History of Peredur
The origins of Peredur lie within the Cataclysm. When the tattered survivors of Virmor-that-was arrived on the shores of the Inland Sea, they were a disorganised and broken people. Only a very few at the time knew the details of what had happened, and rumours were rife as to the origins of the catastrophe. The official reason, as given by the leaders of New Agryos (as it was optimistically called) was that the orcs had unleashed a terrible magic on their human enemies out of spite.
Many did, and still do, believe this tale, but there were enough that saw the flaws in this argument to retain strong doubts – if the orcs had had such power it didn't seem likely that they would have ever been conquered in the first place, nor waited so long to use it. As the epicentre was at Aspatria, a large faction developed that believed the Cataclysm had come about through the misguided and selfish actions of their leaders. Most of this faction were not mages, but of Melia, Alathane and even Corrin – soldiers, farmers and merchants who did not appreciate how, somehow, after likely destroying their former home, the mages of Agryos had somehow ended up in charge again. Many were still traumatised and disillusioned by the event (which at the time was not even a decade past), looking for a new way forward.
A way was found due to a chance encounter. Many of the faction had turned to the gods since their arrival in Ilmarin, a break from the secularism of the past in order to find a newer, better code to follow that owed nothing to Agryan secular philosophy. One of these budding priests was a Corrinite and follower of Athaya, educated in her worship by an elven associate. When he mentioned the difficulties faced by those of like mind, the elven priest returned to Annúlorn and spoke in turn to the head of the Athayan church there.
In turn the church of Aurvandil was contacted, and in that the situation came to its next level. The Calandoreans were moved by the plight of their neighbours, who in their eyes were now connected to them by virtue of their new faith. An offer of sanctuary was therefore made to the priest, and any others he could contact – the elves would home the new faction, provided they were willing to swear certain oaths.
The priest, whose name was Vasilios, took the elves on their offer and with his friends and family, landing in a former elven fishing village near lake Laran that had been wiped out by the events of the Demon War With the permission of Calandor, Vasilios and his followers colonised the village, rebuilding it and naming it Anwyn (elvish “For the Lady”, a reference to Athaya). There the colonists, with the aid of the Calandoreans, started to build a life for themselves.
There were joined in time by others – more than either than either Vasilios or Calandor had expected. The worship of Athaya had spread like wildfire among certain sections of the Agryan refugees – even those that still believed in the guilt of the orcs were turning to the goddess out of a need for hope in this new, bleak land they had found themselves in. More and more started to journey to Anwyn, bringing with them farming equipment, timbers, seeds and other necessities for the flourishing colony.
The New Agryan reaction to this was mixed. Some were simply glad to see the back of what they termed fanatics, who upset the secular lifestyle that the Agryans were trying to preserve. Others saw the leaving as treachery, and urged the Agryan Triumvirate to nip the colony at the bud. When Calandor heard of these they sent envoys with an extremely blunt message about the consequences of aggression to a Calandorean ally. The Calandorean were also forced to send a similar message to the orcs, who did not appreciate the new human settlement so near to their border.
The colonists were therefore able to live in relative peace until 50 AC, when Melia started to push eastwards. With elven focus and resource elsewhere, Peredur started to suffer attention from new Agryos. In response Vasilios (now an elderly and revered high priest of Athaya), declared the valleys of Laranmas-that-was as sovereign territory of the colonists, naming the new country Peredur.
The New Kingdom
Peredur’s early history was – relatively speaking – fairly peaceful. With the hills of the north as a natural defence, and the aid of the elves (though not the orcs) they were able to hold New Agryos at bay. Calandor was for the invasion of Tiridor in 66 AC and the Imperial aggressions of 79 – 81 AC able to hold its own with the aid of Balar’s orcs, letting Peredur develop safely. However by the time of Balar’s abdication in 81 AC Peredur’s infrastructure had been established by Vasilios’ successor, King Theron, and they were ready to take their place as equals to their Calandorean allies.
The Years of Strife
Their chance would come in 94 AC. Melia, prompted by Corrin and Alathane, started to push towards the Greenwater River in an effort to eat up more Calandorean territory and secure the Greenmouth as a port. King Theron acted promptly, mobilising a Peredan army in the northern border of Melia. The first battle there would be a completely success, with the New Agryan forces being taken completely off guard. However the tide soon turned and Peredur was invaded in the summer of that year, forcing the hand of the Calandoreans and their orcish allies. By this time the orcs were being tentatively led by Balar’s grand-niece Goruja, meaning that those in the Whispering Woods were to stay out of the war entirely.
The following years were filled with battles both and vicious, the elves occasionally being pushed back to the very banks of the Greenwater by the desperate Melians as Peredur fought in turn to keep a large Alathane army from overrunning the hills. It was only when the orcs of the Iron Hills poured down the Dale Road that the tide turned, and together with the Peredans they wiped out the invading army in the Battle of Deepdale. Goruja and most of the orcs were killed in the process as the panicked Alathaneans tried to force their way through the orcish lines to safety, virtually depopulating the fighting strength of the Iron Hills for nearly a generation. It would however begin the only genuine friendship between an orcish and a human nation, as the Peredans were properly thankful for the orcs’ aid in reclaiming their homeland. The Years of Strife (as the Peredans named it) came to an abrupt end soon afterwards, as Melia capitulated under combined pressure from both Peredur and Calandor in the winter of 98 AC.
The Horse and the Rider
An uneasy peace fell after the victory in Deepdale, with the Peredans rebuilding and the Calandoreans reinforcing their eastern border against further attack. Aside from periodic troubles with the occasional ogre raiding party that made it through the Rift, western lands remained fairly quiet for a three decades after the Years of Strife.
It was during this time that the Peredans gained their greatest weapons, by purest luck. The heir to the throne was at the time Princess Talaith, who had dedicated herself to Brynna sja Brenna, and in 122 AC she embarked on a quest of courage to Anaturu. Her father, King Elis the son of Theron, had come down with a wasting sickness and seemed likely to die, and Talaith had expressed doubts about her ability to rule – typically, her answer to this as a Brennanite was to both prove herself worthy and banish all doubt and fear by slaying a creature called the Beast of Uru, rumoured to live in the faraway plains of the Haaru.
Details of the beast vary, though it was almost certainly not a dragon – most depictions show a wingless creature without scales, though still vaguely lizardlike, and wreathed in fire. What is known is that when Talaith found it, it was in the process of attacking a Haraan numun (the heir apparent of a tribal leader) named Temur. Though Talaith slew the beast she was gravely injured, and it was Temur that cared for her in the months that followed. It should perhaps come as no surprise that the two bonded, enough so that Talaith would invite the numun to Peredur once she was recovered.
The courtship would last for over three years, though by all accounts had the two had their way it would have been considerably shorter. Part of the complications arose from Temur’s station; though there were other siblings who could take his place as heir once he left, his position meant that the dowry (among the Haaru applied to both sexes) he was both expected to give and receive was enormous, and above all things the Haaran prize their horses. Talaith had no horse to give, and the Haaru were reluctant to risk their precious herds in an overseas trip.
Eventually though the two managed to force their way through the negotiations. Talaith paid her dowry in Valmari amber, fifty head of cattle and a dozen elf-forged suits of armours. In return Temur, when he journeyed back to Peredur for a final time, brought a herd of a hundred horses with him. Such an animal had never been seen in Ilmarin before, and it would become the lifeswork of Temur to teach his adopted people of them.
The Sickness from the Mountains
In 157 AC tragedy struck Peredur in the form of sickness. Though the origins are uncertain, it was carried in the waters of the Redrill River and was later traced to one of the dwarf holds in the Sword Mountains and the bodies within, which due to a collapsed mine shaft had contaminated the source of the Redrill. The plague itself seems to have been at least partly non-mundane in nature because of this, at least in its virulence and symptoms that would lead to it becoming known as the Grey Plague.
The sickness was mostly confined to Peredur, though some also travelled downriver to New Agryos. Being spread by water supply most of those who sickened lived around Tarn Anwyn and the Redrill, and tragically that would mean that the royal family would be one of those worst affected. Queen Talaith and her consort Temur both died during this time, as well as two of their three children. The second-eldest, Arianrhod, was saved by virtue of being in Aglarost at the time, as it was the custom of the royal family and some nobles to let their children ‘tour’ the countries of their allies. Arianrhod returned to take her mother’s place in 159 AC, by which time the source of the plague had been found and dealt with after a death toll that numbered in the tens of thousands.
It was not long before New Agryos turned a hungry eye to the west again, prompted by Peredur’s new weakened state. In 159 AC the first incursions into Peredur began – tentative raids that the queen Arianrhod quickly organised reprisals for. Although all-out war would never come to pass during the first decade, there would be many and frequent tests of Peredur’s borders and the strength of their armies.
In the winter of 170 AC this would come to a head when an ogre raiding party descended from the Sword Mountains. Although this was by no means uncommon, the defeated ogres would be revealed to have been armed with weapons that it was discovered had been made in Corrin. Corrin itself denied all involvement, stating that the weapons had obviously been stolen, but after so many years of aggression Arianrhod was in no mood to listen to their claims. Seeking aid from the Iron Hills and Calandor, in 171 AC Queen Arianrhod led a concerted attack on the combined nations of Melia and Corrin.
For the first time it was New Agryos that would be the focus of territorial expansion, and they reacted immediately and with overwhelming force. The elven port of Annúlorn was bombarded by a white ship, the valleys of Deepdale blighted by alchemical means and a small taskforce attacked Skāruhk, the orcish capital, in 179 AC. The alliance itself held firm however, and grimly kept up their offensive until 181 AC, when New Agryos called upon its treaties with the Empire of Steel and Stone.
Not wanting to be called in to a war that would span a continent, particularly given that they still had the ogres to deal with, the Empire proposed a truce instead. A diplomatic solution was sought in Farhaven, the only neutral party in the whole affair, and a treaty drawn up to prevent further aggression.
In Modern Times
So far the truce at Farhaven has held, but it cannot do so forever. Peredur is small compared to its neighbours; one of its allies fragmented and the other concentrated on defending its own borders from both New Agryos and the ogre kingdoms to the north. Were New Agryos to encroach on its borders again, it might be that this time they would not be driven back so easily.
So far that has not happened, and indeed the attentions of New Agryos have turned east instead of westwards. Yet Peredur remains watchful, its knights vigilant, its castles still high and proud. After all, unlike their New Agryan enemies, they have one advantage.
The gods are on their side.