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The areas that later coalesced into the realm of Muetar suffered less from the great Cataclysm than did most other parts of the ancient Lloroi Empire. Though the destruction of standing structures was great, the tipping of the planet's axis actually improved the climate in the long term, which previously had been cold- er and dryer. Moreover, the upheavals rechanneled two great rivers, the Deep and the Wanderer, so that they cut new course through the region's heartland. Once the shaken inhabitants recovered from the shock of hurricanes and earth-
Outside of Nature's first destruction, these early days were marred by frequent aftershocks and the invasion of starving mobs and marauders. The cities could not be supplied with provisions while the land underfoot remained in revolt (as it did to a small degree for a long time afterwards). Accustomed to public grain doles from the extinct Imperial government, the citified refugees who had been cast of their ruined cities found themselves ill-equipped to survive except by begging or plundering. Fortunately, the country people in many places man- aged to organize in time to defend their homes. They benefited additionally by accepting the leadership of neighbors trained in the Imperial Army. Over the next few years the swarms of marauders were thinned by starvation, exposure, and disease. Only a few, who had special and useful skills, found refuge with the countrymen. The remaining survivors retreated into the wilds, their children and grandchildren eventually degenerating into deep barbarism. The pacified region breathed a sigh of relief and for the next couple generations the vast region which would someday be enclosed inside the Empire of Muetar was scantily populated by hunters and scattered farming communities.
The inhabitants of the post-Cataclysm called their land Kalruna-Sasir, the "Land of Great Rivers." Blessed by circumstance and the industry of its people, the area fared much better than lands to the east and west, which had fallen to ris - ing tribes of semi-nomadic primitives. Kalruna-Sasir was, however, more a cul - tural region than a state. As prosperity and population increased, peaceful trade developed between the growing villages, but each community jealously pre- served its self-governing status and was usually led by an elected council of eld- ers.
Eventually, disunity undid Kalruna-Sasir. As arable land began to run short, quarrels developed over rival claims between towns. The resultant animosity played into the hands of ambitious leaders who hatched schemes to seize neighboring holdings by force of arms. The History of Beolon by Hillero, our principal source for information of this early period, laments: "While men still worked to rebuild a shattered world, lords, priests, and village headmen kept in some degree their proper place in society. But when all memory of harsh times had passed away with the generations and men knew only the present, peace- ful state of things, all principles of truth and justice were spurned to such an extent that not even a dream of them remained, except in a few -- and they were very few."
Now, centuries after the Cataclysm, outsiders had begun to make themselves known on the fringes of Kalruna-Sasir. Some of them were barbarian tribes descended from dispossessed people driven from the settled regions in the chaotic aftermath of the Cataclysm. Instead of coming together to ward off these dangerous outsiders, warring parties inside Kalruna-Sasir eagerly hired these barbarians as mercenaries against one another. At first the tribesmen fought well for their paymasters, but the stories and goods they brought home afterwards incited their kinsmen to gain such booty for themselves. Slowly at first, then more rapidly, loot-hungry tribes migrated toward the pleasant, culti- vated land in the center of the continent. Disunited, the warring communities fell rapidly to their attacks. When the natives were all fled, slain, or enslaved, the wars still went on with one barbarian tribe fighting against another, with war- chiefs founding tiny, ephemeral kingdoms. The most good to come of the con- quest was the fact that enough of the original people remained to pass on a more civilized outlook to their uncouth masters.
conditions stabilized as the mild conditions of Kalruna- Sasir and bountiful harvests took the warlike edge off the invaders. The existence of
trading posts, such as devel- oped at Pennol and Basimar, bespoke the development of other pursuits aside from prim- itive agriculture and raiding.
But the establishment of pros - perity amongst Kalruna-Sasir's new mix of population sum- moned more invaders from the wilderness, as raw and unlet-
They took over a tract of the northeast and based them- selves there for raiding, but if tradition may be relied upon, these early attacks were invari -
ably repulsed. The men of Kalruna-Sasir formed alliances and maintained their property and independence. The many small principalities born of the
first barbarian invasions now came together for mutual sup- port, and eventually the river region was divided into just a few political bodies where
before there had been scores. For convenience we shall refer to these units as kingdoms, though their governing struc -
The gods must have taken a special interest in the Mueta. They hung on to their lands even after the second-wave invasions had petered out, multiplied, estab- lished a crude kingdom of their own, and made seasonal raids to seize more ter- ritory. Seven centuries after the Cataclysm, resistance to these churlish adven- turers began to weaken -- owing perhaps to internal dissension brought on by changing times. A Mueta Chieftain managed to capture the stronghold of Basimar by a ruse and quickly proceeded to annex it. Resistance was slight since the barbarous Muetan king, whose name was Oyaro, proved to be a strong, fair-minded leader who put a welcome end to the prevailing strife of the region.
At this point in time the Mueta become known as the Muetarans, a name which denoted all who lived in the territory, not just those of tribal blood. Oyaro found- ed a long line of princes, the Oyarostars, and these governed Muetar until the twelfth century after the Cataclysm. The early Oyarostars maintained a disci- plined kingdom and waged perpetual war on the frontier. They encouraged their warriors by generous awards of newly-conquered lands, a portion of which, of course, they retained as crown land, thus also enriching the monarchy. Externally, they were opposed by the older dynasts of Pennol, who had long- since formed the Maragonian kingdom. These, too, became aggressive and expansionist.
A slow process of consolidation operated in Kalruna-Sasir. When enemies were strong, the expansion of the Maragonian and Muetaran states were temporari - ly checked. When a kingdom fell into disorder, it generally crumbled before the attacks of one or the other.
An astonishing event accelerated the evolution of Muetar. In the tenth century after the Cataclysm, Minaria suffered invasion by monstrosities which the ancients called "the abominations of the land and the horrors of the air." Since many records were destroyed during these dreadful incursions, Hillero and the lesser historians necessarily made use of dubious materials in the story of these times, such as epic poetry and legend. The creatures may have been amphib- ians, for in all the lands they invested, they tended to follow river valleys inland from the coast. Their eruption into the great lake of the Deep, then called Lake Lorimer ("the Green Waters"), caused it to be renamed Lake Carth -- "Carth" meaning "abomination" in the regional dialect. Since that time unverified reports of sinuous monsters in Lake Carth have been many and persistent.
The most plausible explanation for this unnatural era of monsters belongs to the history of early Mivior. Not even the Maragonian kingdom could stand before the horrifying onslaught. Suffice it to say that the scourge sent hosts of refugees streaming eastward into the Muetaran domain, where the Oyarostars sold their succor dearly. They forced many a landed refugee into harsh oaths of fealty. Even though most of these unwilling vassals repudiated these forced oaths as soon as they could, the Oyarostars used them politically as a pretext for much of their subsequent aggression and confiscations.
The "abominations of the land and the horrors of the air" lost their impetus soon after reaching the Muetaran frontiers. The Oyarostars successfully held them at bay and several Muetaran epic heroes gained fame in these times as great monster-slayers. The monsters began to die out as mysteriously as they had come. The Oyarostar kingdom had survived intact and was therefore capable of following the retreat cautiously, capturing the devastated Pennol in the twelfth year of King Mykino, the 996th year after the Cataclysm. The surviving Maragonian aristocracy either went abroad or were put out of their lands in poverty. In the future "Maragonian" became a Muetaran synonym for "insolent peasant" and the ethnic hatreds resulting from the conquest was not soon done away with.
The devastation of Kalruna-Sasir left a power vacuum which was swiftly filled by Muetar's armies. The petty kingdoms of Groat and Beolon were the last to fall. By the early eleventh century, the Muetarans had largely achieved their present- day borders. In this period, they seized the north shore of Lake Carth, whose more primitive inhabitants, the Vidarna tribe, had been weakened by the destruction and subsequent capture of their major trading partner, Pennol. Not permanently subdued, these people figure largely in the history of Immer. The theft of the Lake Carth land rankled their people as a whole and recovering it became a stubborn Irredentist claim.
After the conquest of Muetar's natural borders, the Oyarostar's subsequent mil - itary adventures fared badly. The wilderness of the Border Forest and the Mountains of Ice were not worth the cost of annexing. The trading cities of the south were too far away and lay beyond a barren wasteland unsuitable for Muetaran horse cavalry. Equally forbidding were the Nithmere Mountains, pop- ulated by powerful Goblin tribes. To the northwest the resurgent Vidarna checked any additional advances; moreover, Muetarans disliked the cold north- ern winters and the short growing season. The warm country of Hothior proved a much more tempting target.
For a time the eastern Hothiorans fell under Muetaran power, as the country had not reorganized well after the invasion of the monsters ended. But though par- tially subdued, the Hothiorans would not assimilate into the Muetaran kingdom, not even as well as the Maragonians. For the first time the Muetarans were try - ing to subjugate a people with whom they shared no cultural traditions whatso- ever. They were men of the inland river country and the Hothiorans never ceased to regard them as aliens and enemies. Many Hothiorans took to the hills and forests, from whence they mounted raids against Muetaran strongholds and others from Hothior who collaborated with the enemy. When pressed by Muetaran armies, the quasi-tribal bands retired beyond the River Ebbing, where Hothior remained free and loosely-organized. There reinforced and supplied, the resistance invariably returned east with a vengeance.
The Muetarans replied with massacres and the mass deportation of Hothiorans as serfs for the homeland. But such policies only incited an ever more bitter and desperate resistance. At length, the king of Muetar resolved to deprive the rebels of their bases by the conquest of all Hothior, no matter what the cost. The cost, alas, proved disastrous, for a major Muetaran army was lured into ambush and shattered. In a continuing flood of victory, the Hothiorans rose up and swept all the Muetaran landlords and colonists back to their own country.
The failure of expansion shocked and demoralized the Oyarostaran state. The energies of the landless nobility, once turned against foreign foes, now festered into internal strife. The later Oyarostars found no better solution than to attempt to buy loyalty, as in the past, with land grants. But the only land left to give away was crown land whose alienation weakened the dynasty. The impoverished monarchy inspired baronial contempt and an era of robber barons began. The last kings failed to acquit themselves well, were ignored by their subjects, and lapsed into wild eccentricities. One of the last, Gybalus, accomplished so little he was known by no loftier epithet than "the Flute Player." After a century of Oyarostaran impotence, an ambitious sorcerer named Corfu usurped the throne. The year was 1240 A.C.
Oyarostaran queen, whose only son had an illness that only Corfu seemed able to control. A subtle man, he was soon controlling much more than the heir's ill - ness. He especially created a personal power base among the poor and dis- possessed of Maragonia. He demanded and received high offices and com- missions. Then, when he was a political power in the kingdom, he struck sud- denly and murderously, wiping out the whole line, except for Prince Rustad.
It is believed that Rusted was later killed in secret by Corfu and his agents or instead was slain by brigands as he fled along the roads. Still others say that the unfortunate heir was executed in secret by Egalon of Pennol, to whom he supposedly turned for assistance. A few aver that he actually was one of the several "false-Rustads" who attempted to unseat Emperor Egalon early in his reign. These stories belong to folklore, not history.
After his usurpation of the throne, Corfu attained the kind of power not enjoyed by a black sorcerer since the days of the Scarlet Witch King. He sent agents into neighboring territories and assisted local covens to seize control of their own kingdoms as he had done. His minions were most successful in Hothior, where a demonist named Mornard used magic to clear his way to the chancel - lorship and reduced the monarch to a mere puppet.
The murderous ascendancy of Corfu, the despotism, and his repellant sorcery spurred the last responsible elements in Muetar into action. Egalon, a prince of Pennol with a dash of royal Oyarostar blood in his veins, rallied the country in revolt. The war laid the country waste, but Corfu eventually felt his power ebbing. In desperation he won an alliance of the magic-wise Wandering People by means of a large land grant to the nomads, but he failed to protect them from rebel raiders, who burned their new homes and slew many of their tribe. The surviving Wanderers placed the curse of the werewolf upon the evil, incompe- tent ruler. Henceforth Corfu was distracted by his ghastly affliction and the rebel forces made great gains against him.
Bad news came to Corfu from abroad as well. His conspiratorial allies failed to gain real power in their respective kingdoms and even his most important ally, Mornard of Hothior, perished in combat with a patriotic sorceress who went by the name of Sheladeann.
Finally, Corfu used black magic of the most awful kind to draw the curse into his left hand, and then he struck it off, at last freeing himself of the Wandering People's curse.
But it was too late to save the power he had stolen. Seizing Basimar, Egalon slew Corfu while he was in the midst of a desperate conjuration. The victor mounted the throne as the first of a new dynasty, that of the Pirostars which rules Muetar to the present day.
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