HISTORY OF DAREJH

excerpted from a written lecture by Alvise Eco, professor of history, University of Sheinar

Ancient History

There are many creation myths, each culture creating its own lore with its people as the main characters. They are the chosen of their gods and all others mere foils and villians in the central drama that is theirs. What is known is that the world exists, for we are in it and we see it everyday. And, we also know that many empires have come and gone before ours. One day, the great walls of this university will be scoured by explorers and adventurers as we explore the ruins of past ages.

The cataclysm that rent the world asunder changed much and a great deal was lost, but many brave men and women go forth to reclaim that heritage. A heritage not of Shienari or Iesadhean. Not even of humanity, but a heritage of the world itself.

The oldest of civilizations to be found lies buried deep beneath the imperial city of Dobe. From the scattered and rare artifacts we have found, it has been given the name Dobrai. Ruled by the greatest of wizards, the power of Dobria appears to have stretched across the entire northern lands, beyond even the Shiv Katham mountains. From ruins found in Gael Dhar, it would appear that the High Lords of Dobria may have held dominion even in the west. As I have said, all things must crumble.

We can never know for certain if it was the hubris of the High Lords that brought the cataclysm upon us, but their arcane powers appear to have been without equal. They opened doors to other places best kept closed. They may have even challenged the gods. Regardless, all that is left are ruins.

Perhaps even older than Dobrai are the ruins recently discovered on the Dragonhold Islands. Another civilization? A cult? It is far too early to say, but from the unearthed stone tablets and statuary, these were people that held dragons in great esteem and may have even worshiped them? …

Of our age, we know that the elves are the oldest of peoples. According to their myths, all the races were born in the cauldron of Aren Doael and then spread into the world, each created in the image of a god, now dead. Some of the elves remained in Aren Doael, their descendants not masters of the Lysantho Empire. Others, continued to the north, first traveling to Ghael Dar and east into Dharej. Some believe they were fleeing the cataclysm that create the Great Pale; others think they came before such a disaster occurred. Calling themselves the Aethani, they scattered across the interior of Darejh and continued their nomadic way of life, following the migration patterns of various wild animal herds. Great warriors, the tribes often fought against each other for material and immaterial reasons. It was not until the humans began to appear that a semblance of unity was required.

The first of our race to arrive were fleeing drought, famine, and wars that were devastating the southern continent of Aren Doael. Most settled on the peninsula of Sheinar, establishing fishing hamlets and small villages isolated from the north by the treacherous Ironbreak Mountains. As increasing waves of immigrants began to appear on our shores, our people began to venture beyond the mountains into the steppes of central Darejh. They began to form farming villages in the fertile plains of the interior. Due to the expansiveness of the continent, contact with the Aethani was limited to the times when their migration patterns brought them close to the human settlements. Some of the villages and hamlets grew into small townships, but there were too few and too scattered to form any semblance of unity. Each of the settlements maintained their own rules and traditions brought with them from Aren Doael.

Dharej is a great continent in scope, protected from the north by the Shiv Katham, surrounded by the waters of the Iesadhe Sea, and buttressed by the Great Pale on the west. During those early centuries, trouble was internal as tribe fought tribe. But then, as professor Ayn Bertoli has taught you, a second wave of humans came from the west. Traveling across the Great Pale, they arrived in Darejh following the same paths paved by the Aethani generations ago. These newcomers were a militant people and they came for the fabled riches of the eastern lands, perhaps even seeking the lost treasures of the Dobrai. Their arrival into Darejh heralded an age of violence and bloodshed between the races. Some of us united with the Aethani in the battles that followed and after decades of warfare, the invaders managed to establish dominion along the eastern boundary of the Great Pale. A few, having lost the will to fight and establishing homes in Darejh, remained behind. It was during these wars that the Aethani clans first united into seven tribes.

As generations passed, the wars were forgotten along with the peoples' ancestry. As the Aethani continued their way of life, the humans forgot their ancestral homelands and the enmities of the past. Their settlements began to grow into cities and the first of the principalities emerged. We were a closed and backward people, then. Insular in our ways and fearful of the night. Even though we shared our world with other races, contact was infrequent and usually hostile.

Pre-Dhọmestic Era

The Shattered Years

From the small settlements a score of principalities and dominions arose governed by warlords and princes. Benevolent duchies shared borders with tyrannical kingdoms. Battles again became common fair as leaders fought to increase their lands and power. Borders shifted as frequently as allegiances; however, for the average man, there was little change in their way of life. Except when conscripted to fight in the armies of their liege lords, the people ignored the politics that swirled around them. We know turn to a time that is known as the Pre-Dhomestic era.

As is to be expected, over time, power came to be consolidated in the hands of a few, those who conquered and cajoled neighbors until a hegemony arose among the human kingdoms, led by the Morghein Principality. For decades, the humans and the Aethani had contested over resources; however, internal troubles had kept each race from focusing its military might on the other and such engagements amounted to little more than skirmishes and raids. With the emergence of the Morghein hegemony, the humans felt they could deal with the Aethani tribes of the northwest. Driven by greed, Prince Morghein IV began a campaign of genocide against the Aethani. The war began in the northwest, but it was hoped that the southern and eastern dominions would join the Morghein against the Aethani. Facing their possible extinction, it became obvious to many Aethani that they needed to unite in order to survive. Erundaic, Chief of the Roan, the largest of the Aethani tribes, united his people under his banner and become the first War Chief of the Aethani. After a series of victories against the Morghein, he proved to the humans that the Aethani were not primitives who could be easily swept aside.

As a stalemate emerged, the southern dominions remained on the sidelines, rather than enter a seemingly unwinnable war. Erundaic's son, Ergarai, became the second War Chief. Under his leadership, the Aethani took the offensive. With a force of nearly 20,000 men and women, Ergarai attacked and razed the capital of Morghein. Morghein IV was forced to seek refuge in the neighboring kingdom of Velshardus. For good or ill, the Aethani did not consolidate their gains and Morghein returned two years later, leading a force supported by Velshardi soldiers and mercenaries from other lands. Even with the loss of his capital, it would seem that Morghein remained a potent force. When Ergarai was killed in a raid, his son, Ergardaic, became the third War Chief and maintained the stalemate with the hegemony.

After nine years of warfare, the people of Morghein and Velshardus became tired of losing their sons to the spears of the Aethani and civil disturbances became a common sight in the streets of the capital cities as more saw the futility of an unnecessary war. And, as the unrest increased, the campaign against the Aethani became unmanageable and the forces of Velshardus retreated into their strongholds. Without their support, even the indomitable King Morghein was forced to end the war. An aging man, he also turned the throne over to his eldest son, Morghein V. Any plans for conquering the Aethani and the rest of the continent vanished.

Having lasted through war, the Aethani nation could not survive the peace. Erundaic II was to be the last to rule over a united nation. A war of succession broke out among his descendants when he died and the nation reverted to its tribes.

Warfare was not limited to the northwest of the continent. The desire for blood spread like a cancer across the vastness of Dharej. The battles that led to the hegemony of the Morghein and then between humans and Aethani were replayed countless times with different participants throughout the pre Dhomestic era. Wars were fought for ideological principles and perceived slights to honor. Sometimes these were mere skirmishes between neighbors, while other confrontations became wars and spilled into neighboring dominions. The people of the region would remember this time as the Shattered Years, as the myriad principalities and fiefdoms were embroiled in constant war. The most prolonged of these battles serve as examples of the unnecessary bloodshed that plagued these years: the Iesadhe-Condhael War and the Ouzel-Gọliadhe War.

In the northeast, the principality of Iesadhe encompassed little more than the walled township of Iesadhe and the surrounding countryside that could be controlled by the Prince Guard. In contrast, its southern neighbor, the Principality of Cọndhael maintained control over a vast expanse of fertile land. Conflict was inevitable as the township of Iesadhe began grow and smaller towns began to arise. The people of Iesadhe needed space and the growing city needed resources. Initially, Prince Cọndhe II accepted the Iesadheans who began to settle in his lands; however, the issue came to head when he insisted on the payment of annual taxes. The Iesadheans refused to pay, claiming they were not under his jurisdiction. When the Prince attempted to force the issue, the people called to their own Prince, Rhụnoeld, for assistance.

Seeing an opportunity to expand his realm, Prince Rhụnoeld sent in a hundred knights from the Prince Guard, ostensibly to keep the peace. Prince Cọndhe II retaliated by sending in his own army. During the skirmish, the Prince Guard was slaughtered. Claiming an unfair attack on a peace keeping force, the prince of Iesadhe declared war. For the next four years, the armies of the two nations engaged in numerous attacks, counter attacks, and raids. The warring ended in a stalemate after the evenly matched forces exhausted their numbers. The countryside of both nations lay in ruins and trade was virtually halted for those four years.

Further south, along the central coast, the inland City State of Ouzel battled the Gọliadhe Kingdom. There was little reason for the war that arose between these nations except the madness of Lord Calebh of Ouzel. It is believed he became insane when his wife died in childbirth. He blamed his newborn daughter for her death and sentenced the infant to death. In shock, his closest advisor, Faestụs, rescued the child and fled to Gọliadhe. King Gọliadhe, hearing the tale, offered the man and the innocent child sanctuary. The act did little more than further inflame the mad Lord. Calebh began to perceive plots all around him and believed the King Gọliadhe had acted with plans to annex the city state. Unwilling to listen to reason, he began a purge of his advisors and, then for reasons known only to his fevered mind, launched a foolhardy attack on Gọliadhe. Attempts were made at a peaceful resolution, but as the forces of Ouzel continued their rampage, King Gọliadhe realized he had to defend his kingdom. Another war had erupted that would last for three years, until the mad Lord was assassinated by his own house guard.

In the southwest, the Warlords engaged in perpetual skirmishes with each other and their neighbors as they tried to expand their dominions. There, the Rieyale would prove the most successful, using Dwarven and Goliath mercenaries, leaving a bitter legacy of racial division that would take centuries to heal.

The Birth of the Confederacy

We know come to our own Peninsula and the forging of the great confederacy. As you all know by now, over the centuries, the various townships of the Sheinar peninsula had grown into powerful city-states. Unlike our more belligerent neighbors, we focus less on bloodshed and more on survival. Lacking the natural resources of our northern neighbors, we focused our attention on trade and commerce. While caravans traveled along the trade routes of the north, our ships made call to every major port in the known world. It was our ships that would first make contact with the Lysantho and venture into the Bryal river basin. We would find a safe passage along the coast of the Great Pale and establish contact with the Gael Dhar.

Not all was harmonious, of course. The six city-states that emerged on the peninsula of Sheinar had been founded independently by different settlers from Aren Dọael. Although they had much in common, their customs and values differed enough that each city-state remained independent of the others. It was inevitable that rivalries arose and blood was spilled.

The City-State of Sheinar, the first to be founded and the most economically powerful of the cities, began to dominate the Sea of Tranquility and quickly established trading posts along the southern coasts of Darejh and the northern coasts of Aren Dọael. Through secret negotiations, the merchant houses of Sheinar encouraged tariffs and trade regulations that hampered the expansionism of their sister cities. Infuriated at the arrogance of the Sheinari merchants, Cọnmaeir was the first to react.

The northernmost of the peninsula cities, Cọnmaeir sits at the foothills of the Ironbreak Mountains and even then had near absolute control over the only safe passage through the range. In response to the perceived Sheinari economic war, the Magistrate of Cọnmaeir dispatched a contingent of border guard to take over a small keep in the pass. As the Sheinari did to sea traffic, the Cọnmaeiri did to land traffic. Unless merchants were willing to pay toll, they could not venture into the vastness of the north. Certainly, it was possible to trek through the lands of the hostile Goliath tribes or attempt to negotiate with the dwarves, but the people of the peninsula took a route that would lead to war. The other city-states saw these actions as threats to their very survival. Faeil Dar and Braedan declared war on Sheinar. Lacking the armies needed to march on the city, they combined their naval forces and began to terrorize the trade ships of Sheinar. Meanwhile the armies of Haendar marched against Cọnmaeir. The First Peninsula War had begun.

Unlike the wars plaguing the north, the First Peninsula War was little more than a series of raids and skirmishes. None of the cities trusted each other enough to present a united front against Sheinar or Cọnmaeir, and neither of these two cities had the desire to take an offensive stance. The war, however, lasted for nearly a decade. Though brief skirmishes continued, it had become obvious that the war was doing little more than hindering their pursuit of profit. Both Cọnmaeir and Sheinar loosened their hold on the land and sea route, respectively, prompting the other cities to cease in their raiding.
Although peace and prosperity returned, not everyone was pleased with the return to the status quo. During the war, the various factions had begun to use privateers to disrupt the trade of their rivals. With the end of the war, these men and women found themselves scorned for their actions by the very cities that had hired them. Taking the ships they had been given, these privateers turned to piracy. From various small islands and secluded coastal inlets, the Tranquil Pirates, as they came to be known, began to terrorize any ships that ventured into the Sea of Tranquility. The only reason trade was not completely disrupted by the pirates was because they tended to pray upon each other as much as on the merchant ships. Even to this day, these corsairs plague our waters.
Even as the pirates preyed upon the merchant ships, a much greater calamity befell the City-State of Sheinar. The Second Peninsular War began after an ambassador from the nation of Rieyale felt slighted by a trade negotiator from the city state. A misunderstanding over honorifics was interpreted as malevolent slights and war ensued. Although only two battles were fought, the coastal city of Sheinar was bombarded by the powerful Rieyale navy. What was left of the city was captured by Rieyalese. The Sheinari were never a passive people and the Rieyalese were thrown out of the city after five years of tumultuous rule with aid from the other cities. Though short, this was a dark page in our history.

It became obvious that the every city, standing alone, was vulnerable to attack. More importantly, unity would also entail a stronger economic position. So, in an unprecedented meeting, representatives from Faeil Dar, Cọnmaeir, and Sheinar met to form the Sheinar Confederacy. Although many protested the choice of the name, particularly given that only three cities were original signatories, in the end it was the only one that made sense. It would take three years of negotiations before the confederacy would exist. And, in those days, it was far different from what we have now. Into the second year of negotiations, Haendar joined and was soon followed by Chalesio. It would be another two years into the life of the confederacy that Braedan would sign the charter. When all the cities had joined, the name was changed to The Six Cities Confederacy. As the city-states of the Sheinar peninsula were uniting, however, an even more powerful force was being born in the small principality of Iesadhe.

The Dhọmestic Era

No history of Dharej can be complete without discussing our neighbor to the north.

A new era began in Darejh with the birth of the Dhọmestic religion. Prior to the arrival of Abeụldhe, the first avatar to preach the word of Dhọm, the gods and goddesses of our people held sway. In those times, we were a more religious people. Yes, I know that some of you still go to the shrine of Ioun when you are preparing for an examination, but in those times people truly worshiped the gods. The prophet changed not only the religious face of Darejh, but also paved the way for the emergence of the Empire of Iesadhe.

Foundations

We should then begin with the first avatar himself. Abeụldhe was the youngest son of a minor aristocrat in the Principality of Iesadhe. When he was fourteen years old, he was wandering on his father’s lands when he found a sliver of orange crystal embedded in a wyrmbane tree. When he pulled it out, the sliver seemed to liquefy and come to life and embedded itself into his palm. He soon fell ill and began to be plagued by visions and started to hear voices. Initially he denied them, fearing they were the signs of impending madness; but as the days passed and no madness came, he began to pay more attention to the voices. Unable to remove the crystal, his father came to look upon the embedded crystal as a sign of shame and a portent of ill tidings. He banished his son to their winter home on a small island in the Bay of Tranquility that would one day be called Rebirth. It was not until he was twenty-three that he recognized the voices and images were a message from a god. A God that was more powerful than any he had prayed to before. A god whose power surpassed that of all the other gods and goddesses combined. Forsaking the family that had abandoned him, Abeuldhe gave up his lineage and inheritance, and began to travel across Iesadhe preaching the word of this new god. He began to transcribe the words of this god. Coupled with the indifference of the younger gods, Abeụldhe's charisma and simple message began to take hold of those who had paid little more than superficial homage to the gods. A core of his followers began to consider Abeụldhe as the avatar of God and gave him came to call him Dhọm. Over the years, the numbers began to swell and missionaries were traveling beyond the borders of Iesadhe preaching the word of Abeụldhe and his new faith, Dhomism. His works were compiled into the Book of Arghedhom.

Abeụldhe died in the 27th year of the Dhomestic Reckoning and passed his mantle to Brandhọn Dọlsaev, his most trusted student and closest companion. Unlike his other followers, Dọlsaev had remained with Abeụldhe throughout his travels. As age had begun to take its toll on the First Avatar, Dọlsaev had begun to transcribe his teachings for him and care for his physical needs. Upon the death of Abeuldhethe body was cremated in a ritual pyre of Wyrmbane wood, leaving the glowing crystal sliver in the ashes. Following a ritual that is mentioned only once in a little understood passage of the Arghedhom, the sliver was transferred to Brandhon. To the awe of those who witnessed it, Brandon was filled with the memories of the First Prophet.

In the 47 DR, Brandhọn Dọlsaev found himself advising Prince Rhụnoeld IV in regard to the perpetual skirmishes that arose between his principality and Cọndhael. Though the reasons for the war started by his great grandfather had long since been resolved, neither side was willing to forgive and forget, and intermittent bloodshed continued. The peace minded fourth Rhụnoeld asked Dọlsaev to help resolve the dispute. Rather than going to Carolaen I of Cọndhael, Brandhon appealed to the people of the land. Although it took more than five years, peace was bought through his patience and wisdom. The Treaty of the South Bank was signed along the contested waters of the River Iesadhe. A year later, Prince Rhụnoeld IV converted to Dhomism.

Brandhọn entered into seclusion in the palace of Prince Rhụnoeld IV. With his new found piousness, the Prince gave Brandhon the title of Theonh and recognized him as the official spiritual advisor to the throne. The preaching of the ways of Dhom received official endorsement and missionaries became even more zealous in their attempts at converting others.

The year 87 DR was pivotal for both Iesadhe and Dhomism. As Prince Rhụnoeld IV lay on his deathbed, a civil war broke out in Iesadhe over the succession. The prince’s only true born son had died in war and he had no heir. Thus, the Helọdhe dynasty came to an unquestionable end, throwing the nation into chaos as various factions vied for ascendance to the throne. The aging Brandhọn entered the picture and called for an end to the bloodshed. Supported by the people and disaffected soldiers from the warring armies, the Theonh took control of the nation. Weakened and unwilling to forget old animosities and unite, the disputing lords were forced to accept their sudden loss of power.

The Theonh took the throne as the spiritual and political leader of Iesadhe. Ceremoniously, the prince's palace was renamed the Citadel of Truth. Meanwhile militant clergymen organized themselves into a number of prelates and took command of the remnants of the warring armies. Images of glory and spiritual zeal take hold and they begin to urge expansionism in the name of Dhom. As a civil war ended, the people of Iesadhe were drawn into a religious one.

The First Dhọmestic Wars

Brandhọn fell ill in 107 DR. Unwilling to allow the theocracy to fall into disarray like the Helọdhe Dynasty, he followed his predecessor's example and named a successor. Orveil Răgth, a zealous prelate, was chosen to bear the Soulshard. Along with the memories of the First Avatar came those of Brandhon.

The young and charismatic third Theonh was the first to be born in the Dhomestic faith. Unlike Brandhọn, Răgth encouraged the militant orders. In the summer of 109 DR, exactly a year after the death of Brandhon, Răgth issued the Edict of Faith. The edict granted sanction to the orders to convert those deemed to be heretics and fulfill the mandate of Dhom.

A series of wars began with a renewed assault into the Duchy of Cọndhael. Unlike the forces of the Helọdhe Dynasty, the Dhọmestic soldiers were fanatical and well equipped. The Duchy fell to the Dhọmestic prelates within a year. Although a few rebel elements remained, the duchy ceased to exist. The Dhọmestic prelates continued southward into the Kingdom of Gọliadhe. Warned by the attack upon the duchy, King Gọliadhe VII was prepared. His army met the invaders at the border and stopped the initial onslaught, but his forces proved no match for the crusading army. What they lacked in tactical skill, the Dhọmestic forces made up for in ferocity. After defeating the King, the Dhọmists turned their attention to Ouzel. Dhọmestic missionaries had long since converted the majority of the population and Lord Haedhic was unable to field more than a token army. As the Dhọmestic crusaders ventured further south, most of the smaller principalities succumbed with minimal resistance. A few joined the emerging empire without a sword being drawn as rulers converted to Dhọmism. Within a decade, the Principality of Iesadhe encompassed the entire northeastern coast.

In the final years of the First Dhọmestic Wars, the prelate's zeal began to wane. They had been away from their homes for years. Families had been left behind; children without fathers, wives without husbands. When they faced the might of the southern nations, the soldiers' desire for conquest had ended. After a few half hearted skirmishes, the Dhọmestic prelates retreated.

The Second Dhọmestic Wars

When Orveil Răgth died in 132 DR, he was succeeded by Abhreham Graene. The fourth Theonh, Abhreham Graene had been soldier-scholar who had gained fame during the First Dhọmestic War. From his experiences, he had written a treatise on war, The Righteous Warrior. In fact, you may find copies of this treatise in the library. Given such a tome, the militant orders expected him to renew the mandate of Dhọm, but when Graene took the mantle of the Theonh, he became more scholar than soldier. Having witnessed the horrors of war first hand, he was not willing to send more to their deaths. He was the first to add to the Book of Arghedhọm.

Abhreham Graene was followed by Sọdhaem Ivgaera in 148 DR. The fifth Theonh, Sọdhaem Ivgaera continued the ways of his predecessor and added his own interpretations to the Book of Arghedhọm. A pious but frail man, he died after only four years while on a pilgrimage to a shrine in the Shiv Katham Mountains, passing his office to Lọgaeir Isaerdhe, a young scribe who had begun to see visions of Abeụldhe while meditating. As pious as Graene and Ivgaera, the sixth Theonh reigned over a peaceful theocracy for nearly seventy years.

In 223 DR, Lọgaeir Isaerdhe died in his sleep. His successor, Oswaeld Graene, was the grandson of the fourth Theonh. A military man like his grandfather, the seventh Theonh revitalized the militant orders and issued the Second Edict of Faith. With a call to arms, he chose to lead the Dhọmestic prelates himself. Amassing one of the largest hosts ever seen, Oswaeld Graene moved toward the southern nations. As before, they were prepared. The Second Dhọmestic Wars began when the two armies clashed on the Plains of Es’ande. One of the bloodiest battle in recorded history, the two forces attacked and counter attacked for nearly fourteen days. Eventually, the forces of the Theonh were victorious and the southern nations fell to the Empire.

Satisfied with his conquests, Oswaeld Graene returned home a hero. With such a large area to govern, he began to consolidate his gains and strengthen the new empire. Oswaeld Graene divided the empire into administrative regions under the authority of warlords and governors. He also created the Dioed to aid in the governance of the theocracy. The organization of the temple as it exists today emerged under the seventh Theonh.

Two centuries of peace and prosperity followed under his successors. As generations passed, loyalties to the old nations and gods waned.

The Reborn Child and the Schism

The twelfth Theonh, Raiph Cọrhaen, was a vain man who was unable to handle the memories of the other prophets in his mind, and vanity soon led to madness. Fortunately, he did not govern long.
As he was presiding over a ceremony of the birth of the Abeụldhe, a child walked into the Citadel of Truth and claimed to having been visited by Abeụldhe. Some immediately denounced her as a heretic, others saw an opportunity to fill the seat of the Theonh with the true voice of the First Avatar. The conflict with the temple hierarchy quickly spilled into the streets as the populace began to take sides for and against the imprisoned girl, who still had no name. Political intrigue in the temple was matched with violent bloodshed in the streets. The more moderate elements realized that the continued strife would rip the empire asunder. Behind closed doors, a solution was agreed upon. The girl, from henceforth to be called the Unnamed Truth, would be accepted as the Thirteenth Theonh. As the bearer of the Soulshard, she would be the spiritual guide, but the Dioed would have political control. And, equally importantly, this would allow the theocracy to remain should madness appear again. At this time, the Dioed created the Tapestry of Truth and the Soulwarders. Whereas the Tapestry of Truth would hide the truth of the madness brought on by the Soulshard and hunt those who would bring that to light, the SoulWarders would protect the Theonh and engage on the long-running quest to find a cure for the madness.

Although a semblance of peace returned with the Dioed presented the Theonh in unity, there were those who continued to question who she was and the transfer of political power only further fueled their doubts. Future Theonh’s would pay the price as many believed that the Theonh was more political emperor than the spiritual voice of the First Avatar. Even to this day, there exists a quiet schism in the temple.

Recent History

The Third Dhọmestic Wars

The nineteenth Theonh, Chalen Thaerbaol, known as Thaerboal issued the Third Edict of Faith. Once again, the armies of Iesadhe would march; however, they would be no mere crusaders, but the well trained and well equipped imperial legions. The legions marched west and south, toward the lands of the Aethani and the western principalities of the interior, and the peninsula of Sheinar, respectively. Tharbaol hoped to bring the known world under his grip. As the armies marched, so he wanted to reign in the power of the Dioed. He would be no figurehead. Using the loyalty of the Tapestry of Truth, he began a purge of the temple hierarchy, even killing and exiling those in the Dioed who would question his authority. With the legions and militant orders far from the capital, these were bloody years.
Facing the might of the slave holding western warlords, Thaerbaol passed the Edict of Salvation, declaring slavery a moral heresy and crime against the sanctity of Dhọm. He add that any slave that rose against his Warlord would be granted freedom. The Theonh’s plans were only partially fulfilled. When the imperial legions arrived, the slaves rose against their masters and abandoned the fields of battle; they were, however, no more willing to fight for the empire. The empire succeeded even without them

I supposed I should speak of the Aethani. Over the years, the Aethani had fallen into their own wars of succession. Unlike the empire, no one emerged victorious and an eventual stalemate emerged. Each of the tribes separated and found their own paths; some maintaining the militancy of the succession war, others foreswearing it completely. Skirmishes, more often instigated by personal honor, continued but no true menace of war emerged until the empire again began its expansionism against them. Faced with a common threat, the tribes uneasily united once again under the banner of Er’ ackeir, War Chief of the Roan.

For over a decade, the legions of the empire and the Aethani fought a series of indecisive battles. It was at Ak’ andehar Falls that that would change. The Aethani found themselves facing two imperial legions led by the Theonh himself. When the shamans of the Roan proclaimed an auspicious beginning to the battle, three thousand lightly armored Aethani warriors entered battle against the might of the empire. The losses were heavy, but the Aethani emerged victorious. As if an omen, the mad Theonh also fell ill and died within days after the Aethani victory. It was the only concentrated effort by the empire to conquer the Aethani. Er’ ackeir 's hopes of using the victory as a means of once again uniting the tribes were not to be as the tribes quickly fell apart after the common enemy was defeated. A status quo emerged amongst the tribes and between the Aethani and the empire, as it tried to recover from the devastating rule of the mad Theonh. In reaction to the dire consequences of madness, the Dioed consolidated its power further and placed the imperial legions under its control. One legion was even brought back home from the wars to serve as a permanent garrison in the capital city.
As with the Aethani, the imperial legions in the south also expected a quick victory, but our people were well prepared. Technologically advanced, warned of the impending attack by loyal agents, and able to hire mercenaries to strengthen our numbers, our forces savaged the legion in a series of hit and run raids. These tactics, however, were not enough and the legion was soon at the gates of the city, and in turn, the confederacy. Defeat was eminent for the smaller nation when salvation came from an unexpected quarter – Rieyale. The lords of Rieyale, fearing they would be next in the empire’s eyes, sent its military in support of the confederacy. The confederacy was saved.

The Tharged Hordes

During the reign of the twenty-seventh Theonh, Endhat Sụmraed, the Tharged Hordes emerged from The Great Pale riding horned lizards and hairless, horned mammoth. An aggressive people, they began to raid and plunder the border cities of the empire. When they first appeared, so different in visage and size, many believed the younger Gods had awoken from their slumber and let loose their minions as punishment for having forsaken them. That they had emerged from the Great Pale only added credence to the apocalyptic fears of the people.

Sụmraed, fighting the inevitable madness as best he could, was slow to react; however, the Dhọmestic prelates were awoken from a monastic slumber by zealous righteousness when it became apparent that the Tharged were not only a military threat but a spiritual one as well for people had begun to rebuild shrines and give sacrifices to the ancient gods. Two imperial legions were joined by prelates in a crusade against the Tharged. They expected a quick victory against the demonic forces of the younger gods, but they were sorely mistaken. The imperial forces met the Tharged on the borders of the Great Pale. The imperial forces were slaughtered, a remnant of a remnant allowed to escape to bring word of the rout.

At first, the Aethani considered the Tharged an imperial matter. Except for the rare missionary or trader, the Empire had left the Aethani alone and they, in turn, remained outside of the tribulations of the humans. The Tharged, however, could not be ignored as easily. The Tharged saw no difference between human and elfi and readily slaughtered the tribes of the plains. As imperial towns burned, Aethani herds were slaughtered. For nearly three years, both Aethani and humans lost battle after battle against the onslaught of the Tharged.

And then, for reasons only known to them, the Tharged retreated to their strongholds deep within the Great Pale, leaving a devastated western frontier in their wake. Although the Tharged had retreated, their emergence was a catalyst. The people began to feel abandoned by a distant government and a faith that had not protected them from the rape and pillage. Sacrifices that had been done in cover of night were now done openly where the influence of Dhọmism had been weak anyway.

The Fourth Dhomestic War

A generation would grind away, and as the Tharged menace was forgotten, the Theonhs and Dioed used the might of their legions to bring the western people to task for abandoning the true faith. The 30th Theon called for another crusade, to show the world might of Dhom. And, the target would be the powerful kingdom of Rieyale. Unfortunately, even with the aid provided by our forces, Rieyale fell.
The once proud Rieyalese are now a conquered people. As you are aware, those who could, fled before the Dhomestics and have established an expatriate community in Sheinar. I am certain that the empire is not pleased that we have harbored them, but there is little that can be done.


So now we go from the past to today. It is the year 970. A stalemate exists with the Tharged, with the western frontier a perpetual battlefield for the intermittent incursions that come from the Great Pale. Although the peace continues with the Confederacy and trade remains strong, the empire's forces have returned to the border and an edgy animosity remains. Skirmishes continue along the borders of the empire, but the Tharged have made no serious assault in years.

The Rieyalese remained a conquered, but resistant people. The world is more interconnected as trade flourishes.

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