Thursday, August 8, 2019

Father Hal Tawndry's Guide to Ledonia Part II: The Hierarchy

A terse lesson on the history, religion and current structure of the kingdom of Ledonia for the foreign wanderer who finds himself in this bountiful and varied realm by Father Hal Tawndry, High Priest of Wic, Keeper of Knowledge, and written in the first glorious year of the reign of His Grace, King Esmond Seyerling.

In order to enlighten persons new to this great kingdom, I, Father Hal Tawndry, High Priest of Wic and Keeper of His Knowledge, have been tasked with committing to writing certain pertinent facts which would aid in the foreigner’s understanding of this kingdom, in order that he should not perpetrate any act of unscrupulous affront to any lords, ladies or immortals forbid, the King. In this way, harmony will be kept and there shall be no need for the foreigner to claim ignorance should he insult his host and instead shall be rooted out as the arrogant outsider most foreigners seem to be.

Gods be with you,

Father Hal Tawndry
High Priest of Wic
Keeper of His Knowledge


The kingdom of Ledonia was once a disorganized, chaotic continent with warring factions and petty chieftains. Five hundred years ago, a woman named Leda Seyerling rose against the tyrannical marauders that had the run of the continent. Her husband had perished defending her and her son during a raid. With the aid of her brother-in-law, she united all the good people to destroy the rampant disorder and distress. When peace was gained, the people held her up as queen and anointed her son as the heir of the new kingdom. From then on, the title has been passed on to the firstborn son or next closest male kin.

Before Leda ceded Ledonia to her son, she divided the kingdom into eight, after the Divine Eight, and to ensure the continent would not witness such unrest as it had before unification. The four dukedoms are home to the most powerful of the landed nobility beneath the monarch.

To the north, the Duchy of Elderbrooke is held by the Unger family. Lord Tybalt, recently widowed, has only three daughters to follow him. While not unusual for women to inherit titles, especially in the north, it remains to be seen who Lord Tybalt will cede his dukedom to. Meanwhile, he fosters friendly relations with the Ruromanni of the north and there have not been any skirmishes between the two peoples for decades, mostly thanks to the late King Wolfred’s efforts at forming a mutually beneficial alliance with the Ruromanni during the Long War with Delphis.

To the north and west of the continent is an island that lies between the Ruromanni lands and the island kingdom of Delphis. This is the Duchy of Hildun and held by the Berger family. The late Lord Charle solidified his place in the kingdom during the Long War by marrying Wolfred Seyerling’s younger sister, the Lady Maeve Seyerling. There had been whispers he was ready to turn traitor to his king and pledge allegiance instead to the Delphisian king, but all that was quieted with his marriage into the royal family. Lord Charle and Lady Maeve had one son, our current king, His Grace Esmond Berger-Seyerling.

To the south and hugging most of the central coast lies the Duchy of Amaranta, held by the Dorsile family. The late duke, Lord Kenric Dorsile was a close adviser to the king and spent most of his time in the capital. His young wife, Lady Elinor Toers-Dorsile, gave him only a daughter, Lady Hawise, before the duke was murdered. Many of Lord Kenric’s peers believed he vied for the title of Grand Duke, a title as of yet nonexistent. The king has so far made no decisions regarding the ceding of the title and for the moment Lady Elinor holds the duchy in trust for her reclusive young daughter. No doubt, many nobles seek a betrothal with the girl, for the duchy is a rich and fertile land and built mostly on slave labour, a practice the late King Wolfred considered abolishing and a consideration which died with him and his sons.

Further south and resting along the northern border of the Kingdom of Valderon is the Duchy of Malandra, ruled by the Verret family. Through a series of unfortunate deaths, the old Lord Shamus is left with only one viable heir, his nephew Lord Emrys, a young man who cares more for horse racing and bedding women than ruling a dukedom. Because of the king’s marriage to a princess of Valderon, the border remains peaceful. Lord Shamus however, must contend with the occasional raid into the woodland country of the west by the Giscarians, a race of barbarous, loathsome men from the Giscar Mountains, a mountain chain that borders the entire west of Ledonia.

North of Malandra and to the east of the Giscar Mountains is an area known as the Marches. These border areas are plagued by the Giscarians and other barbarians wishing to come into Ledonian territory. Two noble families have been charged with guarding this large area: the Toers take charge of the Rockston territory, and the Stratemakers take charge of the far north, called the High Hills.

Lord Baldwyn Toers, Marquis of Rockston is a great general of the Ledonian Army and successfully pushed back an army of barbarians and mammoths from the border. However, he remains a widower and his only living child is a daughter, the same Lady Elinor mentioned earlier. The lord was a great and trusted friend to the late King Wolfred and is beloved of the soldiers under his command.

The Marchioness Lady Sibba Stratemaker rules the High Hills, unmarried and childless. She is said to lead her men out to battle and to drink and carouse with them. The Lady is able to get away with this unbecoming behavior only because she is so far away from her peers in the northwest corner of the kingdom. And ever more scandalous, the king is amused by powerful women and never reprimands her or appoints one of her few male relatives as marquis.

The Midlands of Ledonia are overseen by a count. The Speer family has long held this title. Lord Valamer is rarely seen by his peers and never travels to the capital to meet with the king. Some say he plots, others say he is crazy, and still others say he is busy dealing with the roving bands of marauders and deserters of the Ledonian Army. Whatever the truth, he does not suffer from lack of heirs; it is said he has eight sons and five daughters, all legitimate, and a bevy of bastards to boot. Many of his daughters are married into other noble families. Most notable are the Lady Anna and Lady Pernella, both married into the Verret family.

Finally, the Fertile Plains are ruled by a baron appointed by the king. There is no succession for this land, for the area provides much of the riches of Ledonia. In the past, the barony has rebelled and it is a fact that much of the few rebellions against the crown have started in this barony. Therefore, the king grants it to whoever is currently in his favour. At the moment, the Lord Lastur Kern retains the title of Baron of the Fertile Plains. It is said he is easily manipulated and possesses no further ambition than what he has already gained.

There are other minor nobles without land: the viscounts, most often an empty title given to soldiers for their exceptional service; the baronets, nobility who remain within the capital for no reason other than they have no land and wish to pay court to the king; and the knights, those mounted warriors in service to nobility, made noble themselves through their courageous deeds.

Of course, the king of Ledonia is the absolute and final power, though he may consult with the nobles or the priests for any number of decisions or in matters of lawmaking. The king is always a member of the Seyerling family and it is said that Leda’s husband, whose name is lost to history, was a descendant of the god of the sky himself, Seinar, and therefore every king since her son Blayve took the throne possessed the blood of a god.

Unfortunately, this does not prevent tragedy from befalling the royal family, as witnessed by the murder of the late King Wolfred, his wife Rohese, and their three sons, Wolfred, Sid, and Rhodri by his own elite bodyguards, the Blayvian Guard. Praise be to the gods that Esmond survived, for Ledonia would surely have fallen into a dark age had he not ascended to the throne.

The common folk are a varied people, most prolific the rabble of peasants who serve their betters in the fields. Slaves are bought and sold for those with the coin to afford them and thus are resented by the free folk for stealing their jobs. In the cities, there are other types of commoners too numerous to list. The priesthoods of the various gods recruit both commoners and nobility, although the nobility tend to possess the highest ranks.

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