Sep 12, 2016
As I promised, here is the first installation of my introduction into the eleven kingdoms of "Romeldaros".
The name of my realm came from the latin root word, "rome", which is comparable to the city, as well as the mythological character "Romulus" who founded the new city, named it Rome, after himself, and created its first legions and senate.The second half of the name "da-ros" comes from the Latin root word for "ros" (gnaw, corrode) and the Greek root,"da" (learn).
It is not that different from our world during the Middle Ages (set around 1200-1300 C.E.). In fact, many kingdoms that will be shown are based off of real places and castles. The laws of nature and physics are not different from our own. Magic is dormant, even squandered by the higher ranks within the kingdoms. The realm is in its golden age of kings at the start of the story (prologue), and slowly slips into its darkest age. It has been two thousand years after the birth of men and the fall of the ancient races.
Now, to kick off the beginning of this new adventure, I will be talking about the northern kingdoms known collectively as the winterlands. It is comprised of two kingdoms, one of the mountain (Nilfhela) and one of the tundra (Aneria).
There is a third kingdom that is under the occupation of Aniera, and it is known as Winter Frith. It is a perilous place, barren of crops and devoid of wildlife. Since it is a wasteland it is classified as a part of Aneria because no lord or baron wants unprofitable lands. However, there are a lot of ancient mysteries that lie to the far north, uncharted by humans, only mentioned in legend.
This week I will focus on the mountain kingdom
The strength of this kingdom comes from the mountains that shadow it in might. Upon its banners sail the banners of the noble house, a family that has remained in power since the beginning of the kingdom.
~Histories & Politics~
Nilfhela is the youngest kingdom in the north. During the ancient times prior to the birth of man, the tribes of the dire druids wandered the realm in packs (running with the wolves, bearing the same barbaric mannerism and pack mentality). It began a long history of family importance. In the tales of the Stonefall people, the descendants of the Dire (an ancient race born from the same womb as the wolf. They were werewolves), state that:
"You see, my children, our people might have come from the same womb of Orion, but we are different. As corn provides a spine for beans to crawl upon, and shallow-rooted squash vines become mulch, we were as corn to the emerging sons of Terah. We grew much taller and faster than our brothers of Terah, sprouting from the earth’s womb with great knowledge to survive winter. We protected the youngling brothers and sisters. We taught them all that we know. Yet, without allowing the soil to rest, it can spoil the crops to come. The sons of Terah became greedy, using their knowledge to destroy and plunder, abandoning their gods to take on false ones. Fostering such a weed under our care was our mistake. It is our sin to bear. But, in the sorrow of our wrongdoings, we must not forget our purpose to protect that of old from the weeds that sprout to overrun what is untainted by their rotting roots.” (Bloodletting of Kings, 1174)
In 900 S.F., the people of the dire raised the sons of Terah. The tribes of the winterlands taught them how to survive and thrive in the north. They taught them how to fight and grow crops. These people held no gods, no magic but the other races welcomed them as animals (just like any other creature of the realm).
In the last days before the great fire, that all changed. The sons of man were known as pillagers, rapists and pirates who were barbaric in their ways. They mocked the gods of the people and stole from their shrines and monasteries. They became a problem for the royals as they grew stronger, too great and powerful for the smaller races to control.
To mock the old gods, the people wore their artifacts and pretended to worship their gods, however that turned into true praise as the generations when on. Northern people prayed to the wolf and lion gods, eastern to the golden god, south to Hel and the east to the Morrigan (most favoured god as she was one of sex and love).
When the ancient races collapsed leading to the age of the barbarians, the Dire were given a choice, to either become wolves and live with their people, or become man and integrate into society. Most chose to become man and thus formed the old tribes of the north, that still exist in the first part of the story as the Five-Headed Hart.
(This photo does not belong to me)
They protected the spirits of old, monsters of the north and the frost giants. They believed that the realm needed protection; therefore they guarded the winterlands, living in a primal existence as they had in the old days. Despite the sons of man terrorizing them, they were much stronger and often put the tribes of the brink of extinction but they did not, because they believed even the sons of man deserved life.
The Stonefall tribe is the only one of the Five-Headed Hart that resides within Nilfhela. They live under the mountains, far from the reaches of man.
The barbarians did not stake their claim within Nilfhela. It was unoccupied during this time. It was not until the first king of man united the kingdoms and ordered a great migration to populate the plains under the mountains. When the people came to the new kingdom, they fought constantly for property and resources. Without a baron, the people suffered in constant bloodshed. A brutal winter came and nearly wiped out their families, forcing them to rely on each other to survive.
The long winter brought the fighting families together, into the council of six. The people needed a leader, so instead of assigning a family to become the liege baron, the council decided to vote a duke, and recast a vote each spring. If a duke did well during the winter months, then they would keep their position as Duke Under the Mountain. Robert Ceolwulf was a farmer was voted duke under the mountains for his hard selfless work, keeping the people fed and protected. He led the new kingdom into the spring and kept his title.
House Ceolwulf kept their seat in power, protecting their kingdom for generations to come.
~The Liege Duke~
"Edward straightened, as he spotted rangers bearing the sigil of the Duke of the Mountains. They bore a lake of sapphire waving in the chilling gale of the winterlands. Rising from the waters at the helm of the banner, stood the image of a black mountain. Beneath the base of the crag rested a wolf with teeth barred for war." (Bloodletting of Kings, 1150)
Liege House Ceolwulf has ruled the kingdom since its birth. Upon their banners they wear the sigil of a black wolf on a dark blue sky, underneath the mountains. They reside in Hallad, the capital of the small kingdom.
Duke: Osric Ceolwulf - he is said to be as tall as a giant.
Duchess: Tilta Ceolwulf
Their children: Embla "The Spring Pup" (first daughter of her name), Ivar (first son of his name), & Gjord.
~The Noble Houses~
The houses form the council of six. These are the governing rulers of the kingdom, despite House Ceowulf remaining at the helm as the liege duke.
House Ceolwulf - The patriarch bears the title of the duke of the mountain. Responsible for collecting taxes, instating laws, and soldiers during war.
House Chapling - They are responsible for livestock and agriculture, as the masters of farming. They bear the banner of golden wheat bending in the wind, amidst a crimson sky.
House Marchal - This was the first family to claim the lands within the mountain kingdom. They are not the kindest to outsiders, and others within the council. They have always felt the title of "duke" belonged to them. They are responsible for arms, weapons and armour. Their sigil is a black serpent coiling around a white shield on a clear azure sky.
House Danvers - They are responsible for the western edge of the kingdom, as fishermen and tradesmen such as blacksmiths and clothiers. Their cities are run on trade. They are the richest of the six within the council. They wear a yellow and black banner bearing a grey owl with wings outstretched.
House Castor - These are the miners, shorter men that are none to be barbarians. They mine ores for the other kingdoms and for their own. Their sigil is a grey boar racing with tusks pointed out in front of them, racing in a field of green.
Stonefall Tribe - The tribes have no responsibilities to uphold within the kingdom. They remained and are protected by their vast numbers, often seen as wise-men and scholars.
Lady Alda Ceolwulf
"My father had an elder sister, Lady Alda Ceolwulf. She was the most beautiful woman of the north, untainted by blemish with skin, as pure as snowfall. Suitors came from across the realm to win her hand in marriage. The kingdoms loved her. They waited for the day she became duchess of the mountains." (Bloodletting of Kings, 1421)
A beautiful noblewoman who was the eldest daughter of the last duke of the mountains, before Osric. She was meant to become the duchess of the mountains, but tragedy struck and she was found dead.
Lady Embla "the Spring Pup" Ceolwulf
"The eldest daughter of House Ceolwulf appeared half the size of the lord. She bore the chubby face of a child with swollen rose cheeks and lacked the rounded features of a woman. Her locks long, as golden as her mother’s hair framing her face to flaunt her beauty to the lord." (Bloodletting of Kings, 1056)
Embla is the eldest daughter of Duke Osric Ceolwulf. During the year she was born, the kingdom faced a harsh winter that nearly starved the north. With her birth, spring came again as a miracle and brought a plentiful year for harvesting crops. She is a fruitful woman reaching the age of adulthood, ready to be married off to a highborn man.
~Culture & Peasant Life~
"From the days of fire to the end of the Dagnor Dynasty, the northmen were the greatest warriors in the realm. We were driven by the inspiration of the gods, cursed with a deep unrelenting hunger by Sol after Eyolf and Orion stole their light. We bare the blood of the wolf, as wolves bear the blood of man. We are one in the same. We long to kill and hunt as the savages we are. In the rebirth of man, after the death of the old races, the winterlands was feared." (Bloodletting of Kings, 1061)
When creating the men and women of the north, I was inspired by the lives of the vikings. The people are barbaric in their mindset, longing to serve their gods and fill their need for bloodlust. Therefore, these people have a lot of pride. They relish in the nostalgia of the old days when they could act as barbarians. However, their spirits have been tamed by the influence of the crown and the eastern church. Instead of raping, raiding and murdering the innocent, they feast and drink through their many festivals scattered throughout the year.
The most important thing for the northern people is family. Above all else, they take care of their pack. This extends to their ruling structure as well, for a duke is no better than its weakest member in the "pack". When the lowborn are suffering, the duke must do all he can to strengthen them. They care little for material wealth, or the lavishing fashions of the eastern kingdoms. All they want is their families to thrive through trials and tribulation.
Nobles and barons live within a stone manor while the peasants live in wattle and daub houses surrounding the manor, behind the protection of the walls. Peasants have the freedom to form unions, speak before their baron, and even buy and sell property.
The genders are seen as equals in the north. Women can divorce their husbands, manage their own finances, fight in battle as shield maidens, and take seats within the council of six. They are not seen as property, but most women value their families and thus will marry whomever their parents wish.
"The gods danced in the great plains of the stars, hunting in the company of one another. Yet, they felt alone, they had no one to share the beauty of the skies. That was true, until out of the womb of Mani, came the hunters." (The Renegade Blade, 271)
The winterlands have two gods, Sol and Mani (Yin and Yang). Sol is a lion god, bearing a human and a lion form with a golden mane. He is the god of the sun, of strength and light. Mani is the active wolf god, bearing both a human and a wolf form. She is the passive goddess of the moon, of knowledge and darkness. They are known as the lover gods.
In a culture full of bloodshed, war-lust and sacrifice, it is telling that they have gods that are centred around their love for one another. Religion is quite important to the northern people. They live and die to please their gods (much like the vikings), and believe that every action that happens on earth is a product of their gods.
"I give my sword and my life to Sol and Mani. I place my sword in the hands of the gods. If they so wish to invite me to the Lands Beyond I will go to serve for the good of the pack.” (Bloodletting of the Gods, 1065)
However, it is a very pagan religion. There are many human sacrifices that occur and mass suicides to their gods that occur during the year (especially during festivals). Although most peasants state the blood offerings are consensual, it is debatable if the sacrificed are truly wanting to die. To counter their barbaric nature, the eastern kings allow them to practice their pagan religion and do not intervene in fear of starting a war. They gifted them with many celebrations and festivals to keep the northerners content and drunk from mead.
"It is the month by which Sol and Mani are in the skies at the same time. We celebrate with a great bonfire and a game of courtship, where those without partners go into the streets and exchange masks. It is to bring together the lovers of the kingdom under the light of the gods." (Bloodletting of Kings, 1125)
Some celebrations include: Midsummer, Sol’s Solstice and Harvest’s End.
"My people believe that those killed or die of old age, journey onward from where their bodies fall. Their legs do not stop moving, their eyes never close and their hearts remain pure. Every affliction shred from their fur as dead skin. The deceased run into the lands beyond, into the sky to the great lights of the north. They live in the light for an eternity, prancing under the moon and singing howls of joy forever with the goddess of night, Mani, and the father of light, Sol.” (Dream of the Druid, 676)
The northerners belief in an afterlife. They believe that in a heaven of warriors, where the brave and noble will go to and drink with Sol and Mani. It is the Valhalla of my world. To reach this paradise in the afterlife, your family must stand vigil to bridge the gap between the realm of men and the realm of the gods. It is a custom for the relatives of the dead to stay awake all night in silence, and wait for the sun (Sol) to rise over the horizon.
~Places of Interest & Inspirations~
"Where I come from, the people believe in lost mysteries within the kingdoms. Many monks, clerics and healers of the goddess, seek the mounts to find truth. They either return rewarded, or never ascend from the cliffs again. It is said that at the peak of the tallest mountain, Mount Krákeygja, the gates to the heavens lie." (The Renegade Blade, 145)
In folklore, it is said that the gate to the otherworld is located here (the realm of the gods). At the top is where the tree of life rests amidst a valley of roses and mayweed. Kings of old and druids (soothsayers) once travelled here for guidance and to gain the spiritual blessing of the gods. The last king to travel here was the Nameless King. The peak is dangerous to climb to, and most unworthy of the journey do not make it. The mountaintop is the bridge between reality and the unknown. It resides within the Celia Mountain range, the longest range in the realm, and the tallest.
"In the distance, Aeryn spotted a village nestled against a high ridge. The roads paved in cobblestone and the log houses built for the harshness of the north’s long winters. The homes dressed in stone, shaped triangular, with interlocking stairwells, shared between households with a common room at the base.
“Halland. It still looks as bleak as I remember it.” Archard remarked. The wolfborn ignored his comment and led the way further.
No high cobbled walls protected the community of northernmen, no knights or guards. Halland did not bother to provide defense against attack. As they entered the community, Aeryn noticed the banners of the two-headed phoenix flew in the air." (Bloodletting of Kings, 1182)
The glum city where the duke under the mountain lives. There’s nothing much to say about it apart from the fact that is is quite dull.
Ancient magic lies here...
I’ll talk about inspiration in the next post because the inspiration for both kingdoms came from the same place.
I think I’ll save this for when I talk more about Aneira as they share a lot of their folklore and religion.
I hope that you enjoyed this! Please like this update if you read it all and want more. If anything, this has been a great exercise for me in world-building. Next week, I will talk about the second kingdom, known as "Aneria".