19 August 2007

Historia Antiquitatis V – The Houses of Harad

Well, it’s been a while since my last post on this subject, so I suppose it’s time to hit you, gentle reader, with another lesson in the ancient history of Anuru – brought to you, as always, by High Elven historian and professional killjoy, Ceorlinus Rectinarius.

This section follows the early years of the Age of Wisdom, when Bræa and Hara took mates from among the Haradi, the forebears of the Elves. Six bloodlines eventually emerged from these first two unions. The First House follows the unmingled bloodline of Bræa, and produced the Wandering Elves; the Second, of Hara, producing the Grey Elves; the Third, the mingled bloodlines of both, producing the High Elves; and the Fourth, the mingling of the bloodline of the Third House with the Minions of the Dark, producing the Shadowed Elves, also known as the Drow. The Fifth and Sixth Houses of Harad are the two houses of the Hiarsk, the ancient bloodlines resulting from the mingling of the First and Second Houses of Harad with the Esudi (as distinguished from more recent matings of men and Elves; such offspring are commonly known as “Half-Elves”).

Two other Elven sub-species exist: the Wood-Elves (a later off-shoot of the High Elves that has forsaken arcane magic for the divine magic of tree and wold); and the Wilder Elves (a barbaric off-shoot of the Wood-Elves who consider all magic to be anathema, and who, it is rumoured, derive their heritage and unusual powers from long-ago mingling with fey races).

The bulk of this section, however, and much of the history that follows, concerns the activities of the leading members of the Third House of Harad. As might be expected of a bloodline tracing its roots back to two of the Powers of the Light, the Third House has produced the greatest warriors and wizards in the history of Anuru. One of these, Tîor the Mighty, was both, and became the greatest king the Elves had ever known. He probed the depths of the arcane flux, and created the Well of Stars in Elvehelm to harness it; he forged the Sword and the Rods of the Elven kings; he scribed the first Words of Power, and accumulated the greatest store of magical knowledge ever seen, before or since; he crafted the mightiest magical items in history (most of which are lost, although some, it is said, survive); and he bent the laws of the Universe to unlock the secrets of the River of Time.

Tîor left a long shadow through history. His power was such that even had he perished within Anuru, it is likely that he would have become an Avatar of magic, if not one of Hara’s Servants; but his betrayer cast him beyond the walls of the Universe and into the Void; and neither the Powers, nor even the Forces, know his fate.

* * * * *

Prosapiae Primus: The First House

Brahad, the eldest son of Bræa, took his wife from among the Haradi; and his heirs were of direct lineage from Bræa, and took their mates only within the Haradi, and enjoined their descendents to do likewise, and they became the First House of Harad, known as the Îar-anHaradi. And they were known in the latter days as the Wandering Elves, for they forebore to settle, and preferred ever to seek new lands under new skies. And they remained the tallest, and the wisest, and the longest-lived of the Houses of Harad, and they loved the mountains and the skies, and searched the stars for wisdom. In their search for wisdom, they built no empires, but wandered ever the Earth; and thus they were never numerous, though mighty. Like their father, they died not within Anuru; but if slain, they shared in the Blessing of Bræa, that is to go to the Long Halls after Death, beyond the Dome of the Firmament, there to await their Mistress-Mother’s call, at the Breaking of the World.

Prosapiae Secundus: The Second House

Sîallath, the younger daughter of Bræa, took as her husband Îardan, the younger son of Hara. And their children were a son, Îardath, and a daughter, Sîalladan; and in this line flowed the beauty of Bræa and the wisdom of Hara. Like the First House, the scions of the Second took their mates only within the Haradi, and were called the Second House of Harad. Though not as long-lived or as tall as those of the First House, they were more beautiful, and were greater lovers of the forests and the trees. And in latter days, they were known as the Cho-anHaradi, which means the “Grey Elves”, and their kingdoms were mighty in Anuru, if brief; for their love lay in wisdom and knowledge and arcane skill, not in power or rulership. And like the First House, they shared in the Blessing of Bræa.

Prosapiae Tertius: The Third House

Elloamna, the eldest daughter of Hara, whose name meant “Silver-White” for her shining, silvery hair (so unlike the ebon locks of most of the Haradi), married Erudiath, the First King of Harad. And they had one daughter, Haramna, in whom the light and beauty of Elloamna lived on. And Haramna was taken as wife by Xîardith, the youngest son of Bræa; and their children were golden-haired and blue, grey and silver-eyed; and they were strong and swift of foot, and three in number, and were famous among the Haradi.

Eldest was Tîor, whose name means “Tallest”, and he bore wisdom upon his brow, and the power of light in his hand, and his eyes were blue; and he bore the raven tresses of his common forebears. Yet he became the greatest worker of the powers of light and dark in the history of Harad. Tîor it was who breached the walls of heaven and created the Well of Stars, from whose endless depths flow all of the mighty powers of the Haradi, and all who wield the arcane flux; and he created the Rods of Majesty, once wielded by the mightiest kings of Harad, and of which none now survive. And Tîor it was who, at the Well of Stars, forged for his brother Dîor the great two-handed sword Alurenqua, which means “Blade of Light and Darkness”; and the blade became an heirloom of the Third House, the were-weapon of the war chieftains of Harad, that only those of the greatest strength and power could wield. And finally, Tîor was the first of the magi to comprehend the mysteries and manipulation of the great river of time; and he recorded this knowledge in a series of scrolls known as the Miruklær, the “Wisdom of Time”, now, like many of his works, lost. And he served his subjects as High King of the Third House of the Haradi. But Tîor’s thirst for knowledge and power knew no bounds, and he met a foul end; and thus his legacy is one of darkness and shadow, as well as light.

Next in line was Dîor, whose eyes were silver, and whose name meant “Strongest”; might was in his hand, the greatest warrior the Haradi ever knew. He it was who entered the lair of the Great Green Wyrm Chyardan and slew him; and who led the Haradi to battle against the Minions of the Dark; and who, wielding the great sword Alurenqua at the crisis of battle, strove against and cast down Baluchog, one of the greatest Minions of the Dark, a mighty servant of Morga the Destroyer. Dîor took as his wife a common maiden of the Haradi; and after the ending of Tîor’s line in the treachery of Bîardath, those of the line of Dîor were the High Kings of the Third House of the Haradi.

And last came Dîorwine, she of the grey eyes, with raven hair like her brothers, and matchless beauty, whose name meant "Gentle Strength"; she who in entering the world slew her mother Haramna, and was raised by the eagles of the air and the beasts of the forest; for her father Erudiath knew naught of her, but thought her dead along with her dam. It was only as a grown woman that she returned to her father’s courts; and when she did, she held in friendship the beasts of the land and the birds of the air; and even the foul monsters of Bardan did her bidding, save only the most ancient and powerful of the dragons; for it was in her spirit to love all that she saw, and be loved by all that saw her. Yet this power was in the end to prove her undoing; and hers was to be a sad fate, and foul.

And in latter days the scions of the Third House lived and intermingled with those of the Second; but children who bore raven hair, like Tîor, were ever after known as the Ello-anHaradi, which means “High Elves”. The Third House brought forth many of the mightiest warriors, wizards and kings of Harad. And like those of the First and Second Houses, they died not in Anuru unless slain, and when they passed, they shared in the Blessing of Bræa.

Prosapiae Quartus: The Fourth House

After an age of practicing and perfecting his art, Tîor, High King of the Third House of Harad, took to wife Hîarhala the Hiarsk, daughter of Nîamlo and Chuadwaith. She was as tall and fair as one of the Haradi, but there was in her the strength and courage of her Esudi father, and well she bore the studious and distant nature of her husband; and the people marvelled at her, for she had hair red as flame, and green eyes. And in the course of their short time together (for the Hiarsk, though longer-lived than most men, were yet short in span of years compared to the elders among the Haradi; and Tîor’s time was shorter still, though he knew it not), she bore two sons and two daughters. Eldest was Kîarask, a mighty warrior of the Hiarsk, who founded a kingdom that became an empire of Esud; and after him, for he had no children, his sisters Cîardana and Tîorhala ruled his empire, as did their children after them.

But the youngest son, Xîardath, whose name meant "Last-Born", was his father’s child in sooth, for he resembled most closely the people of the Third House, fair-skinned and black-haired; and he learned his father’s lore and power, and became, after Tîor, the most powerful mage in the history of Anuru. As his power waxed, so did his pride, and he became mighty in Harad, and also secretive, and resentful of his father’s mastery. Xîardath demanded of his father that he be taught the deepest of wisdom; but Tîor, sensing the darkness in his son, refused. And so Xîardath sought the forbidden knowledge on his own. In his search for wisdom and mastery, he came at last upon Zaman, hooded, disguised as a mighty sorceress; and she instructed him at length. And though he gained great power from her tutelage, it was the power of the Dark, and it consumed his soul; and soon he had turned away from his people, seeking ever more fell and puissant magicks under the corrupting eye of Zaman the Deceiver.

At last there came the day when, swollen with pride and the power of the Uruqua, Xîardath launched war against his father, and challenged him for control of all Harad. The son strove for mastery with the father; and because Tîor would not slay his son, Xîardath emerged victorious; and wielding the forbidden powers of the Dark, he breached the walls of time and space, and cast his father Tîor into the realms of the Void beyond the universe. And so noble Tîor alone, of all the Haradi, was reft of the Blessing of Bræa; he came never unto the Long Halls, and his mighty spirit has departed beyond the knowledge of Anā and Ūru.

After the battle of father and son, the Kingdom of the Third House lay in ruins; most of the noble family were slain, and nigh all of their servants. Yet among the wrack of war and woe Xîardath found a maiden, seemingly of the Haradi, wild of visage, but of exceeding beauty, with the raven hair and silver eyes of his father’s house; but she spoke not, for she had been rudely treated by the warriors of Xîardath. Gazing upon her, Xîardath loved her instantly, for such was her particular power; and took her from the ruins of Tîor’s household, and kept her in concubinage as a spoil of victory. And thus was the doom of the Third House sealed; for he did this not knowing that she was Dîorwine, his own father’s younger sister, caught up in the fates of war.

Thus were sown the seeds of an eon of hatred and destruction in Harad, for at length Dîorwine bore a child; but the child of Xîardath, whose spirit had been corrupted by the dark magicks he wove, got upon his own kin, was born dark of skin, with bone-white hair, and eyes as black as his father’s heart. And the boy was called by his father Bîardath, which means “Ill-Born”; for the birthing was difficult, and Dîorwine, who had never recovered from the agonies of battle, did not survive it. And Xîardath, dismayed by the death of Dîorwine, and disgusted by the deformity of his son, cast the infant boy out of his housefhold, sending one of his apprentices to dispose of the infant in the forest.

But the apprentice was found by Kankallanach, one of the Great Wyrms of Ice, a mighty dragon, and the father of mighty dragons. One of the eldest of Bardan’s fell monsters, Kankallanach recognized the power that lay within the infant; and the white wyrm consumed the apprentice, and took the infant Bîardath under his wing, bearing him far into the north; and the dragon raised him, and taught him great magicks unknown to the Elves, and even the Powers of Dark, but only by the dragons. And in time the boy grew in power to rival his father, and hate him. When he came of age he returned with Kankallanach to Harad, accompanied by a vast host; and together they cast down Xîardath, and slew him and all his household, and razed his palace; and Bîardath took the kingdom for his own, and thus founded the Fourth House of the Haradi. From his father’s bones, and the blood of his mentor, and other fell things, Bîardath forged a mighty staff with which to wield his magicks; and this was called the Wand of Bîardath.

Bîardath sired two lines; for he first wed Fanduiline, of the House of Dîor, and her pure blood erased the taint from his house; her daughter, Gennara, survived in hiding to become the wife of Yarchian, called The Renewer. But this was in later years. When Fanduiline died, Bîardath wed Shannyra, a fell sorceress, one of the Minions of Bardan, and his children by her bore his true features, and the taint of his heart, and were ever after dark of skin, white of hair, and mighty in magic. And both lines possessed the strength and courage of the Esudi mingled, from long before, with the blood of Bræa and Hara. The dark-haired line came eventually back to the light, and perpetuated the line of the Third House of Harad; but the children with white hair and black eyes, who were canned in latter days the “Shadelven”, were the Fourth House of Harad; and they were called also the Elves of the Shadow, of the Underdark, and the Drow.

The children of the Fourth House, like their forebears, were immortal in Anuru; and through their lineage, they were permitted to share in the Blessing of Bræa. But because of the taint cast upon the Fourth House by the crimes of Bîardath, and his mingling of blood with the foul sorceress Shannyra, those of this line who passed beyond Anuru and into the Void were ever after banned from the Light; and it is said that instead, their spirits were offered refuge by Bardan, who was eager for their wisdom and power, and glad to number so many of the fallen Children of Bræa among his mighty followers.

Prosapiae Quintus: The Fifth House

Cîarndim, eldest son of Nîamlo, eldest daughter of Bræa and Chuadwaith of Esud, founded and perpetuated the Fifth House. And his children ever after were Hiarsk, for they married only within the peoples of Esud; but though shorter-lived than the pure Elves, they were strong and fair, and the wisdom and beauty of Bræa never wholly left their line; and they were known as the Ur-Vestelven, or the “Wandering Half-Elves”. And they were the Fifth House of Harad, also called the Second House of the Hiarsk. But although they were very long in years, like their Esudi fathers they shared not in the Blessing of Bræa; and when they died or were slain in Anuru, their spirits departed beyond the Void; and although they lingered for a time in the Halls of Tvalt, and could even be called by and compelled to serve the Powers, yet they could not be forever held, and eventually departed, and it is not known where they go. And the departure of the spirits of the Hiarsk, like those of the Esudi, was called in later days the Wyrd of Man. And this, the Fifth House of the Haradi, had no High King; for they settled not, and built no empires among the Haradi; but their descendents were known everywhere as wise and mighty among the peoples of Anuru.

Prosapiae Sixtus: The Sixth House

Of the children of Tîor and Hîarhala, Kîarask, the eldest son, had no issue; and his empire, as has already been said, was ruled after him, first by his sister Cîardana, who never married; and later by his sister Tîorhala, who ruled the empire for many a long year. Tîorhala married a Prince of Harad, bringing the blood of the fair folk into her mighty line, and that line lasted an age and more, and was called the Sixth House of Harad; but the strength of Hîarhala’s blood could never thin, and the descendents of the Sixth House, though possessing all of the gifts and strengths of the Haradi, yet ever resembled closely the strongest and fairest of the peoples of Esud, with red hair and green eyes, even though they long ruled a kingdom of Harad. And because the blood of the Sixth House was refreshed from time to time both by Haradi and Esudi husbands and wives, the children of this house were known in latter days as the An-Vestelven, or the “Noble Half-Elves”. They were the Sixth House of Harad, or the First House of the Hiarsk, and also they shared in the Wyrd of Man. And those of the line of Tîorhala were ever after the High Kings of the Sixth House of the Haradi.

Nobilitatio Adfinus: The Royal Families of Esud, Lagud and Nosad

The people of Lagud and Nosad had no Great Houses like the people of Harad, for they married and bred only within their own; and their nobility and royalty lay only within their own peoples. But the Esudi had many Great Houses, for they were legion in their fecundity, and forged empires across the Earth throughout the Age of Wisdom; and the Royal Houses of Esud, were from time to time enriched with the blood of the Ur-Vestelven of the Fifth House; or the An-Vestelven of the Sixth House. And thus were they longer-lived, and mighty in power and wisdom among the Esudi.

And on rare occasion, new Vestelven came into Anuru, when people of Esud had children by those of Harad; and if these were not scions of the other Houses, they were called the “Tar-Hiarsk”, or the “Lost Half-Elven”; and also were they called “Half-Breeds”, “Half-Bloods”, and even “Half-Men”, and often they were despised by both of their peoples; for they belonged neither among the Esudi, nor among the Haradi; nor even were they of the ancient lines of the Vestelven; and so they were forsaken by all, and children of none. And theirs was a sad lot, for in sooth many of them were wise and fair, and strong both of hand and heart; and they wrought much good upon Anuru.