Thune: Age of Woe
The Weylords of Ralgotha
Throughout history, Ralgotha has always been a region of contention. Its wealth of resources and its defensibility made it highly desirable to those who could hold it, though the constant onslaughts of native orc clans, tribes of ogres and trolls, and occasional incursions from giants made the movement of goods out of the region difficult.
This all changed with the arrival of a number of exiled but enterprising former nobles from the Iron Kingdoms who became known as the Weylords. In the wake of a number of kingdom-dissolving wars, a number of noble lords with more wealth than bravery to face the fates of their peers settled in the coniferous slopes of Ralgotha, establishing a number of strongholds in the region. The Weylords maintained a strong alliance with each other while maintaining independence of their claimed lands. Whenever orcish raiders or hungry giants reared their ugly heads to threaten villages or trade routes, the Weylords would band together and crush the threat.
As time passed, small disputes between the Weylords would erupt over mining or timber rights on their respective borders or skirmishes would erupt between neighboring villages that would put the Weylords at odds with each other. Wanting to avoid the power struggle that came with a centralized authority but needing some means to mediate disputes, the Weylords agreed to appoint one of their own to serve a term as High Weylord. This term would last five years and would then pass to another Weylord by way of lottery. This would ensure cooperation while creating an overarching authority who would understand the temporary nature of their rule. This person would be responsible for establishing relations with sovereign kingdoms, maintaining trade routes, and adjudicating disputes between the Weylords and their charges when those disputes moved beyond their loosely-defined borders.
The agreement was sealed with a diadem. This crown was made from the antlers of a peryton that the Weylords had banded together to kill after it had tormented a local hamlet. Woven with silver thread and onyx gems, it became the symbol of rulership and the pact taken to protect the realm.
The diadem exchanged hands several times before resting on the brow of Weylord Nazuthal. Of all the Weylords, Nazuthal was perhaps the most eccentric. Having built a castle of black stone, Nazuthal often decorated the parade ground outside his castle with the severed heads of orcs and ogres who he had slain with great relish. His rule over the people in his province was absolute and he levied heavy taxes which were used to establish a powerful military. Nazuthal’s aggression often alarmed his neighbors; content not to just defend his lands, Nazuthal often led long excursions into the frontier lands to root out orc tribes and other groups he viewed as potential threats to his lands. When the diadem finally made its way into his hands, the relations between Ralgotha and other lands started to fray while his aggressive behavior started to cast an ominous shadow not only over former trade partners, but also the other Weylords. Eventually their fears were realized when the Weylords convened to pass the crown only to be murdered by Nazuthal, who had their bodies dumped into the fountain of one of their strongholds. Nazuthal called a meeting of all the townsfolk to this courtyard where he was bathing in the blood of his betrayed fellows. With this gruesome act, Nazathul established his absolute rule over all of Ralgotha.
Commanding a powerful military, Nazuthal began expanding his reach back into some of the fractured nations of the Iron Kingdoms, always striking in the dead of night when his enemies were least prepared or able to fight. Relentless in his pursuits, Nazuthal’s habit of bathing in the blood of leaders he beheaded and then decorating his battlements with their heads only served to increase his ruthless reputation. Soon his expansion met with little resistance as liege-lords abandoned their capitals to avoid the inevitable.
Long years seemed to be the only hope of the oppressed people of Ralgotha, but age never seemed to touch Nazuthal. Generations came and passed and Nazuthal held strong to his rule. Rumors whispered that somehow the diadem was the secret to his perpetual youth. Eventually, a military force of multiple allied kingdoms led by the Empyrean Watch marched on Nazuthal while he was campaigning far from home. Nazuthal was captured and the Empyrean Watch decided to seal him in the hold of a ship and transport him to Abrunon. There he was sealed with his diadem in a cemented sarcophagus and interred deep within the complex.
Without Nazuthal’s rule, most of the citizens of Ralgotha fled the highlands and abandoned the old provinces. The Iron Kingdoms rebuilt and reestablished their respective rulerships and Ralgotha was eventually overtaken by the forces of nature from whence it had been carved.