When the realms were formed, the Elder Gods agreed that they would not interfere in the affairs of the realms and of mortals. For aeons, the realms existed with the Elder Gods seemingly indifferent to their existence. Eventually, however, one Elder God began to take increasing interest in the realms: in particular, he found himself desirous of ruling Earthrealm. This was the Elder God Shinnok.
Shinnok desired not the abstract overlordship of the Elder Gods, but the direct rule of Earthrealm, perhaps akin to the reign of Shao Kahn over Outworld. It is unknown what Shinnok’s ultimate goal was: it seems unlikely such a figure would have contented himself with the rule of one realm, and it could be that Shinnok’s long-term plan was to establish himself as the sole Elder God, ruling over all existence.
Shinnok thus began to scheme. He was aware of the prophecy of the Armageddon and the steps Argus and Delia had undertaken in their scheme. Becoming aware of the enslavement of Blaze by Onaga’s priests and thus knowing that Blaze could not signal the awakening of Taven and Daegon until released from this bondage, Shinnok tricked the Red Dragon Caro into awakening Daegon.
Credit to Mihai Radu
Daegon trusted in Shinnok and Shinnok took advantage of this trust to manipulate the young demi-god. He informed him of the quest but deceived him by telling him that his parents had intended for Taven to succeed by killing Daegon. This drove Daegon into a fury, as Shinnok had desired, for Daegon had always harboured a degree of resentment towards his elder brother. Shinnok instructed Daegon in arcane methods of slaying a God and Daegon, wearing the armour he had been left by his parents and wielding both longswords, slew his parents. Shortly before his death, Argus had conceived an illegitimate child with an Edenian woman: in time, this child would grow to become Rain.
After this act of parricide, Daegon and Caro disappear into the mists of time, though it is worth noting that as long as human civilization has existed on Earthrealm, the Red Dragon Clan has wielded enormous influence. In truth, Daegon founded the Red Dragon for the purpose of seeking out and slaying Taven to enable Daegon to kill Blaze unopposed and claim the prize for himself, enslaving Caro to eternally transport him and his followers across the realms. The Red Dragon would grow to spread out across all of Earthrealm, becoming one of the most powerful organizations across the entirety of the realms.
With Argus and Delia dead, Edenia was left without a Protector God. With one of the great realms thus weakened, Shao Kahn began his machinations. It is unknown if Daegon’s murders preceded the beginning of the Mortal Kombat tournaments between Edenia and Outworld but what is known is that by the time Shao Kahn’s warriors were victorious and his invasion of Edenia began, there was no Protector God to help the ruler of Edenia, King Jerrod, either during the tournaments or during the invasion.
Shao Kahn was victorious in his invasion, merging Edenia and Outworld and seizing Jerrod’s queen Sindel as his own and raising his infant daughter Kitana as Princess of Outworld. This represents the only successful merger of two of the greater realms in the history of the universe and Shao Kahn’s greatest achievement.
Shinnok soon turned his malevolent gaze to Earthrealm. As an Elder God, he was not bound by the rules of Mortal Kombat and instead sought to supplant Raiden as Protector God of Earthrealm by force, whereupon he would institute a direct rule over the realm. Such was his power that he was able to hold the wrath of his fellow Elder Gods at bay during his invasion, though how is unknown. The war between Shinnok and the Protector God of Earthrealm, Lord Raiden lasted centuries and caused untold destruction on Earthrealm. The forces of Earthrealm persevered only thanks to the power they drew from their home realm, particularly it’s famed ‘jinsei’.
Eventually, Raiden came to the realization that the source of Shinnok’s true power was tied to the sacred Amulet he had crafted, which amplified his power and allowed him to control the cardinal elements of Earthrealm: this explained why Shinnok had been able to effortlessly subdue Raiden’s fellow Gods, such as Lord Fujin, as the elements they embodied were under his control. Raiden risked all in a final gambit to separate Shinnok from the Amulet and succeeded, though not without great cost. So grievous was the harm wrought upon Earthrealm that its then dominant civilization, the Saurians, fled from the battle. It is unknown whether they happened upon an uninhabitated realm, whether they conquered another or were granted one by the Elder Gods as compensation, but it is known that the Saurians settled in Zaterra, where they would rule and thrive for millennia. Legends say that Raiden was forced by circumstance to destroy the majority of the Saurian civilization directly in order to achieve victory against Shinnok, but what is certain is that the Saurian civilization on Earthrealm was at its end.
A species in its infancy at the time, human beings, quickly rose to fill the gap left by the Saurians and, nurtured by Raiden himself, rapidly advanced through thousands of years to become the most technologically advanced species in the universe. Such advancement seems unprecedented throughout the realms and, while it has cost Earthrealmers any real widespread proclivity for magic or for energy manipulation, it has allowed them to circumvent the necessity for magic with technology
It is unknown over what time period this occurred: for instance, it is possible that Daegon slew his parents thousands of years before Shao Kahn launched his invasion. It is known, however, that Princess Kitana is approximately ten thousand years old, with Rain somewhat older (given how Edenians age, Rain may be thousands of years older than Kitana but appear roughly the same age as her). This represents, therefore, the first seemingly tangible date we have: Shao Kahn’s invasion of Edenia and the fall of Shinnok occurred approximately 8000BC.
This means that the legends which equate the Great Floods of mankind’s infancy, found in mythology across the entirety of Earthrealm, with the war between Raiden and Shinnok would seem well-founded. Less well founded are legends which link the war with the extinction of the dinosaurs approximately 65 million years ago. It is not impossible that a war between the Gods caused a cataclysmic event 65 million years ago that we are not aware of but, given our ability to age Princess Kitana back to her infancy in this time period, the fall of Shinnok does not date to 65 million years ago. It is likely that legends of the destruction wrought upon the Saurians have become confused with the mass extinction of the great reptiles that the Saurians may themselves have descended from.
As for Shinnok himself, Raiden stripped him of his Amulet and, with the assistance of the Elder Gods, banished him to the Netherrealm. With the malevolent nature of that dread realm sapping his godly powers, Shinnok found himself beset by the demon king Lucifer and his hordes, who ruled the Netherrealm. With the souls of those he had slain resurrected in the Netherrealm and sent against him, Shinnok was again defeated and imprisoned. He spent thousands of years confined to the very darkest planes of the Netherrealm, his strength ebbed away but his hunger for revenge growing constantly.
Raiden was left victorious, with his prestige greatly enhanced throughout the realms and among his fellow Gods and with his beloved Earthrealm free from threats for the time being. Raiden constructed the great Temple of the Elements in the highest mountains of Earthrealm, with the Amulet stored deep within. He instructed his four fellow Gods of Earthrealm to guard the Amulet and began the work of healing Earthrealm from the scars it had suffered from his war with Shinnok. So long as the Amulet remained in Earthrealm, Shinnok would never be able to attain his former power.
Next week, we start moving the pieces into place for the beginning of our story in earnest, as Shao Kahn will expand his conquests even further and Shinnok will rise to power in the Netherrealm, transforming a prison into a kingdom!
The History of Mortal Kombat, Chapter 3: The Fall of Shinnok