>> In the Storm Age, numerous cultures with originally flying boats got grounded in the region, so you could make this a Helering or Artmali crash landing spot.
> The major trouble with Umathela is the disconnect between what we know about it at the Dawn (Lascerdans, Elves) and what we know about it in the Storm Age (Vadeli Kingdom). The dots don't join up.
That's assuming that the Vadeli had more than a presence in the civilized spots. Looking at the vast extent of the Vadeli Empire, they must either have been extremely populous (whether by themselves or by a slave population) or rather lax about control over their backwaters.
Much of the southwest was a Mostali-created industrial wasteland for a time: http://moondesignpublications.com//new/mythmapwestern4.html
This would mean that Slon, Porlaso and Umathela all would have experienced at least severely hostile conditions for any non-Mostali life, and everything following thereafter would have been in the character of a resettlement - though I tend to think of Umathela at the Dawn as covered by century-old forest. The resettlement would have to fit between the breaking of the Spike and the Greater Darkness.
There is also the possibility that Arachne Solara's Web recovered certain shards of land from elsewhere and moved them here.
> My best theory about the elves so far is that Umathela was settled in the Dawn Age by elves from Fonrit against a background of ecological violence between the yellows, greens and browns.
I think that the Westerners are used to Aldryami presence in those parts of the woods they never enter, and mostly leave those regions as white spaces on their maps or geographical awareness. There are (or were) Aldryami on Brithos, too.
The Storm Age surely will have had huge events that may have cleared vast patches of forest as collateral damage, leaving some space for human activities.
> The Lascerdans are trickier.
I agree. As river inhabitants, they are prone to come into contact with whoever settles the coasts (and already has boats to explore upriver).
> About the best I can think of is as settlers from Porlaso.
Settlers in "let's take this opportunity" or refugees?
That would mean they had prior experience of coexistence with red elves.
I could see them as refugees from the desertifying of Tarien, which would bring them into closer proximity with other pelm-re candidates.
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