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A Revised History of the Known Worldby Christopher Richard Davies
Part 1: Thyatis
Some sources claim that the Empire of Thyatis is no more than a single century old. Others proclaim its antiquity, dating its origins to, as of the current year, almost exactly one thousand years ago. Can both claims be true? One would think not, but one would be in this instance incorrect.
We begin with the earlier date. In the year 997 After Landfall (sometimes called Alphatie Yesund, or AY), the governor of the troubled Protectorate of Thyatis, Lucinius Trezantium, declared himself in rebellion against the Empire of Alphatia which had established the Protectorate two centuries earlier. Through his own magical might, the skillful military command of his ally Ionus Zendrolion, and no small amount of the legendary Thyatian treachery, the Trezantine Kingdom (as it is known to historians) was able to overcome the challenges to its independence made by the Alphatian Kingdom of Bassan (located in the modern Emirate of Abbashan.)
It should be here noted that these supposedly legendary victories would have turned to terrible defeats had the entire might of even one of the mainland Alphatian kingdoms been focused on the rebellious Protectorate. That this did not occur may be attributed to a disconnect between the colonial Alphatians in Bassan and their brethren elsewhere in the Empire. It is now believed that while most of the Alphatians alive at this time were of a generation influenced by the power of Elemental Earth, and so inclined towards stability and isolationism, those of Bassan were (perhaps because of the supposed connections between the Alasiyan basin and the plane of Elemental Fire) still of a "Fire" generation, like that which had earlier conquered Thyatis.
In any event, by the year 999 After Landfall, the Kingdom of Bassan was nearly bankrupt, its mightiest mages were slain, and no reinforcements were coming from the Empire. The King sued for peace, and Trezantium graciously agreed, with the signing of a treaty firmly establishing the northern border of his kingdom. Most contemporary observers expected that this peace would last no more than a few years, enough time for the Bassanians to regain their strength and strike back. They might well have been correct, but events would take a very different turn over the next year.
Thyatian histories refer to what transpired over the next year as Trezantine Conspiracy, holding that Trezantium, corrupted by power, entered into a covert agreement with the Kings of the Pearl Islands, Ochalea and Thothia to gradually reduce his Thyatian subjects to abject slavery under his Alphatian-styled rule. This conspiracy was discovered by Zendrolion, who responded by assassinating (or rather 'executing') Trezantium and the Kings of the Islands and Ochalea when they visiting Thyatis. Most non-Thyatian historians suspect that this was nothing less than a palace coup.
Faced with the certainty of war against the Islands, Ochalea and Thothia, Zendrolion declared that he was 'left with no choice' but to accept the office of Perpetual Dictator being urged on him by the ancient Thyatian senate. (A remnant of the nation's pre-Alphatian republic, the senate had begun to meet again in 998 to present petitions to Trezantium 'for the proper governance of the People of Thyatis'.) Within a few months, he had ceased to style himself as 'Perpetual Dictator' and was referring to himself as Emperor. By 1001, this was finally formalized by the introduction of new coins declaring themselves to have been minted in the "1st year After Coronation", or AC 1.
The successful conquest of Bassan a few years later, long before the fallen Kingdom had restored its strength, made the new Empire a reality. While Zendrolion was killed in battle on the Isle of Dawn in AC 20, he had made arrangements for his wife, Valentia, to succeed him. She reigned with surprising justice and efficiency for the next fifteen years, and was succeeded by an adopted son approved by the senate. The Empire continued to expand and grow under several relatively short dynasties that followed.
While stymied in its eastward expansion by forces from Thothia and, eventually, other Alphatian kingdoms, the Thyatian military juggernaut was virtually unhindered on the continent itself. The Traldar were incorporated first, then the remnants of Cyndicea. The elves of Canolbarth persuaded a particularly merciful Emperor to treat fairly with them. The petty kingdoms and city states of the Darokin plains were easily conquered. And then, towards the end of its third century, like all things considered unstoppable, the armies of the Empire were finally stopped.
Little is known of the barbaric peoples of the lowlands and highlands surrounding the great plateau before this point. It is believed that they lived much as they do now, yet a great change came upon them in that century, in the person of the single individual who would have the greatest impact on the history of these clans and the world -- the Greatest of Great Chiefs, Atruaghin. Uniting the clans, turning them into an army, Atruaghin then led that army against the Thyatians who had already conquered Darokin and were in the process of preparing to march eastward against the remnants of the recently collapsed Empire of Shahjapur.
What happened next was the greatest military disaster that the Thyatian Empire had ever experienced. Both the reigning Emperor and his heir were killed in battle, and the order of the Thyatian armies collapsed utterly. (It has been suggested that either the Emperor or possibly the prince may have been actually murdered by ambitious members of their own general staff, further contributing to the chaos on the field.) The bulk of the Thyatian forces retreated back along the roads to Thyatis itself, with a handful of cohorts remaining in the Thyatian-influenced city states of Darokin, to become the seeds of that land's legions.
The legends of the Atruaghin Clans claim that, after this immense victory, Atruaghin swore to follow the Thyatians back to their own lands and fight them there, and record that he did so, even burning Thyatis to the ground before the Immortals raised him up to join them as one of them. Thyatian history does not record any such fire, however; it is much more likely that the Great Chief did pursue the retreating imperial forces only to die in one of a dozen unrecorded battles that followed, or while still on the chase. (He was, after all, more than sixty years old.)
Yet those legends speak a greater truth, for this disaster was only one of many which would grip the Thyatian Empire. There was the overthrow of the Thyatian governors of Ierendi, the rise of the Alasiyan religious leader Al-Kalim and his holy war against the Empire, the rebellion in Hattias, a resurgent Fire generation in Alphatia, and plague in Minrothad and Thyatis itself. By the end of the fourth century, the rule of the Emperor of Thyatis extended only as far as the walls of Metropolitan Thyatis itself -- and, according to plays from that time, often failing to reach certain neighborhoods within those walls.
Matters would not improve for some five hundred years. In that time, there were periods when the Emperor was little more than a mouthpiece for the true ruler of the city, generally but not always the Pontifex (head of the Thyatian church). The city fell under the rule of crusader kings from Darokin at another point. There was even a brief attempt to restore an incredibly idealized version of the ancient Republic of Thyatis, which lasted only a handful of years. The Thyatian language, spread by the conquests, remained the common tongue, but the Empire itself was an irrelevant backwater.
The renaissance that began towards the end of the ninth century was almost an accident. The rise of the Republic of Darokin led to a resurgence in trade, strengthening both Ierendi and Minrothad and thus, incidentally, leading to economic growth in Thyatis as well. Simultaneously, the title of Emperor of Thyatis descended to the adopted son-in-law of the retiring Emperor. Under the name Gabronius IV, he proved to be both an extremely capable military leader as well as an adept political and civic authority, not to mention having a talent for selecting capable and loyal lieutenants.
In the final year of the ninth century, the first Thyatian cohorts raised in centuries marched forth from the capital to restore order to the roads of the Empire and reclaim rebellious provinces. Most proved willing to accept Thyatian overlordship in exchange for stability and protection, though there was predictable resistance from the lords of Hattias. Under the command of Sir Stephan Karameikos, the cohorts re-conquered Traladara in the space of a few months, for which deed their commander was rewarded with the title of Duke of that region, becoming the first of that name.
Naval forces were also raised with the help of the Minrothad Guilds, who were willing to enter into an alliance with Thyatis that theoretically respected their sovereignty. As a result, the further flung reaches of the old empire were recontacted and reminded of their subject status, which most accepted with good grace. Under the command of Admiral Teng, the Thyatian navy actually expanded the reach of the current empire beyond that of the original by sailing south from Ochalea to reach the southern continent of Davania and begin charting and exploring the Hinterlands. Last but not least, the first Thyatian colonies in Norwold were established at the end of the first decade of the tenth century.
For all of his accomplishments, however, even his greatest admirers have been known to admit that Gabronius IV's greatest failure came soon after that -- put simply, he lived almost five years too long. Had he died in the same year as the foundation of Oceansend, the throne would have passed to his eldest son, who instead died in a shipwreck in 912. Thus, when he followed his son two years later, it passed instead to a younger son, barely out of his teens and not nearly as capable as either his father or elder brother. While Gabronius V would reign for more than forty-five years, twice as long as his father, it can honestly be said that the single 'accomplishment' of his reign was precipitating the greatest tragedy of the second empire's history -- the Alphatian Invasion of 959.
It has already been stated that had even one of the mainland Alphatian kingdoms supplied troops to suppress the Trezantine rebellion, it would have died aborning. This is not speculation, but rather cold fact. It was demonstrated beyond any argument, as the combined forces of a single Alphatian kingdom, Theranderol -- admittedly supplemented with mercenaries drawn from several of the other kingdoms -- were wholly devoted to the destruction of the Thyatian Empire -- admittedly a stronger and more established realm than had been in place nearly a thousand years earlier.
Daily, in Thyatis, magical sendings would come from the Empire's outposts on the Isle of Dawn reporting their complete conquest. The desperate Gabronius virtually stripped the provinces of troops to supplement the diminished armies of Metropolitan Thyatis. Mages were contacted and offered grants of land on the island of Sclaras in exchange for service to the Empire 'for the duration of the crisis'; many accepted. The temples and shrines of every city on the mainland were packed as the people prayed for some miracle to stop the Alphatians before they began the assault that everyone knew was coming.
Their prayers went unheard. On Thaumont 1, 960, the Alphatian flying ships appeared in the air over Thyatis and began bombarding it. Fire and ice, lightning and darkness, were cast down to shatter whole buildings. Fiends, elementals and the undead were summoned and set loose to ravage. A single cadre of soldiers were teleported into the Emperor's Palace and began slaughtering every human being they found within. The head of Gabronius V was captured, reanimated and set on a pike over the wreckage of the city gates, endlessly repeating the expression, "All hail Alphatia."
And then, towards the end of the first week, matters began to get worse. But in this darkest hour, the hero that Thyatis needed, if perhaps not that which they might have chosen, made himself known. Thincol the Brave, frontiersman, adventurer, mercenary, thug, gladiator, and champion, emerged from the labrynth beneath the Great Arena to begin fighting a desperate and decidedly irregular war against the Alphatian occupiers. He soon joined forces with the tiny remnant of the cohorts which had survived so far, and the smaller remnant of the mages who'd agreed to fight for the Empire and lived up to their end of the deal instead of fleeing.
The situation which confronted them was dire indeed. Through divinations, the leader of the mages, Demetrion Karagenteropolus, had learned the full extent of the invaders' plans. A madman commanded the Alphatians, and under his orders, they had not come to conquer the city. They had come to destroy it, slaughtering every living creature who dwelled within the walls, leaving no stone standing, and then salt the very earth. And then every other city of mainland Thyatis would suffer the same fate, and the Empire of Thyatis would disappear from the pages of history.
Was this in fact their plan? Alphatian historians deny it, while admitting that the commander of the fleet had greatly exceeded the orders originally given him by the Emperor Tylion, and produce documents purporting to be recall orders sent by the Emperor, all apparently ignored. Yet it cannot be denied that those orders could easily have been forged to establish a plausible denial of the Emperor's own culpability. On the other hand, the acts of the invasion force to this point were already well-beyond any previously documented wartime actions committed by an Alphatian force. Halzunthram, the most terrible Alphatian warlord to ever set foot on the continent, never unleashed fiends or the undead against civilian populations.
As it would turn out, the commander of that fleet did not survive to answer any charges from either Empire, nor was his body recovered for post-mortal inquiry. He and all those aboard his flagship were lost in the last desperate strike of the Thyatian resistance, an all-out assault against the invaders covering the insertion of an invisible, flying group of adventurers aboard that flagship. The full details of their fight will never be known, for they perished as well when the enchantment powering the flagship's flight abruptly failed and it crashed, fire exploding from its portholes, into the bay.
The loss of the flagship, strangely, paralyzed the other ships of the fleet, and several were captured in the next few minutes, before the rest began an immediate withdrawal from the skies over Thyatis. Matters were still very desperate on the ground below, until the arrival of several auxilliary units of Kerendan calvary led by Duke Stephan Karameikos II reinforced the resistance. By nightfall, the city of Thyatis had been liberated, with a handful of the captured airships now under naval command in pursuit of the remaining Alphatian fleet.
It was then that Thincol the Brave revealed to his comrades that a single one of the late Emperor Gabronius' children, his youngest daughter Gabriela, had surivived the assault on the palace and found herself under Thincol's protection. As the sole surviving member of the royal family, she was the heir to the throne, and yet it was clear that the Senate (once those of its members had also survived could be found) would never confirm her as a reigning Empress. She would need a mighty husband to help her guide the Empire through the hard times to come. Conveniently, she was madly in love with her protector.
And so it came to pass that Thincol Torion, adventurer and conqueror, at last became Emperor of Thyatis, and has reigned well, if perhaps not always as wisely as one might wish, for the last forty years. His first official act as Emperor was to have the head of his late father-in-law taken down from its pike and, in a solemn ceremony, burned. Once the flames consumed so much of it that it could no longer speak its mocking motto, he made his first declaration: "Long live Thyatis."
May it be so.
[A brief word of belated introduction -- each of these essays is written in-universe, and without any sort of 'divine awareness' about events. The first one was written by a relatively skeptical but generally pro-Thyatian historian; this is written by a sage of the elves of Vyalia.]
Part 2: Before Thyatis
Where did they come from, before the Milenians took them under what they called their protection and made Thyatians, Kerendans and Hattians out of them, as we know that they took folk from the northern Isle of Dawn and tried and failed to make yet another tribe of slave soldiers? We saw that latter, when the Empire was in its final throes of its long dying, but the former occurred ere we returned to this land. Yet the simple logic that the Milenians themselves so loved tells us what must have happened; it was an old trick to them, for they had no new ones, so they must have done it before. Yet that logic cannot tell us when, or who, or where.
It tells us why, at least. They knew themselves to be enlightened, did the Milenians, and one who knows themselves to be enlightened always seeks to share that light with others. They had sought the truth, and found it. To refuse to do so is a heresy against that light. And in truth, they had found so much. They were learned and wise, not in the ways of The Never-To-Be-Sufficiently-Damned Kingdom, or of Tuma which followed in their path, but in ways that we honored and honor still, so that we smile to see them reborn in some small way in Darokin that rose on their bones.
They were a great people. Yet, just as the poet tells us, "Too much love will kill you, as sure as none at all," so too may too much wisdom may be as much poison as the greatest folly. So it was with the Milenians. May it not be so in Darokin which rose on their bones. We need not fear, at least, that will be so in Thyatis which was shaped in their image.
Where did they come from? The Hattians give us a clue, though its worth is hard to judge. They have preserved fragments of a dead language separate from that they share with the Kerendans and Thyatians. They imagine that they have hidden it from all. They imagine a great deal. As it happens, some of what they imagine is true -- this ancient tongue is clearly kin to that we now know as Heldannic, the language of the Northern Reaches. Yet what they imagine that they know because of that need not be so. It is, in truth, a clue that it is almost impossible to build upon. Yet it is the only one we have, others being little more than guesswork.
Were they one people who became three, or three who became one then three again, or some other combination of numbers? The classical form of the Thyatian language which unites them is the child of the Milenian language, yet has other influences which we cannot identify. (It shows no relation to the hidden language of the Hattians, which one imagines is a great comfort to them.) Yet the way that each of the three peoples employs has ever been as different as the way that its descendant is employed by the Ispans and Ladins of Glantri, or by the folk of Darokin. One people who became three? Three who became one, under what the Milenians called their protection, then three again once that protection was no more?
For it became no more. The Milenians' nation disintegrated in civil unrest as their leaders turned their backs on the principles of moderation and self-restraint which had made them a great and wise people. Those of the Thyatians and the Hattians who have learned of these dark times imagine themselves as having contributed to that disintegration by rebelling against their masters. In truth, that came later, after the Milenians' newer slaves had already rebelled, sacking the great capital of the the nation and then fleeing into the highlands and lowlands of the west.
Afterwards, and after the first battles of the civil war, leaders among the Thyatians, Hattians and Kerendans came together. They found that the thought of fighting against each other as proxies of their masters was unappealing. Therefore, a majority of the three peoples chose to abandon their masters and flee to the east, perhaps knowing that they would find no welcome among the highlanders. A minority remained, and those who survived the final disintegration of the Milenians became a leaven within the people who eventually rose up on their bones.
Those who fled traveled in two groups, one following the sea coast and the other travelling northeastward, north of the Cruth Mountains. Both groups were a combination of all three of the 'nations', yet a subtle difference was nonetheless present. Those Hattians who joined the northern exodus were not quite as heterodox as their southern countrymen, not so dedicated to the notions of racial purity which even then were beginning to emerge among them. A tragedy perhaps; had there been a more even distribution, those notions might not have caught hold -- or they might have caught hold more strongly among both contingents. Who can say? We merely watch.
Of course, the exodus did not go unopposed, and the Milenians pursued their fleeing slave soldiers. But that pursuit was foiled by the fury and courage of the one called Vanya. Basilea Makhetes, they named her, and rightly, for all that she was no princess but a child of generations upon generations of slaves. Whatever the myths of those who followed her might claim, on that day, she was as magnificent and glorious and terrible as the songs tell. We do not follow her path, but there is worth in deeds done to save the lives of those who cannot save themselves, no matter the reason. We will remember her. We will.
The southern group made their way east. After briefly skirmishing with those Traladarans who yet lived in the shadow of Krakatos, they continued their way east, coming at last into our forests. Some of us offered our help. It was rebuffed, as we might have expected it to be. Onward they traveled, and came at last to those lands that would be called Kerendas, and Thyatis, and last of all Hattias, all lands empty of humans (though not of other things) and waiting the guiding hand. In time, the Horseclans of Kerendas, the Kingdom and later Republic of Thyatis, and the Principalities of Hattias would be born.
The northern group had an easier time of it, at first. The route that they took led them first to Celenikos, furthest westward outpost of the lands of Cyndicea. They were welcomed, and urged to travel further towards the heartlands of that kingdom. Yet by the time they arrived there, a change had come on Cyndicea, with the rise of a new religion that worshipped the bestial entity Zargon. The refugees were not welcomed, but forced to fight for their lives and their freedom once more. They succeeded, sacking the city, but were decimated in the process. Eventually, they fled southwestward, to the foothills of the Altan Tepe mountains, where they became the people of Dythesthenia and Nicostenia.
The two branches of this family would not be reunited until they were both conquered by the Alphatians, sometime later. As these things go, it would be a brief unification, lasting only until the northern lands were abandoned as the Empire began its first collapse, wheron many of these people fled, not south with the cohorts, but west once again, in search of a new land. They found it in the north, beneath the Glantrian alps, becoming the Ispans of Belcadiz and the Ladins of Caurenze.
So it has come to pass, and yet still we cannot answer the question, where did they come from, any more than we can answer the question, where are they going. Yet we will watch. We will.
(This first look at Karameikos was written by ... well, I think it should be fairly obvious who wrote it.)
Part 3: Karameikos
Previous chroniclers of this region have almost universally fallen into the trap of credulously accepting Traladaran folklore as in some way historical, rather than a substandard poetic elaboration of 'the tale of that time the orcs came and killed some local toughs'. As such tragedies occur somewhere every day, there is no sense in assigning whatever dubious truth might lie in the stanzas of The Song of Halav to a date in antiquity. It is entirely plausible, even likely, that it relates events which took place in the mid fourth century, just a few decades before it was written down.
Even the 'evidence' touted by credulous proponents of this so-called history, the description in the song of the fall of Krakatos, can be easily explained without recourse to its supposedly ancient origins. Krakatos is certainly the most ancient set of ruins to be found in the populated areas of our Grand Duchy, and most likely has its origins as a town surrounding a fortress of a lord of the Sea People -- those mysterious island-dwellers who left their ruins on Ierendi and Minrothad and much of the coastline as well. But it is also well-known that the efficient engineers of the Thyatian Empire have never hesitated to build on the foundation of ruins to create their own, more modern fortifications.
Since Traladara was one of the first conquests of the Empire's western expansion, it is entirely plausible that Krakatos was rebuilt by the Imperial Engineers, using it to provide a southern anchor for the road north to modern Selenica, then as now a vital link in the chain of trade in this region. When the cohorts were forced to retreat from the region in the early fourth century, those fortifications would have been abandoned, but still employed by the half-civilized Traladarans who remained behind. Eventually, of course, they would fall, whether to attack by humanoids, by the less civlized Traladarans, or even simple mismanagement by those who had no notion of how to maintain fortifications beyond their ability to construct.
This was the pattern of Traladaran history in the interregnum. First the wizard king Gygar, then the Darokinian crusaders who built Riverfork Keep and the fortifications now known as Koriszegy Keep. In each case a powerful external force would arrive in the area, rule for a time, then pass its authority to the Traladarans under their charge, who tried and failed to maintain the authority of their tutors, having no ability to rule anything more substantial than a village. Of all of them, the Koriszegy clan came closest, and their greatest accomplishment was to provoke the wrath of Thyatis.
Admittedly, the full details of the siege of the Koriszegy's temple keep have been lost, beyond the report that it was a pyrrhic victory for Sir Stefan Karameikos, the commander of the cohorts sent to subdue the region. Yet I am inclined to regard that report as a questionable account, for would the wise Emperor Gabronius really have bestowed the freshly minted title of Duke of Traladara upon a general who had lost whole armies? And bestowed that title certainly was, and borne by the first duke of that name for nearly forty years, until he came to be known as Duke Stefan the Old.
For various reasons, the first duke's son was raised far from his father's court, in the Karameikos family's ancestral homeland of Machetos. One should of course not criticize one's betters, but it cannot be denied that Duke Stefan II was perhaps too inclined towards a certain laxity when it came to the rule of his duchy, entrusting it to stewards selected from the local population -- thus unwittingly continuing the pattern of previous rulers. Between this, the Duke's demise in the immediate aftermath of the Spike Assault, and his son's youth, the Traladarans enjoyed nearly thirty years of an illusory independence that threatened to tear down all the Thyatian gains of the first forty years of rule.
Fortunately, that changed when Stefan III, the present duke, attained his majority in 959. Having already earned the trust and friendship of Emperor Thincol, he presented the Emperor with a proposal by which the Duchy of Traladara would be elevated to the status of a Grand Duchy, enjoying sovereign rule yet still bound by treaty and alliance to the Empire. As this would place the burden of garrisoning the enormous region solely on the Duke's shoulders, thus freeing the Emperor's efforts to focus on the remainder of the Empire, this must have been a most attractive offer, and was perforce accepted. Thus, on the first of the new year, 960, Stefan III Karameikos was declared the ruler of the newly established Grand Duchy of Karameikos ... and promptly had to fight the revolting Traladarans for the dubious privilege of ruling them.
However, he was victorious, in large part thanks to the courage and skill of his allies, among them his most worthy cousin, the Baron Ludwig von Hendriks. It should here be said that the sinister implications of name given to the Black Eagle's fortress, Fort Doom, arise from a confusion -- in the Hattian dialect, 'doom' does not mean 'unfortunate fate', but rather 'unavoidable fate'. It is a name which speaks of the penalties of rebellion, and should be admired rather than shunned. May they both continue to rule justly and well for years to come.