Abridged History of the 10th Age
(from the Atlas of Arunia Ecumenia)
Just south of the Sunhome Bay lies the land of Muldonor, a land barely less wild than the Wilderlund itself. A rainy, storm-wracked region, Muldonor has long belonged to the sea and stone. A few ancient dwarven colonies cling to its sparing mountains and amongst its great dawnwood trees there dwell some far-flung and stranded members of the firbolg race.
A number of islands can be found off the western coast of Muldonor, most notably the archipelago known as Labyrinthine, from whence come the nature-spirits known as minotaurs. The harsh oceans of Muldonor are frequented by Vesimian ships and low-bellied merchanters from Kjellos.
In the Dawn Age Muldonor was known to the storm and cloud giants as a battleground. Wars raged up and down the coast as giants from as far away as ancient Byblos came to drive off the trolls living there. Most numerous in their support were the firbolg of the north, some of whom built permanent settlements in the area to ensure the trolls did not return in force. Allies in these wars were the minotaur of the Labyrinthine Isles, who helped to throw the trolls back into the sea.
Small human hamlets grew up during the Sword Age and a good number of wood elves moved into the forests from the Sun Shores. Due to its mountainous and impenetrable borders, Muldonor was spared from the worst ills of the Elf-Dragon Wars. When Shushor fell, a good number of Shushites found refuge in neighboring Haldera and a few made their way over the mountains and across the rivers to settle in Muldonor as well. A few mannish colonies were founded from Kjellos, but those soon lost contact with their homeland and became free cities.
In this age, Muldonor has been alternately free and ruled by one of the dominant cities along its coast. At first the city of Arden held sway, and then the city of Thorl. After a brief trade war between them, the lands were left on their own once again. Most recently, the city-state of Calam (founded by ancient Shushites) has been the most successful, but as of yet has failed to subdue the great wilderness of Muldonor.
In the middle of the 5th century Orvius Kavalson attempted to found a new school of sorcery, one that would train great numbers of young students in a style akin to the ancient schola of Miles. Lectures were held out-of-doors, and training in philosophy, art, and languages were all mandated. A library was assembled to serve as the common inheritance of all the Academy’s students and great magi from across Atva-Arunia were enticed to come and dwell there. Sadly, with Kavalson’s death during the War of the Colorguard in the Vales the school fell prey to the inherent instability of all wizardly relationships: the elder mages turned on one another. A general slaughter ensued, the two or three hundred children living there were slain, and the entire place now stands as a ghost-haunted testament to the pride of wizards.
The Muldonor Mindset
People from Muldonor tend to be strongly independent. While the coastal cities sometimes encroach upon the interior forests, the tribes of wood elves in the area are strong and more than capable of repelling them. Fierce but friendly, Muldonor’s people tend to value individual strength and accomplishment. Skill at arms is particularly highly prized due to the dangerous nature of the land. Freedom is an all-important part of Muldonite character, and a mutual respect has grown up between the races that dwell there.
Elves do not stray into the cities, nor do smallfolk leave the settled lands. Firbolg are left to themselves, as are the secretive dwarves. As long as no one transgresses upon another in Muldonor, the folk there get along fine. They can all be united like lightning, however, if the trolls rear their ugly heads.
Locations of Interest
The city of Arden is primarily Kjellian and maintains ties with King Magnus. It’s partially built on an ancient trollish coral reef. At night the wind and water rushes through the empty trollish manors at the waterline, sending up an eerie wailing to the moon. Ardainians are ruled by strict rotation. Each of the ten noble families choose (in turn) from amongst their house a person to be proclaimed the Prince of Arden. This prince rules for six years and, when his reign is over, is exiled from the city proper never to return on pain of death.
For several rods in every direction there stretch fields and towns, all subject to Ardainian law. These outlying settlements are protected by a series of bulwarks and fortifications to watch for trolls or other wild beasts. It’s to these small townships and distant manors that the former princes retire, forever barred from public life in the city thereafter.
Another Kjellian city, Thorl is of much harsher makeup than Arden. It has always been ruled with an iron fist by the Three Fates, warrior-queens who abandon their birth names when they are of age and instead are named after Uthir, Vethir, and Skuld—the three minor goddesses of fate. They are known, appropriately, as the Moirai. The tradition goes back to the founding of Thorl and the first years it stood against the trolls and the minotaurs (who were not fond of its closeness to their home). The symbol of the city is a distaff and shears.
The stony palace of the Moirai is one of the strongest fortress in the west and when danger comes to assail Thorl, it can hold nearly all of the cities’ population. The towns and villages under Thorl’s control worship the Moirai as the goddesses of fate incarnate, and they often tour through their holdings to reinforce this notion. Whenever war comes to Thorl, it is the Moirai who are expected to ride first into battle.
As soon as one of the Moirai perishes, her spirit is believed to find the next eligible daughter of the High Blood to inhabit. This girl is publicly acclaimed by the sacred diviners and elevated to fill the vacant office.
To look at, one would not assume that Calam had any Shushite heritage at all. The city is a jumble of wooden buildings, granite edifices, and deepwater quays. Calam was founded by Shushite survivors fleeing through Haldera, but they soon mixed with the local Kjellans. The only relic of Shushor that they brought with them is the myth of Shoshana of the Rose, the Rayan priestess who led them safely through the draconic armies sacking the lands of Haldera.
Calam is the most prosperous of the human cities in Muldonor and also possesses the
largest concentration of smallfolk in the form of the Water Village. This colorful quarter is located hard on the sea and mostly composed of gnomish boat-houses, tents, and wooden hovels. From the Calamite fleet there comes dawnwood, eunuchs cut and trained in the city, iron from the dwarven mines, jasper and opal from the rivers which feed it, and hazel from its gardens.
The city is ruled by a council of merchant-nobles known as the Tavaray. Right to sit on the Tavaray is determined by the number of ships one owns and is reserved for citizens of the city. This council maintains a permanent armed guard throughout the city that can be mustered into a sizable army if need be.
Strangely, Calamites are on the best terms of all Muldonorians with the minotaurs of the Labyrinthine isles, perhaps because they were considered sacred in ancient Shushor. Minotaurs will always hesitate to attack a Calamite ship or caravan, and they may be found in fair number among the city’s taverns and wine sinks. From time to time they can be found serving as mercenaries in the city guard.
The Orvean Academy
Ruins. Not far from the dwarvish workshops of Tarnmor stand the smoldering remains of Orvius Kavalson’s dream. A blackened dome, shattered brick halls, and scorched amphitheater stand amongst dark and twisted oaks. Behind high limestone walls coated in marble, the Academy ruins brood over the dark and dangerous sea. Smashed cottages where the Magisters once lived tell the tale of brutal violence that swept through the grounds. The Tower of Astrology lies strewn across the grass, the library looted and shattered.
Ghosts, it is said, infest every stone of this ruin. The remains of insane spellworks still sizzle across the earth, waiting for someone to accidentally discharge them. Strange and lurid lights shimmer over stone that melted and ran like wax. While there is great treasure to be taken from this place, the strangeness of the sight is enough to drive most adventurers away without a second glance.
Muldonorans are not united by any singular culture, and so it is difficult to assign customs to them. The few that are universal are listed here:
People from Muldonor will never board a ship without first knowing its name.
The labrys is a common weapon in Muldonor, perhaps due to its association with the minotaurs.
Gold being somewhat scarce amongst the Sturm Sea, Muldonorians prefer to make their transactions either in silver or in barter.
The mishmash of Low Varan, Avestic, and Redic spoken in Muldonor is almost completely unintelligible to outsiders for the first month or so of their stay there.
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