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Another Belcadiz Theoryby Andrew Theisen
Okay, I was just looking over some Belcadiz related stuff again, and came back to that imponderable question- where the heck did these guys get their culture from?
In the interests of stirring this pot yet again, here's another alternative theory...
Gaz3 doesn't really mention much about the Belcadiz' origins. The best we get is on p. 4 which has this to say: "The Flaems... thrive for another three centuries. Then, elves reappear from the south... Historians believe them to be the missing elven tribes, returning to claim their lost realm."
Based on the next paragraph- "News spreads... soon clans of fair elves and humans... settle in Glantri"- I'm guessing that the first elves were not "fair" elves, and were indeed, the Belcadiz elves. I'm basing that on the singling out of "fair elves" from the previous paragraph (why mention elves twice, unless these are two different groups?)
Next, in Gaz5 (pg. 6), we learn that "the Belcadiz elves of Glantri claim to be descendants of a similar group who left the southern continent some 300 years after Ilsundal."
Looking at the Hollow World set, we learn that some survivors of that second migration settled in Glantri c. 2200 BC. These were not the shadow elf clans, who had already gone underground (and would not return to the surface until 1950 BC- see Gaz13, pg. 6) and would never encounter these other elves. Among these "second Returnists" were the Truedyl clan, and the ancestors of the Icevale elves and Schattenalfen. (Hollow World, pp. 43, 45, and 83, respectively.)
It's possible that the Belcadiz were among these elves, and that they, too, were driven underground (see James Mishler's History of the Ispan People for more on this theory).
However, I am going to postulate that they weren't living in Glantri at the time.
The Outer World Postcataclysmic map from the Hollow World set shows the route of the Returnist migrations, and shows where, in 2200 BC, the "Second Returnists" split off at the Serpent Peninsula and went to Glantri. This map is different from the one in Gaz5, which shows Ilsundal's group going up the Arm of the Immortals rather than up the Serpent Peninsula. This entry from Champions of Mystara (p. 35) helps us understand the different maps- "By 2300 BC [Ilsundal's group] had crossed the Strait of Izonda to the Immortal's Arm, then headed east along the Savage Coast. Another group... took another route through the Adakkian Sound, where they rejoined with Ilsundal's band and continued with them."
The 2500 BC migration, then (with the Belcadiz, Truedyl, Icevale, Schattenalfen, and- we now learn- the Sheyallia) is the "Second Returnist" migration that took a shortcut across the Serpent Peninsula.
Still following? I hope so.
At this point, the "Mass Returnist" group seems to have issues. The Sheyallia, for whatever reason decides to backtrack and goes back to the jungles of the Serpent Peninsula- maybe for the same reasons they didn't join Ilsundal's migration in 2800 BC (he smells). The rest continue east, with the Meditor and Verdier eventually building some boats and sailing on to Traladara/Thyatis.
Everyone else stops by Glantri, to check on the Blackmoor elves (now the burgeoning shadow elves). Seeing nothing, most of them move on- well, except the Truedyl, Icevale, and Schattenalfen (as we've seen). Within a century, the "Mass Returnist" group lands up in the Sylvan Realm, where they live happily ever after for more than a millennium.
So what happened to the Belcadiz in my theory? Did they go to the Sylvan Realm, or underground? Neither.
See, I left out a part. In 2300 BC (according to Red Steel), "Elves arrive... and settle the eastern and central Savage Coast. They live alongside, but not among, the Oltecs."
Now, this was before the Second Returnists met the First Returnists, but, given all the splitting off (and whatever politics) that took place among the two groups... what if the Belcadiz decided to not go with Ilsundal and the rest, and instead sought out their cousins they had been told were back westwards a bit?
The Belcadiz then decide to settle in and among the Savage Coast. Over time, the nature of the soil there (see Dragon #171 and 172), or interbreeding with dark skinned Oltecs and Nithians, or both- combine to make the Savage Coastal elves darker skinned than their sylvan cousins. Their artistic nature also combines with the native Oltec and Nithian cultures to give rise to the Spanish-like Belcadiz culture we know and love.
At some point, around 450-500 BC, due to pressures from an influx of human settlers from Traladara and the northern plains, the Savage Coastal elves begin to withdraw from the region. Notably among them are the Belcadiz clan of elves, who decide to emigrate eastwards in search of their long lost kin. They travel to Glantri, arriving around 700 BC. The rest is history.
Meanwhile, c.900 AC, the Ispan people (a Kerendan group) arrive on the Savage Coast where they "... establish domains that eventually develop into the Savage Baronies and absorb the elven, dwarven, and human cultures already in the region." Thus, the Ispan culture is actually derived from indigenous elvish/ Oltec/ Nithian culture, rather than vice versa.
Thus, in my theory, they are still related to the Glantrian "Second Returnists" (as Gaz3 and Princess Carnelia-Maria-Juanita de Fedorias y Belcadiz claim), but were not "original" inhabitants of Glantri.
How's this work?