Long ago, the Valyrian Freehold did not find dragons within the volcanoes that stretched across their peninsula. Instead, one man found an old woman who gave him a gift of knowledge: the knowledge to create machines. Using this knowledge, the small Valyrian tribes formed the Valyrian Freehold based around new technologies such as gunpowder and steam, with weapons that fit. They soon conquered the Ghiscari Empire, who still relied on swords and shields. Their victories were swift, and soon almost all of the continent of Essos was under their sway. However, the Valyrians kept most of their technology a secret, letting little of it ever leave Valyria went not at war, and so much of the world remained medieval in technological level.