Tuesday, 14 June 2016

A History of Eärwa Part 2: The Age of Man

Eärwa is seen as the cradle of civilisation, the home of the Cûnuroi and the greatest nations in the history of the world. But it is not the only continent known to exist. To the south, beyond the Three Seas, lies the desolate desert land of Kutnarmu, dominated by vast deserts and untraversable wastes. To the east, beyond the vast Kayarsus Mountains, lies another land: Eänna, the Land of the Uplifted Sun.

The Five Tribes of Men and their initial distribution into Eärwa after the Breaking of the Gates (the location of "The Gates" is speculative).

Little is known of Eänna, even today. Explorations of that continent have revealed mountains, deserts and plains, populated sparsely. Such explorations have not progressed far before turning back for lack of supplies, or have not returned at all. But we know that the earliest tribes of independent men dwelt in Eänna. Even as their western brethren were enslaved by the Cûnuroi, becoming the Emwama, the men of Eänna were building the rudiments of civilisation. Over time they became divided into five distinct tribes: the Ketyai, the Norsirai, the Satyothi, the Scylvendi and the Xiuhianni. The Tribes warred against one another but were also united by religion. The Tribes came to believe in the Hundred Gods, a hundred distinct, individual spiritual entities who responded to their prayers and intervened in the affairs of men.

Their religion, the Kiünnat tradition, was given form and structure through the Tusk. A colossal bone-artifact, the Tusk was inscribed with the holy words and stories of the Five Tribes. It was gifted to the Tribes by strangers who journeyed out of the west. The age of the Tusk is unknown, save it far predates the Breaking of the Gates, which took place (according to tradition) 4,132 years before Anasûrimbor Kellhus's Great Ordeal marched onto the Istyuli Plains.

 The Tusk, the most ancient and holiest item in both the Kiünnat and Inrithi traditions, and the most unholy in the Fanim. It was installed in the holy city of Sumna shortly after the Breaking of the Gates and has remained there ever since, save a brief period during the Apocalypse when it was evacuated to Nilnamesh.

The Tribes of Men dwelt in the wilds of Eänna for centuries. They fought their own wars there and, long before the Tusk, suffered a religious schism between the Shamans (sorcerer-priests who worshipped the one God of Gods and were of the Few) and the Prophets (priests of the Hundred Gods, given direct access to the Hundred and imbued with special powers). The Prophets won, resulting in the outlawing of sorcery. Partially due to this disadvantage, the forays of men into Eärwa were met with enslavement or death at the hands of the Cûnuroi, whom the Tribes soon came to curse as the Oserukki, "Not Us", the Nonmen. It was a hard existence in a hand land.

Despairing of the lot of men, Angeshraël, a priest or holy man of the Tusk, climbed to the peak of Mount Eshki, fasting and praying to the Hundred for guidance. At length he descended from the mountain and found a hare to skin and eat. Once he had his fill, he was joined at his fire by a man, at first glance a traveller of the wastes. But Angeshraël recognised the man as the god Husyelt, the Holy Stalker made manifest, and fell to his knees. Husyelt asked why he did not throw his face into the earth as homage demanded, so Angeshraël did as he bid, even though this meant bowing his head into his fire. Angeshraël burned his face, but the god acknowledged his faith. They talked for a time before Husyelt left him. The experience ended the time of Angeshraël the man and began the time of Angeshraël, the Burned Prophet.

 Angeshraël, the Burned Prophet, who is said to have led four of the Five Tribes of Men into Eärwa.

He went amongst the Five Tribes, declaring that beyond the western mountains lay a land of bounty and gift which was the rightful birthright of the Tribes. It was held by an accursed race of False Men whose extermination was called for by the Tusk itself. The False Men wielded great powers, but when the Tusk was delivered unto the Tribes certain "gifts" had come with it, metal spheres which would render these powers useless. Angeshraël's words spread amongst the Tribes and soon found great favour. He urged those who would follow him to gather on the slopes of Mount Kinsureah.

There Angeshraël made his final case, arguing for the Five Tribes to cross the Great Kayarsus and claim the Land of the Felled Sun, Eärwa, the promised land. There was tremendous doubt and discussion. One of the Five Tribes, the Xiuhianni, rejected his words and left, scattering back into Eänna. But Angeshraël convinced the rest by performing a great sacrifice, slaying his son Oresh as a sign of his conviction.
The Breaking of the Gates, the destruction of the Nonman Mansions and fortresses guarding the passes through the Great Kayarsus Mountains. This event marks the beginning of recorded human history.

The four remaining tribes agreed to follow the Burned Prophet. In their multitudes, they swarmed through the Gates of Eärwa, which the Nonmen had fortified in ages long past. The Tribes threw down the gates in ruin, an act immortalised as the "Breaking of the Gates", the beginning of recorded history and also the beginning of the Second Age, Far Antiquity and the Age of Bronze.

The four tribes swept across Eärwa from the north and east, throwing down the great High Mansions one-by-one. Siöl, the most powerful mansion, was destroyed early in the invasions, for it lay under the Northern Kayarsus themselves. Nihrimsul followed, and then the remnants of Viri and far Illiseru. Only Ishoriöl and Cil-Aujas survived of the great mansions. The rest fell. The Cûno-Halaroi Wars were fought over generations but ended in the defeat of most of the Cûnuroi in Eärwa. However, during this war men were forced to relearn the art of sorcery in order to defeat the Nonmen Qûya. Although judged necessary to survive, they were damned and cursed even as their powers paved the way to victory.

Once secure in Eärwa, the tribes found new homes. The hardy Norsirai settled the north, particularly the lands to the south of the Sea of Neleöst along the fertile River Aumris. The Scylvendi settled the lands further south, between the Atkondras Mountains and the Hethanta Mountains, on the Jiünati Steppe and the lands south as far as the inhospitable Great Carathay Desert. The Ketyai, the most numerous tribe, made their home on the rich Kyranae Plains and the lands extending north and east around the Meneanor Sea and Sea of Nyranisas, as far east as the Southern Kayarsus. The Satyothi went to the far south-west of Eärwa, beyond the Atkondras range and Carathay Desert, settling the lands to the west of the Hinayati Mountains as far as the Great Ocean itself.

The human nations of Eärwa circa 570 years after the Breaking of the Gates.

The first human nations arose soon after. The Satyothi, isolated from the rest of Eärwa by geography and distance, established a kingdom known as Angka, a forerunner of modern Zeüm. The Ketyai established the kingdom of Shigek, the first nation of the Three Seas, around the broad delta of the River Sempis. Another Ketyai kingdom was established at Nilnamesh in the far south, beyond the Carathay Desert. The Scylvendi disdained the trappings of civilisation, preferring to remain pastoralists dwelling on the steppes and plains.

But it was in the Ancient North that human civilisation first truly took hold in Eärwa. The River Aumris and the surrounding region became the focus of such settlements, with the great cities of Trysë, Sauglish, Etrith, Lokor and Ûmerau founded in relatively short order. Controversially, these city-states disdained the command of the Tusk to exterminate the Nonmen and began trading with the Cûnuroi of Ishoriöl to the north-east, to their mutual enrichment. The power of the Aumris River cities grew quickly. Somewhere in the 4th Century after the Breaking of the Gates, Cûnwerishau, the God-King of Trysë, made a pact with Nil'giccas, the King of Ishoriöl. He received a copy of the Isûphiryas, the chronicle of the history of the Nonmen prior to the Breaking of the Gates and the oldest extant work of literature in the world.

By 430 the God-Kings of Trysë had been overthrown and Ûmerau had became the primary power of the Aumris River Valley. By 500 the Ûmeri Empire had formed, the first truly great empire of men, extending along the full length of the Aumris River and extending across the lands to either side. This also coincided with the growth in power of the Ketyai to the south, with the Seto and Annaria tribes colonising the length of the River Sayut and the Secharib Plains.

In 555 the Nonman Tutelage began. The Cûnuroi, mostly of Ishoriöl, formed an alliance with the Norsirai of the Ûmeri Empire and began teaching them in arts both mundane and sorcerous. Most notably, the Nonmen Qûya imparted to the Norsirai Anagogic sorcerers the secret of the Gnosis, the most powerful form of sorcery known to exist. It was also around this time that the subtle Cûnuroi game of benjuka was also taught to men. Those Nonmen who went to live amongst humans and serve them as teachers were called Siqû.

The next three centuries saw the Ûmeri Empire flourish thanks to this alliance. In 560 the Great Library of Sauglish was founded by Carû-Ongonean, the third Ûmeri God-King. Ten years later he founded the fortress of Ara-Etrith, "New Etrith", which would later be called Atrithau.

Gin'yursis, a Cûnuroi of Cil-Aujas exiled from his home mansion, travelled to the Ancient North and undertook tutoring of men in the arts of sorcery. In 668 he founded the Gnostic School of Sohonc. His student Sos-Praniura would then founded the Gnostic School of Mangaecca in 684. The power of the Ancient North increased thanks to these schools of learning and sorcery.

In 750 the Heron Spear, Suörgil ("Shining Death"), seized from the Inchoroi King Sil by Cû'jara-Cinmoi himself, vanished from its place of safekeeping, deep in the heart of Ishoriöl. Unbeknown to the rulers of that mansion, a powerful Qûya named Cet'ingira (later "Mekeritrig", "Traitor of Men") had arranged the theft. After the end of the Cûno-Inchoroi Wars, Cet'ingira had been sent into the Golden Court of the Incû-Holoinas on the orders of Nil'giccas. He returned sane and whole, but his companions who had accompanied him had been driven mad by something called "the Inverse Fire" and were put to death. However, it now appeared that Cet'ingira had surrendered his allegiance to the Inchoroi, two of whom had - somehow - survived the twenty-year purge of the Ark. Cet'ingira delivered the Heron Spear to the environs of Golgotterath (some reports say it was taken inside, but this is unclear as the Ark was still cloaked in a Nonman glamour that rendered it inaccessible). In 777 Cet'ingira set about the corruption of the School of Mangaecca, revealing to them the existence of the Golden Ark and the Inchoroi in great secrecy.

In 809 the great city of Cenei was founded on the Kyranae Plains, soon establishing itself as the greatest Ketyai power north of Shigek. Just two years later the great kingdom of Akksersia was founded on the northern shores of the Sea of Cerish, with its capital at Myclai.

In 825 the Nonman Tutelage ended with a crime most foul, committed by the Siqû Jiricet against Anasûrimbor Omindalea, the daughter of Sanna-Neorjë, a ruling noble of the Ûmeri Empire. When Ishoriöl refused to hand over Jiricet for trial, the Empire expelled all Cûnuroi from within its borders and ended the alliance. Omindalea would die bearing Jiricet's son, Anasûrimbor Sanna-Jephera, known as "Twoheart". Holding the child blameless for the sins of his father, Sanna-Neorjë made Sanna-Jephera his heir.

By 850 Akksersia had sent colonists south of the Sea of Cerish, founding the city of Kelmeöl on the southern shores of the sea. The people of this region soon became known as the Meöri. By 1104 the single city-state had expanded into the Meöri (or Meörn) Empire, extending south to the River Wernma.

 The major powers of Eärwa circa 1,110 years after the Breaking of the Gates.

In 917 the Ûmeri Empire collapsed, overrun by the Cond tribesmen of Aulyanau the Conqueror. This leads to a second period of domination over the Aumris Valley by Trysë. In 927 the Cond conquered Ara-Etrith and settled several tribes in the region.

In 1086 Shaeönanra was born in Ûmerau. He was the son of a treasurer and showed tremendous aptitude for sorcery. He was taken in by the Mangaecca and became the school's most promising student. By the 1110s he had already become the Grandvizier of the Mangaecca and had learned forbidden knowledge about the Incû-Holoinas, including its location. Aided by the Cûnuroi traitor Cet'ingira, Shaeönanra set about tearing down the glamour surrounding the Golden Ark, finally succeeding in destroying it and making contact with the last two surviving Inchoroi, Aurax and Aurang. In 1119 Shaeönanra and Aurang defeated Titirga, the Grandmaster of the Sohonc, after luring him into a trap. In 1123 Shaeönanra announced to the world that he had discovered a means of saving the souls of those damned by sorcery, but was promptly denounced for impiety. The Mangaecca were outlawed, fleeing Sauglish for Golgotterath.

Titirga, the Grandmaster of the Sohonc, confronts Shaeönanra, Grandvizier of the Mangaecca, whilst wielding the fabled Day Lantern, a gift from the Nonman hero Emilidis.

By the end of the 13th Century Akksersia had become the most powerful Norsirai nation, extending north from the Sea of Cerish onto the Plains of Gâl. At the same time the city-state of Shir on the River Maurat had conquered the tribes of Set-Annaria and founded new empire, Shiradi, trading with the Meöri to the north. However, the Aumris Valley and the area around Atrithau had fallen under the yoke of the Scintya, a new migratory group of Norsirai tribes. By 1381 Atrithau had liberated itself from the Scintya and founded a new nation, Eämnor, which rapidly became one of the pre-eminent powers of the Ancient North.

In 1408 Anasûrimbor Nanor-Ukkerja I, the Hammer of Heaven, defeated the Scintya once and for all, driving them from the Aumris Valley in abject defeat. He then seized the Ur-Throne in Trysë and declared himself the first High King of Kûniüri at the age of just thirty. Kûniüri rapidly became the largest and most powerful empire of men in Eärwa, extending north to the Yimaleti Mountains, east to the shores of the Cerish Sea, south to Sakarpus and west to the Demua Mountains. Kûniüri was careful to maintain good relations with Eämnor to the west, the Meörn Empire to the south-east and Akksersia to the north-east. These four powers soon became immensely rich on trade and cooperation, particularly against the Sranc who had begun to trouble the North in worrying numbers.

Anasûrimbor Nanor-Ukkerja I died in 1556 at the age of 178, the result of Nonman blood in his veins. Upon his death he divided the empire between his sons, creating Aörsi (in the north, between the Neleöst Sea and the Yimaleti Mountains) and Sheneor (in the east, between the seas of Neleöst and Cerish) in addition to Kûniüri itself.

In the 15th Century, the Shiradi Empire was conquered by Xiuhianni invaders from Eänna, who had crossed the southern Kayarsus in the vicinity of Jekk. The city of Shir was destroyed, but the imperial dynasty was able to relocate to Aöknyssus and, after twenty years of warfare, managed to defeat the Eännan invaders. By 1800 the Shiradi Empire had been firmly re-established and bolstered by the presence of the Surartu, an Anagogic school of sorcerers (forerunners of the modern Scarlet Spires) based at the river fortress of Kiz in the city of Carythusal.

In 1591 the long, uneasy period of dominance by Shigek over the Kyranae Plains came to an end. The Shigeki Empire had spent centuries gradually being sapped by internal rebellions and clashes with Nilnamesh far to the south, particularly by Nilnamesh's attempts to colonise the Middle-Lands of Amoteu on the Three Seas between their empires. The native Kyranae plainsfolk managed to overthrow and defeat Shigek at the Battle of Narakit. This was a precursor to the rise of the kingdom of Kyraneas itself, with its capital originally at Parninas but later at Mehtsonc. Kyraneas defeated and conquered both Shigek and Amoteu, forming a large empire stretching south along the western coast of the Three Seas.

In 1896 Anjecis, who would soon be famed as the father of syllogistic logic and algebra, as well as a philosopher of unsurpassed repute, was born in Mehtsonc. He would die in 2000, at the age of 103, having written Theophysics, The First Analytic of Men and The Third Analytic of Men, three of the most renowned works of human knowledge and wisdom.

 The major powers of Eärwa in 2089 Year-of-the-Tusk, the birth-year of Anasûrimbor Celmomas II and Seswatha of Trysë, two of the great heroes of the Apocalypse.

This was the age of great men, of warring cities and clashing empires. The lives of humans were brief but passionate, the rapid rise and fall of empires likely bewildering to the long-lived and slower-burning Cûnuroi. But there were also signs of growing maturity, with men like Anjecis (and his philosophical Kûniüri sparring-partner, Ingoswitu) seeking true wisdom and larger, more stable nations forming such as Kûniüri. What would have become of the great, vast civilisation of the Ancient North and its neighbours in the Three Seas is fascinating to speculate, but events meant that this was not to be.

In 2089 Anasûrimbor Celmomas II, the future High King of Kûniüri, was born. In the exact same year was born Seswatha, the son of a Trysëan bronzesmith. These two men would stand history upon its end, for they were fated to live in the time of the Apocalypse.


All of the artwork for this article was created by Jason Deem, known as Spiral Horizon, and used with his permission. You can find more of his spectacular work here. The maps are from Scott's website, adjusted by myself.
The Prince of Nothing Wiki was helpful in providing spelling checks and putting the timeline of events in better order.
Unlike the first part, I didn't request any new information for this second installment, so any errors or confusion are on my part.
Scott Bakker wrote the Second Apocalypse novels, for which this history is merely the backdrop and the scene-setting that comes before. Those novels are:
The Prince of Nothing
The Darkness That Comes Before (2003)
The Warrior-Prophet (2004)
The Thousandfold Thought (2005)
The Aspect-Emperor
The Judging Eye (2008)
The White-Luck Warrior (2011)
The Great Ordeal (2016)
The Unholy Consult (2017)

This history also covers the events of the short story known as The False Sun, which can be read on Bakker's website here.


Yonis Yusuf said...

Another excellent piece of history. I am really looking forward to the apocalypse and its gritty little details.

sziuku k said...

Apocalypse itself is well described while it would be very interesting to read about years after it (2155-4109)

Anonymous said...

Honestly speaking, even though i've read the books out, I was oblivious to 95% of the history depicted here. Maybe I've forgotten it between the books or its been too hard for me to put together as a whole. I'd go as far as to say that; If I would have read this history, say, after vol 1 of Prince of nothing - my reading experience would have been a lot more pleasant for the following volumes. Background brings involvement. Thank you for these pieces.

Anonymous said...

Same here, thanks for the great recap!

Unknown said...

A bit of a misspelling here: it's "Ajencis", not "Anjecis" according to princeofnothing.wikia.com. Thank you for the most amazing work you did on history of Eärwa!

Robert C said...

Thanks for these histories. Really help my appreciation for these wonderful novels. One point, though... Wasn't the injunction to destroy the Nonmen a consult trick intended to set humans against their ancient, mortal enemy?