Shard Histories (book)
Shard was a city born not once, but twice. First by the hand of Morganae and Corik, and again under the supervision of Alec in his final years. It lies now under the hand of Alec's true daughter Kukalakai, a noble woman trained in what has been known as "the Way of Lanival", with the magic of the WarMage, but the soul of a Paladin.
I, who have watched over a span of years the changes that have come to the two peoples of Ilithi, now relate what I have seen, and know.
Elves and Eloths
For many years the Elothean people had little in the way of a true home. They had permanent clan homes as alotted to them by their alliance with the Seven Star Empire, but with the fall of that vaulted place, their lands vanished or became unstable.
The Elven people had been shaken by the great Elven-Human Wars, and shaken again by the even greater Resistance Wars. Opinions of the Elven nation were low -- to the point that in some distant parts of the world they were slaughtered on sight, no matter which side of the War that person had fought on. The catchphrase was: "The only good Elf, is a dead Elf."
Shard's First Age
Perhaps because the nation was so shaken and unstable is why it chose to open up its Council of Elders to the Elotheans. It is only known to very few just why the Council chose that time to strike a deal with the Ferdahl Corik -- he who was later known as "the Black Cloud" -- and allot half of the Kingdom of Ilithi to him and his people. Those who have studied too deeply into the tales of Dragon Priests believe that the Elven people were admitting, secretly, that Elotheans were their halfbreed ancestors, and allowing them into the land that by blood was theirs already. Still others whisper that Corik was romantically involved with Lady Morganae of the Mountains, and that he had convinced her that his people needed lands.
Whatever the reason, the ink was not long drying upon the parchment of the treaty when Corik and Morganae announced that they would build a city that would be the capital of the Elothean nation, and a home to Elves. Termed the "Leth Deriel that Never Was", it was built with much of the same architecture in mind, but with crystal walls that would hold against the greatest siege, and streets named after the jewels that Morganae's people sang to shape the foundations. To the northeast, northwest, southeast, and southwest of the walls were placed towers -- or Keeps -- and these were deemed as places of learning. At the center was one great, silver tower, and this was deemed the palace of the Ferdahl and his or her advisors.
As all things must go, however, it was not long before unrest brewed again in the Dragon's realms, and the Priests of the World Dragon -- whom had established a home in Wyvern Mountain, just west of Shard -- rose up and fought Corik and his people. Shard was burned in the great battles that waged, and Corik -- maddened with grief at not only the loss of his people but Morganae's total lack of entry into the war -- ran rather than be taken by Dzree. He vanished into the shadows of legend.
Most of Shard was in ruin by the time the Dragon Priests had finished plundering it and moved on, heading northwest around the Dragon Spine Mountains to crush The Crossing and Riverhaven in their grip. To the south of Shard, they established a "breeding ground" that later acquired the name the Black Hand, of which much later shall be spoken.
Shard's Second Age
Alec was a figure of whom little was known. Claiming to be Corik's son -- and never speaking the name of his mother -- he rallied the Elothean people, struck a new peace with the Mountain Elves, and routed the remaining Dragon Priests from Shard. He then set about rebuilding the city with an iron fist. Supported by the Elven Council and most especially Morganae -- who has been called the "true ruler" of the Elven people, if only from the shadows of her silver throne -- he managed to set much of Shard back to order before his death and the rise of his daughter, Kukalakai.
During Alec's time, he confirmed and supported a group of Humans who moved to his region, a mixture of Rangers and rogue Paladins who named themselves "Shadow Clan". Gruff and unforgiving, the clan is the only thing that keeps at bay the Black Hand and the horrors it contains.
During the first fifty years of his rule, Alec established a gondola over a chasm that split Ilithi from the Mountain Elves. For over one hundred years it served the people -- transporting Elves and Elotheans between Zoluren and Ilithi. It was the task of the Mountain Elves to keep the pass where the gondola was located clear and free of danger.
It was a bright, clear day that Morganae's only daughter Anloralhe boarded the gondola with her war party to visit the lands of Zoluren. Some say that it was Morganae's great enemy -- the Bone Necromancer Sidhlot -- that caused the arrival of the snow creature into the cab. Whatever it was, the beast -- the likes never before seen in the mountains -- attacked all in the south cab of the gondola, and slaughtered the guards, the mage in charge of the gondola, and, most of all, the young princess.
Afterwards, despite having no mage to operate it and no hand to guide it, the gondola continued slowly back and forth across the ravine, as if some ghostly hand yet pushed it along.
When Morganae found her daughter dead, it is said she turned nearly to stone, save for one tear that crossed her cheeks. Her only words were, "Aman abule," as she cradled Anloralhe's shattered form, holding her all the long ride back to the Hall of the Mountain Queen.
From that point on, the Obsidian Pass has remained closed in mourning for the death of the princess. Since so few know Mountain Elf customs, no one knows how long the pass will remain closed, and since no one wishes to tempt the Mountain Elves into releasing their anguish on fools who defy their desire for mourning, the pass has remained closed.
As it was, Alec had enough to deal with rebuilding Shard and fighting back the Black Hand to bother with the Mountain Elves.....
Serious and black-eyed, Kukalakai was raised with her eyes to the Dark Hand to the south of Shard. Her strong sense of morals and belief in both her people and the Elven people she serves as Voice to has caused her to be one of the most honest rulers in the lands.
Kukalakai has a strong heart and three strong advisors. Aware of her father's treaties, she is careful around Morganae.
Amongst Kukalakai's secondary advisors is a strange young man named Catraith. The son of a Mountain Elf noblewoman and a relatively unknown Elothean _savant_, Catraith is the first child of an Eloth-Elven union ever known to be born -- and survived. Rumor has it that his mother's calling -- the Empath -- and her hard-as-nails culture that would not let herself or her son die in childbirth is the reason he is alive.
Thin and pale, Catraith is Elven in figure, but has the eyes of his father and jet black hair, making him shunned by most who see him walking the Halls of Power. Weak in flesh due to a poor constitution and chronic breathing conditions, his eyes blaze with the one part of him that has not failed him: his spirit.
Perhaps the only person who does frequently entertain the eccentric Catraith is Kukalakai, who is rumored to be quite fond of the Moon Mage (and, some say, Necromancer). She has defended his acidic nature more than once, to the point that courtiers whisper she may be in love with him.
Shard was also a base for the Bards after the war of the Dragon Priests, a place where they first began to retrain the lost art of their guild, and where some of that art that yet remains lost may still be recovered.
An interesting thing to note is that there is a place in the city known as the "resting spot" of Lanival, where he first brought up the power to create the bridge between life and death, summoning souls back into bodies. However, Shard was built >after< Lanival's first victory, resulting in some confusion as just why this spot was commemorated by Corik in such a way.
Many mysteries wait in Shard, some of which I leave to the reader to discover. Some things I have purposely said little of, and some I chuckle when I think how >too< much of I have scribed forth in these pages. But those who know a wanderer with a tale known well when to listen to all they have to say, and when to take it with a grain of salt.
............By my hand, The Wanderer Silvyrlock