Races of Avendar, Chapter IV: Humans
An excerpt from the Races of Avendar, an in-game text found in the school of heroes, this chapter covers the humans.
humans: Section 1 humans are Avendar's most adaptable race, with a presence in almost all of the world's locales. humans trace their origin to a time following the fall of the ancient alatharya, with their first civilizations growing in the Dantaron river valley and the southeastern coast of the lower continent. The aelin provide the first written records of humanity, portraying them as savages 'on the border of beginning a civilized existence'. The aelin generally left humans to themselves, considering them a barbarous curiosity rather than true equals. humans had little of value, so trade was all but non-existent. However, the coming of Dolgrael gave humanity its first true direction, and gave the young race both a martial foothold and its first movements toward civilization. Iron weapons gave them a distinct advantage, and one that would prove necessary with the coming of the srryn and their Fire magic. This step transformed a race of itinerant raiders to potential warlords. The human embrace of the flame was all but inevitable. humans: Section 2 humans proved apt pupils for the magics of Fire, inspired as they were by the mad drive of Lilune, the moon goddess. With their aid, the srryn brought conflict to the ancient empires of the aelin. This war, which would be remembered as The War of Fire, went extremely well for the srryn and humans at first, with aelin cities toppling before the new and destructive magics of Fire. Given time, the aelin organized a staunch resistance, rallying their collection of alatharya artifacts to aid them. They called upon the blessings of their deific parents, Aeolis and Alia, to preserve them in their time of need. The pace of victory slowed, and while the humans and srryn still found some success, the rapacity of the srryn combatants led to increasing losses. This resistance bought precious time; soon, a rogue band of humans, dissatisfied with a life of bloody conquest, dared to ally themselves with the embattled aelin. The most famous aelin hero, Marlax, accepted the aid of these humans, who in turn helped he and the aelin defend their cities. humans: Section 3 The humans proved more useful to the aelin than just simple city defenders. The scholars of the aelin, with their many artifacts and prophesies from the end of the alatharyan age, discovered the presence of the slumbering god, Jolinn, in the far north. They sent the hardy humans, and some of their own, to seek the Titans of Castle Nathli. Marlax stayed behind, interested only in battle. This journey has since become legend, and is recorded in greater detail in other texts [See Tyalin's 'The Quest of Aramril', or the poem of the same name by the poet Quarentis], and the humans and their aelin cohorts awakened the slumbering god and discovered the magics of Water. It is said that Aramril's great hammer was infused with holy power, and he who sealed the pact with Aranthas, son of the Titan king, to rout the srryn. With these new allies, the aelin fought a series of cataclysmic battles, driving the srryn back to their swamps. The human leaders who had allied with the srryn were slain, either in battle, or executed by victorious forces. humans: Section 4 In return for their aid, the aelin cooperated with their human allies in creating a new human government. The heroes of The War of Fire were situated in key positions of power. Avendar's surface had been ravaged by the many devastating battles, laying waste to fertile lands and creating the permanent southern scar known as the Crimson Sands. The period following the War, however, was one of sustained prosperity. The humans established lasting trade with the aelin, who were in desperate need of the fertile natural resources of the lowlands. In return, the humans grew fond of the mineral wealth of the mountains upon which many great aelin cities had been built. Culturally, the humans were greatly influenced by the aelin's unique republican government. As well, the arrival of the caladaran brought to humanity the magics of Earth, as well as an introduction to the monastic tradition. These factors led to the rise of one of the greatest human empires: the Republic of Earendam. humans: Section 5 The Republic became a mainstay of Avendar's political landscape, offering protection and peace to numerous human settlements. Inevitably, these regions were incorporated into the Earendamian cultural empire. With this increased expansion, the aelin looked inward, more inclined to isolation than cooperation. To many, this marked the end of the golden age of the aelin. During the heyday of the Republic, the extent of territory was particularly vast, incorporating Lithling Valley, stretching to the Uthlin Ocean, across the Arien Plains to Qilarn, north into the Brintor Mountains, and south to encompass the trade outpost of Var Bandor. What the leaders of the Republic had no way of realizing, however, was that this expansion would imperil their way of life. Mining ever more deeply into the Brintors, humans eventually found their way to the underworld of the shuddeni. Eyeless and horrifying, the shuddeni initially sought diplomatic ties with the Republic by way of the Archmage, Kaagn. The decadence of the Republic proved easily susceptible to the temptations of the shuddeni and their magics of Void. humans: Section 6 When the shuddeni had sufficiently infiltrated human society, they brought their armies to the surface through a hereto-undiscovered passage up through the Brintors. They began their conquest backed by legions of their brutish chaja slaves, as well as the might of the Dragon's demonkind. The first winter of the War of Night marked the beginning of the shuddeni offensive. Terror gripped the human provinces of the Brintors, with many unprepared humans sacrificed to the shuddeni's dark god, Tzet-Askhari. With the closing of passes during the winter months, the shuddeni fortified their positions and sent for reinforcements. Elsewhere in Avendar, the Republic was faced with both internal dissent and the eagerness of the srryn, who rallied for battle. They harried human forces as they attempted to assemble and thwart the growing shuddeni menace. humans: Section 7 With spring came an escalation of conflict, as the forces of Earendam met the shuddeni army in a series of bloody battles. humans were unused to the dread power of Void, leading to many losses and retreats. This continued for the first two years of the war, with humans making only marginal gains, if any. Given time, the humans adapted to some of the shuddeni battle tactics. After the close of the second year of the War, the humans began to hold their own. With the coming of Aeolian warriors from across the Sea of Lidraeu, humans seemed prepared to entrench their defense for some time to come. Eager to prevent protraction, the shuddeni turned once more to their dark magics. Calling together their greatest archmagi, the shuddeni attempted the greatest summoning of demonkind ever to be attempted in recorded history. Their dark rite prepared, the gateway opened; but through it came the host that would turn the tide in favor of humanity. The ch'taren and their goddess, Rystaia Lightbringer arrived through the shuddeni nexus, dooming the shuddeni forces with the magics of Spirit. humans: Section 8 With the aid of the ch'taren and their powerful magics, the shuddeni were driven back beneath the surface of Avendar. Although relief was palpable throughout the world, the Republic's strength and unity were shattered. Its great army crippled, it was only a matter of time before rival leaders rose in other human settlements. A patchwork of independent city states replaced the once mighty empire as its grip disintegrated. The trade city of Var Bandor severed its ties; the city of Gaald proclaimed its heritage as the inheritor of the mantle of Caal; and the nation of Gogoth grew only more defiant in the wake of the shuddeni defeat. Despite this, the Republic continued as the reigning human institution of the region for the next two and a half centuries. The invasions of the kankoran rang the death knell for the Republic, led by their mighty war-god Khanval. The humans were both militarily and financially unequipped to fend off a full-scale invasion. humans: Section 9 Although the barbarian hordes were driven east, toward the Rirro Jagka, the invasion destroyed all faith in the Earendamian senate. With the rise of the office of the Patrician, Earendam became an independent city state. It severed its direct defensive ties with all but its closest province, Lithling Valley. In the modern era, human society has started to find a bit of consensus within itself. It remains politically divided, but has gained a certain strength to deal with Avendar's other races. Less isolated than the aelin, less violent than the kankoran, and less dangerous than the shuddeni, the humans have succeeded both as diplomats and rulers, preserving their place as Avendar's dominant race.