Might and Magic II

An account of Corak the Mysterious' unsettling disappearance as told by his apprentice, Gwyndon the Young:

Corak has always held many dire secrets, but recently he had shown signs of being outwardly distressed. This troubled me greatly as what could disturb one so powerful and composed as Corak the Mysterious? Was he not only High Priest as well as being regarded by all as a most accomplished warrior and being the most powerful Archmage other than King Kalohn the Vanquished? He was all that the knowledgeable strive to be and what the ignorant claim to be.

Corak used to tell me stories of different, wondrous worlds with hideous monsters and mighty warriors. He once even mentioned that he came from another world. I thought his stories mere fables or myths meant to entertain me. Little did I know that he spoke the truth and that a problem would arise from this truth that would drive him mad.

One day while I was working on translations of a sorcerous scroll, Corak burst into the library with a harried look on his brow. He told me of an alien criminal from another reality who had escaped into our beloved CRON! Corak then promptly forgot that I was present and proceeded to curse and mumble profusely as he searched through the books for some lost text which contained a gleaming of information which might help him expel the dangerous alien. Being insatiably curious, I attempted to eavesdrop on the conversation he was having with himself. He spoke of CRON being out of alignment with other worlds, of a highly destructive alien being named Sheltem, and of an anointed champion who could realign CRON before a horrific wave of fiery destruction would sweep across and destroy the land.

After his foray in the library, Corak acted quite strangely during the next few days. He would lock himself up in his private study for hours at a time. Frightful noises emanated from behind the locked door and then, suddenly, they would stop. He would emerge changed each time in some subtle fashion. He would enter the study after devouring almost an entire banquet by himself and exit with an appetite as if he had not eaten in days. Other times he would be wan and pale from long hours of intensive research done in the library. He would then go to the study and exit in a few hours with a tan as if he had just returned from Murray's Resort Isle, basking in the sun there for a week.

This weird behavior continued for almost a fortnight. One day, he left his study after an unusually long session and immediately started screaming about the end of the world and how he could not stop it. Amazingly, he was covered in snow and yet it was mid-summer! He then looked about in desperation and withdrew a strange, four-taloned claw which I had never even seen before. Corak then uttered a spell which caused a blinding glow of sheer power to envelope his body. He was terrible to behold, bathed in an eerie shower of what must of been pure ethereal energy, just standing there, exalting in his newfound might.

Seconds later, a clap of thunder shook the building and Corak was gone. I believe that he transported himself away in order to try to stop the mystifying doom which lay upon CRON. Unfortunately, I have my doubts.
Maybe the spell of power was too much for Corak the Mysterious and he brought about his own destruction. I do not know anything for sure. After all, I am now only an apprentice without a master to tell me if I am right or wrong.

A week later, Lord Pinehurst visited and went into Corak's study. The strange, eerie noises started again and Lord Pinehurst was gone. I entered the study and noticed that one of Corak's machines was missing. Next day I received a sealed letter delivered by special courier from Lord Pinehurst. He wrote that he was fine, not to worry and that I should travel to Castle Pinehurst to continue my studies. I go now and hope that this growing chaos in my life will soon end.

History of CRON
This being a synopsis of the histories of CRON as gathered by Corak the Mysterious and found in his study in the Luxus Palace Royale by Gwyndon the Young:

I, Corak, called the Mysterious, have gathered these histories of the world aptly called CRON through personal experiences gained by the use of a magical artifact which allows travel through the very fabric of time itself.

At first, there was only void. Yet, in the nothing something arose. An ethereal substance capable of supporting life came into existence. From the time of this forming shall I, as do all in CRON, reckon time. The shaping of this etherealness took well-nigh one century to occur and develop into recognizable form.

Next, water in vast amounts came from disorder and remained to mix with the ether. Strange beings arose out of this chaotic union. Elemental lords of great power warred for control of the waters. The greatest of these was powerful Acwalandar, mightiest and most majestic of all the Water Kings. Preternatural fierceness combined with uncanny intelligence allowed him to hold unquestionable dominion over all of the other elementals. He reigned supreme for three score and a generation of years, then turmoil erupted.

Potent creatures from an unknown, mystical land charged into CRON with conquest of the brutal Water Lords as their goal. A battle which would last centuries began. Acwalandar and his minions were taken by surprise and the strange beings gained a foothold which they would not release. Puzzlement and fear of the unknown swept through the ranks of the normally stolid water elementals. Who were these warriors who suddenly came from nowhere? They were Spirits of the Air come from afar to expand their empire. Their lord was terrible indeed, a creature of tumultuous air named Shalwend who could call upon tremendous legions of vicious air elementals to blow back the shocked Water Lords. Air fought with Water for over a century, until reaching a level of equilibrium which neither side could change.

Seeking to upset the deadlock and gain the momentum in the war against the air elementals, Acwalandar charged his servitors to create an ultimate weapon. He received much more than he wanted. His vassals summoned forth incredibly powerful creatures of destruction that would remain under the Water Lords total dominance. Fire elementals were issued forth. These hateful monsters sole purpose in life was to destroy, and at destruction their like will never be approached. They sucked the life out of the Air Spirits without mercy, forcing them to endure a slow, consuming burn until there was nothing left. However, the Fire Lords were few in number and could not totally destroy the Masters of the Wind.

The leader of the burning horde, Pyrannaste, Master of Flame, disliked the iron-fisted rule of Acwalandar and the Water Lords. Any hesitation of a fire elemental in carrying out an order issued by a Water Lord would result in extinguishment. Pyrannaste waited, for he was patient, and even though he and his vassals chafed under the rule of the water elementals they hated Shalwend and the air elementals even more.

Eighty years of servitude and war passed for the Fire Lords until Pyrannaste deemed the time proper for rebellion against Acwalandar. Wanting only to escape servitude while still being able to crush the ranks of the despised Shalwend, the Master of Flame attempted to break away peacefully from the air elementals. At first they succeeded, but resentment and overconfidence built up in the Legions of Water, Are not the fire elementals our servants, brought forth by us to serve our Heeds? Can we not crush them as we crushed the Masters of the Winds? This the armies of Acwalandar thought, forgetting that the might of the air horde must be fought once again without aid. Also forgetting that in order to extinguish a fire elemental, a Water Lord loses much of himself in the struggle that ensues.

Shrewd Acwalandar realized that the Water Lords could not hope to end victorious in a war against both the air and the fire elementals. However, his counsel fell upon deaf ears. What good is the voice of reason to an angry mob? For fifty years Water fought Air and Fire, Fire fought Water and Air, and Air fought Fire and Water. Battles were bloodthirsty; and allies were nonexistent. CRON had transformed into a chaotic battlefield with no one group able to assert itself over the others.

And then came disaster. From places vaguely rumored to exist came the most fearsome creatures yet. Emperors of Earth they called themselves. They were led by Gralkor the Cruel. In one fell stroke they invaded CRON and caused the petty struggles between Water, Air, and Fire to come to an utter halt. Ancient enemies were forced to unite for survival against the new, common enemy. At first, the earth elementals appeared invulnerable. Eighty years and innumerable battles later, a method was found to stop them. Acwalandar and the Water Lords would soak the earth elementals with a flood of water. Then, Pyrannaste and the Fire Lords would bake the dissipated creatures into dry silt. Finally, Shalwend and the Air Spirits would lift the silt into the sky and spread all of the particles across the world, leaving the earth elemental utterly eradicated.

Alas, the effort by the three elemental tribes was too late to stop Gralkor the Cruel and the Emperors of Earth. They had pooled together and formed a giant mass of earthen matter which floated upon water, was immune to fire, and which would not scatter as leaves upon the wind. For twenty more years the elementals attempted to overcome the earthen landmass of Gralkor the Cruel. They failed miserably and the Emperors of Earth assumed command of what would become CRON.

By the year 500, Gralkor and the earth elementals were busily constructing a fixed land area with the toil of their slaves. For almost one hundred years all of the elementals, Water, Air, Fire, and Earth, struggled to perfect the landmass. What they tame up with is what we know as the physical land of CRON.

Rumor of CRON spread to other worlds somehow and an inexorable flow, of what were to the elementals, small, pitiful creatures began to populate the world of Gralkor in the seventh century. The creatures were of many different humanoid types, but they all had basic similarities and resistances which enabled them to survive in CRON. Water beaded off them, air swirled past them, fire did burn them, but only under extremes, and mighty earth they trod upon. The humanoids were able to extract properties from each of the four element's features and use it for their own benefit. But perhaps most important of all, they could weave magic. At first, there were few of these pathetic creatures, but they multiplied rapidly and spread across the landmass. The humanoids strengthened after years of toil and pain. Ambitions grew and they attempted to make CRON their own. This aroused the attention of Gralkor the Cruel and forced him into action.

Unfortunately for the elementals, Gralkor acted too late. The humanoids had been in CRON for over seventy years and had acclimated themselves to all the difficulties which the elementals could produce. They had weapons and spells which could immobilize all but the most powerful elemental lords.
Gralkor did not realize this and made a most fatal error, he attacked. He marshaled his forces for the obliteration of the feeble humanoids. The humanoids knew what to expect and lay a trap for the elemental forces.

All of the most powerful spell-casters gathered on the isle of the Ancients and combined their efforts to create an orb of power. This orb had a mystic receptacle, a four taloned claw. There was a talon for each elemental force, and alone that talon could control the elemental creatures it represented. The four talons could be combined to form a holder for the orb. This formed a weapon of incomparable power which could guarantee the complete submission or destruction of any and all elemental creatures. Many tests were made in order to perfect this weapon. Gross mutilations and horrible deaths were the results of most of these. In the latter part of the eighth century there was a human male weak in magic but strong in courage named Kalohn who tested the orb and survived unmolested. Many humanoids died before this because of Gralkor’s attack and the testing of the orb. Kalohn resolved to end it all immediately.

He went to the tallest mountain in all of CRON alone. He then challenged the four elemental lords to do battle. Much damage to the land followed, including the transformation of the mountain into the crater we know as The Dead Zone. Kalohn, armed with the orange, glowing orb emerged victorious and then banished each of the four elemental tribes to a separate corner of CRON and formed barriers to keep them imprisoned. Within each elemental zone he placed the corresponding talon of the mighty claw in the order of the elementals' appearance, water, air, fire, and earth. He kept the orb for himself.

With the elemental forces banished from direct interaction with the humanoids of CRON, civilization evolved and everyone prospered. Kalohn gained much magic power due to his battle with the elementals and his frequent use of the orb. He became King Kalohn the Conjurer and ruled wisely for thirty or more years. Peace spread throughout the land. Education began of the young and living conditions improved. Communities formed and trade developed. People were happy and content.

Then in the mid ninth century, the elementals struck back. Unable to physically enter CRON and maddened at the elementals' defeat at the hands of a single, puny human, Acwalandar studied that which defeated him, magic. He had a great aptitude for sorcery and learned quickly by studying the humanoids who ventured near his realm. He gained particular skill in forming and summoning. Using this skill, Acwalandar formed a fell creature of enormous girth and power. He filled it with life from many of his followers and endowed it with the most fearsome of weapons known to him, fire. He had created the first dragon, a creature of mindless destruction and incredible strength. This dragon was formed just outside of the water barrier and left Acwalandar with the intent to destroy Kalohn and then CRON.

King Kalohn the Conjurer sensed the dragon's creation and the threat it posed. He sought it out to vanquish it and quell the elemental lords forever. He met the dark creature in the beautiful Savannah of Plenty. Unfortunately, mighty as he was, Kalohn had only the power of the now faintly glowing orb with him and perished after a disappointingly quick battle. The dragon breathed barrels of flame and engulfed Kalohn entirely, consuming him in a bath of fiery death. Kalohn had attempted to cast a spell which would form a shield of water to protect himself, but the spell was changed as a last minute surge of power from the orb went through Kalohn's body and caused a flood to ravage the Savannah. For all the might of the dragon, he could not fly without wings and was too heavy to swim. He died a slow death, powerless against the natural habitat of his master.

Aftereffects of the battle were numerous and disastrous. The Savannah of Plenty was destroyed and became the Quagmire of Doom, an area of great evil. However, it is rumored that the orb still exists somewhere in the
Quagmire, though no one has ever found it. Dragons entered CRON through once closed corridors and wreaked havoc among the populace. Princess Lamanda, Kalohn's daughter, assumed a tentative command of the land. All of these factors led to regression and the ultimate downfall of the level of civilization which had been achieved.

Now it is the tenth century and chaos reigns. Swords and sorcery have replaced law and order as the way of life. Monsters roam the lands of CRON freely and do as they please. Isolated areas hold out against barbarism, but are doomed to fall. All that remains of CRON's glorious past are old wives' tales of mighty warriors and wizards doing battle against evil hordes and of a tragic lord, King Kalohn the Vanquished.