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Qeodhar (Kingdom of)
Location: Northern Alphatian Sea, northeast of Norwold and west of the Yannivey Islands. AS
Area: 47,904 sq. mi. (124,071 sq. km.).
Population: 15,000, including Farend (pop. 5,800). Many refugees have fled to Farend due to the continuing hostilities further east, and have yet to be resettled.
Languages: Alphatian (Frisian dialect).
Coinage: Alphatian Standard: crown (gp), mirror (sp), judge (cp).
Taxes: 15% income tax on everyone of servant status or higher and an import tax of 1% (Naycese kingdoms and Karameikos excluded). 10% goes to the imperial treasury. The "king" has been known to levy additional surtaxes on occasion, which are used to support his unusually large fleet.
Government Type: Monarchy, member of Nayce.
Industries: Fishing, trade, raiding, whaling, seal-trapping.
Important Figures: Norlan (King).
Flora and Fauna: Seal herds, boars, giant crabs, dolphins, white dragons, dragon turtles, giant fish, frost giants, mermen, sharks, whales, and wolves (including some of the two-legged variety). Plant life consists of shrubs and bushes (such as juniper), and coniferous trees. Elsewhere, grasses predominate.
Further Reading: M1 Into the Maelstrom, Dawn of the Emperors boxed set, previous almanacs.
Last Year's Events: See below.
Description by Allstrick, map by Geoff Gander.
Yanifey and disreputable types that were unwelcome on Alphatia proper settled this cold, barren island. Despite several attempts to achieve respectability, King Norlan is more known for continuing these traditions than for stamping them out. An island of rugged seamen, the people of Qeodhar are known for their whaling and sealing, but also for less respectable occupations. Farend, the capital, is known for shipyards that build stout vessels, well able to survive the severe weather of this area. The people themselves are largely of typical northern stock, taciturn and suspicious. They were long a thorn in the side of the empress, and Norlan, despite his protestations of loyalty, has caused the Naycese Council no end of trouble.
If there was ever a place some vengeful Immortal would allot to those people He or She disliked, Qeodhar would be a likely candidate. This remote island lies north of what was once the continent of Alphatia, surrounded by the cold currents of the northern seas. The skies are always filled with leaden clouds, and cool winds blow south from the mountains running along the northern coast. Thus, Qeodhar is a cool and damp place.
Towards the north, the land is mountainous, with one range, the Qeodim Mountains, stretching from west to east along the northern coast. On its northern side are numerous fjords, while towards the south the mountains give way to lightly forested hills, which flatten into plains towards the sea. In the lowlands, there are scattered forests, especially towards the interior and central portions of the southern coast, but otherwise Qeodhar Island is primarily steppes, dotted with hardy grasses and the occasional hill, broken here and there by rivers winding their way from mountains to sea. Were this island a few hundred miles further south, it would truly have been a pleasant place.
The other islands which comprise this kingdom-Icehop Island and Whaler's Island-are not nearly so hospitable. Whaler's Island is in many ways little more than a jagged rock thrusting upwards from the sea floor; the coasts are rugged, the interior extremely hilly verging on mountainous. A handful of isolated valleys can be found along the coasts, however, in which whalers shelter during their hunts. During the height of summer, large camps are set up in these valleys, and the inhabitants manage to sustain themselves by fishing in nearby streams, and gathering the hardy blueberries that grow on stunted shrubs. Icehop Island, which lies just east of Qeodhar Island, is a barren place, populated by whalers when the season is right, and left to the elements otherwise. Only the southern portion of the island has any vegetation to speak of; the northern half of the island is bleak, windswept plains, covered with only those grasses that can survive in such a harsh climate.
For many years, the people of Qeodhar were viewed in much the same way as one views Northmen in general: rustic, quick-tempered, warlike, and tough. Even King Norlan, who titled himself kjavik (meaning "war leader") played upon this perception, styling himself a fighter of incredible skill and strength. It seems, however, that the Qeodharans are more complicated than one would normally assume-though on second thought this would not be overly difficult, given what sort of people they are.
It seems that there are in fact two peoples living in Qeodhar: those common Alphatians and mixed-blooded folk who populate most of the towns and villages of the island, and the fair-haired people-apparently of Northman stock - who eke out an existence in the northern and eastern reaches, and who now have their own blighted nation, the "Jarldoms" of Ystmarhavn. While there has been some interbreeding between the two peoples over the centuries, such that Qeodharans of all types tend to be fairer in complexion than the peoples of other Nayce kingdoms, the Northmen, who claim to be the original inhabitants of the island, are shunned by many, and so retain some distinctive features. The northerners are slightly taller on average, and blond hair is very common among them, as are blue or grey eyes. Most of the men are bearded, while the women leave their hair long and unbound. Truly, I think these folk would be more at home in the Northern Reaches.
I have said that the Northmen are shunned, and that is true. Seldom were such people found in prominent positions in Qeodharan society; often they lived as fishermen, whalers, simple subsistence farmers, and sometimes miners. It appears that the bulk of the prestigious trades have been controlled by those of Alphatian stock, and the guilds (such that they are in Qeodhar) did not count many Northmen among their members. It is not that difficult to see that there is little love lost between the two groups. This antagonism played itself out recently, as most readers will no doubt be aware. Few, if any, Northmen remain in Qeodhar now; those barbarians have sensibly removed themselves to their new realm. Many Qeodharans hope they will never return.
Regardless of which group one meets, both are, by most Naycese standards, rather coarse people. Among them, you will find enjoyment of music, ale, and hearty food. It seems, though, that the northerners have a special affection for the land, more so than other Qeodharans.
As I mentioned above, Qeodhar has long been home to the rough-cut northerners who now make the place their home; it was only in recent centuries that the island had formally become a part of the Alphatian Empire. The history of the island before that time is unremarkable, though to be honest little is known for certain, as the people did not keep written records of their early history, preserving their lore orally. Of more importance, and interest, will no doubt be the antics of King Norlan.
Readers will, I am sure, remember his ill-conceived plan to involve himself in the affairs of Norwold. Needless to say, those plans backfired, costing Norlan many of his best soldiers, and forcing him to retreat to Qeodhar in disgrace. Even so, his troubles did not end, for large numbers of the indigenous fair-haired Northmen began to protest what they saw as years of discrimination and oppression-no doubt the king's loss of power and prestige strengthened their resolve. Norlan put down open rebellion with force and purportedly encouraged the authorities to expel the "Ystmarhavners" (as the Northmen call themselves) from their homes, forcing them to live in the far north and east of the island. One need not be a seer to figure out that the Ystmarhavners would not take this lightly, and so, for more than a year, civil war bloodied the fields of eastern Qeodhar. For a time, it seemed that Norlan would prevail, for he had the backing of a number of Naycese kingdoms-which contributed an expeditionary force. These troops, it seems, were even worse than Norlan's own men, and they soon returned to more civilised Naycese lands, once the fighting became overly vicious. Of course, the aid of a couple hundred Ostlander reavers may have had something to do with it.
Towards the spring of AY 2018 [AC 1018. Ed.], what had once been a potentially sweeping victory for Norlan had turned into a series of disasters. His armies had become demoralised by several devastating setbacks, and his subjects wearied of the prolonged state of civil strife. With the utter destruction of the strategic town of Almisford, the heartland of Qeodhar lay open to the Northmen, and the simmerings of popular revolt spread like wildfire. In a bid to retain his throne, Norlan made peace with the Northmen, which resulted in the creation-some historians say resurrection-of Ystmarhavn. Since that time, an uneasy, armed peace has been kept on the island.
Should you find yourself on Qeodhar Island, the one place you should not miss is Farend, which is, without a doubt, one of the most remote settlements I have ever encountered. Here, you will see how people survive on the very edge of civilisation. Farend may not compare with the more illustrious cities of the south, but considering what would otherwise be available on the island, spending the night in a rustic town inn is not that bad. At least you will have decent stone walls to protect you from the hostilities, and decent ale should that be your pleasure.
Unless you plan to have an armed escort, or are part of one yourself, do not venture too close to the wall that now divides Qeodhar from Ystmarhavn. The eastern regions of Qeodhar are also rife with banditry in many areas, and it is said that the odd Northman raider still manages to sneak into the kingdom and wreak havoc. Whether or not this is true, you would be well advised-unless you fancy getting your skull split by a Northman's axe, or impaled by a stray arrow-to conduct your business in Farend, and then leave as soon as possible.