The Umbral Passages did not always show up, it is said in the oldest of the surviving writings of the great war, that these passages began opening up only a few years before the great war began. Though no one knows if this played a part in the war or not, some scholars do feel the passages perhaps started the war.
The first recorded appearance is told about in the writings from an author whose name has been lost to time. They tell of a great blazing trail through the sky and an explosion, burning the countryside. It was then that the first passage appeared, as if shadows came together into a doorway and an unknown being came out of it. The story tells of a young woman with cold eyes coming through the first passage and speaking to spirits in the skies. The blaze of fire around her quieted upon her use of some arcane magic creating a fog all around where not even the heat of fire could survive.
During the War
The passages continued throughout the war, brining warriors and scholars alike from places no one could even believe existed. It is said that passages brought ways of making things and doing things which defied all the laws of what was ever known. They could push people into the world and pull people away seemingly at random. During the war, legends cropped up that the greatest need would open a passage and bring a warrior, a healer, or a scholar to help. Such legends also talk of great heroes too mighty for this world, so powerful that a passage swept them away to a more powerful realm.
The Ageless Ones
When the Ageless Ones came, it is said they explained that the passages were not based on faith or on courage but that they were random. The monarchs did not believe them, however, and no matter how sound an argument the Ageless Men had, the monarchs refused to hear them. Finally, the Ageless Ones showed that the passages brought people away from their homes, but were not evil. They taught that a passage should be respected for its power, but not feared.
After the War
After the war ended, the passages became less frequent but still existed. They tend to open up near where people live, in cities, towns, and villages or even the occasional hunting encampment. It is said that a cold wind will blow and the shadows will grow unnaturally long before a passage is to open. Dusk is thus said to be almost sure to bring a passage, if one is going to arrive that day.