History of Reddown
This being a history of the nation of Reddown, and thus of all of the men of Ahlonia.

The First Era: Arrival

In the beginning the divhi Aliel shaped man from the clay of the earth, and there was a time immemorial before history or speech. No one remembers or recounts what caused the Raal to go to the homeland. Most historians agree that the Book of Ahlana, long lost to mankind, recounted the events that led the Raal to the endless forests. Few men have attempted to bridge the gap between this and the Book of Hanna in which men left their home for a new place. The first sure event in the history of the Ahlonian people is the departure of Shaenian and his kin from the Ancient Forest. They journeyed by boat, brutally wracked by storms and by the fury of the very Divh until they were wrecked, less than half the number who had set out, on Landfall. This occurred perhaps two or three decades before the year naught of Hanna’s Count, which marked the death of Shanien and the rise to power of his sons Galastry and Von. All that is known prior to the rise of these first two warlords is that a settlement was kept somewhere on Landfall, and Shanien’s first order upon landing and finding the new world amenable was to have his entire fleet of ships destroyed and all those who could navigate the seas cast into the ocean where they all drowned. It is only after the death of Shanien, however, that Ahlana, second oracle after the little-known Hanna, began to record her history on the tablets that formed the original Book of Ahlana.

Galastry and Von each took their warriors and made their way inland. Von found a land of deep, fertile valleys and Galastry found a broad lake and verdant flood-valleys, and both made new homes with their warriors and sent for their women. Leaving the sea, and wheresoever from whence they had come behind them the people left Landfall and went to their masters in their new homes. For a time things were good. The first settlements were raised, and the oracle Ahlana arose in the lands of Sherevon (vale of Von) and began to have visions. Priests who still remembered Hanna proclaimed Ahlana to be an Oracle, a vessel of Divine wisdom, and she saw the beginning of the world and understood the place of the Raed in it. And the Raed of Sherevon and Galastry rejoiced that they were the chosen of the divh, and the warlords Von and Galastry took for themselves the title Arl, and clad themselves in fine fur pelts and carried fine weapons, and gave generous gifts of land to their warriors, and their warriors ranged far and brought back livestock, and found what plants could be eaten, and what creatures were good to hunt, and made gifts of meat and honey and other strange delicacies in the halls of their Arls. Both Galastry and Von took wives from their people, and had strong sons. And then the Goblyns came. They were few at first but then more, and small battles broke out, but the Goblyns were weak and disparate, and no match for the two Arls or their warriors. And in time battles grew infrequent as the Goblyns grew wary, and in the natural course of things Von died, and then so did Galastry.

The Second Era: Siele Wars

Scholars learned in the readings of the Book of Ahlana and the tales of the Book of Algomar say that both Von and Galastry must have died sometime during the third decade of Hanna’s Count, and their heirs, the heir of Sherevon named Shane and the heir of Galastry called Galastry came to power within three winters of one another. It was in their reigns that the Raed ventured past the territory of the goblyns, into The Forest and met with the Siele. Fifty-eight years after the death of Shanien warriors under the banner of Arl Galastry met with a Siele hunting party, and slew them in battle somewhere in the Cloisters. This act of aggression, by whose volition history does not record, would beget the longest age of recorded history, a bloody and ruthless age of near ceaseless battle referred to as the Siele Wars. These wars would rage for close to seven centuries, and would form much of Ahlonia as it appears today.

Shane and Galastry both began the construction of great log fortresses at their capitols, and began a policy by which they spread their cultures by the building of these fortresses. First they secured the way between their two capitols. They would appoint an lieutenant and grant him the a section of land, to protect, govern and settle his family and followers on. He would then go out and build his own fortress, and then the Arl would appoint another lieutenant to control the next block of territory. In this fashion Galastry and Sherevon spread to occupy the two fertile basins, Sherevon in the northern plains and Galastry in Lake Dale’s flood-plains. All of this building and expansion, as well as running skirmishes with the Goblyns, began to be taxing upon the resources, especially lumber, and so the Arls met at Sherevon and set their sights on the forests in the east.

Lieutenants, who were becoming known as fortsteaders in Galastry, began to move to the east, leaving the land behind them to the sea from whence their parents came abandoned and empty of all but scattered war-torn Goblyn tribes. Galastry founded four new territories along the edge of Galastry and Sherevon based around the four largest keeps in the area. They lie deep in what, only a couple of years ago, were considered Siele territory. Maratham, Darrenshire, Kirshire and Shornfar spread all the way up to the sea, and each house a sizable portion of Galstry’s standing army. None of the original fortresses stood anywhere near where the modern versions do, but the western sections of the territory, narrow boarder slivers, had to be governed independently never the less. The closer the men came to the deep forest the more they encountered small parties of the Siele. Encounters were always violent, and many convoys of settlers and many logging camps, as well as a good number of small war parties were wiped out to a man by Siele ambushes. However for the most part the Siele, who generally moved in groups of seven or eight, were overcome by far greater human forces, or lured back to defensive lines and fortresses where they were driven away wounded or occasionally killed.
Becoming more and more confident, Galastry pushed his men into the cloisters and built hilltop fortresses throughout the bare-pated hills, overlooking valleys of dense virgin forest long since cut down. In 58 HC a groups of Arl Galastry’s warriors, commanded by his cousin Pune to establish a fortress somewhere around the far eastern point of Lake Dale were ambushed and slaughtered by a group of Siele. In response to the slaying of his kin Galastry immediately declared war against all of these creatures. He enlisted a huge army and marched on the site of Pune’s intended fortress, then systematically burned and leveled all of the forests for miles around and camped his army.

The Siele clearly took this to be a declaration of aggression from all men, because shortly after several war parties from Sherevon patrolling for Goblyns were ambushed and killed by Siele skirmishers. Galastry, camped at the heart of his great army, was slain by an unseen assailant and was quickly succeeded by his son, Simon who was present as one of his chief commanders. Simon and the new Arl Galastry and Shane, the now aging Arl of Sherevon met, this time at Galastry’s capitol at Proudmoore, and agreed to unite under a single banner of war in their attack on the Siele. In 60 HC scouts found the first of the great Siele towers at Tel-Celeste and a large army was massed and marched upon it. They find it slimly defended, and with Shane and Galastry at their head the army besieges the tower and ransacks it in the space of a few weeks. The retaliation involved the destruction of close to thirty boarder fortresses and the massacre of every man in them, with casualties that possibly exceeded five thousand, but still the Siele would not meet the Arl’s combined armies face to face. Meanwhile in Sherevon, appalled by the massacre of so many of their kin, the people rose up under a popular demagogue and Shane took a small portion of the army back to his capitol to assist his besieged son and heir Marn. The rebellion was quickly put down with a few executions, but Shane remained home to pass on the mantle of Arldom to Marn.

So in 61 HC, under the command of Arl Simon the combined army of Galastry and Sherevon, emboldened by the sacking of Tel-Celeste, pushed further east, marching through the fertile valley at the edge of the cloisters somewhere near where Marratharn now stands to where his scouts had identified a small Siele encampment. Here, for the first time ever, the forces of men met not a strike force but a full-force Siele army. Little record remains, but if what there is is to be believed then fire reigned from the sky, black ghosts emerged from the forests and disappeared again leaving trails of blood in their wake and the massed army of the Siele, with their mighty King and his war-sorcerors at it’s center killed indescribably and vengefully. Simon of Galastry died that day, but his standard bearer Daultin rallied the few remaining men of his guard, who were stationed at the rear of the battle, and withdrew. The withdrawing army was reduced to near to none, but finally it reached a fortress and took shelter. Daultin, still alive and now in command of the remains of Simon’s army proclaimed himself Simon of Galastry’s successor and Arl of Galastry.

There was utter chaos after this proclamation, and all kinds of men loosely related to the old Arl rose up. Galastry and its few surviving warriors plunged into civil war for the control of Proudmoore. Meanwhile, with the chaos in the south rendering Sherevon all but alone Marn of Sherevon made a decisive move. He arranged to meet with Dyurvar, the Goblyn leader of the large northern tribe known as Dyurvar’s Hammers and in 70 HC the two forces forged and alliance against the Siele. Then, with his remaining forces Marn marched south to Proudmoore and proclaimed his support of Daultin as Arl of Galastry. To cement his rule Daultin named the steadily growing settlement around his capitol after himself, and in order to ensure he could continue to maintain a level of peace and stability in Galastry, Marn changed the conditions of the lasting alliance of the men of the Isle. The Arls would now meet once every season to discuss matters of state, and would rule as one voice over a single united territory. In honour of the blood that forged the union the new land was called Reddown, thus in 71 HC Reddown became a single nation of men. In order to appease Daultin in this treaty Marn agreed that this meeting would occur at his co-ruler’s capitol, a concession he saw as minor, but one that would have far-reaching consequences. The goblyn Dyurvar was meanwhile admitted to the council, and with him he brought at least two-dozen other Goblyn chieftains, all willing to ally with the men against the Siele. Theologians and priests spoke out against alliance with the agents of the nemesis Ettin, but political necessity quickly won out over them.

Goblyn tactics worked well, the destruction of land as they went meant that the Siele never returned and had nowhere to hide were they to try to outflank the amries as they moved. Meanwhile Goblyns brought another factor to warfare; cavalry. Mounted on their painted steeds goblyns could actually equal the siele warriors for speed and maneuverability in their forest home. Goblyn mines brough iron for weapons and the men’s simple flint spears and their leather jerkins were quickly replaced with iron spears and brigandine. In an effort to establish some peaceful territory in 83 HC men from Sherevon and Galastry settled in the west and the unaligned townships there, which had spread steadily up and down the western coast, were united by Mourne Forthest, the official fortsteader of the holy-ground of Landfall, placed there a decade ago to protect the land for pilgrims and priests. Mourne met with the Arl’s council, and after careful consideration they grant Mourne Forthest an Arldom and a seat on the council. Mourne left the building of his fortress to his warchief Lander and he and his seer August concentrated on planning a series of townships along Landfall, and having men trained by their gobliyn allies in horsemanship and forging, however men would still not delve into mines. August himself planned a great temple to b built on landfall to honour the landing of the first Sarith Hanna, and the resting place of the second Sarith Ahlana.

Meanwhile men suffer a series of defeats in Darrenshire and Marratharn that force the forces of men onto the defensive against the Siele onslaught. Many fortresses simply vanish, swallowed up by the shadows in the night. While the west grows in prosperity and population the east is soaken in blood and decline. Men begin to flee the eastern encampments and religious zealots raise up great hordes of followers who are so appalled at the presence of Goblyns that they are driven out into the southern lands below Lake Dale from Sherevon and Galastry lead by the youthful and passionate zealot Vodon. Faced with these great exoduses in 90 HC the Arls meet and pass the Decree of Vagrancy outlawing the movement of any more subject people on pain of death, but amending it only a year later to legalize the movement of retired veterans into newly expanded settlements, naming them free men who could establish, not only fortresses but also farms. These farm steaders and fortress steaders became known simply as freemen steaders. Only a months after Daultin died, and his son Alastar of Daultin becomes Arl of Galastry.

In 91 HC Lander, war chief of Forthest marched against a massed group of vagrants with Vodon himself at its lead. Rather than a bloody massacre, as the result of some backroom treachery, Lander united his forces with those of Vodon, taking nearly all of the warriors in Forthest with him, and marched south, pushing through the southern borders of Forthest into the vagrant-townships of the south. Here this huge exodus met with the powerful leaders of the vagrant towns and in 92 HC, with the promise that vagrancy laws and goblyns being tolerated as citizens would be a thing of the past, the nation of Sigard was founded with the signing of the Ennis accord, and Lander crowned himself it’s King. The Arl’s council met, and Mourne himself rode south to offer Lander sanctioned Arldom over all of the lands he held and a seat on the council. The meeting was a peaceful one, though many expected Lander to kill Mourne, and the two parted as friends but with no agreement. Lander seemed willing to push for a reconciliation if Goblyns were restored to the status of enemies and vagrancy was abolished but the council couldn’t make these concessions. Vodon was in favor of total war however, even going so far as to propose an alliance with the Siele. In 98 HC Vodon took a party into the forest to parlay with the Siele forces. He was never seen again, apparently the Siele made no distinction between the men of the new Kingdom of Sigard and their enemies in the Arldoms. A brief movement to call Vodon the third Sarith was quickly put down in the Arldoms, and while it persisted in Sigard Lander officially spoke out against it.

By the centennial of the founding of the first Arldoms Reddown was in sorry shape, and only the presence of their Goblyn allies kept the race of men from being completely wiped from the Isle by the vengeful Siele. But, despite near constant warfare the Arldoms were growing, the nation of Sigard in the south, further from lands occupied by Siele or Goblyns had begun to look to the sea for their livelihood, though over the century’s absence from the sea men had forgotten much, and most of their skills at traversing the ocean were gone forever. Men prospered despite being set upon by the Siele, the fey folk simply could not kill quickly enough to keep the race of men from growing.

With so much religious controversy and so many priests delivering different messages to the people, and various religious leaders in various Arl’s pockets August received divine a inspiration. He initiated the unification of the faith. August brought all of the holy texts the people of the Isle had and brought them to Landfall where he and a council of learned priests and wise elders deliberated for close to three years. However when they were done they produced a translated copy of the Book of Ahlana, and the first two of what would be the three volume Book of Algomar. These they had carefully transcribed onto the walls of the great temple and priests began to embark upon pilgrimages from all over the Isle to study the new learning, even priests from Sigard came north, and August demanded that the Council granted all freemen pilgrims safe passage no matter what their political origins. In 114 HC the Council summoned August before them and voted him the position of High Prelate of the church of the Dioune and the power to structure the church as he saw fit. Three years later the church of the Dioune, based out of Landfall and adopting pilgrims as priests actually had some shape, though August would never see the church as anything but a small group of missionary priests he nevertheless demanded a seat on the council to oversee the spiritual concerns of the people, and with such popular support he was granted it. After his death in 127 HC he was immediately named the third earthly Sarith, and all earthly Sariths came to be called oracles.

Meanwhile war went poorly, and Marratharn and Darrenshire were both completely sacked for the first time in 129 HC, but were retaken thanks to Dyurvar’s Hammers, now Malag’s Hammers, massed offensive in the north of the Forest. In 131 HC for six months Daultin itself was surrounded by a Siele force, and while the Siele were too few to genuinely besiege the city treaties with the vagrant-towns of Sigard on the southern banks of Lake Dale had to be made to keep the people fed. This is the first time the council ever acknowledged Sigard as a nation and was a huge step for the fledgling land, especially since King Lander would die suddenly the next year. Without a ruler there was much discussion of who would be Lander’s heir, but eventually the Church of the Dioune was invited to send a prelate to act as mediator. They sent Prelate Vone, who would remain even after taking the conservative step of naming Lander’s son Gladian King, setting up a basilica at Ennis. He was proclaimed High Prelate of Sigard, and High Prelate Masarus, August’s successor, became High Prelate of Reddown. In the light of religious tumult, and in the interest of the popularity in military circles the Hammers and their elite cavalry were gaining in 175 HC the Goblyns were officially forgiven by the Church. They remained guilty of their service to Ettin, but any Goblyn could come to a priest to denounce their forefathers and be accepted. Still no Goblyn was welcome in places of worship.

Marratharn was retaken in 178 HC and Darrenshire in 181 and both fortresses were rebuilt a few dozen miles east of where they once stood to demonstrate the steady advance of men. Meanwhile Sigard had its first clash with the Siele in the southern cloisters, where five vagrant-towns were massacred in a single night. Gladian, struck by the confidence the Siele must have to make new enemies sent envoys to the Council proposing alliance, but they were executed upon their arrival in Daultin for treason. Tensions came to a head when in 190 HC Siele forces in Marratharn clashed with a force from Sigard patrolling a little too far north. As the Siele were driven back and vanished into the forests a patrol from Galastry fell upon the Sigard men and killed them. The King of Sigard spoke out against the attack but the Council endorsed the action as a defense of territory. For the first time a boarder was mapped between the two nations.

The war began to go well after the first sacking of Marratharn and Darrenshire, and the four boarder earldoms actually exceed the size of Galastry or Forthest. Meanwhile an inheritance debate in Sherevon results in the establishing of the lands of Marak and Barven in the northern wasteland territories of Sherevon. Barven sat neatly on the lands claimed by the Hammers and its ruler Barven Von refused to leave his uncle’s capitol or take charge of his new territory. Officially these are very very large steads, but even at their inception everyone on the council seems to realize that these will become official Arldoms. With this realization that a territory might gain independence Darrenshire returns its supplies to Galastry in 230 HC and demands independence. This is granted but the new land is not granted a place on the council. In 234 Kirshire followed suits, then in 236 Shornfar and finally in 241 Marratharn. Marak was the next to follow suit in 257 HC, but Barven remained merely a territory of Sherevon governed from Sherevon and essentially completely in goblyn hands. Goblyn tribes begin to settle the newly claimed eastern frontier, as their entire society mobalizes with their war parties. Six major tribes all form up just in advance of the four boarder forts of the council.

Concerned that the goblyns would settle territory bought with the blood of downsmen the council summoned its greatest generals, Avrin Galastry’s chief commanders, the three Tressilian brothers. In 267 HC they were given an enormous force and sent to develop a forward staging post behind the Siele lines. Initially suicidal, the Tressilians enlisted the Rotten Tusk tribe and marched on a small tower-city three weeks march past the current battle lines. They sacked the city in a lightning raid, by appearing to march upon Tal-Mieal, the seat of the Siele command and then deviating south at great speed. Specialists at siege warfare the Tressilians set up a fortress in the ruin of the tower-city and the Rotten Tusk quickly devastated the surrounding forests. By some miracle their force survived, and despite devastating Siele raids that wiped the Rotten Tusk completely from the history books the earthworks fortress of the Tressilians held against Siele assault, and continuing warfare on the boarder accompanied by an all-out push by the forces of the Council was a gambit that paid off. The Siele forces were now split in two by a Downer force that occupied lands all the way to modern Roen in the Tresser Veldt.

However the Siele did not let this go unanswered, and in 275 HC Siele assassins penetrated the fortresses of the four boarder-Earldoms and killed their Earls, only the line of Marratharn survived what came to be known as the night of the dull blades, and ballads still about telling of the brave final moments of the Earl of Marratharn as he gave his life smuggling his youngest son out of the fortress in a cradle through the fort’s sewerage outlet. Ernst, the infant of the tale, grew up weak and sickly, but became one of the most tenacious generals the Siele had faced since the days of Simon Galastry. Meanwhile the council convened to appoint new Earls of Shornfar, Darrenshire and Kirshire. A new statute is penned giving the council the right to appoint a new Earl should a dynasty fail, and the dull blade statute is written onto the walls of the council chamber, as well as the other statutes of Reddown, turning Proudmoore into something akin to a temple to the law. Consecrated and sanctified, the servants of Ettin are now completely unable to enter Proudmoore and thus the council is safe from assassination while in session.

Meantime in Sigard a fisherman who is either named Felx, Felc or Fec depending on the history you read, was swept wildly off course by a freak storm. Thought lost he returned to his home port six years later in 284 HC with a fantastic tale of a massive whirlpool at the end of the world, and an unspeakable monstrosity that lives at the world’s end that he made offering and prayer to which he calls Gunagha, though the name would later be adapted to Gruna. Completely mad with dehydration and starvation the miracle of his survival and eventual return lead many to the worship of this at-once benevolent and apocalyptically horrific quasi-deity, Goblyns too came to identify this new creature with one of their ancient deities; Cusanga, devourer of infant-flesh, however in the face of the brutal nature of the cult’s teachings and under pressure from Prelate Vone III King Drostish outlawed the Gunagites on pain of death. Vone III would later be named an oracle for his defence of the faith, and under the guidance of the twin faces of the Dioune he unified the faiths of Reddown and Sigard under the governance of a concil of Prelates at Landfall. By requiring all priests to make pilgrimage to Landfall before being initiated Vone III effectively ensured that there could be no war between the two nations, because Sigard would lose its priests, thus the last of the boarder skirmishes ceased.

By 300 HC the formative years of Reddown and Sigard were coming to a close, and even the foundations of what would one day become Highdunn had been laid in the Tresser Veldt. The essential structure of the Earl’s Council had been laid down, and the faith of the Dioune was slowly emerging. At about this time the Ancient Alaral of old had changed into the more familiar Trade-Tongue, though most writing of the time requires some degree of translatiuon. Surprisingly all this had been achieved through the sheer necessity of wartime, however in 308 HC the tide began to turn against the men. Desperate the Siele marshalled their forces, and abandoned the entire southern coast and the great tower-cities between the Earldoms and the Tressilian’s fortress. Thinking the battle won the Council founded two new Earldoms: Devvin and Halm, in the lands north of the cloisters. Halm sat on the southern edge of Lake Halm and the town of Devvinshire a few miles from the northern coast and Saedrik’s Gulf. Both were officially founded in 312 HC, though it was another ten years before the Earldoms themselves were established and dynasties were appointed there. The boarders of the Tresser Veldt were also established under the Earldom of the eldest Tressilian, Bram. To the south Sigard, spread too thin already, moved too slowly to take its patch of newly vacant land, and the Earl’s council promised it all to their Goblyn allies, and the Goblyns obligingly took over. Left with their ancient ancestral enemies now forming colonies on their boarders King David of Sigard was outraged and sent an envoy to the Earl’s council, but to no effect.

In 319 HC the Earl’s Council met with Raj’Pakar, leader of the newly founded Broken Hammers in a council of war. The bitter plague of 322 HC desimated human and Goblyn alike, but by 337 HC the population was recovering sufficiently to begin to form up for a final, decisive strike against the Siele. At the first battle of Shiel Mieal the men and Goblyns combined were said to drink rivers dry and their march was reputed to make the very earth shake. Even reliable records place the army’s number at close to one-hundred and thirty thousand warriors, representing the majority of the able bodied men in the Earldoms and all but token defence forces from the Goblyn tribes. However their push, while immense, was poorly planned. The Siele were not in full retreat, but rather regrouping, and a Siele army that had to be thousands strong, while only a minute fraction of the size of that of the Earl’s council, was formidable enough to leave more than two thirds of the attacking force dead on the field. Another disastrous rout was the last thing the Earls expected, and Halm, Davvin, Kirshire and Shornfar all experienced all out rebellion as crippled veterans returned home and turned demagogues. Only a third of a century after its peak the civilization of the Earldoms was beginning to descend into chaos.

As always Galastry and Sherevon remained the bastions of the Earldoms, and the great basilica at Landfall remained a repositary for knowledge that might have otherwise dwindled to nothing and thus Forthest joined the other two at the centre of Reddown’s culture, however even here dissenters and agitators began to spring up. Worse still vagrancy was rife as was brigandage, and more than half the Goblyn tribes resident in the Earldoms, sensing an end was near, decided to cut their losses and sieze territories off then men. They began raiding cities and settlements to gather goods for the anticipated Siele backlash. In 351 HC Daultin’s outer districts were looted and burned three times in a single summeronce by Goblyns and twice by insurrectionists. Many vagrants also sought refuge in Sigard, however rather than accept rebels with open arms the officials of Sigard merely enslaved them, still a far better fate than might have been expected from the Earls.

Records are patchy at best from the period between 350 and 570 HC when order was finally restored, but Sigard’s historians maintain a good record of the period, and indeed more activity probably took place in Sigard. With the Goblyns absent from their newly claimed territories around the Forest Bay the army of Sigard Marched, and for the first time in the history of the Isle a navy sailed out of Lierkist, then just a ship-builder’s town. In 347 HC the ‘first’ Goblyn Wars began, King Malcolm declaired war against the Goblyn nation of Talthak and pushed deep into their territory. Most of the Goblyns fled into the Earldoms or into the roughlands, and many tribes simply disintegrated.

In 352 HC Martel Baldardun, a Sigard navy veteran, commander of the first of three fleets made landing at Baldur’s bay from his base on David’s Isle, named for David II, current King of Sigard. He cut a large swarthe of land inside Goblyn territory in a similar fashion to the Tressilian Earls before him. Disinterested in governing colonies, David II simply granted Martel sovereignty over whatever he could hold, but insisted that his fleet be returned within ten years, and that a series of treaties be sugned between fledgling Highdunn, then called Baldurdunn, and Sigard. Martel clearly had his own ideas about the nature of the state, and proclaimed himself King of Baldurdunn, appointing all of the retired Veterans from his command who would settle under him as his noblemen, based loosely around the noble houses of Sigard.

By 355 HC King David’s forces had occupied all the goblyn territory up to the northern part of the Forest Bay. Here they found the intact Siele tower of Tel Celeste and while they were unable to find the entrance they built up a large military encampment there. Several Goblyn tribes banded together under the banner of the Talthakee nation ans stopped the Sigard advance there however, with a series of partially subterranien earthworks stretching along what is today the southern Tresser Veldt. The wars came to somewhat of a stalemate, though David remains fastidious about not commencing any aggression against those Goblyn tribes directly aligned with Reddown, particularly the Broken Hammers occupying the territory directly north of the disputed souther section of the forest. In 356 HC David died and his son Alan ascended to the throne.

Alan had been fascinated by the sea and by boats for all his life, serving in the third fleet in his younger days. He was also associated with the cult of Gruna in his youth, but no evidence ever surfaced. With this background Alan set Siagrd on a massive campaign of developing along the coast. He legalized endentured labour for failing to pay debts in order to increase the pool of slaves that a larger seafaring community would need as oarsmen and encouraged tiny fishing villiages developing along the southern coast, this was really the beginning of a sailor elite in Sigard that still endures. This wierd and seemingly arcane knowledge of maritime navigation caused ship’s captains to be regarded as sort of ocean-shaman, though the process had little to do with any kind of genuine magic. Alan’s reign was a relatively peaceful one, and with Reddown falling more and more into chaos Siagrd began to attract more and more vagrants and deserters, however Sigard didn’t have nearly the level of culture or industry that would be required to support this influx of population. Most people lived in mud huts, forged metal was totally foreign and flint tools didn’t allow for the mass agriculture that had begun to develop some fifty years earlier in Reddown.

Because literacy was rarer in Sigard than in Reddown, and unknown in Highdunn and the Veldt records are slim, and after Alan’s rule ended around in 390 HC only a name of his successor remains, that name is Markam, possibly the second Sigard King to bear the name. Evidently Sigard became too populous to continue to support itself and the social chaos that followed resulted in fishing villiages walling and isolating themselves against enormous bands of roving brigands. Markam tried to enforce a vagrancy law but his meagre army was overcome, and Ennis was taken by at least three brigand armies. Markam and his family were killed, ending the first line of Kings of Sigard, and the brigand armies set about looting and burning the city until they met at the ruined fortress of the King and began fighting one another. This social chaos likely also spilled over into Reddown as the ruling houses of Kirshire and Marak also disappear completely during this period.

Recorded history resumes in the Tresser Veldt around 421 HC when the Tressilians, dissatisfied with being excluded from Earl’s council, on which they had never held a seat despite the size of their armies, declared independence from Reddown. Reddown, in no position to stop them, accepted this without question. Meanwhile King Vander of Baldurdunn, great-grandson of Martel, desparate for allies against the goblyns and the few Siele who remained in their ancestral home, offered Earl Tressilian an alliance, a union they formalized in the summer of 423. Later in the same year the Veldt lost twelve minor outposts to the marauding Goblyn tribes in the east. A tribunal was held over the possibility of emulating the council and forming military alliances with the Goblyns, but exploratory diplomatic missions were mounted on spears, whether or not the Earl would have eventually agreed to an alliance remains dubious.

Somewhere around 462 HC Sigard managed to regain some semblance of order, a new royal family emerged and the capital moved to Lierkist out of the ruins of the former capitol. The new ruler is recorded as being King Bonder, and the rest of his line adopted Bonder as their family name. Bonder was probably the most powerful of the bandit lords who arose from the collapse round ther turn of the century but he seems to have been relatively successful as a King because he restored some degree of order promptly and violently to Sigard. Posibly conveniently, or possibly by sheer coincidence no records of any kind exist of Bonder until he appears in the record of his corination with the navy of Sigard at his back. Men at this point were still organized into little more than densely packed villages based around palisade fortifications, but Bonder seems to have managed to amalgamate Leirkist into something similar to a city, and this was the fundamental characteristic of his reign. He moved his capitol there in 467 HC and built a manor house on a sizable man-made hillock surrounded by three trenchwork bailrys. Plans still exist in the Royal vaults of Sigard, though the structure has been little more than dust for centuries. The tactical advantage of an island based settlement incorporating at least five different fishing villiages and the importance of fisheries and particularly of the salt gathered in the summer in Leirkist ment that the city grew wealthy fast.

In 475 HC a Siele fleet besieged Leirkist and Bonder was killed in the fighting. Any who didn’t escape the city were massacred, but the Siele warriors left as quickly as they had appeared on their sleek war vessles and so Leirkist was quickly re-occupied and equally quickly rebuilt. This would set Leirkist on a long path that would make it easily the most frequently sacked and rebuilt city on the Isle. Bonder was succeeded in 476 HC by his nephew Kalib who evidently murdered other claimants until the last few survivors went into hiding. He ruled for a mere six years before those driven into hiding became powerful enough to have him killed and the most powerful of the remaining heirs, Kalib’s cousin Barid took the throne. Barid was a military minded man, who thought that when it came to kingdoms bigger was better, and despite several devastating plagues possibly brought by rats aboard fishing vessles, and a number of exceptionally bad yealds from his few areas of farmland, Barid managed to raise a large semi-professional army. After a lengthy campaign in the north Barid ended his reign in possession of Daultin, which he used as a feald capitol, and where he met his death in 486 HC battling a large goblyn warparty which was probably acting on behalf of the Earl of Galastry in trying to retake the city.

Despite Baird’s death Daultin was held thanks to the efforts of his warmaster Caval, and back in Leirkist a few months later his widow received word of his passing and arranged for their son to take the throne. While the queen’s name is lost to history, as is Baird’s sons, the widowed Queen’s brother was called San. He spent three years as chief advisor to the youthful King, just long enough to make himself indispensable then he threw the King from the bluff around Leirkist and named himself King of Sigard. People were used to his orders so the transition was relatively painless except that he had to also have his sister killed, probably several months after his nephew. San ruled until 507 HC, and is generally remembered for building roads between the three major cities of Sigard: Ennis, Leirkist and Daultin.

San was succeeded by Dol, or possibly Doltrem, who was probably a direct descendant, but not immediate offspring of the King. His reign was marked by chaos and catastrophie. Plague, famine and the sacking of Ennis and Leirkist by Siele and Goblyn forces respectively in 520 and 523. Dol was eventually over thrown in the winter of 531, evidently already infected himself with the plague that had spread through his people. A powerful psalmnist named Maddil became ruler of Sigard, evidently with religious backing, and the natural disasters ended. People automatically became very interested in piety and a major religious reformation swept the landsmen of the Isle. Little is known of the settlement, but an establishment was made by which church and state become associated as governing bodies in the first such arrangement known to Ahlonia. Maddil also reformed the organization of the Church of the Dioune so as to ensure that low ranking holy-men were available to everyone in Sigard. However large tracts of territory were lost to Siele forces in the east. Maddil’s reign lasted until 566 HC and his succession was a tidy one, his son, also called Maddil, taking the throne at Leirkist instantly.

Maddil, son of Maddil further entrenched his potition at the head of Sigard by making all positions in the Church of the Dioune dynastic, passed down to the eldest child of the appropriate sex, and this doctrine would continue well into the fifth age. Maddil heavily fortified the city of Leirkist and built a large keep with stone foundations on an island, possibly the Isle of Spears. In 569 HC however, having evidently neglected the garrison at Daultin, the city fell to a mixed force of men and Goblyns under the command of Ardun Daultin, Earl of Galastry in a savage attack that lasted for several days. A loyalist priest based in Daultin, in seclusion throughout the latter part of Sigard’s occupation, named Osric took it upon himself to chronicle the latter part of the sixth century, and it is from his accounts that much of the current information on the two hundred year dark age previous comes from also. While his history has an extremely anecdotal quality, several important factual narratives can be established from his biographical works.

Where Ardun Daultin had come from, or how he came to lead an immense and seasoned returning army is unrecorded, but he evidently was accompanied by at least four other members of the Earl’s Council when he retook Daultin. Osric did not manage to gain entry to the early councils of war upon the Earl’s return, but was taken into the court as a scribe (likely to be one of perhaps half a dozen literate men in the Earldom) in 574, and information becomes clear from there on.

The returning Earls; Ardun Daultin, Dolric of Forthest, Ford of Marratharn and Damar of Barven made council together and outlined the state of the nation. Siele forces held territory all along the northern coast through Kirshire, Marak and Barven. The Council’s forces held Darrenshire keeps Marratharn and allied goblyns controlled most of Shornfar, but remained isolated there. Meanwhile much of central Sherevon and southern Forthest was occupied by goblyn tribes who had turned on their landsmen allies and seized territory for themselves, and these were locked in a bitter struggle with the armies of Sigard, who still controlled much of Southern Galastry. Maul Vaun, Earl of Sherevon held his ancient capitol against both Siele and Goblyn forces alternately and was in dire need of aid, and all contact with the Tresser Veldt had been lost, though judging by the split Siele deployment the Tressilian Earls still lived. The council concluded that it required a central leader, and as a result voted all Earls present the title Elector, including Earl Maul, in absentee. They then carved up the nation’s military between Galastry, Marratharn and Sherevon with Marratharn commanding the east, Galastry the center and Sherevon the north, the Electors voted Dolric of Forthest into the position of Chief Councillor and endowed him with the powers of the council for the period of his reign, at which point the electors were to vote whether to return power to the council or elect another Chief Councillor. The Goblyn Warlords Shahkhun and Pavan-Mal were then invited into the council as non-elector Earls. Osric either neglected to record their tribe’s names or else failed to understand the Goblyn tribal structure.

After this historic meeting people began to re-settle Daultin. Long gone were the arts of textiles or building, and Osric records the returning armies as being clad mostly in untanned furs and bearing weapons of wood and sharpened flint. Even the Earl of Galastry, resplendent in armour of tempered brass, had several parts of his attire replaced with crudely hardened leather, and his weapon was that of a Siele warrior, not the noble spear of his forefathers. The force’s heraldic banners were crudely scrawled over Siele pennants and the repairs to Daultin’s defences were performed with bound, bare logs rather than cut stone bricks and mortar. Famine swept the city again as the massive influx of population demolished the stockpiles and the ravaged farms around the city, their fallow fields forgotten, produced a poor yield, but the people had no choice but to bear it.

In 579 HC Ardun Daultin marched north at the head of a hastily resupplied army and liberated Sherevon, then brought Maul and his house guard back to Daultin, establishing a series of small fortified earthwork forts along the highway between the two cities. These he began stocking with food and weapons so as to quickly move between the two settlements, and also to defend the farmlands in the heart of Sherevon.

In 580 Maddil, son of Maddil was invited to Daultin where a treaty was signed whereby the two nations would put aside their differences in the interests of wiping out the Goblyn tribes in southern Forthest and northern Terr, and in a series of decisive battles this was achieved by 586 HC, however that same year Darrenshire fell to Siele forces, and at some point previous the goblyns occupying Shornfar must have done the same. Determined to breat the Siele offensive once and for all by overextending it, Dolric relcalled all of his forces from Marratharn and Kirshire, abandoning them to the Siele, but in 588 Dolric died, an old war wound finally catching up with him. The Elector Earls met and voted Maul Vaun Chief Councillor with a near unanimous decision, with only Ardun Daultin’s vote not in favour of the earl of Sherevon as the Earl of Galastry was absent with Pavan-Mal defending Middale against Siele gurillas.

In 590 HC the forces of the Goblyn Shahkhun betrayed the Earl of Sherevon during a battle at the far eastern reach of Lake Dale, but due to a tactical blunder on the Goblyn’s part, what could have been a catastrophic event that broke the back of landsman resistance of Ahlonia merely resulted in most of the warlord’s Goblyns stumbling blindly into a bog and drowning or deserting. The remains were wiped out by Maul’s rearguard, however this left only a single Goblyn tribe allied to the landsmen, and thus not only were their forces considerably depleted, but the miners, quarriers and brass-workers that were found only amongst the Goblyns were now even rarer and the technology at the disposal of the Earls was almost returned to that at the disposal of Galastry and Von when first they came to Reddown. Morn Forthest, successor to Doric, offered Pavan-Mal and his Goblyns a part of southern forthest on the most fertile plains in order to withdrawn them from battle and minimize their remaining number’s casualties. But Pavan-Mal refused to withdraw from the field of battle like a coward and marched to join Ford, Earl of Marratharn in Sherevon.

In 592 HC Ardun Daultin died somewhere in Marratharn the the hands of a Siele ambush, and his son Karn became Earl of Galastry. Later the same year the now venerable Maddil, son of Maddil was invited north to join the Earl’s council and plan for a decisive strike into the heart of Siele territory that would finally inflict a lasting defeat upon the Siele war effort. Using the coasting vessles of Sigard two large forces would move into the narrowest part of the Great Forest, amassing near Ennis, and also landing close to the site where Southaven now stands.These forces would move at speed to meet north of the Siele fortress of Eil-Sheire and push the Siele in the south northwards into a third army waiting in the southern cloisters. The strike had to be fast and decisive, and had to devastate enough Siele settlements and kill enough soldiers that it couyld be considered a decisive victory.

Maddil was tasked with garrisoning Ennis, while Maul Vaun would command the anvil force in the cloisters, and the hammer coming north from their landing over the forest bay would be jointly commanded by Ford Marratharn, Pavan-Mal and the inexperienced Karn Daultin. Grimly the council agreed on their plan, and assessed their expected losses, but all agreed that no matter what the cost they were doomed if they chose to simply sit and wait of the Siele to come and finish them in their own time, with the patience and precision bred by immortality. In 601 HC the council parted for what most expected to be the last time and Ford and Karn rode south to meet Maddil at Leirkist.

The Siele’s neglect of their rear seems to have caused this tactic to meet with resounding success, and despite the death of Ford Marratharn during the attack on Eil-Shere, Siele casualties numbered in the hundreds, a feat previously believed impossible. Ford was succeeded by his nephew Owen, and in honour of Karn Daultin’s returning with the body of their father bound to his back Owen agreed to marry Mave Daultin, sister of Karn. The earls of Galastry and Marratharn have periodically rewnewed this bond since, and have always remained closely allied. While it would be another century before the Siele wars ended the men of Reddown had won their first major victory of the war, and the Siele were finally forced to pull back in the face of their onslaught.

In 604 HC Maddil died, and his heirs were murdered, historians speculate, by Gruna-cult initiates, and King Lond was put on the throne. Lond of Sigard and Maul Vaun met to renew the peace accord that Reddown had maintained with Sigard, but negotiations broke down and ended with Lond narrowly escapiung Daultin, then bombarding te city from the sea for over a week, before reinforcements commanded by Owen Marratharn arrived and sunk the entire Lake Dale barge flotilla of Sigard. Lond seems to have somehow survived, but no accounts as to how exist. Possbly it is mere conjecture that he was even present.

Concerned that his allies were betraying him at an alarming rate, Maul Vaun sent the bulk of the Goblyns once commanded by Pavan-Mal, now succeeded by the Warlord Bukesh on a patrol that took them through Book’s Pass in the cloisters, and there he ambushed them and massacred the majority of the tribe some time in 609 HC. The rest were enslaved in a prison camp outside Daultin and used as labour repairing the city while the other landsmen slaves were pressganged into the army to fill the gap left by the Goblyns. Bukesh himself escaped the massacre and fled into the forest, but never resurfaced. Maul died in 610 and the council voted his son, the new Earl of Sherevon Kristin into the position of Chief Councillor. Kristin’s rule was a vital one, and he and Markam Daultin formed a close alliance despite their hereditary enmity, and pushed the war into the Siele heartland.

In 616 HC for the first time an army marched on Shiel Meial, the ancient Siele capital spoken of by scouts from the Tresser Veldt and Goblyn foresters. For the first time in decades contact was made with Veldt scouts who reported that their beleaguered nation still held, partially thanks to the offensive under Maul Vaun’s command, and partially thanks to an alliance formed with the fledgling kingdom of Highdunn. While the push never made it to Shiel Meial itself, it is reported that they came within sight of the great tower, which if reports of its sheer size are true places the force nearly a day and a half’s march from the tower of the Siele King. Even then the army was forced to withdraw due to heavy losses rather than totally wiped out as probing forces had been earlier. It was 623 HC before the forces returned home to heroic accolades. However, disgusted with the idea that mere losses could drive his armies away when victory must have been so close at hand, Kristin and Markam, in a move that demonstrated the tenacity and single-mindedness that would win the race of men the war less than eighty years hence, had their remaining commanders executed and then appointed a man to every cohort known as a Keeper. Keepers were the best equipped and trained men in their forces, and were present solely to wait until a cohort was in full retreat, and then execute the commander, and continue executions down the ranks until the retreat ceased. While a few of these men were murdered outright by their cohorts, after the culprits underwent some brutal executions including burnings and quarterings on the rack the Keepers began to prove very successful.

By 631 HC enough conscripts had been raised for another offensive, and this new force was stationed in Kirshire in preparation for a new push. The boarders were extended miles into the forest, and acres and acres of Siele woodland was burned just to house the force before it even began to march, and everything for a half day’s march around the camp was completely deforestsed. Enraged a small Siele force attacked under cover of night and was utterly wiped out to a man. Later a Siele scout became the first Siele prisoner taken in centuries. The scout was a woman warrior and either fascinated by her grace and beauty, or as a slap in the face of the Siele, Kristin Vaun took her as a mistress. She murdered him on their first night together despite an armed guard being present in the room, but could not overcome his bodyguard and was hacked to pieces. The council convened in an emergency session and unanimously voted Markam Daultin Chief Councillor.

In 634 HC Markam personally took command of the massive force in Kirshire and started his march on the Siele capital. The Keepers kept the force in unprescidented good order and they made exceptionally good time, but still the march of an army that size always takes time. Over the next few years several small skirmishes were fought. The Siele always endevored to break off a flank of the force and ambush it, but thanks to the size of the cohorts and their willingness to fight and die to the last man they were always able to be reinforced before the Siele were able to claim a significan victory. Still this characteristic battle of attrition with the occasional feat of titanic magical offence slowed Markam’s force and wittled it down slowly. Fewer battle magicians took the field and fewer and fewer massed Siele forces met the army head on, and Markam estimated that this was a sign that the Siele were weakening, and reserving their remaining forces.

In 639 HC, feeling like his position was a secure one, Markam moved to consolidate the territory he had gained, awarding an extension to the boarders of all of the four boarder Earldoms, and giving the Earls of Shornfar and Kirshire a mandate to found two new Earldoms from their own dynasties. Thus the Earldoms of Kordshire and Heliard were founded along the eastern boarders of Shornfar, Darrenshire and Kirshire. Here, in these heavily forestsed and battle torn Earldoms industry sprung up fast, and veterans were settled quickly to develop freeholds and supply the army. Markam erected a great new fortress, using quarried sandstone in the northern part of Heliard, which he dubbed Castle Daultin. He endevored to move the meeting place of the Council here, but was dissuaded from this new policy by the other Earls, who were concerned with putting all of their leaders so near an enemy that had proven both mobile and nefarious. This proved a wise decision as Markam Daultin was poisoned to death in 641 and his younger brother Henry became both Earl of Galastry and Chief Councillor.

Henry appointed a large group of commanders and gave them relative autonomy in their field command, and he remained in Daultin, cautious where Markam had been confident. The war waged on in a series of small battles, but Henry put some resources back into reconstructing Reddown’s ancient capitol, and had the Goblyn slaves still housed around the city put to work under the supervision of taskmasters and master builders cutting stone from the banks of Lake Dale and remaking his city in the image of Markam’s fortress, even fitting windows and walkways with ostentacious wrought-iron fittings. Henry also negotiated a push in conjunction with King Londar, son of King Lond, that pushed the Siele out of the southern part of the Forest right to where the Forest Way is now located, and renewed contact with the Kingdom of Highdunn, which now incorporated the Tresser Veldt. Henry’s men carefully pushed Londar and his personal guard to the fore of the battle where they murdered them, and Henry moved quickly to put a more favourable regime under Londar’s second cousin Barik on the throne in Sigard.

In 659 HC with the war going well, and the Earldoms of Kordshire and Heiliard were finally considered secure, and their dynasties had both succeeded, and with all of this momentum in his favour Henry grew ill and died, leaving the council to vote Oern Forthest Chief Councillor, and under Oern’s unprecedented rule the forty-seven year rule that the Siele wars finally saw their end. Oern was a careful planner, and began to have his commanders return to Daultin seasonally to review tactics. He did one thing that the Siele had not encountered in me before, Oern learned patience. Oern Forthest is also credited with the founding of the first warrior order of Koroth, who served as his personal guard, and with these men’s ability to invoke the blessings of their Warrior-Divhi in battle and Forthest’s willing to wait, consolidate his victories and watch his enemy, who by now were becoming desparate, rash and enraged. Over the next four decades a series of decisive battles under commanding Earls who were seasoned, professional and under a heavy hand, who had been at constant war all their lives, finally broke the back of the Siele war effort. Tower-cities began to fall one after another until only mighty Shiel Mieal, bastion of the Siele King, In 697 HC the armies of Reddown marched within view of the massive edifice, a stairway to the stars themselves and a weed sprouting into Bliss. From here they paiud for every step with blood and lives, but the Siele were slowly forced back, and the Earl’s council celebrated the turn of the century in the great hall of Castle Daultin, finally satisfied it was secure.

In 701 HC Shiel Mieal was finally besieged by a combined army from the Tresser Veldt and Reddown. Such were the generations of bitter hatred that the fighting was of a savagery never seen since even in the brutal giants of the east. Siele broke their swords and fought on with their bare hands, using the jagged ends of broken bones to impail their foes, but slowly they were forced back. Once at the walls the men of Reddown took to catapulting their own dead in gory projectiles over the walls, until the streets of the tower-city were so awash with rotting gore that the Siele sickened and died in their hundreds. Finally in a massive push over the walls of the tower, with wave after wave of men slaughtered so that the bodies of the dead could be used as a siege ramp, and under the fire of so many Siele arrows it is said the sun was blotted from the sky, the Siele-King Fieme was killed, and his sister the Siele Queen Amiaiele took command of the refugees and fled into the Roughlands. The Earl’s council rode into the ruins under heavy Koric Guard and planted the banner of the council formally on the shattered ruin that had been Shiel Mieal. Havran, Earl of Galastry took for himself the sword of the Siele King, and his fine Crown was awarded to the Chief Councillor, both as spoils of war, and as a new badge of office. For the first time the sun rose on an Ahlonia ruled by men, and men ruled by the Council. A council who stood up to their knees in the bloody remains of their enemies.

So ended the Second Era.

The Third Era: Indoctrination

With the Siele finally defeated it was now time to re-address the lay of power and of the land in Ahlonia. Much had changed, and the land looked nothing like it had before the conflict centuries earlier when just Sherevon and Galastry claimed small dominions surrounded by Goblyn tribes in the centre of Reddown. The lands of men dominated most of the Isle, and man was steadily discovering civilization, and men and their remaining Goblyn allies prospered and multiplied. The Siele had raised great mists with the last of their evil magiks to cover their retreat into the sea, but the Tresser Veldt and the Earldom of Heliard both abutted the ruins of Shiel Meial, though none dared claim this bloodied and haunted ruin. Oern died in 707 HC as one of the most celebrated heroes since Von and Galastry themselves, and was entoumbed in the foundations of a massive new basilica under construction on Landfall which would not be finished until 814 HC, but which was to house the first official organized priesthood ever in Ahlonia. Roven Daultin, former captain of the Koric guard at the fall of Shiel Meial was granted Earldom in Galastry so as to make a strong candidate for new Chief Councillor. A war hero, a religious zealot and a robust youth but one who was nevertheless willing to be counselled and guided by the Earls of Reddown, Roven invested himself in the building of an official structured faith in Ahlonia, with the compiled scriptures of the cathedral at Harkfal, which formed the core of the new basilica as the basis of a new structure for a united faith with a universal hierarchal one that took seats upon the council under his rule.

By 712 HC the missionaries who trained at Harkfal were all swearing an oath to the High Prelates, who in turn took an oath to the Council. The faith that had always been present in all the nations of Ahlonia was suddenly an agent of Reddown and the Council. While most people were tired of war, the Kings of Sigard remembered how vehemently they had supported the divh, and how passionately thjeir apostle-Kings had enforced the word of the divh, and their veneration and their laws, and they looked upon Reddown, with it’s countless Goblyn settlements all bowing before the council, the ancient enemies of the Divh, servants of the Giants, and they were sorely offended. And in 712 a man named Derian, a missionary from Harkfal holding the rank of Senior Brother in the Church of the Dioune, and freshly trained and zealous came south into Sigard and established a mission in the fledgeling settlement of Earbon under the direct command of the High Prelate Doern. Derian was met with outright hostility, people told him they could manage their own spiritual matters, but Derian persevered. Eventually, in order to prove his purity of intent to the people of Erabon he shaved his head bald, explaning to them that this would allow the divh to look down upon his thoughts, and inviting them to strike him down if he had any ill intent. After his elevation to oracledom some thirty years later this would become a church statute, and every initiate would be called to shave their heads.

Saitsfied with this act as proof of his holy mission the people of Earbon accepted him as their new spiritual guide. But now it seemed that the divh newfound access to the mind of Derian also allowed them to return thoughts as well as view them, because Derian was given his holy mission by Aliel and Koroth. They commanded that he see to the uniting of the faith under the banner of the Church of the Dioune that their teachings might be clear and of most benefit to their chosen people. Derian was at a loss for how to spread the faith when he was a lone man yet the amassed might of his entire order was making barely a mark upon the folk religions of the land, and in Sigard and Thairon the dire cult of Gruna was in danger of overshadowing the Dioune entirely. It was then that the divh granted him his gift of prophecy, and suddenly Senior Brother Derian needed only to gaze at the palms of a man to read his future. In this way the oracle could prove his divine providence, and not only that but he could gather around him all of those men who were fated to do great things and set them on the righteous path of the divh of men. Much of what exists at the very heart of the church today was born of the teachings of Oracle Derian and practices such as palmistry all emulate his early example.

By 717 HC Derian had left his mission at Erabon and begun moving theoughout the lands of Sigard seeking out those who would be instrumental in his holy quest. Meanwhile the Grand High Prelate Doern had already begun petitioning the elder brothers to consider Derian for elevation to oracledom. Roven of Galastry also petitioned in the young man’s favour, and even invited him to the summer court at Castle Daultin. Meanwhile at the same court settlements were being made over the new territory. In 721 HC negotiations with Highdunn broke down briefly and there was a swift, bloody battle over some territory in the northern Veldt, but thanks to the aid of Goblyn supporters the Earldoms quickly overcame their enemies, and war was never formally declared. By 723 boarders had been drawn up and decided by treaty, and several Goblyn tribes from the roughlands had been invited from their new incorporation into Highdunn, to instead emigrate to the eastern Earldoms. These are recorded as the Claw Rend, Lick Fang and Shattered Hill tribes.

In 730 HC Derian met the future King of Sigard; Marden Cordor, Baron of Ennis, and made such a good impression that in 734 when the Cordor dynasty first took the throne King Marden was persuaded to invite a High Prelate from Harkfal to come to Lierkist and administrate a new national faith. This would start a lengthy war with the cult of Gruna, which had become so wide spread as to be be unofficial faith of Sigard. The cult quickly became violent and several missionaries were put to death upon their arrival in their towns, but with the backing of the royal navy of Sigard these missionaries were forcibly implanted in the larger communities of Sigard. Feeling that the west no longer needed him, Derian took the perilous route through the forest into Highdunn to spread the word of the Dioune.

741 HC saw the death of the now venerable Roven Daultin, and after much discussion Marr Forthest was elected to the position of Chief Councillor, however dissent began when the Earl of Barven, Alam Barv pointed out that he had been absent during the vote and thus that he did not recognize the legitimacy of the Chief Councillor. There were a few brief battles fought along the southern boarders of Barven, especially with forces from Forthest and Sherevon, but eventually the Earl of Marak sided with Forthest, forcing Barven to choose between suceding from the council or ratifying its decision. The later decision was made in a meeting at Haimvere, and an accord signed that reinstated Barven’s counciliary powers in 746. The remainder of Marr Forthest’s reign continued the in mould that Roven Daultin had forged, with restoration and consolidation rampant. Marr brought numbers of Goblyns unprecedented in the Earldoms’ history into Reddown where they were used to prop up the failing work force as man restored its numbers after the tolls of the Siele Wars, and tried to populate Reddown’s newly won territories. Many were brought in as citizens, but most were enslaved in Highdunn and sold east to Reddown steaders and Earls.

Marr reigned in relative peace until jis passing in 776 HC. Forthest’s death was a sudden, unpredicted one and in a grab for power Moraan Daultin and his closest supporters Alric Marratharn and Dorn Marak declared war on the nation of Sigard, then in an emergency meeting of the council voted Moraan Chief Councillor and then immediately signed a peace treaty with Southaven’s emissary all within the space of an afternoon. There was dissent when the rest of the electors found out what had happened, but Alam Barven’s example only a generation ago taught them that it was the council’s law and not the individual’s influence that kept Reddown powerful. Moraan Daultin proved ambitious however, and ruled without consulting the council. He spoke of a new age where Rddown would be ruled by a King like it’s neighbours, and would be mightier for all its unity. Most of Reddown admired his open ambition for his nation’s might, and had he succeeded Moraan Daultin would have surely been one of the nations greatest heroes. However his ambition was too great and in 792 HC he was murdered by soldiers in the liveries of Sherevon and Shornhelm during a public speech at Harkfal. The murder was bold, blatant and designed to send a message. The council then hurriedly convened at Harkfal before a new Earl of Galastry could be names and abolished the position of Chief Councillor. After briefly considering striking Galastry from the council altogeather the earldom’s military presence won out, and as Travan, new Earl Galastry assembled his soldiers on his boarders the council stepped back, and invited him into their session.

Reddown saw in its eighth century by formalizing its conciliary charter, rearranging the council so that members from the loyalist Earldoms of Marratharn, Shornhelm, Darrenshire and Kirshire occupied a single seat on a rotating basis, and Kordshire and Heliard were given a single seat in a similar manner to make room for another representative from the Church of the Dioune, so that a priest for each face sat on the council, the the wisest and most learned steaders were invited to observe conciliary sessions, and speak if they were given the opportunity by majority vote. This newer, friendlier council seemed like a step forward towards the ideal nation state, and there was rejoicing in the streets, and the names of the Earls wre scrawled on walls else uttered in prayer all over Reddown.

The first fifty years of the ninth century HC were spent in rebuilding and repopulating in peacetime, a relative novelty to the people of Ahlonia after nearly fhalf a millennia of war against the Siele. Goblyns and freed serfs flowed into the richer nations of the west from Highdunn and the Tresser Veldt where life was still a daily struggle and food remained scarce. Those who could legally do so came to Reddown and brought with them their goods and their skills. Goblyn communities became especially common throughout Shornhelm, Kordshire, Heliard and Darrenshire, and cities like Daultin, Barvenham and Sherevon all had populous Goblyn quarters, where the creatures were very much second class citizens, but citizens none the less. Some of the most influential were even allowed to keep human slaves in extreme circumstances of debt.

In 843 HC a plague called the Chill Death emerged somewhere in northern Sigard, and spread unlike anything Ahlonia had seen before. Within a year it had spread to all of the settlements in the cloisters, and by 845 an estimated twenty percent of the population of Sigard and Reddown had been killed by the plague. By 846 this had doubled to forty percent, the miraculously a Sister of Aliel from a monestary outside Trelldale discovered a cure, and within a couple of months the Chill Death had vanished entirely from the face of Ahlonia. However the Goblyn population of Reddown seemed immune to the horrible plague, and while the men of the isle, their numbers only just beginning to restore, were reduced to even fewer than there had been at the close of the Siele wars, the Goblyn quarters of the townships and villiages were packed to capacity, and their economies were rampant.

In 867 HC Goblyns actually petitioned the Council for a Goblyn seat to represent their interests, but the High Prelates insisted that the Goblyns not be able to even speak to the council, and the Earl of Forthest backed them, and had the Goblyns removed from Castle Proudmoore. In the same year the council signs a treaty with Sigard, trading the lands on the southern banks of Lake Dale for a large swarthe of the newly conquered southern forest. Here Sherevon, Marak and Galastry start to relocate some of their resident Goblyns, nervous about the large populations in their Earldoms. Winter of 871 HC in these new colonies saw the first appearance of dread Ghielvedrien the greatest and first of the Siele manhunters and his band of grim, vengeance fuelled Siele warriors.

With no more war and no more enemies, the economies of Highdunn and Reddown both began to suffer. So much wartime had led to industries that had now completely frozen. Meanwhile in Sigard experimentation with currency and independent merchant companies were beginning to develop, and these economic advances were beginning to catapult Sigard into a position of dominance over the other nations of Ahlonia. Even in Kordshire and Heliard where the spoils of war were rich people suffered. Thanks to the takings from the Siele all going to the coffers of the victors the poor got poorer and the Earls got richer, and with Goblyn labour and slaves being employed to rebuild the damaged towns and cities and human populations so low that every stead in the Earldoms was wasting a good portion of each year’s crop that they couldn’t trade. Tension built while serfs starved, and many men strived to become indebted to their Earl, because at least slaves were being fed.

In 881 HC to make tensions worse, soldiers from the Tresser Veldt seized the southern hallf of Kordshire and withing eight months they had erected a series of extremely advanced palisade forts along the new boarder. The Earl of Kordshire Warrn Kord appealed to the Council, and Earl Damon Vaun of Sherevon accompanied him on a diplomatic mission to these new fortresses, however the King of Highdunn refused to meet with them. Sedric Earl of Roan eventually met with the encamped Earls under the banner of truce but refused return of even a portion of the newly conquered territory. Without the mandate of the Council only Kordshire could officially go to war, and with the military reputation already developing around the Earls of the Veldt, and the superior position that their fortresses gave them this would be almost impossible. The two Earls returned to the Council, but Reddown proved reluctant to go to war again, and so ceded the land to Highdunn in return for a guarantee upon their boarders henceforth.

Furious at this outcome Warrn Kord murdered Damon Vaun during a session of the Council in 888 HC and was himself executed on the spot. After lengthy consideration his family were also imprisoned and executed and Damon Vaun’s heir Arik was given the right to renew the dynasty in Kordshire. Arik married his eldest sister to the most powerful steader in Sherevon, a man called Boric Kamar, and then sent them to take the role of Earl of Kordshire with a considerable armed force in case the Earldom’s garrison weren’t happy to accept them. No record of any conflict during this ascention except the necessary execution of the Kord family’s senior retainers seems to exist.

In 897 HC, just over ten years after agreeing their boarders King Carcullin Baldurin of Highdunn led a sizable force west into Marratharn, while the Earls of the Tresser Veldt marched into Eastern Sigard. Here he met a considerably larger military force than they had in Kordshire, and met with only limited success against in infrastructure that had been created over centuries of wartime, but territory was carved clear, and the invading forces founded a sizable new settlement for their commanders in the north of Sigard where the forests ended, and named it Kingcarrow. In 892 King Mourn Cordor met with Sean Daultin and Bord Forthest, Earls of Galastry and Forthest, and the two nations forged a pact to drive the invading Highdunners from their collected lands, however against the expert fortifications of the Tresser Veldt forces both nations were reluctant to commit large forces. Instead in 894 large ships from Siagrd blockaded Thairon, and bombarded Highdunn’s capitol, reducing the royal palace and the King’s family in it to a flaming husk.

In 897 HC representatives from the three nations met and could not come to any agreement, but agreed to cease aggression for a five year period with the boarders remaining as they stood, but five years later almost to the day, in a movement to eliminate the aging and heirless King of Highdunn the combined forces of Sigard and Reddown declaired war on the nation of Highdunn and marched the full forces they could muster east. This act officially ended the Third Era.

The Fourth Era: Goblyn Wars

The war between the east and the west of Ahlonia, one in which all the nations of men participated, would begin the era known today as The Goblyn Wars, though few saw that this is where it would lead then. While all of the nations of Ahlonia had been battered by war for a long time and mans back was broken from centuries of conflict only half a dozen generations ago war was still joined. Over the next eight years Highdunn and Reddown fought a number of pitched battles along the boarders of Kordshire and Marratharn while Sigard pounded the defenceless southern coast of Highdunn with their siege flotillas. However the men of Highdunn merely abandoned their seaside homes and fled further inland where battle with the home guard levied in Highdunn would decimate the lightly equipped ranks of the sailors.

In 911 HC however the Goblyns of Reddown took the field. Most Earldoms had been happy to keep the Goblyn tribes out of the confliuct, because their professional elite soldiers required paying, but the sheer manpower Highdunn could bring to bear necessitated their fielding. In a series of lightning battles the Earldom’s armies mobalized, cut deep into the shoulder of the Tresser Veldt and blockaded everything from the Rotharian Vale east. The blockade of Highdunn’s eastern frontier and its southern coast continued for close to seventeen years with goods being smuggled in an out of the forts along the Kordshire boarder by corrupt soldiers willing to sell their alleigences for Highdunn goods.

By 928 HC things had come to a head, and Martin Baldruin agreed to give up all he had taken from Kordshire and Marratharn, and a good portion of the lands his ancestors had taken after the Siele Wars in return for peace. Nobody expected this to be the end, but all sides were too eager to lick their wounds to keep fighting. The church fought to broker a lasting peace, citing a unified faith as a call for a unified state, but only the most radical were prepared to discuss such a doctrine. The peace held, and the Earldoms began to post permanent garrisons in theor new territory, primarily achieved by relocating Goblyn tribes in the hope that when their homes were threatened the soldiers could be more easily persuaded to fight. The Earls also started to employ their own professional soldiers, and up to a fifth of the forces fielded henceforth were composed on one professional soldier for every four conscripts.

By 956 HC when boarder skirmishes once again resumed all forces involved had considerably larger forces, and the drilled conscripts of Highdunn were no match for the slave cohorts and elite guard of Reddown’s army, spurred forward by its ruthless Keepers and with the warriors of the church at its heart. Sigard kept itself neutral this time, Highdunn remained too afraid of the power of Sigard’s ships, and paid considerable tribute to King Jarod to keep his forces out of this new spate of aggression. However despite a smattering of truly grim battles little territory really changed hands, and Highdunn sustained loss after loss as the held grimply onto their boarders in the expertly built fortresses along thBaldurin e boarders of the Tresser Veldt. 962 saw an end to the conflict again, but this time the Council demanded heavy reparations in iron and cut stone from Highdunn. Shortly after this with their newfound prosperity in 968 HC the Earls of Reddown introduced currency to the nation and began circulating it amongst their servants and retainers. Merchant caravans quickly picked up coin for goods as a system and the early coins, small crude discs with a hole punched in theor centres, began to be worn by the wealthier members of society, most commonly on a cord around the right wrist or neck.

The close of the century saw Highdunn stop paying its reparations, however the council had no desire to pursue further conflict. Their new territories had resources to exploit. In 978 HC Evanshir was founded under the rule of Marvin Forthest, younger brother to the reigning Earl and formerly a missionary, who was immediately married to Reeda Vaun, the widowed elder sister of Earl Martin of Sherevon. Plans were made to build a capital somewhere along boarder with the Tresser Veldt, but three eattempts to erect a small fortress were raided by parties of roughland Goblyns and the workmen massacred. Marvin, ruling in absentee from Daultin, accused the Earls of the Tresser Veldt of orchestrating the raids, and they in return refused to make any official comment. However with no troops currently under his command, very few citizens from whom to levy an army, and no backing from the council he was unable to pursue such accusations, however the Earl of Forthest did commit a full half of his own bodyguard to his brother in order for him to be able to visit his new domain, and the Goblyns chieftain Mokkab Bushla of the band of the Killing Fang offered the protection of his tribe to the young Earl on the condition that they be allowed to found their own settlement in his lands, promising to even quarry stone should the Earl of Evanshir desire a keep of granite rather than of bound logs and earthworks.

The turn of the century saw the foundations erected and Marvin’s first son born, the dynasty was assured and the security of the already growing settlement named Marvinstown was growing by the day as Forthest guardsmen and Goblyn riders patrolled the wooden watchtowers erected to watch over the keep. The Millenial celebration of the arrival upon Landfall was actually forgotten and celebrated belatedly in 1,002 HC when a scholar discovered an oversight in several histories around the year 102 when as much as seven years had been lost from the modern calander. The celebrations on both a religious and national level were continent wide and even the Goblyns were coaxed to celebrate the arrival of their landsmen masters In a full week long festival of feasting and religious ceremony and veneration of all of the great ancestors. The Earls of Reddown all gathered together and erected a massive series of stone tablets at the mouth of the harbour at Daultin bearing engravings of their entire noble lineages to confirm their descent by right from the founding fathers of all Ahlonia. Two truly massive carvings depicting Aliel and Koroth, each with hands outstretched were erected palm to palm over the gates of Forthest, said to have been a full six storeys tall, though these wonders have long since decayed to nothing.

Quarries dried up and work on Marvenstown stopped. Earl Marvin made ready to return to Daultin until his fortress could be completed, but he never arrived. Now it is almost certain that Mokkab Bushla was responsible for his death, possibly in the totally literal sense, but at the time Roven Forthest blamed agents of Loric Baldurun. The King of Highdunn completely denied, but pride stopped him from denying the claim, rather honour dictated that he reply to such an accusation with blunt force. He marched with a large force to the boarder and Roven Forthest did likewise. Both armies camped within sight of one another over a broad battlefield that dated back to the later Siele wars, however neither side seemed willing to make the first attack, and only small expeditions of exploratory forces clashed with one another between the two greater forces, meanwhile Martin Vaun rose south with his own force to try to decompress the situation.

In 1,012 HC however the situation dramatically changed. Under the direct command of Mokkab Bushla hidden cells of Goblyn warriors hidden inside mines throughtout all of Reddown rose up to the surface and attacked the landsmen around them with such speed and ferocity that the Goblyn forces were mobile and building fortifications on strong points before many people even knew anything had happened. More numerous than the race of men had conceived in even their most wild fantasies based upon their tiny above-ground colonies, the Goblyns overran everything they fell upon in mere months, and soon there was nowhere that wasn’t under threat by their number, save Sigard where their kind were outlawed, and there the boarders were hard pressed by raiders. Bushla relocated his capital to an immense fortress he had been secretly building with Earl Marvin’s resources a dozen leagues from Marvinstown, linked to their dummy site by a series of tunnels. Known as Cravenrock by the men later in the war, as a sort of derogatory reference the Goblyns quickly and zealously adopted this name, which the great fortress stil bears. Meanwhile the Earl of Barven was cast out of his own castle by an oppertunistic serf uprising which appeared throughout Barven once news of the Goblyn rising reached the serfs. They rose up and massacred their steader overlords before themselves falling victim to Goblyn raiders who they had assumed would ally with them. The Earl himself fled to Marak where his cousin opened his home to him, then the two were almost instantly besieged in the Earl of Marak’s keep, and completely cut off from the rest of Reddown.

In 1,014 HC when they had finally realized the extent of the Goblyn’s deception the Earls of Sherevon and Forthest met with the King of Highdunn where their armies were camped while the remaining members of the council met with emissaries from Sigard at Daultin under the supervision of Arik Daultin, the brother in law of the previous Earl who had succeeded him and taken on the ancestral name. Once intelligence was finally gathered together the council realized that the Earldoms of Heliard, Kordshire and Evanshir were completely overrun by Goblyn forces and all the landsmen there had been put to death. Small parties of wounded refugees were trickling into Marratharn and Darrenshire but here they found little shelter except in the shadow of these Earldom’s ancient fortresses, which became immense and squalid camps for survivors. Cities held, but many were either regularly raided or openly besieged, but without the propensity for siege warfare the Goblyns quickly gave up on those places they could not take by blunt force and instead abandoned strongholds like cities and fortresses in favour of ravaging the settlements that provided raw materials to these urban and military centres.

Fighting was fierce and widespread, but on the part of the men completely reactionary, no orders were being issued and the council, trapped between Marak, Daultin, and a battleground somewhere on the Highdunn boarder had issued no orders nor mobalized any troops. Centres gradually ran out of raw materials, and finally when they could no longer endure the Earls were forced into individual action. Highdunn, without it’s King, and similarly overrun was similarly frozen, their stockpiles were even lower than those of Reddown and people starved by the hundreds or else refugees fled the safety of fortified centres where they were massacred by raiders. Meanwhile Sigard stood strong. Its boarders breached constantly like a sieve trying to hold water, the initial surprise uprising that had given the Goblyns such advantage had left Sigard unscarred, and the raiders could do nothing but burn a few farms and flee the defenders when they arrived. Upon the return of his emissaries King Ronal of Sigard marched a large force north and escorted the King of Highdunn and the Earls of Sherevon and Forthest back to Ennis to form a council of war. The Earl’s council, condoning this plan, handed command of all their available forces and the right to speak for the concil to Martin Forthest, a seasoned warrior and a veteran of the wars with Highdunn. This newly assembled force now constituted the ‘rulers’ of all three nations of Ahlonia. They assessed the forces each could bring to bear over the next year and a half, and then finally in 1,018 after a few exploratory battles to gauge the nature of the Goblyn organization they officially declared war against every Goblyn on Ahlonia, regardless of alleigence.

What would come to be known as the Twenty Year War was easily as ferocious as the Siele war. Both sides fought for survival, so torn and battered by constant warfare were the landsmen that were they to fail it could mean utter extinction, but so disparate were the Goblyns that conquest would mean that the race of men could systematically isolate and wipe them out over a matter of mere decades.

The forces of the landsmen in Sigard quickly dubbed themselves the ‘Three Nation Army’ and with equal decisive haste decided that such a large force would require secure supply lines. To this end their first task was to totally secure inland Sigard. A good portion of the populace was conscripted and slave levies were raised and put under the command of veterans at strategic locations, trained carefully to repel the Goblyns and to stop raiders by targeting the Goblyn’s greatest tactical advantage; their horses. Within five seasons Sigard was secure enough for the army to move. The forces were split in two with the King of Highdunn marching for Maethas and the Earl of Sherevon doing likewise for Daultin. The King of Sigard and Earl of Forthest meanwhile stayed to hold Sigard and the supply lines to the two fielded forces. After only a few battles the Goblyns proved that they could not hold a strong point against the men, but nor could the men catch them when they were broken, and so the war waged with the men assaulting the Goblyn camps, a few token casualties being taken and the Goblyns fleeing to a new strong point, where things would start again until one side or another was wittled to nothing. At some stage Ronal Lander of Sigard also stood down in favour of his youger and more vital son Henry. Apparrently a favourite of the people, soldiers flocked to Henry’s banner.

Records of the war itself are vague and contradictory except for a few major pitched battled recorded by the official scribe of Henry Lander, but what is apparent is that the general pattern was a slow and costly advance by the three nations against a far superior but completely disorganized force. Eventually the Goblyns were forced back into the forests where their mined strongholds were located and the greater part of their forces were housed, and also where strong personalities like Mokkab Bushla and Vachak Taar who could mobalize large united groups of Goblyns were based. Battles like the siege of the mines at Dainhold and the Battle Kemmer Field have proved invaluable in the annals of military history. Eventually the battle lines were clearly established along the edges of the forest, much as they had been over three centuries ago during the Siele Wars, with the Goblyns occupying the Earldoms of Marratharn, Darrenshire, Kirshire, Shornfar, Heliard, Kordshire, Evanshir and Tirests as well as the majority of northern Highdunn and the entirety of the Roughlands region right down to modern Nashby, then merely an outpost. With less territory and fewer numbers, completely outdone on land, only the Navy of Sigard, now under the personal command of Henry Lander gave the Three Nations any kind of advantage.

In dire need of decisive action before the Goblyn numbers allowed them to mobalize a coup de grace the leaders of the Three Nations met in Barvenham, finally liberating the city from rebels and deserters, and under the supervision of at least half the Sigard navy. Here they established a capital, much to the chagrin of Loric Baldurinn, who feared his kingdom would fall without his knowledge, and began planning a decisive action similar to that used against the Siele, a spearhead strike to their centre. Under torture Goblyn prisoners revealed the location of the mountain fastness of the Goblyn Warlord Vaschak Taar, who by this point may have murdered Mokkab Bushla, though Bushla is also thought to have died at the battle of Kenner Field where he was definitely present and severely wounded. The base of operations was a mine-cum-fortress on the shore of a Lake on the boarder of Heliard and Evanshir which the rulers of the landsmen began referring to as Cravenrock. They hoped that a siege of Cravenrock would break the back of Goblyn unity and drive them into hiding, thus securing the heartland of their territory outside of their Roughland homes.

In 1,035 they marched from Barvenham, cutting through Shornfar and regarrisoning it’s keep, keeping to the cover of the coast where their supply lines were secure, and meeting victory after victory over the scattered Goblyn war parties. Some time late in 1,036 they Three Nation Army was forced inland to reach it’s target, and split into three, with the Sigardian force travelling by sea so as to approach from the north, the Highdunn force making haste south to meet with forces from the Veldt and come from the south-east and the larger combined force under Martin Forthest to make the frontal assault from the west. On a rainy day in early winter the three forces met at Cravenrock and battle was joined, but the Goblyns did not come up and fight, merely made raids out of their countless hidden tunnels and mines that led back to Cravenrock, collapsing the tunnels behind them as they retreated. The Three Nations besieged them for close to four months, but forces kept escaping somehow. With the battle not going as decisively, and above all far too slowly the Kings of Highdunn and Sigard retreated to Barvenham, leaving Matrin Forthest in full command of the bulk of the forces at Cravenrock, and began to raise forces to regarrison the territories they had taken. With them gone a massive force of Goblyns flanked the Three Nation Army at Cravenrock and annhialated them completely, but Taar had mobalized too late, and missed two of his three targets, and he could not raise his forces, exhaultant in victory, quickly enough to pursue. Henry Lander and Loric Baldur reached Fort Shorn scarcely a day ahead of their pursuers, and Taar made the mistake of attempting a siege. Doomed from the start, Goblyn sappers made a few telling assaults against the walls, but within three months, with forces from Sigard and the Veldt converging on the fortress, Vachak Taar was murdered by his own subordinates and the Goblyns fell back into the forests.

The Fifth Era: Reunification

For a time there was peace, though plans were made to secure the boarders by retaking Marratharn, Darrenshire and Kirshire in Reddown. Henry Lander and Loric Baldur returned home by ship from Barvenham, where the council met for the first time since the outbreak of war, to collectively mourn Martin Forthest and for the state corination of his heir. Landan Daultin led a force south into Highdunn to help force back the pockets of Roughland Goblyns still scattered through Highdunn and Willim Sherevon established a blockade along the boarders of Shornfar, Sherevon and Galastry to keep the Goblyns contained in the lands they had occupied. There was much licking of wounds and consolidation, with the notable exception of Sigard. Sigard battleships remained moored in the harbours of Barvenham and Thairon, and Henry Lander’s Kingdom had grown prosperous trading arms and goods to their occupied neighbour in the north, and now grew even richer trading with Earldoms trying to restore themselves after the war. Henry Lander sat in his throne at Leirkist, the largest city in the world, unmarked by the cracks and scorchmarks and smell of death that now characterized Thairon and Daultin and Barvenham. Lander gave out great largesse to his generals and to his neighbours, and loaned goods freely, but even supporting the rebuilding of two whole nations on good will alone, he remained wealthy and strong where Highdunn and Reddown were smoking ruins. Worse still the name Henry Lander was known all over Ahlonia, songs of his deeds during the war abounded, and there were radical contingents of priests seeking his elevation to living sarithdom.

At a conference at Lierkist in 1,042 HC with the entire council of Reddown Henry Lander appeared in full mail armour with a crown of solid gold and jewels at his brow and a cloak of finest fur lined in imported silk, the very picture of the vital and mighty monarch despite his near to six decades, with a kind of ostentatious flamboyance never before seen in Ahlonian monarchs. He made the Earls, in their fur gowns and caps, great gifts of fine horses and jewels. Days after their departure Henry Lander sickened and died inexplicably, leaving no Lander heir to the newly built throne of Sigard. While no formal accusations were ever made, most historians agree that it is almost certain that the Earls Council had some hand in Lander’s death.

Several factions immediately emerged in Sigard, three separate flotillas all vieing to have their commander take the throne, as well as a merchant consortium and noble families from the settlements of Ennis and Erabon. After two years of brutal civil war it became apparent that the Baron of Erabon had been selected by the council as their candidate and it became paramount to overcome his claim. The Baron of Ennis marched out a considerable force to meet the forces of Erabon but was soundly defeated. In the winter of 1,044 HC in a grand coup the three competeing floatilla commanders were assassinated and every man in the Sigard Royal Navy swore allegiance to the Royal Chancellor Freir Grimm. In the interests of avoiding further losses Grimm cut off Erabon’s supplies by sea, and waited. Reddown supply wagons kept Erabon’s men fed and paid for nearly another three years before the mass desertions began, but when they did all parties knew that Sigard had a new regime and would not fall.

As it became clearer and clearer that the council still sought a return to dominion of all of the Isle of Ahlonia the folk of Sigard became wary of all envoys and emissaries from the council. Grimm passed away in 1,050 HC and after close consultation with his allies in the navy his eldest son Noran was allowed to succeed him on the condition that no prescident was set for dynastic succession. Noran was an exceptional statesman, but was also obcessed with the idea that it was the High Prelate of Lierkist who had facilitated the assassination of Henry Lander on the Council’s behalf. Earl Markas Daultin immediately countered by accusing Grimm of alleigence with the cult of Gruna and a lengthy battle or words ensued that would last the bulk of both men’s reigns. Grimm began to demand the relocation of the Basilica at Harkfal to Lierkist, but the Council claimed thar he simply sought to subvert the words of the Dioune in the very way that he accused them of having done. Eventually the Council agreed to expel the Grand High Prelate from their brotherhood under pressure from both Sigard and Highdunn in 1,064 HC, however Grimm was completely dissatisfied, and so was the Grand High Prelate himself, Ondres Mourghndoer.

In 1,067 HC Grand High Prelate Mourghndoer, threatened with the expulsion of his missionaries from all Sigard and the threat of schism war ordered relocation of his base of operations to the relatively neutral territory of Highdunn. He declined the King’s offer to occupy the Basilica at Maratharn in favour of some newly acquired church lands near the port town of Sursos. The construction of the Great Basilica began on a hilltop a few miles out of town, and the priests began to call the place Southaven in recognition of the protection from accusations of political machination it afforded them. In the interests of preserving good relations with the church the Earls Council immediately reinstated the church’s position by inviting the High Prelate of Daultin to join their number. However now the church was both disconnected from the ancestral homeland of men on the Isle into land tainted by Siele and Goblyns, and no longer had the benefit of Reddown’s protection or wealth, it had been driven to the landsmen frontiers in order to preserve itself, and yet still it lay within a nation’s sway, and no involved parties were entirely happy with the situation.

1,079 HC saw the death of Noran Grimm, and again the Navy met and allowed the Chancellor’s successor Dolman to take the post of leader of the nation, however only three years into his reign Dolman was forced to violently put down a huge insurgence based around a freed slave who claimed royal blood. The man, whose name has been expunged from any records, was captured and publicly executed for treason and sedition without much effort to investigate his claim.

By 1,087 HC the first tentative raids since the end of the Goblyn Wars by various Goblyn tribes began to leak out of the blasted domain of the Forest Kingdom, and in 1,090 the Earl of Marratharn was briefly besieged in his own keep for several months by a sizable force before the Goblyn’s supply lines failed and they were forced to abandon their siege. Concerned with the quick recovery the Goblyns seemed to have made Highdunn and Reddown began diverting resources to their boarders. Siagrd took similar measures, except that their troops began to secure the Forest Way to maintain a land route between Ennis and Southaven so that they could not be cut off from their spiritual centre and have ugly rumours about the Cult of Gruna arise around their nation again. Ovin of Highdunn refused to devote any forces to the Forest Way, and thus Sigard attempted to extend its boarders to the western boarders of the Veldt, but met with minimal success in the face of occupying Goblyns. In 1,100 the Forest Way was completely abandoned in favour of securing the existing eastern boarder settlements.

Bu 1,131 HC the religious situation had completely overshadowed the Goblyns, whose raids had become commonplace, and the three nations of men had accepted that they did not represent the threat that they once had. Satisfied that the Goblyn menace was gone forever the crowned heads of Ahlonia turned to the problem of the new Basilica at Southaven. Both the Council of Earls and the Chancellor of Sigard demanded that the centre of the land’s faith be relocated to their respective capitols, while Lavin of Highdunn defended the Supreme Prelate’s autonomy to locate wherever he chose. The debate raged for years, with the Supreme Prelate refusing to participate or meet with envoys from the three nations. Eventually in 1,138 the Prelates of both Harkfal and Ennis threatened to break away and form their own schisms, and the Supreme Prelate relented and proposed a movement to neutral territory on the newly discovered David’s Isle, however in the face of this new movement again King Lavin offered to grant the steadily growing town of Southaven political autonomy under the direct rule of the Supreme Prelate and under whatever judicial structure the church chose to implement. All parties agreed and in 1,139 HC Southaven was officially declared the first neutral free city on Ahlonia. However the idea that a schism of the faith could even conceivably exist would continue to haunt the Diounian faith henceforth, and the distance from Hardfal and Landfall would become a wound in the unity of the church.

In 1,146 HC the nephew of Eric Barven, Earl of Barvenham, Harald Prelate of Barvenham became High Prelate of Reddown with the considerable financial backing of his Uncle. To distance himself he adapted his family name slightly to Bravin. Harald was a member of a radical sect that preached a doctrine that depicted the two Diounian Divh as two incarnations of a single divh, he insisted that all of the priests in Reddown grant access to the readings of this alternative philosophy, and considering that priests were generally the only literate body in Reddown this ment preaching it. With the threat of religious schisms still in his mind the Supremem Prelate did not challenge Bravin, but the High Prelate of Highdunn demanded that he be stood down. The argument would become a raging one, and theological debate only ment that familiarity and a certain degree of support for this new ‘dissident’ doctrine spread through the Diounian faith. In 1,150 HC the Supremem Prelate ruled for tolerance of the dissidents. This was openly declared to be a sign of the weakness of the throne of the Supreme Prelate by the High Prelate of Highdunn.

Meanwhile Reddown was also experiencing the rumblings of political reformation. Individual members of the council looked at the power exercised by the King of Highdunn, and that which had once been the province of the King of Sigard, and there was much talk that perhaps Reddown was in need of a King, but of course the discussion became heated over who that Kings might be. Arbur Forthest was the first to step to candidacy in 1,152 HC, but he was quickly followed by Irik, new Earl of Barven and cousin of the High Prelate. These two tried to engender popular campaigns inside the council, but that proved impossible, so instead they both began massing armies of mercenaries in their domains. The Earl of Galastry declared that he would defend Reddown to the last and began garrisoning Daultin, but sensing that this would lead to a bid for candidacy the Earl of Sherevon declared that he would also send forces to garrison Daultin. The move was risky as the path to the capitol for both Irik and Arbur lay through Sherevon, but it ment that Wilim Daultin would both not come off as the sole defender of Reddown, and that he would not be left in a position of military power in the capitol.

In 1,154 after much sabre rattling Arbur Forthest marched on Daultin, and a combined force from Galastry and Marratharn met him at the boarder of Galastry and soundly defeated him, the Earl himself was killed during the battle. Arbur’s son, who bore the same name, took the throne and at least publicly renounced the King movement in favour of the council. Meanwhile the council itself was formally disbanded and the Earldoms of Reddown were granted national status in a vote pushed through by Irik Barven. Marratharn and Darrenshire swore allegiance to the Earl of Galastry while Irik Barven used his standing force to occupy most of northern Forthest and Marak and Shornfar entered into a standing alliance. Only a depleted and weakened Forthest, Sherevon and Kirshire stood alone. In 1,159 the boarders were redrawn so that Reddown was now six independent nations. Thrilled at the seeming collapse of Reddown’s supremacy, in 1,161 the Steward of Sigard, Heral Grimmson invaded southern Galastry, and assailed Marratharn Keep where they were decisively crushed and their standing field commander Warn Farrow was taken prisoner. He lived out the rest of his life as an honoured ‘guest’ at Castle Proudmoore.

Boarder skirmishes around the new domains continued until 1,168 when the Earldoms settled into their new boarders, and the council met again, not as rulers of Reddown, but top draught a peace treaty, however Forthest and Barven refused to sign on the grounds that it called for the return of much of northern Forthest, which was still embattled. Both lobbied for a war of conquest against the other, and negotiations collapsed. When someone made an attempt on the life of the Earl of Sherevon the various Earls all departed immediately. Harald Vaun accused Mourn Daultin of being behind the attempt on his life, and Daultin fiercely denied the claim and even went so far as accusing Vaun of orchestrating the assassination attempt himself in order to justify an invasion. Irik Barven meanwhile began manouvering politically, and he tapped the authority of his cousin Harald, High Prelate of Greater Reddown to further his own influence, in return he supported Bravin in forcing through the proclamation that the dissident doctrine would be the official state dogma of Reddown, to the exclusion of the Twin Divhi philosophy in 1,172.

Apalled that Reddown could achcieve this and still be included in the faith the High Prelate of Highdunn, with the support of King Lavin of Highdunn this time, petitioned the Supreme Patriarch to take punative action against Harald Bravin, excommunicating him and restoring the Twin Face dogma to Reddown, by force if necessary. King Lavin even enforced his point by personally blockading Southaven in 1,181 HC with a large party of heavily armed Kingsown until his Prelates be allowed audience with the Order of the Garden. Similarly appalled the Chancellor of Sigard mobalized a large portion of the Royal Navy and bombarded the Kingsown from the coast until they were forced to retreat. Dissatisfied with the centre of the faith becoming a battleground Supreme Prelate Peter Torlburn summoned all the rulers of Ahlonia to Southaven under the banner of a crisis of the faith. Unsure of the real political position of the Supreme Prelate the combined rulers did not respond, however in 1,185 HC a massive earthquake shook the entire Isle, and a good portion of the cities of Barvenham and Thairon fell into the sea. Terrified in the face of this divine retribution the collected rulers of Ahlonia gathered quickly in Southaven and reswore their undying alleigence to the Supreme Prelate. Henceforth every crowned head of Ahlonia would travel to Southaven for their corination.

At Southaven the historic Gathering in the Garden took place in 1,186 HC, the primary outcome being that Highdunn gifted an immense swathe of land surrounding Southaven to the church under the same autonomous control as the city had been, and that Sigard and the collected Earldoms of Reddown offered Highdunn some nature of financial recompense for this mutual gift of political independence. Southaven claimed the lands up to the banks of the River Shiem, and all the landsmen nations signed eternal treaties of non aggression and protection with the fledgling nation. With the insentive of guaranteed security and the influx of pious free pilgrims into the growing metropolis Southaven grew almost overnight as every trading interest on Ahlonia set up a permanent branch there and freemen fleeing war in their homes moved here, however, with the promise that they could not be pursued many fleeing criminals also came to make their new homes in Southaven, and many mercenary companies who had been on the wrong side during the strife in Reddown took their gold and fled for Southaven. Several brotherhoods of career outlaws formed a broad and powerful base for a wealthy and powerful middle class who quickly became far more politically and economically savvy than the agents of the church, who had been so long restricted to just the spiritual wellbeing of a nation.

Tensions continued in Reddown, with Irik Barven, Markam Vaun and Daine Daultin representing the greatest powers in greater reddown into the eleven-ninties. Sabre rattling across mutual boarders had, for the most part, been the worst of the conflicts thus far, but now that each of these three Earldoms had amassed considerable standing armies their threats of conquest seemed far more realistic, especially to their weaker neighbours like Forthest of Kirshire. Even the military minds of Sigard were concerned that there might be some kind of strike again from the north. Recognizing that this could tear Reddown apart, despite it’s being the strongest power on Ahlonia the Earls all agreed to reconvene the council in an emergency session on neutral ground, in a building built for the purpose in Southaven in 1,196 HC. Little was resolved, and mostly it served as a ground for the three leading Earls to fling open threats at one another and attempt to bully the remaining unallied powers into joining their various factions. Things came to a head in 1,199 when Markam Vaun marched three full detachments out of the city of Sherevon and occupied Middale in Galastry. He demanded that Galastry surrender or face all out conquest, and in response Daine Daultin marched north. Several pitched battles were fought, but before things could come to direct conflict Earl Seline Marak threatened alliance with Galastry if Markam Vaun did not immediately withdraw. Coupled with probing raids by Barven at his north boarder Vaun grudgingly abandoned middale in 1,200 HC, however the council remained dissolved until it finally agreed to reuinite in 1,211 HC and Reddown as a nation was reborn. Ironically but perhaps likely coincidentally this was also the year of both Irik Barven and Harald Bravin’s deaths.

The death of an Earl, while far from commonplace, is usually a natural thing, but when in 1,221 HC Lorn Marrathar, Earl of Marratharn passed away from a horrible plague that was rife in the Eastern Earldoms that year and his son Calis took the throne the event had far reaching ramifications. Calis firmly believed that the taint of the Goblyn presence was what had spread the plague that took his father’s life, and while debate in the church was split as to whether the mere presence of the children of Ettin could bring about some kind of anti-divine malady Calis took no notice. His first act as Earl of Marratharn was to marshall his armies and march on the steadily encroaching Burned Stump Goblyns. Calis had not command experience, and had only ever served in the Marratharn elite infantry, never as a leader, and the campaign was doomed from the beginning, and after two years of hard conflict the entire strike force simply disappeared in the forest. Survivors who made it back to Reddown reported becoming completely lost searching for supplies after the poorly planned supply trains simply stopped coming, the becoming separated in an attempt to decrease the demands on food, and finally being repetedly ambushed by far greater forces. Worse still Calis had committed his entire standing army and a good portion of Marratharn’s serf population to the campaign. In an effort to maintain Marratharn as a boarder the Earl’s council had no choice but to regarrison Marratharn themselves while it economically and militarily recovered.

In 1,228 HC that recovery was far from complete, but Marratharn had sufficiently recovered so as to allow Calis to muster a new force. The Goblyns had become emboldened by their victory, and Calis felt slighted that they had utterly defeated his family twice now. The Earl’s Council assembled and summoned him before them as a supplicant where Marratharn was forcibly seceded from Reddown for the remainder of Calis reign, however long that may be. This proved to be mere hours when, leaving in disgrace from Castle Proudmoore ahead of his formal honourguard Calis was stopped in the street by a beggar and stabbed repeatedly about the face, neck and chest. By the time Calis Marrathar received medical attention he was neither alive nor recognizable, and only his noble regalia identified him. Marratharn duly fell into the temporary care of a Steward who dissolved Calis’ attack force and regarrisoned its army.

Donal Grimmson, Chancellor of Sigard was lost at sea in 1,237 HC and did not leave an heir, who had traditionally adopted a sort of understated kingship. Left without an obvious choice for his successor the Commanders of the Royal Navy met with the rulers of eight of Sigard’s major port cities to select a ruler. One of the most senior of the commanders, Pater Ariben was selected to serve as Steward of Sigard, but this movement from a civic minded administrator to a military one is often credited as the primary factor in the decline and eventual fall of Sigard. Lierkist, crown jewel of Sigard, and the real reason for it’s strength, along with it’s navigators, was in a steadily losing battle with Southaven to be the first metropolis of Ahlonia, but Ariben failed to see this. He began to try to reclaim land from the middle classes in Leirkist with the intent of generating funds to establish a stronger military foundation.

Threatened by this sudden military growth both Reddown and Highdunn worked to secure their boarders, the King of Highdunn clearly remembered what happened at Southaven merely a generation ago, when their finest were bombarded into nothing by Sigard’s Royal Navy. Assuming that this ment that both nations were collaberrating to invade Sigard, Steward Ariben began closing sea trade down throughout Ahlonia and withdrawing the navigators back to Lierkist. Tension was broken however by a large scale Goblyn raid in 1,246 that left Carrow burned to the ground and completely depopulated. Sigard refocused its new military might into driving the Goblyns out of their boarderd, and pursuing them deep into the Forest right to the point where the southern boarders lie now, then Sigard pushed further into the south of the Forest, however the presence of the Warlock kept them from trying to encroach across far into the actual forest. By 1,248 the Goblyns were in full retreat to the north.

There was a short period of peace throughout Ahlonia for the next decade. The reunited Earldoms prospered as men from Siagrd too poor to go to Southaven returned nrth. Southaven itself grew unchecked, and the beginnings of the organized criminality that would birth the T’Ovari in latter years emerged and began to vie for supremacy in the port city. Disparate and weak, the Goblyns of the Forest only intermittently made stinging raids on settlements along ther boarders and Ahlonia assume sme guise of order. In 1,263 HC Reddow petitioned Sigard for the return of certainsouthern territories, specifically the southern shores of Lake Dale. Whether he council anticipated that this would be a provocative act or merely believed Sigard to be in decline is uknown, but the Steward responded with a brief show of force, blockading Daultin with a large flotilla of barges. Stating that they were appalled with such actions in the face of diplomacy the army of Galastry struck back, quickly lapping around the lake and effectively besieging the flotilla. The men on theships starved or else died when they eventually tried to come ashore. As a whole the Council then refused to withdraw their forces, and occupied the whole noprtheastern part of Sigard down to Banddale and Carrow. The Steward tried diplomacy but his envoys were laughed out of Daultin. The Steward formed an alliance with the reigning King of Highdunn in the hope that the Council would be deterred from further action.

An uneasy peace reigned into the eleven eighties, but then the storm finally broke, nd the allied armies of Reddown marched south and systematicall, without approaching the coat, began picking off the settlements of Sigard and occupying all strategic sources of food and timber. Most of northern Siagrd had fallen by 1,287 HC and only the coast endured, and then the armies of Reddown settled down to wait. The Royal Navycircled the coast, waiting, restocking in Highdunn and Southaven, but even with aid from the King of Highdunn Samal Riece Sigard was steadily running out of the resources that would allow them to mke war with Reddown. The Council had long maintained Goblyn allies, meaning that their troops were better armed and armoured, and much of Sigard’s gold was already in their possession, as was the bulk of the Isle’s timber trade. Finally, after another seventeen long years Reddown struck right at the heart of Sigard at Lerkist. What had promised to be a long and drawn out siege of a well defended last bastion lasted less than a day as the armies of Reddown released every ounce of theor tactical and resource advantages against the defenders. Aid from Highdunn never marched down the Forest Way. Sigard fell that day in 1,304, and only a few tiny cities and some starving sailors remained to be mopped up. The settlement of Sigard back into the fold of Reddown was the act that would usher in the Sixth Era of Ahlonian reckoning, and end the Reunification.

The Sixth Era

Now close to two centuries into the sixth era Ahlonia has changed almost beyond recognition. Since these founding days Sigard has fallen into political chaos and been occupied for several generations now, it essentially falls within Reddown’s boarders again. War has been intermittent with Reddown’s last great rival, Highdunn in the east. Conflict with Goblyns is rife, and perhaps their numbers are stirring again, perhaps now they are united under a single warlord they will now march on their neighbours rather than the lightning raids that have characterized their presence. But primarily it is intrigue that now plagues Reddown. The ancient council is not working so well, no Earl is wholly satisfied and the situation is beginning to look dire. Perhaps one day soon there will be a struggle to put a single man on the throne of Reddown. Though who it may be is hard to say.