Abridged History of the 10th Age
The land of Fegonwé lies north-west of Agstowe and south-east of Essad. It is the slaving kingdoms of Essad and Soloth which have shaped it, their ancient outposts mouldering amongst its chilly hills. Arid scrubland and near-desert extends the entire length of Fegonwé. The great hill-forts of ancient Essad and Soloth have given the landscape the nickname “the Twelve Duns,” though the term might just as well be used to describe the color of the soil and grasses.
Alder, crab apple, ash, aspen, and birch along with blackthorn are the only trees which grow in Fegonwé. It has few natural resources save for some tin deposits and a pair of working silver mines, but manages to export a fair amount of pine tar for use in shipbuilding. Life among the Twelve Duns is often melancholy and dangerous, but better than beneath the yoke of some slaver-empire.
The native Fegonwen are descended from ancient Thegnari who were settled north of the imperial Milean borders in the Fourth and Fifth Age. These men bred with Valelans and other descendants of giants. Rather than growing larger, the maintained their small knotty shape and bear some strange resemblance to the Karlungs of Claulan. For several centuries they lived in clan-based societies, interacting only with the dwarves who sometimes filtered down from the Skinchanger Kingdoms and the elves of the Alfwood in Symbalia.
In the late Fifth Age, the city of Askaroth became the seat of a great and powerful new slaving empire: Essad. They rapidly conquered the southern stretches of Fegonwé and the north were later taken by Soloth. Fegonwé itself was not freed until the sorcerers of ancient Dorlinum burned Askaroth to the ground and covered it with shifting sands.
Fegonwé was united in X.99 shortly after the conquests of the half-orc Magron Thur united old Essad again. It was partially this pressure that led to the acquiescence of the clans. In that year King Theobald was crowned lord of the southern duns and master of the Fegonwen March. He used this power to retrench one of the ancient forts and build the castle of Aclath. Theobald and his daughter Ethelberht slowly worked to abolish tribalism in the Duns and make a modern kingdom of their land.
It wasn’t until Ethelberht’s own daughter Berchtild’s time that the clans were finally unmade—or rather transformed into the Twelve Houses of Fegonwé. Berchtild managed this only by fighting a brutal civil war which raged between X.172-88. When she died, the throne was seized by the northern houses and the castle of Aclath fell to ruin.
In the three hundred years since, six of the Twelve Houses have been destroyed and two new ones have been created. The throne has passed between all of them, but currently resides with Aldornath of Northambria, who dwells in his keep along the Solothen March near to the Soldier Hills.
The Fegonwen government is composed of hundreds of back channels and unofficial routes for the simple reason that none of the Houses (now Eight) has an official recourse while a foe holds the throne. Every Fegonwen belongs to the extended tribe or clan of one of the great houses—no man is free from allegiance or commitment, even those who try to escape it.
Common folk owe no taxes or fees unless there is war. Fegonwen do have a slave rank in their society, though they call them thrall: men and women captured during an inter-house war are set to tilling the public fields of the clan.
When war comes (determined by the head of the house) all households are required to send one able-bodied citizen to fight beneath their lord. This generally means that at least one member of every household trains with weapons during their free time, for a great sense of duty flows through most Fegonwen.
The Fegonwen Mindset
The people of Fegonwé are generally calm, even to the point where one might call them cold. They welcome strangers warily, making them at home but watching them for signs of danger. Tightly communal, folk of Fegonwé are strongly tied to their house and their lord, bearing his sign above their hearths and shouting his name when going to war.
Fegonwen will never travel upon the ancient Solothen or Essadi roads, calling them “slave tracks.”
Slave traders from Essad or Soloth are slain on sight. Caravans with markings identifying them as belonging to those nations are free game. In fact, if a Fegonwen can reasonably establish that merchants come from Essad or Soloth, he is legally permitted to slay them and confiscate their goods.
Fegonwen love to take offense, particularly if they are speaking to someone from another house. This offense generally leads to dueling, which is done either to the death, or until three shields have been shattered.
There are certain Fegonwen warriors said to be blessed by Talleal; these men and women are known as “wild ones.” Speculation is that this tradition comes from Valela, where the same practice is known as berserkergang.
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