HISTORY OF BARSAIVE
A Copy from the Book of Tomorrow
With updates from the local History of Kaer Jai’den
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 a small mountain, 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.
The Theran Empire
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. A regional capital is founded in Barsaive in the southeast, in sight of the Twilight Peaks, and is Named Vivane, and it supports a military base. To further insult the Crystal Raiders, the base is Named Sky Point. The Overgovernor doesn’t troubles himself with running the province of Barsaive; he gives 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.
In 1040, the Ork Eash Wearg arrives in Throal and demands shelter. Varulus admits him, but 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. He demands power and is sure he is the rightful ruler of Throal, but the King ignores his requests and gives him no formal power. The people of Throal don’t know 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.
The following begins the additions added by the historians of our Kaer.
In 1023 a large majority of the population of the mining town of Jai’den refuses to relocate to Throal since many of the aged and young will not be able to make the journey coupled with the fact that Horror activity is already dangerously on the rise. Then Chief Administrator Thulram sends an a small adept group as an emissary to Thoral to request a Book of Tomorrow and he begins plans to expeditiously expand the mines into an underground settlement in the hope that living earth would afford them at least some protection from the coming scourge.
In 1041 a Caravan of Therans lead by Hyram arrive. The caravan is unable to remember where they came from or where they were going and are now desperately trying to find shelter from the Horrors. Of particular note is the fact that the caravan contains wizards and elemental adepts with a copy of the Rights and Rituals of Protection along with the skills to fortify a Kaer. Hyram and Thulram agree that the best hope for both the caravan and the town of Jai’den is to throw their lot in together. The town will supply the already started dwelling to form the foundation of the Kaer and the Therans would provide the work needed to make the mine into a Kaer. Once again the work begins at a fevered pace.
In 1047 due to increasing Horror attacks Chief Administrator Thulram orders everyone inside the yet unfinished Kaer unless they are preforming necessary work. He also institutes the mandatory monthly displays of creativity for the whole community and a mandatory twice monthly display of creativity for any adepts. Thulram appoints Hyram as the first Chief Inquisitor and charges him with detecting Horror Infiltration and protecting the citizens in the Kaer.
In 1048 a group of adepts founds Jai’den’s Hope to stand guard against the Horrors as the necessary construction finishes.
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. Six month later upon finishing the last of the necessary construction for air, food, and water, Kaer Jai’den is sealed and all remaining work to the Kaer will be done internally in the coming years.
In 1415 the mana meter inexplicably stops descending. It is too soon for the Scourge to be over and the level it too high to completely rule out the presence of Horrors outside. None of the magical experts in the Kaer can explain why the mana level has stabilized, or what it means for the safety the world above. Chief Administrator Thalos makes the decision that instead of using the mana level to determine when to open the Kaer we will use the initial calendar reckoning and open the Kaer in 1500.
In 1421 there is a knock at the outer seal creating a great stir in the kaer and raising everyone’s hope. The voice identified themselves a merchant from Throal named Karavick and claimed that Throal and many other kaers have opened and that the outside world, while not completely free of Horrors, is as safe as it was before the Scourge. Chief Administrator Thalos and Chief Inquisitor Hadi requested a display of creativity from the outsider before they were willing to chance opening the door. Karavick claimed that her art was sword dancing, and the doors would have to be opened in order for them to see her performance. When the Chief Administrator declined Karavick said she would return with a Troubadour from her caravan to satisfy Thalos’s demands, but she never returned. Chief Administrator Thalos once again decided to hold to the plan of keeping the kaer sealed until at least the year 1500. This decision produced some ill will with a generation of the short lived races who couldn’t expect to live to see 1500, but nothing much was ever made of the negative feelings. The disquiet was easily overcome since opening the doors to a Horror could cost the lives of everyone in the kaer and rebelling would mean you wouldn’t live to see tomorrow let alone the outside world.