Transcript of Reldo's ages seventeenth edition
This is the 17th edition of Reldo's Ages. Reldo is a consummate scholar and his work in this area has helped bring the pure light of clarity to history across the kingdoms. This new edition has been updated with newly uncovered information from Varrock's expedition to Anachronia, something with which I was graciously permitted to assist.
-Charos, Enchanter & Gentleman, 189 V
Gielinor is a world with a long and textured history. Over thousands of years there have been many civilisations with many different calendars, and we lack an organised and consistent way of expressing dates. This volume proposes a system I call 'The Ages' which organises history into coherent periods, and dates them according to the most dominant calendar systems of that period.
Recent archaeological discoveries, especially on the island of Anachronia, have revealed previously untold millennia of history before what I once erroneously referred to as 'The First Age'. As the numbered system of ages has now been widely adopted by human and inhuman scholars across the world, I am reluctant to change it. I will therefore refer to these early periods as "Times". History consists of eight distinct periods - three times and five ages.
Each period is dated to an epoch, which is the moment that marks the beginning of that period. Where possible, I have dated the epoch using the dominant calendar of the period. For example the Second Age was dominated by the Zarosian Empire, whose calendar date of 0 corresponds to the arrival of Zaros on Gielinor. Dates in the Second Age are thus relative to that epoch - year 20 of the Second Age is also year 20 of the Zarosian calendar, 20 years after his arrival. In cases where the calendar's purported epoch is inaccurate (which is most often the case) I have nevertheless remained consistent with the calendar dating for ease of comprehension of antiquated documents.
Using the Calendar
Dates should be written with respect to a particular age - if no age is specified, it should be assumed to be the Fifth Age. To specify a specific age in long form, one can simply write '800, Second Age' or '800 of the Second Age'. In short form, one should append the appropriate ancient numeral: thus 800, Second Age would be rendered 800 II. It is possible to express the same date with reference to any age - for example, 2 V is the same year as 2084 IV.[sic]
Care should be taken when examining historical documents to understand the calendar of the author. For example, Guthixian writings are typically dated to the beginning of the Fourth Age, but do not use my nomenclature as it did not exist at the time. Thus a Guthixian date of 1300 should be interpreted as 1300 IV.
The Time of the Elder Gods (Primordial Period)
Epoch date in V: Unknown
Gielinor's history begins with its creation by the Elder Gods. Little is known about this period, most of it gleaned from legends of the elves and Guthixians. We know that the elder gods created the planet, laid their eggs upon it, discarded their artefacts across its surface, and then went to sleep. We do not know exactly how long ago this happened, and we do not know how long the process took.
After the elder gods slept, plant and animal life flourished on the planet, but there were no sentient or sapient creatures. According to the goddess Seren, plants and animals generate aether, which contribute to the 'runescape', the energy field of anima that surrounds our world and supposedly serves to nourish the elder god eggs.
The fabled TokHaar (a creation of the elder gods) may have a calendar that dates to this period, but I have been unable to peacefully contact them in order to obtain information about it.
The Time of the Dragonkin (Orthenic Period)
Length: approx 500 years
Epoch date in V: approx - 60,000
At some point, long after the creation of Gielinor but long before the First Age, the dragonkin emerged from hibernation in the abyss and made their way to Gielinor. This reptilian species had survived the destruction of their universe and the creation of ours by hiding, and now sought out the most habitable planet, which happened to be Gielinor. There they established a city, which we know to have been called Orthen, and inadvertently awoke the sleeping Elder God Jas. Jas enslaved the dragonkin and destroyed their cities, effectively erasing dragonkin civilisation. Most of the dragonkin left Anachronia, and seem to have entered hibernation once again.
We know that the dragonkin calendar counted dates from the construction of Orthen. Based on astronomical observations recovered from its ruins, I believe this to be approximately 60,000 years before the present, but after the enslavement they ceased keeping accurate dates for protracted periods and this may be impossible to accurately verify.
The Time of Colossi (Colossal Period)
Length: approx 48,000 years
Epoch date in V: approx - 60,000
After the dragonkin disappeared from the surface, thousands of years passed. We know little about this period, but I have deduced that powerful disturbances in the runescape called nexuses caused some animals to spontaneously ascend into godlike beings. These unintelligent colossi strode the landscape for thousands of years, battling each other for dominance.
We currently have no evidence of active civilisations existing during this period. I cannot believe, however, that between the dragonkin and Guthix no one from a universe teeming with life and, seemingly, intraplanar transport, could discover such a prize of a planet. I suspect the evidence of interim discovery is out there, waiting to be uncovered.
The First Age (Mythic Period)
Calendar: Old Guthixian
Length: 3,427 years
Epoch date in V: -11,856
The First Age is the beginning of formally recorded history on Gielinor. It began with the arrival of Guthix, a storied being and the first of the young gods to place a foot on this garden of worlds. Guthix brought peoples from many other worlds to live with him, in an attempt to create a utopian society free from need or tyranny. Eventually Guthix tired of life and set himself into a slumber, leaving his people in the paradise he had made them.
Such was not to last, as more gods soon arrived. So too some of the colossi, still alive, had developed intelligence and took on worshippers much as the gods did. The Guthixians, always eager to worship despite their teachings, eagerly took to this. Soon the land was occupied by competing god-kings, who battled for territory and took each others' worshippers as slaves and sacrifices.
The calendar of this period is the original Guthixian calendar used by the civilisation he founded. The ostensible start date is the day Guthix arrived on the planet, but this actually occurred 17 years earlier. No one from this civilisation still survives, and this calendar has fallen into disuse. Nevertheless I have preserved their starting date for this period.
The Second Age (Ancient Period)
Length: 1,780 years
Epoch date in V: -8,429
The First Age ended without a cataclysmic event. It would be decades or centuries before the impact of this event was truly felt - the god Zaros arrived, killing the colossus Loarnab and setting the stage for his own empire - the largest that would ever stand on our world. Zaros expanded gradually and carefully, absorbing, converting or killing neighbouring powers. Zaros brought with him many creatures from the so-called 'lower planes': demons, vampyres and worse things.
From its origin in the village of Senntisten the empire expanded out continually until it occupied some seven-tenths of the mainland, seriously hampered only by elves in the west and Menaphites in the south. Another race, the Mahjarrat, were brought to Gielinor by the Menaphites but joined the Zarosian cause instead. Ultimately nothing could threaten the empire - except itself.
The calendar of this period is that of the Zarosian empire. During the second age, year zero changed several times as the church tried to better estimate the exact day on which Zaros originally invaded Senntisten. I believe the final value to be correct. The handful of surviving Zarosians I have encountered no longer use this calendar, having found it more convenient to use the dominant local calendar.
The Third Age (Wartime Period)
Length: 4508 years
Epoch date in V: -6,649
The Third Age began with the death of Zaros at the hands of his own general, the Mahjarrat Zamorak. Soon after, Zamorak invaded with a huge army of demons. This initially led to a civil war within the Zarosian empire, with the loyalist faction led by Azzanadra, Zaros's high priest. Eventually the civil war weakened the empire sufficiently that neighbouring gods such as Saradomin, Armadyl and Bandos took advantage of the anarchy to claim or reclaim territory.
This was a period of terrible warfare and suffering. While the Second Age had involved conflict, for the most part the expansion of the empire was so one-sided that there was little opportunity for wars to escalate. In the Third Age the forces were far more equally matched, and wars could rage for decades or even centuries, building unimaginable death tolls. All of the cultures underwent dramatic transformations, but by the end of the period Saradomin was ascendant. Zamorak had been pushed back into the province of Forinthry and there used an artefact known as the Stone of Jas to destroy his enemies, wiping out almost all living things in the province as he did so.
This apocalyptic event woke Guthix from his eight thousand year slumber, who then looked upon the utter carnage wrought on Gielinor and its people and was horrified. He worked a great magic, the Edict - likely the most powerful spell ever cast - to eject all gods from the planet and prevent them re-entering. This done, he returned to sleep, having no wish to fill the consequent power vacuum.
A curiosity of the Third Age is that we know a great deal from historical texts, archaeological evidence and even eyewitness testimony of a few extraordinarily long-lived beings about the events surrounding the start of the period and those around the end of the period. What we lack is almost any information about the events in between - four thousand years is a long time, and many now unheard of empires could have risen and fallen over such a duration. The gods would know, but they are silent on the subject.
The calendar of this period is the Zamorakian calendar. However, there are actually two disputed dates for the calendar's epoch, and Zamorakians are roughly divided half and half in which they use. The first system is based on the day Zamorak slew Zaros and ascended to godhood, while the second is based on the day he returned to Gielinor seventeen years later with an army of demons and began the God Wars. I have chosen the first of these two systems as the epoch on which to anchor the Third Age. Surviving Zamorakian Mahjarrat still use this calendar (with their choice of the epochs) and I believe the first system is the dominant calendar on the infernal planes from which demons emerge. Modern human worshippers of Zamorak tend not to use this calendar, instead using the local calendar.
The Fourth Age (Barbaric Period)
Calendar: Modern Guthixian
Length: 1952 years
Epoch date in V: -2,141
The Fourth Age begins with the absence of the gods. Towards the end of the Third Age, a largely Saradominist culture was dominant on the mainland, but Guthix's intervention turned many to his worship. As the Fourth Age dawned, however, the absence of leadership from either god left the humans in disarray. Bandosian races like orks and goblins, also leaderless, rampaged across the world, burning cities they had previously shared with their human allies, and driving the humans into a nomadic, tribal existence.
Over the course of the Fourth Age these human groups survived and fought back against the Bandosians. The humans discovered an old Guthixian secret - using runestones to cast magic. With this new technology the Bandosians were scattered and defeated, and the humans triumphed. Though the gods were long gone, their religions persisted, and out of the admixture of different cultures it was the Saradomin-worshippers who again became the majority.
The calendar for this period is the current Guthixian calendar, as still used today by druids, Guardians and his other followers. They label this calendar 'A.G.S.' for 'After Guthix Slept'. Although Guthix's awakening when Forinthry was destroyed is an important date, this calendar's epoch is actually the day when Guthix returned to sleep once more.
The Fifth Age (Royal Period)
Length: 189 years (ongoing)
Epoch date in V: 0
With the dominance of humanity, the Fifth Age was marked by the establishment of two kingdoms - Asgarnia and Kandarin. No longer nomadic barbarians, the humans settled and began to re-establish culture and a stable society. Around the same time, human wizards discovered a way to manufacture their own runestones, ensuring continuing human supremacy. A culture of fanatical Guthixians objected to this on grounds of heresy and invaded, causing no real damage, while a surviving cult of Zamorakians destroyed a notable enclave of wizards, putting an end to the creation of new runestones.
The calendar for this period is the Asgarnian calendar, which is also used by Kandarin and Misthalin. The epoch for this calendar is the supposed founding date of the city of Falador, but this date is inaccurate and in fact fabricated. Early Asgarnian history was dominated by two knightly orders - the white and black knights. The white knights quickly established political influence in the new kingdom and, amongst other things, set a formal date of the city's founding eight years prior to it actually happening. This 'official' founding date was therefore four years prior to, rather than four years after, the creation of the black knights. It is therefore factually accurate to say that Asgarnia was founded in 8 V, but also that the epoch of 0 V is the founding of Asgarnia.
The Sixth Age
Particularly observant scholars may have noticed the absence of any reference in this document to the purported 'Sixth Age'. This references a singular event in the history of our world - the death of Guthix, around whose actions so many of the periods have focused. In my opinion, this event is easily as significant as the epochs that marked the First to Fourth Ages, and a small number of devotees of the Mahjarrat Sliske, who maintain a sort of religion around their missing master, have created their own calendar with which to date their sparse writings. However, there has been no widespread acceptance of this new dating method.
In two or more thousand years hence, when some handsome fellow is compiling history with the benefit of hindsight, I am confident that the death of Guthix, which brought about the return of the gods to Gielinor, will loom larger than the comparatively minor events which mark the current Fifth Age. For now, however, I cannot in good conscience formally label it an 'age' when the preceding period would have been a mere 182 years in length.