The Eldir'thiirn are one of the groups of native peoples that once resided in Gilneas. Now all but vanquished, at the height of their civilization they populated nearly all of Southern Gilneas, with their capital, Resanthern, located within the very center of the Blackwald. Despite their demise, the Eldir'thiirn would have a lasting influence upon Gilneas, much to the dismay of the Headlanders, or the 'Duathe'. They bear a long and rich history, having originally hailed of the Western Arathor. They met their end in the War of the Black Rose.
The Eldir'thiirn were not originally known by such a name. They came of a tribe from Arathor, that migrated to Gilneas around 6,000 years ago. This tribe goes by many names - and they are named differently by the Eldir'thiirn and the Duathe to the North. The Eldir'thiirn called them the 'Hathsfern', and that is the title that they will be referred to in this article. The Hathsfern were likely established through the merging of a variety of other tribes, around eight thousand years ago, though the history from such antique years is mostly unknown.
The Headlanders and the Eldir'thiirn both agreed that this tribe left Arathor because of two reasons - a vision seen by the elder, Hargslow the older, as well as the increased pressure they were facing from various tribes that worshipped the Elder Gods. Deeply shamanic, the Hathsfern repudiated all attempts to be converted to eldritch faiths in their early years. Hence, they found themselves embarking upon a grand journey, to a land that Hargslow claimed would be one of promise.
Historians say that this myth of the 'promised land' may have very well been where the headlanders more regressive myths of the 'Garden of Fjrionhrall' find their origin. It would be some time until the group reached the 'promised land', regardless. They traveled over the ancient Hillsbrad foothills, encountering smaller tribes which often ambushed them, severely hampering their progress. With no maps and no cartographers, it would take years until they even found themselves in Silverpine - and it is here, at least according to the story of the Headlanders, that they rested for many years.
Much as the high elves reported a dark presence when trying to traverse the glades of Tirisfal, the Hathsfern reportedly felt much the same here. Historically Shepherds, it is said that many of the animals began to grow monstrous protrusions, becoming warped into foul creatures that stalked the tribes young. Whether this actually occurred is unknown - but what is known is that during this time the tribe went through a societal transformation. Many of the Old Ways of Arathor were abandoned, or synthesized with the new-found faith.
Rifts began to gradually emerge within the society, many of the shaman claiming that the men whom were embracing these 'new ways' were going mad. There were small skirmishes but no wars, and after having settled down in Silverpine for nearly forty-five years, the Hathsfern at last set off. The tale of how this occurred - of how one of the tribal leaders managed to convince them to go off, is recorded with various interpretations by both the Duathe and the Eldir'thiirn.
Arrival in Gilneas.Edit
At last arriving in Gilneas, a tribesman of the Hathsfern, and one whom bore the blood of one of the royal lines, claimed that they had found the promised land and ought to at last settle down. The game was plenty, the woods possessing a mystical grace, and adjacent to these woods were great plains that bore a striking resemblance to the Arathian ones. By now, the old shamanism of Arathor had been changed fundamentally, and the primary debate concerned how much it ought to be changed.
The group that stayed behind in the Northgate woods and the Northern Headlands was to eventually be called the Duathe. They tried in vain to convince the rest of the tribe to settle down - but a small group nonetheless treaded onwards, convinced that there were further fruits of prosperity within these strange lands. This is the group that would eventually became the Eldir'thiirn. They were generally those that had first embraced what they found in Silverpine, the old relics of the Elder Gods, the various changes that the sheep and goats developed.
It was they, who discovered the small packs of tribes that were in Gilneas, and easily swept them off or assimilated them into their society. On the year 5,875, they arrived within the Blackwald, amazed. And it was them that gave it the name, the 'Blackwald', that would stay inscribed within the Gilnean consciousness for thousands of years.
Beginnings of Civilization.Edit
The two tribes were now thoroughly isolated. With but a few diplomats and ambassadors between them to spare, they set off to building their respective civilizations alone. There was little to distract either of them - no other tribes to harangue them, few wars, few famines. Indeed, this is perhaps where the seeds of Gilnean isolationism were first planted. The southern tribe would be transformed once again, undergoing a lasting societal change that would make them the first humans to discover druidism.
In the Blackwald, where Tal'doren, the portal to the Emerald Dream lay, they studied the trees and their magicks, as well as the Earth beneath them that possessed a peculiar quality. They learned druidism - the act of communing with the world itself, and touching into dream-magicks. But they did not practice any druidism of the elves. It was to be deeply ritualistic, and they would became closely attached to the Blackwald, and even more closely attached to their own sovereignty.
Utilizing their druidic magick, they were able to farm with increased efficiency, and compel various animals that they herded to breed ever-larger offspring. They flourished during these early years. In need of centralization, they created a new role in their society, which was to be known as the Hafenlerr, or the "Forest-King", in common. The leader in both temporal and spiritual affairs, the Forest-Kings were often brash, greedy, and corrupt - but they nonetheless allowed the centralization necessary for the group to expand.
The first of these Forest-Kings were known as Rangenrak the vigorous.
Reign of Rangenrak.Edit
The title of 'Forest-King' was very much created by Rangenrak. He was to be a chieftan of one of the tribes that constituted the Eldir'thiirn - and he led his tribe to the pinnacle of achievement by further exploring druidism and ways in which to treat the land. He gradually began to give 'favors' to other chiefs, whom became inevitably indebted to him. Carving out various alliances, he was able to eventually declare that he was the ruler of the entire Eldir'thiirn with little hesitation.
Ever-wary of challenges to his throne, he searched for a way to ensure that those he appointed would not rebel against him. Superstitiously of the belief that women were the weaker, more obedient sex, he appointed them to positions of power, believing they would not rebel against him. Antithetically, this allowed for women to flourish and take on religious roles, establishing an odd sort of gender equality within the society that was rarely seen.
Rangenrak, after being given his newfound power, dramatically expanded the Eldir'thiirn's territory. Once only inhabiting the Blackwald, they thrusted outwards to encompass more than half of Southern Gilneas, and thereafter their lands became known as the "Kingdom of Eldir'thiirn". The land they owned nearly tripled under his reign, and the capital city of the Eldir'thiirn, 'Rosenthern', more than doubled in population. He reigned for a total of sixty years, and handed the throne over to his son, Hargslow, named after he who led the Hathsfern.
Reign of Hargslow.EditHargslow was inundated thoroughly with the various traditions of royalty that his father established. He became "Hargslow the wise", and he was far more conservative than his father. Believing that the Eldir'thiirn should not expand too far beyond the Blackwald, he placed a halt upon expansion to focus upon the Blackwald. This led to the people outside of it being mostly neglected, and they were far poorer on average than the people that dwelt within the Blackwald.
But the Blackwald certainly became all the more rich. The "Blackwald Royalty" emerged, as not just those within the royal family but aristocrats and the common people whom were growing ever more wealthy. They took to crafting and the like, and Rosenthern grew exponentially, to a population of 10,000 people. Large structures were erected during this time, and there was a flowering of the Eldir'thiirn's culture, which had at last settled down from expansion and established a stable society. Ever-wary of the Headlanders to the North, the King chose to deny ambassadors and diplomats from them, contributing to a feeling of increased tension between the two parties.
Hargslow died early, impaled by one of the wandering mountain Gronn while on one of his rare expeditions out of the Blackwald. His son, Furthenhrall, was to be Crowned at only the age of sixteen.
Reign of Furthenhrall.Edit
Unlike his father, Furthenhrall was thoroughly interested in the outside world. Specifically, he was intrigued by the Headlanders to the North, whom were widely thought of as 'primitive savages' by the Eldir'thiirn at this point. Indeed, there were many a play openly mocking them, who had chosen to 'stop just before the fruit' of the Blackwald, that was apparently in sight. But Furthenhrall was interested in converting them to the faith of the Eldir'thiirn - which he had an extreme degree of investment in, unlike the prior two kings whom used it primarily to prop themselves up.
Venturing up to the land of these 'strange folk', Furthenhrall was to share the ways of his people with them, and it was perhaps one of the most disastrous decisions in the history of the Eldir'thiirn. The Duathe grasped them at once, but they did little to assimilate to their culture. Instead of adapting to the 'Ways of the Blackwald', they used the very same methods to peer into the life-giving waters of Earl'forth, the waters that they lived by. Believing that druidism granted them 'natural revelation', they developed their very own mythos about them.
Furthenhrall traveled back early, satisfied that they found such enjoyment in them - and believing fully that they would come to the Blackwald soon, seeking more teachings. But they did not. Those of the South scoffed upon the Northern attempts at druidism, but they developed at an unprecedented pace. Soon enough, their own civilization began to flourish, compelled forth by an entirely new faith which they had learned from both the land, and synthesizing old shamanism - but with little faith in the Elder Gods.
Instead of squashing the growing civilization, Furthenhrall convinced his courts to adopt a policy of 'isolationism' once again. It was largely a decision driven by shame, and an unwillingness to confront the issue of the Duathe. By staying isolationist, they were able to hide from the coming problem to the North, and choose to simply ignore it. When Furthenhrall died at an old age, he only had a single child - a daughter, that would take the crown, named Daelrenna.
Reign of Daelrenna.Edit
Daelrenna had different ideas concerning the threat to the North. She decided that war was entirely unnecessary, but that they ought to expand to buffer their pre-existing territories in case it resorted to it. Their lands nearly expanded twofold, as they came to encapsulate nearly all of Southern Gilneas. There came to be some minor skirmishes about boundaries - but nothing more. Ever-wise herself, she eventually drafted a peace treaty with the Headlanders, despite the contempt of both parties.
This would give rise to a long period in which both Kingdoms - the ancient one of the Eldir'thiirn, and the newly founded one of the Headlanders, would exist in tension, but peace. It would last for thousands upon thousands of years, with small amounts of little note interspersed between these years. Daelrenna would be revered as this 'bringer of peace', and eventually she would even come to be worshipped for her beneficence in dealing with the peasantry in the Eldir'thiirn, whom she passed various reforms for.
The Years of Peace.Edit
The years of peace saw a stagnation within the society of both the Eldir'thiirn, and the Duathe to the North. They were proto-civilizations, of a sort. Not nearly as grand as Arathor would be, but they were certainly larger than mere tribes. Over this period of around 4,000 years, the Eldir'thiirn largely maintained the status quo. The tradition of hereditary monarchy continued, though gradually the nobles of the society gained new powers, but would never truly limit the 'Forest-king' to the degree that nobles limit kings in more civilized Societies.They became more insular. The population stayed largely the same at 60,000, with no new ways to increase the food production, and truly no desire to 'expand', to have any degree of 'progress'. This was of course immensely peculiar, compared to the societies that valued progress as their primary goal. Perhaps the most important development was the gradual splitting of the culture of the Duathe and the Eldir'thiirn. Despite hailing from one tribe, they seldom resembled another anymore. The religion was vastly different, the culture vastly different, the norms not even mildly resembling another. The one shared link was language, and although they spoke different languages each language was fairly similar to another, to the point that a foreigner might not be able to tell the differences between them.
Rosenthern maintained its status as the capital, and the architecture of the Eldir'thiirn flourished. It was the only area in the Blackwald where the trees were largely chopped down to make room for actual buildings - and extensive rites were done to honour the slain trees. Rosenthern at its height in these years of peace had around 20,000 people - an entire third of the population of the Eldir'thiirn. It was lit by primitive means, and could be seen rising above the Blackwald by distant observers.
The two societies were kept from going to war largely through a balance of power. And yet, it was not through any degree of geniality, either. They deeply feared and mistrusted one another. The headlanders were claimed to be savages, while the Eldir'thiirn were known as heathens, practitioners of dark, foul magicks that ought to have never been discovered. The end of the years of Peace were characterized by an increasing tension between the two tribes, largely due to a dispute over the Lake of the Gods.
The Lake Years.Edit
The Lake Years began approximately at 1500, BOA, or 'Before Orcs Arrival'. They were called the 'Lake years', because they centered around the conflict between the Headlanders, or Duathe, and the Eldir'thiirn, for the lake of the 'Gods'. The Headlanders revered this lake for generations - yet they never claimed it, primarily due to the fact that the southern trip of it had a river that extended all the way to the Blackwald itself. If they had any degree of dominance over it, they would have territory that jutted into the Eldir'thiirn's.
The Eldir'thiirn, meanwhile, did not claim it out of a modicum of respect that they had to the Northern traditions, and hence they chose to keep their hands off the lake, which remained unclaimed. The Headlanders eventually laid claim to it - what exactly compelled them to do it?
Largely, a feeling of nationalism. They had recently expanded North into Silverpine, driving off several smaller tribes that were inhabiting it. They also moved West, into the Eastern woods, and the barrier in the Eastern woods became especially tenuous. The Eldir'thiirn hardly went to the lake in the first place, and hence a King of the Headlanders, Fionjall the third, believed that the Duathe had rights to the lake-shrine, or as they called it, the 'Shrine of the Gods'.
There was another treaty forged between the two parties, that granted the Duathe the lake, in turn for the Eldir'thiirn officially being allowed the river. The common people, and nobles of the Eldir'thiirn, largely believed this to be a folly and weakness. They were correct. The Headlanders grew far more ambitious. Now having a huge amount of land, all of Northern Gilneas as well as much of Southern Silverpine, their population stood at over one hundred thousand peoples.
The Lake Years had no war, but they provided the circumstances for a new leader, Hrondall the Mighty, to institute measures that had never before been seen for the Eldir'thiirn.
Reign of Hrondall.Edit
The reign of Hrondall began on year 1,400, and having taken the crown in the traditional ceremony he at once went about ensuring that a second 'Lake of the Gods', could not happen again. He brought forth the first organized military that the Eldir'thiirn had ever seen, 5,000 men to be active in it at any one time. He began to build forts, and even modernize the Eldir'thiirn a good deal, whom had been suffering from various economic hardships. They were no longer strictly isolationist under his reign - and they could not be. More and more, there were rumours of a vast empire in Arathor, and of other human nations emerging, began to surface among the Eldir'thiirn. They could not ignore them for long.
Hrondall shocked the Headlanders by ordering that troops occupy the Lake of the Stars, and scarcely guarded by the Headlanders, he managed to re-take the vast lake and then vanguard it with a full thousand man of his army. It left a legacy of bitterness for the Headlanders, and the two armies quickly cut off all relations. The Headlanders chose not to retaliate, though - they were engaged in a small war in Silverpine with a native tribe. But once more, the common people dictated what would occur. Crying in outrage, they lambasted the current King of the Headlands for failing to protect their ancestral lands. The next King of the headlands would develop a far more warlike stance.
Hrondall died in 1350, and an equally warlike King, Derendurl, would take the crown.
Reign of Derendurl, and prelude to the War of the Black Rose.Edit
Who was this new king that took the crown? He was a stately man, with a broad chest. He recalled Daelrenna often, in wandering about to the peasantry of the Eldir'thiirn. He began to centralize authority more than any other king hitherto seen - driven forth by the approval of the peasantry and middle-class that dwelled within the Blackwald. As Hrondall before him, he improved the military vastly, moving men up to further Garrison the land around the Lake of the Gods. Under his reign, it appeared as if other small cities were emerging outside of the Blackwald, at last.
He was named 'Derendurl' the great, for he possess both a keen mind and the ability to inspire - and persuade. The Lords that resisted military action were hastily brought into Order, as the Army of the Eldir'thiirn was expanded even moreso, to a full 5,000 men. He bore a crown of darkened Hyancith's, and was said to speak from a voice that hailed of the over-world, or the heavens. And yet for all his virtues, he possessed a fatal vice - he was just as isolationist as the Kings before him were.
In the year 1,335, an ambassador of the Arathian Legion formally arrived in the territories of the Northern Headlands, known as Legatus Stromtharn. The Headlanders were not exactly privy to foreigners - but they were far less hostile to them than the Eldir'thiirn were. They received the Ambassadors with relative grace - and of course, thoroughly inundated them with their own account of the Southern Druids. But the Legates from Arathor were far from foolish.
They requested the place where the government of the Eldir'thiirn was held, and received it in due time. Even one of the Headlanders went with them, as some manner of a translator. It was to be this Headlander that would (purposely) sow the seeds of contempt between the Arathians and Eldir'thiirn. He grossly misrepresented what the various diplomats of the Eldir'thiirn said, as to make it appear that all the myths of the Headlanders concerning the Eldir'thiirn were completely true.
Unfortunately, there are no surviving texts of the exact discourse that took place, but it is said in the folk-legend of the peoples living in the Eastern Woods that the legate of Arathor 'stormed out as a bull amongst wolves' and proceeded to flee back toward the land of the headlanders in vain. But he was slain. So too, were his words contrived into some manner of an insult. The whole affair caused a great upwelling of tension, that led to a resurgence of nationalism amongst the Headlanders and the Eldir'thiirn. The stage was fully set for an outburst of violence.
And yet, it did not occur. At least, not at first. There were a number of dissenters, especially of the Eldir'thiirn, that opposed the war. Though Derendurl outlawed any further ambassadors from coming into the territories of the Eldir'thirn, he did not seek any manner of a war. But he continued sending troops to vanguard the various positions that the Eldir'thiirn held - specifically the lake of the stars, causing further tension amongst the Headlanders. The King of the Headlanders had already spoken often of retaking the ancestral lake, which would eventually become Gilneas City.
In the year 1,300, war would break out at last and Eldir'thiirn was conquered by the Arathorians in the War of the Black Rose.