Rivland, Kingdom of Silver and Sail!
Last time, we talked about the World of Ark in general terms, but today I will talk about a particular place. "The Rivlands" are a set of islands; one great (called Aver) and the others small and too numerous to mention. For ages, there was no "Kingdom of Rivland" to mention; but instead many petty Kings, Jarls, Earls, Warlords, Chiefs and so on.
The Great, Great Uncle of the modern King was the first to force his will on surrounding "lords" and begin the unification of the islands into one Kingdom. King Graal was in fact a Sjovarg King and his desire for conquest was great! He fought the Earl of Grundir (Earl Agdi, a demi-god some say) and at last was victorious. Later, King Burr finally completed the unification of all Rivland; and today his son, King Jostein, rules the Kingdom of Rivland without dispute. Though his rightful rule is without question, it doesn't mean that the strong-willed inhabitants of The Rivlands are without a rebellious spirit now and again however!
There are two primary groups of Vannulvir who call Rivland home:
Kraggmen: The Kragg Tribes are five in number. The King's own tribe is called the Steinfødt. They live in numbers from the capital of Hakestad, in many ports, and as far from Hakestad as the Aver Forest. The Elgjeger are the most primitive of the Kragg. They are independent minded but loyal to those who are loyal to them. They control the lands around the great Elkwood without contention and at times even press against the Svartskrømt who are the most wicked and evil of the tribes in Rivland. The Svartskrømt in fact are vassals of Earl Agdi and not the King; though the Earl is a vassal of King Jostein; they are the only tribe that does not recognize the King's of Rivland as their monarch to this day, and so serve the King indirectly. The Kalde are the protectors of the great Druidic seat of the Kraggsworn. The Kalde live north of the Elgjeger and are bitter enemies of the Svartskrømt. Kalde druids are common, and the common man of the Kalde is very religious and dutiful; though still thoroughly barbaric by civilized standards! Last of the Kragg tribes are the Tjernfolk who are heavily mixed with the mainland Vannulvir peoples because of many generations of trade and marriage ties. The Tjernfolk are fast allies of the King however, and very loyal to their friends the Kalde as well. If there were a "neutral" tribe of Kraggmen, the Tjernfolk would no doubt be first mentioned.
Sjovarg: The Sjovarg "tribes" are very mutable. In fact, a "tribe" may be a single ship full of sea raiders with a chief that is the ship's captain. Most Sjovarg move a few times in their life from fleet to fleet, and these groups (usually controlled by titled Sjovarg nobles, warlords and minor chiefs) are the true "Tribes" of the Sjovarg. They control most of the small islands in Rivland and are often found fishing the seas with their nets and harpoons. They are consummate sailors. In fact, the King (though a Kraggman) also has many Sjovarg relatives and vassals who, together, constitute the King's Royal Fleet. The Sjovarg are a dominant power in the area of The Rivlands because the Kingdom of Rivland recently won a great war against two neighboring nations which established Rivland as the dominant sea power. Some few Sjovarg in Rivland are outlaw however. They rove both land and sea as brigands and pirates taking slaves, treasure and ships where they may. The King doesn't place a bounty on most of these groups because they rarely attack the other Sjovarg of Rivland, instead preying upon other nations which only helps King Jostein's Royal Fleet remain dominant.
The Kingdom of Rivland is often called "The Silver Kingdom" by many; even as far away as the Karnite Empire. The King's famous mine, the Itsel Mine, produces more silver than is sometimes good for the King's of Rivland. Many invaders have tried to claim the mine (such was the case in the previous invasion of Rivland) because of the vast wealth it generates. The King actually hoards silver to prevent it from devaluing in Rivland; but often sends secret shipments of the treasure to his distant relative King Alisander of Mahn in return for the products of the more civilized nation: books, alchemical secrets, fine clothing and such. The greatest danger to Rivland however is a dragon named Bhalrom which came to the Itsel Mine 26 years ago. Here it killed King Burr and King Jostein's elder brother both; the Kingdom dreads the awakening of this monster and then its return for more silver! The King has offered a reward of 100 pounds of platinum (bought from the Kingdom of Mahn and minted into special coins with King Burr on one side and Bhalrom on the other) for the finding and slaying of this monster...truly a King's Ransom that is worth 250,000 coins of silver which could buy a fleet of 25 longboats!
Today, Rivland is a Kingdom thought to be in trouble; despite its military and naval strength, great wealth and strong people. The King has no heir, no longer leaves the Castle Redfang and is said to be mad by some. While his worthy lieutenants rule in his stead, civil war looms on the horizon if things do not change soon. Goblins have started to increase in numbers all over the island; raiding farmsteads and small camps alike. Pirates have started to plague even the King's own ships as the Sjovarg of the Marauder's Cliffs continue to defy the Royal Fleet. Whispers say the Queen is cursed and dying too...and if she can give the King no heir then a Sjovarg King will come to the throne in Redfang to rule cruelly over all the tribes. Such would of course cause the mighty Elgjeger to rebel as well as the Earl of Grundir; the powerful sorcerer known as Earl Agdi.
Rivland is indeed a land where adventurers and mercenaries might find a fortune; if only they strive for the side that will be victorious! There are ancient ruins in plenty all over the face of Rivland even for those of less than political minded disposition. Ancient holdings of the Aerkay, tumbled towers of the Thurse...and the fabled and much dreaded tower of Forn Torr which looms over all like a spike of black evil driven into the land!
If you want to read more about Rivland, you can find that information HERE in hard copy or HERE in PDF format.
Next time in "Journies in Ark" we will talk about the dreaded tower of Forn Torr!