Legacy of Heroes
Launhym - History
Most of the history of the Surrounding Lands is rather vague before 700 B.E. The pantheons of old warred among each other and only the cultures that followed a strong group of powers survived—or rather, they survived long enough to be conquered by Remaria. Launhym seems to have been very peaceful during this time. Of course there were land disputes and clan rivalries, but there weren’t any divine powers coming down from on high and smiting the unfaithful. Launhym’s easy pre-history was probably due to the following the druidical faith. Druids believe that the entirety of creation is sacred (or at least most of Creation) so the north was viewed by would-be divine warriors as “rustics to be sacrificed later” as opposed to “pagan zealots to be killed now.”
But that changed with the elves. Launhym and Aeylamdyar had always been close; it is likely that the humans learned druidism from the elves. The elves are said to have enjoyed the “primitivism” of human arts. However, the elves had constantly been the superior culture in every measurable aspect and they treated the humans as inferiors— which, at the time, they were. The elves knew of the pantheon wars and the idea of millions of hairless apes finally agreeing on one set of gods after centuries of bloody warfare scared them. They did not think they could stand up to such a force should it turn toward Aeylamdyar. Some of them decided to take action. They decided to create an army of warriors that were stronger than humans but stupider so they could be controlled. They needed a large group of test subjects far enough away from the warring south so that no one would know of their experiments and one that they could deal with on a regular basis. In short, they used ancient Launhymians to create the orcs and other goblinoid races.
For the most part Launhym had no idea this was happening. The elves would take away criminals or small villages that would have perished anyway due to a blizzard, famine, or plague. However, there are only so many small villages that can disappear without people growing suspicious. The Launhym humans started rumbling and that got the attention of the purist faction of Aeylamdyar known as “Dark Elves.” The dark elves didn’t exactly take pity on the humans but they did see the unwilling transformations as an excuse for civil war.
Launhym suffered terribly during the Quarrel. Caught in the vortex of two highly magical factions they could do nothing but ally themselves with the side that was most human-friendly (ironically the same side that had transformed some of them) and hope for the best. Eventually, the Bright Elves of Aeylamdyar won and it was then that Launhym was founded in an official capacity.
The Bright Elves gave each founding human clan a signet ring to prove their lineage and elven druids wandered the country healing those in need and giving advice about how to live with the land. This penance eventually extended into other human lands but not nearly to the same extent as Launhym. Over the centuries, Launhym has come to feel that they owe the elves a debt rather than the other way around. The Bright Elves, for their part, keep trying to help.
Since then Launhym has tried to be left alone. That changed when the humanoids—particularly the orcs—started making their way south. Conflict has flamed ever since. Orcs typically attack during the winter when food is scarce and the humans attack during the summer when their crops can attend to themselves. Sometimes the attacks are half-hearted and light, but they have heated up in the past fifty years and now it appears that for the first time, the orcs truly have the upper hand.
Forty years prior to the present day, King Lanterin, led the forces of Launhym in a massive assault against orc barbarians to end their raids on human lands once and for all. While the assault was largely successful, King Lanterin died in battle after slaying an orc chieftain. Orcs were turned back but the loss of the king was devastating to the Launhym. Lanterin’s wife was devastated by the loss and retired to a secluded druid grove to spend the rest of her days in mourning. Lanterin’s son, Almagaid, was deemed too young to properly ascend the throne and was appointed a regent, Murchad. Murchad was a known wizard, an unpopular profession in much of the Surrounding Lands, however he was one of the few mages to accompany King Lanterin and indeed stood by his side through much of the battle.
Murchad, acting alone, signed a peace agreement with the orcs one year before Almagaid reached the age where he would be properly crowned king. This decision, while needed, undermined Almagaid’s authority and people started passing Almagaid and talking to Murchad directly.
The next few years were complex and difficult and have been the topic of a great deal of discussion and interpretation. One version has it that Almagaid grew jealous of Murchad, slandered him with charges of necromancy, and raised a foreign army to stage a coup d’etat against his regent. Another side is that Almagaid found out that Murchad really was practicing necromancy, was using his power behind the throne to advance his studies, and was actually in league with the orcs for bizarre occult reasons. Almagiad, knowing he could not defeat Murchad on even terms, went to the neighbouring kingdom of Calisia and enlisted their aid. Regardless, Almagaid was successful, and all the barons that had sided with Murchad were executed or run off and replaced with Calisians who had assisted Almagaid. Furthermore, part of the deal with Calisia mandated that he marry Mirabel, the Calisian princess; a further outrage as far as the people of Launhym were concerned.
Murchad was not killed; he managed to escape to a tower that he constructed during his reign as regent. Shortly after his banishment an assassination attempt was made against the Queen. Sir Delray, a Calisian who had recently been made a Launhym baron by Almagaid, saved her at the last minute. While the attempt was almost certainly backed by anti-Calisians, Almagaid chose instead to blame Murchad and sent a small force to take the wizard’s tower. They did not return and their retainers came back saying the war band had been … altered.
Factions appeared. “New Barons,” those brought in from Calisia, were despised by the “Old Barons,” those who were of Launhym descent and who stood by Almagaid instead of Murchad. These divisions remain even after twenty-five years of co-existence. Old Barons are resentful that the New Barons are there in the first place, and the New Barons expect a little more gratitude from a country they feel they helped save.
Almagaid and Mirabel had three children, two boys and a girl, before formally taking up separate residences. The orcs rebounded from their drubbing at Lanterin’s hands and started their attacks anew. On the rare occasions they consented to parlay, the orcs demanded that there would be no treaties unless they could talk to Murchad, whom they referred to as “the voice of peace.” Murchad has made himself scarce as he has been effectively banished and twice put under threat by force of arms. Almagaid is increasingly seen as ineffective when dealing with the orcs and he ends up permitting individual barons to deal with the goblinoids as they wish.
When he was eight years old, Prince Diarmait, Almagaid and Mirabel’s eldest son, was taken along to a boar hunt. In a rather unexpected turn of events, a rogue boar charged him. He didn’t run but instead picked up a spear, braced it against a tree (some say accidentally) and impaled the beast. This astounding feat is told up and down the land; it is the first good break King Almagaid has received, albeit vicariously.
The Church of Light made initial forays into Launhym less than fifteen years ago. Almagaid didn’t care for them much, however he thought that their belief in one unifying force was a good message to deliver to Launhym, which was in dire need of belief in one unifying anything. He permits a small group of clerics to conduct services in his land provided they maintain a low profile. This proved to be a mistake. The orc attacks were increasing and people were blaming the intensity of the attacks on the Church of Light. Church of Light clerics were being lynched on occasion and they eventually went underground while Almagaid was forced to surrender part of his kingdom to the orcs. The druids, who never cared for the church to begin with, meet this setback to the Church of Light with quiet glee.
At age thirteen, Prince Diarmait squired to the noted Sir Gaidon, a living legend, and a great honour. Gaidon travelled throughout the Surrounding Lands, and Launhym’s favourite prince soon left the kingdom. After a couple of years tales of Diarmait and Gaidon get back to Launhym and the prince’s celebrity status rises. Almagaid and Mirabel, wondering if apprenticeship abroad might not be best for all their children, enrol their middle child, Princess Sorsha, into the Remarian Imperial Academy for the Arcane Sciences.
The orcs slowly chipped away at Launhym. New and Old Barons both accused Almagaid of favouring the other group, particularly when it came to which lands the royal troops—as opposed to independent baronial troops—were to protect. With no good way out of this quandary, Almagaid has attempted to bribe the orcs away with grain and gold. Word of princess Sorsha’s enrolment spread was met with a lukewarm reception, surprising considering the prejudice against wizards in the Surrounding Lands.
Prince Lorcan, the youngest, was left to study in Launhym. He was completely unable to compete with his elder brother and was viewed as something of a disappointment. After an orc raid in which he comported himself poorly, Prince Lorcan converted to the Church of Light. The druids, shocked by this, saw it as evidence that King Almagaid has forgotten his roots and is willing to sell Launhym to the highest bidder.
Prince Diarmait was knighted and after completing a few heroic quests elsewhere in the Surrounding Lands, convinced Sir Gaidon to come back with him to Launhym and turn the orcs back once and for all. When news of their eminent return reached Launhym, the nation erupted in patriotic joy that they had not known since the days of King Lanterin; then Diarmait and Gaidon disappeared in the Worldspine Mountains in a tragic avalanche on the way to Launhym. Some now talk of Launhym’s “inevitable” fall.
Most recently, thirty years after the coup, a thunderstorm formed over Murchad’s estate and raged for thirteen days. Quite unusual because everywhere else, the weather was quiescent. This event was heralded as an omen of Murchad’s return. Ironically, nothing became of it, but some still hold hope (or trepidation) of Murchad’s return. Additionally, the orcs have also issued their demand for the complete and total surrender of Launhym. Almagaid has refused. Invasion is clearly imminent.