The Freecities of The Northern Territories

Freecities of The Northern Territories

Overview

The Northern Territories emerged after the collapse of the Kingdom of Tharg, riven by strife and civil war. The major cities seceded and declared their independence from the then capital, Taran, each claiming lands for themselves. The power struggle that followed was viscious and looked unlikely to end any time soon, until the intervention of a goblin horde, untied under the banner of Grogsnot the Merciless, who threatened the security of the freecities. This, combined with economic necessity, eventually saw an agreement reach, which eventually led to the formation of The Northern Territories, a powerful alliance between the four major cities who between them control nearly all of the land.

Taran remains the most significant of the cities, the old capital of Tharg and the seat of the monarchy who can trace their lineage right back to King Tharg I himself. Situated along the Bay of Tharg, it has excellent links to The North Sea and the Norv nations. It's naval power ranks amongst the greatest and it's trading vessels can be found throughout Arrasia, though especially in the north where they compete with Norvsond and the other Norv nations. It is primarily the Taran navy who maintain the naval war with Nÿgamär, which keeps open the trade routes, though Eben has also proved an able ally in the war.

In a twist of irony, it was in part the war with Nÿgamär which helped bring about the collapse of the old order, with many believing the war to be too costly and frivolous, while later it would form an essential part of the alliance between the freecities which formed The Northern Territories. The long distance means that, depsite the ongoing war, battles are rare. Nÿgamesse privateers are far more of a problem, commonly attacking the merchant vessels of The Northern Territories. Although few in The Northern Territories see any purpose to the war, neither do they see any other option to continue it while Nÿgamär continue to attack their shipping. On several occasions large sea battles have taken place, but the distance between them means there is always time to rebuild before the next encounter.

Although humanoids are common throughout The Northern Nations, it is Thryn and Westhold in particular who face the greater hardships, situated as they are amongst The Northern Hills. Westhold in particular suffers from constant attacks, being the most westerly located of the cities. It is also the smallest and the merchants are forced to make the hazardous trek over the hills before reaching Thryn. Both cities have good relationships with the dwarves and gnomes of The Northern Hills and the halflings of Ciradel, which have provided excellent trading opportunities, as well as the formation of loose alliances during times when humanoids are particularly active.

The Karnish culture is strong amongst the people of The Northern Territories, with the history born out Karnish civil war and the long trek of Lord Tharg to these lands, where he declared himself king. The language is common to everyone and the gods and cutoms all the same as those in Karnish itself. Over the years, however, some Noroven influences have taken hold and language has wide spread use, as well as some of the customs.

In more recent years, the rise of Zykerathox has seen a new threat emerge against the freecities. Having maintained their old alliance with Karnish, they have mustered their armies to make war against the friends of Zykerathox who now ifreely pass through HuriGhol, a wild land where tribesmen and humanoids have long made their home, but which in recent years has become a new battleground between the forces of Zykerthox and those of The Norethern Territories. The Black Undeath of Zykerathox has ravaged much of southern HuriGhol, where the land is now filled with the walking dead, and is spreading into the north and even into the southern most settlements of The Northern Territories. The alliance against Zykerathox is seen as essential to their survival and has thown off any remaining tensions that still existed amongst the freecities, as they now fight for their very existencei against the forces now mustering there.

Significant Trade Export

Bronze: Although not as marketable as it once was, there is a market for bronze, especially trinkets and decorative objects. Amongst the settlements of The Savage Coast, bronze weapons and armor are still sought after, as they are cheap and better than nothing at all. Of the freecities, only Eben doesn't produce bronze.

Copper Ore: The eastern reaches of The Great Northern Hills, around Thryn, are abundant in copper ore, around which many small communities have sprung up. Much of it winds up in Thryn, where it is used for coinage and as an alloy for bronze. It is also exported, especially to settlements along The Savage Coast.

Iron Ore: The rugged terrain of The Northern Territories is rich in iron deposits, which are exploited to the full and sold around the world.

Ivory: Wooly mammoths, wild boar, walrus and whales are all hunted for their ivory, which is often carved into exquisite objects or jewelry before being exported to the cities around Arrasia. Ivory was the first major export for the old Kingdom of Tharg and remains an important source of income to both Eben and taran in particular.

Mithral: The dwarves of The Crystal Mountains mine the mithral seams, which they then sell onto The Northern Territories traders, who export this valuable metal to Karnish and beyond. Although not as abundant as in Norvsond, mithral is nonetheless an essential part of the Taran economy, which has benefitted closely from their ties with the dwarves that mine it. Mining the mithral, however, is hazardous in the extreme, as The Crystal Mountains are home to humanoids and also a large number of frost giants.

Precious Stones: Agate, bloodstone, amethyst, carnelian, chalcedony, chrysoprase, onyx, sard, sardonyx and quartz are all mined in The Northern Territories, either as alluvial deposits or through deep mining. The dwarves, especially, have mined large quantities of these precious stones as they have dug deep into the mountains and hills under their citadels.

Silver: The land is abundant in silver, which is mined in the mountains and the hills and provides a large slice of the freecities' incomes. Many communities are built around this precious resource, which is exported all over Arrasia.

Tin: The Crystal Mountains and the Mountains of Fendorn supply large quantities of tin, much of which is shipped to Thryn where it is used along with copper to make bronze.

Brief History

The untimely death of King Luicial I of Karnish ignited the Third War of Ascendancy, which saw two of the sons of the king, Deymus and the illegitimate Tharg, enter into open and violent warfare over the right to sit on the throne of Karnish. Hugely charismatic and popular, Tharg had been sent into exile by his father as a child and raised in the city of Highdale in Sorendale, though later moved to the coastal city of Yarathwaite in Yarath.

Tharg became a military leader of great renown. As a young man, he was pivotal in Yarath's victory in the Battle of Bordel, which secured Yarath's border from the marauding hordes who had passed over The Malvus Peaks, and, several years later, now as a high ranking officer, in the battles of Raging Gorge and Jend, which saw King Tharin II of Borodor defeated. These notable victories saw Tharg's popularity grow and soon his lineage became common knowledge. Within the borders of Karnish, the mighty Tharg was seen as the natural heir to the throne - a man who would maintain their strength and sovereignty, unlike the hugely unpopular Deymus.

Upon the death of King Luicial I, Tharg denounced his stepbrother's right to the throne and, backed with four thousand of Yarath's best troops, marched against his brother to claim the throne as his own. Sweeping through southern Karnish with several dazzling maneuvers, Tharg's army was swelled by the ranks of those who saw him as the true and proper heir to the throne. The momentum with him, Tharg now turned his attentions to the final battle for Karnish, where he would meet with the might of the Karnish army.

Much to everyone's surprise, Deymus prepared himself for the challenge, roused his army and stood before the gates of the City of Karnish. The Battle of Thanock Bog saw Tharg's superior military strategy neutralized as both armies were forced to fight in the vile bog lands east of the City of Karnish. This masterstroke - and the vital intervention of Lord Urdoon's legion of knights - saw Tharg's forces routed and forced to withdraw.

Chased north, Tharg's forces were cut off and only the large support he enjoyed amongst the common people enabled him to continue his struggles. However, the coronation of Deymus brought an end to the war of ascension and Tharg once again found himself in exile, in Badathur. Two further attempts to overthrow Deymus and take the throne also ended in failure, with Deymus' forces occupying Badathur after the third and forcing Tharg to retreat even further north. Deymus now pursued his foe relentlessly into Yeod, until Tharg and what remained of his loyal force took to the seas in an armada of over one hundred ships.

After several major naval engagements and with the condition of his army seriously deteriorating, Tharg set out on his greatest journey. Outmaneuvering the naval forces of Deymus, Tharg crossed the Gulf of Gadmommon and hid in the dangerous waters along the coast of The Raging Sea, where nearly half the fleet were lost. Tharg eventually landed and pronounced these lands his own, to be known as The Kingdom of Tharg, and set up Taran as his capital settlement. Over a period of time, the kingdom grew as many Karns made the journey to the fledgling nation and settled there.

War between Tharg and Karnish continued, in the form of several naval clashes, but with the eventual demise of both King Tharg I and King Deymus I, peace was eventually declared and soon the trading routes opened and the two politically and religiously close nations found they had much in common. The Karnish war against Hith saw their relations with the Kingdom of Tharg come full circle, as Tharg supplied vital supplies of food and water that allowed Northport to hold out against the rampaging Hith army, where a large part of his force was held up. This delay was enough for Karnish to send their army north and defeat the new enemy and cemented a friendship with the Kingdom of Tharg, which has lasted until this day.

As Taran and the king, King Herold III, focused their attention elsewhere, in particular on the war with Nÿgamär and the expansion of their trade routes in the north, the remaining settlements saw little of the great wealth that poured into the capital, but whose taxes were expected to help maintain the war effort. Local barons often ruled their regional fiefdoms as monarchs themselves, with little intervention from the capital. With resentment growing, rebellion became common and eventually Eben declared itself independent from the Nation of Tharg. This led to civil war, which saw Thyrn and, later, Westhold, also declare their independence. The war continued until the emergence of a vast goblin under under the charismatic and powerful leader, Grogsnot the Merciless, whose armies fell upon much of the north. Fearing the worst, the warring cities patched up their differences and formed an alliance, which saw them victorious in several key battles, eventually forcing a retreat of the hordes.

Although tensions and resentments remained high, the end of the civil war eventually saw the sides come together in a very loose alliance, which over the years has grown and become known as the Alliance of The Northern Territories. Although the people of taran still yearn for the days when their King ruled all of the land, the wealth that pours into the city has kept them focused on trade and profit. In the meantime, the strengh of the other cities has grown such that any attempt to reunite the nation would be only like;ly to fail.

The Major Towns and Cities

Taran: (pop: 38,000) A thriving and busy port, Taran can trace its roots back to King Tharg I, who settled on the very spot now occupied by the city. The superb deepwater bay alongside which Taran has grown provides an excellent natural harbor where ships can anchor, well-protected from the savage seas and the worst of the stormy weather. Stone buildings line well packed (even cobbled) streets, which are generally laid out in a grid pattern. The port area, which is the oldest part of the city, is a web of alleys and side streets that only the locals have a detailed knowledge of, where nearly anything, legal or otherwise, is available. Taran is also a major naval port and warships can often be seen anchored in the bay.

Eben: (pop: 16,000) Initially a military settlement built to help defend the southern borders from the hordes of HuriGhol, Eben has grown into the second largest city. A substantial port, the stone buildings are packed inside the solid city wall, which defends it from regular attacks. A large keep, from which the main city wall extends, is home to a sizable army, who make regular raids into the northern tip of The Rakok Forest to disturb any tribes found there. Eben is also home to a large fishing fleet, which trawls the seas for whales for their valuable ivory. Walrus is also common around the coastline, which is also a valuable source of ivory.

Thryn: (pop: 10,500) Heavily dependant on the copper, iron and silver of The Great Northern Hills, Thryn has a large population of dwarves, gnomes and halflings. The city is heavily industrialized. The extraction and purification of cooper, iron and silver sees the furnaces burn night and day. Thryn is far more open and spread out than the other cities of The Northern Territories and much greener, though the substantial dwarven quarter is a notable exception, with stone buildings and stone roads much more common. Thryn is home to a large professional army, which polices the local lands and acts as a deterrent to those in Taran who might favor reunification.

Westhold: (pop: 4,500) This frontier town, located west of The Great Northern Hills, is the most westerly population of The Northern territories, with access mainly down the Aruval River, on which it is situated. Westhold originally grew up around the copper ore that is mined here, but quickly established itself as a military town where operations were carried out against the many enemies found in Nerafu. It was this large standing army which gave Westhold the clout to declare its independence and remain so since. The town itself is protected by a large stone wall, into which has been incorporated a large keep, which sits on a hill overlooking the town. The streets are muddy and the buildings made of wood. As might be expected, Westhold is a dangerous place to live, where chaos and criminals exist far more than in the other free cities of The Northern Territories, despite the presence of large numbers of soldiers. Westhold is not a place for the gullible or feint of heart.


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