The Origins of the Kingdom of Arangoth
- 1 The Age of Turmoil
- 2 The Rise of the Grand Duchies
- 3 The First King of Arangoth
- 4 The Succession of Kings
- 5 The Order of the Beady Eye
- 6 A King's Desire for World Domination
- 7 King Aladar
The Age of Turmoil
Many years ago, the land known today as Arangoth was inhabited by a primitive race known as the Goxal, who were ignorant to the ways of metalworking and ate their meat raw. They inhabited the lands around Song Deep, at peace and knowing neither leaders nor any hierarchy, and they traded their crops to the dwarvish miners of Ruthmarna to the south for metal tools and trinkets. For many generations it was thus.
But then stirrings in the far west led to great changes upon the landscape of the world. The noble Igmerinds had once possessed a kingdom of their own, but after a nomadic group known only as Rintriders destroyed their ancestral lands they were forced to seek refuge with the wealthy Sopts. The Mingit empire was destroyed very suddenly by the same horde from the western desert, leading the Igmerinds and the Mingits to both find shelter with their rich neighbors. Today the Mingits are scattered, dwelling in separate quarters in many cities (including Drache).
The Igmerinds briefly established a second kingdom, but it was destroyed centuries ago by the Leturians who migrated into what had been the old Mingit empire and Igmerind Empire. The Leturians made slaves of many Igmerinds, but many others continued yet further east, finally coming upon the lands of the primitive Goxal, who welcomed them into their midst. The whole land was then filled with song, there was no illness, and every animal could talk--or so they say. Eventually, however, the Igmerinds chose to assert themselves as the rulers of the land, drew their swords against the peaceful Goxal, and spilled their blood. Since then, the primeval music has vanished from the land, although it is remembered in the name of Song Deep; some hint of it may yet remain in the lapping Song Deeps' waters. Generations passed, and the Goxal and the Igmerinds gradually intermixed. It is from them that the native Arangothian humans of today are descended.
The Rise of the Grand Duchies
The first state which arose upon the territory of Arangoth was the Grand Duchy of Leptatarna, bordering upon Song Deep. The first historically well-documented ruler was Folvaholk the Great, Grand Duke [sithire] of Leptatarna. His tomb of tall megaliths stands atop a great hill, and the inscription there names him as Folvaholk, Grand Duke of Leptatarna, son of the mighty Fenduth, Grand Duke of Leptatarna. Of Fenduth, however, nothing save his name is known.
Folvaholk the Great built roads connecting other Arangothian-inhabited areas to Leptatarna, among them the great north-south highway that passes through the mountains of Ruthmarna and connects Inner Arangoth to the Darian valley in the south, where the city of Drache later arose. He subjected the dwarves of Ruthmarna to his authority, and coerced them into swearing fealty to him by threatening to deprive them of the foodstuffs from Leptatarna on which they subsisted. He established his son Kukarek as Grand Duke of Ruthmarna, and from that point onward, the heir to the Grand Duchy of Leptatarna--and later to the throne of the Kingdom of Arangoth--always held the title Grand Duke of Ruthmarna.
Folvaholk's son and successor Kukarek established good relations with the Khalar tribes to the north of Song Deep and put an end to their raids on Arangothian villages and towns. There were other Grand Duchies as well, namely Sresaria (in the Sresar Vale), East Arangoth, and Transdariania (in the Darian valley).
In olden times, however, there was no king of Arangoth; instead, each of the Grand Dukes was considered equal to the others. When conflicts arose among them, they generally warred among themselves at the expense of many lives and much money. These conflicts generally kept the land in perpetual misery, because none of the Grand Dukes could agree on the span or borders for different Grand Duchies.
The First King of Arangoth
During one particular feud between the Grand Dukes of East Arangoth and Sresaria, Leptatarna, lying directly between these two places, got the worst of the conflict. Grand Duke Kukarek's grandson was Tagran, and while he was Grand Duke of Leptatarna, the other Grand Duchies began to respect Tagran as an impartial intermediary and sought out his help in resolving their disputes. This came about when one of Tagran's advisors convinced him to mediate between his two warring peers in Sresaria and East Arangoth. Tagran hesitated, until his advisor gave him a stone, which he called the Stone of Concord. The advisor claimed that whoever possessed the stone was sure to have the power and authority to mediate disputes wisely. The stone actually had no powers whatsoever, but it gave Tagran confidence, and he managed to bring about a peace between the two feuding parties. His mediation was then sought routinely, until finally he was proclaimed the first King of Arangoth.
The Search for the Apple-Pear Tree
Grand Duke Tagran of Leptatarna, upon becoming the first King of Arangoth, decided to build a new city to serve as the kingdom's capital. Until then, the largest city in the region had been the market center of Hornath ul-Marfed, but it was not majestic enough to suit the new king's tastes. Moreover, Tagran had had a dream in which he stood before a tree from which both an apple and a pear grew, and he resolved to find the tree and build his new capital on the spot. King Tagran and his entourage traveled all over Leptatarna looking for the tree. Week after week passed with no luck; no such tree seemed to exist anywhere in the world. Finally, while they were camped alongside Song Deep, Tagran went fishing and caught a large pike, in the belly of which he found a pomegranate. This was close enough to the apple-pear tree, so he decided forthwith to found his new capital there. Because they were also only a few miles from where the Peraltok River flows into Song Deep, he decided to fudge things a bit further and build the city there.
The Founding of Tagrana
Stones from the mountains of Keletoth-ul-Sangli (the Horse's Head) to the northwest were moved by camel to the construction site. The camels were worked so hard during the city's construction that the native breed died out, resulting in the extinction of the Arangothian camels. The roof of the royal palace was made of pure gold, mined by dwarves in Ruthmarna, and its walls were decorated with lapis lazuli and other precious stones. The palace housed two hundred and thirty-seven rooms and was shaped like a vast spiral when viewed from above, with an onion-domed tower at its center. The dome was taller than any tree, and within it, a magical fire was kept burning at all hours. Legends surrounding this magical flame said that it would continue burn for as long as the Kingdom of Arangoth remained.
Among the two hundred and thirty-seven rooms were spacious guest quarters for visiting dignitaries, kitchens in which the finest delicacies to be found in Arangoth were prepared, kennels, stables, pools, archives, armories, treasuries, and the throne room, from which King Tagran dispensed justice. The city itself became known as Tagrana, named after its builder, and it was the capital of Arangoth until it was nearly destroyed during the cataclysm that brought an end to the Old Kingdom. Arangothian years are still counted from the foundation of the city of Tagrana (470 years ago in the actual year 2000).
The Succession of Kings
Tagran reigned for thirty-one years. His son Arduin reigned for twenty-seven years; Arduin's son Amurath reigned for six years, but his reign was cut short when he suddenly fell ill and died young. Amurath's younger brother, Forban, ascended the throne of Arangoth and reigned for thirty-seven years. During Forban's reign, his son, Prince Herbord, was the commander of the Arangothian armies. That same year, Prince Herbord's son Anskar was born. Herbord later ascended to the throne and reigned for sixteen years, and following his reign, Anskar reigned for forty-one years. In the reign of King Anskar occurred the Fall of the House of Silad. From this point onwards, the King would appoint governors to the outlying provinces, rather than rely on hereditary succession.
Anskar's son Gerd reigned sixteen years, and Gerd's son Rafold reigned twenty-three years. Rafold's son Arduin reigned forty-one years; Arduin's son Aladar reigned twenty-three years. Aladar had no children, so Ware, son of his brother Forban, succeeded to the throne upon his death.
King Ware and the Assi
A people known as the Assi dwelt along the valley of the upper Nie River. They were a lawless band of ruffians who pillaged towns and villages in East Arangoth, although they never dared to attack any major fortresses or cities. They also sent raiding expeditions eastward to the Kingdom of Rondis, which is mostly surrounded by the Kanemara Mountains but is open and vulnerable to attack on its southern border. The East Arangothian peasantry was made utterly miserable by the relentless Assi raids, but the noblemen who lived in their secure chateaus and fortresses were little inclined to risk their own necks. They longed for glorious battle against people of honor, not frustrating border-patrol duties, and the royal court did nothing for many years. Finally, however, the court was jolted into action.
King Ware of Arangoth decided to marry his daughter to the Prince of Rondis, a prosperous mountain kingdom to the east. He sent his daughter across the wild borderlands along the Nie River with a magnificent entourage and an enormous dowry in gold. On the way, she and her whole entourage, including dozens of nobles, were overtaken by Assi tribesmen and carried off into the wilds of Elgar Forest. No one from the entourage was ever seen alive again, but the Assi left the heads of several of the guards impaled on pikes outside an East Arangothian citadel.
King Ware, blinded by fury, swore to wipe the Assi from the very face of the map and redoubled his resolve to ally his kingdom with the Rondissians. The outrage shared by both royal courts lead to their vow to punish the Assi a thousandfold for what they had done. Now that his daughter was dead, King Ware decided that his son, Prince Aladar, would wed a Rondissian princess. Palandra was her name, and her father, the King of Rondis, quickly assented to the union. However, because of the war-torn borderlands, it was deemed unsafe for the princess to travel to Arangoth for the wedding. Instead, the marriage was concluded by proxy; the Chancellor of Arangoth was sent to kneel in Palandra's bed and recite the wedding vows in Prince Aladar's name. He returned with only a small portrait of the princess for Aladar; as soon as the war was over, the sixteen-year-old boy was told, he could be united with his bride.
Arangoth and Rondis Unite, and the People Rebel
The Arangothians and the Rondissians concluded an alliance against the Assi, and though they fought them for many years, they were never able to defeat them. Whenever the two allied kingdoms seemed to be getting the upper hand, the Assi would flee to their homeland in Elgar Forest. Neither the Arangothians nor the Rondissians had the courage to follow them into such a hell-hole, and so, year after year, the Assi raiding parties grew bolder and carried off the livestock, adolescent daughters, and any other moveable wealth of the poor peasantry. The peasants of Arangoth reacted by refusing to pay taxes to a king who could not protect them. They chased the royal tax-collectors away with scythes and pitchforks, and some even joined the Assi. East Arangoth was on the brink of a bloody peasants' war.
An Anxious Prince, and the War Rages
In the meantime, Prince Aladar was eager to see his wife (of several years now) in person, having only a portrait of the Rondissian princess brought back by the Chancellor from the proxy wedding. Her father was too protective to allow her to leave Rondis while there was still the slightest danger associated with the roads, and to add to the unpleasantness of the situation, Arangothian and Rondissian troops began to quarrel with each other, making joint operations against the Assi very difficult to arrange. The war continued for many months. One year passed, and a second, and then a third, and still the battles raged upon the Nie River and in the Kanemara Mountains.
Prince Aladar's Illness and Illegitimate Son
In the meantime, Prince Aladar grew weak and sickly, and finally a long illness left him confined to his bed in a terrible delirium. At this, King Ware tore his beard and cried, "O dastardly death, you have taken my only daughter from me--do not also take my only son!" The most learned doctors of Arangoth hied to the prince's bedside, but they were all unable to cure him.
Finally, it was a peasant girl named Delvige who restored Aladar's health with fragrant herbs, melodies, and laughter. Aladar, who was now eighteen and had still not been permitted to meet his Rondissian bride because of the war, fell deeply in love with Delvige, and in the course of time she bore him a son. When King Ware found out, he was furious. He first ordered Delvige's nose, ears and lips cut off, and then ordered her and her child to be dragged to their deaths behind a horse on the cobblestone streets of Tagrana. He eventually repented of this, and instead simply had them sent away to a distant province of his kingdom. With that, Prince Aladar lost his will to live, and he once more fell terribly ill, leaving the doctors of the city shaking their heads and saying he might live another two years, or another four, but not much beyond that.
Now King Ware again feared that he would be left without an heir, and so he sent for Delvige's son, his own grandson, and had him raised in the palace. The illegitimate boy was named Donnovath, or "hope." The king grew very fond of the little child, and had ingenious toys crafted for him of precious metals and gems.
The Order of the Beady Eye
About this time, a guild of knights known as the Order of the Beady Eye entered the region from somewhere in the west, from whence they had been expelled (for some reason or other known best to themselves). They promised King Ware that they would subdue the Assi once and for all, on the condition that they be allowed to settle in the lands they helped to conquer. The king accepted these terms. With the Order's help, the Assi were finally pacified, and their forests were declared the new Arangothian province of "Elgaria." However, Elgar Forest is a place both deep and dark and full of insidious beings who kneel to no sovereign.
King Ware sent out several of his most capable underlings to organize the new province, naming one of them Grand Duke, but they all ended up dead or scared out of their wits. The Order of the Beady Eye alone was able to keep the indigenous population of monsters and cutthroats in check because of theie extraordinary discipline. When King Ware saw it was hopeless to expect his own noblemen to govern the new province, he turned it over to the Order of the Beady Eye, whom he instructed to govern there in his name. The Order built mighty roads connecting parts of the forest with the seashore near the mouth of the Darian River and with the foothills of Ruthmarna. Now that the passage was safe, Prince Aladar and Princess Palandra were united at long last, just in time for their fifth anniversary. Donnovath, Aladar's illegitimate son, was soon removed from the succession by the birth of Palandra's first male child, named Forban. However, Donnovath's descendants comprised the noble family of Gosprey [from gosporre, or 'prince'] and held many important offices of state.
The Order of the Beady Eye diligently patrolled the Nie River and other rivers with well-armed pinnaces or shallops, and to pay for all their undertakings they invited families from Inner Arangoth and Sresaria to settle there and clear farmland from the forest, taking a fraction of their crops in local taxes for defense. Gradually the knights carved out a thriving farming community in the heart of dark Elgar Forest, and they even stocked the fearsome Black Lagoon with pike and catfish.
King Ware was pleased to have found a new fighting force willing and eager to serve the Arangothian crown, and he set about taking advantage of it. The Order of the Beady Eye was next sent against the Korthai pirates of the southwestern coast, which is how Arania became part of the kingdom. Their cunning architects improved the old pirates' lair, transforming it into their Order's headquarters, known as Sivriana. Beginning the year after that, the Order knights along with the regular Arangothian army were sent to bring peace to the mountains of the northwest, carving out the Province of Outer Arangoth (including Caern) over the course of the next decade. Until then, the region's inhabitants had been a lawless mixture of elves (outlaws from Elvendeep to the south), mithril-mining dwarves and human bandits. The pattern of government established in Elgaria continued in these new unstable regions, and Arania and Outer Arangoth were henceforth governed with the king's consent by the Order of the Beady Eye. The leader of this group, called their grand master, was therefore very powerful. The grand master who brought the guild to Arangoth was named Sivrian Dollitrog, and his descendants (of the Dollitrog family) inherited his post from him for several generations. The Dollitrogs were known for their valor and for the sanctity of their given word, and they were by far the tallest people in Arangoth, being descended from a race of giants.
A King's Desire for World Domination
Encouraged by his great military successes, King Ware began to contemplate trying to conquer the whole of the known world. In twelve years he had doubled the size of his kingdom and added three new provinces. When the Korthai pirates had been driven out of Arania, they had fled first to the harbor at the free city of Ethcabar-Antara and had then moved southwards to Aslar, Tollor, the Isles of Myst, and Equine Island. Considering only that Ethcabar had, willingly or not, granted refuge to the enemies of Arangoth, King Ware demanded that this free city submit to his suzerainty and pay an enormous indemnity. The proud city naturally refused, and newly-built Arangothian warships blockaded Ethcabar harbor while an army with a large contingent from the Order set off overland across Elgaria and down the Nie River to lay siege to the city.
The attempt at conquering Ethcabar turned into a disastrous fiasco. The army was decimated passing through unsafe parts of Elgar Forest. The Nie River had overflowed its banks due to an unusually rainy spring, which made marching alongside it nearly impossible. The task of building enough rafts to float the remaining army downstream to Ethcabar delayed them for over a week. In the meantime, the burghers of Ethcabar conducted a daring nighttime assault upon the Arangothian navy lurking in their harbor, burning and sinking most of King Ware's fleet.
The king of Aslar at the time was a native of Ethcabar, and convinced the Aslarians that if Ethcabar fell, Aslar would surely be attacked next. Those lucky enough to have survived the Ethcabar Campaign so far were faced with the prospect of an army from Aslar fast approaching to help defend the city. A general retreat was ordered, which is still commemorated every year in Ethcabar. Still, Ethcabar recognized that chance had played a large role in their deliverance from the Arangothian onslaught, and therefore the city graciously arranged a perpetual peace with King Ware, pledging not to harbor any pirates who plagued the Transdarianian coast.
The strategy vis-a-vis the Khalar tribes to the north had always been to arrange a peace agreement with whatever tribe controlled the mountains on the southern border of Kahlahra. This was generally the Sherkhen tribe, which regularly agreed to seventy-year peace treaties with Arangoth. Each time the peace was renewed there were great festivities upon the waters of Song Deep (the common border) and costly presents were exchanged. The Sherkhen emissaries brought thoroughbred Khalar horses for the Arangothian king, and the Arangothian emissaries in turn presented gem-encrusted gilt sabres, goblets, and trinket-boxes to the Sherkhen chiefs and their wives. King Ware thought to refuse the renewal of this treaty when it expired, and to extend his dominion north across Song Deep. However, his armies were still tied up in the conquest of Outer Arangoth, and so he did renew the treaty with the Sherkhen.
King Ware had reigned for 56 years at the time of the Ethcabar campaign, and afterwards he reigned for another 22. In all, he reigned 78 years and died a very old man. Since Prince Aladar died before he did, Aladar's son Prince Forban succeeded to the throne and reigned for 20 years. After that, Forban was succeeded by his own son, King Aladar.
Aladar was a wise king in part because of an ability he had been given around the time of his birth by a magician from some faraway and unknown place. The magician had offered to impart this ability in return for a purse of silver, and Aladar's parents had agreed. Since most magicians asked for purses of gold, this seemed like quite a bargain. The whole thing had soon slipped their minds, and they never mentioned it to Aladar. The details only came out years later after an examination of the old court account books.
The ability meant that when Aladar looked at someone, he saw directly into that person's innermost soul. He could tell whether a person was honest and well-meaning or dishonest and evil, and so when he became king, he was able to pick faithful advisors, knowing from looking at them with his inner eye that they would never turn against him. His first chancellor was a man by the name of Perlim Silkenvest, chosen because he was unquestionably loyal, even ruthlessly so. Chancellor Silkenvest, the king supposed, would counterbalance his own personal tendency to be overly forgiving and lenient. Criminals too learned that the king could correctly judge their guilt or innocence by a simple glance. King Aladar's first wife, Queen Thrinda, died in childbirth, although her son survived to become the later King Dorn.