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Corland

Corland History
Population Centers
Important Sites

 

CORLAND
Capital: Khairis
Population:
624,930 (78% human, 13% halfling, 6% half-orc, 2% wood-elf)
Government:
Feudal anarchy (theoretical monarchy)
Religions:
Conorrian, Thoron
Imports:
Mercenaries, arms, armor
Exports:
Livestock, wine, tin

Corland was once a proud, powerful nation that ruled all the land between the river Veinre and the Neldorean straits. Arguably the most powerful and dominant of the Successor kingdoms, Corland’s people were wealthy and aggressive. But all that has changed with the coming of the formians.

The southern half of Corland is now known as H’rethek and is dominated by aggressive ant-men. The northern half is a confused disarray. Corland’s strong martial orders and aristocracy still fight on, having retreated across the bulwark of the swift-flowing Saronne river and have begun to expand the old Conorrian river forts into formidable castles, determined to stop the invasion at the river.

Corland is now a nation in name and tradition only. Its last monarch, young Queen Armallia, was slain in battle at Darcassore. Now powerful feudal lords rule, some too jealous of their power to unite under a common banner, others too occupied with defense of their lands to assert their claims. Without a central leader, nearly all response to the formian threat is disjointed and local.

Despite the danger, Corland is a rich and fertile land renowned for its beef cattle and its wonderful wineries. The whole of the Saronne and Veinre valleys are dotted with vineyards and small farms. Corland is also a land rich with castles. Its many wars against its neighbors and between Corland nobles resulted in centuries of castle-building. There is hardly a village that does not boast some fortifed manor-house or armored turret.

There are five Corland orders of knighthood, each with its own intricate codes of chivalry and each guarding an ancient and holy relic. Once there were seven such orders, but the Order of the Mantled King and the Brotherhood of the Blinding Light were both headquartered in Arvaiglos, a city now in H’rethek. These orders were wiped out defending the city and their relics.

HISTORY

Humans have inhabited the fertile valleys of Corland for all of recorded history. There are scattered Iridian ruins near the banks of the Saronne. But little is known of the Vari, the people who inhabited this place before the coming of the Conorrians in 480 CY. Few relics are now left from that time. The Vari were warlike and forcibly annexed to the empire. Unlike their halfling neighbors, the Vari proved difficult to rule for centuries, forcing the Conorrians to build a network of fortifications to protect their cities and citizens.

Over time, however, the Vari blended with their Conorrian conquerors, creating the Corish people. Tall, dark-haired and passionate, the Corish produced prized soldiers for centuries. The Corish longspearmen and slingers were regarded as among the best troops in the Empire. Corish weaving was in high demand for its intricate patterns and bright dyes.

In 843, Burastis led his Beltene troops through Corland on his way toward the heart of the Empire. His dragons laid waste to the country, and fouled the rivers. The Beltene built two fantastic citadels from which they ruled the land with an iron fist. Unlike the Conorrian experience with the Vari, the Beltene had no trouble with the Corish. What resistance there was was destroyed or too small to be effective. As they did throughout the Empire, the Beltene, their towers, dragons and all their works disappeared on Midwinter’s night in the year 872. Corland slowly returned to normal.

By the thirteenth century, Corland had become a recognized breeder of horses, especially the large and powerful warhorses for which it is still famous. The mounted knight began to replace the heavily-armored footman as the elite troop of Corland, and mounted tournaments became more popular than chariot races as public entertainment.

Corland was spared some of the worst of the Mage Wars and was the heartland of the Miletian Empire for more than five hundred years. During that time, Khairis was greatly expanded, and two universities were established there.

Conorrian and Miletian legions made up of Corish troops formed the heart of the army that fought against the archlich Elianna the Accursed in CY 1540-2187. This earned Corland her particular hatred and spite, for she often caused wizard weather or infestations of weevils to ruin the crops, burdening Corland with centuries of poverty. But Corish troops again formed the heart of the army that shattered her power and destroyed her immortal form in 2187. Thereafter, Corland experienced more than a century of bountiful harvests.

Unlike the Mage Wars, Corland suffered terribly from the invasions of the Darothic hordes who invaded the western empire in 2282. Khairis was burned, as were Rhavais and Arvaiglos. Thousands were led away in chains, while the thrones of the Miletian princes became stools for rude barbarian chieftans. Over time, the Daroths blended in with the native Corish, enriching its blood and forming the basis of the modern nation.

In the five centuries since, Corland has become a rich and vibrant nation of farms, castles, cathedrals and knights errant, where chivalry runs deep in the national soul. It has fought many wars against its neighbors Lorraine and Aelissia, as well as an ongoing war against the giants of the Stoneheart mountains and occasional conflict with the elves of the Neldorean Wood.

From 2519 to 2580, Lorraine and Corland fought the Sixty Years’ War, notable for long periods of watchful peace and short bursts of bloody violence, over rival claims to the Corland throne. The climax of that war was a major sea battle off Maivard which was a decisive tactical victory for Lorraine, but which resulted in the death of King Finndal. Finndal died without an heir and thus died Lorraine’s claim to the throne of Corland.

In 2633, fearing the increasing influence of Lorraine in neighboring Aelissia, Corland invaded its northern neighbor, expecting only token resistance from the halflings. What followed was a lesson in the power of the little people. The Corland armies, with their mounted knights and siege engines, were unstoppable on the wide plains. But the halflings had built their cities amongst hedgerows, forests and in the hills. This terrain proved to be excellent cover for their hit-and-run tactics. The Corish invasion ground slowly forward, never quite stalling, but taking far longer than expected. In the end, the Aelissians simply made themselves too difficult to swallow.

In 2635, Corland was invaded by a force of Ahuran warriors (encouraged by Lorraine diplomats) and was forced to withdraw from Aelissia to face this new threat. The result was that the Ahuran established a beachhead at Maivard, holding the ancient fortress for more than a century before losing it to H’rethek.

In the years 2723-2725, Corland was gripped with the passion of the Crusades and the yearing to free the holy city of Echoriath from the hands of the unclean orcs. The greatest part of the armies of the Crusaders came from Corland and its knightly orders. Tens of thousands of young men rode east to seek their fortune and glory. Most of those that survived remained in the east, seriously weakening the armies of their homeland .

No one knows how the formians arrived, or from where, but in 2753, southern Corland suddenly found itself the target of attacks from human-sized ant-like creatures who showed no fear in battle and existed only to conquer. Proud Corland was slow to react to this strange threat, and slower still to grasp that these attackers were no mere band of monsters. They moved and attacked with precise planning and seemingly superhuman coordination.

Within a year, they had enslaved the towns of Chantalle, D’orevec and Medregar. King Jorrev summoned all his armies following the fall of Medregar, and marched on the walled town with 25,000 troops to drive out the invader. But the attack was a disaster. The formians were no mere animals, and were prepared with clever battle strategems, notably the use of hidden pits on the battlefield they had carefully chosen. The Corland army was shattered, with casualties as high as 9,000 soldiers and 200 knights. Jorrev himself was taken prisoner and never returned.

Jorrev had no sons and Corland had never been ruled by a queen. But the unusual times called for quick action, and princess Armallia was quickly crowned queen of Corland. She proved an able war leader, with a keen sense of strategy. Seeing that the south was lost, Armallia ordered a retreat across the Saronne and the complete renovation of the fortresses along the river. She sent her armies to act as a shielding force, allowing as many civilians as possible to evacuate across the river. Still, most citizens of southern Corland never had a chance, and quickly became enslaved by the advancing formians. The city of Arvaiglos was the last to fall, defended to the last by her knights.

An uneasy truce existed thereafter between H’rethek (as southern Corland is now known) and Corland, as the formians pursued goals of their own and fought to pacify the Stoneheart giants. But in 2768, secure behind her line of river fortresses, Queen Amallia launched the long-planned campaign to retake the south.

At the head of an army 30,000 strong, and supported by 3,000 Aelissian archers and 6,000 Lorraine troops, Amallia’s army met with some initial success. Her river crossing on a magical bridge caught the H’rethek completely by surprise. The swift speed of her advance bypassed several H’rethek cities, striking at the heart of the formian empire, a fantastic hive construct built over the ruins of Darcassore.

Here Armallia met her match. A vast horde of formian workers and soldiers marched forth from the city, led by the giant vassals of the hidden formian queen. The formians showed an understanding of magic which they had never before displayed. Before the Corish understood what had happened, they were surrounded, and formians were pouring out of hidden tunnels and camouflaged redoubts around the plain. The last stand of the Queen’s bodyguard and the death of the queen herself has since become the subject of many a ballad and poetic lament.

Corland has never recovered from Darcassore. Armallia was the last of her line, and had failed to produce an heir. The surviving nobility struggled briefly over the throne, but none truly had the resources to spare, given the pressing need to watch the Saronne border. So the throne in Khairis has remained empty, awaiting in theory the missing king Jorrev. Meanwhile, the petty fiefdoms and principalities of Corland no longer cooperate in their defense, each jealous of the power of the others, each scheming in the shadow of destruction to be the next king of this crippled land.

MAJOR POPULATION CENTERS

Khairis - (Metropolis; population 81,210). Once Khairis was beautiful city renowned for its broad avenues, great cathedrals and magnificent palaces. Now it is dirty and overcrowded with refugees from H’rethek who have nowhere else to go. Vast shantytowns surround the city and mobs of peasants live on the largesse of noblemen who fear their wrath. The great buildings are still there, but most are now abandoned, or are the homes of squatters. The nobility have fled their fine homes to take up life in their secure country castles. Rebellion and discontent are common, stirred up by petty lords and self-proclaimed prophets.

Rhavais - (Small city; population 29,560). This city lies far to the northeast, near the Brythnian border and in the shadow of the Stormcrown mountains. The city is the residence of Silvault Marancourt, Grand Master of the Salian Brotherhood, a martial order dedicated to the reconquest of H’rethek. Rhavais is a mining town and produces some of the finest steel in Vatheria. The Forest of Whispers was once heavily logged for the charcoal to fire the forges of Rhavais. Recent goblin raids on the woodcutters have made that charcoal difficult to get.

Caxonne - (Small city; population 32,840). Chiefest remaining port city of Corland, Caxonne is an ancient city first founded long before the arrival of the Conorrians. Its quaint whitewashed buildings and their red tile roofs is the toast of artists and poets alike. A crumbling ruin sits on the bluffs outside of town. No one is sure just who built it, but locals believe it was an outpost of Numanthaur.

IMPORTANT LOCAL SITES

The River Forts - The river Saronne is the most heavily-fortified border in all of the Successor States. Formidable defenses line the north bank along its entire length. Most important of these defenses are the River Forts, a series of stout citadels built under the orders of Queen Armallia. They include tunnels dug into the river bluffs, thick watch towers, and many magical wards to alert the Corland lords to the coming of the H’rethek.

The Cavadhe - A large region of swampy forests and insect-ridden marshes surrounds the mouths of the Saronne. It is home to home to lizard-men and a breed of large freshwater squid. The swamps are believed to be haunted by the ghosts of long-ago residents.

The Citadel of the Raven - In the remote northern reaches of the Stoneheart mountains stands a forbidding and isolated tower, jutting out from the side of a great snowcapped granite cliff. The tower itself gives the place its name, since is built to resemble the body of a raven, wings swept back to meet the cliff. The greater bulk of the citadel lies hidden unseen within the cliff face. In the early history of the Conorrian conquest, the Archdruid Menethar moved his court here and created the citadel.

The Inistari, as they called themselves, were defeated in 643 by the dragon Keldaur, who made his lair here for the next five hundred years. After the dragon’s death, the citadel was home to a variety of individuals and organizations who required remote isolation. For the last several centuries, it has been the target of heroes and adventuring groups hoping to find the lost treasures of Keldaur and Menethar. Few have returned, but those few tell tales of dangerous traps, ancient spells, secret chambers and many, many monsters.

The Black River - It has been over two thousand years since the Beltene dragon Ungauroth befouled this upper tributary of the Saronne river, but ever since that time, its waters have run black. Sages cannot say for certain why the waters of the river are so dark and murky, but few believe they have any harmful effect on those that drink them. Still, fell things live in the upland moors about the river and few people choose to travel in this accursed region.

 
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