Dawn of Elements
The Nora surge had filled the land with life. Ancients awoke from its roar; behemoths were conceived in its current of power. The inhabitants of the world prospered from the glorious flow. However, the world's conflict would not rest. The war continued. With their surpluses of Nora, the armies of Wrath and Protectorate brought new weapons to battle. Titans fought beside each faction, lending their enormous size and strength to their allies. Both armies had seen their share of victory and defeat. The Nora surge brought a new age of war.
However, with the flood of excess Nora came something else, something intangible. It was described in many different ways, in many different tongues, but it could only be explained as an instinct. Perhaps it was the way the Nora Miners felt when they hauled carts of precious blue globes to the surface. They felt anxious, threatened by something, incapable of identifying who or what was making them afraid. Perhaps, they thought, it was the Nora itself that growled at them.
Ferocity lurked within the warm glow of the Nora globes. It was something raw, which emanated from every mine in Ironfist. Many workers ceased their efforts, stating that they felt threatened by the unknown force. There were some cases, in which miners cast their pick axes aside and retreated. Soon, the Ironfist coffers began to dwindle; fewer miners were willing to take on the task. King Rulgoth gathered his prized mining company together and spoke to them about their troubles. He spoke in a comforting tone, discounting their fears as the result of fatigue. They had worked their minds raw, he said, and the darkness of the mines was playing tricks on their tired eyes. Despite his best efforts, they could not be consoled. They insisted that there was something down in the mines. To end their hysteria, Rulgoth agreed to send soldiers to investigate.
A team of four soldiers was chosen for the task. They made their way down into the depths of the Ironfist mines, their weapons drawn. As they ventured forward, they were met by the frightening aura. Of the four soldiers, only Limdon Windaxe dared to record the happening down. The following was found in his war journal:
"We were down in the work area when I felt it. Something was angry. At the time, I wouldn't have said it was the walls, because that would have sounded crazy. But now, I could swear it was the Nora. It didn't threaten us openly, but there was something about it that seemed menacing. Captain Stoneblade told us to advance, but I could tell he didn't want to do it anymore than we did. None of us wanted to see what was there."
The soldiers lowered themselves into the excavation pit. Their goal was to search the deepest area of the cave. If they found the threat, they were to destroy it. No man dared to speak, except for Captain Stoneblade. He gave orders in a whisper. He feared that he might provoke whatever lurked in the darkness. Windaxe's account continued:
"It must have taken us 20 minutes just to get through the pit. At a walking pace, we could have made it to the back of the mine in five. We would take a few steps and stop. A few more steps, and stop again. We were ready for an ambush."
Their advance continued slowly through the mine, into the most recently excavated section. The Nora globes were large in these parts, radiating with untapped energy. The glow of the globes cast blue light throughout the tunnel, save for the deepest portion. The aura was beginning to sicken them, with waves of dread.
"The captain stopped giving orders when we were in the final stretch. By then, we were afraid to breathe without provoking something. I remember Bronzetoe would keep looking at me. We had been through some ugly parts of Elsarin together. We practically knocked on the door of Serkan's tomb. I'd never seen him so scared."
According to Windaxe, Murlo Bronzetoe saw something move in the darkness at the very end of the tunnel. He pointed to it and gasped, catching the attention of the moving mass. At first glance, it seemed that the walls of the tunnel were moving towards them. As it approached, they could make out its features. Its body was made of smooth stones, the skin glittery in the blue light. Its arms and legs were rock, jutting out of the central stone body. At the top of the body a small boulder protruded, acting as the creature's head. As it moved towards them, the legs didn't move; it seemed to glide across the ground. Captain Stoneblade gave the order to charge the creature.
"It must have been his shouting, because when Captain Stoneblade told us to attack, the thing bent forward and let loose the most horrific howl I've ever heard. I remember hearing Lightspear running first. Then, the captain was shouting again. He was telling us to run away, that it wasn't worth dying over Nora. Bronzetoe wouldn't move, just kept staring at the thing. So, I had to run with my hammer on one shoulder and him on the other. Even with a dwarf and a steel hammer, I don't think I've ever run so fast in my life."
Ironfist's first encounter with the creature wouldn't be the last. The morning after Captain Stoneblade gave his report, King Rulgoth accompanied them to the mine. To their surprise, the stone monstrosity greeted them at the mouth of the entrance. Although it still exuded a threatening aura, its demeanor was docile. As King Rulgoth approached it, the creature didn't withdraw or attempt to strike him. Instead, it raised a rocky arm, as if to accept his hand as a truce. To Rulgoth, the creature was a construct, made naturally by the earth. He believed that, the monster would fight to protect the Stronghold, as all of Ironfist's constructs did.
Soon, the Stronghold would hear news from K`thir. A creature, made of wood, had appeared to fight for them. Then, from the Savage Tundra, they received news of an icy goliath that would protect J`thir. In the Dark Marshes of Forglar, a champion made of poison awoke, ready to defend the swamp and its inhabitants. However, the Protectorate factions didn't know that the same strange occurrences were happening behind the veil of war. In the lands of Wrath, new soldiers were stirring from slumber.
Once separated by civil war and differing ideals, the Sundered Lands were finally uniting under one banner. After the Nora Surge, the original exiles of Valdac, the Dunewalkers, had returned to the Draksar kingdom. Their leader, Derifos, spoke at length with Lord Akakios over the turmoil between their groups. The scars, which the Dunewalkers had suffered over their banishment, had healed. They had learned to survive in the sands that surrounded Valdac. It would act as their weapon, and as their armor. It would veil them and conceal them from attacks. After countless years of living amongst the sands, they had come to revere it. Derifos offered to teach the Valdaci these skills. Akakios agreed. The rivalry had ended, and an alliance was forged.
Derifos tutored the best of Akakios's clutch in fighting with sand. They were taught to regard it with honor, to treat it with reverence. However, as they trained in the desert, many of the initiates felt uneasy. They didn't understand why or what, but they could feel something in the sand. As they took it into their scaled hands, they could feel it react to their touch. It burned, and not by the warmth from the sun, but with a repressed ire. It was trying to intimidate them, one initiate said to another. They spoke to each other about the oddity and agreed that there was something strange about the sand they were standing in. They confronted Derifos.
The Elder Dunewalker was excited for his initiates. They had finally communed with the sands of Valdac. The initiates disagreed. They did their best to explain the lurking force in each grain, the ferocity that none of them could truly understand. Derifos slid a claw through it; let it spill from his open palm. There was something hiding in his dearest ally, something terrible. However, he could feel something that the initiates could not. There was a new power coursing through it. Derifos filled his purse with sand and made his way to Valdac, to speak with Akakios.
After a long discussion, the Draksar Lord agreed to accompany Derifos and the initiates to the desert. When they arrived, they found that the sand's vexation dominated their senses. Later, Derifos would dictate these happenings to a conscript, leaving the best-known account of the event:
"The sands were alive! I could hear the beat of its heart beneath my feet. I wanted to lay in it, and embrace it. But, my dear old friend was vexed. From the new-formed heart, flowed an anger I had never felt before. I did not know if this terrible rage was directed at my kin and I. I couldn't be the Dunewalkers! We had always been loyal to it; we gave our lives to protect it! I didn't know what troubled my dear friend, but its ire was undeniable."
He reflected on the situation for moments, before the sands began to shift beneath his feet. Its howls became audible. The initiates drew their weapons, as Akakios shouted attacks order at them. It flowed and skated around, pooling in front of them and forming a mound. The initiates backed away from the gathering mass of sand, keeping their weapons drawn. Akakios unsheathed his sword. Derifos kept his ground, watching the pile stir. It began to take shape.
"To my surprise, and my delight, my friend began to stand. From the formless mass, its arms and legs grew to stand and greet us. Akakios continued to retreat from it. He told his men to attack it! But, I knew the sand. There was wrath deep within its core, but it did not intend to attack us."
Derifos told his comrades to calm themselves; the creature would make no effort to strike them. Its massive chest heaved with each grainy breath. They could still feel the fiery heart burning beneath, but the heat was not for them.
"It wanted to fight! The reason of its flame was not the Draksar. No, it must have been our enemies! The sand would fight beside us, against the Ironfist traitors."
Another champion of the elements would rise to defend Valdac. From the corrupted lands of bile, a guardian rose from acid. In the crypts of Elsarin, a protector made of bone rose to join Serkan's ranks. In the Shattered Peaks, a storm struck the lands and awoke a champion of lightning. From the depths of Sheoul, the lava churned and bubbled. From the erupting chaos, a defender of magma emerged.
They were the Elementals. The elements had conspired with the Nora to protect the world from destruction. The Elementals were mysterious and powerful, but they could be trusted. Each fought with a fervor that was unmatched by any other combatant. Their zeal was powered by an ancient force, something ancestral. It was something that, after countless millennia of silence, had gained a voice, and used it to scream its frustrations. The voice would be used constructively; the Elementals would fight for the nations of the world. Although their true intentions were unclear, this temporary alliance would suffice for now.