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In history, the Time before Time, an epoch prior to the emergence of mortals, the obyriths held dominion over the Abyss. Among all creatures woven into existence, only they boasted the ingenuity and inherent safeguards to thrive in this unrelenting realm of absolute turmoil and wickedness. In that primeval era, when the multiverse was but a fledgling and the inner layers of the Abyss still quaked from the echoes of creation’s birth, the obyriths congregated in the uppermost stratum, known as the Plain of Infinite Portals.
Here they governed the desolate expanse from colossal fortresses of iron, perched on the edges of vast abysses that opened into the underlying layers. With caution, they explored these depths, never lingering, always returning to their strongholds to wage war amongst themselves or to indulge in unspeakable rituals and dark experiments. These twisted acts were intended to forge life in their own corrupt and heinous likeness.
The tanar’ri, the most abundant offspring of the obyriths, filled the ranks of their masters’ legions and attended their opulent banquets, yet they were not alone in their servitude. The metallic fortress-lords, whose voices resounded with croaks and cackles, incessantly demanded a ceaseless supply of demon vassals to safeguard themselves and to conquer the territories and hidden wisdom of adjacent obyriths. In the immense spawning pits controlled by the sibriex obyriths, life teemed and squirmed in its infancy, and with each new generation came fresh permutations of wickedness and corruption.
The internal strife among the obyriths represented only a sliver of a grander saga, for the epoch known as the Age before Ages was marked by tumultuous warfare. It was then that the primal clashes between order and anarchy spilled forth from the Inner Planes, seeping into the nascent fabric of the Outer and Material Planes, still in their formative stages.
Central to this ancient struggle stood an audacious obyrith lord known as the Queen of Chaos, who subjugated many of her competitors under her emblematic standard, banishing the unyielding lords to the obscure and furthest recesses of the unexplored Abyss. The Queen managed to rally even the tanar’ri to her cause by promoting her most loyal attendant and companion, the mighty tanar’ri lord Miska the Wolf-Spider, to the exalted status of “Prince of Demons.” In bestowing this title, she positioned him as the preeminent figure among his race in the all-seeing eyes of the obyriths.
With this formidable assembly at her command, the Queen and her chief lieutenant aligned themselves with the forces of chaos, skewing the battle against the principles of law. Miska’s ferocious demonic legions claimed substantial victories, expanding both territory and influence, especially within the Material Plane.
Realm by realm succumbed to the Queen’s control, and with each triumph, the once steadfast laws of existence began to waver and dissolve into something transient; natural laws transformed into distant echoes from a more rational era. Chaos rose to prominence, and with it, the Abyss soared in its might and reach.
The Chaos Ascendant: An Upheaval of Order and the Rise of the Abyss
After countless ages of strife, the warfare finally reached a deadlock on the mystical world of Oerth, a realm imbued with enchantment and brimming with untapped potential. In the looming shadow of White Plume Mountain, a towering volcano, the battleground was set on the Field of Pesh. It was here that Miska the Wolf-Spider faced his downfall at the hands of the Wind Dukes of Aaqa, lawful beings woven from the very fabric of elemental air.
These descendants of a bygone empire that stretched across multiple worlds wielded the Rod of Seven Parts. With its power, they ensnared Miska in an extradimensional dungeon within Pandemonium, effectively stripping the Queen of Chaos of her mightiest ally and the linchpin of tanar’ric unity. The tale of this defeat, and the formidable artifact that brought it about, resonated swiftly across the Great Wheel, irrevocably altering the complexion and dynamics of the eternal battle.
Upon the vast expanse of the Plain of Infinite Portals, the unity among the obyrith began to crack and crumble, and the Queen herself was driven to the shadowy recesses of the Abyss. She sought sanctuary in the malodorous mire known as the Steaming Fen. Sensing this vulnerability, her adversaries seized the moment to strike. From the lofty realms of Arborea, the ethereal Faerie Queen Morwel, ruling the eladrin Court of Stars, commanded her regal legions of ghaele knights to unleash a ruinous assault upon the beleaguered plain. The obyrith lords, entrenched in their fortresses, fought desperately but found themselves overwhelmed. Thousands perished, including both lords and their demon minions, and not merely by eladrin hands.
For at this crucial juncture, the treacherous tanar’ri ignited an open rebellion, casting down their overlords even as the heavens were filled with the shining splendor of celestial warriors clad in resplendent golden armor. The eladrin forces, with a cold indifference to the distinctions between obyrith and tanar’ri, struck down both with merciless precision. Panic-stricken demons of all kinds fled into the myriad chasms, descending into the Abyss’s infinite and inhospitable depths, leaving behind a battlefield forever altered by chaos and treachery.
Some were lost without a trace, consumed by arcane abysses or felled by those who fled alongside them. Others, however, not only survived but thrived, exerting dominion over entire layers of the plane. The tanar’ri, in particular, demonstrated a remarkable aptitude for forging a unique, symbiotic bond with the Abyss. Where once Miska the Wolf-Spider had stood alone as the Prince of Demons, now numerous “evolved” tanar’ri vied for that coveted distinction.
By the time they had reasserted control over the Plain of Infinite Portals and eradicated the remaining eladrin sentinels, there was no lingering doubt about who held the reins of power in the Abyss. The tanar’ri’s ascendancy was undisputed, and a new chapter in the plane’s tumultuous history had begun.
The Blood War: A Symphony of Chaos and Conflict in the Abyss
With the withdrawal of the enigmatic Queen of Chaos and the dispersion of the obyriths, the colossal clash between law and chaos settled into an uncomfortable equilibrium. An unsteady stalemate of opposing philosophies emerged, a delicate balance that has, with minor fluctuations, persisted into the present epoch. Yet, for some of the combatants, laying down arms was never an option, as their very essence rejected the notion of peace.
Long after the cosmic landscape had resigned to an uneasy truce, the demons and devils remained locked in a relentless dance of destruction. Their conflicts spilled across all of the Lower Planes, consuming countless generations in a neverending cycle of violence. This titanic struggle eventually crystallized into what is now known as the Blood War. Over time, its historical roots in the grand law/chaos conflict became overshadowed by a tradition of endless and savage brutality.
While generals and foot soldiers waged war across the nightmarish battlefields of the Lower Planes, the domestic front was not without turmoil. The powerful tanar’ri, who had risen from the darkest recesses of the Abyss to claim dominion over entire realms, became embroiled in power struggles over the supreme leadership of demonkind. Simultaneously, these tanar’ric lords undertook a relentless hunt for the surviving obyriths, slaughtering them in a relentless campaign to extinguish their existence from the annals of history.
As the dust settled, it became painfully clear that the tanar’ri, in their multitude and inherent chaos, were far too fractious to coalesce under a singular reign. The demons, driven by jealousy and ambition, turned against one another with a ferocity that mirrored the larger Blood War. This internal battle, while occasionally marked by nuances, lacked nothing in terms of brutality.
It is this relentless internal conflict that has come to define the modern Abyss, shaping the existence of its denizens and echoing through the vast, chaotic expanses of the plane. The Blood War, a grim testament to the indomitable nature of chaos and conflict, continues to rage, an eternal symphony of destruction and strife that resonates in every dark corner of the infernal realms.
Learn more about the Abyss: About the Abyss