Legends of Vanhyr
Long ago, when the lands were young and the dragons still flew in the northern skies, a sea-faring race descended upon the shores of what are now the Caldenvale Downs. These were the elves, whose forefathers sailed forth to many realms after the fall of their ancestral homeland. Lost at sea for centuries, and blown upon many hostile shores, the elves that came to Vanhyr saw a land green with life – and devoid of foes.
Vanhyr was not without its dangers, though. In the earliest days, the lands seemed to welcome them, and bountiful were the many rivers and forests of Vanhyr. But soon, as elven legends tell it, Vanhyr was torn asunder; fire rose from the mountains, and the land shook and trembled. As Utopian as their new home seemed to be, it was a fragile paradise – and the earth and sea conspired together to cast it down into the waves forever. The most powerful among the elves; the Circle of Three; combined all their might and all their magic in hopes of quelling the fires and calming the lands – but their efforts were not enough. The elves learned that there was a price to pay for their immortality – that the dying world could not abide the immortal. The very essence which gave the elves their immortality threatened to destroy the only home left to them, as the everliving essence simply could not exist in the dying lands.
The elves joined together, singing words that had never before been heard beyond the immortal shores of their homeland. Into this song they poured their hopes, their faith, and the very essence of immortality itself. They willingly cast aside their everlasting spirits – bequeathing them to the land itself as a toll for their trespassing. The land accepted their sacrifice, and the now-mortal elves found their new home to be free from the fires and quakes that had begun to tear it asunder.
For many generations, the elves made their homes here, building – as their distant cousins did in many other lands – the great Seeing-Towers upon the coasts in hopes that others might come. As with others of their kind, the hope was held in vain. No ships appeared on the southern coast, and no distant rays of light from the Journey-Stones were ever seen.
Soon after their first landfall, the elves became aware of other migrants to their lands; races who had fled from catastrophes of their own. Dwarves came across the great sands of the east, constructing a 20-mile long bridge of stone and clay to cross the Scourge Straits. They settled not far from the sea in a place they named the Deeping Delve, where they set about building their halls and generally ignoring the attempts by the elves to make contact or establish trade. When giants first came out of the north, neither race had much reason for alarm; after all; the first Hjalldarrr came to trade and soon left for home – many centuries would pass before the Frost Giants turned their eyes upon the south. For two thousand years the elves and dwarves built their cities, with the sentries of Tir Aeldarr keeping a watchful vigil in the Seeing-Towers of the south. Eventually, when ships did come from across the seas, they brought not cousins or kinsmen – but Men.
Men were a new thing to them, and although the close proximity between the races encouraged early contact, the differences were vast. The elves saw in Men much hope and potential; born mortal, Men were welcomed by the lands of Vanhyr by year after year of bountiful harvests and long, rainy summers. Early attempts at contact were awkward affairs, mostly ending with neither side having learned anything meaningful from the other. Eventually, elves decided to watch the ways of men from a distance, learning of their ways without interference so that one day their ambassadors could approach Men with understanding.
Their alliance with men during the blackest hours of the Hjalldarr invasion was born out of necessity, as the elves saw the opportunity to make them into allies against their common foe. Having just suffered a brutal defeat at the hands of the Frost Giant King, the elves were surprised to see the tenacity with which the humans fought against the nearly-unstoppable Hjalldarrr. Together they forged an alliance – and with the aid of an exiled Hjalldarrr wizard, they overthrew the giants and cast their kind into the farthest north forever.
The victory came at a terrible price though. By unleashing the Fellroch, the elves had brought a scourge upon the very lands to which they had bound their own lifeblood. Their pride and their fear had blinded them to the outcome of unleashing so much fury and death. With the coming of the Fellroch, the lands began to know decay for the first time; and with it; the elven peoples as well.
The elves of Tir Aeldarr are now a dying race, and they’re painfully aware of this fact. The long-lived elves are acutely sensitive to the corruption that has fallen over the lands of Vanhyr since the creation of the Fellroch, and their race is paying dearly for it with every passing generation. Fewer elves are being born every year, and most of their elders have acknowledged that their time is quickly passing.
The kingdom works diligently to hide this fact from the other races, and although neither dwarves nor men yet realize it, the elves of Tir Aeldarr are quickly (quickly for them, that is) adapting into a far more militaristic people with no illusions as to what fate will befall them if men ever learned of their weakness.