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The Harkorian League

Harkorian History
Population Centers
Important Sites

 

THE HARKORIAN LEAGUE
Capital: Morthales
Population:
1,232,450 (56% human, 16% halfling, 13% half-orc, 9% gnome, 3% centaur, 2% elf)
Government:
Plutocracy
Religions:
Conorrian
Imports:
Trade goods, glass, hides, precious metals
Exports:
Trade goods, pottery, grain, fruits, inks, cast brass and bronze, ships

Situated on the north shore of the Golden Sea, the Harkorian League is a collection of independent city-states struggling to recover from centuries of terrible oppression and slavery at the hands of the Daerond Empire. Its once-great cities are now largely ruins, and its fabled merchant navy is now but a pale reflection of its former glory.

The League is trying to rebuild itself amidst the destruction of its traditional ruling class. At the same time, it is struggling with powerful monsters in the east along the Edgemoor Mountains and the rising power of the Mahadran pirates in the west. Then too, there are bandits throughout the League. Desperate and dangerous, many of them are deserters from the armies of the League or of Daerond. There is much work to be done for those brave enough to seek their fortunes here.

The League is ruled by representatives of the surviving ancient trading families, who meet in the port city of Morthales. This League Conclave has entered upon an ambitious project to build a small fleet of merchant ships, believing that its ancient traditions are the best means of returning the League to life. Still, there are strong voices in the Conclave and elsewhere which argue for a more martial stance, building an army and recruiting mercenaries to secure their northern border.

Physically, Harkoria is a land dominated by its seasons. In the spring and early summer, the winds are out of the north and it is hot and dry except in the east, where it rises to meet the towering Edgemoor mountains. During the fall and autumn, it is the rainy season. The winds rise up out of the south and west and bring with them the torrential downpours that sustain the region the rest of the year. The whole of northern and central Harkoria is dominated by a vast region of lightly wooded hills, while the land along the coasts is gentle, rolling grassland or marsh.

HISTORY 

The simple fisherman and farmers who lived on the north coast of the Golden Sea were transformed by the coming of the Conorrian Legions in C.Y. 812. The great Northern Road, the via brythnia, brought a great volume of trade and commerce. Even before the legions entered the lands they would name Harkoria, Conorrian traders reached out from their ports in Aelissia and from Carrenthium in Brythnia, and made contact with the prosperous people of the north coast, trading for copper and tin. Under Conorrian rule, Harkoria became a powerful center of commerce, and ports were built all along the coasts which brought Conorrian goods to markets in the far north.

The merchant families of Harkoria were in the thick of the intrigue that preceded the Mage Wars, and there are those who believe that it was the House Kyartes, or one of its associated houses, that hired the assassin who killed the Emperor in Luxur. Whatever the truth of that, what is true is that the sorcerer-priestess Niome, called "Griffonhawk", first supported Markimillien the Great, and later betrayed him to the sorcerous cabal known as the "Five-Who-Are-One". As Griffonhawk made her home in Morthales, and made her final stand against the archmage there, the city and region suffered terribly in the wake of his assault on her. The unnatural peak of rock which arose in the center of the city to consume her is still known as Niome’s Tomb.

In the wake of the Mage Wars, Harkoria became a province of the Miletian Empire. Her influence in that soldier-dominated society waned as that of Lorraine and Corland waxed. Trade continued, but Harkoria herself was now troubled by evils which the Conorrians had always managed to hold at bay. Fell monsters from the Edgemoor mountains were more frequently found upon the eastern marches, and evil cults rose to power in nearly every city. As the Miletians ruthlessly hounded the cult of Malbor in Daerond, it found sympathizers in Harkoria. So too did the Unseeing Eye and the Shadow Hand, both dangerous cults since time immemorial.

Two characteristics of the Harkorian people conspired to bring final disaster to the Miletian Empire: their thirst for wealth and their love of intrigue. Merchant houses seeking to weaken the imperial stranglehold on trade aided the barbarian army known as the Darothic Horde, hoping to profit if the empire were forced into war. These deluded schemers were swept away with nearly all else as in 2282, the Horde descended upon the Empire in numbers undreamed of, savagely looting all that they could carry away, and burning the rest.

In the wake of the Horde’s destruction, it was generations before the Harkorian city-states would again rise in importance. Contrary to their ancestors’ hopes, the fall of Miletia meant that trade between the Successor States rapidly declined. Hoping to reestablish trade with the south and defend themselves against the rising power of Daerond to the north, the city-states formed a loose confederation known as the Harkorian League in 2428 and began to sail beyond the Golden Sea, trading along the coasts as far south as Har’akir and as far north as Tirgonia.

The League was to remain independent for less than a century. In 2525, the Daeron armies of the Black King invaded, and quickly conquered the entire country. The final battle between the Harkorian and Daerond armies was the siege of Orleos, which resisted the necromantic power of the lich-king for five months before falling to his minions. The city was burned to the ground, its inhabitants and defenders slain to a man and its fields magically cursed.

Harkoria proved easy to conquer but difficult to rule. The fractious Harkorian nature meant that resistance and outright rebellion were frequent. Although the fertile lands and coasts of Harkoria were vital to the growth of the Daerond empire, great numbers of troops, spies, wizards and inquisitors were necessary to keep order in the cities. Outside the cities, Daeron power was slow to take hold and extend beyond the sight of Daeron troops. The great Harkorian merchant houses were either purged or forced to work closely with Daeron authorities. Some collaborated readily, while others later claimed to have worked in secret to support the growing number of secret societies opposed to Daeron rule.

Despite the conquest, Harkorian trade never stopped. Its profits now merely flowed through the merchant houses to the war coffers of their Daeron masters. Over time, the restraining hand of Daerond meant that Hakoria lost its preeminent place among the merchants of Vatheria, but among the Successor States, their red-hulled ships remained a common sight.

The 2641 death of Dyrethis in Tirgonia, and the subsequent destruction of the Daeron armies in that country sparked murderous rampages against Daeron troops and authorities across Harkoria. A brutal series of reprisals against Harkorians living in the affected cities restored order and the traditional fear. Most of the rebels were crushed by the ruthless efficiency of the Black Dukes’ inquisitors. Harkoria was plunged into a century of oppression far worse even than that it had suffered under the hands of the Black King. Whole cities were razed and their populations forced to work on slave farms, or taken north for the entertainment of the mob in Acherai.

It is during this period that the mysterious Ghostwalkers began to wage a subtle war upon the oppressors. In the countryside, small bands of troops loyal to the Black Dukes would simply disappear. In the cities, well-protected governors and Inquisitors would be found dead inside their tightly-guarded homes. No one seemed to know who was responsible, and the usual method of terrorizing the peasantry produced no one who would or could betray them. The Ghostwalkers became a legend, one that kept Daeron toops staring into the Harkorian night with fear, and filled the Black Dukes with fury.

The Daeron civil war was spurred on by a failed attempt on the life of Bishop Morbanes in 2770. As the Black Dukes warred among themselves, Daeron power in Harkoria collapsed almost overnight. Disciplined legions marched quickly northward towards the bridge at Erzarus, while less disciplined troops went on rampages, looting and burning as they left. After two and a half centuries of Daeron slavery, Harkoria was suddenly free. But it was also a rubble-filled ruin whose population had been reduced to half its former size and left leaderless and unskilled.

Amidst the monuments to terror left by the Black Dukes, the once-great trading people now struggle to find their national identity. The region is once again known as the Harkorian League and is led by the Conclave, whose membership is made up of representatives of those ancient merchant houses whose members survived the long occupation.

MAJOR POPULATION CENTERS

Morthales - (Small city; population 36,970) Morthales lies at the mouth of the Golden Sea, across the straits from Aelissia. Left in smoking ruin by the retreating Daeron armies, much of the rubble has now been cleared away. Here and there amidst the devatation, new civic buildings rise, and the wreckage of ships has been towed away from the harbor entrance. But many of the citizens of Morthales still live within makeshift shelters or even tents. Nonetheless, a strong, almost fevered atmosphere has gripped the population, a determination to create a truly Harkorian city. Trade with Aelissia, Lorraine, Tirgonia and Har’akir has brought new wealth into the city’s coffers. The Iron Citadel of the Black Duke Harrow still squats above the city like an evil bird of prey, and those few who return from its halls tell tales of terrible guardians set to protect Harrow’s property until he returns for them.

Cadares - (Small city; population 28, 430) At the mouth of the river Osgalin stands a bluff of limestone carved by the Miletians into the likeness of two gargantuan Knights Legionnaire holding up the city which stands above them. This city is Cadares, and like its famous carvings, it weathered the Daeron storm better than most other cities. In part this was because it’s governor, the Black Duchess Brialle, was a patron and protector of the arts. But this was also because the ruling merchants, House Breakstone, gave the Daerons very little difficulty and indeed made them a fortune. Thus, the position of Cadares in the League is a difficult one. The city is rich and carries the largest merchant fleet in the League, but is mistrusted because of its past association with the conquerors. The cliffs west of Cadares are home to many species of wild birds and a colony of wild griffons.

Erzarus - (Large Town; population 16,920) This strategic town guards the only bridge across the lower Narglaurith river, the border between Daerond and the League. It is guarded by six hundred Harkorian soldiers, garrisoned in the grim, grey castle built by the Daerons more than a century ago. The Narglaurith is rich farming land, and the small communities which stretch along its banks bring their goods to Erzarus every two weeks. Many of the buyers there are Daerons, and the relationship between the two sides remains tense.

IMPORTANT LOCAL SITES

The Ruins of Orleos - The city which resisted the Daeron advance to the bitter end was cursed by the lich-king Dyrethis. Its population, slain to the last man, woman and child, now guards the city in a deathless half-life. Before the fall, the great treasures of this great merchant nation were removed to Orleos for safekeeping, and they rest there still, watched over by those who died to protect them.

The Titan’s Throne - In the hills north and east of the Osgalin, a flat stone the size of a great ship rests upon four great boulders. It is believed to be a place inhabited by faeries, and is occasionally the site of duels between mages. It has no known magical properties.

Long Strand - On the island of Naxarius, off the Harkorian shore, there is a two-mile-long strand of golden beaches. It is to this place that the mer-folk were said to come of old to trade their wares and lustrous pearls to the men of the surface world. None have come to the strand since the Daeron invasion, however.

The Ryarch Pass - High in the Edgemoor mountains to the east, lies the narrow pass between Ascarlon and Harkoria through which portions of the Darothic Horde passed some five hundred years ago. Some dark presence now lives in the Pass, corrupting all around it. Few Harkorians know of the existence of the place, and none know what evil may lurk there, where once a proud Miletian garrison stood.

 
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