“THUS, between the dwindling of the Light and the end of Darkness upon the world, there was an Age of Shadow. The empire of Radnurgem fell a hundred years earlier, shattering the realm into hundreds of glittering kingdoms, each one shining with fading glory beneath the tent of the uncaring constellations. In this troubled time, man warred with himself and became diminished, as savagery gnawed upon the boundaries of waning civilisation. While mythical Avellarn and Old Kharadaur ended in ruin and cataclysm, as their wizards, runepriests and sages crossed boundaries that no mortal was ever permitted to breach and awoke ancient horrors they could not contend with; and ancient Ilyss and Turandor destroyed each other in brutal warfare that left nothing unscathed; the final act in the war between Law and Chaos – the passing of Radnurgem, however was marked only by a decline into decadence and corruption.
“As kingdom after kingdom broke away from the empire, the last emperors of Radnurgem were content to dream in the great city of Bennegard, withdrawing from the affairs of the realm to luxuriate in their vast wealth and ample pleasures. And so, the end of that great epoch known to scholars as the Age of the Firstborn, came quietly, without fanfare or notice. Sadly, this was also the time of the Shadow and all were caught unaware save the vigilant and the wise. As the guardians of our world lay in a stupor or caught up in petty dreams, the Darkness descended and the world fell into Shadow.
“Orcs and Goblinoids have evermore been the slaves and soldiers of the Darkness, but this time, the Shadow had returned with greater forces from the realms of its long exile. For the first time in history, Githyanki, Thri-Kreen and other unworldly creatures trod upon the lands of Deryn. Other more subtle forces came into play as well as the hearts of the free were darkened and many gave in to the shadows lurking in all mortal souls. Whether by fire and steel or by silk and subtlety, the Darkness had learned its lessons from its defeat during the Shining Age and now had all the weapons it needed to succeed. What we know now is that the Shadow had destroyed the rest of Creation, emptying out the Grey Void and had brought the beings from dozens of worlds to Deryn’s doorstep, promising them a new home. As foretold, all Creation became One in Deryn, home of the Firstborn and throne of the Light.
“But this too was the age of the adventurer. As ancient kingdoms lay forgotten and fallen lands became overrun by creatures of horror, the sword of the warrior and the arcane arts of the wise brought light into the darkest reaches of the world. Countless expeditions were mounted to wrest knowledge, wealth and glory from hidden vaults and forbidden crypts; dominions were established and overthrown just as quickly; heroes and villains alike made names for themselves, daring history to decide the extent of their legacy: libraries now groan with the weight of journals and tomes written about their exploits during this time of opportunity.
“In this dark epoch, the flickering flame of the Light burned its brightest. Every act of courage and nobility, justice and benevolence, was a rebellion against the darkness that clouded the hearts and minds of people. Whether they knew it or not at the time, these heroes were in their own way sowing the seeds for the last battle of Light and Darkness during the Shadow War.
“Know this: to have lived in the Age of Shadow was to have both struggled against the greatest threat to existence ever known but to also have truly walked among legends and have had the chance to carve one’s name into the annals of history.”
- from the Chronicles of an Age of Shadow by Eldren the Young, Sage of Phylaren