Albion

Albion

Flag (Historical) The sword Excalibur on a rust-coloured background
Flag (Current) A bloodied axe and skull on a red background
Capital (Historical) Coronia
Capital (Current) Thornworth
Government Elective Monarchy

The south-eastern nation of Albion on the continent of Pharae is populated by the Aethlians, a light-skinned and dark haired race of Humans. Albion runs on the force of organisation. The capital Coronia is known as the City of Bureaucrats, every minor aspect of the nation’s economy, military potential and landholders is recorded in painstaking detail. This organisation and centralisation has led to Albion being the richest country on the continent, and the assessment of military capability of each town, city and region means Albion has no standing army beyond town watches and personal soldiers of lords (the Huskarls) – the army is completely composed of a semi-trained militia, the fyrd.

Each region of Albion is known as a Shire, having a city as its capital, there are seven Shires in Albion (there was once an eighth which is now the site of the Harrowing). Each Shrie is co-ruled by an Earl, a landowner in the shire chosen by the King, and a Shire Reeve, chosen from the most qualified governors of the Shire. Each Shire is then sub-divided into Holds, each co-ruled by the Lord, chosen by the Earl, and a Reeve, elected by the people. Justice in each Hold is dispensed by the Reeve’s court, and is mostly settled by compurgation (the taking of oaths that the accused is innocent), but particularly important cases are taken before the Shire Reeve’s Court. Meanwhile, the Lord is responsible for the military and taxation within his Hold.

The King of Albion is decided by the Witangamot, a council of the Earls, Lords and wise men of the country, who elect a new King when the existing King dies. The only provision is that the elected King must have some blood of the first King of Albion Arthrus. The King’s responsibilities are to be the commander in chief of the military, appoint and dismiss Earls, oversee relations with various churches and to decide foreign policy – all other aspects of government are the responsibility of the Witangamot and the Chancellor.

The culture of Albion is one of honour and loyalty. An Aethlian’s word is expected to be his bond, and an oath breaker is ostracised from society. Aethlians also place great stock in loyalty to your landowner, just as the landowner is expected to be fully accountable to his tenants. Primogeniture is rarely used in Albion, and land passes on to the owner’s most loyal tenant, instead of the lord’s son (though the new owner pays a large sum to any children of the previous owner in compensation). The main art in Albion is that of poetry and song, many a famous bardic saga comes from the hills and halls of Albion.

History

After the fall of the Novaran Empire, the Aethlain lands fractured into a set of petty kingdoms, competing for power and neglecting the people beyond what could be used for the Fyrd. For decades the people suffered under power-hungry tyrants and well-meaning but ultimately useless despots. Then, Arthur – the son of King Uther of Coronia, a hilly kingdom in the centre of Albion – came of age and became an adventurer, with his fellows Merlinus the Wizard, Gawain the Knight and Guinevere the Cleric he travelled throughout Pharae, gaining fame from Lycia to the great Witchwood in the south of Albion.

While in the Witchwood, Arthur learned of a sword of Fey Silver which was hidden in a sacred grove, the blade Excalibur could only be wielded by the right-born King of Albion. While his fellows believed him worthy of seeking the blade, Arthur was determined to at least overthrow his despotic father before he tried to prove his worth to the blade. Gathering with him a group of knights and with the aid of Merlinus, Arthur rallied the people of Coronia against Uther and slew his father in battle. As he wed Guinevere and became King of Coronia, he and his companions travelled to Excalibur’s grove, where he pulled the sword from its stone with barely any effort.

As the people and Kings of Albion bowed to the true king, having all heard the legend of Excalibur, Arthur made a deal with the water Fey who had watched over Excalibur, she would provide the Silver for eight more swords, one for each of Arthur’s knights, in return for Arthur being eternally bound as the protector of Albion beyond even his death.

Once the eight kingdoms were untied into one nation of Albion, and Arthur had rules justly for many years, he died and his son Gawain I came to power. While a good king, he was not as prodigious a military leader as his father, and under Gawain Albion came under attack from the Rounmen to the North. The Archduke of Roun killed Gawain in battle and annexed the northeastern eighth Shire of Albion. The two nations then made peace as Gawain’s younger brother Elric I became King, but the annexed Aethlians rebelled against the Rounmen. The rebellion was brutally put down without military support from Albion’s decimated fyrd, and the entire Shire was burned to the ground with fire and spell, and is now known as the Harrowing, a warning to all of Roun’s power, and a rallying point for Albion’s vengeance.

Years later, (and only about 50 years before the present day), Albion tried to take that vengeance. When the old king Siward, the great-grandson of Arthrus, died he left behind three sons – the twins Edwin and Morcar and their younger brother Waltheof. Waltheof gave up the succession and became Earl of Mundshire (the central mountains where the rebellious Mundmen live and the birthplace of Murvoth I), and eventually the Moot of the wisest men in the kingdom elected Edwin the Red, the more warlike of the twins, as King. Thirty five years ago, he lead an attack which reclaimed the fortress city of Thorn in the north east from the Rounmen of the North. However, he then got cocky and a few years later he lead an expedition into the Harrowing. In battle, he was struck by an arrow in the eye by a lucky Rounman archer, and then killed in single combat by the ruler of Roun – Archduke Bohemund, Knight of the Ninth Hell. The soldiers of Albion rallied to defend Excalibur where it fell, and drove off the Rounmen (many fled, refusing to fight to steal Excalibur, as worship of Arthrus is actually fairly widespread in Roun).

The new King, Morcar the Blue, then drew Excalibur where it still stood in the ground and was coronated in Thorn. To avenge his brother’s death, he called for his Huskarls not stationed with him in Thorn to enact a cull of all cults of demons and devils (previously they had been allowed to exist as long as they followed the law) in the land. Murvoth lead one of these expeditions against a Cult of Baphomet, and was the only one of his company to return. Morcar the Bluebecamecompletely occupied with fighting the Rounmen at the frontier and preventing the advance of the Knights of the Nine, as are most of his Huskarls. As a result, most domestic problems were handled by hired adventurers, and during the period there was a significant amount of political unrest in the country now effectively ruled by the Chancellor.

In the resulting unrest, the northern Shires of Leadshire and Alodshire were subject to an attack by strange creatures known as Star Spawn. With the help of a trio of adventurers from Toldeon, a group of adventurers lead by Murvoth (an old Huskarl who was reanimatedas a Skeleton by strange energies) and Derryck (a Werewolf who would later become a minor baron and main liason for New Rhestilor) destroyed the Star Spawn and ended the invasion of the strange creatures. Then, the north-eastern Shire of Feodshire was attacked by The Red Hand, an army lead by the Khulkor Zhul tribe of Goblins and supported by a group of Dragons and Clerics of Tiamat. Again, Murvoth’s party appeared to save the day, supporting Lord Jaarmath I of Dawnhold in the Battle of Brindol which turned the tide of the war, then attacking the Hand’s main base, the Fane of Tiamat. In their quest the group also gained a few new members in the Elven mage Harlem, a Fey known to her friends as Bruce and a famous Lycian Paladin of Moradin, Viktor. Murvoth also fell in battle against one of the Red Hand’s leaders and was returned as a ghost. In the end, they killed the leader of the Hand, a Half-Dragon Hobgoblin called Azarr Kul, and ended the threat to Feodshire. As a reward, Murvoth, already Lord of Thornhold in Haldshire, was risen to the High Witangamot and Derryck held Vraath Keep, a small holdfast in the Werewood, in his name.

Also as a result of the Red Hand Crisis, The Ghostlord, a Lich from the time before Arthrus obsessed with saving the dying species of lions, returned to prominence. Together with Derryck, he demanded that Rhest, the sunken capital of the old kingdom of Rhestilor, be turned over to the lycanthropes of the Werewood and the rest of Albion, to hold as their own city-state nation. Despite tensions between them and the Human lords, the Earl of Feodshire and the Lord of Dawnhold allowed the formaiton of the Principality of New Rhestilor.

It then emerged that Murvoth, who had then rebuilt the ruined town of Thornworth to a great citadel and also gave himself a body in a set of enchanted armour indestructible to mundane means (actually a phylactery), had turned the five Dragon commanders of the Red Hand into dracoliches. Despite some complaints from the other Lords, Murvoth joined his five beasts, as well as his Huskarls Viktor and Harlem, to the main force of Albion on the Rouen border. Murvoth distinguished himself in battle and gained the respect of many Lords and Earls, some members of the High Witangamot.

The battles against Roun came to a head in the fields under the Citadel of Thorn, where four of the Knights of the Nine, including Archduke Bohemund himself, launched an attack on the Aethlian encampment near the border. Murvoth’s dracoliches and the fyrd of Albion quickly turned the battle in their favour, but as King Morcar stood opposite an injured Duke Bohemund, ready to end the battle with a single combat, dark energies surrounded Excalibur and the sword disappeared, and Morcar was slain by the Archduke of Roun. The Rounmen were pushed back as they had been five years before by a furious sally by the Aethlian troops, with Viktor even slaying the Knight of the Second Hell, but a Mot had to be declared afterwards in Thorn to declare a new King.

As the Reeves and wise men gathered in the fortress city to begin the Mot, messages started to come in from every corner of the kingdom. Morcar’s younger brother Waltheof had been killed by an assassin, with the Mundmen held responsible; his cousins Asulf and Felgild had both died to poison, the younger Asulf to a scorpion sting and the older Felgild apparently the work of another assassin; finally the king’s second cousin and the last known bearer of the blood of Arthrus, Sewara, was killed by a red-caped brigand on the road to Hyldshire. Unprepared to search for a bastard descendent of Arthrus, the Witangamot ignored the rule about sharing Arthrus’ blood, and elected their most respected general as King – Murvoth.

The new king immediately outlawed worship of Arthrus everywhere except his holy site on the island of Avalon, claiming the disappearence of Excalibur was due to Albion’s God abondining his people. He also began a brutal campaign against demon worshipping cults, allegedly due to a personal grudge on Baphomet, and began to elevate his favourites and protoges to positions of power, entrusting them various powerful magic items to guard. After a successful campaign which pushed Roun back to beyond the Harrowing by using his ever more powerful necromancy to raise their dead troops as a new army, King Murvoth signed the Treaty of Thornworth with Archduke Bohemund. Roun and Ablion would make peace and devote their standing armies to eradication of Demon worship, and Roun would cede the Harrowing and make no attempt to prevent any foreign military action by Albion. An ambassador from the newly met Elven nation of Tir Tinagria across the sea, Quintus, the Fith Heirophant, was chosen to act as an envoy between the two nations to keep the peace.

Murvoth then moved his army of Undead, lead by four of the Dracoliches (the firth, Varanthian, was sent underground to guard something precious), to invade Albion’s neighbour and ally Toldeon. Many dissenting lords either mysteriously died or became greivously ill, and the invasion proceeded mostly unopposed, with the only drama left being the Huskarl Viktor leaving for his homeland of Lycia in rage. The Three Kingdoms of Toldeon were quickly annexed, with a Dracolich left as Viceroy of each Kingdom, Ozyrrandion took La Rioja, Regiarax took La Mancha and Abithriax took Meseta. After the conquest, Serene Doge Enrico IV of Fliuva quickly signed a treay with Albion, making huge trade concessions and allowing Aethlian representatives to oversee the Guilds of Fliuva, leading to the once-proud nation becoming a mere puppet state of Murvoth’s Albion.

Shires

Leadshire

Capital Coronia
Emblem A scroll with Exclaibur embossed over it
In the fertile hills in the central north of Albion is Leadshire. The Shire is very populous and is a centre of commerce for the nation due to being a major trade and transport hub for the country. The King is, by default, the Earl of Leadshire and the Chancellor is the Shire Reeve. Currently the Earldom is held by Kedred Hedburson, the ex-Lord of Rythold and a fierce man and staunch supporter of Murvoth. The Shire Reeve is Regenbald, the ancient ex-Chancellor who is kept around by Murvoth as he keeps the bureaucracy running smoothly. Holds in Leadshire include Corehold in the centre, Merehold and Bornhold to the east, Schilhold to the north and Rythold and Hursthold to the west.
  • Corehold
    The central Corehold dominates Leadshire, being the home of Coronia and its surrounding villages and fields. The city of Coronia itself is huge andis composed of the central district, holding what was once the royal castle (which also served as the High Temple of Arthrus, the Demigod spirit of Arthrus) and the six foreign embassies, then in a ring surrounding the central district is the administrative district, where Albion’s titanic bureaucracy is put into effect, and finally in the outer ring is the city district, where the shops, temples and housing all reside.
  • Merehold
    To the east of Leadshire and on the border with Feodshire is Merehold, an area of grassy lowlands and the last fertile lands before the Thornwaste. The Hold Town of Merehold is Winford, a large town and home to many pilgrims and a temple to every deity. Merehold’s other main attraction is the great lake and island of Avalon in its northern reaches, with the island int he centre being raised by Arthrus himself as his holy site and being the last place where his worship is still allowed in Albion.

Haldshire

Captial (Historical) Isca
Capital (Current) Thornworth
Emblem A boat packed with merchant goods

Feodshire

Capital Dubris
Emblem A pitchfork illumiated by sunlight

Hyldshire

Capital Thorn
Emblem A battleaxe and shield
The north-easternmost Shire of Albion is Hyldshire, once quite small and now very large thanks to the addition of the Harrowing to the Shire. The Shire is dominated by hills and mining towns, with a strip of fertile fields near the coastline. Most of the towns in the Shire have a smithy and large food stores, as well as great walls, as the fyrd often garrisons throughout Hyldshire, and trolls and giants often come down form the Giantshield mountains to harass the towns. The Earl of Hyldshire is Leofwine, a small and studious man who lends his academic skills to organising the garrison at Thorn, and the Shire Reeve is Hilde, the only female general in the army and well-loved by the men of the fyrd. Holds in Hyldhsire include Hornhold to the north, Harhold in the Harrowing, Balhold, Enthold and Rohold to the west and Kliphold and Sanhold to the east.
  • Hornhold
    Hornhold is the home of the city of Thorn, as well as the plains to its west kept fallow to discourage a siege and the fertile farmlands to its south. Thorn is a fortified castle town which contains the mustering grounds for Aethlia’s armies, and most members of the fyrd spend at least two weeks in the city training. As a result, the city has a huge forging industry, and is the main destination for metal mined throughout the country, its position on the border also leads to it being somewhat of a trade hub, though that is mitigated due to its proximity to the Harrowing.

Alodshire

Capital Ardot
Emblem A gloved hand holding a ruby
The westernmost Shire is Alodshire, which borders on both Toldeon and Fliuva and has the closest coastline to the Magaren islands. The Shire is very cosmopolitan, with most of its larger towns being home to various races and ethnicities, with the southern towns full of Halflings, their holds even home to some Halfling camps; the northwestern towns full of Toldeos and Dwarves and the eastern towns containing many Fliuvans. The Earl of Alodshire is Adonis, a Halfling Huskarl who rose to Murvoth's favour but keeps the interets of foreigners in Albion at heart. The Shire Reeve is Eadgyth, the High Priestess of Wee Jas who is both respected by the smallfolk and known to many of a voice of reason and moderation. Holds in the shire include Fronhold and Taurhold to the north west, Zelhold, Grenhold and Bohold to the south west and Fluhold and Hanhold to the east.
  • Fronhold
    Fronhold, containing the north-western coastline border with Toldeon over to the edge of the Fliuvan border also contians Ardot, the capital of Alodshire. Ardot is a multicultural centre where Halflings, Dwarves, Aethlians, Fliuvans, Toldeos and even some Rounmen and Muercians live and trade. In the centre of the city, there is also a huge graveyard and Temple of Wee Jas, where the lives of all those lost in the Roun Wars and the subsequent Harrowing are honoured. The city also contains the base of the Border Guard, one of Murvoth’s new institutions, lead by the stoic Brichthled Ironbone, who is rumoured to actually be one of Murvoth’s undead servants.
  • Zelhold
    One the southern coast encroaching on the western edge of the Witchwood is Zelhold, an area of fishing villages which pay tax to the town of Zelth which lies on the coast on the edge of the great forest. The town only sprang up during the reign of Edwin the Red, when a royal charter was officially granted for a Mage’s College in Albion. The College of Zelth is not royally controlled, though it takes it seat in the High Witan and gives services to the crown, and often conducts experiments in the west Witchwood, where the physical realms of the Seelie Court are said to be found.

Vildshire

Capital Vectis
Emblem A great tree

On the southern edge of Albion is the huge Shire of Vild, but it is mostly taken up by the Witchwood, a huge forest that covers the entire south coast and is home to all manner of monster and fey. Vildshire is Albion’s second great hub for adventurers after Haldshire due to its proximity to the Witchwood and the fact that Vectis is the only major port in Albion from which ships sail to Pacha’lay. The Earl of the Shire is Leif, a hard-nosed and half-Rouen man who hates the Thieves’ Guild. The Shire Reeve, however, is Hereward, a famous ex-adventurer and supporter of the Guild. The only holds in Vildshire are Vecthold, Feldhold and Wicthold (which encompasses the entire Witchwood and is only an honorary title).

  • Vecthold
    A small hold in the south-eastern coast, Vecthold contians the similarly small city of Vectis. The port city is small compared to others in Albion, but is propped up by the huge Undercity in the sewer system, practically run by [[The Albion Thieves’ Guild]]. The Guild is a huge organisation, spanning beyond mere larceny, into politics, economics and even adventuring. Due to this, most adventurers (of which there are many in Vild) venture into the undercity, leading to it being even more developed than the port city above.
  • Feldhold
    Spanning the entirity of the flatlands of north Vildshire and bordering Feodshire and Hyldshire, Feldhold is an expansive land full of farming homesteads and small towns which serve often as Thieves’ Guild bases. To attempt to rein in the Guild, Murvoth constructed the castle of Caerfield in the centre of the hold and gave the Lordship to Alfild Darkeye, a famously sadistic woman who now attempts to bestow concrete order on the hold and is often reported in many places at once.

Mundshire

Capital Ebor
Emblem A claymore cutting through a boulder

The central mountains of Albion encompass Mundshire, home to the Mundmen, a fair skinned and red-haired people who were brought to heel by Arthrus but maintain dreams of independence. Ruled by the semi-independent Mund Council in the near-impregnable mountain fortress of Ebor, the mountains are only ruled in name only by their Earl Waltreld, an old friend of Murvoth’s from his time as a Huskarl before his fateful expedition to the Sanctum of Baphomet. The Shire Reeve is Malcolm Claymore, a Mundman famous for his battles against the giants and other monsters throughout the shire. Holds in the shire include Eborhold, Aberhold, Kilhold, Haghold, Lothold, Morold and Orkhold (where the tribal Orcs are allowed their own governance).

Albion

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