Fledgling Empires - History
Until two centuries ago the continent of Tara on the world of Vilag was if not peaceful then secure, the elven kingdoms ruling most of the land frequently quarreled amongst themselves but easily held off the occasional attacks from the Orc forces in the west and human Barbarians in the east. In the south the human empire of Thray spent most of its efforts subduing its own population rather than attacking others while in the North the Dwarf thanes dug deeper into Frost Fang Mountains. However, over a period of less than 50 years all three major civilisations fell resulting in wave after wave of refugees fleeing into the surrounding area changing the face of the continent of ever.
The fall of the elven kingdoms was the quickest and most devastating of the catastrophes which befell Tara. The kingdoms covered by far the largest area of the continent and their rule had lasted more for several thousand years, border skirmishes were common but large scale wars were rare but to a complicated web of alliances between the various kingdoms. Blessed with near immortality the elves spent their time achieving near perfection at the skills of their trade’s leaving to development of the most powerful magic as well as the greatest works of both art and architecture. The kingdoms were protected by soldiers who had spent several centuries honing their skills and lead by kings with thousands of years of experience. Almost invulnerable to outside attack the kingdoms were brought low from within by disease.
The disease was called the burning, it was characterised by fever and delirium, the symptoms slowly got worse over a period of a week or so until almost all affected by it died. Upon death the infected would burst into flame, immolating themselves and the area around them. Some said the conflagration was a curse from the gods or the devils, others that it was in some way created by the Elves enemies or that it was created in an accident. Whatever its cause the disease’s effect was enormous and it only effected elves. The disease showed no symptoms for several decades after infection but was still infectious so almost the entire elven population was infected before the danger was revealed. Magic healing was also useless as any magical energy directed at the infected would speed the course of the disease.
In less than a decade from the first cases of the conflagration less than one tenth of one percent of the Elven population was still alive and their cities were ablaze consigning the elven kingdoms to the history books.
The battle of a hundred princes
The empire of Thray was through to be the original home of humanity. It was rumoured that the first emperor Brute had made deals and even mated with devils in order for the power to form the empire. Certainly he and his decedents were cruel enough to be less than human. They formed an empire where all had their place and no deviation from that duty could be allowed, if you were born a farmer you would remain as such for the rest of their life and any attempt to change that role would end in your death.
The empire remained solid for over a thousand years, however, the emperor’s bloodline thinned over time until, as the conflagration destroyed the elven kingdoms to the north, the last emperor lay dying without heir. All the lords of the land raised their forces and marched to the capital city of Bruteholm to await being declared the new emperor, as the wait progressed from days to weeks to months fights broke out between the different lords and the plains surrounding the city turned to a river of blood. It was only at the end when the armies were reduced to a scant few squads that the emperor’s elite guards, the hellborn, strode into the battlefield and collected the remaining lords.
All were brought before the shrivelled remains of the emperor in his bed chambers, only the slightest spark of life remaining. The emperor declared that until one individual alone could rule the whole empire then the land would remain broken. He drew the crown from his wrinkled brow and as he died it fell to the ground and shattered into a hundred fragments. As the same time great earthquakes and storms wracked the lands driving many from their homes. In terror the lords each grabbed a fragment of the crown and fled.
When they returned to their lands, they found them changed, the geography different, areas which used to be on the coast were now deserts or forests. Even more strangely as a lord was slain and his position taken by another the land would change again, in the fallen empire of Thray, now the called the old kingdoms, the king and the land truly are one.
The great betrayal
The dwarvern thanes was a single unified empire made up of dozens of city states found throughout the frost fang mountains. Not an expansionistic people the dwarves were happy to dig their cities deeper into the mountains and trade with the Elves to the south. There was nothing the dwarves could do to stop the conflagration that ravaged the Elves apart from accept in refugees who were already infected and died just the same.
The thanes were held together by a single high king who ruled from the great city of Kaza-na-barak (Unbroken Mountain). The last king of the dwarfs was high king Veit Stone-song. With the fall of the Elven Kingdoms the Orc tribes of the west pushed further in land and overwhelmed several of the smaller dwarvern settlements looting them of wealth and weapons. In response the high king formed from the cream of the militaries of the various thanes a single mighty army lead by his greatest general Oskar Kirensky. The army was charged with retaking the fallen cities and pushing back the orc hordes and marched off to the west.
However, as they left one of the kings most trusted advisors Brottor Goldeneye, now only known, as ‘the betrayer’ desired the power and wealth that his ruler possessed and in secret plotted against him. So it came to pass that while the dwarven army Brottor’s clan took over the city of Kaza-na-barak and slew all those loyal to the king. Brotor also killed every member of the royal family to the last child and proclaimed himself to be the new high king.
When he heard of Brottor's treachery, Oskar marched his army back to the capital picking more forces up from the dwarven strongholds he passed on his way. By the time he reached the gates of Kaza-na-barak he lead the greatest dwarven army ever seen, however, Kaza-na-barak was the strongest fortress the world has ever seen, reputed to have been built by the dwarven gods themselves. The siege to take the city was enormous and it was over 20 years before the city finally fell and less than 1 in 5 of Oskar's forces remained. When finally the city fell and Brottor and all his clan were executed the dwarven lords were forced to elect among themselves a new high king. The first person that came to mind was Oskar himself but he announced that he was not worthy of the honour. At this announcement the lords began arguing, with each lord believing that they were most qualified to rule the kingdom. The arguing quickly turned to fighting and a second civil war quickly broke out.
In disgust Oskar and his army left the dwarven kingdoms and marched into the unknown north vowing to return when the dwarves needed him most. Sensing the weakness of the dwarves the orcs redoubled their attacks forcing the dwarves further and further east until they held less than a third of the land they did during the empires height. During this time many dwarves fled south into what used to be the elven lands where they formed new colonies to reinforce their old holds.
With the fall of the great empires and the death of most of the elves most of the lands have been left empty for almost 150 years now. Humans have been quick to take advantage of the vacuum and waves of refugees from the disaster that befell the empire of Thray moved to the north claiming the ruins of the previously elven cities forming the new kingdoms. These lands have in turn started to war against each other and have started to form new colonies of their own. To the north the dwarves have done the same although much slower. However, over time these colonies are growing rebellious wondering why they should toil so hard to help cities they have never set foot in. In the east and the west barbaric tribes of humans and orcs began to raid deeper and deeper into the previously elven lands. Mean while the Dragonborn, refugees from a far off empire of their own have begun to move out of their enclaves. Gnomes, once kept as servants, and some would say pets of the elves have found themselves in possession of many elven cities now their masters are gone and the Halflings, as always, continue to wander the known world.
Much of the lands still remain unclaimed, here a powerful individual can easily become a king.