The North Skags are a grouping of three northern islands well known to the outside world. Ignored by the Allorn Empire and the perfect place of escape for slaves, the region bore the Cataclysm well, and much of its population survived. With time, culture came to the land, and after the arrival of most of the fleeing Skagger Horde from the Regalian Archipelago two warring kingdoms were born in what is now Nordskag and Hvitskag. Recently, the Kingdom of Nordskag has crushed the Hvitskag Horde, making their territory part of their own nation while nearby Mirnoye remains silent, shielded from the world by bizarre weather patterns which make it almost impossible to access. The North Skags are also known for the unique juxtaposition of warm waters with a cool climate across most of its three regions thanks to currents flowing up from Daen, which has allowed the locals to extract the bounty of the sea for their own use.
The North Skags’ history begins with the Allorn Empire. During their explorations north they discovered the landmass, charted the shores, and then moved to it. Unlike their southern jungles, the land’s thick trees and temperate climate did not interest them. As time went on, this was reinforced as very little of value could be found on the three landmasses aside from trees and generally ore-less mountains. An outpost or two were founded on the landmass, mainly to aid in communication with the Allorn Empire’s northern client state, the Drovv. Because of this, the region became an ideal ground to flee to if you were an Allorn Empire slave and many did, though a great number also died trying to get there. Things became slightly more difficult when much of the temperate climate of the Skags became a winter climate as the Great Ice Dragon was born in distant Ellador. The blast of cold air touched Mirnoye, Hvitskag, and much of Nordskag but the populations survived. It is here many believe the Velheim culture was born, though nearby Cain has long contested this title. The next major event in the region was, unfortunately, the Fifth Void Invasion. As the forces marched south toward the Allorn Empire, they passed through the North Skags though they left a minimal impact. The Cataclysm which occurred shortly afterward shook the North Skags greatly, and the local Ailor populations either died on the coasts or were thrown into chaos. For over 100 years, the Ailor remained isolated and decentralized. Around 150 AC, some small communities formed in the south and gradually, by 170 AC, there were several in the north as well. These came into contact with Ithania to the south and Cain to the north. Though the connection was minor, it was enough to inform the desperate Skagger Horde.
The majority of the Velheim tribes found in the Regalian Archipelago were fleeing, seeking new lands away from the Regalian Empire which was pushing them back on all fronts in its efforts to unite the entire Archipelago under their banner. The Skags offered a way out, and thousands fled to Nordskag and Hvitskag. Those sent to Mirnoye by the locals found themselves blocked by a vast storm current and what ships dared to brave the phenomena were seen to be destroyed. Returning to the other two Skags, Hvitskag soon found itself bursting with people and every inch of ground was contested between the different parties. In Nordskag on the other hand, the outside Velheim had quickly organized and effectively united themselves with the locals in a kingship. The newly formed Kingdom of Nordskag soon set its eyes on conflict-filled Hvitskag and invaded before 200 AC. Instead of the factionalism continuing as they had assumed, a Hvitskagger monarchy formed to combat them. This conflict began the century-plus long Nordskag-Hvitskag War which would rage until 305 AC. As for other affairs on the Skags, contact was briefly made with the Mirnoye by the Nordskaggers, who were promptly told never to violate Mirnoye sovereignty. Shortly after this, Nordskag found itself in conflict with an even older enemy: the Regalian Empire, which was seeking expansion over all the Ailor realms. Hostilities almost immediately broke out between the two nations as Chancellor Alexander the Giant declared war. For many years Nordskag had the upper hand. Alexander had not adequately prepared for the war he sought out and died quite soon into the conflict. However, over the coming years Regalia brought more direct force to bear against the Nordskaggers, mainly in the shape of artillery bombardment.
In 252 AC, King Markus Krumme called for an end to the fighting. He had grown tired of the constant warfare and knew even a society like the Velheim needed peace to rest and recover. He therefore made himself a vassal to the Regalian Empire. Over the coming years, Nordskag troops saw action in the Chrysant War, the Ranger Crisis and other conflicts, though mainly they fought minor battles against the Hvitskaggers who still warred against them. In 304 AC, the nation was beset by Bone Horrors because of the Bone Horror Crisis and, while initially losing, soon gained the upper hand and eliminated the largest threats with the help of a Regalian taskforce that arrived to help reconquer the land from the undead abominations. In 305 AC, several changes happened on the North Skags. The first was the death of Markus Krumme, who had ruled his lands for over 60 years. His son, Osvald Krumme, had been raised in the School of Viridian and was already half-Ithanian. He was not a Regalian puppet; while he did further unite with the Empire, replacing members of his court with Regalian officials, he was still Velheim in temperament. Immediately after, Regalian tacticians approached the king with an offer: the Regalian Empire would help conquer Hvitskag. Osvald Krumme immediately accepted and waged a capable, devastating war against his enemies.
In the middle of the conflict, an idiotic Regalian naval officer gave the order for all unknown ships in Skagger waters to be destroyed. This attack resulted in a dispute with the Mirnoye who, to the shock of all, defended themselves without a scratch by channeling lighting from their ships into those of their enemies. The officer was promptly sacked, and peace talks immediately took place. However, the cost was steep. Mirnoye now demanded all fortifications facing their lands be either unnamed or dismantled, which the Regalians were forced to accept. Since that time, the North Skags have been quiet. Hvitskag has been thoroughly subjugated, and no one has heard from the Mirnoye. Nordskag remains a loyal part of the Regalian Empire, and it is likely many Nordskaggers will continue traveling to Regalia to ply their service as soliders to that vast state.
The North Skags sits northwest of the Regalian Archipelago, northeast of Ithania and southwest of Cain. They sit at the intersection of several bodies of water, the Fendar Strait, the Great Middle Sea and northern waters which eventually form the Northern Emptiness The region is a blend of terrains, some northern and harsh while others are less so. Hvitskag, in particular, embodies this harshness. It is the most northward and far colder than the other two islands. As such, snow is constant across its rough terrain. Ridges and rugged hills cover much of its surface while small but dense forests are crammed between the craggy rocks, their growth fed by other frozen over streams. The people here are very rugged, wild and untamed. However, their recent defeat to Nordskag has prompted a brutal suppression of their individuality and nation. They are currently a territory under the Kingdom of Nordskag, and while it is part of the Regalian Empire, the Empire lets the Velheim deal with their own. The other two landmasses are different, with Mirnoye of a similar size to Hvitskag, and Nordskag itself is easily larger than the two smaller regions put together. However, Mirnoye and Nordskag do still share a lot of similarities. Both are flatter regions when compared to Hvitskag but also possess majestic, beautiful mountain ranges at the center of their respective landmasses. These formations bear thick pine forests which often stretch as far as each region’s respective coastlines, as well as rivers that spring forth from the great grey mountains. On Nordskag, marshes, swamps, and four large lakes exist, while on Mirnoye the water often flows straight along its path out to sea. In addition, Nordskag has several small grass plains in its southern half whereas Mirnoye has none. The coastlines of these two areas are also varied, sometimes made up of short to tall cliffs or almost no shoreline at all, with an ocean of trees suddenly replacing the ocean of water. Much of the water around Nordskag is not arctic cold and is instead warm and pleasant due to the currents carried up from Daen and over from nearby Fendarfelle.
Weather in the North Skags is of particular note for one reason: the Mirnoye Maelstrom. The Maelstrom is a wild and unruly weather pattern which rages across the Mirnoye landmass, and more strongly along the coastlines. It produces extreme wind gusts, heavy rainfall, and forms an almost impenetrable barrier between the Mirnoye landmass and the rest of the world. The Mirnoye people have developed special boats which allow transport to and from their home landmass, but most other wooden rigged ships are completely smashed against the cliffs before even being able to so much as lower a sloop into the water. The exact source of the Maelstrom is ill understood, even by the Mirnoye people themselves, but they have clearly learned from it as indicated by their electric weaponry used in a brief encounter with the Regalian Empire. Even more curiously, the weather wanes once a year on the 24th of November for no clear explanation, only to resume the next day and effectively shut off contact with the world. Some outsiders have taken this chance to travel into the mysterious region, but if any have ever been able to return, they don’t talk about what they have seen. The weather in the rest of the North Skags varies from cold to cool to occasionally, in southern Nordskag, warm. As for the political divisions of the North Skags, recent years have certainly simplified matters. The Kingdom of Nordskag sits on the entirety of the island of Nordskag and has extended its control over the whole of its northern neighbor, Hvitskag. Then, there is Mirnoye which is somewhat of a mystery due to its isolation from the world. There are three small states on the island, but the borders between them constantly shift based on the local loyalty of city councils and, as such, it’s hard to define with certainty the location of each state.
The North Skags possess a variety of plant life. The most obvious are the many types of evergreen tree that grow across the region, such as the Juniper Tree whose berries the local Velheim eat, drink and use in religious services. There are also smaller plants that grow in the forests, most notably several mosses like Dirtmoss and Duijnnemose, the second of the two is quite fascinating as its formations appear similar to the muscled Human form. There are also several species of fungi, like the Fingercap and Shademarsh Mushroom. These blanket the forest floor and thrive in and around the bodies of water found across all three landmasses. A final unique piece of the North Skags ecosystem is the pale blue and beautiful Friblomst. Despite the harsh cold of Hvitskag, where the plant grows, it survives and thrives in the forests of the continent. Due to the long war between Nordskag and Hvitskag, it has become a symbol of Velheim independence across The North Belt and the wider world.
The North Skags have a variety of fauna across the three islands. The most well known, despite its rarity, is the Medskala. The serpent thrives in and around bodies of water in Hvitskag and Nordskag with a venomous bite which helps it hunt. This venom has become a favored tool of Velheim assassins and plotters, though it is difficult to acquire. Other animals abound on the Skags, from the fierce Northern Wolf to the quick Teel Rabbit to the majestic Stand Antler. In the waters and skies are a number of other animals, notably the Nordskag Kreb, probably the most well known as a majority part of the local fishing industry. The Dragged Crow is another common sight and, though it is an animal with connotations of death in Velheim culture, also functions as a form of messaging system. Even more animals live in the settlements. Elladorian Mountain Trodders exist as herd animals, though others exist in the wild, and multiple domesticated dog breeds can also be found across the many settlements. Most were brought by returning soldiers after tours of duty serving Regalia or by foreigners who now live in the region.
Politics and Demographics
The North Skags as a political entity has been simplified over the past several years into only two bodies. The Kingdom of Nordskag is a feudal nation with numerous local barons serving the King. The nation has been a loyal, somewhat unwilling ally to the Regalian Empire over the past half a century. They only joined the Empire to end their longstanding war and because the Empire offered their warrior society glorification in battles fought across the whole of Aloria. Regalia has largely lived up to these expectations. But recently, the nation has thrown off its Regalian overlords. Nordskag was one of the few nations in the Empire that protested against the Burning of the North which scoured much of Drixagh late in 305 AC and 306 AC, and they temporarily left the Empire to try and force better conditions for the embattled Velheim community. The issue was ultimately resolved, though the quality of treatment and life of the Velheim in the Archipelago has arguably not improved. As for the nation of Hvitskag, the Hvitskag Horde which once existed there is gone. Most of its major leadership are dead and those remaining now live out their days in hiding. Even giving the Hvitskaggers excellent odds, Regalian strategists and advisors believe it will be at least ten years before the Hvitskaggers will ever attempt to rise up. Finally, there is Mirnoye and its three small states of Kazar-Bil, Yutharsk, and Smirmoye. As the borders for each region constantly shift every few years, it cannot be said who is dominant or weakest as within a few months it could radically change. In dealing with Regalia after the military incident, however, Smirmoye was the major presence alongside minor delegates from Kazar-Bil and Yutharsk. The reason for Smirmoye's prominence over the other two seems to have been because the ships were from the state but the presence of the other two nations suggests even if any of the states are violent, they can and will come together in mutual ties of defense to protect their sovereign land.
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The Mirnoy Ablast is a quasi-holy site for the Mirnoye people. The city sits near the coastline of Mirnoye, and outsiders can occasionally see its ghostly image through the Maelstrom. The story of the Ablast is shrouded in mystery, but it is known to be a massive, highly complex city. A massive conflict flared up among the Mirnoye within its walls, however, resulting in it being devastated and abandoned, becoming a dark husk of itself. The city is notable for several reasons, though the most important is the clear demonstration of Mirnoye architecture. Almost everything in the city is hewn from black granite, and it all features strong geometrically shaped buildings. Also, high walls surround the entire city, still upright after all of this time. Instead of towers to support sections of the wall, massive statues of the Mirnoye gods stand in silent guardianship of the city behind them. The ruin is largely treated as a holy site by the locals as their traditions dictate when the city fell, their Gods died. It is now a graveyard for the Gods. Regalian scholarly speculation about the city usually centers about extra-dimensional entities like the Arken having the city built for them only to break out into fighting, as the unstable entities are liable to do. However, other dismiss the event as pure superstition while others still believe that the exodus from the city perhaps led to the Vladno of Etosil or the nation of Morfadal.
The Ordvall Landgap is a sinkhole in Nordskag that randomly opened in 156 AC with little to no quaking of the ground. The sinkhole is around 300 meters wide and has never been fully explored due to an excess of toxic gases leaking up from the ground, which are so powerful they affect even Dwarf respiration after awhile. Some of the gases are also flammable, as a torch-carrying Orc found out one day near the mouth of the hole, resulting in him losing most of his body hair. Many assume it is somehow a passageway to the very distant Gana Eeshtar, caverns which now hold the isolated and permanently exiled Dakkar. More superstitious Velheim believe it to be a hole straight to the realm of Ul or somehow related to Haella. Others, far more radical, believe the chasm to be the beginning of Forseth (the Oldt Fayth end of the world), following in the vein of predictions that the world will fracture when the end comes.
Stiilinnsjø is a beautiful, pristine lake of freshwater found in the eastern half of Nordskag. The body of water is located north of its sister lake, Berolinnsjø, and is a wonderful sight. It is the largest inland area of freshwater in Nordskag, hosting large schools of trout and salmon swimming. Its clear waters reveal an emerald green lakebed of marine plant life and a surface dotted by Water Lilies. The lake also runs off into several beautiful waterfalls and rivers, adding to its beauty. The shoreline of Stiilinnsjø is mainly small sandy inlets and stretches of dull colored sand against the treeline. A few small areas, particularly on the western half of the lake, are also religious sites where honors are made to a variety of Velheim deities from Daguyr to Gaudr. However, the site has long been contested by the various barons from the Kingdom of Nordskag whose territory borders or is near the lovely lake. The fishing rights from this lake are invaluable as it helps those leaders to feed hundreds, earn admiration, respect and loyalty from being able to provide for their power base properly. While it is said no blood has ever entered the gentle waves of Stiilinnsjø, it has most definitely been spilled in the surrounding forest at various times for control of the lake.
- Some believe Hvitskag and Mirnoye were connected before the time of the Cataclysm due to their eastern and western coastlines respectively seeming to fit together like puzzle pieces.
- The Kingdom of Nordskag has long been the endless supplier of ferocity to the Regalian Military, their savage Velheim warriors well known for hit and run actions.
- Despite records clearly indicating it, no remains or ruins of Allorn Empire outposts have ever been found in the region. Some claim that the fortifications might have fallen into the sea, though others believe the dense forests of Nordskag might have consumed the ruins, totally sheltering them from the naked eye.