Rhugal's Realm: History and Rumors
Molten Island could quickly become an Aragenite's favorite subject of study if he were interested in factions and psychology. Several opposing factions all claim the territory, now commonly known as "Rhugal's Realm". The clashing cultures now battle for control an island much too small to support such diversity. Each faction also has its own goals and perspective of the island and their role there. The lives of the dwarves and the other common races of Rhugal's Realm are often defined by battles. When they are not fighting the other factions to keep control of their territory, the dwarves often battle the land itself, in search of the precious earth and metal resources so often sought after by dwarven people. These hardy people of Rhugal's Realm often live their lives according to the dogmas of Vorax and Dorand.
The followers of Pyrtechon strive to defend their stolen territory, as well as pursue ultimate destruction. Not part of the realm, but a substantial force both on and underneath the island are the Deep dwarves. These fanatical followers of Sulterio bore their way to this island through great effort hundreds of years before their much-hated surface cousins appeared in Rhugal's Realm. Grannoch's children hold what little of the green lands exist in the southern territories. This last force is usually considered silent in the battle for power on the island, but if the giants are silent it is only because they are often overlooked by the other people of Rhugal's Realm
An accidental brush of societies brings tension, battle fervor and constant conflict to this island. The sounds of battle mark and shape each night, replacing any natural silences. Indeed, the quiet of land's natural noises is a discomforting sound to most of the inhabitants of Molten Island.
"And the cradle of the world heaved and shuddered. The lands cried out as they split and the fire rocks spewed forth as blood from a wound. Ash filled the skies and the stars winked out for days. When the dim light returned on the morrow, there was nothing recognizable. Families had vanished; the very face of Layonara had been crushed, burned, crumbled, and in some places completely eradicated." ~Translated writings from an ancient text within the annals of the Arganite Church, author unknown.
It is said that--long before the memory of nearly anyone left alive today--Molten Island was originally part of the Saddleback Mountains. As the legend goes, during the time of the Cataclysm, the island was separated off in a violent shuddering of the earth that lasted for many days. When the dust began to settle and the waves began to ease, Dregar was missing a large portion of its land mass and entire cultures were erased from history. Ripped asunder and moved an incredible distance away, this fragment of the continent became an island. However, the new island was covered in dangerous, incinerating lava and the skies above were filled with ash. What was left of the sundered continental fragment was a land, inhospitable to nearly everyone, steeped in treacherous landscape.
Some of the creatures survived the great rending and found themselves stranded on this hostile landscape. These unwilling pioneers began to search for a means to survive. Most of what survived the Cataclysm was animal life, but a few giant clans also managed to endure. After the initial shock wore off, these clans began to fight one another for control of the limited areas of uncharred land on the island. Through an ingenious bit of trickery, one clan managed to best the others and came out on top. They called themselves the Fire Clan, as they had worshipped Grannoch and her fire aspect. When the giant clans later merged, the Fire Clan found that one of the other clans followed the hated god of destruction, Pyrtechon. This faction was shunned, murdered, and outright tortured. Quickly, the giants who followed Pyrtechon separated themselves off from the main clan to found their own domain. However, they soon found a home with like-minded creatures.
Obviously, the damage done to the land during the Cataclysm did not stop at the surface; underground caverns ruptured and crumbled and new crevasses were made. Most of the Deep dwarves and kobolds dwelling under the Saddleback Mountains perished in the great rending, as their world literally collapsed on them. Those few who did manage to survive found themselves below the surface of a turbulent new island, far from anything they knew and with hardly any resources at their disposal. There are old legends of cannibalism in the kobold tribes, as a means to survive in the time when the Island could sustain no life, above or below ground. The Deep dwarves forced the kobolds above ground and secured the warm embrace of Sulterio's realm for themselves, singing his praise for their survival. They survived by growing what little food they could on the hot fissures and vents that they found surrounding them in their underground domain. The kobold clans united together, were joined by the ostracized Blaze giants, and held their few caves from capture by the Deep dwarves. By the end of the first century, territories were firmly established and a tentative truce was called between the two sides.
Sometime in the year 207, dwarves, curious of the possibilities it might hold, set sail for this new island. They landed in the unforgiving harbor, only to find the vast majority of the island was infested with many a vicious beast, including the kobolds and Blaze giants. Other fearsome creatures were reported as well, things thought to exist only in the Pits of Endless Strife. Some of the creatures even carried the holy symbol of Pyrtechon. Clearly outnumbered and unable to defend a foothold, the dwarves departed. However, they carried home with them many wild tales of their adventures on the island; to this day, not all the stories are believed.
In the year 535, stories from the docks of the coastal cities of eastern Dregar suggested that a dragon had been sighted in flight around Molten Island. These rumors were mostly dismissed as wild hearsay. Given that few who ventured to Molten Island ever got farther than the crude dock, no proof could be offered to confirm the existence of any such creature. Over time, these reported sightings became the subject of tales and legends and only increased the mystic allure of the unexplored land.
In the years following the Cataclysm, many of the descendants of the original survivors stranded on Molten Island adapted to their new surroundings and began to thrive in the temperamental environment. The few animals that had survived the Cataclysm adapted and changed as well, and novel varieties of several species are only found on Molten Island. Some adaptations helped the creatures camouflage with their new environment, while other changes helped them cope with the large amounts of sulfur in the air. The plants adapted quickly as well, and the few green areas in the southern region flourished and became lush once more. The land as a whole began to settle into a new rhythm and life on the island began to thrive again.
Dwarven curiosity, however, endures for a very long time when resources are concerned. As Molten Island became the stuff of legend, it also became the ultimate goal for those who needed to dedicate themselves to something great and unachieved. So it came to pass that a large dwarven force was put together by a determined and respected dwarf named Brunger Rhugal. He set sail from Dregar with over ten thousand brave souls. He and this newly-formed clan landed on the shores of Molten Island, and sought to make their mark there, to tame the earth and discover what new life might be had on this wondrous island.
Once there, much of the wonder vanished and was replaced by a strange combination of horror and fascination. The island quickly came to be seen as two things: the seat of Pyrtechon's evil, and the greatest known source of precious metals. Brunger built his clan up both to push back the evil of ultimate destruction and also bring forth these great resources. With these valuable metals, smiths could create their masterworks in their crafts, and Dorandites came from far and wide to Brunger's side. Voraxians took to this effort with valiant resolve, because to push back the throngs of Pyrtechon's followers was a cause worthy of battle. The collective effort to Molten Island gave birth to a dwarven brotherhood and fellowship.
In 1304, Brunger and his large clan is said to have defeated thousands of Pyrtechon's minions in a large underground chamber, which is now called Metal in the common tongue. With the resources found near the gigantic chamber, Brunger was able to build a small dwarven palace and city. United, these dwarves formed a small kingdom and began to etch out more cities in the realm. In 1321, the kingdom was officially proclaimed to the world. As the decades passed, Brunger gained more influence among all of the clans. He led his kingdom with wisdom and strong tactics. Rhugal's Realm pushed back the minions of Pyrtechon and the Deep dwarves again and again as the kingdom grew, and these common efforts formed a strong tie between each developing city.
It was during Brunger's reign that it was discovered that the rumors of a dragon on the island were not merely rumors. The minions of Pyrtechon were led by an elusive creature called Fisterion. Before long, the names Pyrtechon and Fisterion became synonymous. Much work was done within the kingdom to prepare for such a destiny as freeing the island from such a evil. Forward momentum was short lived, however, as tragedy struck this kingdom. In 1398, Brunger was assassinated. Most members of the clans believed their leader was slain by troops of Pyrtechon. However, some rumors have cropped up that the tactics used were not typical of Pyrtechon's followers. It was by royal decree of Brunger's son and heir, Krail, that Pyrtechon's faction was stated to be the official culprit.
Krail is the only living son of Brunger and was the Naazdah Zhazhaurh (general of the army) at the time of his father's murder. He naturally took his father's position as ruler after Brunger's death. Krail was always a focused and business-like individual, but his father's death seemed to add a terrible bitterness to his soul. Since his ascension to the throne, Krail has waged several conflicts with Fisterion's minions, and it has caused the death of thousands of his followers. His politics are equally bludgeoning and high priced. In addition, in 1399, Krail moved the capital to the city of Thoraz, the place of his birth and upbringing. No clear reason was given for such a move. However, there is some speculation that it has to do with the recent brush with the Deep dwarves in the northern areas of Rhugal's Realm.
The kingdom is no longer growing in size; in fact, it is rapidly shrinking in numbers. Many of the other clans respect the clans of Rhugal's Realm and their seemingly unshakable devotion to Vorax in their tireless battles but they can't bear to watch Krail's sledge hammer tactics, which whittle down his clan faster than they do the enemy. Before they began to avoid the Rhugal clans, their distant dwarven kin attempted to form an alliance between several clans from around the world. Fellow dwarven clans reached out to Krail Rhugal to help in the great battle against Fisterion's minions and other island threats. However, after forty years of Krail's blunt politics and abrasive leadership, the clans began to withdraw from the blossoming alliance when their suggestions, tactics, and traditions went unheeded.
Still, it is unfair to say that Krail's tactics are the sole cause of the rapid decline of the population of Rhugal's Realm. Among the other battles fought in Rhugal's Realm, there is also an ongoing battle waged for the very welfare of its people. The normally hearty people of dwarven descent seem to fare worse here than in most places. Outbreaks of paranoia and chaos occur from time to time within the towns; cries of being watched are common among those so disturbed. These episodes are now quickly quelled. After the first few such occurences, these incidents became something the home defense was trained to combat. These outbreaks of paranoia and psychosis began early in the war campaign. The overall loss of life due to this illness, dubbed War Rot, is minimal within the ranks of Rhugal's people because the typical treatment for the afflicted is to unleash them on the opposition. The killing of one's enemies in valiant battle seems to cure the outbreaks, though typically only for periods of time spanning a few weeks to a few years. War Rot is a life-long condition for those who contract it upon this island.
The dwarven tales here have only begun, though they are already spectacular by most standards. The kingdom shows promise, despite its current troubles. However, the greatest trouble that this kingdom faces in its infancy is the right of rule. With so many other factions claiming rights within the territory, who will ultimately win out is anyone's guess.