Some twelve centuries ago, the wealth and splendour of the Stone Prophecy Dynasty began, for reasons heretofore unknown, to ebb, and before long, the Stone Prophets began to abandon their lofty citadels and towering spires. To this day no one knows what became of them, although some say that one day they will return. It is important to note that most of those who say this are descended from heretical tribes of nomads who, having once adhered to the Stone Prophecy, fell into decadent worship of the Stone Prophets themselves. The vast cities of the Stone Prophets lie desolate, humbled by the ravages of time. It is said--and for this there is ample proof, if the Elves of Dunsenhaerl are to be counted honorable-- that much of what is now known as the jungles of Mohorim was once the Valley of the Prophets, where the Seventy Cities of Prophecy gleamed beneath the sun. The jungle has since laid those fabled cities low, and only vestiges of their glory can be found now and again by travelers and hunters.
Much of what was the culture of the Stone Prophets has since been lost or diluted to a point in which the convergence of contemporary beliefs and those of the Prophets is highly debatable. However, the system of trade by way of guarded caravan and maritime warfare remains with us to this day, as well as the custom of striking coins.
Legendary among the Stone Prophets was Jusen, who is said to have been half-elf, half dwarf, and rock carvings throughout the continent seem to support this fact, albeit it is hard to tell whether this was a later revision by elven artisans who had converted to the Stone Prophecy. From what can be gathered from elven sources as well as dwarven, the Stone Prophecy centered around the use of magic to work stone and find protection from all evils in the working of stone. It is known that the Prophets developed techniques for the smelting of stone, as well as advanced metallurgy, which the Elves of Goshen and Maka’arn later adopted and adapted to their own needs. Jusen’s philosophies are uncertain. However, as a culture, the Stone Prophets traded by sortie, spoke to others only through designated interpreters, and secured their cities so that no one entered or left without due authority. The recurring theme in the structure of their cities is that of constant readiness for war and a seclusion which, in light of their architectural and aesthetic abilities, can only be described as a magnificent desolation. Also to be noted is that in nearly every region both oral and written tradition affirms that those living in a conquered region who did not convert to the Prophecy (whatever exactly it was) lived in the outskirts of the cities or beyond, and were taxed heavily. It is also said that some were routinely carried away as sacrifices, but this is most likely a nursery tale to frighten children while masking the ugly truth of slaving raids.
Since the disappearance of the Stone Prophets, only six major kingdoms have taken hold: The Harkad Empire in the East, Renkar to the southeast, Cebria to the North, Dunsenhaerl in the jungles Mohorim, Ururarek in the South, home to the Giants, and the ancient vales of Goshen in the West. Harkad is inhabited by all but the Giants, who for the most part cling to the mountains of the Umharu peninsula. Its port cities, among which Qnrin and Terlin are chief, bring forth fearsome armies and fierce pirates. Renkar is largely a Dwarven kingdom, overseen by the Ruling Lords of the various clans. Its strongholds stand high upon the mountains, and its cities lie nestled deep within the breast of the Renkar Mountains. The Dwarves neither welcome nor shun visitors, although they have long resented the ‘theft’ of Dwarven metallurgy by the Elves and incidents of violence to Elves with poor manners have been known to occur in Renkar. Most of the Dwarves still follow the cult of Samas. Cebria is almost entirely a human kingdom, although Elves and some Dwarves travel through its lands regularly, and, in the past several decade Elves are Dwarves alike have taken up residence in the city of Cebria. The humans who practice religion are largely followers of Nisi. The cities of Dunsenhaerl are a wonder to see, from the tree-top fortresses to the palaces cut into the living wood of the most ancient trees. It is one of the oldest known Elven kingdoms, and has been the largest among them for centuries untold. Many of the Elves fled to Maka’arn during the Stone Prophecy dynasty, but those whose cities were deep enough within the jungle were left unmolested. The Elves of Dunsenhaerl are strong of build, tawny, and have mastered many secrets of smithing and woodworking. Up until the last thirty-five years, they have been engaged in one war or another almost constantly for the past four centuries. Not surprisingly, the predominant deity in Dunsenhaerl is Cha’ka, god of battle. They have many kings, all of which owe fealty to the High Lord, who ordinarily resides in Dunsenhaerl proper.
The Giants of Ururarek are so named for the mountain which towers high above all others. While in the past their dwellings were spread northward as far as the southern fringes of Mohorim, the wars against the Stone Prophets caused an inward exodus, and thus the Giants have remainedto the south, although lone males have been known to range northward and travel among the different kingdoms. Of all the kingdoms, Ururarek is perhaps the oldest in origin, the Giants having been gathering at the summit of the Sky Pillars of Mt. Horok, as they call it, since ages before the first Elves and Men set foot upon the shores of the continent. The Giants are followers of Nisi.
Goshen remains a mystery to most of the other kingdoms, safely tucked away beyond the Kirion Mountains. Of the major kingdoms, it is the only one to have never had cities fall to the Stone Prophets. Legend has it that the Goshite warriors proved too fierce for the Prophets, and so the Prophecy made its push eastward, leaving the children of the west to their quiet vales and keening fells. The inhabitants are mostly Elven, but there have been intermarriages involving Dwarves, humans, and Giants. Goshen’s villages are presided over by their elders, and the Council of Elders, in tandem with the Ruling Lords of the various clans, governs the region. The villages themselves act independently of one another, the council and Ruling Lords convening only on matters of war and trade. Goshite religion is divided between Nisi and Cha’ka, as well as some forms of Troll religion in the fells.
While this may seem to make for a clearly delineated set of kingdoms, what has been said thus far of the inhabitants of the continent is the exception, and not the rule. The bulk of the populace lives in farming communities and small duchies which constantly fight over land and what little wealth there is in the land. For the most part the established kingdoms have quite enough to do maintaining cohesion and keeping their subjects in line and thus have not waged war in some decades. There is, however, considerable strife among the different clans and along the borders of the respective kingdoms, as well as a good deal of maritime conflict among rival pirates and the naval forces of the coastline kingdoms.
This is, of course, only a very cursory description of matters throughout the continent. Things are much more complicated, as you will find in the pages of Darkfell. You won't find any specifics as to the backgrounds of the characters themselves, since I plan to reveal them through the story and so telling all here wouldn't make much sense.
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