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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 human culture on Leng today can be traced to 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 now alive 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.

The Ripple

About 9,000 BE

Few of the creatures we call Fey now exist openly on Morus - they are entities of another time, mostly restricted to small and diminutive specimens such as pixies or near-mindless monsters of legendary status. They have, for the most part, departed from Leng; what remains of their once-sprawling demesnes have been inherited by their elven successors. In the Age of Mysteries, however, the Fey ruled supreme over Leng. Despite everything else for which it is known, many associate the first departure of the Fey with the beginning of the Southron Age - an event known to elven scholars as "The Ripple".

The name comes from a metaphor for what exactly happened to the Fey of Leng. The pristine, unbroken wilderness of primeval Leng is akin to a pool of water. The mortal refugees who came to it from the south are akin to a handful of stones cast into that pool. Though they were small compared to the vastness of the Fey wilderness, their presence set in motion an inexorable chain of events - a slow departure that continues even to this day.

The Humans

By 9000 BE or so, the mortal presence on Leng had very much made itself felt. In the south, the Fey had contended fiercely with the Custodians, making war on them as the patrons of humanity carved out a place for their charges to inhabit. The power of the Custodians was like nothing they had encountered before in terms of sheer power, and they were driven back mercilessly. Much as it would have confused the people of Khazath to know this, many of the Fey of this time were as fearful of human lands as the humans were of the Fey wilderness. This is likely one of the reasons that human settlers found colonising the Andruith Fields - now called the Plains of Dust - so easy.

Having withdrawn, the Fey looked warily into the edges of human lands. The Custodians may have departed, but they had learned the humans were unpredictable and full of surprises in ways completely different from their own inscrutable and capricious natures. This is not to say they left the humans alone entirely - far from the case. Whether through stubbornness or curiosity, many Fey did not flee into the vastness of their domains when the Custodians were doing their work. They stayed, either beneath the notice of humans or in places where men feared to tread - even as today, there are forests and marshes that all know are bewitched by the fair folk.

In the end, the Fey were kept from destroying humanity by a mix of wariness for the Custodians and their own ineffable curiosity for what these strange new interlopers might do. They bided their time in the wilderness beyond what the Custodians had prepared for humankind - allowing no further encroachment, but suffering the mortals to live their lives in the lands now called Blackreach, Khazath, and the Plains of Dust.

The Halflings

In the land now known as Nevermoor, halflings found themselves in a much different situation. Without the likes of the Custodians to protect them, they were small candle-flames in the guttering wind of the alien Fey. Though many perished, it was the halfling knack for remaining quiet and hidden that helped them to survive - and won the kinship of many similar beings amongst the Fey, such as pixies and brownies. Slowly but surely, they made their own niche in the gentle fields and hidden hills of eastern Leng.

Even in the present day, elves are very fond of halflings. Given their ability to vanish beneath the notice of the "tall folk", there are many who believe that the halflings are closer to Fey than the humans they originated from.

The Invaders

The third force to confound the Fey denizens of Leng came not from the south at all, but from the north. Ever since the war between the Aesir and the frost giants, Nordmaar had been a place inhabited both by norsemen and by the monstrous creatures left behind by that war. Separated from Leng by the Ocean of Winter, both Fey and Norse alike were blisfully unaware of each other's presence - until the fimbulwinter.

It is not clear what caused the north of Morus to suddenly grow drastically colder, even amongst those with knowledge of such things. It is possible that whatever forces were unleashed by the creation of the Boiling Ocean had an indirect effect elsewhere, causing the north pole to grow far colder than it had been before. Other claim that the corpse of Thrym, left for dead by the Aesir, still lives - and that the fabled king of the jotunn was responsible for the icy grip of endless winter.

Whatever the reason, the denizens of the north were greatly affected by the descending cold. The Norsemen of Nordmaar were least perturbed - their land had been the most temperate of northern lands. Though it grew colder and harsher, they were a hardy people and had no trouble adapting. The Frozen Wastes to the north were another matter, however. They grew so frigid that nothing could survive there, and the monstrous descendants of Thrym's armies were driven out.

Some invaded Nordmaar, causing a cataclysm for Norsemen that nearly wiped them out. Others sailed crude boats to the northern shores of Leng, where they thrived in the warm climate. It was these that gave the Fey more trouble than anything else, growing and driving the Fey further and further back with each passing year. Even to this day, the northern reaches of Leng are known as the "Monstrous Lands", and are a desolate and dangerous place for any to traverse.

The Legend of Andruith

About 8,000 BE

A full millennium after the end of the Great Migration - and, in turn, the end of the Age of Mysteries - the plains of Andruith were the most densely populated human lands on Leng. Though Andruith came to be known as a treacherous desert land (termed "the Plains of Dust") in later times, it is said that this was not the case during the Southron Age. To the contrary, Andruith was said to be a lush paradise prepared for mankind by the Custodians - a place of rolling hills, gentle valleys and sparkling rivers. The small 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. It is from rare finds of ancient artifacts inscribed with this rudimentary language that anything is known of Andruith at all. The picture they paint is one that confuses even the most dedicated of scholars, for they are often conflicting and make little sense. What lore has arisen from careful study of these artifacts, however, tells a dire tale indeed - the tale of the Searing of the Plains of Dust.

The Warden of Eridur

According to inscriptions upon its ancient temple's walls, Eridur was an ancient human settlement, and a poor one at that. Far from the life-giving rivers that supported the major trade settlements of Andruith, Eridur was constantly plagued by drought and dry fields. This went on until one fateful day, it is said, when a humble goatherder 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.

As new life flowed from the spring of Eridur, the wise men and women of the village gave thanks to their protector and venerated her, naming her 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 in need of proof needed only look at the clay walls of the great temple - they were said to be covered in webs of steaming ice in all seasons.

So it came to pass that the first city was built. Little did the town's elders realise when they struck that life-giving wellspring that they had set in motion events beyond their control.