The first dungeon discovered was named Elmenduil by those who found it.

The dungeon was not a dungeon, but a place of unimaginable beauty. It had no traps beyond its nature as a cave system. It had no monsters to attack or defend. What it did have were caverns full of light. Glowing creatures lived in colonies across the ceilings. The stones were lit from within by a wondrous prismatic light. The ground grew with a thick carpet of familiar plants and mushrooms, things she should be able to grow underground. Elmenduil had made of itself a series of connected gardens and secret lakes. Fish swam in the lakes. Curious birds flitted between the odd trees.

This place existed before war and wrath and knew not such strange mortal desires.

The people who found it were likewise somewhat innocent.

They considered Elmenduil to be a holy place, and they treated it accordingly. It was a safe place as well, and they could easily take refuge in the first of the great caverns when the weather grew foul, or when something terrible stalked across the land. These were a simple people, who took their delight in singing songs, and they were neither violent nor warlike. This is one reason they had fled from whence they came, for their neighbors were skilled in violence and well-versed in the arts of battle.

These people would seem quaint now. They did not have steel weapons, or magic armor, or even cunning magics. They had spears and bows and wore the hides of slain animals as protection. Many painted their faces in atavistic patterns, decorating themselves with blood and white paints.

They were also, at heart, mystics.

They communed with the cave they took shelter in, and discovered it was alive. It was not just alive, it was interested in them. Elmenduil had cultivated its gardens for tens of centuries, and their brief appearance had quickened the soul of the place, as it learned of them, of the things they carried, sought, and feared. When the people took fish from the ponds, fruit from the trees, and herbs from the gardens, they made offerings to Elmenduil as thanks.

What they did not know was that everything Elmenduil had it only had because that was what had fallen into it, by one means or another. Many things had fallen into the caves over the years, but only a small sample of what existed above. They brought with them many things, food, seeds, strange animals, and the thing that Elmenduil loved above all else, music and stories.

The people lived well. Their numbers increased, and many children were born within Elmenduil. The air was clean, the water was pure, and it seemed that those children were more healthy, more vital, than those born on the surface. The same was quickly associated with those conceived within the caverns of light.

The mystics spent a great amount of time in the cave, and then they made a powerful discovery.

Essence, magic, and spellcraft.

Elmenduil was magic itself, and through their songs and stories, the dungeon taught them how to craft a lesser form of what it did. They learned to cultivate magical essence and to create a written language based on the fundamental powers of geomancy, the foundation of their script. As they learned and grew, so did Elmenduil. It gained a library and meditation chambers, it created healing pools and turned out flocks of new and wondrous animals. Most were bursts of creativity, some were the answer to a need, and others were jokes from Elmenduil to its people.

Generations passed and the revered elders would live their last days in the depths of the cave. Those who were the wisest and most serene would find they gained greater and greater insights into essence, and it started changing them. Two events came close together and marked the second great change of the people.

The elders who mastered the techniques Elmenduil could teach them stopped aging. The ones who could make the trek to the bottom of the cave, where the luminous heart of Elmenduil dwelt cast off the ravages of time, and became immune to disease. Their limbs were strong, their eyes were clear, and their minds were sharp and wise. This was not sudden, but gradual. Many who visited the cave found their lives growing longer, and their health improved. This was simply as respiring in the cave was a primitive meditation technique, and they drew in the rich essence of the place, and it benefitted them. When they applied the skills their elders learned, they too found their lives greatly extended.

They were not immortal. They could still be slain with blade or claw. They needed much less sleep. They ate less, and what they did eat their bodies made full use of. They honed their respective crafts and became peerless masters. And in their newfound near immortality, they lost something.

They had fewer and fewer children.

It was not so much that they became less fertile, as it was they were growing apart from their basic nature. They did not hunger, they didn't fear death, and no longer were they driven by the basal urges to reproduce. They still knew love, but this became more of a platonic state and idealized aromantic matter. They made gifts and songs, crafted spells and art, and no longer were driven to thrust and grind, squirting fluids and blood, suffering pregnancy and the pain associated with it. They had no need for children, and so fewer and fewer were born.

The people explored the land, now armed with their great power and prowess. Those who learned new skills mastered them. They had all the time in the world. They brought even more new and wondrous things back to Elmenduil, and thus the cave learned of the outside wickedness of the world, of war and death, genocides and atrocities. These things didn't bother the dungeon, as it knew the nature of life is violent. The predator consumes, individuals fight over the right to mate, and some creatures are capricious and cruel, just as some are serene.

Ambition came to Elmenduil.

Caladant is remembered for being one of the youngest of the people to make it to the core of Elmenduil and for his travels across the land. He carried gifts to other peoples. He brought language and writing and taught the basics of farming and making tools. He taught them how to defend themselves. He learned from them later how to make armor and weapons. He learned how to craft essence into weapons, and wage battle with spell and blade. The trophies he brought back to Elemduil were marvelous. He slew great and terrible monsters. He discovered demons and devils and banished them. He discovered the loins of women of the other peoples, who were races apart from him.

Caladant brought others to the cave and strove for greater acts of creation. He crafted greater and more terrible weapons, and it became known that he wasn't just partaking of other races, he was a lover of other entire species. He had halfbreed creations scattered across the world, and through his magical arts he was creating monstrous hybrids. He was playing as a god would, capricious and wild.

The people were not pleased with this, because his manner reminded them of the ancient stories about how the world was before they found the cave, and how dangerous it had been. And there Caladant was, giving fire to savages, fornicating with anything female, and even using magic so that he could seduce and reproduce with monsters. The elders gathered and decided to no longer let Caladant enter the cave, and that he must leave and not return.

He laughed at his exile and left.

An unknown number of years later, war came to Elmenduil. Caladant found other dungeons, and he learned how to manipulate their cores, to touch the very essence of the world itself. From those other dungeons he drew up hosts of beasts at his command. He subjugated the other races and made them pay homage to him as if he were a god. The people sought to resist him, but they were singers and basket weavers, not warriors. He didn't slay them, because they were still his kin, but many did perish, and the majority fled into the world, forsaking Elmenduil in their fear and haste. Caladant entered the dungeon, and sensing his purpose, Elmenduil resisted him. It crafted primitive traps and sent beasts at him. To its sorrow, Elmenduil only wild animals, livestock, and the pets favored by the people at its call, where Caladant lead monsters with snapping jaws, acidic venom, fiery breath, and other worse powers.

No one knows what occurred within the heart of the dungeon but three things are known. Elmenduil is no more. Caladant is no more. The Ondolore was discovered, or the Stone of Sorrow.

Apocrypha

The People are the predecessors of the Elves. The story is not popular among the elfin kin as it indicates that in the distant past they were as frail and mortal as any other race, and that they are not the favored children of the gods and granted immortality and magic from their very inception. They also dislike the story as it paints one of their own, Caladant, as the creator of many monsters that still plague the world, and point blank call him out as a monster fucker, and someone who carried out vigorous and offensive magical experiments on other elves.

From an anthropological perspective, many consider it unlikely that a single rogue elf was able to master dungeon magic, bring written language to the other races, subjugate them, carry out extensive breeding operations, craft monsters, master other dungeons, and functionally exist as a prototype dark evil god. The truth is much more likely that Caladant represents several different elves, or even an entire splinter community that left Elmenduil over some ideological differences. The monster breeding and dark lord charges are often presented with strong anti-elf bias.

Elmenduil did once exist, and its location is known. It is a burned out crater deep in the wastelands, and there is little to nothing left around it. When the dungeon core was destroyed, it caused a clathrate collapse and the region around the pit is not just biologically dead, it is a dead magic zone. Wizards believe that in a few hundred thousand years, the clathrates far deeper in the world will start to fill in the empty space.

The nature of Elmenduil is strongly contested because the current orthodoxy is that dungeons are places that are rich in essence and monsters, and are not some sort of living supraorganism. As such, they cannot be communicated with, they cannot teach languages, or otherwise impart knowledge or skills on people who visit them.

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