A Recent History of the Northlands

Recent History of the Northlands

The Valuan Empire occupies much of the vast southern continent of the world. In the 1014th year of their calendar, at the Concordat of Endamay a treaty was struck with the dwarves of the Sergha Mountains. Before 1014, the northern dwarves and the Valuans maintained a chilly relationship. The Valuans saw the dwarves as greedy, exploitative hoarders, and the dwarves saw the Valuans as warmongering tyrants. However, the dwarves were not blind to the lucrative possibilities of a treaty with Valua. The proposal involved the dwarves facilitating the passage of the Valuaun army through the Sergha Mountains and into the previously unexplored northern continent. The dwarves would also agree to a lend-lease agreement with the Valuans, providing arms and equipment for the campaign. As it was drafted, the so-called Treaty of Sergha was pledged to last for 200 years—-an entire dwarven lifetime —-at which point the dwarves were free to restrict passage across the mountains once more. The Valuans, having just finished the subjugation of much of their continent, were riding a wave of enthusiasm for conquest. They believed that two centuries would be more than enough time to establish a northern empire capable of sustaining itself. Secretly, the Valuans planned to use the combined power of the northern and southern halves of the empire they envisioned to bring the dwarves of Sergha into subjugation. The dwarves, however, believed that the humans of Valua were, as always, being far too rash and hasty. The dwarves figured that the northern continent would never cooperate with the southern empire, nor could the empire span the mountains and maintain control of the southern continent before the treaty expired.

Thus the deal was struck. For twenty decades the Valuan empire sent wave after wave of forces across the Serghan Mountains, intent on exploration and conquest. What they found was a sparsely populated savannah, split in half by a large river that flowed from the Serghan Mountains. The societies they discovered were primitive tribes of nomads that followed herds of wild game across the vast brushland, and small villages along the riverbanks that traded peacefully amongst one another.

The natives of the Serghan Highlands were quickly subjugated, faced with enemies that were technologically and militarily superior, by the year 1030. They quickly embraced Valuan ideas and culture, rapidly transforming from nomads into citizens of the Empire. Towns sprang up at various lakes and oases in the Serghan Highlands as the Valuans pushed north.

In 1054, following what was named the Laun River, the Valuans discovered something astounding: The river lead to a massive waterfall that fell from a cliff of staggering height. The cliff seemed to go on forever in either direction. As the Valuans spread out they determined that the cliff did indeed stretch from coast to coast. Baffled, and lacking the mountaineering skills to descend the cliff, the Valuans established an outpost near where the Laun fell from the cliff. The outpost eventually grew to become what is now Falconcrest, and the waterfall the Falls of Aldmach.

It was during the conquest of the Serghan Highlands that the Valuans first encountered the griffons. Mistakenly referring to them as giant falcons, they named the great cliff Falconhead Ridge. It was only later that they learned from the natives that the creatures were called griffons, and that they nested in the great caves and dimples that pockmarked the face of the great cliff. In 1091, an order of Valuan druids, the Tuatha De Melorann, was able to domesticate the first wild griffons. Since then the griffons have served as mounts and beasts of burden for the Valuans. With the aid of the griffons, the Valuan explorers descended from the edge of the great cliff to explore the mist-shrouded lands below.

What they found at the bottom of the Falls of Aldmach was a jungle, shrouded by fog, which was dubbed Mistveil. The clouds, formed by the cliff blocking the flow of moist air from the coast, created a rain forest at the base of the cliff. Dwelling in the jungle were the wood elves, a race superficially similar to the high elves or eladrin of Valua, but adapted for life in the deep jungles. Initially hostile, the wood elves harassed the small Valuan enclaves that struggled for survival in the dangerous jungles. Many strange and deadly beasts were also native to Mistveil. After a period of strife, the leaders of several wood elf tribes presented the Valuans with an ultimatum: leave the jungle to them, or face war. Realizing that it would be impossible to fight a war in such adverse conditions, the Valuans agreed to a treaty that would allow them passage through Mistveil via the Laun River, but not to colonize the jungle interior or land griffons in the canopy except at a small outpost at the base of the Falls. The Valuans’ desire to explore the lands beyond the jungle in the end outweighed their reluctance to agree to a deal they saw as ignominious. Relationships between Valua and the wood elves remained tense. The wood elves frequently raided the Valuan boats that followed the Laun as it wove through the jungle, fading back into the jungle when threatened with reprisal. The racial hostility remains to this day, as does wood elf piracy, but overall the wood elves are tolerated in Valuan lands, although they are viewed with contempt if not occasional outright hostility.

Beyond the Mistveil was a large area of verdant lowlands characterized by rolling hills and fertile grasslands along the Laun, which was formally discovered in 1177. The peninsula of the Laun Valley was inhabited when the Valuan explorers arrived by a race of humans known to the Valuans as Northerons, and to themselves as the Darjii. The Darjii were a civilized, stable society that had developed technology and government on par with the Valuans. The Valuans were initially greeted as fellow bearers of civilization, but the Valuans’ blatant militarism soon soured the relationship. The Valuans demanded that the Darjii civilization become part of the Valuan Empire. The Darjii that inhabited the area south of the Laun agreed to become citizens of the Empire. However, the northern Darjii proudly refused to cooperate. Thus, in 602, began a civil war between the Valuan-backed South Laun Darjii and the holdout northerners.

The civil war dragged on until 1213, one year before the Treaty of Sergha was due to expire. At that point, a large-scale rebellion against Valuan rule began. It started among disaffected members of the native Highland tribes that had been forcibly assimilated into the Empire. The wood elves quickly joined in, forming an uneasy alliance with the human rebels, attacking Imperial ships that plied the Laun through Mistveil. The rebellion spread into Darjii lands, and the South Laun Darjii quickly realized that the northern Darjii were not their real enemies. The civil war ended, and the two halves of the Darjii empire briefly united in opposition to Valua.

The small skirmishes ended in 1217, and full-scale war began. It was as the dwarves predicted: with access to the Valuan homelands in the south now severely restricted, the Valuan troops that remained in the Northlands faced a ragtag and diverse militia of the natives they had conquered. Slowly but surely the Valuan settlers were driven back toward the Sergha Mountains. Many Valuans surrendered, refusing to fight for an empire that had left them to fend for themselves, and preferring the clemency offered by the rebels. In 1222, the Valuan Empire formally relinquished control of all lands north of the Sergha Mountains. The grand conquest of the Northlands ended in failure, but the influence of Valuan society would be felt for generations.

Free from the governance of the distant Valuan Empire, the native peoples of the Northlands worked to return their lands to the state they had been in prior to the arrival of the Valuans. However, it was not a simple task to completely undo five decades of Valuan influence. Valuan blood began to mix with the blood of the natives, and Valuan communities became integrated into the native lands. Tranquility spread as racial and cultural tensions died down. Today, in the year 1273, the Northlands are at peace, although old feuds still simmer, and the clash of cultures continues as it has for years.

Places of Interest

  • Falconcrest is probably the largest remnant of Valuan influence in the Northlands. A trader’s city, founded in 1062 as a small outpost that quickly grew as settlers and merchants flowed in from the south, it is located near the Falls of Aldmach and is home to a large eyrie of tamed griffons. These griffons are used to trade goods and news quickly across the Laun Valley. Falconcrest is also home to the Starfell Academy, a wizard’s school established in .
  • Joorkai, the capital city of North Laun, is the seat from which the northern Darjii fought against their southern brothers during the civil war. It is one of the few Darjii cities that remains relatively free of Valuan influence. Many scholars study Joorkai and the surrounding area to learn about Darjii civilization prior to the Valuan’s arrival.
  • Braydon was once known as Angphur, a large city in the southern half of Darjii. When the south Darjii became citizens of the Valuan Empire, it was declared the capital of South Laun and given a Valuan name, Braydon. The name remains even after the Valuans have relinquished control of the region. The city and surrounding country is an interesting mix of Valuan and Darjii culture. The bloodshed of the civil war is still fresh in the minds of many Darjii in both North and South Laun, and tensions are rising as accusations and recriminations resulting from the war fly back and forth.
  • Rajanapra, the Jewel of the North, is a splendid city of wealth and intrigue. Although it is Darjii in origin, during the civil war it remained neutral and prospered. Now it is the final destination for many goods that are sent down the Laun River, making it a hub of commerce. Exotic goods from all over the Northlands can be found in Rajanapra, as well as items from far-away Valua and exotic goods from the islands of the Boreal Sea.

A Recent History of the Northlands

Ways of the Seven Llamaturtle