This document was prepared at the request of the Minister of Historical Research during the Winter Solstice 380YE. The text was compiled by the Suaq scholar Laurie Jokiranta, an opinionated civil servant who traditionally spends her winters in Kalpaheim and the rest of the year scouring the northern Empire with her Senate mandated entourage.
Early Suaq History
Recording history has never been a great priority for the Suaq. They hand their stories down from one generation to another, but actual written records of the time before the Empire are few and far between – and documents pre-dating the coming of the Steinr are almost non-existent.
Some work has been done on the origins of the Suaq, and their pre-Wintermark history, but it is an area of scholarship where there are still a great many unanswered questions. As detailed in the document “People of the North”, compiled from the work of Heléne de Coyne, the Suaq and the Kallavesi both were in the north-west of what is now the Empire since long before the rise of Terunael. Many sources list them as contemporaries of the forerunners of the Navarr, and perhaps alongside the Feni, the Urizen, the Axou, and other people whose names have been forgotten long since.
The Folk of Sermersuaq
The stories suggest that the ancient Suaq lived lives very similar to those of their distant descendants alive today – as clever hunters, and cunning artisans who roamed the cold plains and ice-floes of Sermersuaq.
Were the first Suaq truly the children of a single woman, so powerful she could balance a kayak on the tips of three fingers and kill a seal just by rapping it on the head? Are the seals they hunt each Spring really their brothers and sisters who chose the form of animals so their siblings would not starve? Was Sermersuaq herself an eternal, whose blood flowed in the veins of the Suaq people and now sings in the hearts of the people of Wintermark? We will probably never know.
An alternative suggestion, which many historians believe, is that the first Suaq and Kallavesi came down out of the north-east with the Ushka, or were part of some forgotten fore-runner tribe that birthed all three peoples. Other theories abound, as is the way of historians. Were they perhaps an offshoot of the Terunael who abandoned the fertile fields and orchards of the central Empire for the cold and privacy of the north? Were they perhaps driven from homes to the west by the Jotun tribes? Or were they forced east by the trolls, who some historians claim created the Jotun to punish the Suaq and drive them from the rich lands in the west? There are many theories but few solid facts to recount.
There are a few certainties however – the Suaq are always mentioned in the same breath as the Kallavesi. That the two were contemporaries is without doubt – while one people lived in the northern plains, the other lived in the marshes. They were sometimes allies, sometimes cooly distant acquaintances, and sometimes enemies who fought bitter wars with one another.
They certainly had some contact with the Terunael, although the nature of that contact appears to have been more distant. There is talk of trade, and of occasional altercations, but the hills and mountains meant that even the rulers of Hacynian – the city that stood where Hercynia is today – did not make war on them. Some of these tales raise questions about the belief that the trolls always were at war with the Suaq and the Kallavesi. While it is possible that the Suaq made the long trek south through Kallavesa to treat with the people of Hacynian there are a very few fragments that suggest a road once ran through Hahnmark to Skarsind and down to the Terunael city that was “rich with metal and flesh.” If this were true, then either the stories that the trolls always ruled Hahnmark and constantly made war with the Suaq are untrue, or the situation is more complicated than it first appears.
Indeed, a few sources claim that parts of modern-day Hahnmark – Bruckland and Kronemark in particular – were regularly contested between the Suaq and the Kallavesi. These same tales concur that the rest of that rugged territory “belonged to the trollfolk” there is no talk of the trolls being involved in this struggle over lowland territory.
Still, the fact of the trollwar is uncontested. At some point relations between Suaq and Kallavesi, and with the trollfolk of the mountains and hills, soured and turned to outright bloodshed. While ancient sagas place a brave face on it, it is clear even from poems and songs that the hunters and the mystics, even fighting together, were outmatched by the trolls. They were driven from the places the trolls claimed for themselves and pushed south and west out of their traditional hunting grounds by the ire of the mountain folk.
These initial conflicts were only a shadow of the war to come, the great Troll Wars that lead to the foundation of Wintermark, but it was into the early rumblings of this war that Apaay Ukuking was born.
Apaay Ukuking, Chief of Chiefs
This semi-legendary figure was the leader of the Suaq in the time immediately preceding the coming of the Steinr and the troll war. Most of what we know about her comes from a book called “Tobban’s Annuls: A collection of stories of the people of the ice” written in 24YE,
Apaay Ukiuking is described as the chief-of-chiefs of the Suaq. This title has long since been abandoned, forgotten since the creation of the Winterfolk. She was a hunter who was said to have great prowess in finding and slaughtering great beasts – whales, mammoths, and dire creatures of the north both to feed her people and to protect them. All accounts agree that while she was a leader, she was a woman of simple tastes who loved nothing more than to spend long nights singing and talking with her people.
She is described as being short for her people, with long dark hair, a face “shaped by wind, rain, and sun” and the body of a warrior rather than a ranger. As with all the chief-of-chiefs she wore a bronze medallion around her neck as her symbol of office, handed down generation to generation from the first elders of the Suaq, which appears several times in the stories from before the coming of the Steinr and never again afterward.
According to Toban's Annuls, Apaay lead the Suaq during a time of conflict and change when the skeins of many twisted and found new paths. The trolls were pressing the people of Sermersuaq from their fastness in the Silver Peaks and from their fancifully named “Citadel of Ancient Ice” and each year the hunting along the ice floes became more perilous,
At the same time, old conflicts with the Kallavesi in the marshes to the south long since believed resolved had ignited again. The two people contended against each other, quarrelling over land and old grudges, while the trolls tightened their iron noose around the human folk of the north.
Meeting at great risk with the elders of Rundhal, Apaay Ukiking forged a treaty, sworn in “blood and ice”, that stopped the conflict and helped the two people focus their attention on the real enemy – the troll folk of the mountains.
According to Tobban the stories also claim that Apaay Ukiuking was the first of the Suaq to greet the Steinr when they first came across the mountains into Hahnmark, and her wisdom and careful words helped to ensure that first meeting between the three peoples ended in peace and common cause rather than the shedding of blood.
Her clever counsel helped the new-forged alliance remain strong in its earliest days. A great reservoir of calm lay in her heart, and when the anger of the Steinr or the suspicion of the Kallevesi became too strong, she would soothe the storm with common sense and practical solutions.
Apaay did not live to see the formation of Wintermark; she was slain at the start of the troll wars. According to Tobban, she sought a peaceful meeting with an ancient troll to find a path that would end the war early. Killed by treachery, she was succeeded by Ulmo Appaysson who would in time be crowned the first king of Wintermark.
Apaay Ukiuking and the Finfolk
Apaay Ukiuking is also mentioned in regard to creatures called the Finfolk. The Finfolk are mentioned in Tobban’s Annuls as a “mysterious people of the merrow blood who live in caves deep in the waters of Summersuaq”.
Often confused in stories with the Hyljie, the Finfolk were seemingly masters of magic who lived along the shores of the lakes, allied with but distinct from the Suaq. They were apparently skilled in magic, and over time shared their understanding with their Suaq allies; in return the Suaq shared their great skill at hunting bringing meat to a people who otherwise would feast only upon fish.
While they were friends to the Suaq, the Finfolk had no love for the Hyljie, nor people of other lands - including the Kallevesi. When the Steinr came, and the troll war was beginning, stories say that the leaders of the Finfolk approached Apaay and asked her not to ally with the other nations of the Winterfolk. They urged Apaay to think of the safety of her people alone, and leave the crazed Kallavesi and the uncouth Steinr to be destroyed by the trolls. Through magic and cunning, the Suaq would hide from the trolls and be safe.
Indeed, said the Finfolk, when the war is at its most terrible and everything rests on the knife edge of chance and fate, the Suaq should strike against the other two people and cast them down, and claim their lands and their secrets for themselves. The trolls would surely see the Suaq – and their Finfolk allies – as friends and an accord could be reached that left the trolls in the mountains and the One People to command the plains and the marshes as it had been in the time before.
The conversation is said to have been long but wise Apaay knew that a war with these nations could destroy their nation, even with the magics and strength of the Finfolk. Where others might have feared that the Kallavesi and the Steinr would prevail against their people, Apaay knew better – if the hunters of her people struck against the other two with cunning, without warning, and with the magic of the Finfolk, they would surely prevail. What she realised, though, was that despite their victory they would cease to be the Suaq and would become something else, something bitter and cold, like the Finfolk.
So Apaay refused the Finfolk, and they were filled with anger, and struck against the Suaq people. The Finfolk had dominion against all those who had ever drowned in the waters of Sermersuaq, be they fresh or salt, and called them up to fight against the Suaq and to protect the sunken temples where they kept their hidden lore. Yet they were full of hubris; the dead were terrible but they fell before the spears and arrows of the Suaq. The magic of the Finfolk was mighty, but it was nothing before that of the Icewalkers – who had learned much from the lake dwellers but had much lore of their own as well. The Finfolk were bitter, but their numbers could not match those of the Suaq. Even with the troll war brewing, even though trouble with the Kallavesi beat at their doors, the Suaq met the Finfolk wrath and blunted it, and turned it back.
In the end a peace was sworn between the two people. The Finfolk would not stand beside the Suaq any more as their allies; that day had ended. They would diminish, and return to their temples, and let the foolishness of the Suaq destroy them when the day came inevitably that the Crowborn and the Starborn turned on the Sealborn. In return Apaay swore oaths that no others would ever get hold of the secrets of the Finfolk, and they would be safe to live out their bitter lives in their sunken temples, until such time that the merrow of the deep lakes were ready to live among the people of the sun and the wind again.
Tobban tells that the Finfolk listened to Appay’s words but took many of their scrolls with them, casting rituals to curse what they left behind so any who took them would drown in their sleep.
I see no merit in continuing to dredge through fragments of deerhide scrolls pondering the doings of chiefs and thanes long since reborn. What fires my imagination though are the trolls, and the mystery they present. There is no good modern study of them anywhere, just scraps of tales taken as truth. They were the anvil on which our nation was forged, and their legacy is all around us and threatens to intrude into our lives today.
The Thule have not been shy about expressing their interest in the trolls, and the ruins and tools they left behind – and it may well be that they remember more than we do about the trollfolk. I worry that this puts us at a disadvantage.
Either way, I think this is rich quarry to be hunted, although I do not think it will be a short hunt. Say the word though, and I will round up some companions and we will start to seek out the truth of the trolls, and the Troll Wars. It will not be quick, but the soft-stepped hunter claims the finest buck.