Thornvale is a very reclusive Barony. Its population is low in number, but the uneven landscape has proven hard to hold by conventional armies. Its military is reknowned for its experience in guerrilla tactics, and its intelligence services are respected by its peers. Its seclusiveness and political affinities have made it a popular destination for Shornhelm wizards seeking solitude.
The land is ruled by the Baron Alvin Odilon, an educated and cautious man that descends from a powerful family of wizards from Shornhelm. The Odilons seized an opportunity to acquire the land from Darguard during The Quiet War.
Its greatest exports are metals from its mines, especially gold. As a result, the aesthetics of interiors are usually permeated with shiny golden surfaces. Its greatest import is food.
History of the Barony of ThornvaleEdit
Thornvale’s ancient history is not well known. The region is rather inhospitable, except for a valley indented deep within the mountains. According to the earliest records that have been found, Thornvale seems to have been founded by a wealthy noble from Darguard, as a small mining settlement. Eventually the venture paid off as gold was found in abundance, but not for its settlers. Although the exponential growth was fueled by its gold, little was invested back in its people. The economic chasm between the classes grew, and so did tensions. The extreme poverty and the easy access to gold, it was rather unsurprising that some of it started to get missing, which led to an escalation in persecution and brutal punishments to serve as deterrents. As tensions reached a boiling point, a man known simply as The Wolf, successfully rallied enough men to overthrow the guards that were still loyal to the established rulers.
After a quick and bloody battle, Thornvale declared a rather short lived independence that only lasted two days, ending when Darguard’s army arrived to easily retake the settlement. However, contrary to Darguard’s beliefs, the rebels weren’t annihilated. As the overwhelming size of the approaching army started marching towards Thornvale, The Wolf’s men retreated to the mountains and the forests. From there, a long struggle began, where they attempted to weaken Darguard’s grip on Thornvale by disrupting its mining and transportation of gold.
Storytellers eventually named The Wolf’s followers, as The Cloaks. The name was an obvious reference to the dark cloaks they wore as they attacked at night. Darguard’s written records show that ambushes, infiltrations and assassinations permeated this time, punctuated by the overly gruesome torture spectacle of any Cloaks caught alive, as a warning to the others.This time is now known in Thornvale as The Quiet War, due to Darguard’s policies of sentencing to death anyone that described the current events as an actual war.
This situation was finally resolved when Darguard pledged fealty to Shornhelm. As a consequence, determined to resolve that conflict, the King offered a proposal to the Cloaks in that they would cease all aggression in exchange for the installment of a ruler of their choosing, if said ruler also pledged fealty to Shornhelm. The Cloaks accepted, but, against all expectations, they did not name The Wolf for this role. It was announced that the Divines were so impressed with his valor that, by completing his purpose, his soul and flesh were sent to Secunda to watch over Thornvale from the night’s sky.
Instead, the Cloaks named Urbain Odilon, a powerful and wealthy wizard from Shornhelm. This was a strange turn of events at the time, but it was found later that Urbain has been funding the Cloak’s campaign all along. Much speculation still exists about Urbain Odilon’s true intentions. He claimed empathy towards the oppressed people of Thornvale, but it is conjectured by most that his true agenda was to take Thornvale for himself all along, especially given his attempts to influence Shornhelm to propose said agreement to the Cloaks.
Thornvale’s history after these events is much less violent. With Urbain’s rule, Thornvale’s gold was now fully used to subsidize its own growth. Great towers were built quickly during this golden era, known as The Great Crop, meant as an ironic remark, as if towers of stone were the only kind of crop that grew in the mountainous landscape of Thornvale. With Urbain, a small elite of wizards were also attracted to the small, reclusive settlement, and its tall towers, bringing Shornhelm’s tradition of magic with them.
When the war broke out with Northpoint, Urbain Odilon’s grandson, Alvin Odilon, was in charge of Thornvale. He stood with Shornhelm, and endured the long conflict until most of its combined armies, including most of his new magic-weilding Cloaks, were decimated in a single battle. Alvin decided then to pledge fealty to King Daric, in exchange for the maintenance of the status quo. This decision caused a strong divide in Thornvale, with many speaking loudly against Alvin and the shame he brought to Thornvale’s tradition to fight until the end, though the most educated classes generally agree with Alvin’s choice.
The legend of The WolfEdit
Most stories describe The Wolf as part man, part wolf. A beast of the night that could appear in anyone’s closet at any time. Songs where he’s depicted killing and eating dozens of enemies, just by himself, are still sang by the locals today. Great bravery, leadership skills, feats of great strength and endurance, and powerful magical abilities, are all attributed to him.
Unfortunately, all popular discourse about The Wolf is heavily ingrained in mystery and superstition, making it hard to know who he really was. Most scholars agree with a much more plain version of the events that surrounded Thornvale’s rebellion. Evidence suggests that the man who led the uprising, perished from disease very early in the struggle after his men were forced to the mountains. It is possible that he was afflicted by some form of lycanthropy, which would explain the name and some stories. Still, the name was kept alive and the stories were embellished, both to strike fear in Darguard’s military, and to uplift the spirits of the supporters of the cause.
The reason why those stories still carry weight today among the locals, seem to stem from the fact that his remains were never found. Many archaeologists, desperate to silence these stories, have searched for his body buried in the mountains, but this daunting task always proved futile.
Expressions like "Beware The Wolf" and other variations, are still employed today when people venture into the mountains or go deep into the forests that was once home for the rebellion.
Thornvale lacks a threatening army due to its low population. However, it has a rather competent guerrilla force and spies.
Historically, the Cloaks were just common men turned rebels against Darguard, forced into a guerrilla war for years. After the rebellion lost its purpose, though, their experience wasn’t lost. Instead of disbanding them, Urbain Odilon planted the seeds for one of Thornvale’s most recognizable features today. The Cloaks were given a role of a small elite force, meant to defend Thornvale, would the need arise once more. Taking advantage of the veterans’ experience in guerrilla tactics, and the introduction of a tradition in magic from Shornhelm, a rather unique kind of force emerged during the next decades.
The Cloaks are now known as an elusive force of battle mages, that take full use of the harsh landscape, employing mainly illusion and destruction magic with the intent of crippling a much larger force while avoiding direct confrontation. The dark cloaks are still wore today as a symbol from their past.
The rehashing of the Cloaks also led to the branching out of very competent spies. Thornvale's spies usually start out as Cloaks, then they either prove most proficient in illusion magic than most, or they prove themselves unable to endure the rough mountain training, so they pursue the path of a spy. They are overly reliant on magic to avoid detection, which can be a weakness or a blessing, depending on the circumstance.
Thornvale's spies are the reason why such a reclusive Barony is always so well informed.