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The Land of Lythinall

Lythinall is my first ever created project for a novel. I’ve created worlds before, right down to the pantheon of Gods the people worship, but never for anything bigger than a game or short story. It started as a small land, surrounded my mountains and forests, as well as neighboring lands that aren’t always friendly. You don’t see much of these however, but I wanted to leave room to expand later. When I was designing my land I knew I had to come up with a name of the world in general. The world itself is called Seren’Dir (damn elves name everything right?) I also had to have a history, but I wanted to have that history guarded. What I mean is that not everyone would know the true history; some parts would be wiped from the books or destroyed, while others would simply change the details over time to exclude their part in it. What came about was an intriguing tale that the reader doesn’t fully understand until the last book, when they are told by an elven Seer about the horrible truth.

Karsis in Everknight
Artwork by Derek Mailhot

The land of Lythinall

When I started drawing the map I only included what I needed for the ideas in my head. I had the beginning and ending all planned out, so I knew the “edges” of my puzzle before I even started typing. As I filled in the parts of my story I found that I was mentioning other parts off of the map so I made notes. With the third book done I now feel the need to widen my map to show the reader where some of these places exist in the world of Seren’Dir.

New Lythinall

Guarded History

The first appearance of the history appears in The Darkness Returns, when Rhoe Discusses his love for reading:

     Rhoe was fascinated with books. Any book. He’d read anything just for the knowledge inside, no matter how trivial. He particularly loved books on the history of the world. Books on Lythinall were rare, but he’d read every one of them, including the Ancient Rule of the Elves.

     He wasn’t supposed to read those, but he had found them in the basement of the church dedicated to the goddess Syll. He had read every book in the church library and had stumbled on a loose board in the wall that had stored volumes of books on the subject. He read one at a time, sneaking them out to his tree and slipping them back at dusk–when no one was looking of course.

     The elves of ancient times had enslaved humankind. They were made to be workers, playthings, even traded amongst the royal houses in bets sometimes, and all because the elves could. The elves’ magic kept the humans from fighting back. Eventually, some of the humans learned a crude form of magic and retaliated. Every child in Lythinall knew the story, told mostly at bedtime or when parents wished to remind their children of how far they had come in the world. But seeing the words written and preserved for all time in something treasured by the church made it seem more real to him. Gone were the fantasies that the humans had decided one day to rise up and be free like so many children thought. No, these books told the gruesome history of the oppression and the breaking of the human spirit.

     If only he could find books on how they finally did break free. But nothing remained of the times that humans and elves made war on each other. That dark time was lost to human history. Of course, one could always ask the elves, but you would have to live long enough to get the answer.

As one could see there wasn’t much information then, and the church of the Goddess Syll (Goddess of Magic and Nature) kept those records sealed. Sadly, even their copies weren’t accurate. The second time the reader is introduced to the back story of this land it is by Karsis the bard, yet even he seems guarded with telling the whole truth.

     “In the history of this land, the elves ruled supreme. They commanded the forces of nature as friends and allies, and when the humans came from the far south, they had bitter war. The elves prevailed, and soon after the humans were their slaves.” He paused, almost reflecting on something, then took a deep breath and stared at the young boy, with silver eyes intent on his very soul. “But compassion won out in the end. After the war against the Dark One’s incarnation, there were some who marveled at the strength of some of the humans. There were then pairings of human and elf, if one would believe such a thing. But I digress. In the end, there was one who taught humans elven magic. For this they were banished.” He was still for a long time before collecting himself once more. “These elves traveled to the southern reaches of their great forest to make a community for themselves. They had brought their human slaves, and the ones who now commanded magic began teaching them as well. However, their magic was different. They were too hasty, and demanding. They never grasped the concept of asking. They had been slaves for so long that their despair flowed into their magic. When they used their magic, they ripped apart the very nature they were using, forcing the elements to obey them. Thus started the second great war between the humans and the elves.”

It is plain there are things he seems to be leaving out, on purpose one could surmise, yet we don’t really get to see that in this novel. Book 2 The Darkness Within only touches on this in part, when they discover who is really ruling in G’harr.

     “Madam Ill’lyth G’harr was the original elven matron who taught her human lover magic.” Janna recited. Her thoughts, however, went somewhere else when she spoke of this story. She didn’t even bother with music. “Back when the humans were slaves, there was one who broke the rules and taught her human lover the ways of elven magic. Afterwards, they both were banished. She went south with what followers she could gather to her cause and started the land of G’harr. This, of course, started the second great war—but that’s not where this gets scary. She was a vicious woman, powerful in the art and wicked with it. She was slain long ago by one of the last elves seen, and her body burned in the square of G’harr’s capitol city.” Janna sat down cross-legged on the floor, all strength fleeing her body. She knew how bad this really was.

This really only expands what we kind of already know, not really adding a whole lot, yet still giving the reader a bit more. In the Tales of Lythinall Anthology, Karsis starts the short story book off with a more detailed history of the land incorporating all of these parts and adding more:

     “Long and long ago, even to the memories of the oldest of the elves, the gods of this world argued and fought. The source of their fighting is something that we mortals will never understand, but their conflict lasted for centuries. This divine war devastated this entire world, which we call Seren’Dir, sending mountains crumbling and breaking the very lands asunder. Seeing the destruction they had wrought, at last the gods stopped and pondered for eons on how they had almost destroyed what they loved. They eventually came up with a solution, one that of course involved us. Each god would choose a mortal champion and invest a tiny bit of themselves within them, working through these beings instead of clashing directly with each other. These powerful beings, called incarnations, would work towards their god’s aims and goals, living the decades away without growing old as other mortals do. Although powerful and ageless, the incarnations were not, in fact, moral, as they could be slain.

     During these early years, great forests covered most of Lythinall, from the Barrier Mountains to the Northern Belt. Elves, faeries, and other sylvan folk freely roamed through these woods as they battled dragons for dominion. Even though dragons are resistant to the forces of nature and most magic, the elves’ mastery of the elements pulled the great beasts out of the skies, entangled them in roots torn from the earth, and punctured their hardened scales with ice. The elves also had to be constantly on guard against the excursions of the warlike oran and the larger ogrann that would come from the Shield Mountains to raid from time to time, and worked to stem the tide of these evil beings. Then the humans came.

     Humans migrated from the far southern lands, moving into the lower end of the great forest of Mist’rien. They treated with the elves and offered assistance against the dragons and oran, who had started streaming out of their mountain homes in force. The two races worked together for many decades without incident, eventually forging a truce with the great dragons, with many of the great beasts going into slumber. For a time, all the people of Seren’Dir live in harmony. However, nothing that good can last forever.

     It was shortly after this that things started happening rather quickly, in the grand scheme of things. Dar’Krist, incarnation of death and corruption, was sealed away by the other four incarnations for heinous crimes against the people of Tir-Novran to the west of Lythinall. With the help of the elves, he was locked away in the southern Sea of Irace in a great tomb of ice and the remaining incarnations helped survivors of the ruined city relocate to a secret island to rebuild.

     Back in Lythinall, the elves had their own misfortune that would start the great decline of their race. The humans and elves went to war, and the effects were devastating to everyone involved. No one knows what started it, or who was responsible, but what followed was the turning point for both races. Thousands of human warriors fell to the blades of elven blademasters and elven magic. Humans couldn’t cast magic so they were forced to develop other ways to contest the mighty elven archmages. So vicious was the fighting that the faeries refused to participate at all, stepping sideways into the moon and disappearing from Seren’Dir. In the end, the elves were victorious, and the remnants of the humans were taken into slavery. For centuries they the elves ruled over humans, yet were not unkind masters. The elves taught the humans the ways of nature and of the forests, taught their young in schools, and trained those that they felt they could trust as warriors. This lasted for over two hundred years, but then fate intervened once more: the incarnation of death was released from his prison deep in the sea of Irace and set off after his hated enemies, the elves, seeking revenge for their part in his imprisonment.

     The elven lords threw their human slaves at him in waves; the resulting death-tolls were appalling. Hundreds, if not thousands died, many rotting away at the slightest touch of the powerful being’s hands.  Once the human slaves were shown to be useless against the incarnation, elven archmages hurled spells from on high and great knights led their forces against him. Eventually, the elves’ magic encased him deep within a coffin of earth. The battle destroyed the western part of the Mist’rien and it was renamed The Valley of Khaerl, after a brave elven blademaster who sacrificed himself to bring Dar’Krist down. They took the coffin of earth to the north, and buried him down deep, weaving a mighty spell of Sealing over the earth that locked him away. Alas, the war against the incarnation was but another catalyst, bringing to light something even darker than his deeds.

     During that war, some elves admired certain humans for their for their bravery, and thus, the first pairings began. Even though such couplings was frowned upon heavily, more than a few elves took humans as lovers, and a couple years later the first of the half-elves were born. The elves continued to keep the humans as slaves, but a few now roamed the elven cities as consorts and spouses and were given certain privileges. In this era, fate reached out its cold hand and intervened once more, starting what would be known as the bloodiest war known to all of Lythinall.

     You see, one of the pairings was with the greatest archmage of that time, Ill’lyth G’harr. In her arrogance, Ill’lyth thought to teach her lover the art of magic. This was an abomination, as only those with elven blood could cast magic; when her transgression was discovered, the elven council, by a forty-one to one vote, banished Ill’lyth and her human consort to the Southwestern part of Lythinall, but that was not enough to stop the corruption that the archmage had begin. Many others went with the couple, feeling their banishment to be unjust. They had fallen for the honeyed words of Ill’lyth and broken free from their ideals and morals. These renegades started their own community and taught yet more humans the art of magic–but in the end, it backfired horribly.

     Elves, by their very nature, are connected to the elements around them, and to the very fabric of the world. They learn to cast their magic by asking the elements to help them, with an understanding that the elf will keep nature’s balance. Air, fire, earth, water, and ether. It’s all about the question posed by the caster, and the elements answer the best they can. To master such an art takes decades of study and meditation… but the short-lived humans didn’t have that kind of time. The humans, and many of the half elves who lived along side them, were warriors and conquerors. They saw every challenge as something to overcome instead of a lesson from which to learn. Whenever they were taught something, they rarely continued their studies afterward, unless it was to gain more power from the study. For these humans, magic was not a question—it was a demand, and the elements were to obey. The archmage either didn’t see this, refused to see it, or embraced it. None will ever know now.

     In any case, what resulted was the destruction of the very nature around them. Some elves in this new community were horrified once they saw that the humans were destroying nature instead of keeping balance with it. They called out to the elves of the north for help to stop them, but it was too late. The renegades of G’harr–the name they choose for their new community–slew most of these elves and declared war upon their brethren in the north.

     The human sorcerers, a title they bestowed upon themselves, fought with their newfound power, tearing up great trees and hurling them like spears against the elven cities. Whole swaths of the great forest were destroyed in titanic battles, and the destruction that followed tore apart rivers, lakes, and woods alike. The great forest became a battlefield, and even a weapon against the elves; worse, their human slaves rebelled at the same time. The elves were fighting a war on two fronts and they were losing fast. For over ten years, the elves struggled against the G’harran elves and human sorcerers, but in the end, it was an unlooked for ally that saved the day.

      A large group of human slaves, led by a warrior named Drennel, stopped fighting against the elves and joined instead joined them against the sorcerers. They remembered the teachings of the elves and saw how the sorcerers were destroying nature. Although none of these warriors knew magic, they were instrumental in turning the war around by sheer force of will, and they pushed the sorcerers back to their new lands and out of the elves’ territory. Thanks to Drennel and his forces the elves triumphed, but even so the destruction was great.

     The victors did not celebrate, nor did they rejoice. The great forest of Mist’rien was no more. Now it was only three small fragments. In the south of Lythinall lay the Forest of the Lost.  Near the End of the World lay the Misty Woods. Lastly, in the high north, below the Northern Belt was The Watching Woods. The elves turned their backs on their allies and disappeared into the Snow Peak mountains and never ventured around Lythinall again, except for the odd elf here and there. The humans, led by the great warrior Drennel, settled in a large area nestled between three rivers. They named this Everknight, a name that Drennel took as a surname to match. He became King and under his knowledge, the land of Lythinall prospered once again. One decade turned into another, and the memory of the elves vanished from most of the human’s minds. They became myth and legend, as did the stories of their kind. Only the bards and the kings’ own line knew the truth.

     It was in these new times that the men and women of Lythinall worked hard to tame the land around them, carving out an existence from the remnants of the war. After a few years a brave company of adventurers formed and rode across the land, cleansing it of monsters so that humanity could spread out to frontier villages and grow in safety.  The Companions of Everknight were mighty heroes, delving into elven ruins and fighting off awakening dragons. They were led by the prince of Everknight and included the legendary bard Karsis. These famed slayers of evil ran for many years, eventually settling down across Lythinall as they aged and the land prospered under their protection. It is in this age, the age of new heroes, that you find yourselves thrust into, reading about the various heroes and villains in and around Lythinall. The stories you find herein are often footnotes, little things that make up grander stories that you may have already read, or will hunger to read after knowing what lies within these pages. So–delve in, if you dare to learn of the missing parts of the Land of Lythinall, but be warned: it won’t always be pleasant and oftentimes you may be drawn in too deep. Never fear though, you can always climb back out. The question is: will you want to?”

During the final book, The Darkness Falls, we get to hear the awful truth from the elven Seer, Adrilian Everence, but you will all have to wait for that piece…

“Knowledge is like the glowing coals of a campfire, needed to make the fire stable, but dangerous to handle without thinking.” – Karsis the bard

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