Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Foresthome: The Marches of Ogresfell

Continued from the previous section.  Click HERE to go back.

Mystara Alphatia Foresthome Ogresfell map
Marches of Ogresfell, map scale: 8 miles per hex

For the longest time, this region between the Great Clans’ forest and the Realms of Ar and Frisland remained a dangerous wilderness claimed only by ogrish hordes living beneath the crags.  They once dwelled on the surface well before the founding of Ar and Foresthome.  In the face of Alphatian supremacy, the hordes retreated underground and reinforced vast networks of fortified lairs.  From there, they raided the land above until the jaws of Ar and Foresthome locked upon the last of the ogres’ ancestral lands.  Famine threatening, the hordes came out in vast numbers until their final defeat at the battle of Ogre Tusk.  The end of the ogrish peril came when Ar and Foresthome set aside their disputes and agreed to coordinate their efforts.  Ar held its ground and sent airships to rain a storm of magic upon their foes, while Foresthome’s warriors marched and struck the beasts like a hammer on an anvil.  Clans of every sort fought at the side of humans, combining their skills to decimate the hordes so thoroughly that the few survivors had no chance but to retreat once more to their caves.

During these troubled times, a large clan of elves came to the area.  Pale-skinned and with silver-hair, the "Gray Ones" hailed from the Shiye Lawr centuries earlier.  They’d developed an affinity for rocks and stonework, as opposed to forests and woodwork more common in these parts.  Their ways no longer sat well among the Shiye Lawr, and so they departed in search of a separate domain.  They dwelled for a time in the Kerothar Mountains, but the dwarves appreciated them even less.  The Gray Ones’ wanderings took them to what is now Frisland, a cold realm that proved just as unwelcoming.  In their search for better lands, these elves became familiar with the Darkpine Barrens.  The sudden conflict flaring with the ogres drew their keen attention.  Sensing an opportunity, they joined the fight on the side of Foresthome.  The great victory at Ogre Tusk was in part due to the elves’ unexpected arrival behind enemy lines at a time when the famous victory might instead have been the ogres’.  The clan leader of the Gray Ones, Lord Daeron, sought the ogrish queen and slew her, provoking a domino-effect that doomed the beasts.

Mystara Alphatia Foresthome Ogresfell heraldry
Ar was content to keep to its rich lands in the north while the clans headed back to their forests.  The remainder of Foresthome’s forces made a glorious return to Westford, Tarston-Wall, Tutleby, or Suthermore.  The elves stayed behind, alone amid the devastated wilderness.  Few outsiders in Westford or the Grünfold considered moving into the ogres’ former domain.  The Mounrgrim Thickets, Blackjack Forest, and the Heartsbane were notorious for their dangerous denizens.  So were the crags.  In the wake of the great ogre war, the Gray Ones settled the Roaring River basin.  At first they founded the Town of Stonerim.  Over time, the elves pacified the open range and anchored its northern fringe with the Town of Everton, from which trade reached out to the Kingdoms of Ar and Ambur.  They developed close ties to Westford, whose horse culture appealed to them.  Aside from their natural fondness for stone architecture and great fortresses, the Gray Ones learned nonetheless to enjoy the ability to roam the open land on horseback, fast and free.

The Cult of Ekwos took hold among the elves and is chiefly responsible for their favoring mounted warfare.  Their affinity with horses, greater equines, and most woodland beings was well appreciated in the neighboring duchy.  The Gray Ones soon forged a natural alliance with Westford.  Their ties were military, political, commercial, and cultural.  The duchy later sponsored the elves’ entry into the Sylvan Kingdom.  The benefit of their presence at the threshold of the ogres’ lairs was obvious to the monarchy.  It shielded Westford’s northern limits and guarded the new trade routes to Ar and Ambur.  The Company of Haggleby soon established itself in Everton to handle business growing there.  The Gray Ones accepted the Greenwood monarchy as their liege and opened their borders to Foresthome settlers.  The immense territory the elves claimed in the name of the Sylvan Realm stretched more than 300 miles east to west, mostly dangerous wilderness.  It therefore was made into a military march, with Lord Daeron as its marquess.  He still rules to this day.  It was one of the very last territories enfeoffed by the Sylvan Ream.  As the result of the cult of Ekwos’s dominance the marches, Elarion missionaries haven’t enjoyed the same success with the elves as elsewhere in Foresthome.

Aside from normal administrative duties, Daeron’s mission is to pacify wild lands and free them of monsters while keeping an eye on the crags.  Mounted patrols roam the Darkpine Barrens, the Ogrepits Ridge, and the Ogres’ Trail.  Royal rangers watch the woods.  Forests are spared from the axe, for other clans of woodland beings might move there later.  Daeron would therefore earn the same responsibilities toward them as other landed aristocrats in Foreshome.  The Roaring River basin, however, remains open to farmers, elven, human, and equine alike. Much of the present pacification effort targets the Heartsbane.  On the eastern side, a trail was carved through the woods to connect with the Grünfold.  Although patrolled regularly, few travelers or merchants use it unless escorted, due to the dangers lurking in the Mourngrim Thickets.  Rangers and elven patrols have been on the lookout for renegade druids skirting borders with the Duchy of Westford and the Feywoods.  Wood imps were spotted accompanying the renegades, spoiling ambushes set for them.  So far none have been captured.

To be continued.

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