This article discusses the pre-Cataclysm state of Kharolis, also known as Kharland, and should not be confused with the modern-day state of Kharolis, previously known as the Principality of Kharolis.
Kharolis as of 550 PC.
In the southern lands of Ansalon there is the region known as the Plains of Dust. Although once a lush tundra, this region became an inhospitable wasteland following the Cataclysm. Settlements are far and few between, and those inhabitants that live there find life difficult as they struggle to survive on the barren landscape. Prior to the cataclysm this land was once known as the great merchant nation of Kharolis. This fact often confuses most historians and scholars as they confuse this ancient kingdom with the current kingdom of Kharolis further to the west. People became completely puzzled when they compared maps of the different time periods because it appeared as though the land of Kharolis moved over a hundred miles west after the cataclysm. Although the kingdoms share the same name, their regions and their histories are indisputably unique. This history details the story of the easternmost region of Kharolis, a kingdom of once great importance that is now all but forgotten.
Age of Dreams: Time of Light
In 2602 PC, the town of Tarsis was established as a trading post for several tribes in the southern lands. Being the only true settlement in the area, it did not take long for the settlement to be noticed. Different tribes and clans traveled there from throughout the region to trade amongst each other. As its wealth increased, the town rapidly turned into a prosperous city. Trade items from all over the known world could be found here including items from nations such as the Dwarven kingdom of Thorin, the Elven nation of Silvanesti, and the Kender of Hylo.
Unfortunately traders were not the only ones to notice Tarsis. The settlement caught the eye of Ackal Ergot. By 2600 PC, the great warlord had already conquered most of the human lands of northwestern Ansalon. For years, the southern lands had received a large migration of incoming refuges that were fleeing from the north. All of the southern inhabitants knew of his name however most did not believe he would ever reach the southern lands. After Ackal's warriors launched a few punitive raids, the people of the southern region realized they were no longer safe. The people braced for war however the tribes and clans were too disorganized to mount any sort of true resistance.
In 2580 PC, the main force of Ackal's hordes turned south and pressed into the lands around Tarsis. His great armies swept into the region overrunning and pillaging everything in their path. All seemed hopeless until one warrior stepped forward. Uniting under the great warrior woman known as Kharolis of Tarsis, the remaining free tribes were able to stop the advance of Ackal Ergot's hordes. For years, war raged on the open plains until the Battle of Blood Stand in 2575 PC. This battle marked the turning point in the war in which Kharolis decided to make her last stand against the Ergothian hordes. The Ergothian Army marched out to meet the army of Kharolis in what was expected to be the last battle. Under the leadership of Kharolis and her female generals, the southern tribes maintained their ground and fought hard. Four hours of carnage ensued with casualties being horrendous on both sides. In the end, the army of Kharolis emerged victorious. Ergothian history claims to this day that they themselves were in fact the victors of that battle; however the Iconochronos says otherwise as it is evident that the Nation of Kharolis was never absorbed into the Ergothian Empire.
Immediately after the Battle of Blood Stand, word had reached the Ergothian Generals that Emperor Ackal Ergot had fallen down a flight of stairs and died after having been pushed by assassins. Ackal's son took the throne and ordered the Ergothian hordes in the south to halt. He felt that the region of Kharolis (as it was now becoming called) was no longer their priority.
History does not tell us for sure if the warrior woman Kharolis survived the Battle of Blood Stand, but we do know that the surviving tribes and clans named the entire region in her honor. From that moment on, the surrounding land was known as the nation of Kharolis. To ensure her legacy, future leaders were generally female and/or a descendant of her family.
Eventually the Ergothian Empire and the nation of Kharolis opened up trading routes after having created a shaky peace. This however was made difficult due to strict tariffs that each nation placed on each other. It seemed inevitable that these two nations were destined to fight. There were continual conflicts and trading competitions. If Tarsian lords or ladies ever angered the emperor, he generally used that as an excuse to invade Kharolis and to expand his empire southward. The Bay War, the Mountain War, and the War of Silver Skulls were all conflicts that resulted from Ergothian attempts to expand into the nation of Kharolis.
The nation of Kharolis faced a true threat to its survival in 2421 PC. The Ergothian Empire had recently made an alliance with the Orders of High Sorcery. The wizards built a new tower in the Ergothian capital of Daltigoth after the Tarsians had defied the great wizard Benavir Nine-fingers in his attempts to raise a tower in Tarsis. Due to their bitterness against the Tarsians, the wizards were more than eager to help the emperor in a war against Kharolis. When another dispute erupted with Ergoth, the Tarsians found themselves at a major disadvantage.
For several years, the empire had been trying to disrupt the trade monopoly that Kharolis had over the nation of Hylo. Although it has not been proven, it is said that the emperor even paid off pirates to attack and capture Tarsian ships in route to Hylo. The nation of Kharolis responded by raiding towns and settlements up and down the Ergothian coast. Outraged by the Tarsians' supposed arrogance, the Emperor of Ergoth mustered a massive military force to travel south to Tarsis and finally put an end to the war. The nation of Kharolis recalled its fleet to aid in the defense of the city. Hundreds of Tarsian warships entered the bay to protect the capital however upon arriving they were alarmed to discover they could not reach the shoreline. Wizards from the Orders of High Sorcery were on the shoreline casting spells to prevent reinforcements from reaching Tarsis. The Ergothian forces crushed the Tarsian army and bought the great city of Tarsis to its knees. The Lordcity of Tarsis agreed to end the war and surrendered on the terms of paying large reparations in gold and a reduction in the size of its navy fleet. The nation was able to keep its sovereignty, however the Ergothians made it clear that they would continuously maintain a presence on their borders to ensure Ergothian dominance. Ergoth claimed all of Kharolis' borderlands west of the Kharolis bay and south of the mountains. At the time, that region was named the Harrowsky Hill Country. The Ergothians however, renamed it the Principality of Kharolis as one last insult to their new neighbors in Kharolis Proper. Immediately after taking the land, the Ergothians built the great imperial fortress of Six-Dunes. This fortress stood on the border between the Principality of Kharolis and Kharolis Proper perched on a high promontory overlooking the land. This fortress was built to maintain the Ergothians' hold on the land and to ensure that the Tarsians would never again be able to wage war on the empire.
As the centuries passed, the Empire of Ergoth and Kharolis tried to have as little to do with each other as possible. Kharolis continued to trade with most of Ansalon's nations and it once again rose as one of the most wealthy trade nations. When the dwarves of Thorin migrated to their new home of Thorbardin, the nation of Kharolis quickly found in them a new trading partner. The dwarves were eager to establish themselves in their new region and Kharolis was more than willing to help them ship out their trading goods. Upon sealing their alliance, Kharolis also helped the dwarves quell attacks from some of the more wild tribes in the region that protested the dwarves' arrival. The two nations' partnership would prove to be long and prosperous, greatly benefiting both Kingdoms.
It was also around this time that the town of Purstal was founded on Kharolis' eastern border. This small settlement acted as a trading post between the nation of Kharolis and the elves of Silvanesti. With the signing of the Swordsheath Scroll after the Kinslayer War and the War of the Mountain, Purstals' importance greatly increased. After the Kinslayer war, the elves had abandoned some of the lands between the new nation of Qualinesti and the ancient nation of Silvanesti. Kharolis and Ergoth had made true peace after the Swordsheath Scroll and both nations resumed trading. The Ergothians started to migrate southward into lands that the elves had abandoned and the city of Purstal found itself situated at the hub of where Kharolis, Silvanesti, and the new lands of Ergoth met. Taking advantage of this growing trading center, the elves built the great King's Road leading into Kharolis. This magnificent road was constructed thirty feet above the ground and was supported by great pillars. This marvel of the ancient world started from the Thon-Thalas River in Silvanesti and ended in Purstal.
Other great cities and towns also arose during this time. The city of Wallach was founded and became a major center of worship for Zivilyn. The newer cities of Elial and Hopeful thrived along the newly opened trade routes and became smaller trading centers for Kharolis.
Age of Might
Unfortunately Kharolis started to decline after the Third Dragon War. The war had devastated the western lands of Ansalon destroying great cities and cutting trade routes. From the east, the unaffected and emerging state of Istar quickly replaced Kharolis as the lead trade nation. As Kharolis struggled to keep up, Istar helped the other nations to rebuild their war-torn lands and thus soon dominated most of Ansalon's markets. Eventually Istar became so powerful that they were able to enforce strict trading standards on all the other nations. Unable to compete, Kharolis was forced to adopt these new trade standards even though it hurt the nation economically.
In 280 PC, Istar installed the first Kingpriest. Although this act was applauded by most nations, this was the beginning of the end for Kharolis. The Kingpriest's first edict stated that "mortal women were to be subservient to mortal men, as Mishakal was subservient to Paladine." (Odyssey of Gilthanas p.242) The Queen of Kharolis was outraged. Istarian ambassadors in Tarsis quickly apologized to the queen trying to keep the façade of peace however it soon became clear that Istar had sought the downfall of Kharolis. With each new Kingpriest, harsher edicts were implemented towards Kharolis. Finally with the Proclamation of Manifest Virtue, the Kingpriest singled out the Queen of Kharolis by stating that "It is a sin for Woman to elevate herself above Man. As Paladine rules over the gods of Good, so shall Man rule over righteous mortals. Any Woman who elevates herself above Man is doing the will of the Dark Queen." (Odyssey of Gilthanas p. 242)
The Queen instantly arrested all of Istar's priests and had them expelled from Kharolis. This act spurred uprisings all over the nation. Many of the populace had come to believe that the Kingpriest was indeed the chosen speaker for the gods. In every settlement revolts went up against the queen and called for her removal. With the nation falling into shambles, Istar's legions quickly invaded along the coast. The legions swept through the countryside burning and looting towns as they went. Within only a short amount of time, all of eastern Kharolis had fallen to the Kingpriest's legions. The great cities of eastern Kharolis found themselves cut off from the Lordcity of Tarsis without any aid. In 89 PC, Purstal was the first city to be besieged. By 82 PC, the legions were able to break through the city's defenses. The legionnaires rampaged through the city slaughtering every last citizen before finally torching the entire city.
Over the next half century, Kharolis was a nation in name only. Most of nation's wealth had been stripped bare and sent back to Istar as supposed reparations for the war. Queen Kharolis XII was the last monarch to ever hold the title of ruler. In truth, she never had any real power. The young queen was more of a figurehead to those still loyal to the royal family. Spending most of her time in hiding, she lived a sorrowful life. Tarsian loyalists helped to keep her hidden and they had planned to buy her safe passage to Ergoth. Unfortunately, four years before the cataclysm, she was captured and enslaved in Istar. It is rumored that Kingpriest made her his personal concubine in one final act of disgrace upon the nation of Kharolis.
Age of Despair
After the Cataclysm, the climate changed so dramatically that most of the region's surviving settlements were abandoned. The once great Lordcity of Tarsis remained, however it now found itself a crumbling, landlocked city that was isolated from the rest of the world. For all the glory that it once possessed, the merchant nation of Kharolis simply ceased to exist. The land became known as the Plains of Dust leaving the great nation of Kharolis as only a distant memory.
- Towers of High Sorcery p.114-115
- Fifth Age: Heroes of Defiance / Book One p.59-60
- A Warrior's Journey p.1-2
- The Wizard's Fate p. 1, 16-19
- Dragonlance Classics 15th Anniversary Edition p. 152
- Player's Guide to the Dragonlance Campaign p. 91
- The Odyssey of Gilthanas p. 240-245
- War of the Lance (Sourcebook) p. 106-108