The Age of Mysteries

Shrouded in the obscurity of the past, the Age of Mysteries is a time before humans and their mortal brethren first landed on the shores of Leng. The dwarves still slumbered in the Ancestor Forges, and the gnomes had yet to make their long voyage through the Planes of Earth and Water to find their way into the sunlight of Morus. In that time, the continent of Leng was a sleeping giant ruled by primordial forces.

In the frigid north, connected to Leng by a bridge of ice, the Aesir and Vanir made war on the giants in the icy tundra. Their war spanned the planes, and brought many foul and strange things into Morus from other worlds: trolls and giants, and monsters of many kinds. On Leng, a vast and wilderness was lovingly cultivated by the Fey, the Eladrin and the Faerie Elves that had come there from other worlds. It was not peaceful, however. It was a land of elemental spirits and werewolves in the night; and one which was constantly at war with the linnorms - dragons that vied with the forces of nature for domination. And between each other, as well, the capricious Fey fought.

This was a time long before the age of mankind, when stories were told that had nothing to do with mortal beings. It was a time when Leng was ruled by spirits, not by souls. The world was new; it could remember a time when it was not a world at all, but a place of the Elemental Planes. Yet even in this era, the winds of change were stirring in the south.

The Forging of Morus

Unknown Time Period

There was a time, many thousands of years ago, when the world of Morus did not exist. Morus was not the beginning, and it is ignorant folly to believe that it was - for Morus is a young world, and the multiverse had seen many come and go before it came to be. What would become Morus was, in this time, nothing more than a curious state of balance in the shifting maelstroms of the Elemental Planes. In these places, the so-called semi-elemental planes, Fire, Water, Earth and Air find themselves present in perfectly equal proportions. Though this is a balance of sorts, it is by its very nature Chaotic - a roiling, churning mass of intermixed elements vying for dominance. If left alone the "bubble" will eventually burst, and one element will overwhelm the others. Until it does, however, the conditions in such places are remarkably similar to that of a Material Plane.

This roiling elemental mass was, in some places, closer to the Ethereal Plane that anything else - a "stable" region where all four elements existed in harmony. For the most part, however, it was a hellish landscape. Islands of half-molten rock floated on a sea of lava, only to be flash frozen and sent in every direction by enormous columns of air. For the land to stay the same from one moment to the next was a minor miracle; only elementals and the most ephemeral of fey spirits could survive this realm.

The Ancestor Dwarves

It was into this place that the Ancestor Dwarves arrived from the Plane of Elemental Earth. They were elite servants of Moradin, the dwarven god of the Forgotten Realms. Powerful clerics and wielders of an ancient form of runelore, they had been sent by their god to seek just such a place as this, and to establish the power of Law there. They named this place Morus, after the god who had finally led them to salvation from the ruins of their home world. Such was the power of their runes and the conviction of their faith that the earth stabilised where they stood, and an island of permanence appeared amidst a sea of chaos.

For a time, the Ancestor Dwarves lived a joyous life, building great citadels and erecting wondrous temples of Moradin. The might of their runelore was enough to stabilise the Chaotic nature of the realm, and the bubble failed to burst. A golden age of a millennium or more passed - not entirely peaceful, but a golden age nonetheless - as they delved deep fortresses in the new-formed mountains and constructed magnificent temples to Moradin. These temples contained what is referred to in the dwarven texts as Keystones, powerful artifacts of divine might designed to exert stability over Morus and tear it from the Elemental Planes.

The forces of Chaos are rarely willing to stand by and allow Law to assert itself, however. As sure as the waves, the agents of Chaos came to undo the efforts of the dwarves and restore Morus to its primodial entropy. They were conjured by the elementals themselves, who resented the changes they felt in their domain, and were all too happy to answer. In this sense, it could be said that the very plane itself rebelled against the rule of Law.

The Bounding of Morus

So it came to pass the Chaotic spirits entered Morus in forms referred to by ancient dwarven inscriptions as the "Ancient Masters": enormous monsters with bodies shaped from stone and flame. The Ancient Masters turned the fledgling world of Morus into a battleground between Law and Order. Good and Evil; Law and Chaos; this battle was merely one in an endless procession of such battles that take place throughout the multiverse.

The Ancient Masters rampaged against the Ancestor Dwarves for many years, a war that the dwarves were not fated to win. As the edifices and runes of the dwarves were torn down, Morus became more unstable by the day - slipping into Chaos as their work was undone. The Ancestor Dwarves grew desperate, and many became faithless and fled Morus in the wake of the onslaught. Some travelled into the Underdark, fleeing into Elemental Earth in search of a new promised land. The Moredi clan, utilising their considerable runelore, lifted their mountain home from the surface of Morus and disappeared into the sky. Few dwarves remained - and, huddled in their mountainous strongholds, those that survived made their preparations for one last feat of runelore.

So it came to pass that, though the Ancestor Dwarves were defeated, they were able to contrive a new invention whose like has not been seen since. The Ancestor Forges, powerfully warded edifices of Law, were made to preserve what few surivors remained from the Ancient Masters. Though slumbering in stasis, the inhabitants of the Forges survived in their deep hidden vaults even as the rest of their race perished - and thousands of years later, they would emerge. The Ancient Masters could not ferret out the dwarves from their warded hiding places, and though they had won the battle, they lost the war. The remaining Keystones completed their work, and Morus became a place of Law and Chaos in equal proportions - a stabilised place, a Material Plane, and the Ancient Masters became the linnorms: the primeval dragons.

The Tale of Firebirth

Unknown Time Period

What happened in the aftermath of Morus becoming a world of its own? There were few enough witnesses to tell. The Ancestor Dwarves were hidden in their Forges. The linnorms, descendants of the Ancient Masters, are not particularly amenable to sharing their memories, even if any do remember such distant events. What is known - or suspected - about the so-called Firebirth is little more than a handful of far-fetched theories, drawn together through wild allusion and inference of the creation tales of Morus' peoples.

It is said that Morus was born in fire. Wrenched from infinity to a sphere of finite dimensions, it immediately underwent dramatic changes. It is said that flame and magma rose up in a vast sheet and descended upon the central landmass stabilised by the dwarves, shattering it into pieces and scattering them far and wide. Oceans rushed in and filled the gaps, forming the continents that we know today. Though this was a chaotic and dangerous time to inhabit Morus, several races persisted through this hardship. Morus was inhabited by elemental spirits, the Fey, the beast-creatures cared for by the Fey, and - of course - the linnorms.

In this newborn world, it is said, there was a continent far to the south of Leng - in what is now called the Boiling Ocean. Here, the flames settled and were drawn into a radiance so bright that it scorched everything around it. Some old Khazathian scriptures name this phenomenon the "Great Soul", though even they do not tell what it was or what caused it to appear. Some of the scriptures speak of it like a living creature which came to Morus to guide the unformed spirits of that world. Others talk of it like a power source, a well of immense magical power that can be drawn upon at will. Likely neither and both are true - but what it truly was may be lost to time forever.

Whatever the Great Soul was, those few elemental spirits who dared to approach it were changed forever. They aquired souls of their own, seeing the world in a new light. They gained insight into the arcane, an awareness of the vastness of the Astral and the power of magic at their disposal - and the Great Soul provided them with a massive well of power to draw upon. So it came to pass that the First Gods were born.

The Legend of Altea

Before 10,000 BE

The Legend of Altea is the oldest story in all of Morus. It is so old that it is all but forgotten throughout most of the world. Few still remember this ancient story; among them are the people of Khazath. In Khazath, on the southern shores of Leng, are a very old people who follow very old customs. Their religion is of the Shedoleth, which in their tongue means "The Custodians". They claim that their gods were the first on Morus. Their tale goes something like this...

The Building of Altea

In an ancient time, the continent of Leng was empty of mortals; it was the domain of the Fey and the elder dragons ("lind orm", or linnorms). In that time, before the Boiling Ocean came to be, souls were only to be found in the far south: in the magnificent city of Altea. The First Gods, who were made by the Great Soul and had souls of their own, dwelt in the shining spires of that city. Once, the Great Soul had spoken to them; once, it had directed them. No longer, though. Shining in its radiance at the highest spire of the city, it had fallen silent.

This was no hardship to the First Gods, however. Alone they lived in their magnificent city, and the power they drew from the Great Soul fulfilled their every need. The linnorms and the Fey had come to their city, envious of the power and wisdom they had attained, but with the might of the Great Soul they could not overcome them. It was from the stone corpses of linnorms that the streets of Altea were paved, and the First Gods were comfortable in the knowledge that the Great Soul would protect them from all harm.

As time passed, however, an awareness came to them. The beast-creatures of the wild, who were the children of Fey and dwelled in the forests outside of Altea, were fascinated by their city. They gathered in great hordes outside the city's walls, and some of the First Gods were fearful. But their leader came forth and said "Have no fear, my friends. Our city is magnificent; why should they not want to look upon it? Why should we send them from our presence?" He went out amongst the beasts and greeted them. Those who desired to enter Altea were allowed, and the First Gods took pity upon them for their hardships. Undignified, ungainly forms the beast-creatures had; with stiff backs and clawed hands. The First Gods gave them new shapes more befitting noble creatures.

The beast-creatures were not allowed to touch the Great Soul, as the First Gods were. For their own good, they were kept from it - the First Gods thought that such meek beings may well be destroyed if they were to touch it. But they were brought into the city's streets, and lived there in harmony. Grateful for their new shapes, they gave thanks to the First Gods. Some of the First Gods were dismayed when the progeny of the beast-creatures were born with souls of their own; when some of the beast-creatures began to practice magic. But others took it as a sign that the beast-creatures were their kindred - and they dedicated themselves to watching over them and guiding them.

So it came to pass that the Children of Beasts were born under the First Gods. In Altea, the holy city, a golden age reigned.

The Breaking of Altea

Peace reigned for thousands of years in Altea, the holy city. The wilds, filled with terrors, were a dangerous place for mere mortals, and in those days the nights were far longer. But the First Gods, fuelled by the Great Soul and the devotion of their disciples, protected them. They were benevolent rulers, who built great cities and empires so that the Children could live in peace. There was great plenty for a time; and all was well until the plenty began to diminish.

The First Gods did not share their worries with the Children, but - after many peaceful millennia - they were concerned. They had grown accustomed to drawing upon the fantastic power of the Great Soul to work their magic upon the world. With its power, a mountain could be swept away in an instant; a city raised from empty plains. In the early days, this was scarcely noticeable, but now it had been tapped many times. There were scores of gods, and some were so powerful that they stood as tall as giants. Some took great pride in appearing as the fearsome linnorms did, and frequently made great displays of their power to remind the mortals of their strength - to the dismay of those who thought such posturing unnecessary.

As a consequence of all this, the Great Soul had shrunk so small that some of the larger gods could reach their arms around it and clasp their hands together. Instead of mounting it on the tallest spire of the city of Altea, the First Gods had moved it to a secret room deep beneath the city streets - now that it was limited, they became fearful of losing it. Frequent arguments arose between them over who would use it, and why.

The mortal servants of the First Gods felt the weakness in their protectors, even if they did not know the cause. The First Gods rarely showed their faces in the streets below; when they did, it was with grim aspect and sullen demeanour. The light did not extend quite far enough; the time between purges of the wilderness was just a little too long; resources were just a little too scarce. Just a little - in the beginning. What had once been shining suburbs eventually scrabbled and fought for sustenance, unable to protect themselves or provide for their families. In desperation, mortals sought out other protectors. Black arts were practiced and deals with the Fey were made. Brigandry and banditry arose, and crime came to exist on Morus.

Seeing the effects that the Great Soul's diminishing was having on their people, the First Gods grew desperate. Skilled sorcerers, they began to seek other ways of accomplishing their ends without the Great Soul. Eventually, their eyes fell upon the Children. Like the First Gods, the Children bore souls in their breasts - and now, looking into their cities, some saw only a mass of souls, waiting to be plundered. Just as one does not lament for the beast that provides for your table, they thought it better for a mortal to join with a god than live a meagre, sorry life as a lesser being.

An atrocity was committed. Rituals were conducted in the secret chambers of Altea. Thousands of lives were snuffed out in an instant, and the Great Soul swelled once again with power. Not all the gods were complicit, however. In outrage, some rose up against the majority: the Custodians, those who would not tolerate this abuse of their people. The gods went to war for the first time in history, and fire rained from the sky of Morus once again. The glistening spires of Altea were sundered and broken, and countless of the Children died in the firestorms that wracked the land.

Seeing that this war could end only in sorrow, the Custodians made a plan to end things once and for all. Creeping by stealth into the secret chambers beneath Altea, they stole the Great Soul away in the night. Many fell on the way, but the Custodians escaped Altea with the Great Soul in hand. Taking a handful of the Children most faithful to them, the Custodians fled the broken city with the First Gods on their heels.

The Desertion of Altea

It was upon the oceans that the Custodians and First Gods met once again. Drawing upon the power of Great Soul, the Custodians had formed vast ships to hold them and their human charges in the journey across the Endless Ocean; this was the exodus that would eventually bring them to the shores of Leng. They would not arrive unhindered, however. The First Gods pursued them relentlessly, desperately wasting their remaining power to send powerful storms of crackling lightning after their ships.

At last the First Gods caught up with them, and there was battle on the seas. The conflict was bitter, and the First Gods were driven back. Dain of the Sunrise hurled bolts of light into the sky, piercing the hawk-shaped servitors of their enemies. Mielekkar the Huntress rode across the waves as though they were plains of grass, her arrows slaying where they struck. And Lugh the Longarmed, tasked with protecting the Great Soul, cast the Great Serpent Vakh into the sea. When Hoghn and Voghn, the Eagles of the Gods, flew high above the Custodians and defied their attempts at escape, it was Lugh whose great spears pierced their breasts and sent them tumbling into the depths.

Their conflict was not without cost, however. Vakh returned from the depths and encircled Lugh's ship, dragging it into the water. Though Lugh himself survived, his spear red with Vakh's blood, Vakh and the Great Soul perished together - both sinking into the depths of the Endless Ocean. And although the Custodians escaped the First Gods, they looked on with horror as the Great Soul dissolved into the waters behind them. Even as they fled, the waters began to churn and seethe, great clouds of steam rising from them.

So it came to pass that the Boiling Ocean was born. The Custodians and their human charges completed their journey, landing on the southern shores of Leng - even as the Boiling Ocean grew hotter and spread further and further south. The humans were not the last mortals to flee Altea before it sank into the sea, however - more and more would make the perilous journey until the Boiling Ocean became too dire to cross, arriving on Leng and the other continents of Morus. Yet despite this, no sign was ever again seen of the First Gods of Altea.

The Wrath of the Aesir

About 12,000 BE

Long before the Custodians and their human companions ever arrived on Leng, when Altea was merely troubled by unrest, events were unfolding on the other side of the world. These events are documented only by the oldest and most obscure of Norse sagas, and then only by reference and metaphor. By these accounts, it is said that it was at the northern pole of Morus - known as the Frozen Waste in the present day - that the Norse gods came from the mists of the Ethereal Plane. They came pursuing a quarry, a king of kings amongst the ice giants known as Thrym, who had stolen the Mjolnir from Thor.

When the Aesir came to Morus, they waged a war which darkened the very sky - a war which would have been legendary had there been anyone there to witness it. In desperation, Thrym resorted to mercenaries drawn from wherever he could take them - ogres and trolls brought up from distant and dismal planes were raised up in a vast army to slow their assault. The Aesir retaliated with armies of their own - and they hired the nidavellir dwarves to build the Vegur, a trans-planar network of caverns which they used to bring warriors from other worlds to fight against the gigantine armies.

Eventually, the palaces of Thrym were unroofed and cast down, and the gods recovered Mjolnir. Thrym was slain and his body buried beneath the icy walls of his seat of power, and the Aesir departed from Morus. They left a legacy behind, however - the remnants of their war would leave an indelible mark on Morus. The Frozen Waste remained inhabited by the straggling giants and other monsters from Thrym's army, while the less desolate continent to the south - now called Nordmaar - was made into a kingdom for the humans who had followed the Aesir.

The Colonisation of Leng

About 10,000 BE

When the Custodians and their human followers first landed on the southern shores of Leng, it was a place owned wholly by the Fey. Staggering mountains and vast jungles spread across its length, filled with the same dire beings which had filled mortals with such fear on Altea before the First Gods had driven them back. This was the Leng that the first human settlers encountered; luckily for them, they had the Custodians at their side.

The first colonisation of Leng by humans occurred in distant prehistory; there are no concrete records of anything that happened in this time. All of what is known about this period comes from the annals of the oldest Khazathian scripture, and even that is obscure and little-known in places like Vingaard. Many of the things that occurred in this time seem fantastical - the gods walking side-by-side with their mortal charges and reshaping the very land itself - but who can say what really happened?

The Founding of Khazath

Even as the oceans to the south began to churn and writhe with the diffused power of the Great Soul, the first humans made landfall on the southern shores of Leng - a dense, humid jungle in the area that is now known as Khazath. For millennia before they had arrived, it had been a bestial and wild place. All of the dangers which had been kept from mortals in now-fallen Altea had run rampant there; it was a place of the Fey, where dire wolves roamed and elemental spirits vied with dragons for dominion of the wilderness.

If not for the Custodians who chaperoned them, early human settlers may have found their stay to be short and bloody. Though the trauma of losing the Great Soul was fresh on their minds, the Custodians knew that they could not afford to wallow in their loss. It is said by Khazathian scripture that a period of 250 years passed, during which the Custodians did all they could to ensure that the humans had the best possible chance of survival in their new home.

If the apopcryphal legends of Khazath are to be believed, it was during this period that the Custodians performed many of the great deeds that are remembered by those who worship them to this day. Dain of the Sunrise burned swathes of jungles to ash and reshaped the land itself into a more convenient shape. Lugh the Longarmed and Mielekkar the Huntress dragged monsters kicking and screaming from the dark places of the world and, laughing, dispatched them. Khemri the Hawk-Rider flew high above the clouds, ever vigilant for threats. And amidst all this, the people of Khazath grew and thrived in those warm and wet southerly lands.

Although the memory of the recent past was fresh in their minds and life was a constant war between the Custodians and the forces of nature, this was an era of peace and prosperity for their human charges - one in which they grew and thrived. Just as before, however, the Custodians knew they could not exert their power forever without consequences. Eventually, they would be forced to leave their wards to fend for themselves. All of their work was undertaken with this in mind: to prepare this strange new land as best they could for what would come after they had departed this world.

Arrival of the Latecomers

At some point after humans arrived on the southern shores of Leng, others came. With the vastness of the continent and its untamed wildness in those days, it should not be any surprise that Leng's settlers did not meet each other for quite some time to come. The Boiling Ocean became more dangerous to cross by the day as the Great Soul dissolved into it, setting it to churn and seethe with magical heat.

As a result of these strange currents, the second group of refugees came far off-course from the first. They had no Custodians to protect them, and few enough survived to make it to the shores of Leng. They landed on the eastern coasts, then migrated into the lush fields and rolling hills of Nevermoor - right into the heart of Leng. Their people has lived there ever since. It is not clear whether they were halflings when they left the mysterious homeland of mortals, or if centuries of hiding from dangerous monsters and consorting with the Fey made them so. Either way, the halflings of Nevermoor have always been closer to the fair folk than all other mortal races.

The Citadel of Penance

It is said that 500 years after their arrival on the southern shores of Leng, the Custodians had transformed Khazath into a paradise for their human followers. Although their home was hemmed in on every side by implacable wilderness, the tribes of Khazath lived in peace and plenty under the protection of their gods, who walked amongst them in the flesh. Far from the helpless wards first brought to Leng by the Custodians, they had become adept at fending for themselves.

This was well enough to the Custodians. Some of them - in particular, Lugh and Mielekkar - were happy to continue their crusades until their own death, but the others felt their own power waning as it was expended in service to humanity. Sorceries which once would have been well beneath them were now a struggle, something to be done only at great need. Though still immensely mighty, the Custodians recognised that the belief of their charges could not sustain them if they continued to exert themselves as they did.

It was Dain of the Sunrise, the leader of the Custodians, who made the final decision. He had come to feel very strongly that the power they wielded could only eventually bring calamity to mankind. So they delved great vaults beneath Khazath and constructed the Citadel of Penance. Though no mortal ever laid eyes on it, it was said to be a mirror copy of Altea, the city of the First Gods, to serve as a reminder of the sins committed by their kind. The only entrance to the citadel was a single great door of burnished bronze, which they sealed with powerful Sorcery, interring themselves within. Their folly had been to rule as kings and walk amongst mortal men; the Custodians knew that their duty was to be protectors, not masters.

Before they sealed themselves within, they made a pact with the people of Khazath: "Honor us and protect the entrance to the Citadel of Penance. Do this, and we will protect you always." Then they sealed themselves away, never to be seen again. To this very day, thousands of years later, the Citadel of Penance stands closed, and the city of Tael Leilan has grown around its entrance. The Shedoleth, or "Honor of the Custodians" is the oldest religion in Leng.

How Lugh Lost The Starjewel

About 9,500 BE

For a long time before it was finally sealed, the Citadel of Penance was under construction by the Custodians. Most of them spent their time within, delving and shaping the great halls. But others - notably Lugh and Mielekkar - were not ready to leave behind the humans. Lugh the Longarmed frequently went on long expeditions into the trackless north - home of fey, elementals and dragons that had descended from the timeless linnorms. Armed with his mighty spears and the Starjewel - an artifact of Altea and a sliver of the Great Soul - he dragged his foes laughing into the light and slew them. It is said that Lugh felt personally responsible for the loss of the Great Soul, and fought so tirelessly to forget his mistake.

It was on his final expedition that Lugh lost the Starjewel. He was fighting on the very day of the sealing of the Citadel of Penance, in the land now known as the Duchy of Tarovich in Vingaard. There, he encountered a wyrm named Zargothrax. Still a young red dragon at this time, Zargothrax was nonetheless steeped in the lore of his ancestors, the linnorms. He had visited his grandfather, the linnorm known as Stone-Tearer, in the north - where Mielekkar had slain him and created the Isle of Black Glass. He was filled with a burning desire to reclaim the power of the First Gods and reassert draconic dominance over the world - and the Starjewel was the object of his desire.

In times gone by, the defeat of a relatively young red dragon would have been a simple task for Lugh the Longarmed. But he was already tired from his exertions, and the Diminishing had affected him - who worked so tirelessly for the humans - more than most. He was shocked to find himself relying on his magic spears to evade the dragon's passes, when once he would have easily wrestled it into submission. Finally growing desperate, he drew power from the Starjewel to send Zargothrax hurtling into the earth.

However, as the dust settled, Lugh realised two things. Firstly, that Zargothrax had been buried under a mile of rubble by the force of the impact. Secondly, he realised that the Starjewel was gone. Even as he came to this realisation, he heard Dain summoning the Custodians to the Citadel of Penance. Although he knew he should not leave the Starjewel behind, he could not move the rubble without it. Dain could, but Lugh did not have the heart to admit to Dain that - again - he was responsible for the loss of a piece of the Great Soul.

So it came to pass that Zargothrax and the Starjewel were buried beneath what would someday become the city of High Tarus.

The Great Migration

About 9,000 BE

For several generations after the sealing of the Citadel of Penance, the people of Khazath remained faithful to the Custodians - for as long as the memories of living gods persisted in human memory. In this time, humans had taken up the axe and spear in order to keep their tribes alive without the protective wing of the Custodians to safeguard them. They protected the entrance to the Citadel of Penance and flourished in the land that had been prepared for them. But humans are a changable and heterogenous people - eventually, without the gods to lead them and lay their path for them, their faith became weak.

Many tribes remained in Khazath and kept the faith of the Shedoleth. Many do to this day. But others found these lands crowded and looked with avarice to the untamed world that lay at the doorstep of their comfortable home. Ever a race unwilling to rest on its laurels and unable to resist the call of adventure, many young wanderers dreamed of finding new lands and rebuilding them in their image. Still others remembered all too well the trials their people had been through, and wanted nothing more than to put any vestige of the old gods behind them.

For these reasons and others besides, the tribal people of Khazath began to spread across the south of Leng in the thousands of years to come. They ventured into the jungles of the Untamed Lands and Blackreach, and into the verdant fields that are now a blasted desert - the Plains of Dust. The memory of the First Gods and their treachery made the wilderness - once so dangerous and hostile - seem like a refuge. The primal capriciousness of fire, the fury of the boar, and cunning of the wolf - all these things were predictable and natural. They did not seek to build kingdoms, or capture souls. The fire cares only for fuel; the wolf, for its next meal.

In these distant lands, the Custodians and their worship fell by the wayside. For most, reverence was held for the primal spirits of the elements and the wilderness, a form of animistic shamanism. The Druids are the only tradition that survive these traditions today - the practice of revering Animal-Gods and the Elemental Spirits is no longer common on Leng. For now, though, the tribesmen trusted in their spirit-gods, and lived a pleasant and easy life in the vibrant jungles and crystal shores of southern Leng.

By 7000 BE, the Great Migration was drawing to a close: the humans of Khazath had spread as far north as the Sacatmorul Mountains and as far to the west as the jungles of Blackreach. They would remain confined to this corner of Leng for the forseeable future, for this was as far as the Custodians had prepared the land for them. Beyond was the unknown of the true wilderness, inhabited by strange and terrifying beings. Though some humans worshiped them, they were not so foolish as to enter the "otherworld".

Broadly speaking, those who left the familiar lands of Khazath in search of new lands can be divided into two groups: those who went west, and those who went north. Both are prehistoric, but bits and pieces are known about them by scholars with a fascination for the most ancient of human history. Amongst these scholars, they are known as the Ventari and Andruith peoples.

The Ventari People

Named after the first scholar who braved the jungles of Blackreach to find evidence of them, the Ventari people are a group who migrated west from Khazath into the jungles of the Untamed Lands and Blackreach. While the Untamed Lands bear no signs of any civilisation that might once have dwelt there, those who are brave enough to enter Blackreach on an expedition have found some indication that humans once dwelt there.

Though the jungle of Blackreach was beautiful and often profitable to the wandering hunters of the Ventari, those who chose to dwell there were isolated from the rest of humanity: only by dangerous mountain passes was it possible to enter these jungles from the Untamed Lands. Treacherous at the best of times, these routes became entirely impassable once the snows of winter settled. The result was that the Ventari were almost totally cut off from their cousins in the east, save for a trickle of movement in the warmest months.

Even amongst the most erudite scholars of the modern day, almost nothing is known about who the Ventari were or what happened to them. They existed and thrived in the jungle, forming a successful civilisation that endured until around 8000 BE. In that time, they learned many crafts that were unknown to other humans - strange forms of magic and the construction of the mysterious stepped pyramids that can be found even today in that dangerous jungle. Then they died off mysteriously, and the jungle was ruled by wildness once again.

The Andruith People

The Andruith people are those who went north from Khazath into the lands now known as the Plains of Dust. Also called the Andruith Desert, the Plains of Dust are a harsh and inhospitable place in the present day. According to Khazathian scripture, however, it was not always so. It was the Andruith who blazed the trail into a new and promising land, drawn inland from the coasts by the promise of verdant plains and a bountiful land of plenty.

The Andruith found their dreams fulfilled: in the green plains and valleys of the north, they were able to grow an abundance of grains and other crops. So much so, in fact, that they could give up their nomadic lifestyles and settle in one place. There were villages in Khazath and the Untamed Lands at this time, but never before had humans settled in such great numbers as the Andruith. As news of this wondrous land spread, humans began to flock to the previously untamed fields; villages and hamlets sprung up throughout the land, supporting far greater populations than there had ever been in the nomadic tribes of the south.

With time, the Andruith civilisation would only grow larger and more sophisticated. The largest and most prosperous villages grew into towns, bringing with them the innovation and industry afforded by this new lifestyle and needed to sustain it - irrigation canals, pottery pipes, metallurgy. There was conflict at times, and brigandry from those down on their luck or unable to find a place in the new way of life, but the natural abundance made these conflicts relatively rare; it was a time of growth and prosperity for the Andruith people, when small settlements stood resolute against the vastness of the wilderness.

By the end of the Great Migration, the people of Andruith were a stark contrast to their southerly neighbours. The people of Khazath clung to the religion of the Shedoleth and preferred the old ways - dwelling in loose, migratory tribes and living off the land, for the most part. By comparison, the Andruith people were beginning to lay the framework for the ancient civilisation that scholars would come to call the "Empire of the South" - though at this time, the very idea of an empire would have seemed absurd to these farmers and goat-herders.