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The Birth of the Iron Kingdoms

About 2000 years ago, the land that is now called the Iron Kingdoms was a mire of warring Human city-states. Strong leaders would come and go, but in the chaotic realm (then known as the Thousand Cities) no one could carve out a kingdom for long. The Elven and Dwarven nations, in their distant lands, observed the tragic Human conflicts but chose not to involve themselves. On the rare occasions when they were attacked by a foolish Human warlord, their response was quick and devastating. Before long, the Thousand Cities learned not to meddle with them.

Just when things looked blackest, when it seemed as if the Human civilization of the continent was doomed to an eternity of petty conflict, the first Orgoth longboat arrived on the beach near what is now the city of Caspia.

The Orgoth explorers were representatives of a tightly disciplined military society hailing from somewhere across the Gulf of Cygnar. They were a nation of Humans, but they were brutal, callous folk with dark and unsavory magical customs. Seeing an opportunity for conquest, they immediately launched an invasion and a war of domination. The citizens of the Thousand Cities were taken by surprise, but they fought valiantly – and to no avail. The land eventually fell under Orgoth control, though there were four decades of scattered bloody resistance before the Thousand Cities were totally subdued.

The Orgoth Empire occupied the land for a total of about a thousand years. During this time the invaders contemplated assimilating the Elves and Dwarves, but the price of attacking these remote and strange nations was deemed to be too high. The xenophobic and unpredictable Elves were left alone, and the Dwarves of Rhul became occasional Orgoth trading partners and nothing more. Some Humans with knowledge of history still hold a grudge, accusing the Dwarves of being collaborators, but this is uncommon by the common people.

The Orgoth rule was without military incident for many centuries (but the brutality visited upon their slaves included dark blood magics and violations of the most serious kind). Inevitably, a rebellion began to take shape, and another four decades of scattered conflict began. The people of the Immoren continent fought against their masters with new weapons and tools that the Orgoth did not understand – the work of the first artificers of the land.

The unshakable power of the Orgoth Empire faltered in the face of this new challenge. Their defeat was inevitable after the decisive Battle of Berck where Humans and Ogrun fought side-by-side reinforced by a rag-tag column of Mechanika constructs of Gobber make. The Orgoth – their will to continue with the occupation crushed – were eventually driven back across the sea. During their three-year retreat they took the time to destroy many of their records, artifacts and structures – to this day, historians know little about them despite a thousand years of occupation. The Orgoth salted the fields, poisoned the wells and put entire cities to the torch. The ‘Scourge’ was their final act of barbarism.

It is important to note that history is not clear on from where or how the science of the artificers emerged. There are many strange legends from the last days of the rebellion – tales of dark, mysterious allies that helped to drive away the invaders. Yet other stories point out that the worship of a goddess known as Cyriss began around the same time. Whether the artificer discipline was a cause or an effect of her existence is not accurately recorded. It is also argued that an unknowable event in the Orgoth homeland caused the colonization army to lose its grip and become vulnerable. What that could have been is not known for certain, but many theories are studied. Many point out that it would have been impossible to defeat the Orgoth without the help of the clockworks – and that Humans and Gobbers must have made dangerous deals with abyssal powers to gain access to magic and mechanika powerful enough to finally cast aside their foreign masters. If this is true, the Iron Kingdoms have yet to pay off this ancient debt. Considering the poor historical record from this time period, no one has been able to prove anything one way or the other. Only time will tell.

With the Orgoth driven away, opportunists tried to take advantage of the situation, and small conflicts began to break out just as they had in the old days of the Thousand Cities. The leaders of the rebellion had other plans, though, and over the next three years many budding warlords were put down quickly and brutally. While the rebel armies kept the peace, their leaders convened in Corvis. Though the city still smoldered from the Scourge of the Orgoth, it was the best meeting place in the realm – centrally located and easy to travel to. Within the cold marble chambers of Corvis City Hall, the strongest generals held the Council of Ten. Weeks of furious debate followed, but when it was all over the famous Corvis Treaties had been drafted and the Iron Kingdoms were born. Five centuries later those kingdoms are more or less the same and the borders are intact.

Strictly speaking, the term “Iron Kingdoms” refers to the lands of Men – those kingdoms that signed the Corvis Treaties after the rebellion against the Orgoth. There are five official Kingdoms in total: Cygnar, Khador, Llael, Ord (who signed the treaty) and the Protectorate of Menoth (a splinter nation of Cygnar that fragmented within the last 2 decades and is not a signatory).

In the frigid north, near the Glass Peaks, the Dwarven kingdom of Rhul is found. To the northeast lies the mysterious homeland of the Elves, Ios. In practice, the nearby Elven and Dwarven nations are often included when Men speak of the “Iron Kingdoms,” (a fact which annoys Elvenkind to no end). The last kingdom informally included when speaking of the “Iron Kingdoms” is the hostile island nation of Cryx – ruled by the dragon Lord Toruk. To the east lie the Bloodstone Marches; a wide, dry and hostile land of rust colored sands but no master of those lands in known. All of these nations share the continent of Immoren on the world known to all as Caen.

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