In the years following the expulsion of the Daemar from Melgador, the many chieftains, lords, kings, and other leaders agreed that the land would be more safe if the land could unite, however none of the remaining disciples of Ry'emus would agree to lead the land alone. Thus the new land was to be divided into nine holds, each led by a disciple of Ry'emus, and the Wards of the Ryn'em Empire; Thorin Spire of Atlas, Balgruf the Terrible of Valkar, and Gorruk Bloodfist of Cedia were three of Remus's Generals in his army. The other leaders were Ailmer of The Silver Coast, Orin Stoneface of The Stoneface Pass, Gorruk Bloodfist of Cedia, Taira Alokin of Dehn, Anec Noj of Tandersun, Melnir Greenleaf of The Ebonwood, and Lord Barryn of The Ice Plains.
In the year 47, thousands of men from across the continent traveled to meet with the nine remaining disciples of Remus at the ruins of the Palace of Zyteus. If was here that the people of Melgador pledged fealty to the new lords of Winterfall.
The first lords of Winterfall set a standard for all future leaders of the world. Each province held a great number of different races and each lord was able to keep general peace and maintain public favor for as long as they reigned. Many lords were able to reorganize and assist the people of their hold and increase efficiency and proficiency to a level superior than before.
While the nine lords swore allegiance to each other and the people of Winterfall, in reality, it was a land divided. While each lord may have made improvements, they did not truly work together to do so. Each hold was consumed by their own business and hardly communicated with far away holds. Each hold trained their own soldiers in their own armies who's only goal was to protect their own land. Rarely would holds get involved with neighboring hold's issues. The only common nuisance between the holds were the powerful behemoths that inhabited Melgador. While each were incredibly different in size, appearance, strengths, and weaknesses, they were an enemy nearly every hold had to deal with. On several occasions, the elite forces from all around Winterfall worked together to defeat these beasts when they emerged from the mountains and forests.
The First Age: The Reign of the Nine Lords Edit
In Atlas, Thorin Spire was instructed by the Oracle of Winterfall to establish the Order of Ryheus, in 49 based off the Knights of Remus. These paladins pledged their lives to Ryheus the God of Justice and Order and vowed to rid Melgador of all evil, dedicating their existence to hunting down all remaining Daemar. The order expanded, having a military base on the mountain of Winterfall. Here they prayed to their god and maintained the balance of justice throughout Winterfall, even choosing their own Oracle of Ryheus who performed spells and incantations trying to understand the God's actions. In the year 78, a missionary traveled from Atlas to Valador and set up a small monastery. Over the course of the first age, the Order of Ryheus helped to rebuild the capital hold following the destruction of the many Ryn'em cities and fortresses. Thorin united the broken people and helped them to recognize their pride and devotion to the gods as well. While they did do good for the hold and its people, the Order of Ryheus still took a heavy tax on the land and was always looking for more gold to fill their coffers. The Order maintained political control over the land by comprising themselves of the many noble families that held most of the land, wealth, and power. During the first age of Atlas, only nobles were able to join the Order, and it was seen as one of the highest positions in the Hold. While cities' leaders managed their own defenses, it was well known that the Order of Ryheus had an army of the best trained, and well equipped fighters. It was also around this era that the Atlas Ruling Council was established. This congregation of mainly Ryheus worshiping nobles would have provincial control over land, cities, and their inhabitants. The 200 were also responsible for administration the land such as collecting taxes and organizing provincial forces.
Silver Coast Edit
Lord Ailmer of the Silver Coast was lucky that the major cities of the hold had been left mostly intact, however the farmland making up most of the hold's land was torn apart by both demon and humanoid army alike. Ailmer was able to designate farming land to the wealthy who could afford to pay peasants to work so the land would gain back their productivity. The many silver mines in the north that were left untouched, also contributed to the increasing wealth of the hold. The silver coast became quite wealthy, and traded a lot with all other holds, especially by sea. While they did not have a significant army, the hold was filed with skilled workers and craftsman. They contributed greatly to many of the roads, bridges, and even assisted with many great structures. Using their immense wealth, nobles of the Silver Coast founded the great Academy of Winterfall in the year 66, which would become a center of knowledge for all of the continent. Each student was uniquely admitted to attend the university, so the knowledge was mainly granted to only the higher classes of citizens, highly intelligent persons, and of course certain special cases. These people would go to learn dozens of languages, master magical and nonmagical skills, and access the most advanced scientific and alchemical knowledge. It was here that the last of the Ryn'em magic was kept secret by Alimer, who promised the god Xallocus never to release it to the lesser beings of Winterfall.
The political climate of the Silver Coast was a very tumultuous as several old families vied for control of the lordship and wealth of the hold. However the families generally recognized the importance of loyalty to the Lord of the hold, and only fought for minor holdings and alternate money sources. Several families worked to consolidate control of minor mines, villages, or industries; often buying them forcefully from their original owners. When Lord Ailmer noticed the wealthy taking advantage of the poor, he ordered higher amounts of taxes be collected from these wealthy families. While many tried to in turn, tax their people more, Ailmer was aware of this, and used the noble's own resources to ensure the money came from the right place. The nobles took this aggression by Ailmer as an insult, and began talks of removing him, however he acted quickly and called a meeting with the noblemen, demanding their loyalty to him and the hold which they were inclined to agree to. Afterwards, Ailmer was able to use the noble's increasing wealth to build cities, train a professional army, and improve the overall quality of life for his people.
Lord Anec Noj pushed very hard for his Daedic brothers to forget their Horse Lord, and instead pray to the Ten Divines In particular, Lord Noj promoted the worship of the Sun goddess, Dikenna. The Lord filled Tandersun with great cities, massive obelisk monuments, and constructed the first and one of the largest academies in Winterfall, providing free education to all who sought it known as The Nadora School of the Sun, all in her honor. While this worked in the more populated areas such as the cities built by the Ryn'em, it had little effect on the Horse Tribes of the plains. Additionally, this put the hold into immense debt, eventually leading to slight famine in the cities and a lack of sanitation. To help the Holds of Atlas, the Silver Coast, and Dehn worked to send regular shipments of grain to their cities, however the grain was often stolen by robbers or horse tribes who attempted to sell the grain back to the city officials.
While the people struggled in the cities, the nomadic tribes maintained their numbers and even found great success traveling between the cities, selling their wares; often consisting of meat, pelts, alchemical ingredients, and slaves. One tribe, the Gel'n claimed much of the north as their hunting grounds, even extending as far as the White Wood. Many Klaygun settlements fought to rid their lands from the Daeds, however whenever the two would meet to skirmish, the swift riders emerged victorious every time. The hardships imposed on them by the expanding Daeds forced many to take up residence in the cities of the Undergard or higher up in the mountains.
The land granted to Taira Alokin was filled mostly with human farmers descendants of the Klayguns, the Daedic, or the Human Kingdoms, which suited Taira very well. She was already an old woman of 83 years when she took leadership of Dehn, however the gods seemed to grant her an extraordinarily long life. Taira Alokin ruled with justice and mercy and helped to make sure everyone's mouths were full.
nothing, because everyone was happy and the hold was wealthy enough. The farmers supplied great amounts of resources to the armies of Cedia and the Ice Plains in addition to the rest of the continent.
Lady Alokin was able to unite the various cultures living in the hold by establishing a sense of unity for Winterfall, although not every hold felt the same. Granted bountiful arable land, Taira believed it was her duty to share her fortune with the rest of the continent. Wealthy holds paid large sums of gold and silver for the various produce that was grown in the area, while donations were sent to other parts of the continent where they were not as fortunate. This good will led to the people to call her Taira the Benevolent. She started several charities and promoted religion through worship of all Ten Divines.
The Stoneface Pass Edit
The Stoneface Pass was to be a hold dedicated to being a safe homeland for dwarves of Winterfall. However, situated on the shortest and quickest route from northern holds to southern holds, the main city of Thel Thorum quickly became quite wealthy and attracted many traders and merchants of all races. Eventually all the other races began to settle both inside the mountain and on the surrounding lands. The tunnels were dug deep, and the halls flowed with dwarven ale. Collecting gold from the travelers, the traders, and the mountain, the people of the pass lived happily. Specific markets and companies were established in each city throughout the hold, often owned by wealthy nobles. Members of the lower class would work in the mines, as smiths, or transporting materials throughout the land. This land however also belonged to the Klaygun tribes, who were a bit reluctant to give up ownership of their lands, even to an ally. Even with their kin Taira Alokin ruling the land just to the south, the Klayguns were confused why their land had been given to a different territory. While the lords understood that it was a good natural boundary and wanted to keep the holds roughly relative to population, the Klayguns continued to insist on moving the borders. When this did not work, the Klayguns attempted to get a voice on the Lord's council, however even this was not enough. When the Klaygun's began to push for their independence from the Dwarves, Orin Stoneface decided he needed to teach the Klayguns a lesson and began to tax them heavily for their insubordination. In return, many of the Klayguns decided to pack up their bags and left the large cities for the less inhabited wilderness.
Two tribe leaders Maeth Kierstag and Aergren Snowvilk refused to leave their native land on the slopes of the Stoneface Mountains as they began to be called. Instead they camped in a massive wooden fort as high up as they could reach, and refused to leave until granted peace. While at first Orin and his court did not consider them a threat, they soon gathered a significant size following and Orin became worried that the force would rise up if left alone. Rather than granting them what they wanted, Orin devised a plot to cut off all resources to the fort, and starve the Klayguns into submission. This plan worked very well, however when dignitaries attempted to leave their fort to talk with the surrounding army, they was confusion and the surrendering messengers were slaughtered. Seeing this from the walls of the fort, Maeth and Aergren agreed that they could not give up without a fight, and surprised the dwarves by charging in full force out of the fort. The Klaygun being almost twice the size of the dwarves, trampled over them during their descent from the mountain. Swords clashed while the terrified Kaygun attempted to flee, however when the dust cleared, it was evident that the Klayguns had left the dwarven force decimated, and escaped to the south. In the land of Dehn the Kierstag and Snowvilk clans would find better fortune. The much smaller Otikul clan however escaped to the hold of Atlas where they settled in the city of Oldmont and gained significant lands and power.
In Cedia, Gorruk Bloodfist struggled to unite the orcish strongholds and other cities of western Winterfall under the name Cedia. Unlike their relatives to the west, living on the Isles, many of the orcs of Cedia sought more peaceful lives. Although they still trained to fight, they tried to avoid constant warring amongst the many tribes and villages, a standard that was upheld with a bloody fist. Also unlike the rulers of the Isles, the future lord of Cedia was expected to be chosen by popular vote. Attempting to imitate the Ryn'em order, Gorruk united his people by inviting regional clan leaders to sit in with his court and help rule the Hold. Unlike the Ryn'em however, Gorruk filled his court with warriors and generals, as he was more focused on keeping the orcs occupied so they would not start a civil war. He achieved this by pitting his best warriors against the fiercest of behemoths and monsters of Winterfall. The Fight Pits of Balmoral were established early in his reign, inviting orcs and combatants from all over Winterfall to fight the fiercest warriors in addition to each other. Rewards ranged from the gear of your enemy, to immense wealth and glory. Additionally, Gorruk and his generals focused on bringing the fight to the massive behemoths of the north.
In order to fight the behemoths, orcish warriors trained day and night, making them fierce warriors who were known for tolerating an immense amount of pain and fatigue.
There was even an elite status warriors could achieve, only becoming one of the Amok after proving their ability to ignore pain entirely. Gorruk Bloodfist was able to inspire his people, committing them to the Ice Plains to fight behemoths alongside lord Barryn. His additional force helped to successfully defend the military outposts and workers from several behemoths.
Ice Plains Edit
Lord Barryn took the challenge to expand into the empty Ice Plains of the north, with the dream of setting up a military in the north to fight against the Behemoths. In a single year, with help from Cedia and Valkar, the abandoned castle Kendhall was transformed into a military base, where they were able to train and amass an army to fight off the terrible beasts. As this was the harshest area of Melgador, it contained some of the fiercest behemoths. It was the ultimate goal to break the frozen surface of the land and dig deep into underground caverns told to be filled with all types of ores. In the year 51, Lord Barryn called other Lords to send help to fight the terrible behemoth The Frozen Man-Basher. The Circle of the Crystal Crown and Order of Ryheus both sent troops to help the armies of Cedia and Valkar, however it was no use. The Frozen Man-Basher was way too large for even their amassed army, and although they were able to seriously injure the monster, they were unable to clear its lair, a main site of precious ores they had set their eyes on. The army was recalled back to their many outposts in the year 55 because the army could no longer stand the fighting after losing the troops of Valkar. At this time many paladins and rangers returned to Atlas and the armies of Cedia and the Ice Plains were left to fend for themselves. For many years, initial expansion into the Ice Plains was halted because of the lack of forces.
Lord Barryn lived without a family, in the stone fort Kendhall, where he called upon various exiled warriors, mercenaries and seekers of fortune to help him fight the behemoths of the north. Life was hard for the men, who worked nonstop building fortifications and strategizing how best to take down such immense creatures. What resulted from his brutal task, was a group of hardened, experienced, professional soldiers, some may consider the best in all of Winterfall. Tales of successful warriors from the north, gaining riches and fame drove young eager men to take up arms as well, however the promise of fortune and glory were often not realized.
In the north, several prominent nord leaders of Valkar pledged to Lord Balgruf and in turn were accepted into the formal Hold of Valkar. One leader, Harlka chose to oppose Lord Balgruf, insisting that he was a more true nord, and would lead Valkar better than Balgruf could. In the year 53, while Balgruf away with most of his army, the major city of Seaford was attacked by the sea monster Hydrakar, and they were unable to defend themselves. Many of the people living there died, and the beast was only driven back to the ocean after Harlka's small but significant force showed up to help. Feeling unsafe, several families began to doubt Lord Balgruf's leadership and allowed Harlka to crown himself lord of Varstead and murder Lord Balgruf's wife Rota and daughter-in-law Agnola and her children. Hearing this, Lord Balgruf was enraged and immediately marched his army back to Valkar where he promptly put an end to the false Lord Harlka and any of his followers who would not pledge fealty to him. Many nords chose to die rather than be dishonorable. Balgruf went on to grant his son leadership of Harlka's city Brestone to the east, who would turn the city into a major military power, successfully defending it from several behemoth attacks.
Although many of the nord leaders pledged to Lord Balgruf, many held resentment towards him and his family for their past betrayal of their people. People began to speak prophecy of a man who would prove his strength to the gods by slaying a giant who raises from the mountains. This man would unite Valkar against a much stronger enemy, a devil underground. Each time a giant would emerge from the mountains, young warriors throughout the hold would hunt it down and try to slay it, with very little success. Each time, the lords would gather without Balgruf, to send their sons to deal with the problem. Finally, nearing the end of the century, Balgruf's son, Taron sought out the prophecy and tracked down one giant to bring its head home, however he met the same fate of so many young nords who had tried before him.
Melnir Greenleaf began a guild of elite rangers known as the Circle of the Crystal Crown, based out of the Ebonwood. This new guild would continue to serve under the lord of the Ebonwood for centuries to come. Over the years these rangers would perfect the skill of archery, hunting, and acrobatics. Within the Ebonwood, the great Ebontrees became the perfect perch for canopy homes and great wooden fortresses with intricate wooden carvings (similar to totem poles) dedicated to their gods and the spirits of the forest. While Melnir recognized the Ten Divines of Winterfall and especially Ibus and Astria, the wood elves were reluctant to end the worship of the many spirits of the forest and nature, who they had worshiped for centuries.
Most of the people living in the Ebonwood were elves, with the largest portion being wood elves. Most elves lived in medium sized tribes made up of their extended family and other relatives. Fighting between tribes was relatively frequent, as they often fought for control of land. Under the rule of Melnir, these disputes were instead settled by the regional leaders; advisors and members of the Circle. While this reduced the amount of fighting within the hold, it also helped foster resentment against the crown and their officials. The Ebonwood was the first hold to see militants lash out against the new regime, however with a swift display of power, the militants were quickly captured and punished. Under Melnir's reign, the land was formally separated into several regions which would be controlled by regional councils, similar to her own. The councils were made up of the chiefs and advisors of the tribes living in those regions. Loyal tribes were rewarded with power and land, while disobedient tribes were punished or exiled. In the early years of the hold's formation, most of Melnir's actions were based off securing long term peace between the families, leaving no time to establish armies, infrastructure, or an economy.
Furthermore, these legendary lords lived and ruled for over a hundred years as if blessed by the gods. However, all great things must come to an end. The first lord to give up their seat was Ailmer of The Silver Coast who would pass it down to his disciple Erolith. Witnessing their friend passing along the reins, the other lords followed suite and each choosing a successor they deemed worthy. It is believed by a large population of Winterfall, that these first Nine lords of Winterfall never actually died and instead gained immortality as celestial servants of the gods.
The Second Age: Edit
Atlas begins to be assaulted by a feuding dragon and behemoth from the mountains. The lord of Atlas, Ribeka Serrett calls her army back from The Ice Plains, however they need to travel through the Stoneface pass. Odum charges General Hanhar and his troops an immense tax to allow his army to return to Atlas, nearly all of their gains from defeating the behemoth of the north. The general makes his troops pay and they are not happy, but he has worse problems such as the two beasts. Several towns and cities are destroyed and Atlas is forced to completely abandon mount Winterfall to the beasts, including their temple base. However Lady Serrett was determined to regain the lost land with or without her army of paladins but would not head out without consulting the oracle first. Traveling north to the Great Lake, she met the Lady of the Lake who prophesized "If the soldiers of Atlas march upon the Spire, a Holy Land will be reclaimed and a great warrior will fall." This was all the motivation Ribekka needed, and she gathered a weak force of militia and guards to march on the Spire. Unfortunately Ribeka was severely under-maned and fell in the fighting, being targeted by the fierce Xalanth, Champion of the Dark. In her absence, the remainder of the 200 nobles of Atlas elected Martin Mott, a prominent noble to run the Hold.
When the Order finally arrived back from the north, there was incredible destruction brought about by the two battling beasts. However the dragon was badly injured, and Thuderfoot had been slain by Arlen Balleth, allowing the dragon to be easily pushed back by the powerful paladins. However their temple base was completely destroyed. For two years the Order of Ryheus focused on regaining the lost land as well, however no progress was made, and the Order of Ryheus gave up on their mission and returned to the safety of their cities.
Soon after (177), a well-known monk and current leader of the Order, Seir Zakaria, plotted a coup of the Hold, as The Order was convinced that Atlas was theirs by divine right. With his military behind him, the holy man was swayed by his generals to not only dethrone Martin, but to kill him and his family, as to prevent any rebellion. However Zakaria refused to kill them all and in a swift action, the Mott family was gathered up and imprisoned for crimes against Ryheus, planned for exile. Knowing that the people would fight against his claim while the family lived, General Hanhar tricked one of his captains to murder the family and get caught in the action, placing nearly all the blame upon him and beheading him the next day.
After he was secure as the next leader Atlas, the paladins seized control of the hold, with Seir Zakaria claiming the Divine Right to rule. Within the next few years the paladins would promote widespread worship of the god Ryheus throughout the hold. In the year 178, a group of paladins set out on a mission to attempt to climb the Spire, defeat Xalanth, and continue to spread the worship of Ryheus across Winterfall, leaving behind twin brothers, Elijah and Alric Westerdal for Lord Zakaria to care for. Over the course of several years, the boys were taught to worship and fight for their god Ryheus. When the boys were 18 years old they set out to the Spire to search for their father who never reached his destination in the Silver Coast. Upon the mountain they encountered a young dragon, Liovisa who spoke to them and revealed that a great empire would soon form to the south and they should prepare for possible war. When the boys asked the dragon if it had seen their father, he informed them that Xalanth had taken their father hostage for many years for reasons unknown. Liovisa then confronted Xalanth on behalf of the boys who wished to meet with their father. The three were allowed to meet in the ruined temple base where Bennet Westerdal, the Paladin assured the boys that he was safe, however he would never be able to return, although he would live forever. He had become a Void Knight, chosen by Xalanth for a higher purpose and to serve the gods. Along with Liovisa, the boys returned home to Seir Zakaria and the order, sharing the information they learned. Not long after, Seir Zakaria died of natural causes, and the two boys, now men, assumed leadership of the Order as they had been trained to. However the nation was without a lord, as nether brother wanted to assume the duty. Instead, they asked their dragon companion Liovisa to choose a new lord, but when she selected a 7 year old orphan girl, the two men were baffled. Liovisa insisted that she take command and that the boys teach her as Seir had raised them. The men did as she asked, and took Juliana from her mother to live with them in the Temple of Ryheus. Right from the start, the people loved Lady Juliana as she spent her time and money helping the poor and weak citizens of Atlas. However the order knew that they still needed to prepare for possible war with the growing Kearan Empire. In the year 202, the 12 year old Lady began training to fight and lead an army and soon after, Liovisa took Juliana upon her back, acting as a fierce mount. One of Lady Juliana's
Silver Coast Edit
When all the leaders stepped down, the nobles of The Silver Coast gathered together to decide who would be the next person to lead them. The top contender was a promising young student at the University who was busy studying the Ryn'em. His name was Shayar Heza, a human of Ytheran descent who was born in The Silver Coast. Shayar however did not follow the Ytheran god and instead chose to worship The Ten, like most religions of Winterfall. In the early years of his rule many behemoths traveled further south than ever, and descended upon the farmers of the coast, bringing destruction with them. Shayar and advisors decided the hold should establish a decent sized army so they could defend their land from both beast and humanoid aggressors. This army was at first an immense failure, gathering militia from all over the hold with insufficient weapons or training. This militia, although large in number were unsuccessful in fighting off the behemoths, and often ended up with the militia running in fear. However after a few years, Lord Heza called upon great military generals Eldun the Tall from Valkar and Garth 'Two-Dagger' Bellator of Atlas to help train the soldiers. After rigorous training and a significant investment in improved equipment, the soldiers were able to drive away a great behemoth known as the Thunderfoot (162). However following the attacks by the behemoth, much of the land was left devastated and required great amounts of work to revive it. Luckily, with his gathered army, Shayar was able to send workers to help plow fields and repair roads. Unfortunately however, many of the soldiers who had joined and were trained to fight the behemoths chose to remain as workers, and did not return to their military posts after helping to repair the countryside. This would be a common theme in the Silver Coast, as its inhabitants were less inclined to fight, and preferred the safety that common life provided. With such a small army, Shayar was not be able to protect his hold from gangs of bandits that would continue to plague the land. Lord Heza was killed in 171 while on route to the Ebonwood for a meeting, by a gang of bandits when his guards refused to comply with the robbers.
The next lord of the Silver Coast, Gaelin Moonda was a high elf from the Island of Nulme who traveled across the ocean to study at the Academy of Winterfall. During his time at the college he became a master of elemental magic and learned to be a great politician. His great work at the college had him serve as first an instructor for younger students and then as one of Lord Heza's court wizards. Finally he would be granted nobility and promoted to the position of a regional lord in the northern region of the Silver Coast. From a young age he set his ambitions high to become a Lord of Winterfall and he dedicated everything he did to this end goal. In the year 171 his ambition was reached when he was chosen as the third Lord of The Silver Coast. One of his first motions was to spread the knowledge of magic across the entire hold, establishing an organized Mages Guild, placing guild halls in each of the major cities of Arlenora, Silvermage, and Lorren. In the years to come, the guild would spread to many other locations including Airedale in the Ebonwood, all throughout Atlas, and even Dehn and The Pass.
Anec Noj who remained lord of Tandersun, was an ambitious man, and was still not satisfied with his accomplishments when the other lords gave up their rule. Anec planned to build one last temple, the largest one ever, in dedication to their goddess Dikenna. After four years of delayed construction due to various reasons, Tandersun ended up bankrupt due to borrowing money from other holds for the various projects.
Dehn became increasingly wealthy under the leadership of its new lord Arlen Balleth. She came from a small noble clan of horse riders whom she ran from to study at the Nadora School of the Sun. Her noble parents disowned her for joining the civilization their people were set against. Her background as well as her studiousness and innate wisdom made her the perfect student for Taira's advisor Vaenli Falmot who was the Grandmaster of the school. Arlen wanted to keep the peace and great advancements of Taira's reign, however at the same time desired to make a name for herself and in order to do this she knew she must take risks. Arlen Balleth The land of Dehn had been loaning money for to the hold Tandersun, and soon the debts were beyond reasonable payment. Lord Arlen did not believe that the hold ever intended to pay her back, so she sent an emissary with a single message, that Dehn would not lend a single gold piece until Lord obtained proof that they would or even could ever be paid back.
Under a lot of pressure from holds such as Dehn, The Silver Coast, and Atlas to pay off the hold's debt, Anec Noj thought of a solution. First, the land of Tandersun would be taken over by Dehn, but it will also have to take their debts. Atlas wanted a portion of land from Tandersun too, and accepted that as their payment. Lastly, Lord would pay a hefty sum of gold to the Silver Coast as their payment. In the year 151 Anec Noj willing gave up leadership of Tandersun. This brought the total number of holds from 9, to 8.
Afterwards, Arlen continued the construction of the Great Temple in the city Ale'ael, however in an attempt to unite the resisting Daeds, she rededicated the temple to the Horse Lord j'Harann. When the temple was completed in 159, the new citizens of Dehn praised her and gifted her a sacred artifact, Sunshard, the Light of The West. This enchanted sword motivated Arlen to establish a small army of her own, paying them incredibly well and securing their unwavering loyalty (161). With the continued development of the hold, many more settlers traveled from all over the world, particularly a significant amount of Etnali (LIFE) from the East, and the once farmland was quickly speckled with towns and growing cities. Around this time, the Ytheran's of the east had gained a significant control of the land, leading to the exodus of many Etnali, sailing up the Sapphire Sea and settling in the plains of Dehn. This population shift lasted nearly a decade, and resulted in the Etnali establishing a significant presence in the hold, growing even larger than the declining native Daeds who continued to become integrated to Winterfall society. During the years from 165 to 175, Arlen's personal taskforce of mercenaries performed expertly, keeping the peace between the different cultures.
In 176, when Atlas came under attack by behemoths and dragons, Arlen and her army marched to their aid, and although they lost control of the Spire, the army stopped any further damage to the hold. After Arlen helped slay the fierce behemoth, Thunderfoot, she asked lord Seir Zakaria for the return of the land given to Atlas in 151. The new lord was incredibly grateful to Lord Arlen for her help, and quickly agreed to the arrangements. Once again, the people of Dehn praised their lord for securing more land. With the hold becoming more diverse, Arlen was able to gain the different people's devotion by appointing advisors from each demographic.
Unfortunately for reasons unknown Lord Balleth was assassinated, poisoned during a celebration in 178. Qandar na Zanduq, an Etnali immigrant was chosen as the next lord of Dehn. He acted as a former professor at the Nadora School of the Sun and served as the Minister of Finance under Arlen. During his reign as lord, he greatly promoted the expansion of knowledge and personally invited students from all over Winterfall to study at the school. Early in his reign, the land was plagued with a several year long drought, including a lack of snow during the winters. (181-186) Water had to be purchased from other holds and transported long distances so the people could have water and plants could be grown. This drought made it nearly impossible to grow crops, halting the regular grain shipments from Dehn to the other holds. To solve this problem, Qandar gathered a team of engineers who dug large irrigation canals through the hills of north Dehn, from the mountains of the pass, to each of the major cities. After this spectacular feat of engineering, water was restored throughout the hold, however Qandar was not yet finished. Later, Qandar's engineers would construct massive siege weapons that could be used to defend themselves from the great behemoths. Additionally, Qandar dissolved Arlen's mercenary army in 187 after paying them to help in the construction of the irrigation channels. As a former minister of Finance, Qandar had a great concept of money, and so he favored the concept of a citizen army who they would not have to pay nearly as much, and so men were recruited from the hold to act as professional guards and soldiers. Qandar had the regional guards, hired by individual nobles replaced by his unified army in 188, which he hoped would lead to decreases in corruption and increase tax revenue. In the year 191, the army of Dehn used their huge ballista known as the Scorpion to defeat a sea behemoth that was attacking the fishing towns by the sea.
Stoneface Pass Edit
Orin Stoneface's grandson, who had been groomed to be lord, had his mind set on making The Pass into what it was truly meant to be, a stronghold for Dwarves. With the population of the Undergard cities expanding quicker than anywhere else, the cities had become a place of filth and corruption. To gain a better hold on the administration, in 150, Odum Stoneface first banned anyone but Dwarves from owning a house, shop, or even working inside the mountain. Many were forced out of their homes and thousands were displaced. This led to a mass exodus from the hold and surges in the populations of much larger neighboring holds Dehn and Atlas. Next, Odum greedily took advantage of traders and travelers, imposing a harsh tax on non-dwarven goods and people traveling through the mountains. This gave rise to a group of merchants forming the Trader's Guild in 156 to help deal with the harsh taxes. For a smaller cut in price, the guild helped merchants from all over transport their goods through the city, and often to their final destination. The guild quickly became incredibly wealthy, gaining influence throughout the major cities and trade routes. Around this time, a secret group of smugglers who dealt in particularly shifty or contraband goods also gained immense profits in the Pass. To deal with the Guild, Odum laid a slight tax on the leaders which at first they were furious about, however the guild still profited greatly during this time. Dealing with the secret faction however was a different story. Odum's advisors were set on rooting out the smugglers and did everything they could to stop them. This included setting up more guards and keeping an eye on they, but in addition, Odum laid traps to capture lower rank members who would often give up their bosses for their own freedom. After several of the high ranked officials were captured, tried, and executed, the faction became much better at maintaining secrecy and trust. Additionally, in the year 161, the faction of smugglers was named the Iron Brand.
With the Dwarven Stronghold, as it quickly became known as, in lock down, life was hard for even the Dwarves of the mountains. While the wealthy were able to flourish, many of the lower class workers, craftsmen, and merchants saw their businesses go down the drain. Heavy taxes cut into their profits, leading a massive economic gap as prices soared. During this time, a huge amount of lower class Dwarves including minor noble houses left the Stronghold for greener pastures in other holds. With the declined population, the amount of influence held by the Traders Guild and the Iron Brand increased tenfold. One of the largest contributing factors of the exodus was the lack of government efficiency, as the Lord stockpiled the holds gold in a vault deep underground, hidden even from the Dwarves of the Stoneface Pass.
By the year 187, 40 years into his reign, the second leader of the Stoneface Pass, Odum Stoneface, had taxed his people so much that they banded together in an attempt to overthrow him. This surprising notion scared all of the other leaders of Winterfall as they believed that they had been chosen by divine right for their position and could not be removed by ordinary people. After years of this harsh tax, many merchants refused to trade with the official companies of the dwarven stronghold The Stoneface Company, The Steelguard Army, and the Whitehammer Miners. This left the working dwarves of the mountain without food and much of the resources they needed to survive. Unhappy with how their leader treated them, the miners and crafters of the hold refused to work for no pay. The halted production caused a massive decline in the hold's income. Unwilling to meet the protestor's demands, Odum refused to step down from his position. Instead he called upon his army to attack the helpless citizens who simply desired a better quality of life. However the army general Bannek Honorhand refused to attack the people he was sworn to protect, and instead turned on Odum. After denouncing Odum publicly, he was forced into exile. They did not believe that he should be killed because the gods might seek revenge, however he would not be allowed in the Undergard ever again. After he saved the people of The Pass from doom, the army turned and knelt to Bannek, who they crowned as Lord of the Pass. However other political leaders, such as members of the Iron Brand, Traders Guild, Steelguard Army, and Whitehammer Miners wanted a say in who their next leader would be, and so they insisted on holding an election. Bannek knew that with all the powerful people fighting against his rule, it was only a matter of time until he was removed from Lordship, however he still wanted to do right by his people. Bannek quickly got to work, lowering taxes and breaking the Stoneface Company down to its smaller parts and granting ownership to several families who had been forced into poverty under Odum (Ironclad Clan). Additionally, he held a festival lasting several days, in an attempt to raise the spirits of his people. Finally he released large amounts of gold from the treasury to pay the people back for their suffering. However Bannek was only able to serve as lord for several months before the plots began to circulate about removing him from his position. Bannek liked being lord, but he liked his life more, and so Bannek agreed to give up Lordship and help facilitate an election, if he was able to remain on as the leader of the Dwarven forces. And so a vote ensued, and Bannek stood watch to make sure the people's choice actually ascended to the throne.
The woman who was elected to lead was a famous halfling merchant named Rolilee Rainsky some believe her influence with the Iron Brand helped her secure the position. In 189 she established the new hold of Whithorn. As promised, Lord Rainsky permanently lowered the immense tax on the dwarves as well as other merchants and travelers of other races. A majority of non-dwarves were able to recover their lost businesses and were even compensated for their troubles. She also allowed several registered families to return to their abandoned homes in Thel Throum, and in some cases, even kicked out dwarven families who had recently taken up residence in them. Everyone was happy with the changes Lord Rainsky implemented, however Bannek wanted to make sure they were here to stay, and so he convinced the Lord to cut her ties with the Iron Brand and other guilds in the Undergard. Rainsky was hesitant, but understood how it could be dangerous dealing with shifty characters. Instead of actively participating with these organizations, Lord Rainsky chose to let them conduct their business as if she was unaware, however many years later, the influence of the Iron Brand became too great, and Lord Rainsky and General Honorhand became concerned. What started as a collection of money making schemes, turned into violent gang fighting, countless cold blooded murders, and utter destruction of the inner workings of their city. Convinced by Bannek that it was their only option, Lord Rainsky made the decision to prosecute several high ranked officials of the Iron Brand, Stoneface Company, and Steelguard Army. When the groups' leaders were arrested, many others delivered threats and warnings to the lord and her court, however she would not back down. However after several other officials were killed, Rainsky was tired of dealing with attempts at her life, and the lord stepped down in the year of 214. The people of Whithorn were afraid of retaliation from The Iron Band and wanted to elect their candidate Horaec Darkriver as lord without a fight, however Bannek was not prepared to give up, and gathered his soldiers, formulating a plan. Bannek, the only contestant to run against Horaec lost by a small margin, however when time came for Horaec's ascension to the throne, the People's Army of Whithorn stood at the gates of the palace and refused to let him pass. A battle soon broke out between the Iron Brand and the People's Army, however the general had made preparations for such, and was able to surround the Iron Brand and rain arrows onto them, forcing them to retreat. Several high ranked officials were killed on both sides, however both Bannek and Horaec survived the fighting. When it was all over, Bannek placed himself on the throne and the Iron Brand returned to the shadows to lick their wounds. However this would not last long, as in the year 220, six years into Bannek's reign, he was brutally murdered along with his entire staff of advisors and several military officers. It was clear that the Iron Brand would do anything to secure power over the hold, and the People's Army, now leaderless disbanded and went into hiding. The new lord Horaec Darkriver raised taxes once again but did not put the dwarves in such hard times as Odum had. However the new lord did not use this new wealth for strengthening their cities or army. Instead it was stored in the coffers of the Iron Band. Because of this new wealth and the lack of willing recruits, the leaders of the Band decided to raise their own group of mercenaries from outside the hold. This new army of included half-men as well as humans, orcs, and elves. The Iron Brand used this army to 'guard' the Undergard, enacting a curfew, controlling trade routes, and influencing business. By the time Horaec realized he must join the south in the war against the Kearan Empire in 230, very few were willing to join his army by choice and he was forced to lead his medium sized army of mainly mercenaries to battle. During a major battle that turned the tides in favor of Winterfall, one of the mercenary generals Brum Crestbone murdered his lord Horaec, blaming it on the enemy and planned to return to Whithorn and claim lordship. However one loyal mercenary elf Tehlmir Ravarel had seen the act of treachery and had other plans.
Meanwhile the population of Cedia is steadily growing as orcs from the Isles to the west begin mass migration to the hold. Tales of the orcish haven spread throughout the land and soon the cities of Cedia were bursting at the seams, filled with orcs. This massive migration caused the non orcish citizens of Cedia to feel isolated, and lead to a large amount of humans, elves, and dwarves to emigrate from to various other holds of Winterfall. The large amount of archetypal orcs now living in Cedia led to the hold regressing to more of a classic Orcish country. Soon (211) a famous fight pit was established which brought even more powerful orcs and warriors trying to make a name for themselves. The first fight to occur in this arena was the current lord versus a well-known warrior from the Orcish Isles who Ulak hand selected. Lord Ulak the Gray was an old orc and wished to die an orcish death, in an arena, with honor. The warrior, Kraglam Ragearm made short work of the old orc, and as their culture dictates, he was granted lordship of Cedia. This notion frustrated many of the other lords who believed their positions were incredibly important and should not be granted simply for killing a man. However the lords were informed that Kraglam was chosen by Ulak to succeed him, and so the Lords chose to allow it and see what would happen. However under Kragelam's reign, many tribes began to revert back to old customs, replacing the lord through combat. Eventually this custom made its way up the ranks and over the next three years, the lordship passed from orc to orc seven times as each new lord fell to a stronger opponent in the arena. The hold's leadership was in shambles, and when orcish clans began raiding other holds, the other lords had had enough, and confronted the orcish nobles, just to find many of them were dead. While several older clans of Cedia natives agreed with the lords, they were severely outnumbered by the immigrants from the Isles and Orcs who felt like their culture was being attacked. After being confronted, the current lord Mazrol Ghorgak, a native of Cedia, was pressured into fighting back by the enraged orcs, while many of the older clans disagreed and sided with the other holds' leaders. When Mazrol Ghorgak refused to fight against the other holds, Wolfclaw, Gadakfang, Gorthaxe, Red Moon, and the Eternal Scar clans rose up, and began The Clash of The Clans (215) against the Skullfang, Gro'bashar, and Darkhammer Clans. While the older native clans initially seemed to be winning, the Skullfang clan betrayed their allies and their lord and turned to the other side, turning the war in favor of the new orcs. Marzol was furious with the traitors and when he realized they were losing, he called upon the other holds for assistance. He was answered with a small force consisting of the Order of Ryheus, the Circle of the Crystal Crown, and soldiers from the Ice Plains. With this new force, they were able to put down the rebellion and swiftly win the war. After the war, Mazrol Ghorgak abandoned their old orcish ways, insisting that Cedia was to be a more civilized hold and should hold themselves to higher standards. In addition, he punished the Skullfang clan for being traitors and abandoning their honor and homeland. Many of the leaders of the clan were executed, while even more members were exiled. As word spread back to the isles, different clans had vastly different opinions of Lord Ghorgak. While many people were still angry with how Cedia was run, others realized it was out of their control, and admired Ghorgak for his brutality against the traitors. This led to several of the more civilized and less bloodthirsty clans leaving the chaotic Orcish Isles, and heading to Cedia.
Ice Plains Edit
When Lord Baryn of the Ice Plains stepped down long with the other lords, he appointed his youngest high ranking general to take control of the military outpost. This human's name was Gerano Houst, a fantastic swordsman, but a less great tactician. Gerano was determined to defeat the beast that his predecessor was unable to defeat, and in 173 he called upon the armies of Winterfall to assist him in this mission, promising resources and precious materials in return. Most of the holds agreed to send some troops apart from the Stoneface Pass, who's leader needed to be persuaded to even allow the armies to travel through the Pass. However because of the elite force assembled, the combined army was able to take down the massive Frozen Man-Basher and access its lair looking for valuable treasures and metals. For several years following the defeat of the Frozen Man-Basher, the Ice Plains workers uncovered a large amount of precious metals. Due to this, many of soldiers did not return to their homes and stayed in hopes of making a small fortune for themselves. Additionally, this caused the once large army of the Ice Plains to dwindle in size, which Lord Houst was unable to recover during his reign. Additionally, a group of ex-soldiers found they could make more money by robbing workers and caravans throughout the hold. Knowing he needed to do something about it, Lord Houst chose to establish an elite force of soldiers known as the Winter Guardians. These soldiers originally served as an elite task force, hunting down known enemies of the state and serving them the cold justice of the north; death. After bringing down many criminals, many others were scared back into joining the army, or out of the hold all together. The force then grew and protected workers from bandits and beasts in the north, and allowed work to continue. At the ripe age of 76, Lord Houst passed away from natural causes and left leadership of the hold to his disciple, a half-elf Captain Galdyr Light (199). Under her rule the Winter Guardians established several forts throughout the Ice Plains and expanded their numbers to the thousands. However with more troops, they were unable to train add their status of elite and began to fall in numbers to beasts and bandits in the north. Additional rifts began to form within the Winter Guard and several hundred troops began following Captain Bartholomew Cross's almost insane dedication to the Goddess Dikenna, Lord of the Dragons, and hunted down criminals to burn them alive. However this soon went too far when Captain Cross's second in command began accusing members of the Winter Guard and killing them in a crazed frenzy. A battle broke out between the Guard and The Knights of the Cross, and when it began looking hopeless for the Guard, many of them switched sides, deserted, or surrendered. Unfortunately for the captives, they were burnt on a cross alongside their lord. In the year 212 Captain Cross crowned himself lord of The Ice Plains.
The second ruler of Valkar, Bryja Spring-Maiden was chosen during a large feast at the city of Varstead towards the end of the year 147. Here thousands of Nords from around the continent gathered to brawl for glory and honor, while political leaders discussed who would be their next Lord. A young female fighter emerges as an unlikely champion and is crowned Lord then and there. Once again, the major families of Valkar pledged their loyalty to the new lord.
Huge saber tooth tigers are attacking her village of Rakma repeatedly killing people and wreaking havoc. Turns out that the gods sent the tigers to challenge the kid to see if she was worthy. The kiddo hunts down the tigers and challenges the alpha inside of his cave. After a she kills the tiger, the other ones kind of just chill out and don't attack. One even follows her around and becomes her companion. The gods tell the kid that he should travel to City Name and fight in the tournament. The dude takes the pelt of the tiger and makes it into some sick ass armor that he wears to the tournament. She makes it surprisingly far in the tournament, but her last combatant is a half-giant nord, the clear favorite to win. With skill and a bit of divine inspiration, Bryja defeats the fighter to everyone's surprise. Word immediately spreads of her fulfilling the prophecy, defeating a giant (well close enough). The religious shamans and leaders accept the situation and crown Bryja as lord of Valkar.
During her rule Valkar remained strong, as the people spent more time fighting behemoths than each other. Clan leaders refrained from encroaching on each other's territory or getting into arguments, as they all vied for Bryja's hand in marriage and tried to prove their loyalty. Bryja avoided these courtships at all cost, afraid that taking a husband would make other leaders resent her. Instead she lived mainly a solitary life until the year 159 when she established a group of female warriors known as the Valkarian Spring Maiden. These fearless women were trained harder than anyone and were held to an impeccable standard of duty, honor, and celibacy. Each Spring Maiden promised to not have children until after their service, a term which usually lasted from age 18 to age 28. When the order first started, they were often joked about for being woman lovers, however the rest of Valkar soon recognized their efficiency when defending towns and villages from attack.
However in the year 168 Bryja fell terribly ill, unable to wake from a deep slumber. In her stead, a man of her court known as Kargun Alrenson took over control. The first thing he did was send away all Bryja's Spring Maiden on missions across Valkar. He then proceeded to replace several of the high ranking generals and advisors with close friends of his, and leaders of lesser clans. This offended the more powerful leaders, however they could not do anything to fight against them as their lord was still in danger. After Kargun and his counselors raised the taxes of the villages a massive amount, the other clan leaders gathered together to devise a plan to overthrow Kargun and place a rightful Lord on the throne. Kargun however soon discovered these conspirators and had them and several members of their family killed. One survivor, Luno, the 12 year old son of Vilnjar of the Vekel Clan, was able to escape the slaughter. Unable to turn to anyone, Luno traveled to the Ebonwood to speak with the lord and seek assistance. During his travels he met a young boy who called himself Amundi. The boy was also alone and the pair traveled together to meet with lord Sagemyre of the Ebonwood. When Luno explained his situation, Lord Sagemyre gave the two boys a group of one dozen archers to accompany them back to Varstead where they would confront the usurper. When they arrived, Kargun immediately seized the archers and the two young boys. However Amundi revealed himself as a powerful sorcerer and silenced Kargun and his company, allowing Luno to kill him and many of his followers. Then Amundi went to Bryja in her chambers and healed her of her sickness. The boy then disappeared forever and Bryja assumed control as lord of Valkar with Luno Little-Flame as her steward and heir. In the year 183 Luno Little-Flame became the next lord of Valkar and several years later Bryja died of natural causes.
By the time Lady Greenleaf transferred control of the Ebowood to her disciple Willow Sagemyre, the hold had become a completed different place. With the help of the willing tribes, several cities began to form within the dense forest. The hold had become overrun by the Wood elves, many of whom traveled from Nulme to escape the dragons. Willow Sagemyre had been just that, a poor young elf who was placed on a ship headed for Winterfall by her father, with no idea if it would ever arrive. Somehow the small boat was able to escape the island before going up in flames and make its way to a port in the Silver Coast. After years of begging and wandering the country, Willow ended up in the company of a group of rangers and known as the Bone Fiddle Band. As band traveled the Ebonwood thieving and playing music, Willow was trained to be a master rogue and an even better talker. Her adventures found her in the Lady's company, being sent on secret missions with several companions. After some time, Lady Greenleaf decided that the girl would become her disciple, and Willow was taken into the city Airedale and trained in the sophisticated ways of Lordship.
In the year 202, a behemoth emerged slowly from the swamps moaning and making massive amounts of noise, but not attacking anyone. After some exploring of this massive behemoth, many wise druids of the forest realized the beast was injured. They brought this information to the Lord Willow Sagemyre who insisted they leave it to die. Going behind her back, the powerful druids used their magic to heal the behemoth, believing it would not harm them. When the behemoth arose in a matter of months, it headed straight towards the sea, and although it did not attack anyone, it paid no attention to the trees and towns in its path. The massive swamp beast tore up entire tree-cities, harmed hundreds, and even killed several dozen who were unable to escape its path in time. However when the behemoth reached the sea, it swam several miles and simply floated there, creating a small island. Lord Sagemyre was furious with the druids who disobeyed her orders and helped the behemoth. As punishment, the druids were forced out of the hold, but they found a loophole, and traveled to the new island that would become their new home, naming it Tor Lumys. In the year 203, Lady Sagemyre was killed in an attack on the Citadel of Airedale during which several other nobles were killed. Some believed it to be enemies of the Bone Fiddle Band, however others believe the intentions were much more sinister. In short notice, one of Willow's companions, an elf from the Silver Coast named Huranil Traelorn. There were many rumors that Huranil was behind the assassination, as the famous swordsman was nowhere to be found during the attack. However there was no evidence supporting this, and as Huranil was a well-known noble and trusted leader, the Circle of the Crystal Crown, many of whom were his good friends, allowed him to ascend to the throne. The new lord used the attack and Lady Sagemyre's assassination as a reason to strengthen the military of the hold, as it previously had no standing army. After Lady Greenleaf was able to secure the loyalty of most tribes, they were forced to cease fighting with each other, however most of the soldiers were actually just hunters. Huranil enacted a plan of forced recruitment from each tribe, explaining to them that it was for the good of the hold to establish a professional army just as many other holds were doing. With this new army Huranil was able to also establish a large workforce that he used to build a road through the Ebonwood allowing easier passage through the hold in addition to other building projects such as bridges and towers. When the building was completed around 212 many of the soldiers were allowed to return home, but Huranil kept a force of a few thousand with him at the capital.