Nations and Places
Section I: Nations
Section II: Places of Renown
It is perhaps false to list the Arrufat Peninsula under the section of “Places of Renown”, yet it would be difficult to call it a nation, either, since it is has disintegrated into hundreds of duchies, minor kingdoms, and regions where no specific ruler can be found, save perhaps a bandit chief or warlord terrorizing the people.
I will include more enlightening information a bit further on as to how this has happened. Suffice it to say that the Arrufat Peninsula at one time in the past was a single, unified nation.
The peninsula is situated in the far east of our continent, jutting out from the southern coast to form one part of the bottleneck that separates Shane’s Sea from the White Ocean. The bottleneck, of which the northern part is formed by Tonomat, is called The Straits of Stevereev, after a legendary hero of enormous strength who is said to have pushed the very land close together, after Shane’s Sea was created by the vengeful God Mannannan.
Cutting across the peninsula are the Secula Mountains, a sickle-shaped chain that is penetrable only in few places, passes that since times eternal have been controlled by nobles and their armies demanding high tolls for passage. The mountains are home to a number of inhuman species, most notably a large number of caidwarves. Their clans, though, have usually abstained from involving themselves in any affairs of the rest of the land – and due to the difficult access to their homes, they have succeeded even during the time of the Unholy Assault. Since the Seculas also are home to numerous tribes of ratpeople and orcs, the caidwarves hardly lead a peaceful life.
The only troublespots where human and dwarven interests overlap are the passes which have led to many bloody battles, trying to ascertain who would control those. One of the best known is the Battle of Alguarnadón (2618 A.E.), when a large host of Tonomai warriors was repelled by the combined force of caidwarves and human survivors of the Unholy Assault. It is said that members of the famed Falken family were involved in this incident, and that their descendants still hold the fortresses on both sides of the Alguarnadón pass.
It should also be noted that the Tonomai have given the Seculas a description of their own: To them, they are the Mountains of the Nameless – the latter is a title that their One God holds. The Seculas are of religious importance to the Tonomai, although exact information on the reasons have eluded me thus far.
As I have mentioned before, the Seculas bisect the peninsula, their sickle-shape clawing well across its face. Roughly halfway along its course, the Orbé River leaves the Seculas, and along with the dreaded Blackbog, a slice of land is cut from the better part of the Arrufat peninsula. Today this area is known as the Wild Coast – no doubt due to the unruly nature of both the land and its inhabitants. For the last few centuries it seems that only the hardiest of souls have found their way into this region, those with banditry, flight from pursuers or sheer adventure on their minds. So different and unique the Wild Coast is that I reserved a separate place for it in this tome.
The remaining part of the Arrufat peninsula can also be subdivided by natural means, first into the major part of the land which stretches from the joinder with the main continent up to the Straits of Stevereev. It is fertile country, rich and plentiful – and one must say it flourished under the Tonomai rule whereas today much of its wealth has fallen to ruin under the constant strife and warfare between the new – and old – lords. Still there are enough peasants and good enough farmland to easily feed the people – but one must not think about what wealth there is lying fallow in the ground!
It is here that the single most important of cities can be found, Faithold, which in olden days was known as Diram, the home of the Arrufatian King of Kings, and under Tonomai rule was called Meraic. Faithold is a sprawling city on the banks of the Cidel river, a relatively small stream that has been contained with dams into a mostly straight line. When it was Meraic, Faithold had been the capital of a minor Tonomai province; the Reconquest devastated it and its ruins were unpopulated for more than a century. But when the Ibrollenian Revolution drove the Divine Speaker, the highest of priests, from his traditional seat in Sirap, he chose this town as the site of his new temple. In a mere decade, the entire city of Faithold sprang into being, cannibalizing the ruins for new buildings, carting thousands of tons of stone from the Secula Mountains for more. The princes of Arrufat came to worship the Divine Speaker, paid their tributes, built their embassies – and in short order Faithold became a center of trade, not to mention the logical venue for peacetalks to be held.
In the south, the river Victory runs a long and meandering course, broadly cleaving the land and separating Havencoast from the main section. Havencoast is also known as the Coast of Freedom or the Lucky Place, since it was the only portion of Arrufat that had never been conquered by the Tonomai. Notably Havencoast used to be split into a large numer of provinces five hundred years ago and only obtained a general name in the time since.
The Victory also bears other names, stemming from the various groups that have fought or lived alongside it: The river’s original name was the Silverspring, not because of its coloring but because of an unusually large number of silvermines near its banks; the Tonomai conquerors called it the Ellarny (which roughly translates as “We shall return” into meantongue); in the days of the Great Reconquest, the stream was most often referred to as the Red River or the River of Blood, for so much seemed poured into its floods. The latter name can still be heard often in Arrufat; it seems that its more pleasant official appellation has not been able to eradicate the memories of the fighting.
There is a small number of islands of varying size just beyond Havencoast, battered often by the storms of the White Ocean. The largest of these is the famed Isle of Elves, Milonisi. It is the only one that holds a large, constant population, not least due to the fact that it is protected from the storms by the other islands that seem to break the winds. (There also seems to be elven magic involved; unfortunately the Chara of Milonisi are not very forthcoming with information on this topic.)
I’ll gladly admit that this information seems rather sparse – particularly those who have traveled the Arrufat peninsula will quickly point out how much I have missed, how little time I spent on each place. Let it be said that this is thought to be a rough overview, and that with time I shall add more in later articles.
“Their ships crossed the Straits of Stevereev in the morning, sails billowing aplenty, white crests on the waves. Their intent was clear from the very first moment we saw the sails. Never had the infidels treated with us in peace, their unholy furor and false belief murdering ambassadors and merchants the same. Now they were coming to fight.
“My lord, the Archduke Leugim, had been preparing for this, gathered forces ever since the mad religion of the One God spread across the lands beyond the sea. But his preparations had gone to waste in the years of waiting for the Tonomai attack. So many warriors had settled down, sloughed off in their practice, that the army that assembled on the shores that morning counted few men in their twenties, most old veterans whose pieces of armor barely fit anymore.
“I have seen the battle. Loathe I am to tell you about its course, for it was predictably terrible as the curved Tonomai blades cut through our soldiers, announcing each fallen foe to their false god in rough cries. The Archduke, his family and I, his manservant, left the scene of the battle while the last of the defenders were still fighting in vain; in our carriages we rushed back to the palace.
“His son asked Leugim whether it would not be proper to fight and to die along with the defenders. ‘My son,’ the Archduke replied, ‘the city and its people are lost, but they are only buildings and peasants. It is we who carry the spirit of our home in our blood, that is what nobility means. By removing ourselves from this place, we steal true victory from our enemy’s hands.’
“I was ordered to quickly arrange for fresh horses, provisions and the best and most loyal of warriors of the palace guard. It took longer than I had expected, since many of the other servants had fled the palace, and the others had to be forced by our trusty guards to perform their duty.
“When the Archduke heard about the difficulties his eyes grew cold. ‘I consider these wretches assistants of our enemy,’ he informed the captain of the guard. ‘Do with them as is required.’
“We already heard the sounds of battle from the harborside of the city when our new carriages and the entourage of armored riders left the palace. Peasants were filling the streets, running and blocking our roads. Now there was no need for Leugim to instruct the guard how to handle this affair.
“It took us little time to leave our city. Leugim told the riders to head for Diram so that he might inform the King of Kings. I turned around in my seat in the hindmost wagon, where I sat guard over the silver cutlery and assorted other valuables from the palace. Smoke rose from the city, a dark cloud from a fire consuming the palace. I had called it home all my life, except for occasional excursions at my lord’s side. All that I had known was burning, but I rejoiced in the knowledge that my true home, the true spirit of our land had escaped the unholy grasp of the Tonomai.”
“I am beginning to fear for our beloved homeland. Yesterday the news reached Diram that another province had fallen to the infidel Tonomai – it was Nagralón, I believe, or some other minor duchy. Of course those people are rather unschooled in the way of the sword, and they have grown fat and complacent, convinced that the Tonomai would never put the battle to them.
“Archduke Leugim reminded me of this when he read the message. ‘Odraude, these people allow their peasants so much freedom, it is a miracle the King of Kings did not send armies to rectify this in the first place.’ Then he asked for another glass of wine, as so often is his want these days.
“Still the infidels continue to march across our great and wonderful land, ravage and burn everything in their path or pervert it – I have heard so many reports from refugees how the Tonomai have torn all the holy insignia from temples in cities and replaced them with the blank signs of their false god. The survivors of the slaughter are forced into slavery, all except for those dreadful traitors who yell out to join the conquerors. Yes, hard as it may be to believe for one like me who lives in the exalted circles of nobility and can lay claim on a trace of noble blood in one’s vein, the peasants are liable to throw away all our good religion and embrace the false, demonic shrine of the Tonomai god! How untrustworthy the peasants are!
“By all our good and high gods, this is what truly instills fear in my soul for how many of our soldiers in the path of the infidels are of noble birth? How many of them are peasants? The answer is, too many. If every one of our provinces were organized the way my lord Archduke used to run his, then I would scarcely worry. We were battered more by time than by lack of leadership – of which I am most certain. My lord has always made sure that the peasants know their place!
“But in places such as this Nagralón, where the peasants are granted leeway bordering on sacrilege – for have not the gods assigned them their lowly position? -, do the nobles still command their forces? Or do the traitorous peasants command the nobles?”
“Pardon me for writing so briefly and illegibly, dear friend, yet haste drives my quill, and I fear that soon my lord and I will have to move again. The battle against the Tonomai has gone badly, the King of Kings is reported to have fallen. My lord finds that hard to believe. ‘It would mean the spirit of our land is dead!’ he exclaimed only an hour ago. Then he ordered me to have our bags packed, a task which is now finished. Perhaps it was my fear that made me prepare our travel arrangements a week ago already, or was it foresight?
“I know not where my lord will set out for. If our nation has fallen along with the King of Kings, where can we go? Where can we find shelter?
“If it should be Ibrollene, which I dearly hope since I would enjoy conversing with you once more, I will attempt to send you another missive, provided the lines of messengers are not too corrupted by the war.”
“By the order of Maroud Afa’uk, blessed by the One True God, commander of the Holy Forces of the Tonomai Empire, the following persons have been consigned to slavery for blatant sacrilege against the One True God.
“To the mines of Kera Ilac shall go Terash Geroud, formerly guardcaptain of Leugim of Radlarbig, as well as the four remaining guards in custody.
“To be sold on the block at the harbor of Godhaven (formerly Radlarbig) shall go Archduke Leugim of Radlarbig, his wife and two daughters.
“To the Temple of the One True God in Rauret shall go Odraude Kelarhix, formerly manservant to Leugim of Radlarbig.
“May the One God have mercy on their souls.”
a document found in the Imperial Archives of Rauret (Tonomai capital of