The following appendices provide background information to the world that you are about to journey through. Much more about the world of Arborell can be found within the other titles in the Chronicles of Arborell series. The following links will help with navigating this information.
A Short Mythology of Arborell
The Dungeon Crawlers of Das Vallendor
The Orncryst of the Trell'sara
The Dreya'dim Swarm and the Gates of Hallen'draal
The Traps of Traebor
A Short Mythology of Arborell
Excerpt from a lecture given at the Academy of Histories at Landfall in the Year of Settlement 419.
If we are to understand the history of Arborell it is important to accept that little written evidence survives. What we know of the time before Men made landfall here is taken mostly from the oral traditions of the Hordim, and the scant texts that can be found carved into the many temples of this world. What is clear is that the story is a long one, and it stretches back into a prehistory that is difficult for Men to comprehend. It is a story however, that is compelling, one which explains the state of our world today, and gives an insight as to why the ancient works of this world lie in such ruination.
For all that will follow it is important to remember that the Hordim believe in a world where the supernatural and the unseen are as important, and as real, as their waking lives. The history I am about to unfold must be viewed from the perspective that for our mortal enemies the world is controlled by three great Powers, and everything that has happened, or will happen, is their doing. How these Powers came into being, and how they are bound into a single existence is the essence of Hordim mythology. It is also where we must start.
Long before the arrival of either Hordim or Men in the world there existed only the Shan'duil, the River of Life; and it alone wielded all power, creating all that breathed or grew in the world, intent on balancing the rhythm of its creation as it is expressed in the relentless cycle of the seasons. For time unrecorded it stood in solitary dominion of the world, a pulsing life-essence that bound the fate of all living things together.
In the oral histories of the Hordim it is said that the dominion of the Shan'duil remained unchanged until the roots of a great Tree came into contact with the River of Life. Somewhere within the vastness of the Malleron forests a monstrous Oak delved deep into the bedrock of the world and touched the Shan'duil, turning it instantly to white stone . In that moment a new Power was born, a sentient, immortal Tree possessed of all the powers of the Shan'duil, that spread its dominion over all other trees. From that chance encounter arose the Silvan Tree, the Lord of Trees, and under its stewardship the forests of Arborell flourished, spreading to every corner of the world.
In this manner the balance of life was maintained; the Shan'duil continuing its dominion over the cycle of life, the Silvan Tree its lordship of all the great forests. Amongst this quiet existence the Two Powers grew in strength, and found comfort in the verdancy of their world. It was a quiet dominion that lasted for untold millennia, until the coming of the Forgotten Ones.
It is not known who the Forgotten Ones were. There are no records of their origin, or carven images that might give hint to their nature. All that is known is that they lived long in this world and then were gone, but their story is a turning point in the history of Arborell.
From a place beyond the borders of the world the Forgotten Ones arose, settling in Arborell and making a life for themselves amongst the great Trees. Theirs was an existence without material want, nomadic and simple in their desire to do no harm to the world they ventured in. In the course of their wanderings it was inevitable that they encountered the Silvan Tree, and not being creatures of greed or distrust gave their fealty to that Power. In return the Silvan Tree introduced them to the Shan'duil, and in that meeting the Forgotten One's learned of the great energy that the First Power had woven into the world. This energy they called EarthMagic.
Time flowed on and the world, which had only known the quiet dominion of trees, became filled with the voices of the Forgotten Ones. Favoured by the Silvan Tree they flourished, and soon their multitude found homes wherever the trees of the forest spread their boughs. Of all things that found favour with the Second Power it was the voices of the Forgotten Ones that intrigued the Great Tree most. In all the long years of its existence it had never known the clarity of the spoken word, and given the opportunity learned the language of these peoples and bonded it with EarthMagic. The words of the Forgotten Ones became one with the life-force of the world, a key that could be used to manipulate its power. The Silvan Tree offered such power to the Forgotten Ones but they declined the offer, and left the control of such magic with the Two Powers. It was not for them, they said, to have such a boon for it would surely be their undoing.
In truth the Forgotten Ones knew the dangers of unrivalled power, and rather than wield it themselves built great Temples, and gave homage to the Silvan Tree in gratitude of her offer. Each of the Temples was built near a tributary of the River of Life, and each delved far into the earth, their builders' purpose to find solace with the pulse of the world. These dorum grew in all the corners of Arborell and so the world again continued for many more millennia.
As is the way of things there came a time when even a great Power can fall into folly. Without the care that should have been given the Silvan Tree created a race of Beings it called Trell'sara, or Guardians. The Guardians were to be custodians of the trees, as selfless and caring as the Forgotten Ones themselves, but instead their ambitions proved both treacherous and destructive. In secret the Trell'sara plotted a great war against the Forgotten Ones, their aim to destroy the followers of the Silvan Tree and then tear down the Tree itself. In their minds the world was big enough only for them, and as was there nature they had no intention of doing the fighting themselves.
Out of the living earth the Trell'sara, who had been given the power to harness EarthMagic by the Silvan Tree, created the Hresh, vicious warriors designed as weapons of war. With these creatures they swept the Forgotten Ones from the world and brought down the Tree, breaking it up and throwing it into a deep abyss. In one violent act of betrayal the Trell'sara took the world for themselves.
But the Silvan Tree was not dead. In the depths of the earth the Tree struggled to survive, its tenuous grip on life growing stronger as it gained strength from its proximity to the Shan'duil. Far from the sight of the Trell'sara the Tree gathered its resolve and waited, mourning the loss of the Forgotten Ones and lamenting the folly of its actions.
In the light of day the Trell'sara knew nothing of the Silvan Tree's survival. Quickly they took dominion of the known world and began creating new creatures to meet their need for slaves. The Hresh were effective warriors but had no talent for the domestic, so the Guardians created the Jotun to serve as builders and engineers, the Morg as farm labourers and menial workers, and the Mutan to oversee them all. Only when all these creatures had been brought into the world did the Trell'sara create the Vardem, their personal servants for which little has been recorded.
Again the millennia passed as a flowing ocean of time. The slaves of the Trell'sara laboured hard at the behest of their masters, and no threat came to bother their dominion until the Silvan Tree had grown strong enough to act.
Such was the need for slaves required to meet the indolence and excess of the Trell'sara, that it came to pass that the balance of life and death in Arborell began to falter. All of the creatures created by the Guardians carried within them a small glimmering of the River of Life, and with that spark came sentience and a will to find a better existence. The Trell'sara were cruel masters and thought nothing of the loss of multitudes of slaves in the building of their great citadels and pleasure palaces. Such losses released these sparks of existence into the world, but they had nowhere to go, and soon the burden of such unrestrained energy began to weigh heavily upon the Shan'duil.
In the dark recesses of the abyss within which it had been thrown the Silvan Tree came to an agreement with the River of Life. The cycle of Life and Death had to be restored, and it could only be done one way. In that deep abode the Silvan Tree created a mirror-image of itself, a third Power of the world concerned only with Death, and the force by which the sparks of existence now roaming freely in the world could be gathered up and returned properly to the Living world.
Such a tree was given the name Dreya, and its dominion became known as Hallen'draal. In its domain the sparks of Life were gathered and scourged, to be reborn as new Beings into the world of light above. The Dreya Tree took to its task with great energy and in doing so scourged the memories of those it brought into its Underworld. It was through the Dreya Tree that the Silvan Tree found its opportunity.
It must be understood that the Trell'sara were indolent but they were not stupid. They knew the nature of their creations and placed upon them all a Word of Command, a spell that kept their slaves submissive and controllable. Without it they knew they would fall prey to the unrestrained hatred of their charges, and ensured diligently that the Word would never falter.
In the darkness of the Dreya's domain the Word of Command was scourged from all creatures memory only to be reasserted when a Being returned to the world above. On a few select Jotun the Silvan Tree assured that the Word of Command would have no effect once they were reborn, and as was the wish of the Great Tree laboured in secret to throw down their Masters. Although it is unclear how the Great Insurrection started it has been recorded that the rebellion grew quickly, the Trell'sara caught unawares as they pursued their interests in sloth and excess. In a wave of violence and death the Trell'sara were themselves destroyed, their vast cities and palaces torn down stone by stone. When the slaves of the Trell'sara had finished, their masters had been scourged from the world and their empire laid waste; their memory lost to a world that did not wish to remember them.
In a world where there was no longer control the slaves found themselves without purpose and soon spiralled into violence. Within this great upheaval the old overseers of the Trell'sara, the Ahmutani, or Mutan as they are known to Men, took the Word of Command for themselves and Uttered it again into the world. It was a cruel irony that Arborell now belonged to the slaves of the Trell'sara, and it was the Mutan that now ruled them all.
Eight long millennia saw no change to the power of the Mutan. The Oera'dim, as the creatures now called themselves, divided into a series of tribal allegiances that spread into all the corners of the world, and such was the power of the Mutans' Word of Command that no challenge was made against them. Then came the arrival of Men.
Out of the great eastern ocean a ragged fleet of ships arose into Arborell. Settling first on the island of Dromannion the Nations of Men then made landfall upon the shores of Arborell itself. Neither Man nor Hordim, as we have come to know the Oera'dim, understood each other's nature and misunderstanding and mistrust soon turned to open warfare. The result has been centuries of war, and the untold losses that have been endured in those great conflicts.
And now this tale is almost done. Our part in the history of this world began with our arrival upon the shores of Dromannion, but the history of this world stretches far beyond the borders of our understanding. We can only wonder at what the future holds for all of us.
The Dungeon Crawlers of Das Vallendor
As told by the Venerable Siddigh to his students in the Year of Settlement 398
It is recorded within the Library of the Administrators Guild that the first settlement at Vallendor began in the Year of Settlement 188. Commenced as a penal colony upon the shores of Elesmenedene it quickly grew into a trading port, and then as a waystation for those travelling into the far southern regions of Kalborea. Although it is unclear as to when the Deep Guild itself was formed, the town, and then city of Das Vallendor has always been known as a meeting place for those men and women that we have come to know as Dungeon Crawlers.
The history of the Deep Guild has been wrapped in secrecy and rumour since it first made its services known to the world, and since that time its Brethren have been highly sought after as a means of acquiring important artifacts and talismans from the deep ruins of Arborell. Whether this acquisition has been done legally, or by means of theft is a point often debated amongst those who have either commissioned their services, or been the victims of their sometimes unsavoury practices.
If we are to understand the Brethren of the Deep Guild we must first appreciate who they are. From the inception of the Guild Das Vallendor has been a focal point of all the underclasses of our society. Thieves and mercenaries, professional criminals and murderers have all found sanctuary within the sprawling slums and alleyways of the Outer City. Within the shadows of the shining walls of the citadel of Vallendor can be found a cesspit of villainy from which all members of the Guild are founded. It is from such unremarkable stock that the Guild trains its members, turning the vilest of citizens into highly trained and proficient Brethren. How this training is conducted is a secret not known to those outside of the Guild.
It is known however, that the Brethren hold skills in weaponry, bush craft and the lore of the Ancients. It is assumed that this training must also entail knowledge of the ruins of Arborell, and of the monstrous creatures that can be found within them. Indeed it has been recorded that not only can the living be found within the halls and chambers of this Underworld, but also the spectral remains of many Hordim as well. Such a prospect can only give rational men reason to pause, and let others take the risks necessary to delve those dark places.
In truth there are few outside of the Brethren that would wish the occupation they have been chosen for. To willingly descend into the labyrinths beneath the ruins of Arborell is a task left only to the foolhardy or the insane, and it has been rumoured that all Dungeon Crawlers posses these traits in some measure. But no-one can dispute that the life of a Dungeon Crawler can be a lucrative one, for there are many willing to pay for the services the Guild provides. Whether the Dungeon Crawler survives the commission is a matter that can only be determined by Fate and a measure of luck.
The Orncryst of the Trell'sara
From the Histories of the Great March, as told by the Maturi Hedj
Although it is unknown to most Men, the first creations of the Trell'sara were not the Hresh. Long before their great betrayal of the Silvan Tree they had dabbled in the ways of EarthMagic, searching for a weapon they could use to destroy the Tree and the Forgotten Ones. It is known that the Trell, as we now choose to call them, had no wish to fight their enemies themselves. Instead they took the knowledge they had gained of EarthMagic and worked in secret to create a beast that would prove unstoppable in their service. This beast they called gael'qirion, or Windhammer, which we know today as Dragon.
It was the ambition of the Trell to let these beasts loose upon the Forgotten Ones, and in the confusion bring down the Silvan Tree. They had not however, considered that the Forgotten Ones would put up a stiff resistance, and brought the Dragons to heel, forcing them to retreat into the high mountains of the west. The beasts that the Trell had created then turned on their masters and the Trell themselves fell into disarray.
In desperation the Trell unmade the Dragons, reversing the spell of their creation, and instead creating a new Beast, another Dragon but different from those that had come before. In their folly they brought a beast into the world, one addicted to gold in all its forms. For the Trell it was a means with which they might control the Dragons, and ensure that they did not turn upon them again. But as before they had made a terrible error.
Unknown to the Trell they had done more than just build a new weapon they thought they could control. In giving the Dragons their addiction they had also tightly bound the properties of the metal into the creatures themselves. Dragons coveted gold and would do anything to obtain it, but they had also been made immortal and could not be killed. As long as gold existed in the world, so would Dragons.
Quickly the attempts of the Trell to use their gael'qirion foundered. The Dragons would do as they were told, but soon there was not enough gold to keep them placated. With no source for their addiction the Dragons turned on each other, fighting for whatever scraps of the metal each held. It was a situation that left the Trell with no choice, they would have to unmake the Dragons once again. Only this time it did not work.
The Dragons had been made immutable, and realising the intentions of the Trell turned on them once again. It must have been a terrifying proposition, and it spurred the Trell to take drastic action. In desperation the Trell created the first Hresh, and used these warriors to trap one of the great beasts. With all the power that could be mustered they removed a single talon from one of its monstrous claws and fixed it to the blade of a jewelled axe. They could not kill the Beast with any EarthMagic they possessed, but they were going to artifice a weapon that would.
With the axe in hand a party of the Trell began a descent into the bedrock of the world. They could not use the Temples of the Forgotten Ones or their great labyrinths to reach their goal, and instead had to find another way. In their desperation they were looking for the Shan'duil, as only the power of the River of Life, pure and potent, could give them the tool they needed to destroy the Dragons.
It is recorded in the mythology of the Hordim that many Trell died in their attempt to find the Shan'duil. It was at the root of a great cave system that they found a pulsing tributary of the River, and dipped the axe into its raw essence. In a flash of brilliant energy the talon fused with the metal of the axe, a surge of incandescent power melding claw and iron into a shining talisman. The Orncryst had been born.
With their new weapon the Trell returned to the surface and engraved the axe's name into its hilt, embedding a filigree of pure gold into the carefully carved letters. This was the final piece of the weapon they needed, and they used it to devastating effect. In the hands of the first Hresh, Amakek, who is also known to history as Hamulkuk, the Orncryst drew all Dragons to its gold inlay. The need for gold was so great, so ingrained in the nature of the Dragons created by the Trell that they could smell it no matter where it was in the world, and because of this the Hresh warrior given the job of destroying them did not have to search them out.
It was Amakek who waited, alone upon the Mountains of the Moon in the far west of Arborell. One by one the Dragons came to him, and with the Orncryst in hand killed them. Against the raw power of EarthMagic the Dragons had no defence, a single stroke of the blade throwing them into death and dissolution. When he was finished the Dragons of the Trell'sara were all dead. Or so they thought.
In truth a few had not been drawn by the Orncryst from their lairs in the western mountains. Seeing the devastation wrought by Amakek upon their numbers they resisted the urge to answer the gold's insistent call, and waited instead for the Hresh to return to his Masters. Many had died, but a few survived and as far as can be told still live in the world today.
The Orncryst itself became the greatest of all talismans created by the Trell, and with their downfall fell into the hands of the Hordim. It is said that they could not abide its connection to their old Masters and took it far below ground, entombing it inside an ancient labyrinth. Where it now finds its home is unknown to Men. We can only assume that the Hordim have hidden it well.
The Dreya'dim Swarm and the Gates of Hallen'draal
From a handbook stolen from the Academy of the Brethren in Das Vallendor
Although it is well known that the Dreya Tree holds within its dominion the Underworld of Arborell, it is less understood as to why the spectral remains of many Hordim inhabit the darker places of the world. If we look at the mythology of the Hordim we see that the progress of life and death is an eternal cycle, one that requires entry to the Underworld for any spark of life wishing to be reborn into the world Above.
The answer to the mystery of why Dreya'dim are found in the ruins of the world can be divined from the tale of the True Witness, a story told by the Living Books of the Horde. It is said that all Hordim must stand before the Gates of Hallen'draal, and give account of their lives before they may enter the Underworld. Any Hordim who has been measured worthy of entry is taken into Hallen'draal and then reborn into the world when their time comes. Any Hordim however, who is measured unworthy is taken into the Underworld and scourged. What this entails is unknown to Men, but the process removes all vestiges of the Hordim's spirit and leaves the creature as a blank slate, able to be reborn into the World Above.
There are some however, that the Dreya Tree deems irretrievable. Such spirits fall into the service of the Dreya, never to find rebirth into the World Above. It can only be surmised that some of these spirits are exiled into the lonely corridors of the ancient ruins where they have been encountered. It is thought that these Dreya'dim are shackled to the sources of EarthMagic that can be found there, and are perhaps undertaking some duty for the Dreya Tree. Whatever the reason, it is possible to find these mindless spirits in all the ancient ruins, and any Dungeon Crawler who encounters one should take great care. They are deadly.
From the private papers of the Maturi Hedj, circa YS 417.
At the time of the creation of the Hordim by the Trell'sara it became apparent that the proper upkeep and supervision of their slaves was a time-consuming proposition. With their enemies destroyed the Trell'sara quickly fell into sloth and excess, and without the will to do the work themselves created the Mutan to act as their Slavemasters. The Mutan were held by the same Word of Command as all other Hordim but had ambitions of their own, and in the long years of their servitude found a way to obtain the power of their Masters indirectly for themselves.
While the Trell'sara fell into indolence the Mutan brought to their attention a practical problem that could not be addressed in any conventional manner. To complete the many building projects required for the Trell'saras' lavish needs, it was necessary for the Masters to attend the building sites and use their knowledge of EarthMagic. This was especially so when laying the foundations of the palaces and temples that were being raised in their own honour. Such attendance had become difficult to obtain as the Trell felt a growing want to leave such things to their Mutan. In this matter the Mutan saw an opportunity.
It was the Mutan Cammeril who came before the Great Council of the Trell'sara and put forward a solution to their problem. What was the need for the Masters to attend such works, he said, if it was possible instead to imbibe the powers needed directly into a talisman that might be held by one of their trusted Mutan. Without the need for the Masters to attend, the projects would move with greater speed and the Masters could be left to their own pursuits, undisturbed by the petty needs of their slaves.
The Great Council agreed, and quickly developed a series of talismans that they knew as Sharyah. Such talismans were artificed as gems, encased in a thick silver setting and given the power to perform a specific function simply with the utterance of their name. The Mutan Cammeril became the first recipient of such a Sharyah, a Force Stone for the clearing and levelling of foundations. Soon he approached the Grand Council for more of the talismans, and they were gladly given as well.
The Trell'sara were ever mindful however, of the distrust they held for all their creations and to ensure their own security built into each of the Sharyah a fail-safe that meant a single Oera'dim could never wield more than one of the talismans at any one time. To place more than one of the Sharyah together set off an uncontrollable discharge of energy that would result in a devastating explosion and the complete dissolution of the Oera'dim using the Sharyah. This limitation restricted the effectiveness of the Sharyah as tools but gave the Mutan their first taste of true power. It was a taste the Mutan could not forget, and one that they would never relinquish willingly.
It should be noted that over the millennium that have passed since the creation of the Sharyah the power of these talismans has slowly diminished. In these modern times the Sharyah are still powerful tools but possess less of the potency that was theirs to command in the Ancient World. Because of this a Man or Oera'dim holding such a talisman must remember two important rules. The first is never to place two Sharyah of the same kind together, and secondly never to carry more than three different Sharyah at any one time. The power of the talismans may have ebbed but to do either of these things will lead to the same explosive outcome.
The Traps of Traebor
From an excerpt of the writings of the Grand Master of the Academy of the Brethren
in Das Vallendor.
Although much is known of the locations of the many dorum in the world, the actual purpose of these great Temples is shrouded in mystery. What can be ascertained from our research into all the underground labyrinths is that they have fulfilled an important role in the histories of the Oera'dim, and not for the reasons you might consider.
For whatever purposes the Temples were originally constructed, the Hordim have used them instead as proving grounds for their warriors for many generations. Until the coming of Men a warrior could complete his deskai, or Right of Passage, by surviving a series of tests laid out in these dark labyrinths. These tests were lethal in extent, a cornucopia of traps, mazes and hidden secrets, that were built into the ancient ruins to fully prove an Oera'dim's right to call himself Warrior.
To this extent the ruins of Arborell are a deadly proposition to venture in, and none more so than Traebor. Within its ruins can be found the fullest extent of the Hordes' artifice in engineering and mechanical devices. A wrong footfall, or a search too thorough can lead to the triggering of one of these traps, and it is only a Brethren's skill that will save them from a sure, and lonely end. There is only one counsel that can be given. Take care when searching these dark corridors, and never relax your vigilance. One wrong step and you will die.
Additional Game Modules
It is intended that the Quest for the Orncryst of the Trell'sara is only the first module in a series of adventures that will use the Torchlight Adventure Game system. There are many other great Talismans that lay hidden within the Underworld of Arborell, and many will be hunted by the Brethren of the Deep Guild. If you wish to obtain these additional modules you need only join the notification list at www.arborell.com or visit the Chronicles of Arborell forum. As soon as they are available you will be able to download them from the website.
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The Torchlight Text Edition is the intellectual property of the author, Wayne F Densley, and all rights are reserved by him. Any questions regarding this title, or any other book in the Chronicles of Arborell series can be answered by emailing the author at firstname.lastname@example.org