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  1. The Life of Maela Vuiller Arcas, Haense Born to Darien Frostfire and Althea Frostfire --- Maela Frostfire, the one and only daughter of Darien and Althea Frostfire. Her father, a soldier within the BSK. Her mother, a baker. She grew up within the Kingdom of Haense, during a time of strife. Maela hadn’t known of any other family a majority of her life, the grandparents on both sides having long passed. No cousins, no siblings. Haense had a way of being cruel. She’d awaken within their small abode, tucked away in a corner. Her room, hidden from any inspectors. Maela would exit, stomping off snow as she’d grasp at her mothers hand, making way for the bakery. They’d bake, steam pouring out and warming the humble shop. She’d often been told to keep to herself growing up, and so when the baking finished, the reading began. Varying books of all sorts, sinking into whole new unknown worlds. There’d been times when she’d attempt to talk to another, only to be ignored. She’d only been a commoner, afterall. She’d make friends, those friendships lasting all of a few months before they were gone, slipping away like a snowflake on the wind. It’d been one of those days, she’d may have just hardly turned ten, maybe eleven. Her mittens rubbed together, in an attempt at generating warmth as she’d idle by the tavern, having finished her work alongside her mother for the day and her father still on his shift. Maelas breath frosted out in front of her, smoky as it filtered out, crystal blue eyes taking in the scenery. A young boy, his name lost to time, soon approached, speaking with her. A smile formed, talking easily with her fellow child and soon, he’d introduce her to his friend, Oskar Wick. Maela hadn’t met the young boy again but she’d become fast friends with Oskar. She’d awaken, bake with her mother and slip off to join him in fun escapades about the city, often bringing treats she’d slipped beneath her coat for them to enjoy together later on. Wet, squelching footsteps would sound within the sewers they’d all too often explore. The squeaking of rats as they’d duck into cracks and crevices along the ground, while others watched the duo with beady eyes, always, always watching. Oskar, donned in a fine yet worn coat would always protect Maela. They were like night and day, the two. The boy with dark hair and gray eyes, personality like midnight on a rainy day. The girl with pale hair and blue eyes, personality like sunshine bouncing off a window. Opposites and yet they’d gravitate towards one another. --- Time passed. The duo were thirteen and the Inferi war was taking place. Maelas father, Darien Frostfire, ever the loyal soldier had taken to the battlefield. Only to be felled. He died on the field, hit by a misshot arrow from his own side. It was never known who’d shot the arrow. Whether it be a mistake or purposeful. His body, brought home upon a board and a funeral soon hosted. Grief, it overtook the Frostfires. Now, only a widowed mother and a lost daughter. And yet, life did not let up. Darien Frostfire had secrets, a history unknown by his grieving family and so when the knock came, of Holy Knights at the door, shock came past the grief. They were there for Maela. Althea Frostfire, distraught, sent the Holy Knights away, for they were not to take her only daughter. But things only grew worse. With war, came a time of strife, of pain and wanting. --- A scholarly missive. The duo were now sixteen. Maela visited the home of Oskar Wick once more, with a freshly baked treat, steam wafting off of the dish and offering warmth in the frigid cold. She sat upon the chair, peering up at Oskar with the adoration she often did. Their childhood friendship turned to more as she found herself growing to love him, hoping that he may marry her someday. He took his hand in hers, taking her in with a look that said all was not well. He was scheduled to be executed the next day. His missive had gotten too much attention. Oskar, of course, was quick to assure her. This night, he’d fake his death but before that, he had a question: “Will vy marry me?” The answer was obvious, perhaps always obvious to those who’d seen the two together. “Da, always da.” And so a body, near unrecognizable, was found in his home that night, a note at its side. --- Maela played her part well. She grieved her friend, and unknown to those, fiancee. Clipped, dried flowers would be laid neatly at the entrance of the sewers. A shrine, in its own way. Family, it was something odd to her. Having always thought of herself alone, besides her late father, mother and now fiancee. But now, once more, those Holy Knights came back. A grand-uncle, heading the Holy Knights in the pilgrimage to come to new lands. The Inferi war had ended, and disaster struck again. Endless natural disasters, destroying her city and home. Holy Knights at her side, guarding her as she’s safely escorted to the City of Man. How many people must she have fed? Somehow in the chaos, her basket of goodies, meant to be brought to her fiancee wasn’t last. It went to the people, those starving as they awaited news of their homelands. And then they sailed on, to a new land, Almaris. --- A new home. It was odd, really. The buildings towered and the cold didn’t bite at her cheeks. Maela Frostfire and her fiance, Oskar Wick turned “Theodore Napier”, settled within the city of Providence. The first to marry within the church and certainly not the last, they stayed with a family friend as those got settled into their new homes. Maela, wishing to provide what she could, decorated the home. She’d bake and bake and bake, the ever-present scent of baked goods wafting through the kitchens and the hallways. Her now husband, he’d joined the ISA. Soon, waddling as she was with child, she’d bring him a lunch each day at work. A thermos of cocoa, to go with a slice of apple pie, freshly made whipped cream drizzled over the top and a second thermos of beef stew. Each meal, each dish, something different. Soon enough, he’d been elected Alderman and doing another line of work. Their first child was born, Darien Napier II, named after her late father. Their second came shortly after, Ophelia Napier II, named after Oskar Wicks twin. Maelas mother, Althea Frostfire, soon passed on. --- A time came, then. They could no longer hold the name of Napier, having outstayed their welcome with the trusted family friend. And, so with permission of their cousin branch as Oskar, ‘Theodore’ still kept his beating heart a secret, they took on Vuiller. Oskar, ‘Theodore’ passed one day when on the job and Maela followed shortly after. One might say it of a broken heart, as the woman withered away day by day after the loss of her beloved. --- In the name of genealogy, their current descendants, living or otherwise are as listed: Darien Jonathan Vuiller II Ophelia Althea Vuiller II Antonio Pepino, son of Ophelia and Guillame, her first husband Livia Joanna, son of Ophelia and Dmitri, her second husband
  2. THE TRAGEDY OF KING MARIUS I Dramatis Personae Marius, King of Haense Tobias, King of Courland Otto Heinrik, Crown Prince of Haense, brother of the king Karl Sigmar, Uncle of the king, Regent Lukas Vanir, Chancellor of Haense, the loyal minister Merric Staunton, Prince of Courland, cousin of Tobias Diedrik Barrow, the disobedient Interior Minister Sergei II, Cavalry commander, Lord of Kovachev, Duke of Carnatia Brynden Vanir, Lord Marshal, Lord of Vanir, Margrave of Vasiland Boris, Lord of Ruthern, Count of Metterden Otto Marius, Lord of Baruch, Baron of Ayr Adolphus, Lord of Vyronov, Baron of Graiswald Owyn, Lord of Amador, Baron of Mondstadt Alistar, Lord Commander of the Golden Crow, renowned poet Julia, Aunt of the king Tatiana, Aunt of the king, wife of Brynden Reza Elizaveta, the Queen-Mother Rory Othaman, Archbishop and Commander Sergeant, veteran soldier Reeve Brawm, traitor ACT I SCENE I. St. Karlsburg. The courtyard of Ottosgrad Palace. It is the winter of 1586. Alistar, a close confidant of the royal family walks outside of the castle holding a leash with a small grey puppy. There are thick heaps of snow that cover across the ground. ALISTAR (Enter Alistar, holding a leash with a young grey pup. Alistar picks up the young king and props Marius on his lap as he clears his throat.) Come Do you know the story of your namesake? Attend, young boy to Gaius Marius! The strength of GOD was vested upon him, Bringing with him the pride of Hanseti. For great was his brav’ry against his foes. To thee, young king, this ode I utter thus, Harken to his name, Gaius Marius! Today you are the one who stands on high, A great destiny few men seek to try. (The young Marius sits quietly, looking up at the poet’s narrative in awe. Enter Julia with courtiers.) JULIA Alas, poor boy, afflicted by neglect. I am baffl’d and disgraced to see him. Myself I throw dread monarchy at thy feet. Destined art thou to fail at eagle’s nest. Kings are but gilded snow and melted ice, Glistening upon the highest mountain. How great the mountain stands above the rest, Until the time of the season must change. All glistening of snow thus melts away. The wond’rous winter has but now elapsed, Leaving behind no trace to behold. Such became of the reign of his father, For now the season’s change has now arrived. (A gentle cascade of snowflakes descends to the ground.) ALISTAR Have hope dear princess, lest we be faithless! Woe to us, for GOD calls men to be strong. To what do we owe this ode of pity? There is no room for gloom and heartlessness, Deriding the blessing that GOD doth give. (Alistar hands the leash to Marius.) ALISTAR A wolf pup is a loyal companion, Surely a friend for life and unto death. The deep cold of the winters here in Haense, Test the soul to all that you shall hold dear. As a wolf is nourished by his master, So does a land from the love of their king. (Exit Julia and Marius.) ALISTAR My GOD, if thou hearest me in prayer, Look with pity and on the sins of the past. Strengthen those who need your guidance the most, And for this blessed Northmarch, redemption. Shed the angst of Andrik’s folly and vice, Renew the hearts of those who fear this life, And give us the grace to handle our pain. (Exit Alistar. Scene closes.) SCENE II. St. Karlsburg. The sparring arena within the Golden Crow barracks. Enter Otto Heinrik, Alistar, several Golden Crow guardsmen. OTTO HEINRIK (Otto picks up a sparring sword.) From the seas of Serpentstone to Greyspine, A warrior will I be to the north. So vast this land, yet I shall see its ends, From the mount of my strong and steady steed. Enemies to the right, and to the left, So great they are but still unmatched for me. ALISTAR Lo, Otto use your sense and keep your head! The enemy may come, or they may go, But the defender always stays en guarde. OTTO HEINRIK Heartily, I speak the truth, do I not? Great are the gifted fathers of Joren, So too am I, to follow in their stead! GUARD (Bellowing.) Entering His Majesty the King! (Enter Marius, flanked by his retinue of courtier and Gold Crow guardsmen.) MARIUS So great is Otto, who else can compare? Perhaps a jester roaming the manure! I kid, good brother for no one compares! (A nun comes forward, setting a desk for Marius’ study.) The words of yore still strike us true, Ever to keep us on our watchful eyes. Let none deceive or hinder, the glory Of the glacial and majestic winter. Whoso wishes to deny GOD’s elect, the Highlander and their great free spirit? ALISTAR I see you have excelled in your studies. It takes more than just one’s strength and one’s pride, But an unwavering mind that can see all. Barbanov never falls short of duty. (Exit all. Scene closes.) SCENE III. St. Karlsburg. The throne room of Ottosgrad palace. Enter Karl Sigmar, seated at the throne. Royal courtiers fill the peripheries of the palace throne room. Marius, Otto, the Queen-Mother flank Karl Sigmar. The Haense peerage are all present. The issue with the inclusion of House Brawm divides the Crown and the House of Kovachev. KARL SIGMAR (Seated at the throne. His face is shrouded in fatigue) My lords, we convene to discuss disputes, Concerning the lands within Carnatia. With that, the Duke Kovachev may rise forth. SERGEI II Your Highness and my fellow noble lords. Tis but a day of sad regret I rise, A man of loyalty and reverence To our Northern pride and our Northern crown. Why must we, the very House that sheltered Our king and gladly sacrificed our lives For the Kingdom, fight for security? KARL SIGMAR His Grace will cease his statement of dispute. Alas, the Duke heeds not my prior words, And with deaf ears he proceeds to this court! (Brawms snicker in the background.) SERGEI II Damned if I should act, damned if I do not. (Looks around to the courtiers.) His Highness seeks to silence me, but the Sun shines both on the good and the wicked! Woe to this court should complacency rule! We serve the right, not the dogs that were set On our duly earned Carnatian land. Friends, kinsmen, pledge your attention to me! I come to petition this esteemed court Not to sow dissent nor anger your hearts. May he not forget my own sworn duty, Not to the fallible whims of myself, But to Haense and the lands which I defend. Nor have I stood here to exhaust contempt I demand all for my kin what is due, Riddance the plague that is House Brawm in Haense. KARL SIGMAR You stand in my court, audacious and proud. Careful with your use of such words, Your Grace. They do not serve you well for your demands. Our union of vassals stands without doubt. Perhaps it is that pride of yours to fix. To all who here, to thine ears I impart, The Crown is uncontested in all respect. For if anyone should show dissent here Let he be admonished in our presence. I hereby grant in this place our assent, that those of Houndsden shall dwell among us. (Exit all but Karl Sigmar and Marius.) KARL SIGMAR My nephew, I pray you know the burden. Let neither duke nor count speak over you. The lofty ambitions of your vassals Must never come before you nor the Crown. As GOD commands the snow fall all around, He blesses the land with wintry wonder, That where it falls, your reign shall reside. Know this fully and keep this in your heart, For the day of reckoning shall be had. (Karl Sigmar gave a sigh prior to departing the throne room.) MARIUS (Looked around at the empty room, the portraits of his father and grandfather prominently peering down upon him.) To stand or fall, this I must decide now. Shall I be condemned a life of burdens, Or shall I bring honor to this great house? Is it greater to endure the pains of this crown, Or to look upon strife as total strength? The swooping talons of rival birds strike, But the noble crow is steadfast to fight. For in death, I can sleep in quick respite. But what glory does that bring to the north? Who would stand in my stead to take on such? The spurns of this station define this life. What life have I been given to define! No limits bear down on me but my thoughts, The fears that dwell within this naive mind. For it is true fear that creates weakness, Furthering blinding the sight of resolve. I pray, yet I hear nothing from the saints. Oh gracious GOD and by Karl and Otto, By Petyr and Andrik, let me succeed. May this be your good will above indeed. (Exit Marius. Scene closes.) ACT II SCENE I. St. Karlsburg. A hallway within Ottosgrad palace. Marius is seated along the staircase of Ottosgrad, accompanied by Tatiana who is weeping. MARIUS (Comforts Tatiana and speaks in a jovial tone.) Pray, good aunt, confide in me your sorrows! What vice has afflicted your graciousness? TATIANA My dear young boy, I should not burden you. I shan’t wrest you away from your affairs. MARIUS No, dear aunt. I enjoy your company! TATIANA How gracious you share love for all. Alas, your uncle Brynden shows disdain, For his mindless actions cause much pain to me. His deep ambition remains above me, His mind has no care for our family. For love is scarce among men in this world. But you, o’ king and loving toward all. Give to the north your hand and heart with glee, Never to let go of your greatest vow: To be true and faithful in all your deeds. MARIUS To you I vow always to be truthful. Never shall I shirk this given mandate. To all who give their just and wise counsel, I attend with heed to what I must do. For you, dear soul art a blessing to me, Showing pure what love can bring to us all. Tis more than love that I have learned from you, But loving those who give not back the same. Such is the duty of this great station. (Exit all. Scene closes.) SCENE II. St. Karlsburg. The throne room of Ottosgrad palace. It is the day of King Marius’ coronation. The noble lords, courtiers, clergy, and royal family are congregated within the throne room at Ottosgrad. King Marius dons royal attire. REZA ELIZAVETA At last the day of accession is here! You shall finally wear the Franciscan crown, Take the scepter in hand and show to all, That you will be a king of great courage. Look in awe dear son, for you now wear gold! (Reza gestures toward the Franciscan Crown, a gold circlet with protruding features each ornately adorned with rubies, sapphires, and diamonds.) MARIUS Gold I shall wear but worry fills my heart, For this gold has ruined many a man. Mine own father was corrupted by it, And the Kingdom suffered for his great sins. (Marius’ face is filled with worry, but he cannot break his gaze from the crown. Reza places a comforting hand on his shoulder.) REZA ELIZAVETA Remember my son, you are not Andrik. MARIUS Truly mother, my father I am not. My people look upon me with great hope; For their sake and mine own, I must triumph. (The crowd quiets as Rory Othaman, Bishop of St. Karlsburg, processions to the throne followed closely behind by altar boys and the nobles of the realm.) RORY OTHAMAN Kneel, King, and accept the blessing of God. (Marius kneels, beads of sweat forming on his brow. Rory turns to an altar boy, and dips his thumb into a glass vessel filled with oil.) RORY OTHAMAN Be now blesséd by this holy chrism, O King, chosen by God to rule us all. Let no evil into thy heart, for you Shall walk with the Almighty as your guide. (Rory draws a Lorraine cross with the oil on Marius’ forehead. He then takes the Franciscan Crown and holds it above Marius’ head.) RORY OTHAMAN Swear thee now, King, to serve dutifully And, with whole of mind and body, protect Thy subjects who gather now before thee? To uphold justice, strike down evil men, Strive for peace between brothers and nations, And hold in great esteem the laws of God? MARIUS So I swear. (Rory lowers the crown onto Marius’ head, then steps back. Marius rises.) RORY OTHAMAN Long live the King! REZA ELIZAVETA Long live the King! (The Crowd cheers and continues the chant until Marius raises his hands to signal for silence.) MARIUS Whether this life be brief or storied thus, To my leal vassals, I stand in your midst, To proclaim to you a firm and resolute realm. Now that the drums of war have been ceased, Our people shall commit ourselves thusly: To strengthen this kingdom with unity. Let us rebuild honorable custom, And the respect that every man is due. It is the cause of every Haeseni, To fulfill their destiny under God, Honoring our fathers with sacrifice, Reaping the harvest of honest labor, And leaving bounties when we are in graves. (Exit all. Scene closes.) SCENE III. St. Karlsburg. Marius’ office within Ottosgrad palace. It is early yet in Marius’ reign, and already he makes plans to meet with Lords Amador and Ruthern to settle a dispute between them. He waits in the royal office with his newly appointed Chancellor, Lukas Vanir, and his brother Otto Heinrik. MARIUS Come, Lukas, and tell me thus: that you have Grown accustomed to your new position. Few men may boast of such a rise as yours, From lowly mayor to noble Chancellor! You are surely proud of your achievement. LUKAS VANIR Ambition is not my wont, my lord King. I desire only to serve the Kingdom; The Greater Man places her above all. MARIUS A comfort, indeed, to hear you say so. Lacking faith in one’s councilor brings no Rest to one’s heart, but know that I place my Trust in you to serve this Crown loyally. Tell me, for what purpose have we been called? LUKAS VANIR To rule on a dispute as regards the Barony of Marbrand, seated between Lords Metterden and Mondstadt who presently Make way to your majesty’s grand office. (A knock at the door.) MARIUS Whence is that knocking? Come, let us see you. (Enter Boris Ruthern and Owyn Amador) MARIUS My lords, what troubles bring you here to-day? BORIS My liege, here is a villain and a traitor Who, by his own greed, seeks to take from me That which was granted by Petyr the King. My royal sovereign, my claim over the Greyspine Gate and my duty to guard it, A duty in which I have not failed thee, Are now both besieged by Lord Amador. An Owl he is assuredly not, For the lowest of rats alone cause such Havoc betwixt Haeseni brothers. OWYN My noble King, thou mustn’t listen to These false charges; truer words have come from The mouths of pagan Norlanders, who kill Freely and worship a false flaming God. Baron Marbrand has faith not in Lord Ruthern, For the shark has shown it will bite whatever It must to attain its true goal, the crown. Why then should any man serve the will of A lord who himself acts in poor faith? Be wary, my liege, for even now the Traitor conspires to take from thee thy throne. BORIS You clay-brained fool! Damn’d be your family! I ought to strike you down where you stand, knave! LUKAS VANIR We are in His Majesty’s company! Neither the dwarves of Urguan nor the Elves of Haelun’or carry themselves so! Raise you again your voice in aggression, And cursed be the day you choose to do so. Now step back and allow us to discuss. (Boris and Owyn scowl at Lukas, but silence themselves and step away whilst Lukas speaks in a lowered voice to Marius.) LUKAS VANIR See how they bear themselves, Your Majesty, As though crowned with allegiance and good faith? I am of one mind with your Lord Uncle, You must never allow your vassals to Dictate your actions unto you, my King. Regardless, this dispute has all signs of Peril, should either man feel insulted. Sire, assign an envoy to speak in Your name to keep you, in their hearts, friendly. (Marius nods. Lukas motions for Boris and Owyn to return within earshot.) MARIUS Lords Mondstadt, Metterden, be calm I say. This issue is of great import to us, And it is our interest to see it solved. Our brother Otto who has our respect, For he has done a great many things to Earn it, shall intercede on our behalf And bring to resolution this matter. None shall interfere in our goal to build A resolute realm; you will accept his Decision, whatever it may be. BORIS Thank you, my liege. OWYN Most gracious of you, sire. (Exit all. Scene closes.) SCENE IV. St. Karlsburg. The throne room of Ottosgrad palace. Marius sits in court, speaking with his gathered nobles and family. (Enter Sergeant) SERGEANT Pardon for the interruption, my King. Lord Reeve Brawm seeks admittance to your majesty. MARIUS We’ll give him present audience. Bring him. (Enter Reeve Brawm) MARIUS What message have you from our lord Houndsden? REEVE BRAWM Thus says my lord: To Marius King of Haense, Knave, polisher of Imperial boots, Only contempt and slight regard for you. Here lays our demand: full independence And freedom from your tyrannical shackles. No longer shall Hound lick the feet of the Crow, Who is unworthy of the crown it bears. In the name of my lord and our house, (Reeve Brawm removes his left glove, tossing it at Marius’ feet. Gathered nobles and courtiers gasp in surprise.) There lies our challenge to this mockery That fools may call the Kingdom of Haense. What message shall I return to Houndsden? (Marius picks up the glove and looks at it before responding.) MARIUS To your master say thus: that we accept His challenge and take arms against him. Houndsden shall regret this folly, see his Mistake, and regret the day he chose To turn his back on us, who have only Defended him to this court of our peers. Accused of tyranny, what nonsense. The only present mockery is his, The ruin he has but guaranteed for his house. Our response shall be like thunder, an earthquake, So hot an answer of it that all shall Return his mock and the people of Haense Shall see our actions as matching to his Frivolous and unwarranted insult. Leave now, tell your master what we have said. REEVE BRAWM I shall deliver so. Thanks to your highness. (Reeve bows and exits.) MARIUS What say you, Uncle Vasiland? Are the Armies of Hanseti-Ruska prepared To face this threat which has reared its ugly head? BRYNDEN VANIR Your soldiers stand willing and ready, sire. As do your loyal lords who gather here To-day, who shall stand with you to-morrow, And ev’ry day thereafter until these Traitors are brought before God Almighty. SERGEI II Your Majesty, most humbly I request The lead of the vanguard against these dogs, Who have mine own family harassed and Now make war against thy most august crown. MARIUS Take it, Carnatia, lead us to glory. Vasiland, Metterden, Ayr, great lords all, Raise your banners and rally your forces For we shall make war on these dogs of Brawm! BRYNDEN, ADOLPHUS, SERGEI, OWYN, and BORIS To war! (Exit all. Scene closes.) SCENE V. Houndsden. The royal command tent in the siege camp. Marius, Lukas, Brynden Vanir, Adolphus, Sergei II, and Otto Marius have all gathered within the royal command tent in the Houndsden siege camp. ADOLPHUS Mighty is your artillery, my liege! For even now the dogs within the fort Cower in fear and await their slaughter! OTTO MARIUS Tis a shame that men of Courland should die After, by trickery, entering the fort. BRYNDEN VANIR A shame, nay, an honor my Lord Baruch! Long have my kin clashed with those of Staunton! We know well their penchant for deception And their love of war and all things evil. OTTO MARIUS Aye, you speak truly, my Lord Vasiland. Never again can the white eagle be Allowed to spread its wings across the land. (Enter Rory Othaman, sweaty and armored.) RORY OTHAMAN The enemy’s wall has crumbled, my liege. Your soldiers, with hardened heart and clenched fist, Stand ready to attack and take the fort. MARIUS Then take it, Lord Bishop, as you have said. Bring us victory. God be with you all. (Exeunt Lords after bowing. Marius breaks composure and kneels before a cross.) MARIUS O God above who watches over us all, Steel my soldiers’ hearts, take from them doubt and Fear, for those shall bring them death in battle. Rather, grant them to this thy leal servant. Is this then the true weight of the crown? Men shall live and die by my command, and Yet I know not whether my acts are just. My grandsire did nobly fight and win war, Forming this crown which now rests on my head. Did he ne’er doubt himself? When taking arms Or striking men with steel, did he not care For the widows made from his ambition? Of mine own father, a veteran of war, Songs are sung of his conquests and glory, Yet guilt did not preclude his violence. Why then hast thou chosen me, mighty God, Who withers and writhes with guilt and conscience? (Marius pauses, staring at the cross for a moment.) But this is not mine to question why, But to do as you have commanded me. This I know to be true, that for the better Or for the worst, the crown rests upon my Head, and I am King of Hanseti-Ruska. Such is the burden that I must carry. (Enter Sergei with blood on armor and sword.) SERGEI II The flag of surrender is raised, my King! The castle has fallen to our great arms! MARIUS And how many among us do lie dead? SERGEI II But one of the eight thousand whom you sent. A slight amount, Your Majesty. Minor. (Marius nods, Sergei bows then exits.) MARIUS One thousand more orphans, yet slight he says.. (Exit Marius. Scene closes.) ACT III SCENE I. St. Karlsburg. The throne room in Ottosgrad palace. Some years have passed since the Brawm Rebellion. Marius wraps up a diplomatic meeting in court with Prince Merric Staunton in hopes of reducing tensions with Courland. (Enter Marius, Merric Staunton, Diedrik, and Lukas.) MERRIC STAUNTON Great words between us, royal brother! I’ll report to my kingly coz that you Peace have invested in, that no more blood Be shed for any cause between our realms. DIEDRIK BARROW (Quietly to Lukas) How low the crow does fly to treat with such? Why entertain the scum of Courland, they Who unjustly buried our great Empire? LUKAS VANIR Your tongue is rough. Pray the King does not hear, Or pray that it should fall from your mouth, Lest you lose more than you wish to part with. Peace is the wish of all, both Man and God. When has our sovereign led us astray? DIEDRIK BARROW (Quietly to self) What fools do wear the crown to lead us all! Peace should not so dull a Kingdom, its swords Must not rust, nor its people grow lazy. Would that these twits see this friendship is naught, These praises covering ambition with A coat of humility and finesse. Tis now that defenses ought to be made, Soldiers fitted and armed, forts brought up. War will come upon the land once more, brought By the talons of Courlandic eagle. Did not these Courlanders send aid to Brawm When those dogs bit the hands which fed them? Pure truth must surface and be made known lest Death will, with his great scythe, cut down all here. The instrument of truth I shall be, and Strike down with my blade this disguised devil! (Diedrik pulls out a dagger from under his cloak, stabbing Merric in front of the court. Merric collapses, dead.) MARIUS You fool! Know you what disaster this brings? DIEDRIK BARROW I have only done that which is good for Haense. MARIUS Arrest the murderer, and bring here a Priest to inter a man who would be our friend. (Guards arrest Diedrik. Exit soldiers and Diedrik with Merric’s body.) MARIUS (To Lukas) Ambassadors to Courland send, that peace May yet be saved despite the blood spilled here To-day, that it may not all be in vain. (Exit all. Scene closes.) SCENE II. Cloud Temple. A round table within a peaceful grotto. After the murder of Merric Staunton, Tobias and Marius meet for a diplomatic council on the grounds of the Cloud Temple. Tensions are high, as a less-than-successful meeting could result in world war. TOBIAS My people will not be cowed by your threats, Nor will they quake at the drawing of steel, For Courlanders are made of sterner stuff As shall be witnessed should we come to blows! MARIUS Stay your hand, my royal brother Courland. Your coz Merric and I were of one mind, That ne’er again can war destroy our realms, So our princes may be not captiv’d by The black hand of Death, servant of Iblees. TOBIAS If, King of Hanseti, you would the peace, Whose lack gives home to these imperfections Which you have naively explained to us, Then now explain you must why Merric lies In eternal slumber beneath the dirt. Brother he was to us, confidante when Discretion was demanded of us. As friend no equal did he have, no man As gracious nor as loved was he by all. Why then lies he with worms below our feet, Whilst you, who brought his death, walk free with life? MARIUS The crime of which you speak was done not in My name, but by a fool, a rogue who acts For self and pride, who wants above all, war. Put to arrest he was, executed For justice and in furtherance of peace. Thy cousin was accordant with my want, My aspiration for peace between us. Scorn not his memory through thy pursuit Of war, rather honor his sacrifice. Let his blood mark a new beginning for Our realms, a path towards great prosperity. TOBIAS To yet place my trust in the King would be To treat with men who but ten years prior Raised arms against my realm in defense of Horen and their great crimes against the world, Who stomped upon the necks of the uruks, Who burnt Savoy out of spite for their lord, Who sought to end the line of the dwarf kings! Desire not my people to return to The ways of the Imperium Quintus, Yet I believe with all my heart that you Yearn for these days of old in which you ruled. How then can I with good conscience believe That you do not aim to restore Horen? MARIUS Loyal service I gave, for that’s my oath. When I, like all, am interred in the ground, To rest with my father and all before, With me shall go no gold, nor silk, nor jewels. All these and more may be taken from me, But my honor shall be mine forever. Shame to him who leaves this life with dishonor, For his stain shall not be made clean in death. To quit my liege in his hour of great need Would so sully my soul that no good deed Would wipe away the shame of my deceit. How then can you say, ‘I do not trust you’? By my acts I have shown my commitment To all pacts which shall bear my signature. My one concern henceforth will be to guard My people, from youngest child to oldest man. What reason then have I to lie to you? In spite of your lack of faith in my words, I will offer to send envoys to thee, So that swords may stay sheathed and words shall then Resolve conflicts that rise between our realms. This I say to ease thy mistrust of me, So you may see my heart is pure and true. TOBIAS Not out of love shall I agree to this, But in remembrance of my sweet cousin. Fare thee well, brother Hanseti-Ruska. (Exit all. Scene closes.) SCENE III. St. Karlsburg. The throne room of Ottosgrad palace. Months after the diplomatic council, ambassadors have gone back and forth between Courland and Haense, ensuring the tense peace between them remains in place. Marius stands in Ottosgrad, speaking to Rory, Sergei, Otto Heinrik, and Brynden Vanir. (Enter Lukas.) LUKAS VANIR Grave news my liege, for in pursuit of peace Sent I Count Metterden to see Staunton And in this endeavor, death has taken him. MARIUS Murdered? God preserve us, all will be lost! A babe, fresh from the womb, was our new peace, Fragile and new to this world’s cruelties, Protected only by good will of men, Smothered now whilst laying within its crib! Give me your thoughts my lords, what should be done? RORY OTHAMAN An opportunity given by God, Planted at the feet of one who must answer. His Holiness shall place God’s grace on us, Should we, with all expedience, make war On Aleksandria who dare appoint A false Pontiff in challenge to His Grace. Tears shall be shed for Count Metterden, yet Others will follow if we idle and Permit this hope for justice to slip us by. Hear me, gracious sovereign, and you peers, That owe yourselves your lives to this grand cause, That what was torn asunder may be new, And be re-united under our God. I speak, of course, of our Imperium, Risen from the flames of our holy war. Gracious lord, stand for what is your duty, Unfurl your flags of war as your forebears Did for generations before you and Restore Humanity from fallen state To life in our Holy Oren Empire. MARIUS To breathe new life into Humanity Is my solemn duty, but to declare On brother Courland for Orenia? A hypocrite would I be should I do What you here now suggest to this grand court. Marshal Vasiland, speak your mind to us. BRYNDEN VANIR I am one with your mind that Empire is Not cause enough to send men to battle. Yet I agree that war must be declared. Years have passed since the collapse of House Brawm; Your peers and soldiers grow tired and restless, Eager to prove themselves worthy of the Legacies of their ancestors before. War will grant them such opportunity, And make known to the world that Haense remains Strong as ever to fight all who attack. MARIUS Brother Otto, where stands your mind on this? OTTO HEINRIK Your peers lack in caution, royal brother. Courland is no small dog like that of Brawm. The wings of the white eagle stretch out far, Its talons long and sharp, its beak jagged. Forget not how Horen lost their great crown At the hands of a mighty coalition Assembled by the cunning of Staunton. To war them now would be to risk such fate Upon us all, to change the maps of the world. MARIUS Lukas, chancellor, where does your mind fall? LUKAS VANIR Metterden was no minor peer, my King, But one of the great houses of the realm. To not act now would be to turn your back On those houses which have served you with faith. Complaints of insincerity will come After your words in council with Tobias, But your nobles shall think you weak if you Fail now to avenge the death of their own. A tough choice lies before you now, sire. No matter what decision you shall make, I am forever your loyal servant. (Marius pauses, thinking to himself.) MARIUS Let it be war then, and may it be swift. BRYNDEN VANIR (To other peers gathered) Raise then banners of war, my lords. Make haste To call upon your men; let us repeat The grand subjugation of Houndsden now! (Exeunt all. Scene closes.) SCENE IV. St. Karlsburg. The courtyard of Ottosgrad palace. After declaring war on Courland, Marius dispatched his army to the forest crossroads of Elba, one of the many pathways into the Kingdom. He paces anxiously within the palace courtyard while waiting for news. (Enter Lukas and Sergeant.) LUKAS VANIR Here comes now a man who fought at Elba. MARIUS Come Sergeant, and give your report to us. SERGEANT My honorable King, I bear ill news, For though eight thousand stood to fight House Brawm, Only came four to fight against Courland. Such ill can only be caused by Vanir, Who failed in his duty to properly Maintain and train your host to be ready For the war which we now find ourselves in. This gross incompetence and mismanagement Has made many a man desert his post, For none of sound mind wish to die for the Mistakes of another, in command or In battle, as was the case at Elba. It was two to one and Courland was fresh, With full bellies and warm clothing to wear. Disaster continued as we sought to Rout their cavalry with our own; in this We failed and so were forced with all haste to Quit the field and surrender the ground with shame. Retreat was costly and we just escaped, Though not without the loss of many men. Slaughter it was, the frozen ground turned red With the blood of the defeated fallen. MARIUS Oh God, from where have they this mettle? Are they not from warm and cozy climate? Their men not raised in lives of great comfort? From young age are our boys taught to survive, Yet they now find themselves bested by sheep! I shall put it out of my mind, it is No matter, for Metterden now stands tall, Ready to weather the strikes of Courland. As the rocks of the coast do with great waves, So shall our fort withstand assault by men. (Enter Sergei.) SERGEI II Lies and deceit betray us all my King! For now Staunton marches his men around Greyspine Mountains, his aim to siege the fort At Vasiland and take our coast to build Routes of supply to feed his vast army! MARIUS Hubris and vanity cost us this day, For in our ostentation we failed to Properly fortify our coast, a sin That shall cause us great pains in this conflict! Scurry yourself and what soldiers remain To Vasiland to garrison the fort. I too shall go with you, to be a beacon Of hope and raise the spirits of my men Who, soon enough, shall fight in defense of This crown I wear which makes men call me King. LUKAS VANIR To permit you leave would be to put your Life in grave harm, my King, too great a risk Does this pose to our realm that I, with all Intensity must refuse your desire. You must, for the sake of us all, remain. MARIUS Accept then I your judgment of my mind. In safety I shall stay while Carnatia Commands the defense of our eastern land. Spare neither cost nor time, do what you must. Bring victory so we may see another day. (Exit all. Scene closes.) ACT IV SCENE I. St. Karlsburg. The throne room of Ottosgrad palace. Marius waits in St. Karlsburg, anxiously waiting for news of the Siege of Vasiland. (Enter Lukas, Otto Heinrik, all Haeseni Lords, bloody and defeated.) MARIUS Lukas, Chancellor, friend, what news have you? Has our tactic played out as we intended? LUKAS VANIR Reproach, ruin, and shame, Your Majesty! All our ranks are broke; men flee for their lives. Fire, the enemy artillery did, At our walls which could not withstand such a Barrage of stone and flame, and came crashing To the earth, scores of men following them. Die well they did not, and there shall be many In Haense to-day lacking husband, father, or son. Woe to us who sent these men to their end! Once more back again to the field we must go, To die with honor and fall beside the Men whose souls now rest with the saints above! MARIUS Stay your hand, gentle Lukas, for God still Has purpose for you and us fellows all. Defeated in battle we may be, but Fulfill I must the duties of the crown. Proclaim it through my host and my realm that Purses shall be made for flight to Mardon, That none who wish to live in subjugation Must do so, and may rather join us in That southern asylum which we must call home. Shame and dishonor may follow me for The rest of my life, but my people shan’t Suffer for the mistakes of their ruler. Go and do it now, quickly. OTTO HEINRIK It shall be done, your highness. God bless you. (Exeunt lords with a bow except Lukas.) LUKAS VANIR And as regards the war, my sovereign? MARIUS Send messengers to Courland for Staunton. Peace shall, nay, must be made no matter the cost. (Exit Lukas with a bow.) MARIUS (buries his face in his hands, weeping) May Almighty God have mercy on me. (Exit Marius. Scene closes.) SCENE II. Mardon. A street-side bench within the city. Some time has passed since the flight to Mardon. A peace treaty was signed giving away all Haeseni territory to Courland, but Marius retained the titles of King of Hanseti and Ruska. He sits alone on a bench in the city, bottle of wine in hand. MARIUS In all of life’s woes, no comfort is found: Let’s speak of crumbled stone and ashen flags, Of hollow armor where knights once adorned. Inscribe sorrow on graves of our fallen. For when we join them, our last wills are read. And yet at our death, what do we pass down? Nothing shall remain but our memory. Our lands, our lives, our homes are all Staunton’s, Nothing left we call our own but demise, And all the shallow graves of distant lands, Which are final rest to our flesh and bones. For God’s sake, let us sit where we so please And share sad stories of the death of kings: How some overthrown or slain in battle, Some cursed by the sins of their father’s deeds, Some poison’d by their queens, or killed by fate. All struck dead whilst wearing the weighty crown, That gilded vice taking the king hostage, Where death awaits and lingers all around, Taunting his state and cursing his first born. Yet life gives him leave to suffer a while, Allowing him time to govern in vain, Entrapping him in duty before death, As if this body were made of stern stuff. When he finally feels safe and secure, Death comes at last to shame his vain conceit. Like a trebuchet in the dark of night, At a moment’s release, bores through his keep, And alas they shall say, “O’ farewell king.” For death is truly our fate’s great master, Mocking our fragile lives at any time. But for now, let me not think of duty, Mandate, ceremony, or tradition, For you have mistaken me all this time. I suffer like you, grieve much, long for hope: How can any of you say I am king? (Marius sips from the bottle, then falls off the bench dead.) FIN
  3. HOUSE STAFYR INTRODUCTION & FOREWORD By Arthur K. Stafyr 23rd Lord & Guardian of House Stafyr The legacy of the House of Stafyr is a rich and prestigious one. One of the oldest families in humanity, we Stafyrs have weathered the rise and fall of many an empire and kingdom alike. From windswept Shadowcastle to glacial Nenzing, my family has seen it all. Our eternal virtues of Law, Honor, and Loyalty are what have held us together. Our history is part and parcel to who we are. Yet, in recent years, the several lines of Beorn have been scattered like chaff in the wind. The heritage which we champion has begun to slowly fade from living memory. In an uncertain world, we cannot forget what makes us that which we are. Let the culture, customs, and traditions of the Almannir tribes and of the Stafyr family not go unrecorded. I pen this ethnography and history, the latter of which I have edited and modernized from the works of Leopold, Count of Nenzing and Nikolas Flynn Stafyr so that our name might not be forgotten. Indeed, I further write this compendium with the help of my Uncle Thondorus, and my beloved Elia, so that it may be spoken by living tongues once again. A BRIEF HISTORY OF THE ALMANNIR Almannir Horsemen in the Highlands of Aegis, c. 572 On Almannir History An excerpt about the Almannir people and their history by the current keeper of the Book of Tales, Thondorus II. of House Stafyr Foreword This brief summary shall give the reader some insight in the ancient and thus far very unclear history of the Almannir people. The contents are based on a combination of collected records, fragments of history and a more proper translation of the stories in the Book of Tales. A degree of conjecture is present, but the reader must forgive as this history is many centuries old. Without further ado, I bid the reader an enticing or equally boring read. Overview Etymology and meaning History: Foundation, Aegis, transition into modern records (the Verge) The five Houses Altbaum, Altbom, Oldtree Steinkachel, Stoakachl, Stonetile Weidenfrau, Wiidafrou, Meadowswife Steinfeuer, Stoafyer or Stafyr, Stonefire Rettersmann, Rettersma, Saviour The Galdr The Book of Tales and its stories Closing statement Part 1: Etymology and Meaning Part 2: History: Foundation, Aegis and The Transition into Modern Records (the Verge) Part 3: The Five Houses As described in the preceding part, five Houses led Almania at its peak with the first one being of kingly status. Unfortunately the records are quite limited as to what are their traditions and customs but a few basic pointers may be given. Part 4: The Galdr Part 5: The Book of Tales Closing Statement This brief excerpt should give some insight into the history of the Almannir, their origin and who they were. It is by no means exhaustive and there are many more secrets to be found within the fractured sources spread through the libraries and memories of the people all around. What matters the most, is that the people descending from these heroes of olden days remember their roots and never forget their origin. History is part of who you are. THE HISTORY OF HOUSE STAFYR The Siege of Schattenburg, c. 1435 The Birth of House Stafyr (UNKNOWN - 1353) The Rise of Saint Godwein (1353 - 1426) Clash of Brothers (1426 - 1435) The Golden Age of Stafyr (1435 - 1464) The First Falcon’s Fall (1435 - 1521) Stafyrian Renaissance (1529 - 1718) The Bear’s Regency and the Erichian Era (1718 - 1744) The Second Falcon’s Fall (1744 - 1794) THE THREE LINES OF BEORN An Artist’s Depiction of the Siblings Galtor and Sybilla as Youths The three familial lines of House Stafyr all descend from the children of Beorn Stafyr, the founder of the House. They are aptly named Hanethor, Galtor, and Sybilla. While there have been known to be Stafyrs who have broken the stereotypes associated with their lines in the past, the Three Lines of Beorn are often associated with the particular characteristics and occupations for which they are renowned. Hanethorian Line Galtorian Line Sybillan Line ALMANNIR & STAFYR CULTURE Leana & Katherine Stafyr Riding Horses, c. 1732 By Katerine Ruthern nee Stafyr (@Sirenscall) THE TRADITIONS OF HOUSE STAFYR Over the centuries, House Stafyr has developed for itself a set of unique ceremonies and traditions. Many of these are Almannir in nature, though several are unique to the Stafyrs as an ancient family in their own right. Though the customs and traditions of Stafyr are vast, I shall endeavor to document the most important to which almost all are accustomed. Even among our disparate members and branches, these coming of age rituals are all widely acknowledged. Coming of Age 1.) The Hatching (Age 13) 2.) The First Pilgrimage (Age 16) 3.) The Falcon’s Flight (Age 16+) Almannir Funeral Rites Equestrian Festivals Mummer’s Shows Almannir Lullabies CULTURAL HERITAGE Over the centuries, House Stafyr has developed for itself a set of unique ceremonies and traditions. Many of these are Almannir in nature, although nearly a half millennia of nobility has led to the adoption of some which are unique to the Stafyr family. Traditional Foodstuffs Clothing Jewelry & Regalia The Men of Stafyr The Women of Stafyr THE VIRTUES OF HOUSE STAFYR St. Godwein Imparting the Virtue of Law Unto Ser Edmund, c. 1418 The House of Stafyr is renown for the motto which it has championed throughout the ages, this being the phrase “Licent, Honorem, Pietas.” Roughly translating into “Law, Honor, and Loyalty” in the language of Flexio, a true Stafyr from any branch of the House will always strive to live by these virtues to the best of their ability. To live by these virtues is of paramount importance to any Stafyr. Failure to abide by these virtues will rarely fare well for a Falcon, often proving to be their downfall. This is a recurring theme throughout Stafyr history, as its members strive to emulate the lofty example set by Saint Godwein of Huntshill throughout his life. Though there have been definitive villains throughout the House’s history, those who have remained true to these virtues have thrived and prospered. ‡ LICENT ‡ ‡ HONOREM ‡ ‡ PIETAS ‡ THE LORDS OF STAFYR Ser Edmund and Ser Farley: A Clash of Brothers, c. 1428 Beorn Stafyr Born - Unknown Death - Unknown Titles: 1st Lord of Stafyr and Guardian of House Stafyr. Hanethor I. Stafyr Born - Unknown Death - 1349 Titles: 2nd Lord of Stafyr and Guardian of House Stafyr. Master Thondorus Stafyr Born ~ 1300-1305 Death - 1355 Titles: 3rd Lord of Stafyr, Founder, Master and Bailiff of Rivacheg Master Graveth I. Stafyr Born ~ 1320-1323 Death ~1380-1390 Titles: 4th Lord of Stafyr, Master and Bailiff of Rivacheg Saint Godwein the Honest of Huntshill Born ~ 1360-1365 Death - 1426 Titles: 5th Lord of Stafyr, Marquis of Schattenburg, Baron of Feldkirch, Baron of Huntshill, Lord High Treasurer and Grand Justice of the Holy Oren Empire. After his death sanctified as the Patron Saint of Honesty, Woodworkers, Fungi and Skin-afflictions. Lord Edmund I. Stafyr Born - 1392 Death - 1435 Titles: 6th Lord of Stafyr, Lord of Geminine, Marquis of Schattenburg, Baron of Feldkirch, Lord Privy Seal of the Holy Oren Empire, Noble Ser of the chapter of the Lion, Knight Commander of Renatus. Lord Farley II. “The Young Lord” Stafyr Born - 1431 Death - 1464 Titles: 7th Lord of Stafyr, Count of Shadowcastle, Baron of New Huntshill and Fieldchurch, Lord Privy Seal of the Holy Kingdom of Oren, Warden of the South. Lord Symon “The Bread Count” Stafyr Born - 1445 Death - 1509 Titles: 8th Lord of Stafyr, Count of Werdenberg and Shadowcastle, Baron of New Huntshill, Fieldchurch, Commander of Eastgate and Master Keeper of the Imperium Tertius. Lord Athelstan II. Stafyr Born - 1460 Death - 1535 Titles: 9th Lord of Stafyr, Count of Werdenberg and Baron of Katzburg. Lord Thomas Stafyr Born - 1474 Death - 1515 Titles: 10th Lord of Stafyr, Count of Werdenberg, Baron of Katzburg and Waldstadt Lord Jakob II. Stafyr Born - 1477 Death - 1521 Titles: 11th Lord of Stafyr, Baron of Waldstadt. Lord Altaron II. Stafyr Born - 1529 Death - 1599 Titles: 12th Lord of Stafyr, Baron of Arnaut and Master of Coin for the Archduchy of Lorraine. Lord Eadwulf Stafyr-Thurant Born - 1579 Death -1622 Titles: 13th Lord of Stafyr, Duke of Raetia and Baron of Thurant Lord Kristoff Ludvic Stafyr-Grauspin Born - 1588 Death - 1669 Titles: 14th Lord of Stafyr, Viscount of Grauspin, Ambassador and Emissary of Haense Lord Sergei Heindrik Stafyr-Grauspin Born - 1645 Death -1706 Titles: 15th Lord of Stafyr, Viscount of Grauspin, Baron of Thurant and Lord-Marshal of Haense. Lord Leopold Kristoff Stafyr-Grauspin Born - 1688 Death - 1718 Titles: 16th Lord of Stafyr, Count of Nenzing, Viscount of Grauspin, Baron of Thurant, Lord-Palatine and Chancellor of Haense Lord Erich Stafyr-Grauspin Born - 1712 Death - 1744 Titles: 17th Lord of Stafyr, Count of Nenzing, Viscount of Grauspin, Baron of Thurant, Royal Envoy of Haense, Commandant of the Brotherhood of St. Karl Lord Alaric Leopold Stafyr-Grauspin Born - 1735 Death - 1775 Titles: 18th Lord of Stafyr, Count of Nenzing, Viscount of Grauspin, Baron of Thurant, Commander of the Royal Expedition to Athera (1756) Lord Hektor Stafyr-Grauspin Born - 1755 Death - 1794 Titles: 19th Lord of Stafyr, Count of Nenzing, Viscount of Grauspin, Baron of Thurant Master Damron Stafyr-Beron Born - 1735 Death - 1807 Titles: 20th Lord of Stafyr and Guardian of House Stafyr. Master Morvon Stafyr-Beron Born - 1787 Death - 1856 Titles: 21st Lord of Stafyr and Guardian of House Stafyr. Master Nikolas II. Stafyr-Beron Born - 1827 Death - 1884 Titles: 22nd Lord of Stafyr and Guardian of House Stafyr. Master Arthur Konrad Stafyr-Beron Born - 1868 Death - Titles: 23rd Lord of Stafyr and Guardian of House Stafyr. THE STAFYR HEIRLOOMS The Vault of Old Nenzing, c. 1745 ‡ ANCIENT HEIRLOOMS ‡ ‡ MODERN HEIRLOOMS ‡ APPENDIX OF HISTORICAL WORKS [[THANKS AND ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS:]]
  4. THE HOUSE OF RUTHERN “By Bones and Barrows” Introduction The House of Ruthern is the current ruling family of the Duchy of Vidaus and vassal of the Kingdom of Hanseti-Ruska. Originating as a bastard cadet branch of the House of Carrion through Boris I, King of Raev’s bastard son, Ruther ‘Bonebreaker’ Barrow. The House of Ruthern originally rose to prominence under Exalted Sigismund and the succeeding Carrion monarchs, King Heinrik I and King Franz I, and again at the founding of the dual Kingdom of Hanseti-Ruska under the Barbanov King Petyr I. House Ruthern has remained at the height of human politics and conflict ever since. The Histories Origins The House of Ruthern is one of the oldest houses of humanity; originating from the imperial House of Carrion. House Ruthern descends from the bastard Ruther Barrow, born out of wedlock between the Prince Boris Carrion and a courtier believed to be by the name of “Elizaveta”. Although a bastard, his mother sought out good treatment for the Barrow and had him cared for by the servantry and other governesses of the castle. Elizaveta spoke honeyed words to those around her to secure a safe homestead for the child under another Carrion, Lord Borislav. He was “[...] ill-tempered and cruel; and [Ruther] had always been spiteful of those around him, taking pleasure in torture and pain.” Ruther had a notable, intense phobia of bloodshed and reveled in forms of blunt trauma and torture to satiate this. A hammer was his weapon of choice to inflict these acts and to further himself throughout all his military endeavours, oftentimes partaking in naval warfare of cold blue seas amidst war if not in the thick of the bloodshed and battle. Ruther was despised for his cruelties, and the courtiers and servants alike begged for the Lord Borislav to have the boy killed in war to die upon foreign soil. Seeing their pleas as plausible against the ill-mannered Ruther Barrow, the boy was sent off to war again (with hopes from those at his home that he would die) with sixteen longships gifted to him and a levy mixed with convicts and conscripts. Against all odds, Ruther and his men infiltrated the rival Kosanov Holding and decimated the populace in its entirety amidst the Raevir people’s civil conflict. When the Carrion lords that he so served under attempted to claim the hold in which Ruther had won over, he garrisoned the castle and demanded legitimization for his pivotal effort in the war. Legitimization would make Ruther a true Carrion, and those who knew the boy were in open opposition to this occurrence. Lord Borislav, among the men demanding the stronghold of Kosanov, refused the legitimization outright. However, Ruther was granted a barren beachline for his warband out of appeasement and high wishes that such would satisfy the wicked bastard. Soon, Ruther was forced to abandon his lands as war saw itself in a spiral. Through fury and insanity, he navigated his fleet away from the House of Carrion’s and drove the people along with him to a variety of island civilizations between the continents of Asulon and Anthos. Ruther’s passing was sudden and unknown, only to be followed by his trueborn son; Boris. Boris garnered the sigil of the hammerhead shark for the creature’s savagery, hammer-head in symbol of his father’s weapon, and affinity in water. Boris continued his father's legacy of establishing violent campaigns against various trade archipelagos, and bore two sons; Ivan and Ailred. Boris, however, did not have the unrelenting tenacity and violence as his father. He faltered and in doing so his second son, Ailred, was kidnapped at a young age by rival slavers. Ailred was lost to the family, being raised as a Dreadfort child soldier after being sold to Augustus Blackmont in Anthos. Boris eventually contracted scurvy, dying and sending the “Fleet of Bones” scattered throughout the wild seas with each Captain having a will to claim the mantle Ruther and Boris had held. The ensuing, blood-filled conflict of brother against brother and friend against friend became known as the “Night of Broken Ships”. In the following year, Ivan, possessing a knack that his father did not, was able to consolidate his own forces from new recruits and remnants of the Bones’ crews where he gained knowledge of a new landmass and began making plans. Crimson Chapter [Anthos] Ivan took what little streltsy conscripts and thralls he’d mustered to head for Anthos. He had figured the continent settled and ripe for war, despite his weakened fleet. Upon arriving on the Crimson Isles, Ivan and his fleet are met on the shore by a retinue of soldiers loyal to House Blackmont. Agreeing to a meet between himself and Lord Augustus Blackmont, Ivan and his crew members are escorted to the Dreadfort; a towering, dauntingly fearsome place. Inside, the conversation that ensued was a productive one where Ivan saw his views align with Lord Augustus’ own leading to the integration of his men into the Flay forces with Ivan as an officer, serving the awe-inspiring bandit lord as a formidable brigand in his own right. In what can only be described as a fortuitous twist of fate, Ivan reunited with his brother, Flay bannermen Ailred, who had come to be nicknamed “Red Ruth'' for his flayish brutality in their time apart. Ailred had grown up with a harsh sort of way before earning his freedom and rising through the ranks due to his skills as a swordsman and commander of men. The years that came after this were prosperous for the Ruthern brothers and their men, banditing, raiding and accumulating power and influence aplenty. Like every good thing, it comes to an end though and the House Ruthern’s time as bannermen was no different. Augustus Blackmont, the man who had garnered the respect and loyalty of many, died, leaving his son Tiberius, known to be incompetent, to inherit. The climax of Tiberius’ ineptitude came in what has come to be remembered as the “Crimson Banquet”, where a feast in the Flay keep devolved into the throwing of wild accusations and fighting after Tiberius died at the hands of an unknown poisoner. The ensuing chaos and blood spilling results in the Dreadfort being set alight, reduced to rubble once the flames died down. In the aftermath many of the formerly Blackmont loyalists join the large swathes of people in the Great Exodus, leaving behind the lands of Anthos in search of the fabled land of Aeldin after the death of Horen V and the dismantling of the First Orenian Empire. Ivan and Ailred stayed and governed the lands that were once belonging to House Blackmont, their status once more risen. Second Orenian Empire [Anthos] In lieu of the Orenian Empire, the Kingdom of Ruska rose in its place as the dominant kingdom for humankind. At the head of it is Siegmund Carrion, King of Ruska and second cousin to Ivan and Ailred. A charismatic and captivating figure. King Siegmund sought out Ivan and Ailred to express his desire of a unified humanity once more under one banner of which they would be included. Convinced of his sincerity and lack of ulterior motive, Ivan and Ailred agreed and thus the lands held by the Ruthern siblings fell under the Kingdom of Ruska to further Siegmund’s cause. In the coming years the vision proves an ever more tangible one when the remaining human states join the fold and makes the Apostolic Kingdom of Ruska the sole nation of mankind, to be reconstructed as the Second Orenian Empire with a Kaorvic at its core. Ivan and Ailred were bestowed the benefits of their loyalty, rising in status as Marquess and Counts and forming the Decterum Order, the largest and later state military of the Empire, with Ailred assuming the position of its Marshal. In the years that were to come, Ailred’s power and influence advanced whilst his brother Ivan grew frail and weak, wracked with rapidly oncoming old age. In late Anthos, Ivan takes his final ragged breath and passes away in his bed in the middle of the night, leaving behind both trueborn and baseborn children but leaves Ailred as the new patriarch of the House of Ruthern. During the same period of time, Emperor Siegmund I died and, without a viable son to become heir due to either their taking of holy rites or mere dullness, dismantled the Empire and willed the throne of the Kingdom of Oren to be taken by his nephew Heinrik ‘the Warrior’ van Roy, who became King Heinrik I. Several years later, the continent of Anthos sank beneath the waves after routine floodings swallowed large swathes of land and forced the Rutherns, with the rest of the Kingdom, to flee to the Fringe, a temporary land mass where the descendants made home for a decade. The Fringe saw the bloodiest, most ruinous chapter of the history of the House of Ruthern that began with the death of the King. Oren Civil War [Fringe] Upon the death of King Heinrik I of Oren in 1456, Franz Josef Carrion, the thirdborn son of Exalted Emperor Siegmund and nephew of Heinrik, was proclaimed heir to the throne in the last will of the deceased king. Controversially, Franz had previously been High Pontiff (referred to as High Ecclesiarch at the point in time), under the name Radomir I, but abdicated his pontifical titles and returned to secular life as a Prince of the Kingdom of Oren. Franz was well known for his diplomacy and machinations and it was believed amongst the people of Oren that he would bring a more peaceful time after the abundance of war, raids and military actions of his predecessor. Despite his reputation, there were those from the nobility and clergy who were opposed to his crowning, chief among them the High Pontiff Regulus I and Archbishop John Jrent of Darfey. Regulus believed that it was wholly wrong for a Pontiff Emeritus to seek a crown, an act which was in violation with Franz Carrion’s own papal dictates, and grew paranoid over the quickened spread of Ruskan Orthodoxy, which Regulus and his predecessor High Pontiff Lucien II had already had to make numerous concessions for. As such, High Pontiff Regulus I delayed and avoided crowning Prince Franz Carrion as King of Oren for many months. Only the true High Pontiff may crown a King of Oren and thus Franz Carrion sought to circumvent the process by being crowned as King of Ruska by an anti-pontiff of his own choosing instead in the City of Vekaro. During his coronation, the Order of Saint Lucien being present took it upon themselves as a Holy Order loyal to High Pontiff Regulus I to arrest the anti-pontiff. They failed in this attempt when an attack on the fortress by minions of Iblees known as the Scourge began, forcing the Lucienists to deal with them rather than continuing their detainment of the false pontiff. Tensions grew when this act was misinterpreted as a failed assassination attempt and Regulus condemned Franz’ actions. After the denouncement of King Franz’ undertakings by those of the True Church, Franz proceeded according to his plan and issued a letter to Pontiff Regulus stating that he had defrocked his own anti-pontiff and wished to repent on the condition that the Pontiff enthrone him as King of Oren. King Franz Carrion would never see this come to fruition as the Archbishop John of Darfey, Chancellor of the Council of Bishops, had conspired with the leader of the Decterum and Lord Marshal of Oren, Count Ailred Ruthern, to depose King Franz by any means necessary. The Archbishop had supposedly offered Ailred the crown of Oren, a promise he had no power to give, and Ailred accepted. Feigning continued loyalty to his Ruskan liege, Ailred and his Decterum were granted entry into Vekaro where they began to stage their blood coup. Franz and those in his court, being Lord Chancellor Wilfriche Buron later to be canonised as Saint Wilfriche of Hanseti, Baron Lorethos Basileus, thirteen year old page Damon Kovachev, nine lowborn courtiers, and one priest, were killed by the men of the Decterum and Lucienists. King Franz Carrion was murdered by Ailred Ruthern personally with half-a-hundred stabs before he collapsed, only to be set upon by the other conspirators who mutilated him further. High Pontiff Regulus I disapproved of the betrayal that would henceforth be remembered as the ‘Franciscan Massacre’ of 1456 but appointed Ailred Ruthern and Commander Jack Rovin of the Order of Saint Lucien, amongst other notable leaders of Human factions, as a member of the Tetrarchs, a temporary regency council, as the Pontiff was unwilling to name a single successor to the throne to avoid further divides between mankind. At the same time, Velky-Strannik, roughly translated to Grand Knight, Fredek Royce of the Order of Stranniks, bastard son of King Heinrik I, was present in the royal castle in Vekaro whilst the Decterum and Lucienist forces killed all men present and loyal to King Franz Carrion. Fredek, upon discovering the betrayal, had the sense to remain undetected whilst he made his way out of the castle. Along the way he came across the boy Dederick Varodyr, who he whisked away to the relative safety of the Flay owned, Mount Augustus. Fellow surviving witnesses and the Raevir inhabitants of Vekaro had made their way to Mount Augustus also where they recounted Ailred’s treachery to any who would listen, earning Ailred Ruthern the moniker ‘the Turncloak’. Once Dederick Varodyr was out of harm’s way and reunited with his kin Tuvya and Boris Carrion, Fredek Royce rode back to his encampment of Stranniks where he ordered the men to rally up and climb atop their horses. Galloping back to the city, the Stranniks had the intention of reclaiming the city or, failing that, recovering the body of King Franz Carrion. Among their numbers was a Ruthern bastard by the name of Dmitri of the Dreadfort, thought to be a grandson of Ivan ‘the Seafaring’ Ruthern, serving as Borsa-Strannik, the second highest position in the order. Once inside Vekaro, the Order of Stranniks was met with more numbers than Fredek Royce had anticipated and after fighting for hours on end, the Stranniks were finally forced to retreat into a corner of the city. Knowing that there was little chance of success or escape, Fredek Royce, Dmitri Barrow and the remaining Stranniks made one last charge into the Decterum and Lucienist forces in a last ditch effort to break through their line in what contemporaries have referred to as a suicide charge. All of the Stranniks were cut down against the far superior numbers. Following the Franciscan Massacre and the final Strannik charge, Ailred maintained control over Vekaro for a number of weeks with reinforcements from the Order of Saint Lucien and warded off any attempts to reclaim the city. Dissent began growing within the ranks of the Decterum however, only exacerbated by the growing belief that Ailred Ruthern would not be crowned the next King of Oren and a general disdain for the extreme actions taken by him. Coming to a climax on the 11th of the Deep Cold, 1456, Ser Abner Rahl ‘the Red Crow’, the most veteran soldier in the Decterum, slay Ailred Ruthern. With the assistance of fellow Decterum knight Ser Rowan McHaryn, Abner assumed control of the Decterum as Marshal and turned the majority of the ordermen back to serving as Carrion loyalists which held Vekaro in their name. Despite their restored allegiance, the Decterum fought for neither side in the ensuing Siege of Mt. Augustus, instead focussing on reorangising the order. Ailred Ruthern’s son, Lyov Ruthern was proclaimed as patriarch of House Ruthern as detailed in a letter issued by Ser Abner Rahl wherein he also formally apologised for the actions of Ailred and the Decterum to the House of Carrion. The bodies of the fallen Stranniks, including that of Dmitri Barrow’s, were returned to the Carrion loyalists in Mt. Augustus and given the appropriate final rites before being laid to rest. Dmitri, for his role in the attempted reclamation of his liege’s body, was made Blessed and legitimised posthumously as Dmitri Ruthern. Tuvya ‘Rosebud’ Carrion, the baseborn half-brother of King Franz Carrion, prepared the defence of Mt. Augustus for the imminent siege that had been planned by Ailred before his murder. The usurping Orenian forces had bolstered their army with Urguani hordes and other non-humans (becoming known as the Zionists), beginning to surround the fortress. Days went by but the thick walls gave nothing and repelled the frequent attacks but the Carrion loyalists inside could only withstand so long with limited food and men, outnumbered four to one. Whether caught by surprise or due to having lost Ailred Ruthern, their most veteran commander, the besiegers were killed after the Carrion soldiers stormed out to meet them in a battle that came down to the wire. A Carrion victory left the future of Oren open ended and uncertain. Such was the case until a missive from the High Pontiff Regulus I made known that an apparition of the Exalted Godfrey appeared to him and his retinue on a pilgrimage to the ruins of the Imperial capital of Abresi. The apparition called for Peter Chivay to be crowned and reform the Empire of Oren. The Pontiff sent letters instructing the Chivay to return from Aeldin. He landed on the shores of the Fringe with the Order of the White Rose in tow where he was crowned as Emperor Peter I of Oren by Regulus. Emperor Peter made a truce with the Carrions under the terms that Boris Carrion, Tuvya’s son and thus grandson of Exalted Sigismund, be made a Prince with land for the Ruskans. For Ailred’s leading role in the Franciscan Massacre and Carrion overthrow, House Ruthern had little place in the Third Empire with the ire of all the Raevir peoples on them. His gamble for the kingdom had failed. As such the few surviving Rutherns lived in exile, thought to be extinct, until the days of Vailor. The last reminder of them, the Decterum, was disbanded in early Athera once a Carrion monarchy was thought secure again. Erochland and the County of Metterden [Vailor | Axios] In their exile, a descendant and namesake of Blessed Dmitri with his wife Emma gave birth to the twins Alric and Maric. Into their adolescence news reached across the waves of the result of the Dukes’ War and the Horen Restoration that saw King Guy de Bar assassinated and John Frederick Horen raised as Emperor John I of Oren. The twins set sail for Vailor and arrived years later to carve out a future amongst the relatively new Fifth Empire. The two found themselves shored up at the Province of Erochland, a place of great turmoil since its’ annexation, governed by Emperor John I’s son, Prince Alexander Louis. With opportunities aplenty, Alric and Maric stayed and pledged their services to Prince Alexander. Paramount amongst those under Alexander were the Colborns, a house whose rise to influence had been heightened when Carr Colborn had built the Duchy of Haense along with its Duke, Karl Barbanov, a Carrion descendant. Carr’s son, Osgod, continued the Colborn’s renown for exceptional service as he was both faithful to the Governor of Erochland and the Barbanovs still, who had found themselves building up another Northern state in the Duchy of Carnatia that acted as a rump state for the displaced Haeseni. Both Alric and Maric took spouses of noble stock in similar fashion to Ivan and Ailred’s tact over a century earlier. Alric was wed to Lopkaea Marbrand and Maric to Isabel Stafyr. Alric had only one child with Lopkaea, Joseph, whilst Maric and Isabel had a plethora of children, starting with the twins Dmitri and Marjorie that was quickly followed by Godric, Odette and Arik. Osgod Colborn, either having seen potential in them or to keep them loyal, parted with one of his Imperial titles, the County of Metterden, and bestowed it upon Alric Ruthern. Alric was an excellent warrior and commander, given the title in recognition of both his noble stock and his abilities to successfully manage the Southern Chapter of the Golden Corps in Osgod’s name. Alric was not a well man though, and suffered from bouts of depression and despondency that left him insensible at times. Coming to a culmination after a further breakdown in Alric’s mental state, he disowned his only child, Joseph, leaving him to take his mother’s family name, Marbrand. In addition, Alric left his wife and vanished, last seen having entered the dense woods outside of the Imperial capital, Felsen, never to be seen again. Alric’s twin brother Maric Ruthern became the next Count of Metterden in the fallout of Alric’s radical final acts. Maric, having the sense his brother lacked, made haste in restoring his estates and minor provinces, proving an effective replacement for his predecessor and would see his fortunes raised in the wake of Prince Alexander’s death. Osgod Colborn was raised as Duke of Erochland in view of the pacification and control of the island’s lands and peoples. Osgod’s obligations to the north had proven cumbersome and thus he appointed Maric as Lord Regent of Erochland, to rule the island when Osgod was otherwise occupied or absent. When the Orcish plague claimed all of Vailor, the descendants had no choice and fled to sail towards the Axios Isles. With Vailor lost, so too was Erochland. Maric had proved himself an apt Lord and regent, much to the satisfaction of Osgod who vouched for the House of Ruthern and Count Maric to King Petyr I of Hanseti-Ruska, a newly formed dual Kingdom within the Empire. King Petyr, a Barbanov, was the descendant of the last Carrions but forgave House Ruthern for Ailred’s role in the Fransiscan Massacre; the stain of regicide finally wiped clean. He welcomed Maric in as a vassal of Hanseti-Ruska and had the County of Metterden transferred under him, making Count Maric the first in a long line of Haeseni Ruthern. Maric aided as best he could in the build up of the new Highlander state until he came down with an unknown sickness that left him infirm. His sons Dmitri and Godric oversaw the construction of the defensible Ruthern castle Alriczan, so named in Maric’s brother’s honour, as they began to assume the responsibilities their father no longer could. It was not long after that Maric abdicated to his son and heir Dmitri. Dmitri, ever the ambitious diplomat, firstly accepts his disowned cousin, Joseph Marbrand, as a vassal beneath him, making him the Baron of Rostig and weds Sofia of the ancient Amador House. To consolidate the Ruthern power in Hanseti-Ruska further, Dmitri has his spouse’s family swear fealty to him until such a point as they proved themselves and were raised as Haeseni vassals under King Petyr I in their own right; an act which formed a strong alliance between the two. Dmitri continued to rule in the coming years as one of the more powerful Haense houses. Deep Cold Uprising and Aftermath [Axios] The most notable part of Count Dmitri’s life came in the Year of the Four Emperors. Emperor John III’s youngest son, Prince Philip Frederick, had been betrothed to King Andrik’s youngest sister, Princess Tatiana, but broke down soon after. To keep the union between both Houses intact, the Princess Royal of Haense Julia was matched with John III’s son and heir John Augustus. Prince John was cruel and bizarre, summarised by Ser Edwyn Harwyn who said “...His Imperial Highness has degraded to the point of sheer madness, cunningly brutal yet brutally cunning." Prince John was well known to have made numerous unsavoury comments about both his betrothed and Princess Tatiana, much to the contempt and vexation of King Andrik who began to grow disenfranchised with the Imperial Crown despite Emperor John III’s best efforts to keep the two conjoined. Andrik’s hatred for Prince John came to a peak when his father Emperor John III was assassinated and he rose to the Imperial throne unexpectedly as Emperor John IV at the age of 17 in 1585. A meeting was held between the newly installed Emperor and King Andrik II as was customary but historians since have spoken to the likelihood of it being used by Emperor John IV as an opportunity to insult and ridicule King Andrik. Regardless of the reasons, what is fact is that King Andrik, alongside his friend Margrave Brandon Vanir, did kill John IV only two months into his Imperial reign. Both claimed after that the Emperor was threatening and about to murder Andrik himself and thus the regicide was an act of self defence. King Andrik’s rebellion had begun and he made haste back to the north to begin fortifying the Haeseni border in preparation of the Crownland retribution that was to come. He bolstered the ranks of the strategically positioned forts and castles with his own men and blocked the path through the Greyspine Mountains, preventing any army from marching on the Kingdom of Hanseti-Ruska by land. As time went on, King Andrik’s vassals who had initially supported him grew restless. The Dukes’ War had only taken place two generations earlier and saw the ruin and exile of many Haeseni noble families for decades after. Not wanting to lose their status’ and wealth again paired with the promise of keeping a Barbanov on the Haeseni throne and offered clemency to any Lords from Emperor Philip I in his missive, the Olive Branch Petition, a number of King Andrik’s nobles rose up against him. The first of these was Count Sergei Kovachev, followed swiftly by Count Dmitri Ruthern. The loss of his top vassal’s support and strategic checkpoints, such as the Ruthern owned Greyspine Mountains, meant King Andrik had little viable option but to abdicate to his two year old son, Marus. As a consequence of his failed rebellion, regardless of its true origins, Andrik turned himself over to Imperial forces and was marched back towards the Palace as a prisoner. Emperor Philip executed Andrik by boiling him in milk. Brandon Vanir was captured in the same year by Imperial men and had his hand removed for his involvement in the regicide of Emperor John IV. The Emperor Philip’s word proved to be true as he kept his side of the bargain and allowed the Haeseni vassals to maintain their lands and keep Andrik’s son, King Marus I, on the throne of Hanseti-Ruska. Count Dmitri was awarded land in the Imperial crownlands also. Dmitri, alongside his brother Godric, make use of this almost immediately by forming a worker’s guild that operated in both Johannesburg, the Imperial capital, and Karlsburg, the Haeseni capital. Through astute management and a boom in the economy, Dmitri and, by extension, House Ruthern boasted one of the largest treasuries in Axios. Dmitri’s fortunes turned at the end of the 1500s however when his wife Sofia committed suicide that spirralled him into a deep rooted depression that absorbed the remainder of his life. The riches earned were spent in a matter of months and the worker’s guild’s steep decline into disuse and eventual closure saw Dmitri all but leave his family near destitute. Before the despondent Count could make matters worse, his son and heir, Boris, petitioned King Marus I in 1595 to give him his inheritance immediately whilst Dmitri still lived. Granting it, Boris became the 4th Count of Metterden. Boris’ time as Count was a relatively stable one with only a few unexpected surprises that arised. In his tenure he saw a succession crisis involving the related Marbrands and the Barony title that resulted in Boris seizing the lands and taking the title Baron of Rostig for himself. In the years after, he also arranged the marriages of his sisters, Adelajda and Aleksandra, to King Marus I and Stefjan Kovachev, Count Sergei’s grandson, respectively to maintain the pseudo-alliance formed and remedy any hostilities that may have lingered from the Deep Cold Uprising. Succession Crisis and the Great Northern War [Axios] Boris maintained a strong grip on the County with no challenges to his authority in his six years as Count, however the same cannot be said of any of his immediate successors. Boris never wed or had children, leaving his brother Viktor as the heir presumptive. Boris feared his brother’s competency and character though so created a will in secret to ensure Viktor would never receive his inheritance. In it he detailed that the County would instead go to a distant cousin Arik Ruthern. Tensions rose between the Kingdom of Courland and the Kingdom of Hanseti-Ruska in what is now known as the leadup to the Great Northern War. Count Boris is sent by Lord Palatine Lukas Vanir as the Haeseni agent to negotiate the release of the Courlandic Princess Annabelle Staunton who was being held under house arrest. He rode towards Aleksandria, the Courlandic capital, but was met outside the walls by Courlandic knight Ser Demetrios Palaiologos who killed Count Boris. Boris’ will came to light subsequent to his death and caused an immediate rift in House Ruthern between those that backed Boris’ brother Viktor’s claim and those that wanted to respect Boris’ wishes by supporting Arik Ruthern. King Marus I ruled in favour of Arik’s claim to the County and granted it to him which caused the disgruntled Viktor Ruthern and a portion of their kin, notably his uncle Adelwen Ruthern, to abandon Hanseti-Ruska and form a deal with the Kingdom of Courland, swearing allegiance to them in a declaration of fealty. Viktor’s side proclaimed they have been wronged and that Arik’s claim is illegitimate, naming him Arik ‘the Black’. Arik and his supporters denounced Viktor and the kin that followed him as traitors and cowards for siding with the Kingdom that murdered Boris. In the next year the Great Northern War broke out with Rutherns on both sides. A series of losses for Hanseti-Ruska, that came to a climax at the successful Siege of Vasiland that left no more viable defensive points for the northern kingdom, meant King Marus I had no choice but to capitulate to King Tobias Staunton. The former Haeseni lands are absorbed by the Kingdom of Courland with King Marus still laying claim to his titles but being forced into exile with any Haeseni who were unwilling to be beneath the subjugators. Ivan Ivanovich was proclaimed Warden of the North by King Tobias, to govern the acquired lands and keep the conquered Haeseni placated. Ivan died with no children and thus the infamous Archduke Franz Kovachev of Akovia was appointed Warden. With the Courlandic victory, Viktor Ruthern was awarded the County of Metterden in full by King Tobias for his support during the war. Viktor and his uncle Adelwen published the ‘Ruthern Restoration Act of 1604’, officially disowning and renouncing Arik’s claim on the Ruthern name, including lands, holdings and titles. Greyspine Rebellion [Axios] Count Viktor would only hold the title for three years before he died from an unknown cause. His son and heir, Joren, rose as the 8th Count of Metterden at the tender age of seven. Joren, under the guidance of his advisors, repealed the Ruthern Restoration Act of his father and appointed Vladrick Ruthern, a distant cousin and descendant of Ailred ‘the Turncloak’, as his regent. After a few years, House Ruthern took liberties as a vassal and took control of the County of Istria, a de jure part of Akovia at the time, much to the ire of both Archduke Franz Kovachev and King Joseph Staunton who had it declared illegal. Tensions rose between House Ruthern and the Archduke with levies raised at the ready to meet on the field until King Joseph summoned the two to meet before him in Aleksandria, Courland’s capital. It is unsure what actually transpired there but the end result was certain, the child Count of Metterden, Joren Ruthern, was killed alongside some of his retainers, and his kin, Adelwen Ruthern. Vladrick Ruthern was imprisoned, having survived the Massacre at Aleksandria. Count Joren, being eleven at the time, is remembered as ‘the Young’. Joren’s younger brother, Uhtred, became the new Count at the age of eight. House Ruthern was outraged and, under the regency of the Metterden master-at-arms Harren of Metterden, claimed that the Archduke of Akovia had orchestrated the massacre with the help of the King of Courland after Joren had arrived in good faith. In his letter ‘Courlanda Delanda Est’, Harren declared that the men of House Ruthern would start a rebellion to reclaim the Northern lands from the southern overlords. Thus began the Greyspine Rebellion. The Ruthern men combined forces with the House of Baruch, securing much needed numbers and validation that this was indeed the cause to unify Haense once more. Following back and forth raids and incursions into Ruthern and Courland lands from both sides, former Haeseni under the iron grip of Courland flocked to the rebel side and took up arms against the oppressive Archduke and King of Courland. In one of the ensuing raids, Vladrick Ruthern was freed and placed back as regent whilst Harren of Metterden remained his position as chief war advisor and commander. With word spreading across the continent, the exiled Haeseni returned with King Marus I’s son, Stefan Barbanov, at the head of them just in time to take part in the defining battle; the Second Battle of the Rothswood. Vladrick Ruthern and Harren of Metterden, alongside the key work of Count Otto Baruch, Lord Stefan Barbanov and with the support of the Kingdom of Lorraine, killed the mass majority of the Courland forces and ran the rest out of the North in an overwhelming victory that earned the rebels back their land. With the issue of who would rule the reconquered lands, the First National Duma was convened to elect a new King of Hanseti-Ruska. The three claimants were Count Uhtred Ruthern, Lord Stefan Barbanov, the son of deposed King Marus, and the unlikely Adolphus Vyronov, Baron of Rytsburg. After a constant back and forth between the parties supporting a Ruthern king and those supporting the return of the Barbanov royal line, the Ruthern claimant bowed out and gave his support to Stefan Barbanov who won in a landslide victory. He was crowned King Stefan I of Hanseti-Ruska. In the years after the Haeseni victory over the Courlanders and the re-establishment of the Kingdom of Hanseti-Ruska, Count Uthred Ruthern mysteriously disappeared; his body never found and no clues as to his fate. With Uhtred ended the line of Ruthern descendants all the way back to Ivan ‘the Seafaring’ Ruthern. Thus in their place, the descendants of Ailred ‘the Turncloak’ Ruthern arose as the new Counts of Metterden with Count Joren and Uhtred’s former regent Vladrick, taking the mantle. Vladrick’s tenure lasted twenty-eight years in what was a steady and consistent time for House Ruthern but a stoney, iron fisted approach to rulership. Supposedly Vladrick was an abusive father as well which earned him the moniker ‘the Cruel’. Vladrick was declared dead of natural causes on the voyage to Atlas. Stalwart Rulership [Atlas] This period was already extensively covered by an earlier set of Ruthern historians in that of the late Duke Maric L. Ruthern and Ser Alric ‘The Cavalier’ Ruthern in their early life. Such can be referred to within their original study written and attached here: Pair of Palatines [Atlas | Arcas] Duke Rhys, having outlived all his children, passed the mantle of Duke of Vidaus to his grandson, Demetrius Ruthern. Demetrius was appointed Lord Palatine at the age of twenty-three and served most of King Robert I’s reign. Demetrius retained his position through his marital ties and close friendship with the King rather than possessing a talent for it. Most of the work done during his tenure was done by his secretary and underlings in the Office of the Palatine with minimal oversight and approval on his part. His time was summarised by his contemporary Lerald Gambinoel in his recorded comment “if he was not the most competent placeholder known to our realm, I do not know who is.” He served as Lord Palatine and Duke of Vidaus until his death at the age of forty-two due to sudden ill health. For his apparent lack of hard work and abundance of freetime despite his ordinarily demanding position, he is remembered as ‘the Fowler’ because of the copious amount of time he spent hunting young wildfowl. Demetrius’ son and heir Konstantin became the 3rd Duke of Vidaus following his father’s death. He also ‘inherited’ his father’s position on the Aulic Council, rising to the rank of Lord Palatine at the age of twenty-one in the same year. He was the childhood friend, companion and relative of King Marus II which gave rise to the widely held opinion that he, like his father before him, only received the position out of bias and nepotism. He would only serve as Palatine for two years, failing to do anything meaningful in the time either because of the stigma against him or because he did not receive the position out of merit and had no knack for it. Regardless, Konstantin resigned from government and remained the rest of his life on his estates, opting to remain out of politics the whole time and in its place aid the church both monetarily and with deeds throughout the first half of the War of the Two Emperors. For this he is remembered as ‘the Pious’. He abdicated to his son Viktor in 1719, only to die suddenly the following year at the untimely age of thirty-four. Duel of the Hammerheads [Arcas] Following his father’s abdication and subsequent death, Viktor II Ruthern became the 4th Duke of Vidaus. He saw and led the House of Ruthern through the remainder of the War of the Two Emperors but failed to lift the stagnation of the House that had set in during his father’s reign. After the end of the war, he was wed to King Marus II’s sister Princess Mariya, following a mutually agreeable courtship. The two only had one living child, Sigmar, whose twin sister was stillborn much to the distress of his wife who had already been stressed with her husband’s growing disregard for his duties and estates while off galavanting for weeks at a time with no word as to where he was going. On one such departure, he disappeared for an extended time which placed worry in the minds of many and led to the start of the end for his marriage and the revoking of the duchy title. Mariya sought an annulment after this for Viktor’s marital negligence, supported by her nephew King Andrik III, but there were rumours she had been entangled in an affair with Prince Vladrick Alimar. In a rage at the news, Viktor returned to Reza and confronted his wife in a private meeting which he stormed out of some time later and berated her to the public as a harlot. A month following, Tuvya Ruthern, Viktor’s younger brother, met him in the Reza main square and openly challenged him to a duel for the position of Count of Metterden. Tuvya voiced his disapproval of Viktor’s actions and failures as Duke and Count, insulting him for losing the title. Viktor agreed to the fateful duel and after he received a fatal stab from Tuvya, he returned with a strike of his own and caved in the skull of his own brother with the House relic Ruther’s Hammer. This came to be known as the Duel of the Hammerheads and a precise example of House Ruthern’s kinslaying ways. Viktor, despite winning, survived only a few hours longer until he succumbed to his wounds and died in the Haeseni clinic. Thus, Viktor’s only child Sigmar became the next Count of Metterden at the age of four. Viktor and Tuvya’s younger brother, Konstantin, became Sigmar’s guardian and regent. Redeemer [Arcas] Sigmar set out on a pilgrimage at the age of fifteen but disappeared on it, to be remembered as Sigmar ‘the Lost’ from then on. With no reports of his whereabouts or news for months, Sigmar was presumed dead and thus his uncle, both his regent and heir presumptive, Konstantin became Count Konstantin II. Four years later, Sigmar reappeared but did not wish to reclaim his title and was content with his uncle being Count of Metterden. Unlike most Rutherns, Konstantin displayed a more patient and methodical way of approaching things which made him an apt student of the law, specialising in Haeseni and vassal legislation. Promptly after the deaths of High Justiciar Gerard Stafyr and King Andrik III, Konstantin assumed control of most of the Justiciar’s responsibilities, namely maintaining the first Haeseni law codex in a time when Hanseti-Ruska was experiencing a decreased level of autonomy beneath the Holy Orenian Empire. Once King Andrik IV assumed the throne he appointed Konstantin as High Justiciar. Throughout his career that spanned twenty-seven years, right up until his death, he served both King Andrik IV and his son King Sigismund II. His tenure focussed primarily on upholding Haeseni specialised law despite being a vassal at the time. Following his death, many of his originalist views have been studied in royal academies the likes of; the Royal Academy of Saint Catherine and the Royal Academy of Saint Charles. The time of Count Konstantin II saw the establishment of the Ruthern cadet branch, House Batavus. Started when the lands formerly known as Brunswick were sieged down in a matter of days by Ivan Ruthern, nephew of Konstantin, and a few of his companions. Following the heretical inhabitants' surrender, King Andrik IV granted Ivan the title of Viscount of Batavia which encompassed the taken lands in exchange for vassalising under him. When issues arose through where the land was situated, being removed from the rest of Haense, King Andrik ordered Ivan to cede the land and return to the Capital where he would gift him another parcel of land soon. Years went by however and no land was given but Ruthern-Batavus’ nobility and status was retained and Ivan was knighted for his many years of military service. More years went by and matters only grew worse when Orenian Emperor Peter III demanded that the nobility of Haense be more in Imperial control which King Andrik IV reluctantly agreed to which saw the Batavus nobility and title dissolved. Under Ser Ivan’s son Ruben, the cadet branch was eventually dissolved and absorbed back into the parent House of Ruthern. Konstantin and his wife, Katherine Stafyr, had four children - three daughters, the three sisters becoming better remembered as the Daughters of Metterden, and one son. Konstantin’s reign saw the Scyfling Invasion of Hanseti-Ruska which made Metterden a repeated target for Scyfling assaults and sieges. The first of these culminated in the kidnapping of Konstantin’s only son and heir, Aleksandr Ruthern. Being abducted by pagans and savages, most assumed that Aleksandr was dead which left Konstantin’s eldest daughter, Viktoria, as heir presumptive despite having wed the young King of Hanseti-Ruska Sigismund II two years prior. Warrior Queen [Arcas] Viktoria Ruthern, better remembered as Queen Viktoria of Metterden and ‘the Warrior Queen’, first rose to prominence through her marriage to King Sigismund II and the almost immediate start of the Scyfling Invasion following it. Viktoria lived up to her name by her overwhelming involvement in not only the Scyfling Invasion, where she herself commanded the defence of Metterden during a siege on it and remained a leader of the war overall, but also in the Boomhill Campaign and in the general workings of the Haeseni Royal Army where she became increasingly popular amongst the soldiery of Hanseti-Ruska. Her fearsome reputation was only made more intense when a Scyfling spear found its mark and slashed across the Queen’s face which led to the loss of her eye, a battle scar to match her moniker. After a near decade as Queen-consort, Viktoria’s father Count Konstantin II’s body was discovered in an abandoned Scyfling camp after the end and defeat of the Scyfling’s invasion. Konstantin, never having accepted that his only son was dead, had been patrolling former Scyfling owned sites for any sign of Aleksandr. Presumably he was killed when he stumbled across remnants of the deceased Scyfling leader Bralt the Boar’s army. With his death and still no sign of Aleksandr, Viktoria, as heir presumptive, inherited her father’s titles and estates. She became the first ever Countess of Metterden but also the first Queen-consort to hold a title in her own right which presented a plethora of issues. Having already given birth to Princess Nataliya and Grand Prince Josef of Kusoraev, the Ruthern titles would be absorbed into the Royal House upon her death. A larger problem arose three years later however when Viktoria’s husband committed suicide at the age of twenty-eight. Being pregnant at the time as well, her and King Sigismund II’s final son, Prince Franz, was born posthumously. Viktoria, now Queen-mother, aided in the transition of power to her son King Josef’s regency council as he was only a boy of seven at the time. In this time too did a solution to the Metterden succession crisis arise when her late father was proven correct when her brother, Aleksandr, returned alive and well and was declared the rightful Count of Metterden in Viktoria’s place. In the time after, Viktoria remained a prominent figure still as she went on to serve not only as Aulic Envoy but also as Deputy Palatine for a number of years. The Inferi War marked the downturn of the Warrior Queen’s fortunes when, against the wishes of her children, sailed on a Norlandic ship to join in the battle against the Damnable Host of demons. It was there that Viktoria lost both an arm and a leg but persisted still, going on in her stubborn way with two atronach limb replacements. In the next decade of her life Viktoria was plagued by her age catching up with her, making use of a cane and suffering the first of her heart attacks. She did not survive the next one and passed away in the palace gardens after attempting to train with her sword outside. The spar caused great strain upon her greatly declining health and, at fifty-one, she died with her sword in hand. Shaped by Scyflings [Arcas] In the time after his capture at the hands of the Scyfling warriors and his presumed death, Aleksandr Ruthern was raised amongst the invading hordes as a prisoner of war until he was rescued by the Haeseni sympathetic Scyfling tribe clan Volik. It was only after the defeat of the warlord Bralt the Boar and the relocation of those Scyfling people who wished to start a life in Hanseti-Ruska that Aleksandr was able to make his way back home with the droves of immigrants. Aleksandr’s homecoming presented a dilemma as he was the only son of the late Count Konstantin Ruthern which made him the rightful heir to the County of Metterden. Being thought dead for all those years, the title had passed to his eldest sister and Queen of Hanseti-Ruska Viktoria. Fortunately for all, Viktoria decided on the most prudent course of action to pass the land and estates associated with House Ruthern on. Viktoria, having willingly returned her titles to the rightful line of succession, ensured that the County of Metterden would remain as the seat of House Ruthern and thus Aleksandr, Viktoria’s brother, became the 14th Ruthern Count of Metterden. Aleksandr was swift in wedding the daughter of one of his Volik saviours, Keldra, whom he had fallen in love with during his time amongst them and together they had the twins Maric and Alric, named in memory of the first Counts of Metterden who were twins themselves, Sigmar, Amalia and finally Camilla. In the rest of his time as Count, Aleksandr became and served for the majority of his life as an Imperial judge, specialised in Haeseni law and its maintenance in relation to being a vassal Kingdom at that point in time. Aleksandr displayed a penchant for medicine also but explored it only after his tenure as Count. During the period of Aleksandr, the Count had been served by a number of Rutherns that upheld the title and the importance of house Ruthern in his stead, such as Ser Ruben Ruthern-Batavus, and furthermore Ser Boris Ruthern. In this period the house of Ruthern gained notoriety as a household of knights, with many thereafter committing to the Marian Retinue and the Order of the Crow. Upon the changing of the squirely trials by Lord Palatine Konstantin Wick, previously damaged by a reform under Sigismund II, Ser Boris was the first to complete these new trials and thereafter led the charge in helping to establish a new age of knighthood as the knight paramount that would see the knighthood enter into a later golden age. Ser Ruben would eventually be disowned after entering into a matrilineal marriage, whilst Ser Boris would go on to later die during the Rimeveld Troll War, having previously served in the Scyfling Invasion, Inferi-War, and the Sutican War. After a near twenty years as Count of Metterden, Aleksandr’s lack of stomach for politics and his declining health led him to abdicate to his fifteen year old son Maric on the voyage to the continent of Almaris. As Aleksandr went on to live unencumbered by any publicly known health complications or long lasting diseases for a number of years, well into his children’s late adulthoods, it is unsure whether or not Aleksandr thought he would die on the ship journey and if that spurred him on to abdicate. Regardless, Aleksandr maintained his intention and saw his son become the 15th Ruthern Count of Metterden whilst he retired with his wife Keldra and became a doctor until the pair of them disappeared. What became of them is unknown. Reclamation of a Duchy [Almaris] Where his father, Aleksandr, had been content, and to some idle, Maric was a breath of fresh life for House Ruthern; ambitious and politically minded. Maric also had the good fortune to have similarly go-getting siblings with his twin Alric going on, utilising his talent and skill with a sword, to become a crow knight and then later Knight Paramount during the reign of King Henrik II. Although he led the Haeseni knightly orders during a time when they were prevalent and effective, Alric is probably best remembered for carrying out the orders of his liege against the disowned princess Nataliya Reza where Alric performed her brutal execution via being burned at the stake and shot with a crossbow bolt. Maric’s other notable sibling proved not as controversial. Camilla Ruthern had a successful career as a Haeseni judge, known as a Jovenaar, for many years and is remembered as having been well suited to the role. Maric’s life is not as easy to summarise. In his debut into Haeseni politics and governance, Maric sat as a temporary substitute for his absent aunt, Lady Speaker Irena, overseeing the Royal Duma, the legislative body of Hanseti-Ruska. In the sitting, Viscount Fiske Vanir began to berate Anabela Vilac and the Bill on Lordship Reforms that she was defending. Unbeknownst to the Duma, the Bill had been primarily compiled and written by Count Maric himself. Maric expelled Lord Vanir from the sitting which caused an uproar amongst the other Lords and led to a walk-out. Outside of the Duma Hall, Maric challenged Fiske Vanir to a duel as a matter of honour over the incident and, after a short-lived fight, Maric proved victorious, beating the Lord handily. Baron Stefan Vyronov issued a subsequent challenge to Maric only to be beaten by the Ruthern Count as well. It is because of this event and his future reforms on duelling that Maric is remembered by the moniker ‘the Duellist”. Maric went on to wed Dame Anabela Vilac and together had Ailred, Antonina, the twins Harren and Tatiana, and finally Marjorie. Anabela died a decade later as a complication of her overwhelming alcoholism. Though he’d found his footing in the political spheres of Haense and had begun to make good headway, family issues arose not long into his time as Count. The son of former Count Sigmar ‘the Lost’, Erik, harboured Imperial sympathies which were at odds with the majority of the Haeseni peoples, including the majority of his Ruthern kin, ever since Haeseni independence a decade or so earlier. A heated argument broke out between him and Maric which resulted in Maric, as patriarch, prohibiting Erik’s wish to move to the Orenian Empire. When Erik disobeyed his wishes, Maric had little choice but to disown him, an act that Oren and Erik largely ignored but still formed a rift between the two branches that persisted throughout Maric and his son Ailred’s entire lives. Despite the familial tensions, Maric and his siblings had raised the importance of House Ruthern within Haense and thus King Josef of Hanseti-Ruska elevated Maric to the title Margrave of Greyspine after Maric had brought a large retinue to court asking to be raised a rank. In the years after, Maric served as Deputy Palatine beneath Lady Palatine Marcella Barclay and four years into the reign of King Josef’s son King Henrik II and the sudden resignation of Lady Marcella, Maric was appointed Lord Palatine of Hanseti-Ruska, a position he served in for the majority of the contentious rule of King Henrik as the voice of reason. One such incident that was spurred on by the controversial King was a scheme that has come to be remembered as the Wives’ Plot, a plot that was masterminded by Maric’s aunts Irena Sarkozic neé Ruthern and Elizaveta Tuvyic neé Ruthern. After the immensely unpopular execution without trial of King Henrik’s own aunt Nataliya, Irena and Elizaveta’s disdain grew and led to two begin their assassination attempt. A botched plan that had intended to see the two murder King Henrik in his palatial office but instead saw Irena captured by Haeseni knights whilst Elizaveta managed to escape. Despite having slipped into a coma after her arrest, Irena was placed on trial for treason and attempted murder of King Henrik II. She was found guilty, sentenced to execution by being hung, drawn and quartered. Her gory remains were sent to her husband in Oren. Elizaveta, who had escaped judgement for the attempted regicide, died in the same year from unknown causes in the County of Dobrov in the Orenian Empire. Fortunately for Maric and the other Haeseni Rutherns, both Irena and Elizaveta had been long retired from Haeseni society and lived in the Orenian Empire prior to the plot so were not seen as being involved with the rest of their family. After another decade of leal service to the Kingdom following the Wives’ Plot to ensure no stain remained on the Ruthern name as a consequence along with the fifteen years that Marc had served as Lord Palatine, Maric achieved his lifelong ambition. King Henrik II returned the ancestral title, the Duchy of Vidaus, as issued and confirmed in “The Lords Edict of 378 E.S” to Maric almost a hundred years after it had been revoked during the ruinous reign of Viktor Ruthern. This is attributed to Maric’s own long and credible service but also the appointments his own children had achieved in their own right with his son and heir Ailred becoming the Lord Marshal and his daughter Tatiana being made the High Justiciar. With his life’s mission complete and the re-establishment of House Ruthern as a powerful vassal and competent contributor to the Kingdom, Maric tied up any loose strings and unfinished works in his Office as Lord Palatine before retiring to the Duchy of Vidaus for the last few remaining years of his life. He spent his last five years in a glad quiet after securing excellent marriages for the remainder of his children to other prominent Lords, Ladies and Princesses which strengthened the House further. During this glad quiet, Maric remarried to Lady Caroline de Selm, fathering another daughter. The ageing Duke even took up a fascination with cooking and the culinary arts, regularly selling culinary goods and treats within the city of Karosgrad. Duke Maric Ruthern, after settling his affairs and ensuring the relative happiness of his children, or at the least attempting to, finally retired to his castle and away from politics, and died from a heart attack incurred with a charred fish in the oven. Legacy of the Brotherhood [Almaris] The life of Ailred Ruthern was dominated by his passion and skill for all things militarily minded. As soon as possible, Ailred enlisted in the Haeseni Royal Army and rose through the ranks due to his natural skill with a sword, being one of the best swordsmen of his age, and his innate commanding capabilities. In his early twenties he was promoted to an officer at the rank of Sergeant and was deployed to reinforce the Attenlund Expedition with a small force under his command. When he returned a year or so later, the then Lord Marshal Friedrich Barclay retired and King Henrik II selected Ailred to succeed him for the abilities he’d exhibited in the Attenlund. Before his departure to the Attenlund and long absence, Ailred had wed his childhood companion the Princess Fenika Lichte and in the time after he’d returned the two sired the first three of their children Mathea, Rhys and Sofiya. After his monumental rise, Ailred set about righting some of the army's weaknesses and shortcomings as he saw them, encompassing all his reforms in an overhaul of the entire army. He reformed the army into the 3rd Order of the Brotherhood of Saint Karl (BSK) to emulate a more traditional approach whilst also putting in place better book-keeping, aided by his implementation of his military censuses, and more standardised and effective training procedures and routines. In the same period, Ailred adopted a larger role in managing his father’s lands and estates whilst he also began to lead House Ruthern politically. Alongside his childhood friend and brother-in-law, Duke Ruslan Baruch, and other pre-eminent Haeseni nobles, namely Count Jan Kortrevich, Ailred’s other brother-in-law, and the Viscount Isaak Amador and Baron Hildebrand Mondblume, Ailred formed the Ducal Union, a political entity made to present shared values and views, especially on the rights of nobility, as a united front. The Ducal Union is accredited to have been the ultimate pressuring force that facilitated the passing of the Voron Edict which increased the responsibilities of the Lord Speaker role, held by Duke Ruslan at the time. More controversially, the Ducal Union was also publicly credited with having pressured the Haeseni Crown to demote the House of Barclay down to a County. Over the decade that followed, Ailred commanded the Haeseni forces in four wars; an unparalleled number in the most recent centuries. The first of these was a consequence of the Attenlund explorers unleashing an ancient evil - the Nachezer Parasite. The parasite, set free, began to collect bodies and hosts in the swamp before spreading east, into Haense proper, as an all-consuming tide. After the initial Nachezer assaults on Haeseni keeps and lands, most notably Vidaus and Valwyck, Ailred and the BSK led a string of counter-attacks and eventually destroyed the eastern threat by destroying their initial home in the Attenlund swamps. In the same time, Ailred was able to put an end to the decades long conflict with the Rimeveld Trolls, driven to fight the people of Haense by a lack of food in their frigid Northern home. At the end of war on the Nachezer and the conflict with the Rimeveld Trolls, Ailred’s father died of a sudden and unexpected heart attack which left him as the Duke of Vidaus. Having served as Lord Marshal for a number of years already and happily married to Princess Fenika, a woman of impeccable blood and reputation, with three children already, Ailred was in a remarkably well suited position to inherit the title and responsibilities. However, tragedy struck the newly minted Duke when his beloved wife died in childbirth to the pair’s last two children, the twins Grigoryi and Boris. For the next few months, Ailred was consumed with his grief that had sent him into a depression, one he never quite seemed to shake as it was noted when he returned to his duties fully that he was more of a cynic as well as temperamental. His first three children, although young at the time, harboured a deep resentment of their new siblings. The third of the wars Ailred fought was the Silver War against the Haelun’orian High Elves. The war had begun when a Haeseni fugitive, who had besmirched the honour of Prince Otto, had been tracked to the capital of the Silver State. After the King’s diplomat and Ailred’s brother-in-law was attacked by the denizens of Haelun’or and driven out of the city after he’d tried to negotiate an extradition, King Henrik II demanded compensation but when the reclusive High Elves refused to satisfy him he declared war against the Silver State of Haelun’or. This marked the first war against another descendant race since Haense had achieved its independence from the Orenian Empire. However, no major battles were ever fought during the Silver War as the Silver State lacked a conventional army and thus retreated behind their city walls to wait out the conflict. Ailred was however successful in leading a number of raids on their roads and on several occasions managed to infiltrate the city itself but never with a large enough force to take the entirety of the city. Despite this, the High Elven government refused to acknowledge the war for years, much less concede to Haeseni demands, despite the bloodshed. Unable to transport siege equipment so far across the sea, Haense was left with only raiding parties as its tool of war. The war lost considerable steam once it became clear the High Elves would not leave their walls, and as the years dragged on, token raiding parties patrolled the Haelun'orian roads to remind the Silver State of their ongoing feud. This lasted until the end of Ailred’s marshalship and into the reign of King Henrik’s son, King Sigismund III. The surrender of Haelun’or only came about when they had abruptly subjugated beneath the Principality of Savoy. Being another human Canonist nation, Savoy did not wish to be at odds with Haense, and by extension the Grand Kingdom of Urguan who had also been insulted by the Silver State. To remedy the growing issue, Prince Olivier of Savoy forced the Silver State of Haelun’or to surrender and admit their wrong doing whilst also paying Haense ten thousand mina in reparations and ceding Ando Alur, the only continent based land they owned, to the Grand Kingdom of Urguan. The last war that began whilst Ailred was still Lord Marshal was the Sutican Civil War which, despite having started after the Silver War, ended years before the war with the Haelun’orians. Sutica was inherited by Queen Johanna I, wife of the late King Georg, who were relatives of the Haeseni House of Barclay, and they were thus close allies of the Kingdom of Hanseti-Ruska. After Johanna's succession, however, one of her vassals - Filippos Komnenos, Baron of Trabzon - rebelled to seize the throne. Ailred marched the Haeseni forces, without receiving permission to do so, to aid the Sutican loyalists, in the Sutican Civil War. Ailred thought it prudent to march the army in the early hours of the morning as the rebellion in Sutica was announced, taking the force into an unoccupied Sutican strategic point; the Barony of the Rhein. This was done without Haeseni or Sutican assent, though such was later approved by the monarchs Henrik and Johanna, as letters were passed back and forth between the Marshal and the Queen. When the Sutican Rebels pushed in to take the keep, the Brotherhood’s forces along with the Sutican troops prevailed decisively over them in a remarkably quick victory which left the rebellion in ruins. Subsequently, the rebellion was demolished, their leaders executed, and the civil war ended in the space of a year thanks to the sharp-witted intervention of the Lord Marshal Ailred. Coming to the end of his tenure as Marshal, Ailred remarried over a decade after the death of his first wife and love Fenika. Ailred and his new wife Madalene, the youngest daughter of the Orenian Baron of Halcourt, had two children together, Angelika and Stefaniya. Ailred also chose to resign from his position as Lord Marshal, with the permission of King Sigismund III, fueled by the completion of the Silver War finally and the wish to spend time with his spouse and family. Ailred did however request and join the Marian Retinue as a knight, taking the moniker ‘the Prevailer’, as well as sitting as a Royal Advisor to the King. After a couple of years, Ailred abdicated to his son and heir, Rhys, who had already started his own family and had been appointed Lord Speaker of Hanseti-Ruska. The end of Ailred’s story starts with the initiation of the Sinners’ War. A war started by Emperor Philip II ‘the Fiddler’ between the Orenian Empire and the Grand Kingdom of Urguan that spiralled into a continental conflict when Emperor Philip III took the throne by dubious and kinslaying ways and exacerbated the issue by continuing the war against the Dwarves, who were satisfied with the death of Philip II, as well as failing to murder the High Pontiff Everard VI, schisming against the Church, and being excommunicated twice. Needless to say, the Kingdom of Hanseti-Ruska got involved to defend their allies and fight Oren, who were in a state of anathema for failing to remove their excommunicated monarchs. Ailred was appointed as Field Marshal for the war to command and lead the Haeseni troops during major skirmishes. In the first major confrontation of the Sinners’ War, Ailred was placed in charge of the Tripartite Accord soldiers and led them to the much celebrated and sung about victory at the Siege of Southbridge where the Orenian forces were outmatched and defeated handily. However, Ailred did not get to bask in his win. He had removed his helmet and held it up high with a celebratory shout as the remaining Orenian troops fled only to have a stray arrow from one of them shot into his eye which killed him on the spot. Hailed as a champion and remembered for his iron will and command as ‘the Steelheart’, Ailred became a modern hero in Haense with a huge state funeral put on when Edmund Barclay returned his body from the battlefield. Speaker’s Ride [Almaris] Ailred’s eldest son, Rhys, became the 7th Duke of Vidaus at the age of twenty-three when he abdicated. In his early childhood Rhys’ mother, Fenika, had died in childbirth to his twin younger brothers, Grigoryi and Boris, who he harboured a well known resentment for, labelling them murders and cursed. Although sharing his father’s temper, Rhys was no gifted swordsman or natural born commander which put him at odds with his father Ailred who tried to push him into a life of soldiering. Rhys displayed a proclivity to the more scholarly and literary with the only exception being his near obsession with the sport of jousting. He served as a ward beneath his uncle, Lord Speaker Ruslan Baruch. Ailred, despite his dislike for Rhys’ chosen path in life, arranged a beneficial betrothal, having him engaged to the daughter of Baron Robert Ludovar, Marie. While Marie was well known in the up-and-coming nobility, liked and agreeable, Rhys saw her as nothing more but as a platonic friend, a notion he struggled with after their betrothal was announced. Thus, Rhys grew close to other women in search of the lacking romance. It was not long until Rhys began an intimate relationship with the Royal Elephant Keeper and House Baruch servant Sanja Kutznetsov. Having not been subtle in their inappropriate relationship, Rhys put so much stress on his betrothal that it nearly collapsed when Baron Robert complained to Rhys’ father. The enraged Lord Ludovar wanted to terminate the engagement outright but came to a compromise when Ailred offered to take no dowry and Rhys ended the love affair. In spite of this though, Sanja’s first child, Zoran, was rumoured to be the bastard son of Rhys, a rumour that Rhys denied throughout his entire life. Zoran was the son of Rhys’ cousin Joren Ruthern instead, who had begun a short-lived affair with Sanja after Rhys had ended theirs. Almost immediately after the Sanja incident, Rhys was primed to become the next Lord Speaker after the death of his mentor Ruslan Baruch. King Sigismund III, the chivalric and honourable monarch he was, demanded before his appointment that Rhys redeem himself for the dishonour he’d brought on himself, his betrothed and Sanja. Thus Rhys was made to fight with the Marian Knight Ser Flemius until both of them were satisfied. He lost round after round against the far superior opponent until he was bloodied and beaten and the two women had seen enough. Afterwards, King Sigismund made Rhys the twelfth Lord Speaker of Hanseti-Ruska. Rhys went on to marry Marie Ludovar four years later and notably had a loving marriage from then on. Their wedding was an expensive affair with Rhys paying an outrageous amount to have a huge portion of land flattened and cleared to have an equally expensive tourney grounds constructed that hosted the two’s post wedding festivities. The prizes for the melee, joust and archery were similarly large. Together Rhys and Marie had four children - Viktoriya, the twins Dorothea and Mikhail, and finally Dmitry. At the same time, Rhys became the Duke of Vidaus upon his father’s abdication. Rhys served as Lord Speaker for the longest recorded tenure of any Speaker at twenty-nine years. Rhys put a greater emphasis on the subservient role of Grand Peer of being the Lord Speaker, a role which hones in on the maintenance of noble standards and traditions, one that put him at odds with Baron Sigmar Mondblume who wished to marry a commoner, even still when Rhys offered his own sister’s hand in marriage. The rest of Rhys’ long span as Speaker was relatively uneventful as he kept the Royal Duma running smoothly and efficiently for the most part with only a few notably turbulent sittings. The first of these was when his deranged cousin Joren disagreed on a minor Bill with the Lord Palatine Kaustantin Baruch and as a result stabbed him in the leg. Despite the major crime he’d committed and his immediate expulsion from the Duma, Joren was never even taken to court on account of Rhys’ father Ailred getting the case dropped with his influence on the government. Another such instance was the Duma Riot of 413 E.S where the commoner Simonei Barkov, a displayed farmer as a result of the war with the Orenian Empire in the Sinners’ War, began on a rant which accused the Haeseni leadership of failing the common people. When the chamber erupted in violence, the Royal family and Rhys were rushed out by the Brotherhood of Saint Karl and the chamber eventually quelled. Not all of the significant events in the Royal Duma during Rhys’ tenure were negative though as he was the Lord Speaker who oversaw the momentous passing of the Karenina Accords which allowed for equal succession rights based on gender, otherwise known as absolute cognatic primogeniture. In Rhys’ personal life, limited as his free time was, was spent mostly riding and jousting. Considered one of the finest jousters of his generation, Rhys won several tourneys including the Reinmar Joust at their chief oathing ceremony as well as a number in the capital city of Karosgrad and in his own lands for which he is remembered as ‘the Rider’. Rhys’ love for the sport was not only limited to participation but the hosting of them too which he did often and many times for an assortment of reasons such as to commemorate his own wedding, the heroic death of his father and purely for fun. Most of his tilts came with large prize money, so much so that when paired with the expense of constructing the Vidaus tourney grounds and purchasing a number of horses, Rhys near emptied the Ruthern coffers in their entirety. Desperate to maintain his lifestyle and support his family, Rhys abused his formatting and writing skills to begin to make hundreds of fraudulent copies of an esteemed artefact of Anthos. He also gifted them frequently to different people, namely as a coronation gift to King Karl III, to save money rather than to spend a large amount on some new item or relic. In time, Rhys was extremely successful in making back the Ruthern fortune but had flooded the global auction house with the forged artwork and completely debased the value of them all as time went on. His legacy of counterfeits exists to this day wide and large. Rhys’ shadily acquired rebound in wealth did little to help him though when his beloved wife Marie died in a tragic accident. Crushed by a falling chandelier after she’d pushed the future Queen Amadea of Susa out of its way, Marie died in Rhys’ arms after the two had shared a dance only moments before at the Palace festivities. In his anguish over her untimely death, Rhys drank heavily and without pause, so much so that it began to take a toll on his health and work. Thus when King Sigismund III died and his son became King as King Karl III, Rhys retired from his post as Lord Speaker and the following year abdicated to his son, Mikhail, citing Marie’s death and his sudden illness as his reasoning. Rhys chose in his last years alive to complete the outdated Tome of the Rutherns by documenting the missing centuries as well as rewriting the original pieces that had been lost to time. After its completion, Rhys died in his own bed in Druzstra Castle of his long persisting illness and a disease that sweeped through the entirety of Vidaus, one that also claimed the lives of his cousin Joren and his niece Zoya. Incumbent [Almaris] Duke Rhys’ son and heir Mikhail was by all official accounts an odd child, frequently mentioned in the tabloid of the time, the Hearsay of Hanseti-Ruska. Mentioned to be cruel and unusual, Mikhail was known to lambast his mother and sister’s whilst his father was busy in the capital. He was, reportedly, so far removed from normal life that his best enjoyed pastime was burning animals alive like that of his own pet bird that went missing. The true nature of this rumour can be summed up by the emotional outpour of a mere child and a drumming up of nonsense by the media of the time. Mikhail went on to become a well adjusted adult. Whilst his father was still Duke of Vidaus and in one of the first public outings of Mikhail, what came to be known as the Ruthern Barclay Feud broke out. The feud can be traced back to one event in particular; the Lifstala Presentations. The Lifstala, otherwise known as the Haeseni social season, that year saw Mikhail named the Nikirala Stag (the foremost bachelor) for that season and his twin sister Dorothea named the Ruskan Rose, the female equivalent of the Stag. Mikhail’s good fortune did not last though when one of the judges, Duke Johann Barclay, demanded that the title be taken from him after learning that Mikhail had insulted two of his family members prior. As a knee jerk reaction, the fifteen year old Mikhail took insult and began to berate the Duke and his titular title of Prince of Sutica as well as doubling down on insinuating that the two Barclay girls he’d insulted before were wenches. When Duke Johann demanded an apology and compensation from Mikhail’s father or he’d enter a house feud with Ruthern, Rhys responded with an insulting and rash public letter back where he challenged the House Barclay to a duel of skill between their five best fighters and House Ruthern’s five best fighters as was lawful in the Haeseni lawbook. Thus began the Ruthern Barclay Feud. Duke Johann however, angered and marched a five time larger Barclay retinue into the Duchy of Vidaus and up to the castle gates of Druzstra and nailed into the stonework his own response that challenged House Ruthern to an uncapped fight when Duke Rhys refused him entry and to adhere to his blatant one-sided terms. Whilst the argument between the two continued on what kind of remedy should be found, the House of Barclay attempted to dissuade other Haeseni Houses from aiding Rutherns in any capacity and tried to involve sympathetic Houses to their side should an unchecked conflict have broken out. Outraged, Rhys and his son Mikhail took the two issues to the Royal Duma where they had the Duke Johann’s actions condemned for their lack of honour and near illegality, especially the marching of a private army onto a fellow vassal’s land. With the two Houses at each other's throats, the Crown was forced to step in and impose onto them a five versus five as Rhys had initially suggested. Held within the Grand Arena in Karosgrad, the five Ruthern duellists, Duke Rhys, Mikhail, Joren, Siegmund and Vladimir Barrow, successfully bested the five from House Barclay. The matter settled, House Ruthern and House Barclay came to agree on Mikhail’s demands after Rhys gave him far more responsibility and acknowledged his primary role in winning the feud. House Barclay apologised for starting the feud and for the marching of an armed force into Vidaus and swore never to bear arms in Ruthern land ever again. The final condition was the commemorative ring that was commissioned and paid for by House Barclay, an item that is now one of the House relics passed down from House head to House head. Mikhail went on to wed Margrait Baruch at the age of twenty after the union had been arranged between his parents, Rhys and Marie, and Duke Eirik Baruch and his wife Duchess Anastasya. In similar fashion to his father and mother’s ceremony, Mikhail and Margrait held a large tourney. The two went on to have six children together - Aleksandr, Vladimir, Adelajda, Milena, Kazimir, and Klemenita. In the same period of time, Mikhail’s siblings Dorothea and Dmitry wed Prince Josef and Princess Maya respectively. Four years after their wedding, Mikhail became the eighth Duke of Vidaus upon his father’s abdication. He also went on in the following years to become a Sergeant in the Brotherhood of Saint Karl and then the first Grand Lord of the Royal Hanseti-Ruska Court, where all his predecessors had been women since the position’s inception. Mikhail’s reign as Duke saw the founding of the Vidausian town, Branhavn. Although constructed during his time as Duke, it was in fact Mikhail’s son and heir, Aleksandr, who was the chief architect and led the project by and large with the aid of his great aunt Angelika Ruthern. This was all done following the empowerment of Haeseni vassals and the allowance of vassal towns as a direct result of a push in legislation by Duke Mikhail and his kin Lord Speaker Maric. Traditions of House Ruthern Duel In the past of House Ruthern, it was often family tradition to kin-slay one another and squabble amongst themselves. Whilst the culture has since died with most now considering internal feuds to hinder the family rather than aid it, a new tradition grew from the duels of the past. This is that of the predominant coming of age ritual in the Ruthern family that, by the age of sixteen, to go out into the world and prove themselves through a duel. It is generally frowned upon to not partake in the duel, as such is a cowardly trait. One would rather lose than not fight at all, afterall. When the youth has returned from their duel as a victor, it will generally be celebrated with a large family feast. A Ruthern may still prove their mettle in other fields such as debate at the will of the Patriarch, though it is surely preferable to do it through that of a duel. Foreign Expedition Another tradition rooted in the military heritage of the Rutherns. As their raiders once did traverse the world to seek fights, glory, and gold, now too do their descendants travel the world, albeit with less violent intention, but rather in search of enlightenment and learning. It has become customary for the young Rutherns to spend a year in a foreign nation, what they do there is largely their own choice. The more military-minded may pick up a new fighting style, the more diplomatically-inclined ones may learn of the foreign culture, and so on and so forth. Surname In a reminder of their Ruskan Raev roots, Rutherns still utilise the particle var or vas which are masculine and feminine respectively. Not only is it used to suggest those of noble stock but also of their proud and long heritage which dates back to the days of Crowsmarche in the 1200s. For instance, Rhys var Ruthern means ‘Rhys son of Ruthern’. House Relics* Ruther’s Hammer The most iconic relic of House Ruthern. Ruther’s Hammer is the legendary hammer used by Ruther Barrow and helped him earn his moniker ‘Bonebreaker’. It was lost during the voyage to Atlas for some time until Rhys I, Duke of Vidaus, found it in a shipwreck years later. A symbol of House Ruthern’s origins, power and resilience. This, along with Ivan’s Cross and the Tome of the Rutherns, makes up one of the most important relics of the House. Tome of the Rutherns A tome containing the entirety of the Ruthern bloodline and its history. Originally authored by the Ruther Barrow’s second son Yaroslav, it has been kept updated by dutiful Rutherns for hundreds of years. This, along with Ruther’s Hammer and Ivan’s Cross, makes up one of the most important relics of the House. Ivan’s Cross Made from the mast of his famous ship by Ivan var Ruthern, grandson of Ruther Barrow, to signify his end to piracy. This, along with Ruther’s Hammer and the Tome of the Rutherns, makes up one of the most important relics of the House. Ailred’s Armour A set of armour of the Decturem. Ailred, Count of Caven and Lord Marshal of the Decturem, wore this armour when he betrayed and murdered King Franz Carrion of Oren, distant kin of House Ruthern and son of Exalted Sigismund. Ring of Ruthern A thick golden signet ring depicting a Reinmaren eagle skewered by a pike. Made and paid for by the House of Barclay after House Ruthern emerged victorious against them in a House feud started by the heir to Vidaus, Mikhail Tuvya, in the reign of Duke Rhys II. *Relics are ranked in order of importance to the House. Heads & Consorts of House Ruthern Ruther Barrow | m. Unknown Founder of House Ruthern, Lord Reaver of the Fleet of Bones Boris Ruthern | m. Unknown 2nd Lord Reaver of the Fleet of Bones @seannie Ivan Ruthern | m. Unknown ‘The Seafaring’ Marquess of the Crimson Isles, Baron of Hammerspoint and Saltridge @SirSnowMan Ailred Ruthern | m. Unknown ‘The Turncloak’ Count of Cavan and Visegrad, Lord Marshal of Oren, of the Decturem, Protector of the Eastern Seas, and Lord Reaver of Ruska @seannie Blessed Dmitri of the Dreadfort | m. Unknown Staunch supporter of House Carrion, blessed for his actions to enact vengeance for his Liege Lord’s death at the hand of Ailred Ruthern. Died in a charge to save the corpse of his liege, Franz Josef Carrion. --- @seannie Alric Myakovsky Ruthern | m. Lopkaea Marbrand Count of Metterden, Commander of the Southern Gold Corps, Lord of Averheim, and Protector of the South @whiteferrarii Maric Dmitri Ruthern | m. Isabel Stafyr Count of Metterden, Captain of the Southern Gold Corps, Lord of Averheim, Lord Regent of Erochland, and Protector of the South @RideTheSky Dmitri II Viktor Ruthern | m. Sofiya Amador Count of Metterden, Lord Protector of The Spine, Grand Meyster of the Order of The Golden Gryphon, and Lord of Alriczan @max. Boris II Nikolas Ruthern | m. Unwed Count of Metterden, Baron of Rostig, Grand Marshal of the Order of the Edelweiss, Protector of the Pass, and Lord of Alriczan @whiteferrarii Viktor Alric Ruthern | m. Cecily Amelie Horen-Vimmark Count of Metterden, Baron of Rostig, Protector of the Pass, and Lord of Alriczan @Tibertastic Joren Vladrick Ruthern | m. Unwed ‘The Young’ Count of Metterden, Baron of Rostig, Protector of the Pass, and Lord of Alriczan @Tibertastic Uthred Dmitry Ruthern | m. Unwed Count of Metterden, Baron of Rostig, Protector of the Pass, and Lord of Alriczan --- @Ticklem0nster Vladrick Rhys Ruthern | m. Margret Rykov ‘The Cruel’ Duke of Metterden [title abolished], Count of Metterden, Baron of Rostig, Protector of the Pass, and Lord of Alriczan @Imperium Rhys Vladrick Ruthern | m. Angelika Vanir ‘The Stalwart’ Duke of Vidaus, Count of Metterden, Baron of Rostig, Protector of the South, Lord of Helmholtz, and Lord Marshal of Hanseti-Ruska @RideTheSky Demetrius III Tuvya Ruthern | m. Amalie Caunter ‘The Fowler’ Duke of Vidaus, Count of Metterden, Baron of Rostig, Protector of the South, Lord of Helmholtz, Lord of Ivans Hall, and Lord Palatine of Hanseti-Ruska @Security_ Konstantin Demetrius Ruthern | m. Aaliyah Vallberg-Rovin ‘The Pious’ Duke of Vidaus, Count of Metterden, Baron of Rostig, Protector of the South, Lord of Helmholtz, Lord of Ivans Hall, and Lord Palatine of Hanseti-Ruska @Kanadensare Viktor II Sigismund Ruthern | m. Mariya Barbanov ‘The Young’ Duke of Vidaus [title revoked], Count of Metterden, Baron of Rostig, Protector of the South, Lord of Helmholtz and Lord of Ivans Hall @Imperium Sigmar Otto Ruthern | m. Mariya Vanir ‘The Lost’ Count of Metterden, Baron of Rostig, Protector of the South, Lord of Helmholtz and Lord of Ivans Hall @FireCrimson Konstantin II Joren Ruthern | m. Katherine Stafyr ‘The Redeemer’ Count of Metterden, Baron of Rostig, Protector of the South, Lord of Helmholtz, Lord of Ivans Hall and Lord Justiciar of Hanseti-Ruska @Zaerie Viktoria Sofiya Ruthern | m. Sigismund II ‘The Warrior Queen’ Queen-consort of Hanseti-Ruska, Countess of Metterden, Baroness of Rostig, Protector of the South, Lady of Helmholtz, Lady of Ivans Hall and Deputy Palatine and Aulic Envoy of Hanseti-Ruska @AndrewTech Aleksandr Leopold Ruthern | m. Keldra Volik Count of Metterden, Baron of Rostig, Protector of the South, Lord of Helmholtz and Lord of Ivans Hall @GMRO Maric II Lyov Ruthern | m. Anabela Vilac, Caroline Selm ‘The Duellist’ Duke of Vidaus, Margrave of Greyspine [title abolished], Count of Metterden, Viscount of Greyspine, Baron of Rostig, Protector of the South, Lord of Druzstra and Lord Palatine of Hanseti-Ruska @louislxix Ailred II Joren Ruthern | m. Fenika Morovar, Madalene Halcourt ‘The Prevailer’, ‘Steelheart’ Duke of Vidaus, Count of Metterden, Viscount of Greyspine, Baron of Rostig, Protector of the South, Lord of Druzstra and Lord Marshal of Hanseti-Ruska @Nolan_ Rhys II Mikhail Ruthern | m. Marie Ludovar ‘The Rider’ Duke of Vidaus, Count of Metterden, Viscount of Greyspine, Baron of Rostig, Protector of the South, Lord of Druzstra and Lord Speaker of Hanseti-Ruska @indiana105 Mikhail Tuvya Ruthern | m. Margrait Baruch Duke of Vidaus, Count of Metterden, Viscount of Greyspine, Baron of Rostig, Protector of the South, Lord of Druzstra and Grand Lord of Hanseti-Ruska Other Notable Members Yaroslav Ruthern Original author and keeper of the Tome of the Rutherns Anne Kovachev neé Ruthern Queen-consort of Akovia Elizabeth Barbanov neé Ruthern Duchess-consort of Haense Adelajda Isabel Barbanov neé Ruthern Queen-consort of Hanseti-Ruska Tatiana Elizaveta Barbanov-Bihar neé Ruthern Queen-consort of Hanseti-Ruska Elizaveta Roza Barbanov-Bihar neé Ruthern Queen-consort of Hanseti-Ruska Aleksandra Sofiya Alimar neé Ruthern Grand Princess-consort of Muldav, Baroness of Antioch Ser Ivan ‘the Protector’ Ruthern-Batavus Viscount of Batavia, Crow Knight of Hanseti-Ruska Ser Demetrius ‘the Young’ Ruthern Crow Knight of Hanseti-Ruska Ser Boris ‘the Persistent’ Ruthern Knight Paramount of Hanseti-Ruska Irena Ceciliya Sarkozic neé Ruthern Lady Speaker of Hanseti-Ruska Ser Alric ‘the Cavalier’ Ruthern Knight Paramount of Hanseti-Ruska, Champion of Hanseti-Ruska Harren Anastasyus Ruthern Ambassador to Oren, Electoral Commissioner of Hanseti-Ruska, Monsignor Tatiana Lorina Kortrevich neé Ruthern Countess-consort of Jerovitz, High Justiciar of Hanseti-Ruska Sofiya Antonina Ruthern Kossar of the Order of Queen Maya and the Lily, Acclaimed Artist Maric Baruch né Ruthern Duke-consort of Valwyck, Lord Speaker of Hanseti-Ruska
  5. Music to listen to while reading my book A HISTORY OF The Goldhand and Grimgold Grudge. By: Voryn A’Daragon OPENING STATEMENT This is a History of the Goldhand and Grimgold Grudge, which details their long lasting feud stretching back several hundred years. Both clans can trace their lineage back to the “Line of Tungdil”, a famous dwarven lord who was known for his love of children and ability to make gold faster than any other dwarf. The Grimgold Clan are the descendants of the older son of Tungdil, while the Goldhand Clan are the descendants of the younger son of Tungdil. Their rivalry is that of a sibling rivalry. The Goldhands were a more successful clan than the Grimgolds, and were granted “Elder Status” for their services to Urguan. The Grimgolds, on the other hand, did very little of note until their Clan Father, Glod Grimgold, took over power of the Clan. FIRST ERA GRUDGE In the year 689 of the First Era, the first signs of the rivalry had begun. Bumble Goldhand, a Cheese Merchant, had fallen in love with the beardling Blod Grimgold. Unfortunately, the Clan Father of the Grimgolds (whose name is lost to time, as he was irrelevant), forbade the marriage. Bumble was enraged. He went to his Clan Father (Thoak Goldhand), and told him that the Grimgolds had refused the marriage because they “Would not marry a disgusting Shithand”. The Lord Thoak then killed almost the entirety of the Grimgold Clan. The Goldhand’s believed that their ancient enemy was now slain. Unfortunately for them, (and fortunately for us, as will be discussed later), several Grimgolds were away on their ker wife finding missions. As a side note, the Grimgolds are known in the Dwarven Kingdom for taking “Dark Elven Concubines.” To the Goldhands, a lot of the Grimgolds are not even dwarves. They are considered Dark Elves. One of the Grimgold’s that survived was known as Klouf Grimgold (Not to be confused with Klouf Grimgold). Klouf was a famous warrior, and took the survivors to live in caves. That is not an insult to dwarves - many of them actually live in caves (insane). Klouf had several warriors in his retinue. Thorin Grimgold, Bombur Grimgold, Gimli Grimgold, and most importantly of all, Thorin ‘the other Thorin’ Grimgold. Thorin ‘the other Thorin’ Grimgold will now be discussed. Thorin ‘the other Thorin’ Grimgold was the Captain of the Ship called the Fist of Dungrimm. He was a famous pirate, adventurer, and explorer. Thorin ‘the other Thorin’ Grimgold had slain dragons, fought in countless battles, and most importantly of all - had a dark elven mother. This allowed him to look conventionally attractive, while retaining the brute strength of the dwarves. He carved out his own island kingdom known as the “Grim Isles”, where a subsection of the Grimgold Clan fled to. There, they engaged in dark magic, cannibalism, and created quarter dwarf, quarter ker, half pig hybrids. Thorin ‘the other Thorin’ Grimgold soon became an accomplished wizard. He studied for many years, perfecting the craft of organic transmutation. Soon, the entirety of the Grim Isles was full of his creations. Gone were the descendants that one lived there, replaced by the abominations of Thorin ‘the other Thorin’ Grimgold. Thorin ‘the other Thorin’ Grimgold then found the Sea-***** Witch known as Elsa. Understanding his power, the Sea-***** Witch known as Elsa gave Thorin ‘the other Thorin’ Grimgold the power to create skin-walkers from his creations. His former clan members were now cursed with the ability to skin-walk, and took any form they wanted. Klouf Grimgold had heard of this dark magic, and he sailed to the Grim Isles. It was there a legendary fight took place between Klouf Grimgold and Thorin ‘the other Thorin’ Grimgold. While historical records show that Klouf Grimgold had won the battle, who is to say that Thorin ‘the other Thorin’ Grimgold had not won and simply skin changed into Klouf? For the academic purposes of this book, we will take the argument that Thorin ‘the other Thorin’ Grimgold won the battle. This is because skinwalkers have difficulty keeping the shape of a face. The Grimgolds typically wear masks, and are most likely the Skinwalkers that plague Almaris. When Thorin ‘the other Thorin’ Grimgold, disguised as Klouf, returned to the mainland he was greeted by his clan members who stayed behind. Slowly, he turned all of the Grimgolds into Skinwalkers who could take the shape and appearance of whatever they wanted. The Goldhands had magic. Thoak Goldhand was blind, but he could see. When the Grimgold Clan had returned, Thoak began to exterminate them. Unfortunately, Skinwalkers are crafty. Several of them became attached to his Clan as well, and thus the Skinwalker menace had spread between the dwarven clans. Thoak, with his magical eyes, could sense the skinwalker presence. He would strike down those he thought were skinwalkers, including his own son (also named Thoak). It was then the remaining true dwarf Goldhands held a meeting. The “True” Goldhands held a meeting. Thoak told them that they had to come up with a cunning plan: to become Grimgolds. The meeting erupted into chaos. But then, they realised this was wise. So they immediately all put on the armor of the Grimgolds. The former Grimgolds under Thorin ‘the other Thorin’ Grimgold became Goldhands. For several hundred years, the Grimgold Clan was actually the Goldhand Clan - and vice versa. The Skin Walking Grimgolds were able to take the appearance of anyone they wished. The Goldhand Grimgolds remained in hiding, far away from the political intrigues of the dwarves. This is where it gets interesting. This is a fragment from a piece of pottery I found. I will put it in quotes. “I heard a tale once from a strange fellow deep in the desert. They spoke of this Temple which worshipped the Skinwalkers, who believed they would bring about the end of the world. I thought him mad! He only laughed at me.” “Four legged dwarves, with bat wings would attack those in the desert. These were the Grimgolds (not the Goldhand version). As he discussed that they existed and that they were worshipped by the nomadic desert folk, a group of them attacked us.” “We fought them off as best as we could, but the desert nomad was carried off by these Grimgolds. I cursed them, (as I was a powerful wizard with access to many magics), and they forgot that they were Skinwalkers).” As this fragment shows, it was common knowledge that four legged bat dwarves roamed the world, and attacked travelers. These four legged creatures were, obviously, Grimgolds - yet the Grimgolds are disguised as the Goldhands. Does this mean that the Goldhands were the bat creatures, or the Grimgolds? The author of this book believes that these were the Goldhands from Thoak. Thoak had incredible magical powers, and was able to use his magic vision to make others see what he wanted them to see. Thus, the Goldhands were the bat people - but they were also disguised as Grimgolds at the same time. In the year 894 First Era, the old tales were forgotten. The Grimgold Clan had vanished, and the Goldhand Clan became powerful. During that gap of history, it is unclear what had happened. I met a drunk dwarf who told me that Torsun Goldhand, Clan Elder of the Goldhands in the Year 88 of the Second Age, was actually Thoak Goldhand who had turned himself immortal. It is possible, therefore, that the Goldhands had reclaimed their true lineage and cast out the Grimgolds. Unless, of course, that Torsun Goldhand (Thoak Goldhand) is a skinwalker who is actually Thorin ‘the other Thorin’ Grimgold. Due to the Goldhands being known traitors to Urguan, I believe this is the case: The current Goldhand Clan are the Grimgolds. However, almost all of them have forgotten their ancient powers due to the curse - save for Thoak Goldhand, aka Torsun Goldhand (real name Thorin ‘the other Thorin’ Grimgold). Regardless, all one has to know to understand the current standing grudge in the year 88 of the Second Era is this: the two Gold Clans hate one another. Be it from an ancient same sex marriage that failed, the skinwalker saga, or due to the Goldhand’s claiming elder status over the Grimgolds. We will now begin the tale of the “Second Era Grudge”, and move away from the First Era. THE SECOND ERA GRUDGE: Song link for Second Era In the Second Era, the Goldhand Clan is led by Conan ‘No-Shirt, No Pants’ Goldhand. The Grimgold Clan is led by Glod ‘Godborn’, Grimgold. This book will now discuss both men in depth. (Note: I have not met either of them). Conan ‘No-Shirt’ Goldhand is a senile old dwarf. He routinely burps, farts, and shits his way out of anything important in Urguan. It is said that his clan member Tholgrim (or whatever he goes by now), holds up cue cards for Conan when he is delivering speeches. The important clan activities are done by three dwarves. Hekkaes Anvilhammer, The Iron Baron (needs no introduction, as he is known for having bad teeth and unable to comprehend the common tongue), and “Torsun Goldhand”. Torsun is put in quotes as, most likely, he is Thorin ‘the other Thorin’ Grimgold. The three shadow leaders of the Goldhand Clan, therefore, are not even Goldhands. Conan, weak and feeble and unable to do anything to stop this, has been forced to agree to their demands of a Clan War. Glod Grimgold, on the other hand, is considered the strongest, wisest, and most powerful dwarf in Urguan. What he says is deeply considered by every single dwarf. While his clan are made up of lackluster nobodies, Glod really shines. Glod was (and perhaps still is) worshipped by humans for his apparent divinity. While Glod has outright refused these claims, he has still earned the title of “the Godborn”, due to his unwavering loyalty to the Brathmordakin. Glod is a famous Senator, Commander, and Battle-Hardened Warrior. Compared to Conan, one would wonder why the Goldhands would dare oppose him. It all goes back to the First Era grudge: The Elder Status of the Gold Clan. Should it go to the Grimgolds, or to the Goldhands? The challenge was issued. Glod was unable to attend the meeting (or felt it was beneath him), and sent a lowly beardling to attend the meeting. This beardling insulted the Goldhands, by openly declaring that the Grimgolds were the trueborn sons of Tungdil and that the Goldhands were not even true Goldhands. He demanded they vassalize under Glod. The Goldhands laughed in the face of the envoy of Glod. They cut his manhood off, and took his tongue out. They demanded that the Grimgolds admit they are the bastard clan of Tungdil, and that they need to pay them twenty five thousand minas. In addition, they wanted the land the Grimgold’s owned. The Goldhands and their vassal clans the Ironguts and Irongrinders marched to war against the Grimgolds. They killed many of their men in the field of battle, overwhelming the poorer clan through sheer numbers. Glod and his clan sought refuge with the Jungle Dwarves. Glod, fearing that the dwarves under his command would be killed by the potential skinwalker clan, sought out a truce. They would pay the money, help the Goldhands acquire new land - but they would not denounce the fact that they are the sons of Tungdil. This is where the history ends - as it is still ongoing. This is a deep look at the psyche of the dwarves, and why they attack one another. Honour, duty, and greed. Signed, Voryn A’Daragon, Master Historian.
  6. A Recounting of the Inferi War Battle of the Arts, Blast from the Past Submission Princess Esmae Bint Saqr Al-Nabeel The past flew away from her like the desert sands she loved so, grasping at memories that are long gone as the elder woman often wondered what could have been different. The desert heat had always been a dear friend to the Princess. The sands clung to her, a comfort in even the hardest times. How she missed them now. The image that stood at the forefront, even as she grasped at others, not wishing to remember, was always the Inferi War. It always began like a feverish dream, blurry and unfocused until it became so clear, she could swear that she was there all over again. ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------ Night had come to the Sultanate and Elmirah Esmae bint Qamar Al-Nabeel had found herself at the side of a man she found herself coming to love. He wouldn’t have been the first to ask the Sultan for her hand in marriage and what she wouldn’t know was that he wouldn’t be the last either. The man, lanky and tall, seemed to know her well despite their brief chats. A gift of a telescope, sitting within the Al-Faiz square, large and gleaming, and all for her. Esmae has always been a scholar, and for a woman that was often logical and often found herself feeling nothing, her heart thumped oddly against her chest. That night, she stood at the telescope beside a man who’s name she could not even remember all these years later and looked to the stars. -- That was the night it all began. How the sky twisted and shook, streaks of color flashing past it. It mesmerized those who watched, the timing so impeccable as right as she pressed herself to the telescope, it began. A year of darkness followed. Sunlight unseen during this time. There were times she tried to remember what the desert sun felt like, all too cold within the warmth of her sands. If only that was all, she could have lived with that but it wasn’t. -- Reports of a camp outside their home came in, attacks on their soldiers. And so the soldiers went, they’d fight and they’d lose. Inferi, they called them. Demons of all sorts, large and small. Some akin to bugs, others akin to people. At first, the woman was excited. She spent so long studying scorpion venom, architecture and other odds and ends. She could be a true scholar now, doing what she wished to do all along. Study creatures. And so an order was put out, seemingly simple enough. Get the Princess a creature to dissect and study. Until one is had, she’d visit every settlement, every nation and interview those who encountered them. Learn their numbers. Their strengths. Weaknesses. And yet, with each interview, something new always came. Larger numbers. New types of creatures. More dead. A day had come, a chance to be able to study one of these beings. Soldiers surrounded the bridge, a creature upon the middle in its last throes of life as it was brought down. The Princess was too late. An Inferis body never stayed long, it is why she was never able to study one before. The soldiers thought it dead but she knew better from the gathered information. She’d shout out, scream but not soon enough. The Inferi exploded. Soldiers dead, curious civilians dead. That excitement of being able to study something new, it died. How she wished to go back to the days of studying scorpions, of collecting books but that wasn’t to be. -- The war continued. Groups, nations and the like had come and gone as they’d attempt to stop these beings from taking over. As those lost, the Inferi would set their sights on Al-Faiz after each group gave their attempt and more would die. There came a time when she begged, an odd sight for a Princess, for these groups to stop. The Inferi grew more powerful with each death, let us plan, let us not give them strength. It was for naught. -- The man that was with her at the beginning, he was there for some time. And she can remember still the face of another man, one she’d come to truly love, who she’d given a tour during that first month of darkness. Despite everything, the death, her family being torn asunder, she’d begun to find love. -- Time went on, battle after battle fought. Family member after family member dead. She once had a large family. The family reunions growing up were always chaotic and fun, how they’d visit Sutica in their vacation home. Host feasts within the palace. Her family now dwindled to but a few. Her friends she’d come to love and care for, only one remained. And yet, it wasn’t enough for the Inferi. It never was. -- That final battle or what she thought to be, was the worst. Ferried to an island, meant to wait with the other women and children, as their men and soldiers, allies and friends fought for their city. Her cousin dead. How she loved him dearly. Babies taken. Her people enslaved. What little people escaped, she tended to in the clinic, desperate as her gaze went over each face. They weren’t there. Very few were there. -- Plans were made at camp. Esmae provided what knowledge she had, shared her notes from experience, from the interviews she’d taken. The first man, the one she could no longer remember the name of, he’d disappeared before the final battle. Perhaps dead or perhaps cowardly. The second, she planned with and shared the occasional smile. A light in the ever-pressing darkness. And so the men went once more, the Princess kneeling upon the hard ground as she prayed. How she prayed. It should have been simple, a reconnaissance mission. But the soldiers, the men, they saw a chance. Inferi guarding a caravan. It should have been supplies, for all intents and purposes, nothing gave it away as anything else. But as the caravan lit, flames crackling and smoke drifting, the screams of women and children sounded. Slaves of the Inferi, the Princess’s people, the Qalasheen burning alive. -- The secret wasn’t kept. The man she loved told her and she had to tell her cousin. Her cousin's baby was taken in the chaos. How her lovely daughter may be dead. Broken, hope draining, she whispered broken words to the man she loved. Of forgiveness. That next day, her cousin's body was delivered by wheelbarrow. Jumped from the roof, the soldiers said. And still yet, she tried. For her people, her family, the man she loved, her friends. -- Amongst this all, what had been meant to be a light in dark times, a figure approached the Sultan. He asked for her hand in marriage, only to be given a trial, one seeming near impossible: “Free the Qalasheen and you may marry my Niece.” Against all odds, against every loss, every death, everything her people had been faced with, the trial had succeeded. A great mission, people freed. The motion of using bolt cutters to free her people from their chains will forever echo through her ears, her heart, her mind. -- Yet, it had always been said a Farfolk woman will have troubles of the heart. A story as old as time. Against all odds, a fisherman freed thousands of slaves and gained the permission to marry the last Princess of Al-Faiz. Her cousin's daughter, found within the arms of an elderly woman against all possible doubt. Hope. Finally, there was hope. Happiness bloomed, and as he called her aside, a smile formed only to dampen, heart stuck in her throat. He’d gotten a woman pregnant. And for that, they cannot marry. -- And so she’d lost her love. Her family. Her city. Her friends. She’d tended to the injured and sick, waving away a freed man who followed her, insistent on repaying a debt. -- She walked the desert sands once more. Felt the heat of the sun. And yet, everything was different. Her home in ruins. Her people starving, exhausted and traumatized. How she wished to be studying scorpions. To be leading tours of Al-Faiz. Running away from guards for a moment of privacy. For life to be so simple once more. These memories blew away like the sand, falling through her fingers as she looked out at the sandy hills of a new land, eyes blurred and unfocused. ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Upon seeing the Blast of the Past theme, I had to! The RP on her was all very intense, and the Inferi war was something in history. Thank you to any who read this!
  7. The History of the Pyramid Eittitica ( A painting depicting Kharajyr refugees discovering the pyramid ) As it is told, a small band of Kharajyr fled from the east of Almaris during the 6th decade of the Second Age. The incessant warring between Men and Dwarves had rendered these lands chaotic and treacherous. In response, these Kharajyr chose to abandon their homes within Urguani territory and venture out into the heart of Almaris. Their last remaining elder was charged to guide his kin during their journey. This was the Leparda known then as Xote'Keidha. He and the rest of the self-made refugees spent the following months following the moon's path across the sky. They hoped its spirit would lead them in their search of a more peaceful existence. In the land of Elysium, sheltered beneath the dense forest canopy, sat an ancient ruin. It was a pyramid of unknown origin, choked by foliage and crumbling with indeterminate age. It had laid dormant and hidden before its discovery by the Kharajyr band. The refugees noted the inherent defensibility of the great structure and admired its isolated location. Thus, it was decided that this place would serve them as their new home. Years were spent building upon the platforms and repairing the stonework as they saw fit. By the time that any other had learned of their existence there, the ancient pyramid had been transformed into a small, functional settlement. The settlers had also renamed this place Eittitica after the old Kharahatla word for “trio”. Keidha, who still led these Kharajyr, would also take this word as his surname. He had become Ri'Keidha Eittitica, First Aelkos of the Pyramid. However, it seemed peace was not to last in the west either. The bloodthirsty horde of Krugmar could no longer stand to be idle and broke their treaty of peace by launching a surprise incursion into Elysium. Keidha, who had always preferred neutrality in any conflict, was spotted traveling close to the Elysian capital by these invaders. Believing him to be an Elysian citizen, the Orcs captured him as a prisoner of war. His incarceration proved to be short-lived, however, as the few Kharajyr living under Orcish rule allowed his escape after being endeared to him. Witnessing the cruelty of Krugmar firsthand was enough to reinforce what harsh opinion was already held by the Aelkos of Eittitica. So, in the 74th year of the Second Age, when an Elysian delegation approached to make first contact with the Pyramid and petition for their cooperation, Ri'Keidha Eittitica did not hesitate to pledge support for the cause. He believed aiding any resistance against Orcish aggression would be necessary to ensure future prosperity for his people. The two cultures fought side by side throughout the next four years of warfare. Despite the small settlement's support making little difference in the conflict, a solid bond was formed between Elysian and Eittitican. The Pyramid even stood as a fortified refuge to shelter the unfortunate souls fleeing the pillaging of the Elysian capital. Each of these events culminated finally in the meeting taking place on the 4th of Malin's Welcome, during the 78th year of the Second Age. An oath was spoken on this day atop the apex of the Pyramid of Eittitica. With this, the Kharajyr had joined with Elysium, becoming their vassal officially.
  8. The Destruction of Yong Ping A Series of Unfortunate Events [Image credits go to myself, see more of my work here!] [!] At the beginning of the book is a woodblock print frontispiece detailing the Great Wave at Yong Ping. In the twilight years of an era, time again proves that the brightest flames burn the shortest. Written SA 77, 4th of the Amber Cold In dedication to the Jade State of Yong Ping THE FIRST TREMORS It was quiet as any day in the recent years, trade had traveled to other cities in the wake of various conflicts to the north, and then the fall of Varhelm cut port traffic with our allies now residing inland in Alisgrad. I was tending the Monastery grounds when the first tremors hit, small - almost imperceptible at first. My suspicions were not yet aroused until the second set of tremors a month later. The goat herds in the outer farms flocked to the city walls, and the bison fled to hide in the mists of the western forests. In my youth, I had heard tales of what earthquakes by the sea could foreshadow - and though our beloved bastion Yong Ping was built to be reinforced after the last tsunami, built to resist sea and siege, it was better to be safe than sorry. THE FIRES Preparations were made to temporarily evacuate the walls. Even if the city survived, there was no guarantee that the structures would protect us from the calamity to come. Arrangements were made with Talon’s Port that our people could temporarily find steading while we waited out the storm, and our museum collection a place to be stored until the storm had passed. It was a strange twist of fate then, that as the last of evacuations were made and the city of Yong Ping for the first time since its construction had stood still and quiet - with only the crackling of flames that consumed the land. It was said to have started as a house fire, perhaps a stove or an oven left carelessly in the hurry to evacuate. Whatever the cause the flames climbed the walls, devouring all in its path to scrape at the heavens. SUSANOO’S WRATH The inferno was at its peak when the last travelers on the roads to Talon’s Port said they felt a tremor unlike any before, and looked back to see what Yong Ping had both the honor and dire misfortune to witness this twice in its time. Susanoo’s wrath, a tsunami growing from the dark and stormy sea stretched to blot out the very sky and raging towards the shore. It was a spectacle of both beauty and terror. The city weakened, eaten away by the devouring flames, there was next to nothing left when the wrath of the ocean waters finally subsided. THE FIRE’S REPRISE Early scouting parties were naturally dumbfounded when they found what they had expected to be a sodden city to be nothing more than kindling for a fresh fire. What ruins remained were slowly consumed by what was surely an intentional fire, though by whom it can not be said. Any and all attempts to suppress the flames were unsuccessful until the third day, at which point there was naught.. only the most bare of salvage left to retrieve. At the very least, the land will be fertile for whatever comes next. AFTERMATH It has been a year since Yong Ping fell back into the earth, and our people now reside in Talon’s Port once more, welcomed and one as part of the community. Li Xiu-ying had in true human fashion hopefully named our city Yong Ping, “Eternal Prosperity”. It was a beautiful idea, one that gave hope to many like myself who believed our culture would never have a place beyond our homeland. The truth however, is more than we could have hoped for. Heng-Soe, “Prosperity and Adversity” - for we are more than the lands we steward, we are a people defined by richness of self no matter the circumstances. From forests since burned Fresh life begins anew, Look! See the flowers bloom Signed, Tianrui Ren, Soldier, Poet, Zhu OOC:
  9. The Sylric Bloodline “Bilok, taelu, evar.” (To make, to learn, to protect.) Sylricean Coat of Arms History Through the Realms Attributes, Personality & Culture Sylrics are known to be hardworking, determined and very focused at everything they do, whether that is being a soldier of the Ivae’fenn or taking up a role among the ranks of the Bilok’thuln. Thus, many would consider them more serious than other bloodlines, contrasting the notably carefree Tathvirs. However when asked a question, Sylrics tend not to think too long or hard about an answer to it and tend to blurt out what comes to mind and leave it at that. They are known for being rather straightforward and to the point. Despite their often brash behaviors, Sylrics tend to be kind and respectful towards their kin. The Griffin, their sigil, perfectly reflects a Sylric’s state of mind: loyal, noble, and determined. Physical Traits & Characteristics: With all of their hard work, Sylrics tend to be muscular, with a strong, bulky, but well-built build to them. Known also for their great strength, Sylrics tend to be the tallest among the Snow Elves and have grey to blue eyes. There have been rare occurrences of emerald eyes as well as amethyst eyes. They typically have white to silver hair, but there have been some with blonde hair. Professions & Specialities: Because of their industrious capabilities paired with their larger builds, the Sylrics are often seen lugging large quantities of raw materials to-and-fro around Tahu’lareh--the fruits of their labour. Thanks to this reputation, Sylrics often find themselves seated among the Grand Council filling the position of Head of the Bilok'thuln, also known as the Grand Exchequer. It is not uncommon to see a Sylric mining or working in general, providing the Princedom with all that is needed to thrive. Alongside this reputation of being hard workers, the Sylrics have a reputation for being good craftsmen and craftswomen, creative and otherwise progressive thinkers, and scholarly patrons; their expertise spanning a wide variety of professions. Many take up blacksmithing due to the extensive family history of smiths contributing to war efforts and defenses. When not working on their craftsmanship, nearly all Sylrics participate within the Ivae’Fenn: the military of the Fennic people. Due to their fierce loyalty, many seek higher positions within the ranks of the Ivae’Fenn, frequenting Vanguard and higher ranks. Sylrics have also been known to serve as military advisors, favored due to their blunt honest nature paired with their calculating mindset. Style of Combat: Because of their mighty physiques, they are often on the front lines during times of war. Their weapons of choice often include longswords, greataxes, or warhammer and a shield, though other types of weapons are also used. To stare down a Sylric upon the battlefield is no comforting feat, as their strong posture, large size, and choice of weaponry makes for an intimidating sight. Sylrics tend to wear heavier armor so that they can last longer on the front lines, much like most soldiers of the Ivae’fenn. When a siege is taking place, Sylrics are generally manning the siege engines, specializing in their craft and operation. Family Tree: https://www.familyecho.com/?p=ILKTR&c=9ul46u525g&f=935319104124893412 Ceremonies: Wyrvun’ahern - Ceremony of the Newborn When a new Sylric is brought into the world a special Ceremony is held called, Wyrvun’ahern, translating to Wyrvun’s Blessing. This ceremony celebrates the life that Wyrvun will bless upon the child, whether it be a life dedicated to soldiering or to working hard. A feast is held accompanied by festive music and dancing. Bilok’ihnsil - The Coming of Age Ceremony When each and every Sylric reaches the age of 30, a coming of age ceremony known as Bilok’ihnsil, is held to prove that they can be truly called a Sylric. This ceremony is much different then Wyrvun’ahern as it is a trial of the child’s skills that they have to offer the bloodline. Each child must venture outside of the walls of the Princedom and forge themselves their own personal weapon. They must gather all the materials themselves and by themselves alone. No help shall be offered to them. They must build their own forge and use what they gather to create a beautiful piece of weaponry, whether it be a greataxe, a warhammer, or even the smallest dagger. When they finish and feel that it is worthy of the Sylric name, they are to return to the Princedom and present it first to their father and then to the patriarch of the Sylrics. Once their weapon is approved by both their father and the patriarch then a hunt is held to test the durability of the weapon. A feast is then followed, provided by the spoils of the hunt. As the feast ends the patriarch approaches the child, presenting him the Sylric Insignia, to be branded on to their weapon as well as stitched onto their cloak. This is to mark that they are now a true Sylric. Some at this time opt to receive a tattoo of their first kill with their weapon, as a commemoration of the start of their journey as a Sylric. Politics: Throughout the Snow Elven years and all the conflicts they faced, the Sylrics have tended to be on the front lines of all major battles. Their thoughts on other Elves are complicated, as centuries of battle waged against them has hardened the opinions of some Sylrics against their Mali’mira cousins. A Sylric will marry out from other elven subraces, but they try to stick more toward the Snow Elves and their culture. Be this as it may, they are generally a more accommodating people. Notable Members: Thandir Sylric I - Founder of the Sylric Bloodline Ailduin Sylric - Founder of the Bilok’thuln, Patriarch of the Sylric Bloodline Velatha Sylric - Sister to Ailduin, Medic and former Commander of the Ivae’Fenn, Matriarch of the Sylric Bloodline Rythel Sylric - Elder member to the Sylric household, skilled artisan, weaponsmith and member of the Bilok’thuln Airebys Sylric - Founder of the Fennic Institute of Higher Learning, Deputy Exchequer of the Bilok’thuln, esteemed scholar and Guardian to the Ivae’fenn Heirlooms: Gostatha - Great Sword of Ailthidon Lercuvanten - War Axe of Thandir I Hadhafang - War Hammer of Agis Daedheloth - Battle Axe of Amaranthea ((Anyone who wishes to join the Sylric Bloodline, contact EnderMaiashiro, via the forums, in-game, or discord [EnderMaiashiro#7430]))
  10. Arrival of Clan Kazimir Przybycie Klanu Kazimir Preamble Years ago, the La Waevra Clan was formed by Chieftess Rebeka la Waevra in the Kingdom of Norland. The clan was later dissolved about 15 years later, with the death of Rebeka la Waevra. While much of the family still remains, living predominantly in the Kingdom of Norland and Duchy of Rozania, they are no longer considered a clan. The changing of the names, and the changing of a leader, a new journey for all. A Long Past In 26 SA in the Kingdom of Norland, Rebeka la Waevra, a Norlandic native herself, had officially formed the la Waevra Clan. Consisting of her family and close friends, now bannermen, she embarked out of the Kingdom of Norland to the South to find riches as well as a safe place to settle and help rule. She first held her clan in Sutica, with a large house there that could house all the members. Many dinners were held there, and she made many connections to places near her, The Barony of Rhein and Sarissa. After some time, she began helping those in Sarissa to build a new settlement closer to the North, and near good friends of hers in Yong Ping. Whilst she assisted in building a small Duchy with the Duke William Buckfort, she had laid the foundation of a strong and long-lasting dynasty. Trouble would however find her with the Sedanian and Savoyard’s banditry and the subsequent forced conversions of herself and her kinsmen in the Duchy of Rozania. With the Rozanians crippled, morally and physically, the treacherous Canonists continued their banditry and slaughter. Eventually, with that, the sadness of her daughter Sionnach's engagement to an undead, and the death of her first husband Lomiei, Rebeka was led to take her own life. This impacted the Clan significantly leaving all members shocked, and distraught, and within her final will she requested Clan la Waevra be dissolved. This also dissolved all partnerships, alliances and official documentation between many close groups of the clan, from all over. Leaving her Norland shop to her daughter Leyna. Leyna moved to Norland, and moved much of the remaining members of the clan to a home there. After much debate, Leyna decided that it would truly be best for them to stay a clan, and attempted to relight the candle which her mother blew out. A New Beginning Leyna, the eldest of the La Waevra’s is taking the torch inevitably passed to her. Continuing her legacy, and helping those who feel lost with the death of her mother. She would like to continue on, leading as her mother did. Better perhaps, and having a truly strong, united, peaceful family. From this day forward, the woman who is to continue this path will now be known by the name Leyna Kazimir. This new name, Kazimir, means peace-bringer in Rozanian language. This is due to the kindness, and objectivity that makes them good writers, diplomats and knowledge seekers. They still have a fighting will, and strength paired with their mediation skills which make them ideal leaders. Shall those in the Kazimir Clan persevere and remain strong, in this time of change. All of the La Waevra’s shall now use the name Kazimir, as a show of strength for the changed Clan. Clan Kazimir of The Kingdom of Norland. A strong group with hearts of warriors, brains of scholars, personality and relations of diplomats, and the soul of readers and writers. Where Rebeka first started, Leyna shall now continue, a full circle.
  11. A Missive to Scholars & Writers The Great Crest of the Northern Geographical Society Est. 1762 ✵ The NGS is Now Hiring! ✵ The Northern Geographical Society has found itself in need of writers for a multitude of our exhibit displays. While we take great pride in publishing most of our works internally, there are a number of studies which we have still yet to finish. Aas our organization continues to expand and grow, we have found there to be a need to produce more studies on a variety of different subjects to fill our museums and supplement the work of our own scholars and writers. Thus, we have elected to pay such individuals 50 MINAS PER STUDY from a select list that is submitted to and approved by our Chief of Research, Tanith Vursur, or to Director Elizabeth Brae-Wittenbach. The subject matters in question include the following: Cultural Studies: Urguan - An in-depth analysis of the Dwarven culture and way of life to supplement our existing displays on the Dwed people. [AVAILABLE] Haelun’or - An in-depth analysis of the High Elven culture and way of life to supplement our existing displays on the mali’aheral. [AVAILABLE] The Kharajyr - An in-depth analysis of the Kharajyr culture and way of life. [AVAILABLE] Crowns of Haense - An in-depth study into the Crowns of Haense. The Biharist Crown, Andrian Crown, and the Boyar Cap especially require examination. [AVAILABLE Geographical & Miscellaneous Studies: Ancient Coins - A thorough study on the history of currency in Almaris, namely of the mina in ancient times and those currencies used by various countries throughout the ages. [AVAILABLE] The Athera Expedition - A written, in-depth description of the explorations of Athera by both the Kingdom of Haense and the Holy Orenian Empire. [AVAILABLE] Lands of Haense - An in-depth study into the lands of Haense including Karosgrad, the surrounding countryside, and the kingdom’s Crownlands. [AVAILABLE] ALL STUDIES MUST BE PRESENTED IN AN UNBIASED, WELL ARTICULATED MANNER. Incoherent or biased academic works that do not meet the high standards of the Northern Geographical Society will not be afforded compensation. All books must be at least 15 pages long, but may be greater in length to suit the subject matter or material. If interested in authoring some of these works, please send a bird for more information to Tanith Vursur @Urahra or Elizabeth Brae-Wittenbach @AndrewTech. Thank you for reading this missive!
  12. [!] A fresh pamphlet is pinned to the Bramblebury notice board! The Rise and Fall of the Halfling Republic A History of the Halflings from 1786-1818 By Chapter VI: How Liberty Dies 1814-1818 To the biggun observer, the decline of the Halfling Republic was not plainly obvious in 1814. Even most halflings were not fully aware of the drama that had been going on between our outgoing Elders, nor of the incidents with Elvenesse. As is our nature, most of us preferred to keep busy with more cheerful things such as birthday parties, tavern-going, and bakery days. While my wife Kerraline and other friends of mine had made me aware of some of the village’s problems, these were all things I thought could be easily remedied, especially once I became a village Elder. It could be argued that one advantage of the three Elder system in the 1806 constitution was that the village was always guaranteed to have three different opinions on every matter. However, as was exemplified by the events of Peregrin-Goodbarrel-Hassenfort years, this was often as much a curse as a blessing, but it did mean that, unlike with the Mayoral elections, a Peregrin running did not automatically exclude everybody else from winning. I knew I at least had a chance in the Election of 1814. ~A Poster Promoting Winter Gardner; 1814~ In the years preceding the 1814 Elder Election, my friend Winter Gardner and I had discussed running for Elder rather frequently Though it was not an official or public partnership, we intended to serve as Elders together, and ran on fairly similar platforms that implied slight support for conservatism when in reality our beliefs were more in line with Goodbarrelian Democracy. After the young Jordan “Jorts” Applebottom, grandson of Sheriff Meemaw Applebotom, and Filibert Applefoot announced their candidacies, both myself and Winter saw it as an absolute imperative that at least one of us made it on to the Council of Elders. Though our rhetoric at the debates, which were moderated by High Pumplar Jeanette Applebottom, was far less dramatic than our thoughts; we did believe that this election was a battle for the village’s very soul. Filibert was a known Bernadist and had never been terribly interested in politics to begin with, James Peregrin tended to speak and act more like his cousin Onelia than his adoptive mother Iris, and Jorts was, in my opinion at least, simply too young and inexperienced to be involved in the government. I didn’t think too much harm could come from one or two of them sitting on the council, but a council composed of the three of them would surely mean the end of the republic. ~A Poster Promoting Jordan Applebottom; 1814~ Despite the unpleasant political climate of the time, the debates were not particularly heated. There was some argument over how the village should move forward in its relationship with Elevenesse, as well as a rather crackpot proposal by Filibert to tear down entire sections of the village in order to make it more compact. In the interest of keeping it all civil, however, little to no discussion was had regarding the issues faced by our predecessors; our solution to the village’s more serious problems was decidedly to avoid them. Though it was not openly discussed, it seems much of the village was aware that the Election of 1814 would be a consequential one, as evident by the fact that it had the largest turnout of any election in Bramblebury’s history. It also proved to be a very close election, which, much like the Sheriff race in 1797, ended up with a tie that had to be broken. Even before I learned anything about what had occurred behind the scenes of this election, I had noticed the somewhat flawed nature of the system. Unlike in the 1797 constitution, where the votes were counted by the Thain who was only allowed to vote in the event of a tie, in Elder elections the votes were counted and ties broken by the outgoing Elders. Aside from the obvious issue that would arise from an Elder running for reelection, the fact that the Elder candidates were closely related to the outgoing Elders meant that, in the event of a tie, nepotism was guaranteed. If a tie had occurred involving me, Kerra would most certainly have tried to break it in my favor. If a tie occurred involving James, Onelia would likely have done the same for him. ~The Bramblebury Elder Debates; 1814~ Of course, what actually happened at the end of the Election of 1814 was far more complicated than that. For reasons I am not entirely sure of, the election was extended nearly half a day, and in the end James and I won while a tie was reached between Filibert and Jordan. I do not know who voted for who, but it seems that Onelia and Kerra did not agree on which of those two candidates should become Elder seeing as they felt the need to bring in High Pumplar Jeanette Applebottom to help break the tie on account of former Elder Isalie Gardner having resigned her office at the beginning of the election. As would be expected, Jeanette broke the tie in favor of her brother, and so the Bramblebury Elder Council was once again composed of a democratic Goodbarrel, a conservative Peregrin, and a halfling not really affiliated with either. Legally speaking, neither the involvement of Jeanette in the vote counting nor the extension of the election was constitutional; but as the “Revolution” of 1806 indicated, laws in Bramblebury were practically meaningless. Wanting to stop any growing discontent in its tracks, our first act upon assuming office was to publish a “clarification” of election rules which would probably be better described as an unconstitutional rewriting of them. It declared that the anomalies of the election that got us into power were “perfectly legal” and also made it so that people were forced to distribute their votes to at least two different candidates, something almost in direct contradiction to the constitution. ~The 1814 Bramblebury Elder Election~ Despite the shaky start of our term, however, the first year of the Goodbarrel-Peregrin-Applebottom Council was a very productive one. After hearing about the way his cousin had treated the office of Elder, I did not particularly trust James at first and was very pleasantly surprised at his ability to cooperate with the rest of the Council. Together we were able to formalize a process for distributing burrows, gain the halflings of Bramblebury free access to Elvenesse’ capital city Amathea, update the job census as well as the laws and traditions, and convince Elvenesse not to levy a coal tax upon our people. If you had asked me what I thought of James and Jordan in those days, I would have spoken quite highly of them. Regardless of what they went on to say and do, under normal circumstances Jordan and James were good Elders. Despite the improved state of our leadership, the problems that hampered the village during the Peregrin-Goodbarrel-Hassenfort years had not gone away. Many improper halflings felt quite unwelcome in Bramblebury, and for many of them the best possible getaway was to join the crew of the Spicy Shrimp, which had been refurbished by Captain Anne Cottonwood Gardner, daughter of former Thain Isalie Gardner and the previous owner of the Shrimp, Taurin Gardner. The bizarre murders that had occured in the early 1810s had yet to be solved; which, combined with Meemaw being generally absent from public life in the village, led to Anne challenging Meemaw for the title of Sheriff. Rather than run against her much younger opponent, Meemaw chose to resign her position and look after her own health. Seeing as nobody came forth to challenge Anne apart from the long-missing and thus ineligible former Sheriff Malfoy Proudfoot, she ran unopposed. Anne needed only be confirmed as Sheriff by a yea/nay vote from the village to become Sheriff. ~The 1815 Bramblebury Sheriff Election~ Though the 1815 Bramblebury Sheriff Election was meant to be a mostly ceremonial one, a whole third of the votes cast were against Anne’s ascension to the office of Sheriff. I was absolutely baffled by the fact that five out of the fifteen halflings who voted would rather have no Sheriff than let Anne take office. Considering the demographic of the people who voted against Anne, I can only assume that it was because she was improper, which, thinking back to when I knew her as a child, would not surprise me. That being said, I still find it plainly ridiculous that properness was so valued by the village conservatives that, in the midst of a literal murder case, they would elect no Sheriff over a very qualified one who happens to be a little improper. If it was so important for a Sheriff to be proper why didn’t they put forth their own candidate? It was asinine, and only added to my growing disdain for the conservatives. ~A Halfling Windmill; early 19th century~ The final straw that pushed me over the edge, however, was the 1816 Bramblebury Fire Department Affair. Upon our ascension to the Council of Elders in 1814; James, Jorts, and I had put resolving the ongoing elections for Chief of the Fire Department Onelia had created during her term on our to-do list. Later, James explained to me that the Bramblebury Fire Department, despite having been created by Onelia during her term as Elder, was under her personal jurisdiction and not that of the Council of Elders, which I assumed was because it was supposedly a private organization. Despite the fact that I believe services such as a fire department should be publicly owned, Kerra and Burt had not signed off on the creation of such an organization, so I agreed with James when he said that we should leave management of it to Onelia, who oversaw the election of Perry Overhill to the title of Fire Chief. Considering it had been established that the Fire Department was a private organization, one can understand my confusion when, on the 1st of Snow’s Maiden 1816, Perry Overhill published Fire Safety Ordinances, which included a series of ridiculous laws (the violation of which have never caused fires before) as well as an absurd system for punishing infractions that included going so far as to tear people’s fireplaces down and force them to write a letter of apology. The Ordinances bore neither the signatures of the 1806 Elder Council nor the 1814 one that I sat on, and were thus illegal. I recall coming home to write a nullification of these illegitimate laws and finding that someone had already put out my fireplace, something that was rather annoying considering it was the middle of the winter and I had no matchbox on hand. ~Bramblebury in the Winter; early 19th century~ Before even going home to write the nullification, however, I looked for James and to get his approval to post it, and found him conversing with Onelia, both of whom acted as if Perry was doing nothing wrong. Apparently I had been incorrect to assume that the Fire Department was a private organization; James and Onelia now insisted that, having been created by an Elder during her term, the Department had full authority to make and enforce laws. Onelia questioned if I was disrespecting her decision regarding the Fire Department, though frankly this was not a matter of respect but legality. Onelia insisted that; since she did not see her co-Elder, my wife Kerra; on the day she was designing the Fire Department, she had full authority to create it without her co-Elder’s approval. As I mentioned last chapter, no such provision was in the constitution. After some useless bickering I eventually got James to agree that we should not condone tearing down rooms and burrows, and I went ahead and posted the missive I had written. I must admit that it was an abuse of power on my part to take James’ words as an approval of an official statement he hadn’t ever read, but my patience with him and his fellow conservative halflings had reached the end of the line. As I should have expected him to, James immediately tore my missive down, and all I could do at that point was go home and brood about it. Though Onelia had been out of office for nearly two years by then, the fact that she and James thought it was perfectly acceptable for an Elder to go behind another’s back and create an entire department of law was horrifying to me. It may seem silly that I got so worked up about a rogue fire brigade, but the implication that an Elder could use the “absence” of their co-Elders to assume the powers of a Thain made me finally realize that Bramblebury was no longer a democracy. Indeed, I suspect the only reason I emerged from the Election of 1814 with more votes than any other candidate is because I had the support of both the Peregrins and the improper halflings, while every other candidate appealed only to a more specific group. Though, as I have alluded to several times throughout this text, the decline of halfling democracy was not the work of one halfling or group alone; when I sent a letter to the village resigning from the title of Elder, I placed the blame for the republic’s backslide partly on the Peregrins and their fellow conservatives and partly on myself. Within hours of this letter going up, my family and I had disappeared from the village, and were not seen again in Bramblebury for nearly two years. ~Inside the Cookie Crumb Bakery; 1815~ I cannot say for certain what happened in my absence. My family’s flight to Norland left us homeless for many months, and it was not long before I began yearning to return to my warm burrow. Being away from the village had given me enough time to reflect and begin forgiving myself, and I eventually began to hear rumors from my fellow halflings that the Peregrins were backing down. Sure enough, when I returned to Bramblebury in Sun’s Smile 1817 I found that Perry had departed the village, and that Onelia had not been seen in public for some time. Though my self-imposed exile was brief, the damage it did was lasting. I had long presented myself as a woman who would always stand against tyranny in any form, and yet, when I discovered that I had been complicit in establishing mob rule in Bramblebury, I fled. With my career more or less in shambles, I decided to publish another letter admitting that I had made a number of errors in my two terms as Elder and my long-time career as a political activist. Being finally weary of politics and too unsure of myself to try and solve the issues of government, I more or less declared that I would not stand in the way of someone trying to take down the current government, something that I am sure caught the attention of a certain Applefoot. ~A New Day in Bramblebury; early 19th century~ I was not the only Elder who became fed up with the position. Just two months after my return to Bramblebury, James published his own letter of resignation, claiming that his family’s presence and influence in the village was unwanted, and that the halflings had gone astray, coming to prefer the company of bigguns to their fellow weefolk. It was hyperbolic to be sure, but James was not wrong in assuming that I, at least, would rather live among bigguns than in a village where properness was enforced by a ruling mob. In many ways, his resignation from Elder and departure from the village marked the end of an era. Though the Peregrins were not all gone, not from the village and certainly not from the world, their influence had diminished drastically. Much like a royal dynasty, their once great line faltered as each successor failed to live up to the greatness of the first. Iris had done everything in her power to prove that properness could be fun and healthy for her fellow halflings, but the heavy-handed methods used by a small number of her friends and supporters to spread this message tarnished her family’s legacy. The conservatives who yearned to go back to the glory days of Willow Hollow seemed to have forgotten that the Elder-system had failed before, and those who forget the mistakes of the past are doomed to repeat them. But what of the present? Ever since the “Revolution” of 1806, the Peregrins were the republic. With their influence gone and mine severely diminished, the government looked like a sickly beast that needed to be put out of its misery. Though James attempted to appoint Filibert Elder in his place, this was unconstitutional and it was not upheld by Jorts, the last remaining Elder of Bramblebury. I cannot imagine what it must have been like to be in that young lad’s position, trying to hold a village together as its government came collapsing down around him. What I can say, however, is that he took the course of action that would be expected of any sane person; which was to hand off this immense responsibility to someone else at the first opportunity. ~Rolladango’s Return; 1818~ I cannot say I know exactly what happened during the opening days of the Grand Harvest, 1818, seeing as, for the first time in decades, I was not in the room when a major decision about the future of Bramblebury was made. It seems, at some point following the resignation of James, Rolladango Applefoot turned up in Bramblebury babbling about having been selected by Knox to save the village from its destruction by becoming Thain. It was rather quickly decided by Jorts and Jeanette that Rolladango should assume this “Knox-sanctioned” position. Despite the illegality of doing so, the constitution was totally nullified, and all power over the village was returned directly to a single, unelected Thain. Just like that, without any ceremony, celebration, or resistance; everything I had worked for in the past thirty years, everything the Peregrins had pursued in the past twenty-six; all of it was undone. As had happened in Dunshire of old, a bloodless coup brought an end to the Elder system. After 21 years, the Halfling Revolution was over. Though I did not and do not ever have any intention of protesting Rolladango’s Thainship, I was nevertheless sorely disappointed by what was put into the new constitution, which was called a “leadership charter” because apparently “constitution” is a dirty word now. The separation of church and state I had established in both the 1797 Constitution and the 1806 one was destroyed; with the Thain now being required to be a worshipper of Knox. The High Pumplar now had official authorities within the government, and only position that was kept elected was the ultimately unimportant one of Sheriff. Elders remained, but like before they were now appointed by the Thain and could be removed for being improper. This new government was based on the ramblings of a madman and the desires of an invisible pumpkin lord, not the will of the people nor the wisdom of worldly leaders. Yet, it was met with nearly universal praise. It was believed that, with Rolladango’s ascension to the Thainship, the divisions within Bramblebury could begin to mend, though I would argue that our society’s wounds have been hidden rather than healed. Should someone once again come along thinking it would be a good idea to return the glory of the ancient villages and do away with the Thainship, I’d imagine that we’d simply see everything I have described happen all over again. ~A Gathering of Weefolk; 1818~ That is why, after everything that has happened, I do not feel that my “experiment” was for nothing. In these volumes I have written a full account of it, including all of my thoughts and, to the best of my ability, those of the other people involved. The point of an experiment is not necessarily to succeed but to learn, and as long as our descendants have this text to look back to, I will have succeeded in uncovering a number of very important lessons about the nature of halflings and democracy. Truthfully, I do not believe what occurred in Bramblebury is proof that democracy cannot work in any society. I have never once claimed that democracy is perfect; in fact, I’d be willing to concede that it is the worst form of government; apart from all the other ones that have been tried. The story of the Halfling Republic is not a story of failure caused by democracy but rather the story of a democracy failing. So many of the ills that were blamed on our democracy would perhaps have been better blamed on things such as mob rule, polarization, extreme traditionalism, and political apathy; some of these are things that could have been prevented entirely, while others are natural things that all democracies have to overcome but we mishandled. ~Knoxmas; 1798~ It is very easy to conflate democracy with mob rule; both center around the government being heavily influenced by the people. The difference is that the former is held in balance by laws and compromise while the latter is dictated only by the will of the majority. When I created our constitutions, I did not understand the dangers of mob rule nor did I have as much as a respect for laws as I do now. I understand as well as any halfling that laws are pesky things; some laws, such as those in Haelun’or and Oren are unjust and oppressive and many seem just too stupid or inconvenient to follow, but a free government cannot function without just laws. Too often did I ignore my own laws in order to placate the people. I did not have the strength or will to say no to the mob and risk further strife; that is why it was able to take over. Polarization is a plague that affects nearly every democracy at some point or another. People feel far more comfortable and secure when associating with people they agree with. Halflings especially like to avoid conflict or debate, something that ironically contributed to the informal party system which I described in Chapter III. Each side felt more comfortable around their own, and began to mistrust the others. This brought us to a point in the 1810s where it seemed the propers and the impropers didn’t even live in the same universe, let alone the same village. I am as guilty of this tribal, intransigent behavior as everyone else is, even if I tried to seek compromise in earlier years. Though polarization may not be avoidable, it is far less dangerous in a society governed by laws rather than the masses. In that sort of society, compromise is required; one cannot get their way simply by crying loud enough. ~The Mayoral Debate; 1805~ Traditionalism is not something exclusive to the Peregrins or the villages they lived in. Halflings are, by nature, traditional creatures; something that I was never willing to accept until now. I will always disagree with the notion that properness and law should be one in the same but I no longer think myself capable of changing minds on the matter. Perhaps, in the far future, halfling society may reach that point, but for now I would say attempting to create another Halfling Republic is inadvisable. A democracy requires the people to be respectful of the law, forward thinking, and educated; those are unfortunately not terms that describe halflings particularly well. While I was living in Haelun’or I was told more than once that I was too smart to be a halfling. Though I wouldn't deign to consider myself above the rest of my people, I do think it is worth acknowledging that my way of thinking about things is quite different than the average halfling. I tried my best to change minds for the better and improve our society, but it was a task too tall for one lady. Looking back, I sometimes question if even I cared about this revolution or just wanted to prove something about myself. Even if I did, the number of halflings truly interested in democracy has never been great. For the Peregrins, it was but a small aspect of a larger agenda that involved restoring halfling tradition, and ultimately that goal took precedence over it for some of them. For Isalie, democracy was something I had sold to her, and it came about only because she trusted me, and died for the same reason. Ultimately, however, the vast majority of the village simply did not care about democracy. This was something I had known all along, and never once did I consider that a government of, by, and for the people cannot function if the people are apathetic towards it. Nobody in the village asked me to start a revolution, create a republic, or bring democracy to them. By the end, democracy was little more than an inconvenience, so the people did not care when it was taken from them, nor did they care the countless times I and others trod upon it with our unconstitutional acts. I now recall something I said many years ago: “you cannot free a people who will not free themselves.” ~Consulting the Thain; 1794~ In writing this account of the Rise and Fall of the Halfling Republic, I have also told the story of over thirty years of my life. With all the blood, sweat, and tears I put into my political work, I suppose the time has come to question what it was all for. When I started, it wasn’t all about creating a perfect society. It was about finding something to do with my life, about proving that I was worth more than the housewife I was raised to be. I suppose, to that end, I have succeeded, but it is a selfish goal, the completion of which does not provide me with satisfaction; that is why I wrote this series. My efforts to create a more perfect village may have failed, but as has been so often said by the wise, failure is a fantastic way of learning. I may be too old to apply the wisdom I gained from my experiences, but I can at least preserve it for others to gain from. It is my hope that, even if my name is forgotten by future generations, this story is not. Though values and beliefs will always grow old and be replaced with better ones, the lessons of the past are timeless.
  13. [!] A fresh pamphlet is pinned to the Bramblebury notice board! The Rise and Fall of the Halfling Republic A History of the Halflings from 1786-1818 By Chapter V: Great Again? 1805-1814 The closing days of Iris Peregrin’s term as Mayor of Bramblebury marked the midpoint of a unique period in halfling history; it was a time when the Peregrins were approaching the height of their influence on the village, which for some meant an era of festivities and good feelings, and for others an age of austerity and nonacceptance. Though the constitution had guaranteed all the same rights to improper halflings as proper halflings, the social stigma associated with breaking tradition was enough to keep most impropers “in the closet.” Nobody was ever arrested for being improper, but almost nobody was willing to admit that they were either. I still owned a sword and continued to carry it with me whenever I left the village, it was kept hidden in the burrow at any other time, and if asked I would have said I had gotten rid of it. In the few cases in which some halflings were unfortunate enough to do something improper out in the open, the punishments they faced were not too harsh; nothing much worse than harassment and social discrimination. However, though this manner of repression was quite tame compared to the sort of violence that happens to nonconformists in Oren or Haelun’or, it was still a far cry from the free society I had envisioned. The Peregrins would not soon give up the cultural crusade they had started in Bloomerville. Besides, considering how much good Iris had done for the village, most halflings, myself included, were willing to go along with all this, even if only to keep the peace. Hiding one’s improperness has always been fashionable, so for the majority of halflings, those who had not been openly improper prior to the Peregrins’ arrival anyway, nothing had changed at all. ~A Bonfire in Bramblebury; 1804~ Before going any deeper into this chapter, however, it is important to remember that the Peregrins truly believed that enforcing properness like this was good for the village. Halfling conservatism as the Peregrins practiced it was very much focused on maintaining a uniquely halfling cultural identity. Anything improper or biggun-like was considered a threat; a slippery slope that could lead to the halflings losing sight of who we are. Considering what Iris found upon her arrival in Fort Hope in 1792, to some degree I can understand why the conservatives thought maintaining properness was so important, however she and her family had not been present back in Brandybrook, where the idea that proper and openly improper halflings can coexist peacefully was taken for granted; at least after Sheriff Alfie Greenholm resigned. Sean Puddlefoot, Benedict Hassenfort, and Anne Applebrook were all famously relaxed in their adherence to halfling tradition, but from what I’ve heard they were all well respected people in Brandybrook. Their presence did not make Brandybrook’s proper halflings any less proper, nor did it cause any doubt in anyone’s mind that we were all still halflings. As much as I disagreed with the Peregrin stance on properness, however, the main aspect of their political agenda that worried me was the notion that a Peregrin needed to be in power at all times. The Mayorship was not a royal title to be handed from one member of a family to the another, but given Iris’ endorsement of her cousin Onelia that seemed to be exactly what was meant to happen. The fact that another Peregrin would be running combined with the strict degree to which properness had been enforced and lingering memory of the vitriolic response to the constitution dissuaded me from running in the Mayoral Election of 1805. I was rather surprised when my wife Kerraline, who had never been involved in politics before, announced that she would be running for Mayor; but I gave her all the encouragement she needed. Kerra did not have very strong or detailed political beliefs, but that didn’t matter; she was kind, capable, and most importantly trustworthy. ~A Poster Promoting Kerraline Goodbarrel; 1805~ That being said, I did not have a lot of confidence that Kerra would beat Onelia. She was not particularly active in village life, in fact for most part the only thing known about Kerra was that she was my wife, which, considering my reputation at the time, was not something that particularly helped her campaign. In fact, the only thing Kerra really did have to her name prior to the debates was the fact that she was not Onelia Peregrin. Though they may have been a minority, there were at least some people in the village who either thought the Peregrins were too strict about properness or simply didn’t get along with Onelia the way they got along with Iris. Unfortunately, the so-called “anti-Peregrin” vote I had predicted was immediately split by the entries of Rolladango Applefoot, a grandson of the old Thain Rollo Applefoot; and Burt Hassenfort, son of Benedict, into the race. ~A Poster Promoting Onelia Peregrin; 1805~ Though I knew these new candidates would probably take votes away from Kerra, it was also quite probable that they would take votes away from Onelia as well. Ignoring the Peregrins’ belief that the concept of Thainship was out of keeping with halfling tradition, Rollo was a famously proper halfling who purportedly “saved the race”, and thus a good name for Rolladango to tie to himself to if he were to seek the propers’ vote. Though Burt had his name tied to Benedict, he was, as far as I know, a proper halfling who had gone along with the Peregrins’ cultural crusade. It seemed that the Election of 1805 was going to be quite close, and it was something that, despite my informal retirement from politics, I wanted to be as involved in as possible, so I volunteered to monitor the debates. ~A Poster Promoting Rolladango Applefoot; 1805~ I wasn't terribly disappointed when Rolladango very suddenly announced that he would be dropping out of the election on account of not being able to make it to our scheduled debate on the 1st of the First Seed, 1805. If anything, I was relieved. As silent as they had been over the past few years I knew there was still a sizeable population of Bernardists in Bramblebury who would eagerly support an Applefoot. The confiscation of the so-called “Thain’s shovel” from Isalie by “Lord Knox” back in 1798 was still fresh in my mind, and I worried that should Rolladango win he might attempt to overthrow her. For all the safety-nets I had written into the constitution I knew that ultimately so few of the people cared about it that an untrustworthy candidate such as Rolladango could get away with practically anything. Besides, the only interaction I ever had with the man occurred when he was still a tween, prone to rage and violence; it was not the image of someone who should be trusted with the reigns of government. ~A Poster Promoting Burt Hassenfort; 1805~ The debate itself did not reveal much, except perhaps the fact that the Peregrins’ influence on the village had become so great that to even suggest that one may be alright with improperness was tantamount to political suicide. In fact, the window of what was considered “acceptable politics” in the Peregrin Era had become so small that there was hardly any debate between Burt, Onelia, and Kerra at all! My wife even admitted to me later on that she had modified her answers to the questions based on what the other two had said. Whether planned in advance or not, what happened as a result of all three candidates giving very similar answers was quite astonishing. Throughout the debate, the audience had been very chatty, throwing in a comment at every pause and treating the whole thing like much more of a spectacle than it actually was. As the debate began to wind down, however, the ill-timed humor turned into serious discussion about how all three of the candidates were wonderful. Then, quite suddenly, Monkey Peregrin and Perry Overhill suggested that we elect all three candidates as Elders. The audience immediately burst into discussion over the idea, much to the fright and confusion of Thain Isalie Gardner. Even as I tried to explain to the crowd that it was unconstitutional to just go ahead and create an Elder Council, and that we had no framework for how such a thing would work, they seemed dead set on it getting approved right then and right there. ~The Debate; 1805~ I recall feeling absolutely awful for Isalie as she moved on to the stage to address this crowd, which was perhaps better described as a mob; certainly not a violent mob, mind you, but an unruly gathering nonetheless. Once again, the accusations of Isalie trying to enforce her will, and by extension mine, on the village were thrown at her. Once again, the notion that our constitution was a sacred document which needed to be preserved and followed was labeled “biggun-talk”. And once again, Isalie only had me to turn to for advice. Though I did a better job of hiding it, I was just as worried and confused as Isalie was that day. It seemed the entire village wanted this Elder system to be put into effect, who were I and Isalie to try and stop it? Pulling her aside and speaking in whispers, I told her as much, and said also that it would be advisable for her to follow the mob’s wishes and postpone the election until after the constitution had been amended. Having written the constitution, I knew full well that this was illegal, but I feared what might happen if Isalie and I angered the mob further. A change in government seemed inevitable; if it was what the people wanted then I thought the only way to ensure that this transition of power occurred in an orderly manner was to work with the mob. Isalie, unfortunately, took my unwise words for wisdom, and announced that the election would be postponed until after a meeting was held to determine the future of village government. Though I recall walking away from that debate feeling as if the situation was under my control, looking back I would say the 1st of the First Seed, 1805, was the day democracy in Bramblebury began to make way for mob rule; I was simply too naive to know the difference. ~The Thain Watches the Debate; 1805~ I must admit that my main motivation for working with the proponents of the Elder system was to keep the future of our republic under my control. It was not because I wanted power within this new government but rather that I feared, should the conservatives be allowed to design a new constitution however they like, it would either be immensely flawed or entirely nonexistent. This was a chance to write a constitution that the village actually agreed with; a chance to redeem myself in the eyes of the public, and to create a more perfect system that I thought could serve our people for generations. I had come to the rather flawed conclusion that, in a democracy, the majority is always right . I suppose I did not understand at the time that a mob is no less of a mob for being on your side. The most hated aspect of the 1797 constitution was the inclusion of a system of checks and balances that ensured that neither the Thain nor the Mayor nor the Sheriff had too much power. This had been functioning just fine, but it was much too “biggun-like” for the conservatives. Having three Elders instead of just one Mayor would only complicate things further. It did not take long for me to realize that a three Elder system and a Thainship were mutually exclusive. Though she never said anything about quitting, ever since the days of Bloomerville, Isalie had occasionally expressed to me how tiring her job was. She always felt that people hated her, and sometimes questioned if perhaps someone else would do better in her position. I thought she had served us wonderfully, and she was my closest friend besides Kerra, but the proverbial wind was not blowing in her direction. When given the choice between Isalie and a peaceful and orderly village, I felt compelled to choose the latter, and in the next issue of the Bramblebury Gazette I published a plan for a simpler constitution that provided for a government with three Elders of equal power and a Sheriff with only law enforcement authorities; this was met with much praise from the conservatives. ~A Busy Day in Bramblebury; 1806~ When I walked into the village meeting Isalie had called in order to discuss revising the constitution on the 21st of the Deep Cold, 1805, I believed that everyone, Isalie included, had read the latest edition of the Bramblebury Gazette and were prepared to discuss the proposal I had included in it. That was not a wise assumption to make, however. I was somewhat confused as Isalie addressed the audience about bringing back Elders and creating a sort of militia called the Bounders to assist the Sheriff in their duties. After a bit of back and forth about Bounders, I recall beginning to wonder if anyone there was going to address the elephant in the room. But nobody brought it up; I had to do it myself. The fact Isalie had apparently not read my government proposal meant that she was totally unprepared to hear that the village was thinking about having her step down. I knew this, and I knew also that she would probably take it personally, and she did. I recall seeing this awful look of betrayal on her face as she asked me if I really thought her leadership was that horrible. Apart from a little bit of chatter from Filibert Applefoot and some kind words from my wife Kerra, the crowd gathered was mostly silent as I tried to explain to Isalie in the kindest terms possible that it was time for her to step down. Isalie simply burst into tears, saying something along the lines of it all being my hands now. As I looked back into the crowd, which was devoid of any emotion, I had a very strange and uneasy feeling, as if the eyes of history itself were staring down at me. It had been the desire of the Peregrins and the other conservatives to restore the Elder system and end the Thainship for quite some time, but when it actually happened they had hardly lifted a finger or said a word. That was left to me. And I did it not because I wanted to get rid of Isalie but because I was afraid of letting a mob rewrite the constitution. And yet, that is exactly what I let them do. The new constitution wasn’t inspired by my own wisdom but by the passions of the people, and I walked home thinking I had done the right thing; any shame I had was because my best friend felt I had betrayed her, not because I had betrayed my own revolution. It would take a long time for me to realize just how damaging the so-called “Revolution” of 1806 really was. ~The Old Thain Reflects; 1807~ Though the 1797 Constitution required a 2/3rds majority of the voters to approve amendments to the constitution, no such vote was held. As was evident by my ill-conceived advice to Isalie, I had totally given up on preserving the sanctity of our constitution, and I didn't want to bother Isalie any further. All that legitimized the new constitution I wrote in 1806 were signatures from Isalie, Iris, Meemaw, and a few other halflings in the village. Technically speaking, that means every election and decree that was issued under the Elder system was illegitimate, but nobody cared. Law can be a tricky thing to understand at times, and my fellow halflings had no patience for it. Though I did not seek my wife’s position as a candidate in the 1806 Elder Election, seeing as it was illegal for people married to each other to serve on the Council of Elders at the same time; I was quick to notice that I was, for the first time in my entire career, becoming popular, and decided to cement it further by revising the Goodbarrelian Manifesto to make it look like I had wholehearted support for the Elder-system and properness. Even though I would not run for Elder for another 8 years, I finally had the Peregrins’ confidence, and in an election that was all that mattered. Being a large family with many friends, the abolishing of the office of Thain meant that the Peregrins had practically uncontested control of the republic. Nobody could be elected Elder without their support. “King” Cyris Collingwood tried to run for Elder at the last minute too, but he received not a single vote, even though each voter was allowed to cast three. The results were exactly as projected; Onelia, Kerra, and Burt became the first Elders of Bramblebury. ~The 1806 Bramblebury Elder Election~ With how dramatically and negatively I have described the transition to an Elder system, one might question why exactly returning to that old form of government was so bad. Peregrin control over elections aside, the problems of an Elder system were not immediately obvious. Few outside the Gardner family were upset by Isalie’s fall from power. Her popularity had been damaged not only by past events during Brandybrook, Bloomerville, and the Knoxist Crisis but also by more recent things such as her marriage to a biggun (the Warden), and her proposals for the construction of biggun living quarters in the village. ~The Wedding of the Thain and the Warden; 1805~ Following the “Revolution” of 1806, the village seemed to go back to how it was when Iris was Mayor, if not better; with all manner of festivals, weddings, cooking contests, bakery openings, and birthday parties. Tavern nights continued to be held, the library received a great number of donations, Filibert started up a new newspaper, and a whole new district was constructed in the village known as Bloomerville Square, which harkened back to what the Peregrins considered one the best time in our recent history. For anyone who was proper or at least pretending to be, it was a fine time to live in Bramblebury. For those who were not included in that “proper” halfling majority, however, the Bramblebury of the Peregrin-Goodbarrel-Hassenfort years was not quite so pleasant. In one instance, a late biggun friend of mine and her Sorvian were essentially robbed by a couple of “proper” halflings for no reason other than the fact that she was a biggun. In another instance, one that I am, admittedly, guilty of being involved in, a biggun was told he could only stay in the village if he cast off his shoes and worked the fields for us. Perry even wrote an open letter criticizing an organization promoting racial justice. “Biggun Realism”, as he called it, was in full force, and seeing as the constitution protected only the rights of halflings, there was nothing that could be done about it. Even though improper halflings were legally protected under the constitution, that did not protect them from being disowned by their families or otherwise turned into outcasts. Known improper halflings only continued to have it worse as the village started to become a somewhat unpleasant place for anyone who didn’t seem to be a proper halfling to live; one improper halfling even finding herself fighting a duel against a Peregrin! The wholesome presence of Iris was often missing as she began to spend more time pursuing her studies with the Druidic Order rather than lounging about the village. As for Isalie, she became far less reserved in her words and actions after retiring, often getting into fights with Onelia, Filibert, and other people she had not gotten along with. Sheriff Meemaw Applebottom, her health not being the best at her age, was hardly ever seen, and was certainly not patrolling often enough to keep things calm. In the early 1810s there would even be a series of horrific “murders.” Though all the presumed victims later turned up alive, these unsolved cases certainly cast a poor light on Meemaw’s tenure as Sheriff, and helped encourage her eventual resignation due to health reasons. ~Aftermath of a Murder; 1811~ The rancidity of this “perfect society” we had created was not limited only to the experience of “improper” halflings and bigguns; in fact, I’d argue much of it stemmed from the immense flaws within the new Elder-system. As it turned out, the absence of the separation of powers and checks and balances that had made the old constitution so reviled were the very thing that made the new constitution so ineffective. In my quest to “simplify” it for the public, I had removed any semblance of instruction on how Elders were supposed to interact with each other, with the only specifications being that they were all supposed to be of equal power and that only some decisions required unanimous approval. I cannot blame Onelia for misinterpreting the constitution considering there was practically nothing there to interpret, but that does not really excuse the fact that she often acted as if she were the sole leader of the village, though I don’t recall writing that not speaking with your fellow Elders on a daily basis allows you to assume the powers of a Thain anywhere in the constitution. At first, Onelia’s approach to the office of Elder was not a terribly large problem; though it did allow her to create the Bramblebury Fire Department; which would cause a fiasco and half several years later. No, Onelia’s approach to Eldership became a problem when she began conducting “diplomacy” on behalf of her other Elders; which is to say that she went behind their backs to trod upon our alliance with Elvenesse to the point of its near destruction. The Halfling-Elvensse Crisis began when a diplomat from Haelun’or arrived in the village to arrange an audience between the high elven Silver Council and the halfling Council of Elders. Though the purpose of this meeting was not explicitly stated in my presence, it did not take a lot of sleuth work to figure out that the high elves were seeking to establish good relations with the halflings as they prepared for war against our protectors in Elvenesse. I recall feeling very frustrated at my inability to get involved; but thankfully this initial meeting was handled by Kerra quite well. She made it clear that Bramblebury had no intention of betraying Elvenesse or otherwise getting involved in an unnecessary biggun war. ~Halfling Negotiations; 1810~ Unfortunately, that was not how Elvenesse perceived that meeting as rumors spread among their leadership that the halflings of Bramblbeury may be seeking independence from Elvenesse, or worse, that we were conspiring to aid the Silver State against them. It was not only these rumors of conspiracy that worried Elvenesse, however. Allegedly, Onelia marched down to Elvenesse' capital Amathea one day, badmouthed their council, and slapped their High Princess in the face. What followed was a diplomatic scandal; though I would not have known of it had my wife not told me. Within months Bramblebury was flooded with all manner of dignitaries from Haense and the like practically begging for us to join them. Apparently a rumor was spreading like wildfire among the biggun leaders of the world that the halflings were seeking separation from Elvenesse, when in reality only one of our three elected Elders had done anything to indicate that. ~Breakfast at the Bakery; 1812~ The situation was only made worse by the fact that Burt had fallen ill in Malin’s Welcome 1811, forcing him to resign from the office of Elder. It was during some of the most crucial moments of this crisis that the only check on Onelia’s power was Kerra, who Onelia, for some odd reason, thought had disappeared and never even bothered to send a bird to. Though the constitution required that an emergency election be held in the event of a vacancy in the Council of Elders, Isalie was given the position without a vote on account of being the only person who signed up; though she viewed it more as a favor for the village than coming out of retirement. All the same, with Isalie and Kerra on the council together an opportunity arose to oust Onelia, but between the likelihood that the people would not vote in favor of her removal of office, Iris’ unwillingness to take Onelia’s position due in part to her devotion to the Druids, and the fact that the Election of 1814 was just around the corner; nothing came of the plan. It was only at this point in 1813 that Kerra actually told me everything that was going on, positing that perhaps I could write a special edition of the Bramblebury Gazette critiquing Onelia’s conduct and perhaps dissuading the people from voting for her in the next election. That, however, was quickly rendered unnecessary when Onelia announced that she would not be seeking reelection and instead would be endorsing her cousin James Peregrin, one of the adopted sons of Iris. Isalie was quite sick of what the village had turned into and, despite the fact that our friendship had been repaired, was likely still upset about the “Revolution” of 1806, so she resigned her office and left the village with the Warden before her term as temporary Elder was even finished. In her place, her adopted daughter Winter, also a good friend of mine, ran for Elder. After a brief discussion my wife also decided not to seek reelection, and so, in 1814, I finally came out of my “retirement” to officially lead the village once again. ~A Poster Promoting Greta Goodbarrel; 1814~ Though Kerra had told me quite a bit about Onelia’s misconduct as Elder, and though I had heard some unpleasant stories about the village from other friends of mine, I still believed at the time that our republic was functioning just fine, and had just happened to elect the wrong person. I had become so accustomed to being on the Peregrins’ good side that I had forgotten how unpleasant it was to go against them. I thought the problems of the village were things that I could solve just by becoming an Elder. I had yet to uncover the unfortunate truth that the “perfect” Elder system I had created did not, as Onelia promised, “make the halflings great again.” It had only made the already existing divisions among our people much worse. It would take being right in the fray of this dysfunctional government for me to realize that our republic, if not already in ruins, was on its deathbed.
  14. [!] A fresh pamphlet is pinned to the Bramblebury notice board! The Rise and Fall of the Halfling Republic A History of the Halflings from 1786-1818 By Chapter IV: Of Politics, Propers, and Pumpkin Lords 1796-1805 As was the case with most other nations, the halflings’ voyage to Almaris and our early months there were largely uneventful. The new village, named Bramblebury by a public poll, was constructed in a location that shared both both striking similarities and drastic differences with Brandybrook. Like Brandybrook, Bramblebury was built on a wooded peninsula in the south of the continent, not far at all from the gates of Elvenesse’s capital city. Unlike Brandybrook, however, the area Bramblebury occupied was vast and expansive, and despite the landscape sounding similar, the towering trees of Almaris were indeed very alien to any who were used to the relatively modest forests of Arcas. Burrows were built larger and much farther apart, and there was ample room for sugar farms, wheat fields, orchards, and vineyards. Despite all the troubles that would occur within, Bramblebury can at least attest to being the prettiest-looking village I’ve lived in. ~Morning in Bramblebury; late 18th century~ I recall being mildly annoyed with Thain Isalie Gardner as she seemed to keep putting off reading and signing the constitution. It was only after we arrived in Bramblebury and she worked to quickly hand out burrows in an organized fashion that I understood why she had waited; it was a job that needed to be done before anybody could start worrying about elections; something I hadn’t even thought of. As would often happen during these years, my efforts to create a more perfect village blinded me to the more mundane things that needed doing. I could talk all I want about the government existing only to protect the natural rights of halflings, but someone needs to hand out burrows too, I suppose. Regardless, as soon as the housing in Bramblebury was taken care of, Isalie wasted little more time reading over the constitution and signing it. I remember practically squealing with joy as I skipped back to my burrow to make a copy to publish. While I nailed the constitution to the noticeboard in the village square, I had my wife Kerraline set off a few fireworks in celebration. I thought for sure the 16th of the Amber Cold, 1796 would become a day celebrated for generations to come. The “battle” I had spent the past decade was won; after nearly a century of Bernardist dictatorship under a single all-powerful Thain, democracy had been restored to the halflings. I had no idea just how complicated and messy revolution actually is. ~Bramblebury; late 18th century~ Establishing a republic was one thing, maintaining it was something entirely different. Even then, at its creation, I had concerns about what could happen to this new government should I step away from it. However, I thought such an event would only occur in the very far future. I had long intended to run for Mayor, believing that I could set a good example for how future Mayors should behave and I also thought that my pursuit of this office would be entirely unopposed; who could possibly be more qualified to run a government than the lady who created it? In all my idealism I had forgotten about one of democracy’s greatest flaws: the power of popularity. Though it would be an exaggeration to call any of the Peregrins demagogues as I have in some of my more scathing writings, they appealed to the common halfling far better than I or Isalie ever did. I knew that Iris Peregrin might try to pursue a government office at some point in future, but I was nevertheless quite shocked when Iris announced her candidacy for the Mayoral Election of 1797. From what I’ve gathered, several people asked her to run, and all the while she had been hesitant because she did not want to get in my way. However, as had happened before and would happen again, Iris put her family above her own good judgement, and right under my nose had begun campaigning for Mayor even before the constitution was approved. Between the shock of this development, and the fact that people who previously implied that they would be voting for me suddenly pledged support for Iris, I was rather angry. It was not that Iris’ mayorship would be unjust; the people had the right to choose whichever leaders wanted; no, I was upset because it seemed the people were ungrateful for what I had done. I thought I had earned the office of Mayor, but it seemed most of the village disagreed. ~The Founding Mother; 1796~ Though I found it doubtful that I’d be able to beat Iris in an election, I did not drop out at first. I wasn’t afraid of losing, that was a part of the system after all. If I was going to go out, I thought I should at least go out with my head held high. Most of the people who had changed their vote did so apologetically, and I could at least count on votes from my wife and Isalie. Even “Lord Knox” was willing to give me some credit, calling me the “Founding Mother” on a poster advertising the debate I was to have with Iris on the 21st of The Deep Cold, 1796. In the days leading up to that debate, however, it quickly became apparent to me that the village was not only ungrateful for or apathetic about the new constitution; some halflings hated it. The language I had used and the concepts I had introduced were all considered very biggun-like and thus improper; apparently it is a fundamental offense against the halfling race to suggest that a government should have separation of powers. People were also angry that I had been allowed to do all this without any vote being taken on the matter, despite the fact that I had been accepting feedback on the constitution for years between the meeting in 1794 and the constitution's signing by Isalie in 1796. I should note that most of this criticism came from Iris’ family and supporters, many of whom had not even attended the meeting or bothered to talk to me about what they did and didn’t like about the constitution I was writing. For all I knew the village had been in full agreement. And yet, here I was, faced with the fact that my constitution had been something that was legitimized of only by the approval Isalie and my co-Elder Andon Cloudberry, the latter of whom departed the village a few weeks before the elections. Even Malfoy Proudfoot, the former Sheriff long thought missing, turned up and tried to organize a protest against my “biggun politics.” ~Breakfast in the Peregrin Burrow; 1798~ As my debate with Iris drew nearer and nearer, I began to feel the need to make a major decision. The writing on the wall had been clear since Iris entered the race: I was not going to become Mayor; Iris was too popular and my campaigning methods simply did not appeal to my fellow halflings. I made promises of "Liberty, Equality, and Happiness" for the halflings, while Iris promised them "Food, Fun, and Family", and unlike my promises these were things that could actually be delivered to them. The thought of losing an election had not been enough to dissuade me from running, though I did briefly consider running for Sheriff instead; it was not something I ever seriously pursued, however, seeing as it was a position I was uninterested in, unqualified for, and quite frankly one I thought was beneath me. It was only after I realized just how unwelcome my influence on the village was that I decided to preemptively concede the election to Iris. The reasoning I gave in my letter to the village when I conceded was quite straightforward: if the people were so displeased with what I had done and so dead set on electing a new leader to fix it all, who was I to try and stand in the way of that? As would be the case in many future disputes between myself and the conservatives, I had neither the heart nor the mind to try and argue with them, and instead chose to allow the village to decide for themselves what was best for it. What I did not understand then that I do now is that good democracies are built not on majority rule but on compromise. Though I had always been an advocate of compromise, the village’s rejection of what I saw as a great compromise between Bernardism and democracy must have communicated to me that I did something terribly wrong. I had never once considered that those who disagreed with me might simply have been unwilling to change their mind. ~Halflings on a Swing; 1797~ One person who was never intransigent, however, was Iris. After giving a speech to Bramblebury laying out her plans for her term as Mayor, Iris pulled me aside and asked me if I could provide her counsel during her term whenever she needed it. She acknowledged that at least some of my ideas were good ones, and that many of her supporters expected her to simply “sweep it all under the rug”, something that she also promised to me that day she wouldn’t do. Despite the good relationship we established then, Iris and I never become close confidants in the manner that Isalie and I were. Though I was consulted once or twice on a few laws and documents, Iris never came to me during the real crises of her Mayorship. She also mentioned that I would be a good middlewoman between herself and Isalie ,but I was never given any opportunity to mediate between them either, though I do believe that would have made some of the situations that were thrown at Iris and Isalie much less stressful. Unfortunately, the awkward caution they approached each other with on the day of Iris’ speech never went away; something that no doubt made this new government appear more dysfunctional than it actually was; the Mayor and Thain were meant to work closely together, but Iris and Isalie never really did. I had designed the position of Mayor with myself in mind, and that was proving to be something of a mistake. ~The 1797 Bramblebury Mayoral Election~ With my effective retirement, Iris ran unopposed for Mayor, and as such that election proved to be quite uneventful. The same cannot be said for the Sheriff race, in which former Halfling Liberty Association member Theodore Mowood ran against former Sheriff of Brandybrook Alfie Greenholm, who, much like Malfoy, had reappeared in Bloomerville after being missing for years; and Meemaw Applebottom, the grandmother of High Pumplar Jeannette Applebottom. In many ways, it was the Sheriff Election of 1797 that set the precedent for what elections in Bramblebury would look like; a debate was held in which all three candidates lined up on a stage and were asked questions about their beliefs and plans for the village. Once that was over with, Isalie opened up the polls and all the adults in the village were provided the opportunity to cast their votes. The polls would be open for two months, after which Isalie would fulfill her duty as Thain by counting the votes and breaking a tie if necessary; it was a process I had designed myself with some inspiration from Haelun’or’s voting system, and I was very happy to see it in action. ~The Sheriff Debates; 1797~ None of the three candidates for Sheriff in 1797 were particularly political. Their aims were, as they should be, to protect the village. The only thing there really was to debate on was whether or not it was the duty of the Sheriff to enforce properness. Though Alfie had been infamous for going to extreme lengths to do so during his term as Sheriff of Brandybrook in the 1770s, in this election he presented himself as much more of a moderate. Theodore Mowood was a known improper halfling, which combined with his lack of experience and tendency towards anger, likely cost him the election. As for Meemaw, she was able to secure a good number of votes simply by being both proper and eccentric at the same time; halflings love a good character, I suppose. ~The 1797 Bramblebury Sheriff Election~ When the results of the Sheriff Election came to Isalie, it turned out that all three candidates had tied. Isalie, having lived in the village during Alfie’s controversial term as Sheriff in the 1770s and been badgered by Theo constantly for the position of Sheriff, decided to break the tie in favor of Meemaw, something that greatly upset Alfie, who insisted more than once that a second election should have been held once Theo was voted out of the race. That was not something prescribed by the constitution, however, so his demands went ignored. That is not to say the election was totally constitutional, however. One of the constitution’s qualifications for running for office was having lived in the village for four consecutive years prior to the election. Though, of course, Bloomerville also counted as “the village,” Meemaw had arrived there only a little more than two years prior. Considering this was the first election, Isalie waived this requirement, despite the fact that the constitution had given her no authority to do so. I did not protest; though I had always envisioned the constitution as a sacred immutable document, the people held such a loathing for it that whenever it was slightly challenged or contradicted, it felt wrong to defend it. I suppose I did not understand at the time that republics are made of laws, not people. The line between democracy and rule by a mob is very thin, and my commitment to letting the people rule themselves often blinded me to the fact that sometimes the people don’t have to wisdom or education to make the right decisions. ~Halflings at School; 1797~ Despite all its problems however, I would still say that the first few years in which Iris was at the head of the republic were its best. Iris took the notion that she was a servant of the people rather than their ruler to heart; always willing to listen to feedback and suggestions on how to make the village better. One of her first acts as Mayor was to revise the village Laws and Traditions, something I gladly assisted her with. Iris also helped organize a number of festivals, including a party celebrating the halfling winter holiday, Knoxmas. With Demeter Pebblebrook opening up a school to teach halflings young and old, Mondy Applefoot opening up a bakery, and my continued production of wine and occasional publication of a new newspaper called the Bramblebury Gazette; village life flourished during the Iris Peregrin years. Her kind leadership and warm demeanor had calmed the storm of anger that had followed the adoption of the constitution; Iris was holding the village together. ~King Cyris Collingwood; 1798~ Though most of the time it takes more than one person to ruin a time of happiness and prosperity, that was not the case with “King” Cyris Collingwood, a strange halfling who arrived in the village around the time of the first elections. Though he unironically presented himself using the title of a monarch, Cyris is perhaps better described as a self-proclaimed crusader. He arrived in Bramblebury claiming to have been sent to Almaris by Lord Knox himself, and preached the “word of the Pumpkin Lord” constantly. As annoying as it was, Cyris’ practice was perfectly within the boundaries of religious freedom set by the constitution, and since most halflings are Knoxists, the village agreed. That was until a missive was put out by High Pumplar Jeanette, the head of the Knoxist Church, declaring Cyris to be a false prophet according to the true “Lord Knox”, the one that had been making periodic appearances to the halflings back in Arcas. At first, I paid little attention to Cyris and Jeannette’s dispute; it had nothing to do with me or the government I created and I had no idea that it was about to develop into a serious crisis. The Knoxist Crisis began on the 19th of the Grand Harvest, 1798, at, of all places, a Knoxmas party. The whole village had come together to share a few drinks and decorate a great Knoxmas tree which had been grown in the party field. Despite the frigid weather it was a merry celebration, attended even by Queen Ancelie of Norland. “Lord Knox” too, made an appearance, purportedly to aid in the festivities. Unfortunately, Theodore Mowood, who by then had developed a bad habit of rushing to the side of people with authority, decided it would be a good idea to point out Cyris, who had been decrying this “Lord Knox” as a false god, to the Pumpkin Lord. What resulted was a brutal duel between Cyris and “Knox” that resulted in the halfling being beaten to a near pulp. It was at this unfortunate moment that Isalie arrived at the party, and she immediately denounced this “Knox”, going so far as to give away the golden shovel and cap which had become symbols of the Thainship. “Knox” took these items and disappeared into the woods, but in the eyes of Cyris, who survived this encounter, the crusade had only just begun. ~The King Faces the Pumpkin Lord; 1798~ The interactions between this “Lord Knox” and Isalie deeply troubled me, mostly because I found it aboslutely ridiculous that any old fool could claim to be a god and order our leaders around. I had worked so hard to ensure that the new village government would maintain a separation of church and state, and feared that “Knox’s” confiscation of the Thain’s cap and shovel would be used as grounds to unjustly remove her. After all, Isalie was nearly as unpopular as I was, and despite her shaky yet calm relationship with Iris she was still heavily at odds with other village conservatives such as Alfie, Filibert Applefoot, and Onelia Peregrin. My report on the Knoxmas incident in the Bramblebury Gazette stirred up much anger, as did a missive put out by Monkey Peregrin, Iris’ adopted son, which claimed that the “Knox” who beat up Cyris was actually a demon. After getting in trouble with the other Peregrins, who were all devout Knoxists, Monkey tore the message down, but the damage had been done. Cyris continued to preach against “Knox”, something that somehow managed to land him in jail despite the fact that religious freedom was one of the key features of our constitution. Though they had been opponents during the Sheriff Elections, Alfie and Theo went practically insane together, harassing and assaulting Cyris and Isalie. His reputation destroyed, Theo soon disappeared from the village and the children that were in his care; Lilabeth, Sorrel, and Bear; were adopted by the Peregrins. With Theo and Andon going off on their own and Minto Townsend marrying into the ruling family of Talon's Grotto, Filibert and I were the only members of the old Halfling Liberty Organization left, and we had found ourselves on quite opposite ends of the political spectrum; times had certainly changed. Just as it began to seem that tensions could not possibly get any worse, “Lord Knox” put out his own missive, which, in addition to laying out a doctrine for Knoxists to follow, decried Isalie as an “unfit Thain” led astray by “temptresses and deranged people” and “democratic and political pigs.” It does not take any great amount of insight to know that these terms were used in reference to me, despite the fact that “Knox” apparently did not have the stones to call me out by name. The missive also implied that the only legitimate leaders of the halflings were the High Pumplar and Thain, a notion in direct contradiction to the constitution. The fact that “Knox” and his supporters were so hell bent on tearing down the republic and that "Knox" threatened to send the “trumpets of ruin blasting into the Gardner Burrow” was enough for me to believe that this “god” had destroyed our republic just like that. Fearing for the safety of both myself and my family, I packed up and lived in Haelun’or for a year or two, leaving the village to its own fate. ~The Departure of Greta; 1798~ As all of this happened, Iris remained mostly silent, something I cannot blame her for. She knew that to choose a side in this religious dispute was not her place as the Mayor. Though I think she privately believed that neither side was right, she did not make any public statements on the matter, and instead chose to keep the village focused on more cheerful things, such as a village-wide shogging tournament. While it’s not the approach I would have taken, I do think it may have been the right one. Despite all the bark “Knox” put into his rabble-rousing letter, nothing actually happened to Isalie or any of the improper halflings in the village. After Monkey Peregrin sent out a message to every corner of the world promising that the village was safe, I decided to make my way back. I was rather surprised to find that nothing had changed, I thought for sure my absence would mean the end of the republic, but Iris and Isalie simply continued carrying out their duties as best they could despite the trying times. Both were under a great deal of stress, however, with Iris even falling into a sort of depression. Though the village was still functioning, the problem of "Lord Knox" continued to loom over it. Something had to be done. ~The Grand Shogging Tournament; 1799~ Though Isalie and I briefly discussed the possibility of bringing in soldiers from Elvenesse to get rid of “Knox”, we both knew that doing that would kill both of our careers as village leaders, and likely cause us to be hated by the village forever. Thankfully, we never did have to take the matter into our own hands, seeing as a treant called Vorrijard decided to do it himself. I was not present in the village when it happened, but apparently the treant challenged “Knox’ to duel, which the Pumpkin Lord accepted. Despite our culture’s emphasis on nonviolence and our distaste for combat, the duel quickly became a village sensation as a fighting pit was constructed on the eastern side of Bramblebury and preparations were made for a public duel between “Knox” and any who wished to challenge him. I must say that, even though I doubted that this “Knox” was a god, I did not expect him to die at the hands of treant, nor was I there on the 24th of the First Seed, 1802 to witness it. I abhor violence, especially over something as trivial as religion, so I avoided the event and simply stayed home. It was only after the duel had occurred that I was informed that “Lord Knox” was dead. Some celebrated, others mourned, but I was simply glad it was all over. Believing the “enemy” to have been vanquished, Cyris calmed down and slowly faded into irrelevance while Jeanette became the sole authority on Knoxism in Bramblebury. ~The Duel; 1802~ With the Knoxist Crisis over, Bramblebury more or less returned to what it had been during the early months of Iris’ Mayorship. The fighting pit was torn down and a theatre constructed in its place, parties and festivals resumed, Filibert began holding drinking nights like in Brandybrook, and young Lilabeth even attempted to go to the moon. With the end of her term approaching, Iris set to work on creating a system of tunnels beneath the village which we could flee to in case of danger; they were much too small for bigguns to fit into; something that might prove very important in the future, though as of my writing this the village has yet to be attacked. In any case, the fact that the village and its government survived the Knoxist Crisis gave me great hope that the system I had built would last for generations. Iris’ great contributions to our village combined with her fine leadership seemed to prove the worth of having an elected Mayor alongside the Thain and Sheriff. It was not a perfect system, but it was working. As fantastic a job as Iris did, however, being in the position she had been in during the Knoxist Crisis took quite a toll on her. As the Mayoral Election of 1805 approached, Iris announced that she would not be pursuing a second term as Mayor of Bramblebury, and instead provided an endorsement for her cousin Onelia. ~Onelia the Orator; 1799~ Though it was never openly admitted, the Peregrins seemed to have intended to establish a dynasty wherein each member of the family would serve a term or two as Mayor, ensuring that they always had control of the village. With just how popular and successful Iris had been in both Bloomerville and Bramblebury, they certainly had the votes to do it. Recalling how she had behaved in Bloomerville, I was opposed to Onelia’s ascension to office from the very beginning, and eagerly supported both Burt Hassenfort and my wife Kerraline in their campaigns for Mayor. Ultimately, however, I thought it didn’t matter who would win that election. If someone believed to be a literal god couldn’t bring down the system, then who possibly could? I had not considered that, though our republic had passed nearly every test thrown at it during the Iris Peregrin years, it had yet to be tested in one of the most important aspects of a democracy; the ability to have an orderly transfer of power. Unfortunately, that was a test it would not pass.
  15. [!] A fresh pamphlet is pinned to the Bramblebury notice board! The Rise and Fall of the Halfling Republic A History of the Halflings from 1786-1818 By Chapter III: Rise of the Peregrins 1791-1796 Given the great adversity experienced by the halflings between 1789 and 1791 and the general feeling of despair that loomed over the ironically named Fort Hope during those years, one can easily imagine that few halflings expected 1792 to be any different; I certainly did not. Apart from another apparition of “Lord Knox”, who provided some rather cryptic information about the assassins that were targeting the village leadership, the opening days of 1792 were hardly any different than any part of 1791 had been. Unbeknownst to me or Thain Isalie Gardner however, something had been set into motion that would change not only the experience of the halflings living in fort Fort Hope but the course of halfling history itself. Amid the chaos and confusion of 1791, a new halfling arrived at Fort Hope. Though few took much notice of her at first, she would prove to be one of the key figures in this history; her name was Iris Peregrin. ~Iris Tends To Her Chickens; 1793~ The Peregrins are an ancient family. Iris was not the first of their line, which could be traced back to Andwise Peregrin, the leader of Willow Hollow, a halfling village in Vailor. Though my knowledge on Willow Hillow’s history is lacking, Iris’ account of it, which presumably was handed down to her as a family story, seemed to imply that the “glory days'' of Willow Hollow were a time when the Peregrin family held significant influence over their fellow halflings, acting as paragons of properness. At some point, however, Andwise lost his title and supposedly the village turned improper and biggun-like. Vailor was inhabited long before my parents were even twinkles in my grandparents’ eyes, but I do think that the notion that Andwise’ fall from power corrupted Willow Hollow should be taken with a grain of salt, seeing as similar terms have been used to describe the rise good leaders like Isalie. In any case, the children of Andwise were upset with the direction the village had taken. Mirabelle, whom Iris is directly descended from, fled into the wild to get away from the “impropers'' while Milly followed the rest of the group to Axios, where she helped manage a proper village known as Reedsborough before eventually joining Mirabelle in the wild. The Peregrins were not again seen in Axios or Atlas, entirely missing the events of Dunshire and Brandybrook, but for all that time their family stuck together, isolated and romanticizing the days of Willow Hollow. According to Iris herself, it was these tales of a great people that drove her to seek out the halflings of Brandybrook in hopes of reliving the glory days of the Peregrins. ~The Village of Reedsborough; c. 1600~ It should come as no surprise then, that Iris was utterly disappointed with what had become of our people. Admittedly, even I don’t think it’s any exaggeration to say that the halflings of Fort Hope were completely unrecognizable as the descendants of the halflings of Willow Hollow. Iris had been raised on tales of a cheery, traditional race who were always smiling and never dared to use weapons or minas. She was also upset that the halflings were ruled by a single all-powerful Thain; Willow Hollow’s leaders had been numerous and elected. While I cannot say for certain when such a thought came upon Iris, it seems that, at some point in the following years, she decided to take it upon herself to restore properness to the halflings and make her people great again. After milling about the Fort for a few months, Iris’ chance came when she was approached by Filibert Applefoot, who had returned from the self-imposed exile alluded to in the previous chapter and wanted help building burrows. Though his original plans had been denied by the fortkeepers, he and a few others had grown so tired of sleeping in the biggun barracks Isalie had arranged for us that they were willing to accept having walls around it, which they would later be allowed to turn into hedges. Believing the restoration of village life to be first step in a rebirth of properness, Iris and Filibert along with a few others set to work immediately on constructing burrows within the Fort, all right under Isalie’s nose and without her permission. I even claimed one of these burrows for myself, finding the prospect of sleeping in a normal bed and being able to grow grapes irresistible. ~The Village Under Construction; 1792~ When Isalie did discover this illegal village she was quite upset. It was yet another instance within recent memory of people blatantly disobeying her; she had insisted time and again that Fort Hope was a temporary home, and had even negotiated accommodations for our people in Urguan, seeing as the dwarves had pledged to protect us from the assassins. Filibert reacted as he usually did, responding in an impish and rude manner, and Iris later mentioned feeling afraid of Isalie. Though neither of them ever intended it, this first clash between Iris and Isalie proved to be the beginning of a political rivalry that would turn our entire nation upside down. Indeed, it can be argued that my willingness to give Iris a chance combined with the trust Isalie had placed in me as an advisor was the only reason the peace was kept in the early days of this new village, which soon became known as Bloomerville. Not wanting to add physical divisions to the social ones that were already developing among our people, I convinced Isalie not to move us all to Urguan, and Bloomerville became the home of the halflings for the next four years. ~Bloomerville at Night; 1793~ Unfortunately, no amount of mediating, compromise-seeking, and pamphleteering on my part could change the fact that Isalie and Iris didn’t trust each other. Isalie had always been rather conscious of her image as a leader, feeling that she was widely disliked. While Isalie certainly did not give herself enough credit for her own virtues, her tendency towards anger and bluntness were admittedly off-putting to many. Iris, on the other hand, was immensely charismatic. Whether she intended to or not, her appearance was that of the nicest person imaginable; a young little lady wanting to do nothing but good for the world. The entire community was absolutely enamored by her and orphans such as Taurin “Monkey” Rutledge and James Ashfoot practically lined up to be adopted by her. I suppose Isalie felt just as threatened by Iris’s popularity as Iris felt threatened by Isalie’s authority. At first I mistrusted Iris as well. Ever since my breakup with Filibert I had been very wary of people obsessed with properness. Though I would soon find that Iris shared many of my views on the workings of a democracy, I felt very uneasy with the fact that Iris had immense support for everything she did while Isalie and I had close to none. Furthermore, Iris and I disagreed heavily on what the basic purpose of a government was; in her rather conservative view, the purpose of a halfling government was to defend tradition and keep the people happy. By comparison, my belief that governments exist only to protect the natural rights of the people must have been seen as improper and radical. Furthermore, while I was more than willing to keep the Thain involved with the government as an unelected official of limited power, Iris believed that the office should be removed entirely. ~A Storm in Bloomerville; 1794~ Despite these disagreements, Iris was far too good natured to cause any real trouble. That would be left to her sons and cousins. Autumn of 1792 saw the arrival of Onelia Peregrin, a direct descendant of the aforementioned Milly Peregrin; and Perry Overhill, a distant cousin of hers. Though Iris had already been working hard to breathe new life into the halfling race, it was only after Onelia and Perry arrived that the "Proper Renaissance" for which Bloomerville is known for truly began. Despite all the positive connotations of the phrase, however, a good portion of this “Renaissance” is perhaps better described as a harassment campaign. Whatever the intentions of these new Peregrins may have been, their views on properness were extreme perhaps even by Applefoot standards, and their methods were quite frankly heavy-handed. Onelia had no patience for impropers or bigguns, and her demeanor was cantankerous, stubborn, and pedantic. A Peregrin in all but name, Perry was equally as extreme, harboring an immense and senseless loathing for bigguns which he would later attempt to justify with “science.” Not long at all after the arrival of Onelia and Perry, the promise of Peregrin properness already began to show a less flattering side. Elder Andon Cloudberry was harassed and called a disgrace for having a dagger to protect himself with. Rufus Knowise faced similar, repeated harassment for “general improperness” and my wine shop, which accepted minas from bigguns in exchange for wine, which was provided to halflings for free, was vandalized with pumpkins and posters complaining about improperness. ~The Peregrin Family; 1792~ While I would like to believe that a family leader as kind-hearted as Iris did not condone any of this, it must be noted that Peregrins had a very coordinated and close-knit household, holding clandestine meetings in their burrow on a regular basis, sometimes inviting family friends. Looking back, I do wonder how much of what ended up happening in Bramblebury was planned in advance, and how much say Iris had in any of it. Given what I know of their personalities however, I find it more likely that the greatest influence on the group was actually Onelia, and that for the most part Iris’ sometimes unfortunate place in our history resulted not from any ill intentions on her part but from her loyalty to her family. The same can likely be said for others within the Peregrins’ inner circle, and perhaps to a lesser degree within the village as a whole. Though loyalty and kinship certainly played a role in the Peregrins’ popularity, it must be understood that for anybody who wasn’t improper or otherwise at odds with their agenda, their arrival seemed to signal the beginning of a new golden age for the halflings. Under the informal guidance of the Peregrins, Bloomerville expanded further to include farms, bee hives, and two drinking establishments. Perry produced all manner of intoxicating and invigorating substances for the village’s enjoyment, and Iris continued to be as lovely a person as ever, hosting parties and attending festivals, which became common once Bloomerville was built. Recognizing that most halflings who carried swords did so because they did not know how to make good use of a shovel in combat, the Peregrins also provided training in shovel combat, a program that was admittedly quite successful. With just how much the Peregrins and their friends were doing for the village, it was begining to seem like Isalie had lost her relevance, becoming the ruler of the halflings only in name. This was something I was not particularly comfortable with considering my entire plan for the halfling village in Almaris had come to rest on Isalie’s shoulders. ~A Sunny Day in Bloomerville; 1793~ It was around the same time Perry and Onelia arrived that allied bigguns won their final victory against the demons in Korvassa. The celebration of this victory was rather short-lived, however, as it was soon revealed to them that the doom of Arcas was imminent. Though we had known for a while that the halflings would soon be departing Arcas along with the rest of the world, the question of where the halflings would dwell within Almaris; the new world, had yet to be answered. It was only after dignitaries on behalf of the Sea Prince Feanor met with me and Isalie that it was decided the halflings would renew our long-standing arrangement for protection from Elvenesse, something that was protested only in passing by Onelia. Wishing to inform the people of what had been decided at our meeting with the elves, Isalie called a village meeting for the 22nd of Snow’s Maiden, 1794. In her missive, she promised also that leadership and government would be discussed at the meeting as well. Despite having been mostly dormant in my writing and politicking for the past few years, I spent the months leading up to it hard at work revising the proposed constitution I had written back in 1786 to be more “halflling-like”, as it were. I studied the old systems of Dunshire, Willow Hollow, and other previous villages and quickly came to the conclusion that an Elder system would not do us much good. I also took note of the fact that all these previous attempts at a halfling republic had been flimsy, having no written constitution and very vague frameworks. That was not a mistake I intended on repeating, and so I created an entirely new form of government of my own design; one where the powers would be separated between three figures of government: a Thain, a Mayor, and a Sheriff; of which the latter two would be elected. ~Goodbarrel Presents the Constitution; 1794~ The thirty or so minutes I spent standing up at the meeting presenting this plan were and remain the proudest moments of my life. There I was, proposing my own form of government, one that I thought would last generations and immortalize me as a hero among the halflings. Though this experiment would not turn out at all like I had hoped, I can at least take pride in the effort, and if nothing else it makes for a valuable story. Though the crowd gathered at the meeting was very small by the end, their applause filled me with great confidence, as did Isalie’s praise of my work. It would be a very long time indeed before I realized that there were people in the village who were not quite so enthusiastic about the system of government I was working to establish. ~The Bloomerville Shogging Grounds; 1793~ That being said, I do think it was around this time that informal partisan politics began to take shape within the village. Though I had warned against forming political parties, and though nobody had any intention of doing so, from the late 1790s onward they existed in all but name. For the most part, opinions within the village fell into four political-leanings; Bernardism, Halfling Conservatism, Goodbarrelian Democracy, and Centrism: The Bernardists were a largely silent group during the 1790s, and were likely the smallest as well. They believed in a traditional, proper halfling village under the rule of a single all powerful Thain in the fashion of Rollo Applefoot. They rejected democracy as a source of dysfunction and an example of biggun influence, and had they been larger in number they probably would have tried to stop Isalie from allowing my system of government from being put into effect. The Halfling Conservatives were almost totally synonymous with the Peregrin family and their friends. Though they supported the concept of multiple elected leaders, they rejected the idea of a Thain and instead wished to return to the Elder system that had preceded Rollo. More than anything else, however, the Conservatives considered enforcing properness to be the most important function of halfling government and society, and some of them were willing to go quite far to do that. The Goodbarrelian Democrats were, as one might imagine, people who aligned with my vision for a harmonious halfling village where propers and impropers could coexist peacefully and equally and where the government was by, for, and of the people and existed only for their protection and benefit. The concept of Thainship was largely irrelevant to this ideology, but apart from a decade of attempted compromise between 1805 and 1815, my position has generally been that having a Thain is good for the village. Finally, Centrists refer to the group of halflings who either held a mixture of these views or simply did not care at all. For the most part, I would argue that Centrists have made up the largest slice of our population and likely always will, seeing as halflings tend to avoid politics whenever possible. ~Fort Hope to Bloomerville; 1795~ The emergence of these ideologies was reflected in several books that were written in 1794. The first of these was a hateful volume known as Biggun Science by Perry Overhill, which posited that bigguns are genetically inferior to halflings due to being less intelligent. This “science”, which would become known as “Biggun Realism” would spread through the village like poison. Though most halflings maintained our reputation for good hospitality in the following years, there were a few too many incidents of bigguns being harrassed, degraded, or extorted. Also written in 1794 was a very brief history of Bloomerville by Iris Peregrin. While I would recommend the book as a good introduction to Bloomerville history for those less interested in this more analytical text, I will note that it very much glorified the Peregrins and their actions. 1794 also saw the publication of the first edition of the Goodbarrelian Manifesto, which, if you can hunt it down, I’d like to note is far closer to my actual views than the 1806 edition, which was edited to appease the political climate of the time. The closing days of Bloomerville were largely calm and somehow optimistic. Another apparition from “Lord Knox” in Grand Harvest of 1795 saw the young Jeannette Applebottom be elevated to the title of High Pumplar, the head of the Knoxist religion. I recall paying little attention to this at all, mostly because the constitution I had written separated church and state and I was not, and never really have been, a Knoxist having given up the crackpot concept of religion in general around the time I divorced Filibert. However, though Jeanette and her office were not intended to have any power in the new government whatsoever, in later years her influence would be quite significant. To her credit, Jeannette has always been wise beyond her years, even if the only qualifications she has received are a “blessing” from a strange man with a pumpkin on his head. ~High Pumplar Jeanette Leads the Halflings; 1795~ Regardless, Jeanette became High Pumplar at a troubling time. Biggun cities such as Helena and Lareh’thilln were being destroyed as all manner of supernatural calamities and seemingly natural disasters brought ruin to the lands of Arcas. Hoping to raise the spirits of not only the halflings of Bloomerville but also the biggun refugees we would visit, Jeanette led the final Pumpkin Raid of Arcas, one that was quite successful as we even got a few of my old high elf friends to join us on our way back to the village. ~The Last Pumpkin Raid; 1795~ However, not even a week following that pumpkin raid, Bloomerville was destroyed in a terrible quake, and we were once again all evacuated to the Spicy Shrimp. Unlike last time, however, we knew where we were going and what we would be doing once we got there. I recall quite a strong sense of optimism as we sailed away from the wastes of Arcas into the unknown. With the constitution safely in my pocket and all the preparations made for the construction of a new village, I was sure that all that was needed to create the perfect village I had dreamed of for so long was for Isalie to get around to reading and signing the constitution. Though I knew Iris was widely adored and her family influential, it truly had not occurred to me just how dramatically different our nation had become after taking them in. I went to Almaris thinking that the next decades would be remembered as a “Goodbarrelian Era”, but in truth, the next 21 years would belong to the Peregrins.
  16. [!] A fresh pamphlet is pinned to the Bramblebury notice board! The Rise and Fall of the Halfling Republic A History of the Halflings from 1786-1818 By Chapter II: Turbulent Times 1787-1791 The Brandybrook of the late 1780s was a busier place than it had been in the previous half of the decade. Despite my informal retirement from politics, the idea of making changes to the halfling government never really went away. Though not a good one, the speech I had given at my wedding had been earned me something of a reputation, and though the rest of the Halfling Liberty Association dissolved, Minto Townsend remained determined to carry on my “struggle”; which, in his mind, meant putting out a missive claiming responsibility for radicalizing the HLA, rudely disobeying Isalie at every turn, and harassing her family. If nothing else, the village seemed to come more alive following the events of my wedding, due in no small part to the organization of more parties and harvest events by my then-husband Filibert Applefoot and his tavern co-worker, Dandelion Greenholm. Anyone interested in the day-to-day goings on of late Brandybrook should seek out old copies of the Beetroot News, which was published yearly by Filibert. Though it was largely a tabloid at first, putting out embarrassing stories and infringing on the privacy of village leaders such as Elder Kit-Kat and Thain Isalie Gardner, in its later years it was a quaint little newspaper of sorts, documenting mostly mundane events in the village. ~Cheesemaking with the Greenholms; 1788~ Two events detailed in Beetroot News that were not so mundane, however, were the Battles at Last Light Camp in Korvassa. At a meeting in Snow’s Maiden 1786, Isalie had pledged the halflings’ support to Prince Feanor of Elvenesse in the war against the inferi. Though I cannot know for a fact why Isalie felt we should be involved in the battles, I can at least note that many in Brandybrook felt that resisting the inferi was everyone’s duty; not just that of the bigguns; besides, the Sea Prince had asked politely. ~Isalie’s Pledge; 1786~ Halflings served as medics during the inferi raid on Siramenor in First Seed 1786 but it was only in the First Seed and Grand Harvest of 1788 that we were actually sent to fight in two battles in Korvassa. At these battles, the halflings were essentially an auxiliary force to the army of Elevenesse. Though some of us, most notably the Oceantoe brothers and Minto, chose to fight, most of us, myself included, were there to provide medical assistance to anyone who needed it. Anybody looking for an accurate account of the battles should seek out a volume written by Armilas Draconis, a high elf who fought on the front lines of the battle and even witnessed some its more consequential events firsthand. From my rather vague recollection, the goal of these operations was to defend the allied bigguns’ camp at Last Light. Considering that much more stood between the inferi and Brandybrook than just that camp, it may be easy for one with hindsight to question why halflings had any business being there. I can only speak for myself, but I do recall feeling a sense of duty to the village as well as a desire to contribute to the defense of Arcas as a whole. While I can’t say I or anyone was excited to go to war, I don’t think most of us were prepared for what we would find. ~Halfling Medics at Korvassa; 1787~ I recall the sights and sounds of those two terrible days far better than I have any desire to. Everyone in the village was given armor forged by the elves, we gathered medical supplies and weapons, some of which would definitely have been considered improper by Peregrin standards. We were then put on boats and sailed to what would be best described as a colony of hell. While I do not wish to write what exactly I saw on Korvassa, I will say that it has never left me, not even after thirty years. Having discovered I was pregnant later that month, I had to be persuaded to go to the next battle, and it was even more horrific and deadly than the first. I was nowhere near the site where it happened, but it was at that second battle that Elder Kit-Kat Gardner, the adopted daughter of Isalie, was slain by a horde of inferi. Though the aging Fred Puddlefoot had also given his life at the previous battle, it was the death of Kit-Kat that truly shocked the village. She died at an immensely young age, having only turned thirty-three a few short years prior. Her boyfriend Elder Andon Cloudberry had been robbed of his chance to propose to her, and her mother had lost a second child within the span of a decade. I had hardly known Kit-Kat, but I shared in the grief that engulfed the village in the following days. ~Kit-Kat Faces the Horde; 1787~ If nothing else, the Battles at Last Light Camp served as harrowing reminders that most halflings don't belong on the battlefield. Following Kit-Kat’s death, Isalie decreed that no resident of Brandybrook was to fight demons outside the village, a decision protested only by Minto. Even though we did not go again to the demons, however, they eventually came to us - or at least to Aegrothond. On the 22nd of the Grand Harvest, 1788, the village was enjoying a peaceful bonfire when suddenly the air was filled with terrifying sights and sounds of a demon invasion. The Thain called for the immediate evacuation of the village to the emergency tunnels, an order disobeyed only by Minto. Despite the terror of our community and its protectors being under siege, we were still able to enjoy a few laughs and a fine party in the tunnels beneath the village. That was until Filibert managed to get into a fight with Isalie after demanding to be restored to the title of Sheriff. Though I was unable to calm him down, I do think Isalie took note of my efforts, and was likely impressed with my lack of hostility towards her as she pledged to make changes to the village government following the end of the demon crisis. Though I did not know it at the time, Isalie was about to give me an unprecedented amount of influence over the village’s future. ~A Family Takes Shelter; 1788~ The first hint of this new partnership between myself and Isalie came on the 6th of the Amber Cold, 1788, when Isalie appointed me Elder. This decision raised a few eyebrows, considering that I had spoken against Isalie less than two years prior, and had only been living in the village for a little over three. Nevertheless, the resignation of Falco Goldworthy and the death of Kit-Kat had left the village one Elder short, and I was, in Isalie’s mind, undoubtedly the most qualified person to assume the office. She praised my dedication to the village and my good ideas, asking only that I trust her, and I have ever since. Aside from my appointment to Elder, the months following the Siege of Aegrothond were mostly gloomy. The air was thick with the disgusting smell of blood, and many spoke of the impending doom of Arcas and the likelihood that we would soon have to leave our beloved village. Isalie’s husband Taurin and the ghost of Sean Puddlefoot went so far as to rig the village with bombkins, pumpkins filled with gunpowder, so that in the event of an attack we could destroy our village before the demons could, and kill a few of them in the process. This was the last major contribution made by Taurin to Brandybrook before he left the village, leaving behind his wife and daughter as well. ~The Ghost of Sean Puddlefoot; 1787~ Despite the growing darkness of the times, the years between 1787 and 1789 actually saw quite a few new and important halflings arrive in the village such as Bassett Mudfoot; Meadow Proudfoot; Rufus Knowise; future High Pumplar Jeneatte Applebottom; future Head Librarian Callum Fiddleberry; my future wife and future Elder Kerraline Erawick; and Winter, sister of the late Kit-Kat, then in disguise and known as “Summer". Even though the impending doom of Arcas was felt within the village long beforehand, the actual fall of Brandybrook itself was still quite shocking, mainly because nobody expected it would happen in the middle of a party. On the 20th of the Grand Harvest, 1789, a great Knox o’ Ween feast was hosted by Burt Hassenfort, son of the late and great halfling hero Benedict Hassenfort. It was a fun celebration, including all manner of games and festivities. Aside from some minor disturbances caused by Minto wearing a mask that resembled my face, the party went splendidly until the pumpkin carving. ~The Knox o’ Ween Costume Contest; 1789~ For reasons I am still wholly unsure of, one of the uncarved pumpkins began to inflate and float in the air as if possessed by some unseen force. It expanded to the size of a small burrow and began spewing acidic pumpkin guts at the party-goers. Despite our calls for aid from Elevenesse and attempts by some bigguns to fight the monster, we were eventually left with no choice but to detonate the bombkins, destroying that demonic pumpkin and our village along with it. The only explanation we received of any of this came from the cryptic words of a pumpkin-wearing apparition claiming to be Lord Knox. ~Attack of the Giant Pumpkin; 1789~ With the evacuation of the entire village onto the Spicy Shrimp, the halfling crises of late Arcas truly began. Our people had very suddenly been rendered homeless and crammed on to an old pirate ship. The months we spent at sea drove many of us to slight insanity, and the question of where to go was divisive. The rulers of Elvenesse and other biggun nations had been discussing the possibility of sailing to a new continent for quite some time, but nobody was quite sure when such a migration would occur. Many, myself and Isalie included, believed that it would occur soon enough that we only needed to seek temporary accommodations somewhere. Others, such as Filibert, were convinced that a world migration would not be occurring for quite some time, and that we needed to resettle Brandybrook or at least build a new village elsewhere. ~The Ruin of Brandybrook; 1789~ Unfortunately, that debate proved to be the first of many times where Isalie’s trust in my wisdom was misplaced. Filibert was right; Arcas would not be evacuated for another seven years, but Isalie nevertheless decided to arrange a temporary home for the halflings at Fort Hope, a dreary castle resting on an island north of Sutica. Though it was good to walk on solid land once more, in some ways, the move to Fort Hope in Snow’s Maiden 1790 only made life for the halflings worse. Since Fort Hope was meant to be a temporary establishment, Isalie had no plans of building burrows, and instead arranged for us all to be housed in the barracks. Filibert almost immediately protested this and found himself annoyed with the Fortkeepers’ unwillingness to let him tear down the walls and build burrows, to the point where he simply walked out of Fort Hope to have his project elsewhere, leaving me and our daughter behind. As both myself and Isalie dealt with our own familial issues and Andon continued to mourn Kit-Kat, the halfling community at Fort Hope fell into further disrepair. There was no feasting or partying between 1790 and 1792, and drinking and smoking were more often used as escape methods than pleasurable pastimes. All this was made even worse in Snow’s Maiden 1791, when an attack on Andon revealed the existence of a conspiracy to assassinate the halfling leadership. Andon, myself, Isalie and her family had all been marked for death, and these assassins claimed the credit for killing Kit-Kat and Polo too, even though both of their deaths had occurred long before I was ever close enough to the Gardners to be put on a hit list with them. ~Halflings Drown Their Sorrows; 1791~ The added uneasiness of being under threat from assassins was made only worse for some by the fact that both myself and Andon felt it necessary to carry bladed weapons to protect ourselves. Some more traditional halflings began to say that our people were losing our cultural identity by cheerlessly cowering behind stone walls and bearing biggun weapons. Though I stand firm in my belief that the manner in which myself and Andon were acting was reasonable given the circumstances, it was nevertheless a terrible time to be a halfling. Many longed for the brighter days of the past, and it was this longing that would form the basis of a new movement, one that overshadowed mine in every imaginable way. It was the perfect opportunity for a long-forgotten family to return and leave an irreversible mark on our nation's history; the age of the Peregrins was at hand...
  17. [!] A fresh pamphlet is pinned to the Bramblebury notice board! The Rise and Fall of the Halfling Republic A History of the Halflings from 1786-1818 By Chapter I: The Birth of a Revolution 1786-1787 It should go without saying that the world of 1786 was a very different place. The continent of Almaris was all but untouched and the lands of Arcas were crawling with every civilized being imaginable. The biggun nations of the world were all in an uproar as vile inferi ravaged the islands of Korvassa and threatened to pave their path of death and destruction to every corner of the continent. Though all the chaos and strife of these years may seem foreign to those living in a more peaceful present, perhaps in some ways 1786 was no different than any other year in history: it was the best of times for some and the worst for others. For the halflings of Brandybrook, however, 1786 was simply a sleepy year. Though only water stood between Elvenesse’s capital city of Aegrothond and the demon-ravaged deserts of Korvassa, and only a small forest between Brandybrook and Aegrothond, the fear and despair that gripped the biggun nations was all but absent in Brandybrook. Perhaps we simply trusted in the ability of Elvenesse to protect us, but I think it far more likely that we were simply ignoring it; a natural halfling response to biggun drama of any kind - drink and party and leave worrying about the end of the world to the bigguns. ~Brandybrook’s Riverside; mid 18th century~ As idyllic as this image of late Brandybrook is, the village was not without its problems. The resignation and disappearance of Malfoy Proudfoot in the years prior had left the village without a Sheriff, something that proved to be a serious problem following the murder of the young Polo Gardner, son of Thain Isalie Gardner; the appointed leader of our village, and her then-husband Taurin. Only the informal crime-investigating organization known as BOOSE, run by noted improper halfling Sean Puddlefoot, who died as well soon after, was available to hunt down and bring the culprit, Kat Comb Applefoot, to justice. Even following Kat Comb’s death, however, a feeling of dysfunction lingered in the air around Brandybrook. Halflings were seldom seen walking about the village, gathering only during tavern nights run by local librarian and journalist Filibert Applefoot. Many newcomers went without burrows as Elders Falco Goldworthy and Kit-Kat Gardner, both appointed by Isalie as was the system at the time, devoted themselves to other matters. Isalie herself was rarely seen, likely still recovering from the loss of one of her children. ~The Funeral of Polo Gardner; 1783~ Even during the times the entire village seemed to be empty, however, there was almost always one lone halfling lady sitting in the Toady Traveller Inn, intently scratching her quill across a long roll of parchment. Though she had dwelt in the village for not even a year, I personally knew her quite well; her name was Greta Goodbarrel. Though the story of how I ended up in Brandybrook is best saved for a book of its own, I do think a brief summary of it would lend itself well to this tale. I was born in 1739 in the secluded village of Norbury. Being on the doorstep of the Holy Orenian Empire, it was a village heavily influenced in speech and custom by humans. It was, by Brandybrook standards, quite improper, and the worst aspect of this was, without a doubt, the bizarre religion of Knoxo-Canonism; which merged the halfling deity of Knox with the teachings of Canonist Church. Though Norbury elected its Elders, only male halflings were allowed to serve, and the Greenfoot family, into which my mother was born, had nearly uncontested control of every election there. My father was not from Norbury, but for the most part he integrated himself into its culture. I was raised a Knoxo-Canonist, expected by my mother to marry into a wealthy family and have no relationships outside of that; especially not with any women. It was only because of my father’s love of books and willingness to teach that I learned to read and write. When I turned forty-three, I left Norbury and soon found myself in Lareh’thilln, the Silver City, the capital of Haelun’or in Arcas. There I brushed shoulders with several high elven scholars, including Maenor Aildhuin, Aiera Sullas, Valorin Celia’thilln and Khaeryr Leverys. Though I stayed there for less than three years, it was in Haelun’or that I would study the ideas of democratic government and natural rights, which I would carry with me to Brandybrook in 1785. ~A Night in the Toady Traveller; 1785~ I did not arrive in Brandybrook with any political intentions, however. The old life I had in Haelun’or had been thrown away rather hastily, and I came to Brandybrook in search of something, anything to do with myself. It was only after hearing the complaints of halflings such Filibert Applefoot and Minto Townsend with regards to Brandybrook’s leadership that I took it upon myself to change the village for the better. Admittedly, I knew even then that the petty problems mentioned by Filibert and Minto could be solved without the radical changes to village society I had in mind. Most of what I would say and do in the following years was necessary only in my mind. Even I can’t say what exactly I was trying to prove by conducting this great experiment, but I put every ounce of my being into it, and did truly believe that it would all be of benefit to the village. But what exactly did I believe? As many I am sure have noticed, my views on what a halfling government should look like seem to change every decade. Indeed, the proposed constitution I penned in 1786 was far more complex and bureaucratic than any that was actually put into effect. It was, in essence, a copy of Haelun’or’s constitution at the time, but without any of the nonsense about purity. It provided for an unelected Thain and an elected Council of Elders led by a Mayor. I recall being warned at the time that these were “biggun ideas”, and would be rejected by the village, but I ignored such notions. I have never personally considered an idea to be “biggun” or “halfling”, there are simply good ones and bad ones. Though the precise details of what I considered to be a good form of government for the halflings would change many times in the following years, I have always held to heart the same three fundamental and self-evident truths; that all halflings are born free and equal, that all halflings are born with the natural rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness; and that the right to rule comes only from the people, not from Knox or any other elite figure or group. Though a number of manifestos and speeches of mine have over-complicated it, that is ultimately what Goodbarrelian Democracy means, and it's those things which I held to be essential to any sort of halfling constitution. ~A Supper Party at Greenholm Burrow; 1786~ Putting ideas on paper is one thing, however; putting them into action is something entirely different. I decided early on that my goal was not to remove Isalie from power. Despite the harshness with which Minto and Filibert described her, it was my firm belief that anybody could be made to compromise, and I knew that a compromise would be essential to maintaining stability. Besides, the village had been led by an appointed Thain since the time of Rollo Applefoot. That was not a tradition I intended on breaking. All the same, it seemed unrealistic and undemocratic to just send my plan to Isalie and expect her to approve it. I needed the people of the village to be on my side. Unfortunately, getting the village on my side was something I was never truly able to do at any point in my career. I interviewed many people in the village, but most seemed uninterested in revolution. The only person who really took my ideas seriously at the time was Minto, who co-founded the Halfling Liberty Association with me on the evening of the 1st of the Grand Harvest, 1786. Though we were able to persuade Andon Cloudberry, Theodore Mowood, and Filibert Applefoot to join the HLA, each had their own shortcomings. Andon joined only out of peer pressure, and worried often that our actions would harm or offend his girlfriend, Kit-Kat, who was also the adopted daughter of Isalie. Theo joined mostly out of self-interest, hoping his involvement would provide him an opportunity to become Sheriff. As for Filibert, he likely joined only to get closer to me; judging by the fact that he ended up asking me to become his girlfriend the very same night. Considering I had no intentions to overthrow the Thain, one might wonder why the HLA existed. Its purpose was ultimately quite simple; it was a group of halflings who had agreed to sign the letter of petition and proposed constitution that I was planning to send to Isalie. In the event Isalie rejected these proposals, we would then stage protests, the nature of which I never really thought out, mostly because I never had to. In the closing days of the Deep Cold, 1786, I mentioned to Filibert that I needed an event that would draw a large crowd in order to give a speech. Having planned to do so anyway, he proposed we get married, and that I would give the speech at our wedding. As stupid as this plan was, I agreed to it; I needed to get my voice out there, and could think of no easier way to do so. ~The Goodbarrel-Applefoot Wedding; 1787~ Unfortunately, it just so happened that this proposal coincided with a declaration by Isalie that Andon and Filibert had been appointed Elder and Sheriff respectively. Minto, who did not think very highly of Isalie, was quick to jump to conclusions and posited that Isalie had somehow found out about the supposedly secret HLA and was trying to placate us or diminish the size of the organization. Indeed, Andon left the HLA soon after being appointed, and the notion that Isalie had found out about our organization did not seem too far fetched considering the Warden, a local elf who protected the village and had eyes for Isalie, had been privy to some of our meetings. Not knowing Isalie at all, I took Minto’s theory as fact and rewrote the speech I would give at my wedding to be far more scathing of Isalie and her Elders. I must say, when I woke up on the morning of the 20th of Snow's Maiden, 1787, I did not expect to be nearly killed at my own wedding. I did, admittedly, intend to inspire some anger, but certainly not to the point of people drawing swords on me. Were it not for the brave actions of Minto, Anne Gardner, and my then-husband Filibert, I may not have lived to tell this tale, let alone accomplish anything I did in the years following. In hindsight, the occurrences of that day were rather amusing in their absurdity. I was almost stabbed by Edward Oceantoe, the very halfling who officiated that marriage, and I made my introduction to Isalie, someone who would become a very dear friend of mine in the future, by calling her a tyrant. The entire thing was viewed by the village as a political stunt, and given how quickly Filibert and I had hooked up, many were willing to bet that the marriage would end within the next five years. That was not the only reason this wedding was prophetic, however, as it also gave quite a bit of insight as to what can happen when halflings get too political. Unfortunately, that is a lesson I did not take to heart. ~The Goodbarrel Wedding Speech; 1787~ Considering that we had never spoken prior to that wedding, Isalie was rather shocked by what I said about her. Fearing a conspiracy against her, she dismissed Filibert from the position of Sheriff and marched almost immediately to Applefoot Burrow to settle the score with me. Thankfully, we were able to explain ourselves to each other, and she agreed to at least have a look at the letter of petition and constitution I had written. I published these documents to the Brandybrook notice board as well, along with a letter apologizing for the incidents of my wedding. Though I was forgiven for the riot, nobody was persuaded to support my bid for democracy, in fact the drama was enough to convince Theo to leave the HLA, which I promptly dissolved as more and more people made public their complaints about me trying to impose “biggun ideas” on a halfling village. Nevertheless, for a time after 1787, the revolution was in Isalie’s hands, not mine, and I did not make any major publications during those years aside from the odd news article, focusing instead on starting a family with Filibert. Though my early attempts at political mobilization may have accomplished little in the short term, they certainly set the stage for the series of halfling revolutions that would follow. I don’t think anybody at the time could possibly have predicted how all of this would turn out, especially considering that some of the most important figures in this story had yet to arrive. All the same, the warnings that this “experiment” of mine could go horribly wrong were present from the very beginning. I may have been the first to ignore them, but I was certainly not the only one. It would take far more than just one rambling little lady to change the course of halfling history...
  18. [!] A pamphlet is pinned to the Bramblebury notice board! The Rise and Fall of the Halfling Republic A History of the Halflings from 1786-1818 By Introduction On the fourteenth of the Grand Harvest, 1818, Elder Jordan Applebottom of Bramblebury defied the duties he accepted as Elder of Bramblebury and proclaimed Rolladango Applefoot the Thain of Bramblebury. In doing so, he brought to a swift end an entire era of halfling history. The toils and squabbles of the thirty-two years that preceded that moment were rendered pointless. Though the drama and chaos of the three-Elder system was eliminated, the recognition of our natural rights and the separation of Knoxism from the halfling government died with it. It would be wholly unfair, however, to blame Jordan Applebottom for the destruction of our republic. It must be understood that, just as Jordan insisted in his final declaration, the republic had already killed itself from within. The manner in which this occurred is complicated and the reasons for it numerous, but it is imperative that all of it is understood so that future generations may avoid repeating our mistakes. It is also a fascinating story, one that will hopefully resonate not only with the halflings of the present and future but with all learned peoples of the world. ~Night in the Village; early 19th century~ History often suffers from the fact that it is taught by those who did not personally witness it. Facts get muddled with myths, and the recounting of events suffer from the fact that those who tell these stories where not in the room where they happened. That is not to be the fate of this tale. As many, I am sure, are aware; this whole affair started as little more than an idea in my head. I knew it was an experiment, I knew it could fail; but nevertheless I hoped it would not. It has, and the only way to justify it now is to analyze it, and draw what conclusions we can to rid ourselves of confusion and to create a narrative for our posterity to understand and learn from. This thirty-two-year-long tale is, of course, a cumbersome story that cannot be done justice in a short volume. For that reason, it shall be published as a six-part series spanning from the creation of the Halfling Liberty Organization in 1786 to the final hours of the Elder government in 1818. Events and conversations never before heard of shall be revealed, a fuller picture of the past thirty-two years shall be painted here than has ever been painted before; and perhaps most importantly, the thoughts and intentions of the lady behind it all shall be plain to see. This is our story.
  19. FLYER: VOTE FOR JULIUS! [!] New flyers would be found on several stands, presenting Julius de Rosius facing the three terms in admiration and pride, it would seem as if the three words were attached to eachother while simultaneously Julius catches them all out of a reflex, representing his pride into these three aspects of the Orenian culture and society. [!] [!] To each poster would be a small card attached stating "For our Culture, History and Religion! One God, One Emperor, One Empire! Vote Julius de Rosius, Now!"
  20. THE BALLAD OF AUGUSTUS FLAY Performed by Corwin Alstreim for the Northern Geographic Society's 50th Anniversary Banquet Including four never-before-seen verses cut for time from the performance! Concept, verses 1, 4 and the first half of 13 by James Chapel Otherwise by Dame Yuliya Styrne (Sung spritely, with melodramatic menace) 1. My name is old Augustus Flay, The flinty bandit king. So much defamed in recent days - In my defense, I'll sing! 2. Old Godfrey wouldn't have a throne If not for me and mine - He was ashamed to look my way, But he paid us mighty fine! 3. We bandits surely made a splash When we arrived in Oren's court! O'er the nobles, I stood tall and proud - (Though I'm actually quite short!) 4. Though harsh to my opponents, They were mercifully spared By my signature red scarf The sight that's under there! 5. My forces conquered Seventis, Salvus and Hanseti - Eventually, I realized The king I deserved to be! 6. For in my youth, they called me Prince Despite my nasty manner - And a prince should one day take the throne, So I raised my gory banner! 7. I called my soldiers to my side And told them we'd rebel - But the only king I'd ever be Is a king reigning down in Hell! 8. But there were traitors there among Those men I thought were loyal And they shared the news about my plans With the Horen royal! 9. He banished me to live at sea - A punishment most grim, For, you see, I never learned Exactly how to swim! 10. Now I'm stuck deep down in Hell, Right next to the Denier, With fiends mocking me forevermore As I burn here in the fire! 11. Yet if I had just one more chance To do it all again - I can't say I'd change a single thing, Even with this end! 12. For they wrote my name in hist'ry books, In poems, songs, and plays! And that fact will keep me warm Until the End of Days! 13. I might not have been intelligent, Or virtuous, or bathed. But all of Oren feared my name And my bloody, scarlet blade!
  21. Of Freedom and Progress: The Life and Death of the Haelun’orian Republic A Comprehensive Historical Study by Maenor Aildhuin Printed in Karosgrad on the 3rd of the Grand Harvest, 1810 (( Theme Music )) _______________________________________________________________________________________________________________ [!] Painting of Karinah’siol, cca. 1800 _______________________________________________________________________________________________________________ Author’s Note Having lasted for 32 years, and although brief in its existence, the Republic of Haelun’or left distinguishable marks in the history and culture of the Mali’thill. It is this book’s attempt to recollect many of the events that have graced the Republic's short historical time span, lest such a fascinating epoch be forgotten. Despite its falling, the core ideas for its functioning are still adhered to by many. In a sense, while the structural integrity of the Republic ended with the legislation adopted in 1804, it still endures through those few that cling to its ideals of freedom, equality and progress. In many aspects, the Republic is Eternal. I. The Maheral Simply Is _______________________________________________________________________________________________________________ [!] Artistic rendition of the protest following Maheral Azorella’s assassination, 1768 _______________________________________________________________________________________________________________ To understand the evolution of the Haelun’orian Republic one must first inspect the years prior to its conception. By 1760, the governmental apparatus of the Diarchy was reeking with corruption, nepotism and stagnation. The very structure of this regime, which by this point was almost a century old, was beginning to rot. Then, as now, the High Elves did not possess the right to vote and elect their representatives, all of them being chosen directly by the ruling Silver Council. Simultaneously, the system crushed all dissent with an iron fist and made extensive use of propaganda to control public opinion. But dissatisfaction, over the years, built up within the society nonetheless. And, as it is often the case with oligarchical structures, the leadership utterly failed in recognizing this ever-growing problem. In the late 1760s, the society of Haelun’or would witness an increasing struggle between the Maheral and the Sohaer in attaining dominance over the Silver Council. Attempts were made, in secret, primarily by Sulraell Visaj, the Sohaer, at modifying the law to vest more power into his own position. His ploys would be revealed, however, and the changes reverted. But for about a year, the enmity would continue. It would all culminate with a plot by the Silver Council to assassinate Maheral Azorella Elibar’acal. Thus, Maheral Elibar’acal would find her demise in 1768 when, in the Citadel, one by the name Adeline would be unleashed upon her, the councilors, while in the same room, idly witnessing the fruits of their labor. Chance had it that, at that very same moment, a storm forced much of Lareh’thilln’s population to seek shelter within the Citadel, the place of the assassination. So the murder would be discovered shortly after being carried out as Azorella’s cries of agony drew the attention of all. Naturally, the act triggered massive unrest among the populace. Those councilors involved were arrested soon after and put on trial. But further alienating the populace and in defiance to the people’s will, those Diarchists that remained free sought to downplay the severity of the crime, urging for inhumanely soft punishments for those involved. Acaele Lazul, chosen Maheral after Azorella’s death, failed to remedy the anger of the citizenry. Thus, as the trials went on, a clear schism within the society formed. On one side were the aforementioned Diarchists. On the other were the Maheralists, Mali’thill who believed in the traditional supreme authority of the Maheral, guided by the ancient phrase of the one who led the Mali’thill to their cultural zenith in Anthos, 4 centuries ago, Lucion Sullas: “The Maheral simply is”. In a final act of delusion and desperation, the remaining Diarchists would seek to trial many Maheralists, most notably Ikur Sullas. Arbitrarily, many were called forth by those who still denied the inevitable. Ikur Sullas’ trial never came to be, being postponed, again, arbitrarily. Nonetheless, he climbed the podium still and accused the leadership of corruption, uttering “The Maheral simply is, and Acaele Lazul… you are not”. In that moment, the public collectively agreed that Acaele never was. This moment, in 1771, represents the ending of the Diarchy and the beginning of the Azorella reformation, the transition to the Republic. II. Progress Is the Republic _______________________________________________________________________________________________________________ [!] Illustration of the first democratic nominations for Sohaership, 1772 _______________________________________________________________________________________________________________ The transition to a democratic republic began shortly after Acaele’s downfall and the subsequent collapse of the Diarchy. In these trying times, order was maintained by the Malauriran Avern’dionne and Kelthran Iyathir, alongside Ikur Sullas, who was chosen Maheral by general consensus in 1772. The chief immediate objective of these three was the organization of elections, the first in a century, and the formation of a government to lead the reformation effort. Thus, it would be them who would oversee the democratic processes of 1772. After what could be considered the fiercest nominations and debates in the Republic’s history, Nelgauth Maehr’tehral, Silvos Sythaerin, Dele Seregon, Kaelan Aldin and Elathion Dagre’sae would emerge victorious, filling the positions of Sohaer, Okarir’maehr, Okarir’hiylun, Okarir’tir and Okarir’nor respectively. In such a fashion, the first democratic government would form. The Republic’s establishment was imminent. It was under the management of this primeval ruling body that the first reforms were drafted to anchor the republican dream in reality. The Republic of Haelun’or would materialize formally in 1774 when the New Constitution of Haelun’or would be adopted. It is ofttimes difficult to realize the importance of the times one lives in thus, while few knew it at the time, as Ikur Sullas and Nelgauth Maehr’tehral announced then the foundation of the Republic, the Descendants were about to experience the height of modern Mali’thill civilization. Upon perusal, the intention of the administration to secure democratic principles is evident. The newly secured piece of legislation guaranteed all High Elven citizens of Haelun’or “the unalienable rights to freedom of expression, to enter the city freely, to association, to attend trials and public councils, to due process under the law, to education and the pursuit of progress, and to housing and food within the City of Haelun’or”. As far as the Mali’thill is concerned, there was no constitution more favorable anywhere in Arcas, at the time. If we are to point out a flaw in this paramount act, it would be the sense of irrelevance it created around the Sohaer through the entrusting of most of the power into the Maheral. It ought come as no surprise, however, considering that the first government of the Republic was composed exclusively of Mali’thill who, in the years prior, formed the forefront of the Maheralist movement. Thus, into the Maheral was vested “supreme executive power [...] over all city affairs, [...] the authority to supervise and veto any legislation passed by the silver council, to pardon any citizen found in violation of Haelun’or law, and to interpret this constitution and declare any current or former legislation unconstitutional”. Generally, such investments of power into one individual facilitate dictatorships and are problematic for a democratic system. But while those concerns would demonstrate legitimate later, the authority of the Maheral proved especially useful in the first years of the Republic, representing a strong defense mechanism against the naturally chaotic shift from a society crushed by oligarchy into a democracy. More fortunate still, the position was, at the time, held by Ikur Sullas, who had the forethought not to employ his supreme decision powers too often, letting the democracy shape itself. But what truly substantiated the democratic nature of the Haelun’orian society was the innovative foundation, by the Constitution, of a new institutional body named the Heial’tuva, the Council of All. Legally, many of the actual democratic processes would stem from that institution: “All High Elven citizens of the age of majority (50) shall be inducted into the Council of All (heial’tuva), and granted the rights to public debate, to vote in public election, and to run in and challenge any elected office”. It is true that, in principle, this pseudo-parliament held no actual governing ability or administrative power. Rather, it derived its importance from the ability of its members to elect and challenge those in power. In any case, even if the steering of the nation was not directly in the hands of the people, but more in the hands of those elected by the people, the establishment of the Heial’tuva represented an important step towards democracy and a great improvement from the previous dictatorship. It would not be long before the fundamentals of the newly-founded Republic would be put to the test. In 1775 Kaelan Aldin would retire, as would Silvos Sythaerin in 1776. The seat of Okarir’tir, then left vacant by Kaelan’s departure, would be filled by Celiasil Uradir. His triumph in the election would come as a surprise to many. At the time, Celiasil was not a member of the Sillumiran, the Silver State’s military, and he was faced with the challenge of defeating two more experienced candidates, more notable among them being Storm Elibar’acal. In any case, Celiasil’s tenure began with much work striving to improve the Weeping Blades’ reputation across the entire continent through careful recruitment and drilling of discipline and competence into an army that, by 1776, was no longer at the apex of its power. Celiasil’s replacement of Kaelan would represent the first change between two democratically elected representatives. Thus, the phrase “Progress is the Republic” was born. On a similar note, not long after, the election for the seat of Okarir’maehr would render Silvyr Uradir victorious. This event would prove to be a more unfortunate part of the Republic’s history. Silvyr would go on to display an absolute lack of vision or ability for the administration of the Haelun’orian educational sector. Under his management, the Eternal Library would fall into disuse, while his delayed reforms and lectures lacking any substance would go on to severely maim the intellectual progress of the High Elves. The full extent of the damage caused by Silvyr’s tenure and the following decade of limited academic achievements would become apparent only many years later, in the Republic’s final days. Then, in times of most urgency, a significant part of the population, lacking proper early enlightenment, would find itself unable to combat the depressingly abundant misinformation. Not only that, but the damage done under Silvyr would be used as a chief source of anti-republican propaganda, and as a primary argument against the Republic by those aiming at its destruction. Around that same time, in 1777, probably as a foreshadowing of what was to befall all the Descendants, multiple malicious entities, by all accounts foreign to Arcas, would assail Lareh’thill and its vicinity. One such instance, more memorable, would be that of a giant worm-like creature. Multiple people, the day of the attack, remarked a certain stillness in the nature all around them, as if all life fled. The creature itself was described as “slimey, disgusting yet incredibly large” with a mouth lined with “rows of twisting teeth, like a sharp vortex that would shred anything to dust”. Despite the beast’s mystique and might, the Sillumiran on duty, led by Celiasil, along with those citizens that offered their aid in the struggle, would go on to valiantly defend the Silver City and its residents, slaying the monster while suffering minimal casualties. _______________________________________________________________________________________________________________ [!] Drawing of chasm in the vicinity of Lareh’thilln _______________________________________________________________________________________________________________ Those threats would end up duly eliminated and the damage inflicted would be repaired. But the fear instilled by them would endure, and so it would come about that their gravest implications would be on the political stage. In the context of these events, in fear of what other malignant creatures might attack Larihei’s children and with the intent to preserve the life of the Mali’thill, the Silver Council, in 1778, would strike a pseudo-alliance with Azdromoth and its followers, adopting The Pact of the Titan. This piece of legislature would go on to constitute the chief source of contention among the Mali’thill citizens of the Republic. The controversial clauses the document contained, namely “The First Drakaar, Azdromoth, is to be revered within Haelun’or, for it is He and He alone who offers us safety” and “Sons and daughters of The First Drakaar, Azdromoth, Elazdrazi, are to be welcomed into Elcihi and treated with the same respect as our fellow Mali’thill”, understandably alarmed a significant portion of the residents of the Silver State, them viewing the Pact as an affront to purity, as a contract of vassalage. Those in favor of it claimed that it was forged in order to preserve purity. Nonetheless, the Pact, once signed, and despite vocal opposition, still saw public support, primarily fueled by the aforementioned fears of the outside world that, at the time, grew increasingly more grim. What followed was a short period of both internal and external tranquility. In this time that lasted no more than three years, the government attempted to redress the material damage caused by the previous attacks while at the same time to continue the never-ending effort of reformation, improvement and progress. Being a product of the dangerous circumstances of the age as much as of the good intentions of the Silver Council, during this time an ambitious military program was announced by the office of the Okarir’tir with the purpose of educating the general populace in matters of warfare and combat, in case the need to defend the Motherland ever arose again. Around this same period, the medical system of Lareh’thilln, which by now was one of the most modern and efficient healthcare establishments in the continent, would continue to improve under Dele Seregon’s guidance. The first disturbance of this calmness would come in 1781 when the Okarir’nor Elathion Dagre’sae resigned. The election that followed affirmed Effile Ker’vulnir as the new Okarir’nor. At the time there was a noticeable lack of enthusiasm concerning these affairs, with many citizens absenting at the time of the debate. Admittedly, the position did carry less relevance to the Mali’thill people than the others, so the general indifference was not surprising. The actual truth regarding those facts would come about shortly after Effile’s victory, when she would prove ineffectual and absent for the entirety of her tenure but, courtesy of the position’s irrelevance, the effects an idle councilor entailed were massively mitigated. One year later, foreign woes would make their return as well, in spite of the pledges made in the Pact of the Titan. In 1782, a band of foreign and, altogether, irrelevant terrorists would abduct and hold hostage the Sohaer, Nelgauth Maehr’tehral. It is a known fact that, in the end, Nelgauth was rescued unharmed, appearing jovial enough at a soiree hosted by his own kin not long after. However, the circumstances of this incident remain somewhat ambiguous and shrouded in mystery. At the time, the government of Haelun’or kept the escapade a secret from the public in order to contain the agitation and possible spread of misinformation. It would only be revealed after Nelgauth’s rescue, and even then nothing too detailed. The means and reasons for the capture of the Sohaer remain up to debate and personal interpretation thus, as no actual statement from the terrorist organization ever surfaced after the incident. To beguile the Sillumiran and whatever Azdrazi were guarding the city at the time suggests a certain cunning planning and to kidnap a state official of Nelgauth’s stature would have opened many possibilities for the culprits, from amassing massive wealth to blackmailing the government into nefarious activities. But, with the incident long resolved, it is probable that the absolute truth of the matter will never be fully understood. As if the previous events were not enough, the year of 1783 would present the first seismic shift on the political stage of the Silver State. This year would be the year of Nelgauth Maehr’tehral’s abdication from the position of Sohaer. The government of Haelun’or, for the first time since the Revolution, became without a steward. Whether this decision was influenced in any way by the individual’s previous aforementioned misfortune remains up to debate. In any case, Nelgauth would go on to linger for some more time in politics in the quality of Maelunir, which was the Maheral’s direct subordinate and chief aide. However, he would cease to take center stage and would grow increasingly more peripheral. It can be speculated that Nelgauth, at the time, was stepping down from that position of power in hopes of training Haelun’or’s next generation of leaders. In discussing Nelgauth’s character, one must note that he would go on to face criticism throughout most of his political career as well as well after that. It was a known fact that the Maehr’theral was incredibly liberal in private and that, throughout much of his career, he was prone to fits of hypocrisy. In many people’s eyes, he has earned the appellation of Mali’ata. Nonetheless, whatever faults the individual possessed, the actual role of Nelgauth in the foundation and further development of the Republic and of the Haelun’orian democracy is uncontestedly paramount. Being one of the authors of the Constitution of 1774, he laid the path not only for the Silver State’s aspiring politicians, but for all those yearning for freedom. It can be safely asserted that, by all standards, Nelgauth’s political career was impressive. In Nelgauth’s place as Sohaer would rise Eredael Rhenaer, a Mali barely above the age of majority with a good academic career. Despite his very young age, he would go on to best in the election Anethra Uradir. For much of his tenure as Sohaer, Eredael would remain somewhere obscurely in the shadow, focusing more on the diplomatic affairs of the state rather than the acceleration of reforms of the interior. But that is by no means an act of discreditment, for Haelun’or’s diplomacy was, at the time, impeccable, as the state itself was on good terms with most of the other nations of the Descendants. That same year of 1783 would bring one more novelty. One by the name of Aiera Sullas would be named Tilruir’indor of the Eternal Library. It would be under her guidance, after a decade of mismanagement, that life would be restored into this most important institution of the Silver State. Three years later, as another triumph of the educational sector, Silvyr would bless the populace with his resignation. In his stead, as Okarir’maehr, that very same Aiera Sullas would ascend. By 1786 she was already conducting treaties with foreign places of knowledge to better the intellectual progress of the nation. Her triumph would go on to represent the turning point in the matter of academics. After a delay of ten years, work towards reforming the Eternal Institutions would finally be made. To continue the stream of political machinations, 1789 would see the first challenge of an Okarir by a regular citizen of the Silver State. That year, Nuala Telperion would accuse the Okarir’nor at the time, Effile Ker’vulnir, of incompetence and idleness. While not entirely wrong, the act would see the disapproval of most of the citizenry, as Nuala was still remembered as a staunch supporter of the Diarchy in its final hours. This known fact caused a short-lived public scandal between her and those that sought to shame her for her past actions. Taking advantage of this general revulsion towards Nuala, one by the name of Zelios Elibar’acal would go on to nominate himself as well, thus an alternative would present itself through him. Effile resigned shortly after the announced candidatures of the two, having enough courage and foresight to step down. In the end, as expected, Zelios would emerge victorious. The Mali did not present a spectacular plan or campaign, nor was he experienced in matters of economy. Yet, courtesy of the stigma associated with the old regime, Nuala still lost. It would not be long before the competency of the government and the resilience of the Mali’thill would be tested again. At the end of 1789, the most severe foreign attack on Haelun’or would commence. Those that witnessed the horrendous battle remarked a most terrible storm unfolding prior to the creatures’ arrival, one characterized by an unusually high quantity of lightning that threatened anyone not sheltered. On that fateful night, four creatures of dark allegiance, called by some “Shadows of Aegis” launched a monstrous assault upon Lareh’thilln, managing even to destroy one of the draconic wards placed by Azdromoth, prompting the Drakaar itself to appear and defend the city. Apparently, the beasts’ primary targets were the buildings of most importance, namely the Citadel, the Eternal College and the Eternal Library. The latter would be the only one to survive the assault. What is more, the assailants imbued within the Eternal College a sort of plague, this too mystical in nature, which would chiefly corrupt books but also the mind of anyone who would thread within the confines of the building. After a long and arduous battle, the city would be saved with Azdromoth’s aid, but the Citadel and the Eternal College would remain defunct for the remainder of the habitation of Arcas. As a further precaution and at Azdromoth’s own advice, the collection of the Eternal Library was moved to Helena, then the capital of the Holy Orenian Empire, which was deemed, then, safer. There the books would remain, courtesy of the alliance between the Empire and the Silver State, until Helena would too be destroyed. The entire continent of Arcas would end up being corrupted in 1795. Then, Lareh’thill would be destroyed, much like all the other cities. The mountain upon which it was built collapsed into a fiery chasm. At the time, fortunately, the evacuation effort was led by Dele Seregon, who managed to rally the citizenry and organize the escape to the Eye of Man, where the Mali’thill sought refuge until the eventual embarkation to Almaris. _______________________________________________________________________________________________________________ [!] Picture of the ruination of Lareh’thilln and the flight of the Mali’thill, 1795 _______________________________________________________________________________________________________________ Arriving on the new continent of Almaris in 1796, the everlasting children of Larihei would settle a fertile island to the far east. There, the High Elves would begin constructing a new home befitting their dreams and traditions. The settlement would be appropriately named Karinah’siol, the Lone Sunrise. It would be this city that would bear witness to the Republic’s final years. They would be as eventful as they would be tragic. Only a year after the Mali’thill’s settling on the island, Dele Seregon would announce her resignation as Okarir’hiylun and the eventual retirement from politics. Thus ended the career of the longest serving Okarir in the Republic’s history, maintaining her function for 25 years of the Republic’s 32 years of existence. It was under her management that the medical sector of Haelun’or grew to be one of the most respectable establishments in the World. The health of the citizenry was, throughout all these years, despite all the challenges, preserved and improved. It was also her achievement the adoption of legislation that sought to improve the experience of the less fortunate of Haelun’or’s citizens through the Citizenship Act of 1782, which bettered the condition of second class citizens, or the Orphanage Act, whose objectives were the protection and education of Mali’thill orphans. She, too, would be subjected to much criticism, however. It can be argued that the Seregon besmirched her purity by quasi-worshipping Azdromoth, an act which she would admit doing. But, it would also be maintained that she did so to protect one of her kin, which was a Paladin of Xan. More fortunately, Dele Seregon would go on to be one of the main critics of the Pact of the Titan and of the Azdrazi, bringing many arguments and much evidence about their violent nature. Regardless, much like Nelgauth Maehr’tehral’s case, Nelgauth who officially retired around the same time, Dele Seregon’s role in the progress of the Republic is undeniable, contributing greatly to all its triumphs and glories. It would be Maeve Elibar’acal who would rise in Dele’s stead, continuing the policies of her predecessor with much ability. An accomplished doctor, to this day, the “Curriculum of Hiylun”, written by Maeve Elibar’acal and her staff, remains the most comprehensive guide in the study of medicine. It would be under her, as well, that medicine classes would formally begin, in a most fruitful partnership with the office of the Okarir’maehr. Still in 1797, an issue that has haunted the Haelun’orian Republic for decades was starting to receive more and more attention. With the settlement of the new continent, the Inferi threat and the corruption of Arcas that instilled fear in the Mali’thill were gone. It was in this context that more and more citizens of the Silver State began questioning the necessity of the Pact of the Titan. By then, the document was continuously losing public support, as many Mali’thill committed the horrific act of turning into Azdrazi, receiving absolutely no punishment for forsaking their purity. Notable among those unguided were Silvyr and Celiasil Uradir, though the latter would end up not fully turning. The number of people calling for the Pact’s nullification was increasing. Perhaps the most unfortunate fact to come out of this situation was Maheral Ikur Sullas’ reluctance to abandon the alliance with Azdromoth, being constrained to use his decisive powers as Maheral to ensure its survival. There have been multiple occasions where Ikur’s distaste for lessers, Azdromoth and the Azdrazi being just that, was obvious. And so, the actual reasons the Maheral then had at maintaining the Pact remain unclear. It would seem that, mayhaps, the Sullas was overly cautious, perhaps fearing Azdromoth’s possible retaliation. Of course, such a fear would have been legitimate, considering that Drakaars like Azdromoth are ill-tempered, corrupt creatures constantly lusting for power. Whatever the reasons, this sad decision of Ikur would serve as yet another subject of propaganda, later, in the effort to destroy the Republic. On this background, the following year would see Celiasil’s resignation. As previously mentioned, at the time, Celiasil was looking to turn into an Azdrazi. This fact alone was the source of much discontent, which only grew after he received the Maheral’s approval in retaining the Okarir’tir position. The Republic was on the brink of having an Okarir not of the Mali’thill race. But it did not come to that, as Celiasil had the wisdom to retire, ending thus a career which lasted for 23 years. He was responsible for the modernization and instruction of the Sillumiran, vastly increasing the quality of the Republic’s military. It would also be him who would lead the Weeping Blades in the Descendants’ struggle against the Inferi. The army of the Mali’thill would go on to valiantly aid their distant cousins in the Siege of Aegrothond and later fight in the battles for the liberation of Korvassa. Observably, the Sillumiran then not only served as a military force, but also as a diplomatic envoy, earning the Silver State much prestige and admiration throughout the conflict. III. Regarding the State of the Republic _______________________________________________________________________________________________________________ [!] Sunset as observed from a beach near Karinah’siol, cca. 1803 _______________________________________________________________________________________________________________ The Republic was a dream. A dream that fell. It seems fitting that we shall now begin to delve into the chain of events that led to the downfall of the democratic system, the system that allowed the intellectual prowess of the Mali’thill to express itself, by first reminiscing what could be considered the last moment characteristic of its nature, the Okarir'tir debate. After Celiasil’s resignation, in 1799 the election for the Okarir’tir position commenced. The nomination and debate were one of the fiercest in the Republic’s history, their vitality being outmatched only by those at the Republic’s birth, back in 1772. And, despite the efforts of the moderators in place, the main discussion that concerned the citizenry then was the views of the candidates in regards to the state of the Pact. In fact, so adamant were the citizens that, after the official debate was over, they organized another, unofficial, but which lasted more than the former. Of all the three candidates, Ellisar Aevaris would be the one to show the least ardor concerning the abolishment of the alliance. Nonetheless, he would still emerge victorious. At the time, his triumph was certainly a surprise to many, considering that his opinions aligned with those of the masses the least. One possibility for his triumph is that the other two candidates, Valorin Celia’thilln and Olrin Hildinyr, in presenting similar stances on many issues, divided their own electorate, halving their votes and cancelling each other out. For better or worse, after a memorable round of elections, Ellisar would become Okarir’tir. Nobody anticipated it at the time, but these elections would go on to be the last with a formal debate between candidates. Despite all this, the state of the interior seemed to be improving. Nobody in the government threatened to turn into something else. That, coupled with the announcement of the formal opening of the Eternal Institutions and the soon arrival of the Eternal Library’s collection, instilled much optimism about the future in the populace. But that was not to last, and the worst was yet to come, though in means so subtle few recognized the danger. In 1801, the heaviest blow to the Haelun’orian Republic would present itself in the unexpected retirement of the Maheral Ikur Sullas. Considering the Maheral’s actions not long before, rashly, many, the author of this book included, viewed Ikur’s resignation as a step forward. But in retrospect, one must admire just with how much ability he led the Mali’thill in these strange times, for democracy was not something many of them ever experienced before. The details surrounding the motives for his departure from the position of leadership matter not. Personal reasons, increasing opposition, those aspects are irrelevant. What is of concern is that he would be the last of the founders of the Republic to leave from the administration of the nation. One cannot think of the Haelun’orian Republic without picturing Ikur Sullas at the same time, they are very much connected. It was he who supervised the system’s development and progress for 29 years. After his retirement, the Republic would only endure for 3 more years. It remains uncertain whether or not the Republic would have fallen had Ikur remained in charge for a little while longer, but mayhaps that counts as a blessing, if not to the Mali’thill, then at least to the former Maheral. After all, the Republic was very much his progeny. It would have been a terrible thing to witness its fall from a position of power. In Ikur’s stead would be invested one by the name of Galanthil Elibar’acal. Most certainly a peculiar choice as Galanthil, having retired long before, was unknown to many. Presumably, this one’s naming was only temporary until a proper successor could have been found. But, rather unfortunately, it would not come to that as a new scandal would arise. Not long after this announcement, the Sohaer Eredael Rhenaer would, rather controversially, challenge Galanthil and name himself Maheral. Despite the boldness of the act, Eredael enjoyed a fair share of public support, thus prompting the Malauriran to convene. In order to prevent a power struggle and an actual schism, a council of Malauriran met and decreed Galanthil’s rise null and void, asserting Eredael in the position instead. It can safely be asserted that from this point on, the Republic’s demise was inevitable. The years that followed would see an ever increasing disregard for the Constitution, the Silver Laws and the customs of the Mali’thill. The year 1801 would see the publication of a document entitled “Regarding the State of the Republic”, signed unanimously by the members of the Silver Council, chief among them Eredael. In it, the primary objectives of the administration were written down: the consolidation of maehr’sae hiylun’ehya, the structural modernization of the Republic, the advancement of meritocracy, the advancement of new educational policies, the formal opening of San’evarir, the renewal of the Heial’tuva and renewed debate around the Azdrazi issue. In this fashion, Eredael managed to gather more support. In a similar mode, soon after, a grand debate concerning the Pact of the Titan was held. Rather expectedly, the matter was settled decisively in favor of abolishing it. Support for Eredael increased still. Now concerning a more depressing matter, in light of the apparent chaotic transition caused by Eredael’s challenge of Galanthil, a great number of inconspicuous individuals began migrating to the Silver State. Many of them never set foot in the Republic before and many of them belonged to families with ties to the Diarchy, like Laraethryn and Valarieth. Their distant stance to the democratic system was evident. It would be one belonging to this group of people, Arelyn Iyathir, that would be elected Sohaer. Securing victory over Nuala Telperion, she would be the first such elected representative without being subjected to a formal debate. Arelyn would set a trend for all the Haelun’orian politicians that followed. From this point on, propaganda aimed at the discrediting of the Republic and its founders began. Arelyn, in her campaign, dared not directly attack the Republic, but still commented on the “liberalism that has poisoned our people” or the “impurity that lurks in the shadows”. As it is often the case with such aggressive populistic speeches, she offered no solutions and pointed to no particular problem, making use only of carefully constructed ambiguous accusatory phrases. Following Arelyn’s ascension, the propaganda would only grow in intensity. Simultaneously, a wave of resignations and departures would occur, primarily from those still loyal to the Republic and the progress of the Mali’thill. It began with Ellisar Aevaris, the Okarir’tir, followed by Maeve Elibar’acal, the Okarir’hiylun, and all her entourage. Not long after, Dele Seregon would announce her departure as well. 1804 would see the leave of Aiera Sullas and her staff. None of their successors would declare themselves in favor of democracy. The greatest schism in recent Haelun’orian history would thus form. As of the time this book was written, the schism still continues. 1803 would see the first flagrant disregards of the Constitution as the offices of Medi’iran and Okarir’san were reinstated without amending the Constitution first. The intents of the new establishment to ruin the Republic and write a new constitution were evident. Sometime later, Eredael would invest Caledor Laraethryn in the position of Okarir’san without an actual election. Caledor would have gone down in history as the first unelected member of the Silver Council since the fall of the Diarchy, were it not for the Malauriran who intervened. In a last effort to save the Republic, the former leaders of Haelun’or would urge for elections, and they would eventually be held. The reality was, however, that it has been more than a year since propaganda began, most of the opposition already fled and the majority of the electorate was composed of individuals with a distaste for democracy. Caledor would win. By 1804 there was virtually no opposition left in the government and works were undergoing towards formally ending the Republic. The last legal bastion of defense was represented by Aiera Sullas who resigned that very same year. The downfall of the system by now was only a matter of time. It remains uncertain how long Aiera Sullas would have managed to delay this inescapable future. However, by analysing the behavior of the councilors at the time, it seems very likely that, had Aiera resisted for much longer, she would have shared Azorella’s fate. It thus came to be that on the 5th of Snow's Maiden, 1804, a new constitution was adopted. The Heial’tuva was abolished, ending the ability of the populace to elect and challenge representatives. All relevant power was taken away from the Maheral and centralized under the Sohaer, who would thenceforth have the ability to appoint and dismiss all councilors. From that moment on, freedom of expression would cease to constitute a constitutional right. Thus, in 1804, despite the initial promises made, Eredael would consent to the formal ending of the Republic he so diligently swore to protect. The rule of the people was at an end and the oligarchy would make its return. If we are to compare the Diarchy’s final hours with those of the Republic, we would notice striking similarities between the move attempted by Sulraell Visaj in 1767 and the legislative changes brought forth by Arelyn. Through means more direct and propaganda more efficient, Iyathir succeeded where Visaj failed, securing the Sohaer’s dominance over the entirety of the Silver Council. Sometimes, the apparent symmetry between historical events is truly astonishing. And so ends the three decades long drama of the Haelun’orian Republic. Its effects and the tragedy of its demise would go on to impact the Mali’thill forever. It would bring forth the existential question of what exactly means to be a Mali’thill. But more than anything else, the fall of the Republic would reveal that even we are fallible and that there is much to learn still. maehr’sae hiylun’ehya.
  22. Excerpt from the Tahkayt Hezzifan, or "Long Story", the oral poetry telling the tale of the A'tmuzigh people. __________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ The Tahkayt Hezzifan is part of a lengthy and dramatic ceremony performed by A'tmuzigh Elders and Oracles, as a form of oral transmission of knowledge. This extensive spoken poem tells the tale of the creation of all things originating from the primordial One, continues by going over the A'tmuzigh's history as a people group, and ends with the prophecy of the end of all life and the world's inevitable return to its primordial state. The Tahkayt Hezzifan differs from tribe to tribe, but its beginning and end stays largely the same regardless of tribal allegiance. The following excerpt takes key sections of this lengthy poem to showcase the A'tmuzighs' beliefs. ____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ In the beginning At first the world was darkness and ocean, A vast expanse of free spirits in constant motion, The gods in the heavens would all claim their share, Yet could not distinguish what spirit was where, The gods, used to feuding and constant estrangement, Came together as one in an uneasy arrangement, So they created the Sun high in the sky, Hoping its heat, the ocean would dry, The Sun in the heavens, as it shone and it shone, Revealed from the ocean, lands of bare stone, The spirits from water were stranded, and so they would die, Raised their gaze to the heavens and thus they would cry, “Oh water, oh life. Without you, we wither!” Some of these spirits would crawl and would slither, To escape to the ocean, away from the land, Those who did not turned to dust and to sand, The gods were displeased at what had thus happened, The spirits on land left to die and abandoned, So they came together, to save what could be, And created the Moon, to bring the tides from the sea, The tide healed the spirits from the water it grants, Those close to the ocean became creatures and plants, Yet some spirits remained far from the shore, Pleading and screaming and dying in scores, The gods came together for one final time, They took from the water of the ocean sublime, Glanced one last time at the withering crowds, They scattered the water in ponds, lakes, and clouds, In the midst of the deserts, as spirits did fall, From the rain, an oasis, as if by their call, They drank and they drank, ‘til they could drink no more, The spirits soon realised they could see no shore, The oasis appeared, and had been their salvation, Yet now they were stranded, and forced in prostration, Their heads bent to drink water brought from the rain, Their bodies battered by winds who sought to bring pain, The sands and winds, now jealous and vicious, Sought to enslave those whose calls were auspicious, The spirits thus bent, and their bodies assailed, Tried to fight back, but surely so failed, Their skin became tough to combat the storms, And thus, over time, did they change their forms, No longer ethereal, now flesh and bone, Among them, Mezeg, a spirit well-known, Rose up in defiance, with his body as shield, He rallied his kin, no longer they yield, The spirits of plants first came to his aid, So he could make tents out of fibres arrayed, The winds no longer reached those who resisted, The spirits of animals then rose up and assisted, Wool made up their clothing, and from milk they could sip, Free were they now from the sands and their grip, And so in their tents, did the rebels proclaim, “No longer are we slaves, and so we shall name”, “Ourselves for the freedom we have fought to achieve”, “And in remembrance of those we have lost and we grieve”, “The Freefolk we are, A’tmuzigh in our tongue”, “A people whose battle will be heard and be sung.”, And so did he march with his people and brothers, From oasis to oasis to free all the others, Mezeg was his name, the Liberator, his title, A man who believed that freedom was vital, And thus he marched on, breaking the chains, Liberating the others from their plights and their pains, A dolmen he carved at every oasis he saved, To remember all those who died when enslaved, And so that his people, no more would be slaves, Whether to spirits of winds, sands or waves, In the end The gods in their folly made the Moon and the Sun, Dried up the ocean and broke up the One, All spirits were meant to be one and the same, And thus do we see, and so we proclaim, The spirits apart will grow wild, corrupt, This growing imbalance, the world will disrupt, The gods will look down and see their mistake, They treasure this world and so their hearts will ache, First the Moon they remove, their tidal creation, The oceans will rise, flooding every nation, Then the Sun will depart from high in the sky, Thus in the end, all life must die, Darkness once more, the world will envelop, And the primordial ocean will redevelop, The spirits at peace, one and the same, All things as they should, so shall they reclaim. ____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ This poem is available in-game through a book of the same name, Tahkayt Hezzifan, purchasable on AH or in Valhelm Square, next to the bank. (OOC: If you wish to play an A'tmuzigh character or are interested in the lore, please feel free to contact me on Discord at Northern_Watcher#0790)
  23. Long ago, in an age past, not long after the beginning of creation itself, there were the original men; Malin, Urguan, Horen, and Krug. Each was his own, but each were brothers. They were set upon one another and divided by the daemonic Iblees, and each bore a curse from the evil being. Krug, strongest, toughest of his kin, saw through the lies and deception of Iblees. For this the brothers renounced their partnership with the Daemon and were cursed each. Krug's curse was to forever lust after the spilled blood of his kin, and to be horrendously ugly, that his children would inherit these traits. But not all was lost. A wizard of great talent granted each brother a blessing. Krug was blessed to be the most honorable warrior in all of creation, that his kind would follow in his example to be great. Many of us revere Krug as an ancestral spirit dwelling in the highest reachest of Stargush'Stroth, though some choose to deny his ascension. What cannot be denied is that once, Krug was a man, like Malin, Horen, and Urguan each. Through the generations of uruk-kind, the blood of Krug has been diluted and branched into distinct families- but it is still traceable. After many years of independant and joint research among the more scholarly of our kind involving ancient archaeological discoveries, shamanic visions induced by deep cactus flower highs, and other, more personal and private means, we have at last determined what our ancient and beloved ancestor must have looked like before and after the clash with Iblees changed him. These are perhaps the most evocative and powerful depiction of our beloved ancestor by any artistic hands in centuries. May I present... the great and mighty Krug. And before his fall, as depicted, Krug looked little different to a dark-skinned human.
  24. The Seed Well In Ancient scrolls and carvings found across the archipelago of Axios, it is said that when the emerald fires of the War faded, the emergence of Druidism brought an unseen age of prosperity to the fauna and foliage that once again scattered the lands. And when the last of the ash was swept away with the winds of progression, the Arch Druids communed with Malin in private quarters, to discuss how they would never again allow such corruption to spread through their homeland, and indeed, all of the Islands that surrounded Aegis. The congregation, including Malin himself, poured every ounce of their combined energies into a well in the seclusion of the distant forests, which would house their unforeseen and self-sustained potency. It became known as the Seed Well, for their intentions were clear. The Druids procured many seeds from the bags they had brought with them, choosing the healthiest of each type to bathe in the verdant waters. Once this had been achieved, they locked the well, returning to their respective homes, allowing the passage of time to nurture their efforts. (The Pale Stranger) Many moons would come and go before the congregation would once again meet at the Seed Well, unlocking the interconnected vines which held it shut. Yet as they lifted the wooden cover, a voice spoke out from the trees. "You pour your energies into this well, unbeknownst to the outcome." It said, emerging forth from the shrubbery. It was a pale Elf, with long flowing hair of pearl-white, and draping robes to match. He rose the gnarled wooden stave in his hand, and proclaimed the dangers of bringing into the world that which had not occurred naturally. Before the communion could respond, the man vanished as quickly as he had arrived. With confusion, they shrugged off the comment as the meanderings of a mad-man, before returning their focus to the Well before them. Everything seemed in order, and the seeds were taken from the well. Malin himself took a handful of the seedlings, and placed them into a container which he had previously filled with the potent waters of the well. From this moment onward, Malin would no longer be seen on Axios again, and the Arch Druids returned to their private lands, tending to the seedlings they had infused with their energies. (One of the trees of the Seed Well) For many decades, these plants would be cared for in clandestine quarters, and would develop into considerable sizes, each a vast and unique array of beauty. Yet they did not grow as usual, for their forms began to split, and the bark began to resemble a humanoid figure. The Arch Druids studied in intrigue, fascinated by the process of this growth, and cared not to meander in their flourishing environments. Instead, they observed intently as the trees continued to emerge. Ellethwen Thendiel was the first of the Arch Druids to witness the awakening of these trees, for each Druid had been assigned to a specific tree, and her's developed at a much faster rate than the others. The bark creaked and groaned at first, the Druid stepping back in shock as she felt the roots beneath the ground begin to detach from the soil, and the oaken limbs emerge from the ground. Before long, an amber radiance began to emanate from the apex of the bark, where the newly conscious creature looked down upon her. She cheered with glee, for her seedling had grown into what later became referred to as Meldamiriel, true Children of the Forest. It seemed aware of its surroundings, yet was incapable of speech and many of the basic functions of movement. Instead it sat, listening to it's mother and those around her as it absorbed information like rich nutrients in the warmth of soil. Soon, the other seedlings began to grow, and before long a family of Meldamiriel graced the Arch Druids with their presence. These were the results of Druidic efforts, and would later become protectors of nature, goliath and foreboding personifications of the Forests, who would scour the land and protect it from destructive forces. (Gambadriel, protector of Ainsharu) Ellethwen would later name her child Gambadriel, and would assign it to a nearby forest that she would also dwell in, for these creatures were still young, and would need the guidance of those that birthed them into the world. With decades passing, these giants served their function with unanticipated effectiveness, and soon began to develop their own tongues; of which only the Arch Druids were capable of understanding, for it was not a language of the physical, but of the deep attunement within nature's stream. Yet all things are destined to succumb to the cyclical nature of the world, and what was once a state of progression would change into one of ruin and degeneracy in one fell swoop. An arrow, of unknown origins, sank into the chest of Ellethwen as she reeled over in anguish, slinking against the bark of a nearby tree. Gambadriel would sense this traumatic event, and would rush to aid his "mother", yet it was too late. Before long Ellethwen had grown as cold as the winds that swept through the forest, and the trees lamented alongside Gambadriel as his core contorted and formed into a seething anger, fueled only by his continued anguish and loneliness. This theme swept across the islands of Axios as one by one the Arch Druids were slain in solitude, their children crying out in pain as they edged on the verge of madness, their forms losing the blooming flora that once adorned them. They became husks of their former selves, little more than vessels of anger that scouted the graves of their long-dead Druids, destroying any life that would dare venture close enough. (Gambadriel's Husk, warding off an Elven Soldier) This growing epidemic shook the foundations of the Elven people, who had already begun to split from one another in pursuits of power and political gain. The once stalwart protectors of the Forests were soon slain in many numbers, rid from the world forever by the Elven people, and the Well of Seeds was destroyed, preventing the process from ever occurring again. Yet from all death comes life, and the husks of these entities would scatter beneath the Ancient Soils of Axios, awaiting the return of the Well of Seeds, where they would once again emerge. OOC:
  25. (Let it be known, I am not trying to get any lore really accepted, but mostly out there. This has been discussed between a number of easterner roleplayers, and this provides a way to roleplay someone who looks and acts much more chinese, than the japanese styled Chiyaki, and the much further travelled Xionist Yulthar, while possibly adding a reason as to why our mongol and turkish cultures already rped in-game have an unmistakably asian flare to them. Its all mostly compiled lore from when easterners were a much bigger thing, and now that people are being them again I was approached by two roleplayers that wanted to be more chinese than japanese, so we came up with this. A reminder however, the Xian is not a word for all easterners, just those that are particularly chinese styled, much like the Chiyaki are much more japanese even if they are from similar places.) The Xian An Introduction: The Xian are a numerous group of people from a distant land mass far to the east of those lands familiar to the inhabitants of Vailor and the previous lands known plainly as Xia. Or "Life" in their native tongue. The Xians are a truly ancient people, and their culture reflects that. Having been taken from many other lands they had visited or conquered, along with their status on retaining ancient traditions has kept these people from changing much over the course over their long and storied history. The Xian in their native lands are fiercely loyal to their lords, and in turn to the grand Jade Dragon Emperor. A title granted and passed down through different family lines or histories known as the dynasties. The Xian are extremely intelligent people as a whole, having their own writing and book-keeping systems since near the rise of their empire. They are skilled in navigation, astronomy, alchemy, and strange esoteric practices, along with the many exotic trades that exist in this faraway land. History and Faith: In their earliest myths and stories, it is said the greatest of gods sacrificed most of her divinity to take physical form and created the mountains, seas, valleys, and forests, but left the underground untouched. Populating it with a great array of animals and creatures, but wished for someone to talk to. So the great god then pulled from the verdant soil of the great Tienshan river the first of these people. Shu was his name as told to him by the great serpentine dragon goddess. He rode upon her back as she filled his mind with fantastic stories and tales. Excerpts of which are praised by modern people as wise life lessons, and basis for much worship. However, Shu grew tired of his long life and of his lonesomeness, so the great dragon granted him children. These would be from which all Xian and people of eastern origin descend. With the last of her divinity, the great dragon goddess bequeathed to Shu and three of his children their rights to rule. Then she fled, flying over the hills and valleys, crying over the sadness that she was not enough for this man. Her tears turning to what is known now as jade as they fell, and she retreated into an ancient cave where she continued to weep until she herself was turned to living jade. Forever asleep. The great emperor Shu ruled for over 100 years. His empire growing swiftly, owing to the hidden truths of reality granted to him by his first love. Then, as he aged, he passed his title down to his son. The two daughters of Shu and the great jade dragon had decided to go their own paths, owing to the truths given to them by their mother. The eldest, Shenshin went further east, past the sea until she came to land upon a pair of great islands, where she and her followers became the first natives and nobles. Then the youngest, Shinshen traveled north and west. Never settling in one place. Her people becoming nomads or farmers of the great mountains of the land. Rough Timeline The eldest brother Youlin had taken his father's last name as Shu, and continued the Shu dynasty. As time went on, people from other lands, a change in thinking, or other different situations gave rise to different dynasties. here are some, written in chronological order. Shu Dynasty: Agriculture, expansion, peace, and advancement. Ruled by the dragon goddess, then Shu the first emperor. Lyn Dynasty: Discovery of iron and expansion upon ancient martial arts practices as found in hidden jade dragon scrolls. Rose from the once final Shu emperor married a woman named Lyn, and his love was so great he changed his own name. Jhuxho Dynasty: Period of heavy military expansion outwards. The Jhuxho emperors decided that the wisdom granted by the jade dragon was their's alone. Chizhu Dynasty: The people of the land eventually revolted against the Jhuxho empreror Xha hou. Bringing about a period of reconstruction and restoration of culture. Ghuan Ghuan Dynasty: Seeing their chance as the empire of Xia was returning to power after hundreds of years of rebuilding, invaders descended from the Shinshen rode to conquer all of Xia. Dethroning the previous emperor and placing their own ruler atop the jade throne. Zhen Ku Dynasty(current): with allies from the eastern isles populated by Shinshen's descendants, the people of Xia were able to reinstate a new, proper emperor. This period of trade between the two people led to inventions and advancements and exchange of alchemy, marine agriculture, magics, and many other things. Religion of The East: The people of Xia and the rest of the east believe in a strange mixture of animism, ancestor worship, and spirit worship. Stemming from the earliest days when a god had given up her divinity to form these people, and the belief that those from these lands are related to the spirits of nature through a certain distant, yet still recognizable family tie. Descendants of Youlin The people of the land of Xia hold many beliefs in this day and age. Their core religion however is a belief in a rational order of nature. They worship a large number of divine spirits called the Shen, which can be nature deities, city deities, national deities, cultural heroes and demigods, ancestors and progenitors, and deities of the kinship, but none mightier than the celestial dragons. Complex rituals of worship are performed by priests within mighty cities, or by ascetic monks which follow the teachings of the great jade dragon. The oldest of these schools even house some of the original scrolls. This alternate belief is known as Xhen and has become the state religion in several parts of the large lands of Xia. Descendants of Shenshin The descendants of Shenshin are similar to their cousins in Xia due to the fact they worship many beings, however they differ in the fact that almost every one of these beings, known as the Kami, reside within parts of nature or minor works of humanity and differ in power based on the size of the object. For example, a shrine to the great goddess of the land and sun Amaterasu might be tended by a small nameless tending Kami. The descendants of Shenshin also have many different forms of worship, from radical honor, ancestor, and deed based customs, to ferver and ascetic based, and anywhere in between. A decent number of these people however have also come to follow the teachings of Xhen and follow the doctrines written in the jade dragon scrolls, though it is by no means the state religion. Descendants of Shinshen The nomads and mountain folk descended from the dragon-blooded Shinshen are very prideful and their worship defines that. They tend to trust in their elder's or tribal shamans and look to them for guidance. They mainly venerate their ancestors and great animal spirits. However, as they move around so often, their beliefs evolved to match those of the people they came into contact with, or were shaped by the passing of years.
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