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Grand (Arch) County of Nueva Ispañola

by James Mishler

Location: The easternmost isle of the Eastern Thanegioth Archipelago in the Sea of Dread, about 650 miles due south of Alfeisle in the Minrothad Guilds.

Area: 2,240 sq. mi. Population: 33,280, including the capital of Ciudad Florida (2,480) and the towns of Puerto Segundo (1,560) and Puerto Margarita (1,340); Fortaleza Vittoria (Fortress of Victory) accounts for another 1,000 souls. This population figure does not include the several score Thyatian and Minrothian merchants of Puerto Florida, nor the itinerant Nuari pirates or the unknown numbers of Karakara Orcs. Languages: Ispan, plus most town folk speak Thyatian and/or Minrothian; Nuari and Thyatian are spoken in the Nuari Pirate Village. Coinage: Dubloon (gp), Peso (sp), Real (cp); Thyatian and Minrothian coins are accepted at face value, all others are deeply discounted.

Government Type: Ruled by the Conde Grande (Arch, or Sovereign Count) advised by the Baronial Council (which includes the three Barons, the Bishop of Vittoria (Vanya), Gregorio the Wizard and the Dons and Doñas (Lords and Ladies) of the seven largest families of the land.

Industries: The primary industry of the countryside consists of growing foodstuffs for subsistence and growing coffee, tobacco, sugarcane and cocoa for export (note that farmers use giant boars as dray animals instead of horses or oxen, see below). The extremely rich soil of the isle allows for an extra growing season, which enables both surpluses of food as well as significant exports. The rich waters around the island also provide fish and clams that supplement the Ispan diet (and pearls to export). Puerto Florida has also become a favourite victual station for Thyatian and Minrothian merchants and military heading for Davania and other southern ports. The giant lizards raised on the ranches of the Black Hills (see below) are for domestic use only; none have ever been exported off the isle. Some precious metals are found in the Black Hills, but all such are used by the Count to mint new coins.

Description: The Grand County of Nueva Ispañola occupies the northern half of the Isle of Ispañola; the civilised half of the isle is dominated by great plantations owned and run by a small number of aristocratic families. The patrons, as the aristocrats are known keep their peons, or villains, in a state not unlike slavery; though they are treated far better than the slaves of the continent are they are serfs nonetheless. The aristocrats also tend to keep townhouses in the nearest town; the greatest of the families keep townhouses in the capital as well. Most freemen are found in the three towns or along the coast in the small fishing villages, and live peaceful, if unremarkable lives. The ranches in the Black Hills raise the giant lizards that are used as steeds by the aristocrats. The southern regions of the isle are unsettled and covered in dense jungles, and are dominated by either the Karakara Orcs (in the eastern jungles) or by nature spirits (in the western jungles).

Notable Sites: Puerto Florida is the largest town on the island; it is the capital of the county as well as the capital of the local barony. The town is most noted for the citadel of the count, the temple of Protius and the grand marketplace. Puerto Margarita is renown for its beaches and beautiful waters; many aristocrats vacation in this eastern town, consuming large quantities of the native drink, known, of course, as margaritas. Puerto Segundo is a very colourful town, as it is a jumping-off point for adventurers and merchants seeking treasure and adventure in the western islands (though few ever return). The Torre de Gregorio is officially off-limits to anyone not granted license to visit by the count, for the Wizard cherishes his privacy. The Nuari Pirate Village (the name changes with every change in leadership; it is currently known as "Tanokora's Port") is the wildest place on the island, home to several hundred pirates and their families (usually, but not always granted letters of marque by the count). The village is usually half-Nuari; the other residents are a polyglot of all nations and races found on the Sea of Dread. Ancient ruins are said to exist in the centre of the western jungles, but none have ever returned from expeditions into the depths of the jungle. Similar legends state that the Karakara Orcs of the isle are ruled by a giant orc that holds his court at an ancient, ruined temple in the eastern jungles.

History: The prehistory of the Isle of Ispañola is lost in the howling mists of time, for any civilisation that existed here prior to the arrival of the Karakara Orcs was utterly decimated in their wrath. The Karakara are known to have inhabited the isle before the mid-ninth century, when Minrothian merchants accidentally discovered the island. The Minrothians were merchants, not really explorers, and though there was certainly wealth to be had in the isles, they were more interested with finding civilised trading partners, and did not follow up on their discovery. However, in 860 AC an Ispan explorer, one Don Sancho Estaban de la Villa Florida, of the Grand Duchy of Ispañola, followed up on the Minrothian reports, and extensively explored the easternmost isle, which he named Nueva Ispañola in honour of his homeland. Don Sancho followed up his initial expedition with further exploration, both of the Isle of Ispañola and the other Thanegian isles. Eventually, a small settlement of a few hundred souls grew upon the northern shore of Ispañola, and became a revictualling station for explorers of the region.

These expeditions all occurred during the era known as the "Years of Unrest", a time when the Thyatian Empire was battling rebels throughout their lands, especially in the Grand Duchy of Ispañola. Eventually Thyatian oppression became so great that many Ispan families decided to flee from their home and seek their fortunes elsewhere; they turned to their great explorers for advice, foremost among them Don Sancho. Eventually eight score and eight ships left the grand Duchy under the leadership of Don Sancho; slightly more than 6,000 souls and all their treasures, animals and goods set sail for Nueva Ispañola in 975 AC. 112 ships made the passage and arrived at Puerto Florida one month later. Don Sancho was declared by all the leading families to be the savoir of their people, and in the waters at Florida Beach he was declared to be their sovereign and leader, and thus he became Conde Sancho I Esteban de Nueva Ispañola.

The first decade was very difficult for the settlers, as they continually fought against the Karakara Orcs as they cleared the jungles and built their plantations. The settlement was made even more difficult when it was discovered that horses and oxen did not long survive settlement upon the isle; some native disease killed all such beasts of burden within two years. However, the Ispans were able to domesticate the giant boars the Karakara used as steeds. These beasts were used both for plantation labour as well as for riding until the discovery of the giant lizards of the Black Hills (a beast related to the giant tuatara lizard, only far less vicious and more easily trained). The colonists also made contact with the native Merfolk and formed an alliance with the Kingdom of Twaelar that lasts to this day. By 900 AC the colony was well established and had domesticated both the giant boar and the giant lizard. Puerto Segundo was founded in 910, and Puerto Margarita in 915; the Western and Eastern Baronies were formally organised in 940, with the leaders of the greatest of the local aristocratic families becoming barons. [Baronía Ispaña is held by the Count, though it is usually granted into the hands of the Count's heir when he (or she) reaches 21 years of age.] Trade with Minrothad picked up in the 950's, which helped spur the growth of the plantations further into the jungles until the current border was reached in the 970's.

The only real threat to the sovereignty of Nueva Ispañola came in 988 AC, when Emperor Thincol of Thyatis began his settlement program in Davania; initially he felt it would be simpler to conquer Nueva Ispañola than to deal with the proud Ispans. However his magist Demetrion (correctly) felt that the Twaelar would not look kindly upon any such invasion, and successfully dissuaded the Emperor from any such action (similar discussions with the Minrothian ambassador also affected his decision). Today there are Thyatian, Minrothian and Twaelar consulates in Puerto Florida, while the current count, Conde Grande Enrico II Sancho de Nueva Ispañola, mulls over offers of official Imperial Thyatian status (as an Archduke) versus further exploration and conquest in the Thanegioth Archipelago.

Important Figures: Conde Grande Enrico II Sancho de Nueva Ispañola (widower); Baroña Isabella Enrico de Ispaña (daughter, eldest child and heir of Count Enrico); Don Sancho Enrico de Puerto Florida (Lord of Puerto Florida, Isabella's younger brother); Doña Marcela Vittoria de Fortaleza Vittoria (Bishop of Vittoria (Vanya), Governor of the Fortress of Victory, and rumoured mistress of the Conde Grande); Baron Xavier Gaspar de Occidental (Baron of the West); Baron Diego Yago de Oriental (Baron of the East); Magister Gregorio, Don del Sur (Court Magist and semi-autonomous Lord of the South); Tanokora Nuar (current "leader" of the Nuari Pirates).

Flora & Fauna: The civilised portion of the isle is well patrolled, thus few non-domesticated creatures will be encountered. However, there are still the rare raids by the giant boar mounted Karakara on the verge of the eastern jungles; there is also the rare sea raid by the various Thanegian natives from the west. Domesticated beasts include the giant boar (nearly as large as an ox, though as docile as one) and the giant lizard (slightly longer than a horse, though somewhat lower to the ground). Chickens, pigs and dogs abound; though cats are rare outside the cities. A few mountain lions are still found in the Black Hills, though the hills are otherwise as tame as the farmlands.

The jungles are another matter altogether. Faerie creatures, including pixies, sprites and treants, dominate the western jungle; they are inimical to any human intrusions, though they tend not to be vicious. The residents of the eastern jungles, however, are a thoroughly vile and despicable breed; the Karakara Orcs of Nueva Ispañola are cannibals (eating the flesh of their own as well as of humans and other sentients). The Karakara Orcs ride giant war boars and keep domesticated normal boars. The jungles are otherwise home only to natural beasts, such as panthers, snakes, lizards (normal and giant) and spiders (normal and giant), as well as no small number of deadly plants. There are no dragons on the isle, though sea serpents are said to swim in the great southern bay. Note that there are no horses or cattle on the island, as all such creatures invariably die after more than one year on the island (short term exposure of a month or two is not quite as deadly).