Noredenwald in Hesgran
History of the Noredenwald Peninsula
PREHISTORYFor the last 15,000 years, nomads have lived along the northern shore of Hesgran, in the far North of the sub-arctic zone, including on the Noredenwald Peninsula. These nomads were the ancestors of the Ekkimanna tribesmen. The harsh environment dissuaded very much competition for the land in the area. Around 8,700 years BE (BE = Before Empire, that is before the Amori, or Inner Sea, Empire), the Grey Elves and their cousins migrated to the area, with the Grey Elves founding the Forbidden Realm of Alqualondine, while their cousins settled in various places throughout the peninsula. The Proto-Ekkimanna feared the Elves as spirits, and so shunned those areas where the Elves settled. Around 1,500 years later (circa 6,500 BE), the Dwarves arrived in the mountains of the Peninsula. Because their Strongholds were located in the mountains and hills, and the Proto-Ekkamanni preferred the grasslands for grazing their reindeer herds, little to no conflict occurred between the two peoples. The Proto-Ekkamanni culture was patriarchal, with deference given to the greatest hunters and the tribal shamans. Their religion was an animistic one, with great emphasis on pleasing and appeasing the spirits. Once the Elves arrived, the Proto-Ekkamanni would occasionally attempt to pacify the “Forest Spirits” by leaving offerings of grain, textiles and reindeer meat at the forest edges. The Elves, disgusted by the primitive nature of these gifts, shunned the Ekkamanni and even occasionally hunted them, adding to the tribesmen’s superstitions. This state of affairs persisted for roughly 5,000 years.
THE AWAKENINGIn 1477 BE (Year 7267 in the Elvish Calendar), four great white dragons began ravaging Noredenwald – Goranorth, Malaranth, Ogith, and Wielzanth. These ancient wyrms were the last of the original Whites, having lived over 250 million years. Much stronger, more powerful, larger, and more intelligent than their modern descendents, these four creatures were more like Gods than draconids. The dwarves, elves and humans of the Noredenwald Peninsula were all equal in their vulnerability to these fell creatures. In response to the threat, one great Elvish warrior-teacher-diplomat, Galmaleus Galadiir, reached out to the Proto-Ekkamanni and the Dwarves. While his people, like all of the people of the Peninsula were hiding in caves and forests, Galmaleus spent the years between 1462 and 1258 BE teaching the tribesmen (which actually forged them into the Ekkamanni people we know today) and negotiating alliance with them and with the Dwarves.
From Summerfest 4th until July 3rd in the year 1257 BE, Elvish wizards, Dwarvish miners and engineers and Ekkamanni warriors fought a long running battle (The Battle of the Four Drakes) with the four drakes in the Great Frozen Wasteland along the shore of the sea. The first major victory came on Summerfest 8th, when the Ekkamanni Hero Askadulkas struck down Goranorth with his great two-handed sword Fengfir, which was forged by Haelgahrim the Dwarf. The next day, Gildhor the Goldenhaired shot Wielzanth through the eye with an enchanted arrow, slaying the evil drake. On the 2nd of July, an entire Cohort of Dwarves stumbled across Ogith on the ground, asleep. Acting with great stealth, they surrounded her and struck first at her wings. She awoke, but was sufficiently crippled to be unable to fly. In a day long battle that claimed the lives of all but three of the dwarven cohort, Ogith was finally destroyed by Haelgahrim the Dwarf, who struck her in the center of her forhead with his battle axe, just as she unleashed her last icy blast of breath, killing him. Finally, on the 3rd of July, Galmaleus Galadiir himself took to the sky astride Ralgath, Queen of the Silverdrakes. After a great battle Ralgath and Galmaleus brought down Malaranth, the greatest and oldest of the four.Unfortunately, the ravaging of the Peninsula, as well as the final battle, destroyed much of the available food that year. That winter, in the Winter of Great Despair, fully 1/2 of the Ekkamanni, 2/3 of the Dwarves and 1/10 of the Elves of the Peninsula died of hunger. Each group unfairly accused the others of acting foolishly and bringing on their misery and of thieving food that didn’t belong to them. Although some such activity occurred, it was not actually widespread. The real damage, however, was to the inter-racial relations among the Humans, Dwarves, and Elves, who would not again act in concert until the Amori Invasion in the second century CA.
THE GREAT DARKNESS
The social and political fracture of the Winter of Great Despair drove the Three Peoples apart.
The Elves retreated into their forests, though they never again hunted the Ekkamanni. Estamon was founded by the Elf Lord Iniries, the grandfather of King Edelvien, who rules there to this day. Estarion was founded by Galmalaus Galadiir, himself. Today, his great nephew, King Onorien rules that land. It is Onorien who, inspired by the stories about his famous great uncle, in 427 CA (Current Age), restored elvish ties to the Ekkamanni people. Ofron, Lord of the Sylvani, led his people into the Olvenwald, from whence they have seldom ventured since, indeed their only contact with humans since that time was to negotiate the Treaty of the Woodland in 613 CA, which granted Estragg the rights to the land upon which Horelkholm is built, in return for passage, once per year, for those elves who wish to sail to Alqualondine.
The Dwarves delved into the mountains and hills on the southern half of the peninsula. For the next thousand years, the Dwarves labored and fought their ancient enemies, the Goblinkin. This series of perpetual wars between the Dwarves and Goblinkin has spawned a history that only the Dwarves can retell.
The Ekkamanni forsook much of the knowledge Galmalaus Galadiir had taken such pains to teach them, becoming for a time a semi-primitive people. The took to the Northern Sea in small boats called Chaiyakkn, hunting seals and whale, using spears and harpoons with flint points, as their ancestors had done. This state of affairs persisted long generations, though the Ekkamanni retained, in the treasured lore and legends of their people, the story of Askadulkas. Indeed, even today, Ekkamanni children are taught about the Hero Askadulkas, his youth, his exploits in the Battle of Four Drakes, and his burial in the mountains bordering the eastern extent of today’s Holds of the Free Lords. Legend has it that Askadulkas’ sword, Fengfir, lies upon the breast of his mummified remains deep in his barrow, waiting for a worthy warrior to claim it and wield it, once again, to the glory of the Ekkamanni people.
THE MANNI MIGRATIONIn 92 BE, the people who lived in the area now known as the Lands of the Sea were forced from their lands by a great flood. The majority of them fled along the coast to the Southwest and founded the lands of the Manni. A few, however, fled to the Northwest up the coast to the southern shore of the Peninsula. They quickly became known as the Noredeni and the peninsula came to be named for them. They drove the Ekkamanni North beyond the mountains and founded a new homeland for themselves in present day Elriggen and Buurte. Many petty settlements grew for the next 100 or so years.
THE PETTY KINGDOMSIn 7 CA (Current Age), Krondohor the Cruel banded several of the settlements together and founded Elriggen, the first kingdom on the peninsula, and proclaimed himself Rik. The capital of this kingdom was Brildiskali, Krondohor’s home stronghold. The next 50 years saw numerous other petty kingdoms founded. In 62 CA, Modr I founded Riki Hjolnara and in 71, Framik founded Riki Buurte, which became a source of contention between the new kingdom and Elriggen, as Elriggen claimed Buurte as an autonomous territory of Elriggen. In the same year, an immigrant warlord from the Amor Empire named Astraginus of the South assassinated Rik Flek of Elriggen, murdered his successors and assumed the throne. In 73, Astraginus concluded his campaign to bring Estragg under his rule at the Battle of Eirik’s Bridge, effectively ending resistance to his rule. The following year, Astraginus began the War Period by invading Buurte and beginning the First Estro-Buurten War.
THE WAR PERIODOn May 1 of the year 74, Rik Astriginus I of Estragg invaded Buurte and captured several villages along the border of the two nations. He immediately demanded that Buurte surrender unconditionally and renounce all claim to sovereignty in perpetuity. Rik Framik of Buurte refused Astriginus’ demands and the beginning of the First Estro-Buurten War began a series of territorial wars throughout the settlements of the Noredenwald. The following year, Framik defeated Astriginus’ forces at the Battle of Eirik’s Bridge, ending the war. The next century, however would be marked by skirmishing along the border of the two nations as well as open warfare between settlements throughout the Noredeni settlements of the peninsula. Riki Hjolnara gradually took roughly the form it has today during this period. Estragg expanded its reach to the foot of the hills to the North and West. Settlements continued to appear to the South and West extending as far as the then frontier settlements of Verithveit, Gikrfell and Andodholm on the Gikr River. In 179 CA, Rundlof I of Estragg invaded Buurte and captured the town of Samrbyr. Over the next several years, Rundlof I expanded upon his success, gradually driving Buurten forces to the Northeast, and capturing Frefleklif and Hintoft in the process. In 184, in a daring night raid outside Odrskali, a Buurten Hirdmann named Eselgreden attacked the Estraggen army, over 750 strong with a band of only 200 men. With the advantage of surprise, Eselgreden routed the Estraggen forces and defeated them. After the battle, Rundlof I was captured and brought before Eselgreden who dueled him and defeated him in single combat. Eselgreden immediately marched upon the main army of Rik Torvik the Weak, Rik of Buurte, and demanded that he abdicate. Torvik’s troops and Eselgreden’s troops acclaimed Eselgreden Riksbane as the new Rik of Buurte, on the spot. Thus ended the Second Estro-Buurten War, and the War Period, as a greater threat would soon menace the Noredenwald from the South.
THE AMORI INVASIONIn the spring of 187 CA, two legions of the Amori Empire landed near Gurdomholm and quickly subjugated Hjolara, driving Leif Hjolarik, the rightful heir into hiding. The attack was both unprovoked and unexpected, as contact between the Noredeni and the Amori Empire was minimal, but cordial. Imperator Tigurius had taken it into his mind to rule from the Inner Sea all the way to the Northern Shore, and thus the invasion was fueled simply by ego. The following year, the Anori took steps to extend their conquest northeastward into Estragg. Refugees fled Estragg and Hjolnara in great numbers fleeing down the peninsula and founding new settlements in present-day Smurrik, Frunglond and Tombrik, thus completing the settlement of the southern plain of the peninsula. Also that year, Tigurius dispatched one legion of Manni auxiliaries and two cohorts of Orcish cavalry to reinforce his existing two legions in the peninsula. The Dwarves of the hills north of Estragg found the arrival of orcs to be a disturbing development. Generally, the dwarves had been content to ignore the conflicts among the humans, ever since the days, far distant, of the Winter of Great Despair. The arrival of their racial foes under the command of a human overlord, however, galvanized the Dwarves to action, and Harain, Laird of Munzibiz Stronghold, acting on behalf of Munzibiz, Gloinaled and Ulukkhur, contacted Rik Eselgreden Riksbane to form an alliance. In 189 CA, Amori forces sacked most of the cities of Estragg, effectively rendering Eselgreden an outlaw warlord. Nonetheless, Eselgreden and Harain fought together against the Amori at the Battle of Hrandsettr, where the allies were defeated and driven into the hills and Eselgreden was killed. His son, Eseldorven Eselgredenssen, took command of the human forces and maintained his alliance with the Dwarves under Harain. During the same month that the allies were defeated at the Battle of Hrandsettr, the Orcish cavalry cohorts, acting on their own, and against orders from their Amori masters, entered the Elvish forest of Estamon and massacred the entire population of Clovermist. The Manni auxiliaries, in need of forage, where sent into Buurte to find food. These two developments, though it would not be obvious for some time, marked the turning point in the invasion. In response to the Massacre at Clovermist, Egilhard Glaedwine, King of the High Elves sought out Eseldorven and Harain, and at the same time, Rundlof II, in response to the Manni incursion into his territory did the same. In 191 CA, deep within the Stronghold of Ulukkhur, Buurte, Estamon, the remainder of Estragg, and the Strongholds of the Dwarves of the Ulukk Hills all agreed to a limited alliance for the sole purpose of defeating the Amori. For the first time in over 1200 years, humans, dwarves and elves agreed to work in concert. In 192, the Orcs, once again acting on their own rode up to the fence of the Estamon forest, intending to raid another settlement. Instead, they were ambushed and completely destroyed by the combined forces of Egilhard and Eseldorven. In 193, in response to the destruction of his Orcish cohorts, Tigurius dispatched an additional legion of his own troops and the young red wyrm Sikiath to the peninsula. Sikiath joined with the Manni auxiliaries in the coastal regions of Buurte. Hintoft was burned by Sikiath and subsequently sacked and plundered by the Manni, with great atrocities against the populace. In November, Rundlof II and Harain caught the Manni and Sikiath in their winter encampment at Hislsetr. In a two day guerilla battle, Harain’s dwarves severely injured Sikiath and drove him out to sea, never to be seen again, while Rundlof II first attacked, then harried the Manni until they were sufficiently reduced and demoralized, at which point Harain and Rundlof II caught the Manni in a pincer and defeated them decisively. On May 3, 194, Imperator Tigurius and his court landed at Samrbyr and took personal command of the Amori legions. On Midsummer 7th, as Tigurius neared the town of Brildiskali with Legio I, where he intended to establish his command center, the allies caught his forces and attacked from three sides. Tigurius personally commanded the retreat of Legio I toward the town, and managed to withdraw with about half of his legion intact at the gate of Brildiskali Bridge. where Legii II and III joined his forces. The allies, now outnumbered but fully committed to battle were forced to fight to the death.
Faced with their own total destruction and the loss of their homelands, the peoples of the Noredenwald fought more ferociously than ever before. Harain’s engineers flanked Tigurius’ forces and destroyed the bridge, preventing the Amori from having the option to retreat into the fortifications of the city. In that manuever, Harain, along with his entire bodyguard, was cut down while defending his engineers and miners. The miners and engineers escaped due to Harain’s heroism and withdrew to the East to rest. Egilhard, meanwhile, led his Elvish spearmen against the heart of Legio I’s remaining line. They utterly destroyed Tigurius’ personal legion, although he and his bodyguard withdrew to the West and took command of Legio II. As the sun set, Egilhard was West of the river, skirmishing with scouts from Legio II. Legio III held west bank of the ford to the south of Brildiskali bridge. The Dwarves were to the East of the river encamped. Rundlof II and Eseldorven were encamped on the West bank, south of Legio III.
On Midsummer 8th, Rundlof II and Eseldorven overran Legio III, allowing the Dwarven miners to cross the river. Meanwhile, Egilhild was attacked in force Tigurius and Legio II. Egilhild’s spearmen were driven back, and Egilhild was slain. After a brief encounter, the Elves were routed and Tigurius marched south.
The Dwarves and Humans were exhausted by fighting to take the ford from Legio III, and Tigurius fell on them like a thunderbolt. Rundlof II and Eseldorven were both slain, but Eseldorven’s champion, a great war leader named Raimund Hrogar, took command of the remaining combined forces and withdrew in decent order. His scout rounded up the remainder of the Elvish contingent and rearmed them as archers.
The morning of July 1 dawned in fire and death, as Raimund attacked Tigurius’ camp from the south with flaming arrows from the Elves and the North by an assault of the Dwarven miners against Tigurius’ earthworks. As the Amori forces split to address the two-sided assault against their camp, Raimund took the Buurten and Elriggen warriors right up to the Eastern gate and stormed into the camp. In a short and ugly battle, the Noredenwalders completely destroyed the Amori legion and captured Tigurius and over 200 of his personal courtiers and advisors. Raimund ordered the courtiers and advisors to be executed quickly and with as little suffering as possible, and ordered them buried at sea with full Noredenwaldish honors befitting great warriors.
Tigurius, however, he had tied to a stake at the gate of Brildiskali and invited the citizens of the area to make a single cut each to his hands, arms, legs or feet. After three days, Tigurius died. Raimund ordered his head cut off and preserved in salt and sent it south to Amor with a message never to invade the peninsula again.On August 1, 194, Raimund Hrogar was crowned Kaiser of Buurte and Elriggen and Overlaird of the Strongholds of Gloinaled, Munzibiz and Ulukkhur. Kaiser Raimund’s first act was to restore rule of Hjolnara to Leif Hjolnarik, who had joined the alliance with his small warband of 100 warriors and fought bravely at both Hislsetr and Brildiskali. In this way, the Ulukk hills became part of Elriggen and Hjolnara regained its sovereignty. The Amori Empire never again threatened the Noredenwald.
MIDDLE PERIODThe period from the end of the Amori Invasion in 195 until the First Ekkamanni Incursion in 452 marked a period of settlement, expansion and relative peace.
In 212, the Little Peoples (the Halflings and Gnomes) migrated onto the Western Shores of Noredenwald, escaping the successful Amori Invasion of Prydain in 210. Athough several thousand came over a period of only a few months, they quickly established orderly, peaceful settlements that quickly contributed to the common good of the Noredenwalders, so they were more or less immediately accepted. The relative emptiness of these lands at this time, and surplus of available resources no doubt aided in their peaceful settlement.
In 232 the Little Peoples, being more interested in just daily living a good, earthy life than in establishing governance, contacted a human named Eselfrik, known for being a wise and capable administrator, to establish the rule of law in the area in which they had settled. He did so, thus founding the kingdom of Frungalond, which has been a primary home for halflings and gnomes ever since.
In 269, Rik Elmini of Hjolnara appointed Frusi Elvorssen to be the Jarl of Eisdreven, thus expanding to the south and west. The following year, the Kaiser of Elriggen followed suit, appointing Estragg “Jarl of the Northmarch”, with the comission to settle the northern shore of the peninsula. The Northmarch was formally renamed “Estragg” in honor of Jarl Estragg in 296.
In 344, a warlord named Melindakk succeeded in uniting a number of settlements to the North of Fungalond and named himself Rik of Tombrik.
It was during this period, in the year 200, that the Torframaour established his freehold in the Noredenspine Mountains.
THE EKKAMANNI WARS
The expansion of the the Noredeni throughout so much of the peninsula, which by now was bearing their name, put great pressure on the Ekkamanni tribesmen. They had lost most of their rangeland and were now penned in along the northern coast of the peninsula. This came to a head in the First Ekkamanni Incursion. In 452, in an attempt to drive the Noredeni out of some of the lands they had settled, the Ekkamanni began raiding villages throughout the peninsula. For seven months, villages were pillaged and burned and villagers slaughtered, until Elriggen, Buurte and Smurrik combined forces and drove the Ekkamanni back up to their northern prison-land. Hjolnara was especially hard hit, losing close to 1/3 of its population in the raids. The combined armies of the South were victorious, but did not significantly reduce the number of Ekkamanni warriors, so for nearly a century Ekkamanni warriors mounted short guerrilla raids on settlements in the peninsula.
In 476, Esdrik, Jarl of Eisdreven, angered by the Hjolnaran military’s inability to protect the people of Eisdreven, declared Eisdreven a “Free and Independant Jarldom, unfettered by fealty to the Incompetant and Uncaring Overlords of Modrholm.” This brash and insulting declaration was greeted only by silence from Rik Furn of Hjolnara. Indeed, the Hjolnarans had no means to react, and thus, a new nation was born.
In 568, over an hundred years after the First Ekkamanni Incursion, the Ekkamanni once again boiled out of their Northern land. This time, they targeted more than just the villages. In that year, they sacked Keresetr in Estragg and razed Stekskali in Tombrik completely to the ground. The next six years saw repeated raids throughout the peninsula, with some raids equalling the success of the Ekkamanni’s initial successes at Keresetr and Stakskali.
In 573, Kaiser Felhelm of Elriggen convened the Council of the Peninsula and forged an alliance of Elriggen, Hjolnara, Estragg & Buurte. Smurrik, Tombrik and Frungalond had been too heavily raided to join the alliance. During the Spring of 574, the combined armies began methodically sweeping the Ekkamanni raiders northward to their land. On July 22, the combined armies crossed into the land of the Ekkamanni only to find the raiders had been joined by a mighty host of their kinsmen, prepared to fight to the death. Kaiser Felhelm offered parlay to the Ekkamanni, who accepted.
During the talks, which stretched for 7 weeks, the Ekkamanni leader, Reinsdyrhorn, eloquently explained how his people had been driven into the far north of the peninsula. Although their land was sufficient for his people, the Ekkamanni feared further encroachment by the Noredeni would result in the extinction of the Ekkamanni. On September 5, an accord was reached. The Noredeni would not settle the Ekkamanni people’s lands, henceforward known as Ekkamannilond, and the Ekkamanni would not raid the Noredeni. Further, trade would commence between the two peoples, furs and scrimshaw from the Ekkamanni and fabrics and non-martial bronze and iron goods from the Noredeni. This accord, known as the “Treaty of Mutual Non-Aggression,” effectively ended the Ekkamanni Wars. Although a few raids did occur, the raiders were hunted down by other Ekkamanni and killed. One group of Noredeni tried to establish a settlement in Ekkamannilond, but were arrested by troops of the Rik of Smurrik.
THE YEARS OF FRACTURING
For over a century, very little occurred on the peninsula of interest. Petty wars occasionally broke out between hirdmenn, but none of major consequence.
In 700, a famous warrior named Torkell, disillusioned with the rule of Rik Elferd of Tombrik, established a freehold in the far North of the peninsula, near the arctic circle. He established a rule of law there that made all people free, provided that they had the means to support themselves. His hold became known as Torkellr. The Jarl of Estragg objected to this establishment immediately, claiming the territory as its own. However, since the area was otherwise unsettled and was separated from Estragg proper by the Olfenwald, the Jarl was reduced to impotent railing, with no prospect of projecting enough power to subjugate Torkellr. Over the next two hundred years, other freeholds were established near his, roughly along the same lines. The combined area is now known as the Holds of the Free Lords.
In 776, Ulfrid Boldspear declared Eismir independent of Eisdreven. A short war ensued, in which the followers of Ulfrid unexpectedly drove the Jarl’s forces to the mountains. Jarl Asraf II sued for terms and was astonished when Ulfrid only asked for the territory of Eismir, returning the remainder of Eisdreven to Asraf II quite happily.
THE SEAFARING YEARS
The Eismiravians have shown themselves to be a different sort of Noredeni. They are inveterate explorers and colonizers, as well as sailors. In 792, colonists from Eismir settled on Cymria, which quickly became an independent nation. Ten years later, in 802, colonists established themselves on Aefrik And in 834, the University of Fjuming is founded in the town of Fjuming on Cymria. Since the founding of Eismir, their sailors have grown to become the greatest seamen known. They’ve begun raiding as far away as Prydonis and Albion, while others have begun to bring trade down the northern rivers of Hesgran onto the main continent.
In 877, Franken, Jarl of Estragg stopped paying the annual tribute to the Kaiser of Elriggen. The Kaiser sent a large force northward through the Noredenspine Mountains, intent on extracting his tribute, but the expedition vanished in the lands of the Torframaour. No further attempts were made. and Estragg, though nominally a client-state of Elriggen, is effectively independent.