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Omen of the Old Ones

by LoZompatore from Threshold Magazine issue 19

When the Immortals themselves are found lacking

[Image: Title]

The Hidden Implications of the Message to the Immortals

Prologue : Mound of the Sleeping Stones, Greate Olde Woode, Night of the Seventh Full Moon of AC 1015

The three owl-like figures made a final circle around the clearing in the middle of the menhirs, inspecting the landscape at the light of the full moon. The three - hsiaos1 as they were called by their people - cautiously perched on a group of stones at a distance from the white glowing silhouette of their patron, the revered Immortal Noumena.

"All the offerings are duly placed on the altars, my Lady. None was spoiled or removed since the last moon" spoke Pemca Sharp-Talon, the oldest of the trio.

"Master of knowledge, Sheafeash reports that no intelligent being managed to pass beyond the ring of agaraks in the last day, the Sleeping Stones are free of unwanted interference. Lycanthropes, especially, are kept at bay." added Kyck-kyck Ulfur, the only male of the group

"Enlightenment of mortals, the moon is close to its zenith, the summoning ritual will show its effect in minutes. Our mere souls are ready to assist you and follow your commands to the best of our powers" concluded Japalak Keen-eye, universally known as the wisest of her race at that time.

Noumena could not stop an interior smile at this show of zeal from her assistants. She already knew by herself all the information they provided but she thought that giving the hsiaos something to do would placate them enough to avoid them being overwhelmed by the extraordinary events that soon were going to happen in the clearing.

"You did well, my loyal disciples" she spoke, "Great eldritch forces are going to be unleashed by the offerings when the celestial alignment is reached. For your own safety I urge you to move to the ruined stones I marked at the edge of the menhirs. They belong to a faded power, she will not show up at this meeting but the residual magic she imbued on the rocks will protect you from harm. From there look and remember the most you can about this night, for I chose you to be my witnesses in the mortal world. Remember and learn, this is all I ask you. Go, now."

The three intelligent owls lowered their heads in respect for their Immortal tutor and hastily flew to their shelter close to the forest's edge.

[Image: Hsiao in Flight]

Suddenly a green luminosity shone on the clearing.

The moon was at the right place at the right time. Bathed in the green light seemingly coming from Matera, a menhir close to the center swiftly melted and dissolved into a humanoid shape, followed by another and another.

In a few minutes the light dissolved as the luminosity seemed to coalesce into the forming figures. In the end twelve pillars of stone were turned into as many silhouettes of different shapes and sizes, all of them glowing of the same green light emanated from the moon.

The Ancients Gather

To the awed hsiaos they seemed composed of the same substance of the white figure of Noumena standing in the middle of the group, although they subconsciously perceived subtle and fundamental differences in their texture. The three owls were almost overwhelmed by the eerie power emanating from the gathering, only the arcane protection of the stones they were on prevented them from fleeing in terror, their famed rationality smothered by survival instinct.

"Twelve answered to my call" thought Noumena, "out of the twenty I tried to summon. Three of them even come from the numbers of the Fallen2. Such an assembly has been unheard of for eons."

"Who are you, o Immortal, who look for the advice of the Ancients?" asked the green figure closest to Noumena. He looked like a halfling-sized pixie and he looked surprised to see how many of his kind were evoked with him.

"Well, I guess it is time to start formal pleasantries," thought Noumena, then spoke "Greetings to you, Lady Pixie, and to all of you Lords and Ladies, primal essences of the Good People. I asked your consciences to form anew on this Night of the Green Moon for the Children of Life3 humbly need your wisdom. Reality has been touched by an Emissary of the Old Ones and, after many mistakes, we do not know what to do."

[Image: Imp of the Gardens]

"Our consciences perceived this mighty intervention even in our fragmented conditions, and that's why so many of us are here this night." The speaker was the perfect example of a hedonistic garden imp, with beautiful flowers growing in his hair and a small swarm of buzzing insects flying around him. One of the Ancients who fell to the Sphere of Entropy in the ages since his dispersion in the world of mortals spoke next. "I guess many of my comrades would have shown up anyway, even without your lavish gifts to lure them", he smiled. "We know you, Noumena, you are old even for your race and you are accustomed to be obeyed by mortals and Immortals alike. Such a humble introduction on your part is ... amusing, at best."

The two fallen brothers of the Imp, whose emanations inhabited the woods and the bogs of Mystara, guffawed at this sarcastic comment. The others were not so disrespectful but more than a few gave Noumena a sardonic smile.

"Strange to say but I have to agree with the Imp of the Gardens." The speaker was indeed the embodiment of Leprechauns, "all the turmoil you Younglings caused in the mortal world in the last decades was obvious even to the dullest fauns. I guess you decided to sink a whole continent under the waves and create it anew under the red sun4 for a perfectly reasonable cause, am I right? Even if I must admit that this free ride was quite an interesting experience for my kin in Alphatia."

"Please calm down, mates, there will be plenty of time for charges on the Children of Life in case they misstepped!" intervened the diminutive shape of a nixie, "Immortal Lady, I perceive you did not come here light-heartedly and I guess you have a story to tell us. We like stories and we will listen to your’s."

"I thank you for your compassion, kind Lady Nixie" - replied Noumena - "but I beg you not to chastise your fellow Imps, nor the Leprechaun. I admire intellectual honesty, whatever the source, and their mockery is rightly addressed. My story is a sad and troubled one, and when I'm done with it a harsh judgment by the Good People is expected, for we Immortals of Life were severely wrong in our actions. That's why I'm here, the Immortals need any possible form of help - even from the mortals - as we are not able to handle the current situation."

The Appearance of the Omen

"Seventy years ago5 the Immortals of Mystara received a message from an extremely powerful being, perhaps an emissary of the Old One. At first we did not recognize the message as such, as it was rather an eldritch menace to the foundations of magic of this world. It took the shape of a giant eye lurking in the middle of a maelstrom which formed in the Dimensional Vortex.

“Immediately our kin started studying the phenomenon. Explorers from the Sphere of Energy noted that the ripples and waves emitted by the maelstrom interacted with the fundamental weaving of magic of Mystara, causing disruption and dissolution of power. Entropy confirmed the waves were increasing their destructive potential over time, and those of Time estimated that there was exactly one Mystaran year left6 to intervene before the fabric of magic would be unravelled by the maelstrom’s waves. Explorers from the Sphere of Matter established the maelstrom extended up to half of the distance to the nearest stars, then faded away.

“The center of the maelstrom - the lurking humanoid eye - was apparently centered on Mystara and moved with it along its orbit around the sun. The Immortals of Thought easily deduced that the menace was specific to Mystara and of a size that was beyond any known mortal or Immortal power to create. Given the fact that it originated at the Dimensional Vortex the most accepted explanation was that it was a sign of the Old Ones.

“The Eye in the Storm, or the Omen - as it was called in Pandius7 - was widely believed to represent a test for our kin. Solve it, and remove the menace to Mystara, or face relocation to some other place of the Prime Plane.

“Now, after so many decades, it is clear that the test was very different from what we originally thought, something far more subtle and way easier to solve if we Immortals were in the right attitude. But we weren’t, our pride blinded us, and that’s how many things went horribly wrong.”

“Pride is a common emotion the Good People exploit to show mortals their weaknesses, you know it.” A flying humanoid figure, taller than a man, interrupted Noumena’s narration. The silhouette was quite different from the flitterlings it was made of when it dispersed. “It is also a well known fact that the greater the power the prouder the subject. Immortals, and hierarchs among them, are no exception to this rule. You said that you Immortals were prideful and I believe it, but now I see just one hierarch in front of me humbly telling an embarrassing story about how foolish she was. Before you carry on with your story, may I ask where are your comrades of the other Spheres?”

“This is precisely part of the problem, Lord Flitterling” replied Noumena. “Even now most of them are not aware that we are going to fail the test of the Old Ones, maybe this test has already failed, they believe the events of the last decades are just part of the wrong way of life, or they are due to the machinations of Entropy. Most among my kin still do not believe their very actions are wrong; the same philosophy of my own Sphere of Thought, for example, while good in itself, was the cause of a great unbalance in this part of the Prime Plane.

“Many changes were forced on the Immortals’ society by the events since the arrival of the Omen but I fear they are not enough. I am here even on behalf of those who still do not realize we need as much help as possible.”

“Very well, Noumena, you can carry on,” said Flitterling. “Would you mind resuming by explaining the role of your Sphere in the unbalance of the Multiverse you perceive?”

Unbalances among the Spheres of Power

“It is very simple, Lord Flitterling, it just is a matter of numbers.

“In the last millennium the Sphere of Thought produced more Immortals than the sum of the other Spheres combined. Worst of all, we were so effective in opposing the sponsorship of candidates of Entropy that none of them ascended to Immortal status in the same time frame. Other Spheres had their own unbalances - most notably the Sphere of Matter was nearly as successful as the Sphere of Thought, but the dynamic between Thought and Entropy was the main cause of the unbalance.

“While the Entropics whined and complained in Pandius most of the Immortals of the four Spheres of Life put token assurances that the balance would be restored, but they secretly rejoiced about the situation. Less Entropics to disrupt their own projects would mean only more time to fully develop them and more glory to their own cause, so they thought.

“And this presumptuous attitude was the cause of the tragedy, as always happens in all tragedies” observed the unmistakable silhouette of a medium-sized, polished demi-human which was the epitome of a pooka.

“Precisely, Lord Pooka, but this was not the only factor leading to the current situations,” replied Noumena. ”I believe that we Immortals possibly made a great mistake when we imported the war of the Old Alphatians to Mystara. When we let the Nithians house the Followers of the Air and the dissidents of the Flame - and, later, when we allowed the Flaems, just freed from the tyranny of the Overlord8, to stay on Mystara and settle above the very source of the Radiance - well, I guess we exercised poor judgment, to say the least.

“We thought all these people would relinquish their mutual hatred given a whole barbaric planet for them to colonize. We needed cultured people for our projects and we believed the rate of recovery of civilization after the Great Rain of Fire was too slow, that is why we sponsored so much open migration from Old Alphatia.

“And when the first centuries passed and we faced the obvious fact that the infighting among the descendants of the Old Alphatians would continue, we let it continue unabated, believing that some elements of conflict would foster a larger number of candidates to Immortality.

“But in the end it was quite the opposite. Most promising candidates were killed in the many wars among Alphatians and Thyatians, or ended up assassinated while involved in the convoluted scheming conceived by the ruling class of the two empires and of the Glantrians. Huge amounts of resources, and scores over scores were devoured by the enmity among the descendants of Old Alphatia. This stalled the creation of new Immortals for a whole millennium. And that’s why I believe the Old Ones decided to intervene.

“Like a landowner giving a scolding to some lazy farmers, am I right?” continued Pooka. “You rascal young Immortals!” The remark had a merry tone but the eyes of Lord Pooka were fixed on Noumena, a hint of sorrow veiling his glance. Noumena realized he really felt sorry for the course of events she was unveiling to him.

“It might be, Lord Pooka, but the Old Ones also provided us with a set of warnings and advices on how to return on the right path. Let me delve into detail about this and you’ll realize the true reach of the message they sent us.

First investigations of the Omen: the storm settles

“Shortly after the first screenings by our explorers we believed it was time for action. We assembled in Pandius a team of hierarchs composed of a representative for each Sphere, the so called Council of Intrusion9. I was part of it.

“We reached the Barrier and tried to banish the storm, to no avail. We tried to talk with the lurking Eye, but it stayed mute. Ixion10 himself was a member of our team, and noted that each time power was used against the Eye, the swirling, gray, foggy storm surrounding it increased in speed, as if the magical energy we spent was used to power the maelstrom and accelerate its growth11. We could not hope to dispel it by force. So, while the others departed looking for a solution, I stayed back and watched over the Eye.

”And then, after much meditation over the swirling clouds of the maelstrom, I noticed a pattern, a message that it was possible to decipher. And so we got some clues on how to stop the growing storm. We had to collect the essences of the five senses and throw them as a whole back to the maelstrom. These essences were to be collected by the least powerful of our kin, the most innocent ones. Those who still did not stain their hands with powerplay going behind the backs of mortas.

“We felt secure, proud in thwarting this menace to the Multiverse. We chose a group of five novices12, one for each Sphere, to complete the business. We even gave them a name ‘the Seekers of the Essence13’, to fill them with a purpose. When the novice Immortals we selected succeeded in bringing back the five essences we swiftly assembled them in a suitable support spear and then we fought among ourselves for the dubious privilege to be the one to throw the spear into the Eye and dispel the storm once for all. We decided the best course of action would be a fight among the young Immortals who served us so well: they were deposited in the Immortal Olympic Arena - the damned Olympic Arena - for a fight to the death of their current physical form; the winner, the last one to stand, would grant his own hierarch the right to throw the spear at the Eye, the young Immortal becoming his helper for the task to come.

The eldritch audience stood silent but, their faces showed a mix of disbelief, sarcasm and disgust at the words of Noumena.

“How foolish we were. How presumptuous. How short-sighted. The Eye itself tried to warn us that this was not the correct way to do the thing, that we had to cooperate and act together. It sent creatures of the Vortex right at the chosen hierarch and its helper, with the obvious intent of driving the other hierarchs to the rescue, of forming back a group. The other hierarchs, instead, stood still, enjoying the show from a safe place.

“And then the storm was undone, but not entirely dispelled. Its nucleus still lurks in the Vortex dimension, quiescent albeit malevolent. You can check by yourselves, if you do not believe my words.”

“Your job is still not done, this is quite clear, my darling, even to a mind less bright than your’s. I even know some simpletons that could have realized this themselves!” the mocking tone came from the Wood Imp, which so far listened in silence to Noumena’s speech.

“And, for Chaos’ sake, why in recent times you Younglings became so obsessed with these Olympic challenges? I know you even established Olympic tournaments in order to earn a promotion to a higher status. That’s because some smart being of yours established that only a fixed number of Immortals of a given rank must exist at the same time on Mystara. That’s utter nonsense! The very essence of Immortal service is to encourage mortal life to become new worthy Immortals! All to increase our numbers! How could you possibly become so blind?”

“Both of you are right, esteemed Lady Pixie and eminent Lord Imp of the Woods” resumed Noumena, trying with some effort to show the due respect to both the old Immortals notwithstanding their lack of diplomacy, “the Omen is still here and we failed to correctly decipher the entirety of its message. There is more as I will tell you in a moment.

“About the Olympics, well, they were recently abolished following pressure from different groups of Immortals, after the unwanted consequences of our misunderstanding of the Omen became well apparent. Right now, Olympic challenge is no longer required to advance in the ranks of Immortality.”

The Delta of Time is changed

“Well, at least it seems that you Younglings are still able to learn from your mistakes - at least in part. And that’s the only reason why I’m still here to listen to the rest of your story, my dear” concluded the Wood Imp. “Please, continue: I’m eager to know about your subsequent failures.”

“Very well, Imp,” this time Noumena purposely omitted the honorific title of her speaker. “From a retrospective analysis of the Omen it is now clear that those who sent it pointed out the importance of collaboration of the five Spheres and of the neglected spiritual force that lays in the less powerful beings, mortals or Immortals as well. The Omens requested five essences which were based on the five primary senses of mortals. As the senses of a mortal being work together to perceive reality so the Spheres should work together to understand the Multiverse and the Old Ones, that was the spirit of the message.

“Cooperation among beings belonging to the same Sphere was also necessary as, in order to collect the essences the help of some specific creature was needed. But in the message there was even more.

“Somehow the storm in the Vortex altered the expected course of history, as all the Immortals of Time soon discovered. Their screenings in the Delta of Future14 abruptly showed totally different results since the appearing of the Eye. Most divinations reported of a large war between the Known World and Alphatia, triggered by Immortals' meddling in mortal affairs.

“Most of the time the conflict was triggered by the ownership of Norwold between Thyatis and Alphatia, or by a rebellion of the Alphatian island kingdom of Qeodhar, or by the Alphatian discovery of the Radiance in Glantri. All these triggers brought terrible consequences if left unattended.

“Sometimes this war lasted for decades, destroying everything on its path and draining most nations of the world of all their resources. Other paths showed the fall of one of the two empires, usually in a catastrophic way involving much bloodshed. Very few among the possible future paths led to a peaceful resolution of the conflict and renewed cooperation among Immortals.

“It was not clear how to divert the course of history in order to reach the less catastrophic endings, as some pivotal points of the possible futures were impossible to scry, most likely due to the disturbance generated by the Eye itself.

“Now it is clear that the other deciphered parts of the Omen were the key to avoid the worst scenarios, but we did not realize it until much, much later. At that time the Sphere of Time believed this radical change to the course of future history was nothing but an illusion cast by the Eye on the Delta of Time to frustrate any screening of future events which could show the way to dispel the storm in the Vortex.

“And so our main concern was to stop the storm. When the storm was stopped and the visions from the future did not change, our main concern became to find a way to dispel the lurking eye, which did not disappear together with the clouds.”

“I cannot believe that a whole city of Immortals just stayed idle, passively watching the dull actions of a group of hierarchs, without even attempting a different strategy to interpret the message of the Old Ones!” shouted the silhouette of a Shargugh, his thundering voice totally unfitting of her diminutive shape.

“You are right, Lord Shargugh” answered the unperturbed Noumena. “Many Immortals and groups of Immortals pursued their own attempt to understand the Omen. The most prominent of such attempts ended in utter failure.

The Olympians Clique of Taroyas

“Taroyas, an Immortal of human origin, created his own clique15 with six of the youngest human Immortals - in total more than half of those raised from this race in the last millennium - and persuaded them that they should abandon the usual way of indirect influence over mortals16.

“Such attitude - he argued - was the cause of the constant infighting among mortal countries and people because of the underground scheming of the Immortals. This was what the Old Ones resented. And they showed a way to overcome it: during the mission to retrieve the five essences the Immortal society came across a mortal world where magic did not work and technology was prominent. Nevertheless the inhabitants of this society felt the need to believe in superior entities, beings that they called ‘gods’, and they gave names to them - names like Zeus, Athena, Ares, Apollo, and so on - even if such entities were not real and did not provide any benefits to them and to their world without magic.

“So - Taroyas continued - this was the definitive demonstration that mortals throughout the Multiverse desperately asked for a guide. It was the Immortals’ moral duty to take an active role over people and countries and lead them to a better tomorrow.

“Moreover - he concluded - the Old Ones just showed themselves up, breaking their own oath of non-intervention in the world of Immortals. They sent a message to guide the Immortals. So why can the Immortals not do the same for mortal people?

“And so the Immortals of the clique of Taroyas took the name and the shape of the ‘gods’ of this faraway world. They showed up to mortals in southeastern Brun and created their own home there, raising a mountain they called Olympus, from which they demanded worship and tribute.”

Noumena swiftly carried on before the dismayed audience could comment on the foolish behaviour of the Olympians. “And then things very quickly went horribly wrong. The mortal rulers of neighbouring nations - the Republic of Darokin and the humanoid clans of the Broken Lands17 - did not accept such a tyranny from the Immortals and sent armies to dislodge them from the mountain. Obviously it was a massacre of mortal life.

“Then the other Immortals intervened. The Sphere of Entropy was the quickest. A clique of Immortals calling themselves the Promethean Tormentors, for the mythological figure once punished by those gods18, imprisoned the seven rogues. As I told you before, Entropy is striving for enlarging the number of its Immortals. Night, at that time the ruler of this Sphere, thought that this was a good opportunity to promote seven new Immortal candidates. As the Olympians would be surely stripped of most of their powers - she thought - why not slay them utterly on the Prime Plane?

“I see from your faces you believe this is pure nonsense. But you have to understand that, at that time, the rules for advancement through Immortal ranks had become so strict and bureaucratic that those in charge at the Sphere of Entropy became somewhat paranoid and were desperate to change things. There was a strong feeling that the pyramid of the Immortal society was becoming static and soon it will not accept any more candidates. That’s why Night thought that the physical elimination of the Immortal of the other Spheres could pave the way to the success of her own. Night even managed to persuade other powerful Entropics like Orcus and Masauwu to help her in her project.

“Anyway, the other Spheres took notice of the behaviour of Night and a rescue party - aptly named the Wolves of Tartarus19 - was sent to free the Olympians from their cage. There the Wolves were challenged by Entropics Talitha, Brissard and other lesser Immortals in front of the mortal audience of nearby settlements. A duel with mortal identities ensued and the Wolves prevailed. The following actions on the top of Mount Olympus saw the liberation of the imprisoned Immortals and the total destruction of the mountain.

“In the end both Night, her servants and the Olympians were stripped of a large amount of their power, but no Immortal was killed. The power removed from the Immortals was used to restore the damage done by the Olympians to the Prime Plane and to greatly reduce their mortal followers by wiping from their memories any information about the seven immortals. And so the humans of Mystara lost some of their churches - some of them were well-established and centuries old - but the reduction of the followers’ base was the most direct way to punish the rogue Immortals.

“Another consequence of these facts - together with a struggle of power for dominance in the Sphere of Entropy - was the abolishment of the competitions for advancement among Immortal ranks, as this was the main cause for such misdeeds by the ruler of a Sphere of Power.”

The tragedy of Draconic Immortals20

“And maybe, fair Noumena, these were the only correct measures you hierarchs took so far in this story. On all this matter I agree with Entropy: there is a real possibility that the Immortal society on Mystara has become too rigid and too much dependent on the whims of the hierarchs and patrons - much like a stratified, paternalistic feudal caste system.” The speaker had a human-size draconic body, without arms; Noumena knew he was the essence of mandrakes, one of a few of the dragons who decided to join the ranks of the Immortals during the Age of Chaos; his brothers and sisters21 did not show up to this meeting.

“You should be more open to new members, accepting them irrespective of their origins” continued Lord Mandrake “the Multiverse is so vast that there is not a single way to achieve Immortality, nor will there ever be. We drakes appreciated so much the enlisting of four draconic Immortals in the last millennia, we thought it was a sign of an open-minded attitude by you Younglings. What happened since then?

“I’m sorry to disagree with you, Mandrake” said the unmistakable, bright tiny shape of Lady Sprite. “You drakes already strained the rules of the Multiverse when you decided to ascend to Immortality eons ago during the Age of Chaos. But you were somewhat a blend of dragons and other races. The four dragons who decided to join the ranks of the Younglings are almost of pure blood. The current Great One has undertaken an extremely risky endeavour by diverting three of the most powerful dragons of Mystara from their rightful path of Sublimation22 and have them become the new Dragon Rulers by following the same rules of the other Immortals. Dragons are different from us, they are one of the forces of the Multiverse, I feel they should not be forced to follow ”

“These were difficult times, you know, Sprite the Merry.” replied Lord Mandrake “The previous Great One and its Dragon Rulers were banished from Mystara and from their Home Planes23 by the Blackmoorians during that terrible mistake called the War of the Dragonlord24. No-one exactly know their fate. Consider a fortune that after the War there were enough dragons left on Mystara that at least one managed to ascend again and become the new Great One. And it is only thanks to Terra, an Immortal of Life, if now the Mystaran dragons have something greater to aspire to.”

“Terra alone managed to sponsor the dragon candidate and create a suitable ceremony to grant him access to the rank of Immortality. As the original dragon Sublimation procedure was lost she was forced to shape her ceremony in the likeness of the one used for the Immortals of Life, there was no choice on this. And the current Great One did the same for his three Dragon Rulers”

“I concur on this, Mandrake, but don’t you feel there is something inherently wrong in this procedure?” objected Lady Sprite “Dragons should not fill the ranks of the Younglings, they are not made for this. And the Younglings should have stopped the Dragonlord and his Blackmoorish retinue before they became too powerful and their hubris led them to challenge and exterminate the dragons of Mystara.”

“I feel that the Old Ones sent us their Omen also because of this. One of the three pillars of the Multiverse25 was severely unbalanced by the Dragonlord millennia ago and its consequences are still unbalancing this part of the Multiverse.” concluded Lady Sprite, with an unusually bitter voice given her easygoing attitude.

“I must humbly admit that the fate of the dragons of Mystara, mortals and Immortals alike, is not for us to understand.” stepped in Noumena “I agree with Lady Sprite, terrible mistakes were made at the time of the War of the Dragonlord. No mortal should ever be granted such an unlimited amount of power anymore. But Lord Mandrake is also right: once the damage was done one of our kin did the best she could to preserve the potential of the dragons of Mystara to reach Immortality. Whether this is not the original Immortal form, nor the original process conceived for the dragons is out of doubt, but this was the best that it could be done.”

“If the Old Ones sent the Omens to chastise us for our misdeeds against the dragons then, in their wisdom, they should also have considered our subsequent partial atonement for this. So their message should not be a sentence without hope. I still believe that there is something that we Immortals could do to reinstate the correct balance of the Multiverse.” concluded Noumena, although her words appeared much more certain than the doubtful tone of her voice.

“Sorry for this digression, Lady Noumena” said Mandrake, “Dragons are intelligent and capable beings enough to find their own way in the Multiverse, if they wish so. Please, continue your story, I feel you are close to the key point of your narration, am I right?”

“Almost close, Lord Mandrake” answered Noumena “and I see the right alignment of the celestial spheres is fading. I do not want to end this meeting before you know all the information you need to take the decision I’ll ask you in the end.”

The puzzle of the Planar Charm26

“The Eye made another move some 45 years after its appearance. After the events of the Seekers of the Essence we in Pandius organized a watch over the remnant of the storm in the Vortex dimension. As the Eye looked harmless and inactive we did not see the point to establish a large group of sentinels in such a forbidding place, so we sent just a single Immortal at a time for a tour of duty of four months, selected on a rotation basis among the five Spheres.

“After the abatement of the storm and the end of the Olympians crisis we felt secure that we had plenty of time to remove the Eye from the Vortex. Moreover, the echo of any possible phenomena produced by the rest of the Omen would be so weird and distinctive that the appointed sentry would not be able to mask them or produce false reports of what it witnessed. No Immortal watcher ever reported any sign of strange behaviour from the Eye for decades, so our assumptions seemed based on solid foundations.

“Or, at least, this was what we foolishly believed. As we discovered later, around AC 991 the Eye emanated in the Vortex its own token27. It was a small, ordinary, charm, of the kind you would include in a necklace to embellish yourself. It did not even look precious or finely crafted, but it actually was a magical object of wicked intricacy, as we reenacted later.

“It was nothing more than a common object in the hand of an Immortal, its powers impossible to summon by a being of exalted status or more. But when in mortal hands things changed considerably. The charm was conceived to passively drain magical power in order to make its mortal owner completely invisible to Immortal scrying. Only when the other powers of this diminutive artifact were used then the owner returned briefly visible to Immortals eyes but, usually, there was not enough warning for an effective Immortal intervention.

“Moreover, the use of these additional powers caused a drain of magical energy from established Immortal projects, specifically of the Immortals who were most likely to detect the owner at that given time. The ensuing havoc was more than enough to distract the watching Immortals and let the owner flee undetected.

“This scourge from the Vortex was the so-called Planar Charm, as we called it.

“This token appeared when Atzanteotl was the appointed Immortal for the watch duty. Now we believe this was not a coincidence, for the Eye chose to send its gift to the Multiverse when an Entropic Immortal most learned in magic was attentive and alone. An Immortal who could swiftly understand the powers of the Planar Charm and how to use it.

“Needles to say, Atzanteotl concealed the Planar Charm and sent it undetected to Mystara at the end of his tour of duty. He worked together with Thanatos, and Loki in a group they named the Warmongering Triad. They tricked a powerful, greedy Alphatian mage of Blackheart - a member of the Council named Reddican - into believing that the Planar Charm could be used to get unlimited magical power by stealing it from his colleagues and rivals, undetected.

“Within a couple of years Reddican established his own secret gang of deluded lesser arch-mages of Blackheart, who he tricked with promises of power-sharing and mutual magical growth, but who actually were nothing but his victims to parasitize. The powers of the Planar Charm hide Reddican’s actions from the eyes of the Immortals until it was too late. At that time Reddican’s clique was believed nothing more than a new weird cult of magic-users, one among the many harmless, eccentric philosophies dotting the land of Alphatia.

“And then the lesser arch-mages discovered the drop in their own powers. Even without hard evidence if was easy to infer the hand of their leader in the scam, and so a mighty battle of magic suddenly erupted in Reddican’s own Castle Qain. The battle was so fierce to attract the attention of many Immortals, and there the actions of Atzanteotl and Thanatos were unveiled. In a few hours a dozen of the most powerful and reclusive mages of Alphatia28, Reddican included, were dead. Ten people in the Alphatian Council who, at the right time, would likely have voted against Norwold colonization and military intervention outside the borders of the Empire, mages who could have influenced others to do the same, were among the victims.

“The whole matter was nothing but another small step toward the final conflict among mortals but it also showed us that the Omen was willing to take an active part on Mystara. With some hindsight it is clear that the Planar Charm is an artifact meant to avoid the total control of mortals by the Immortals. At any time there will always be at least one mortal who will defy Immortals’ plots and scheming, someone who will be empowered to damage the Immortals themselves in their projects should they get too close to him. We believe it was first given to an Immortal of Entropy as the Entropics would surely not hide this token in some remote External Plane, but instead they would have unleashed it on Mystara to further chaos and havoc in the world.

“Some in Pandius look at the Planar Charm as the ultimate instrument to insure the free will of mortals. Some Immortals are even coming to appreciate it and wish to protect its owner from Immortal interference. If only they managed to locate this mortal.”

“That’s a fascinating development, dear Noumena” commented Lady Pixie “But do you really not have any clue on the current location of the Planar Charm?”

“Unfortunately not, my Lady” answered Noumena “The Charm was recovered from Reddican’s dead body by a humble servant, a pregnant woman called Easir who was also Reddican’s mistress at Castle Qain. She wore the token and the artifact disappeared from our scryings for decades29. Shortly after the cataclysm that struck Alphatia30 the powers of the Planar Charm became manifested close to the new lands of the shadow elves, the activation of the artifact drained magic from a projects of Odin, of the Great One and of Ranivorous, and caused two disruption events in Pandius31. Then the Charm disappeared again.

“From these limited detections we believe the amulet is currently in the possession of the son of Easir, a young adult called Dav or Davonin. The use of the amulet led to the fall of another Alphatian arch-mage32, so its powers are not to be underestimated. We almost have no information about the Charm wielder, nor have we any clue about his real motivations. In the last five years we did not get any further sign of the use of the artifact.”

“Such a string of chaos created by such a humble jewel reminds me of the ancient times of our Immortal lives” recollected Lord Brownie “Then you could never be sure of the true power of anything, and the slightest change could produce the mightiest consequences in the fabric of reality. Such was the Era of Chaos from which you Younglings were born.”

“You hit a critical point, here, Lord Brownie, more than you believe” answered a suddenly agitated Noumena “But I digress, I’ll return over this at the end of my story. Let me just continue my account following the order of the events.

The wrong way to sponsor the Nightmare Dimension

“After the Olympians’ affair and the appearance of the mysterious Planar Charm another group of Immortals made its own attempt at understanding the Omen33. They were just four, Pharamond, Mazikeen, Harrow and Hircismus their names, Nightmare Clique34 their association. Somehow they came to believe that the mystery of the Vortex could be better explained by Immortals born from the Nightmare Dimension, as it is the closest to the Barrier. While they sponsored Nightmare candidates - diaboli above all, even leading a party of them to settle on Mystara35 - they also believed that, in order to make room for their sponsored champions, they should kill all the promising Mystaran candidates coming from the usual Dimensions. Like the Immortals of Entropy, the Clique of Nightmare believed that the pyramid of Immortal ranks was going to be permanently filled, and that it could accept only a limited number of new candidates. And this is how we lost Krugar Khan, Black Zama and Marik of Glevum, and the story of three mortal countries was changed forever by these losses.”

“And how these three mere deaths could possibly have such great effect on whole nations?” asked a puzzled Lady Pixie.

“It is simple, My Lady” answered Noumena “It was all about politics36. Krugar the Khan was going to unite the horsemen clans of the Ethengars and subjugate the small kingdom of Vestland37 to grant a steady flow of supplies from the sea. Then he was going earn the neutrality of the nearby Heldannic Knights and friendship of the Rockhome dwarves. Finally he planned to invade the lands of the Princes of Glantri, to avenge an old wrong they committed five hundred years ago38. If he wasn’t killed, the Glantrians would now be busy in rebuilding their country after the invasion and they never would have meddled with the Alphatians as they did. The current leader of the Steppes of Ethengar, who rose in power thanks to the dismissal of Krugar Khan39, has a quite different agenda.

“Black Zama was the maximum expert in Night Magic in the whole Alphatian Empire40, and also a very respected archmage of the Alphatian Council. After reading reports of Alphatian explorers41 he became a very vocal proponent of exploration and colonization of the lands of the eternal night close to the north polar opening. Basing on the same reports he also promoted an armed invasion of the gloomy island of Oceania to capture at least one of the fabled evil night dragons there encountered by the explorers. Had he not be killed the Alphatians would have intensified their efforts in northern Norwold and beyond, and their military might would have been kept busy fighting against the dragons of Oceania. With his death, instead, his arch-rival Grillanbulis42 got a prominent position in the Alphatian Council, where he found an eager audience for his smoldered hatred towards the Thyatians - those who humiliated and banished him when he was a young, talented sorcerer from Port Lucinius.

“Marik of Glevum was a man of peace. The benevolent, respected, influential leader of the High Church of Thonia. He always had the ear of the king, and his words were often opposed to those of the proud, hot-headed Raiders of the Kingdom. When the treacherous emissaries of King Norlan of Qeodhar and Meister Silbergeld43 suggested large loots and rewards for Thonian help in a Thyatian invasion of faraway Norwold, Marik openly spoke against the intervention. He was for the end of Thonian isolation and for renewed relationships with neighbouring nations, but on a peaceful basis. If he was alive it is simple to infer that the Thyatian invasion of Norwold would be repelled more easily44. With Norwold firmly in Alphatian hands there would not be the difficult peace talks of AC 100245 and the defeated Thyatians would not choose to face the Alphatians in another war just a few years later46. Paradoxically, a neat result in Norwold would have prevented much more bloodshed in a later time.

“And so the three Immortals undid in a while what dedicated mortal lives had patiently built over decades. After these murders most of the possible future paths leading to a peaceful resolution of the Great War among mortals disappeared. Brooding signs of an imminent war in Norwold came from many sides, and the Immortals were now unable to stop it.

“Horrified by his own actions Mazikeen had second thoughts on the actions of the Clique and, before he managed to denounce his own misdeeds to the hierarchs, his mind was impaired by the Clique’s leader Pharamond. This Eternal of Energy revealed himself as a power-hungry schemer, interested only in the eldritch mastery he could get from the Vortex should the new Nightmare Immortals he was going to sponsor be successful.

The hard choice at Shillabeer Gap: losing a battle to prevent a war

“Uncaring of the impending war, foolish Pharamond and his two remaining allies were now ready to cause the downfall of three other mortal candidates in a single blow. Had they succeeded they would have brought down a whole Empire together with the three heroes. The Immortals desecrated an ancient troll shrine in the Altan Tepes mountains and set false evidence on Thyatian legionaries from the town of Biazzan. The Emperor and most of the Thyatian army had already sailed toward Norwold, other legions were dispatched to the Isle of Dawn, and so this part of the Empire was defended just by weary and undermanned reserve units. On the opposite, the trolls were growing in numbers and the desecration prompted the unification of the clans under the strong leader Grazzik. An army of 7000 trolls marched toward the undefended heart of the Thyatian Empire. Their immediate goal was the town of Biazzan, but it is easy to deduce they would not stop there once they discovered how weak the defenses of the Empire were. Other mixed tribes from the mountains would have likely joined the victorious troll leader and soon a whole humanoid horde would have laid siege to the rich and poorly defended Thyatis City.

“Then the three candidates appeared out of nowhere as signs of hope among the Thyatians. - Aline, Charek and Dernfara were travelling together through time to fulfill their own personal tests for Immortality and their time machine dropped them off a mere few days before the troll attack on Biazzan47. The churches of their own Immortal patrons mysteriously gone48, the heroes did not falter and rallied a ramshackle force from reserve and mercenary units. Then they marched to stop the invasion at Shillabeer Gap, the last defendable point before the town.

“There Pharamond and his allies were ready to strike. And there a task force of young Immortals calling themselves the Champions of the Trial49 - who managed to recover the deranged Mazikeen in his own network of Planes and learnt of the conspiracy - was ready to battle the Clique of Nightmare. And it was there that things took an odd turn. A group of powerful Immortals of Time - most notably Vanya, patron of Thyatis - approached the Immortals’ task force and told them that a hard choice was in their hands50.

“The Immortals of Time performed a screening of the paths leading to the future. Most of these paths were now showing that the Great War among mortals could still be averted if the battle of Shillabeer Gap was won by the humanoids. Their victory would have called back the Thyatian expeditionary force in Norwold and the legions would have been embroiled in a long campaign against the humanoids of the Altan Tepes for at least a decade51, at the same time preventing the Thyatians entering into a catastrophic war with the Alphatians. Vanya herself - who usually appreciates war and its consequences - was worried about the consequences of such a great conflict in the mortal world. That’s why she apparently spoke against the best interests of the people she protected52.

“But, for this to happen, the Immortals’ task force must let Pharamond and his allies kill the three mortal candidates right before the battle. Unfortunately the screening was not a certain one, because the influx of the Eye in the Vortex was still impairing the vision of some critical branches of the possible futures. The Immortals of the Sphere of Time could only refer what they believe would be the most likely consequences, so the final decision on what to do was up to the Immortals of the task force.

“And these Immortals chose to save the three candidates, defeating Pharamond and his Clique and precipitating the war. They thought that the creation of new Immortals was always for the better, and that new heroes and potential Immortal candidates would nevertheless rise during the Great War, so this event should not be averted.”

“And too bad for the crowds of commoners that would have suffered from such a choice!” grinned the Imp of the Bogs amid the astonished silence of the auditors “Ah! A bunch of you did a way better job than our Entropics in messing up with the mortal world! I guess Hircismus could have saved himself from joining the Clique of Nightmare; Pharamond and his allies, and the clumsy Immortals who opposed him were more than enough!”

“Ditto, my brother” sarcastically echoed the Imp of the Woods “I always said that Entropy works at its best when it leaves the other Spheres fighting each other. Maximum results with minimum effort! Why bother with all those scheming and plotting and deceiving when the self-appointed ‘paladins of life and light’ are so efficient in bringing misery and death to the mortal world?”

“I’m afraid I must agree with the Imps, Mylady” stepped in Lord Leprechaun “It is difficult to imagine such damage committed by so few individuals. It looks like at every major turn you took the worst course of action. If you decided by flipping a coin you would have fared much better.”

[Image: Lady Nixie]

“This is unfair from you, my Lords” intervened Lady Nixie “It is easy to criticize the deeds of others from your comfortable position of observers. Do you really believe you would have done better than the Younglings? Then you should involve yourselves more in the mortal world. And how are you so sure that what has happened is really the worst course of action? Amid all this chaos I see deeds of honor, duty and sacrifice which deserve respect. I’m sure that things could have been mismanaged much more than they actually were.”

“I am not here to defend the actions of the Immortals of Life till the bitter end” replied Noumena to the group “We have our faults, both individual and collective. Pharamond had his flawed vision of power but, in earnest, he really wanted to understand the Vortex. The Immortals sent to chastise him believed that potential Immortality was a value in itself and they did nothing more than what they were sent to do: protect mortal candidates from Immortal interference. We could discuss forever on the consequences of their choices, but you know better than me that past actions are really difficult to undo.

“So, if you please, I’ll move to the next part of my story, and I’ll narrate for you how the Immortals reacted when the Great war unfolded. The consequences of this war are under the eyes of everyone so I do not narrate them to you. I do not also wish to bother you by recounting the actions of the individual Immortals who did this and that to the mortal world. I would only underline the motivations of a few Immortals at the beginning of the strife. About Pharamond and his retinue, needles to say they got proper punishment and currently Pharamond is working alone on his project of fostering new Immortals of the Dimension of Nightmare under the strict vigilance of his former patron Razud53.

The Great War must thrive: Nyx and Thanatos let loose

“First of all, the hierarchs of Entropy were longing more than ever for a payback for their Sphere. The events of the last decades did nothing to return the balance of the elements in the Multiverse, and the Entropics still were the disadvantaged faction. Moreover, the stroke54 imposed on Night by the other hierarchs after the Olympians affair, and the involvement of Hircismus in the conspiracy against the candidates were humiliating blows to the reputation of Entropy.

“That’s why the Entropics left so much power to the newly-arrived Alphaks, the only acquisition of their Sphere in a millennium55. He came to Mystara just a mere couple of centuries ago56, when the human mage Halzunthram57 used the power of the Radiance to flee the lands of Glantri and seek refuge in the ruined world of Old Alphatia. Alphaks was a monomaniac, interested only in his revenge against the descendants of his own people and many of his actions accelerated the incoming Great War. This was a great opportunity for an Entropic revenge and that’s why most of his colleagues gave him full freedom of action on Mystara.

“Then Night had his own agenda in accelerating the catastrophic war: acting together with Aracne Prime, in a clique called the Web of Declension, the duo sabotaged a peace conference between the two Empires in the neutral territory of Helskir and kidnapped the Thyatian Emperor and the Alphatian Empress bringing them to a faraway Plane dominated by Entropy58. To ensure the swift breaking out of the war Aracne Prime also stole from its ancient resting place the Periapt of Peace, an artifact that - at this state of mortal politics - was the only thing able to force the two Empires into diplomatic talks.

“It was only thanks to a party of Norwold barons guided by the Immortal Koryis that this plot of the Entropics was foiled, much to the disgrace of Night and of Aracne Prime. The peace talks resumed and the war stalled and delayed for a few years. Night definitely lost her influence on the Sphere of Entropy for the current times and Aracne Prime was temporarily banished from Mystara.

“Then Thanatos made his own attempt to fill the gap as the prominent Entropic Lord and avoid the fizzling of the Great War into abhorrent peace talks.

“He set in motion his own convoluted plot, something he was working on at least since the Olympics affair. Covertly working in the previous decades he managed to deceive three peoples of the Hollow World - the human Azcans and Nithians and the elvish Schattenalfen - into fostering his plot59.

“In particular the Azcans performed a complex ritual that corrupted the very light of the sun shining at the center of the world. This corrupted light was meant to interact with the ancient Spell of Preservation the Immortals placed on the cultures of the Hollow World.

“As you know, this spell subtly persuades people living in the Hollow World to reject innovation and prolong the ancestral traditions of the culture they belong to. As this spell was cast by high-ranking hierarchs of four Spheres60 working together Thanatos himself - with all his might - was not able to disrupt it. So he opted to boost the most detrimental effects of the Spell, namely, the dislike of other cultures and their traditions61. With the evil contribution of Entropy, every people touched by the Spell of Preservation would increase intolerance, nationalism and the desire to impose its own culture over the neighbouring ones.”

“The perfect recipe for warmongering leaders.” observed Lord Flitterling “As if the mortal world was not close enough from being burned by the fires of conflict.”

“Precisely, My Lord” answered Noumena “With some hindsight we suspect Thanatos set in motion his plan shortly after the Delta of Time started showing the impending Great War. He managed to work undetected in the Hollow World for decades mostly thanks to the protection of the powerful anti-magic shield running inside the crust of Mystara. The shield screened his activities from most of the other Immortals, which are mostly involved in the Outer World”

“The Hollow World is too boring a garden to tend to, isn’t it?” mocked the Garden Imp “You really cannot blame others if you suddenly discover it was invaded by pests.”

Noumena ignored this biting comment and carried on with her narration.

“Once the corruption of the light was close to completion Thanatos induced the Schattenalfen to partly awake some of the great evil annelids from their underground, millennia-long slumber. The most intelligent members of this race of Burrowers became vigilant but were still unable to move due to the Spell of Preservation, but the dumbest annelids became free to dig their tunnels. They moved closer to the inner and outer surfaces of the world, creating holes in the anti-magic shield so that the corrupting light of the internal sun could filter to the external surface and spread its effects also on the people living there.

“It is now believed that the Alphatians managed to quickly dig a shaft to the Hollow World mostly by exploiting the tunnels already prepared by the great annelids62. If so, this could be part of the plot of Thanatos to expose the Alphatians to the corrupted light of the Hollow World sun.

“Now, Loki - an ally of Thanatos in this endeavour and a member of the Warmongering Triad - persuaded a peculiar human mage named Wastoure63, an Antalian of the Hollow World gifted with a particular mental sensitivity, into travelling to the external surface in order to become influenced by the thoughts of one of the evil annelids closer to the city of Thyatis. The annelid was still paralyzed by the Spell of Preservation but it could be moved closer to the city with comparatively little effort by a concerted effort of human servants working together. Wastoure was brainwashed into gaining a position of influence and power into the empire, so he could command an expedition to the resting place of the Burrower and move it closer to the capital of the Empire.

The Month of Thanatos: final damage is done

“By this point other Immortals noticed something wrong was happening but they were not able to figure out the whole picture. And then Thanatos put into practice his diversion: a temporal gate appeared in the Broken Lands in AC 1000 connecting this epoch with the ancient lands of Blackmoor of BC 400064, approximately at the same time the source of the Radiance appeared on Mystara. The gate enabled an exchange of people between the two epochs, under the attentive scrutiny of the Immortals of Time.

“At the beginning of AC 1005, when his plan was close to completion, Thanatos fabricated false evidences that the source of the Radiance had been somehow altered by the time-travelling people. By this time the Immortals were already at war among themselves and the use of the Radiance was part of the conflict. So he easily persuaded the whole assembly of the Immortals to send their essences into the remote past, leaving just the Immortal Asterius as the guardian of the return point to the present times.

“We discovered later that Thanatos sent just a shadow of himself to the past, the bulk of his essence stayed in the present time, where he easily subjugated Asterius, imprisoned him in the Hollow World realm of Shahjapur and shifted the return point of the Immortals a month in the future. So, during this month, Mystara was not guarded by any active Immortal with the exception of Thanatos. This is when the plot of this Entropic hierarch fully unfolded.

“Fortunately a group of mortals secretly led by Asterius managed to partially foil Thanatos’ plot and alert the Immortals. Once discovered, he made a desperate move and tried to hide in the forbidding Plane of the Nightstorm, where Immortal power is rapidly drained and dispersed back in the Multiverse. Many of the returned Immortals - myself included65 - imbued part of their powers to the mortals who made contact with them. This was a painful sacrifice by some of us but this transfer of power enabled these mortals to pursue Thanatos where we dare not to go, in the Nightstorm. There they managed to defeat him and return him to the Immortals’ justice. And, maybe, this was just another sign for us that power is not everything and that mortals are able to do things that we cannot do anymore.

“On his part Thanatos lost some of his power in the Nightstorm as well and preminency in the Sphere of Entropy shifted again, this time to Hel66.

“The curse on the Hollow World sun was removed and the burrowers were stopped again. Wastoure never managed to become a prominent leader in Thyatis. But, in the end, Thanatos was successful in triggering the Great War, his power was not spent for nothing. At the beginning of the ‘Month of Thanatos’ and for seemingly illogical reasons - whose hidden cause should be now pretty clear to you all - the empire of Thyatis broke the truce hardly won just three years before at Helskir and declared war on the mighty empire of Alphatia after the Alphatians in turn declared war on the princes of Glantri67. By the end of the ‘Month of Thanatos’ the war machines of the two empires were set in motion. Other nations, such as Hule, were ready to wage war and it was too late for the Immortals to stop all of them. The Immortals could only take their sides and try to lead their faction to victory.”

Immortals’ rivalries during the disaster

[Image: Lady Pixie]

“Now I understand the extent of this catastrophe, Lady Noumena” interrupted Lady Pixie “and I also understand the tragic drive under the Entropics’ actions. But, in heart, why were the Immortals of the other Spheres split into factions?”

“It was possibly the last consequence of the Omen, Lady Pixie” answered Noumena “Among the Immortals there are some who ascended to their condition without any sponsoring by the established Immortals’ society. Beings like Rad, Rafiel, Benekander were created without the patronage of the other Immortals. They often believe themselves as free from the structure and commitments of Pandius society - sometimes they even refer to themselves as the Free Immortals. And, in turn, these ‘free individuals’ are perceived by the other Immortals with a mix of disdain and sense of menace.

“The appearance of the Eye coincided with Benekander’s release from his thousand-year-old prison68. He somehow got imprisoned in an artifact-like object the very moment of his ascent, some 5000 years ago. His ascent has something to do with the raw, wild energy which now we call Radiance, which was also the same source used by Rad and Rafiel to gain their Immortality. To the eyes of the three Free Immortals the liberation of Benekander was an obvious sign the Old Ones wished the Radiance to be used to rapidly increase the number of Immortals, free from the convoluted regulations we use to test mortal candidats.

“What the Free Immortals did not understand was that such regulations were established with the purpose to select only those spiritually strong enough to bear the immense amount of power Immortality comes with, and to understand the duties their new conditions would demand them.”

“Wah! Wah! Wah!” interrupted again the Bog Imp “And so you're telling me that this mess in the mortal world was promoted by the ‘proven, worthy and upright ones’, those creamed off over the eons by your rigorous tests! You did a good job in choosing the tests and the tested, indeed! Or, maybe, is your famed logical approach to things lacking in something?”

“The tests are not a guarantee against misdeeds, as my account should have clearly demonstrated by now” coldly replied Noumena “And, if there wasn’t a grain of truth in what you are saying, Lord Imp of the Bogs, many in Pandius would not have sided themselves with the Free Immortals fifteen years ago. The Free Immortals’ request to promote ascent to Immortality through the Radiance promoted a deep split in the people of Pandius, and the factional enmity which arose from this split all but heightened the consequences of the Great War in the mortal world.

“I cannot deny I was opposed to the Free Immortals and their allies - the Fellowship of the Star, as they called themselves - as, since the discovery of the Radiance, I was among those who wanted to place some safeguards to the unlimited powers it emanated. But I also restrained myself from categorically condemning the study of this marvel of the Multiverse, so I did not join the Ring of Fire, the faction gathering most of the opponents of the Fellowship of the Star.

“The consequences of the conflict are under our eyes and I do not have enough heart to recount the many mistakes we made. In the end the Fellowship of the Star tried to turn the Radiance into a weapon against the Ring of Fire, but then this eldritch power got out of their hands and a whole continent was destroyed as a result. Rad and Ixion, leaders of the two factions, had a tense confrontation in front of a party of mortals that Benekander led to the source of the Radiance in a desperate attempt to stop its misuse. And then the Emissary appeared.

The Emissary of the Old Ones: a precarious order is restored

“We don’t know for sure what it was. Some say it was an Old One in person, while I believe it could be just a servant or, maybe, an avatar... for the full manifestation of such a being could have easily annihilated all the onlookers, mortals and Immortals alike.

“The Emissary showed disappointment for the disregard showed by the Immortals toward the mortals and their world, and it in person chastised Rad and Ixion for their misdeeds. Both of them are now unable to show themselves back to the Immortals’ society, but their followers still receive their benefits so Ixion and Rad are very likely alive, somewhere. The two factions disbanded immediately after the disappearance of their leaders, together with the secretive Brotherhood of the Shadows established by the Entropics to take advantage of the war. The Great War in the mortal world lost momentum and ended just a couple of years ago. It also definitely stopped haunting the visions of the Delta of Time, so we guess it is really over.”

[Image: Lord Leprechaun]

“And so, all’s well that ends well, isn’t it?” commented Lord Leprechaun “You Younglings understood the importance of humility and respect, the Great War ultimately did not destroy the mortal world and now is behind you, and even Entropy had its opportunity to increase its importance in this part of the Multiverse. The Entropics still do not have a congruent number of Immortal candidates, I concur on this, but there will be plenty of time to solve this issue in the near future, I believe!

“So, thanks for the beautiful story, Lady Noumena, it has been ages since I heard a tale of comparable scale and scope” concluded the Leprechaun “And thanks also for the gifts you so generously donated for our appearance here this night, I’ll hold them among my most valuable ones. Dawn is approaching, I guess you’d better conclude your speech before we disperse back to our mortal incarnations.”

Lord Leprechaun spoke with a merry and careless tone, as if Noumena really wished to spend that night and part of her powers just to entertain a group of Immortals of past ages. Leprechaun was secretly hoping this was the reason for Noumena’s speech but, when he saw her face, loaded with concern, his smile died on his lips.

“I really wish I could stop my tale here, my Lord” answered Noumena “but present times are not less worrisome than the past ones, not at all. Let me just explain what is happening right now in this part of the Multiverse.

The last strike from the Eye: chaos ensues

“Before leaving for unknown places, the Emissary made a modification to the Nucleus of the Spheres. When I discovered the Nucleus69 I persuaded the hierarchs of the five Spheres to alter the effect of the Radiance so that it would drain some amount of Energy from the Multiverse. This was to keep the balance of power as the Nucleus actually favoured the ascent of new Immortals of the Sphere of Energy.

“Now the modification performed by the Emissary had the Nucleus draining Entropy instead of Energy. We soon found this alteration cannot be undone by us. Moreover, Entropy is being drained at a steady rate from this part of the Multiverse, not only when the powers of the Radiance are used.

“At first we thought this was some kind of balancing action, to remove from Mystara the great amount of chaos and destruction produced by the recent conflict. But, after more than five years of mortal and Immortal rebuilding, such destruction is not as dramatic as before. Yet, the Nucleus is still draining Entropy at the same rate as it was when it was modified.

“This puzzled most of us: the Nucleus was now actively worsening the unbalance of the Spheres on Mystara and surroundings, penalizing the Sphere which was already disadvantaged when the Eye appeared.

“Moreover, the Eye is still there, meaning that we Immortals did not actually solve the mystery of its presence in the Multiverse.

“In recent times it is even possible that the Eye emanated another being, an Immortal named Gareth who refer to himself as ‘Returned from the Vortex’. Unfortunately this Immortal eschews any attempt of contact by our kin and is invisible to our scrying just as the Planar Charm. Gareth manifests himself only to mortals, spreading a cult based on the end of Immortal manipulations of mortal affairs and gaining a followers’ base in Sind and surrounding lands.

“This enigmatic being showed himself a mere five years ago, albeit I strongly suspect he reached Mystara during the climatic events related to the Emissary at the end of AC 1009. Loki seems to know something about the appearance of this entity70 but so far he is keeping a very low profile. Loki was on watch duty together with Ilsundal - since the Planar Charm affair we doubled the number of sentries on the Eye - but the sudden disappearance of Ixion by the Emissary’s hands forced Ilsundal to hurry back to Pandius to take on the regency of the Sphere of Energy, so for a time, Loki was the only watcher of the Eye. It is possible that the Omen chose this moment to emanate its second sign, once again under the testimony of the sole Sphere of Entropy.

“But I digress, as Gareth is still an unknown force and it might well be some clever and well known Immortal trying to take advantage of the situation under an anti magic shield and a false identity. Instead, the findings of Lornasen represent the most alarming threat to the Multiverse.

“Lornasen71 wa a member of the Wolves of Tartarus who tracked down the Olympians and liberated them from their prison. She disappeared shortly after, and any attempt to locate or contact her was futile. As she was an inquisitive and curious soul, she was deemed lost forever in some unexplored part of the Multiverse.

“A mere year ago she returned from her long absence and immediately reported to the hierarchs about extraordinary events happening among faraway stars.

“The worn out Lornasen narrated that, shortly after the liberation of the Olympians she wished to investigate a seemingly casual sentence spoken by a draeden her party met while travelling a void region of the Astral Plane in pursuit of one of the escaped Olympians.

“The draeden was travelling in the void and it did not avoid the Immortals, as is the usual behaviour for its race. Instead it approached in a not aggressive mood and addressed the Immortals asking about recent information on the Stellar Cluster of Goanth72. None of the Wolves of Tartarus had ever been there, so the draeden left the group snorting in exasperation.

[Image: Star Cluster of Goanth]

“Lornasen was intrigued by such a behaviour from a mighty and elusive draeden and believed it was worthy giving a look at this stellar cluster, especially because it is not far from Mystara. This was strange enough, especially because the meeting happened far in the Astral Plane, as if the draeden was there on purpose.

“The Immortal wished herself among the stars of Goanth and she suddenly found herself trapped in a region of swirling magical currents which impeded the proper use of her powers. She recognized the Stellar Cluster as the right one, the information she gathered from the Material Atlas of the Prime Universe was indeed matching, but the region was not the tranquil neighborhood of celestial bodies she read in the description.

“It seemed like the very laws of nature were changed, operating at a different pace and logic. Magic here followed chaotic and wild patterns, not evil or disruptive in themselves but difficult to grasp and handle. Lornasen compared the new situation as facing for the first time an ocean storm after a life of placid sailing on a floodplain river.

“And the chaotic patterns never abated. Lornasen gated herself into the middle of the cluster. Before she was able to learn again the rules of this region of space and exit the area she needed the very best of four decades. A difficult journey where she was unable to abandon the Prime Plane and to communicate with the universe outside the chaotic region. She lost much power in her voyage, which became painfully longer by her discovery that the borders of chaos were expanding outwards over time.

“What little understanding she grasped of the surrounding confusion made her formulate the theory that the chaos was expanding by first covering the regions of the Prime Plane where the unbalance among the Spheres of Power and their elements was greater. In particular, a long tendril of disturbance had begun moving closer to Mystara from the Goanth Cluster. Once outside the dangerous region Lornasen spent some more time characterizing the movement and the expansion of the borders of chaos, to better report her findings to the hierarchs.

“The hierarchs heard Lornasen’s report with increased disbelief and concern. After a few verifications they established a watch guard around the region of chaos, but were unable to stop it in any way. They came to believe that this part of the Multiverse was reverting back to the status it had during the Age of Chaos from which you, Senior Immortals of the Good People, come from.

“The mysterious actions of the Emissary are clear, now, the draining of Entropy from Mystara is just a way to attract the tendril of chaos to our world, lured by the increasing unbalance of the elements.

“The best estimate for the arrival of the chaotic currents on Mystara is thirty years from now. By that time exactly 100 years will have passed since the appearance of the Omen in the Vortex. To many of us this seems the final test for the Immortals of this region of the Multiverse: should we fail it, chaos will enshroud Mystara and different laws will govern this world and its inhabitants. We will be forced to abandon forever this place, provided we are not made powerless or destroyed by the chaotic currents. We don’t know what will happen to the mortals of the world, but we are afraid that they will not survive this ordeal as well.

[Image: The Eye in the Vortex]

“And that’s why I am here and I summoned you on this special night. I am part of a large group of Immortals who wish to investigate the chaotic region and find a definitive answer to the Omen. I humbly ask your help as you, Immortals of the Age of Chaos, know much better than us how to handle the unpredictable behavior of the new zones.

“I am also an ambassador with a formal proposal by the united Councils of Hierarchs of the five Spheres. They ask you to reassemble part of your identity and power and become Immortals again, at least until the present crisis is solved. They ask you to provide assistance against this change of the laws of nature or, should we young Immortals fail in our task, to be prepared to take over our responsibility versus mortals and tend to Mystara in the age of chaos that will ensue.

“Should you accept becoming Immortals again, I need your teachings on how to break the barriers among Planes and dimensions in the chaotic regions. This so far has proven impossible to us, the rules governing such transitions too different from what we are accustomed to. We need guidance, in the superior interest of the innocent of this part of the Multiverse. We believe something is hidden in the Vortex dimension corresponding to the Cluster of Goanth, but we are unable to reach it so far.

“We wish to assemble a group of investigators which would include those of you willing to join us. Lornasen, Harrow and myself will be part of this group as well. And also chosen mortals should be included, for so far we failed in granting them the opportunity to grow and dispersed what they strived to achieve with hard labour. Like us, they deserve the opportunity to decide their fate, so we should go together. I hope their innocent and impaired vision will also help us when we face the hard decisions that inevitably await us.

“I, Noumena, hierarch of the Sphere of Thought have spoken. I humbly await for your answer”.

Epilogue: an alliance for a better future

An astounded silence fell on the Mound of the Sleeping Stones, the dim light of the impending dawn appearing on the eastern horizon. The green silhouettes stood motionless above their sacred stones but no doubt an animated assembly was taking place between their connected minds.

The hsiaos were immobile as well. Their mortal minds had adsorbed so many secrets and revelations in a single night that their certainties were shaken to the ground. Bloody wars and revolutions among mortals could be triggered just by the minor amount of information they received from Noumena. The three owls were the wisest of the wise and their temperament was alien to impulsive application of what they learnt, but nevertheless their minds were on the brink of insanity.

While she waited for an answer by the Good People, Noumena paid attention to her three servants and cast a calming blessing upon them. Their presence at the meeting, albeit painful and shaking for the three owls, was a necessary step to fulfill in order to change the status of things on Mystara. No more would the Immortals alone be the keepers of secrets of this world.

“Be steady, my beloved chosen, for this is the truth of an unforgiving world, and maturity comes with the critical review of the actions of your patrons. We are not immune to errors, as you just experienced, and power is not a guarantee against failure. Only wisdom is.” Noumena sent her message directly in the minds of her servants to provide them with a key to interpret her whole speech. Then her attention was diverted by the movement of Lord Pooka, who moved to the center of the assembly.

“This is the first time in eons that such requests are made to us” he spoke “But the menace lingering on this world is an exceptional one. Even those among us who follow the dark and evil ways of chaos agree that it is not in the interest of any of us to see this part of the Multiverse returning to the primordial chaos.

“Chaos is like a single seed growing into a forest spanning a whole continent. For its whole nature, once triggered, it cannot be stopped inside a boundary. You believe the chaotic region will engulf Mystara and then stop here to punish your hubris of arrogant and selfish Immortals, but we believe this is just the beginning. Chaos will spread further, to encroach and engulf other parts of the Prime Plane and other Planes. And the more chaos in the Multiverse, the faster it will grow. It will not stop until all reality will follow its ever-changing laws.

“It looks like the Old Ones are telling us they will start anew with different rules in case the Young Immortals fail their final test. But, albeit we the approaching chaos does not represent a risk to us, we feel that this is a test also for the Good People. By showing nothing but contempt and indifference for your fate we will surely fail our part of the test. We will not demonstrate ourselves better than the foolish Younglings you mentioned in your story, not mentioning the fact that we will condemn the hapless mortals to a doom they will not understand.

“We are old and ancient, but we are not the Old Ones. We never managed to become like them and so we feel that, to their eyes, we are still under scrutiny.

“And that’s why we formally accept to help you Immortals. One in ten of our mortal incarnations is falling into a deep slumber right now, taken to a safe place and guarded by the rest of their kin. This time our shapes will not disperse with dawn. The life force of the slumbering ones will collect again to reform part of our Immortal selves, so that we can leave this world and help you in your endeavour.

“Some of us did not answer your call this night. We have ways to commune with them and we will try to persuade them to join our common cause, as we feel we need as much help as possible. Thirty years are not a long time when dealing with chaos. We have barely enough time to stop it.

“You fully succeeded in your plea, Noumena, something unheard of since ages past. Now, as our powers gather, we are leaving for the City of the Immortals to present ourselves to the assembly of the Young Immortals and establish a formal alliance. Farewell, brave Youngling, we will meet again very soon.”

With these words and a last bow the silhouette of Lord Pooka dissolved in a drizzle of green sparks, immediately imitated by the rest of the audience of the Good People. In a moment the mound was empty except for Noumena and her three servants hidden among the menhirs.

“Come closer, my chosen, this place will not cause you any more harm” encouraged Noumena as the three hsiaos flew to the center of the clearing “You learnt much about the hidden and forbidden knowledge of this world, so much to fill ten lifetimes worth of secrets. But the time of secrets is over, as by keeping too much information for themselves the Immortals became the ruin of millions over millions of mortals. The same mortals they come from and who they should have helped to rise to their condition.

“Arrogance, selfishness, unmotivated self-gratification, blind bureaucracy, foolish display of power: all of these caused strife and misery among Immortals and mortals alike. As if the Entropy we did not allow to emerge in the world started subtly infiltrating among our ranks and, maybe, it is so. New champions of Entropy must rise in the near future or the balance of the Spheres will never be achieved again. As Immortals of opposing Spheres we cannot overtly help Entropy to fulfill its scope, but for sure we can divert some of our ‘excess power’ to the fight against the impending chaos, leaving some room for the Entropics to grow their own projects.

“The events of the last decades showed us that Entropy itself, while at a disadvantage, is not immune to the judgment of the Old Ones. The excesses of Entropic self-indulgence in setting the scale of destruction to larger than needed were the cause of some of the recent crises and, ultimately, the actions of the Emissary are draining elemental Entropy away from Mystara so, if they want to succeed in increasing their numbers, the Entropics must try harder than before.

“I am telling you all of these things, my beloved, because it is time for mortals to know. You are the first three of many others to whom you’ll relate the tale of the Century of the Omen. Your own wisdom and my advice will tell you who among the many has the right mind to listen to your tale. Among them, and among you as well, I will chose those who will accompany me in the difficult journey at the heart of chaos.”

“Wisdom is built over truth and we should accept it even if it shakes out previous certainties with the strength of a gale,” replied a still shocked Pemca.

“I will not fail you in the duty you are assigning to me, o Master of Acuity” echoed a pensive Kyck-kyck “I will find the worthy ones and contribute to the propagation of your revelations to the mortal world.”

“I swear memory will not betray me, for the events of this night are impressed like fire in my mind” concluded Japalak, trying to keep a dignified expression on her face “The worthy ones will receive the story word by word, as you related it to this eminent assembly to which we were just humble witnesses.”

“Very well, my chosen” replied Noumena “Now I’m going to send you back to your nests on the three continents of Mystara for a well-deserved rest but, in a short time, I will need your help again to begin our mission. From now on you will be the Speakers of Truth on Mystara. Farewell, my chosen, learn and remember.”

With a last flash of light the mound was empty again, this time for much longer than usual.

Timeline of Events

[Image: Involved Immortals]

BC 4006: The alien spaceship the FSS Beagle crash-lands on Mystara, in the Valley of the Ancients, a desertic lowland south of the fledgling kingdom of Blackmoor. The barbarian tribes inhabiting the desertic plains meet at Axmouth and state that the spaceship does not represent a threat. They start raiding and looting the landing site.

BC 4004: Eager to avenge the defeat of his Afridhi followers by the army of Blackmoor, the Immortal Zugzul orders the conquest of the Dragon Hills to stop. He reveals in a dream to his mortal protegè Toska Rusa how to build the Well of the Souls, a powerful artefact which is able to create an alternate timeline where Blackmoor was conquered by the Afridhis. Toska Rusa sends Tenian slaves and Afridhi soldiers in the Barrens of Karsh, where Zugzul told her to build the Well. The area is renamed Tor Kurram by Zugzul; the Immortal foretells that only people ‘not yet born’ may destroy the artefact. The building of the Well of the Souls causes a series of perturbations in the River of Time that opens a time breach. The breach enables the Comeback Inn - a powerful time machine - to connect the Blackmoor era with the 1000 AC era73, allowing time travelling for groups of people from both ages. The Immortals of Pandius are tricked by Thanatos in AC 1005 into travelling to this epoch to monitor the progress of the Well of the Souls. Thanatos produces false evidence that indicates its construction will irremediably alter the spaceship reactor from which the Nucleus of the Sphere will be created.

BC 3998: The Blackmoorians recruit a group of adventurers from AC 1005 in order to circumvent the prophecy of Zugzul. The group manages to reach Tor Kurram and destroy the Well of the Souls, thus ending the perturbations in the River of Time and preventing the alternate timeline from happening in the current reality. The destruction of the Well of the Souls misaligns the Comeback Inn time portal and the BC 4000 / AC 1000 epochs are no longer connected. The Immortals of Pandius coming from the future return to AC 1005 to discover that Thanatos shifted their returning point ahead by one month, in order to have free reign over Mystara during these 28 days.

BC 3990: Ogdoban Treel inadvertently causes the catastrophic explosion of the Beagle spaceship by selling critical parts of its equipement to the Blackmoorians and other people. Rheddrian Benekander manages to limit the effect of the explosion but he is accidentally turned into an Immortal in the process and his essence becomes trapped in a mirror device of the spaceship for more than five millennia. The power system of the Beagle is the only surviving part of the spaceship.

[Unknown date]: An Old One meddles with the Beagle’s power system and turns it into the Nucleus of the Spheres, moving it beneath current-day Glantri. The Immortals are unable to detect the exact date of this event, nor to witness the direct intervention of the Old One. Between the explosion of the FSS Beagle and the discovery of the Nucleus by Noumena in the IV century AC the Beagle’s power system and the Nucleus of the Spheres cannot be traced anywhere on Mystara.

AC 828: Halzunthram is defeated in Glantri and most believe him dead. Instead the mage uses the powers of the Radiance to reach the world of Old Alphatia. There he slowly becomes the leader of the Gammarians, descendants of the Followers of the Air who did not migrate to Mystara. As of AC 1000 he is plotting to destroy the kingdom of Delthar and become the sole ruler of the Star Kingdoms. The arrival of Halzunthram in Old Alphatia enables Alphaks to track the Alphatians on Mystara and reach this world74. This Immortal is the only addition to the ranks of the Sphere of Entropy in more than a millennium. The Entropics give Alphaks a wide grade of autonomy in plotting the demise of the hated descendants of those who exiled him.

AC 945: The Omen of the Old Ones appears in the region of the Vortex corresponding to Mystara and its solar system. The Omen looks like a malevolent humanoid eye surrounded by a huge grey, swirling storm whose ripples menace the disruption of the fabric of magic in this part of the Prime Plane. At the same instant of the appearance of the Eye, Rheddrian Benekander is freed from the mirror device that imprisoned his essence in the last millennia.

AC 946: The storm in the Vortex related to the Omen is abated thanks to Immortal intervention, but the Eye at the center of the storm does not dissipate.

AC 965: Knowledge of the Polar Openings is brought to the Alphatian Empire through the voyage of Prince Haldemar. The Alphatian arch-mage Black Zama suggests enhancing Alphatian exploration and colonization of northern Norwold and polar regions.

AC 970: Rise of the new island of Alphaks’ Volcano from the waters west of mainland Alphatia75. It soon becomes the main base of operations for Alphaks’ minions throughout the world.

AC 974: The Olympians try to impose the direct governance of mortals on Mystara, establishing a settlement on a mountain in the southern Broken Lands and killing mortals who oppose them. The Olympians are imprisoned by agents of the Sphere of Entropy led by Night, who intends to execute them against the Immortal Law. The Olympians are rescued and severely condemned. Most of their churches and cults on Mystara are removed and replaced with false memories. This operation is made at the expense of Night’s own power to punish him for her attempt to kill other Immortals.

AC 975: Corwyn Mauntea and King Thar rise to power in Darokin and the Broken Lands respectively after the previous leaders of these countries were killed by the Olympians the year before. False memories provided by the Immortals hide these killings under other fabricated causes of death. The Immortal Lornasen disappears while exploring alone the Stellar Cluster of Goanth. As she did not talk about her destination, and all attempts to locate or communicate with her are impossible, she is soon considered missing.

AC 991: The Planar Charm appears in front of the Eye. It grants to any mortal wearer total invisibility from Immortal view and screening. Moreover the use of its gifts drains power from a random Immortal or Immortal creation, with the adverse effect that the wearer briefly become visible to Immortals. Before the other Immortals are aware of its existance the charm is stolen by Atzanteotl and given to the powerful Alphatian arch-mage Reddican to foster chaos and corruption among the Alphatian mages.

AC 993: The Massacre of Castle Qain. Alphatian Council member Reddican and a dozen of other powerful arch-mages of Blackheart fight and kill each other over the possession of the Planar Charm. In the end the Charm is taken by a humble servant of Reddican, pregnant with the arch-mage’s son.

AC 996: Agents of the Clique of Nightmare murder Krugar Khan, Marik of Glevum and Black Zama all of them candidates to Immortality. The murder of Krugar Khan paves the way for the rise of Moglai Khan in the Ethengar Steppes.

AC 998: Mazikeen of the Clique of Nightmare has second thoughts on the murder of mortal candidates and is incapacitated by Pharamond, the leader of the Clique. An early start of the Great War envisioned by Alphaks, and centered around the rivalry between the Alphatian kingdoms of Norwold and Qeodhar, is defused by a party of Norwold barons led by the Immortals Koryis and Vanya76.

AC 999: Alphaks inspires the War of the Crown in Norwold, most of the Thyatian army is dispatched in Norwold and on the Isle of Dawn. Helskir declares its independence from both empires and its ruler is tricked by Alphaks into seeking his ‘protection’77. A large host of trolls assembles under the leadership of troll leader Grizzok and marches toward Biazzan. Aline, Charek and Dernfara exit the time machine and stop the trolls at the Battle of Shillabeer Gap. Attempted murders of the three heroes by the Clique of Nightmare are averted by a group of Immortals and the Clique is dissolved. Aline, Charek and Dernfara lead some reserve units of the Thyatian army and manage to defeat the trolls. Shortly after they depart again in their time machine.

AC 1000: In Pandius the final confrontation between Rad and Ixion on the correct use of the Radiance lead to the creation of the factions of Ring of Fire and the Fellowship of the Star, beginning the events of the Wrath of the Immortals.

AC 1001: Empress Eriadna of Alphatia organizes a large nighttime airship-borne raid of high-level adventurers led by her own son Zandor in order to destroy Alphaks' Volcano. The raid is largely successful. As a retaliatory measure, Alphaks sends a horde of sea-monsters out of the water and into the city of Aasla, to kill as many as possible78.

AC 1001/1002: Empress Eriadna sends a large diplomatic party to Thyatis in order to stop clashes on the Isle of Dawn79 and arranges a peace conference between Thyatis and Alphatia80. As Helskir declares its independence from both empires a joint Alphatian / Thyatian military expedition and a split of the city between the two empires is organized. The whole population of Helskir is temporarily turned into monsters by Alphaks and is successfully taken by the two armies only after a hard fight. A group of Norwold barons is then sent to the ancient Library of Edairo to collect evidence about past possession of Norwold by Alphatia as the peace talks are being organized.

AC 1002: Nyx / Night attempts to sabotage the peace talks ongoing in Helskir between the Empires of Thyatis and Alphatia over the fate of Norwold and surrounding territories. A party of adventurers led by Koryis manages to foil Night’s plot and banish from Mystara (likely for a limited amount of time) his ally Aracne Prima. Following this stroke the Great War is briefly averted, while Night loses his status as full hierarch of the Sphere of Entropy, substituted by Thanatos.

AC 1004/1005: Thanatos sets in motion his long-planned plot to stir the minds of the mortals of Mystara by corrupting the light of the Hollow World and by partially awakening some of the Great Annelids paralyzed in the depths of Mystara’s crust. He even manages to trick the rest of the Immortals into reaching the past of Mystara to check alleged modifications to the source of the Radiance. In this way he cuts a whole month in which he is the sole Immortal active on Mystara, having bested the Immortal Asterius who was placed as a guardian of the return point in time. During the Month of Thanatos the Great War is fully unleashed as the Empire of Alphatia declares war on Glantri, the Empire of Thyatis declares war on Alphatia and the Master of Hule invades Sind. Once discovered, Thanatos flee into the forbidding external plane of the Nightstorm, but he is defeated and brought to Immortals’ trial by a group of mortals temporarily imbued with Immortal powers. Following the trial and the loss of power in the Nightstorm Thanatos loses full hierarch status, substituted by Hel.

AC 1009: At the end of the events of the Wrath of the Immortals mainland Alphatia is broken by earthquakes and sinks into the waves. An Envoy of the Old Ones disables the artifact used by Rad to destroy Alphatia and exiles both Ixion and Rad. He then alters the Nucleus of the Spheres so that the device removes Entropy from Mystara at a constant rate. At the same time of the intervention of the Emissary the ancient Immortal Gareth is released from the Vortex by the Eye; Loki is on watch duty on the Omen and is the only witness to the event, which he keeps to himself.

AC 1010: An exploration party of diaboli reaches Mystara from the Nightmare Dimension. They originally appear in Ierendi but later manage to persuade king Ericall to settle in Norwold, guarding a magical gate north of Regents’ Pass. This is part of the revised and sanctioned project of Pharamond to foster new Nightmare candidates to Immortality, this time under the patronage of his old mentor Razud.

AC 1011: Gareth, the Returned from the Vortex, first shows himself and starts building a followers’ base in the land of Sind, where it is easier to establish a new cult. He promotes a new way in the relationships between mortals and Immortals, to prevent further manipulations of mortals by scheming Immortals.

AC 1014: Lornasen returns back from the Stellar Cluster of Goanth reporting that chaos is now the dominant element in that region and that a tendril of such chaos is moving toward Mystara, attracted by the unbalance of the elements caused by the Nucleus of the Spheres’ drainage of Entropy.

AC 1015: Noumena’s plea to the Old Immortals of the Good People. They agree to help her against the approaching chaos and recreate part of their ancient Immortal identities by sending into slumber one in ten of their mortal incarnations.

AC 1045: Expected date of full encroachment of Mystara solar system by the tendril of chaos. It is widely suspected it will happen exactly 100 years after the appearance of the Omen of the Old Ones in the Vortex.

The Old Immortals and the Good People

According to the PC1 module the Good People are the reincarnated spirits of ancient Immortals who existed when the Multiverse was governed by chaos and a single Sphere, called the Sphere of Integration, opposed the dominant entropic forces. When the Multiverse shifted to the current arrangement of Powers the old Immortals of Integration, who fostered the birth of the current world and encouraged the ascent of modern Immortals, decided to disperse their own essences in the mortal world, creating the races of the Good People. As it is part of an Immortal being, a member of the Good People never truly dies but, simply, reincarnates in a new body after a proper amount of time.

In this article it is assumed that every race of the Good People is actually made up of the mortal ‘shards’ of a single Old Immortal, carrying the same name of the race it gave birth to. So, for example, a single flitterling is nothing but a tiny fragment of the soul of the Old Immortal Lord Flitterling. Compare it with the rule of creation of an avatar described in the Immortal Set and in WotI, only multiplied a thousandfold, with each avatar having a thousandth of the average power described in the rules.

This change explains the somewhat odd circumstances in which currently on Mystara there are thousands over thousands of the Good People and only a few hundreds of ‘new’ Immortals, which are listed in WotI and in the fan-made Codex Immortalis. The assumption is that instead of a single ancient Immortal becoming one of the Good People, they instead split their power amongst thousands of newly formed individuals.

Some of the Old Immortals of the Good People are (but the list is not limited to them): Lady Pixie, the three Lord Imps (Garden, Wood and Bog), Lord Leprechaun, Lady Nixie, Lord Flitterling, Lord Pooka, Lord Brownie, Lord Mandrake, Lady Woodrake, Lord Coldrake, Lord Shargugh, Lady Coltpixy and Lady Sprite.

Usually a single member of the Good People is not aware of being part of a single Immortal and thinks of itself as an individual, albeit odd effects could arise if two members of the same race join their magical power. Moreover, a member of a race of the Good People will never intentionally kill another member of the same race. A single member of the Good People may also acquire power and status (thus explaining the kings and queens of the fairy folk) but this power is either gained at the expenses of some dead shard of its own kin (i.e. a ‘king’ retains the powers of a few ‘commoners’ who merged with him when they ‘died’) or they are taken from the surrounding world (thus explaining the gain of experience of Good People PCs in the PC1 supplement). As the Old Immortals are not actually seeking new power most often than not such extra power gained by an individual is discarded back to Mystara when the individual dies.

Under rare circumstances, such as the summoning ceremony in the Mound of the Sleeping Stones, it is possible to reassemble part of the consciousness of the Old Immortal. When the Old Immortal is awake a small part of his individuals (possibly one in a hundred) is put into a deep slumber and nurtured by the others of his kin. Those ‘chosen’ for the ‘sleep of the Immortals’ awake anew when the Old Immortal conscience disperses again and they may retain some fragmented memories of the actions taken by the Old Immortal when he was awake.

The Mound of the Sleeping Stones

[Image: Mound of the Sleeping Stones]

This is one of the few places on Mystara where the Old Immortals keep haring. It is located deep in the Great Olde Woode, and it is known also as ‘the Everwood’, because the forest surrounding the sacred Mound has always been there irrespective of the cataclysms that affected Mystara over the ages.

The Mound of the Sleeping Stones is located some 30 miles north of the camp of Foredhon81, in a place where the forest is thickest and unsettled by civilized races. The mound is on the top of a 5 mile-wide hill surrounded on three sides by a meander of the deep and turbulent river Elkinn. The eastern side is the only one which could be reached without crossing the river. Here the hills rise abruptly in a steep and towering peak a half mile high which overlooks this part of the forest and acts as a reference point for those wishing to reach the sacred place.

[Image: Map to the Mound]

The Mound is defended by many servants of the Old Immortals (treat them as exalted beings) with their progeny (who are instead common creatures). They are in charge of repelling thieves and hostile beings and they allow access to the inner circle of menhirs only during the Hearing Day of the Good People, which happens on the seventh full moon of every year. Only those deemed of peaceful intent and with proper gifts for the Immortals are allowed to enter. The pilgrims are usually commanded to leave by the next morning.

Sheafeash, an exalted agarak is in command of the ring of her scions who surround the mound at a distance of about a mile.

Gorom is an exalted dire wolf who patrols the thick forest with his pack, up to a distance of 15 miles from the Mound.

Lophasia is an exalted gargantua82 (a giant fish resembling a carp) who roams the Elkinn river with her school up to the borders of the Great Olde Woode.

Rarcheak is an exalted Roc who resides on top of the northern peak and patrols the skies with his flock to detect potential menaces and swiftly take care of defilers.

No more than a single group of pilgrims is accepted at every audience. If more than one group shows up at the same time, then only the first which manages to pass the scrutiny of the guardians is allowed to enter. Two groups with different agendas could merge before meeting the first guardian. A maximum of ten people is allowed in the Mound at the same time.

Once accepted by the guardians the pilgrims must reach the center of the mound before sunset, a clearing in the thick forest surrounded by a few dozens of menhirs. Many of them are broken, half buried or covered with vegetation to the point that some of them are not recognizable as sacred stones. These correspond to Old Immortals long forgotten, disappeared from Mystara or who do not have a high representation of avatars in this part of the world at this time. Nevertheless some 15 - 20 menhirs are in good shape and easily recognizable. With the proper knowledge of Good People traditions it is possible to associate each of these menhir to a specific race and to the corresponding Old Immortal.

Also before sunset the pilgrims wishing to summon a specific Old Immortal must place their gift on the corresponding menhir and their leader must pronounce a short, ritualistic plea in the language of the race of the Old Immortal which should also include the broad reason for the audience (i.e. a request for help, advice, lore, and so on). The member of the group who first pronounces the plea is the one who will be identified as the leader of the group by the Old Immortals.

The gift must be a single item, extremely precious (at least 250,000 GP83), of exquisite crafting and, if possible, possessing some magical powers and at least a minor curse84. It is possible to try to summon more than an Immortal at a time, although the number of gifts increases in proportion.

Before their appearance, the summoned Immortals will secretly evaluate the soul and the motivation of the leader and of the rest of the group and, if displeased, they will not show up. Any gift will disappear when the moon reaches its zenith and will be stored in the great subterranean chamber of treasures that stands below the mound. At this point the group is usually banished from the Mound by the guardians.

If the petitioners are deemed worthy - when the full moon is at its zenith - one or more of the summoned Immortals will appear. At the same time all gifts will disappear from the menhirs they were placed on and magically be transferred into the subterranean treasure room. This applies also to the gifts placed on stones of Old Immortals who decided not to show up. An eerie green light covers the whole clearing, preventing any view from the outside. Any speech or noise from the inside is also shielded; moreover it is impossible for mortals to cross the boundary of the green light, even with magic more powerful than a wish. The exalted guardians are free to cross the green light boundary if asked so by the Old Immortals.

The Old Immortals will emanate the same awe-inspiring aura surrounding ‘standard’ Immortals; the broken and derelict menhirs usually shield part of this aura so the petitioners might prefer to stand in these places. A mortal who tries to bear the effect of the Immortal aura during the conversation is much appreciated by the Good People.

The Old Immortals will usually start the conversation by asking the pilgrims to narrate the story which lead them to the Mound, often interrupting with their own questions and caustic remarks. Only after the tale is finished the Old Immortals will start answering the question of the petitioners, their mood greatly influenced by the story they heard and by the way it was narrated.

Depending on the subject of conversation the Old Immortals may answer with riddles and cryptic messages, or provide a clear explanation, or jump from one style to another. Irrespective of the style of conversation, the Old Immortals will never lie to the petitioners.

At the end of the meeting a particularly worthy or needy mortal may be gifted with one of the treasures taken from the subterranean chamber with some warning about the curse placed on the object.

The Old Immortals will disappear no later than the next dawn, albeit they may chose to end the audience at any time. There is no limit to the number of visits to the Mound a mortal may take in the following years but, if the subsequent meetings are made for petty subjects the Old Immortals will stop showing up and will instruct their guardians to shoo the nuisances on sight.

Appendix: Images

[Image: Title]

Soul Eye by geralt, 2015 [CC0 Creative Commons] via pixabay

[Image: Hsiao in Flight]

Predator Flight Wildlife Nature Bird Portrait Owl [CC0 Public Domain ] via Max Pixel

[Image: Imp of the Gardens]

Green fairy statue in the forest, 2017 [CC Public Domain] via pxhere

[Image: Lady Nixie]

Swim Sea Water Mystical Wave Sirens Mermaid [CC0 Public Domain] via Max Pixel

[Image: Lady Pixie]

Fairy-fantasy-flower-glow-light by ArtsyBee, 2016 [CC0 Creative Commons] via pixabay

[Image: Lord Leprechaun]

Fantasy-Abstract-Green-Forest-Creatures-Garments [CC0 Public Domain] via Max Pixel

[Image: Star Cluster of Goanth]

LH 95 stellar nursery in the Large Magellanic Cloud, NASA 2006 [Public domain] via Wikimedia Commons

[Image: The Eye in the Vortex]

Modified from Comets Kick up Dust in Helix Nebula by NASA [Public domain] via Jet Propulsion Laboratory [NASA Usage Guidelines]

[See below, image pasted into article]

[Image: Involved Immortals]

Involved Immortals by Michele C [used by permission of the artist]

[See below, image pasted into article]

[Image: Mound of the Sleeping Stones]

Trédion-la Loge-au-Loup [Creative Commons Attribution - ShareAlike 3.0] via Wikimedia Commons

[Image: Map to the Mound]

Mound of the Sleeping Stones and Surroundings by Michele C [used by permission of the artist]

[See below, image pasted into article]

[Image: Involved Immortals]


1Hsiaos are a somewhat common sight acting as servants and advisors of Immortals (and especially of the Sphere of Thought) according to PC1 page 14.

2The three Fallen mentioned here are the Immortals related to Wood Imps, Bog Imps and Garden Imps (see PC1 page 18 for details). It is implied here that they are not the only Immortals of the Age of Chaos who were corrupted by Entropy.

3According to PC1 page 23 most of the Immortals currently active on Mystara follow a previous generation of Immortals who were created when chaos was the dominant force of the Multiverse (opposed to life, which is the dominant force during the present times). Many of these Immortals of Chaos promoted the rise of the power of life in the Multiverse and when Chaos was not the dominant force anymore, dispersed their essences into the Fair Folk races (aka the Good People) to leave room for the new generation of Immortals, who here are called Children of Life..

4Reference here is to re-creation of metropolitan Alphatia by the Immortals at the end of the events of the Wrath of the Immortals boxed set (AC 1009). The land was turned into a floating continent and placed in the Hollow World inside Mystara, which is lit by a magical red sun. All the inhabitants who were killed at the moment of Alphatia’s destruction were resurrected and placed in the floating continent, including also all representatives of the Fair Folk living on the continent when the disaster struck.

5Here the appearance of the Omen is set in AC 945, mostly to create a suitable time frame for IM2 and IM3 events inside Mystara’s history. In this article it is assumed that:

- IM1 happens in AC 945-946 (basically to prompt the cleric Aline Sigbert of IM3 to start her own quest for Immortality leaving back a young Thrainkell Torson who, after a few years, moves to Thyatis City and becomes a gladiator)

- IM2 in AC 974 (in AC 975 there are changes in the government of both Darokin and the Broken Lands, a possible consequences of the events of the module)

- IM3 between AC 996 (murders of Krugar Khan, Marik of Glevum and Black Zama) and AC 999 (battle of Shillabeer Gap, assuming Thincol is fighting the War of the Crown in Norwold and Aline travelled through time as part of her quest for Immortality to help him)

6Actually no precise time limit is provided in IM1 module before the maelstrom would destroy the magic field of Mystara. Here a one year time limit is provided to highlight the Omen of the Old Ones was sent to specifically affect Mystara and its immediate surroundings.

7Pandius is the city of the Immortals of Mystara, invisible and unreachable by mortals, built on the largest moon of its planet. In Pandius the Immortals assemble to interact and discuss important matters pertaining to the mortal world below them.

8See the Dragonlord of Mystara trilogy (novels).

9This name was established in WotI: Codex of the Immortals page 12.

10In IM1 module he is presented as Solarios, which is another name by which Ixion is called.

11This is not explicitly stated in the module IM1 but it can be inferred by the events at the end of the adventure (IM1 page 36) as the storm increases its speed the moment hierarch with the assembled artifact starts spending power to activate the artifact itself. The assumption above justifies the actions of the hierarchs at the beginning of the module: seeing that using power directly against the storm is detrimental they prefer to abandon the place leaving just Noumena to watch over the Eye and study it.

12No portfolios are given in IM1 for the Novice PC Immortals who take part in the mission, only the Entropic NPC Drekk is loosely described. A possible choice would be to use part of the Immortals who will later make up the group of the Olympians. Their concern over the Omen and their use of the mythology of ancient Greece, can be explained by them visiting the technologically alternate Earth of the ‘80s. Possible choices for the PCs Immortals could be: Turmis (Thought), Lokena (Matter), Bemarris (Energy) and Taroyas (Time).

13The group of Novices of IM1 module actually do not have any established name. Here a name for the party is suggested as from WotI it seems that groups (Cliques and Councils) of Immortals usually provide a name to their assembly.

14In HWA3 module (page 48 and following) the flow of time itself is represented as the Emerald River, a metaspace which can be accessed by the Immortals to reach or observe different epochs. Here this concept is further complicated by adding the feature of the Delta of Time: from any entry point to the Emerald River the past appears as a single linear flow, while the future is an expanding fan of interwoven channels similar to a river delta or a swamp. The delta represents the sum of all the possible futures from the perspective of the observer. The Immortals of the Sphere of Time are the most familiar with the Emerald River and the Delta of Time and routinely go through them trying to gather information about the future or influence the events.

15For information about Immortals’ cliques see WotI Codex of the Immortals, page 11.

16What follows is a summarization of the events described in IM2 adventure module.

17Actually in the IM2 module there is no mention of any rebellion of the humanoids of the Broken Lands against the Immortal Olympians but, given the fact that Mount Olympus was created in the humanoid territory, it seem a reasonable assumption. The timeline suggested in this article for IM2 (AC 974) could provide some background for the rise of Thar as the leader of the Broken Lands the following year: many powerful humanoid leaders of the Broken Lands could have been slaughtered by the Olympians when the denizens of the Broken Lands tried to conquer the Immortals’ seat of power.

18According to IM2 page 2, the Immortal Talitha, follower of Night, released a demon with the visage of the mythological titan Prometheus to further torment the imprisoned Olympians.

19The name of this group of Immortals is not official, it is added here to better identify them, also according to the norm of naming associations and cliques of Immortals described in WotI “Codex of the Immortals” book.

20What follows is a way to reconcile the different way dragons ascend to Immortality according to WotI / Dragonlord Trilogy and according to AC9 / Dragon Magazine #170. A dramatic event is added here to explain the apparent discrepancy among the various sources.

21Reference here is to the essence of Wooddrakes, of Coldrakes and the Four Elemental drakes, which together form the races of drakes among the Good People.

22The Path of Sublimation is described in AC10 module “Bestiary of Dragons and Giants” and updated in Dragon Magazine #170 article “From Hatchling to Immortal Guardian”. In both sources it is established that a dragon may reach Immortality in one of the Planes of the Draconic Cluster (see Immortal Set for further info) by reaching a proper size and collecting a suitable amount of treasure which is then sacrificed during the Ceremony of Sublimation. This path to Immortality is pretty different from the usual sponsorship and test of mortal candidates described in the Master Set and WotI. Nevertheless in WotI it seems that the Great One - which, according to the Dragonlord Trilogy, was sponsored by Terra around BC3200 - actually sponsored the three Draconic Rulers (Opal, Diamond and Pearl) starting from AC500 onwards.

23The Draconic Cluster.

24See the Dragonlord Trilogy for further details. The war between the Blackmoorians and dragons happened around BC 3200 and almost drove the dragons to extinction on Mystara, as the dragons were no match for the techno-magical devices wore by the Dragonlord, a Blackmoorish hero of awesome power. The war itself was initiated by the exiled gemstone dragons as a revenge against their chromatic cousins and it was stopped only thanks to the peaceful talks between Blackmoor and the dragons initiated by the Old One himself under the sponsorship of Terra and other Immortals.

25According to the Immortal Set Dragons are one of the three leading forces of the Multiverse, the others being the Immortals and the Draedens.

26What follows is an attempt to include the events of “Son of Dawn” novel into a larger picture of Mystaran events. In the novel Planar Charm is a puzzle also for the Immortals of magic as they do to understand its working principle and how to control it. Even Thanatos and Atzanteotl who apparently discovered the artifact do not know anything about its origin or true powers, being content to throw it in the mortal world to cause havoc and disruption. Here the appearance of the Planar Charm is connected to the Omen of the Old Ones, to justify the unintelligibility of the artifact and its powers, who seems to be made to defy Immortal control.

27In “Son of Dawn” novel the Massacre of Castle Qain happens in AC 993. Here the appearance of the Planar Charm is assumed to happen a couple of years before the Massacre to give time to Atzanteotl to move the Charm to Mystara and to let Reddican establish his secret sect of unlimited power. The Massacre cannot happen much after the establishment of the sect as the victim arch-mage would have noted pretty soon the drainage of their own powers.

28Some of these dead arch-mages mentioned in “Son of Dawn” novel are Solclow, Verchan and Melina (a female). Some mentioned arch-mages surviving the Massacre are Chalmis, Orvan and Lavar.

29The novel tell that Easir fled to Trikelios with the help of her friend, an old hunched back mage called Withis Curan. There she gave birth to her son and died during childbirth. Withis named the boy Davonin (meaning “destiny” in elvish language” and then moved to a secluded farm in the southernmost part of the Great Escarpment to care for the boy and let him grow in relative safety.

30The events of the bulk of “Son of Dawn” novel took place around AC 1010.

31All these disruption events are described in the Son of Dawn novel. Among the known powers of the Planar Charm used in the novel are: a magical light, some kind of permanent anti-magic aura for a short radius around the wielder, a spell-reflection power which seems to work following a command word, and truesight.

32Struth the Shaker, a former Alphatian Council magic user stranded on the Known World after being wounded during the magical bombardment of Glantri City at the end of AC 1009. He is the main antagonist in “Son of Dawn” novel.

33What follows summarizes the events of IM3 module.

34This group does not actually have a proper name in IM3 but “Nightmare Clique” seems a obvious choice.

35Reference here is to the establishment of the colony of diaboli of Redhorn in the Peninsula of Alpha (Norwold), at the end of AC 1010 (see PWAI for details). While this settlement is established some 40 years after the events of IM3 (by using the timeline suggested in this article) it is possible that this is a long-term effect of the actions set in motion by the Nightmare Clique.

36What follows are inferences on a possible, different course of events for the Known World and Alphatia assuming the three leaders were not killed in AC 996 (according to the internal timeline of this article). The idea is that if the three leaders were not killed then the most devastating events of WotI would not have happened.

37The Ethengar influence over the Kingdom of Vestland and its incoming invasion is depicted throughout X3 module “Curse of Xanathon” especially on pages 3, 4 and 7.

38Reference here is to the lack of support to the Ethengarians by the Flaems during the attack of the gemstone dragons on Mystara around AC 510 described in the Dragonlord Trilogy books. The gemstone dragons burned the Ethengar Steppes causing a famine among its inhabitants. The Ethengarians asked for help from the allied Flaems but they refused, as they were themselves busy in fighting the gemstone dragon menace. This event is at the origin of the Ethengarian hostility against the people of Glantri.

39This is an assumption achieved by matching GAZ12 timeline with IM3 introductory events. According to GAZ 12 timeline (page 5) Moglai Khan start his rise to power by accepting to aid the Taijit clan after they were defeated attacking the Yakka clan. The idea is that Krugar Khan was the leader of the Taijit, who just started to unite the tribes of the steppes on his own but was killed by the Immortals of Pharamond’s clique during his campaign against the Yakkas. Without their inspiring leader the Taikit lost the war and were forced to ask for help from the Murkit clan of Moglai Khan.

40In IM3 module Black Zama’s nationality is never stated, nor his specialization in magic of darkness, although in IM3 it is specified his tower is most active during moonless nights and even his nickname “black” might be inspired by a fascination for night. Here he is conveniently assumed to be an Alphatian mage for dramatic effect.

41These reports are those described in the “Voyage of the Princess Ark” by the Alphatian Prince Haldemar of Haaken who both visited the island of Oceania and crossed the southern Polar Opening, giving a description of them in AC 964. Parts of these reports were sent to the Imperial Court through a “scroll of communication” before Haldemar and his flying ship were sent 40 years into the future by one of the night dragons.

42Grillanbulis is an enemy of Black Zama according to IM3 module page 2. His Thyatian past and the hate of his own people is added here to create a dramatic element contributing to the Alphatians decision to declare war on the Thyatian Empire.

43Meister Silbergeld is the leader of the fleet of Minrothaddan ships which transports the Thonian Raiders to various location in Norwold during the Thyatian invasion. See M2 module page 22 for details.

44According to M2 army roster of page 22 the Thonian Raiders are the most powerful land unit of the whole war. They are also a large unit of 5000 horsemen and pegataurs. Without their contribution to the war the mercenary forces of Norlan are greatly diminished in power and they do not represent a big menace to the forces of Norwold. The Thyatian invaders allied with Norlan, of course, are a different matter.

45The setting of these talks is described on M5 module.

46This is the last war between the Empires of Alphatia and Thyatis described in WotI.

47In the fan-made Codex Immortalis Aline reaches Immortality with the new name of Liena in AC 980. Here instead it is assumed she is still travelling through time as part of her test of Immortality as of AC 998-999.

48In IM3 module Aline is described as “Daughter of Apollo” while Charek is “The Sword of Ares” so it is possible to connect their honorary titles to the Olympian Immortals of IM2. The idea here is that Aline, Charek and, likely, Dernfara, were sponsored by the Olympians and travelled through time for their test of Immortality before the churches of the Olympians were largely removed from Mystara following the events of IM2 module. Due to the reality shift operated by the Immortals to punish the Olympians, when the heroes reappeared in the Known World they discovered their churches were mostly disappeared, with most of their priests and devotees devoid of any knowledge of the Olympians and now following other beliefs and Immortals.

49These are the PCs of IM3 module.

50This event actually is not part of the IM3 module but it could be a nice add-on for the adventure as it represent a hard choice for the PCs involved. It also set the importance of the battle of Shillabeer Gap as an underrated pivotal point for this part of Mystara on the eve of WotI events.

51This could be the same joined Darokinian-Thyatian all-out campaign against the humanoids scheduled for AC 1020 in GAZ10 (see DM’s booklet, page 4), only anticipated some 20 years earlier.

52Vanya is actually also sponsoring the crown of Norwold against the Alphatians, as stated in M1 module, where the canonical ending scores a victory for her against Koryis and Alphaks. She then moves the PCs back in time to an alternate and more peaceful timeline where the events leading to M1 adventure are averted and, possibly, the start of the Great War is delayed. In this article it is assumed that Vanya is actually trying to avoid the Great War or, at least, to minimize its consequences, going as far as allying with the traditional enemies of her proteges.

53This ending is depicted on page 47 of IM3. Razud was the Immortal sponsor of Pharamond according to the fan-made Codex Immortalis. The establishment of the colony of diaboli of Redhorn in Norwold described in PWA I could well be a consequence of Pharamond’s new project.

54As per “WotI: Codex of the Immortals” a stroke is the loss in power suffered by an Immortal after the failure of some of its project, usually due to the counter-actions of other Immortals. According to the epilogue of IM2 Night suffered a major penalty due to his interference in the administration of Immortal justice.

55According to the fan-made “Codex Immortalis” by Marco Dalmonte the only Immortal ascended in the Sphere of Entropy since the foundation of the Empire of Thyatis is Alphaks, and he was not sponsored on Mystara.

56See “WotI: Codex of the Immortals” page 14 and “DotE: Player’s Guide to Alphatia” page 15. The exact date of arrival of Alphaks in Mystara is not known, here it is assumed Alphaks managed to reach the Glantrians and Alphatians on Mystara following the extraplanar path traced by Halzunthram when he fled Glantri in AC 828. Here it is also assumed that the superior power produced by the Radiance was able to break the “faraway cage” in which Alphaks was imprisoned and where he managed to reach Immortality.

57The fate of Halzunthram after his defeat in Glantri in AC 828 is never stated in the official supplements. Nevertheless a mage with the same name is found in M1 module posing as the leaders of the Gammarians of Old Alphatia. The Gammarians are the descendants of the Followers of the Air who did not migrate to Mystara. Here it is assumed that the Halzunthram found in M1 is the same character who fled Glantri. Moreover the honorary title of this mage in Old Alphatia is “His Radiance”, suggesting he should know about the eldritch source of power buried beneath Glantri City - after all, his arch-enemy Lord Alexander Glantri knew for sure about this power as at the end of WotI a large statue with a commemorative writing mentioning Lord Glantri is found inside the Chamber of the Stars.

58These events are described in detail in M5 module.

59A detailed description of Thanatos plot is described in HWA1 pages 2 and 3.

60The four hierarchs are Ka the Preserver, Ixion, Terra and Korotiku; together they form the Council of the Hollow World.

61The HWA Trilogy is intentionally vague about the corrupting effects of the Smoking Mirror which tainted the light of the Hollow World sun. In HWA3 (page 59) it is said that some residual, temporary consequences of this taint in the Hollow World - after the Smoking Mirror is destroyed - are rather mild effects like “an increased exploitation of the land and the presence of individuals who seem little affected by the Spell of Preservation”. In the trilogy it is said that even Thanatos does not know the consequences of this corruption and he set in motion the whole thing just for the sake of spreading chaos both in the Hollow World and Outer World. Here it is given some rationale for Thanatos’ actions by assuming that such a long-term and convoluted plan had actually the final scope to precipitate the Great War among mortal nations.

62This is an inference to explain how the Alphatians managed to dig a thousand-miles deep tunnel to the Hollow World in just 4-5 years (between AC 1000 and AC 1004) and how they do not manage to rebuild it anew after its collapse during the sinking of Alphatia at the end of AC 1009. If most of the tunnel was actually dug by the great annelids to bring the effects of the corrupting light to Alphatia then the whole project to establish an Alphatian colony in the Hollow World was actually encouraged by Thanatos.

63What follows summarizes the background of the events of DDA1 and DDA2 modules.

64The exact time in the past where Thanatos sent the rest of the Immortals is never explicitly stated in HWA modules. Here a suitable arrival point is presented, connecting the events of the HWAs with WotI and with the DA modules, especially with the crashing of the Beagle spaceship (which is at the origin of the creation of the Nucleus of the Sphere and the Radiance) and with the creation of the Well of the Souls in DA4 module, which could be one of the causes that could have led the Immortals back in time to investigate.

65This is to explain why Noumena is listed as Full Hierarch (36th Immortal level) in IM3 module while she is only a 34th level hierarch in WotI. After this event Odin becomes the Full Hierarch of the Sphere of Thought. The drainage of power could also explain why Thanatos and many of the most prominent Immortals of Pandius take a low profile during the events of WotI. If they lost part of their powers in the Nightstorm they should be mostly concerned by their recovery and cannot participate to a large extent to the events unfolding in the mortal world.

66According to WotI the full Hierarch of Entropy as of AC 1000 is Hel, while Thanatos is a 35th level hierarch.

67A suitable placement for the Month of Thanatos could be Thaumont (month 3) of AC 1005, with the subtle mind-altering effects of the Burrowers becoming more and more apparent in the previous months - albeit masked by the actions of the other Immortals involved in the events of WotI. According to WotI “The Immortal’s Fury” pages 77-78, the spring of AC 1005 marks both the beginning of the war between Alphatia and the Glantri -Thyatis - Heldann alliance and also the sudden invasion of Sind by the Master of Hule, which is just a prelude of the invasion of Darokin. Both events could be triggered during the “Month of Thanatos”; in particular the Master’s invasion would be engineered by Thanatos and his allies (Atzanteotl and Loki, see also the reference in WotI above) to prevent the Darokin Diplomatic Corps from stopping the war between Thyatis and Alphatia.

68This is a different assumption with respect to the Codex Immortalis, where it is stated that Benekander is freed by a group of adventurers in AC 1002. Here it is assumed his liberation involved much greater powers, as his imprisonment was caused by great energies of Immortal level or more.

69Noumena is the discoverer of the Nucleus of the Spheres according to WotI: The Immortals’ Fury book, page 8. Probably the discovery was made not much time before the coming of the Flaems on Mystara (AC 395), as the Flaems intentionally colonized the Glantrian highlands because their leaders detected the Radiance (GKoM and also the Dragonlord Trilogy). It is unlikely the powers of the Radianca became manifest many years before this date otherwise the region of Glantri would have been heavily settled by other people before the Flaemish migration.

70For a possible connection between Gareth and Loki, see PWAII page 175.

71According to IM2 page 30 Lornasen’s personality is the most open to new notions and curiosity among the Immortals of the Wolves of Tartarus so she is the most prone to investigate the sybilline advice given to the party during the events of the IM2 module.

72This event is described in a random encounter of IM2 for the Ethereal or Astral Plane and it is not influential for the success of the PC’s mission. Here this encounter is provided with a more profound meaning in the larger picture of the struggle to solve the mystery of the Omen. The complete description of the encounter as of IM2 (page 22) is as follows: “The fearsome draeden will not attack the party. It will communicate with them, asking them if they have recently been to the Stellar Cluster of Goanth. Assuming the characters plead ignorance, the draeden snorts in exasperation from all 40 of its mouths and streaks off into the blackness of space”.

73Possibly the breach connecting the two epochs moves following the general flow of time, thus preventing travellers from reaching the same point in time twice. So, if the initial alignment of the Comeback Inn connects BC 4004 with AC 999 then the final alignment will connect BC 3998 with AC 1005.

74According to DotE, Player's Guide to Alphatia, page 15 and also WotI Codex of the Immortals page 14 Alphaks arrived on Mystara a few centuries ago. Here it is inferred his arrival coincides with the self-imposed exile of Halzunthram.

75According to DotE, Player’s Guide to Alphatia page 9 the island of Alphaks’ Volcano is less than 30 years old as of AC 1000.

76The events involving Alphaks, Koryis and Vanya are described in M1 module.

77According to DotE as of AC 1000 Helskir has just declared its independence, moreover it is a staging ground for the Thyatian fleet during the War of the Crown, as per M2 module. Protection of Helskir by Alphaks is described in the adventure hook “War Hawks over Helskir” of DotE (page 105).

78These events are described in the adventure hook “Journey to Alphaks’ Volcano” on DotE, page 105. A suitable location in the timeline is between the War of the Crown in Norwold of CM1/M2 modules and the peace talks in Helskir of M5 module.

79Clashes on the Isle of Dawn in AC 1001 beteween the two empires can be inferred by a comparison of the political borders on the Isle of Dawn between the DotE (set in AC 1000) and M5 (sat in AC 1002) modules. These conflicts are also hinted at in the ‘Scenario 5’ adventure hook of CM1.

80This is the prelude to the events of the M5 module while the following events are described in the “War Hawks over Helskir” adventure hook (Dote, page 105).

81See here: for a fan-made reference location of the Great Olde Woode and Foredhon.

82See AC9 Creature Catalogue page 16 for a description of this creature.

83According to the DotE DM’s Book, page 109, an audience with the Emperor of Thyatis would cost some 100,000 GP while, according to WotI (Codex of the Immortals, page 43) in the first, short meeting between a mortal candidate and its potential Immortal sponsor, the mortal candidate should bring a gift worth at least 25,000 GP. So the price asked by the Old Immortals to speak with them for a few hours is not so high.

84The curse reflects the chaotic nature of the Old Immortals, who think the gift is more ‘interesting’ if it possesses some kind of limitation in its use. The curse is usually a single penalty or handicap of the same type of those occurring on Immortal artifacts (see Master Set rulebook) and will never lead the owner of the object to commit actions opposite to the subject’s original nature.