The Redline History
A History of the Lunar Empire: The Third Wane
by Greg Stafford
originally published in Wyrms Footprints 13
This document is Copyright © 1998 Issaries, Inc. It may be freely linked to, and one copy may be printed for personal use, but any other reproduction by photographic, electronic, or other methods of retrieval, is prohibited.
Table of Contents
- The Redline History: Zero Wane
- The Redline History: First Wane
- The Redline History: Second Wane
- The Redline History: Third Wane
- The Southern Wars
- The Nomad Invasion
- Fronelan Settlements
- Yara Aranis, The Second Inspiration of Moonson
- The Redline History: Fourth Wane
- The Redline History: Fifth Wane
The Southern Wars
Although many chieftains and wizards had paid homage to the Conquering Daughter the changes and flux of barbarian tribal politics meant that her worship gained no permanent position in those lands. Even the crippled deities of the previous pantheons were replaced by unruly fellows of their own divine clans. Most powerful among the new foes of the Empire were the young demigods of distant Dragon Pass known as the Earth Twins, and Mitchuinn, a war spirit who had once been Human. The latter provoked the Lunar Empire to action by leading a powerful raid right down the Daughter’s Road, wounding Gwythar Grimwise and defacing the Bridge of Phirmax before being driven off.
In 3/7 (1362 ST.) the Lunar army approached, seeking a grove of trees and armed with fire magics. The Earth Twins first displayed the awesome power of their cult in the Battle of Falling Hills. The cream of the Lunar army was destroyed, including two members of the Sultanate clan.
In 3/19 (1374 ST.) fighting between the Empire and hill barbarians ended when the great invasions by horse nomads reached the region. This was the southern prong, led by the Opili nation, noted even among the horse peoples for their savagery who had already laid waste to Garsting and cities upon the coast of the Elf Sea. They penetrated to Imther before being met in pitched battle.
The Battle of Quintus’ Vale was fought between the Opili and their allied horse nations, aided by their shamans and plains spirits. The Lunar army had many barbarian allies and were aided by the Powerful Lunar College of Magic and many native cults. The slaughter was terrible and the vale is still haunted on New Half Moon nights, but in the end the horse nomads were defeated. Shields on their backs they withdrew. They were later ambushed in Balazar by the kings there. The Opili tribe stayed in Garsting for some time afterwards.
The army of Sylila, fresh from its victories, marched northward to aid the Empire against the greater barbarian invasion. It was one of several armies destroyed by the invaders over the next few years. The Sultanate of Sylila shrank in size as hill barbarians and mounted nomads raided more heavily upon the borders, but during the entire wane the citadel of Jillaro was never plundered and the goddess there took no wounds.
The Nomad Invasion
The northern invasion was led by the Vay-uang nation, a powerful alliance of tribes controlled by a single clan. Also mentioned, as less powerful allies, were the Bao, Kroft, Huang, and Dovgarsh nations.
None of these tribes were strangers to the Empire. They all lived in the region called the “red lands” (because of the immense amount of blood shed there) for at least two Wanes. Two tribes were survivors of the Battle of Seven Horses in 0/8 (1228 ST.), which had so impressed them of the Goddess’ might. They all hired out as mercenaries of the Empire or its foes at one time or another, but, except for their internecine warfare and individual raids, they had lain dormant for fear of the wrath of the Goddess.
Sheng Seleris, Son of the Morning, was a demigod who grew powerful enough to oppose the Goddess, using a combination of his own secret magics.
In 3/20 (1375 ST.) the Great Army moved from the Redlands across the river Arcos into Jarst. Rather than oppose this force the natives either fled or joined forces with the enemy. The Great Army moved into First Blessed pushing quickly across the whole province. The citizens retreated into their citadels to await the army. Foot warriors followed the horde (hungry in the ravaged land) to begin their plunder of the walled towns, temples, and sacred preserves.
The first battle, at Yuthuppa, was in the autumn of 3/20 under the light of the Crescent-Go Moon. The Lunar hoplites were surrounded and slain. Arcane alchemy from Sheng Seleris exploded the mighty gates of the city, its inhabitants were slaughtered, every temple was defiled, everything mobile was taken and anything immobile was broken.
The Lunar feud with the spirits of the Oslir River caused the Empire ill for the next year when they assaulted a Lunar relief convoy sailing north from Sylila. They then aided the nomad horde to cross the great river without trouble. Another Lunar army, marching to meet the foe, was destroyed. The plains of Peloria were filled with unbeatable, rampaging barbarians who drove people from their lands and into the cities which had not yet suffered the barbarian touch. Other refugees fled westward to the West Reaches, which had turned away enemy raids throughout the Wane. Others went south to Sylila where the devastation was not so bad. Many fled to the Silver Shadow, to live or die in the shadow of the Red Goddess and rely directly upon the magics of the Emperor and his city.
Lunar magicians succeeded in resealing the Erinflarth River against the passage of the water spirits, thereby trapping a large number of them within the Empire. They were killed or driven out by 3/32 (1387 ST.).
In 3/33 (1388 ST.) Sylilan refugees formed an army which reinforced Alkoth and helped prevent a second sack of the city. From there they began an active pirate campaign against the unlearned barbarian traffic. Without their former river allies the nomads were easy targets upon the river, and within a few years the Alkoth pirates had reached the Thunder River.
In 3/34 (1389 ST.) the barbarians laid seige to Outer Glamour, although pestilence drove them away before they could enter. Sheng Seleris wrestled with the Red Emperor at the gates of the city, and though neither was hurt the Emperor drove the invader away. It was not for ten years, though, that a Lunar army would claim a victory in the field.
As meagre as the pirate victories on the Oslir were, they provided a communication link between several very important cities who gained strength enough to close their gates to the invaders and expect some relief for doing so. After the Emperor wrestled the enemy deity there was close contact with Glamour as well, although the losses were heavy among those who passed between the city and the river.
In 3/42 (1397 ST.) a large army marched north from Sylila to relieve the city of Alkoth. The enemy cavalry eagerly attacked but were virtually destroyed through Lunar magic. Word spread quickly and the army of Glamour marched south to meet them. An attempt to prevent the link-up gave the Emperor another victory as well.
Other battles followed, and some were Lunar defeats, but none were decisive. Although the Lunar citizens began expanding their area again, the nomads still held great portions of the land.
The onslaught of horse warriors dislodged much of the population of the Empire, and the largest portion which fled escaped westward, away from the invaders. The West Reaches, still ruled by the family of Aronius, absorbed many people, but there were some who preferred to keep going. In Fronela they were accepted into the Kingdom of Valmark, and allowed to settle in three cities, (one of which the colonists founded) called Holvburg (entered in 3/29), Starvdyke (3/33), and Norri’s Hill (founded 3/41). The latter was ruled by Jarl Norri Spliteye, who married a refugee Lunar priestess.
These regions contributed little to the restoration of the Empire, having given allegiance to another rule. Most of them maintained their Lunar outlook and were the first infusion of this belief into Fronela.
Yara Aranis, The Second Inspiration of Moonson
When the Red Emperor wrestled with Sheng Seleris it was not merely a battle of muscles and grips, for both were Runelords and mages, and their conflict extended beyond the physical plane. During the psychic turmoil each was probing the other, seeking secret fears to use as a weapon in the struggle. Both emerged wounded and victorious, and both set about constructing great plans built on the other’s weaknesses.
The Red Emperor used the secret fear of the barbarians to summon their Goddess of Tormented Death, who ruled over a hell reserved for outlaws, exiles, and captured sylphs. He courted her grandly using alien sorceries as his calling card; inhuman promises as his proposal; and sealing their vows with unholy rites performed by forgotten deities. The child of this union was named Yara Aranis.
Yara Aranis’ first temple was built outside of Glamour, without walls but with a central courtyard open to the sky and surrounded by rows of columns on all four sides which were roofed over in places. Underneath each of these irregular roofs lay an altar, idol, or other minor place of worship. Within it, exposed for all to see, lived the daughter of the Emperor and the hell demon, accompanied by priests and priestesses dressed in imperial scarlet.
In 3/42 (1397 ST.) a barbarian warrior was tempted to rob the temple. He is now called First Slave by the cult and his spirit still guards the temple there.
Emboldened or freed by this victory, Yara Aranis set upon her first trek outside the temple. She stopped to rest on the banks of the Oslir, and there her second temple was built. She did not await robbers here, but set off on several hunting expeditions to capture slave spirits to guard the place. This is the place where boats from Sylila stopped to unload and was called Good Shore by boatmen.
By the end of the Wane Yara Aranis had established two more temples, and instituted many training schools for her cult. An attempt by Sheng Seleris and his horde failed to dislodge her temple at Good Shore in 3/50 (1405 ST), and even caused a quarter of his followers to desert a year later.
In 3/54 (1409 ST) the Red Emperor named his daughter the Goddess of the Reaching Moon, and revealed her powers to be those of the probing and battling forward edge of the Lunar front. The temples provided centers for magical defense, and the “Glowline” which they could set up formed a decisive and permanent barrier against hostile magics as long as the temple was inviolate.
The Wane ended with the hopeful apotheosis of the Goddess of the Reaching Moon into the Lunar pantheon, and the spread of her cult among the remaining Lunar strongholds in the Pelorian lowland.