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YEZCHAMENID EMPIRE

Location: Continent of Brun, northern Arm of the Immortals, between the Yalu Bay and the Sea of Brun. WB

Area: 508,500 sq. miles (1,317,015 sq. km.).

Population: 1,600,000 (80% humans, 10% pegataurs, 5% dwarves, some elves and demi-ogres).

Language: Dars, Hatti, Yivj, Mebir, Churan, Pegataur, Midannite and Dremen.

Coinage: Talen (pp), darik (gp), sicles (sp), sabzi (cp).

Taxes: 10% property tax, assessed every Fy. 1 (sometimes this is paid with produce or crafted goods, in the case of farmers or artisans); once every five years, on Nu. 1, a special army tax is levied, for 5% of a person's net worth (calculated based on property taxes paid the previous year).

Government Type: Hereditary monarchy. Divided into nine Zatrapies, each headed by an hereditary family or relative of the shah-an-shah (emperor).

Industries: Trade, textiles, silk, spice, herding (sheep, ox, goats), fishing, rare woods, oil, mining (gold, copper, iron), arts and literature, magic.

Important Figures: Zhoher Yezcham (Shah-an-shah, human, male, M1), Quymer Yezcham (Imperial Regent, human, male, Pr16 of Mizara-Idan (Ixion)), Parsan Zhemenieh (Zatrap of Darsi, human, male, F13), Gulbuddin Marzik (Zatrap of Uvaraz, human, male, F10), Mursillis Labinitas (Zatrap of Zrakan, human, male, M12), Azartan Cemirtus (Zatrap of Hattas, human, male, T9), Zholodeer Yemilcataur (Zatrap of Yivja, pegataur, male, F13), Nisir Suun (Zatrap of Pazarkan, human, male, F5), Eratkar Kasusu (Zatrap of Mebirush, human, male, Pr11 of Edad (Thor)), Odarit Muztasir (Zatrap of Chura, human, male, F14), Djomel Tirruk (Zatrap of Midan, human, male, M11).

Flora and Fauna: The Yezchamenid Empire is a large and geographically diverse nation. In its central regions, much of which are occupied by the Endworld Line, the hilly and mountainous country is covered by a blanket of lush deciduous growth, including redwoods, sequoias, as well as sturdy stands of oak and birch. Further inland, towards the mountain range itself, the trees begin to give way to dense shrubbery, though the occasional pine tree juts above the surrounding vegetation-particularly in the higher elevations. In the many coastal river valleys, however, is where one will find the most lush plant life. Amidst farmland one will see carefully tended stands of mahogany and teak, as well as vast tracts of various spices. The more exotic plant life includes strangle vines and whip weed (deep in the forests), and some open fields are known to host grab grass.

The empire's animal life is just as varied. In the uplands can be found many species of mountain goat, preyed upon by the occasional wolf. Towards sea level, in the forests, can be found wolves, bears, wild cats of various sizes (including reclusive tigers), deer, assorted rodents, and many species of bird. The forests are also home to humanoids of various types (primarily orcs and hobgoblins), as well as owlbears, decapuses, araneas, and displacer beasts. The mountains are known to house a number of hill and mountain giants, as well as griffons.

Further Reading: None.

Description by Marina Takanitas.

Following my exploration of the region around Bellayne, I decided to head further west, as was suggested to me by Joshuan. It seems the far west of Brun is home to many nations only known in passing in the Old World. The journey was long, but I did manage to make some contacts, and have a good look at some of the Yezchamenid Empire's more important settlements. What follows is the information I was able to glean from my travels-though my fellow Kastelians would be far more interested in the exotic goods to be found here!

The Land

The Yezchamenid Empire stretches along the two coasts of the Arm of the Immortals from the southern foothills of the Resht Zanbaar (southern Endworld Line) to the Resht Kazit (Northern Shield of the Immortals). Most of the empire's population is concentrated on two major plains: the fluvial plain of the Zebris Valley, between the Northern Shield of the Immortals and Dzemayaut Range, and the Jyar Plain, northwest of the Yalu Bay. The rest of the population is concentrated along the coastal plains and in the higher valleys, only the pegataurs dwell in the highest regions.

The weather of the empire varies widely from one region to the other. Overall, the climate is mild and temperate, with the western coast being slightly drier than the eastern, although this changes at the latitude of Attasar, where the colder currents coming from the northern Sea of Brun meet with the warmer waters of the western coast of the Arm of the Immortals. Inland, the weather varies according with the altitude; the Zebris Valley shares a similar weather pattern as the western coast, for example. At sea level, or in the large valleys, there are normally four seasons in the empire: a long dry summer, a milder yet dry fall, a short but rainy winter and a rainy and warm spring during which hurricanes may follow the coast up to the Yezchamenid Empire.

The zatrapies are:

Darsia: Darsia is the largest of all the zatrapies; it is located on the Jyar Plain, and overlooks the waters of Yalu Bay. It is characterised by large valleys flowing slowly toward the bay. Small white houses dotting the land are sometimes grouped in small fortified hamlets, sometimes built atop a hill. Many shrines dedicated to the philosophy of Zaranaster may be found along the trails and roads of Darsia; inside them, one can find the ever-burning fires dedicated to Mizara-Idan; it is considered as a crime for a non-believer to even breathe into the air near such a sacred fire. The biggest cities of the zatrapy are Darsagades, the imperial capital (pop. 37,000) and Ragmata (pop. 13,000), the empire's major port on Yalu Bay

Uvaraz: This small zatrapy is peopled almost solely by Dars, but was separated from Darsia more than 300 years ago as a gift to a cavalry captain who saved the live of the shah-an-shah. Since then, the people of Uvaraz have developed an identity of their own, but the main thing that distinguishes them from the Dars of Darsia is the fact that the hivebrood is a constant threat in the region, and that many from Uvaraz are infected and cured or sent to the southern steppes. The zatrapy's capital is Uvar (pop. 4,500), a pretty-looking port on Yalu Bay that also serves as the main naval base on this side of the empire.

Pazarkan: Pazarkan is the land of the pegataurs, located atop the high peaks of the northern Immortal Shield. It is a region blown by constant fiery winds and showered by the region's worst thunderstorms in winter and spring. The pegataurs have adapted well to this environment and have built what they call "cloud cities" on the verge of the most precipitous cliffs. The biggest of these cloud cities is Degerin (pop. 9,000), the zatrapy's capital and Pegat (pop. 8,500) a city in two parts: the upper level, reserved for the pegataurs, and the lower level where human merchants of the rest of the empire come to trade with the winged centaurs.

Zrakan: Zrakan is one of the poorest zatrapies of the empire, yet it is of strategic importance since its high forested hills and the narrow valleys are the easiest (and almost only) way to cross from the eastern part of the empire to the western coast. People there survive by herding sheep and goats, and by trading their carpets (renowned for their quality) beyond the empire's frontiers. Also, one of the main resources of the zatrapy's administration comes from the trade on the imperial road and the central state's credits to maintain it. Praptanj (pop. 3,500) is the regional capital; it is a bleak city where only the central market, the bazaar, seems to live.

Hattas: Hattas is the empire's jewel. It provides almost half of the empire's mineral resources and nearly three quarters of its timber. It also profits from the imperial road, which brings even more riches to the zatrap's coffers. However, Hattas has always been one of the most turbulent zatrapies of the empire, for its people still believe that it should head the empire instead of the Dars. Nevertheless, the riches that Hattas receives from the empire's inner trade are enough to convince them that stability is better than civil war. Attasar (pop. 11,500) is filled with opulence and monuments that were built in the time when it was the empire's capital. It is also a major centre for the study of magic in the empire.

Yivja: Yivja is the land of the empire's best and richest merchants. The Yivj are among the best sailors living in Brun, and have ventured farther than many other seaborne peoples. Their only problem is that, if they are good merchants and sailors, they are poor warriors; this helps explain why the empire's overseas trade is still constrained by foreign piracy, after centuries of fighting. Utsidon (pop. 21,000), the capital city of the zatrapy, is the empire's biggest and most prosperous port; Bertsos (pop. 11,000) is the home of the imperial fleet and a holy site of the Yivj's religion.

Mebirush: The land of the Mebirs encompasses the most fertile lands of all the empire. There, the irrigation network, is, in itself, a real wonder. Rice, sorghum and wheat are harvested in large amounts, and date palms are grown along the main rivers and on the seaside and provide an additional source of revenue for the peasants. Flax is also grown both for the production of linseed oil and for its textile fibres. There are two cities of great importance in Mebirush: Ishmar (pop. 17,000), the zatrapy's capital, is a impressive city renowned throughout the empire for its immense gardens and its multitude of fountains, and Kadour (pop. 11,000), while more austere is also impressive for its fifteen-story-high ziggurat.

Chura: Chura is the land that has been inhabited by sedentary people for the longest period in the empire. Artifacts and ruins of long gone peoples and kingdoms dot its lands. Chura is somewhat smaller than the territory inhabited by the Churans, which extends well beyond the frontier with Midan and along the frontier with Mebirush. Chura comprises most of the central Zebris Valley and the fields are almost as bountiful as they are in Mebirush. Asniveh (pop. 14,000) is the historical capital city of the Churans and it is still the capital of their zatrapy; Regnieh was traditionally the second city of importance in the zatrapy, but it has been given to Midan by the current central administration in a bold move to weaken the influence of the Zatrap of Chura.

Midan: Midan is the most artificial zatrapy of them all. It has been given to the Midannite nomads by the first emperors so that they would help the central government control the Churans' aspirations to sovereignty. Now, the Midannites are a minority in their own lands, most of them live in the hills at the foothills of the great Immortal Shield (which, from Midan's side, looks like a wall of rock thousands of feet high), while the Churans occupy the valleys and cities. Nonetheless, Midan is one of the richest zatrapies of the empire, its riches coming from its lands, ideal for the cultivation of wheat, and from its hills that contain many gold and silver deposits. Nishep (pop. 10,000) once was the Churan kings' summer capital, now it is the permanent capital of the zatrapy. Regnieh (pop. 7,000) has been considered as part of the Zatrapy of Chura for most of the reign of the Yezchameni, until the current regent decided to give it to Midan.

The People

The Yezchamenid Empire is a multiethnic state where no one ethnic group really predominates. Relations between the peoples of the empire are free of competition or confrontation on ethnic grounds; the people of the empire refer to themselves as Yezchameni before any other designation based on language, ethnicity or race. The largest ethnic group of the empire is the Dars, who came from the steppes of inner Brun about two millennia ago. These people are of approximately the same stock as the Huleans and the people of the Midlands, even though they mingled with some of the Pitchans who were living on the Jyar Plain before their arrival. Dars can be found throughout the empire serving in administrative offices or trading with the locals, but they are predominant in the three zatrapies of the northwest, Darsia, Uvaraz and Zrakan. Many dialects are spoken among the Dars and may vary wildly from one region to the other. The second most important group of people in the empire are the Churans. They live principally in the Zebris Valley in Chura, Midan and southern Mebirush. Of all the people in the empire, they are the closest descendants of the original Pitchans even if they have lost most of their ancestors' original culture. Some Churans are of mixed Oltec (Pitchans) and Tanagoro blood, which explains their darker completion. The Mebirs and Yivj share the same language and origin but their cultures are so different that the Empire treats them as different people, which they, in fact, are after centuries of divergent development-culturally and religiously. Both peoples are descendants of the first Tanagoro settlers that landed on the western coast around BC 1700 and were integrated with the Pitchans of the coast. The Hattas are closer to the Oltecs than to their Pitchan cousins, they were forced to migrate from the lower basin of the Yalu River to the forested hills of the western coast when the Dars tribes arrived in the region. Since then, they might be considered more as a blend of Oltec and Neathar since some intermixing occurred between the two nomadic groups. The Midannites are a smaller ethnic group, they are close to the Dars since they came from the same faraway steppes, but were sent to the higher part of the Zebris Valley so that they would ensure the obedience of the native Churans during the time of the early Kanastenid Empire. Since then, the Midannites have lost most of their earlier cultural traits due to contact with the Churans, but they still consider themselves different. The Dremens are descendants of the Pitchan nomadic tribes, though they have abandoned this way of life long ago, and are now among the most closed societies of the empire. Among them, marriage with the other groups has always been forbidden, which explains their quasi-pure Oltec/Pitchan traits. As for the pegataurs of Pazarkan, they came from the northern mountains millennia ago, and much of their memories of those distant times were lost during their exile. Since then, they have been very reclusive in their high mountains, but accept the suzerainty of the shah-an-shah, for he traditionally gives them the best positions in the army and leaves them to manage their own lands as they want.

The social structure is roughly the same throughout the empire, the main social divide coming not from the different cultural areas but more from the cleavage between the sedentary people of the coastal and fluvial plains, and the semi-nomads of the hills in Zrakan, Hattas and Draya. These peoples' social and political structures are built upon the clannish ties and leadership is, in general, given to the elders. Clerics and priests are most of the time the counsellors of these chiefs, magic-users are few but respected, and warriors are numerous and skilled. In the urban areas and in the rural communities of the valleys and coasts, social classes are more distinct, with the scholars and religious people being almost on par with the hereditary nobility. Rich merchants may wield more influence than the nobility and scholars and the richest of them may have a similar standing as the upper class, but, generally, they live in conditions closer to the bulk of the labouring population. While highly respected, the free peasants and craftsmen must economically support the entire empire and pay most of the taxes. The law allows slavery in all the empire but the teachings of Zaranaster have had such an impact that some regions are nearly freed from this form of exploitation. The presence of slaves may be deceiving, since some of the richest landowners may grant their slaves the right to retain some of their production for their own use (they may choose to sell it or to consume it). It is not uncommon to see some slaves of the Zebir Valley, for example, live more comfortably than the freemen of the less fertile regions.

Historically, the empire has been quite decentralised, the regional leaders being quite free to do what they want as long as they respected their obligations toward the shah-an-shah, paid their taxes and sent their armies when needed. Nowadays, the zatraps still have almost the same autonomy as kings would have elsewhere, but discontent against the central administration of the imperial regent have encouraged the zatraps to ask for more autonomy. Recently, they have been increasingly reluctant to send their taxes and military to Darsagades, and some are nearly asking for full independence.

One of the most surprising things in the empire is its code of law. It came down through the generations and, albeit modified regularly, has retained most of its original characteristics while being quite modern and impressively comprehensive. Almost everything is codified in Yezchamenid law, from the unified weight of coinage, to the age at which one may marry (15 years for a man and 13 for a woman), to the exact distance at which one must kneel when facing a noble or a high-ranking priest. There are many who say that this strict and comprehensive, while just, code of law is the key to the survival of an empire that might have crumbled under the weight of its ethnic and religious cleavages.

The Yezchamenid Empire is almost as diverse on the religious grounds as it is ethnically. The traditional religious tolerance of the rulers has allowed many pantheons and philosophical schools to develop and perpetuate themselves within the political framework of the empire. Religious conflicts were few in imperial history, and happened only when no legitimate ruler was in charge of the central administration. Spellcasters of the empire are called mages regardless of the origin (magical or granted by the Immortals) of their powers. The peoples of the empire may be broadly divided in five main religious groups: the followers of Zaranaster's teachings (found mainly in Darsia, Uvaraz and Zrakan); the followers of the Churans' pantheon (most of the Churans and Mebirs, and some Midannites); the Hattas and the Yivj both have their own pantheons, and the Dremens have their own ways of accomplishing miracles. The pegataurs also have their own pantheon, but many of them have been converted to the teachings of Zaranaster.

Zaranasterism: Zaranaster, was a merchant of Dars origin, who went to the land of the enduks, Nimmur, during the seventh century BC and came back enlightened by the winged minotaurs' faith in a sole Immortal. Once back in Darsia, he began to preach the faith in a sole Immortal, Mizara-Idan (Ixion). According to Zaranaster, Mizara-Idan was accompanied by two different immortal and immaterial spirits. Spenta Mainyu, the one He loved and cherished, was a good spirit and was the guardian of a paradise-like place where the souls of those who did good would go after their deaths; the second, Angra Mainyu, despised by Mizara-Idan, was of evil essence and was responsible for the punishment of the evil beings. The teachings of Zaranaster were revolutionary for the Dars as they gave a meaning to the people's lives. They were not the pawns of the Immortals anymore and were free to choose their path between good and evil and be rewarded or punished accordingly in the next life. According to the prophet's teachings, fire was of holy essence since it was given to the humans by Mizara-Idan to fight the darkness of Angra Mainyu's realm.

If, at first, the teachings of Zaranaster were followed tightly by his followers, the passing centuries and the actions of the Immortals have changed what Ixion once thought would be a realm devoted to His own magnificence. The two Mainyus, which were only supposed to be avatars of Ixion, began to act independently from the Sun God's will. At first, only the evil side of His personality acted autonomously: it was Hel who used this identity to influence the followers of Zaranaster's teachings to do evil acts. Then, in a quick response, Odin overtook the role of Spenta Mainyu to balance the Entropic Immortal. Since then, the followers of Zaranaster's philosophy more of less have a pantheon made of three Immortals even if most ignore this fact.

The Churan Pantheon: The Churan Pantheon is a classic pantheon if compared with Zaranasterism, it consists of many Immortals revered elsewhere on Mystara, even if they have different names or functions. Another specific trait of this pantheon is the role given to the shedu (winged bulls with human heads from another dimension, the ancestors of the enduks) who are the messengers and guardians of the Immortals. The importance given to the shedu help explain the reverence with which the enduks are treated on Churan soil. Each Churan city has its own protector, which might even be from Entropy. Entropic Immortals are on an equal level with each other since They are essential to keep the balance of the universe. They are even more revered and honoured in some regions since Their worship is seen as a way to protect oneself from the wrath of the fiend.

The main Immortals of the Churan Pantheon are: Edad (Thor), God of Lightning and Rain; Allaruta (Talitha), Goddess of Copulation and Lust; Aszun (Korotiku), the Wicked Thief; Abskallar (Ka), He Who Teaches the Arts; Asarduxli (Pflarr), He Who Has the Power of Magic; Ashnankan (Freyja), Goddess of Grain and Fertility; Alu (Alphaks), He Who Crushes Men; Pastirrid (Loki), He Who Erases; Shagulhaz (Masauwu), Upholder of Evil; Menkir (Odin), God of Wisdom; Enbiludli (Koryis), God of Irrigation, Farming and Prosperity; Kerrar (Orcus), the Scorched Earth; Gibal (Rathanos), Fire God; Gushkin (Kagyar), He Who Works Metals; Basmur (Atzanteotl), the Horned Serpent; Umbala (Ordana), Guardian of the Forests; Ishahura (Tarastia), Goddess of Marriage, the Enforcer of Oaths; Ishteri (Valerias), Goddess of Love and War; Mushassu (Demogorgon), the Furious Snake; Nebur (Ssu-Ma), God of Writing and Eloquence; Namuntar (Thanatos), the Decider of Faith, God of Plague and Other Diseases; Nanash (Nyx), Moon Goddess, the Darkness; Kulit (Tiresias), the Hymns Singer; Ninlul (Calitha), Goddess of Sailors; Numsar (Djaea), Goddess of Plants and Survival; Nuskmash (Ixion), God of Light and Sun.

The Hattas Pantheon: As the Churans, the Hattas have their own pantheon, which predates the empire by centuries. The main figures of this pantheon are: Kumarbis (Odin), the Storm God, head of the Hattas' pantheon; Tasmisus (Thor), the Child of Kumarbis; Hannahanna (Terra), the Mother of All Gods; Suwalyattas (Halav), the Warrior God; Upelluri (Gorrziok), a Giant Who Carries the World on His Shoulders; Ulikummis (Kagyar), God of Rocks and Mines; Hapantallis (Ixion), the Sun God; Inaras (Djaea), Goddess of the Wild Animals and Forests; Telepinus (Freya), She Who Makes the Crops Grow; Hahhimas (Protius), the Sea God; Illuyankas (Ka), the Dragon, He Who Makes the Earth Reborn; Kamrusepa (Pflarr), Patron of Magic and Learning; Astabis (Orcus), the Destroyer; Yarris (Thanatos), God of Pestilence; Hasamelis (Asterius), He Who Protects Travellers; Istustayas (Nyx), Moon Goddess.

The Trinity of Yivja: Strangely, for such a peaceful and constructive people, the Yivj worship a triad of Entropic Immortals: Djaal (Thanatos), He Who Rules the Universe from a Throne of Skulls; Ashaat (Talitha), the False Maiden; and Melqeart (Orcus), He Who Supervises the Process of Destruction. This peculiarity comes from long-forgotten times when the Yivj traded extensively with the ancient city of Dravya, where the fiendish cult was venerated. Many Dravyans sought refuge in Yivja when the Yazak goblinoids destroyed their city and brought with them the cult of Entropic Immortals. The Yivj see their evil and chaotic Immortals as being at the root of all changes, without Them there would not be a reawakening of the earth every spring, for the earth needs to plunge into darkness to wake up once more. The Yivj have built giant-sized statues of the three Immortals in their cities, with fires always burning inside them; offerings (fresh meat, money, even human sacrifices) to their Immortals are thrown in the fire. Human sacrifices are common, but it is seen as an honourable end to die in such a way that it will appease the wrath of this fiendish trinity.

The Way of the Dremens: For the Dremens, there are no arch-beings, no Immortals from which to draw the energy to cast spells or prayers. This is not to say that there is not somebody able to heal or to turn undead; there are no shamans, either. The Dremens instead revere qur-zho´tkar, or permutators. Permutators are people able to discharge the magical power imbedded in the qur-aoutat (the root), a magical tuber found in the valleys and caves of Draya. The ways to use the root are only taught to young Dremens who possess certain mystical characteristics. A permutator will discover how to trigger new power from the consumption of the qur-aoutat as he or she will become more experienced with the use of the vegetable (same spells and spell progression as with clerics). Many scholars and mages of the rest of the empire have tried to explain and use the magical capabilities of the root, but none have reached convincing conclusions or results, so the use of the qur-aoutat remains unexplained and limited to the Dremens.

Recent History

The history of people living on the Arm of the Immortals goes back well beyond the Great Rain of Fire. However, at that time, only the southernmost part of it was inhabited since the northern part was covered with a thick ice sheet. People of roughly the same origins as the Oltecs and Azcans settled this land well before the rise of Blackmoor. The Pitchans, as they called themselves, lived on the coastal plains and in the misty mountains of the southern part of the peninsula. They had followed a path similar to the Oltecs, even though contacts between the two were sparse and the Pitchans were isolated. Between, BC 4000 and BC 3000, the Pitchans were able to unite the tribes of the Arm of the Immortals, and eventually large cities were built atop the rainier plateaus of the central Immortal Shield Range. With the Great Rain of Fire, however, their mighty empire crumbled as terrific earthquakes rocked their lands, drowning parts of the coastal plains and wreaking havoc on the higher plateaus. The remnants of the Pitchans fell back into barbarism as tribes fought each other for the few resources left.

As the ice sheet receded from the northern part of the peninsula, some Pitchan tribes began to migrate north as others tried to re-establish the old order as they remembered it. The two groups gradually lost contact from each other since the hardships of surviving in these troubled times impeded travel, and the arrival of the migrating elves of Ilsundal in the region, around 2350 BC, further rendered the communications between the two branches difficult. For almost a thousand years, the northern tribes remained nomads trying to survive on the desolate land that slowly replaced the glacial fields. It was only around BC 2100 that the northern Pitchan tribes settled down in the area known as the Zebris Valley, where the ice had receded, leaving behind rich mineral deposits that gave rise to lush pasturelands that were soon irrigated and cultivated by the Pitchans.

There were five Pitchan city-states competing for power in Zebris Valley when, fifty years later, a mission of enduks came in contact with the Pitchans. Following this first contact, trade ties were established across Yalu Bay between the more advanced civilisation of the enduks and the somewhat backward Pitchan city-states. The Pitchans adopted many of the customs of the enduks in terms of architecture, arts, technology, magic; even their language was rapidly filled with enduk words. The worship of Ixion also grew among the Pitchans, even though it had to share the Pitchans' souls with other divinities instead of being the sole Immortal as in the enduk pantheon. Contacts with the city of Dravya also developed between BC 2100 and BC 2000, even if they were a little tenser than the relations with the winged minotaurs; the contacts with Dravya had a great impact on the still-nomadic northern tribes, some of which adopted the fiendish cult.

The city-state of Asniveh rapidly took advantage of its position of main trading partner of the enduks among the Pitchans to increase the techno-magical gap between it and its competitors. The Churans of Asniveh transformed what looked like peaceful knowledge into a military edge against the other tribes and gradually subdued most of them. Around BC 1850, the Churan Empire was at its apex. Centred in Zebris Valley it covered much of the northern Arm of the Immortals, and traded with most of the nations of the Yalu and Savage Coasts.

Around BC 1700, a small fleet of rafts loaded with people from Tangor landed in the northwestern region of the Churan Empire. The new settlers were welcomed and were promptly integrated into Churan society. Their assimilation left the Churans with the knowledge about distant lands overseas, but also added new deities to the region's pantheon. In BC 1556, however, the Mebirs-of mixed Tanagoro and Pitchan blood-revolted against their Churan masters, and a civil war ensued between the two peoples. In BC 1478, the civil war ended, and the Mebirs established their hold upon most of the former empire's territories.

The Empire of Mebirush kept control of the northern Arm of the Immortals until, around BC 1280, scores of humanoids from Wogar's hordes, invaded its territory. For almost a century, the humanoids plundered the land, leaving behind only ashes and ruin. When, around BC 1200, they resumed their southward migration, Mebirush was in ruin; only the high walls of Utsidon and Bertsos were able to resist the creatures' onslaught. Once the humanoids had gone, the two cities began to thrive as the sole inheritors of Mebirush's trade links with Skothar and Davania.

Another group of humanoids delivered chaos to the distant northern land of the pegataurs, which forced them into exile. They landed in the high mountains of the northern Immortals' Shield around BC 1150, and founded a new kingdom, Pazarkan (Freedom), and established good neighbourly relations with the divided and exhausted peoples surrounding them.

Coming from the far steppes of inner Brun, several tribes-of Oltec-Neathar descent-moved into the lands of the Hattis, a Pitchan tribe living at the mouth of the Yalu River, and, overwhelmed by the riders' sheers numbers, the Hattis withdrew towards the mountains. The nomadic tribes were the vanguard of the gigantic Yalu River Empire, which stretched as far as the Hyborean Valley. Dravya was conquered and sacked by the nomads in BC 1088. Following the demise of Emperor Dorfin, the Yalu River Empire fragmented in BC 1034. Under constant threat from the humanoids of the Yazak Steppes, the main tribe among the nomads, the Dars, retreated behind the protection of the Yalu River estuary into the Jyar Plain northwest of Yalu Bay. Pressured by the westward move of the northern nomads, the Hattis were forced to settle the forested valley of the Zob River.

The Dars finally settled the valleys of the Jyar Plain, in BC 1000, and Darsagades was founded. Contacts were made with the societies of the western coast; this is the dawn of the region's modern history.

From BC 750 to BC 700, Xaries, King of Darsagades, united the city-states of the Jyar Plain. Trade with the kingdoms of the western coast and Nimmur intensified. In BC 653, Zaranaster, a merchant from Darsagades, came back from a journey to the land of the enduks. He brought home a new cult-in fact a syncretism of the traditional Darsian manicheist pantheon and the enduks' cult of Idu (Ixion)-where Mizara-Idan is the sole Immortal. This religion preached that people doing good will be rewarded at the time of their death while people of evil nature will be sent to a place of eternal torment. Many Dars among the nobility as well as among the populace adopted his religious school.

In BC 611, the sacred alliance was signed between Kanastez, shah of the Dars, and Pasuldar, king of the pegataurs. This alliance decreed that, while being their vassals, the pegataurs would make up the bulk of the Dars' elite troops, and, as such, would be the first to exert their right to plunder new territories in the name of the alliance. Also, the alliance established that as long as the pegataurs stayed trustworthy allies of the Dars, only pegataurs would be eligible as king of their brethren. Following the signature of the treaty, the Dars and their new elite cavalry of pegataurs launched an attack against the small and divided kingdoms of the Arm of the Immortals' western coast and the Zebris Valley. In BC 590, the conquest of the Pitchans' lands was complete and Kanastez was proclaimed the sacred shah-an-shah (emperor); the Kanastenid dynasty was founded as a result.

From BC 590 until approximately BC 400, the Kanastenid Empire bloomed: it became a trade hub in western Brun. The merchants ships of Yivja could be found in the farthest ports, and trade links were established with Nimmur, the Nithian Empire, Hule, the Milenian Empire , the eastern coast of Skothar, and western Davania. Maritime expeditions were sent to explore Mystara, some going as far as Alphatia and Pelatan. Money taken from the taxes financed the arts, science and literature, and the Kanastenids were renowned for their magical skills. The humanoid tribes of the Yazak Steppes were kept at bay or even bribed to remain peaceful. The teachings of tolerance from Zaranaster allowed the empire to avoid any troubles among the diverse collection of religious groups residing within the empire.

The first blow to the Kanastenid Empire was the eradication of the Nithian Empire. Even if the memories of that empire were removed by the Immortals, the disappearance of a major trading partner in eastern Brun handicapped the Kanastenid merchants. More costly was the war between the enduks and the Skothar manscorpions; the demise of Nimmur, the empire's first trading partner, made the eastern trade routes almost unprofitable.

The real blow to the Kanastenid dynasty also came from commerce, even if it was of a very different nature: in BC 314, a cargo ship arrived from Davanian lands with a crew infested by broodlings. The parasite creatures spread rapidly throughout the unprepared empire, and years of internal fighting against the hives was not enough for the empire to persevere, and finally, in BC 272, the Kanastenid Empire collapsed, its administrative structures corroded by the monstrous parasite.

Around BC 250, while the people of the northern Arm of the Immortals were divided and exhausted by their struggle against the hivebrood, a group of ogre-kin sailors from Tangor landed on the western coast, south of the former imperial territories. From this time on, they began to settle a land that was known as the Land of the Gyerians during the empire's heyday. The ogre-kin bought parts of the land from the bird-like gyerians in exchange for petty jewellery and fake precious stones. As they settled the lands, these newcomers overtook many of the trade routes abandoned by the disorganised empire. In BC 239, there were enough ogre-kin living in the region to found a new political entity called the Kingdom of Suma'a; 16 years later, a second kingdom was founded, named Gombar. Both countries thrived on the trade with Tangor, Davania and the Arm of the Immortals.

In BC 44, a group of Hattas adventurers, led by the mage Supalinaan, killed the broodmother of Attasar. This event triggered the reawakening of the people in the former Kanastenid Empire. Supalinaan and his group led a mighty crusade against the hive throughout the empire. As the chief of the liberation squads, Supalinaan and his friends built a new empire: each city freed of the hive had to swear allegiance to the council (composed of himself and his friends) in Attasar. By AC 10, the entire country had been liberated from the hive's yoke, and Supalinaan left the new empire's throne to his son Attassaper in order to quest for immortality. A new special security force was created in AC 9 in order to keep the hive out of the empire's territory; any infected person had to be sent to the nearest temple for immediate healing. Otherwise, the new hivebroods were sent to the steppes south of Uvaraz. The new empire awakened, only to find that it was not the centre of the world anymore...

After one and a half centuries of internal rebuilding, the new Hattasin Empire felt ready to reassume its former position. In AC 157, an armada of breathtaking size assembled in the western ports of the empire, its goal to invade the ogre-kin kingdoms of Suma'a and Gombar and reassert the empire's control over the trade routes across the Strait of Tangor. On its way to the two kingdoms, the armada was surprised and nearly annihilated by a hurricane summoned by the ogre-kin shamans. The few remaining vessels of the fleet were sunk or captured by the smaller but faster ships of the ogre-kin navies. Defeated at sea, the empire tried an overland invasion seven years later. But the legions of the Hattasin Empire were humiliated by what was thought to be uncivilised and disorganised gyerians. The Hattas discovered that, helped by the Gombarians, the gyerians had created their own kingdom, Adilli, and mastered the modern war techniques and equipment.

In AC 179, the Yevo, a nomadic tribe of Antalian blood from the northern steppes, conquered Vyatka, which was, until then, a satellite of the Hattasin Empire. Preoccupied by the protection of the new territories in the Yazak Steppes, the Hattas neglected to care about these peripheral developments.

Focused on its maritime struggle against the kingdoms of the western coast, the Hattasin Empire was surprised, in AC 217, by a sudden attack from the humanoids of the Yazak Steppes and their Hulean allies. The empire lost its control over Dravya and the Yalu River estuary. Threatened on its eastern flank, the Hattasin Empire signed a peace treaty with Adilli, Suma'a and Gombar in AC 220, in exchange for which it obtained control over some minor trade routes toward Tangor. Beginning in AC 233, the empire entered a war of reconquest against the humanoids of the Yazak Steppes. Casualties were heavy on both sides, and the Hattasin advance stalled on the Yalu River, with neither adversary able to cross it.

It would not be the situation on the frontline that would define the results of the war: the implosion of the Hulean Empire (in AC 295) and the subsequent fragmentation of the Yazak tribes (in AC 297) was the deciding factor. The armies of the Hattasin Empire reached Dravya in AC 299 and conquered a large portion of the Yazak Steppes in the following four years.

Around AC 415, the increasing resources diverted from the Hattasin Empire's economy to protect the eastern territories stirred discontent among the nobility. In AC 466, the discontent reached its apex and the vassals of Zebris Valley refused to pay their taxes or send any more troops to the eastern territories. The imperial army was sent to quell the revolt and encountered the local garrison, which was supportive of the rebel nobles. The empire was split between those allied to the Hattas rulers (most of the northeastern nobility) and the southwestern kings. The ensuing civil war devastated most of Yivja while other territories were more or less spared. In AC 473, while most of the imperial army was fighting in southern Yivja, the king of the Dars, Pirooz Yezcham, backstabbed the Hattas by sending his forces to Attasar. With the support of the pegataur king, he proclaimed that Darsagades would be the capital city of a new empire, the Yezchamenid Empire. The elite pegataur troops shifted their allegiance to Yezcham, followed closely by the core of the imperial army. A separate peace was signed in AC 475 with the King of Chura, thus splitting in two the alliance of the southern vassals. However, it took more than thirty years for the Yezchameni to reunify the empire.

It was only with the victory over the last Dremen rebels, in AC 508, that the new dynasty stabilised. After more than a century of trouble, however, the empire's trade had been disrupted and the most prosperous regions had been ravaged. The economy of the empire was at its worst as traders from the Savage Coast (primarily from Bellayne and Renardie) now controlled most of the trade to and from the Yalu Bay ports. Also, the loosening of the sanitary controls during the civil war has triggered a new surge of the hivebrood in the eastern regions.

Following the end of the civil wars was a period of inner build-up and socio-political modernisation in the Yezchamenid Empire. The multitude of vassals that characterised the reign of the Hattas were reduced to ten zatrapies, each headed by a zatrap designated by the shah-an-shah among the locals or in his family. The teachings of Zaranaster were brought back to the forefront after a period when the Hattas pantheon prevailed. The domestic economy was revamped and a state school system was established. Ready to reassert itself as a major power in western Brun, the Yezchameni built a new war fleet in Yalu Bay. In AC 622, at the Battle of the Bayou, the fleets of Bellayne and Renardie were ousted of the bay, and the colonists of those countries were forced to withdraw from the region. However, the two kingdoms of the Savage Coast continued to finance piracy in the Strait of Yalu, thus impeding the growth of Yezchamenid trade outside the bay. Also, in AC 649, the hivebrood was effectively eliminated from imperial lands. In AC 665, a new trade treaty was signed with the kingdoms of Suma'a and Gombar that allowed the empire to conduct trade with Tangor and Davania, but piracy remained an endemic problem in the Sea of Brun's waters.

Around AC 700, the growing power of Zuyevo increasingly worried the Yezchameni. A small-scale military expedition was sent in AC 706 into Zuyevan lands to test their capabilities, and the rapid victory of the Zuyevans signalled to the Yezchameni that they were no longer free of threats from the north.

Despite the piracy problem on both sides of the Yezchamenid Empire, and the growing power of Zuyevo, the eighth century AC was marked by the prosperous and peaceful reign of Qanikes Yezchamenid "The Enlightened" from AC 727 to AC 789. During his reign the empire underwent an artistic, philosophical and magical renaissance. Trade ties with neighbours also develop, but oversea trade remained constrained by the pirates' activities.

His grandson, Sasdan, followed the guidelines set by his grandfather. But his reign was ended abruptly when, in AC 818, his ship was sunk in the Yalu Strait by Renardois pirates. Leaving no heirs, his throne became the object of a fierce competition among his brothers. The following fifty years, during which the throne was vacant, were filled with assassinations, intrigue and treason. In AC 866, Fazar Yezchamenid, a distant nephew of Sasdan, was chosen by a council of mages to be the new shah-an-shah. His reign, from AC 866 to AC 903, was renowned as one of the most just of the region's history.

In AC 913, the southward expansion of Zuyevo crashed headlong into the interests of the Yezchamenid Empire. This expansion led to the first open conflict between the two empires over the status of the southern Yalu Steppes. After a brief engagement, in which the mobility and discipline of the Zuyevans allowed them to gain the upper hand against the flying chariots and infantry of the Yezchamenid army, the Yezchameni were defeated, and by the Quesun peace treaty only kept a small area of land around the Yalu River estuary to link them with the Zatrapy of Drazde.

In AC 957, the citizens of Utsidon were awestruck at the sight of a flying island hovering just outside their city. Soon they met the island's inhabitants, wizards of a distant empire named Alphatia. Their island came from the Kingdom of Floating Ar, and for a reason unknown had broken free from its magical anchor and wandered randomly for more than 15 months. In fact, Palartarkan, the Immortal who created the island, freed it from its magical anchor and brought it to Yivja in a move to widen His base of followers. The journey of the Alphatians was made hard by the lack of readily available food, and, since the Yivja provided them with food upon arrival, the Alphatians felt welcome in this new land. Local merchants, seeing an opportunity to bypass the pirates of the Sea of Brun, began to learn from the Alphatians how to make flying ships. The cult of Palartarkan, taught by the newcomers, found many followers among the merchants and sailors of Yivja.

In AC 977, a new competitor appeared in Yalu Bay: the Vilaverdans. Five years later, the empire was defeated by them at the Battle of the Horn. The Yezchamenid eastern fleet was destroyed and the bay was opened to the Savage Coast colonial powers anew.

In AC 986, Zuyevo sank into a civil war, and seeing in this struggle an opportunity to weaken its northern neighbour, the Yezchameni secretly provided help and equipment to the two factions. However, in AC 989, the unrest was quelled by pro-imperialist elements of the Zuyevan military under Marshall Steyev, and the Yezchamenid plot was uncovered, stirring anger throughout the Zuyevan nobility.

The year AC 997 marked the death of Shah-an-shah Mayzar Yezchamenid, in a hunting accident. His sole son, Zhoher, was crowned sacred emperor at the age of four under the tutelage of his uncle Quymer. The regent's decision to place some of his own relatives in influential positions, to raise taxes and lower transfers to the zatraps, to use his own guard as a paramilitary force, and to enforce religious repression, earned him the hatred of most of the zatraps. Nevertheless, the zatraps' allegiance went first to the shah-an-shah and even if they disapproved of his uncle's policies and strove for greater autonomy, none of them attempted to declare independence as long as a Yezchameni was a head of state.

Profiting from the Yezchamenid Empire's problem, the Zuyevans launched a series of attacks against the empire's possessions at the northern tip of Yalu Bay in AC 998. Taking the Yezchameni off guard, they easily conquered the estuary of the Yalu River and founded the city of Kishinev on the bay's shores, thus cutting the Yezchamenid Empire in two. The Zatrapy of Drazde became a de facto independent state in AC 999, but the authorities in Dravya, the capital city, were divided between the supporters of Zuyevo and the loyalists to the old motherland.

Zhoher proved to be a weak ruler, and was unable to prevent the resurgent Zuyevan Empire from increasing its influence in Drazde, and eventually annexing it in AC 1008.