As mentioned elsewhere, how the world of Zerith came to be is not known. No Gods claim to have created the world, and even beings who are apparently millions of years old have no tales of a time before Zerith existed. There are the merest hints of very ancient civilizations that may have thrived before even the Elves existed. In 1731 (more than four thousand years ago), the scholar Nolar Casingvas of Landberg wrote about a ring that had been brought to him by a wizard. Together, the scholar and the wizard had been able to determine only that the ring was more than two hundred millennia old.
According to stories told by Elven scholars, there are records of several visits to Zerith by Elven explorers about 100,000 years before the birth of the Zerithian people. At that time, they tell us, there were human tribes warring across the continent1 and Dwarven cities in all of the major mountain ranges. No Elf has given a satisfactory answer as to why the Elves visited Zerith, or why they didn’t stay.
There is extant evidence of several early human cities, particularly along the southern coast in central and eastern Zerith. Not much is known about the culture (or cultures) that built the cities, or what their fate was.
On the other hand, there is ample evidence of Dwarven cities in the Iron Mountains that were abandoned towards the end of the period that is usually ascribed to this era. It wasn’t recorded what drove the Dwarves out, but it’s known that they more or less fled with what they could carry, and not much else. From time to time, the bravest of adventurers has visited the ancient Dwarven sites. Most have not returned, but there are stories of terrible ruin that was visited on the Dwarf-works, far greater than any dragon could have wreaked.
Rise of the Humans
The history of the Zerithian people is usually divided into the following eras:
- Classical (~4200 BE to 1 IY) – Development of distinctive culture, architecture, etc.
- First Zerithian Empire (1 IY to 1808 IY)
- Interregnum (1808 IY – 2699 IY) – Fall of the First Empire until the rise of the Second
- Second Zerithian Empire (2699 IY to 4342 IY)
- Modern (4342 IY to present) – After the fall of the Second Zerithian Empire
Zerithian culture precipitated out of the necessity of forming communities to fend off raiding humanoids from the Starkspit Mountains, and occasional rampages by Akamkap hordes. About 10,000 years ago, the first permanent Zerithian settlements were built, inspired no doubt, by the fortress ruins along the southern coast of what is now the Kingdom of Westen. For centuries, these ruins had provided emergency shelter for fisherman and farmers along the coast from Kustman and humanoid raiders.
[to be continued…]