OverviewA magnificent royal castle perched on a rock on the coast of south Saerad. A town sprang up nearby, called Ton Marel, or Mareldryn Town. Has extensive port facilities and is one of the three major harbours for the Saeradic Fleet.
The community in the fortress is divided between military and elite, with few civilians. The military comprises of 120 x Type 6 Super Heavy Cavalry (The Knights of Cal Marad) serving as the Queen’s travelling guard, overseen by Major Vil Aradah; and 400 x Type 6 Heavy Infantry under Major Gulyn Mavannin. These are the largest body of inhabitants by far. Then there’s Freydis’ personal levy, The Twin Star troop, 20 x Medium cavalry, 80 heavy infantry and 10 elven longbowmen, Captains Dirrin and Dorrin (The castle’s creepy twins!)
The elite group consists of ‘The Knights of the Silver Wolf’ ; a new order of higher levels determined to guide and guard the realm. As the land heals and people once fragmented into small isolated pockets of resistance meet together once more after hundreds of years apart, characters of importance will be no doubt meeting each other for the first time. Trade is slowly arriving from Everien (the elves of the west, Ulfannor) and the dwarves of Gulnaven (Goldfist). Only time and circulation can heal the society.
There is a growing assemblage of professionals at the castle, as projects are both planned and already underway. The castle is looking for staff, castellans, chatelaines, masons, carpenters, engineers, the whole lot. Project one is the building of wooden and later stone jetties to create a castle port linking Heimstead to the outside world. Project two is the building of ships for trade and supply of food. But two ships work the sea for the castle’s food at the moment. Freydis is marking out farms-steads all along the road leading to the city, disused land to be turned to grain and dairy for the castle upkeep. The foundations for a number of granaries are being lain at this very moment.
There’s no community outside the castle walls. There are old village ruins in a dell some mile and half away but that community died out centuries ago. Only one cottage exists outside the castle walls, some half mile away from the gates, that belonging to Hamarin Taroc, an elite ranger who is trying to settle down after a life of hardship in the wilds. He was known as “Giant slayer” in his better years.
About 10 miles north is the old city of Heimstead, set in a shallow vale of fertile grassland.
Heimstead is about 25,000 population and exists on dairy farming and arable, with the whole economy being insular and self-supporting. However, this closed economy needed frequent injections of raw cash in the form of silver coinage from the mines of Castle Dracolidius. The castle Dracolidius was owned by the city council which corrupted and fled when the invasion of the giants came about. Freydis and her group slew the giants in the high halls and rescued the city, but a day before the castle Dracolidius fell to them and the slaves freed. It is about 10 miles from Heimstead to Dracolidius.
Control of the land is divided. The heartlands of Oakhaven (The haarg) sit at the heart of the old nation and its fall into darkness divided the outer lands from each other. All creeds became intent purely on survival. The nation was once under the Kings of Saerad, situated at Brynjaheim hall, on a scarp above Heimstead. The old halls have become twisted with age and magic battles, but they remain operational and a house for the cities accumulated treasures. The city is governed by a new council overseen by Bamryn Hend, an old lady mayor. In the era of the undead, the land divided along regional and racial lines, with the Oakhaven peoples taken completely out the picture. Locked behind a stone wall and passes choked with undead, they have only seen the occasional new face of an adventurer once or twice a month, usually these have been chased and killed by the evil forces that were patrolling the roads.
Cas Marel's First Appearence
Taken from Book III of the Three Tattered Tomes, "Ulfsdrottnir".
Wet stones gleamed around the great rock. White mist created a vignette around the group, they stood about the high boulder in wonder of the carved etchings there sprawled. The stone spur beneath them jutted out into the cool sea, the topside covered in dancing ferns and wiry bramble; the lower reaches lost in a carpet of sand and Marram. Freydis and her friends had gathered to investigate the stone. There on the very top, in a crease where moss nestled, Freydis crouched and scraped. There below the loosened green, a forgotten bore existed. Syl ascended the huge boulder and with a quick word and pointing of her hennaed hand, the dirt blocking the hole erupted skywards and dispersed into nothing. Syl peered into the hole. “Time for the staff,” she advised, standing back as the staff bearer clambered up.
A short girl in a ragged green robe, barefoot and unkempt of hair, passed Freydis the staff. It was made from a perfect column of opalescent white marble, carved at both ends with intricate knotwork. The girl stared at Freydis with her deep brown eyes, puzzling the meaning of this silvered warrior with ringlets that danced like faeries in the breeze. The mist was hastening.
Freydis looked down to the rippled sea and noted the border twixt the seen and where whiteness ruled, and that the mist was not encroaching from the cold ocean but spiraling in a wide circle some hundred yards thither. They were gathered roughly at the axis.“The land senses us,” said Mirel, feeling the world and all within through her sandy feet. “Here it goes. No sense in standing around here,” announced Freydis, sliding the rod into place. There was a gentle vibration in the air and the rock. Then came a breeze bringing a bank of tumbling mist towards them, collapsing from the border of the eye, where now a huge wall of white stone stood and beyond that, a broad tower rising high beyond and a whole enormous castle seated on the rock cliffs overlooking the sea. Atop it was witch-hat roof, where gulls immediately perched and where bare masts awaited a life of flags. Windows filled with pretty glass appeared, then great gated doors rendered on the lower wall afore them, a stern bronze, green with age.
“It’s beautiful. And big. What is it called?” Freydis asked Mirel. No answer came from the astonished mouths, and minutes passed as all stood like stone, as if some mirage had afflicted them.
Much later, Mirel shrugged and her eyes refocused – she began to walk over to it with no words to explain what she could see. She gestured all to follow.“Mareldryn is what the ancients called it. It’s from a past lost to all but us Witches. Way before the destruction wrought by the Thrones when Feylan was one with Saerad,” explained Syl.
Freydis and Syl stood there on the great slick stone and viewed the enchanted rendering of the castle. It became more solid and detailed as they watched. After a few minutes, as Mirel was nearing the great gates of Mareldryn, they both climbed down and got to their mounts. They followed to the gates, across a natural stone bridge that linked the promontory with the headland, the companions with them, all dumb with wonderment. And there they stood, dwarfed by the ancient ingress. As they clanged their arrival with a stern mace, Freydis could not but imagine that whatever lived here in those ancient days as sizable. Bigger than they by at least half. The companions watched the gates open with a thud of completion. There inside was a passage through a gatehouse into a courtyard, where formations of polished knights stood inert, their two commanders proudly in-front of them, watchful and awaiting orders from within blazing helms.
Llyr set the crown down on Freydis’ head, and it shaped to her form; she momentarily shuddered as the crown infused power into her mind. “By the skies, forests and seas, by the mountains and lakes, and by the peoples of Saerad, I declare you Queen Freydis.”
“I don’t feel different,” she whispered.
Llyr strode around the throne and looked out over the amassed warriors. The silence was broad and deep, the respect that hovered there reached out and embraced all. And so Freydis, daughter of a woodsman, a shieldmaiden of the Lost Forest, became elevated by her own great deed and majesty. And encased in the armour of the Ulfalf, it began, afore the eyes of all assembled, to attain iridescence that betrayed the goodness of the soul it embraced.