The Pre-Cataclysm Era in the Sheldomar
Date: Tue, January 17, 2006
Although the history of the Flanaess before the Twin Cataclysms is nearly unknown, certain general assumptions and events can be traced to it. Those events, however sketchy and undetailed, provide insight into the history that has been developed from it. This essay provides a look at those events, and serves as a foundation for the Grand Sheldomar Timeline and Revision, and the related essays, written and developed with Gary Holian.
The Pre-Cataclysm Era in the Sheldomar
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It is generally accepted that humans and demi-humans first arrived in the Flanaess between five thousand and ten thousand years ago. When exactly they arrived, and who arrived first, is impossible to know, primarily because of a lack of both writing and a calendar until several centuries or more later. When written records and time keeping do appear, the earliest records are filled with half-remembered and heavily redacted oral traditions and legends, virtually all of which are intended to present the writers as having the only legitimate rights and claims in the area. Even after such records were being kept, such prejudices make any exact statements of the events prior to the Twin Cataclysms simply the best guesses of scholars, and no years should be taken as absolutes.
The Origins of the Olve
It is unknown when the Olve first reached the Flanaess. Nor is it clear if the Olve had already divided into their many sub-races when they arrived. (Indeed, there are some Olve who claim their ability to create such is a legacy of the Elder Elves.) As best as can be determined, the divisions between Grey, High, Sylvan, and Deep (Drow) Olve existed by some time between six thousand and seven thousand years ago, as a war between the Deep Olve and the others broke out at this time, and lasted several hundred years. It was the ending of this war and the founding of the Four Olven Realms of the Flanaess that is said to mark the beginning of the Olven Calendar, which has now recorded 5,053 years (as of 591 CY). As well, this war is held to mark the appearance of the Wild Olve, created some say to be able to better fight the Deep Olve.
The realm in the Sheldomar was known as Celene. The capital was in the town of Enstad to the east of the Lortmil Mountains, and the realm covered the entire Sheldomar to the Fals Gap, then along the Lortmils until they descended into the Kron Hills, through the Gnarley Forest until it reached the Nyr Dyv, along the shore to the Selintan River, and then into the Woolly Bay. The existence of the capital separated from the majority of the realm by the Lortmils defined the isolationism of the ruling Grey Olve from the beginning. They cared little for rule, and desired only to practice the Faerie Mysteries in peace, expecting their subjects, those of the other Olven sub-races, to keep things under control without disturbing them. This was impossible from the beginning, and has led to the current state of the Olve in the Sheldomar.
In an effort to fulfill the commands of their Grey Olven rulers, the High Olve established three satellite domains to the west of the Lortmils. The primary one was based at Tringlee. This domain was based in the Silverwood, which at the time covered all the area between the Lortmils and Sheldomar River, and extended as much as one hundred miles to the west in places. It served the dual purpose of coordinating the others, as well as arranging patrols in the Lortmils to prevent the humanoids dwelling within from breaking out to threaten surface settlements.
To the south, a military command was established in the Dreadwood. It is thought they originally were based in a town at the site of present day Gradsul, but that has not been proven. The Olve discovered the remnants of ancient, non-mammalian races in the south, the best known example of these being the lizardmen of the Hool Marsh. What sort of civilization they had built, and what had brought it down remains poorly known to this day. What is known is that it made the Dreadwood was the most dangerous location, and the command grew to such size that it operated independently within a short time.
To the east, another military command was established in the Dim Forest. It was based in Pregmere, and has maintained a presence there to this day. At the time, the forest covered all of Geoff, and extended south along the Javan River to the Davish River. Although considered less dangerous than the Dreadwood, the source of the trouble here is less well understood, and they have had to be content in preventing trouble from spreading rather than actually solving the problem.
[Sidebar: For those interested in using the concept of the Elder Elves from products like Gates of Firestorm Peak, the following paragraph can be used as an introduction for this section.
“According to some accounts, the Olve came to the Flanaess fleeing the destruction of the legendary civilization of the Elder Elves. This group, allegedly the progenitors of all the sub-races of Olve, had a highly advanced techno-magical society millennia before any other people, until they destroyed themselves by pushing their own researches too far. Whether this is true is impossible to know, although some adventurers claim to have discovered ruins proving these Elder Elves existed.”]
The Origins of the Dwarrow
Unlike the other races, the presence of the Dwarrows in the Flanaess has been much more limited to hills and mountains and is accepted to have occurred later than the other races. Conversely, they are very sure of where they came from, that their homeland is in the Crystalmist Mountains, and that they have slowly spread from there over the centuries. However much again goes into the realm of speculation due to the reluctance of the Dwarrows to share details of their history, specifically the origin of their written language and calendar. Most believe this is because they refuse to acknowledge that they acquired both from others due to their pride.
It is also unclear as to when the various Dwarrow sub-races appeared. The few records that have become available are lack any such distinctions, the Dwarrow apparently considering Clan and Family to be of greater significance than being of a particular sub-race. From various descriptions of individuals, most are believed to have existed by four thousand five hundred years ago.
Dwarrow settlement in the Sheldomar has been limited to two areas. In the west, the Good Hills was settled early on by Noniz, and has been a center of their power since then. In the west, Hill and Mountain Dwur became the primary colonizers of the Lortmils, extending into the Kron Hills and Drachensgrabs. They settled later, probably shortly after the Olven Wars ended, which is thought to be the root of various questions of precedence of ownership of the mines beneath the Lortmils. In later years, Celene would blame the establishment of this nation, the Peaks of Haven, for the increase of humanoids below the Lortmils, and interfering with communications between Celene and Tringlee.
The Origins of the Flan and Hobniz
Of all the groups with a claim to being the first settlers of the Flanaess, the Flan and Hobniz have the best. Both were spread nearly everywhere by the time written records began to be kept. Indeed the nature of their written language shows their great dispersion, as written Flan is an extensive syllabary intended to accommodate the wide array of dialects used by the disparate groups. Despite this long history, and probably because of their wide dispersal, they were the last to establish a unified calendar 2,741 year ago.
One often overlooked, but very critical element of this and later periods is that the Flan, and to a lesser extent the Lightfoot Hobniz, do not constitute specific sub-races. Instead, both are composed of numerous very different cultural groups that while not appearing different to outsiders or casual observers, are often more different than various Olven and Dwarrow sub-races.
Although the Flan and Hobniz have been in the Sheldomar for so long, they established no significant governments until around the time of the establishment of their calendar.
Before Flan Tracking: 5,000 to 3,000 Years Ago
With so few records available, and those belonging exclusively to the Olve and Dwarrow, most events of this period are little more than vague legends and rumors. Many epic myths are believed to date from events of this time, and are closer to truth and reality than many might suspect. Very little actual history can be traced to this time beyond what has already been noted about the establishment of the various in the Sheldomar. As the human population was so low, and barely beyond the stone age, the legendary conflicts of this time are believed to have been fought by various non-human races, perhaps including the mysterious Wind Dukes of Aaqa. In the end, their civilizations were swept away, leaving the Flanaess for the Flan and others.
The Rise of the Ur-Flan: 3,000 to 2,000 Years Ago
This millennia saw the rise of numerous powerful spell-casters among the Flan. Under their direction, the Flan began to organize on a larger scale, founding cities, and eventually establishing kingdoms throughout the Flanaess. It is thought that the Flan Tracking was established by the first city-state, and was spread to the others by the Old Faith for their inscrutable reasons. The changes wrought by these spell-casters, later called Ur-Flan by the invading Oeridians, came late to the Sheldomar, but they had an effect that lasts until this day.
The earliest significant event of this era is one almost lost in the era of myth before. Some time near the start, the Grey Olve of the Dim Forest became dissatisfied with the policy of neglect of the rulers in Enstad. At first, they demanded action, but when that was ignored, they began organizing forces on their own in an attempt to deal with the worst of the problems in the Dim Forest. The rulers of Celene felt this was a threat to their authority and ordered them to disband their forces and return for punishment. They refused, and civil war broke out. After a long conflict the rebels were defeated, and exiled to the small area now known as the Valley of the Mage. The rulers of Celene declared they were to be forgotten, and the entire incident stricken from their records and made a taboo subject among the Olve. The only records of the episode reside among the Valley Olve, and are obviously biased. As such, their very existence is considered half-legend, and the exact date of the even is unknown save that it occurred before the rise of Vecna.
Following this, a large group of Flan from the Velverdyva valley migrated into the Sheldomar. They were pastoralists, leading large herds of sheep, and worshipping Rao. The Old Faith directed their followers, by now settled agriculturalists, to oppose them. This led to years of low-scale warfare that finally ended when the leaders of the Old Faith turned to a warlord with ties to the Ur-Flan by the name of Vecna. They anointed him High King of the Sheldomar, and directed their people to follow him in defeating the newcomers.
Following his victory Vecna began to reorganize the small states of the Sheldomar, turning them into a coordinated nation to support him in his researches. It was at this time that the Great Druid of the Old Faith informed him that he was to be sacrificed in a ritual to restore the land. Feigning acceptance, Vecna allowed the ritual to proceed, but at the culminating moment, he revealed his powers, twisting the ritual, and using the power to turn himself into a lich-like creature. Slaughtering the leaders of the Old Faith, he proceeded to establish his rule over those Flan closest to him.
The Era of Vecna: 2,000 to 1,000 Years Ago
Although Vecna was one of the last of the great Ur-Flan to raise an empire, he was also one of the last to fall. For most of this millennia, he fought to maintain himself, and ruled most of the lands within 500 miles of his capital, which was near the modern day city of Shibboleth. He fought both the Old Faith and Celene, and while he could not defeat either, he was able to establish himself as the pre-eminent power of the Sheldomar. Of more significance was that he destroyed a significant portion of the Flan civilization in the Sheldomar, razing cities, and slaughtering rulers, leaving the survivors to struggle to survive in the woods, and fight amongst themselves for leadership. While he had less of an impact on the Olve, his wars increased the separation between Celene and the Olve of the Dim Forest and Dreadwood making both groups effectively autonomous, as well as planting the seeds of the disaffection that would eventually split the High Olve of Tringlee from Celene in the next millennia.
In the second half of this period Suloise colonists and refugees began crossing the Kendeen Pass, settling in the area known as the Yeomanry, and later spreading out across the area of southern Keoland, and into the Monmurg lands south of the Hool Marsh. These Firstcomers were able to take advantage of the social upheaval caused by Vecna to establish themselves over the local Flan, and set the ground for the creation of Keoland following the Twin Cataclysms.
The Beginning of Historic Times: 1,000 Years Ago
The Baklunish-Suel Wars ended with the Twin Cataclysms of the Invoked Devastation and the Rain of Colorless Fire. The migrations of the Suel into the Flanaess ended with the refugees brought by Slerotin. A group of these refugees founded the Kingdom of Keoland within the century. The Oeridian migrations continued as humanoids and Baklunish pushed them out of Ull and past the Fals Gap. The strongest group of Oeridians, the Aerdi, founded the Great Kingdom nearly 350 years after the Twin Cataclysms. The establishment of these two kingdoms marks the transition into modern recorded history.
- The concept of a conflict between Rao worshiping herders and the Old Faith was suggested by Rasgon.
- The origin of Vecna is a summary of a version created by Eric Menge.