While the legendary struggles of the Liberation have been told and retold down through the millenia, few records survive of the centuries following the overthrow of the Old Gods.
What is known is that the unity the human race had enjoyed during the war did not last. Humanity broke apart into differing tribes, clans, and city-states.
One of the first cultures to break away was a group descended from the followers of the hero Noria. Theirs was a wilder spirit, and the soft lands and safe cities of their fellows were not for them. They traveled north, to the unexplored frontiers far beyond where any humans had gone before, and took up a nomadic existence in that untamed wilderness. These people became known as the Northern Clans.
Meanwhile, the rest of humanity took up residence around the south and eastern edges of the body of water now known as the Gulf of Jansia, forming many rival city-states who often vied against each for the best land and resources.
The rise of Jansia:
One such city-state was known as Jansia. There was little to distinguish it from any of the other coastal cities, but its rulers dreamed of forging a greater future for its people.
Into this environment was born a brilliant wizard named Vorren. He spent many long years working in secret in his laboratory, perfecting the arts of technomancy, engineering, and experimental magic. At last, he made a breakthrough and succeeded in creating a mighty war machine capable of following simple instructions.
The first Automaton was born.
It took only one demonstration of the Automaton’s power for Jansia’s monarch to commission an entire fleet of the terrible machines.
Artwork by Nathalie Kraemer
Soon after, Jansia’s newly forged army was unleashed on its neighbors. Possessed of fantastic strength and virtually impervious to the conventional weapons of the time, the Automatons were unstoppable, and every city besieged promptly fell before them. It soon reached a point where many cities would surrender as soon as the Jansians arrived rather than face a battle they knew they could not win.
Jansia’s monarch crowned himself supreme emperor, and the Jansian Empire was born.
Jansia’s lust for conquest was not sated, though. Over the following decades, they continued to expand their borders, driven forward by the strength of their machines.
Initially, they focused their efforts on the clement lands of the southeast. In so doing, they absorbed the Uran people, a prosperous culture who dwelled within the shadow of the southern stretch of the Gormorra Range. The Uran were many in number, but their military was crude, and they readily fell before the Jansian forces. They were then integrated into the empire as a laborer caste, and many of Jansia’s greatest works were forged with their blood and sweat.
As time went on, Jansia’s progress slowed as it became increasingly difficult to manage all of the land under their banner, but their conquests continued all the same. They moved north into the center of the continent.
The local population — a series of farming tribes with small stature and earth-toned hair and eyes — knew they could not face Jansia, so they simply fled.
The largest tribe, known as the Tors, headed north. There, they came into conflict with the Northern Clans, but the Tors’ desperation and superior numbers won out, and the Clanspeople were pushed even farther north, into the barren wastes of the arctic.
The Tors then set about building their own nation of Tor Som — or “Tor Home.” But they never forgot what they had lost to the Jansians, and they set about building a strong nation that would not have to fear conquest again. The Tor ruler crowned himself emperor in defiance of the Jansians, and his line became known as the Tor Sinnis — the Tor Makers.
Meanwhile, their cousins fled into the unexplored wedge of land between the Northern and Southern Spurs of the Gormorra Range. In the shadow of the mountains, they founded the nation of Eastenhold.
Jansia’s conquests finally found their limit once the empire had claimed all of the land around the Gulf of Jansia and south of the Southern Spur. The empire had become so bloated that it was divided into provinces, each with their own monarch. These monarchs were known as princes so they would always remember that they were subservient to the Jansian throne.
The decline of Jansia and the modern era:
The Tors’ troubles did not end with their escape from Jansia. A few decades after the founding of Tor Som, the Northern Clans launched a blitz invasion and succeeded in occupying the nation for the next century.
Eventually, the Tors built a resistance movement and enacted a guerrilla war that succeeded in ousting the Northern Clans and driving them back into the arctic wastes. The leader of this resistance became the new emperor, founding the house of Tor Vargis — the Tor Liberators –but when his rule ended, he bequeathed the throne to the last scion of the Tor Sinnis, and so began the tradition of Tor Som’s royal houses alternating rulership over the generations.
Tor Som and Eastenhold both grew in size and strength, occasionally clashing with each other over the fertile farmland on their mutual border.
The Jansians watched these developments with nervous eyes, fearing their neighbors would teach each other the art of war and become a threat to the empire. These fears only greatened when the secrets of Automaton construction finally leaked, and they lost their monopoly on the great war machines.
But the Jansian rulers could do little to address their concerns. The empire had become bloated and unwieldy. Its bureaucracies had become corrupt, its aristocracy was too caught in their intrigues to acknowledge the rest of the world, and their various client peoples had begun to chafe under their chains.
Things came to a head when the Jansians caught wind that the Tors were planning an invasion. They decided to strike first with a preemptive attack on Tor Som.
This proved to be a mistake.
The Jansians had grown complacent, and the Tor Automatons were now more effective than their own. Even so, their superior numbers might have won the day, but infighting proved their downfall. The Jansian aristocrats were more interested in seeing their rivals fall than they were in defeating the Tors.
Meanwhile, the long-oppressed Uran people took advantage of the departure of the Jansian army and erupted into open revolt, sending the empire into chaos.
With their forces in disarray, the Jansian invasion of Tor Som crumbled. The Tors retaliated and at last took their vengeance on Jansia. The Eastenholders seized the opportunity to also strike at their old enemies — if only to ensure their Tor rivals didn’t claim too much of Jansia’s power.
Beset on all sides, the Jansian Empire fell apart.
Decades of strife followed. Maps were redrawn time and again as the great forces of the world struggled to find a new balance.
When the dust finally settled, the Uran people had succeeded in laying claim to most of Jansia’s land, wealth, and military strength. With their large numbers and the power of Jansia at their command, their new nation of Uranna became the greatest power on Barria.
Tor Som and Eastenhold ultimately claimed little new territory and resumed their aggressions against each other.
Only one area of Jansia survived the wars: the northwestern province of Pira. Pira had always been the least powerful of Jansia’s provinces, and it had not been a significant military target. By the time the surrounding nations had defeated the rest of Jansia, they were too battle-weary to bother attacking Pira. Pira became its own sovereign state, preserving the arts and culture of Jansia but little of its warlike ways. However, the Pirans never ceased to view themselves as a mere province of Jansia.
Pira clashed with Uranna several times, but eventually, their relations cooled down to a chilly indifference.
The land between these four nations became its own state, Karkar. Karkar was formed from the refugees and deserting soldiers left behind from the wars following the fall of Jansia, and it became a melting pot of all surrounding cultures. As such, it was able to maintain favorable relations with all of its neighbors, becoming a center of trade.
At last, the cries of war faded. In large part thanks to Karkar playing referee, the nations of the world were able to maintain largely civil relations, and an era of peace settled upon Barria.
It wouldn’t last.