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Age of Wonders: The First Millennium

It is important to note that nearly all of what is discussed here has long since been forgotten. Even the longer lived races of dwarves and giants have only wildly inaccurate legends of what took place in such ancient times. The elves, perhaps the only civilized race which has a lifespan long enough to save such history, did not arrive in the world until after the first millennia, and so they can add nothing to remembered history. Even the gods are silent on the issue, for neither were they present in those ancient days.
Table of Contents

The End of the Age of Chaos
Shin-Men, The First Men
Gyrfolk, The First Giantkin
The Sultan
Aenid, The First Dwarves
Kinder, the Halflings
Rhashar, The Deceivers
Barranan, The Elemental Giants
Conclusion: A Taste of Things to Come

    The Brothers Khan are figures so ancient that they have passed even from legend. Some extremely ancient writings that were printed in stone or steel mention them in passing, but in the present age no one, even the greatest of sages knows of their existence. The same is true for the Aenid, the First Dwarves. Modern dwarves tell tall tales of a progenitor race that dwelt deep in the earth, and the name "Aenid" is still recalled, but the Aenid were, by most accounts, not an especially deep dwelling race and they disappeared to the south rather than into the bowels of the underground. Likewise, each of the progenitor races are the subject of much speculation among sages.
    Also mentioned here are two facets of magic which no longer exist in the present day. The first is the One Power, which the use of is often referred to as one channeling, one shaping, or the power within. The One Power is most aptly described to be the ability to change reality by belief in what reality should be. For example, the first humans widely believed that there were mysterious dark skinned humans who lived in the mountains and after years of this belief being told and retold it actually became true. Sometimes, individuals were born whose strength of belief was so strong that they could rapidly imprint their will upon the world, causing great changes and often raising them as legendary figures among their people. Many times, the influence of the One Power manifested slowly through the collected belief of large groups of people. Throughout early history there are many cases where the One Power, belief, shaped and changed events. When gods appeared in the world, late in the third millennia, the influence of the One Power waned and individuals who could shape it disappeared within a couple generations.
    The other form of magic mentioned here is called Sol. This magic is the same raw power which present day wizards draw upon. It is often simply referred to as Sol or the power without. Users of this magic are usually called Sol wielders. In the first millenia, Sol was a rare art and practiced among only the Barranan and the Aenid. The Aenid taught its use to the First Men and from there it slowly spread into the world. While the One Power required nothing more then passive belief, Sol could not be skillfully used without active participation and rigorous practice. Most people who used the power of Sol were naturally gifted; teachers in the use of Sol were extremely uncommon and limited to a handful of mostly non-humans. Like the One Power, Sol was used to enact great events throughout the early world. The use of Sol in its pure form was taxing and dangerous. Consequently, scholars of the arcane arts slowly learned ways to codify and structure the use of Sol. These structuralists formed the basic theory that present day wizards apply. It was this basic theory that allowed magic-use to be taught widespread and over centuries the use of Sol in its simplest form became a lost art.
    The notation used in dates throughout this website, AC, stands for After Chaos. This is how many years have passed since the creation of the Seals of Chaos at year zero, which ended the Age of Chaos. Most human sages use either a measure of dates from the founding of the United Kingdoms or the end of the Unholy Wars, but even these dating systems are suspect. While the reader may consider dates presented here to be authoritative, natives of Sulerin have no such assurances of exactness when discussing such ancient times. Most folk and even sages still measure time by the beginning of their kingdom or by how many years have passed for a given kingship.
    Finally, of all the events which are described to have taken place here, those which transpired before the end of the Age of Chaos (year 0) are the most mysterious of all. It would be hard, even after thirteen millennia, to entirely forget the Age of Chaos, but that is almost exactly what has happened. Only the most learned can speculate that this time even existed, but know nothing of what took place during that time. Most present-day sages believe that the world was either shaped by an ancient pantheon of gods (see the Creed of Dreams excerpt from the Articles of Charalen for an example of how wildly inaccurate this actually is) or they believe that the world naturally settled out of bubbling chaos. Some druids believe that the world was populated by races which traveled to here from other worlds. All of these superstitions and speculations are laced with some bits of twisted truth. Largely, we leave it to the reader to decide what truly happened. However, an astute explorer of Sulerin's pre-Age-of-Chaos history may also enjoy reading the oracular answer which was given to a heroic adventuring bard.

The End of the Age of Chaos
In the most ancient of times, unknowable beings dreamt all things that were to become Sulerin and all the stars in the heavens. Before they awoke they created beings in their own likeness to watch over this dream and hid great keys of power that might later be discovered and teach their progeny the secrets of all that is. Eons passed as these beings molded the dream that had been given to them and some of the keys which had been left behind by their progenitors were discovered. One of these, the Key of Creation, gave these beings the means to create anew creations at a trivial cost to themselves. Later, a second key was discovered called the Key of Ways, which opened the dream to other dreams. In to the World of Sulerin spilled creations of other realms and with them they brought their wars and strife. The newly created ways between the realms could not be undone and so the Key of Creation was used to make things with which to repel the intruding beings. In desperation, the beings who had been set as caretakers of this dream gave all that was them unto the Key of Creation, but even this failed to deter the rampant chaos. This was the time we call the Age of Chaos. Unguided, the world was changeable and easily influenced by powerful beings of other planar realms.
    In the Last Days of the Age of Chaos the Brothers Khan, great beings of power born from the Age of Chaos, found the Aenid hidden deep in the earth. One of the Brothers, called Beldin, went to them and observed how they were less changed by the powers of chaos that raged all about them. Beldin also saw how they crafted homes and ingenious devices which also were, in the words of Beldin, firmly wrought.
    The Brothers Khan brought the Aenid to the great Nexus of Lin. In a distant age this was where the great power of the Key of Ways had opened the world to the realms beyond: to the great Astral Void, the Spirit Realm, The Ethereal Realm, and the primordial Elemental Vortex. Above the Nexus of Lin, atop a great mountain, they built the first city and Beldin named it the City of Ancients.
    Beneath the City of Ancients the Aenid studied the primeval elemental energy which flowed through the earth and they labored upon great secrets. It was there that the great Seals of Chaos were formed and the rampant powers of the Key of Creation were bound, and with them was bound a great many terrible beings, including Sherian Khan, who opposed the other brothers. Not all things that were set behind the Seals of Chaos were evil, but Sherian Khan was very selfish and kept the ways of evil as a close companion. The Seals were scattered throughout the world and twenty guardians were set to watch over them. The Brothers Khan then gathered up the first races and set them upon the world, and left them to their own ingenuity.
    These were the first races to form tribes in the new age. The Aenid commenced to cut small kingdoms from the stone of the earth. The First Men dwelt in southern Irendi and called themselves the Shin-Men. The Sultan came from the golden desert of Jhet Brahna and settled into the far western lands of Irendi; The Kinder, "Child-Men," settled into the ancient hills near the Spine of Irendi, between the Mountains of Elderkyn and the fertile valleys of the River Centesh. The giant Ul-Men, Gyrfolk, called Great-Men by the First Men, were the closest with the ancient spirits of the Aenid and they too built great edifices in the wild hills and dales of central-southern Irendi. Across the seas on the continent of Nereka the savage Ayrmin wandered and conquered, suffering from the taint of chaos that raged deep within them; they scattered out from there and into the world where they would prey upon the fringes of other fledgling civilizations. The Barranan, elemental kin of the Gyrfolk, built high in the mountains of southern Nereka, where raging rivers, tumbled down the new erupting mountainsides and the sky lay close to the land. The Rhashar, tiger-spirits, were cunning savages who stalked the jungle shadows of Nereka, using their illusions to hide themselves. Last of the first races to settle on the earth of Nereka were the Saalneer, a brutal shape-shifting lizard folk. In all the world there were neither elves nor fey at this time.
    Thus were the continents of Irendi and Nereka at the dawn of the Age of Wonders.

The Age of Wonders: The First Millenium
In the first millenium the first races spread out over the land. There were still great flows of magical power which rumbled chaotic and unexpectedly through the world. The touch of these energies would affect important and lasting changes upon the first races. There were fewer beings living in the world then and the powers of the One and that of Sol were strong. The One, the power of belief, was used much like the divine magic found in modern eras, but there were no gods and many of the few talented beings who used it in those days did not realize that it was their very will which was shaping the world about them. The power of Sol, called the Power from Without, was only known to a very few beings and in those first days its use was only seen in the lands of Nereka or among the Aenid. It was the subtle shaping power of The One, the Power from Within, which would ultimately scatter the first races, polarizing them and bringing them into the lands which they are best known for in present time.

Shin-Men, The First Men
In the early centuries of the first millenium the First Men, Shin-Men, lived in the fertile plains and moved in nomadic tribes between the cruth mountains, to the western and southern ocean shores, and eastward to the edges of the lands of the Gyrfolk. Seasons, hunting, war, and whimsey circulated them through these lands. They were a superstitious folk and as they traveled these lands, encountering others like them, their traditions began to include the stories and inventions of other Shin-Men tribes. They learned to domesticate horses, wolves, and other beasts to aid them in their travels; early efforts to domesticate such beasts were greatly aided by shaman mystics who were better able to shape the powers of The One. The First Men divided the lands into four regions: Aerinia, fertile lands of the south; Hevnin, the tall lands to the east; Zurran, the trembling wildlands of the west; and Elvd, the wooded land of the north. Together, they were called the Four-Fold Lands, and in their center was the Mulker (Mulkerion Skyweir), where the councils of the tribes would meet.
    The subtle magic of The One power was what shattered the First Men. Their own suspicions and fears wrought changes through their race. Rumors of savage tribes with dark skin, who brought war in the night, were told among their campfires and slowly what was at first only rumor became quite real. Dark skinned Shin-Men first appeared in the western lands of Zurran (AC35). Other changes were also taking place; in the far north the Elvd worked alongside the Aenid and began to build permanent dwellings in the beautiful foothills of the Cruth Mountains, southwest of the Clainborough (now the Alysian Desert). As centuries passed the Elvd came to look down upon their nomadic ancestors. Though haughty, they also were among the first humans to study The One power and the effect that channeled belief had upon the land. With it they carved green pastures from the mountains, flourished, and began to expand. The Elvd brought war to the human race (AC385), a thing in those days which was unheard of. The primitive tribes of the Four-Fold Land fled before the One Shaper mystics. Some hid in mountains of the lands of Hevnin, but the Zurran and the Aerinian tribes fled west, through the lands of the Gyrfolk, and into what is now the Eastern Empire.
    The race of man had not suffered its last schism; perhaps it was forever altered to make war upon itself as humankind has time and again throughout the ages. The lands of the far east were slowly populated over the second half of the first millenium. The Aerinia had learned well the lesson of building and the great exodus across the continent of Irendi had finally spent their lust for wandering for a time. The efforts of men were turned to building and safeguarding their new lands, should the Elvd pursue or some other menace threaten. The Zurran and Aerinia occasionally warred against each other and rifts formed among their races. Their fears shaped each other and the bloodlines of the First Men slowly disappeared as The One Power evolved their race. The Zurran settled in what is now the Kingdom of Rillinon, while the Aerinia settled in what is now the Kingdom of Briteland. Strengthened by steel, industry, and strong fortifications, the Aerinia occasionally warred against each other in contention for resources. The Zurran pursued agriculture and hunting in the tradition of their ancestors.
    The Elvd continued a scattered conflict against the Hevnin, who had remained behind in the Four-Fold Lands. Emptied of Zurran and Aerinia nomads, the land was broad and empty. For the most part the Hevnin avoided the Elvd and they were left in peace to pursue their nomadic ways as the First Men once had. The Elvd wrought from the western Cruth Mountains a powerful empire and from the plentiful stone they One-Shaped amazing edifices to their rulers and their own glory. Unlike the Aerinia, the Elvd remained close to their nature-cherishing heritage and from them arose the first druids of the age, the rulers of their people.

Gyrfolk, The First Giantkin
The first giants arose in the lands now known as the United Kingdoms (AC52). Long before humans claimed those lands as their own there was a powerful civilization of giants. Unlike the First Men, the Gyrfolk felt the stir of the elements within their spirits. It was not as powerful a stirring as their Barranan giant-kin would manifest, but it still moved them to create their civilization in places that sung to their soul. Some built high atop the mighty Cruth Mountains, these were the Syorn. Others hewed stone and built their cities within the mountains where the heat of the earth warmed their forges, they became known as the Ffyr. Still others dwelt along the coastline, these were the Bienog.
    Before anything else, the Gyrfolk were creatures of creation. Their spirit endlessly swelled with a need to build. The Ffyr who labored in the mountains wrought metal works and worked closely with the Aenid. Together they dug deep into the earth and joined their two peoples with vast tunnels that spanned great distances through the earth; these were the first passages of the Underhalls (AC235). The Syorn built towers into the clouds and Bienog built cities that flowed along the coastlines. The Gyrkin were austere and for the most part they lived in harmony, but this would not last forever.
    Deep in the earth and in the dark waters of the ocean there dreamt powerful and ancient dragons, the very first of their kind. The Gulf of Biengyar was the cradle of Kurckon, the dragon of storms. Even before the end of the Age of Chaos the weather and seas had raged mightily in the waters to the south of Irendi as the tumultuous dreams of Kurckon raged and influenced the land about it. The Ffyr and Aenid also heard a stirring beat deep within the earth; they named it Haanmananar, the Hammerheart (AC239). Little did they know that their burrowing of the Underhalls had come near to the lair of the earth dragon. Though these beasts did not rise to flight and destroy the world, as giant lore would have them do, the dreams of these dragons did shape the Gyrfolk who labored in the lands near to them. The dreams of Haanmananar kindled selfishness in the spirits of the Ffyr and they began to be weighted down with a lust for wealth.
    Three great events of the latter part of the first millenium would echo through the history of the Gyrfolk. The first was the withdrawal of the Aenid (AC585). Long had the Aenid felt the pull of The One upon their spirits, but they had resisted it thus far. Even so, young were born to the Aenid which were less than their forefathers and the Aenid feared the decline of their race. So it was decided that they would return to the mountain beneath the City of Ancients, their ancient homeland, and retreat far from the rest of the civilized world. When they left, they abandoned their children, fearing that if they brought them too then their race would continue to be changed.
    The second event of import was the betrayal of the Ffyr. When the Aenid departed they left their young in the care of the Ffyr, but for a long time the Ffyr had been secretly coveting the powers, wealth, and cities of the Aenid. Once the cities emptied of the powerful Aenid warriors, the Ffyr betrayed their trust and slew the young of the Aenid, scattering them through the depths of the earth. This ancient betrayal still poisons dwarves against giants in present times.
    Finally, at the end of the millenium (AC897), there was a great stirring in the Gulf of Biengyar as the storm dragon began to awaken. The shift of the waters decimated the lands of the Bienog Gyrfolk, dramatically sweeping their civilization into the sea. The Bienog ruler, Ragog, a mighty mystic and warrior, vowed that his people would return from the watery depths, even as the city about him was swallowed into the sea. It would be nearly six millennia before his promise was fulfilled by a descendent called Gog (AC7077).

The Sultan
West of their mountain wall, the Sultan dwelt. The Sultan were very different from the Haruninki and Silothreni descendent races. Most important of differences was that the Sultan were dual-natured. Their physical and mental selfs were each mirrored by a spiritual being. The psyche and physical state of either being was closely tied to that of their other self. Literally, they were of two minds. Usually a Sultan's physical and spirit selfs would speak with unanimous opinion, yet each part of the whole had its own understanding of the world and its own interests, though they might strongly overlap with those of its other part; and because of this divide the Sultan could actually commune with themselves and learn things from their other self. This naturally led to the Sultan being a deeply spiritual race. This dual nature would shape their race in extreme ways.
    At the edge of the Golden Desert, Jhet Brahna, the scattered clans of the Haruninki came together and built Bithra. It was meant to be a place where their tribes would return to each year. At the site of Bithra the Haruninki found they could gain more intense insight and unification with their spirit selves, allowing each part of their being to partially exist in the realm of the other. It was a euphoric state of harmony. Sultan youth and shaman would travel out from Bithra and into Jhet Brahna where they would listen to the sounds of the sand moving and achieve an even more intense spiritual bliss.
    For centuries the Sultan wandered their lands in search of holy locations where they could experience this oneness with their other nature. As they searched about the land they would build temple-like buildings about a days walk from each site. These buildings would be stationed by particularly wise Sultan who would act as guides for those who came in search of harmony and communion with their spiritual selves. In the beginning these guides merely escorted the curious to the holy sites, but in time they also became keepers of lore, very educated, and deeply in touch with their own spirit selves due to the great amount of time they would spend at these holy sites. As generations wore on these spirit guides became a source of leadership outside the day-to-day clan hierarchy, they would become the Sultan-lan, the Honored Sultan.
    Unlike the evolution of many other races during the first millennia, the Sultan's strong sense of tradition and their isolation from other races mostly preserved their race as it was in the very beginning.

Aenid, The First Dwarves
After the Seals of Chaos were crafted, the Aenid were tasked by Beldin Khan to secret them throughout the world so that no one might find them, or should they find one that the location of the others would not be thus compromised at the same time. The Aenid dutifully did as bid and spread their race throughout the world, traveling overland, but mostly under it and into the depths of the world. The time of the Aenid throughout the world was short, but in one or two generations of their kind they sculpted their amazing cities, shaping stone as easily as clay and seeding the hidden underworld with miraculous creations. Like their befriended Ffyr Gyrfolk or the darkness loving Ayrmin, they were a race of builders and few were the hours that an Aenid spent not working on some project. Through their dedication many of the first Underhalls were constructed (AC235), vast passages that spanned hundreds or even thousands of miles beneath the surface.
    Though the Aenid were the subject of many legends, even in their own time, they displayed the remarkable racial trait of being immune to the beliefs of other creatures and the influence of the One Power. The same resilience for which Beldin Khan brought them forth from the Age of Chaos served them well and unlike other races they did not diminish or change in spirit as the years wore on.
    In the few centuries that they wandered the world the Aenid became teachers to the other new races, bringing them the talent and knowledge of craft, metallurgy, masonry, and magic. Even though they were resistant to the changes that the One Power could cause, they had a natural knowledge of how to use the One Power to shape the world about them, allowing them to accomplish in their brief time their many wonders. This knowledge of "belief magic" they brought to the other races. The Elvd of the Shin-Men and the Gyrfolk were among the first of the beginning races to use the One Power, though as you have already read, it did not bring them only happiness, but hardship as well.
    Most important part of their brief time among the world was what took place at its very end, before they left the world of mortals and returned to the Nexus of Lin. In the mid-sixth century the Aenid discovered that their young were being born different from their parents. Some better suited to life in the depths of the world, some better suited to life in the light of the sun. Some inherited a mastery for stone craft, while others could shape and fold metal with brilliance, but few could do both with but a touch and intuitive insight as their forefathers could. This was terrible news. Though the Aenid were nearly immortal and many talented in their supernatural ways, their newborn were not; they were lesser beings. This was happening among the Aenid clans all over the world and so the Aenid decided to withdraw and return to their ancient halls above the Nexus of Lin (AC585), where they were first commissioned and sheltered by Beldin Khan. In their wake they left their children, seeded throughout the world, whose descendants would become the three dwarven races of Aefnan (Silver Dwarves), Daernarthor (Hill Folk), Urdunan (the Deep Dwarves).
    The Aefnan were crafters of metal, who dwelt within mountains, accessible to the surface world, so that the smoke of their forges could rise from vents and out of the earth. The Urdunan were masters of stone and they dwelt in the deepest halls of the earth where the mighty weight of stone presses down and forms the most precious of gems. There in the depths they built their cities of eternal stone and tirelessly labored upon their works. Third among the Aenid progeny were the Daernarthor. The Daernarthor were the least of the Aenid children, but they were also the closest in likeness to their forefathers. Equally skilled in all venues of craft, the Daernarthor chose to live near and upon the surface of the world and like their progenitors they would work alongside other races.

Kinder, the Halflings
Blessed centuries passed by as the Kinder warmed themselves under the new sun, drank the waters of the earth, and tilled their lands. It seemed as though they had inherited all the patience that the First Men lacked. Their lands were warm and in those early days there was naught but wide hilly grasslands and forests of the central most lands of Irendi. Their tranquility was increased by the presence of angellic beings who dwelled among the halflings, the Seni. These other-realm beings stood as guardians at the edges of the Kinder's lands, and they laughed and lived in their company. Some even began mixed families with the kinder, their other-worldly blood mixing with each other. The young of such unions were beautiful beings of passion, magic, and longevity; such progeny were called Seni'm and most were creatures of goodness.
    Much blessed among the Seni'm was one called Andlor, but goodness was not in him. Andlor was an awakened being who fully felt the power of The One with each weighty word that came from his lips, each thought that he cherished as truth, and each gesture that bespoke decisive action. The Seni feared the powers of Andlor and quietly they plotted his death, but Andlor learned of their treachery and in his anger he brought a star down from the sky and crushed their holy city (AC443), where the portal to the native realm of the Seni was located.
    Driven into hiding from the wrath of Andlor, the Seni hid among the burrows of the Kinder, but the worst was yet to come. The Kinder cried out against Andlor, cursing him for his wicked ways and he was chased from his home and into the wilderness with stones pelting his back. Though they scorned him, Andlor did not exercise his power over them, blaming the Seni for all of his misfortune. So he went into the swamps and hid himself while planning his vengeance. His hate consumed him and through the One Power it manifested and poisoned the waters about him, changing creatures which drank from its waters into crazed monsters that would wander out into the lands of the Kinder (AC451). As Andlor focused his hatred he wished away the Seni, intently desiring that they vanish from the world and never trouble him again. Decades passed and the Kinder came to fear the evils that spilled out of the Katar Swamps to their northwest. Perhaps as an example of the tremendous might Andlor held over the One Power, the Seni slowly faded away, vanishing from their beds, until just as Andlor desired, they simply were no more (AC512). Alone, without an enemy to put his hate upon, Andlor bitterly dwelled in his swamps for many centuries, until the end of his days.
    Many Kinder took these evil times as incentive to travel into other lands (AC457). Those who stayed behind in their first lands became ruddy and swarthy as each generation knew the hardships of living in a besieged land. Those who traveled away grew noticeably taller, their legs taking greater strides as they migrated, though not so tall as even a dwarf. Those who traveled north became hairier, growing wizened beards on their faces and a curly matte atop their feet. Most who traveled out of the Kingdom of Medea followed the mountains and went northeast and into the vast forests that lay north of the Gulf of Yren, led by the very last of the Seni, a being named Jamai. For centuries they slowly traveled. The great forests of the north were dark and the filled the earth thick with roots, making the ground difficult to farm, so the Kinder moved onward east until they came to the rolling fields and open country that lay beyond (AC972). It was a beautiful land with deep azure seas, towering mountains, and in the north it gave way to endless fertile plains for in this age there was no Great Jarik Glacier populated with barbaric warrior clans. This is where the Kinder made their new homes near the end of the first millennia. Jamai was taken into the heavens by a radient light, but commissioned eight kings to lead the Kinder in his absence.

Rhashar, The Deceivers
Before the end of the Age of Chaos there were islands scattered throughout the Sea of Rains. On most of these islands dwelt the warlike Ayrmin, but on many others there lurked the Rhashar. The Rhashar were not creatures of Sulerin, but instead they were predators of a peculiar nature who had come to this world by routes opened by the Key of Ways. On the islands in the Seas of Rain they appointed themselves kings and with their advanced understanding of Sol, the raw powers of magic without, they enslaved any who came into their territory.
    Qoyor Khan came among the Rhashar and warned them that their mountain strongholds would tremble, that new lands would appear as the flood waters abated, and that they would soon need to learn to live among other races. The Rhashar listened this news with a sly smile and bid Qoyor worry for the other races. Qoyor sternly looked upon the Rhashar princes and prophesied upon them that if they would not humble themselves and instead choose to rule from the shadows, that the young races of this world would curse and kill them wherever they were discovered; that while they might live in opulence, it would be a lie and they would live in fear of discovery. The Rhashar dismissed the warnings of Qoyor Khan and continued in their ways.
    The waters of the Sea of Rains did part as the Continent of Nereka arose from its depths. The Age of Chaos at an end, the Rhashar greedily looked down onto the new lands and saw nothing but harvest waiting to be taken in by their magic and illusion. With their trinks, beguiling tongue, and gifted minds the Rhashar secreted themselves among the Ayrmin, Saalneer, and other new races and came to power as shaman, mystics, and magicians. Since they possessed an understanding of the One Power, the power of belief, they created idols of themselves which they set over their minions. Not content with their sovereignty the Rhashar also vied for supremacy among each other and used the new races in their petty feuds.
    The Rhashar were (and still are) a chronically paranoid race; they feared the machinations of each other, they feared the potent elemental magic of the Barranan, and in the shapeshifting Saalneer they saw a bit of themselves: agents who could hide among them. In their quest for security and selfish entertainment the Rhashar began to experiment upon their Ayrmin minions. Through their mastery of belief power they reshaped the Ayrmin race to be great warriors. Their first experiments in changing the Ayrmin resulted in goblins and other weak races (AC601), but later experiments gave rise to ogres and more powerful creatures.
    For centuries the Rhashar had feared the elemental magic of the Barranan and the ability of the Barranan to see through Rashari illusions, but now, with great armies at their beck and call, they could finally bring a crushing offensive upon the elemental giants. The Rhashar attacks on the southern Barranan strongholds drove some of the Barranan to abandon the Nereka continent (AC702) and travel across the Sea of Rains in great stone ships.
    Though the Rhashar were successful in expelling the Barranan of the west, those in the west stood firm against the Rhashar and used their elemental powers to raise steep mountain ranges (AC709), and flood plains into treacherous marshland, creating natural barriers against the movement of Rhashar aggression. When the Rhashar refused to relent, the Barranan wrought an enormous earthquake (AC714) which collapsed many underground caverns beneath the Plains of Enin, sinking the land and causing the Sea of Rains to crush vast numbers of Rhashari servants. Only scattered islands remain from the highest peaks of land where this happened and the beaches in that swampy part of the Nereka Continent are still littered with buried Rhashari war regalia.
    After this dramatic blow to Rhashari might, the Rhashar ceased their wars against the Barranan and fell to infighting among each other. Several Rhashari kingdoms rose and fell. In the east there arose the Prthavi Empire (AC870), a collection of conquered Ayrmin states in which the Rhashari could indulge their subtle conniving against each other. Beyond the mountains to the west of the Prthavi Empire were scattered Dhurjaradan Kingdoms, named for the forefather whose sons warred and ruled its fractured lands. These two civilizations clashed against each other regularly when summers allowed passage through the intervening mountains.
    In the Prthavi Empire the Rhashar carefully organized some of the beginnings of religion. The Rhashar dispersed statuary icons of their leader and encouraged the masses to focus on these idols with thoughts of the wisdom, might, and enlightenment of their leader. In these early days the power of belief, The One, was well known to the Rhashar and this was an attempt to channel the belief of Rhashari subjects and transform the Rhashari leaders into greater beings. The ruler of the Prthavi empire, Sishtha, benefited greatly from this practice and became creatures of nearly god-like power. Other Rhashar emulated this tradition and numerous cults developed through-out the Rhashari civilizations. Many Rhashar leaders were greedy to accumulate power and they ignored the dangers of this practice. Should the will of the people turn against their leader, or should they focus feelings of fear or express thoughts of their leaders cruelty or incompetence upon their idols, then slowly their leaders would change and the very traits that were once merely suspect became clear truth. In the end, several hundred years later, this very practice lead to the downfall of the Prthavi Empire. Their leader, Splendid Sishtha the Immortal, was slowly transformed into a terrible monstrosity by the beliefs of his people. His body was warped into a horrific creature, a monster that represented the fears of his subjects, and he descended into madness. In a fit of bestial fury, Sishtha rampaged through his palace in the night to slay and cannibalize advisors, wives, princes, and any that crossed his path, then ran into the night and carved a swath of carnage through the empire until disappearing somewhere in the north (AC1065). It's leaders slain and capital in shambles, the Prthavi Empire fell into a slow decline and eventually scattered.

Ayrmin, The First Orckind
On the continent of Nereka, which boiled forth from the Ocean of Rains in the dying days of the Age of Chaos, there dwelt a mighty race called the Ayrmin. They had survived and flourished in the turmoil of the Age of Chaos, taking in a part of that chaos among themselves and living brutally short lives of desperate violence. Before Nereka arose from the waters the Ayrmin ruled over mountain peak islands that defiantly speared out of the churning seas. When Nereka spread its plains beneath the rising mountain tops the Ayrmin descended into the new world and flourished. Their tribes swelled in numbers and they roamed the plains in hunting bands.
    In the early centuries, the Ayrmin were already a powerful race. They clashed with the fledgling Saalneer and brought war to the mighty and giant Barranan. The chaos which tainted their spirits spread them far and wide over the new lands of Nereka, but while chaos was their strength it was also their weakness, which is why the early tales of the Ayrmin tell of their enslavement and manipulation by the devious race of the Rhashar.
    The Rhashar came among the Ayrmin in disguise, masquerading as Ayrmin of magical prowess. In this respect, the Rashar subtly manipulated early Ayrmin into battle against the Barranan and Saalneer, whom the Rashar feared. The Barranan also possessed a knowledge of the magic of Sol, that magic which does not require belief, and many thousands of Ayrmin perished in the warfare between those two races. Death was not new to the Ayrmin, the Rhashar had for centuries directed them in battle against their own kind. To create more potent warriors the Rhashar used their mastery of magic to reshape the Ayrmin, making them stronger and even more warlike. As the conflicts between Rhashar escalated, the Ayrmin were experimented upon and in the middle of the first millennia (AC601) the Rhashar created a terrible magical plague which swept the Ayrmin race: goblinization.
    The mutation shattered the Ayrmin race in two. Those who lived free of the Rhashar yolk and who escaped early enough fled north, but those who were left behind suffered terribly and the goblin race was birthed upon the world. The Rhashar would not stop there, but further used their skill with the power of belief to shape the race into a dizzying variety of goblinized creatures.
    The Barranan of the north took pity on the Ayrmin and a brief alliance was formed between them, the Barranan and those Ayrmin who had defected. Select Ayrmin were taught to wield the magic of Sol and for a short time the two races worked together against the Rhashar. Not all of the Barranan shared sympathy towards the Ayrmin. For hundreds of years Barranan and Ayrmin had clashed in battle and many among the Barranan loathed harboring Ayrmin refugees. Tensions arose and some Barranan abused the visitors to their lands, setting off riots among the Ayrmin. Clearly, an alliance between the giant Barranan and the smaller Ayrmin could not last.
    After two generations the tension between the two races was ready to explode into violence. Wise Ayrmin leaders knew that it was only a matter of time before bloodshed broke out in earnest between the two races and so they formed a plan. With the magic of Sol they called on the Spirits of Winter and called a great glacier out from the north and used this as a land-bridge to the frozen continent of Hammah (AC685). There the Ayrmin could live free from the oppression of other races. For many centuries to come they would live on the frozen edges of Hammah, the bitter cold would harden them into barbarians without peer, and they would become a race that could survive in the harshest of conditions.

Barranan, The Elemental Giants
It is said that at the end of the Age of Chaos, the Barranan were little more than spirits, but that when the Seals of Chaos were forged that the Barranan took the elements (air, earth, fire, water) and clothed their spirits in it. Their shadow, vitality and breath came from the air, their bodies from the earth, water flowed in place of blood, and the fires within them gave them intellect and purpose. Perhaps because of their innate elemental spirituality, the Barranan were also powerful wielders of the magic of Sol, the magic without.
    Like the Gyrkin, the Barranan were craftsmen, but rather than craftsmen of stone and mortal material, the Barranan could forge solid objects out of the prime elements. With their craft they could shape fire or air into solids or cause earth to flow as easily as water. Their fortresses were amazing towers of solid flame that burned out of water, aeries of stone that suspended from the sky as sure as though they had been built on the ground, and other magnificent combinations of the elements. In the fortresses of great Barranan sorcerers the secrets of the elements were searched out and revealed. Even the lowliest of Barranan were able to call summon the elements to their will. Unlike many of the other races whose genesis was on the continent of Nereka, the Barranan were unified and did not war upon themselves. Great or weak, all Barranan worked together for their common benefit.
    In the very beginning most of the Barranan lived in the west of Nereka, but after a time they spread out. Many traveled south and lived there in the young mountains, some traveled north to live in solitude from the conflicts that the Barranan became embroiled in. Although the Barranan did not fight among themselves, the Rhashar feared them for their magic talent and would bring conflict against the Barranan for centuries. Unlike the other races of Nereka, the Barranan could see through the illusions and deceptions of the Rhashar. Since the Rhashar depended upon servitor races to maintain their kingly lifestyle, they did their best to sow mistrust between the Barranan and the other races, often manipulating races such as the Ayrmin to engage in bloody conflicts upon the Barranan. In turn, the Barranan exposed the Rhashar who lived in disguise and manipulated the other races, and just as Qoyor Khan had warned the Rhashar, their minions deposed and destroyed the Rhashar wherever they were caught in their deception.
    The conflict between the Barranan and the Rhashar shaped both cultures in their early days. After a few generations of harassment from the Ayrmin, cronies of the Rhashar, many Barranan decided that they would seek out new lives to the west, across the Sea of Rains. They crafted mighty ships from stone and powered them with wind and fire; even with magic at their call it was a terribly dangerous journey (AC702). Storms struck their fleet, scattering the Barranan throughout the Sea of Rains and, at the end of the journey, less than a third who set out from Nereka arrived upon Irendi. Some of the Barranan settled in the first lands they found, in the far east and beyond the Evermounts, but others feared that the Rhashar would someday use their magic and pursue, so they took their ships further in to the Gulf of Yren, and made landfall further west, beyond the shoals known as the Jaws of Yren.
    Those who stayed behind on the Nereka continent suffered through an escalation of aggression. The Rhashar had successfully redefined the Ayrmin race into an efficient and quickly multiplying army under the leadership of a powerful Rhashar warlord called Ashar. Boldly, Ashar used his forces to push deeply into the western Barranan lands, killing and pillaging lesser races who lived under the protection of the Barranan as they went. The Barranan responded by using their elemental powers to raise a formidable mountain range (the Mountains of Pyris) in the path of Ashar's armies (AC709). This slowed the aggressors advance for several years, during which the Barranan conceived a terrible plan and withdrew from the Plains of Enin which spread south of the new mountain range. When Ashar eventually brought his armies through the mountains and his crossing of the Plains of Enin, the Barranan shaman caused incredible earthquakes which sank thousands of square miles, all of the Plains of Enin, beneath the sea (AC714). The Inside Sea and the Sea of Rains came crashing together and completely eradicated every last creature in Ashar's army, leaving nothing but island peaks. Tidal waves punished the shores of the Inside Sea and the widespread destruction was felt throughout all of Nereka. In one awful act, all the will of the Rhashar to conquer the Barranan was pacified.
    Many of the Barranan were just as horrified by the great disaster that their people had created. The sinking of the Plains of Enin had far reaching consequences beyond what they had anticipated. Following this deed, many Barranan fore swore destruction and conflict and became pacifists and builders, seeking to undo the harm their race had done. Though there was a great deal of alarm and anger among the Barranan people, they remained a unified race and conflict did not consume them.
    The Barranan who had traveled to Irendi began new lives. Those who built in the east lived and prospered in quiet oceanside fishing villages, along the Tith River, and in the eastern foothills of the Last Light Mountains. Those who sailed west beyond the Jaws of Yren found harbor, sank their boats, and traveled into the mountains where they built hidden towers to look east for signs of Ayrmin pursuit. From the mountains they carved mighty fortresses which would one day be found by the Aefnan (Silver) Dwarves under the banner of Clan Hallanstaen.

Conclusion: A Taste of Things to Come
The first millennium drew to a close with most of the original races slowly consolidating their kingdoms. Several races, namely the Ayrmin, Kinder, and Barran, had already begun to spread out and mingle with the other races. Humankind had yet to make its move, but in the millennia to come it would rise as a world power. Advances in magic would soon produce amazing wonders for which the Age of Wonders is truly known for. Most importantly, the coming millennia would host such important events as the invasion of the Ayrmin out of the north and onto the Irendi Continent, the schism of the Urdunan dwarves which spawned the Urdain, the spread of blood magic throughout the Sultan homeland of Urharulan, and the appearance of elfin races and fey. Great things were yet to come.