History and lore of Ultima Online Phoenix
'Master, of these sagas I have heard, but not of their source. Where is the birthplace of legend?'
'Legends are like the stars. Birthed in the furnace of mystery and time, they both guide and inspire.'
'But you avoid the question.'
'Must you possess this knowledge? Will it make the miracles seem more miraculous? The horrors more horrific?'
'We are scholars, Master. We seek truth.'
'Embrace this truth, then. There are many shadow worlds, each with its own history and myth. These sagas are the myths of our shadow world.'
'Myth is not truth, Master.'
'It is all the truth you will ever need.'
- Conversations of Ahriman the Scholar
The myth of the many shadow worlds has been with the people of Britannia since before anyone can remember. It tells the story of the evil wizard Mondain and his vile grip on Sosaria in the gem of immortality, and how the stranger arrived to defeat Mondain. During that battle, the gem of immortality was shattered, causing Sosaria to split into an untold number of worlds. When this happened, each shadow world began its own history and destiny.
Years later, Lord British and his royal magician Nystul attempted to bring those shards together and restore Sosaria to its original state. Their intentions were pure and noble; guided by the virtues of Britannia, not the least of which Justice, which led them to believe this was the right thing to do. Lord British believed each soul existing on these shadow worlds was incomplete, and thus suffering by not being brought whole again for so long. They were willing to go so far as to use the Codex of Ultimate Wisdom, an ancient manuscript containing powerful and dangerous spells of primal magic thought to be lost long ago in the depths of the Great Stygian Abyss. Had it not been for the intervention of Lord Blackthorn and the witch Minax, Lord British and Nystul may have been successful.
Lord Blackthorn believed that attempting to wield such magic was too dangerous and unpredictable. The knowledge contained in those pages had long been forbidden and exiled to prevent anyone from using them and potentially causing wide spread destruction. Having learned of Lord British's plan, he knew he must convince his old friend not to go through with it, arguing that by bringing these worlds together he would be effectively killing untold millions, each with their own story and right to live.
Lord British was unswayed by his friend's pleads. He was convinced that his destiny was to heal the lands of Sosaria and bring those worlds back together again. This led to a great battle between these two legendary knights of Britannia, which was chronicled in narrative form by scribes decades ago. (Read Blind Virtue through Cataclysm for the full story)
Not all shadow worlds fell victim to the destruction wrought by the great cataclysm brought on by Lord British and Nystul's failed attempt to merge the shards. Nor did the same consequences befall every shard due to the folly of these well meaning legends of Britannia, that being the split between the lands of Felucca and Trammel. This is because in some rare instances history did not follow the same path as with all of the others, and the outcome of the battle was wildly different.
When Lord Blackthorn tried and nearly failed to bring an end to Lord British's madness, he called upon the great witch Minax to aid his cause. Although uneasy bedfellows, Minax and Blackthorn both wanted the same things, to continue living the lives they knew rather than risk everything on the hope of what might be.
Minax was successful in disrupting the binding spell, and during the eruption that followed both Lord British and Nystul were killed. Lord Blackthorn narrowly escaped his own death when the witch abruptly ended her alliance with the knight and began attacking him as well! Luckily Gavrielle was able to spirit the two of them back to Blackthorn Keep where she nursed him back to health.
The witch Minax went on to rule Britannia for years, during perhaps one of the darkest periods in Britannian history. Factions sprung up across the land, including the True Britannians, the Council of Mages, and the Shadow Lords, all opposed to her evil rule for their own reasons, while attempting to fill the vacuum of power left by the king's death. Wars were waged for many years to come and in every corner of the globe.
Meanwhile Lord Blackthorn began hatching his own plans for how he was going to defeat the evil witch and restore Brittania to order. While never as devout a follower as Lord British, he still believed that the virtues could guild the citizens to a peaceful existence. He was haunted, however, by the returning visions of his once possible future had Lord British been successful.
That is until he realized that this narrowly avoided fate could instead be a premonition of his eventual glory. He began experimenting with breeding new creatures which he could use to build a powerful army to not only defeat Minax but regain control over the lands he called home and fought so bravely to protect. This new goal quickly became an obsession, devouring every minute of his waked time and exhausting nearly every resource he owned. Some say the knight went mad and could be seen wandering the halls of Blackthorn Keep, muttering nonsense to himself. His staff eventually fled the keep and no one has seen his Lordship in many many years.
Although not defeated, Minax was kept in check by the warring factions and after decades of struggle the battles became fewer and further between. Over time, citizens simply became unwilling to take up arms for a struggle they scarcely understood.
The common man eventually began living his life as before. There was need of trade, and commerce, of health care and of education. Town councils were formed to manage day to day necessities such as trash removal and law enforcement. Relative peace settled in and became the norm.
Scholars have debated whether this new peace was the work of, or at least aided in some way by, a new Time Lord known as Abracadabra. The exact time of his arrival is unknown, nor is it known from whence he came. But from the moment he arrived no good citizen has waged war upon his neighbor or stolen a single item from them. Men and women of such dark hearts are known only the inhabit the island of Buccaneer's Den, and nary but the bravest of souls would dare step foot there.