History of Harn
Almost nothing is known of what are believed to be the first inhabitants of Hârn; even their name is lost. They are now referred to as the Earthmasters or Ancients. Surviving murals portray figures of diverse stature and configuration. This might indicate they were either shape-changers or several distinct species. When and from where the Ancients came is unknown. Legends tell of an empire flourishing on Hârn 15,000 to 20,000 years ago. There is physical evidence to suggest their presence in Lythia and many believe that the Ancients controlled all of Kethira. Persistent legends claim the Earthmasters could travel vast distances instantaneously, change the weather, and control the minds of lesser creatures.
Stories of the Ancients are so incredible that their very existence could be easily dismissed were it not for the sites and artifacts they left. Scattered across Hârn and elsewhere are mysterious ruins. Considering their antiquity, it is remarkable that anything survives at all. Known sites tend to be remote and physical evidence of roads linking the sites has never been found. Although above-ground remains tend to be poorly preserved, most sites have extensive and well-crafted underground chambers and tunnels. One legend describes the lost city of Lahr-Darin, said to exist in pristine form beneath some mountain on Hârn.
Known Ancient sites have been repeatedly sacked and several outstanding artifacts have been secured by persons of power. The King of Evael is said to possess a Sli-Hordah, King Hazmadul of Azadmere is rumored to own the Kyn-Assard, and the King of Kaldor is known to keep the N’Garith. Diverse Earthmaster artifacts are also in the keeping of several mages of Melderyn. The most enduring and mysterious artifacts of all are the Godstones found at all Earthmaster sites
The Departure of the Earthmasters
Approximately 15,000 years ago, the Ancients suddenly vanished from the face of Hârn. Their departure remains a subject of uneasy conjecture. Why did they leave? Where did they go? Will they return? Somehave claimed that the Earthmasters never left, but merely withdrew to the Isle of Melderyn, where their descendants reside to this day.
The Lost Years
The period between the departure of the Ancients and the arrival of the Sindarin is generally referred to as the “Lost Years.” No contemporary records or artifacts survive from the period. Hârn may have been totally uninhabited, although some claim it was “an age of dragons, trolls, and fell beasts that defy description and harm the eye.” A few talk of great floods and earthquakes that separated the Hârnic Isles from the continent of Lythia.
THE AGE OF THE SINDARIN
The Sindarin are not noted for keeping much in the way of written records. They rely mainly on oral histories and they rarely speak of their past. Legend recounts that the Sindarin came to Hârn “from the east” and the date of their arrival is held to have been around 10,000 BT. The island was only one of several brief stops the Sindarin planned to make on a journey to the Blessed Realm but, unable to resist the pristine beauty of the island, many decided to stay “a while.” For 3,000 years, these Sindarin dwelt in peaceful solitude on Hârn with Siem, their deity. When Siem decided to continue his journey westwards, some Sindarin chose to stay on Hârn.
The Sindarin remaining on Hârn shared the island with a new race, the Khuzdul. The origins of the dwarven Khuzdul are vague, especially to outsiders who must rely on second-hand myths and speculation. Common legend recounts that Siem awoke the Khuzdul from “their eternal slumber deep within Kethira’s bosom.” How the dwarves came to be on Hârn is far from clear, but the Khuzdul did establish two impressive mountain cities at Kiraz and Azadmere around 6900 BT.
The Sindarin and Khuzdul have vastly divergent world views and have always preferred to dwell in separate communities. Nevertheless, they lived in near- perfect harmony for five millennia, a golden age known as The Codominium. Then, as now, each race possessed skills complementary to the other. The Sirion Scrolls detail trade and friendly intercourse between the two races, and the existence of a mutual trading center at Pesino is well documented. But with the coming of man, relations between the two elder peoples began their decline.
The Coming of Men
More than 2,000 years ago, the distant heartlands of Lythia spawned massive barbarian migrations that brought human immigrants to Hârn. Some say these were the first humans to reach Hârn, but a mysterious Henge Culture existed, at least on Melderyn, as early as 2700 BT. Because the Sindarin dwelled mainly in forests inland and the Khuzdul preferred the mountains, both were willing to tolerate the brash, short-lived humans. The newcomers called themselves Jarin and recognized the superior culture of the elder peoples. They swore fealty to the elven king, Daelda, and prospered along the coastal regions of Hârn.
Given their higher birthrate, men came to outnumber the Sindarin and Khuzdul within a few centuries.
Inevitably, some Jarin migrated inland from overcrowded coasts and human communities soon dotted the whole of the Hârnic Isles. The Sindarin were increasingly distressed at the humans’ clearing of ever-larger tracts of forest for cropland. It is likely that bloodshed would have resulted were it not for a greater common threat.
The Atani Wars
Around 1,600 years ago, warlike Lythians began to raid Hârn. At first only a minor threat to coastal villages, the raids increased in severity until King Daelda was forced to order all coastal settlements fortified and garrisoned. Checked only briefly, the barbarians began traveling up the rivers of Hârn and raiding inland.
After a century of pillage, the barbarians began to land forces intent on conquest. At first, King Daelda and his allies were able to expel them, but they were gradually forced to abandon the coasts of Solora and Horadir to these determined warriors. The barbarians pushed inland and a great battle was fought c. 683 BT
to decide the future of Hârn. Known as the Battle of Sorrows, the invaders were routed, but Daelda suffered a mortal wound.
The Sindarin Abdication
King Aranath, Daelda’s successor, knew the elves could win most battles against men, but also knew they would eventually expend their limited numbers against the endless swarms of barbarians. Aranath renounced his sovereignty over Hârn and withdrew his kinfolk to the Shava Forest, there to establish the Kingdom of Evael. The Khuzdul deemed this act a betrayal (which they have yet to forgive) and withdrew to their mountain strongholds. So it was that the elder peoples withdrew from the mainstream of Hârnic history and the island came under the domination of men.
By 500 BT, the Lythian invaders had either assimilated or driven the remaining Jarin into exile in the wilderness areas of north and northeast Hârn. Without the influence of the Sindarin and the Khuzdul, the level of Hârn’s civilization declined.
FOUNDING OF MELDERYN
The origins and early history of the island kingdom are obscure. Numerous henge sites, notably Gelimo on the west coast of Melderyn, date from around 2500 BT, suggesting the existence of an advanced culture many centuries before the Jarin migrations to Hârn. In any event, Melderyn was subjected to the same invasions as the rest of Hârn but assimilated each wave of newcomers without bloodshed. Cherafir was first inhabited during the early Jarin migrations on a site of Earthmaster origin.
Approximately 1,000 years ago, five small kingdoms were known to exist on the island, coexisting in a peaceful and loose alliance. The Five Kingdoms period came to an end 720 years ago, in the year from which all other Hârnic dates are reckoned, when the whole island peacefully came under the rule of Erebir Pendragon. Since its founding, Melderyn has exerted very little obvious influence on the Hârnic mainland. Its interference has been generally limited to occasional visits by individuals, many of whom have exhibited “strange powers.” These figures have earned the island the title “Wizards’ Isle” or “Mages’ Isle” and a reputation for magic and strange happenings.
LOTHRIM THE FOULSPAWNER
The anarchy prevalent throughout most of Hârn during the early centuries of this millennium presented opportunities for ambitious men. One who seized great power was Lothrim, chieftain of a semi-civilized tribe inhabiting the Chelna Gap 600 years ago. Lothrim was a man of learning; some have suggested that he was a renegade mage from Melderyn. Lothrim delved deeply into the arcane arts and unleashed a campaign that gained him an empire stretching from the Thard to the Kald (excluding, of course, the Shava Forest). Lothrim’s subjects differed widely in cultural development, from primitive, nomadic tribes who chafed under any external rule, to those who traced their lineage to the early Jarin and who had preserved their pastoral and agricultural skills. City-building was not a major pastime; Lothrim chose Elkall-Anuz, an Earthmaster site, as his capital; but other than this, only the eastern outpost of Kelapyn-Anuz (now Tashal) had a population in excess of 1,000.
of the Ancients. Never wholly sane, Lothrim became
Lothrim was obsessed by the mystique of the Earthmasters. Determined to rule all of Hârn, he decided the Ancients had done so aided by a race of humanoid soldier-slaves. By means of arcane arts long forbidden by the Sindarin, he managed to create or import a fast-breeding, short-lived race with very aggressive behavior. These he called Gargun. They proved violent, rebellious and quarrelsome; Lothrim was forced to govern them with an iron rod and to occupy them with constant wars. He undertook a reign of terror against the surrounding tribes now known as the Tyranny of the Foulspawner.The Penultimate Tome
In his unending quest for artifacts of the Earthmasters, Lothrim heard tell of a book, owned by the Khuzan King of Kiraz, said to contain the great secrets of the Ancients. Never wholly sane, Lothrim became obsessed with the thought of obtaining the Penultimate Tome at any cost. Kiraz was also a major obstacle to expanding his empire throughout western Hârn. Lothrim decided to lead an army of gargun against the Khuzan stronghold.
The Carnage of Kiraz
After a long and difficult march around Lake Benath,
up the steep Deret River valley, and across the Rayesha Mountains, Lothrim and his army arrived at the mountain fastness of Kiraz. The defeat of Lothrim’s weary forces would have been likely but for a freak of fortune. Most of the Khuzan warriors had recently departed down the Uthel River to hunt and gather food before the onset of winter. The tyrant’s forces burst upon the lightly defended cavern city and captured it with relative ease. The gargun engaged in a terrible orgy of bloodlust, rape, and pillage. Every Khuzan male, female, and child in Kiraz was slain and feasted on by the gargun hordes. Lothrim was delirious when a very old tome was discovered, written in a script unknown to him. Lothrim might have winteredin Kiraz, but supplies were short. So, confident that the power of Kiraz was destroyed, he began the long march home.
The Battle of Sirion
Meanwhile, the Khuzdul had patiently gathered an army and easily overpowered the small, disorderly garrison Lothrim had left to hold Kiraz. Outraged by the carnage they found, they undertook a furious pursuit. Lothrim and his army, completely unaware that such a force existed, were overtaken at their encampment near Sirion, where they may have been awaiting boats to carry them across Lake Benath. Lothrim found himself trapped between the Deret River, Lake Benath, and hordes of avenging Khuzdul. A great battle was fought but the result was never in doubt. Lothrim was utterly routed and the Khuzdul, in no mood for mercy, slew all in reach. Lothrim was taken alive. A chamber was carved under a mountain, possibly near Iracu, and a screaming Lothrim was cast in. Stone and mortar was brought and the tyrant was entombed with his precious tome, his madness, and an “honor guard” of a dozen starving gargun. The location and contents of “Lothrim’s Tomb” remain a subject of speculation; the Khuzdul will not speak of the Foulspawner.
Aftermath at Kiraz
The victorious Khuzdul could no longer bear to dwell in the haunted halls of Kiraz. After removing and burning the rotting gargun corpses, they sealed the gates with “enchantment and good stone” as a fitting tomb for its former inhabitants. Then they grimly marchedto Azadmere, where their kinfolk gave them refuge. To this day, the Khuzdul are convinced that the Sindarin of Evael should have intervened to prevent the tyranny of Lothrim; the dwarves have yet to forgive this negligence.
Collapse of Lothrim’s Federation
Without Lothrim’s charisma and personal power, his empire lacked cohesion. When news of his death reached Elkall-Anuz, no successor could hope to overcome the tyrant’s legacy of hatred and resentment and the confederation dissolved. Lothrim’s former subjects slew or drove out the Foulspawn. The surviving gargun fled into the mountains, where their numerous descendants still live. So ended the Tyranny of the Foulspawner.
Elkall-Anuz was looted and abandoned. On the eastern fringes of his former empire, where the influence of the Jarin and the Melderyni was strongest, new states arose
THE SEVEN KINGDOMS
The eastern tribes and states where the Jarin influence was strongest were the most culturally advanced of Lothrim’s subjects. With the Foulspawner’s demise, six states gradually emerged from the ruins of his empire. Some of these borrowed their culture from the Jarin, with whom they had long intermarried; some were undoubtedly influenced by ancient Melderyn. In any event, by 170 TR, seven independent kingdoms (including Melderyn) soon existed in eastern Hârn.
The Migration Wars
The Migration Wars were directly responsible for the contemporary political states in eastern Hârn. Heralded by the sudden onslaught against western Kephria in 178 by the Kath (a tribe from the foothills of the Felsha Mountains), a period of warfare and migrations known as the Migration Wars began. For 60 years, all but the island state of Melderyn suffered from repeated incursions and pillage from surrounding barbaric tribes.
Why the Kath, Pagaelin, Taelda, Bujoc, and Hodiri tribal nations suddenly became so aggressive is not fully understood; historians have been forced to speculate. Some of the tribes are thought to have been alarmed by the sudden appearance of large numbers of gargun in their mountain ranges. Others may have experienced something of a population explosion as a result of the relative tranquillity following the tyranny of Lothrim.
The Founding of Kaldor
The most dramatic events of the Migration Wars took place in the northern kingdoms, where all four states were eventually merged into one. In 182, King Orsin of Pagostra perceived no way to turn back the advancing Pagaelin and appealed to Medrik I of Serelind for help. Medrik agreed, but the price of his aid was a promise of fealty. The combined armies of Serelind and Pagostra defeated the Pagaelin at the battle of Kobing in 183. The following year, Orsin kept his vow and surrendered his realm to Medrik in return for an earldom in the larger state.
Meanwhile, Kephria had suffered acutely at the hands of the Kath. Defeated at the Battle of Hosat in 178, Kephria had lost most of her lands west of the Kald River by 185. When King Torbet died at the battle of Lareb Hill (in the Kathela Hills) in 187, leaving only young children as heirs, Medrik I marched into the Kephrian capital of Tashal. The population was thoroughly demoralized and most Kephrians welcomed the peace and security pledged by Medrik in return for their fealty. The following year, with Serelind and the remnants of two other kingdoms under his control, Medrik proclaimed the Kingdom of Kaldor.
Finally, as the Migration Wars were drawing to a close, a succession crisis arose in Nurelia in 235. The crisis prompted a baronial revolt that threatened to tear that northern kingdom apart. One faction offered the crown to Kalabin of Kaldor but not all of the nobility desired a foreign king. At the battle of Olokand in 238, Kalabin put down the last dissenters to secure his new fief. For the next century, Kalabin and his heirs were able to maintain Kaldor against all external threats while patiently building a strong feudal state.
The southern kingdoms also felt the brunt of the Migration Wars. Chybisa, founded in 160 by a Melderyni knight, was almost totally eradicated by the rampages of the Bujoc, Hodiri, and Pagaelin. Having lost most of her territory, only brilliant generalship allowed her to defeat the barbarians at Burzyn in 227. Chybisa
was then able to maintain her precarious independence as a tiny kingdom.
The Demise of Elorinar
Elorinar, founded in 155 by Nathwic, did not survive as an independent state. The Elorinarian town of Laket was sacked by the Bujoc in 218 and King Janakor was slain. For nearly four years, the Bujoc defeated every army that Elorinar could muster. In a desperate effort to save his realm, King Korab declared fealty to King Shelir I of Melderyn in 223. Over the next two years, Shelir sent several emissaries to the Bujoc and was soon able to announce the Peace of Anadel. How the Melderyni king turned the Bujoc into (relatively) peaceful tribesmen remains a mystery.
THE CORANI EMPIRE
In the west of Hârn, several states rose and fell in the wake of Lothrim’s empire but none achieved any degree of permanence until the fertile Thard Valley gave birth to the Corani Empire. The region’s heart was inhabitedby the Corani tribes who, just more than four centuries ago, were united under a warrior king called Corthir. His new kingdom extended barely 20 leagues east and west of Coranan and was confined to the north bank of the Thard.
At first, the empire faced only relatively barbaric tribes in its drive to expand. Kings Kusem and Lobir awarded land to trusted relatives and faced more of a threat from home grown assassins than from the barbarians. Only the Merdi, the federated tribes west of the River Gomisen, were able to halt the Corani armies. By the time of Lobir’s death, the kingdom’s western border was at the Gomisen, its eastern was near Telen, and it held some lands south of the Thard.
The Hefiosa Campaign
The fourth Corani king, Raelan, mounted a major campaign against the Hefiosa region where the natives, augmented by brigands, had long been troublesome. The early winter of 365 trapped Raelan’s army deep within the mountains and, by spring, its much depleted ranks were no match for the locals. The canny barbarian leader, Adjak, harassed the Corani army with nightly raids; Raelan’s retreat turned into a rout and he was killed.
Arosta the Conqueror
The disaster might have proved fatal to the kingdom were it not for Raelan’s young son, Arosta. The tribes of Hefiosa flocked to the banners of the victorious Adjak, who led them from the mountains intent on laying waste to Coranan itself. The tribesmen were unstoppable and it was only their delays to loot that gave Arosta the time to raise a new army. At the battle of Osten in 367, Arosta inflicted a crushing defeat on Adjak. For the next two years, the tribes were subjected to a bloody series of campaigns, culminating in their near total extinction by 369. Adjak disappeared without trace and Hefiosa was annexed.
His northern flank secure, Arosta advanced up the Thard to the shores of Lake Benath into the region inhabited by the Shira, who were easily defeated at the Battle of the Source in 372. A similar fate befell the Komii and, by 373, Arosta had better than doubled the size of his realm. After a few years consolidation, Arosta completed his conquest of the Thard Valley by defeating the Merdi in 377.
Founding of the Empire
Arosta’s son, Malian, concentrated on consolidation. He was the first Corani ruler to take the title of “emperor” and founded the cities of Merethos (now named Golotha) and Shiran. Malian is also credited with the creation of the Corani civil service, an organization that had no rival in sophistication or complexity.
Kobar succeeded his father at the age of 23. He expanded the empire south to the River Eryn but attempts to conquer Peran were less successful. A trail was blazed north and a fort was built at Kustan in 414. Several defeats were inflicted on the wild tribes of Peran but still they rose in repeated and bloody rebellions, earning the name “the Scarlet Ribbon” for the trail that led to Kustan. Peran would prove to be an immense drain on the empire’s resources. Despite this, internal economic development was dramatic. A population explosion brought new lands under cultivation and trade prospered.
The Kingdom of Aleathia
During the rise of Corani power, a rival kingdom developed south of the River Eryn in southwest Hârn. Around 356, the Aleta tribes were unified to build their own kingdom, named after its capital city of Aleath. The Kingdom of Aleathia was able to resist Corani expansions southwards for almost a century.
The Corani Succession Crisis
When the eighth Corani emperor, Laketta, died heirless after an ignoble reign, a complex power struggle ensued. The current king of Aleathia, an ambitious and impetuous ruler called Xuaka, sought to take advantage of Corani weakness. Xuaka had spent 14 years expanding Aleathia along the disputed west coast and saw himself as a man of destiny. In 443, he invaded the southern domains of the Corani and seized Heroth. The invasion was the catalyst needed to solve the problem of the Corani succession.
The empire’s pragmatic nobility promptly chose a soldier called Mejenes for the throne.
Maejenes the Great
Mejenes had royal blood and was a veteran of border wars. Xuaka’s military skills may have been equal to that of Mejenes, but the resources of the Corani Empire were far greater. After four years of protracted war, which included victories for both sides, Mejenes was able to pen Xuaka inside the walls of Aleath while the Corani army laid waste to his kingdom. Xuaka could do little but accept the terms of peace offered by Mejenes in 447. The Kingdom of Aleathia would be restored to its pre-war borders for the balance of Xuaka’s life but would then be willed to the Corani Empire. When Xuaka died of natural causes six years later, the terms of the peace were honored and Aleathia became a Corani province. Mejenes died in 465 and was buried amidst an unprecedented outpouring of public grief. Other emperors had done more to improve the lot of their people, but it is always the great soldiers who are best loved.
Decline of the Empire
With the last obstacle to Corani hegemony in the west removed, the empire seemed destined to rule all Hârn. Another emperor of Mejenes’ skills might have done so, but the six emperors who followed him were not soldiers. Mejenes’ own son, Sylud the Scholar, was vehemently opposed to military spending. This led to the total collapse of the northern province of Peran when Kustan was captured in 477, its garrison massacred by the Kubora.
With the exception of Mindrithar, the empire was then cursed with a series of incompetent emperors. Saurach was a religious fanatic who promptly got himself assassinated after seeking to ban all religions other than the Church of Agrik. Korad was a pliable moron, totally unable to control the acquisitive Corani nobility. Shorka chose to ignore affairs of state and appointed his eccentric court astrologer, Workol, as chancellor. Workol managed to alienate nearly everyone with excessive taxation and nonsensical policies based on his readings of the stars and planets.
The last emperor, Medak, was a vigorous and strong emperor but came too late to save the empire. He clearly perceived the rot and decadence that had infected the realm, although his cure may have been worse than the disease. One of his first acts was to execute Workol and then hundreds of others were put to death by impalement. One of these was the prophet Balsha.
Balsha the Prophet
Born of a common soldier in the Corani province of Rethem in 520, Balsha was destined to become the
most important religious personality in the hist1o0ry of Hârn. At 32, this charismatic priest of Morgath achieved prominence by correctly predicting a hard winter and poor crop. Over the next six years, Balsha’s fame grew. Aided by a destructive series of plagues and famines that the imperium could not check, his preaching of Balshanism, a heresy of Morgathianism, and the uncanny accuracy of his prophecies, won him a large following. Medak thought it wise to terminate the rantings of this “petty troublemaker” and Balsha was dragged to the impaling stake in 558 at the age of 38. His dying words are reputed to have been:
“Now I, freed of the burdens of cloying flesh, enter the pure state of undeath. They that would have life eternal above the allotted instant of mortal man, they that would live half forever, instead of all now, they that would wish the gratitude of men yet to be born, and they that would love the true master of men’s souls may follow. Cast down the decadence and futile misery of blind tyranny.”
Balsha’s lieutenants made these words a call to arms. Thousands flocked to the martyr’s birthplace of Ithiko and the Balshan Jihad was born.
The Balshan Jihad
The disastrous Red Death, a deadly plague that ravaged all Hârn at this time, fed the rebellion. By
560, the whole of Rethem, where Medak’s purges had seriously depleted the army’s will to resist, was under Balshan control. Encouraged by their success, the Balshans gave siege to the city of Merethos in 562 and it fell after a brief siege. Its captors gave the city its present name, Golotha, which is believed to mean something like “dark victory” in the secret tongue of the church of Morgath.
After a brief respite, the victorious rebels surged out of Golotha intent on winning an empire. Several battles were fought but nothing could prevent the Balshan onslaught. The city of Coranan was soon under siege. The defenses of the Imperial capital were very strong and it is possible the rebellion might have petered out. However, at this crucial time, Horahnam, the ambitious Corani governor of the city of Shiran, embraced the jihad, surrendering the city in 564. After an investment of Coranan for two years, Emperor Medak was captured as he attempted to flee to Aleath with many of his court and kin. Their stores exhausted, disease rampant, and with a clear view of the hill where the emperor and his retainers were impaled, the morale of Coranan’s defender’s crumbled. Coranan surrendered to the Balshans in 565.
THE THEOCRACY OF TEKHOS
Although the city of Aleath was to resist the rebels for seven more years, forming an independent republic from 565 to 572, the Corani Empire was dead. With the fall of Coranan, a power struggle ensued among the victorious Balshans. The Morgathian Church, itself chronically disunited, also proved incapable of forming a government. After two years of internecine butchery, Horahnam of Tekhos emerged as the sole leader
after an astute combination of political maneuver and assassination. He founded the Theocracy of Tekhos in 568 with Shiran as its capital.
Casting a malevolent eye southwards, Horahnam ordered the city of Aleath taken. Tekhosian forces swept down and gave siege to “the fairest city of man” in
569. Although the city held out for three long and bitter years, there was no hope of relief and its defenders resigned themselves to their eventual doom. Hundreds of Aleathians slew themselves and each other rather than witness the fall of Aleath and the rape and pillage that would follow. When the city’s walls were breached in the late spring of 572, very few Aleathians survived the terrible bloodbath; those who did remembered it as the “Agony of Aleath.”
The Aleathian Odyssey
One month before Aleath fell to the Tekhosians, a few hundred Aleathians fled by sea to undertake what is now known as the “Aleathian Odyssey.” This group, made up of nobles, priests, artisans, merchants, farmers (supposedly chosen by lot), and many children under 12, boarded
a motley fleet of some 50 ships and sailed eastward into the Gulf of Ederwyn with the intent of founding a “New Aleath.” Written accounts of the Odyssey describe horrific storms and fanciful sea monsters. It is known that fully half of the vessels disappeared, although other legends recount that some of these unfortunates actually survived to found colonies at various likely and unlikely spots around the Gulf of Ederwyn. The remaining fleet eventually made it to the island of Keboth, where they were succored by the Sindarin. There (or possibly before, the records are ambiguous) the refugees met with a Melderyni mage called Genin. Under his guidance, the weary Aleathians sailed through the Indatha Straits to found the city of Thay in 573.
A Reign of Terror
The capture of Aleath removed any possible threat to Horahnam and he quickly turned the Theocracy of Tekhos into a violent and repressive dictatorship. Many Thardans had rejoiced at the casting down of the corrupt empire. Soon they came to realize that their old masters had known little of real tyranny when compared with
the butchers of Tekhos. Dozens of religious tribunals were established to crush opposition to the new order. Thousands of the nobility, their retainers, and sympathizers were impaled or forced into outlawry to escape the purges. In the cities, perverse Morgathian rituals, spectacles, public torture, and execution became commonplace. It must be admitted that the spectacles were popular among the masses; many cheered the butchers on, until they themselves were carried off at midnight by the dreaded inquisitors.
Such tyranny could not be tolerated forever. Horahnam was assassinated in 588 during a visit to the temple of Morgath in Coranan. The identity and number of the assassins was never established; the tyrant’s headless corpse bore 50 stab wounds, which suggests that more than one assassin was involved. Spontaneous rebellions soon erupted throughout the Theocracy. The life of any priest of Morgath, any friend or relative of Clan Tekhos, was forfeit. Only Golotha resisted the revolt. Within two months, the rule of Tekhos had died as violently as it had been born.
With the collapse of the Theocracy, Tharda fell into three decades of chaos and dozens of petty states vied with one another to establish or resist a new empire. Large bands of brigands operated unchecked; the distinctions between bandits, mercenaries, raiding tribesmen, and legitimate armies became academic. Trade collapsed and the nefarious roaming bands consumed the wealth of the countryside. Coranan tried vainly to revive the Corani Empire. A second Aleath Republic was born in 612, the Kingdom of Kanday in 620, the Coranan Republic in 621, and the Shiran Republic in 625. Golotha and Rethem were lonely relics of the hated Theocracy.
THE FOUNDING OF KANDAY
The house of Kand, minor nobility of the Corani Empire, first achieved prominence when it was outlawed by the Theocracy of Tekhos in 575 for sheltering enemies of the state. Fleeing the impalers, the clan went into exile and sought refuge in the Mimea Hills. Led by the young Andasin, the clan and its followers harassed the forces of the government despite several attempts to exterminate them.
With the collapse of the Theocracy in 588, Andasin seized Ibonost from its Tekhosian governor in 589 and established the Kingdom of Kanday. Andasin proved himself a genius at siege warfare. He took Edino Keep from its vicious warlord in 598 after a night assault in small boats across the Eryn River. His crowning achievement came in his old age when, in 620, he took Dyrisa Castle from its Morgathian overlord. A devout follower of Larani, Andasin established the Order of the Checkered Shield in 622 and gave them responsibility for guarding his northern frontier. Around 624, Andasin began a sad decline into senility to die in 627 at the venerable age of 69. All of his sons having died in battle, Andasin was succeeded by his grandson, Andasin II.
Andasin II was a man more inclined to negotiation than war. He made alliances with the petty states on his borders, including the Aleath Republic. The republic had restored order to the city and its environs during the Interregnum but was unable to extend its power much beyond this. The senate of the young republic, noting the ascendancy of Kanday on its northern frontier and impressed with the competence and policies of Andasin II, voted to join with the kingdom in 633. Aleath was granted a liberal charter recognizing its rights as a freetown within the kingdom. By the time Andasin II died in 654, Kanday was strong, vigorous, and prosperous.
Its gentle influence had spread throughout much of southwestern Tharda.
ARLUN THE BARBARIAN
Towards the end of the Interregnum, the Kuboran tribes of Peran were united for the first time under Arlun, a tribal leader of great personal charisma and no small skill at arms. By 625, Arlun had become the acknowledged chieftain of nearly 90 Kubora tribes. Convinced of a great destiny, Arlun planned his conquest of the south. For four years he bided his time, training his men in the arts of war that were to win him a kingdom.
Arlun’s hordes swept down into Rethem in 629, ruled at that time by the “Golothan” or “Second” Theocracy. Shostim was quickly taken but there was little time for rejoicing. The castle was immediately counter-attacked from north and south. Arlun’s brilliant defense held Shostim against repeated bloody and wasteful assaults, forcing the besiegers to retire. Wastingno time, Arlun left half of his army to hold Shostim and advanced northwest to capture Tormau after a brief siege in 630.
By 632, Arlun held all of Rethem north of Shostim, then took pause to consolidate his gains.
The Founding of Rethem
Arlun felt strong enough to resume the war in 635. One third of his army attacked and seized Quste with much noise while the remainder, led by Arlun, moved southeast to cross the Thard and take Thiri. Golotha Menekai gathered an army twice the size of Arlun’s and marched Imrium north to take the bait at Quste, completely unaware of Arlun’s presence at Thiri. The Kubora holding Quste retired to Shostim as planned, pursued by the Golothan Techen army. Sensing victory, the Theocracy’s incompetent generals once again threw waves of men at Shostim, but the defenders held.
Meanwhile, Arlun had marched on Golotha from the southeast and found it lightly defended. The city was easily taken by Arlun in the late summer of 635. When the besiegers of Shostim heard the news of Golotha’s fall, they realized they had been outmaneuvered, lifted their siege, and marched south to recapture their city. There they found Arlun had organized a solid defense. Facing the prospect of a long siege with few provisions and a hostile army at their rear, the besiegers decided to come to terms. The Kingdom of Rethem was proclaimed in the autumn of 635 with Arlun as its first king.
Arlun spent the next few years extending his domains east and south, taking Menekai and Senun from the Thardic League in 639 and establishing his southern border at Dunir and Menekod by 654. His persecution of Morgathian theocrats only succeeded in driving them underground. However, by 650, he felt secure enough to restore religious freedom. His kingdom was the largest since the Corani Empire, extending from the Gomisen River to Cape Vikod and from Ternu Heath to the Pemetta River.
THE THARDIC LEAGUE
In central and northeastern Tharda, two republics arose from the Interregnum; the Coranan Republic in 621 and the Shiran Republic in 625. Both had similar political structures, with senates controlled by wealthy families, many of whom made their fortunes in trade. The two republics formed a mutual defense alliance in 632. With the threat of Arlun the Barbarian weighing heavily, the two republics voted to form a league in 636. The Thardic League created the office of autarch, to be held by men of military experience who would have responsibility for external affairs and defense, while the republics were to retain internal autonomy. Autarchs were to be elected for seven years and could serve only once. Neradas of Shiran was chosen the first autarch. His first duty was to create an integrated League army that would later be called the Red Guard. Personally commanding the guard, Neradas faced an incursion from Rethem, loosing Menekai and Senun but halting the invasion at the Gomisen River.
The Five-Year War
The two succeeding autarchs both sought to expand their power by employing the Red Guard to annex new territories, notably the region of Kom in 654. Autarch Jalien undertook to extend the League’s holdings south of the River Thard. He oversaw the conquest and annexation of the petty state of Moleryn in 661 but was slain by a stray arrow. Since Moleryn was allied to the Kingdom of Kanday, Queen Arelora demanded the withdrawal of League forces but her ultimatum was ignored by Jalien’s successor, Colura of Coranan. Arelora declared war and five years of sporadic fighting began.
Although dozens of minor skirmishes took place, only two battles were of any significance. Queen
Arelora left the conduct of the war to her lieutenants.
A disorganized Kandian army was soundly defeated by Colura at the Battle of the Teb Marshes in 663, leading to the loss of the royal keep at Ibonost. The fall of Ibonost, which had been the first major holding of the Kandian
command of her army. The sight of the diminutive 52-year-old queen, bedecked in armour, served to rally the demoralized Kandians. The armies of Kanday and the League came to battle near Quivum in 665, where the “avenging queen” inflicted an ignominious defeat on Colura.
Urging her army forward, Arelora went on to take Eidru and Kuseme and might well have captured Coranan had not the wide Thard River checked her advance. Colura sued for peace. The League was allowed to keep Moleryn but Ibonost was returned and Kanday received the more valuable Eidru and Kuseme. The treaty was signed in 666; both sides considered the war won.
THE THARDIC REPUBLIC
Aglir of Telen was the League’s last autarch. The growing regal overtones of the office had made many senators uneasy. Some began to privately advocate the merging of the two republics to counterbalance any imperial pretensions held by an autarch. Aglir antagonized this anti-imperial faction when he chose his own son, Taresir, to be deputy commander of the Autarch’s Guard in 670 and when he involved the League in the Salt Wars with Kaldor without senate approval. Aglir’s easy victory against Kaldor at the Battle of the Chelna Gap in 672 silenced the few brave souls who had been critical, but when the Guard was routed at the Battle of Ramala Gap in 673 and an embarrassing peace with Kaldor signed, his enemies in the League moved swiftly. Rumors to the effect that Aglir’s ambitions included kingship sprang up with alarming rapidity. To avert some of the blame for the military defeat, Aglir had 43 officers arrested, tried, and executed for treason in 674. His son Taresir, the man most responsible, was not one of them.
Aglir now faced army unrest and events came swiftly to a climax. Anti-imperialist riots spread throughout Coranan. Aglir declared martial law and prepared to arrest certain senators in both cities. Before this could be done, four of his personal guards stabbed him to death. The next morning, the senates of both republics passed identical decrees to abolish the office of autarch and establish a committee to explore the creation of a joint state. Within three months, the Thardic Republic was in being, its seat of government in Coranan.
RETHEM IN CHAOS
The proudly independent Kuboran tribes of Peran were united only by the charisma of Arlun the Barbarian. When he died in 656, they renounced their loyalty to his son, Obras. Thus the entire region of Peran was lost to the Kingdom of Rethem and the new king was too occupied with numerous revolts in the south to attempt to regain the northern marches. Much harried, Obras was slain while putting down yet another rebellion at Tormau in 672, leaving to his son a kingdom in chaos.
Nemiran sought to reunify the kingdom. Taking Kanday as a model, he parceled out his domain to trusted retainers and gave up trying to rule the whole himself.
The impressive citadel at Golotha was renovated and became the king’s principal seat in 678. Nemiran soon came under the influence of the resurgent Church of Agrik and proved the tenet that none are so zealous as the recent convert. He founded the orders of Demon Pameshlu the Insatiable and the Octagonal Pit and financed the construction of a new temple to Agrik in Golotha. In 681, the last year of his reign, Nemiran granted Menekai to the Order of the Red Shadows of Herpa, and Menekod, Hyen, Dunir, and Selvos to the Order of the Copper Hook.
King Nemiran was assassinated on the steps of his palace in Golotha on midsummer’s day, 681. It is likely that the blows were struck at the order of Puril, the ambitious commander of the king’s bodyguard.
On Nemiran’s sudden demise, Puril sent troops into the streets to maintain order and proclaimed himself regent until a proper successor could be found. Several candidates for the throne came forward; all died mysteriously before they could take the throne. After six months, Puril “reluctantly” took the crown himself.
In 682, the Order of the Copper Hook suddenly attacked the Kingdom of Kanday without provocation. Advancing northeast from their castle at Menekod, the knights of the order laid siege to Imiden but were forced to quit the field when the Order of the Checkered Shield sent a relief force. The Grandmaster of the Copper Hook, Ezar Zhirdoka, appealed to Puril for aid and thus began what came to be known as Ezar’s War.
The armies of Rethem and Kanday engaged repeatedly, but without much effect, all along their border for the next six years while Puril hatched a scheme to win the war by less direct means. In 688, an army led by Puril embarked by sea from Golotha and landed near Sarkum.
Puril’s plan was to seize Sarkum and march east on Aleath, thereby flanking Kanday. Surprise was achieved. Puril quickly overwhelmed Sarkum and Hebon, both independent allies of Kanday, but Puril suffered a mortal wound and died early in 689.
Puril’s son, Kabe, succeeded his father but the transfer of power gave Kanday valuable time to respond to the Rethemi strategy. The surviving petty states west of Aleath declared fealty to the Kandian king, Andasin III. When Kabe arrived at Sarkum by sea from Golotha, he found himself besieged by a fresh enemy force. Kanday recaptured Hebon in 690, although Andasin III was killed in the final assault. Kabe was still trapped in Sarkum. Any hopes he may have entertained that Kanday would lose heart with the death of their leader were dashed when the enemy rallied to the young Queen Eriel. In 692, fire broke out in the besieged Sarkum and Kabe perished. The castle surrendered, but Ezar’s War went on.
Chafin I was Kabe’s eldest surviving son. A competent strategist, he was able to maintain the stalemate along the Kandian border except for the loss of Dunir in 693. Determining that indirect methods could still win the war, he instructed the Order of the Crimson Dancer to assassinate Queen Eriel in 694. The murder did not, however, have the desired effect. The assassin was caught and when she confessed (under torture) and implicated the Rethemi king, all Kanday was outraged.
Mirelael succeeded her elder sister in a storm of fury against the Rethemi. Her armies seized the fortresses of Selvos and Menekod in the swift campaign of 695. To this point, only lands held by the Order of the Copper Hook had been lost by Rethem. Fearing that some of his own lands might soon be conquered, Chafin sought terms. The Peace of Selvos was signed in 697, ending a bitter 15-year war in which two monarchs from each side and many thousands of men had died. The peace established, more or less, the present Rethem-Kanday border.
Kanday emerged stronger than ever from Ezar’s War. The independent states west of Aleath, and lands taken from the Order of the Copper Hook, had been added to the kingdom. Rethem, on the other hand, verged on civil war. Chafin had the notorious Ezar assassinated in 698. The Order of the Crimson Dancer suffered the disfavor of the king to the extent that they emigrated to Orbaal in 701. Chafin I was assassinated in 703; this time no one was caught.
Andasin IV, the current ruler of Kanday, succeeded his mother, Mirelael, in 707 at the age of 17. The first five years of his reign were as peaceful as the problems along the border with Rethem would allow. Andasin IV would have preferred to maintain the Kandian tradition of peace and was distressed when he became embroiled ina war with the Thardic Republic in 712. The war started, probably as a result of a misunderstanding, when the Kandian Earl of Kuseme sent a band of knights to assert his control over a few disputed villages east of Eidru. Kronas Elernin, the Marshal of Ramala Province, took exception and moved forces to challenge the Kandian earl.
Kuseme Castle is clearly visible from Coranan and linked to the city by the Kobar Bridge. The Thardic Senate was in a hawkish mood and anxious to recover Kuseme, lost during the Five Year War. It made this minor crisis a pretext for war. Kronas was ordered to attack and seize Kuseme and he did so with dispatch. After much maneuvering, the opposing armies met in the autumn of 712 and Kronas emerged the victor. Eidru Keep was seized by Kronas; Kuseme was besieged.
The onset of winter prevented further conflict. The young Kandian king was not interested in war and offered peace. Before hostilities could resume in the spring, a peace was concluded that gave Kuseme and Eidru to the Thardic Republic. Kronas was furious, believing that he could have conquered all of Kanday. Privately, Kronas still believes that the senate acted out of jealousy and fear; the hero-worshipping masses are always fond of successful generals. In any event, the Senate was more than happy with the territorial gains, annexing the former Earldom of Kuseme as Eidel Province. To placate Kronas and his followers, the general was rewarded by being made both marshal and magistrate of the new province. Kronas still holds both offices.
Although a few senators have expressed unease, none have yet
challenged his considerable power.
CHYBISA: THE MELDERYNI KINGS
After her near destruction in the Migration Wars, Chybisa’s monarchs built carefully. Her fortifications were respected by the surrounding tribes and the vigilance
of her defenders was well known. But after a century of relative peace, she had grown decadent and her nobility had grown complacent and apathetic. At the beginning of the fifth century, renewed aggression by the Hodiri and Pagaelin tribes (and their harassment of caravans and traders) caused alarm in Chybisa. When Verlid VI died heirless in 409, the barons of the kingdom offered the vacant throne to Imadain I of Melderyn in the hope that fear of the island realm would keep the tribes at bay. It did. The barbarians quieted almost immediately and Chybisa relaxed back into prosperity.
Between 409 and 475, a council of Chybisan barons governed in the name of four Melderyni kings. When a bastard succeeded to the Melderyni throne in 475 under the island kingdom’s ambiguous succession laws, the Chybisans were outraged. The barons of Chybisa seceded from the island realm and elected one of their number as King Sharat I. Arabar II of Melderyn proclaimed that he did not recognize the legitimacy of the new king but took no further action. The succeeding Chybisan monarchs enjoyed almost 200 years of peace.
KALDOR: A TRADITION OF REBELLION
Kaldor has had a long history of rebellion, interspersed with periods of recovery. Soon after the founding of Kaldor in 188, the kingdom developed a tradition of unrest as powerful barons were forever in conflict with the strong royal government. This culminated with a disastrous Civil War on the death of King Maranos in 362.
The Kaldoric Civil War
The clearly legitimate successor to Maranos was Aidrik II but many of the barons backed a rival claimant who promised them greater regional autonomy. Fierth of Qualdris claimed to be Aidrik’s elder brother, born on the wrong side of the blanket. Neither claimant could fully command the loyalty of their followers. For 15 years, all that was achieved was to lay waste to the countryside. In 377, Aidrik II, acting on treacherously false information, was caught in the open with his army by a superior rebel force near Kiban. He and his army fought bravely, despite the defection of several of his vassal-lords, but Fierth won the day. According to popular history, Aidrik was captured and slowly roasted alive over an open fire.
Fierth the Usurper failed to deliver the powers promised and was forced to defend his crown ruthlessly on several occasions from the very barons who had supported him. Fierth preferred subtle methods; he corrupted the judicial system to his needs and levied ever-greater taxes. Many barons were tried and executed for treason. On his death, a major revolt erupted. Uthred, his son, was able to subdue this rebellion but was unable to win the support of his recalcitrant nobility. He was slain by a band of knights while hunting in 406. The barons assembled to choose an heir and Aidrik II’s only surviving son, who had been given refuge in Chybisa, was handed the crown. The new king took the name Aidrik III and promised to rule in a manner respectful of the barons’ rights. All were tired of war and, for nearly 100 years, conciliation and compromise became the principles that would govern Kaldoric politics.
The House of Elendsa
During the sixth century, Kaldoric rulers again began to gather powers at the expense of the barons. Some kings and queens proved unable to use those powers wisely. With the death of King Iemald in 599, the lack of a clearly legitimate successor sparked a violent revolt among the barons. The baronial revolt (really another civil war) was waged sporadically by some 15 claimants. By the time Haldan the Elder of clan Elendsa emerged the victor, the kingdom again faced long years of reconstruction. Both Haldan the Elder and Haldan the Younger, his son and successor, and Queen Chelebin III, sponsored the sentimental movement towards “a new age of chivalry” in present-day Kaldor.
The Salt War
Queen Chelebin’s son Torastra was a born warrior. He cared little for the lofty principles of knighthood and was forever seeking ways to put the well-trained flower of Kaldoric chivalry to practical use. When a dispute with the Thardic League over the salt trade erupted, Torastra is believed to have been ecstatic. But his eagerness
to engage in battle betrayed him. Quickly gathering some of his knights, he undertook the long westward march with indecent haste, caring little for the logistical requirements of a foreign campaign. He led his followers straight into what amounted to a clever ambush laid by the Autarch Aglir and was effectively beaten at the Battle of the Chelna Gap (672). Torastra returned to Tashal and contemplated the merits of the “dishonorable” style of warfare his opponent had exhibited.
The following year, Torastra set out again with a larger, better-prepared army. This time it was he who surprised and defeated the League’s army at the Battle of Ramala Gap. Leaving the peace settlement to his lieutenants, whereby Kaldoric merchants gained valuable trading rights in Tharda, Torastra began looking for
The Treasure War
In 674, thieves broke into the treasury of King Torastra of Kaldor and stole a jewel-encrusted, allegedly enchanted sword that had belonged to Calsten, the second king of Serelind (142–162). The thieves smuggled the priceless weapon to Burzyn and news soon reached Tashal that it had been sold, in open market, to a Chybisan nobleman. Torastra sent word to King Balesir of Chybisa demanding the return of the ancient heirloom. Balesir was unable or unwilling to recover the blade and may have doubted its very existence.
Still savoring his victory in the Salt War and always spoiling for a good fight, Torastra marshalled his men and knights. In the spring of 675, Torastra’s army swept down the Genin Trail and crossed the Ulmerien on both sides of Burzyn. After almost 400 years without a real war, the Chybisan army was easily routed by Torastra’s veterans. Withdrawing into Burzyn, Balesir held out for three years, supplied only at night by small river boats. With plague and rebellion rife, Balesir sought and obtained the honors of war in 678. Only a few score of his retainers followed him into exile. The stolen sword was not recovered and Chybisa became a Kaldoric fief.
Balesir journeyed to Thay and then to Cherafir to petition King Etobran for aid. The Melderyni king not only refused but went so far as to forbid any of his vassals to assist the deposed monarch. Returning to Thay, Balesir continued to seek assistance, but to no avail. It was not until Chunel came to the throne that he obtained any sympathy. In 685, Balesir promised to swear fealty to the Melderyni king if he should ever recover his kingdom; this seemingly softened matters. Chunel lifted the proscription against aid to Balesir, saying that any who wished to aid him might do so.
By 687, Balesir had raised an army, crossed Anadel, and defeated the small army Torastra had left to garrison Chybisa at the Battle of Geda. However, once Balesir had recovered his crown, he renounced his promise of fealty to Chunel. The Melderyni king is reputed to have expressed a lack of surprise at this turn of events and has since hinted that Chybisa is unlikely to have things her own way forever. Torastra denounced Balesir as a treacherous churl, but declining health prevented him from pressing his claim to the Chybisan throne. The aging Torastra was to fight only one more campaign, against the Kath in 689, before his death from old wounds in 693.
THE JARIN OF THE NORTH
The mountainous, fjord-indented northern part of Hârn is now called Orbaal but this is a recent name. Formerly called Jara, it was occupied for more than 1,000 years by the Jarin, the first human settlers on Hârn, many of whom had fled north to escape the Lythian barbarians after the Atani Wars. Their 400-year exposure to the Sindarin and Khuzdul gave the Jarin a kind of mystique that, even today, sets them apart from other human societies.
Since the Tyranny of the Foulspawner, the Jarin of the north have been constantly plagued by bands of gargun who found the Jahl Mountains a fine refuge. The Jarin built most of their settlements along the coasts, fortified against gargun raids. By the middle of the seventh century, the north was dotted with Jarin keeps and manors and, although fragmented into more than a dozen petty states, a crude feudal society developed.
The Ivinian Conquest
The Jarin were now confronted with a more deadly foe than the gargun. To the northeast of Hârn is a land called Ivinia. This rough land spawned an equally rough race of seafarers. In their swift and dreaded dragon ships, the Ivinians began to raid the coast of Jara around 645. They came for booty but, finding the fjords of Jara much to their liking and judging the Jarin to be disorganized and cowardly, some Ivinians decided to make Jara their own. In 652, Sherwyn Keep on Gedil Island was sacked and captured. One by one, the isolated Jarin communities suffered the same fate. The capture of Lethwyn in 667 was the death knell of Jarin independence. This was the strongest Jarin hold; its Ivinian captors renamed it Geldeheim. The last coastal Jarin keep (now called Vold) fell in 676. The Jarin still held four inland domains (Gwaeryn, Leriel, Quimen, and Pethwys), but only because the sea-loving Ivinians lacked interest in them.
The Kingdom of Orbaal
The various keeps held by the Ivinians were in no way a unified state. They had been conquered over 25 years by many different clans and each was a jealously independent domain. The most powerful was Geldeheim, held by clan Taareskeld and ruled by Hagined. His first act had been to turn the former Jarin keep into an impressive castle. Between 680 and 685, Hagined expanded his power by conquering nearby Ivinian clans. In 686, Hagined proclaimed the Kingdom of Orbaal, claiming kingship over all Ivinian domains situated in the Hârnic Isles. He was able to force most of the clans to submit to his will and pay him tribute.
Hagined died in 692 and was succeeded by Alegar, his eldest son. The first years of Alegar’s reign were marked by disputes and skirmishes between the Ivinian clans and the Jarin they had conquered. Although a few Jarin lords still held land, most of this proud race had been bound as thralls to land that had once been their own. Tension between the Jarin and the Ivinians was further inflamed by the Ivinian tendency to perceive their subjects as an inferior race. The resentment came to a head in 701.
The Jarin Rebellion
The immediate cause of the Jarin rebellion was the moving to Orbaal of the Order of the Crimson Dancer from western Hârn. It is likely that Alegar was seduced by the grandmistress of that order; he not only gave refuge to these fanatical and militant women in Orbaal but also conspired with them to seize Quimen Keep, which was at that time held by a Jarin lord. It is also likely that Alegar was anxious to have a solid ally in his troubled kingdom. The Crimson Dancer attacked and captured Quimen in the spring of 701, using such savagery that the already smoldering Jarin resentment burst into flame.
Since the Jarin outnumbered their overlords by almost ten to one, it is likely they would have driven the Ivinians back into the sea had they been better led. Lorkin Castle was captured in 701 and dozens of sporadic revolts erupted all over Orbaal. Fortunately for the Ivinians, these revolts were not coordinated and the isolated pockets of Jarin rebels were subdued one by one.
The Rape of Thay
The bloody Jarin Rebellion ended in 703 and had served to bring the squabbling Ivinian clans closer together as they fought a common enemy. Alegar hoped to preserve this temporary unity by means of a bold new adventure, a major raid down the east coast to capture the Melderyni city of Thay. The Ivinians needed little encouragement to sample the wealth of Thay and Alegar’s plan was quickly adopted. The island of Keron was occupied and settled by the Orbaalese as a base in 704. The next year, a fleet of some 40 ships descended on the unsuspecting Thayans. The Ivinians landed and invested the walled town but could not breach its defenses. For three days, the northerners rampaged, venting their frustration on the manors and villages nearby. Finally, the Orbaalese retired, carrying off many women and much booty, pledging to return.
The Cape Renda Disaster
In the late summer of 707, a second assault fleetof about 100 dragonships and warboats from Orbaal and several other Ivinian kingdoms descended on the city of Thay. There is no doubt that the lightly defended city would have succumbed to an invasion fleet of this size. The 5,000 warriors aboard exceeded the entire population of Thay. But while rounding Cape Renda, 15 leagues northeast of the city, a freak storm arose and sank many vessels, cast others onto the Renda Rocks, and scattered the remainder. The surviving ships retired to Keron to regroup, only to find that their island base had also been destroyed. This was more than the “masters of wind and wave” could stand. They limped home. The island of Hârn was subjected to several such storms that year, causing extensive flooding, but many Thayans believe the Cape Renda disaster was an arcane intervention by Melderyn.
Two kingdoms and a republic maintain an uneasy peace in western Hârn. Over the past 50 years, they have fought several wars and there is no reason to suppose that relations will improve.
In the 23 years since Ezar’s War, the border between Kanday and Rethem has been the scene of continual skirmishing between the Order of the Checkered Shield and the Order of the Copper Hook, the latter of whom have yet to acknowledge the Peace of Selvos. The wounds of the war have yet to heal. Rethem’s king, Chafin III, is vigorously trying to unite his chronically rebellious kingdom. If he lives long enough, it is likely that he will again attack hated Kanday.
Neither kingdom has reason to trust the Thardic Republic, with its radically alien political structure and its avaricious, expedient-following senators. The republic’s worst enemies dwell within its own borders, where the great families vie constantly for status and wealth and factions form and reform daily. The republic’s decadence and internal disunity alone will likely eliminate it as a threat to its neighbors until some strong general can climb to the throne over a heap of bodies. Peran is a harsh wilderness, a land of wild tribes who have not forgotten that their fathers once conquered large tracts of the rich, soft south.
King Miginath of Kaldor succeeded his father Torastra at the age of 41. He has always been sickly
and physicians have been predicting his imminent death from any one of numerous ailments ever since he took the throne. After 27 years, the aged monarch continues to baffle his subjects simply by living. Miginath has never married, which leaves the succession a point of contention between two or three bastard sons and many nieces and nephews.
The hand of the seemingly eternal, ineluctable kingdom of Melderyn rests lightly on its mainland fiefs around Thay. King Chunel could, at any time he wished, send an army to claim the tiny kingdom of Chybisa. Of course, the tiny kingdom is also claimed by Kaldor so this action might precipitate a war between Melderyn and Kaldor. Chybisa’s monarch, Verlid VII, is obsessed with the notion that either Melderyn or Kaldor will take up arms against him.
King Aranath maintains his Sindarin court in the splendid isolation of the Shava Forest; King Hazmadul III reigns over the Khuzdul of Azadmere.
Since the Cape Renda disaster, the Orbaalese have settled into normal fighting among themselves. The occasional minor raid is still made on isolated coastal settlements of Hârn but most of their efforts are spent in internal dispute and in subduing the ever-bitter, restless Jarin. When Alegar died in 714, he was succeeded by his son, Alegar II. Not least among his worries is an ambiguous threat from several Ivinian kingdoms, three of which consider Orbaal as their colony. The Kingdom of Orbaal is less a kingdom than a confederation of petty domains.
Between these islands of “civilization,” travelers may encounter almost a score of barbaric human tribal nations, all of whom treat interlopers with suspicion, while some negotiate with arrows. Those who persist in entering the wild mountainous regions are likely to meet with parties of violent gargun, and there are always rumors of fell, enchanted beasts. Hârn remains a land of subtle intrigue and sudden bloody violence.