This is a history of the world. Any author worth his copper knows that a daunting task lies ahead. To tell the story of existence, infinite as that seems to be, requires a framework. It necessarily frames the unframed, bounds the boundless, and limits the limitless – from some perspective or another.
Such would be true even if this were the history of a single person. That truth magnifies as the tale attempts to capture so much more.
One weave throughout the tapestry of this story is cosmic in scope. From ancient, arcane prophecies to the mysterious cosmic order they indicate. From the Heavens to the Hells, the fullness of creation to the void of the Abyss. From Gods to Demons. From light to shadow.
So little is known, so little is recorded, that the best this tale can do is point towards those ominous truths so far from our reach. The perspective that necessarily frames this story, that provides a launch point, must be more firmly planted upon the ground – lest I falsely portray a knowledge of the unknown.
So it is to earth we must turn.
Another weave binding this story together in its multi-colored and ever expanding fabric is global in scope. It tells of races and species, their relationships, their political, economic, religious and social structures. It speaks of perpetual conflict and fleeting alliances, expansion and contraction. It relays stories of the rise and fall of empires and it too is inadequate to the immense complexity of the reality. So little is known, so little is recorded, and there is too much to tell.
It appears, then, that the history of civilizations is still too lofty a launch point. It fails to provide the more limited perspective from which a coherent tale can be spun.
This story should be told from a place where our feet can be planted on the ground but our minds can soar into ever-expanding and complex mysteries of global and cosmic scope. It should be told from a place of oral and written knowing. It should be framed upon a solid foundation of experience, but experience that is global and cosmic in its scope.
Fortunately, such a foundation exists – and I am part of it.
The Party of the Pendant is an international band of heroes dedicated to fighting for the Light and destroying the shadow in all its forms. From humble beginnings five hundred years ago, when a band of heroes first explored the world beyond their castle walls, to its current renown as the most powerful emissary of light on earth, the Party has the knowledge of collective experience unique to this world. I am blessed to be part of that group, as were my ancestors before, and to have access to their oral and written traditions. I am Meneldir of Archet, grandson of Markus Anoraran, an Elven King whose service to the Party of the Pendant spanned centuries. This is the foundation of my knowing.
The history of the Party of the Pendant, therefore, provides the perspective that will frame this ambitious tale. Through their story, a coherent story can be told. It is one that originates in the naivety of the newborn first exploring existence around them. It is one that grows into the passion and fervor of youth – eagerly exploring, categorizing, and influencing the broader world. It is one that grows into the wisdom of its age, recognizing that the black and white categories of its youth are inadequate to the mysteries that abound.
In this age of wisdom, existence once again becomes new, filled with mystery. The mysteries of the world, the cosmos, and the self. The history of the Party of the Pendant is a story of growth, through experience to understanding, so that the fate of the Party seems inextricably bound to the fate of the earth and the cosmos. The fate of the three seem ever converging, like they will erupt in a glorious but dreadful epiphany at some point in the future.
But that future is not yet here, so our story marches onward. This makes it even more challenging for the author attempting to capture a reality outside of his own, neatly compacted, fictional world. This tale has not reached a conclusion.
Our story will begin with the origins of the Party of the Pendant five hundred years ago. As the story shares the experience of that infamous band, knowledge of global history will be gleaned. It is not exhaustive. It is knowledge that is acquired through experience. Not all peoples are known, not all lands are explored.
By following me on this journey you will experience the lands and peoples touched by this famous group of heroes. While that does impose limits, it is also important to recognize how extensive five hundred years of collective experience can actually be. There is much to be gained from this perspective.
As the tale weaves its fabric, experiences of a mysterious cosmic order – shrouded in ancient prophecies and visions – will also emerge. It would be arrogant to call this knowledge, for even those who have had direct experience of the events in question will testify to their continued state of unknowing. But their experience can be shared, so that the book of our own knowing is written within.
On that note, before we begin to explore the early origins of the Party of the Pendant, I will share a couple of these famous prophecies. Perhaps if we start at the outer reach of time and space, then return to plant our feet in the newborn’s shoes, we can grow with a wisdom that was inaccessible for those who had the original experience. Such is the benefit of hindsight, the boon of historical knowledge, and the fruit of collective experience.
Elven lore speaks of a distant past, a past shrouded in a mist of temporal obscurity. It speaks of a prophecy of five cataclysms, the first of which had come to pass. It was a civil war amongst Elves, between the Sun King and the Sky King. The Sun King’s armies were victorious and drove the Sky King’s people into the Underdark – they became the Drow, Elves of the spider, worshipers of Lolth.
The Elven lore does not speak to the remaining four cataclysms but as this story unfolds you will experience three other points of known history that could arguably fit the definition of a cataclysm, with a fourth looming like a shadowy eclipse on the horizon.
Another prophecy can be found etched into the White Plume Mountain, the greatest summit in a chain known as the Drachensgrab Mountains of Old Greyhawk – birthplace of the Party of the Pendant:
And o' the Kingdom of the Spider shall last one thousand years and the people shall suffer one thousand years and this time shall be a time of Darkness for the Shadow of the Spider shall be law, indeed the people shall pay tribute to the word of the master and live in bondage. In the valleys of the shadows, even to the very midst of the volcano that sleeps above. Take heed for when the thousand years is done a man will come to promise a different way and he will believe and many will be persecuted. The sign of the man shall bear witness to the legend.