Lore of Norrath
From Project 1999 Wiki
In the Beginning
It is said that outside of space and time an entity known only as the Nameless exists, and that this being created all that there is and was and will be. It is also written in ancient texts that from His mind sprang not only the universe and its countless suns and worlds, but also a myriad of sentient, powerful, yet finite creatures whom one such as a man, or elf, or dwarf, would call a god. In aeons past came one of these gods upon the world Norrath.
The Age of Scale
Veeshan, Crystalline Dragon and ruler of the Plane of Sky, found this world pleasing and deposited her brood onto the frozen continent of Velious. With one swipe of her mighty claws, Veeshan opened several great wounds upon the surface of Norrath, staking her claim to this promising new world. Dragons then walked the land and flew the skies, powerful beings of great intellect, wisdom, and strength.
The legends of that time also tell that Veeshan blasted Velious with her breath, encasing it in eternal ice and creating a barrier of deadly ice flows and stormy weather. This marked the beginning of the Age of Scale.
The Age of Scale lasted untold millennia. From the tidbits of information passed down, it is known that a group of dragons mastered magic and spellcasting during this era. Additionally, dragons of power and influence among their kind gathered together and formed a hereditary ruling council known as the Claws of Veeshan, who rule the dragons of Velious to this day. Few of Norrath's inhabitants know more of this Age, and none that do would dare to speak.
The end of the Age of Scale was marked by the Gods creation of the other races of Norrath. Many of Veeshan's vainglorious brood perceived that they might rule over these lesser beings and left Velious. This splinter group became known as the Ring of Scale. Those dragons that remained upon Velious had little interest in temporal power, and were content to pass the millennia in homage to their goddess, and in quiet contemplation and the study of magics.
The Elder Age
In time the other gods noticed Veeshan's work, and being often petty and jealous beings, they too came upon Norrath, intent upon leaving their mark. Brell Serilis was first, and from his Plane of Underfoot, a dark realm of vast caves and endless tunnels, he quietly created a magical portal to a cavern deep in the belly of Norrath. Through this portal the Duke of Underfoot seeded the depths of Norrath with all manner of creatures. Brell then returned home, sealing his portal within a labyrinthine chamber of mystical Living Stone.
And when the other gods came to Norrath, Brell Serilis approached each of them, and after some time convinced them to meet as one to discuss the fate of the world. The Great Mother Tunare, and Prexus, The Oceanlord were in attendance, and Rallos Zek, the warlord, was also there, yet in mistrust kept his distance. Brell, carefully avoiding all queries as to the origins of his information, told of Veeshan's discovery of the new and potentially powerful world in which she had deposited her brood. Words befit of the King of Thieves poured forth from Brell's lips and he proposed that they accept an alliance of sorts, to which all save Rallos Zek agreed, ignorant of the fact that Brell had already released some of his creations into the Underfoot of this new world. The planet that would be called Norrath was divvied up between these beings of power for the purpose of keeping the Dragon Wurmqueen in check. Each would create a race of beings to watch over Norrath and keep a vigilant eye on the schemes of Dragonkind. Brell claimed the bowels of the planet and created the Dwarves, stout and strong, deep beneath the mountains of Norrath. In the abysmal depths of the oceans Prexus left his children, the Kedge, hearty aquatic beings of great mental power and stamina. And on the surface of Norrath did Tunare create the Elves, creatures of limitless grace and beauty, and Rallos Zek the Giants, fierce and formidable beings, intent upon the defense of their lands.
The Age of Monuments
It was inevitable that such energies involved in seeding planets with life would attract even more of the gods, and it was the Elves who drew the unwanted attention of Innoruuk, Prince of Hate. In a decrepit tower overlooking the dark decaying alleys of the Plane over which he ruled, Innoruuk waited, stoking the fire of his Hate until it was a raging inferno. He cursed his fellow gods for not including him in their pact and vowed to make them regret such disrespect. From the halls of the Elves' fair city, Takish-Hiz, the Prince of Hate snatched away the first Elven King and Queen. In his realm of pain and anger he slowly tore them apart, physically and mentally, over the course of three hundred years. He then gathered the quivering remnants of these beings of light and rebuilt them into his own dark sadistic image, a twisted mockery of Tunare's noble children. In depositing the Teir'Dal, as Innoruuk's Dark Elven creations would come to be called, back into the Underfoot of Norrath, the seeds for The Prince of Hate's final revenge were sown. Bristlebane Fizzlethrope and Cazic-Thule came next to Norrath, and Brell met them, concocting a second pact with these latter gods, wishing another excuse to create more peoples into the world. Rallos Zek again watched from afar, determined to add to his creation as well, and this time Brell convinced the Warlord to join the pact, assuring him that it was indeed an appropriate time to fulfill his desires. Deep in the earth did Brell return to create the gnomes, resembling dwarves to some extent, yet more wiry and gnarled, consumed with tinkering with devices more so than their cousins. On the surface, away from Elves and Giants, Bristlebane made the Halflings, short and stubby folk, agile and with a propensity to meddle and even pilfer at times. Cazic-Thule, Lord of Fear, was drawn to the swamps and jungles of Norrath and there created the green skinned Trolls and reptilian Lizard Men. And Rallos Zek returned to the surface, pleased with his sanction to create even more peoples for his army. He made then the Ogres, massive, unmovable beings of questionable intelligence, and the Orcs, bred for battle and singled-minded in their desire for conquest.
The Fall of Rallos Zek and His Children
By this time, those who are now known as the elder races of Norrath had begun to expand and mature. Villages became cities, and cities became kingdoms. Several of the races became bent on expansion and warfare became part of their developing cultures. And of all the races, it was the Ogres who quickly proved the most interested in battle and plunder, and their empire grew outward from their mountain home until it eventually encompassed a large portion of Tunaria, largest of the known continents. Their knowledge of magic grew as did their greed, until they became weary of only Norrath, and when they learned of other planes and dimensions, invaded the Plane of Earth itself. Rallos Zek watched with pride as his creations challenged the gods of that realm, and when they eventually knew defeat, the Warlord himself led a second invasion. The war that ensued shook the heavens and angered the greater gods. Through their combined might, Rallos Zek was finally thwarted and forced back to his domain, after which a great barrier to the Planes of Power was erected, denying entry to both the lesser gods and mortals as well. And then, in what some view as spite and others justice, the gods cursed the Warlord's creations. Thousands of Ogres were slain and their empire collapsed around them. The Giants were spread from one end of the earth to the other, forced to flee their homes as the gods brought snow and ice to their previously lush lands. And the goblins were also cursed, but no writings remain of their punishment as they no longer keep records of their history (which is perhaps some indication as to the severity of their curse). This is also the time that the Greenmist eradicated the Shissar of Norrath.
As the dust settled, the last of the gods came to Norrath. Mithaniel Marr, god of Valor, and Erollisi Marr, goddess of Love, created the Barbarians, a hardy race who settled the cold and rugged northlands, near the ruins of the Giant empire. Being the youngest race, they were generally unwashed and rugged, possessing very few social graces. And while they too had a warlike culture, there were those amongst them who began to believe in something more. By this time the other civilizations of Norrath had either long since declined, or were well on their way, and this small minority of Barbarians saw an opportunity to triumph where the others had failed. Perhaps this was a seed of wisdom planted by the Marr Twins, or perhaps it was only by chance, but as the Barbarians spread out across the lands, warring with both each other and any other race encountered, this tiny movement continued to grow. And so even amidst desolation and war, there was hope.
The Age of Blood
The last of the old races to decline was the empire of the Elves. The Elddar Forest spread across the entire southeastern quarter of Tunaria. Cities and villages built high into the trees housed thousands of Wood Elves, and the marble cities of the High Elves were built in the forest's clearings and meadows, their white towers and spires climbing out of the forest, higher than the tallest tree. But then came the last curse of the gods, as Solusek Ro, Lord of Flame, arched the spine of the serpent mountains, bringing heat from the burning sun to the ancient forest. The rivers ran dry, it rained less each year, and while the great elven druids fought long and hard, using their powerful magics to combat the change, they could only delay the inevitable. Slowly the forest gave way to desert, and eventually even great Takish-Hiz crumbled and the elves were forced to flee Tunaria, leaving much of their greatness behind.
The Lost Age
This next period of Norrathean history as it relates to many of the races is the least known. It is surmised by the more knowledgeable historians that while the elder races regrouped and reestablished themselves, a small group of Barbarians were suddenly transformed both physically and intellectually. Most believe this to be the last major and direct act of divine intervention, and perhaps the reason so little is known about this period is that the gods wish it to be so, deciding afterwards that they would have less to do with their creations. In any case, this small and enlightened group were the fathers of the Human race, and they rapidly gained a foothold throughout the lands, studying the lost art of geomancy. The Combine Empire, as this lost race of Humans is called, spread throughout the known world, but then died even more quickly than it grew, and for reasons still unknown. And while they are the ancestors of every Human on Norrath and their relics and ruins still litter the lands from Odus to Faydwer, little history of this period remains.
After the fall of the Combine Empire, the remnants of mankind dwelled mostly in the center of Tunaria, inhabiting primarily the vast and fertile plains of Karana. Villages appeared and prospered, several reaching the size of towns, and two even became cities. To the west a strong and noble band of Humans, lead by Antonius Bayle the First, founded Qeynos under the lofty principles of law. Freeport, to the east, became an active and dangerous port of call for all who dared to venture into the Ocean of Tears. Humanity, much to the disdain of the elder races who watched from afar, remained strong, even daring to rename their home after one of their own instead of one of the gods. The great continent of Tunaria would forever more be known as Antonica. This is not to imply, however, that humanity was at peace. Competition was fierce, and when resources grew scarce for one reason or another many groups abandoned the promises and alliances of their past and fought. A few leaders spoke out against the violence, urging the masses to remember why they had fled the cold north. Others reminded them of their former glory and the might of the Combine Empire. These leaders insisted that humanity adhere once again to those principals to which all had agreed. Explorers and adventurers returned from afar with tales of elves, dwarves, and other strange creatures, as well as descriptions of ancient abandoned cities. A few even came back with limited knowledge of sorcery and the mystic arts. And when that discontent minority of leaders heard all of this, they became both jealous and determined.
A small, frail man of great intellect called Erud led this group, and he formed them into a council. They quickly became irritated, even disgusted, by their fellow man. Leaving a small network of spies behind, the remainder of Erud's followers fled the city of Qeynos and boarded a small fleet of ships. They sailed to the west and landed upon the barren coast of the island of Odus. The land was sparse and uninhabited and quite appealing to the council and their people. They quickly built a city of their own, dissimilar in almost every way to both Qeynos and Freeport, for it was almost entirely a towering castle. Erudin it was called, and within it the scribes and scholars, who called themselves High Men, gathered and analyzed reports, captured books and scrolls, and other artifacts brought to them by their spies. The first human mages since the Combine Empire were born - wizards, sorcerers, and enchanters occupied the great halls of Erudin and grew immensely in both power and knowledge.
The Age of Enlightenment
It came to pass some years later that a small group of Erudites discovered the lost art of Necromancy. They were branded heretics and great conflict arose. For the first time in several hundred years, the Erudites fought. They engaged in a civil war not entirely dissimilar to that which they had loathed and fled from back on the mainland. But there was one very significant difference - they did not use swords and bows, but rather magic, and the result was terrible. Lives by the hundreds were lost, great buildings and structures destroyed, and eventually the heretics were forced to flee Erudin, to hide and regroup in the southern regions of Odus. In one final battle, great mystic energies were released and an immense hole leading to unknown depths beneath the earth was created. Into the sides of this chasm the heretics built their own city which they called Paineel. And while both sides still seethed with anger and hatred towards one another, their fear of what the last battle had wrought has kept any further conflict at bay.
The Age of Turmoil
It is in this age you find yourself, an age filled with wonder. The elder races have begun to reclaim their former glory. The younger races have matured, and an active economy stretches across Odus, Antonica, and Faydwer. And while conflict and battle is hardly rare, it has also been centuries since open war has plagued the lands. A myriad of alliances and factions exist, friend and foe plot and scheme, and the world of Norrath is ripe for action. Equip yourself for adventure, seek allies and knowledge, and head out into a rich world of dungeons, towers, crypts, even planes and realities beyond your imagination. Learn skills, earn experience, acquire treasure and equipment, meet friends and encounter enemies. And whether you assume the role of a noble human knight, a vicious dark elf thief, a greedy dwarven merchant, or whatever suits your desire.
Erudites, Necromancy, and the rise and fall of Miragul
as told by Aradune Mithara, sometimes historian, more often Ranger Lord, Outrider of Karana
Over three thousand years in the past humanity was in its infancy. Mankind dwelled in the center of Antonica, spreading out slowly to inhabit the vast and fertile plains of Karana. Villages appeared and prospered, several reaching the size of towns, and two even became cities -- Qeynos to the west, and Freeport to the east. Humanity, much to the disdain of the elder races who watched from afar, was strong -- it rapidly gained a solid foothold in the world of Norrath and was there to stay.
This is not to imply, however, that humanity was at peace. Early on small groups formed, some linked by similar appearances, others by common goals. Competition was fierce, and when resources grew scarce for one reason or another many groups abandoned the promises and alliances of their past and fought. A few leaders spoke out against the violence, urging the masses to remember why they had fled the cold north. They had broken away from the lands of Halas and their barbarian brothers in the name of peace, and these leaders insisted that humanity adhere once again to those principals to which all had agreed.
Their cry was not totally ignored, and the fighting subsided. Villages were encouraged to trade with one another and to respond to competition nonviolently. An economy based largely on agriculture appeared and the villages and small towns were surrounded by large farms. Most of humanity’s leaders were pleased with this, wanting nothing more than peace and food on every man’s table after a hard day of work. A few, however, wanted more. Even though their people had risen well beyond the standard of living endured by their barbarian brothers to the north, they were not content. Explorers and adventurers returned from afar with tales of elves, dwarves, and other strange creatures, as well as descriptions of ancient abandoned cities. A few even came back with limited knowledge of sorcery and the mystic arts. And when that discontent minority of leaders heard all of this, they became both jealous and determined.
A small, fragile man of great intellect called Erud led this group, and he formed them into a council. They quickly became irritated, even disgusted, by their fellow man. Leaving a small network of spies behind, the remainder of Erud’s followers fled the city of Qeynos and boarded a small fleet of ships. They sailed to the west and landed upon the barren coast of the island of Odus. The land was sparse and uninhabited and quite appealing to the council and their people. They quickly built a city of their own, dissimilar in almost every way to both Qeynos and Freeport, for it was almost entirely a towering castle. Erudin it was called, and within it the scribes and scholars, who called themselves High Men, gathered and analyzed reports, captured books and scrolls, and other artifacts brought to them by their spies. The first human mages were then born – wizards, sorcerers, and enchanters occupied the great halls of Erudin and grew immensely in both power and knowledge.
One of the more adept practitioners of the arts was named Miragul. Unlike and more extreme than the others, he not only abhorred his human brothers on the mainland to the east, but he also grew to hate his fellow Erudites. To him they were both short sighted and narrow. They created schools of thought, categorizing magic into three groups and assigning themselves to three classes: Wizards, Sorcerers, and Enchanters. Miragul found this limiting and thoroughly resented the thought of being restricted to one school of thought or another.
He soon found others who felt similarly. They were a small but growing group of outcasts who often studied forbidden texts and other knowledge generally kept secret from the majority of students. The council was morally and ethically opposed to much of the information gathered afar by their spies. Miragul found that these outcasts not only studied the three schools of magic, but also a fourth. It was called Necromancy and a few lucky spies had returned from a distant underground city (Neriak, it was called, home of the dark elves) with both their lives and also ancient texts describing this art. Miragul was intrigued, and, by using powerful magic, created for himself four identities, four separate countenances and names, and joined all four schools without the knowledge of the council, nor anyone else for that matter.
It came to pass some years later that the council, in its ever growing desire to know all there was to know, both in distant lands and also in its own city, discovered the group of Necromancers. They were branded heretics and great conflict arose. For the first time in several hundred years, the Erudites fought. They engaged in a civil war not entirely dissimilar to that which they had loathed and fled from back on the mainland. But there was one very significant difference – they did not use swords and bows, but rather magic, and the result was terrible. Lives by the hundreds were lost, great buildings and structures destroyed, and eventually the heretics were forced to flee Erudin, to hide and regroup in the southern regions of Odus.
Miragul, being a member of all four schools, was not blind to the implications when the conflict began. He left the heretics before they fled the city, abandoning his fourth identity and siding apparently with the council. But this was only a ruse in order to buy time. He soon gathered every artifact and tome he could discreetly steal and then left Odus entirely, taking a ship back to Antonica and to the city of Qeynos. The lands of men, however, were not only to his dislike, but also filled with Erudite spies. Miragul grew afraid, even paranoid, and soon fled again. He headed far to the north and then to the east, wishing to avoid the barbarians of Halas. After many weeks he found himself near the great lake called Winter’s Deep and he hid there for some time.
While Miragul waited in secret his mind was not idle. He schemed and planned, and looked over every letter of every scroll and tome he had taken from Erudin. Time passed and his understanding and power grew. But he was unsatisfied and a deep hunger for even more arcane knowledge ate away at him. He soon left his hiding place and began to travel long distances in search of more ancient texts and artifacts. His power had grown and confidence overcame his fear of Erudite spies. Once again he cloaked himself in false identity and countenance and traveled the lands of men.
Not far to the south of where his cache of artifacts lay, Miragul soon found another of the new races, the Halflings, and their town Rivervale. The mage feared these small people and their propensity to sneak and to steal, and as his treasures grew in both size and value, he eventually made the decision to move even farther north, and away from all intelligent life. He traveled leagues and leagues, far beyond the range of both Erudite spy and curious Halfling, and eventually came to a vast tundra. This land had no name, and was not until centuries later referred to as merely the Frigid Plain. This frosty and remote environment appealed to Miragul’s heart, for it had grown cold, obsessed with only knowledge and the abstract, and filled with only hatred for others. Creatures with intelligence forced him to be discreet and slowed his acquisition of knowledge and items. He had as little to do with them as he could, only hiding amongst them when absolutely necessary.
Under the icy ground of the Frigid Plains, Miragul created a large network of tunnels and rooms in which to hide and study his collection. He used no labor, but rather deep magic to remove the earth from his way. Room after room, passage after passage, he did create to house his store of artifacts. He split his years, spending one score out in the world, exploring and amassing knowledge and items, returning them to his cache, and then the next dabbling with them, experimenting in one of several laboratories he had created.
Many years passed, even centuries. Miragul grew old, even though he did his best to extend his life using magical means. There was a limit to his enlightenment when it came to aging, and he soon acknowledged that one day even he would die. Only one aspect of death did he fear, and being no longer able to learn and collect wrought him with terror. As his skin grew wrinkled, and his breath short, Miragul’s time was spent less exploring the world of Norrath and more studying the existential. He soon discovered the various hidden dimensions that neighbored his own, the Planes of Power and Discord. He discovered means by which he could traverse these planes, making portals that led between them. But his strength was leaving him, and his journeys into these realities were short and often unprofitable. More and more, his own mortality limited his reason for living, and the specter of death haunted him daily.
The mage’s research into life and death was built upon a foundation he had learned from his fellow outcasts centuries before in Erudin. Necromancy, more than any other art, became Miragul’s obsession. Eventually he discovered a means by which to create portals within his own plane and made them to travel great distances in mere seconds. He traveled back to Odus, to its southern regions, in search of the other Necromancers. Perhaps, he mused, they had unearthed by now a way to cheat death.
The mage soon found that the heretics of Erudin had built a city into a great hole that led to unknown depths beneath the earth. This chasm was apparently the result of that huge civil war from which Miragul had fled centuries earlier. The city, called Paineel, though somewhat suspicious, allowed Miragul to enter and after a time he earned its inhabitant’s trust. Many humored the old man and his claims, while a select few respected him and were willing to trade knowledge for knowledge, power for power. They revealed to him the true power of necromancy, the ability to raise the dead, creating zombies and wraiths obedient in every way to their master. Many of the heretics planned to assault Erudin with vast armies of undead, to wreak revenge upon the council that had exiled and made war upon them in centuries past.
One important aspect of their necromancy interested Miragul, the fact that the undead ceased to age. Their lives appeared endless and the elderly mage knew that he must discover a way to be like them. He feigned interest in the heretic’s goals, learning spells to raise the dead, helping them raise their undead army. All the while, however, he was experimenting himself, hiding much of his research in the small home he was given in Paineel. After some time he discovered that which he had sought, a way to transform a living being, as opposed to a corpse, into the undead. Unfortunately, time was scarce, for he was tired and almost dead himself, his body deteriorating with age, and the heretics were almost ready to make war once again.
Miragul then left Paineel, using a small portion of his dwindling life energies to make a portal back to his cache hundreds of leagues to the north. Upon arrival, he withdrew silently to his most secret laboratory and prepared his final spell. Dreaming all the while of endless exploration and discovery, he slowly made ready his ultimate experiment. The enchantment laced with necromancy was finally made, and Miragul hid his remaining and fragile life within the phylactery, a small device he had pilfered from the other necromancers. Clouds of mystical energy gathered and then dispersed, revealing a shell of the man Miragul once was, an undead mage, what ancient scripts and legends called a lich.
In his haste, however, Miragul had made a miscalculation. The lich, while retaining all the mystical power of his formal self, lacked a spirit. Only the mage’s soul, now locked within the phylactery hidden deep in the cache, retained the ambition and desire to amass knowledge and power. The spiritless lich possessed none of these human traits, and Miragul’s soul screamed in silence as the undead creature began to aimlessly wander his menagerie of wisdom and enlightenment, his rooms filled with artifacts of power.
Ruins of Kunark
While the dragons took centuries to grow and organize, a race of intelligent snake men - the Shissar - assumed the forefront. The Shissar were a brutal race who enslaved the Iksar, using Vanusk's ancestors for workers and food. From their capital of Chelsith in what is now The Overthere, they explored dark rites and forgotten evils which would lay the foundation for much of Iksar knowledge and philosophy.
As learned from the rest of Norrath, nothing is permanent. Eventually, the Shissar angered even their own gods. A horrible plague destroyed many Shissar; however, the Iksar survived unscathed. The Greenmist is generally credited to Bertoxxulous during the Fall of Rallos Zek and his Children.
Over the next several centuries, the Iksar grew to greatness on the buried ashes of their former masters. They migrated outward across the continent of Kunark and formed five principal tribe-states: Kylong, Nathsar, Obulus, Jarsath and Kunzar. This last tribe-state was led by Venril Sathir, a young and powerful warrior-mage, who raised an unyielding army of undead with the assistance of dark magic.
Sathir and his Kunzar armies conquered and annexed the remaining tribe-states under his rule as the first King of Sebilis, the renamed Iksar nation. In order to build his Sebilisan Empire, Sathir brutally captured and enslaved the Hill Giants, Forest Giants and Froglok of Kunark. Throughout Sathir's life, the Sebilisan Empire quickly grew in might, power and grandeur.
The Rule of Rile
King Sathir aged but, of course he did not want to die.To cheat death, he made an unholy pact with Innoruuk to rise, undead and immortal. Rile, Sathir's heir, had other plans and thwarted the ritual. Sathir's soul was trapped inside an amulet that was hidden away as Rile cremated his father's body.
Rile assumed the throne; however, little changed in the kingdom. The son of Sathir seized more valuable land and his ruthless reputation increased under the terrors of his warlords: Kurn Machta and Karatukus and the vampire, Chosooth. By the time these warlords finished, most of the continent definitely belonged to Sebilis ... all but a few pockets of Giants and Dragons.
The Ring of Scale
The Iksar had left the Dragon lands alone, but their threat was easy to see. The Dragon lords convened the Ring of Scale and argued about how to proceed. Trakanon, a poison dragon, advocated swift intervention on behalf of all races against the Iksar. However, Trakanon was voted down and the Ring of Scale decided to intervene only indirectly.
Trakanon and a number of the younger dragons decided more direct action was required. They conjured a squall at sea that destroyed Rile's warship while the King was on board. This action triggered a spectacular war among the Dragons that lasted for almost a half century. Since the Ring of Scale was, in all likelihood, responsible for the capture of our companion, we were understandably curious to learn as much as we could. Vanusk answered only one question with, "There are lesser dragons that fly across Norrath and pluck candidates for slavery to the Ring of Scale."
Atrebe's Iksar Empire
Atrebe, Rile's first-hatched son, then became King. This young Iksar was different from his father. He was reclusive and enamored of the dark arts. All feared his use of the evil magic of the Shissar and his grandfather, Sathir. His foul experiments joined a dragon with an Iksar, creating the Sarnak, a race of intelligent Dragon-men. He also joined a Dragon with a Froglok, creating flying mounts for his armies, the Sokokar. On these flying beasts, the Iksar were deadly. Soon, only the hardiest Dragonkind stood unconquered by the Sebilisan Empire.
Iksar vs. The Ring of Scale
Over the next half century, Dragonkind struggled against the Iksars' airborne army. Atrebe was succeeded by his son, Ganak, a most capable warrior. The war ended inconclusively over the Field of Bone with aerial duel between Ganak on his Sokokar mount and Jaled-Dar, then leader of the Ring of Scale. Both were incinerated by magic and fire.
The Dragons retreated. But, not before destroying the imperial palace and all Ganak's hatchlings in a daring final blaze of revenge.
The Emerald Circle
Instead of a new king, the Iksar nobles created the Emerald Circle, a body of five nobles who wisely worked to enhance the Iksar cities and trade, rebuild the navy, and return prosperity to the empire. Unfortunately, whenever the ambitions of rulers are involved, strife soon follows and the empire was ultimately divided into the original five tribal-states. Even that treaty was soon forgotten, as the tribes began to wrestle for supremacy over each other. Unbeknownst to the Iksar, the Ring of Scale had also rebuilt and was meddling in every alliance and affair, pitting the tribal-states one against another.
The End of the Sebilisan Empire
The slaves revolted in Sebilis. Goblin lords from Faydwer invaded Kunark. The Giants mustered an army and destroyed the warlord outposts before they attacked the cities. The final destructive attack on the Iksar came when Trakanon and his Dragon allies descended on what was left of the Iksar cities and reduced them to ashes and ruins. The grand Sebilisan Empire was no more. Free from Iksar restraints and rule, all the other races established themselves and began warring amongst themselves in their lust for domination.
NERIAK MINISTRY OF INFORMATION
In keeping with your request to find out more about Velious and the recent journeys being made there, I dispatched our spies to gather what information they could. We have had some success, and enclosed are transcripts of letters sent by a recent group of travelers to Velious.
While fragmentary and possibly filled with exaggerations, they do shed more light upon this mysterious land. Our spies are to be commended on the excellent performance of their tasks as that getting copies of these letters was by no means easy.
LETTER TRANSCRIPT RECOVERED FROM FREEPORT:
- I hope this reaches you before too much time has passed. In my last letter, I told you about securing passage on the gnomish vessel IceBreaker, which had recently begun making voyages from the Northern Desert of Ro to the frozen continent of Velious. Little did I know what was in store for me.
- The IceBreaker is not your typical vessel. Built like all things gnomish, it is more about function than form or comfort. I will not bore you with the details of my wretched journey across the Iceclad Ocean. I will also refrain from commenting on the nature of the gnomes who crewed the vessel. Gnomish pirates, indeed!
- Having already made several voyages from Antonica, the gnomes established a beach camp and constructed a rudimentary dock. Beyond that, they lacked for almost any real creature comfort. They made a few short forays inland, but mostly, they stuck close to the landing area, trading with a relatively peaceful tribe of gnolls that inhabited the area.
- Since my companions and I embarked on this journey for the sake of discovery and adventure, we immediately set forth to explore this frozen land. Venturing west from the landing, we came across a tremendous bridge spanning a huge chasm in the ice. Nothing built by the fabled Combine Empire can compare to this massive construction, seemingly fashioned from the bones of a great dragon!
- Across this bridge, and away from the ocean proper, we ran into our first trouble. Giants! And not the giants you may be familiar with. These giants were different. We all know the story about how the giants and other creations of Rallos Zek were cursed by The Rathe for making war upon the gods themselves. That curse does not seem to apply to these creatures, though how they managed to escape divine wrath is still a mystery to me. In any event, they are much more intelligent and organized than their lesser brethren, while every bit as fierce.
- We lost two of our party to a small band of these creatures when first we set foot upon the eastern wastes of Velious, and those of us who survived were scattered. Finding myself alone, I was determined to continue my journey westward. Moving most carefully, and using all that I learned in my many years of adventuring, I managed to avoid several more bands of giants as well as war bands of orcs. Eventually, I came in sight of a large keep, obviously built for giants. Not wanting to venture into what I felt would be a very dangerous place; I struck off in the opposite direction.
- After several days of travel, I left the realm of the giants and orcs. Though, to my puzzlement, there seemed to be signs of some other inhabitants. Old campfires at first, then cleverly disguised structures built into hillsides, showing signs of recent habitation. Imagine my surprise when while investigating one of these structures, I was confronted by a group of odd pale dwarves! While wary around me, they were not hostile, and were able to converse with me in a colorful dialect of Common. They called themselves the Coldain and agreed to take me to their fortress city of Thurgadin.
- Words can not describe this city built under an icy mountain, so I shall not attempt it. Suffice to say that these dwarves are every bit as industrious and hardy as their cousins in Kaladim. I was brought before their king, Dain Frostreaver IV. This mighty warrior welcomed me to his realm, and proceeded to query me for information about the world beyond Velious. In the process, I learned much about Velious itself. The Coldain take a very serious view of their heritage and from very early childhood learn a great deal about their history. It is their firm belief that they were chosen by Brell to inhabit Velious.
- During the ancient days when the first city of the dwarves was under construction, dwarves were sent across the lands and sea to find precious reserves of stone, crystal, and ore for the project. Ships sailed in and out by the dozens bringing supplies for the great city. One fleet of such ships sailed across the South of Antonica to reach the island we know as Odus, where a quartz mine was to be set up in the name of the dwarves.
- Led by the miner and explorer Colin Dain, the fleet carrying several hundred dwarves ran into one of the worst storms Prexus had ever unleashed. The storm raged on for days as most of the dwarves huddled together in the ships' holds waiting for the seas to calm. When at last the storm passed, they found themselves utterly lost. Even the best of the captains and navigators had no clue as to where they were. The stars in the sky could not be relied upon for navigation, as none of them were recognizable to the dwarves.
- Using typical dwarven logic, Colin Dain picked a direction to sail and decided that their only hope was to keep sailing in that direction until they spotted land. As the days and then weeks went by the only noticeable change was that the weather began to get cold. Some nights were so cold that dwarves froze to death on the deck, turned into a statue of ice by the cruel weather.
- Only the determination of Colin Dain kept the dwarves' hopes alive as he moved from ship to ship, assuring the dwarves that they would, "Hit land soon. If not tomorrow then the day after." Eventually Colin's words rang true as the dwarves did indeed spot a gigantic white landmass in the distance.
- The landing proved to be as deadly as the voyage when icebergs both small and large tore the small fleet apart. Not a single ship made it to shore. Most were torn apart far from the land, and many dwarves met Death at the hands of the ocean. Less than a hundred made it onto an icy beach.
- With no serviceable ships, Colin Dain wasted little time leading his people from the shoreline. He knew they would have to find shelter to keep from dying in the cold. He also knew they would need to find wood and other supplies so they could repair their ships and set off for fairer lands. So the quartz miners from the north settled in caves a few miles inland from where they landed. These caves were set into a giant mountain of ice and snow in the northern section of the Eastern Wastes.
- There is an old saying that goes, "Dwarves are like time itself, neither can remain idle." This certainly proved true for the new settlement. The miners quickly discovered that the hard packed ice lying beneath the snow of Velious was as durable and malleable as stone, and ideally suited for construction in this frozen land. They would later discover that the ice, known as Velium, had magical properties as well.
- Through time the cave settlement became a town, and then a strong dwarven keep began to take shape within the mountain. Named Froststone for the ice out of which it was built, the dwarves knew that with the completion of this keep their stay on this strange new land was permanent. Unfortunately the peace of the dwarves was shattered when they encountered another race upon Velious, the frost giants.
- It was with great surprise that the dwarves woke up one day to find their home under siege by an army of giants. The frost giants inhabited the Eastern Wastes and considered those lands their home. They did not take kindly to the puny children of Brell building a fortress along their border. After much battle, the dwarves realized they could not possibly hold out against their large foes.
- In desperation, Colin Dain led them from their new home in the Great Divide to the only place they could go - deeper into the mountains. The frost giants pursued, so a small group of dwarves volunteered to stay behind to allow the others to escape. Colin Dain himself led the suicide ambush, buying his people enough time to escape the giants. From this time onward the dwarves would refer to themselves as the Coldain in honor of their beloved leader. Furthermore, the leader of their people would carry the title "Dain."
- While hiding out in the frigid caverns a Coldain miner by the name of Glight Snowchipper received a vision from Brell. The vision was of a labyrinth of ice where the dwarves could hide from the frost giants. In the narrow passageways, it was hoped that the giants would become lost and fall into the many traps the dwarves would construct. Glight presented his idea to Dain Frostreaver, the son of Colin Dain, who began construction of the labyrinth. The Crystal Caverns were completed in a little under half a century. The speed of the project alone was proof to the Coldain that Glight had indeed been inspired by Brell. These caverns of Crystal would be the salvation of the Coldain race.
- The true test of the caverns worth came nearly thirty years later, when by following a party of Coldain, the frost giants discovered the location of the Crystal Caverns. Slagd Frozentoe of the frost giants led the invasion force of warriors to the cavern, hoping to wipe the hated Coldain from Velious once and for all. Glight Snowchipper, in the fashion of Colin Dain, led the defense, drawing the frost giants deep into the confusing caverns. His magical pickaxe, aptly named Snowchipper, felled many a giant as the dwarves struck repeatedly from hidden passages and around shadowy corridors.
- Despite losing most of his force, Slagd and the remaining giants almost made it to the Coldain city in the center of the caverns when Glight pulled off his greatest and final trick. Thousands of tons of ice and stone crashed into Slagd and his remaining giants after Glight and a few of his brave miners led them down a false passage. Unfortunately it was an act of self-sacrifice as Glight and his fellows were also buried in the avalanche. The miners of Thurgadin still call themselves Snowchippers, in honor of Glight.
- Over the next few centuries strange creatures began migrating into the Crystal Caverns. It was these foes and more which eventually caused the dwarves to abandon the caverns and set out to build a new fortress more akin to Frostkeep. I was cautioned to avoid the old caverns, as they still hold many dangers.
- The Coldain retreated even deeper into the Great Divide. Led by Dain Frostreaver II, they founded the city of Thurgadin, or New Froststone.
- Constructed on the northern edge of the Great Divide, Thurgadin lies within a glacial mountain rich with untouched supplies of velium and other ores. The outer region of the city is carved into the ancient glacial ice, while the inner region pierces the mountain rock where the precious ores are mined.
- The Coldain are determined not to lose this home. Thurgadin is built in a very defensive manner, with passage through long tunnels lined with murder holes being necessary to get to the inner city. At the heart of the city lies Icewell Keep, where the Dain and his council of advisors reside and where he granted audience to me.
- Surrounding the castle are the forges and shops that make up the mainstay of Coldain commerce. Mines burrow deeper into the mountains, some ending in cleverly hidden and easily collapsible escape hatches for easy access into the Great Divide. I have used my meager cartography skills to fashion a map of Thurgadin, which I am sending you with this letter.
- I have decided to reside in Thurgadin for a time, to better get to know my hosts, and to assist them in rejoining the community of beings of Antonica and Faydwer. I feel very secure here in this mountain stronghold, and I think there is much to accomplish.
- As always,
- Solist Kinslan
LETTER TRANSCRIPT RECOVERED FROM HALAS:
- Took the gnome ship, the trip was bad. Ship was too cramped, not built for a Halasman. What is, outside of Halas? Made it to Velious with a strong group of Southrons. Weather was fine, looks like a nice place, plenty to eat, and plenty to fight. Not enough to drink, stupid gnomes lost all the rum.
- Went inland, saw a strange tower, steered clear of it, it reeked of sick magic. Found a large bridge. Would not want to defend it, too big. Crossed the bridge, good country there. Looks like an excellent place to live. Found Kromrif here too. Thought frost giants were all dead. They are not.
- Party was ambushed by Kromrif war band, some died, and others ran. I fought. Clubbed till I went black. Woke up being carried into giant fortress. Saw banners of Lord Rallos, gave homage. Kromrif saw this, nodded.
- Taken to true leaders of city. Kromzek. Storm giants are still alive, and still strong. Someone should hit Margyn McCann over the head, her lore is wrong.
- The King of Kromzek, Tormax, asked me many questions. Found out Kromzek and Kromrif escaped the curse. Kromrif are warring with ice dwarves to the north. Kromzek are trying to expand west, fighting a savage forest claimed by Tunare. They also fight Dragons. Very bad blood between the Velious dragons and Kromzek. Tormax sits on the bones of a dragon queen his sire killed.
- Tomorrow I go out with a war band of Kromzek and Kromrif, heading west through forest to a dragon shrine, to do battle there. May Zek give me strength.
- I am giving this letter to a Kromrif who is going east, to hand to the gnomes. Tell the warriors of Halas that Rallos Zek is strong here. Many chances for battle and conquest. Bring your own beer.
- Breen Everblood.
LETTER TRANSCRIPT RECOVERED FROM QEYNOS:
- When I get back to Qeynos, I'm going to knock a few of your teeth out. I'm still not sure how you convinced me to make this trip, though I'm thinking Crow's Special Brew had something to do with it.
- Leaving the new dock in North Ro, I took a launch that carried me out to the Iceclad Ocean. There I boarded IceBreaker, a so-called ship constructed by the gnomes. Several other people had booked passage for this voyage and were awaiting my arrival, including my comrades Tolan, Breen, and Solist.
- It wasn't a fun trip. The ship's hammers were constantly clanking and banging, those blasted gnomes were making silly pirate noises, and it was cold. It nearly drove me crazy.
- We finally made landing at a beachhead the gnomes constructed, but found little in the way of luxuries. The gnomes even managed to misplace the horrible rum that kept us warm during the voyage. And before you ask, I had nothing to do with that misplacement.
- After looking around the landing, the group of us decided to head west, beyond the area the gnomes had explored. We passed quite a few interesting sights, and a tower I really wanted to inspect, but Solist and Breen both said to avoid it, so we continued on. After crossing a bridge that was so high it made even me dizzy, our luck ran out.
- A group of well-organized giants took us by surprise. Deciding discretion was called for, I managed to duck out of the battle when it was obvious we were losing. Several people, including Solist, managed to escape, while Breen went down fighting, buried under a pile of giants. After the dust settled, I saw the giants carrying Breen off to the southwest and decided to follow them.
- After a few hours of sneaking along, I was startled by a voice behind me. Tolan! The clever ranger had escaped the giant ambush the same way I had, and was tracking the giants and me across the wastes. We continued to follow the giants, and eventually came to a great fortress city.
- With luck and skill, the two of us managed to sneak inside the city. We tried to find Breen, but there was no way to know for sure where he had been taken. The chance of getting caught was high, since the place was crawling with giants. We eventually passed through the city itself, and found ourselves on the edge of a huge forest.
- The giants were working hard to push the forest back, but according to Tolan, they weren't doing well. He said he felt great power in the woods, stronger even than the heart of Faydark. I didn't question his statement; I could feel the life here myself. At Tolan's urging we left the giant city behind and traveled on through the forest. Tolan grew more and more excited, saying he felt we were nearing something amazing.
- Tolan's woods lore gave us no warning when a group of strange flying creatures suddenly appeared. Finding ourselves quickly captured, we were trussed, blindfolded, and gagged. We were carried to the heart of the forest where a gathering of beings awaited us. They would not speak to me. But they jabbered with Tolan for a long while in a strange language.
- Again I was blindfolded and carried through the forest. After some time I was put down and my bonds cut. I was at the edge of a clearing, facing the giant city. Tolan was there, unbound and smiling. He told me I should make my way back to the Iceclad Ocean. I wasn't welcome in this land, and to go any further west would be a bad idea. Dragons would kill me if I entered the shrine they had built on the other side of the forest. That is if I made it that far, since there was always the chance that the forest creatures would decide to have me for lunch.
- When I asked Tolan what he was going to do, he said he would be staying there for a time as a guest. He was a grown man; I assume he knew his own business. Not wanting to overstay my welcome, I took Tolan's advice and said goodbye. I went back through the giant city (still no sign of Breen), across the wastes, and eventually, back to the shores of the Iceclad Ocean, where I sit now.
- I'm going to head back out again soon to look for Breen, Solist, and the others. I wouldn't feel right abandoning them at this point, and besides, it could turn out to be profitable.
As you can tell by reading the transcripts, there is much more to Velious than we first imagined. The war among the dwarves, giants and dragons, suggests great opportunity for us, if we choose our allies carefully.
If you have any further questions, you need only ask, and I shall endeavor to find answers for you.
Your humble vassal,
Ryoz K`Tarn Master Coercer