The Weave is (incorrectly) thought by many to be the only means of accessing magic in Toril. The Weave is by no means ubiquitous, nor is it the only means one can wield magic, those with courage and skill can mould raw magic directly using complex rituals. There is, a darker, more secretive alternative to the Weave, an older attempt that was aborted but which has gradually spread in secret to cover large areas of Faerun.
The myths and legends surrounding the Shadow Weave are told only in whispers among secretive groups of wizards that utilise it, or have heard of its existence through rumour.
These tales speak of a conflict between the goddesses Mystra and Shar, and how Mystra created the Weave to allow her followers to access magic. Shar, in her jealousy created the Shadow Weave so that her faithful might combat the Weave and its users, and eventually supplant the Weave with something that Shar controlled.
To the educated sage the tales are true nonsense. Mystra was a goddess born out of the destruction of the Netherese pantheon, and her predecessor Mystryl was worshipped only as far back as -3000 DR, while the Weave itself has existed since its creation by the secretive organisation known only as the Bae’tith over 30,000 years ago.
The truth of the matter is that the Bae’tith were a cadre of spellweavers, chosen to infiltrate the lesser races (to them all races are less, but to modern day scholars these lesser races are known as the Creator Races) and destroy them from within. The typical modus operandi of these spellweaver saboteurs was to transform themselves into dominant race of the target nation and then proliferate magical power among them until the nation became a dominating empire and then ultimately destroyed itself, descending into barbarism.
The Bae’tith first targeted the sarrukh, who were living near the spellweaver Node (in what is now Lake Azulduth), and at that time were the only humanoid lifeform with any intelligence. The Bae’tith were led by 3 prominent individuals; Miss’ashak, Ssh’arst’rune, and Ssr’nak’tu who worked together to come up with the strategy to destroy the sarrukh.
At the time, Raw Magic was abundant on Toril, the unwary that tried to use it were often consumed by the magical backlash caused by its mishandling. The Bae’tith created the first Weave Anchor, which projected a magical field that protected those within it from the effects of Raw Magic, and allowed them to prepare and cast spells pre-programmed into the Weave Anchor.
The sarrukh quickly adapted to using this new form of magic and greatly proliferated thanks to its protection and the magical abilities it conferred (they even added many of their own spells into the Weave Anchor). The sarrukh spread from the Lake of Steam to the lands around the spellweaver node, inadvertently coming into conflict and then war with the spellweavers, forcing the spellweavers into what is now known as the Dragonsword Mountains.
Ultimately the sarrukh empire of Okoth began to fracture and was ultimately destroyed, but not before new empires arose in their wake, far to the west and north. The Bae’tith moved with the sarrukh, pursuing their enemies, and remaining dedicated to their destruction.
In the Empire of Mhairshaulk, in what is now known as the Chultan Peninsula, the sarrukh began anew, and again the Bae’tith aided them in the creation of a new Weave Anchor, this one much smaller but split into multiple parts (10 emeralds of exceptional size and quality). It was during this time that conflict came to the Bae’tith, as Ssr’nak’tu left to pursue another group of sarrukh as they migrated north, and Ssh’arst’rune tried to create another more powerful Weave Anchor (and merge herself with it as Miss’ashak had done centuries before).
A secret war erupted among the Bae’tith and the sarrukh, as the sentiences of Ssh’arst’rune and Miss’ashak tried to exert their dominance within the Weave over one another using the Weave users as their pawns. The war lasted for centuries and stopped only when Miss’ashak and her pawns severed the Emeralds of Merrshaulk and the Atropal from the Weave, creating a new