What is Known to be True
Choral the Conqueror
The history of Brevoy is actually the history of two lands, Issia and Rostland, united into one by force.
Issia, the northern half of the nation, has been sparsely settled for centuries. Numerous small villages cluster on the southern shore of the Lake of Mists and Veils and in the foothills of the mountains to the east. With the land too rocky and cold elsewhere for proper farming, the people of Issia survived on a combination of fishing and raiding – the most successful tribes venturing across the great lake to sack settlements along its western or northern shores.
Rostland, south of Lake Reykal and the Gronzi Forest, is quite different than Issia – a vast stretch of rolling hills and grasslands fed by the East Sellen River and its tributaries. Taldan colonists (from Taldor, more to come on Taldor later) settled this area centuries ago under the leadership of Baron Sirian First, who became Sirian Aldori, first of the Aldori swordlords.
In 4499 A.R., the Iobarian (more to come on Iobaria later) warlord Choral Rogarvia, knows as ‘the Conqueror’, crossed the Lake of Mists and Veils with a considerable force under his command. Lord Nikos Surtova of Issia met with the Conqueror on the shores of the lake under a flag of truce, and there the two men worked out an agreement whereby Issia would surrender its land and people to the Conqueror but the Surtovas would retain their power and wealth, serving the new rulers as stewards and duly sworn vassal lords.
The Aldori swordlords of Rostland, with their history of resisting bandit raiders, were not so willing to bend their knees to a foreign conqueror. They immediately rallied for war and secured their strongholds south of Lake Reykal. Yet the fractious swordlords fell to the disciplined forces of Choral’s. The survivors of the initial battles were able to unite in a last assault, believing they had cornered Choral and part of his forces in a narrow mountain valley. When the swordlords entered the valley, not only were they met by Choral’s forces but also by a pair of red dragons, unseen and unknown to this point in the war. The devastation inflicted by these monsters upon the swordlords was the final blow, and with this fiery defeat Rostland pledged itself to Choral the Conqueror to save its traditions from eradication.
The Conqueror sat only briefly on the Dragonscale Throne of the new nation he forged, soon leaving and letting his family rule in his name. For two centuries, the Rogarvias held the Ruby Fortress and ruled from New Stetven, pacifying minor uprisings and rebellions, and working to wield two disparate lands into one. Under Rogarvian rule, the nation came to be known as Brevoy and grew into a significant northern power.
In the middle of winter in early 4699 AR, every member of House Rogarvia vanished without a trace. Rumors flew of palace coups and sinister plots, but it quickly became clear that what had occurred was something altogether stranger than a mere rebellion. There was no evidence of foul play or struggle within the royal palace, nor in any of the noble villas owned by the Rogarvias throughout the land – the nobles were simply gone, leaving empty manors scattered throughout Brevoy. A brief period of chaos and panic followed, but by the end of the year, the Surtovas had made their move. Citing their age-old ties with the Conqueror’s line, they were quick to seize power in New Stetven and extend their reach across Brevoy. With all of Issia seemingly backing their move, Rostland had little choice but to bend its knee again. Today, King Noleski Surtova holds the Ruby Fortress and the Dragonscale Throne, yet it remains to be seen how long he can maintain his rule over a kingdom growing increasingly fractious.
Apart from king and royal family, the highest ranking nobles in Brevoy are its lords – the heads of the noble houses. The lords of Brevoy are male; eldest sons inherit their father’s estate and titles. Younger sons often receive some provision, but it need not be much under the law. Women exert influence through their husbands or sons, and may even rule as regents for sons who have not yet reached the age of majority (15 winters). Lords tend to have many children as a result, at least to secure a male “heir and a spare.” This leads to various cadet branches and lines of houses, as well as alliances by marriage, such that in the past 200 years the seven major noble houses have become both more closely related and more widespread. There is an ever-greater demand for land and titles, and more young, disaffected nobility looking to make a mark in the world.
Seven great noble houses dominate the political landscape of Brevoy, most dating back to before the arrival of the Conqueror, when they existed as powerful tribes of raiders and barbarians. Choral apportioned the lands and titles to those lords willing to pledge fealty to him, reordering the houses into their modern forms.
The valleys and lowlands of the Golushkin Mountain are the domain of House Garess, founded on both the defensibility of the mountain terrain and the mineral wealth the house has brought out of the peaks for generations.
House Garess once had a profitable alliance with a clan of dwarves living in the Golushkin Mountains, serving as brokers of a sort for the ores, metals, and worked goods the Golushkin dwarves produced. Lord Howlan Garess even took Toval Golka , the son of the clan-chief of the dwarf hold, as his ward in Grayhaven Castle. This proved fortunate for young Toval, as Grayhaven lost all contact with the dwarf hold of Golushkin during the same winter as the Vanishing. With his own son Bren lost inside the mountains, Lord Howlan, a widower with no other children, has named Toval his adoptive heir. This has earned the dwarf, now a skilled young warrior on his own right, few friends in Grayhaven.
House Garess’s crest is a snow-capped mountain peak in gray against a dark blue field like the sky, with a silvery crescent moon in the upper right corner and a black hammer across the base of the peak, head toward the left. Its motto is “Strong as the Mountains.”
Kesten and Vas are both from House Garess.
The Lebedas of Lake Reykal are know as the most “Rostlandic” of Brevoy’s noble houses having inherited a good deal of Taldan blood and tradition, including a fondness for sword fighting and an appreciation of the finer things. Their family seat of Silverhall is one of the grandest castles in Brevoy, its spires rising above the shores of Lake Reykal. The Lebedas earn and maintain their fortune as merchants and brokers between the northern and southern reaches of Brevoy, and control much of the shipping across the lake.
Dame Sarrona Lebeda has ruled the house as regent since the death of her husband, but their son Lander is approaching his majority, when he will become lord of the house. His older sister, Elanna spends a great deal of time representing their house in New Stetven, and rumors claim the Lebedas are looking to arrange a marriage between her and Noleski Surtova.
House Lebeda’s crest is a white swan, serenely sailing across a blue expanse, with the sun on the horizon behind it. Whether the sun is said to be rising or setting depends on the house’s fortunes. Its motto is “Success through Grace.”
House Lodovka have never changed their waterborne ways and have remained strongly interested in maritime affairs since the founding of Brevoy. They have steadily grown their fleet of ships in the Lake of Mists and Veils and their influence along their lakeshore lands and the trade routes crossing the waters. House Lodovka claims comparatively little land in the northernmost areas of Brevoy, and much of the land is unsuitable for farming, but the house has many vessels hauling catches of fish and freshwater crabs from the Lake.
Lord Kozek Lodovka is a cunning old pirate with a love of the water, looking to his house, his family, and his people.
House Lodovka’s crest is a green-shelled crab climbing from the blue waters toward the gray band of shore surmounted by a gray tower-keep in the center, against a backdrop of black. Their house motto is “The Waters, Our Fields”.
From Eagle’s Watch on the slopes of Mt. Veshka, House Orlovsky seeks to remain above the conflicts of Brevoy. Unfortunately, the house’s role as a staunch ally of the Rogarvias has placed it in an awkward position under the current regime. Thus far, House Orlovsky has refused to acknowledge Noleski Surtova as anything other than Lord Regent in the absence of King Urzen or a true Rogarvian heir, but it is becoming increasingly clear which way the political winds are shifting. Lord Poul Orlovsky will soon be forced to either declare for the Noleski, or support a different claim to the Dragonscale Throne.
House Orlovsky’s crest is a black eagle against a gold field, wings spread, feathers almost touching at the point of the base. Its motto is “High Above.”