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Svartalven

by Andrew Theisen

Working on a project that involved elven and Northlands history to an extent, and I came across something that made me stop for a minute and think. We know that there are "dark elves" mentioned in Gaz7: The Northern Reaches, with no real elaboration (dark elves are mentioned as assisting the Modrigswerg; the Modrigswerg use dark elven craft magic; there is a Svartalfheim outer plane; and there is a Ring of the Nine Svartalven). I know there are a lot of theories as to who/what these Dark Elves are/were (among them: Dark Elves of Mystara, some mention of the dark elves in A History of the Dwarven Race)

In any case, some canonical background:

2,200 BC: Some elves break off from Ilsundal's migration and eventually find their way to the frozen valleys of Glantri, where they settle. A few survivors from the second migration from Vulcania also reach Glantri and settle among their cousins. (GAZ3)
2,000 BC: The Ethengars arrive on the fertile lands of the Steppes. (GAZ?)
First human settlements in the coastal and island lowlands of the Northern Reaches. (GAZ7)
1,800 BC: The dwarfish race on the Known World is slowly, inevitably dying out. The Immortal called Kagyar the Artisan takes all remaining dwarves in the Known World. Half he transplants to the Hollow World, and half he reshapes into a new dwarven race. Now there are no remnants of the original dwarven race on the outer world. Some of the "new dwarves" are returned to the Northern Reaches, where the largest dwarf colonies had been, and eventually become the Modrigswerg clans; others are planted in the Rockhome region. Both groups are given false memories and believe that the Modrigswerg dwarves also originally lived in the Rockhome lands. (HW)
1,700 BC: The elves of Glantri discover, in the Broken Lands, a strange artifact from the lost Blackmoor civilisation. They tinker with it, and the artifact explodes cataclysmically, sending impenetrable clouds into the sky (which last for years), and spreading a strange rotting plague among the surviving elves - those who were far enough away to survive. The elves shelter themselves in the deepest caves of Glantri. They find an incredible series of caverns there and begin a years-long migration. The travelling tribes are separated from one another. These are the ancestors of the Hollow World's Gentle Folk, Icevale Elves, and the Schattenalfen. A fourth group, led by an elf named Atziann, has no survivors save that king. Some emerge, years later, hundreds of miles south, past the Broken lands. Some perish.

By the occurrences of these events, it seems the clans that would later become the Icevale and Schattenalfen were living in the Known World region prior to the explosion of 1700 BC. The Icevale elves share cultural similarities with the Heldannic/Antalian people that no other elvish culture seems to (same Immortals, etc.). The Schattenalfen have a Germanic name... which doesn't really mean much, since the Antalians aren't strictly Germanic (the Hattians are more directly Germanic). In any case, this is my theory that fills in the gaps:

2,200 BC: Among the elvish settlers in the Glantri region are the ancestors of the Icevale, Schattenalfen, as well as the Truedyl clan. The Icevale elves settle in the northernmost reaches of the Glantrian highlands, in the regions now known as Wendar and Heldann, along with the Schattenalfen. The Truedyl stay in the wooded valleys of Glantri.
2,200 - 2,100 BC: The elves and humans of the north come into conflict over land as the humans begin to migrate southwards.
2,000 BC: The Icevale clans and Antalians settle into a peaceful coexistence. Contact is largely peaceful, and consists of exchanges of ideas- the Antalians gain a written language from modifications of the elvish runic alphabet, and the elves learn of the humans Immortal ancestors. (Legends speak of the time that Odin hung himself on Ordana's World Tree for nine days and nine nights as a sign of his commitment to peace between the two peoples, and her granting him the runes as an offering from her side.)
There are rumours of some humans and elves intermarrying, particularly in the Namahed clan.
1,800 BC: The dwarves make their presence known in the lands of elves and men. Among these are the enigmatic and dangerous Modrigswerg clan.
1,800 - 1,700 BC: The Modrigswerg make contact with the Schattenalfen clans of elves. The two races share an interest in eldritch sorceries and strange artifice. Together, they dabble in ever darker dweomercraeft, and enter into pacts with demonic entities in a search for power.
The Schattenalfen discover a technomagical device that survived the Great Rain of Fire among the shattered peaks known as the Broken Lands. They bring this to their Modrigswerg allies in an effort to glean its hidden secrets.
1,700 BC: The efforts of the Schattenalfen and Modrigswerg result in an accidental triggering the Blackmoorian device, creating death and devastation across the Known World. Most of the elvish clans, including the Schattenalfen and Truedyl, flee underground to avoid the worst effects of the explosion. The Icevale elves join their brethren, withdrawing from the world of man.
The Schattenalfen are forever linked with dark magicks and death in the minds of the Antalians, who call them Svartalves in their legends.

That's the idea- nothing too fancy, and it needs some tweaking yet.

Some other random thoughts associated with this:

I tied the elven runes/Antalians runes together based on the elvish runes presented in CM7: Tree of Life, and X11: Saga of the Shadow Lord. The runes in X11 are slightly different, but the ones in CM7 are exactly the same as those in Gaz7 (which are RW Norse runes, which is probably where Bruce Heard, author of CM7, got them). I imagine they weren't intended to be the same thing, and that the author of Gaz7 wasn't even aware that they had been "claimed" by the elves of CM7 already, but the tie was there, so I went with it, and tied the two legends in together along with the Immortals.

I figure that "Alfheim" as we know it was actually named by the Antalians/Heldanners when the Mealiden migration arrived- the elves doubtless have a name for their own homeland (Canolbarth, maybe, or something more elvish), but that "Alfheim" is based on Heldannic legends of the elves, and was given to the land when the "light elves" returned to the Known World via the Rainbow Bridge (another Northern Reaches legend).