The Ancient Tales

The history of the world and the people of Icewind has been told for ages. Every now and then a historian in some part of Icewind writes down what he knows about the past - but then again many books of legends burned or disappeared and the precious wisdom of the past has been lost. However, some historians still have some of those books and try to preserve that knowledge as best as they can. Some important legends of the different races have been kept and written down in the past decades. There are the Chronicles of M'Loria, some Dwarven Legends, the Book of Illiria which contains the history of the elvish race and the Sacred Hall where the drow have decorated the walls with magic runes that describe their heroic past. As a traveler in Icewind you should be aware of those tales and legends. It may help you understand the needs of the people and explain their behaviour.

So, let me tell you now of the days of great heroes, wise and just kings, frightening battles and glorious victories...

The Chronicles of M'Loria

Once upon a time there was a luxuriant place with many cities and the people were happy. The cities were growing and trade was becoming more and more important. This kingdom was ruled by a generous king who was kind towards all of his people. But amidst the dark corridors of the king's castle evil was lurking. The king's magician, a dark and evil character, had vicious plans to take over this kingdom and rule it with darkness as his friend. He used old books of black magic to open a dark portal to the underworld. An army of dark minions swirled out of the portal. But the dark forces were treacherous and not only did they tear the castle apart, but they threw the king's magician into the portal through which he summoned them, cursing him with painful death and everlasting damnation.

The dark forces swiftly overthrew this world and many people were killed and tortured. People fled and sought shelter were it was to be found. They gathered in small tribes and soon found that the only place where they could be safe from these evil forces was down below. They started building underground complexes and to make sure these cities would not be found the wizards chanted poweful spells to hide the exits and cities from evil's eyes.

Evil ruled the surface for many, many years. Man lost count of how long they had been underground and the surface was soon but a legend of old times. But as time went by and evil ravaged the surface, the climate started to change. The surface started to become a cold and desolate place, haunted by cold winds and treacherous weather. Evil started to retreat slowly and soon light started to come back to the kingdom. But the climate were there to stay and the kingdom was never going to be the same again.

At this time the humans of M'loria started to open their well-covered hatches from below and take a glimpse of the outside world. Seeing no danger, young and brave adventurers soon started to carefully explore the surroundings - however, some of them were never to return...

You are now one of those adventurers and it is your task to give the bards something to sing jolly songs about around the campfire once again.

But beware, evil is still out there.....

The Dwarven Legends

There are quite a few dwarven clans in some distant regions of Icewind. Usually they know little about each other for dwarves are not very fond of traveling. However, each clan has its own legends and stories to tell and some dwarven heroes of the past appear more or less in every version of the great tales. A long time ago, even long before the Great Battle against the undead and evil hordes the dwarven clans were much closer together and not so different as they are today. This was the time when the great dwarven legends were first written down.
After the great battles with the forces of evil the dwarven clans were driven apart and all that remained from their glorious past were the legends of their heroes. Those legends have been slightly altered by many generations of dwarven historians and story tellers but even today almost all dwarven clans remember the tales of Angrash, who alone defended the entrance to the ancient dwarven city Gharkamia against several giants (although historians are not quite certain about the actual number of giants who were slain by the hero).

Deep below the mountains of the Greater Grizzly Peaks (as the humans name the large mountains north of M'Loria) lies the new dwarven city Gharkormia (named after the ancient but now destroyed dwarven city). The historian Trogamorr who had been living there almost all his live has a great collection of ancient legends which he collected over the last decades.

Let me tell you the most famous legends of the dwarven clans...

"Angrash, the giant slayer", a legend written down by Trogamorr

Once upon a time, when the dwarves still lived in their glorious city Gharkamia and the huge mountain giants still lived nearby, the blacksmith Angrash was well known for his marvelous craft. He was very content with his sometimes quite hard life, but he enjoyed nothing more than a day of work and a quiet evening with his beautiful wife. Now it happened that his wife had given birth to his first son in the second year of their marriage. The blacksmith was happy - even more when he knew that it was a son who could once become a blacksmith as well. But his joy didn't last long for a message of the clan chief Tragrax called all dwarven men to arms. The giants were once again attacking the city and this time there were many of them. Taking his famous warhammer the blacksmith Angrash went to defend the city - and together with numerous other dwarves they barely made it (at this time it was considered an honour to defend the city rather then a duty). In the battle Angrash was severly wounded and even the healer couldn't do anything to reduce his pain. However, the wounds were not fatal and Angrash went home, slowly and staggering.

When he arrived at his home (which was quite a bit away from the city walls) suddendly at least four giants leaped down from the cliffs at one side of the canyon. Angrash knew, that noone else could come to his help in defending his home for most dwarves were still guarding the city walls. And so he gathered his remaining strength and faithfully stood before his door to defend his wife and son sending a prayer to the elemental forces of Earth to help him in this time of need.
And suddendly, just as the first giant threw a huge boulder at him, Angrash felt a cold but incredible strong sensation coming from the ground which gave him new strength. Agile as he had never been before he jumped out of the way and amongst the surprised giants who didn't even get the chance to tell others of their misfortune. Within minutes everything was over and when finally his wife came out she saw him lying deadly tired amongst four slain giants.

Angrash recovered from his wounds and noone, including him, could explain what had happened. However, from this day on Angrash was named 'Angrash, the giant slayer' and the mountain giants, who soon learned what happened never dared to attack the dwarven city again as long as Angrash and his ancestors were living there.
Only one thing remaines a mystery. At the time Angrash was found his famous warhammer was gone. It is said that the earth devoured it and a famous dwarven adventurer claimed to have seen a huge warhammer in the halls of the elemental lord of earth. Since then many a dwarf have tried and failed to reach the sacred halls. However, a dwarf who could return the Giants Crusher would be highly respected and could consider himself the owner of a mighty weapon.

The Book of Illiria

The origin of the elvish race as written by Illiria's own hand, at the beginning of the second age:

It has been a quiet year, nothing important happened and only few men lost their lives in struggles with our 'relatives'. It is a sad time and all my hopes rest on the slight chance, that we may leave these hostile caves soon. Our library burned down last year and so it is my duty as the writer of the chronicles to keep the memories of our once peaceful and happy community alive. So I will write down what I still can recall, what evil happened to our people.

About four decades ago our lives were peaceful and filled with joy and harmony. Our bards were well known all over the world and the elvish race was famous for our fine crafts. We lived in the once great forest, that covered almost all of Icewinds mainland. Almost all kinds of plants, flowers and animals could be found there and it was a great pleasure walking around the differently styled grooves we had created. We developed many skills in using magic to improve cloths, tools and weapons and life was easy and enjoyable these days.

Now it happened that strange rumours were heard about troubles at the King's Castle. As far as I remember one day a messeger arrived and told us hasty about some strange creatures of hell that were roaming the castle. He fled just in time and hurried to warn others of the coming danger. He told us that many fierce warriors and knights of the crown were slain where they stood. This was hard to believe, thought the messeger insisted on his report. We were curious and send some scouts to confirm the report. We waited for about a week and noone returned. Some elves who were living at the border of the great forest were irritated as they saw fire and a wall of smoke over the nearest human villages. So we sent out a second party to investigate but even before the end of the week an undead army reached the outer borders of the forest. Although we tried to fend them off we were not prepared for the terror they brought. In the beginning of the great battles we tried to fight from atop of our trees. But our advantage didn't last long. With ever more undead creatures to reinforce the evil army, it was easy for them to lay fire and chop down large parts of our beloved forest.

Without a place to hide, without hope to save our homes and chased by unmanly creatures there was only one way to go. It was a difficult decision for our elders but in the end it was the only way to escape evil. We decided to seek shelter in the underground complex of many thousend caves and tunnels that had been build beneath the great forest. But these caves were inhabitat by the Drow, our distant relatives.

Long, long ago, even before my grand grand father was born different tribes of elves were living peacefully together in different parts of our world. When the other races like the humans settled in the mainland and started to chop small areas of the forest the tribes moved closer together in the great forest. Some of us were concerned for they feared for our homes. So we sent out an emissary to the king of the humans to work out an agreement. The king should look over his settlers and protected our forest. Our emissary succeded and the settlers no longer treatened our forest. However, there was an elvish tribe who wasn't satisfied with this solution. Permanently they tried to harm our peace with the humans while claiming rightful ownership of the land that was inhabitad by the humen settlers. Not only with force but with the aid of evil magic they tried to drive the humans away. We couldn't accept such behavior and risk our precious peace with the humans and so our elders decided to cast them out. The whole tribe was banned from the forest. However, they didn't want to leave and finally we had to use force. Unfortunately they fled into the caves and tunnels beneath the forest and created their own kingdom ruled by the brutal and evil elf Yadinar. He crowned himself as king and ruled for many decades beneath the forest. During that time we were quite often attacked by his people, who called themselves the Drow. We had to seal most entrances to the caves and guard the remaining tunnels. With time we learned to live with the potential treat from below. The drow themselves changed in their appearance with time and don't look like elves anylonger. The lack of sunlight may be the reason for their white hair and their frightening red eyes can see in darkness as good as we can in bright daylight. And they learned to use evil magic very well, another reason to be afraid of them.

But the invasion of the evil hordes was inevitable and so we send a party to plead for some parts of the caves to hide. It was pure luck that they were not killed at first sight but eventually they were brought before the king and he accepted. But not without demanding our secrets and magical items. We had to give everything we had but it was the only way to save our race from extinction. Fortunately one of our youngest bards had the courage to run away with our famous Plate of Resistence. The magical plate made from mitril was enhanced with several protection spells and it was as light as a leather vest. I hope he was able to hide it very well from the evil eyes for we have never seen him again.

However, the Drow protected the entrances to the underground complex very well and being trained in the art of war using black magic they were more then equal to the evil creatures. We were save but had to live in the smallest and coldest caves. And it took months and even years until we were no longer treated like animals or beggers by the Drow.

Now it's been four decades since we haven't seen daylight and few of us remember the good times of the past. However, some of our younger fellows became restless and ventured through the caves to seek out tunnels leading to the surface. Some have returned telling that the surface had changed and evil seems to be gone. It is not easy to believe that snow and ice covers most of the world for it has been snowing only few days a year in the past. But now I can hope that we will soon all leave the caves and return to the surface into a forest where some of our younger elves already live.

The Sacred Hall of Yriard

In the drow city Yriard, deep below the surface and well hidden, a small hall was created ages ago. This hall is covered over and over with runes which are sometimes that ancient, that even historians have troubles deciphering them.

(Well, it seems the historians will need some more time to decipher ...)

last changes: February 11, 2001 - Ghorwin