Maha'i History

Prehistory

For most of history, the Maha'i were merely a tribal, marginal people, living in the barrenness of the unwanted Niktean Wastes who received little attention from the surrounding civilizations and demanded little. No one remembers when the city of Jevereshk was founded. However, oral legends say that it was upon the large rock outcropping upon which the city was built that a blue dragon that had been had threatened to destroy the first Maha'i created was killed by a silver dragon, the incarnation of Teresh and guardian of the race. The site later became one of the first Maha'i settlements and is still revered as a sacred city. Slowly, villages were settled and agriculture arose along the banks of the River Maakhin. Some tribes expanded eastward to occupy the Savannah of Terztefr, driving out the feral beasts and only slightly less feral goblins that were its previous inhabitants.

The Dark Times

The Fifty-Second Dark Times were a watershed event for Maha'i society and history. Whereas in previous ages the Dark Times had been disastrous for Jenoa, the Maha'i had survived by dint of their marginality and the inhospitable nature of the Niktean Wastes. However, with the coming of the forces of Arkenos, they found themselves drawn into the fray of the conflict. Their incipient cities and growing, stable population, made them both a new target for the invaders and potential fighters for the defense. Messengers from the other races, who had never before paid the Maha'i much mind, appealed to them for aid as the attackers moved southward and refugees ran before the onslaught. Their mustered forces were scanty, but they joined the war, but were driven back to Jevereshk, where they found themselves besieged and helpless as the land around them was burned and pillaged. At this moment of greatest despair, the tales say, a human warrior astride a magnificent silver dragon appeared with others and drove back the forces of evil. A great duel between the warrior and the captain of the enemy’s army was waged at the peak of Jevereshk, and when the unsought warrior had slain his foe, the enemy and his dragon-mount fell, and buildings were cast down in their wake. The battles moved forward and northward, and into other regions of Jenoa, until the invaders were wholly cast out; but the war never returned to Jevereshk. There upon the promontory was rebuilt over the next century the Temple of Teresh, with two towers: one for Teresh and the other for his regent and similitude, Markus the Noble.

Rebuilding (52DT.001 to 311)

After the Dark Times, the Maha'i set to the difficult task of rebuilding what had been lost, and in many cases it took centuries to recover wholly, for much poison had infested the land that only time would wash away. It was during this time, while Jevereshk still reeled from the blow the war had dealt it, that the eastern city of Gtarrei began to assert its own civic identity. Though the Eastern Maha'i had been bequeathed with better land than their Western counterparts, it was with the cultural exchange that had occurred during the Dark Times that gave them the techniques and crops that would make the land fruitful. Such exchange continued as the Knights of the Silver Dragons, newly founded, travelled around the world to rid it of the evils that had escaped the expulsion of the hosts of Arkenos. It was on the model of the Knights of the Silver Dragons that a small group of Maha'i champions north of Gtarrei united themselves with an oath, calling themselves the Order of Faris Attineen – the Order of the Dragon Knight – named in honor of Markus the Noble.

After the extermination of the wild dragons, the Maha'i were once more isolated from significant contact with the other races. The Dark Times had taken a harder toll on the surrounding cultures, and it would be centuries before they recovered. The Maha'i entered a period of relative stagnation as they restored their infrastructure to the pre-war status. During this era the cultural mores of the tribes reoriented more solidly around a settled lifestyle. The Kathaara tribe gained control of Jevereshk and established the Nem Sarthi clan’s dynasty under its first High Queen. After several relatively uneventful centuries of existence in which it essentially acted as guarantor of the peace on the Savannahs, the Order of Faris Attineen was quite notably in decline. This trend reversed, however, when one among their ranks began claiming visions. This knight, a cleric named Hifeksian of Ledakkak, quickly rose in stature to be revered as a prophet, preaching that Markus had been a valiant Maha'i warrior; hence, his pivotal victory in Jevereshk, of all places. However, the Knights of the Silver Dragons had covered up this fact and claimed the victory as their own, deceiving the world until now. Armed with this militant new doctrine, the Order revived and began to exercise its power, rapidly attaining influence over the entire Savannah and pushing upon the Wastes, which had long been under the reign of Jevereshk.

The First Maha'i Civil War (52DT.312-323)

Eventually, word came from the eastern tribes of the Wastes to Jevereshk that the warriors of Gtarrei were pressing against them and forcing them back. The High Queen at the time was appalled at the audacity of their kinspeople, and quickly called together the matriarchs of the tribes for a grand council, at which they decided upon war. Battalions of males, young and old, were assembled and sent to fight their marauding brethren. Thus began the First War of the Maha'i, and for one and ten years it lasted, with deep advancements made by both sides. Nevertheless, in the end Jevereshk won out, though to great cost, and Gtarrei was wholly defeated. The Order of Faris Attineen was disbanded, and its members who did not escape were put to death as heretics and warmongers. Gtarrei itself was sacked and its treasures carried back to Jevereshk, whose High Queen installed a pliant monarch on Gtarrei’s throne, charging her with the execution of the will of the High Queen alone.

Aftermath (52DT.324-420)

The defeat of Gtarrei had drastic consequences on its society and government. The queen, though attached to Jevereshk by name and oath, was weak, the forces and men of Gtarrei and its holding having been exhausted during the long war. Its frailty left it prey to raiding bands on its borders, who would pillage outlying towns and carry off their best men and women. Though originally it was thought that they were merely killed, these were the first forays from the races up north in the slave trade. In particular, one independent city known as Clefthaven, located on the eastern coast of Gallidus, became a hub of this infernal practice.

Meanwhile, hundreds of leagues away the First Golden Age of Jevereshk had been inaugurated. Not only were they proud of their newfound military might and the unity of the Niktean tribes, but they also found themselves to be a large hub of overland trade. Over the preceding centuries, the other races had begun to retake lands that had been laid waste in the Dark Times, and recently they founded the cities of Hammerdine, to the north of Jevereshk, and Tidewater City, to the southwest. With the myriad pirates that roamed the waters of the western coast of Gallidus, overland travel was much more secure, and the Maha'i utilized their new strength to ensure the safe passage of multitudinous caravans to, through and from the Wastes. In Jevereshk the arts flourished, the Great University was chartered and built, and the Temple of Teresh was torn asunder and its towers rebuilt taller and more majestic.

Their progress and pleasure came with its costs, however, and as a consequence, Jevereshk in its haughty negligence turned its eyes away from Gtarrei. Thus, Gtarrei declined in power until it was nothing more than a mere shadow of its former glory. Its queen could command little more than the few villages that immediately surrounded her city, and every year the raiders grew bolder until they were rumored to approach Gtarrei itself. As the fires of their rape of the countryside could be seen on the horizon, the queen of Gtarrei sent a desperate epistle to Jevereshk for aid with the suspected explanation for the attacks, that their kindred were being dragged off into slavery and those that did not acquiesce were being murdered. However, the aid requested was fated to never arrive. In Markazi, the Order of Faris Attineen had regrouped and in the years of Gtarrei’s decay had been gathering unto itself forces from all the tribes of the Savannah. Before the epistle even reached Jevereshk, the Order entered Gtarrei and swore its fealty and services to the queen. Even as the epistle was being read, the resurrected Order sallied forth and defeated the raiders, driving them back to the northern borders of the land.

The Second Maha'i Civil War (52DT.421-425)

By the time Jevereshk’s response, troubled about the news of slavery, arrived, it was too late: the queen of Gtarrei and the Order of Faris Attineen, now allied, had declared themselves separate and independent from Jevereshk. The tribes of the Savannah of Terztefr, all save the Mawkhavi, swore their allegiance to their new high leaders and converted to their unique religion. When an expeditionary force from Artabbek was sent to ascertain the situation in Gtarrei, they were turned back. Jevereshk, once more enraged at the sedition of Gtarrei, sent its armies to combat the knights of Order, but were turned back not only by the sword, but by the arcane magicks, the study of which the Order had fostered. Great duels were fought there in the borders of the Wastes, and the lights could be seen afar off. As the war progressed, however, it began to take its toll on Jevereshk’s prosperity, for the Wastes in the west, now less guarded, were becoming more and more dangerous. When a wild dragon, long concealed in the desert sands, attacked a caravan from Hammerdine and required all the forces that remained of Jevereshk’s army in the West to subdue it, the High Queen called back the forces from the border and personally went to sue for peace with the queen of Gtarrei. A treaty was struck, and the lands of the Mawkhavi – which straddled the border of the Wastes and the Savannah – were designated as the frontier between the two nations.

Jevereshk Retreats, Hammerdine Rises and Tleros Plots (52DT.426-550)

Jevereshk, now chastened by its inability to vanquish Gtarrei once more, returned its attention to minding affairs of trade. Little known to them, several years earlier an elven wizard named Melchor Rivengol had created the dragon orbs, empowering the Knights of the Silver Dragons to once more extend their reach across the continents. They sent emissaries to each of the major cities of the world at the time, seeking out their support and friendship as well as looking for locations in which they could base themselves. Though the High Queen received the Knights cordially, she politely declined allowing them a presence in Jevereshk, as they would not willfully permit the lodging of chromatic dragons – even those dominated – on Maha'i lands. They then turned their attentions to small but growing Hammerdine to the north, and there they found a more receptive audience to their request. Thus was the chapter of the Knights of the Silver Dragons established in Hammerdine, and began the long amity between the government of Hammerdine and the Knights. Under the Knights’ guardianship and patronage, Hammerdine quickly began its ascent in wealth and influence.

Hammerdine’s growth was viewed with jealousy and wariness by the mighty Tlerian Empire to the north. While Tleros was only a confederation of cities, loosely bound together by their allegiance to their emperor whose throne was in the northernmost Gallidan city, Sethrayin, when united they could be particularly formidable as a war machine. Fearing that Hammerdine would eclipse its own cities in repute and trade and that the Knights might present a threat to their suzerainty over northern Gallidus, the Tlerian Empire resolved to take Hammerdine, if necessary, and began conspiring against the Knights.