All the universe was silent and cold except the flame which crackled and burned without time. This flame surged into a fire and from it came sparks that are the stars in our heavens.
From The Codex of Breminor
It is generally accepted by scholars today that the four Humans tribes did not originate in the Nine Kingdoms. That is where the agreement ends. Some hold with the Holy Church's doctrine that Humans are descended from the Gods, who came to Breminor from elsewhere in the multiverse.
A significant group of scholars aligned with the Cathedral School of Nythoria and Kandalini University in Dunihk believe that the four tribes came from elsewhere in the world, perhaps from beyond the Aronin Mountains in what Mortals believe is the Land of the Dead, or some unknown and uncharted continent elsewhere in the world.
Humans did not find Breminor uninhabited by any means. Though sparsely populated, Breminor supported a variety of other Mortals, tribes of Elves and Dwarves being the most prominent. These other races did not welcome the Humans arrival. Even today, most would like to see the Humans go back to where they came from.
The arrival of the Humans in Breminor coincides with the creation of the Binding, an energy field around the world. The hand of the Gods was heavy here, especially He Who Goes Unnamed, who made the Nine Pillars of the Binding and sank them deep within the earth.
The Binding has shaped Mortal history. When it was created, it trapped the Lord of the Archdaemons, Amulon, within. The Gods countered the threat posed by Amulon with their own champion, Gamal, also known as the Bringer of Hope. This locked Mortalkind in a cyclical battle of growth and destruction, which would culminate in the end of the Fourth Cycle.
The First Cycle was defined by a high, classical culture focused on the arts and literature as a means of worshiping the Gods. Little physically remains from that period, though the some of the literature is extant both in manuscript and in derivative forms.
Minions of Amulon discovered the location of one of the Nine Pillars later in the First Cycle, and they destroyed it. This resulted in a weaking of the Binding, enough so that Amulon and the four Archdaemons were able to take physical form for the first time. The First Cycle also saw the single greatest migration of Humans during any of the four cycles; scholars believe that all four tribes started in Nyslavaad, and spread out rapidly from there. Though the cause is unknown, most believe it was the rise of Amulon and its minions in Nyslavaad. Bringer defeated and imprisoned Amulon and, as the First Cycle came to an end, the Holy Church was formed.
The Second Cycle was defined by the building that occurred; a monument to the genius of this period is the city of Nythoria. The creation of physical objects also reached their zenith at this time; from sculpture to swords, no other time has rivaled the artistry and magic of the Second Cycle. Again, Amulon rose and did battle with the Bringer; this time, Pestilence's mission became clear…destroy the Binding. Once again, the Bringer defeated and imprisoned Amulon. The end of the Second Cycle resulted in the unification of all Nine Kingdoms under a single Emperor based in Nythoria; the Emperor was also the head of the Holy Church.
The Third Cycle was defined by intellectual pursuits. Four of Breminor's most elite institutions of learning were borne, as well as some of the most renowned philosophers Mortalkind had produced. The end of the Third Cycle was a fractious one; through battles, corruption, and neglect, it saw the end of the Emperor's authority and a series of heresies that fractured the Holy Church's authority. As the Fourth Cycle began, the Nine Kingdoms only nominally recognized the Emperor's authority; and, many sects claiming to be the true Church had sprung up around Breminor.
The Fourth Cycle
Fear has reigned during the Fourth Cycle. Many would-be prophets have declared and continue to declare that the end is near. For Mortals, this has been foretold - when Amulon rises again, the Binding and the world as they know it will end. This will be followed by a reckoning; the pious will be exalted and the impious destroyed.
in 444 4C
Ishyr Suggos Babilli
Eslebi Ulam Wij
Kakehun (Nomads) Falas Tonobu
Laladen Heras Tol
Nythoria Erleth XVIII
Toroth Gazu Kalmeki
Valithra Thorar Ithrain
Alize Lonan Dular
Borada Obasi Vanuvi
Dwarf Clan T'rg Silver-eye
Dafoth Ronis Hof
Immerdarke Elves Isladule
Nanegai Elves. Elesagil
Ulgoth Yl Tyr
Note: The rulers highlighted in blue can trace their bloodlines directly back to the first Bringer of Hope, a symbol of their legitimacy even now.
Lion of the North
The Kingdom of Valithra has stood as symbol of stability since it was established in the Second Cycle. Though it has had a few border skirmishes with its neighbors, Valithra has maintained a long tradition of keeping strong. This has provided a based of stability for the region as well. The Ithrains, who have ruled Valithra for centuries, have understood that small fights lead to bigger battles, and have acted to put down strife both within and nearby Valithra.
Valithra has maintained a strong alliance with Eslebi, the kingdom to the south. Eslebi's focus on trade has kept its interests in Valithra strictly financial. As a result of their peaceful relations, the southernmost city in Valithra, Dython, has become one of the most prosperous in Breminor.
Though it boasts significant defenses of its own, Valithra's mountainous western border, called the Western March, has kept the kingdom safe.
Relations to the east have not been as good. During the Third Cycle, the Emperor had the royal family of Ishyr killed and he placed a puppet on the throne, his brother-in-law, a prince of Dunihk. Since this brought instability to the region, the Ithrains actively opposed it and continue to. During the Fourth Cycle, Valithra has been the power holding the emperor in check and preventing him from grabbing additional territory. In addition, the Valithrans seek the restoration of the crown in Ishyr through whatever means necessary.
In 186 4C, the armies of Valithra crossed the Maganoth Range to claim the high plains region of Allanelle. It is believed that this was done to acquire leverage in peace negotiations with the emperor. If this was the plan, it backfired.
The Valithrans occupied Allanelle for two years before the armies of Nythoria and Ishyr arrived. The ensuing Battle of Allanelle, also called the Nine Years War, brought about a significant change in the power base of the region. Peace negotiations began with the death of the Emperor Tinurial II. The Treaty of Allanelle was signed in 196 4C by all three parties. Although Valithra eventually returned a plundered Allanelle back to Ishyr, the armies of both Ishyr and Nythoria were decimated, and Valithra dictated much of the terms of the peace.
There were two principles victories that Valithra achieved: Nythoria could no longer maintain an army, but only a small force to police herself; and, Ishyr would place no warriors in Allanelle or in the mountains bordering Valithra.
Now centuries later, the peace continues to be a fragile one. Rulers of Nythoria and Ishyr remember the Battle of Allanelle with great bitterness. But they still are weary and do not want to provoke the lion of the north.
The Sea of Tala is traditionally depicted as having a three-headed sea serpent in its waters. Though there are great beasts inhabiting these waters, this hydra is a symbolic representation of the three kingdoms whose economies depend on the Sea of Tala, namely Eslebi, Toroth and Laladen. Of these, the isle kingdom of Laladen wields the greatest might; in the Second Cycle, they were granted a naval monopoly by the emperor. Though centuries have passed and other kingdoms have built fleets of their own, Laladen still exerts the greatest control and has a fleet unrivaled by any other.
In the early decades of the Fourth Cycle, Laladen began a process of colonizing certain areas that could produce important products that they were relying on others to provide. So, they established principalities, as they came to be known, in Alize, Borada, Dafoth, and Ulgoth. By 100 4C, the principalities were prosperous.
Borada began to supply Laladen's nearly insatiable hunger for hardwoods that Laladen used in shipbuilding that, until then, Toroth had provided. Toroth advised her often-adversary, that she would support a move against the breakaway Borada.
In 212 4C, one of Toroth's operative in Dafoth, Jazeeli Ironheart, assassinated Prince Illi. He assumed the throne for himself and declared his intent to break away from Laladen. Soon thereafter, Toroth's warriors began appearing on Dafoth soil in support of Ironheart.
Though history is unclear as to the level of subterfuge, nearly simultaneous assaults occurred on Borada and Alize. The Dunihk king moved against Borada, laying waste to the principality and laying siege to her few fortresses. The emperor in Nythoria moved against Alize, though his forces were easily beaten back.
The Laladen king, Vovair the Bold, was left with little choice. His colonies, whose legitimacy on foreign soil was ever in question, were being attacked. Instead of dividing his resources, however, he focused them; this proved to be decisive. With the swiftest ships, he sent his army to Borada; with overwhelming numbers, they easily beat back the Dunihk army. In addition, knowing that the resources were coming from Toroth, he sent his fleet to blockade the capital, Torrinar.
Directly or indirectly, every kingdom and principality around the Sea of Tala would be drawn into the conflict that would be called the War of the Sea Hydra, or just simply the Hydra War. In the end, Eslebi would be the only real victor, supplying both sides and profiting handsomely.
The Hydra War would end after decades of fighting, but not because the parties were able to come to peace. Instead, in 303 4C, the Kaddori Horde and other minions of Amulon attacked and conquered Dafoth. In the ensuing decades, they would conquer nearly all of Dunihk, occupying most of it and laying waste to the rest.
With the fall of Dafoth, a treaty was signed between Laladen and Toroth. Borada was recognized as Laladen property and Dafoth as part of Toroth, currently in enemy hands. In addition, the king of Dunihk, whose kingdom is largely in the hands of Amulon's minions, ceded Borada to Laladen for five hundred years in exchange for weapons and men at arms to be used against the forces of Pestilence. These forces were
In 42 4C, on the island kingdom of Sherna, the largest known volcano in the world, called Mathulen, exploded with a force that could be felt on the other side of Breminor. The eruption was followed by a series of tremendous earthquakes and tidal waves that devastated Sherna over a ten-year period. No city or village was spared.
When all was done, the remaining population of Sherna had been scattered and reduced to an unsustainable number. It took a generation for the land to come back to life.
Over the years, pirates had used Sherna's hidden lagoons and uninhabited shores as places to replenish supplies, get some rest and hide some treasure. With the former population gone and no authority to evade, pirates began openly collecting in large numbers. Towns grew up at these collection points. They were lawless, dirty places where the mob ruled. And so it remained for generations.
Since the rise of free pirates in Sherna, Laladen has been their prime target. Controlling shipping and with the greatest navy in the world, the pirates have found them to be challenging yet profitable targets. Laladen has made several attempts to defeat the pirates at the source by dislodging them from Sherna. In 357 4C, King Zegas Tol launched an attack on the pirates. With five thousand warriors aboard, a fleet of nearly one hundred ships took sail from Laladen for Sherna. Unfortunately for the king, the pirates also had spies in his court and they knew the attack was coming. Foreknowledge of the attack had a two-fold impact on the pirates: first, they were able to ambush the fleet near Ulgoth; and second, they began to have a collective identity for the first time. The latter impact was to prove the most devastating for Laladen in the long term.
The pirates were able to muster over three hundred ships in the Carsir Straight near the island of Meephr. As the Laladen fleet came into the straight, they were surrounded by the motley flotilla. Forty of the Laladen ships went to the bottom of the sea and the other sixty fled for home.
With the Laladen threat gone at least temporarily, the pirates decided to protect themselves and the wealth they were accumulating from any future threats. In 372 4C, the nine greatest pirates came together to form a Confederation dedicated to their common defense. A claim was recognized by each of the members over one of the coastal cities or towns in Sherna. Though the mob still rules much of life in Sherna, some places are becoming more civilized.
Not much more than Laladen's pride was wounded in the battle. With vast resources at its disposal, the kingdom, now under the tutelage of King Heras Tol, has embarked on a campaign of containing the pirates with the hopes of breaking their Confederation. He has launched small, repeated raids against a single town, Zedachor, home of Raging Black Iano, a half-orc pirate with whom the King has a personal grudge (Iano sank the king's yacht). But perhaps the greatest impact the Laladens have had against the pirates is guarding both the Lions Jaws and the Gadameir Straight, two passes that lead from the Inworld Sea into Sea of Tala. By minimizing the pirates through the passes, Laladen has effectively neutralized their impact on the heart of Laladen's trade.
Hand of Pestilence
The hand of Pestilence has always weighed heavily on the kingdom of Nyslavadd. Commonly held belief is that the prison in which the Bringer has sealed Amulon at the end of each cycle lies beneath the southern Aronin Mountains at the northern edge of the kingdom. No matter the cause, Nyslavadd has always been the first to bear the brunt of Pestilence's rise.
The Kaddori Raiders also call Nyslavadd their home. At the southern tip of the Broken Spine Mountains lies a vast stretch of waste where nothing lives but snakes and other poisonous creatures. The land is called the Falagolle, the Land of Empty Souls in the ancient tongue. At the center of the Falagolle is Mount Vagogg, a soaring peak of burnt, black rock upon which nothing grows. Atop Vagogg stands the Fortress of Eternal Night, which was built upon the remains of the first of the Nine Pillars destroyed by Amulon's minions during the First Cycle. The Fortress is home of the Kaddori. It is said that this is also place where Amulon first bent and twisted the fifth tribe of Humans to produce the Kaddori.
From Vagogg, the Kaddori have expanded Amulon's influence over the southern kingdoms through the centuries. Nyslavadd has suffered the most. Since the Second Cycle, the hand of Pestilence has tainted the nobility of the kingdom from king to petty lord.
During the Fourth Cycle, a long line of kings bearing the name Foetral have ruled Nyslavadd. Some scholars have speculated that they have all been the same person, or more accurate, the same Archdaemon, Govali, Lord of Destruction. Foetral has made relentless war upon Nyslavadd's neighbors, including the inhabitants of Kakehun in the north, and Dunihk and the Dwarves of the Broken Spine Mountains to the south. Curiously, they have not bothered with Toroth; perhaps this is due to the Broken Spine Mountains.
War between Nyslavadd and the inhabitants of Kakehun began in 71 4C when an army of Nyslavadd arrived at the edge of the Immerdarke Forest and demanded safe passage through, suposedly on their way to Eslebi. Isladure, King of the Elves of Immerdarke had a long history with Amulon and its minions; he smelled deceit and he refused. Fortunately for him and the Elves, he had received word of the army's march long before they reached Immerdarke.
No one knows for certain whether the army would have gone to Eslebi or the real target was Immerdarke. It does not matter. What is important is that the Elves had sent requests for aid to the kings of Valithra, Eslebi, and Toroth. Yet the so-called king of Kakehun, the leader of the horsemen-nomads who call themselves the White Mane of Tholl, heard about the Elves' plight and took action. It is not known whether he did this out of friendship or hoping to keep the Nyslavadd army from his own lands.
Regardless, in the late summer of 71 4C, the Nyslavadd army launched themselves at the Elves. After several significant defeats, the Elves retreated into the Forest.
The battle resumed again after the first thaw the following spring. Since the Elves would not come out onto the field to do battle, the army prepared to go after them. Year after year, they made forays into the Forest; eventually they established a fortification from which to make their attacks. Over the years, a stalemate was reached; they killed many and lost many. But the Nyslavadd army could not defeat the Elves; they could only continue their war of attrition.
In 132 4C, a new general arrived from Nyslavadd; his name has been lost to history, but his decisions were to turn the tide of the battle. Instead of fighting the Elves in the Forest, where they were likely to incur heavy casualties, he decided to begin cutting trees. The Elves knew, as did the general, that they could not stand idly by and watch their world destroyed.
On Inkitar's Feast day in early summer of 133 4C, the Elves of Immerdarke marched forth. Men, women, and children old enough to carry a bow walked out of the Forest to challenge their enemy, all the while knowing they would likely die doing so.
The battle was fierce, for none fights as Elves who know they are going to their deaths. The fight went well into the evening when, as the Crimson Moon began to rise, a horn blasted from the west. The Elves thought that Inkitar himself had come to join the battle, for they had prayed for his aid. But it was not Inkitar that came to their rescue; it was the White Mane of Tholl. The nomads descended on the flank of the Nyslavadd army with a ferocity the tired army had not seen in years. The army tried to withdraw, but the White Mane hounded them and slaughtered any they could find.
An alliance was struck after the battle between the Elves and the White Mane. It was an alliance forged in blood and none in Breminor rivals it. As a consequence, the Elves of Immerdarke have contempt for all humans, save the White Mane. Humans nearly drove them to extinction; humans ignored their pleas for help. To them, these yielded the same effect. If it were not for the White Mane, the Elves would kill all humans on site.
It is not known why the Kaddori suddenly broke forth from Falagolle to attack the inhabitants of the western Dunihk in 182 4C. One thing is clear, however. By 212 4C, when the Hydra War began, Dunihk was in no condition to defend its territory from human invaders.
At first, the Kaddori were satisfied with regular pillaging of Dunihk villages. They took what they wanted and left. Usually, they did not return to the same place twice.
However, in the early decades of the third century, the attacks became more organized and systematic. Instead of a score of Kaddori inflicting harm on a village, hundreds of the Raiders descended on towns. As their successes increased, their numbers did, too. By the middle of the third century, they began raising towns to the ground and attacking cities.
Organized resistance came under the King's orders with a general call to arms in 237 4C. The Dunihk army met the Kaddori on the Plain of Ashes where once, long ago, the Bringer of Hope had defeated Amulon. As before, the day went to Mortalkind, and the Kaddori Raiders were defeated. The damage inflicted on Dunihk, however, would be too much for it to recover from before the Kaddori returned.
With the Kaddori threat temporarily gone, Dunihk took to healing and trying to defend its territory in the Hydra War.
The Kaddori had not been defeated, however. Instead, they followed the path of least resistance. With a formitable foe blocking their path in Dunihk, they turned their attentions northward towards the Dwarves of the Broken Spine Mountains.
In 240 4C, they attacked with an army of five thousand, spilling past the outer sentries and into the very heart of the mountain kingdom. They left death and destruction in their wake. Yet the Dwarves are hearty folk and their underground world is not a place to attack them. Splitting into many small units, the Dwarves drew out a protracted guerrilla-style war with the Kaddori. For nearly a decade, the Dwarves lost few and the Kaddori suffered staggering loses in defeat after defeat.
By the late decades of the third century, Kaddori reinforcements began to dwindle and the garrison's numbers began to shrink. Finally, in 291 4C, Gokag Hammerfist, father of the current king, T'rg Silver-eye, mustered his warriors for an all out assault of the Kaddori. The battle lasted a year and a day with huge casualties on both sides. The Dwarves finally expelled the remaining Kaddori in 293 4C and began the process of rebuilding their home.
Though this seemed like an end to the Kaddori, at least for a while, it was not. In the later decades of the third century, they had begun cutting back on reinforcements to the garrison in the Broken Spine Mountains. This was done as an effort to begin building a new Kaddori army under the command of the Archdaemon Dujino. With Forgani (the Soulless) serving as his captains over an army of ten thousand, they marched into Dafoth in 303 4C and captured the battle-worn province in a single stroke.
With their first territorial capture, Amulon's minions dug in and fortified their position. Again they began their war against Dunihk, only this time they met greater success. Again, the Dunihk king made a call to arms and planned to meet the enemy again on the Plain of Ashes. This time, however, the Gods were not with Dunihk or its king. Though his call to arms was answered by Dunihk's nobility, they had not recovered since the previous battle; and the enemy was battle-hardened.
The Dunihk king's defeat was definitive. In 339 4C at the Battle of the Wintry Waste, the king was killed along with all of the nobles who had primary or secondary claim to the throne. Dozens of others, who had distant claim, were assassinated by Amulon's agents in subsequent years so that, even if someone had a claim to the throne, s/he was reluctant to bring attention to themselves for fear of their lives.
Over the next sixty years, the Kaddori led by the Archdaemon have consolidated their hold on Dunihk. Though pockets of resistance exist, Amulon's minions control the major cities, towns and traderoutes.
In 413 4C, with Dunihk firmly in its grasp, the hand of Pestilence turned to the north and attacked Toroth.
The End is Near
For many Mortals, the end is near. They know they live in the Fourth Cycle and they watch for signs that pressage its conclusion when the final battle between Amulon and the Bringer of Hope will be fought.
They know Amulon's minons command much of the south. They know that humans fight with each other at every end of Breminor. They know that the Holy Church is losing its control over religious practice around the world and that many cults and heresies have sprung up, many warning of impending doom.
Mortals have been warning of the end since the first century of the Fourth Cycle. As the middle of the fifth century approaches, no one doubts the end may occur in his lifetime.
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Version Date: 06 December 2001 Primary Author: Stephen Castillet