Rossi Heights

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. 

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Merrimont part 2

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.

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. 

Whitehood part 1

Located beneath Mt. Whitehood is the large human settlement named after the white-hooded peak.  The tallest peak of the Golden Mountain range, Mt. Whitehood sits at 14,200 feet high and it is the southern most mountain of said range.  The city rests among the Rossi Heights, the foothills beneath Mt. Whitehood.  Considering Damir’s age (circa 102 ACW), the city of Whitehood came to be settled late in its history.  Proudhill, Belvadore, Duinmire and Chance Rock predate Whitehood’s establishment, most of them by over a hundred years.  Officially, Merrimont was established long before any of them (circa 106 ACW), but the initial human settlement was destroyed by flooding approximately 147 ACW and again in 223 ACW.

Giving up on settling in the lush fields of Merrimont, survivors decided to try their fortunes by settling up north.  The hills and foothills surrounding Mt. Whitehood were untamed and unsettled.  A few sparse villages of native Damish people were about but they were primitive and unsuitable to maintain a viable population.  Humans had multiplied their numbers since the templar Lyndon had led them on a northern trek to new lands.  Those that stayed behind wanted to take advantage of Damir’s lush landscape, fresh water, and defensible settings.

The Rossi Heights presented an ideal place to build a settlement that could be defended.  The abundance of rolling hills would slow any army, and the mountain provided a safeguard against any attack from the  north.  Whitehood became an official human province in 250 ACW, and it started out primarily as a small community of miners.  A council of elders served as the town’s governing body, but as it grew so did its government.  In time, the elders began to jockey for the most influence and power.  This spawned internal fighting among the ruling class and later several bloody feuds which led to a string of warlords taking over Whitehood.  As the political situation in Whitehood deteriorated so did its economy.

Due to its limited agricultural opportunities, Whitehood struggled to keep up with its booming population growth.  The land about Whitehood was not the best for farming, its soil rough and rocky.  Their neighbor to the west, Proudhill, was on the other hand rich in agriculture.  Eventually, a trading post was established between the two large human settlements and Whitehood’s economic situation improved somewhat.  But its political instability was holding the city back.  In a span of nearly seventy years, Whitehood had five different warlords claim jurisdiction of the town.

Even with the political chaos, Whitehood grew from a mining village to a township to a fortress.  Fear of rogue bandits and fearsome monsters drew people behind its walls for protection.  The warlord Keltan attempted to be Damir’s first “king” and establish a bloodline of rulers from Whitehood.  He helped turn Whitehood from a basic fortress to a sizeable keep.  While Keltan ruled for almost forty years (345-84 ACW), his son never ruled a day in Whitehood.  The Keltan line was cut down immediately after following Keltan’s death, his family over-run by a mob and publicly lynched and executed.  The uprising against the Keltans was a planned event, meant to strike when the warlord’s family was most vulnerable.  Led by several concerned citizens over the state of Whitehood, and the fear that warlords such as the Keltans would only lead the city down a dark path, a council was re-established.

Under the governance of a council, Whitehood flourished, establishing a trade route to Proudhill and all the way to Belvadore.  Proudhill was rich in agriculture, Belvadore in linens, and Whitehood in salt.  Because of the volcanic region around Mt. Whitehood, an active volcano, hot springs producing mineral salt were ever present.  Known as the “Salt Trade,” Whitehood’s primary resource was the salt mines that paved the way for the city to become an economic giant.  In time, Whitehood’s population grew larger and it began to incorporate outlying villages.  Settlers and villages placed around the hills fell under the protection of the city.

History eventually repeated itself, however, when the rich and influential merchant, Krogert, bought the loyalty of Whitehood’s military guard and took over the council.  Krogert, a fat, slobbery man covered in hair from head to foot, behaved like a bully, intimidating Whitehood into submission by terrorizing households and fellow merchants.  He came to power roughly 430 ACW and was a merciless tyrant who put to death anyone he suspected to be his enemies.  Because of how close Whitehood had become to the other human settlements in Damir, Krogert’s coup caused an economic ripple and backlash.  The Salt Trade was dissolved, with both Proudhill and Belvadore attempting to distance themselves from Krogert and his ilk.

People starved in the streets, and clothes and medicine were hard to come by.  Krogert and his guards frequently raided homes, taking food and valuables to help preserve himself and his rule.  Krogert’s greed and consumption of resources went to all extremities.  As a levy, if a family could not pay Krogert’s steep taxes he would require a family member to enter servitude to his house.  He primarily wanted women to please him at every turn and would seize young girls and wives from their homes without explanation.  Outrage was rampant but suppressed by Krogert’s elite henchmen.  His rule lasted roughly ten years, but in that time Whitehood had become weak and vulnerable.