A Brief History of the Ancient World
The Beginning and The Elven Epoch
According to the legends of the Dragon Priests, the world was originally a vast ocean, empty and devoid of land or life. The dragon twins, Bahamut and Tiamat, fought a great battle above the seas. Wherever the drops of their blood fell into the water, land appeared, and life followed soon after. Exhausted from their battles, Bahamut and Tiamat fell to hidden places, where they sleep and rest. When they awaken, their battle will destroy this world and usher in a new one. Their children, the Ten Dragon Gods, guide the chosen dragonborn people, the Zamarrid, through this life and prepare them for the final battle.
Although the Dragon Priests claim to know how the world began and how it will end, Zamarrid scholars, as well as Tiefling, Human, and even Elven scholars, cannot verify that claim. Of the races occupying the world – called al-Azraq by the Zamarrid – the Elves were certainly the earliest to sail from their home islands and explore the boundless sea. They built anchorages of stone marked by tall, slender lighthouses whose gems shone brighter than the largest bonfire. They charted the entire sea and discovered many of the other races, still in their civilizational infancies. Finally, convinced that they had fully explored their world, the most powerful mages of Elven society created a portal to another world, and most of the Elven race traveled through it, hungry for more exploration. Those who remained were either those who longed for solitude in order to perfect their knowledge of the arcane, or they were those who truly loved the seas and found the greatest joy in sailing.
Today, the descendants of those Elves remain, doing much the same things that their ancestors did. The reclusive High Elves live in remote refuges, studying and meditating, and they often surround themselves with wards and illusions to keep unwanted visitors away. That said, the thirst for adventure sometimes takes hold in a High Elf, who sets out to recreate the journeys of the morning of the world. The Sea Elves are traders, smugglers, and pirates, and their swift, slender ships can be seen in any waters where action can be found. Recognizing their small numbers, they have negotiated for autonomous enclaves of their kind within the major ports of the other civilizations.
No one besides the Dwarven Lorekeepers know the origins or age of their race, and there are few records of them in the annals of the other races – probably a combination of the remoteness of the Dwarven home waters and the race’s love of seclusion. The earliest mention of Dwarves is in the histories of the Xarir, when one of their generals accepted a gift of fine weapons as tribute to leave a cold coastline in peace. From that point on, the Dwarves received regular envoys from the Xarir and their successors seeking to trade food, luxuries, and slaves for weapons, armor, and other metalwork.
By all accounts, the Dwarven holds stretch far beneath their islands, perhaps even joining one another deep beneath the sea floor. The rare visitors who return from visits to these Underhalls relate fanciful tales of creatures of living rock and fire, vast mines, and enormous foundries. Most encounters with Dwarves, however, are with the fearsome Kraikadair, who seek slaves for Underhall, whether by trade, raid, or piracy.
The Infernal Empire of the Xarir Tieflings
The Xarir Tieflings developed on a series of small, rocky spits of land far from the lush archipelagos of the Elves, Dragonborn, and Humans. As a result, they developed a calculating and pragmatic view of the world. With the assistance of devils, the Xarir conquered and enslaved all of the other races save the Elves and Dwarves. The oral histories of the Halflings and Gnomes both indicate that the Xarir removed every one of them from their home islands and spread them to colonies throughout the Tiefling empire. To this day neither Halflings or Gnomes have a place to call their own. However, after 1500 years of complete domination over the seas, the Xarir were victims of calamity. Their capital island was shattered; its center – including the royal palace and the administrative centers – collapsed to the bottom of the sea, while the rest of it split into several pieces and drifted apart from one another. At the same time, generals, captains, and navigators throughout the empire vanished – along with their infernal advisors. Zamarrid scholars have concluded that the empire failed to fulfil whatever bargain its founders had made with the infernal powers, and its collapse was a reckoning of the debt owed.
Beginnings of the Zamarrid Dragonborn Hegemony
From the ashes of the calamity, the Zamarrid, who had been the sailors and shock troops of the Xarir, swiftly consolidated their hold on the Zamarrid archipelago – from which their empire took its name – and founded a caste-based society of Dragonborn, for dragonborn. Although other races were welcome within Zamarrid territory and ports, they had few rights – and those rights were always secondary to the rights of the Dragonborn. A century after the founding of the Zamarrid polity, they became embroiled in a turf war with the remnants of the Xarir; this war transformed the Zamarrid from a static, stable state into an expansionist powerhouse whose hegemony would eventually rival that of their predecessors.