Threads of Invasion
The Shadow Marches
Commonly, the region known as the Shadow Marches conjures images of a fetid backwater where illiterate humans mingle with orcs and other foul creatures, and practice strange rites by the light of the moons. These images are accurate―to a point. A desolate land of swamps and moors, the Shadow Marches have been orc territory for more than thirty thousand years. The region has suffered through a terrible war against the daelkyr that scarred the land, stranded horrible creatures in the shadows, and divided the orc tribes. The daelkyr were eventually defeated, but the schisms caused by the war remain.
Approximately fifteen hundred years ago, humans landed on the western shore of the Shadow Marches. These refugees fled Sarlona to escape the growing power of the Inspired and collided with the orcs. Despite periods of racial violence, over the millennia humans and orcs have formed close ties. Today, humans and orcs live alongside each other, in savage tribes and civilized communities. Orcs make up more than half the population of the Marches. Humans, half-orcs. and members of other races also dwell here. The Shadow Marches feature two distinct cultures―the orc tribes thm settled these lands. and the clans formed by later human immigrants.
The Shadow Marches are not a recognized nation. Rather, the Marches are an independent territory whose established relationships with its neighbors and the outside world comes largely from the presence of House Tharashk. The folk of the Shadow Marches have a reputation for xenophobia. and outsiders are rarely welcomed here.
Set behind the monster-filled wilderness of Droaam, the isolated Shadow Marches missed most of the events that occurred in central Khorvaire. The rise of the Kingdom of Galifar went unnoticed by the clans of the Marches, as did many of the defining moments in the kingdom’s history. The Shadow Marches might have remained isolated to the present day if not for a House Sivis fact-finding expedition that discovered Eberron dragonshard deposits in the region five hundred years ago. The gnomes of House Sivis planned to extract the dragonshards, but the Marches clans had no intention of allowing outsiders to strip their land. The encounter brought another resource to light, however. The orcs of the Shadow Marches had developed the Mark of Finding, and over the generations the mark had been spread across a number of clans. The encounter with House Sivis spurred the marked clans to action.
Over the next few years, these clans joined together to form House Tharashk, developed the powers of the mark, and used it to locate the major dragonshard deposits in their realm. In time, this new house established the port of Zarash’ak as a point of contact with the outside world and was eventually recognized by the other dragonmarked houses as a legitimate member of their elite fellowship.
Over the past three centuries House Tharashk has grown in size and influence; Tharashk prospectors, inquisitives, and bounty hunters can be found across Khorvaire. While House Tharashk has emerged into the light, however, the Shadow Marches as a whole remain one of the dark places of Khorvaire―a mysterious region hiding ancient secrets and deadly creatures.