Western Stradyn - Steinholme “The Front”
Merrin just sat there with his feet kicked up on the rail, hat pulled over his face not making any noise.
“You think they are really going to make a move? I mean look at them out there” Davis called down from atop the lookout on the roof. “There has to be hundreds of them, and they all are just sitting around….shambling I guess.”
Merrin just continued in silence. It wasn’t that odd to Davis, most people on the front weren’t much for talking, especially not the ones that were here to pay off a debt. Merrin was one of those, Davis had overheard him speaking with some of the others that were here by way of servitude, sounded like he beat up a town guard member in a tavern brawl that ended pretty bad. A whole lot of them all chose service on the front instead of death. Must of figured they were good at fighting Davis thought to himself.
“They got some kind of Zombie leading em! You really oughta get a look at this one! No jaw! How the heck does it give orders?!?”
Davis on the other hand was here by choice. Born into war, his family refused to move off the front. On his tenth birthday he enlisted, he bought a jacket that was cut appropriately for his tail, a sword and shield, a handful of battle scrolls, and a hat. He was quickly recognized as an excellent scout, able to pick out enemy numbers with ease, so they taught him how to use a bow, and stuck him up high.
“Looks like they are on the move buddy! Looks like we are gonna get ourselves a fight!!!!!”
Merrin just continued in silence. Davis’s tail began wagging uncontrollably. There was nothing he loved more than the rush of battle. All of his senses perked up just a little. He could feel the moisture on his nose, and the blood rush through his body. His ears were ringing, but he heard someone else trying to get his attention.
“Davis! Get down from there, we have been compromised!” Trent called out from another rooftop.
Davis looked back at Trent, “What are you talking about, Merrin can you believe this guy? Scared of a Zombie!” Davis turned back knocked an arrow and let it fly to gauge his range, firing about 20 yards short of what he could actually hit.
“No Davis, we’re screwed! Half of our guards are dead, like dead dead. Adam is dead, Jacob is dead, Merrin is sitting below you dead right now! Whatever was in that fog last night got them all man! We have to run now!” Trent was frantic, he had lost one too many friends to this war, and had never seen anything like this. It was a given that if someone was committed to servitude in the war, it was generally because their spirit was weak, but this was just bad luck having so many permanently die the night right before a fight.
“Nah, I’m good.” Davis knocked and loosed another arrow, this one found it’s home in one of the horde of skeletons shambling it’s way at the encampment, instantly returning the being to dust. “What good is running anyways? There are undead everywhere, at some point we have to make a stand. Run if you want, but I’m killing that Zombie.” Davis loosed another arrow, another hit, this time taking away the magical protection covering the Zombie leading the troops.
“Your spirit strong?” Trent picked up and readied his bow
“Strong enough!” Davis said without looking back, continuing to fire his quivers into the enemy.
“Let’s do what we came here to do then.” Trent joined Davis, though from a different blind, both archers raining arrows upon their enemies until they could fight no more.
Western Stradyn is a land at war. For two score years the front has been the epicenter of skirmishes on and off the coast of Stradyn. This has caused the lands, and the people within those lands, to be a bit harsher and more rugged than those in the safer areas of Stradyn. Even so, those who chose to live on the front seem to be the most patriotic, adventurous, or carefree.
It is not unheard of to run into stable-hands with stories of resurrecting at the hands of a horde of skeletons, or a smith who outfitted an entire battalion with no time or ore to spare. In fact Steinholme is the place you go if you want the best stories, or the best ale. Those who live in The Front work hard and find purpose in growing and defending their lands, but also understand that their lot is a dangerous one, and celebrate each prosperous day with much joy.
The nobles of Steinholme are likewise some of the most noteworthy in glory and battle-tested rulers in the lands, and it is considered an honor to oversee and protect holdings within the oft dangerous lands of the west. Many of them are chosen from the ranks of the local militias. Especially those whom have shown strong leadership potential, or great ability in stewardship.
It is just as true though that many other nobles have volunteered from around the kingdom as showing strong leadership in a dangerous land is a quick way to move up within the nobility of Stradyn. This is seen often of the Longshadows, a longstanding family of Steinholme that has a history of producing many future nobles within the lands of Stradyn. While not particularly common for one house to produce so many who rise to noble rank, the Longshadows of Echo Grove, known as the new seat of the Duchy, have a particular skill with raising young, patriotic, children of strong will and compassion.
As of 617 the Barony of Marshstead in Netherdale County is the source of constant and active conflict. Many resources have been directed towards producing supply lines to reinforce, and keep the front lines stocked. Those working in the other neighboring Baronies, which are also in active conflict, often deal with raids from intelligent undead as well as incursions from the dreaded lupoids, but not nearly to the extent of the Barony of Marshstead.
In the Counties further inland though, there is a constant push to produce more towards the war effort, blacksmith’s hammers can be heard through the air at all hours, while the scroll and potion makers take great care to rush the right amount of supplies out as safely as they can. These individuals face extreme danger from the more intelligent undead and rogue agents rather than any organized force and as such are much more likely to be skeptical of trust, but at the same time will never turn away a helping hand due to the nature and volume of what they are attempting to produce.
It is not uncommon for those of high noble rank to be seen passing through a town, or a group of Knights catching up and telling stories at a tavern due to the nature of constant conflict, and the amount of support that entails. Even the Duke of the lands is known to make trips to the front to speak with the people and to assess their needs. In any other Duchy this would be scene as an insult to the other nobles tasked with managing those lands, but because of the war, it is more an act of morale than anything else, and the people respond to it very well.
Duke Ellend Longshadow - Duke Longshadow is an Elf of great renown throughout Stradyn and Ultus. A member of the Longshadow family by birth, he spent the majority of his life in the central Duchy of Crestholme as a personal military advisor to the former King Iden. It has been rumored that he was personally selected by the King from the ranks of the Squires of Ordo Chimera, and was immediately raised to the rank of Baron upon being assigned as an advisor to the King. Due to work as a military advisor to the former King, the current King Malik granted the lands, and the management of its resources, to Duke Longshadow when Hargroth openly began militarizing against Strayden. Over the last 40 years the people of Steinholme have come to know the Duke as fair, just, and caring, especially of those who make their lives on the front lines.
Lord Knight Jolene Zara of the Order of the Basilisk - The good Ser Jolene Zara was born into the lands of Steinholme, served her squireship there, and eventually was made Lord Knight after she was tasked with holding an important town from being overrun by overwhelming odds. While she was not the only one to receive honors that day (as many other guild members, mercenaries, and adventurers contributed), she was able to complete her personal oath to the Lord Knight she previously served of defending it with her life. While his body remains in Barston, permanently entombed with the others who gave their lives to stop the first major incursion, she continues on helping to direct and coordinate the battle efforts from wherever the fighting is the thickest. She can often be seen on the front lines in the mix of a fight, or fixing up even the poorest layman's armor after the battle. Ser Jolene is known well to be a consummate warrior with few equals
Lord Yvonne Longshadow - Lord Yvonne Longshadow is another Elf of the Longshadow family. Having served as a town’s magistrate for some time, she was eventually given a Lordship over one of the more dangerous parts of the front. It is said that she had the option to take a position in the courts of Crestholme, but instead chose to take over land as close to the front as possible. A Lord who is known to defend her lands with gas, steel, or bow, Lord Longshadow is also one of the most gentle of all the Lords when it comes to her people. She has been known to be not only forgiving of mistakes and petty crimes, but is one of the few Lords whom is known to attempt to rehabilitate criminals within the lands by way of service. For her part, she is well loved by her community and those she has helped to find a path in life.
Master Morin - The good Master Morin is the caravans leader of Steinholme. He makes his life moving things from one place to the next, and always seems to be where he needs to be to get the job done. It is said he was even once offered lands, but declined due to the lack of travel and adventure that comes with managing things which do not move. Some would argue that Master Morin is the most important person in all of Steinholme, for without him, the shipments do not get to the battlements, and without supplies all is lost. He is known to be humble about his position though, in his words “My part is just to hire the right people to get things from here to there, much less brave or honorable than facing down death at the end of a sword or spell. Give your thanks to the young people of the front, risking their entire lives for the sake of others. They are the ones who keep us all alive.”
Views of other Cultures-
Central Stradyn - “It’s hard enough to live a life on the front lines of a war zone without those petty purchase nobles coming in and looking at this place like it’s some kind of show. I mean sure, you or your family earned enough wealth to purchase some lands, or a spot at court, but outside of the magical trinkets and ritual scrolls they bring out to sell or gamble with I just find the whole lot of them to be distracting. I’m sure they are great when they are at home, but you talk to any noble in Steinholme for comparison and you will see the difference a hard life makes” - Handsome Jarred, Local Guildmaster of the Engineering Guild
Northern Stradyn - “We love, and I mean loooove the people of Voordeholme. You ask me, and ill put my life on the line any day for one of those farmers. A person can’t think straight when they are hungry. Want to lose a war? Starve the troops. It breaks morale, trust, and all the other things you need to keep the common person fighting. You ask me, anyone from Voordeholme has a seat at my table.” Ser Absolom
Southern Stradyn - “Them southern folk come out here like this is some kind of vacation. The young women especially, fresh steel in hand, and ready for valor. Ain’t nothing like a fresh face on a line who is excited to see something dead to fight. Gotta love that enthusiasm. That being said, I sure wish they would leave that enthusiasm on the field. A tavern fight is a terrible thing to clean up after!” Master Nerrgowel of the Red Fist Tribe - Barkeep
Ultus - “Specificity, didn’t even know that was a word. Those Ultans or whatever they call themselves got a bunch of words like that. To me, all I care about is their coin, and man do they got a lot of it. At least they are selling stuff cheap, could you imagine if they were charging full price for their supplies? War would be over!” Goodman Merkel caravan navigator
Garalta - “Ain’t never met a Garaltan, I have met a bunch of people who used to be from Garalta, but I never met one who was into their whole way of life. Gotta be harsh living under such strict pretenses and all. I for one cherish my ability to make a mistake, it’s how they say you learn best.” One arm Jo, known thief
Miloa - “Are the Miloan’s not the greatest? You could have a horde of undead kicking in doors looking for the living to kill and the little jerks will squeal in glee about the new experience, or about how one of them was right in regards to the strength of a femur compared to an Oak door. That’s not to say they won’t pull their own weight, but by golly, I have never seen anyone quite like a Miloan.” Squire Ashley Buckleberry
Hargroth - “The enemy. Not much to say, but as I understand it the place used to be a whole continent filled with people, much like Stradyn, that is until the Dragon woke up. You want to know why people hate Dragons, and Fae, and all those nonsensically powerful beings so much? Look no further than Hargroth.” Lord Enderson