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By Ray Bingham, Triumph Studios Writer
Keepers of the Valley
The principal members of Inioch's Court were a popular, yet scholarly and restrictive, society called "The Keepers." Dedicated to preserving order and maintaining peace for all the fair races in Inioch's Blessed Kingdom, they grew to considerable influence and power. The Keepers were hailed as the "Fruit of the Elves," and symbolized all that was good and right about Elven rule.
Children of Chaos
Humans were different than any other race in the land. For some races, by their nature, good came speedily and without effort, while for others, by their nature, evil threatened to plunge them into a void. For Humans, the path was not readily apparent. Unruly and restless, they possessed many savage qualities, yet some among Humankind demonstrated a great propensity for the divine. And while there were other races in the land that were neither good nor evil, the Humans were the first to seek Inioch's sanctuary.
Debate and Consequences
Five years passed and the short-lived Humans grew restless and chaffed under the strict Elven rule. A rebellious group of Humans rained down upon the Elven court without warning or mercy. Lord Inioch was cut down in cold blood. Queen Elwyn, Inioch's second wife, managed to flee the Court with her daughter, Julia. Prince Meandor, Inioch's son by his first wife, was left for dead. The Court lay in ruins. The bodies of the fallen Elves were callously heaped into a mountain of dead and left to rot. Soon thereafter, Humans drove all the remaining Elves, and any other non-Human, from the Valley of Wonders, claiming it as their new home.
During the sacking of the Elven Court, young Prince Meandor hid under the bodies of fallen guardsmen, watching helplessly as the Humans slew his relatives and closest friends. When the carnage finally ceased, Meandor, first-born son of Inioch, limped from the Valley of Wonders, beaten and abused. Though he would heal physically, his soul remained scarred and red with anger. He could hear nothing but the song of vengeance.
The fall of the Elven Court sharply divided the remaining Elves' vision for the future of their humbled race. Some Elves, intent on restoring peace to the land, sought only to rebuild. Others, led by Prince Meander, saw only one recourse: the extermination of the Human race. He gathered his allies into the shadow of his torment. The Elves who shared his unquenchable hatred left the company of their brethren and set off on their own to plot their revenge.
The Rise of Vengeance
Dark Elves, who had long grown their forbidden colonies in secret, deep within the black earth, joined him. With the weight of his royal descent behind him, Meander's promise of vengeance, bloodshed and power proved a siren's song for the ferocious Dark Elves. And so a new political faction was born from the ashes of Inioch's Court. So zealous in its goals was the faction, that even its followers considered it a religion, and named themselves the "Cult of Storms." They demanded that the world heed Meandor's call for vengeance, no matter the cost to Elven life or soul. With aid from the other races of darkness, the Cult proceeded to organize a global campaign of terror against the Humans, Elves and anyone that opposed their dark ideals.
The Cult employed any means necessary to inflict havoc upon the usurping Human race, which held the Valley of Wonders and grew steadily in power. War poured over the earth. Still the Humans grew and persisted and found ways to survive, as if inspired by the afflictions they suffered at the hands of the cruelest of torturers.
The Rise of Sacrifice
Only Queen Elwyn, Inioch's second wife, believed the Keepers' credo that the Humans could turn to the ways of peace and good. Having escaped the slaughter in Inioch's Court-bringing along her newborn daughter, Julia-she witnessed the sacrifice of the bravest Keeper Heroes. Elwyn knew the popular opinions were false, and so, she defiantly protected the fragments of the group that remained, though it cost her potential subjects. As soon as she could find shelter for her refuge-seeking followers, she set to helping the Keepers accomplish their mission.
That shelter comes from the Halflings of the United Cities, who donate the Isle of Aldor to the Elves. After nearly thirty years of wandering and fleeing, Queen Elwyn and her refugees found a new Court. She is proclaimed rightful ruler over the Elves. The Elves of Aldor accept her as ruler, and the Halflings back her appointment with unprecedented enthusiasm.
For the next two centuries, the Keepers slowly worked to rebuild their hopes for a peaceful co-existence with humanity. Most races viewed the Keepers with suspicion, but the fair races of the surfaces feared Meandor for the dark scars upon his soul and his fearsome allies. Using Elwyn's meager resources, the Keepers made every effort to counter the damage done by the Cult of Storms. Elf slew Dark Elf; Dark Elf slew Elf in bitter battle.
A Child of Hope
Yet, despite her training, for two centuries the lands bathed in blood. Julia grew in the harsh realm of adversity, and came to know the workings of war, diplomacy, magic and power, but at the same time she learned to cherish the times of tranquillity, celebration, and joy that flitted about her in the form of dear friends. She knew the power of love and the dangers of hatred, and so it was that she learned wisdom.
Wars without Number
Silence before the Storm
Signs and Wonders
Return to the Valley of Wonders
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