Monday, January 16, 2012

Tales of the Cannaded Dei: Recent History of Sabiri

Recent History: From 200 years ago to the present

When Espaneans arrived in the West, the Sabiri had settled comfortably into their roles as nomadic masters of the great lands they had conquered. The only true rivals to Sabiri dominion were nonhumans such as the orcs and centaurs, and the greatest threat the Sabiri faced daily was one of internal conflict and the appeasement of Kobal. The Sabiri had divided in to roughly fifty prominent tribes, each one several thousand strong, and united under a collection of charismatic warlords. This was not a people accustomed to subjugation.

Antonio Fartheren was an aspiring noble in Capitol Barcen, which had recently undergone a coup against the throne. Fartheren was a supporter of the old guard, King Demetrio who was assassinated by his cousin, Androsos Aguirre. This was followed by a bloody but brief civil conflict in which the streets of the Capitol ran red with blood. When all had settled, Aguirre had established himself on the throne (for a few years, until his own execution at a later date) and supporters of the old king that had survived the coup were now out of favor. Fartheren, concerned for the life of his family and himself, settled on a plan: he vacated the city entirely, placing his estates in the hands of his younger brother and seeking out eager volunteers to set sail westward, to find new and unclaimed coastland. While he seemed mad to some, the truth was he had already discovered the pleasant bay where Westgate would be founded in his younger years, and had long aspired to make use of the unclaimed coastland.

Fartheren arrived at the western shored along the Sabiri coast with four ships of eager colonists and his own extended clan. They found the beautiful unnamed bay where Westgate was soon to be built. Ancient ruins that stretched along the shoreline were surprisingly intact, and over the next decade many of Westgate’s buildings would integrate the remnants of the original ruins in to their own architecture.

The first decade of the new colony was fairly smooth. The colony established trade lines with the southern provinces of Grelmaine to the north, but rarely had any conflicts with the rather suspicious people of that land, who were themselves mostly uninterested in expanding in the the Sabiri lands. Only the Gordoska would come to follow the lure of colonial expansion in to the region, and then mostly as an effort in conjunction with Espanea. The Grelmanics had many superstitious beliefs, and felt that the entire land and its chalk-skinned people were bewitched and spawned from demons.

Westgate’s first encounter with Sabiri came from small coastal tribes that migrated along the coast engaging in vigorous fishing and hunting. These coastal dwellers called themselves the Sendenar, and bore the same chalk-white skin as their nomadic inland kin. Unlike the Sabiri, the Sendenar were friendly and not at all territorial. They enjoyed these new neighbors and quickly adopted the tools of trade and commerce that the Espanean merchants introduced to them.

A few expeditions inland led to some terse and unfriendly encounters with Sabiri nomads. It was the adventurer Galston Drotheros who forged all the way to the Kossarit Mountains and found the passage to the mysterious Pelegar city of Valen. His journey took him as far as Abraheil, and he returned six years later with amazing tales of what lay in the distant West.

Drotheros returned and reported word of the distant Western kingdoms. This was the first official contact between the lands of the West and East. Drotheros was more impressed with the ancient antiquity and clear wealth of the West; his journals preserved from the period in a travelogue still printed to this day mostly described the Sabiri as uncouth barbarians who appeared more interested in ritual sparring than communication and trade.

Westgate itself was a successful colony, initially. Lord Fartheren later petitioned the successor to Aguirre after word of the usurper’s execution had reached Westgate for recognition as a formal colony of Espanea, and he was granted full recognition. Moreover, his colony was recognized as an important bridge to the West and further colonization efforts by the new ambitious King Satero. Within months Satero declared that any commoners and freemen who wished to stake out land on the unclaimed western shores were encouraged to do so, and subsidies were offered to merchants who wished to explore the west for trade and profit.

The second decade of Westgate was a period of rapid, uncontrolled expansion. Before the decade was over two dozen colonies stretched out along the coast and inland, settlements picking choice locations along the inland rivers and lakes, favoring an arc along the path that the explorer Drotheros had charted out to mark the western passage to Valen. Explorers were everywhere, forging inland and uncovering evidence of the ruins of a lost civilization while having periodic skirmishes with the locals.

The Sabiri began to take notice of the Espaneans when they realized that the newcomers were now setting up shop along all the known lakes and rivers that were the lifeblood of their people. When the new colony of Fartheren was settled near the legendary Necropolis, it was an affront to the Sabiri, who could not believe the audacity of these foreigners to set up shop in land that was both the sacred burial site of their chieftains and the central grounds where annual rituals and events would be staged by the nomads.

The governor of Fartheren in those first years was the ambitious youngest son of the King, Gavin Satero. Gavin had a plan to forge a small empire for himself out in this remote land, and he set about trying to integrate the nomads in to his scheme. First he tried to make the area of Fartheren tempting to the Sabiri, inviting them to continue holding their rituals and celebrations in the area, and encouraging them to continue using the Necropolis for the burial of their chieftains. Then he began an aggressive campaign of mercantile exploitation, in which he attempted to expose the nomads to a sedentary way of life in the pursuit of fine goods and creature comforts. Few of the nomads took him up on this offer.

The Espaneans eventually reached a period of colonization in which thousands of new colonials were pouring in to the region every few months. The prospect of becoming land owners was too much to pass up for many, and records from this period suggest as many as one hundred thousand commoners, criminals, landless freemen and other hopefuls arrived in Westgate, eager to stake out their claim.

The Sabiri as a whole became nervous as the chieftains of the many tribes gathered at the sacred site of Zen Hettar to discuss what to do about this unexpected invasion. In the end, a new warlord stepped forth named Khaddaram. Under his unifying rule Khaddaram was the first of the Sabiri warlords to strike against the foreign invasion.

From 170 years ago right up until a 130 years ago the nature of the colonial holdings changed from one of bountiful opportunity to perpetual conflict. At various times the colonists would sue for peace and perhaps establish friendly relations for a time, but inevitably an ambitious governor would come to power and seek to expand once more, to subjugate the nomads, sometimes even trying to force them to settle and pay taxes. About 130 years ago, however, things got much worse when Marcus Escobado took power in Fartheren.

Escobado was exiled to Fartheren, granted control of the colonies at that time because he was seen as a dangerous threat to the throne, a potential urusper, back in Barcen. The plan worked, for Escobado was thoroughly enchanted with the defiant locals and the hardy colonials he now had been given dominion over. He set about his own plans for conquest and domination, at first by wedding the daughter of the warlord Hrados. Hrados became a strong ally of Escobado’s, who enticed the warlord with gold, Espanean women and plans for power. Under Escobado’s plans, Hrados would help unite the Sabiri in to a force strong enough to conquer all the lands, and perhaps even take the great city of Valen in the mountains.

The Sabiri trusted one of their own, and so Hrados was elevated by unanimous agreement of the chieftains to supreme warlord. Hrados then assembled the nomads in to an army, which joined with Escobado’s own forces to forge westward, to the very gates of Valen, where a protracted siege eventually led to invasion. The city, seemingly impregnable, surrendered to the invading army after only a week. Though it should have seemed suspicious to the attackers that such an impregnable fortress should have relented so quickly, Escobado and Hrados were too elated with their victory to be concerned.

The invaders entered the city to accept its surrender, but to their surprise they were greeted by only one being, a penumbral entity called Gloom. “This is my city,” Gloom intoned, and the being, truly some demon from the outer darkness, tore in to the warlord, general and their men, committing to a slaughter of the invaders that to this day is remarked as one of the most terrifying events in recent military history.

Later scholars would identify this Gloom as one of the last great immortal soldiers of the Last War to survive the Apocalypse, and surmised that this entity chose to settle and protect the city of Valen for unknown reasons. Nonetheless, the damage was done, and the Espanean and Sabiri forces were routed.

The defeat at Valen had a long term resonance with the Sabiri, who blamed the misguided trust of their defeated warlord on the silver tongues of the Espaneans. They would never have had such hubris and impudence as to invade their mysterious Pelegar neighbors, the Sabiri contended, if the Espaneans had not tricked them in to visions of power. Some warriors also felt Kobal had abandoned them, and this led to enough doubt that the emergent demon cults gained a foothold. The Espaneans in turn blamed the Sabiri on their defeat, if only for the need to make someone a scapegoat.

From 130 to 110 years ago this ill will between both parties led to constant minor conflict and warfare. The trade routes had dried up as the city of Valen locked out the easterners entirely, and the colonies suffered for it. The final telling blow to the colonies came when the new, young warlord Zvhakkatas rose to power.

Zvhakkatas was the first warlord since the failed Hrados to be placed in power by agreement of the chieftains at Zen Hettar. His vision was simple: drive the foreigners from the land. His approach was direct: attack and slay them until they fled or they had fallen in battle.

Zvhakkatas’ unrelenting assaults lasted for twelve years, during which time over two dozen towns and small cities were sacked, pillaged and burned to the ground. The Espaneans were unprepared and under-manned for the attacks, so it was often more of a slaughter than a proper fight. The unrelenting attacks by the warlord and his followers led to tens of thousands of deaths and left the land dotted with burnt ruins.

Zvhakkatas was never able to destroy the two largest cities of the colonies, however. He met his fate sieging the walled city of Fartheren, which managed to hold against the Sabiri horde, at last turning the tide of battle. This victory was made possibly only because the governor of that time, Darton Calidos, had withdrawn most troops from the smaller towns and cities to consolidate his fighting force in Fartheren. This had insured that Fartheren survived, but at the cost of all the outliers.

Zvhakkatas was slain in battle by a renegade Sabiri, one of the few who had chosen the sedentary civilized life the Espaneans had to offer named Midragas. Midragas was a paladin of the fiery demon god Vargre, whom he had taken up the worship of. Vargre’s cult was small at this time, but it had gained a footing some years ago after the defeat at Valen, for many Sabiri had been shaken in their beliefs by the defeat, and some who blamed Kobal turned to other venues of worship. The cult of Vargre had been rediscovered by explorers who had begun to plumb the depths of the ruins of the Kadelans, and a young Masirian Arcanist named Arathys had uncovered a mysterious temple to this demon god. Within the temple he had a vision, and with that vision he was compelled to begin a new cult.

When Midragas slew Zvhakkatas, it was at once seen as an affront to his own people, but it also quietly garnered more support for Vargre, as some disillusioned warriors turned to the mysteries of the fire cult and soon became immersed in it. The recognition of the cult subsequently gave Fartheren a holy prominence in the eyes of many Sabiri, which in turn gave the city a meaningful quality to the nomads that insured the city would stand. Hostilities were eventually ceased entirely, and both Fartheren and Westgate remained viable cities as a result.

The last century has remained peaceful. Fartheren is ostensibly still an Espanean territory, but most visitors who travel here find that the city has become quite removed from its colonial origins, as many Sabiri have settled in the region year round, and several cults have now risen to prominence. The followers of Kobal insist that one day the demiurge will come to obliterate the city from the face of the earth, but for unknown reasons he has not yet chosen to do so. In the meantime, more demon cults sprang up as more Sabiri have been lured to the mysterious religions of the Old Empire revealed by the Arcanists who studied Kadela. Boolion, Colobon, Vargre and others have all gained prominence here.

Westgate remains a viable port city, and within the last three decades negotiations with the council of Valen have reopened trade between the West and Espanea. Caravans now ply their trade across the Sabiri lands and in to Pelegar. Additional trade routes have since been opened to Helios, Madalios and even Zann.

For the Sabiri, the traditionalists continue to congregate annually and await a time when a new warlord of sufficient charisma will appear once again to unite the tribes. The Espaneans are not seen as a threat at this time by most of the tribes, but they remain suspect. The tribes of the eastern lands near Fartheren are also looked upon with suspicion, for they continue to congregate at Fartheren, and are also more receptive to these curious demon gods, a heresy among the Kobal traditionalists.

Next: Culture of the Sabiri

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