Legend has it that at the dawn of creation, two great powers began to stir.
The Primordials, massive beings made of raw elements whose wild and unpredictable nature perfectly reflected the entropy of their home, the Elemental Chaos. They embodied both creation and destruction, and were served by a race of elementals called archons.
The Gods, powerful entities infused with the essence of order. Rather than embodying physical elements, the deities each represented a different belief, desire, or concept. Their home, the Astral Plane, could be shaped according to their whims, and they built resplendent domains from which to command their own servants, the immortal angels.
Separated by their very nature as well as an extensive planar boundary, the two powers had little cause to be involved with each other, at first.
The Primordials sought to demonstrate their great power by constructing a mighty work – a great mass of earth, infused with fire, covered by water, blanketed with air and rocked by mighty storms. This chaotic ball of elements came to be called the World.
The Gods looked upon the World and saw great potential in it. Once it had been built, each of them stepped in to make their own improvements, calming the violent churnings of the World’s shifting surface, and working with the other deities to create a joint masterpiece.
Pelor and Sehanine separated day into night. Melora calmed the thrashing seas and covered the land with flora and fauna. Once prepared, many of the deities came forward to create races in their own image – Moradin forged the dwarves, Corellon spun the elves, and Lolth made the drow. Others, like Bane and Erathis, began to teach the fledgling races of their own unique ideals.
When the Primordials returned to their great work, they were horrified to see the changes the Gods had wrought upon it. They sought to make the World from a perfect, ever-changing balance of uncorrupted elements – but the Gods had destroyed that perfection by quelling the mighty roaring seas, by slowing its once-mighty winds, and cooling its towering volcanoes… all in the name of the World supporting their pollution of “life.”
When the Primordials stepped forward, intent on destroying the World and rebuilding it anew, the Gods intervened. Diplomacy was impossible between two powers so opposite in nature, and so began the Dawn War. The Gods outnumbered their foes by a fair count, but the Primordials were mightier by far individually. While angels and archons clashed across countless battlefields, the Gods themselves teamed up to defeat their chaotic counterparts. Many mortal races even began to first learn the arts of war from the likes of Kord and Bane, taking up arms alongside angels to fight for their home. Thousands of mortals ranging from the smallest of halflings to the mightiest of dragons joined forces to turn the tide of battle. The Primordials had underestimated their opponents, and tried to counter the Gods’ strategy by creating the likes of the Titans, Genasi, and Efreeti, but it was too late.
One by one, the Primordials fell as the tactics and numbers on the side of the Gods made them victorious. Many on both sides lie dead, the Primordials sinking back into the Chaos, while the corpses of Gods drifted off into the astral. Their threat banished from the world, the Gods continued to lavish their attentions on the mortal world until gradually fading back into the Astral Sea, content to watch their creation from a distance and admire their handiwork. With no common enemy left to unite them, the differences between the Gods led to many unfortunate but unavoidable conflicts, which continue to exist today as the struggle between good and evil.
But legend has it that the Primordials were not completely eradicated, and that a few linger still in the vast reaches of the Elemental Chaos. They are rumored to live as weakened shells, unable to act for fear of the Gods’ wrath. Others are said to be imprisoned by constructions of divine make, while a rare few have essences that cling to the edges of existence in the slim hopes that their scattered followers will find powerful magic to resurrect them. No conflict can ever rage as fiercely as the Dawn War once did, but if even a single Primordial were to be returned to its full strength, it might very well spell the doom of the World, now that the deities no longer act as one.
One battle of particular interest occurred near the end of the Dawn war. The ancient dragon god, Io, having created the mightiest of the mortal races and proved himself the strongest of all the Gods, flew alone into the Elemental Chaos. He was met by a Primordial known as Erek-Hus, the King of Terror, and the two began a battle that has no equal in all of history. No other deity had stood alone against a Primordial and won, but Io sought to change that. The dragon god’s mighty claws and fearsome breath wounded his opponent, but he would not die. Instead, Erek-Hus lifted his world-cleaving axe and split the deity from skull to tail. With great Io slain, it seemed as though the Primordials could easily win the Dawn War – mortals and Gods alike paused for one chilling moment as they saw their doom in the blade of Erek-Hus.
But a strange thing happened. From the two pieces of Io’s corpse arose two new gods: Bahamut and Tiamat, the children of Io. Together, they were able to outwit and destroy Erek-Hus, but no sooner had they succeeded than they began to fight each other. Bahamut had inherited the greater portion of Io’s might, and drove off Tiamat, who went to spend the rest of the Dawn War in seclusion while her brother championed the Gods’ cause in Io’s stead.
Scholars disagree as to why Io split into two gods instead of being slain outright. Some say that his power was too great to be ended in one blow, but others believe it had to do with his self-conflicting nature. Within Io had existed a duality: great greed mixed with great nobility, and a sense of justice mixed with hubris. Because deities embody thoughts and concepts, and Io was comprised of two very different trains of thought, his bisection separated the warring halves within himself.
Whatever the reason for their birth, the siblings themselves seem to have little interest in it. They are content to further their new goals according to their natures, and this constantly puts them at odds. After the Dawn War, the rivalry between Bahamut and Tiamat raged without cease, often culminating in open warfare between their followers and even direct confrontations between the two deities, which always seem to end in stalemates. Neither will rest until the other is destroyed.