Friday, June 24, 2016

The Ages of Mor-Thir

Long ago, remembered only as a distant myth, was the First Age, the Age of Elves. The ageless, beautiful elves kept the peace through magic and wisdom, ruling with benevolence and grace. Nature flourished; it was a time of tranquility, a well-tended garden with little turmoil or trouble. The first Men that landed on the shores of Mor-Thir were treated with kindness and hospitality; they too flourished under the watchful eyes of the True Elves. But as the men explored and built, the elves intermingled with Men, or withdrew to their ancient halls; eventually, there were no True Elves to be found. The end of the first age came with a shaky sigh, the last breaths of an old man. The age of Elves was ended.

The Second Age grew from the decay of the first as an acorn springs into an oak; the Age of Man. A time of expansion, of hope and excitement, these men worked tirelessly, their short lives every bit as full as the ageless span of the True Elves. They turned the sleepy forests and lethargic plains into bustling roads and lively cities, and expanded their realm to the limit of what the land could hold, further than any Age before or hence.

But even unbridled optimism has its limits; as trade and technology grew, the men began seeking power from other sources. Perhaps the first mages were as wise and full of grace as the Elves whose magic they imitated, but it was not long before the lust for power turned sane men into grasping thieves. Their powers unleashed a cataclysm. Creatures created with dark magic sprang forth from the mountains and forests; monsters and unholy creatures clawed up from the depths of the caves and oceans, so many as to darken the sun. Men retreated to a few guarded cities, and even the Dwarves, deep in their fortified mountains, felt the thunder of feet and hooves, and trembled.

The end of the Second Age was swift and sudden; the Third Age had begun. The Age of the Beastmen was terrible and merciless. Orcs and goblins, lizardmen and minotaurs, and all manner of twisted perversions of life prowled the land, devouring anyone who strayed from the few safe roads. Dragons expanded their lairs; giants roamed wild. It was a time of darkness and terror, and the stench of death hung in the air. The mighty cities of Men were torn down, the roads abandoned and overgrown. Hope was replaced with hopelessness, and excitement with terror. Only the lands of Mareten were untouched, protected by its great wall and vigilant patrols. But beastmen are creatures of chaos; the land could not support their numbers, and as the evil mages that controlled them died in petty squabbles, the beastmen retreated to a life of daily survival. By the end of the Third Age, the land was wild, filled with uncontrolled beasts; few villages and cities of beastmen remained. Most dropped any pretenses of civilization and sank back into the forests and jungles.

The Fourth Age began gradually, slyly, as befitting its masters. Wildness begat wildness; as untamed vines turn a house into a garden, so the untamed forests bred wild things. It was the Age of Fae. The nymphs, pixies, sprites, brownies, leprechauns, and sylphs (though they call themselves elves, they are not True Elves, but Faerie-kind) ruled the forests. Wild magic hummed in the air, the deep thrum of power close, yet ungraspable. Men ventured outside their walls, but cautiously; though the Fae were not set against them as the beastmen were, neither were they allied with them, as the Elves had been. Still, the Fae hated the orcs and the goblins, which could only but help the Men. The Fae grew in power, and divided into two courts: the Winter court of the elves, nymphs, and trolls, and the Summer court of the faeries, sprites, brownies and pixies. The courts exist alongside each other, neither warring nor at peace. While the Summer court creatures are merely mischievous, the creatures of the Winter court can be cruel for sport. Indeed, the winter court holds the Wild Hunt, a rush of claws and teeth, where every being discovered by the hunt is given a choice: join the hunters... or the hunted.

And this is the world of Mor-Thir; a wild world of magic and power, where Men have become but spectators. Beastmen prowl outside the wall, and the Fae sit upon their gilded thrones. While it is safe enough in the eastern capital, dangers lurk outside the walls.