History of the Shiliskin Empire
The shiliskin first began to record their history around the year 2000, although at the time they were spread throughout Darkhollow in a network of warring nationstates. One prophet, a withered shiliskin named Jarzarrad, appeared early in shiliskin recorded history and was thought to have been granted immortality by the Korlach, a mighty leviathan beneath Darkhollow’s great lake, so he might serve as the creature’s speaker. Near 4000, Jarzarrad, in his thousandth year of life, came to serve as the personal advisor for a war chief known as Vogan Sillgar. Jarzarrad prophesized that Vogan’s primary general, Jayan, would betray the war chief by spawning a child, a young warrior who would eventually kill Vogan and take his place.
Although Jayan vowed to never betray Vogan in such a way, the war chief remained impassive. In an effort to prevent Jarzarrad’s prophesy from coming to pass, Vogan condemned Jayan to death by sacrificing him to the Korlach. Unfortunately for Vogan, Jayan was swallowed whole by the Korlach only to be belched out on a deserted beach to the west. While in the Korlach’s hollow stomach, Jayan spawned an offspring, a young shiliskin named Illsalin.
Knowing they could never return to their old nation-state, Jayan fled with Illsalin to a neighboring shiliskin kingdom. There they were taken in as slaves and sold to a gladiator broker. Illsalin grew up in the arenas, miraculously surviving battle after battle until he became a young adult and managed to organize a revolt and attempt a daring escape. Through his strategies and success, slaves rallied around Illsalin and he soon became their leader. Indeed, the mere presence of his army would often cripple any opposing force that stood against him, as most slave conscripts quickly fled to his side of the battle line.
After years of struggle, Illsalin did fulfill Jarzarrad’s prophesy and defeated Vogan and his army. Illsalin then succeeded in uniting the shiliskin nation-states, proclaiming the outpost south of the Corathus Creep to be their new home. The outpost grew into a capital city and soon the city itself became synonymous with its ruler and was simply named “Illsalin.”
The Reign of Illsalin, the Gladiator King
Illsalin prolonged his life with dark magic and an unnatural thirst for conquest, enabling him to lead the newly formed Shiliskin Empire for the first few hundred years of its existence. During this time, the shiliskin displaced many of the other races. The werewolf clans were driven back into their old ancestral territories west of Lake Korlach.
Jarzarrad, the prophet who foretold Illsalin’s rise to power, was exiled for his loyalty to Vogan. Normally Jarzarrad would have been executed outright, but he was spared due to the truth of his prophesies and that he had ironically made Illsalin’s birth possible. After his exile, Jarzarrad traveled to the east of Lake Korlach and has remained there in relative seclusion ever since.
As Illsalin grew and prospered, the shiliskin deathshed priests learned to use the local underwater life, called nargilor coral, to fuel their incantations and augment their rituals. With this newfound power, they were able to venture into the Korlach’s lair and lull the beast into submission. The Korlach, previously thought to be an uncontrollable force of nature, became the personal guardian of the Shiliskin Empire. Even as the Shiliskin Empire grew more technologically advanced, the shamanistic deathshed priests retained their place in society as the keepers of the Korlach.
With the Korlach now under control, the shiliskin were free to colonize the lake’s edge without fear of retribution. Lake districts such as Malgrinnor and Xill appeared and prospered during this time, fueling the spread of the Shiliskin Empire. Illsalin died in 4812 and three emperors followed before Draygun ascended to rule Illsalin.
The Fall of Xill
Many years into Emperor Draygun’s rule, the shiliskin began to grow suspicious of the lights appearing in the great spire above the lake. They could faintly see a building carved into the stone at the cavern’s height and it appeared to be near completion. Draygun organized a battalion to crush whoever had arrived to take residence in Darkhollow. The battalion never returned.
More angered than afraid, Draygun amassed an army to rush the unknown interlopers once and for all. While the army gathered outside the gates of Illsalin, a horde of drachnids burrowed into the nearby and undefended lake city of Xill. A bloodbath ensued. Every shiliskin in Xill was slain, drained, or dragged back to the drachnid hive to be cocooned for “later.”
The War of Four Crests
The Fall of Xill sparked the War of Four Crests, so named because it eventually involved four armies. With the shiliskin armies assembled and fully aware of the drachnid menace, the shiliskin generals took a much more cautious approach toward the new forces that threatened their home.
For the next hundred years a long series of skirmishes unfolded between the Agents of Dreadspire and the Shiliskin Empire. The werewolves, always eager for war, joined the struggle with the Shadowmane Clan aligning with drachnids under the command of Master Vule the Silent Tear and the Ragepaw Clan moving behind the shiliskin ranks. Even after years of struggle, the conflict yielded no decisive victor.
About twenty-five years into the War of the Four Crests, a charismatic advisor rose to power in Illsalin. This advisor, a crippled sage named Bodrak, spread the belief that the key to defeating the drachnid hordes was to master their own necromantic magic and use it against them. Draygun, the current shiliskin emperor, followed this advice and began a fervent study of necromancy. Shortly after Draygun founded a school dedicated to drachnid necromancy, Bodrak disappeared from Illsalin. Although Bodrak was never seen again, his skin was found draped in a crumpled pile on the shores of Lake Korlach.
Around this time, the Korlach leviathan turned on Illsalin, smashing through the city’s walls and carving a wake of destruction through the city itself. Although it remains unclear why exactly the Korlach leviathan turned on its former masters, many believe that it became angered by the shiliskin priests’ slow gravitation towards the drachnid school of necromancy. Others believe that the creature in the spire may have promised the beast freedom if it turned on its shiliskin captors. And still others believe that the Korlach is simply a force of nature that was never meant to be controlled.
The Fall of Illsalin
As the drachnids spilled over the walls of Illsalin, Draygun turned to the city’s last resort, a powerful artifact known as Shadowspine. Shadowspine was an ancient spell book recovered from a raid on the drachnid hive. The book contained powerful spells and Draygun believed it held the key to turning back the drachnid invasion. Unbeknownst to Draygun however, the book was a twisted entity capable of pulling those who opened it into its pages.
When Draygun opened the book, its power spread throughout the city and cursed Illsalin’s defenders and the drachnids to undeath. Draygun was strong enough to achieve rudimentary control of the book, and he used it to raise himself as a lich and command the other undead throughout the city.
Despite this control, the book is now slowly bending Draygun to its will. With each spell that Draygun casts from Shadowspine, he slides closer and closer to insanity and servitude. For now however, Draygun retains his free will and continues to defend Illsalin against invaders. He lords over the undead city with Shadowspine close by his side.
The surviving shiliskin forces fell back to Malgrinnor, the empire’s last standing fortress in the east of Lake Korlach. Although the shiliskin are far from extinct, their armies are scattered and demoralized to the point that they no longer pose an obstacle to the evil master in the great Dreadspire Keep above the lake.
Werewolves and Norrath
The werewolf has existed in Norrath as long as most other races have, but was found only in Darkhollow for some time. These first feral werewolves, called wurines, credit the Great Wuria with their creation — the mother of all werewolves. She is considered a spirit of the dark wilds and less of a god. She is the provider of the beasts they hunt and feed on and the source of their strengths.
The werewolves learned to grow and survive in the dark and dangerous underground world around them. They have the gift of intelligence, are motivated and social, but not all equal. They are feral creatures with finely honed instincts and survival skills.
For several hundred years, no one on the surface of Norrath had ever seen a werewolf. It wasn’t until an expedition of Qeynosian miners breached the barrier of Darkhollow that the first werewolf was seen and the first human bitten.
The werewolves attacked the foreign expedition party and killed all but three who suffered near lethal bites — Patrim Gallowtrow, Brendin Fardon, and Wendal Meen were their names. They manage to survive the bites and flee to the surface to later become the kinsfolk of the werewolves of Darkhollow, the half-human, half-werewolf breed that transformed under the light of the moon. It was only a matter of days before they all went through the first transformation.
This new breed of werewolf became known as the Clan of the White Fangs. They considered themselves closest in blood to a true werewolf through the father’s bloodlines.
It was Patrim Gallowtrow who bit Sentry Alchin, the friend of Sentry Joanna in Rathe Mountains, who became one of the White Fangs. The White Fangs were arrogant, aristocratic, and were somewhat consumed with their power and gifts.
Later, the generations of White Fangs in Norrath became muddied with mixed blood of the various races of Norrath as they mated in human form. This third breed or tribe of werewolf became known as the Dusk Leapers — the mutts of the werewolves. They lived on the fringes of civilization and often plotted against it to rule over it and their cousins, the White Fangs.
Meanwhile, among the wurines down below, social conflicts that have lasted thousands of years continue unresolved.
As with any intelligent creature with a measure of individuality and the capacity for ideas, the werewolves do not always agree or follow the same path. There are two tribes in Darkhollow:
Created by Matriarch Shyra, the Shadowmanes prefer a more matriarchal social structure. They believe the females have the closest spiritual ties to the Great Wuria and seek the matriarch’s guidance and approval. The Shadowmanes can be characterized as a more spiritual and intellectual clan. While they have a matriarch, there are internal politics that dictate what each member of the clan must accomplish in their commune. They struggle against their innate primal instincts as they have some desire for peace and tranquility, even though they live in such a volatile region. They want to find a balance that allows them some sophistication and spirituality.
They abhor the purely uncivilized animalistic ways of the Ragepaws, finding them base and disgusting.
The Ragepaws believe in the predatory nature of being a wurine and organize themselves by the strength of the alpha male of the group. They shun and hold contempt for any political or high-level social musings that their counterparts have. Their lives are fairly simple — to survive and not allow the Shadowmanes to overcome their ideals or get in the way of their chief philosophy: kill or be killed. They have been led for hundreds of years by the brute strength and will of Bloodeye.
The Norrathian Perspective on Werewolves
When the first werewolves that were created by wurine-bitten humans began to walk the lands of Norrath, new conflicts arose. By day, the werewolf could comfortably walk among humans in human form. At night, they could transform into a fearsome creature, half-human, half-wolf, with an unnatural destructive rage and strength. They prowled the wilds and hunted, killing anything in their path. These werewolves roamed the wilds of the Karanas, the Faydarks, or wherever they felt free.
A few Norrathians, touched by the terror of werewolves, chose to band together to thwart the danger and protect their families. They call themselves the Fangbreakers, a relatively quiet society that spans several generations and reaches far across the lands of Norrath. The Fangbreakers recognize each other quietly and trust very few. For centuries they have protected their organization from being infiltrated by werewolves posing as concerned citizens and they prefer to keep it that way.
Nul Aleswiller has been the leader of the Fangbreakers for 500 years. They were originally employed by the people of the Plains of the Karanas to protect the farms and lands from the threat of werewolf attacks.
Bunu Stoutheart, Fixxin Followig, and Cory Bumbleye can be considered the coleaders of the Fangbreakers, having also lived in the Karanas for hundreds of years, keeping the werewolves at bay.
Wurines’ Conflicts and Civil War
Until Matriarch Shyra claimed to have spoken to the Great Wuria, their great mother, through divination, each pack of wurine lived separately. But this matriarch preached a new way of life — one of spiritual fulfillment, order, and worship to their mother. Many joined together to follow Matriarch Shyra, becoming members of the Shadowmane clan. The feral wurines then banded together and formed the Ragepaw Clan. Soon after, Matriarch Shyra created the Lodge of the Fangs, a rudimentary court for all wurines.
The departure from the old ways incensed the feral wurine, the Ragepaws, and a civil war ensued — The War of the West Tunnels — over philosophy and territory that lasted 20 years, until the wurines accepted that they would never agree, and instead would learn to coexist to survive Darkhollow. Ragepaw Clan elders were added to the Lodge of the Fangs, which made larger rulings and decisions for both clans when necessary.
About 200 years ago, a dark master that threatened the lives of all the wurines offered a grim proposal to Matriarch Shyra. Align with him in his great castle above the lake, or die. In exchange for their loyalty and service, the master would spare the Ragepaws their annihilation as well. There would be benefits to their service — material wealth, comforts, and protection from the shiliskin, sporali and the other elements of Darkhollow.
Shyra took the proposal to the Lodge of the Fangs and they discussed the matter. It wasn’t long before the notion of safe haven and access to surface-world comforts won them over. They agreed. The Lodge of the Fangs summoned the alphas of the Ragepaws and they were told the news of the decision to preserve the wurine race and serve the lord of the keep.
The Ragepaws were chagrinned and refused to exist in servitude in any way to the master whom they believed intended to deceive and exploit the pride and strength of the wurines. This master who never showed his face represented everything that was dark in their world, and they would not succumb. But they would not fight against it out of fear. They remain in the Snarlstone Dens in the West Lake Korlach region.
Today, the Shadowmanes still serve the master, building and guarding his fortress above the waters of Lake Korlach. They accept this duty to preserve and advance their place in the world of Darkhollow. The Ragepaws remain in the darkness and continue to do what they have done for much of their lives — survive and preserve the true feral ways of the wurine.
Genesis of the Sporali
Around 4900, a sentient fungus spore settled into the groundwater through a pool in the Clan Runnyeye goblin lair before it eventually found its way through some cracks into Darkhollow. The spore was greatly affected by the tainted waters of Darkhollow and evolved in strange and fantastic ways to become a sporali. It grew and spread over 200 years until the first sporali colonies were formed. The colonies began to harvest corathus, a strange resource secreted by the corathus worms which they learned had caused the sporali to grow and evolve at an accelerated rate. The shiliskin also harvested corathus and viewed the sporali as a threat to their supplies.
Before the shiliskin could drive the sporali into extinction, the sporali shamans pooled their corathus stocks and fed it to a single spore king. Thus, Antraygus was born. The corathus made Antraygus near invulnerable, and any sporelings he created were also unnaturally resilient. Antraygus and his offspring lead a fierce resistance against the shiliskin raiders who eventually forewent corathus altogether and turned their attention to gathering nargilor, the coral with magical properties that grows below Illsalin. During the Shiliskin-Sporali wars, the sporali bred many plants to use against the shiliskin, including mindspore and retch weed. They still exist today.
Ak’Anon Expedition 328
About a century and half ago, King Ak’Anon sponsored a drill expedition to seek out mithril deep below the Steamfont mines. Unfortunately, Mithril Expedition 328 was fraught with disaster. They were the first to use the great new invention, the Burrownizer, a powerful drill that could dig deep into the earth<, carrying gnomes and clockworks within it. During the expedition, far below the surface the Burrownizer’s rubble-sweeping mechanism jammed, leaving the craft unable to maintain a usable tunnel in its wake. The gnomish engineers soon realized that the only way to go was down, so that’s where the drill expedition went. The gnomes traveled for two and half years at a fifteen-degree downward angle before eventually crashing into Corathus Creep in Darkhollow.
The gnomes calculated that they were somewhere under Antonica, likely beneath the Nektulos forest. Their drill was hopelessly smashed and they had no way to contact the surface. Soon the gnomish scientists began their lives as castaways. One by one, they fell victim to the various hazards of Darkhollow. Those that survived were forced to augment their failing bodies with salvaged clockwork parts until the gnomes were almost completely mechanical. Through the magic of tinkering, most of them managed to retain some of their personality and memory in Fibblebrap gems, named after the gnome that invented them. These gems, placed into the heart of the clockwork, served to keep the gnomes’ souls alive as they waited for word, existing as what they call gnomeworks. But as can happen when toying with tinkering, it wasn’t perfect.
The miners of the Expedition began to show strange behaviors after some time. These miners, called the Creep Reapers, have all but forgotten its gnomish heritage, and have instead focused on mining corathus. Perhaps it was the influence of the corathus mineral, or perhaps it was their willingness to surrender their biological parts so quickly, but the Creep Reapers have adopted a somewhat relentless and remorseless approach to mining. They attack anything that enters their mines and often work themselves to malfunction. The Creep Reapers detest the other survivors of Expedition 328 who have chosen not to help toil in the mines.