Nations and Places
Section I: Nations
Section II: Places of Renown
“What has happened to Varnón? I still haven’t heard a word from him! Tauriel tells me it’s only a matter of time, that he has so much work to get done, but I miss him. And I have to run the tavern!
“Thank the gods I didn’t sell the Singing Swan to Seelany right away, or I would have been out on the streets. The jaundarms can’t do so much to keep them safe, and I
“Tauriel tells me to head for the caverns under the city if there should be a riot of blackrobe supporters. I can’t believe there would be so many that the jaundarms couldn’t suppress them immediately, but Tauriel is worried. I would feel so much safer with Varnón. My children would, too. Dear diary, they still call for Fradrik!
“At least Seelany and her husband help me out. I have to pay them a hefty share, but it’s worth it. They are good people.”
From the diary of Laurônz Dartanyô, 23 Quorun 3142 A.E.
volumes of Mistress Dartanyô’s diary (3142 – 3149) are missing.
Unlike the others which her son (Little) Fradrik brought to the newly
re-built Darawk Academies of Faithold in 3159 A.E., these two are said to
still be in the catacombs beneath Sirap.
had the opportunity to speak with Master Dartanyô during his brief stay
in Faithold (fortuitously coinciding with my own visit). Not only did I
learn and read the intriguing diary of his mother, he also filled in some
of the gaps in the writings. Though he was a young boy at the time, he
says that the tavern and his family fell on hard times. The former
magistrate Varnón Vallis now had taken on the title of Governor,
effectively serving in lieu of three-year-old king Onrik, hasn’t played
much of a part in Master Dartanyô’s memories, so he must have removed
his former lover from his attention. In fact Governor Vallis married a
lady of the royal line within three months of the capture of Sirap.
were imposed with impunity. The Singing Swan no longer escaped them
because – as Master Dartanyô suggests – Governor Vallis wanted to
erase all links to his former lover. (And also, as I have pieced together
the story, the older Fradrik’s association with the Blackrobes had
exempted the tavern from the taxes and fees demanded during King Lùdig’s
reign.) Despite Mistress Dartanyô’s best efforts to reclaim the
tavern’s old set of patrons – artists and clerics -, the Singing
Swan was shunned by many of them. The majority of patrons were
jaundarms, which turned the inn into a boisterous, loud mess that Mistress
Dartanyô detested. The former barmaid Seelany Dalroc and her husband Jón
clearly enjoyed the new atmosphere, and so did (Little) Fradrik. His eyes
gleamed when he told me of his boyhood’s explorations along the tales of
the jaundarms, and how he learned to use a sword in that tavern, along
with practice lessons from the policemen.
mother did not stop him, although Fradrik expected her to all the time. It
is quite clear that in those years she had taken up with the elf Tauriel
(whose full name is never mentioned in the diary, and neither does Fradrik
recall his clan or family name). The elf encouraged the boy to learn about
swords, although he rarely taught him anything in person.
Dartanyô suffered severely in those days. Little Fradrik remembers that
she shut herself into her room every morning, and he would hear her
sobbing inside. In the early days she would continually send letters to
Governor Vallis, presumably to ask for his assistance. Fradrik thinks it
was about 3145 that she completely stopped the letters. “When I was six
years old, it was as if my mother had died, and there was this strange
person around the house,” he says. “Vrony and Aunt Seelany raised me
from that day on. Neither of us understood, not until I read her diaries
much later on. She had told me stories about the evil Blackrobe
conspiracy, and now she seemed much a Blackrobe herself, with the clothes
she wore and how she would shut herself away for days on end. I was afraid
of Mother, and afraid for her – something that I couldn’t comprehend
rejoin her tale four years after that change, in the summer of 3149 A.E.
“Father Reméque told us to pray for the good of Varnón today. How can he dare to say that? Doesn’t he know that the gods are preparing a special fire for him in the abysses? Oh, surely they are preparing to roast Reméque alongside of Varnón, the great and benevolent Governor.
“I have spoken to Clôdyn again, in Môncial’s book shop. How strange that I should now be one of the whispering people in the shop that had once belonged to Remônzau. But Remônzau had to sell his shop, and it was only good fortune that a friend of ours could take over. I know Môncial keeps losing money, but it is such a good cover for our conversations. If I could only be sure of the jaundarms… Clôdyn thinks we cannot trust a single one of them, but Tauriel is different. He shares our thoughts, and so do the elves amongst the jaundarms and those in the caverns below. (Three weeks since I last was there. Dear diary, you must feel lonely now that your companions and predecessors have gone to that dark place, but they are safe there, with the elves.)
“Clôdyn has told me about the droughts in the eastern provinces. People are dying everywhere. They may only be peasants, but they are people. If Varnón were as benevolent as the bastard claims to be, he would help them. He raises enough money to buy food for them!
“But he doesn’t. Instead he’s building himself a new palace – I know it’s for him. He can claim forever more that it will be a new High Temple for the Divine Speaker, but it’s him who will reign there, as a new king with his horse-faced wife. Royal line! Varnón wants to be royal himself. Poor little Onrik, he’ll suffer an accident and vanish. Clôdyn knows that the Furrag bodyguards assigned to the boy have secret orders to kill him at a certain signal from Varnón.
“It won’t matter. Tauriel told me about the reigns of kings he has lived through. (Eighty-seven years old, he is. And so young! And so handsome!)”
From the diary of Laurônz Dartanyô, 11 Glymarion 3149 A.E.
“A word is making the rounds of the tavern. Brownrobes. I hate the word. It sounds so much like the Blackrobes that nearly ruined our Beautiful Nation. But that’s the word, and everybody’s using it. Why, even Clôdyn does! He says that it’s useful in its irony, but I don’t like it any better for that. Irony is lost on the minds of the masses. That’s what the book says, and I know it to be true. I’ve been an innkeeper for next to twenty years, I’d better know something about the people!
“Brownrobes. Next thing I know Clôdyn will make us die our tunics brown.”
From the diary of Laurônz Dartanyô, 1 Radobun 3150 A.E.
“What is Clôdyn talking about with Vrony all day long? She’s a fifteen-year-old girl, doesn’t he know that? Whispering and chatting with her as if… I will have to speak to him about that. I don’t like it. The girl should be waiting the tables. Seelany isn’t getting any younger, and Vrony can take care of the tables. I wouldn’t put her near the money box unattended, the girl has such a wispy mind.
Fradrik is beginning to look like a grown man, and I wonder if I hadn’t
been wrong about him all the time. The way he’s filling out his clothes,
and his face develops all those edges, he reminds me of Fradrik. I will
not speak ill of my dead husband, but I do not like to look at my son and
“Winter is waning, and I’m afraid of the news from the east. How many will have died during the chill time, after the droughts and starvations that had plagued summer and fall? It’s a sign of the gods, that’s what it is. The gods despise Varnón’s unholy regime, disguised by pretended love of our faith!”
From the diary of Laurônz Dartanyô, 3 Quorun 3150 A.E.
“The gods are false! They must be! They must be!
“Today the Divine Speaker blessed Varnón as the ‘Holy Governor of the Sacred Land of Ibrollene’. Oh, my pen is quivering while writing, and I cannot believe the words that I see printed on the poster before me! Tauriel was there, and he saw a shower of golden light surrounding Varnón. The gods indeed blessed him.
“How can they do that if they are as righteous as the priests claim? How can they grant their might to a Divine Speaker who is on the side of darkness and unholiness?
“Clôdyn says that they are weakened. They once were true gods, but now they are frightened to wither away as the old deities of the Tonomai have once done. I asked him of what they were afraid, but Clôdyn only smiled and said, ‘Ibrollene.’ What kind of an answer is that? The man is getting to be mad, and he hasn’t stopped smiling at Vrony. I told Vrony to stay away from him, and the girl shouted that she was her own woman. A woman? That slip of a girl? Why, she doesn’t have a clue of life, and now she proclaims herself a woman.
“The days of our world must be drawing to a close. I feel a change in my bones. I long to speak to Tauriel again, to have him here with me, but he must stay with Varnón, to keep an eye on him, and to guard the boy-king from his Furrag bodyguards.”
From the diary of Laurônz Dartanyô, 19 Tabrokun 3151 A.E.
“I am beginning to feel stronger. The sickness of the past months has passed, and I believe it is Clôdyn who has given me strength. He has explained to me what will swipe the unholy gods and Varnón from our land. Our land itself, our nation. The Beautiful Nation, Ibrollene.
“We shall rise up, we shall be a deity of our own. The collective force of our land, it will stand up to the gods who profess to be our creators, and we will destroy them! We will take vengeance! All of us, every single good Ibrollenian.
“Vrony must do so as well. She has begun to wear daggers and to practice with them. Good! If only her sense was clear enough to give me faith in her… Little Fradrik will be a good soldier, though. Tauriel is satisfied with his development. I know that he looks like his father who was a foolish Blackrobe, but Little Fradrik will make up for his father’s shame. I know it! He shall be part of our nation, he shall be part of the new god!”
From the diary of Laurônz Dartanyô, 11 Destrab 3152 A.E.
“Poor diary, how dirty you have become! I try to take care of you, but all that marching, it doesn’t make things easier. Three weeks we have been walking towards the eastern provinces, where Clôdyn said our comrades would be waiting. The True Army of Ibrollene, he said. I long to see them! Row upon row of mighty warrior, infused with the power of our great nation. We shall vanquish the evil men who occupy our land and call it their home! They will all fall, all of them.”
From the diary of Laurônz Dartanyô, 9 Farestun 3152 A.E.
“Where is Little Fradrik? That silly boy! Vrony doesn’t know, and she was supposed to look out for him. I may forgive my son-in-law for not noticing – Clôdyn is really busy with our army, getting armoring and weaponing into our hide-aways in the mountains -, but Vrony, she doesn’t have much to do besides looking out for her little brother.
“That boy! He looks like his father, and he has all the stupidity of my husband! Run off to look for some young girl in the village at the base of the mountain, I’m sure!”
From the diary of Laurônz Dartanyô, 23 Segrun 3153 A.E.
“On the march again. We will reach Bordò in two days, Clôdyn says. I cook every evening for the soldiers. If the spirit of our nation were not with me, I would not be able to lift a finger. Vrony helps sometimes. Far too rarely.
“I should cook for Little Fradrik, but the boy hasn’t been seen since Segrun! Where is he?”
From the diary of Laurônz Dartanyô, 23 Aqualun 3153 A.E.
“My eyes are failing. I know it. Clôdyn says it’s impossible, but I was sure that I saw Little Fradrik on the battlements of Bordò Castle! In the armor of the unholy foes!
“It can’t be Little Fradrik. My boy died back in the east. He had an accident when he went down to the mountain village. I should have stayed there to look for his body, or at least to find out who the girl was.
“I am resolved in the Spirit of the Beautiful Nation. Tomorrow we will attack the castle, and we will take it. I will do my part, dear diary, as will Vrony. As will Clôdyn. And Little Fradrik’s spirit will be fighting alongside with us!”
From the diary of Laurônz Dartanyô, 27 Aqualun 3153 A.E.
was the last entry in Mistress Dartanyô’s diary. She died on the
battlefield at Bordò, from a stray arrow fired by her own Brownrobes. Clôdyn
also perished, in a swordfight with one of the defenders – ironically it
was indeed (Little) Fradrik Dartanyô. His mother had seen him after all.
Dartanyô had run away from the Brownrobe army at the beginning of the
year. “It wasn’t nobility that made me do it,” he told me in our
conversation at Faithold. “I wanted to get away from Mother, and from
Vrony. Really, I wanted to get back to the Singing Swan, to Aunt
Seelany. She was the only sane person I knew at that time – excepting my
friends among the jaundarms. I didn’t care about the Brownrobes, I
didn’t care about Varnón and his regime. I wanted to go home.”
he came to Bordò where he met Tauriel. The elf was among the guards
assigned to the royal party, for young King Onrik had taken his winter
residence at Bordò Castle. Under strange circumstances Fradrik met
Tauriel again (he has not elaborated on those circumstances, but they seem
to have involved several swordfights and the revelation of a plot to
murder the king.) As a result of those events, Fradrik joined the royal
guard – the Mayal -, as a special trustee of the king. Onrik was
thirteen years old at the time and seems to have formed a special bond of
friendship with Fradrik (who had barely turned fifteen at that time and
theoretically could not be admitted to the ranks of the Mayal).
battle at Bordò Castle was a victory for the defenders. The Brownrobe
troops were routed and thought defeated. Amongst the dead, Fradrik found
his mother’s body (and with it the final volume of her diary). He
arranged for her funeral pyre, and then he returned to Sirap with the
the following year the Brownrobes would regroup. According to rumors,
Fradrik’s sister had taken a leading role in that, but he never found
out for certain. He did find out that his father was still alive – more
or less forgotten in the dungeons. King Onrik signed a pardon for the
elder Fradrik, despite the objections of Governor Vallis. The elder
Fradrik would live for six months longer, returning to the Singing
Swan and selling it to Seelany’s husband.
younger Fradrik’s time at court must have been adventurous. He only
alluded to intrigues, masterminded by both Governor Vallis and the
Brownrobes. Both were out to kill the king, and it was to him that Fradrik
gave his allegiance. He seems to have formed a quartet of devoted Mayal,
together with Tauriel and two others. I cannot say for certain since
Fradrik didn’t speak much of those times.
came to a sharp end when the Brownrobes resurged. In 3154 A.E., their new
army began its second campaign, which would see a victory for their side a
year later. King Onrik was arrested, supposed to be executed along with
Governor Vallis – yet he was spirited out of his prison cell by Fradrik
and his companions from the Mayal. (Quite adventurous, indeed.)
Fradrik was captured during the escape. His companions brought the king to
safety, as by their previous agreement, while Fradrik was put on trial by
3155 A.E., Fradrik was jailed in the very same cell where his father had
been. Nearly four years would pass before he managed to break out –
aided by his old friends who had come back into Ibrollene. The quartet
fled to Faithold, where King Onrik still resides, protected by the
remainder of the Mayal. It was at his makeshift court that I met
short while after our conversations, Fradrik and his friends left
Faithold. I have not been able to find out more about them. Did they go
back to Ibrollene? Are they still alive? I do hope so. Young Fradrik
Dartanyô was an impressive man, very determined to see his king returned
to his rightful throne.
must say a few more things about the developments in Ibrollene since 3155.
Governor Vallis was not executed but merely jailed. The rule of the
Brownrobes succeeded only insofar as the temples of our gods were razed
and replaced by monstrosities that profess to serve the Spirit of the
Nation as a new deity. Worship of the gods is forbidden. Many clerics who
could not escape the land were executed in public.
the Brownrobes who conquered the land soon began to quarrel amongst
themselves. They broke apart into fractions who fought each other as
viciously as they had fought against the royal troops. Sometimes the newly
installed governments only lasted a week before they were replaced by
others. Each new set of rulers would do its best to kill the members of
the preceding rulers, if it had time enough to do so.
ruled. Governor Vallis managed to use that confusion to put himself into
power again – twice, in 3156 and 3160. His latest rule lasted for over a
year, until he finally was executed.
(3165 A.E. as of this writing), Ibrollene has quieted down. There are as
many fractions there as before; their hatred for each other is as
profound. And there are various armies throughout the land, belonging to
one fraction or the other. It is still a confusing place, far from the
Beautiful Nation that Ibrollene once was. The current quiet seems to be
the calm of fatigue, a respite before another storm will sweep through the
 That would be the “Book of Truth”, a pamphlete of rulings and regulations that the Brownrobes adopted. Its authors are unknown, but among them is presumed to be the Clôdin (Varchón) in Mistress Dartanyô’s diary.