114-549 Plague of Ûr & Ka

No one knows how the plague began, but it was devastating.  A horrible pestilence rose up across the steppes and devastated almost all of the domesticated animals in the region.  With this pestilence came a horrible, unearthly weather which broke the land and kept it fallow for 27 years.  The and the Great Keep of Thab Nardiak had tremendous stocks of food, but no storeroom was ready for this plague of destruction. 

Three years into the plague, the pestilence began to affect various clans leading to miserable diseases which affected orc, dwarf, human and drow.  Nothing in Khalid-Ka could escape the terror of this plague, certainly not the clan structure of the region.

There was 100 years of relative peace between the clans, but it was all falling apart now.  With massive starvation and horrible diseases, each of the eight clans began to break apart.  Only the most powerful and violent clan leaders seemed to be able to hold the larger clans together.  However, three of the great clans were completely unaffected by the plague: Kazden, Kharin and Gorgen Dûn.

In these regions, the plague was limited to only some of their livestock and almost none of their inhabitants.  To keep the plague out, each of the three clans closed their doors to the other five, except for trade or diplomacy.  The three clans could not keep this sort of peace, however, because thousands of people were dying across the steppes. 

Eventually, the whole of Khalid-Ka became a battle ground.  There were great sieges and battles where entire clans and even the entire race of Orcrad were completely eliminated from the face of Eirethune.  All of the towers, save Kharin & Kazden Dûn, were destroyed as was the Great Keep of Thab Nardiak.

The warfare was so relentless and devastating that even the semi-bellicose dwarves had had enough.  Thirty years into these horrible times, most of the dwarves were done with fighting and decided to leave their homeland.

History - Plague of Ur and Ka

115-549 Wars of the Plague

The wars began just shy of a year after the plague began.  Where most of the clans affected by the plague began to dissolve, there was one which remained intact through its strict and violent regiment, Grogthank.

115-184 Slaughter of the Weak

The Grogthank leader, Gwargot-Thall, knew at the beginning of the outbreak that he must retain order in whatever way was possible if he was going to survive as leader.  Because of this decision, he was able to maintain a strong and regimented clan army.  His first attack would be Kabendis Dûn which had been the de facto ruling clan of Khalid-Ka.  They were in disarray and no match for Grogthank and attempted to orchestrate a peace with Gwargot-Thall which enabled them to keep some food.  Gwargot-Thall made no peace and executed every Kabendis clansman that he found and destroyed the entire .  It was a strong message and one that would be felt throughout Khalid-Ka. Each of the clans prepared itself for war while slowly dying from plague and starvation.  However, the clans that were stronger took advantage of them and crucified them across the steppes.  Very visible violent messages were being displayed across the steppes to breed fear in anyone who would oppose a powerful violent clan.  Eventually, all clans either took up the sword vigorously, or were killed and made into totems of blood.

215-275 War for the Towers

The still held the greatest stores of food in the region and no clan knew how long the plague, drought and pestilence would last.  The clans who were stewards to the Towers would never let their own clansmen know how much food was left, let alone a rival clan on the outside.  However, everyone knew that given the horrible situation outside the walls, the Towers would help anyone survive.

Besides Grogthank, Gagbin & Kirgandor were the most powerful.  Each of these three great clans took up the sword and began to siege the towers around them.  Grogthank attempted to siege Kharin, Gagbin besieged Gorgen, and Kirgandor besieged Kazden Dûn.

Only Gagbin was successful in their siege and Gorgen’s clansmen either became slaves or were tortured and mutilated to death.  For Grogthank, the frustrated besieging clan razed the lands around the citadel and then returned to the steppes, killing any unrelated clan they came upon, regardless of previous relationship.  Kirgandor razed the lands around Kazden Dûn and then immediately started another siege of Kalabor.  This siege was also unsuccessful, leaving Kirgandor weak and undersupplied.  The Drow & Dwarves of Kalabor demanded the heads of the leaders of Kirgandor, and only then would they consider a peace.  The heads were granted, and after successive torturings of the sub-leaders of the Kirgandor clan, the rest of the clan was incorporated into Kalabor.

260-264 Sacking of Thab Nardiak

The remaining Kabendis who guarded the Great Keep of Thab Nardiak would be no match for Grogthank. The great walls and towers of the citadel were thrown down and the body of its founder, Thab Nardiak, was unearthed and turned into an animated pawn for the Grogthank army to enjoy. [1] Grogthank acquired tremendous supplies from the citadel, but the citadel would be burned and bludgeoned to the ground.

297-336 Rise of the Dark Caste

Grogthank was the most regimented and military of the warring clans.  Gagbin was the largest of the warring clans.  Kalabor, however, was the most powerful.  There was more research of magic than either clan, and it’s social structure was almost as regimented as Grogthank’s.  Kalabor used the knowledge and abilities of all of its component races to grow in power, while the other clans were just trying to maintain control over their members as they died through war, starvation and disease.

One of the Dark Elven leaders of Kalabor further delineated the regimented nature of the clan, but defining and instituting a caste structure.  The caste was based on the existing clan structure, but progression through the castes was based on service, performance and ability.  Only through death could a member progress.  In many cases, a dead clan member could be resurrected, but if not, then they could progress one other clan member of their choosing to progress in their stead.[2]  Of course, political importance or subterfuge were really the only way for someone to rise in caste, because resurrections may or may not work, and who’s to say who was chosen as a dead person’s next to progress, especially when those people who have powers over the dead are in the highest castes.

Kalabor began to preach the Dark Caste to the other clans as a means of organization during the Plague.  Gagbin had always had problems with control, so they were easily persuaded.  Grogthank, however, was not persuaded.  Instead, they viciously attacked Gagbin who was larger than they were, but quite disorganized still.  Kalabor knew that in order to preserve their rule and the Dark Caste that they must assist Gagbin, and so they counterattacked Grogthank.  The war was a very, brutal ten years, but at the end, Grogthank was annihilated.  Crucifixes of Grogthank clansmen were placed on every hill and at every pond to mark the end of Khalid-Ka without the Dark Caste.

413-438 Lords of the Dark Caste

Given the political nature of progression in the Dark Caste, it was only a matter of time before members in the next-to-highest levels of the caste system sought more power.  The caste members at the top were secure and wished no one else to progress, especially since many of them were Dark Elves and had very long life spans.  To avert this dominance by one race, a great second tier Orcish leader, Wr-Goth-Okk, secretly built an assassin caste[3].  When they were trained, he had the caste kill every member of the top caste, and then killed each of the assassins so that their chosen ones could progress.  Instead of reoccupying the top caste, Wr-Goth-Okk demanded that only one being should be in the highest caste, and that all others that were in his caste should now divide the Kalabor/Gagbin clan into separate lineages.  A great lottery (fixed as it was) took place and the 25 members of the currently top caste assembled their masses and departed to build their own feudal societies.  Of course, almost immediately the separate lords began to raid and fight one another and although the Plague was showing signs of lifting, the bloody warfare continued.

493-549 Destruction of the Feudal Towers

Several of the were still intact in Khalid-Ka, and a couple of the new Lords of the Dark Caste were taking hold in them.  The towers seemed to be prizes to the other lords and so battles for their control were commonplace.  Around 527, Lord Baadgaat, captured Kalabor Dûn, but instead of occupying it, he destroyed it, decreeing We are not creatures of the old Ka; we are Lords of the Steppes, Lords of Ûr.  And so the Ûr Lords began to destroy the old towers upon their capture until all were gone except for the last two still controlled by the dwarves[4].  At different times, an Ûr Lord would lay siege to Kharin or Kazden Dûn, but the dwarves were always ready to defend their ancient homes to the last man, woman or child.

145-512 Migration of Dwarvenkind

When the Plague came, the dwarves prepared themselves for a long difficult time, regardless of what clan they belonged to.  When the wars came, the dwarves prepared themselves for war, regardless of what clan they belonged to.  However, when the wars became more and more violent, and savagery was rampant, the dwarves began to reconsider their ties to this newly desolate land.  Little by little the dwarves left their homeland and sought new mountains and hills to claim as their own.  By the end of the plague, only the dwarves of the great towers of Kharin & Kazden Dûn remained in the Khalid-Ka lands.

148-153 Bryan Cliff Dwarves

The first migration was comprised of many of the dwarves who were more engineers than warriors.  The deep cliffs of the made for an interesting habitat for the dwarves.  Much of the rock is porous, while other portions of the rock had all of the minerals of Eirethune.  The dwarves did settle on both sides of the , so almost as soon as they got there, they began to think of how they would possibly construct a bridge to cross the wide river.

157-163 Dwarves of the Coten Halls

Soon after the majority of engineers left, the first batch of miners decided it was time for them to leave as well.  They followed the same path as the Bryan Cliff Dwarves, but they weren’t as interested in the cliffs over the water as their brethren.  Instead they looked to the sky and saw the high peaks of the to the west.  They dug deep and created a tremendous city in stone and iron.

214-222 Dwarves

Right after the slaughtering of Kabendis, some of the warrior clans who did not want to partake in the savage battles that would commence, and more of the miner clans decided to seek out a new homeland for themselves.  They did not travel as far or along the same route as the previous migrations, but instead, headed directly for the mountains south of the Khalid-Ka realm.   They first encountered the Madur of Roane & Thearth, and moved on without much care, wanting to be more isolated than these aliens would permit them to be.  As the drove between the tributaries of the , they found their home, high in the cragged, relentless peaks of the .  The clans reformed here, but they were not quite the same as in Khalid-Ka.  Each clan had a warrior caste and a miner caste so that each clan could be equal and provide for themselves.  Each clan claimed a peak and their miners built the clan halls therein.

235-241 Dunn Dwarves, Giant-Friend

As the wars and sieges progressed, more of the warrior clans began to grow tired.  There was never enough food and always battle.  The only clans left in Khalid-Ka where dwarves had any say at all were Kharin, Kazden and Gagbin.  This was not a good situation for many of the dwarves as they found themselves being asked to perform incredibly dangerous raids as if they were completely expendable.  Eventually, these dwarven warrior clans began a new migration.  Many of these clans had fought with the other ‘expendable’ giants who were in Khalid-Ka, and both groups decided that they needed a home elsewhere.  So dwarf and giant together began a trek towards Icereach and then along the frozen coasts.  They passed through Rhorden & the Dunns, and the people there were more to their liking.  The simple clan-oriented raiding lifestyle of the First Age was still quite prevalent in these areas.  So the giants and dwarves settled in these lands and in the more hilly lands to the west, ready to return to the clan life that they had lost during the Plague.

285-308 Dag Dwarven Deep

When the Dark Caste was being formed in Khalid-Ka, there was very little room for the dwarves.  They had been relegated to the lower levels of the caste with little room for growth given their somewhat innate aversion to magic.  Over the next 30 years, the remainder of the dwarves outside of Kharin & Kazden Dûn would be gone from their ancient homeland.  The first migration in this period was comprised of mostly mining dwarves who sought the nearby mountains to the south in Dag.  There were tall mountains here surrounding a glacial lake, and the minerals and gems inside the mountains were plentiful.

290-306 of Dwarvenkind

A few years later, a migration of those dwarves who actually had reasonable caste in the new order decided to utilize that limited precept to lead another group.  These leaders felt that they could setup a single clan kingdom in their new homeland, basing their dynasty on previous caste and lineage.  They followed the original Bryan Cliff path, in communicating with more dwarves impressing upon them the concept of a single clan, single kingdom model.  When the case for the kingdom was made to the cliff dwarves, only a few of the clans would accompany them; however, acquiring more engineers was still good for the kingdom.  The migration headed south through the hills to the high peaks of Ffydd where a tremendous underground city was constructed and ruled over by a single Dwarven King, Thainmar Grundin.

292-314 Tatanic Dwarven Keeps

The last of the war-weary dwarves left a few years later, heading south, but not stopping at either the Dag or Kastgor clan realms.  Instead they desired their own clan fiefs apart from the mining dwarves of the aforementioned regions.  Range after range of mountains passed until they came to the sea.  Just north of the sea, they began to build small fiefs with keeps for each.  The creatures of the land were hostile, making the keeps mandatory, but it was nothing compared to the horrible warfare through which they had suffered in Khalid-Ka.

Next, The Second Age: The Sword & Stone Period

[1] The Horn of Gwargot-Thall was a horn of tremendous power and horrible effect.  The blower could suffer madness or horrible disfigurement when they used the horn, however, the horn enabled the blower to raise the corpses of any being with ears in its range.  Some corpses would return as if they had been raised from the dead, some corpses would be animated as living zombies, and some corpses would turn into horrifying demons under the temporary command of the blower.  The horn was used and lost by Orot Jahd at the Battle of Torn Skins in 1296.

[2] The Skull of Badzoar Dwar was the head of a great Ûr warrior.  Badzoar Dwar had worked his way up the caste ranks until he was two levels from the top of the political vein.  After a great clan battle in 301, Badzoar Dwar was killed after wiping out over 85 foes individually.  His clansmen had fully expected that Badzoar would be resurrected and progress through to the next caste level, but instead his advancement was denied by his own mentors.  Upon this denial, the brethren of Badzoar called forth his spirit and bound it to his skull.  When the brethren reattempted to move Badzoar up the caste and his mentors refused again, the brethren revealed the skull of Badzoar Dwar to them.  The mentors began to age rapidly for as long as Badzoar’s skull was presented to them.  It is believed that the skull can draw out anything from an enemy which is asked for by the wielder.  There is the ancient legend of age being drawn out, but also there are tales of intellect or magic being drawn out of a victim.  The power of the skull is quite evil, but it is possible that it could be used for good, albeit chaotic, acts.  The skull was used and lost by the Ûr Lord Jadrah during the Great War at the Battle of Dag Barrow in 2967.

[3] The Vials of Wr-Goth-Okk contained the spirits of the first assassins in the Dark Assassin Caste.  When they died, their souls were preserved by Wr-Goth-Okk to be used as non-corporeal assassins in the future.  The souls would perform whatever furtive duty that was asked for them, but they would in turn ask for some piece of life.  The vials had been contained by the highest members of the Dark Assassin Caste, but some were utilized by Thang-Gwr during the Great War.  At the Battle of Final Revenge 2969, Thang-Gwr used his assassins to wipe out several of the greatest Western generals, but in doing so, risked his own life gravely.  Two of the vials that Thang-Gwr acquired were known to have been recovered and are now maintained by the Guards of Caer Ddaden.

[4] The Hammer of Baadgaat was used by the great Ûr Lord to bash down many of the doors and gates of Kalabor Dûn.  It was also said to create a tremendous sound when being bashed against metal such that many people around Baadgaat would fall to the floor and hold their ears in pain.  The hammer was said to have been used and lost at the Battle of Teiran Creek in 1156.