The History of the Underworld

I, Roatka the Inquisitive, son of Felpara Hyperbole, Grand Historian of the Exalted Office of Recorder of the Tepara-yi, have been commanded by her Royal Highness, Immanence Sakraphia XXIII, Defender of the Budget, Levier of Taxes, and Protector of the Treasury, to record for all posterity the history of our great land for an accounting of all the great peoples and enclaves who must, to perpetuate the sanctity of the Royal House, be taxed.

Be it known that exclusion from said history is in no way to be interpreted by the Courts, upon pain of death for all the principals, witnesses, legal counsel, judges, all associated families and their pets, as a reason for exclusion from the tax rolls. Upon first reading, any excluded shall immediately present themselves to the Office of the Census and Animal Control for inclusion, liable for all back taxes and whatever penalties deemed appropriate by the Department of Castration and Beheading. Verily, upon understanding of the above, I do set forth that:

Before the conception of time, the conundrum within the puzzle of “being” prevented consciousness. And, without consciousness there could be no structure or value. Within the inchoate pyrotechnics of chaotic mass, a presence formed to look about for order. Seeing none, he resolved to bring about “Perception.”

Perception visited itself upon the void of reality and saw uniformity. Sameness. Not a single degree of differentiation among anything it surveyed. As a result, Perception doubted itself. This was the creation of “Doubt.” And Perception and Doubt, although intricately linked, forever struggle against one another.

Perception and Doubt were sewn through the matrix of Chaos. They visited every width, every height, every depth, and every sameness. These visits created “Structure,” which Chaos forever fights against.

Perception and Structure sensed that they were kindred spirits, and were drawn together. Each felt the embrace of the other and knew that it was “good.” But Perception was also inherently tied to Doubt, and Doubt grew jealous. To spite Perception, Doubt allied itself with Chaos. Chaos was amenable to this joining as it also felt the void of Structure. And Doubt and Chaos, whose foundation was jealousy, knew that their embrace was “evil.”

These embodiments created a tension in the universe, which stretched it into a plane. The areas of the plane where Perception and Structure ruled were good. And the areas of the plane where Chaos and Doubt held sway were evil. Only in the precise center, where there was absolute balance, was it neutral.

The universe, stretched along a plane no wider than a gnat’s eyelash, was under tremendous strain. A tiny hole, smaller than a minnow’s eye, ripped in the very center of the universal plane. From this hole, the gigantic being who began creation with his wonder, stepped forth. The being surveyed the universal plane and was pleased and displeased by what he saw. One flickering thought, less significant than you or I considering next year’s lunch, brought the four primary universal considerations to lie prostrate at his feet.

At once, a name simultaneously escaped the exhalation of the four, although they had no prior knowledge of any’s existence other than their own. The universe shuddered at the name, and “Melkor” became known to every molecule. Melkor examined existence and was amused by what had transpired between the four. He laughed at their puny imaginations regarding what creation entailed, and decided to show them what it could encompass. And to chain them to it for all eternity as a lesson to any upstart beings.

Melkor blinked and reshaped the plane into beginnings of the corporeal world we experience today. This world was unpopulated and empty of life. Chaos and Doubt groveled before Melkor and begged to be allowed to maintain their hold on evil. Perception and Structure more reasonably put forth that if evil were allowed to exist, good must also. They argued that evil could not be recognized if there were no good to compare it to, just as we do not recognize ugliness if we have never seen beauty.

The ubiquitous Melkor decided that the grovelings and protestations of the primary considerations were amusing, and allowed them continued existence. He promised them that he would, in his own time, provide denizens for them to rule, and that he would return periodically to examine their progress.

As Melkor faded away in a giant, translucent bubble, all eyes were on him - until Chaos noted the inattention of the others. Chaos nudged Doubt as Perception and Structure ran down the road, waving and calling to the receding Bubble.

Evil quickly made a grab for the newly created territory, and by the time Perception and Structure were aware of their situation, they found little land left. So Perception and Structure immediately laid claim to the vast oceans and seas.

Evil controlled land, and Good controlled water. The balance of neutrality hovered over both in air. After several millennia, Melkor returned to see what his joke had wrought. He found that Evil spent time guarding itself from the sun, where its blemishes and warts were open to inspection. Evil had built vast systems of caves and canyons, ever deeper and more hidden. The evil beings themselves were hiding in a vast abyss, so deep and hidden that it sank into another plane of existence. Melkor blinked, and reappeared at the bottom of the deepest ocean. He found areas developed the length and breadth of the watery existence.

Melkor turned, and was next far in the air, buffeted by the wind, but only because he allowed it. The air was neither high nor low. It permeated every vacuum, every hole. It was all the same - with perfect balance. Melkor determined that the universal considerations were not fond of each other, because he found neutrality, alone, hidden far in the sky... so far that it also was on another plane. A plane of astral existence.

The universal concerns of Chaos and Doubt once again groveled before the omnipresent Melkor. They argued that their dominion needed servants, as caves and earth needed to be swept and dusted. Melkor saw through this argument even before it was presented, but was amused by their brazen attempt at subterfuge. Melkor burped, and all the universal concerns found themselves balanced on the tip of Melkor’s big toe. Melkor then pronounced that he was granting Chaos and Doubt the power to imbue life, so as to manufacture the needed servants to maintain the realm of soil. Chaos and Doubt loudly celebrated, envisioning victory and rule over all realms. But before Perception and Structure could even gasp their dismay, Melkor continued. He pronounced, that in order to prevent skewing the balance of the universe, he would bestow the same powers on Perception and Structure. The celebration of Chaos and Doubt turned to groans of despair as Perception and Structure smiled at Melkor’s wisdom.

When the four looked into each others’ eyes, they realized that Melkor was once again gone. The frustration and jealousy of Chaos and Doubt knew no bounds and exploded through the known universe. No thoughts such as these had ever before been uttered, and physical violence was introduced to the universe. The clash lasted many millennia before all four realized that they had not gained or lost an inch. Each slowly backed away and retreated to their former haunts.

But the universe itself did not escape the first clash unscathed. The elements of the planets themselves had been thrown toward one another. Land was now found in water in the form of islands. Water was now found in land in the form of lakes and rivers. Land was in the air with the creation of wind and weather, which blew dust and dirt. Water was in the air in clouds, mist and rain. Air was in the water in the form of foam and bubbles. And air was in the earth with the breakdown of rock into soil. Melkor had orchestrated the setting for life.

The four universal elements sat for decades planning their next step, each anxious to try their new powers of creation. They were unsure. Never before had life been created. They knew not what bounds or limitations might constrain them. They recognized that, although they might like to create a being powerful enough to destroy their rivals, that also meant that it would be powerful enough to destroy themselves. Independently, they came to the decision to start small.

All sides were so intent in their plans that they loosened their grip on their domain somewhat. Perception and Structure gained a foothold on land, while Chaos and Doubt tentatively explored some of the watery areas. Air continued to permeate all.

They wanted a life-form that was non-ambulatory, so it wouldn’t leave if something went wrong. Thus, plants were created. Small plants began to appear in the world. Evil created weeds, lichens, and moss that stunk. Good created grass, seaweed, and flowers. Each thought that their creation was a success, but knew that there were more exciting things to do when creating life. They also discovered, much to their dismay, that the plant forms were not nearly as immobile as they had hoped. Seeds flew on the wind, which being neutral, blew them everywhere. Soon, all the plant forms were mixed throughout the world.

The elements quickly became bored with their plants. They had experimented with various forms, hoping to use the knowledge gained to help them make other life forms to help them in their struggle with the others. They made huge trees, trees that would grab at movement, and entangling vines. They made mushrooms that could move, and bushes that attacked. But all of the plants had one major drawback, and the four elements all discovered it. The plants just weren’t sentient. The four knew they had to take a step on the path of creation which would never be able to be turned back. They gathered the energy from the universe, and started to form it into beings. The universe crackled with sound as its energy was diverted to nonnatural use.

Each side started small, not wanting to accidently create something that got out of control. Rodents and insects were experimented with in various sizes. They were mobile and had rudimentary intelligence, but still could not manage independent thought - a prerequisite for and army commander. Good knew that evil would try a war of conquest, and also knew that they had to be prepared to defend themselves.

Evil started by making a race called the “kobolds.” These small, lizard-like hominids were naturally vicious, much to Chaos and Doubt’s delight. The kobolds were trained in evil, until they took glee in creating havoc and pain. They honed their skills by attacking and feeding on each other, until only the very strongest of their kind remained.

Perception and Structure began with a race they named the Ewoks. These small, furry humanoids were inherently good. They built structures to live in, and perceived the advantages of cooperation. They helped those among themselves that were not as talented, harvesting what donations they could. Soon, they had a settlement built, where they prospered; growing and eating plants in the desire not to harm.

Evil soon discovered that if they did not intervene, their creations would make themselves extinct through infighting. The kobolds were small, but belligerent, and fought themselves continuously. Evil decided to let them know of the creation of good, thereby giving them an outlet for their hostility, and striking a blow against Structure and Perception at the same time.

Chaos planted the idea in a kobold leader’s small brain that there was another race. A race that valued structure, and tasted delicious with mustard. The kobolds, unfamiliar with independent thought, immediately rallied around their new leader and set off for the Ewok encampment. The Ewoks were unaware of the kobold’s intentions and had not learned the bellicose arts, preferring to share and live in harmony. When the Kobolds surged across their village, they were caught unawares and almost slaughtered. Ewoks were not without inherent intelligence, and immediately found the will to defend themselves. Luckily for them, the Kobolds had already decimated their own ranks by all of their previous infighting.

The epic battle among the smallest warriors ebbed and flowed. Many casualties from both sides fed the earth with their blood. After both sides were decimated, survival instincts forced them to withdraw. The kobolds retreated to their caves to lick their wounds and replenish warriors for their next attack. The Ewoks moved their entire encampment up into a giant tree, as it gave them a far superior defensive position, and attack was not part of their nature. The four universal elements examined each second of the contest to evaluate gains and losses, so they could press home the next battle.

It was obvious to them that the two races were too evenly matched. Chaos, being the more devious, declared that they must continue creating, only bigger and stronger races to smash the Ewoks. However, Perception perceived that Evil would attempt this, and knew that Good must reciprocate if balance would be maintained.

After many attempts, Evil managed to create more races for their quest for universal domination. They created Goblins and Bugbears, beings a bit larger, stronger, and more fierce than the Kobold experiment. Good, aware of Evil’s plans, created beings of their own. They made races that were larger than the ewoks, but not necessarily as big and strong as Evil’s answer. But, in a most important development for the universe, they created races with intelligence to overcome the drawback of less strength. Good created Man, Dwarves, and Elves. And so it came to be that the creations of Evil lived together in the caves below the ground, while the creations of Good found solace in each other’s company in the forests.

After the trials among the beings of learning to get along with themselves, they began the plans to dominate, or protect themselves, whichever the case may be, from the others. The Ewoks tried to convey the ferocity of the evil beings to the Elves and Humans. But, not having experienced it for themselves, they remained innocent. They believed their small brethren, but had no way of realizing the seriousness of their predicament without having had battle themselves.

The Kobolds, on the other hand, related stories of battle and blood to their new cousins, inflaming their bloodlust. Goblins and Bugbears joined their diminutive tutors around war fires, planning the desecration and devastation of their rivals. After a week of war parties and deathvows, they set out to wipe Good from existence.

However, the Ewoks had learned from their experience with the Kobolds, and vowed to perpetually watch for further attacks, so as to never be surprised again. And these capable sentries saw the approach of the oncoming evil army, as they were not subtle. The Ewoks called down and warned their fellows, who tried to mount a defense.

The fight was horrible and drawn out. It ranged over miles and days. The humans and elves had used their brains to forge weapons beforehand, and somewhat evened the balance. But at their deaths, the Evil forces picked up the weapons and used them themselves. Sword to club, mace to log, tooth to nail, hand to claw... the battle raged. The cries and moans of the dying excited Evil more, but also made Good more resolute to protect their comrades.

Now, since the inherent nature of Good was cooperation, many friends had been made among their troops. When Evil fell, their cohorts simply ran on, trying to find more to kill. There were times, in their bloodlust, that evil even killed evil, simply to taste the blood. At other times, the forces of Evil were weakened in numbers because the participants would be distracted by torturing the wounded. When dark fell, making more fighting difficult, the Evil troops would find rest, and eat the dead for sustenance. It mattered not whether the dead were friend or foe, as long as there was blood left.

This, of course, was not the case with the forces of Good, who valued life. They fought to protect themselves and their friends, not to destroy others. Even when a foe fell wounded, they would kill quickly and mercifully, and dwelled not on the victim. As such, the deaths of their comrades affected them terribly. Each friend fallen was like a blow to themselves. Our oldest legends record this battle, and the man most affected, although his name has long since fell through the dust of time. He is simply called “The First.”

This hero was in a troop at the forefront of the fighting. He had survived three days by using his wit and strength. He and his comrades found it easy to lure the foe into ambushes, and were decimating their opponents. The men would jump to the front and engage as the enemy came into range. The elves dance at the edge of the foray and jump in to impose a strike at any opportunity. And the Ewoks, small in stature but not small in bravery, would come from behind to slice hamstrings and tendons. But each ambush also cost the Good a few. And each of the few played on the minds and conscience of those remaining.

The dawn of the fourth day was blood red. Contestants from both sides drew themselves to their feet, beginning their search for their foes. The man and his comrades dreaded the coming day, knowing that more would fall. They set a new ambush, hoping it would be one of the last. But they suspected that all would continue until no more came forward. The small ewok sentry gave the signal that Evil approached. The signal continued, and continued still... the force was large. The small band braced themselves. They knew there was no retreat. It was a stand to the death, more than likely their own.

The Evil force entered the killing fields. They had no strategy, no leaders, no plan. They simply surged forward like the tide. The small band of Good had no way of knowing, but they were among the last of their kind. The fight was terrible. No quarter asked or given. Each time a warrior of Good fell, a pain sparked brighter in the mind of the human. He stood astride a rock in the midst of battle. He alone pushed Evil back. The cries and screams of the fallen filled his brain, feeding the spark. The man went through the motions of defending himself, and Evil fell all around him, but he was not cognizant of what he did. The few remaining Good gathered around the rock, desperate to make a final stand. “The First,” high on the rock in view of all, was shrieking with the pain of the dead within his head.

At that moment, his fast friend fell from the blow of a bloody war axe. The friend, whom he loved, filled the man’s head with his anguished scream. It pierced the heart and soul of the man on the rock, overflowing his brain and body with the terror of the past days. The man dropped his weapon, to the amazement of all, and held forth his arms. Tension gripped his body as he wailed his sorrow at the loss of his friends. A glow emanated from his body, and encompassed his friends, protecting them from the blows of Evil. At the same time, fire and lightning flew from his fingertips, smiting the foes around him!

The Evil troops immediately around the man were incinerated, while his friends were untouched. The Good forces stared in amazement at the dead and wounded. The Evil troops on the periphery of the fight also stopped and stared, mouths open in wonder. As if at signal, they all immediately turned and ran from the field of battle. This was no orderly retreat, but a dead run from sheer terror in any direction, as long as it was - away! The man on the rock was no less surprised than the rest, and stood staring at his own hands. His friends helped him from the rock and led him staggering back to the encampment. They told the others from pockets of survival the tale, and the whispers and murmurs filled the night. Thus, magic was introduced to the world by “The First.”

The forces of evil retreated to the depths of their caverns, amazed and confused about their loss. They had been on the verge of complete victory, only to have it snatched away by fear of the unknown. Chaos and Doubt berated them for many years, but secretly were intrigued by this unexpected development.

The troops of Good rallied their spirit at the feats of “The First.” He tried to explain that he did not know what he did, and had no conscious control over this mysterious power. But they would have none of it. They threw festivals and parties, and gave the protesting man no rest. Time and time again he was asked to recount the events that he had no recollection of, with helpful friends filling in the details.

The man grew extremely weary of these events, and desired rest and succor. He avoided the parties whenever possible, pointing out that they had better get ready for the next foray by evil. But the others were too caught up in their joy. A few people knew that the man was right, and tried to reinterest the group in defense, but to no avail.

The man finally had an epiphany. He knew that he could not, at this time duplicate his feat at the rock. He also knew that somehow he had developed a special power within himself, he could still feel its presence. He further knew that nothing was getting done while he was present, presenting too big of a distraction for the others. So he gathered a few of his closest friends and told them of his strategy. They agreed, and the small group left.

Those remaining were devastated upon the discovery of the absence of the man and his small group. They had unfairly counted upon him to defend them once again, and hadn’t prepared for their own survival. The forces of Good were extremely vulnerable at this time. If Evil had but known, Good might have been wiped from the planet once and for all.

But Evil faced their own problems. They were seriously hurt in the discovery of magic, and magic robbed the survivors of their bravery as well. They frantically tried to figure out the secret of harnessing the natural power unleashed at the rock. But alas, they knew not what had transpired, and weren’t the brightest stars in the sky to begin with.

Chaos and Doubt learned much by their examination of the battle. They knew that their scions had much to offer in ferocity and brute strength. But they were lacking in strategy and brains. They set about trying to fix this situation by creating more races. They added to their arsenal of strength by creating ogres and giants. These fearsome creatures towered over their comrades, but were still not intelligent. Evil strove to remedy this situation by stealing the ideas of Good. They created evil versions of Good’s successes. There were Dark ewoks, and Drow elves, and even humans without their humanity.

Even without magic, the forces of Evil trained for the next battle. They had the brute strength, but now also had leaders of intelligence to try and both strategically and tactically map out the new campaign. This however, worked better in the planning stages than in the field. For as all know, the best laid plans of drows and ewoks sometimes go astray. The regulars, because they weren’t smart enough to buckle their armor without help, had a hard time understanding the instructions. The leaders downplayed the magic, building their lust with speeches of glory and guts.

Evil was busily training and preparing for the next great battle. The forces of Good finally had it dawn on them that they had chased away The First magic user with their selfish desires. They desperately figured out that Evil would not wait for them to gather strength, and would attack at the first opportunity. Their leaders analyzed that one thing holding Evil back was their fear of the magic, and that the one advantage they held was that Evil did not know that The First had left.

But, the leaders were equally confident that sooner or later, Evil would again attempt their annihilation. Men and elves were not as adept at living in the trees as the Ewoks, but still desired more adequate defense. They knew that certain natural formations provided better defense. Huge rocks provided shelter from projectiles. Dense forests provided spots to hide. Rivers and lakes provided barriers to invaders.

The elves, being more in tune to nature, decided to use the natural elements themselves. They found natural burrows. They dwelt in the forests, and even the sea. Their woodcraft became legendary among those who came in contact with them.

Dwarves loved the feel of the earth and rock. They also knew that the natural elements provided strong defense. Although they did not tower over anyone in height, the elementals had imbued in them strong and mighty limbs. They turned their love of the geologic forces to their advantage, and mined down into the earth for defense. In the course of their mining, the dwarves became stonemasons of renown, and some of their earliest structures survive even today.

A byproduct of these endeavors was the minerals needed to produce even superior weapons. Dwarves had also noticed how the tough hides of the Evil forces had provided them some protection. They discovered that some of the minerals they mined were malleable enough to pound into different shapes. The other Good forces were astounded and delighted when the dwarves showed up to a war council wearing these pounded shapes about their bodies. They immediately saw how the plates would provide protection from blow by sword or claw. The magnanimous dwarves also brought materials needed to make armor for the others. Thus, the first smiths were born.

Men, on the other hand, were not as comfortable exposed to the elements. They felt the need to cover themselves and their belongings. They had not the wood or stonecraft of the other races, but they had an inherent ingenuity for manipulating materials into other objects. They improved on the armor and weapons. They took lumber from the forests and built shelters. They took stones from the fields and cliffs and built walls. These not only kept livestock from roaming, but they instinctively knew they would also provide for defense.

The races of Good met regularly to speak of the coming war. They discussed the advantages and disadvantages of each other’s attributes. Each knew they would prefer to stay in their own element of comfort, but that for an integrated defense, that might not be possible. Remembering the last stand of “The First” on top of the rock, they decided to help man build a structure where they could have a last defense, if the need arose. They all spoke and laughed about it being an unnecessary precaution, but deep down knew that the jokes rang hollow.

A site was selected midway between the forests and the mountains, so no race would have to drag materials further than any others. Dwarves brought rock with great toil. Elves brought timber from the mighty forests. Men dug, bound, stacked, nailed and fastened. Each helped the other in the world’s greatest display of cooperation. When they were done, they had seven wooden buildings inside a stone wall almost six feet tall. The wall even had a gate. Two wooden towers had been built for observation and defense. The entire structure was built next to a swift river to prevent invasion from one side. They named the mightiest structure in the known universe “Midgaard,” a fortress midway between allies. Our capital was born.

Throughout the endeavor, the forces of Good had honed their muscles and weapons. Leaders continuously updated plans. Families perpetually laid in supplies. They felt they were as prepared as they could be. But all...ALL... wondered and prayed for “The First” to return.

“The First” and his small band had wandered into the desert. They strove to stay alive by shaving roots and compressing them for the moisture. They ate small sand beetles for nourishment. They covered themselves from head to foot in rags to protect themselves from the sun. Those who prayed for their return would not have recognized them as fellows if they had seen them. They went to the desert to escape the ungrantable demands of their comrades. But the life in the desert purified their bodies, and their minds. Their minds went blank of memories. They forgot friends, families, events. They were only filled with survival. The sun baked them, the lack of water dehydrated them, the lack of food starved them. All save one: “The First.”

In this state of nature, “The First” felt his power growing, rather than receeding. He grew more withdrawn from the group. They followed him, but he rarely communicated his wishes. He watched his comrades starving before his eyes, yet he grew stronger. The guilt of this situation played on him, but his group never flagged. One step in front of the other, they trudged the desert. The group grew weaker and weaker, and finally began to fall in their steps. “The First” could not bear the guilt any longer. He whirled around and threw out his arms to his friends. A soft blue light emanated from his hands, encompassing his followers. The immediate effect was that the group no longer felt hunger or thirst, they were satiated.

Once more “The First” became the object of amazement. But it was also different this time. This small group was his closest intimates and followers. They did not make demands of him, but gave respectful thanks and even more devotion. “The First” responded by declaring that he wearied of this tremendous burden, and wished to unload it. He sat in the middle of the desert and preached for twelve days and twelve nights. He spoke of the nature of magic. He spoke of the differing types of magic; healing magic, offensive magic, mental powers, and imbuing inanimate objects with it. He spoke of studying it and its different levels, and passing it along. He spoke of creating “guilds” to pass this knowledge along to those who were worthy and declared their life to its study. The followers were held in such rapture that they forgot they hadn’t eaten or drank. “The First’s” words were etched into their souls forever.

Then, “The First” changed the world forever. He spoke unto his followers and said that he was going to die. A great hue and cry arose from his followers, demanding that he use his magic to cure himself. Their love for him knew no bounds and they could not bear the loss of their friend and mentor. But “The First” only held up a hand and said the immortal words “I shall never leave your hearts. As you shall live, I will always live among you.” He then directed that upon his death, the group was to eat his body and drink his blood. Amid the gasps of astonishment and protest he explained that this would give them all the power of magic, and that they had been chosen to be the guildmasters of the various forms of magic through eternity.

The followers frantically looked at each other, pleading looks in their eyes. When they looked back to their leader, he had quietly laid down in the sand and died. The howls of sorrow from the small group filled the cosmos. Sobs wracked their weakened frames and they collapsed in grief where they sat.

Slowly, the grief was entrapped within their souls, never to leave. The group silently looked at each other and their fallen leader for a day. Not a word was spoken between them. Nature froze out of respect to their dilemma. Finally, without a word, the dearest friend of “The First” took his knife and cut a small piece of their comrade, and slowly put it in his mouth and chewed. One by one, the others followed suit. The clear, night sky split in a deafening clap of thunder, and Chaos, Structure, Doubt and Perception looked up in surprise as Melkor laughed while his temporary mortal body was eaten.

The group, now Guildmasters for all time, wearily started their journey back to their families and friends. They traversed the entire length of the journey speaking of the principles of being guildmasters. They set up criteria for learning new knowledge, and decided that all, regardless of affiliation would be taught if they met that class’s criteria.

They were amazed at the difference upon their arrival at Midgaard. A real town had evolved. It was still a clumsy attempt by today’s standards, but the denizens were all proud. Stores had been built and commerce was developing. A spirit of cooperation filled the air. Profits were made, but prices couldn’t rise beyond what people could afford. One enterprising human named Willy set up a service to auction goods. Across the road, an Elf named Silverbow put his repairing skills to good use. A wise human named Kranton would answer questions about unknown objects - for a small tip. The Market Square was the hub of activity, with actual streets branching off from it. To the north of it was a temple, and an Inn. The spirit of helping was so prevalent that a room was set aside to drop off unwanted equipment for those who needed it. A temple had sprung near the center of the town, and the walls had grown to almost seven feet tall! Residents volunteered to help guard their new town, and a system of city guards became the militia.

The new Guildmasters were greeted with enthusiasm and awe. They had almost given up hope about the lost group. They mourned the loss of “The First,” but praised his selfless nobility. The town immediately provided the Guildmasters with quarters, although a few preferred being outside the town. Almost immediately numbers of prospective students lined the streets, and lessons began. Before long, novice practitioners roamed the area showing their arts.

The atmosphere in the areas of Good had been so uplifted that they almost forgot about the threat from evil. But Evil had not forgotten about them. During this time they had been increasing their numbers as much as possible. They too had discovered armor, and smithing. Spies informed them of the wondrous new development of a city, and Evil decided that it would be better to strike sooner rather than later.

The fields blackened with the numbers of the Evil army. Crops were trampled without being eaten. This army craved meat and blood, not vegetables. The forces of Good in the outlying areas tried to hold back the horde while others ran to the town to warn them. The delaying tactics were only barely successful, as they were overrun by sheer numbers.

Panic gripped the city. Alarms were set off and families and livestock were pulled in from beneath the city walls. The cityguard and virtually every being that could hold a weapon came to the defense of the new capital, but confidence in the city’s walls diminished as the vast army came into sight over a hill. The mighty host came to a halt out of arrow shot, and examined their options. Troops nervously stood along the parapets. Insults flew back and forth.

A wicked gleam entered the eye of the Evil leader as he noticed that a lot of the defenders along the walls stood unarmed in robes. UNARMED! With a mighty roar of victory the Evil horde descended upon the waiting walls. Showers of arrows fell upon them as soon as they were in range, but the numbers hardly noticed. The invaders were so intent on breaching the walls that they barely noticed the robed figures raising their arms as they came closer. When they reached the base of the city, they looked up to their horror as fireballs descended upon them. Chains of lightning cut through the forces like a scythe. Some were caught in sticky webs, and others felt unnaturally slow. The defenders were fighting faster than any normal being could move, and what damage the Evil horde did inflict only seemed to do minor damage. But that damage was soon healed by others in robes coming to their aid.

The invaders fell back as quickly as they could. Pandemonium gripped the troops and the leaders weren’t any better. Gasps of shock and dismay traveled through the ranks. Good had harnessed magic! The Evil troops immediately fled for home, and nothing the leaders could do stopped them short of death.

The defenders of Midgaard had prevailed in their first great test. A celebration of the victory lasted twelve days and twelve nights, but there was plenty to eat and drink. The few who fell buying the town precious minutes were entombed in the temple, and regarded as heroes for all.

Evil retreated to lick their wounds and wonder what the next step was. Infighting became rampant and there were many deaths at their own hands. Those who didn’t want to face magic became pariahs and were shunned from the groups, leaving to wander on their own. The Evil forces had seen the dramatic advantages of a city, however, and some vowed to build their own. The Drows were the first, building their mighty city and its temple deep beneath the ground. Some wanted to escape to the sea, and the Deep Ones built their town along the shore and under the water.

And so it came to pass that Evil divided its paths. Some became sequestered and lived in isolation, dreaming of the day when they could defeat and devour “Good.” Others wandered the landscape, preying on isolated settlers. But Evil always dreamed of attaining magic.

One day, a family of Evil wanderers came upon the road to Midgaard. They stood for many minutes, simply looking up and down the road. They were hungry and tired, and didn’t have the heart necessary for fighting or hiding from the forces of Good. Being so close to Midgaard had not been in their plans, and they weren’t sure how they ended up there. Without a word, the leader of the family led his charges toward the city. The rest of the group was frightened, because although they were not cowards, they knew they’d be outnumbered thousands to one.

But a strange thing happened. As they approached the city, they received many curious looks from the settlers, but nothing more. They walked right into the gates of the town, and no one stopped them. Dumbfounded, they found a cleric in the temple and asked for shelter, which was readily given. The group could not understand what was happening. They finally asked the Lector of the temple, who kindly explained that the forces of Good do not kill within this town unless they were defending themselves. As long as the Evil beings remained non-aggressive, they would not be harmed.

The Evil beings could not believe their ears. They stared at each other with mouths dropped wide. A quick stroll through the streets of the town confirmed the Lector’s words, they remained molested. The opportunities filled their imaginations. After a quick conference, each of the group immediately went to a guildmaster to see if they would be accepted as students. The Guildmasters long ago had proclaimed that anyone would be taught, and they began their studies.

After the beings learned enough to be useful, they departed for their original haunts. By this time Evil settlements had taken root in many locales. Any where they stopped they were met with awe and wonder. Evil beings who knew magic! As their story filled the legends of Evil, their brethren flocked to Midgaard. As long as they never attacked anyone, they were treated fairly and with respect. This was a new experience for the Evil forces, who had always been abused by their own leaders. Only rarely did someone’s thirst for blood take them down the path of destruction. As soon as they attacked, the Midgaardians flocked to the defense of those in need.

The result was that magic was no longer the domain of Good. Evil and Neutral beings learned it as well. Magic was available to any who desired to learn it. The guild system seemed to be working, but there was a danger of overburdening the few Guildmasters. The pressures of population also lent credence to the desire of the adventurous to strike out on their own.

Soon, new towns were being established. Thalos was among the first. The disciples of the original Guildmasters went to the desert to be in the area of “The First.” They built an opulent city with gardens and pathways, with a huge domed temple in the center of town. A second tier of Guildmasters set up practice there, teaching more advanced knowledge.

For a time, Evil, Neutral, and Good intermingled without mishap. Thalos was a model of efficiency and appreciation of the arts. But old hatreds die hard. And Evil had been nursing their jealousy for many years. The sting of their defeats festered in the dark hearts of some, and they secretly vowed to have their revenge. They studied hard to be the most adept at magic in the town.

At the same time, they communicated with old allies back among the hills and caverns. They told of how soft the forces of Good had become. How they let their enemies walk among them and didn’t care. All they had to do was not attack, and they were left to their own devices. Those back in the original Evil settlements cackled with glee at this news, for they had never given up a taste for revenge either. Slowly, as per their agreement with the agents within the town, small groups of Evil travelers arrived at Thalos and took up residence. Over time, their numbers grew substantially. Evil had learned patience.

One unexpected day a horde of Evil beings attacked Thalos. As the alarms were sounding and guards were running to their posts, the Evil beings within the city attacked at the same time. The gates were kept open and warriors poured through. The magic from the Good fighters was balanced by the magic of Evil. Between the forces within and without the walls, Good was seriously outnumbered. Evil finally won a complete victory. The carnage of their victory celebration tore down walls and buildings, and the beautiful city ceased to exist as it was known. The forces of Evil left one mighty Beholder and a host of lamias to guard their new ruins. The force of occupation quickly ate the surviving settlers and let the desert reclaim its prize.

But Good remained undaunted. Midgaard was growing into the mighty city we know today, and expansion was continuing. Good held fast to its philosophy of allowing anyone who was not aggressive to have free run of its areas. But they weren’t idiots either. Guards were always on patrol now, and communication remained open between all areas for assistance if needed. To show that they wouldn’t be intimidated, but to also defuse the tense situation caused by the pillaging of Thalos, the beings of Good raised another great city, near the site of Thalos. This magnificent city rivaled even Midgaard, and was named “New Thalos” in honor of their fallen comrades.

Expansion went in all directions with Rome and the Shire to the west, and Mordilinia to the southwest. The home of many druids, Paramour, was established right outside Midgaard. Westward along the river, the Roos chose to make their homeland. An entire mighty civilization grew far away in the form of Graecia, with huge roads paved with gold. In the other direction, their rival Troy grew near Kataka, the home of mighty samurai. Some of the elves built a vast city beneath the sea, and made it their home. Castles holding Roogna and Camelot were among the outlands. Far, far away a beautiful castle made entirely of crystal sat by itself. Good also preserved animals so all could enjoy. They placed these noble beasts high above to help protect them; in the land of Narnia. These were among the holding of the followers of good.

Evil had noticed the success Good had with its expansion, and vowed not to be outdone. Evil expanded because of fear, for even though Good had sworn not to attack if not provoked, Evil couldn’t believe it. Beyond Drow and the Deep Ones, Evil strove to establish their own dominance. Many smaller Evil beings, like Orcs, Goblins, and the like kept to their original caves of Moria northeast of Midgaard. The giants almost universally hated association with littler folk, keeping mainly to caves and dark passageways. One group did build a strong fort from gigantic logs by a river, however. An entire city was built through slave labor, with guards antagonizing the miners below ground. Ogres built rudimentary shelters in far away places like swamps and forests, hoping to not be disturbed. The enfans occupied the deserted ruins of Orshingal, a city deserted for no admitted reason, but what was the reason?

Evil also tried to stay close to the settlements of Good itself, having learned a very valuable lesson in the battle for Thalos. The Quicklings volunteered to settle near Midgaard, and the Dark ewoks stayed close to their brethren. Evil beings inhabited the dungeons of Paramour and the Crystal castle. Tombs and dungeons were often occupied with Evil, from Moloch to zombies, Good had to heed where they tread.

Melkor twitched and the four universal elements balanced on his fingertip. Chaos, Perception, Structure, and Doubt stood in a daze. They had given up trying to control the multitude of beings they had loosed on the world. There was too much, too many. Sweat poured from them at the thought of their failure. Melkor laughed, as he had foreseen this end many millennia before. He explained to them that once beasts are given free will, control by beings such as themselves is futile. He further explained that now that the expansion had begun, it could never be curtailed by any less than he. With that, he held up his finger and inhaled the four universal elements. An enigmatic smile played on Melkor’s lips as he faded from existence, knowing he would check on his new toys now and then.

I, Roatka the Inquisitive, son of Felpara Hyperbole, Grand Historian of the Exalted Office of Recorder of the Tepara-yi, do hereby state upon penalty of tripled taxes, that the history set forth is accurate to the best of my meager and fallible knowledge. I beg her Royal Highness, Immanence Sakraphia XXIII, Defender of the Budget, Levier of Taxes, and Protector of the Treasury, to have mercy on my miserable life. My cup of poison stands ready.