The Witchling Isles
first taste of the Empire
The first humans, hints of the Empire (127-145 years of Freedom):
at first we thought they were from a yet undiscovered isle, these humans. They even had dwarvs with them, though odd ones… but soon it became clear that they were not of the isles- they lacked basic language, basic knowledge, they even didn’t know about witches and mixed blessings!
We learned that these new comers, with their
strange ships from a strange continent worshiped beings they called Gods. So they too have Masters! We feared that their masters wanted to conquer us, but the humans promised they only aimed to help us, enlighten us, bring us to a “new golden age”. Some traded with them, but most didn’t trust them. However, their ships were few, non warring (though defended), and they sought mostly to learn, to understand. What harm can that do?
They seemed shocked at the diversity of races and cultures, saying they come from one unified Empire. It seems that their
“gods” masters defeated the others, and now ruled supreme. They were very secretive about the empire, and we understood it takes a long time over seas to get there, and that we didn’t have the ships. We didn’t care, the Witchlings isles were big enough.
The first wave of the Empire, “wave of conversion” (146- 189 years of freedom):the first fleet caught us truly by surprise. Great ships appearing form the east, descending on islands, putting many to the sword, and trying to subjugate the population. The fighting was fierce, but where we had spirit, rage, and fighting blood, the Empire troops had discipline, numbers and quality of arms and magic. These were NOT the humans we were used to! Those were sort of… scouts, sniffers, like hounds before the hunter.
These new ones had impressive armor (full plates), strange magic that came from book and prayers to those “gods” (wizards and clerics), and some weird bound magic in items and more (artificers with inventions, constructs and high quality magic items). But most important perhaps- they acted as one. we knew strategy, small time strategy, but never on such scale.
Island after island fell, the first quickly, the rest with more effort, but they fell. However, we would not be slaves again! The Humans and dwarf servants tried to persuade us to follow their masters (these… “gods”), to give ourselves to it/ them that it would lift us of our suffering- mostly the mixed blessing which their “hounds” decreed is a proof to the islanders being tainted/ unclean.
But we will kneel to no one! no one! rebellion started on many isles, a discreet rebellion, doing as much damage as it can without incurring TOO much wrath. Sometime it worked, sometime the Empire resorted to “making examples”. Those were dark times, with witches persecuted to the extreme, as the Missionaries saw them as the source of our belief. Many a witch forsaken it’s familiar, and later it became the sign of the “hiding witch” in our times.
It was the shoalings (partly aquatic Halflings) who coordinated the islands. They moved from isle to isle either on themselves, or in small boats and carried messages. It is not in an islander’s nature to cooperate, but slowly we did.
The rebellion grew, and so did the Empire’s efforts to get hold. The Empire focused it’s attempts on the Orc and Elf populations, wishing to convert these major forces in the isles. Some of their “conversion attempts” is what gave rise to the despised shame of the half-breeds (half elves and half orcs).
The planned conversions did not succeed, at least not for a long time. The islanders past and present traditions would not allow any “god” (really a master) to rule over us.
Near 184 years of freedom, it seemed there was some trouble brewing in the Empire itself, or that our efforts were bearing fruit, or that the empire has given up on our conversion, and they have slowly receded. Isle after isle became free, till their presence was only on the eastern most isles, mostly the settlements of Nishrek and Colonia. The first wave was won!