The Third Age of Elgardt - "The Mage Wars"

- An address to a new intake of hopeful Mages, by Thyméon Landis, Senior Professor: History, University Arcana.

Introduction Edit

“Did you know that Magic will kill you? How many of you knew that?”

Don't you mean CAN, sir?

“No son, I don't mean CAN.. I didn't say can, and I didn't mean can. I said will, and I meant WILL.”

What, do you mean, like – killed by spells?

“Well, yes of course there are plenty of spells that are capable of causing physical trauma that would certainly result in death – but no, that's not what I'm talking about.”

How can you possibly know how we're going to die? What if I walk out of here and fall down the stairs?

“Look here children. Now, yes, the life of a Mage out there in the world is hard – and there's any number of folk who'll end your life soon as look at you. Maybe you'll die on a sword. Maybe one of those Luminous crazies will burn you at the stake. Maybe you'll fall in a ditch and break your stupid neck; but I guarantee you this – not a one of you here, not a single one will die at peace, an old man in your bed. You know why?”

Uuh, Magic?

“That's right. Magic.”

I don't understand, Sir.

“It's in your blood son. If you've ever cast a spell – you've got Magic in your blood, and it's sure as Shadows gonna kill you.”

Okay. How?

“How? Well, it's poison is how! Most of you here started casting spells well before you walked in the walls of this University, am I right? Nobody learns magic that hasn't got the gift for it – hasn't got it coursing through their veins from even before they were born. You can't become a Mage by studying. You either are, or you aren't.”

Oh, great! So I was doomed from birth then?

“Long before that, boy. You and I, we were doomed from the moment those Dragons fell out of the sky, way back when – during the War of Shadows. 'Twasn't their fault. They didn't know. They were just trying to help – and help they did too. Bit of a lose, lose situation for you and me. If they'd never come – wouldn't none of us be here. But 'cause they did – the world is tainted by Magic, an' that Magic got in your blood and mine, and it's killing us slowly...

Recovery from ShadowsEdit

With the death of the Tolvek, son of Torrigan – the armies of the Shadow King dispersed, and the free people of Elgardt turned to the task of rebuilding their shattered lands and picking up the pieces of lives long disrupted by war. The Third Age of Elgardt had begun.

Birth of the DragonkinEdit

With the House of Elswain all but destroyed, and shamed by the actions of Tolvek; the people began to search for a new ruler. Many stepped forward to take up the mantle of regency, and a council of representatives was formed from all the free people of Elgardt to determine who would take over the throne of Elendore. They met in the city of Oxenbridge, and deliberated for many days; weighing up each candidate for their merits and achievements. After twelve days, the council reached a consensus - declaring that the Dragons – the Terra Draconis should rule over Elgardt.

Reluctantly, Belkön – who was foremost among the surviving Dragons took up the crown. So that he might better know the people who had elected him their leader, Belkön became the first of the Dragons to sacrifice his Draconic form – condensing his spirit into a body not unlike that of a man. Though he lost much of his power in the process, Belkön retained a potent Arcane link, and passed his knowledge – as well as his seed, on to the human race. Belkön's children became the first of the “Half-Dragons”, or “Draconis Sapiens”.

Belkön's rule was a time of peace, reconstruction, and growth for the empire of man. Though the ties of their alliance remained strong - with the threat of the Shadow in recession, the races of Elf, Dwarf and Man largely went their separate ways – Man to their cities, the Elves to the forests, and the Dwarves to their mountains. The remaining Terra Draconis were at this time a great boon to the people of Elgardt, using their size and strength along with their knowledge of magic to rebuild after the damage of the war, and bring healing to the lands. Many architectural marvels were accomplished during this time, the like of which Elgardt may never be able to replicate.

Within five years, with much of the reconstruction work done and the servants of Maelanon showing no signs of returning – the role of the Dragons became unclear in the eyes of the people. Though there was comfort to be found in their benevolent protection, it became apparent that the land could not support the corporeal needs of so many creatures of such colossal size. As hunger and want began to affect the little people, they soon forgot how much they owed the Dragons, and began to grumble against them.

The Dragons Sleep Edit

And so Belkön met with his kin, and discussed with them a plan to meet all of Elgardts needs. After some deliberation, many more of the Dragons agreed to sacrifice their Draconic form, taking up the body of a mortal men, and integrating themselves into human society. For many others, the life of a mortal man did not appeal to them, and they chose instead to enter into the “stone sleep”; a death-like state of hibernation. These Dragons laid themselves down and became as rock, and now form the area known as “The Dragon Isles”. Four of the Terra Draconis were selected to remain, each assigned a corner of Elgardt to watch over and protect; Bealdon the Red was sent to the North, while Aramoth the Grey became the Guardian of Elendore. Khármen the Gold was the Protector of the Southern Desert, and to Khörl the Bronze was given the North Eastern Peninsula. With a single Dragon guarding the land, and subsisting off its bounty – the realm of Elgardt knew a time of unparalleled peace and prosperity under the reign of Belkön of Elendore.

Though Belkön remained high-king of Elgardt through the seat of Elendore, it was during this time that Elgardt was divided into four distinct regions, each with their own regents, governing bodies, customs and territories. The four kingdoms maintained harmonious relationships throughout Belkön's reign and beyond, each acknowledging the sovereignty of Elendore, while maintaining control of the affairs of their own state.

Belkön's dragon blood granted him long life – but he was not immortal. He reigned over Elgardt for one hundred and fifty six years before he died – leaving behind a legacy of five children, fourteen grand-children, seventy great grand-children, and two hundred and seventy three great-great-grand-children. All of Belkön's family carried the blood of the Dragon in them, and were natural, powerful Sorcerers.

Three hundred and seventy years after the defeat of The Shadown King, Khörl of the North Eastern Peninsula became the last of the Terra Draconis to lay down his head and sleep eternal. For some thirty years since the death of Aramoth, Khörl had split his time – travelling on rotating schedule to all the lands of Elgardt, meeting with their leaders and keeping watch for the return of The Shadow. Prior to his death, Aramoth had founded “The Order of Light” - a group of remarkable mortals dedicated to the service of Alphamus, and to ensuring that the Shadow King could never again find a foothold in the Mortal Realm.

Though the line of Belkön still sat the throne of Elendore through the Empress Thiata, the death of the last Dragon left a power-vacuum in Elgardt. In his life, Khörl had overseen the regulation of the Arcane Schools – ensuring that Magic was used in a safe responsible manner. None dared challenge the Dragon, but with his death - the most powerful beings in all of Elgardt were now the Magus; and it did not take them long to realise this.

Rise of Magic Edit

Though they did not directly challenge the ruler ship of their respective regions, the Magus soon formed a dominant upper class in all the major cities of Men. With the de-regulation of Magical Studies, many Mages began to dabble in previously uncharted styles of Magic, and the pursuit of greater knowledge and greater power began to possess many a high ranking Mage.

Several new schools were established to train young hopefuls in the use of Magic, with four rising to prominence throughout the realm. The Darkaan University was established East of the Odean Mountains, and The University Arcana was formed in the North of of the Khörl Peninsula, The School of Ultenn was founded North of the Straight of Dalmain, and The Rylonian Institute in central Aramoth, North-East of the Dragon Isles. Each school had their own philosophies of magic, overseen by a council of Grand Magus. The schools began to recruit talented young Sorcerers and Mages from across the realm.

The Schools of Magic  Edit

The Darkaan University – Founder: Mord Darkaa. Edit

Mord Darkaa was of the belief that magic was a gift from Alphamus intended for his prime-creation – humanity. Due tothis xenophobic mentality, no race other than Human has ever been accepted into the Darkaan school. Darkaa also sought to eliminate the practice of Sorcery, that is “the use of Magic by unauthorised and untrained individuals.” It became a prerogative of the school to hunt down and destroy those that they deem to be “Hedge Wizards”, and in the lands around the Darkaan School -the practice of non-sanctioned magic is punishable by death.

University Arcana – Founder: Unknown. Edit

Housed in a mighty castle carved from the heart of a mountain using sheer magical force, the University Arcana was setup as a scholarly establishment; focusing on research, experimentation, and the pursuit of perfection. The Mages of the University Arcana tend to be fairly insular – not to the exclusion of the outside world, but simply as a by-product of such intent focus on their studies. Those who leave the University do so with a great wealth of knowledge, and very little life experience.

The School of Ultenn – Founder: Ultenn Kiallo. Edit

This school focused on experimental magic, specifically the arts of summoning. The Ultenni blurred the borders between realms, and learned the ability to use magic to imbue, or manipulate the spark of life in objects and creatures. It was through the experiments conducted at the school of Ultenn that many of the new races that were given rise during the Third Age came into being; including the Centaur, Minotaur, Celestial, Elemental, and Satyr.

The Rylonian Institute – Founder: Barruk Rylon. Edit

The Rylon were a school focused entirely on power. To Rylon and his disciples, magic was a tool to gain power for ones self, and for their school. They sought to increase their standing by whatever means they could – whether through perfecting a new technique, obtaining powerful items, or surrounding ones self with like minded individuals whose complimentary abilities would give credit to ones own. The disciples of Rylon prove the rule that “power corrupts”, and “absolute power corrupts absolutely.” They looked upon non-magic users as lesser beings, and treated them with such disdain that they soon earned a reputation for pig-headedness and brutality.

The Mage Wars Edit

A Clash of BeliefsEdit

The first conflict of the Mage Wars took place between the schools of Rylon and Ultenn, and was in dispute over the study of the “Elemental” race of creatures – which the Ultenn school had recently discovered. In communing with certain Ethereal entities, the Ultenn had made arrangements for the living embodiments of certain elements to take on a cohesive physical mass, and enter into the physical realm as living entities. These creatures were free-thinking beings of great power, and with an almost unlimited control over their related element. The Ultenn wished to befriend them, while the Rylon sought to control them. The Darkaan wanted to destroy them, and the Arcana simply to learn from them.

The resulting conflict saw the school of Ultenn completely destroyed, and it's surviving students scattered in disarray. The lands surrounding the school were so steeped in magical energy following the protracted battle that occurred there, that they became completely untenable due to what would become known as “Arcane Fallout”. Travelling through areas affected by this phenomenon would become known as a fools errand. Due to random discharges of magical energy trapped in the landscape, the creatures that survived in the area became things out of nightmare, while normally inanimate objects would become decidedly animated. One could never guarantee when going to sleep in an area affected by Arcane Fallout that they would wake up in the same plane of existence, or with the same number of legs that they went to sleep with. An unwary traveller might enter the area as a human man, and exit the area as a bowl of half eaten beef noodle stew with croutons.

With philosophies that differed so greatly, the three remaining major schools began to look upon the others as a threat to their own existence and prosperity. The University Arcana's leading council took it upon themselves to undertake the greatest feat of long term transmutation ever accomplished – combining their powers to tear the entire castle which made up their school out of the ground along with its foundations, and suspend it several hundred metres in the air. This rendered the building almost completely impervious to attack, and placed it well out of the reach of door to door salesmen. The resultant waves of arcane power that washed over the land in a constant flow rendered the surrounding countryside a barren wasteland – full of strange creatures, mutated by overexposure to the Arcane nether, and making it dangerous to cross for any person not warded with the appropriate counter-spells. From their floating castle, the Mages of the University Arcana remained aloof and uninvolved in the conflict that would follow, and were able to continue their studies in relative peace.

The Schools of Rylon and Darkaan fought a bloody, pyrotechnic conflict that raged across Elgardt. To begin with, the battles were largely school against school – but as time past, and the surviving Magus grew in power through experimentation and combat experience, it very soon degenerated into factions within factions, and eventually Mage against Mage. With whole cities going up in flames as these powerful Spell-Casters duelled against one another, many civilisations enforced sanctions against the Mages – refusing to support them, and raising armies to kill or capture some of the worst offenders. All of this was in vain, such was the power of the Grand Magus'. It is claimed in legend that the Great Mage; Saranor Silvermane single-handedly laid waste to an army of over one thousand men who had been sent to bring him to justice after a dispute between Saranor and a rival Mage levelled an entire city in Northern Odea. After this, and several other similar incidents, the people of Elgardt turned to a policy of evacuate and quarantine in the conflict zones, allowing the Magus to destroy one another, and themselves.

Birth of the Dark ElvesEdit

After a long and destructive conflict that left thousands dead, and vast areas of land tainted; the power of the Mages began to wane. Magic, it would seem, was not an inexhaustible resource. As time went by and more and more Arcane energy was expended – the potency of the magic itself began to fade. Furthermore, it became apparent that magic has a corrupting influence on the flesh as it is channelled through the body a mortal being. Many powerful Mages found themselves to be aging at a rapid rate, while many others perished by their own hand. As greater levels of Arcane Energy gather in a single place minor miscalculations in controlling the ebb and flow of the raw power can result in disastrous and unpredictable consequences. This would become known as “Arcane Misadventure”. The results of such “misadventures” ranged from victims rapidly aging to the point of infirmity, rapidly decrease in age to the point of infancy, opening up a rift into other dimensions, spontaneously and irreversibly changing species, or simply detonating in a fiery blast of Arcane power.

The Elves, with their superior mental faculties and immortal flesh had long ago learned to channel magic without allowing it to pass through their bodies, and remained largely unaffected by Arcane Misadventure. Their high-minded attitudes saw them largely uninvolved in the Mage Wars, save for a small segment of their people – a power-hungry sub-culture who, tempted by the lure of power they allowed the Arcane energies to penetrate their flesh, relying on their immortal bodies to process the potentially fatal influx. Through this process, these Elves were able to reach a greater level of control over magic hitherto unseen save by the Dragons themselves, and their ancestors – the “Half Dragons”.

These Elves became known as “The Dark Elves” -not because of any difference in colouring to their pure-blooded cousins (though the magical infusion of their flesh did generate avariety of effects which included different and bizarre colourisation) but because their lust for power which had led them topursue the Arcane path so foolhardily, coupled with the flow of raw Arcane energy through their body tainted not just their flesh,but also their minds. These Dark Elves became a hard, selfish, arrogant and often violent people - prone to cruelty and to whom thepursuit of power rivalled even that of mankind.

Mage Hunts Edit

Creation of the Luminous Order Edit

With the power of the Mages waning, the people of Elgardt rose up in rebellion against the once mighty Mages. Many legendary heroes made their name during this time period by ascending towers and battling untold horrors to slay an evil Wizard, or by bringing down a “Fire Drake” – the “Draconis Vulgaris” as they are known; magical creatures created by the Magus in mimicry of, though nowhere near as large nor powerful as the Dragons of old.

The Purges of the Third Age which saw a close to the Mage Wars also saw a split take place in the members of the Order of Light, with a faction branching of to form “The Luminous Order” – a militant branch which sought to bring Elgardt “back into the light for the glory of Alphamus”, and chose to do so on the edge of a sword.

The Luminous Order declared that magic was not of Alphamus, and had no place in the realm of Elgardt. After the destruction of the war, this ideal quickly gained support, and the “Great Purges” had begun. The use of Magic was outlawed in many areas of Elgardt, and the Luminous Order oversaw a “witch-hunt” on a continental scale. The Order laid siege to, and eventually destroyed the Rylon school of Wizardry – putting to the sword or the torch all whom they found there. Along with practitioners of Magic, the Order also declared war upon “Magical Creatures” - those that had been born out of the Arcane Conflict, as well as a number of others who were deemed to be “too Magical”.

Within a few short years, the Luminous Order had vastly grown in number, attracting many disgruntled persons from all over Elgardt. Their influence had spread throughout Aramoth and Dalmain, leaving only a small foothold in the North of Khármen where Magic was still freely practised. An uneasy truce was made between the Luminous Order, and the remaining Mages of the Darkaan School – that they would be allowed to continue in their studies and practice of magic provided they maintained strict control over the education and application of such. All magic users travelling within the lands of Elgardt on pain of death must at all times carry with them proof of their education at either the Darkaan School or the University Arcana. - which had remained aloft and aloof throughout the period of the conflict.

Conclusion Edit

“And that's why we're here. To teach you how to wield this power that's in you. If you don't learn how to use it proper, you'll wind up bringing an end to yourself much sooner, and probably taking out a whole bunch of others with you.”

So that's why people hate us so much? They're afraid?

“Of course their afraid! An' why wouldn't they be? Most folk can only dream of doing the kind of things you've been doing since you were toddling. What good is a sword and shield against a fireball, or a bolt of lightning? And to top it off, if you go casting spells willy nilly without due attention to the ebb and flow of it all - you might just blow yourself up and take out half a city with you!”

That wouldn't really happen would it Sir?

“Ha! That's if you're lucky!”

And if we're unlucky?

“I've seen a young man age, and wither away into dust within seconds. I knew a woman who became nothing but ghost, and I still see her wander these halls on occasion – barely visible, unable to touch, or talk, or taste. The worst of it though, the thing that scares me the most; is that magic puts a strain on the barrier between the realms. Too much strain, and stuff starts to seep through. Get enough magic build up in the same place, and you could tear a hole between this world, and another. Maybe a Shadow Beast will make it's way into our world, or maybe, just maybe; it'll be you that falls through that crack, and winds up face to face with Maelanon in the Realm of Shadow - still with life and breath in your body. Now that... that is something to be afraid of...”