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The History of the Ispan People

by James Mishler

Here's my version of who the Ispan people (the modern Espans) are, where they come from, how their culture evolved, etc. I've added in several factors that I've adopted from this list, including the idea of an M-Cuba (two methods of this, actually, only one of which is mentioned in this history). Without any further ado...

The History of the Ispan People
by Mystaros
19th of Thaumont, 1016 AC

Era Time Period
Genesis 248 AC
The Exiles 248 - 267 AC
The First Centuries 267 - 489 AC
The Dark Years 489 - 642 AC
The Years of War 642 - 728 AC
A New Land, a New People 728 - 794 AC
The Ispan Golden Age 794 - 861 AC
The Years of Unrest 861 - 893 AC
The Great Journey 893 - 900 AC
The New World 900 AC to the Present

Genesis (248 AC)

The genesis of the Ispan people can be most directly attributed to the darkest period of the reign of the Von Stregger Dynasty in the Empire of Thyatis in the 3rd century AC. While Karolus I ("The Great", ruled 157 - 176 AC) was true to his ancient and noble lineage, his son, Liutprand I ("The Bard", ruled 176 - 189 AC), followed more in the tradition of his mother's forebears, the Von Hendriks clan of the south eastern Hattian coast. Unfortunately, Liutprand's insanity was hereditary, as both of his sons, Wulfgang I ("The Terrible", ruled 189 - 231 AC) and Karolus II ("The Destroyer", ruled 231 - 238 AC) exhibited his vile tendencies. Many were relieved upon the death of Karolus II, as it was felt that his son, Liutprand II, resembled his great-grandfather in spirit if not in visage.

And for the first decade of his rule they were proven correct, as he re-established the rule of law and reaffirmed the power of the Imperial Bureaucracy across the mainland (see "The Chronicles of Imperial Thyatian History" by Strathos of Terentias, Volume II [the unexpurgated version, of course]). Unfortunately, the rule of Liutprand II can be likened unto the month of Ambyrmont: "In like a drake, out like a dragon" as the saying goes. His "Declaration of the Purity of the Imperial Peoples", passed down in Eirmont of 247 AC, is regarded as the ultimate sign of his mental deterioration, or, as we now know, of the influence held over him by his daughter, Brunhilda ("The Enchantress", born 214 AC, died 267 AC(?)).

The reaction to the Declaration across the Empire is, of course, too well known to delve into here, though a mention of it's relation to the Kerendan settlement of the western and southern highlands of the Alasiyan Basin is warranted. The Kerendans, of course, reacted to the Declaration with no less revulsion than their cousins to the east, the Thyatians (not to mention the reactions of the non-Thyatian peoples of the Empire). While the Thyatian reaction was more subtle and hence, underground (mostly due to the three Hattian Legions stationed in the City of Thyatis), the Kerendans openly disavowed the Emperor and his Declaration, closed the gates of their city to his representatives, and girded for war.

Liutprand's reply came swiftly in 448 AC, when four Hattian Legions engaged the Kerendans in the fields before the city of Kerendas. The Kerendans were far too trusting in the ability of their cavalry to overtake the Hattian foot soldiers; the Hattians outnumbered the Kerendans three to one, and they were reinforced by several centuries of auxiliaries and foreign mercenaries (mostly Caerda and Dunael, though there were said to have been no few Norse and even a company of Nuari at Liutprand's disposal). Liutprand himself oversaw the battle, and with the aid of his daughter and her "acolytes" (sycophant Alphatian outcasts, believed to have been from the same cult that founded New Alphatia on Trader's Isle), the battle was over in short order, and the cream of Kerendan chivalry died on the field that day.

The "Black Wind" overtook the Duchy of Kerendas for the next decade (248 - 258 AC), as Liutprand's forces determined to scour the Duchy of any who were thought to be in the least disloyal to the new order. Entire towns and villages were put to the sword, women and children of ancient noble lines were crucified along the side of the road like common criminals, and fields and forests were burned. Thousands set out from their homes seeking refuge; hundreds made the crossing over the Altan Tepes into the Alasiyan Basin, where they settled, broken and near destitute, amid the dry, grassy slopes, near the small village that is known today as Ctesiphon.

The Exiles (ca. 248 267 AC)

The Kerendans were fortunate in that the region was only lightly populated by the Alasiyani Nomads; unfortunately, the reason quickly became clear as the Kerendans became the target of incessant Humanoid raids. For the region they settled in was within the territory of several nomadic Humanoid tribes that had been pushed out of the Altan Tepes by the Dwarves of Goldleaf in the first century of the Thyatian Empire. Unfortunately for the Humanoids, only the toughest, most experienced and deadliest Kerendans had made the trek across the Altan Tepes. Few Humanoids survived after the Kerendans were able to learn the lay of the land and adapt to the harsher conditions of the dry hills.

Once the region was cleared of Humanoids (ca. 255 AC), the Kerendans were able to take stock of their new land, and they found it to be to their liking. The upland plains were the perfect region for raising horses (as the Ylari have shown to this day), the winter rains provide more than enough pasturage for herds in the spring and early summer, and the numerous springs provided many pleasant locales for settlement. Though the Humanoids had mostly been driven from the land, some tribes still raided from the mountains, where the Kerendans could not reach them. Thus, the Kerendans took to building their settlements within the protection of mud and stone walls.

The few noble families of the exiles claimed title to the lands and named their new "estates" after their ancient families. A folk which had long tended to fields and farms now found themselves tending to flocks and herds, as they rounded up the sheep and goats left by the decimated Humanoid tribes. The Kerendans, always fond of horses, came into their prime as they increased their herds through trade with the itinerant tribesman from the interior of the basin. Thus, by the time the exiles were informed of the final fall of the Von Stregger Dynasty in 267 AC, few found that they desired to return, for they had built themselves a new home in the desert lands.

The First Centuries (267 489 AC)

The advent of the Second Tatriokanitas Dynasty in 267 AC meant little change for the Kerendan settlers in the Alasiyan Basin (they had no name for their new land; most estates were known by the name of the founding family, such as the Villa Patricos or Villa Regulus, though some were known through a prominent feature, such as Villa Alver, known for its white sands). There was some trade with the Thyatian coastal colonies to the east (founded over a century before by Thyatian merchants), but otherwise interaction with their former homeland was rare. They continued to trade with the Alasiyani Nomads, and some of the families began to intermarry with the Alasiyans; these were mostly families that held most of their wealth in horses, as the Alasiyani Nomads would often cement the marriage, and the familial socio-economic ties, with gifts of horses. Raids by the Humanoids of the Altan Tepes continued, and increased as more Thyatians, Kerendans and Dwarves settled the southern slopes, pushing the Humanoids further into the Alasiyan Basin.

A jihad, or religious war, overtook the Alasiyani Nomads of the deserts in the mid 4th century. The Kerendans remained neutral, as they had kept their own faith and judiciously steered clear (where possible) of the issue of faith in dealing with their Alasiyan allies. Fortunately for the defeated Alasiyani Nomad clans, the victorious clans were extremely generous and simply exiled them rather than extirpated them. The Kerendans mediated the exile for the Alasiyani Nomads, and aided the vanquished in their journey to the south, into the Grendale River Valley, where the Alasiyani Nomads settled in 360 AC under the leadership of Sheik Selim ben Hassan.

There was little response to this incursion by the Thyatians (who had not as yet settled the region), as the Thyatians were once again in the midst of Dynastic struggles (the Alasiyani Nomad migration occurred during the rule of the usurper Michaelus I Marakosian ("The Wizard Bane", ruled 352 - 370AC)). The southern clans of Alasiyani Nomads worked in concert with the Kerendans of Alasiya against the Humanoids of the Altan Tepes, and after a decade of concerted effort thoroughly cowed most of the Humanoids, such that raids were rare for almost two (Human) generations.

The Kerendan's idyll lasted until 400 AC, when Thyatian Emperor Alexian III ("The Sage", ruled 399 - 415 AC), of the First Kerendan Dynasty, "rediscovered" his "lost cousins" in the Alasiyan Basin. Trade and contact with the Empire increased severalfold as the First Kerendan Dynasty regarded the Alasiyani Kerendans as a "protectorate" of the Empire; it was never expressly or officially claimed as such during the First Kerendan Dynasty, though Zendrolion IV ("The Horse Lord", ruled 425 - 443 AC) had claimed a winter estate in the Alasiyani Kerendan lands. For a time, Alasiyani Kerendan art and horses were found in the finest homes, and Alasiyani Kerendan mannerisms were affected by members of the Imperial Court and the upper crust of the Empire. The Imperial presence was suddenly withdrawn, however, in 475 AC, upon the deposition and death of Lucinius III ("The Drunkard", ruled 471 - 475 AC). The Alphatian Interregnum (475 - 489 AC) left the Alasiyani Kerendan "high-culture" flower to wilt on the stem, as the Thyatians were wrapped up in the struggle to regain control of their own Empire.

The Dark Years (489 642 AC)

Tiberion II ("The Mage Bane", ruled 489 - 510 AC) restored order to the Empire in 489 AC after destroying the last of the Alphatian Usurpers (Magnus I, "The Archmage", ruled 485 - 489 AC). Tiberion II was a Paladin in the service of Vanya, and though he was of the Second Kerendan Dynasty (of the Theostridaes branch), he had little in common with his "lost cousins" in the Alasiyan Basin, and saw their lands merely in terms of military value, as a stepping stone toward the elimination of the Alphatian Presence on the Continent. Thus, one of his first acts was to forcibly annex the Alasiyani Kerendan territories as well as the "Biazzan" valley of the Alasiyani Nomad settlers. He thus formed two new domains for the Empire: the Barony of Biazzan and the Alasiyani Marches. He had little time to do more than build several fortresses and install the Imperial Bureaucracy before he passed on to the Steel Plains of Vanya and was succeeded by his daughter, Terentia I ("The Blade of Vanya", ruled 510 - 528 AC). Fortunately for the Kerendans of the new Alasiyani Marches, Terentia was obsessed more with the theology of her faith than with the more martial aspects, and they were left again, for a short while, to their own devices.

The military occupation of the Alasiyani Kerendan territories did little to change the Alasiyani Kerendan way of life per se, though Alphatian goods became scarcer as the occupying legions cracked down on the trade coming across the desert wastes. The Governor of the Marches was purely a military position, and seldom fell into hereditary control (never for more than three generations in any case). As long as the Alasiyani Kerendans paid their taxes on time and swore loyalty to the Empire (or at least, did not in any way support the Alphatian position in the north), the Governor let them be. However, the stream of settlers from the Empire that followed in the Legion's wake, unfortunately, were not as forgiving as their rulers.

The new settlers of the Alasiyani Marches were a mixed group, ethnically speaking: mostly Thyatians and Hattians, some Kerendans and a smattering of Amancerians (these included many of the ancestors of the peoples now inhabiting the Principalities of Aalban and Caurenze in Glantri). Taken together, however, they could best be described as opportunists, swindlers and outright thieves. Slowly, inexorably, the new settlers began to drive the Alasiyani Kerendans from their lands. The new settlers used their knowledge of the Thyatian Legal Code, their connections with the military and civilian authorities and often simple brutality and violence to steal the Alasiyani Kerendans lands, wealth and power. More and more, as the Alasiyani Kerendans became dispossessed of their patrimonies, many of them moved into the lands on the fringe of the desert wastelands, where they found shelter among their old allies, the Alasiyani Nomads.

The Alasiyani Kerendans slowly began to be assimilated by the Alasiyani Nomads, as they continued to intermarry with the Nomad clans and adopt Nomadic folkways. It was a slow process, just as the process of Alasiyani Kerendan disenfranchisement was a slow process. It took nearly 200 years, but by the end of this period the Alasiyani Kerendans were no longer regarded as Kerendans by their cousins to the south; and to be true, by that time they themselves no longer recognised any kinship with the Kerendans. By the mid seventh century, the Alasiyani Kerendans had become an entirely new people, a nomadic people like their allies, the Alasiyani Nomads, yet with some few remnants of their ancient Kerendan culture, adapted and adopted to the ways of the desert. The peoples of the Alasiyani Marches began to call them the "Espadi", which in the (then greatly divergent) dialect of the Alasiyani Kerendans meant "Longsword", for the Alasiyani Kerendans wielded a long, straight sword from horseback, while the Alasiyani Nomads wielded the Scimitar, a long, curved blade.

It was during the middle of this period that the minor border clashes between the Thyatians, Alphatians and Alasiyani Nomads slowly began to increase in frequency and ferocity (ca. 500 AC). The Espadi took no small part in the growing troubles, as one of the few occupations that remained open to them was that of the mercenary. Entire mercenary companies were formed of Espadi cavalry and bowmen, and were in high demand by both the Alphatians and the Thyatians (the Alasiyani Nomads rarely, if ever hired mercenaries). The only requirement that the early Espadi mercenaries placed upon their patron (Alphatian or Thyatian), was that the Espadi would not attack Alasiyani Nomad groups, as the long history of friendship between the two was what had kept the Espadi from oblivion. This qualification, however, began to fall more and more to the wayside as time wore on and as the Espadi became more secure in their own abilities in the desert wastes.

The Years of War (642 728 AC)

The ascension of the first Emperor of the Oesterpolitian Dynasty in 642 AC heralded a new era for the Empire of Thyatis as well as for the Espadi of the Alasiyani Basin. The Oesterpolitian Dynasty, of course, was based out of the great citadel at Redstone (hence the Dynasty also being labelled the "Redstone Dynasty"). The emphasis of the military activities of the martial Redstone Emperors was on the continual expansion of the Thyatian Empire at the expense of the Alphatians, primarily through the control of the nations of the Isle of Dawn but also through the domination of the Continental territories, specifically the Northern Reaches and the Alasiyan Basin. These policies were felt quite readily in the immediate increase in and intensity of the Alasiyani Conflicts. This proved to be the ultimate undoing of the Espadi in Alasiya.

Four generations of Espadi warriors were ground between the Thyatian and Alphatian forces. The increasing hostilities greatly affected the relationship between the Espadi and the Alasiyani Nomads. Though the two societies had been allies in the early centuries, and neutral non-belligerents during the intervening years, the changing pressures placed on them by outside forces caused the two cultures to violently clash. The increasing competition for grazing lands, watering holes and pasturage ultimately led the Espadi into the arms of the Thyatians, who, acting as their patrons, were better able to guard the Espadi interests in the Alasiyan Basin. This alliance was cemented in 718 AC, during the reign of Alexian VI ("The Golden", ruled 713 - 721 AC). The Espadi elected one of their chiefs as their speaker, and he in turn was anointed "Lord of the Espadi and the Alasiyani Marches" by the Emperor's son and heir, Leonidas (later Emperor Zendrolion VII, "The Hunter", ruled 721 - 732 AC). A majority of the Alasiyani Nomad clans reacted to the alliance by openly allying with the Alphatians; this spelt the doom of the Espadi presence in Alasiya.

The decade following the alliance between the Espadi and the Thyatians saw the fiercest and bloodiest fighting that the region had seen since the days of the Nithian Empire. Entire clans of Espadi and Alasiyani were extirpated. Towns were razed to the ground; slat was sown into the land that nothing would grow. Events culminated in the Battle of Hedjazi in 728 AC, where the Thyatian and Espadi forces were decimated by an Alphatian army that is said to have consisted of a thousand Alphatian Battle Mages. The leaders of the Espadi were slain to a man; the bones of an entire generation of Espadi warriors lay in the sun before the gates of Hedjazi. The Alasiyani wasted no time in exacting vengeance for decades of Thyatian and Espadi atrocities. Entire Espadi clans disappeared into the wastes. Those that remained fled to the south and east, to the Thyatian colonies of the coast, where they found shelter from the wrath of the Nomads.

Zendrolion VII, known for his honour as well as for his tendency toward overindulgence, aided his broken allies by granting them lands across the Sea of Dawn, on the Isle of Dawn, in and around the region of the Tigris Plain, the area of the modern Ispan Domains [Provincia Septentriona, north of the forests and hills and south of the Province of Kendach]. Less than 12,000 of the 20,000 Espadi that were tallied in the census taken after the alliance in 718 AC survived to reach the coastlands. 8,000 took ship from the ports of Cubia and Tameronikas, while 4,000 remained in the towns and villages of the coast.

A New Land, a New People (728 794 AC)

The lands that the Espadi were granted on the Isle of Dawn consisted of verdant plains and rugged hills. These plains had long been ignored by other peoples as being too barren for habitation; the many fertile lands of the Isle of Dawn were far more inviting for settlement. The Espadi, however, regarded the plains as being the next thing to paradise compared to the barren wastes and hills that had been their home. The clans spread out across the range of their territory and began to build their lives in the new lands. Naturally, the plains were not entirely devoid of settlements; there were the ranches and estates of Thyatian immigrants as well as several trading posts set up by the Amancerian peoples of the coasts.

The first ten years saw some difficulty in dealing with these natives, but they were soon won over by the Espadi, who needed all manner of products from the merchants, as they had to adapt to the change in subsistence. They needed ploughs to break the ground, seeds to plant, more horses, more sheep, metal for the forge, wine for the table. Many Amancerian families moved into the region as the Espadi settled in. The region also experienced a minor influx of Thyatian immigrants once the fertility of the region was proven by the Espadi settlers.

The population of the Espadi Domains, as they were then known, almost doubled to reach 15,000 within the first 10 years, mostly through in- migration, partially through high birth rates. The Domains themselves consisted of 15 Baronies spread out over 24,000 square miles. Each of the 15 Barons participated in a council that elected a speaker, who oversaw the government of the Domains together with an Imperial Governor (the ArchBaron, as he was called, also acted as the Senator for the Domains). Even though the Espadi held most of the power and the land, their culture would surely have been overwhelmed by further migration of Thyatians and Amancerians had it not been for a very remarkable coincidence that came to light in 740 AC.

Interlude: The Elves of the Shadow Coast

South of the Tigris Plains, across the length and breadth of the Shadow Coast, the land was carpeted with a dense forest, known on the Continent as the Forest of Shadows. This grand forest, actually an amalgamation of several regional forests, was the home from time immemorial to two races. One, the Caerda, were a Human people, and had slowly been assimilated into the Amancerian population of the coastlands (save in the far south of the land). The other natives were the Elves, descendants of the ancient disaster that overtook the highlands in the 18th century BC. Somehow, though long and terrible tribulation, these Elves had migrated underground, beneath the very Sea of Dawn itself, and arrive in the forested lands of the Isle of Dawn some three centuries later.

The journey had taken a terrible toll on the Elves, and they were a shattered people. These Elves kept to themselves for a thousand years, and were little more than a myth to the peoples of the Isle of Dawn until the 7th century BC, when they first contacted the Alphatians of the Kingdom of Hamanziera after the fall of the Nithian Empire. Even then, they contributed next to nothing to the world about them, keeping their own council and acting only to defend their section of the Forest of Shadows, with seven clans claiming an area of some 10,000 square miles. It would be another thousand years before the Elves of the Forest of Shadows sallied forth into the world about them, and then, of all places, it would be to the City of Thyatis during the height of the Alasiyani Kerendan cultural craze. The Elves, long in search of some form of identity, a cultural wellspring, so to speak, were instantly enamoured of the exotic nature of the Alasiyani Kerendan culture.

The Elves that returned to the Forest of Shadow brought with them every element of Alasiyani Kerendan culture they could find: clothing, language, jewellery, architecture, culinary arts, weaponry, poetry and literature, pottery... the list of artifacts was endless. Several Elves even journeyed to the lands of the Alasiyani Kerendans and studied them for a decade or two. Over the intervening centuries the Elves of the Forest of Shadow had adapted and adopted every aspect of the culture of the Alasiyani Kerendans to their own folkways, and created for themselves a new identity (see "Cultural Plasticity and Elven Evolution" in the Winter 989 AC edition of the Pandius Press Anthropological Journal for more detail concerning this case of Elven cultural revolution).

While the Elves of the Forest of Shadows thereafter still kept themselves apart from the nations about them, they had reinvigorated their own society with the culture of the Alasiyani Kerendans. Once the culture was fully assimilated, the Elves maintained the society that they developed, and cherished it. Thus, the Espadi were able to inherit the culture of their forefathers three hundred years after the end of their golden age.

A New Land, a New People (728 794 AC), continued...

Thus, in 740 AC, the Espadi were utterly flabbergasted when they encountered a group of Elves that spoke the language that they knew only through hard-kept poetry and tales. At first the Espadi didn't know what to think of their "Elven cousins", as, while they shared many similarities, the gulf that had developed between the two cultures in the intervening centuries had grown great. The Elves, for their part, welcomed the Espadi into their hearts and their lands, and were in awe of the developments that the Espadi had made over the centuries. For of course, once the Elves had adopted the ways of the Alasiyani Kerendans, their culture did not change one iota. There were, quite naturally, several Elves who stilled lived that remembered the first days of the cultural assimilation, and there were even a handful that recalled their days studying the ancestors of the Espadi in Alasiya. These Elven elders went a long way in convincing the Espadi of the veracity of the Elves claim to cultural kinship, as the elders described the lands of the Espadi and their ancient patrimonies better than any of their own bards could do.

The encounter between the two peoples sparked a cultural renaissance; the Espadi regained much of their former glory through the contributions of the Elves and the Elven culture again went through a revolution, adopting the more passionate and militaristic mores of the Espadi. The mixing of the cultures also accompanied a mixing of the people, as the Espadi and the Elves began to intermarry. Within a (human) generation the population of the Espadi Domains again more than doubled. A large minority of population had Elvish blood. The minor villages that had first sprung up around the Baronial seats grew into towns.

Another Human generation and the region witnessed the incredible evolution and the true flowering of the Espadi culture. For by the end of the 8th century AC the Espadi no longer existed as such. In the place of the old, semi-barbaric society there now flourished an incredible hybrid society, as divergent from that of the Espadi who settled the region 70 years before as the Espadi of that time had been from their forefathers, the Alasiyani Kerendans. The Espadi, through the exchange and assimilation of the culture of the Elves, evolved into an elegant if firm, cultured if not savage, beautiful if not deadly society. Their language softened considerably through Elven influence, and acquired a poetical, lyrical quality. They no longer regarded themselves as the Espadi; they had now become the Ispans.

The Ispan culture, like that of their forebears, the Alasiyani Kerendans, was exotic and mysterious. Their culture, a mixture of the ancient Alasiyani Kerendan and the Elven, became all the rage once again in the City of Thyatis. All the noble men wore the Ispan Moustache and learned to wield the Estoque, also known as the Ispan Rapier, the elegant offspring of the Espadi Long Sword. All the noble women learned the Ispan dances; some bearing the stately elegance of the Elves, some the passionate savagery of the Espadi, some a wondrous mixture of both. The Ispan Elves, as the Elves of the Forest of Shadow were now known, were much in demand at the grand balls and fetes, for they were known as the best storytellers and dancers of all. The Ispans, Human and Elven, were on the verge of a Golden Age.

The Ispan Golden Age (794 861 AC)

In 786 AC the last of the Redstone Emperors, Zendrolion VIII ("The Small Prince", ruled 782 - 786 AC) was deposed by Berthold "The Black Prince" Von Gehrling, the brother of the Count of Hattias. Naturally, his rule was strongly opposed on all sides, but unfortunately the Eastern Legions were in no shape to reclaim the Imperial Throne. Nor did any one other legitimate faction have enough power to reclaim the throne. The Ispan ArchBaron and the Council of Barons, along with the aid of the Ispan Elf Clan Elders, decided to throw in with the ancient Tatriokanitas Dynasty, and support their claimant, Gabrionus Marcus Lucinius Tatriokanitas, Duke of Thyatis (aka Gabrionus I "The Great", ruled 794 - 812 AC). The Ispans played a major role in bringing down the usurper and elevating the Third Tatriokanitas Dynasty, and Gabrionus was generous in return.

The Ispans were granted the entirety of the Protectorate of Laticea, several northern Amancerian towns (whose leaders had supported an opponent of Gabrionus) and the southern half of the modern County of Kendach as well as expanded territories in the Forest of Shadows. All these Ispan territories were organised into the Grand Duchy of Ispañola, under the rule of the Ispan Grand Duke (El Gran Ducado de Ispañola in Ispan). The Ispans had entered into their own; they more than doubled their territories; they greatly enriched their treasuries through the largesse of those that they supported; and they continually increased their influence at the Imperial Court. The penultimate example of Ispan influence during the early Gabrionites Dynasty was when Empress Terentia III ("The Healer", ruled 823 - 835 AC) named her first born son, Casimir, the future Emperor Lucinius IV ("The Magefriend", ruled 846 - 851 AC) after her friend and confidante, Casimiro Rodrigo Hernando Ramirez de Villa Santos, the Grand Duke of Ispañola.

Ispan explorers, merchants and conquistadors travelled the length and breadth of the Known World and points beyond. They expanded the territories of Ispañola by settling the wild lands of the north eastern quarter of the Great Escarpment. They explored the Savage Coast, the Serpent Peninsula and the wilds of Davania. Some Ispans claimed to have climbed the peaks of the Arm of the Immortals and gazed upon the shores of the Furthest Ocean. Two of these explorers would hold an important place in the history of the Ispans, and bear some mention here.

The Savage Coast was explored in great detail by Ispan adventurers in the 850's; some were in the employ of Ierendian interests, some were working for the Minrothad Guilds, and others still were exploring of their own accord. These Ispan explorers made many contacts among the peoples of the City States and the members the Lawful Brotherhood. Their tales, trophies and treasures generated much interest and inspired a great deal of wanderlust among the younger generation, though few did anything about it. Those few who did seldom returned.

One of the most incredible tales of the Ispan Explorers came about in 860 AC, when Don Sancho Estaban de la Villa Florida followed up on a Minrothian Guildsman's report of a mysterious chain of islands in the middle of the Sea of Dread. The Guildsmen had traversing the Strait of Dread, the narrow band of sea between The Abyss and the Sargasso Sea, searching for a quick route to Davania, when they were blown off course and into uncharted waters. He followed the reputed course of the Minrothians in his ship, Los Caballito del Rey, and did in fact find and explore a mysterious chain of islands. He wintered on the easternmost isle, which he named Nueva Ispañola and claimed in the name of his sponsor, the Grand Duke.

The only blotch on the Ispans during this era was the de Belcadiz scandal of 858 AC. The de Belcadiz were a minor clan of Ispan Elves (with a large percentage of Half-Elves and Demi- Elves) that had been granted lands in the territories ceded to the Ispans in 794 AC. It had been thought odd at the time that the de Belcadiz clan had accepted the broken, barren hills in the shadow of an active volcano, but it had been shrugged off as yet another de Belcadiz eccentricity (for which they were well known). It was, however, discovered in 858 AC that a large portion of the de Belcadiz clan were involved in a conspiracy against the Grand Duke, and that a major theme in their prospective coup was the use of ancient magics that had been discovered in ruins uncovered in those self same barrens! The scandal broke out late in the year, and by the new year the principal conspirators had been executed and the remainder of the entire clan had been exiled. It was said that they all emigrated en masse to the newly proclaimed Republic of Glantri, deep in the heartland of the Continent, where they assisted the native wizards in crushing the rebellion against the magocracy.

The populace of the Grand Duchy seemed to hold their breath following the de Belcadiz scandal, as though they all felt that this incident was merely the warning shot for something on a grander scheme. The chill in the air was palpable, and the Noble Courts all seemed to fall silent, as though they were dancing in a faerie ring. Omen and portents all pointed toward something grim. All those in the know thought it would come from within, like the de Belcadiz scandal. They were wrong.

The Years of Unrest (861 893 AC)

The assassination of the Thyatian Emperor Lucinius V ("The Conjurer", ruled 851 - 861 AC) came as a tremendous surprise to all, for he was if not universally appreciated for his honour and intelligence, at least respected for his wisdom and diplomatic ability. The Ispans would normally have had little to fear from any change in Emperor, even under such conditions as assassination, as the succession was clear and unchallenged. But in this case, the dark deed fell right into the Ispan's laps. For the Emperor had apparently been murdered by an Ispan assassin, a personage in fact no less than that of the cousin of the Grand Duke of Ispañola.

The effects of the de Belcadiz scandal on the Ispans was as a mere zephyr compared to the hurricane that followed the assassination of the Emperor. The new Emperor, Zendrolion X ("The Strategist", ruled 861 - 872 AC), sent the Hattian Inquisition to the Grand Duchy to ferret out any co-conspirators to the assassination of his brother. The Hattian Inquisition, known for a fearsome reputation among their OWN people, ripped out the very heart of the Ispan peoples when they accused most of the Ducal family of being in on "the conspiracy against the Empire". They then began an intensive "investigation" into the activities and relationships among the noble families of Ispañola.

In time the Grand Inquisitor claimed to have acquired the written confession of the Grand Duke himself, that he had claimed to have instigated the assassination in order to install an "Ispan puppet" on the Imperial throne. The Grand Duke, however, no longer had the ability to defend himself against the Inquisition's accusations, as he had died in the throes of questioning. Ispan outrage at the Hattian offence only stirred up further Inquisitional atrocities. Ispan theories as to the duplicity of the new Emperor in his brother's murder caused the Emperor to send in three legions to "quell the insurrection". The Ispan Golden Age ended in a single month's time.

Two of the legions were withdrawn in 862 AC, after the cream of Ispan chivalry was destroyed. Many of the noble families were decimated; over half were disenfranchised by the Emperor and designated persona non grata on the mainland. Most of the lands granted in 794 AC were revoked; the Ispans were forcibly removed from their lands and placed in ramshackle villages, refugee camps, really, where many starved or died of disease. Only the forests of the Elves remained inviolate (a full century of crack legionnaires went into the forest to bring back three Elven nobles; not a single legionnaire returned). Ispans were hunted like rats in the streets of the City of Thyatis; to even bear an Ispan Rapier invited a beating if not worse. Guerrilla warfare became a method of survival for many, and such continued for another decade until the assassination of Zendrolion X, who, like his brother, died at the hands of an Ispan.

Gabrionus III ("The Unforgiving", ruled 872 - 890 AC) lived up to his namesake. His first action after his ascension to the throne was to institute a reign of terror in the Ispan Domains that made what had gone before pale by comparison. The Ispans, for their part, upped the ante and took their guerrilla warfare to other regions of the Empire, where they inspired other peoples to rebel against the Thyatians. Minor rebellions flared up across the Isle of Dawn and even in the Archduchies of Ochalea and the Pearl Islands.

The terror, however, was so successful that by 875 AC, several thousand Ispans determined that they would abandon their ancestral homes and strike out for new territory. Under the leadership of Don Sancho Estaban de la Villa Florida (now an old man), and taking what little they had left, they set out for the isle of Nueva Ispañola in eight score and eight ships. Many others followed their example, and set out for friendlier lands, including Ierendi, Darokin and Alphatia. The reign of terror lasted for twenty years, into the reign of Gabrionus IV ("The Conqueror", ruled 890 - 913 AC).

Gabrionus IV, however, was a career soldier, and had little stomach or cause for senseless terror. He called for a truce in 893 AC, as he desired to parley. He felt that the Ispans were weak enough that he could settle the issue once and for all, but that to do so would cost him more time and effort (as well as men and material) than he was willing to expend. He offered the Ispans three options. They could resettle in a newly opened Imperial Territory (such as the colonies he was experimenting with on Davania) OR they could emigrate elsewhere, out of the Thyatian AND Alphatian sphere of influence OR they could continue their insurrection and be extirpated by his legions.

The Council of Barons and the Ispan people were of one mind: go elsewhere, where they could for once and always have their own land, free from imperial entanglements and influence. Recalling the tales of the Savage Coast from their childhood, the Barons convinced the Ispan people that the lands far, far to the west would be an ideal new homeland, where they could start fresh.

The Great Journey (893 900 AC)

Preparations and further negotiations took five years to complete. Hundreds of ships were prepared; the entire Ispan nation poured their remaining wealth, as well as their blood, sweat and tears into the migration. Some Ispans, less than one in three perhaps, were unconvinced, and decided to remain. Gabrionus IV accepted these remaining Ispans, and redistributed the Ispan Domains among the remaining families that swore loyalty to him (and gave him hostages), though the lands were also open for Thyatian settlement once again. Finally, all the preparations were complete, all the last treaties had been signed, and the farewells had been said. And thus, in 898 AC, the great migration of the Ispan peoples was underway. Over 20,000 souls set out on a two year trek to a distant land, there to find their destiny. But that is another story...

Some Notes

The Grand Duchy of Ispañola ("Ispanyola") (sounds just the real world "Hispañola", only without the initial "H") is the Ispan state that existed from 794 through 862 AC, in the northern section of the Shadow Coast on the Isle of Dawn...

Nueva Ispañola is the easternmost island in the Thanegioth Archipelago. It was settled in 875 AC by several thousand Ispans and remains an Ispan stronghold to this day.

España ("Espanya") is the region of the Savage Baronies settled by mixed groups of Ispans and Aranjuez, Espadi-descended Alasiyans.

Verdaña ("Verdanya") is the region of the Savage Baronies that was settled by Ispans and mixed groups of Yavi and Huleans.

Cubia Occidental is the largest isle in the Western Thanegioth Archipelago, settled by groups of Ispans that did not complete the journey to the Savage Coast; subsequently, many Yavi, Sindhi and Huleans settled in the region. Many of these islands are now occupied by Ispan pirates. The entire region is now known as the "Karakarine", named after the indigenous tribes of Humanoids that were discovered to occupy the isles... (see module X8; this should in no way, shape or form be taken as an insult to the Caribe or other native of the RW Caribbean; the name of the Kara-Kara was merely a fortuitous coincidence)...