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Location: Continent of Brun, Walrus Island, about 200 miles east and slightly north of Oceansend. NW
Area: Approximately 7,000 sq. mi. (18,130 sq. km.); there has been no official mapping of the island or county as of yet.
Languages: Alphatian, Heldannic, Thyatian.
Coinage: Alphatian Standard: crown (gp), mirror (sp), judge (cp); other currencies can be found as well.
Taxes: 15% income tax.
Government Type: County.
Industries: Fishing and logging.
Important Figures: Martigan Ersenbal (Count, currently missing), Bethany Ersenbal (Countess), Lord Gerwen (Mayor and Seneschal), Laurida Tremlaine (Captain).
Flora and Fauna: Standard for its northern climate. The county is also home to a large population of walrus, from which the island takes its name.
Further Reading: CM1 Test of the Warlords, previous almanacs.
Description by Synthala of Aasla.
Ersenbal is one of the many lesser dominions that once dotted the landscape of Norwold. Unlike many of them, it has survived the unrest of the land over the past decades, and as such is one of the few dominions where most people are worry free and not concerned about invasion or war.
Walrus Island is a lovely, untamed island located not too far from the City of the Sea [Oceansend. Ed.]. Except for the three small villages of Ersenbal, Gerwen and Lerian, the land is mostly uninhabited. This makes it similar to The Recluse of our wonderful lord Zirchev [an entire Outer Plane in D&D, and a realm on the layer of Krigala in the Beastlands in AD&D (see TSR11361 Warriors of Heaven). Ed.].
The island was first noted by colonists as a haven for walrus, a blessed animal that spends as much time in water as on land. These animals reside on the eastern shore of the island, far away from all three villages. Still, hunters find them regularly, and because of a current hefty price for their parts as spell components, I fear that the population of walrus might soon go on the decline if no one starts watching over these poor children of Zirchev.
Most city-folk find the land rather plain. The island is covered with pine forests, and is rather flat. Although flat, it is still several feet above sea level, giving the place a rocky shore all around. The only safe harbour is in a small bay on the east side, and that is where the small village of Ersenbal is located.
Ersenbal is the largest town here, with a population of 3,000. The inhabitants make their living by fishing in the sea and occasionally trading with the City of the Sea. Lerian has a population of 1,000 and is located on the southern tip of the island. Gerwen has only 500 inhabitants. Both of these towns are run by loggers. They bring their goods to Ersenbal by the two rivers that both end in the Ersenbal Bay, and from there it is shipped to the rest of Norwold. It's not the most profitable employment, but it's enough for the locals to survive with the money made. Still, several of the inhabitants have started to hunt walrus, especially since wizards are now looking at alternate sources of spell components ever since Alphatia sank beneath the sea.
In general, most of the island locals are polite and welcome strangers eagerly in exchange for courtesy and the occasional stories about your travels. Most will mind their own business, and rarely will anyone try to interfere with your plans. They are content to simply do their work and not get involved in politics and "important" things.
However, in the town of Ersenbal, over half of the inhabitants were soldiers from the war against Thyatis several years ago. General Martigan, a hero of the war, managed to lead an entire army back to the safety of his county once Alphatia sank. These former soldiers make Ersenbal feel more like a city than the small village it really is. They're more boisterous, loud, eager to brawl and prefer gold to the simple life when compared to the other inhabitants. Still, as long as you don't mention that you hail from Thyatis or the City of Knights [the Heldannic town of Forton. Ed.], they won't make you feel unwelcome in their town.
The Barony of Ersenbal was founded when King Ericall was granting titles of nobility to any warrior who would swear fealty to him. Martigan of Thyatis, a former slave gladiator, was the one who obtained a small barony on this island back in AY 1993 [AC 993. Ed.]. He found a few local inhabitants in the village of Ersenbal. Instead of renaming the village like most of the new petty nobles did throughout Norwold, Martigan took on the name Ersenbal as his own family name since, as a former slave, he never had one of his own.
However, Martigan wasn't an excellent ruler. He simply let his people be, and only intervened when truly necessary. After all, according to his logic, the locals survived before he got there, so they could still survive now without him. Luckily, his adventuring days gave him a sizeable fortune from which he paid for the construction of Castle Martigan just outside of the village. Also, since he left them pretty much to themselves, Martigan never tried to have the land developed either. It seems he was wise enough to leave it as a pristine wilderness-may Zirchev bless him.
Through favours and missions performed for King Ericall, Ersenbal was increased into a county in AY 1997 [AC 997. Ed.]. The king also extended his land to include all of Walrus Island. Martigan then elevated two noble families, the Gerwens and Lerians, and placed them in charge of the north and south ends of the island. Typical of city dwellers who crave importance, these two named the villages in their area after themselves.
Still, Martigan craved adventure and often left his barony, leaving either Lord Gerwen or Lord Lerian in charge during his absences. In fact, he was gone from AY 2004 to AY 2009 [AC 1004-1009. Ed.] when he decided to join the Alphatian war effort to destroy Thyatis [the fact that Glantri was Alphatia's real target was of secondary consequence to the former Thyatian slave. Synthala.]. Martigan was therefore outside of Norwold when King Ericall's nation fell apart to civil unrest and massive claims of independence.
Yet having Count Martigan go to war gave Ersenbal County a distinct advantage. First, he became a renowned Alphatian general responsible for the capture of Castle Redstone and the Duchy of Westrourke on the Isle of Dawn. Second, he came back with a wife, a certain Bethany of Aasla [who rumours have is a trained spy working for the Empress of Alphatia herself. Synthala.]. Third, when he came back in early AY 2010 [AC 1010. Ed.], he brought over 2,000 trained veterans who were fleeing from Thyatis because the Alphatian mainland sank.
At first, having as many soldiers as locals caused a lot of tension in the village of Ersenbal. But when the Heldannic Knights started invading Norwold, these troops kept the knights at bay. To this day, the Heldannic Knights have been unable to land on Walrus Island because of the sheer number of veterans present.
Martigan and his wife have disappeared again in AY 2013 [AC 1013. Ed.] and no word has been heard of them since. Lord Gerwen, who has taken over the county in his absence, believes he is off adventuring again. Rumours claim that the famous warrior is off exploring the outer planes, and many doubt he will return this time since it has already been 3 years. Because of this, Captain Laurida Tremlaine has been slowly trying to get more power for herself and her men. She was willing to follow the famous General Martigan, but shows obvious disdain for Lord Gerwen. Still, she is loyal and doesn't seem to be interested in a takeover or rebellion.
There's not much to see in Ersenbal. It's a small, underdeveloped county with simple fishermen and loggers. For those like me who enjoy the wilderness, Ersenbal is a nice place with plenty of pines and the fresh sea air.
As a final note, if there are any druids reading this almanac, I encourage you to send a member of your order to claim the eastern coast of Walrus Island as your land. Someone needs to protect the walrus located there. I have done my part, but I must move on to other areas.
Being a small and rather peaceful island, there are also not many dangerous places to avoid here. The only thing to avoid at all costs are Ersenbal's rocky shores, especially if you are an untrained sailor. I have seen wreckages testifying the doom of many ill-fated voyages scattered here and there on the western shores of the isle, so you'd better watch out for safe waters before you approach Ersenbal. Also, the fact that no lighthouse has ever been built doesn't help the sailors at all.