Penned on July 25th, 1206
The world of Arawyn (pronounced "arrow-win") is a realm of vast adventure and excitement. Within these pages lies the history of the old world and the new.
The world of Arawyn has a history of death and rebirth. The world had come to an end, had seen Armageddon, witnessed Ragnorok, and endured The Great Plague. It had all come so quickly and without nearly enough warning. The prophets had foreseen the end of this world, but even then it was too late. On the verge of extinction, Arawyn was destined to be no more. But as we will soon see, prophecies can be misleading, and even destiny can be averted by the strongest of wills.
A world without hope was blessed with the gift of a second chance.
Greetings adventurer, or knowledge seeker! I am Azura Glyndolyn, a historian of the Realms. My major study has been the ancient history of Arawyn, before its rebirth. The following is an account of the events that led to the destruction of the old world. I have compiled this information over many, many years of traveling, speaking to elders and deciphering ancient tomes. Much of Arawyn’s ancient history has been seemingly lost, but the happenings just prior to the world’s rebirth were salvageable. It has taken me almost my whole life to find and compile this information, but I believe it was well worth it. I am a believer that we can learn from our mistakes. If we pay close attention to why we failed the first time, we can try harder not to fail the next time. Thus I ask of you to read what I have learned, and you yourself should learn from what you read. This is our history and should be read with the utmost interest, for whether you know it or not, it was your ancestors who experienced the end of a world.
The year was 977 OW (Old World).
The Empire of Kormyre was indeed a beautiful sight to see. The nine Kingdoms within were lavishly elegant and well protected from invasion. Those in the inner cities and towns lived peacefully and with little or no worry. The Imperial Knights were a sturdy force and protected the Empire from all its enemies. Advancements in society were being made everyday and everyone had found his or her own comfortable niche in life. The world appeared to be at peace; but appearances can be deceiving. It was only the calm before the storm, and the storm would come quickly.
The race known as Hobgoblins is actually not much older than our new world. In fact the origins of their race began just over a decade before the old world had seen its end. Here is the story as it was told to me from a secretive but reliable source. Just years before the catastrophes began, the Hobgoblins arose from a mysterious and unknown place. They were different from the other Goblins, far more advanced in intelligence, and ambition. They were taller and a great deal more handsome than Goblins were supposed to be. They had the skill, strength and gall to bring the wandering clans together so that they might form their own organized society. Within five years they had made impressive progress, at this point living in large walled cities just north of the human empire.
Many of the clans conformed to the Goblinoid Kingdom and joined willingly. However there were many also, who did not approve of this new government and believed that the goblinoid way was being destroyed. The Hobgoblins did not see it this way; they were advancing their world and improving life for all Goblins.
Those who opposed attempted to revolt against the Hobgoblins. They were angered by these insubordinate lesser beings and the renegade army was slain, tortured, and chased all the way up to the great northern wastes.
The renegade Goblin bands had reached the great northern wastelands and somewhere within, they encountered a being of massively incredible proportions. It towered over twenty feet high and resembled a huge, muscular orc. The creature had four massively built arms and a third large eye in the middle of its head. It had a huge gaping mouth full of fangs, sharper than swords. Its eyes glowed with a blood red hue. It was Uelrog The Ravager and needless to say it was the single most powerful being that the goblinoids had ever laid eyes on. Immediately the armies of Orcs and goblins dropped their weapons and fell to their knees. They worshipped Uelrog as a living god and would follow The Great Ravager anywhere. For years they prayed to Uelrog and anxiously waited for it to lead them south to crush the world, as he frequently spoke of. Finally, four years later Uelrog stood up from his massive mountainside throne and called for his armies to follow him as he ravaged all who would stand in his path. He had called for the destruction of the world, and his followers would do everything in their power to follow out Uelrog’s command. In his mind he was the harbinger of the apocalypse, and when the great storm began two months into his journey, he had his proof.
It came in the middle of the night and without any warning. It had nothing to do with the inhabitants of the old world. No, it was far above them. The gods had waged a war on a level that I could never hope to explain, or understand for that matter. For the past year, priests and religious folk had raved on about how the gods were at war with each other and how the heavens were at unrest. They said that the evil god, Malikar went mad and was attempting to destroy the outer world. The world was not as heavily dependent upon religion back then, so many passed it off as inconsequential ramblings of the religious folk. However, when the earth began to tremble, the masters of the church were taken seriously.
It all started as a low rumble that most had mistaken for thunder, but as the days past by, the storm had gotten louder and louder, until finally the tremors began. Cottages shook violently and the trees quivered in fear. Concerned commoners looked to their nobility, who in turn looked to the church for their answers. The headmaster had warned them that the worst was yet to come, that the gods had only begun their battle. The nobility ordered the priests to intervene, to call a halt to this crisis, but alas this was a matter that was out of their hands. No amount of pleading and petitioning the gods for help would be heard. The storm continued to grow in intensity as an army of lightning blasts devastated the forests and the cities and roadways began to flood. Gail force winds blew around anyone foolish enough to step out and challenge the storms magnificence.
Uelrog strode with wide and powerful steps, each step traveling at a distance of over twenty human paces. It would sometimes have to slow down for its armies to keep up with its great strides. It somehow knew that its only purpose was to destroy the world and it intended to do so. As the army of darkness plowed its way south, it planted the seeds of death and left no living creature in its wake; although very often, large groups of monsters would submit to the army and follow Uelrog on his dark quest. By the time Uelrog had made it halfway to the first of the civilized lands, his army had doubled in size and had consisted of all sorts of grotesque and vile monsters of chaos. When the storm hit, the army of darkness halted and the lesser Goblins and monsters were shook with fear. Uelrog tossed his head back and let out a mighty roar, followed by laughter. Yes he indeed was the herald of death, and his army would continue on without hindrance. This was his command; his word and his army would follow the order through fear of a fate worse than death. He forced them to believe that the storm was his creation, and so they pressed on through it and continued to the south seemingly ignoring the incredible tempest around them.
It was somewhere around this time that the dragons left our world forever. Many of you have probably heard the tales of great beasts of fire that flew in the skies. These tales are true I tell you, and I have dug up a history that recorded the last sighting of these great beasts. After traveling to the great library of Anoch, I began my search for any information leading to these magnificent creatures of legend. After consulting with the residing lore masters and tome keepers regarding existing original texts, I was directed to travel to the castle estate of Lord Antonius Augustus. Lord Augustus was known by those keepers of knowledge to have one of the most extensive, private collections of rare and ancient writings. Upon arriving at Lord Augustus’s keep I was to find that my reputation was to precede me and that Lord Augustus eagerly greeted me as a fellow scholar and one who would truly appreciate the worth of such knowledge. After much drinking and discussion in the study he escorted me to the west wing, where he kept his more closely guarded tomes. What he had to show me were two journal entries whose pages were crusty and stained and the writing was barley legible. Much to my surprise, after a little finagling he allowed me to copy these entries verbatim into my personal record book. It is proof of the possibility that the dragons left our world and did not become extinct as many believed in the past. These entries are as follows.
14th of Sernin 980
To see its magnificence in person, to see the creature in flesh and blood and so up close has always been a thrill to me, but today was different than the others. I could see a thousand years plus, behind its old and heavy eyes. A look from those eyes was all I needed to understand what the great white was about to tell me. They know something that we do not. They are wise and powerful but they have grown tired with the world. Since the first time I met Pernivure, he has spoken of the day when changes in the cycle will force his kind away. I never thought that event would come in my lifetime. But sure enough he told me this morning, that come the next sunrise, dragons will no longer be a part of our world. "Watch from cliffs edge overlooking our valley, from there you may see us for the last time."
15th of Sernin 980
Words cannot describe the beauty and sorrow of what I witnessed this day. Just moments before sunrise I awaited, looking down upon the Valley of Dragon. First there was a calm that is foreign to this area. There were no animal noises, and even the trees did not sway from the early Sernin wind. The silence lingered for a minute perhaps and then it happened. In all my years I have never seen such a sight and probably never will again. They shot up out of the valley and into the heavens, hundreds of them blanketing the sky with their magnificence. Where are they going I wondered, but alas I suppose that is none of my concern. Our world shall sorely feel the lack of your presence. Farewell my friends.
These journal entries appeared by my expertise and examination to be real and not a forged item. The entry date is peculiar to me; Sernin must have been an old name for one of our months. But what is more interesting is that this journal entry mentions the Valley of Dragon, the legendary home of the dragon race, more proof that this place may have actually existed.
The gnomes we have come to know of were an extremely intelligent and mechanically inclined race. To this day our scholars still discover the hidden relics that these tinkerers have created. Their greatest legacy to our world is known as the Gates of Passage, devices that allow inter realm transportation. There are many uncovered devices that to this date defy classification and understanding. As for the gnomes themselves, they were unfortunately destroyed during the march of Uelrog’s horde of darkness and the tragedies to follow. Because this race was hesitant in dealing with other races, not much of their culture is known. The attempt by scholars to have a more in depth understanding of the people have met with failure, due to the fact that Blingdonsmyth mountain was the only known gnomish settlement.
Very little is known about the way gnomish technology works but after much trial and error we have been able to utilize some of their equipment. To this date we do not know how or why it works. Past attempts of duplicating their technology has met with utter failure and at times disastrous results.
Shortly after the horrid army abolished the gnomes, Uelrog set his sights on the elves. The Elven kingdom was debatably the most glorious and powerful of all the civilizations in the old world, however this was to change soon after the arrival of Uelrog. The storm was powerful and had occupied the attention of the elves. They had not even thought to perform their normal scrying of the boundaries, for they figured none would be out and about in this weather. The storm had made the visibility poor and the sound of heavy rain and thunder would mask the sounds of the approaching army. The Elven watchmen were paralyzed with fear when they saw the mighty beast that was Uelrog. Just when they were beginning to regain their senses Uelrog was upon them and the poor watchmen were picked up, eaten, thrown or smashed. Uelrog then lifted his massive arms up into the air and ripped down the walls so that his army of darkness may begin its siege and slaughter. The elves were taken completely by surprise. Many were not ready for battle and were unarmed; those who were armed were helplessly beaten to death by the mighty fists of Uelrog. The chaos army had wiped out massive amounts of the elves and was suffering little to no casualties. Meanwhile Uelrog destroyed the kingdoms walls, the houses, castles and towers, until nothing was left standing tall.
At the far end of the Elven kingdom and as much as it pained them to do so, the twelve Elven elders, and a handful of elite warriors were preparing to depart. They knew that they were leaving their city in the hands of destruction, but they knew also that their was nothing they could do to prevent it, and that the other kingdoms must be warned. They rode off against the fury of the storm on the greatest of Elven steeds, in hope that they would arrive at the human empire of Kormyre in time to make a difference.
The massacre had gone on for almost half a day, and the Elven kingdom was set ablaze. Well over half of the Elven population died that day and most of the Elven civilization was razed to the ground with the destructive force of Uelrog, everything else tasted the flames of a torch. Although there were many more elves left, Uelrog seemed to be satisfied with the massive death and destruction that they had already caused. Uelrog began to call his army back to the gates so that they may continue on and leave the pitiful survivors to wallow in their brothers’ blood.
On the greatest of Elven mares, it was a three day journey to reach the empire of Kormyre. An entire army of monsters, marching on foot, would take at least five times as long, which gave them about a twelve days before Uelrog’s army would appear. The elders had little trouble convincing the humans that a great doom was fast approaching. With great speed, messengers were sent to the nearby Dwarven mountains, and the newly formed Goblinoid kingdom. If what the Emperor saw in the elders scrying ball was true, if this army of darkness did indeed raze the glorious Elven kingdom, then they would need all the help they could get.
The Dwarves answered the call with haste and sent scouting parties to the west, and armies south to join the empire of Kormyre in what was to be the bloodiest war in history. The Hobgoblins on the other hand displayed distrust and did not feel that they were at all involved in the situation. They had thanked the emperor of Kormyre for the warning, but refused to send armies to aid in the empires battle. And so the empire prepared its greatest armies for the oncoming horde. However they were at many disadvantages, the fact that the world was currently blanketed with darkness and a thick fog did little to help. For most monsters and goblinoid types this was not a problem as they where used to fighting in such conditions with their animalistic senses, but the humans were at a distinct loss for visibility. And the poor Dwarves could barely stand taller than the lower, thicker blankets of fog; however they were many, and the Dwarves where equipped in the best of black mithril armor, and wielded the best weighted of axes and war hammers. The war generals decided it was best for the well being of the citizens, to engage the enemy as far from the cities as possible. After seven days of preparation, they began their determined march against Uelrog.
The defending army marched as far from the center of the empire as they could. They nearly reached the edge of Arkovnia when the sound of agony erupted in their ears. But the cries that they heard was not what they had expected. The sounds of battle, the roar of a monstrous army, no these things were not heard. It was the silence, laced with cries of despair and pain. As the army rode upon Arkovnia’s capital, the smell of death traveled in the air. And as the fog parted and revealed the broken city, they had known that they were too late. The army of darkness was already upon them. Where was the army now they thought, perhaps it had changed course or turned away for some unknown reason. Unfortunately for them that was not at all the case. As if cloaked by some strange magical force, the shadows twisted and warped around the defending army.
The horses stirred and reared violently shaking off their riders, killing many of them instantly upon impact. The forms began to take shape and solidify into the beings that were the destruction of this planet. Blood, death, and despair lie in waiting for the human empire, as the dark army cut a swath through them like flies on the corpses that littered the city. The battle lasted eternity and a day, it seemed to many. They had the advantage of vision over the humans and Dwarves who were so blinded by the fog that they could barely discern friend from foe. But the monsters were not without their own casualties. As blind as the imperial army was, they were the elite. With or without sight, the heroes of this battle were truly lords of valor and spilled much of their enemies’ blood.
It was said that the war was Arawyn’s bloodiest and that the human empire had never before been so overpowered on the battlefield. The Empire with the combined forces of the Dwarves was no match for the dark army. It was soon after the Hobgoblins arrived, that the tides began to turn. They had originally refused to be involved, but for reasons unknown they did appear on the battlefield, and they made their presence known. The Hobgoblin legionnaires were a mighty force to behold. So unlike typical Goblin war bands, they were as organized and as unified as any royal army. The Hobgoblins had no trouble fighting in the harsh conditions; they did not need to see their enemy, for their monstrous instincts landed their blades true. Perhaps Uelrog had known that his army was struggling under the force of three armies or more widely believed is the theory that Uelrog had an exact destination to arrive at. In either case Uelrog left his army behind to fend for themselves and plowed through the empire, heading East.
Finally the storm began to subside and for the first time in ages, it seemed, the clouds parted for the sun. It seemed as if the worst was already over, that things were about to get better for the beings of the old world. However all was not as it seemed and things were only going to get worse. Villagers came out of their cottages to cheer at the sight of the sun and the sounds of the songbirds. They had picked up their tools and were eager to begin repairing the damages left by the ravaging storm.
Everyone was startled by a sudden rumbling noise that erupted from the soils below and the earth trembled once again. Just then the very land itself was torn asunder, villagers and buildings both consumed in its unending depths. Huts that had once been merely feet away were now across this massive void. Children frolicking in the renewed day were ripped from their mothers, the cries echoing across the canyon. The few remaining farm animals left from the war plummeted to their deaths, the unyielding earth swallowed up the small stores of food. It was whispered by giant eagles that Uelrog had been standing at what is believed to be the epicenter of the rift. Though he struggled and thrashed with inhuman voracity, he only destroyed the rocky crags that were supporting his mighty girth. Even with all of his strength, he could not pull himself up and out from the gaping maw of the land that he had held fast to, and finally plummeted to his death. Or so it is believed, none have ever descended into the rift to check. The remaining hordes of Uelrog, shattered by their lost god, were driven far north back to the great wastes. There they have remained, awaiting the second coming of Uelrog.
They thought it to be over and they were wrong. I cry for our ancestors, what could they have possibly done to receive such punishment. Man, woman and child all fell to the ground boiled with disease. A great plague had befallen Kormyre. The source of the scourge was never proven, but it was widely believed that all the stinking, rotting corpses left in Uelrog’s trail released the slow death. The plague was so potent that all the lands within the empire, and even those surrounding felt its poison breath. The plague was contagious through physical contact, and borne on the very air itself. Unfortunate victims of the plague suffered painfully from sweats and delusions for weeks, sometimes months before death was gracious enough to save them. The plague knew not the meaning of the word mercy; it took the lives of almost an entire generation worth of young children, who seemed to be especially susceptible to this living nightmare.
Time was closing in on the people of Arawyn, and the extinction of humankind in the empire seemed inevitable. Word of the human's weakness spread throughout the land quickly and their enemies were even quicker to take advantage of the situation. The Hobgoblins, regardless of the fact that they just fought alongside the human armies as allies, saw this as a blessing from their god and prepared to launch an attack upon the Empire. Armies of Hobgoblin legionnaires suited up for battle and prepared themselves for a slaughter. Misinformed about the cause of the human's weakness, the Hobgoblins did not know that they themselves were marching to what could have been their own demise. Led by the Grand General Granok, elite bands of Hobgoblin legionnaires attacked in swarms. First fell the city of Avondale soon followed by the town of Vollka.
General Granok then made a tactical error of setting his sights too soon on the mountain citadel. For when they reached the first line of defense, Covens Keep - a colony of Dwarves, they were surprised to see the militia healthier than ever and ready for battle. Taken by surprise, the legionnaires backed down as Dwarven berserker squads plowed through the front lines, and immediately took the offensive position in the battle. For you see, Dwarves were innately immune to the black plague, and other human diseases. The goblinoid armies were pushed back beyond the city of Vollka, before they finally retreated back to their empire. Little did they know they were bringing with them the same air driven disease that had weakened their enemies.
Here are the last accounts of the old world. I have pieced this story together through many stories that I myself have been told by others. Death loomed about and darkness blanketed the land. Many began to make peace with those around them and prayed that the after world would be more forgiving. With all the catastrophes that had taken place in the last year, even the emperor himself had accepted the idea that the world was finally coming to an end. The high priests prayed for answers and guidance, but the gods remained silent, another sign that all hope was lost.
Yet there existed one man who still believed in the value of life, one man that knew in his heart not to give up yet. Some say he had flowing white hair, long as lover’s whispers. He was restless, atop a lonely jade tower. He was the founder of a very ancient and secretive order, one that battled the forces of darkness on a higher level than you or I. He was known only as the Silent Knight, the fulfiller of prophecy and he had other plans for the outcome of this world. He, and he alone, knew that hope still remained. He realized the chances of overcoming the catastrophe were still rather feeble. Lost in meditation to the gods for many days, he pleaded with them to release the realm from this pestilence.
One night he was struck with a vision, or maybe a mad senile episode, this historian will never know. His hallucination showed a sacred tomb buried and forgotten in the depths of his own jade tower. The excavation began immediately. A team struggled to remove the debris and start digging beneath the ruined tower. The mysterious knight would allow no rest in this holy endeavor, working his men all day and night, until they found a box of gold. Once the cover was pried off, a large greenish diamond was found. This had to be the fabled Arduenna stone. This single stone held such power, such glory, it’s light showered the dank cavern. The men all fell weeping to their knees with the majesty of it all.
The knight blindly ran back to ground level; his aim clear and true. Past the crowd that had gathered at the excitement, through the lower reaches of the tower, up and up a winding spiral staircase in to a long unused room. The knight knew that the Arduenna stone had to fit into a pedestal under cobwebs and eons worth of dust, a forgotten altar in the center of arcane symbols etched into the floor. Heaving with the effort, weeping because he could not believe he had found the stone of salvation, he touched it to the altar. With majestic heavenly force, the once beautiful tower erupted into blue flames burning fiercely towards the heavens. The townspeople were aghast, and then terrorized, and ran as fast as they could away from the pillar of flame. The fire churned and grew stronger, until the tower could no longer contain the magic called forth by the stone. The jade tower exploded into millions of scintillating shards releasing a magical wind, powerful enough to blow across the land, breathing the cure to all those who had been slowly dying. Within a few sunsets, all traces of disease were wiped away. On the blackened earth where the tower once stood, some devoted believers erected a small cathedral to the Silent Knight’s martyred soul. Though he died in the catastrophe, he called forth the healing wind, and thus salvation from the long dark night.
The survivors of this era were few and it was a miracle that our people did not die off into extinction. Man rebuilt the land as best as he could, while the women mourning the loss of their children, tried ardently to have many more so that one day the cities would once again be filled with life.
So ended the Old World, and so began a new one...