The Stoneharbour Incident is a blanket term that applies to a series of events that unfolded during the year 4E 25, marking the first major incident of inter-family warfare in Camlorn since Sylon Raze lured Prince-Consort Lucien Valtieri to war in 3E 407. What makes the Stoneharbour Incident stand out is the context of the conflict itself – a Baronial house trying to assert authority over a free settlement – and the aftermath, which resulted in the extinction of an entire baronial line that traced their ancestry back to the Reman Empire. Whether this outcome was justified has been debated by and divided the Camlornese ever since.
Build Up Edit
The noble house of Gaering had once been a Ducal House of Southern Camlorn. In ancient times they rivalled the Valtieris and looked set to surpass them. Yet the Divines were not with them, and slowly their lands and prestige wilted. By end of the third era, they only controlled the Barony of Alnwick. Baron Mannfred Gaering, the head of the house, looked to increase his lands and the town of Stoneharbour was an inviting target. In ages past, House Gaering had controlled lands along Camlorn’s coast, including Stoneharbour and the neighbouring fortress of Stonehill, and so began to press ancestral claims on the settlement. The only scrib in the egg crate was that the town had been a free settlement for nearly two centuries, and his claim was tenuous at best. Nonetheless, Baron Gaering continued attempting to bring the region into his domain.
The local freeriders and people of Stoneharbour sent a petition to the Archduke, whose authority they hoped would be enough to stop Baron Gaering from pressing his claim. But this call went completely ignored by Senhyn, who at that point was already down the slippery slope into self-isolation and reminiscence. With nothing to curb his expansion, Baron Gaering put his plan into motion.
Occupation of Stoneharbour Edit
When it became clear that the Baron’s plans would not be halted, the freeriders of Stoneharbour and the surrounds called a moot within the fortress of Stonehill. It was then that Baron Gaering sent in his army, bolstered by mercenaries hired from nearby Daenia, into the fray. With his own troops he set about capturing and holding Stoneharbour, while his mercenaries were tasked with besieging the freeriders trapped within Stonehill. With the populace subdued and their saviours surrounded, Baron Gaering grew ever more arrogant. He sent a rider to deliver a message to the Court of Camlorn, who upon arrival declared the authority of the Valtieris was a farce. Unfortunately for the messenger, Astien Valtieri happened to be holding court that day. The messenger was impaled on the tip of Astien’s rapier, and he was quick to plan the downfall of Baron Gaering, plotting to assassinate the man. Yet someone else had other ideas.
While Astien went about gathering resources and calling in favours, his younger brother Claude, a hitherto unlooked member of the royal house, summoned the local freeriders and their retainers, and the Knights of the Wolf – which Senhyn had begrudgingly given Claude command of so that they could “get some real practice” – and rode south, with an army around two thousand strong. Word reached Baron Gaering of this turn of events, and felt confident as his army outnumbered the Prince’s two to one. The Baron would wait. The stage was set for the carnage that would soon follow.
Battle of Stoneharbour Edit
In the early, clouding morn of the 15th of Sun’s Dawn, the Prince’s army attacked the Daenian mercenaries from the south. Word soon reached Baron Gaering, who quickly marshalled his own forces and left Stoneharbour with only a token force, hoping to smash the Prince’s army through weight of numbers. Yet as his flank was exposed, and the Baron could only look on in horror as a second host of free riders and knights swooped in from the north east.
Unbeknownst to the Baron, various free riders and their retinues had joined the Prince's force enroute, resulting in a host of four thousand horseman. With the Daenians quickly routed, and surrounded on all sides by angry freeriders, the Baron made a desperate gambit. Leading a rearguard action, he tried to get his forces back within Stoneharbour's walls before he was cut off.
But having sallied forth with so little men, the townsfolk of Stoneharbour managed to overpower the skeleton force left in the town and closed the gates. Trapped outside the walls, Baron Gaering's force was almost completely slaughtered. Baron Gaering himself was captured during the battle and taken prisoner. The Prince’s army was victorious. Stoneharbour had been liberated.
Various captains suggested taking the Baron back north for trial, but Claude saw it differently. By attacking and claiming a free settlement, not only had Gaering broken ancient customs going back to the early days of Camlorn, but he had also committed a personal crime; he had insulted Valtieri honour and authority. Further, if a mere Baron had had the gall to commit such an act, what was there to stop a more powerful individual, such as a Count or Duke from attempting the same? A clear message needed to be sent. With the Baron as his captive, and bolstered by the freeriders of Stoneharbour and Stonehill, Claude turned his army southwards.
Siege of Alnwick Edit
With most of his army routed and the Baron in custody, the garrison at Alnwick castle was low on manpower and morale. The Prince gave Gaering the chance to order his sons to surrender, but he refused, and so the archducal army settled in for the long haul. Despite formidable defences, too few men held it, and the castle stores grew low. In the end, it was Lady Elvira Gaering, the Baron’s daughter, who came to the Prince and his captains, revealing the location of a postern gate. The next morning, Alnwick castle had fallen. But the worst was yet to come.
With the castle taken, Prince Claude ordered a set of gallows be constructed outside the castle walls while setting saboteurs to work within Alnwick with the assistance of Daggerfall’s Royal Mage’s Guild. Once the preparations were complete, the sons of Baron Gaering were locked inside the main hall and the Baron walked the steps to the hangman’s noose. It was then that the Prince’s terrible justice was unleashed. On his order, Alnwick Castle was set ablaze. Baron Gaering was forced to watch as his sons and heirs burned alive within his own castle, before being hanged. Lady Elvira was the only member of House Gaering to survive. The Prince had sent a clear warning; this would be the fate of any who attempted to do the same.
With one of Camlorn’s most ancient noble families practically extinct overnight, the Stoneharbour Incident sent shockwaves throughout the nobility and freemen both. While Prince Claude’s swift action helped to restore some confidence in Valtieri authority and right rule, many nobles deemed the Prince’s actions too harsh and barbaric. Among the freemen however the result was celebrated. Many freeriders had a new found confidence that the crown – even reduced to an archducal one – would protect their autonomy, and in particular came to admire the man who orchestrated it all.
As a result, Prince Claude Valtieri gained considerable influence within their ranks. To them, he was the Liberator of Stoneharbour. But most called him by another title, the Scourge of Alnwick. It also resulted in a shift at court within the capital. With Archduke Senhyn approving with the efficiency with which the situation was handled – if not necessarily the methods – he often left Claude to hold court in his stead. This also meant Prince Astien, the heir, had free reign to pursue his own interests, having someone to ‘keep the chair warm for him’.
As for the last remaining member of House Gaering, Lady Elvira, one rumour states that she commited suicide soon after, ridden with guilt over the horror she’d visited upon her house. Another has it that she changed her name to Arielle, and ended up as a whore in Northpoint. All that is known is that she vanished soon after, and no one has heard from her since.
Three years on and the Stoneharbour Incident is still a controversial and polarising topic, even outside of Camlorn. Most famously, it inspired a popular song, The Wolf of Stoneharbour, a haunting melody sung often in the taverns of free villages and cities, and considered an ill omen in the company of the nobility.