One of the last major consequences of the Dawn War ultimately led to the banishment of a god and the splintering of a mortal race into three parts. This event, sometimes referred to as the Sundering, also represented the ongoing dark and sinister impact of the Abyssal Heart. No creature, god or mortal, knows how many other catastrophes, wars, plagues, and horrors have been initiated or caused by the Heart, and how many more such disasters are to come.
A number of legends describe the split between eladrin, elves, and drow. Not surprisingly, each race clings to its own interpretation of events. The truth of what divided one race into three, however, remains forever lost to myth and folklore. By comparing numerous sources, it becomes possible to construct an overall picture of why the races ultimately split.
The goddess Lolth, daughter of Corellon and sister to Sehanine, helped fashion the mortal race known as the eladrin. Lolth gave the eladrin the gift of beauty, grace, and a hidden spark of fiery passion. Despite these contributions, the eladrin offered most of their veneration to Corellon and Sehanine. At times, a deep and burning jealousy raged through Lolth, and she increasingly believed her father favored her sister.
In an attempt to prove her worth and demonstrate her loyalty, Lolth helped guard the Abyssal Heart. She served as commander of a vast fortress within the Elemental Chaos, protecting the Heart from the outside, and protecting the outside from the Heart. Unfortunately, Lolth’s proximity to the Abyssal Heart proved her undoing. Bit by bit, the Heart influenced and manipulated Lolth, bringing her jealousy to a simmering rage against her father, her sister, and even the mortal eladrin. Living in the chaotic world of the Elemental Chaos, Lolth unknowingly grew to enjoy her new home.
When Asmodeus approached Lolth and asked for access to the Abyssal Heart, the goddess hesitated and instead of refusing, listened to the Heart’s whispers. She not only allowed Asmodeus to approach the Heart, but she taught him how to carve away a small piece of it. Whether she knew what Asmodeus had planned or not, she obviously knew what destructive powers the shard possessed, and what chaos might be unleashed.
After the Great Betrayal, Lolth attempted reconciliation with her father, Corellon. Throughout the Dawn War, their relationship had grown strong. Since the end of the war, however, their relationship had soured. Lolth’s inner passions undermined the reconciliation, and Corellon spurned his daughter.
After the Gods of Dawn defeated the primordials, the alliances, cooperation, and agreements between deities evaporated. Many gods returned to squabbling with each other and vying for power in the new order of creation. For some gods, the end of the conflict meant a loss of power, prestige, and influence. The more powerful gods consolidated their power and sought to and return the lesser gods to more subservient roles.
One such relationship existed amongst Corellon, Sehanine, and Lolth. Prior to the war between gods and primordials, both Lolth and her sister, Sehanine, served as subordinates to their father, Corellon. Lolth served as her father’s envoy and conducted a large share of his business. Meanwhile, Sehanine helped Corellon with gathering information and uncovering secrets from other gods. When the Creation Wars began, the relationship between these three deities changed, and became an alliance of equals. While Sehanine continued her role as spy, Corellon and Lolth fought together and cooperated in every aspect of life. On numerous occasions, one god invariably saved the other’s life. According to drow legends, Lolth and her father eventually became intimate. Not surprisingly, elves and eladrin alike consider this a blasphemous and disgusting notion.
When the gods defeated the primordials, many of the lesser gods looked forward to continuing their wartime roles. The greater gods, however, desired a return to the “old ways.” In more cynical terms, the greater gods no longer needed the full support of the lesser ones.
Lolth, always a proud, ambitious, and arrogant goddess, expected to retain her equal authority alongside Corellon. Instead, she found her situation humiliating. Her former partner no longer viewed her as an equal. With each new insult, with every passing indignity inflicted, Lolth became increasingly angry and vengeful. She turned her disappointment into hatred, and thus decided to extract revenge against her father and sister.
Even as Lolth contemplated her vendetta, Corellon devoted most of his attention towards the eladrin. His created race, the second mortal race ever created (the first being dragonborn), became the envy of many gods. Corellon’s creations earned Lolth’s undying hatred.
Lolth targeted the eladrin for her vengeance as a way of hurting Corellon. Using powdered fragments from the Abyssal Heart, she concocted a potent magical brew. This elixir was designed to bring power to those who imbibed it. At the same time, the potion instilled the imbiber with grand ambition, feelings of superiority, and an intense scorn for weaker, lesser creatures. Lolth slipped her brew into the water source in an eladrin city and waited for the inevitable results.
Before Corellon learned of the plot, a number of eladrin drank from the fountain. Their skin turned dark as night, and their demeanor turned sinister and conniving. Although Corellon saved most of his people from drinking the tainted water, many of his beloved eladrin twisted and warped into creatures now known as drow. Some of these creatures went on to convince or force other eladrin to consume the water.
The eladrin, disgusted and frightened of these familiar yet alien creatures, banished the drow from their midst. For their part, the drow displayed intense dislike for the weak, pale, and gutless eladrin – and they also reacted angrily to the banishment. Within days, bloody conflict sparked between the two races.
The war between eladrin and drow escalated quickly into a bloody quagmire. Families split, children opposed parents, and entire communities faltered. The two sides became intractable enemies with no room for compromise or surrender.
Eventually, the drow fled the Feywild before the enraged collective might of the eladrin. The drow escaped to the Underdark of the Middle World, forever relinquishing their homes in the fey realm. The drow have lived beneath the world ever since, plotting and planning ultimate vengeance against their former kin.
The drow-eladrin conflict inevitably resulted in one other tremendous change for feykind. During the brief but bloody war, some eladrin looked upon the carnage with disbelief, disgust, and anger against both sides. These eladrin believed the two sides could form a compromise and avoid violence. Unfortunately, their pleas for diplomacy and peace met with disdain, derision, and insults from both parties. At the height of the conflict, many eladrin withdrew from their homes in the Feywild and migrated to the Middle World. These refugees declared neutrality in the overall conflict. These eladrin, separated from their kin by philosophy and political views, eventually became known as elves.