History of Camon

During the earliest days of the Exodus, when various warring tribes who did not wish to bow to the new Emperor of the Kalinesh people fled south, a large number of them discovered the lush and green lands that lay between the Wolfhead Mountains and the Southern Range. Though they nearly destroyed themselves fighting over these lands at first, a faction found what they came to know as the Light of Truth, the Justice-Bringer, and the One True God: Archanon. Deep within the Camon River Valley, the Holy Church of Archanon was founded in Camondel. 

No one is quite certain exactly when or how the worship of Archanon began, although the Church claims it has existed since the dawn of time. There are estimates that the Church came into being over 700 years ago. Some speculate that a man of some influence (often referred to simply as “the Chosen” in most historical texts and bard tales) must have misunderstood some supernatural event he witnessed, or else used magic to fool those around him that a single, all-powerful deity existed. Still others speculate that Archanon was fabricated for the sole purpose of uniting the warring tribes under one rule; a shrewd move that led to a select few obtaining great power (this theory is widely held by both the Druids of Mindoth's Tower and the Elvish Nation). 

Whatever its origin, the Church has always determined the fate and direction of Camon. At first, the Church merely backed the feudal lords it thought most capable of bringing stability and order (major precepts of the Church, as commanded by Archanon). The Church did not hold the throne, yet there were few times when a cardinal did not stand within a few feet of it. 

With the support of the Church and the firm belief that these lords were ordained to rule, the Kingdom of Camon came into being shortly after Galea. The most powerful clans and families became Houses, and a traditional feudal structure took form. The land belonged to the nobility; all those who lived and served on that land were serfs, in most cases little better than slaves. 

Over time, the Church became more and more powerful. Laws had to be brought before the leadership of the Church before they could be enacted, to ensure that no holy dictates were being countermanded or ignored. All appointments and elevations of station had to be approved as well, to ensure that no one unblessed by the One True God received unjust rewards. 

Finally, the perfect moment came for the Church's next move. In 2835, King Warick Devane died with no direct heir. Normally, the Church would oversee the succession by receiving petitions from all comers. However, the Grand Archcardinal declared that a displeased Archanon had spoken to him in a vision: Secular factions could not rule the Children of Archanon properly, and chaos and corruption abounded in Camon. Therefore, the Holy Archcardinal had been ordained to rule, and Camon was to be converted into a church-state. 

The Prelacy was born. 

"Whence came the taint of hatred, fear, corruption, and intolerance that blight our the promised lands that are Camon?" 

- Grand Archcardinal Halivan Allard 

Grand Archcardinal Allard had once asked that question when he began his calling to make amends with neighboring kingdoms and reform the Church. But the forces of evil that began what is now called The Betrayal War struck down that one bright hope for a Camon that would shed itself of old and backward ways of thinking (see the tome A Candle in the Darkness by Chrysalia Nollan for more information). So where did these traits come from and how did Camon come into being? The answer takes us back to the very beginnings of the Kal-anar Empire in 1400 A.C.

 The Kal society gave rise to the ideas that humans were superior to non-humans and strong humans were valued above all. This thinking was carried over into Camon when the four splinter tribes broke off with the Empire in 1723 A.C. by refusing to bow to Jolokas ki Grilnas's rule and accept Ceynara as patron goddess. The four groups believed that Shanais and Targon should be valued and worshiped above all, because it was they who created humans; It was the humans' duty as faithful children to await their return. These dissidents were expelled from the country.

 Jorisid Kamon led the tribes to the shores of Shanais River by 1729 A.C. They stopped and settled near the Tears of Shanais until an unknown event happened that forced them to abandon the settlement in 1756 A.C.. The four tribes then met up with humans from the Great Exodus in 1770 A.C. as they flowed into the valley of the Wolfhead ranges.  War soon broke out between the humans and the Goblinesh tribes that had settled there. Salizar Kamon led the human tribes to victory, and by 1800 A.C. had pushed them out of what came to be known as the Camon River Valley. Salizar then did something unprecedented: renouncing the spelling of his last name, he bestowed upon himself and the conquered lands the new name of Camon, proclaiming that a new order and age of humans had thus begun.

Yet old traditions do not die so easily. Soon, two factions emerged: The first refused to live under a rule similar to that which they had escaped from during the Great Exodus. The other sought to emulate the Kalinesh social and military structure that they were familiar with.  Over the next five centuries, this factionalism generated constant warfare and power struggles. It was Camon's continued good fortune that the Kal Empire continued to focus their attentions on the regions farther south. 

By 2300 A.C. a feudal system had emerged, with 37 noble houses. Of those thirty-seven, only seven - Travane, Rhodes, Baravold, Moore, Aldayern, Verrin, and Camon, survived to vie for control of the lands held in the jaws of the Wolfheads.  Some houses were better and more benevolent than others, but none emerged as strong rulers able to unite the land under one rule. In the meantime, the descendants of Kal-Anar's heretics, weary of their constant struggles and chaos, had given up hope of their Creators' return, while worshippers broke into increasingly splintered factions. By 2380 there was such a political and religious vacuum that the region was ripe for a new power to emerge. In 2390 a man known only as The Chosen began to preach about the “one true God” Archanon, and many began to follow his teachings. 

Whoever or whatever The Chosen was (there has been much speculation and debate), he brought about a chain of events that lead to uniting the warring noble houses under one rule. With the support of the new Church of Archanon, Erik Camon was proclaimed as King, uniting most of the noble houses in 2466 A.C. The remaining kingdoms on the south side of the Southern Range, Baravold and Rhodes, fell to the rule of Camon in 2532 A.C.. The Church of Archanon was granted leave by the King (a mere formality, as they had always been the true power) to form the Paladins of the Holy Sword. This military order was created to be under the direct command of the Archcardinal. Construction of the citadel in the Wolf River Pass also began at this time. 

 With a large and established military order, the Church flexed its political might and urged the Kingdom of Camon to outlaw worship of other powers in 2805 A.C. By royal proclamation, Archanon was named the only true God of Shaintar. Anyone claiming to have powers granted by the Ascended (including Ceynara and Vainar) were branded as heathens and demon worshipers. A small rebellion of Camoners defending their belief in the Ascended was ruthlessly and viciously wiped out by the Church's Paladins in 2807 A.C., and King Warick Travane did nothing to intercede. 

 Warick Travane died without a direct heir in 2835 A.C., allowing the power-hungry Church to do away with the Rites of Succession and declare that, by decree of their most Holy Lord, Camon would henceforth be ruled by the Church, thus birthing the Prelacy of Camon. Heads of the noble houses became the Noble Council, providing administration over the lands and acting as secular advisors to His Holiness, the Grand Archcardinal. In short, they were reduced to nothing more than bureaucratic figureheads.

Angered by the Church's dictatorial and totalitarian rule, some noble houses began secretly expanding their house guards, effectively recruiting a military force to help restore balance to the rule of Camon. With the primary goal of toppling the power of the Church and restoring a King to the throne, this underground force came to be known as the Cavaliers. 

 In 2838 A.C., the Prelacy issued the Purification Mandate, stating all non-humans were to be removed from Camon or registered as property of human citizens. All practitioners of magic were declared demon-worshipers, to be handed over to the Cardinal of Judgment for “purification” by fire in a public ceremony. Many refugees poured into Galea to escape persecution. Border skirmishes began to break out with some frequency between Camon and the neighboring kingdoms of Olara and Galea. Alarmed by the growing military strength and fighting prowess of the Cavaliers, the Prelacy outlawed all House guards in 2873 A.C., forcing the Cavaliers completely underground, where they continued their fight in earnest. 

 Then in 3019, Halivan Allard was ordained as Grand Archcardinal. Claiming to receive visions from Archanon himself, Halivan began his reign by teaching tolerance and attempting to turn the Church away from totalitarian rule. Unbeknownst to Halivan (and to the Cavaliers secretly protecting him), the Cardinal of Judgment, Mandris Toman, and the Supreme Paladin, Sir Glain Nollan, had made a pact with the forces of Darkness and Flame to forcefully remove Grand Archcardinal Allard and any others who supported “this path of madness and weakness.” Thus, in 3021 A.C., the Open Hand Peace Conference was turned into a bloody massacre, bringing death toalmost all who attended. So began the events that shaped the Betrayal War.

It was not until the final battle on the plains of Og'm Drakar that a shining being emerged, naming himself Archanon, and joined with the Ascended to help defeat the forces of evil.  Due to the ancient Covenants, Archanon suffered a great loss of his newfound power following his direct intervention in the last battle of the War. Totalitarians once again gained control of the Church in 3023 A.C., and the period of time immediately following their successful coup came to be known as the “Time of the Bloody Iron Hand.” All enemies of the Church were purged during this horrible period. The rulers of House Baravold and House Rhodes were stripped of their titles when it was found that both families were heavily involved with the Cavaliers. Although King Daniel Argorn and Queen Iolie Rhodes Argorn declared the lands held by Baravold and Rhodes under Galean protection, those "kingdoms" were forcefully taken and held by Prelacy forces and remain within the Church's control to this day.

Almost a hundred years later, the Royalists stand at the brink of extinction, and the forces of the Church are being prepared for a grand crusade to destroy the “false church,” the Church of Light. 

- Jonkeph Skein, Shaintar: Yesteryears and Today