A meandering reflection on the
THIRTY YEARS WAR of ARKOLAND
THE EORFÓRIC REGIME
Hunigpew the Elder of the Hunigtoth (?-299)
Aethelban Woe-Hoarder of Hunigpew (260-293)
Aethelfrith the Imprudent of Aethelban (366-402)
Waehara (379) and the 12 Sons of Aethelfrith
Aethflaed the White, of Waehara (336)
THE BÉORFORT REGIME
Ascer of the Hunigtoth (?-271)
Aetrig Hardcleft "Eight Fingers" of Ascer (259-367)
Ishelm of Aetrig (350-402)
Eadric (390) and Ishild (402) of Ishelm
Béorfort and Eorfóric
Rivalry between the fortresses of Béorfort (BEAR-fort) and Eorfóric (your-FOUR-ick) had existed since the birth of the Kingdom of Arko. One hundred and sixty-eight years ago the Kingdom came into being when the High King at Dumnonia of the House of Hart, granted all lands between the rivers Ypswine and Gurthang to Aetrig Eight Fingers of Béorfort, daughter of Ascer Heorthgeneat, for her family's help in driving the Iztani captains from the Realm at the end of the Elder Wars of Empire. But winning the Kingdom of Arko gained Aetrig the lasting enmity of her cousin Aethelban and most of his descendants who settled near the fortress of Eorfóric ever after.
The Death of Aethelfrith and Eadric
In RY 402, the enmity between Béorfort and Eorfóric was made manifest in a kinslaying and war of succession. By 432 the conflict had soured all life and profit in the formerly merry, old Kingdom of Arko!
Queen Íshelm (Ees - Helm) of Béorfort, daughter of Aetrig, had enjoyed an long reign after the very long and prosperous reign of her mother. These classic years of Arkan prosperity and relative peace had cemented the popularity of the east Arkan regime in Béorfort and its sister city Héorot. Yet, in 402, Íshelm had been warned that a plan for her murder was being devised by one or more of Aethelfrith's twelve sons, whether or not Aethelfrith himself was aware. Aethelfrith, son of Aethelban in Eorfóric, had been a powerful and loyal warrior in the rustic west of Arko, though he was well known for speaking his mind at will and infamous for his imprudence.
Íshelm had Aethelfrith’s eldest son, Waehara, imprisoned for an inquisition into the alleged plot, which sent Aethelfrith into a rage and he set out to capture her son, Prince Eadric, as a ransom for his own son. Finding the young prince on an errand in the wild Kathgrach Mountains, Aethelfrith chased him up the witchy slopes of Knockamore with his sons. But at the summit near an ancient stone, Eadric slew Aethelfrith with Caledbolg by hacking off both Aethelfrith’s arms. The sword had gained a reputation and habit for this kind of assault and perhaps thirsted for it. With his uncle bleeding out at the summit of Knockamore, and surrounded by twelve of his enraged sons, Eadric was stricken with a vision of the death of his mother. Plunging the sword into the ancient stone Eadric claimed it wouldn’t be drawn again until a true Queen returned to the Kingdom of Arko. Whereupon the young prince was hacked to death and his parts scattered along the twisting, witchy ridges of Knockamore. The sword could not be drawn by any of the sons and in desperation they left. Caledbolg the Arkan Sword of Destiny, was never found thereafter on Knockamore or anywhere else in that wild changing land.
The Murder of Queen Ishelm & Thirty Years of War
On the evening of the same day of Eadric’s and Aethelfrith’s deaths, Íshelm was poisoned on the throne of Béorfort. Shortly after her funeral the Twelve Sons arrived at Béorfort with a Hartian Army to launch an investigation into her murder, while installing themselves as “stewards of the Kingdom” until a rightful Queen could be found. They set to intimidating many of Íshelm's loyal courtiers into silence and imprisoned several outspokenly loyal lords for Íshelm’s murder and the murder of her young child, Íshild. Other lords loyal to Íshelm fled into the wild mountains of the Kathgrach and further east even into the wild lowlands of the Sahn.
But Íshild the babe was still alive. Íshelm had given birth to the child only a month before. The Queen’s midwives, worried for the life of the child after Íshelm's murder, claimed the poison that had killed her mother has also reached the little princess through her mother’s milk. Instead of burying the child, the shrouded bodies of Íshelm and her grey cat were laid to rest in Thynghaugr near Béorfort, while the baby was whisked away in secret to live with old Aetrig’s allies in the Sahn.
It was unfortunate for the Twelve Sons that Caledbolg had been lost. No rightful ruler of Arko had ever bourn any weapon except Caledbolg. The lack of the Sword of Destiny threw into question whether the sons had any right whatsoever to “steward” the throne, notwithstanding the suspicions of Íshelm’s murder being devised by them. When Waehara had a daughter, the Eorfóric regime named her Queen of Arkoland, but popular support in Béorfort and Héorot never materialized for Aetheflaed the White and so the rule of the Twelve Sons grew despotic.
With the help of the High Throne of Hart in Dumnonia, eastern Arkan lords believed to be loyal to Aetrig and Íshelm were hunted down and murdered and their lands were confiscated. Counter-attacks were organized by lords loyal to Íshelm from the wild eastern lands and many bloody battles were fought and lost by these exiled lords. Many of these lords continued to launch attacks on the Eorfóric regime in Béorfort for thirty years, but the might of the sons was secure in the fortress and often doubly insured by Hartian blade and catapult.
The Sword of Destiny
The Twelve Sons stiffened their resolve to find the sword that would give them the right, as well as the might, to rule uncontested. The sons believed that if they retrieved the Sword of Destiny most of Arkoland would fall behind the rulership of six-year-old Aethelflaed the White, daughter of Waehara. But Knockamore was a wild, sentient and changeable mountain. It's ridges never lead to the same place! With help from a learned noble of the House of Hart, a sage from distant Icénia, the sons believe they had a key to finding a way through the twisting ridges and retrieve the lost Sword of Destiny that killed their father!
But deep in the Sahn, a rustic band of warriors from Kattegut hoped to find the sword first. These warriors took up the search for Caeldbolg after a nághra of their village shared her prophetic dream of a flaming sword. The Sahn-Gliéran villages of Kattegut had an affinity for Aetrig's people after a great land sharing some two hundred years ago and Íshild has been raised in exile in Kattegut these past thirty years, disguised as a young warrior called "Halleck." Her martial skill was revered amongst these wild and friendly people and she learned their ways as well as being tutored in the traditional lessons of an Arkan noble.
Complicating the search for the Sword of Destiny were the Wildervolk from Khulboeddin, the Wojwoda, who's spies had learned of the naghra's dream and traveled a great distance from their icy wastelands in the north to the Kathgrach Mountains and to Knockamore: Hill of the Scattered Limbs. The Wojwoda hired assassins from Sleev Dracha to follow the adventurers from Kattegut hoping to steal the sword if found.
Eventually the sword appeared and was drawn from the rock at Knockamore by Íshild after a confrontation between Wojwoda, the Bracelet of kNights and thw Sahn-Gliéran warband.
With Caled Bold in Íshild's hands, all eastern lands erupted in rebellion. A final assault on Béorfort was launched from Thynghaugr after a curse on Eadric's body was lifted, and Íshild took the throne for the line Aetrig.
The Coronation of Íshild as an Epilogue recorded in a lesson told by the venerable "Auld" Aelfrith of Aethelas, at the University of Heorot-on-Ypswine
"Overwhelmed by ghoulishly enchanted things in the cemetery of Thynghaugr, Princess Íshild recognized the corpse of one of her relatives as it grasped at her and the party fell into a hacking madness. Yet in the frey, one of the party had the sense to make his way into the tomb and place Eadric's skull back onto the frame of his skeleton. This broke the enchantment and spared all in the party a gruesome fate.
The Vicar came out in disbelief and gratitude, his chanters rested from their singing which had been holding the ghoulish curse away from the town for the last eight days! After helping the families of the village rebury their dead, Íshild and the warband from Kattegut met four Arkan lords loyal to the line of Queen Aetrig. These lords were the cousins Fyrdan and Fryg, 7' tall, bearded, badious and bearlike, Loialla another strong Arkan Lord wielding the great blade Thalmandrak - and last but not least a somewhat homely warrior Scyllbur who had the scar of a sneer unfortunately marked on his cheek, and who also seemed the wisest of the four, if not the most well-mannered. Behind these four lords there were 350 warriors ready to back Íshild's claim to the throne of Béorfort under the lineage of Aetrig Hard Cleft.
In any case the townspeople of Arkoland all were fascinated by the Sahn-Gliéran's style of dress and manner of speech and kept remarking that they all looked like warriors out of the mythical stories they had been told in their youth. They could not resist staring at the burly Brûcûk warrior and the half-Arakun twins in absolute fascination.
The next sunny morning... Thynghaugr had not seen sun for over a week... all marched down into the valley and to the glorious city of Béorfort, seat of the throne of The Kingdom of Arko. Scyllbur had advised that Aethelban brother of Aethelfrith now claimed the throne for himself. If you remember, Aethelfrith "Prince of Peace" was slain by Eadric with Caledbolg just before Eadric plunged the blade into an ancient stone and was hacked to bits by Aethelfrith's angry sons.
But Aethelban brother of Aethelfrith was on business in Éorfort far in the west of Arkoland. Éorfort had close ties with the Hartian powers of the city of Icénia. Éorfort had also been something of an independent power separate from the rest of the Kingdom of Arko and was allied to the Dumnoni families of the House of Hart though marriage and political interest.
With Athelban gone, this meant his steward -The Newt - was currently sitting on the throne and holding court for Athelban's affairs. It was Scyllbur's idea that even though the armies loyal to Aetrig were small in number, they should proceed straight to the court in Béorfort and remove the steward. Scyllbur maintained all would recognize Caledbolg in the hands of Lord Íshild and back her ascension to the throne. From here they could solve the problem of holding onto Béorfort when Athelban was sure to send his army of 5,000 warriors to take it back. Athelban's Hartian allies in Icénia also held the largest standing army in The Realm - an army 50,000 strong with 10,000 cavalry in reserve. Even if all armies in Béorfort backed Halleck, that would not be more than 8,200 warriors holding the throne against an army maybe over 50,000 strong! But this would be a problem for tomorrow, today's was seizing the throne while it was available!
As the party approached the lower walls of the city they could hear the horns of Béorfort blaring and they could see a thousand warriors mounting the ramparts against them with bows, catapults and a bucking trebuchet high up the hill. The Servitor to Athelban high above the Main Gate demanded the party identify themselves and then quickly be gone or he would "sick the wrath of the faithful' upon them all. The Hunter replied by shooting an arrow that kicked up the rocks at his feet while Ishild drew Caled Bolg from its scabbard and let the chimera engraved upon its blade shoot fiery reflections of the setting sun up the ramparts. This set up a shout of shock and surprise all along the walls that turned to awe, then to dismay and finally to laughter and shouts of joy. The servitor was thrown from the rampart at the feet of the party, an eighty foot drop, his golden armor stripped. The gates opened and it seemed like the entirety of the city followed Ishild and her heroes up the spiraling walks to the court of Béorfort.
In the court the visitors were met with insolence once again, this time by The Newt and his long-chinned advisor known as The Aardvark. Íshild's reply was swift and did not use words. An arrow, spontaneously catching fire as it was released, struck the Newt between the eyes. The Brûcûk then took his head from his shoulders and sent the thing tumbling and aflame down the central walk between the assembled courtiers. Many of these courtiers had been wearing the long red conical hats of the Hartian courts, but upon witnessing this act they tore them from their heads and begged for mercy. Mercy was shown and Íshild took the throne for the line of Aetrig."
Hindsight is 20-20
The Eorfóric Regime & their Allies From Dumnonia
The Twelve Sons maintained there was never a plot to assassinate Queen Íshelm. They say her death was the result of an insurance pact created with the assassins of Sleev Dracha and set into the fabric of reality with the singing of a Draechi curse. Eorfóric had never trusted Béorfort and the pact stated that Íshelm’s life should be exchanged for any of their lives, the life of their father or the lives of their children if taken by any royalty of Béorfort. The 'discovered plot on the Queen'slife' was simply an insurance policy for a worried family... and ironically set in motion by a frightened Prince who slew his enraged uncle.
In the far western part of Arkoland, the folks of Eorfóric had always been looked upon with suspicion and disdain by their prosperous neighbors east in Béorfort and Héorot. Eastern Arkans often considered western Arkans as rustic and bumbling pig farmers, foreign and churlish in their ways. There was a Rhaétian influence to the way western Arkans spoke, dressed and cooked, but little of the prosperity of the distant Rhaétian metropolis of Icénia which dazzled most Arkans with its brilliance and technology. Many easterners considered westerners to be no more than lackeys for the High Throne in Icénia, held by the Dumnoni family of the House of Hart. 'Dogs of the Dumnoni' was often a phrase heard in the east.
The people of Eorfóric had always thought Aethelban, son of Aescer’s younger brother Hunigpew, should have taken the throne at Béorfort instead of his daughter Aetrig. And it has always been Dumnoni policy to keep the potential might of Arko in check by sowing division between the fortresses of Béorfort and Eorfóric. Hart, although it granted a kingdom to Aetrig, has always supported Eorfóric’s claim to the throne, first in secret, then openly. It had been with the occasional help of Hartian Cavalry that the Twelve Sons had been able to hold on to Béorfort for thirty years. Never in the past had Hart been so bold! Nonetheless it had pleased the people of Eorfóric for a time, that those who used to mock them as pig farmers were now forced to live with pig men in the Sahn!
(Ghoddblinda means 'pig men' in Ghoddic, from which the term 'goblin' comes.)
Béorfort in Exile & the Warriors of Kattegut
Íshild had become a warrior of renown in Kattegut, disguised as an Arkan lord by the name of Halleck. She became fluent in 16 languages of the region and was unafraid of even the most adventurous goblin cuisine. Few eastern Arkan lords in exile knew her real identity at the time, though all in that area of the Sahn respected Halleck's courage, martial prowess, and deft strategic thinking. Her favored entourage was a hearty band of warriors from Kattegut who would have thrown themselves into the mouth of Tyr Twrch for her... and she probably for them as well.
These warriors of Kattegut were part of the House of Sahn-Gliér, distant Khodéic relatives of the Ghoddic Arkans – both peoples, Ghoddic and Khodéic, originally migrated across the sea from Middangeard when that distant continent was falling into the double ruin of war and famine.
Ghodds came first in different waves of settlers. First came Ascer and his daughter Aetrig; his people fought the Iztani with the House of Hart and cleared the way for more of their kind to settle in the Realm and form the House of Arko.
Later came their cousins, the Khodé. But many Arkans chased the Khodé away from the rich farmland of the Ypswine Valley and sent them settling beyond Nagooth in the strange land of the Sahn. There the Khodé were befriended by Goblin peoples and many settled on the foothills of the Kathgrach Range, in a place known as Kattegut - a beautiful and idyllic gentle slope of gargantuan pine forests near the peaks of Mûdil Yahrig. The Yahrig is sacred to the Brûkûk people (Ogres) of the Sahn. A few in the House of Sahn-Gliér who still live in Kattegut have Ogrish blood.
The folk of Kattegut, though they rarely visited Béorfort, were always welcome there before the Twelve Sons took it. And Kattegut enjoyed a rich history of trade and shared knowledge with the eastern Arkan people. It was rumored that Caledbolg was in part re-forged after it was damaged in battle with the Iztani Captain Ranraki, with help from ogre smiths of the Yahrig and their ancient practices.