Centuries passed. The elves grew great and wise under the tutelage of Elthonell and his followers. Shendon and his divine family carved ever deeper and wider halls, foreseeing the day when they would be filled with their own people. Osgdagor wandered the wastes, growing ever more feral and lonely, and hateful of his former companions. Koram and Andara directed the work of the angels of Heaven, together with Krakentiri and the gold dragons seeing to their duties of protecting the World from the ravages of the dragons. Suliir grew tall and handsome; Flumon grew tall and beautiful, but cold and lonely, for though Suliir thought to woo her, she bethought him too much like her sister, whom she loved and envied at the same time.
Leihos and Annoc grew together, and ever did their love grow deeper. In time they were married, and from them descended the first Elf Kings, born of elven and divine blood. The elves spread across the forests and meadows of the world. From Elthonell they learned the way of the bow and sword; from Kilotara, Thoris, Timar, and Treac they learned the magic of Fire, Earth, Air, and Water. From Elthoniel they learned the secrets of astrology, and the power of the magic of the stars. From Leihos they learned the power of the fire in their hearts and minds; from her sister, Flumon, they learned nothing, for she chose to ignore her sister’s chosen people and wander the wilds at night with the Fey.
During these centuries, too, the Taur Elthon traveled across the World, to see to the various aspects of nature that was theirs to protect. In his explorations, Thoris discovered the Dragon Orbs; he saw their great elemental beauty, but also saw their terrible potential and power. But a spark was ignited in his mind and soul to create something so beautiful, and perhaps, as powerful…
Time passed, as it does. Thoris took it upon himself to create a Great Crystal, as a tool for Law opposed to the Dragon Orbs that personified Chaos. And so he sought out his brother and sisters, and they, too, lent their power to the Great Crystal. Thoris formed the matrix of the crystal out of purest Earth; Treac shaped it with purest Water; Timar infused it with purest Air; and Kilotara formed it in Thoris’ kiln with the hottest Fire. In the end, the Great Crystal was created, merging the natural elements of the World with the divine essence from Beyond, shaped with the will of the Taur Elthon… and corrupted by the thoughts of the Dragon Primeval…
For the very idea of creating the Great Crystal had been planted in the mind of Thoris by the spirit of the Dragon Primeval, which lived still in the Dragon Orbs. And thus the whole was tainted by even this smallest bit of Chaos. But the fruits of that small seed would take many years to germinate and be fruitful.
As the elves grew in numbers and power, the devotions they gave unto Elthonell and the Taur Elthon proved to be mighty indeed, and each of the gods thus worshipped grew greatly in power. This Osgdagor knew, as well as the other gods, and his jealousy grew even further, for though he was fourth of the Elder Gods to find the Cosmic Egg, he knew that he was the least in power, less even than Koram, who knew more than he ever let on.
And so, five centuries after the creation of the elves, and shortly after the creation of the Great Crystal, Osgdagor secretly went to Qnath at his tower on the verge of the Beyond, and there begged that a Divine Council be called, that he could be given his chance to create his own race. Unimpressed by the groveling, whining, and raging Elder God, Qnath nonetheless granted the god's wish, that a council be called… much to Osgdagor’s everlasting anger.
THE SECOND DIVINE COUNCIL
And so the Divine Council was again called in the Vault of Heaven. This time the Council consisted of:
Elthonell (Taur Elthon)
Shendon (Taur Duarg)
Kilotara (Taur Elthon)
Thon (Taur Elthon)
Thoris (Taur Elthon)
Treac (Taur Elthon)
Toreg (Taur Duarg)
Trastara (Taur Duarg)
Jorleg (Taur Duarg)
Ribiza (Taur Duarg)
Martlag (Taur Duarg)
Lishadi (Taur Duarg)
Sharmal (Taur Duarg)
Elthoniel (Taur Elthon)
Lithriana (Taur Duarg)
Leihos (Taur Elthon)
Flumon (Taur Elthon)
Varrik (Taur Duarg)
Madar (Taur Duarg)
Osgdagor was allowed to present his demands to the Council, and was flatly refused. It was believed that not enough time had yet passed to see to the full success of the elves; their growth, and the Taur Elthon’s growth in power, worried many of the gods, who felt it might be unbalancing. However, he was assured that when the time came, he would be given his chance to create his own race. As Shendon was next in line to create a race, Osgdagor expressed further frustration and rage, but was somewhat assuaged by Shendon’s promise that, when the time came, he would give his chance over to Osgdagor, for he was perfectly happy with the Taur Duarg.
It was a promise he would come to regret. Satisfied but little with this promise, Osgdagor once again fled the Council Chamber ere the ending of the Council.
And so the Council decided that the time would come when another race would be created… but it was not yet that time. One thing that was decided at the Council was the elevation of several angels to deific status, for great and worthy service to the gods.
The first to be so invested was Tyrm, a great warrior who enjoyed flying into storms. The second was Ilzara, who had acted as a messenger for the gods. Zaala, who had watched over the rivers and seas of the world, was third. Fourth ascended was Galendar, who had taught many elves magical protections against the dragons. Then followed Ilonda, the fifth to ascend, who, in the absence of the Taur Elthon during their creation of the Great Crystal, had led the chorus of angels in their singing. Sixth, the first of the Taur Dracos, Kabanlari the Gold Dragon, the Great Dragon Mother, who had led no few defenses of the Vault of Heaven against the dragons and the Dragon Queens.
The seventh and last to be granted ascension at this council was Annoc, beloved of Leihos, and the First King of the Elves; not properly an angel, nor quite merely a mortal, his ascension to godhood stunned a few of the Council, and struck Flumon deep into her heart like a dagger.
Following the ascension of the seven, the Taur Elthon unveiled the Great Crystal, to the wonder of all, save Qnath, who sat with an impassive look upon his face. When asked why he did not express wonder at the beauty of the crystal, he simply replied that beauty is ever in the eye of the beholder… and nothing more. He too was the only one who saw the glint of lust and madness spark in the eye of Flumon when she saw the crystal. Elthonell was too taken by the gift presented to him by his friends to even notice his daughter that day…
AGE OF THE FEY MOON
Several fateful developments occurred in the next centuries. First, Flumon, in her growing madness, in her growing hatred of Leihos and Annoc, in her growing lust of the Great Crystal, grew ever further apart from the rest of the Taur Elthon; she would be missed for decades at a time, though in time, few came to miss her.
Eventually, she returned to the lands of the elves, but not as herself; instead she bore a fey guise, as an elf maiden of unsurpassed beauty and charm. In this form she sought to seduce her father and by him get a son; she thought that he, together with the power of the Great Crystal, would be enough to avenge herself on her sweet, darling sister, her vile brother-in-law, and her inattentive father…
And so she seduced her father, and by him got a son, and as he slept after their coupling, stole the Great Crystal from his treasure house and fled the elven lands into the Wild. There, hidden through arts divine and fey, she gave birth to Morda, the Dark Elf. He she taught all manner of hate and spite, inculcated him with the darkest secrets of magic she had learned from the darkness between the stars and in the Beyond, where she wandered from time to time in her madness.
Over the centuries there she gathered the five Dragon Orbs, and with their power and the power of the Great Crystal, performed a great ritual, transformed Morda from a mere god into… something else, a tool, a vessel, a vehicle for all her spite, anger, and madness.
The five Dragon Orbs fled, their power used; tied to the Great Crystal in the ritual, the Great Crystal shattered into six great Shards: Earth, Water, Air, Fire, Light, and Darkness, with many smaller flakes and grains of crystal all about. Her madness spent in the creation of Morda, her mind clear for the first time in centuries, Flumon screamed in horror at the realization of what she had done, while Morda laughed and crowed, gathered up the Shard of Darkness, and left for parts unknown. Thus, in her madness, had Flumon wrought the seeds of the War of Light and Darkness.
Meanwhile, also out in the Wild, Osgdagor sought further the Secret of Creation, to no avail. However, his earlier contacts with the Dragon Queens bore vile fruit, as he sought them out once again and formed an alliance. Suddenly, and with great terror, the dragon attacks on the elven territories redoubled, with ever greater success… all due to the intelligence provided by Osgdagor.
Unfortunately for the elves, their greatest support, Elthonell and the Taur Elthon, were mostly absent at this time, seeking out the lost Great Crystal, the loss of which consumed their every waking moment. In response to the greater dragon attacks and the lack of divine support, Annoc and the elves sought ever greater defenses. Thus they turned to Shendon and the Taur Duarg, for they worked with stone, and they knew stone to be strong.
And so Shendon All-Maker taught the elves how to build with stone, though he did not teach them his deepest secrets, which he reserved to himself to teach to his children’s children. Rather than build within the mountains, the elves instead built atop the mountains, placing their cities in hidden valleys guarded by castle-girded passes; for defense against the dragons they built deep into the earth, but never too deep, and always taking advantage of natural caverns when possible… these were the first dungeons of the World, or so it was thought.
Martlag Longspeaker taught the elves how to forge steel into swords, assisted by the angel Vislak, foremost of the smiths of Heaven. Sharmal Ironfist and Tyrm Storm-Lord taught the elves how to use their swords. No longer able to hunt and gather in the forests and meadows, the angel Jamala taught them how to till fields and grow vegetables and grains. Galendar taught them how to tame horses; from this lesson, they learned how to domesticate cattle and dogs. Cats… well, they seem to have domesticated the elves, so to speak, as they settled in and took to guarding the granaries from the depredations of mice and rats.
And so for centuries, the war of elves and dragons continued. Every time the dragons developed new tactics, the elves responded, inspired and led by the various gods and angels, though rarely during this time did they ever even see their own gods, save for Elthoniel, who worried incessantly after her father and kin.
In the time since he had allied with the dragons, Osgdagor brought unto them something that they lacked: culture and civilization, of a rude sort. Though not the most knowledgeable god, and certainly not given to the finest things of civilization, Osgdagor knew well the basics. From their crude cavern lairs he taught them to build their own halls; rather than destroy the things they stole from the elves, he taught them to value them, and hoard them. He gave them the rudiments of a social hierarchy, and to an extent, he taught them to worship him… though only just, for they truly only revered their Queens.
He also taught them to capture, rather than slay, elves that they hunted. At first this was only to torture them for fun and for information; later, he taught the dragons to keep them as slaves rather than eat them. And so the great halls of the dragons were turned to great underground cities, filled with tormented elven slaves and the loot of centuries of war.
Three hundred years after the alliance with the dragons, in the greatest of the dragon cities, Dor Khaustis, Osgdagor ruled as a king and god, with dragon armies and elven slaves. Here, shortly after his ascension to untold power through the artifice of the Dragon Orbs and the Great Crystal, was Morda the Dark-Elf drawn like a moth to a flame. As he walked into Osgdagor’s throne room, all save the king on his throne turned to him and bowed, for all saved Osgdagor recognized him for what he was: the True Son of the Dragon.
Unmindful of the great danger he was in, Osgdagor, in his wrath at his minion’s devotions to the newcomer, challenged the Dark-Elf on the spot. Morda simply raised the Shard of Darkness, and black lightning struck the Elder God, casting him from his throne writhing in pain even as the Dark-Elf stepped up and sat upon the throne.
Weeping in his rage, Osgdagor cursed his rival and all elves; thanking him for the sentiment, Morda chose to let him live, rather than slay him. But he took from him what little pleasantness he possessed in his visage, scarring him forever with the Black Lightning, reducing him to an appearance little more than that of a beast, though still hauntingly recognizable. Hounded from his own city by the Black Lightning of the Shard of Darkness, Osgdagor fled into the Wild, once again to wander alone…
Morda immediately turned to his elven slaves, and from them he picked the best and most beautiful of the females, and he made them his wives. He got upon them a plentitude of sons and daughters, and from that dark line was born the Dark Elf race, the Drow, each possessing a drop of divine blood tainted by Chaos. For two centuries he molded them into an army, ever keeping them from the sight of their cousins, shielding them with the forces of the dragons at his command.
Meanwhile, his mother Flumon had fled into the Wild, driven by another kind of madness, abandoning the Shards upon the floor of her manor. Sometime during this period, still in her fey guise, she met and mated with a primordial Fey Lord; the result was Kestia the Lady of the Wild, whom for reasons unknown even to herself, she abandoned as a child to the Wild.
Finally, near the end of the age, Elthonell stumbled upon the remains of Flumon’s retreat; her spells had faded, and her protections failed, finally he had sensed the Great Crystal, or rather the Shards thereof. Great was his grief when he discovered the five Shards upon the floor; so great was his grief, he did not notice the greatest piece of the Great Crystal was missing, nor did he stop to think to search out the cause of the shattering, else he would have been more prepared for what came later. Instead, he scooped up the Shards and returned to his palace.
There he was amazed at the great changes that had swept the elven nation; he had not realized in his furious search to find the Great Crystal that centuries had passed! The groans of his people had gone unanswered for long centuries, and now he was almost a stranger in his own home. He summoned the four greatest of the Taur Elthon from their far-flung search, and the five gathered together in his throne room to seek a way to re-forge the Great Crystal.
But after much study, they determined that such would be impossible. Instead, upon the advice of Shendon All-Maker, they chose to create for the Shards a great crown for the elven All-Father, a crown with five tines, each to hold a separate Shard, the centermost tine, host to the Shard of Light, shaped into a dragon with its wings spread wide. For the four greatest of the Taur Elthon, the minor flakes and bits of crystal dust were re-forged into four great gems, each set into a mithral band.
Even as Shendon and many of the Taur Duarg had been busy assisting the elves, Toreg, the first of the Younger Gods of the Taur Duarg, was not idle. The great halls he decorated with statues, as he busied himself with preparing the halls for the eventual arrival of the race to be created by Shendon. Over the centuries he slowly carved out a virtual army from stone, in the form of the Taur Duarg: stout and solid, long of nose and beard, muscled and thick of limb, handsome in a fierce way but certainly not beautiful like the elves. He gave them names, each of them, and spoke to them as might a gardener to his plants. The other Taur Duarg smiled as they saw him about his duties, knowing that he among them all was most eager to help the chosen people of their father.
Events rapidly came to a head. Elthonell was crowned in his great palace, with the great Crown of Shards. Even as he was crowned and his people acknowledged his return with a great cheer, a foul wind blew open the doors, and brimstone and ice showered the gathered crowd. Through the doors entered the Dark-Elf, Morda, upon the back of a great dragon. Behind him were arrayed his ranks of Dark Elves upon great wyvern steeds; the powers he commanded through the Shard of Darkness had veiled their march even into the palace of his father.
Knowing that he could not defeat his father in his own palace, with the Taur Elthon and the elves all gathered, and the hosts of Heaven near at hand, he sought to infuriate him, to challenge him to open battle in the borders between the elven lands and the Wild. He proclaimed to all present his bastardry and parentage, told them of the origins of the Shard of Darkness, and of his desire the wreak revenge upon his father and the whole World. He then challenged his father to battle upon Phar Duin, the Border Meadow, which stood between the furthest elven settlements and the Wild. Horrified by his son’s very existence, and challenged in his own palace, Elthonell accepted the challenge.
Morda left, with his army trailing him, and their stench was never gotten out of the palace or the city around it, and so in short time Aelfindor, the First Elven City, was abandoned and fell into ruin. Before Morda was even out of sight of the city walls, Elthonell and the Taur Elthon were on their way to the Vault of Heaven, where they called the Third Divine Council.
But even as they made their way to the Vault of Heaven, so too was Osgdagor returning thence from his long wanderings alone in the World…
THE THIRD DIVINE COUNCIL
News of the impending battle spread like the wind, even without the efforts of Ilzara, who was great with child, her and Tyrm’s first-born. The Council was called; the following gods were in attendance (at first):
*Elthonell (Taur Elthon)
Shendon (Taur Duarg)
Krakentiri (Taur Dracos)
*Kilotara (Taur Elthon)
*Thon (Taur Elthon)
*Thoris (Taur Elthon)
*Treac (Taur Elthon)
Toreg (Taur Duarg)
Trastara (Taur Duarg)
Jorleg (Taur Duarg)
Ribiza (Taur Duarg)
Martlag (Taur Duarg)
Lishadi (Taur Duarg)
Sharmal (Taur Duarg)
Lithriana (Taur Duarg)
*Leihos (Taur Elthon)
Varrik (Taur Duarg)
Madar (Taur Duarg)
Kabanlari (Taur Dracos)
* These gods left midway through the Council to prepare for war against Morda
The rest of the Taur Elthon were busy readying the defenses of the elves and warning the outlying settlements against the new, strange threat, while Osgdagor was still making his way to the Vault of Heaven. He was not found by the messengers sent by Qnath, as he still had kept up the various wards and protections that he had created against his discovery, which had kept his part in the dragon war unknown to this time.
Even absent these deities, the Council had more than enough for a quorum. Once the Council met, it was quickly decided that all the gods would work together against this strange, unforeseen threat. It was decided that in order to bolster the number of defenders that the Second Race would be created. Once this decision was made, Elthonell and the remaining Taur Elthon returned to the elven realm, to better prepare their defense and to prepare for the coming of the Second Race.
Meanwhile, the remaining Council was caught in a stalemate. Shendon had promised Osgdagor that he could create the Second Rate, but he was nowhere to be found! And then, too, they had no idea of what his current state of mind and power was, for none could recall having seen him for centuries.
Finally, at the suggestion of Qnath, Shendon resolved to forgo his promise to his fellow Elder God, but still he would not create the race himself, saying that if his promise he could not keep, he would not so completely and fully break it. Then Lishadi the Harmonizer spoke up, and mentioned to all that there already was an army available, were it but given life: the statues that Toreg Rockcarver had created over the long centuries of preparation. Rather than being representations of the Third Race, could they not, she asked, be transformed into the Second Race?
THE CREATION OF THE DWARVES
And so it was decided, that Toreg Rockcarver would be given the task of bringing his creations to life. Unprepared for the task, and not knowing in full the Secret of Creation, Toreg was readied by the remaining Elder Gods and Taur Duarg:
Shendon All-Maker gave Toreg his own breath, that he might breathe it into the mouths of his creations, in order that each would have its own spirit;
Toreg, Trastara, Jorleg, and Ribiza each gave them of their blood, that the divine spark might course through their veins; and through them their bodies of living stone were given life, balance, fertility, and health;
Martlag, Sharmal, and Varrik gave Toreg a measure of their own sweat, that their minds might be fused with iron, steel, and a thirst for knowledge and wisdom;
Lishadi, Lithriana, and Madar gave Toreg a measure of their tears, that their spirits might be tempered with love, justice, and a delight in seeking out wealth;
Koram gave Toreg lightning to place in their eyes, in order that they may ever see even in the dark;
Krakentiri gave Toreg the courage of his own heart, that they may face all tasks with pride and honor;
Andara gave Toreg the good fortune of the gods, for as long as they stuck to their task with honor;
And finally Qnath gave Toreg the Wisdom of the Elder Gods, that they might ever know Good from Evil, and discern Law from Chaos. Too, he whispered into Toreg’s ears knowledge that until then only he and Elthonell had known, including such parts of the Secret of Creation that even Shendon knew not, and by this he was greatly empowered;
Finally, the other gathered gods of the Divine Council gave Toreg only their best wishes and hopes, for they wished not to overly burden him with their own thoughts and natures, in order that Toreg’s people would cleave more strongly unto him and the Taur Duarg.
And so Toreg returned to the halls, there to give life to his creations. The other gods remained in Council, to plan further the defense of the elven realm and the Vault of Heaven against the Dark-Elf and his minions.
Thus it was that when the Seven Dwarf-Fathers, the first of the Dwarves awoke to life, though they felt innately the love and hopes of the other gods, they saw and knew only Toreg Rockcarver, for he alone was there with them, and they were alone together in the halls of the Taur Duarg.
Unfortunately, as Toreg was busy about bringing his people to life, Osgdagor passed by the halls of the Taur Duarg, and heard and felt the Creation going on within. Angrily, he burst through the doors of the hall and saw that Toreg was busy at the creation of the Second Race, though he himself had been promised the honor by Shendon and the other gods!
With cries and wails of treachery and treason, he rushed Toreg and demanded he stop. Toreg of course, refused, saying that he had the permission and blessing of the Divine Council. Upon hearing this, Osgdagor grew most wroth and attacked Toreg, who was stunned by this turn of events. Though he was an Elder God, Osgdagor had been much weakened by the assault by Morda, and had still not recovered; still he would have been strong enough to whelm Toreg, had not the Seven Dwarf-Fathers interceded on behalf of their maker. Together they were able to overcome the wrathful Elder God, and he fled, making haste to the Vault of Heaven to challenge the decision of the Council.
After Osgdagor fled, Toreg returned to his creation of the dwarves, but to his great sadness he saw that, even ere they had been turned from stone to living flesh, the dwarves, the smiles of joy that he had carved upon their faces were turned to frowns of anger and vengeance. And ever since have the dwarves been suspicious of strangers, and they have ever loathed Osgdagor and his later creations, the Orcs.
Osgdagor, mad with fury, made his way with great haste to the Council Chamber in the Vault of Heaven. There he burst in, shouting and screaming, ranting and raving, demanding an explanation for why Toreg had usurped his right to create the Second Race. At first the Council sought to placate Osgdagor, but then when he was silent when asked where he had been the last centuries, and why they had been unable to find him when he was so obviously near at hand, they were less apt to deal with him kindly.
Then an angel, sent by Toreg, arrived, and told the Council of how Osgdagor had attacked Toreg in his very own halls, during the very act of the creation of the Second Race! Horrified and enraged by this effrontery, at which even Qnath evinced no little anger, the Council not only did not hear his further demands, they decided that he was to be banned from the Council Chamber, and even the Vault of Heaven, until he had apologized to Toreg and his fellow gods, and accepted such penance as the Divine Council required of him.
Insane with fury, Osgdagor refused to even listen to the Council’s judgment, and cursed and reviled the Council until the bailiffs, led by Amdosias the Mighty, First of the Angels, had dragged him screaming from the Council Chamber and thrown him bodily over the walls of the Vault of Heaven. After he tumbled down the Celestial Mount and into the shadows at the base, he swore eternal vengeance upon the Divine Council and Toreg; ever after, this valley has been known as Vor Dhullen, the Valley Accursed.
Having noted that Elthonell was not present at the Council, he dusted himself off and ran to the palace of the Taur Elthon, where he knew he would find the elven All-Father. Using the mightiest of his powers, he put upon himself the best guise possible, such that he appeared as goodly and kind of form as he had not since he and the other Elder Gods had discovered the Cosmic Egg. Thus when he discovered Elthonell in his palace, the All-Father had no reason to suspect him.
Osgdagor convinced Elthonell that it was he whom the Council had, naturally granted the right to creation of the Second Race. And so with great happiness, for he knew that he and the elves were sore pressed, Elthonell related unto Osgdagor the Secret of Creation. Unfortunately, time was short, and in the long centuries since, even a god’s memory can fail him, so the information related by Elthonell to Osgdagor was incomplete. But both thought it was full and true, and when Elthonell told Osgdagor that he had given him all of the Secret of Creation, Osgdagor smiled horribly, and turned on Elthonell in his insane rage, and sought to choke the very life from him.
Shocked, as stunned by this turn of events as he had been by the appearance of Morda, the Elf God was unable to resist, and fell to his knees at the feet of the mad god. Fortunately, Leihos walked into her father’s chamber at that time, seeking to gird him with his armor. When she saw a loathsome creature attacking her father, for such did Osgdagor now fully resemble, as all his illusions had failed as he gathered his strength to slay Elthonell, she struck at it with a mighty bolt of Sunfire. Any mortal creature, and no few mighty creatures of divine sort, would have died instantly, but Osgdagor was still an Elder God, and so survived, though all the last vestige of goodliness and beauty was burned from him that day...