Lanton: History of the North

Report to the New Spymaster - Part 1: Background

As requested I have put together this report detailing the events that led to the current situation in the north. This report contains much information that is not known outside of the Masque Intelligence Agency and is for the eyes of the Spymaster only.

I. The Shadow

It is impossible to really understand the history of the north without knowledge of the entity that we have come to refer to as the “Shadow”. The nature and origin of this being still remains a mystery. It has been called a demon, one of the Canthist* “dead gods”, or even the Adversary**, his name be damned, whom we hide our faces from.

Earlier reports that this being was the same as the legendary Mar-gott, the so called "last elf" are false. This creature does exist, but is in fact something entirely different from the Shadow.

What we do know is that this entity seems to be some sort of spirit, though it may have some sort of form, it has only been able to posses others or speak through dreams and visions. Though this may seem fairly limited, the Shadow’s influence is wide. Much wider than previously thought. Range, language, magical resistance, none of these seem to be limiting factors to this entity.

II. The Fellus Unification War

To fully understand the events that led to the Northern Kingdom Treaty, I will need to go back a bit. As you already know, many years ago the regions of the north looked very differently. Small kingdoms and city-states littered the mainland. There was a near constant border squabbles between these small kingdoms. The largest of these was the eastern Kingdom of Fellus.

It is my belief King Karif Fellus II, after being invaded by forces of Anissa, decided that the north lands needed to be unified under his rule. Of the rumors that he began to worship the Congect god at this time, I have found no proof. His motivation, at first, was simply to end the border wars and unify the north.

Initially this campaign was quite successful and most of the areas to the east of the great divide were conquered and assimilated into Fellus. The northern regions were more difficult as its people were nomadic, moving to the north in the summer months and further south in the winter.

Fellus also invaded our Land of Masque, as you know. Their forces held the city of Poran and our capital for three weeks till the Face Plague hit them. I've done extensive research into the Face Plague but have never been able to determine if this was a disease that somehow only affected outsiders, a magical curse devised by our government, or an actual act of the Merfin gods. If anyone is left alive who knows the answer, they have kept the secret well. Regardless of its cause, the plague left only seven Fellus soldiers alive. They were held as prisoners but eventually released on promise from Fellus that no further military actions would be taken against our nation. This agreement was held for the remainder of the war, though Fellus kept a large camp of soldiers across the bay.

In 488 (Masque calendar) The king of one of the western kingdoms, Norfin, called for an alliance of nations to hold off the Fellus invasion. Many nations agreed but the alliance was never strong enough to repel Fellus. After just 8 months King Norfin declared that, “the peoples of the west, to remain free of the oppression of the east must choose among themselves one King, and united turn the tide of war.” Norfin had already gained the admiration of many of the westerners though liberating several towns along the borders.

Though some of the Kings opposed Norfin, their generals took oaths and became the unified army of the west, the army of Norfin.

III. The War of North

Unified and led by a keen tactician, the army of Norfin drove back Fellus and retook the lands west of the Great Divide. The lands north of Masque Bay were constantly trading hands and became the heaviest area of fighting.

To the south each Kingdom held its side of the divide. Ships would cross frequently, but holding the lands across the water proved too difficult for both.

Twice the army of Norfin crossed the bay and made camp in the Lands of Masque and twice they were driven off by our own army which had been grown in size considerably after the Fellus Occupation. Our nation vied for peace between Norfin and Fellus but we remained neutral. (Additional information on how this affected our economy and drove our trade to the south will be covered in another report).

The war went on for years, and though was often quiet, neither side showed any interest in ending it. Then something very strange happened. Norfin began to build forts on the far western border of his lands.

IV. The Norfin Discovery

Why the king would build forts on a side of the nation that bordered on unoccupied wilderness confused many historians and many of Norfin’s own men at the time. What they did not know, and I have discovered is that Norfin had found something buried in the “elvish” ruins that littered the wilderness.

For the sake of completeness I include the following brief explanation of the ruins: The elvish ruins as they are commonly called, are the cities of a civilization that existed in this land before the men of the north (and presumably the south) sailed across the ocean from the eastern lands. The statues left behind in many of these ruins indicate that the people that lived in them were tall with pointed ears or perhaps worshiped gods who appeared that way. Many of these ruins were torn down or build on top of as men arrived in this land.

What most people do not know, is that the ancient people has a source of magical energy called “Dragon Tears”. These crystals were often buried deep in the ruins, and even if found appeared like carved stones with little value. That is until they became active again.

King Norfin’s royal mage, Shadis Grey, claimed to have “awoken” the stones using her magic. It may be that her spells did do something that led to the stones activation, but I believe that the crystals became active because the “Dragon Stone” had returned to our world. This relic seems to be the center of some elvish legends as the “Wish Stone” or “Stone of Will”. I cannot prove that the stone appeared at this time, but it seems likely.

With the crystals active, Shadis was able to find a way to channel the magical energy from one crystal to another even at a great distance. This would usually result in the destruction of the receiving crystal, unless there was some life form that was able to absorb the energy, though this would lead to the death of that person or animal.

Norfin built the western forts as excavation sites. Crystals were to be recovered and shipped back to Shadis for research. Several were then sent to Fellus’ generals who would then end up dead, or have a spectacular explosion in their camp. At last Norfin had an advantage over the east, but not for long.

Shadis Gray disappeared one night, along with most of the crystals she had been using. Norfin had lost his secret weapon and the only one that knew how to use it. He suspected that she was going to make a play for power, or had found some other use for the crystals. To make sure that this weapon could not be used against him, King Norfin ordered all the excavation sites to destroy what they could, and seal the ruins. At the same time he sent a sealed letter to King Fellus. I don’t know the contents of this letter, but I believe that he claimed that he still had the power to attack enemy camps from afar and used this to set terms for and end of the war.

The Kings signed a treaty in 492. That would be the end of the story if it weren't for the Mages Guild and couple of explorers.

V. The Mages Guild

The Mages Guild served in the north for years, spreading the knowledge and gift of magic to all the various nations of the north. When they detected a person with latent magical ability, they would take them in and perform a process of “attunement” to align the apprentice to one of the colors of magic.

These seven colors of magic also corresponded to the seven Canthist gods, but over time the guild began to take a more secular approach to magic, and removed the references to the gods in their teaching. (It might also be noted that this is the time that Shadis Grey became a person of influence in the guild.) I don’t know if the Shadow was part of this divide between the guild and Canthist church, but it seems likely.

Though the claimed to be neutral during the war years, the Mages guild was more established in the western regions that became Norfin. Many more mages joined the Norfin forces than Fellus’. And after the war ended, Fellus placed heavy restrictions on the use of magic and required that no new mages be “attuned” without the approval of a “Royal Mage Overseer”. This effectively shut down the guild in Fellus.

After leaving King Norfin, Shadis Gray returned to the guild. She and other members of the guild had been told by an oracle, that a day was coming where magic would be made illegal. In fear she took the stones and her research to the guild for further study.

VI. Project Atlas

With growing hostility from the northern religions, the guild decided to begin work on a safe haven for mages. Project Atlas was at first a mountain stronghold, but as the mages understanding of the power of the Dragon Tears grew, they updated the plan. The atlas was to be a flying island and fortress, able to move anywhere. They could hide in the clouds, launch “airships” to rescue mages, and provide a self sustaining home for hundreds if not thousands of mages.

Of course when the kingdoms learned of the atlas, the fear that a flying fortress that could move an army of mages anywhere without detection created a panic and was the main force behind the Treaty of the Northern Kingdoms.

In my next report I will detail the how that occurred and the discovery of the Dragon Stone.

[* Canthism is the largest religion in the north, Its traditions state that there are 13 dead gods that were "killed" and cast out by the seven gods of fortune. These dead gods still function as negative forces according to tradition and are considered "bad luck".]

[** In the Masque religion of Merfinist, the Adversary is a powerful evil force who temps and possessed people by learning what they look like. This is why all adults in the Isle of Masque ware masks over their faces in public.]