The Orgoth are an empire of humans from across the Meredius that wielded incredibly powerful black magic and enslaved western Immoren for centuries. They sent boatloads of slaves to their homeland and built massive strongholds before suddenly stopping and setting up puppet rulers across the continent. The only free city left was Caspia, future capital of Cygnar, and Cryx, although they threatened Cryx enough that Lord Toruk himself had to destroy their invasion fleet.
The invasion of the Orgoth from across the Meredius and the long period of their occupation forever changed this region and had a drastic impact on its history. This dark era lasted for eight centuries but is divided into three distinct periods: the first two hundred years of the invasion and subjugation, four hundred years of occupation, and the tumultuous two hundred year rebellion which eventually drove the Orgoth out.
The Orgoth first landed on the western shore of the Khardic Empire, around 600 BR. The empire was by this point the greatest power in western Immoren but could not slow the advance of this foreign threat. When the invaders fell on Tordor next, still no cohesive plan of shared defence was considered. The great Dirgenmast Fleet of Tordor, the naval might of western Immoren, sailed out against the Orgoth blackships and never returned.
The Orgoth broadened their attacks and dozens of blackships landed on other shores, pouring forth bloodthirsty and ruthlessly efficient warriors. The rulers of each kingdom and freehold looked to their own defences without cooperation with their neighbours, all hoping to avoid being conquered. All attempts to negotiate with the invaders met with the return of the decapitated heads of emissaries.
By 589 BR steam powered river vessels sent by Thuria and Caspia began making raids against Orgoth outposts but achieved little. In the next three years, Caspia lost most of their western holdings, and the Orgoth enslaved Tordor, Thuria and the Midlunds and put them to work erecting the first of Orgoth fortresses. The Khards continued to fight a desperate struggle, steadily pushed east, until the Khardic Empire fell by 569 BR, and Rynyr surrendered by 542 BR. After the capitulation of Rynyr, the Orgoth sent an invasion force up the Black River to assault the great Rhulic fortress-city of Horgenhold. Eventually the dwarfs rallied to drive the Orgoth back. The Orgoth put their plans to conquer Rhul and Ios on hold, and never resumed them.
Four years later, the Orgoth, from the newly-built city of Drer Drakkerung on Garlghast Island, launched an incursion to seize the rest of the Scharde Islands in Cryx. After a Satyxis fleet sent to intercept the Orgoth ships was annihilated, Toruk took to wing for the first time in centuries to deal with this threat personally. Toruk sunk the entire Orgoth fleet, and this was the last time Orgoth challenged Cryx.
In the end, by 433 BR, western Caspia falls to Orgoth control, effectively granting the invaders absolute power over western Immoren. The city of Caspia is by now the only significant human settlement to remain free of Orgoth control. Rather than invest in an extensive campaign to break this city, the Orgoth created blockades both upriver and along the main roads, limiting access and trade with the region. Caspia would persist in virtual isolation for the next several centuries.
With the exception of Caspia, the Orgoth tyrants maintained their tight grip on the human kingdoms for four centuries. This is considered the darkest era in the history of western Immoren, a bleak time when the advances that had been achieved in the late Thousand Cities Era were destroyed, forgotten, or simply unavailable to the vast majority of the populace. This era set back innovation and intellectual advancement for centuries.
The appetite of the Orgoth for slaves was vast and they clearly saw no need to treat their captives with any mercy or care. Using an enslaved work force combined with servants animated from the dead, the Orgoth quickly erected tremendous fortresses and temples in black stone. They connected these fortresses with a network of paved roads.
The vast slave camps required by the Orgoth were squalid and inhumane, and the loss of life in these places was beyond modern reckoning. Clear cases of Orgoth necromancy in harvesting both the souls and bodies of the dead lend an aspect of unnatural horror to these arrangements. This has left a strong legacy of loathing for the practice of slavery that would persist long after the Orgoth were gone. A vast number of slaves were shipped across the Meredius to the Orgoth homeland, and it is unknown what became of these people.
The Orgoth kept their faith to themselves, and until near the end of the Occupation the Immorese were allowed to continue to practice their faiths. This period saw the faith of Menoth wane - any claims about the authority of the priest caste became empty in the face of the tyrants who ruled and who clearly lacked the favour of the Creator. By contrast, the Morrowan message continued to spread, and its humbler churches and priests were seen as a comfort to the oppressed.
For all the oppression, the Orgoth required absolute subservience from the conquered people, but were not in the habits of closely managing the daily lives of the conquered. Many local regions were governed by collaborators appointed by the Orgoth. There may have been a strong taboo among the Orgoth related to intermingling with those they had subjugated, as the mixing of Immorese and Orgoth bloodlines was very rare.
After 190 BR, the Orgoth governors may have begun to have less regular contact with their homeland. Slaves and materials shipped west across the Meredius dropped off substantially, as did new arrivals from the west to reinforce those on Immoren. This may have represented a period when the local Orgoth governors were acting independently of their home empire.
In 137 BR, the first known Immorese sorcerer was born, a young girl named Madruva Dagra, who manifested the ability to throw fire from her hands when angered. Defending her sisters from Orgoth soldiers, she managed to slay three of them before the Orgoth slaughtered her entire bloodline, but this did not prevent more sorcerers from appearing across western Immoren in subsequent years. Wherever they surfaced the Orgoth responded in a similar fashion, culling the bloodline and putting homes to the torch. However, the emergence of this potential proved to be highly unpredictable, which meant it was impossible for the Orgoth to stamp it out.
Not long thereafter arose a number of brave and brilliant scholars who began to make a systematic study of arcane matters. The most notable and successful was a genius named Sebastien Kerwin. He was the first to postulate the methodologies that would give rise to subsequent arcanists theorising that magic was a type of supernatural energy that was responsive to intelligent will. Kerwin would write a number of other seminal works that laid the foundation for this new arcane science. To avoid arousing the attention of the Orgoth, Kerwin and his devotees implemented a number of secretive efforts by which they could communicate and share information. These became the first arcane societies. The first occult secret society of this age was the Circle of the Oath. Kerwin and his group formally joined this confederation in 67 BR and shifted its focus to the systematic exploration of the arcane.
In 69 BR, Dominic Cavanaugh, a disciple of Kerwin, organised a raid to free over three hundred Thurian slaves. The Orgoth retaliated by tracking down and executing all those responsible, including Cavanaugh. Believing the Church of Morrow to be responsible for this uprising, the Orgoth committed the Vicarate Slaughter in the city of Fharin, killing over five hundred priests of both Menite and Morrowan faiths. The Circle of the Oath became devoted to working against the Orgoth; however, these efforts ultimately allow Orgoth spies to trace the Arcanist's Academe back to Ceryl. The Orgoth launched an attack in 63 BR which culminated in a pitched battle where Kerwin was killed, although not before he annihilated hundreds of Orgoth. Kerwin’s body was never recovered.
Agathius Nerrek, Kerwin’s most powerful disciple, took control of the order and in subsequent years established safe houses in cities across Thuria, Tordor, the Midlunds, and Rynyr. The Orgoth commenced the so-called Wizard Hunts in 54 BR and killed hundreds of aspiring arcanists, ultimately shattering the Circle of the Oath. However, the order’s efforts succeeded in spreading Kerwin’s teachings. The Order of the Golden Crucible was founded in 25 BR by survivors under the cover of simple alchemy.
With the seeds of unrest planted, the subjugated population began to stir.
In 1 BR, the Orgoth governor stationed in Fharin prepared to send a tithe of eight thousand slaves across the Meredius, including among them all the prominent Menite and Morrowan priests within the city. Outrage over this incident provoked an unorganised rebellion of the citizenry, assisted by the Order of the Golden Crucible. The Orgoth governor, soldiers and warwitches were killed, and the rebellion, now calling themselves the Iron Fellowship, declared war against the Orgoth, drawing a vast following from across what had once been Thuria, the Midlunds, and Caspia in 1 AR.
The Iron Felowship survived for only six years before being crushed by the Orgoth in 7 AR, its leadership captured and executed. This did not quell rebellious sentiment in the general population, however, and the slain were deemed martyrs to the cause.
In 28 AR Aurum Alchemist Oliver Gulvont invented the first firearm, a weapon that utilized alchemical blasting powder to propel shot. The need for such a weapon was soon proven in 32 AR, a large region of Tordor became a bloody battlefield of smoke and fire. The city of Tordor was liberated with the aid of over a hundred arcanists led by the archwizard Cortis Vendarl. This would later be called the Battle of the Hundred Wizards, the first great unveiling of Immorese battle-wizards fighting alongside conventional forces.
In 40 AR, largely recovered from their defeat at the Battle of the Hundred Wizards, the Orgoth recaptured Tordor and put all known arcanists to death. Many arcanists and alchemists escaped south and east, and the people of Tordor continued to resist by whatever means they could.
The Order of the Golden Crucible in Leryn improved firearm design by 80 AR and set to work in hidden laboratories manufacturing them as quickly as its voluntary labourers could manage. The legendary Army of Thunder rose up to liberate Rynyr in 84 AR wielding these new weapons. The Orgoth quickly counterattacked to drive the Army of Thunder back to the towering walls of Leryn. At the Battle of the Thunderhead in 86 AR, Leryn held strong and repelled an army of over ten thousand Orgoth. Leryn remained free, marking this as the first major victory of the Rebellion; however, the Orgoth reclaimed the remainder of Rynyr. Though the Army of Thunder endured heavy reprisals and suffered losses to the Orgoth in subsequent years, they maintained their hold on Leryn.
In 83 AR, the Circle Orboros unleashed a great plague known as rip lung on both the Immorese and the Orgoth. The Orgoth put entire sections of cities to the torch rather than bury the massive volume of the dead, arousing the ire of the Immorese who consider it to endanger the passage of souls to Urcaen. Eventually in 93 AR, the arcanist and alchemist Corben derived a cure for the disease, halting the pestilence among the Immorese, though it continues to trouble the Orgoth.
In the occupied city of Ceryl a group of dedicated arcanists came together to recover lost lore of the Circle of the Oath. Their fellowship resulted in the founding of the Fraternal Order of Wizardry in 111 AR.
Opposition to the Orgoth rule continued in the form of small uprisings across western Immoren. While each was quashed in turn, these succeeded in diverting resources and made it difficult for the Orgoth to retaliate. In 147 AR, an army of Umbrean nomads gathered to liberate Korsk and Rorschik from the tyrants. In 149 AR the Orgoth retaliated, but failed to retake Korsk. Cracks had begun to develop in the Orgoth domination.
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