A Short History of Esper
Long ago, the Elven nation of Il’Valiran, was a symbol of shining knowledge. A beacon of the magical and practical arts to all around, as many came from bordering lands to seek council and advice from the King. To their north, was a Dwarven kingdom of Stulder’s Hold, where the dwarves mined and lived in their mountain homes. To the east was Osmandios, the dark nation, founded by Dragonborn, Teiflings, and Gnomes. To the Northeast was Gruntyl, not a nation, but a wild land, filled with roaming Orc hordes, and tribes of Barbarian Humans.
Il’Valiran was a proud nation, but beneath its shining glimmer, was a host of problems. While the elves were wise in the way of magic and artistry, they were also arrogant. Seeing themselves as superior, all other races where subjected to their wills and desires, and were seen as little more than servants, and often as less than servants. The races at the time, that were subjugated, were complacent one, Halflings who went on with their lives farming and growing food for their master and themselves. Gnomes, whose brilliant minds were mined for any knowledge, but not respected for their brilliance. Even orcs were used, as military and working might.
It was then, that the kingdom of Osmandios, being the country that provided most of the slaves to Il’Valiran and to the Dwarven Kingdom of Stulder’s Hold (important note: the dwarves did not keep slaves, but more of a system of self governed servitude. These servants were allowed to live on the surface and farm the land, but were required to give the Dwarves 50% of their yearly take) , started sending parties to the north and south to capture the human barbarians. They had discovered, that though, short lived, the humans, were stout and intelligent creatures, who could learn nearly any skill with little effort, and could be bred easily. A fact that would prove to be their undoing.
Il’Valiran, started purchasing human slaves almost immediately. The humans were extremely versatile, and could be used to farm, fight against the Orcish hordes to the northeast, and even be taught magic and the ability to create and build things. At one point it was even in fashion for noble born to have almost half wild barbarian humans as personal bodyguards. Humans, became the main servant force for the elves.
And it was this way, for over 3000 years. Osmandios, eventually was pushed out of the slave trade, as Il’Valiran and Stulder’s Hold, started letting their humans breed and form communities. And although a major trading nation still, for bringing trade goods from a mysterious place across the eastern Sea of Wells, Osmandios lost quite a bit of power with the loss of the slave trade. And oddly enough, they were the first nation to free their slaves, about 2000 years ago.
Stulder’s Hold grew ever more powerful, but the dwarves themselves grew more elusive and secretive. With human inhabitants, farming the lands above and working the trading conveys to Il’Valiran, the dwarves disappeared into the mountains, ruling over the land, but from deep within. The humans above were split into areas called Stones, and each stone being controlled by a chosen human, called the Stonelord. These Stonelords , reported directly to the Dwarven king’s representatives. Eventually, the Stonelords split their lands even further, creating liege lords, and a type of human nobility emerged on the surface, self governed, but beholden to the Dwarves.
Meanwhile, unrest was starting to grow in Il’Valiran. The Elves in all their hubris did not see the populations of humans growing. Humans, it seemed, bred quickly, and though they were short lived, they made lasting impressions. At this stage, the humans started seeking justice for misdeeds and trying to improve their lives. Believing they were superior to the humans in every way, the elves started tightening their grip , and imposing harsh penalties. This is what led to the Screaming Revolution.
About 1500 years ago, a group of thousands of human mothers filled the Square of Retra, in the city of Il’Valiran. They were their because, their children ages 13-18, had been taken from their homes, to be enlisted to fight against the Orcs, that had started raiding for many weeks. With tears in their eyes and mercy on their lips, they pleaded for the current king, King Telvalet, to send their children home. Surprisingly, the King was amongst a growing number of elven lords that were in favor of disbanding the servitude of all races, as Osmandios had done 500 years prior. Unfortunately, the king was on a trade mission to Osmandios, and Retalen Del’Var, Grand Wizard of and high advisor of the king, was the one who stepped onto the balcony of the royal palace that day. In his arrogance and disgust at such an unsightly rabble below, he ordered guards to remove the humans from his sight. The guards tried to do so peacefully, but there were too many, and their jobs were slow. It was then, in his disgust, that Retalen, cast a fireball into the crowd of grieving mothers. It is often said, although just myth, that King Telvalet, while returning from his trip from Osmandios, heard the scream of thousands of woman that very minute. And while, he may not have, many people did, and thus started the Screaming Revolution.
It lasted ten years. The humans, built walls around their communities and trained armies. One by one, elven towns and cities began to fall by the human wave. Not all Elves were as arrogant and cruel, and a large number of outland elves, having lived amongst the humans, joined with them. It was also, the Halfling, Orcs, gnomes, a handful of dwarves. Seeing a way to gain more power from the downfall of the Elven kingdom, Osmandios lent their aid as well. And in the end, the Capital city of Il’Valiran fell to the humans, while the last remnants of the elven resistance, with Retalen at its head was drove west, across the Sea of Undar, to lands unknown. The Esperian Kingdom, was born.
The first King, Esper Kint, had seen more than enough bloodshed and moved quickly to establish equality amongst the people. He granted lands to several new dukes, among them humans, elves, Halflings, gnomes, one dwarf, and even a half-orc. He fought to insure that his lands would not be separated by race with these appointments. He also signed a peace accord with Osmandios. But, it was at this time also, that the free Orcish hordes in the northeast, saw their advantage and began their relentless attacks on his kingdom.
When the word reached Stulder’s Hold of the human revolution, the dwarves, although not as guilty of mistreatment of humans as the elves, feared for their nations. They started to see the large human population above as a threat, and not the boon it had been. The King at the time, Kergor Stonefist, came up with a mandate. This mandate was soon to be known to many as the Harvest. It was declared to the above population, that there would be only one child allowed per marriage. This was to be overseen by the Stonelords and his liege men, who were exempt from the mandate. When a woman gave birth, the first born was to be branded, to be recognized as a lawful citizen of the Stuldar’s keep. Any additional child born to that woman, except in the case of the death of the first child, would not receive a brand. Every year, the Stormlords were to do an audit, any unbranded child found who were 4 years old or older, were rounded of and taken to the border of Esperian, where they were released forced to leave Stulder’s Hold.
As you can imagine, the first time this happened, was quite a shock for the people of the Esperian Kingdom. But, soon, they realized what happen. This event actually became an annual ceremony for the Esperians, called the Great Migration of Lost Souls. On the same day every year, people started going to the site of the migration, to take these children into their homes, or as apprentices, and churches for new acolytes. Soon, a city named the Path of the Unwanted arose in that spot, with the sole purpose of waiting once a year for the Migration, to round up the children. Temples of every god or goddess line the path, as well as agents of recruitment looking for young hands. There is even a military organization of the crown called the Legion of Dust, made solely out of these abandoned children. And for 1500 years it has been this way.