Elfstone Campaign Setting:
History of the Seven Realms
 
 
By: Arjan Wardekker

The early days of civilization on the planet Alcarin were full of turmoil. The deities and elemental forces had shaped the world and its inhabitants in a relatively short time, compared to ordinary evolution, and were still busy with these works when the first sentient races developed. Banding together for protection and more efficient hunting, the first small tribal societies emerged. These tribes were often in conflict, due to competition over resources and the fact that some races considered the others to be a fine source of food.

The rise and fall of Azmar
The first recorded civilization that developed and proved stable over a longer period of time was the Elven nation of Azmar. Located deep within the Ormathor Jungle (see World Map & Geography), it developed from the cooperation of several Elven tribes (ca. -3500 to -2500 CR). Its success is usually attributed to the abundance of resources in the region, the mobility of the tribes, and the development of communication techniques that could relay warnings and other information quickly over large distances in the jungle environment. Azmar developed into an advanced society over the ages, although it remained relatively tribal, mobile and in harmony with the natural world. It was the first civilization to develop the intellectual art of wizardry and, in its golden age, included many other races besides Elves. The high days of Azmar were a time of peace, prosperity, and harmony. Ancient Elven texts sometimes refer to this period as the Time of Flowers, the springtime of the world. While few physical remains of the civilization still exist, the influence on Elven cultural, magical and religious traditions is significant.
The downfall of Azmar commenced when its influence began to extend beyond the Ormathor Jungle and conflicts ensued with the surrounding tribes. While only a minor threat at first, the problem escalated when a young and ambitious barbarian named Alben rose to power among the northern tribes. The Human hero obtained The Deep Ember (see The Elfstones), which he allegedly pulled from the depths of Flamelake. Wielding the artifact, he assumed leadership of his tribe and assimilated many other tribes. Few details are known about the fall of Azmar (ca. -1650 to -1600 CR), but the legends note that Alben led an assault upon the nation and, with the artifact granting his shamans and warriors unprecedented power, defeated it. Some scholars suggest that betrayal led to the civilization's downfall, referring to the world's fall to evil in the ancient legend of Coronar's Mirror. This passage however may also refer to the rise of Morrogh Ambath.
Following the fall of Azmar, Istomir is said to have led the remaining Elven tribes to The Mystwards in the south, while Hamgar led the Dwarves to the northeast, and Zaran led the Humans over the Great Ocean to the East Continent. What happened to the refugees is unknown. They may have played a role in the rise of humanoids to more prominent positions in the then Dragon dominated region of Tholenfold. However, the only known remnants of Azmar are the Elves of The Mystwards and Minas-Elen, and part of the Human population of Cardáre.

Narre'al and Morrogh Ambath
Alben forged the tribes of the West Continent into a large and powerful empire, which he named Nassar, and founded the city of Middon-Nassar (currently Middon-Nasár) (ca. -1600 CR). Following his death, he ascended to become Ethelidon, God of Strength (see Religion & Pantheon). The empire lasted for several generations, after which an internal conflict led to its fall. Experimentation with Azmarrian magic and artifacts was common among Nassar's wizards. Some practitioners corrupted it and used it for darker purposes. In particular, the conjuration of underworldly beings and the animation of the dead through necromancy gained popularity among certain groups. Many others resented these magics, which manipulate other creatures to further the mage's ambitions. The critics posed that these practices conflicted with Alben's ideals of strength. The debate eventually split the empire into two new nations. The Human warrior Herrond Fireblade exiled Nassar's emperor for failing to take a stand against the necromancers, and claimed the throne and The Deep Ember (ca. -1000 CR). The necromancer Nhzaerrim assumed rulership over the darker groups. Nhzaerrim moved to the east, where he founded the city of Arquen (-979 CR) and claimed the lands of what later became Khemen and the Fields of Many Eyes. Herrond moved quickly to reclaim the territory, but the attack failed miserably. In secret, Nhzaerrim's research had uncovered The Voidstone, another Elfstone. Using this artifact of destruction, he cloaked the battlefield in darkness and animated the dead within several miles. Half of Herrond's army was destroyed, those remaining fled the battlefield. After securing his seat of power, the necromancer declared himself king over the new kingdom of Morrogh Ambath (-966 CR). Herrond withdrew for the time being, and renamed the empire to Narre'al (-964 CR).

In the following years, Morrogh Ambath kept expanding. The kingdom eventually included the Ormathor Jungle, Black Coast and the eastern parts of the Northern Kingdoms, in addition to Khemen and the Fields of Many Eyes. Narre'al managed to maintain its present territory and the western parts of the Northern Kingdoms. The balance of power between the two nations settled after some time, although skirmishes continued. This relative calm allowed for development and exploration. Both realms discovered the East Continent (Narre'al -535 CR). Herrond learned of the Azmarrian refugees in its northern regions, but did not take action against them. Historical texts suggest that the refugees were under the domain of another powerful realm and mention a third Elfstone, most likely referring to the Realm of the Gods at Olympeak and The Stone of Divinity. Narre'al sent expeditions into Tholenfold, the Khrator Plains, and the Eastlands. The first two expeditions were abandoned, due to the high risks - several scouting parties were reportedly devoured by Tholenfoldi dragons - and few results of immediate interest. In the Eastlands however, several colonies were established and trading relations were developed (-466 to -397 CR).

Little is known of Morrogh Ambath's explorations, until the settlement of De'erech Nesh by the Dark Elves (ca. -350 to -300 CR), who were part of the kingdom in those days. The Dark Elves had found tunnels leading to the island from the West Continent. Half a century later, they developed a strong interest in the other islands of the Nentis archipelago, evolving quickly from exploration to conquest. It is believed that some discovery sparked this sudden interest, perhaps concerning the magic in the area, another Elfstone, or some other magical or powerful secret. At the time of its invasion, the Nentis archipelago was home to a diverse array of tribes and cults that had few dealings with those beyond their own island. While the lack of united resistance allowed Morrogh Ambath to progress without heavy losses or large setbacks, the fragmentation and the region's powerful shamanic magics turned the conquest into a long campaign.

The awakening of the East Continent
The emperor of Narre'al resented the steadily growing influence of his enemy on the East Continent and felt his trading colonies threatened. In order to secure its interests in the region, Narre'al sent its legions to 'protect' the Eastlands (-176 CR). They met fierce opposition from the regional lords, but managed to overwhelm them after a decade. Their hold over the region did not last long, however. In secret, the dragons and humanoids of Tholenfold had forged an alliance, to counter what they perceived as a threat growing south of their lands. After joining their magical forces, the Tholenfoldi had uncovered the Feather Crystal; the Elfstone of Air. Using this newfound power, they teleported large hosts of dragonriders to the Eastlands and overthrew the occupying forces within the year (-147 CR).

While the events on the mainland had removed a powerful enemy for Morrogh Ambath, they had replaced it with an unpredictable one. In its attempts to establish a loyal military and civilian presence on the many islands, the kingdom made liberal use of necromantic magics. The necromancers animated not only the fallen, but turned the living populations of entire villages into undead. Similar atrocities were committed on the West Continent, were Nhzaerrim, who had since risen to lichdom, was struggling to keep control over the kingdom's huge and widespread territory. During these harsh and violent years, the last three Elfstones were uncovered. The Blue Pearl found its way into the hands of the Nentisi resistance, and the Granite Cube was obtained by slaves of Morrogh Ambath in the Khemen region. The Elves first wielded the Crystal of Light. Many believe that they had obtained it centuries earlier, but had hidden it for use at an opportune moment.
Over the course of several decades, the fires of war spread across the world. The Elves and Nentisi joined forces and lured Morrogh Ambath into invading a northern island; current Sill-Morrogh (-104 CR). The invasion fleet was undone by a sudden, powerful storm. A considerable force survived, but was defeated in a bloody battle on the island itself. Joint efforts by Nentis, the Elves and Tholenfold removed the Morrogh Ambians from Nentis in subsequent years. Only on De'erech Nesh, the Dark Elves maintained their hold. When news of the defeat finally filtered through to the dark kingdom's beleaguered slaves on the West Continent, they rose in rebellion (-52 CR). After an Elfstone-induced earthquake razed the towers and strongholds of their masters to the ground, the slaves took control of the capital city of Arquen. Nhzaerrim was slain in the event and the remaining necromancers fled south. An effort by Nentis to wipe them out failed, as their fleet was ravaged by plague at the Black Coast (-51 CR). The remnants of Morrogh Ambath however, went into hiding and vanished as an open power in the affairs of the world. Attempting to take advantage, Narre'al invaded the former kingdom, but the slaves withstood them and established the kingdom of Khemen (-50 CR).

Present day
After the turbulent early days on the planet Alcarin, the balance of power subsided when a peace treaty was signed in the city of Cardáre (0 CR). Of the seven main powers in the world, the "Seven Realms", four have established a political territory: the empire of Narre'al, the theocracy of Nentis, and the kingdoms of Tholenfold and Khemen. The realm of Morrogh Ambath lies silent and hidden in the dark southern badlands. Legend has it - correctly - that the necromancers brought Nhzaerrim's body with them and entombed it with such sorceries that his spirit remains, trapped between death and undeath. The "Realm of the Gods" centres at the Olympeak, a hub and pilgrimage site, but expresses its power all over the world. The "Realm of Light" - the Elves and other powers of good - resides in various locations. Their most pronounced presence is in The Mystwards, where many Elven and Fey people dwell, the Elven kingdom of Minas-Elen, and the city-state of Cardáre, the seat of the Order of the Horn of Valor. While incidents and skirmishes occur at times, these powers have remained stable to the present day.

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