Counties & Shires of the Edelrend

As of the year 644, the Kingdom of Edeldale is still a place of turmoil. Even with the threat of dragons and uprisings, the kingdom holds together. The bonds of fealty have been tested, but the individual counties and shires continue their support to the crown.

Edelrend_Counties

County lines, drawn long before this age, hold firm. And each county distinctly provides its continuing support. Each county or shire (shown above) has a singular reeve, lord, or noble that dictates how it will behave. And these overseers are even more responsible for the security of the districts since the Kingsguard has been stretched thin.

NORTHERLY COUNTY
Still under the eye of the Kingsguard, there are a number of lower nobles that hold some power along its outer edges. Lord Evenil Bailthorn (a half-elf) holds the title as Protector of the Briarwood and garrisons a number of Elvish and half-elven troops in the wood. Of course, the roads are still patrolled and sponsored by the nobility of Glimring and at any given moment you may a group of bannermen loyal to one of the noble houses.

GREENSPUR COUNTY
Until recently, this was overseen by the Shire of Longbridge (Brannid Bowsprit), a cruel and power-hungry man, who caused a revolution splitting the city into two factions. In the last year, a war has brewed, dragons have attacked it’s river settlements, and corruption was found amongst many nobles, leading to a people’s revolt. While there is no official lord assigned to Greenspur County, negotiations for the reunification of the city have been handled through a charismatic halfling leader known as Rosco Twiddletoe. It’s thought that he will become the new Reeve or at least, titled to oversee the lands.

HUNTERSWELL COUNTY
Formerly the hunting grounds of the King, it’s administration is overseen by the Lord Hastin Boarheart and Lady Nunnia Foxglove (a human couple). Their estate is along the borders of the forest by the Fox River and they are charged with the upkeep and patrol of the forest. While the Ilkmire technically borders their lands, they rarely send their men south, due to the rampaging lizardfolk clans that inhabit the swamps. They do have a foundry on site that forges the medallions given as hunting permits. A number of elvish families also provide guides and enforcement inside the Foxwoode proper.

KINGSWOOD COUNTY
Another protected forest under the eye of Glimring, this county was established as a sort of haven for those creatures of the wood requiring protection. There are a number of fey, centaurs, satyrs, and others that roam free in the wood, which can make a perilous place to wander. However, title was given to one centaur clan ages ago (Stonehoofs) and they act as the enforcers of the law. Because of this protection, in times of war, the Stonehoofs have promised to take up the banner of the crown. There is a group of woodsmen at the southern edge of the county which eke out a living by providing the services of a sawmill in the hamlet of Rambley. These men, however, avoid all interaction with the “official” denizens of the forest.

WALLRISE COUNTY
Bordering the western edge of the Blighthollows, the duties of this county fall to the Lord of Doomhold (Currently, Sir Brennid Gambridge). This county is a mix of hills and low forests and can prove quite savage in places. While the wall is primarily maintained by a specially trained force of men and dwarves, the duties outside the wall fall to Gambridge’s men. He maintains a force of some 40 horsemen and about 100 troops, well armored and armed. They provide security to the territories and occasionally cross over into the Eldwydnar to assist the denizens of Pikesford.

OAKENBOW COUNTY
Bordering the Strongwater River to the west and Greenspur and Hunterswell Counties to the north, this county covers a great territory and encompasses Ravenswoode. Its protector is the Lady Markand of Greyfinger (Mathra the Crow). She is a wizard of some repute and inherited the land when her father, Daetha, wished to be closer to the Glimring court. She often takes apprentices from Crowden and that particular settlement is very well versed in the magical arts.

GRANDVALE COUNTY
Clatterton, famed for its horse trade, is the county seat of Grandvale. The current Reeve of the town is Maquiand Maresworth and is relatively out of touch with the overall county business. His primary task is to manage the noble tournaments which are held in his district. The open lands to the east are currently given to certain knights that do well at tournament but change hands often since so many of them die adventuring. For that reason, the eastern edge of the county next to the Highlake District is oft referred to as the “Crumbles”, since many manors begin but never complete construction.

WESTSEA COUNTY
Home to some of the only true seaport in the kingdom, Westsea is a small district overseen by the Reeve of Westwater, Lord Giddrick the Elf-blooded (half-elven). He is a fair ruler and is primarily concerned with the safety of the port vs. management of the land, which means traveling along Oxenditch or Grey’s Passage can lead to larceny by thieves making their home along the western edges of the Ravenswoode.

WHEATSHIRE
This county is home to the great Wheat Sea, an open, wild grassland plain of incredible beauty and bounty. Much of the area is “farmed” by barges gathering the wild grains which are then sold at the Ryeturn Market. Hundreds of years ago, the sea facing village of Cooperswalk was famous for its famous halfling coopers. However, it’s now known as Cooper’s Rest and is primarily a port for farmers to ship their grain up the Strongwater. The mayor of Cooper’s Rest, a halfling named Fandro Barrelrider, acts as the magistrate for port business and administers the rest of Wheatshire’s affairs.

WANDERSHIRE
The primary homeland of the Halflings of Edelrend, this territory is host to caravans of families who travel its borders. Two significant settlements remain from ancient times; Millston, once a human village, now the permanent community to halfing fishermen and Holystone, an old church site which has become the only human settlement to be tolerated by the halflings (primarily because it’s the home to a number of Adoh Dumarin, with whom the halflings hold a kinship. The administration of the district is put to a council of families (Bramblebriars, Pebbletreads, Proudburrows, Fiddlefoots, & Taptreads) who elect a representative “wagoneer” for two years. The current representative of the district is Wagoneer Puddlane Pebbletread, an aging halfing with immense influence.

BUCKSHIRE
This shire is primarily the Laughing Wood and areas just outside of it. There are no permanent residents of Buckshire, but instead, it plays home to a number of wild elves, halfings and others pledged to the King’s service but disdaining permanent settlement. There are a number of communes amongst the wood, but no one group claims authority over the other.  There is a Lord-Reeve (Delk Verenfield) – representing the crown – who holds residence there in a lodge near the Fieldsong Spill. He acts primarily as a judge for any dispute in the shire. His men number less than a dozen and are mostly rangers.

THE LAKE DISTRICTS
Split between the Widow and Maiden’s Lakes are a pair of tenuous territories held by a pair of knights. Making his home in Wickwright Hollow is Sir Harst Hammerflung, who holds the Low Lake District. He is a relatively young knight and is barely managing to hold on to his power there, what with the raids on the Ponderous Path by Suthican raiding parties. To the north is the more established Lady Dragah Lightstrung, a Paladin to Dava. Her shell keep is just outside Brakenthorp and her service to the crown, her church, and her people are unwavering.

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The Coastway

The Coastway 2.png

Along the outer edges of the Kingdom of Eldwydnar, is a series of communities who answer to no particular lord. They are a collection of farming thorps and fishing villages who are held under the protection of the Elven Queen Eostra. However, none of the villagers have ever petitioned for her aid, and the only form of the law is the Edowith Naestur (Green Defenders – A collection of highly trained elven rangers) who patrol the edges of the forest. Rarely, they step onto the Coastway, but when they do it is for their own reasons.

The communities are as follows:

Pikesford
(Thorp – 38 souls)

Primarily populated with families of the Captains on the Boneguard. There are a few crofters here, but mostly they are dirt farmers and rely on goods from further south. The senior most member of the Southern Wall Guard has this settlement under his charter. A group of 5 armored men (rotated from the wall), provides security here.

 

Watersgard 
(Hamlet – 120 souls )

This hamlet has grown substantially in the last few years. At one time, a fishing outpost for the elves, it became a way station for men traveling down from the White Keep. It has a couple of famous festivals (“The Night of Tall Tales” & “Windmarket”) and markets which act as a meeting point for the other villages of the Coastway.

It’s said that the folk of Watersgard are friendly and kind. (Though of course, there are always exceptions).


Fleetrock

(Thorp – 60 souls)

A collection of men, half-elves, and elves, this thorp is a burgeoning fishing community. Though many who come from here retain the odors of their craft (there is a famous bardic song called “The Men of Fleetrock Smell of Fish”. Fleetrock has a couple of merchants who travel both north and south selling their fish. There is a rather famous inn here known as the Sodden Seal, where many a sailor or traveler has lost coin or overindulged. It’s also famous for its fish pies.


A most familiar face on the road is, Old Drel, who is getting feeble and is hoping to sell his business. He has no children but it’s rumored that his age is hindered by some magical source.

 

Cravenspire
(Thorp – 24 souls)

So named because it was once the site of the Justice Stone where criminals from Bravenhold were left to die. The Thorp is primarily filled with the descendants of the first executioners.

It serves a way-camp for those traveling North from Bravenhold, though they are few and far between. The members of this small community provide water and guards at space called the Safewell and have become mildly famous for it.

Their most influential citizen is Froland Lightcoin, a merchant who bought the former Bailer farm. He and his daughter run a business out of Bravenhold, dealing in many goods not normally found in the region. He is a very loyal patron of the thorp and acts as a sort of mayor.

 

Bravenhold
(Village – ~600 souls)

The largest village of the region, it’s a haven for many races and creeds. There are multiple shrines and it boasts religious tolerance more open than the capital. There is a small tower here occupied by a knight (Sir Bordalus the Suthican) and his wife (Larrella, an elf from the Eldwyd), a charismatic sorceress. She has decided to stay with Bordalus to watch over the town and is currently with child. OUTSIDE of the village, there are mixed feelings about another half-elven child.

The village is relatively secure but has been the subject of orcish pirate raids in the past. They have begged for the secret of gunpowder from the Northern Dwarves but have yet to obtain it. A pair of well-equipped ships (the “Iron Gull” and “Resolution”) patrol the bay watching for threats from the sea.

 

The Truth of Dragons and the Origin of the World

In Ethren, there has lived a long-told lie… that the dragons were no more or those that propagated that lie and hid their kind were doing a great disservice to the gentlefolk. This could be no further from the truth than the sun is from the moon. Herein is the true tale of the scaled ones, and the originators of the world.

Nearly ten thousand years ago the world was formed not from the void, but from the hands of the Pentaprimordials, known to some as the Paragons. These infinite beings, living beyond time and space, spun the thread that held the universe together. Both attracted and repelled, they barely knew of the others.  

In the center of it all, slowly spinning in circles was the Navigator. Covered in the dust of the weave, he became restless and a shiver erupted from his ancient hide. Those tiny particles, pinpricks of light and magic were caught in the spin and formed what was called Celestasphere. Inside it, motes of power – freesouls, which would become the Celestials – drifted and spun, causing powerful light to radiate across the darkness. Caught in the drift, their threads entangled and each of them was drawn in.

Once in, however, the Celestasphere held them tight. Even at the resistance of the Navigator, they pulled and tugged, but in the tangle of the threads, new forms emerged.

First Father’s magic became the mountains and the stone on which the world rested. World Mother reached down upon it to breathe life and greenery. The Old Form, confused by the union between them, spat out in disgust all the oceans and waters that ooze across the world. The Navigator struggled under these new materials and pushed hard to create the skies.  Ever after, this has been known as the Material Plane.

But what of Teeth-in-Darkness? It’s jealous gaze burned deep into the rock and beneath it started a fire. From that flame and envy came dark beings, demons, and keepers of hells, living beneath all that was good, occasionally bursting forth in the form of fiery stone pillars, belching fire on those in its path.

So then the Navigator inadvertently tightened its mass trapping the Pentaprimordial into a reality shared by them all. First Father was the first to escape it, breathing life into the stone – Avatars of himself – to shape and contain the fire. As they looked to the heavens to see his face, their light opened a path for him to return to his Far Place. These stonefolk were the first of the dwarven gods.

Noting what he had done, World Mother too shaped the trees into lithe bodies which wrapped themselves around the drifting souls in the Celestasphere. These bright and pure folk gave way to the elves. The songs of the forest allowed her to return to her place among things as well.

Struggling to also create something and free itself of this world, the Old Form twisted and turned, first forming creatures under the sea. As he gripped at the edges of reality, out of him also fell the first humanoids; not noblemen, but stunted, grunting nearly amphibious things. As they fell across the land, these curious savages settled into the forms of goblinoids and men. Its escape came not from songs or prayer, but in the darkest places where walking things forget. The rejection was its freedom and it sulked into the darkness in earnest.

But Teeth-in-Darkness did not want to leave. No, it had other ideas. It wanted the world badly and literally hatched its plan under the skin of the world. Millions of eggs, thick and leathery, absorbing the magicks from around them. As the world grew, constantly reforming, so did the eggs transform and become new things. Corrupted avatars emerged, adapting to the places where they lay. Red Furies, belching smoke and flame from their fiery dens. Black Terrors, corrupting pools and groves where they emerged. Stone Chewers, under the earth and destroying the perfectly formed crystals. These primeval beasts were the first of Wyrms; horrors meant to corrupt the places held sacred, tearing a hole so Teeth-in-Darkness may return to the void.

For three thousand years the Dragonlords served Teeth-in-Darkness, as she toyed with the creations of the other Four. Her wickedness knew no bounds, but the forms of Ethren were strong and resisted her corruption. She twisted her dragon-forms, over and over, seeking just the right combination of hatred and greed, but the Navigator was bound to rebalance all things. From her discarded threads, he bound them to the perfect structures of metals formed by the First Father. Weaved them into the original Pure Dragons (Metallics); shining forms to set the scales right.

Teeth-in-Darkness tore her way out, leaving vast scars in the world, but she vowed to return someday. Thus, so does the arrogance of the Chromatic Dragons reflect her will in the world; to hoard, rebuke those unlike themselves and dominate.

So began the earliest Age of Dragons, when the Paragons departed and they were left to balance all that was. Chromatics worked to form the world into a twisted palace fit for Teeth-in-Darkness to return, while the Metallics fought to advance those beings remaining behind.

For thousands of years, there was strife, culminating in the war of the Dragon’s Claim. The two most powerful among their clans – Angralask the Icehearted and Silleskess the Silvertongued – made their way to the most northern reaches and began an epic struggle for control of the world. There were others who witness the fury and carnage. On the side of Chromatics, Azkhalak the Red, Shezret-Prince-of-the-Wind, The Black Matron, and Two-Lanterns-Hissing of the Aldaelfrenir. And on the side of Metallics, Lassranax Golden Mane, Karnhavarat Bronzeteeth, Tethis and Sithet (the Coppered Twins).

The battle between the two giants lasted for 200 years, and the world shook while all in it trembled. Surely, this would tear the fabric of all things apart if it didn’t stop. So the armies of men, elves, and dwarves, marched to end it.The dwarves tried to overcome them with the force of hammer and axe, only to be driven underground for the rest of modern times. The elves moved on the two with magic, only to be scattered across all of Ethren. Their efforts had borne fruit, however, because badly wounded, Angralask returned to the icy north, laid her eggs and died.

Great strife continued, but being the most dominant, strongest, and still merciful, Silleskess proposed a code of rules; designating territories and protected lands. The dragons then left what was known as the Mainland and scattered into the far corners of Ethren. But Sillesskess had also been mortally wounded, slipping into death, but her young kin worked to keep the treaty alive. Emboldened, greed again overtook the chromatics and they slithered their way back into the lands of the Good Folk, bringing with them some terrible things.

So began what was known as the Deception, by a clever king named Herras. He would use the union of his family with dragons, and his position, to create a system to pacify the younger, more impetuous spawn of the great old wyrms. He created a force of “Tabardeers”, sworn knights to protect (in reality, tax collectors to distribute the kingdom’s wealth to the beasts, keeping their desire to raid at bay). Seemingly treacherous, no one could know the true mind and long plans of a Silver dragon’s servant. While his court sold “the lie”, clever magics were being woven around the capital city of Glimring, to keep it safe from the future fury of the Wyrms.

Only a handful of mages still know the truth, as do their defenders and confidants in The Dragon’s Heart. Only they know still what keeps the darkness at bay and the walls of Glimring standing.

The Greycloaks of Glimring

As it follows with the oldest of cities, as folk begin to gather into large permanent settlements, crime is close behind. Early in the development of Glimring, this problem was easily managed by the King’s Own Guard. But as the capital grew and bifurcated into different districts, the presence of a non-magical force became ineffective. Simple prestidigitation tricks could distract the best of veteran guards, so it was necessary to counter magic with magic. Of course, the mastery of arcana was not as common as the sword, and the most powerful of sorcerers, wizards and warlocks had more lofty aspirations or interests.

The solution was the deputization of local Rangers. Once a large force made up of elves and men (loyal to the Elvenqueen) these magically trained warriors proved loyal and capable. But the filth and congestion of constricted street, the choking smoke of city fires, and the lack of natural spaces made it difficult for those unused to such conditions (later, those that bailed or returned to a life outside the city would organize into a brotherhood known as ‘The Greenhand’).

Enter, the Gloom Stalkers – Rangers equipped to deal with the treacherous and tight conditions of the modern city. Using the shadows of the alleys and magic learned on the darkest of under-dwellings, these few began to spearhead the streets and clean up crime among Glimring. The first of these was a group of scouts from Low Hollow. Originally a motley pack of dwarves and men, unafraid of what lay beneath the cracks of Rumbletop. But within a generation of men, they’d evolved into a sophisticated detective force.

The group took on the name “Greycloaks” as they all wore dull hooded cloaks, better to blend in with the shadows. While many Greycloaks still follow the path of the Gloom Stalkers, any Rangers are welcome that can tolerate city life.

The Greycloaks are paid a small stipend at the mercy of the King’s Guard, budgeted to supplement the more sophisticated investigations. Greycloaks very rarely enforce the mundane law (that’s left to the City Guard, paid for by the taxes of the Merchant class). However, if Greycloak is present, it’s most likely because something arcane has transpired. They are trusted in most of the Edelrend, but wield no power outside the boundaries of that kingdom.

 

Religion Focus: Raast

Beliefs:
The current beliefs in the Raastic (ROSS-tic) cult are based on a small number of very dedicated followers who believe Dava’s brother (named only once in the Davan Cycle) was cursed with an eternal sleep. Thought to be in a dreamless sleep, his follower profess to be able to hear his voice in the Great Dream. However, the current faith speaks of a resurgence of his presence in the aether and shadow realms not since he was first revealed to the “Madarama Martyr” (see below).

The connection to this “Great Dream” is what binds all followers together. Most believe this very world is nothing more than an echo of Raast’s awakening dream. The sect is scorned by the Davanic faith as a heresy, so they often keep congregational assemblies very small and private.  The believers think that someday Raast will wake and take his place at the side of his brother to oversee the Bright Kingdom (afterlife for the Davans).

Origin:
First to have interpreted this dream is a holy woman named Edorastis (edo-RASS-tis), who fell into a coma for the span of a month. There, she met the avatar of Raast, a ghostly form who told her of the Awakening Dream. Her initial heresy was met with strong recourse from Paladins of Dava who had her tried and burned on a pyre. For this reason she is often referred to as the “Madarama Martyr” (Madama being a respectful title for an unmarried elderly woman in the old tongue).

But when her spirit remained over the pyre to speak from beyond for a week, many who came to see her were convinced this was not some latent magic or curse, but instead a sign. Early collections of Rasstic followers clashed with the more militant members of the Davan Church, but this persecution only fueled their faith.

Influence:
This faith has virtually NO influence in the culture or politics of Ethren, as it’s considered heresy by the Davanic followeItsIt’s members tend to conceal their beliefs, but occasionally you may meet a hermit who is instead, a holy man of Raast.

Reach:
The Daughters of Edorastis have a collection of shrines where fortune tellers will interpret dreams to fund the faith. But in general, you might only see these believers. In the last 200 years less and less has been written or spoken of Raast and it’s thought that the religion may fade into obscurity in another human lifetime.

Religion Focus: The All-Cloud of Infinite Points

Beliefs:
The All-Cloud worshippers are few but very dedicated to the ways of law. While they don’t necessarily believe in a central, overseeing god or goddess, they do agree that “The Structure” is an ordered way to view the universe. In the Structure, they see connections and relationships that others might not see. The religion is only loosely associated with a worship structure, but instead a reverence for things mathematical. Much of the congregating is based on debates about the fabric of reality and how the Structure plays into it. Sages, astrologers and other mathematically inclined professions see the value in this belief system and rally around it. The few who call themselves “clergy” are merely iconoclasts bent on spreading knowledge or those obsessed with perfection or order.

While considered “lawful” in their thinking, Structurists have little strictures on their lifestyles. Some are sagacious philosophers while others are shameless hedonists. But in all cases they exhibit an appreciation of great mathematical works; in architecture, poetry, naturally ordered systems (crystals, for example, are highly revered by them), or any such place where relationships and order exist. The worst crime in this worship system is to lack curiosity.

Origin:
In the earliest days of magic, those that practiced spell casting did so at the peril of disrupting the belief systems of early man. Tribal elders and shamen did a much better job of storytelling, healing and ensuring their flocks adhered to some sense of morality.

The first written account of the belief in an “All Cloud” was made by an astrologer named Demicartius (Dem-AH-carshus) who believed the alignment of the stars could infuse certain sensitive souls with power. As his studies progressed, he found the power in all ordered systems (how crystals could enhance spells, how light moved through glass, etc.) and concluded that this infinite flow of particles surely had to be some sort of divine flux. From there, the religion was born, less a belief in things material, but more the alignment of the preternatural.

Influence:
They have no interest in worldly politics or the maneuvering of governments. Such pursuits are seen to be wrangled out of chaos. Instead, they are found guiding the hands of architects, plotting navigational charts of great efficiency, seeking to better define the connections between all things, and looking for ways to increase the understanding of magic.

Reach:
There are thought to be less than two thousand total believers in all of Ethren and the majority of them are found in its cities. Of the races other than men, only the dwarves express similar passion and obsession with such order. Thus, it’s likely to see the occasional dwarven scholar or priest following the path of the All-Cloud.

A World Map of Ethren

GreaterEthren

While much of the information about the world beyond the seas is held as a very close secret amongst the Arcanica, this greater picture of Ethren has emerged from a series of Merchant Guild routes, adventurers maps, and confirmed rumors. Most citizens of a region will never know the world beyond their own, but to the bold and curious, Ethren is a much bigger place than imagined.

Where titles are in yellow, these represent the Faslduranic names for places that may be more often referred to by their Herrasian names.

 

fonts:
Main font – Warhorse BB by Nate Piekos,
Falsduranic Runes – Acadian Runes by Javier Ugarte del Corro