The beginning of the Dominion Era, as used in modern parlance, is interestingly enough not the establishment of the Dominion as the name of the time period may suggest. There is only one account that extends beyond the birth of the precursors to the Tretallë, and that is the legend of Prophetess Llyrileýwa, which in turn begins at her alleged birth toward the end of the Time Immortal—a period of time also known as the Time Primeval and the Shrouded Past. The latter moniker of the Time Immortal, the Shrouded Past, is perhaps the most striking as it is a historian's admission to an utter lack of knowledge. All that is known of the Time Immortal is that the elves born during the height of the period were blessed with eternal youth and life.
This in mind, the Dominion Era as described in modern discourse is the period of time between the alleged birth of the legendary Prophetess and the reign of the Pale Imperator Zavyrr a'Zo-Hanyll, specifically the departure of the Urallë across the Thundering Sea to the West under his command. There is a period of time a hundred years long following the end of the Dominion Era known only as the Consolidation, which was ended by the landing of the Ereiltallë on the shores of the West, marking the beginning of the Western Conquest Era.
It is important to note that the Feudal Era of the West overlaps with the last eight thousand years of the Dominion Era and extends right up into the beginning of the Western Conquest Era.
The Prophetess and the Fall of the Elfin Realm
Before there were the Elledynnë and the Tretallë, there were only the Aenevë, the Great Elves of the East, united and undivided. Though little is truly known about the period, the story of the Prophetess hints very strongly at the existence of a strong druidic faith during the Time Immortal, one that dwindled with the passing years until it was balanced precariously on a knife's edge when the Prophetess was born. What is known of the period is that at some point during the lifetime of the prophetess, a new goddess, the Triple Goddess, manifested among the Aenevë. This new goddess bore a message of racial supremacy and promoted hedonism, qualities that are both apparent in the modern-day faith that claims to have descended from that time.
Nevertheless, the Prophetess took on the leadership of the Druidic Order and fought against the growing popularity of the Triple Goddess with all the strength that she could muster. In fact, her dire predictions about the fate of the Elfin realm, if it continued on its path of debauchery, vanity, abandonment of its druidic roots, and its shunning of the Pale God were what earned her the title of Prophetess. The prophetess' words went unheard and soon, it became apparent that there was a change beginning to take root among the elves. Immortality was a gift that had long since been waning by the time the Triple Goddess entered the scene, but after she started to grow in popularity, elves with ashen skin, who matured to have strange stripes across their faces, who were taller and lankier in general compared to the Aenevë, and who lived two or three times longer than the average elf did, began to appear.
Though initially and reluctantly taken as the fulfillment of the Prophetess' warnings, these new elves were immediately seized upon by the growing fanatic base of the Triple Goddess. They were blamed for all the misfortunes of the Elves and called abominations touched by the Triple Goddess' nemesis, the Raven Goddess. The rift between the Pale Ones, as the Prophetess took to calling them, and the rest of the Elfin realm grew to the point that the then-incumbent king declared that they were fit only for lives of menial labour. Despite the Prophetess' best efforts, the Pale Ones were rounded up and herded to the Shrouded Peaks, where they were used as a slave workforce to feed the Elfin realm's growing demand for gold, silver, and precious stones.
Under the pretense of preaching to the savages, the Prophetess introduced the Pale Ones to the Druidic roots of the Elves and promised them salvation through the Pale God. Giving them the tools of a language that only they could understand, the Prophetess secured the future of the Pale Ones and was instrumental in the skirmish that saw them released from their slavery under the mountain. Once the Pale Ones had attained their freedom, they launched a centuries-long war of attrition against the Elfin realm that ultimately shattered the Elfin realm.
Without a common enemy to unite the Pale Ones, who had taken on the name Tretallë, separated into tribes, thus starting the Elfin diaspora.
The Elfin Diaspora
D'Bremiernë Elloreni Qor'Zavë — The Testament of Elloreni the Elder (lit. The memory-book of Elloreni the Elder)
In an age long since passed, during a time that has vanished into the mists of myth, passed down only through the art of telling tales and only recently written down for posterity, lay tales that remain in living memory only as whispers of what transpired.
Many tens of thousands of years before our great Dominion was ever even imagined, our ancestors, and theirs were indistinguishable. We were but one race. Aenevë, we were called. The Great Elves of the East. We were united—one with the land and all its creatures.
Though we had fallen far, even then, we were happy. We were prosperous. We were whole, above all. This peace would not last. One night, as the moon rose, followed by its lover, the first cries of prayer and ecstasy dedicated to a foreign goddess shattered the silence. To this day, no one knows where she came from, only that she did not come alone. She came with an enemy, one decked with the feathers of a raven, beak sharp and eyes beady.
From that day forth, everything changed. As the new goddess grew in power, despite the great Mother's best efforts, we lost our connection to the land. We were severed from our druidic roots. The goddess convinced some of our brethren that we were the spawn of evil. That we, who had only just been born with the gift of paleness, were twisted versions of them corrupted by the raven goddess.
So taken were they by her promise of salvation, so eager were they to indulge their desire for beauty and worldly affluence, that they believed her. In their vainglory, they made themselves golden by the light of the sun. They cut down our sacred trees to grow new ones of silver. And last, but perhaps most insultingly, they took to calling themselves Di'Elledynnë, the children of the stars.
They rose from the forest floor, arms outstretched for the stars. They beat us down, enslaved us, shackled us, and bound us to the merciless earth.
They caged us in the mountains and shoved picks in hands that had never known the hard labour of the mine—we had never had any use for metal other than what was offered by the land. They forced us to mine for their silver and gold, and in our people's shameful weakness, we could do nothing but comply with their wishes.
The great Mother tried to free us, but again, her voice remained unheard. Before she found a way to come to us, many of us died. Of those, few died of hands other than their own. In their self-perceived superiority, they gave us no shrouds of silk or thread as was customary to bury our dead with. They denied us our Elvishness, our identity, our culture. Left with no other choice, we used the mountains as our shrouds instead, and we used the very stone to cover our bones.
To the Elledynnë, we eventually became stupid creatures, beasts of burden that only inconveniently looked like them. They believed us capable of only what we were taught to do, from birth, with the crack of the whip. They believed that we only ate, worked, ate again, relieved ourselves, jumped for the entertainment of our slavers, and then slept to do the same thing the next day, and each day after that.
They forgot that we had once been like them, too. That we had been intelligent and strong. That we were still both. That our lowly circumstance was the result of their stinging betrayal.
The great Mother came to us whenever she could. She helped us create the tongue that we use to this day. She taught us to disguise our writings as scratchings of lunatics on the walls. She told us that salvation—that freedom—would come.
And like our fair-skinned brethren, we did not listen to her words. We had lost hope. We had resigned ourselves. We should have trusted her. When He came, pale and radiant as Death itself, we called him Di'Lertanys, Stranger, for we did not know him.
This Stranger led us beyond the depths where the silver and gold glittered. He led us past the veins of crystal that glowed along the walls. He took us into the very heart of the mountain, where the Primeval Wurm lay slumbering upon the primordial fire. It was there, in that chamber, that we discovered the fragments of fallen stars.
We gathered what we could, but we fled as soon as the Wurm began to stir. For the first time in many, many years, as we fled from the chamber of the Heart, we had hope.
From that day, we toiled under the cruelty of our masters by morning, and by night, we disturbed the tombs of our dead and forged our weapons and armour within them.
Under the guidance of the Stranger and the great Mother, we waited until the day came that the moon turned to blood in the sky. It was on that day that we drew our curved swords and sickles—the implements of death—and broke our chains. We rose up against our slavers and fought until the bitter end.
So very many of our people died that day, and I would have died if not for the sacrifice of a woman that could have been a great matriarch for our people in the time that followed our egress.
Armed with the essence of the stars, whatever magic the Elledynnë could muster against us shattered against our weapons and armour. We hewed through them as we had hewn through the stone for decades before that glorious day. We cut them down and made the stone of the mountain slick with blood—both ours and theirs.
We took the mountain after that. We fled through the Desolation and we mustered our forces. The great Mother tried to stop our course, but she, and we, knew that there was no stopping our cataclysmic hatred against our slavers.
When the day came that we sounded all the horns of Dellerë—the First Nation of the Tretallë, of our people, we shattered the kingdom of the Elledynnë. With our enemy broken at our feet, we spread across the lands that they once called theirs. We showed mercy to those that beseeched the great Mother for it, but we showed only ruthlessness to those that didn't.
Our many clans drifted apart, our ideas for what would happen next different from one clan to the next. We started our own towns. Our own cities. We traded. We tended to the land. We flourished as we were meant to.
We built new lives atop the rubble that remained from what we used to have, and though we had drifted apart then, we knew that should the Elledynnë ever attempt to threaten us again that we would waste no time bickering. We would come together and ensure that we would never be enslaved again.
The Stranger, in his infinite wisdom, had seen it fit to give us—his chosen people—the gift of deliverance from slavery. We would never allow ourselves to be shackled again. We would break those who would dare try to break us.
The Beginnings of the Dominion
The Forest of Bones and the tradition of the Bone Tree are both believed to have originated from the massive excavation project that followed the discovery of the Throne. It took many hundreds of years for the Throne to be unearthed, and in that same time, many hundreds of lives were also lost. It is believed that the families of these excavators shattered their bones and marked the trees at the site of their death with the bones, thus initiating one of the most long-standing and most important traditions of the Dominion, as well as giving the forest its name.
For a handful of millennia after the excavation was finished, the Bone Elves of the city that had found the Throne established the Kingship of the Bone Trees, a minor kingdom that absorbed nearby Bone Elfin city-states and towns in its domain. It was not until the first Imperator of the Dominion, Cilritanë a'Detvida, who had grander ambitions than any of his predecessors, that the armies of the Kingship swept across the land, subjugating and annexing all the lands of the then-disparate Bone Elfin peoples.