Rjurik » The Northlands » Realm of the White Witch


Realm of the White Witch
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Capital

Government
strong Monarchy
Kriesha (State Religion)



GB Income
GB (Province GB; Law GB)
RP Income
RP (Province RP; Law RP)
GB Expenses
GB (Army GB; Fortifications GB; Court GB)





[top]Introduction

One of the largest domains in the Rjurik lands, the White Witch's realm is composed of windswept tundra and cold forests. The Witch rules her domain with an iron hand and controls a far-reaching network of spies, ambassadors, and merchants. The White Witch's realm is called Gandvick by the traders of the northern provinces.

[top]Life and Society

Gandvick includes settled Rjurik in the Forests of the west, nomadic Rjurik along the great ice plains and deeper in the forests, goblin and orog citizens in the southern lands won from the Blood Skull Barony and even a few tribes of Sidhe in the east. This cauldron of competing factions is held together by the priesthood of Kriesha who ensure that troublemakers have their aggression focused outside Gandvick's borders.

Gandvick is a cruel land of long deep winters and brief summers. The people tend to vary from grim fatalism to brutal pragmatism in their outlook, waste is scorned and heavily punished, and aside from the Court in Mandal the people live a spartan life of frugality. Taxes tend to be light for the most part, in general peasants pay 'taxes' in furs or service, while wealthier merchants pay taxes to avoid military service.

Unlike in many other Rjurik realms the settled Rjurik welcome trade and have powerful guilds which maximize the productivity of the realm, a number of guilds of Gandvick seek trading opportunities across the Highlands, these guilds are nominally competitors, however many believe that all ultimately bow to Queen Karena. The farms of Gandvick are famed for their walled gardens, not only do the walls shield the crops from the bitter wind and retain warmth, long hollow walls, fires built at one end of the wall carry warmth along the wall and shelter the crops between the walls from the cold extend the growing season by several weeks. Due to walled gardens and other innovations together with strong loyalty to the realm, starvation has become unknown in Gandvick since the sorcerer was cast down - at least for those Rjurik who offer fealty to the crown, those who scorn the crown swiftly find that few can survive alone on the Tundra.

Nomads typically act as scouts, with the exception of the brutal Trygvaar who form the elite of the army. The nomads are typically considered impoverished, but this view is an error typical of urban Rjurik. The nomads fish the sea during seasons when the sea is free of ice, hunt seals when the sea freezes over and the seals gather on the shores. They also hunt the great walruses and occasionally whales. In the last few years the nomads have begun producing their historic scrimshaw for export, in return for the surplus fish, the huge harvest of seal cubs and scrimshaw the nomads are traded metalwork, fine furs, and grains and tubers from southern Gandvick.

The goblins tend to pay taxes almost entirely in service - many goblins serve in the armies of Gandvick and they are generally at the forefront of any fighting. Cynics say that the realm uses war to cull the goblin population and eliminate the more aggressive goblins from the realm. The goblins carry out some mining and quarrying and also hunt for furs, in return for these they receive worked goods and food from the north of Gandvick when the hunting is poor.

The elves pay their taxes in luxury goods for the court, and in the provision of wizards - each elven tribe must provide one or more wizards to serve the Realm is hunting down any wizards that seek to rebuild the sorcerers cabal or turn the mebhaighl of the land against the people. Aside from these taxes paid to the Queen the elves seem to have almost no interest in the rest of the realm, so long as the Queen enjoys the fine wines, tapestries and jewelry made by the elves enough to settle for their minimal allegiance the situation is unlikely to change.

[top]The Land

Gandvick consists of windswept ice plains in the north, dense forests in the south, with a relatively small amount of ground which can be used for growing arable crops. Much of the land is permafrost which supports subsistence farming at best, but the southern provinces support some arable land which supplies most of the realms crops. The sea however provides much of the food for Gandvick, fish, crabs, shrimp and seal meat are common fare even away from the coast for much of the year - sometimes the fishing is so good that dried fish are even traded to the south.

The city of Mandal serves as the White Witch's capital and shelters several thousands of her subjects.

[top]History

The lands of the north have always been lightly populated, when the Rjurik emigrated to Cerilia from Aduria they settled mostly along the west coast. Only the hardiest folk settled in the north as the land was poorer, and the windswept ice plains supported no life beyond seal colonies and the like.
The various tribes of the north wandered their lands in a nomadic fashion with little political structure or interaction beyond rare festivals. This continued until the rise of the Anuirean Empire under Roele. Roele conquered the Taelshore (or the kingdoms agreed to join his budding empire depending on which scholar you listen too) and began 'teaching the Rjurik civilisation'. While some of the Rjurik took to Anuirean style farming, founding villages, towns and the like with ease, many Rjurik preferred the old ways. They emigrated north building Hogunmark to a sizable realm and also settled along the northern shore and forests.

In a few years many of the tribes joined into a nation, possibly called Hladvik although the tales vary and many scholars believe the name of the realm changed as first one tribe, then another, became dominant. Most the the tales agree on the later history. A king of Hladvik found himself aging and feared he would not be able to live long enough to raise his son to adulthood. The king turned away from the counsel of the druids who preached acceptance of his growing years and accepted a sorcerer that promised him reborn youth as his adviser. The sorcerer's influence grew and after a few years the sorcerer usurped the throne and proclaimed himself king. The realm swiftly became known to the Rjurik as Gandvick, realm of magicians, passing sailors bought wind from the sorcerers to prevent them from being becalmed in the icy seas as they traded between the Great Bay of Brechtur and the Taelshore, or traveled to far off [Thaele] in search of riches. When the sorcerer died one of his apprentices took his place, and the wizardly rule continued for centuries.

A few decades ago Karena, jarl of the tribe of Mandal, led an uprising against the sorcerers. Empowered with great magic of her own through her faith in Kriesha, Karena struck down the ruling cabal of sorcerers and scattered their apprentices to the winds. Karena was not satisfied simply with removing the hated wizard overlords however, she united the tribes and forged a proper realm from the tribes dominated by the sorcerers.

In the next few years Karena, now called Queen Karena, absorbed all the isolated tribes in the area not offering fealty to another realm. In the dead of winter Queen Karena launched a surprise assault on the elves to the east, legions of undead assaulted the sparsely populated elven lands and the Queen's magic somehow turned aside that of the sidhe. After a few months of intense fighting the elves withdrew deeper into the forests and swathed their lands in deep mists, unwilling to suffer further casualties in battle against the armies of Gandvick.

As Queen Karena conquered more and more land she aged at an unnatural rate becoming a gaunt and hideous crone, rumors began to spread along the north that she was becoming an awnsheghlien. Her ambition unquenched by the expansion of Gandvick into elven and goblin lands, Queen Karena sent spies and assassins into Hogunmark, as tensions rose Hogumark invaded Gandvick. The details of the invasion depend on to whom one speaks - some say that the jarls of Hogunmark realised they were about to be attacked by Gandvick, others that Queen Karena somehow tricked the clans into entering Gandvick and the Queen used that incursion as an excuse for war. Whatever the reason the armies of Hogunmark were routed by the Queens forces, entire clans were captured and Hogunmark saw several of its provinces conquered by Gandvick. The war was very nearly the undoing of Gandvick however, King Bervinnig of Halskapa rallied the Rjurik against Gandvick and began whelming a great army to retake the lands of Hogunmark captured by Gandvick and 'free the lands from the worship of foreign gods'.

Queen Karena saw the peril too late, however as the forces of the Rjurik massed the Queen was betrayed and slain by her own daughter, princess, now Queen, Karena the Younger. The beautiful young queen immediately sued for peace and convinced King Bervinnig to negotiate. Despite the furious opposition of Hogunmark who accused Bervinnig of being besotted with the young Queen, war was averted and Gandvick retained the lands it had won from Hogunmark. In the years since the war Queen Karena the younger has consolidated her rule and despite the predictions.

Queen Karena the Younger has not struck against the Rjurik or Elves again, sticking to the letter of the peace accord agreed with King Bervinnig the druids of the Oaken Grove. She has however waged war on the Blood Skull Barony and has captured several goblin and orog villages and much of their land, the conflict has paused at times, but continues with ongoing conflict in the Barrow Woods. To the unease of many Rjurik ,Queen Karena has however encouraged the guilds of Gandvick to spread across the Rjurik Highlands, and some say that she is winning by gold what would drown her in blood if she sought to win with steel.

[top]Political

All law and politics beyond that of the local tribe or village runs through either the court at Mandal or the temples of Kriesha. The temples oversee much of the law, and advise the tribal leaders and jarls on all matters. All true power beyond that at a purely local level is held by Queen Karena, and the priests of Kriesha ensure that any who dare transgress her laws are found and punished harshly.

From a religious perspective the temple of Kriesha preach a philosophy of seasons, Erik rules the summer, from planting to harvesting crops. Kriesha rules winter, and oversees the distribution of the harvest to ensure that the strong survive the long winter - not merely the lucky. Since Gandvick is so cold a land, and surrounded by many foes, the brief warmth of summer is considered merely a shadow and as a result the druids of Erik play little role in politics, their role as advisers and guides to the Rjurik elsewhere in the Taelshore is absent, winter rules Gandvick and so the druids wait for summer when their ways will suit the people again. This duality is scorned in Hogunmark but has become seen as natural for the inhabitants of Gandvick - the folk of Gandvick, guided by the druids of Erik were crushed by the sorcerer for centuries until Kriesha's strength freed them, it will be long years before they accept softer ways again. In the south the goblins follow the old goblin gods as before and simply relabel them as spirits serving Kriesha.

[top]Important Figures

Queen Karena the Younger, accused by some of being Queen Karena the elder and the awnshegh known as the White Witch.

TBA, the hulking chief of the Trygvaar barbarians and Queen Karena's personal champion.

[top]Plots and Rumors

Aside from the continual feuds between its disparate peoples:

The army of Gandvick is currently fighting in the Barrow Woods against both the Blood Skull barony and the forces of Ghuralli - though the undead of the woods are as dangerous a foe as either of these.
Although Gandvick's troops are fighting the Barony in the Barrow Woods, rumors persist that Queen Karena is negotiating an alliance with Thrakazz, the Scarlet Baron.

Gandvick may hold a hatred of sorcerers greater than that of even other Rjurik realms, it aggressively pursues ancient magics and the like - when asked these hunting parties claim that they seek only to ensure that no sorcerer ever arise again to dominate the Rjurik.

[top]Domain Holding Table

[top]Note

The above could well be considered an observation - I have tried to interpret canon in a way which makes the realm usable in game-play, which means creating some ambiguity as to whether 'Queen Karena' is the White Witch or not, and whether the realm is evil or simply ambitious. If you want to use the Witch as more than simply the 'big bad brute' for the Rjurik then having her openly known prevents her using much of her guile, and encourages player-regents to look for a military solution and form a coalition against her which prevents much of the scope for intrigue.

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