The Night of Falling Aeros
The greatest disaster of the last thousand years, the key events of The Night of Falling Aeros are well known to even the most uneducated of Skai-Roon. A little over 300 years ago, in 3003, the elven aerolith of Khorkhotha had risen to the top of the High Mists and crossed the barrier of silvermist that divided Skai-Roon from Solus. The aerolith caught fire from the radiance and heat, driving the elves deep into the heart of their home to escape certain doom. The death, destruction and burning fires not only stopped the rise of Khorkhotha, it sent the entire aerolith hurtling down towards Oblivion.
On the way down, the massive aerolith of Khorkhotha struck Tauth’Anon, seat of power of the Tiefling Empire in the Middlemists. The impact of Khorkhotha shattered the smaller aerolith of Tauth’Anon into pieces, and killed most of their powerful nobles. The impact barely slowed the elven nation, which passed into the Middlemists, then the Gloom, and finally began to slow as it got to the Deep Mists. But Khorkhotha did not stop quite soon enough – it dipped, for only a moment, into the Smoke of Oblivion. This exposure to Smoke brought the charred and choked elves on the surface back as undead, and froze the land in the image of a burned-out hellscape.
Inside Khorkhotha the elves were protected from the brief dip into Oblivion, but they had already been exposed to long minutes of the wrath of Solus. The skin of each Khorkhothan elf was burned black as night, their hair stained the color of ash, and their very essence turned inside out. Where they had loved light, they now sought darkness, where they respected life they now relished murder, and where they loved natural beauty they now preferred the company of vermin. The Khorkhothan elves had become the first dark elves – the drow.
Renaming their fallen nation ‘Nilshum,’ meaning “edge of Oblivion” in elven, the drow set about rediscovering their world through new eyes.
Far above, in the High Mists, the other elven nations of Andratha and Drisayle witnessed the fall of Khorkhotha with horror. Their slow rise up into the embrace of Solus, which only a short time ago seemed to be a great accomplishment, was now a doom steadily approaching. Meeting to discuss their options, the leaders of the two remaining elven nations disagreed on what to do next, and their anxiety-filled discussions spiraled into the dissolution of the elven compact and the end of the Elven Triune.
Andratha resolved to make slow, measured and careful changes to halt, and then reverse, their rise until they could return to a safe elevation. Cutting back woodlands, sending some elder elven mystics to visit the deva on Paltier, and even transplanting some ancient trees to other unoccupied aeroliths using powerful ritual magic were all tactics they used. Over time their efforts worked, but Andratha got dangerously close to the fire before turning the tide. It has taken them three hundred years, but the Andrathan elves have figured out a balance they can maintain, and have changed many of their long-held traditions to match the needs of their homeland.
But the elven aerolith of Drisayle was higher than Andratha when disaster struck Khorkhotha, and they believed they did not have the time to be careful and nuanced in their approach. The elves of Drisayle did the unthinkable by elven standards – they culled the ancient trees of their oldest woods first, and burned down entire forests. Many Drisaylen elves took to eating meat and used magic to infuse some areas of their home with Smoke – anything they could think of short of torture and murder to slow, and then stop their rise. But it wasn’t quiet enough.
The high forested mountains of Drisayle crossed over into Solus, and caught fire almost instantly, but this proved to be enough to halt their further ascent. Unfortunately the mountain fires spread quickly and swept through a number of elven communities. The fires of Solus even killed an ancient golden wyrm that had slumbered within the mountains for as long as the elves could remember.
The reversal of direction of Drisayle was dramatic, as it lurched and fell down into the Shine. But unlike Khorkhotha, the fall of Drisayle began to slow almost instantly, and as it reached the Middlemists the falling aerolith rose a small distance and then stabilized. The thicker mists helped put out the fires raging through the mountain forests, and the influx of moisture protected the dry grasslands from catching fire from the drifting embers. Within a few days the elves of Drisayle began to pick up the pieces and started to rebuild their homeland.
Upon encountering curious travelers to Drisayle, the elves there introduced themselves as “eladrin.” This simply meant that they were the elves descended from the first ruler of Drisayle, king Adrin, and was what the elves of the Triune did to communicate which aerolith they were from. But to the humans this seemed to be what their race was called, so when they spoke and wrote about the new arrivals to the Middlemists, they were given the name eladrin. Before this point it was exceedingly rare for an elf to come down to the Middlemists, so the ‘eladrin’ seemed to be a new race. This mistake has since been understood by scholars, and even most reasonably educated folk, but the name eladrin stuck to differentiate them from the elves in the High Mists.
The Andratha elves use the term eladrin gladly, for they are loath to call their cousins ‘elves’ after what they were willing to do to save their aerolith. The eladrin, for their part, have also embraced this name as it simply refers to a heritage in which they take great pride.
As the Elven Triune was separated by their fall, the empire of Tauth’Anon was literally torn apart. Up until The Night of Falling Aeros, the tieflings had ruled the Middlemists with an iron fist. Since 2490 the tieflings had been steadily expanding their dominion over the entire region, using their unique airship vessels to move massive amounts of men and war machines quickly to overwhelm their opponents. Over time the lords of Tauth’Anon had taken control of almost every settled aerolith between the Thick and the Shine, enslaving and subjugating all they could find. Only the dragonborn aeroliths had successfully repelled the tiefling armies.
With the sudden loss of Tauth’Anon, the backbone of the tiefling empire was instantly broken, and their subjects rebelled everywhere, seemingly all at once. As each aerolith under the tiefling yolk learned of the destruction of Tauth’Anon, most took it as a sign from Solus that it was time to rise up. There weren’t enough tiefling soldiers to put down all the uprisings, and their leadership was too fractured to bring a focused response to any of them. Within a week of the destruction of Tauth’Anon the tiefling race was forced to retreat to Baeznefel, their only remaining aerolith.
To this day, three hundred years later, the tiefling race is regarded with cold indifference, or outright hostility, by most humans, dwarves, halflings and gnomes – basically everyone they subjugated for five hundred years.
The Night of Falling Aeros marked the destruction of an aerolith, the collapse of an empire, the end of an alliance that had lasted two thousand years, the introduction of elven culture to the Middlemists, and the origin of one of the most dangerous races that ever existed. The aftermath of that night still lingers fresh in many minds to this day.