The Company of Leydondale
A History of the Old World
The Age of the Horse.
This area of the known world has a written history that spans three milennia. It all began with wandering tribes of humans, in the days when the ancient forest stretched from shore to shore. The humans, who were simple tribes of nomadic herders, lived originally in a land far across the endless meadowlands to east and across the Jagar Mountains. They migrated into the area after a series of dry years and ended up following the rains across the desolate peaks, entering through the Pass of Giants. There they found the remnant kingdoms of the Fey, though most were already long abandoned. Stories arose of those who had lived in the ivy choked cities in the deep woods, but few ever saw these elusive folk and so they were soon forgotten, save as children’s tales.
For a thousand years, the herders lived fairly peacefully, and began to settle down to farm in the wetter, cooler lands they now found themselves in. Some humans were ensnared by Fey Lords like the Horned King and forced to serve them, for this was a time of tiny fortified villages and petty cheftains. It was also in this age, that ‘The Three Wellsprings of Magic’ were discovered; at Leydon, at what is now Gravenholm and in the Mountain known as Hethellyn at the head of Wizard’s Vale. These were places of wonder and men could learn eerie powers in such places, though none knew why. Before long orders of men were dedicating themselves to studying this power and began calling themselves wizards. The greatest of them, Califrain, actually wrote the laws of magic on a Stone Table and these laws afterwards became immutable. After this, all wizards swore the Three Oaths; of peace. fellowship and non-intervention in the affairs of the mundane world.
The Burning Age.
As the centuries past, gradually a series of human city states arose, the greatest of which were island Dukedom of Yurland and also the mainland cities of Urtgarth, Uskgar and Eskford. These human petty realms, just a day’s ride across, began to order the tangled forests, which were soon cleared using the axe and fire. This angered the sleeping Fey and they brought down a curse on the humans. Summoning up their remnant magic, they whistled up the Sea-Folk; savage giant humanoids who had blue skin and tattooed their bodies all over. These monsterous peoples invaded in dark ships and brought ruin to ancient Northomber, raiding and taking what they pleased, burning the great cities.
The next thousand years are known as the Burning Age; for they are marked by unceasing war between humans and the Sea-Folk. Eskford was laid waste and Urtgarth also fell, only to arise again. The Sea folk terrorised mankind, feasting on human flesh until it was whispered that they were demons from the nether realms and not kin to humans at all. Whenever humans stood and fought them, they always lost to the savage Blue giants and so the towns of men were walled and hidden in the forests. It was in this time that places like Lone Elm Hillfort and Lodd and the other smaller lands arose. All attempts at alliances between the petty realms failed and men lived in fear.
The Age of the Old Kingdom.
At last the human tribes united under one banner and defeated the Sea-Folk in a decisive battle on what is now the Plain of Bones. Many men died in this valiant deed but it was two centuries before the Sea-folk returned, for all their ships were burned. By then, the cities of Old had been rebuilt, with the capital at Uskgar and were now all part of one large Kingdom that was established in the year 0. The High King now had the power to crush the Sea-folk and this he and his decendents did in a series of brutal battles that raged for about four hundred years. The Reivers last attacked three centuries ago and were driven inland and held at the Tarkenhold by Hion Northcrow and Sir Perenor; the anointed of Kord, as well as ten of the King’s Pathfinders, who are now known as Waysiders. Although all died, the Sea-Folk were vanquished and have never returned, although dark rumours of strange ships are sometimes heard; especially on the Shrouded Shore which was their traditional landing place. Indeed the pall that forever robes the shoreline and drifts into the Veiled Hills is known to be the product of Sea-Folk magic and it has lasted since their defeat at Tarkenhold.
The Age of Dreaming.
The Old Kingdom stood for a thousand years and was prosperous and peaceful. It had no enemies once the Seafolk were gone and boasted walled towns and great armies. The lands around were settled and were empty of all but animals. Much of the forest was gone and the land was ordered like a garden. Then all at once, a shadow arose in the east and spread rapidly westwards. No survivors of the calamity were ever seen and none ever knew what caused this downfall, yet the Kingdom fell in a single year and the only humans left were those on the Lone Isles and Yurland. Any who went to mainland were never heard from again and so the Duke of Yurland passed a law that none should ever venture there again and he built a huge fleet in case the end of the Old Kingdom was caused by the return of the Sea-Folk; yet if so then none of them ever came to the Lone Isles. In time, the Duke proclaimed himself King and the mainland was forgotten or else never spoken of, save in childrens’ tales.
The Age of Reconquest.
The tenth King of Yurland, Kallis III, decreed twenty years ago, in 1105 that the time had come to reclaim the ancient homelands of mankind; it had been two hundred years exactly since the fall of the Old Kingdom and he determined to rule the lands of his ancestors. This was a response to overcrowding on the Lone Isles and a lack of trees to build new ships, after a civil war had lead the Isles to strip every tree in a bid to win the war. King Kallis also wanted to exile those who had tried to depose him and also remove from his Kingdom, any who might be a hindrance; hence the Ten Companies were given charters and sent, with a promise of a stream of convicts to swell their ranks, to the mainland. The first ships made landfall at the old fortress-city of Haven in 1117. They found an empty but monster haunted land that had been warped by powerful magic. They also found, to their surprise, tribes of humans living on the mainland; most had left the Lone Isles a hundred years before, against the orders of the King; to escape the ravages of the Red Death, a terrible plague that racked Yurland long ago.
The Ten companies set about rebuilding Haven and soon were plundering the lands of the Old Kindgom, exploring mysterious ruins that did not seem to correspond to anything on the Old Maps. Indeed, even the land seemed to have changed in places, with one whole forest having turned to stone and the shapes of rivers and mountains inexplicably altered.