It occurred to me as I wrote the last complete parchment of my current travelogue that I have never given a great deal of attention to those commonly alluded-to progenitors of ours, the Ersuunians. I often write as if my audience has received the same general schooling in history as I have, or at least a fraction of it, but as I try to write for a readership not confined to the upper levels of Deneroth, I realize now that I leave far too many gaps and vistas of untouched possibility in my works. This will never be completely remedied, but I will attempt to remain conscious of the issue while moving forward.
Or in this case, even farther backward.
Disregarding for a moment the Esgodarrans, the Pach-Pah lineages, the tribes of the Oron'er Mountains, half of the ethnic admixture of the Nambarish, the Gertish, the aboriginals of the Khokhantipa Mudflats, and the Delta-dwellers¹, the Ersuunians were the catalyst for the development of complex and wide-reaching civilizations in all of the known world.
According to classical depictions, they were a tall and broad-shouldered folk with dark hair and dark or sometimes blue eyes, possessed of a bronze complexion and, in the case of the men, truly impressive mustaches. With that said, I point to the much wider diversity exhibited by the groups descended from them as an indicator that this was simply one of many phenotypes found among them and their constituent peoples at the time of their arrival on the landmass.
More verifiably, the Ersuunians were well-established pastoralists who carried or carted what little material wealth of theirs which couldn't be herded. According to tradition these other articles of wealth included finely crafted iron tools and weaponry, and the materials used to create them, but it is unclear how they managed to maintain both a pioneering lifestyle and a long tradition of blacksmithing. Perhaps their carts were larger and more numerous than commonly reported, or perhaps the speed of their expansion across the continent should be measured more in centuries than in decades.
The Ersuunians were accomplished riders, and the horse is strongly associated with their culture to this day, though it is unclear whether they had such a surplus of horses that all had a mount, or only the nobility and warriors--those most likely groups to have records or accounts about them extant--had access to such resources. By "nobles", I mean the tribal chieftains who led a group in practical as well as ritual affairs, and who commonly passed their title down through a patrilineal like of succession. These chieftains would host a court and establish fortified camps for at least as long as winter lasted, often building them so that they resembled an ovoid or more rarely crescent (perhaps even horseshoe?) shape.
They originated from somewhere far to the east, beyond the lands which have since become dried and parched. Either they dwelt in those regions soon to become desert until they became less favorable, or they passed them up directly in their efforts to find or claim a new homeland for themselves. Wherever they or their own ancestors originated from beyond what is now wasteland is lost to unwritten history, for the extent of those trackless and dangerous lands is unknown either by land route or sea. Whether the Fokari lived in the area at that time is also unclear, but I speculate that if they did, the Ersuunians had one more reason to push further west, rather than contend with established tribes and their herds.
Settling first in the highlands to the east of the rivers and the corridors of steppe country north of there, the Ersuunians spread out over the region over a period of time which might be better guessed at if the University begins to develop an archaeological studies group in the next few years. I imagine that they moved with less than burning purpose, with those who arrived first establishing themselves and their families in decent grazing lands while those behind either passed beyond into the newest frontiers, or forced their erstwhile neighbors ahead of them in return.
Eventually, or "forty-by-forty generations before the cracking of the alabaster bristlecone pine's trunk and the birthing of Haraal" to be exact ³, the Ersuunians would come to the basin which now bears their name.
When they did happen upon this vast and comparatively quite verdant depression, they also encountered the Esgodarrans living there. Exactly how these two peoples related to one another at first is unclear, but at some point their relations turned hostile. It may have been a matter of land dispute, because the mounted Ersuunians were victorious over the Esgodarrans and "drove them into the hills" of the basin according to the Histories of All written by the sage Yashka, circa 1284 BR.⁴ The implication is that the Esgodarrans were present outside of the hills prior to that conflict, and the resulting clashes allowed the Ersuunians to move in and occupy the territory by themselves. This too needs better research than I am able to attempt at the time being, but were I to make the attempt, I would seek to cross-reference these histories with those surviving in Esgodarran accounts, oral or otherwise.
Whatever the catalyst or the series of events, the result was that the Ersuunian tribes now controlled vast swathes of rich new territory, which they quickly adapted to their lifestyle. It was only so long until exploration into the agriculture practiced by several of their new neighbors began, and after that it was a sad inevitability that the first chieftain arose up among them who got the wild horsehair up his backside and decided that he wanted all to refer to him as "king".
Fans of my short piece on the Pach-Pah Empire might be able to spot history repeating itself here.
¹ Why yes, that is quite a substantial list of peoples to ignore when discussing the qualifications for "original" civilizations.² Almost seems like our definition of the term is worth revisiting, doesn't it?
² Let me also preemptively admit to my bold-faced hypocrisy in not including the Longfolk of the Reossos or the Fokari of the eastern wastelands in this list. Much to my chagrin, I cannot treat all of my sources on those peoples as accurate after two to four hundred years have passed since their (arguably) shaky formation. In the latter case, sheer distance has prevented recent exploration by any daring adventurers, and in the case of the former, our modern brand of daring adventurer tends not to be very arrow-proof. Let me also acknowledge the unwritten word which must remain so even now, lest I return home to find my accommodations back at the ITU completely and wholly dismantled despite what any technicalities in the University's code of law and conduct might say otherwise about the matter. Even so far south, I can still feel the shadow of Adelbramp's black marker looming close.
³ Verse eight, line eleven of the Histories of All, Yashka the Sage, 1284 BR.
⁴ Because the passage in question is not drilled into each and every freshman's brain by orientation courses for three semesters straight like the citation just above, and because I am far away from the text at this moment, I cannot state with a great degree of accuracy where in the Histories this information may be found. However, I am reasonably confident that it is located somewhere within the first 48,000 verses of the narrative, narrowing one's search down considerably.