Welcome to the sixth instalment in my Realms of Astrom series. We’ve already done Aranar, Ciricen, Hendar, Ithrill and Kalimar. This time we head to the extreme southern tip of Astrom. Lurallan is one of the great countries of Astrom, but except for short intervals it has never been a unified kingdom. Its folk, the Alanai (meaning those from the south) are not usually counted among the Free Peoples, despite being Mortals of elven lineage, just as the other mortal nations. This was primarily because of Lurallan’s perennial opposition and hostility towards the other free nations, but also because in Lurallan alone slavery was a widespread institution. Lurallan was a land of cruel, proud peoples, warlike, mysterious and yet also capable of great refinement and artistic achievement. By geography, history and culture, Lurallan is a country apart.
Lurallan is the southernmost of the countries of Astrom and smaller than all the other realms. It sits at the southern tip of Astrom like a foot that the rest of the continent stands on. Geographically and culturally, the rest of Astrom looks down on Lurallan.
Lurallan is shaped like an upside down pentagon, with wide, flaring points to east and west. In the north the rivers Antium and Orbar mark the frontier with Maristonia, but in the south Lurallan is bordered on all sides by the ocean, and the Southern Cape at its far southern tip marks the border between two of the great oceans of Astrom, the Sapheil Ocean to the west and the Troizon Ocean to the east. One’s location along this long coastline determines whether one is drawn up the western seaboard of Astrom to Ithrill and Hendar beyond Maristonia, or eastward to Kalimar and Ciricen.
Lurallan ranges in climate from the semi-arid grasslands and cedar forests of the north, with topography similar to that of southern Maristonia, to the blistering deserts of the southern coasts, lying just north of the tropics. There is enough rainfall to sustain perennial rivers and woodlands in the north, but further south the only year-round watercourses are those fed by the snowmelts and glaciers of Oron Alarund.
The interior of Lurallan is dominated by the three-pronged Southerang Mountains, three long mountain ridges that radiate out from the great Alarund massif in the centre. Either side of the central ridge two great river valleys, those of the Caval and Thon rivers, drain wide basins between the western and eastern ridges. Central Lurallan is divided into these two basins, beyond which are coastal strips, drier in the south and wetter in the north.
Lurallan was an empty wilderness to begin with. The first people to wander into it were dwarves migrating south from their homeland city of Carthak in the early Second Chapter. They founded the great city of Sinordar in the southern mountains, a legendary place of great power and mystery. Long before others came to Lurallan, Sinordar grew and flourished.
It was not until two and a half thousand years later that the next arrivals came, this time elven mariners by sea. By now most of the rest of the continent had thriving kingdoms and Lurallan was one of the last remaining empty spaces. It was Prince Tarnil of the Marintor royal house who led explorers here, seeking fame and fortune and escape from the suffocating confines of Kalimar. Yet with him came not only his own followers, but other adventurers too of lower repute, the scrapings of Sea-elven society who had scant regard for the values of Elvendom.
They were quick to fall into error and evil, and became caught up in the Great Betrayal, the cataclysm at the end of the Second Chapter that ushered in the dawn of mortality. These southern seagoing colonies had never had much room for Prélan in their dealings, so it was no great stretch for them to renounce Him altogether and forfeit the privilege of immortality. Even before their fall from grace, they became known as Alanai, the people of the south.
It was also not long before they began to menace their armist and elven neighbours to the north. The Mortals who inherited the elven colonies multiplied and spread very rapidly, filling Lurallan’s habitable coasts and river-valleys with trading ports and caravan cities. Their avarice was directed towards the wealth of Maristonia to the north, and in three great invasions, known as the Barbarian Wars, they sealed lasting enmity with the armist kingdom.
Maristonia went on to become a giant on Lurallan’s northern border, a mighty bulwark against both piracy and landward raids, though the vigilance of the armists never wholly kept the peace in the southern seas. A legacy of hostility was passed down between armists and Alanai. Corsair fleets pillaged Maristonia’s coasts and armist legions led punitive retaliations by land, neither ever quite free of the scourge of the other. During the Ship-Kings era the coastal Alanai cities of Caulrir and Urundair rose to be great naval powers, two of many who strove to control the maritime trade of Astrom, but their influence was eclipsed by the more powerful nations of the north.
When they were not causing trouble abroad, the Alanai were ever at war amongst themselves. Rival city-states and miniature empires rose and fell in a perpetual quest for hegemony. Though one tribe or warlord would for a time gain the ascendancy, no one ever succeeded in truly uniting the Alanai, and there was no lasting bond that could bridge the divide between the buccaneering cities of the coast and the fearsome tribes of the desert interior.
One such hegemony was achieved in the middle of the Third Chapter by an alliance between the city-states of Mouraxar and Raduthon. Between them they spurred the Alanai to their greatest success in the north, conquering great swathes of southern Maristonia in the Fourth Barbarian War before being beaten back. This jarring event, which lived long in armist memory, prompted King Thainen of Maristonia to surpass all his ancestors in a mighty effort to subdue the belligerent south. Over many years Thainen subjugated most of Lurallan, becoming known as the Hammer of the South, but even his great conquests did not prove lasting.
Nor did those of the Silver Empire, which also brought Lurallan to heel in retribution for attacks on imperial allies and trade routes. The dwarven civilisation of Sinordar had endured a long uneasy history of co-existence next to the Alanai, and it was partly out of friendship for Sinordar that both Thainen and Emperor Lancearon went to so much trouble to quell the Alanai.
Badly weakened by the hammerblows of first armist and then elven invasions, the Alanai were quiet for many centuries before the vigilance of their conquerors lapsed and attention turned to troubles in the north. Then the Alanai rose again in strength and renewed what was by now a blood-feud with Sinordar. Despite the aid of the Silver Empire, the dwarven city was sacked and fell into darkness. The Fall of Sinordar was celebrated and mourned in many tales and songs.
Kurundar, the great enemy of the Free Peoples, made alliance with the revived Alanai and used them to harass and distract his enemies in the south whilst he made war on them in the north. This nuisance became a deadly threat whilst Maristonia was sidelined in the Second War of Kurundar, but the return of the armist crown to Curillian marked the high-tide of Alanai influence, which ebbed fast in the robust peace that followed Kurundar’ second fall.
Like his predecessors, Curillian was not spared trouble with Lurallan for long, and a Fifth Barbarian War was fought a generation before the Quest of Oron Amular. Stalemate ensued when Maristonia contented itself with a strongly guarded frontier, both unable and unwilling to root out the desert tribes or the dark-sailed ships that still plagued the southern seas.
Thank you for reading. If you’ve enjoyed it, please tell others about World of Astrom. Be sure to subscribe to this blog to continue reading this series. Up next: Maristonia, the armist kingdom, where the story of Oron Amular begins.