The First Journey
It is generally held true by most enlightened scholars that Elvenkind were the first to awaken in the world. The people flourished in their forested land beneath a perpetually star strewn night sky, tutored as they were in all things by Corellon Larethian and his Court. They built cities, created art and music and mastered the mysteries of magic. But in time one Elf, considered one of the greatest of his people, grew dissatisfied and yearned for something more. He turned to the unknown east and dismissing the misgivings of his people, made to journey there to explore. When the other elves asked when he would return, he replies, “When I have journeyed far enough.”
The Explorer went East. Although he had always felt it was infinite, the verdant forest of his home thinned to a plain of tall grasses. In the distance, the East was a rolling sea of chaotic grey mists, with whorls of color dancing in its midst. Thinking he had found the Eastern edge of the world, he continued on, until he found himself at the edge of a river. The far side of the river was shrouded in the chaotic mists, he was uncertain if there was land there or if it was the mists deceiving him.
He walked along the bank of the river until he encountered a bridge. The bridge was a large, living tree, shaped and grown to serve as a span across the waters of the river. At the arc of the bridge, he could see a Elven figure waiting there for him. Anger gripped his heart, had the Court of Corellion sent someone to stop him in? He stalked across the wooden expanse, stopping just shy of the tall graceful figure waiting there.
“Are you here to stop me?”, the Explorer asked in an even tone, “High Lady?”
She smiled, with a hint of infinite patience in her eyes, and replied, “No. I am here only to deliver a word of caution, if you would hear it?”
Calming, the Explorer responded, “Of course. What can you tell me of the far shore?”
“Once an Elf sets foot on the far shore of this river, that Act cannot be undone. Be sure that it is curiosity that leads you into the unknown and not ambition.”
The Explorer laughed, curiosity was what drove him! Wasn’t the desire to see more, to know more the very essence of this journey? He then spoke softly, his earlier anger at being intercepted gone from his mind, “I fear not the unknown. I will journey into the East and bring the Lore I find back to my People.”
The Goddess watched him walk past, whispering softly, “Perhaps…”
As the Explorer reached the far shore, the mist seemed to roll back like a curtain. The details were fuzzy at first, as if the land itself was only just now resolving itself into its true form. When his boots left the wooden bridge and settled onto the dirt of the far side, the mists were gone completely, revealing rolling grasslands to the horizon. A golden disc began to rise before him, spreading out light over the land, washing away the starlit sky with its brilliance.
This was the first thing the Explorer brought to his people, the cycle of night and day.
The Explorer continued into the East, he found Mountains and the people who had awakened there who called themselves the Dwarves. They met him with some suspicion. Beyond the Dwarves he met another diminutive race who welcomed him as a guest. He left the Gnomes in good spirits and entered a woodland realm reminiscent of his own, the Lythiri people were the closest he had encountered to his own kind and he lingered there with them for a time, teaching and learning in turn.
Past the Lythiri wood were the plains of the Centaurs, who shared with the Explorer a thirst of knowledge and exploration. They accompanied him through their lands but warned him that their own gods had forbid them from going beyond. He dismissed their cautioning words and departed with renewed eagerness.
He found the gates to the cities of the Zaris closed to him. While they didn’t meet him with violence they also did not welcome him. Speaking only of their war with the Foe, and how it consumed all of their time. Secretly he traded knowledge with their Queen, but again he dismissed her warnings of the dangers of going further into the East.
The land turned hostile and broken the further East the Explorer journeyed. For the first time, the Explorer had a sense of just how far he had journeyed and the great distance that separated him from his People. Angrily dismissing such nostalgic feelings, he continued on until he reached the outriders of the People of Gruumsh, violent and brutish creatures known later as the Orc.
It was the first time the Explorer was greeted with true violence. The Dwarves were suspicious and the Zaris dismissive, but the Gruumsh attacked him on sight. The Explorer was the greatest swordsman of his people and slew his foes without effort, but the fact that here in the East were people who would kill others, disturbed him. Convincing himself that they must be an aberration, he continued on.
But the East held nothing but more violence, the People of Gruumsh attacked him with more and more numbers. He slew all that approached, but their vast numbers pushed him to exhaustion. The sheer magnitude of the enemy before him brought the Explorer the realization that he could go no further. Was this the Foe the Zaris spoke of? An endless army of mindless brutes who slew for the sake of bloodlust and nothing more? With a heavy heart he turned back to the West, back home.
The Explorer carried word of the Foe back to the peoples he had encountered on his journey. The Zaris took pity on him and allowed him to rest and heal before sending him on his way. The Centaur carried him across their lands to speed him on his way home, for there was nothing the Centaur valued more than their homeland. The Lythiri took his warning to heart and turned their gaze away from the East. The Gnomes thanked the Explorer for his warning and traded with him supplies to continue his journey. The Dwarves seemed unsurprised by his news.
It was on the last leg of the journey home that the Explorer encountered a people who had awakened during his trek. The Humans greeted him with a mixture of awe and fear; some wanted nothing to do with him while others turned to him for wisdom. He passed on his warning and was surprised when one of their numbers joined his journey westward to his people.
The Explorer’s homecoming was a time of great celebration for the Elven people. The were worried about the Foe he had found in the far East, but all the others he had encountered along the way filled them with delight. They greeted the Human warmly and eagerly passed on their Lore to him, so that he could carry it back to his own people. They were dismayed at the briefness of the Human lifespan and many mourned his passing.
Word came to the Elven forest that the Peoples of the East were dying. The Foe had followed the Explorer’s trail westward, slaying all they encountered along the way. The Explorer remembered the blood thirst of the People of Guumsh and rallied his people to meet the Foe. As they crossed the human lands, they found them in turmoil, some met the Elves intent on joining their Host, others went to hide from the approaching Horde, while some thought to appease the enemy.
Past the Mountains of the Dwarves, the Elven Host with their Human, Dwarven and Gnomish allies, met the Horde of Gruumsh.
This was the second thing the Explorer brought to his people, death.
The War was bloody and terrible, but in time they pushed the horde back into their own blasted lands. They were joined by Centaur and Zaris warriors who aided in the final battles. It was only when the Gruumsh Horde was completely routed that the Explorer rallied the troops one last time for the journey homeward.