Doves of Merrimont

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.

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Mt. Whitehood

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.

 

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.

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.