Lore of DAoC: Catacombs General

   The Gnolls of Catacombs

   The Half-Orcs of Catacombs

   The Glashtin Forges

   The Discovery of the Dark Spire

The Gnolls of Catacombs

      The origins of the recently discovered Gnolls remain shrouded in mystery and hearsay. Of all the realms, only Midgard is remotely close to knowing the true nature of the Gnolls and from whence they came.

      Many generations ago in the land that is now known as Aegir, the Morvalt laid claim to Trollheim, the ancestral home of the Troll Fathers. The Morvalt were a bestial race that worshipped an ancient nature goddess that they simply called the Mother. They owed their powers to her, and they worshipped her, as did all the earth and the wild beasts that fell under her domain.

      When the Morvalt drove out the troll and kobold inhabitants of Trollheim and the surrounding countryside, they found a network of tunnels and caverns that ran deep below the underground fortress. Viewing such a discovery as a reward from the Mother, a powerful Morvalt warrior called Blackmane eagerly led many of his kind into the dark depths below Trollheim to explore and conquer all that they may find, as it was their right to do so as decreed by their goddess.

      The vast, winding webs of tunnels took many years for the Morvalt to transverse. The Morvalt eventually came to the large caverns that would in future years be known as Nyttheim and the Frontlines. For many generations they existed in a nomadic fashion, pulling up their camps and roaming around the vast cavern system. Over time the Morvalt took on a more bestial appearance that reflected their degenerative inner nature and became what are now known as Gnolls.

      Despite their primitive outlook, the Gnolls continued a Morvalt tradition of existing in a single tribal society. The first of these tribes called itself the Blackmanes due to the strong bloodline of their first leader, who long ago led his people deep into the earth.  The eldest male child became known as Blackmane when he was strong enough to take the alpha male position from his father. And thus the society grew and evolved, and many generations passed.

      Years later, the Gnolls encountered the first strangers they had seen in a very long time. They had long forgotten what the Kobolds were, having no memory of them from their ancestral home in Aegir due to being so isolated from their former kin and history. As such, they initially feared the presence of the kobolds, much akin to how wild animals would act when encountered in nature. When Astrior brought her Kobolds from the Undercity and began scouting an area for the construction of Nyttheim, the Gnolls abandoned that section of the caverns that they had often traveled to and lived in.

      Frightened yet angered, the Gnolls spread out further through the labyrinthine system of caverns, looking for a new lair to continue their way of life. They finally came across a honeycombed area of caves and tunnels that looked too promising to pass up.

      At once they begun to explore the new territory, seeking to claim it and make it a permanent home so that they would never again be caught off guard and feel the need to flee. What they found however angered them even further. The Kobolds that Hallvaror had sent to gather resources for the Undercity were still working in the plentiful mines that they, the Kobolds, had discovered and constructed.

      Both races were shocked to encounter one another. The Gnolls were enraged that the little strangers had taken yet another piece of land that the Gnolls had sought, and the Kobolds were struck with horror and a growing rage at the race that reminded them so strongly of the Morvalt, those conquerors that the kobold people had feared and hated so long ago.

      The current Blackmane at once barked orders to destroy the strangers, for he knew that his position as a leader of his tribe was already in jeopardy for ordering the evacuation of their other lairs. The ensuing war was fierce yet short; the Gnolls were extremely strong and savage, but lacked the intelligence and mastery of arcane abilities that the Kobolds possessed. Their warriors and shamans could not stand against the larger number of Kobold shadowblades, runemasters, spiritmasters and skalds who fought with a vengeance, striking out at those who so resembled the ancient enemies who made them flee their ancestral homelands. The Blackmane himself died during the war, and the spirit of the Gnolls was crushed, the fight taken out of them as confusion and fear set in without their tribal leader.

      It was only due to the Kobold mystic, Nethral, that the Gnolls were not wiped out entirely as a race. Nethral convinced Hallvaror that the Gnolls were nothing but savages, and although they surely deserved death, they could pay their blood debts to the Kobolds by being put to use in the mines. He pointed out that their great strength would prove invaluable to the Kobolds if properly controlled and directed to conduct physical labor for the smaller and weaker Kobolds. In truth, Nethral saw another potential in the Gnolls, and advanced the logic of them being more valuable alive and put to work than dead in order to keep the beasts for his own personal, secret reasons. Hallvaror reluctantly agreed to the enslavement of the Gnolls, in part because of his disgust and hatred of them, and in part due to the fact some of his people had been lost in mining accidents and cave ins. Hallvaror saw the logic in putting the brutes to work in the mines to help spare his own kind and to continue extracting the valuable resources that would help insure the prosperity of the Undercity.

      Nethral worked with other mystics to weave spells that ensnared the primitive minds of the Gnolls. Though strong in body, they were weak in mind and spirit now that their leader, Blackmane, was gone. They could not withstand the incantations placed upon them, and succumbed to slavery.

      The Gnolls were shackled both physically and mentally by chains of iron and of magic, and performed manual labor for the Kobolds. They dug up precious ores and gems for their masters, and lived in misery and fear for many years. The only thing that kept their spirit from being completely broken as a race was their faith in the Mother and their belief that one day she would deliver them from the hands of their evil captors. When not under the cold gaze of the Kobold taskmasters, the Gnolls would pray fervently to their goddess, requesting aid and strength to slay their enemies.

      Many Kobolds took pity on the bestial slaves, but Nethral and others quickly reminded them of the past crimes committed against their people by the Morvalt monsters, and claimed that the Gnolls were treated much more humanely than the treatment the Kobolds had received in Aegir.

      Although it was Nethral who had spared the Gnolls from extinction originally, it was not out of kindness. He wished to not only preserve the Gnolls for slave labor, but to also mold them into a suitable weapon to unleash upon any future enemies that the Kobolds might encounter. This weapon building plan was not only intended to protect his people – it was also meant to aid in furthering his own aspirations. With the new weapon he would create, he hoped to become the next leader of the Undercity by usurping Hallvaror's throne. Perhaps, he though, he could even see to the killing Hallvaror in a "slave uprising"? Over time his disregard for life grew along with his sense of empowerment over the enslaved Gnolls. In secret, he and his trusted assistants would conduct magical experiments upon the Gnolls, ultimately killing many of them that could not survive his mad schemes.

      Finally, he mastered a method of making a handful of Gnolls who had poisonous blood that flowed through their veins. He planned to make them his own personal guards that, when cut, would bleed upon their enemies and slay them. His insane goal was to make them loyal assassins and warriors that could coat their weapons in a film of their own blood and strike down his opponents on the battlefield with treacherous ease.

      Perhaps fortunately for Hallvaror, the Undercity and the Gnolls alike suffered through a great earthquake that shook the mines and made one of the main tunnels collapse. Nethral and many other Kobolds and Gnolls died during the disaster, and Hallvaror ordered the mines closed. Although Hallvaror could not bring himself to kill off the Gnolls now that their use had come to an end, he also could not bear to bring them to the Undercity. Deciding it best and just to leave them to their own means, Hallvaror commanded the Gnolls to remain in the mines while his people boarded up all of the entrances.

      What they left behind was a battered and diminished race. The Gnolls who had been subjugated for so long by the taskmasters and spells of the Kobolds now had no direction, and feared the return of their keepers. They found themselves practically entombed within the mines.

      Anarchy immediately followed and lasted for several weeks as the Gnolls turned on each other in fear and self loathing. Out of the madness a powerful male came forward and called himself Blackmane, claiming to be the next oldest male in the bloodline. Such claims met with only a small amount of support, for others stepped up and challenged the self proclaimed Blackmane, calling the bloodline weak and tainted due to the failures of the previous Blackmane. 

      A powerful warrior named Scratchclaw who had been extremely fierce (if not completely successful) on the field of battle with the Kobolds called out that he would be the most fit to rule, and that only through war and strength of arms could the Gnolls survive.

      A wizened and much respected shaman named Bloodmoon also came forward, claiming that the Mother had freed them from the Kobolds by causing the earthquake and that he, Bloodmoon, was her chosen. He, who had been instrumental in continuing the secretive worship of the Mother amongst the Gnolls during their enslavement. Due to his efforts in keeping a spark of hope alive amongst his people during their enslavement, many Gnolls flocked to his side.

      An almost sickly looking Gnoll stepped forward too. This Gnoll called himself Green Blud, and he snarled at the others as he claimed that he and handfuls of his people had undergone unholy torture and were dealt the most harm by the cursed Kobolds. As such he was fit to rule as his strength of will and body carried him through such trials.

      The vast majority of the Gnolls chose amongst Blackmane, Scratchclaw, and Bloodmoon in nearly equal numbers, with the rest (mainly the Gnolls who had undergone the vile experiments of Nethral) choosing to follow Green Blud. The already shattered culture began fracturing even further as open war was unleashed between the four factions.

      For months war raged between the Gnolls, all of whom felt that their chosen leader was the best to lead the entire tribe as a whole. The camps were divided between those that believed Blackmane and the original leading blood line was the right choice to follow and that the peace that the Gnolls experienced in the past could be found again with a Blackmane leading, those that thought Scratchclaw and his bravery and fierceness were what it would take to bring the Gnolls back to their former glory and take revenge upon their Kobold captors, those who thought their faith in the Mother and the old ways were best represented in Bloodmoon and his tenets, and finally the very small faction that no other side could wipe out due to their seemingly unholy ability to survive all that would fight them.

      When it became apparent that no side could fully defeat the others, each alpha male took up the old tradition and named those that followed them after themselves, forming four new tribes; the Blackmanes, the Scratchclaws, the Bloodmoons and the Green Bluds.

      Bloodmoon himself finally brought an uneasy peace between the divided tribes and called a meeting between all four tribe chieftains.  At this long, tense meeting, the four eventually agreed that the only way the Gnolls would survive as a people would be for them to allow separation between the tribes so that they all could co-exist within the mines.

      This state of affairs lasted for a time, and the four tribes began to flourish - until the arrival of a new enemy into their homes. Odagi, the Kobold leader who succeeded Hallvaror, sent the Half-orc Oswalt and his Bloody Axe mercenaries into the mines to claim them again from the Gnolls in the name of the Undercity.

      Yet more war racked the Gnolls as they fiercely fought this new menace.  Many casualties piled up for both sides as the Kobolds remained in relative safety in the Undercity. The Half-orcs pushed back the Gnolls until the mines were split between the two opposing forces. When the Half-orcs had pushed back the Gnolls sufficiently, the Kobolds entered the mines once more to bring back the much needed resources for the wall in the Frontlines.

      Currently, the four tribes have banded together as much as possible while trying to keep their lairs secure from the Half-orcs tribes and the Kobolds within the mines. Many Gnolls, however, have begun to fear their fate if they were to remain in such a war torn land and have decided to continue their nomadic ways. Although most remained to fight their hated enemies, others have used the intertwining catacombs to travel to other realms, settle new homes and form new tribes in hopes that their exodus will ensure that their people will survive.




The Half-Orcs of Catacombs

      Many areas of the Catacombs are populated by half-orcs.  These creatures came to the lands of Midgard, Albion, and Hibernia through the underground network of caverns that connects the caves beneath those realms to the ones beneath the territory where the half-orc civilization once thrived. That civilization was destroyed centuries ago, and the few half-orcs that managed to escape the catastrophe fled deep into the Earth and eventually made their way to the areas beneath the three realms.

      Four hundred years ago, the people that would eventually become the half-orcs were in fact completely human. Their great nation spanned a continent of lush jungles and grassy savannahs far to the south of Albion, Midgard and Hibernia. This southern race of man was adept with magic, and highly mystical in nature.  Organized into tribes, they were ruled by Elder Shamans who could commune with the spirits of nature, and seek guidance and wisdom from the ghosts of ancestors long dead.  An honorable people who revered the land and the flora and fauna dwelling upon it, they were also brave and skillful warriors.

      The greatest Shaman in all the tribes was a young man named Haakon. Ever curious and eager to understand the world around him, Haakon was perhaps the first among his people to take an interest in science. This was greatly frowned upon, for the Elder Shamans believed that all things in the world were created and guided by the hands of the ancestor spirits.  Haakon's theories about the natural world were based on the supposition that things happened, not because of any divine influence, but because there were laws at work in the natural world which dictated that they should be so. When a child was born, he argued, it was not an Ancestor spirit returning to the Earth, but simply a biological function that occurred as with any other animal. Magic, he explained, was not a blessing from higher beings, but simply the exertion of a powerful mind upon its environment.

As time passed, Haakon began to convert others to his beliefs.  His youth and natural charisma, coupled with his natural skill with magic, made him popular with the younger generation of his people. At one point, the Elder Council, the ruling body of the tribes, tried to expel him. However, his devotees, now numbering in the thousands, swore to go with him. Knowing that they could not afford to lose so many of their children and hope to sustain their civilization, the Council was forced to retract its demand and apologize.

      As time passed, Haakon's celebrity began to go to his head. He became increasingly obsessed with his studies of science and alchemy, and began to conduct strange experiments on animals, and eventually, willing volunteers from his own cult. In truth, Haakon's constant use of magic and rather brilliant mind were slowly driving him to madness. However, he was able to conceal this by isolating himself from most of his people, and conducting his affairs through his most trusted friends and counselors.

      It was in Haakon's twenty-fourth year that the Orc hordes appeared, marching from out of the West to make war upon his people. The fierce, brutish Orcs were merciless and savage, and it seemed that nothing could stop them. Tribe after tribe was decimated by the Orc onslaught, and finally, the Elder Council, left with no other choice, turned to Haakon for aid. The reclusive Shaman promised to save his people, provided they would do exactly as he instructed. The Council promised that it would be so, and Haakon retreated into his cave to begin work on his plan.

      Many a night, the people of the tribes would hear mad, diabolical laughter from the depths of Haakon's cave. From time to time, strange parti-colored vapors would drift out from the cave's mouth. Haakon has asked that ten orc prisoners be delivered to his cave for study. The very night that they were brought to him, their tortured squeals and screams could be heard from miles away. None dared disturb Haakon, and when he finally emerged, the orc horde was only two days march from the Elder Council's great lodge. With him he brought several barrels of a foul gray liquid. Bringing this to the Elder Council, he promised that those who drank the liquid would be granted the strength to crush the mighty Orc invaders. Knowing that they could not resist the horde otherwise, the Council ordered everyone to drink the concoction. Some feared Haakon, and only pretended to drink the potion, but most feared the Orc horde more, as well as the loss of their homes, their families, and their civilization.

      Within hours, the people began to change, and the terrible irony of Haakon's plan was revealed. He would give them the strength to fight the orcs, as promised. Indeed, the potion began to transform the people into orcs themselves, but Haakon's twisted mind had not completed the formula correctly, and the transformation stopped when it was halfway complete.

      Chaos and anarchy ensued. The transformation process altered the minds of the people, and they became violent and aggressive. These feelings were fueled by the betrayal, fear, and anger they felt, for none had been warned that this would happen. The newly-made half-orcs destroyed their own homes, and slew those who were still human out of envy and rage. When the orc horde arrived, they found a burning wasteland, and easily slew those few half-orcs that remained. The last remnants of the great southern nation of men were swept away in one tragic night.

      Haakon, who had been laughing gleefully at his great joke, suddenly began to fear for his life. He retreated to his cave, but was pursued by the half-orcs he had created.  Though violent, his people retained most of their intelligence, and knew they had been betrayed by the mad Shaman.  They followed him into his cave, and he fled ever deeper, having mapped out many of the caverns for himself during his seclusion.  Finally, the angry mob caught up with him and exacted a bloody revenge.

      Once this was done, it quickly became clear to the half-orcs that they were utterly lost.  One among them, Nemah, quickly took charge.  A member of the Elder Council, her mind was not as badly affected by the potion, and thus she was able to master her aggression and remain calm.  She led the half-orcs deep into the earth, and made sure that they were fed by whatever means they could find.  Ever onward they marched, for days, then months.  Eventually, thoughts of finding the surface again became a lesser priority than the need to settle and make a home.  The half-orcs had grown weary from their exodus, and the oldest among them could barely travel any longer. 

      Fortune smiled on the half-orcs when they discovered a great underground forest of mushroom-like plants.  This place was replete with animal life and fresh water, and it seemed salvation was finally at hand.  For a time, the half-orcs were able to live peacefully in this place, but sadly, it was not meant to last.  Half-orc scouting parties soon crossed paths with the Terracites, an intelligent race of beings native to the forest who did not like to be disturbed.  Though now much stronger than they had been before, the half-orcs were dramatically outnumbered, and the Terracites ordered them to leave and never return.  They indicated a passage leading upwards, and Nemah took it gratefully.

      The half-orc nomads found another great cavern above the forest, and continued exploring.  This led to another cavern above that, and the first hint of fresh air.  The half-orcs eagerly continued to explore, and finally reached the surface, but this was like no place they had seen before.  Here it was bitterly cold.  The land was hard and rocky, and strange, tall trees grew everything.  Deadly creatures stalked this hostile landscape, and Nemah knew that if the creatures did not destroy the fragile band of survivors, the climate very well might.  She decided that it was better that they settle underground for protection, and return to the surface only to hunt and gather.

      This plan proved to be successful, and three full generations of half-orcs survived under the land that would come be known as Midgard.  Eventually, the half-orcs began to explore their new home in greater detail.  Many scouting parties ventured into the darkness of the caverns.  Some of these found their way into the caves running beneath Hibernia and Albion, and elected to make their homes there.

      After three centuries, the half-orcs have thrived.  Many children have been born (sadly, the transmutation ran true, and the newborns were also half-orcs), and where once there had been a small, ragtag band of exiles, there is now a society taking hold.  With no creatures to challenge them in their underworld domain, the half-ors have grown rapidly, even returning to the Underground Forest to challenge the Terracites for dominion there.


The Arrival of the Kobolds, and Their Clash With the Half Orcs

      When the Kobolds, recently arrived to Midgard's shores, began to find their way into the caves, the half-orcs retreated and watched.  Though they now numbered in the thousands, they did not know the strength or numbers of this new adversary.  The enterprising Kobolds quickly took hold in the caves, building a city and fortifying their position.  All that the half-orcs could do was hide and scrounge for what food they could.  The farther in the Kobolds explored, the more the half-orcs had to conceal themselves and retreat.  It was this fact that probably saved them when Gullveig was awakened by Kolfinna, and began to work her evil power on the Kobolds dwelling in Nyttheim.  The half-orcs watched from the shadows as Gullveig built her army and sent it against the Undercity.  As they watched, the half-orcs could see that things were beginning to go badly for the Kobolds, and that their city would soon fall.  A cunning and skilled half-orc warrior named Oswalt saw in this a great opportunity, and an idea quickly formed in his mind.  He presented his plan to the current matriarch, Olrinna, a descendant of Nemah.

      The plan was approved and set in motion.  Oswalt gathered a hundred of his best warriors and mages and traveled to the Kobold Undercity.  Once there, he demanded a meeting with the leader of the now-populous Kobolds. It was Odagi, leader of the Kobolds, who met with Oswalt and heard his proposal. Oswalt offered the services of his band as a mercenary army going by the name "The Bloody Axe mercenaries"?. In exchange for aiding him with the defense of his territory, the Kobolds would allow the half-orcs access to their food stocks, pay them in gold, and finally, agree to divide up his territory, giving a substantial piece of it to the half-orcs so that they might live in peace.

      Odagi had no intention of honoring this one-sided offer, but he needed the aid of the half-orcs.  He agreed to the offer with no intention of ever honoring it, and sent the mercenary half-orcs into the Abandoned Mines.  The Kobolds were desperately in need of stone for the wall they were constructing, and the mines were filled with deadly creatures.  Odagi hoped that the half-orcs, whom he considered both foul and stupid, would clear out most of the dangers in the mine, and eventually be wiped out themselves so that he would not have to give them anything.  Meanwhile, since they had now revealed themselves, the half-orcs dwelling throughout the other areas of the caverns emerged and made their presence known.

      Things went badly for Oswalt and his Bloody Axe warriors, but his sense of honor and duty drove him onward.  He lost many men in the battle to retake the Abandoned Mines, but his company was eventually successful in clearing and maintaining a safe pathway by which stone could successfully be transported to the Undercity.  However, as half-orc after half-orc fell, tension within the band grew.  The story or Haakon and his betrayal had been passed down through the generations, and those half-orcs who still pursued magic and mysticism were feared and mistrusted.  Time and again, the magic-wielders Oswalt had brought along were treated badly, frowned upon, and left out of important decisions.

      Grishak, the eldest of the mages, gathered the others of his kind and confronted Oswalt.  Tired of the abuse they had been receiving, Grishak was going to form a new band of mercenaries who would go by the name Broken Tusk mercenaries a deliberate jab at Oswalt, of whom it was said “had bitten off more than he could chew, and broken a tusk on it. So it was that the two factions of half-orcs dwelling in the Abandoned Mines came to be. 

      When Oswalt returned to Odagi to collect payment, Odagi refused.  The costs of the building of the wall had depleted his coffers, and his men needed what few rations the Kobolds had managed to stockpile.  Oswalt was outraged, and swore that from that day onward, all half-orcs would consider the Kobolds to be mortal enemies, and kill them on sight.  Odagi called for his guards, but Oswalt fled back to his men in the mines.  When word reached Grishak, he ridiculed Oswalt for his stupidity.  Insults flew, and the hostility spread between the Bloody Axe fighters and the Broken Tusk mystics.  A fight soon broke out, and several half-orcs were killed before both sides retreated.  As they parted ways, Grishak and Oswalt swore not to rest until the other's clan was dead.  The two groups have been fighting with one another ever since.

      Word did indeed reach the rest of the half-orcs, and they now despise the Kobolds, and will attack them without hesitation.  Meanwhile, in the Abandoned Mines, the blood-feud between the Bloody Axe and Broken Tusk factions goes on, and does not seem likely to end until one or both are destroyed.




The Glashtin Forges

      With the influence of the Morrighan's power, more and more evil creatures have been drawn to Hibernia. Many have been drawn solely by the evil, but others have been summoned by the Morrighan for specific purposes. Some have been called to provide food for the Morrighan's army, while others have been called to provide armor and weapons. The need to outfit her army for battle led the Morrighan to summon a strange group of creatures called the glashtin to her.

      The glashtin are small, subterranean creatures with hunched backs and long, skinny fingers. They have long, skinny arms and legs and walk with a shuffling, crouched motion. While they look quite weak, they are very strong, and with their nimble fingers they have become quite skilled at making armor and weapons. The glashtin charge a high price for their work, but the Morrighan is not worried. It is the people and land of Hibernia that will pay the price for the glashtin' work.

      The glashtin are the antithesis of Hibernia. Where Hibernia is green, lush, and natural, the glashtin are dark, barren and industrial. In the depths of the earth, the Morrighan has granted the glashtin a series of winding tunnels and massive rooms in which to forge the armor and weapons the Morrighan needs for her army. But large rooms are not the only things the glashtin need for forging armor and weapons. Fire is needed to forge things for the Morrighan.

      To feed their forges the glashtin have begun to cut down the trees throughout Hibernia, starting with the trees that surround the entrance to their cave. They range far and wide seeking the biggest trees and then drag them back to their forges through tunnels they have dug under Hibernia. They also cut any tree roots they encounter in their tunnels and burn them in the forges. In the forges, the glashtin smelt the ore they have dug out of the ground as they dig their tunnels beneath Hibernia.

      The smoke from the burning trees, the tunnels that burrow through the very ground, and the poisonous fumes exuded by the smelting of the ore have all begun to poison Hibernia. Slowly the land is dying from the toxins being released into it. Until the Morrighan is defeated, the glashtin, led by their commander Ard-hairn Kator (overlord Kator) will continue to run their forges to make weapons and armor for her.




The Discovery of the Dark Spire

      Morgana was once the respected and honored apprentice of Merlin. As a daughter of Avalon, she commanded great power and respect among the women with whom she studied. But as Merlin warned, the temptation of such enormous power became too great for her to resist. Her heart grew dark and corrupted, and secretly she began to delve into the dark forces even as she continued to study and learn from Merlin. From time to time, she would ask him to teach her more about the dark arts, but Merlin always refused, knowing how dangerous those powers could be. Angered by his constant refusal, Morgana began plotting a way to capture him and steal his power.

      During her training, Morgana would often accompany Merlin to a secret cave deep within the earth. Merlin had explained to Morgana on more than one occasion that this cave was the intersection of many ley lines, not just from Albion, but also from the realms of Hibernia and Midgard. He told her that he had followed the Albion ley lines to the cave and found tunnels leading from it up to the realms of Hibernia and Midgard. He knew that he was not the first to find the cave, although there wasn't evidence of anyone having been there for a long time.

      When Merlin needed to cast a great spell, or divine the future, he and Morgana would travel to the cave, where he would place a small crystal at the intersection of the ley lines. He would then channel great power through this crystal, even as he warned Morgana of the dangers of doing such a thing. Morgana begged Merlin to let her try out the power of the ley lines, and reluctantly Merlin agreed, giving Morgana her own focus crystal. Once Morgana had mastered channeling the power, she would sneak away to the cave while Merlin was busy elsewhere, and use the power of the ley lines to increase her skill in the dark arts. She was delighted to learn later on that because of her dark use of the ley lines, chaos and turmoil was being spread throughout the land.  Merlin never suspected her of being the source of it.

      As Morgana's skills in Merlin's magic grew, so did her skills in the dark arts. Finally, the day came when she realized she was more powerful than Merlin, and she knew it was time to put her plan into action. She snuck away to the cave, where she laid out a web of spells to ensnare him. Morgana then used her dark arts to bewitch Merlin and lure him to the cave with promises of love and pleasure. When he entered the cave, Morgana quickly moved to the far side and begged him to come to her. As he crossed the intersection of the ley lines, Morgana's trap was sprung. Realizing what was happening, Merlin managed to break free of the bewitchment, but it was too late. The webs of Morgana's spells wove themselves around him, solidified into a crystal, and trapped him within.

      With Merlin trapped, Morgana knew that unmeasurable power was now hers. In addition to channeling the power of the ley lines, she now had access to Merlin's powers as well. With this power, she began to surround herself with ancient creatures of darkness such as goblins, demons and malevolent spirits. She also awakened the dead from their sleep and set them loose upon the people of Albion. Using both the power of the ley lines and Merlin's power, Morgana summoned up the drakoran horde to attack Avalon, though Arawn and his Inconnu countered that attack to some degree. In an attempt to overthrow Arawn's power and claim the Inconnu for her own, Morgana set crystals in the walls of Merlin's Cave to amplify the power of the ley lines before channeling it, along with Merlin's power, through herself. She partially succeeded, and many Inconnu rallied to her cause. Now Morgana waits in what was once known as Merlin's Cave, now called the Dark Spire, hoping that her newly acquired Inconnu army will deliver Albion to her.


How the Kobolds Found the Dark Spire

Beyond the Underground Forest lies a mysterious cave. When Kolfinna, daughter of Astrior, was out exploring with a group of Kobolds, they came across its entrance. Kolfinna was sure she had passed by the area before, but had never noticed the cave entrance. She wanted to go into it, but the others in her party were a little suspicious, they had also passed the area before without ever noticing it. After some discussion, the group agreed to go in and explore the cave.

      The first thing Kolfinna and the others noticed was a ring of columns form from stalactites and stalagmites in the middle of the cave. In the center of the ring was a large, almost opaque crystal that glowed with its own light. The Kobolds studied the crystal, and Kolfinna thought she could just make out the shadow of a person inside, but with the glow of the crystal it was hard to tell. Soon, Kolfinna lost interest in the center crystal and began to examine the walls of the cave. The others quickly followed her lead, and spread out around the room to examine the walls.

      The walls of the cave fascinated Kolfinna. They were studded with crystals arranged in lines that ran vertically around the room. The lines then ran across both the ceiling and the floor, all converging in at the center crystal. Waves of light pulsed along the crystals from a center point on the wall to the floor and ceiling, then disappeared into the main crystal to begin again. There seemed to be no pattern to the waves between the crystals, and it seemed to hypnotize the other Kobolds as they watched it. The mesmerizing power of the crystals was broken for Kolfinna though, who thought she saw a moment out of the corner of her eye. When she turned to look for the movement, she saw nothing. Giving her head a quick shake, she continued to explore the cave.

      Far from the entrance to the cave, Kolfinna noticed a dark corner. Something there softly called her name, and she looked around to see if anyone else had heard, it but they were busy elsewhere. Slowly, Kolfinna moved toward the corner. As her foot touched the leading edge of the darkness, a wave of fear and evil issued forth and swept across the room. Although Kolfinna wanted to turn and run, the voice that called to her lured her forward. In the distance, she heard one of her companions calling her name, but she could not answer.

      As Kolfinna took another few steps into the darkness, another wave of evil and fear washed over the room. This time, the fear inspired by the wave was enough to break the voices mesmerizing hold over Kolfinna. Shaking herself vigorously to wipe away the last vestiges of the voice, Kolfinna turned and ordered the Kobolds to leave the cave. As they began to leave, they saw Shar ahead of them, also fleeing. The Kobolds did not care that their enemies were nearby. As they fled, they tripped over a pair of Inconnu who had also been watching the events within. Again, all that mattered to the Kobolds at that point was to escape the evil in the cave.

      After the terrifying events in the cave, the Kobolds involved were hesitant to return to the Underground Forest, with the exception of Kolfinna. She continued to explore the Forest, although she took great care to avoid the cave. Astrior had ordered that no Kobold was to enter the cave until the source of the evil could be dealt with, and Kolfinna respected her mother's decision. When she did accidentally venture too close, Kolfinna could hear the seductive voice calling to her, and it took all of her energy to resist it. From time to time, Kolfinna would remind her mother of the cave, but Astrior always dismissed her daughter's concerns, saying there would be time to deal with it in the future.

      What no one realized was that when the wave of evil and fear passed through the cave and through Kolfinna, it was Gullveig, scanning the minds of everyone present. She examined their minds, searching for some bit of information that would prove useful in later days. But more importantly, she was able to latch onto their souls and slowly draw upon the Kobolds' energy. Patiently, she drained them of their free will until she was powerful enough to take control of all of Nyttheim, and use its inhabitants for her own plans of conquest.


How the Shar Found the Dark Spire

      Beyond the Underground Forest lies a mysterious cave. When Kaland, the leader of the Shar Queen's Guards, was out exploring with some of his men, he came across a group of Kobolds. Knowing the Kobolds had to be up to something, Kaland and the others stalked the Kobolds to the mysterious cave. As the Kobolds explored the cave, Kaland made various observations from his position at its entrance.

      The first thing he noticed was a large circle of merged stalactites and stalagmites, with a very large crystal in the center, in the center of the room. While the Kobolds were busy checking out the crystals embedded in the walls of the cave, Kaland snuck over to the crystal and peered inside. He could just barely make out the outline of a person inside the crystal before he had to dash back into hiding. As he stood watching the Kobolds search the rest of the cave, he thought he heard the echoing whisper. It sounded as if someone was calling for help. But after a moment it was gone.

      Kaland and the others kept a close watch as the Kobolds finished their exploration. As the female Kobold in the group approached the far corner of the cave, a wave of evil and fear passed over Kaland, leaving him stunned. Something evil was in that dark corner, something even more evil than the Shar. Forgetting himself, Kaland almost called out a warning and reveal their hiding position, but one of the other Kobolds tried to stop the female. She continued to move into the darkness of the corner even as another wave of evil and fear passed through the room. No longer able to endure it, Kaland and the others fled in terror.

      Kaland longed to return to the mysterious cave and study the large crystal to see whether he could unlock its secrets, but the Shar Queen forbade all of her people from returning there until the cave's evil presence could be taken care of. Every time Kaland would bring up the subject, however, the Shar Queen would very casually brush the topic aside to be taken care of at a later date. Kaland always believed that if the Queen herself had felt that evil presence she would not have dismissed him so quickly.

      What no one realized was that the wave of evil and fear that passed through the cave, Morgana scanning the minds of everyone there. From Kaland's mind, she picked out knowledge of the Morrighan, knowing that at some point in the future the information would be important. Morgana soon forgot about the Morrighan until years later when she happened to overhear the Shar calling out to their goddess, asking for help to defeat their enemies. Their cries brought back the memories of the Morrighan from long ago. The time had come for Morgana to take control of the Shar, and use them to further her plans of conquest and domination.


How the Inconnu Found the Dark Spire

      Beyond the Underground Forest lies a mysterious cave. When Divzar and Jaro'yen, the chosen of Arawn's Inconnu, were out exploring together, they came across a group of Shar spying upon a group of Kobolds. The Kobolds looked as if they were up to something that had caught the Shar's attention. The Inconnu determined that if something was interesting to the Shar, it might be interesting to them. Maybe they would discover something they could use in their battle against the Shar and Kobolds. So, the Inconnu began to follow the Shar as they set off after the Kobolds.

      As the Inconnu followed, first the Kobolds and then the Shar entered a cave. The Inconnu hadn't had a chance to explore that particular cave yet, so they were interested to see what the Kobolds had discovered there. After taking up a spot out of sight of the Shar Divzar and Jaro'yen studied the cave. The first thing they noticed was a large circle of merged stalactites and stalagmites in the center of the cave. Inside the circle was a crystal that was large enough to hold a good-sized human.

      While the Kobolds were examining the crystals in the walls, one of the Shar snuck out and examined the crystal. Because their enemies were there, the Inconnu didn't dare  examine the crystal themselves. From their safe distance, though, they thought they could see the faint outline of a man within the crystal. Divzar and Jaro'yen watched as the Shar returned to his hiding position and the Kobolds turned away from the walls to continue with their exploration.

      While some of the other Kobolds looked at the crystal in the center of the room, a lone Kobold female headed off into the far corner of the cave. As she neared that area, a wave of evil and fear passed through Divzar and Jaro'yen, leaving them frozen in place. Immediately, they sensed that something evil was there. One of the Shar was about to call out to the Kobold female, but another Kobold did so first.. She ignored him and continued moving towards the darkness of the corner. As she did, another wave of evil and fear pulsed through the room. At that point the Shar broke and ran out of the cave. They nearly tripped over Divzar and Jaro'yen, who were once again frozen in fear, in the process. As Inconnu were shaking themselves free of the evil presence's hold, the Kobolds flew past them. The Inconnu in turn ran back to Annwn.

      When they returned to Annwn, the pair told Arawn all that they had seen and felt in the cave. Arawn listened to their story. He reassured them that he would soon send a group of Inconnu to bring the evil spirit to Annwn, where it could be watched and kept away from others. He ordered the Inconnu to stay away from the cave until that time. Arawn soon became distracted with other things and forgot about the spirit. Jaro'yen and Dizvar did not forget, but they would never presume to bring up something like that to their master.

If Arawn had been paying more attention, he would have realized that the evil in the cave was a very ambitious woman with great power rather than just a random spirit. But even then Morgana's evil was at work, distracting Arawn from the evil that was growing within the cave until it was almost too late. Morgana had already begun to wreak havoc in Annwn and was ready to unleash her plans for conquest and domination upon Albion.