The Lands of Intrigue - Erlkazar
History of Erlkazar
Country and Climate
Politics and Power
Coinage and Commerce
Until recently, Erlkazar was considered a part of the country of Tethyr, known as the Duchy of Elestam. This small kingdom is the most stable countries in this region of the South. The baronies’ return at the behest of the new king bothered some who had suffered under the old system, but even they admired the new leaders. Erlkazar now has strong ties in commerce, defense, and diplomacy to other countries, and it is rich from the trade coming through the Vilhon Reach and up the Wintercloak River.
History of Erlkazar
During the Ten Black Days of Eleint in 1347 DR, Tethyr broke into civil war and outright anarchy as the army and the common populace rose up in rebellion against the corrupt and draconian policies of the king and the vast majority of the nobles. At the time, the Duchy of Elestam was ruled by the good Duke Valon Morkann. Though the people of Elestam remained loyal to Duke Morkann, his people hated the lesser nobles beneath him and turned on them during the chaos and disorder of the time. The duke moved to put the barons in irons, then try them for crimes against the people and himself after the chaos had subsided, but the counts and barons fled rather than face angry mobs and official prosecution.
Within a year of the Black Days, Elestam’s borders were stable and secure, the duchy ruled solely by the duke in the absence of higher authority. Given that Tethyr had fallen and petty lords abused their powers to the west, the people bid the duke to be their king and protect them. Duke Morkann officially broke his ties with Tethyr and declared Elestam to now be Erlkazar, and he its king. During much of the Interregnum (the time between the Black Days of Eleint and the restoration of Tethyr’s monarchy under Queen Zaranda Star in 1369 DR), King Valon Morkann ruled directly, without counts, dukes, or barons beneath him. Vampires and dragons plagued Erlkazar, but Elestam’s Crusaders and the Emerald Brotherhood kept the peace—at least, until the latter vanished from the Realms in 1359 DR.
For nearly the entire Year of Shadows (1358 DR), the goblin hordes of the High Peaks and the Kuldin Peaks attacked Erlkazar, laying siege to Duhlnarim for over three months. The war against King Ertyk Uhl of the Starrock goblin tribe seemed endless, despite the assistance of the mages of Duhlnarim and numerous heroes, until the Crusaders struck an alliance with the neutral and unusually trustworthy Shieldbreaker Ogres of Rivenshield. By year’s end, the goblins were cut to less than a third of their previous numbers; they are only now regaining their strength.
King Valon died in the Year of the Sword (1366 DR), bequeathing his crown to his eldest son Korox, the leader of Elestam’s Crusaders. The four other Crusaders were made barons to aid the new king, much to the king’s relief and Erlkazar’s fortune.
Country and Climate
Erlkazar is like Tethyr’s Highlands in climate and terrain. It is covered with hills and mountains, and the land itself slopes down to the east and southeast, leaving few flatlands. All streams lead to the Deepwash and Impresk Lake, which lie at higher elevations than Darromar in Tethyr.
Politics and Power
As the Duchy of Elestam, this region once contained two counties and five baronies. The counts and barons who once conspired with the Duchy of Dusk in Tethyr to overthrow the Morkann family were slain during or soon after the Black Days of Eleint. After a year of fighting along its borders, Elestam seceded from Tethyr and became the monarchy of Erlkazar; restructured baronies were recently added. Erlkazarans are happy to be Tethyr’s allies, but nearly thirty years of independence suits them well, and they fiercely defend their rights as a sovereign people. Erlkazar’s king and queen have no wish to discuss dissolving their realm to rejoin Tethyr as a duchy merely to unify the old country.
Erlkazar’s mother tongue is identical to Tethyr’s pidgin Common. The natives do use a few more dwarven root words, as their lands were heavily influenced by Shanatar in the past.
Many of the same gods who are revered in Tethyr and Amn are worshipped among the hills and dales of this tiny land, but Erlkazarans hold more reverence for Mystra and Azuth. In the towns of Erlkazar are over 20 holy places dedicated to the mages’ gods.
The only difference between Erlkazar’s and Tethyr’s populations is a notable lack of halflings in Erlkazar. Many half-elves and wild elves fled here during the persecutions of the last three kings of House Tethyr. More shield dwarves are evident here, too—the remnants of Shanatar or recent settlers above those ruins. Unfortunately, Erlkazar’s next largest populations are goblins and ogres.
As in the Highlands of Tethyr, the social habits of Erlkazar—from king’s court to farmers’ lands—are lax and informal. The Erlkazarans mean no disrespect, but their rugged land forces them together, so respect and nobility must be earned, not gained by natural or divine right.
Coinage and Commerce
While Erlkazar has yet to strike its own official coins, it does have official trade weights for coins and exchange rates per amount and type of precious metals. Most coins in use are Old Tethyrian, but nearly any coin across the Realms can be found here, thanks to trade links with the Vilhon Reach. The two major cities of Erlkazar have trade routes going from the Deepwash to the Vilhon Reach and the Sea of Fallen Stars, via the deep, outflowing Wintercloak River.
The northern border of Erlkazar is the Snowflake Mountain range; the eastern edge is marked by Impresk Lake and the Deepwash. While Erlkazar engulfs the Kuldins on all sides, the Iltkazar range and the headwaters of the River Ith form its western borders. The southern Thorn Wood and the eastern foothills of the Omlarandins define the southern borders.
King Korox is a former hero and adventurer, just like Tethyr’s Queen Zaranda and King Haedrak. His is as capable a king as he was a leader of the Crusaders.
The royal stronghold of Klarsamryn has been the center of the capital of Llorbauth since the city’s founding, though the castle is about 500 years older than the city.
Given the close personal ties among the four lesser nobles and the king, Erlkazar has few serious political intrigues. Minor power plays take place between government bureaus and trade guilds.
The baron is a half-steel dragon ranger who was accepted by the hill clans of Impresk as a chief despite his draconic nature. Known as “the Tammsel,” he is nearly 50 years old; he appears as a young man with half-elven features, gray hair and skin, massive claws, and a dorsal ridge running from his head down his back.
Three or four farming villages, one mining village in the Snowflakes, and a few sheperding and logging towns in the foothills are present.
This northernmost barony of the realm is responsible for keeping down the monstrous populations among the Snowflakes and protecting the trade road to Riatavin
Impresk Lake is an ice-cold lake fed by four rivers and many streams. The river leading down to the Deepwash is passable to experienced captains and pilots.
The Snowflake Mountains are among the highest in the South, with some northern Snowflake peaks reaching as high as 20,000 feet above sea level.
Cities and Sites
Caradoon (Large town): This large town lies on the southern shore of Impresk Lake on a small peninsula. The town’s primary livelihood is fishing.
Kholmeth (Village): This small village of sheperds and trail guides is the closest settlement to the baron’s hunting lodge, high among the central Snowflakes.
Soaring Spirit, the cathedral to Deneir built by High Scrivener Cadderly, replaced the ruined Edificant Library that once stood in this barony.
Castle Trinity lies in ruins, the former stronghold of Talona-worshippers who tried to conquer this area by organizing armies of ogres and humanoids. Their attempt failed thanks to the actions of Cadderly and the elves of Shilmista.
Nightglow is the name for the former cavern lair of a red dragon, Fyrentennimar. This massive cave complex, carved from the heart of the mountains, is now mysteriously abandoned.
The central barony of Erlkazar are the king’s lands, which encompass the major agricultural lands and the capital.
Four villages and over a dozen hamlets here are supported by farming; three villages subsist on fishing.
The king directly controls the major port at Llorbauth and the bulk of the agricultural trade in Erlkazar.
King Korox Morkann was the fair-haired leader of a group of local heroes called Elestam’s Crusaders. All other Crusaders are now barons in Erlkazar. King Korox personally trains many officers in his country’s army.
Shalane Lake is the local name for the northwestern end of the Deepwash. It is a prime area for fishing, as its waters are less disturbed by the feeding of the dragon turtle of the Deepwash.
Lost Lovers’ Pool is a coastal sea cave north of Llorbauth that is reachable only during low tide. Legends say that two newlyweds found the pool and vanished, never to be seen again.
Cities and Sites
Elhimar’s Tower rests of the bottom of Shalane Lake, surrounded by a magical field that keeps the water out and air in. The wizard Elhimar hasn’t been seen around here since the rise of his pupil to the baron’s seat of Ahlarkhem.
Llorbauth (Metropolis): The capital of the realm, Llorbauth is home to 28,000 persons of varied races. This major city handles 40% of the port traffic and trade on the Deepwash.
Shalane (Small town): This fishing town has the best ship-builders of Erlkazar, even better than those in Duhlnarim and Llorbauth.
The Mystics’ Academy is an academic school for mages, alchemists, and a small sect of Azuthan and Mystran priests. It lies south of Llorbauth, on the shores of the Deepwash between Llorbauth and Duhlnarim.
The Hills’ Cheer Distillery & Brewery produces some of the finest liquors and ales exported by Aurora’s Wholesale outside of the Purple Hills. It is run by Araneth Idogyr, the elder half-brother of Count Gamalon Idogyr of Tethyr. Araneth still mockingly refers to Gamalon as “Gem-head” because of the latter’s numerous ioun stones.
The baron of this domain controls the majority of trade into and out of the Deepwash through Duhlnarim. Ahlarkhem’s baron is Lord Purdun “The Firefist,” whose calm, steady, diplomatic demeanor is in contrast to his fiery name and reputation. His wife is Princess Dijara, the younger sister of the king, and together they are the king’s most ardent supporters.
Nine scattered villages and hamlets in Ahlarkhem are supported by fishing, mining, or farming.
This barony is the trade linchpin for Erlkazar and thus controls much of the power of the realm for the king. It also defends Erlkazar from the goblins of the High Peaks, and Ahlarkhem’s troops patrol the eastern ruins of Tathtar, preventing monsters or brigands from spreading out of them.
The Arglander River divides the High Peaks, flowing over many cataracts and cascades from the highest of the High Peaks down to the Deepwash. It is passable only at the Shadebridge along the trail between Duhlnarim and Saarlik, which is reputedly haunted by the ghosts of the drowned.
The Deepwash is a freshwater lake that is nearly as deep as Lake Esmel. Its icy depths are haunted by a singular danger: a dragon turtle.
The High Peaks are the western spur of the Cloven Mountain Range. They rise as high as 12,000 feet among the eastern peaks above the ruins of Dajaan.
The Wintercloak River provides a link between the Deepwash and the Nagawater and eventually the Vilhon Reach. Its swift-flowing waters cut through a number of Cloven Mountain gorges and the tangled Winterwood, but the river is navigable either way, given fair winds and the strength of rowers if traveling upstream from the Deepwash.
Cities & Sites
Duhlnarim (Large City): This major port city is often split by political squabbles between the mercantile H’Krabil clan and numerous mages’ factions. The oldest city in this area, Duhlnarim dates back over eight centuries.
Furrowsrich is among the largest farming villages of Erlkazar, thanks to its location at the crossroads of trails leading to Llorbauth, Duhlnarim, and Five Spears Hold.
Aston’s Point (Hamlet): This is a hamlet of about 200 people that has grown up around a monastery to Ilmater led by a aged monk named Aston Tanak. The hamlet straddles the Arglander River where it empties into the Deepwash.
Saarlik is a ghost town on the south shore of the Arglander River, in the northwestern ruins of Tathtar. It marks the end of the Erlkazaran trade road leading from the Tethir Road.
Dajaan is a ruined city which lies south of Surkh, across the Deepwash and in the foothills 2 miles south of the Deepwash’s coast. Dajaan’s ruins extend to the water’s edge. Its crypts are rumored to hold the lair of a vampire, as well as other evil things.
The people of Tanistan have always been ruled by a warrior whose mission is to protect the borders. The current Baroness of Tanistan is High Watcher Laxaella Bronshield, a priestess of Helm who still mourns the loss of her elven husband Rysodyl Boughstrong at the hands of the Goblin King Ertyk Uhl. She buries herself in her duties, protecting the south and maintaining the garrisons.
Four human villages lie in the upper barony and foothills, and a few nonhuman villages are among the western Peaks.
Tanistan is responsible for protecting the southern borders of Erlkazar. The area between the Thornwood and High Peaks is technically controlled by the Ahlarkhem barony, but the baron of Tanistan patrols these lands and shares their bounty. This barony maintains the alliance with the Shieldbreaker Ogres to contain the monstrous populations among the High Peaks.
The broad Plains of Pehrrifaal are nestled between the High Peaks, the Kuldins, and the Omlarandins. Their main products are barley and millet, though grapes for table wines are also found in smaller hamlets. The name Pehrrifaal was that of a famed local warrior who died stopping a goblins’ charge.
The western Omlarandins and the Iltkazar Foothills (and the lower High Peaks) here are lightly forested. While the trees prevent a clear view of the border, many garrison scouts were trained by the baroness and her dead husband in elven practices using the trees as lookout posts.
Cities & Sites
Five Spears Hold (Small City): This garrisoned mining town is the baronial seat and the third largest settlement in Erlkazar. Its name comes from an old dwarven legend in which defenders who survived a battle with the drow had only five spears left.
The four Pehrrifaal Garrisons act as garrisons for troops along the southern border and as minor temples to Tyr, Helm, Torm, and Tempus, respectively.
Praskallest is the surviving manor house and estate of the former Count of Correlath. Now it is a staging area and primary garrison for the southern armies, and also the official keep of the baroness. It is located west of Five Spears Hold, between the hold and Mount Noblesse in Tethyr.
Rivenshield (Village): This village of ogres is the home of the Shieldbreakers, Erlkazar’s primary allies against the giants and goblins in the High Peaks. The Shieldbreakers are not very friendly but are known to stick to their word, and they are usually trusted and even well respected in Erlkazar.
Since the days of Shanatar, this area has been ruled by a shield dwarf warrior or priest, regardless of its overlord. It’s current ruler is Zain Twin-Axes, an Alaghor (battle-priest) of Clangeddin Silverbeard, the dwarven god of battle, war, valor, bravery and honor in battle.
Among the mountains of Carrelath are army garrisons and a few mining villages and isolated religious communities.
Carrelath defends the western gap in the Iltkazar Range, supplementing Impresk’s defense of the trade roads. A garrison is kept to defend the headwaters of the Shining Stream.
Aside from passes and foothills, Carrelath lies entirely among the Kuldin Peaks. The passes and trails in these mountains were first used at the rise of Shanatar; they are used now by travelers, troop patrols, and shepherds and their flocks.
Beneath the Kuldins south of Tibold lies Ravimor’s Cave. In the floor of this cave is a rift that opens directly into a huge chasm area that is rumored to reach Deep Shanatar. A few adventuring companies have descended here, but fewer heroes have returned.
Cities & Sites
Tibold (Large Town): This mining town in the western Kuldins lies south of the headwaters of Swimstar Creek. Tibold acts as the baronial seat. Built atop the ruins of an old dwarven stronghold, Tibold is larger than it seems, as a third of the city (including the baron’s home) lies in caverns under the mountains. Tibold is the oldest continuously occupied settlement in the Lands of Intrigue, founded over 4,000 years ago as an outpost of High Shanatar. From here, dwarves and highland human allies resisted the Second Calimshan Empire’s advances into their territory.
Golconda (Village): This mining village has a long-abandoned fortress built during the Third Calimshan Empire.