The Time Before Time

Before the beginning of recorded history, the humans of Galadran were a stone-age people, used as slaves and cattle by the demons that ruled the world. Small tribes of wild humans survived in some places, but never in great enough amounts to threaten demonic rule. No one is sure how long this period lasted. There are no surviving records from this time, and all references to it from other periods are incomplete or vague. It is thought to have lasted at least one hundred generations.

Close to the end of this period, five powerful immortals known as The Magi arrived by boat from a mystic land beyond the River of Souls called Elysium. Each one of them was beautiful and possessed great strength and knowledge. They quickly subjugated local tribes of humans and began to organize them to battle the demons. Within four generations, they had begun to drive the demons back, and began to create human-dominated kingdoms. Within ten generations, humans dominated most of the subcontinent now known as the Cradle of the World. The magus Ahriman established his dominion there, choosing the lands of Stygia as his home. His brother Lagash travelled with Lo Tae Zhao and Vaul east into the Sea of Grass.

The remaining magus, Issana, travelled south to the Land of the Young. Unlike the others, she never established empires or kingdoms in the region. She travelled widely, aiding all tribes against the demons of the south, letting the tribes rule themselves as they saw fit, and refusing the mantle of leadership when offered. At some point, she stops contacting the other magi and disappears until the Age of Empires.

Vaul remained in the Sea of Grass, teaching the savage Brule to train and breed horses. The remaining two magi crossed the plain and entered the lands known now as the House of Three Treasures. Lagash travelled to the jungles of Chey, where he defeated the demon Bai-Ulgen and established the rule of the Nagarajas. Lo Tae Zhao headed further north to the Five Kingdoms region and used the Shang tribe to conquer the opposing warlords and establish the Empire of Perfect Contemplation. Both magi ignored the people of Chwezi, believing them to be inferior and unworthy of help. The formation of these empires and the defeat of the last kingdoms ruled by demons marks the end of the Time Before Time and marks the beginning of the Time of Empires.

Time of Empires

The history of this age is significantly more complete than the previous time, but is still far from comprehensive. The empires established by the magi grew in power and size, dominating the lands around them and guided directly or indirectly by the magi themselves. Stygia grew along the Serpent River, extending into the deserts near the center of the continent. The empire of Chey discovered and cultivated the mysterious lotus flowers that expanded the mind of those that used it. The Empire of Perfect Contemplation established the first temples to Lo Tae Zhao as a god, and the first monks were trained. The demons of the south in the Land of the Young were finally driven into The High Places, along with the Skrailings. The Brule expanded and conquered the other plains tribes until they are the only tribe left in the entire Sea of Grass.

Eventually, Vaul left the Brule and travelled across the Sea of Storms to the Land of the Young to search for Issana, whom none of the Magi could find. His ship landed in the Shattered Isles, where he quickly subjugated the island tribesmen and founded the city of Icatia. Vaul uses the tribesmen as an army to range into the Land of the Young and search for Issana, conquering the surrounding islands first before moving to the mainland.

Vaul’s conquest of the mainland was cut short when he discovered that the natives were using sorcery to defeat his forces. Knowing that they could only have learned such things from Issana, the magi resumed his quest alone, using stealth and his sorcery to travel undetected among the natives until he finally found his missing compatriot. No record exists of the meeting between the two magi, but when it ended, Vaul returned to his army and ordered them to resume attacking the natives. He also chose an apprentice, his bodyguard and consort Misha.

Vaul’s war against the natives of the Land of the Young lasts nearly four generations. For most of that time, the magi and his apprentice are in Icatia and the surrounding islands, fortifying them against invasion. The war oscillated between one of the sides having an advantage to another, with long periods of stalemates in between. Finally, Vaul revealed a new weapon in his war – the Hidrans, humans born from the teeth of a Hydra by sorcery. Placing Misha in command of his new army, Vaul orders her to make a final assault against the natives. This last campaign was horribly bloody, and ended in victory for Misha and the Hidrans. More than a quarter of the Land of the Young fell under Vaul’s control, and the largest tribes in the region had either sworn fealty to him, or had been scattered and destroyed. The remaining unconquered people controlled the southern regions, between what is now Orm’s River and the High Places. Vaul declared an end to the hostilities and placed his tribesmen from Icatia in command of his new holding. The end of the war marks the beginning of the Pax Icatia.

The Time of Heroes

At this point, the status quo is firmly established for the next twelve generations. The Empires of Stygia, Icatia, Perfect Contemplation, and Chey remain the dominant stable powers in their respective regions. The Brule rule the Sea of Grass uncontested and attack and kill all trespassers. The magi gradually fall out of contact with each other as their local pursuits take up more and more of their time. Knowledge of sorcery begins to spread throughout the lands as monks, priests, apprentices, and witches begin to learn its secrets.

This period is known as the Time of Heroes by historians, and is viewed as a sort of passing of the torch from the deeds of the magi to those of their chosen successors. More and more, the great empires are being ruled by proxies and agents, and it is they, not the magi, that drive the events of the world. This period also marks the beginning of the surviving historical record, as the events from this time are the first ones that are almost entirely complete.

Most of the great legends of Galadran come from this time period, be it the Sagas of the Skrailings and the Free Men, the Canticles of the Pax Icatia, or the Archives of the House of Three Treasures. The legends are always local ones, however, as no stories or histories seem to cross continental lines. There is some overlap between Chey and the Empire of Perfect Contemplation, but for the most part, the heroes and their deeds deal with challenges and events in their region, and the stories do not permeate beyond the local cultures.

The Thirteenth Generation

Technically, this period still belongs to the Time of Heroes, but it has become popular for scholars to separate it out due to its enormous historical importance. This twenty-year period marks not only the end of the Time of Heroes, but it is also the beginning of the end of the hegemony of the magi’s empires.

In the West, a series of small uprisings broke out in the Empire of Perfect Contemplation. Although such uprisings were common, these were remarkably well-coordinated and the peasants were well-armed. The armies of Lo Tae Zhao suffered a series of humiliating defeats, and it required the personal interference of the magus himself to restore order. From his palace in Shambala, the Lo Tae Zhao summoned forth the first demons the world had seen in centuries. Powerful dragons under his command fell upon the terrified armies of the rebels, slaughtering them. The creatures then turned on the villages that had harbored and encouraged the uprisings, burning them to ash and eating all they came across. Lo Tae Zhao returned to the throne of his empire, killing the reigning regent, his staff, and their families for failing him. For the first time, cracks in the empire were exposed.

In Chey, the armies of the Nagaraja attempted to enter and annex the western part of the Sea of Grass, only to be defeated by the Brule. The Brule in turn invaded Chey. Although the horsemen were unable to penetrate the dense jungles, they spent several years burning the fields and farmlands of eastern Chey. Famine set in and plagues ripped through the empire.

In the East, the Empire of Stygia began to buckle under the strain of ruling such a vast area. Impatient with the niceties of court politics and increasingly interested in higher forms of sorcery, Arhriman ordered his two most trusted apprentices, Kyyam and Mamun], to cross the Threshold of Immortality and enter Elysium. The nature of the quest is not known, but it is believed that the magus wanted some important artifacts and writings from the land could not or would not return for them himself.

Finally, in Icatia, news that Issana had resurfaced reached Vaul. Caught up in his own pursuits, the magus sent an army of Hidrans to capture her and bring her to his city for execution, reigniting war between the Pax Icatia and Free Men. This war was markedly different from the last one, as Icatia’s forces were destroyed utterly, ending the legend of invulnerability that the Hidrans had enjoyed and threatening the stability of the Pax Icatia. For the first time in centuries, Vaul returned to the field of battle, leaving a pair of proxies known as Consuls and an advisory body known as the Senate behind to handle domestic affairs while he saw to what he imagined would be the final war against the southern people.

The Thirteenth generation ends with the return of Mamun and Kayyam from beyond the threshold of Immortality. Each returns changed – both are stronger and have the same unearthly beauty that the Magi enjoy. In the great palace of Akhetum, the apprentices present Ahriman with a pearlescent box the size of large dog. The magus thanks him and appoints them joint rulers of his empire, with Kayyam granted dominion of the southern wastes, and Mamun in command of the wealthier and more civilized regions in the north.

The Time of Fire

The Time of Fire deals primarily with the events that rip apart the old empires and forever change Galadran.

The war between the Pax Icatia and the Free Men and Skrailings lasts for almost seven generations. The bulk of the war takes place on the banks of Orm’s River, with one side gaining the initiative and crossing to invade, only to be pushed back within two seasons. The stalemate broke at last when holy warriors from the Cradle of the World invaded the Shattered Isles. Faced with fighting an expensive war on two fronts, the Senate advised the Consuls to abandon the southern war in favor of protecting the homelands. When Vaul heard the decision, he returned to Iactia in the hopes of dissolving the government and reestablishing his rule. He is assassinated on the steps of the senate building by his own bodyguards. The lands south of Orm’s River were ceded to the Free Men, and the former southern territories were relinquished to local warlords to manage “temporarily,” while the empire turned its attention northward.

In Stygia, Ahriman withdraws entirely from command of his empire. Kayyam and Mamun begin to quarrel, and finally Mamun invades the southern lands. The war is short, and the southern lands are conquered. Kayyam is exiled to the desert with what is left of his followers. After two generations, the magus appears at the city of Ineveh, nearly dead and speaking in a strange tongue. He is hidden in the house of a craftsman while he recovers, and begins to speak of an omnipotent God and prophesized the destruction of the Stygian empire, the death of Mamun and Arhiman, and the rise of a great holy nation. Despite attempts by both Arhiman and Mamun to find and kill him, Kayyam escaped capture repeatedly and finally managed to gain the support of many influential southern warlords. Within a generation of his return, Kayyam had built an army and was marching north to destroy both his former friend and master.

In the House of Three Treasures, the Nagaraja ordered the invasion of the Empire of Perfect Contemplation, despite the years of famine and the fact that the southern regions of Chey were still in the hands of the Brule. The armies of Chey fought valiantly, and in the beginning managed to conquer new territory. Eventually, however, the weight of fighting a guerrilla war at home and a traditional war against a more powerful neighbor took their toll. The capital city of Marut is sacked and burned, and the empire of Chey disintegrates. The magus Lagash fled the capital to parts unknown, while the Nagaraja and his court retreated to the city of Ulga to form their government in exile.

The Brule continued to conquer and burn the southern regions of Chey. Tribal warlords try to rule these lands, but the nomadic nature of the Brule and their impatience with civilized life make this impossible. Cities crumble from decades of neglect and war, as the people either leave or slowly turn what remains of their homes into armed camps. Eventually, other tribes of Brule, eager for glory and plunder, turn their attention to the Empire of Perfect Contemplation. Weakened and overextended from their war against Chey, the Empire is ill-equipped to handle an invasion from the Sea of Grass, and begins to crumble. The Brule are finally repelled from the region by local warlords who in turn declare themselves rulers of the territory they saved. Rather than resist, Lo Tae Zhao abandons the empire entirely and retreats to Shambala with his monks, leaving the remains of the empire in the hands of any who can claim it. After a series of bloody wars, the territory is divided into five territories, each ruled by a local warlord and his allies.

The Time of Fire ends when the wars of Stygia conclude. The armies of Kayyam defeat every army they confront on their way to the city of Akmin. At the gates of the city, the prophet calls for a parley with Ahriman and Mamun, claiming that if they surrender to him, they could spare the city the horror of a siege. Both men refuse. The siege of Akmin lasts nearly a year before the people of the city revolt against their masters and attack the palace. Refusing to be defeated, Ahriman invokes powerful magic that consumes the entire city, burying it in sand and killing everyone within the walls. The forces of Kayyam retreat to the city of Ghimr and declare it the capital of a new holy empire to Kayyam’s Unnamed God. Mamun, who apparently escaped Akmin before its destruction, attacks and horribly wounds Kayyam before he is killed by the prophet’s bodyguards. Kayyam retreats from public life, appointing a Padishah to rule with the prophet as an advisor only.

The Time of Blood

The modern times are known by historians as the Time of Blood. This period has so far been punctuated by brutal wars and petty kingdoms that spring up and burn out within a generation. Political boundaries are almost meaningless, as the great empires of the past are carved up by the warlords of the present.

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