The Pyres of Irefell
The History of Irefell
Irefell, in its infancy, was one land, not seven. The region that would eventually come to be called The Shattered Sea was whole, and only Westamber stood apart as a separate island.
It is not known who first settled Irefell, but the first major civilization known to scholars are the Skalden – an ancient tribe of dwarves who settled the mountains of Norwiin, and built villages of stone beneath the mountains, working in bronze and eventually steel. Much of their civilization is lost to us – few writing have been found and those that survived have proven untranslatable.
The few settlements known to us, too, have been raided and emptied completely but the one quality we do know of them is that they were masterful enchanters, and the Skalden artifacts of magical worth have proven as powerful as modern works by master enchanters. They also seem to have worshipped a god of unknown origins, a creature covered with a mane of golden hair and a thousand maws.
The Kethian Empire:
The first Kethians were either natives to Irefell, developing in the mid to southern regions at a time concurrent with the Skalden, or they were invaders from the mainland. The truth matters little, however, for wherever they found their beginnings, the Kethians quickly came to be the most dominant and enduring people to ever call Irefell home, and their empire shaped the history of the world.
Many, many years ago – scholars have been unable to agree on a reliable figure, the Kethians rose up in what are now the rocky islands of the Shattered Sea, before the ocean rushed in to swallow those lands. These early Kethians enslaved the surrounding tribes of people using a powerful form of magic to dominate them and bend them to their will. This magic did not come without a cost, however – the Kethians worshipped a cruel god of death and demanded blood sacrifices to fuel his power, and in exchange these gods taught them to use circle magic to terrible effect and scribed their marks in tattoos all over the mages’ bodies. With their circle powers, the red wizards of Keth dominated all of Irefell, slaying the Skalden and expanding to conquer what would eventually become Kathak-Dur, Khrist, Mithlin, and beyond. Only the dwarven realms at Angard and Halgard remained against the red wizards’ wrath, and then only barely. For over 1200 years they brought peace, stability, and tyranny to Irefell and the surrounding lands.
Unfortunately not much is known of the red wizards in Irefell except the destruction they eventually caused. At some point roughly 2000 years ago, they gathered to make a great circle and use this magic to some terrible effect – presumably in their fight against the Skalden or another enemy, but it had the opposite effect – the spell drew so much energy that it brought ruin and desolation on Irefell, splitting the land into the many islands when the sea came rushing into the spaces between, drowning the heart of the Kethian empire and making the Shattered Sea in the process. The red wizards were destroyed or faded into nonexistence, but there are rumors that secret cults to their dark gods still exist, in Irefell’s far-flung places.
The Dennes (The First Reckoning):
In the aftermath of the Red Wizards' fall, petty kingdoms rose and fell for centuries on end, until the invasion of the Dennes approximately 500 years ago. Led by King Daemon Strongjaw and his legions of berserker warriors, the Dennes came south, fleeing the slow freezing of their homeland to the north and seeking more fertile lands to settle. They began in the north, where it is said that King Daemon made a pact with a wizard-king named Periat in exchange for great power. But Daemon broke his oaths, and though he eventually conquered all of Norwiin, Eith, Lessex, Dussex, and Eswyck, his empire crumbled to pieces after his death (he died on his coronation day, in 15 F.R.) leading him to be called "King Daemon-Thrice-Damned" – still, this brief unification galvanized enough people against Daemon and his line that it led to the rise of the Barden Line of kings. In the years after Daemon's fall, invasions from Khrist and Mithlin demanded the need for a unified kingdom, and it became Aldred Barden's mandate to deliver that kingdom.
This period is also the first point in which Irefell used a dating system to track its history. The day that King Daemon landed in Irefell he proclaimed a "new reckoning" and scholars refer to the events leading up to the coronation of King Aldred I as the "First Reckoning (F.R.)". This reckoning lasted approximately 200 years. The coronation of King Aldred I marked a new reckoning, called the "Second Reckoning (S.R.)" and the years were reset to make this 1 S.R.
The arrival of the Dennes and the invasions from southern lands also brought worship of the core deities (Pelor, Kord, St. Cuthbert, etc.) to Irefell.
The Barden Kings (The Second Reckoning):
Approximately three hundred years ago, in 1 S.R. Aldred, King of Daegaren, conquered all of Eswyck, and formed an alliance by marriage that brought Westamber into the largest unified kingdom in Irefell since Daemon's short-lived rule. With a sizeable army to field, he brought his forces to bear against the many feuding lords of Umbrose before they could gauge the severity of their peril, and after three years of war, The Stone of Umbrose fell in siege and the lords of that land yielded to the crown in Daegaren. In just five years, Aldred had united all three of the southern lands, but his push into Dussex would be harder-fought. The men of Dussex were well-fortified and had many natural advantages, and though he threw many men against the spears of Dussex, eventually he failed, and the dream of a unified kingdom was put on hold until Edwyn II and his son, Edmund II renewed it almost 300 years later. In a stunning tactical victory, southern Dussex fell and yielded to Barden rule in 171 S.R. A lord was installed at New Town and construction of Edmund's Wall began to cement Barden hold on those lands.