The sons and daughters of Frael are as varied as the land itself. Bands of camel herders roam across sand swept dunes, heavily pierced tribesmen hunt through insect riddled jungles, and bone-armored raiders trade with spice merchants in ever-shifting oasis bazaars. Two things bind these scattered folk together; survival in an unforgiving land... and the machinations of the Merchant Seers. From the coastal capital of Maphotepsis, they work to unify Frael, forging a nation to rival Arkhos and Thaedia. Those tribes they do not buy with gold or promise of shared resources, they subjugate and enslave by the might of dozens of mercenary armies.
The Merchant Seers
Little is known of the five Merchant Seers as they are secretive to a fault. They wear featureless masks in public, surround themselves with powerful enslaved sorcerers, and hide the location of their palace… assuming they even have one. What can be gleaned, is that they rule from behind a puppet sultan; Mehmut ll, of Maphotepsis, a shrewd and formidable man in his own right.
The Pharidae Monoliths
The Pharidae Union’s necromantic rituals turned huge swathes of the Fraelite populace into undead. To save their remaining populace, the cities of Frael swore fealty to Kalomesch; yet as The Alliance Of The Living drove deeper into their homeland, the Fraelite rose up against their deathless oppressors. All that now remains of the Pharidae are scattered pyramids and obelisks, reportedly haunted by restless wraiths.
The Pharidae made slaves of many tribes surrounding their kingdom and neglected the needs of their living subjects. This tyranny gave rise to one of the most fanatical holy orders in Scy’kadia… The Bone Hunters. Devoted to Kree, they mercilessly hunt all who seek to cheat death. Their base of operations is a small temple city in the heart of ruined Pharid called Hakam Almawt.
Just south of the mountains bordering Lo’Quai lies a stretch of especially forbidding desert. Almost as arid as the nearby Bone Dust plains, this pale wasteland is home to a tribe of ghostly warriors called The Calythim. They are known for lashing out at travelers with little-to-no provocation, painting themselves to blend with the swirling sands.
Jungle Of Claws
Although it would seem an idyllic place of shelter, given the surrounding desert’s lack of water and scorching heat, this jungle poses many dangers. The trees are filled with vile insects, and reptilian monsters prowl the deeper paths. Human and orc tribesmen with red tattoos row from The Sabre Isles with fearsome sabre-cats to hunt beneath the canopy.
Traditionally, slaves owned by the city dwellers of Frael are marked by dots tattooed or burnt upon their cheeks. The more dots a slave has, the more masters they have been passed between. A young slave with more than three dots is assumed to be unruly, and is sold for far less than an unmarked slave.
Note: Records from before The Time Of Founding are notoriously scarce...
1MR – The Pharaohs of Pharid, already feared for their necromantic power, accept tribute from nomadic tribes and coastal villages.
61MR – The gold-rich tribes of Jindris form their kingdom beside the Jungle Of Claws.
126MR – A coalition of tribes, whose names have since been lost, unite to destroy Pharid. In response, the Pharidae unleash an arcane plague called Scarab Rot and summon armies of skeletal soldiers. The tribes are enslaved or obliterated. Over the next several hundred years, Pharid embarks on a quiet campaign to bind surrounding tribes to their service.
156MR – The wealthy Maphitahn tribes replace many coastal villages with palace cities, the first of which is named Maphotepsis. Each is ruled by a sultan with familial ties to their neighbors. Trade roads are built across the eastern coast.
163MR - A pulse of arcane energy rolls out from The Weft, bringing with it swarms of demons. Desert tribes, and a handful of coastal cities, spend seasons skirmishing with the ruinous entities. As suddenly as the tide appeared... it vanishes, as though cut off by something Weftward.
191MR – Fleeing predation by the Calythim, a Maphitahn caravan gets lost in the mountains and stumbles upon the hidden realm of Lo’Quai. Trade routes are swiftly established.
213MR – Fisher-folk called the El’himshari form a kingdom on the south-eastern tip of Frael.
260MR – Lo’Quaim medicine starts to appear in Frael, sparking an interest in alchemy among the Maphitahn sultans and their courts.
294MR – El’himshar develops the fastest fleet in Scy’kadia. They begin to trade as far afield as Lo’Quai, bypassing the land-based trade routes established and controlled by the Maphitahn.
350MR – Orc warchief Vorak Five-Tusk leads his horde on a rampage through Frael. Unsated by skirmishes with the elusive local tribes, he grows reckless, and is driven into Thaedia. There, the horde is crushed between The Legion and vengeful Fraelite pursuers.
381MR – Jealous of El’himshar’s commercial success, Sultan Közus III of Maphotepsis allies himself with fallen elf corsairs. Together, they invade and raze El’himshar. The fallen elves leave with thousands of slaves. Maphotepsis gains a battered but still impressive fleet, becoming a major naval power.
409MR – The War Of Blazing Sands: Corrupted elementals of fire and air migrate toward the coast, conjuring a blistering sandstorm as they go. Unable to flee, the Maphitahn cities deploy mounted soldiers and tribal mercenaries. Several running battles, though bravely fought, fail to divert the migration. In the end, brother and sister duo Irjam and Imirah, both expert thieves, enter the storm. None witness the bargain that is struck, but the elementals flee back into the desert. Despite a shower of gifts by grateful sultans, Irjam and Imirah leave the cities to travel the length of Frael, spreading the worship of a new lesser deity called Turq'uthlat.
427MR – Flash powder starts to arrive from Lo’Quai, though its use is relegated to the wealthy.
451MR – Sultan Abdalim I of Maphotepsis replaces the rulers of other Maphitahn cities with viziers loyal to him. The process is sudden, marked by assassinations and secret street-wars. Maphotepsis becomes a leading power in Frael, opposite Pharid.
474MR – After long years of covert experimentation, the undead armies of Pharid emerge at the behest of Tomb Prince Kalomesch. Unable to stand alone against such an implacable enemy, even with support from vassal cities, Maphotepsis swears allegiance to Pharid. The Pharidae Union is formed and The Pharidae War begins.
583MR – The Pharidae are defeated, bringing an end to the war. Maphotepsis is forced to rebuild its lost naval strength. Jindris is no more. Freed tribes begin to scour the deserts of surviving undead.
584MR – Bone Hunters gather from across Frael to tear down the cities of Pharid. Only the pyramid monoliths prove unassailable, protected by evil wards and spectral guardians. Many holy warriors refuse to return home, instead founding Hakam Almawt, devoting the city to Kree and the prevention of all future undead kingdoms.
592MR – The various Maphitahn cities, wishing to extend their hard-won freedom, declare independence from Maphotepsis. Maphotepsis acquiesces, unwilling to risk further bloodshed, yet remains the center of trade in Frael.
595MR - Prophets across Scy’kadia receive visions of the Weftyril portals reawakening. Confusion meets these portents, but restless tribal champions and foolhardy traders start flocking Weftward.
624MR – Angered when Sultan Rakshul I carves a gifted tree into a new throne, the Calythim descend on Maphotepsis. Rather than defend his walls, the arrogant sultan confronts the ghostly tribesmen on open ground. His army is scattered; Rakshul is then pursued through the desert for three years, and finally meets his end on The Dunes Of Blood And Gold, slain by a Calythim warleader. During the chase, his young son, Mehmut II, takes power. At the same time, the mysterious Merchant Seers appear...