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Karameikos 901-969 AC "The Hidden Years"

by Paleologos

I recently reread Aaron Allston's Gaz 1 "The Grand Duchy of Karameikos" from cover to cover, and was reminded just what a truly fantastic work it is.

One thing that's always bothered me, however, is that Duke Stephan Karameikos III was originally apparently intended to be the third Duke Stephan of Karameikos. Zeb Cook (in that gem of a mini-adventure "The Treasure of the Hideous One", published back in 1984) explicitly states:

The expedition was undertaken 100 years ago by Colonel Rosentos...Duke Stefan the Hermit ordered Rosentos and his troop to explore and claim the lands to the west. At that time, the duke's lands were very new.

As we know, even Allston describes the duke as Stephan Karameikos the Third. He gives 900 as the date of the Thyatian conquest by Gabronius IV, 948 as the year Stephan III was born, and 970 as the year Stephan took control.

So, my question is, why wouldn't Duke Stephan Karameikos have been referred to as Duke Stephan Karameikos I? And why was he so interested in Traladara, anyway (apart from the proximity to Machetos and the canon reasons, of course).

Some insights might be gained from the Karameikos family tree depicted in K:KoA, but it raises more questions than it answers. Why would a Thyatian duke have a Traladaran name (Boris)? What families did Stephan I and Stephan II marry into?

Genealogical data from the Duchy of Machetos is non-existent, but perhaps research from the Corrigan family archives can finally shed some light on the lands of Traladara between 901-969 AC, referred to here as "the Hidden Years" (and humbly presented for comments and feedback from wiser sages than I):

Duke Stephan Karameikos I "the Hermit"

It turns out that the military governer who named Specularum was none other than one Stefanos Machetos, scion to the small but wealthy Duchy of Machetos. At the time of the conquest, the Thyatian quarter of Marilinev was named Karameis, and Stefanos thus renamed the lands of Traladara west of Specularum "Karameikos". Imperial records confirm that he was invested as Duke Stephan I of Karameikos within a year of the conquest (901 AC).

The Dymrak forest east of the river Highreach was almost entirely held by humanoids at the time, while the lands to the north were perceived as the domain of the elves. The new Duke sent Colonel Rosentos westwards to explore the lands west of Luln, but only a single soldier returned. This soldier (Captain Fondalus) related his account of the doomed mission to Tharakemios the scribe.

Stephan I was able to consolidate his power over the region by marrying into the powerful Traladaran Koriszegy family. Unfortunately, at this point the record becomes obscure. His wife gave birth to three children. The two eldest were girls, (whose names were not recorded) but the third was a son. Duke Stephan I disappeared into the wilderness prior to the birth of his son, earning him the title of Duke Stephan "the Hermit".

The Koriszegy Regency and Duke Boris Karameikos

His wife named their son Boris, and ruled the duchy as regent until his coming of age. Boris grew into an ambitious young man, and secured ties with Thyatis by marrying Amelia von Hendriks of Hattias. He had two sons, naming them Stephan and Victor. Stephan was destined to become Duke after his father, but fate had other plans for Victor...

Duke Stephan Karameikos II "Elvenfriend"

The young Stephan, born in Traladara of mixed Thyatian and Traladaran parentage, ultimately became Duke Stephan Karameikos II after the death of his father. His lands entered a period of relative prosperity and stability. It was Duke Stephan II who won the friendship of the Calarii elves of the forested northern interior.

The elves pledged fealty to Duke Stephan II for some great act he performed for them in his adventuring youth (the record is unclear as to what). The young heir's trademark was a tattered cloak he wore to disguise his noble status, (the possible origin of the shearing ceremony).

Meanwhile, Victor joined the Thyatian military and quickly ascended the ranks. When a succession crisis erupted in the Duchy of Machetos, young Victor Karameikos was approached by loyalist factions as the true heir of Machetos. In this way, Victor Karameikos ultimately became Duke Victor Karameikos I of Machetos.

Victor married a Korrigan and had a son, whom he named Stephan, after his brother. Tragically, young Stephan Karameikos lost his mother at the age of 9.

The Karameikan Interregnum

In the year 959 AC, the Alphatians launched an all-out attack on the Isle of Dawn, triggering rebellion and insurrection across the territories of the Empire of Thyatis.

In Karameikos itself, Duke Stephan II's rein ended in tragedy within the next year when he was killed attempting to quell a Traladaran insurrection led by Valar Marilenev. Bickering among the Traladaran families tore the country apart, with factions led by various warlords claiming descent through one or the other of Duke Stephan II's two aunts. With the empire in crisis, the political structure of the Duchy unraveled and the land was divided among the various Traladaran petty "kings".

Back in Thyatis, Stephan Karameikos found himself in the new emperor's inner circle. He became Duke Stephan I of Machetos upon his father's untimely death in 968. Within two years, however, he traded his father's ancestral lands for the Emperor's support in the reconquest of Traladara (and autonomy thereafter).

The young Duke Stephan sailed into Specularum and ostentatiously proclaimed himself Duke Stephan III of Karameikos. He had the support of the Calarii elves, in honour of the bond forged years ago by his uncle Stephan. Valar Marilenev led the subsequent Traladaran uprising and was killed, (and Stephan's uncle was avenged).

The rest is history.