Bourth

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Bourth is a barony of the Turamzzyrian Empire.

Crest

  • Three black yew trees on a field of white ringed by five hawk feathers

The Caulfields originally built their wealth and power on the wood of the barony and pay tribute to this resource, as well the mysterious Wyrdeep Forest, with the placement of trees upon the barony's crest. While black and white were the original colors of the crest, these colors had been replaced with red and white until fairly recently, when Aurmont Chandrennin Anodheles was made emperor. The young Emperor's favorable disposition toward Voln led the baron to return the original colors to the crest.

— Culoney of Hendor, The Crests of the Turamzzyrian Empire

Geography

Bourth is covered with lush woodlands, including the vast Wyrdeep forest in the northeast, and veined with plentiful, free-flowing rivers and streams. This provides for a most lucrative wood trade. Bourth has grown the reputation for generating the finest wood in the Empire, and also produces the most, supplying the shipwrights of Tamzyrr with their much-needed timber. Beyond the Wyrdeep forest, to the north and east, the region is protected by the great DragonSpine mountain range.

Named for the baron who built this stronghold on the edge of the vast Wyrdeep Forest, Gallardshold boasts a stout military garrison to protect the woodcutters, trappers, and huntsmen who comprise the majority of its populace. The recent renewal of racial antipathy within the Turamzzyrian Empire has not significantly affected Gallardshold, and the largely independent elven communities within the Wyrdeep are on good, though reserved, terms with their baron. After centuries of cycling conflict and peace, Gallardshold has gained some aspects of elven culture and lore, and tales of elven witches and warlocks in the surrounding woods are common folklore when regaling the battles that captured this region of Bourth.

The city of Krestle was founded in 4332 near the site of the destroyed Kedshold, a surviving city from the Kannalan Empire. Krestle is a center of commerce for the woodsmen who make their trade in Gallardshold. It is a hub of travel and known as a place where one can contract for goods and services cheaply. The people are open to strangers, although largely intolerant of humanoids, due to the region's bloody past.

The first of Voln's monasteries was founded not far from this city over a millennium ago by a giantman manor lord, Fasthr K'Tafali. While not as large as the brotherhoods in Nydds and Elstreth, this monastery is still active in the region, and Voln's pilgrims often come here to walk the battlefield where their patron was first revealed.

Deep and foreboding, the Wyrdeep Forest is the greatest wood within the Turamzzyrian Empire. While the Wyrdeep Forest is claimed by the Barony of Bourth, only the fringes of the forest are settled. Elven, sylvan, and half-elven refugees fled into the forest centuries ago to avoid oppressive imperial edicts, and still have villages hidden within the strange wood, though even they are unwilling to risk the mysterious and dangerous depths of the forest. Disappearances among the woodland communities are most often attributed to legends of fey magic in the wood itself, immortal faeriekin come to steal innocents for their wretched amusement, or the Wyrdeep Huntsman, a regional bogeyman of sorts.

— Deinirius Antroydes, A Traveler's Guide to the Turamzzyrian Empire

Wyrdeep Forest

Ancient, deep, and foreboding, tales of horror and fright seemed to crop up from nowhere and effectively kept all but the most brave or foolish humans from prying into its heart. The human communities that border the forest tell numerous tales of the faeriekin of the forest and attribute madness, crop failures, disappearances, and most other mysteries to fey wiles.

The Wyrdeep is bordered on the north and east by the great DragonSpine mountains and occupies an area at least twice as large as the Sea of Fire, although exactly how large it is is impossible to determine. If you consult three maps of the Empire, you will come away with three ideas of the breadth of the forest. Some cartographers and travelers have reported unusual experiences in going through the forest, with stories of paths changing and 100-year old trees appearing where a clearing lay the day before. It is the rare traveler that heads due east into the heart of the forest, and it is rarer still for one to be seen again. Those who do return speak haltingly of the terrible sickness that gripped them, rendering them confused and nauseous, along with other more unsettling tales of their waking dreams.

— The Empire's Expatriates: The Elves of Wyrdeep

Customs

Local lore holds that the Wyrdeep Huntsman was once a great ranger whose heart was twisted by the fey forest. Now but a shade, the Huntsman haunts the Wyrdeep with his pack of direwolves, preying on those who wander too far from the guarded villages. Some claim that even the ghostly Huntsman fears entering the heart of the forest and risking the dread denizens therein.

Some of the citizens of Gallardshold wear either a single hawk feather braided into the right side of their hair or a white leather bracelet on their left wrist. The display of the feather indicates that the person feels that the elves of the Wyrdeep should be exempt from Chaston's Edict, while the display of the bracelet indicates that the person supports Chaston's Edict in the case of the elves. The tension between supporters of the edict and supporters of the elves is subtle but distinct, though it has rarely erupted into violence. As long as no humans, braceleted or feathered, bring harm to the elves when they trade, the elves are largely uncaring regarding the humans' beliefs.

— A Traveler's Guide to the Turamzzyrian Empire

Organizations

Falcons

"Birthed on the fringes of the Wyrdeep Forest, the Falcons are a specialized branch of the imperial army that are predominantly stationed in the Barony of Bourth, where they spend much of their time patrolling the vast forests and landscape between Gallardshold and Krestle. They are a mixed bunch, consisting of woodsmen, hunters, rangers, and soldiers. Some knights of both the Empire and Bourth have even joined their ranks, preferring the open life and view of the great wilderness to the politics of imperial court. Every member of the Falcons is trained to be an expert archer and scout, and throughout history, small numbers of them have been dispatched to various locations throughout the Turamzzyrian Empire when their skills were greatly needed in times of war or espionage.

The Falcons are a strong brotherhood of men and women, loyal first and foremost to the Sun Throne, and second to the wild, preserving and protecting life, blood, and nature alike. Their group is quite friendly with the Elves of the Wyrdeep and are often involved in some of the trading agreements and shipments that happen between the humans and elves in the region, their presence and respectable conduct helping to ease tensions and keep the peace. Despite their ways of preservation, they hold no such mercy for the undead and barbarian monster races of the region, and when faced in combat or conflict against these beings, their wrath is swift and unmerciful.

Their symbol is of three black falcons ringed by a white circle."

— Lord Brieson Cassle of Highmount, Orders of the Turamzzyrian Empire

Greensmen of the Deep

"The Barony of Bourth, to which the cities of Krestle and Gallardshold belong, is also home to Wyrdeep Forest. Woodsmen are plentiful in Bourth, and it is said that the archers from this region are second to none. The Barony of Bourth regularly supplies levies of archers as part of its contribution to the security of the Empire. One of these units, and one of the more infamous, is called The Greensmen of the Deep, and they are renowned for their outdoor lore and their skills with bows at long range.

House Caulfield of Bourth is proud to boast of their home-grown archers, whose skill is nearly unmatched in all of the Turamzzyrian Empire. The Greensmen are trained from a very early age, as many hopeful parents often push their children towards it, but to their dismay, very few complete the training. The walls of Bourth's major cities are lined with the Greensmen of the Deep, from Krestle to Gallardshold, their sights and arrows are trained to the horizons and the woods, ready to kill any enemy before it can come into view of the gates.

Every year, just after the first of spring, an annual archery tournament is held in Krestle called the Green Games. The competition itself is restricted to Greensmen of the Deep, but citizens and visitors travel from all over to witness the festivities and fierce contest. One of the most popular rumors about the Greensmen of the Deep relates to their origin, as their style, preparation, and tactics of their archery skills appear closer to those of the elves than other archery regiments within the imperial army. It is said that long ago, in the founding days of the Greensmen, that the human guard captain of House Caulfield had come to know the love of a Nalfein woman on the edges of the Wyrdeep Forest. The legend has evolved over time, but it claims the guard captain rescued a wounded Nalfein woman from imperial outlaws, and while nursing her back to health in secret, they fell in love.

In their time together, the elven woman taught the captain of the archery style that he then passed on to his own men, which eventually became the standard training for the group. No true evidence of this origin has been found, save for the eyewitness accounts of some of the captain's own men claiming he often went off into the edges of the Wyrdeep by himself, disappearing for days during his off duty time. One day the captain returned, crippled by a foul mood, and was eventually forced to resign his position because of his love of the tavern spirits. Years later, upon his own death bed, the retired captain made no confessions or shared no secrets into the rumors about his life, and merely welcomed his death as if embracing the arms of a lover. Some say he prayed for death, that he might rejoin his lost love in whatever awaited them both beyond. But one thing is certain: the Greensmen of the Deep have mastered the art of the bow, and forever does their aim fly true.

Their symbol is of a black yew longbow ringed by three white hawk feathers."

— Orders of the Turamzzyrian Empire

Gallard's Guardians

"Built on the edge of the massive Wyrdeep Forest, Gallardshold is a stronghold that has a small military garrison with the assignment of protecting the woodcutters, trappers, and other hunters of the area to secure the region's timber business. Even as human superiority seems to be on the rise in some areas of the Turamzzyrian Empire, it has significantly lowered in Gallardshold where Baron Caulfield and his family enjoy a relative peace with the independent elven communities of the Wyrdeep Forest, as well as many beneficial trade agreements between the races. In fact, in some areas of Gallardshold, elven culture has bled through, providing a slow mixture of styles.

However, despite the peace and relaxed view of Chaston's Edict, there still exists an undercurrent of racism in some hearts and minds of citizens within Gallardshold. Because of this, there exists two forms of demonstration -- one in support of the elves, half-elves, and sylvans of the area, and one that displays their opposition. Some townspeople wear a single hawk feather braided into the right side of their hair to show their support of the elves of the Wyrdeep and how they should be exempt from the cruelty of Chaston's Edict. Those who do not support this belief, or the elves, wear a white leather bracelet around their left wrist. While there exists a difference of opinions, there has been relatively no violence until more recent times.

Somewhere in the summer of 5099, a group of unnamed half-elves began to strike out at citizens in Gallardshold who openly wore the white leather bracelets to demonstrate their support of Chaston's Edict. At first, these series of attacks were thrown at the feet of the elves of the Wyrdeep until masked half-elf citizens of the town came forward, taking credit for the attacks and declaring they would continue until all racism was washed out of the city. Shortly after their announcement, many of the townspeople came to call them the Gallard's Guardians.

The anti-Chaston Edict group of half-elves have seen their numbers rise over the years, even if some refused to join in on attacks. Many provided shelter, weapons, even intelligence to these so-called freedom fighters who only sought to bleed the intolerant. Because of that, the outcry of those wearing the white bracelets have ebbed and flowed, often times turning the streets and taverns of the city into bloody brawls, and sometimes the attacks have led to murder on both sides. Baron Caulfield has been able to do little to help put the conflict at rest, as Chaston's Edict remains a law of the Turamzzyrian Empire, and while the Baron may be able to get away with ignoring it, he would be unable to officially make any laws or take specific actions against it without endangering his own position."

— Orders of the Turamzzyrian Empire
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