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Carmanian History begins with the Anabasis of Syranthir Forefront. This is the story of a defeated Western army's march across Fronela to the Pelandan lands of the Oronin Valley. Our source is a tenth-century epic written by a Pelandan author, and the story it tells is thus neither Carmanian nor Western in flavour. [1]

The story of Syranthir's battles against the Spolite "Empire of Gloom" can be read on at least two levels: as straight military history, and as a mythical HeroQuest wherein a liberated city becomes a magic castle, and the welcome offered by the Pelandan people is made concrete in the form of the mysterious goddess Charmain, lady of Castle Blue. All the old tales agree that Syranthir disappears mysteriously, though whether he was secretly murdered by Pelandan foes, apotheosized as a saint or god, or returned to Castle Blue in search of his beloved, no two versions agree.

The son of Syranthir and Charmain is Carmanos, called the first Shah of Carmania. His origin is obscure: he is said to have been brought up in a magical lake. He is called "Lawbringer," regarded as rightful leader from his birth, and fights a war against the Empire of Gloom, liberating seven cities and slaying its last ruler. [2]

After Carmanos rules Surandar "Warleader," remembered as founder of many Carmanian military institutions. He destroys the crumbling Empire of Gloom, then takes over his former allies' lands as well, establishing the heartland of Carmania in the Oronin Valley. Independent Pelandan History ceases with this betrayal: the once-free cities are now occupied by Carmanian governors and troops.

Surandar's son is Carshandar "Peacemaker," famously remembered for the peace, fertility and prosperity of his reign. He had many wives and countless children, making alliances with the remains of the Spolite Empire, the Sweet Sea Confederation, the Dara Happan Empire, and the highest Priestess of all Pelanda. He builds the first palace of Carmania; trade and art flourish.

There follows a half-century (c.847-900 S.T.) of dualistic religious schism and civil war between two branches of the royal house. Tradition blames this on the disparate origins of Carshandar's wives. The Dark Shahs attack Dara Happa, and worship brute trollish gods of Night and Winter. They use atrocities and terror-tactics to intimidate their foes. The Light Shahs are allies of Dara Happa and fight with them against Darjiin: they epitomise the bone-headed "Death or Glory" attitudes of chivalrous idealism. Modern Carmanians think each is as bad as the other: neither side showed any balance or moderation. In the end, a consensus is reached: Light is better than Dark, but neither is Evil per se.

In the early tenth century, the Carmanians confront the EWF. They discover how to slay the great Dragons, then liberate Dara Happa from the rule of the Golden Dragon. Secure in Peloria through their alliance with Dara Happa, they can even mount an expedition to Loskalm, seeking to avenge the wrongs done to Syranthir three centuries before. [3] The Lion Shahs of this age are bold warriors, aligned to the Light.

The daughter of the Shah seduces the Emperor of Dara Happa (the famous Song of Sarenesh commemorates this courtship), and their sons are the Three Brothers Who Divided The World: the Dara Happan Emperor, the Padishah of Carmania, and the High King of Saird. For almost a century, until after the destruction of the EWF in 1042, these three nations are close allies which combine their efforts against the Draconic foes: these are the Three Generations of Peace. The Carmanians adopt many Dara Happan and Theyalan concepts, including that of the Lightbringers' Quest (which has previously been peripheral to their religion, but now takes centre stage).

After the Dragons withdraw, revolts break out over all Peloria. The Three Generations of War see relations between Carmania and Dara Happa worsen into conflicts, which escalate into the great campaign against Alkoth led by Shah Haran the Great. The story of this war is told in the Alkothiad, another Pelandan epic; it ends when the two armies, of Alkoth and Carmania, join forces to invade their ancient enemies in Dragon Pass.

The Dragonkill War leaves Carmania (and all Peloria) severely depleted; Haran's feeble heir is brutally usurped by a barbarian ally who calls himself Shahtavar, the Bull Shah. He and his followers take over the Empire and restore its lost territories to it; his sons assault Dara Happa, and his grandson, Cartavar the Conqueror, captures Yuthuppa and Raibanth.

The Bull Shahs establish a crude opposition between (dark) Bulls and (bright) Lions, which revitalises Carmanian religion at the cost of all its theological subtlety; they bring new vigour to the armies while foes still present themselves, but in victory they lapse into excesses of cruelty and decadence. Their Carmanian Empire is already fragmenting at the edges when the Seven Mothers bring the Red Goddess forth in Rinliddi to destroy it. And the rest, as they say, is History.

[1] Perhaps the most useful comparisons are the Odyssey and Aeneid: like Odysseus, Syranthir encounters monsters out of folk-tales on his march; also like Odysseus, he must defeat a rival suitor when he arrives at Lake Oronin and woos the goddess Charmain. Like Aeneas, he is the last hero of a defeated nation, leading his people and religion to a new homeland.

[2] It is possible that he was in reality no more than a mercenary captain in the service of the Pelandans, whose origin and power have been magnified by descendents to glorify their own ancestry. The Histories skirt around this point, but Carmanos fights as an ally of the cities and not as their ruler. He liberates; he does not conquer.

[3] Remember that this is when the Anabasis was written: it becomes rather topical!

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