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Remnants of a failed human domain, the barbarian Rhuu clans have but one last place to call their own… The Serpent Marshes. Within their hydra-riddled swamp bastion, at the behest of matriarchal druidic chieftains, the Rhuu have held out for hundreds of years against aggressive expansion by neighboring realms.

Serpent Marshes by April Crum

Rovers

The Rhuu never stay in one place for long. Their marsh shelters can be likened to something part-caravan and part-raft. This is perhaps why no invader has yet broken them… you cannot fight what you cannot find. Over the generations, many clans have opted to leave the marshes and seek an easier life on the road. Though they adopt the language and garb of the lands through which they travel, Rhuu are often mistreated with suspicion and disdain, blamed for misfortunes and theft wherever they go. Thus, no matter where they are, a Rhuu will never call any place but the marshes home.

The Elder Spirits

Survivors of Rhuul, which was weakened by a plague called The Shivering Gloom, then crushed between Arkhos and Thaedia, most Rhuu seek to distance themselves from the gods of their invaders and oppressors. Instead they pray collectively to three marsh deities: Osud, shield maiden of fate. Potzim, who keeps all clan laws. Zvire, a primal nature spirit, who wears the form of a bear.

Warrior Queens

The most respected member of a Rhuu clan is the Shae’farhuul, a woman who has proven herself sharp of mind and blade. She guides the clan through important decisions by communing with The Elder Spirits, and counsels on matters of war and strategy. Most Shae’farhuul, at the behest of Osud, become adept mages, with power over nature, able to spy upon interlopers via the eyes of beasts. Bands of roving Rhuu oft have Shae’farhuul too, and many are the fools who seek their wisdom, expecting a bent old witch... only to meet a formidable warrior seer.

Notable History

Note: Records from before The Time Of Founding are notoriously scarce...

1MR - Rhuul emerges largely unscathed from The Time Of Mageblight, due largely to the protective charms and wisdom of their druidic leaders. Rhuul encompasses much of what is now considered southern Arkhos (where they skirmish with the iron clad Arkh), the river lands of northern Thaedia, and all that lies between.

27MR - Grey-garbed raiders from Sogdul prey upon the southern river clans. Clan Sionnach Ag Tart, known for rumors of vulpine shifters in their midst, responds by spreading warriors across southern Rhuul. Ruthless hunts ensue, earning the clan much gratitude and an ever-more frightful reputation.

83MR - The Unraveling War: Rhuulim land-sorcery bleeds into nearby Yenrad, disrupting the bindings of greater elemental guardians. Unleashed, the entities wreak havoc, prompting the Yenrady to launch a retaliatory invasion of Rhuul. The mobile Rhuu clans, at the very peak of their power, muster swiftly. With their most potent elementals untethered, Yenrad is beaten back.

113MR - Seers across Rhuul are struck by omens of misfortune, fortelling a doomed realm suddenly devoured. Familiars are sent far and wide in search of answers, and soon discover that the Yenrady have vanished, forsaking their lands to travel Weftward. Thinking this the focus of the troubling bodements, the Rhuu make no further preparations.

163MR - The Fell Surging: A pulse of arcane energy rolls outward from The Weft, bringing with it swarms of demons. Rhuul is hit hard, but after seasons of desperate nightmarish battle, the tide disappears... as though cut off by something deep in The Weft.

206MR - The Shivering Gloom descends on Rhuul, devastating the populace. Those few seers healthy enough to cast divinations are unable to discover the source of their affliction. Terror and despair spreads as quickly, and prayers to the gods go unanswered. As Rhuu villages waste away and empty, neighboring Thaedians and Arkh capture the abandoned lands. Many Rhuu in the south, lucky enough to survive, are taken by Thaedia as indebted. Just as all seems lost, The Elder Spirits manifest to their people, guiding them into the marshes, where the disease seems unable to follow. Rhuul is no more.

232MR - For the first time whole clans of restless Rhuu take to the roads of Scy'kadia, unable to bear the isolation of their swampy enclave.

259MR - Eadgyth of clan Diabhal Gréine, daughter of Shae'farhuul Jahanvii, finds an elven prince half-drowned in the marshes. Calling himself Nim'loth, he claims to have washed ashore from the sea. As he recovers, cared for by Eadgyth, romance blossoms. The pair are soon wed... and Nim'loth starts to manipulate the rest of the clan. Under Nim'loth's charming influence, they migrate closer to the sea, stealing from other clans rather than foraging to speed their travels. Despite her love, Eadgyth realizes the elf is hiding something. She helps her mother corner Nim'loth, allowing Jahanvii to scry his thoughts. Nim'loth is revealed as a fallen elf corsair; aiming to lead the clan back to his awaiting ship and enslave them. Eadgyth kills her husband, then makes talismans from his bones, gifting them to the clans from whom they stole.

335MR - Traevor's Denial: A Rhuu caravan is caught in The Crosslands by a warband of goblins riding wargs, chariots, and oddly, centaurs. "Uncle To Crows" Traevor, an aged warrior, directs his kin with a blend of tactics from the lands they have visited. In place of Legion shields, they use tipped wagons. Instead of knightly armor, they strap pans and scrounged metals to their chests. They use Lo'Quaim alchemicals to set a ring of fire about their position. For five days the rovers hunker down, picking off enemy leaders with Fraelite slings and javelins, while fiddles and Rhuulim bladder-pipes greet each charge with a dirge of defiance. No Rhuu is left unscarred, yet they eventually make a break through the increasingly undirected attackers.

392MR - The Skin Debt: Provincial Thaedian commander, Iactus Derro, goaded by his officers, sends scouts into The Serpent Marshes to bring back tattooed Rhuu hides. Shae'farhuul Giorsal "The Snake Of Sung Lies" tricks the murderous interlopers with illusions, coaxing them into nests of hungry hydras. She and her best trackers then leave the marshes to infiltrate Iactus' barracks by night. In the morning, every visible Legion flag has been replaced with human skins, the brands of Legion officers flapping in the breeze.

431MR - Several clans led by fiery young Rhuu set out to reclaim ancestral lowlands to the north-west of the marshes. Though initially successful, building towns with simple stone forts, Arkhos soon takes notice; unwilling to cede the region, armies from a dozen lesser houses converge upon the region. The Rhuu are steadily ousted until only a few clans remain. Sensing an opportunity for wealth and labor at someone else's expense, the Arkhosian nobles agree to spare the dogged Rhuu, making them vassals. By 456MR the lowlands are considered Arkhosian territory again, but are overseen by Rhuu clan-lords on behalf of greedy overseers. Today, the re-settlers' descendants share mixed Rhuu-Arkhosian heritage and most have lost touch with their culture, though they still refer to themselves as clans, not houses. Deemed lowborn mongrels by their lordly neighbors, and turncoats by Rhuu of the marshes, they view themselves as battered survivors who refused to surrender their little slice of old Rhuul.

456MR - Violent clashes break out between Arkhos and Thaedia, vying for control of lands surrounding the marshes. The Rhuu become a thorn in the combatants' sides, launching strikes of opportunity, though the sheer flood of invaders proves impossible to stymie.

470MR - Cadhla's Inconceivable Carnival, a circus run by roving Rhuu entertainers, travels the length and breadth of Scy'kadia, collecting all manner of fantastical creatures and accumulating a stock of "supposedly" ancient relics. Unusually for Rhuu, the circus is welcomed in places like Maphotepsis, Lo'Quai, and Brokenstone; they even perform in Fen'arloth and Pharid. Alas, they recieve a chillier reception in Arkhos and Thaedia.

474MR - The Pharidae War begins.

583MR - The Pharidae War draws to a close.

595MR - Prophets across Scy’kadia receive visions of the Weftyril portals reawakening. Many adventure-starved marsh Rhuu head Weftward, as do scores of rover bands.

629MR - Maggh O'Kilaer, a mighty Shae'farhuul turned necromancer and vampiress, rampages through a slew of trade towns in The Weft, sparking an excess of distrust and hostility towards Rhuu travellers... that is until two rover troupes and a marsh-born warband unite to hunt her down... unearthing and slaying many more vampires than expected in the process.

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