Lands of Warlderia

Earldom of Aelfshaw 

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Formal Name: Earldom of Aelfshaw
Ruler:  Earl Arnes Salkuras
Motto: Ed’ i’ear ar’ elenea! #
Government:  Feudal within Divine Empire
Capital: Lilay
Major Settlements: Aria, Naugrad, Graidam & Mowsul
Resources: Fishing, Timber & Trade
Population: 274,400 (7% urban) ~   80% human, 8% half-elf, 5% dwarf,
    3% halfling, 2% elf, 2% others
Languages: Common, Elven, Dwarven & Halfling
Common Alignment: Neutral Good
Major Religions: Berei (NG), Old Faith (TN), Zilchus (LN) & Lirr (CG)
Allies:  None
Enemies None
   
# from the Elven for ~ By the sea and stars!

The Earldom of Aelfshaw is a rare province of apparent prosperity, peace and tranquillity. Though bordered by Dwarves to the north and Elves across the Straits of Edhel, it has a rare calm. The Older Races are more common than elsewhere and even the humans have their fair share of mixed ancestry. The Earl himself is part Fey and on good terms, well as good as one can be, with the reclusive Elves of Edhel-Duntolas. Sadly all is not as it seems.
 
There are ruthless smugglers trading illicitly with the Fey or dealing in illegal Dwarven contraband brought over the great Shield Wall. Refugees from the devastated southern Duchy of Everwatch threaten the harmony bringing poverty, crime and, some say, disease with them. Not all look on the fondness for Elf & Dwarf with understanding and zealots are preaching hate against the races which one ‘enslaved Man’.
 
During Kaegor’s War of Liberation it was one of the last regions to fall as it was so pro-Elven. It was in Aelfshaw that the Elves of the western Isles fought the humans to stalemate and secured lasting peace. Ever since the county has remained in awe of Elven culture and though part of the Divine Empire it undoubtedly woos the Elves of Edhel-Duntolas too.

Settlements

Lilay (Small City): Alignment: TN, Population: 10,000, Mixed (85% human, 9% half-elven, 4% elven, 2% other.). Authority figures: High Priest Florin Gripa of Zilchus (human, male, cleric) and Sir Jocund (human, male, fighter)
 
The centre of the Earldom is the walled city of Lilay. It was the site of a Dwarven settlement that was levelled in the Wars of Liberation fought between Man and the Older Races centuries gone by.  It was rebuilt in a brutal Kaegorian style and was not renowned for its beauty. Earl Arnes appointed his long time champion and companion Sir Jocund to civilise the city. He has spent considerable sums improving the aesthetics of the settlement but with limited results.  It is a prosperous agricultural centre but most of all it is a booming trade centre and market for Elven and Dwarven goods. It has a temple to Berei, the NG goddess of agriculture, family, and home, but most impressive is the imposing market-cathedral to Zilchus, the LN god of prestige, money & business.
 
Inns & hostels in Lilay:
 
The Scratin’ Beggar is a low price and service inn just outside the walls of Lilay. It is full of n’er do wells and the likes. It has a common sleeping room and half a dozen rooms that you can rent by the night or the hour.
 
Mrs (Ma) Bracknell’s Boarding House is an inexpensive but strict guest house with stables, dining area and rooms for 20 guests. Mrs Bracknell has no ‘funny business’ going on under her roof.
 
The Velvet Cape is a luxurious Inn and costs accordingly. It has a fine selection of wines and fayre at a price. The waiting ladies are all pretty and cultured and the Inn is favoured by the local prominent members of society.
 
The Weeping Virgin is an Inn and bar that caters for the needs of male clientele. It is frequented by local jaded nobles, travellers and the likes. It is said that it is secretly owned by Sir Jocund but most know this cannot be true.
 
The Aelfshaw Arms is a large Inn with thirty rooms, a good restaurant and gambling room. It has a large bar and is decent quality for a decent price. It is popular with both travellers and locals.

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Aria (Small Town): Alignment: TN, Population: 2,000, Mixed (80% human, 10% half-elven, 5% elven, 5% other). Authority figures: Bard Excellence Dumaras of Lirr (half-elven, female, bard/cleric) 

Trading is a port and the only human friendly harbour on the straits. The architecture is heavily influenced by Elven styles and many of the human populace fool themselves by thinking there are fluent in the fey tongue. It was once a site of the last great battle in the west when the warrior cult of Vandria Gilmadrith, the Elven god of protection and law, saved the Western Isles from human conquest with their victory here.

Four times a year, at the equinoxes and solstices, there is a festival of music and the arts where bards, songsters and artists compete to be crowned ‘Lord of Love & Music’. This person ‘reigns’ till the next festival where they are one of the five judges and may not enter again till after a successor is crowned.

Mowsul (Small Town): Alignment: TN, Population: 1,200, (95% human, 5% other). Authority figures: Lord Dowar (human, male, warden)
 
Mowsul is small market town primarily dealing in grain and timber but with a surprisingly wide range of other products.
 
It is also next to Old Hill which was once a major religious site for ancient humans. On top of the hill are the ruins of a complicated and extensive temple which was levelled by the Elder races at some time after their arrival. Under the hill is a catacomb of tunnels and chambers descending further and further in to the earth. The upper levels have been well explored and are somewhat of a local tourist attraction due to the extensive cave art. The lower levels are magically sealed with wards and glyphs to prevent the remote possibility of anything coming up from below.
 
Worshippers of the Old Faiths gather here at the solstices and equinoxes with one of the shafts dug through the hill rumoured to reveal great wisdom when the heavenly bodies align. Due to the popularity of the Old Faith it has far less non-humans resident than other settlements in the Earldom.

Graidam (Small Town): Alignment: LG, Population: 1,250, Mixed (90% human, 5% half-elven, 5% other). Authority figures: Lady Marlant (female, noble)
 
Graidam is a fishing port and an old Elven settlement built in to the cliffs. It has an old fey boat yards which is now used by the locals to build and support a prosperous fishing fleet. The centre of the settlement is the beautiful old Elven tower that overlooks the sea, being centuries old yet still architecturally impressive. It is said to be the twin of the Tower of Light that stands at the mouth of the harbour of Resplendent Dunostia. Within the tower lives the reclusive third Lady Marlant, the granddaughter of the first Lady Marlant, who was the close friend and confident of Emperor Innocence before his elevation to the Divine Throne.

The widower daughter of Lady Marlant, confusingly also called Ayesha, takes an active part in the fair and orderly running of the settlement. The town is beautiful with a well funded orphanage and inhabitants known for their kindness. It has the famed Ahasver Inn that is popular and acclaimed as value for money, even by Zilchus priests.

Sington (Village): Alignment: CN, Population: 450 (90% human, 5% half-elven, 5% other). Authority figures: Wilddieb (human, male, rogue)

Sington is a village where the pickers of the Lavendar hills are based. They are a boisterous and roguish bunch always trying to avoid paying taxes on their crop or purchase the licences that are officially needed.  This village was owned by Sir Argun, a famed Knight of the Rose, but since he has left it has become more lawless with most of the legitimate pickers have been driven out. It is ruled in all but name by Wilddieb and his extended family.

Lavender Hills

The finest lavender is the whole of the Lands of Warlderia is grown here. This is known as the Elves of Edhel-Duntolas have declared it as such. They value it highly and it is keenly traded in the guarded Elf Port of Resplendent Dunostia across the straits. It is rumoured that some subtle magical quality of the hills makes it lavender so superior but no human knows and the reclusive elves care not to enlighten. They take a harsh view of those trying to trade lesser lavender to them.

The Lavender Hills are still quite wild with the lavender growing as it will. Attempts to farm it efficiently lower the quality to that of normal lesser lavender and make it worthless to the Elves. No one lives in the hills as old stories talk of them being haunted at night though there is no proof of this. Bands of ‘licensed’ pickers travel out from Sington to carefully harvest the crop and always return before dusk.

Naugard (Small Town): Alignment: LN, Population: 1,550, Mixed (90% human, 5% dwarves, 5% other). Authority figures: Praetor Bunyan (human, male, general)
 
Technically this is town is administered directly by the Divine Emperor as it is an Imperial fortress and garrison. In practice it is part of the Earldom.

The Dwarves have long since given up any claim on the lands of man but still the old keeps and castles are guarded by Divine Imperial decree. One such is Naugard and its Divine Legion, the 7th Taurusian, stands vigil watching over the Northern Dwarves behind their impregnable Shield Wall. There is good farmland around the fortress and the garrison are a ready market for a whole range of traders, some honest and some not so.

The Athenaeum of Haden (Village): Alignment: LG, Population: 850, Mixed (85% human, 10% halfling, 5% other). Authority figures: Sage-Lord Brisius Farseer (human, male, cleric-sage)
 
Haden is technically an independent settlement under the direct auspices of the Divine Emperor but in practical terms it co-operates fully with the Earldom of Aelfshaw. It is ruled by Sage-Lord Brisius, the latest of a long line of Sage-Lords from the time of Kaegor, who are entrusted with the preservation of knowledge.
 
Haden is a prosperous large village based around the sprawling Manse of the Sages. Within the Manse the Sage-Lord and his staff strive to collect, catalogue and above all else protect knowledge. They acquire old texts copy them and send the original to the Divine Library at the Capital.  The library is extensive and growing steadily over the years. It is meant to be funded by the Divine Emperor but his recent distractions mean that financial support has dried up. To cover this a limited number of extra copies of popular and fashionable books are produced and sold to wealthy nobles and merchants.
 
Sage-Lord Brisius Farseer is also a senior figure in the Church of Rao, the greater god of knowledge, law, peace and reconciliation. There is a small temple to Rao at Haden and a larger market temple to the allied god Zilchus.
 
The Sage-Lord is a widower with three surviving sons. The eldest, B’Ernell, is set to follow his father and is already a major figure at the Athenaeum. The second son, C’Asimer is serving with the Divine Legions as is tradition while the third son, D’arcy, is a follower of Zilchus and Governor of Volingdorf in the Duchy of Everwatch. 

Grumbleroots (Small Town): Alignment: NG, Population: 900, (98% halfling, 2% other). Authority figures: Banjax Piecast (halfling, male, mayor)

Just to the south of Haden is a thriving Halfling community called Grumbleroots that has placed itself under the protection of the Sage-Lord. The hobbits supply pipeweed to both the Sages at Haden and sell it through the temple-market too. It is off a high quality and valued through out Aelfshaw & beyond.
 
The Halflings also had a more militaristic benefactor in Sir Argun, a Knight of Earl Arnes Salkuras. Who championed their cause over more mundane matters. He even slew a bullette that was feeding of the settlement and dispatched bandits from the woods. Now that he is left the halflings are concerned for their future safety.

Prominent Individuals

Earl Arnes Salkuras

Earl Arnes Salkuras is over a hundred years old and his longevity is attributed to his part Elven blood. He has ruled the Earldom for over sixty years and has ensured it is a prosperous and peaceful province. He is good terms with the Sea Elves and keeps well away from the Divine Court and its machinations. Still he is now very elderly and increasingly detached from day to day concerns. The Earl never married and has no natural heir. To secure the future of the Earldom he ritually adopted his long term friend and companion Sir Jocund of Joyess.  Sir Jocund was knighted by Earl Arnes as a young warrior thirty years ago and has been his champion and companion ever since. He sadly does not enjoy the support of the local nobility and his future as heir to the Earl is precarious.

The Knights of the Rose

This order was founded by Earl Arnes Salkuras over fifty years ago when he had recently succeeded his late father as Earl of Aelfshaw. His late father’s men-at-arms were all efficient but brutal warriors that failed to appreciate the new Earl’s artistic and cultured tastes. Earl Arnes held frequent tournaments where the flower of chivalry was invited to compete for induction in to this knightly order. Entry to the ranks of the order was for those who are both skilled warriors and at home in polite society.
 
The current commander of the Order, the Knight Magnificent, is Sir Jocund of Joyess. He was Knighted over 30 years ago by Earl Arnes and has served as his constant companion ever since to the point that the Earl has appointed Sir Jocund as his successor. It is said that his duty to Earl Arnes comes before all other matters with never having married nor even sought to. In his late fifties he is still a handsome man of trim build with a fine voice and skilled at the lute.
 
The most famed of recent Knights is Sir Mercel a protégé of Sir Jocund. He is tall, broad, charismatic and well respected by the Earl and his court. He wears fine Elven chain armour and silks purchased especially for him by Sir Jocund at court and a masterwork suit of plate armour at tourney.  Like Sir Jocund this Knight is a dedicated bachelor though has boyish good looks and  charm make him popular with the ladies.
 
To become a Knight of the Rose one may be of any race or gender but merely be of the right character and mindset. In practice all the Knights are human(ish) with high charisma, diplomacy, skill at arms and excellent horsemanship. They are usually sponsored by a noble or fellow Knight but may be inducted following victory at a tourney. These ‘Bouquet Knights’ are given arms, armour and a mount as part of their induction in to the Order 

 Illustration: from The Battle for Wesnoth (http://www.wesnoth.org/) used under General Public License

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