Kingdom of Hedryll
The Kingdom of Hedryll is a Northerne Ailor realm situated upon the middle-most of the southern Elladorian islands. Having once held most of southern Ellador in its prime, the state has since been reduced to two islands south of the mainland. Hedryll is bordered by unclaimed land to the north, and shares seas with High Trollar and the Federation of Trollstigel. Most of the population are Ailor, with the dominant religion being the Old Gods. The roots of Northerne Culture can be traced back to the first Ailor tribes that settled within its lands.
The Kingdom of Hedryll was not formed until 146 BC, with various tribes inhabiting the kingdom’s original domain for a century before. Prior to its establishment, Hedryll’s region was home to squabbling communities that reached a climactic war in the year of 142 BC With the formation of two confederations hailing from either of the two islands, a conclusion was finally reached with a dramatic duel between the chieftains. The first of the kings from the House of Vanso crowned himself on the New Years’ Eve of 146 B.C. King Torstig I quickly subjugated the other tribes within the region and had started construction of the capital of Jedmark by 140 B.C. Torstig ruled the lands benevolently, having prepared the realm for conquest by the time of his death. At the time of his funeral, his twenty eight sons all faced each other in combat, with the winner being promised the crown of Hedryll. King Erkil survived the melee and went to start the lengthy conquest of southern Ellador in the year of 128 B.C. In his reign, he solidified the inheritance law, and proclaimed that the eldest son of the ruler should inherit the realm.
The years between 100 B.C. and the Cataclysm are acknowledged to be the “golden age” of Hedrylli rule and a definitive point in their culture, due to the abrupt start of the kingdom’s raiding culture. Adventurers from every corner of Hedryll and Ellador would flock to the banners of boat-owners, and would sail across the Altar Sea towards the shores for thrill and wealth. All of Hedryll was consolidated under the rule of the King, who allowed for autonomous tribal chiefs to inhabit and use the land. The only true obligation that any man of Hedryll possessed was the need to enlist in the Grand Host, that embarked numerous times to larger settlements. The Host embarked multiple times on massive fleets, and sailed as far as Ithania for their search of plunder. Various expeditions were immortalized in poetic epics by the story-telling skalds and shamans. Most Kings had a song to their own name, with numerable captains and chiefs gaining the same honor. To this day, modern Hedryllian communities still speak of the legendary expeditions with awe and reverence on cold winter nights.
The Cataclysm of 0 AC shook the kingdom greatly. The event disturbed the tides of the Altar Sea greatly, and many found it impossible to navigate the seas without being blown leagues off course. A single, legendary expedition was made towards Kingdom of Nordskag before the raiding age of Hedryll came to an unsatisfying end. After many years of obscurity, the kingdom received an abrupt awakening to war in the year of 156 A.C when their king Jorstig, posthumously known as the ‘Saint’, declared a crusade against the growing Vampire numbers. Though the war started in favor of Hedryll’s huscarls, the growing numbers of the hulking vampires caused a dramatic tipping point in the lengthy campaign. After many bloody years, the Vampires seized victory and disassembled Hedrylli control over southern Ellador in 185 A.C. Jorstig fell ill soon after his defeat, and his eventual passing marked a dark age for the kingdom. Subsequent crusades were declared by his successors, but most were short-lived and ultimately unsuccessful.
The Kingdom returned to its deteriorated state after the crusades, and once more adopted a seat in the background of Aloria. Few unsuccessful incursions were made against the encroached Vampires in southern Ellador. Hedrylli tribes swelled in number every few decades, and released many discontented youths into Nordskag and Regalia, starting the last of the Migration Period of the old Northerne world. Even centuries after the cataclysm, the roughened coasts and raging waters kept Hedryll mostly barred from the rest of the world. Trade ships did make their way around the disturbances for a chance to trade in Hedryll’s boreal wealth, but many find Jedmark’s docks to be the last breath of relief before its final steps into the waterways within Ellador. But in spite of the weight that came crashing down upon the kingdom after the Cataclysm and the Vampire Crusade, the people still sing songs of the days of glory, and hope silently that the Grand Host will come calling for their axes once more.
Before the kingdom itself was established, the southern island of the two isles was known as Hyjdreil, while the northern landmass was called Veysdreil. These names were adopted by the two confederations of tribes that hailed from either island during the conquest war in 142 BC. When the southern faction, the Hyjdreil tribes, overtook the other faction, the kingdom itself adopted the name Hyjdreil. It has since corrupted to Hedryll, partly due to the evolution of the Haak language.
Hedryll currently stands upon two islands under Ellador’s southern Altar coasts. The islands themselves are mostly tundra, and almost completely uninhabited further inland due to a lack of any usable property. Most settlements are situated on the coast, with various hunting communities encamped around the wooded areas that have grown sparsely across the island. The largest settlement is the capital city of Jedmark, built on a thin land bridge that connects the central and southern regions of the south isle. There is one major settlement on each island, though the rest of the settlements are almost nomadic in nature, as the inhabitants usually migrate between each based upon the seasons.
The southern coast of Hedryll serves as a seasonal barrier between the Altar Seas and southern Ellador. Tundras and hills sweep much of the land, almost perpetually covered in some amount of permafrost.
- The City of Jedmark
- Jedmark is the seat of the throne, and a converging point for any trade that is done within Ellador. Many of Jedmark’s buildings are constructed with interlocking wooden beams, and roofed with thatch. Almost every pillar and board has an intricate carving or inscription that reflects the custom of tattooing among Hedryll’s people. A large stone dock dominates the southern end of town, and is one of the only secure ports for trade besides Regalian ones. Its security is attractive and heartbreaking, for many a ship is turned away from the well-defended docks and sent out to the seas once more. While bleak and often covered with snow, any traveler will appreciate the coziness that each home and hearth radiates. Two castles stand within the region, both of which are built with stone; a rarity in the kingdom. The larger of the two is built to serve as a lighthouse, and rests next to the docks.
- Havadborg Castle
- Built by the famous stonemason Havad the Ironhead, the fortification was adopted as the King’s residence during the rule of King Åke. The castle adopts modern utilitarian architecture and old Hedrylli beauty in harmony, appearing both eerily graceful and nigh-impenetrable as it stands today. It is noted upon by many military engineers for its various defensive constructions, with many theorizing it to be one of the most defendable fortifications in the history of architecture. Entry into the castle itself is hazardous, requiring entry in either a very well-exposed courtyard or a treacherous walk along the crevasse that the castle was built beside.
- The Kestildal Groves
- Hedryll’s northern island has a collection of heated springs inland that cultivate a large, vegetated region of pines and undergrowth known as Kestildal. A large number of nomadic citizens circle the area slowly throughout the year. Much of the hunting culture of the kingdom is centered here, though the maze of trees remain a mystery to even the most seasoned of hunters. Fine pelts and meats are taken from here, and brought to Jedmark for food and trade.
- Tolsdra Temple
- Tolsdra is a large temple, dedicated to union of fire in the Old Gods religion, made of stone that stands upon a small collection of geo-thermally active springs in the southernmost tip of Hedryll’s two islands. Tolsdra is known to be one of the longest standing temples dedicated to the Old Gods. The few farmlands that are graced with seasonally temperate currents pay a small tribute of grains from which the monks of Tolsdra ferment alcoholic brews. The value of these seldom-brewed drinks are quite high, and hold a reputation among Northerne nobles as being a powerful drink.
Unlike a typical Ailor kingdom, the only family to possess an identity beyond father and son is the royal House of Vanso. For all other families, the only indication of prominence is by mutual agreement from peers. To preserve the custom, all individuals are known by their own name, then their father’s. All save for the king state their name as given, then their father’s name followed by a -senn, or dohtir. As a consequence for this short-sighted view of familial ties, there exists only two classes of citizen: royal, or non-royal.
For all who cannot lay claim to the crown by direct descent, the law dictates that a person of Hedryll cannot claim land nor ownership of another person, be obliged to answer the call of the Grand Host, and must follow the laws of their tribe. Every man and his family share a tent for themselves, which remains mobile throughout the year to follow the seasons and their fruits. The only permanent home for the typical Hedrylli is the nomadic homelands, where each family either builds or claims a hall to keep their belongings. Upon the death of the father figure, the belongings of the deceased is split among his children, and the house is abandoned for another man to claim. The city of Jedmark is the nomadic homeland of the Vanso tribe, where the king’s own clan make their homes.
An unofficial class is placed between the royal and non-royal, that being the ruling chief or chieftess of the tribe. With the aid of an elected sage, the chief dictates and enforces the laws of his tribe, lest he be deposed and slain by his peers. The chiefs are elected among the eligible men and women between the ages of 30-50 by their fellow tribesmen. Nepotism is strictly disallowed by crown law, which prevents families from claiming a full lineage of chiefs.
List of Rulers
Each ruler is listed with their posthumous title, which is often mentioned more than their birth name. Throughout history, the royal house Vanso has never been deposed, holding their traditional birthright as kings for over four centuries.
- King Torstig I ‘The First’(146 BC - 128 BC)
- Erkil I ‘King-Warden’(128 BC -108 BC)
- King Torstig II ‘The Furious’ (108 BC-96 BC)
- King Sygjur ‘King-Slayer’ (96 BC - 54 BC)
- King Ruuflr ‘Windchaser’ (54 BC - 10BC)
- King Orvar ‘The Returned’ (9 BC - 0 AC)
- King-Regent Kosvir ‘The Usurper’ (0 AC - 14 AC)
- King Orvar ‘The Returned’ (15 AC - 37 AC)
- King Torstig III ‘The Old’ (37 AC - 97 AC)
- King Rikulfr ‘North-Treader’ (98 AC - 155 AC)
- King Jorstig ‘The Saint’ (156 AC - 186 AC)
- Queen Jannike ‘The Absolver’ (186 AC - 224 AC)
- King Armand ‘The Foreigner’ (224 AC - 236 AC)
- King Åke ‘The Trueblood’ (237 AC - 278 AC)
- King Dasmjund (279 AC - Current)
Very few nations maintain cordial relationships with the Kingdom of Hedryll due to its mostly isolated nature. The Kingdom has various blood ties with nations, thereby obligating some participation in global politics.
- Kingdom of Nordskag
- Hedryll has been both Nordskag’s most powerful rival and stalwart ally, with their modern relations resting on a friendly cordiality. Only Nordskag ships are permitted to trade amongst the Hedrylli people, which in turn breathes valuable commodities between the nations. Many Hedrylli sing praises of the Nordskagan women and landscape as a token of appreciation for their sister-across-the-Altar.
- Tribelands of High Trollar
- The Ogres of High Trollar and the Hedrylli have an interesting relationship, where ogres have been brought to Hedryll to work as slaves for the larger tribes since antiquity. As the ogres become more extensively hunted, more find their way into Hedrylli lands to either be hunted once more or enslaved by the merciful.
- Kingdom of Arlora
- Hedryll had long ago pledged allegiance to the kingdom of Arlora following the Cataclysm as a way to establish a foothold in the eastern continents. Many young Hedrylli warriors sail to the kingdom and participate briefly in the never-ending conflict against the kingdom of Torse. Arloran ships, while having no permission to dock in the Hedrylli ports themselves, often find their way to smaller posts along the coast of the Hedylli lands and trade with smaller tribes or smugglers.
- The Regalian Empire
- Many centuries ago, Hedryll raided the pre-Imperial Regalian Archipelago often and held a strong grip over the control of the Altar Seas. However, these hostilities have completely ceased following the Cataclysm, and Hedryll and Regalia lost all contact for close to a century. All that remains between the two nations is a link of religion, for the Old Gods is worshipped between both states.
Almost the entirety of Hedryll’s population are prepared to spring into the state of war at a moment’s notice at the behest of the Grand Host of the King, portraying the sheer eagerness that the kingdom’s military possesses. With no certain organization for rank, Hedryll’s warriors rely on bloodlust and sheer fighting fervor for victory. As a result, the entirety of the nation’s military is capable of taking on sophisticated armies, so long as fortune favors the Hedrylli horde. That being said, the King’s Host is quick to retreat and regroup, preferring guerilla tactics and psychological warfare over formal encounters.
Hedryll prides itself over their warriors and their individual skill, more than any other aspect of martial affairs that they may possess. In spite of popular belief, the Hedryll ships offer no tactical advantage and merely serve to be above-average modes of transporting armies. Sieging is done through fear tactics and banditry instead of breaching fortifications.
Economy and Technology
Foreign economy has little presence in Hedryll. The entirety of the kingdom is self-sufficient, playing nicely with its isolationist nature. What few commodities are extracted and created from the tundra are rare, only being traded away in private deals made by eager merchants. Coins hold no set value in Hedryll markets, with any business being conducted by barter.
- Metal-Working - Smiths of Hedryll are known to produce weapons of masterwork quality from the iron excavated from exposed cliff faces. Iron is somewhat scarce in the region, but any amount is found to be alarmingly pure. This iron is smelted in high temperatures in special chambers that reduce the amount of slag found within, creating powerful steel from the carbon within the coal. The axes made by Hedryll’s smiths are infamous in their cutting edge, and are on par with Dwarven weaponry. Some of the ingots are kept to be sold, or stockpiled for future projects.
- Whaling - The practice of hunting whales is a recent innovation in the kingdom. Using drums and spears, a small fleet of ships can coax aground a medium-sized whale to be carved for bones and meat. Precious few tribes are able to perform such a feat, but the reward of meat can sustain a tribe for a whole winter with much to spare. Bones procured from the whale carcass are often sold as ivory in the port of Jedmark, or turned into hunting weapons.
Very few foreigners establish permanent homes in the Kingdom of Hedryll. What few other-landers are often there due to circumstance, as proven by the small population of Dwarves and Isldar who have found places among the tribes despite their distance from home. Most other foreigners are often chased away after an extended stay, severely limiting inter-cultural relationships within the region. As a result, a non-existent amount of half-Hedrylli ever continue the traditions of their homeland.
- 95% Northerne Hedrylli Ailor Human
- 2% Dwarf Human
- 2% Isldar Nelfin
- 1% Other
Art in Hedyll is an expression of accomplishment. Every product of creativity is conjured to express personal feats; a good hunt or a victorious melee is occasion enough to start a piece or commission another to do so. While not explicitly a method of keeping history (Which is primarily done through oral tradition), many stone-carvers and painters are paid to record feats accomplished by their employer. Older works eventually become historical records through the steady collection of artistic pieces over the years. Due to the sparsity of natural resources, art is normally confined to metal-working, carving, or basic painting.
Tattoo Culture - One of the single-most prominent features of art in the Hedrylli culture is personal marking. Typical for a region with Northerne customs, almost all inhabitants of Hedryll possess intricate tattoos that span from the wrist to the pelvis. Every teenager earns their first tattoos at the age of 15 as a result of a maturity ritual, with subsequent markings added in intervals of 5 years based on their accomplishments since the last tattoo. With each design slowly creeping from the cuff of the hand towards the body with every addition, an elder Hedrylli would be heavily adorned with tattoos by the time of their death. These tattoos are usually implemented by pricking dyes of dark gray, red, and green underneath the skin with a fishbone needle. Every tribe has its own sub-community of tattoo artists.
Recreation - Hedrylli pastimes usually involve hunting, sparring, craft, or embarking on short expeditions. These activities are carried out with the intent of providing natural resources while challenging participants to skill mastery. From their childhood, men and women play to hone their martial skills and create friendly rivalries between their peers. Such behavior is taught and encouraged by parents, and then passed onto the next generation in the same manner. Any other forms of recreation are usually in the form of small games of chance that involve carved dice or other toys.
Many tribes also have a local trade or craft that is usually adopted by a fair number of the young with each generation. Coastal tribes expect many of their members to spend their time ship-carving, while hunting communities would beckon the children to take up the art of fletching or bow-stringing. Every traditional tribal trade contributes greatly to the overall well-being of the tribe itself. Out of these repeated practices, blacksmiths and other similar artisans emerge.
Clothing - Fashion is practically non-existent in the realm of Hedryll, with all folk wearing some sort of pelt or armor in place of typical clothing. While there is some pride towards the craft of armoring, this remains the full extent of the fashion scene in the kingdom. Practicality is placed above aesthetics for the garb of every citizen.
Food and Diet - The climate of Hedryll beseeches its inhabitants to consume hearty meals at regular intervals. Unlike the practices of other Ailor, the people of the kingdom eat two meals a day; a meal known as ‘hunt-stuffs’ in the late morning, and the evening meal known as ‘thing-meal’ which is performed communally at sunset. Meals are taken to improve the bonds between the tribespeople, for the first meal is enacted to bring family together. Every tribe’s evening meal is eaten with each other’s neighbors, for every family’s cook brings in a dish to be consumed by all around the campfire or feasting tent. For the coastal communities, fishing and whaling provides the largest source of food for all. Underwater vegetation such as kelp is also extracted to be consumed alongside the day’s catch, for it is agreed upon by many that simply eating meat weakens the body. Similarly, the hunting tribes rely on game meat for food, though they have liberty in choice due to their proximity to designated farmlands. Berries, deer meat, farm vegetables, and bread make their way to the tables of the inland tribes. All tribes have a resident brewer, who provides barrels of ale, mead, or beer to be consumed as well.
Architectural Style - Many of Hedryll’s constructions are temporary, ready to be taken down in haste if a situation required it. Tents and wooden sheds often make their place as the regular home for most of the Hedrylli people, frequently decorated with markings and carvings wherever possible. What few constructions are made for extended use are often created to stand against heavy weather, possessing extremely steep roofs and stone walls.
Hedryll follows a deviation of the Old Gods religion, possessing many more deities and legends than that of the standard belief. These beliefs vary between tribes, so it is impossible to objectively list the additions to the original religion that the people of Hedryll possess.
The most prominent symbol in Hedryll heraldry is a warhorn, stylistically imposed to bring emphasis on the bell. It represents the authority of the Grand Host, the only true obligation that all Hedrylli citizens hold. It is featured prominently in the Royal Coat-of-Arms, and finds itself hidden away in carvings and other works of art. Body tattoos often have at least one or two warhorns depicted in the designs, as it often represents service to the royal house or the Grand Host.
- A tribe is dedicated to protecting the vast grove of Kestildal, often challenging passing tribes for the rights to hunt in the bountiful region. Contests of skill are often held when this tribe meets another, where it is decided whether or not the visiting tribe gains the right to hunt in the deeper reaches of the grove that season. Large, joyous feasts are carried out in the wake of every encounter.
- Tales of blonde raiding men are told along the eastern continents and go so far as to find reference in the Yang-Tze Isles. This suggests that the Hedrylli raiders have made landfall as far as the lands of the Ch’ien-Ji in the height of the kingdom’s power. The belief is reinforced with the number of Chien artefacts in the royal treasury.
- It is said amongst the elders and wisemen of the Hedrylli people that there was once a rival nation to the south of Hedryll filled with decadent and wasteful people with long manes of brown hair. The old stories go that an ancient leviathan deity swallowed this land upon catching scent of their gluttony and caused the Altar Sea to rise. Scholars suggest this story to be a cautionary tale against the ambitious nature of the Regalian people, as it is a commonly told childhood tale.