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Factions wrote:Royal House Tremayne
For the past century and a half, the Tremaynes have been the ruling royal house in Saenwyn, though their history stretches back far further. Approximately four hundred years ago, the Elven Sharifate still ruled over much of the land, including a great swathe of what is now Saenwyn. However the zenith of their empire had been reached, and they were now in their decline. The Duchy of Saen, ruled by House Laeneirn - a predominantly An Saennan line - consisted of parts of the Claw, Nolvagne, and the Crownlands. It was here that House Tremayne had its beginnings, as landed knights. Sir Bale of Tremayne marks himself a general of great worth, both in fighting off Alsheraadi incursions and then, having agreed with his Duke, in conquering lands. By around 450 AE, with the Elves falling back on multiple fronts, the Patriarch agrees to anoint House Laeneirn as Kings of Saenwyn - a territory encompassing Tailledun in the east all the way to Oscella and parts of Voslavja in the west.
The ensuing years were filled with fighting and warring against neighbouring countries, with House Tremayne having been well rewarded with rich lands and a ducal title for their military service. Yet by 660 AE, the Kingdom was facing a succession crisis. The King was without male issue, and was too weak to maintain control over his lords. When the King died, the succession was expected to fall to House Tremayne - the King’s daughter having been married into House Tremayne, birthing the present Duke Estien. However when the King’s cousin Seumas moved to claim the throne, a brief war ensued. Lasting only a few years, Duke Estien proved the martial worth of his house and established House Tremayne as a continuation of the Laeneirn line, aided by taking a bride from within that house.
From this point on, the Tremaynes ruled Saenwyn. Though Estien’s son faced initial rebellions, his firm grasp allowed him to engage in external wars for much of his reign, continuing the traditions of fighting against Kharkhedon and Ividal to the south. The next King was less able to maintain the lands his predecessors had lost, losing much of the Marcher lands (and subsequently surrendering use of the title “King of the Marches”), as well as granting self-governance to Oscella. What followed was the rise of his son, Carlon - at first a charismatic military ruler in the mould of his predecessors, his youthful victories in wars against Kharkhedon and Ividal gave him the security to turn inwards, instead devoting his time to extravagance and excess, which would of course, lead to its own problems…
Nonetheless, the House Tremayne has been restored. It’s current head is King Corentin, who is newly married to Queen Marcia, an Ividalan Princess. Also within his household are his brother, Prince Ettien, far more martially inclined than his kingly brother; the King’s Chancellor, Cillian Odile, and his wife, the Mistress Lucrezia; and Commander of the Sovereign’s Doorward Guard, a grizzled Clawborne warrior named Fael of Mhaerer. Others found in his court include Valamir Getic, an exile half-Marcher lord from Voslavja whose lands were taken by his half-brother; and the Alsheraadi ambassador, the Mu'aminin Il-Jabrin.
House Tremayne of Wynriver
Ruling over the Duchy of Lathair in the west of Saenwyn, House Tremayne of Wynriver is a cadet branch of the Royal House begun by Prince Gustave, son of King Carlon and brother to King Jowan. Though a young cadet branch in comparison to the well established Tremayne houses found scattered in the Crownlands and surrounding duchies, the Tremaynes of Wynriver are undoubtedly the most powerful, having been elevated to vassal lords of Lathair as a gift by King Jowan to his brother Gustave for his valiant efforts during the war. The Tremaynes of Wynriver also draw on the storied background of the Royal House itself, with a history stretching back into the past of the Kingdom.
Having first ruled as Prince Regent of Saenwyn, Prince Gustave brought a firm justice to Lathair too - the former nest of the House of Adair, who were part of the Pretender’s Strife - and has cultivated a reputation for being a fair, if strict, liege lord, as well as a lauded general for his actions during the war.
Ruling as head of the cadet house, Prince Gustave is joined in Wynriver by his son Markus, in his late twenties; and daughter Isobel, a young teen. Prince Gustave himself is a widower, his wife having died some years ago. Other notables include Sir Finian Darragh, Knight-Captain of the Prince's Outriders and the landless son of a traitor, and Marcian Strongarm, a renowned Marcher blacksmith famed for making hundreds of arms and armour for the Outriders of the Prince during the war.
It is entirely fitting that the sigil of House Louarn is the phoenix, for they've proven time and time again that defeat is no setback for the old family. Descended from the Morydian High Kings of old, with the blood of Heartlander royalty and Marcher Lords, House Louarn can scarcely remember the days in which they didn't hold power over Moryd. And perhaps, most Morydians claim, rightfully so. Though they've suffered through war, calamity, and strife over the long centuries, the Louarns have bent without breaking.
Having first knelt to House Laeneirn during the Conquests of King Gidion (in which they gained the honorary title of 'Margrave of the West' before losing it to Prince Gustave Tremayne following the Restoration War), the Louarns earned a reputation as 'the rock of the realm' for their role in defending Saenwyn against ambitious Marchers and the tribes of the north and west. Though they were never truly rewarded for this role and the toll it took on the House, the security it provided allowed the merchants of Moryd to flourish. Thus, the scions of Louarn have enjoyed a friendship with the moneyed classes that few outside of Massalia can claim to know.
This friendship extended naturally into conflict with the rise of House Tremayne. Though initially quite friendly with each other (indeed, both houses married into each other several times), the royal family and the Margraves of the West first fell out when King Estien II, called Lackwill, lost control over much of the Marches that owed Moryd fealty. This, in turn, impacted trade, forcing the Louarns and Tremaynes alike to establish relations with the newly-formed State of Voslavja to maintain a competitive advantage. Of course, even that bare minimum of cooperation was becoming a rarity, and when the throne fell to Fergus Louarn's long-time rival, King Carlon, the animosity reached a breaking point.
These days, the Duchy of Moryd is ruled by the thirty-one year old Tristan Louarn, heir to most of his executed father's lands save Pennsbridge Keep. Other members of House Louarn include his widowed sister, Ofelie and his mother, the Lady Dowager Gwendolynne Adair; as well as his wife Katarin and their two sons, Fergus and Hugon. Other notable figures also taking residence under the blackstone walls of Melrose include: Istvan Heirmann, an Oscellan mercenary captain; a Senevni mystic by the name of Stoymen; and several storied personages pardoned by King Jowan after the Restoration War.
Though the jest among the less-scrupulous in Gerand's Keep and Massalia is to boast of one's own patriotism by their willingness to "fight for the realm, to the last Dain”, the Dukes of Cambaern have often taken the joke as truth. Since their ascension to the paramount lordship of the nation's breadbasket, House Dain has gained a reputation for being stalwart royalists and honorable lieges. Whether this has changed with the death of Carlon Dain not two years past is anybody's guess, for his bastard brother Verin has begun circling the citadel of Dainhall like a vulture whilst Carlon's daughter has begun to suggest that perhaps a woman would be a more suitable ruler than young lord Arrick. At the center of it all stands the Lord Regent, Carlon's brother Gidion, a decorated tourney knight and soldier with little in the way of popularity and even less in the way of a taste for intrigue.
And intrigue, despite the reputation of their current liege-lords, is something the people of Saenwyn's most populous duchy know well. Home first to the An Saennan and then the Burgones, with a constant influx of Marchers and the Gold-blooded as well as Ividalans, the diverse lot of lords and ladies that reign over the fields and hamlets of Cambaern are as shifting in allegiance as they are in identity. Before the ascension of House Dain, the region was home to dozens of feuding counts and barons who owed only nominal fealty to House Nantesse, only for the region to collapse in a crisis of overlapping loyalties and divided houses. Assisted by Baron Arnulf Dain, the Crown only barely succeeded in restoring order and preventing a large-scale famine, and duly elevated the family to control of the Duchy out of gratitude. Now, a century later, some have begun to wonder if history is about to repeat itself...
Gidion Dain has never married and has no acknowledged children. He is joined by Carlon's widow, the Lady Leila, and the eight year-old Duke of Cambaern, Arrick. Important members of his retinue at Dainhall include Sir Sytos the Black, his veteran Captain of the Guards and a court personality at Gerand's Keep in his own right; Hareld of Hornbow, a popular minstrel and renowned archer; Sister Serra and her charges, women of the Pantheon; and several men-at-arms, freeriders, and squires attracted to Gidion's skill at arms and seeking glory.
House Guefet of Massalia is both one of the least and most remarkable noble families in Saenwyn. There are no fabled legends of the house's progenitors, nor do the history books speak overmuch of heroic scions of the line. No, the Guefets have no lofty heights on which to rest their laurels- but if their slow, steady rise from servitude to the petty Kharkhedonian vassal-kings to the wealthiest duchy in the realm is any indicator, that's never been something that's bothered them.
The family first came to prominence in the Massalian Rebellion of 480 AE, well-known among sympathetic 'Gold-blooded' Saenwyne in the region for their role in deposing the Kharkhedonian puppet government. Nearly two centuries later, their ancestral mines depleted, they came to inherit the duchy through constant marriage diplomacy. Since then, they've established their hold on Massalia by cultivating trade connections both inside Saenwyn and throughout the southern half of the continent, particularly with Kharkhedon, Ividal, and occasionally the Alsheraadi.
The current head of House Guefet is Lady Jehan-Prospere, at present a widow. She has one surviving sister, at present married to the Lord Mayor of Gerand's Keep, Master Cadell Shornhal, and two children, Winoc and Maelle. Prominent members of her court include the Captain of the Stradiot mercenary company and her seneschal, an escaped Alsheraadi slave of Ividalan birth calling himself Miha'el of the Tar-sands. Also of note is the continued presence of a small Kharkhedonian embassy, putting House Guefet on nearly equal footing with House Tremayne when it comes to the mercantile republic.
The oldest major house in Saenwyn, House Redlance has a storied history beginning with the fall of the An Saenann. With the migration of the Burgones into the heartlands of what would later become the realm, what was then Clan Redlance began a vigorous campaign to unite the disparate petty kings and clans of Gleann Ruaidh in defense of their homeland. While ultimately successfully in this aim, the Burgone onslaught continued for decades, chased out of their homeland by the ascending Alsheraadi Emire. The Redlances, caught between two worlds, played the game as they always would: cautiously, with a careful evaluation of the odds before striking with full force in favor of whatever side they had chosen.
When the first King Jowan completed his own campaign of conquest, uniting the Saenwyne from Tailledun to what's now the southern Voslavjan Marches, the King of Gleann Ruaidh took one of those chances. While opposition to the First King was always prominent, only Redlance had the power to forge a resistance movement to Jowan, and -much to the surprise of everybody- chose not to, instead marrying into the royal house. This set a pattern that, in these troubled days, the Dukes of Nolvagne follow to the letter. Still tied to their old, dying world as much as they are to the modern realm, Redlance has turned inward, focusing more on scholastic pursuits and maintaining the peace among their fractious houses and clans than on the affairs of the realm.
House Redlance is currently led by Lord Douglass, married to Lady Sioshan Fastwind. They have three children, including Lord Douglass' son and heir, Malcan. Lord Douglass has two sisters and a brother, all married, and prominent members of his court include Sir Viktor of Pilgrim's Pass, a hero of that battle, and Brother Renault, a renowned scholar and lay brother of the Pantheon.
The rise of House Kern follows a similar course to that of fellow Heartlanders, House Tremayne. Beginning as knights in the service of House Tremayne in the days of the Duchy of Saen, as lands to the east were conquered, they benefitted greatly alongside their former lieges, rising to similar heights and fortunes. When the civil war for control of Saenwyn broke out, House Kern sided with Duke Estien, and was richly rewarded with ownership of the prosperous mines.
For much of their history, the Kerns have maintained close relations with the Crown, though they were most shaken during the reign of King Carlon, who ignored the counsel of Lord Vicent which led, in the eyes of many, to the Pretender’s Strife in the first place, and then was forced to listen by Vicent’s son Jace, when he issued his famous ultimatum. Carlon’s later years are also blamed for the loss of Cadoc’s Isle to Kharkhedon without sufficient resistance. However as Jace served valiantly in the war, and then soundly as Lord Regent, and the present King grew up in the company of his sons, the once-soured ties between Crown and Kern are apparently recovered.
Led by Lord Jace Kern, Duke of Tailledun, his heir is now his second son, Lord Tylar of Southmarch, after the murder of his eldest son and firstborn, Guyon. Other prominent family members include Lord Jace's wife and her brother Sir Cyril Guefet, both cousins of Lady Jehan-Prospere. Lord Jace has two daughters, a woman of twenty and a girl of fourteen. Also to be found in Dunnisban are Sir Rory of Dryndin, a knight-errant from deep within the mountains; Mikos the Eunuch, a former Kharkhedonian nobleman captured by Maryaenae raiders and freed by House Kern’s fleet after a battle; and Liamm Cathail, his steward.
House Kern of Southmarch
Southmarch, the southernmost province of Saenwyn, is ruled as a marcher fief, with its count appointed by the King at the death or surrender of each count-appointee. The present Count of Southmarch is Lord Tylar Kern, Lord Commander of the Royal Army and heir to the Duchy of Tailledun. A childhood friend of King Corentin and an accomplished soldier and commander, Lord Tylar is only the second appointee to the position, with Southmarch having been split off from the Duchy of Lathair after the end of the war, and his predecessor, one of King Jowan’s loyal generals, passing away of old age soon after Corentin’s succession to the throne.
From his lofty roost in Southmarch Castle, Lord Tylar is joined by a handful of notable characters, including Nicolae of Tanzi, a Ividalan merchant travelling north; Vance the Old, an academic studying the history of magicks and their demise; and Olivara Agustin, one of the Grey Priests of Ividal.
League of the City of Glass
The whims and ways of the merchant guilds follow a different path to those of noble houses, though they are often extensively intertwined. For none is this more true than the League of the City of Glass - a trading guild that has been around hundreds of years, and was involved on both sides of almost every conflict in the western Marches, from the conquests of King Gidion to the losses of Estien Lackwill. They also had the dubious honor of being one of the main trading guilds to back the Confederation during the civil war, channeling the mineral and material wealth of the region into the war effort. Yet throughout all of the political turmoil, the League has retained its position and its property (short a few temporary set backs when backing the wrong horse). Its influence is extensive in Moryd - where the Lord Mayor of the City of Glass is widely viewed as an appointee of the League - and stretches as far Gerand’s Keep, though its influence elsewhere in the realm is held in check by the competing merchant guilds.
The League is currently headed by Kinnet Deleir, the twenty-seven year old heir to one of the largest caravaner families in Saewyn. A highly contested decision for a body whose leadership had remained unchanged since before the war, his younger energy and guile won out over more of the same; not that there seems to be a push back against his ascendance - there’s a saying in the League, “the riskier the road, the greater the profit”, and the young Deleir is known for his daring. He is joined in his offices by his father Mennet Deleir, as well as his elder sister Yirra, still unmarried at 28; Arnulf Grinne, an Oscellan banker with a taste for the peculiar; and Sir Edwyn Dain, a distant cousin of Lord Arrick, an occasional enforcer and often-times caravan guard captain.
The Ashen Lords
Born out of the Third Ividalan War, where for thirty years, a shifting alliance of the forces led by the Holy Throne battled the heretical followers of the Line of Vidal and their own allies, the Ashen Lords have carved their way into the pages of history with sword and spear. While not the largest (or for that matter, the wealthiest or most well-regarded) of the sellsword bands on the continent, the company has long held a reputation for ferocity and discipline, evidenced by their famous warcry “Their blood or ours”. Indeed, this motto has been their guiding principle since their crucial role in Ividal's war to protect their independence, and has served to reinforce the rogues and outcasts of the battalion and strike fear in the hearts of their many enemies- who have included at various points the Alsheraadi, the Forlorn Hope of the Ividalans, the Kharkhedonians, and half a dozen Voslavjan Marchers.
The Ashen Lords have been commanded for the past seventeen years by Sir Tomas Breakshield, who rose to prominence by leading his band of mercenaries to fight on both sides of the Saenwyne civil war, eventually turning his cloak at the Battle of Pilgrim's Pass and engaging the Confederation's heavy cavalry long enough for the vanguard of Jace Kern to attack Fergus from behind. His lieutenants include such colorful figures as Griaje Radu, an exiled Tigranan nobleman widely considered one of the best horsemen in the company (no small feat, considering the reputation of the Ashen Lords as horsemen par excellence); a scarred elf calling herself the 'Jackal Queen', leader of Sir Tomas' scouts and his principal adviser; 'Lord' Belkin Tremayne, a claimed descendant of one of Estien Lackwill's bastards as famed for his good looks as he is for his skill with an axe; and lastly, Magon of Iliudan, a formerly wealthy merchant turned friend of Sir Tomas (and father of the Captain's mistress).
Circle of the Forsaken
While Royalist scholars will undoubtedly point to several key events – particularly Lord Jace's reinforcement of the Cambaernian loyalists at Hornbow and Douglass Redlance's decision to let King Jowan pass through the Claws – as the turning points of the civil war, an oft-forgotten fact is that infighting nearly destroyed the Confederation before it truly began. For while Lord Adair sought to restore the monarchy with a document binding its powers to the will of the nobility and Fergus Louarn, never officially disavowed the Tremaynes (indeed, it is said he ordered the execution with Carlon Surefoot with great reluctance), a small but vocal segment of the rebellion leaned towards a new form of government, modeled on Kharkhedon and with rights guaranteed to the burghers and freeholders, where the chance of another Carlon was virtually non-existent.
And it was these “republicans” that nearly shattered the tenuous Confederation, their increasingly-exorbitant demands prompting the Louarns to expel them from their ranks. It was this motley collection of dispossessed burghers and angry smallfolk that were forsaken by the Pretender, and soon collapsed into a dozen bands of diehard rebels and up-jumped bandits.
But only one group has thus far managed to survive the harsh justice of the Blood Royal, the tenacity of Jace the Iron, and the wiles of Corentin and his meritocratic court. This Circle, called so for the connotations of equality, has survived in the Lathain mountains through a mixture of banditry and sympathy towards the fallen Lord Adair. It is said that the paramount among their number is a hooded figure by the name of Red Saloman, and he counts among his lieutenants the Lathain knight Sir Brevard, an Adair loyalist, a fallen deacon skilled with a mace by the name of Brother Maurite, and a particularly vicious young woman by the name of Brianne Horse-Hunter, a new recruit who claims to be seeking vengeance for her merchant father's death at the hands of a Tremayne bannerman.