I must apologize for the delay on new posts, more content is coming and I promise to include artwork one day. I’m also interested in any feedback any of you might have, you’re welcome to leave comments on any of the articles I have written so far.
On the eastern fringe of Damir is the vast forestland of Oringard. Named by the dwarven immigrants who fled the kingdom of Paia, it means “Natural Fortress.” Although it lies within Damir’s borders, it is a realm all to itself. It is almost two hundred leagues long and just shy of a hundred leagues deep. It stops up against the Golden Mountains in the north, and trails off into the barren land of Basmah in the southeast. Oringard touches five different lands: Damir, Gronde, Kasmoon, Nubrince, and Basmah. Running through the forest is the curvy Paia River in the south, and the much shorter Mourning River in the north.
Legend has it that the forest is the creation of Hovaia, a dryad queen, who planted the many trees and shrubbery to shield the land from mortal invaders. Despite her best laid plans, the forest was inhabited for several hundred years by the wood elves, a nomadic people who built tree houses and lived off the forest. It is rumored the wood elves knew Hovaia and worked with the dryad queen to keep other mortals out.
Of course this did not work. After the kingdom of Paia (a dwarven kingdom) collapsed during the Chaos War, thousands of dwarves ventured north to discover the vast forestland which they would so aptly name. They began to settle the forest, burrowing into the hillsides, chopping trees down to lay foundations for small communities. The dwarves had a network of villages spread about Oringard but they did not occupy all of it. They left Hovaia and the wood elves to their own realm and interests.
For two hundred years the dwarves controlled much of Oringard, dedicating most of their time to mapping the forestland. The maze-like paths of the forestland can be deadly to any person who isn’t familiar with them or doesn’t have a map. The trees are thick and some areas look similar to the next. Getting lost in Oringard is easy and a common occurrence; trails become overgrown with foliage, creeks dry up, trees fall over and block paths.
There are plenty of creatures in the woods, but a lot of the big predators have been driven out or killed by the orcs. Bears, wolves, and wild cats are still common, but the forest used to feature sasquatch and hippogryphs. It was also home to a nest of gryphons. The gryphons kept to themselves for several hundred years, even after the high elves invaded the forestland and drove out the dwarves and wood elves. It wasn’t until the orcs took over Oringard that the gryphons were forced to leave their nests and go elsewhere.
The high elves infiltrated Oringard around 350 ACW, defeating the dwarves in the 2nd War of Damir and forcing them out of Oringard. The high elves took over much of southern Oringard, built large townships and began to blaze trails all over the forestland. Believing the dwarves would one day return and try to take Oringard back, the high elves set up a series of booby traps along several false trails that led to their town centers. The wood elves either assimilated with their High Elven brethren or left Oringard all together.
Descendants of the fallen elven empire at Jeriko embraced the rule of their leader, Prince Iteph, who was a very distant cousin of the royal bloodline, but the only known survivor who could be linked to the elven monarchy. In their time in Oringard, Iteph had children who went on to establish a royal line. But because of the massive orc invasion that would come a hundred years later, most of the records concerning the descendants of Iteph were lost. When Kalliste gave her prophecy that an elven king would be born amongst them, many figured it would come from Iteph’s lost lineage.
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In 460 ACW, the elves of Oringard were thoroughly dismantled by a large orc incursion from the neighboring land of Nubrince in the east. The invasion came as a sudden surprise. The orcs hit the elves on multiple fronts, destroying their defenses easily. The orcs were battle tested, numerous, and absolutely ruthless in their attacks. The elves, over the course of a couple of years of futile resistance, finally yielded Oringard to them and fled west into the fields of Merrimont. The orcs then became the primary inhabitants of Oringard and have remained such for over three and a half centuries.
For the next one hundred years, the orcs built up Oringard into their domain, spreading to as many areas as possible within the forestland, populating and conquering whatever stood in their way, like the gryphons. They cut down large sections of trees, mined coal, built large training arenas and fortifications. They mapped out Oringard, learning the secrets of the forest, locating good hideouts and lookout points. As their population swelled, so did their confidence. The orcs stayed quiet in Oringard for over a century, until the time of Phumbaas.
To protect herself and her community of immortals, Hovaia cursed a large section of forestland that would later be called the Bleak Woods. Making a petrified forest, the wood there became lethal to touch. White Bark is a common dryad trap, designed to petrify intruders. This prevented the orcs from entering her small section in northern Oringard, which would later be dubbed Hovaia’s Cradle.
Since Phumbaas, the orcs have begun to call their clan the “Nation of Oringard”, establishing it as separate from the rest of Damir. Because of the thick woods and its internal maze-like structures, Oringard is almost impregnable by any army. Even so, elven merchants will occasionally venture into Oringard to seek out rare herbs that the forest is known to grow. Some adventurers continue to search for Hovaia and other hidden treasures. Many do not return from these expeditions, but it doesn’t keep others from trying. The kingdom of Damir sends scouts into Oringard year round, trying to decipher what the orcs are planning and when they might invade next. Because Oringard is so dense and long, the orcs can strike from any point along the tree line. It is standard orc procedure to deceive the enemy as to where they will strike next. To do this, the orcs use the trees as cover while they shuffle legions from north to south, confusing enemy scouts, and leaving Damir’s military command holding their breaths.
Oringard is viewable as far west as Whitehood, and from Merrimont’s Peach Orchards the forestland looks like an endless ocean of trees and forested hills that goes on beyond what the eye can see. It is an ominous looking domain to anyone who comprehends the danger and threat that lies beyond its forested curtain.
Notable creatures that can be found in Oringard (aside from orcs):
2. Black-spade Bears
4. Owl Raptors
5. Saw-tooth Beavers
6. Red-eyed Condors
7. Mud Frogs
8. Shadow Squirrels
The white doves of Merrimont have been part of the city since its inception, a hundred years after the Chaos War. Even the templar Lyndon noted that the doves there were extraordinary, as they communicated to him through telepathic powers. Many see the doves as the city’s eternal guardians, but no one has been able to decipher what exactly they’re protecting. It is thought, by the humans, that the doves are protecting riches beyond imagining. However, the doves rarely communicate to humans, preferring the elves who moved into the Merrimont region in 460 ACW.
Telepathic powers are found in some animals but not exclusively in particular species. In other words, not all doves have telepathy but the doves in Merrimont do. The doves seem to congregate around the city’s main and largest archway, the Dovial Arch. Superstition over the Arch circulate from bird droppings landing on citizens passing under the archway. It has been noted that anyone who is pooped on is doomed to die within a year’s time. Because of these deaths, many in Merrimont are fearful of the doves and believe they may have powers beyond telepathy. In 721 ACW, an elven mason was utterly convinced the doves were evil and needed to be killed. The stone mason managed to shoot down seven doves before he was arrested and later executed for bearing weapons and using deadly force within the city (elves were not allowed to have or use weapons within Merrimont until the Farm and Riot Act of 772 ACW).
During many of the wars, such as the 10th War of Damir where Merrimont was put in siege by the orcs led by the warlord Phumbaas, the doves served as scouts and messengers for the elves. The doves only seem to speak to a select number of elves, including certain elven nobles. Many elves try to tap into the secrets of the doves by feeding them or cooing at them, but typically the doves fly away when such obvious bribery is offered. It is rumored that the doves were friends with Kalliste, the blind seer, and that it was they who gave her the prophecy about the Slayer. Kalliste never mentions the doves at all in any of her works, but the rumors continue to circulate.
In elven lore, doves were the favorite animal of Troix, the Angel of Valor. It has been passed down from legend that Troix had a special relationship with doves, and they would speak to her and no other. In her battles, Troix used the doves to spy on enemy outposts and armies, relaying the size and readiness of the opposing army. When Troix was killed in battle, abandoned by her allies, it is said the doves dispersed and were never heard of again.
Now the only church remaining within Whitehood, the Church of Divine Patronage is the last remnant of the human religion that was at one time dominant in the city. There are still ample churches throughout Damir, but they would be found in Proudhill and Belvadore. The Church of Divine Patronage is massive, and is one of the oldest buildings in the city, dating back to 262 ACW, only a dozen years after Whitehood was established.
For a time, the church served as a dwelling for council members to meet and discuss state of affairs, back when Whitehood was governed by a human council. It is the site where Bandrian married Laurette, where Lord Valimond was coroneted, and where Lady Elayne gave her vows to Chancellor Valan. Although few go to the Church of Divine Patronage, it is an iconic symbol to old Whitehood and nobody has the gall to suggest tearing it down.
There was a time in Damir history that painted the Church of Divine Patronage in terrible light. King Valimond II admonished the church because it criticized the borderline worship of the colossus made in his father’s image. He banished the Archbishop of Belvadore, which angered the priests and priestesses of the church. Afterwards, it is rumored that members of the Church of Divine Patronage got together and plotted revenge against the king. But when the king died, they decided to take it out on his heir, King Viktor I. Viktor was no saint. He was a womanizer and a hedonist. The church despised him and his rule. Some argue that it was the church that was behind the assassinations of King Viktor and Queen Noelle.
Although it’s never been proven that there was any link to the assassinations and the church, evidence does suggest that some of the women that Viktor had affairs and conceived offspring with came to the Church of Divine Patronage for protection. They feared Viktor would kill them or their children. The Church offered succor to them and would use funds to send them into hiding. Whether or not the king’s death was related in any way to these women or their children remains unknown, but the church’s aid to them is not in question.
The Nursing Academy is located in the center of the city of Whitehood. Only women are sent to be trained nurses. Men wishing to be doctors or surgeons are usually sent to Belvadore for intense study. Recently the nursing academy began to accept applicants from women of all walks of life. Due to the increase in orc incursions (three in one century) the demand for nurses has never been higher.
The academy is run by a Matron, who delegates to several head nurses who carry out her orders. The academy is funded by the military, which gets its funding from the royal treasury. Because it is funded by the military, the academy is forced to follow any orders given to it by any high ranking officer. Once enrolled, a nurse is forced into service for no fewer than five years. A nurse can stay on in the academy indefinitely, however, as long as her record remains clean. The academy can admit any patient whose condition merits constant supervision.
A classic yarn shared among the nurses who enlist in the academy is the tale of “Nurse kiss, nurse saw.” Long ago, a beautiful but simple-minded nurse treated a wounded knight at the academy. The knight had been stabbed, hacked, chopped, sliced, bashed, and bloodied but still alive. The nurse, unsure how to treat him, asked the knight what he would like her to do for him. The knight told her that each of his limbs were rendered useless and needed to be amputated. Feeling sad for the knight, the nurse kissed each limb before removal. Enjoying the touch of her lips, the knight requested she kiss his head and face next. Needless to say, the nurse had a lot of explaining to do when the Matron discovered the headless knight some time afterward.
During times of peace, nurses are scattered throughout Damir from Gilstad to Belvadore. Some eventually form their own practice or team up with a local doctor and leave the Nursing Academy. Other nurses are hired by wealthy patrons, such as the royal family or Damir’s nobility, to be in-house nurses. Of course, a nurse must pass all exams and finish her five year requirement in order to leave the academy.
The Rossi Heights have been a big part of the community at Whitehood since its inception. Its name comes from the Du Rossi family: high nobles who were nearly exterminated by Ulric in 700 ACW. Before given its now famous name, they were simply called the Southern Foothills, because they were on the road south to Merrimont. The road that connects Merrimont to Whitehood runs through the Rossi Heights. The Rossi Heights serve as a vanguard for Whitehood as they form a protective shield from the east and south. The Rossi Heights have their own community, but it is mostly an outpost controlled by the military. It has been the host of two major wars: the 6th War when the elves invaded from Merrimont in the south, and the 11th War, when Hathar the orc warlord made a run toward Whitehood. In both cases, the humans won the war. The orcs of Oringard often send small war parties across the Mourning River to terrorize the Rossi Heights but the hills are very well guarded.
Count Peter Du Rossi (570 – 621 ACW) was a very suave and very direct noble, who was exceptionally picky and confrontational. He enjoyed swordplay and spent many hours of his youth learning the art of sword fighting. As a young man, Count Du Rossi looked for every excuse imaginable to test out his skills on Damir’s best and most boastful fighters. As a young boy he loved running through the flowery hills of the southern foothills to play, and that childhood memory inspired him to hold duels there. It is unclear how many duels Du Rossi fought, but he claimed in his journal that he slew a hundred men there. However, estimates from other records suggest the number is closer to fifty. Whatever the number, Du Rossi was undefeated, and he settled disputes through these duels. Now-a-days, duels must be approved by a magistrate to prevent any escalation or unnecessary confrontations.
The majority of duels are now fought on one of the hills of the Rossi Heights. It is considered an ideal setting for a match because the ground is firm but not rocky, soft but not muddy. It also allows spectators to gather and form a gallery, as the fighters duel high up where they can be seen clearly.
The highest point in Damir (14,200 ft.), Mt. Whitehood was appropriately named by Lyndon himself. The snow-capped head of the mountain is visible for well over fifty leagues; even the elves of Merrimont and the dwarves of Chance Rock can see it. The mountain provides a high ground advantage for the city that would be built at the peak’s base. In 440 ACW, the attacking dwarves of Duinmire were forced to take a wide angle of approach because of the steepness of the mountain.
The mountain has been mined thoroughly for its salt by the humans who settled under it, and then later, by immigrant goblins. Some gold deposits have been found, but the mountain’s resources have been partly depleted after four hundred years of continual mining. It was believed by critics for the unification of the human settlements (which became the kingdom of Damir) that the only reason Whitehood wanted to unite was because their resources were dwindling. It is said Whitehood needed resources and the rest of Damir needed leadership.
There is a legend of the mountain which states that at Whitehood’s highest point is a cave, where a great mountain dragon slumbers. The dragon was once believed to be the first ruler of the land, claiming Whitehood as its lair. It would terrorize the indigenous cultures of primeval Damir, including the cyclopsians, but mysteriously ceased its devastating attacks just before Lyndon arrived in 106 ACW. The legend was first told to the templars by the native humans, who Lyndon believed were trying to frighten him off from settling in Damir. However, Lyndon did concede that Mt. Whitehood made him feel “uncertain” and wanted to move on from it.
Argault the Builder, responsible for constructing the great fortress Gilstad, was commissioned by King Valimond in 564 ACW to make blueprints for a majestic castle built up against Mt. Whitehood. Argault, having heard rumors, made a point not to build too far up the mountainside in fear of “waking the fabled dragon.” In 675 ACW, a famed adventurer named Knippler made a daring climb to the summit of Whitehood. Upon his return, Knippler claimed he came face to face with a sleeping dragon and provided some of its scales as proof. But two years later, it was revealed that Knippler never found the cave and instead purchased some scales from a traveling merchant prior to the trek. Knippler was proven a fraud and lynched by an angry crowd.
There is perhaps no more terrifying creature in Damir than the Mud Frogs, who are generally found near the three main rives in Damir: the Blue, the Paia, and the Mourning. Mud Frogs are gigantic frogs, the size of elephants, who bury themselves in mud and then attack when its prey grows near. They are the leading cause of death in Purewater, which is up against the Paia River and less than a league away from Oringard. Because the three major rivers in Damir are so wide, the mud frogs have little difficulty using the rivers as a means to travel and hunt.
Mud Frogs were at first thought to be legend, a scare tactic used by the Blood Bunch to keep the templars of Proudhill away from their hideout, deep within the Blue River. However, in 204 ACW, Sir. Gallac and an ensemble of templars stumbled into a mud frog who devoured three of his templar knights. Gallac slew the mud frog and the beast was no longer simply legend. Over the centuries, many travelers have disappeared when crossing the Blue River, many believe them to be victims of mud frogs. Incidents have dropped in recent years because knowledge of the creatures have kept travelers wary.
Mud Frogs have a tendency of stationing themselves in an area that is soaked in mud, so travelers will usually try to avoid such areas. In Purewater, mud frogs are still a problem, even to locals. Thanks to the Mud Flats region, just east and north of the town, Purewater citizens have to cross the muddy terrain if they wish to reach the Paia River or head north to Paia’s Bluff where Shunjilas have been found. Hunting is a major economy for Purewater, and the Mud Flats offer some of the best hunting ground in Damir, making mud frogs a dangerous obstacle for hunters.
Even the orcs of Oringard learned the hard way about the mud frogs and the Mud Flats around Purewater. On more than one occasion, the orcs have attempted to surround the river village only to lose some of their warriors to the mud frogs. Orcs will now only assault the eastern and southern ramparts of Purewater, just to avoid the threat of mud frogs.
Near the entrance into Merrimont is the Dovial Arch, a massive archway made of thick ivory that stands over a hundred feet high, seventy feet deep and almost two hundred feet in width. It is a landmark and symbol of Merrimont that has stood the test of time since before the city was even established. The arch is named appropriately after the large gathering of doves that perch themselves atop the structure and nest beneath its bow.
The Dovial Arch has a lot of superstition surrounding it. Anyone who walks under it and is hit by dove droppings is destined to die within a year’s time. So far, every account of someone getting pooped on involved the victim’s untimely death that year. This has led to some superstitious people to walk around the arch, even if it means walking through hedges or on flowers or in muddy grass. Others (usually youth) dare each other to stand underneath the archway, tempting fate to see if the doves poop on them.
The doves themselves are special, as they are not ordinary doves. They are Merrimont’s watch and messengers. The doves of Merrimont have telepathic abilities, permitting them to speak to anyone through thoughts. The doves have been known to play games and perch on the shoulders of two lovers, telling each one what their lover is thinking of them. They are also used in war time as messengers and scouts, even. Yet no one seems to command the doves; they tend to choose who and when they’ll help. Many feel they are loyal to Merrimont, though not necessarily to the elves.
No one knows who built the Dovial Arch. The elves claim that it was present when they settled the Merrimont region in 460 ACW. This suggests that the elves built the city of Merrimont around the Arch. If the elves did not build it, then it is assumed that the humans who pre-date the elves did, but no one can find any evidence of this. Many argue against the human-built theory because none of the other structures the humans of Damir have built even somewhat resemble the Dovial Arch. The ivory used in its construction is uncommonly tough. It is impossible to chip and hasn’t a crack in it. Such ivory has been known to have been found near Blood Coast, on the Ivory Peninsula, but that’s hundreds of leagues away. Which brings up another paradox: if the ivory came from the Ivory Peninsula how did it get to Damir before international trade had begun in 643 ACW if the Arch existed before the elves settled there in 460 ACW? It remains a mystery and a wonder.
Up on a northeastern hill outside of Merrimont are the vast Peach Orchards, which were at one time owned by a very wealthy elven noble. The noble and his family were killed during the 10th War of Damir, during the orcs invasion of the Merrimont region, and the orchards have since become community property. It is fitting that it is also the resting place of Phumbaas, the orc warlord who nearly destroyed all of Merrimont and attempted to annihilate the elves.
Because of how massive Phumbaas was (eight feet tall and five hundred pounds) they did not bother to move him to the burning pile of the other dead orc warriors. The elves decided to bury his remains, and not cremate him where he lay for risk of torching the prized peach orchards. His grave was unmarked, however, and every so often a skull hunter tries to find it to dig up his remains. But so far nobody has.
As a result of Merrimont’s biggest offender being buried in the Peach Orchards, the grounds are considered tormented and hallow. Ghost stories of the infamous warlord walking amongst the trees have circulated for over two centuries, but many scoff at this, calling it superstitious nonsense. However, not even critics can deny that something ominous does occur there during full moons. Every full moon, a peach tree dies. Its fruit rots and the soil goes bad, making the spot unacceptable for planting. No one has an explanation for this, other than the superstition that Phumbaas’s tormented soul is spoiling the orchards.
Despite the haunting, the great Peach Festival is held every summer in Merrimont at the orchards. It is the largest elven gala in Damir where the social elite and common elves gather on neutral ground. It is a favorite place for weddings, wedding announcements, and courtships to take place. The common saying among elven gents associated with the Peach Orchards is: “Take a peach, find a peach, get a peach at the Orchards!”
As the years and decades passed, the kingdom of Damir became intensely jealous of the elves and their ability to farm the land and dam the rivers without going through the hardships their ancestors suffered. With control of Merrimont and the southern farmlands below the city, the elves were enjoying a cultural renaissance in Damir, and they would not recognize King Bandrian or any human king as their ruler.
In 485 ACW, the elves of Merrimont were feeling a bit brave from having occupied the fields and farmlands so successfully that they decided to try and settle on the hills north of Merrimont, on the way to Whitehood. The Rossi Heights (or so they would be named at a later date) guarded Whitehood from the south and east. Upon hearing that elves had moved into the area, Bandrian sent his army out to shoo them off. The shooing resulted in bloodshed and Bandrian’s army pursued the elves by driving south, almost to the gates of Merrimont where they had a short but inconsequential battle with the elven army. The confrontation became the 5th War of Damir, but it was closer to a skirmish, and later standoff-than a war.
Bandrian had made his point, however, and did not want open warfare (the king was growing old and weak). He summoned his troops back to the Rossi Heights and made a declaration that the hills belonged to the kingdom of Damir and that any further encroachment by the elves would mean war. While the elves celebrated Bandrian’s retreat they knew that his army was more than capable of destroying theirs and agreed to his demands. A truce was called and the humans of Whitehood and the elves of Merrimont had peace.
This truce would be broken when Bandrian’s grandson, Bandrian III, thought it a good idea to attack Merrimont with the full force of the royal army. In 557 ACW, Bandrian III was beside himself in anger over hearing about the elven prophecy: that a king would spring from their own and likely compete against a human king. He used the prophecy as propaganda to garner enough initial support to attack the elves, but went overboard. Instead of demonstrating a show of force against the outlying farms north of Merrimont, he took it a full step further and marched on Merrimont. But this 7th War of Damir was brief. Once the elven scouts learned of the human army’s intentions to invade Merrimont, they broke the northern dams of the Paia and Blue Rivers, flooding the land and wiping out the invasion force. It would take years for the elves to rebuild the farmlands north of Merrimont, but at least their city and people had been spared. Unfortunately, the elves had no idea what was next to come around the corner.
In early 601 ACW, several elven provinces east of Merrimont were destroyed one by one by an invasion of over 10,000 orc warriors led by the warlord, Phumbaas. Elves everywhere fled to the confines and safety of Merrimont, hoping the city would protect them from the orcs. The elven army tried to slow Phumbaas down from reaching the city, attacking him in small clusters, killing off the frontline soldiers, but the warlord always seemed to have plenty of warriors to replenish his losses. The elven army dwindled, chipped away by these small battles. They made their final stand just outside of Merrimont, near the Peach Orchards, and slugged it out with Phumbaas. But the warlord was too strong and the elven lines broke. The army slaughtered, Merrimont prepared itself for a siege.
Desperate for relief, and surrounded by orcs, the elves managed to send an envoy of emissaries to Whitehood to plead for help from the human king, Valimond. The purpose of the emissary was for Damir to enter the war on Merrimont’s behalf, and save the elven people from being annihilated. But King Valimond wanted more than just a war-time alliance against the orcs of Oringard. He wanted a treaty with the elves and the annexation of Merrimont into the kingdom of Damir. He wanted recognition from the elven people that they were subjects to a human king and would pledge their loyalty as citizens of Damir. To ensure this, he stipulated that elves would have to give up their rights to land, dissolve their caucus and reduce their merchant trade. These demands were unacceptable, but under the grave circumstances Merrimont was experiencing, they rushed through negotiations and agreed to Valimond’s demands.
Armed with the might of Damir’s massive royal army, Valimond relieved Merrimont of its siege just in time. The ramparts of the city had fallen, half of Merrimont was left in ruin, and Phumbaas had already extinguished thousands upon thousands of elves in his wake. Phumbaas did not anticipate the arrival of the Damish army and was flanked. The warlord attempted to thwart their efforts to save Merrimont by dividing his army in two and leading his own side against Valimond’s. But Phumbaas was cut down in the battle and the orcs were pushed back. The war was over and Merrimont was spared.
Merrimont was a shell of its old self, and less than half the elven population remained. Forced to rebuild under the stern laws set forth by the Treaty of Merrimont, the elven city would go through a century of darkness: riots and plagues would become the city’s legacy. However, during King Valan II’s reign, the elves gained more control of their society and Merrimont began to turn around circa 700 ACW. Their temple was reconstructed, roads re-built, fountains and archways were erected to mark the return of elven pride and cultural rejuvenation.
Located strategically between the Blue and the Paia, two of three main rivers in Damir, is the elven city of Merrimont. The name “Merrimont” is not elven, but human. In 102 ACW, a massive party of immigrating human pilgrims, led by the great templar Lyndon, passed through the flower fields and grassy knolls of southern Damir. Because of the flower fields and the small hills, it was named “Merrymont,” later spelled as “Merrimont.”
Flanked by the two rivers, the soil and ground seemed to be prime farmland that could be cultivated. A large group of Lyndon’s followers broke off and decided to remain behind to farm and establish a human township in the fields. Lyndon himself admired the ground but wanted access to the sea so he pressed ahead.
Early on, it appeared the humans had found the perfect place to settle. The fruit orchards provided plenty of food, and the humid climate added to the growth of their crops. However, human irrigation technology was lost in the Chaos War. Knowledge of cultivation was low, and the people were forced to learn anew. Among the lost knowledge was how to properly dam a river. After about ten years, the Blue River flooded the settlement and most of the outlying farms. Five years after that, the Paia did the same. The floods were catastrophic: dozens of people died at a time, houses and crops washed away, livestock killed.
Feeble attempts to dam the rivers failed miserably, as the flooding continued to wreak havoc on every new settlement the humans built. Still, for over a hundred years the humans in Merrimont gutted it out and kept rebuilding after each flood. Then in 221 ACW, both the Paia and the Blue flooded simultaneously, wiping out the township completely, killing hundreds, destroying farms, crops and livestock; the people there were reduced to nothing. The humans were fed up. Every time they harvested a good crop it would flood. Every time their livestock began to bear young it flooded. Every time.
By 240 ACW, virtually every human left the Merrimont region, convinced that the area could not be properly settled because of the rivers. They went north, many settling near Mt. Whitehood and establishing a human outpost there. Others went to Proudhill in the west. But the fields of Merrimont were deserted. Only a handful of human farmers tried to stick it out.
Around that time the elves had successfully entered Oringard from the south and pushed the dwarves out. The war between the elves and dwarves was technically the 2nd War of Damir. It started when the elves, in search of a homeland, were given permission by the dwarves to pass through Oringard on their way north. However, the forest proved to be just what the elven wanderers were in search for and they decided to stay and settle. The dwarves took exception and began hostilities. Eventually the dwarves, who had been mining up north, decided to retreat there and give up the forestland.
But in 461 ACW, over two hundred years later, the elves got a taste of their own medicine when the orcs of Nubrince entered Oringard and attacked. The elves were too spread out and unprepared for an attack coming from their eastern border and scattered. Iteph, their royal prince, did not escape and he and his family were massacred. The elves that did manage to escape found themselves following the Paia west to the flowery fields of Merrimont. In 469 ACW, the elves learned through the few human farmers that lived in the area that the land was called Merrimont and the elves decided to establish themselves there.
The new elven township sent shockwaves across all of Damir. Due to their location, the elves were now southern neighbors to the humans, who had established Whitehood as their primary domain. Under their new king Bandrian I, the humans saw the elves as potential threats and fortified the hills (later called the Rossi Heights) above Merrimont. However, many humans did not initially feel threatened by the elves, knowing they had settled in a region prone to flooding and would soon be wiped out.
However, this did not happen. The elves knew of ways to dam the rivers, create waterways and proper irrigation, and minimize the flooding damage. As a people, elves often have a natural knack when it comes to cultivation and agriculture. Within twenty years of establishing a township, the elves blossomed in agriculture and farmland. Although the rivers still flooded, the preventative measures the elves took kept the damage manageable.
The Trials for male orcs involve a grueling set of tests designed to place the orc correctly in orc society. It is here that the Sheshua try to determine if the orcling has any special abilities or gifts. If the child appears to have gifts he is set aside to undergo the Gift Trials, for orcs who might be candidates to become members of the Orc High Council. Orcs who are born with no magical tendencies or special abilities undergo the Blood Trials, the passage to become a warrior and perhaps a Tron later on. Orcs who fall in between or it is uncertain where to be placed but appear to be useful are trained to be Sheshua.
Orcs who are larger and much stronger and intelligent are considered candidates for becoming a Tron (a superior orc) who answers only to the warlord. Trons help the warlord with strategy, organizing legions, arming and prepping their warriors and controlling the clan in general during times of war. The majority of Trons are above seven feet and are athletically built for intense warfare against a variety of opponents. To become a Tron an orcling must first pass the Blood Trials. Depending on how he scores, a warrior can be given Tron status, but this is the exception to the rule; most become standard warriors. Trons are exceptional warriors who are candidates for becoming the future warlord of their clan. Becoming a Tron automatically means annual breeding rights with the females.
Orcs are taught not to fear death but to welcome it. Suicide, however, is thought to be a coward’s end, while death in battle is considered glorious. Orcs who have been badly wounded or have become too old are honorably put to death. Orcs believe that when a warrior dies honorably he goes to the Great Mountain, which is the gateway to the Spirit Realm. The Spirit Realm is the collection of the greatest warrior souls, where they serve as ancestral guides to the living.
The orcs of Oringard are one clan of the Orc High Council of Nubrince. It is not unheard of for clans to go rogue and break off from a High Council, such as was the case with the orcs of Kasmoon, who conquered the upper half of the divided ancient kingdom of Paia, then appointed a king and fashioned an entirely different orc society separate from the High Council. The Nation of Oringard is among the much larger and more successful clans who adhere to the Orc High Council of Nubrince. The orcs were triumphant in their invasion of Oringard, driving out the elves in 460 ACW. However, early on in their history, the orcs of Oringard began to squabble over what land to conquer next. Most wanted to press west into Damir, where the ground could be cultivated, yet a segment of their people saw the Golden Mountains as a place to take refuge and launch attacks from higher ground. This division caused a civil war within Oringard, one that lasted nearly forty years and decimated the clan.
The orc civil war within Oringard ended with the losing clan wishing to drive north to go rogue, defying the High Council, which ruled in favor of the orcs staying in Oringard and eventually conquering Damir. Heading north, this rogue orc clan stumbled upon the dwarven fortress of Gilstad in 525 ACW and attacked it, launching the 7th War of Damir. But the war was brief and the orcs were badly defeated. Forced to retreat, their shattered army went north into the Golden Mountains and were never heard from again. The orcs that stayed behind in Oringard spent the next seventy years forced to re-populate and rebuild defensive structures that had been totaled during the civil war.
The orcs did not make headway against Damir until the warlord Phumbaas, who organized the first ever massive orc invasion to cross the Paia and marched west toward Merrimont, the city of the elves, in 601 ACW. The 10th War of Damir changed the land and gave the orcs tremendous confidence that they would eventually take Damir, despite the loss. Even with Phumbaas’ defeat, the orcs had made their point: they were to be a thorn in Damir’s side for years to come.
The warlord and/or his Trons issue battle commands through the beats of orc drums. The Mal Orah, which means “Death Charge”, is a command given to attack with maximum effort. Typically, the Mal Orah is sounded for a full verse before the orcs actually charge, as a means of intimidating their enemies prior to assault. The Mal Orah consists of slow beats that gradually get faster and louder until they are done in rapid succession. The Death Charge is described as deafening, as the orcs usually use an abundance of drums, which beat together at once. The Mal Orah is also used as a form of distraction, the noise making it difficult for their enemies to communicate.
The native tongue of orcs everywhere is the Shogue language. The orcs refused to adopt the Druish language, yet it was still learned in some circles and is still taught among orcs of high positions such as Trons. Considered the language of the Juhas, orcs only speak Druish rarely or for reconnaissance purposes. Shogue is a slow language, as it is more important to pronounce the word than to speak it quickly. Partly due to their militaristic society, orcs want to ensure that their words are heard and understood. Because Shogue is relatively simple and slow it is among the easiest languages for other races to eventually master.
Orcs in Age of Thunder:
The Orc High Council does not become involved in war; they simply sponsor it by granting a warlord to each clan. This is only done by the High Council’s unanimous approval for the individual clan to go to war. A warlord is selected from amongst the individual clan’s class of Trons. The warlord is then given complete control of the clan during a time of war and is free to run the war however he wishes, using whatever methods necessary to achieve success. The warlord has absolute authority of the army- not even the Orc High Council can interfere while the war is ongoing. Afterwards, depending upon the success of the warlord, the High Council will determine if a new warlord is needed or not. Generally speaking, if a warlord fails in his objectives he is removed, or if retained he is asked to restructure and reform the army in defensive positions.
A warlord, although given full authority, is under constant pressure from the Orc High Council, which demands victory followed by victory. It is uncommon but not unheard of for a warlord to go rogue from the High Council and to even try to use the army to march on Nubrince and dissolve it. To maintain their control over the individual clans and keep tabs on any given warlord, the Council relies on the Sheshua. The Sheshua are the right hand of the Orc High Council. They are bodyguards and agents who are dedicated to the preservation of the High Council’s authority. The Sheshua operate outside the parameters of orc society and warfare. They do not engage in war and do not have to adhere to any laws made by the warlord during a time of war. They answer only to the Orc High Council. Sheshua are skilled, observant, nimble, studious, and highly intelligent as well as motivated guardians of the High Council.
The Orc High Council uses the Sheshua for everything. This includes spying on warlords and reporting any suspicious actions that might indicate that a warlord is preparing to rebel against the High Council. Warlords are not oblivious to the Sheshua, and are often accompanied by them, and they are usually treated as observers. However, the warlord has no authority over them and cannot order them to leave. The Sheshua are also protected by laws that prohibit any wrongdoing done to them. A member of the Sheshua dying under suspicious circumstances will result in an increase in the Sheshua presence, who will investigate the death for foul play. If foul play is determined, and it is linked to the warlord, that warlord is then stripped of his title and will face a horrific and humiliating death sentence.
The Sheshua are also moderators of orc society. They monitor distribution of food, breeding, and orc placement. Orcs have no fundamental understanding of monetary compensation or the purchase of items or bartering. There is no money in orc society. All essentials necessary to live are provided to every orc via the Sheshua, which includes food and medicine. The Sheshua also control the Breeding Temples in Nubrince, where females are taken to breed and nourish the young. There is no marriage in orc society, no romance, no courtship, no family. The women, when old enough, serve as a harem to every orc warrior who has “earned” a month of breeding with the females. The warrior then makes his rounds to a different female a day, looking to impregnate each of them before returning to his clan. Warriors chosen are usually those who have fought with honor (meaning they killed a lot of Juhas) or Trons. The Sheshua chooses these warriors, sometimes from a list provided by the warlord or Trons, or by their own observations.
Women have a limited role in orc society. The common misconception among the other races is that orcs mistreat their women, beating them and defiling them, when in reality orc women likely live more comfortable lives than the majority of women from the other races. Because orcs see their women as “replenishers” for fallen warriors, the mistreatment of their women is not permitted. Orcs do not believe in abusing their most precious commodity. Instead, orcs keep the women well rested, well fed, relaxed, groomed, bathed, and pampered in order to prep them for breeding and later pregnancy. The Sheshua protect and provide for them.
However, women are only valued in orc society as long as they can breed. When a woman becomes too old or infertile or if she is born deformed or incapable of breeding, she is summarily put to death as she is not considered useful to orc society. Thus, an orc woman’s life is a gilded cage: full of comfort but trapped with no way out. After a successful pregnancy, the orcling is nourished by each female with her milk until the child can walk. Once the child is considered functional without a mother (age 2 at the earliest) the Sheshua whisk the orcling away and prepare to put it through the Trials, unless it is born female (it then stays in a separate temple until it is ready to breed as an adult). Orclings reach full maturity at about age sixteen for females and twenty for males.
There is perhaps no other organized race as feared or as disliked as the orcs, also referred to as “beastmen.” Tall, muscular, and athletic, orcs have the signature build of a warrior. Even their skin is thick and not easily pierced, rough like worn leather. Their skin comes in multiple colors from black to blue to orange. Orcs can range between 6’0” to 8’0” tall and weigh between 250 and 450 pounds. They have very pronounced jaw lines, with jagged teeth and protruding canines, pushed up noses and big ears. Orcs are capable of growing hair over their entire bodies but tend to shave it all off except on their heads (they believe it hinders them in combat). The most defining physical characteristic of the orc is its bone-spikes. Orcs have an unusual skeletal system in that their bones do not stop growing and will continue to grow even after the orc is fully developed. Thus, the bones can pierce through certain points of the skin like antlers, only throughout the body. The most common places for bone-spikes are on the top of the skull, neck, jaw, spine, elbows, wrists, knuckles, shoulder blades, and cheek bones. During the Trials of Adulthood, to prove they’re ready for war, orclings will cut their bone-spikes and chisel them sharp. The process is excruciatingly painful but helps develop a certain level of pain tolerance while turning the orcling’s body into a weapon. These bone-spikes can be used in hand-to-hand combat, and gives the orc a natural advantage.
To many of the other races, orcs have a complicated social and political system, but in practice it is quite simple. Orcs believe in a higher power, and that in all things they take orders from somebody, even if that person is dead or in spirit form. The orc political system has similarities to that of a confederacy. There is one central power that governs the many clans that have spread out across the region- the Orc High Council. While the many clans do not work together and stay in their designated areas, they all answer to the same Council. Working separately gives the individual clans a sense of identity and independence from each other; however they’re all essentially an arm of the Orc High Council.
The Orc High Council is a committee of orcs who have been deemed “gifted” and given a place of honor at the Great Temple at Nubrince. Gifted orcs are identified at a young age by the Sheshua. Orcs who can move or read things with their minds, make things appear or disappear, and most especially speak to spirits and visit the Spirit Realm are considered “gifted” and set aside to become future High Council members. Because of their powers, these orcs are deified: they are worshipped and offered sacrifices. There can be anywhere between ten to fifty members on the High Council at any time. Gifted orcs are the most educated of all orcs, but focus is paid to controlling their powers and tapping into spiritual energy. The High Council is held in such high esteem because of their ability to communicate with their ancestors, upon whom the orcs have fastened their religion. These communications are done through dreams and induced hallucinations from certain substances. However, the orcs do not see them as hallucinations but as visions.
From the Great Temple in Nubrince, the Orc High Council rules all the clans that fall under their supervision. They routinely send messengers and members of the Sheshua to each clan giving them instructions. Each clan is treated differently by the Council, as some are more advanced militarily or are further along in numbers. Orcs never consider joining two clans together to make them stronger. To do that would insult the ancestors of the weaker clan by erasing their destined conquest and insulting that for which they sacrificed their lives.
The creation of the Orc High Council is relatively new in orc history. Before the Chaos War the orcs were ruled by a monarchy, but then the orcs discovered magic and were able to summon spiritual power. This dark magic gave certain orcs an advantage over others and led to those magical orcs being treated differently. Orcs do not believe in challenging a superior but to reward and deify them. Orcs admire strength, power and success, as they believe it is the key to global conquest.
Orcs have a fundamental belief that the world belongs to them, and there is no room for the other races, who are populating while depleting their earth’s resources. Their goal is then to either suppress or exterminate the Juhas (the other “inferior” races), take back the earth, and populate so the earth will continue to live for eternity. It is their belief that only the orc people can correctly husband the earth because it was created, after all, for them and them alone. The other races are not seen as equal sentient creatures but as vermin, akin to how other societies view thieves and rapists. This intolerance the orcs have for the other races drives their lust for war and genocide.
A sophisticated race of scholars, warriors, artisans, healers, alchemists, shepherds, merchants, and farmers- there are few professions to which elves don’t aspire. Elves are a strict and traditional people, who conform to a disciplined way of thinking and acting. Men are taught to mind their words, while women are taught not to slouch but walk elegantly. Manners and courtesy are consistently taught, rigidly followed, but when it comes to politics they are rarely practiced. Elves have a tendency of becoming overly-passionate in political forums, as elven politics has a reputation of being volatile.
Regarded as a highly emotional race, elves tend to be sentimental toward things the other races care little for. But it’s these sentiments that allow elves to see and know things that others take for granted and miss, such as farming. Elves take the growth and care of the land very seriously. They learn as much about the earth as they can, draw from its resources, but never exhaust the source. Not known for their stoicism, elves are usually up front with their feelings. The few elves that are stoic are generally not as highly thought of, considered to be too reclusive and/or improper.
What gives elves an advantage over most other races is their deep knowledge in the medicine and alchemy trades. Able to develop ointments and herbal remedies by elven alchemists, elven merchants are the only known merchants who frequently stock such items. It has been this knowledge and the ability to sell their products to a vast network of races that has kept elves relevant and needed in multi-cultural societies such as Damir.
There are three breeds of elves in the world: wood, dark, and high. Commonalities include a slight figure, long pointed ears, youthful appearances, and medium height range (between 5’0” to 5’9”). High elves are the most common of the three. Elves can live for about a hundred years and barely age. Their hair will gray some and blemishes will appear on the skin, but for the most part a seventy year old elf will look up to fifty years younger. Elven women reach full physical maturity at age seventeen and males at twenty.
Wood elves are tanned in skin color, and are usually a nomadic people who shy from large populated areas. Wood elves have an affinity for nature, preferring to live out in nature and off the land than in any organized community. Wood elf communities that are remote have been known to be hostile.
Dark elves are very pale in skin color, can have purple eyes and hair, and slightly longer ears than other elves. Dark elves have a deep understanding for the mysticism of the world, believing in spirits and fortune. Many dark elves have been known to have mind powers such as reading and controlling minds, telepathy and some telekinesis. These powers have benefited dark elves but have made them feared and disliked. Seen as the ugly step-child of the elven race, dark elves are distrusted by other races, but most devoutly by high elves.
High elves have fair skin, with a wide range of hair and eye colors. They earned the title “high” for being the ruling class of elves when they were at the apex of their civilization. Known for their social skills and ambitions, high elves enjoy building up their society and living in cities.
In terms of religion, elves do not worship a particular deity, but they do believe in a heaven where all elves are meant to go once they shed their mortal bodies. But as mortals they have purpose: a destiny they are meant to follow and fulfill. Only when their destiny is met will the Morningstar Elyssus accept their spirit into its heavenly realm. An elf who does not follow or fulfill his/her destiny will be cursed to wander the spirit world. To help get them to Elyssus, the star took four mortal women and made them into its Angels. Each angel represents a path for the elves to follow. Depending on when a particular elf is born, he/she is assigned an angel’s path to follow, and by walking that path the elf is sure to reach his/her destiny, and make their way to Elyssus.
Within their society, elves have a rigid system of codes that they obligate their people into following. Always with a perspective of being superior in their ethics and customs, the elves regard themselves as more civilized than humans and dwarves. Priding themselves on their low crime rate, the elves attribute that to their ability to control their most basic desires. Indeed, keeping one’s chastity, male and female included, is of high priority. Marriage and intimacy are considered sacred, and the elves look at other races’ promiscuity issues as abominable.
Women in elven society are still subject to arranged marriages and can only own property if father and/or husband is gone. Women are permitted to fight, but such a thing is rare as it is unofficially seen as taboo. However, only women can be priests, and most elven scholars are female. Despite the inconsistencies of their roles, women are highly valued in elven society. Due to low birth rate and a high death rate for the mother, the elven population has slumped. An elven woman who can bear more than three children in her lifetime without dying is considered a marvel.
Because of their population drop and the inability to keep up with human growth, the elves know they haven’t the numbers to compete militarily. However, economically the elves have a corner on the merchant and agricultural trade, making their existence in Damir necessary and at times crucial to the kingdom’s development and success.
Elves can intermix with other races, such as humans and goblins, and very rarely with dwarves. Known as half-breeds, a human and elf mixture will normally mean the child will be one or the other mostly, with a few characteristics from the other. Elves who are remarkably taller or fatter than other elves are half-breeds. Elves do not get to six feet and they are never fat (elves cannot store excess fat; they burn it or die from it). Any one of these characteristics suggests a half-breed. Then there are gelfs: goblin and elf hybrids, who are remarkably unique and exotic looking with skin, eye and hair color assortments like none other. Unfortunately, gelfs are regarded poorly in both elf and goblin society, and are sometimes run off.
Old Elvish Language-
Elvish is the old language of the elves, before they were taught Druish by the Great Druids a thousand years ago. While elves speak perfect Druish, they are still taught the old language if only to retain some element of their culture different from whatever multicultural society they may belong to. Elvish is a fast tongue, meant to get one’s meaning out in one breath. Thus, the majority of Elvish sentences and thoughts are given in a single breath. In four breaths, an elf speaking Elvish could have just spoken the equivalent of a paragraph’s worth of information. While this can be done by any language, it is practiced in Elvish as a discipline for elves to speak and think quickly.
Elves in Age of Thunder:
In Damir, the elves first arrived in 350 ACW into Oringard, which was inhabited at the time by the dwarves. The dwarves were too spread out and disorganized to ward off the elven incursion, and fled northwest. Claiming Oringard as their own, the elves set up villages throughout the forestland in an attempt to solidify a homeland of their own. They were led by Iteph, the last remaining member of the old royal family from Jeriko. The elves, who were almost a hundred percent high elf, discovered they were not the only elves in Oringard. The wood elves pre-date even the dwarves, but stayed to themselves in small communities within the forest. The arrival of their high elven brethren either assimilated the wood elves into their society or drove them out.
A hundred years later, the elves had multiplied and were prospering in Oringard. But in 460 ACW, the orcs of Nubrince invaded and ambushed the elves, slaughtering thousands and killing Iteph’s entire family. Forced to flee, the elves escaped Oringard and ventured west to the fields of Merrimont. Led by Iteph’s top advisor, Malthus was promoted to steward prince, and with his guidance the elves quickly built up the Merrimont region.
Damming the rivers was the first order of business, so any township built could be sustained. The southern hills and plains were perfect for farming, and the elves began to grow and harvest their agriculture. In a short amount of time, the township of Merrimont had taken off and was booming in population. Before either the humans or dwarves knew it, the elves had taken control of southern Damir. Immediately, the human king Bandrian was outraged over the elves settling in the Merrimont region and damming up the rivers, something the humans had failed at spectacularly in the past. Envy and distrust kept the humans and the elves from getting along, and for over a hundred years the two would be disdainful neighbors to each other.
With the Malthus line established as the steward prince line, the elves selected their worthiest families to make up the elven nobility and Caucus. The elven Caucus serves as the center of politics, law enforcement and justice for the people. Unlike the human king of Damir, a steward prince does not have absolute power, and is politically an equal member of the Caucus. Being steward prince gives him the privilege to break ties and to represent them in international courts.
In 556 ACW, the human king Bandrian III tried to have Merrimont invaded and conquered, but the elves had prepared for such an assault by demolishing the dams they had built and flooding the area north of Merrimont. Drowned and defeated by the rivers, the humans did not try again. However, in 601 ACW the elves were unable to fend off the orc warlord, Phumbaas, and the massive horde he commanded. Phumbaas routed the elven army, almost annihilating them, and putting Merrimont in a deadly siege. Unable to hold out against impossible odds, the elves sent an envoy to King Valimond, the human king of Damir. Desperate for relief, the elves agreed to swear fealty to the crown of Damir, giving up land rights, their merchant trade, and their Caucus just to preserve their future as a people. The agreement between Valimond and the elves was known as the Treaty of Merrimont. The treaty was grossly unfair to the elves, as it reduced their status to serf class, and forced to work for human land owners.
The annexation of Merrimont and the southern farmlands, all at one time controlled by elves, to the kingdom of Damir was a difficult transition. Elves who owned farm land were now forced to hand over the deeds to their property to human land owners. These elves were allowed to stay on, but as workers. The elves saw this as theft, and the humans saw this as justice.
The elves have since rioted a handful of times in the past hundred and fifty years of having their land stripped. The Caucus has been reformed and dissolved several times by the human kings that have ruled over them. The merchant trade has bolstered the economy in Damir, but for forty years the Treaty prohibited elven merchants to sell their goods outside of Merrimont. In 619 ACW the elves rioted, as the conditions of the Treaty had proven to be too much. To punish them for their insolence, King Valimond II had five hundred known rioters (some innocent) put to death. It became known as the 500 Purge, a dark day in Merrimont’s history.
The Elven Reprieve Act of 643 ACW gave the elves the right to sell their wares outside of Merrimont. For ten years, the elves began to clean up Merrimont, which had become a city of slums because of the Treaty. With merchant trade turning high profits, the elves were blossoming, despite being second class citizens. But in 653 ACW, the new king of Damir, Viktor II, decided to revoke the Reprieve Act, which prompted a bloody revolt in Merrimont. That caused Viktor to retaliate, and he executed several noble elves who he felt were behind the riots. The executions were public beheadings and thus earned the title the “Axe Purge.”
Finally in 772 ACW, Valimond III came to terms with Mortimus, the steward-prince, and passed the Farm and Riot Act. The policy was an agreement between the elves of Merrimont and the crown. In short, the elves were to no longer resort to rioting and violence, but to declare their fealty to the crown. In return, the law in Damir would recognize elven land owners. The Caucus would also be allowed to govern Merrimont without a human overseer or magistrate. The elven Caucus would be permitted to sponsor their own laws for their own people, as long as it did not contradict with the laws of the kingdom.
The Pure People’s Code of 239 ACW-
Just prior to Proudhill’s civil war in 240 ACW, Sister Branta, with the blessings of the Church invoked a set of codes that were intended to be the primary form of law. The laws were meant to maintain morality in Proudhill and social control over what the Church saw was a debased society that was turning away from the Goddess. Branta drafted the Seven Statutes and used the Church’s templars to enforce them on the local populace in Proudhill:
- Women are to be servants and symbols of the Goddess. The Goddess was true and virgin, she held her virtue with pride and scorned all temptation. Thus, women should not dress to insult the Goddess’s body by revealing their own. Apparel should cover all exposure from the neck down. Only in private, such as during baths or procreation, will a woman remove her clothing. Violation of this will result in flogging. The amount of flogs will be determined by a judge of the Church.
- Vulgarity is slander against the Goddess. Crude, foul language that is offensive to the ears is not to be tolerated. If it is deemed by a judge of the Church that someone cannot control their tongue from speaking unclean words then that tongue is to be removed.
- Marriage is a covenant that is no to be broken or desecrated by adultery. Adulterers have no place in any civilized society and will be punished as deviants against the Goddess. Any convicted adulterer must have their soul purified by fire and will be set ablaze to smoke out the evil that inhabits them.
- Making statues and worshipping them is an offense against the Goddess. Statues should be markers not idols. Anyone caught worshipping an idol will be stoned and flogged for as long as a judge of the Church feels is necessary to rid the need to worship any other thing but the Goddess herself.
- The Goddess gave us wine as an act of sharing her blood with us, but asked us not to indulge in the spirit. Indulgence in the drink is an improper way to worship the Goddess and must not be tolerated. Drunkeness will result in flogging.
- Dancing is a perverted form of entertainment that leads to canoodling of the genders. Men and women should never canoodle under such circumstances, thus dancing is the work of perverted intentions. Perversion, such as dancing, is prohibited. Dancing is punishable through flogging.
- Excessive laughter is an annoyance to the Goddess, who did not create a frivolous world to be laughed at by her own creations. Anyone laughing for over a minute and a half is to be dubbed a hysterical fool and thus must be slapped by a judge of the Church no less than one hundred times to break the offender out of their hysteria.
Shunjilas are among the most prized and reputable creatures that can be found in Damir. Found near the massive forestland of Oringard, Shunjilas are renowned for using the trees as their homes. Described to be foxes with three tails and a frill about its neck resembling a white collar, the Shunjila’s most famous attribute is its ability to glide. Using the trees as a means to both hunt and flee, the Shunjila gracefully glides from branch to branch. On the ground, the Shunjilas possess both the speed and agility of any other fox. Its three tails can be used to cover its tracks by releasing a scent in the air, confusing hunters. The tails of a Shunjila are highly valued among merchants and tailors, who work closely with skilled hunters to obtain them. Considered the “gold medal” for hunters, a Shunjila is particularly difficult to track and catch. Yet their fur is in such high demand that any hunter who successfully hunts a Shunjila will be rewarded with a fortune. Most Shunjilas can be found near the village Purewater, around the Paia River.
Ancient elven lore states that Shunjilas are magical creatures with telepathic capabilities. Because of how tricky it is to catch a Shunjila, it was believed for several centuries that the creatures had the ability to turn invisible and vanish suddenly. The wood elves of Oringard revered the Shunjilas as wise and crafty creatures, refusing to hunt them as they were seen as allies to the forest. However, when the orcs invaded Oringard in 460 ACW, the Shunjilas were hunted for their meat and slaughtered. Driven to the Paia River region of southwestern Oringard, Shunjilas are close to disappearing from Damir all together.
A favorite human fable told around the fires of Purewater is the Tale of Tayles. The story goes that a great Shunjila named Tayles encountered a young woodsman in the forest. The woodsman was lost, looking for help. Darkness had fallen, and the woodsman could not determine which direction to head. Tayles warned the woodsman that if he followed the river north it would lead him to the Mud Flats where he would drown in the soft mud. He instead advised the woodsman to go south where he would find civilization and the help he would need. The woodsman took Tayles’ word and went south. He walked straight into the Mud Flats and drowned in the mud. While the story is simple, it paints the Shunjila character Tayles as a devious liar not to be trusted. Some believe Tayles is no mythical character but real. Actual accounts of hunters and woodsmen getting lost about the Paia River and walking into the Mud Flats has happened numerous times. Many believe it is the work of Tayles, who has a knack for confusing the direction of travelers. A second spin on the tale defends Tayles, and blames the woodsman’s death on his own stupidity and overall poor sense of direction. Some say Tayles has saved countless lives from the Mud Flats by showing lost travelers the way by gliding across the stars in the direction they should travel; all that is needed is for the traveler to look up and follow. Regardless of his depiction as guide or villain, Tayles is immortalized in Purewater folklore with endless stories detailing either his heroics or his misdeeds.
The western slope of the round hill that is Proudhill is excessively steep: almost impossible to climb up and dangerous to climb down. Some ramparts have been built into the slope to make an attempt by any army impossible, protecting its western boundary from bandits using topography as its primary defense. The western slope is the site of many buildings of significance- most notably, the church.
History records the slope as having played a rather important role in the shaping of Proudhill. During its early years, Proudhill had a civil war. The city was divided on whether to have the Council or the church govern the laws of the populace. The exalted sister Branta was a very pious member of the church and was constantly raising sedition against the Council, trying to wrest power into the hands of the church. Middle-aged and a member of the clergy for almost her entire life, Branta did nothing else but study the Goddess and her Twelve Proverbs. She was described as horribly thin, pale with short brown hair, and always strolled about Proudhill with her head held very high.
Branta’s troubles began when a vulgar rumor of her sexual habits began to spread about Proudhill’s taverns. To combat these ugly rumors, Branta (without authorization from the Council) went ahead and passed the Pure People’s Code: a religious doctrine designed to snuff out human vulgarity. The Council became outraged by her audacious over-reaching and tried to arrest her, but Branta hid behind the power of the church and its templars.
Even though she was successful in rallying a lot of support amongst the people, the civil war turned badly for her and the church’s cause. Pushing through the barricades around the church, the knights of the Council made an effort to arrest her for inciting sedition. Instead of being a martyr, Branta tried to fight back. It is said Branta used some oil to saturate the church’s floor, then lit it on fire once the knights entered. While this kept the knights back, Branta’s pyromania got the better of her and the church began to burn around her. Not wanting to burn to death, Branta leaped through a stained glass window and then stumbled toward the steep, western slope. Wearing a long skirt, Branta tripped in it and fell down the slope. The knights heard her shriek but by the time they got to the slope, Branta’s broken body was already at the bottom of the hill. Thus, the slope has been called “Branta’s Tumble.” The church was saved from the fire but the civil war was at an end.
As the years went by, Proudhill grew and the power of the human council began to exceed that of the church’s. Sister Branta, a prominent member of the church, became an outspoken critic of the human council and demanded more involvement in Proudhill’s policies. As a sister she didn’t outweigh a priest or priestess in authority but became the voice of the church nevertheless. Branta wanted the laws in Proudhill to reflect that of the moral doctrine the church insisted upon. She wanted social norms to be enforced by military means: specifically rigid rules on marriage (no legal divorce to be tolerated and adultery punishable by death). The Council refused to make policy supporting these norms. Sir. Humpecker, a very devout templar, took it an extra step and threatened to remove the council all together and replace it with members of the church. These threats proved to be fighting words to the Council, who turned to Sir. Gallac once again. Gallac was now much older but was still held in high regard by the Council.
Over the years, Proudhill’s templars had become more and more disgruntled with the church and their pious teachings. Several templars were not looking forward to a church-controlled council and sided with the Council on the matter, rallying behind Sir. Gallac. This division amongst the templars contributed to Proudhill’s Civil War. In 240 ACW, Proudhill turned its war of words into a war of swords. Templars fought templars, farmers attacked farmers, peasants attacked peasants, and the priests and councilors pulled the strings. It ended when the prominent leaders of the church died. Sir. Humpecker was cut down in a skirmish and Sister Branta tripped on her skirts while trying to flee, falling down a rocky slope and breaking her neck. (The slope has hence been named “Branta’s Tumble.”)
After the war (which lasted only a few months), the term “templar” was replaced by “knight” and the church was no longer allowed a say in policy. Knights of Proudhill became protectors of the Council, as templar training was officially dissolved. Those loyal to the church left Proudhill; some went to Belvadore in the south, others went east and helped build up a small fortress there called Whitehood.
The largest threat Proudhill dealt with, aside from the bandits of the Blue River and the occasional raids of barbarians like the Blood Bunch, was corruption on the Council. The Council was composed of elders: old families that had been among the first to settle there. Tradition in certain families on the Council was permitting corruption to run rampant and the people of Proudhill began to demand reform. The power grabbing that was happening in Whitehood served as a lesson for Proudhill not to replicate. To prevent sedition and class envy, Proudhill instituted a roulette system of governance.
The Council would have nine people, from nine families, and each council member would have a term of five years. After the five years, that council member’s seat becomes available to the next family, which is chosen by lottery. This rotation by roulette and raffle became known as the “Raffle Senate” and it stayed in place for nearly two-hundred years. The system was successful: exciting, but risky at times. Every so often a certain Proudhill family would be selected to sit on the Council but their expertise on political and economic matters was limited. Candidates were limited to only those families that either owned businesses or had a history of service to the Proudhill region. Merchants, knights, priests, land owners, ranchers and bankers were common occupants on the Council.
Proudhill kept a frosty relationship with its neighbor Whitehood to the east. Whitehood had fallen on hard times and was changing its system of government and leaders. Warlords and corrupt councils kept steering Whitehood into becoming an eventual threat to Proudhill. This all changed when Bandrian became its Protector and wiped out the dwarves of Duinmire. The emergence of a human hero in the land caused much discussion for a Damish kingdom and the establishment of a royal line. But Proudhill was against the idea, because their system of government had been so successful for so long. Yet, Proudhill was still plagued by bandits and Blood Bunch barbarians who kept attacking the outlying areas and travelers.
Whitehood’s military was twice the size of Proudhill’s, and they boasted a larger population. The leaders of Proudhill knew that Whitehood would only expand, and that Bandrian had demonstrated that he was an effective leader of men. To protect the Salt Trade, the primary resource Whitehood shared with both Proudhill and Belvadore, Bandrian used his military to patrol the Blue River, keeping bandits away. Compounding this were the elves of Merrimont and the orcs of Oringard, who barged into Damir, claiming lands and making humans in Damir uneasy. Bandrian proposed a permanent alliance, a unification of the major settlements into a single kingdom. United, the human kingdom would be well protected and any hostile action made by the dwarves, elves or orcs would be met with the banner of a kingdom, not just a settlement or two.
After years of negotiations and debate, the Council in Proudhill dissolved and joined under a single Damish banner, and pledged allegiance to King Bandrian. A governing family was selected to rule Proudhill, and so the people unanimously chose the house of Gallac. For over three hundred years, the house of Gallac has been the governing family in Proudhill.
The first major human settlement in Damir to endure the test of time, Proudhill was settled by a large group of humans who broke off from Lyndon’s multitude of followers. For a time, the templar Lyndon debated on whether or not Proudhill would be suitable for him. While close to the Golden Mountains to the north and the Blue River to the west, Proudhill still did not offer access to the sea, a condition that Lyndon insisted upon.
However, Lyndon did help build Proudhill up before continuing on his way, using it as an outpost to launch attacks against the cyclopsians. The cyclopsians were holed up in Thanoptos, a rock fortress and depot for cyclopsian war parties. From Proudhill, Lyndon eventually crushed the cyclopsians and reduced Thanoptos to rubble. Afterwards he pressed on, heading due west, but thousands of his followers stayed behind at Proudhill.
Proudhill offered plenty of amenities for humans to stay and settle. They had access to the Blue River, natural irrigation for farming and agriculture, and a hill for fortification while elevating their citizens from the occasional flooding. The township was officially founded before 115 ACW but the official naming of the hill wasn’t until then. After the failed township at Merrimont, citizens were overjoyed to find an area so well situated that they relayed the pride they had for their new home in its name.
The town was a close knit community of devout templars, priests, monks, and goddess fearing citizens. Because of their strong ties to one another, a council was formed to serve as a government. A church was established and for a while the council and the templars there worked hand in hand, protecting the city from the bandits and petty criminals flocking to their establishment.
For a decade, Proudhill was the center of human activity in Damir. It was larger than any other settlement; it had the biggest church, the markets to buy and sell supplies, and the most orderly society and government. Being the largest also meant it attracted a lot of unwanted attention and resentment. The humans of Proudhill who were native to Damir, having been suppressed for so long by the cyclopsians, did not embrace the teachings of the monks who reached out to them. These humans were seen as “barbarians” and “heathens” and not to be trusted. They became enemies to Proudhill.
A clan of these barbarians, calling themselves the Blood Bunch, launched several assaults against the farmers and the city gates, killing hundreds in a series of small wars. The Blood Bunch frustrated the templars because they hid out along the swampy banks of the Blue river, which are hard to navigate. They attacked at odd hours of the day: sometimes at night, other times in broad daylight, but always when Proudhill was unprepared. While uneducated and uncouth, the barbarians were aggressive and intelligent, using spies and other clever means to detect weaknesses in Proudhill’s fort.
A dark day in Proudhill’s lengthy history came in 201 ACW, when the Blood Bunch launched a brutal campaign against the farmholds around Proudhill, sacking small villages, burning homesteads, raiding crops, killing men, raping women, and kidnapping children. These raids prompted the council of Proudhill to adopt a different approach, and commissioned a young templar named Sir. Gallac to raise an army to deal with the savages.
Gallac’s goal was to seek out their nest and eliminate them. To do so Gallac employed the help of someone who was of ill-repute and even feared: a dark priestess named Sollus, who had been cast out of the church for her dark methods of healing and strange ritual behavior. It was rumored that she had been spared from the stake because of her immense beauty, and thus was simply banished. But Gallac tracked her down and made her an offer. Sollus was a morph -had the ability to transform- and as an animal could infiltrate the Blue River region and locate the Blood Bunch’s base. In return, the priestess demanded a small human female child to have as her own. Gallac was reluctant to agree to the adoption, but because of the raids there were plenty of orphans in Proudhill.
The partnership paid off, and Gallac received the exact location of the barbarian hub deep within the swamps of the Blue River. Marching with his army, Gallac invaded the Blue River, drove into the heart of their nest, and attacked them. Unfortunately for Gallac he was unable to eliminate the barbarians, their numbers being far greater than he estimated, and he was forced to retreat. However, his attack frightened the Blood Bunch into fleeing the area. They would disappear and stay quiet for well over a hundred years before re-surfacing later.
The 4th War of Damir was one of the most deliberate and certainly darkest moments in Damir history. Bandrian believed strongly that it would only be a matter of time before Duinmire would launch another invasion against Whitehood. Unwilling to wait, Bandrian formed his own assault and marched on Duinmire. The attack came during torrential rainfall, and Duinmire’s defenses were not alerted to Bandrian’s army until they were upon them. The attack was perfectly coordinated and the fortifications around Duinmire did not hold. In the mud and rain, Bandrian’s army butchered the dwarven army and later the civilians within Duinmire’s populated township. Over three thousand dwarven men, women and children were savagely killed by the end of it- over half the population of Duinmire. Those that were lucky enough to flee went east, to the security of Chance Rock.
Known as the “Duinmire Massacre” the butchering of civilians alongside soldiers is regarded as one of the most sadistic deeds ever executed in Damir history. But at the time it made Bandrian a hero and he was celebrated for it. It gave him a reputation, one that gave pause to all of Damir. To the people of Whitehood, Bandrian was a symbol of human strength and resiliency. Bandrian’s remarkable feats gave the human race a significant edge in Damir over the dwarves, and later the elves and the orcs.
After Duinmire’s sacking, the town became a settlement for humans looking to take full advantage of the mining operations the dwarves had started. Adding rich minerals to their salt trade, Whitehood began to expand and profit from its wars. Bandrian was the most reputable person in the region. People were in awe as well as in fear of him. Shortly after becoming Protector, Bandrian built and trained his army into the most lethal force in Damir.
Fearing that Bandrian would push east and wipe them off the face of the earth, the dwarves of Chance Rock began to build a massive fortress to repel him. This fortress would become Gilstad; but at the time Bandrian ignored them, no longer considering them a threat to Whitehood’s domain. Eventually, Whitehood’s military served as peace keepers throughout Damir, not just in Whitehood. Slowly, the other human settlements began to see Whitehood and Bandrian as protectors to all of Damir.
With the orcs taking Oringard away from the elves, who were forced to flee into the fields of Merrimont, Damir’s power structure shifted. No longer was Damir a land to be torn apart or fought over by only humans and dwarves, but with elves and orcs in the land, it made Damir a hot zone over racial tension and encroached territories. Whitehood sat on the front lines and Bandrian’s army kept the other races at bay. Finally, in 470 ACW, the humans of Damir united under one banner and one king. Whitehood served as the heart of the new human kingdom and resting place of Damish royalty: the house of Bandrian.
Since King Valan II, Whitehood has become quite diverse in its racial makeup. Once completely dominated by humans, Whitehood has a large population of both dwarf and goblin. Humans still make up 80% of the total population, but the percentage continues to drop annually. The salt mines of Mt. Whitehood are excavated by goblins mostly, as it is dangerous work, and the only legitimate work goblins are permitted to do. Dwarven merchants are found by every street and plaza corner, haggling and selling their wares to everyday citizens. There are a few elves, but they’re usually on official business as they are still treated poorly in certain human circles.