Church of Divine Patronage

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.

Mud Frogs

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.

Merrimont part 1

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. 

Pure People’s Code

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.

Branta’s Tumble

Branta’s Tumble-

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.

Proudhill part 2

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.

Proudhill part 1

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.