Timeline: Circa 20 YE to 325 YE
Ratlings – now a poor, disenfranchised race and considered a scourge by many – often look back on the past with pride. For some 300 glorious years, the Kingdom of Skeerin thrived in what is now the Empire.
In the years between the end of the Shadow War and the rise of Skeerin, a group of feuding ratling clans fought amongst themselves in the deserts west of the Khazan River. It was only at the dawn of the Imperial era (ca. 20 YE) that a ratling strongman forced them into one cohesive nation.
Below the shifting sands, these ratlings had formed a network of tunnels and a settlement of sorts – Undertown – and by the time Shareeka Rex took control, this subterranean world stretched for over a hundred miles.
Shareeka, a warrior of the Eeka clan, was one of the few ratlings who had ventured outside this underground network. With a band of mercenaries he had visited the lush Khazan River Valley. Amazed at the great temples and monuments, he realized that what his people needed was a strongman: a unifier like the Khazidean sultan, so that they could achieve the same level of greatness.
From the formation of the new unified state to Shareeka’s death in 35 YE, great building projects were undertaken throughout the Underkingdom. Much of Khazidean architecture – pointed arches and statues of their gods – was copied, albeit in a much cruder manner. Shareeka proclaimed that the leader of the kingdom – after the manner of humans – would be given the title “Rex.”
Shareeka’s son, Shareeka Rex (as all the Skeerin kings were afterward called) the Second, carried on his father’s mission. It was Shareeka Rex II that would leave the Underkingdom and begin the next stage of the kingdom’s history: war.
Shareeka Rex II’s conquests were extremely unsuccessful. Three major invasions were taken, in 40 YE, 44 YE, and 46 YE, and all three were driven back by the Khazidean sultans with ease. However, when the armies of the sultans tried to invade the Underkingdom and put an end to the pestilence, they were massacred in the confusing network of tunnels.
It was not until Shareeka Rex III that they began to master the art of war. He began what would become the trademark tactic of the Skeerin Kingdom: biological warfare. Spreading disease in besieged towns – and, by the nature of ratlings, immune to those very diseases – they cleared out the Khazidean port of Saif, and named it Shyreen (Ratling for “Our Town”). From there, they traded with the nascent Peregothian Empire and the immensely wealthy land of Eloesus.
Thus began a golden age for the Kingdom of Skeerin. At the kingdom’s height, around 250 YE, the ratlings had established colonies throughout the Imperial Sea. The tunnels of Underkingdom were filled with works of gold, and the wealth of the Skeerin kings knew no limits.
In 315 YE, Shareeka Rex XVI took the throne. The last great achievement of the Ratling Kingdom was also their downfall. An army of ratlings docked in the swamps of the island of Eronesis, and set out to besiege the capital city of the Empire. Fearing the spread of plague – for the Skeerin’s tactics of biological warfare were well-known – the people of Peregoth fled. In 320, the city was recovered thanks to the treachery of the ratling soldier Reekee (known in the Empire as Ricci).
Colony by colony, the Peregothians undid the influence of Skeerin across the Middle Sea. On the passing of Shareeka Rex XVI, the once-great kingdom faded away: The period from 320 to 325 YE was termed “The Great Unraveling” by the descendants of Skeerin across the Empire. Colonies were either destroyed or taken into human control and given human names.
At some point before 325 YE, the entrances to the Underkingdom were filled-in, and their location faded from knowledge. Today, if anyone knows where the tunnels of the Underkingdom lie, and all their vast wealth, it is a very well-kept secret.
The capitulation of the Heir Presumptive of Skeerin – Shareeka Rex XVII – made the dissolution final in 325 YE. The descendants of Skeerin live throughout the Empire and in the Northern World. The tales of their former greatness live on.