The mightiest of the Flan tribes of the Bright Lands, the Sulmi also harbored the greatest ambition. Claiming the central, most sheltered and fertile portions of the grassland, they were already well on the way to forming a mighty nation when the children of Caerdiralor emerged from their hidden sanctuaries to offer them long-hidden secrets. The Sulmi eagerly embraced the newcomers’ teachings. Quickly mastering these new disciplines, they abandoned the trappings of their traditional lives, building great temples and cities where once only wild flowers grew. Their greatest achievement – Utaa – became their capital city and the preeminent settlement throughout the entire region.
The Rise and Fall of Sulm
Two millennia ago, several Flan civilizations rose from barbarism in the arid grasslands that once carpeted the region. The greatest of these nations was Sulm. Here, the Flan learned the secrets of agriculture, ironwork, and engineering, founded great cities, and raised majestic temples to their gods.
At first a force for good, the Sulmites delved into ancient lore and declined as a people, embracing evil and conquest. In a series of swift, hard-fought campaigns, Sulm’s neighbor states (Ronhas, Durha, Rhugha, and Truun) fell before the might of her iron-shod hosts. Continued aggression brought open warfare with an implacable enemy—Itar. One by one, the other kingdoms fell before Sulm’s might until her last rival, Itar, was defeated in a cataclysmic battle.
With Itar’s destruction, the entire region fell under Sulmish hegemony. Her people grew proud and her leaders corrupt and arrogant as wealth and tribute poured into the great temple-city capital, Utaa, seat of Sulmish rule. Sulmish society stagnated for centuries as decadence and evil grew into the hearts of her people; simultaneously tendrils of insurrection crept among the subjugated folk of the hinterlands.
For all its might and wisdom, doom came suddenly to Sulm. The nation’s rulers, desperate to stem the rising tide of civil unrest and rebellion, delved too deeply into the poisonous wellspring from which their civilization had sprung. The last of Sulm’s rulers, an ambitious and undoubtedly mad sorcerer named Shattados, cried out to the Lords of Evil for aid and received a whispered promise in exchange. His divine patron, Tharizdun, granted Shattados a powerful magic artifact, the Scorpion Crown, that would allow him total control over his subjects. The greedy overlord thrust the crown upon his head and brought doom to the entire region
In turn, Sulm fell, though not by the force of an external adversary but through the folly of its rulers. Sulm’s last ruler, Shattados, called upon his dark gods to grant him a gift to combat the rising tide of civil unrest sweeping Sulm’s conquered dominions. Within a day, Sulm had fallen. Shattados’ gift had come with a terrible curse that transformed his subjects into hideously deformed creatures sharing the characteristics of scorpions and humans.
The Crown’s fell curse initiated an agonizing transformation in Sulm’s citizens, who found themselves transforming into hideous “manscorpions,” half-breed wretches magically bound to the wearer of the Scorpion Crown.
Within a decade the grasslands were dead, withered into nothingness by an unnatural heat that yet plagues the region or scoured from the face of Oerth by violent and prolonged storms sweeping in from the Gearnat. The small pockets of vegetation surviving these twin perils were finally buried beneath an insidious, unstoppable tide of sand issuing like a cancer from the cities and holy places of the fallen Sulmites. Soon the curse took hold throughout the area, and what had once been called Sulm became the Bright Desert.
And somewhere, deep within the darkest recesses of the Lower Planes, Tharizdun chuckled softly to himself.