Wynd
intro (WEND)

Tech Code: 5
Governments: The Incorporated Feudal Fiefs of Thalentis and Terris.
Religions: The Temple of the Sun; The Halm Cult; The Dance of Jack-in-the-Green; Lodge Spirit Cults
Industries and Trades: maintain formatting
Major Terrain: Mountain; Wood.
Primary Languages: Ralstaan.
Major Settlements: Ambra Tor, Amwynn's Passage, Brannier, Brock's Demise, Caer Maebhen, Caer Thalen, Craven Gap, Dohlor, Sigar Tor, Terrisholm, Tohl Dorene, Valnier's Watch, Wesgard.

Geography


Physical Geography

Sitting between where the Caperkil Mountains descend to the forest floor and the majestic Kilbyrn Mountains rise out of the living mass of the fringes of the Starwood, Wynd is the first place a traveller from the west sees upon entering Ralstaa overland from Iria, and it's sinister beauty and untameable secrecy are as apparent here as anywhere in the Knives, as is the determination of it's inhabitants, in the stalwart bastions that are their walled cities - basalt islands in a sea of green. The hoarfell downs sit in the pass between the two great mountain ranges, and the two great landsman civilizations, like a no man's land. A rugged divide, filled with long low barrows, and ruined swords buried in rocky soil. Having borders with Cannavin, Balleymoore, Breconn, Cwmbran and ill-kept routes out of Ralstaa into the Confraternities of Llumora, Wynd is a land of great social, political, and geographical diversity. But being largely untamed, it remains a wild and savage extension of the lands to the north.

To the west, where the Caperkils meet the Kilbyrns, the land ascends, often steeply, through rugged barren alpine planes, black volcanic rock strewn everywhere, and only hardy tussocks clinging to the windswept earth. Shale and granite shift and grind underfoot, and the incessant wind can rise from a swift breeze to a shrieking gale in very little time. In the lower elevations, bent beech and oak, rudely misshaped by the winds, hold determinedly to the slope, but higher up the scrub is seldom more than knee high. But though the land may seem barren, it can also be beautiful. Small lakes of perfect turquoise dot the downs, and patches of scintillating white sand occasionally show through the scattered black debris. And in the spring, when the snow capping the majestic mountains that flank the land melts, they overflow into chattering brooks, and short waterfalls that sing of the coming season, and heather and lavender poke their heads above the stone.

In the mountains proper a traveller must be more careful. While the majestic, near vertical pinnacles of the Kilbyrns, forever cowled in pure while, their granite flanks showing green against the sky, their peaks piercing the clouds, may well be impassable. A fortress-wall of pure, native stone, the Caperkils are far less imposing. Lower and more jagged, some broken peaks steam, and some occasionally hurl stone into the air as the earth elementals that rule the land become angry, or joyous. These brown-black mountains have the look of rotten teeth, but they his plenty of sheltered vales and rugged passes, and only in the depths of winter are the lower lands shrouded in grey-stained snowfall. To stand atop the Caperkils and look up to the Kilbyrns is to feel that the creator abandoned these mountains, in favour of some grander ambition, when they were only half complete, and the rock-ugly spirits of this land sorely resent their abandonment.

While the downs are very much Wynd's own, it also borrows terrain from its neighbours. In the south-east the Balley Moore stretches into the heartlands of Wynd, before ascending into the mountains. These rocky, desaturate grasslands roll and churn in the wind, but they have little to conceal, and settlement is more common here. Copses of sparse oak and beech break the monotony of the grasslands, and standing stones and fern-choked grottos create landmarks in an otherwise featureless dry-ocean. But in the north, the sinister Starwood creeps out of Breconn, along the slopes of the Kilbyrns, with patient, palpable, shadowy intent. The woods for the fringe to heart are dense, choked with undergrowth, thorny vines hungry to taste flesh, and whispers that issue from no lips, and though a traveller could pass through the woods to reach the hoarfell downs and points west, it is little wonder that most prefer the rugged ascent up the shoulder of the Caperkils, where they can look down on that black place as they pass.

Political Geography

Wynd has only two major Kingdoms, and while they each claim a large tract of land as their own, they are also both relatively weak, being days from any major routes of trade and further still from any of the great capitols of Ralstaa. House Cairn technically still rules the spirit-worshipping Kingdom of Thalentis (though the current king is not blood kin to the house he rules), once the land of the deposed House Dorene of Kileirey, and House Terreck rules over the militant principality of Terris from the bastion of Caer Maebhen.

Thalentis

Thalentis endures, house Cairn endures, these have long been proud statements to this land. Thalentis might be dwarfed in military might by its neighbours, in population, in wealth, but this small land has an uncanny strength. The walls of its small cities have ever stood against whatever has broken against them, and its caers, and its people, are as unbending as the granite of the mountains. It is then, perhaps, fitting that only from within could Thalentis be felled, for the rise of the treacherous and serpentine Lorrac Uth-Drone is an affront to all Thalentis stands for.

Terris

Assailed by outsiders and beastmen throughout history, Terris is the land of defenders ruled by guardian-princes. With little luxury of prosperity, and little care for the affairs of their neighbours, Terris has done what it must to survive. Its warriors know that to cut the throat of a sleeping foe is a noble act if it saves a warrior for the battle to come. Terris is indeed a land of grim economy, and grisly duty, and its people are a tenacious lot with a frontier mentality and an independent streak. They ask little from their prince, and leave him to hunt the invaders that make their homes too close at hand.

Social Geography

Their exposure to lands to the west may have made the people of Wynd more cosmopolitan than many other Ralstaan Kingdoms, but if this is true then their position in socio-economic backwater has counteracted this benefit completely. What is notable is that the folk of Wynd are possibly the most accepting of strangers and foreigners of all of the provincial Ralstaans throughout the Knives, and for this reason many refugees and travellers have settled in or on the outskirts of the settlements here, and are treated with relative welcome and acceptance, for outsiders to the local lodge. Some have even been allowed to marry into the ledge once they have been living there for a few generations - a great and exceptionally rare honour otherwise.

In Wynd the woods are even more dangerous, if that is possible, than elsewhere in the starwood fiefs, with the passes through the caperkils, and eastern forest swarming with bands of urgrol raiders. Compounded by the usual dangers of the starwood, both mythic and mundane, and even the mighty walls of the tohls of Wynd are sometimes insufficient to protect its citizens. When one considers that for generations the folk of Wynd have lived in the same buildings, often even the same rooms, and it is not surprising that the people are intensely suspicious, and hostile to strangers, or those who seem too individual. They turn to superstition, be it religion, folk magic, or secret faiths practised just out of view of the walls, to protect them as they begin to fear more and more that their rulers cannot.

Because people who dwell within the starwood proper's borders do not leave the safety of their tohls except in the direst of need, most folk provide for themselves, and ample land is put aside in most settlements to provide for their citizens. Short term hunting expeditions, and small livestock kept within the city walls all add to supplying the people, and each extended family manages its own meagre portion of fertile land as best it can - for there is precious else to be had. Most settlements tax surplus heavily, and keep a supply of grain, smoked meats, preserves and the like on hand to be given as charity in leaner months or tho those whose supplies have met misfortune. However craftspeople are also common, with comparatively little menial labour available, and many find that these isolated settlements turn out specialized crafts, unique to each settlement, of astounding quality and detail. Meanwhile mercenary bands find a chilly, but long term home in the blockhouses that line the outer sides of the walls, and more and more young noblemen return from their service at Tohl to drill small parties of professional warriors, paid by the fief to man the walls and patrol the woods.

History


Timeline

c. -1020 D The Ral leave the Isle of Men with the other three last tribes.

0 D Rallah ascends, leaving Ralstaa in the charge of her people.

941 D Voere arrives with the army of Viran Uth-Rallis.

972 D Viran Uth-Rallis dies in Tohl aged seventy-one.

1110 D Carin Uth-Rallis is crowned High King.
1114 D Present Day.

People


Folk of Wynd

Wynd is a wild land, far more rugged and wild than Breconn or Cannavin - in fact it is perhaps the most wild land in all of Ralstaa that is home to landsmen, with Cwmbran and Kentallen Wood both focused entirely in a handful of large, isolated settlements. The people here are almost all of shaeish descent, and live in lodges formed from extended families, and led by elder patriarchs, as their ancestors have for centuries. Churls seldom leave the safety of the lodge, but families are extended enough that this is not problematic. However so perilous are the woods and mountains of Wynd, that people tend to try to live in dense clusters, so that in the event of danger they can gather together. Thus lodges tend to gather in groups around rivers, hilly country, and other places where the forests naturally thin, within a few hours of one another. For the most part people are discouraged from mixing with other lodges, except for the elders of each, but in practice it is impossible to stop incidental meetings, and even youthful indiscretions.

To the shaeish of Wynd the forest is life. Gathering food, hunting, hird for textiles and meat, wood for building and burning, everything they need is gathered from the nearby woods, and to a man everyone is a skilled woodsman. Even in the cities of Thalentis and Terris, away from the lodge free hamlets, people rely on the woods, and while there is a degree of industry necessitated by such dense populations, much of what is sold in the markets is gathered, trapped, hunted or cut in the woods by the hands of skilled, and above all wary woodsmen. Outside of the major cities of Terris, the Uth-Halm kings have lifted the long-standing law against irian settlement, allowing them to settle within the borders of Terris, but never within the city walls. Small irinos outside of Terrisholm and Wesgard allow irian settlers to enter the city for business during the daylight hours, but put them at dire risk when the cities are threatened - and they know and resent this, more than they appreciate the Uth-Halm kings gesture. This means that the irinos are more often than not filled with those irians who have good reason to flee their homes.

Setting Trait (value): name trait

The urgrol of Wynd, just like their western brethren, live roving warbands, led by whichever of their kind is strong enough to rebuff any challenge, and live as hunters, furriers, and most of all warriors. Their culture is a staunchly religious one, devoted to various violent and unforgiving nature spirits. But while urgrol are nomadic, and usually move about after the game they hunt, urgrol mundu are hermetic, tied to holy trees, standing stones and other natural shrines where the urgrol stop to make worship, and leave trophies to earn the favour of the spirits of that place. These sites are hidden throughout the wilds, and woe to any warband that crosses a mundu, for they have the power to place potent curses on those who displease them. Of course, urgrol warlords want their band to be the only band to receive the blessings of any shamans in his range, so often they will mark their territory with trophies and trail signs, and fight bitterly to keep the mundu's shrine in their control, though the shaman will almost never align himself to any one warband. Usually this leaves the urgrol fighting amongst themselves more than they do with the Ral, for they could never hope to overcome even the simplest of Tors, but recently something has amalgamated the warbands of Ralstaa together, and now they are coordinated, and march to bring slaughter and chaos to the forests. Already dozens of free hamlets have been massacred to a man in Terris, and trees of woe - grisly displays of the dead in the branches of dead trees - have begun to appear all through lands on the borders of the Prince's territory. The scourge-drums are beating in he forests, and the locals dread the night when the forests around their homes will fill with the howls of cloven-hoofed warriors.

Flora and Fauna

Truly the silent, dark woods of Wynd and the implacable mountains that ward them, are the beginnings of the ancient and dire starwood. The at once sinister and enchanting forests are made up of maple, oak, ash, pine, birch, juniper, spruce, poplar and other evergreens, with regular stands of towering redwood and majestic fir. The undergrowth in the impenetrable shade below these mighty and twisted growths is made up of thorny creepers - berries, briars, brambles, nettles, moss, and creeping ivy share the ground with large mushrooms, and venomous yellow and red starberries, and wild flowers of such transcendent, radiant beauty as to take the breath away. But the plantlife is not friendly, nor even benign. Violet musk-blossoms release a perfume that will put a man who rests near them to sleep for the rest of his life, serpent ivy will engulf a warm body in a matter of hours should it stay still enough, and lethal poisons are found in the most radiant colours.

Spotted owls, golden eagles, and all manner of falcons circle the skies, fleeing when ikar of griffins pass, leaving squirrels, martens and shrews cowering in the undergrowth. Brown and black bears, and wolves roam the higher grounds of the caperkil foothills, and deer, hird, badgers, and beavers all find themselves prey. Giant wood-roach, and phosphorescent fire-crickets, fairies and all manner of grubs make their homes in the trees, preyed upon by all, and birds teem in the forest canopies. Warblers, thrushes, cuckoos, woodpeckers, magpies, owls, buzzards, grouse, pheasants, turkeys, fat wood pidgeons, and partridges, terns, buntings, herons, egrets and countless others form a riot of bird song at dusk and dawn, and they too offer prayer to the sun divhi rallah. Meanwhile giant venomous centipedes wait to make a meal of any who fall or misjudge their dives for prey, and liar serpents steal into their nests, and leave their own young to make a meal of the unsuspecting birds. The rivers see eels, carp, roach, trout, and the finest salmon in the world. But giant, slimy, catfish-like creatures that are all maw and teeth dwell at the muddy bottoms of lakes and deep rivers here, as well as other monstrosities whose descriptions defy belief. Hideous eyeless hagfish and lampreys wait in the shallows, or else grow to gargantuan size, and retreat to the deeps, and leeches and ticks aplenty assail anything foolish enough to think taking a drink is an easy matter.

Hird are kept in massive herds, and must simply suffer the predations of larger flying creatures, because they are the only viable livestock in Wynd. Goats in mountainous regions provide meat and milk, and little else can survive the terrors of the forests. Deer are often encouraged to run near to settlements, for huntsmen make the most of their hides and meat, but too many bring bears and griffins with them, and more often than not it is hard to tell if a griffin or urgrol raid was the fate of some isolated free hamlet by the time its remains are found.

Notable Individuals

His Majesty; King of Thalentis, Lorrac Uth-Drone
The only record of Drone, from whom the steward-king of Thalentis claims descent, has been inexorably stricken from the hall of heroes, and this is perhaps more telling of the character of Lorrac Uth-Drone than words could be. When the King of Thalentis, Carrick Proudhorn Uth-Cairn passed away he left behind his mad wife Gwendolyn, and his young daughter Anna. Lorrac arrived and swiftly persuaded the mad queen to name his regent, impressing her with tales of his wisdom and experience as an advisor to the crowned heads of the east. Then, using his newly acquired influence, Lorrac essentially usurped control of Thalentis from Gwendolyn, even going so far as to name himself King. By the time of Gwendolyn's death, several years later, Lorrac was lord and master in the eyes of the people of Thalentis, but not lawfully in the eyes of the High Kingdom. Now that Anna has come of age however, he seeks to cement his position by marrying the princess. Ancient and bent, cruel, cunning, and avaricious, Lorrac has only one thing to offer Anna as a husband - the kingdom that should have been her birthright.

Her Majesty; Princess of Thalentis, Anna Uth-Cairn
Anna Uth-Cairn is the rightful heir to the fief of Thalentis, but unfortunately it is currently in the firm grip of the usurping steward Lorrac Uth-Drone. Anna, just in her sixteenth year, should not have had the burden of politics thrust upon her at such a tender age. She has not been allowed to attend her paige duty, has not had the honour of her father's acclaim as his heir, and has lived in a household dominated by a tyrannical outsider for close to half of her young life, and now she must tolerate the advances of this aged pretender to her throne. Advances that might be the only way she will regain her ancestral lands short of open warfare. Were Anna not a girl of such strong character and unflinching determination her tribulations might have driven her as mad as her mother. Even now she has moments of violent temper, and courtiers whisper that madness is in the blood.

His Highness; Prince of Terris, Tainian 'Tallsword' Uth-Halm
By contrast to the tumult of Thalentis' court, House Terreckā€™s Prince has a firm hand on his fief. Tainian Uth-Halm's problems are not at his court, but in his lands. Marauding urgrol threaten to completely overrun the wilds of Terris. Tainian was always an admired knight, and a mighty warrior, decorated at tourney, and a celebrated hunter, but Terris is a small fief, poor and thinly settled, and the urgrol are masters of using the shadowy and dangerous woods and the rough terrain of the mountains to their advantage. Now in his middle years, Tainian is ageing prematurely. Old wounds are coming back to haunt him, and his pride in the face of a cunning and highly mobile foe is beginning to ebb. Soon he may look beyond his borders for aid against the warrior-beasts that so plague his ancestral fief.

The Skulltaker, Bozghur Nur'grol
The marked one of the urgrol of the east is the monstrous and cunning Bozghur Nur'grol. Only once in a generation does a chosen one arise to unite the urgrol tribes, and for the first time in memory it is Ralstaa and not Iria that has borne the bloody brunt of urgrol unity. Known to his people as the slaughterer, and the collector of skulls, and he is master of the many trees of woe that now decorate western Terris. Unshakably convinced from childhood that he alone was chosen amongst his entire people, Bozghur was always a tirelessly devout follower of the shamans, and a bloodthirsty and merciless warrior. Eager to adorn his name with glory, he bullied lesser warriors, and killed greater ones as he cut a bloody swathe to the leadership of his tribe, and then engaged in daring, even some urgrol would say foolhardy raids on free hamlets in Terris, massacring entire settlements, and gifting much of what he took to the shamans of the region. It was not long before they lent him their support, and scarcely a year and a half ago, after slaughtering all opposition, Bozghur was anointed. Prince Tainian may not yet know the name of the most terrible urgrol warlord to tread Ralstaa under hoof, but he very soon will.

Today in the Western Gateway…


Daily the biggest news in Wynd regards the movements of Bozghur Nur'grol's forces, though much of what is about is hearsay and rabble rousing, and less is known than is shared in taprooms in the Tohls of Wynd. The latest, however, is that the free hamlet of Althering has gone quiet after an urgrol band was sighted by Terris scouts in the region. While no one has yet come close enough to determine the exact fate of the free hamlet, it seems certain that it is only a matter of time until a survivor or two run into a scout party with yet another story of attack from the wood. And if the woods weren't sinister enough with the roaming raiders, stories have also come out of a massively powerful griffin hunting out of the mountains. Those who have sighted the creature (and there are many) report it may be as much as twice the size of its smaller kin, and pure white. A group of pilgrims travelling to a holy site of spirit worship out of Thalentis report that they even saw the creature locked in battle with a zmaj in the sky above them! There is some evidence that they did indeed show scouts the body of a fallen zmaj where the claim to have seen the battle.

Meanwhile little word has been allowed to escape Thalentis' ancient capitol at Caer Thalen, but word that does come out paints a dark picture of Thalentis under the influence of its ancient and scheming regent. Some claim that Lorrac traffics with agents of the urgrol under cover of night, negotiating which places they will strike unopposed in return for leaving others untouched. Other stories say that he in fact murdered Carrick Uth-Cairn, and yet others say he practises dark magic, and has dealings with evil spirits in the dungeons of Caer Thalen, where he has sealed several cells, refusing any admittance to his secret subterranean lair.

The Knives of Rallah, High Kingdom of Ralstaa
The Shaeish Kingdoms Caldare, Donnaigh, Rhuovaith, Kileirey, Balleymoore, Cannavin, Wynd, Breconn, Coulbaigh
The Lleweith Kingdoms Avalaigh, Haeliard, Lammornia, Branddale, Talladale, Bradenthyr, Tohl
The Starwood Cwmbran, Kentallen Wood, Uerenuell
Tuarvael Castrette, Serlot, Friesse
The Dunsain Kingdoms Byrnham, Blackstone, Craigbyrn, Duncarrick, Strath Gorge, Garynshae, The Clanlands, Aulorn's Gate
Director's Miscellany Amenities, Culture, Gear & Prices, Professions, Random Encounters, Small Settlement Generator, Supporting Cast Generator