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

Aetrig and Aethelfrith

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, when one hundred and sixty-eight years ago 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 House and 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 Islhelm of Béorfort, daughter of Aetrig, had enjoyed a long rule after the very long rule 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, Ishelm 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 infamous for being imprudent and for speaking his mind at will.

Ishelm had Aethelfrith’s eldest son, Waehara, imprisoned for an inquisition 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 plunged the sword into the ancient stone claiming it wouldn’t be drawn again until a true Queen returned to the Kingdom of Arko. Seconds later Eadric was himself 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, Ishelm 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 her loyal courtiers into silence and imprisoned several outspokenly loyal lords for Ishelm’s murder and the murder of her young child, Ishild. Other lords loyal to Ishelm fled into the wild mountains of the Kathgrach and further east even into the wild lowlands of the Sahn.

But Ishild the babe was still alive. Ishelm had given birth to the child only a month before. The Queen’s midwives, worried for the life of the child after Ishelm'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 Ishelm 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 Ishelm’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 Ishelm were hunted down and murdered and their lands were confiscated. Counter-attacks were organized by lords loyal to Ishelm 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!

 

The Sahn-Gliérans

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 Ishild 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 Ghulboeddin, 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 Ishild after a confrontation between Wojwoda, the Bracelet of kNights and teh Sahn-Gliéran warband.

 

With Caled Bold in Ishild's hands, all eastern lands erupted in rebellion. A final assalt on Béorfort was launched from Thynghaugr after a curse on Eadric's body was lifted, and Ishild took the throne for the line Aetrig.

 

The Coronation of Ishild as an Epilogue recorded in a lesson told by Auld Alfrith, University at Heorot-on-Ypswine

"Overwhelmed by ghoulishly enchanted things in the cemetery of Thynghaugr, Princess Ishild recognized the corpse of one of her relatives as it fell upon her, graspingly. Yet in the frey Eadric's skull was placed back onto his body in his tomb breaking the enchantment and sparing the party a gruesome fate.

The Vicar came out in disbelief and gratitude, his chanters rested from their singing which had been holding the curse on Thynghaugr away from the town for the last eight days! After helping the families of the village rebury their dead, Ishild and the warband from Kattegut met four Arkan lords loyal to the line of Queen Aetrig. These lords were the cousins Fyrdan and Fryg, some 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 Scillburr 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. Between these four lords there were 350 warriors ready to back Ishild's claim to the throne of Béorfort under the lineage of Aetrig Hard Cleft of the Eight Fingers.

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. Scillbur had advised that Aethelban brother of Aethelfrith had now claimed the throne for himself. If you remember, Aethelfrith "Prince of Peace" was slain by Eadric with Caled Bolg just before Eadric plunged the blade into an ancient stone and was hacked to bits by Aethelfrith's warband.

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 more closely allied to the Dumnonii 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 Scillbur'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. Scillbur maintained all would recognize Caled Bolg in the hands of Lord Ishild and back her ascencion 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 solving tomorrow, the opportunity to sieze the throne was available today!
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. Ishild'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 lifted the body, 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 Ishild took the throne for the line of Aetrig."

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Hindsite is 20-20

The Eorfóric Regime & their Allies From Dumnonia

The Twelve Sons maintained there was never a plot to assassinate Queen Ishelm. Instead they say her death was the result of a secret insurance pact created with the assassins of Sleev Dracha and set into the fabric of reality with the singing of a Draechi curse. Eorfóric has never trusted Béorfort and the pact states that Ishelm’s life would be exchanged for their lives, the life of their father or the lives of their children if taken by any royalty of Béorfort. The discovered plot was simply an insurance policy for a worried family.

In the far western part of Arkoland, the folks opf Eorfóric have always been looked upon with suspicion and disdain by their prosperous neighbors east in Béorfort and Héorot. Eastern Arkans often consider Western Arkans rustic and bumbling pig farmers, foreign in their ways. There is a Rhaétian influence to the way Western Arkans speak, dress and cook, but little of the prosperity of the distant Rhaétian metropolis of Icénia which seems to dazzle most Arkans with its brilliance and technology. Some easterners consider westerners to be the lackeys of the Hartian High Throne even further west in Dumnonia. The Dogs of Dumnonia is often a phrase heard in the east.

The people of Eorfóric have 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 Dumnonian 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 as it suited Hartian policy. It has been with the occasional help of Hartian Cavalry over thirty years that the Twelve Sons had been able to hold on to Béorfort. Never in the past had Hart been so bold! Nonetheless it has pleased the people of Eorfóric that for the last thirty years they had been able to watch those who used to mock them as pig farmers now forced to live with goblins of the Sahn!

 

Béorfort in Exile & the Warriors of Kattegut

Ishild had become a warrior of renown in Kattegut, disguised as an Arkan Lord by the name of Halleck, fluent in 16 languages of the region and unafraid of even the most adventurous goblin cuisine. Few Western lords in exile know her real identity, though all respect her courage, her martial prowess, and her deft strategic thinking. Her favored entourage is a hearty band of Kattegutian warriors who would die with her and vice versa.

The Kattegutions 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.

Ghods 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 place of gargantuan pine forests near the peaks of Mûdil Yahrig. The Yahrig is sacred to the Brûkûk people (Ogres) of the Sahn. Kattegut is the birthplace of the House of Sahn-Gliér or the Orphans of the Sahn. A few in the House of Sahn-Gliér who still live in Kattegut have Ogrish blood.

Kattegutians, though they rarely visited Béorfort, were always welcome there before the Twelve Sons took it. And Kattegut has 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.