|The Kingdom of Rondis|
|Language:||Arangothek and regional dialects.|
|Ethnic Group:||Akmans, Limbris, various others.|
|Current Ruler:||King Rakisa|
A small, isolationist kingdom, almost entirely encircled by the Lunit Mountains. Once the rulers of a far greater territory, the Rondissians had been pushed back by tribal raiders such as the Assi and the supernatural horrors of the Elgar Forest until few points of contact with the outside world remained.
Rondissian culture of the past half-century has been called quaint, happy-go-lucky and self-absorbed, with most citizens content to live simple lives of working, feasting and making art.
For the last fifty years or so, Rondis has done its best to cut itself off from the rest of the world.
In ancient times, the Kingdom of Rondis was a peaceful state occupying the whole of the Nie Valley from Antara to Taranor, as well as the land between the Connemara Mountains. Antara and Taranor were in fact both founded by the Rondissians. Already at that time Rondis' inhabitants represented a mixture of different races: one short, stocky and fair-complected known as the Akmans, and one tall, slender and swarthy known as the Limbris. As legend relates, King Rondis was a man of mixed parentage who subjected several smaller principalities to his rule by military force and was the first to unite the whole Nie Valley under one crown, perhaps 2500 years ago. This early state is said to have been dominated by the Limbris.
After a couple centuries of modest prosperity, this early Kingdom of Rondis fell prey to invasions from the south. An alien tribe known as the Uresti, displaced from its homeland to the south, settled in the southern Nie Valley and moved ever further northwards, displacing the Akman and Limbri farmers from their lands, many of which soon became overgrown and are known today as the vast Elgar Forest. Shortly after that, fierce pirates from across the sea began to raid and then settle the mouth of the Nie River; these were the Tavaoi, and they pushed the alien Uresti ever further northwards. The Tavaoi and Uresti eventually merged to form the people known today as the Assi (or so most historians argue these days), but in the process they drove the Rondissians out of the valley and into the uplands among the Connemara Mountains, which has been their home ever since. This caused a revolution against the Limbri elite, which had failed to protect the Rondissian homeland. Ever since that time, the Akmans have held all important offices within the (much smaller) kingdom, and Akman is the state's official language. Meanwhile, poets never cease to sing the glories of bygone days in which the Rondissian kingdom reached all the way to the ocean. As for the two great cities, Antara survived partly by paying tribute and partly because of its natural defenses; and Taranor was protected in part by its walls and partly by the Rashnaditz tribesmen who valued its merchants as trading partners. A new capital was established for the kingdom in the haven within the Connemara Mountains; it is known as Rondisa.
The Rondissians tried to continue using the Nie Valley as a trade route as well as they could, moving goods from Taranor southwards. However, the ethnic cauldron in their way usually presented an insurmountable obstacle. At one point a tribal confederation known as the Thorvasi laid siege to Taranor itself, though unsuccessfully. As an unexpected result of the Thorvasi loss in this war, a large portion of the northern Nie Valley was recaptured by the Rondissian merchants of Taranor, including the alien tribes' stronghold at Thoalgani, and large-scale mining operations were carried out there. Meanwhile, the tribes to the south were embroiled in almost perpetual civil war. So, for the space of some three or four centuries, Rondissian control over the upper Nie was reestablished.
Once the tribes of the lower Nie had been united by their kings Druladathin and Caladathai, the Rondissians maintained amicable trading relations with them, regaining some valuable tracts of long-lost farmland in the process. But with the overthrow of Caladathai by Uranadathai, relations deteriorated rapidly and the Rondissians living in the southern border areas were suddenly driven out or slaughtered in a fit of xenophobic excess. After some inconclusive diplomatic efforts, Uranadathai led an invasion of Rondis itself, known to future generations for the fearsome bloodbaths at Galathian, Sautrea and the Golden Hills. It was now for the first time that these tribes are referred to as "Assi" in the Rondissian chronicles; up until this point, the term "Thorvasi" had still been used.
A Rondissian prince named Kaseka had been betrothed to an Arangothian princess by the name of Lumera, but Lumera's caravan was waylaid on its way to Rondisa by the Assi and nothing was ever heard of the princess or her companions ever again. As a result of this outrage, the Rondissians and Arangothians formed an alliance against the Assi, and Kaseka's sister Palandra was betrothed to Prince Aladar of Arangoth to seal this agreement. Even these united forces proved no match for the Assi until the Arangothians engaged the services of the guild known as the Order of the Beady Eye. This Order finally subdued the Assi and began the laborious process of retaming the wilderness of Elgar Forest as a new Arangothian province. In the original agreement with Arangoth, the Rondissian Kingdom had been granted possession of the Upper Nie as its share of the conquered territory; however, the Rondissian army was stopped at the place known as the Stag's Antlers and never succeeded in occupying the land inhabited by the northern Assi and led by the Ietsai. Moreover, after twenty years a new Assi tribal confederation took some land that had been administered by the city of Taranor for many years, further removing Rondissian culture from the valley.
Nor were the Assi the only threat to Rondis. The Order of the Beady Eye soon grew corrupt, and because it had a virtual monopoly on Arangoth's foreign policy, began extorting an annual tribute from the Kingdom of Rondis, for which they did build and maintain several important roads. This was one of the outrages that led to the final showdown between the royal court and the Order of the Beady Eye, and the fall of the Old Kingdom of Arangoth. After this, the situation did not improve: the Assi, whom the Order had kept in check, immediately resolved upon an invasion of Rondis.
Sir Hawkeye of the House of Darbingray now rose to prominence. His ancestors in Darbingray village had been peasants who had suffered much as a result of the tribute paid to the Order of the Beady Eye. As he now took charge of defending his homeland, the Rondissians cut themselves off from contact with outsiders for the space of a generation: such contact had only brought them pain in the past. The Rondissians were involved in a long and bloody war with the Assi. Sir Hawkeye emerged as the hero of the war, which the Rondissians narrowly won after lifting a siege of Rondisa. Sir Hawkeye's son, Sir OneStab, was a close friend of the Rondissian Prince Sadita and later became a close companion of AngelSin and BLKDRAGON; he ultimately went with them to Arangoth and became a Royal Knight. Although the Rondissians did defeat the Assi, they did not restore order to the land beyond their frontiers, and Elgar Forest again became a howling wilderness. Hence there has been no good road from Arangoth or anywhere else to Rondis, which has exacerbated its xenophobic reaction. Furthermore, the city of Taranor was found to have been supplying arms to both the Rondissians and the Assi, and hence the last ties of kinship between Rondis and Taranor were broken.
Notable Historical Figures
King Rondis, the first ruler of the Rondissian Kingdom
Sir Hawkeye of the House of Darbingray
The Lakora River (sometimes known as the "Rondis River") flows northwards from the Lake of Swans, which is in turn connected by a short passage to the Silverfork River, a tributary of the Nie which meanders through the scrubland of the Silverfork Territory, a frontier region in which the Assi and Rondissians perpetually stage minor raids and counter-raids. The capital city, Rondisa, is located on the eastern bank of the Lakora valley not far north of the spot where the river flows into the Lake of Swans. It is quite a spectacular sight, built largely into a rugged mountainside, adorned by thousands of spires and colorfully-tiled roofs.
Government and Politics
Prince Sadita was for many years the heir apparent to the Rondissian throne. However, he had made it clear he intended to continue Rondis' isolation from the rest of the world. A powerful party of Rondissian noblemen who wanted to reintegrate Rondis into the international sphere murdered him roughly five years ago when his father, King Akika, was on his deathbed. The throne therefore passed to Sadita's uncle, the now-reigning King Rakisa. Rakisa has done his best to "open up" Rondis to the outside world, though he has not been very successful because Rondis is so difficult to reach. He has also been unsuccessful in his quest to find a foreign princess to marry, perhaps because Rondis is so incredibly isolated and living there would mean sacrificing most of one's family and friends.
Society and Peoples
Rondissian folk costume is very colorful and often adorned with stylized pictures of the "Milipin," a bright green-and-yellow bird found throughout the region. Men wear tall conical hats made from black sheepskin, while women wear what is known as the "earchain," an extension of the necklace which loops up over both ears. Rondissians commonly spend much of the day sitting in open-air establishments which serve a coffee-like drink known as "dukak" and sweet pastries. Music and dancing are highly advanced arts among them, and they are wont to recite very long national epics accompanied by a one-stringed lute.