Realms of the Free Kings
History of the Realms
The Realms of the Free Kings are a group of ancient, powerful Kingdoms established in the rich lands south of the Starpeak mountains. The Realms were established some five hundred years after the fall of Skos.
There are six Kingdoms of Men, four Kingdoms of Elves, seven strongholds of Dwarves, one hidden city of Flen, and a massive city of Ansvar. Though the Realms are civilized and old, the settled areas of each Kingdom are often surrounded by trackless miles of wilderness. Armies of Ogres often plague the Realms, along with massive bandit armies or Murmanityedi rebels. In addition, the fall of Murmanityed broke the bond that held the Realms in so tight an alliance. Old disputes and new arguments have arisen amongst the various powers, and many of their disputes are settled through warfare.
After the fall, many of the Realms stood down their gigantic armies, and are reluctant to build them back up again with the Empire gone, and so the Realms has become a profitable draw for mercenary bands. Hundreds of bands travel to the Realms each year at the start of the spring campaign season, hiring out to fight the little wars of the various states.
The Realms greatest and most powerful neighbor is the island kingdom of New Skos. Ruled by a monarchy of noble Sea Elves, New Skos is a powerful force for good. From time to time, New Skosian ships and armies have intervened in the fracturing Realms, trying to keep the peace between what was once their strongest ally.
Also in the Realms is a region known as the Pale, or the Pale of Bones. The Pale is a strange area laying across the old border with the Empire. Great battles were fought here, powerful magics unleashed, so that the very fabric of the world frayed. The Pale is an unnatural place, full of strange creatures, where the grip of reality grows thin.
The Lesser Exodus
After the Murmanityedi Empire was broken up by the Silent Heroes, the Realms of the Free Kings found they had less and less binding them to alliance. Over time, long-buried resentments and put-off claims began to come to the fore, and the Realms began fighting amongst themselves. New Skos was powerless to intervene in these wars, for fear of taking sides and polarizing part of their former alliance against them. These wars started small, but grew as more and harsher as conflict fed upon conflict. Soon, battles were occurring every summer as warlords rallied small loyal armies to raid or conquer.
Many of the people of the Realms, especially the humans, lamented this fracturing of peace. Being less closely tied to their homelands than the other races, small family groups of Realmsmen began to leave the Realms, traveling the in the ships of the Sea Elves or in Realm-built great ships. They scattered world-wide, some to New Skos, some to far and exotic lands, and many to the Kingdoms, where it was said that at least peace reigned between men of good will. This became known as the lesser exodus, and only became greater after Newholm vanished and the Misten Strait opened to the Kingdoms.
The Great Exodus
In 170 TC, the great armies of the Ogre-King Sheek advanced upon two neighboring human kingdoms, Tir Collegia and Tir Sylvania. The epic story of their four year war with Sheek's armies is told in Princess Lyniss Leigh's treatise, War of the Two Tirs. As her writing tells us, the Ogre Armies were quite powerful and well supplied, and slowly drove back the combined armies of the two embattled Tirs. Finally, at the Battle of Tembledon, the Tir armies were broken and Princess Lyniss' father, King Alton Leigh, was slain. Defeat seemed imminent, and Ogre-King Sheek sent a harsh list of terms to the rulers of the two Tirs.
Princess Leigh would have none of it, and declared that if her people could not hold Tir Sylvania, their beloved homeland, then no force would take it from them. She rallied what was left of her armies and began an epic march to the sea, taking her last ten thousand troops and retreating slowly before the Ogre armies. Her last great captain, Hal Weft, kept his vanguard of Cavalry busy, harassing the Ogres, giving the Princess' army time to withdraw. Behind the shield of the army, hundreds of thousands of Sylvanians were abandoning their homes, taking all they could carry and streaming for the coasts, where the great ships of Sylvania awaited them. As the army retreated, they burned everything of use to the Ogres, even the great trees which had once made Sylvania famous among the Tirs as bowyers and shipwrights.
Finally, the Princess' army reached the shore, and her entire army loaded up and left the Realms of the Free Kings. They were not alone, however. The Ogre armies had also defeated Tir Collegia that day at Tembledon, and another army was advancing into that Tir's lands. Their King, Galten Mag Ach, led what was left of his armies in delaying battles against the Ogre horde, but he could see that all was lost. The terms the Ogre King wanted were so harsh as to be intolerable, and with no other option, King Galten ordered the same trek as Princess Lyniss - a long, slow retreat to the great rivers and the ships of Tir Collegia. The Collegians could not bear to burn their lands as the Sylvanians did, and so retreated leaving green fields behind them.
Thanks in no small part to the bravery of King Galten, they reached the river and their ships with a half million people, all taking to the sea in whatever ships would float. The fleets met off the coast of the Realms, and the King and Princess of the two Tirs decided to cast their fates together, at least until they found shelter for their people. They sailed northwest, attempting a landing first at New Skos, trying to find refuge for her people there. New Skos is a wealthy nation, but they would not accept a million refugees with a battle fleet landing on their shores. They had no choice but to sail northward, led by the two great line-of-battle ship Argo A handful of ships were lost to storms or sea monsters, but always the great ships would recover a handful of survivors and doggedly sail northward, past dead Murmanityed, coming to the island port of Eregant. The Prince of that isle would allow no Sylvanian to set foot on his lands - they were too many, and he feared the would usurp his power.
Finally, the great fleet arrived at Triton Island. The single Barlozian galley that went to intercept them was dwarfed by the armada of vessels sailing up from the south, though even the Kingdom sailors could see that the great ships could not weather many more storms. Princess Lyniss Leigh, King Galten Mag Ach, and Hal Weft landed at Triton, seeking asylum for their people. Faced with just under one million refugees from the two Tirs, the representatives of the Kingdoms were obliged to contact their monarchs with such a massive request for asylum. All of the Kingdoms agreed to let a set amount of peoples join them, those that would separate from their people and come to live in a strange land. A few thousand from each Tir set out for Aligindel, or Spaartha, or Ehrenland. A handful of brave souls chose to head to Tir Castellan, but for the most part, the Realmsmen were city folk, and with no resources except their ships, did not look forward to life in the wilderness. Finally, Queen Saerilaith of Barloz agreed to admit all the Realmsmen of both Tirs into Barloz, though they would have to be broken up, as no city in Barloz could house nigh unto a million souls.
Princess Lyniss believed that her Tir should not be broken into so many fragments, and so decided on one last plea. She went to Knight-Captain Mar bel-Ald, commander of Aruthien forces on Triton Island. She revealed to the Aruthien officer that she was a follower of Mishya, and pleaded with him to allow her to present her case to the Queen of Aruthien. Mar relented, and Princess Lyniss was sent by arcane means to Tir Athway, where she met with Queen Brynnia Galili bel-Phillipi. What passed between the two young women is unknown, but somehow Lyniss managed to convince the Aruthien ruler to lift the ban on foreign peoples coming to Aruthien for her Tyr. All those Sylvanians who wished to come to Aruthien would be accepted. The majority of them went with their princess to Aruthien.
Their fleet of battered greatships was left at Triton Island isle, since they were in no condition even to sail as far as Tir Arnoth. The shipwrights of Triton now had hundreds of Realm-built greatships, many in sinking condition, with which they might re-build into a real deep water fleet. As a gift to her newfound Kingdoms, Princess Lyniss and King Galten gave their fleet as a gift to the Kingdoms, and many of the original sailors and marines of the Fleet stayed on [[Triton Island}, preferred the life of the sea to farming well inland. Princess Lyniss and the majority of her people went onward to Aruthien. For many of Lyniss' refugees, Tir Arnoth was far enough, and they settled in that port city. For still more, the farming towns of Tir Casta and Towyr seemed idyllic. The bulk of the Sylvanians settled in Arcada, the half-empty former capital of Aruthien, many of them buying the cheap land inside the old walled city itself. For still more Sylvanians, however, the cities of Aruthien seemed confining and dark, and so they fanned out to many of the smaller towns, with some small communities - ones that would have made up their own small town back in Tir Sylvania, for example - going on as far as Arnland or Tir Athway. For the Princess herself, for her gift of ships, she was granted the title Duchess of Staenland, and given a holding east of Aruthien proper, a wild land under the sway of the Fey. If any can live in harmony with the Fey, it would be her people. Every year, more Sylvanians trickle east to Staenland.
Hal Weft and the remnant of his Tir army formed the Staenland Legion, and serve at the Princess' behest. (Princess Lyniss, though only a Duchess, has been granted the courtesy of her former title, as she is still Princess and heir to Tir Sylvania, even though those lands have been seized from her family) It is said that the Realm Princess and the Aruthien Queen have become fast friends and close allies.
For Tir Collegia, the vast majority of them found Barloz to their liking. Civilized, friendly to magic, and in need of people, soon the towns of Barloz found themselves with streams of refugees pouring into them, especially those eastern towns so badly depopulated by the Ice Queen's War. Sadly, just as his people were finally safe, King Galten Mag Ach passed the gates of Geth, leaving his daughter, Yvonne Els Ach, the only heir to his lost Kingdom. Yvonne was granted the Duchy of Perdaith by Queen Saerilaith in a move to bind the Collegians to Barloz.