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Aelissia

The Delves
Aelissia History
Population Centers
Important Sites

 

AELISSIA
Capital: The Great Delve
Population:
726,890 (86% halfling, 7% human, 3% gnome, 2% dwarf, 1% elf)
Government:
Republic
Religions:
Conorrian
Imports:
Salt, spices, cloth, pottery
Exports:
Livestock, grain, wool, ale, pipeweed, woodwork
Updated Through: 2806

Between the swift-running waters of the river Veinre and the waves of the Golden sea lies a fertile land of farms, fields and wild heath. Little noticed among the nations of the world, Aelissia is the homeland of Vatheriaís halflings. From their hillside dwellings and small hamlets, the halflings of Aelissia provide the Conorrian world with many fine varieties of brown ale and mellow pipeweed, as well as woolen clothes widely regarded as the very best.

The halflings of Aelissia are governed by an elected council called the Moot, which meets for six months out of every year at the Great Delve. Each village sends a single representative, and each town sends two. The Moot makes laws and considers problems facing the citizenry, but in practice its powers are limited to setting trade policy in peacetime and raising armies in wartime. The day-to-day power in Aelissia is local, with elected mayors and sheriffs collecting taxes and performing most services.

Aelissia has survived amidst large and aggressive neighbors because it has repeatedly proved itself capable of defending its borders. More than one army of Lorraine or Corland has found the superb Aelissian archers to be well-trained and well-armed. In recent years, volunteer Aelissian militias have served in the armies of Corland in the war with the Hírethek.

The Delves

While many halflings live in houses like those of the larger races, most still live in the traditional manner. This consists of burrows dug into the rolling green hillsides, usually amidst the roots of some large tree. Any gathering or collection of these burrows are called delves. A halfling burrow is usually comfortably appointed, as halflings have a great appreciation for creature comforts and tradition. They tend to be no more than five feet high in most places, however, and so can be uncomfortable for taller races. Hospitality is an important halfling value, however, and so wealthier halflings often have foyers tall enough to accommodate human guests.

History

Halfling legend tells that their forebears first crossed the Veinre into the lush wilds of Aelissia a thousand years before the founding of the Conorrian calendar. In any case, they kept no records in those days, but when the Conorrian legions first arrived in CY 503, they found this diminutive people in possession of a wealthy and strategically-located land. While there was some scattered resistance to the Conorrian conquest, most halflings saw entry into the empire as preferable to the constant raids by their human and goblin neighbors, and quickly settled into a profitable relationship with their new masters. After their service in the Beltene Wars, Aelissian halflings were given full Conorrian citizenship in CY 896.

In the years CY 992-1140, Skane raiders were loose upon the coasts of Vatheria, looting, pillaging and setting up petty kingdoms. The Conorrian garrisons at Galladian and Nicomedia provided protection against any permanent invasions, but were powerless against the quick raids, and so most of the halfling population moved inland, leaving the shores uninhabited for centuries.

A far more serious invasion occurred in CY 1455, when the orcs of the Stormpeaks came crashing down into the lands around the Golden Sea in great numbers. The Conorrian garrisons responded with admirable speed, blunting the tide of orcs and defeating them in a series of pitched battles in the Lirienwood. But the battles stretched the legions to the breaking point, and many bands of marauders crossed into the quiet lands east of the wood. Aroused to their danger, the halflings assembled their militias and went to the aid of the Conorrians, fighting first a series of raids on the orcish bands, and then a major battle in a field of hedgerows. The halflings, under Kneddran, the Mayor of Great Delve, managed to relieve the besieged legion at Oldbarrow, much to the amazement of the beleaguered humans.

In 1791, when the Emperor Hadrasius XXI was assassinated, the Aelissian governor was Hadrasiusí nephew, Edrigos. Edrigos died the same night as his uncle. Many believe he was killed by a halfling assassin who had been working among his staff. The bloody civil war which thereafter gripped the empire was known as the Mage Wars, and Aelissia was not to remain untouched by the violence and savage bloodshed of those years. Longarrow the Warlock, one of the many claimants to the throne, established a temporary capitol at Oldbarrow and raised an undead army from the bones of the orcs which had lain there for eight hundred years. These minions of the Warlock had soon driven much of the population to havens west along the coast, or south into Corland. For those that remained, the devastation rained down on Longarrow by his opponents, particularly the sorcerer known as Firedrake, was as terrible as the undead occupation. Whole towns and villages were put to the torch by Firedrakeís minions, and the Lirienwood was nearly destroyed.

The Empire split in two as a result of the Mage Wars. In the east, Hadrasiusí son Valerius had been named Imperator, while the west came to rest in the hands of the arch-mage Markimillien the Shadowstaff, who named himself Markimillien I. In the aftermath of the war, Aelissia was left largely unhurt by the stiff taxes under which most of the empire suffered for years. This was because Markimillien had inherited a ravaged empire and the big cities were literally starving and in constant revolt. As one of the richest farming provinces, Aelissia was called upon for large levies of food, but little in the way of taxes, and so the halfling farmers returned to their former wealth in little more than a generation, although the population has never recovered, even to this day.

Markimillienís empire became the Miletian empire, as powerful and strong in the west as the Conorrian empire continued to be in the east. The Blood Mages and Emperorís Chosen kept the empire vigorous and safe for the next five hundred years. By 2282,the Miletians had grown so proud and so powerful that they failed to notice to the vast hordes of barbarians brimming along their northern borders. The Darothic hordes crashed down upon the Miletians and wiped away their great strength in less than three years. So began the dark ages.

Aelissia, safely tucked away in a corner of the world, suffered as little from the Daroths as it did from the Mage Wars, and became a haven for Miletian peasants fleeing the fall of greater realms, such as Corland, Harkoria and Daerond.

MAJOR POPULATION CENTERS

The Great Delve (Small City; population 35,240) The largest of the halfling cities, The Great Delve is the seat of the Moot, and is also a major trading port. Goods from across Aelissia are sold to Harkorian merchants, who resell it across the known world. The city itself is built on a series of steeply-sloping hills, giving nearly every burrow a window onto the Golden Sea. Nearly a 8,000 humans and 2,000 gnomes make the Great Delve their homes.

Oldbarrow (Large Town; population 18,060) The first of the halfling habitations in Aelissia, Oldbarrow lies within the Lirienwood. It is beautiful, particularly in the early evening, when the twilight through the branches combines with the warm yellow glow of fires from thousands of windows set into the hillsides and tree trunks. Lamps light all the major streets, and music wafts upon the air. Oldbarrow has an impressive stone fortress built on a bare hill above the town by the Conorrian legions. It is well-maintained and provisioned by the militia of Oldbarrow.

Greensaddle (Large Town; population 14,970) Strategically placed at the tip of the Aelissia peninsula, Greensaddle is an important trading stop for ships from Harkoria, Lorraine and beyond. It was founded by the Miletians and is still dominated by above-ground stone houses, though there are many halfling barrows as well. A fine Miletian fortress dominates the mouth of the harbor and serves as the home of Luineth, a half-elf sorcerer and retired adventurer.

IMPORTANT LOCAL SITES

The Blasted Moor - On the hilly uplands along the Windhaven strait lies a region of blackened earth and the twisted, petrified remains of a forest. This was the site where the archlich Elianna the Accursed battled the Emperor Arcasius in 2187. That battle resulted in the Emperorís death and the destruction of the archlich. The land has remained infertile and haunted ever since. The halflings will not come to this place, but many of their rangers keep watch on its borders, for fell beasts and unclean spirits still arise from its depths to plague the land.

Uluthir, the Rainbow Bridge - Where the Veinre drops across the Artagne escarpment, there is a great waterfall, measuring a quarter mile in width and seven hundred feet in height. The roaring of the water is a never-ending thunder, and above it rises a permanent rainbow in the mist. The ends of this rainbow are said to be guarded by three witches who will let none approach.

The Caverns of Underhill - The prosaically named Caverns of Underhill, deep in the Lirienwood, are far more dangerous than they sound. These twisting passages are conduits between the surface world and the hidden Realms Below. These caverns are magical in nature, and their entrances never remain open in the same place for long. Mapping is nearly impossible. The Caverns are said to hold all manner of treasures, from the hoard of a long-dead dragon to the ruins of an Iridian citadel.

 
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