Dark Days in Sion
|History of Sion|
|1st Ice Age – 3,500 years ago|
The earliest recorded history on Sion occurred during a great Ice Age, referred to now in modern history as the 1st Ice Age. During this time, the northern regions were largely frozen over, blanketed in great glaciers. The northernmost continent of Ahura has always been the the harshest, coldest region on the planet.
Nevertheless, it was inhabited by roving tribes of primitive men called Ahuran. As great hunters, they preyed on mammoths as their primary resource for meat, bone and ivory. They took to burning their dead for practical reasons. It was too difficult to dig graves in the ice and frozen soil and simply abandoning the corpses to the elements could often create undead. Ancient Ahurans were largely superstitious of magic and worshiped gods of elements and beasts.
Warmer continents, such as Akhenaten fostered more advanced ancient civilizations. Ancient Akhenatens were largely tribal and nomadic. They were some of the first to create a written language, study the constellations and develop healing drugs. They were also deeply religious, believing in a single supreme god called Ishvar, referring to themselves as The Faithful of Ishvar. The great variety of landscape on their huge continent meant that several distinct cultures had a chance to thrive.
Akhenaten’s closest neighboring continent, Caishia was also home to a thriving ancient civilization. Ancient Caishian referred to the earliest origins as the Hara Period, and were some of the first to domesticate dogs and horses. With the invention of metalworking, writing, silk, and the abacus. Caishian merchants became some of the most widely traveled and prosperous traders in all of Sion. Their relationships with the Demihumans races was also well established early on, particularly with Gnomes who gave them secrets of alchemy including Explosive Powder.
West of Caishia lay the Islands of Katan. Primitive Katanese lived in wood stilt houses or pit dwellings and wore furs as weaving was still unknown at the time. They were capable of making rope and pottery. Having next to no contact with demihumans on their storm-tossed island, the ancient Katanese were independent and proud, fiercely territorial and self reliant, to the point of xenophobia.
With the advent of writing, weaving, metal working and rice farming, quality of life on the islands grew considerably better. The Katanese were the first people to work with Iron and steel, which made superior tools and weapons. Katanese refer to the time of their origins as the Ara Period.
South of those islands lay the large continent of Mgorongoro, home to the dark skinned Mgorongoron. They were the first to start capturing wild cattle holding them in circular thorn hedges to domesticate them. Much of their culture was dependent on animal husbandry. Great hunters, trackers, and warriors, wild Mgorongoron tribes remain today as some of the toughest, most adaptable people on Sion.
Meanwhile in the far west on the continent of Gallia. Ancient Gallian tribes grouped together for protection establishing settlements. They were the first to build defensive walls, and the first to build with stone, earning an early reputation as master builders. The need for efficient infrastructure and communication between Gallian settlements led to early use of coinage, a written language and sophisticated government.
To the south in the warmer southern oceans lay the island of Parcea. Ancient Parcean practiced both burial and cremation. The tribal chiefs were entombed together in a large stone building called a Megaron and the peoples ashes were cremated and collected together in large urns. They also invented wine.
The Parceans were the first to invent the compass which they used most commonly for art. They are credited for the finest pottery in Sion, inventing the potters wheel, and great kilns to achieve higher quality glazes.
|Start of the 1st Age – 3,000 Years Ago|
With the rise of human populations, Demihumans saw the need to trade and negotiate with human civilizations. Halflings in particular took on diplomatic roles faced with huge issues in logistics and language barriers. Various cultures all over Sion had just began to communicate and trade with each other. They couldn’t agree on anything, such as the value of goods, or even the time and day. One halfling in particular was famous for creating what is known as the common language and the Common Calendar of Sion. Both of which are used today by nearly every living soul. His calender began at year one, and ushered in what is called the 1st Age.
Kingdom of Khimera - Chival
Not every culture changed for the better during this era however. On the island of Chival, the Kingdom of Khimera was established by a devout demon worshipper named who made an evil pact with the demon god Herod to become king. Herod is the demon god of Magic, Pride and Treachery. Khimera was his first and greatest devotee on Sion. Khimeras kingdom was located in central Chival ruling the surrounding provinces of Mordhel, Ateria, Chatel, Vorkosigan and Aurig.
|End of the 1st Ice Age – 2,500 years ago|
Kingdom of Croesus - Ahura
As Ahura thawed at the end of the First Ice Age the population rose very rapidly. Tribes became clans and warfare became a pastime as common as hunting. After centuries of infighting, a clever barbarian warlord named Croesus established the Kingdom of Croesus in Ahura by taking a wife from every clan. He had many heirs, so he ensured a lasting peace by not promising his crown to his first born. His heir would be chosen by the people at the time of his death. His heirs were thus encouraged to busy themselves earning the trust and respect of the people in the meantime.
Due to this lasting peace, Ahurans began to explore the seas and trade. Their reputation as master sailors, craftsman and metalworkers soon spread far and wide. No written language of their own existed at the time, but because of their skill at sea travel some Ahurans facilitated long distance relations and trade between Dwarves and thus learned Dwarven.
Sammara - Akhenaten
Also at this time the region known as Sammara was established in a fertile river valley in the center of Akhenaten. Its people were the first to invent irrigation, dams and the use of aqueducts. As the result of the skill involved in farming in Sammara, farmers did not depend on slaves to complete the work for them.
Among the rivers and streams the Sammaran people built the first cities along with irrigation canals which were separated by vast stretches of open desert where the ancient nomadic tribes roamed. Communication among the isolated cities was difficult, and at times dangerous. Thus, each Sammaran city became a city-state, with its own king. At times a king would try and conquer and unify the region and as a result the early political history of Sammara is one of constant warfare.
First Emperor of Caishia - Caishia
Also at this time, the Caishian were the first to elect an emperor, who claimed by right of the Mandate of Zu that all lands were imperially owned, but would be dived to families according to the size of their household. The emperor gave larger land grants on foreign lands to career soldiers who volunteered to take part in campaigns to expand the empire. An associated military policy conscripted all men in the nation for a fixed period of duties each year in exchange for land rights. These policies stimulated rapid growth of productivity and boosted the army without much burden on the state.
The emperor also tried to extend Caishias influence beyond its borders with diplomacy by entreating foreign rulers send ambassadors to Caishia and present tribute. A large navy was built and a huge standing army was raised. They conquered much of Akhenaten and established colonies on the western shores where they began to practice slavery. They were defeated by the Katanese Samurai on the Islands of Katan however.
First Emperor of Katan – Islands of Katan
Until now these islands did not have a central government or ruler. Instead there were dozens of samurai warlords largely in conflict with each other. However, after the warlords repulsed the invading Caishian Emperor they united under their own emperor.
First Senate - Gallia
At this time, the social and political order of many of the Gallian city states were disturbed by oligarchs turned tyrant. They set up dictatorships, raised armies and attacked other city states to expand their influence. A rising distaste for tyrants and oligarchies led to ideas about democracy. It was suggested that rather than competing with each other, the city states should cooperate as equals, each represented by a senator.
The seat of this new senate was the city of Acropolis, placed in a neutral location at the center of Gallia. By the end of this period, the power of the oligarchs was reduced and those of elected senators increased. However, the influence of the oligarchs behind the scenes did not diminish.
|Start of the 2nd Age – 2,000 years ago|
Age of Pentos - Chival
At this time large towns with stone walls appear in five different areas of Chival. Estremadura was built in the Mordhel region, Hacilar was built in the Ateria region, Corcea Mors was built in the Chatel region. Drakhous was built in the Vorkosigan region, and Sauveterre was built in the Aurig region. The walls were built primarily to defend against foreign invaders such as the Morg.
Common Chivalans had been beholden to the kings of Khimera for a thousand years before their prayers for a savior were finally answered. Five saints appeared and worked to establish the Church of Pentos. Pentos is the patron deity of Civilization, Humanity and Judgement. These saints claimed the god Pentos appeared to them, independently but simultaneously with five commandments. Saint Vespasian was responsible for the Church of Pentos in the settlement of Hacilar.
Saint Vespasian was the first of the saints to take up arms against the Khimeran followers of Herod, known as the Cult of Herod. Not long after that, a Khimeran army surrounded the settlement of Hacilar and laid siege. The settlement was sacked in short order, and Saint Vespasian himself was captured and publicly executed as an example to the others.
The other saints called for the first holy crusade against the Cult of Herod and the great majority of Chivalans joined forces against them. The next few years were known as “The Great Cleansing”, as cultists of Herod were exterminated wherever they could be found.
This crusade accomplished more than the fall of the Cult of Herod and the Kingdom of Khimera. It also joined the Chivalan people together in a way that had never been done before. Shortly after they chose their first king, and the saints elected the first patriarch for the church, which has become the largest in western Sion and arguably the world.
Ishvaran Horde - Akhenaten
Meanwhile in Akehnaten a movement of fanatical religious zealots called The Ishvaran Horde formed from the ancient nomadic tribes that roamed the deserts. They gathered around a holy man, a prophet named Al-Malik who spoke for Ishvar. He led them against the Sammaran kings and infidels who dared to consider themselves equal to the Faithful of Ishvar.
|- 1,950 Years Ago|
Theocracy of Al-Malik – Akhenaten
After the sacking of Sammara and subsequent death of Al-Malik, a theocracy was formed in his name. Though lacking in individual rights, the Al-Maliki culture was rich in art, literature and music. Scornful of outsiders, the Theocracy of Al-Malik was never a powerhouse for trade though it was very rich in wealth and resources.
|– 1,500 years ago|
Start of the Xia Period - Caishia
After the defeat against the Samurai on the Islands of Katan, Caishia was devastated by the largest earthquake of all time. Many believed the earthquake was a sign the emperor had lost the Mandate of Zu and his dynasty was overthrown. This was the start of the Xia Period and the end of the 1st Dynasty.
The Caishian Empire quickly splintered, with hundreds of warlords in conflict with each other and a new group of warrior monks, the Kitesvara Monks, named after their living patron saint Kitesvara. Kitesvara lived a long life protecting villages from bandits, bloodthirsty warlords and greedy imperial tax collectors. He also wanted to abolish slavery.
Start of the Zoku Period - Islands of Katan
The start of this period saw the formation of strong military states, each concentrated around powerful clans. Traditional, political and economic practices were now organized through a rationally structured government apparatus that legally defined functions and precedents. Lands were surveyed and registered with the state. A powerful new aristocracy emerged. This aristocracy controlled the state supported by taxes and slave labor.
The government built great public works, including government offices, temples, roads and irrigation systems.
Having cut their teeth against the Caishian invaders, Katanese Samurai were all too eager to bring the fight to them and so they invaded Caishia. Their invasion was more successful than that of the Caishian, but their armies were also much smaller and they had no hope of spreading very far onto the continent of Caishia.
Age of the Great Republic – Gallia
By this time, Gallia was known as The Great Republic controlling the largest empire on Sion, with large territories inMgorongoro and Akhenaten. Their relationship with the Chivalan became uneasy because of increased competition for trade rights to those lands, and tensions also rose with the Caishian over land rights in those areas.
|– 1,450 years ago|
Kingdom of Nefer - Akhenaten
Al-Maliki warriors were able to hold back encroachment by outsiders into Sammara for centuries, but the promise of greater rights, freedom and opportunity among the Neferese led to an outpouring of refugees. This encouraged King Nefer to invade and occupy Sammara. The war for Sammara was long and bloody. It was the last territory King Nefer conquered in his lifetime, which remains a part of the Kingdom of Nefer to this day.
|– 1,375 years ago|
Noric Theocracy - Ahura
The Kingdom of Croesus ended after the high priest of the Church of Noric decreed that the peace did not please the god of war, and he wished to see champions of Noric step forward and take whatever they wanted. A period of anarchy followed which would only settle after Ahura was fractured into dozens of warring states and the Church of Noric began to manipulate the various warlords, each hoping to declare himself king. In the end though, it was the church of Noric itself that seized power creating a powerful theocracy.
The church of Noric also spawned several ambitious crusades sending warlords to rumordly rich places in faraway lands to battle and pillage for Norics glory.
|- 1.200 Years Ago|
Gallian Church of Pentos - Gallia
After its inception the spread of the Church of Pentos into Gallia was resisted their by their senate, but welcomed by its people. After a few centuries, the religion was wholly adopted by the Gallian but they elected their own patriarch, creating the Gallian Church of Pentos.
|Start of the 3rd Age – 1,000 years ago|
Tensions between the two sects of the Church of Pentos finally boiled over into war at the start of the 3rd Age with the Chivalan Patriarch of Pentos playing the part of aggressor calling forth a crusade against Gallia. Countless people died in every corner of territory held by followers of Pentos from each sect. The war lasted for 250 years, only ceasing when the common threat of the rising Angul Empire gave them a common enemy.
|– 750 years ago|
Angul Empire - Ahura
750 years ago, an exceptionally long-lived being named Angul appeared on Ahura. He appealed to the weaker Ahurans on the fringes of society and gave them the strength of brotherhood they desired. After a hundred years of spreading his seed, Angul spawned a new race who were also called Angul, for they named themselves after him. After a century of plotting his followers made their move and destroyed the Church of Noric. Angul declared himself emperor and defeated the local warlords.
Life for Ahurans trapped under Emperor Angul and his flesh-eating spawn was a living nightmare. Without the Church of Noric, Ahurans had no protection against the bloodthirsty cannibals who now called themselves their masters. Those who could, fled Ahura altogether across the seas, but tens of thousands of others who could not were killed and eaten over the course of centuries.
The Ahurans who did flee, found refuge where they could with allies and trading partners. Some warlords took time to regroup, hire mercenaries and return to do battle with the Anguls and try to free their homeland. None were successful. Others who thought they had escaped the Anguls fleeing Ahura in the first place would realize they were mistaken when the Anguls began to spread like a cancer across Sion, conquering and devouring everyone they could.
End of Zoku Period - Islands of Katan
Towards the end of the Zoku period, the Angul Empire began to spread across Sion and war was soon declared with the Islands of Katan. No further expansion was possible as the Katanese were put on the defensive from then on.
End of the Xia Period - Caishia
The Caishian civilization was further pressured by the invasion of the Angul Empire, which forced its people to unite once again under an emperor, but on a much reformed platform. Slavery was abolished and the Kitesvara Monks took up an official role as peacekeepers and protectors of the people while the warlords focused on waging battles against invaders.
|– 500 years ago|
Start of the Hon Period - Caishia
Start of the Kuza Period – Islands of Katan
|2nd Ice Age – 400 years ago|
The 2nd Ice Age came without warning in the form of an epic winter storm which blanketed Ahura. Millions of Ahuran and Angul died. Their capital city was buried by the blizzards, trees and buildings alike were blown over by fierce winds, and all the living things quickly froze to death. Ahurans elsewhere on Sion grieved a great deal, for none of them would have a hope of returning to their homeland in their lifetimes. And in fact, Ahura remains uninhabitable to this day.