An Excerpt From:
Musings On a Time Long Past
By: Lucan Aelianus
The first recorded encounter between men and elves took place over 1000 years ago. The elves had always been there, it was the humans who were exploring and expanding. The elves were disdainful of the humans, but not hateful, and the encounter was uneventful. Over the next few centuries, the humans met and integrated themselves into every other race and culture. At least, the peaceful cultures. The first encounter with Lizardfolk was another matter entirely, but this is not the time or place for that story.
As is the nature of things, this first encounter was not the most diplomatic. In fact, the group of humans that ran across the Elves were a group of raiders. Considering the nature of raiders to live on the edge of society, be outcast, and roam far and wide in search of targets and potential strongholds, this is not a complete surprise. What is sad is that this nature led to centuries of bloodshed between these peoples. Groups of raiders tried again and again to pillage Elven villages, which were generally better stocked and far wealthier than their normal fare of human settlements or nomadic tribes. In an effort to stop the generally pointless but annoying attacks, the Elves searched out and struck against the nearby human settlements, none of which were raiders. This sparked a back and forth action, and a deep hatred began forming. It was not until long after this, after some Elves began studying the humans, that the mistake was realized.
It took a lot longer to make up for the mistake. The peacemaking efforts of both sides worked for a long time before the Elves accepted humans into their society. Some say that this may have been facilitated by the actions of Neebo Dumek, a human who single-handedly took on an Orc village to save his daughter. The elves deny this had any influence on the change of heart, but elves are known for their pointy ears and silver tongues. Regardless, the time was remembered. After nearly 150 years had passed, the elves proposed a new scale of time, F.E. (Fricai Elandus, The Friends of Strangers or Friendship With Those Who Are Not From This Land), and labeled the year of acceptance as year 0. The Humans quickly adopted the timescale, but the other civilizations were more reluctant. Those who lived with humans and even some of those who didn’t began using F.E. but most also kept using their own time scales. Generally these people will use F.E. in their daily lives, but use their racial time scale when recording things such as historical events.
In a very general sense, before F.E. humans were nomadic. Some in the more extreme or isolated regions were hunter-gatherers, but the vast majority were herders or tradesmen. The ones that were farming still moved every few years when the soil became less than desirable. However, when humans began learning from the elves, specifically about conservation concepts such as crop rotation, the number of farmers began to grow, and many started permanent settlements. This angered some nomads as it permanently removed portions of the land from grazing availability. Refusing to settle down, some of these nomads turned to raiding the settlements as a new career. Some did not participate in this agricultural enlightenment, as those in the Southern regions opted to remain nomadic.
It was during the second and third century F.E. that raiding really took off, much to the farmers’ dismay. By this time there were enough communities to make most nomadic herders pressed for space, although the travelling tradesmen were having a field day. However, this same abundance of communities was too good to be true for the raiders. Indeed it was too good to be true, as the sudden spike in raiders also meant the raiders had competition. Much blood was spilled in that era, raiders, farmers, and tradesmen alike. Eventually farmers began working together for defense, and began fortifying their villages. Some communities even set up networks of local settlements that would come to their aid if need be. In the face of these developments, as well as their own competition, raiders lost traction near the end of the third century F.E. and going into 300 FE, much of the human population in the Eastern region had settled down in a community.
Continuing the collaboration efforts, some communities set up a council of elders to lead them. A few of the networks even did so, creating councils with elders from every village. Everyone was required to contribute to the defense. In a village this might mean helping out in its construction. For the networks this might be one village donating resources to another village that was training warriors, or providing labor to build another village’s defenses. Over time, many of these councils developed leaders, generally the most powerful of the elders. Some of them were called Lords.
This style of leadership soon evolved into a Lord, the head of his village, with a council of Nobles, heads of their respective villages. While Nobles took care of the day-to-day operation of their own village, they paid tribute to the lord, who in turn provided for the well-being of the other villages, usually by sustaining an army or building a fort to retreat to, but also building storehouses for drought and winter, or improving roads and irrigation. This way of life became common by the mid 500’s. Originally, each village had a council that selected the Noble from among themselves, and in turn, the Nobles selected the Lord from among themselves. However, as powerful Lords became established, the Nobles had less and less control over the Lord, and the Lords began to pass the Lordship down to their sons, and it became a family right to rule.
With the rise of Lords, who could raise large armies or militia in defense of their lands, the raiders became less and less successful. The majority of them moved to the Southern region, whose huge nomadic families were beginning to settle down. The families had grown so large that it became very impractical to constantly move around, and their culture was such that dividing the family was not an option. However, very few of them were used to not moving, or even building permanent structures, and were therefore easy pickings for the raiders. For the next 100 years or so, the people thrived with little enemies, plenty of land, food, and wealth, and the Lords rose in power, expanding their territory and influence. By the middle of the 600’s, the Lords had expanded so far that they ran into each borders. While the people of the outer territories had plenty of land left to expand into, the inner territories had reached their size limit, and yet the population was growing, and the Lords had more and more power, and a need for more land. Bloodshed of all kinds, war, treachery, and sabotage were rampant.
Meanwhile, the outer territories remained peaceful. The Northwestern territories were close to the elven lands, and were therefore greatly influenced by them. The Elves saw the turmoil that arose from the small territories, and attempted to teach the nearby human territories some things they had learned. They taught them that by uniting great and small territories, everyone was better off and there was peace in the small territories. These unions eventually led to the founding of the first country in 667 FE. This country, called Norweg, had a high ruler, called a King, who ruled over a council of Lords, exactly as a Lord ruled over a council of Nobles. The rest of the humans, however, without the influence of the Elves, did not see the wisdom in this, content to squabble and kill over wealth and land.
Who knows if the rest of mankind will comes to its collective senses before it tears itself to shreds. For many people, it is already too late.