The Gren Kingdom, which is also known as the Western Kingdom, is a feudal monarchy. It controls the entire west of the Temperate Zone, ruling over everyone and everything that lies between Threa's Spine and the western shores. In the north it reaches into the taiga of the Boreal Zone; in the south it has a fuzzy border with the Starless Jungle. Neither the Riz nor the Gren are exactly sure where whose realm begins. The Ironhead Flatlands, the Southern Verdant Valley, Varhal's Ridge, and Vandell Forest are all regions that lie entirely under the control of the Gren King, who resides in Northorn. A good chunk of the Northern Verdant Valley, a land covered in northern forests, also belongs to the Western Kingdom.
Most inhabitants of the Gren Kingdom are Trezlin, but all lin can live in it. Sozlin and Wolshaks form rather large minorities within the realm. In the northern lands, even Truzlin can be found in notable amounts. The term Gren (plural Gren) applies to all inhabitants of the Gren Kingdom, regardless of their species. Overall, the Western Kingdom is not against the other humanoid species; they are all permitted to live and move within the Gren Kingdom as long as they stick to its laws. However, to become a proper part of Gren society one has to either become a serf or somehow be made a noble. They can also stay a free person, but then they will likely spend their days living in taverns, because they won't be permitted to have their own home, unless they somehow acquire the wealth to buy it.
Many Trezlin, who originate from the Western Kingdom, take the term 'Gren' as an insult, because they identify more with their own region than they do with the kingdom. Few are in favor of the large realm; most would prefer if the Gren Kingdom split into the various nations it is made of. Only the Suwehbens, who come from the Dukedom Suwehb, and their supporters want to keep all Gren under one crown, simply because the current royal family is Suwehbish.
Society- and culture-wise, the different peoples grouped under the term Gren do not vary too wildly. They even share a language - simply called Gren - which includes a lot of local dialects. Most of them simply still have strong nationalistic feelings for the realms that existed multiple centuries ago. Due to this lack of national feelings towards the Gren Kingdom and the lack of national unity, it can certainly not be called a nation state. The seven dukedoms, which the Gren Kingdom is separated into, only stay together and under the rule of the Gren King to remain safe, and because they aren't sure who would survive the civil wars that are bound to happen should the Gren Kingdom ever fall apart. More on the different dukedoms can be found under the Minor Factions section.
Two things define the Gren - toughness and fierceness. Having lived in an area where the populations of beasts and Wolshaks have always been large, the Gren are experienced in surviving even the strongest enemies and worst conditions. The ancestors of the Gren did not survive only through wit, but also through sheer willpower and hunting prowess. Gren warriors are brave, hence their morale is hard to break. Hardships have not only toughened the Gren but also made them a rough sort. Their customs include duels until death and blood feuds. Violence is not a foreign thing to a Gren. Caring little about appearing cultured, manners and exaggerated formalities are not an established concept, even among nobility. Respect is necessary for their society to function, however. Gren do call each other by their titles and bow to their superiors, but they do not throw themselves in the dirt like pigs and drown their higher ups in compliments. Typically, when a Gren meets their superior, they lower themselves down on their left knee, while putting their hands on the right one, and look at the ground ahead of them while keeping their head up.
Despite a lack of fancy formalities, the society of the Gren is very hierarchical and the societal class one is hatched into determines one's future. Quite simply put, there's common folks and there's nobles; the former is naturally beneath the latter. Feudal lords rule over serfs and noble vassals. Loyalty is an important aspect of this society, which is mostly enforced by said lords to ensure their vassals and peasants will do as they command and pay their taxes. The right of the nobles to rule their serfs and other subjects stems from the noble blood running through their veins. These noble families established themselves as the ruling class, because they had and still have the strongest, proudest warriors and hunters in their bloodline. Some noble families also trace their bloodlines back to warriors that fought alongside Yggorum, the primary god of the Gren. See the section "Religion" for more information.
Despite seeming rather rough and perhaps a bit primitive when it comes to their customs, the Gren are a relatively advanced people. They live in settled, usually more or less fortified communities. These range in size from small villages, that feature a tall, reinforced fence at most, to large cities, which are protected by a strong stone wall. Outside of the walls are large fields, worked by subsistence farmers that utilize domesticated animals to ease their burden. Within the walls, smiths and other men of trade work tirelessly produce wares for the market. Warriors armed with iron and nobles armed with steel protect these common people.
Due to how large the average Gren community is, a Gren can't have tight social bonds to all its members. Thus the most important group for a Gren isn't some kind of tribe or pack, but the extended family. A commoner defines his family to last from their own grand parents to the children of their own children and their own siblings. Within these groups, people try to get along and have tightly knit bonds. They are connected by blood and blood relations are highly valued among the Gren. This is even more evident among the nobility, which has to keep close track of blood relations to ensure that titles and land remains within the family and are inherited by the right children. Thus all noble families have surnames to identify themselves with and also have a family emblem each to call their own. If they own land, their emblem becomes the flag of their demesne. For families, both of noble and common origin, the patriarch is the leading figure of the family. Gren society in general is rather male-oriented.
The next bigger social group is the community the Gren lives in, so their hometown or village. Gren very much identify with their local community, usually more than they do with the region and much more than they do with the realm. Yet with the right leader at the head even the stubborn Gren can be swayed to fight with vigor for the greater goal. However, most Gren have trouble identifying themselves with anything beyond their dukedom. Few would declare that they are more loyal to the Gren King than they are to their duke or even local baron or count. Even non-Trezlin within the Gren Kingdom, if they spend enough generations in the local area, might adopt this way of thought.
Conflicts between the aforementioned regions (baronies, counties, dukedoms) are relatively common, but not always obvious and violent. The Gren Kingdom is divided, a country of many cultural groups and formerly independent nations. Despite loyalty being so valued, treachery is very common among the higher ranks of the political echelons, especially between the nobles of the different cultural groups. Dukes and even counts contest with others of their rank for land and titles. Lesser nobles might rise up against their superiors to try and replace them, causing the cast of actors on the great stage of internal politics to never stay the same. Allies might turn to foes and vice versa. Owning many titles means being powerful which in turn makes one a target for alliances as well as hostilities. Sometimes even assassinations. Greed and a hunger for power are bad traits, but not uncommon ones.
Two things can always unite the bickering nobles - a common enemy and an iron-willed leader. The Gren Kingdom came into existence and expanded its influence over its neighbors in times where a belligerent faction - the Sokan Empire - was threatening the existence of all realms between the taiga and the rainforest. This threat forced small realms to submit to bigger ones for the sake of their own safety. Unfortunately, the long time of peace that has passed since then, more than 300 years, led to the people of these realms forgetting about just how hard these times were, thus the realm has become vulnerable to internal conflict. Under the right circumstances, one of the dukedoms could even spark a civil war, which could either lead to a new king being put on the throne or even the kingdom falling apart. This would be a dark, bloody end for the Gren Kingdom or at least the current royal family.
The commoners do not hear much of the political infighting, except when nobles fight minor wars against each other or when their current lord is more or less suddenly replaced by another through intrigues. When minor wars have to be fought, the serfs and peasants are armed and used to settle the conflict between the noble houses violently. Simple people are naught but pawns to some lords, but most do actually care for their people, especially the population of their demesne. Apart from the occasionally change in leadership, the life of commoners remains the same most of the time - a struggle to make a living. Most Gren are simple subsistence farmers, who have to give their lord a tithe, work for him, and fight for him.
One privilege the commoners have is the freedom to pick whatever partner of the opposite sex they like. Couples where both partners are of the same sex are seen as wrong, because they go against Yggorum's wish that his creation replicates and are hence unnatural. Simple families do not have to worry much about marriage ties apart from making sure their daughters marry good men. Noble families have way greater concerns when it comes to marriage ties. After all, each child born with noble blood flowing through its veins could be able to claim land in one way or another. It could become a future ally or a future usurper! Not only that, but the families that bond by marriage are considered allies in the eyes of the others, so it is also about their public image. Daughters are given away with care and used as political instruments to forge alliances and further a family's influence. Should a person of common birth marry one of noble birth, then the formerly common person is considered a noble as well. These marriages are extremely rare, because nobles prefer to stick to their own sort. Nobles are even a bit prudish; sexual activities are supposed to only be shared with one's married partner and no one else, because otherwise tracking blood lines could become hard. Commoners do not care as much about premarital sex, but some still treat it as a taboo.
While sexism is established in the Gren Kingdom, racism is not. There are plenty of clichés and prejudice, but overall non-Trezlin can live just like any Trezlin in the Gren Kingdom. They just have to integrate themselves into the society of the Gren and behave in accordance with the law and customs. Only the most crusty Gren wouldn't accept a non-Trezlin who has proven themselves to be a good person. Sozlin and Wolshaks have the easiest time integrating themselves, because a relatively large number of their species already live among the Gren.
The stance regarding kul is the opposite: No kul allowed. All kul are despised. Almost all anyway. This hatred stems from the many attacks on small communities done by wild Trezkul, as well as the religious beliefs of the Gren. Kul may only enter the Gren Kingdom if they receive a special permit from the king himself. No kul has such a permit right now, but in the time of the Great War a few Firehorns received this honor. Wild kul and even Aezkul are slain without a second thought if they dare to enter the Western Kingdom. The slayers earn great glory and usually a fat bounty. Professional beastslayers even have their own guild and are a prestigious, well respected group among the Gren. Taming kul is something no Gren has tried so far, too great is the worry that they would invite death into their own houses.
Gren are very adept at taming and utilizing various other animals. Most animals the Gren domesticated are a form of livestock, such as chickens, cattle, pigs, and similar. However, the Gren also keep pets, usually for a purpose. Hounds are used on hunts, felines and fewiggs keep pests at bay. Plenty of animals are also used as mounts. Daebis are great when one wants to travel comfortably or if a messenger has to deliver a message somewhere very quickly. Ironheads are usually used as beasts of burden, but they also make for great heavy mounts for the nobility of the Gren. These large herbivores are rather expensive, so the pack ironheads usually belong to wealthy traders or nobles. The war mount versions belong to the nobility exclusively. Avogs are used as mounts for light cavalry and by travelers who expect a dangerous journey, one that the easily frightened daebis couldn't handle. Owning an avog is an expensive undertaking, so only mercenaries, professional warriors, and wealthy adventures get to.
A person's social status in the Gren Kingdom is primarily determined by one's family. A person born to a family of commoners is considered a commoner as well and does not have nearly as many rights as the a person born into a noble family does. Becoming a noble is extremely difficult. One would have to marry another noble, accomplish an extraordinary feat, or be a warrior so great that they are worthy of being knighted or be granted a title, thus becoming a member of the nobility. There's a few stories of war heroes or heroic beast slayers who have been knighted as a reward for their loyal service. Once a person has become a noble, their children and married partner will be considered nobility as well. It can be tough for new members of the nobility to establish themselves as such with other nobles but the one who raised their social status, because they may not see them as worthy of nobility.
Secondarily a person's standing among the populace is determined by one's feats and abilities. Great warriors and beastslayers, even if they do not receive knighthood or a title, enjoy a good reputation. Expert crafters can also gather renown for their work, but never would a skald write a tale about a master smith. Although scholars and other people who possess great intellect are rarely worth of note to the majority of the Gren, amazing tacticians that won a battle against superior forces through their wit often end up being the stuff of legends, next to the brave warriors that actually faced the foes in battle. Roughly summed up, traits that are looked up to are loyalty, strength, and courage.
A person's social standing is also determined by their sex. Gren males see women as less capable than men when it comes to matters of war or leadership. Thus women are put on a lower step on the social ladder than their male counterparts, but not disrespected. A woman of noble birth is still considered to be of a higher standing than a commoner and the commoner will bow to her without question. The gender roles stem from the very distant past, when women always took care of the camp and the children, while the males went hunting. Women are not allowed to be warriors, neither may they learn how to smith or do a similarly hard trade. Female commoners usually become housewives or help on their family's farm. Some also learn how to wave or make shoes. A good housewife and mother is highly valued by the Gren. Women of noble birth can inherit title, but males heirs come first by default, even if they are younger. It is rather common that noble daughters are married away to seal an alliance with another house or improve one's standing with one's lord.
As mentioned before, there are a few large minorities within the Gren Kingdom, namely the Sozlin and the Wolshaks. The Gren do not care much about one's species, even if they have prejudices. Wolshaks are seen as dumb brutes who are easy to enrage and are capable of breaking apart whatever they touch, while Sozlin are seen as simple people, but who are great at surviving out in the wild. No matter what thoughts the Gren harbor, by law both Sozlin and Wolshaks enjoy the same rights as any other inhabitant of the Gren Kingdom. They can technically even acquire noble titles and buy land. However, most non-Trezlin in the Gren Kingdom are either free people or serfs. The history of why there are so many Wolshaks in the Gren Kingdom can be found in the 'History' section primarily.
Now to lay out the rather straightforward social ladder of the Gren: At the top is the king, beneath him are his dukes, then come the counts and beneath them are the barons. All of the aforementioned are nobles with titles, so Gren who rule over a large piece of land and its people and have the responsibility to keep both safe, but also the right to demand various forms of taxes. Beneath the titled nobles are the knights and untitled nobles. Then come the common people: free men and women, landowners, and serfs. The grand majority of the Gren are commoners. Nobles are a relatively tiny minority.
Members of the nobility, even those without titles, have many privileges. They include but are not limited to the right to own titles, pass their titles down to their children, and give their titles away to whoever they want. These same rights apply to land, even if the land is not attached to a title. A title grants a noble the right to control and judge everyone of lower rank who lives in the land attached to it. Men with titles are commonly referred to as lords. Women with titles, a rare occurrence, are referred to as ladies, as are all women of noble birth, or by their title. Lords may also demand taxes, military and other services, and labor from their subjects. In return nobles must protect their subjects and ensure their wellbeing. How wellbeing is defined is usually up to the lord in question.
Noble families that have no title have far less prestige than those with a title. The more titles a noble family has, the higher its prestige is. Those without titles try to turn one of their male members into a knight or to become landowners. Both are preferable to being without title, without land, and thus without anything worth of note about them. At least such minor noble families are the prime candidates when a titled noble needs vassals to rule over chunks of land he can't or no longer can rule over himself. To ensure that they are chosen, minor noble families always try to have a good relationship with the local titled nobility. Alternatively, they might work together with the enemies of the local titled nobility to overthrow them and take their titles.
On par with the untitled nobles are the knights. A Gren knight is an untitled noble who vows his loyalty to a titled noble and in return receives a village and its surrounding land as a fief. From the populace the knight may demand taxes and services, but he may not consider the people his serfs, he may not judge them, and he can only conscript them to safeguard the region, not for his own military campaigns. The lord the knight serves under could bestow the right to judge upon the knight and make him the local recruiter for the lord's own campaign. This is a common practice, but not the default agreement.
A knight has to protect his land as well as his lord with his own life and the assistance of the local warriors. He also has to ensure that the roads are safe, that animals are kept at bay, and that Wolshaks don't raid the village. In times of war the knight has to serve his lord as an elite warrior. To be capable of doing all of this, a knight usually invests a great share of his wealth in his armor, weapons, and a mount, and a lot of his time in training. Lords commonly demand only a low tax from their knights, so that they actually have the necessary means to buy their own equipment. Given that knights have to be capable warriors to fulfill their duties, a knight may only pass the ownership of his land down to one of his sons, if he is suitable for knighthood himself. As a consequence knights raise their children to be expert warriors.
Depending on how well they treat the population and how well they do their duties, knights are either liked and respected or hated and feared by the common people. Most knights are actually protectors of their land and not tyrants who squeeze every last bit out of their peasants. Naturally they do not do this out of the kindness out of heart, at least not in most cases, but out of the simple calculation that content and safe peasants are harder working ones. Starving peasants can't work, but too wealthy peasants might start lazing around.
Below the knights are the landowners. There are two types of landowners, those of common and those of noble birth. The sole difference between the two is that nobles may pass the land they own down to their children, while commoners may not. Inheriting land is simply a privilege of nobility. Acquiring land is possible through a number of ways. Some buy it, some receive it as gifts, some as rewards for great deeds, and some, like knights, receive it in return for their services. Given that commoners can't give land they acquired to their heirs, few bother actually trying to buy any. Most landowners of common birth received the land as some form of reward. The majority of landowners is of noble birth, usually knights. Titled nobles only rarely sell land to anyone. They would only consider it when they are in dire need of money and would preferably sell it to commoners, so they can be sure they or at least their children will get the land back once the former owner died.
Owning land has a few benefits; first and foremost the right to claim all natural resources on it. Secondly, the owner of the land does not have to do physical labor for the local lord, but they still have to pay taxes. Thirdly, if someone rents a plot on the landowner's land, then the landowner can demand payment from them. However, the person owning the plot is not freed from the local lord's tax, so they practically have to pay double what others have to pay! Landowners stand above the rest of the rabble simply because they are usually quite wealthy. Landowners of common birth do not usually mingle with those of noble birth, but stick to the other commoners. There is simply a gap between the nobility and commoners, even the wealth ones, which money can't close.
The next lower step on the social ladder are the serfs. A serf is a commoner that is bound to a feudal lord. Serfs live and work on a plot of land rented to them by said lord. As rent, they pay a tithe of what they farm, forage, gather, or craft to him. They also have to do feudal services for him, so offer manual labor to him or serve in his armies, when demanded. Even people who live in towns and cities are considered serfs. Serfs may not leave their lord's land without their lord's permission. Usually they have to buy their freedom or earn it through good deeds. Sometimes it is also possible to move under the protection of another lord. If a lord has a need for serfs, he might steal them from another by offering the serfs benefits if they work and live on his lands instead. Stealing someone else's serfs of course causes tensions between the noble families involved; no one wants to lose serfs. The grand majority of the people are serfs.
Now come the free men and women. They are, depending on what they do, located between the serfs and landowners, but yet can also be considered beneath the serfs, if they are scoundrels. Free people have no duties, but neither do they have any rights beyond the right to own property and be protected by the law. They can move between the demesne of different lords without any trouble, but they are usually not permitted to just settle down somewhere. Most lords don't allow non-serfs to settle, unless the free person is willing to buy the property they want to live on or give up their freedom to become a subject, usually a serf. Becoming a free person is a matter of wealth, birth, or deed. One can buy their freedom from their lord and by royal law it is illegal for a lord demand more than 50 thalers from a subject for their freedom. That is a lot of money, a sum far too large for a simple peasant to acquire. Birth is the second way, because a child born to a free person is also considered a free person. One may also be granted their freedom for great deeds, such as achievements in war or extraordinary services to their lord.
Free people primarily consist of traders, master crafters, beastslayers, and mercenaries. Those four kinds of professions tend to have the money to buy their freedom. The latter two sometimes receive their freedom as part of their contract. Because many criminals chose to become free people by running away from their lord's land, most commoners look at free people with a bit of suspicion. A lot of Wolshaks are also free people, simply because they never chose to become any lords serf. They move around in more or less civilized packs, live in tent villages, and offer various services, ranging from simple hard labor to mercenary services.
The lowest step, as usual, are criminals. Executions are common punishment, even for minor crimes. No noble wants to bother imprisoning people and feeding them in their dungeon since killing them presents a much cheaper alternative. A popular alternative to executions is slavery. People can be enslaved for thieving, not repaying a debt, and similar crimes. The owner of the slave is usually the person who has been wronged, unless they have no use for a slave. Then the local noble becomes the owner of the slave. Slavery is not a permanent punishment in most cases, just a temporary one. Nobles are the judges in the Gren Kingdom; they may judge anyone who ranks beneath them and lives on their land. Decisions during court sessions are made rather quickly and based solely on the considerations of the lord. Most do not enjoy to bother with long sessions and judge fast and harsh, based on shady evidence or whatever result is in their own favor. Witnesses' testimonies are the most common type of evidence. At least commoners tend to be honest people.
A Gren's life starts among his or her family. For Gren it is tradition that the mother lays her eggs in the presence of family members. Usually this includes the woman's partner, her previously produced children, and her parents. But other family members are also welcome. However, they don't just shamelessly stare at her as she lays the eggs. The laying female is usually covered with blankets by her husband, but the rest is present to be there with her in spirit and make her feel secure among family. Non-family members are not allowed to be present; the religion of the Gren forbids it. At most a druid of Yggorum or a Daughter of Ajadia, the goddess of fertility, may be present.
The act of lying the eggs is the same for people of all walks of life, with the exception of free men and women. Some free women lack family beyond their partner to be there with them when it happens. The hatching of the eggs usually work the same way as well, they simply do so in the care of whoever tends to the eggs, but caring for the egg and especially how the child is raised differ greatly between the societal classes, as can be seen in the sections below.
Once eggs of noble blood are laid, they are wrapped up in blankets and placed in a nest made out of furs and pillows. The mother is the main care taker of the child, but usually she's assisted by maids, who bring her whatever she desires to ensure she can stay with the eggs When it hatches, the partner is quickly informed so that he can be present when his offspring enters the world. However, noble men are often busy with various tasks, so he might not be around for it. Regardless, the freshly hatched Trezlin is kept safe and warm by his mother and her maids. The next day the infant is already able and permitted to crawl around within the parent's room, but is alway kept under supervision! Not only because their parents love them so dearly, but also because they have great value. Each son could end up being a potential heir and each daughter a useful asset to start an alliance. It is no surprise that noble children can become the targets of kidnappings and even assassinations.
Until the age of five noble children of both sexes are tended to by their mother and her maids. Within that time they learn how to walk and speak somewhat properly, if with only basic vocabulary. However, they also learn their place in the world. They are taught how to behave well and that they are part of an important family. They are familiarized with important relatives and the family's emblem Despite likely being busy now and then, the father will still try to spend a lot of time with his children, especially his sons. They have to further his bloodline and legacy, so of course the father must see to his offspring growing up well.
Once the children are five years old, their lessons begin. They are taught simple matters first, such as the Gren way of life, manners, what animal is called what, the ranks of the nobility, and so on and so forth. If the parents see it as wise, the children are also taught how to read and write. This isn't a very common thing, because often nobles hire scribes to do any writing and reading for them! However, literacy among nobles has been increasing as they began to learn the advantage of being able to read sensitive messages themselves, without needing to have a third party set its eyes on it. To show them their later role in life, fathers tend to their sons and mothers to their daughters.
Advanced lessons begin at the age of twelve. Daughters simply learn how to be proper housewives to noble husbands, how to organize a residence's staff, and how to maintain it with the help of the local populace. A noble residence could be a wealthy house, but it can also be a large, complex castle. Regardless what residence her husband has, the patriarch's wife must ensure that it is a great home for the whole family; the staff assists her, of course. Both males and females sometimes learn a foreign language. It is seen as a sign of intelligence and can come in handy. Depending on where their home is located, a noble child may pick up Truz, Soz, or Trez. Most commonly they choose Trez, simply because it is a wide spread language of trade.
Sons learn how to tend to matters of the state, diplomacy, and the art of war. Statesmanship simply consists of how to rule over serfs, vassals (if existent), how to collect taxes, how to keep a noble family alive and well, and how to handle, acquire, and maintain noble titles. Diplomacy merely consists of how one handles negotiations, conducts trade, defends themselves against accusations, and how to properly accuse another. Due the sword being considered stronger than the quill, diplomacy often does not take up a large chunk of a noble son's timetable. Warfare is much more important. The son learns what his duties are to his superior in times of war, how to raise a levy, how to lead it into battle, and also how to fight. Especially being able to fight is critical to the Gren. A noble man who is not able to properly use a weapon to kill a warrior is no man at all in the eyes of the Gren. Noble men must be able to defend their people and more importantly themselves. The sons of knights are drilled and trained especially hard.
For both sexes the teachings continue until the age of sixteen, at which they are considered adults. Sons are now considered men that will fight for their family, are able to inherit and hold titles, and rule their own pieces of land. It is a common practice to grant villages or minor titles of the family's patriarch to the sons so they can practice statesmanship, so they are ready to rule the family's largest titles once the patriarch dies. The noble daughters have become women that can care for their husband, tend to his every need, and also organize a noble's residence without a problem. These are the ideal cases anyway. Women are now also expected to marry soon, growing the family's influence and strengthening its ties to another noble family. Sons do not have to marry right away; they are supposed to wait until the right woman comes along, one that will take good care of her husband and his home.
During their adulthood, nobles are very unlikely to ever worry about having enough food and usually live in wealth. However, the life of a male noble is much more complex than that of a simple peasant. Titles, more so the land attached to them, and prestige are the two largest aspects of a noble's life. The men spend many hours of their life taking care of their land. It has to be kept secure, healthy, and safe from external threats - these include other nobles. In order to relax they hunt, for sport, as well as fight in tournaments to show off their skills. A lot of prestige can be earned with a successful hunt a victorious duel. Having prestige means being known, which in turn means being considered when titles are handed out. It is also easier to gain support for rebellions and coups when one is well known. Women have less to worry about, unless they happen to be part of politics for one reason of another. They just tend to their husband and his home, advice him to the best of their ability, and try to keep him safe. Vigilant wives, who are popular enough with the servants to use them as extension of their senses, are great at preventing assassinations, but also at gathering intelligence on guests.
In most cases nobles do not retire. They continue their duties until they die. In a few rare cases a noble man may become unfit to do his duties, either because due their advanced age, a disease, or an injury. Then he's usually still the official title holder, but his wife, siblings, or sons take over his duties until he dies. Upon their death, a noble person hands down all their titles to their heir. In most cases, the heir is simply the oldest son. The next common alternative is handing each son a bit of the land, effectively splitting the titles up between the male offspring. Titleholders can freely choose who is their heir and who receives what.
Most commonly nobles die in their bed, either due to old age or a disease, after a relatively long, fulfilled life. Especially women rarely die away from their bed, given how they spend most of their time in their husband's residence. Unfortunately, plenty of women do die during birth. During times of war, men commonly die on the field of honor. This is one of the most prestigious deaths, unless the noble fell against a ridiculous foe.
Once the eggs of commoners are laid, they are wrapped up in blankets and placed in a nest made out of fur, hide, and hay. The mother is the main care taker of the child, assisted by her own, old mother, and her older offspring, if present. Some wealthier commoners, like merchants or landowners, also have maids to help the mother. While tending to the eggs, the mother might still have to take care of chores now and then, if they can't be handled by one of her children or her own parents. If that's the case, then a relative takes over watching the eggs until the mother is available again.
When it hatches, the partner is quickly informed so that he can be present when his offspring enters the world. Common men are rarely far from home, so they usually are around to witness the hatching. The freshly hatched Trezlin is kept safe and warm by his mother and her relatives. The next day the infant is already able and permitted to crawl around within the parent's home, which rarely is larger than one room, but is alway kept under supervision! For a few weeks, primarily the family is contact with the child(ren). After a few weeks, the mother carries her offspring around the community so it can get to know the neighbors.
Until the age of five the children are tended to by their mother and her helpers. Within that time they learn how to walk and speak somewhat properly, if with only basic vocabulary. Establishing ties to their family and friends of the family is the most important aspect of this phase. They are also shown how the life of a commoner works and are prepared to help their mother around the house later on. Yet they do not have to a lot, after all they are still very young.
Once the children are five years old, they have to help out around the house at first. They also learn simple matters, such as the Gren way of life, what animal is called what, how to treat the animals, the seasons, and so on and so forth. However, children of commoners usually do not learn how to read and write. Only very wealthy commoners teach or have others teach those skills to their children, so that they may work as scribes later. Even now the mother is the primary caretaker of both sexes; the men are too busy working the fields or doing their profession.
At ten years of age the children have to start properly helping on the family's farm or in the family's shop. Children of peasants just start working on the farm, learn how to tend to crops, take care of animals, and how to maintain the family's house. They also learn how to create a few items, such as tools or how to weave clothes. However, only the children of crafters will learn a proper trade, which will usually grant them a better life than that of a peasant. A few peasants who have good relations with a crafter might get them to teach their own children their trade, too. Often this requires the child to move to a town or city and live under the care of his mentor.
Up until the age of twelve there are not many differences between what the daughters and sons do, with the sole exception that the daughters do not learn any hard trades (smithing, carpentry, etc) or how to build a house. Instead they learn how to take care of the house and the people inside it. The sons simply focus on physical labor (working the farm, cutting lumber) or learning a trade. However, the sons learn two new skills once they become twelve: How to fight and how to hunt. Especially the first is an important skill. Every men needs to know how to work with a spear and shield, so that he can defend his family, homestead, and community.
When they reach the age of sixteen, the children are considered adults. That doesn't really change much about their life. Children of peasants just continue to work for a living, do what has to be done to keep the house maintained and feed the family. Those lucky enough to have been taught a trade are usually done with that by now. They help their mentor in his own shop until they have acquired enough experience to open up their own or until their mentor dies and they can just take over his shop. Adults also have to pay their taxes and fulfill the duties tied to their serfdom.
Commoners do not care much about prestige or renown. They just want to be known as good, reliable people, and establish themselves as such in their community. Feasts, communal meetings, joint hunts, and similar occasions are the best way to become known among the community. Reputation is more important for those who chose the path of a professional warrior, mercenary, or even beastslayer. Then they will certainly try to do their best to acquire renown and be known as good at what they do, and likely also try to become free from any ties. A few crafters, those who truly excel at their trade, may also try to become known so they can offer their services to wealthy customers across the whole nation.
Working until frailty or death is the norm for commoners. Elders are respected, but are only going to be well off if they have a lot of relatives, especially children. Pensions or welfare in general is a foreign concept, so old folk have to rely on their offspring to take care of them when they can't take care of themselves anymore. When death comes, then usually in the form of disease or old age, meaning the dying Gren will lie on their deathbed, surrounded by their family. In times of war, men die on the battlefield, women die in raids or from starvation, because not enough people tend to the farms.
The life timeline of a free man or woman is not really defined. It heavily depends on who their parents are. If their parents are landowning free people, then their life pretty much has the same course as that of a commoner. The only differences are that they likely live in a wealthier fashion and do not have any duties they must fulfill beyond paying taxes. However, if their parents have no home, likely because they are traveling merchants, mercenaries, or beastslayers, then their lives can become rather wild.
Traveling merchants, thanks to their wealth, are usually able to grant their wife and offspring good lives. They learn how to haggle, how to plan routes, and how to behave well. Many traders also teach their children how to read, write, and even speak another language. While the child will never be able to form tight social bonds within a single community, it will have many acquaintances across the whole Kingdom, perhaps even across more than that! It will also have a stressful life, rushing from place to place to make the best deals and worry about being robbed on the way. However, if they do their job well, then traveling merchants can live quite the happy, financially-stable life.
Mercenaries are quite similar to the traveling merchants, just that their children have to live with a high risk of losing their father or even their mother, if she happens to be the mercenary. Usually mercenaries don't have families; at most they have a one-night stand with whoever is willing. The children that are produced by these endeavors end up as orphans, often in the care of druids or more rarely beastslayers, or are raised by a mother who doesn't know what to do with them. Beastslayers are not much different in that regard, unless they are actually willing to raise the child. Some beastslayers are even willing to adopt children to teach them the art of slaying beasts. After all, despite being such a brave people, not every Gren wants to face beasts in their lifetime. So orphans are a good source of recruits for the beastslayer guild. Few beastslayers ever settle down to have a family, unless they get too old to slay beasts. A rare occurrence, beastslayers usually die far before they are old enough to retire.
The religion of the Gren focuses around one primary deity, but various minor deities, saints, and sacred heroes exist alongside the primary god. Said god is Yggorum - the Great Creator. His symbol is a strong, healthy oak. While all Gren believe in Yggorum, not all Gren believe in the same minor deities. The minor deities are often just local heroes or saints that have been raised to godhood by the Gren. It is thus that the believes of one Gren can greatly vary to the believes of the next one, the only common ground is the faith in Yggorum. Not nearly all minor deities are mentioned here, but the most popular ones are detailed at the end of the Religion section. (You could even make up your own minor deity!)
Being so open to local faiths is what enabled the belief in Yggorum to spread so easily across the western hemisphere and throughout the Gren Kingdom. The Suwehbens were the original followers of Yggorum and wherever their armies marched, his druids followed to convert the population. However, they didn't just force their faith onto them, instead they looked for similarities between the faith of the locals and their own. If they met a people who believed in some form of primary god, the druids simply claimed that this god was Yggorum. In other words: They simply stated that both believe in the same deity, just praise them in different ways. When the druids came across polytheistic societies, then they either convinced them it was just one deity or they adopted the pantheon as local minor deities. Their tolerance didn't and doesn't only include Trezlin. Gren believe all life has been created by Yggorum, so they allow all lin and even Wolshaks to follow their faith. This tolerant behavior towards the culture and religion of the newly annexed or vassalized people took away some potential for tension and strife.
Now comes the origin story of the Gren people. According to their religion, lin once lived in a great world that was basically like paradise, which was made by Yggorum. Yggorum also had the stature of a lin, but was far stronger and greater than any ordinary lin could be. Unfortunately, Yggorum was not the only powerful being on the divine plane. A kul existed, too, an evil one. He was jealous of the paradise which Yggorum had made, so he made the ground fruitless with his acidic spit, poisoned the seas with a drop of his venom and charred it all afterwards with his fiery breath. Only the underground was safe for the followers of Yggorum, but only few managed to hide there when Armageddon was brought by the evil kul, named Yggrax - the Great Destroyer.
Enraged, Yggorum fought Yggrax. After a year-lasting fight, Yggorum finally managed to slay the beast. Unfortunately, he was weakened by the fight, too weak to just create another paradise from nothing. Instead he used Yggrax's corpse to create Threa. The bones formed mountains and the solid ground of the world, while the blood formed seas and the flesh became dirt for plants to grow roots in. The wing membrane was spread apart far above the ground, thus forming the sky. The very first forms of live Yggorum created were trees. They hold the world together with their roots and some are even divine, connect the divine plane to the mortal one.
Having seen that when in danger his kind, the lin, only cowardly hid, he ensured that the new world was no paradise. The lin had to work and fight hard if they wanted to survive, which was supposed to toughen them should such a dark force rise again. This is why winter, beasts, and other dangers now exist on Threa, according to the Gren. It certainly worked, the Gren are a resilient people.
Yggorum was right in forcing them to be that way, because the evil did come back. Yggrax's evil spirit possessed the remains of its former body and spawned the creatures that are nowadays known as kul to serve him as warriors, while also producing a new husk, a new body for himself to occupy. Yggorum foresaw that fighting on Threa would ruin the world he created once more, so he gathered his people to fight Yggrax. Many lin died fighting Yggrax's scaled servants, but many also survived, proving to be great warriors and hunters. When Yggorum was about to sink his spear into Yggrax's chest, the cunning kul gathered his strength and banished himself and Yggorum to the divine plane to continue the fight there, away from the lin and kul.
Without their leader, the kul turned into savage beasts and spread across the world. Meanwhile, Yggorum's warriors and hunters were at a loss. Their own god had left Threa and was now busy fighting on the divine plane. All the great warriors and hunters could do now was to ensure that their fellow lin were protected and well led. They supposedly became the first nobles; some families still claim that their bloodline began with Yggorum's first warriors. Also, according to the Gren, Yggorum is still fighting Yggrax even today. Whenever a Gren dies, he joins alongside his deity to fight Yggrax and his kul warriors. One day, enough capable slayers will have gathered at Yggorum's side, that they will finally beat Yggrax and turn the world into a paradise again.
But Yggorum did not only create Threa, he also laid out rules for the lin to live by. First of all, every lin is supposed to toil. However, toil for the Gren can either mean to work hard on the fields or to train hard for a life on the battlefields. Nobles do not work hard, of course, so they prefer to stick with the second path of toil, so that they may protect their people. Secondly, lin are also supposed to live in peace with each other. The world is dangerous enough as it is, so lin are supposed to work together. Yet Yggorum wishes for the death of scoundrels and scum. Given how often they fight and scheme, the nobility apparently ignores this rule a lot, much to the dismay of the druids. However, they tend to legitimize their actions with the third rule: Be strong, fight to protect your own and protect your land. You are nothing without family and land. Sometimes they also claim that their foe is guilty of a horrible crime and thus deserves to die.
The aforementioned druids are basically the clergy of Yggorum. They live in their own little druidic villages, which are guarded and maintained by the druids alone. Being a druid comes with a lot of responsibilities, but also a couple of benefits. Druids have to take care of the groves, make sure that the plants are well and no one accidentally cuts down a sacred tree, they also have to lead religious ceremonies, and they also gave an oath to tend to the ill. They are well versed when it comes to concoctions and potions that are supposed to alleviate diseases. Overall, druids are among the smartest people of the Gren Kingdom. They know the calendar, based on the two moons, and they all can read and write. Each generation of druids teaches the next.
Another benefit of being a druid is that they don't have to do anything beyond their duties. They don't have to work to receive food. The local population usually ensures that druids are supplied. However, the druids are not greedy and never take more than they need. They live with as little as they can, dedicate their life to their faith and not to luxury. For the farmers, the druids are a great help. The druids tell them when to sow their seed and when harvest will be best. The peasants also believe that making gifts to druids is a way to gain Yggorum's blessing.
Above the druids stand the archdruids, the eldest and wisest of them all. Each grove has one, who was elected by the other members of the druidic circle. Their duty is to ensure the grove's wellbeing and oversee the recruitment and training of new druids. An archdruid also tends to act as an advisor to the local lord, not only in religious matters. An archdruid's experience is simply valuable and their educated advise is sought after. Sometimes they base their advise on interpretations of the positions of the stars or similar omens. Druids in general like to read the signs nature gives them. Even in war this can be very helpful. It motivates the warriors knowing that the liver of a sacrificed chicken was clear and untainted, if the druid exclaims that this is a good omen.
The groves are simply sacred clearings within forests. They are usually surrounded by tall trees, which the druids take care of, and have a holy tree, usually an oak, as well as an altar in their center. Depending on the region, they might also have a few alters or other religious structures in them that are dedicated to local heroes or minor deities. However, they never build large buildings into the groves. At most they build a small, open house. Groves are the spiritual locations for the Gren, because the most natural way to praise Yggorum is to praise him among the trees he created. The Gren believe the holy trees have a special connection to the divine plane, so Yggorum can hear prayers uttered around them more clearly and louder.
Praising Yggorum is usually done via religious ceremonies within the groves the first day of every week. The druids gather the populace and have them chant praise and present sacrifices as part of the ceremony. The chanting is done while kneeling and bowing until the face touches the earth, submitting to Yggorum's might. Gren would never bow to nobles in such a fashion, because only their strongest god is worthy of such devotion and submission. Sacrifices are brought to the alter. Sacrifices like lambs, chickens, fruits, wine, and so on and so forth are used up by the druids or used in religious feasts. However, the best sort of sacrifice is the heart of a beast or kul. Beastslayers always sacrifice the hearts, believing that Yggorum will protect and guide them on their next hunt. Naturally the heart of a kul is the best sacrifice. Sacrifices like hearts and other organic matter with religious value is buried in the ground, somewhere in the grove. It will feed Yggorum's forest.
To become a druid one simply has to join their circle at a young age. Recruits are usually between fourteen and sixteen years old. People older than eighteen are not accepted. Becoming a druid takes time after all, and the elders want to make sure they can still use the freshly trained druids for a few decades before they grow old and die. Once the archdruid approved of a potential recruit, he or she becomes a druid acolyte. Acolytes have to follow their mentor around for ten years and learn everything from them that they need to know. After those ten years, they are made proper druids by their local druidic circle in a sacred ritual, which the archdruid conducts.
Druids have no dress code per se, but they prefer to wear robes, which they decorate with flowers, twigs, and other natural objects. They believe this helps them be in tune with nature and understand Yggorum's signs better. Jewelry made out of plant fibers and pretty rocks, such as crystals found in caves, are also often worn by them. Each piece of jewelry usually carries a religious meaning, often indicated by a pendant attached to it. In fact, all druids of Yggorum carry an carved image of a strong oak with them. It is either attached to a necklace or a wristband.
Ajadia is the goddess of fertility. The faith in her originates from the Gren living in and around the Ironhead Flatlands. According to the stories of the druids and the Daughters of Ajadia, who are basically her priests. Yggorum left behind a woman of extraordinary fertility, a deity in her own right, to oversee that his creation will flourish and reproduce. She bestows fertility upon those who praise her, the Gren believe. She's likely the most popular minor deity in the Gren Kingdom, because she's worshiped everywhere, from Dukedom Suwehb in the north all the way down to Dukedom Thvijhom in the southeast and Dukedom Vandell in the southwest.
As mentioned previously, the daughters of Ajadia are her priests. However, they do not conduct great ceremonies or rituals. They basically sacred midwives. They assist women who want to give birth and will also gladly help couples receive Ajadia's blessing by executing small rituals with them. Daughters of Ajadia are also well versed when it comes to what plant can enhance fertility or heal reproduction-related diseases.
If one wishes to worship Ajadia, then they do so at an altar at home. These altars are usually just low wooden tables with the statue on top, which can be made out of any material available. The statue displays an egg with a few cracks in its shell, which is Ajadia's symbol. Usually people who are about to lay or are about to try for children with their partner praise Ajadia in the hopes of receiving her blessing. They burn sacrifices in a small bowl for her or sing religious songs. If asked, a daughter of Ajadia may assist in these ceremonies Supposedly Ajadia's blessing doesn't only grant fertility, but also makes it less likely that a female dies while laying eggs or that the eggs are dead.
To become a daughter of Ajadia is a simple matter. One just has to be female and willing to become a midwife. There's no official way to become one. There isn't even an official organization. All Gren midwives who believe in Ajadia simply consider themselves her daughters. Of course experienced daughters are needed to teach the new one. Once she considers the teaching of her student complete, the experienced daughter will declare to the locals that her student can now be considered a proper midwife.
Varhal actually lived. He was a Trezlin that lived between 5 ar and 44 ar. But he wasn't just any Trezlin; he was a legendary kulslayer and the first king of the Suwehbens. He also expanded the Suwehbish Kingdom a lot. More details can be found in the History section. Due to his grand feats and achievements, many Suwehbens believe him to have been chosen by Yggorum himself. He is a folk hero and demigod at the same time, practically the saint of kul slaying. The members of the royal Scalecutter family, descendants of Varhal, use this to legitimate their noble blood and privileges. Outside of Suwehb, only beastslayers tend to praise Varhal.
There are no priests dedicated to Varhal. In fact, there aren't even religious buildings, altars, or similar. After all, there are no weekly ceremonies in his name or similar rituals. Only when the Suwehbens require his blessing, either for a war or a dangerous hunt, do they pray to him. Non-Suwehbish beastslayers also commonly worship Varhal to receive his guidance when they hunt, but they also often call onto Svik, who is actually the Vandellarian god of the hunt. Almost all Vandellarians refuse to praise Varhal, simply because they dislike the Suwehbens.
To receive Varhal's blessing, hunters usually sacrifice a beast or a part of it at least. Sacrificing it is done by burying it in a hole in the ground in front of a little wooden statue of Varhal. Slayers often carry one around, sometimes even as a totem that's attached to a necklace or wristband. The logic behind this is rather simple. By slaying a war and sacrificing its heart, the slayer proves that he's able to kill a beast. Now that he has proven himself to Varhal, he promises o the demigod that he will slay a great beast, or even a kul, and sacrifice its heart to Varhal. In return for the promise, Varhal offers his guidance, the Gren believe. However, if the slayer fails, he will have to beg for forgiveness or never have fortune on a hunt again.
As stated, tiny statues of Varhal commonly serve as mobile altars to worship him and make sacrifices to him, but there's also bigger statues. The biggest statue of the legendary kulslayer stands in the center of Northorn, the capital city of the Gren Kingdom. Sometimes one can see groups of slayers kneel in front of it, burying sacrifices in the earth mound it has been built on. Supposedly fewiggs have noticed this and occasionally come at night to dig the organs out and eat them. The Gren do not mind this; they even see it as Varhal accepting the sacrifice, because one of Yggorum's creations approved of it.
Svik is the god of the hunt and ambush. He originates from the Dukedom Vandell. The Vandellarians, people who turned hunting into their nature out of necessity, worship him with as much fervor as Yggorum. Some even with more fervor. According to the archdruids, Yggorum created Svik to teach the remaining Trezlin how to hunt properly, so that the Gren that join him after death are capable stalkers and able to even put down a beast as deadly as Yggrax.
Supposedly, Svik still walks on Threa even today. He can change his shape, transform himself into any predator he desires. He's essentially a divine, predatory spirit that taught the lin how to hunt. Some even claim that a few of the beasts that roam Threa and kill lin are directly controlled by Svik. By giving the Gren a reason to seek vengeance on beasts, Svik tries to urge them to hunt so their skills do not rust. Due to also being the god of ambush, Svik is often seen as a cunning, sometimes even treacherous god. To Svik survival is more important honor, an opinion many Vandellarians share.
For worshipers of Svik, it is important to treat fellow hunters with respect, even if the hunters are beasts. Svik is a beast himself, after all. This doesn't mean Vandellarian hunters shouldn't kill animals, just that they shouldn't torture them. They should end them as quick as they can, display skill while they do, but yet not refrain from ambush and traps. The traps can even be brutal, as long as they are not unnecessarily so. Svik disapproves of pain, even if he approves of death, if only to feed one's self or to protect one's own.
Like Varhal, Svik has no proper priests or large religious structures. His followers usually only erect altars in his name, which they place either within their community or in the local grove. The druids don't mind that at all. The altars can be made out of whatever material is available to the builders and doesn't require a certain shape. All a proper altar requires is that runes praising Svik are edged into the top and that his symbol is placed on it. Svik's symbol can have many shapes, but most commonly it takes the form of a canine predator, warg, or even avog. It has to be some form of predator and carry Svik's name in Gren runes on its forehead.
One can praise Svik by chanting songs of the hunt, quietly, in front of his altar. Either alone or together with other followers of Svik. Only hunters and slayers pray to Svik and only when they are about to hunt. They ask him for his guidance and protection, hoping that this will ensure that the wilderness doesn't claim their lives like it has claimed so many before. In return they promise to burn a part of the body, sending it up the warriors that fight alongside Yggorum against Yggrax, thus ensuring that Svik's work on Threa benefits the divine fight of good against evil.
The last and least in this list is Yggrax, the one who corroded the land, poisoned the seas, and scorched the world - the Great Destroyer. While all Gren believe in him, seeing him as the evil counterpart to Yggorum, only very, very few worship him. Those few who do live in secret, and usually originate from the southern and southeastern fringes of the Gren Kingdom, where many Driveks live. Drivek is the Gren word for Rizlin/Trezlin hybrids. They are especially common in the Dukedom Thvijhom. The fact that many worshipers of Yggrax are Driveks has created prejudice against them, so non-Drivek treat them with suspicion.
Those who worship Yggrax, named yggraxans, believe that kul are the superior species. After all, it takes many lin to kill a kul, but only one kul to kill many lin. It is clear to the yggraxans, that it is the forces of evil who will win the battle on the divine plane, no matter how many proud Gren warriors assist Yggorum. Only those who praise Yggrax will be spared when Armageddon comes to Threa a second time; the rest will die a painful death as the world is ruined by Yggrax's acid, venom, and fire.
However, they do not only praise Yggrax, but also his creations. Communities full of yggraxans will gladly accept kul in their middle, hoping that they can get closer to Yggrax and hopefully be spared his wrath by befriending kul. They care for the kul, try to fulfill their every wish, but in turn do demand the kul to protect them. However, they don't just befriend any kul, only those who claim to be one of Yggrax's agents. The yggraxans believe that not all kul are aware of their role in the world. Kul who display hostile behavior towards the yggraxans are also driven away or even killed if need be.
Communities which worship Yggrax usually feature a large altar. These altars are made out of thick stone slabs and blackened by soot. Some also feature a figurine on top that displays some form of kul, usually a Trezkul with an oversized maw and an abnormally high amount of horns and teeth. Priests of Yggrax do not exist. The oldest male of an yggraxan community leads the rituals and ceremonies. It is an honorable duty.
To worship Yggrax, his followers either offer gifts of food and their time in the form of work to a kul they befriended, or they simply sacrifice things to him in a large fire. Often they sacrifice young animals. They kill them first, then burn their corpse. In their minds, the burnt body will rise up and feed Yggrax and his scaled war beasts. Most do not expect to receive Yggrax's blessing, merely his mercy. They just want to be spared. A few do believe they will or have been granted great powers by Yggrax. These people may try to curse their foes with rituals or hex them. Gren are superstitious enough to immediately seek the help of a druid after they've been cursed by a shaman of Yggrax.
Of course the best way to appease the great destroyer is by causing death and destruction, so some yggraxans become looters and murderers. They take what they want from Yggorum's followers, then burn them, either dead or alive, to sacrifice them to Yggrax. This makes the yggraxans not only an amoral minority but also an actual threat in the eyes of Yggorum's followers, so they kill yggraxans were possible and destroy their communities.
The holidays of the Gren tend to revolve around either the nation or the religion. Especially the latter brings a lot of holidays and thus free time with it. The most important holidays are mentioned here, but there's many more than that. Many of these special days are about local heroes, deities, historic events, and similar matters. The Gren also celebrate the healthy hatching of children or special hunts. Overall, the Gren can be rather festive. Most of their feasts and parties involve their entire village or town; this strengthens the social bonds within the community.
When the Gren celebrate, drinks and music need to be there. The former helps the Gren slide off the chains on their mood that the daily worries put on it, the latter then raises the mood and inspires them to dance and cheer. Food is optional, but often served to ensure the people have the energy to celebrate. Thanks to the Gren Kingdom being rich with game, even the commoners can indulge in eating meat during feasts and even outside of celebrations. When nobles celebrate, it gets about as loud and rowdy as when the commoners celebrate. The highborn are not stuck up people who try to celebrate with grace while trying to keep a stiff upper lip. They cheer, down ale, and put on a dance.
There's a special game some Gren, especially nobles and those who busy themselves with war and hunting, love to play. They play it even outside of celebrations, whenever they have some time to kill. The game is called Sruse. It is a card game which is based on deception and wit. Traditional sets of this game are created using kul scales; this is because it was the kulslayers who invented this game to kill time when they had to lay low in a hiding spot.
If a man and woman want to have a family together, they marry in the presence of druids as witnesses. Marriage is an invention of the nobility. They originally created the concept to make tracking bloodlines and thus rights to titles much easier to keep track of. When a noble man marries a woman, no matter if she's noble or not, she becomes part of his family unless the families agreed to have it be the other way around. When a noble woman marries a common man, then he becomes part of the noble family automatically. This lowered conflict among nobles by making couples official and sanctified by the druids.
Involving the druids in this originally political matter gave marriage a religious undertone. This undertone managed to become a primary aspect of marriage, which has led to it becoming common among even the lowborn. It is a way to show "We belong to each other!" and supposedly marriage comes with the blessing of Yggorum for the couple and Ajadia for their children. Due to this, it has become standard to marry when a couple wants to live and be together, even if it isn't required by law to marry to have children or even be together. However, some see it is as amoral.
The marital ceremonies are usually conducted by druids and within their groves. Usually the whole community and family is invited to this occasion. How the ceremony exactly goes can vary from place to place, simply due to local traditions, but there's always a basic scheme behind it: The very first thing the gathered audience does is praise Yggorum. They thank him for living, for what they have, and for the fact that the people who are to be wed met each other. Afterwards one of the druid holds a short speech, speaks a bit about the people, their role in the community. If they are nobles, the druids mentions their titles. Then the man gets to hold a short speech and afterwards the woman. Now the druids ask them if they really want to wed, then he announces them husband and wife. Afterwards a daughter of Ajadia will go through a fertility ritual with them, so that they already have her blessing for when they want to try and produce offspring.
Once the marriage ceremony is over, the feast can begin. To both feast and ceremony the whole community is invited, but the couple doesn't have to take care of their needs on their own. The opposite is the case; the community takes care of them. Everyone who can spare something throws together what they can to create a proper feast with food and drink. However, since this can be a bit taxing, communities try to conduct and celebrate all marriages of the year on the same day, usually in Fall. The local nobility also likes to gift the couple a few bottles of whine, a roast, or similar things. It increases the nobles' popularity.
Marriage is also seen as a bond that isn't supposed be broken. If either of the two breaks it, they are looked down upon. People who break marriages have no decency and no respect for tradition, in the eyes of the Gren. A broken marriage also means the social status of the person is reverted back to what it once was and they lose claims on whatever titles they were able to claim due to their partner. The bond is also supposed to produce children. Not having children is seen as a disgrace, as it risks the future of the Gren and would go against the wish of Yggorum that his people thrive and become plentiful.
Whenever someone dies, their family, friends, or, if neither group exists, whoever finds them brings them to next grove. Then the corpse is taken care of by the druids. After letting relatives and friends say their farewells, the druids bury the body somewhere in the grove. They do this in secret. No one but other druids and perhaps the priests of other minor deities are permitted to be around for it. Once someone died, they are not supposed to be remembered by their grave, but by the memories they left behind. Commoners keep track of their relatives by telling tales about them or storing a special item of theirs in a dedicated box. Noble families often have tapestries woven and continued. They hang them up in their homes and use to keep track of their bloodline and remember those who died and their tales.
Burning a corpse is seen as a vile act; it destroys the body of the deceased and extinguishes their souls. It is a treatment only criminal scum receives. Even an enemy, as long as he's honorable, is buried in the ground. It doesn't even matter if they believe in Yggorum or not. The druids refuse to burn corpses, but they do permit the burning of criminals. They even have to give their permission, otherwise the burning is a crime in itself.
Gren do not celebrate after someone dies. They spend the day in quiet sorrow. Family exchanges affectionate warmth, making sure that no one is overcome by sadness. Widows receive a lot of care while they mourn their dead husbands, because Gren see women as softer and thus think they require more attention when their man dies. Women who recently became widows aren't asked to work, only to take care of their house and kids. But even with that relatives will gladly help, even more so than they usually do.
Any Gren who lived a honorable live will end up on the divine plane. Everyone will be permitted to dine and drink in the great halls of Yggorum's half of the plane. Those who were great warriors and hunters are even allowed to fight alongside Yggorum and Varhal against Yggrax and his kul. Amazing smiths will supply Yggorum and his armies with tools of war. Supporting Yggorum directly in his fight is the best outcome any Gren can hope for. Those who led terrible lives are devoured by Yggrax's abominations and cease to be. Supposedly, Yggorum can only save the good people, because their souls shine brightly, while evil people's soul are as dark as their deeds.
The Day of Yggorum is the only holiday all Gren celebrate, but not at the same time, too. It is celebrated roughly in the middle of Fall. The exact day varies from community to community, because it is the local druidic circle that determines when it happens. Food stocks from what has been harvested in summer can now be combined with the fresh fall harvest. Food is plentiful. In fact, the Gren Kingdom is so fertile, that food will be so plentiful at this point that they will have to eat more than usual or they risk having to throw something away. Nobles will even open their stockpiles. It is a great time to get rid of low quality beer and wine to make space for the good stuff.
As implied, the celebrations revolve around a large feast, which lasts from the morning well into the night. The whole community takes part in this. The Gren eat out on the streets, moving furniture wherever it is needed or they simply sit on the ground. Dance and music is also a part of it. The marketplace becomes vivid with men and women dancing to the sound of drums, flutes, and more. Colorful clothes are worn, if available, adding to the colors fall paints the canopies and bushes with. Color pieces of cloth on ropes are also hung across streets and on walls, to attempt to make the community prettier.
Since the celebration also has a religious component, they are thanking Yggorum for the plentiful harvests and their good lives, the druids demand that the people kneel and pray together before they start eating and drinking. However, they do not have to go into the grove to do that. The druids come into the villages and towns and hold a large ceremony in the village's plaza or the town's marketplace. For many druids it is the only time they enter these large communities. Usually they only do it to help the ill or wounded, and only if they can't come to the nearby grove themselves.
Despite living in a rather civilized society, the symbolism of the Gren revolves primarily around nature. Depictions of animals and plants are commonly used to decorate houses, weapons, clothes, and more. The reason for this is their connection to it through their religion. Many minor deities are presented by animals and plants, or at least affiliated with them. Yggorum himself is often symbolized with a tree, not because the Gren believe that he is one but simply because they were his first creation. The tree isn't just any tree, it is usually exceptionally lush, displayed as being rather tall, and it is always a mighty oak.
What the other symbols mean can vary wildly from region to region. In Vandell, an image of a wolf commonly represents Svik, thus trickery and ambush, while in Suwehb the image of a wolf stands only for hunting, usually in a group. Eggs represent Ajadia and fertility in general, but as do spring flowers in some region, because spring stands for life and birth. Winter always stands for death, but not unnecessary death. After all, winter has been created by Yggorum to toughen the Gren, not to punish them. A society that doesn't manage to get their people through winter is a weak one.
What symbols are even used commonly in a given region depends on its local flora, fauna, and nobility. Nearby the Ironhead Flatlands, depictions of ironheads are logically more common than anywhere else, especially because it is commonly used as an emblem by the nearby noble families. An example is the Blackwood family of the Blackwood Barony, which is located in the dense woods bordering the Ironhead Flatlands in the northeast, nearby the river. It uses a stylized ironhead rearing up on its hindlegs as an emblem. Overall, the Gren prefer a mix of stylization and close-to-life depiction. They make it as real as possible, while still keeping a noticeable degree of stylization. Proof of this is that they primarily use side views and head-on views of creatures. Other perspectives are practically unheard of; perspective just isn't commonly used in art.
However, nature isn't the only object of interest for Gren art and symbolism. They often combine images of nature with images of weapons, armor, or other objects that stem from civilization. Such combination are extremely common as heraldic emblems for noble families. These emblems tend to be heavily stylized, to make them much easier to copy. The Scalecutters' emblem shows a Trezkul rearing up on its hindlegs, while being impaled through the chest by a spear. Obviously a homage to Varhal, who their lineage supposedly traces back to. Sometimes the Gren also use images of civilization on their own, without combining them with nature. It is an easy way to mark stores. An anvil and a hammer clearly stand for a smithy!
When it comes to ornamental patterns, the Gren prefer curvy over straight lines, especially if they are woven together. The pattern can even become chaotic, the Gren find that chaotic patterns seem more natural, because nature has no apparent, inherit order. It takes a lot of skill for a craftsman to create such a pattern by engraving it into wood or working it into metal, which is exactly why the Gren appreciate this pattern so much. It looks good and displays great ability. One has to keep in mind that the Gren are a rather simple people and have a rather simple culture, so their art overall remains simple as well. Most art and forms of decoration are only available to nobles and other rich people.
One of the reasons for this is that only few Gren possess creative skills at all. Most artists in the Gren Kingdom are craftsman who have perfected their trade and are thus capable of working intricate imagery and decorations into commissioned products, primarily by engraving them or shaping metal. This is also the most common form of art, because it lasts so long. The Gren like things that last and they can hand to their heirs. Some swords have seen more wars and changes in leadership than any Gren.
Painting and sculpting are both rather rare skills. The latter is more common than the former; a few statues exist in the Gren Kingdom after all, like the gigantic statue of Varhal in Northorn. While dyes are used to add some color to cloth or to improve the looks of figurines, charms, ceramics, pendants and even buildings, there's few who use it to create paintings. A lack of specialized tools, proper canvas, and the cost of the more vivid dyes are to blame. Master weavers can use dye to work patterns and symbols into cloth. Nobles often hire them to make clothes, for example surcoats. The richer a noble is, the better and prettier the surcoat is. Most basic surcoats only feature the colors of the family. Poor nobles even lack one altogether.
The literacy rate in the Gren Kingdom is extremely low, so its list of authors isn't very long either. A few nobles may collect books as a passion; their libraries are the only ones that exist within the Western Kingdom. Primarily the Gren write about legends, their gods, and history, but they like to exaggerate no matter what they write about. One exception to this is the explorer and author Tavra Shockclaw. She has written many books about her adventures, Threa's flora and fauna, and especially about kul. Her novels have been sold nation wide and now lie in the collections of various nobles and even kulslayers.
At least the art of using one's voice to entertain and tell stories is widespread, thanks to the skalds. They tell stories, either as prose or in the form of poems. Sometimes they accompany their stories with music. Common instruments for these occasions are the musical bow or various versions of the flute. Drums and other loud instruments that are well suited to create a rhythm are used for large celebrations, when a whole village wants to dance. Gren dances either involve a whole group of people or focus on couples. While singing is used by skalds to tell a tale, it is also very popular to sing together as a group during feasts, on marches, or during religious ceremonies. To sum it up, for every Gren a good celebration requires music and dance just as it requires ale and food. This is true for commoners and nobles alike.
When it comes to clothing, wealth becomes a large factor again. A poor lifestyle combined with little care for being cultured leads to rather simplistic fashion for commoners. There are cheap dyes, so even commoners could have colorful clothes, but few see the appeal. Clothes are meant to be practical and hide naked skin; it is seen as weird and indecent to not wear clothes. Women wear pants, just like men. Dresses and skirts simply do not exist; the closest to them are the robes of the druids. Leather, linen, and wool are used to make clothing. Hemp is only used for sacks and ropes. Most commoners just wear a tunic and pants. On colder days they add a wool vest or some form of coat, and substitute the thin pants for ones that are lined with wool to keep their legs warm.
Precious metals are too expensive for commoners, so if they wear jewelry then it is usually made out of dyed, woven cloth and might display pretty rocks they found in the wilds. Flowers are also a great way to decorate clothes, even for males. Some even carry a meaning. For example, if a Gren has a red flower attached to their clothes close to their chest, they are looking for a partner. This is one of the best ways to get to know other singles during festivals. Of course this practice is only engaged in by commoners; nobles see it is a terrible practice. Marriage is also a political matter to them after all.
Speaking of nobles, though their clothing is always of high quality, it isn't terribly fancy either. They never wear anything that is impractical. Some ornate their coats or armor with golden strings or plates, but actual jewelry is rather rare and mostly favored by women. Trophies like furs of large predators or the teeth of a kul inlaid in metal arm guards are more popular among males. Nobles wear their best clothes when they meet other members of nobility, for example at a feast, simply to display their own wealth. A pretty sword decorated with engravings can be as much of an eye catcher as a coat with gold strings woven into it.
Feasts have been mentioned plenty of times, so now it is time to speak about what the Gren actually eat. As a nation with a well developed agriculture, the Gren mainly enjoy the fruits they sow. Barley, wheat, oats, and potatoes are the primary suppliers of calories for commoners and nobles alike. The grains are used to bake bread or make gruel. Potatoes are often boiled or baked whole over a fire. Vegetables, like cabbage, and fruits, like apples and pears, add the necessary vitamins and minerals to their diet. Hunting is not a privilege of the nobility, so meat is available to commoners, as long as they are willing to brave the wilderness or have the money to buy it from a hunter. There's less risk attached to fishing, so most prefer seafood as a source of protein. Cooking is the business of women and they usually only cook for their own family. Only for large celebrations that involve the whole village or town do the Gren cook together. Overall, the skills of housewives varies from basic to mediocre.
The truly skilled cooks work in the kitchens of mansions and keeps. They prepare meals for the wealthy elite and, if they are granted a high budget by their employer, can create quite delicious meals. With enough money, an experienced cook who knows the right merchants can even buy spices from the Starless Jungle and thus create dishes with a rather exotic taste. However, this is very rare. Gren prefer traditional meals over exotic experiences. For most one of the greatest meals is a boar that had the local herbs rubbed into its skin and was then roasted whole over a fire for a few hours. The crust is the best part. Add some potatoes, which have been fried in the pig's fat, and boiled red cabbage with apples pieces in it, and you've a meal any Gren will drool over. All in all, the Gren prefer and have a simple but tasty cuisine.
But when it comes to alcoholic drinks, then Gren suddenly turn into stern experts who would loudly argue, likely while being drunk, which beer, ale, or lager is the best. Water, no matter how clear, always carries a risk of disease, so the Gren prefer to drink beer all day. It has a low alcohol content so it doesn't impair the Gren in their ability to work or even fight. Only when they want to celebrate do they use the stronger beers and even spirits. The latter isn't that common, because the Gren simply prefer to get drunk slowly, so they can enjoy themselves for longer. The stronger beers, ales, and so on are also usually of a very high quality, because Gren brewers love their profession so much, they can genuinely call it their passion. Every region tends to have its own brewery and every brewery claims to be the best. To the locals this is often true, unless the brewmaster really has no idea what he's doing. The list of brews is very long, but the most popular choices that are known nationwide are Thirpofian Brew and Suwehbish Lager. Some wealthy folk even made it a hobby to collect the different beers, just how people in the Sokan Empire collect wines in their cellars.
The language of the people west of Threa's Spine is called Gren. It is a guttural language that might sound a bit harsh in the ears of foreigners. It fits the hardy Gren well, even if it might make them sound harsher than they actually are. That multiple consonants stand behind each other is rather common. There's about as many Gren dialects as there are Gren peoples, if not more. Two Gren, who come from different corners of the realm, are likely to have trouble understanding each other. It can take a bit for them to get used to each other's dialects, but it is not nearly as hard as having to learn another language.
Gren and Trez are closely related languages, but not close enough to allow Gren speakers to understand Trez or vice versa. It does make Trez rather easy to learn for speakers of Gren and vice versa. It is no surprise thus that Trez is the most commonly learned secondary language in the Gren Kingdom. However, that doesn't mean it is well known, just that of the few Gren who do know a second language most know Trez. The second most commonly spoken secondary language is Soz, the third is Wolsh.
Over the years, the Gren people also invented their own written language. Their script consists of a bunch of runes, each representing a single letter. Multiple runes together form a syllable and multiple syllables a word. There are a few special runes that stand for certain concepts or people, like Yggorum, Yggrax, king, or war. The runes include primarily straight lines, but a few curves can be found as well. However, not all runes stand for a letter.
Gren phrases find their foundations in their believes in Yggorum and other minor deities, the wild beasts they are continuously threatened by, and the internal tension. The term 'Yggorum' commonly replaces 'God' in many saying, examples: "By Yggorum!", "By the love of Yggorum.." That last one is also sometimes used using Ajadia's name instead. Common phrases are: "Tjo pjost!" (Cheers! More literally "For our wellbeing!"); "Hurts like a warg tusk." (This pains the person greatly, either figuratively or literally); "Stubborn like an ironhead!" (Simply calling someone stubborn); "Witty like Svik." (similar comparisons are quite common); "Even a kul's hide can be pierced!" (Making a difficult task sound like less difficult); "If you feed one fewigg, two will return the next day." (One has to be careful with charity).
Commoners only have a first name, but may note their father or their location of birth behind it to make it clearer who they are. A good example would be "Herrolf Ralfson" or "Herrolf from Igvarstead". Nobles have a first and a family name. These family names are often references to places or heroic deeds of past family members. When a noble's surname refers to his family's place of origin, then it uses the word "of" instead of from; example: "Duke Fabon of Thirpofen". The name of the Scalecutter family, the royal family, is a good example for a name that'S based on a heroic deed. Their name stems from the fact that their ancestors have been great beastslayers. A few examples for Gren first names are: Ulfrid, Herrolf, Thorir, Alwine, Helga, Freya.
When nobles speak to each other, they usually use their titles. If they do not know the title of whoever they speak to, but are aware that they are nobility, then they usually just say sir or lady, depending on the sex of the person they speak to. When a vassal speaks to his superior, he either refers to him by his title or by "milord" or "milady". Untitled nobles are always referred to as sir or lady, regardless of any titles their family members may own. Heirs are called prince or princess. The heir to the throne is called crown prince. Commoners, because they know so little about politics, usually refer to all nobles as milord, milady, sir, and lady. To visualize this, the commoner Herrolf would greet Alwine, the daughter of a baron, by saying "Greetings, Lady Alwine" or "Greetings, milady". Neither is more appropriate than the other and both are accepted.
The Gren Kingdom is a true monarchy with an agnatic succession; the king rules until death and is replaced by their eldest son, who inherits all titles of his father. If the king has no suitable sons or brothers to inherit his throne, his oldest daughter or sister is considered to be the next monarch. A male heir can become unsuitable due to grave injuries or being afflicted with mental deficiencies. Even the traditionalistic Gren do not want to be ruled by an imbecile or someone who suffers from some form of mental handicap. It is possible that the current king picks one of his other children, even his daughters, to be the next heir. This naturally upsets the actual heir, but could earn the favor of the other noble families, if the previous heir was disliked or considered incapable. Only persons older than fourteen years of age may take over the throne. Should the king die before the heir is of age, then his wife or one of his siblings will rule as a regent. This form of succession is also true for all lesser noble titles, which are described later in this section.
Currently, the royal family is the Scalecutter family which originates from and resides in the Dukedom Suwehb. They are Suwehbens through and through. The king's primary symbol is his crown. It is made out of gold from Varhal's Ridge. Its shape is rather special, adapted to the head shape and the horns of Trezlin. It is basically a beautifully shaped plate of gold, which features two holes so it can be slid over the horns. The plate itself then covers the forehead, a nose piece even extends across the snout bridge, and the crown also spans the free space between the horns, at up to half of it. The crown uses all this space to depict the emblems of the seven dukedoms, which are detailed in the Minor Factions sections. Above them stands the symbol of the Gren Kingdom - a kul rearing up on its hindlegs, which is impaled on a spear through the chest, like it is displayed on the realm's flag. Having to deal with the beasts of the wilds is truly the one thing all Gren certainly have in common. The secondary symbol is the kingly sword (Renkaaf Terael). It is a gift from the Firehorns, made out of steel, and has been decorated with gold by Suwehbish gold smiths. Every king's name since Bjorn I. has been engraved in the blade in small letters, even though Ulfrid I. was the first to receive it.
While the king may govern his own demesne how he sees fit, he does not have absolute power over the remaining realm. He couldn't govern it all directly if he tried, because the Gren Kingdom is too vast. Thus he relies on the nobility to govern and protect most of it. In other words, the entire kingdom is split into many chunks of lands. Each chunk is attached to a title. The titles, in order of power, and the lands they rule are the following: King/Queen (Kingdom) > Duke/Duchess (Dukedom/Duchy) > Count/Countess (County) > Baron/Baroness (Barony). The kingdom spans the entire realm and thus the seven dukedoms. Each dukedom is split into multiple counties. Each county is split into multiple baronies. A barony usually includes one town and multiple large villages. The most powerful barony within the county is usually the seat and demesne of the local count. The most powerful county is usually the seat of the local duke.
While a titled noble who holds a powerful title is certainly more influential than one who holds a less powerful title, he can't just order the lesser nobles around. It depends on the feudal relation they've to each other. Titled noble A can have no relation to titled noble B, if their titles aren't connected in any way or form. For example, the Duke of Suwehb has no power over a count in Dukedom Vandell. If A has a lesser rank than B, then A could be B's direct or indirect vassal. If A has a higher rank than B; then A could be B's direct or indirect lord. The difference between indirect and direct vassalage is, that there's another noble between the lord and his indirect vassal. For example, the Gren king is the direct lord of all dukes; the dukes are his direct vassals. The vassals of the dukes (counts, barons, etc.) are the indirect vassals of the king. A direct lord can take away the titles of his direct vassals, but doing so without a reason will upset the other vassals. They'll see such acts as a form of tyranny and begin fearing for their own titles.
What makes the Gren system more complex is, that it is possible for one person to hold multiple noble titles in the Gren Kingdom. The king shall serve as an example. He's the king of the Gren Kingdom, the duke of Suwehb, the count of multiple counties, and additionally the baron of Northorn (the capital) and a few other towns. It is normal and even necessary to hold multiple titles. Every titled noble has at least a single baron title under their belt, because they require a seat of power after all. Dukes also require a count title, because, as mentioned before, the strongest county serves as the dukedom's seat of power. More accurately, the mightiest city within the county, which is the heart of mightiest barony of the county at the same time, serves as the dukedom's capital. Hence the duke rules the capital and the rural areas around it as a baron, the county it belongs to as a count, and the whole dukedom as a duke. This also means that a duke can have counts and barons as direct vassals, because he's the direct lord of all counts in his dukedom and all barons in his counties.
Every chunk of land that is under a noble's direct control, not under the control of one of his vassals, is considered part of his demesne. A lord rules and judges over everyone, serfs and untitled nobles alike, who lives in his demesne, because they're considered his subjects. He may not rule those who merely enter his land but are not his subjects, such as travelers or merchants from other demesnes or even countries, but he may judge them for their crimes as long as they walk on his soil. From the serfs he can demand a tithe of what they produce, military service, other services, and manual labor, for example to build roads or his castle. In return for these taxes and services, the serfs are granted enough land to live off of and are protected by their lord and his retinue. From his nobles subjects, the lord can demand a rent and military service, if they live on his land. If they bought land, he can't demand anything from them. Additionally, all natural resources in a demesne belong to its owner.
A noble's demesne isn't his only source of wealth and warriors. From his direct vassals he can demand taxes and, in times of war, troops. Taxes can be paid in coin or materials, it depends on what the lord wants or rather what the vassal has. There's no crown law that determines how high the taxes are or how many troops a vassal has to grant to his lord. The lords decide on these matters themselves, but it is wise to not ask for too much. Upset vassals are likely to band together to dethrone their lord. In return for their taxes and their warriors, the vassals can expect their lord to protect them and assist them in legal matters. A noble can't demand anything from his indirect vassals. However, the system in place creates a taxation chain. The duke demands taxes from his counts and barons, while the counts demand taxes from their own barons, hence a sliver of their barons' wealth also ends up in the hands of the dukes. The more vassals a direct vassal has, the more money can be demanded from him.
While the king is the direct lord of the dukes, he still needs the approval of the majority of the seven dukes, of which he is one, to change the crown laws of the realm. These laws determine how the king is picked, who may own land, how to become a noble, and similar things of high importance to the realm. When it is necessary to decide on crown laws or other important matters, the dukes and duchesses gather in the capital - Northorn in Suwehb - to discuss and vote. The dukes are powerful and many, for historic reasons, dislike the Suwehbens and the Gren king, so they don't feel obliged to say yes to everything the king says. Resistance is very common and often the king has to partake in courtly intrigues, bribing, and hand out fiefs and other gifts in order to convince the nobles to agree to his reforms and decisions. Because sometimes the king has to rely on unorthodox means to get rid of annoying troublemaker, a large royal guard is necessary to prevent the same from happening to him.
Now follow descriptions of all the ranks the nobility has in the Gren Kingdom, from top to bottom, starting with the king. Additionally to the usual powers granted by a title, he has a few special privileges. For one, he can, by royal edict, decide matters that are beneath the crown laws. For example, he could decide that a certain practice or custom becomes illegal. However, issuing edicts without consulting the council of dukes is unwise. The dukes could be upset by the edict. Secondly, he alone decides on matters of diplomacy. Yet he shouldn't go to war without the support of his nobility, or he may end up without an army. Overall, the king is the mightiest person in the entire kingdom, but he can be toppled by the dukes, if they unite against him.
Dukedoms consists of multiple counties that have been grouped together based on their culture or geographic location as demanded by the Royal Reform of 561 ar. The dukedoms and thus their rulers are very powerful. Dukes have a lot of freedoms. For example, they make the common law in their lands without asking the king. At most they ask their own counts, to ensure that they don't upset them. To this end, every duke has a council of counts and countesses. Dukes also commonly fulfill important tasks for the king, such as serving him as diplomats or marshals. Even if they delegate this task to one of their own subjects, just having been granted the right to fulfill it or delegate is prestigious.
Counts mostly ensure that the will of their duke is done and keep the barons in their counties in line. Having them as a step between the barons and the dukes ensures that the duke does not have to deal with the many barons of their duchy, but only with a few counts. Counties can vary in size. Some counties contain multiple baronies, while others contain only two. The mightier the county is, the more powerful the count is. Within a duchy, each count is an influential, important individual. The counts have the power to topple their duke if they united or involved themselves in schemes. If the king is an ally of the duke, then he might intervene to prevent that said duke is dethroned. Should the duke be an enemy of the crown, then maybe royal warriors will happen to be among the rebellious forces. Counts that get along with the duke often serve in important positions. They may act as military leaders in their duke's army or fulfill another purpose. All in all, counts are influential people and respected among the nobility, if less than dukes.
Barons play the least influential role in the upper echelons politics, because they are the least powerful. A barony usually consists of one town and its surrounding villages, so barons don't own much wealth and can't muster huge armies. However, they are mighty enough to influence their count, especially if they band together. In the smaller counties, it is often impossible for barons to topple their count. After all, if a county consists of just two baronies, then there's only one count and one baron. That singular baron has a tough time trying to defeat the count, unless his demesne is wealthier and more populated than that of his lord for some reason. Usually the count of such small counties simply owns all baronies himself, or at least only hands them out to trusted family members.
While the baronies, counties, and so on and so forth are led by titled nobles, the villages are usually led by a commoner or at most a minor noble. Every village belongs to a title noble, but the villages are too numerous as that a singular baron could listen to every single villager. This is where village elders come into play. They're respected, old, male members of the community and the spokesman of the village. If something is amiss, it is them who inform their lord about it. Large villages usually have, additionally to their elder, a minor noble nearby to take care of their issues. Those minor nobles are either local landowners who simply bought a piece of land and put their family's longhouse on it, or knights.
Knights are important to the Gren Kingdom, even if they're not titled nobles. Basically, they're untitled nobles who are granted a fief within a barony in return for vowing to defend said fief. The fief usually includes a large village and a few smaller communities. The knight is permitted to demand a tithe from the populace and demand services from them, but he may not recruit them without permission from his lord and he can't call them his serfs. They aren't his subjects after all, they're merely lent to him. In times of war, knights serve as elite warriors that are usually mounted. Knights may only pass on their fief to their sons and only if said sons are capable warriors. If this is not the case, the fief is returned to their lord.
The minor factions within the Gren Kingdom are the seven dukedoms, but it is quite an understatement to call them minor. They have armies of their own, are the size of entire past kingdoms, and could easily topple the Gren king, if they united. That's the problem. Although most of them do not like the king, they also do not like each other all that much. They squabble, fight small wars against each other, and try to defeat each other with intrigues. Even many kings are guilty of using such methods. The larger one's influence on politics, the larger that person's bodyguard ought to be to survive.
Divided the kingdom has stood for a long while, but it isn't a given that it will stand forever. Without a common enemy, few of the nobles see a reason to stick together. Enough strife could cause a civil war. It would be a great struggle, one which end is not certain. Either the Gren King solidifies his position or he has to grant the nobles rights or maybe the Gren Kingdom turns into the Gren Kingdoms, simply falls apart. Beneath, the seven dukedoms are listed in alphabetic order.
Dukedom Jamgadir is located in the northwestern half of the Gren Kingdom. It lays east of Suwehb, south of Manhomir, and right next to Threa's Northern Spine. The name Jamgadir stems from the Gren word for mountain range; the dukedom has basically been named after the fact it lies nearby Threa's Spine. This dukedom is pretty average when it comes population, land, and power. A person from Jamgadir is called a Jamgadaren; the plural is Jamgadarens. The coat of arms of the ruling family is a stylized, gray mountain, with a wall of spears in front of it, backed by a light blue background.
Being so close to a mountain range has its up- and downsides. The upsides are clearly the iron mines and the contact and thus trade with the Monarchy of the Free Caverns; its entrance is located in this dukedom. The big downside is that plenty of beasts call Threa's Spine their home. From gryphons to Trezkul, the Jamgadarens have to deal with it all. It is no surprise that the slayers of Jamgadir are the most able; they must be to ensure that Jamgadir can flourish. Overall, the constant threat of beasts has turned the Jamgadarens into a rough, ferocious people. It hardened them. As a side note, the Jamgadarens are loyal to the royal crown.
- Alfjir Mountainkeeper the Second (764 ar - ??? ar): Duke of Jamgadir, and count and baron of a few more pieces of lands.
Dukedom Manhomir extends from the shore to the west all the way to Threa's Northern Spine in the east. It controls the entire northern border of the Gren Kingdom, so a large chunk of the Northern Verdant Valley. This land is cold and covered in boreal forests. To the south Manhomir borders Dukedom Suwehb and Dukedom Jamgadir. Its flag, so the flag of the Wargblood family, displays a warg, standing on a rock, howling towards the sky. The background is black; the warg and rock are white. To the people of Manhomir, wargs embody strength and fierceness. A person from Manhomir is called Manhomer, the plural is Manhomers. The name Manhomir stems from the local word for home. When King Olf asked in 501 ar how these lands shall be called, the people responded with "Manhomir!". It is their home and that shall never be forgotten. As this may imply, the Manhomers do not like the king.
Manhomir is a hostile land. There's plenty of Wolshak packs that cause trouble, then there's also warg packs, northern gryphons, more rarely Truzkul, and plenty of Trezlin that live away from the law, but plunder from those that try to abide it. Then the land also isn't the most fertile, at least not when compared to the areas south of it. Only in summer may crops grow, the rest of the seasons are simply too cold for any but the hardiest plants. A special breed of potatoes is the primary source of nutrient for the Manhomers, that and meat. Lots of meat. Manhomers are good hunters; they use techniques similar to that of the Truzlin. They hunt with javelins and in large groups. Sometimes a whole village goes hunting together. The furs and pelts of their prey serve to keep the Trezlin warm, who are terribly adapted to the low temperatures.
The only way to acquire any form of wealth is selling the most expensive pelts and trading a bit with the Truzlin, which just nets more pelts to sell to the people in the south. Overall, Manhomir's wealth is low, even the nobles aren't very rich. However, they do not mind this at all. They even refuse to make use of most luxuries and dislike most things foreign. Manhomir Cider is their favorite drink; they drink it warm to heat them up from the inside. It is made out of fruits that become ripe in the late summer, just before the cold winds of fall prevent such growth again. All in all, Manhomers are a simple yet fierce and strong people. Some of the toughest warriors hail from the northern edge of the Gren Kingdom.
- Jygmar Wargblood I. (751 ar - ??? ar): Duke of Manhomir, and count and baron of a few more pieces of lands.
The Dukedom Jhirkop Omojehb is simply named after the Ironhead Flatlands; jhirkop is Gren for Ironhead and omojehb for flatlands. It sprawls across the entire flatlands, borders Suwehb and Jamgadir in the north, and Thirpofen in the northwest. In its south lies the wild Dukedom Thvijom. The banner of Jhirkop Omojehb is bright green and displays a gray side view of an ironhead's head, beneath which two ears of grain cross like an X. It was agreed by the noble families of Jhirkop Omojehb that this should be the new banner of their ruling family, the Spearbreakers. For the Spearbreakers it was quite the sacrifice to give up their old emblem, but they had to if they wanted to become the ruling family without an internal war. People from this dukedom are called Omojehbens. The singular is Omojehben. Omojehbens are more or less loyal to the king.
As the flag and name implies, Jhirkop Omojehb is based on ironheads and grain. They breed the former and sow the latter. Every single ironhead that is being utilized by knights and caravans around the kingdom comes from this dukedom. One of its lands, the Blackwood Barony, is known for its great war mounts. They have less of a temperament than the average ironhead, which makes them easier to control in a battle. Breeding ironheads nets a lot of money.
When avog riding became a thing during the Great War, the Omojehbens profited greatly from their expertise in handling animals. They were the first to begin large scale breeding of avogs and have been selling them nationwide ever since. They also perfected riding them themselves. As experts in throwing javelins off of running avogs and using battleaxes to deliver deadly blows from their backs, the Omojehbish riders are certainly deadly and rightfully feared by more than just the Gren.
The grain from Jhirkop Omojehb feeds more than just the Omojehbens, it also feeds other Gren and even the Firehorns. The grain is carried to Thirpofen, loaded on ships, and send right down to the Searing Deserts. It doesn't generate a high income, but an income nonetheless. Controlling the trade between north and south generates much more. Every trader from Vandell or Thvijom has to go through Jhirkop Omojehb or use the seas. For Thvijom the way by the seas takes far too long, given its distance to the coast, so they deal with the tariffs and carry it through Jhirkop Omojehb anyway.
To sum it up, the Omojehbens are renowned breeders of both ironheads and avogs, feared riders of the later, and otherwise simple farmers that produce enough food to export it. They're also known for their ironhead stew. It is basically their national dish and traditionally eaten during the Day of Yggorum. Out of the barley that grows here they brew a very strong beer which has a rather high alcohol content, named Ironhead Ale. Some say it requires the liver of of an ironhead to stomach a lot of it without falling over!
- Ulrich Spearbreaker the Second (771 ar - ??? ar): Duke of Jhirkop Omojehb, and count and baron of a few more pieces of lands.
Dukedom Vandell is located in the southwestern corner of the Gren Kingdom, in the Vandell Forests. It borders Dukedom Thvijom in the east, the Starless Jungle in the south, and has access to the Great Bay in the northeast. Vandell is the local Gren dialect for cunning, crafty, and also treacherous. While to some it might be considered an insult to be called cunning and treacherous, it is a compliment to the Vandellarians. Not because they want to be traitors, but because they like to be cunning, just like their local deity Svik. The wolf, which is seen as a crafty, stealthy predator, is the symbol of the Vandellarians. A stylized wolf head looking straight at the viewer is displayed on their green banner. The green stands for the dense forests that cover the land. At least this was their old banner, when the Woodstalkers still ruled. The emblem of the current rulers - the Crownbearers -, and thus the current emblem of Vandell, is a silver crown on top of a black tree, on a green background.
In ages past the Dukedom Vandell was known as the Vandellarian Kingdom. A fair a share of the population still prefers the good old days, despite neither having experienced them, thus the Vandellarians have remained resistant to the royal crown to this day. In the past, the Kingdom of the Vandell Forests was as strong as the Suwehbish Kingdom. This lasted until the latter grew through conquest, until they were able to overpower the Vandellarians. They valiantly fought to keep their independence, albeit in vain. Having failed to do so back then broke their spirit, but only for a few years. The nobles of Vandell tried to rebel against Bjorn the First King of the Gren, which led to Bjorn's death. However, his son Ulfrid survived. He had the whole Vandellarian noble family executed, except those who managed to flee into the woods, and placed another noble family at the head of the dukedom. This family has never managed to truly establish itself and is disliked still.Nowadays the "Free Rangers of Vandell" continue the fight against the crown in the hopes of having their leader, a member of the former royal family, on the throne of an independent Vandellarian Kingdom.
Apart from their rebellious nature and their hatred for the royal crown, the Vandellarians are also known for their skill with the bow. The best archers of the Gren Kingdom come from Vandell. They are great at killing one enemy after another with quickly knocked and loosened arrows, that strike true even across a distance. Such a high rate of arrows loosened is only possible because they perfected holding the arrows in the same hand they draw the string with. The rate at which they let arrows fly and the accuracy with which they hit has made them renowned hunters, even if they aren't the greatest trackers. They still prefer to use hounds for that. Yet one should still fear the Vandellarian hunters, for they're great at setting up ambushes, being a cunning people.
- Vadim Crownbearer the Third (770 ar - ??? ar): Duke of Vandell, and count and baron of a few more pieces of lands.
- Wamell Woodstalker the Second (776 ar - ??? ar): Leader of the Free Rangers of Vandell, member of the earliest royal family of Vandell.
The Dukedom Suwehb is the mightiest duchy of the seven. It lies in the north of the Gren Kingdom, borders the continental coast in the west, Jamgadir in the east, Manhomir in the north, and Thirpofen and Jhirkop Omojehb in the south. Its capital is Northorn, which is also the capital of the kingdom. The coat of arms of the ruling family is a stylized, black Trezkul head with a red sword thrust vertically through its top. The Gren rune for Varhal is written on the sword. The emblem is displayed on a blue background. A person from Suwehb is called a Suwehben, multiple people from Suwehb are hence called Suwehbens.
Most of the titles within this dukedom are owned by the Scalecutter family - the royal family of the Gren. This leaves few pieces of land to non-royals. It is thus the most loyal dukedom, unsurprisingly. Most of the land has been in Suwehbish hands for many, many centuries now, but a notable chunk of it has been annexed either by conquest or vassalization. One of the reasons the Suwehbens were even able to become the strongest people in the west are their fierce Wolshak warriors. They are mercenaries, and thanks to ample gold mines in Varhal's Ridge, the Scalecutter family is extremely rich and easily able to pay them.
But it wasn't all the Wolshaks. Suwehbens themselves are also known for their eagerness for battle and their fierceness. Varhal the Kulslayer was a Suwehben, and many Suwehbish beastslayers try to follow his footsteps. A whole lot succeeds in that and become the best kulslayers the Gren Kingdom knows. If a Trezkul is on the loose or Aezkul settle where they shouldn't, Suwehbish kulslayers will get the job done. They cost a lot, but they deliver results.
Apart from beastslayers and fierce warriors, Suwehb is also known for Suwehbish Lager. It is one of the favorite brands of beer the Gren have, even if many don't like to admit that they drink beer from Suwehb. Not only because many dislike Suwehb simply for being the residence and primary demesne of the king, but also because they dislike the Suwehbens. They often think they're better than the other Gren, even if they're on the same step on the social ladder.
- Bjorn Scalecutter the First (Dead, 424 ar - 467 ar): First King of the Gren. He was also the Duke of Suwehb, count and baron of many more pieces of land.
- Ulfrid Scalecutter the First (Dead, 445 ar - 497 ar): Second King of the Gren. He was also the Duke of Suwehb, count and baron of many more pieces of land. He led his people through the Great War.
- Bjorn Scalecutter the Third (779 ar - ??? ar): King of the Gren, Duke of Suwehb, and count and baron of many more pieces of land. He's very young, which further destabilizes the Gren Kingdom. His father simply died too early, under rather suspicious circumstances.
The Dukedom of Thirpofen, the city is better known to foreigners as Steelport, is the smallest of the seven dukedoms. It is located at the shores of the Great Bay and spans more than just Steelport. It actually controls multiple smaller villages and another town as well. It borders Suwehb in the north and Jhirkop Omojehb in the southeast. Thirpofen's coat-of-arms consists of an iron anchor, which has a red, thorny rose wrapped around its top part, on a light blue background. A circle made out of golden, interwoven lines surrounds it. A person from Thirpofen is called a Thirpofian, multiple are called Thirpofians. It was called Fishport in the past, but was renamed Steelport once the trade with the Firehorns began. It simply appeared as a more appropriate name to the ruling elite.
Being not much more than a city state, this dukedom has little military power, but that doesn't mean it is powerless. The Thirpofians are a witty, crafty sort of Gren and traders by heart. Their beloved city is located at the shores of both the Great Bay and Threa's Vein, which makes it the perfect place to control both the shipping done out at sea and the shipping done on the mighty river. Steelport is the only city in the Gren Kingdom that features a proper harbor, as per royal decree. This law is in place to prevent that Gren destroy the habitat of the Sozlin by building large towns and cities on the shores of the sea. It allows only the Thirpofians to construct harbors to allow seafaring ships to dock and unload. Thanks to their monopoly, the Thirpofians dominate the trade done with the Firehorns, which has made them very rich.
While the Dukedom of Thirpofen is too small to allow many nobles to hold titles within, they've found a different way to influence the ruling duke - a city council. It consists of the wealthiest noble families of the region and has a lot of influence on the duke's decisions, simply because these nobles are so wealthy. It is this money that grants the duke an influence on the King of the Gren. After all, Steelport is not able to offer the king a large levy, so instead it sends him large sums of gold, silver, and more importantly steel as tribute. This appeases the king, which is why he has been holding his protective hand over the city for centuries now. Some of the other dukes would like to have a share of Steelport's wealth; it has happened in the past that they tried to acquire it, either by force or intrigue. So far, the wise rulers of Thirpofen were able to avert any terrible fate.
Steelport is also where most Sozlin in the Gren Kingdom live. They work there as sailors, dock hands, and fishers. Due to being integrated so well, they are well received in the city. In fact, a bit of their culture has rubbed off on the Thirpofens. Many bars offer their patrons to watch fights between pugilists, on which said patrons like to bet. The brawlers are paid in return and receive a share of the proceedings. Most of the fist fighters are Sozlin, but sometimes the odd Trezlin tries his luck at it, too. On a footnote, Thirpofen is also known for the ale its breweries produce - simply known as Thirpofian Brew. It even rivals Suwehbish Lager in popularity.
- Fabon of Thirpofen the First (758 ar - ??? ar): Duke of Thirpofen, and count and baron of Thirpofen (Steelport) the city.
This wild dukedom is located in the southeastern regions of the Gren Kingdom. Between it and the rainforest lies an twilight zone, where both Gren settlers and Riz tribes are unsure who owns what, but yet claim it regardless. In the north it borders Jhirkop Omojehb and in the west it borders Vandell. Its ruling family's emblem consists of two crossed, red battleaxes. They are surrounded by a ring of thorns. The axes stand for Thvijhom's warriors, the thorns for the wilderness that spans across most of its land. The name Thvijhom actually stems from the Gren word for wilderness or "lethal land". People from Thvijom are called Thvijhomians, a single person is called a Thvijhomian. Overall, Thvijhomians are disloyal. They would prefer to be independent.
As the name implies, Thvijhom is a very wild region. The reason for this are twofold. Reason number one is the proximity to Threa's Southern Spine and its little offshoot west of it. Both house many Trezkul and other beasts. The Trezkul actually migrate in winter from the Northern Spine to the southern one, leading to a stark increase in numbers during winter. The Thvijhomians have to deal with it, and they manage. The second reason is that Thvijhom borders the rainforest, Threa's most dangerous region. Riz tribes and beasts make their way north sometimes, along the rivers. The twilight zone between the Starless Jungle and the Temperate Zone is inhabited by both wild Rizlin and the more civilized Gren, which has led to some conflict...
...but also to a lot of coupling between the Rizlin and Trezlin, especially in times that past ages ago. So much coupling in fact, that a large chunk of Thvijhom's population consists of Riz/Trez-hybrids. These hybrids have even received a special name; they're called Driveks. Driveks are weird. Some have horns, some do not, some have the patterns of the southwestern Trezlin, others that of the Rizlin. They can have all shades of green that are available to Trez- and Rizlin as well. While the Driveks are seen as odd, they're not met with disdain or disgust. But some are afraid of them, because they all have yellow eyes and tend to be taller than Trezlin on average. Despite whatever prejudice non-Driveks have, the Driveks are as civilized as the rest of the Gren, despite being ferocious warriors with a liking for brutal melees. There's even noble families that are exclusively composed of Driveks. The ruling family is one, in fact. Overall, Thvijhomians prefer to stick to themselves and isolate themselves a bit from the people of the other dukedoms. A Trezlin from Thvijhom would rather stick up for a Drivek than a Trezlin from another dukedom.
Apart from the Driveks and its natural dangers, Thvijhom is also known for the followers of Yggrax, the yggraxans. These people pray to the Great Destroyer instead of the Great Creator (Yggorum). This makes them heretics, terrible people, and even worthy of death in the eyes of the Gren. After all, they praise a kul that vowed to destroy Threa instead of the divine lin who created it! Reason for the existence of this religious movement is likely the influence of the Riz tribes. In days long past, Thvijhomians must have witnessed Rizlin worshiping Rizkul and saw the great power of these kul. This might have convinced them to praise kul themselves. Of course worshiping Yggrax is outlawed, so all yggraxans live far away from other communities to worship in secret. The fact that most yggraxans are Driveks causes many Gren to be suspicious of the latter.
- Tromjor Wildtamer the First (734 ar - ??? ar): Duke of Thvijhom, and count and baron of a few more pieces of lands.
There's no such thing as a professional military in the service of the Gren crown. Every noble has the right to press the population of his lands into military service, so they simply do so in times of war. Land-owners and their children are exempt from this, but they must pay higher taxes in times of war to make up for it. Even non-Trezlin can be forced to pick up arms for their lord, as long as they have one. Free people can not be pressed into service, but many free men are mercenaries, who the nobles gladly hire in times of war to bolster their ranks. However, the nobles and knights much prefer to be surrounded by warriors of their own lands, which is why they permit the most capable serfs to become a part of their retinue. These employed warriors receive payment, food, and shelter for their service to their lord. They are also freed off taxes. With their payment and the loot they acquire, they usually can afford some armor and better weapons. Given how many benefits they enjoy, the members of the retinue are usually very loyal to their lord, unlike mercenaries, who only listen to the highest bidder most of the time. Having a large retinue is a sign of military might, but also very expensive because it creates running costs. Conscripted warriors receive no payment, only the right to loot and plunder, which can be quite lucrative. This also means that whatever land the Gren conquer will be forcefully robbed, just to satisfy the greed of the army.
As stated, a noble can only press his own serfs into military service. Even the king himself can only easily recruit those that live in his own demesne, so that are his direct subjects. The Gren king truly has many direct subjects, but not enough to fight of an alliance of his own dukes or an invasion from another large nation. He has to demand, which is his right, levies from his vassals, so the dukes and other nobles. His troops combined with their is a much more formidable army, especially if his direct vassals demand the levies from their own vassals to increase the size of their own levy further. That the king depends on the nobles for most of his army used as leverage by the latter against the former. A noble might offer deals such as sending their levy to the king's army's aid, if in return the noble's son receives a piece of the conquered land.
In times of peace, villages and towns alike have to take care of their security themselves, hence why they feature their own militia. Serving in the militia is seen as every man's duty and brings honor to one's name. While they Gren may not be as militaristic as the hightribes, their warriors are still held in high regards. Nobles are affected by this as well; every noble man should be a good fighter. Those who do not know how to properly swing a sword or axe properly are faced with ridicule and disdain. The existence of the militias ensures that the general, male population has at least a basic form of combat training and knows how to use its weapons. The occasional skirmish with unruly Wolshaks, fights against beasts, and the clashes between the noble families offer enough chances to the militia to acquire some actual combat experience. Some lords are wise enough to have their serfs partake in military training now and then, which increases the quality of their levy and makes it easier to find potential recruits for their retinue. However, most of the Gren army is disorganized and lacks discipline, because the grand majority of it consists of more or less experienced, armed peasants.
Despite not being drilled well for the most part, the Gren army is still a force to be reckoned with, because the Gren fight fiercely and with unwavering courage - the morale of Gren warriors is seldom broken. The average Gren warrior won't flee easily and do well against Sokan skirmishers, but they won't stand long against legionnaires. At least the common warrior is cheap and available in high numbers. Now Gren veterans, the aforementioned guards, mercenaries, and similar, are much better; they are even a match for Sokan legionnaires. Gren archers are mediocre, but Gren rangers, especially those from Vandell, are very skilled bowmen and great at laying ambushes. But archery is seen as cowardly by most, which is why there are only few Gren archers compared to the bulk of warriors. Avog riders are a rather dangerous sort of warrior as well. Only professional soldiers can afford one of these beasts, which has made avog riders low in numbers but rather high in quality.
The very best fighters the Gren have are the knights. They are professional, well armored, well armed, and expertly trained. A Gren knight could easily duel an average Blazlin from the Searing Deserts and come out on top. On their ironhead mounts, a group of knights could easily ride down an entire formation of Trezlin warriors and scatter them. Ironheads are large, four legged creatures with natural armor plates all over their body and a blunt plate on their head that can easily push away enemies. When an ironhead charges its enemies, it doesn't even think about dodging them. It tackles them head on and can easily break spears and shields when it collides with hostile troops. A downside of these mighty herbivores is their tendency to become mad and thrash when they are in great pain. When this happens, the knights have the must kill their mount if it becomes too aggressive, so it doesn't become a danger for their brothers-in-arms. Riding an ironhead into battle is a privilege of nobility, which is one of the reasons that avogs are the popular choice of wealthy commoners.
Plenty of monstrosities live in Gren lands, which has caused the formation of another group of warriors - beastslayers. More about them can be found below, because they can clearly be considered a special unit. To sum it up, they're mercenaries who specialized in slaying beasts, even kul if need be. They cost a lot of money, but they are any noble's best bet if they want to get rid of a pesky gryphon or Trezkul.
Overall, the Gren Kingdom's military strength is far above that of Treztown, but below that of the Sokan Empire. If it weren't for Treztown, an ally of the Gren, defending the only large pass between the eastern and the western Temperate Zone, the Gren Kingdom might have already fallen to the Empire and its Bronze Legions. But regardless of the likely outcome, the Gren fight fiercely and bravely, even if it means waging a destructive war that leaves them bleeding and the entire nation fatigued. Such an existential war could truly unite the Gren, if only temporarily. It worked in the Great War.
The Gren Kingdom has no professional army; it is only raised when needed, so its organization is only temporary as well. In times of war, nobles become officers. Noble officers are usually called marshals; there's multiple types of marshals, which are all explained at the end of this subsection. Warfare is an important subject and is taught to all men of noble birth, so they are all more or less capable. However, there aren't that many officers to begin with. The Gren Kingdom doesn't split its pool of warriors into exact units like the Sokans or Blaz do, they just group them together how they see fit. This means they can't use advanced tactics, but does greatly reduce the amount of noble officers they require. A note about formalities: It is unusual to call nobles by their military rank, as they are usually only temporary. The rank is more of a status than a title to the Gren. They are usually called by their noble title, unless the noble speaking to them has a higher one. If a duke speaks to a count, who happens to be his lord marshal, he would call him "Lord Marshal [Name]", because the military title is what grants this count power over even his own duke. However, usually the noble hierarchy is not broken when military ranks are granted. The lower echelons of the hierarchy are sometimes taken over by commoners. The best example are mercenary warbands, which are of course led by their own mercenary captains. Usually the nobles do have a staff, but the roles aren't as clearly defined as they are in more professional forces. Common positions among the staff are quartermasters and siege engineers, the latter is very rare.
Even without a proper staff and a supply corps, the logistics of the army are alright. Ironheads, other beasts of burden, and river barges can transport supplies if necessary, but usually the armies of the Gren just loot the enemy land they march through to fill their stomachs and pockets, taking whatever they want from the local population. After all, moving supplies over land is very difficult in the Western Kingdom due to the almost complete lack of a proper road network. If the army has to stop marching, they set up a simple camp with tents made out of animal furs and cloth. Only if they stay for a long time do they bother setting up a palisade around their campsite. Often they'll just occupy multiple villages or a whole town, and use it as a place to shelter their men - at the expense of the local population. Naturally, this doesn't make the Gren the most well-received occupants. Often violence is necessary to keep the native population in check until the area has been fully pacified All in all, the Gren Kingdom isn't exactly set up for very long wars.
But even in short wars orders must be send. Strategic orders are just send by letter. These letters, just like any important message in the Gren Kingdom, are delivered by Trezlin mounted on daebis. These tall, flightless birds have incredible speed and endurance, which makes them perfect as mounts for long journeys. During battle, these messengers even run around the battlefield, delivering orders and information to the ones who need them. Battle plans are usually made and decided on before the lines even clash, despite having this quick way of relaying information, because there's always the risk that the daebis and their riders do not arrive. The mounts are rather cowardly, afraid of anything that resembles a threat, which makes them utterly unfit as war mounts and makes them risky as a means of transportation in a fight.
During battle, banners also play a crucial role. They are not used to give orders, but they are used to keep the army together. A Gren fighter always knows which banner he must stay close to, knowing that he will lose his brothers-in-arms if he does not. Especially for the cavalry the banners are very important. After a charge, the formation can be in disarray, so the banner is a great orientation for the riders to find their leader again. Banners always display the coat of arms of the highest ranking noble of the campaign. There are a few exceptions, which are noted in the table of the ranks and units below. Shields and surcoats always display the coat-of-arms of the persons' direct lord or their own, if they are of noble blood themselves.
When a Gren noble, be it the king or one of the lesser ones, requires an army, he will send messengers out into the lands. They visit the various villages and towns of his demesne, proclaim that their lord calls upon the people to pick up arms for their lord, and also visit the lord's noble vassals to inform them that their levy is required. It is the duty of the leader of the local militia or the local guard chief to rally the commoners. They've the right to do so, so refusing their orders is a crime punishable by execution. The Gren do not take kindly to deserters and the lords judge disloyal subjects rather quickly. Of course not every single man has to pick up arms, only as many as the lord requires. Who is picked is decided by the aforementioned authorities. Their decisions are based on personal preference and the skill of the potential recruits. When the local people have been rallied, they are send to a predestined rallying point. From there on, the noble takes command over his people and leads them. Either on a campaign of his own, or to another rallying point to join the troops of his lord.
|Ranks and Units of the Gren Kingdom|
|Of course the king is the highest authority during war as he is during peace. He commands all troops and may grant military ranks and titles to the nobles and commoners how he sees fit. Every king is expected to lead from the battlefield, while riding among the other knights to charge the foe. Staying far away from the battle would be cowardly, unless the king has good reason to stay away. The king could be injured, for example. In those cases he delegates his responsibilities and privileges to a special marshal - the royal marshal. The best way to identify the Gren King on the battlefield is looking out for his richly decorated set of armor, his heavily armored and decorated ironhead, and his legendary sword Renkaaf Terael.|
|The royal marshal is a special type of noble officer, who has the same military authority the king has. One of the nobles is only promoted to royal marshal if the king is unwilling or unable to lead the Gren into battle himself. Usually one of the dukes takes over this position, but any noble could theoretically be promoted to royal marshal. To make a noble officially the royal marshal, the king hands him the kingly sword. This blade is rarely carried into combat by the royal marshal, for fear of losing it, but it acts as a means to prove his status to nobles who weren't around when he was promoted.|
|The lord marshal is another special type of noble officer. Whenever the king or royal marshal decides that it is necessary to split a part of the army off, he promotes a noble to the rank of lord marshal and puts him in charge of said detachment. The lord marshal in turn may promote other nobles under his command to marshals, so that they may command chunks of his detachment. It is the responsibility of the lord marshal to maintain his detachment and to fulfill the objective given to him. Usually the lord marshal has no special symbol, but in some cases the king may chose to give him a royal signet ring.|
|The marshal is also a type of noble officer. Marshals are simply in charge of military units, whose defined size and type can vary wildly. The position of marshal can last a whole campaign, but can also only last one battle. For example, the king could split his fighters in three equal groups for some sort of maneuver for the coming battle. In that case he would appoint a marshal to each group. After the battle, the groups are no longer needed, so neither are the marshals. If a marshal remains in place for longer periods of time, then he's in charge of ensuring the well being of the troops granted to him. Usually these groups of soldiers are referred to as a regiment. Marshals have no special symbol, they prove their position to others simply through witnesses.|
|Master of Knights - Company of Knights|
|The master of knights is a very prestigious position that can be taken over by any noble, as long as they are chosen by whoever has the highest rank in this war. The master of knights is quite simply in charge of all mounted knights and nobles of the army, so every knight with an ironhead. He will lead them wherever they are needed and spearhead the cavalry charge. It is a position in which one may not command many people, but can earn great glory. His group of knights is simply called the company of knights. Should the company have to split into multiple companies for some reason, then the master of knights must pick a so called "first knight" among those that will be part of the detachment. The first knight has the same duty as the master of knights, but loses his position once his own company is reunited with the main one. The master of knights can be identified by the yellow feathers attached to his helmet and the black painted helmet of his ironhead. The first knight usually only features the yellow feathers. Each company of knights has at least one bannerbearer. The banner he carries displays the emblem of the family of the master of knights or that of the first knight, if he rides with a detached company.|
|Master of Footknights - Company of Footknights|
|The master of footknights is to the dismounted knights (called footknights) what the master of knights is to the mounted ones. In other words, he is quite simply in charge of all knights and other nobles who could not afford an ironhead mount or whose mount already fell. The company of footknights is the second strongest unit of the Gren army; it comes right after the company of knights. Should the company of knights have to split into multiple parts, the master of footknights has to pick a "First Footknight" among the members of the detached company. A master of footknights or a first footknight always attaches red feathers to his helmet and pauldrons, so he can be easily identified by his men. The company of footknights has at least one bannerbearer. The banner he carries displays the emblem of the family of the master of footknights or the first footknight, if he marches with a detached company.|
|Captain - Warband|
|Captains are the only officers that are not of noble birth. A captain's unit is simply called a warband and a warband can vary wildly in size. Captains have multiple purposes. A noble always ensures to have a bunch of trusted captains among his troops, but they don't assign a specific group of fighters to each of them. These captains have to keep the morale high and uphold the order among the warriors. These captains can also be granted temporary warbands for certain tasks, for example to scout the enemy position or to take over a village away from the main army's route. More rarely warbands are assigned permanently until a campaign ends. When nobles choose who to promote to the rank of captain, they usually pick trusted members of their retinue. They know how loyal and capable their own retinue is after all. Captains, for means of easier identification, tend to wear something obvious. Of course yellow and red feathers are off limits to them, as they are reserved for the master of knights and master of footknights. Some wear gray feathers on their helmets or special surcoats. Commoners usually lack surcoats, so those who wear one must have some sort of importance.|
Warriors usually have to bring their own equipment when they are needed. Most low-born families own enough spears, leather chest armor, helmets, and large shields to equip their adult, able-bodied males for combat. This ensures that they can defend their community or join its militia when needed. Wealthier people own better equipment. Some nobles equip their own retinue with items out of their own armory, if they can afford it. Every metal item the common Gren uses nowadays is made out of the crude iron their smiths have are able to produce. Its quality is not even close to that of the steel of the Hightribes or the HozReok, but at least iron is cheaper than bronze, because iron is more common than copper in the Western Kingdom. Nowadays bronze is primarily used to decorate armor and weapons.
For protection the common fighter at least wears thick leathers, and either a leather or metal helmet. The helmets cover the top of the head and muzzle as well as the sides of the head. The holes for the eyes are large enough so the wearer has a clear view. Tall boots protect the legs from the environment and harm. Due to their lack of better armor, the melee warriors rely mostly on their large shields for protection. They are most commonly shaped like an oval or an elongated hexagon.
Professional warriors, either members of a retinue, employed guards, or mercenaries, can afford better armor. They protect their upper bodies with a shirt made out of metal links. Beneath it they wear padded vests or similar articles of clothing to cushion blows. Their arms are protected by leather or metal arm guards. Of course they also wear helmets. Some have improved helmets that offer more more protection, because chain mail hangs down from their edges. This band of chains covers the wearer's lower jaw and part of their long neck. Tail armor is not that common, because if a foe can strike at someone's tail, then that someone is certainly doing something wrong and likely going to die anyway. Armored warriors still use shields because they prefer blocking over parrying strikes. However, their shields are round shields and smaller than the shields of the common grunt. Hence they aren't as unhandy and grant the wielder more freedom of movement. Some avog riders are wealthy enough to buy armor not only for themselves but also for their mounts, but that's rather rare. Another important aspect is displaying what family one fights for. Commoners carry the coat-of-arms of their lord on their shields. Knights and nobles bear their own emblems on their surcoats and also on their shields. Commoners generally don't wear surcoats.
Spears are a good all around weapon and cheap to produce, so the grand majority of the Gren warriors wield them. Many Gren also carry a hand axe, typically a repurposed tool, as a back-up or even as a preferred weapon for brawls. Wealthier, more experienced warriors prefer to use proper battleaxes or arming swords over spears. Avog riders, despite being wealthier warriors, prefer to use spears, but carry battleaxes and swords on them as back-up. They use their polearms to stab at foes while their avogs claw and bite at them. The battleaxe, which can be wielded with one or two hands, is seen as a brutal and simple weapon; it gets the job done. Yet some of the best warriors vow that the sword is the weapon of the future, because it can cut as well as stab. This versatility makes it useful in duels as well in shield walls and other dense formations.
For ranged combat the Gren simply use shortbows. Archery is seen as rather cowardly, so not many warriors practice it. Longbows are very uncommon, because their strings must be made out of strong sinew or plant fiber. Neither is easily available in the Gren Kingdom. The great bows are also harder to train with and less handy in the dense forests of the Temperate Zone. Anyway, the only truly accepted form of ranged attacks is hurling a javelin before meeting the foe head on, hence why many Gren warriors carry javelins instead of spears made primarily for melee.
Nobles, knights included, wear a full set of chain mail, greaves, bracers, full helmets, and, if they use a one-handed weapon, a round shield. The chain mail hanging from their helmets usually covers their whole neck and is stuffed into their hauberk, to prevent the existence of any weak spots. Beneath their full suit of mail they wear padded clothing for comfort and to cushion the impact of blows. For weapons they prefer arming swords, battleaxes, and greataxes. Thanks to their wealth, nobles are often able to afford steel weapons. Very rich nobles can even afford wearing steel armor made by Firehorn smiths. Despite the heavy armor and high quality weapons, Gren nobles prefer to ride into battle on the backs of their ironheads. If they can afford it, then they enhance the already strong natural armor of their ironheads by giving them chain mail. This makes them even tougher and lowers their exposure to pain. The saddle on an ironhead is located right behind the shoulders, roughly in the middle between the tip of the head and the end o the rump. While it is a secure place to sit, the rider is so far above the ground that he can't exactly attack those beneath well. A noble simply has to rely on the ironhead's mighty charge and stomp to kill his foes. The leg holders of the saddles are quite heavily armored so the enemy infantry bellow can't so easily harm the rider's legs, while the rider himself can't really hurt them.
The only war machines and siege engines the Gren Kingdom utilizes are siege towers, ladders, battering rams, and tension based catapults. These catapults can be use rocks or bolts as ammunition. The bolt throwers are simply oversized crossbows, built with reinforced bows and thicker strings. The rock throwers are also oversized crossbows, but they feature a throwing arm, which holds the rock. To improve its flight properties, the Gren shape the rocks into orbs as good as they can. Both rock and bolt throwers are installed on the walls of the mightiest cities and castles; they are quite effective at destroying attacking forces and their own siege engines. Gren even install the bolt catapults on carts to use them in field battles. They are quite effective at taking down flying foes, such as Sokan Trezkul, or simply at causing chaos among enemy formations. Overall, the usage of war machines is rather rare, because of the low amount of people capable of producing them within the Gren Kingdom. The rather low amount of education among the populace is to blame for this.
Gren nobles learn how to command troops in battle, but they do not learn about advanced tactics. They primarily learn how to keep their troops in good spirits, how to rally them properly, and how charge the foe. Most of a noble's experience comes simply from trial and error. Books about war are scarce. This has led to rather straightforward approaches to combat. Overall, melee combat is preferred to ranged combat, because fighting a foe before he is in reach is cowardly. Most people also simply do not know how to use a bow. Hence only a small chunk of a Gren army consists of archers.
The melee fighters form a single formation. They stand rather close together and rely on their shields to survive the hail of projectiles that comes before the lines clash, if they fight in an open field. The first lines of fighters tend to be made of the poorer warriors, while the wealthier, better equipped ones stand behind them as a form of reserve. Every warrior has a shield, so they form a shield wall when they clash with the foe. They use their shields to bash them and shove them, while at the same time trying to hack or stab at them with their weapons. The Gren are not nearly as disciplined as the Sokans, so their formations tend to be looser and fall apart easier. However, the more professional warriors of the Gren are more skilled at one-on-one combat than the Sokans are, so when the formation falls apart, the Gren send in the better skilled and equipped reserve to deal with the issue. Should the formation hold, the reserve can be used to flank the foe.
While the fighters either assault the enemy or defend their position, the archers give supportive fire, pelting the enemy with arrows whenever they can, as long as there's no risk of hitting their own people. Due to the short range of their shortbows, the archers have to stand almost right behind their allies. They fire at will, picking targets freely and loosen an arrow when they feel ready to. Some leaders try to have their archers fire in salvos instead, so that they may target whole enemy groups instead of individual targets. This greatly improves their efficiency and effect on the foes morale. Many Gren warriors utilize javelins; they hurl them at their foes before the lines clash, just to soften up the ranks. Even while the melee is already ongoing, the lines behind the first may throw their javelins in an attempt to distract foes and make them easier targets.
The infantry binds the enemy in a melee and the archers shoot at them to weaken their ranks, but it is the knights who shatter them. Once the enemy infantry is deeply involved in the fighting, the ironhead-riding knights flank the foe and run them down. It is also possible to have the own infantry step aside and then run through the enemy from the front, but this often ends with at least a few friendlies dead under the feet of the large war mounts, because not everyone is able to disengage quick enough. The ironheads simply use their mass to just run down enemies and quite literally stomp them into the ground. Few are brave enough to hold their ground when faced with an ironhead charge. Once the massive herbivores are surrounded by hostile fighters, the knights have to make an effort to break out, otherwise they risk their mounts becoming enraged. Enraged ironheads do not care about friend or foe, they run down whoever is perceived as a threat.
Avog riders receive a different role most of the time. They do not use their feline-shaped, lizard-like mounts to charge enemy formations, but to guard the ironheads. Sokans use their own avogs to try and counter the ironheads or flank the Gren, so the Gren use their own avogs to counter those of the Sokans. If there's no cavalry to fight, the Gren avog riders try to flank the enemy themselves. They're quite good at it. Avogs are terrifying beasts in battle; their claws and teeth make short work of the average warrior on foot.
If a Gren army is faced with monstrosities, such as the Sokan tanzapos or Trezkul, then they rely on spears, bows, and bolt throwers to kill them. Enough warriors with spears can kill anything after all, just getting the Trezkul to land can be a bit difficult. Usually the Gren also hire beastslayers when they go to war, to utilize them and their expertise against the foe's beasts. Kulslayers are an even better choice, because they count to the best warriors of the entire realm. They also know how to produce Varhal's Wrath, a toxin that causes kul to tire to the point of landing. When applied to the bolts of Gren war machines, it can turn the tide of battle against the Sokan Trezkul in the favor of the Western Kingdom.
Gryphons, wyverns, Trezkul, avogs, and more; the list of creatures that would attack Gren or eat their livestock is long. Centuries of having to deal with these beasts have led to the founding of the beastslayer guild in 331 ar. It was founded by Richarlf Lorolfson, a renowned slayer of many beasts. Richarlf was old and experienced when he founded the guild, and he did it solely to help in fighting the wilderness by properly organizing the mercenaries who willingly hunted beast for coin. His ideas took a bit to spread across the Suwehbish Kingdom, the predecessor to the Gren Kingdom, but they eventually resulted in a properly organized guild of beastslayers. Nowadays, whenever beasts terrorize the countryside, the locals hire beastslayers to take care of the issue. Usually it is the local lord who hires them. If the lord isn't willing or too poor to hire beastslayers, the affected communities throw their money together and hire a group of beastslayers themselves.
To hire a group of beastslayers, the client has to set up a bounty contract, which is more commonly called a "slayer contract". They do so with the help of scribes and experienced, retired beastslayers within the guild houses of the beastslayers. They've to describe what's terrorizing them to the best of their ability. The retired slayer will try to figure out what pest is plaguing their lands and the scribe will write down the contract properly. Sometimes the slayer takes over both positions, if no scribe is available. Setting up a contract alone already costs a few thalers. The fee varies from region to region, but roughly amounts to ten thalers. This is quite a sum for the average commoner. Once the contract has been formulated, it is pinned to the guild house's bounty board for traveling beastslayers to find.
These guild houses can be found in every town and city of the Gren Kingdom. The bigger the city, the better the guild house. A typical guild house is simply a tavern, which reserves its best rooms for traveling beastslayers and features a bounty board where it can be easily seen. A beastslayer can be sure to always receive food, drink, and shelter for a good price in the guild houses. The keeper of the guild house usually has good relations with the local crafters, so they know where beastslayers can buy and repair equipment for a fair price. The wealthier guild houses of the major cities even employ their own smiths, leatherworkers, and similar crafters. The keeper of a guild house is always a retired, very experienced beastslayer, who preferably but not necessarily originates from the area. Owning a tavern is a nice form of retirement after decades of putting one's life on the line to slay the most dangerous creatures in Threa. The keepers are also the ones who collect the contracts and write them down, if they don't hire a scribe for the latter task. The bigger guild houses usually have multiple keepers; the oldest one is the boss.
Not only does the guild ensure that beastslayers can always find places to stay, as long as they have the coin to pay for it, they also help them get the money they are owed. Should a noble not pay for a completed contract, and the beastslayer can prove he was indeed successful, then the guild will threaten the noble into paying it. The threat is quite simply: "If you don't pay us, we will never take your contracts again." This is rather dangerous for the noble, if another beast terrorizes his demesne again. However, the guild does not control its members. It doesn't even register them or list them. So, beastslayers can still work for the noble, but they usually do not take contracts that are not sanctified by the guild, since that means the guild won't back them up if the contractor is unwilling to pay.
As this implies, the guild doesn't have an intricate, permanent organization. It doesn't even have much of a leadership, it only has the guild houses and their keepers. These keepers sometimes get together or at least send each other messages to make sure that the houses are doing fine and to discuss matters of beastslayer, but they don't order each other around. What's rather interesting is, that the guild houses don't belong to the keepers, but to the "beastslayers as a whole", as states a Suwehbish King's edict from 339 ar. The houses simply belong to all beastslayers and the keepers have to maintain them, if they intend to make use of them and the money they can earn with them. Speaking of money, the guild houses finance themselves. Each has its own treasury. Their main sources of income are the tavern services and other services they offer to beastslayers and other people. It has also become tradition among beastslayers to donate a bit of each contract to the guild house they got the contract from as a sign of their gratitude.
But who exactly are beastslayers? Simply anyone who claims it and can back it up with trophies. Non-Trezlin can be beastslayers as well, even some Wolshaks have picked up this trade. There aren't many Gren willing and able to face the fierce creatures that roam Threa's wilderness, so the few that are usually know each other. It is the job of the house keepers to ensure that only beastslayers make use of their guild houses' special services. To prove that a person is a beastslayer, that person has to show off trophies and tell the story of their kill. Having another, known beastslayer vouch for them helps as well. It is up to the keeper to decide if they consider them a beastslayer or not. Basically, it is a lot about trust and the fact that most Gren are too honorable to just lie about being a beastslayer when they are not. By commoners and nobles alike, beastslayers are seen as heroes, who protect the realm from monsters. The fact they only do it for coin matters little, likely because there's also a few kind souls who protect a village for less than what they would usually demand.
Beastslayers in general make a lot of money. Not only do are they paid fat bounties, they can also make a lot of money by selling parts they cut from their quarries. Many superstitions formed around the effects the pieces of certain animals can have in potions and concoctions. Not all of it is superstition even; certain parts of these animals do have beneficial effects when consumed in the right way. And the meat of many creatures, even of kul, is seen as a delicacy. This has made beastslayers quite rich, but they usually do not live long enough to use most of their money. Being a beastslayer is a dangerous job. Those do become old become guild house keepers, as stated.
Due to their wealth, beastslayers are well equipped with self-bought weapons and armor. The wealthiest can even afford steel. To remain mobile, they usually wear full sets of leather armor, which are at most enhanced by adding a few metal pieces to them. Dodging the strikes of a beast is more important to beastslayers than trying to put some metal between its teeth and their hide. Beastslayers are extremely dexterous and even dodge a kul's claws with rolls and leaps. When beastslayers use one-handed weapons, they also wield round shields. It doesn't help against a kul, but it can help against wargs and other relatively small beasts. When they fight bigger creatures, they prefer to wield their weapon with two hands, if possible. The extra strength helps pierce thick skin and scale.
Most commonly beastslayers use arming swords and spears. The former is most useful against smaller foes and other humanoids, while the spear is a classic when it comes to hunting beasts. Ranged combat is seen as cowardly, this is doubly true when facing beasts as a beastslayers. Yet some use heavy crossbows, if only to attack flying targets. The bolts of these crossbows fly fast and can penetrate about any creature's armor; the perfect choice for a beastslayer. Unfortunately they cost a lot of money and are only available from Firehorn merchants or secondary sellers. They are certainly worth the investment.
Beastslayers are also generally able to afford buying a mount and paying for the reoccurring costs it creates. While some do have the money for it, beastslayers do not ride ironheads. They are too slow and hard to maneuver to be of use in a hunt. Beastslayers prefer avogs, if they intend to fight the beast with the help of their mounts, and daebis, if they need the speed to hand their quarry. Unfortunately, daebis are cowardly, making them useless in a fight, but they are quick enough to chase down any creature. Avogs are braver, brave enough to even attack kul alongside their rider. The downside is that avogs are a little slower, which can make chasing a beast difficult.
Despite their skill and equipment, almost no beastslayer hunts alone. They band together with other beastslayers, sometimes temporarily, sometimes even permanently. If they face an exceptionally tough challenge, they might even hire other mercenaries to assist them. Often these simple warriors serve as nothing but meat for the grinder, a distraction for the target. But the best weapons, best teamwork, and best meaty distraction won't result in a glorious kill if the target is dangerous like a wyvern or a whole pack of avogs. Then the beastslayers also require wit and knowledge, and they have a lot of both. If there's one group of people in the Gren Kingdom who know tons about the local, dangerous fauna, then it is the beastslayers.
They also possess a great knowledge of herbs, so that they may use them to tend to the plentiful wounds they are likely to acquire when they practice their profession. However, despite the knowledge they possess, they refuse to use poison against their targets. It is seen as dishonorable. There's only one poison they utilize - Varhal's Wrath. As the name indicates, it originates from the legendary kulslayer and king Varhal. All the poison does is tire the muscles of a kul or beasts closely related to them, to prevent that they fly far away. Even small amounts last for a long time, and force the kul to land sooner or later, making it possible for the slayers to hunt them down on their mounts. Once the prey of the slayers tired and landed, they proceed to engage it and, hopefully, slay it.
As stated, anyone who can prove that they slay beasts for a living is a beastslayer, but only very few end up doing that on their own. Most beastslayers begin their careers as apprentices to more experienced men of their trade. From their mentors they learn all they need to know to become proper beastslayers themselves. Once they feel ready, they either stick to their mentor or may leave and travel the world on their own. Some even travel outside of the Gren Kingdom; they offer their services in Treztown and more rarely in the Sokan Empire. Others pick a region and stay in it. Whatever they do, they try their best to acquire many trophies and a good reputation. It is all that they have to prove their status after all.
The best status a beastslayer can acquire is that of a kulslayer. Most will have lived and died without ever having even attempted to hunt a kul down, but those that do and end up being successful earn great prestige within the guild and in the entire realm. Whoever killed a kul may refer to themselves as kulslayer - among the most prestigious title anyone can have, even a noble. However, killing a kul with means such as war machines, entire warbands of archers, or with poison does not count. Tales and songs will be written about their heroic display of skill and valor. A common symbol among kulslayers is wearing the fangs of their first kill as a necklace, so that the teeth hang over the middle, upper part of their chest.
Matters of foreign affairs are the king's duty. He alone decides on what diplomatic policies the Gren Kingdom follows, but the dukes do advice him. It is unwise to ignore their suggestions, especially when initiating a war. Starting a war without the support of the nobility usually leads to the king lacking an army to wage it with. Overall, diplomacy with other nations mattered more in the past than it does in the present. A few centuries ago, the Gren Kingdom still had many neighbors to deal with. Nowadays there's fewer neighbors and many of the former neighbors have become part of the Gren Kingdom. This turned a large number of foreign affairs into internal affairs. Nowadays the king negotiates more with his own nobility than foreign diplomats.
When the king engages in diplomacy with another mighty realm, such as the Sokan Empire, he usually negotiates the deals himself, unless the issue at hand isn't that dire. Then he may send a high-ranking noble out to represent the kingdom in the king's stead. During talks with other cultures, the Gren aren't exactly keen on adapting to the other's customs. The practice of sending a noble to lead diplomatic talks instead of the king is much more commonly used internally, at least when the king wants to negotiate with an indirect vassal. The dukes usually receive his direct attention, anything else could be seen as an insult. Insulting the dukes rarely ends well, as implied previously.
The usual foreign policy of the Gren Kingdom is to remain peaceful and on good terms, but they would never bend over backwards to achieve this. Remaining peaceful is not their policy because they are pacifists, they're far from that, but simply out of the best interest of the Western Kingdom. They only have three countries they primarily deal with - Treztown, the Firehorn Hightribe, and the Sokan Empire - and they do not want to start a war or hostilities with any of the three; the Gren know well that it wouldn't end well and could cause a chain reaction.
External relations of the Gren Kingdom have been going alright. The Western Kingdom receives merchants from all neighboring countries and sends its own to their lands, but the Gren can only consider a singular proper country their friend, which is the Monarchy of the Free Caverns. Additionally, the Gren Kingdom also has two allies - the Free City State of Treztown and the Firehorn Hightribe - but they can't be considered friends. Its biggest enemy is the Sokan Empire.
The Monarchy of the Free Caverns is a friend to the Gren Kingdom, because they both share a dislike for kul and gladly trade with each other. Without the free Hozlin the Gren would not know how to produce iron usable in smithing. Sharing this technology bought the trust of the Gren and thus a reliable trading partner for the free Hozlin. Although they consider each other friends and engage in commerce, they would not support defend each other's land. Neither cares about the other's wars and enemies. The Gren Kingdom doesn't even have contact to the enemy of the Free Caverns, which is the HozReok.
Treztown and the Gren Kingdom can't be considered friends, despite their agreement to help each other in times of war, because the latter would like to vassalize the city state. But the Gren do not dare to attack Treztown. Such aggression could lead to the Sokan Empire invading the west right after Treztown fell, which would be devastating for the Gren. Treztown serves as a divider between the two grand realms, which have been entangled in a great war more than three centuries ago.
The Firehorn Hightribe has a good relationship with the Gren Kingdom, despite the fact that the Firehorn Hightribe is led by Blazkul. However, the Firehorns wouldn't consider themselves friends of the Gren; they are simply too different. Hence the two countries do not like each other; they merely benefit each other. As long as the Gren sell enough grain to feed the Firehorns' growing population, the Firehorns will send their troops to support the Gren Kingdom in times of need. It is in the two countries' mutual interest to support each other, no matter their stance on each other's culture or ideology. Without the Blazkul backing the Gren up, the Trezlin of the west would have a hard time dealing with the Sokans' Trezkul war mounts.
As implied, the Sokan Empire is considered an arch enemy. The Sokans lay a claim on all land that their holy Sun shines upon, especially the regions that lie between the taiga and the rainforest - this is an insult to anyone who lives there and doesn't wish to live beneath the rule of the Emperor. This fact is a heavy burden on the relationship between the two countries, but yet it has not led to war so far. Neither side can afford another great war, because neither side is sure who would win. So instead of fighting each other, they trade with each other. This trade is beneficial to both sides, but it does not help ease the ideological and religious difference between the two historic rivals.
Most of the Gren's tribal neighbors are at peace with the Western Kingdom. Sozlin tribes have the best relationship to the Gren Kingdom. Sozlin tribes are allowed to exist on the shores of the Gren Kingdom. No Gren is permitted to prevent this; they may not even try and settle on the shores of the ocean, so they do not rival the Sozlin tribes for land. This has been ensured by an indefinite royal edict in 465 ar. Truzlin tribes also have a good connection to the Gren. Dukedom Manhomir and the Truzlin just north of it gladly exchange wares. Pelts from the north are highly valued during Threa's cold winters. Wolshaks have an ambivalent relation to the Gren Kingdom. Wild Wolshaks are hunted and killed, civilized Wolshaks accepted as fellow Gren and relatively well received.
Only the tribes of the Riz have purely hostile feelings towards the Gren Kingdom. Both sides are to blame for this. In search for exotic and thus expensive goods, some daring Gren wander into the Starless Jungle and exploit it, harm its flora and fauna. In the eyes of the Riz, this is desecration! Easily enough a reason to fight them wherever the Riz meet them. Sometimes it is the Riz tribes who fuel the hostilities; they do go out of their way to raid Gren communities occasionally. All in all, both realms are hostile to each other. Even Dukedom Thvijhom is affected by this. At least the Riz do not raid it as often and the Thvijomians, except the Drivek, never bother taking from the rainforest.
The Republic of the Zule isn't considered a proper country by the Gren Kingdom. Gren see Aezkul as pests that try to steal their land. This isn't technically a lie, depending on what perspective one has on the matter. Over a thousand years ago, the Aezkul claimed all mountain ranges in Threa, including Threa's Spine and Varhal's Ridge. When the war in the Aezrikka Zule escalated, these Aezkul left their mountain ranges to fight in the Zule instead. While the Aezkul were gone, the humanoids of the Temperate Zone began taming chunks of the land, including the mountain ranges. Hence the Gren see parts of Threa's Spine and especially Varhal's Ridge as their own ground. The Gren defend it as such by killing any Aezkul who dares to reclaim old outposts and communities in the mountains. As a result, the two countries hate each other, are technically in a state of conflict, and could never live alongside in peace, not until the Gren stop their, in the eyes of the Republic, senseless slaughter of Aezkul.
|Nation ▼||Relation ▼|
|Hoz Kingdom||No contact (cautious)|
|Monarchy of the Free Caverns||Peace|
|Republic of the Zule||Minor conflict|
|Riz Tribes||Minor conflict|
|Blazewhips||No contact (hostile)|
|Emberspikes||No contact (hostile)|
|Fireclaws||No contact (hostile)|
|Flamewings||No contact (hostile)|
|Wolshak Packs||Minor conflict|
Guarantee of Sozlin Independence (465 ar - ???): This is a royal edict and not a treaty, but it is an official document that defines the diplomatic situation between the Sozlin tribes and the Gren Kingdom and thus worthy of being mentioned here. In 465 ar, the first Gren King Bjorn I. decided to guarantee the Independence of the Sozlin tribes. Since then the Gren Kingdom allows the Sozlin tribes on its land to live on their own and thrive, as long as they remain peaceful and stick to the shores. They are consider sovereign entities that exist on the Western Kingdom's soil, which also puts them under the protection of the Gren King. Any tribe that lived further inland when the edict was declared had to move to the shores or dissolve. To protect the habitat of the Sozlin and prevent conflict, Gren may not found communities nearby the shore, neither may they build large harbors outside of Thirpofen. Gren communities, apart from Thirpofen, that lived nearby the shore had to be abandoned. In return for their guaranteed ownership of the shores, the Sozlin aren't permitted to go too deep inland when hunting, foraging, or cutting wood. To sum it up, the Sozlin have been granted free reign over most of the shore, while the Trezlin have free reign over the inland.
Pact of the Western Alliance (467 ar - ???): This defensive pact of the Firehorn Hightribe, the Gren Kingdom, and Treztown was negotiated in 467 ar. The pact basically says that the three partners will defend each other against any aggressions from the Sokan Empire. In the fall of the very year of the pact's creation, the Firehorn Hightribe, the Free City State of Treztown, and the Gren Kingdom had to declare war on the Sokan Empire as the Western Alliance, because the Sokan Empire, as expected, invaded Treztown. Nowadays, after more than three centuries, the pact is still active, because the partners still benefit from it. Battlelord Aruk negotiated with King Bjorn I. and later King Ulfrid I. to create this pact. Treztown agreed right away to the Firehorn's diplomatic efforts.
Peace Treaty of ??? (4?? ar): This is the peace treaty negotiated between the Western Alliance (Treztown, Gren Kingdom, Firehorn Hightribe) and the Sokan Empire. (MORE TO BE DETERMINED)
Gren respect strength, bravery, and hard work, but care little for being cultured. This has caused them to approve more of their primitive, tribal neighbors than of their civilized ones. Foreign cultures are of little interest. Not even the nobles are very interested in exotic goods. They buy Sokan wine, enjoy some fruits from the jungle, wear pelts from the tundra, but in the end they prefer whatever their own land grants them for everyday use. Home is where the heart is, and the hearts of the Gren, at least the Trezlin, are firmly rooted into the lands of their birth.
Although the Sozlin tribes live on land that is claimed by the Gren, they are welcome to stay. Sozlin hunt the pesky Sozkul, sell their fish on the Grens' markets, and generally do not clash with the inhabitants of the kingdom. In the last millennium, the Trezlin and Sozlin have been friends for the most part. This friendship is supported by the crown, hence the Guarantee of Sozlin Independence was granted by the first Gren King. Common people usually treat Sozlin as well as they would treat any local. It is quite common for Gren who live nearby the shores to know some pieces of Soz. This is especially noticeable in Thirpofen, where the largest minority of Sozlin lives.
Truzlin are well received, because of the harsh environment they manage to withstand. Gren approve of their toughness and endurance. When looking at the harsh taiga and how the Truzlin brave it, especially the Manhomers feel reminded of their own early history. Having been peaceful neighbors for centuries has created lasting bonds between the border towns and the nomadic tribes. Gren and Truzlin generally treat each other with respect and no Gren king would want to upset the northerners by expanding further into the Boreal Zone than the Gren Kingdom already has. It is too inhospitable and not suitable for farming anyway.
Wolshak packs are seen as a pest that ought to be erased, while Wolshak citizens are simply seen as simple minded, but good people. Most Gren feel a bit uneasy around the Wolshaks, because they respect them for their great strength, but they do not fear them. Civilized Wolshaks are actually quite useful and well-liked if they work, which they usually do. Commonly they work as hunters and mercenaries, because they're quite good at both. The Gren approve. There's also a bunch of Wolshaks that work as farmers, but the Gren do not respect that any less. A hard working man is a proper man, so say the Gren. On the other side are wild Wolshaks. They are the bane of villages and can even spell trouble for a small town, if multiple packs band together. Even the rather brave Gren fear them thus; this is one of the reasons that even small villages feature tall fences and trained militias.
Treztown's people are disliked by the Gren, because they accept kul as fellow citizens. They do accept the hard truth that Treztown is the only thing that stands between the Sokan Empire and their own kingdom, thus it is still seen as a necessary ally. Most nobles would prefer to vassalize the city state and tax the wealthy population themselves, while culling all kul in and around the town. A very unlikely outcome of events as long as the Empire remains and the Firehorns uphold good relations with the city state. Overall, the Gren also see people that hail from Treztown as soft city folk that do not know hardship. Thus they disapprove of them and it takes time for the average person from Treztown to gain the trust of the Gren. Thirpofians have a different view on Treztown's people, because both are traders by nature.
While they usually hate kul, the Gren tolerate the Firehorns. They are simply seen as a necessary evil. Without them, the Gren Kingdom would have fallen into the hands of the Sokan Empire. Unfortunately, people have almost forgotten that. At least the Blazkul are smart enough to only send their Blazlin to trade with the people of the west. No Firehorn got anywhere close to the Gren Kingdom ever since the Great War ended. Blazlin, due to their combat skills, are approved of and respected, but their traders are considered cunning bastards.
Rizlin are seen as primitive jungle dwellers, despite being skilled warriors. So skilled at ambushing and sneaking in fact, that the Gren have begun to be scared of them while at the same time considering them cowards for their choice of tactics and for favoring the bow. Warriors do not dare to enter areas where Rizlin have been spotted, unless in large groups and lead by a daring captain. Luckily there's plenty of that sort among the Vandellarians. Rizlin are also seen as the servants of demons, since they readily treat the Rizkul as gods. Rizlin who try to live among the Gren or simply enter the realm from another country are met with suspicion. That many Rizlin within the Gren Kingdom turn to crime to make a living only makes matters worse.
Despite the Aezkul's best efforts at peace, the blue kul have a terrible reputation among the Gren. They're seen as intruders who try to take land that rightfully belongs to the Gren since many generations. They aren't exactly wrong, but neither are the Aezkul. The land did belong to the Wind Kingdoms more than a millennium ago. While for the Aezkul this is a time of mediocre length, it is an eternity to the Gren. Overall, both sides hate each other. The Gren see the Aezkul as beasts meant to be hunted, the Aezkul see the Gren as savages.
Sokans are considered to be the arch enemy by the Gren. This feeling is mutual. Both nations have always struggled for dominance in Temperate Zone and if it were not for Treztown blocking the passage from east to west, then the Sokans would have won that struggle already. It is undeniable that the Empire is mightier than the Kingdom, but the Gren would never admit it nor let themselves be annexed without a fight. Sokans are despised, because they are considered arrogant and evil, due to their deeds during the Great War and the fact that they enslave all non-Trezlin. What the Gren do respect is the Sokan's military strength, but they disapprove of their Trezkul mounts. Kul are meant to be slain, not tamed. Anyone who is able to tame kul is obviously allied to Yggrax and thus a sworn enemy of all followers of Yggorum!
The economy of the Gren Kingdom is mostly controlled by the feudal lords, but allows a free exchange of goods in theory. However, the nobility dominates the trade, because the nobles are the owners of almost all natural resources and, due to tithes, surpluses of agricultural and artisan goods. Commoners simply do not possess enough to involve themselves in the markets on a large scale. Small-scale trading, for example what happens on the local town market, is dominated by the common people. Farmers sell what little surplus they have left over after paying their taxes and artisans offer their products and services. They do so without any sort of guild or company limiting their actions. At most the local baron puts a limit on how expensive certain goods can be, to prevent that prices out of food spiral out of control in dire times.
While nobles are the ones who possess enough wares to sell, they do not like to become merchants. Engaging in commerce is not seen as a profession worthy of a titled noble's time, so the nobles hire commoners or lesser nobles to do the trading in their stead. Employed traders are allowed to keep a share of the profit, which is quite lucrative. Lesser nobles are the best candidates for the job, because they are educated but don't think they're above becoming a merchant. Some noble families even send their younger members away to become traders, so they see the world, or at least the kingdom, and learn how to negotiate and acquire other important social and business skills. Landowners of common birth, who somehow produce enough goods to sell, can also engage in trade; there's no laws that prevent them from doing so. However, few commoners own any land that allows them to produce natural resources. Nobles do not readily sell mines or quarries. What makes matters worse is that commoners can't pass their land down to their children, so they are even further discouraged from trying to become producers of resources themselves.
When commoners want to acquire goods, they usually barter for them. Farmers exchange chickens for tools, hunters trade pelts for a barrel of beer, and so on and so forth. How to make basic items, such as clothing, crude tools, and containers, is common knowledge among the Gren. Small communities are also in favor of sharing goods. For example, one family's women may be good at making shoes, so they offer them to the whole village, and in return they receive the leather needed to make them. Within towns, specialized artisans actually exist and they exchange their products for whatever they need.
Nobility and other wealthy people prefer to exchange coins for goods and services. Two kinds of coins exist in the Gren Kingdom. There's the thaler (pl. thalers), a round coin made out of gold, and the sjod (pl. sjods), a round coin made out of silver. Thalers carry imagery of the kingdom, while sjods always display the symbol of the dukedom they were minted in. Gold is very pricey, so thalers are entirely out of the reach of commoners. A thaler is roughly worth two Treztown pounds, because they are thicker and a bit larger than the small gold coin of the city state. A sjod is worth as much as eight Treztown pence. Sjods are barely in the reach of commoners. They mostly end up in their hands if wealthier people buy something from them. When commoners want to pay without bartering, then they use small round balls of silver. These are referred to as sjid and their value varies with their weight. Lucky every tavern and merchant usually owns a small scale.
As mentioned multiple times before, taxes exist in the Gren Kingdom. It is the right of the feudal lords to demand them from their serfs, landowning subjects, and direct vassals. Serfs pay their tax in the form of labor and a share of what they produce, their tithe. Landowners pay their taxes with coins or with a share of what their land produces. Noble vassals pay their taxes to their lord by demanding taxes from their own subjects. How high the taxes are depends on the lord in question, who sets them as high as necessary to pay for any expenses and especially pay his own taxes. Tax laws also vary from demesne to demesne. Every noble can handle it differently, but most prefer to stick to a flat tax that only differs between nobles and commoners. It takes the least effort to administrate. Usually, how many taxes a vassal has to pay depends on how much land they own.
Something to note is that slavery is legal in the Gren Kingdom, but its economy doesn't depend on them, unlike the economy of the Sokan Empire. Enslaving a criminal is seen as reasonable punishment; the scoundrel in question shall make up for their wrongdoing by working for whoever they wronged. If the wrong do not desire the labor, then the criminal shall work for the wrong one's lord. But not all slaves are criminals. Some slaves were taken as spoils of war. Vandellarians, who dare to enter the Starless Jungle to gather exotic goods, sometimes also manage to capture Rizlin. They then sell those to Gren or even to the Sokans. At least the children of slaves are considered free people in the Gren Kingdom, which further differs slavery in the Gren Kingdom from slavery in the Sokan Empire.
Onward to what the lands of the Gren Kingdom produces. They consist of plains (Ironhead Flatlands), densely grown forests, and a few mountain ranges. Most of the land is very fertile and the Gren eagerly make use of that. Grain sways in the wind where trees once stood and livestock, such as cattle, sheep, and even ironheads, graze on verdant meadows. The many rivers that naturally flow through the realm contain many fish and other kinds of sea food, adding even more easily available protein to the Gren's diet. While the woods are dangerous, they are also teeming with wildlife that can be hunted for meat and fur. Hunting is not a noble privilege; anyone is permitted to hunt. Overall, the agricultural output of the Gren Kingdom is enormous; there's enough to sell abroad.
Wood, stone, and metal can all be found in more than adequate amounts in the Gren Kingdom. Although the land is poor in silver and copper, it is rich in iron, tin and gold. Varhal's Ridge contains most of the gold and tin, while Threa's Northern Spine is the best place to find iron, and the Southern Spine features veins of copper. However, these copper veins are not enough to supply the entire realm with bronze. Iron ore is way more common, which is why the Gren are so glad to have been taught by the free Hozlin how to turn it into usable metal it. Clay pits are also a common sight, as are lumber camps, but quarries are not nearly as common. Proper stone is expensive, since it is highly sought after for fortifications. Wood is available in huge amounts and thus extremely cheap. A wide range of wood is available, too. Some Vandellarians acquire lumber from the rainforest, which is quite resilient and pretty, while the Manhomers use sturdy pines. Given the sheer abundance of wood, lords usually allow their subject to cut down as many trees as they desire so that they can acquire the materials for their houses themselves.
Every commoner who is of age and able to work has to work. This includes both men and women, but women aren't expected or even desired to do harsh jobs. Most men are simple farmers, who work the fields to feed their families, pay their tithe, and sell whatever they have left over on the nearby market. The women take care of the house, the children, and produce various basic items for the whole community, such as clothing, shoes, candles, and baskets. They also cure meat and fish, separate chaff from the grain, and do other jobs that complete the work of the males. Some also go out on the fields themselves, help with the harvest directly. Fishing is also a common side-job for men; it is the safest way to acquire protein next to keeping livestock, which is also common, especially in the form of chickens, pigs, and sheep. Cattle is costly, so cattle herds usually belong to nobles, who then pay commoners to take care of them. Hunters exist as well. It is a very common profession for Wolshaks, who are even better adapted to hunting for meat than the omnivorous lin.
Specialized artisans are the second biggest group of workers, but they are very few compared to the huge amount of subsistence farmers. Most artisans in the Gren kingdom are smiths, carpenters, and tailors. Smiths and carpenters are needed by the commoners as much as they are needed by the nobles. They produce goods for everyday use after all. The tailors are more important to the nobility and other wealthy people than they are to commoners, because commoners cannot afford fancy clothing. Masons and other jobs related to construction are almost non-existent, because the Gren don't put that much effort into their buildings. It is usually enough to teach the commoners how to build something. It may not look as pretty as it could in the end, but it will hold and fulfill its function. Most simple buildings are even build by commoners on their own, without the help of architects or craftsmen. Overall, the Gren artisans are capable and their products are of a good quality, even if they are rarely lavishly decorated. Ornamented items are reserved for the wealthier social classes. The items made by the farmers and their wifes are crude, but functional.
Job opportunities in business are rare. Every producer sells their products on their own; there's no such thing as stores. At most a craftsman may let his wife or another family member handle the selling and buying, while he himself focuses on the crafting of the goods. There are a few peddling merchants. They buy what they can from artisans and farmers, then try to sell it to whoever needs it. Peddling merchants are well received, because they always have something one can need. This is quite helpful in a bartering economy. Traders who move wares from one place to another at a large scale are usually people hired by nobles or lesser members of noble families, as explained in the Economy main section.Academic professions are almost non-existent. Architects, engineers and scholars are extremely rare. Most academics are nobles, who have enough time to study a specific field or busy themselves with acquiring more knowledge on their own. Nobles usually prefer practical knowledge, such as architecture or engineering. However, academic nobles are a very rare breed. Most prefer to funnel their effort into acquiring riches, power, and prestige. After all, being a titled noble is a profession on its own. Taking care of a demesne is no easy task, no matter how many privileges it brings. Apart from nobles and wealthy people, the only other educated class are the druids. However, their education is focused on medical herbs and how to read the sky, not on architecture or business.
As stated, trading is dominantly handled by the nobility or their hired traders. This applies to internal and external trade. There are no laws prohibiting or limiting who may engage in trade, only whom they may trade with. It is illegal to trade with peoples the crown disapproves of, such as kul or the Riz tribes. Who Gren traders are has been covered in the Economy main section, so it is not further detailed here.
Towns in Gren Kingdom demand tolls from merchants. If a merchant does not pay the toll, he may not enter the marketplace and sell his wares. If he is caught selling them illegally, he is imprisoned. How high the toll is and how it is calculated varies from demesne to demesne. Some lords ask for a flat toll from anyone coming into a town with wares, others make the toll dependent on how many carts a merchant has, and a few actually count the wares the merchant is bringing, and so on and so forth. Thirpofen is the most advanced in this regard. Its guards use employ experienced traders to relatively accurately estimate the worth of the trader's goods, then demand a share of them as a toll. This share is added to the dukedom's possessions.
Most trade happens across land and inland waters. Carts drawn by oxen or ironheads reliably carry wares from one town to the next across compacted dirt roads. If a merchant wants to bring his goods up a mountain, goats are the obvious and most common choice. Using natural waterways is the most efficient way to move wares across Threa, since it is quick and paved roads are extremely rare. The downside of shipping wares is that it is rather expensive, because chartering or outright buying ships is. Yet the most important path for trade the Gren Kingdom has is Threa's Vein. This mighty river connects Thirpofen with Treztown and Treztown with the core lands of the Sokan Empire.
When the Firehorn Hightribe wants to trade with the Gren, then it sends its merchant vessels to Thirpofen's harbor. Sometimes the Gren even send ships of their own over to Openwaters Harbor, the only port in the desert that is open to non-Blaz. In Thirpofen, the Firehorns unload their trade goods and load whatever they bought. Then they sail back home, while the wares they sold are spread across the entire kingdom and even make their way to Treztown and the Sokan Empire, thanks to Threa's Vein.
Most of the Gren Kingdom's exports consist of metal and metal items. It exports iron, tin, and gold. The iron primarily goes to Treztown and a bit of it also goes to the Firehorns. Treztown doesn't buy raw iron; it mostly purchases iron items, such as weapons for its guards or tools for its people. The Firehorn Hightribe have a demand for iron ingots; they turn them into steel at home. Tin gets into the hands of Treztown and the Sokan Empire. Both mix it with copper, producing bronze, and use it to make various things. A notable chunk of Gren tin is used by the Sokans to produce weapons and armor for their own military. It may not be wise to sell your archenemy a metal that is important for their military, but it is certainly profitable. Gold is sold to both Treztown and the Empire. Both use it for decorative purposes; the former also uses it to mint coins.
Another very lucrative export is selling products made by Firehorns. The desert-dwellers don't like to move deep inland to sell their wares; they just want to empty their cargo hold, fill it with grain, and be go home. Thus they sell all their wares to Gren traders in Thirpofen, who then move them to places far away from home. Firehorn jewelry even makes it all the way to the Sokan Empire! It fetches a very good price there, since the Sokan wealthy elite loves beautiful items made out of gold.
The Western Kingdom also exports a fair share of its agricultural products. Grain, salted fish, and cured meat is sold in great amounts to Firehorn traders, who bring it all the way back home just to feed the plentiful Blazlin with it. Some of the food the Gren produces also makes its way into the Boreal Zone, where Truzlin tribes barter for it. It's a rather easy way for the Truzlin to fill their stockpiles in preparation for winter.
The Gren Kingdom can supply itself with all necessities. Food, building material, crafting material, and fuel (wood, coal, oil) is all available in large amounts. As a result, only luxury, exotic, and advanced goods are imported from abroad. From the Sokan Empire, the Gren import wine, fancy furniture, art, and similar things. However, importing art and furniture is rather uncommon. Most Gren aren't that great fans of foreign art and prefer whatever their own artisans produce. Buying from the Sokans means buying from the enemy, after all. And "ale's better than wine anyway!", at least in the eyes of the Gren.
From Treztown they import medicine which has been produced by the Aezkul, because the Gren can't purchase it directly from the blue kul, due to their believes and diplomatic relation to them. Merchants selling Aezkul goods often claim they were made in Treztown, so their products don't carry the stigma of kul and thus Yggrax. No matter how sick they are, most Gren are so religious that they would never dare touch medicine made by a kul for fear of becoming even sicker.
Steel items and jewelry are bought form the Firehorns. A steel sword is a very prestigious weapon; it is sturdy, cuts and pierces well, and displays the wealth of the user at the same time. Firehorn jewelry is popular among nobility, but most of it isn't sold in the Gren Kingdom after the Gren merchants bought it. They bring it all the way over to the Sokan Empire and then sell it for a very high price. The Firehorns have realized this, so they have actually begun producing jewelry decorated with images of the sun and other symbols the Sokans like.
All hard drugs, apart from alcohol, are outlawed in the Gren Kingdom. They mess with people's mind and body; the druids disapprove. Yggorum's creation is meant to be pure. Alcoholic beverages are not affected by this, because Yggorum supposedly approves of them. Prickle tea and other substances that have a non-detrimental effect on people are also legal. Druids primarily dislike the various hallucinogens that are brought from the Starless Jungle. Guards arrest anyone caught with these substances. In most cases the punishment is a fine or enslavement. The local feudal lord directly becomes the owner of the slave.
Poisons are illegal. They may not be created, bought, or sold. Even beastslayers do not buy toxins, because it is seen as dishonorable to poison a beast instead of killing it with one's blade or spear. Varhal's Wrath is the only exception to this, since it does not kill the beast outright. Without Varhal's Wrath it would also be many times more difficult to catch flying kul.
The majority of the Gren Kingdom's population consists of Trezlin. The biggest minorities are the Sozlin and Wolshaks. Sozlin primarily live in the coastal towns and villages, especially in Thirpofen, but they can also be found deeper inland. Wolshaks are most commonly found in the northern regions of the Gren Kingdom. Dukedom Suwehb has the largest minority of Wolshaks, in both relative and absolute numbers. Some Truzlin also live in the Gren Kingdom. They can be most commonly found in Dukedom Manhomir, but even there they are rather rare. A rather interesting minority are the Driveks. They're Riz/Trez-hybrids and almost exclusively live in Dukedom Thvijhom.
Most Gren, regardless of their species, live in rural areas. Only a very small part of the Gren population lives in towns. However, even Gren towns are rather rural. They are inhabited primarily by farmers, who tend to fields outside of their towns' walls. Gren communities tend to be few and far between, but in turn they are rather large. Seeking safety in numbers has helped them survive Threa's wilderness. Villages make up the bulk of Gren communities. They count between 100 and 1,000 inhabitants. Only newly founded communities may have less than a hundred people, which makes them vulnerable to hostile Wolshak packs. Towns are more rare and usually have populations ranging from 1,000 to roughly 5,000 inhabitants at most. Only the capitals of the seven dukedoms best this, having up to 10,000 people at most. This means they are small compared to Treztown and the cities that exist in the Sokan Empire.
Most Gren do not become very old. Healthcare is bad, so diseases claim lives rather easily. Minor wars, beasts, and similar dangers further lower the average life expectation of the Gren. People who reach the age of sixty can consider themselves very lucky. At least starvation isn't that much of a problem, thanks to the high fertility of the land. Overall, far more young than old Gren exist. Males and females, despite the fact that males are the warriors and hunters, are almost equal in numbers.
The literacy rate is are extremely low. Schools do not even exist and few people are even be able to teach. Reading and writing are not seen as terribly important skills. Not even all nobles can read and write. Many nobles employ scribes to write messages or read them out. At least all druids know how to read and write, which makes them even more useful as advisers to nobles. The few commoners who do know how to read and write usually charge a high fee for teaching these skills.
All in all, the Gren Kingdom has a low population density and thus a lower population than the Sokan Empire, despite owning so much land. Most of the Gren territory is untamed wilderness, inhabited by beasts and wild Wolshaks. Gren communities usually exist in clusters; new settlements are founded nearby already safe and successful settlements to remain safe themselves. To picture it more clearly: If one wanders through the Gren Kingdom, they will wander through regions where they meet a new village every day as often as they will wander through regions where no one lives at all.
It is the artisans and workers who invent new means of production and other practical things in the Gren Kingdom. They do not actively seek to do so, they merely happen to invent new things while attempting to make their own lives easier. There's no educated elite focused on designing new items or increasing the country's wealth of knowledge. Some nobles, simply out of personal interest, do try to study Threa and its mysteries, but their numbers are few and their work rarely honored. One good example of such a noble is Lady Tavra Shockclaw. She traveled the world, returned with a heap of experiences, and wrote books about them. She still lives today and has become rich thanks to their books, despite having a rather small circle of customers. Summed up, the technological advancement in the Gren Kingdom is very slow going, because the people are focused more on the present, their own lives, and their survival than on the world around them.
Simple put, the Gren Kingdom is in the iron age, at least when it comes to the technologies they possess. They do use iron. It is a very commonly used metal in the kingdom and effectively replaced bronze, which is nowadays more often used for decorative than practical purposes. The iron produced by the Gren is nothing like the steel that the Hightribes or the HozReok produces. It has the same attributes as bronze. Its only advantage is that iron ore is available in greater amounts than copper and tin ore. Bronze has actually become more expensive than iron.
To power mills and any other form of machinery, the Gren rely on their own raw strength or that of animals. Windmills do not exist. Watermills are slowly spreading. The earliest ones can be found in the settlements nearby the border to Treztown, because watermills were invented in the Sokan Empire and have been slowly spreading westward from there. However, watermills are primarily used to grind grain. Ways to use them to power saws or similar devices have not been figured out yet.
Medical knowledge lies entirely in the hands of druids and a few knowledgeable women. All kinds of common herbs are known to the Gren, but complex concoctions or even surgery are far out of their reach. Diseases and illness can depopulate entire counties if not quarantined. Burning corpses and blockading sick villages until every sick inhabitant died is, most of the time, the only way to deal with an epidemic.
In summary, the Gren Kingdom is one of the more advanced civilizations of Threa. It certainly ranks above the various tribal cultures, but is not nearly as advanced as the Blazkul Hightribes, the HozReok, or even the Sokan Empire. When one takes into account how backwards their administration is, they're even further behind the Sokan Empire, despite using iron while the Sokans still use bronze.
The Gren aren't great architects, at least not when comes to aesthetics. They are a simple people; they put functionality first, and their structures usually fulfill their function without any problem. Nobles, in their endless search for prestige, do invest into having more impressive homes, but they never come close to the mansions that Sokans have built. Gren simply lack the experience in masonry and architecture to create such.
Most commoners live in rectangular longhouses, which are far longer than they are broad. The frames of these longhouses are build out of lumber, since it is available in great amounts. The walls are low, but the roofs are taller to make up for that. The empty area between the timber frame of the walls are filled with a mix of clay and twigs. Some homes are also made entirely out of wood and only use clay to seal the gaps between the planks. In some places, commoners even use stones to build the walls of their housing. What building materials are used simply depends on the resources that are locally available. Every house has a wooden door, which usually doesn't have any metal bits, because they're too costly. Sometimes the door is merely a wooden board leaned against the opening. Windows don't exist, because commoners lack access to glass. At most they have small slits in the walls to let fresh air in. When it is cold, they cover the slits with a piece of hide or a board. The floor in most houses is simply compacted dirt. Roofs are sloped to prevent that snow and rain can gather on them and cause them to collapse. Thatch is a common roofing material. It is light and easy to replace, unless wooden shingles. Within every community there's people who know how to erect a longhouse; it doesn't require a lot of skill. When houses need to be built or maintained, every member of a community helps, knowing they can expect that help when they need themselves.
A longhouse is large enough to allow an entire family to live in it. If a Gren family owns any livestock, then it builds an even larger longhouse and designates part of it to be the stable. There their animals can rest safely at night or stay warm in winter. Having the animals inside also helps warm up the house, which reduces the need for firewood. The living area of the home consists of one, maybe two rooms. Everyone lives together their whole life. Privacy is simply not a thing. Everything takes place in the main room, eating, sleeping, and even working. Secondary rooms, if existent, serve as storerooms. Furniture is rather lackluster. Hay sacks or furs serve as bedding; shelves, crates, and simple chests help organize and store things. Smoked fish, dried vegetables and fruits, and similar things just hang from wooden hooks that protrude from support beams. Stools, chairs, and tables are rare. Gren simply sit on the ground while they eat out of wooden bowls or from wooden plates. The centerpiece of every home is the hearth. Here the women of the family prepare meals and the family gathers for warmth, be it the literal warmth of the fire of the warmth granted by social interaction with their loved ones. A hole in the roof allows the smoke to escape; it can be closed with a piece of wood. The hearth is also the only source of light within the home, unless the family possesses candles, which is why Gren prefer to work outside and make use of daylight. Houses are storages and places to rest, primarily.
Wealthy people (landowners, lesser nobles) live in bigger, fancier longhouses. They are quite similar to those of commoners, still include a stable and a living area, and feature no windows, but they are made out of sturdier materials. Instead of using thatch, they use wooden shingles. Instead of clay, they more commonly utilize full wooden or stone walls. A house with stone walls and wooden shingles is a sign of wealth. Fancier longhouses also feature various decorations. It is quite popular to carve patterns into beams. Many also enjoy to decorate the ends of their roof's ridge with wooden versions of wolf, ironhead, or avog heads. Some large longhouses even feature a second level. Second levels are always smaller than the first, otherwise the first level couldn't carry it, and are hence usually used for extra storage or as small, private bedrooms for the masters of the house. The furniture of wealthy homes is more elaborated. They have tables, chairs, and proper proper beds. Lesser nobles even have a throne, which is located in the dedicated dining room of their longhouse.
Personal workshops, such as smithies, are usually attachments to the longhouse of the craftsman in question. A longhouse owned by a smith would feature an attached shed with a forge, an anvil, a chimney, and so on and so forth. Some workshops are important to the entire community. The best example are bakeries, which are used by all women of a community to bake bread. Bakeries are basically a bunch of stone ovens with a roof. It may be a simple design, but it certainly gets the job done. Mills are another example of this. Miller is not a profession the Gren know. Every farmer mills his own grain and they use the community mill to do so. The mills are constructed with the same materials and in the same fashion as the regional longhouses.
Onwards to the housing of the higher nobles, those have a title or have at least been knighted. Nobles build their homes on hills, cliffs, or other high places. If none are available, they create artificial hills with the help of their serfs' labor. They never pick locations far away from population centers. At most they settle down nearby the edge of a village or town. They want to be able to place their homes within the community's fortifications, or at least integrate their homes into them. No matter if their home is within a town's walls or not, nobles still surround their homes with extra defensive walls to create their personal compound. There they live alongside their family, their closest subjects, and harbor their wealth. Most add a tower to the wall or their home to further enhance how far they can see from their homestead. It allows them to know in advance when hostiles or guests are inbound. To put it in a few words, one could say that nobles live some sort of an early form of castle.
The higher a noble's rank, the greater his wealth and might. The wealthier a noble is, the better and bigger is his compound. A knight, who draws his wealth and labor from a single village at most, owns only a small compound. It includes a large, properly furnished longhouse, a wooden tower, perhaps a separate stable for the knight's livestock. His longhouse may even have a cellar with its own brewery and he may even have a separate granary within his castle, where he stores food for winter, perhaps even that of the whole village. His castle likely only has wooden walls, which are sturdy but won't withstand a determined attacker, and no towers beyond watchtowers and the singular one that doubles as a keep. Gren sometimes merge the wall with the hill the castle stands on, so that the top of the wall is on the same level or just slightly above the top of the hill.
If a knight's castle is on the lowest end of the scale, then a duke's castle is on the highest end of it, and the castles of barons and counts are situated in between the two extremes. The king's castle is rather to that of the a duke; it is merely even wealthier. A duke's castle is the governing center of his dukedom. It has to be impressive, show off the owner's prestige and power. It must also be defensible. Its rampart is made completely out of stone, features bastions, perhaps even a proper tower made out of wood, and battlements. The wall's gate is protected by a gatehouse, which is guarded by the duke's retinue. A duke's castle must also be large large enough to house the duke, his closely related family, important members of his court, offer space for guards, and rooms for guests. As a result, a duke's compound includes many buildings - stockpiles, houses, and stables. The largest, fanciest house is the duke's own, which houses himself and his family. It is massive, built out of stone and strong timber, and lavishly decorated with carvings and engravings. It is also properly furnished, has a dinning hall that also serves as throne room, likely features multiple fire places, candles, and oil lamps to keep the whole building warm and illuminated, and has a cellar filled with wine and beer. Truly, within the Gren Kingdom, a duke's castle is the safest and most luxurious place to live.
A typical Gren village consists of up multiple longhouses and a few specialized buildings, like bakeries and mills. The public buildings are normally located near the village's plaza, which is located in the middle of the community most of the time. That's what roads, if they exist, connect to, and where the villagers gather to discuss, celebrate, and trade. Sometimes this is also where the villages worship their gods. A sacred oak in the very center of a settlement is a common sight. Rarely do villages have an entire grove nearby. But every village does at least have a shrine, which is either dedicated to Yggorum or one of the many minor deities. The size and beauty of the shrine depends on the wealth of the village.
To protect their homes, family, and livestock, every Gren village is surrounded by a palisade and has a militia. The larger and wealthier the village, and the more dangerous the region, the better is their militia and the stronger are their defenses. A tiny hamlet likely only has a tall wooden fence and a gate, while a large village has a proper wooden wall with a narrow wall walk and a few watchtowers. Fields, pastures, and such are all located outside of the walls, but they only bring the large livestock (cattle, daebis) out at day to let it graze. Within the walls the Gren can only have gardens for vegetables and herbs and small pastures for goats and chickens. The most well defended settlements are those which are under the protection of a knight. The knight's simple castle is a great refugee for the villagers and the knight himself acts as the protector of the settlement. He and his small retinue of capable warriors do what they can to keep the people and their homes safe, as that is their duty. Most villages are not large enough to be a suitable place of residence for a knight, but they may still be under the protection of the neighboring one. Then they can at least expect to be visited by patrols now and then and have someone to call upon for aid if the need arises.
Gren towns look like large, sprawling villages. They're nothing like the crowded, compactly built imperial cities of the Sokan Empire. People in towns still live in longhouses and each house has enough space around it to still allow the placement of orchards, small pastures, and vegetable gardens. Towns also feature a central plaza, but their plazas are much bigger than those of villages. They must be large enough so that they can be used as a marketplace or as a rallying point for gathering troops. If possible, they still feature a large oak in their center. Nearby the plaza one can also find the various public buildings of the town, like the bakery and the local brewery. Most towns have multiple bakeries in various locations, because a single bakery couldn't satisfy all the inhabitants. Mills, for ease of access, are usually build either outside nearby the fields or nearby the entrance to the community.
Towns are the seats of power of the local nobility, so naturally they're very well defended. The most defensible position within any town is the noble's residence. They're always located on hills, either natural or artificial ones, within the town's wall. How they look has been detailed in the Architecture section, but they are practically fortified compounds consisting of multiple longhouses and other useful buildings, basically a simple, early form of a castle. From here the noble and his retinue watch over the land and protect its people. Should his retinue not be enough, then the population is recruited to form a sizable militia. Towns also have strong stationary defenses, such as walls, bastions, and even simple gatehouses. Big cities even have multiple sets of walls, because their populations required more and more protected space as they grew. Ramparts are usually build out of stone to make them fireproof, but if there's none available, then the Gren have no problem with using lumber. It takes a lot of effort to build stone walls, so they're never very tall or thick. Usually they're tall enough that even two lin together aren't able to climb over them. To have a broad wall walk, without having to make the stone wall thicker, the Gren add wooden scaffolding to their inner side. All towns have a proper battlement on their ramparts. Some towns go even further; they surround their wall walks with wooden walls which even have roofs. The walls have arrow slits, so the defenders can still let death rain upon any attacker, while using the walls as cover. Watchtowers are an important component of any community's defenses. However, the Gren aren't capable of building tall, thick towers, so their watchtowers are rather small, and fulfill no other purpose than offering an elevated position to a sentry.
Villages are connected with each other and towns by dirt paths. They are wide enough to allow a cart to pass and are usable most of the year. In Fall, when it rains more often, the compacted dirt of the paths turns into mud, which can cause carts and feet to get stuck and makes walking on them a messy experience. Towns are connected to other towns by similar but wider paths, which suffer from the same downsides. Paved roads are not a concept the Gren have quite grasped. They at most add wooden planks to a road, if it leads through a marsh, so it isn't muddy during the entire year. If one wants to move large quantities of wares or people from one place to another, it is wiser to use the natural waterways. It is also safer, because the roads in the Gren Kingdom aren't well guarded. In the most troubled regions, the local rulers may send out warriors to patrol the roads, but in the end travelers are responsible for their own safety. Traders don't dare go on the roads without escorts to protect their belongings.
Outpost that guard the roads are extremely rare. There are forts along the border to Treztown and the Sokan Empire, they guard the passes through Threa's Spine and the entrance to Treztown's valley, but there aren't many guard posts that keep watch over the internal road network. Nobles only bother setting up outposts in regions that have under banditry, or when they want to keep watch over a border that they share with a rival.
This section describes all known communities of the Gren Kingdom. This not a complete list of all communities that exist; it merely covers the communities that have come up in roleplay or storytelling. They are sorted alphabetically, not by importance or size.
Northorn is the capital of the Gren Kingdom and of Dukedom Suwehb. It is also the largest city of the realm and one of its oldest as well. It is located southeast of Varhal's Ridge, nearby a broad river. The river has its origins in Varhal's Ridge and further southeast connects with Threa's Vein, thus Northorn has a good connection to Threa's most important trade route. The easy access to water, the fertile land, good climatic conditions, and the nearby ore-rich mountains have predestined the settlement of Northorn to turn into the Gren's largest city. However, it is nowhere close to being a metropolis like Auric Towers. Even Treztown has many more inhabitants. It does cover a large area due to the spacious building style that's typical for the Gren.
The city is split into four districts - the castle, the Gold District, the Grain District, and the River District. The castle and the Gold District are both within the Grain District, making it the outermost district. If looked at from the skies, the outer wall, so the wall surrounding the Grain District, has the shape of a kidney. The kidney's dented side follows the gentle curve of the nearby river.
The Grain District is the home of the local farmers and workers, who live in average longhouses surrounded by small pastures, orchards, and vegetable gardens. The River District is the narrow strip of land between the outer district's walls and th river. More farmers and workers live here, but also fishers and shipbuilders. To protect these, wooden walls have been built between the outer wall and the river. They won't be a great help against an incoming army, but they at least safeguard the people against beasts and raiders and grant them the time to retreat into the Grain District. Both the Grain and the River District have large plazas for celebrations and markets.
The Gold District is oval in shape, surrounded by a wall as well, and located in the northwestern quadrant of the Grain District. Its name stems from the fact that many gold smiths live here, who work with the gold that's gathered upstream in Varhal's Ridge. It is the district of the craftsmen, the king's retinue, and merchants, thus it is rather rich. Despite that, one can still find gardens and even pastures here. Livestock is a sign of wealth after all. In its center there's a large plaza. It never serves as a marketplace, because it is too far away from the gates of the outer walls, but it is used to meet up with people or for celebrations. Especially celebrations surrounding Varhal, the god of kul-slaying and hunting, because a huge statue of him stands upon a stone foundation in the middle of the plaza. It depicts him holding a spear while standing on top of a Trezkul head. At a size of 8 m (26'3''), measured from the feet to the head, it is the most impressive statue the Gren ever built. The stone foundation increases its total height to 10 m (32'10''), measured from the ground to the head. Due to being carved out of multiple wooden blocks that have been fitted together, the statue requires regular maintenance to replace broken or rotting bits. The Gren's best woodworkers keep it in shape; this is considered a prestigious and even sacred duty.
As said, both the Grain and the Gold District are surrounded by walls. They are roughly 3 m (9'10'') thick, 7.5 m (24'7'') tall, and completely made out of rough stones. They don't feature any fortified towers, just like the other Gren cities, but they have plenty of watchtowers and bastions. Bolt throwers are set up on top of these fortifications and the bastions even have rock throwers. The wall of the Gold District is much, much older than the outer one. Northorn simply outgrew it and a second one had to be built. The outer wall and the walls of the River District also have a water-filled moat. It further enhancing Northorn's defenses and allows the inhabitants to dispose of waste rather easily. The moat is connected to the river, so the water within it slowly flows.
The last line of defense, should both walls fall, is Castle Northorn, which is located in the western half of the Gold District and surrounded by its own wall. It is the seat of the Gren king, who is also Northorn's baron and its county's count. From the castle's watchtowers, one has a great view across the river, the fields beyond the walls, and the city itself. Supposedly there's an escape tunnel that leads from the castle to a hidden cave where a ship awaits to allow the royal family to flee in an emergency.
Thirpofen is the second largest city within the Gren Kingdom, right after Northorn. The seaport is located at the eastern coast of the Great Bay and is the capital of its own dukedom, the Dukedom of Thirpofen. Trade has made it very wealthy. Firstly, it's the only harbor the Firehorns dock in, so it almost completely dominates the trade with them, Secondly, it's also the best port to use to embark on the journey up Threa's Vein to trade with Treztown and the Sokan Empire. Thirpofen is also the origin of Thirpofian Brew, which is popular among the Gren as well as the Thirpofians.
Viewed from the sky, the shape of the city is a semi-circle that's pressed against the shores of the Great Bay, which is split neatly in half by Threa's Vein. It has two sets of walls, both semi-circles as well, that protect the city. They split it into an inner district and an outer district. Outside of the second set of walls lie fields, hamlets, pastures, and orchards. There the farmers, who live in the outer district as well as outside, do their daily work and let their livestock graze. Like any Gren community, Thirpofen is rather spaciously built, so the Gren find enough space to set up small pastures and large longhouses with internal stables even inside the outer district. All in all, the outer district isn't all that special. It houses Thirpofen's simple people and thus looks rather simple.
The inner district is in a much better shape. It houses Thirpofen's wealthy nobility. Many of these nobles don't own more land than the plot their longhouse has been built on, but they're very rich due to being engaged in trade across the entire Temperate Zone and in trade with the Firehorns. Because only wealthy people live in it, the inner district looks rather well, even if it is nothing like the Auric Towers or even Treztown's First Ring. Near its northwestern edge lies the castle of the ruling family of Thirpofen.
The port and the homes of its workers is also located in the inner district. Despite being in the hands of the Gren, it is rather sophisticated. Likely because the Firehorns assisted with its construction. It has multiple long piers which have many spots where ships can dock and unload. On the rocky shore there are plenty of warehouses for the goods and quarters for the sailors. It also has a few taverns. The most well known and oldest tavern is the "Port Brewery". It serves drinks from all over Threa, making it rather unique.
As mentioned, Thirpofen has two sets of walls. Both are made out of stone, but the inner one is taller than the outer one. It measures roughly 8 m (26'3'') in height, because it is located on top of an earth rampart, while the outer one is only 6 m (19'8'') tall. Both have watchtowers, bastions, and basic gatehouses. Both are also open towards the sea. The Thirpofians aren't afraid of naval invasions, but they still constructed massive, circular bastions at the seaside ends of each set of wall and installed war machines on top of them. Rock throwers, burning arrows from archers, and bolt throwers make it difficult for any attacker to reach the shore without sinking first. The bastions of the outer wall reach even deeper into the water than those of the inner wall. Both bastions are 10 m (32'3'') tall.
Now comes a bit of history about this city. Before the trade with the Firehorns and the eastern half of the Temperate Zone flared up, Thirpofen was known as Fishport. It was merely a town of fishers, not a city of traders. Its influence was low as was his wealth. The Suwehbens conquered it with ease in their years of expansion following the year 236 ar. They didn't burn Fishport down; it remained largely intact and was allowed to exist as his own county within the Suwehbish Kingdom.
In 327 ar, the first Firehorn ships were spotted in the Great Bay. They weren't permitted to dock at any of the coastal towns beforehand, because those were afraid the Firehorns would bring war and not trade. The count of Fishport was wiser. He allowed the Firehorns to dock and established communications with them. He studied them and their language while helping them to study his own. Immediately the Firehorns were impressed by how fertile the land is and saw great opportunities for trade. Once they were able to barely talk with the people of Fishport, they left again and returned with wares. The Gren made wide eyes when they saw the steel weapons and how easily they cut through their bronze armor. It was the start of a wonderful trade relationship that made Fishport rich. After almost a decade, so in 336 ar, the count had Fishport renamed to Steelport (Thirpofen), due to the many steel items the Firehorns brought.
Thirpofen grew richer and thus more influential. The weapons and armor it sold gave the Suwehbens an edge, which put it on their good side. In 465, when the Sozlin's independence was guaranteed via a royal edict, the first Gren king even decided that Thirpofen shall be the only Gren city with a large harbor. This solidified Thirpofens position as the only seaport suitable for Firehorn ships. Its wealth continued to grow. The king even declared Thirpofen a dukedom of its own, granting its new duke the neighboring counties.
Despite being treated so well, or maybe because they were treated so well, the rich nobles of Thirpofen became greedy. They wanted to be completely independent again, so they conspired together with the defeated Vandellarians to try and kill the Scalecutter family in 467 ar. Their little mutiny failed. The ruling noble family of Thirpofen was cut down and only its most loyal elements were allowed to continue living and also ruling. Nothing much changed since then and nowadays, three centuries later, Thirpofen is the mighty, wealthy city it is.
Northorn Castle is located in Northorn, the capital of the Gren Kingdom. It is the castle of the Gren king and the most impressive one in the entire realm. It is the seat of power from which the monarch rules his kingdom and it is the residence of his close family. It has been built far before 738 ar. The first inhabitant was likely a Suwehbish chieftain, so the place is many centuries old. However, the current buildings are not. None of them existed way back when the first Suwehbish King, Varhal Scalecutter, made it the capital of his freshly founded nation. The only thing the current castle and whatever stood here back then have in common is the ground they were built on. So, what is described here is the current royal castle, with all its additions that were erected over the last few centuries.
The entire compound consists of the following structures: The king's longhouse, the royal stable, the royal guards' houses, the royal grove, the archdruid's house, the servants' quarter and the guest house. All of these buildings are placed on an elevated, partially natural hill, which is at the northwestern edge of Northorn. The hill is surrounded by a stone rampart with multiple bastions and a single reinforced gatehouse. The top of the wall is just slightly above the top of the hill but roughly 6 m (20 ft) above the ground around the hill. The gatehouse is halfway up the gentle ramp leading up to castle's level. Bolt throwers line the walls and bastions, make it hard for enemy attackers to assault the castle, even if they come from the skies. Tall, wooden watchtowers allow the royal guard to cast their gaze across the entire capital and the land beyond its walls. Should the defenders of both Northorn and Northorn Castle fail, then the royal family can escape the city via an escape tunnel hidden inside the royal grove.
Said grove is the owned and cared for by the archdruid of Northorn, who is also the king's advisor in spiritual matters. It is basically a small, kept forest with a huge oak in its center. In front of the oak is a richly decorated shrine dedicated to Yggorum. All deceased Suwehbish and Gren kings have been buried in this grove, even Varhal himself. Only the royal family, their retinue, and their visitors may enter it. Northorn's citizen have to visit the nearby grove in the woods outside of the city's walls. The archdruid lives with his family in his own longhouse right next to the grove.
It is one of many longhouses; the royal guard and servants must live somewhere as well, after all. The royal guard lives in high-quality longhouses that are build right nearby the rampart of the hill. They form a protective circle around the other buildings, covering them from attacks with siege weapons. The men of the guard and their families live rather luxurious lives in the king's compound.
The servants aren't as well off. They live in two large longhouses that houses multiple families each. Their inhabitants are dedicated to fulfilling the royal family's wishes and tending to the castle. Among the servants are cooks and craftsmen. One of the longhouses has a proper smithy, so that the king doesn't need to leave his castle to have weapons and armor produced or repaired.
Guests are housed in their own separate longhouse. It has two floors, a basement, and is split up into many different rooms, so each guest can sleep in their own private place. It neighbors the longhouse dedicated to the king's extended family, where his landless relatives can seek shelter without having to pay for it. Both structures are rather similar. Neither features a place where one can eat, because meals are consumed in the dining hall of the king's own longhouse.
The king's longhouse is the most massive and impressive home in the Gren Kingdom. It has three levels - ground level, first floor, and an attic - and a large basement. Its ground level is completely build out of stone, the other levels are build out of sturdy wood. It is decorated with carvings and engravings, both on the inside and the outside. The most notable feature is the huge skull of a Trezkul that is mounted right above the entrance. Unlike most longhouses, the king's home has its entrance in its side. There are servant entries at its ends though.
Almost its entire ground floor is taken up by the huge dining hall which is also the throne room. Long tables with benches invite anyone who enters to sit down and stay for a while, warmed by the various hearths that burn in the room. Over these fires the royal chefs cook meals that they prepared in the kitchen, which is also located on the ground level and doubles as a storage room for food. It is a separate room. The only other separate room of the ground level is the staircase. It's built into an addition located opposite of the wall with the main entrance.
This staircase only leads upstairs; to reach the basement one has to go through the kitchen. The basement contains the household's food and beer stockpiles anyway. There are also a few wine barrels, in case the king desires a more exotic drink. There's also a hidden treasury in the basement, which can be accessed via a ladder behind the throne. There the king saves a sizable amount of gold in case he has to make sudden, large purchases. Small purchases are paid with the gold stored in chests in the attic.
The first floor is where the king and his family sleep. There's no hearths on this level, it is kept warm by the heat rising up from the fires beneath it. The smoke from these fires isn't an issue, because the floor consists of two layers of wooden planks. The bottom one has been sealed with clay. The smoke has to escape through openings in the side- and front-gables of the longhouse. The walls of the upper floor are also covered with furs, which further insulates them against the cold. Northorn is located so far in the north that heat is barely a problem. If it is too hot, the royal family can just take the covers away from the slits in the walls and let some fresh air in.
A whole three rooms make up the upper floor: the master bedroom for the king and queen, the bedroom of their sons, and the bedroom of their daughters. The king and his close family live in luxury. Each room has proper beds, chests, and shelves. Every single item has been made by expert carpenters and with the best materials. The beds consist of stacks of animal furs lying on top of clean hay. They even have feather filled pillows. Candles in beautiful iron holders and oil lamps decorated with gold illuminate the rooms. But no matter how pretty the rooms are, even the royal family prefers to spend their time in the main hall or outside, like all Gren.
Overall, the entire longhouse is lavishly decorated. Carvings and engravings embellish every visible wooden beam, trophies from successful hunts and won wars hang from the walls and ceilings and impress visitors, and the precious metals that have been tastefully applied to furniture and the building itself speak of the royal family's wealth. The Suwehbish gold mines that are to thank for these riches aren't even all that far away from the castle.
Last but not least is the royal stable. It is a large longhouse which offers enough space to house ironheads, daebis, and its staff. The part dedicated to the stable workers is rather small; it is only meant to house the two boys assigned to taking care of the king's mounts. By tradition, these stable boys are orphans. They'll live a much better life than most children and, if they're capable, are likely to join the king's retinue. The stable is located southeast of the castle's courtyard.
Many, many millennia ago, Trezlin evolved in the eastern half of the Temperate Zone. Some of them marched westward and thus became the first Gren. They fought Wolshaks and Sozlin for territory. Over time, the Sozlin were pushed to the shores and managed to resist the Trezlin, who preferred to stay in the woods anyway. The Wolshaks were too tough to drive them away. Yet they couldn't stop the Trezlin from spreading. The green scaled humanoids reached the taiga in the north and the rainforest in the south, but they couldn't go further. The rainforest was too dangerous and the taiga was simply too cold.
It took some time, but the Trezlin packs evolved into nomadic tribes and then even later began settling down. They did this later than their eastern cousins, which partially explains while the Sokans are more advanced overall - the simply began settling earlier. Regardless, living as a tribe was easier than living in small packs, but even the early settlements had to deal with the dangerous wildlife, the still prevalent Wolshak packs, and even with Trezlin raiding parties. Thanks to their bravery and wit, the Trezlin of the west managed to survive and even thrive.
Different cultures relied on different methods of survival. Vandellarians simply relied on their skill with the bow. Experienced archers and rangers laid out ambushes for beasts and enemies alike, ensuring that the Vandell Forest was only save for those that belonged or were allied to the Vandellarian tribes. Unfortunately, the Vandellarians also used their skill to kill each other. It hampered them and ultimately prevented that they expand beyond their woods.
The tribes of the Suwehbens weren't as hostile to each other. They formed very large tribes by merging small ones. That greatly improved their likelihood of surviving raids by other tribes. These large groups of Trezlin were also quite capable at combating even larger Wolshak packs. Over a relatively small timespan they eradicated most of the Wolshaks and forced them to give up the north, leaving it to the Suwehbens. The Wolshaks weren't well received further down south either.
For thousands of years, the primitive tribes merely worked and fought to survive. Even the Suwehbens, despite being the first in the west to form large communities, didn't have it easy. It got worse for them when the Aezkul abandoned their lairs in Varhal's Ridge to fight the Thousand Years War back home. Dangerous beasts claimed these empty caves that formerly belonged to the peaceful scholars. Especially Trezkul became very numerous, drawn by the prospect of comfortable, safe homes in the middle of great hunting grounds. The large kul stole livestock, destroyed homes, and killed plenty of Trezlin. This sparked the hate which became ingrained in the religion of Gren.
When the growing Trezkul population became a crisis, Chieftain Varhal the Scalecutter was the first to gather his tribe to hunt them. Thanks to a poison that he discovered, named Varhal's Wrath by his people, his archers were able to ground the kul so that Varhal could make them taste his spear. Soon other tribes, inspired by his kill tally, joined him in his fight. Chieftains vowed him their loyalty and servitude as long as he kept the Trezkul off their lands in return. When he had gathered many tribes under his banner, Varhal dared to lead his army of brave men into the nearby mountains to end the threat the Trezkul posed once and for all. Only a small number of warriors returned. But they were successful! They brought back more Trezkul fangs than they could count and praised Varhal to the high heavens, claiming it was his courage, skill, and tactical wit that allowed the warriors to come out on top. Now Varhal was a hero to all Suwehbens. They named the mountain range after him (Varhal's Ridge) and demanded that he should become permanent ruler of all Suwehbens and thus the chieftains appointed him leader. They firmly believed him to be one of Yggorum's hunters. That made him a leader by divine right and thus the chieftains crowned him King of the Suwehbens in 23 ar. It was also decided that Varhal's oldest son should inherit his title, because he must be chosen by Yggorum as well, simply because he had Varhal's blood in his veins. That tradition of handing titles down to the oldest son continued until this day, leading to the system the Gren have in place today.
The coronation and total unification of all Suwehbish tribes marked the beginning of a golden age for the Suwehbens. With a united army, no one could stop them and they strove for more land and riches. They expanded rapidly beyond their original small territory nearby Varhal's Ridge. Every tribe they met was soundly beaten for forced to surrender. However, their aggressive expansion created many enemies. Other tribes united in coalitions to fight off the Sokans. The front lines hardened. Meanwhile, the hierarchy in the Suwehbish Kingdom became much more sophisticated. The chieftains began to rank among each other and invented various titles to differentiate between chieftains of varying power. Noble families solidified their power base and became influential entities within the kingdom.
While the wars became tougher, they didn't stop. Even after Varhal's death in 47 ar, the Suwehbens continued to try to forcefully annex their neighbors. Varhal's sons were warmongers just like their father. But their efforts were to no avail. No matter how hard they tried, they just couldn't defeat the various petty kingdoms and tribes around them, but neither their neighbors defeat the Suwehbens. Only one side profited from the wars - the Wolshak packs. They scavenged the battlefields for weapons and corpses. They used the former to fight the Gren and ate the latter. The growing number of Wolshaks in the forests made it even harder for the Suwehbens or their enemies to fight each other; the packs drew too much attention.
Even the Suwehbens realized that fighting wars they couldn't win was a waste of lives and resources, so they became more peaceful. Now that the Gren stopped fighting each other, they could focus on the Wolshaks again! Over the course of a few decades, the packs again rapidly decreased in numbers. The Suwehbens didn't even kill that many Wolshaks. It was the Gren south of them that slaughtered them without mercy and with terrifying efficiency.
In search of new places to settle, many Wolshak packs migrated north and thus clashed with the Suwehbens. But instead of killing them all, the Suwehbish king had a better idea. He planned to use the despair of the Wolshaks against them. In 236 ar, for the first time ever, a Suwehbish king engaged in negotiations with a Wolshak alpha. The king proposed that the Wolshaks could live among the Suwehbens, become serfs or even remain free people, as long as they serve the Suwehbish Kingdom in times of war. This also meant that the Wolshaks had to give up their packs and try to integrate themselves into the Suwehbish culture and society. The alternative to agreeing was becoming the main focus of Suwehbish hunters and warriors. The Wolshak alpha agreed and spread the word to the other packs in the region. Many agreed and those who didn't were killed if they didn't manage to hide.
With an army bolstered by the fierce Wolshaks, the Suwehbens started new wars. They experienced their greatest expansion yet. After decades of conquest and vassalization, the regions that are nowadays known as Suwehb, Manhomir, and Thirpofen were almost completely in the hands of the Suwehbish Kingdom. Then the Suwehbens were met with stronger foes again. The petty kingdoms founded large alliances or outright merged to form stronger opponents, but the worst ones were the Vandellarians. They crowned their own king and he became him the direct rival and opponent of the Suwehbish King. The Vandellarian Kingdom offered protection and trade to the smaller countries. This made it impossible for the Suwehbens to expand further, because they would have to face an alliance much stronger than themselves. A time of peace and trade followed that was only disturbed by minor wars.
This dramatically changed with the extreme increase in Sokan aggression in the years following 458 ar. The Empire of the Sun, lead by Emperor Jurva, began declaring war on anyone who refused to join the Empire. He began abusing the might of his Bronze Legions and Trezkul war mounts to force entire nations to capitulate. Those who gave up and joined the Sokans were treated kindly; those who resisted were harshly put down and enslaved. Some people even fled all the way to the lands of the Gren and their tales made many of the minor Gren nations fear for their own existence. Sokans were seen as a great threat that would soon also affect the Gren. Something had to be done to defeat them and their Trezkul mounts. Many small Gren countries sought to become the Suwehbish king's vassals for their own protection. During this time, King Bjorn Scalecutter ruled the Suwehbens. His strong personality and the fact that the Vandellarians had trouble with internal strife made him the primary choice of the independent lords. With each kingdom the Sokan Empire swallowed, more lords gave up their independence and served the Suwehbish crown, strengthening it. In 463 ar, everything but the southwestern quadrant of the west belonged to Bjorn Scalecutter.
Those lands belonged to the Vandellarians and their remaining allies. The Vandellarian king wasn't willing to lay down his crown, but Bjorn would never allow another king next to himself. As a consequence, the Suwehbens began a military campaign in 463 ar. The conflict didn't last very long. Seeing the threat that coming from the east and how the Gren were weakened by their internal wars, the Vandellarian king gave up after his people lost the Battle of the Vandell Forests in 464 ar. Thanks to its quick end, the war didn't lead to many deaths and thus the military power of the Gren didn't suffer much.
As he now ruled over the entire west, the Suwehbish King felt that his title didn't fit his position any longer. He declared that his kingdom shall now be known as the Gren Kingdom, home and protector of all Gren, and crowned himself King of all Gren in the spring of the year 465 ar in the Vandellarian royal hall. The Vandellarian king had been demoted to a duke, but remained the ruler of the Dukedom Vandell. Remaining the ruler of his people was one of the demands the Vandellarian king made when negotiating a quick resolution of the conflict.
- Coronation of the First Suwehbish King - Varhal (23 ar)
- Dissolution of the Packs (236 ar)
- Coronation of the First Vandellarian King - ??? (245 ar)
- War between Suwehb and Vandell (463 - 464 ar)
- Battle of the Vandell Forest (464 ar)
- Coronation of the First Gren King - King Bjorn (465 ar)
The newly founded Gren Kingdom was the second strongest power in the Temperate Zone, right behind the Sokan Empire. It was powerful, but not powerful enough to beat the Sokans on its own. Hence King Bjorn agreed to begin negotiations with Treztown in 467 ar. The city state was represented by Battlelord Aruk Glazuruk, a battlelord from the Firehorns. Treztown wanted to use the good relations between the Firehorns and the Gren Kingdom to its advantage.
While King Bjorn negotiated mostly on his own, he had to include the nobles in his decision making or risk discontent otherwise. Most nobles agreed; they saw that the only way to weather the storm of war was by allying with Treztown and going to war alongside the Firehorns. However, two sides caused trouble: The Duke of Vandell, who was the King of Vandell just three years ago, and the Duke of Thirpofen. They refused to agree to an alliance, stating it wasn't the Gren Kingdom's issue if Treztown falls in Sokan hands. King Bjorn didn't want to risk leaving his kingdom without the Vandellarians; he feared they would attempt to take over his realm while he and his army was gone.
In 467 ar, during the evening of the Duskday of the 5th Week, the representative of the Vandellarian duke (a count), the Duke of Thirpofen and even Bjorn II., King Bjorn's youngest son, raised their swords against the Gren king. They attempted to begin a rebellion! Skirmishes broke out in Northorn as loyalists fought against the supporters of the rebellious nobles. Meanwhile, an assassin made an attempt at Battlelord Aruk life, to prevent the alliance between Treztown and the Gren Kingdom. A fight broke out in the royal longhouse.
Thanks to Prince Ulfrid (Bjorn's oldest son), Battlelord Aruk, and two special lin from Treztown, the assassination and the rebellion failed. Those special lin were the Sozlin Stalks-Two-Moons and the Truzlin Kero Frostberry, who had been send to Northorn by a Treztown senator after he caught wind of the planned assassination. Stalks-Two-Moons managed to figure out the rebels' plot and was thus able to warn the king, who prepared Northorn's guard for the attack. However, the preparation didn't save King Bjorn. He died defending his home. At least his son Ulfrid survived, thanks to Stalks-Two-Moons diverting an enemy's strike. Ulfrid then ended the life of his traitorous brother, Bjorn II., and pacified his home.
No matter how much Ulfrid wanted to grieve his father's death, his people needed a ruler. He was crowned just a few days later and his first act as king was to dispatch a group of warriors to dethrone the Duke of Vandell. The order was to kill them all and institute a loyal family as the new rulers of Vandell. The Suwehbish warriors managed to kill most of the traitors, but a few managed to hide in the woods. Nowadays their descendants supposedly lead Vandell's Rangers, a group of rebels that still want to separate Vandell from the Gren Kingdom.
While some of his men already headed to Vandell, King Ulfrid began gathering an army near Thirpofen. He was very grateful towards Stalks-Two-Moons, Kero, and Battlelord Aruk, so he agreed to support Treztown in its fight against the Sokans. Together, Treztown, the Firehorn Hightribe, and the Gren Kingdom thus founded the Western Alliance. Unfortunately, the Bronze Legions were already on their way to Treztown! Raising an army takes a lot of time, so it was unlikely that Ulfrid would arrive before the Sokans did. Treztown had to prepare to endure a siege. Another problem was that Ulfrid was a very new king. Would the nobles even follow him? Would they heed his call to arms? They did. They saw the threat looming in the east and that the only chance to beat it was defending Treztown. So they followed Ulfrid out of their own interest, not out of loyalty. He still had to prove himself.
While the Gren army gathered, an Aezkul send by Treztown's senate informed King Ulfrid that the Sokans already arrived in Treztown and begun sieging it. To be precise, the Sokans arrived on the Centday of the 7th Week of Fall in 467 ar. Ulfrid knew the city's time was running out, so he chose to wait only a few weeks longer before starting the journey to Treztown. His plan was to force march to the city state, then rest for a day to let his men regain their strength, and then attack the besieging army the next day. According to his calculations, he would make it to Treztown barely before winter began. He hoped that the Sokans wouldn't assault the city until spring. Battlelord Aruk wasn't so sure about that.
Given the few weeks they had, King Ulfrid didn't manage to raise a grand army. The Gren alone managed to raise a host consisting of roughly 4,000 Trezlin warriors and 1,000 Wolshak warriors. Battlelord Aruk contributed two entire sections to the army, so 2,600 warriors, and 24 Firehorns. In total they had 7,600 warriors. That's not even two Sokan legions worth, but at least they had their Firehorns and their ironheads. Ulfrid promised that the ironhead cavalry would break any formation.
The joint army didn't arrive until the Postday of the 16th Week of Fall. Although Ulfrid ended up being wrong and the Sokans did assault the city before spring, he wasn't greeted by Sokan flags waving over Treztown Hall. The defenders managed to endure until the reinforcements arrived. The Western Alliance broke the siege with a quick and strong strike, forcing the Sokan legions to retreat despite their numerical superiority. Unfortunately, Treztown's entire Second Ring had been destroyed by the fires the Sokans started everywhere once they realized that Treztown's allies are coming. Many civilians died in the fires, but far more died defending their homes. During the Battle of Treztown, many of Treztown's inhabitants were also captured and brought away as slaves.
Given that winter was coming, the Western Alliance decided to set up camp nearby Treztown until spring. Meanwhile, Ulfrid planned a campaign that was supposed to end the war quickly and force the Sokans to give up large swaths of the land they recently conquered. Battlelord Aruk and King Ulfrid were hoping that the recently annexed realms rebel against their imperial oppressors if a foreign force assists them. Ulfrid demanded that Treztown must contribute at least a thousand warriors for the upcoming campaign. Despite the extensive damage dealt to the city and the many people lost in the assaults, the Senate agreed to that, knowing that the flags of the Gren would fly over Treztown if they didn't. Martin Graingatherer was promoted to First Captain and put in charge of collecting a thousand warriors. He accomplished this and named his band of warriors Treztown's Regiment. King Ulfrid gave him Lady Alwine to his side to function as a liaison officer between the Gren and the Regiment. She was the daughter of a Gren baron.
In the Spring of 468 ar, on the Riseday of the 2nd Week, the army of the Western Alliance began its spring campaign. The first villages it faced were pacified with ease. All of them simply surrendered when faced with the mighty armed force. Taking larger, fortified communities proved tougher, but doable. At the start of Summer, the Western Alliance had already pushed roughly 280 km (173 mi) into Sokan lands and freed two large cities - Riverhill and Fertile Fields. Riverhill, a city located in the south, was actually captured by Treztown's Regiment alone. It accomplished this feat by cooperating with the former king of Riverhill, Lois, and thus ensured that the city's militia would fight on the Regiment's side. Captain Alwine had a great part in this. This earned her renown among the lower echelons of the Gren nobility and of course among the Regiment. Her First Captain promoted her to Second Captain, so that she could act as his direct advisor.
Despite two large sieges having already taken place, the war was far from over. The Western Alliance had barely scratched the surface of the gigantic Sokan Empire. Hence King Ulfrid and Battlelord Aruk prepared their joint army to march further eastward to carry the war into imperial core lands. While they prepared, their army grew because many of the freed people sought to get revenge on the Sokans. They picked up arms and praised Ulfrid as their liberator, promised to follow him as far east as need be to make the Empire surrender.
That's not even the end of good news that the Western Alliance received after their victory over Fertile Fields. According to what Count Ulrich was able to find out, the Three Jarldoms of the Sheltered Basin were still independent! He proposed to King Ulrich to befriend them and ask them for support against the Sokans. King Ulfrid agreed and send Count Ulrich together with Treztown's Regiment and the remaining Wolshak warriors to the Sheltered Basin. Ulrich was simply tasked to earn the jarls' trust by helping them deal with the Sokans, who they supposedly were having troubles with.
[More to be determined]
- Assassination of the First Gren King - King Bjorn (467 ar)
- Coronation of the Second Gren King - King Ulfrid (467 ar)
- Great War of the North (467 - [TBD] ar)
- Siege of Treztown (467 ar, Spring, 7th Week, Centday - 467 ar, Fall, 16th Week, Setday)
- Siege of Riverhill (467 ar, Spring, 4th Week, Setday - 467 ar, Spring, 18th Week, Riseday)
- Siege of Fertile Fields (467 ar, Spring, 5th Week, Dawnday - 467 ar, Summer, 2nd Week, Dawnday)
- Reform of the Kingdom (561 ar)
The royal reform of 561 ar bought the loyalty of the dukes and brought peace to the Gren Kingdom. At least for 92 years. In the year 653 ar, the Free Rangers of Vandell assassinated the Duke of Vandell and many of his family members. This started a series of events that began the Age of Strife. First of all, Vandell's duke had no male heir. His daughter became the next ruler. However, the nobles of Vandell didn't take well to being lead by a woman. Quickly they proposed that she should marry one of their sons or even one of the older men. The duchess refused. She would pick her partner based on her feelings and intuition, not based on the suggestions of some power hungry nobles.
This greatly angered the nobility. Some even began cooperating with the Free Rangers. Others began fighting among each other for land and riches. They didn't fear the duchess, because they knew no one would follow her anyway. Being helpless and frustrated, she called upon the Gren king for help. Now the nobles were seething with anger. Calling upon Suwehbens to solve Vandellarian problems? The audacity! The shame! But it mattered not to the duchess. She required help to stay in power and solidify her position.
However, the king refused to help her. Instead of aiding a noble who appeared loyal enough to ask for help, he instead chose to support one of the other noble houses. He, too, didn't want to see a woman in power in one of his dukedoms. He even had the audacity to ask the duchess to step down and gave up her position willingly. Naturally she refused, which led to her being forcefully removed and even executed for treason.
Peace in Vandell had been restored. The Free Rangers were still active in the region, tried to sabotage the ruling family wherever they could, considering them Suwehbish puppets, but at least the noble families had stopped fighting each other. However, now the other dukes were starting to have troubles with their own nobles and each other. After all, the lesser nobles in the dukedoms noticed that it is possible to gain something through war, as long as they are not on bad terms with the king, and the dukes saw that they can't be completely sure their lord, the one person sworn to protect them in return for their service, will actually protect them against their own unruly vassals. A time of internal scheming, fighting, and murdering began which continues today. The internal peace has been broken and turned into a shaky construct that's only upheld when it benefits the nobility.
- Assassination of the Duke of Vandell (653 ar)
Nowadays, the Gren Kingdom is the second strongest but also least stable power in the Temperate Zone. It owns a large area, but unfortunately most of it is ruled by many unruly nobles. The fact that the Sokans, the reason the Gren united in the first place, are still sitting in the east is basically forgotten. Minors wars between the noble families and intrigues are becoming more and more common. Some fear that some plots may even be aimed at dethroning the king or making some of the dukedoms independent. Overall, the Gren Kingdom is at a breaking point. It could either split up, be thrown into a civil war, or perhaps the king manages to avert any terrible fates through intelligent and strong leadership. It is rumored that the king is considering to give the dukes even more privileges, effectively making them almost completely independent. This would reduce the power of the king and turn the Gren Kingdom into a loose union of almost independent countries. Perhaps it is for the best. A civil war among the Gren can only result in brutality.
Varhal Scalecutter the First (2 ar - 47 ar): The first king of the Suwehbens. He was a great kulslayer and leader. He united the Suwehbens and drove the Trezkul out of Varhal's Ridge. His deeds and skill were so legendary that he ascended to godhood after he died. Even today beastslayers and Suwehbens in general still worship him.
Bjorn Scalecutter (428 ar - 467 ar): The first king of the Gren. Through wars and threats of wars, he united all Gren and thus created a powerful opponent for the Sokan Empire. He was known to rule with an iron fist and have a lot of temper, but his strong character was valued by the Gren. They readily gathered behind his banner for protection when the Sokans began their conquest spree in the east. Bjorn died during the rebellion of the Duskday of the 5th Week of Fall, 467 ar. His oldest son Prince Ulfrid replaced him.
Ulfrid Scalecutter (445 ar - [TBD] ar): The second king of the Gren. He became king in troublesome times. His test was leading his people against the Sokan Empire, so he gathered them, saved Treztown, and then prepared to continue the war in 468 ar. [More to be determined]
Alwine Blackwood (441 ar - [TBD] ar):[More to be determined]