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Arcadia (Barony of)
Location: West of Oceansend, in the Icereach Mountains, bordering Lake Gunaald.
Area: roughly 500 sq. mi. (1,125 km2)
Population: About 300, including 250 dwarves and 50 humans.
Languages: Alphatian Common (Alpha dialect), Heldannic, Dwarven.
Coinage: Alphatian standard : Crown (gp), Mirror (sp), Judge (cp); gold nuggets or barter commonly used.
Taxes: none, inhabitants sometimes give goods to their baron to gain his protection against dragon attacks.
Government Type: Barony in name, no real government.
Industries: Fishing, Mining (gold), Crafts (goldcraft, weaponsmithing).
Important Figures: Baron Arcadius (human, male, M20), Sandryth (gold dragon, male, young adult), Clanmaster Tark Takkras (dwarf, male, F10).
Flora and Fauna: Arcadia consists mostly of high mountain, overlooking western Lake Gunaald. The cold freshwater lake is rich in fish, which constitute all the animal life that can be found in the area. A few evergreen trees grow in the small valley bordering the lake, soon replaced by small scrubs then bare rocks on the towering mountains. Some rare chimeras and wyverns make lair in caverns high in the mountains, while dragons from the Wyrmsteeth to the east occasionally swoop by.
Description: by Arcadius
Hello dear reader. You don't know me yet, as it is my first time writing an article in the famous Mystaran Almanac. So, let me introduce myself briefly first, and we shall go on with the very article later.
My name is Arcadius, wizard and scholar from the lands of Norwold. I was born a Traladaran in a small village of the Grand Duchy of Karameikos, now a Kingdom, but left my homeland in pursuit of greater knowledge. After some years of adventuring around the Known World and beyond, I opted for settling in Norwold where King Ericall of Alpha was giving lands and titles to worthy heroes - and it seems I did qualify as one such, since I was adoubed Baron. I conduct studies in the Tower of Arcadia, concentrating on my favourite subjects, which are history, legends and lore, plus occasionally other fields including magic.
I spoke with a young Glantrian wizard named Alasdhair McAllister during a visit of mine in the elven Barony of Ironwood. He told me of his work as a correspondent for the renowned Mystaran Almanac - I myself own a copy of every tome -, and of business he had in his homeland that would prevent him from completing his tour of Norwold. I told him about parts of the country he hadn't been able to see yet, and just before leaving, he asked me to replace him as official correspondent for the Norwold region. After the initial surprise, I agreed - and there we are. I hope I can live up to Alasdhair's expectation - and offer you as interesting and complete description as he would have.
Alasdhair encouraged me to start this year with my own, petty barony. Though I find this somewhat pretentious, I shall simply do as he suggests; besides, that should help you know me better than with just this brief introduction.
The Barony of Arcadia lies, to most eyes, in the middle of nowhere. It is an isolated dominion in the tall Icereach mountains, though it also encompasses part of Lake Gunaald. There is probably a map of the dominion borders in the king's library in Alpha, but I must admit that it is of no relevance to me. The fact is I rule only over the Tower of Arcadia, which is built on top of the highest peak of the dominion, and I do not try to enforce any law over the rest of the land that is nominally mine; hence I don't really know where it starts and where it ends.
Most of the land is thus high mountains. This does not mean it is a poor land, however: Though there is almost no vegetation and virtually no animals, the soil is rich in valuable minerals, mostly gold. A small clan of dwarves runs profitable gold mines a few miles north of the Tower of Arcadia. The highest peaks are covered with everlasting snowcapes, and cold winds from the north blow during most of the year.
The Tower of Arcadia is built on top of the highest peak, and is surrounded at all time by snow. Unless you are well-equipped, I do not advise you to go there by normal means; the best way to reach the tower is by air, or by magic. When the sky is clear, the tower can be seen from below, including by fishermen at work on the lake. Most of the time, though, clouds block the sight, as the peak's end stands above the cloud line.
A feature of note is Lake Gunaald, which is frozen during a good part of the year, typically from mid-fall to late spring or early summer. It is a freshwater lake, whose waters abound with delicious white fish called gunaald (the lake is named after the fish) that fetch high price on Leeha's, Alpha's and even Oceansend's markets. Several families live off the lake's bounties, fishing from small boats in the summer, and making holes through the frozen layer of ice the rest of the year. Most of those fishermen live in the sheltered valley stuck between the lake and the high mountains, because it is quite safe from the cold northern wind thanks to the mountain range.
One peculiarity of the barony that surprises many fellow nobles, especially King Ericall, is the fact that I do not enforce taxes of any kind on the few inhabitants of Arcadia, or even a single law. Truth is, the dwarves govern themselves, with their own regulations and justice, and that wouldn't be wise to meddle in their internal affairs. As for the fishermen, they are simple people who don't need any law to tell them how to live their lives. However, they both fear me and praise me for supposedly keeping any dragon attack on them at bay, and when they can afford it donate fish supplies or, more rarely, offer their services. The dwarves also accuse me of being an agent of the dragons that only want to steal their gold, but they trade with me anyway.
Arcadia is sparsely populated at best, due to the fact that it is such a remote place and that I never actively tried to attract new settlers. In fact, I never even conducted a census and population numbers I give are estimates only.
The majority of Arcadia's population is made up of dwarves, a single clan of them, clan Takkras. This clan was established some 187 years ago, when the young Tark, youngest son of a clan from Oceansend, discovered how rich in gold the mountains west of Lake Gunaald were.
He brought with him some of his previous clan and was designed as clansmaster by his followers, and has since ruled his clan. The clan's main business is gold mining, of course, and all sorts of crafts related to the working of gold. The dwarves often buy tasty fish from the fishermen of the valley, which they pay in raw gold nuggets. The dwarves are quite paranoid about dragons, whom in their minds are all after their gold. They often accuse me of being in league with them, which I sort of am, not to mention that in their eyes wizards are not much better than dragons in the first place. Anyhow, since they have not suffered from any dragon raids since I settled in Arcadia, they grudgingly recognise that I may somehow protect them, and occasionally trade with me precious, beautifully crafted items that I use as vessels for my magical experimentations in exchange for magical items and commodities that I bring back from Alpha or Oceansend or beyond.
The rest of the population are native fishermen of Antalian descent who have been living off the bounty of the nearby lake for an unknown number of generations. They sell gunaald they don't eat to the Takkras dwarves, or smoke it and carry it downriver and sell it to the Hins who are fond of it. And the leftover they give to me, hoping the dragons and I keep on leaving them alone...
Dwarves and native humans have been living in the area for quite some time, since long before Arcadia herself was founded. Dwarves moved to those high mountains 187 years ago when they discovered gold veins, and will likely stay there as long as there is an ounce left to mine. The fishermen have been living by the lake for an unknown duration, as they don't keep any records. From their language I speculate that they have been living there in complete autarchy since the earlier days of the ancient Antalians, before Loark's horde brought the dark age of most of their people. In their secluded valley, the scattered fishermen probably went undiscovered and lost contact with other tribes. According to the Hins of Leeha, at one time they found about the fishermen and their wonderful gunaald and began trading with them. Unfortunately those events, if they ever happened that way, are undated.
The Barony of Arcadia is fairly recent in comparison. I was appointed baronial status in AY 2002 [Editor's Note: AC 1002], and the erection of Tower Arcadia took until AY 2004 [AC 1004] because of its uneasily-accessed location. And yet I got help from the Dwarves - for a hefty price, but that was well worth it. Since Arcadia is so isolated from the rest of Norwold and since I do not levy an army, Arcadia has been unconcerned by the recent wars that have spread throughout the continent. With no taxes or troops coming from Arcadia, I am left pretty to my own devices by King Ericall.
The only exception to this concerns dragonkind. I am in permanent contact with the Kingdom of Dragons in the Wyrmsteeth through Sandryth, a golden dragon. This is part of an agreement between the Council of Dragons and myself upon establishing my barony, which states they would agree to share some of the knowledge they have accumulated over the millennia with me - I hope to one day being allowed into their hidden city - in exchange for my help in having the humans and especially their lords not encroaching upon the draconic lands or slaying non-renegade dragons. Sandryth and I are diplomats of sorts between the two races.
On that matter, there is one event in recent history that I wish to clarify, concerning the dragons' assault on Heldannic Warbirds above Oceansend. King Ericall did ask me to petition the Council for such an action, but I was not surprised when Sandryth answered that the dragons would not get involved into human business and hereby violate an ancient treaty, unless the Heldanners actually attacked them first. However, Ericall was not satisfied with that decision and tried to find some more open-minded dragons - as he didn't need a full commitment from the dragons in the first places, just a handful of them to keep the Warbirds in check. Thus he contacted a young, active red who was upset by the conservatism of the Council and decided to act, sure that the Council Elders would in time back the move.
Two things: If you like good, freshly fished gunaald, try fishing with the natives, and if you like beautiful landscapes, take a look at Tower Arcadia perched high in the mountains during a clear day from either the valley below or from the lake.
The renegade dragons that occasionally venture or make their lair in the vicinity.