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SONNENFELD (Barony of)

Location: Continent of Brun, northeast of Oceansend, on the western shore of the New Alphatian Sea. NW

Area: 499 sq. mi. (1,290 sq. km.).

Population: 1,300.

Languages: Heldannic.

Coinage: Oceansend Standard: heart (gp), blade (sp), wall (cp).

Taxes: 25% income tax, collected yearly.

Government Type: Independent barony.

Industries: Horses, birds of prey, hunting, craft (fletchers & bowyers).

Important Figures: Fergus (Baron).

Flora and Fauna: Sonnenfeld comprises a few bogs along the southern border with the Tranquil Swamp, but for the rest it consists of rolling hills, which are great pastures for the horses tended here. Near the southern and eastern borders with the swamp many birches and willow trees grow, and many flocks of birds also live in Sonnenfeld's territory. This game, the horses and the birds of prey (like hawks and sparrow hawks) raised and trained here are the main resources of the country, since the farmlands to the north produce barely enough food to support the needs of the populace. Wild monsters living in the swamp (like crocodiles, serpents, giant fish and carnivorous plants) prey on the hunters who venture there to catch ducks, hens, coots and such.

Coats of Arms: Baron Fergus: A golden thistle on a field of crimson; Barony of Sonnenfeld: A golden horse's head in profile (facing right) on a green background.

Further Reading: CM1 Test of the Warlords, previous almanacs.

Description by Adik de Chevas and Arcadius.

Owing to our rather busy schedules as almanac correspondents and as prominent persons of Norwold, we originally thought we would not have much time to explore Sonnenfeld to any great extent. Fortunately, as this barony is not overly large, we did not encounter this problem. One of our mutual colleagues back from the old days remarked that a person could probably cross Sonnenfeld riding the back of a giant turtle, and still miss it if they were to blink. Perhaps his joke was in poor taste, but we found this barony to be a worthy visit.

The Land

Sonnenfeld is a barony lying somewhat inland, in the region known as the Tranquil Coast, though this is perhaps a bit of a misnomer, when one considers the political situation of the region. Sonnenfeld is a blessed barony, however, for it is reasonably distant from the constant struggles between Dikhoff and Serenity, it has excellent pastureland for its horses (both in the hills and in the scattered flatlands along the eastern border), and luscious forests to the south and east (comprising what Baron Fergus has named Stratham Woods). The barony is predominantly hilly-particularly in the west-and it gradually flattens out towards the east and the south, although rows of hills dot the land and break the potential monotony of the countryside.

The People

The people of Sonnenfeld are an odd, but generally pleasant lot. Although largely of the same stock as most of the surrounding peoples-that is, fair-haired and light-skinned Heldanners-it is clear that at some time in the past there were influences from other cultures. First, we have the manner in which these people speak. Certainly, it is the same language, but, even after allowing for differences in dialects, some of the words these people use, and the way in which they say them, indicates some added element at some point in their history. Where a fellow a few miles away might be named "Ivar", that person would be called "Ivars" here, for example, though we noted a number of names that were not common at all in neighbouring realms, such as Karelis and Gunts for men, and Dyna and Leima for women. If we did not know better, we could have sworn some of those names were similar to those used in places around Littonia. Also, the people here, as we have said, pronounce things differently, tending to put stress on the first syllables of words. An interesting thing to note, but as neither of us are linguists, those observations must remain as they are.

Despite these minor differences, the Sonnenfelders are hardy country folk like any other, living off of the land where they can (mainly on scattered farms in the northern hills, where they grow rye, potatoes, and onions for the most part), and otherwise making a living by hunting, trapping, raising horses, or practicing a craft. In times of war [frequently, it seems. Adik.], peasant levies are raised, though the true strength of the people lies in their archery skills-not only are they excellent bowyers and fletchers, they can use those weapons well. Any invading army would find little of value here, though a barony full of angry Sonnenfelders skulking in the wilderness at their backs would be waiting for them.

Since the arrival of Baron Fergus before the Great War, the people of Sonnenfeld have also begun raising birds of prey on a large scale. The Sonnenfelders have practiced falconry and related arts for a long time, it seems [mainly to aid in hunting. Adik.], but Fergus's policies of capitalising on the strengths of his people to develop the barony's economy have seen trained hawks and falcons exported to neighbouring dominions, as well as trained Sonnenfelder falconers serving as mercenaries and soldiers.

Recent History

Sonnenfeld was founded before the Great War, by a warrior of Vestland named Fergus, when King Ericall invited people of courage and character to carve out dominions to rule in his name, although the bulk of the populace has lived here for many generations. Before the coming of Baron Fergus, the people here lived their lives pretty much as they chose; the Alphatian authorities based in Alpha had never visited this place, and whatever government authority existed here was derived from the local clan chiefs, some of whom had distant ties to their countrymen living further south, towards Oceansend. This was the way of things for as long as the people living here can remember. Since arriving in Sonnenfeld, Fergus has spent almost all of his waking days thinking about ways of making his barony more productive.

An observant man, Fergus studied the locals, determining where his actions might be resisted strongly, and where he could make his mark. He encouraged his new subjects to focus more on horse-breeding and falconry, as that would provide more revenues to the barony and its people, which could free them from tilling often unproductive soil. He also put down a number of powerful monsters in the Tranquil Swamp, that had been terrorising the southern homesteads. By providing greater security, and by showing them a means of attaining greater prosperity (though it is believed by some that Fergus had connections with the merchants of Oceansend, which gave him better access to markets), Fergus was able to cement his hold on his dominion.

Another policy put into place by Fergus was his limitation on the size of families. Being a northern land with poor soils, Sonnenfeld can only afford to feed a very finite amount of people, he reasoned, and if times were bad, and too many people went hungry, the fires of radicalism could be stoked, and he might lose control over his barony. To head off this potential threat, Fergus ordered that, from the day of his investiture as baron, each family in Sonnenfeld would be allowed only two children at maximum in times of peace, in order to maintain the dominion's population. This would make it easier for families to feed themselves, he reasoned. It is said, though we never saw evidence of this, that Fergus employs a special squad of officers who roam the countryside, ensuring that no family has grown too large. Some say that "excess population growth" is taken away by these officers, to be sold as slaves to other nations. A related policy is that, if the population rises too quickly in times of war, volunteers are encouraged to sell their services as mercenaries to friendly dominions. This not only brings more money into Sonnenfeld (if these men live); if they die, that will mean fewer mouths to feed. Harsh, to be sure, but we must remember that Fergus is a Northman-such sentiments are to be expected.

Were it not for the baron's long-standing grudge against Maximus I (the ruler of Swordcoast), and his alliance with Baron Dimitri Dikhoff against the Baron Siegfried Sixx of Serenity (the latter is believed by Fergus to be in the pay of Thyatis), all would be good for Sonnenfeld. Unfortunately, the simmering conflicts among the barons of the Tranquil Coast may be about to boil over once more, with skirmishes having been witnessed only last year [AC 1017. Ed.].

Don't Miss

Should you ever have the chance to visit Sonnenfeld, we heartily recommend spending some time strolling in the rolling hills in springtime, accompanied by nothing save the gentle breezes wafting from the not-too-distant sea, and the occasional rabbit, mouse, or (if you are lucky) wild horse, as these creatures go about their business in the lush fields of the barony. Truly a relaxing experience!

If mystery interests you, then you should visit the "Old Abbey", which sits on the tallest hill to the north of Baron Fergus's keep, and is in fact within sight of the latter structure. It is named such because, although it has long since fallen into ruin, it is clear that this building was once a place of worship. There is evidence of an herb garden within its tumbled walls (signifying, perhaps, that this was a place of knowledge and healing), and there are several rooms adorned with weathered holy symbols. There are no remnants of battlements here, and the ruins themselves show no sign of violence, so many think this place, if it indeed was an abbey of sorts, likely fell into ruin due to neglect. Who its inhabitants were, and what faith they practiced, are unknown, but nevertheless it is an interesting place to visit.

Do Miss

If "civilised" hospitality is what you seek, you will not find it here. Sonnenfeld is far too sparsely populated to contain any concentration of people larger than a small- to medium-sized village. Instead, you should seek out the keep of Baron Fergus, but be warned, in these uncertain times, he is more likely to question unexpected visitors closely, than to welcome them with open arms. While this could not properly be considered something to avoid, we suggest visitors make friends with the locals instead.

The only other thing that should be avoided is the Tranquil Swamp-at least, one should not venture too deeply within it. All manner of nasty creatures live there, and many would sooner make a meal of the unwary as look at them. It should be noted that some of Fergus's advisers are looking into the prospect of draining the swamp (or at least a large part of it), which may open more land for farming, as the region has milder temperatures than further inland. Such a plan will no doubt take years to come to fruition.