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Topic of the Month: Shadow over Aengmor

By Balinor "Silverblade" Audriel.

May Rafiel preserve us!

Since my shadowelf brethren came to the surface and rightfully reclaimed our heritage of Canolbarth, nothing but tragedy has befallen our nation of Aengmor. With the wilting of the beloved trees, the civil war among my shadowelf brethren, and the desecration of our sacred city of Aengmor, I wonder if Rafiel has not forgotten his favoured children.

The latest catastrophe to befall the shadow elves comes from the realms of the humans. An evil sorceress who calls herself Synn, had trespassed into Canolbarth and sought to make it her base of operations for her wicked plots. With powerful sorcery, Synn built a dark fortress, guarded by magical wards, booby traps, and dreadful creatures. With promises of gold and adventure, she lured many shadowelf mercenaries and warriors to participate in her sinister plans. (Rafiel forgive us for our own dark natures!) The shamans of Rafiel tried to warn us of the evils of Synn. Some even dared mention the name of the Entropic Immortal Atzanteotl-and that this sorceress was reeking with the taint of the Corrupter. And yet the shadow elves would not listen. Only when heroic adventurers from outside Aengmor returned from the Sacred Cave of Rafiel, and revealed the horrors of Synn's plans, did the shadow elves realise their folly, but by then it was too late.

The sorceress had learned the secrets of the Magic Points of Canolbarth Forest, and with these insidious energies, her own powers increased manyfold. With baleful magic, she summoned hordes of dread monstrosities-and, if the hushed whisperings are to be believed, even magically twisted the creatures of the forest into gruesome abominations! The already dark forests of Aengmor teemed with manticores, manscorpions, sphinxes, and chimeras. Bands of kobolds, goblins, gnolls, and ogres made their way from the Broken Lands into Darokin and into Canolbarth, not only driven by the fighting over the Sacred City of Aengmor, but perhaps also summoned and organized by their evil mistress. From the rivers came troglodytes, lizard men, gator men, nuckalavee, hydras, velya, and decapuses. The skies were blackened with gargoyles, harpies, chimeras, and the chaotic dragons of green, black, and red. From other worlds, displacer beats, hell hounds, and beholders were summoned by Synn's evil beckoning. (One clairvoyant shaman of Rafiel even spoke of terrible visions of fiends from the Outer Planes seeking entrance into Mystara through Synn's machinations! Thank Rafiel this did not come to pass!) Yet even without the demonic threats from beyond, the denizens of Synn were dangerous enough.

Perhaps the most shocking of these horrors were the undead. Scores of skeletons, zombies, and ghouls began emerging from Synn's dark fortress, and whatever living creature they killed readily joined their ranks. The frightful name of Deimos, a lich from Darokin who was allegedly destroyed two years ago, was heard of again, and some shadow elves claim to have witnessed him battling an adventuring party in the caverns underground, animating more undead minions and unleashing powerful necromantic magic. Whether Deimos was liege of these undead, or working with or for the sorceress Synn we cannot and we dare not know.

It was on the last days of the month of Days that the troubles of Aengmor reached their peak. Synn had apparently completed her dark fortress as well as her army of rogue shadow elves, humanoids, monsters, and undead. As a horrific final act, she magically raised her tower on an island in the sky, much like the air wizards on the continent of Alphatia once did. It was a feat that was both amazing and horrifying. The fortress crackled with dark, evil magic and from it emerged deafening monstrous howls.

But something went awry...

At first, we thought the human flying vessels [skyships. Ed.] soaring above the treetops were allies of Synn, come to deliver more minions for the sorceress-or worse, to invade Aengmor! And the more we thought it would happen when the manmade crafts began shooting fireballs, lightning bolts, and meteor swarms into the trees below. But, as witnesses to events were to relate to me later, the vessels were actually bombarding the forest ground, presumably where the Magic Point was located. Although it would be impossible to actually destroy a Magic Point (the humans would be foolish to believe they actually could), the magical attack somehow disrupted the source of Synn's evil powers. In a brilliant flash of purifying light, Synn's fortress simply vanished.

Was it destroyed? Or was it merely transported into another place? And what of Synn? Did she perish? Or is this merely part of an elaborate plan, to deploy her foul denizens all over the surface world, and spread her wicked influence like a veritable shadow over Mystara?

May Rafiel preserve us all!