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CHITINE (Grand Duchy of)
Location: Continent of Brun, northwest of Leeha. NW
Area: 4,988 sq. mi. (12,920 sq. km.).
Languages: Alphatian, Heldannic.
Coinage: Alphatian Standard: crown (gp), mirror (sp), judge (cp).
Taxes: 25% of yearly income.
Government Type: Grand duchy, member of the Kingdom of Alpha, member of the Norwold Confederacy.
Industries: Military, agriculture, mining.
Important Figures: Ney (Archduke, furmy, male, F17).
Furmies are bipedal, humanoid equivalent of normal ants. They normally live together in "anthills," called colonies. Furmies are asexual; the queen only lays eggs that are hatched into mature furmies according to the colony's needs (the eggs need one year before they can be hatched, but can then be stored indefinitely). The first eggs laid (generally between a couple and a half-dozen) are queen eggs, while all other eggs are normal furmies.
A furmy's eyes are multi-faceted like those of a fly, granting it 60' infravision and a 360° vision. Its chitinous carapace grants it a natural AC of 4, while its four upper limbs allows it to wield a wide variety of weapons and shields (most warrior furmies are ambidextrous and can use a great variety of tactics with perfect dexterity). Furmies are resistant to spells and poison (+1 to saves), and have a 90% resistance to charms. Furmies can communicate empathically with each other when within 60', or telepathically when in contact through their antennae. A furmy can double its movement rate by running on its six limbs.
Furmies have a tremendous sense of loyalty toward their queen and their colony, for which they will typically sacrifice their lives. This does not mean that furmies have no personality and are mechanical, instinct-driven creatures like ants; quite the contrary, just that their values would appear alien to most sentient creatures. Most furmies are of Loyal alignment, and in fact eggs are normally screed for chaotic tendencies before hatching-and eggs that would bear potentially unstable individuals are destroyed mercilessly. Each furmy is born with its future decided for it in advance; the colony provides it with all it needs, including training for its position in the society. Most furmies are simple workers (farmer, craftsman, etc.), some are warriors, while some are bred for wizardry or priesthood or other important positions; thus, furmies of all classes and levels can be encountered. A furmy's life span is about 100 years; queens generally live about 500 years.
All furmies have an instinctive fear of water, and will avoid crossing seas and oceans, or even smaller bodies if water-there is no known furmy sailors. They also fear fire. Because of their strange appearance and behaviour, furmies will generally have a hard time meshing with other races-but that is something they rarely do anyway. Due to their physiology, they cannot speak the humanoid languages without a very strong accent (generally described as chopped and clicking, but the differences are actually more fundamental). Because of their nature, furmies have a hard time grasping various concepts like money, property, poverty, trade, fame, sex, love, family, lie, treachery, treason, often causing them to make major blunders (more often than not at their own expense, but they rarely even realise it).
Furmies are not native to Mystara, but from another world where insect-like creatures are the dominant form of sentient life. One colony accidentally came to Mystara long ago, and though it is very rare, some of its members can sometimes be encountered. The exact location of the Mystaran colony is a secret no furmy will reveal to any non-furmy. The furmies worship the Immortal Furmy, allegedly the only furmy to have ever reached immortality, and the founder of their society as an orderly one. Though not native to Mystara and mostly uninvolved in its politics, Furmy grants spells to Its Mystaran priests.
Flora and Fauna: The plains are lightly covered by evergreen trees, mostly pine, which become even rarer in the hilly and mountainous regions to the west of the duchy. As the duchy rises into the Icereach Range, trees are slowly replaced by shrubs, then hardy mosses until the altitude becomes too great for any plants to survive. Horses are bred for the knightly order; mountain goats, mountain lions and snow apes inhabit the Icereach Range. Frost giants or white dragons living in caves in the mountains beyond the border of the duchy occasionally attack despite their being regularly driven away by the duke's knights.
Coats of arms: Duke Ney: A six-branch black star (centre) surrounded by four silver-red swords pointing to the corners, background green (upper quadrant), blue (bottom quadrant), yellow (left quadrant) and white (right quadrant); Duchy of Chitine: Two red diagonal lines, silhouette of a white sphinx (top quadrant), background green (top quadrant), blue (bottom quadrant), yellow (left quadrant) and white (right quadrant); City of Furmy: A six-branch black star (centre), two red circles (top left and top right sextants), background green (upper sextant), blue (bottom sextant), yellow (bottom left sextant), white (bottom right sextant) and black (top left and top right sextants); Knights of Chitine: A black shield (centre) behind a white circle, four red swords pointing from the corners to the circle, black background. The duke may also carry Alpha's banner when leading the armies of the king into battle as Ericall's general.
Further Reading: CM1 Test of the Warlords, previous almanacs.
Description by Adik de Chevas and Arcadius.
Along with the County of Draken that controls the access to the Great Bay, the Duchy of Chitine constitutes the backbone of the defence of Alpha. The duke is inflexible in his loyalty to the crown of Alpha-and to that of Alphatia-and has been entrusted by King Ericall with the utmost powers for the safety of the kingdom. The duchy is literally the armour of Alpha [chitin is the material that constitutes the ants'-and furmies'-hard protective exoskeleton. Adik.].
The Duchy of Chitine is a rather large dominion backed by the Icereach Range to the west and the dense evergreen forest to the north. It is composed mainly of hills and mountains to the west, while rolling plains and light woods cover the eastern half of the domain.
The forest to the north is inhabited by Shiye elves, while lands to the east of the duchy are mostly uninhabited and remain neutral land between the domains of the hin and this dominion loyal to Alpha. A broad stretch of land to the south is the result of a mutual pact of non-belligerency between the Duchy of Chitine and the Kingdom of Siegeria.
It is the duty of the Knights of Chitine to patrol not only the duchy, but also the neutral lands beyond to ensure the safety of southern territories. They keep a watch over the White Bear River to make sure no threat bypasses them through this natural passage through the Icereach Range. They also patrol the buffer zones up to Siegeria's borders and up to Cape Westria in Panteria. They do not patrol the northern forest, instead relying on the elves living there to warn them of any frost giant raid or other threat. Unless the Great Bay is frozen enough to let an army cross it, no enemy should be able to reach Leeha or lands beyond without facing the knights before.
The population of the duchy is composed mainly of Alphatians and Heldanners; a few native Heldann nomads also occasionally temporarily set their tents within the borders of the duchy.
The majority of the population is made up of commoners, mainly peasants, loggers, shepherds, craftsmen, and miners exploiting the platinum veins in the Icereach Range, happy to be safe in the well protected duchy. The elite of the dominion, however, are the famous Knights of Chitine.
This order is the only one such in all of Norwold; its members come from all parts of Norwold, and sometimes even from Heldann itself [likely natives who do not worship Vanya. Arcadius.]. The Knights of Chitine are sworn to protect the crown of Alpha; it is their utmost concern, and they would without a doubt take orders from the King of Alpha before those of the Duke of Chitine himself. They value honour, courage, justice, and faith, the four components of righteousness [as symbolised by their coat of arms. Arcadius.]; their motto is "To the last breath I stand." The Knights of Chitine are highly regarded throughout Norwold, even in dominions that are not loyal to King Ericall-except those that are openly hostile, obviously-, and are treated as nobility. They can go anywhere without being questioned or stopped, crossing borders as they go, ask for food and lodging at any noble's castle, carry weapons, and administer justice, though some petty lords sometimes resent such infringement. They can also issue a call to arms in any allied territory and assume leadership of the army. Each knight is assigned a squire which tends his master's war-horse, weapons and armour; in return, the knight trains the squire to become a knight, teaching him his duties as a future Knight of Chitine, showing him the path to righteousness, and training him in the use of the lance, the crossbow, and various swords. The Knights of Chitine can generally be found patrolling around the duchy, training at Furmy Castle, attending King Ericall in Alpha, or anywhere in Norwold where their duties as protectors of the crown lead them.
There is always a group of Knights of Chitine accompanying Blind Wooster (a monk of Tarastia) to make sure his judgments are respected and his sentences carried out. The monk still acts as high magistrate for most countries of Norwold, just like he did for all Ericall's subjects in the years before the Great War.
Ney pledged fealty to King Ericall shortly after the land was opened to be divided into dominions. He immediately started the construction of a great defensive castle, but his alien nature [Ney is a furmy, an ant-like humanoid race from some unknown part of Mystara. Adik.] and mentality scared away potential settlers who preferred to colonise other lands, like the adjacent domains of Alak Dool and Sieger. However, many would-be warrior-heroes came to the barony to be taught by the famous fighter.
Soon enough, however, commoners and peasants who were mistreated by Alak Dool's minions began to flock to Ney and Sieger's dominions, crossing the border and asking for the protection of the lord of the domain. The honourable Baron Ney became suspicious of his neighbour's ways, and watched him carefully.
When Alak Dool betrayed the king and Alphatia during the Great War by supporting Thyatis, Glantri, and the Heldannic Knights, Baron Ney and his elite warriors were ready and rode into the traitor's dominion and fought his evil minions. Alak Dool fled and his land fell. When Ney reported to King Ericall what had happened, his liege replied that the baron had greatly helped the crown by eliminating an enemy of Alphatia, and that he had honourably conquered the land and thus would rule it in addition to his own, with the title of count [other lords were either using the war to declare their independence, or even taking up the cause of the enemies of Alphatia, which helps explain why the king was so generous with those lords that stood by him and fought his foes. Adik.]. Alak Dool's tower was razed.
After Alphatia's sinking, even more dominions won their independence. Count Ney remained true to his oath to King Ericall. He transformed his informal warrior-heroes into the first Knights of Chitine, bound to protect the crown of Alpha and be the protective shield of the king. Two years later, King Ericall increased the size of his dominion and honoured him as Duke of Chitine, giving him and his knights the task of patrolling the land from the Great Bay to the Icereach range to stop the advance of any hostile force. The king also gave him the task of watching over Sieger von Duwn, now an independent king; Chitine and Siegeria signed a mutual pact of non-belligerency and agreed that a broad stretch of land between the two dominions would remain neutral.
When the commander of the Alphan forces was executed by the Heldannic Knights after the fall of Oceansend, King Ericall appointed the loyal duke to the position. When Alpha joined the Nayce, Ney was officially recognised as General of Alpha.
In the recent Norwold Wars [AC 1016. Ed.] Ney led his Knights of Chitine to Alpha to protect Ericall from the attacks of the treacherous Black Duke of Ossian and the Qeodharan pirates. Unfortunately, a lone tyrant [Coiger de Mory, a fanatic priest of Rathanos. Arcadius.] living near his dominion profited from the lord's absence to march towards Chitine with a small army of efreet, fire giants and other fire denizens of the nearby Arch of Fire. The ensuing war went really bad for Chitine, claiming many of its bravest warriors, but the advance of de Mory's army [led by an efreet lord named Duke Dahish. Arcadius.] was somehow slowed by the intervention of the sollux of the Arch of Fire on Ney's side. The later addition of troops from Siegeria and Leeha blocked the efreet advance, and at the end of the Norwold Wars lord Ney returned with his remaining Knights of Chitine to throw out the invaders. However, this didn't turn the tables as he hoped, and the war is currently being waged as we write this parchment [beginning of AC 1017. Ed.], with a tense stalemate between the two sides.
Furmy Castle is the heart of the duchy, surrounded by sturdy walls. Around it lies the city of Furmy, where few people actually live because most of the industries take place elsewhere in the dominion [in the platinum mines. Ed.]; less than 2,500 inhabitants, mostly craftsmen, blacksmith and horse trainers, live here. But the most prominent feature of the castle is the presence of the Knights of Chitine, a hundred of them and their squires, who can be seen going about on their duties, performing their daily drills, majestic on their black war-horses and heavy armour. Within the walls of the castle lies a cathedral where the duke and his knights pray to the Immortals they pay homage to-the Immortal Furmy for the duke, Petra, Vanya, Tarastia, Diulanna, Halav, Ixion, Alphatia, Thor or Odin for the knights.
Although Alak Dool's tower was razed shortly after he had been driven out by Ney and his knights, the demonic magics of the evil wizard have not completely dissipated from the land. This threat still remains a matter of great concern to the duke, who isn't too knowledgeable about magic. The exact nature of the magical hazard is not known for sure, but several wise wizards of Norwold [including Adik and Arcadius. Ed.] have formulated the hypothesis that Alak Dool was trying to summon a fiend from the Pits to unleash upon his enemies. The spell was never completed, but various nasty creatures occasionally pop up at random, attracted by the weakening between the planes caused by the partial gate.