Blood of the Sea: The Krolvin and Their Descendants

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Blood of the Sea: The Krolvin and Their Descendants is an Official GemStone IV Document, and it is protected from editing.


This document is the work of Rorgaj Three-Quills, Krinti of the Lar’toth Klinast.

Origins

So it is said that in the earliest of days, there was no water, not the fresh water that flows in rivers nor the salt water that ebbs and flows and eats at the shores. In those days, the great beast Lefatin was ever thirsty, and slaked his thirst only upon the blood of his foes.

Between battles, he smelled something new on the air, a scent that called to him and inflamed his thirst. He found what he was seeking in a place of low plains and rolling hills. It poured through a hole in the world, a flow that was as clear as crystal and cool as moonlight, and when he saw it, he was seized with a desire to drink. This was fresh water.

He drank. At first, he did so to slake his thirst, but he could not stop himself, for he was a gluttonous thing. He drank and drank until his belly was full to bursting.

And burst it did, the water mingling with the salt of his blood in a flow so great that it nearly drowned the world. This was salt water. From the corpse of the great beast were born other things, smaller than the beast, but just as fierce. And these were the krolvin.

— Translated from the Awrda Khar'ta

Reivers say that the krolvin are a curse put upon the land by Charl in one of his violent rages. The few exploration journals that survived the fall of Ta’Ashrim are dotted with baleful hints of seafaring warriors, fanged and blue-furred, blazing a bloody trail out of the utter west. The krolvin believe their ancestors were born from the belly of a sea beast, Lefatin.

Scholars have debated the origins of the krolvin for centuries. Recovered artifacts confirm that they built a vast civilization in Imranith, a landmass now called the Shattered Continent. This empire, V’koorte, grew to infringe upon the borders of Western Jontara. It was a place much feared by seafarers for centuries.

V’koorte was certainly not the original krolvin homeland. Its name in Krolgeh, their native tongue, means “not-ocean”, which suggests that V’koorte began as a port for krolvin sailors. Another hint is found in the climate of the Shattered Continent, which is oppressively humid and tropical. Krolvin can tolerate warmer climes, but they are most comfortable in bitter cold.

Taken together with contemporary Ashrim accounts, these clues indicate an older birthplace that was frigid and unforgiving. Members of the Hall of Magisters have concluded that the krolvin likely originated out of the Utter West, far beyond the rovings of Elanith’s most adventurous sailors.

Perhaps there, in the snows of some long-forgotten land, lie the bones of a great sea-beast that spawned the first krolvin from its tormented viscera. If true, the myth of Lefatin would not be the most outlandish part of krolvin history.

Past Imperfect

Krolvin are infamous for their culture’s distaste for written history. To the krolvin, the past, the present, and the future are all mutable as dictated by the whims of the Three-Faced God, Khar’ta. Krolvin believe that if the past is written on parchment or graven in stone, it becomes fixed, stealing a bit of the god’s power and inviting Khar’ta’s almighty wrath.

Instead, the krolvin have an oral canon: the awrda. The word literally means “intelligence” in Krolgeh, but it is emblematic of the collective knowledge of the krolvin people. Within the awrda are stories dating back thousands of years in a blend of parable, myth, and historical accounts. The preservation and continuance of the awrda falls to trained chroniclers called the vevarik.

Vevarik hold an essential place in krolvin society. They are not mere taletellers, nor even bards. From an early age, those selected to become vevarik are trained to memorize and recite the awrda without flaw or variation. Upon reaching adulthood, it is the duty of the vevarik to travel with their clan, adding its deeds to the awrda, and reconciling those deeds with the vevarik of other clans during meetings.

The imprecision of oral histories does, of course, cause variations in the awrda over time. When the accounts of two vevarik are at odds, duty demands that the vevarik find some way to reconcile their differences. Sometimes, one vevarik admits their failing freely and, as atonement to Khar’ta, memorializes their failure in the corrected telling. It is not uncommon for two vevarik to come to blows or bloodshed during these reconciliations.

Because of this unavoidable transformation over time, it is difficult to separate the mythic history of the krolvin from the real. Scholars often look to the remaining annals of the Ashrim and scattered accounts from other Jontaran seafarers to divine the truth behind the tales. It is with thanks to these accounts that we know the history of Imranith, where the krolvin were at the height of their power.

The Empire That Was (4500 - 4873)

There came a shudder that shook the Victorious City, this one stronger than all that had come before. Buildings toppled. The river, which had grown cloudy and boiled with Khar’ta’s anger after every earthquake before, ran red with the Three-Faced God’s burning blood.

The Czag Diokaj huddled in the Unbroken Citadel. The oracles came to him and bade him flee, to heed at last their words and join his fleet on the seas before it was too late. He refused as he had before, and they called him a stubborn fool.

He said, “Before, I refused you because I did not believe you. You told me the end would come, and I thought you charlatans, drunk on the mountain’s breath. Now, I refuse you because you were right, and all I can do to repay my shame is to die with my city.”

He said this before his vevarik, so that his shame would be recorded until Quoab Prozd, when all things end. Then he sent the oracles with his sworn swords and his mightiest blood mages, that they might live past his fall and the death of V’koorte.

— Translated from the Awrda Yurag

The krolvin empire of V’koorte had humble beginnings, and it seems that they had little initial desire to settle its lush reaches. Researchers have found krolvin artifacts--hunting horns of whalebone and shark tooth necklaces--dating back thousands of years, but the krolvin did not build permanent settlements on Imranith until the middle of the fourth millennium.

The continent was mightily volcanic and swathed with misty jungles. Some magisters of the Hall of Mages believe that krolvin civilization must have flourished during a centuries-long lull in the region’s volcanic activity. This might explain why the jungles were otherwise uninhabited by sentient races: the krolvin were the first to claim the land after the last period of upheaval.

Early settlements on Imranith were small coastal villages, likely used to repair damaged ships. The rich, dark earth provided fertile ground for farmland, so that passing ships could resupply after long ocean voyages. Over time, the coastal settlements became less temporary and sprouted into a confederation of city-states.

The drive to conquer is exalted in krolvin culture. Absent external foes, the city-states turned on one another, sating the need for bloodshed with squabbles and territorial strife. This likely drew more krolvin out of the Utter West as bloodthirsty chieftains called upon their warriors to fend off the intentions of their rivals.

While bloodshed was a constant, not all of Imranith’s krolvin delighted in strife. Near to the Victorious City, Glaiv Falzte, there was an immense volcano called Ravet Jkag. A group of krolvin blood mages discovered a series of chambers honeycombing the walls of Ravet’s caldera. Deep within the volcano were powerful vapors that filled their minds with prophetic visions. These mages became the ravetso, oracles of the krolvin. They were seen as favored children of the Three-Faced God, and above the fray of battle.

Worship of the Three-Faced God remains commonplace among the krolvin, having little changed since the early days of V’koorte. Khar’ta is seen as a single god above all others. Though sometimes personified as male or female, most krolvin see Khar’ta as a universal force, of which the Arkati are but avatars. Khar’ta’s three faces represent the god’s status as creator, master, and eventual executioner of all krolvin.

It was the ravetso who foretold the coming of a leader that would unite the krolvin people. They called him Czag Diokaj, or “bringer of glory”. They also foretold that he would either lead the krolvin to dominance over the known world, or send the race to their ruin.

Many krolvin believed themselves to be the Czag Diokaj, but their claims all ended in failure and death. Yurag Starfall was the last of this multitude. It is said that he was born in Glaiv Falzte on the night a blue star fell and set the jungles ablaze, just as the oracles had predicted.

As a young krolvin, he served as a sworn sword to Snarrag Three-Fangs, who was then the ruler of Glaiv Ragnaj. Like most chieftains of the V’koorte city-states, Snarrag was styled as a czag rukhma, or “bringer of heritage”. Rulers were so named because they were seen as having descended from the high blood of the nameless krolvin homeland. When Snarrag fell in battle in 4839, Yurag claimed the title. He cemented his rule by betraying and killing all of Snarrag’s other sworn swords. Yurag established control over Glaiv Ragnaj’s military in a week, the surrounding city-states in a month, and the entirety of Imranith in a year.

This was an unusual rise for a krolvin. At the time, a krolvin’s bloodline, or mrodgvir, largely determined their station. A czag rukhma named their successor from within their mrodgvir. Individual krolvin had some opportunity for upward mobility in life, as in the case of a merchant building a trade monopoly or a rank-and-file warrior rising to become a czag rukhma’s sworn sword, but it was rare for one to ascend into the ranks of the nobility from low birth.

Though he had united his people through conquest, Yurag was shrewd. He knew that the krolvin would soon turn upon one another again, and that his fledgling empire would collapse back into internal conflict. Neither could he hold all of V’koorte by force. The krolvin people were too proud and too prone to rebellion.

Instead, he went to the oracles of Ravet Jkag and asked them to consult their vapors for a way to keep the krolvin united beneath his rule. The ravetso told him that eastward lay the destiny of the krolvin. They spoke of a land across wide waters that was unsuspecting and ripe for plunder. Krolvin reavers from before the rise of V’koorte had preyed upon the lands of Elanith, but had not dared to assail the lands of the Turamzzyrian Empire since a resounding defeat at Kezmon Isle in 4790.

Yurag’s blood mages urged him to turn his attention toward the eastern continent. Their scrying spells, fueled by ritual sacrifice, painted him a picture of an empire in chaos. The human nation’s strength and attention were turned eastward, for they were embroiled in a bitter war with the Faendryl. They would scarcely suspect foes from across the sea.

Yurag knew that his advantage over the unsuspecting humans would be bolstered if they could not unify against his raiders. He instituted an order of shkela rkog, shkelakra rkog, or “take none, leave none”. Krolvin raiders were to take no captives and leave no survivors from Turamzzyrian settlements. Their raids would remain a mystery, and might even be blamed against the humans’ dark elven enemies.

These early raids were an astounding success for Yurag. The krolvin plundered down the Turamzzyrian coastline, wiping out entire villages and towns as they went. Turamzzyrians assumed that the Faendryl were attacking from the sea as well as by land, although the more superstitious among them said that the villages were being razed by the ghosts of Ashrim elves disturbed by the ongoing war.

Even after the Third Elven War ended in catastrophe for the humans, Yurag’s raiders continued to prey--with slightly greater discretion--on small villages and outlying settlements up and down the western coast of Elanith. This kept krolvin bloodlust honed on external conquest, which allowed Yurag greater stability at home. A few krolvin ships met with resistance during their raids, but in total, Yurag’s policy kept the Turamzzyrians from discovering the truth of a sovereign krolvin nation for the balance of his reign.

For landbound krolvin dwelling within the boundaries of the empire, Yurag provided a different way to sate their darker passions. He reignited the old rite of the gzadmor gno osik, a contest whose name roughly translates to “pain of honor”. This gladiatorial contest became an entertainment fixture in krolvin lives, and soon it was rare for a town or city not to have a grug gno osik, or “pit of honor”, where combatants could shed each other’s blood for the favor of the crowd.

During his time as Czag Diokaj, Yurag built the krolvin empire to its cultural apex. Art flourished. Scrimshaw pieces from the time show none of the decadence that has plagued more recent krolvin works. Stolen magics from Turamzzyr led to the refinement of krolvin spells, and the blood mages reached the zenith of their power during this time.

Only the oracles were troubled.

It was late in the second decade of Yurag’s reign, and a change had come over Imranith. The land had begun to shake and buck. The river upon which Glaiv Falzte was built flowed white and acidic and hot after every quake. Its fish died by the thousands, and Yurag ordered that shipbuilding operations be moved to the coast, for the waters ate through the hulls of most ships.

He summoned the ravetso, and they came with dire warnings. Their visions, once clear, had been clouded with burning flame and overshadowing death. They told him that the land itself was turning against the krolvin, and would soon tear down the empire that he had built.

At first, Yurag heeded their warnings, wishing to preserve that which he had built. He bade the ravetso to look into the days yet to come and find a path by which he might save the empire. They told him again that the krolvin’s destiny lay to the east, but this time, their meaning was different: if the krolvin people were to survive, they would need to leave the lush jungles of Imranith and migrate eastward.

He little liked that answer. Such a migration would destroy all that he had built, casting his people onto unforgiving shores devoid of the natural riches of Imranith. He sent the oracles away and instead consulted with the vevarik, looking to the past through the awrda. He found myths and legends, but was desperate enough to see in them answers to his people’s plight.

Yurag grew obsessed with one relic in particular, a mythical artifact called the Star of Khar’ta. Said to be a fragment of the Three-Faced God’s power, the artifact surfaced here and there in the awrda. Yurag spread word that any krolvin who returned the artifact to him would be honored above all others in his court, and so began Jupta Herndrok, the Hunt of the Star.

Over the course of the next few years, hundreds of krolvin set forth in every direction from V’koorte to seek the Star of Khar’ta. Most did not return, and none of these questors ever lived to see the artifact itself.

In the meantime, the situation in V’koorte worsened. Failing to find purchase for their visions with Yurag, the ravetso began to whisper to his sworn swords. Rumors of impending doom spread from Yurag’s palace, the Unbroken Citadel, and raced to the corners of V’koorte.

Many of the czag rukhma of outlying cities became convinced that Yurag was a fool for ignoring the oracles. They began their own shipbuilding operations, and began establishing settlements on the outer islands surrounding Imranith. Some traveled further, establishing outposts as far as the Isle of Glaoveln.

As these political machinations ground away, the earth tremors became devastating quakes that leveled buildings. More than a few lowland towns were engulfed in caustic vapors that spewed from the angry earth, and the cities grew choked with refugees. Roads were flooded with magma that streamed from the earth like burning blood. Gone was Yurag’s golden age, replaced by a people and place that seethed with chaos.

Yurag was stubborn, but not a fool. Recognizing that he had been wrong, he sent for the ravetso again. In sight of his court and two dozen vevariks, he openly atoned for his sin and surrendered leadership of the krolvin people. In his final act as Czag Diokaj, he commanded each and every czag rukhma to flee Imranith with as many of their most able-bodied and capable krolvin as ships could carry.

The Czag Diokaj’s years of delay cost the krolvin mightily. Ships took time to build, and the land grew ever more chaotic as the empire of V’koorte crumbled. More than a million krolvin had dwelled on Imranith at the empire’s peak. Ships carried mere thousands away as it collapsed.

Seismic activity rose to its climactic peak in a week of fire and death. Fissures opened, miles wide, and belched lava and burning rock into the skies. Catastrophic storms engulfed Imranith, quickened by the cataclysm that engulfed V’koorte. Imranith itself was torn asunder in a volcanic pyroclasm, and waves taller than towers engulfed the continent, leaving behind only broken remains. Storms and quakes battered even the coastlines of Turamzzyr, but the humans residing there knew little of the greater catastrophe happening over the horizon’s edge.

It is said that Yurag himself stayed behind in Glaiv Falzte to the last, watching in misery as the fire consumed his empire.

Diaspora

“Goort, pla'dush, ap. Ship, family, self. In the eyes of the Three-Faced God, no one is above family. No family is above the ship.”

— Partially translated from the Awrda Gzadmor gno D’karzkra

It may be tempting to think of the krolvin diaspora as a vast fleet of ships fleeing the burning wasteland that had been their home, but the truth is a grimmer tale. Due to Yurag’s failures as Czag Diokaj, there was no unified effort to preserve the krolvin people beyond Imranith’s destruction. Krolvin ships had been departing the continent of Imranith for years before its fall. Many had fled the worsening conditions there, but there were also raiders who shunned the shores of home, and no few questors of the Jupta Herndrok, all of whom were abroad when the Pyroclasm hit.

Inevitably, they began coming together. Some krolvin ships encountered one another at sea and banded into small flotillas. Others struck toward known krolvin colonies.

Some of the earliest krolvin to flee Imranith had built strongholds on its outlying islands. The tides of the continent’s destruction swallowed most of these holds entirely, but a precious few survived. They eagerly welcomed survivors. The descendants of these krolvin are called the Pla’dush Karz, or “the family who remained”. They are said to dwell in the wreckage of their old homeland in pale imitation of the empire’s former glory, and have little contact with Elanith save for occasional raids.

Most krolvin viewed the ruins of Imranith as a cursed place, heeding the ravetso’s word that their destiny lay to the east. They called the chains of islands left behind the Shattered Continent, and the awrda tells of it as a deadly and primitive warren of treacherous isles and monstrous creatures awakened by Imranith’s fall.

There was little order in the months following the Pyroclasm. A czag rukhma derived their power from their resources, wealth, and strength of arms. Without land to own, they had no resources. Ships’ holds were needed for foodstuffs and essential supplies, so most czag rukhma also lacked all but the faintest trappings of their old wealth on Imranith. Sworn swords had made blood oaths to their czag rukhma, but the destruction of the old empire left many wondering what value those oaths had for a broken people.

The ravetso suffered a similar change in station. Deprived of the volcanic mists that lent them their foresight, they swiftly found themselves falling in station. Over time, their last prophecies were folded into the awrda as apocalyptic tales, and the ravetso themselves became counselors to captains and czag rukhma.

It was through the ravetso, amidst the last gasp of their old social cachet, that the structure of shipboard life was established. The oracles knew that the krolvin would not survive V’koorte’s fall without banding together, so they counseled the importance of a simple hierarchy of needs: ship, family, self. Individual krolvin were less important than the survival of their immediate family, and no family was worth the loss of a ship.

This gave rise to a new perception of what it meant to be members of a krolvin family. Prior to the diaspora, bloodlines were of overriding importance to the krolvin. During their travels across the water and the subsequent travails of the krolvin people, one’s goortgvir, or “ship-lineage”, grew to be as important to krolvin identity as their actual bloodline.

As the place of the czag rukhma and ravetso began to change, the star of krolvin ship captains, t’vieska, began to rise. Seafarers had always been essential to krolvin culture, and a captain was the unquestioned master of their ship. Now, with their people scattered to the winds, the t’vieska were essential. Ships carried word between the fledgling krolvin holds, and more importantly, they carried the lifeblood of the krolvin race.

Even so, it became quickly obvious that the krolvin people could not survive as seafarers alone. Food needed to be grown or taken by raids, and raids cost ships and krolvin lives. Many flotillas gravitated to the colony at Glaoveln, lured by its cold climate and the promise of shelter. The settlement swelled into what is now the city of Glaiv Moradg, simply called “Glaeve” by outsiders. Other krolvin goortgvir founded established themselves on the first hospitable islands they encountered, which frequently led to conflict with native populations.

Settlements of the Krolvin and Their Descendants

Glaoveln

Glaoveln was first established as a safe harbor during the era of the early raids against Turamzzyr, but the harsh, wintry island boasted only a shifting, seasonal population of krolvin until the 4870s.

Like Imranith, Glaoveln is volcanic, but it has not had a major eruption in living memory. The land itself is a study in stark contrasts, from the black volcanic sands to the white snow that dusts the landscape. Vegetation thrives in occasional stands of forest hardy enough to survive the cold, but the land is otherwise unforgiving and cruel.

As the czag rukhma began to lose confidence in Yurag Starfall, one among them, Glogak Seasfury, asserted his mrodgvir’s claim over Glaoveln. He ordered construction of a stronghold there and named it Ashka gno Dubra, “the palace of war.” The vainglorious name was a poor fit for the small black stone keep, which was completed in 4871.

Glogak was a devout believer in the words of the ravetso and was convinced that V’koorte would fall. Over the next two years, ships carrying gold and gems filled the treasury at Ashka gno Dubra and ferried many of Glogak’s family, servants, and sworn swords to the isle.

It is likely that Glogak’s colony would have ended in failure and disgrace had V’koorte not fallen. By 4873, the realities of living on the barren island had begun weighing on Glogak’s household. There was no arable farmland, and the delicacies of home to which he and his people had become accustomed were weeks away by ship. Glaoveln’s shores teemed with fish, but fish could not fight off a growing prevalence of scurvy among Glogak’s people.

The destruction of Imranith brought fresh blood to Glaoveln. The island was well-known for its use as a safe harbor during raids on Turamzzyr, so it was natural that captains would seek it out. As ships began to arrive, Glogak saw opportunity in his fellow krolvin. He allowed refugees to build tents outside of Ashka gno Dubra, asking only a tribute of food from each ship so that he might feed his household.

As the numbers of krolvin within the colony swelled from the dozens to the thousands, and the city of Glaiv Moradg grew up around Ashka gno Dubra. Over the years, Glogak became recognized as the czag rukhma of Glaiv Moradg. Nevertheless, the challenges of life in such a harsh climate persisted.

Like Yurag before him, Glogak found his answers in the east. He sent ships across the gulf of water toward warmer climes, and there they found vast wilderness full of natural bounty. Krolvin colonies sprouted up along the northwestern shores of Elanith, all administered by Glogak and his mrodgvir.

After Glogak’s death in 4925, his nephew Hroj Frostblood became czag rukhma after a series of political assassinations. Hroj had spent much of his youth fighting in the ramshackle grug gno osik in Glaiv Moradg, and had earned the loyalty of a cabal of blood mages who helped him rise to power.

By this time, Turamzzyrian sailors had discovered signs of civilization on Glaoveln. The Empress Geleena Anodheles, wife of Trydall Anodheles, had taken it upon herself to expand the Turamzzyrian Empire through diplomacy and negotiation. She sent a trio of emissaries to Glaoveln to treat with the krolvin.

Some of Hroj’s blood mages counseled him to accept the emissaries, but others recalled to him Yurag Starfall’s policy of “take none, leave none”. They convinced him that the krolvin could remain hidden only if none of the emissaries survived to confirm Glaiv Moradg’s existence. Hroj, ever unsubtle, had all three emissaries beheaded and sent back to their ships as a warning to Turamzzyr never to trouble the island again.

Far from discouraging further contact, the murder of these emissaries enraged Geleena’s consort, Trydall Anodheles. He ordered that forces be massed in Vornavis for a strike against the island. Two squadrons of Turamzzyrian warships set out for Glaoveln.

The island’s unforgiving climate proved a boon to the krolvin. While the Turamzzyrians were crossing the gulf between Wehnimer’s Landing and Glaoveln, a cruel blizzard struck, blowing several vessels off course and sinking three others. A coordinated attack from Turamzzyr never arrived, and instead the vessels threw themselves against superior krolvin captains over a period of two weeks, losing every encounter.

Hroj’s reprisal was swift and terrible. He had always been consumed with a joy for battle, and the blood mages saw in a new war fuel for their ancient spells. At the mages’ urging and using their farsight as a guide, Hroj’s krolvin blitzed Turamzzyrian settlements along the coast. Within the span of a month, they had raided Vornavis and Wehnimer’s Landing, put Brisker’s Cove to the torch, and blockaded the waters of River’s Rest.

Success in battle sent Hroj’s reputation skyward. He abolished the position of czag rukhma and restyled himself as the Czag Dubra, or “bringer of war”. The spoils from his attacks were new comforts for the people of Glaiv Moradg, and they grew fiercely devoted to their leader. Hroj broke with the old ways established by Yurag Starfall, for there was no secrecy to preserve any longer. His raiding ships returned to Glaoveln with their bellies full of slaves, beginning an abhorrent practice that continues among some krolvin to this day.

Tamzyrr’s response to the aggression was blunted by distance and the krolvin’s superior seafaring. The Hall of Mages was still ill-accustomed to combat and deigned not to send magisters to support the war campaign. Blood mages therefore lent the krolvin a significant combat advantage. Utterly outmatched, Trydall Anodheles attempted to muster the forces for another direct assault on Glaoveln, but it took weeks for forces to cross the lands between the Empire proper and Wehnimer’s Landing.

By the time they arrived, Hroj was waiting. His ships formed an inescapable blockade around Wehnimer’s Landing, and Hroj himself led his sworn swords to attack the town directly, easily routing the ill-prepared Turamzzyrians.

The krolvin would have taken the small port for certain had it not been for the heroics of Talbot Dabbings. The halfling had fled with his family to the far reaches of the Turamzzyrian Empire to escape their policies, which were brutal toward non-humans. On the frontier, he had not found the sanctuary for which he had hoped, but bloodshed and battle.

During the siege of Wehnimer’s Landing, he took advantage of his small size and great stealth to sneak into Hroj’s command tent. He assassinated Hroj and was himself swiftly killed by the Czag Dubra’s sworn swords. The loss of such a popular leader set the krolvin into disarray, which only worsened as members of his mrodgvir and goortgvir clashed over who would lead in his stead.

Turamzzyrian ships fell upon the faltering krolvin, driving them away from Wehnimer’s Landing and ending the war. Dabbings’s heroic sacrifice and the underwhelming response from the Emperor, which did not even include a thanks to his grieving family, served as a final breaking point that would lead to halflings leaving the Empire en masse to found the town of Icemule Trace.

After Hroj Frostblood’s death and the abrupt end of their wartime comforts, the krolvin of Glaoveln were hungry for someone to blame. Their fury turned upon the blood mages, who are still seen as dark and untouchable figures in krolvin society to this day.

Hroj’s eventual successor, Rhuka the Builder, took advantage of the slaves and riches her cousin had procured during the height of krolvin raiding. She used the slaves to build Glaiv Moradg into an impressive city of forbidding black stone, and took advantage of captive magisters to build underground farms and other improvements to make Glaoveln more self-sustaining. Some say the descendants of those magisters still serve the mrodgvir of Rhuka.

Raids against Turamzzyr are still a common practice for the krolvin of Glaoveln, but it seems that both sides have entered a state of equilibrium: krolvin have not amassed a fleet to rival Hroj’s since his death, and the Empire has kept far from Glaoveln in the long years since.

Krint

Krintaur was a member of Glogak Seasfury’s household in the earliest days of the colony on Glaoveln. Outwardly, he had the appearance of an unspectacular krolvin warrior who was loyal to his czag rukhma. His journals paint a grimmer picture.

Early in life, Krintaur discovered a predilection for blood magic. To him, the talent came naturally, but for reasons unknown, his family did not send him to the mages in Glaiv Falzte to be trained. He instead practiced the magic through instinct and ignorance, making sacrifices for power. Highly clever, he concealed his dark predilections from other krolvin while using blood magic in secret to his own benefit.

When he joined Glogak Seasfury on Glaoveln, Krintaur was presented with a singular challenge. In V’koorte, it had been easy to excuse the occasional disappearance of livestock or even the occasional house servant. At Ashka gno Dubra, there were eyes everywhere. Krintaur descended into secret rages and madness at being unable to practice his dark arts, but the arrival of refugees on Glaoveln provided him with a respite.

Whether through magical manipulation or actual affection, he had risen high enough in Glogak’s eyes by 4875 that he was granted his own ship and made a t’vieska. Other krolvin kept to the northern colonies that Glogak had established, but Krintaur turned his eyes to the south.

He selected for his crew krolvin of ill repute and grisly tastes, carefully seeking them out among the growing population of Glaiv Moradg. Many were sailors that could not find berths on other ships because of their treacherous reputations. Krintaur used his blood magic to charm them, forging them into a mindlessly obedient crew that only answered to him.

Krintaur began raiding outlying islands that were beyond the concern of the Turamzzyrian Empire. These villages had lain at the far reaches of the Kannalan Empire, and were defenseless against the bloodthirsty captain and his ship, the Red Message.

Amidst these raids, Krintaur discovered a more hospitable island than Glaoveln. He claimed it as Krint, and began establishing his own stronghold there in secret. Krintaur brought humans and giantkin from the islands to his new hold as slaves.

Growing more brazen with his successes, he began keeping human slaves at his home on Glaoveln, hoping to sell them to other krolvin colonies. When word came to Glogak’s court, the czag rukhma was furious, thinking that Krintaur was running the risk of awakening the wrath of Turamzzyr against the struggling colony.

He ordered that Krintaur’s home and possessions be put to the torch and declared a bounty on the t’vieska’s head. After this point, Krint never returned to Glaoveln, and operated solely from the island of Krint.

Krolvin dalliances with human and giantkin slaves were common, and resulted in the first of the half-krolvin. With typical krolvin arrogance, most of Krintaur’s goortgvir treated these mixed race children with disdain. Krintaur himself, increasingly addled by the excesses of blood magic, saw them as part of a megalomaniacal design.

Children of Krint slaves were themselves born into slavery, with no chance at freedom. Krintaur made it known that he would purchase any such slaves who were of part-krolvin ancestry. His journals are florid with revolting assessments of their robustness and strength, and thick with his plans to raise an army of these so-called “Krinti” to take Glaoveln for himself. He ordered that they be taught to read and write, and that the strongest among them be trained as fighters. To some, Krintaur even taught the principles of magic.

His plans never came to fruition. As Krintaur slumped into all-consuming madness, his inability to attract new krolvin to his service meant that his slaves quickly grew to outnumber their masters. Amidst a bloody uprising in the summer of 4908, Krintaur’s slaves took over the island and executed their former oppressors.

In the following years, the Krinti enjoyed peace. Their population quickly overflowed the resources of the island, and they established the colonies of Burzte and Onnalak to the northwest of Icemule Trace. Many set forth to find other colonies of their people, hoping to share with them the successes that had come to define the Children of Krint.

So successful have they been in their travels that many, but not all, half-krolvin identify as “Krinti” whether or not they have any blood descent from Krint. If there is a unified half-krolvin culture at all, it arose from the work of the early Children of Krint.

From the island, they brought with them the concept of the klinastes. Originating on the island of Krint after the slaves freed themselves, the klinastes were loose groups of Krinti united by common views on self-governance. These organizations have developed into powerful clans.

The Gob’tak Klinast is defined by its enthusiasm for warfare. Their banners, marked with a simple, stylized sword, can often be seen in conflicts on the mainland, for they maintain a robust mercenary industry. The Gob’tak Klinast actively recruits Krinti with prowess in arms and swift reflexes. They are headquartered on the Isle of Krint.

The Rafi’kaes Klinast took to the sea soon after liberating themselves, and rose to prominence carrying the first Krinti proselytes to the mainland. Members are far-flung and return to the Klinast’s seat of power, an armada of ships called the Drift, only rarely. They are wanderers, crews of generation ships, and loners, recognizable for the stylized wave talismans they wear around their necks.

Krinti with the inclination toward magical study often find themselves welcomed into the Hos’tau Klinast. The clan originated from Krinti who stole Krintaur’s books of magic. The Hos’tau are a highly private sect and have established a remote hold in the Archipelago. Their symbol is a sunburst.

Members of the Lar’toth Klinast are fond of saying that their brethren fought to liberate Krint, but the Lar’toth fought to build it. The klinast prizes builders and crafters of all varieties. Their headquarters on Krint is a marvel of engineering, flying pennants that feature the klinast’s symbol: a square enclosed by a circle, with each corner of the square meeting the circumference of the circle.

The smallest of the Krinti klinastes is the Swu’lin Klinast. This order is open to all who feel called to serve in a spiritual capacity. Spiritualism is highly important to the Krinti people, as many Krinti feel that the Three-Faced God Khar’ta guided them to their freedom. Similar to the krolvin, Krinti see Khar’ta as a creator, preserver, and destroyer, of whom the Arkati are but aspects. The klinast’s symbol is a stylized leaf.

Among many modern descendants of krolvin and humans, the island of Krint holds a complicated cultural position. It is rightly seen as the seat of horrible atrocities, but also as a homeland--real or symbolic--where the Krinti first established themselves against all odds.

The Archipelago

The tropical island of Dekhat was claimed by a krolvin flotilla led by the t’vieska Kulyka Blackwater. Kulyka’s older brother, Grig Bloodspray, was the czag rukhma of their bloodline, having ascended to the position after the fall of V’koorte. Their mother, the previous czag rukhma, had been taken ill soon after their departure from Imranith, but had left no clear line of succession.

Though the two siblings were able to keep their mutual distaste from fracturing the flotilla, squabbles between them escalated after the settlement of Dekhat. Matters devolved to the point of open warfare between the siblings, with krolvin traditionalists favoring Grig and the sailors of the flotilla backing Kulyka. Grig’s forces were vanquished in an astounding rout, and his sister banished him to the smaller, less hospitable island of Kakhan for his transgressions.

This did not blunt Grig’s ambitions or his ire for long. For the rest of his short life, his loyalists clashed with the denizens of Dekhat for resources, but Kulyka had superior forces and control of the surrounding seas thanks to her command of the flotilla.

In 4884, a Turamzzyrian sailing vessel seeking the ruins of Kezmon Isle blew far off course. and landed on Kakhan. Grig’s successor as leader, the chieftain Vushk Highstorm, swiftly quelled any hint of hostility with the humans and welcomed them into his village. With Kulyka’s ships patrolling the seas, the Turamzzyrians had little hope of finding their lost home again, and so eventually they became part of Vushk’s settlement.

In 5047, a krolvin warlord named Keelagh Scarbeard sailed out of the Shattered Continent and came to Dekhat. Blood magic had fallen out of practice among the krolvin who still dwelled in what remained of Imranith after its fall, and it was whispered that Keelagh had been banished for the practice well after it was forbidden there.

He arrived with an armada of supporters who were little better than frothing cultists and sought to conquer the Archipelago as a new stronghold. His initial attack crushed the settlement of Dekhat, and its survivors fled to Kakhan, where the two peoples were at last united. A force of krolvin, humans, and their half-krolvin descendants overwhelmed Keelagh and his cult, putting them to the sword.

After Keelagh’s death, the people of the Archipelago flourished. In the year 5084, Krinti emissaries came to the islands to find a thriving society of their kindred, eager to reunite. The two peoples have maintained robust trade since.

This was not the last of the Archipelago’s troubles. Cultists who had escaped the uprising against Keelagh spread tales of his trove of powerful artifacts, stolen from the Shattered Continent in his flight. It was these tales that drew Sankir, the Bloodfist, to the islands in 5103. After successfully occupying Teras Isle and its city of Kharam Dzu, Sankir swept southward and conquered a number of the Archipelago’s islands until being vanquished in 5105 by a militia called the Fortuneers, leaving the region finally free.

Kraet

The earliest mingling of human and krolvin blood occurred on the Isle of Kraet, long before the Krinti worked to establish a unified society and identity for their people.

In 4627, a krolvin galley under the command of Grishkal Stormlash discovered a human kingdom far to the south of Imranith. This kingdom, called Skaellig Reive by its inhabitants, was a place of vast wealth and natural beauty. The humans were strong of limb and fair to look upon, and lived far longer than most of their kind.

Protected by the seas from other peoples and having long since tamed the wilds of their lands, the humans had developed a rich and benevolent culture. They delighted themselves in sport and games of physical prowess to keep their bodies healthy, and exercised their minds in the pursuits of philosophy, poetry, and other high arts.

Grishkal saw in this people a fruit ripe to be picked. He returned home to V’koorte and raised a great armada, swaying krolvin to his cause with promises of rich plunder. In 4629, the armada set sail for Skaellig Reive.

The humans had been so long at peace that their skill for war had atrophied. Grishkal’s armada assailed the humans’ seat of power at Cymren, crushing the bulk of their navy before making a landing. Grishkal himself led krolvin into the capitol, plundering and burning as they went.

Word traveled with survivors to the outlying settlements of Skaellig Reive, but by then, there was no hope of mounting a meaningful counteroffensive. Some cities continued to fight, but they fell one by one before Grishkal’s brutality. In the end, a mass exodus of Reivers departed to the east by ship. Tormented by tales of krolvin monsters with glowing golden eyes and hungry fangs, they would never see their homeland again.

One Reiver galleon, the Mistdaughter, encountered a krolvin ship called the Fang of Ravet while fleeing from Skaellig Reive. The Mistdaughter carried a precious cargo of exiles, and the Fang was but a scouting caravel, ill-equipped for war and badly damaged in the fighting besides. Neither captain was willing to close to boarding distance, so the ships fired upon each other across the waves, eating up days as the krolvin pursued the Reivers eastward.

So focused were the two vessels upon one another that neither noticed a storm gathering around them until it was too late. Both vessels were forced to break off their assault to focus on simple survival.

For five days the storm battered the ships, tossing them as if they were but playthings to Charl. Masts snapped beneath the relentless waves. Crew were swept overboard, never to be seen again. All the while, the ships drifted far from their original location until they were dashed against a rocky shoal.

The impact splintered and shattered the hulls of both ships, and they began rapidly to take on water. Terrified survivors fought free from both ships and took to the seething waters. Not far away were the rocky shores of a nameless isle, and beyond them, the promise of shelter from the storm in a dense jungle. After making their way to the shore, the survivors scurried into the treeline, seeking shelter from the storm’s fury.

When dawn broke the next day, its light chased away the last remnants of the storm. Krolvin and humans both began to take stock of their situation. The humans saw the krolvin as the monsters that had looted and razed their homeland, and the krolvin--who had been but scouts in Grishkal’s armada--saw the humans as a force with superior numbers and weaponry. Both groups took care to stay out of each other’s way as they began to build shelters and forage for food.

The krolvin settled near a large freshwater river. The ground there was fertile and boasted a bounty of fruit trees and wild vegetables. Plentiful game thrived in the area, and they thought themselves very fortunate indeed.

Meanwhile, the humans established their camp in a natural hollow at the beach’s end, surrounding themselves with three high walls of granite. The defensible position appealed to the Reivers, for they feared that the krolvin might return on any given night to finish them off.

As their occupation of the isle stretched from days into weeks, the weaknesses of both positions became apparent. The natural bounty of the krolvin’s new domain was not without its cost, for the area was the hunting ground for a variety of huge winged serpent, the zmiulan. The beasts assailed the krolvin at night, tearing down their meager shelters amidst their hunt for game and sustenance. A single zmiulan was no match for a krolvin sailor, but the creatures came by the hundreds, leaving only the picked bones of their victims behind.

The Reivers discovered that their own position, while defensible, could not support their numbers. What little rations they had liberated from the Mistdaughter dwindled swiftly. Their efforts at catching fish bore little fruit after such a brutal storm. Worse still, they had no means for purifying the salt water that surrounded them. In short order, the humans began to succumb to starvation and dehydration.

When the krolvin sent emissaries to the humans to seek aid for their plight, they were met on the beach and soundly rebuffed. The two populations began to dwindle as one fell to predators and the other to privation.

Urut Stillwater, a young krolvin sailor, raised the idea of approaching the humans once more. The others called him weak and a fool, and forbade him from approaching the other camp. He went anyway, bringing with him what fruits he could carry from the jungle and a carcass from a zmiulan besides.

When he approached the human encampment, Urut was surprised to find no defenders awaiting. Instead, a lone girl around his age awaited on the beach, kneeling in the waves. She was Siofan, Daughter of Prinn, whose mother had been the captain of the Mistdaughter. Prinn had passed in the night, and the remaining defenders of the human camp were too weak to defend it. In desperation, Siofan had come to the water to give herself to the waves.

Not sharing a language, Urut came to Siofan with the offerings he had stolen from his people. He helped Siofan slake her thirst with the rich jungle fruits, and she invited him into the human camp to deliver the zmiulan carcass.

When he returned to the krolvin, it was with an offer of parlay from the humans. The two peoples met on the beach and, despite the lack of a common language, came to an agreement with one another. The krolvins would be welcomed into the safety of the human camp, but both peoples would enjoy the largesse of the jungle and its boundless supply of sustenance.

Within the space of three generations, the two peoples had become one. No longer were they humans or krolvin. They instead called themselves “Kraet”, and gave the island the same name.

Among the Kraet, traditions of V’koorte and Skaellig Reive flourish. Dueling had become the foremost entertainment of the Reivers before their civilization’s annihilation, but the krolvin brought to the sport added ferocity and their tradition of settling disputes with bloodshed. The sket gno osik, or Battle of Honor, is a formal method of dueling popular among the Kraet that is used to resolve conflicts outside of the family. In it, a duelist tries to land as many cuts as possible against their opponent without causing serious injury. The sket gno diokaj, or Battle of Pride, is a variant of this rite performed for entertainment on the isle.

Conversely, the Kraet do not view warfare as a source of honor or shame. The sole goal of any fight is victory, and so they have proven to be brutal and efficient foes to any invaders foolish enough to infringe upon the island.

Kraet philosophy is driven by a deep desire to better themselves as individuals. They seek always to understand others in order to increase their own potential. Many Kraet engage in ritualistic scarification called the jraga tevakt, wherein they brand themselves with a mark on the left side of their necks that resembles two disparate figures mirroring the same actions.

The Kraet eschew the term “Krinti”, feeling little connection with similar tribes that did not originate on the Isle of Kraet. They believe themselves the first and most high, having arisen from the best parts of krolvin and man. Fiercely proud warriors, they train nearly from birth, their childhood games specifically skewing toward developing coordination and agility at an early age. Neither do they allow their minds to atrophy, for they share their forebears’ love for the arts and philosophy. They are a unique and formidable people.

Timeline

Time Event
4500 The first permanent krolvin settlements are established in Imranith.
4839 Snarrag Three-Fangs is killed in battle, and Yurag takes his place. He does not declare himself czag rukhma, as would be custom, but takes on the title Czag Diokaj.
4840 Yurag spends most of the year consolidating his rule over V’koorte. He besieges and takes the Victorious City, Glaiv Falzte, as his capital.
4841 To quell infighting at home, Yurag targets the Turamzzyrian Empire while it is busy with the Turamzzyrian-Faendryl War. He institutes a policy of shkela rkog, shkelakra rkog: “take none, leave none” to ensure that the humans do not learn of the existence of the krolvin homeland and that their raids appear to be the work of isolated krolvin reavers. He is also responsible for the gzadmor gno osik, a contest of honor that is still celebrated by krolvin in the Diaspora.
4869 Imranith returns to a period of volcanic hyperactivity after almost 400 years of relative dormancy. Yurag ignores the ravetso’s demand that the krolvin abandon Imranith.
4873 Imranith is destroyed by volcanic activity. Yurag dies in the Pyroclasm. Kezmon is destroyed in seismic and tidal activity, but Turamzzyrian sailors have not ventured far enough to realize it is part of a larger catastrophe. The krolvin diaspora begins.
4874 Some Krolvin find shelter amidst the ruins of Imranith, now called the Shattered Continent. Others migrate to Glaoveln and found the city of Glaiv Moradg (Glaeve). Smaller groups settle the islands of Krint, Dekhat, Kakhan, and Kraet.
4926 The first open Krolvin attacks on Turamzzyr begin the Krolvin War, which lasts for half a year and ends with the sacrifice of Talbot Dabbings.
5103 The War of Nations. Sankir the Bloodfist occupied islands in the Archipelago after blockading Teras.