Historical Synopsis

The First Empire

During the First or Great Empire, the Free Isles were a minor province ruled by one of the younger sons of the Emperor. They were valued for the natural resources, both mineral and animal as the seas were full of fish and the mountains packed with gems. Most of the large towns in the Free Isles can trace their founding back to this time although very little remains of the buildings constructed some 2000 years ago. An exception to this is the city of Dal Skyr. Many of the dwarven caverns in the 'City Below' were hewn during this period as dwarves were drafted in to work the mines. As the trees were cleared from the hillsides for pit props and to feed the furnaces the local elves were forced back into smaller and smaller regions. This was one of the causes of the Great War in 1400 BSE.

The Great War

Several important battles during the great war were fought on Free Isle soil and in the waters around them. The human war galleys were attacked by the sky-ships of the ancients, led by Lord Moreldrak, who rained down bolts of fire. However the human armies were joined by the dwarves, including the fabled King Orry who with their strength and resistance to magic drove the elves and their allies back and destroyed the sky-ships with large siege engines. Not all of the ancients fought on the side of darkness, some gave their aid to the humans and those elves that had not sided with Moreldrak.

The city of Safeharbour was burnt to the ground by a crashing sky-ship and for many years nobody could live there for the fearful magical emanations that seeped from the wreckage. Like in the rest of the Western Realms the Ancients vanished completely aside from a few rumours of sightings in the Whitecaps. The elves too were reduced in number and were hounded to the hearts of the two large forests on the islands Grimdell and Deepdale.

The Fall Of The First Empire

The fall of the Empire hit the Free Islands hard. The Imperial Guards were called back to the mainland allowing monsters from the mountains and the forests to ravage the towns and cities. Many humans left the islands never to return and this allowed elves to rebuild thier forest cities and their populations after generations of persecutions. They aided those humans who remained which healed many of the rifts that had festered since the Great War. They also hid many of the magical texts held in the libraries of the cities which would have been used to light fires by the marauding hordes of hobgoblins and orcs.

The Rise Of The Second Empire

It took a long time before civilisation returned to the Islands. The cities remained independent of each other. Dal Skyr above ground was occupied by ogres of the Night Crawlers tribe led by Whorff the Tall (also known as Whorff the Fat and Whorff Dog Breath by his enemies). This huge ogre stood nearly eleven feet tall according to legends which must have made moving around the dwarven city most uncomfortable. The dwarves meantime barricaded themselves within the City Below, coming out occasionally to raid the ogre occupiers. The town of Avondale was occupied by orcs of the Hell Hound tribe. Their leader Kurun One-Eye was also known as Kurun the Cruel by the humans he enslaved and as Nu'mai by the elves which in their tongue means hope-slayer. He led hunting parties into the forests killing elves and burning large tracks of the woodlands. This may have been the source of the ghosts and other undead which are said to roam the forest of Grimdel to this day.

By 500 SE the Free Isles were a single nation again, though the dwarven City State retained an independence under its king. The towns and cities were rebuilt, often with the help of the giants who felt guilt for not helping protect the humans, and demi-humans from the marauding monsters. The Giant's Bridge in Avondale was one of the structures built during this time by the giant lords who dwelt in their great fortress of Festing Helligfjell. The self styled King Jaraddin, set up his court in the ruins of Avondale and sent explorers and adventurers out into the wilds in search of artefacts of the ancients.

Invasion!

In 720 SE King Karaz invaded the Free Isles in order to bring them into the Empire. The First at the time had refused the invitations from King Karaz. He wanted to remain independent, he had read the histories kept by the elves and he did not want the islands to become just a source of raw materials for the ever expanding empire. He could see that Karaz had a cruel streak and would never have given anything to the islanders in return for stripping their land. The fight was one sided. Despite the best efforts of the soldiers and sailors of the Free Islands the superior numbers of the Empire told. The battle went on longer then most of Karaz's generals thought possible. Some say that one of the Ancients still lived in the mountains and aided the Free Islands by summoning storms and beasts from the depths of the oceans to sink the enemy ships but few believe this to be true.

Occupation

From 721 SE to 979 SE the islands were ruled from from the mainland. First from Miraz then from Karazburgh after the Sundering. Davin Ironheart, one of Karaz's favourite generals was appointed governor and he chose Avondale as his seat. He was cruel and oppressed the local population terribly until he was murdered in 725. This just brought more pain and suffering to the people of the Free Isles as those that followed Davin.

The Sundering

In 764 King Karaz died in the temple of Koryis in Avondale. For some time he had been interested in rumours of a lost city of the Ancients in the Whitecap mountains near the city of Dal Skyr. He had been following a trail alone in the mountains when his horse shied and threw him into a mountain stream. He broke a leg and had to crawl all the way back to Avondale. The clerics of Koryis did what they could but he was too weakened by his exertions and he died.

At first the people of the Free Isles were glad when after Karaz's death they were ruled from Karazburgh rather than from Miraz. They were disappointed however. The Conclave appointed a cleric of Vanya to the islands as Overseer and Faithseeker. He was cruel and hated elves often going on hunts with hounds through the forests. Fortunately he was also a glutton and so the horses he chose to ride could not move very fast and few elves were caught.

War Of Independence

After two hundred years of oppression, the Free Isles were ripe for rebellion. Nobody is sure where or when the First was born or what his real name is, but he appears to be about fifty and sometimes his voice contains hints of north coast accent. He was conscripted, like all able bodied men and women, into the Bormarian legions and served for a time in the Desert Of Dreams where the nomadic tribes had been rebelling against their Bormarian overlords. The seeds of the rebellion may have been sown in a chance meeting with the leader of the rebellion, Juleidah, a beautiful, charismatic tribeswoman who would later become the First's wife.

The legionaries killed their Bormarian officers and with the aid of the desert tribesmen faught thier way to the coast. Many were killed on the journey but eventually they made their way to the port of Zarakhan. Here they boarded a slave ship and set sail for the Free Isles. Under cover of darkness they passed the breakwaters at Safeharbour and were ashore before the garrison could respond. The local people, the freed slaves and the First's men despite being outnumbered took the city and sunk any Bormarian ships that tried to flee. The morning after the battle the First stood on the quay and proclaimed the Free Isles independence. There were many more battles to face before the islands were truly free.

The First married Juleidah and this joining was a symbol that different lands and peoples could indeed live in peace. Bormaris and Doralin eventually accepted the Free Isles as a separate nation and normal trade and diplomatic relations were established.

The Present

The First has now ruled for thirty five years and has become more reclusive. He and his wife never had children, though rumours surface from time to time of children of the First existing, born on 'the wrong side of the sheet'. There are other rumours that the First is ill and will name a successor soon. Some feel it may be the mage Kesryk or his old friend Dalyor both now resident in the town of Avondale. Other factions favour one or other of the diplomats in Safeharbour, Brovis being the name that comes up most often.

With his large, double chinned face above a portly body Brovis holds the purse strings of the Free Isles in his pudgy hands. He has made no secret of his desire to take over from the First when the time comes. Many of the merchant class would favour this move as it is an open secret that they have been offered lower taxes in return for their support.

More acceptable to the military is Huer, a young sailor, who has risen rapidly through the ranks. His long blond hair and blue eyes mark him as a outlander but his ready smile and quick wits have won him many friends. He is violently pro-human and favours removing the special privileges that the dwarves in Dal Skyr enjoy in relation to taxation of their mines and industry.
Sensing the instability raids from bandits, both human and monstrous, have started to plague the main trade roots, especially those around the town of Avondale and the city of Dal Skyr.

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