Home Introduction Heros Char. Gen. Kar Brandel Countryside

A True History

of Kar-Brandel and The Marches

by Roderigo Squarl, Priest
of the Temple of Seniya, Kar Brandel.

Locality

The area now known as The Marches, bounded as it is by the mountains of Kylesh to the north, the Great Mire to the west and the Bay of Bhelthor to the south, forms the Tironian Empire's westernmost province. The nearest part of the region is some three weeks march from the capital Tirondel, and this remoteness has often meant that the ocal Marcher Lords enjoy a certain autonomy not found elsewhere in the Empire.

Earliest Knowledge

In ancient times these forested, hilly lands were shunned by the Empire's subjects, harbouring as they did all manner of fearsome beasts, strange tribes of aboriginals and curious magics. It was not until the early fifth century that they were added to Tirondel's domains. At this time the Great Mire flooded and forces from Haemgrad, the far western city now known as the capital of the Shadow Pact, crossed the water to invade the Marches and threaten the Empire. The mighty general Sarantil Velmion, later dubbed Velmion the Great, drove the forces of evil back into the Mire, claimed the Marches for Tirondel, and established the walled city of Karan in their heart, to act as a buttress and defend the Empire from future such invasions.

Tragically Velmion died with a treacherous assault on Karan, and it was left to his sons and aides to re-establish control of the area. It was at this time that they founded the existing bastions of Kar Brandel, Kar Wrath, Kar Dernath, Kar Chorovar, Kar Terevan and Kar Bhelthor, each with its own governance, covering the Marches between them and setting up a strong network of coordination and response.

Development of the Bastions

As the centuries passed, the Marcher Lords largely occupied themselves with pacifying, civilising and settling their immediate surrounds. Kar Bhelthor, fortunate in its location near the warm southerly sea routes, rapidly developed into a major trade centre. It also introduced a system of democratic government, in which property owners elect representatives to a City Council. The parties of the Exchequer and the Ungrave have traditionally dominated this body, which has often seen the welfare of the city hostage to party politics and factionalism.

Kar Chorovar was also until recently ruled by a Council, and had been since its founding. The Council consisted of the senior representative of each of the eight noble families, who had an equal voice in its deliberations. This body still exists within the city's new constitution, but it now elects one of its number to act as Lord and vests executive power in him.

The two northernmost bastions, Kar Terevan (its ruler known as the Winter Warlord) and Kar Wrath, had to deal with attacks from the mountains to the north: the Kyleshi barbarians are fierce and warlike, but ill-coordinated and lacking in application. Their raids have been a regular feature of the northern winter for many centuries. Kar Dernath and Kar Brandel, meanwhile, became wealthy and powerful as they gradually made safe and settled, with farms and villages, the hills and forests of the central Marches. Particular trouble was given by the persistence of the cult of Pairthrain, deity of Decay and Corruption, to which the indigenous inhabitants had been devoted: it was largely to deal with this menace and to clear out unusually troublesome monsters threatening the villages, that an early Lord Brandel established the Kar Brandel Adventurers' Guild. Later centuries saw the development of the independent Mages' and Scouts' Guild within the city, but it was not until the rule of the present Lord Brandel's father (ed. Verlad's father) that the current system of parties of adventurers with representatives from each Guild, and from the priesthood, was introduced. This scheme has been remarkably successful, and imitated by the other bastions where their needs require and resources allow.

More Recent Times

Over the centuries of relative quiet the Marcher Lords lost sight of their original aims. Kar Bhelthor and Kar Chorovar lost interest in their fellows and separated themselves from the affairs of the Marches. Kar Wrath and Kar Brandel, meanwhile, vied keenly for supremacy under a succession of domineering and power-hungry Lords. Thus it was that the Marches were in a sadly unprepared state when, in 1188, the Great Mire flooded once more and a mighty force from the Shadow Pact invaded, to again strike terror and dread into the hearts of all folk.

The Shadow Pact War

Talen Coldblood, the dark elvish arch-mage who led the invading armies, acted decisively and with brutal efficiency. He established contact with Morias, High Priest of the still powerful remains of the cult of Pairthrain, and with the cultists of Zed, an ancient evil presence but recently reawoken in the land. He spent the autumn of the year pacifying the land bordering the Mire, unknown to the Marchers, and when winter had sealed in Kar Terevan he struck viciously against Kar Dernath.

Coldblood had judged that neither Kar Brandel nor Kar Wrath would help Lord Dernath in his hour of need, and such was the case. Indeed, persistant rumour suggests that agents from Brandel were in Kar Dernath during the seige but, far from helping the defenders, they made off with the treasury and a priestess who could have saved the bastion from its doom. Eventually Kar Dernath fell to a combination of seige and treachery, the bastion was sacked and the Dernath line extinguished. The Lich-King, leader of the victorious Shadow Pact army, set up a defensible position which to this day has not been recaptured by the forces of good.

From this strong point the Shadow Pact moved carefully towards their next logical aim, the defeat of Kar Brandel and the gateway to the Empire. The Black Wizard, another Pact commander, swiftly disposed of an army of rangers who were found in the forests above the ruins of Karan, led by a purported descendant of Velmion the Great known as the Karan Hawk. A force was then dispatched north to keep the Terevanni army penned up: this was more successful than anticipated, and Lord Terevan was slain in personal combat with the Pact general Banbarradrim (who also died). Kar Terevan played no part in the war for the next year and a half. Meanwhile Morias had sparked a rising of Pairthrainites, gathered them into an army and subdued the souther central part of the Marches, down to Kar Chorovar.

Siege of Kar Brandel

The lead Shadow Pact army, under the Black Wizard, easily defeated Kar Brandel's hastily gathered troops on the plain outside the city, and dug in to besiege the city. In the event the siege was to last for over a year, further more a year in which there was no summer or harvest - the Black Wizard by his sorcerous arts had called perpetual winter down on the brave Brandelers. Any living in Kar Brandel during that time will need no reminding of the dreadful privations suffered during the long siege, nor of the relief felt when it was finally broken at the Battle of Thorny Knoll in June of 1193. Lord Wrath had at last decided to send troops to help Kar Brandel, and, with the Black Wizard slain by a group of Brandel adventurers borne by a mighty frost dragon, the defenders sallied forth and crushed the rudderless Shadow Pact forces against the Wrathian anvil.

The Battle of Thorny Knoll marked the end of the war in the north, with only mopping up operations remaining against the scattered pockets of Pact deserters. In the south of the Marches, however, a great trouble had been brewing. Talen Coldblood led the Shadow Pact's southern army himself, and in the hills south of Kar Brandel he utterly destroyed the Imperial Legion IX Victrix which had been sent from Tirondel (at last taking an interest in this distant border conflict). Whispers suggested that Lord Brandel could have rescued the Legion, but instead abandoned it to its fate.

Capture of Kar Chorovar

Coldblood's mighty army, strengthened by its victory, then swung southwards towards Kar Chorovar. Here Morias had been held off from the city for over a year by a magical barrier the mages had erected: the Council believed this barrier so impregnable they had not even raised an army. The Shadow Pact forces were troubled by a coup within the cult of Pairthrain (the priestess Corialis toppling Morias) and the destruction of the evil entity Zed by a group of Brande adventurers wielding the swords Deathsbane and Lightbringer, blessed instruments of the Silver Oak (a mystical and divine tree, agent of the Celestial Host, which had paid particular attention to Kar Brandel's fate after being saved and replanted by Brandel adventurers). Nonetheless, the Pact managed to break down the magical barrier and overwhelm the city, with the death of all the senior Chorovar sorcerers as well as many of the ordinary folk.

Kar Chorovar seemed lost until the appearance of the Silver Oak, thought gone forever from the mortal plane: the light of its boughs had the power to turn Talen's Dark Elves into servants of good once more. The Oak's intervention effectively destroyed the Shadow Pact's mightiest army and forced them to withdraw to Kar Dernath, where they remain to this day.

Political Events

All the while, back in Kar Brandel itself, the people had not been idle. A free newspaper, the Brandel Bugle, was launched, much improving the quality of debate in the city. There was much struggle between the members of the Council for Lord Brandel's ear: Chancellor Gael Pettiwell triumphed thanks to his capable management of the siege economy. Duncan Muncaster, High Priest of Verlathion and later of the Celestial Host, remained a powerful voice. Pettiwell's position had seemed weakened when his wife Lady Miriamne was kidnapped by the Half-Clay, a race of aboriginals found to be dwelling deep under the city, and later slain by the evil earth elemental Grumbar: and his links with a conspiracy of Masons to secretly construct a mystic network of tunnels under Kar Brandel was strongly questioned. Lord Brandel, though, would hear no wrong of his favourate.

Death of Lord Brandel

All this was overshadowed by the tragic death of Lord Brandel in October 1193. The true facts surrounding the case are not yet clear, but it as apparent that he was poisoned by magical means, dying during a masked ball given to celebrate the victory over the Shadow Pact. Fingers pointed at the Pact's responsibility - Lord Chief Justice Skryme Dragonfriend, who had immediately fled the city, seemed also implicated. All that is certain is that the second son Lord Pearce Brandel moved swiftly to calm citizens and assume power, his grasp tightened with the news of his elder brother Terence's death at the hands of bandits in the northern forests.

On the new Lord Brandel's assumption of the Cloak of State, Kar Chorovar immediately declared war on Kar Brandel and sent an army under the leadership of third son Ferlad (who had been sent to Chorovar as a consultant to help rebuild the city). This force was swiftly defeated under the gates of Kar Brandel, and Ferlad acknowledged his brother as the rightful Lord.

The role of Marshal Rastin Lawe in all these matters later came under scrutiny. He had been sent from Tirondel after the loss of Legion IX, but rapidly attached himself to the court and to Lord Pearce in particular. During the turbulent times after the succession it was Marshal Lawe, together with 'Mage of the People' Bezique, who assured the transition to the new Lord's rule. More than a year later Marshal Lawe admitted that he was in the partial pssession of a demon, set on him by his rivals in Tirondel; wether or not this was the case during 1192-3 is unclear.

Main Page Introduction Heros Char. Gen. Kar Brandel Countryside