The Earldoms
In the north-western plains of Ahlonia lies the pulsing heart of the ancient and mighty nation of Reddown. Though their conquests may reach far, The Earldoms are the old seat of civilization on the isle. This peaceful land of rolling hills, rich vales, and windswept countryside may look idyllic, but this veneer hides a broiling undercurrent of intrigue and sparring, as the Earls of Reddown manoeuvre and counter-manoeuvre to outdo one another in a diplomatic game contested on a razor's edge. And all the while enemies brood on their shadowy borders.

Tech Code: 5
Governments: Monarchy under the Earl's Council.
Religions: Western Dissident Church of the Dioune, Cult of Gruna.
Industries and Trades: Agriculture, Forestry, Quarrying, Herding, Fishery, Woodwork, Leatherwork, Textiles, Furs, Silk.
Major Terrains: Flatland, River, Sea.
Primary Languages: Trade Tongue.
Major Settlements: Barvenham, Darrenshire, Daultin, Dollow, Eanseat, Forddale, Gondale, Haimvere, Halvesty, Harbrook, Harkfal, Kirshire, Kondale, Middale, Milldale, Mines of Ahmad, Shaw, Sherevon, Shornfar, Trelldale.

Geography


Physical Geography

The lands of the Earldoms are rough, but they are some of the most fertile and habitable on Ahlonia. Based around three huge valleys, which may once have been undersea trenches in the times before the birth of men or the settling of the world. The Siele called these Shen Fier, Shen Tirias and Shen Calathas, and the landsman cartographers have kept these names. They each run north up the lands, and are incredibly fertile, with rich jet-black volcanic soil and shallow underwater streams everywhere, as well as sluggish streams and occasional marshlands that vanish in the summer and re-emerge in winter. Most of the flatlands are rolling, and full of deep valleys formed by long-dry streams. Hills, bare on top from the winds, but surrounded by thin forest boarder these valleys.

The centre of the region is dominated by the Cloister hills, a rolling area of particularly fertile soil and thick growth covered in long grass with patches of birch and beach trees between their bald pates. These hills drain into the shallow and sprawling Lake Dale, which is bordered on nearly all its banks by mud flats. Two rivers extend north into the hills; the Meir and the Vence, both are narrow and deep, and flow fast and cold. They are unfordable, and are bordered by cliffs where they have cleanly cut through the soft hills.

To the north on the coast are some of the calmest waters on the Isle. Rather than cliffs there are broad golden beaches scattered with smooth, bleached white boulders and backed with shallow clay cliffs and rolling green grass. Huge oak trees dominate the area here, and their massive stumps where the goblyns or men have cut them down form little plateaus here and there that the local people often build their timber -framed houses on top of.

Few major features break the landscape here, but the area is covered in roads. Tracks and paths seldom survive here, but the roads, built on a foundation of piles of granite and other porous rock brought from the Roughlands then built up with local peat and scoria serve as some of the only landmarks. They travel between tiny towns, which mostly serve as supply-points for local farms. Farmsteads growing wheat and corn cover the entire area, and orchards are common, though livestock ranches are rare because of the terrain and frequency of hidden bogs.

Political Geography

This region has been settled by men for far longer than any other part of the Isle, and has been the centre of human prosperity off and on for its entire history. The area is ancient, and while it is not thickly populated the marks of habitation are almost everywhere, and the contrast of the tame, controlled wilds here to the Forest to the east is obvious and acts as a constant reminder that this is a land of men.

Once home to the goblyn tribes that now inhabit most of the Forest Kingdom, the Earls of Reddown drove the last of the creatures out hundreds of years ago. The last of their number is stuffed in the receiving room of Dainhold Keep, the plaque beneath it reads simply “may only this one befoul our soil”. Now the Earldoms is the seat of power for the sprawling nation marked on maps as Greater Reddown. The region is based around two central Earldoms: Galastry, where the capital city of Daultin sits, and Sherevon, where Shaenian, the purported leader of the fifth tribe of the Ral held court. These territories occupy the heart of the Earldoms, Galastry stretching from the western bank of the river Mier and the north of Lake Dale to the northernmost reaches of the Cloisters. It is the most populous region of the Earldoms, and little of the original wilds remain, the valleys now filled with corn and the hills grazing sheep. The Earl; Sedirc Daultin, rules from his castle in the city of Daultin, where the council of Earls meets. Sedric does not have the luxury of stagnation, even if he was the man to embrace it. He is constantly called, in some subtle way, to confirm his position in Daultin as chairman of the council. There are whispers that many wish to shift their capital to the occupied city of Leirkist; which they see as a more neutral meeting ground. While it is not the military power it once was, Galastry is dotted with fortresses, and its structure and the loyalty of it’s steaders to their liege lord is absolute.

Setting Trait (3): Machinations of the Council For centuries the Earls of Reddown have needed no king. They have ruled by council, and bickered for months or even years, manoeuvring for supremacy, and trading favours for votes cast in one direction or another. Even today, the smallest decision grows in implication when it comes before the council, becoming another facet to the continuing struggle to dominate the council, and in turn, all of Reddown.

Sherevon ranges north where Galastry stops, but does not quite reach the coast. The most prosperous region of the Earldoms, the farms here produce the bulk of Reddown’s food and cattle and sheep breed here too. The Dowager Lady of Sherevon, the widow Jarien Vaun, lost her husband to a weak heart. She administrates the Earldom and everyone knows it, but she does so in the name of her eldest son Shannon, who holds the title Earl. Her seven other children all serve some diplomatic role at Daultin, making her family by far the most influential in Reddown. If there were to every be a struggle for power Sherevon would doubtless be a favourite for taking the throne at Daultin. Lady Vaun is capable and intelligent but not ambitious. She sees her people prosper and settles for that.

To the east of these two powerhouses sit the four Earldoms whose duty it is to defend Reddown’s boarders against the Forest Kingdom’s incursions. Marratharn, Darrenshire, Kirshire and Shornfar from south to north. Each is based around a great fortress of the same name. Established by Galsatry’s second Daultin Earl, he sent each of his four sons to built a fortress to defend his lands, and in return he sent them men and money each year to maintain their domains. Over the next century they grew strong, and established their own lineages, the Earl of Kirshire even married into the Vaun line and has been a stronger ally to their line than that of his uncle since. In 230 HC Darrenshire turned down these supplies in return for the power to independently govern his land, and after pressuring his uncle with the threat of alliance with the Siele his request was granted. Within the next seventy years all of these Earldoms were granted independence, and were integrated into the governance of Reddown, causing the council to grow from three to seven members. While these Earldoms remain militant they also pride themselves on independence, mining along the boarders of the Forest Kingdom in old goblyn mines for their arms, and living from hunting and trapping. Rather than steaders, here various cavalier-barons, granted their lands for acts of heroism or loyalty, control the land. The Earls here remain close and strongly allied in the face of both the goblyns of the forest and the richer Earls further west, and there is a certain resentment that while their neighbours prosper they die. The only exception here is also the only Earl who sits on the council currently. Henry, Earl of Shornfar has allied himself with the goblyns of the Blood Hand and their warlord Gata Skar. Through this he has made a tenuous accord of peace with the Forest Kingdom, and has also developed valuable trade contact with the goblyn miners.

Directly north of Sherevon are the Earldoms of Barven and Marak, both of which fall under the rule of Earl Pieter Tolbren. The prosperity of these two realms since they were united under a single banner has almost doubled, and while whispers at court say that there are few extents Tolbren will go to to advance his own power, the steady handed guidance of Pieter and his father and grandfather have manoeuvred these small provinces into one of the greatest economic and political powers of the entire isle. Three generations ago the Earl of Barven was able only to have a single girl, before some cursed illness struck him and he ceased to be able to give his wife children. While he tired to keep his secret he was mocked ruthlessly, but when it appeared that his line was going to die out and his daughter; a sickly girl named Catherine who was born without the use of her legs, Richard, second son of the Earl of Marak offered to marry her and continue the family legacy. Shortly after Earl Barven’s death brigands killed Richard’s father and elder brother, and so the two provinces were one. Richard and his ancestors have finally begun to look to the sea for opportunities, and rumours even link them to ships from the Pirate Islands, although these are likely insubstantial. At Barvenham the Earldoms’ only real seaport has been established and Sigardian sailors have begun to flock to this new safe-harbour, and Pieter now manoeuvres to court the allegiance of the more minor Earls. What his motivations are still remain unclear.

Forthest is the eldest of the lands of men, and was inhabited by the Ral before Reddown ever existed. Castle Harkfal towers over the town of the same name, and is built on a great plateau overlooking the sea that is called landfall. The history books say this is where Hanna landed on her voyage from the Isle of Men. The Earls of Forthest have always been staunchly religious, and the great Cathedral of Aliel near the centre of the Earldom was once the centre of the faith for all Reddown before it was relocated to Daultin in 426. The current Earl Martel is a patron of the faith and of the arts. While Forthest is provincial and often considered backward by the other provinces their line is old, and they have held a position on the council for the last six generations, acting as mediators through most of the meetings.

Just south of Forthest is the Earldom Havisham. One of the youngest of the Earldoms, Havisham was formed as a dowry from Gregory, Earl of Forthest from the southern part of his domain in 1,408 to his daughter‘s husband Carel Havish, a hero of the third Goblyn Wars, so as he could care for her in the style she deserved. The tiny Earldom was at first resented by the other Earls, but only a few generations after Havish’s death a small silver deposit was discovered here and since then most of Reddown’s silver is mined here rather than being imported from Highdunn. Recently Earl Morgan Havish has been opening relations with the lordlings of the southern Earldoms and welcoming their trade companies into his lands. Certainly the most progressive of the northern Earldoms Havisham is developing great potential for future prosperity, and perhaps even a position on the council.

The Church of the Dioune, administrated from [[[Southaven]], is represented by High Prelate Anden Corovell, who ministers to the souls of the people of Reddown. While the people of Reddown see the Dioune as the dual faces of a single divhi they still follow the Church, and indeed for centuries that has been official doctrine, for which they are dubbed ‘dissidents’ by the church at Southaven. The church has chapels in each major settlement, and a grand Basilica in Daultin, and their grip on the people’s faith is truly the iron fist in the velvet glove. They also keep several monastic abbeys, especially in Harkfal, where they take acolytes from among the steader’s younger children.

Social Geography

Society is the Earldoms is typical of all of Ahlonia, and has been the way it is today for centuries. Though time marches on, fashions in Daultin change, and technology may take a step now and then really the serfs of Reddown are living the same lives as the last twelve generations of their forefathers have lived, and dying the same deaths, regardless of history or political intrigues that may be passing them by.

All Reddown operates on a very simple class system. At the top of this is the council of Earls, a group of the seven most powerful Earls of the lands of Reddown, who serve to govern the nation as a whole and enforce decisions of national importance upon the other Earldoms by their unity and for the common good of one another. Below them are the steaders, men given the title to control and work the Earl’s lands as they see fit so long as they swear vassalage to the Earls, and often with a price set to renew these titles every few years. Next come the freemen, once indentured serfs who, for some reason, have been granted their freedom. Many talented professionals are freemen, as are soldiers and priests. These men are expected to make their own livings plying their trades, but are not bound to any liege lord. Most rent buildings to live and practice their trade in the hire of the steaders, others are wandering traders and yet others work in the service of one of the Earls as part of his court. Most freemen tend to flock to cities or towns where they can most profitably ply their trades. Below these are the serfs. These are essentially the labour force of the nation, and property of whatever steading they are born into. They must be cared for to the satisfaction of the Earl’s laws, but otherwise are the property of whatever steader’s lands they dwell in, and they may have no property but what their lord gives to them. Finally on the bottom of the social ladder are the vagrants. These are serfs who have abandoned their steadings and their lords. They are outlaws, and anyone freeman or better in class who finds a vagrant has the right to take his ear. Each time he is caught he loses an ear and if he has no ears then he is killed. This extreme form of punishment makes it difficult if not impossible for a serf to escape their masters or their lives. Serfs are not slaves however. They cannot be bought or sold, or even given as a gift, but they come with the land they inhabit and work, so if a steading changes hands so do its serfs. Steaders who lose their lands become freemen, and their Earls can make freemen serfs.

Socially the Earldoms can be split into three basic divisions; the boarder-lands, the provinces and the great Earldoms. The people of the boarder-lands are rougher, and many are soldiers. Steads here are huge and few, and mostly their production is only just enough to sustain them, but new settlements spring up here and there, and freemen who have served in the army and been freed establish small towns along the boarders in no-man’s-land where they serve the armies as traders, innkeepers, or even taking in vagrants and running small smuggling operations. The people here are rough and ready, most go armed and few have not sighted a goblyn, either a prisoner, raiding party or the occasional resident (identified because they cannot bear arms in settled areas).

The provinces are still partially wild, and there is little industry, only farming and herding. The population is more sparse, and the steads still huge and sprawling, some very few having it’s own mill or granary, and few freemen are around at all except those who make their living operating trading posts in the small towns that establish along the roads from stead to stead.

Finally the great Earldoms, namely Galastry and Sherevon, though safe for centuries, have more in common with the boarder lands than the provinces. They are lands of growth and opportunity, especially in Daultin and Gallastry. One day even Havisham and Barven will cease to be provinces and become part of this wealthy power base. Industry grows here, most steads are totally self sufficient, but many choose a specialty so as to nurture trade between their steads, facilitated by small merchant companies based in the towns and cities. There is little land not tilled by the hands of men or grazed by his livestock. The city of Daultin is the hub of this growth, although many of the traders and the more exotic or technological goods are found south in Lierkist, Daultin grows frantically with the coaxing and investment of it’s Earl and ruling council, and freemen from all over come here in the hope of somehow gaining access to the court at Castle Proudmoore.

Timeline

0 HC The Ral leader Shaenian dies, the people split. The Earldoms of Galastry and Sherevon are established under his eldest two sons. The division is peaceful but competitive.
58 HC The Earls declare war with Shiel Meial, and raise their war banners. Surprisingly initial campaigns meet with surprising success, and huge tracts of forest are torched and have keeps raised on them and garrisoned, the Siele pull back into the deepest forest.
61 HC The forces of Reddown suffer their first great defeat where Maratharn now lies, there are no survivors and the line of the Earls of Galastry dies out completely. The Siele mount the bones of the men in the ruins of their tower at Tel-Celeste. The war begins to rapidly move against the landsmen.
70 HC The Earls ally themselves with the newly landed goblyn tribes of the north, most notably Dyurvar’s Hammers, in an effort to stem the tide of battle in their favour. This works well, as the goblyn’s prolific numbers and knack for destruction of their habitat prove a fatal combination to the Siele. Dyurvar himself is admitted to the Earl’s councils of war.
92 HC The nation of Sigard is founded by King Lander, the accord of Ennis is signed by many of the southern trading towns bringing them under Sigard’s banner. Also the southernmost province of Reddown joins Lander.
268 HC The Tresser Veldt is founded by the three brothers Tressilian in the centre of Shiel Meial. They begin using this region to launch raids, station armies and stockpile supplies. The three Earldoms are laid out more like military camps than actual domains.
421 HC Dissatisfied with being excluded from councils because of their distance from Daultin the Earls of the Tresser Veldt declare independence and King Vandar quickly moves to ally himself with these northern powers, beset on all sides by foes and with no real trade to speak of the Earls agree to the alliance.
703 HC Shiel Meial falls and the last of the Siele flee into the Roughlands. The Siele-King Fieme is killed when his tower is besieged, and his sister the Siele Queen Amiaiele takes command of the refugees.
1012 HC The goblyns in the Earldoms seize the Forest Kingdom colonies and name it Talthak. While no formal alliance is made between the tribes, they co-operate well with a common foe.
1018 HC The twenty-year war begins.
1037 HC The twenty year war ends when the combined forces of Sigard, Reddown and Highdunn
are trapped at Cravenrock and driven into the lake by the goblyn Vachak Taar. He takes the title Goblynking, but only survives three months after his victory, before the tribes splinter again.
1042 HC Henry, last of the Kings of Sigard dies leaving no heir. The nation falls into civil war between several small factions with loose claims to the throne and various merchant lords backing them.
1044 HC After a brief period of civil war the ageing Chancellor Freir Grimm unites the navy and, under the threat of invasion by Reddown becomes Steward of Sigard.
1067 HC Grand High Prelate Ondres Mourghndoer relocates from Harkfal to the Basilica at Southaven under pressure from Sigard and Highdunn. He begins construction of the Great Basilica.
1139 HC The city of Southhaven is granted diplomatic independence by King Lavin under pressure from his neighbours, who were uncomfortable having their religious capital under the control of another nation. The table of Patriarchs is established.
1172 HC Harald Bravin, High Prelate of Reddown declares in favour of the doctrine of the twin faces and declares the church of Reddown doctrinally dissident.
1186 HC Southaven is gifted with its surrounding lands up to the banks of the river Sheim in order to be self-sufficient. Its growth begins out of control as pilgrims and traders crowd its streets.
1199 HC The Earl of Sherevon Markam Vaun arrays an army along Galastry’s northern boarder and demands that Earl Daine Daultin immediately surrender control of the city of Daultin and the Earl’s council. Daine sends an army north, but before general war breaks out Earl Seleine Marak threatens alliance with Galastry and Markam’s army stands down.
1221 HC Calis Marrathar inherits the throne of Marratharn after his father’s fatal ailment and immediately launches a disastrous campaign against the Burned Stump camp.
1223 HC After a lengthy campaign Marratharn’s entire army is completely lost somewhere in the Forest, nothing further is heard and small numbers of men from the army begin to appear in goblyn slave camps. The council of Earls is forced to restore Marratharn’s garrison from their own forces.
1228 HC With the combined forces of his restored army under his command, Calis feels confident enough to order them to embark on a second campaign into the Forest. He is summoned to the Earl’s council where he is ejected from the council, he is then killed by an unknown assailant while leaving the Castle Proudmoore, his bodyguard inexplicably absent.
1304 HC The Earls of Reddown march on Leirkist, after a brief battle they besiege the port city.
1307 HC Sigard surrenders to the Earls Reddown and is split among them, the Steward is allowed to retain his post but he is almost powerless.
1477 HC In a series of massive lightning raids the Earldoms of Maratharn and Kirshire have their boarders pushed back from the forest kingdom by hundreds of miles.
1482 HC Present Day. Stirrings of war are all over. The Kingdom of Highdunn is holding the emissary Lord Peran under suspicion of kidnapping, numerous diplomatic missions to Cravenrock have resulted only in the impression that the Goblynking feels he need not negotiate with the race of men, and stirrings in the south suggest a royalist uprising in old Sigard. If that wasn’t enough the Earls' Council is more divided by petty feuds than it has ever been.

Osric of Daultin

Osric of Daultin, alternately known as Osric the Sage was a priest and scholar based in Daultin throughout the latter years of the Sigard occupation, and through the Elector period. He was one of the few literate Reddowners of the sixth century, and his work is credited with both being important as one of the few written histories of the period, and for maintaining the written language of Ahlonia. Osric’s early work was a vague chronicle of the Kings of Sigard during the occupation, taken from the accounts of various travelling priests who stayed at his home in Daultin, but after the Earl of Galastry retook Daultin Osric was admitted to the Earl’s council as their official scribe, and his latter work takes the form of detailed biographies of the Elector Earls during his lifetime. His works on the lives of Maul Vaun, Ardun and Karn Daultin, Doric and Morn Forthest and Ford Marratharn and Paetar Barven have all proved invaluable to historians assembling the events leading up to the end of the Siele wars. Sadly Osric died in 601 HC a mere year before the fall of Eil-sheire, and never saw a decisive victory over the Siele at the hands of his heroic subjects.

People


The Folk of Reddown

Downsmen, as the folk of Reddown are known, are very unlike the Ral. Possibly because their blood is diluted, they look only a little like their cousins to the north. They are broad featured and stout, like those described earlier. Prosperous and strongly steeped in the trade of their forefathers, the folk are friendly, if not welcoming. Most are serfs, and resent those who wander freely, and are suspicious of those who do not live in their stead. Despite seeming oppressed to folk from outside the Isle, or even to the folk of Highdunn who have considerably more freedom then their neighbours, the people are generally happy with their lot as long as their stead is prosperous and their lord not cruel. They see no real reason to want for anything more than they have, and live their lives as their fathers have and as their lords and priests say they should, with the promise of a spiritual reward after a life well and dutifully lived.

Minor nobility, mostly steaders wealthy enough to gather the trappings of nobility, have small manors dotted here and there. Good and gracious hospitality are considered a mark of a good house, and so any visitor who has the right to be there is guaranteed a good meal and a soft bed so long as he doesn’t abuse or outstay his welcome. This is called doerage, and is an important part of an estate’s existence. In the case of a ranking holy-man or noble it is also considered a great disrespect if a host cannot keep him in the manner to which he is accustomed.

Women in Reddown, like on most of the isle, are very much second-class. They have fewer rights and cannot own anything, but their role in society is not overlooked and a good woman is both a precious and prestigious commodity on all levels of society. Several powerful women do exist; though most will not display their power openly several historical figures and some contemporary prove that women can attain positions of power if they are willing to work hard towards it. Also women have the priesthood of Aliel to fall back upon if they are born to a nobleman or freeman.

To the north several goblyn tribes still operate, although they are allied with Earl Henry of Shornfar officially they have been given the freedom to operate the mines of Ahmad in his lands, and the labourers are considered serfs in the service of their Warlord by the law of the Earldom. Despite this they continue to adhere to their tribal structure, although particularly zealous and distressed missionaries have converted many to the worship of Koroth. Generally, however, they don’t take such religious issues too seriously.

Conversely religion is an integral part of the people of the Earldoms lives. They worship the Dioune, the holy union of the two faces of the single perfect divhi of mankind, known alternately as Koroth and Aliel and embodied by their patron sarith Hanna. Once each day every man, woman and child goes to their local temple or shrine to spend time in prayer and keep a prayer-candle lighted for their family. They are intensely religious, and because their religion is relatively non-demanding of them on anything but a philosophical level most people are happy to attend a temple and venerate their divh in the hope of going to a place called bliss when they die.

Flora and Fauna

The Earldoms is nearly entirely covered by light woods and scrub land through its verdant valleys. There are huge, ancient oak trees which dominate the landscape, even protruding up over the windswept crests of the hills, although where they do their shapes become warped and bent. In their shade grow beach and birch trees, these are younger and only appeared since the coming of men and the thinning of the Forest.

Mostly however the plant life is dominated by scrub. The entire region is covered in a tall growing soft green grass, broken by patches of gorse and thistles. Wild blackberries and poison ivy cover the ground, hidden in the grass and in the valleys huge ferns, mosses and giant toadstools grow in the damp soil and warm, humid air.

In the wilder regions giant lizards called croakers and many varieties of small grass snake are common, but they are slowly giving way to rats and rabbits, especially further inland. Frogs, toads and small reptiles live in the marshlands, and often migrate from year to year. Bears have been rendered all but extinct, and the largest animals here are bobcats and several species of foxes, including a greyish breed called Vaun foxes, which are almost the size of a wolf.

In more populous areas sheep, goats and cattle are kept and some wander wild. Sheep dogs and hunting dogs are also kept as pets, and many of the more wealthy nobility breed dogs as a hobby. Horses are seldom found in the wild anywhere on the isle and so horses are rare and expensive, mostly mules are used for travel, but some of the most notable families breed horses, and the markings on a horse are a very clear indication of what stable it came from. Possums have also taken up residence where men live, in thatched roofs, stealing scraps.

While there are far more various and dangerous creatures living in the Forest Kingdom only mere leagues away the Earldoms have been inhabited for far too long for these large predators to survive here. Occasionally packs of wolves are driven across when their territory is taken by goblyns, and the war hounds that they breed also have a habit of going wild and wandering across the boarders, but for the most part the wilds remain relatively safe. The only exceptions are the wasps and bees. Vineyards have been here, either tended or not, since before the coming of men, and huge nests of bees and wasps are hidden in fallen logs and tree stumps all over. These pose a real danger to anyone who stumbles upon them. Along with these lives a spider called the Kakker whose sole diet is bees, and who builds his web near the bees nest. The Kakker is easily the size of a man’s hand and its venom is deadly. Probably a breed of tarantula, this large hairy creature will be very aggressive if cornered. It is possibly because of these creatures rather than the bees that beekeeping has never become common.

The skies remain full of birds, especially sparrows and hawks, though large grey gulls dominate the coast. Wood pigeons are also abundant in the wooded areas, and some very fat, flightless relations to these also share the valleys. While their meat is a staple of the Reddown diet it is also considered a delicacy when properly prepared. The smaller farms and towns also keep chickens and turkeys, and often these get away and go wild.

Notable Individuals

Earl of Galastry; His Highness Sedric Daultin
The current Earl of Galastry is Sedric Daultin, Chairman of the Council and bearer of the Galastry standard. Sedric is the central power of all of Reddown and he knows it, and while he has no real desire to exploit this position (as well as being very aware of the consequences of such an act) he none the less feels proud and a little smug at this. Sedric came to his Earldom as the eldest son of his line. His father Willam died in his fifties and Sedric assumed the mantle as smoothly and graciously as any can remember. Groomed for his position from a young age, he was sent to study under an entire staff of professional tutors at the university in Southaven when he was only five years old. Here Sedric excelled, and proved intelligent and able at any academic task his masters set him, he proved especially skilled in diplomacy and negotiation. Seven years later he entered the service of the Kirshire cavalry forces and served as their commander until his father’s death. Since then his rule has been even-handed and able, and Galastry has grown like it hasn’t in generations. Rumor links Sedric politically to half a dozen of the most prominent figures on the isle.

Dowager Lady of Sherevon; M’Lady Jarien Vaun
The Lady Vaun’s power in Reddown cannot be denied. Although the mantle of Earldom of Sherevon is carried by her twenty year old son Earl Shannon Vaun most who are not vehemently opposed to the possibility realize that Jarien is the real ruler of the Earldom and she sits at his right hand in council meetings. Lady Vaun married into the family from a line of wealthy steaders, but her husband was ill when they married. Still in a decade of marriage she bore him five sons and two daughters before he became too ill to leave his bed for over a year and finally passed on. Jarien had always been a canny organizer and planner, managing her father’s steading for many years before her marriage. She placed her eldest son on the throne in order to avoid the issue of her gender, but has directed his every action from the first day of his rule. She makes no real secret of this and all the other powers recognise, if not like, the situation. Now closing her sixth decade in the world, he mind is as sharp as ever and she spends much of her time working to counteract her expansionist neighbors, particularly Galastry and Barven’s, influence in her lands, much to their individual rulers chagrin.

Earl of Forthest; His Lordship Martel Forthest
Martel is advancing in his middle years, but his demeanour suggests far more years than he has lived. He is a wise and noble man by all accounts. A gentleman and a scholar, he is soft-spoken and generally a little distant and disinterested. Martel was born to a father who never left his library and a mother whose opium addiction was the gossip of an entire realm. He was their only child. Despite this he prospered and studied hard with the monastic order of the scintillating hand. Here he transcribed books and learned the scholarly arts, and it was from great tomes of history that he learned diplomacy and all he knows about rulership.

Earl of Marak and Barven; His Lordship Pieter Tolbren
Tolbren is an ambitious man, and to his credit his peers have not realized yet that that is a very dangerous thing. Tolbren was brought up in sight of the quickest growing region of all Reddown, knowing that when his land came to him it would be greater than he saw it now. He was the eldest of two sons, and his father groomed both with a ruthless efficiency and proud love. Pieter learned all things from trade and war to diplomacy and religion. While he was not a prodigal student he proved able and had a distinct finesse for quickly taking advantage of even the worst situation. When his father passed the domain on to him and retired to serve as his advisor Pieter, aided by his father and his brother Lander, began to take the domain in new directions.

The Iron Mage
The mysterious Iron Mage serves as court magician at Daultin. No one has ever seen him without his voluminous grey robes or the huge, horned iron helm and gauntlets he wears, but with these he towers a monstrous seven feet tall and his low voice rasps through the grills in his helm. He is an imposing presence and his channeling powers are undeniable, he calls himself the greatest war-mage on the isle, and few armies will go to the field if they hear he stands opposed. As well as having magical powers this monstrous figure is also capable of felling most warriors, either by some fell enchantment or simply by skill he is a near unequaled swordsman, and his great double-handed sword seems to scream with a terrible voice as he swings it.

Understandably the court of Reddown, and the council of Earls are wary of this towering, implacable magician, but thus far he has served loyally and without any seeming guile or unseen motive and despite a demeanor that in every way suits his adopted name, and the absolute mystery of his past, his real name or even his appearance, the Iron Mage has given no indication that he is anything but a loyal servant of the Earl’s Council upon which he sits.

Culture


Social Etiquette

Reddown is a land of etiquette and conduct, even more so in the Earldoms where the lands are old, and the people rigidly fitted into their class and devoutly religious. Most important to etiquette here is to know how to properly address and behave in the presence of your superiors. Simple respectfulness is not always enough, and even when people are satisfied by it they are seldom pleased. It is important to know the correct terms of address, and to understand how deeply to bow dependent upon the station of whom you address in order to avoid causing insult. Classes are clear, there are rulers in the form of the Earls, minor nobles in the forms of steaders who generally take the title Lord or Master, freemen and on the bottom of the heap serfs, though more progressive areas prefer to refer to them as peasants.

Another important part of etiquette is hospitality. People are bound to keep their superiors in the best fashion in which they are able. Thus a trade station will always have a room, free of charge, for a travelling steader and an Earl is welcome wherever he goes within his domain, and generally in others, to stay as he pleases and take full advantage of a host’s resources. Freemen in the service of an Earl also are treated with the utmost respect and hospitality, and should be welcome wherever they go. It is considered very bad face to turn away a guest, and even worse to turn one out, and these could come with retribution if it is within the guest’s power. The people will generally try to enforce their system of class on visitors in order to ascertain how to behave around them, to varying results.

Arts and Entertainment

The common folk of the Earldoms have little time for entertainment or art, but twice a year they hold a festival. The day of veneration is held on the longest day of summer. It is a day of feasting and performing special ritual dances that re-enact events from the seizing of the world from the giants by the faces of the Dioune to the landing of the Ral and the end of the Siele wars. Generally a nobleman presides over these proceedings, and at the end of the night one of the young people is chosen to make an offering to divh from the people as thanks for the year’s prosperity. The other festival of the year is a more understated occasion. A day of rest and feasting honoring the day Shaenian died. Since this event coincides with the end of the calendar year it is also used to see out the old year and bring in the new in an orderly manner. Generally this event is held communally by the lower classes and overseen by a priest, but the steaders and Earls tend to celebrate with their families.

Freemen and serfs with too much time on their hands play short horns, made from hollowed logs called cloister-horns after the hills where they originated, or sing. The cloister horns are similar to a didgeridoo, but the sound is lower and generally a rough wooden sphere is used to block the end and make a reverberating sound. They also play a domino like game based on the bone dominos loved by the noblemen. These are made of wood and have only three symbols to match, in order to make this more difficult the game is played on a small board five by five pieces in size, and the loser is the man who cannot place a piece because space is unavailable.

Among the nobility common pastimes include playing dominos and Othello, though many noblemen also breed haws or hounds for hunting or trade among one-another. Many are the prized kennels throughout the land. Noblewomen are left to weave tapestries and rugs for their homes. Some also paint, but the clay based paints and canvases used are both rare and expensive. Also the playing of the harp or lyre is considered fine pastimes for the upper portions of society. Reading is left to scholars and priests, and few works of poetry or fiction are common here.

The noble houses also each have a day in which they celebrate the birth of their founder or the founding of their Earldom, however these are normally occasions for grant banquets at court, and the commoners seldom know anything about them beyond the fine carriages that roll into town bearing velvet clad passengers.

Diet

Most of the Earldoms are self-sufficient when it comes to food. They are all proud to be able to feed themselves in whatever speciality they produce, be it corn and wheat or foul or deer and rabbit. Generally a common meal will always be based on a thick, grainy bread. Breakfasts will be supplemented with egg or blackberry jam. Lunch is generally the largest meal of the day, and may include cheese, whatever meat is locally available, possibly dried if lunch is taken to work with labourers, otherwise cooked. Supper generally includes boiled turnips or pickled onions and is had directly before dinner. The bread is sometimes heated and again cheese is common.

The moneyed and those living in the cities of the Earldoms eat slightly differently to their provincial countrymen. They tend to eat a lot of preserves, and have several kinds of cheeses and often eat pies, both meat and fruit. Pastry sticks, jam and honey are considered the mark of a good meal and are generally had with a local port.

Fashion and Dress

The serfs of the Earldoms wear jerkins belted at the waist and leggings of soft leather, and caps and shoes of rougher leather. In rough weather they wear heavy felt shoes and hooded coats or stout capes. The women wear linen skirts and short sleeved laced shirts. Freemen dress similarly, occasionally in tabard and hose. Colour is a foreign concept to most of the people of the Earldoms. Merchants and travellers will sometimes wear a broad-brimmed hat and a poncho over their clothes in extreme weather conditions or when travelling long distances.

Steaders and members of the Earl’s family wear gowns trimmed with fur or embroidered, hose, surcoats and woollen or linen shirts. The younger members of the nobility tend to wear polished leather boots, hose and doublets. Members of an Earl’s family will nearly always wear a surcoat in his family’s colours. Many also wear a sword or dagger or both, but it is more for show than function in most places. Women wear low cut gowns and wimples, and use silk or velvet and clothing is embroidered or touched with fur or trim. Hair in all classes is worn long, men wearing their hair at shoulder length and women not cutting theirs at all unless they have to. The men are generally clean-shaven and wear their hair loose, the women braid their hair and often tie or braid ribbons into it. Elder men wear full beards, but this is generally a sign of age and is not considered fashionable. Local people see the long moustaches of their eastern neighbours as barbaric.

Religion

The people of Reddown are devoutly religious, and while religion does not play a major part in their day-to-day life they are always very aware of the presence and moods of their divh. Local religion says that the Divh of the Dioune: Aliel the child Divhi and Koroth the liberator. To the people here the Dioune is the same divine essence embodied in a similar style, their divhi is a single being who takes on two aspects depending upon what task he/she is performing. In this way, to venerate one is to venerate both. Koroth and Aliel freed the world from oppression from the giants, who were led by the two-headed beast Ettin. They then sent their sarith, Hanna, to lead and guide their chosen race to various parts of the world, and her fifth tribe came to Ahlonia, where they would grow powerful and prosperous and defeat their foes, the Siele, religion refers to them as Terenshee, or wood-devils, and they were the servants of the giants in the time before they fell. The divhi then ascended to Paras, their great hall in the sky where those they most favour join them when they are done in the world.

The giants are the lords of the earth and the underworld, and they have a kingdom under the ground while divh rules the skies. In this way everything earthly is caused by the power of the giants mining under the ground, and barren land is where they mine close to the surface. Weather and fertility is the place of the sky, thus for the sake of their very livelihoods the people are aware that they must court one or both aspects of their divh to survive, because to descend below the earth to the realm of the giants to hide from divh means sure death. Offerings and rituals to try and sway the mood of divh, or to try and influence which face looks upon you are common, and families each burn a candle at their local shrine as a beacon to the divh of their presence so as not to be forgotten.

After death people believe that one of three things can happen. Either a person who has done great service to the divh will be taken into Paras and made a sarith, and will sit with the divh and the other sarith, or the soul is broken up into the winds and blows into a new vessel when a child is born. Particularly evil people whose souls are tainted cannot be restored to the wind because of their corruption, so they are sent to the underworld to labour for the giants. It is the underworld philosophy that places so much dependence on goblyns as miners. They are seen as less than men, and thus the giants do not need or want them for labour so it is safe for them to get close to the giant’s domain.

People do not attend regular services, but rather go to a priest for guidance or to sanctify and look for divh’s blessing over important decisions or events in their lives. They are required only to spend an hour of their day at any time that suits them at their shrine in prayer and contemplation, and priests council that keeping a beacon lit for your family always at these shrines is a good way to remind the divh you exist, because they are so far away. Many wealthier houses keep their own priest and hold prayer services at which they all come together at one time to pray for a single thing in the hope that their voices will be more loudly heard together. Prayer consists of doing everything possible to attract attention. Chanting and banging gongs, and making huge bonfires are the most common things. Families will do the same thing with their local priest, but only when they really need to unite their spiritual voices over a birth or death or some such other momentous event.

Priests in Reddown society are much respected as scholars and advisors, but are by no means afforded any spiritual nature, they are simply the men who have trained to know the divh best. Many of the greatest priests are thought of as living sarith however, and thus are treated much like holy icons, because it is understood that their divh is always watching them. The priesthood here always go about in ceremonial vestments of some sort, normally extending to the wearing or grey or light blue robes and hooded cloaks and they shave of their heads so as to more easily let the divh see their thoughts. Women are not welcome in the priesthood despite the depiction of Aliel as a little girl, but in monistic orders they may serve as acolytes to the priest, however they seldom shave their heads, and where they do they leave a single braid. The priesthood fills the academic role in society, and their house priest tutors most children of noble birth.

Transportation

The land in the earldoms is a patchwork of fields broken by low fences and raised roads. These are narrow and mostly layers of smooth coastal stone and clay built up on a granite base. Because of the rarity of horses here they need no be perfectly even, because the largest animal to travel on them is usually a pack mule. Main roads, and those that nobility are likely to progress down, are far wider and more suited to horse and trap traffic. However if they have no load to carry most people travel on foot. Serfs only travel within their stead, so usually walk, accompanied by oxen for large loads. Other travellers use mules, especially between steads. The only people who need to move fast are the soldiers or the messengers and agents of the Earls, and these men often have horses. To be a cavalryman in the army, and have your own horse is a great honour and responsibility, and only the greatest can aspire to this position.

Those who travel long distanced will usually use a trap pulled by either a pair of mules or a horse. The Earls travel in opulent carriages, which can only be obtained at the stables, and each stable has it’s own specific style of carriage as well as unique breed of horse. These two are designed to accompany each other for best results. Overland travel off roads is dissuaded, as generally people end up falling into pitfalls or peat bogs, or being mistaken for vagrants trying to avoid the authority of local brute squads.

Trade Stations

Trade stations, sometimes called way stations, serve as towns in the populous areas of the Earldoms. They are an area rented by one or several freemen that serves as marketplace, inn and traders post all at once, and generally they are the only area that could be called a ‘town’ among the steads, especially in Sherevon, Galastry and Forthest where there is little or no un-used or un-owned land left.

Generally a way station consists of four major buildings; the inn, kitchen and taproom are all combined into one, and generally also houses all resident staff and has anywhere between four and eighteen private rooms available to rent, as well as a large common room where patrons may rest cheaply. There is usually a barn for any pack animals, or transport travellers bring with them, and this also usually houses at least one messenger, who runs, or occasionally rides a pony, to other nearby way stations with messages and parcels for a small fee. There is always an open-air marketplace, generally packed with tents, where travelling peddlers and merchant caravans stop during their circuit of these stations. Sometimes resident traders will also set up a small but permanent stalls where they deal with merchant caravans, though these are more common in either areas that produce more exotic goods or small areas where merchant caravans won’t stop for long periods. Among these there will nearly always be a permanent smithy run by a freeman smith, where general maintenance of traveller’s traps, shoeing of horses and similar things are done. In smaller steads this smithy will often service the farm equipment and serfs too, in larger ones the stead has its own smithy. Finally, most of the way stations in Sherevon and many in Galastry keep their own granary for trading with caravans that travel west, or to sell back to the stead in times of poor harvest.

Government


Legal System and Enforcement

The law of the Earldoms is actually quite simplistic. Cases tried by steaders and landholders when the crime is done against their property; that is their serfs or their lands or chattels. They may demand compensation, normally from another steader in an agreed upon amount or take the case to their local Earl or the council of Earls if nothing can be mutually decided upon. The death sentence is rare because steaders will seldom demand the blood of a fellow, and serfs are considered a commodity, so it is senseless to destroy them, however transfer of people, stock or land is common. Among the freemen they follow the same system, except that they cannot dispute the verdict of a steader. When a freeman commits a crime against another freeman they will go to their local stead and apply to it’s lord to try their case, though this is seldom beneficial for anyone but the steader, so it is more favourable for freemen to settle their differences among themselves. In cities the steader is replaced by a Magistrate employed by the local Earl, he will generally charge a small fine from the losing party forr his services. Only one Earl has ever been convicted of a crim, and only the council can ever try their piers.

To enforce the law is left up to the steaders. Generally they will employ former soldiers as task mastewrs, who ensure that serfs are doing their jobs and keep the peace in local way stations. In times of lawlessness this taskmaster will raise what is called a brute squad. Basically he plants the steader’s family arms, or whatever he uses to distinguish himself in the centre of the settlement and armed men flock to it. Mostly the rewards don’t go far beyond the opportunity to sieze goods or attack neighbours who have angered the party, but most serfs see it as their duty to answer this call. Sometimes the steader will offer extra rations or similar reward if incentive is necessary. In the cities there will generally be an entire guard, employed by the magestrate, usually from retired soldiers.

The worst punishment a man can receive is demotion to serf in the service of whomever he wronged. Essentially he becomes the property of the party he committed a crime against. In many situations the steader will then exercise his right of life and death and kill him, or sometimes sell him his freedom for most or all of his property or some similarly massive price. Generally only crimes such as murder fetch this punishment. The Earls have power of life and death over all their subjects, and thus can kill indescrimately and enforce their will with their armies as and when they feel wronged. Many a lineage has ended when it’s household has been hauled into the local way station by soldiers and summarily executed.

Political System

Reddown is a simple and very feudal state. The Earls were the origional warriors who led their people to conquer the lands west of the Forest, and the current Earls are their heirs and inheritors. They split their lands between loyal vassals, who became the first steaders, but subsequently steads have been broken between sons or portions have been sold, so that farmsteads are much smaller than they were. The rest of the settlers were in the service of these lords and worked their lands for them. They profited from whatever these lands did and made their living from these. The various Earls formed together in a council, formed of the original seven founding Earldoms, but since membership has changed somewhat, still the number remains seven. The only way for a steader to achieve something outside his territory is to apply to the council of Earls, and he answers to them on all matters legal and to settle debates between himself and his neighbours. The income of the Earls was therefore secured because many steaders would make them expensive gifts or supply funds for their projects. In addition the steaders loyalty was assured because the Earls controlled the armies and their outposts, which both protected the steads and made open rebellion unthinkable.

In addition to their basic powers the Earls have certain distinct powers within their realms. They general seize the land’s major non-food resource, for the most part forestry, as solely theirs to licence, and then charge for the issuing of such licences. Often they would not make their own ventures into this buisiness but instead thery would lisence out to particularly powerful or ambitious steaders to log and mill in their own lands. Some great companies have grown in this way, with a single steader logging several steads with the permission of his Earl and his neighbours. The Earls grew fat off men seeking their favour, be it to sway their decision on a matter of debate, grant him newly conquered land or give jhim lisence to log the earl’s forests, or even to demand fewer troops be levied in steads of great prosperity where serfs were valuable, or sometimes to not order the steader’s sons into military service, as it is his right to do to any subject.

Military

In the four boarder Earldoms standing professional armies are kept by the four Earls. These payed professionals, if accepted into the army, become freemen and are payed for their service, generally a gold crown upon signing up and another when they leave the service. In other lands levies are raised in wartime, or mercenary groups are invited into the land and offered work. While it is naive to think that there aren’t already mercenaries in Reddown they are not simply considered vagrants in wartime and are offered work. For the most part Earls also keep small personal retinues at all times, of no more than a few hundred soldiers. Any Earl may enlist serfs into military service to form levies, and often freemen enlist in the army for the money, skilled blacksmiths or fletchers fetching an even better price when hired. The army serves for its bed and meals, not for any formal pay, and for the opportunity for distinction and advancement.

There are three major divisions in the military of Reddown. Infantry carry pikes, footman’s maces and round-shields, and wear a combination of leather and chainmail, they form the backbone of Reddown’s armies. Skirmishers, who always have bows, and generally carry shortswords and wear leather armour, assist them. They range ahead, fire on an enemy and then retreat, drawing the foe into the infantry. Finally cavalry ride at the heart of the infantry. They wear full chain and carry boar spears, horsemen’s maces and shields. Horses are rare and expensive, so they are generally few and elite, and are extremely well and regularly paid. Any army going to the field will be roughly one cavalryman to every twenty infantry to every twelve skirmishers or similar. Levies fight on their own with whatever arms and armour they can rustle up for themselves. They are used to cover the flanks of the infantry and cover the retreat of the skirmishers. While the Earls recognise the importance of these men’s survival to the economy of Reddown, their generals tend not to, and so it is uncommon for levies to take the field unless the battle cannot be won without them.

Languages


The language spoken by the men of Reddown is the same one that every landsman on the Isle speaks. Called Ahlonian by most scholars and outsiders, the people here have no real name for it, as it is all they know, but often refer to it as trade-tongue or all tongue. The goblyns and siele call it simply the language of men. In Siele man and liar have similar meanings, so the siele in effect call the human language ‘lies’. The language is based on the ancient Ral, and most of its words have their origins in the Ral language, so much so that in effect it is just a dialect of Ral and anyone speaking Ral is likely to understand and be understood by an Ahlonian. Many of the ancient holy texts are written in High Ral, and priests and scholars of the origional histories are all farely fluent in this language, with services and prayers being given in High Ral. The written form of Ahlonian uses the Ral alphabet less a few of the common-sound characters that Ral has. Like Ral it has roots in the ancient shared language of men.

Technology

Architecture and Construction

There are four major structures encountered in Reddown; manor houses, serf villages, churches, and forts. These all differ in materials and construction. Serf villages tend to be low wooden shacks made of logs. Milled timber is rare. They are usually two room buildings with heavy doors and shuttered windows and a stone fireplace if they are designed for habitation. Furnishings are made from the offcuts used to build the house, and usually consist of nothing more than a table and a few stools and perhaps a cot. The roves are either shingled or thatched depending upon region.

The manor houses of steaders tend to be single storey, sprawling affairs made of light grey stone taken from the coast. While the windows are usually shuttered some larger ones have glass, and coloured or textured glass is considered an indication of prosperity. The rooves are tiled and there is a stone hearth in every bedchamber or living room. They tend to be modelled around a central hallway, which leads from a entryway into an atrium, and all rooms come off this hall or the rooms at either end. Churches tend to be low timber buildings with a commonroom and a vestry. They are essentially shelter for shrines and have no real alter like those of the east. Usually the roof will be shuttered so as to let the smoke of the candles out when it becomes overpowering.

Forts are squat structures, usually of darker stone quarried from the cloisters. They usually have three baileys and a tall keep, as well as stables and a chapel in the second baley. Their walls get higher the further in from the main gate they get, so that the second bailey overlooks the first and the third the second and the keep overlooks everything. They will sometimes have a mote and drawbridge, though more commonly they just have stake-filled trenches.

Medicine

The convents of Aliel and her devotees serve as centres of healing in Reddown. For simple injuries generally the matriarch of a family will know enough to deal with most injuries, however when someone becomes sick they and a family member will generally make a pilgrimage to the nearest convent. The priests of Aliel study and practice spiritual healing in several forms, but are also relatively adept at herbal and surgical practices.

When a patient arrives the priests will generally isolate them in a meditation cell, where they will listen to windchimes, burn scented candles or perform whatever activity the priests feel will encourage medatitive closeness to the Dioune. The priests use steam rooms and herbal wraps and brews to cure most diseases or injuries, and dress wounds or set breaks with reasonable competency and have a special affection for an oil made from olives, rose hips and cloves with which they anoint the sufferer.

Common ailments such as minor breaks and wounds or cold and flu are treated as best as possible and then allowed to take their course and either heal or worsen to the point of death. Generally they are isolated in the meditation cells, which keeps disease from spreading. More complex ailments such as leprosy or pox are given the same treatment, but recovery is considered an act of divine intervention rather than due to any curative measures on the part of the priests. Also a disease known as the weeping pox strikes at least one stead each summer, and while fatality is not guaranteed only the most robust are likely to make a recovery. For the more dire cases either the family will isolate the victim in a barn or similar until death or the priests send them to the black cells where they are encouraged to make peace with the Dioune and prepare themselves for the next life.

Daily Living

In the Earldoms farming is at its most advanced and prosprous on all Ahlonia, its fields and steads have been yealding crops for centuries. An ox or a team of serfs is used to pull the plow. Harvesting is done by hand. Crops available for export generally travel a short distance by ox cart to the waystation, where they are sold to merchant caravans for transport to larger markets. For local consumption there are vegetable gardens and fruit trees. Fruit, however, is often turned into cider for export or winter use. Berrys, nuts and anything else eatable are also gathered when available. These subsidiary crops keep the serfs busy most of the time, but the stead’s main crops only require a few weeks intense labor at planting and harvesting time. Farmland is treated with animal manure, and allowed to remain fallow every second or third year to keep the land fertile. When fallow, a field is usually planted with beans that restore the lost nutrients in the soilas well a yeilding another eaily preserved crop. The most notable advance technologically speaking is the mould-board plow. Its design allows six or more oxen, or a team of up to twelve serfs to pull a plow and break up virgin ground, or the heavy, clay-laden soils typical of northern Ahlonia. In The Earldoms, the ideal farmstead size for a family is a "yardland" (24-30 acres) in size. Those farmers possessing a yardland are usually able to work their land efficiently enough to feed themselves and prodice a surplus for sale.

The Well of Adima

In the eighth century HC a great plague called the chill death came upon the lands of Reddown. This terrible ailment left its victim fozen and shivering in even the greatest heat, the priests were confounded. The priestess Adima strove to treat the illness but nothing she did was enough, then her own dear brother fell to the plague. In desperation Adima forsook all company and luxury to wander the wilds in contemplation of a cure. The kind eyes of Aliel looked down upon her and pitied her people, and so she appeared to Adima in a dream and told her that she would find a cure in the water of a special spring in a clearing in the deepest forest. And so Adima went where she was told and found the spring, and from its crystal waters Adima drew but a single vial. Then she returned home to her cloister. Once home she poured the vial into the well, and all who drank from the well were miraculously cured of their every illness. The chill death vanished from the world, never to return, and while the well was full it cured every malady of any faithful son of Aliel to drink from it. Sadly only a few decades later Adima died, telling no one of the spring’s location, and soon after the well dried up, leaving this miracle to legend.

Economy


Trade in the Earldoms

Trade is actually very minimal. Most steads are totally self sufficient, and are content simply to exist and prosper in an insular fashion, but the only commodities in short supply are metal and stone. While steaders must apply to the Earl to log their lands, they are usually able to purchase the right to take enough to keep their steads running, but anything mined or quarried is a rare and valuable resource. Shornhelm is producing a little under what the nation requires from their newly opened goblyn mines, and small quarries in Sherevon have been liscenced by the Earl for generations.

For more complex goods, merchant caravans travel all the major roads, usually in designated circuits. These small merchant companies will unusually make a circuit of the land in the autmn/winter period of the year, trading farming equipment, milled timber, pots, pans, raw wool, live stock and other commodities that most steads can’t produce for themselves. They will usually barter these for food, which they can use to suplament those steads who’ve had bad seasons or sell when they return to the city in which they’re based. Usually they will stick to major roads unless they know of a large stead off the highways, and so those steaders wishing to encounter a caravan outside their lands will often stay with neighbours in order to trade with the caravan. Thus steaders will often have a winter festival to celebrate the arrival of the caravans and of their neighbours with feasting and dancing and music. Generally this is called a market festival. In return for their hospitality host steaders will take a small portion of any of the goods bartered. This makes the role of caravan master a very favourable one because he is an honoured guest wherever he goes, but if his caravan’s goods ever become unreliable the steaders will quickly adopt a new merchant to provide for them.

Money

Reddown adopted the Sigard trade bit, a small pewter coin issued by Sigard hundreds of years ago when they adopted the new currency. It’s value is directly dependant on the prosperity of the government, so that the bit can increase or decrease in relitive value depending on the wealth of the Earldom in which it is minted. While the Earls all favoured recalling all their gold in favour of issuing these to ensure that international trader is their department alone traders did not like this so much, and steaders were uncomfortable swapping their gold for pewter, so the only place that the bits really appear in is cities with freemen, most of the steaders operate in the ancient Reddown gold crowns which they simply did not exchange, or more commonly by barter. While most traders prefer gold those in the cities will accept trade bits, but they will generally lower the price for those paying in gold.

The Reddown crown is a tiny coin roughly a centimetre across made from five-part brass to one-part gold. It is stamped with the arms of the Earldom in which it is minted on one side and unmarked on the other. Thanks to the rarity of gold counterfeiting remains uncommon. The Siagrd bits are easier to copy. They are twice the size of crowns, and bear the arms of the Earldom of minting on one side like the crown, but they also have the arms of the city of Leirkist on the flip side. While counterfeiting is relitivly simple it remains uncommon, the concept just doesn’t seem to have caught on. Because they are just pewter they commonly have holes punched in the middle so that people can carry them on cords around their necks.

Today in the Earldoms…


The Iron Mage remains the topic of heated debate among all those in Reddown who can afford to spend their time in such speculation. Firstly, as clarification, the students of the Warlock are not wont to boast, the Iron Mage probably is the greatest war wizard the Isle has seen since the fall of the Siele, maybe ever. He carries the ancient sword Sythdranion, which he took with him from the warlock’s tower. The Siele King of Sheil-Mieal once wielded this weapon, and among the Siele it has quite a reputation. Rumours round Daultin talk of secret meetings between the Earl Barven Pieter Tolbren and the Iron Mage in the mage’s tower, though few can say what such liaisons would gain either man.

In Kirshire and Darrenshire goblyn slavers have been raiding as deep as the farmsteads of the Earldom, and missing loggers and trappers are also being attributed to goblyn activity, even soldiers and scouts aren’t immune to their predations. There could only be a few things going on, the first is that the goblyns need labour either in preparing for a massed offensive or building a fortress or earthwork on the boarder; or there is a new goblyn tribe in the region, who are taking slaves at a monstrous rate. Matel Varris, a scout in the Kirshire irregulars, is one of the only people to escape these goblyns, and he reports slaves being taken out in twenties and thirties to some unknown location the goblyns call the ‘king’s mine’, but only half or less of their number returning. Whatever’s going on they are using slaves at an alarming rate, and the Earls of Kirshire and Darrenshire are being pressured to investigate and give the ir people the security they promise.

Meanwhile, just to the north in Shornhelm the Earl’s allies the Blood Hand could pose a threat whenever they wanted to. Their leader, Gata Skar is a close lieutenant of the Goblynking, the one creature that the other boarder Earldoms see as their greatest foe. While it has earned Shornhelm a tenuous peace with the goblyns many people whisper that the Blood Hand are using their position as allies to spy on the Earls, or worse, to mass their forces behind enemy boarders to make a quick and decisive takeover right under the Earl’s noses.

The fall of Marratharn has been looming for all of Earl Boer’s life, but it draws all the nearer. His territory shrinks by the month as the goblyns of the Burned Stump march ever forward. For every man who falls a family weeps, but for every gobliy that falls another comes to avenge him. From his window at Marratharn Keep Boer can see the smoke from the goblyn’s campfires. Soon he knows that smoke will rise from the ruins of his ancestral home, and try as he might all the strength of Marratharn is not enough to stem the green tide that descends upon him. Recently the Earl made a secret trip by ship to the Tresser Veldt. Whoever noted his passiage quickly spread the word, and now the council at Daultin is wondering if one of its own Earls is looking outside Reddown’s boarders to save his home and his people. If so, the forging of such an alliance without the council’s permission is tantamount to high treason.

While the armies of Marratharn fall in muddy fields the armies of Galastry seem to be growing. Earl Sedric has been marshalling a huge force of hevily equipped and well-trained infantrymen in Daultin. They have been added to the city guard, but regularly drill in the hills outside the city. While he says that they are simply city guard most people whisper that Sedric has raised these seven or more infantry cohorts because he is expecting something. Whether this is siege by the Bloody Hand, or by Marratharn’s conquerors or by Kommeron loyalists or some other force none can say, but clearly Earl Daultin knows more than he is telling. Not that that comes as a surprise to anyone.

The Vaun line is generally considered one of the most powerful and secure in the Earldoms, it is certainly the most ancient, but recently a man has arisen in Sherevon claiming to be Oern Vaun’s son and heir. Martel Vaughn has been a cavalry commander in the service of the Earl of Darrenshire for the past twenty years, and can identify his late mother; a courtier in Oern Vaun’s court, whom he claims told him that Oern was his father on her death bed. He has come to Sherevon to take his place in the family, but Lady Vaun cast him from her court in a fury. Now it seems that he and his loyalists are considering pressing his claim right to the throne of Sherevon if rumour is anything to go by, because he has budged not an inch from the ancient capital, and every day more retired soldiers from the boarders arrive. Of course this may be a coincidence.

Finally Roäk-n-taka, the Zmaj of Ahlonia lives in the hills on the far northern coast of the Earldoms. For the past seventy years he has not been sighted once, and he is suspected to be asleep in his lair in one of the caves in the outcropping coastal cliffs of the north, or even dead. Lately, however serfs have reported seeing a dark winged shape moving about at sunset over the coast. Perhaps the Zmaj has awoken, if so he will surely be hungry.

The Southern Isle of Ahlonia
The Earldoms, The Storm Sea Coast, Southaven, The Tresser Veldt, The Heartlands, The Roughlands, The Maethian Arm, The Vale of Mists, The Forest Kingdom
Director's Miscellany Amenities, Gear & Prices, Professions, Random Encounters, Small Settlement Generator, Supporting Cast Generator