The Book of Men

Cover Men

Introduction

Men are strange creatures. They seem to be capable of nearly infinite variation; there aren’t just two or three types of men, but it seems there are hundreds. In the interest of understanding men, I have written this treatise. It follows the same lines as similar books written about us, or about the elves. In fact, I hope elvish scholars find this book as helpful as the dwarves might.

Understanding men is a strange process. They do not, as a race, bear the same traits across every ethnic grouping. The only similarities I have been able to puzzle together from all of my work is their boundless nature: they may be just about anything, infinitely cruel or infinitely kind.

I hope this helps my fellow scholars in the Arinnfal to understand men a little better than they do. I know it is uncommon for a dwarf to write of mannish histories, but it seems to me that there is no better person to analyze them from the exterior than a dwarf.

-Hagrinn the Chisler

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The Wandering

The first and most lasting question about men is this: where did they come from? Certainly elves and dwarves inhabited the north before the men ever arrived. We had already built civilizations without their influence in the days when the First Men came up out of the south with their bloodstone, their magic, and their notions of Empire.

According to mannish legend, they belong to the category of Uncreated Races; that is, races which no god made, but sprang out of the earth itself, children of the slumbering Dragon. This may be true, for as children of the dragon, they developed magics; while dwarves and elves had no magic of their own save for their native skills (elves ability to speak with the wood, for example, or the stolidness of our people and our supreme skill in weaponcraft which men often call “magical”) men came with a store of secret knowledge; words that could manipulate the very structure of Mi∂gar itself.

It is not beyond reason, however, to imagine that men WERE created, perhaps by the God-king Zesh who they worshiped in that age, and learned magic through interaction with the Draconic kingdoms of the south which, in that time, covered much of modern-day Mughar. Either way, the years of the Second Age were the wandering years of men.

There were mannish empires in the south before the creation of the lamp of the sun; they dwelled in the deserts and the burning jungles of the southland. There they served a cruel king who called himself Zesh and who mastered magic, or so it is said. And Zesh taught magic to his people so that they might serve him; but he began to grow fearful and jealous, and he was afraid his own might rise against him.

As he plotted to destroy them, the men also plotted to leave Zesh (for the kingdom bore the name also of the God). And one day in secret they fled, a vast exodus of wandering menfolk. These wanderers strayed all over the earth until at last they came to the north in the hour of elvish need and helped the elvish patriarch and his people defeat an orcish army and imprison the god Logr for his constant tricks.

And they settled not far from these elves and raised a pillar of bloodstone and called their city Miles. From Miles they made an empire in the north, and though it fell it was reborn in the Fourth Age. Then again it fell for good, tumbled to dust. And the descendants of these black-skinned men mingled with the white-skinned giant-folk of the north and became white as well through long years. And this is how men came to the North.

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Races of Men

The races of men are really simple elasticities not separate races at all. They are vast and varied, and this is only a tentative cataloging of their various descents. It is almost impossible to classify or quantify them, as they are too great in number. One will find contradictions and overlapping territories of geographical presence here, for there are contradictions and overlapping geography inherent in the subject. Understanding the races of men is far more complex than keeping the genealogy of your clan in mind, so do not be discouraged if it does not make sense upon the first reading.

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The Aellonians

Hailing from the tiny archipelago known as the Aellonian Isles, Aellonians are descended (through long and torturous lines of descent and many centuries between them) from the people of Mughar (though they have some Ishtrian blood in them undoubtedly as well). They are an almond-skinned people with long curling beards and hair that tends to form in rings or plaits.

Aellonian culture strongly influenced the First Men (and through them, Avarine culture) as they journeyed northwards from Zesh. It is believed that the tunic is a direct descent of the common Aellonian garb known as a toga from the gigantine word for clothing. The Aellonians once had a very close relationship with the giants of Cloudhame, who on their travels would stop in Aellon often to discuss matters of the wide world.

Life in Aellon is organized around three warring city-states that dominate the islands. These cities are generally democratic in outlook (allowing all men and women over forty the right to vote in the assemblies) but tend to be conservative in terms of policy. A good deal of trade goes through Aellon on its way to the Trident Isles.

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The Avars

These are the First Men, the descendants of those who formed the First Empire. They live mostly in the gold belt, in regions of the former empire. The majority of Avarine nations speak some manner of Varan, a language which encourages the swallowing of syllables at the end of words–a strange thing to think of, letters that go unpronounced, and many a dwarf has had difficulty understanding how to pronounce Varan if he did not learn it early in life.

The King of Thyrnesse is also known as the Duke of the Avars, and considers all ancestral Avarine lands to be part of his demesne. This includes the lands of Dorlan, Teral, Byrne, Meirenia, Cymballar, Frelonde, Seagard, and the colonies. While there may be Avars in other lands, the aforementioned areas are those that were once core provinces of the Empire and preserve many old imperial values and cultural systems.

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Dragonlanders

The Dragonlanders are rarely seen in the north; they hail from Diaojiong, a nation that few northerners have ever been to. We know comparatively little about them. From what we do know, they have a king known as the Dragon Emperor; they are a small lithe people with narrow eyes and a devotion to personal perfection. I would be remiss speaking more of the Dragon Kingdom, for I myself have never been there and have only heard of Dragonlanders from merchants who have.

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Essadi

The Essadi are northern men who hail from the lands of Essad, Soloth, Caruel, and other northern nations. The Essadi are a darker people who live close to the shores of the Cloud Sea. Unlike the modern-day Avars, there are many Essadi who did not marry with Valela and thus are a darker folk. Slaving is an accepted job in most Essadi lands; while most non-Essadi peoples have a strong antithesis to slaving, they will still allow slavers from other lands to come and sell there wares; thus, Essadi are famous throughout the north for their slaves (primarily as the kingdom of Essad bases its economy primarily on the capture, transport, and sale of slaves).

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The Book of Men

Abridged History of the 10th Age Idabrius