|Shar'thalas, the Forsaken Lands|
|Recognised regional languages||Draconic, Giantish|
|Government||Magocracy / Theocracy|
|-||Mage Council / General||Order of Twilight / Martine Shieldheart|
Bitterly cold and bleak, the lands of Shar’thalas are the second coldest region on the continent. Once only barbarians considered the Forsaken Lands home, but for nearly 800 years the wretched people known as the Twilight Elves carved out an empire in this inhospitable land. Now it is a land torn in two, as a civil war as bitter as the arctic climate rages across its stony tundras and deep pine forests.
Shar’thalas, The Forsaken Lands, so named by the first Eladrin settlers to the continent, were bleak and desolate even at the time of the coming of the Elves. Few of the elves settled there, those that did were primarily hunters and the like, gathering in small isolated communities. The Eladrin who settled here hunted the magical beasts of the southern coastal pine forests and the tundra plain. They were the first to begin to study the ways of magic, and how such beasts could exist.
As the rift began to grow between the elves of the west and east, the Eladrin who dwelled in the Forsaken Lands threw their lot in with the sorcerers of the Vale. The ensuing war was great and terrible. Arcane power and beasts created through magic clashed against the power of nature. Wonders of magic appeared as they had not been seen since the time of the Giant Empire. The elves of the Forsaken Lands took to capturing the magical beasts and binding the white dragons of the northern reaches to serve the armies of the Archmage, Calendor Sunsworn. While they provided little in the way of direct assistance to the efforts of the Star Elves against the Druids of the Wood Elves, their trained magical beasts of war were of great assistance to Prince Sunsworn and his armies, slowly grinding the druids toward their defeat.
As the war ground to its end, the armies of the Star Elves, aided by the beasts of the Forsaken Lands moved to crush the druids at last, to end the War of the Sundering. At the brink of Prince Sunsworn’s victory, the circles of the druids unleashed their terrible ritual, cursing all who sided with the Prince, all who exalted the power of magic over nature. In one cataclysmic moment, the Star Elves and the Eladrin to the west were struck by this curse, their bodies twisted into pale, wretched, and featureless beings. The magics they wielded went wild, tearing into land, wrenching great rifts into the earth and unleashing the destructive power of the Void upon the land. In an instant, tens of thousands of elves died, the magical cities of the Star Elves crumbled to ruins, and the lands now known as the Grey Wastes were formed.
Prince Sunsworn, and all that was left of his followers fled west, to unite with their allies in the Forsaken lands. He gathered all his people, in the bleak lands to the west, and on a great cliff overlooking the sea, he declared a new order. Their people would take up the name of their new home, and become the Shar’dorei, the Forsaken Children (commonly known as the Twilight Elves). It was here he commanded a great city to be built, Shar’sindor.
In the years that followed, Prince Sunsworn and his people planned their vengeance upon their enemies. They built a number of magical cities in Shar’thalas, but none match the glory of the lost cities of the Star Elves. While the spires of the Star Elves once gleamed with the purest white marble and gold filigree, the cities of Shar’thalas became bleak, featureless and pale comparisons to the cities of the past, much like the Shar’dorei themselves. From their cities, the Shar’dorei continued to seek power, the power to have their vengeance, and the power to undo what was done to them.
For centuries they bided their time, Sunsworn’s lust for vengeance and power brooding as he waited within his royal halls. Deep in the Vale he had abandoned a great font of magical power, a nexus of energies powered by the Celestial Spark of Light that had been cast out into the world millennia before. However, by the time Sunsworn had gathered the strength to claim the power his people had left behind in their exile, he found that the lands which they once claimed as the Star Elves were now ruled over by men. His first attempt to invade the Vale and reclaim his lost power was met with failure as his armies were turned back at the last moment by an allied force of men from across the Vale.
Sunsworn returned to Shar’thalas to wait, and would not make another attempt until chance and the manipulations of both the Goddess of Darkness and the Lord of the Nine gave him the power to claim godhood for himself. He betrayed the God he had sworn to serve, mortally wounding the Astral Phoenix. It was then that the Astral Phoenix, God of Tyranny and Vengeance, turned to his most devoted servant. By her efforts, she stopped Prince Sunsworn from claiming the Celestial Spark of Light and offered it up in sacrifice to her god, to heal the wound that had been done to him, and remake him in the fires of the Celestial Spark.
In that act, the Astral Phoenix was reborn, and to reward his faithful he used his new powers to redeem all of the Twilight Elves who had been truly faithful to him. In doing so, he split the elves of the Forsaken Lands in two. Those who had failed to devote themselves fully to him remained in their cursed state, while those that had proven themselves worthy were reborn as he was, a new race, the Dawn Elves.
With Sunsworn dead, and the Dawn Elves now a force to be reckoned with, the Forsaken Lands are a land in turmoil. In the absence of their Prince, the Twilight Elves are now ruled by the shadowy order of mages known as the Order of Twilight, while the Dawn Elves gather their strength and march to conquer the Forsaken Lands in the name of their God, the Radiant Phoenix.
The greatest resource Shar’thalas has to offer is the magical power of the Twilight and Dawn Elf sorcerors. While they have relatively little access to metals, with only a few small mines along the eastern border with the Vale, the Shar’dorei do trade their magical knowledge and services for what they require to maintain their cities. They also have an abundance of magical materials that other nations, particularly the Gnomes of Mithrilgear, require for their own magical studies and machinations, due in large part to the large populations of magical beasts that dwell in the tundras and forests of Shar’thalas.
Life and Society
Life in the Forsaken Lands is harsh. There is little arable land, only vast stretches of grey pines and bleak tundra. Few Shar’dorei and Alah'dorei live in small communities in the vast stretches of wild lands due in large part to the dangers of wild magical creatures and white dragons. These communities have become fewer and fewer as villages and towns have found themselves at the center of battlefields, and most people have fled to more fortified cities and military strongholds dotted across the land. The Shar'dorei people live mostly in the magical cities primarily along the western coast where the climate is slightly more hospitable than the north and interior of the country. These cities are desolate places with an eerie, somber quality to them. The ashen grey spires of marble and granite stretch into the nearly constantly grey clouded skies like twisted fingers, casting long shadows upon the creatures that live there. On the other side, the Alah'dorei live mostly in the eastern part of the country in cities that have formed around military outposts. These cities though by no means comfortable due to constant shortages of food and supplies, are otherwise a stark contrast to the bleak and shadowy cities of the Twilight Elves. Though their situation is perhaps more bleak than the Twilight Elves, the Dawn Elves find great strength in their shared struggle and sense of community that has arisen out of their shared faith.
Amidst this depressing atmosphere, are wonders of magic unseen since the Age of Giants. Magic is common in these cities. Bridges of force and orbs of translocation connect the streets and spires together. Some buildings float freely in the skies above, and magically manipulated brooms and automatons do much of the work of managing waste.
The societies of the Twilight and Dawn Elves are quite different from eachother, further representing the divide that exists in the Forsaken Lands. Twilight Elf society revolves almost exclusively around magic, particularly under the oppressive oligarchical regime of the Order of Twilight. This Order of exclusive arcanists use propaganda and fear, as well as vague promises of freeing the Twilight Elves from their curse as a means to control the population. Their entire society is singularly focused on their cursed forms, ever seeking the means to use this curse against their enemies and regain their former glory. Many Shar’dorei, deeply depressed by their natural forms, take other forms to help them forget the torture of their state of existence. To outsiders, this can be quite a jarring experience, entering into the cities of the Twilight Elves and seeing all manner of humanoid creatures interacting with each other as if it were no strange occurrence for gnolls to keep shops and sell their goods to humans. It can also be quite confusing when confronted with a true human, gnome, or other humanoid amidst imposter Elves.
On the other side, the Dawn Elf society revolves around their faith. Because each and every Dawn Elf was redeemed of their cursed forms due to their true faith in Ashrael, all Dawn Elves share a common religious outlook that in most cases borders on zealotry. Power is held by those with religious and military authority, and all of their society is singularly focused on their crusade of vengeance against the Twilight Elves. To outsiders, Dawn Elves can appear obsessive, zealotous, and harsh, but it cannot be denied that their people share a strong sense of devotion to their cause, and that they truly believe it to be just.
Government and Politics
The official government of Shar’thalas is a magocracy. The Order of Twilight now rules the Shar’dorei from within the Three Spires of the Twilight. Few ever see these mysterious wizards, as they keep themselves locked within their towers and weave their dark sorcery. There remain some Twilight Elves who can trace their lineages to great noble houses of the Star Elves and that prestige carries some weight, but the Order of Twilight cares even less for titles than Sunsworn did, holding much of the power of governance within the sorcerous families within the Order.
The Order of Twilight is not the only source of law and order in the Forsaken Lands. The Dawn Elves have succeeded in capturing some territories, and they rule over those places under martial law. Their leader is the paladin who saved Ashrael, a woman named Martine Shieldheart. She commands the Dawn Elf host in their efforts to conquer the Forsaken Lands from the Order of Twilight.
The Order of Twilight : The Order of Twilight is a mysterious cabal of Twilight Elf arcanists formed by the Archmage, Prince Sunsworn after the Kel'dorei Curse fell upon his people to aid in his search for a cure. It is formed from the ranks of the Twilight Elves most skilled and talented wizards and sorcerers. In the wake of Sunsworn's demise, the Order's power has grown to fill the void of governance over the Twilight Elf people. Many Twilight Elves join the Order for power, while others join out of fear of the Order's leadership who now rule the Forsaken Lands. The Order is lead by the Twilight Council, a shadowy group of eight of the most powerful arcanistst. No one knows exactly which of the many powerful wizards who are members of the Order are members of the Council, only adding to the fear and paranoia which now defines life in Shar'thalas.
The Dawning Legion : The Dawning Legion is a group that in reality refers to the entirety of the Dawn Elf host who conduct the war against the Order of Twilight and its loyal subjects. Many use the term to refer to all Dawn Elves loyal to General Shieldheart, though typically only by outsiders who do not understand the heirarchy of the Dawning Legion. In truth, the Dawning Legion refers to the Dawn Elf army under the command of General Shieldheart and her War Council. While smaller in number than the forces the Order of Twilight can bring to bear, the Dawning Legion makes up for what it lacks in numbers with zeal, determination, and skill. Most of the Legion is comprised of Dawn Elves, though any who make themselves enemies of the Order of Twilight, including some Twilight Elves and other races devoted to the Radiant Phoenix, often find friends within the Dawning Legion.
Even after Sunsworn's betrayal, the worship of Ashrael remains strong in the Forsaken Lands, and not only amongst the Dawn Elves who were redeemed by the Radiant Phoenix. With the oppression of the Order of Twilight, many Twilight Elves are driven into the flock of the Radiant Phoenix in search of the power to get revenge on servants of the Twilight Council for crimes comitted against the people, as well as some who hope to find the same redemption granted to the Dawn Elves. There are even some representatives of other races who are loyal to the Radiant Phoenix who find themselves fighting on the side of the Dawning Legion who see this battleground as the first of many to come to spread the light of vengeance across Damasia and the world.
Most other religions are suppressed by the Order of Twilight as potential political rivals. There remain some faiths who keep themselves underground, hidden from the watchful eyes of the Order of Twilight (despite often being all-seeing). The Cult of Shadow and Cult of Nessus have found increased footing in the Forsaken Lands, capitalizing on the strife and disarray in the land.
Though the Forsaken Lands are mostly inhospitable, the Shar’dorei have managed to adapt and thrive in the cold climate. Though there are few cities, those that exist are metropolises with very few people living in small communities in the wilderness. These cities are bastions against the unforgiving wild. Nearly 99% of the population lives in cities, particularly along the coast. Because of this, Shar’dorei cities are massive and built tall, sustained more by arcane power than anything else.
Shar’sindor: The capital of the Forsaken Lands, Forsaken Spires is built atop cliffs of black stone overlooking the Grey Sea. There are primarily two parts of the city, the Surface District and the Tunnel District. The surface district consists of the buildings and spires built atop the cliff. This is the oldest part of the great city, built at Prince Sunsworn’s command nearly 800 years ago. Its towers stretch high into the sky and its paved streets are filled with wonders of arcane power. The tallest tower stands at the center of the city; the former High Temple of the Astral Phoenix. It is here that Prince Sunsworn once ruled his kingdom and delivered the edicts of his god to his people. The Towers of the Order of Twilight stand prominently against the others as ominous black spires which crackle with arcane power. These towers are places where the secretive wizards of the Twilight Order conduct their arcane rituals and experimentations, as well as standing as the new source of authority with Prince Sunsworn's demise.
Below, in the Tunnel District, great halls carved from the stone by eldritch power connect the docks at the Phoenix Gate with the upper city. Built around the time just after the defeat of Prince Sunsworn’s armies in the east during the Twilight War, this district is filled with merchants both foreign and local hocking their wares which arrive at the Phoenix Gate from Ry’hel. With the combination of the shipyards at the Phoenix Gate and at Ry’hel, the Prince has been able to muster a sizeable navy, an asset he did not have when he first sought to reclaim the Vale from humanity.
Tal'Belore: Called the City of the Sun in the common tongue, Tal'Belore is actually more of a military fortress than a city. Nestled against the western edge of the Mithril Mountains, north of the Citadel of Dusk and west of Farlan's Wall, the City of the Sun is considered by the Dawn Elf people to be the true capital of the Forsaken Lands. Tal'Belore, while still small in size compared to other cities in Shar'thalas, is well defended by the soldiers of the Dawning Legion, as it should be since it is the location of the central religious, military, and governmental authority of the Dawn Elf host and its efforts to reclaim the Forsaken Lands from their Twilight Elf kin. While accomodations for average soldiers and citizens are spartan compared to other places, Tal'Belore is considered a safe-haven. Its most prominent structure is the Cathedral of the Dawn at the center of the city, which acts both as the current High Temple of the Radiant Phoenix and is where the leader of the Dawning Legion, Martine Shieldheart, holds her War Council. The Cathedral is a beautiful building, with tall spires and crenelations of white marble. Its walls are adorned in gold and stained glass windows depict the Radiant Phoenix in all his glory, rising from the ashes of his former self. Its spires are topped with deep red tiles and rimmed in gold. At dawn, the cathedral's great front windows catch the rays of first light, filling the sanctuary with a kaleidoscope of color.
Citadel of Dusk: The Citadel of Dusk is the largest Shar’dorei city not built along the western coast. Built into the side of the Nelfar’s Spine Mountains, the Citadel of Dusk is the Shar’dorei mirror to the human city of Farlan’s Wall. The city’s magical wonders rival even the capital city. The Citadel provides most of the native mined ore in Shar’yii and has a number of forges which turn this precious limited resource into weapons and metal goods, primarily for use by the Prince’s growing armies. The last time the gates of the Citadel of Dusk opened to elvish horn blasts was just over 70 years ago, and when that happened the city nearly emptied to march upon the lands of men. While there is no immediate evidence of this occurring again any time soon, the people of Farlan’s Wall continue to remain vigilant against the people of the Citadel of Dusk. The most pressing worry to men of the Vale is rumor that the gnomes of Mithrilgear have entered into negotiations with the Changelings for the construction of Lightning Rails to connect The Citadel of Dusk with the Confederacy. If this is true, the tracks will most likely be laid right underneath the Vale, leading many to fear that if this occurs the next war may not come from the other side of the wall.
Ry’hel: Jade Tears is a large city built on an island in the middle of the Grey Sea. This city acts as the primary trade hub of Shar’thalas with ships from all parts of the world dropping off vital goods required by the cities on the mainland in exchange for rare magical goods such as spell components and magical creatures. Along with its many piers and trade docks, Ry’hel has an impressive shipyard which has seen considerable growth over the course of the last century, constructing more and more ships for the Order of Twilight's navy. It is most commonly believed that Ry’hel was once an ancient Eladrin city, settled by Eladrin even before the arrival of the Elves to Damasia. There are however rumors that there are tunnels beneath the island which connect out to the sea and deeper. If this is true, it is possible that an entire lost and submerged city exists beneath the streets and spires of Ry’hel, a city of beings capable of living and breathing beneath the waves without the aid of magic.
Firdul: Meaning Dark Glade in the Elvish Tongues, Firdul was once a small settlement of Eladrin before the War of the Sundering. It was a center of druidic power for the Tempest Walkers, but with the War against the Ravenclaw drawing an increased bitterness toward all druids, the circle quickly found itself attacked and destroyed by the Shar’dorei after the war. Atop the font of elemental power, the Shar’dorei built a magnificent city. It is now a great citadel and watchtower of the southern border, its spires and walls built atop a massive mote of earth held aloft in the air. Its defenses against ground assault are flawless. In times of siege, which have occurred a few times from Dragonkin raiders, the only means of access to the city can be shut down, denying all teleportation into and out of the city.