Return of the Long Night
For many years only petty warlords ruled the lands of Jaiman, despite the efforts of the Loremasters and a succession of powerful individuals all determined to unite at least a significant portion of the continent. Meanwhile a dark force known only as Lorgalis the White settled on the isle of Ulor, and in but a few years fortified it and then seized the lands of Xa’ar and Ly-Aran. It was feared that this Lord – suspected to be a servant of the Outer Planes – would soon send his armies swarming all over Jaiman. He as yet did not have a foothold on the main shores of the continent; any action to stop him would have to come soon.
The High Council of Loremasters met and debated the problem, deciding at last that stronger guidance was needed. Loremaster Kirin T’thaan objected, but the majority held the day: Order was necessary or the Unlife would prevail. Andraax took thought and travelled to the Land of Valemarna – home of the Lord Alchemist (known by many as Tethior. The two united their skills and knowledge, and the Alchemist toiled for many years in the design before the Six Crowns came forth. These items were of surpassing power, empowering the wearer with arcane abilities and the insight of rulership. The Crowns were of the Essence – one with the Flows and so able to tap the unlimited forces of the World. Within each Crown was a Pattern, and by that pattern were the very Lands organized. Borders were set and maintained by a power that was within the Crowns. They could not be violated. Only the strong could tap the full powers of the Crowns – the Six Lords destined to rule as selected by the Loremasters – and only the reigning Monarch’s designated heirs would be able to wear the Crowns and claim their lands. With the Crowns came Swords, powerful tools of the chosen champions of the Kings; and in addition were sex pendants, amulets to be borne by appointed advisers to each monarch – men and women of wisdom to temper the fiery spirits inherent in the passionate rulers. The Crowns of course would also do this.
Varis Faslurin was first given the Phoenix Crown, and with it was granted eastern Jaiman: the realm of Rhakhaan. Durok Arain recieved the Pegasus Crown and the Northeastern land of Tanara. Isara Lankor, awarded the Gryphon Crown, consolidated south central Jaiman as the land of Zor. To the northwest the men of Saralis stood forth, and their lord Raal accepted the Wyvern Crown; Queen Laria of U-Lyshak in the west took the Sea Drake Crown, and Jari rilis was granted the Unicorn Crown to rule the southernmost land – the great Elven peninsula of Urulan, Moon of the earth.
All seemed to go smoothly for many turns of years. For a dozen centuries the Six Realms grew rich, powerful and secure, each country with defined borders, friendly with its neighbours and presenting a united front against any military assaults by forces of the Unlife. The Crowns were mighty artefacts indeed, but as such they tended to weigh heavily on their owners after a time. The same attributes which allowed a given ruler to maintain absolute control over his or her land also tended to restrict his thought patterns (necessary to prevent border disputes and expansionism). Of course, the entire situation was somewhat subjective and artificial. Rulers began to don their Crowns less and less frequently – realizing that while they did not wear the Crown they felt greater freedom of thought. When this occurred, the agents of the Unlife saw their opportunity to sow dissent. The Swords and Pendants were not restrictive like the Crowns – though each held a spirit of its own. Only the Crowns controlled the very land and held the borders.
Each ruler knew intuitively that – even though he or she did not wear the Crown and so could not exert the mystical Earth-Essence power over their land – while the other monarchs wore their Crowns, they had no desire to assault a neighbour. It was only when two or more leaders abandoned their Crowns that strife was possible; or when there was an outside threat. All knew that the Crowns brought security, but stifled initiative. The more self-assured grew impatient, and desired to expand their lands. The Crowns would not allow it. Dissatisfaction arose.
The problem was exacerbated by the arrival of certain men, seemingly with great knowledge and wisdom, from the east. They were more free with their lore that the almost grudging, always condescending Loremasters. These Wise Men counselled the removal of the Crowns, saying instead, “Who rules when you wear the Crown? Not you, my friend, but the Loremasters far away. They control you as a puppeteer manipulates a wooden dummy! Would you have such a master?”
The plans of Andraax and the Alchemist began to crumble before their eyes.
The first to fall was Zor, the largest of the Six. King Haril Kitaan IV listened to the words of his Court Seer, the Lady Yalaan, and refused to put on the Crown at his coronation (and so never received the initial Patterning which allowed full use of the Crown’s powers). He heeded not the advice of his late father’s advisor Temeris (who wore the Pendant) and began to seek for ways to expand his realm. The other five Crown-kings were disturbed by this turn of events, but Haril remained on friendly terms with them – and in any case their lands were unassailable: no one could stand up against the full might of the Earth-Essaence. However, Haril acquired the Mur Fostisyr, along with a number of western islands previously independent. At Yalaan’s urging he began to seek for ancient relics of the Lords of Essaence – items of power from the First Era. One mighty device was indeed found – to the utter undoing of Zor. A strange metal sphere was brought to the capitol city; Yalaan declared it an Orb of Power. Temeris fled the city, taking with him the Crown and Pendant. He barely escaped before the Orb’s power was unleashed – vaporizing the city and turning the surrounding land into a desert for a hundred miles.
The Tanarans were the next to succumb, though in a different manner. Few now know that the original Lords of Tanara were the ancestors of the Duranaki people. A proud and fair race, they built gleaming cities on high peaks and delved deep mines. Their craftsmanship was renowned. With the aid of the Pegasus Crown, they tamed the Steardan and rode the winged horses all over Jaiman. Craft and Spell were their ways, and few rivaled their skill in either. Once again, though, came men from the north who called themselves Sorcerer Sages: men with great knowledge of the Essaence, and strange powers. The Tanarans, with their lust for knowledge, succumbed quickly to this lure. Lord Kerr Arain VIII rode north with the Sage Teleus and never returned. The fate of the Pegasus Crown and Sword remain unknown. In the ensuing confusion, Tanara was attacked by a force from the north, demonic creatures and evil men astride black unicorns. Most Tanarans were slain; the few survivors were driven underground. They have since evolved into a paranoid, subterranean culture just now returning to the level of technology and social sophistication they once had. Even as the Tanarans were being seduced by the words of the Sorcerer Sages, Saralis and U-Lyhak were suffering similar fates. Both fell to the seduction of treachery, and once-great realms descended into barbarism.
Meanwhile the King of Rhakhaan was listening to the advice of a man who called himself the Magician. The Mage, a powerful magician and clearly a knowledgeable man, counseled King Arej Faslurin that there were vast lands – since left nearly vacant by the Zorians who were ripe for conquest. Arej was reluctant at first (the Crown’s power still held him somewhat in thrall), but after a few years of careful maneuvering, the Magician had his way. The old lands of Southern Zor were annexed – and the Phoenix Crown of Rhakhaan was entombed in a vault. Soon other ideas came to Arej’s head: he was too tolerant of Elves; those immortal creatures were taking advantage of him. Only two realms remained on Jaiman anyway – and why shouldn’t Rhakhaan rule the entire continent? All the while the Loremasters agonized over their failure and were in doubt over how to correct it. Andraax suggested drastic corrective measures while others counseled restraint: too much damage had been done already through interference; only more pain could result.
It was not long before Arej declared himself a Emperor of Jaiman and attacked Urulan. The war lasted for a hundred years and was inconclusive. Though the Unicorn Crown protected the borders of Urulan, her people suffered from the isolation. In addition, there were many elven settlements in Tanara and southern Rhakhaan, all of which were either destroyed or their inhabitants persecuted. Finally, Arej died – assassinated by an unknown murderer, his plans unfulfilled. The realm fell into anarchy, a number of heirs vying for power. Two brothers and a number of cousins began to break off their Duchies and Earldoms. Arej’s only child was a son, Jehiil, who took the seat of power but was unable to consolidate his position as true Emperor of Jaiman. While he refused to take the Crown, he was more moderate than his father. He disliked the Elven-kind, but was unwilling to launch an effective assault.
Rhakhaan declined into a small, threatened land for many years, and it was only with the Ascension of Ajkara III some four hundred years later that the country achieved unity again. Hardly has she inaugurated her court, however, when the Magician appeared. Whether a descendant or his questionable predecessor or the same man, he somehow made his way into Ajkara’s inner circle of advisors. She, however, had somehow acquired the Phoenix pendant, and the aid of one Jeril Sumnari, a Loremaster. Sumnari and the Mage were frequently at odds, and Ajkara was wise enough to play one against the other. She even survived an attack by a spectral creature described (according to the records) as the “Wraith Lord”, apparently a powerful manifestation of the Unlife. Ajkara was only saved by the Phoenix Pendant. Soon afterward Ajkara renounced her rule and fled with Sumnari to an unknown destination. She left no heir and Rhakhaan was sundered into its provincial holdings – which warred amongst themselves until the entire fabric of the civilization was destroyed.
Urulan was the last to fall, her Elven peoples simple but hardy. Weakened by the continued assaults by the Rhakhai, they were unable to weather the plague, which wiped out most of their crops, and a series of unnaturally harsh winters. The various shore villages were cut off from each other across the mountain passes. Than came the earthquake that destroyed the capital city utterly, sending it into the ocean – along with the King, and no doubt the Unicorn Crown.
602 Third Era of Ire
Lerianis, Scribe of Nomikos
From a Scroll found in Gryphon College