The Age of Empires

The period between the founding of Antiras and the formation of Vingaard is now known as the Age of Empires. It was a time when the rise of mankind and civilisation was clearest, a time when great civilisations rose and fell. The tumult and chaos of the Age of Spears was a distant memory by the end of the Age of Empires, old histories poorly preserved by oral tradition. It was only in the Age of Empires that truly reliable histories came to be recorded throughout much of Leng, particularly on the western shores.

The Age of Empires saw the rise, zenith, and descent of the Arelonian Empire into what it is today - a formidable naval force, but no longer an insurmountable one. It saw the city-states of Lorknir rise and vie for power until the end of the age, when the Lorknir Pact was signed. It saw Kharolis and Nevermoor united under a single good king - and it also saw the king die, and the two nations split by civil war. It was a time of great conflict and ambition.

The Kingdom in the West

1000 BE

Much of the early history of Leng is focused on central and eastern Leng - the areas around Lorknir and Vingaard. Even as these regions were dramatically transformed, the lands west of the Plains of Qolor remained pristine and untouched. The Qolori waste itself is responsible for this; when ancient humans fled the Plains of Dust, the shores of the Sea of Flails were a far more attractive prospect than traversing the wasteland in its entirety.

In 1000 BE, however, there were humans dwelling in the northern regions of what is now called Arelon. It is unclear exactly where this people came from; some scholars believe that, during the War of Domination, some groups chose to flee Lorknir via the Dagrenoth mountains and eventually settled on the western coast of Leng. A more contentious group believes that the people of Arelon came from disillusioned Karpathi barbarians who chose to leave the wastes.

Regardless of where they came from, this group of humans lived in a tribal society but were comparable to the people of Lorknir in terms of their technology. On the hills of Arelon, windswept but sunny and fertile, these tribes grew in wealth and power, and eventually squabbled over land and banded together for protection against the wilderness and each other.

The Building of Caragoth

One of the many tribes of northern Arelon were the Methlum, a tribe of exceptional size and strength. This strength came from their ingenuity of engineering both civil and military, and by the organisation of their society. With these advantages, they spread across much of the Arelonian Coast, annexing the smaller tribes and chiefdoms in the towns and villages of Arelon. So it came to pass that the people of the Carath Valley were annexed by the Methlum in 900 BE.

The subjugation of the Carath tribes was a perfect storm that would eventually result in the formation of the Arelonian Empire; for the Methlum brought their knowledge to Carath, and began to build a great city on the commanding hill that dominated the valley: Caragoth was to be its name. Methlum architects and engineers delved great sewers and raised massive towers in the glory of their kingdom, but their work was to be interrupted before it was half done by the Karpathi Wars.

The Karpathi Wars

The Methlum kingdom of Arelon was to be an ill-fated one, not long for Morus. In their rapid and jubilant expansion, they had conquered much of Arelon - but power begets greed, and their king was not satisfied. Looking east into the barren stone of the Plains of Qolor, the king's sorcerors told of great riches of gold and silver hidden in the wastes. Although the dreadful reputation of Qolor and the Karpathi who dwell there was well known, the king decided that the Methlum would brave it for the sake of legendary treasures.

Thrice the Methlum entered the wastes, and thrice the Karpathi plainsmen drove them back with vicious losses. Each time, the Methlum king became more certain that the Karpathi had something to hide - something to protect. He grew obsessed with their hidden hoards of gold, magnified to mountains in his mind, and allowed the further expansion of his kingdom to fall by the wayside. The third and final incursion occurred in 850 BE, and was the final provocation for the barbarians of Qolor - for the king of the Methlum, his name now lost to time, had stolen sacred ivory statues from a Karpathi hold. The Karpathi finally retaliated, and the Karpathi Wars began; an army of barbarians pouring into Arelon to demand the return of what was rightfully theirs from the wetlanders.

The wars could have been ended with much less loss of blood, it is said - the Karpathi only demanded the return of the idols and the blood of their taker. But the king would not sacrifice himself to the mercy of their spears, and a bloody war ensued that would destroy the budding Methlum kingdom. In the aftermath, much of what the Methlum had built was commandeered by their former vassals. The half-finished city of Caragoth was retaken by the rebellious tribes of the Carath Valley; and so Caragoth, the City That Came Before, was left unfinished and masterless.

The Empire in the West

830 BE

Between 830 and 780 BE, the foundations of a great empire were laid on the western coasts of Leng. In these early days, the land known as Arelon was home to many warring city-states. The aftermath of the Karpathi Wars, only a few decades earlier, had reduced the former vassals of the Methlum kingdom to fractious warlords, all vying for a piece of the incredible wealth that the Methlum had accumulated. It was a time when wars were fought on the barest of pretenses and cities were burned and sacked.

The Carath Kingdom

Over the years following the fall of Methlum, the people of Caragoth had taken advantage of the legacy left behind by their former conquerors; from their high-walled city, they commanded a kingdom that conquered the neighbouring tribes. Before land, Caragoth had grown so that new walls were needed, and the Carath opened their doors to the wandering scholars and engineers left landless by the fall of Methlum.

The finishing of Caragoth heralded a period of conquest by the Carath Kingdom; one in which much of Arelon was brought under their sway. With the lands of Arelon conquered, the Carath Kingdom turned its attention to the seas, conquering the shipwright peoples of the island of Dalmar under the auspices of King Numa - one of the first kings in all of Leng whose name is recorded in the annals of history. With the power of Myrkul the fire-god at his back, Numa razed the ships of the Dalmari and wrested control of their ports and shipbuilders for himself.

By 780, the Carath Kingdom controlled much of the northwestern coasts of Arelon; and a mere kingdom it was no more. With Dalmar conquered and under his command, King Numa gave himself a foothold into the Sea of Pearls, laying the groundwork for a navy that would cow western Leng in the years to come. As others looked to him with growing wariness, Numa was crowned Emperor Numa I. The compact between him and the priests of Myrkul was complete; legends spread over the coast of Arelon of the god-emperor who calls fire from the heavens, and the practice of deifying Arelon's emperors also came into being.

The Imperial Conquest

750 BE

After thirty years of the Arelonian Empire's ruthless expansion, the region of Astinus became part of Arelon. Astinus was different from the other regions conquered by the empire in that it was a strong, unified kingdom. It did not balk against the unity of Arelon and was allied with the forces of Agatea, in the south. The Astinians attacked Arelon pre-emptively, while the second emperor, Numa II, was still occupied with building the navy that would become Arelon's crowning glory.

The Arelonian conquest of Astinus was eventually successful, thanks in most part to their domination of the coasts. It was a hard-won victory, however - Numa II had not planned to move on Astinus for years yet. The kingdom of Astinus had been a free and just kingdom, and Arelon inherited a rebellious vassal filled with resentment. This would cause them problems in the future, but in the short term it left Ageatea to the south undefended and ripe for the taking. It fell not long after, consolidating imperial control of the entire western coast by 700 BE.

Although the Arelonian Empire conquered Astinus and Agatea with relative ease, the next 70 years were marked by great difficulties for the burgeoning empire. For this reason, it is known as the "Time of Troubles" to imperial historians. Although Numa II had unified the western coast of Leng in name, it was anything but unified in deed. The people of Astinus remembered well what they had before Arelonian rule, and defiance - both passive and violent - was not uncommon. The Agateans were more pliable, but the natural wealth of the coast made for complex politics amongst merchant princes with aims of their own.

The Great Rebellion

It was the fifth Arelonian emperor, Titus I, who created the conditions that led to what is now called "The Great Rebellion" that began in 680 BE. His life's work was to conquer the Sea of Pearls - a task which was proving itself much more difficult than the first emperors had foreseen. So far westward were his attentions turned, in fact, that he did not react adequately to the seeds of dissent in his own empire. The Great Rebellion did not start in Astinus or Agatea - revolts had sprung up many times, and been quelled each time - but in the capitol city of Caragoth.

Dissent and rebellion had wormed their way into the heart of the empire itself from revolutionary philosophers in Astinus, causing the people to question by what right the Emperor ruled. Arelon was still a young empire by this point, and one that had taken its new-made provinces for granted. It is possible, as well, that the revolution was fomented by agents within the Imperial Court - for it has always been a bed of vipers. Whatever the cause, the Emperor was hard-pressed to maintain order in his own lands, let alone foreign provinces.

By the end of the five-year period known as the Great Rebellion, the Empire was sorely weakened. Agatea - the Empire's most treasured province - found itself an influx of mercenaries from the Sea of Pearls, paid for with the coin of merchant princes. It seceded, and became a free nation supported by a standing army - which it has been to this day. Astinus was restored to the Empire, but was more rebellious than ever, and would break away and form the Astinian Republic by 600 BE.

Perhaps most damaging of all, however, was the unrest that came to the Sea of Pearls as the Imperial Legion was recalled to the mainland and mercenaries swept across the oceans on galleons. When the Great Rebellion was over, Agatean mercenaries found themselves roaming the sea with no one to call master - the beginning of a "piracy problem" that persists in the Sea of Pearls to this day.

The aftermath of the Great Rebellion forged the politics that persist in the west today - Astinus and Agatea are uncertain allies against Arelon, whom they despise. Arelon is a shadow of the empire that thrived in its golden age, but its dominion of the Sea of Pearl and its awe-inspiring navy brings in enough wealth to keep the Empire alive and well. Swords are rarely openly drawn between the three great human civilisations of the west, but intrigue and maneuvering is endless.

The City-States of Lorknir

150 BE

Almost a thousand years after the founding of the city of Antiras at the end of the Age of Spears, the region known as Lorknir - was dotted with cities and petty nations, and had become a hotbed of kings and warlords. The terrors of the wilderness and the desolation of past conflicts had slowly been driven away by the relentless forces of civilisation, slowly but surely. By 150 BE nine great city-states had arisen as rivals for rulership of the land: Antiras, Archemais, Beduin, Acharnis, Tylis, Ambrose, Ictis, Charax and Daedalium. The road that led to their rise was dotted with fallen nations, for Lorknir had long been a land of conquest and struggle.

Nor was Lorknir any longer the only human land in the east of Leng. In the millennium that had passed since the fall of the Gigantine Empire, humanity had spread into the desolation it left behind - now occupying lands from the northern coasts of what is now Warden to the distant southern shores of sunny Kharolis, beyond the halfling lands of Nevermoor. Humans had truly established their prominence on Leng; and as the oldest and most central of lands, Lorknir was more desirable than ever to those who understood the lifeblood of trade and commerce.

Each of the city-states now found themselves in a strange position; because of the way in which they had grown and matured, none of them could afford to crush one of the others without weakening themselves to their neighbours. Furthermore, the spoils of war grew less desirable as Lorknir grew in importance. The rulers of these city-states no longer desired conquest by force of arms, but the kind of stability that induces merchants to trade and moneylenders to lend instead of sealing up their vaults and weathering the storm.

The Century of Daggers

The rulers of the city-states of Lorknir did not suddenly decide en masse to lay down weapons and become the arbiters of peace. Though all nine rulers were cunning enough to see the truth of the matter, none were willing to give up the advantage or risk declining into obscurity. In short, none wished to be the first to lay down their spear and stride into their enemies' arms. Over the next century, however, the nature of conflict in Lorknir changed.

It was in this time that the "Game of Daggers" was coined as a phrase - referring to the art of misdirecting and misleading, of subtle threats, armies encamped on borders, and the flattering of enemies at banquets. It is the art, also, of alliances made in secret, assassins in the night and poisoned cups. The so-called "Century of Daggers" which proceeded from 150 to 50 BE teetered on the brink of an all-out war that likely would have crippled Lorknir and squandered its growing wealth. Despite this, the great city-states whose rivalry threatened all of Lorknir slowly came to see eye-to-eye - while maneuvering for the best possible position in the new order that would come next, they did not deny that it must come.

It is said that this century also was the century of the secret society. The druids took an interest in the politics of this time, wishing an end to senseless warfare that devastated the balance between civilisation and nature. The elves of Daggerwood, fearful that their forests in northern Lorknir would be harmed, also worked hard to provide neutral mediators between the city-states. Other more shadowy organisations - such as the mysterious "Unaligned", the Blades, and the Guild of Compatriots - also trace their founding to this period. Who can say what influence these groups, which were no doubt born from the Game of Daggers, had on Lorknir's journey into peace and stability?

The Signing of the Lorknir Pact

Finally, after a century of treaties, treachery and maneuvering, the city-states of Lorknir were ready to talk terms. Under the guarantee of the Blue Elves of Daggerwood, and in the greatest and oldest city in all of Leng - Antiras - the Lorknir Pact was signed in the year 40 BE. This agreement dictates that the city-states of Lorknir will work together and maintain their territories without resorting to arms. It formalised the tension that had dictated diplomacy between the city-states in the past: any who attacks another member of the Pact will face the combined wrath of all the others. This made Lorknir, in a world riven by war and conflict, a place of stability, safety and - most important of all - trade.

Of course, the Lorknir Pact says nothing about action against those who did not sign. This prompted many within Lorknir to turn their attention and their resources to the territory in the Vintas and beyond - fuelling the War of Accession that began only a decade later.

The War of Accession

30 BE

With the signing of the Lorknir Pact, the attention of those with power and wealth turned to the east - to the fertile and well-placed lands of the Vintas. Always a frontier and a land of new opportunities - the "new world" - the Vintas became the focus of Lorknir's political ambitions. Minor lords fell away and swore oaths of fealty to those backed by powerful merchant princes, and warlords were used as pawns in the games played by Lorknan rulers.

A period of 10 years passed in this way, and it seemed as though it would be the deepest coinpurse that ruled Vingaard. The predictable path of the so-called War of Accession was suddenly and violently derailed by a miraculous event, however.

The Apotheosis of St. Cuthbert

The Apothoesis of St. Cuthbert is one of the most significant events of Vintish history, and one surrounded by myth and embellishments. By 20 BE, the War of Accession was in full swing - what had once been a fractious but peaceful assortment of petty kingdoms had devolved into a frenzied melee of warlords. The gods of this time were the old gods of yore - primal, elemental beings. Tales of the early priesthood of Belzor are few, but all know the story of St. Cuthbert.

The Apotheosis of St. Cuthbert occurred in the town of Solamnus, which would eventually become the capitol city of Vingaard. It had been the site of a great battle; one of the warlords, swayed by a cleric of Cyric, descended upon the town with the certainty that killing Cuthbert the Holy would guarantee the destruction of the New Order that threatened his claim on Vingaard. He was held back by priests and shepherds - by the locals of the town.

It is said that when the battle was done, Cuthbert the Holy called the leader of the battle - a shepherd named Eolus. This shepherd, it is said, had no stake and no ulterior motives but his desire to keep his people safe. It is said that, of all the warlords seeking the blessing of Cuthbert, it was Eolus that he chose. For Eolus did not come to him, did not ask for his blessing, did not want a crown. With Eolus and his Disciples alone, he ventured into the ancient catacombs beneath the town.

Only Eolus and the Disciples emerged; the Disciples, with wide eyes, swore that Cuthbert had commanded them to serve Eolus as the man who would bring peace and righteousness to the Vintas, and had vanished in a flash of light. This was the beginning of a turning point in the War of Accession; for it was Eolus who was to become the first king of Vingaard. Whatever passed in those catacombs, he went in a reluctant shepherd, and came out as the King of Vingaard.

In the years to come, the shepherd-made-king would leave his mark on the Vintas. The newly-unified kingdom of Vingaard would, by his death, stretch across the Vintas. Even the hard-headed and stubborn Wardeners bent the knee to King Eolus before he lay down the crown for his brother to take up.