Ebb & Flow of the Northeast Fiefs
1531-1587 The Western Thearth Wars
The main characteristic of the history of Thearth, Devnah and Roane during this period could be summarized in feudal wars. Peace from the Ûr Lords only meant that the nobles of the northeast were free to wage war against each other. In the sixteenth century, the area of the most brutal wars was Thearth.
Thearth had no single ruler so laws changed from town to town throughout the region. When nobles from towns were angry with each other, merchant trains were often heavily taxed or seized. There was rarely a time, when one town in Thearth treated citizens from another in the same manner as their own. In particular, the nobles of Karitash earned a reputation as willing to punish almost anyone who they did not recognize. Merchants who traveled to the vale between the Heddwich and Halen Hills often spent weeks making sure they would be relatively welcome in Karitash before traveling there. In 1531, an incident against a merchant train from Sharn Korg opened the northern hills and valleys to open war. Lord Trienon had great holdings in a spice and rug dealers from Devnah who supplied the northern towns with these luxuries of which the area was devoid. On a whim of fancy, Lord Grundigen of Karitash seized a merchant train which included the majority of Lord Trienon’s traveling wares, even though the trading papers of the train were quite up to date. Lord Trienon was enraged and immediately sent a small detachment to Karitash to demand the return of the wares. Lord Foyerhand, who was in charge of Karitash perimeter security at the time found that the detachment was lacking the necessary papers, and attacked the detachment forthwith. One of the detachments escaped while the others were either imprisoned or killed. Lord Trienon had had enough, and began to muster troops and plead with the other lords of Sharn Korg to teach the uneducated hill folk of Karitash a lesson. So by the middle of 1531, the lords of Sharn Korg agreed to join in and wage a full siege and assault of Karitash, not only for vengeful, but also for punitive aims.
At the outskirts of Karitash, the lords of Sharn Korg met opposition and a brutal fight ensued. In previous years, the lords would probably have retreated when their losses amounted to the majority of their forces, but Lord Trienon was steadfast in his aims, and pushed on. The losses mounted on both sides, but the battle lingered on. After a few weeks, supplies were needed by the Sharn Korg nobles, and so the ravaging of the countryside commenced in order to forage. This devastation was an insult to the Karitash lords, and they took their case to the lords of nearby Fryhain. The Fryhain nobles were never very amenable to the Karitash lords, but the policy of property devastation was a break in traditions of war that had been practiced between Thearth nobles for centuries. As winter set in, Fryhain began to send their nobles into the upper valleys around Karitash to stem the onslaught and siege of the Sharn Korg nobles.
The conflict around Karitash became more like guerilla operations in the winter. Whenever relatively unprotected merchant or supply trains came into the valley, bandit clans aligned with or hired by the Fryhain nobles would attack. As the harsh winter progressed, there was little the Sharn Korg nobles could do other than to leave the valley and return in the spring. Throughout their exodus, the nobles were badgered and sabotaged by bandits and infiltrators until they had left the Heddwich Hills and were well within the Thearth Plain.
This retreat from the hills bore heavily upon the minds of the Sharn Korg nobility. When spring reasserted itself and the plains nobles had regrouped and prepared, they would return to the western hills to teach the Karitash and Fryhain provincials a lesson.
From this one bitter winter and retreat, the war would continue for another fifty years until all of the nobles who had partaken in the first siege of Karitash were dead. Every spring, the Sharn Korg nobles built up their forces and returned to the Heddwich Hills to assault the cities of Karitash and Fryhain, ravage the countryside and decimate the population. From time to time, the Sharn Korg nobles were successful in their sieges. In 1534, 1547, 1548, 1549, 1558, 1565, 1566, 1577, and 1580, the gates of Karitash were blown open and the city sacked. In 1538, 1539, 1550, 1551, and 1574, the western city of was breached. After the sacking, the Sharn Korg nobles would continue their ravaging for a month or so, but then would return to the Thearth Plains, always peppered by the bandits and infiltrators on their way home. For the Fryhain and Karitash nobles, having their cities’ walls breached was almost better than being sieged into the harvest season because at least there would be a month or two of peace before winter.
In 1560, the western nobles attempted to end the wars by launching an early spring attack into the Thearth Plains. The plains were ravaged and the Sharn Korg nobles immediately formed an army to slaughter the exposed forces of the mountain nobles. Although, Sharn Korg would suffer greatly from a reduced harvest, the Battle of Halen Pond wiped out half of the Fryhain and Karitash nobility in one fell swoop. However, the devastation of the plains did keep the Sharn Korg nobles from launching much of an attack into the hills that year. From 1561 onward, the Fryhain and Karitash nobles would send a portion of their force as well as hire bandits to ravage the Thearth Plain once the Sharn Korg nobles began their trek westward.
Year after year, the land in both the hills and the plains grew more fallow, and year after year, the entire area became more and more depopulated. The continuous destructive nature of the war sent free people, serfs and slaves running from the area until it became extraordinarily difficult to wage any sort of war at all. When 1587 rolled around, an extremely old Lord Trienon remained as the only living noble who had partaken in every year of the wars. However, before the spring muster of the raiding army took place, Lord Trienon died and his son took command. Almost immediately, an envoy was sent to Fryhain and Karitash to end the war. The official report was that Lord Trienon died from exhaustion, attempting to put on his armor one last time, but the rumor is that his son stabbed him repeatedly when he wouldn’t listen to reason. The “young” Lord Trienon (age 54) had wanted to return to focusing on building the trade center to the west that Sharn Korg had been and that his father’s ancient vengeance stood in his way.
1604 The Visitation of Lovaxa and the Wars of the Northern Coast
The warlike nature of the fiefs and cities of Balmorien has been present since people settled in the hills and valleys of that region. The culture and worship has always centered on strife and competition, though not always on the complete destruction of the vanquished. However, in 1604, the desire to punitively damage the weak grew to a head with the arrival of the goddess Lovaxa.
Lovaxa is the Mistress of Torture, the Queen of Domination and Lady of Sadism. She had been worshipped as one of the lesser deities in many of the fiefs throughout Thearth, Roane and Devnah, but never as a patron. Her arrival along the northern coast of the lifted her worship to new heights and the area to new levels of terror.
The arch mage and priest of Thakune in Harnak, Gazad Madka, had long dominated politics and competitors in the area around Harnak. If someone arose as a potential competitor, they would be notified in an unpleasant manner that they should seek another path. If someone showed such promise that they could exceed the power of Gazad, they would find themselves dead or imprisoned. Gazad was a grand ritual master and often brought in other planar beasts and minions to take care of his business. In attempting to take care of a merchant who had been selling Gazad components and much too inflated a price, Gazad created a ritual that opened a series of gates through plane after plane. Being curious, Gazad reached through the gates and brought out whatever he could muster. Well, Lovaxa was at hand during this experiment and allowed herself to be brought out by this sadist, much to Gazad’s surprise. Immediately, Gazad was bound and tortured much to Lovaxa’s (and all of Gazad’s adversaries’) glee.
For the next few days, Lovaxa continued the torture of Gazad, gleaning any information about the politics and social structure of Harnak and the surrounding towns, fiefs and countryside. She was quite pleased with the competitive and warlike nature of Roane, Thearth and Devnah, but thought they were lacking in their retribution of those who dared to compete when they had no right to do so. Lovaxa descended from Gazad’s tower in Harnak and began to review the populace in a somewhat subdued manner. Although she appeared as a black leather-clad harlot, anyone who commented on her appearance in any sort of demeaning way immediately began to wretch in wracks of never-ending pain. Those who could remain conscious and pleaded for mercy received even greater pain. Those who could remain conscious and recognized her as a goddess and worshipped her, had a portion of their pain lessened. One of the first people to fall into this category was the young Lord Haggor Balok.
Lord Balok was a lesser lord of the court of Harnak, without any lands outside of the town, yet he had proven himself in battle countless times in raids against the surrounding towns. He was ruthless with his enemies in any theatre, and treated those subservient to himself with great disdain. He had been a worshipper of Thakune, but he had been familiar to some extent with Lovaxa and upon receiving her blessed pain, he realized that he had a chance to rise up beyond his current standing. Though he suffered agonizing pain from his meeting with Lovaxa, he rose up to follow her as she reviewed the on goings of the population of Harnak.
Balok began a series of raids on the small villages outside of Poznot and across the Roane Plain towards Aachnarn. The captives that he acquired were brought back to Harnak and tortured until Lovaxa became aware of their screams and pain. To that end, Balok began torturing, mutilating and killing the young of the captives before the eyes of their parents. Although Lovaxa was noticeably impressed by the agony of this practice, she did feel that the young were being killed too quickly and for that, she ate off the legs of Balok, albeit while commending him on his attempt to impress. She then instructed Balok to amuse her further within one week’s time lest she eat his arms as well.
Balok immediately began seeking children from villages along the coast of the Bywydeg and the eastern Bryan. As he went from village to village, his raiders would remove the arms of most of the children while taking a select few to nail to trees along the main road. These atrocities were enacted while bearing the banner of a rival lord to strike animosity between the rival baronies. It did not take long for Dreebak, Poznot and Bryanende to send out troops and seek the destruction of each others’ peasant villages. Lovaxa was reasonably impressed with his quick work and only slashed Balok’s arms with the sweep of her hand. As boons, Balok also received from Lovaxa the knowledge to summon various demons of pain and torture.
This was enough of a boon for Balok to continue the chaos and destruction where he could. He enlisted assassins and sent forth his newly acquired demons to further antagonize the cities and lords of the Roane. Random killings in the towns were accompanied with misinformation about who could be at the cause of the events. Time and time again, the peoples along the river and the Bryan were cast against each other for reasons little more than a whisper.
This general torture of the region continued for months without abating until the land truly began to fall into full out chaos. Now Lovaxa appreciates torture and sadism, but never is aligned with destruction, lest it be destruction of will. If the peoples of the Roane were to be destroyed, she would lose the potential of more sadism to enact. With that in mind, she decided to leave Eirethune and took with her, the servant demons of Balok, just before ending Lord Balok's life with one last bit of pain.
Weeks after the departure of Lovaxa, the blood fury and vengeance of the towns of the Roane subsided. They slowly rebuilt, but it was obvious to Balok and the core of leaders in Harnak that Lovaxa had given them glory and power that the other cities could not yet understand.
1905-2032 Devnah Blood Wars
The lands north of The Bryan to the northeast where mountain rivers tumble into the gulf have long been a land of noble families, willing not just to push back the northern hordes from the steppes, but also to push back over-expansive neighbors should they be encroaching on their lands which they fought hard to establish. Honor, Right and Might could easily be the slogans of the families of Devnah, Thearth and Roane. Great respect for the deities of war, valor and acquisition can be found in any of the towns of Devnah. Together, they can create a formidable force, but in the 20th century of the Second Age, the noble families of Devnah were torn apart.
Since the towns' establishment, Cartain committed to the belief that disputes between citizens in the area would be able to elect to resolve issues through various games of combat known as the Blood Resolve. The determination of whether a Blood Resolve was to the death was dependent on the severity of the grievance or loss. For centuries, this practice was commonplace and well-known in Cartain, and known, though not practiced to the same extent throughout Devnah.
In 1905, a party of lords from Dreebak, lead by Lord Kastog, undertook a hunting expedition in the Haul Hills and Bardd Wood to the northwest of Cartain. Coincidentally, a hunting party of nobles from Rydnak, lead by Lord Androndis, also was investigating the same region. As chance would have it, the parties were out hunting at night and they both were tracking a pack of wolves led by a single black and white dire wolf. The wolves became aware of the hunters and the dire wolf led them to viciously attack Lord Kastog's band. The Dreebak nobles were pressed at first, but quickly turned the tide. As they approached to finish off the dire wolf, a page of Lord Androndis attacked the beast and killed it. Kastog was enraged, complained to Androndis fervently, and then attacked and killed the page. Before much more bloodshed occurred, the chief hunter from the Dreebak party, who was from Cartain, convinced the parties to return to Cartain to settle their differences in the manner of the region.
In determination of the severity of the Blood Resolve, Kastog suggested combat to submission, and Androndis begrudgingly complied after some discussion as to whether a prize dire wolf was of similar value to a page. The battle was decided and the champions of the lords went into the court to execute their Blood Resolve. As the battle commenced, it seemed like the champion of Kastog was heading for victory; yet as the battle progressed, the Kastog champion became noticeably weaker and weaker until he could barely stand. At that point, the Androndis champion decapitated the Kastog champion and ended the fight. The submission conclusion was ignored and a cursory check of the Kastog champion's corpse indicated a strong possibility of poison use. Kastog was enraged, but kept at bay by the Cartain court guards. However, Androndis was exiled from Cartain immediately for potentially disregarding the rules of the Blood Resolve. An investigation would continue to determine whether poison was used as well, but Androndis ignored the Cartain constabulary threats, and lead his entourage out of town, camping in the Bardd Plain.
Later that night, the Cartain constabulary determined that poison had been used in the combat and conveyed the information to the Kastog party. Of course, Kastog was enraged and sought vengeance, but the Cartain constabulary indicated that they would take care of the situation. Their laws were broken and recompense would be exacted; they would seek out the Androndis party.
The constabulary set out and engaged the camp with a small party. The patrol commander sought to take Androndis' champion back to Cartain, but Androndis refused their demands. Androndis further exacerbated the situation by having his champion grab the patrol commander, telling the rest of the patrol to back off. As the parley degenerated, the rest of the constabulary, led by the chief Constable Rodran of Cartain, descended on the Rydnak camp. Androndis and his pages fled the nearly surrounded camp, but the rest of the entourage was detained.
The Androndis champion was brought back to Cartain and was imprisoned for his aberrant disregard for the local law. Meanwhile, neither Androndis nor Kastog was satisfied with that conclusion. Kastog wanted to personally kill that champion and still demanded restitution from Androndis for his repeated disregard of valor and honesty. Kastog returned home to Dreebak, but none would be forgotten.
Kastog fumed his entire way back to Dreebak, sending a rider ahead to prepare his revenge. Kastog was a major trader across the Bryan to the south with Teldor, and was quite familiar with working with the assassin guilds in Yardham, Rinarn and Balkmore. Kastog had his rider disseminate his plans for contacting those guilds and have a member waiting for him on his return. When Kastog met with the assassins, he demanded both the heads of Androndis and Chief Constable Rodran. There was little stopping Kastog, and little stopping the continuous bloodshed that would escalate from these actions. Soon, each of the cities of Devnah would be embroiled in a fight lasting more than a century; some of the feuds were petty while others were fully justified.
After Constable Rodran was assassinated, the constabulary of the Cartain began to roam the Bardd Plain for anyone who could be considered opposing the laws of Cartain. This quickly embroiled hunters, nobles, even farmers and husbandry of Bryanende and Hae Math. Bryanende reacted by supporting more piracy in the Bryan and Bywydeg. Hae Math sent pillaging bands across the Bardd Plain to the south and north, sometimes encountering the Cartain raiders to the south. At one point, Hae Math raiders began to wear the colors of Cartain to deflect blame to the patrols from the south, leading Waldbaden to also throw blame on Cartain as well as Hae Math.
The initial assassination of Androndis immediately caused strife between Rydnak and Dreebak. Lords on both sides aiming to gain from conflict hid behind the words of honor and valor in order to rally support for their causes. The trails through the Berwi Wood would not be safe, changing trade routes and supplies between Thearth and southern Devnah for years.
As contingents from the cities grew thin from attrition, they were quickly replaced by a surge of mercenaries from all over Eirethune. Marauding mercenary bands soon expanded and exacerbated the strife in the region. Year after year, the population suffered through famine, siege and plunder. Peasants, merchants, and even nobles seeking relief from the years of feuding and destruction began to flee the region. Towards the end of the period, even the families of the earliest combatants began to tire. The raiders in the Bardd Plain dispersed first. The population of the region was low to begin with and it wasn't able to recover after a century of warfare. A pact was signed between Waldbaden, Hae Math, Bryanende and Cartain to establish rules of peace and attempt to reopen trade and cooperation. Their peace would stay, although Cartain maintained a ban on any expedition from Dreebak or Rydnak as part of their accord. It would take time for Dreebak and Rydnak to completely cease their belligerence. Finally, after the fortunes of the Kastog and Androndis families had been greatly diminished, those families of nobility finally started to make moves towards reconciliation. Emissaries from the two families met in Hae Math for years, slowly sending more connected people or family members until the current Lords Kastog and Androndis met face to face after 120 years. The meeting concluded with no deaths and the agreement to begin the retreat of mercenary raiding parties in Berwi Wood.
The blood feuds of Devnah resulted in widespread decimation of the population of the region and a resetting of trading families. The danger to all trade had caused many of the merchant families and guilds to leave Devnah all together. Devnah would also suffer from a general mistrust of all of the regions around it, whether it would be related to trade or support. Devnah had been in turmoil and devastated itself for years upon years, not leaving any pact, treaty, negotiation without blemish. The neighboring regions would now watch Devnah's insular behaviors with great scrutiny.
1912-2154 Thearth & Rhorden, Roane & Dag
Once the Devnah Blood Wars began, Thearth and Roane were forced to react in many ways. Both of the northern regions on the frontier of the Ur Lords relied heavily on the merchants in Devnah to obtain goods from the rest of Eirethune. As those trade routes become interdicted, they peoples of the north needed to find new ways of obtaining what they needed or building in alternative ways.
Groad and the Wolf Clan
The towns of Thearth began looking to the west to determine if they could find a way to trade to the west. The clans of Rhorden rule the Misniuil Plains and rarely worked with outsiders unless it involved raiding the Ur Lords or the Frost Giants to the north. Though many had tried, there was little hope to establish a direct trade route from Thearth to Glenhome or the East Dunns. However, the plains were much more navigable than the hills and forests along the east of the Misniuil Plains. Those woods and hills had never been tamed and had always provided a strong barrier between Rhorden and the more feudal cities of Thearth and Devnah.
Fryhain has long been filled with miners and hunters, and Thoga Groad was a half-orc who had experience with both. He had initially worked in the mines, but after years of trading, he found that if he waited to trade his ore until merchants from the south arrived, he would increase his profits greatly. After developing his association with the traders, he found they were also seeking organs and bones of the giant races and were willing to pay great money for them. This inspired Groad to learn how to hunt for the Ettin, Ogre and Stone Giant that dwelled in the northern Heddwich Hills and the hills south of Kazden Dun. Groad had learned to be an experienced hunter in the Heddwich Hills long ago while open prospecting, and knew some fellow hunters who might be willing to help.
Groad ventured into the Heddwich Hills but found that the giant races, though present, were too scarce to be more profitable. An Ettin or Ogre on occasion would not surpass what he could make on general prospecting. After conferring with his band, those who agreed headed out to the north into the Steppes and seek out the giant races in greater number.
Groad was a good hunter, but his knowledge of the steppes and the hills of Akon Kazden Kador was very limited. He did not realize that the numbers of the giant bands could be as large as he witnessed. Nonetheless, they were careful and successful when hunting the Ettins and Stone Giants in the steppes.
On one fateful occasion, Groad had come across a relatively large group of Stone Giants who were hiding among an outcropping of rocks out in the steppes. Groad and his band remained hidden because the Stone Giants outnumbered them, and Groad wondered why the Stone Giants themselves were hiding. Not long after, a small hunting patrol of the Wolf Rider clan of Rhorden approached the outcropping, not aware of the group of giants that awaited them. Groad knew that the Wolf Riders would probably be slaughtered if he didn't do anything, so when the giants began their attack on the clan patrol, Groad responded by attacking the giants as well. The battle was bloody and most of the clan and Groad's band were killed, but they survived.
The remaining Wolf Rider Arban recognized the choice and sacrifice that Groad had made when he committed to helping the riders against the giants. The Arban and his few clansmen built a fire and motioned Groad and his few remaining men to come join it. By the light of the fire, the Arban made a clan cut in his arm and then motioned Groad to come forth. He grabbed Groad's arm and made the same clan cut, touching it to his and then burning both. The next day, the clansmen and hunters took their trophies from the giants and head their own ways.
For years, Groad continued his hunting, prospecting and trading, generating a fair amount of renown and wealth over the years. Then finally the Devnah Blood Wars commenced and trade to the south diminished. Although Groad could live out the thin years if he chose, he was never capable of doing nothing. He listened to the merchants of Fryhain speak of ways to open trade to somewhere south or west. "Could there be safe routes developed to head along the plains of Rhorden or into the boundary hills?" Conversations were brought up on what it would take to clean a route through the plains or to build roads through the hills heading south to the Bryan. "How much time, how many lives would it take?"
Groad assembled a small band of his hunters and traders and decided to head out into plains to the west. He planned to seek out the Wolf Clan and see if there was still any bind, any consideration they could give him for his past relationship.
2158-2274 Golden Autumn Period
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