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History of the North

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The First Flowering

For millennia, gold elves dwelt in Illefarn (where Waterdeep now stands) and Eaerlann (along the River Shining). From their ornate forest cities they traded with emerging human nations like Netheril and Illusk and repulsed the attacks of the goblin races. Meanwhile, dwarven clans united as the nation of Delzoun, named for the dwarf who forged the union. The nation, existing primarily underground, extended from the Ice Mountains to the Nether Mountains. Silver Moon Pass was its western border and the Narrow Sea its eastern shore.

Orcs came from north of the Spine of the World but were turned back in great slaughter by the elves. To this day, this is the homeland and stronghold for orcs and similar races.


The Crown Wars

Humans immigrated in bands from the Shining Sea and up to the Sword Coast. They became seafarers, striking out across the waves to the Moonshaes, Mintarn, Ruathym, and the northern islands. Elves engaged in an unceasing war against each other with the humans and orcs taking over the resulting ruins. Perhaps the greatest calamity to befall the Fair Folk was the Dark Disaster, a killing magic that took the form of a dark, burning cloud. It enshrouded the kingdom of Mieyritar, and when it faded away some months later, not an elf lived – nor were trees left, only an open, blasted moor: the High Moor.

All was not dark for the elves. Although in retreat, as barbarian humans and orc hordes grew in strength, their power rose in the Elven Court and Evereska (remaining a stronghold to this day). They conceived of cooperation between dwarves, kindly humans, and other elves for mutual survival against orcs, marauding humans, and the tide of beasts (ogres, bugbears, trolls, goblins, gnolls, and other nonhuman creatures) led by the rising power of giants. Astonishingly, in at least three places – the Fallen Kingdoms and the cities of Silverymoon and Myth Drannor – they succeeded with shining grace.

To the east, on the sandy shores of the calm and shining Narrow Sea, human fishing villages grew into small towns and then joined together as the nation of Netheril. Sages believe the fishing towns were unified by a powerful human wizard who had discovered a book of great magic power that had survived from the Days of Thunder – a book that legend calls the Nether Scrolls. Under this nameless wizard and those who followed, Netheril rose in power and glory, becoming both the first human land in the North and the most powerful.

Some say this discovery marked the birth of human wizardry, since before then, mankind had only shamans and witch doctors. For over 3,000 years Netheril dominated the North, but even its legendary wizards were unable to stop their final doom.


The Elven Exodus

This era left behind elven strongholds ripe for pillaging by humans and orcs. When elves chose to leave the North and travel to Evermeet, their works quickly disappeared, leaving only places like the Old Road and a ruined port in the High Forest to mark Eaerlann’s passing. And yet it was not only the elves who would disappear from their long-held homes, The human nation of Netheril also stood on the brink of history. Doom for Netheril came in the form of a desert, devouring the Narrow Sea and spreading to fill its banks with dry dust and blowing sand.

Legend states when the great wizards of Netheril realized their land was lost, they abandoned it and their countrymen, fleeing to all corners of the world and taking the secrets of wizardry with them. More likely, this was a slow migration that began 3,000 years ago and reached its conclusion 1,500 years later. Whatever the truth, wizards no longer dwelled in Netheril. To the north, the once-majestic dwarven stronghold of Delzoun fell upon hard days.

Then the orcs struck. Orcs have always been foes in the North, surging out of their holes every few tens of generations when their normal haunts can no longer support their burgeoning numbers. This time they charged out of their caverns in the Spine of the World, poured out of abandoned mines in the Graypeaks, screamed out of lost dwarf holds in the Ice Mountains, raged forth from crypt complexes in the Nether Mountains, and stormed upward from the bowels of the High Moon Mountains.

Never before or since has there been such an outpouring of orcs. Delzoun crumbled before this onslaught and was driven in on itself. Netheril, without its wizards, was wiped from the face of history. The Eaerlann elves alone withstood the onslaught, and with the aid of the treants of Turlang and other unnamed allies, were able to stave off the final days of their land for yet a few centuries more.

In the east, Eaerlann built the fortress of Ascalhorn and turned it over to refugees from Netheril as Netherese followers built the town of Karse in the High Forest. The fleeing Netherese founded Llorkh and Loudwater. Others wandered the mountains, hills, and moors north and west of the High Forest, becoming ancestors of the Urthgardt and founders of Silverymoon, Everlund, and Sundabar.


The Spread of Humankind

The adaptable humans made use of magic they could seize or learn from the Proud Peoples to defeat all enemies, breaking (for a time) the power of giants and orcs. Waterdeep was founded. The last of the pure blood elves died out, a result of continued marriages with humans. In the far west, men also dwelled – wise, clever primitives called the Ice Hunters. They lived simple lives on the coast since time beyond reckoning, countless generations before Netheril’s first founders set foot on the Narrow Sea’s western shore.

Yet this peaceful folk fell prey to another invasion from the south: crude longships that carried a tall, fair-haired, warlike race who displaced the Ice Hunters from their ancestral lands. This race, known as the Northmen, spread farms and villages along the coast from the banks of the Winding Water to the gorges of the Mirar. Northmen warriors drove the simple Ice Hunters farther and farther north, forced the goblinkin back into their mountain haunts, and instigated the last Council of Illefarn.

Within 500 years of the Northmen’s arrival, Illefarn was no more – its residents had migrated to Evermeet. From the Coast, Northmen sailed westward, claiming and establishing colonies on the major western islands of Ruathym and Gundarlun, eventually spreading to all the islands in the northern sea. Others migrated northward, past the Spine of the World, and became the truly savage barbarians of Icewind Dale.

In the centuries that followed, Ascalhorn became Hellgate Keep when it fell into the hands of fiends, and Eaerlann collapsed under the attack of a new orc horde. The elves fled southeast, joining with Northmen, Netherese descendants, and dwarves to form what would later be known as the Fallen Kingdom. This realm was short-lived and collapsed under the next orcish invasion – though in dying, it dealt the goblin races a blow from which they have yet to recover.


The Might of Men

Along the coast, in what was once the elven community of Illefarn, humanity was once again rising in power. Merchants from the south, tribesmen from the North, and seafarers from western islands had created a village around a trading post on a deep-water harbor, first known as Nimoar’s Hold after the Urthgardt chieftain whose tribe seized and fortified the ramshackle village. Nimoar and his successors, known as War Lords, led the men of Waterdeep (as it had become known to ship captains) in a slowly losing battle against the trolls.

In a final, climactic battle, the trolls breached the aging palisade and all seemed lost – until the magic of Ahghairon of Silverymoon turned luck against the trolls, destroying and scattering them. Ahghairon, heir to the heritage and learning of Netheril, stayed in Waterdeep, and in his 112th year he again saved the city – this time from itself. In so doing, he created the Lords of Waterdeep. The city grew into the greatest in the North, possibly in all Faerun, With Waterdeep as a firm anchor, civilization forged cautiously into the wilderness.

Illuskan (now Luskan) was taken from the orcs. Loudwater, Llorkh, Triboar, Longsaddle, Secomber, and other towns were settled by pioneers from Waterdeep, sponsored by Waterdhavian merchant families. Though it’s been centuries since the last orc invasion, there’s still constant strife. Barbarians harass merchants, travelers, and towns; the seas swim with Northmen pirates; and wars have marred the land in recent years. Luskan, now a fierce merchant city known to harbor – and support – pirates, waged a war with the island realm of Ruathym over an act of piracy against one of the few legitimate Luskan merchant ships.

The war raged for nearly a year, with Ruathym slowly losing ground. When it appeared Luskan would finally win the naval war and land on the island itself, the Lords’ Alliance entered the fray. They threatened war against Luskan if the skirmishes didn’t stop immediately. Unable to fight a two-front war efficiently, Luskan canceled its invasion plans. Tensions between Luskan and Ruathym are still high, and their ships are often seen taking potshots at each other as they pass, often just a wave or two away from each other.

The government of Ruathym has recently been sending adventurers into the hills of its island realm, looking for mercenaries who are killing merchants, farmers, and woodsmen. Ruathym believes Luskan still has a presence on the island, trying to win through subversion and terrorism what it could not accomplish through war. To the far north, the Ten Towns have finished rebuilding after being nearly destroyed by the monstrous forces of Akar Kessel.

With help from the tundra barbarians living nearby, they’ve built and repaired their cities, replanted the sparse foliage, and – most importantly – replenished the morale of their citizens.

A recent trader who passed through the area carrying 17 wagons of rare oak lumber said that it was nearly impossible to determine who’s a barbarian and who isn’t. “They’re living together!” he reported in amazement.


Of Orcs and Dwarves

In the waning summer months of 1367, an immense orc horde descended from the Spine of the World, intent on winding its way south into the trade lands of the North. This force of orcs, led by King Greneire, surged its way south between the Moonwood and the Cold Wood, stopping just outside the Citadel of Many Arrows. King Obould, orc ruler of the Citadel of Many Arrows, was terrified at the prospect of another orc horde, despite the fact that he knew they should be working together against the humans of the North and the spawn of Hellgate Keep.

His tribal shamans, however, had been predicting a treacherous fall of the citadel – and they’d told the king that he’d be disposed by other orcs. Thus, it was a dark day when King Greneire and his horde of 150,000 orcs appeared on the plains outside the Citadel of Many Arrows. King Obould announced to his followers that this horde had been sent to dislodge them from their home and send them out to be scavengers among the plains. He vowed that, as Gruumsh as his witness, the Citadel of Many Arrows would slaughter these treacherous orcs “like elves during a festival.”

For four months, the 40,000 orcs within the citadel held their ground. Assault after assault was mounted against the high walls of the garrison, but the attacking orcs were losing far more than the defenders. Still, the living conditions within the walls – never too good to begin with – created losses of their own. The battle for the Citadel of Many Arrows culminated during the first week of Uktar. As another light blanket of snow sought to bury the gathered orcs, King Greneire threw his entire remaining army at the citadel, bursting its gates and pitting orc against orc in a flurry of swords.

As the two orc kings sought one another out along the ramparts, the citadel began to burn. The orcs that survived the battle still speak of the superhuman prowess of the two kings as they battled one another before their troops. Finally, however, King Obould ran Greneire through with his long sword, but Obould was severely wounded by the time Greneire had breathed his last breath.

The orcs erupted into battle once again, and no one is quite certain what became of King Obould. It was through the smoke and snow that the victors of the conflict emerged: the dwarves of Clan Warcrown along with a contingent of troops from Silverymoon. Charging in through the shattered gates, these new attackers quickly routed the exhausted orcs of the citadel, sending them scurrying off into the wilderness. King Emerus Warcrown now rules the Citadel of Many Arrows, though the dwarves now call the city by its old name of Felbarr.

Most in the North still tend to refer to the city as the Citadel, however, waiting to see if it can withstand the next orc horde. King Warcrown has put out a call for all dwarves to help defend the citadel, and news of a new vein of gold and silver is spreading rapidly through dwarven communities.