No one knows the exact number of tribes and cultures that inhabited Pentavia thousands of years ago. Some historians estimate it was hundreds. Others say it was thousands. With a lack of written records, we'll never know which is correct. Some cultures were reduced to a blood-stained footnote on the pages of General Marcus Turin's famous book, Taming Pentavia. Others didn't even receive such a courtesy as they were trampled by the marauding horsemen of the Shield.
Three ancient cultures' histories, however, have stood the test of time:
Up north, the clans of Fjorkia were as harsh and unyielding as the snow-covered mountains they called home. During their short summers, the women would tend the fields and pray to Grognard for a good harvest, while the men would fight wooly dragons, defend their lands from two-headed ogres, and raid their neighbors for food, weapons, and women. Fjorking warriors were known for their ferocity, and they never backed down from a fight. After all, they viewed every battle as an opportunity to die with honor. But they weren't foolish. During the winter, when the snow fell in sheets and the wooly dragon bulls went into musth, the Fjorkings gathered in the safety of their caves and didn't emerge until dragon mating season was over.
To the southwest, across the Tujiran Sea, lay the hot, rocky islands of Marinth. There were no wooly dragons for them to contend with, but they had their fair share of challenges in the form of natural disasters (or as they believed, punishments from their vengeful gods) and rival city-states. Despite that, Marinthian culture thrived. Their shipbuilders made triremes that could cross the sea, their generals devised tactics still used today, and their philosophers went on to found the very university I'm sitting in as I write this journal.
Finally, to the east in the Rashid Desert lay the Anumite Empire. They were the oldest, longest lasting, and perhaps most impressive of the three early civilizations. Historians credit their early advancement and longevity to a fortunate combination of factors. The desert protected them from invasion, while the annual flooding of the Anumit River replenished their soil with the nutrients required for agriculture. The Anumites wouldn't dispute that they had these advantages, but they would dispute the assertion that they were a "fortunate combination." In their eyes, nature was a gift from the gods.
Before I go any further, I would be remiss to not make note of the proverbial elephant on the page. If you're wondering why humans chose to settle in some of the least hospitable parts of Pentavia, you are not alone. The farmland of Treland is the most fertile on the continent and the weather there is the most moderate and predictable. And yet...the Fjorkings chose not to travel south even to avoid the wooly dragons and harsh winters. And the sea-faring Marinthians suffered through earthquakes and civil war rather than crossing the Tujiran sea and settling on the trade coast. What was in the forests of Treland that kept people away for so long?
That's one of those little bits of history I mentioned that doesn't quite make sense without the existence of magic. Or at least...magical creatures. More about that later, but for now, I'm going to learn everything I can about the Anumite Empire. If magic exists, perhaps it was a gift from their gods.
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