As told by the Archon Talqavist to the Fellowship of Atân...
Before the lifting of the Hither Lands from the sea, there were former continents. And before the elves and dwarves, there were former races. For it is known: Edion is the third continent to exist, and it may be the last. And it is scripted: the world shall end, and we the inhabitants of Edion shall be forgotten and replaced, lest we unite.
Such is the legend of the Artifex, the Shaper of Worlds, who dwells in the Citadel of Eternity, on the shores of Echolost, where Time Ends. The olden races knew him, and named him Eältar. Such is he, who lives from age to age, waxing in his wisdom and power. And such is he, who shapes the World Stone, and casts down new shards to the base of Mt. Istalion, at the center of All Things. For the multiverse in all its glory and variety, is but a reflection of this: the World Stone, which facets are variations on the planes: elemental, spectral, and divine. As the world stone is shaped, so too the planes are re-shaped, and new continents arise.
Seldom is the Artifex revealed: for he dwells always in his citadel, in a pavilion of unsphered time and space. Confuse him not with Moradin, Lord of the Dwarves, who dwells also in the Citadel, nor with Grandal, nor Magrud, his many servants. Some liken Eältar to Amydh, others to a god of elder ages. His purpose is unknown and unbeheld by the Abnoctim; whilst his very name is a mystery to other races. Indeed, what little is known comes from wild, remote lore: the testament of dead races, echoes from lost continents.
Our gods, our peoples: these are peculiarities of Edion. Before them all came Phandiom, the first continent... the first world. That land was peopled by the Archetypes: deific figures, tall, erect, compelling, charged with a perfect, ancient being that could never wholly pass away. Their world was alien, and their multiverse was built on different principles than we know today. For the World Stone had suffered no reduction then, and was perfect.
So little is known of the Archetypes, but despite their perfection, they were vain and proud, and sought to reshape Phandiom in their own image. Eältar took offense, and reduced the World Stone, creating a new world with different principles and different inhabitants, poles apart from Phandiom. He named this world Thariom and peopled it with two races: the Githzerai and the Githyanki. What remained of Phandiom was set to drift on the Eavon Ocean and forgotten, its terrains no longer sustainable in Thariom. Slowly was it devoured, crushed into dust, lost forever in the gray sandstorm of the Plane of Time, and forgotten.
The Archetypes were destroyed, save two that are known: Syngyn, the Exile, a prophet who sought refuge on the ethereal plane, and Tharthammon, an Archetype of ultimate corruption, who was exiled to the astral plane.
At the dawn of the new world, the githzerai took from the base of Mt. Istalion glittering jewelsshards cast off from the World Stone, as debris from cutting gems. These captivated the githzerai, who recognized their hidden power. For in these stones, something of the power and purity of Phandiom was contained, and wonders of great magic were made possible. The Shards of Thariom they were called: the birth jewels of the second world; alike yet more dreadful to the Shards of Edion, which are coveted by wizards of our Age.
With the shardstones in hand, the githzerai worked fabulous cities and extended broad kingdoms over Thariom. The githyanki were a simpler race, a caste of lesser beings enthralled by their better cousins.
Tharthammon, who dwelled in exile, greatly coveted the shards, as a fish who seeks water. The stones sang with a symphony of bale and yearning, and promised him even greater powers than he possessed by birthright, for they were the wreckage of Phandiom, his world. So he prospered his every spell and enterprise, and seduced the githyanki, who wanted status, and bent them to his service. It is said that Tharthammon troubled his follower with the lore of Phandiom, and granted them dark gifts. They worshipped him as a black god of evil, and dreadful was the word that summoned him: For the instant of his coming was like the passage of many ages; and neither flesh nor stone could abide his treading, but all things crumbled beneath him. And for this, they called Tharthammon the Treader of the Dust.
The githyanki turned against the githzerai. Great wars were fought over the shards, and the cities of the ruling caste fell beneath the might of Tharthammon. But always the shards remained safe, for they were protected above all other things, until at last, pending the final war, the githzerai brought them to Yoros, the last of their cities. Here they were enshrined in a great fane and worshipped.
After centuries of strife and destruction, the githyanki came in full strength against Yoros. Eältar intervened, and swept up the city and all the custodians of the shards, and sealed them forever in a bottle, safe from the Archetype and his followers. The wars continued, but they were in vain. The Bottled City of Yoros was taken by the Artifex and kept hidden in the Citadel of Eternity, where none dared disturb it. For no being can destroy the Shards of the World, not even the Artifex.
Tharthammon retreated to the astral plane. His followers, the githyanki, went with him, and took refuge on great bergs of floating ruin: islands of Phandiom still drifting on the astral winds. Cycles went by, and Tharthammon became but a name on the lips of storytellers. Lost too were the Bottled City of Yoros and the Shards of Thariom, which passed from all knowledge.
During latter years, Tharthammon was companioned by the monster Thameera, a creature most like a spider who came down from the ethereal plane and joined Tharthammon in evil. Thameera was served by Tharthammon, and gave service to the god in return. Great maledictions were wrought between them and a terrible sovereignty ensued, until at last, a conspiracy was hatched to steal the Bottled City from Eältar and seize the shardstones therein. By then Thariom was a world riven by wars, whose nations were broken and fearful. Little remained of that continent.
Given great powers by Tharthammon, Thameera descended on the Citadel of Eternity by another way than the door and stole the Bottled City. Tharthammon was close to having his prize, but Eältar intervened again, and reduced the World Stone, destroying Thariom. And when the lands of Edion were raised from the Eavon surf, the universe was changed. For the Artifex made Carceri, the Prison Plane, to lock away Tharthammon for all time. And the Treader of the Dust was contained, for the plane itself was designed for this purposeeven an Archetype could not resist it.
Thameera disappeared with the Bottled City, and made her lair once more in the ethereal plane. Long she guarded it, and nursed the memory of Tharthammon in her dark temple. But she was mastered by the efreet, who rose to great power under the Sultans, and came seeking her treasure. The bottle was taken by the one Parhanzia, who knew not its purpose, and kept it as a curio.
Such is the legend of the Bottled City and Tharthammon. No man has ever found the bottled treasure; but the gnome Ffluedder Fflamtalligon, our old friend, did occasion to steal it from Parhanzia’s ship, the Witch Hammer. For all Ffluedder’s mischief, and all his gnomish curiosity, he did not unravel the mystery of the Bottled City, nor learn tale of Tharthammon. The bottle was buried with Ffluedder in Granitehome, following his death in 894 of the Age of Light, where it remains to this day.
Tharthammon is old and omnipotent as death. His derelict body lay dormant for all the centuries of Edion, and though used for many evilseven by the efreetthis alone is certain: the Archetype was doomed forever to be a prisoner of Carceri.
But the great misdeed of our age has come to pass, for the Emperor Toum of Azalan has destroyed the Node of Furis. The Blooded One is slain, Amydh is sundered, and the World Stone is stressed to the point of breaking!
We yawn perilously on the edge of doom. Carceri has failed. Tharthammon is free, and set loose upon Edion. His servants, the githyanki, are gathering on the astral plane. Long have they ranged and ravened throughout that hidden underworld, worshipping at the black altar, always careful to orient themselves toward Carceri. Now they are come!
A great evil, greater than all of us, is descending on Edion. The Treader of the Dust is coming: a baleful usurper from a far world, who is obedient to alien laws. He is preceded by the gith, and the monster Thameera. If Tharthammon wins control of the Bottled City, as mayhap he wishes, the Shards of Thariomwhich call to him, and promise balewill be his, and we shall be his slaves, to teem and raven sloth.