The Founding of the First Peoples
Long ago, the world was one of flame and chaos. Raging fires, volcanic magma and jagged rock made up Verridia's surface. Through skies of ash, the gods came from beyond the Prime Material, new and formless. Looking upon the hostile, fomorian realm, they saw the potential for great beauty, and a chance to cement their own place in creation.
Thus, these divine beings created the First Children, the elves. Of these new gods which came unto the realm, she, known as Isha, desired beyond all others to create life. For her would-be children to thrive, Isha beseeched her lover, Kurnos, to create them a vast wilderness for them to inhabit, explore, and procreate. Isha then made the elves in her likeness; a race created in physical grace reflecting her own divinity, a love of the verdant lands, gifted in music and the arts, and blessed with immortality. The First Children were gifted with adaptability as well. Wherever they settled upon the world, their physical forms altered to gift heightened advantage in a particular environment. Thus, the elves who chose to explore the sea became the Aluari (or sea elves), those who chose to fully embrace the wilds became the Nandari (wood elves), and those Elves who chose to explore the crystalline caverns beneath the mountains grew accustom to eternal darkness and became the Drovesti (dark elves).
Upon seeing Isha's First Children flourish within the garden which Kurnos provided her, the other divine beings desired creations of their own. Gondol created the dwarves, a hearty peoples filled with the craft and invention of their divine father. He provided them the hills and mountains, from which they constructed vast, underground kingdoms. Kurnos created many of the beasts to roam the land and air, and placed them within the lush forest realm he had granted Isha's children. Other creations followed as the many races of Verridia were given form from the boundless inspiration the gods expressed. Often the gods would come together to share in the birth of a new race; such was the creation of the gnomes, a race possessing fonts of inspiration and skill for invention, coupled with a lust of laughter and exuberance for life. None of gods, however, possessed the talent of shaping a new race quite like Isha. While the dwarves and gnomes possessed long life, even they succumbed to Asuryond's call. For he governed time itself, and all living things were bound to its law. Upon seeing the First Children ignore the passage of time, he proclaimed that while the elves would be prodigiously long-lived, they would still grow weary of the world and die. Isha, who loved her children above all other creations, despaired and cried; her tears falling like rain onto the mortal world below, providing the waters of life that further transformed all of Verridia, beyond her garden, into a rich and bountiful land. Upon the loss of immortality, First Children found they could no longer adapt at will to specific environments. Wherever they were, at the moment of Asuryond's issued decree, the elves physical attributes remained as they were, thus fracturing them into many varied subraces.
At last the Children of creation walked the land united in mortality. As their knowledge grew they attempted to build. But the land, while verdant and lush, was fierce and harsh, and the Children were largely dashed and consumed by the elements. The Children looked to their creators for guidance and protection. The gods gave them gifts, lending their own power to their children to create and shape the world around them; these were the first magics.
Thus, the various peoples began to learn how to bend the fierce earth to their will: to temper the fires, to tame the floods, and to foster plant and beast into nourishment. Language became commonplace, cultures were born, and governance replaced anarchy. The realm grew quieter, the people expanded, and even more races were given life. As cultures grew, and the various races further understood the world around them, they looked up to their Divine Creators and gave them worship, title, and purpose.
The Age of Betrayal
Over time, some of the peoples grew arrogant. Seeing their arcane gifts as proof the gods held no sway over their fate, some began to believe that, with enough understanding, they could become as powerful as the gods themselves. As such, many began to shun faith for their own pursuits. Though this hurt and surprised the Creators, they understood the willfulness of their creations and endured out of love and hope. Not all of the Creators were understanding or accepting of their creations new found arrogance. The First Children were particularly arrogant and brash, having tasted immortality only to have it stripped from them; they openly questioned the will and motives of Isha. Many of the First Children turned away from her completely, though Isha's love for her favored children never wavered.
It was Vax'l-Thule, the Faceless One, who first grew tired of the arrogance of the First Children and the failings of their Mother to correct their erring ways. Vax'l-Thule, at first, tried to reason with Isha; to teach her children humility, but she refused. This refusal infuriated Vax'l-Thule, for he had grown to truly hate the children of Isha; for a mortal to question the will of their creator was cardinal sin to the Faceless One. So Vax'l-Thule attempted to persuade the others who shared similar views regarding their creations. Many of the other Creators were loath to move against another of their kind, preferring to use diplomacy to sway favor with Isha, hoping she might teach her children respect. When Isha again refused, preferring to give her children the freedom of choice, Vax'l-Thule enlisted the aid of Zehir; who's honeyed tongue could entice even the most devout to abandon their convictions, to spread a single fallacy directly to the First Children.
Upon the mortal world, the advent of the arcane seemed to be the key to a bountiful age of plenty, but also proved to threaten it, as prosperity soon gave way to greed. Petty squabbles erupted over resources and wealth among the elite, while the rumor of immortality through perfected arcanum began to drive the greatest mages wild with a lust for power unending. One mortal mage, her name either lost or struck from history, crafted now-forbidden rites to starve the God of Death, by gorging herself on his power, felling him and taking his place among the pantheon, making her the first and only mortal to ascend through such means. She became known as Khaela'zun, and her ascension would herald the apocalypse.
Upon Khaela'zun's arrival, Asuryond assembled those gods who were loyal to him. The gifting of the arcane to the mortal races had created a division between the Creators; some believing in the free will granted to their children, and others believing it best to purge the world and begin anew. Sharadol, who was Asuryond's sibling, advocated for destruction of Verridia. The mortal races had succeeded in killing one of their gods and must be destroyed for their sacrilege, she argued. The Divine Creators took turns, arguing and debating with one another, seeking a resolution. Sharadol rallied allies to her side; those gods who did not stand with Asuryond stood with her, and they were: Bhaal, war-like and eager to teach humility to the First Children, Tiamat, who had grown jealous of Isha's talent and who believed her draconic progeny should be most favored, Vax'l-Thule, and the newly ascended God over Death, Khaela'zun. Khaela'zun's unnatural ascension was blasphemy in the highest order according to Asuryond; he wished for nothing more than to cast her out of the Heavens and down into bowels of the Abyss. Divine law prohibited the gods from raising arms against each other while within the Divine Heavens from which they ruled over Verridia, and thus Khaela'zun was safe from Asuryond and those loyal to him for the time being.
While the gods argued, Vax'l-Thule and Zehir moved against the other Creators. The Faceless One and the Silvered Tongue descended unto the mortal world, using avatars to speak directly to the First Children. Zehir was not Vax'l-Thule's first choice; the Silvered Tongue was a trickster and often duplicitous but he too had grown tired with the arrogance of the mortal races. He wished to bring hardship to Isha's children for their hubris, but where Vax'l-Thule desired to inflict a lasting wound against those he hated, Zehir harbored a begrudging respect for the elves; so haughty and arrogant, but unabashedly so. Zehir's silky voice carried across the wind, into the depths of the ocean and into the caverns below the earth, and he offered the Children of Isha something they desired more than anything arcane mastery could grant them; he offered them the choice of immortality.
As the whisper of promised immortality spread among the First Children, Zehir and Vax'l-Thule waited for the elves to respond. The two deities did not wait long; many of the elves desired nothing more than to reign supreme across the Material Plane as they once did. They were, however, deceived.
The elves who attempted to once again taste immortality were struck down. Their memories were stripped away, their physical form warped and altered by Vax'l-Thule into what would become known as human. Hence forth, instead of possessing a lifespan surpassing a millennia, the newly formed humans would live only a handful of brutal decades before succumbing to Khaela'zun's deadly call. Some of the First Children did not accept the gift, instead choosing to believe in Isha's divine wisdom; those elves were spared Vax'l-Thule's treacherous curse. Seeing that some of the First Children remained loyal to their divine mother, Zehir smiled; he had defied Vax'l-Thule and instead given choice to the elves. Understanding what has transpired, Vax'l-Thule sneered and cursed Zehir; if Silvered Tongue desired to act duplicitous as the serpent then his form forever would reflect his nature. Zehir's form wavered and twisted, and he screamed in defiance as he became the Cloaked Serpent.
Within the Divine Heavens, upon the moment of Vax'l-Thule's treachery, Isha collapsed in agony as the realization of what had become of her favored children became known. Her lover, Kurnos, moved to her in panic and protection. She imparted to him what had transpired while the remaining Divine Creators were locked in fierce debate and argument, and with that knowledge Kurnos grabbed his mighty spear and leaped from the Heavens and downward into the mortal world, his rage focused upon Vax'l-Thule. The pantheon descended into chaos as the Divine Creators and those who would become known as the Divine Betrayers prepared for war. As Kurnos touched down upon the mortal world, rage burning in his heart, he hurled his deadly spear at Vax'l-Thule. Vax'l-Thule was no great warrior, but managed to avoid becoming impaled upon the Great Hunter's brutal weapon and instead decided to flee. At first Kurnos pursued the Faceless One, but as the sound of battle began to rage around him, the hunter allowed his prey to flee; vowing to bring his fullest wrath again Vax'l-Thule when they next met.
For the first time since the gifts of arcanum, the focus of magic became warfare. The gods themselves joined their children on the field of battle, descending from the heavens to take up arms against one another.
No record remains of the terrible war that followed, but its effects are still felt today. The sheer magnitude of the energies unleashed in the ensuing battle of the gods and mortals alike was enough to fray the very fabric of the Weave, spilling unbridled destruction into the world. As mortals attempted to harness the deluge of magical energies for their own gains, the divine daughter of Isha and Kurnos, Mystra, ignited her divine spark to sever the mortal race's connection to the Weave, completely halting the flow of magical energy across all of Verridia. The result of the severing of the Weave utterly destroyed Mystra, sending a cataclysmic shock wave across the entire Material Plane. The empire of Vos was brought to ruin, and the conflict devastated Verridia's people, reducing most cities to ash. So great was the loss of life during the war that historians believe no more than a third of Verridia's population survived. Only two bastions of civilization remain today from that age; the elven city of Elladrel, and the Crystal City, Vesthalox.
The world entered a long, dark period of recovery, when history had to be recovered and purpose had to be restored. The Divine Betrayers were banished and imprisoned, but the threat of their return weighed heavily on the world. The Divine Creators felt that their involvement upon the realm was to blame for the cataclysmic damage inflicted upon Verridia. They knew that while any divine gateways were left open, the prisons that held the banished Betrayers would remain imperfect and temporary.
Thus, in hopes of ensuring such ruin would never again befall Verridia, they left their children to fend for themselves. The Divine Creators returned to their own realms, and sealed the pathways to the mortal realm behind them with the Divine Gate. Only in this way could they prevent their misguided, and corrupt brethren from physically returning to the prime material. This action also carried with it a self-imposed sentence of exile. The gods would never again be allowed to visit the world they created. The disappearance of the gods marked the end of the Age of Betrayal.
Much time has passed since, and the world has been reborn again. Mystra was reborn, having reformed within the Weave after her sacrifice, and with her rebirth came a return of magic to the mortal realm. Mystra created strict rules and guidelines for the use of magic to prevent the mortal races from repeating past abuses. The gods still exhibit their influence and guidance from beyond the Divine Gate, bestowing their knowledge and power to their most devout worshipers, but the path of mortals is now their own to make. New cities, kingdoms, and cultures have retaken the world, built over the ashes of the old. Humanity, a new race in its infancy, has flourished; its shorted lifespan creating a people that strive to achieve as much as they can in the years they are given. A brighter future drives people day after day, while buried ruins and forgotten relics remind all people of a darker era of mistakes and hubris that should never be repeated.