An Incomplete History of River's Rest: Part II
PREVIOUS Tomes of Elanthia
The Council of Mages Era
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
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
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
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
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
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
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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