Bhadlum, Sovereignty of
Before the Drowning, the lands of present-day Bhadlum (Bahd'-luhm) were nothing more than open plains and some farmland resting between the major settlements of the Hammervald Empire. Following the Drowning, the empire was weakened enough that the minotaurs entered the region relatively uncontested. Decades later displaced humans moved into the land, establishing larger towns and settlements. This resulted in the minotaurs being pushed from the area.
In later years, Bhadlum benefited from increased trade with the dwarves to their west, but with the minotaurs to the north life is hard along the border. The best warriors of all the Midlands come from this nation. Lord Montegron came from Bhadlum along with Second Protector Jermon Cavlin.
Life and Society
There are not many settlements in Bhadlum that qualify as cities with the exception of the capital, Tavlanor. However, with few exceptions, even the smallest villages have tall wooden stockades constructed around the homes and businesses. A series of towns along the northern border are close enough together to stop massive groups of minotaurs from crossing the border without being seen. Unfortunately, small minotaur raiding parties do occasionally slip through, attacking border towns. Even the settlements in the southern half of the country are struck by minotaurs hoping to hit those who believe themselves the safest.
Inside the walls, people tend to have normal lives, yet many of those same people are trained to fight when the security of their homes are threatened. Often the young, who are able-bodied, are encouraged to spend a few years in the town guard if not the national militia. A few years ago, the High Sheriff and nobles debated whether or not to make such service legally mandatory, however the numbers of volunteers was so high the king determined there was no need.
The only towns that have issues in contributing to the national forces are ones under the control of bandits who attempt to do business under the noses of national authorities. Since a variety of these towns are behind fort walls, rooting them out is a massive undertaking. Also, a number of these organizations are in competition with each other as often as they are doing business. Sometimes the job of removing these criminals from positions of power is done on their own.
Travel is a major point of concern in Bhadlum. Extra guards and weapons are taken when people venture outside city walls going from one place to another. Closer to the northern border, families may organize their travels together in order to form a larger and more well protected caravans.
Fishing is another major industry in Bhadlum. Small fishing villages dot the southern coast, and Tavlanor has a port on Lake Borlesko.
With this being the home country of Lord Montegron himself, along with the founder of the Midland Guard, the nation of Bhadlum gives massive support to the Midland Sovereignties and a very cold shoulder to the Tashrama. As such most of the population views religion as a crutch. Lately there are minorities who privately worship those gods who honor combat and strength such as Nairsaif (Kiri-Jolith), Melik Suud (Reorx), and Alnath (Sargonnas).
Officially labeled a monarchy, the label of King or Queen gives the wrong impression of the job held by the person in power. Where other nations may have royalty that must consider all avenues of politics and economy, the Bhadlum ruler must remain focused completely on the details of security. He is head commander of the military, and it is his job to keep the border of the Midlands safe. If the economy weakens or issues of political manipulation arise, it is the royal seat's job is to ignore those matters and let others handle it. Many in Bhadlum do not refer to their king or queen by those titles either. The nickname for the seat that has taken a strong hold is "High Sheriff." The position is often passed from parent to child, but when incompetence in the seen by those around the High Sheriff, there is precident for the current ruler to be pressured out in favor of new blood. So long as a man or woman is a Bhadlum citizen from birth and had begun official military or weapons training by the age of five, that person is eligible for the seat. Due to the respect the position receives, many parents send their sons and daughters to train at such young ages in hopes to keep them available for the post in the future.
A Fortmaster, one who leads the military forces of a fort town, officially heads each town and village along the northern border. The local populace of each town appoints their own Townsman to run non-military affairs, but the Fortmaster has final say on issues. Either the High Sheriff or an appointed advisor of the High Sheriff selects all Fortmasters. Many of the towns and villages in the Bhadlum interior have also begun to follow the Fortmaster/Townsman governing structure, but those towns more under the hold of bandits or criminal elements are run independently of those in Tavlanor.
The current High Sheriff of Bhadlum is Jessup Haeg (LG male Midlander human noble 7), son of Mendel Haeg. Mendel Haeg was appointed High Sheriff after the Days of Darkness under the strong suggestion of then to-be Great Sovereign Lord Montegron. Jessup is young, but he has so far proven himself his father's son by being a strong and imposing figure of determination and assurance. He is also skilled in a variety of weapons. The public's general view is that so far Jessup shows much promise and potential.
The military presence in Bhadlum is apparent any time one walks in or out of a town. Fortified walls surround almost all settlements, and every wall is manned by those trained to take down a hostile enemy. Many of the regular citizens have severed with the military or with local town guards. The national military openly supports citizen groups made up by those who had previously served. These groups aid in city and town defense in times of need. Odds are that if a traveler entered a small tavern in a random Bhadlum town, the barmaid would be formally trained in defend her home. This is the frontier, and those who live here know it.
The official national military serves under the command of the High Sheriff (the king), and each settlement is headed by one of two people: a Fortmaster who runs the town and the stationed military unit, or a captain who acts as advisor and go-between for the local guard. Each captain or Fortmaster also has a collection of personnel meant to protect the lands surrounding their stationed settlement, but in those areas where the towns are sparse, little can be done to protect it.
Minotaurs taken prisoner by the military are immediately sent to slave auction.
Magic and Mysticism
Magic of any short is not well trusted in Bhadlum, but in the rare occurrences where it comes to their benefit, they will not begrudge it. People here trust the solid chops of steel or the piercing tips of an arrow. Even with the popularity of the Tashrama gaining up until recently, the people of Bhadlum had more trust in herbalists. Some mages and mystic healers do have work in Bhadlum, but they are few and far between. Sorcerers are more readily accepted, even if the populace believes more in work done by hand and not magic. Clerics and Tashramadic mystics both are not well received at all. "Why does a man need a god when his own two hands will do?" is a very popular Bhadlum saying.
Major Geographical Features and Locations
Most of Bhadlum is covered in plains and low rolling hills. Sparse forests dot the land, but they are few and far between. The low-lying cliffs on the southern border have been cut into to allow fishing villages to access the waters below. The winters are long and harsh here, and the last winter was one of the harshest. There have been a few recently discovered caves in the northeast that may interconnect to the hills and mountains in Sakkaras, but they have not been fully explored yet due to the threat of the minotaurs.
Long before the Drowning, the land that would make up Bhadlum was populated by only a few sparse villages and farmlands part of the dwarven Hammervald Empire. The Drowning changed that, but not immediately. Within the first two years after the Drowning, the minotaurs were able to claim the land uncontested. However their hold on the region was only secure for two generations. Soon the Midland humans came.
In the earliest years after the Drowning, the region was called the "Bad Lands" by both minotaur and human alike due to the lack of vegetation in most of the region. Bone-biting cold winters combined with the land being torn up from more than a half-century of battle taken place here made much of it a harsh place to live. However it had become a hotly contested region, and only the Drowning put an end to most of the conflict.
Although held primarily by minotaurs for the first half-century after the Drowning, more and more people from the southeast arrived moving away from where the destructive wave had hit. Over time and over much strife, the Midlanders began to push the minotaurs northward. Soon a defensive line of towns was constructed from the hills in the northeast to the southern tip of the lake in the west. The nation received its name from a bastardization of the Trejori words for "Bad Lands," and the first High Sheriff, Morgan Degentry, was appointed to keep the area settled.
Many battles with the northern minotaurs were fought over the centuries. Often the intensity of these attacks and counter-attacks reached the severity of full-scale wars, but to the people of Bhadlum, the combat was always taken as a matter of course. Although the severity of the Days of Darkness was far worse than any invasion from Sakkaras, many walked away after the Starfall seeing the events as just one more conflict.
The people of Bhadlum are a hardy folk, and when native Lord Montegron began to preside over the entire Midlands, his home officially stated its support for him. High Sheriff Mendel Haeg stated in a public address, "If the Midlands needed a protector to guard everyone's back and front, who better to do it than one of us." Haeg was appointed to the position of High Sheriff after the Days of Darkness when the previous king was slain by a minotaur who used the chaos as a cover to sneak across the border and murder his enemy's leader. The minotaur escaped, and his identity was never discovered. Montegron led an assault of three hundred and fifty men into Sakkaras for retaliation. Two thousand minotaurs were killed in the attacks. Only twenty-eight men were slain. Along with his efforts during the Days of Darkness, these attacks helped propel his name from a living legend in Bhadlum to being heard of across the Midlands.
One year ago, High Sheriff Mendel Haeg was killed after a card game. He had disguised himself in order to merge in with the common crowds and see if he could learn more about their concerns in an unofficial capacity. Unfortunately a drunkard named Philan Tel lost too many hands in the game and too many coins. He followed Haeg out of the tavern and shot him in the back with a crossbow bolt without realizing that the man he thought of as Joandale Hollansh was in fact his own king. Tel was hung in a public square execution two weeks later screaming in madness that the Gray God of the North demanded the royal blood of Bhadlum.
Since then, Mendel's son Jessup has been ruling Bhadlum and doing what he can to insure its safety.
Gef-throth (Small Town 1,976): The most northeastern settlement in Bhadlum, it is also one of the poorest border towns in the country. So poor, Gef-throth is not fully surrounded by a stockade wall. Instead only the northern side of the town is walled, and the men and women of the militia guard it day and night. A few years ago a family of minotaurs from the north warned the town of an attack coming from the south. A number of minotaurs had found a cave linking Sakkaras to a cavern south of the town. Fortmaster Yoheshi (LN male Nordar fighter 7/dwarven defender 5) turned his forces around and wiped the invading force away. The father of the minotaur family, Merius (N male Sakkaran minotaur barbarian 9/fighter 2), is an honored member of the town who was recently elected Townsman by the people. He is often referred to as "The Blessed Traitor." Yoheshi is still not certain of the minotaur's loyalties.
Groston (Large Town 4,230): A common example of a town in Bhadlum. The tall stockade wall surrounds the town and is manned day and night by members of the national force. Fortmaster Ronvar Syus (LG male Midlander human fighter 7) runs the settlement's military needs while Townsman Felis Harthon (NG male Midlander human commoner 4) deals with more mundane matters. Still, most in the town are well trained, and if the need arise the civilian populace is ready to take up arms for themselves and Bhadlum.
Medren (Large Town 3,921): Was one of the bandit-held towns in Bhadlum up until recently. Self-proclaimed Bandit Lord Hornwell used to visit this town of his on occasion to do business with the locals and other criminal patriarchs. For any traveling through the town appears the same as any other in Bhadlum. Local forces man the high stockade fence, and the people seem well prepared for wild on the frontier. Only when prolonged business is conducted does the underside begin to show itself. Just this last winter Hornwell was found dead with four of his bodyguards. None yet know who committed the crime. Whether Medren will be fully reclaimed by the High Sheriff or if another of Hornwell's kind will step in to fill the void is unknown.
Tavlanor (Metropolis 29,472): The long stockade wall of the capital stretches around the city from the coast to the coast. Instead of it being one continuous stretch of wooden posts, the wall is segmented by numerous stone towers, which allow the guards a much better view of the surrounding lands and the great lake. Many of the buildings within the capital are made of stone with wood only used to give a warmer feeling on the inside. Roofs are tiled here, as opposed to the thatched roofs common in the rest of the nation. The High Sheriff, King Jessup Haeg, lives however in a large wooden fort-like manor positioned in the center of the city on a tall hill. The manor differs from most other homes in the city by being one of the few buildings with a wooden exterior. The lesser structural protection on the manor is said to mean that if the city fails to defend itself to their king's walls, then it desires to fall the rest of the way. So far, since the city's construction, the city has yet to have taken massive damage in any conflict.