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New Belcadiz Theory

by Marco Dalmonte

So anyway, with the help of my friends over the Italian Mystara Boards I devised a new theory that COULD explain the Belcadiz's origins as well as their Spanish culture and their influence over the Ispans. Get ready for the trip, cause this is somewhat weird.

When Ordana created the elves, she did not put them all in Evergrun. Instead, after they had grown up enough to be self-sufficient, she placed them in three different locations on Mystara, to create three different elven cultures and see how they fared:
1. Evergrun (island off the western coasts of Davania, now obliterated)
2. Davania (in the Lost Valley region)
3. Skothar (north of Blackmoor, current polar opening)

This is the break-up of the current elven clans' origins according to this theory:
1. Evergrun: Feadiel, Mealidil, Red Arrow, Longrunner, Grunalf, Erendyl, Truedyl (Gentle Folk), Chossum, Callarii, Ee'aar, Meditor, Verdier, Vyalia, Sheyallia, Genalleth, Icevale, Shiye, Trueflower, Blacklore, unnamed clans of Savage Coast, Gelbalf*, Polador*, Celebryl*, Felestyr*, Schattenalf*, Atziann's clan*
2. Davania: Belcadiz (+unnamed clans of the Savage Baronies, if needs be), Hatwa
3. Skothar: Blackmoor Elves (I don't remember their clan name)

* these six clans have spawned the shadowelves

Now, all these three elven civilisations grew up separately, totally independent of one another and unbeknownst to their brethren. This shaped their cultures differently, including a difference in the cultural and social habits as well as in their language.

Unfortunately, all of the Blackmoor elves have been destroyed in the cataclysm that was the Great Rain of Fire, and we have very scant info about them. We do however know that they were fairly reclusive and highly skilled in magic, a common enough trait for all the elven races. We do not know what elven dialect they spoke.

About the Evergrun elves we do know A LOT. Bear in mind however, that these elves have spread throughout the globe in the following 4 millennia after the cataclysm, and they have thereby altered their old habits and dialect, although they still share common roots which have remained strong.

And then we come to the Davanian elves. They have probably always had a "flamenco" attitude, and the Belcadiz are the only surviving clan that can still bear with pride their heritage. Their clan and personal names also suggests that the Belcadiz tongue may possibly have already had many "Spanish" words, despite being elvish.

After the Great Rain of Fire, the southern elves migrated from the now lost isle of Evergrun to Grunland (the south-western region of Davania, currently part of what has been named Vulcania) and had to adapt to a harsher life, where the Blackmoor tech started to fail and they were divided into two factions: Returnists and Blackmoorites.
Likewise, the abrupt change in the planet's axis had severely affected the life of those elves living in the Lost Valley, who experienced a general change of climate and an increasingly increase of seismic activity, as well as the alarming eruption of volcanic mountains in their area.

IN BC 2700 Ilsundal the Wise convinces his allies to leave Grunland which is steadily becoming colder and less hospitable, and to move northwards, following the ancient trading roads of the Blackmoorian empire, to find their long lost brethren who had settled in an immense forest near Blackmoor (likely the Midland Forest) some 800 years before (not knowing that they had been almost all annihilated by the GRoF and the survivors had dug into the earth becoming the ancestors of the shadowelves).
Ilsundal's migration took westwards, following Davania's western coastline up to the Addakian Sound.
After a while, in BC 2500, another leader decided to follow Ilsundal's example and leave the dying Blackmoorites of Grunland alone with their folly. The second migration took another route eastwards, and they eventually found the Lost Valley, where Belcadiz and Hatwa were fighting hard for survival. The Belcadiz were convinced by the Grunland elves that their land was as doomed as old Evergrun given the threatening signs they had witnessed in the past 500 years, and after a long squabble with the Hatwa, the followers of Belcadiz left their ancient homeland to travel along with the Grunland elves, looking for a better place to settle. These elves migrated then along the central part of Davania, and finally arrived at the Addakian Sound. After they crossed it, they met Ilsundal's migration and the two groups melded to brave the Izondian Deep and reach Brun on ocean-going vessels crafted by the best elven shipwrights (clan Meditor, Shiye and Sheyallia).
When they reached the Immortals' Arm, it became clear that something was amiss, because the old maps didn't match. Ee'aars chose to stay behind and left Ilsundal first.
After travelling across the Savage Coast, some other clans left Ilsundal either because they found a pleasant enough home (Savage Coast and Serpent Peninsula -see unnamed clans and Sheyallia) or because they argue with Ilsundal over his final destination and prefer to follow another route (Meditor, Verdier and Vyalia).
Later, Ilsundal's migration reaches the Highlands of Glantri and the forests of Wendar, where it stops for a while. Here Ilsundal discovers the secret of the Rainbow Bridge in Wendar, and together with some loyalist clans (Feadiel, Mealidil, Longrunner, Grunalf, Erendyl, Chossum, Callarii and Shiye) he uses the magical pathway to reach the other side of the continent, where he finally settles in the Sylvan Realm in BC 2200. The other clans (Truedyl, Genalleth, Icevale, Belcadiz, Schattenalf) remain in the Highlands until the tragic events of BC 1700.
Note that Atziann's clan also resurfaces around BC 1900 in the same area, but never has contacts with his neighbours.

So here's the breakdown of the migrations so far:
BC 2700 (Ilsundal): Feadiel, Mealidil (+Red Arrow), Longrunner, Grunalf, Erendyl, Gentle Folk, Chossum, Callarii, Shiye (+Trueflower), Ee'aar.
BC 2500 (unknown, likely Enoreth): Genalleth, Icevale, Schattenalf, Meditor, Verdier, Vyalia, Sheyallia

In BC 1700 the elves living in the Broken Lands (most likely Atziann's clan, since it was the only one completely annihilated) find a relic of Blackmoor and tinker with it (probably recognising its value and use, they try to restart it but alter its critical conditions) and eventually it explodes, creating another nuclear winter that completely destroys the ecology of the Broken Lands and threatens all living beings of Glantri, Ethengar, northern Darokin and even Wendar. In order to escape the radiations and the GRoF syndrome, many of the elves take refuge underground: Icevale and Schattenalf will later emerge in the Hollow World, while the Truedyl clan emerges in the woods of the Five Shires and becomes the Gentle Folk.

The Belcadiz clan, however, does not take the same road, and instead tries to use the same pathway that help Ilsundal leave the area some 500 years before: they try the Rainbow Path... only to emerge on a tropical island south of the Sea of Thanegioth, and precisely the second largest isle east of the Isle of Dread.

A little note about the Rainbow Path. According to CM7, it was created by a long forgotten immortal many centuries before Mealiden uses it to reach the Known World.
My theory is that is was created by none other than Ninsun, the first Oltec to achieve immortality, as part of her path of the Paragon. The Oltecs originate from that area between the Broken Lands and Sind, and the Azcans were indeed an Oltec tribe, if you remember. So if the Oltecs developed a worldwide magical transportation means like the Rainbow Path, this could explain:
1. why the Oltecs and Azcans are so obsessed with astronomical calendar (remember that the coordinates for Rainbow Path destinations can be determined only by looking at the star map!)
2. why the Oltecs were so widespread in the world before the cataclysm, despite not being famous for their shipbuilding or seafaring skills!
This means that once the Oltecs are annihilated by the GRoF, the elves come and find their writings in the Broken Lands area, and when they are finally able to decipher them Ilsundal uses their runes to call the power of the Rainbow Path and travel across Brun. The same goes with the Belcadiz clan, but their destinations are different because of the different astronomical dates when it is used.

This leaves the Belcadiz stranded atop this tropical island, and they try to adapt to their new lifestyle for the first century, building new houses, planting crops and tending animals.
In the following centuries (BC 1600-BC 1000) the Belcadiz start to prowl the seas and discover other islands of the archipelago, meeting the Tanagoro and Makai already living here (the first are descendants of settlers that came here from Yavdlom in BC 2100, while the Makai are descendants of those who fled from Davania after the Great Rain of Fire and eventually settled the isles of Ierendi). They also discover that another powerful and threatening race dwells in the main island of the region: the kopru. The two races clash for supremacy, with the kopru trying to dominate the elves in order to reassert their power over the region. Unfortunately, the elves are far superior, and together with the help of the Tanagoro and the Makai, they finally are able to free most of the tribes living in the Thanegioth archipelago from the kopru's yoke. BC1100 marks the fall of the last vestiges of the once powerful kopru's empire, and the alliance of the Belcadiz with the Tanagoro and the Makai.
From this alliance and relationship, the Belcadiz create the Secret Craft of Witchcraft, a melting pot of elvish sorcery, Tanagoro voodoo and Makai animistic rituals.

After defeating the kopru menace and reducing their influence just to a small area of the Isle of Dread and the depths of the seas, the Belcadiz and all of the inhabitants of the Thanegioth Archipelago have to face another threat in BC 1000: the Behemoth Awakens. For unknown reasons (some rumours say it is conjured by the vengeful kopru or by the evil devilfishes, others say it simply awakens after an earthquake opens his lair, other sages simply think it's a punishment sent by the immortals) a colossal beast emerges from the abyss of the Sea of Dread and begins to attack sailors and fishers, severely limiting the sailing opportunities of the islanders. The Belcadiz try with all their might to stop the beast, but they only experience heavy losses and finally retreat in their island, hoping that the Behemoth will leave the region sooner or later.

During the same period, the Traldar fleet led by Milen reaches the Davanian coasts, but it is assaulted by the Behemoth and forced to sail upriver to avoid him. They finally settle in the heart of Davania, and after losing their king to the beast, they are so deathly afraid of the open sea that decide to carve their new homeland into the forests of northern Davania, avoiding the coastlines at all costs.

Some years later, the first Nithian vessels find the Davanian coasts, and build the first settlement next to current days Raven Scarp, without meeting the Behemoth at all. After a couple of years, another Nithian fleet arrives loaded with Neathar and Antalian slaves from the conquered Northern Reaches, but this time the Behemoth strikes. The Nithian Colony in Davania is besieged, any ship sent by the motherland meets its doom at the beast's jaws, and the Nithians are forced to retreat upriver as much as the Milenians had done ten years before. When Nithia stops sending reinforces and supplies, the slaves take the opportunity to rebel and many of them slaughter their Nithian masters and take to the forest. Only small Nithian settlements stand their ground thanks to the mastery of the magical arts of their leaders, but these too are doomed to fall in the following decades.
Because of this failure in the southern waters, the Nithian Empire does not further the exploration of Davania and prefers to concentrate on the northern isles (Minrothad and Ierendi), on the Isle of Dawn and sails westwards, reaching Sind and even the Savage Coast. This leaves the Belcadiz completely untouched by the Nithian influence.

In BC 601 the first ships with the Three Tribes fleeing from the Milenian Empire reach the shores of Alvar, the Belcadiz's isle. The elves soon understand that other humans will follow, and the risk of overpopulating the island is great. The elves help the humans to repair their ships and to adjust them to oceanic seafaring, and persuade their leaders (both with charismatic speeches and with magic) to sail again northwards, where there is a great territory that is only waiting for them. The situation is tense, but the fact that the Behemoth is a constant threat and that the frictions between newcomers and elves increase pushes the leaders of the emigrants to take the sea and sail northwards, wave after wave, until they reach the Hattias peninsula in BC 600 and start settling it, fighting against the Nithian empire once again. The memories of their terrible trek across this ocean and their encounter with the monstrous Behemoth leads them to dub it the Sea of Dread.
A small fraction of humans is allowed to stay and live with the elves on Alvar: a tribe of Kerendan stock that absorbs many of the linguistic and cultural traits of the Belcadiz over the centuries and later becomes known as the Ispans.

Around BC 500 the Nithian empire abruptly falls, thus leaving the room to the Three Tribes (Thyatians, Kerendans, Hattians) to conquer the Thyatian mainland and carve out their kingdoms.
Notably around BC100, the Behemoth also makes its last appearance in the Sea of Dread, disappearing completely for the following 1100 years and making seafaring in the Sea of Dread once again viable.

In AC 200 the Ispans start to develop their own mysticism, and in particular the faith of Ixion blooms among the humans, while the elves prefer to stay true to their agnosticism and do not worship any immortal. Some tensions develop between humans and elves because of religious matters and witchery over the course of the following centuries, but they are always kept in check by the Belcadizan nobility.

During the course of the following 4 centuries, the first Minrothaddan and Ierendian merchants find the isle of Alvar and start trading with the elves and humans alike, bringing news of the mighty Thyatian Empire to the north. Intrigued by the tales of its grandeur and richness, many Ispans chose to abandon Alvar to look for fortune in the land of their long lost cousins. The first Ispans bring with them the tale of their history and the location of Alvar to the Thyatian merchants and senators.

In BC 500 finally one of the elven scouts who had been sent away with the Rainbow Bridge centuries before comes home with great news: the land where the Belcadiz had once founded their kingdom and that had later been engulfed by the nuclear explosion is now once again safe and prosperous, but most of all it is free. The Belcadiz make preparations to send other expeditions to the Glantrian Highlands to find more evidence of the situation. The Belcadiz sages start making their calculations to exploit the Rainbow Bridge once again, hoping to found a new stronghold in Glantri. Unfortunately, the Rainbow Bridge's path is tied to the position of the stars and it takes long time before the stars are properly aligned.

In BC 695 the Thyatian Empire makes its move and sends troops to establish a stronghold in the Thanegioth region. It becomes clear to the elves that these humans want to take over their island and their fortunes, so they try to mediate and defend their independence with diplomatic talks. However, after the meeting with Thyatian ambassadors they clearly feel distrust towards the empire and understand that they couldn't stand in front of an all-out invasion of the island (given also the fact that the majority of the Ispans seems to actually be in favour of their annexation to the powerful Empire of Thyatis).
Since they do not want to give up their independency and are resolved to maintain their pride, they come up with a different solution. They secretly gather all their treasures and belongings, and in BC 700 they activate the Rainbow Bridge, taking with them only a small fraction of Ispans (those loyal to House Alhambra and willing to leave rather than submit) and emerge in the north-western Orclands. From here they take a dangerous trek across the Broken Lands and finally reach an unsettled area of Glantri, where they found Nueva Alvar and reclaim the same lands they had abandoned 2000 years before.
Some years after, following the rumours of the elves that came from nowhere and settled in Glantri, the Erewan clan of Alfheim moves to the Glantrian woods and allies with the Belcadiz to form a small elven kingdom in the south of the Highlands.

Back on Alvar, the Thyatians move in and take whatever precious thing left by the elves, appointing a local Ispan as governor of the Protectorate of Alvar. Unfortunately, because of rash exploitation of the natural (both mineral and animal) resources of the island (already strained after 2000 years of population increase) on the Ispans and Thyatians' part and some also say because of a powerful curse laid by the fleeing Belcadiz who felt betrayed by their former Ispan allies, the island proves to be far less profitable than the Thyatians had thought. In BC 800 the situation has worsened so much that half of the population has moved to the Thyatian mainland, in the Kerendan area, and the island retains only a pale shadow of its former wealth. By the end of the IX century, the Thyatians abandon it completely, preferring to move on the nearby Davanian continent and leave behind only a scattered groups of Ispan hardheads.

In the meantime, in the Thyatian mainland the Ispans' demands for an independent country together with their dogmatic religious habits make the situation very tense. After a failed revolt in Kerendas and the irate protests of the hierarchies of the Church of Thyatis, the new Emperor Gabrionus IV "The Settler" (famous for his colonial expeditions to Davania, the Far West and the Isle of Dawn) decides to give the Ispans a new land to settle, and sends them at the other corner of the world in the new founded Savage Baronies, putting an ocean between the rebellious Ispans and the stability of his empire. Thus the Los Guardianos gradually became independent from Thyatis and took their own path to enlightenment.

That marks the end of the tentative history of the Belcadiz and their Ispan "allies". So what do you think now?