A Brief Thraelish History
Roshanon was an outpost of civility during the age of chaos. Built upon a vast plain in the bottom of a fair valley and surrounded by deep forest and high mountain passes, Roshanon more often than not was a city of fable and myth. Far off the beaten track and governed by a strong il'lthye hegemon, the city resisted the coming of the Wyrd for a good century or two. The hegemon of Roshanon was made up of a spokesperson from each of the city's guilds, trade unions, merchant clubs, and churches; all headed by the quatrine — the four stewards. The quatrine were the eldest dark elves from the house of Kynan-Tremaine in the city, given the task of government and stewardship over the city in their wise and waning years.
For a millenium or more Roshanon prospered. The guildsmen and merchants traveled Threal, collecting and storing works of art and artifice. Even the priests and priestesses of Roshanon quested in search of artifacts that would help to revive the old ways. For all of Roshanon was obsessed; with knowledge and wisdom they thought they could forever remain above the Chaos which seemed to engulf the lands around them.
Unlike many of the city-states during the Age of Chaos, Roshanon's residents avoided conquest of others, preferring to keep to themselves and enjoy their quiet prosperity. To outsiders Roshanon and its residents were often viewed as quaint and simple; not wealthy enough to deserve conquest and too far from other city-states to even make such assault feasible. But rumors of Roshanon's collections eventually fueled the coming of the Wyrd.
Perhaps it was jealousy that fueled the first of Father Glynt's minions or perhaps it was really greed, but come they did. In small numbers at first, the zealots of the Wyrd who came to Roshanon were easily recognized. Outlanders were a rare site in the city. Those who came first were dealt with swiftly by the hegemon. Asked to leave, those who would not were first spirited from the city and asked not to return. Those who came back were quietly put to death under cover of darkness.
The hegemon at the urging of the quatrine stewards kept watchful eye on newcomers to the city. Alas, this was to little avail. As more and more Roshanites returned from their travels, more and more of them came back tainted by the teachings of the New Church of Gond. The first challenges to the rule of the hegemon in more than five centuries grew out of the contentions of these converts. They preached that all of the collections of Roshanon be destroyed, that the mere presence of such artifacts from the Age of Wonder tainted those who kept them, and that doom was sure to be brought upon the city. The hegemon resisted the Wyrd's encroachment for decades with the wisdom of the quatrine stewards always able to sway the city. But time saw the death of two of the stewards and the election of their replacements boded ill for Roshanon.
Those who replaced the stewards were zealots of the Wyrd. Vastly younger than the two remaining stewards, they didn't allow wisdom and experience to temper their decisions but kept up an assault upon the city's old ways in favor of new. Often locked in stalemate, the hegemon became inept and more and more corrupt as the teachings of the Wyrd continued to spread.
Perhaps the teachings of the Wyrd were a self fulfilling prophecy. In time, the Horde of greenskins descended upon the valleys around Roshanon. Other richer city-states fell to the Horde advance, and raids on the farms and outposts surrounding Roshanon became more and more common. The elder quatrine stewards — Zeyk and Arbilane counseled preparing the city for assault, but the younger members of the hegemon refused to hear them. They believed that the distance and reclusiveness of the fair city would keep them safe from the tides of the Horde.
And come the Horde did. Not its main force, but sufficient to surround Roshanon and lay it siege. It was in those dark days of famine and fear that the hegemon and quatrine of Roshanon were truly tested. Panic gripped the city and demands were made to send runners for outside aid. Those that did try to flee were easily caught by the Horde and put to death in their grim killing circle as an example to the remaining residents. As the residents of Roshanon watched, the greenskins laid waste to their once lush an beautiful plain. The rich farmlands, the clear streams, the golden meadows; all were sundered. By fire, lime and blood, the valley of Roshanon and its plain and forests were laid barren.
In the third month of siege, as the stores of grain grew small and water from the city well salty, half the quatrine met in secret. Zeyk and Arbilane gathered to discuss their latest fear. A rumor had spread that the other members of the quatrine and many of the hegemon were preparing to parlay with the Horde. Their strategy apparently to ask mercy in the name of the New Church of Gond and the Wyrd. Realizing this as folly, Zeyk and Arbilane sought a means to thwart that attempt, for surely, should the city gates open, the city would fall.
As the two considered their dilemma, a dear old friend came to Arbilane's private study. Brother Maqs, the hegemon delegate from the priesthood of Duvan. He was an ancient elf, early as old as Zeyk and Arbilane themselves and had passed up the quatrine for his church. The two new him well and trusted him wholly. With Maqs however, was a man none had seen in the city before. Also an ancient elf in his own right, this stranger possessed a sense of wisdom and knowledge; and a warning.
The stranger told Arbilane, Zeyk and Maqs that the great collections of Roshanon were priceless beyond all imagining. He urged removing them from the city and vouchsafing them from the Wyrd and the Horde.
His arguments were persuasive, and though he would give no details of whence he came nor how he knew of the Roshanite treasures, the three trusted him nonetheless. And so it was that Zeyk went to the rogues guild to enlist his son in law's aid. The thief's guild, rarely trusting any but their own agreed to stealthily gather the antiquities of Roshanon.
And gather they did; they stole unbidden and unseen into every guild hall, home and chapel that contained artifacts from the Age of Wonder. These were laid out in Zeyk's hall and the three plus the stranger sorted them and packed them for travel. The rogues guild was paid well for their effort and left the three to finish their work. When they had finished, packs were laid out containing antiquities of arms & armor, scroll & tablet, scepter & wand, and many amulets, rings and other trinkets. As they gazed at the bundles in awe of the collection, not having a clue as to their purpose or use, the stranger spoke. He bade them prepare themselves to leave in 2 hours. Agast, the Zeyk, Maqs and Arbilane started to refuse, claiming they were too old and frail to travel. The stranger's eyes told all and their reticence was put aside. "Two hours," the stranger said, "and bring with you one other you most trust."
Later that evening, Zeyk with his servant Ombir, Arbilane with her daughter Amrigan, and Maqs with his brother Loris gather again with the stranger. The stranger bid each of them gather a bundle for transport and led them off into the night. The band was not again seen in Roshanon, which soon after fell to the Horde as the hegemon's attempt at parley failed.
Through myth and legend, we remember sightings of the band, passed down as stories from the time of the refugees of the Horde. One such story claims that four ancient dark elves were seen traveling with three servants, hastily fleeing the Horde coming from the south. What is strange about this story and others is the way in which the group was said to have traveled. It is rumored that as normal folk walked the refugee road, this band would appear at some crossroads and then seem to move very quickly along the road, as if traveling through time as well as place. They were said to walk more slowly than other travelers and yet arrive long before them at a crossroads or inn. Strange indeed, but surely just myth. As to what ultimately became of Zeyk, Arbilane, Amrigan, Maqs, Loris and the stranger, no one knows. After the Horde fell and the Wyrd petered out, naught was heard of them again.
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N.B. The legends of Roshanon and the flight of the quatrine have long been considered little more than legend. However, my excavations of the ruins of an ancient elven city and what I have found there convince me that they are at least in part true. Surveying in the northern valley, I came upon a sundered plain and forest of burnt and parched earth. As I excavated the ruins there, I discovered a hide scroll. It was penned hastily in dark elven script and took many weeks to translate. When I had finished the translation, the above story was revealed, signed by Arbilane herself. She had taken the last two hours in her birthplace to pen a telling of the events that led to her departure. Surely my translation carries none of the emotional weight and gravity of the situation that a more advanced scholar would wrest from her writing, but it seems authentic nonetheless.
Vichion Porens, Duvanal Monk, Kemstead Abbey