Doom of Irafan
History of the Empire of Irafan
Origins and early conquests
According to legend, the Irafani arose from the sea seven thousand years ago and settled on the coast of Maelstrom Bay. They warred off and on for many years with a mysterious and reclusive people known as the Moriven. When an uneasy truce was finally reached, the Irafani quickly absorbed the other human inhabitants of the land now known as Irafan, with the exception of the central reaches still held by the Moriven, and sealed their power by establishing their capitol, Callon, as the single point of access for sea trade between their newly acquired holdings and other lands.
Their power was strengthened by a string of odd coincidences. First, other human lands fell into their hands virtually without a fight. There had been an ancient human realm, known to historians as Dren, that stretched across all of current Irafan, north into the desert of Mor Harund, south into the swamps of northern Ebover, and east into the now empty lands between Irafan and the wastes of Mandor. However, the histories that have been discovered of this land say that it was torn apart by a disease that killed nine in every ten people within a span of twenty years. Afterwards, many of the survivors were taken as slaves by the Mandoran and Moriven empires. By the time the Irafani began expanding past Callon and the coast of Maelstrom Bay, the north had degenrated into a largely abandoned battlefront in a warming cold war between the Mandorans and the Moriven. In the south, only two of the great ancient city states remained, and they had become isolated, destitute and paranoid. As the Irafani expanded, they were often hailed as saviors rather than contested as conquerors.
Disappearance of the Moriven Empire and Consolidation of Power
The next great leap in Irafani power occurred with the mysterious disappearance of the Moriven. To this day, no one knows for certain even what they were, much less what happened to them. They had become increasingly introverted after the coming of the Irafani. When it was finally discovered that they were gone, it had been thousands of years since one of their kind had been seen by either human or Fae. They never ventured beyond their own borders, and any who dared enter were never seen again. The land might well be nothing more than a hole in the map to this very day, were it not for the escaped slaves that began wandering into Irafani cities, lost and completely mad, unable to describe what had happened to them. This continued intermittently for about a year before the Irafani finally decided to send a small search party across the Moriven Border. They found nothing. The great Moriven cities were still there, but they were empty. There were no bodies. There was no sign of a struggle. If they left, they left in a hurry, for most of their possessions and livestock remained, though the livestock had mostly died or gone feral. Whatever happened had left the bodies of the slaves untouched. They were all mad, but there was no way to tell whether it was the event which led to the disappearance of the Moriven that had driven them mad, or the treatment they had received as slaves – most researchers assume the former; however, as virutally nothing is known of events within the Moriven empire, it is impossible to say for certain. The only real clue as to what might have befallen the Moriven is that their land was infested with undead. However, the numbers were not nearly what would have been expected had the Moriven either been driven out by, or somehow all become undead.
The disappearance of the Moriven presented both opportunity and danger to the Irafani. They now had easy access to the fertile lands to the north, and immediately began granting land to anyone willing to relocate, with the understanding that they would work the land and trade with the south. However, with the powerful and dangerous Moriven gone, the Irafani became concerned that the larger and more powerful Mandoran empire would begin to view their rich lands as easy pickings. Additionally, they began running into issues with the Fae of Blackthorn Forest, a great woods that filled most of the northwestern quarter of the realm.
Faewar and the Treaty of Elgard
When the Irafani began exercising more control over the newly opened northern reaches, many of the land grants were given to immigrants from a distant land to the north of the Mor Harund desert. These were an illiterate people who have largely adopted the culture and traditions of Irafan, and thus little is known about them for certain; historians, however, have inferred many things from oral folklore. It is said that there ancient home was called Vordak. They were a dierce, warlike people who were forced to constantly test their strength against the brutal cold of their home and neighboring vicious and warlike race of fey that they called the Norn. It is difficult to say from the folkloric accounts how long their conflict with the Norn persisted before their border forts began to fall; however, so pervasive was the war with he Norn in their stories, that it assumed to have lasted for many generations.
When the Norn broke through and began slaughtering the Vordakians and putting their villages to the torch, they began a long southward trek across the icy tundra, mountains and desert to arrive years later in the relatively paradisal Irafan. Due to their long war with the Norn, they brought with them a deeply ingrained hatred of all things Fae. This was problematic, as many of the northern land grants given them by the Irafani in an attempt to make the north prosperous were near Blackthorn Forest, the ancient home of the Fae Races in Irafan.
Naturally, conflict between the two groups began to crop up, and because the Irafani were trying to increase their control of the north, they began to get pulled into the conflict. Within a (human) generation of this development, the two were at open war; within fifteen years, the war had wreaked enough damage on both sides that they were eager to come to some sort of peace. The Irafani were desperately trying to build up their strength to defend against a Mandoran invasion that they were certain would come any day, the Fae were fighting a war on their other border in the Fae Wild with someone who called himself the Bone King, and both sides were still, in that day, somewhat paranoid about the mysterious disappearance of the Moriven. The leaders on neither side considered the other a significant threat, but both had to deal with a considerable and growing level of hatred and prejudice amongst their citizens.
After a long, uneasy truce and many years of difficult negotiations, a rather surprising treaty was reached. It brought Blackthorn Forest into Irafan is a semi-autonomous region. In return, the Eladrin city of Nor Hen was also joined to the Irafani Imperial line in a peculiar fashion. The Oldest living descendant of the then current emperor was joined to a Fae chosen by the Nor Hen Council of Elders during a special ceremony in the depths of Blackthorn Forrest. After that, the two were forbidden to seek one another out. The throne would go to the child of that union (which was guaranteed as part of the ritual), who was to be raised in his mother’s land, whether Callon or Nor Hen, until the age of ten, then fostered ten years in the other, after which he could move back and forth freely as his responsibilities dictated.
However, this child was not to become the foundation of a new ruling line. Rather, successive human generations of prime inheritors of the Irafani royal line (called from that point forward the Duke – or Duchess – of Callon) would continue would continue to produce new rulers with Fae chosen by the council (none know the reasons or methods behind this chosing besides the councilors themselves, but the chosen have no common lineage and are often not taken from positions or families of importance).
Part of the deal was a mutual protection pact, which both sides soon had the opportunity to act upon. Irafani aid was regularly called upon in Nor Hen’s troubles upon its Fae Wild borders, and the Fae were instrumental in helping Irafan deal with some of the horrors that crept in from the east in the years following a great cataclysm that was soon to occur upon the border with Mandor. As members of the two races fought side by side, turst gradually grew. However, they often still have peculiar ideas about one another. A fae that has lived its entire life in the misty confines of Blackthorn Forrest is likely to view all humans as barbarous, brutal, perhaps even insane, though perhaps also braver and more honorable than they tend to be as well. On the other hand, many humans, especially in the north, believe that the true secret purpose of the pact with Nor Hen was to protect them from the Eladrin. They see the Elves as almost a sort of guardian spirit charged by the Elgard Treaty to guard their children from being stolen or eaten by their more alien brethren. The elves are greatly amused by this, and often do less than they should to correct this misconception, much to the irritation of the Eladrin.
The Mandoran Apocalypse
As soon as the Treaty of Elgard was concluded, the Irafani began bracing themselves for a potential conflict with the Mandorans. During the conflict with Blackthorn Forest, the Mandorans only made a few minor, exploratory skirmishes into the northern regions claimed by Irafan. However, as soon as the fighting between the humans and fae concluded, the mandorans paradoxically seemed to begin girding themselves for some sort of major invasion. Befor five years had passed, though, fate intervened and destroyed a second enemy. Though the ultimate cause of the Mandoran Cataclysm remains unknown, it was not quiet and mysterious like the disappearance of the Moriven. Within the course of a year, a series of natural and supernatural disasters had ripped the Mandoran empire asunder. By the end of the year of the Mandoran Cataclysm, the land was torn and broken, swarming with undead, abominations and worse, and riddled with giant tears in the fabric of space and time itself.
This did more for the Irafani than clear away an external enemy. The ancient, powerful families that ruled the southern cities were once again stable and prosperous, and had been exercising increasing independence. However, they had come to rely increasingly on trade with the Mandoran Empire, whereas the Irafani of Callon traded mostly be sea. Now, with a dangerous morass to the east, impassable swamps and jungles to the south, and a northern desert empty of all but barbarians and primitive lizard-like peoples, the only trade was by sea – and the Irafani held onto the coast with an iron fist, brutally repressing any attempt at smuggling. Within a couple of generations of offering preferrential trade deals to those southern families that cross married with Irafani noble families from Callon, the stability of their empire was assured. This stability has reigned for several hundred years.