The Nine

The nine great ancient civilizations all claim an eponymous ancestor as founder.  An ancient tradition claims that all nine were siblings, the children of the last King of the Elder Folk.  The question of whether these figures are historical or legend, and if historical, whether they were actually related, has been the subject of much debate among scholars worldwide.  Arguing against the historicity of the legend is the unlikely distribution of the siblings and the even greater unlikelihood of each of them being successful in founding a realm.  Arguing in favor of the legend is the existence of certain unifying cultural traits spread across the world and the use of the Elder Tongue as a ritual tongue in most of the Lands Under the Sun. A third view maintains that all the ancient realms owed something to the legacy of the Elder Folk but that no one individual (or family) can be credited with the development of civilization in the Sunrise and Sunset Lands.

The Nine (with reconstructed Elder Tongue etymologies):

  • Azeffa (Azh-Efath/Father of Truth?)
  • Carmadh (Kag-ar-Wal-a/Stone Against Blood)
  • Erun (Er-Ungu/In the forest)
  • Falan (Fah-al-nurra/Smoke against the north?)
  • Illax (Illa-gan-se’a/Mother of the garden of lightning?)
  • Illuva (Illa-um-Va-a/Mother from Va)
  • Kindar (Kinad-aru/Tree balm)
  • Sunnadir (Sunnu-alir/South-water)
  • Vardanit (Wal-or-danitu/Blood on teeth)

The Mith’lani Records – Prologue

“I’m sorry, Thalvic, but if your demeanor was as bitter as this swill in front of me, I’d throw myself from the highest peak of the Mithulan Mountains within an hour of your company.”

Thalvic bellowed with laughter from deep within his rotund belly for what seemed like an eternity. Aelfwine Theodwita withdrew a handkerchief from a pocket in his sleeve and began to remove the spittle that had flown from Thalvic’s gaping maw onto the historian’s plain brown cloak. Both men wore similar weatherproof cloaks of heavy flax, lacquered to keep out the snow and hail, though the traditional Mith’lani feather, hide, and bone fetishes that adorned Thalvic’s cloak were notably absent from Aelfwine’s. Even with an ocean and half a continent between him and Greatvale, the historian retained a distaste for all things ostentatious shared by many in the Folkdeed.

Thalvic wiped his mouth with the back of his hand, obviously fighting back a few remaining laughs.

“So you dislike svanka?” Thalvic asked. “This is the lifeblood of the Mith’lani! You wish to know what it is to be a child of Mother Mithulan? Then drink deep the milk from her teats my brother!”

With a slap on the back that nearly knocked Aelfwine to the floor, Thalvic refilled the historian’s iron tankard. The scent of the svanka, a liquor made from fermented lichen and flax, sent Aelfwine’s head spinning. It was his belief that to learn of a people’s history, one must understand the people as they exist today. Learning of the Mith’lani was proving to be as much a physical challenge as it was an academic one…

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Kingdom of Greatvale

The lands of the Greatvale
The lands of the Greatvale

The Kingdom of Greatvale was one of the Nine Ancient Realms that dominated the Greatvale region for over five thousand years until it was reorganized into the Greatvale Folkdeed.

Around 5450 PC, Wulfred of Dunburgh led a party of colonists from the Hidden Lands toward the Sunset Lands. After their expedition was blown off course in bad weather, and after surviving a shipwreck that nearly claimed the life of Wulfred, they arrived in Greatvale near what is now known as the Beacon in Fralin’s Deep.

Wulfred led the survivors of the expedition up the estuary they named the Great Tidewater to a site suitable for encampment.  It is said that upon seeing the site for the first time, Wulfred exclaimed, “Ah, here at last is a home for our people.” Thus was the place named “Folkhame.” Accounts vary as to when the term Greatvale was first used, as it is not entirely clear when the scope of the valley was realized.

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The Patronage

The Patronage is located in the northeast portion of the Sunrise Lands, located at the confluence of the Fithalir and Adder Rivers. It is bounded on the north by the Barkeater Mountains, to the east by the Long River, to the west by the Saltmarshes, and to the south by the Fortress Mountains.

Map of the patronage and surrounding realms
The lands of the Patronage and surrounding realms

In the Third Century PC, in response to the continued commercial and economic growth of the Kingdom of Greatvale, Carmadh attempted to establish a number of colonies in a bid to become a continent spanning empire. King Azh-Azuza granted colonization rights to a number of companies that would agree to establish colonies of a certain size. A number of Carmadhi companies committed to founding colonies along the shores of the Fithalir River on the east coast of the sunrise lands.

In 247 PC, the first Carmadhi company, the Fithalir River Trading Company, established a colony at the mouth of the Fithalir on the Island of Many Hills. By the royal charter granted to each company, the head of the company, or Patroon, was granted lordship rights over a tract of land not to exceed ten leagues long (or five leagues long if on both sides of the river) and five leagues inland.  The families that agreed to settle on this patronage land, were in effect indentured servants for a period of fifteen years, during which all income generated went to the Patroon who forwarded a percentage on to the king in Carmadh.

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The Elder Folk

The Elder Folk were one of the primordial civilizations of the Hidden Lands. It is unclear whether the Elder Folk were once civilization or many.  The existence and near ubiquity of the Elder Tongue suggests that the Elder Folk who colonized the Sunrise and Sunset Lands were of one cultural stock.  However, the existence of some cultures and languages whose linguistic heritage is markedly different (e.g., Greatvale, Kastan’ose, Norrist) argues for a much more diverse ancestral group than is commonly supposed.

The Elder Folk civilization first appeared around 7000 PC and developed what they referred to as “the sciences”—written language, mathematics, architecture, bronze working, and agriculture; in short, all the technologies of civilization.  Although the Edler Folk invented writing, they left behind no written records of their history and much of what is known (or believed) about them is the stuff of legend.

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The Kastan’ose Civilizations

A Brief History of the Djunna, the Last Surviving Civilization of the Kastan’ose Valley

Compiled by Aelfwine Theodwita, Senior Historian of the Gaderung of Education, 1213 AC

The Kastan’ose Valley Civilizations represented a unique amalgamation of cultures in their golden era, from roughly 600 PC to 806 AC. Born from the gathering of several distinct nomadic tribes drawn to the Kastan’ose River and the rich vegetation of the surrounding Kastan’ose Valley, these civilizations were born not from the blood of conflict but rather from fires fueled by mercantile and aesthetic competition. For more than a millennium the Kastan’ose Valley contained some of the most materially affluent and culturally rich societies within memory; of more significance, however, they created what may be the most advanced cultural community to have ever claimed the Sunset Lands as home. While the Kastan’ose knew something of the vastness of the world (Lu’Amina as they called it) they held to the concept that to know one’s land was all that was needed to live a fulfilled live. Know the Kastan’ose Valley they did, for even at the height of their population, the densely packed Civilizations knew never to exploit their land beyond its limits to recover. Left undisturbed, the Kastan’ose Valley Civilizations would likely inhabit their homeland today. Instead, their end came from sword and swine…

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The mountainous territory of Vardanit occupies the stretch of land connecting the northwestern peninsula of the Sunrise Lands to the rest of the continent, cutting off the outcropping to the west of the mountain range which provides the shortest journey across the Middling Sea.  However, most who can afford to choose to embark from the bay to the south instead, given the harsh nature of the Vardan climate and terrain.  Only one road is maintained through the Vardanit, and travelers from outside are generally advised to keep within its borders for their own safety.

Vardanit and neighboring Carmadh
Vardanit and neighboring Carmadh

The most easily ascertained features of Vardan culture include the production of beautifully worked silver and velvet products and a rich collective repository of epics, poetry, and songs.  Vardan food centers on goat or lamb stew, usually roasted and served over rice or large square-shaped flatbread with boiled eggs.  Almost all Vardan men perpetually chew the leaves of the garn plant, which seem to work as a mild intoxicant.  Vardans have a reputation among those who visit them for long-windedness and involved, perhaps even misleading, speech, but this impression can be attributed somewhat to the Vardan diglossia.  As a mark of respect and honor, Vardans will usually only address outside visitors in the higher register of their language, reserved otherwise for educational and religious arenas and more closely related to Thuva-Tha, the elder tongue.  Thus, knowledge of the everyday, lower register of the Vardan language is limited to the Vardan themselves and those few determined traders who have spent decades trekking through the mountain passes of Vardanit.

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The Folkdeed of Greatvale

The Greatvale Folkdeed is the only republic in all of the Sunrise Lands. Occupying the lands surrounding the breakwater of the Great Tidewater, the Folkdeed is an anomaly in the cultures of the continent.


Seal of the Folkdeed of Greatvale: “The Ealdormoot and Folk of Greatvale: Justice, Truth, Equality”

The Folkdeed is governed by an Ealdormoot, consisting of Ealdormen and Ealdorwomen elected by the people of Greatvale to serve for a term of four years. The Ealdormoot is assisted in its work by a series of lower houses known as the Gaderungs responsible largely for defining the regulations and the parameters of the laws promulgated by the Ealdormoot. Each region of the Folkdeed has its own Gaderung, which elects an Ealdorman or Ealdorwoman to serve in the Ealdormoot. There are also a number of Gaderungs-at-Large, responsible for the oversight and administration of particular areas, such as food, resources, medicine, and education. Each Gaderung-at-Large elects its own Ealdorman or Ealdorwoman to the Ealdormoot. Every two years, the Ealdormoot elects two Rædgivers who serve essentially as head of state and head of government, though the divisions are not clear and are fluid, depending on the working relationship of the two Rædgivers. In addition, the two often function effectively as War Chief and Peace Chief, one responsible for foreign and military affairs, the other for domestic and economic affairs. In times of crisis, the Ealdormoot may choose to elect essentially two war chiefs or two peace chiefs, depending on whether the crisis is foreign or domestic. Together, the Rædgivers may exercise a veto over legislation passed by the Ealdormoot. If one Rædgiver vetoes a bill, the Ealdormoot may override the veto by a two-thirds majority. If both Rædgivers veto the bill, the Ealdormoot may override the veto by a three-fourths majority.

In addition, the Gaderungs, in conclave together, elect the Witeger, which loosely translates as “prophet.” The role of the Witeger is to serve as ombudsman and critic of the government. The Witeger serves for a period of nine years and can only be removed from office by evidence of corruption or other serious crimes. The Witeger has no formal veto power but their opinion carries significant weight with the people and may inform subsequent elections. The position is considered sacrosanct by the traditions of the Folkdeed and Rædgivers who ignore that fact do so at their peril. (See, the story of Eadlin Lahwita.)

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