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Lore:Systres History: Volume 5

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Systres History: Volume 5
by Trilam Heladren, Associate Dean of Eltheric History, University of Gwylim
A history of the Systres Archipelago

House Guimard administrated the Systres Archipelago for a century and a half before falling into disfavor because of a jilted marriage proposal. Subsequently, the ambitious House Mantel took ownership of the islands—but only briefly. In 1E 2484, the long dormant Mount Firesong erupted for the second time in recorded history. The catastrophic explosion shattered the ancient shipyards of High Isle, completely destroyed a burgeoning settlement on Amenos, cracked the All Flags monument, and claimed the lives of nearly one-third of the archipelago's inhabitants. Witnesses reported seeing smoke and smelling brimstone as far away as Lilandril [sic] in the months that followed, and the vibrations apparently rattled chimes in Hegathe.

The survivors—most of whom were fisherfolk, whalers, and other maritime tradespeople—petitioned the mainland for aid, but received little in the way of material support. Nearly all of the Systres' nobles were slain by the mountain's wrath, severing all meaningful connections between the people of the archipelago and High Rock's ruling class. The inequities of Breton feudalism were put on full display in the years that followed, with mass starvation and waterborne illness killing thousands more Bretons on High Isle. Only the intervention of the druids prevented a total collapse of Systrean society.

Members of the Stonelore Circle used their knowledge of the islands to provide nourishing root vegetables, mushrooms, curative salves, and fresh water to the desperate survivors. This prompted a short, but significant renaissance of druidic faith known as "the Green Years." While the druids did not realize a complete resurgence of their power over the islands, they earned a place of respect and bolstered their ranks considerably. Many of the druidic terms still spoken on the islands today derive from this period of rebirth and support.

The Bretons' gains over the following centuries were modest, but marked by great joy. No longer saddled by an intrusive noble class, the Systreans and their druidic allies formed a pastoral community of sailors, farmers, and herders. Huge logging camps and sprawling agricultural operations gave way to small subsistence farms, idyllic grasslands, and burgeoning druid enclaves. Broken monuments and shattered villas remained broken and shattered, while vines, moss, and fungi grew over a history that few Systreans cared to remember.