The History of Thalassa
Before the Cataclysm
Before the waters rose, reckoning was done by time since the founding of Tiar, the capital of the Costanao Empire. The story of how that empire came to stretch from one end of the Known World to the other is a long one and no longer well known. But, it is said that there were a thousand years of peace under Costani rule.
However, by 2271, Emperor Vanatius VII faced an insurrection in the north known as the Warlocks Insurrection. Old and in failing health with a son he considered “weak-willed, profligate, and foolish,” the Emperor made a pact with a circle of warlocks who also opposed the insurrection. They turned the Emperor into a Rider, a free-floating spirit that could leave its host body at will and take over another, destroying and supplanting its personality.
Over the decades it took to defeat the northern warlocks and restore order, Vanatius showed great force of rule by remaining a wise and benevolent ruler. In the deciding battle of the insurrection (in 2309 FT,) he wrested control of a massive undead army from the warlocks and turned it against them.
Instead of laying the army to rest, he sends them south into Maranaj to quell what is understood to have been a fairly minor uprising. He then leaves the army in place and takes the Maranji king’s youngest son as a ward against future trouble. Two years later, his own body badly decayed from hosting the Rider, the emperor took over his hostage’s body.
This betrayal plus the constant irritation of having an undead army parked in their province led to a nearly-constant insurrection in Maranaj. This drew more troops into the area, which encouraged other regions, long thought pacified, into revolt.
By 2416 FT, when new lands were discovered to the west, cracks were showing all around the edges of the empire. That didn’t stop the Emperor from sending hundreds of thousands of men, women, zombies, skeletons, ghouls, vampires, and darker things to conquer the new world.
The new world proved much harder to conquer than the Emperor expected. The native elves and their army of Qund fought back the invasion, but as such massive cost that it took them nearly five years to send a counter-invasion.
The invaders land on Kiolva, cross the channel, and drive deep into Costanao, attempting to capture the capital. They are met by an army of men, golems, and undead who fight them across the continent. The bloody conflict goes on for more than twenty years. The elves have strength of numbers and better battlefield magic, but the Emperor has his necromancers, who raise the dead after each battle and send them back to fight again.
In 2458, the human general Samir Perdido turns his army against the Emperor, captures the capital, and sends out a missive that the Rider is imprisoned in the capital so that he can’t leave the Emperor’s current host. His message also calls “all those who would remake the Empire” to come to the Imperial City in good faith to negotiate what needs to be negotiated. By early the next year, nearly all of the Known World’s leaders plus the Elven commanders have gathered in Tiar to negotiate a peace.
While the world’s leaders are gathered in Tiar, a massive explosion obliterates. A historian would later refer to it as “the blast that cracked the world.”
The destruction for a day’s ride around Tiar is absolute, leaving a crater more than sixty miles wide. Earthquakes rock the known world. A magically-charged cloud of dust spreads outward for thousands of miles.
The next six weeks are known historically as the Choking Death. During that time, the sun is blotted out. Millions die from cold, earthquakes, tidal waves, and other disasters. Tens of thousands caught in the rain, warped by the magic, and become the New Goblins.
The Choking Death feeds into the Rain of Filth. For many months, a gray snow, then rain falls almost continuously. Even decades later, such rains were somewhat common.
After the Rain of Filth came the Long Winter. Thirty-one years of blizzards and darkness in which most of the survivors of the Cataclysm died out.
Even during that dark time, people clung to civilization. In 7 AC, Maranaji sorcerer Thispin raises the Sunspire in what is now Culam. To oversee administration of the structure and surrounding town, he founds what will become known as the Fellowship of Thispin. All original members of the Fellowship were sorcerers and they soon turned their considerable knowledge to the field of agriculture, seeking natural and magical ways to grow food under the most adverse conditions.
At its height, Vendajin, the city that grew up around the Sunspire, is said to have housed three quarters of a million people and fed three times that many. Twenty years after the death of Thispin, the city enters a bloody civil war followed by a series of invasions that left much of the city in ruins and the tower shattered. The city, which is still mostly ruins is now called Tendanaa.
Historians generally mark the beginning of the Thaw with the founding of the City State of Thalassa in 38 AC. It is marked by a return of sunlight, rising temperatures, and faster-rising seas.
Before the Cataclysm, the Thalassans were mostly traders and shipbuilders. Two years before the Cataclysm, [[Ossirian the God-Touched]], a rich and powerful merchant is vested with a powerful vision of his homeland sinking beneath the waves. He immediately begins converting all his land-based wealth into ships and supplies.
At the time of the Cataclysm, Ossirian’s flotilla consists of 117 ships and is out in the deep ocean. After the blast, hundreds of Thalassan ships join the flotilla. The ships continue to stay at sea for forty-one years, behaving as a floating pirate nation which raids the land for supplies.
Over time, the flotilla swells to thousands of ships and over 200,000 souls. Ossirian orders them to make landfall at the broken Theptan City, Olias. They easily conquer the Theptan refugees living there and begin to rebuild the city.
Thalassa’s grasp over the world slips during the Pestilence, a period from 266-270 AC when billions of mosquitoes and flies descend on the world. During that time, the Fellowship of Thispin fragments over its pacifist rules, spawning the Venerants of the Sunspire. The Venerants turn their skill to the slaughter of the insects worldwide. Even after the insects are gone, the plague they carried kills off a quarter of the world’s population.
The Post-Thalassan Renaissance
Over the next few centuries, the free cities of the Thalassan Empire spread their influence. The Renaissance is measured as having started in 277 AC with the re-establishment of the Library at Iona. The Librarians’ mission is twofold—to gather all the world’s wisdom in one place and to make that wisdom available to anyone willing to pay a copying fee. This unlocks a wealth of knowledge presumed lost in the Cataclysm.
The period from 277-618 AC is relatively peaceful and stable. Border wars are still fought. Plagues still break out. The waters still rise, forcing refugees to flee further inland. But, it is a prosperous time.
Even though the amount of livable land decreases by the year, there are even fewer people. For a time, anyone who disagrees with their local government can move to another island. Inter-island trade increases in importance and the Great Trading Houses are founded.
The Trade Wars
In 618 AC, the Ionan emperor Calas III enacted the Parathian Edicts in an attempt to nationalize the property of the Great Houses and seizes what he they hold on the land. The Houses join forces long enough to return the favor on the seas, then land an invading force that captures the Emperor, executes him, and puts his daughter Ilona I in his place once she agrees to sign the Kenanin Accord, recognizing the Houses as sovereign and granting them ownership of the city Kenanin and its surrounding coal mines.
The war with Iona ends in 623 AC, but is followed by a number of skirmishes with other nations that refuse to accept the Kenanin Accord. By 651 AC, every major nation except Culam has accepted the notion that the Houses are a power unto themselves.
Since 681 AC, there has been a small, but noticeable drop in sea levels around the world. Over the past eighteen years, they’ve dropped about a half foot, enough to reveal new sea shores and make people think that the Thaw might be over.