The Dark Age of Aphal has for many Ages been an enigmatic and shrouded time within history, with everyone knowing of the well documented rise of Antramar being the end of the dark age, but not much recorded history before that crucial point.
In the many tales and accounts of Midlon Hastorius it was well established that there were at his time 8 great realms of men in Aphal. Antrum, Gailen, Rivea, Searsh, Archov, Ustagrad, and Grayle, but how did these realms rise to be the stage for Antrum’s rise? Much was revealed at the expeditions of Aazor in the catacombs of the few scribes that survived there and kept track of the survivors of mankind after the Earthwipe.
It is said there that all western Aphal descends from the ancient offshoot kingdom of Antasia, which was made up of those who had left Aazor west to govern themselves freely during the mythical First Age of Man, when the gods still dwelt in the skies over Aph.
From there a supposed restorationist movement by the ancient line of Antarians sought to bring together the disparate tribes of remaining mankind on Aphal shortly after the war in heaven, with the first proto-kingdom being formed somewhere near modern Smana in the capital town of Gersrick.
Soon under the Antarian King Daros I, the Imroni, Valkorian,and Newellen chiefs would all pay tribute to the Antarian line, and integrate into the greater realm of Antasia centered around Gersrick.
Ebas was another former offshoot settlement of Aazor, a city founded around the great Magi Tower on the Old Ebon Mountain by the great Archmagus and Dragoon Sethaius which had been continued by successors and students of his after the war in heaven, extending its influence to absorb the Searshish, Graylish, and Davian peoples.
At this point many of the lesser tribes of the south had rallied around these powerful vestiges of the old world, and join and become subjects of these two realms, but in the north there were still larger tribes who were relatively isolated, such as the Archovi tribes of Gruglin, Dnedi, Stavia and Ryav, Astrarchi of Darg, Ustagradians and early Gailens.
The Gailens in particular were a group supposedly originally from the same frigid lands as the Astrarchi on the continent north of Aphal, but a massive population explosion as well as persecution for their druidic faith caused a massive migration to the Western coast of mainland Aphal lead by the king of their people, Yor, and for them to settle in the Gai swamps just north of Antasia, which is where they derived their name from Antasian Scholars.
This massive influx of Gailens to the borders worried some of the noble Antasian houses, with the nobles of the Imroni clan of Savison leading a force meant for diplomacy, but that would lead to a disastrous skirmish claiming many lives. It looked as though war may be inevitable between Gailens and Antasian’s, but the Antarian king Daros II would marry his eldest daughter Ellaria to the king Yor, securing peace between the Gailens from their city of Gaius Rhun.
With this the Gailens would slowly integrate into the realm, with Yor’s house of Yorin joining the noble clans as a peer, and although the King Maren Antarian would die with no heir he would eventually be succeeded by the grandchild of Ellaria, Daros III, in a Candexes council, leading to a disastrous civil war between the great clans of Antasia who resented the rule of a Gailen’s kin.
The house of Tulon would capture Gersrick for a time and rule as kings, then they were defeated by the loyalists of Daros III who would somewhat stabilize the kingdom.
In Ebas, settlers had been generally spreading south and north into the provinces of Grayle and Searsh, but both still called Ebas their capital and paid the city tribute. With the Ebasoni Archmagus Kings, the city would see tremendous strides in the rediscovery and recording of the art of Magus, turning Ebas into a great city and greatly benefiting the realm as Searsh made magical advances in both agriculture and metalworking.
The faith of the Searshish, who held Lunan in high reverence and used there mastery over the Magus his boons provided to supply a great bounty of crops to the kingdom, and great weapons and armor of metal forged from iron and bronze, there importance to the structure of Ebasian culture would lead to their faith spreading south as well.
In Grayle they would utilize Magus gifted to them by the Archmagus kings to carve themselves great halls of stone out of the mountains as was done in Ebas, with there many lords of Ebas having residences in the luxurious Highholmes in the Earthdagger. All of these regions were still bound under common kinship and under the Archmage Kings of Ebas however and enjoyed prosperity as they rebuilt the world in the east.
Both of the realms of Ebas and Antasia would fall suddenly however in a cataclysmic event that saw the Old Ebon mountains erupt, freeing the dormant Fire Wyvern Moltencrag and leading to the complete destruction of Ebas and the creation of the barren Ashen waste separating Searsh and Grayle.
In the west, the Antasian King Daros V Antarian had been dealing with issues of his own, since Daros III, raids from the southern Nexoni tribes had become more frequent, and dealing with the constant threat of insurrection from the Savisons and Tulons, they could not be combated effectively.
The rising southern kingdom of Antramar often came to the aid of Antasia, with their elite forces being paid a great bounty to aid in striking into Nexoni lands, since the Antramarians were far more interested in trading with the Antasians than in plundering them.
Soon however, civil war could not be avoided, and the Tulons, Savisons, and Valkorans began to divide Antasia, and even as Daros V was beginning to manage these rebels, Moltencrag arrived from the east, burning the city of Gersrick to the ground, scattering the already divided kingdom.
(the end of Antasia while under the rule of Daros V would lead to many future Gimsonians believing it was an ill omen and bad luck to name a son after the father.)
Those that remained from Antasia, fearful of the Wyvern’s return, would mostly forsake the lands native to them, with the noble houses migrating with their distinct culture groups forming the successor realms of Rivea, Imro, and Gailen.
The Rivean kingdom, headed by the house of Tulon, would leave their capital of Newell after it was mostly destroyed in a mighty storm, and come to settle the city of Canilly on the banks of the East Lyans delta in the east, claiming the vast valuable farmland between the South Lyans and there new home, soon they would discover there new close neighbor, Searsh.
They would however soon come to clash with the Searshish over the differences in their culture’s, with the Searshish and these new Riveans both acknowledging common ancestry from Allunas, but disagreeing on the priority of the spirits, with Rivean’s having placed Lanan as the most holy and Searshish reserving that position for Lunan.
Both cities of Canilly and Searshall also would both become tense over the issue of Herofell, a great lone stretching mountain between their territories which was supposedly where the ancient king of all men, Centinuus, had died fighting Exandese days before the fall of Aph.
It was a place of special significance and value of pilgrimage to both, the Riveans more so for the deific status of Centinuus in their culture, and the Searshish for the great Lumpas woods surrounding the mountain, which had been a place of worship and of their sacred rituals since the time of Ebas.
Many wars would henceforth be fought between these two kingdoms, the possession of Herofell would change hands several times but none could ever hold the land for long enough to establish permanent settlement.
The Graylish to the south had been called upon by Searsh to aid them in these wars several times over these ages, but since the fall of Ebas they had become isolated in their mountain halls.
They had forsaken the pursuit of Magus believing that had been what had caused the doom of Ebas, and had become a kingdom which prized practical knowledge and virtue of order and law above all else, still they would occasionally send what help they could to Searsh since they were of kindred blood, but never enough to give them the decisive advantage against the Riveans.
The Antramarians of the south would continue to grow, eventually subduing the Nexoni tribe after finding their ranks bolstered with their own massive influx of Antasian refugees fleeing the destruction of Gersrick.
Eventually, the Antramarians would slowly trickle northward, reseeding the supposedly cursed lands of Antasia, and refounding Gersrick as the city of Smana, the now vast territory between Antrum and Smana would begin to lay the foundation for Antramars ascension into the mightiest empire on Aph.