Tuesday, March 29, 2016

A brief history of the Reach

A History of Craftsman’s Reach and the Thessalians
Alonaris of Stock

            We may begin with the Night Age and the shadows that fell long over Aruniä in that dark and remote period. Here, in Craftsman’s Reach, there ruled a tense peace between the ancient Lignoi of the West and the Trollish darkness that roiled in the sea. Wyrmish outposts were not uncommon in the northern regions of the Reach, for the empire of Alaxaa reached even that far; it was written by the great scholar of the Night Age, Orvius Kavalson, that the Wyrms were born from the blood of the earth, steaming hot, and the Trolls from the cold basins of the Girdling Sea. Their conflict was inevitable. Trolls mounted the Reach and builded a great city on the Mount of Ys. Their war ravaged the north, but the Reach was the rearmost of their strongholds, and thus there is little remaining of their once mighty kingdom of shadows. Giants did settle many regions of the Reach in the Night Age, and I believe a Stone Giant kingdom was situated around what is now Ambar.
            In the Third Age Mero, the chief wizard of Zesh, came to Tailimisiä, which had been turned over to the Elves. The Lignoi began their long descent into the Rootwood, and left the Greatwood for Elvish dominance. After the War of the Chains, in which the Lord of Magic was imprisoned in the North, the Elves of Greatwood were taught how to build towers and work spells by the Southmen. The very first stones of the eldest city in Atva-Aruniä were laid in this Age: Aita Valmindene, capital of the Greatwood, rival to Miles in age.
            In the late Third Age, Craftsman’s Reach was settled by the sorcerers of Yer’is, and bordered the old imperial province of Kelinum in the south. That half-elvish kingdom had been founded on sorcery and foretold the rebellion of the Silver Elves yet to come. In the Fifth Age, after the Fall of Ys, which was swallowed by the sea, the so-called Five Mage-Lords took residence in the region during the reigns of Emperor Sylimus the Elf-Friend and Julior II; many great battles of the War of the Mages took place in the Reach, though its inhabitants are prompt to forget this horrific magical conflict. Mount Sirune, in particular, was the site of an awful battle between Imperial phalanxes and the armies of Gothea and The Babbler. It was only after the defeat of the Mage-Lords that dwarves were invited by the Emperor Julior to settle in the mountain.
            During the brutal and self-destructive conflicts that ripped the Second Empire apart at the close of the Fifth Age, there rose a man of the Reach named Thesus the Spear-bearer to generalship of the armies of Kelinum. He was declared Emperor in the West, and since that time the people of Kjellos and the Reach have called themselves “Thessalian” in his honor, and many claim the right to rekindle the long-doused flame of empire from his election.
            The Sixth Age saw the coming of the Second Elf and Dragon War, which ravaged the West. There are few sights of battle in Craftsman’s Reach, as the war was primarily fought between Vesimiä, Tailimisiä, and Synd. However, there are places where Wyrmish armies fell upon Elvish camps, and in some westerly corners of the Reach can be found the relics of that ancient conflict.
             From the period of the Seventh to the modern age, a series of kingdoms have grown up and failed in the shadow of the Greatwood. Alth’is ruled the north throughout the Seventh Age, and came into conflict with the dwarf-backed kingdom of Teraspis. Calantheas, which was founded in the Eighth Age and lasted through the last dark days of the Bleeding Plague, encompassed the entire Reach and much of the peninsula of Kjellos.

The Reach in the Tenth Age
            The birth of Kjellos changed the Reach forever. The southern stretches were part of Agnar, an Elvish puppet-kingdom in the early days of the Tenth Age. The Tholharts, tribal chiefs raised in the ruins of the Reach, conquered Agnar and established a new dynasty in the south—Tholnia—in X.158. Tailimisiä, under the guidance of its former Gwydereon, Laulemireneon, went to war with Tholnia in X.280 and by X.282 had annihilated the Tholnian armies in several pitched battles. This left the Reach, the peninsula, and all the lands around the Bay of Ahrain broken and leaderless.
            In X.285, the Karharts of the Reach, who ruled a small domain from Tyreth Castle in the north, claimed the Kjella peninsula and part of the northern shore of the Bay of Ahrain. The Karharts established a lasting peace with the elves, and in the two hundred and twenty years since Regus Karhart was crowned at Elborg Castle, the Reach has become a backwater to the more well-settled and imperially appointed peninsula.

A Timeline of Reach History

The Night Age. The Reach is settled partially by the western trolls, partially by the Lignoi. A powerful Petroboloi kingdom is established in its heart, with its capital in the belly of Mount Sirune. Modern scholars refer to this Stone Giant kingdom as “Latómon,” a gigantine word found carved on the paths of Mount Sirune repeatedly.

The Kingdom of Latómon went to war, on and off, with the Trolls of Ushar and Guldush. The Wyrmish Empire of Alaaxa, too, did battle amongst the northern edges of Latómon, particularly on and about the Mount of Ys where the Ushar Troll-lords builded up a great city.

The Dawn Age. Little is known of this time, save that Latómon controlled most of the Reach.

The Pillar Age. With the wakening of the Elves and the coming of the Southmen, the Dawn Age belonged to Latómon and Yer’is. Yssan emissaries settled at the Mount of Ys with gigantine aid. The Giants welcomed the coming of Yssan sorcerers into Latómon as their own power faded and their borders were pierced again and again by the Trolls.

So it remained until the end of Yer’is and the Sinking, which drowned the Mount of Ys and all its people beneath the sea for the pride of their king. There were many wars with Moros Aklaustros, the Undying, who’s realm bordered that of Ys.

The Sword Age. During the Sword Age, the power of Miles reached out its long fingers and gathered up the Reach into the great western province of Kelinum. Bastions were erected along the Tempest River, and a watch was set against the powers of Ushar and Guldush in the north.

In IV.729 the imperial crown came to Tallëor the Twice-Born, last of the descendants of Furon, who had slain the emperor Mindalus in IV.336. Emperor Tallëor concentrated a great army along the Tempest, and with him came Feanwé, Gwydereon of the elves, and Arnr, Prince of the Dwarves. Primarily staging at the Storm’s Crossing, Tallëor persecuted a long war with the trolls of Ushar, and finally wiped them from the North.

At the end of the Sword Age, the Empire dissolved into civil war.

The Dust Age. During the long darkness after the civil war, the Tempest line was abandoned and most of the Reach was lost to its natives. Pale giant-descended men mingled with gnomes and halflings, ever fighting to stem the tide of refugees from Ushar: goblins, orcs, kobolds, and other felnumen.

Northways, in what is now Thalassa, Rho’anir the Shapeless came to power. The Mage-Lords of the North crept down from their fortresses, and the giantess Gothea claimed great stretches of the Reach. In the time of Sylimus the Elf-Friend, war finally broke out—the War of the Mages, which was fought along the Black River and in the Reach.

A great battle was concluded at Mount Sirune, after which Emperor Julior II gave a patent of settlement to his dwarven allies and the colony was founded there. At the conclusion of the War of the Mages, the Reach was once again lawless, but the dwarves at the Mount exerted a powerful influence.

As the Empire tore itself apart, the barbarian-captain of the Storm Ford, a man from the Reach called Thesus, was elected Emperor by the generals of Kelinum. This election was acclaimed in Miles and the Lawkeeper supposedly gave Thesus the Spear-bearer his blessing. This has, of course, led to the Kjellans calling themselves Thessalians, and to persist in the belief that the right of rebuilding the Empire resides not in the East, but in Kjellos.

The Sun Age. This was the age of the Second Elf-Dragon War. The Reach was ground up by the Syndic armies that issued from the south and the Karonic armies from the north. Sylvasil was eventually destroyed by the twin dragons who brought it low, but not before the Loremaster produced, in alliance with the Gwydereon of Tailimisiä, the fabled blade Wyrmsbane. Though the elves would eventually prevail, the presence of Syndic armies in the Reach oppressed and burned settlements, and inhibited the growth of its people for generations.

The Moon Age. The most important event of the Moon Age is undoubtedly the War of the Moon, the elvish civil war that wracked the North for a generation of men’s lives. The war saw Tailimisiä drawn away from the Reach, withdrawing most of their settlements that were fortified during the Second Elf-Dragon War.

The Reach was divided between Al’this and Teraspis—Al’this in the north, ruled by sorcerers, Teraspis in the south, backed by Mount Sirune.

The Red Age. In the Red Age, Teraspis and Al’this were locked in a deadly struggle, and were finally destroyed when Tailimisiä once again exercised its power in the region. The whole Reach was unified under Calantheas, a mannish city founded on the coast. Calantheas ruled the Reach until the Bleeding Plague.

The Age of Blood. The Reach was once again stripped of law and governance, this time by the ravages of the Bleeding Plague.

The Shield Age. Kjellos established rulership in the Reach in X.377 by naming the first Lord Protector. Since X.285, the Karharts have ruled both the peninsula of Kjella and the Reach itself. The Lord Protector has generally been the heir-apparent of the Kjellan throne.

Yer’is and the Reach
The Kingdom of Yer’is was founded on the infamous (and now lost) Mount of Ys, many many rods north of Craftsman’s Reach. Its influence waxed in the Third, Pillar, Age and though the elves of Aita Valmindene were flexing their control in the region, it was the Yssan sorcereress Caleight Silvermane and her soldiers who took command of the northern Reach; their might extended from Ys to the Tyrnen Wood, then a great girdling belt across the Reach from the Silverlode Mountains to the Sea.
            Caleight Silvermane was appointed to be Aimarch of the South, a position much sought-after in Yer’is. Her uncle, King Aubrein, encouraged the expansion of Yssan control ever southward, eventually coming into contact with the failing kingdom of Latómon at Mount Sirune. Caleight, acting in the stead of the king, attended many meetings of state with the giant Titan. In return for shielding Latómon from the depravities of Moros Aklaustros’ deathless reign north of Tailimisiä, the giants agreed to turn over the governance of much of their territories to the half-elves, and to permit the settlement of Yssans throughout Latómon.
            The Southern Aimarchy persisted even after Aubrein’s heir, Leovel, was drowned. The Aimarchs, however, grew less and less interested in the territory they governed. Eventually, they rarely left Yer’is proper to see their territories, preferring to rule it by seconds and agents and collect the benefits of its tax from the capital at Bryndune.
            The Yssans made a new pact with Latómon, essentially absorbing it, in return for ridding the Southern Aimarchy of the lingering pockets of trollish darkness. Aimarch Haiden Highstaff returned to the Aimarchy at the behest of Queen Talovandra and waged a long and brutal war, known to the Yssan chroniclers as the War of Dead Names, eventually winning victory against the trolls.

            That victory was short-lived, however; when Queen Talovandra died, her brother Tyros the Wise took the crown of Yer’is. Aimarch Highstaff hurried back to secure his own interests, but Tyros was ready for him—he was executed on charges of treason, and Tyros secured the Aimarchy for himself, making him the first king who commanded a regional province directly. Of course, Tyros was also the very last king: he traded the future of Yer’is with Dinismayl for eternal life, and the Mount of Ys as well as all the lowlands was swallowed by the sea.

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