Lionheart: Part 1 – Introduction and History

IEN Flag by John "Paladine" Baxter.  Used by permission.

IEN Flag by John “Paladine” Baxter. Used by permission.

By Adam Miller (Night Druid)

I love the work Adam has done on the Elven Navy and its denizens. Adam introduces us to that most glorious of elven strongholds – Lionheart itself! I hope you enjoy it as much as I do! ~ Blessings, Sable

Notes

This is my rendering of Lionheart, headquarters of the IEN. It is my attempt to try to give this place the detail that it both needs and deserves. I have taken great liberties with this document, as the details of the base were left vague at best. I have read the tiny little description in the Radiant Dragon novel, but my version does vary from what was written. I’ve tried to stay as true to form as I can, but recent releases detailing elvish magic and power have changed things considerably. By necessity, I’ve had to include High Magic and its implications on the Fleet, as well as other factors. Many of my ideas were spawned from reading Cormanthor, Empire of Elves, Elves of Evermeet, and Evermeet, a Novel. Thus, this document has a colored view of elves as extremely magical beings capable of creating something very special. I have given Lionheart a great deal of power and size that may not be possible with some games. It is my belief that a military the size of the IEN would need a vast headquarters to run their fleet from, not a simple ring of armadas. Such a ring would not have the facilities I believe the elves would need to effectively run their fleet across hundreds of spheres. Thus, I have made some changes in design:

  • Lionheart is not a ring of armadas, though it does have that appearance. Instead, it was born of High Magic upon a Mother Tree, and as a result, is enormous (over 2000’ across).
  • Lionheart is not periodically disassembled and moved. Instead, it has a teleport power (thanks to its Mythal) that moves it across the spheres.
  • Lionheart has a mythal. I really can’t think of a reason why it shouldn’t, and the benefits of having one are numerous. To help maintain this mythal is a magical artifact that gives the elves the power to use High Magi in virtually any sphere.
  • The only other real change from Radiant Dragon is that the “coin- shaped vessel that housed the magnificent blue-and-silver Elven Council…” Instead of a vessel, it is now a tower inside Lionheart. Actually, I found the idea of a “vessel” for such a council to be somewhat amusing; it’d have to be well past the 100 ton limit for helms to hold such a large room (I envision something like the US Hall of Congress), to say nothing of offices and quarters for the delegates! A fleet would be needed just to house and transport such a large political body.

Introduction

For the elves of Wildspace, no name is more respected and honored. Humans see Lionheart as a simple military base; the mere headquarters of the Elvish Navy. The dwarves see it as a hopeless dream of holding a vast and unwieldy fleet together. The scro see it as a target. None know the true nature of this, the most powerful of elvish strongholds.

Lionheart is more than a simple military base. Indeed, the name has been applied to a succession of such bases. To the elves, Lionheart is the keystone to holding their people together. It is the glue that unites the scattered elvish colonies together into a single, cohesive nation that has kept the elves on a dozen worlds from extinction. It is also a political center, where various elvish kingdoms can settle their disputes without resorting to violence. Indeed, Lionheart to the elves is the means for them to hold back the encroachment of other races on their sovereign territories. It is the nexus point of the elvish people, allowing communication and trade to continue in a hostile galaxy.

It is from this station that the supreme commander of the Elvish Navy reigns over her fleet. She directs the fleet in times of war and peace from her office in the crystalline towers of Lionheart. Advising her is a cabinet of the seven highest-ranking admirals in the fleet. Each of these admirals is given charge of overseeing a particular region of space consisting of several dozen systems. They keep her advised of current events in space and keep the local fleets in line.

A council of representatives from every elvish nation is also found on Lionheart. This advisory board is responsible for keeping elvish nations from going to war with each other and concentrating on their true foes, such as drow and scro. This council is plagued by political intrigue, blackmail, and back-stabbing (both figurative and literal). At times of war, this council simply gives the Grand Admiral all the power she wants or needs.

Lionheart also boasts one of the greatest libraries in Known Space, holding the vast accumulated knowledge of the elvish people. No port has more accurate or complete star charts, nor is there any place better equipped to accurately project fleet movements across a hundred star systems. Matching this incredible resource is a vast collection of magical items and spell casters. No where in all of Known Space will one find a greater treasure trove of magic. Some whisper that there is enough magic on Lionheart to shatter whole worlds. These rumors may just be that: rumors.

In some ways, Lionheart more closely resembles a small city rather than a citadel. It’s vast size and huge population put it on par with many cities of wildspace. Such a large population is needed, however, to effectively run a fleet that spans across a hundred spheres or more. Dock laborers work at a feverish pace to keep up with the comings and goings of ships, and scribes race throughout the base delivering messages. It is a hectic base where work is fast and furious, much to the shock of newcomers. The normally relaxed pace of the elves is replaced with a flurry of activity that is normally only seen in the dwarvish race. Of course, security is always tight, but does not interfere with the workings of Lionheart. Somehow, throughout all this confusion, the Fleet gets run and the elves remain the dominant power in space.

Overview of Lionheart

From a distance, Lionheart is no different than any other elvish base. It appears as a great ring of seven elvish armadas linked together with a number of towers on their backs and protected by a curtain wall consisting of the wings of the craft. It’s not until one draws closer that they realize just how big Lionheart really is. The whole station dwarves all other elvish bases. It stretches almost 2000’ in diameter, with each individual armada having an individual diameter of almost 100’. The thick wings form a curtain wall as solid as any made of stone. It rises over 100’ above the gravity plane of Lionheart to a huge, circular deck. The lower parts of the wings dip well-below the gravity plane to tangle together in a circular shape. From below, Lionheart appears as a great flower in space; quite deceptive, given its great military might. The towers that rise within the protective curtain wall are the abodes of admirals, aides, and diplomats.

Less impressive than the towers or the wall is the docking area below it. The tail sections of the armadas have been converted into docks and warehouses for ships of the Fleet. This area is the busiest of the whole station. Ships from across the whole of Known Space arrive and depart on an hourly basis. In addition to that traffic, the elves maintain a number of ships on special duty at Lionheart. Some are guardian ships, protecting the base against attack. Others are messengers while others stand ready for special duties. For good reason the dock laborers of Lionheart are among the best paid in the Spheres.

The lowest level of Lionheart is given over to a vast garden. This huge, circular greenhouse provides enough air to keep everyone on the station alive and comfortable. The plants inside this garden are drawn from a hundred worlds. Some are nearly priceless in their beauty and rarity. Many elves spend their off-time in this garden in quiet meditation. It is an island of tranquility in a sea of activity.

History

Many humans are surprised to learn that the current Lionheart station is only five hundred years old. What they fail to realize is that there have been several Lionhearts in the past. Some were destroyed, while others were abandoned. The current Lionheart is the first to be a free-floating station, and is the largest and most powerful of the line. Many elves say that this will be the last of the Lionheart stations; it is so well-built and so well-defended that it will never fall. Some sages darkly whisper that the elves don’t have the resources to build another; if this one falls, the Fleet falls with it.

The first Lionheart station was built over twenty thousand years ago, during a time of much strife between the elvish peoples. Lloth and other foul demons were corrupting many elves, turning them against each other. Civil wars and mass murders were common. It was a Dark Age for the elves. The Fleet, for the first time, saw a need for a place to gather their resources and fight back the incursion of darkness. Thus, the first Lionheart station was constructed. From there, the Fleet launched many campaigns against their dark brethren, driving them from Known Space. It served well for at least ten thousand years, but was destroyed in the final years of that dark war. Dark elf saboteurs infiltrated the base and worked dark magic. They opened a portal to the Abyss, unleashing a horde of monsters on the unsuspecting base. Within a few years, not even the asteroid that it was built upon remained. All record to its location has been lost in modern times.

The second station was built well after the drow-elf war was over. The Elvish Navy, almost completely destroyed during the Dark Wars (the collective name of the elf/drow wars across a dozen worlds), started to rebuild. Operating out of their homeworld, the elves began the slow process of building new warships. Much of their magical knowledge had been lost, and the elves were forced to start over in a number of technologies. The great behemoths of the Dark Wars were forever lost, and the elves could barely hold more than a hundred ships together in a single, organized navy. At the same time, this was a time of growth for the elves; old homelands were destroyed and displaced people were forced to find new ones. On a number of worlds, the elves were blessed with fertility by their gods and their populations grew. Yet the fear of another Dark War was great, and the Elvish Navy was needed to again open trade and communication routes through to the dozens of elvish worlds. Thus Lionheart II was commissioned, both to serve as a military outpost and to be a major port of call for merchant ships.

Lionheart II was located in a small sphere with a few minor worlds and many asteroids. Though not an important population center, this sphere (which became known as Lionspace after the base it held) was on many important trade routes. It served as a central hub from which the Navy could reopen communication and trade routes. A fully mature starfly plant, as big as a small moon, was chosen as the site of Lionheart II. For the next three thousand years, Lionheart II served as a major trading center. The sphere became heavily populated by elves (and remains so to this day), but Lionspace started drifting from major flow rivers. It’s importance as a military headquarters waned, and Lionheart II was abandoned as the Fleet’s headquarters. Instead, it’s military role was significantly cut back and it’s mercantile role took over. During it’s time, Lionheart II served well and the Elvish Navy increased its size by well over tenfold.

After Lionspace began its drift from popular flow lanes, the Elvish Navy decided to relocate to another, more centralized sphere. Gatespace, on several flow rivers, became the Navy’s primary choice. Like Lionspace, Gatespace held no major worlds other than three uninhabited gas giants. The most habitable place in the sphere was a large asteroid chain orbiting one of the gas giants. Lionheart III was built at the center of the chain, on a small asteroid. The elves built vast docks that rival the size of those of Bral and constructed a massive castle inside the largest crater. The walls of the crater were fortified into walls of solid stone. Delicate towers rose into the night sky, fragile looking but as sturdy as those twice as broad. Great chambers were bored into the asteroid, opening up vast barracks and interior dry docks and hangers. Other asteroids in the chain were cultivated and were soon producing the food the station needed.

With Lionheart III located within it, Gatespace was rapidly becoming another elf-dominated sphere like Lionspace. The period of elvish expansion ended, however, almost five thousand years ago. The thri-kreen, the mantis-like race of spacefairers, launched a series of religious crusades against virtually every other species in wildspace. While many races suffered under kreen assaults, the elves bore the brunt of the attacks. Elvish flesh was a favorite delicacy to the Kreen, and the elves viciously defended their religious beliefs. In an attempt to break the elves, the Kreen launched an all-out assault on Gatespace. For the better part of a decade, the Kreen sent fleet after fleet into the sphere in an effort to eradicate the elves. Eventually, they succeeded. Gatespace fell to the relentless assaults, and Lionheart III was destroyed. Yet, the assault was equally devastating to the Kreen. In their assaults on Gatespace, they lost well over half their fleet and were too badly spread out to take advantage of their victory. The elves quickly rallied with their allies and moved against the Kreen, driving them from Known Space once and for all.

The fourth station to bare the Lionheart name was located in Spiralspace, then virtually uninhabited and empty. The elves chose a minor asteroid within the sphere to be the site of their base, which would serve them throughout the Unhuman War and the Great Hunt afterwards. Attacked at least twice during that war, the base never fell. Yet, this station would prove to be the shortest-lived of all of the stations. While it proved a valuable stronghold during the Unhuman War, its facilities were far too inadequate to support and command the Elvish Fleet. This was realized near the end of the War. Individual captains disobeyed orders and even admirals tried to break away from the Fleet to form their own little empires. Combined with the encroachment in the sphere by other races, Grand Admiral Leafbower decided to abandon Lionheart in favor of building the greatest base of all time. The remnants of the fourth Lionheart base can still be found on the Rock of Bral.

The Fifth Lionheart Station

The fifth Lionheart, the modern station, is the largest and the first station to be a free-floating space station. To the surprise of many, the station was not constructed from the hulls of Armada warships. At the time, these ships were too rare and precious for such a venture. The elves had but a handful, and those were needed to guard against a recursion of the goblin-kin power. Instead, the elves choose a still-developing starfly plant as the basic building block of their base. This starfly plant was fairly mature, with leaves stretching out for a mile. A plant this big would be needed for what the elves had in mind. Once the plant was secured, cleared of any nasty space monsters, and magically purified, it was ready for the next step in Admiral Leafbower’s plan.

The greatest High Mages the Fleet had in its service at the time were gathered together for this grand undertaking. Serving as Center was Seljuril, perhaps one of the greatest High Mages that had ever served the Fleet. The four High Mages that surrounded her were legends in their own right. All were very powerful yet fiercely loyal to the Fleet and to their people. Surrounding them were a circle of nine more High Mages, each easily as powerful as an Archmage. Normal circumstances would not have brought such individuals together was it not for Admiral Leafbower’s dream of the greatest base of all time. The Crown Jewel of the Fleet, he described it. Fortunately, they had the wisdom to see his vision, and eagerly joined the venture.

The first step in constructing the Crown Jewel was the casting of the Elaorman, or the Construction, ritual. This ritual was vital to turning the vast, twisted space plant into an elvish stronghold. This ritual took seven days to accomplish, as the elves worked together to twist and form the plant into the shape of a ring of armadas. While the base took on the basic shape and form of a typical elvish outpost, its size would dwarf them all. The larger leaves and branches folded and melded into the shapes of armadas, while the smaller leaves joined together and grew into a vast curtain wall. Crystal towers arose inside the curtain wall, delicate spires reaching for the nearby stars. At the conclusion of the spell, the plant solidified, becoming as hard as stone. The entire base was petrified, making it a strong and stable construction. Exhausted, the High Magi collapsed into deep slumbers from which they could not be awaken for two weeks. The first step of the plan was complete, and after they awoke, the High Magi left for secret retreats of their making to meditate for a year and replenish their powers. During the absence of the High Magi, the other elves made the base ready for the second stage. They also started making the base livable by furnishing barracks, mess halls, and the like.

Two years later, the High Magi again gathered to cast the second of their rituals. Their energies had been restored and they were ready for the next stage. This time, they chose the N’Maernthor, or Hidden Homeland, ritual. The N’Maernthor ritual was not as complex as the Elaorman ritual, and required less of their energy to cast. Even so, it took four days to successfully complete the ritual, leaving the High Magi exhausted. For the hundreds of elves also participating in the ritual, the four days of dancing and lending their energies to the High Magi left them sore and tired. Most fell into deep reverie, and could not be aroused for days. Luckily, a vast fleet from the Elvish Nation stood watch over the station, protecting it from harm. The magic of the ritual enwrapped the base in an illusionary starfield, making the base appear as nothing more than part of the distant space. Effectively, the base was invisible; only by approaching within two miles of the place does a ship penetrate its cloak. In modern times, the Fleet would use the N’Maernthor ritual in the creation of cloaked ships. Again, the High Magi returned to their retreats to restore their energies and make ready the third and last phase of construction.

The “final touch” to the Crown Jewel of the Fleet was the laying of a mythal. The High Magi gathered for one last time, combining their magic to lay the final enchantment that would make Lionheart the one and true headquarters of the Fleet. This enchantment was the most complex and the most intricate cast upon the base yet, and the process was long and difficult. To successfully lay the mythal, at least one hundred elves would be required to join the circle, providing power and life force for the budding mythal. Surrounding them, a thousand elves, many family members of the elves in the inner ring, danced and sang, paying tribute to their gods. Seljuril, leading the song, called out to the gods, asking for them to bless the station and grant it the gift of a mythal. The singing and dancing lasted several days, building to a great climax. The elves, exhausted from the nonstop dancing, do not have an accurate account of what happened, but they vaguely recall that a circle of mystical elves, which joined her in dance, surrounded Seljuril. These elves are said to be none other than avatars of the elvish gods. As the dance reached its climax, the avatars burst into pillars of fire that converged upon Seljuril. She took the magical fire into her form and took flight as a bird of fire. Her phoenix form spread its wings over the entire station, enshrouding all of Lionheart with a mythal. The elves again fell into a deep slumber to awake a week later to their new headquarters. Of Seljuril, there was no sign. Yet it is said that she is watching over the station, even to this day. Sometimes, elves catch a fleeting glimpse of a beautiful young elf maiden in the remote parts of the station.

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