Adapted Excerpts from the Book of Ardon
The following text is taken from the manual for Crusaders of Might and Magic.
The Modern World
Unfortunately, the Book of Ardon is as inaccurate with regard to the topography of this world as a rumormonger is with the facts! However, since at present there is no stronger resource in print, it will suffice to give you the basics of the 'known' world.
To be succinct, the informal surveys and maps cobbled together of this somewhat archaic atlas agree only on the existence of the realms described below. Though we know of new realms – such as The Glaciers which was, until recently, an unknown region because of its inhospitable climate – such realms do not appear in the Book of Ardon. As I do have personal knowledge of The Glaciers, however, I will add this realm to the descriptions below as well as expanding upon and correcting any misinformation I am certain of.
This fortress connects the two sides of the coastal range (Seabreak Mountains) between the ocean and Duskwood. The site was chosen because of a hidden valley between two impassable mountain ranges. The East and West Keeps guard the entrance to this valley and acts as a gateway through the mountain range. The Keeps are carved from the mountain itself and are set up to defend against attack from either side of each Keep. Recently, the Legion of the Fallen has captured both Keeps of Stronghold.
This immense floating fortress stands as a spectacular beacon of magic and intricate beauty, hovering over the ocean to the west of Stronghold. The powerful magical defenses and high aerial plateau of Citadel make it an island of peace and serenity – protected from the minions of the Legion and the turmoil of the world far below. The proud, strong walls of Citadel make it the perfect headquarters for the Crusade.
A Dwarven complex which has been hollowed out of the Vastness Mountain Range over the course of centuries, Corantha is a monument to dwarven stonemasonry and building technology. A vast, intricate world has been etched out of living stone to make it the largest underground compound in the world. Tunnels and caverns filled with crystals and jewels create a maze of passages un-navigable to all but the dwarves. Incredible dwarven cities fill bolstered caverns thousands of feet high with meticulously chiselled buildings, halls and castles.
This vast, dark wood – filled with thousand year old trees – is arguably the most magnificent in the world. Towering trees and thick foliage block out most of the sunlight while a dense loamy layer of moss, dead leaves and decomposing vegetation muffles sound and emanates the murky fetid, odour of death. A constant drizzle seems to cling and drip from the leaves and lower branches of the trees from the thin mist which hangs perpetually in the stagnant air. Many dark races are rumored to live within this oppressive, foreboding forest (both charted and uncharted), however, confirmed inhabitants to date include only the Dashers and Grubs.
The southern Vastness Mountains prevent the icy, glacial weather from crossing to the northern realms. To the south of these mountains, however, the world is an alien landscape of snow, ice and bitter-cold gales. The Glaciers are actually one of the largest land formations in the world – largely unexplored because of the hostile climate and perilous terrain; however, it is also one of the most beautiful in its own right. Immense ice caverns seemingly carved from the most delicate of crystal, narrow canyons bejeweled with icicles and dappled with blankets of newly fallen snow, the arid plains with their moving drifts, and the glacial coastline with its sheer cliffs and tumbling banks of packed ice. Although beautiful, be forewarned. The Glaciers can also be perilous.
The following text is taken from the manual for Warriors of Might and Magic.
Ardon has always been a land of war...
The wise ones laugh, nod, and say “show me a place that has not seen war, and I will show you a kingdom of fallow fields and dusty winds. Where there are people, there is war.”
But Ardon is different, because Ardon is the realm where the gods war.
And the wisest of the wise do not laugh at all.
Many eons ago, when Ardon was a young land, before the first stones were laid for the first cities... back in those early days the immortal races struggled over Ardon's skies for eternal dominion. It is not that Ardon is so valuable, truthfully, it is just a place where an epic battle once began, and continues to be fought even today.
The oldest of the immortal races is simply called The Ancients, for not even they can remember their beginnings. The Ancients are very much like gods. Their powers are unfathomable, and the spells that they wield are capable of cracking worlds apart.
The ages-old opponents of the Ancients are the Kreegan. These creatures are legendary, and few know which impossibilities are truth, and which are tales for children. It is said that a single footstep of a Kreegan will leave a hole so vast that, when filled with rainwater, it becomes a lake. It is also said a Kreegan is so tall that when it stands upright, it towers above the clouds. Kreegan are similarly rumored to be always hungry, capable and willing to eat entire towns in one meal – cattle, orchards, villagers, huts and all.
Still, even the strongest Kreegan is no match for the very weakest Ancient. Were power alone the determining factor of the war, the Ancients would have claimed right of dominion, and Ardon would have been left in peace ages ago. However, the Kreegan have the advantage of numbers. The Ancients may be more powerful, but there are only a scattered handful of them, while the Kreegan can boast an army that stretches to the very edge of imagination. It is a war of the near-omnipotent against the nigh-infinite, and that precarious balance has been maintained despite the best efforts of either side.
Ardon, meanwhile bears the brunt of the battle, and soon the land and its people must be torn apart in the struggle.
During the untold years of the war that enveloped Ardon, the humble people actually living on the world were rarely considered by either of the immortal fighters. However, one of the all-powerful Ancients occasionally grew curious about the races of the land and would walk among the people. His name was Einar, and he took pity on mankind's desperate plight. The attention of a being as powerful as one of the Ancients can be as much of a curse as a blessing, since at his slightest whim civilizations would fall and rise, and the path of fate would be twisted entirely by the dictates of his desires.
Many legends and myths have grown from these infrequent visits... myths and legends based on true events. Indeed, since the day that Einar cast his eye on the land of Ardon, there have been many epic adventures. No matter how dire the situation, or how mighty the enemy, Einar would always emerge victorious.
The most famous of his escapades was the mighty battle he fought against the behemoth Kreegan named Klayexraan. Songs are sung about how Klayexraan was bent upon feeding his unholy hunger until nothing remained of Ardon but drifting dust and parched rocks. Einar, after a long and magical battle, wove a spell around Klayexraan that lifted him into the sky and sundered him into whirling ribbons of light and sound.
In another place, perhaps, such a victory would be a cause for great celebration. For Ardon, however, joy is always tempered with the bitter knowledge that the war between the gods goes on, and that the fruit of victory always carries the seeds of future battle.
Not all the escapades of Einar are heroic in nature, it should be said. The caprice of such a mighty entity was unpredictable and deadly. He never gave a reason for his actions, and his appearance in town or countryside could mean anything. People might disappear, never to be heard from again. Towns might vanish entirely – or suddenly empty of all life to the smallest creature – only to reappear a century later. The people of Ardon found it best to assume that for every act, destructive or beneficial, there was some reason beyond their understanding.
Far from the warm fields of Ardon there is a place of icy desolation. The few who know it call it Lacathal. It is a frozen ruin of dark ice. Across its great expanse is nothing but jutting cliffs and bottomless crevasses.
This is the home of Daglathor.
All Kreegan leave destruction in their path, but there seems to be a madness to Daglathor's rampages that exceeds anything his brethren achieve. There is a cruelty to his actions, a viciousness to his methods, that the other Kreegan do not have. Perhaps it is fueled by the hunger of having lived in such an inhospitable place. All anyone knows is that the day Daglathor arrived at Ardon, horrors never before imagined became commonplace.
Ardon had always been familiar with fear and destruction. Even Einar, their savior and hero, could be ruthlessly implacable in his desires. But Daglathor was different.
The other marauding Kreegan would descend upon the people of Ardon, using the humans as cattle in feasts that seemed to never end. The survivors would grieve and despair... and eventually, their bleak lives would continue. It was a harsh, brutal life... but it was life.
Daglathor had a power no other Kreegan had. When he held a victim in his hands, it wasn't simply the sustenance of flesh and blood that he sought. From the crushed body of the victim would rise the ephemeral soul of the human, and this, too, Daglathor would consume. Daglathor destroyed the spirit of all he touched. Where Daglathor walked, even Death trembled.
The Ancients launched their attack on this atrocity, and the warrior who led the charge was Einar. Einar, the champion of Ardon, swore that Daglathor would be destroyed for his unspeakable crimes. They met in battle – Ancients against Kreegan, Einar against Daglathor. At the end of battle, Daglathor still remained.
Einar stared at this impossible event. Everyone knew that any single Ancient was vastly more powerful than any single Kreegan. Any yet Daglathor had withstood the might of Einar. Daglathor lived. Einar realized that this Kreegan was using the ethereal power of his victims' souls to withstand the Ancients' might. Einar could not destroy Daglathor.
Fortunately, the heroic Ancient devised a plan. He led his race in an attack against Daglathor, and when that terrible creature was at his weakest, they entombed him deep within a fiery volcano. The mass of the mountain weighs him down, the fire of the volcano is eternal torment, and never-ending hunger keeps Daglathor too weak to escape. Einar declared victory, and returned to fighting the other, more vulnerable, immortals.
Over the centuries, evil wizards have attempted to gain power and knowledge by releasing Daglathor. None has ever survived. Einar had proclaimed – and all sane people believe – that should Daglathor escape, the utter destruction of the world would quickly follow. He is a mad god, and cannot be trusted.
Einar is not a god lost to the mists of time. Scarcely ten years will pass without some interaction between Ardon and his formidable power. In fact, there is more than one account that twenty years ago he walked across the land of Ardon, disguising himself as a handsome young warrior and wooing women across the world.
Many women allowed themselves to be more than wooed. And those who succumbed to the invitation of his intense blue eyes soon found themselves with child. Such things happen in a war-torn world.
Then a priest of Enroth began to prophesy.
Each child born of Einar may aspire to the legacy of the father, but only one will ascend to the Kingdom of the Ancients. This child, either male or female, will stand beside Einar and serve as the eternal guardian and protector of Ardon.
The prophecy added that because Einar did not want his children warring amongst themselves, he cast a protection down upon each of them. The Prophecy of Enroth declares that a child of Einar may never use might or magic to strike a sibling.
Ardon waits to see who the Chosen One shall be...