Important Historical Notes
for the Nation of Rhiassa
for the Nation of Rhiassa
Rhiassa, like other storied nations that make up the Realms, has a history that is roughly three decades old. Unlike many other venerable nations, however, Rhiassa greatly benefits from having members that have been around since the founding of the country still contribute to the efforts of the group. Sir Duncan began the nation in 994 and, even after passing on leadership to Sir Da'oud, still continued to be of great service to Rhiassa as the first elder. Later on, when Da'oud passed the lordship on to Sir Aeston, Da'oud took the title of elder as well and likewise continued to help the country succeed.
Because Rhiassa is a nation of several generations, with representatives from each generation still or recently active in the community, our chain of history remains well preserved. Below you can find a list of major events that have punctuated Rhiassa's past along with stories that will help put them in context.
Sir Duncan, a Knight of the Eternal Flame, grew up in a place far from the Realms, far enough that its location relative to the Realms is still unknown. Duke of a land called Crestview in the kingdom of what we now call Old Rhiassa, Duncan's lands were destroyed in a surprise attack by an army of drow from the realm of Nifelheim. Soon afterwards the entirety of the kingdom was besieged by the evil race.
One of the knights of Old Rhiassa and an accomplished hero in his own right, Duncan undertook a great quest to find an ally against the drow, a fae elf known as Lorien. Though the elf was gravely wounded when they rescued him, Duncan was successful in bringing the fabled creature back to the castle of Old Rhiassa where he began to recover. Meanwhile, the drow army and the people of the kingdom prepared for what would be their final battle.
The forces of Rhiassa, led by their knights, clashed with the army of the drow across an expansive battlefield, and although they fought valiantly, the best the people of Rhiassa could do was slowly give ground as they were forced back towards the center of the kingdom. During this exchange, Duncan was gravely wounded and brought back to the inner keep where the fae elf Lorien saved him from the dire effects of the drow poison.
By the time Duncan was roused from his sickness, the drow army had broken through the interior of the castle. All of Old Rhiassa had fallen but for the king's tower, where Duncan and a handful of others now sought to make their last stand. Hope would have been lost then, but Lorien opened a portal into fae, and the few soldiers and nobles who remained fled the destruction of their kingdom into an uncertain fate.
Those warriors and gentry were scattered from one another in the wilds of fae. Many of them Duncan never saw again, but with the help of Lorien he was eventually able to find his cousin, Lady Fallon. Together they stepped out of fae and into the lands of the Realms. There was no way to return to the land that they came from and no kingdom left to go back to in any case, but the two Rhiassans did not fall to despair. Instead they chose to honor the lands that they came from and the memories of those who had died in the drow invasion.
They donned the heraldry of their old kingdom, the black lion, but on a blood red field instead of the traditional white, to symbolize all they had lost. They began their new lives then, and while they never forgot the link to their past, they remained steadfastly focused on building a new future for the country of Rhiassa.
From the very foundation of the Realms began the tradition of armies practicing the arts of war though great battles of steel and magic. In the earliest days of our community, these battles were held under the banner of Valehaven, the earliest kingdom in the history of the Realms, in a series of tournaments called the Duke of Glendale. But as the Realms aged, those events drew to a close.
Sir Duncan and Lady Fallon, having barely escaped the destruction of Old Rhiassa in the drow invasion, understood well the need to have a ready and standing army that was both practiced in tactics and individually capable in skill. Inspired by stories of the old Duke of Glendale gatherings, they decided to build on that tradition and designed a new series of tournaments set on an even grander scale. It was a daunting task to undertake, but not one they would have to conquer alone.
In the months since Duncan and Fallon emerged into the Realms, there were a few other refugees from Old Rhiassa who had found their way out of the mists of fae and who had donned the same red and black heraldry as their leaders. They were joined as well by new heroes from the lands of the Realms who were drawn to the ethics of honor and hard work that Rhiassans committed themselves to. Together as a small but united group of people, these refugees of Old Rhiassa and their newly sworn allies took on the task of ushering in a new staple of tournament competition. The era of the Queen of Hearts Tournaments and War Maneuvers had begun.
There was no formal announcement, no fanfare or celebration. But the moment that the once-scattered members of Old Rhiassa came together to make Queen of Hearts a reality was the moment that the nation of New Rhiassa truly began. Duncan and Fallon had built a strong foundation, forging a group that committed itself to excellence and to the service of the community. That same foundation would endure into the third decade of the nation's existence and beyond.
Duncan led by example in the mission of service that he helped to establish for his young country. Over the relatively short time since he had joined the Realms he had worked hard to become one of the most valuable contributors to the community. He had taken upon himself the publishing of the View From Valehaven newsletter. He had launched the first Marshall's Guild with the purpose of teaching others this critical skill. He had established himself as one of the most honorable and accomplished combatants of the era. With the advent of Queen of Hearts and the benefits that Duncan would bring to the realms through its execution, the final piece was in place. The Knights of the Realms, an order that stood as the epitome of service and dedication to the community, decided that his commitment to the Realms was worthy of the highest honor.
Duncan was dubbed a Knight of the Realms right before the Queen of Hearts awards ceremony by Queen Meg of Chimeron, then the Knight Commander of the order.
Although the Realms was over a decade old by this point in history, the tradition of feasting was a relatively recent innovation. Feast of Min, an event that has changed hands many times through the years, was the first such gathering to become a yearly tradition, followed a few years later by Feast of Chimeron. Shortly after that, Lady Fallon decided that Rhiassa had grown to a stature where it could do the same.
The result of this decision was the Feast of Rhiassa, the first of its name and the start of a yearly tradition that would continue long into Rhiassa's storied history. It must be noted that this is the era in which feasting traditions were born. While holding a feast is a much more common endeavor in the current state of the Realms, this is only because the skills and knowledge necessary to do so have been passed down from these earlier generations. Lady Fallon was one of these early progenitors of the art of feasting. For her efforts in securing one of the earliest and most successful feasting traditions in the Realms, Fallon was recognized as a Master of the Spoon a year later at the second Feast of Rhiassa.
Rhiassa had done much in its first short years of being a nation. They had instituted the most comprehensive and competitive set of tournaments that the Realms had ever seen, a tradition that has now lasted well into its third decade. They had established a national culture, joining the ranks of the countries that were able to put together a yearly feast. They had built a formidable army, a band of shield and pikemen that could well bolster any force they stood beside. It was a young nation, but no one could deny that it had quickly become one of the most significant groups in the Realms.
Perhaps more than anything, it was that early success as a sovereign nation that most made Sir Duncan's next move so unprecedented and so unexpected.
Duncan, when he was a Duke in Old Rhiassa, had taken an oath to his king, that he would never swear fealty to another man. He set down the roots of New Rhiassa with the intent that he would make good on that oath by establishing a nation that stood on its own in word and in deed. Yet Duncan did not expect, in the wake of Old Rhiassa's destruction and the it's rebirth as a new nation in the Realms, to have met a woman like Queen Meg.
Queen Sir Marguerite De Valehaven of Chimeron was as much a leader as any man or woman who ever lived. She was possessed of a keen vision, a voice of command, and a countenance of nobility that pervaded every aspect of her being. Under her direction, Chimeron had risen from nothing to be one of the greatest nations that the Realms had ever seen. It is no surprise then that Duncan and his kinsmen were taken by the majesty and might of so singular an individual.
When Chimeron held court at its annual feast that year, Duncan asked to stand and speak before the assembled crowd. He called the rest of his young nation to join him and to the shock of everyone there, especially Her Highness, the members of Rhiassa took a knee before Queen Meg and pledged to her the fealty of their nation. Duncan's oath to his former king was preserved. It was no man that he swore to but rather a woman that was in every way the new leader he wished to follow. Rhiassa became a vassal nation to the Kingdom of Chimeron and remained such for the entirety of Duncan's time as lord.
Countless ages ago the goddess of light, Aurora, and the god of balance, Garm, had together a daughter named Dalindanna. This goddess was kidnapped by The Champion, the evil avatar of Dionin the god of Death, when she rejected his proposal for marriage. A war occurred between heaven and hell in response, and Dalindanna soon became a casualty of that war. In his grief over his daughter's death, Garm tasked the smith god, Hephaestus, to forge the body of Dalindanna into a weapon, the Sword of the Crossroads. Garm placed his blessing upon the sword so that it could slay The Champion in revenge. And there Dalindanna sat, waiting in the crossroads for endless ages. Until Sir Blak of Chimeron, Garm's champion, was told by his god to retrieve the Sword of the Crossroads from Gaol and with it bring The Champion to task for his misdeeds.
Blak was unable to undertake this quest, but asked his good friend and ally Sir Duncan to make it in his place. Along with other members of Rhiassa and some other close friends that would later be known as "The Dalindanna Seven", Duncan entered Gaol and led his party towards the Crossroads at its center. Armies of netherlings impeded their progress and the way forward was slow and fraught with death. In time, however, they reached the resting place of the sword, guarded by one of Garm's death knights. The knight demanded for someone to prove their worth in order to take the sword and one after another the greatest fighters among the seven stepped forward to meet the challenge. One by one they were felled. Duncan had allowed those who were better warriors than himself to attempt the combat first but when few people remained he stepped forward to fight the death knight as well. He was also defeated and killed.
Kethrellen the Red, high priest of Aurora, then looked upon the face of Garm and bargained with the uncaring god. He offered his own soul as payment for Duncan to rise again and once more attempt trial by combat against the death knight. Garm agreed and the deal was struck. Duncan rose and as he entered into combat once again he was overcome by a rush of adrenaline and the kind of battle-wisdom that only comes to those with great experience, or great need. He and the death knight traded blow for blow and just before Duncan was about to strike him down, the guardian of the sword delivered what would have been a fatal strike... but for Duncan's ability to shrug it off due to his strength as a Knight of the Realms. Immediately after, Duncan swung his sword one final time, and the death knight lay vanquished at his feet.
Duncan and his questing party were allowed to take the Sword of the Crossroads and leave Gaol. The sword, named Dalindanna after the goddess from which it was forged, was entrusted to the hands of Sir Da'oud, to bear in combat as a squirely task.
❧ 997 - The first and last Tournaments of Rhiassa is held by Sir Cedric (Tournaments of Rhiassa).
One of the last squirely tasks that Sir Cedric was asked to complete was to begin a new eventing tradition for Rhiassa. Queen of Hearts and Feast of Rhiassa had been running uninterrupted for several years as Rhiassa became larger and more accomplished as a nation. A new event tradition in addition to those already established, would not only benefit the community as a whole, but also help to demonstrate how much New Rhiassa had grown in the few short years since it became established.
In a bucolic field in the center of Rhiassa the heroes of the Realms gathered to fight in tournaments and celebrate their friendship with one another. New adventurers from Chimeron joined the festivities, one of whom was a very young Sir Aeston. It is a small irony that he would one day go on to become lord of the nation that had hosted the first gathering that he ever attended in the Realms.
Though it was expected that Tournaments of Rhiassa would become a new yearly event hosted by Rhiassa, in fact Cedric was never able to put together the gathering again. By the time the next year came around he was already becoming distracted by his other ventures and beginning his family with Lady Demona. Still, the first and last Tournaments of Rhiassa is an interesting footnote in the long and storied history of the country.
Beating is an old tradition that was begun by Sir Duncan as he prepared to knight Sir Cedric, his first squire. The concept was simple, both the knight and the squire began with even teams. In each successive combat, members of the squire's team were sent over to the knight's team little by little, until only the squire remained fighting against an entire army on his own. The purpose of this exercise was to demonstrate the martial strength of the squire and to represent the fact that a knight of Rhiassa must be willing to stand on his own against any adversity that he might encounter.
Ultimately the Beating of Cedric was a celebration. A way for Duncan to recognize how much his squire had grown and a way for Cedric's friends to be a part of what he had achieved over the past few years while learning to be a knight. It was a joyful day for Rhiassa, spent in the company of good allies and focused on what Rhiassa would go on to accomplish in the future.
❧ 998 - Sir Cedric is knighted as the first Knight of Rhiassa in these lands (Feast of Rhiassa IV).
Sir Cedric was one of the first members of New Rhiassa and his potential was almost instantly recognized by Sir Duncan. Duncan was the last surviving member of the Knights of Rhiassa from Old Rhiassa but saw in Cedric the chance of rebuilding that order from his lost homeland. Cedric possessed great martial skill, and carried himself with dignity and honor. These things made for a great foundation and Duncan was eager to teach this man all he could and make him worthy of the title of knight.
Under the tutelage of Duncan, Cedric learned greater combat prowess and how to be a commander instead of just a soldier. He learned the organizational skill needed to host a gathering of heroes and was a crucial member of the Queen of Hearts staff for years. He learned how to be a leader and a public figure in the community. Through all of it he portrayed a deep and unshakable strength that New Rhiassa was able to build itself upon in the early, crucial first years of its existence.
When their time together as knight and squire was finally done, so impressed was Duncan by the person that Cedric had become that he felt the need to honor him properly as he was knighted. Duncan invented what is now the traditional knighting ceremony for a Knight of Rhiassa. As Cedric knelt before Duncan he was slain as a squire, the Sword of Rhiassa touched to each of his shoulders, and raised, reborn as a knight. So overcome with emotion was Duncan that he sang in Cedric's honor, and presented him to the Realms as the first Knight of Rhiassa made in these lands.
❧ 998 - The drow that destroyed Old Rhiassa attack during Queen of Hearts (Queen of Hearts V).
The threat of the drow of Nifelheim did not end with the destruction of Old Rhiassa. For years afterwards the same army that felled that great kingdom often sent forces into the Realms. Perhaps they sought out the last bloodlines belonging to the lands that they destroyed, or maybe they were only seeking new places to conquer and new lives to claim. The heroes of the Realms clashed with them time and again. They found weapons, the Luthrien blades, that allowed them to have the upper hand in many of those battles, and basically believed themselves strong enough that they needn't fear the type of invasion that brought Old Rhiassa to ruin.
These suppositions of safety, however, were torn asunder as the teams gathered together to begin the Queen of Hearts tournaments that day. Emerging from the nearby woods came a great army of drow, knowing that they found a moment where they could defeat almost all of the Realms' greatest warriors in a single blow. The warriors of Rhiassa were all captured or missing, but the heroes of the Realms were not so easily overcome. Throughout the day war raged between the two. The attacks from Nifelheim did not cease, nor did the collected armies of the Realms give any ground. As evening approached they had pushed back the drow into the portals from which they first came.
That evening, the Realms launched its final attack on the drow army of Nifelheim. They entered through the portals and, already organized into armies that were ready to fight in tournaments that day, split up and fought the drow in their own strongholds throughout the underdark. Drow knights fell before Luthrien blades and Rowan of Folkestone ended the drow threat forever as he struck down their queen, Excruciore. As the heroes of the Realms exited the portals back to Rhiassa, they had both avenged the kingdom of Old Rhiassa and assured that their own lands would be forever safe.
❧ 998 - Sir Da'oud breaks the sword Dalindanna. Sir Duncan rescues Da'oud from the gods' wrath and becomes a paladin of Garm (The Dark Crystal).
Sir Da'oud had been tasked to carry Dalindanna by Sir Duncan as one of his duties as a squire. He had done so faithfully from the time they brought the sword back from the crossroads, all the while possessing the great onus of knowing that it held Garm's blessing. This blessing would allow it to obliterate whatever being it struck, one time only, even if that opponent was a god. The blessing was once meant to be used on The Champion, retaliation for having murdered Dalindanna when she was still a goddess. Only weeks before, however, Da'oud had judged another threat as more worthy and instead used the blessing to destroy Vladimir, the champion of Dionin and a servant of The Champion.
Deciding when to employ the blessing was an almost maddening burden. Da'oud had made the best use of it that he could, but he was haunted by the ways that the blessing could have been better used to defeat evil in the Realms. The possibilities and the guilt weighed on him more and more and as he ran out of ways to blame himself, he began also to find blame in Aurora and Garm. It was through their actions that Dalindanna, their daughter, had been forged into a sword. It was because of their desire for revenge that the god-slaying blessing had been placed on it. And it was because of their hubris in believing that only one being merited their wrath that the blessing could be used but once. They were the gods, after all, and while mortal men and women suffered because of the deeds of powerful and evil beings, the gods had little cause to care.
And with this epiphany, Da'oud cursed the name of the gods, held up Dalindanna, and broke the sword in half in his rage. Immediately, the earthly form of Garm appeared before him, swung his blade, and decapitated the foolish mortal who would dare tamper with an artifact of the gods, thrusting his soul into hell. In a flash, Garm then stood before Duncan, holding Da'oud's severed head. The god of balance demanded of Duncan a sacrifice that could be worthy of his squire's soul, and Duncan had little to offer but himself. In exchange for Garm's leniency in allowing Da'oud to again join the mortal realm and escape an eternity of torture in Gaol, Duncan pledged his loyalty and service to Garm, agreeing to bear the title paladin in his name.
For several years the gods had been gathering their champions to prepare for a great contest between them. The true nature of that contest may never be known to the mortals involved but their role in it was clear. Each of the champions of the gods was tasked to fight in a brutal game. Each was allowed up to two retainers and as a small team their goal was to hunt each of the other champions with their groups. In the end, only one champion could remain as the winner of the Ascension War and they would be given the power to join the realm of the gods and take his place as an avatar by their god's side.
Sir Duncan, a paladin of Garm due to the actions of Sir Da'oud, stood faithfully beside Sir Blak of Chimeron, Garm's champion, along with Sir Nighthawk of Folkestone as Blak's other retainer. They were among the most formidable of the groups assembled to participate in the war, and likely could have achieved the ultimate victory, but for the forces of Rawonam. The final battle came down to those two groups.
Sir Shane of Chimeron, champion of the god of war, could at great cost to himself call upon his deity to allow him to enter a berserker rage, but rarely and only with great need. When faced with the forces of Garm, Shane had little choice but to use this power. With the aid of his divine invincibility, the champion of Rawonman charged toward Sir Duncan, striking him down almost immediately. The rest of Garm's soldiers fell quickly afterwards. With this final victory, Shane and his allies had won the Ascension War.
With his second squire on the verge of achieving knighthood, Sir Duncan continued the tradition that he began with Sir Cedric and arranged the Beating of Sir Da'oud. Da'oud had become well known across the entirety of the Realms, having made friends and family in many other countries. Because of this, many people came out to attend his beating and to be a part of what he had achieved throughout his years as Duncan's squire.
Da'oud had grown to be one of the most accomplished fighters in the Realms. As such, he was able to stand a long time even as his army grew smaller and smaller and Duncan's grew in response. His martial skill served him well that day, and between his combat strength, his wisdom in leading his army, and his tenacity in not backing down against even a superior force, it was obvious that Rhiassa would be gaining a worthy knight very soon.
Sir Da'oud left the lands of fae and ventured into the Realms with no purpose other than to pursue his own enjoyment and to cause mischief as he saw fit. He drank and he fought, he made many friends and he looked after no one's interests beyond his own. But there was something to the young man that made Sir Duncan realize that he had the potential to accomplish much more. Despite his own reservations and protests, Da'oud agreed to become Duncan's squire, skeptical of what he could allow himself to be taught.
Duncan, however, was as an accomplished an instructor as the Realms had ever seen and Da'oud learned from him despite himself. Duncan pushed Da'oud to greater levels of martial skill, teaching him how to be part of, and eventually how to lead a unit in battle. He gave Da'oud a role in the accomplishment of Rhiassa's most important tasks, grooming him to be the next organizer of Queen of Hearts and to inherit that tradition. Most of all, Duncan instilled in Da'oud a sense of responsibility towards the community and especially towards the people of Rhiassa. In a few short years, Da'oud grew from an irresponsible young man to the leader that would, in a couple short years, take up the mantle of lordship from Duncan and guide Rhiassa onward to a new age.
Before court at Feast of Rhiassa VIII, Duncan called forth Da'oud and continued the tradition of knighting that he began years ago with Sir Cedric. Da'oud knelt before Duncan and was killed, ending his life as a squire. The sword of Rhiassa was set to his shoulders and he was dubbed a knight, and as he was raised he was reborn as a Knight of Rhiassa.
❧ 1002 - Queen Meg descends under the hill to save Chimeron from destruction. Sir Pyr becomes king in her place (Feast of Chimeron X).
Chimeron was a place infused with the magic of faerie. In every wooded glade, through every patch of mist, wherever the moonlight cast shadows across the kingdom, the connection to the lands and people of fae were everywhere. Queen Meg herself carried the fae blood, and it was only because of the strength that she had as an individual, a woman, and a leader that the mists of faerie were pushed aside and the lands of Chimeron could emerge from that magical place and exist as part of the Realms. Well, half the reason anyway.
In order for Chimeron to stay a part of the Realms and faerie both, a covenant needed to exist between the lands. While someone with Fae blood needed to rule the country, someone of the fae blood also needed to remain in faerie as a link between the two. Since the lands of Chimeron first emerged from the land of faerie, that person was the King Under the Hill, Queen Meg's father. Unfortunately, tensions between the mortals of Chimeron and the fae were always high and the threat of war often loomed. These tensions reached their peak when the Duke of Slime, a noble from the fae courts, assassinated the King Under the Hill and greatly endangered Chimeron's existence.
There was little recourse. With the demise of the old King the covenant was destroyed and the mists of faerie would soon cover the lands of Chimeron, removing them from the Realms forever. Meg, being of the same bloodline, could take the place of her father as that anchor, but that would leave Chimeron bereft of a leader that also carried that blood. Fortunately, Chimeron's fae allies possessed the ability to make a mortal of the same blood as Meg, and in doing so endorse them as the next monarch of the kingdom.
Meg's subjects, the people of Chimeron, met many times to discuss the fate of their country and who would next ascend the throne. Sir Duncan was among the names bandied about as the merits of each of Chimeron's nobles were weighed. Duncan's leadership of Rhiassa and contributions to the entirety of the Realms were both arguments in his favor, but that same boldness of leadership came off as abrasive to others and over the course of time he had become less active in the politics of the kingdom.
Other men and women, all of whom had made an immeasurable impact on the fate of Chimeron, were each debated in turn, but when the time came, there was no true consensus as to who could take the blood and be Chimeron's new ruler. Even had there been, however, it would have made little difference. While the men and women of Chimeron met to plan their future together, the fae were designing a scheme of their own.
On the day when the new ruler for Chimeron was to be named, heroes from far and wide around the Realms gathered to learn the fate of one of the Realms' most powerful and storied nations. It was then that the fae folk played their hand. To find a mortal that they felt would be worthy to share fae blood, the people of faerie planned a grand contest where seekers of the crown could prove themselves. Several of the most prominent members of Chimeron engaged in these competitions but at the end of the day it was Sir Pyr, the Lord of Eagle's Rook and one of the leaders of Griffindor, that emerged victorious.
At a ceremony that evening, Pyr received the blood of faerie and took his place as the newly crowned king of Chimeron. Amongst tearful goodbyes from all who had known and were inspired by her, Meg descended under the hill to ensure that the lands of Chimeron would ever endure.
❧ 1003 - Sir Duncan retires as the Lord of Rhiassa, passing leadership on to Sir Da'oud and beginning the Second Age. Rhiassa secedes from Chimeron, Sir Da'oud swears the fealty of the nation to Sir Jarrod and Rhiassa joins the Free Kingdoms (Feast of Rhiassa IX).
Even after having sworn fealty to Chimeron many years before, Rhiassa always operated with greater sovereignty than other Chimeronian sub-nations. Under Sir Duncan's oath to Queen Meg, Rhiassa served faithfully but still had a national identity that somewhat set it apart from the rest of Chimeron. When Queen Meg went under the hill and Sir Pyr ascended to the throne, greater stress began to manifest on the relationship between the two nations.
Sir Da'oud and the recently crowned Pyr had an uneasy relationship. This culminated in an incident that occurred at the Feast of the Leviathan, earlier that year. Still a part of Chimeron then, the feast was presided over by King Pyr. An ongoing war between the nations of Folkestone and Neden had disrupted the day and as it happened within the boundaries of Chimeron, Sir Lucas, the king's Warlord, sought to intercede. He issued a direct order to Da'oud to stand down, and the Rhiassan knight refused to comply, deciding that his loyalty to his family in Folkestone outweighed the perceived political authority that Lucas tried to levy.
When this incident was reported back to Pyr, it was his intention to demand from Duncan Da'oud's belt, with the claim that he would not have a knight in his kingdom that would disobey an order given with the king's authority. For this reason, Pyr had arranged to speak first at Rhiassan court that day at Feast of Rhiassa IX.
The first to speak at Rhiassan court, however, was Duncan. Having had his first child with Spirit of Rhiassa years before, Duncan knew that he could leave the reins of the country in the hands of the worthy man whom he had only recently knighted, and devote his time to his growing family. Duncan took a monumental step that day in the history of the Realms, stepping aside from his lordship of Rhiassa, and appointing Da'oud lord after him. It was the first time in the history of the community that such a transition was made, a transfer of authority as a former lord peacefully stepped down into a role subject to a new leader. Duncan took on the title of elder with the intention to continue to support and guide Rhiassa in the role of an advisor. The Second Age of Rhiassa had begun.
Pyr's intentions to demand Da'oud's belt from Duncan went suddenly awry. The newly appointed Lord, now presiding over Rhiassan court, asked Pyr to stand before him and before the assembled crowds announced Rhiassa's succession from the kingdom of Chimeron. Shortly thereafter, Da'oud asked Sir Jarrod, Lord of Folkestone to join him upon the stage.
Jarrod had presided over the militant and fearsome nation of Folkestone since its creation in 983. His family and nation had grown very large, and his influence as a political leader and a role model reached very far across the face of the community. The men who advised him, Sir Blade and Sir Callin, worked together with Jarrod to form a new political structure that would best reflect both the growing size of the northern factions of the Realms, and the political strength that Jarrod had earned over a long and illustrious career. There, at Rhiassan court, Jarrod announced the birth of a new political alliance, the Free Kingdoms. An allied group of nations who would stand together under the banner of Jarrod as their king. Bold and inspired, the creation of the Free Kingdoms would shape the landscape of the Realms for years to come.
Da'oud also had a long and familial history with Jarrod, as he was a member of Folkestone himself, one of the very few allowed into that group without also breaking ties with his other nation. As a dual citizen of Rhiassa and Folkestone, the decision to swear the fealty of Rhiassa to Jarrod, who had since become King of the Free Kingdoms, was an easy one. Almost immediately after breaking ties with Chimeron and watching his lord announce himself as King before the crowd, Da'oud pledged the whole of Rhiassa to Jarrod, and Rhiassa took its place among the powerful nations allied together under that banner. Shortly thereafter, Blade stood before court, announced his departure from Folkestone along with several other members, and created the nation of Grimloch which also swore allegiance to Jarrod.
❧ 1003 - Rhiassa is invaded by the armies of the Erl King. Attack is repelled (O'er Northern Lands).
From a forgotten corner of the southern Realms an ancient and corrupted king sought to extend his influence and bring other lands under his sway. These were the Lost Kingdoms and their evil monarch was known as the Erl King. He festered in his ruined lands, everything about that once proud kingdom now a corrupted, twisted shadow of its former self. His armies were made of hideous abominations of creatures, as cunning as they were powerful, and there were few that could stand against them. King Jarrod, after founding the Free Kingdoms, declared the Lost Kingdoms to be his enemy, and set his allied countries to war against this mysterious and powerful threat.
The Erl King, however, was not one to sit idle while he came under attack and he lashed out in response to his new enemies. Marching towards a border keep on the southern edge of Rhiassa, the Erl King sent his armies of corrupted earth elementals, known as wolds. The defensive force, commanded by Elder Sir Duncan and consisting of members of Rhiassa and other nations of the Free Kingdoms, took their places inside the keep and prepared to weather the assault. The rock creatures came in roaring with fury, carrying with them a mighty battering ram which they planned to use to break down the door of the fortress and sow destruction inside.
The battle stretched on for many hours. For as many wolds as the heroes shattered asunder, more poured out of the nearby woods to harry the walls and break the door. When their battering ram was not suitable to the task, the creatures of stone slammed their own bodies into the structure. Finally the door gave way and the fighting became toe-to-toe at the entrance to the keep. In a memorable moment of battle, King Jarrod's crown fell forward into the enemy army. Sir Cinnabar of the Borderlands surged ahead crying â€œThe king's crown!â€ , and threw it back into the keep before he was beat down by the wolds at the door.
As the day darkened, the steady stream of rock creatures emerging from the woods slowly began to wane. It was clear that the enemy army had been reduced in number or supply or some vital function that caused them to lose the war of attrition. No horn of retreat was sounded. Rather, the monsters pressed forward with all their might even when only few remained. In the eerie silence that followed, the members of the Free Kingdoms pronounced their victory. The attack on Rhiassa had been repelled.
When Sir Duncan left the rule of Rhiassa to Sir Da'oud, he left as well a very large void in what helped shape the whole of the community. The traditions and contributions to the Realms that originated with Rhiassa were all the work of Duncan, and with his retirement, the execution of these tasks would need to fall to others. It would not have seemed odd for such a volume of work to fall on several other people's shoulders, such was the scope of what Duncan had done and how far he had pushed Rhiassa in doing so.
Da'oud, however, was equal to these tasks. Under his direction, Rhiassa continued its mission of service and the execution of its events. Da'oud expertly took the reins of Queen of Hearts and Feast of Rhiassa. He inspired his people to help others around the community and led them in doing so. He continued to push himself to heights of greater martial skill and trained others in what he had learned. The Knights of the Eternal Flame, seeing these accomplishments, decided that Da'oud belonged among their number. At Queen of Hearts XII, they called him up before the crowd on Sunday before Queen's War and recounted his accomplishments before the Realms.
Da'oud was knighted by Sir Mahkta of Clan McKrye. He was presented with Sir Blade of Gimloch's belt as Sir Duncan had gone missing sometime in the years before and was unable to attend his former squire's knighting ceremony. The knightly blow was given by Sir PJ of Grimloch. Shortly thereafter, Da'oud mysteriously happened across Duncan's belt with a written request that he wear it until such time as he had one painted of his own. Not wishing to dishonor the intentions of either of his two mentors, Da'oud wore both knightly belts until the following year when Sir Aeston was brought into the order.
On Sunday morning of Queen of Hearts, before the tournaments of the day began, the Knights of the Eternal Flame assembled in order to recognize Sir Aeston among their number. Sir Da'oud spoke on Aeston's behalf, explaining his many years of selfless dedication to helping others achieve their goals, not the least of which included helping Queen of Hearts be successful over the many years that he served as the head war marshal.
Aeston would not officially join the ranks of Rhiassa until two years after his being knighted a Knight of the Eternal Flame. Even so, he had maintained close ties with the country throughout his entire youth and beyond. Da'oud was one of his closest and most trusted friends, and Sir Duncan was the mentor that had most demonstrated to him the potential that each person has as an individual to make the Realms a better place.
Aeston was knighted by Sir Mahkta of Clan McKrye. He was presented with Sir Duncan's belt by Da'oud, as Duncan himself was still missing. Da'oud also administered the knightly blow.
❧ 1008 - Sir Aeston and Dame Areni join Rhiassa and Aeston takes the title Warmarke. The Free Kingdoms collapses as King Jarrod abdicates his throne. Sir Duncan knights Sir Aeston as a Knight of Rhiassa (Queen of Hearts XV).
Years before, Sir Aeston had gathered together some of his oldest friends, creating the humble but tight-knit nation of Vinehaeven. For several seasons they, as a small group of adventurers, fought and quested together and made a name for themselves. Not all great things can endure, however, and most of the members of Vinehaeven became scattered to the wind as other needs and interests consumed their lives.
At the same time, Sir Da'oud found himself likewise busied by competing pressures, and he made clear his need to have another experienced leader help him with the management of Rhiassa and its many endeavors. It was Dame Areni, also a member of Vinehaeven at the time, who made the suggestion to both Aeston and Da'oud that they could be of great aid to one another if they could combine their experience and goals and together ushered in a new era of productivity for Rhiassa.
At Queen of Hearts that year, both Aeston and Areni took a knee to Da'oud and Aeston was promoted to second in command of the group with the title of Warmarke. It was a surprising moment for an assembled crowd that did not foresee a once-lord willingly step down to serve another. It was, however, the least of the surprises that would be revealed at court that evening.
For several years the weight of kingship wore heavier and heavier on the shoulders of Sir Jarrod. The Free Kingdoms was a grand institution but it was likewise beset by a myriad of troubles, both internal and external. Still, despite everyone's recognition of these problems, it came as a great shock when Jarrod took the stage at Queen of Hearts and announced the dissolvement of the Free Kingdoms and his abandonment of the title of king.
Sir Duncan had squired Sir Aeston several years before, while he was still lord and before he had passed the leadership of Rhiassa on to Sir Da'oud. Shortly thereafter, however, Duncan had disappeared from the Realms under somewhat mysterious circumstances. As the years went by it was slowly discovered that Duncan had become entranced by a gypsy woman, Calypso, and had forgotten everything about his past. The current members of Rhiassa sought a quest to restore his bewitched memories and succeeded in doing so that evening at Queen of Hearts.
Upon being restored to his senses, Duncan was forced to reconcile to himself the many changes that had taken place over the years. One of which was that the man whom he had squired, Aeston, was now second-in-command of Rhiassa and a Knight of the Eternal Flame. Duncan knew that, having become a Knight and ascended to that position of leadership, Aeston had already already fulfilled every expectation that was put to him in becoming a Knight of Rhiassa.
Duncan called Aeston up on the Sunday of Queen of Hearts, before the assembled teams preparing for Team Grand Melee, and bestowed upon him the title Knight of Rhiassa.
❧ 1009 - Feast of the Leviathan comes under the banner of Rhiassa and becomes the yearly Rhiassan feast. Sir Da'oud cooperates with Warlord Blade of Grimloch to create the Free Nations. (Feast of the Leviathan XI).
One of the longest running feasting events in the Realms, the Feast of the Leviathan had been held under more than one banner throughout the fullness of its existence. The Kingdom of Chimeron and the Free Kingdoms, had each in turn hosted the gathering over the years. The feast's existence as a tradition proved more stable than the politics of the Realms that surrounded it.
The Free Kingdoms having collapsed, and with Sir Aeston now serving as Warmarke of Rhiassa as well as coordinating the majority of the large projects that the country undertook, making the Feast of the Leviathan a Rhiassan event was an obvious and beneficial conclusion. With that change two of the largest events of the year, both cornerstones of the community's calendar, now fell under Rhiassa's banner. This change, in many ways, helped this newest incarnation of Rhiassa define its national philosophies which included putting forth the consistent effort needed to hold both of these flagship events and working to improve them every year.
During the years that the Free Kingdoms was in existence, the nation of Grimloch, under the rule of Sir Blade, had become particularly close to Rhiassa under Sir Da'oud. At Queen of Hearts the previous summer Blade and Da'oud reacted quickly to Sir Jarrod dissolving the Free Kingdoms. They met that evening to discuss how their alliance could continue even in the absence of the kingdom that united them. That night, as members of the two nations spoke and exchanged ideas, they drafted the idea of a cooperative effort between the two of them. An institution that would be called the Free Nations.
Over the following months the details of this cooperative effort were deliberated. A set of rules and expectations were written out for the two groups that were making a commitment to support one another and encourage each other's evolution and growth. During court at the Feast of the Leviathan, Da'oud and Blade announced before the assembled crowd the creation of this alliance and together signed the treaty listing the laws and tenets of the Free Nations.
❧ 1009 - Sir Aeston is knighted a Knight of the Realms (North South War 2009).
It is a singular honor to be named a Knight of the Realms, and not one that Sir Aeston has ever taken lightly. But before he considers the responsibilities that the position carries or the accolades that accompany them, Aeston regards his belt a symbol that belongs to more than just him as an individual.
Aeston was put on his path first by the men and women of Chimeron who he regarded highly as his role models when he entered the community. Chief among these was Sir Duncan, who by then was already lord of Rhiassa and a Knight of the Realms himself. Aeston was first put on his path towards service to the community largely due to the example that Duncan set. Later on, as Aeston became closer to the men and women of Rhiassa he saw how deeply they embodied these ideals. The first large-scale project he was ever a part of was the construction of the Queen of Hearts castle. Aeston was taken aback by the enormity of the undertaking, but came to understand how even the most grandiose of ideas could be made real if one is dedicated to the cause.
Of course, in the fullness of time most of the people that Aeston looked to for guidance had gone their separate ways. By then he was one of the most venerable people in the Realms and he found that other people were now looking up to his example. It was there that Aeston found an even greater level of inspiration. First through his friends in Vinehaeven, then later through the people he trained as part of the Oaken Guard, and latest of all the people who looked to him for direction in Rhiassa. Each man and woman that he taught gave back to Aeston tenfold the energy that he invested in them. Because they were all a part of his life, Aeston had the desire and drive to keep growing as a leader and a role model, and why the Knights of the Realms sought to recognize him among their number.
Before the customary beach battles began at North South War, the Knights of the Realms gathered together and called the assembled armies to attention. They summoned Sir Aeston before the crowd and cited his many years hosting Feast of Leviathan, his work with Queen of Hearts, and among other feats, his creation of the Oaken Guard and the weekly practices that had been going on for half a decade at Fort Oakenbrook. Aeston knelt before Sir Callin of Folkestone, the Knight Commander, and was dubbed a Knight of the Realms.
❧ 1009 - An army of trolls and goblins begin a multi-year assault on Cold Springs from their lairs beneath the ground. The heroes of the Realms launch their first counterattack (What Lurks Beneath).
As harvest time began and the year's crops were brought into Cold Springs for storage, a sudden increase in goblin and troll raids made from the underground taxed the standing army and the Lion Militia to its limit. Sir Aeston had little choice but to call out to his allies in the Realms for help, and they assembled in that capital city to drive out whatever warrens of monsters made their home underneath it so that the storehouses would go unmolested throughout the winter.
The heroes of the Realms got a larger fight than they expected, however. It was not a loosely assembled clan of goblins and trolls that awaited them, but rather a regimented and highly organized army of these creatures, possessed of shamanistic magic and monstrous weapons. Throughout a long day the adventurers pressed forward deeper into the earth, past fortifications of stone and through an ever increasing number of well armed and armored creatures. Finally, as they reached the end of the twisting and turning cavern, they met a venerable shaman who seemed to be commanding the entire brigade. Moments later they ended his life and assumed their victory was complete. It was, but only temporarily.
This war, waged beneath the very feet of Rhiassa, was a slow and methodical one, requiring great endurance. Throughout all of it Aeston was relieved to be able to rely on nations such as Chimeron, Eagle's Rook, Mythguard, and Folkestone, all of whom brought considerable personnel and resources to bear to help defend Rhiassa from this threat while Grimloch and Ashenmark led the defense of the western flank along with members from the Oaken Guard each year. Over the next few years, this troll and goblin army would increase their activity, both their raiding within the city of Cold Spring and beyond. Their purpose was slowly discovered, deeply eldritch and supremely demonic in nature, and would reach its final conclusion several years hence.
As time marched forward, Sir Da'oud's burdens beyond the duties of Rhiassa continued to increase, and the time came where he knew he could no longer devote to the nation the hours and energy that were necessary to assure its success. Da'oud had inherited from Sir Duncan the will of Rhiassa in full. He had carried on the traditions and ideals that the first lord had pioneered, including the nation's yearly events and history of service to the Realms. The final tradition that Duncan had given to Rhiassa was his act of stepping down and transitioning the lordship when it was the best decision for the nation. The time had come for Da'oud to continue that custom as well.
Fortunately, since the very beginning of Sir Aeston's time in Rhiassa, both he and Da'oud had been working together to make that transition in the leadership of the country, and the change had been gradual and meticulously planned. The recruitment that the country had engaged in over the years when Da'oud and Aeston were working together was the most productive that Rhiassa had engaged in since its founding. Bolstered in many ways by the relationships that they had both forged with members of the Oaken Guard, the Rhiassans that joined during these years and those existing members who found new energy to contribute put Rhiassa on the course to rise to prominence as one of the most consistently successful countries in the Realms. The Rhiassa that Da'oud was handing over to Aeston was an extremely healthy nation that was poised to accomplish great things in the coming years.
At a small ceremony during Rhiassan court and joined by Duncan, the first lord and first elder of Rhiassa, Da'oud named Aeston the new lord of the country and assumed the title of elder for himself. The Third Age of Rhiassa had begun.
❧ 1012 - Sir Aeston and High Priest Slaader complete the Parthenon of The Just God in Southland, Rhiassa, just in time to repel the invasion of Bedlam. Aeston knights Sir Symir a Knight of Rhiassa (Feast of the Leviathan XIV).
During the Black & White Masquerade Ball several months before, Slaader, High Priest of Justari, made an appearance before King Cecil at Chimeron's court and called Sir Aeston before him. Slaader explained that The Just God had given him a message to pass on, that Rhiassa would be invaded by Bedlam during the upcoming Feast of the Leviathan and that Aeston would have a chance to protect his country from the attack by following the god's instructions.
With the help of heroes from around the Realms, Aeston collected seven ancient scriptures that told the stories of seven ancient saints of Justari. Following the will of The Just God, Aeston ordered the construction of a grand temple to house the scriptures in their reliquaries. When the people of the Realms showed up for the consecration of the temple on the day of the feast, Justari spoke, through Slaader, to all of those in attendance. He sent groups of adventurers on seven different quests, each to collect an artifact that belonged to each of the seven saints.
With the seven artifacts collected and placed beside the scriptures, the Parthenon of The Just God was complete. Now that Justari's power could be fully realized in Rhiassa, he bestowed upon Aeston symbols of his power, the seven seals of Justari. Each seal could be used to bring down the power of Judgement upon Bedlam and thus allow it to be defeated by human hands. Just in time, as well, for moments after these blessings were finished, a gate of blackness exploded open in the field near the temple.
Slaader reacted quickly, grabbing one of the seals and invoking the power of Justari. The Judgement of the god made the gate itself a corporeal being, a giant black dragon. It was a terrible and dangerous foe, but one that mortal hands could best if they levied their courage and their strength. It struck down heroes with claw and fire, but the people of the Realms were equal to the task of defeating it. Before long the wyrm fell and with it the gate to Bedlam faded away.
It was a grand battle. One of the first decisive blows that was struck by the heroes during the war with Bedlam, and a great victory to celebrate as the people of the Realms gathered together inside to being an evening of feasting. During Rhiassan court that night, Aeston thanked everyone for their efforts on his behalf, and then called up Sir Symir, with the intention to dub him a Knight of Rhiassa after his long time serving the nation as a squire.
Symir joined Rhiassa during the rule of Sir Da'oud. He had trained with the members of the Chimeron militia when he was younger but decided to follow a different path than his fellows and became a member of Rhiassa instead. For many years, Symir was a faithful soldier, fighting alongside his countrymen on the field of battle and adding his might to the quests they undertook together.
After Sir Aeston joined Rhiassa, he had recognized in Symir the potential for more than just a sword arm. During a time when Rhiassa had few members and was in the most critical stages of rebuilding, Aeston squired Symir and set him to the some of the most important tasks that would build Rhiassa's new foundation as a country. He took on a leadership role, and set the tone for what it meant to be a squire to the Knights of Rhiassa in this new era.
Symir was knighted in traditional Rhiassan fashion that evening at court to a wave of thunderous applause.
❧ 1012 - Cold Springs is sieged by the forces of Bedlam. Attack is repelled (Black Tide).
Though Bedlam had failed at its first attempt to fell Rhiassa and corrupt its lands, the forces of darkness would mount another attack on the country later that year. One fateful day in September, the armies of Bedlam began a simultaneous attack on the Southern Wastes, Ashenmark, and the city of Cold Springs in the center of Rhiassa. The Realms was forced to divide itself into groups in order to prevent even one of these places from succumbing to Bedlam.
Sir Aeston called upon the aid of his closest allies. Heroes arrived from Blackwood, Mythguard, Chimeron, Folkestone, Kalithnos, and, greatest of all, a large number of fierce warriors from the nation of Grimloch, Rhiassa's closest ally and fellow member of the Free Nations. All of them had rushed to Cold Springs ahead of the invasion to help defend the city. Assembled on the morning before the battle, Aeston distributed these forces throughout the city and set himself to the command of a long and difficult day of fighting.
The favor of The Just God settled upon the battle. Through Justari's intervention, Rhiassa's most powerful artifact, the Queen of Hearts Resurrection Banner, was empowered to pull towards it the bodies of the fallen heroes and continuously give them new life. Able to rely on the god's support, the walls of Cold Spring held fast through the beginning waves of the invasion.
The forces of Bedlam, however, did not commit lightly to their attack. Soon, more elite bois soldiers joined the battle. Black Walkers shrugged off sword blows as they waded into Rhiassa's protectors, sowing destruction. Soul Leaches made devastating strikes at the defenders of the walls, driving them back. Boulders rained down on the walls of the city, breaking them apart. In the rear of the army, the most venerable of the Bois Furies commanded its soldiers onward.
And again, Justari shone his protection on Cold Spring. One of the Seven Seals of the Just God was brought to bear, and a beacon appeared at each of the gates into the city. As long as each of the beacons shone with Justari's color, no Bois could pass through those openings. Though the beacons could be deactivated if overcome by the darkness, due to the caliber of the men and women who fought to preserve them, the armies of Bedlam found it to be no easy task.
As the numbers of the enemies began to wane, the Bios Fury himself came forward to join the fray. Seeing the champion of the darkness stride toward the walls so brazenly, Aeston rushed forward to challenge the foe. The pell of swords striking shields echoed out as the rest of the battle stilled and the Lord of Rhiassa, slowly, forced back an enemy that he knew he could not fully conquer. As his squires rushed out to aid his fight, Aeston struck a mighty blow that flung the Fury to the ground before him. In that slight pause, the monster noticed that it was all the remained of the invasion force. In defeat it vanished into the thin air, leaving the defenders of Cold Spring to be the victors of the day.
Sir Aeston met Dame Areni long ago when neither of them had much notoriety or any titles to speak of. It was the Feast of the Leviathan back in 1002 and she had arrived with Teng Hua as part of a caravan with Emperor Sir Lysis. She sat at the Emperor's table, resplendent in her beauty. Of course, Aeston was busy running his yearly feast so he barely noticed her at all, even after being formally introduced.
Years later, Aeston began to assemble around himself the nation of Vinehaeven and the Oaken Guard militia within the Southern Wastes. By then Areni had left her home in Teng Hua and was a wandering adventurer, and it was then that the purpose and camaraderie of Vinehaeven resonated with her. Areni joined Aeston's country and it was around then that their relationship truly began.
The two of them joined the ranks of Rhiassa together, and for as many great achievements as Aeston had become publicly known for in those years, each of them was only possible because of the stalwart and unfaltering support that Areni lovingly provided.
In a ceremony performed by Priest Johan of Mythguard in the name of the Just God and attended on by their fellow country-members, Aeston and Areni were wed before the assembled crowd, which included many friends from throughout the Realms.
Following the wedding at Rhiassan court, Aeston called forth those who had come to the defense of Cold Springs in the Bedlam attack of the previous year. He offered each hero who came to the aid of Rhiassa a metal recognizing their vital contributions to Rhiassa's defense. In particular, Aeston sought to recognize the pivotal role that their allies in Grimloch had played. A street in the merchant district of Cold Springs was named Xarinthil Avenue in honor of XT of Grimloch; a square in the West Commons was renamed Syruss Square in honor of Syruss of Grimoch; and the creation of an official embassy to Grimloch in downtown Cold Springs was ordered to further bond the two nations together in friendship.
❧ 1013 - Sir Aeston knights Dame Areni and Sir Kyntela as Knights of Rhiassa (Queen of Hearts XX).
Dame Areni and Sir Kyntela had begun their squireings within months of each other, years before. Sir Da'oud had observed the tireless work of Areni behind the scenes and knew that she deserved the opportunity to make a name for herself more publically. She had become a part of Rhiassa shortly before that, having joined the country with Sir Aeston after the rest of Vinehaeven went their separate ways. She and Aeston had been a part of Rhiassa for only a short time, but in that time she had she had demonstrated the potential she had to help Rhiassa enter its new age of productivity, and the tasks she would accomplish while squired all worked to that end.
Areni quickly became one of the driving forces behind Queen of Hearts. She elevated the crafting competitions and took control of the war maneuver fields. Her faithful service to Rhiassa continued in the background as well, and there was not a single endeavor Rhiassa attempted that was not greatly bolstered by her efforts and support.
Aeston had recognized in Kyntela a stern determination and ability to focus on her goals. She was still a young woman at the time, and Sir Da'oud had only recently recruited her from among Aeston's trainees at Fort Oakenbrook, but the qualities of leadership and capacity to inspire others both shone brightly within her. During an era where the work of every individual was critical to Rhiassa's success, Kyntela would faithfully take on more than her share every step of the way.
Over the years of Kyntela's squireship she learned how to be one of Rhiassa's core contributors, even motivating others through her the example she set. As a service to the entire community, she picked up a torch first lit by Katasha of Grimloch, and relaunched the Huntress Guild, solidifying her place as a role model and an inspiration to others.
Both Areni and Kyntela were knighted in a joint ceremony at Queen of Hearts XX, before the assembled crowd during Rhiassan court.
❧ 1013 - The war against the Great Eye and its armies of trolls, goblins, and demons is finally concluded (What Lurks Beneath V).
For the past five years the assaults from below never truly ceased. There would be times when they abated without obvious cause and others where the monsters were pushed far enough back by the forces of the Realms that they made little movement for a long time, but always they were planning and plotting, gathering resources and rebuilding their ranks. It started as something simple, at least in the minds of the Rhiassans that had to deal with the attacks. Just goblins and trolls raiding for food and supplies to survive the winter and strengthen their modest clans. But there was a deeper and more terrifying meaning to their actions.
The years revealed more and more of this monstrous army's purpose and origin. They were not a hastily assembled clan but rather a highly organized force, summoned together through eldritch power. Their ranks were lead by demons, their shamanistic magic was corrupted to serve their dark masters, and their grim purpose was to fully wake a sleeping demon that had the strength and power to bring the entire Realms to its knees, the Great Eye.
The war had been a long one, requiring endurance and resolve, but it had finally reached its conclusion. Each year the heroes of the Realms had pressed further toward the enemies' seat of power. Each year they understood more of the Great Eye's origin and how it could be defeated. Now, in this final assault on the monster's resting place, they destroyed the body of their foe by pressing past its demonic guardians and striking its massive eye with a flaming sword. The job not finished, the heroes journeyed inside the demonic demi-plane that was the body of the Great Eye and used the same shamanistic magic wielded by the trolls to pierce the eldritch horror's mammoth heart.
It had been a long struggle, years in coming to fruition, but Rhiassa's allies had stayed true throughout the war. Chimeron, Eagle's Rook, Mythguard, and Folkestone were there to lead the final assault as they were there when Sir Aeston first called for help years ago. Grimloch, Ashenmark, and the Oaken Guard still faithfully guarded the western flank that the endeavor might be successful. The conclusion of the war with the Great Eye gave Rhiassa much to celebrate, not the least of which being the friends who had made their victory possible.
As Rhiassa slowly but surely grew larger it became important to expand the command structure of the country. As a Knightocracy, all knights of Rhiassa assumed an important role in the leadership of the nation, but even the knightly order was quickly expanding and would benefit from a better defined organization.
Sir Kyntela, after her knighting, had faithfully continued the leadership that had marked her entire time as a squire. Universally she was regarded by the members of Rhiassa as someone they should look to for guidance and whose example they should follow. She was a clear choice to become Sir Aeston's second-in-command.
Aeston presented Kyntela with the badge of her office and named her his First Knight at a small ceremony at Tournaments of Creathrorne XXI before other members of Rhiassa, Grimloch, and Ashenmark.
❧ 1014 - Sir Kyntela is recognized as a Knight of the Eternal Flame (North South War 2014).
As the beach battles ended at North South War, and with them the day of fighting, the Knights of the Eternal Flame called for the attention of the crowd before they dispersed, with the intention to recognize Sir Kyntela among their number.
Dame Phoenix of Folkestone spoke first, followed by Sir Da'oud, who had made a long trip to the tournaments that weekend for the express purpose of being present for the ceremony. Finally Sir Aeston, Kyntela's former knight, spoke to her achievements. Her dedication not only to Rhiassa's goals, but to the goals of the entire community. Her selflessness in helping and teaching others. And most of all, the tremendous work she had done to relaunch the Huntress Guild and be an inspiration to female fighters across the Realms.
Though Sir Vawn of Eagle's Rook was the current Knight Commander of the Knights of the Eternal Flame, Aeston was given the great privilege to conduct the knighting in his stead. Kyntela was presented with Aeston's belt and administered her knightly blow by Da'oud.
Sir Gwen joined Rhiassa during the rule of Sir Da'oud, who recognized early the potential she had to help make the country great. For the first few years as a Rhiassan she was a loyal soldier, always doing her best to help the nation advance its goals even though she had competing obligations that vied for her time. Later on, when those other duties had faded into the past, Gwen decided that she wanted to dedicate all of her effort towards Rhiassa and so asked Sir Aeston to become his squire.
Over the next couple of years, Gwen became one of the most productive contributors, not only to the country of Rhiassa but to the whole of the Realms. Her natural leadership, her dedication toward her goals, and her willingness to go above and beyond on behalf of others served as an example to her countrymen and to countless other members of the community as well. The Leviathan kitchen became hers to run and the feast hers to plan and she took over many roles of command at Queen of Hearts as well.
During the Rhiassan Court proceedings at Feast of the Leviathan, Aeston asked Gwen to stand before him as he recounted the ways that she had made their country a better place. After he placed the red belt around her waist, however, he had a surprise in store. He asked for the Knights of the Eternal Flame to join him on the stage, and continued his accolades with aid from Sir Kyntela, and Sir Kiira of Grimloch, both of them describing now her contributions to the entirety of the Realms. Like his other previous squire, Kyntela, Aeston was given the privilege to knight Gwen into the order. Gwen wore Aeston's belt and was given her knightly blow by Sir Nighthawk of Grimloch.
❧ 1015 - Rhiassa hosts its first Summer Festival which is interrupted by the arrival of the Jomsvikings (The Gilded Lion Summer Festival).
After a long and tiresome winter, Lady Dame Areni happened upon the idea of beginning a yearly celebration, held around the solstice, to welcome the temperate days of summer. She conceived of a day of relaxation and merriment, good hearty food cooked outdoors, tournaments, and games. It was a simple matter to get the rest of Rhiassa to agree to such an endeavor, but circumstances would cause all of their planning to go awry. In the days leading up to the festival, the countryside around Southland had been wracked by odd magical thunderstorms. These increased in frequency and intensity until they could no longer be ignored and Lord Sir Aeston was forced to lead the rest of his knights and their squires on a mission to investigate on the morning of the celebration.
The heroes of the Realms arrived in Rhiassa before Aeston and his party returned, however, leaving Areni to host the gathering entirely by herself. Little chance did she have to welcome the many visitors before the unpredictable occurred. Emerging from the woods with a cry came a band of warriors clad in leather and fur, bristling with axes and swords. They approached the pavilion in Southland with their hands raised in truce, asking if they had at last stumbled upon a place known as the Realms.
These men and women were known as the Jomsvikings. Warriors from another world known as Norlund. They had come very far across many dimensions seeking the heroes of the Realms to beseech them for their aid in repairing the grievous damage done to their homelands by the invasion of Bedlam across the multiverse. Yet before that aid could be rendered, the heroes would first have to help them construct a permanent portal, known as the Vanfrost, to connect their worlds together.
The festivities of the day took on a much more urgent tone than Areni had anticipated. The heroes of the Realms worked together to prove their worth to the Norlund gods and in doing so borrow from their bower to build a pair of pillars that would anchor the Vanfrost to that place in Rhiassa. Many were the challenges that small groups of adventurers had to undertake, not always successfully, but as darkness fell upon the land they ultimately met their goal. Areni, in the meantime, managed to keep some semblance of the celebration she had planned by providing food and entertainment in the evening as the gate was being built.
With the path to their homeland secured, as well as the promise of aid from the heroes of the Realms, the Jomsvikings returned to Norlund, saying they would send word in the Autumn for when the heroes must first travel the Vanfrost themselves and help to right what Bedlam had destroyed.
❧ 1015 - The heroes of the Realms arrive in Rhiassa to, for the first time, travel across the Vanfrost to the worlds of Norlund. (Echoes of Ragnarök).
After securing the promise of aid from the heroes of the Realms that summer, the Jomsvikings agreed to return in the fall with instructions on how the shattered words of Norlund could be repaired and how through the work of the Realms' greatest heroes, the holy battle of Ragnarök could begin and the world could end and be reborn.
This day marked the first of many forays into the different worlds of Norlund. In each, the heroes of the Realms would, from the anchor-point in Rhiassa, travel the Vanfrost and put to right what had gone wrong across the many places connected by Yggdrasil. The battles world be fierce, the enemies mighty, and the dark secrets and machinations planned by they who stood against Ragnarök would forever make an impact on those who would discover them.
In the midst of 1016, Sir Aeston and Dame Areni were blessed with the birth of their first child, a son. In the traditions Aeston was born to, children are often not named at birth but rather when they are several months old and in a ceremony amongst family and friends. Serendipitous that the Feast of the Leviathan would fall at just the right time for that ceremony to take place during court. Aeston gave his son the name Aeryk as he stood before the assembled feast hall. Shortly after naming him, the lord of Rhiassa had another announcement to make.
Long ago the lands of Periden sat to the west of Rhiassa. A stalwart ally of Sir Duncan's from the beginning of his time in the Realms, Periden's lush fields oversaw the first Queen of Hearts tournaments before the borders of Rhiassa were first declared. Fitting that the name of that venerable country translates to "by the den", for it is near the den of the lion that those lands have sat since those times. Lord Richard, the original settler of Pariden, left the Realms permanently over two decades ago. Since that time the small hamlets and farming communities scattered throughout the countryside there had become less populated and in greater disrepair. For a long time the historical nation had been little more than ruins.
Aeston, however, saw an opportunity to do some good with these circumstances. Wanting to give his son a gift, Aeston also wanted to raise Aeryk with a deep appreciation of the responsibility that he would grow into as a member of Rhiassa and the Realms community. Aeston therefore declared before the hall that he was annexing the lands of Periden under the Rhiassan banner and that his son would become their lord. What is more, Aeston and the knightocracy of Rhiassa would stand in as stewards of Periden, holding it in trust until the day came that Aeryk was capable of ruling it on his own. Aeston unveiled the new heraldry that Aeryk and Periden would henceforth be recognized by, a Rhiassan lion underneath a stone arch.
Later on, during that same session of court, the Knights of the Eternal Flame took the stage, asked for the attention of the assembled crowds, and beckoned Areni to join them so she could be counted among their number.
Dame Phoenix spoke first about the incredible growth Areni has had as a member of the community and the care and compassion she shows for all around her. Sir Kiira spoke next, explaining how Areni possessed the strength of spirit and fearlessness necessary to learn new skills and master them to use for the good of the people around her and the entire community. Sir Gwen spoke last, of Areni's drive to always push herself further and the sheer amount of time and energy that she invests each and every day.
Aeston conducted the knighting ceremony from there, placing his belt around Areni's waist and administering to her the oath of the Knights of the Eternal Flame. At last, it was he who stuck her knightly blow.
❧ 1017 - Dame Taliea is knighted a Knight of Rhiassa. (The Gilded Lion Summer Festival III).
Dame Taliea first came into the Realms alongside some of her closest friends, Sir Kyntela and Sir Gwen. The three of them were inseparable through all their years of adventuring, so it is small surprise they joined Rhiassa in close succession to one another and that, once in Rhiassa, their paths continued to be quite similar ones. Once Taliea availed herself of the time required to do so, she became Sir Aeston's squire beside her two best friends.
As a squire, few could equal Taliea's tenacity and selflessness. She dedicated a great deal of herself to the success of Rhiassa, not for her own glory but because of how much she cared for her countrymen and how much she wanted them to succeed in their own endeavors. For her own part she took on the monumental task of relaunching the once famous Adventurers Guild, a project that was met with great enthusiasm across the entire community.
Taliea gave endlessly of herself to make Rhiassa successful and this, more than anything, is the essence of what knighthood is to the nation. At the third Gilded Lion Summer Festival she took command of the kitchens and in the wake of that latest success she was called out to a small private ceremony of her best friends where Aeston placed around her waist her knightly belt and she, in fullness, joined the Order.
❧ 1018 - Dame Ellith is knighted a Knight of Rhiassa. The leadership of Rhiassa is reorganized; Sir Gwen takes the last name Stromgate and ascends to the title of lord alongside Lord Sir Aeston and Lady Dame Areni. The Fourth Age of Rhiassa begins. (Feast of the Leviathan XX).
Dame Ellith began her squireship under the tutelage of Sir Kyntela years before. Many things about Ellith stood out from the very beginning of her years of service. Her dedication to Rhiassa's philosophies, her tirelessness in helping the group reach its goals, her willingness to do whatever was asked to fill her part of the whole. All admirable traits in a knight. What was most praiseworthy amongst her abilities, however, was the strength and energy Ellith always applied to elevating everything that she touched. There was always a way to make things better, always a solution that lay just outside the norm that could transform something from good to great, and Ellith would constantly seek it in every task she set herself upon.
The honor of knighthood was bestowed upon Ellith by Sir Aeston at Rhiassan court that day. But that was not the only monumental announcement of the gathering.
The Third Age of Rhiassa began in 1010 when Aeston was named the next lord of the country after Sir Da'oud's retirement. In the time prior to and then subsequent to his rule, the philosophy of the group was honed to be one of community service and promotion from within along the path of knighthood. Later on when Dame Areni became Aeston's wife and the lady of the nation she joined him in the duties of leadership that made those things possible for Rhiassa.
Aeston had the great privilege to mentor many other Rhiassans in those years, the greatest of whom became squires to the order and then knights in their own right. Sir Symir, Dame Areni, Sir Kyntela, Sir Gwen, Dame Taelia, and just moments before, Dame Ellith. One step behind them other squires had taken up their belts and the quality of new members joining in recent years was obvious. During their years as leaders, Aeston and Areni had helped to raise the standards on the two landmark gatherings Rhiassa hosted, Feast of the Leviathan and Queen of Hearts. They organized the expeditions under Rhiassa to fight the armies of The Great Eye, and afterwards lent their assistance to the Realms in traveling to Norlund to battle for the continuation of Ragnarök. That said, Aeston felt that his time leading Rhiassa with his wife was a successful one, but he also knew that there was another worthy person who deserved their chance to leave as indelible a mark on the nation as they had.
Sir Gwen had become the foundation on which Rhiassa stood. It happened slowly, over the course of several years and many endeavors, and perhaps it was not even always obvious that it was taking place. But there can be no doubt that there came a day when everyone was able to say without qualification that Gwen was a leader of their country and an invaluable part of who they were as a group. Gwen became that lord of Rhiassa long ago. It was simply a matter, now, of making it official. During that session of court, Aeston bade Gwen to join him in front of the hall and asked her before the assembled members of the Realms to become the new leader of the nation. Surprisingly, however, she said no.
Gwen went on to explain, in that moment, how becoming the lord of Rhiassa was something that she always strove for, but also knew that it was something she did not want to do by herself. She believed the ideal Rhiassa for the coming years was, instead of succeeding Aeston and Areni, one where she ascended to lordship and ruled alongside them. When the shock of her announcement wore off, it took a scant moment for Aeston and his wife to understand and agree to Gwen's vision and Aeston took ahold of the sword of Rhiassa to administer an oath of leadership.
Areni, however, had something more to add. She asked her husband to wait just a moment and addressed Gwen before the gathered crowds. Areni explained to her that as the two of them had worked together over the previous years to make Rhiassa's endeavors successful, Areni had come to regard Gwen as much more than just a friend. She concluded, therefore, that if Gwen was to become a lord alongside her and Aeston that she should take the last name Stromgate and join their family as their sister as well. To that proposition, Gwen happily agreed.
Taking the blade of the Sword of Rhiassa in their hands, the three of them; Aeston, Areni, and Gwen; took an oath of family and of leadership together. Gwen ascended to their side as a lord. The Fourth Age of Rhiassa had begun.
❧ 1018 - A blitzkrieg attack by the Imperium is launched toward Rhiassa. Attack is intercepted and repelled (Ashen Bounty VII).
In 1015 the frozen-in-time remnants of an ancient empire stirred from their slumber and sought to reclaim the lands that were once theirs, lands that now made up the nations of the Realms. The Imperium launched attacks for those three years in an attempt to rebuild their civilization but were continuously rebuffed by the forces of the Realms. The members of Rhiassa faithfully joined those fights whenever they occurred,
After years of unsuccessful conflict with the Realms the spellcasters of the Imperium, led by the archmage Anther, stole power from their own gods in order to create empowered warriors to act as a vanguard in a final attempt to subjugate the Realms nations that stood against them. Three false-champions - one of Gaia, one of Dionin, and one of Rawonam - had been created and unleashed, leading armies toward vital strategic points across the map. Rawonam's false champion was directed towards Cold Springs, intending to make Rhiassa's lands a vital part of the supply chain that would further the war efforts.
Adventurers of all nations stepped up to aid Rhiassa in this time of need. This would be no easy task, however. The false-champion of Rawonam was not merely a skilled warrior. He had also been granted the stolen power of that god to become practically invincible against anyone who was not a Chosen Warrior of Rawonam. As such, a number of warriors of the Realms stepped forward to walk the path of Rawonam and become one of those Chosen. The ones who did so successfully were Sir Tao of Blackwood, Sir Saegan of Blackwood, and Dame Ellith.
The combined army of Realms adventurers, wary of Anther's plan, were able to intercept the force headed toward Cold Springs before their arrival and rather than have the capital city put in danger, were able to fortify an unused border fort to meet the oncoming army.
The siege began that night. Heroes of all nations stood in defense of Rhiassa. As the siege was happening, Tao, Saegan, and Ellith, now all Chosen Warriors, completed tasks in order to earn a set of armor bestowed by Rawonam; only by wearing this armor could somebody fight the false-champion on equal terms. After completing these tasks and earning the armor, a short discussion was had about who should be the one to wear it and oppose Anther's minion. The adventurers unanimously agreed that as champion of Rhiassa, Ellith must be the one to fight the false-champion of Rawonam.
Donning the armor, Ellith charged to the front line and challenged the false-champion to honorable combat. The armor bestowed upon Ellith the same abilities that the false-champion had been granted by Anther, and thus the two combatants were only able to be harmed by one another. The duel raged, with heroes of the Realms and soldiers of the Imperium watching on. The warriors traded blows; but both having been empowered with supernatural strength, neither would fall so easily.
Both fighters were bloodied, their armor shredded to bits. Ultimately, however, Ellith would prove the hardier warrior, and finally struck what proved to be a fatal blow on the false-champion of Rawonam. Without their leader and facing defeat, the remaining Imperium soldiers retreated and Rhiassa was saved.
❧ 1019 - Sir Aeston names his daughter Aelise. Lord Temorse gifts Rhiassa a parcel of land on the northern border of Ashenmark which they named Lionsmark. Aeston installs Aelise as the Lady of Lionsmark. (Feast of the Leviathan XXI)
In the summer of 1018, the Stromgate family was blessed with a second child, a daughter. As with his son, Aeryk, it was the tradition in Sir Aeston's homeland to not give a child their name until they reach a half-year old and only then at a celebration amongst family and friends. As Aeryk's name was announced in 1017 so would his sister be named that day. Aeston, Dame Areni, and Sir Gwen brought her up at Rhiassan court in front of the assembled crowds and Aeston bestowed upon her the name Aelise, after Dame Taliea's middle name.
It was Aeston's intent to gift Aelise a country as he had given Aeryk the lands of Periden at his own naming ceremony in 1017. In anticipation of that moment he had reached out to Sir Temorse, high lord of Ashenmark, to purchase land on Ashenmark's northern border, the shared border with Rhiassa. Temorse assured him that this would not be an issue and asked to be invited up to court when the time came. When Aeston asked Temorse to join him in front of the hall, however, a heartwarming surprise awaited. Not only the high lord, but many members of the country stood as well. Temorse explained how Aeston had been a friend and ally to his country for many years. The other members of Ashenmark spoke, as well, about the impact that Aeston's mentorship had on them. This would not be a purchase of land at all, but rather a showing of great generosity on the part of their country. Temorse gifted a deed of these lands to Rhiassa, naming the newfound territory Lionsmark as a sign of everlasting friendship between their nations.
After speaking his heartfelt words of thanks to all of Ashenmark, Aeston then turned his attention back to his daughter. He unveiled the new heraldry of Lionsmark, a Rhiassan lion underneath a stone tower, and installed his daughter as the Lady of those lands. Much like Periden, Aeston and the knights of Rhiassa would stand as stewards of those lands until one day when Aelise became old enough to rule them on her own.
At this year's Feast of the Leviathan, several Rhiassan individuals were recognized for the contributions they had made to the nation and the whole of the community. Dame Ellith had been knighted into the knights of Rhiassa two years earlier, but had been wearing Sir Aeston's belt all this time. It was near the beginning of the court proceedings that Aeston summoned forth Ellith with the intent to give her, at last, her own belt. Yet when this belt was revealed, it had upon it a golden medallion. The crest of the station of First Knight.
Since her knighting two years prior, Ellith had let the duty of leadership settle well on her shoulders. She had worked hard to determine how she might best be of use to Rhiassa and how to best support the needs of the country with her own unique talents. Through continuous service, Ellith had demonstrated, time and again, how a Knight of Rhiassa should conduct themselves and how she should inspire others to do the same. The leaders of Rhiassa decided to recognize her example by bestowing the station of First Knight upon her.
Shortly afterwards, Squire Kyro was asked to join Aeston in front of the court so that he could receive his peerage and join the Knights of Rhiassa. Kyro was squired to Dame Areni several years before and during those years distinguished themselves in many ways. The most visible contribution Kyro had made to the nation was the design, creation, and yearly execution of the Gilded Lion Carnival but while the most tangible of his accomplishments, it was not his most significant one.
Kyro's most distinguishing characteristic as a member of Rhiassa was his dependability. He always made the group's goals a priority, and he always worked his hardest to help achieve them. Equally meritorious, however, was the humble, persistent attitude that he displayed during his labors. No duty ever seemed too large for him to tackle, no problem was beyond his ability to reason through and solve. He would steadily march forward towards the goals he had set and bring others along with him so the whole of Rhiassa could be successful.
Citing this tenacity and his undeniable role in the nation's achievements, Aeston presented Kyro with his knighthood that evening before the assembled crowds.
While the courtly proceedings at Feast of the Leviathan went on for some time, the final item was by far the most impactful. The Knights of the Realms were summoned before the hall while Aeston called forth Sir Gwen so that she might join their ranks.
In the entire history of Rhiasaa only two Knights of the Realms had ever been recognized, most recently Aeston in 1009 and before him Sir Duncan in 994. It is a singular honor to be called upon to wear the all-white belt of a Knight of the Realms, an honor that Gwen had earned in fullness. She had been recognized as a Knight of the Eternal Flame several years prior in 1015 in and the ensuing years had redoubled all of her efforts to push the Realms forward. The most obvious result of this could be seen through the elevation of Feast of the Leviathan and how she worked in all kitchens across the community to make feasting a better experience for everyone. But her endeavors went far beyond just that domain.
Gwen, for years and without exception, made the people around her better. Her positive attitude and ceaseless determination to succeed motivated others to look to her for leadership. Whether the task was hosting a gathering, working on the western flank, or guiding others in community service, Gwen inspired those around her to dedicate the best of themselves to their every pursuit and taught them that true joy could be found through giving freely of their time and energy to others. The Realms had become a better place because of her unwavering devotion and sterling example.
Aeston and Gwen began formally working together in 1012 when she became his squire and in the years to follow Aeston had the privilege of knighting her a Knight of Rhiassa and a Knight of the Eternal Flame, adopting her as his sister and promoting her to one of the lords of the nation. It was only fitting, therefore, that Gwen's ultimate milestone was his to oversee as well. Before a standing ovation from the entirety of Leviathan's hall, Aeston placed the belt around Gwen's waist as she began a new chapter in her journey and became a Knight of the Realms.