All Years are expressed in terms of their distance Before the Present (BP).
Many of the dates are approximate, and before the ages of the first Dragon Kings should be considered accurate to within half a millennium.
All excerpts are taken from Times and Peoples of Calandia by Quartus Ignatias, Court Historian to Overlord Lucius II The Invincible
14 000 BP: First Settlement of Calandia
The beginnings of Calandia are legend and myth. There are sages that claim that, from the dawn of time, Calandia has existed just as it is today - the plateaus and plains, rivers, forests and mountains all in place. And peopled as they are today.
However, the Burned Men tell another story. Their legends speak of a time when the land of sun and sand stretched across the whole face of the earth and Calandia was but an insignificant part of that great land. They say that in those days, they walked wherever they pleased upon the earth and took up home in whatever places seemed pleasing to them.
In truth, their resemblance to the dark men of Ta'Lon is striking and it may be that this was their original home. I have not myself experienced the scorching sun over the plains and deserts of Ta'Lon, but according to all that have the heat there is fierce enough to have burned their skin to charcoal black. One of their elders, in the course of a visit to the court of the Invincible Overlord, related to me that their skin had been burned by the very fires of the first creation. This certainly seems possible and the forge of the world must have been stoked to a white heat. But I think that as the flame was tempered, more subtle and refined peoples were brought forth.
There is little enough evidence of the first settlement of Calandia (supposing against the sages that it was not always populated), but it would seem that fish and game were plentiful for the first inhabitants of Calandia, whoever they were, and they made their home by the sea and on the plains near the great rivers.
The full truth of it is lost to us, but the same sages who hold to the eternal existence of Calandia tell us that this was a golden age of abundance, prosperity and peace. Their insight into this lost time is truly remarkable.
12 000 BP: Elder Civilization
These sages also tell us that at this time a great civilisation arose, which they name the Elder Civilization. Of its wonders they sing in raptures and they dream of a return to its glories.
They deem it not a tragedy but a sign of our unworthiness that we have been able to find only the barest remnants of this time. When Calandia returns to peace and the pure pursuit of reason, they say, it will inherit all the glories of the Elder Civilization. For now, though, all the evidence we have of its glories are a few piles of stones and scratchings on rocks and trees.
11 000 BP: First Great Migration - Humans and Elves from Aluria
It is said that the high men of Aluria, along with Elves from that great continent travelled to Calandia and found it to be a good and fertile land. Over time, many groups made their home here and settled its valleys and plains, making their way even as far inland as the Great Plateau.
�10 000 BP: Second Great Migration - Dwarves from Aluria
Dwarves, from the mountains of Aluria which are said to be their ancient home, travelled in the paths of elves and men to settle also in Calandia. Their skill at mining and delving brought new riches to the settlers, in the form of gold and, most especially, iron.
Some have said, however, that it is these two metals - or more precisely the avarice and wrath which is unearthed, smelted and refined with them - that were responsible for the troubles to come.
9 500 BP: Wars of Displacement
The first hint of these troubles began as groups of men fought with men and elves to claim fertile land for themselves. Many Elves were put to the sword, burnt out of their homes by fire, or displaced at spear-point in order to clear swathes of the great forests for farming and settlements.
It has been related to me by that venerable elder of the Burned Men that before these wars they had ranged across the whole continent of Calandia, forsaking only the frozen north - which is a hostile environment to them, as it is to all with any sense or civilization - and the Great Plateau - which is to them taboo. But against the iron and steel of the newcomers they were powerless to resist and were forced into more and more inhospitable areas, where they can still be found to this day.
Only the dwarves, secure in their mountain fastnesses, and supplying the metals that fuelled the violence, did not suffer woe. Rather they grew rich on the mayhem, as demand for their iron and their weaponsmiths grew.
8 800 BP: Uttermost War - Rise of the Great Beasts (Centaurs, Orcs, Khajit, Dragons and others)
None can say who played the greater role in this time of great devastation - gods or men. Some say that the spirits of place rose one against the other in violent disputation over territory. Some say that fanatical men from every place and of every persuasion took up arms against those who would not kneel to their gods and adhere to their creeds.
It is said that in places nature was deformed and... reformed in unnatural ways. Rock melted and flowed like ice-thaw and consumed all in its path. Men, even where they worked or rested, hardened and fused and twisted into grotesque statues, not reconizably human, but recognizably in agony. Water darkened and spat forth abominations. The very air thickened and encrusted as it was inhaled, leaving man and beast alike coughing out their lungs in a spray of fine, grey dust.
All of this is said. But a skald singing it to entertain drunken farmers, or an old woman telling it to frighten children into doing their chores does not make it so.
What is known is that many died. And many of those who died, died horribly.
The land, too, was blighted. Signs of the blight can still be seen in some of the feared and wasted places of Calandia. At this time, we are told, great beasts, some fair and some foul, arose. And with them rose mortal foes of men, orcs, minotaurs and their like. Haunts and Ghasts. Chatterlings and the Changed Folk. Many of those who survived the violence of the fighting learned to regret their good fortune, as they faced terrors they had never before known.
Calandia, too, suffered as a long winter set upon the land. Here, at last, we have something other than stories, fables and hearsay to guide us. A few fragmentary words from what was known as The Last Chronicle are all that remain to us, but now translated they paint a grim picture of the time. It grew very cold and snow fell even at the mouth of the Han. The Amber Swamp was a frozen wasteland. And... Something crept upon Calandia from the North.
A dream. Or silence. Or peace. Or night. Or security. Scholars have argued the merits of each translation for almost a century now, and no doubt will continue for at least a century to come. But they cannot tell us whether this dream was good or ill. Whether it brought silence or security. We do not know how long the Long Winter lasted and we cannot know, at this remove, whether this dream from the North was its avatar or its nemesis.
4 000 BP: Third Great Migration - Lizardmen from the Nile Islands
The Nile Islands, as many will be aware, are an expansive archipelago whose northern extent reaches to within fifty leagues of Calandia's Drylands District. One may well surmise that this district's name is of recent coinage, as it was here that the Lizardmen, a notoriously water-loving race, began to settle on Calandia. It is believed that at this time the High Fens extended far to the south and east, well beyond the Low Plateau.
In fact, Lizardmen had been coming to Calandia, although not entirely of their own volition, for some time. People of the High and Low Fens had conducted trade with the Nile Islands for several centuries before the migration of Lizardmen. The flax, spices, and exotic animals of the islands were then, as they are today, prized commodities. And even more so were the Lizardmen slaves taken in raids or bought from Nile Island traders.
In Calandia these Lizardmen were worked hard in a variety of labours: farming fish and flax, or tending land and crops, or digging for peat and diving for pearls.
Some say that the migration of the Lizardmen was nothing more than a massive, and failed, effort to rescue their enslaved kin. Others claim that word of Calandia's prosperity had passed from those enslaved to the Nile Islands Lizardmen. Whatever the truth of it, they are here.
3 500 BP: Varstus - The Founding of Briarwood
Varstus is revered as the founder of Briarwood, the creator of the Jewel of Calandia. His reign is seen as the ancient precursor to the glory of the Dragon Kings and the Overlords of recent memory, most especially Lucius II The Invincible.
For certain, though, the achievements of Varstus, as great as they were, are not to be compared with the glories already achieved by The Invincible Overlord, and those yet to come.
During the long winter many groups of men, elves, halflings and even dwarves banded together as nomads, gathering, hunting and scavenging what they could. These bands ranged widely, coming into conflict often, but also forming loose confederations on occasion.
Some farming continued in the inner districts of Thormar and Lilymoor Provinces, and on the Great Plateau. These farms supplied small fortified townships and encampments and were fiercely defended against nomad raids.
Varstus, a nomad chief from The Barrens District had already led his band to many notable victories against rival bands, but his greatest success lay in gathering the largest council of chiefs to that time, and maintaining the peace at this council long enough to forge new bonds of alliance. The sagas tell us that Varstus slew a dozen rival chiefs in ritual melee at this council in order to secure the allegiance of their bands.
Within a matter of months, this new army of nomads was launching raids onto the Great Plateau. By the time of Varstus' death, the clans had captured the interior of Calandia and Varstus ruled from the Marrahoe mountains in the south to the Great Plateau in the north and the Lonely Coast in the east.
Varstus founded the city-state of Briarwood on The Great Plateau, near the sources of the Three Great Rivers. There are some disadvantages to the location of the city-state, chief among them being that the upper reaches of the rivers are difficult to navigate, however its position as the centre of a network of tribute and defence meant that it rapidly grew to a town of pre-eminence.
Varstus, too, grew in appetite and girth as he feasted on the riches of his realm. Where he had once single-handedly slain twelve chiefs, he met his end defending his rule against the challenge of a single man, a chief named Cleaghane. His name, of course, now lives on proverbially, in the commoners' complaint that someone has shown the gratitude of Cleaghane.
�3 050 BP: Dragon Kings
Intrigue, assassinations and open warfare plagued the successors of Varstus throughout the three centuries following his demise. It was not until one of Varstus' nephews, Vhargaer, returned to Briarwood, borne on the back of a dragon, that a ruler was again able to command the allegiance of all the clans. Of course, the conflagration spat forth from the great drake that consumed a host of his foes assisted him to this end.
Vhargaer's hold on power lasted only a few years before he too was slain, along with all of his honour guard by the dragon. The next Leader of All Clans, Trethys, a cousin to Vhargaer, earned his seat at the head of the Council of Clans by killing the serpent.
Tradition records that all of the new rulers, anointed by their predecessor, cemented their claim by hunting and killing a dragon in single combat. This seems possible, and is certainly the tale favoured by the common folk. However it is hard to imagine how an unbroken line of rule could be maintained if the thresh-hold to the throne-room was guarded by one of these awesome drakes.
There is no denying, however, that Briarwood prospered and grew under the rule of the Dragon Kings. The realm conquered and won by Varstus was also strengthened and extended. At the greatest extent of their power, under the rule of Aftar Fire-Dog, the Dragon Kings may have ruled over the entire southern part of Calandia.
996 BP: Death of Ermanarik
The Glory of the Dragon Kings was brought to an end with the death of Ermanarik Son-Of-The-Stars. The Chronicles of The Dragon Kings describes him as just, stern and scrupulous. In this tome, most of the blame for the trouble to come is apportioned to unnamed advisors but Ermanarik's character certainly played its part.
It seems that his scruples did not extend to granting relief for tariffs and tribute levied on the River Lords and the self-styled Wheat Kings, all liege lords to the Dragon Kings, at a time of drought. He also did not take the violent chastisement and, on occasion, death of his envoys and toll-collectors, lightly and began to gather his armies to enforce his will.
While he massed his forces gathered, a conspiracy emerged at the heart of Ermanarik's court, and he was assassinated before he could wage war against his subjects. In the schisms that ensued, the rule of Briarwood was challenged successfully again and again until within but a few decades, its writ had shrunk to barely more than the Great Plateau and isolated pockets of some of the neighbouring districts.
It is the enduring glory of the Overlord Lucius II The Invincible, and the grace of all Calandia, that his rule is not like that of Ermanarik. Rather it is one of justice tempered with mercy, and its edicts and will are executed with force where necessary and always with wisdom and restraint.
408 BP: Atrabiloran
For more than 500 years, the realm of Briarwood was reduced and riven by factions and conflict. It was not until a dwarven warrior from the Twin Peaks district by the name of Atrabiloran that one ruler was again able to unite the realm and extend its power once more into the continent at large.
There are three different versions of how he achieved this feat, even in the official histories. Were a serious scholar to take account of the talk of the alehouse or the fantastic poetry of the Bards of Dreams there would be no end to the differing accounts.
One holds that Atrabiloran, under pretext of truce, kidnapped the children of the nobles that stood opposed to his power and held them hostage against the submission of their parents.
Another relates that Atrabiloran barely had to swing his axe in battle. His gilded tongue and uncanny persuasion led his opponents to sue for peace before they had even begun to fight.
�The last version of the tale of Atrabiloran that is even remotely credible (by which I mean is one that does not involve pacts with demons, the ritual sacrifice of his first-born children, or the military support of the children of the stars) is that he used the wealth of the Iron Rock ranges to buy the loyalty of the lords. To those who know something of dwarves, this last version may seem to echo with the ring of truth.
It is undeniable, though, that the warrior dwarf enlarged the territory of Briawood and enriched it mightily. It was in doing so, however, that he sowed the seeds for great trouble.
Returning from their campaign against the lords of the north, Atrabiloran's forces journeyed through the Greenfang. Their losses in battle had been grievous - though to be sure not as grievous as those suffered by their foes - and they were further beset by the beasts of that great forest. The skalds relate tales of those beasts, fearsome in both aspect and number, that have given sleepless nights to many of the wives and children of Briarwood. Even the sober Chronicles of Atrabiloran is best read by daylight when it relates the trials of the Greenfang.
Harried and pressed, the depleted armies of Atrabiloran searched for defencible positions. In this frenzied search, Atrabiloran and his honour guard came upon what they said was a cavern that extended to the very heart of the earth. Here they made their stand against the beasts of the forest and the cavern. It is said that Atrabiloran even fought against and slew young dragons in those battles, assuming the mantle of the great Dragon Kings.
It was here, too, that the armies unearthed a vast treasure which the dwarf brought back with him to Briarwood. Decades were to pass before the repercussions of that act were to be felt. The sky over Briarwood darkened and then grew fiery bright as a great dragon - the like of which had not been seen in Calandia for many centuries - flew between the sun and the city and then rained down destruction upon it. The dragon was appeased only when half the city was ablaze and its treasure was restored to it.
In the great devastation Atrabiloran was mortally wounded, and he met his end within a score of days of meeting the great dragon of the Greenfang.
288 BP: Salm-Lorien
Atrabiloran's closest friend and advisor had been the Lord Salm-Lorien, who became the dwarven warrior's successor to the throne of Briarwood. For all the quality of advice he had given to Atrabiloran, it took only a few short months for Salm-Lorien to reveal his quality as ruler.
He increased the tribute on the lords and imposed new imposts on the common folk. He instituted an entirely new calendar, the Cycles of Glory, with his own reign the zero date to which all preceding reigns were leading and from which all future glory of Calandia would proceed. He also began erecting monuments to himself - great statues, and even temples dedicated to his worship.
The results of his actions took an equally short time to manifest. By the end of the first year of The Glory of Salm-Lorien six of the Lords of Lilymoor and Marrahoe had made common cause and nominated a descendent of the last Dragon King, a boy also named Ermanarik, supreme Overlord.
By the sixth year of Salm-Lorien's rule, a dozen more lords had pledged their forces to the banner of the Overlord Ermanarik. These lords took a black lotus as their sigil, or should I say that they took this as the sigil of Ermanarik's rule, expecting that as a boy he would be easily bent to their will.
In the three years of battle that ensued, Briarwood was cut off from the lands and coasts to the south and west of the Great Plateau. The hardship that fell on the people of the city led to rebellions against the rule of Salm-Lorien. The brutality with which these rebellions were crushed did not endear him to the people.
Early in the tenth year of Salm-Lorien, Briarwood fell to the lords of the Black Lotus and Salm-Lorien was executed, buried in the hall of the Dragon Kings.
279 BP: Overlord Ermanarik
Ermanarik had not seen twelve summers when he was made Overlord of all Calandia by the lords of the Black Lotus. His reign was long, some ninety-two years, but not otherwise distinguished.
The realms of the lords of the Black Lotus prospered particularly well under his rule. Indeed, those lords who had sided with Salm-Lorien were not permitted to sit in the Council of Lords, a newly created body that gave counsel to the Overlord, made laws, and exercised power on the Overlord's behalf.
187 BP: Lucius I
The Overlord Ermanarik's only son, Lucius, was duly made Overlord on the death of Ermanarik. However, he proved to be less malleable than his father and within a score of years of his ascension to the throne all of the lords of the Black Lotus had been either disgraced and stripped of their titles, or imprisoned or executed for standing against the authority of the Overlord. The families of these lords were not harmed and their heirs were able to assume their titles in all but one case - the Lord of Marrenhoe had died childless and his place was taken by the ruler of the Dwarf clans in the Province, Karstark Hadhra.
The Council of Lords remained, but now all the lords of Calandia were granted a seat at the council table, from which they could bring their collective wisdom and power to bear for the common good. Lucius did, however remove some of the power of the Council of Lords, having seen it used unwisely too often in the past. He did this by establishing a new body, the Senate, made up of twelve men of wisdom and honour - six to be appointed by the Overlord and six by the Council of Lords. The defence and administration of the realm's justice within each Province was the responsibility of each lord, but the establishment of that justice, along with other matters, was the concern of the Overlord and his Senate.
17 BP: Death of Lucius I - Accession of Lucius II
Lucius II learned well the wisdom of his father, assisting in the administration of the realm and serving to explore and maintain the security of the Eastern Provinces. It was in the twenty-third year of his father's reign that Lucius II won the Wildmen of Masan over to the city-state, erecting the great beacon there which now serves to guide ships into Lucius Bay and to the mouth of the Shangee. With this new bastion, Lucius II also raised a fleet of ships and brought to an end the scourge of the self-styled Sea Kings of the Lonely Coast.
Much of Calandia still remains unknown to this day, but at the time Lucius I took his throne, whole parts of the continent were as darkness to the Overlord, and of those regions that were known to Briarwood, fully half were not disposed to swear fealty to his rule. In the latter half of his father's Overlordship, Lucius II, by combination of clever diplomacy and warcraft, brought more and more of the regions of Calandia under the rule of Briarwood.
Many new peoples submitted willingly, as nations entered into treaty with Briarwood. It was at this time that the five great Lizardman nations of the Amber Swamp swore fealty to the Overlord and the city-state.
Many did not submit willingly, and Lucius II piled victory upon victory against those who opposed the rule of his father. When he returned to Briarwood in the 170th year of his father's reign, travelling back through the Greenfang as had the great Atrabiloran before him, the great train that followed him took a week to reach the capital after the vanguard had arrived. Among its numbers were people from every region and isle of Calandia, and unnumbered beasts from earth, air and water, and from below the ground.
The ten years that followed were ones of peace and prosperity and Lucius I deserves to have had his reign end in either the glory of battle or the sweet embrace of the sleep of the just. However, this end was not ordained and though the grisly horror of it is known, it must again be told here.
�Nearing the end of his life, the elder Lucius had taken to pilgrimage, journeying to the furthest extents of his realm. In this manner, he was absent from Briarwood for almost six years, leaving his son to rule as Regent with the Senate and Council to guide him. At the time he was to return to his capital, messengers brought word to the Senate and all the lords of Calandia that they were to assemble for a Great Assembly with him at the headwaters of the Lithingal, at the northern base of the Great Plateau.
It will never be known what the Overlord's purpose was in calling for this assembly, as the encampment of Senators and Lords, with their hosts, was attacked by a dire creature. Many described it as a demon, four-armed, three-headed and breathing fire. All say that it was larger than any man, perhaps as large as the giants of legend. Several of the Senators and Lords and many of their retainers were slain by the beast.
It was only Lucius II the Invincible who was able to slay the creature, only to find that in death its visage and appearance was changed and it became a man unto the likeness of the elder Lucius. It is the word of Lucius II the Invincible that this fell beast was, indeed, his father, fantastically changed, and none are to doubt him. The man that this beast became in death spoke to the Invincible in words that could only have come from the father. None overheard these words, whispered from the mouth of the dying Overlord, but many have said that Lucius the younger in reply asked him, "Is this my doing, then?"
17 BP - now: The Threat
The death of Lucius I, as horrific as it was, presaged even great horrors to come. Barely a year had passed before the first reports of trouble in the sea lanes from Aluria to Calandia were made. Merchant vessels who arrived on Calandia spoke of the journey being vastly longer than was their expectation. A venerable captain, who had made the month-long voyage eighteen times in his career, reported that his latest voyage had taken more than two months and that he had been unable to turn back as the skies grew murky and clouded, and the stars were occluded, making navigation impossible. Another captain, a young man of seemingly stable disposition, said that the stars had become unrecognizable, smeared across the sky like streaks of finger-paint, and that a great fog had arisen in which he heard the voices of angels and devils. He only won through to Calandia by holding his course true for one hundred days.
These captains, and many others, have not been seen again in Calandia. For the next handful of years, each ship that arrived reported a longer voyage and a deeper fog. No ships have arrived from Aluria, the Nile Islands or elsewhere these last ten years.
In the realm of the city-state things are scarcely less dire. At first the tales that reached the court from the Provinces were easily dismissed as the products of an overfertile imagination, the hardships of the frontier and, mayhap, too much Hanese wine or Wheatlands beer. Soon, though, these reports became too numerous to be taken lightly. The dead had risen in the Greyland Fells and were tearing the hearts from the breasts of the living. Orcish tribes, long pacified and confined, had risen with new strength against the men of the Northern Plains. Great wolves, red of eye, scoured the fringes of the Greenfang. Scabrous birds of prey fell from the sky in the Marrenhoes and those they did not slaughter and consume later died of a hideous wasting.
Lucius II the Invincible reacted with decisive strength and began to arm the realm against this monstrous horde. Lords of the Provinces were granted to leave to wage war in whatever way best defended their lands from attack. The Black Lotus Guard and the Gryphon Riders which, while powerful, had become little more than honour guards, were constituted again as armies capable of campaigning against a foe, their numbers increased and their training strengthened.
The Invincible Overlord created a new expeditionary force, the Imperial Scouts, to survey, harrass and engage the gathering threat. He established the Ordo Arcanis ex Civitatum, an order - housed in the Great Hall of Learning at Spyre - to combat the threat in the realms of magic. (See Magic for more details.)
�All this he did, and more, even leading a company of Gryphon Riders in victory against a host of orcs which had descended the slopes of Griffen's Claw and laid waste to Tallrock. However, despite his unceasing efforts over more than a decade and a half, the day grows ever darker and the threats that confront Briarwood grow ever more grave.