed 10 times longer than a human. If so, assuming that a major draft in human terms could happen every 4-5 years, then the High Elves coalition could assemble a new army every 40-50 years. Abelaats and Dark Elves, whose lifespan were longer than common elves, were forced to a defensive position as they could not assemble an offensive army before suffering an attack by the High Elves and, later by the humans.
71Again, we are talking about major battles, where the bulk of the warrior caste of the human tribes was involved. For every practical purpose, humans must wait a generation - for the young to become accomplished warriors - in order to stage the next attack on an abelaat stronghold.
72This is to match Geoff Gander’s early history about the first settlers of Lhomarr, who came from Skothar. For further details see www.pandius.com/lho_hist.html. Geoff Gander does not specify the origin of these people, just hinting they were a fourth human stock (after the Neathar, the Oltecs and the Tanagoro) living in Skothar. In the following I assume the proto-Lhomarrians were actually a melting pot of the other stocks coming from places all over the world under the mystical urge to get rid of the abelaats and of their menace over Mystara.
73Just to figure out a number, let assume that a total of approx. 2 million humans were living at that time on Mystara. This is about half of the total Neolithic human population estimated to live on real Earth some 12000 years ago. So a huge population of some 600’000 - 700’000 humans of all possible ethnicity gathered on the shore at that time.
74This common tongue could have been some hybrid of the Neathar language as, according to HW boxed set, it is very easy to learn and understand and it is also used as the common tongue in the Hollow World.
75Again, see Geoff Gander article about the early Lhomarrians here: www.pandius.com/lho_hist.html. As all humans are natural enemies of the abelaats, the war among Tanagoros and early Lhomarrians on Skothar could have happened only if the Tanagoros were somewhat tricked by the abelaats into believing the Lhomarrians were their enemies.
76See the Pehnaligon Trilogy for details. In the end almost all magical energy of the abelaats’ home plane was taken by Mystara.
77The external plane of Svartalfheim is briefly described in GAZ7 and is a direct reference to Norse mythology. Here I tried to give some fanon detail about its in-setting origin.
78In GAZ7 it is said that the Dark Elves of Svartalfheim were the ancestors of Mystara’s dark elves, which are not detailed elsewhere in official supplements and modules. These Mystaran dark elves should be another elvish breed entirely different form the shadow elves of GAZ13 (because shadow elves have another origin clearly stated in this module) and possibly more similar to the drow of other Dungeons and Dragons settings.
79In order to be congruent with Geoff Gander’s work about Lhomarr’s demise it should be assumed that this curse had been granted by the Outer Beings, evil entities of Immortal status worshipped by the Carnifex. If we assume that the High Elves contributed to the ban of the Carnifex then the abelaats could have gathered information about the Outer Beings from High Elves which were turned into Dark Elves early during the abelaats’ colonization of Mystara.
80According to Geoff Gander’s article about ancient Lhomarr ( www.pandius.com/lho_hist.html ), this island was settled approximately around BC 10500 and fell in BC 7022, for a total duration of approximately 3480 years. Abelaats’ presence on Lhomarr lasted from approximately BC 13700 to BC 10200, for a total of 3500 years. Possibly the destruction of the artifact of the Outer Beings during the battles for dominance between Lhomarrians and the degenerate breed of Carnifex of Y’hog (see the above mentioned article by Geoff Gander for details) was nothing but an excuse used by the Outer Beings to set in motion the ancient curse.
82This is not true as, according to the Penhaligon Trilogy, at least one original pure abelaat still exists hidden in Karameikos as of AC 1000 - AC 1010
83This is definitely true according to the Penhaligon Trilogy: as of AC 1000 there are several people who unknowingly possess some remote ancestor who was actually an abelaat in disguise. The abelaat lineage is extremely diluted but it is undoubtedly present in humans as of present time.
84My speculation, just to throw in the idea in case a DM wishes to use it.
85The abaton is able to assume many shapes, including the form of a living human (like the son of the evil mage Thelvin Auroch, according to the Penhaligon Trilogy), so I believe its true essence is closer to some kind of changing magical energy than a physical object. For this reason I believe it cannot be easily destroyed - also because otherwise it would have been neutralized by the intelligent races of Mystara in the many millennia following the abelaats’ disappearance.
86The curse is an assumption of mine to explain why, according to the Penhaligon Trilogy the abelaats crossing the magical bridge created by the abaton reached Mystara just as silhouettes of cold, dark energy with eight saliva-dripping canines, melee weapons protruding from their bodies and a keen sense of smell. According to the books this twisting of their shape is due to the passage through the portal. For further information about the abelaats’ shape after their passage across the abaton see pandius.com/abltinfo.html by me.
87According to GAZ7 the High Elves live on the external Plane of Existence of Alfheim and they are enemies of the Dark Elves of Svartalfheim. Here I tried to give some fanon detail about the in-setting origin of this Plane of Existence and of the animosity between High Elves and Dark Elves..
88This may be the case with the Genander elves of Blackmoor, which are addressed in DA3 as the high elves of Genander’s clan. To avoid confusion with the High Elves of Alfheim I assumed the title “high elves” referred to the Genander clan is nothing but an honorary title addressed by the other elves of the North to this specific people.
89This is to be more in agreement with the hints about High Elves’ nature listed in GAZ7 module, although information available in this supplement is scarce at best.
90Humans of Lhomarr could have been especially hit by this memory-blurring spell due to their great involvement in the final phase of the war, so they actually lost most of their memories about their early times on the island of Lhomarr. What they believe about their origins could then match well with Geoff Gander’s description of the Lhomarrians in his article here: www.pandius.com/lho_hist.html.
91As stated before in this article, the elves of Ringlo Hall (the Cumasti, according to D20 Blackmoor Campaign book) are one of these groups, sponsored by dragons and Eldars to help in guarding the nearby wild magic source. It would also explaining why, for some time around BC 4000, the elves seized Castle Blackmoor and surroundings, as described in Dungeons and Dragons supplement II: Blackmoor and in the Blackmoor: First Fantasy Campaign book .
92As clans of barbaric elves are listed in several official supplements (the Book of Wondrous Inventions, the Voyage of the Princess Ark, the Dragonlord Trilogy, the Shady Dragon Inn, CM6 adventure module and others) I assumed that these elves were not brought to Evergrun by Ordana (possibly because they refused to follow her) so reverted to the basic lifestyle they were more accustomed to. Moreover, notice that the all the elves who live in the Blackmoor area around BC 4000 (i.e. the Westryn and Cumasti elves of D20 Blackmoor Campaign books and the Genander elves of DA3 module) are not part of the elves of Evergrun because the first meeting between Evergrun and Blackmoor will happen 500 years later. So even the Blackmoor elves should not be part of the followers of Ordana.
93Approximately between BC 10000 and BC 5000, which would correspond to 15 elvish generations lasting 350 years each. Notice that, according to HW boxed set, elves were still living isolated on Evergrun as of BC 6000.
94Most of the following info is taken from HW boxed set and GAZ5.
95According to the Dragonlord of Mystara novel, the Heimsleidh (also known as the Way of the Land) is the compendium of all the elvish wisdom, compiled by Ilsundal himself before becoming an Immortal. The Heimsleidh is made of 48 volumes. Elves are very jealous of these books and even the sight of the volumes is forbidden to non elves. Nevertheless, a complete copy of the 48 books has been secretly stored in the library of the Great School of Magic in Glantri City since at least AC 500.
96This description matches the appearance of the Black King of Alphaks’ Volcano according to DotE, DM’s manual page 41 (see also Note 97 below). As this description is also matching the usual appearance of a modern abelaat while on Mystara (see here: pandius.com/abltinfo.html ) then I connected the Black King/Black Queen portfolios to the Penhaligon Trilogy. So the Black Queen is the human witch who used her magic to wake up a slumbering abelaat in his home plane. This abelaat then became the Black King. The events are detailed in the following sections of this article.
97According to DotE (DM’s manual) the Black King and the Black Queen are the leaders of the mortal agents of Alphaks, assigned with the destruction of Alphatia through intrigue and secret operations from their main base on Alphaks’ Volcano.
98Reference is to the great war that will erupt in AC 1004 between the Empire of Alphatia and the alliance signed by Glantri, the Heldannic Knights and the Empire of Thyatis. Details about the course of the war are available in WotI boxed set. According to M5 module (page 41), there is also the possibility for this war to break out in AC 1002 (if the PCs do not manage to avert it) starting from the Isle of Dawn and escalating until all the surrounding lands are involved. In this scenario the war will last for 20 years (while the war described in WotI will last only 5 years) and will depopulate Alphatia, Norwold, the Known World and everything in between, plunging this part of the world into a barbaric age. Likely the aim of Entropy is for the latter scenario to happen.
99According to CM1 and M2 modules - which describe in detail the part of the great war (see Note 98 above) that will ravage Norwold in AC 1002/1003 - elves, dragons (and so, also Eldars) are neutral forces that will not be involved in the conflict nor will they fight together unless bound by some alliance with some particular PC. As similar alliances are very unlikely, or are not assumed to happen at all, then it is possible to believe that elves and dragons do not intervene in the war because they are weakened or paralyzed by some sort of internal struggle. This article tries to give a possible explanation for it.
100According to M1 module, if Vanya is the winner in the competition with Koryis and Alphaks then the PCs may summon a force of 50 Wrymsteeth dragons devoted to her. This force may be called upon once per character during any war and it has a huge Battle Rating of 503 points. Definitely the involvement of such an army in a battle might well turn the course of any war.
101Teryl Auroch is the main antagonist in Book 3 of the Penhaligon Trilogy. An accomplished mage, born from an abelaat and a human witch, Teryl’s final aim is to use the abaton to drain magic from Mystara, awake the slumbering abelaats on their home plane and start another abelaats’ invasion.
102In the first part of the Penhaligon Trilogy the abaton is shaped like some kind of puzzle box. Later in the novels the abaton is transferred into a living being - the young son of the evil mage Teryl Auroch (see Note 101 above for details about him).
103According to the Pehnaligon Trilogy the abaton is first used not far from the Darokinian village of Armstead, west of Selenica and north of the Black Mountains. In the novels this village is a renowned center of magical studies, inhabited by many wizard and sorcerers. While never explained in detail in the books, it is possible to assume that the location for the opening of the bridge between Mystara and the abelaats’ home plane was made possible by the great concentration of magic in the nearby village of Armstead. The village is destroyed by the abelaat invaders shortly after.
104What follows is a mix of events described in the Penhaligon Trilogy and of DotE information about the Black Queen and the Black King, plus a few inferences by me (like the fact that while the shape of both individuals was changed by the passage through the abaton their magical powers were not - this is mostly to explain the very high level of both NPCs according to DotE).
105This is to explain why the appearance of the Black Queen is that of a dark silhouette. Likely she was more abelaat than human, so her body reacted to the reverse passage to Mystara like the average abelaat would. Notice that, according to book 3 of the Penhaligon Trilogy, a human is able to go back and forth through the gate unharmed (this happens to Johuanna the Squire).
106Here I took a little licence as DotE specifies that both the Black King and the Black Queen were former human adventurers. Nevertheless an abelaat is definitely able to look like a human, especially if he is one of the individuals who metamorphosed their own appearance to look like a human and have children with them during the final stages of their persecution. This individual could have left Mystara shortly before the fall of Lhomarr and then suffered the magical slumbering in his home plane due to the lack of magic therein, to be retrieved by the human witch/Black Queen some eleven millennia later.
107I added this fluff to throw in some interesting justification for the alliance between Alphaks and the Black King and Queen. Maybe the death of Teryl Auroch, described in the Penhaligon Trilogy, and the defeat of the abelaats’ invasion of Mystara could also shake the Black Queen/King’s alliance with Alphaks. I believe this could lead to some interesting roleplay opportunity to neutralize the evil nest of Alphaks’ Volcano without necessarily defeat in combat the final bosses.