having grown resentful of their children, left them in the wilderness
to die. Hoping to find solace in anonymity, others moved to larger
cities such as Megath-Tor, Ardrennen Falls, Fairhaven or White castle
Harbor. Sadly, they found little respite from the prejudices of man and
elf, who looked upon their strange children with thinly veiled
revulsion, openly mocking the little folk with the stubby fingers,
awkward legs, big ears and overlarge feet. It wasnâ€™t long before they
too were forced to leave the great cities of the elder races and
venture into the wilds of Simarra.
And troubles followed them stillâ€¦
In those days, long before the roads were patrolled, long before the mana wells were tapped, evil lurked in the wilds of Simarra. The little folk found themselves preyed upon by brigands looking for an easy mark and foul beasts looking for an easy meal. Foul gretchclaw, wild orcs, goblins and a host of other fell beasts hounded the steps of the halflings, hunting them incessantly; to such an extent that their numbers were so small the world soon forgot about them. Indeed, the Gheldrin (as they came to call themselves) might very well have been wiped out during those dark times, but fate intervened.
Legends say the mother goddess EnÃ¢ra took pity on these creatures for all the troubles they endured in their short lives. She whispered into the hearts and minds of the little folk, beckoning them to journey to a place on the far eastern shores of Simarra, to an expanse of isolated lowlands no eyes had yet seen. There, EnÃ¢ra bestowed the race with the ability to touch the minds of those who might seek to do them harm and remove all recollection of ever having encountered the Gheldrin.
The mother goddess further blessed Gheldrin females with increased fertility, and their numbers grew tenfold in the first years living in the lowlands. EnÃ¢ra also taught them of secret paths throughout Simarra known as â€œShadow Warrens.â€ EnÃ¢ra warned that, while the shadow warrens had grown exceedingly dangerous in recent years due to the efforts of the dread god ThÃ»rak to infest them with shadow spawn, they would nevertheless lead those who had the courage to travel them to safe havens in the most remote places of the world. The importance of the shadow warrens could not be stressed enough, for there would come a time when the world would be plunged into a darkness so great, that the people of the world would have great need of the Gheldrin and their knowledge of these dark paths.
Seeing her work complete, EnÃ¢ra left the Gheldrin, but not before issuing a decree; The Gheldrin were to refrain from seeking vengeance upon those who had mistreated them in the past. Furthermore, they should always seek to help those in peril or unable to help themselves, and above all, remember to use the shadow warrens in those dark times, for the need to travel in secret would be great.
Left alone, the Gheldrin built the fabled city of Shalledrin, which came to be known as Haven in the common tongue. The halflings constructed secret outposts throughout the Meregost Mountains so they could watch for those who might seek to intrude upon their lands. Those explorers and would-be settlers who ventured too close to the land of the Gheldrin were captured, transported far away via shadow warrens and then released, but not before the experience was wiped from their minds. Some explorers, still retaining cloudy fragments of the journey, spoke of the little folk and their secret lands. Thus, the legend of the mysterious Gheldrin, the mythical city of Shalledrin, and their secret land known only as the Vale of Mists grew.
During the Age of Plenty, the Gheldrin spread across Simarra. Their knowledge of the shadow warrens grew immensely, and the halflings founded settlements in numerous places both on Simarra and in other places; islands and continents not yet visited by the other races. Soon, the Gheldrin began to sneak down into the cities of man, elf and dwarf, always keeping a watchful eye over their distant cousins. Some even established permanent residence in cities such as Ardrennen Falls and Megath-Tor, secretly taking over entire neighborhoods over the course of years, or even building subterranean warrens housing whole communities of Gheldrin who came and went among the other races in the guise of gnome or dwarf. For the most part, the Gheldrin who lived among the other elder races were content to simply watch them, ever mindful of the words EnÃ¢ra spoke to their ancestors â€” that there would come a day when the Gheldrin would be called upon to aid those in need. Other Gheldrin, however, cared little for the teachings of their elders, and made their way in the world as thieves, spies, or assassins, using their skills and abilities to selfish ends.
By the end of the Age of Plenty, the Gheldrin had managed to make the shadow warrens relatively safe for travel, either slaying the horrors outright or trapping them in powerful mana shards. Additionally, the Gheldrin had nurtured a vast, intricate informant network rivaling that of some Simarran governments. Known as the Shadow watch, the informant network enabled the Gheldrin to closely monitor the affairs of the world and keep tabs on unscrupulous organizations such as the Arcanus League and monitor the activities of the Sundaari blood magi. And so it was, when the Keza-Drak invaded, the Gheldrin were not entirely unprepared.
Members of the shadow watch had been following the movements of the OthrÃ¤nnÃ¤n for some time; those of AgÃ¤razÃ´n in particular. Members of the shadow watch â€” a shadow hunter by the name of Derius Trel in particular â€” assigned to monitor the activities of the Arcanus League in the Cradle of Life began noticing strange changes in the behavior of the god spawn. AgÃ¤razÃ´n became increasingly reclusive. He spent most of his time poring over ancient texts and memory shards dating back to the end of the Age of Steel. The god spawn began traveling abroad more often in the years leading up to the invasion. AgÃ¤razÃ´n began using the shadow warrens once again, something the OthrÃ¤nnÃ¤n hadnâ€™t done since the Ascendant wars. Worse, AgÃ¤razÃ´n, knowing of the existence of the Gheldrin, woke the sleeping horrors of the shadow warrens, undoing the efforts of the shadow watch to make the secret paths safe for their kin.
Derius watched in horror as AgÃ¤razÃ´n â€” the most powerful of the god spawn â€” attacked unsuspecting Gheldrin as they moved through the shadow warrens. He wanted to fight and die with his brethren as the betrayer used eldritch spells, laying waste to way-stations in the warrens; but he couldnâ€™t bring himself to drop the obfuscating magicks and reveal his presence to AgÃ¤razÃ´n. Something larger was happening, and it was up to Derius to find out what it was and stop it if he could.
Derius followed AgÃ¤razÃ´n on his journey to places hidden even from the Gheldrin and watched as he broke the seals binding the dread Morargrim. The shadow hunter paled in abject horror as AgÃ¤razÃ´n and the sinister agents of ThÃ»rak nearly eradicated the rest of the god spawn at the Narballa Henge, listened as the betrayer announced his plan to fuse the stone gates open and facilitate an invasion of the world.
Derius fled back into the shadow warrens with but one thought; warn as many people as he could, save as many as he could. The rest of the shadow watch had to know the things Derius had seen and heard. Stopping the invasion was a foolâ€™s errand; it was inevitable. The elder Gheldrin had long spoke of the coming of darkness. They told and re-told EnÃ¢raâ€™s words throughout the ages, and now her prophetic words were coming to pass. No, there would be no staving off what was to come. Now was the time to embrace the destiny the mother goddess had designed for the Gheldrin them so long ago.