The Ravenloft Files: Dead of the Night
Creation Myth of Darkon The Gray Realm
In the beginning, the world was dead, a Grey Realm devoid of color or passion. Time was meaningless; progress unimaginable. Pale, flittering spirits of the dead – of the never born – populated the Gray Realm. These shades wandered aimlessly through a meaningless existence while watched over by the myriad faces of death: a grim reaper for every slip of the mortal coil, a veritable pantheon of doom. In a sense, these reapers were all extensions of a single entity: Death itself, the very embodiment of entropy, the end of all things. Death ruled over the Gray Realms with its three most terrible companions, the Horsemen: Sickness, Starvation, and Strife, the three woes of humankind.
Darkonese words have very precise definitions, but the word arcana means both “supernatural” and “secret.” This is, obviously, the origin of the “arcane” tradition of magic. Secrets and power are firmly united in the Darkonian mind.
What gave Death its power over the Gray Realms was the secret it held. Death alone possessed the knowledge of its antithesis, life. Eons passed unnoticed while Death gloated over its little secret. Eventually, and entirely by chance, a flittering spirit called Darkonos happened to steal a glimpse at Death’s captive. A mere moment passed before Death hid its toy away, but that brief glimpse of the silvery light flowing on Death’s ebony clutches tainted Darkonos with the alien sensations of curiosity, identity, and purpose. Darkonos was not alive, but he was no longer truly dead.
The enlightened Darkonos longed to claim the spark of life. With newly opened eyes, he learned the secrets of the Gray Realms. Through him, the world saw magic before it saw life. Darkonos could not unlock the mystery of life, but he discovered a pale imitation: the crude animating force imbued within golems.
Eventually, Death learned of the unusual spirit and had Darkonos dragged before its throne. Darkonos proudly proclaimed that he had stolen the secret of life.
“You lie. pale thing,” hissed Death, and it defied Darkonos to prove his claim. Darkonos gladly revealed his creation: a tiny manikin constructed from bits of bone and tendon. He set the crude doll on the floor and bid it to dance. And it danced.
“I have given these bones the secret of life,” boasted Darkonos. “How could I not possess it?”
“You lie,” raged Death, “for life is still within my grasp!” With that, Death revealed the spark of life. Darkonos immediately leapt forward and seized the spark, placing it within himself. He became the first living thing, and life’s power expanded within his beating heart.
Death ordered the mage stopped. As one, the Horseman struck Darkonos down before he could take a single step. Yet the life escaped through his mortal wounds, pulsing in a torrent across the Gray Realm. As it washed over the flittering spirits, they too were imbued with life. The land itself awoke, and the sun rose for the first time. Some spirits touched only a few drops of life and were merely tainted with hunger and ambition. They became the undead.
The flood ended with the final beat of Darkonos’ heart. Unable to bear the dawning of life, Death and the truly dead retreated beyond the borders of the living world. The land of Darkon, stolen from the dead, was carved from the Gray Realm.
According to folklore, this is how the land of Darkon came to be, and how the living stole it from the dead. Also according to folklore, the dead will one day return to reclaim all that is theirs, and this time is known as the Hour of Ascension. When the Great Upheaval occurred two and a half years ago, it was believed by many in Darkon at the time, that the Hour of Ascension had arrived. This, however, turned out not to be true. But many still contend that the day will soon come.