The First Age F.A. 5203-S.A. 860
As the Men of the East began to spread from their home at Hildorien, the followers of the House of Sulam passed through the land that would come to be known as Khand. Although it is said that the lands of Harad were greatly beautiful in these times, Khand too was less tainted. The arid stretch of the Great Desert had not reached into Lower Khand, and the verdant plains of Greater Khand were not yet poisoned with blood. A small tribe, enamoured of the land, detached from the following, and set about making the untamed Khand their home. The serenity of their lands became an attraction for those fleeing the conflicts of the South, East and West, and so Khand became a haven for those seeking peace. Thus, the farming tribes of mingled blood became the Khandish race. Their life was simple and rural, honouring the Sun which gave them their harvests – a tradition forever woven into the Khandish way of life.
Little strife touched the Khandish in these times, until, towards the end of the First Age, a sorcerous winged dragon, Niovíadon the Six-Eyed, came from the north and ravaged many of the tribes in the west. Rather than be decimated by him, several peoples gave their supplication to him, and built the temple of Haramâr in worship. Though his tyranny was feared by the tribes of Khand, they learnt much of value from him – such as the workings of stone and the forging of weaponry. Valuable though this was, his coming had heralded the end of peace in Khand forever.
The Ioriag Migration S.A. 860-864
After the coming of the dragon Niovíadon, the threat of more invasions became prevalent in the minds of the Khandish peoples. Because of their peaceful nature and inexperience, they lacked the will to seek to prevent such attempts. To them, it seemed the best they could do was pray for an admirable race to invade and become subservient to.
True to what the Khandish tribes anticipated, in the early years of the Second Age a race of warriors migrated north, out from the war-torn ravages of the Northern Wastes. They bore rugged steel armour, round shields and great axes. Though they were not weak or low in number, the conditions of their homeland had worsened to the degree that migration was necessary. Into the Gap of Khand they marched, and as he crossed the river to be later named after him, their Chieftain Ryarûk beheld the lands before him and proclaimed it theirs. In the year 860, the Ioriags crossed into their new home and began settling Upper Khand, laying the foundations for the fortress-city of Kyzilkûm. Soon, the tribes of the north began falling under their dominion. It was not long before Niovíadon the Six-Eyed noticed the newcomers.
The Ride of Ryarûk S.A. 864
In several skirmishes, the Six-Eyed dragon assaulted the Ioriag hosts. Confident in his singular power, Niovíadon attacked many of their settlements alone – even braving to scar the workings of Kyzilkûm, where the greater part of Chieftain Ryarûk’s strength was based. Knowing that his people could never prosper with such a threat in their vicinity, the Chieftain called together his bravest warriors and rode on Haramâr. This temple was where the dragon was based, according to the common knowledge of the tribes under the Ioriags’ control, and in token of this aid, Ryarûk gave better privileges to his conquered subjects. Although only a few rode with the Chieftain, they possessed a new weapon of war.
The invention of the Ioriags was by the necessity of their long march from the north. Developing wagons to transport their goods, Ryarûk had the idea to create such wains to use in war – and so, the first chariots of the East were constructed. Upon these fearsome mounts, he rode against Niovíadon. Rather than await the Ioriags’ onset at Haramâr, the dragon sped to meet them upon the plains of Greater Khand. In a frantic battle, the speed of the chariots of the Ioriags withstood the onset of Niovíadon, and with curling whips and arrows the great beast was brought to the ground. In the final combat, Ryarûk’s will withstood the monstrous spells of his foe, and he brought his great curved axe Varihast down into the dragon. The tyranny of Niovíadon had been destroyed, and Khand rightfully belonged to the Ioriags.
The Variag Empire S.A. 864-879
Believing the land of Khand to be theirs, the Ioriags spread southwards, beginning the construction of Sturlurtsa Khand and Ammu Khand, set to be their major cities. However, even as they began to mingle among the Khandish, the tribes rose up against them in revolt. This was spurred not out of hatred, but through the mechanisms of the devout worshippers of Niovíadon, orchestrated from their ziggurat of Haramâr. Disheartened, and seeking to consolidate his people, Chieftain Ryarûk retreated north to Kyzilkûm, abandoning their constructions for now. But, once the Ioriags had gone, unprecedented in-fighting broke out across the tribes for power over Khand. With the influence of Haramâr unable to control them, a committee of the tribes’ chieftains met to discuss their land’s situation. Knowing that the fighting would stop under Ioriag rule, they eventually decided to invite them back into their lands. With the full consent of the Khandish tribes, the Ioriags took dominion of the entirety of Khand. The worship of Niovíadon the Six-Eyed was banned at Haramâr, and instead prayer towards the Sun and the Ioriag rulers was forced upon its dissident acolytes.
With Sturlurtsa Khand eventually created in 866, Ryarûk ascended to become the first Emperor of Khand; although, in the records, his rule began in 864 – the year in which he slew the dragon. After taking his crown, forged from the gold and bones of Niovíadon, he sought to intertwine the Ioriags and the native Khandish tribes. And so, Ryarûk merged the two races – including their rights, their possessions and their military standing. He named his joint people after his great axe Varihast, which had carved the new empire – the Variags.
As the line of the Variag Emperor ruled at Sturlurtsa Khand (the city of Lower Khand), the lines of Ryarûk’s brothers, Syarnûz and Tyruvâ, were made General-Regents. Their seats were at Kyzilkûm, city of Upper Khand, and Ammu Khand, city of Greater Khand, respectively. The Emperor Ryarûk eventually died in 879, but by the time of his death Khand was already well advancing as an empire, and the legacy of his descendants were assured.
The Touch of Sauron S.A. 1965
During the reign of the Variag Emperor Ginnurûk in the second half of the 20th century, his Empire had been well-established and evolved after over a millennium since its founding. The war-gear of the Khandish hosts had adapted to using the swift horses of the plains of Greater Khand, and the curved design of Varihast began to be mass-produced in both single and two-handed axes, as the popularity of shields was beginning to drop. After the creation of Ryarûk’s chariots, speed and strength became the main mantras of the Variag warriors. For all this advancement, though, there was little warfare since the creation of the Empire. Though some Haradrim and Easterling tribes crossing the borders had brought trouble, the kingdom of Amrûn to the south had remained neutral to their neighbours. The military of the Variags’ main purpose was to oversee the keeping of the peace along the Khand Road – for the Empire had become a main trading route, which the Khandish could only prosper from. The religion of Khand had too been defined. Although veneration of Niovíadon the Six-Eyed remained prescient, but utterly secret, at Haramâr, a mixture of Ioriag and native Khandish beliefs became intertwined, with the Ioriag sky-god Tengri proposed as the Sun, whom the original tribes worshipped. In Mordor, however, with his secret ally Niovíadon dead, the Dark Lord plotted to transport this adoration onto him.
In the year 1965, Sauron the Deceiver came before the Variag Emperor Ginnurûk at Sturlurtsa Khand. In guise both daunting and admirable, he asked the Emperor to forge an alliance with him, that together they could crush the threat of Númenor on the shores and unite the disparate east. Although it can be considered short-sighted of Ginnurûk to not have wished to combat the waxing power of the Númenoreans, he still was not a fool. He had gathered information on the growing influence of the Dark Lord of Mordor, and perceived that it was not allegiance Sauron wished for, but domination. Ginnurûk refused, only for the Dark Lord to reveal a form of wrath, promising war if denial was his final choice. Stoically, the Emperor confirmed his decision, and the Dark Lord left embittered.
Rharnûz’s Rebellion S.A. 1965-1981
The resolve of Ryarûk truly ran pure through Ginnurûk’s veins, for few mortals could withstand the shrewd tongue of Sauron. That was not to say that everyone in the court was as firm-willed. The General-Regent of Kyzilkûm, Rharnûz, fell under the sway of the Dark Lord’s power, and plotted with his household to dispose of the Emperor. However, his loyal youngest son, Nhehûzta, reported of these secret dealings to Sturlurtsa Khand. In wrath, Ginnurûk marched on Kyzilkûm and deposed of Rharnûz and his followers in battle, forcing them to retreat northwards out of Khand. In a land of hills divided by rivers, between Chey Sart and their old home, Rharnûz constructed his strength and laid claim to the lands about him, calling them Nûrad– an Ioriag land loyal to Mordor.
The revolt of Rharnûz aggrieved the Emperor greatly, but he knew that steps of defence had to be taken if Nûrad and Mordor attacked the Gap of Khand. At the crossing of the River Ryarûk, the nigh-impenetrable defence of Ginnûgamr was created. Composed of a stalwart fortress on each side of the river, it would serve not only as a keep of defence, but as an excellent toll-bridge in times of peace. True to Ginnurûk’s prediction, Syarnûzta, the eldest son of Rharnûz led a force of Nûriags and Orcs of Mordor against Ginnûgamr in 1981. In the name of the Emperor, Nhehûzta, now the General-Regent of Kyzilkûm, defended the crossing and defeated his elder brother. It was predicted that Sauron’s wrath would have been greater, if not for many of his forces being engaged in Near Harad against the Númenorean provincial King Ard the Vain. Nevertheless, Ginnûgamr had to now remain vigilant against both the threats of Mordor and Nûrad.
The Battle of Noz Peka S.A. 1966-1988
Although the actions of Nhehûzta, son of Rharnûz, were seen as both loyal and heroic, later it was made clear that his intentions were not as valorous as originally believed. Although his father, and apparently all his other sons, had turned to servitude of the Dark Lord, his middle sons, Kionid and Mionid, were actually the ones who wished to inform the Emperor of his father’s rebellion. Knowing that Rharnûz and his followers would be deposed, clearing the way to the seat of Kyzilkûm for Kionid, Nhehûzta betrayed his loyal brothers and too declared them servants of the Dark Lord to Emperor Ginnurûk. Seeing their doom, but unwilling to join their father under Sauron’s banner, Kionid and Mionid fled Kyzilkûm with their families. In exile, they made refuge in the caves of Olbamarl, above the River Ryarûk at the end of the spur of the Ephel Dúath. Here, in the year 1970, Kionid’s wife gave birth to their only son, Ûvatha.
After much plotting and planning, the followers of Kionid and Mionid revealed themselves once again, giving evidence of Nhehûzta’s misdeeds. Although many of the peoples of Upper Khand rallied to their rightful lord, many still held Nhehûzta to be a sound ruler, especially after his aid in the banishment of Rharnûz and his victory at the Battle of Ginnûgamr. With the word of Sturlurtsa Khand silent on the matter due to a change at court, their rue could only be resolved by battle. In 1988, by the River Noz Peka, the rebels engaged the forces of Kyzilkûm. With Kionid and Mionid at the head of the army, the young Ûvatha, although only eighteen years of age, led the rebel cavalry, already gaining a reputation as a horseman. In a bitter struggle of brother against brother, the rebels won the day, and Kionid took the head of Nhehûzta. However, Kionid too had fallen, and so the rightful lord of Upper Khand was now Ûvatha. Desiring the seat for himself, Mionid made his true intentions clear and resolved for treachery. He had his men attempt to kill his young nephew, framing him as dead on the battlefield, but the swift riding of Ûvatha saved him and he escaped, riding to take refuge at Sturlurtsa Khand.
Komûl the Conqueror S.A. 1844-1994
In the year 1844 of the Second Age, a man named Komûl became the King of Womaw – at that time, the strongest realm in the East. Born into a house with Elven blood flowing through the royal veins, he had both time and resources on his side. For the next one hundred and fifty years he spread his rule across almost all of the Eastern Realms. This was until the Númenoreans recognised his alarming rate of growth and began to make covert uprisings across his gigantic realm. Feeling both life and power slipping from his grasp, he sought aid on what he could do to retain it. The voice of the Dark Lord answered. In return for immortality, he had to bring the unyielding Khand to its knees. In 1994, his invasion began.
Having suffered two civil wars and opposition from Mordor, the defence of Upper Khand was unprepared for the assault that Komûl bore against them. After crossing the perceived undefeatable Ginnûgamr, Mionid, the craven General-Regent of Upper Khand, surrendered, and allowed Komûl free passage into Greater Khand. Very soon, the Variags were besieged at Ammu Khand, Haramâr and at their capital, Sturlurtsa Khand.
The Emperor and the Easterling S.A. 1994
With the main military strength of the Variag Emperor now based at Sturlurtsa Khand, the final battles for the dominion of the Empire were long, bloody and unrelenting. Six times the Easterlings of Komûl assaulted the walls of the city, six times were they thrown back, and six times the enemy forces fought in the plain before the city. Very soon the earth about the battles was soaked to capacity with blood, and there were more corpses in the fields than blades of grass. Komûl knew that he would eventually win – all he had to do was call additional reinforcements from his own lands or from Mordor. However, he theorised that soon he would be ruling the Empire of Khand, and that the strength its armies would give to him would be nonexistent if he kept the slaughter going any longer. Seeing no better way, he sent a message to the Variag Emperor – that the war would be won by a trial of combat, between the Emperor, and Komûl.
The wilful Ginnurûk had died before the invasion of Komûl, in the year 1988 around the same time as the Battle of Noz Peka. His realm was now left to his son, Earvunûhki, who had long been renowned as the most skilled warrior in Khand. This was due to the circumstances of his birth, as his father foresaw that war would come in his time, and so the heir to the Empire dedicated his life to martial training. However, unlike the traditional way of his ancestors, he fought not with an axe, but with a sword. He had forged this sword himself, made from the re-crafted hoard of Niovíadon, which still lay under Haramâr, hoping for it to be the new symbol of his people rather than the Varihast of Ryarûk. Yet, on his deathbed, Ginnurûk had another prophetic warning for his son – to remember his ancestors when the future of the Empire was most bleak. This bleak time had indeed come to him, but, with the offer of Komûl to duel man-to-man, Earvunûhki believed he could end it. Before he walked from Sturlurtsa Khand to meet his opponent, he resolved to take his own sword, rather than Varihast, for he was more skilful with the former. At dusk, Komûl and Earvunûhki engaged in their duel to the death.
For hours the two fought with their great hosts looking on, crying out their names in admiration. Although younger and less experienced, Earvunûhki was a match for the might of Komûl. When the Easterling’s magic was set upon him, the will of his bloodline shrugged it off. When a mortal blow came to strike him, he could prevent it. As the sun went down, it was sung that the combatants were so swift that dust swirled about them like a maelstrom. It was night when the dust abated. With bated breath the armies watched the earth settle – to reveal Komûl with a broken sword, and Earvunûhki, heroically and tragically, dead beside him. Victorious, but in honour of his most worthy adversary, the Easterling took the fine sword of his foe, naming it Khanamarth – the doom of lords. Perhaps, if Earvunûhki heeded the true meaning of his father’s last words and had taken the Varihast to battle, the future Lieutenant of Sauron would not be, and the line of Ryarûk would still rule Khand. Instead, forever after, Earvunûhki was referred to as Khanphoros – the Last Emperor.
Client Khand S.A. 1994-1997
With their Emperor’s death, the last resolve of the Variags failed, and Komûl took control of the Empire, which dissolved into the two client kingdoms of Upper Khand and Lower Khand. The Emperor’s former General-Regents, Mionid Achef, and Urig Urpof of Ammu Baj, swore their fealty to the Easterling, and ruled from Kyzilkûm and Sturlurtsa Khand respectively. In token of his victory, Komûl destroyed Varihast, took to wife Earvunûhki’s sister, Ûlphalaith, and returned to his own lands. Later, for his success in Khand, he received the second of the Nine Rings from Sauron – eventually twisting him into Khamûl, the Black Easterling. It was said, after he departed to Mordor, Ûlphalaith escaped into the wild with her child, Kûlphalos, who began the line of the Mercenary Princes of the East, eventually to become the High Kings of Rhûn; and so the bloodline of Ryarûk lived on, even if not in its former country.