History

The Birth of the Five Provinces

More than a millennium ago, the continent that is now called the Five Provinces was an uninhabited land of wild nature, warring barbarians and budding civilisations. The human race was on the rise and strong leaders would come and go, but in the chaotic time now known as the “Age of War” no one could carve out a kingdom for long.

The continent's Aelfin and Dwarven nations, much older, wiser and more stable, observed the tragic human conflict but chose not to involve themselves. On the rare occasions when they were attacked by a foolish barbarian warlord, their response was quick and devastating.

It seemed civilization was on the rise, ready to conquer chaos, when several centuries ago the first Skian longboat arrived on a beach near what is now the city of Asran Biak.

The Skian explorers were representatives of a tightly disciplined military society hailing from somewhere across the Gulf of Asran. They were a nation of humans, but they were cruel, callous folk with many dark and unsavory customs. Seeing an opportunity for conquest, they immediately launched an invasion and a war of domination. The different growing civilizations and barbarian tribes were taken by surprise and no match for the superior equipment and well-organized warfare of the Skian. Soon the lands fell under Skian control.

The Skian Empire occupied the land for a total of three hundred years. During this time the invaders contemplated assimilating the Aelfin and dwarves, but the price of attacking these powerful nations was deemed to be too high. The xenophobic and unpredictable Aelfin were left alone, and the dwarves of Draghkan became occasional Skian trading partners and nothing more. Several native civilizations were assimilated or forced into alliances; those who refused were conquered and eradicated.

Rebellions were quelled quickly and brutally, sometimes resulting in the beheading of thousands a day and emptying of cities through slavery. Almost a third of the population was gone in time, almost bringing civil life to a halt.

The Skian brought science with them and strange gods, culture and politics, art and organized warfare and to this day much of the continents civilization, wry as it may be, is a legacy of the Skian occupation.

As the years passed, even the descendants of the original settlers grew weary of the strict reign of a never seen and overseas lordship and strict taxes. They learned new ways and saw merit of the older and less strict civilizations that already existed. Inevitably, a nationwide rebellion began to take shape and decades of conflict began.

From those days come the tales of the greatest of knights and heroes. One man, destined for greatness, rose up in defiance and all rebels flocked to his banner. His name was Eckhardt Moralis and he and his lieutenants are credited with ending the Skian occupation.

The Skian loyalists were eventually defeated and driven back across the sea, but during their retreat they took the time to destroy almost all of their records, artifacts and structures – to this day, historians know little about them despite their centuries of occupation.

With the Skian driven away, some opportunists tried to take advantage of the situation, and small conflicts began to break out. Eckhardt had other plans though and the budding warlords were put down quickly and brutally. While the victorious armies kept the peace, their leaders convened in Kiva. Though the city still smoldered from the Scourge, it was the best meeting place in the realm – located in the Western and most civilized of the lands,  easy to travel to and near the seashore where the last of the invaders had been destroyed to the a man.

The Kiva Treaties

Besides the borders of the lands, the Treaties also contained several rules concerning warfare. War was seen as a normal and legal way of settling disputes and hence rules were created to govern armed conflict. No torture or rape, no hurting of helpless prisoners, no razing of cities, pillaging of no more than one quarter of the goods, etcetera.

Within the cold marble chambers of Kiva City Hall, the rebel leaders held what is now known as the Grand Council, the likes of which has not been seen since. Weeks of furious debate ensued and in the end Eckhardt put his heel down and through political maneuvering, promises and threats[1] arranged for each of his offspring to be given one province to reign over in his name. All of these Princes were assigned a duo of advisors, one martial and one spiritual. When it was all over the famous Kiva Treaties had been drafted, and The Five Provinces were born in the year from then on known as 0 AL (After Liberation).

Strangely enough, the alleged allies of the humans, the Dwarves, were not invited nor were representatives of the other nations. The older civilizations, more than happy to be rid of the invaders, failed to raise their voices or were not present at all and were in some cases divided over multiple Provinces. Needless to say, this raised some bad blood afterward but none hungered for a new war so the weapons of war were buried for a time.[2]

Years of peace and prosperity followed and gave room to scientific discovery. The mages of the venerable  Brotherhood of Wizardry expanded on their knowledge and for a time worked closely with the Dwarves of Draghkan. So far, the origins and contents of this pact are unknown but fact is that it gave birth to many technological discoveries, of which gunpowder is not the least.

When Eckhardt died the realm quickly fell apart, each of the five provinces taking its own course and each prince claiming the title of Regent. Asran stayed a haven of civilization and order while the other Provinces quickly fell to either decadence, barbarian invasions, internal bickering or uprisings and rebellions of their original natives.

In Asran, after time, the marvels of technology became commonplace and the advance of science caused some to question the might of the Church. Needless to say, the clergy of the Triad considered the Brotherhood of Wizardry an increasingly dangerous power to be reckoned with.
The two main streams of Piety and Science found their muses in both the faithful regent Leo Moralis and his most important advisor, the atheistic mage Wilfred Thoralon. For reasons yet unknown they have clashed in the royal palace, leaving the King wounded and embittered and Thoralon imprisoned. Thoralon later escaped with the help of some elements of the kings own household guard (the Order of the White Hand), taking near a quarter of the Kings armies with him[3].

Overnight, the political, military and scientific infrastructure of Asran was turned upside down and so began a bitter and bloody war. 

Since then, the world has changed a great deal. The war effort has prompted both sides to develop their own structure, culture and science. Both Moralis and Thoralon now claim the title of King, a word formerly spoken in contempt as it was used by the ruler of the Skian in the Provinces. Thoralon has prompted a society of knowledge, development and technology where each has its own place and right; however, there is no room for those who wish to worship a higher power. Moralis on the other hand has enforced the religion of the state upon all within his realm and the advance of science is frowned upon and often openly crushed.

While the continent is in chaos and war threatens to become all consuming and with the Kiva Treaties apparently unenforced, older civilizations have begun to stir. The Tiarra and the Kiaro have become bolder and were seen displaying heraldry thought long lost. The Akhemur demand steep levies and tax the seabound trade. Bohemiens meet and gather more frequent and apparently their leaders are drawing up plans. An intelligent subrace of the Trolls, the so-called Trollkin, have made peaceful contact with both factions. The Ch’tau have declared independence from the Kiva treaties and withdrawn behind their natural borders, elevating their ruler to a deific status of Emperor. The Aelfin are more secluded than ever while the Dwarves are welcome guests in both warring factions for their knowledge of crafting and engineering, both scientific and artisan. Meanwhile, old barbarian tribes stir and raid, reclaiming some of their previous and old glory while the Fey defend their homes with tooth and nail, seeing that their previous politic of giving way only leads to more demands by the human settlers.

 

TIMELINE

-1000: tribes of barbarians roam the lands while pockets of ancient civilizations thrive and prosper

- 326: Skian Longboats make landfall and encounter an empty and rich land, inhabited by underdeveloped barbarians

-325: unopposed, Skian forces invade in strength, and start their conquest

-312: the Five Provinces are formed under Skian rule

-27: war breaks out among Loyalist Skian forces and Rebels 

-1: the last Loyalists are driven into the sea under leadership of Eckard Moralis, the Kiva negotiations start

1 AL: crowning of Eckard Moralis as Imperator Eckard I

47 AL: 

51 AL: Kolmar and Holm follow suit, effectively breaking up the Empire into five separate Provinces since communications with Wallidor become near impossible. 

53 AL: the Regent of Kolmar is murdered and the Province breaks down into dozens of independent city-states

54 AL: the Regent of Wallidor is disposed and roughly reforms into the kingdoms of old. This ends the Independence Wars and signals the final act of defection from the Five Provinces. 

72 AL: Leo Moralis I and his trusted advisor Wilfred Thoralon have a falling out. Thoralon flees east with close to a fourth of the forces, including almost all Wizards, starting what is now known as the Kinslayer Wars.

73 AL: The first of the Great Crusades takes place, lasting 3 years. 

79 AL: Leo Moralis I dies, Eckard Moralis II becomes Imperator

106 AL: the war, having been dormant for years, is rekindled when Thoralonian forces invade Asran. 

1 AL

Years of peace and prosperity followed and gave room to scientific discovery. The mages of the venerable  Brotherhood of Wizardry expanded on their knowledge and for a time worked closely with the Dwarves of Draghkan. So far, the origins and contents of this pact are unknown but fact is that it gave birth to many technological discoveries, of which gunpowder is not the least. 

47 AL

Eckard Moralis I dies of old age, Leo Moralis I becomes Imperator

48 AL

Neng declares independence and Leo I is unable to enforce his reign. A 7 year period now known as the Independence Wars follows. 

The two main streams of Piety and Science found their muses in both the faithful king Moralis and his most important advisor, the atheistic mage Wilfred Thoralon. For reasons yet unknown they have clashed in the royal palace, leaving the King wounded and embittered and Thoralon imprisoned and later at large.

62 AL

Overnight, the political, military and scientific infrastructure of Asran was turned upside down and so began a bitter and bloody war.

Thoralon fled east and settled in Kolmar, instigating a society of knowledge, development and technology where each has its own place and right; however, there is no room for those who wish to worship a higher power. Experimenting and discovery is stimulated and mages are the final arbiters in matters of state, law and politics. 

Moralis took a year to prepare, then launched a great attack into Kolmar, where Thoralon had fled. Three years the Grand Crusade lasted, then ground to a bloody halt as coffers emptied and whatever drive there had been behind the war of vengeance gave way to pressing matters in Asran. 

The great war has never formally ended but ground down to a battle of skirmishes, sorties and assassination, with occasional flares of violence and Crusades into Thoralonian lands. 

The past four decades since the Grand Crusade, the world has changed a great deal. The continuing war effort has prompted both sides to develop their own structure, culture and science. 

Both Moralis and Thoralon now claim the title of Imperator, a word formerly spoken in contempt as it was used by the ruler of the Skian in the Provinces. 

Where Thoralon has created a Magocracy based on merit and learning, Moralis on the other hand has enforced the religion of the state upon all within his realm; the advance of science is frowned upon and often openly crushed. 

106 AL

Eckard Moralis II

Since then, the world has changed a great deal. The war effort has prompted both sides to develop their own structure, culture and science. Both Moralis and Thoralon now claim the title of Imperator, a word formerly spoken in contempt as it was used by the ruler of the Skian in the Provinces. Thoralon has prompted a society of knowledge, development and technology where each has its own place and right; however, there is no room for those who wish to worship a higher power. Moralis on the other hand has enforced the religion of the state upon all within his realm and the advance of science is frowned upon and often openly crushed. 

Strictly speaking, the term Five Provinces refers to the lands of Men; those warlords which signed the Kiva Treaties after the rebellion against the Skian. There are five major regions in total: civilized and organized Asran in the West, rugged Kolmar in the middle, the cold and frigid Holm in the south, the fragmented Wallidor in the east and the secluded Neng behind a mountainrange, in the southeast. In the deserted north, in the Glass Peaks, the dwarven Province of Draghkan is found. The Aelfin inhabit great and ancient forests across the entire continent. In practice, the nearby Aelfin and Dwarven nations are often included when Men speak of The Provinces (a fact which annoys Aelfinkind to no end).

Until Thoralonian forces, after nearly forty years of relative peace, made a push into Asran, and the war started again. 

 

[1] The scholar Hengist writes in his Treaties of a Treaty: “his army being the largest and family members of other rebels being honored guests at the Courte of Lord Eckhardt was a very convincing argument”

[2] Again Hengist: “apparently, the wife of one of the leaders met an unfortunate hunting accident while at the court of Eckhardt. After this, the other rebels left to their respective new estates and castles”

[3] Earpwald the Gleeman recites: “Apparently, Thoralons influence was much more extensive than expected and through political aptitude, friendships, use of his extensive family and marriages, alliances and, some claim, outright use of enchantment magic the majority of the nobility (and their households, regiments and vassals) pledged fealty to him and followed him east. Furthermore, Thoralon also convinced the Brotherhood of Wizardry to join his cause and to add insult to injury, he took a fairly small but extremely valuable part of the Royal Treasure with him, thereby robbing the Crown of almost half its monetary value”.