Astrom, if you don’t yet know it, is the imaginary world I have created as the setting for my stories. This history builds upon the introduction that I published a few weeks ago. In a nutshell Astrom possesses 11,000 years of recorded history. To expand those 11 millennia in all their fullness would take a vast compendium of volumes and many lifetimes which are likely to be denied to me, so what I give here is a massively shortened summary, tracing the broad brushstrokes and themes.
The natural history of Astrom, of course, far antedates these 11,000 years, much as Earth’s 4.5 billion or so years precede the dawn of recorded human history. The elves first awoke at the beginning of this history, and have existed ever since. To put that in context, try imagining what we know about the world in 9,000 BC, or considering whether anything in existence then still exists. Elves are immortal, and a select few of the very first elves are still living who first awoke at the dawn of their race.
The elves came from the sky, sent to Astrom by Prélan (God – the same as our God) in pods made of star-glass. The first six who awoke were three pairs of male and female, and they became the kings and queens of three distinct kindreds: high-elves (the eldest and greatest), sea-elves and wood-elves. They walked the lands of Kalimar for 500 years before being joined by the followers of their race, a celestial migration of 10,000 elves who came to Astrom in more star-glass pods. Thus came about the race of the elves, who created for themselves the kingdom of Kalimar – which means ‘Beautiful Land’ – and which was subdivided into regions inhabited by the three kindreds.
The elves lived and flourished in bliss for a thousand years before they became aware of other beings. Just as Satan fell from grace and began opposing God in our world, so in Astrom the fire-demon rebelled against Prélan. The greatest tragedy of the elvish race remains the formative truth that the fire-demon seduced some of them in the early days of their acquaintance away from Prélan, rebels who degenerated into the evil orcs and trolls who joined with the fire-demon and his demonic allies in a long war against the elves. Known as The Great Wars, this conflict marred elvish civilisation and the world around it, and the elves only emerged victorious at great cost when Avatar, the High-King, threw down the fire-demon and spell-bound him on a distant island-prison on the frozen edges of the world.
The elves emerged from this conquest greatly burdened, their innocence replaced with cruelly-gained wisdom. Yet if this first great tragedy was one of demonic doing, the next sadness to afflict the elves was of their own making. For though excellent and virtuous beyond human comparison in mind and body, they, like us, were given free will upon entry into the world, a free will which carried with it an incumbent propensity to sin. Pride, hubris and covetousness were the means by which the elves became divided, a slow process in which younger scions of the great elven houses departed Kalimar, either in voluntary exploration or forced exile, and founded new realms in the far-flung parts of Astrom.
These migrations carried with them the seeds from which the different nations of Astrom sprang, with their manifold destinies, and inevitable rivalries. Eretol, grandson of Avatar, founded Ciricen to the north of Kalimar with his son Faran, before continuing westward to establish Endomar (later Hendar) in the north-west of Astrom; Lancearon, Eretol’s brother, marched down the great Vanri valley to build the realm of Ithrill in the extreme west, although some of his followers turned aside at various points along the river’s banks to begin communities in what would become Aranar, the central realm of Astrom; and Arvarion, great-grandson of Avatar, went south to Alanmar (later Maristonia).
These nations grew and took their own distinctive shape as the First Chapter (chapters were units of elvish time, covering 3,000 years) drew to a close. At the dawn of the Second Chapter life on Astrom became more diverse as the races of dwarves and armists were awoken in the Carthaki Mountains, and as evil creatures began leaking from the fire-demon’s island-prison into the civilised latitudes.
The Second Chapter was dominated by two great themes. Firstly, the elves in the south found themselves having to share what would later become Maristonia with two other races: armists and dwarves. The elves and the armists found a way to live together, the elves harnessing the strength and dependability of the armists, and the armists learning much from the elves as tutors in medicine, philosophy, the arts, agriculture, construction, mining, manufacturing and warfare.
But no such modus vivendi could be achieved between the elves and the dwarves, who were diametrically opposed in their aims and ways of thinking and living. Their deepening rivalry was to define the Second Chapter for all of Ebinnin (southern Astrom, situated below the River Vanri, which runs like a belt across the middle of the continent). This rivalry culminated in the legendary Carthaki Wars, in which many glorious feats were performed, and many grievous losses sustained. This conflict dissipated elven power in the south, but also ended with the retreat of the dwarves into their underground city, from whence they ever afterwards had only seldom and fleeting dealings with folk living on the surface. In the vacuum left by these two warring races, the armists rose to power, and an armist king established his throne in the kingdom of Maristonia.
The second great theme was largely played out in Ciroken, that northern part of Astrom lying above the Vanri dividing line. It was a spiritual decline of a large portion of the elven population, many of whom strayed from Prélan before renouncing Him altogether. This decline was very gradual – reaching across three millennia – and greatly varied in its rate and nature in different regions, but everywhere the social ramifications were huge. Natural disasters and diseases began to afflict elvendom for the first time, and crime and unrest became increasingly prevalent features of daily life. In the place of the true religion sprang up many false creeds and idolatries, of which the worst by far was devil-worship. Many detestable practices and ills arose from this evil religion, which eventually persuaded the long-forbearing Prélan to act. His response was to impose a limited life-span upon those who had rebelled, effectively making them mortal (afterwards known as men, as distinct from the elves, their immortal kin). The Second Chapter ended with this sentence, and the Third Chapter began with men struggling to adjust to the implications.
More to follow soon in Part 2…