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Legend of the Fallen Elvesby Marco Dalmonte
There is one thing in GAZ5 that has always intrigued me, an obscure reference or hint (I don't know if that was intentional or what) that was never explained. The passage I am referring to is this: "Wherever elves go, it seems that orcs soon follow (or vice versa). Some scholars believe the orc/elf struggle may have cosmic significance. In all likelihood, the truth lies buried under the southern polar ice cap in what was once Evergrun, the elven homeland" (GAZ5, page 10)
Now, Evergrun is long since gone, and probably now lies in the Darklands of the Hollow World (or nearby), so it is not that easy to discover the truth. But I have a theory that takes into consideration Mystaros' alternative timeline as well as the canon one. It deals with the elves and a test... an their failure...
I hope you'll like it ;)
The Legend of the Fallen Ones
Many aeons ago, Ordana wished to create a new race that could embody the goodness of nature and act as her heralds, protecting the forest and its dwellers all around the world. Those were the times of the vile Serpentine Empire, which had taken over after the imprisonment of the Carnifex. Ordana searched among the serpentines and saw that not all of them harboured feelings of greed, hatred and thirst for conquest. She took some of the most enlightened and open minded serpentines and transported them to Evergrun, where she began altering them, purifying their soul from the evil taint of the serpentine race and reshaping their body to more harmonic and gracious forms. Thus the first elves were created.
They retained no memories of their earlier life and were new to their bodies and their powers: for this reason, for the first centuries of life Ordana sent the Forest Spirits to shelter, to protect and to guide the elves along the right path, the Path of the Forest. But the Forces of Entropy were monitoring this experiment as well, and soon started to act with the only purpose of corrupting this new race and leave Mystara under the sway of Chaos.
Around BC 5,000 the Forest Spirits were ordered by Ordana to leave the elves: it was time for them to learn by themselves what life was like and how their powers could have been employed. However, Ordana loved her children and to further guide and protect them she gave the elven race her last gift: the One Tree of Ordana. This majestic oaktree was sentient and had incredible magical properties the elves could exploit: they began worshipping Ordana even more and organised their community around this sacred artifact.
But in the following decades, some elves began experiencing strange dreams, hearing stranger voices which promised them ultimate power and knowledge of all that was and would be. These voices and dreams sounded very convincing to some of them, who slowly changed their way of seeing the world, turning their soul into a darker hue. They began questioning the goals of the elves, the rules and laws of Ordana and their very lifestyle, first silently then more openly. The elven sages tried to make them see their mistakes but didn't punish them, for they hadn't really done anything but asking provocative questions. Yet the last step towards Chaos was near..
These elves aspired to be different from their brethren and with the passing decades this feeling only augmented, until they finally seized their opportunity to change things and find answers to their questions.. One of them, an elfin whose name's lost in the mists of time, was assistant to the Keeper of the One Tree. She had not yet voiced her doubts and ideas openly for she feared retaliation and humiliation at the hands of the Elders, but she constantly attended the meetings where the "heretic elves" talked about the world outside, the Greater Powers, the elven might and the Ultimate Lifeform. She was convinced that Ordana was not only a model to be worshipped, but to be imitated. She often spoke to her friends that the elves' destiny was to become like Ordana, in order to expand their wisdom and knowledge and guide the other races of the world just like Ordana was doing with them. In her mind she was absolutely sure that the One Tree was both a boon and a bane, a test given them by Ordana. The tree could make life easier for the elves and grant them almost everything they'd wanted to live a pampered and sheltered existence, but that was not the real purpose of the One Tree. In fact, she often said, Ordana had granted them the tree because that was the only way to achieve freedom from the material world and the ultimate knowledge necessary to their final enlightenment. The elves should have used it not to make life easier but to achieve an upper form of existence like that of Ordana. The voices they heard, the questions they arose were inspired by Ordana herself, who, after seeing how the Elders misunderstood her gift, was now sending her true message to those who could understand it. The elfin quickly became the leader of this group of elves, who called themselves the Seekers, and after some time she finally convinced them to act and to fulfil the goal of their life: challenge the Elders and show them their mistakes.
One grim day, the elfin together with a group of the most zealots among her followers breached inside the temple where the One Tree was guarded and demanded to use it, refusing to tell the Keepers their intentions. The Keepers, amazed by the young apprentice's behaviour, tried to stop the group and to parlay, but in a fit of rage the elfin lashed at her master and killed him before anyone could react. The remaining two Keepers were so shocked and numbed by the event that they weren't able to react immediately and so they fell under the blows of those who accompanied the elfin. They knew that there were others in the temple that could have heard the screams of the keepers, and so reached the One Tree before anybody could attempt to stop them. They had to show all the other elves their mistakes after all..
The One Tree sensed their arrival.. and it also knew what they had done: they had murdered their own kind. With the blood of their brethren still on her hands, the elfin approached the One Tree and established a mental contact with it the way the Keepers had taught her to do. She demanded it to give her absolute knowledge and power for this was what Ordana wanted. She asked for an upper state of existence, that which Ordana also led, for they had been made to guide and teach the races of the world much like Ordana had done so far. When the One Tree refused, the elfin felt betrayed: was this another trial prepared by Ordana? Maybe the tree was the guardian of the key to ultimate knowledge and it had been instructed to protect it to death.. Suddenly, the elfin ordered his friends to attack the One Tree, and they all assaulted it. That was the last drop..
The elves had killed their own kind, betrayed their Patron and now tried to kill her Living Prophet, severing the bond of Alliance she shared with them. Ordana saw the seeds of Entropy inside these elves' soul and ordered her Tree to break the sigils. The One Tree reacted to the attack by lifting Ordana's protection over those elves, so the forces of Entropy that were tainting them had free access to their souls. The seeds of Chaos and Evil that had been growing in their hearts and mind flourished all of a sudden, overfed by their hatred and malignance and by the evil deeds just committed.. but oh, what kind of flowers they produced!
The elves began to change immediately after dealing the first blow to the One Tree, and the change was not a pleasant one. Screams of pain and horror echoed through the halls of the temple, awakening those who still slept, who discovered the intruders in the Sacred Garden. But what they saw there were not elves: rather monsters and evil spirits that had somehow breached the temple and killed the Keepers to destroy their holy relic. Some of the elves had been turned into strange snakelike beings, returning to their old ancestral serpentine form, while others had been deformed so utterly that they were more similar to animal humanoids than to elves. But one of them had the most terrible form of them all: that of a large jet black wyrm with an elfin's head! And when they saw her face they understood that these were no demons but cursed elves, and that their only duty now was to drive them away or to kill them. Some fled, others fought and were killed; the wyrm chose to fly away swallowing her hatred and hiding her tears in the night rain.
The humanoid beings were the first Beastmen specimens, from which the humanoids derive. When some of these creatures died, Hel transplanted her souls in the Borean Valley, creating other evil Beastmen who passed on the next generations their hatred for the elven race who had cursed and then abandoned them. Obviously, the real reasons for this hatred and envy were forgotten with the passing of the centuries, but the feeling never died, and the humanoids still now consider the elves their primal enemy.
The elves, on their part, have forgotten the whole story as well.. most of them at least. There are still a few elven sages who have buried in their memory or in their dusty libraries the Legend of the Fallen Ones, but they do not tell it normally. They are ashamed by what their brethren did and somehow feel responsible for the creation of the humanoids. To them, the humanoids are the living proof of their greatest mistake, of their imperfection, and this must not be known by the other races. They will always try to eradicate this race from the face of Mystara to wash their souls from the sins of the past..
As for those elves who were part of the Seekers but didn't participate in the murder (and there were many), they stayed in hiding among their brethren for some centuries, until some priests from a far away nation called Blackmoor contacted the elves and showed them their wonders... These elves were the first to assimilate the Blackmoor customs and were responsible for the "techinicisation" of Evergrun, finally reaching their old goal: abandon the Path of the Forest and try out the road that would have made them free and all powerful.. The rest is history..
A last word about the elfin who was turned into a dragon. She was the first Onyx Dragon to walk on Mystara, and many other black and onyx dragons were spawned by her. Nobody knows what her true fate was and nobody ever heard of her after she left Evergrun. Her punishment however, was the most severe.. and it is still haunting her to these days..
But this, my friends, is another story..
-Bensarian of Kevar