Feb 9, 2012

Ancient Kingdoms of the Dawnlands

Despite the conviction of most contemporary inhabitants of the Dawnlands that the same states and people have endured over the centuries, their fingers locked around one another's throats during all that time, the  historical facts do not bear this out. The kingdom of High Kaddish's extent and aggressiveness varied over its history, the Cities of Night waxed and then waned, the Forest People united into their most recent political union only thirty years ago, and even Dwer Tor's colonies were founded in the living memory of the oldest dwarves. And beyond these, many other kings and khans have risen and fallen in turn, their memories preserved only by sages. These are some of the more interesting.

Weykuln

Five hundred years ago, the kingdom of Weykuln was once home to mountain men, orcs and hobgoblins, and stretched over the area between Moon Peak, what is now the Maruk Bastion, and south to Jakan at its greatest extent. It was run by feudal chiefs and a class of professional warriors who lorded over a population mostly composed of slaves and peasants organised into fortresses and small towns. It alternated between being a tributary of the Cities of Night and High Kaddish, and each time it switched, the ruling houses would descend into a bloody war. The winner who emerged would be even more dependent on their patrons. It was eventually destroyed during the Wars of Dusk and Dawn when waves of hobgoblin warbands came south through the northern mountains, overwhelming armies depleted by the most recent succession struggle. To this day, the land is split between the hobgoblin pretenders to the long vacant throne.

Hazilua

The Hazilua were a tribe of elvish schismatic nomads who broke away from the Cities of Night around the time that civilisation was entering its bloodiest and most violent phase seven hundred years ago. Known as the "Years of Knives and Teeth", a population explosion led to a collapse of the food supply, and roving bands of cannibalistic marauders swept the plains for victims to drag back to Dlak. The Hazilua appear to have rejected the worship of Eternal Night, and fled to the north-eastern plains and coast near Kaddish. Their kingdom flourished for a century before being conquered by Bullat Numir. After the disintegration of his empire, the Hazilua's descendants were one of the populations who founded the "traitor clans",  the Children of Night who allied with Kaddish against the Cities of Night.

The Lost City of Varmayanka

Varmayanka the Mad was briefly king of Dwer Tor four hundred years ago. He is known as the Mad for his belief that Dwer Tor's site was cursed by the malign influence of a star. At incredible expense, he had a city built in the Stormbreaker mountains by hundreds of thousands of slaves and helots, many of whom perished. Once complete, he ordered the entire population of Dwer Tor to move there, and to never return to Dwer Tor. At first the city complied, but thousands starved to death during the first winter, as crops could not be brought in efficiently from the colonies, and the soil was unable to sustain intensive agriculture. This caused a civil war, which led to Varmayanka's death, and when he died, the population emigrated en masse to the old city. His city remains, guarded by ghosts and the unburied dead slain in the war. Varmayanka is also remembered as the king who cemented Dwer control of Moon Peak, tearing it away from Weykuln in a short-lived war to raise the capital he needed.

The Cattle Men

The existence of the cattle men is preserved only in a handful of obscure myths. Prior to the settlement of the Plains of Kadiz (then heavily forested) by the Children of Night, they were inhabited for several centuries by tribes of peaceful gnolls who lived in small towns built of stone. They are known as "the cattle men" because the Children of Night slew and ate them prior to the foundation of the Cities of Night. The few who were enslaved are believed to be the origin of the gnollish population amongst the Children of Night. Most of their buildings are long gone, either destroyed by time or war, but the occasional ruin has managed to survive.

Kadhrek

In its day, Kadhrek was the second city of High Kaddish, a port on the coast visited by Salt Men, Forest People, and even the occasional ship from the empire of Kartak-Who-Blinds. Though never as large as Kaddish, it was still one of the larger cities of the Dawnlands, about the size of Dwer Tor's metropolitan populace. It was destroyed during the Wars of Dusk and Dawn (a century long series of conflicts 300-400 years previous) by the war-wizards of Dlak, who merged the entire populace together into a single protoplasmic blob of living flesh and then fed it to their regiments of cannibal soldiers. Once they had devoured it, the city was burnt to the ground, and the smoldering stones thrown into the sea. The ruins of Kadhrek can still be found easily, though locals avoid the place as cursed.

The Horde of Bullat Numir

Bullat Numir All-Khan was born a humble human field slave in the hinterlands of Balwan six hundred years ago, but by his death, he was the supreme lord of the Dawnlands; of man, elf, halfling and dwarf alike. In Kaddish he wore a robe and kufi, in Dwer Tor a toga, paint and feathers amongst the forest tribes, and the bearskins of a king in the Cities of Night. The Peace of Bullat Numir meant that a child could walk from Tlana to Kadhrek unescorted without fear, albeit the child would have to follow the rows of crucified rebels Bullat Numir lined the way with. Bullat Numir's only failing as a ruler was that he could not bear sons, and upon his death, his generals and lesser khans (all married to his daughters) tore the plains apart in a mad slaughter for rulership. None succeeded, and within a generation it was if Bullat Numir had never existed. His tomb has never been found.