Just when things looked blackest, when it seemed as if the human civilization of the continent was doomed to an eternity of conflict, the first Orgoth longboat arrived on the beach near what is now the city of Caspia.
The Orgoth explorers were representatives of a tightly disciplined military society hailing from somewhere across the Gulf of Cygnar. They were a nation of humans, but they were savage, callous folk with many dark and unsavory customs. Seeing an opportunity for conquest, they immediately launched an invasion and a war of domination. The citizens of the Thousand Cities were taken by surprise, but they fought valiantly – and to no avail. The land eventually fell under Orgoth control, though there were two centuries of scattered bloody resistance before the Thousand Cities were totally subdued.
The Orgoth Empire occupied the land for a total of six hundred years. During this time the invaders contemplated assimilating the elves and dwarves, but the price of attacking these powerful nations was deemed to be too high. The xenophobic and unpredictable elves were left alone, and the dwarves of Rhul became occasional Orgoth trading partners and nothing more.
The Orgoth rule was without incident for four centuries. Inevitably, a rebellion began to take shape, and another two centuries of scattered conflict began. The Orgoth Empire was eventually defeated and driven back across the sea, but during their retreat they took the time to destroy almost all of their records, artifacts and structures – to this day, historians know little about them despite their centuries of occupation. The Orgoth also salted the fields, poisoned wells and put cities to the torch. The Scourge was their final act of barbarism.
There are many strange legends from the last days of the rebellion – tales of dark, mysterious allies that helped to drive away the invaders. Some say that it would have been impossible to defeat the Orgoth without help, and the rebel leaders had to make dangerous deals with infernal powers. If this is true, the Iron Kingdoms have yet to pay off this ancient debt. Considering the poor historical record from this time period, no one has been able to prove anything one way or the other. Only time will tell if the legends have substance.
With the Orgoth driven away, some opportunists tried to take advantage of the situation, and small conflicts began to break out just as they had in the old days of the Thousand Cities. The leaders of the rebellion had other plans, though, and the budding warlords were put down quickly and brutally. While the rebel armies kept the peace, their leaders convened in Corvis. Though the city still smoldered from the Scourge, it was the best meeting place in the realm – centrally located and easy to travel to. Within the cold marble chambers of Corvis City Hall, the rebel leaders held the Council of Ten. Weeks of furious debate followed, but when it was all over the famous Corvis Treaties had been drafted, and the Iron Kingdoms were born.
Strictly speaking, the term "Iron Kingdoms" refers to the lands of men; those kingdoms which signed the Corvis Treaties after the rebellion against the Orgoth. There are five official kingdoms in total: Cygnar, Khador, Llael, Ord and the Protectorate of Menoth. In the frigid north, near the Glass Peaks, the dwarven kingdom of Rhul is found. To the northeast lies the mysterious homeland of the elves, Ios. In practice, the nearby elven and dwarven nations are often included when men speak of the "Iron Kingdoms," (a fact which annoys elvenkind to no end) and these realms will be fully detailed along with their human neighbors. The last kingdom informally included when speaking of the "Iron Kingdoms" is the hostile island nation of Cryx, ruled over by the dragon Lord Toruk. All these nations – and others yet to be discovered – share the continent of Immoren.
Aye, anyone can read the Corvis Treaties for themselves'
but the most important deals were never set down on
paper. The Iron Kingdoms were born of bloodshed and
dark dealings, and so shall they fall.
– Torven Wadock