The Southron Age
All that is known about the Southron Age is that which gives it its name: that it took place in the south. Every culture on Leng today can be traced to the south: the region now known as the Plains of Dust, as well as the southern coasts where Khazath still lies. This is where the only remaining artifacts of the earliest humans of Leng can be found. They are found amongst the ancient buried cities and crumbling ruins in the Plains of Dust, the great pyramids and weathered monuments that must once have been surrounded by gentle savannahs. Now, of course, they are surrounded by scorching desert - and only the most intrepid explorers have ventured far into the dunes.
The other remnants of the people of the south are those living in Khazath. Those living on the southern shores are said to be the oldest peoples on all of Leng, and they worship their own gods: gods which they believe were the first gods. Before the Trinity, even before the "Old Gods", were the Shedoleth, they say. They believe that these gods accompanied them on a great voyage across the ocean from the lost city of Altae, which is said to have sunk into the sea. Although they are the saviors of the human race, it is said that they felt a great sorrow for some wrong they had done. And so they interred themselves, it is said, in the Citadel of Penance. This holy site still stands to this very day in the city of Tael Leilan, and those who believe in the Shedoleth, or Custodians, believe that their gods are still sealed within.
No one knows what ended the Southron Age, scorched the Plains of Dust, and prompted the Great Exodus. Perhaps someday some clue from the desert will reveal to the world what happened to the Southron Empire, or what lies beneath the streets of Tael Leilan.
3000 - 2500 BE
- The Rise of Eridur (3000-2990 BE)
- The Theocratic Period (2950-2700 BE)
- The Crusade Period (2700-2500 BE)
2500 - 2000 BE
- The Monarchic Period (2500-2400 BE)
- The Andruith Wars (2400-2200 BE)
- The Apostasy (2200-2000 BE)
- The Searing of the Plains of Dust (2000 BE)
3000 - 2500 BE
The Rise of Eridur3000-2990 BE
By 3000 BE, the Ventari Civilisation had long since crumbled into ash - but the Andruith were stronger than ever. The towns and villages of Andruith were populous and prosperous, sending trade goods along the canals and rivers that criss-crossed the country. Even the hunter-gatherers of Khazath and the Untamed Lands were not free from their influence, for the technologies born in the heartland spread far and wide throughout southwestern Leng. There were even the beginnings of a written language - Andruan Knife-Marks, the oldest human script in all of Leng. Perhaps cities and kingdoms would have arisen naturally, in time - but the progress of human civilisation was not to progress without interruption. Long had the Andruith encroached upon the lands previously ruled only by fey spirits, and they had taken notice.
The influence of the beings that still lurked in the wilderness of these ancient times, however, was not overt but subtle. It first appeared quite by accident, in a small and desolate town named Eridur. Far from the life-giving rivers that supported major trade hubs, Eridur was a settlement constantly plagued by drought - until one fateful day, when the village elders struck a life-giving aquifer beneath the earth. To the ancients, this wondrous outpouring of water seemed like the act of a divine presence, and they fell on their knees before it. They were not entirely wrong - for this aquifer, unusually large and deep, was not the home of a god but an undine - an elemental spirit of water. In the days to come, the elders would respect and venerate their newfound god, which they named Ea. They constructed a great temple around their wells, from which flowed the irrigation channels and canals that gave the town life. By the grace of their patron god, Eridur grew larger than any other town of the Andruith, led by a council of elders and a priest-king to whom Ea spoke directly. Her magics sustained the aquifer beneath Eridur, and those of little faith needed only look to the walls of the great temple - covered in webs of steaming ice in all seasons.
So it came to pass that the first city was built. Over the course of the next decade, Eridur's influence would grow and spread across the land. Little did the town elders realise when they struck that life-giving wellspring that they had set in motion events beyond their control.
The Theocratic Period2950-2700 BE
By 2950 BE, the theocratic city-state of Eridur was growing from an upstart novelty to a looming presence in the Andruith lands. Its power and influence extended far past the streets and canals of Eridur itself; as a built-up urban center and trade hub, the elders and priest-king of Eridur only grew in power as time passed. Such a large city, home to 4000 souls, was a threatening prospect to its neighbours. It was only a matter of time, they thought, before Eridur grew jealous of the lands around it - then its armies would no longer protect the city from bandits, but ride out on missions of conquest. And the neighbours of Eridur were not the only ones to take note; other, more ephemeral forces had observed the work of the undine Ea beneath Eridur's House of the Waters. Some questioned why she would dedicate herself to the protection of mortals, but others saw the beginnings of an opportunity.
The fears of Eridur's neighbours were well-founded. The surrounding agricultural villages, which had long been vassals to Eridur in all but name, had become part of the city-state proper by 2930 BE. As they continued their expansion, two proximate and large towns - Thule and Tarsis - merged to become Tarsis-Thule, the second city-state. Between Eridur and Tarsis-Thule there were many conflicts during this period of expansion, but never outright war. Few were willing to risk angering the new god of Eridur without divine protection of their own.
It was at this point, in 2900 BE, that the other elemental spirits began to truly take notice. For while Ea had originally been little more than a protector and patron spirit for Eridur, a change had taken place as the city grew and thrived. The priest-king and his acolytes no longer merely made their offerings to the undine; they manifested powers of their own, turning the power of water into healing light that washed away wound and disease from the faithful. Slowly but surely, the spirits of the wild came to the realisation that somehow, Ea was growing in power - that, in being worshiped by mankind, she was taking on the aspect of divinity herself.
Their reaction was both swift and unpredictable. In the Andruith lands there were the seeds of a symbiotic relationship waiting to be formed. The elementals and spirits of the wild, desirous of the power that human belief could confer upon them, only needed followers. Meanwhile, the people of Andruith wanted gods of their own to protect themselves from the seemingly unstoppable expansion of the Eridur city-state. So it came to pass that the Theocratic Period began; over the course of the next 200 years, city-states would spring up in fierce competition throughout Andruith, each with their own patron protector deity. It was a time of great tension, and one in which numerous small wars were fought for territory and power.
The Crusade Period2700-2500 BE
By the end of the Theocratic Period, Andruith was rife with many city-states in fierce competition with each other. Their newfound gods, on the whole, did little to discourage their subjects from making war. More land meant more subjects; more believers, and more power. A powerful city-state is one with a strong god, one which attracts many followers. In a way, even as the priest-kings were vying for territory and influence, the gods they served were also fighting - for mortal souls and devotion.
The Crusade Period, which lasted for 200 years, was a time when the tension and conflict between the city-states of Andruith came to a head. Wars were fought and armies clashed; when a city was taken by invaders, they would tear down the temple of the resident god and convert their new subjects - sometimes by the bronze points of their spears, if need be. Urged on by the priesthood, a kind of religious fervor began to gather behind these wars of expansion. They were no longer fighting for more land, more power, more wealth: they were fighting for the gods.
The wars became more brutal. Though the gods of the Andruith were fundamentally self-interested, the city-states with similar deities formed tenuous alliances for their own mutual gain. Although each god remained associated with a specific city as patron, rough pantheons begin to arise amongst these selfish gods. By the end of the Crusade Period, three major factions had appeared amongst the Andruith: the Altans, the Nammu and the Myrukol - serving the pantheons of nature, water and fire respectively. These factions had fought each other to a standstill, and finally settled for a time and established wary borders. By 2500 BE, the three factions of the Andruith were happy to establish wary borders and focus on internal politics over warmongering.
2500 - 2000 BE
The Monarchic Period2500-2400 BE
A century passed after the end of the Crusade Period of Andruith. The plains had been divided up into three alliance, but each was tenuous. Three kingdoms were established, but the central question remained: who would rule them? Previously, the alliances had been an ad-hoc assemblage banding together over shared zealotry for the sake of self-preservation. But now that an uneasy peace had settled over the land, the city-states began to look to each other and wonder what would come next. They began to think of strategy - and this was a time when the men of the north became distrustful and jealous.
The land of Andruith, which had once held the promise of plenty and opportunity to the tribes of the south, now seemed like a place of war and treachery. Many of those in the south pointed to the new gods of the Andruith as the root cause of this evil - that men and women who had once coexisted peacefully had become obsessed with earning ever more power and influence. Instead of subsistence or even prosperity, they now strove for subjugation, lasting glory and a legacy.
In the Kingdom of Nammu, power was divided equally. Each of the priest-kings of the city-states retained their title, and together formed a council which made all decisions. Although their gods were in many ways aligned, however, there were many ways in which they differed. Strong disagreement between the rulers of Nammu was frequent, though none dared to risk the wrath of the others by declaring open war. Nonetheless, sabotage and subterfuge between servants of the various kings was common.
In the Kingdom of Myrukol, power was far more centralised. Myrukol was composed of far more city-states than Nammu, small and weak ones without much power of their own. They banded together for their own preservation under the banner of Marad, a powerful city-state that was dedicated to the fire-god known as Myrukol. It did not take long after the end of the Crusade Period for Marad to establish rulership for itself.
It was the Kingdom of Alta, however, that would end the Monarchic Period. For while the others were establishing their bases of power, Alta remained as fractious as ever. The city-states, unable to agree or work together, began to fragment - the wisdom of the alliance forgotten in the wake of feuds and vendettas. Many of these tensions were centered on the city-state of Alta, which sat on emerald mines that enriched it far beyond those around. By 2400 BE, civil war had waeakend Alta enough that Myrukol and Nammu could resist temptation no longer.
The Andruith Wars2400-2200 BE
By approximately 2400 BE, Myrukol and Nammu's leaders had come to a realisation. Alta was unstable, falling apart at the seams - and was ripe for the taking. Whoever could conquer their foe would unseat the delicate balance, this much was obvious - Andruith was poised to become an empire. The only question was who would seize it first. So it came to pass that the Andruith Wars began.
For the next two centuries, war ravaged the once-pleasant fields. Most of the developments that occurred during this period are lost to history, and not worth mentioning even in this "god's eye" view of events. Suffice to say that by the time a century had passed, Myrukol, Alta and Nammu were no more. The boundaries and allegiances had blurred too much for such names to have any meaning any longer - there was only the Andruan Empire, and various factions desperately fighting to gain control of it.
A great many people fled north during this period, into lands they had never dared brave before. Such was the horror that even the tales - old legends, by this point - of dark spirits in the north was not enough to dissuade settlers from venturing forth. Cities crumbled, atrocities were committed. Creatures just now filtering in from the north joined gleefully in the conflict - creatures which humans would never have tolerated in times gone by now fought alongside them. Orcs, goblins, bugbears, ogres. As the people of Andruith cast aside all that had made them great and descended into meaningless war, there was little now to distinguish them from these creatures.
The Apostasy2200-2000 BE
By 2200 BE, Andruith was unrecognisable; humans had fallen further from grace than they ever could on their own. They were driven mad by false gods, far different from the Custodians who had once protected them. Pitted against each other like war dogs, they lived in a wolf age, shedding blood in a manic fey frenzy. But by the year 2200, their human followers were too far gone to be of much use to their masters.
So it came to pass that, their servants cowering in fear, the gods of Andruith rose up in the flesh. Empowered by the belief of their followers, bellowing with words that crossed miles and standing like titans above the land, they made war in Andruith. For 200 years they made war. Mountains were crushed, oceans cracked like clay bowls. Flame ravaged the sky and scorched the land. Andruith, once so fair and green, became a place of burning stone and vicious lightning.
This period - about which less is known to scholars than any other from the Southron Age - is one where the gods themselves made war on the fields of Leng. Its effects on the once-proud peoples of Andruith were devastating; to them, it seemed as though the Apostasy would never end. Just as their fey patrons had driven humans mad, their lust for the humans' devotion had wrought just as much havoc on the gods. It seemed as though the balance of nature permanently and irrevocable unseated, and could never be restored. And then it was.
The Searing of the Plains of Dust2000 BE
The balance in Andruith was restored and the Apostasy ended by the most horrific means imaginable: an event that scholars have come to call The Searing. The Custodians, disregarding their oath to interfere no longer in the affairs of mortals, acted openly for the first and last time since the construction of the Citadel of Penance. Dain of the Sunrise, leader of the Custodians, came to the Plains of Dust alone - and for the first time in nearly 2,000 years, unleashed his power upon the world.
The effects were catastrophic. The false fey gods, making war upon the plains, were caught by surprise by the searing light that washed over the land. Lakes dried up and armies were turned to ash. So it came to pass the the once-fertile plains of Andruith were scorched, and the harsh desert now known as the Plains of Dust came to be.
In the aftermath of the Searing, only remnants remained - remnants of men, remnants of gods. The surviving humans were scattered across the Plains of Dust, leaderless and without recourse in the bitter desert. By necessity, they were forced to adopt the nomadic ways of their ancestors, fleeing north to escape the relentless heat of the sand. As for the gods - those who survived the Searing were those who had held themselves aloof from the wars of power and influence. They had been content to abide in their own extraplanar realms and guide their charges from afar instead of fighting wars on the ground. These were gods such as Ea, Molyb, Nimbul and Vashidin - those now known as the "Old Gods".
With the Searing of the Plains of Dust, the Southron Age came to an end.