Sunday, 26 June 2016

A History of Eärwa Part 4: The Modern Age

The Apocalypse destroyed the civilisation of the Ancient North. Two great cities, Atrithau and Sakarpus, had survived but otherwise all of the glories of the Norsirai had been lost and the surviving remnants of that once-great people pushed south into the Three Seas. Attempts to found new cities and settlements foundered under vast numbers of Sranc. Leaderless and without direction, they continued breeding, raiding and rampaging. With a truly vast amount of terrain to free range across, almost the entire northern half of the continent, their numbers could not be controlled and within a few centuries their numbers blanketed the earth. Fortunately, they showed no appetite for a concerted push into the Three Seas.

The borders of the Ceneian Empire after each major conquest: Gielgath (2349), Cepalor (by the 2390s), Shigek (2397), Xerash and Amoteu (2414), Nilnemesh (2483), Cingulat (2484), Amarah (2485), Cironj (2508), Nron (2511), Ainon (2518), Cengemis (2519) and Annand (2525). The latter conquests were carried out by Triamis I, the Great, the first Aspect-Emperor of the Three Seas (2456-2577).

The fall of the No-God at the battlefield of Mengedda spelt the end of the Consult's plan to destroy the world, but not the Consult themselves. They retreated - according to some, taking the No-God's Carapace with them - and sought refuge in Golgotterath. With initially thousands and later millions of Sranc infesting all the lands between the Three Seas and the Yimaleti Mountains, the victorious armies of Kyraneas and their sorcerous allies were unable to pursue. The ravages of the Indigo Plague of 2157 soon exhausted what was left of Ketyai strength, already pushed to breaking point by decades of warfare and accompanied by the death of Anaxophus V shortly after the end of the war, led to the collapse of Kyraneas.

Seswatha survived the Apocalypse, in fact living until 2168 when he died at the age of 79. Shortly after the end of the Apocalypse, with the School of Sehonc effectively destroyed, he founded the Gnostic School of Mandate, based in the fortress of Atyersus on the island of Nron. A year later he founded Attrempus on the mainland to the north-east. Fearing that his successors would forget the lessons of the Apocalypse, Seswatha underwent a sorcerous ritual upon his death. His heart was extracted from his body and placed in a chamber in Atyersus. Every Mandate schoolman, upon joining the organisation, would undergo a ritual known as the Grasping. This ritual would transfer Seswatha's memories to him. Every night he would dream the details of Seswatha's life, the great battles, the descent into Golgotterath, the preparations for the Apocalypse and the final battle with the No-God. In this way the knowledge and fear of the Consult would live on. The Mandate scoured the Three Seas searching for Consult agents, occasionally exposing and destroying them. But for the most part the Consult seemed willing to remain in hiding in far Golgotterath.

Although the Ancient North and the northern Three Seas had been ravaged by the No-God, the southern nations remained untouched by the war. Amoteu, Shigek and Nilnamesh soon proved resurgent and the refounded city-states of the Kyranae Plains fell into internecine warfare, beginning the Age of Warring Cities (lasting approximately from 2158 to 2477 Year-of-the-Tusk). This period may well have seen a relapse into barbarism had not humanity found a new saviour.

Inri Sejenus, known to history as the Latter Prophet, was born in 2159. At a young age he claimed to be the pure incarnation of the Absolute Spirit ("the very proportion of the God") and to have been sent to amend the teachings of the Tusk. He argued for a fairer world and a willingness to embrace God in His singular aspect as well as that of the Hundred. The extant Kiünnat sects at first dismissed Sejenus as a fringe philosopher, but as he got older he attracted vast followings. His teachings were widely disseminated and his popularity boomed. In 2198 Sejenus was arrested and sentenced to death by King Shikol of Xerash. In 2202 the execution was carried out and Sejenus was put to death outside the city of Shimeh, in what had been Amoteu (at that point a subservient nation to Xerash). However, Shikol himself then died and it was said by the faithful the Sejenus returned to life and ascended to the Nail of Heaven.

Sejenus's movement, Inrithism, slowly spread throughout the Three Seas. It was fought against by the Kiünnat cults, but soon become irresistible. A framework was set up that disseminated the teachings of Sejenus, The Tractate, through sub-temples worshipping the Hundred. This became the Thousand Temples, with a single leader, the Shriah, at its head. Although Shimeh was the holiest city in Inrithism for the martyrdom of Sejenus, the presence of the Tusk led to the religion basing itself in Sumna (to where the Tusk had been returned following the No-God's defeat), which capitulated in 2469. In 2505 the religion gained official recognition as the state religion of the Ceneian Empire, which by that point had become the pre-eminent power of Eärwa.

Cenei had been founded over a thousand years earlier, but had spent most of its existence as a modest river town on the Phayus, the greatest river of the Kyranae Plains. The destruction of Mehtsonc during the Apocalypse had been carried out with such thoroughness that the ruins were deemed uninhabitable, and over successive generations downriver Cenei instead absorbed a lot of the returning refugees. The city grew in size and power, and when the Age of Warring Cities began it was well-placed to fight both defensively and offensively. In 2349 it captured Gielgath, at the mouth of the Shaul, effectively giving it control over the intervening southern Kyranae Plains. Xercallas II completed the reconquest of Kyraneas and his successors conquered Cepalor in the north (inhabited by the descendants of Norsirai refugees) and then Shigek in the south by 2397.

The root of Ceneian success was the Imperial Army, which was thoroughly well-trained and formidably equipped. The organisation of the army, its ability to absorb recruits from newly-conquered provinces and its willingness to change tactics resulted in a military force arguably unmatched before or since in Eärwa. The Imperial Navy was likewise impressively-organised. Between 2397 and 2414 the two institutions would combine to outflank the Carathay Desert and deliver a series of raids and then conquests in Enathpaneah, Xerash and Amoteu, capturing the Holy City of Shimeh along the way. General Naxentas, who delivered this stunning victory, declared himself the first Emperor of Cenei. He would be assassinated within the year, but his successors built on his achievements.

Triamis I became Emperor in 2478, beginning the Ceneian Golden Age. In 2483 he conquered Nilnamesh, defeating King Sarnagiri V. The following year he invaded Cingulat, on the far north-western coast of the continent of Kutnarmu. Triamis turned west, leading his armies to the borders of Zeüm, the great Satyothi power of far western Eärwa which had succeeded ancient Angka. He defeated a mighty host at the Battle of Amarah and would have invaded but his homesick troops mutinied. He returned to Cenei and consolidated his gains.

Returning home, he found the empire caught in a religious conflict between the Kiünnat cults and Inrithism, which was threatening to spill over into outright war. Triamis spoke to leaders on both sides, but found that Ekyannus III, Shriah of the Thousand Temples, was both more reasonable and convincing as a religious leader. In 2502 Ekyannus instituted the "Emperor Cult" of the Thousand Temples and dubbed Triamis the Aspect-Emperor of the Three Seas. In 2505 Triamis himself converted to Inrithism, naming it the state religion of the Ceneian Empire. He then spent ten years putting down religious rebellions whilst also concluding the conquests of the island nations of Cironj (2508) and Nron (2511). Shortly afterwards he invaded the eastern Three Seas, conquering the successor-nations of the old Shiradi Empire: Ainon (2518), Cengemis (2519) and Annand (2525). For his achievements in conquering almost the entire Three Seas, Triamis was dubbed "The Great".

Eärwa circa 3000 Year-of-the-Tusk, at the height of the Ceneian Empire. Cenei was the Imperial Capital, with Sumna as its spiritual heart. The Empire dominated the continent for eight hundred years prior to its collapse in the 34th Century. It was the largest and most powerful nation-state in history, unrivalled until the rise of the New Empire of Anasûrimbor Kellhus a thousand years later.

The following Aspect-Emperors would maintain the borders of the empire, keeping the Ceneian Empire as the centre of political, military and religious power in Eärwa for eight centuries. The weakness of the Ceneian Empire was not in its military strength, but in its political succession, with brief but bloody civil wars often being the mechanism for a transference of power. The constant instability eventually resulted in the Empire growing lax and overconfident. In 3351 Cenei was sacked by the Scylvendi under Horiötha King-of-Tribes, triggering the collapse of the empire. The destruction of Cenei was brutal, with the city burned to the ground and all of its treasures, including the Heron Spear, lost or stolen. The great fortress of Batathent was destroyed shortly afterwards.

The final collapse is generally dated to 3372, when General Maurelta surrendered his legions to Sarothesser I. Sarothesser had led the south-eastern part of the empire in breaking away from Cenei. In this year he ascended the Assurkamp Throne in Carythusal as the King of High Ainon. Cengemis and Nilnamesh also broke away, spelling the end of the Ceneian Age. In 3374 Aöknyssus became the capital of a new nation, Conriya.

By 3411 the port city of Momemn at the mouth of the Phaysus, had supplanted lost Cenei as the pre-eminent city of the Kyranae Plains. Under the Trimus Dynasty Momemn became the capital of Nansur, first a small kingdom and then a mighty empire, proclaiming itself the heir to both Kyraneas and Cenei. By 3619 the Nansur Empire had conquered Shigek and Amoteu, but failed to expand those conquests into the eastern Three Seas, where the power of High Ainon was unassailable. Later in the century Nansur and High Ainon formed a brief military pact, perhaps planning to carve up the Three Seas between them, but ultimately this idea foundered and the pact dissolved. In 3643 Norsirai tribesmen living north-east of Nansur consolidated into the kingdom of Galeoth, followed in 3742 by the founding of Ce Tydonn, which supplanted and replaced Cengemis. In 3787 the Thunyeri, a robust warrior-people descended from the ancient Meöri Empire, were displaced by growing numbers of Sranc from the lands south of the Sea of Cerish, moving down the Wernma River and becoming raiders and pirates which would trouble the Three Seas for two centuries before they consolidated as the kingdom of Thunyerus in 3987.

The ambitions of Nansur to once again seize control of the Three Seas were thwarted by a series of events along the fringes of the Great Carathy Desert. Fane, an Inrithi priest living in Eumarna, was found guilty of heresy by the Thousand Temples in 3703 and cast into the Carathay Desert to die. Fane went blind in the desert, but also experienced a series of religious insights and revelations. He emerged from the southern sands wielding a power known as the Water of Indara, a form of sorcery both unknown and alien to the Schools of the Three Seas. The Kianene, the raiders and tribesfolk of the Great Salt, welcomed him amongst their ranks and listened to his teachings. Fan'oukarji I, Fane's son, took those teachings and translated them into a holy mission to destroy Inrithism, with the ultimate goal of casting down the Tusk (the "Cursed Thorn" in their tradition).

A Cishaurim sorcerer wielding the Water of Indara. Although still vulnerable to Chorae, Cishaurim are not damned as other sorcerers are and their powers cannot be detected by others of the Few. The reasons for this remain unknown to the sorcerous schools of the Three Seas. The Water of Indara is believed to be more powerful than most of the anagogic sorcery of the Three Seas, checked only by the Gnosis of the Mandate.

The Kianene swept out of the desert in the so-called White Jihad (3743-71). The Kianene armies were supported by followers of Fane who had also cast out their eyes and gained the powers of the Water. They became known as the Cishaurim. As proof of their righteousness, the Cishaurim showed that, unlike followers of the sorcerous schools like the Mandate and the Scarlet Spires, their mark was not cursed. They were not damned to an eternity of torment as other sorcerers were. Their presence could also not be felt by other sorcerers, but Chorae were still anathema to them.

By 3771 the Kianene had conquered Mongilea and large portions of Eumarna, founding a new capital at Nenciphon on the River Sweki, and converted the Girgashi people of the desert to Fanimry. Kian had emerged as a powerful new player on the shores of the Three Seas, although not one yet taken seriously by the Nansur Empire or the Thousand Temples. In 3798 the Shriah, Ekyannus XIV, ordered the extermination of the sorcerous schoolmen, declaring them to be unclear abominations. The Scholastic Wars raged for the next eighteen years and saw several lesser schools destroyed. However, it also provided the impetus for the Scarlet Spires to seize control of High Ainon, bringing the might of one of the great powers of the Three Seas under their control. The Mandate survived, although it curtailed its mainland activities, and the Mysunsai "mercenary" school came into existence. By 3818 the pogrom had been called off, but many sorcerers throughout the northern Three Seas had lost their lives.

This, of course, reduced the ability of the Thousand Temples and the Nansur Empire to resist the onslaught of the Kian and their Cishaurim. The rest of Eumarna fell in 3801, followed by Enathpaneah in 3842 and Xerash and Amoteu by 3845. The Sack of Shimeh outraged both the Thousand Temples and all followers of Inrthism as a whole, but there was no appetite for a counter-assault. The Kianene maintained the initiative. In 3933 the Dagger Jihad of Fan'oukarji III saw both Shigek and Gedea fall to the Kianene, bringing the borders of Kian to the very doorstep of Nansur. In the resulting turmoil, the Surmante Dynasty was destroyed and replaced by the Ikurei family. The Ikurei then reorganised the Nansur army and were able to defeat no less than three Kianene invasions of the empire over the next several decades.

Eärwa circa 4100 Year-of-the-Tusk, on the eve of the Holy War.

Meanwhile, the Mandate were facing mixed fortunes. Early in the 3900s they lost track of the last Consult agents in the Three Seas. For three centuries they scoured the lands for any sign of the enemy, only to find that they had completely disappeared. This disconcerting event was accompanied by a more positive one: House Nersei of Conriya forged a strong alliance with the Mandate, accepting their schoolmen as tutors and advisors. The Nersei dynasty used this advice to shore up their political support and eventually take the throne of the kingdom. The Mandate also gifted their secondary fortress of Attrempus to the Nersei family, giving them a strong bulwark to use against possible attack.

Towards the end of the 41st Century the Three Seas were posed on a knife's edge. Nansur had checked the advance of the Kianene Empire, but was unable to mount an effective counter-offensive. The nations of the eastern Three Seas schemed as usual and the sorcerous schools intrigued. The Mandate kept a watchful eye for the Consult, but could find no trace of them anywhere.

The beginnings of the road that led to the Holy War and the new Great Ordeal were modest. In 4079 the Scylvendi leader of the Utemot tribe, Skiötha urs Hannut, died. He was succeeded by his son, Cnaiür urs Skiötha, a warrior of tremendous repute for savagery and intelligence. Cnaiür was advised by a strange man from the Ancient North, from the lands beyond Atrithau which were believed to be completely lost to Sranc. This man convinced Cnaiür to kill his father, having seduced his mother. Afterwards he vanished into the southern deserts, to Cnaiür's fury and declarations of vengeance.

This man was named Anasûrimbor Moënghus.


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 third 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)


--- said...

Hey Wert, these look as great as your similar History articles for other series. I was wondering if they're rife with spoilers, before I dive in? I've read Prince of Nothing but no Aspect-Emperor books yet. I know this is all lore and background, but I remember being surprised in The Warrior-Prophet by a certain revelation about the Consult's background, so I was wondering what you'd consider these. Cheers, and as always, keep up your excellent work!

Madness said...

Great work, Wert.

SpaceSquid said...

Loved this series. Nice way to whet the appetite for TGO.

Anonymous said...

This is great work!

But you might want to look over your HTML tags... fonts change back and forth a bit during the article.