History in Barsaive is marked around the founding of Throal. The events concerning us start about 100 years before the Founding of the Kingdom of Throal. It was about then that Eliar Messias, an elven scholar, is expelled from the Elven Court at the Wyrm Wood by the Elven Queen, Failla. He travels to a monastery in the Delaris Mountains where he finds and starts work on translating a set of six ancient volumes which he believes are over 10,000 years old. One night there is a scream from his cell that is completely filled with terror--apparently he has succeeded. When his bretheren find him, he has torn his eyes from his head and is holding them into the fire. He has left a note for them:
"These are the Books of Harrow.
They are our doom and our salvation.
Learn from them, or we will all perish."
Six other monks die that night, slain by some unseen entity. Eliar's student and protege Kearos Navarim takes the Books of Harrow and travels to a far island on the Selestrean Sea, where he founds Ner'Esham, Place of the Mind.
Ner'Esham becomes famous as a place of learning, adventure, knowledge and magic. Kearos Navarim and his students decide they will need all the ancient knowledge they can gain to translate the Books of Harrow, and so they found the Eternal Library to hold it. Jaron the dwarf manages to translate the First Book of Harrow, and from it they learn that the Horrors are coming, and they will overwhelm the earth. Kearos Navarim sends the message to every king and ruler he knows or has ever heard of, warning them, and dedicates Ner'Esham to finding a way to protect people from the Horrors. His warnings go ignored.
About the time of the founding of Ner'Esham, the dwarf kingdom of Throal is established by Tav Korelsed, king of the Mishwal tribe, when he conquers the Huari tribe in central Barsaive. The king of the Huari surrendurs on the battlefield, but is murdered by Tav's troops. Tav in turn is murdered by either his brother Thandos (which is the theory of modern historians), or his close friend Byrnicus (who actually claimed responsibility). Thandos takes the throne and does his best to make Throal a kingdom of trade, rather than conquest. For he knows the dwarf kingdom of Scytha has been putting down rebellions in the same two subject city-states for generations. But Tav has cursed Thandos and all his family. Thandos, his son, and his grandson all die horrible deaths.
The next 500 years show signs of increasing levels of activity by the Horrors. In the dwarf kingdom of Scytha, every newborn child sickens and dies by its fourth week, for an entire year. Throughout the south of Barsaive, in a crisis known as the Burning, people root out nests of Invae, insect spirits that snatch the bodies and destroy the souls of people, often of whole towns at a time. It is the closest the disparate people of Barsaive come to unity. Sporadic reports of people possessed by murderous spirits and astral entities wreaking havoc pop up everywhere.
Ner'Esham grows from a college town that only really supports the Eternal Library (fees for access) into a sizable city-state that they Name Thera (Foundation), with its own armies and airships, trading in True Elements (Air, Earth, Fire, Water, and Wood) and the magical metal orichalcum. Kearos Navarim is given the title of First Elder, though he delegates most of the work of running Thera to his Council of Elders. Work continues on translating the Books of Harrow and discovering Rites of Protection and Passage, that will keep Name-givers safe while the Horrors ravage the world. Their mighty airships arrive in Barsaive in 212TH, and they start buying True Elements and the magical metal orichalcum.
In 220 TH, the royal family of Throal dies out. Further, it's discovered that Thandos IV and Thandos V, who ruled for the last 144 years, were not even descended from Thandos. The Huari, still resentful of Mishwal rule, start a war over who will be next king, and thousands die. Eventually, a family of immigrants brokers a peace, giving rule to Braza, son of a Huari-Mishwal marriage. This is tolerable to both sides as an end to the war, though many Huari feel that there is still too much Mishwal influence over the throne.
Braza makes Throal into a trade kingdom, turning each of the noble houses into land development and import/export companies. Throal makes huge amounts of silver and gold selling orichalcum and True Elements to Thera. When Braza dies in 275, Throal's place in the orichalcum trade is firmly established.
Thera trades heavily in True elements and orichalcum, paying a great deal of silver and gold for them and seeking new suppliers beyond Throal. Nobody knows for sure what they want it all for, and they don't care either. Thera pays silver and gold, and everyone lines up to get it from them. The payments Thera makes are so high that fights break out over deposits of orichalcum and True Elements. It is not long before every bandit and ruler in Barsaive is at war over orichalcum. Nearly every kingdom in the province is overrun at least once. Thera does not care, as long as the flow continues unabated, and her airships continue to mine all across Barsaive for it herself. It is not long before the troll Crystal Raiders of the Twilight Peaks--the most bold and fierce of all the sky raiders--attack shipments of orichalcum.
Thera starts to protect her mining convoys and merchant airships with armed vedettes, and when those fall to the Raiders' drakkars, with flying stone castles called kilas, held up by magic alone. The Sky Raiders go after this greater challenge with greater daring, and greater enthusiasm, and losses continue to mount on both sides. Then a bold raid captures and demolishes an entire Theran fleet in 442 TH.
Thera will stand for it no longer. She does not retaliate immediately, but her revenge is sure -- she send a massive single shard of flying stone, the size of an aircraft carrier, called a behemoth. The Crystal Raiders are dumbstruck for a brief instant by its huge size and unparalleled power, but once that brief instant is over, they leap to the attack. The behemoth beats them down, smashing their wooden drakkars long before they can get close enough to board, long before they can even get close enough to use their fire cannons. The Crystal Raiders die and die and die as the behemoth closes in on their homes in the Twilight Peaks. When the behemoth razes the first settlement, unhindered by all the trolls' efforts, the Sky Raiders surrendur. They give up their honor and cast aside their liberty for the chains of slaves. The Therans take them, and then the behemoth sails on, continuing to raze the moots, the homes, and the settlements of the Crystal Raiders, coming at last to the revered neutral ground of Sky Point, which they blast into a smoking crater as well.
In 443 TH, Thom Edro proclaims Thera an Empire, and himself First Governor, instead of Elder. They start numbering their years in the Theran Era from this date. The Therans will use the Rites of Protection and Passage to create underground fortresses called Kaers, fortified by True Earth, or Citadels under domes of True Air and Fire, to protect people from the coming Scourge of Horrors. It was the original intention of Kearos Navarim to give the Rites of Protection and Passage freely to all. But now the Therans want payment in True Elements, orichalcum, or slaves.
Thera then conquers the rest of Barsaive, to put an end to the Orichalcum Wars and the disruptions those wars have caused in the steady flow of the magical metal to the Great City. Nobody else dares to challenge the might of her behemoths, though Alachia, the elven queen of Wyrm Wood, refuses to give up her sovreignity. Two regional capitols are founded in Barsaive. The one to the northwest is known as Parlainth. The one to the southeast, in sight of the Twilight Peaks, is Named Vivane, and supports a military base. To further insult the Crystal Raiders, the base is Named Sky Point. But neither Overgovernor troubles himself with running the province of Barsaive; they give that thankless task to the king of their largest and least fractious subject kingdom, Throal.
Jaron, one of Kearos Navarim's proteges, watches the changes occuring in Thera's leadership with growing dismay. He had once been highly regarded for his work in helping translate the Books of Harrow, but that high regard is gone. He is upset that Thera has conquered so many provinces, and demands so much tribute from all of them (for Barsaive is only one of seven vast provinces that Thera has conquered). He does not care for the manner in which the First Governor and his ork and human cronies steal the lives of others to extend their own. Jaron has stretched his own life, at the cost of his vitality, but the blood magic the First Governor uses is nothing like that. And the enormous profits wrung from sales of the Rites of Protection and Passage are disenheartening to him. And every time he voices a protest, one of his followers disappears. So when the First Governor Names Thera an Empire, Jaron can see what is coming. It will not be long before the First Governor declares himself an emperor.
The morning comes shortly thereafter when the residents of the Great City of Thera awake to find a very powerful ward surrounding the park across the bay from the First Governor's Palace. Within it, Jaron and three massive Great Form earth elementals that he has summoned are building something. As the work progresses, a Sphinx takes shape, facing the First Governor's palace across the bay, with its head down and its eyes closed. Shortly before noon, Jaron turns to face the crowd. He makes a speech, talking about the ideals of Eliar Messias and Kearos Navarim, his own teacher. He speaks of the corruption of those ideals, and finally promises to watch over Thera to see to it that she stays her original course. Then his earth elementals take him up in their arms and carry him bodily into the Sphinx, merging with it. As the wards fall, the people watching rush forward. The Sphinx raises its head and opens its glowing eyes, to watch the First Governor's Palace. The magical pattern of the Sphinx is too robust to damage and too complicated to unravel. It stands watch over the First Governor's Palace to this day, and to this day, the Theran Empire has not had an Emperor.
In 634 TH, the last of Braza I's descendants dies without issue. House Ueraven demands that this time, the throne be given to a Huari family, preferably their own. Their lobbying efforts are extreme, perhaps to the point of illegality. House Avalus, leading the Mishwal faction, proclaims Jothan Avalus king. Ueraven masses an army at their stronghold of Jasala, but Mishwal loyalists surprise and defeat them there. Jothan takes the Ueraven surrender, but to this day, House Ueraven teaches its scions that they were cheated out of the throne.
The activity of the Horrors continues to rise. Thera demands heavy tribute from Barsaive, especially for the Rites of Protection an Passage, in the form of True Elements, orichalcum, and slaves. Throal, as Thera's administrator, does what it can to soften the blow. The dwarf kingdom also gives the province a unified tongue for the first time in its history, their own form of dwarfish known as Throalic. Throalic heroes seek out and destroy the ever-stronger Horrors that come to Barsaive, winning the hearts of many.
Some people want to find a way to hide from the Scourge that does not come from Thera. Based on rumors and legends that the dragons have weathered a previous Scourge, they send heroes to seek out the dragons and ask for their protection. Most become dragon chow, but some dragons accept the fealty of other races in exchange for protection. Thera sees this as encroachment on her privileges and stealing her subjects and customers. Thom Edro doesn't want to fight the dragons, but many wealthy Therans do, so the Theran Navy makes war on the dragons, slaying two of the Great Dragons, though they lose one of their behemoths for the first time. Their third target, Icewing, is gone from his lair when they arrive, and it is essentially stripped bare. The dragons seem to be in full retreat, and the kaer-building businesses boom.
Then a dragon is spotted in Thera one evening, perched on the Sphinx. Before anyone can decide what to do, it flies off. The next morning, a dozen wealthy Therans who wanted war with the dragons are found dead in their beds. A week later, a dozen more are slain, and a week after that, a dozen more. Thera sends word through diplomatic channels -- the dragons are to be left alone. The dragons, in return, refuse to offer anyone else the secret of the Dragon Lair.
In the meantime, Alachia, the Elven Queen, decides that nothing will convince her to give up her Court's sovreignity and become a sujbect of Thera. She rules that the Wyrm Wood will not use the Theran magics, but will instead be protected by a kaer of True Wood. Further, she demands that all other elves do the same, or be Separated from her Court, to no longer be part of elven culture. This is the most severe punishment she can hand down; an elven community that is Separated is no longer regarded as truly elven, nor following the elven ways.
People everywhere, even some in the Elven Court, are aghast. Thera's Kaers may not be sure, but they don't see any way a Kaer of True Wood can hold back the onslaught of the Horrors. One and all, the elven nations turn away from Alachia. Faced with the prospect of Separating the Elven Court from the world to enforce her edict, she decides not to. Nor will she get a Theran-style Kaer for the Wyrm Wood.
King Varulus of Throal takes the throne in 950. He sees something lacking in the Theran Rites of Protection and Passage. The Theran kaers will hide and protect people from the Horrors. They will provide light, food, air, and water for the inhabitants during the long time of hiding. But they do nothing for the minds, hearts, dreams, and souls of the people within.
To address this lack, Varulus unofficially commissions The Book of Tomorrow. He asks his best wordsmiths, storytellers, and troubadours to contribute words of hope, songs of encouragement, tales of the surface life and promises that the Scourge will one day end. Also included is a means to measure the magic level of the world, and so to tell if the Scourge has ended. Additionally, he creates a Great Library, to save as much knowledge as possible, for it is certain that much will be lost when everyone is completely isolated. Both of these projects speed up tenfold in 960, when he makes them official. And to keep his power, he has to ruthlessly crush any rebellion. The most serious rebellion plot comes in 997. But there were others before and there are others after, and each time Varulus has to crush some doomsday cult hoping that they will be able to appease the Horrors by destroying Throal, he makes enemies for himself and his family.
In 1000TH, Thera shuts itself off from the world and the rising Scourge. Barsaive panics. Some rush to their shelters, some debauch themselves, and some commit suicide. It soon becomes apparent that the Scourge is worse around Thera, with its higher levels of magic. Barsaive is not too heavily infested with Horrors to shut itself away--yet. But communities that had been unfriendly start working together to make themselves a kaer, and many old rivalries disappear. Races that dislike each other work together and make every effort to prepare to live together underground for an unknown number of centuries.
As the Horrors became more and more dangerous, Varulus issues a decree: Because those who are corrupted by the Horrors lose artistic ability and mental stability, that all who live in Throal must demonstrate them on a very regular basis, or be exiled. Many think he uses this edict as an excuse to exile his enemies, but those complaints stop in 1032. During a public ceremony honoring Rashomon, Passion of Rulership, one congregation rushes the royal dias and slays everyone they can. They do this because Rashomon has become Raggok, the Mad Passion of bitterness, envy, and vengeance. Though Varulus is unhurt, most of the royal family is killed, and the House of Avalus remains dangerously small to this day. Currently there is only King Varulus III, Prince Neden (Varulus's son and heir), Varulus's wife Dollas, and her mother, Veroxa.
Parlainth, the provincial capitol in the north-west of Barsaive, will not use a kaer. Instead, the entire city will be transported into one of the Netherworlds. And to keep anyone from telling the Horrors where it is, the spell that does so will make everyone forget that Parlainth ever existed.
In 1040, Eash Wearg, the Theran ork who rules from Parlainth, arrives in Throal and demands shelter. The coward does not believe that the spell will work. Varulus admits him, but also disarms him and his guards. They set him up in a huge, abandoned chamber that Thera had earlier warned the dwarfs was shaped to attract Horrors, and they give him no power.
When the spell that takes Parlainth out of Barsaive and its people's memories is cast, Eash Wearg forgets he ever ruled Parlainth. But he is sure he rules, and assumes that he rules Throal. The people of Throal don't remember where Eash Wearg is from; all they get when they think of him is an impression of some magic gone horribly wrong. Varulus is quite relieved when the chamber he lives in collapses in 1045, killing him and his retinue. The king's enemies quietly conclude he is responsible. Wary of such ruthlessness, they decide not to go through with their plans against him.
In the month of Reag in 1050, Throal is forced to close itself against the Scourge. Many thousands of refugees in the town of Gatemouth are forced away from the doors, essentially condemned to die. Varulus believes this is neccessary because first, Throal will not be able to support another few thousand lives during the Scourge, and second, many of them are surely tainted by Horrors. But forever after, Reag is known as the Weeper's Month in Throal.
Throal's leaders are virtually certain that they have let some Horrors slip into the kaer before it was sealed, but they also know that they will reveal themselves before too long. Though the story is lost, they are uncovered and destroyed before they can do great harm.
King Varulus II, the only child of King Varulus, starts thinking about how the world will be after the Scourge, and how it should be. He starts discussions about what an ideal society would be like, and over several decades of discussion between philosophers, legal scholars, questors, nobles, craftsmen, merchants, soldiers, and historians, a rough consensus emerges. An ideal society is one where the rights of an individual to life, liberty, and property are recognized, and laws are constructed to repsect them. These discussions, and the laws based on them, are organized and written down in the Council Compact of 1270.
One of the conclusions that they draw in the Compact is that slavery is a crime. Its adherents decide that when it's safe to leave the kaers, they will circulate it as widely as possible, in hopes that the world will be very different after the Scourge, not only from what it was before, but what the Therans expect.
In 1262, the wooden kaer of the Elven Court suffers a serious breach, as its detractors had expected. It is too late to construct an earthen kaer, and there is not enough True Air and True Fire to construct a citadel. Many of the Wood's residents are stricken with despair, certain that the center of elven culture will be forever destroyed. Others form roving militia squads to hunt down the Horrors that penetrate the Wyrm Wood.
Then elven scholars make a discovery. That the most powerful and dangerous Horrors feed upon despair, anger, and fear was well known. What had not been known until then was that the Horror had to inflict those emotions on its victim in order to feed on them. Anyone already suffering from overwhelming pain was as barren to those Horrors as an empty plate, and would be left alone.
So elementalists of the Elven Court devise a ritual that will transform the elves. Called the Ritual of Thorns, it will cause thorns to pierce the flesh and skin of the elves from the inside, causing them terrible wounds and unending agony. It is very dangerous, and many of the elves subjected to it die. But the remainder no longer have to worry about any but the most bestial of Horrors, which they can usually handle with their magic and skill at arms.
Of all the citadels and kaers in Barsaive, only Travar does not suffer much from the Scourge. Horrors penetrate and destroy far more shelters than the most pessimistic predictions had forseen. Entire kingdoms and civilizations are destroyed by the onslaught of the Horrors, including the Theran city of Parlainth. When the Forgotten City of Parlainth is eventually rediscovered and brought back from the Netherworlds by J'role the Honorable Thief and his companions, it is empty of Name-givers. Adventurers flock to it, drawn by magic and wealth, and to challenge the Horrors that infest it.
Those shelters that have a copy of the Book of Tomorrow have a mana meter, which should tell them when it is safe to emerge. They watch as the mana level descends, but in 1415, the mana meter stops. It is too soon for the Scourge to be over, by hundreds of years. Nobody knows why the mana level has stabilized, or what it means, even to this day.
Throal doesn't wait. They want to spread the Council Compact as far and wide as possible before the Therans return. In 1409, King Varulus III, the only child of King Varulus II, decides it may be safe enough to go outside. He sends an expedition, but it is wiped out in under an hour. He sends another out every year, and they are all destroyed, until the troll woman Vaare Longfang brings hers back in 1412. They report the level and activity of the Horrors is much reduced, perhaps even below the level when Throal sealed itself.
Throal decides to send another expedition that will range further. They outfit a drakkar and enlist an elite crew, and give Longfang command. The ship, Named the Earthdawn, sets out in 1416. It returns, battle-scarred and with an exhausted crew, in just under a year. But the news is good. Most of Barsaive is free of Horrors, and the more dangerous ones that remain tend to stay in pockets of higher mana. Throal prepares to re-enter the world, and sends the Earhdawn to contact the nations of Barsaive and tell them the Scourge is over. It goes slowly because most people think Vaare Longfang and her crew are another trick of the Horrors. Of the first 21 kaers and citadels, only two open. Varulus III then orders the Earthdawn to contact the largest kingdoms first. Vaare Longfang sets out for Landis, but Horrors attack and take control of the Earthdawn long before she gets there. Its haunted hulk is sometimes still seen in the skies of Barsaive, but it usually disappears shortly after being sighted.
King Varulus III orders Throal's gates opened in 1420, though watchfulness remains high. Nobody goes outside for 16 months. Then he proclaims that all pre-Scourge land claims are void, and whoever works any land for profit owns it. A flood of people rush out to hunt, forest, mine, or farm the land, and even the attacks of occasional Horrors are not enough to stop them. They are called Garahamites; Garaham, one of Tav Korelsed's friends and companions, was the first dwarf to bargain with the mountain spirits of Throal and gain their permission to mine.
Merchants send expeditions to re-open trade routes, starting nearby. They camp outside those kaers that won't open their doors, and give copies of the Council Compact of 1270 to those that will, asking them to join the new world that Throal envisions. The kaers that have been breached they mark as dangerous and avoid. They move quickly, seeking to establish connections and friendships with all the races, for they know the Therans will come soon.
Thera doesn't arrive in Throal until 1449TH; it's believed that she opened in 1399. But they are surprised to find Barsaivians already emerging from their kaers, and that the Barsaivians also like life better without Theran domination and tribute than with them. They had expected the respect and subservience they'd enjoyed prior to the Scourge, and they threaten violence. In response, local Barsavians burn three vedettes at Sky Point and slay their crews.
First Governor Nikodus names Fallan Pavelis as the Theran Overlord of Barsaive, and orders him to reestablish Theran supremacy. Pavelis starts a campaign of opression and conquest, and Barsaive turns to Throal for help.
Varulus III knows the Therans must be stopped, but also that Throal cannot do it alone. He sends emissaries to the other rulers of Barsaive, hoping to forge a rebel alliance against the evil Empire. And while they like his words, they fear Theran airships more.
Then First Governor Nikodus gets a copy of the Council Compact of 1270 from Fallan Pavelis. It enrages him, and he sends an order to Pavelis: By the dwarf logic of commerce and ownership, every single life in Barsaive belongs to the First Governor personally because of Thera's role in defending against the Scourge. Since they are all his personal slaves, the First Governor orders all Barsavians to submit to Pavelis while he destroys every city not useful to gathering or trading orichalcum or True Elements.
Barsaivian loyalists get a copy of this message and distribute it far and wide while Thera masses an unmatched armada and army at Sky Point. People across Barsaive rise up in arms to make war against the Therans. None are foolish enough to take them head-on; Pavelis fights an endless guerilla war against ork cavalry, elven archers, windling infiltrators, troll airships, t'skrang riverboats, and other forces as he makes his way to Throal. Countless hit-and-run attacks destroy most of his supplies and half of his armada, which breaks and returns to Sky Point.
Barsaive is not quite so united now, in 1506, but Thera does not threaten so strongly as before. The lands southwest of the Delaris Peaks and the Twilight Mountains remain under Theran domination. Each races continues according to its nature and culture. The dwarfs trade and build, the elves live in beauty and mourn the lost Wyrm Wood, humans make their way wherever opportunity exists, and obsidimen quietly walk the land, learning all they can. Orks roam, seeking adventure, trolls build more airships and plan more raids on the lowlands, t'skrang run up and down the Serpent, trading, talking, and occasionally pirating or raiding, and windlings live on the fringes of civilization, seeking freedom and change.
Danger lurks just off the trade roads, along with the lure of the forgotten treasures of slain peoples. Bandits, savages, monsters, and murderous secret societies hide and strike. The Horrors have receded, but not disappeared. Some wait in the dark citadels and kaers that they have penetrated, curling on the wealth of those they have vanquished. Others roam the land, less dangerous than they were during the Scourge, but still mighty enough to wreak terrible havoc.
It is a time for heroes, a time to reclaim the glories of the past, and to build the future upon its ruins. It is a time to build new legends. What will your legend be?