The Little Oerid Migrations
Date: Wed, March 28, 2007
Topic: Heretic's Nest
Did you know that some Oerid tribes reached the Flanaess long before the Great Migrations, and even before Vecna’s reign? Heresy, you say? I care not! I can feel the truth in my bones… Innkeeper, another glass of that divine Keoish brandy to wet my gullet before I regale these fine people with my controversial thoughts concerning the “Little Oerid Migrations”!
The Little Oerid Migrations
It is a little known fact among learned folk in the Flanaess today that well before the time of the Great Migrations, a few small and adventurous tribes of Oerid nomads had migrated and spread, in a very gradual and sporadic fashion, from northeastern Ull and Ket through the Bramblewood Forest or the Banner Hills and into the lands that now constitute Bissel, Gran March, and Veluna. One might think of this era as the “Little Oerid Migrations,” and it probably would have occurred during the century or so preceding Vecna’s ascendancy as High King of the Sheldomar (circa -750s OR, or -1400s CY). These migrations likely did not continue on a larger scale or in a sustained fashion because in those days, Ull and Ket must have seemed sufficiently spacious, hospitable and prosperous as to not require deeper probing into the monster-infested depths of the Bramblewood Forest. Few Oerids (or Flan even, save for the hardiest tribesmen) had dared to venture into those tangled woods, and fewer still to travel far enough through its endless leagues to find its southeastern edge and the verdant plains and rolling hills beyond. Likewise, the “funnel” of the Banner Hills left migrants vulnerable to giant raids and attacks from fearsome aerial creatures. Until the Baklunish-Suloise Wars broke out around 160 OR (-480s CY), life in Ull and Ket was relatively stable and there consequently was little incentive to brave great dangers in order to travel further east, especially since no civilizations worth speaking of were thought to exist beyond the great forest.
That having been said, a few tribes led by brave, foolhardy, ambitious, divinely inspired, and/or delusional leaders did attempt to break through the Bramblewood Forest and the Banner Hills—some with greater success than others. In the majority of cases, tribes were slaughtered by the denizens of the forest and highlands, the few survivors fleeing back to their homeland without ever looking back. The Oerids that did survive the journey never wanted to undertake it back in the other direction, and therefore were considered slain or vanished by kinsfolk in their native territories. The tales that grew from these early, “unsuccessful” forays discouraged other Ullo-Kettish Oerids from trying their luck in the east. If they had, then pre-Baklunish-Suloise Wars “late starters” would have had to contend with the growing might of Vecna’s legions upon escaping the wilderness. It indeed is possible that some Flan refugees (including the hypothetical and controversial “assimilated Oerids” discussed later in this work) who later fled the Whispered One’s tyranny might have successfully accomplished the arduous trek back to present day Ket or even Ull, warning the westerners of the dark empire that had arisen to the east. Aside from sending out the odd scouting party, the Ullo-Kettish Oerid rulers of the time would have thought it wise to shore up their defences rather than charge through the woods at an unseen and unknown foe of immense power and evil. That cautious approach seems to have paid off, for the Whispered One’s armies never turned their attention toward the lands beyond the Bramblewood Forest.
It has been estimated by men far more learned than I that as few as 100 and as many as 3,000 Oerids of different tribes might have crossed the Bramblewood Forest and Banner Hills during the Little Migrations. The precise length of time over which these migrations would have taken place, and exactly how many tribes might have made this early journey, remain the subject of speculation. Although the tenor of early Oerid-Flan relations varied by tribe, most of the Oerid bands that settled in the vicinity of present day Bissel, Veluna, and Gran March eventually found acceptance among the region’s indigenous peoples. Initial contact led to trade, which then led to cooperation in other areas, and ultimately to intermarriage. While some Flan tribes were wary of the newcomers and their strange gods, which were viewed as a threat to the Old Faith in some parts of the Sheldomar Valley, others were more tolerant of the migrants’ beliefs and practices.
Even though several generations of post-Little Migration Oerids eventually were absorbed by their Flan hosts, the latter also came to accept beliefs which had been introduced by the newcomers. For example, it is rumoured that the Flan King Welnarek IV—who reportedly ruled over the Mara confederacy and the forgotten “Kingdom” of Burgred when Vecna came to power in the Sheldomar during the millennium preceding the Great Migrations—converted to the worship of Heironeous, Oeridian god of righteous warfare, during his valiant but ultimately doomed struggle against the Whispered One. The most compelling evidence for an Oeridian connection among the Mara surfaced when the Knights of the March allegedly discovered defiled iconography depicting scenes consistent with Heironean theology amid the ruined chapel of Castle Overlook in the southern Lorridges, a stronghold the Knights had wrested from renegade Ur-Flan necromancers during the taming of the Gran March approximately seven centuries ago, and which, it is said, originally had been constructed by King Welnarek and his followers.
The iconography is thought to have dated from the king’s era.
Yet as the centuries wore on, successive generations of Oerid-descended children would have gradually lost their linguistic and cultural heritage. With the exception of the rare tribute paid in secret to an adopted Oeridian god in times of crisis, all traces of Oeridian culture in the pre-Great Migrations Sheldomar faded during Vecna’s thousand-year reign. Its one-time adherents either bowed to the Arch-Lich and accepted his spiritual order, perished while practicing their traditions with defiance, or became fully assimilated into Flan culture to the point where they had little recollection of their ancestral roots. Thus, by the time the Baklunish-Suloise Wars erupted and the Great Migrations began, there was little aside from a few Flan elders’ tales to suggest that there ever had been prior contact and exchanges between Flan and Oerids. Only desperation to escape being trapped between the forces of two clashing magic-wielding empires and to avoid being slaughtered by their hordes of rampaging humanoid mercenaries, supplemented by prophetic dreams of vast, sparsely populated lands far to the east convinced the rest of the Ullo-Kettish Oerids to commence their hazardous and well known mass migration through the Fals Gap… and the rest, as they say, is history.