The Wasted Age of Elves and Dwarfs
The planet cooled. The Elves tended to the surface while the Dwarfs maintained the machines which kept the Serpent Men in comfortable hibernation both under the direction of Brood-mothers. These great biological computers at the heart of the Serpent Man burrows survived millennium. They dominated the vassal races through advanced chemical and psychic controls. They were not however immortal despite the perfection of their design.
It is unclear whether the virus landed on a stray comet, either by accident or design, if it came to Mud’s atmosphere as the first or stray shot of an intergalactic war, or perhaps if it erupted fully formed and vicious from the Escapee. Perhaps it evolved as micro-organisms must as their natural hosts die off. However come it did. The Elves and Dwarfs were unaffected but the Serpent men and in particular the Brood-Mothers were devastated. A few stray colonies survived through their own ingenuity or the attention of their Dwarf keepers. Even fewer fashioned biological space-craft and fled amongst the stars.
The consequence of this illness was that the hitherto vassal races of Elf and Dwarf found themselves with freedom of choice. The Elves, in main decided to embrace this freedom and establish themselves as the masters of the planet and fashion it to their tastes. The Dwarfs on the other hand wished to keep to the Serpent Men’s master plan and engineer a world fit for their few surviving masters. War resulted.
Both sides in the conflict were terrible and without mercy.
The Dwarfs pulled on Serpent bio-sciences to wreak havoc upon the elves with biological weapons like the Code V affliction, the Rage virus and other undead plagues. They unleashed the great saurian monsters of their masters upon the Elves and rejoiced in the destruction of their enemies.
The Elves in turn tended their aesthetic refinement to torture, rape and terrorism. Using captured Serpent Men survivors they bred Orc vassals as disposable warriors to turn the Dwarfholds into charnel pits. They taught captured higher dragons to speak and solicited them to their side as partners.
In the course of this conflict Man evolved, and man bred. Slowly he crept towards fire and tools almost unnoticed. He blundered into and around magic and the sciences, whole cultures evolving around the refuse and abandoned battlefields of the Great War.
The higher Dragons sought their own advantage waging war for one side or another as their individual interests took fancy. The Orcs, starting with a lowly warband leader Blake revolted seeking freedom in revolution and direct democracy.
Exhausted and near extinction the Old Races slowly fell into peace. Too late to stem the tide that was man.
The First Age of Man was upon them.