Monday, September 15, 2008

A History of the Forbidden Lands

There is a great deal of uncertainty regarding the fall of the first empire of the furnace coast. The few reliable written sources all date from at least half a millenia past its fall, and most histories rely on orally transmitted myths and legends as well as two notable folk songs, The Lay of the King's Curse and The Fall of Theynar.

Most historians agree that Theynar, the capital city of the first empire, was situated somewhere on the border of the region known now as the forbidden lands. Its early history was stept in blood and warfare as it fought a continuous war, first to absorb the neighbouring city-states of the Inland Sea (also known as Lenthan Lake) followed by a swift campaign against the budding cities of the Furnace Coast. It was also plagued by several invasions orcish and goblinoid tribes from the west, stories of which have survived into modern times. While the complete sequence of events is lost to antiquity, most sources do hint at the ruling line of Theynar turning to the magical arts to stave off the serious problems facing the empire. By drawing upon sorcerous means, they were able to keep the whole region of Lenthan Lake, as well as the furnace coast under their rule. Still, even with this power at their disposal, their resources were spread thin, and at some point the Kings of Theynar turned to fiends and demons for aid. It would seem to be this fiendish connection which finally led to the destruction of the empire. The exact circumstances of this destructions are not known. The two songs mentioned earlier both consider this event to be caused by a spell cast by its ruler. The Lay of the King's Curse describes it like this:

Fair Leana, falling swiftly
River steals away her ruin

Sorrow robs the Sorcerer's senses
Nerull's song he will sing next

Fell words flowing from the wizard
Land itself reveals its loss

Carrion once, now creatures rising
Death brings living to their doom.

Fertile lands, now fields of ashes
Life in Theynar forever lost

Laughing now, the Lord of ruin
Casts his final spell, a curse

Time is shattered, torn is fate
loom weaves final weak lament

Shadows creeping, stretching tendrils
Drives the fleeing throng past death

The song describes the casting of the spell as a precursor for cataclysm, the final act of the king of Theynar, driven mad by jealousy and grief. The King's Curse, suggests that his young queen, Leana, fell in love with a prince of the furnace coast, and threw herself from her tower as her infidelity was discovered. The King's Curse seems to favour the queen and her lover, casting the king as a villain driving his wife to suicide and destroying his realm out of spite. This view is not echoed in the Fall of Theynar, which seems to suggest that the young prince was in the process of assaulting the city in order to steal Queen Leana away from her husband by force, as the following stanzas suggest:

Watchful City! Wake to Carnage!
Landlocked Master of Lenthan Lake.
Winding Streets! Wake to Slaughter!
Steelshod foes move silent and still.

Saintly Leana! Stir and Listen!
Courting Prince creeps in your chamber.
Sleeping Consort! Sorcerous King!
Still the casting of savage spells.

Noble Princess! Know the Price!
Handsome face hides haughty horror!
Usurping Villain! Youthful Folly!
Lascivious gaze turns love to loss

While tragic stories of starcrossed lovers seem to capture the attentions of wandering bards everywhere, it is more likely that the cause of the unnamed prince' assault on Theynar was a battle for control over the resources commanded by the first empire. What does seem probable, is that the current state of the forbidden lands is due to a magical cataclysmic event, likely of an infernal or abyssal nature. The horrors that were unleashed, were so immense and profound that even to this day, few dare enter the forbidden lands.

Those few who return, tell strange stories of horrible creatures, a strange landscape and a treacherous land where time and space itself is twisted and corrupted. Even the humanoid tribes do not venture far into the wastes. There have been stories of isolated communities eking out an existence within this region, and some sages have speculated that the King's curse may not have reached the entirety of the area, but others scoff at these tales dismissing them as mere delusions.


Charlie Stilton said...

I can't quite visualise the songs - to which tunes are they sung?

Just kidding - nice post :-) Is this the precursor to a Dag DM session?

Cynan said...

quite impressive. I was thinking about those alliteration verses myself when I was doing Telfis' song. But I don't understand them.
Not enough nordic genes I guess =)

Hedzor said...

All my genes are asian or espanic... except the Scotish ones.

Insanodag said...

This would be a precursor to a Dag DM session, if only I can manage to (a) be in the country, and (b) manage to plan ahead far enough to guarantee my attendance...