November 27, 2011 § Leave a comment
I would not be lying if I told you I do not know much about the history of the Alronian Empire. For one thing, it’s not an empire. The nation most Etreans call Alronia doesn’t exist, as such. There are hundreds of city states within the borders of Alron, each ruled by different means. Nazreal, for instance, is governed by a council elected from her citizenry, determined by wealth. If you pay over 100 talents a year in taxes, you get to be on the council. The Nazreans keep the ancient custom of the broken shard alive, meaning that if you get too above your britches, they’ll break some pottery, write some names on it, and throw it all in a pot. If your name comes up, you are exiled. Even the most powerful Nazrean citizens can be so dealt with, which to some degree keeps them honest. To a greater degree it keeps assassins occupied to make sure no pots get broken.
However, none of these cities can truly be said to be masters of more than its own borders, and all pay tribute to Alron, the Ringed City, on the banks of the Enethyri Ocean. Alron rules half the continent by virtue of its ruthlessly efficient military, its vast wealth earned via trade and domination of the Enethryri (called the Alronian Lake in some quarters), and most importantly its ability to make cooperation with it more valuable than battling against it. If all the little kings, princes, potentates, pontiffs and diverse other self-styled rulers of various cities ranging from towns of a few thousand to hundreds of thousands of souls all rose up at once, Alronia might be able to hold onto its power. It would definitely be a near thing, however.Alron was founded so long ago that our sources disagree as to when, exactly. We know there were other nations before Alron. In her infamous White Mockery, Shizan Tir argued that the continent was settled by the original inhabitants of the Benarian island chain, driven from their homeland by volcanic eruption and inimical beasts. There is some evidence for a bronze wearing warrior people along the northern coast of Etrea, in the relics still found in domed tombs and the occasional lost settlement found in the Hentre mountains. Whoever these primordial Etreans were, they ranged the land, coming into conflict with the ancestors of people today known as the Naeth, the Aghat, even the Gobinar of the distant east. Those they could not conquer, they drove before them. The entire north and west of the continent was theirs, and traces of their presence can be found as far south as the modern bored with the Tarsans. Pottery with their strange pentagonal glazing patterns adorns graves to the far north and along the entire shore of the Benar and Enethryri Oceans. Many cities bear the track of their presence to this day in their names, from Husqyl in the furthest reaches of the Naethdar Marches to Nazreal itself, originally Nuzrahel.
Why these ancient people no longer dominate the land is unknown. The domed tombs, a few lost cities, the occasional shaft grave and the closely guarded secrets of the Hentre mountains are all that is left of them. In the epic poem Andakol we are told of how two brothers, Andak the Wolf and Broklar the Bear went to war with the kingdom of the Tall Sails to the south and west, and united the Etreilar for ten seasons of ceaseless battle. While the king of the Tail Sails is not named in the saga, his proud son Tarhal, his daughters Censka and Briezen, and extended families all feature in the tale, as do the various kings and princes of the Etreilar, including wise Enceydi the Hawk-Blessed, Shenamaol the Sister to Serpents, and diverse others. In the end, Andak dies after being lured to a rendezvous with Censka, and Broklar avenges his brother’s death by literally tearing down the walls of Tan-Dero, burying the entire court of the Tall Sails and himself in the process. Whether this war happened, or if the ancient people of Etrea were anything like the tales is beyond my purview. It seems likely that our distant ancestors and those of the peoples to our south and east waged war on one another, for do we not do likewise? The enmity is perhaps perpetual.
At any rate, Etrea proper struggled in undocumented chaos for many centuries. What I am next to relate is legend, told as fact in Alron, and viewed skeptically elsewhere. According to the city temples, fifteen centuries ago was born Alronius Mejur, a shepherd boy who tended his flock on the slopes of the Eboniral mountains that reach down to the shore of the Enerthyri forming the spine of the peninsula we today call Alron after the Ringed City. The boy Mejur may well have tended sheep his entire life and never been of particular note, had he not shirked his duties one day to explore an ancient domed tomb nestled in the sloping hills.
We do not know what he found there. The original tomb still exists, today buried beneath the Palace of the Mejurian Mystery, where the ruler of Alron lives and eschews a title, calling himself or herself merely the Mejuri. This family name serves to denote the power that does not claim to rule, and yet which no city within its reach would defy. How Alronius conquered the nearby cities and, without directly unifying them, forged an army for further conquest is also unknown to us. Alronius himself claimed that the goddess Galia, she who wore her father’s stained robe, appeared to him and granted him divine mandate to rule mankind as mankind had proved unable to rule itself. Shizan Tir claimed that the Mejuri line consorted with ancient demons and spirits. What is clear is that despite heavy opposition, no army that met Mejur’s in the field survived. No city he claimed successfully resisted him. Not a few that tried were destroyed utterly.
While Alronius himself never knew defeat, and neither did his daughter Zanre (who conquered Nazrael, then further north to the Danhaeli River, extended Alronian rule to the very center of the continent) it was the misfortune of his granddaughter Jalinia to be ruler of this patchwork nation when it collided with the Tarsans to the east.