First Above All. -Creed of Melanthris
No other kingdom in Tairos is as sure of its destiny as Melanthris. They were the first to walk this land as a single nation, the first to tame the wilderness and first to harness magic. From its island home in the middle of Lake Lunarch the city of pearl and silver has looked over Tairos and guided history along the proper path.
Other nations have a different take on Melanthris’ role in history. It’s said that in early history other races were forced out, pushed aside or even killed in order for the elves to secure their paradise around Lake Lunarch. Many claim the elves ignored the Serpents when they could have acted against them earlier and prevented centuries of death. While the Elves
say they gently cultivated the history of Tairos the other kingdoms accuse them of being arrogant manipulators who are terrified of any loss of control.
The citizens of Melanthris ignore the displeasure of the other races. The High Elves see them as ungrateful for the sacrifices they have made. The other races are viewed the same way a parent looks upon thankless miserable children. Burdens. Burdens that need to be managed lest they bring disaster upon themselves and others. To the lords of Melanthris, the opinion of those that cannot care for themselves is not worth considering.
The first elves looked out upon an unsettled Tairos and saw no one but themselves. Early tribal records that still survive to this day say that the first elves believed they were alone. In truth the vastness of the continent and tribal nature of every other race made finding anyone else extremely difficult.
These early elves thought they were crafted from star-matter by their gods and that this world was chosen for them- the favored people. This is a difficult theory to prove or disprove. What is known is that the Dwarves
also roamed the continent at this time as well. Threats like the goblinoids and the Serpent People were present too. Many speculate that had any of those other races settled in the isolated and resource-rich regions near Lake Lunarch they may have been the first to build a civilization. If the gods had anything to do with the origins of the elves or any other race it cannot be known for certain. Some of the scholars in Melanthris believe these first elves, dwarves, humans and halflings all originated from the gates and some other land beyond. Others stand firmly in favor of divine genesis or natural evolution.
Regardless of how they came to be the elves had a true passion for cooperation, organization and exploration. They found much of the land to be inhospitable to them or occupied with dangerous enemies. It is in those early days that the records say a great burning silver star appeared in the sky and led them to the island in the middle of Lake Lunarch. The elves say the appearance of the silver star was a blessing from the gods as were the orchards and the fertile land they were led to.
The island and the city they would build there would be known as Melanthris. The elven tribes worked together, shared labor and magic to build the city but it would not be without its struggles. The great gathering of elves would draw the attention of tribal orcs, goblins and kobolds. The orcs and goblins would launch themselves as the elven community from their hastily built barges; repeatedly making landfall and being pushed back into the lake. Dragon worshipping kobold tribes were sent by their patrons to conquer the island nation but time and again they too were repelled.
Each time Melanthris was assailed their warriors would be sent to the mainland to extinguish their attackers fully. Orc, goblin and kobold tribes that attacked or supported attacks against the elves were exterminated to the last. This system ensured no threat would grow into a paroxysm without end. Eventually, the elves would push forward with the effort to form the Grand Concordance so that all races could negotiate fairly with each other and respond to all threats as a unified force.
The Fang Crusades
While they worked to establish the Concordance an insidious threat flourished unnoticed. The Serpents of the southern jungles watched quietly and carefully under the leadership of the living god, Sessin’yek. As the elf tribes gathered so did the Serpent cults. As they built Melanthris the Serpents built their temple cities. Soon the newly founded colleges of magic took notice to a dark perversion of the Leylines
in the south. Envoys and explorers were sent deep into the jungles and those few that returned spoke of a nation that worshipped the corrupting influence of diabolic magic and dark gods. The elves acted swiftly to protect Tairos as they were the only ones with the strength to do so.
The Fang Crusades would herald in a thousand years of war and death. The elves fought harder than any other people and that single-minded determination is what led to the steep casualties they suffered. Eventually, they’d have to rely on the more numerous human and halfling soldiers to bolster their ranks. These new recruits were trained and led by the best Melanthris had to offer. In the closing days of the conflict elven magicians from the colleges of magic learned the true scope of the danger the Serpents presented. As temple cities were conquered horrific new relics were unearthed- some crafted by the Serpents and others sent through the gates from unknown origins.
These relics and secret magics were taken and locked away in great vaults within Melanthris. Many believed that it was not enough to just store them away. A schism in elven magical study would form and separate those that believed the dark magic should be researched and put to a purer use and those that believed any study of the Serpents’ magic would bring disaster.
The Plague of Undeath
This schism would lead to a terrible accident known as the Plague of Undeath. The necromancers in the college of magic managed to access some of the Serpents’ tablets and combine their own mastery of death with those of Sessin’yek.
What followed would be a tragedy that affects Tairos even to this day. Hundreds of thousands of corpses crawled out from their burial grounds across the land to feed on the living. These walking corpses carried the magical plague with them and anyone killed or injured would eventually turn as well. This plague was also prone to wild mutations that would give rise to ghoul cults, vampirism and other nightmares. Only with the help of the necromancers that caused the plague in the first place would it be quelled. The elves led the effort to purge the necromancers from every college across Tairos and force them into exile in the Scorch. The zealousness in this work helped sooth the shame Melanthris felt in allowing the vaults to be accessed in the first place- something the dwarves of Ghal Ankhar
were always quick to remind them of during Concordance gatherings.
Arrival of the Fae and Modern Tairos
It would not be the last time the vaults were illegally accessed either. Members of the schools of Conjuration, Evocation, Illusion and Mesmerism would meet in secret to study the Serpents’ knowledge. Among the relics they researched was one of The Gates
ripped from a jungle temple and brought to the vaults. Here they labored over its workings and would eventually manage to activate it. That is when the Autumn Queen’s voice was first heard.
The Queen spoke to them as a kindred spirit, one who loved these elves unconditionally and who echoed what they felt in their hearts- that banning the study of the gates and relics was damaging their full potential. Her whispers taught them how to master the gates and how to create a stable portal not just for messages but for physical crossing. That is when the Queen urged her growing cult of followers to open a passage for her. She told them of her dying land of Elinune and that her survival depended on leaving it immediately. Her elven followers feared losing both their patron and the knowledge she could share so they acted quickly to bridge Tairos and Elinune.
Elven society was quickly enamored by the Autumn Queen. She and her first few followers had a great deal in common with the Highborn elves. The rest of Tairos that still bitterly resented Melanthris for its part in the Plague of Undeath but the Queen and her Fae people cherished the elves.
The Highborn and the peasantry would become pawns in the Autumn Queen’s conquest of Tairos. While many believe she did love the elves as she loved her own people they also believe she abused them terribly. The elves advocated for her in the Concordance- first to carve out a piece of land for the fae in the plains and then later to induct them into the Concordance itself. Her compassion for the elves spared them from much of the damage done to the leylines of magic and this too made the rest of Tairos resent them even more. She isolated her favored people from the other races, making them into pariahs that could never turn against her.
In the end, when even the elves could no longer ignore the sickness infecting the leylines or the fae banners flying over so many cities, they tried to act. Their motives were suspect and after hundreds of years of the Queen’s rule few cared to trust the elves. When the Queen’s Rebuke devastated the leylines and silenced the gods the Highborn elves were hit just as hard as all the others but they had to endure it alone and despised.
Today, the few remaining Highborn nobles along with their houses, servants and personal armies reside behind the security of the Antralis walls on their secluded island in Lake Lunarch. With a new plague sweeping the peasant lands they’ve closed off their borders to them and rarely accept any foreign visitors now.
Guilds and Factions
The Royal Legion- The army of the king is another potent force in the ruling body. Order is maintained by the army, borders are protected and the quarantine is enforced by their spears. The generals, commanders and tacticians of the army all hail from noble backgrounds that bind them to the king and the great houses. They also act as the buffer that prevents the personal armies of each house from clashing with each other openly.
The Noble Houses-These are an ancient tradition that dates back to the founding of the city and the first elven tribes. Each tribe grew into a potent bloodline that dominates some facet of elven society today.
House Zaor, for example, is home to the greatest shipbuilders and sailors while house Inas are famed architects. The list goes on and on, numbering in the hundreds. Though among them only six truly powerful houses exist- Zaor the shipmasters, Inas the architects, Mirosaer the bankers, Celodin the magicians, Mithienye the wine makers and Antralis the champions. While each of the six major houses has an area of known expertise they are also truly diverse and invested in all of elven society. Many of the lesser houses serve these six as vassals yet others make their own way and push for their houses to eventually attain the status the of the six greater houses.
The favor of the king is vital in achieving this status. Many of the greater houses in existence today were not always seen as such. Their power waxes and wanes based on their fortunes, their followers and the king’s grace. House Mirosaer is the most recent house to rise in status, supplanting house Palinth after exposing disloyalty and weakness in Palinth’s rulers. The noble houses struggle against each other for favor, influence and fortune often with no regard for how their efforts will impact elven society.