Each Thursday this year, I focus on a different aspect of the world I’ve created and played D&D in for over 20 years, in the hopes of honing the ideas and cementing enough in place to settle the world in my own mind. I’m fleshing out the history of the continent. This time, its the history of the Thraxian Clans.
Before the Sundering
There was no Thrax prior to the sundering, and the Thraxians keep little information regarding their origins beyond oral traditions passed down from clan shaman to clan shaman. Their tales say that they were a great and prosperous people living upon the plains at the center of the world. They had great leaders, they executed great wars, and they were feared by their neighbors for the battle prowess and raiding expertise.
The sundering, they say, destroyed it all. Their lands were where the final battles of the Demongate wars were fought, and where the Demon queen rent the world. Their lands were blasted into oblivion and their people all but destroyed. It took decades, but eventually, their people started to find each other and joined together. They made crude ships and sailed them into the great unknown for lands that weren’t completely devastated by the Demon Queens Touch.
Landing on Tysis
Their crude fleet landed on the shores of Tysis, just south of the Ironarm Mountains. The forest here was lush, and teeming with wildlife. It was a pleasant place. Their leader, a wise warrior named Thrax and his wife, a shaman named Zaraill, lead their people into creating settlements down the coast, and then, shortly thereafter, into the woods.
Thrax led the first of these expeditions personally. They discovered woods were replete with towering Marble Maples and Whisper Pines, flooded with game, and riddled with burbling books and streams. It was a peaceful and undisturbed place, one that felt like it could be home.
They founded the town of Ugarith a few days south of the other settlements and well within reach of the coastal towns. Here, they decided, they would build a great city that would shine in glory and power. It is around this time that they begin calling themselves Thraxians, those who follow Thrax, and the different tribes began to settle into a single, unified culture.
In the following months, they lived a peaceful, if tough, life. Thrax returned to the coast to begin preparation for a large caravan to help populate Ugarith, and those left behind awaiting his return. Their life, however, was forever changed when they learned that their suppositions about the forest being an uninhabited wilderness were upended at nearly the same time in two different locations. To the south, at Ugarith, Forest Goblins attacked a Thraxian hunting party and left no survivors, while to the north, one of the coastal towns was attacked by a tribe of giants. Within weeks, the Thraxians were being raided from both directions. Quickly showing their skill and mettle, they met both challenges head on. Clans were directed to address either the giants or the goblins, sending hundreds of warriors to support each front. The Thraxians were shrewd, and when, within the first campaign season the goblins were defeated, Thrax impressed by the courage, cunning, and tactical acumen of these forest goblins, offered them a place within his people. Since that day the goblins have been staunch allies, integrating with the Thraxians into a single culture.
To the north, the situation was very different. The giants were brutal, strong and completely fearless. Hearty and powerful, they felt it their right to take what they wanted and leave nothing for others. Many tribes and clans, on both sides, were destroyed over the course of the years of conflict and raids. Eventually, the Thraxians were able to persuade a few rogue and hungry individuals that working together was worth restraining from crushing and eating a few people. This was a turning point, as giants started to notice that the little people not only weren’t going to kill them on site, but that they would also get arms, armor, and food. Soon each Thraxian clan had made alliances and partnerships with the nearby giant tribes, and today the giants can be found in every Thraxian city and town as a vital and important part of its culture. They are strong defenders, powerful workers, and mighty builders, though a bit on the dim side.
The Levishan War
Having integrated the goblins and the giant, the Thraxians learned that there were even greater threats further into the woods. The Fey creatures of Levisha were pushing east into the forest looming close to the coast. They considered it their own territory and called it the Kiyanni meaning “Land of the Tall Trees.” They had ruthlessly exterminated many goblin Tribes, pushing ever eastward. Now, with the Thraxians on their side, they thought it was possible to defeat the Levishans.
The first Thraxian encounter with the Levishans was brutal. The Levishans, much like the goblins before, ambushed a group of Thraxians and slaughtered them all. They then sent an emissary to the nearby town and demanded that the Thraxians move out, or be slaughtered like their scouts. The Thraxians refused and the Levishans made their move to attack the town with a dozen rangers and a few mages, thinking this would be an easy victory. They were not prepared for the stiff resistance and powerful warriors of Thrax. What they assumed would be a quick extermination of a defenseless town turned into a complete elimination of the attacking force. Each man and woman in the town fought against the intruders with a ferocity unmatched by the Levishans.
The war that ensued was long and bloody, but the Thraxians were prepared for the conflict, and the Levishans continued to underestimate their enemy. The Thraxians were able to withstand ambushes, bring to bear more numerous forces, and meet the Levishans on battlefields time and again, with Thrax leading them to glorious victory after glorious victory, pushing the Levishans back at every possible moment. Finally, the elves knew they were defeated and, in a great battle at the edge of the Ironarm Mountains, the Elven Nature Mages rent a huge rift that separated the once continuous forest in two.
The Thraxians had enough. Their forest was forever separated from that of the Levishans, and the two would never bother each other again. They withdrew from the Rift and returned to the settling of the forest of Thrax, building cities and towns and creating a civilization that, for the most part, stands to this day.
The Great Expansion
For ages, the Thraxians settled the great forest, but there were always those who were gripped with a powerful wanderlust, who needed to move about and see more than what they had. These people and tribes first began spreading south and encountered the Alorans, whom they raided mercilessly, taking what they could and destroying what they could not. Nomadic and tribal, the Aloran military structure was unable to properly address the problem until they decided to build a massive wall across the northern border to attempt to halt their incursions, from the Prahsh Hills to the Albremak wood, the wall ran, and for the most part, kept out raiders, though no barrier is infallible and there were still some raids.
The Thraxians then, meeting resistance to the south, pushed westward and encountered the rotting and collapsing Morresti, who were ripe for the picking. Waves of Thraxian raiders crashed into the falling Kingdom, who was unable to put up any real defense. The Thrxians were the final blow, and though they didn’t know it, they buried the remains of a thousand-year-old empire beneath the blood and bodies of its last inhabitants.
Finally, the Thraxians came to the lands of the Jeslith, smallfolk who lived in the pleasant and rolling hills along the coast. They too were ripe for plunder and were quickly pillaged, putting a number of villages to the axe.
However, over the course of a winter, when the Thraxians settled down in their houses to survive the cold, Jeslith went to work. In the cold and darkness, they prepared for the next year of the Thraxians invasion, and when the first raiders approached the bountiful hills they had raided the year prior they encountered a wall of briars and brambles some 30 feet high and unknowably deep, with vines as thick as a tree trunk and thorns as long and sharp as daggers. Facing this barrier, the Thraxians turned back. To the north, the Levishans stoutly defended their lands, prepared now for the Thraxian fury, and to the south, the Hrondring fought them to a standstill, their power, and ferocity matching that of their foes. For some time, the Thraxians were masters of northern Tysis, stretching nearly from coast to coast.
The Great Conqueror.
And, for ages, this was how it stood. Thraxians separating the Levishans from the rest of the world while raiding the southern lands of Alora, Killbar, and other independent cities. Then came the fierce and powerful Mekeraang the Conqueror.
Little is known about his younger years, however, by the age of 19 he had united a number of clans beneath his banner, and with his brother Grathang, commanded thousands of Thraxians. With this power, he did the only thing he could, he invaded the south. He split his force into two, with his brother commanding the forces against the Alorans and leading himself the forces against the Killbarans. Neither Kingdom was prepared for an invasion of such an unprecedented scale.
The Aloran wall was breached, and Alora was overrun, its people panicking and fleeing south, where many descendants remain to this day. Grathangs forces looted cities like Yanhelim, Hilea, Barchrus and the Golden city of Carithus. Even the Capital city of Alora, Yalis, was not safe. The Thraxians offered two options: Tithe, or be completely destroyed. Those who capitulated paid a heavy price but were left alone once the tribute was paid. Those who resisted were slaughtered, and the massive horde rolled southward.
The Killbarans, on the opposite side of the Toldiri hills, put up a much greater fight but were unable to resist both the might of the Thraxians and the raw power of the giants. Legions were put in the path of the horde to stop it and not one of them survived the encounter. Years into the Terror, Mekeraang did lose a few battles when the Killbarans developed improved tactics, but he quickly recovered and countered in ways that were never conceived of in Killbar.
Over the span of nearly 20 years, Mekeraang crushed Alora, conquered significant parts of Tyndaria, crushed and occupied nearly all of Killbar, save the Imerian Peninsula, and even forced the Hrondring to capitulate across most of the Toldiri hills, until finally the forced of Killbar and Tyndaria joined together to fight the menace, with the few Hrondring resistance fighters. Each nation has a different notion as to what happened at the end.
Killbarans believe that Mekeraang was defeated after slaying the Arch Magus by the Captain of the Praetorian Guard in single combat. The Tyndarians say that Mekeraang died of Scarlet Fester in his camp, being surrounded and cut off from all food and water for weeks by a Tyndarian Force, and the Thraxians themselves relay tales of Mekeraang facing down an entire company of charging Aloran Cavalry with his hand-picked Companions, going down fighting to the last warrior. No one knows the truth, but his death and the subsequent collapse of the Conquering Horde ended the Age of Kings and ushered in the current dating system of AR.
With the dissolution of the Conquering horde, the Thraxians eventually fell back to their northern territories as the Killbarans, Tyndarians, and their allies hunted as many of them down as they could. They finally withdrew into the forest of Thrax where they seem content, and eventually even lost connections to the wild tribes of the north outside of the forest itself. There, the Thraxians lived as warring tribes and raiding clans, leaving the worries of the world outside their lands to others who had better use for it, and there they stayed until they were approached by a Thraxian who had allied with Moduru and swore to lead them to glory unending. Quickly, many who sought that exact glory and power joined and a great host marched on Tyndaria and, eventually, occupied the city.
Though Moduru was eventually defeated and the occupation broke, many of the Thraxians stayed in Tyndaria, creating a large population that exists to this day.
That’s all for the history of Thrax. There is, of course, more beyond but this gets us caught up to the 4th age!
Until next time!