The Forgotten Arches are a pair of ancient stone arches, standing in a remote and otherwise barren field, strewn with rocks and scorched by fire, in the lands now known as the Solastaris Refuge. These arches are believed to have been constructed many thousands of years ago by the ancient Solastaris Empire, at the height of their power, when they are said to have maintained outposts throughout the Southwestern coast of Norlanin. In the Solastaris tongue they are called, Adanedal Ando and Amarth Ando.
The concept for the Forgotten Arches was created in part by Jason Charles (Calgary, Alberta) as part of his ‘Foot Knight package’ backer reward from the 2014 Realm of Strife Kickstarter Campaign.
In recent history the arches were first discovered around 90 years ago by a pair of Halfling prospectors from the Tindermoot, called the Hiderbiddle Brothers, who had launched one of many expeditions in search of precious minerals throughout the area known to Halflings as the Headlands. After an unproductive week in the area the brothers were preparing to pack up their camp and move on when they are reported to have heard the sound of a baby crying. Following the babies cries they navigated through a maze of rocky ravines, which seemed to cause the babies intermittent crying to echo in a queer and unusual way. The cries led them to a large barren field of rock, scorched from one end to the other by some ancient cataclysm that left the rocks melted and even simple moss still struggling to cling to life. It is here they found the first of the two arches. At its foot, nestled in the burnt out remains of a petrified tree stump, they found a naked and shivering baby with pointed ears and a sickly disposition.
The Halfling brothers took pity on the baby, wrapping it in their cloaks and bringing it back to their camp, where they fed the baby goat’s milk and nursed it back to health. Leaving the baby in the care of their associates the brothers returned to the arch to search for any sign of who might have left the baby there or why, expecting if nothing else to find the bodies of the babies parents. But no clue as to how this abandoned baby had come to be left next to the stone archway was ever found. Instead, for all their searching the only other item of note found in that barren field, not far from the first arch, was a second stone arch. This arch was similar in design, seeming ancient and ruinous, yet untouched by whatever force had seared the area into oblivion. The second arch likewise bore two words carved into its stone threshold. While the script was still easily read despite the apparent age of the arches, it was written in a language unknown to any Halfling at the time. The only clue to unlocking their secret being that both gates appeared to share the same second word.
Returning home with their wild tale, most respectable Halflings would have dismissed the brothers claims, however the strange Elven baby served as proof enough. Over the next several years many expeditions were mounted to investigate the arches. Though it was determined that the arches were likely built by the same civilization that had built many of the ruins found throughout the Headlands, beyond that no one could ever unravel their mystery. With no other reason to study the arches further, they became little more than a curiosity mentioned in the footnotes the Tindermoot’s history books.
As for the Elven child, he was placed into the care of a young Halfling couple, cousins to the Hiderbiddle Brothers. Not having any children of their own, they raised the Elven baby as their son, giving him the name Gilliad. Growing up among the Halflings of the Tindermoot, the Elven youth soon towered over his friends and family, becoming known in those parts as Gilliad the Giant. Though obviously of Elven heritage, when Gilliad came of age it became apparent that he likely also possessed Human blood, evidenced by his very un-elvish muscular build and the newly grown fuzz on his chin. This further added to the mystery of his birth, though his mixed heritage would eventually be at least partly confirmed by the arrival of the Solastaris refugees from across the sea. Sadly his adopted parents would not live to see that day, for being at least partly of Elven blood Gilliad’s lifespan was much longer than the Halflings who raised him, and so his parents passed away when Gilliad was still a youth, shortly after his fifty-first birthday (marked from the day he was first found by the Hiderbiddle’s), less than a year before the Elves arrived to take up residence in the Headlands.
Once the Solastaris Elves brokered the diplomatic annexation of the Headlands, they set themselves for years to the difficult task of building a new home from the ruins of their ancient outposts. But as they began to settle and expand throughout the newly dubbed Solastaris Refuge, they too discovered more and more of the ancient history left behind in ruins by their ancestors on these rocky shores. With the assistance of Halfling historians they also discovered what the Halflings had come to call the Forgotten Arches. However so old and long forgotten were the outposts of the Solastaris Elves that the modern day Elven refugees had no record of what cataclysmic fate had befallen them. The discovery of the arches, standing tall amid the blasted rock surrounding them is believed to hold the key to unraveling that mystery. But exactly what purpose the arches served or how they fit in is still speculation.
All that is known for certain is that the ancient writing above each of the arches has finally been translated, in an old Solastarian dialect. The first arch, where the Elven child was found reads “Adanedal Ando”, meaning “Elf-man Gate”, either by coincidence or fate speaking to the mixed heritage of Gilliad the Giant. The second arch speaks of something far more ominous, and reads “Amarth Ando”, meaning “Doom Gate”.