Dark Age of Dunland
History of Humans on Sollus
The history of the human people of the world of Sollus can be divided into a number of distinct ages: The Age of Legends (Paradise, Captivity, Exodus, Diaspora, Civilization), The Age of Heroes, The Age of the Empire, and the current Dark Age.
The difference between History and Legendry is an odd and sometimes difficult distinction to make. In the world of Sollus, there are many folk from commoners to kings who believe the stories of the Age of Legends to be mere tales and stories; for the pious, since much of this subject matter is taught at Temple, at least instructive tales or parables. These same people may believe that they know the actual history of the Age of Heroes right down to which persons fought in which battles or did which mighty deeds.
According to the scholars of history, both those within the Temple establishment and those able to study on their own, this way of looking at things is exactly backward. The events of the Age of Legends were initially passed down as oral traditions before the development of various means of writing, however when original written sources from Tribes scattered all across the world in the Diaspora are compared, the events recorded are much the same, implying a high degree of reliability. When the same comparisons are made of stories from the Age of Heroes, many of which were written down at or close to the time of the events described, it is found that there is much bias and contradiction in the telling, depending on who was telling the story and to which side of the conflict they belonged.
God originally created Humans on Sollus (or possibly created this world for them and brought them here from somewhere else) and placed them to live in a wondrous place called Eden, where plenty of delicious and nutritious food was available by merely picking it, and great trees provided shelter, and the Humans could easily live quite comfortably without any real labor at all. They had plenty of time for leisure, for playing, for singing, for thinking and dreaming and worshipping God. For a long time (and they were a long-lived people) they were very happy in Eden.
Then some who liked to travel to the edges of this garden-spot and look out into the wild world noticed others trying to come to Eden and being turned back by the Guardians. These Guardians were powerful beings (descriptions vary) placed around the perimeters of Eden by God, both to help wanderers from within avoid accidentally leaving the safety of Eden, and to maintain that safety by keeping out monsters from the world. Some of the edge-travellers eventually managed to speak to those seeking entry, and were told by them that God was keeping Humanity ignorant inside the garden, that there were secrets of the world that God did not want them to know, secret knowledge that would make Humans as powerful as God. The outsiders offered to teach this knowledge to Humans if the Humans would help them gain entry into Eden.
This story, quickly passed around among the Humans, caused a great deal of argument and debate. God Himself participated more obviously in Human affairs on a daily basis back then, and sent His Avatars and Prophets to participate in the discussion. As always, He emphasized to the Humans that they had free will and the choice was theirs, but He also informed them that the outsiders were called Snake People and that they could not be trusted, and that He Himself would teach the Humans everything there was to know, within time and as they were ready to learn.
Unfortunately, the choice was made to admit the Snake People to Eden, and upon entry the Snake People revealed themselves as what they were: shapechangers and sorcerers with magical powers far beyond those of any Human, and which they had no intention of sharing. The natural form of the Snake People had the body of a giant snake, some 5’ to 20’ long depending on the age of the individual, with the scaled torso and arms of a Human, and a head that could appear either Human-like or snake-like. They could also assume a fully-Human appearance (which was of course what they had used when enticing the Humans to allow them entry to Eden) or a fully snake-like appearance of either natural or larger size. Any of the Snake People had the power to look upon an individual Human and give orders which the Human must obey (some Humans proved resistant to these commands; these were quickly killed or imprisoned).
Soon, all of Eden was in the hands and coils of the Snake People, and the Humans were their slaves. This condition lasted for thousands of years; the exact dates are unknown, as the Human slaves had no means of keeping records other than by oral tradition. The Snake People forbade Humans the worship of God, but always some carried on in secret, praying that God forgive this error and free His people from the dominion of the Snake People. The Snake People had their own religion, which required frequent Human sacrifices, and of which Humans were prevented from ever learning any other details.
Finally there came a time when God heeded His people’s prayers for forgiveness and began to arrange their freedom from the Snake People. More and more, He sent Prophets to tell the Humans what He would do; but with these Prophets He gave selected Humans (the First Saints) a new power, to channel a diluted form of the positive energy of God himself to heal, to do miracles, and to strike blows against the enemy. “You have placed yourselves in this situation by your own efforts,” He told them, “and although I will help you as your God, you must free yourselves also largely by your own efforts.”
The Rebellion took the Snake People completely by surprise, as they had thought the Humans powerless within their coils. Many on both sides died in the fighting, but when God saw that the Snake People had been sufficiently damaged and dismayed as to be unable to pursue, He told the Humans to go forth and leave the Land of the Snake People, which had formerly been Eden.
“But we want to return to Eden as it was, to the perfect life that You gave us there,” they protested. This God denied them. “Yes, I gave you a perfect life and a perfect home, but you threw it away. From now on you must go out into the wide world and make your own way, earning your food and shelter by the sweat of your own efforts. I will always be beside you with My Prophets and Holy Priests to care for you and teach you and answer your prayers, but the daily effort must be yours.”
To make it clear that Humans could never return to Eden as it was, He sent down huge fireballs from the skies, and made fire and earthquakes rise up from the ground, so that all of it was destroyed. Then He instructed the people to move north, then to spread out to west and east to the ends of the earth, to be fruitful and multiply and enjoy the new homes that He would teach them to build and the food that He would teach them to gather, and always to remember the Lord their God in thanks and praise for HIs gifts.
Following God’s instructions, the Humans travelled north from the place that had been Eden, and then the Land of the Snake People, and then nothing but ashes and smoke and melted rock. After much travel, they encountered the Great Sea, and found its coastal areas green and fertile. Some Humans chose to stay there, while others heeded God’s command to spread out over all the earth, and continued journeying to new lands to the west and east, then eventually further north on the far side of the Great Sea. Wherever they went, some chose to stay and settle, and thus the Tribes of Humans were born, as separated groups developed their own cultures and languages to suit the places where they chose to make their homes.
As the Tribes made their way toward the north of the continent now called Gaeos, they encountered the Barrier Mountains. They expected difficulty crossing these tall and forbidding peaks, but were unprepared for seemingly-unnatural rockfalls blocking their paths, and for gigantic, ghostly figures appearing before them to warn them away in their own languages, stating that the lands beyond the Barrier Mountains were already occupied and were forbidden to Humans. Some Tribes were forced to turn back; others forced their way onward and were never heard from again. The Humans named these unseen lands beyond the mountains the Forbidden Lands and went to find easier settlements elsewhere.
The Diaspora never truly ended, as some Tribes became dissatisfied with the lands they had originally chosen and decided to move on, or as those in the east encountered non-human enemies such as the Orcs and Beastfolk who outnumbered and defeated them in war, driving them westward to displace other Tribes, a continual flow of warfare and defeat and movement as each Tribe sought its permanent homeland. Over a period of more thousands of years, Humans did spread into every accessible place on Earth.
The final recognized phase of the Age of Legends is the time of Civilization. Humans had needed few tools of any kind in Eden. In the Rebellion they had learned the weapons of war, and during the Exodus had learned new tools for survival. All of these tools were made of stone and wood and animal fibers, except for what metal items survived from the looting during the Rebellion.
Some of the earliest Tribal settlements, those along the southern coast of the Great Sea, and in the Fertile Valleys of the Midlands to the east, developed agriculture so that they could have a more reliable food supply, rather than hunting and gathering for their food each day. With the development of agriculture came the cities, and the division of Tribes into classes of laborers, artisans, warriors, and the leisured classes of merchants, landowners, priests, administrators, and rulers.
For a time, all was well. Some cities fought with others over the most fertile lands, but many were peaceful places of study, learning, and worship, and traded their new knowledge with less civilized Tribes for rarities from faraway places. Arts and sciences were developed that advanced the well-being of all humankind, such as the beginnings of metal-working and ceramics, and the domestication of animals.
But such is Human nature that idleness and the search for knowledge can lead to greed and the search for power. Human scholars of the cities eventually learned to contact other beings in the Spirit World, and the practice of Spirit Magic was born. Some of the spiritual beings contacted were helpful servants of God, bringing useful knowledge to the people. Others were not so kindly, and as some scholars again sought the very power of God for themselves, these entities were pleased to lead them on for purposes of their own. Eventually, powerful evil beings called Demons even taught the perversion of God’s gift of channeling His positive energy for works of good, into the channeling of negative energy for the calling of Demons, the animation of the dead as evil undead, and the infliction of harm and disease. Thus were created the first Unholy Priests and Unholy Warriors.
Those scholars, warriors, priests and rulers that took up the Unholy ways soon were in control of a number of the earliest cities, and sought to spread their teachings, and their power. These cities became known as the Dark Cities, and although they found it too difficult to conquer the newer cities and barbarian tribes of Gaeos and some parts of the Midlands, they made threats and demanded tribute, and sought to stamp out the worship of God in favor of the worship of the Demons that gave them their power.
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