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An Incomplete History of River's Rest: Part II

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The Council of Mages Era
Raaaar!The Commander had died without naming a successor. Since the most likely candidate for the post was under arrest for murdering the Commander, the Council of Mages assumed "temporary" control over the remainder of the Kingdom of Elanith. A new Commander, they said, would be selected after the trial of Millah Pradapt. Millah, however, was never seen again.

The Council of Mages issued a statement claiming that Millah had escaped confinement and fled the territory. Rumors were rampant. Some claimed she had been seen boarding a smuggler's cutter bound for Kai Toka on Kezmon Isle. Others claimed she had fled north into the Sea of Fire where she was thought to have been killed by poisonous spiders. Many of Millah's former companions in arms believed she had been quietly slain in her cell by the Council of Mages...and that the assassination of the Commander had, in fact, also been a plot by the Council directed at her. The Commander, so the rumor went, simply had the ill fortune to be in her tent at the wrong time. The beast sent to kill Millah had killed him instead.

Once in control, the Council of Mages moved quickly to consolidate its power. Dissident troops were either dismissed from service and banished from the lands of Elanith or were arrested, tried, and executed (strangled with a bow string). The Council removed the drawbridge leading to the Citadel fortress, replacing it with a complex contraption designed to delay and restrict entrance into the fortress.

For the next half century the Council of Mages ruled the remnants of the once-powerful kingdom. However, conflicting philosophies, incompatible policy goals, racial animosities and clashes of personality and ego all served to divide the Council into constantly shifting factions. These internal conflicts crippled the Council's ability to act and govern effectively. This situation was exacerbated by the failure of the Council to include representatives of the army. The borders of the kingdom continued to steadily recede before theonslaught of the barbarian and humanoid enemy.

The Council of Mages responded to this growing crisis by relying less and less on military prowess and increasingly on the darker aspects of magic. They attempted to create new life and to create and control undead creatures. In both cases they were partially successful.

The turn to the darker arts also had the effect of frightening and alienating the citizens of River's Rest. The merchants were less and less inclined to provide goods and services for which they were likely never to be paid. The peasantry became increasingly reluctant to provide the manual labor needed to keep the Citadel compound running smoothly. When this proved disruptive the Council sent troops to River's Rest to order their cooperation and to punish the dissidents. The residents of the city, outraged, refused. The Council ordered the troops to kill the troublemakers. Four citizens were beheaded, but the rest remained steadfast in their refusal to cooperate. The troops balked at further killing and against orders returned to the Citadel compound. The following night several members of the city's leading families were killed and mutilated by baleful monsters. The citizens reluctantly began to return to their duties at the Citadel.

The Fall of the Citadel, Last Bastion of the Kingdom of Elanith
Catastrophe might have been averted had the Council of Mages been able to overcome their personal differences, abandon their dark practices, renew their relationship with local townsfolk and regain the respect of the troops. Indeed the strategic situation had actually improved...not due to any actions of the Council but simply through the workings of Time.

Nearly a century had passed since the collapse of the Kannalan Empire. The barbarians who had assisted the humanoids in the invasion of the Empire had almost entirely ceased their border raids against the reduced Kingdom of Elanith. Many barbarians had gradually become settlers with small farms of their own. For the most part the bands of orcs, not having the disposition to engage in prolonged warfare, either sought loot and booty elsewhere or returned to their homelands. This left marauding trolls as the primary adversaries of Elanith. They continued to raid and assault the kingdom with single-minded determination. That the kingdom was unable to contend with the depredations of unaided troll raiders demonstrates the scale of the ineptitude of the Council of Mages.

The problems faced by the Council served to deepen its internal strife. So mistrustful, jealous and resentful of each other were the Council members that Council sessions were rarely fully attended. Those sessions which took place generally dissolved into partisan bickering and little was ever decided or accomplished.

In 4058 M.E. circumstances changed radically. A small flotilla of krolvin pirates appeared in Maelstrom Bay. For once every member of the Council of Mages appeared in session. Characteristically, however, they could not reach a consensus on a course of action. A few wanted to withdraw the entire army from the border regions to protect the Citadel. Some advised reinforcing the heavy battalions with conscripts from the nearby villages and farmsteads. Two Council members suggested approaching the krolvin and negotiating a settlement, perhaps even enlisting them as mercenaries to fight against the trolls.

Unable to reach any consensus the Council of Mages elected to do nothing. The trolls, however, reached their own agreement with the krolvin and the two combined forces. In the late summer of 4058 a combined force of trolls and krolvin launched an assault on the island of River's Rest. The defenders managed to destroy the final bridge leading to the island, but could not prevent the krolvin pirates from ferrying bands of trolls across the river. The town was completely razed and burned to the ground. The few survivors fled to Fairport and Kezmon Isle.

Shortly thereafter the Citadel compound itself was placed under siege. The krolvin pirates, more adept than their trollish allies at traditional forms of warfare, built sturdy siege engines and battered the walls with stones and with magics of their own. Eventually the walls were breached and the krolvin and trolls swarmed into the Citadel compound. Fierce and desperate fighting took place as the invaders assaulted each of the buildings in the compound. The Citadel defenders, however, were overwhelmed and slain. Only one of the compound's buildings remained intact: the Citadel fortress.

The bridge leading to the Citadel fortress worked as planned. None of the invading krolvin or trolls managed to cross the bridge. Nonetheless, they continued to sack the buildings of the compound. The following day a small troop of krolvin pirates solved the puzzle of the bridge and reconnoitered the area. They found the fortress devoid of life. Aside from the corpses of a few guards, the building was empty. Traces of powerful magics were palpable, however, and so after briefly despoiling the building the krolvin and trolls withdrew.

The fate of the members of the Council of Mages remains open to speculation. It seems likely that while the army of the Citadel fought vainly to defend the compound the members of the Council fought amongst themselves. Did they all die? Did some escape and join the refugees heading to Fairport? Did some collaborate with the invaders? These questions remain unanswered.

River's Rest After the Fall
The troll-krolvin alliance disintegrated after the fall of the Citadel compound. The krolvin flotilla sailed away in search of other prey, leaving the island of River's Rest and the surrounding area in the hands of the trolls. Trolls are restless creatures, however, and not well suited to island life. They established their communities on the mainland, forsaking the island of River's Rest.

After some time people began to return to the island. Its new inhabitants were what one would expect to find on an isolated island in a troll-infested region; refugees who had been unable to escape downriver to Fairport, pirates seeking a quiet harbor, criminals and mutineers avoiding the grasp of the law, the insane who had been driven from other communities, religious zealots and idealists, half-breeds unwelcome in civilized society, and adventurers who sought anything of worth the trolls might not have discovered when the razed the once-proud town.

Gradually, a sort of settlement arose. It was nothing more than a ramshackle collection of shanties and shacks with a few waterside saloons built beside makeshift docks. There was no law, no formal organization, no recognized leader. It was merely a collective of outcasts and misfits scrabbling out some meager form of living.

The Kingdom of Torre
In response to the growing power of the Turamzzyrian Empire many warlords and minor potentates in the territory surrounding Maelstrom Bay agreed to enter into a coalition of some sort. In 4238 M.E. the Council of Fairport was held to determine the nature of that coalition. After much debate and argument a loose confederation was eventually formed. The confederation was governed by the Circle of Regents, which was composed of the seven most powerful local leaders.

The confederation proved to be unmanageable. However, it provided a political and economic environment that allowed one of the Circle of Regents to establish dominance over the others. Gardiel of Torre, ruler of the area around Fairport, used a combination of charm, manipulation, threats and economic inducements to become the most powerful of the Regents. In 4240 he was formally requested by the Regents to declare himself king. He accepted and the Kingdom of Torre was established.

Among Gardiel's first royal acts was to claim sovereignty over all the lands surrounding Maelstrom Bay. This included the island of River's Rest as well as a great deal of territory inhabited by a significant population of trolls. The councilors of the newly-crowned King of Torre advised him it was necessary to make an overt claim even though the territory may not actually be under their control. It was critical to establish a chain of documentation which would support any future claims against the territory. Trollish territorial claims, of course, could be ignored.

To bolster his claim Gardiel sent out a Royal Survey and Census party to certify the borders of his new kingdom. Despite the grand title, the Royal Survey and Census was primarily a military force. King Gardiel was at least as interested in demonstrating his authority to his new subjects as he was in marking the borders of his new kingdom. The military presence was also necessary to protect the surveyors and census-takers from the inconvenient troll population.

Among the locations surveyed was the island of River's Rest. Nearly two centuries had passed since the fall of the Citadel and the razing of the town. The survey party could find little evidence of the once-magnificent city. The census-takers discovered only a collection of shacks and huts inhabited by a small population of ne'er-do-wells and social outcasts. However, a small number of well-maintained docks were noted. Curiously, no sea craft were tied up to them.

The report of the first Royal Survey and Census indicated there was nothing worthy of royal interest in River's Rest. Many years would pass before a second survey and census was conducted.

River's Rest and the Grand Era of Piracy
Although pirates always have and always will exist, the grand era of piracy is considered to have taken place between around 4275 M.E. to 4325 M.E. The names Bloody Malovor, DeGaspard, Ketain of the Scars, and Oteska the Corsair have become legendary.

It is not surprising that such infamous seafaring outlaws, as well as many lesser known pirates, made use of the coves, marshes and estuaries in and around the island of River's Rest. The island, after all, had been repopulated in part by pirates (and other criminals and social outcasts). The new inhabitants of the island were notorious for their disregard for the law and their willingness to engage in or cover up shady activities.

The pirate most closely associated with River's Rest was Ketain of the Scars. Thought to have once been a galley slave (which would account for the scars said to crisscross his back) Ketain seemed to take perverse glee in his piracy. After capturing a ship transporting a shipment of brandy from Idolone to Kai Toka, Ketain insulted all Idolonians by claiming the liquor wasn't fit to drink. He used the brandy to set the merchant ship ablaze and announced the people of Kai Toka ought to consider him a hero for rescuing them from such swill. In 4288 M.E., only weeks after the cities of Waterford and Lolle unified to establish the Kingdom of Hendor, Ketain moored his flagship in a cove near River's Rest and led a flotilla of small river craft up the Tempest River to Waterford. There he and his pirates raided, robbed and burned many riverfront shops and warehouses, after which they fled back down the river. The raid brought Ketain only a modest financial reward, but earned him the distinction (about which he often bragged) of being the only person ever wanted for piracy by the inland Kingdom of Hendor.

Ketain's peculiar sense of humor eventually cost him his life. He had long desired to intercept and seize one of the quarterly shipments of tea which sailed from Fairport. The tea ships were rich prizes indeed; Torren tea was highly sought after. Ketain could easily sell the cargo illegally in a dozen different ports for huge profits. Unfortunately for Ketain, the tea ship was always escorted by a well-armed brig. Since he couldn't take the vessel at sea, Ketain boldly decided to take it in Fairport harbor. His plan was to dress his crew in Torren naval uniforms and to dress himself in the uniform of the King's Harbormaster. They would then simply slip quietly into Fairport, row out to the tea ship, and capture the unsuspecting crew.

After the disguises were finished, Ketain was so taken with them that he decided to play a practical joke on his own crewmen. He dressed in the harbormaster's uniform and recruited some local River's Rest smugglers to wear the Torren naval uniforms. Ketain then led them to his own ship, strode up the gangplank shouting that everybody on board was under arrest for piracy. In the resulting confusion one of his crewmen struck him over the head with a belaying pin. It was a fatal blow.

Ketain of the Scars was buried (along with a substantial, though allegedly cursed, treasure) on the island of River's Rest in 4293 M.E. Blackberries were planted to mark his grave. The blackberry brambles grew and spread. They now cover a large section of the eastern side of the island. Due in part to the legends and stories that revolved around people like Ketain, Malovor, Oteska, DeGaspard and others the Grand Era of Piracy would last almost another half century. The Turamzzyrian navy eventually succeeded in curtailing most major acts of piracy.

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