Tales from Forgotten Europa
The Truth of the Origin
It is often the unexpected events that bring about the greatest of changes. Just as a butterfly’s wings can alter a storm hundreds of miles away, so can a simple thought create ripples in the very threads of time. This is the nature of things, and the fickle temper of the status-quo has long been a thorn for those calling themselves gods. For even gods are not impervious to harm, and their spheres of influence are not limitless.
The nature of the universe is controlled by two things: It is governed by rules that, though simple, can create extremely complex systems, and Lady Fate, a fickle and subtle compulsion that occasionally manifests her will and spins the universe upside down. It is a delicate dance between these two, like a carefully choreographed ballet, that balances the universe upon the thin fabric of reality.
Only once the universal forces were thrown out of balance. Only once did the Rules and Fate misstep in their elegant dance. But once was enough to start a storm that would result in the world we know today. Whether it was Fate herself, following a will to hear a new song, or a result of the system of Rules, a singular achievement of perfect randomness, no one really knows what triggered the event, or what its reason or purpose was, not even gods.
This one instant in time resulted in a being of tremendous power and strength ripping through the tapestry of reality. With all the savage will of a thousand suns it spilled its poison upon the prime. Called Navnløs by gods, it possessed neither reason nor purpose. And prime, being connected to all other planes, allowed it to wage merciless and senseless destruction upon all beings it could find. It was unstoppable, impervious to harm, and hope was all but lost for the battle-worn universe. The thin fabric of reality was unraveling fast, and it would seem that no one could stop it.
In the final moments of hopelessness and despair, a powerful being from Allysium known as Amlarúil forged a pact with Beordun, ruler of Asgard, and Gillitongue, Master of Olleand, and devised a plan to imprison the creature that threatened to destroy their home planes.
The First Council of Three, as it later became known, engaged lesser beings of all kinds to build the prison and called it Midgard. In exchange for their help, The Council agreed to share the prime with other beings and not interfere directly with their own machinations.
Though many beings helped and some even hindered, it was the Three that did most of the work. Asgard forged a world out of stone, earth, and metal; Allysium spun the prison within, breathing the weave that would bind its captive, and Olleand created the core and heart of the trap, dressing it with beauty and warmth, thus luring the beast and trapping it forever…
Or so was initially thought. For the prison was imperfect, weakened on purpose by some and flawed in its design by others. For a while it held, but the Three saw for what it was, and so The Second Council was convened.
Once the flaws of the prison became known, the eldest and wisest of Asgard, Eileifr, quested to find the ficklest of beings to learn the future of his realm and the realms of others. He sought out Fate herself and in exchange for one of his eyes she revealed to him that the prison will one day break open, and the creature bound within will consume the prison that holds it. He learned that with enough help the creature will be defeated and a new mortal world will be born out of the ashes, but that in the final struggle many will perish. He shared this information with The Second Council, and it was then that a schism formed between the would-be-gods. For each race of beings interpreted the prophecy differently, and so each chose to pursue a different means of preparing for the future. Not being able to agree on a common course of action, they parted ways, never to convene again.
Amlarúil, ruler of Allysium, believed that a watchful eye can prevent the prison from collapsing and forever maintain its fragile structure. She seeded a race of immortal beings to roam Midgard, ever present and ever watchful, guarding it and fixing any damage before the prison fails. Elfs, as they came to be called, possessed all the qualities of Allysium, and being innately arcane, are attuned to the beast within and are ever-vigilant. Or at least were, for Amlarúil’s cold and calculated sacrifice of the fairest of races was bound to one-day be judged by her immortal subjects.
Beordun, ruler of Asgard, felt that the prophecy called for an army of warriors and craftsmen to stand with Asgard in the final battle, and so he forged a race of Dwarfs to hone their battle prowess in the mortal world and await their fate in the next.
Gillitongue, Master of Olleand, did not want to pursue the war any further. He and his kin accepted the finality of their existence and felt that what time they had left would be much better spent in merriment, happiness, and enjoyment of simple things. His kin created a race to reflect that, for it seemed such a waste to have a world filled with beings focused on guarding the prison or destined for war, and nobody left to enjoy the beauty or cherish the chance to stop and live in the moment. Hoping the other races might see that there’s more to existence than just the predetermined path, he created Haflings, short and hearty beings focused on life, accepting that it is finite and making the most of it.
In the early days of Midgard and for a hundred millennia Midgard seemed to be a peaceful heaven. Each of the three races lived in harmony with their creators, becoming devout worshippers and proving themselves as the mortal reflections of their gods.
Elves, attuned to the weave and proud in their immortality build massive kingdoms and spread throughout the continents. They were truly the masters of Midgard, though no dwarf would admit it, and no halfling would care.
Dwarfs built underground cities and created masterworks that the world has not seen since. If a few relics of that time still exist, then no one would know of their true origin. Dwarfs mastered the art of battle and made their gods proud with each accomplishment. Some even mastered alchemy and arcane arts, learning from the elves, further pushing the limits of their crafts.
Halflings, on the other hand, did exactly what they were created to do. They inhabited hills, fertile plains, and steppes, living simple and peaceful lives free of purpose or concern for future. They did not bother the might races but instead kept to their own affairs.
Mortal toil, it would seem, was unraveling as per the gods’ design, and millennia passed in certain harmony.
As all good things come to an end, so did the harmonious life in the prime. Triggered by the greed of a Dwarf-King digging too deep, the world cried out in agony when its crust was split open from within. A portion of the prison collapsed and the entire North Pole was engulfed in the influence of Navnløs.
The corruption that spilled from the opening forever reshaped the world of mortals. Old continents gave room to new ones. Plains became tall mountains and plush forests transformed into barren deserts. A large continent perished when two tectonic plates slammed against each other, killing everything and everyone on it and giving room to what is now Europa. It was once part of a magnificent elven kingdom, yet all that remains of that time today are two small isles to north-west. A dwarfen kingdom in the East, known for its advancements in metallurgy and steam-powered technology, was crushed by mountains that appeared out of nowhere, buried thousands of feet under stone and earth. And large portions of the southern realms were shifted further south and exposed to tremendous heat, slowly choking the life out of once-vibrant cities. One elven kingdom, once the heart of forest of legendary red-woods, trees reaching as high as two hundred feet, became a desolate land now known as The Great Anvil, a desert haunted by the ghosts of the elf-princes, buried under dunes of brutal sand.
Some changes were instant. Others took centuries to complete. During that time each race coped with the altering landscape and the aberrations and monsters that came from the north in its own way.
Halflings knew not what had happened, for their kind did not keep long history or concern themselves with the bigger world. Many perished in the initial onslaught, and the rest hid as best they could in the hills and plains, waiting for the storms to pass.
Dwarfs, being dwarfs, assumed the worst and prepared for the End. Many hid deep within the ground waiting for the Call that never came. Those that didn’t, and those that lived in the empire to the North were corrupted by Navnløs, and turned into mindless barbarians bent on destroying the world. A war ensued that lasted a thousand years, with heavy casualties on both ends, and continuing for many years after the fissure was contained. Chaosdwarfs, as the twisted creations were dubbed, were all but wiped out, and any memory of the lost kingdoms or tainted creation was purged by the remnants of the once-great race.
Elfs, knowing full well the meaning of the fissure, amassed everything they had: their armies, their wealth, their feats of arcane achievement and epic engineering skill and took everything North, expecting to close and seal the fissure, and hoping to prevent the destruction of their world. This was not an easy task, and not all agreed with this course.
Having the wisdom of ages and benefit of immortality and free thinking, not all elves agreed with their gods. It was hard to swallow the ‘noble’ purpose of trying to accomplish something that the gods themselves could not. There was one among them, the greatest and noblest of Elf-Kings from the East that was wise enough to see beyond the original design. He saw the flaw in Amlarúil plan, understanding that if the gods could not fix the prison, the how could their creations, sown in their image, accomplish just that? He saw that the elves were doomed to fail, and that locked in eternity and lacking the urgency of a shorter lifespan their progress was slow and their means too calculated. How can order possibly contain something that is chaos? How can a planned attack ever defeat a random enemy? He saw this and he wept, foreseeing the ultimate doom of his great race.
Being a particularly accomplished sorcerer, the Elf-King saw that the elves would fail, but perhaps they could leave a legacy that had the ambition and drive to succeed. In his gruesome laboratory he dabbled with the forbidden arts and sought to create a new race of beings that could one-day replace the elves and succeed where they might fail.
Dubbed Witch-King for his blasphemous practices, he proceeded to create a race unlike his own, combining all that is best and worst of the founding races. He took the qualities of halflings that made them enjoy their mortal life. He took the warcraft and drive of a dwarf, and combined it with the capacity for learning of an elf, and gave life to a new race of beings, calling them humans.
A great rift opened within the ranks of Elves. Most elves believed in the capacity for their race to fulfill destiny and spending every last bit of wealth, they bent the will of their entire race and marched North. The Witch-King, having seen the future, went north with the armies, knowing he would not return. He ordered a smaller number of his loyal subjects to stay behind in the East, and to nourish the great experiment, hoping that one day it will reach its full capacity for greatness.
The Great Barrier
As predicted by the Witch-King, the efforts of the elves failed to seal Navnløs within its prison. It was not an utter failure, for in their sacrifice the elves managed to rebuild a portion of the cage and reseal most of the opening. It was not perfect, but to this day chaos reigns in the far North, but it does not grow, and its influence is limited.
The great barrier built by the elves was buried under layers of stone, snow, and ice, giving birth to a large ice cap known as the Arctic. Yet most elves perished. Only one in fifteen thousand returned from the task. Those that returned had faced mortality, and something else. They had seen that the Witch-King was right, and that they were destined to fail.
Worse still, Navnløs had twisted and mutated many of the elves that had braved the fissure and transformed them into hideous creatures, giving birth to the Ork. It is the source of the elven hatred of these creatures, but they will never speak of it.
Those that did return came back to ruins. Their civilizations had been crushed, and the accomplishments of a hundred thousand years were all gone. Broken, disheartened, and with no hope of peace, the last of the elves scattered throughout the world forming small communities and awaiting their end.
Emergence of New Races
… goblins, giants, flying creatures, skathen, undead …
The World Today
... as described in the ‘known’ section …