Places:Erinsford:History:Dukes of Wyvernesse
Regarding the Dukes of Wyvernesse
Being a Part of The History of the Wyvernesse by Cirades Rymon
The Half-Elves of the deep forest have always worshiped the Lady in Green and the White-Cloaked Axe-Bearer, and other gods besides, both greater and lesser than these two. The origins of the Sisterhood of the Green are secret and I shall not recount what I do not know, but this much is known - the Lady was worshiped around Erinsford before ever Men came out of the North. When they came, they were welcomed cautiously. Their settlements were allowed. The Half-Elvish forest chieftains watched and helped as Southhome came up in the woods and faded back into them. Wyvernesse followed Southhome as the central settlement of the Humans. Erinsford followed the manor village of Wyvernesse. When Erinsford grew rich enough to look beyond its surrounds, Waste's Edge sprang up. Beyond Waste's Edge there is naught but the mountains and the Dwarvish kingdoms beneath them, as the author can well attest.
None of the settlements before Wyvernesse gave the chieftains great reason for alarm. It seemed to them that somehow these Men had escaped the scourge of their race, for they showed few signs of ambition. They gave due respect to earth and wood. Even their gods taught them to thank the earth, the wood, and the living things they took to table. There was peace.
The shamans and chieftains willed to keep it so, and so they themselves taught the sons of Elanor the Wyvernesse to rule in the wood. Elvish Elgilad took little heed of the little hamlets of the Humans. The Human domains of the North were even farther away. Thus the lords and priests of the Forest tribes had no trouble shaping to their wills the sons of the Wyvernesse. But human ambition cannot be contained.
Wyvernesse was the first sign of sorrows to come. After other humans had come out of the North and West, Lord Garret of Wyvernesse built a fortress of stone in the wilderness. Some of the human travelers turned away at the news of the fortress in the wood, knowing that the place was not to be taken easily. Others, both locals and pilgrims, chose to shelter at the foot of the walls. The cutting of the trees began in earnest then, but the woodsmen did not always offer thanks to the Axe-Bearer or regrets to the Lady. They quarried stone out of the toes of the Mountains to build an out-wall for the fortress. Within the wall they planted crops. None of this particularly displeased the Half-Elves, though the abundance of axes and the scarcity of woodland shrines did not bode well.
Finally, the people of Wyvernesse outgrew their little manor in the woods. The curtain wall and finally the stone houses around the fortress were torn down to built a new town nearer to the river, which had moved since the building of Southhome and Wyvernesse. The Lady of the Rivers, as the Half-Elves say, is proud of her hair and will not be stopped from throwing it about.
They built the town at a ford and named each for the other. Erinsford quickly became the chief settlement of the region. Other, smaller places were soon abandoned, though certain small homesteads remained beyond the view of the town watch. From the first, the Sisters and Knighthood were woven into the fabric of the little Duchy. But do not roots and rocks contend?
As rocks and roots, the rule of lordly Humans and the rule of the Lady would seem to have been fated to gnaw at one another. But the author jumps ahead of himself.
The Sisters and their Knights were few but honored in Erinsford. Red Sisters and their Rods of Chaos came to Erinsford as well and even they were received with true welcome. Erin's eldest son, Erik the next Duke of Erinsford, built a hunting lodge in the woods and sacred trees at which to give thanks for prey-beasts killed. Sisters Green and Red blessed the place, each circle in its own fashion. Only with Aleks, son of Erik, son of Erin, did the Chieftains scent the beast they had fostered. The Wyvernesse family seemed, which each generation, to build more and more houses and hamlets in the wild. Aleks spent his life building up the manor and the town, and old Southhome besides. He planted no groves.
The Rede of the Bridge
Aren the Bridger followed Aleks as the Duke of Erinsford. Aren came young to the Duchy of the wilderness and was determined to make his name. His predecessors had built or rebuilt their places on the land, but none had tamed the river. This Aren set out to do. When the first barges of rough stone were sunk to create a steady footing in the river, a Half-Elvish shaman cried out in the central circle of the town:
Hear, you people of Erin's Ford, You who seek to bind the hair of the Ocean's Wife, You think to chain the Lady of Rivers. For your pride you shall forfeit life.
As the rivers from the mountains flow, So the Green from the Ford will go, With fire and wind thrust forth, And morrow's hope giv'n but recent birth.
But human engineers take little heed of wilder-land seers. The Bridgemaking was long and hard, but at last succeeded. Few indeed lost their lives in the doing, so that the seer's words were altogether forgotten by those not heedful of the Old Powers of the world.
Aren was succeeded by his foster-daughter Elissathal the Fair, first and last Half-Elven ruler of Erinsford. She did not tear down the bridge, but she planted many a grove and fountain in the honor of the Old Powers. In her years, the Gardeners and the Sisters truly prospered. Erinsford, for a while, was known as a place of healing. Afar off in other Human countries, the very streets of the town were rumored to bloom where the Green Duchess walked in them.
Elissathal was succeeded by her foster-son Erik. From his time, the line of succession did not pass out of the house of Wyvernesse. There were rumors of war in the North and of Hunters of Magick. Hearing them, some of the Half-Elvish folk melted back into the forest. They spoke openly of fears that their mis-appraisal of Human nature would soon bear fruit. Erik began to build a standing guard for Erinsford. In pledge of his loyalty to the Chieftains, the central column and plaza of the town were torn up. Erik, working with his own hands in this show of good will, replaced the carved cobblestones with grass. He planted one young tree for each of the Old Powers of earth and sky. At the center of the grove, he built a fountain in honor of Lady Rivers. The fountain was a marvel in the wilderness, carved in the fashion of a water-spirit standing atop a willow tree. The Gardeners and Sisters remained in Erinsford, though they retreated more often to the wilds.
Erik the Grover died of old age on the day that the Magehunters first passed through Erinsford. They were not met with true welcome and moved onward quickly.The Grover's son Garret succeeded to the Duchy. In his reign, the Grover's policy of welcome to all magick users began to bear bitter fruit. Certain Blackwidow Sisters insinuated themselves into the community of Erinsford. Because of their skill in healing and the increasing scarcity of the Green Sisters, they were welcomed. Few understood that the Blackwidows could heal only because they were also versed in the forms of blighting and cursing. After them came Brothers of the Fang, seeking to corrupt and control the little Duchy.
Albrecht and Redfall
When Garret was aging and Albrecht was beginning his term as next-Duke, the Magehunters returned. They came in secrecy this time, understanding that to be known was to be shunned. Those who perceived their nature withdrew their welcome, but the Magehunters remained. Almost as soon as the Magehunters were perceived, the darkly learned began to scheme against them. They did nothing at first, perhaps because they did not know which of the darkeners to strike and which to leave unmolested.
Of their inner workings, I cannot speak and would not dare, but I guess that the Spiders instigated the conflict, as much to drive away the Sisterhoods of Nature as to break the Magehunters. At the first, there was no hint that the violence was directed by one group against another. There began to be fighting in the streets, but the Duke's guards quelled it with accustomed skill and little bloodshed. The Dukes of Erinsford have always chosen their guardsmen shrewdly.
Then, in the fall of the year, twenty-one years ago, a Magehunter fell ill. He was quickly cured. A fortnight later, another of their number fell ill and died with agonizing slowness. Neither the Magehunters nor the Kindly Learned mistook the meaning of the death. It was all too sudden and horrific to be other than the work of venom. The common inhabitants of the town did not understand the death. It seemed too extraordinary a death to have meaning, though perhaps the foreigners had begun to die of foreign diseases. None could be sure that he was not the next to die.
The Magehunters were quick to feed the fear of the people. Understanding their peril, they continued in their murderous cause, calling for the punishment of many who had healed their wounds in days past. The commoners grew ever more fearful as those they knew and trusted were accused of murder and wickedness. The Fang struck again, killing a Magehunter as he stood in the marketplace. Perceiving the end, the Sisters of the Green dispersed their children into safer keeping.
The first day of the winter snows came on the last day of the month of Redfall, on the very heels of the autumn. On that day, Duke Garret died in his bed and Albrecht assumed the Duchy of his father. In the marketplace, the Sisters of the Green gathered to the fountain and trees in the middle of Erinsford. This year, as every year, they came to sing the resting of the Lady and the beginning of the Axe-Bearer's rule in the earth. By their songs and power, they would cause the fountain to flow with water on the first day of winter, as they had done for generations. Before the rites could begin, a cobbler was murdered in his house. The man had no connections to the Singers, the Hunters, the Spiders, or the Fang. He simply collapsed, very obviously poisoned. The people went mad with terror.
Today, if it is remembered at all, the first snow of winter is called Redfall for another reason entirely. But that account must wait to another day. I seem to have customers.