Tragedy of the Elves
A Brief History of the Puschyenaróda – the Lands of the Elder Forest.
In ages past, the kingdoms of Men ruled the puschyena well and wisely. Their works spanned great rivers, their cities white and gleaming, their villages prosperous, their people content. The Elves, under whose stewardship the Elder Forest had grown from seedlings to great and ancient trees, were glad of Mannish progress – for it meant that they could soon lay down their burdens and journey West.
But the works of Men proved frail – and their hearts greedy.
First they requested, then demanded the right to learn the Songs that Elvish folk used to ease their tasks. Reluctant to impart immortal wisdom to mortal creatures, the Etharch at length directed the Loresingers to teach Men the secrets of skill-magic, so that they might be satisfied. The lords of Men accepted the gift with ill grace; nevertheless the Mannish realms immediately put their new powers to work, raising higher towers, forging sharper blades, and delving ever-deeper into the earth for ores and stone to feed their ravenous appetite for industry.
Thus was sown the seed of Man’s fall.
For in the depths of their mines, Men found something more than metal: twisted, ancient foes of the Elves, locked away from the sunlit lands since the dawning days of the world. The Orcs streamed up from the deeps, a rent in the land spewing hatred and black blood – unprepared, the civilization of Men staggered. And it would have fallen but for the Elves, who allied with the Men to once again send their foes fleeing to the shadows. Yet this conflict was harsher, crueler, harder, more desperate than the aeons-ago banishment. For many Elves had gone West seeking solace, thinning the ranks of Swordsinger and Spearbearer: and denied comfort in their abyssal prison, Orcs had bred and grown stronger – more savage, more brutal, and far more desirious of revenge.
It was then that some among the Elves began to question Man’s suitability for the honor the Elves wished to bestow. For the Etharchs, down through the ages, had intended for all Elf-folk to journey West, and in doing so leave Mankind with the Mantle – the office of steward and protector of the lands of the Elder Forest. Some argued that the war against the Orcs had made Men too savage and proved their unreliability: others insisted that, like the finest steel, Men must have the weakness beaten and burned from them, and that shortly the Mannish lords would rise from the ashes of their forging, strong and pure.
Then the line of Odrysia – the last of the true kings of Men – shattered. The king fell to a palace conspiracy: his sons fled into the Elder Forest, some to nourish the great gnarled trees with their bones and blood. This set off an argument (very nearly an episode of civil discord) among the Elf-folk, who split their numbers among those that sought to give Men a last chance to prove their worthiness to take the Mantle; and those who sought to find a new race of stewards, or simply abandon the effort and go away West. Some among the Elvenkind were so overcome by grief that they turned to Spite and vanished into the darkest places of the puschyena to contemplate their vengeance.
This uproar among the Elves lasted a hundred years. And now the Etharch and her council have made it known: Men may have a final chance. But without a Mannish king’s presence, the land has begun to sour. Foul things creep up from the earth once again: trolls stir from their lairs and warg-howls ring through the Forest’s dim reaches.
It is in this world that our heroes set out to undertake simple task: deliver the Mannish sword of kingship to its rightful wielder. But do the Odrysians need a king? Does the Etharch really believe the race of Men fit to bear the Mantle? Elanthir and Erestor will find out….