History of the North
History of the North – The First Flowering:
For millennia, gold elves dwelt in Illefarn (where Waterdeep now stands) and Eaerlann (along the River Shining). From their ornate forest cities they traded with emerging human nations like Netheril and Illusk and repulsed the attacks of the goblin races. Meanwhile, dwarven clans united as the nation of Delzoun, named for the dwarf who forged the union. The nation, existing primarily underground, extended from the Ice Mountains to the Nether Mountains. Silver Moon Pass was its western border and the Narrow Sea its eastern shore. Orcs came from north of the Spine of the World but were turned back in great slaughter by the elves. To this day, this is the homeland and stronghold for orcs and similar races.
History of the North – The Crown Wars:
Humans immigrated in bands from the Shining Sea and up to the Sword Coast. They became seafarers, striking out across the waves to the Moonshaes, Mintarn, Ruathym, and the northern islands. Elves engaged in an unceasing war against each other with the humans and orcs taking over the resulting ruins. Perhaps the greatest calamity to befall the Fair Folk was the Dark Disaster, a killing magic that took the form of a dark, burning cloud. It enshrouded the kingdom of Mieyritar, and when it faded away some months later, not an elf lived – nor were trees left; only an open, blasted moor: the High Moor.
All was not dark for the elves. Although in retreat, as barbarian humans and orc hordes grew in strength, their power rose in the Elven Court and Evereska (remaining a stronghold to this day). They conceived of cooperation between dwarves, kindly humans, and other elves for mutual survival against orcs, marauding humans, and the tide of beasts (ogres, bugbears, trolls, goblins, gnolls, and other nonhuman creatures) led by the rising power of giants. Astonishingly, in at least three places – the Fallen Kingdoms and the cities of Silverymoon and Myth Drannor – they succeeded with shining grace.
To the east, on the sandy shores of the calm and shining Narrow Sea, human fishing villages grew into small towns and then joined together as the nation of Netheril. Sages believe the fishing towns were unified by a powerful human wizard who had discovered a book of great magic power that had survived from the Days of Thunder – a book that legend calls the Nether Scrolls. Under this nameless wizard and those who followed, Netheril rose in power and glory, becoming both the first human land in the North and the most powerful. Some say this discovery marked the birth of human wizardry, since before then, mankind had only shamans and witch doctors. For over 3,000 years Netheril dominated the North, but even its legendary wizards were unable to stop their final doom.
History of the North – The Might of Men:
Along the coast, in what was once the elven community of Illefarn, humanity was once again rising in power. Merchants from the south, tribesmen from the North, and seafarers from western islands had created a village around a trading post on a deep-water harbor, first known as Nimoar’s Hold after the Uthgardt chieftain whose tribe seized and fortified the ramshackle village. Nimoar and his successors, known as War Lords, led the men of Waterdeep (as it had become known to ship captains) in a slowly losing battle against the trolls. In a final, climactic battle, the trolls breached the aging palisade and all seemed lost – until the magic of Ahghairon of Silverymoon turned luck against the trolls, destroying and scattering them.
Ahghairon, heir to the heritage and learning of Netheril, stayed in Waterdeep, and in his 112th year he again saved the city – this time from itself. In so doing, he created the Lords of Waterdeep. The city grew into the greatest in the North, possibly in all Faerun. With Waterdeep as a firm anchor, civilization forged cautiously into the wilderness. Illuskan (now Luskan) was taken from the orcs. Loudwater, Llorkh, Triboar, Longsaddle, Secomber, and other towns were settled by pioneers from Waterdeep, sponsored by Waterdhavian merchant families.
Though it’s been centuries since the last orc invasion, there’s still constant strife. Barbarians harass merchants, travelers, and towns, the seas swim with Northmen pirates, and wars have marred the land in recent years. Luskan, now a fierce merchant city known to harbor – and support – pirates, waged a war with the island realm of Ruathym over an act of piracy against one of the few legitimate Luskan merchant ships. The war raged for nearly a year, with Ruathym slowly losing ground. When it appeared Luskan would finally win the naval war and land on the island itself, the Lords’ Alliance entered the fray. They threatened war against Luskan if the skirmishes didn’t stop immediately. Unable to fight a two-front war efficiently, Luskan canceled its invasion plans.
Tensions between Luskan and Ruathym are still high, and their ships are often seen taking potshots at each other as they pass, often just a wave or two away from each other. The government of Ruathym has recently been sending adventurers into the hills of its island realm, looking for mercenaries who are killing merchants, farmers, and woodsmen. Ruathym believes Luskan still has a presence on the island, trying to win through subversion and terrorism what it could not accomplish through war.
To the far north, the Ten-Towns have finished rebuilding after being nearly destroyed by the monstrous forces of Akar Kessel. With help from the tundra barbarians living nearby, they’ve built and repaired their cities, replanted the sparse foliage, and – most importantly – replenished the morale of their citizens. A recent trader who passed through the area carrying 17 wagons of rare oak lumber said that it was nearly impossible to determine who’s a barbarian and who isn’t. “They’re living together!” he reported in amazement.
History of the North – The Spread of Humankind:
The adaptable humans made use of magic they could seize or learn from the Proud Peoples to defeat all enemies, breaking (for a time) the power of giants and orcs. Waterdeep was founded. The last of the pure blood elves died out, a result of continued marriages with humans.
In the far west, men also dwelled – wise, clever primitives called the Ice Hunters. They lived simple lives on the coast since time beyond reckoning, countless generations before Netheril’s first founders set foot on the Narrow Sea’s western shore. Yet this peaceful folk fell prey to another invasion from the south: crude longships that carried a tall, fair-haired, warlike race who displaced the Ice Hunters from their ancestral lands.
This race, known as the Northmen, spread farms and villages along the coast from the banks of the Winding Water to the gorges of the Mirar. Northmen warriors drove the simple Ice Hunters farther and farther north, forced the goblinoids back into their mountain haunts, and instigated the last Council of Illefarn. Within 500 years of the Northmen’s arrival, Illefarn was no more – its residents had migrated to Evermeet.
From the Coast, Northmen sailed westward, claiming and establishing colonies on the major western islands of Ruathym and Gundarlun, eventually spreading to all the islands in the northern sea. Others migrated northward, past the Spine of the World, and became the truly savage barbarians of Icewind Dale.
In the centuries that followed, Ascalhom became Hellgate Keep when it fell into the hands of fiends, and Eaerlann collapsed under the attack of a new orc horde. The elves fled southeast, joining with Northmen, Netherese descendants, and dwarves to form what would later be known as the Fallen Kingdom. This realm was short-lived and collapsed under the next orcish invasion – though in dying, it dealt the goblin races a blow from which they have yet to recover.
History of the North – Return of the Beast (1367 – ?):
Sages, philosophers, historians, and priests alike feel an ill-boding in the chill air. They predict a slow change over the next decade, but within the lifetime of men born on the first day of this age. They believe that the beasts that once ruled the land plan to return to claim what’s rightfully theirs, imprisoning and enslaving the crowns. Where elves once reigned, men now rule, but their hold – as true for all civilizations before – is tenuous at best.
History of the North – 1368, Year of the Banner:
As the dwarves settled in for the winter in their reclaimed city of Felbarr, a group of Zhentarim-sponsored adventurers broke into Great Worm Cavern, slaying Elrem the Wise, shaman leader of the Great Worm tribe. As the tribe’s warriors descended into the ranks of the evil adventurers, teleportation magic spirited at least three of those responsible – as well as a vast amount of treasure stolen from Elrem – to safety.
According to Themrin, the tribe’s present shaman, Elrem promised to “watch over the tribe in spirit now that my mortal form is destroyed.” Despite the reassuring words of Elrem, the tribe suffered through an oppressive winter that included both heavy snow, scarce game, and low morale.
Trusted visitors to the barbarian encampment report that Themrin and Gweshen “Ironhand” Talistars are wearing some form of armor made from the scales of Elrem. This use of their former shaman’s body as “protection” was supposedly ordained through a dream vision. The armor appears as little more than a supple leather armor, but seems to deflect blows and protect as well as full plate mail.
Nesme reported a drastic rise in the number of troll attacks in the Evermoors, and various sources confirm that something is driving the trolls out of the moors. Whatever is behind the trolls’ exodus is destined to remain a mystery for the remainder of the year, as adventuring parties expend themselves against the never-ending supply of trolls that are fleeing the bog.
In the most surprising move of the year, the Blue Bear Tribe, led by the shaman/chieftain Tanta Hagara, marched on the fiend-ridden fortress of Hellgate Keep. While a brief struggle for political control of the city was reported by various sources, Tanta Hagara emerged as the new ruler of the city.
History of the North – 1369, Year of the Gauntlet:
The tumultuous climate of Hellgate Keep continued to provide adventuring activity. A group of Harpers infiltrated the city using cloaking magic and revealed that Tanta Hagara was actually an annis. This revelation did nothing to hamper the Blue Bear’s respect for their powerful chieftain however, and the city responded to the unmasking by attacking caravans en route to Sundabar. In addition, a few expeditionary forces of tanar’ri were sent to harass the Citadel of the Mists, Sundabar, and Silverymoon. Tanta Hagara informed her “loyal troops” that gates existed in these cities that could allow other tanar’ri to “join us in the glorious battles to come as we take control of all of the North!”
Alustriel cast powerful magical spells in the defense of Silverymoon against the raiding tanar’ri, and the city itself suffered no damage from their attack. The Mistmaster of the Citadel of the Mists likewise aided in the defense of his citadel, though reports still rage about the assistance of the treants of the High Forest.
Sundabar suffered from Hellgate Keep’s attack, as the fiends broke through the walls and raised havoc along the city streets. While adventurers battled the fiends, Helm Dwarffriend led a large contingent of the city guard to drive the remainder from Sundabar. Still, the fiends from Hellgate Keep left the city with the satisfaction of knowing that it was burning in their wake. Within two days, however, the fires were extinguished, and Sundabar has since rebuilt from the attack.
By mid Eleasias, rumors that Turlang, the powerful treant who resides in the northern High Forest, was actively defending the woodlands near the Citadel of the Mists reached the ears of Tanta Hagara, the hag-ruler of Hellgate Keep. News that Turlang was aiding the Mistmaster did not escape her notice, and the belief that the Citadel of the Mists was holding an extra-planar artifact only added to the hag’s interest.
Tanta assembled a large force consisting of more than 100 tanar’ri and other fiends as well as 500 members of the Blue Bear tribe to raze the Citadel of the Mists. But as the evil forces marched their way into the High Forest, the Mistmaster put his own plan into motion. Two Harper agents, a bard named Cryshana Fireglen and a priest of Mystra known as Spellviper, infiltrated Hellgate Keep disguised as members of the Blue Bear tribe. Each carried with them part of an extra-planar artifact called the Gatekeeper’s Crystal.
The Gatekeeper’s Crystal is an artifact shaped like a three-pointed star that is made of onyx and an unknown metal that entwines itself through the gem. Each point of the star is a separate piece that can be combined together to create the artifact or separated to form three powerful magical items. While the crystal can be used in different manners, it was primarily created to bring down wards, including mythals and other powerful protections. According to legend, it was created by a powerful lich who used it to render clerics powerless, stripping them of their ability to turn undead and nullifying necromantic magic within a 50-mile radius.
The Mistmaster had a different use for the Gatekeeper’s Crystal, but he needed volunteers to aid him in placing two shards of the crystal at precise locations within the warded city of Hellgate Keep. In particular, he needed two people who would be willing to trade their lives to exterminate the fiends of Hellgate Keep forever. Spellviper and Cryshana agreed to the suicide mission. Holding the pieces of the crystal, the two Harpers waited for the Mistmaster to activate the magic with his third piece, initiating the magic that would tear Hellgate Keep asunder. When a blazing beam of purple energy illuminated the skies over the keep, no one within the fiend’s stronghold had time to wonder what was happening.
The power of the Gatekeeper’s Crystal forced the wards to cascade upon the city, causing an implosion that shook the ground for more than 100 miles. As quickly as the wards surrounding Hellgate Keep collapsed, the crystal released the magical energy in an explosion that leveled every building in the city, leaving nothing but fist-sized chunks of rocks where Hellgate Keep once stood. Not a living creature stirred in the remains; all was silent and lifeless.
The force of tanar’ri from Hellgate Keep was unsure what had happened but had felt the tremor when the Gatekeeper’s Crystal had been activated. They were fighting for their own lives, however, as the treants, korred, centaurs, satyrs, dryads, and other creatures of the High Forest – including defenders of the Citadel of the Mists – battered them into the moist earth. One of the North’s most notable rulers fell in the battle, however, but he took at least six tanar’ri with him to his grave. Faurael Blackhammer, the lord protector of Triboar, fell alongside his troops near the conclusion of the conflict.
Within weeks after the final battle with Hellgate Keep, treants blocked passage farther north at the joining of the Heart-blood and Delimbiyr rivers. While the treants care little for hunters and adventurers passing through the area, all caravans seeking passage north to Sundabar have been repulsed – and this is not a matter that the treants wish to negotiate.
In another mishap blamed on Turlang, Tumstone Pass was blocked by a tremendous avalanche. This final calamity sealed the Upvale from any major force of men. Travel into the area formerly occupied by Hellgate Keep is now limited to adventurers and other brave travelers.
The Mistmaster has been questioned repeatedly by some of the most powerful wizards in the Realms, including Elminster of Shadowdale and Khelben Arunsun, about the current location of the Gatekeeper’s Crystal. Most sources claim that the pieces of the crystal have been scattered amongst the planes again, but no one is certain.
Near Nesme, the source of the trolls’ exodus is revealed. Fog and cloud giants have taken up residence in the moor, driving the trolls from the giants’ new “homeland.” While it’s unknown how many giants have taken up residence in the High Moor, estimates range up to several hundred. A thick mist continually hangs in the air of the Evermoors now, even more persistent and thick than the mist before the giants’ arrival. Many believe that these new mists are the work of the cloud giants, but none can be certain.
Alustriel of Silverymoon sent a detachment of guards to investigate the eastern borders of the moor, and the guards returned with news that a gathering of around 20 fog giants who were “of good nature and quite friendly” had taken up residence in a formerly troll-infested area.
Guards from neighboring Nesme were not so fortunate, however, running into a clan of violent, boulder-hurling fog and cloud giants who nearly decimated their unit. In addition, a group of adventurers crawled into Nesme with terrible burns, reporting that they had run into a black dragon at a fog giant encampment. Overall, it appears that both good and evil giants now call the moor their home.
History of the North – Recent History of the North:
In the waning summer months of 1367, an immense orc horde descended from the Spine of the World, intent on winding its way south into the trade lands of the North. This force of orcs, led by King Greneire, surged its way south between the Moonwood and the Cold Wood, stopping just outside the Citadel of Many Arrows.
King Obould, orc ruler of the Citadel of Many Arrows, was terrified at the prospect of another orc horde, despite the fact that he knew they should be working together against the humans of the North and the spawn of Hellgate Keep. His tribal shamans, however, had been predicting a treacherous fall of the citadel – and they’d told the king that he’d be deposed by other orcs.
Thus, it was a dark day when King Greneire and his horde of 150,000 orcs appeared on the plains outside the Citadel of Many Arrows. King Obould announced to his followers that this horde had been sent to dislodge them from their home and send them out to be scavengers among the plains. He vowed that, with Gruumsh as his witness, the Citadel of Many Arrows would slaughter these treacherous orcs “like elves during a festival.”
For four months, the 40,000 orcs within the citadel held their ground. Assault after assault was mounted against the high walls of the garrison, but the attacking orcs were losing far more than the defenders. Still, the living conditions within the walls – never too good to begin with – created losses of their own.
The battle for the Citadel of Many Arrows culminated during the first week of Uktar. As another light blanket of snow sought to bury the gathered orcs, King Greneire threw his entire remaining army at the citadel, bursting its gates and pitting orc against orc in a flurry of swords. As the two orc kings sought one another out along the ramparts, the citadel began to burn.
The orcs that survive the battle still speak of the superhuman prowess of the two kings as they battled one another before their troops. Finally, however, King Obould ran Greneire through with his long sword, but Obould was severely wounded by the time Greneire had breathed his last breath. The orcs erupted into battle once again, and no one is quite certain what became of King Obould.
It was through the smoke and snow that the victors of the conflict emerged: the dwarves of Clan Warcrown along with a contingent of troops from Silverymoon. Charging in through the shattered gates, these new attackers quickly routed the exhausted orcs of the citadel, sending them scurrying off into the wilderness.
King Emerus Warcrown now rules the Citadel of Many Arrows, though the dwarves now call the city by its old name of Felbarr. Most in the North still tend to refer to the city as the Citadel, however, waiting to see if it can withstand the next orc horde. King Warcrown has put out a call for all dwarves to help defend the citadel, and news of a new vein of gold and silver is spreading rapidly through dwarven communities.