The Shadowlands continued their political existence through the next five centuries as the world changed all about them. The Waertagi were driven from seas by the navies of the Jrusteli priest-magicians of the Middle Sea Empire. The Empire of the Wyrms Friends formed in Dragon Pass. Both of these organizations were co-existent with a philosophy of magico-religious scientism wherein bands of heroquesters consciously penetrated the Other Side to serve their own needs. In the Shadowlands these needs were filled sufficiently by the ways of Argan Argar whose Palace of Black Glass was ever open to those who dared to enter. In the Shadowlands, the ancient powers and heroes remained strong.
Both the Jrusteli and the Empire of the Wyrms Friends sought to maintain a loyal power base in Kethaela. It is, after all, the crossroads of the continent, and though every power lusted for it and occasionally made a military or magical bid for it, none wished to close or ruin it.
Thus the Shadowlands filled political, religious, and mythical needs, and remained intact.
The hubris of the great experimental empires wreaked great destruction on the peoples of Kethaela. Scholarly Riots erupted frequently in Nochet, as followers of the Knowing God were outraged by the use the Jrusteli made of their knowledge. In 849, the Goddess Switch in Slontos caused widespread famine in Esrolia. In 907, the Two Year Winter brought snow to Caladraland and even the Islands. Ten years later, the Windless Typhoon devastated Esrolia and Caladraland (although Heortland was undamaged). During the disintegration of the great experimental empires, the Shadowlands grew stronger as the Only Old One played upon their weaknesses and needs. The Only Old One turned to destroy those foes who lived nearest to him. These were the cities of Jadnor and Lylket, both of which fell to local forces, and the Clanking City, source of so many legends.
The Clanking City was built at the tip of the Left Arm Islands by the inheritors of Jrusteli knowledge and magic. There the residents put their minds and ideas together and discovered some wondrous properties. They built mechanical war machines and mass produced magical items of war. Around 907, they awakened Zistor the Machine God, a great mechanical being that could move about, think for itself, work magic, and even reproduce itself. All the ancient gods howled against this outrage and thus began the final downfall of the Jrusteli as all of their foes allied for this one purpose. Many peoples, human and otherwise, came to tear down the city, and for ten years the city successfully resisted all attacks. Its final destruction is the inspiration for epic literature.
In 940, the Closing reached Kethaela and shut it off from the seas, ending the Jrusteli threat. In 1035, the Hendriki seized parts of Esrolia. Through cleverness, marriage, and conquest they took control of the coastal cities of Rhigos and Storos, but Nochet kept its independence. In 1042, the Empire of the Wyrms Friends destroyed itself. The Only Old One supported the remaining peoples and gave particular aid to the liberated Beast Peoples. He extended his protection far into the lands to the north and west as well. In 1050, Lodril erupted in rage and fury out of the Vent. The focus of his devastation was directed towards Slontos and the God Learners, whose lands sunk beneath the seas, but eruption shook all of Kethaela. Human life was nearly extinguished in Caladraland except for a few pious families who took shelter in the Solung Plateau. A ten-foot-tall wave of earth passed through Esrolia, knocking down almost everything, followed by a smaller ripple. The resulting ash cloud blotted out the Sun for the rest of the year and the subsequent famines brought all of southern Genertela low. Many humans fled to the land of Kethaela when the Invincible Golden Horde approached from the north after 1100. They found homes, but were never able to achieve political independence, and disappeared from history, absorbed into existing tribes. In 1120, the Invincible Golden Horde tried to destroy the ancestral nest eggs of the original dragonewts and triggered the Dragonkill War. The Dragonkill was named for what the monsters did, not what they received. Countless True Dragons flew to Dragon Pass and exterminated all human life in that ancient land. A line of stone crosses were raised by the dragonewts, to mark off where humans were forbidden to pass.
Now it is worth looking at Slontos at the same time:
The Second Age began slowly through all the world, and little of great note occurred for many years. The Pralori lands grew more populous and there was great cooperation between them and the River Otters.
The River Otters were an ancient and shy race which had heretofore preferred the sanctuary of isolation. As a people they were known, and many individuals had been noted in the previous Age. But they were badly hurt by the Gbaji Wars, for the otters were among the first peoples betrayed by the evil god and slated for destruction.
The otters were friendly with the Pralori, and with them established a genial and informal network of communication in the fens and upon the rivers.
The newtlings at this time dominated the coastal regions, the Mournsea Bay, and the river mouths. They were more friendly with the coastal peoples. The newtlings had a scattered population which was loosely organized under an ancestral theocrat.
The coast regions past Pralorela were the first place to gain international interest. With newtling and Triolini aid they often attacked the coastal shipping which went past. This eventually angered the king of Seshnela whose tax revenues were being reduced. He sent a brother, an army, and a fleet to suppress the raiders. He did, and also established a naval base of his own. His name was Nelom, and he was the first of many people to bear the title of Prince of Slontos.
Slontos was the name of this land given by the Seshnegi. The Seshnegi were part of the greatly expanding Jrusteli, or God Learner, Empire. They had great resources at their command and exploited them mercilessly. The aristocratic warriors of Slontos quickly captured most of the best lands in the Slontos peninsula and islands, and began planting colonies along the rich rivers of the region.There was much conflict between the Slontans and the Pralori. The Elk People and the Otter Folk were no match for the Slontan wizards though. The barbarians were driven back from the rivers. They often were ruled by the valley dwellers as well, and some discovered that it was better to live in peace with these rich owners of plenty than it was to fight and raid them. Many Pralori joined the forces of the invaders, and their cultures joined and blended.
Slontos was eventually ruled by an Archduke whose powers were imperial in nature. His main occupation was to collect taxes, guard his shipping, and fight off the occasional raider who had not accepted the Jrusteli way of life.
The Archduke kept reasonably good relations with the Only Old One of the Shadowlands. This ancient demigod ruled a nation of trolls and others and made his land a dark and superstitious place, jealously guarding the divine wonders beyond their border. There were certainly wars, some even terrible, but no Jrusteli even managed to conquer the trolls who could simply run away, deep in impenetrable holes, where they would await their allies from Dragon Pass. These allies, members of the Empire of the Wyrms Friends, rode upon dream dragons and brought dragonewts and Beast Men. These creatures, once allies of the god Gbaji, were more than the Jrusteli dared to conquer, and so the Empire of the Wyrms Friends maintained an uneasy peace with the Jrusteli Empire. Their major difference was that one was sea-based, the other land-based, and so the worst confrontations of colliding cultures was avoided.
The Jrusteli did establish some colonies in the fringes of the Shdaowlands. Jadnor, Lylket, and Zistorwal were the best known.
The people who moved up the Noshain River were called the Thomali. Thomal was an old leader whose people ruled the regions south of the Noshain, and whose people carried their traditions northward into the valley and befriended some of the peoples. The northernmost region of their lands was called the North March where it bordered the Pralori lands, but the Pralori and natives called it Thomali.The rulers here were generally worshipers of the god Malkion, the presiding deity of the Jrusteli beliefs. They exploited the many resources they found, often using novel methods which they learned from some faraway land. In Thomali the rulers became experts at draining the marsh with dykes and canals, exposing huge expanses of rich land for farming. Thomali was a rich and expansive place in those days. The major drawback for the Pralori was that the Jrusteli of Thomali far preferred their old newtling allies over the otters, who were forced further and further upriver for refuge.
The fault of the Jrusteli Empire lay in its lack of respect for the world and for the elder powers. They defeated them in magical and physical battles, then thought they could bend and contain those primeval forces as desired. They tried to do so, but the ancient gods bent only so far before snapping back with a crushing blow wherever they were blocked.
The sea creatures were the most hurt by the Jrusteli a few centuries earlier, and they were among the most crushing in vengeance. They enlisted or tricked the aid of Zzabur, the god of sorcerers, who in turn cheated them of their desires for his own ends. Before the wizard’s curse struck them, though, the sea people had done their work.
The places which supplied most harm or insult to their foes were struck the worst. This included all the major naval centers in the west of Genertela. Among them were the Seshnela peninsula, Jrustela, and the Slontos peninsulas. In each case and unyielding force of demigods sailed ashore and caused immense energies to be freed which shook these lands, toppling cities and slaying many thousands. They produced great rituals which summoned hidden powers of the deep. Tidal waves paved the land, sea and windstorms pound the coasts, volcanoes erupted and showered the land with fire and ash, and finally the Earth Mother herself groaned and turned over. Sramak, the sea, cheered and rushed in to cover her. The land sank, waters rushed in, and another civilization was lost at the bottom of the Mournsea. The mouth of the Noshain River was moved another hundred kilometers inland.
The wizard Zzabur closed the oceans to all surface trade. This wreaked the Slontos economy long before they were ruined by war and magical catastrophe. The Archduchy was broken by internal dissent. Thomali, sensing the disaster brought on by their rulers, rebelled to establish themselves apart from the destruction to come. Instead of the gods delivering their works, the humans did it. The leaders were killed, their city ruined. Without central organization, the canal and dykes fell into disrepair, and the fertile expanses of exposed marshland was once again claimed by the spirits of the marsh.
The disaster which sunk Slontos devastated the peoples of Pralorela as well. Many refugees crowded the small towns and villages seeking aid. Other inland tribes, including the normally quiescent elves of Tarnin’s Forest, grabbed the opportunity to plunder their traditional enemies.
The end of the Second Age found Pralorela once again in the state in started in. A fear of the ocean was upon the people now too, for it had once been a couple of hundred kilometers away but was now upon their doorstep.
I suggest you keep an eye on that area was Kotor in the Second Age as it becomes the Solanthi and Ditali lands in the Third.
As an additional aside, remember that EVERY HUMAN that resided in Dragon Pass in 1120 is gone by the end that year. There are no human tribes in Dragon Pass that have an unbroken history to before the Dragonkill. There are a few temples that claim to have been active during that time (Shaker’s Temple, Puppeteer Troupe) and their claims are likely true, but it could also mean that their members were not human at that time.
So if you are living in Sartar in the Third Age, you are not likely the descendants of Ogarvaltes or Ulanin or whoever. Any more than modern Poles are the descendants of the Vandals.
So the Third Age settlers who moved into Dragon Pass from the south came from the melting-pot of Kethaela. Yes, and also why most Sartarites are familiar with the monomyth – because it is THEIR story. It also suggests that the Maniria Orlanthi are even more Monomythed Lightbringers. With some Hsunchen and Malkioni stuff woven into it. But very recognisable.
Are the River Otters large intelligent otters or Hsunchen? Large intelligent otters.
Miskos was abandoned after the Vent erupted. Even though most of the ash went westward towards Slontos, there was still a tsunami that hit Miskos hard. It was abandoned and Backford founded.