Nations and Places

Section 1: Nations

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Nations and Places

Table of Contents


A Map of the World

The Calendar of Gushémal

Section I: Nations

Section II: Places of Renown



Historical Overview (continued)

“What has happened to Varnón? I still haven’t heard a word from him! Tauriel tells me it’s only a matter of time, that he has so much work to get done, but I miss him. And I have to run the tavern!

“Thank the gods I didn’t sell the Singing Swan to Seelany right away, or I would have been out on the streets. The jaundarms can’t do so much to keep them safe, and I

“Tauriel tells me to head for the caverns under the city if there should be a riot of blackrobe supporters. I can’t believe there would be so many that the jaundarms couldn’t suppress them immediately, but Tauriel is worried. I would feel so much safer with Varnón. My children would, too. Dear diary, they still call for Fradrik!

“At least Seelany and her husband help me out. I have to pay them a hefty share, but it’s worth it. They are good people.”

From the diary of Laurônz Dartanyô, 23 Quorun 3142 A.E.


Two volumes of Mistress Dartanyô’s diary (3142 – 3149) are missing. Unlike the others which her son (Little) Fradrik brought to the newly re-built Darawk Academies of Faithold in 3159 A.E., these two are said to still be in the catacombs beneath Sirap.

I had the opportunity to speak with Master Dartanyô during his brief stay in Faithold (fortuitously coinciding with my own visit). Not only did I learn and read the intriguing diary of his mother, he also filled in some of the gaps in the writings. Though he was a young boy at the time, he says that the tavern and his family fell on hard times. The former magistrate Varnón Vallis now had taken on the title of Governor, effectively serving in lieu of three-year-old king Onrik, hasn’t played much of a part in Master Dartanyô’s memories, so he must have removed his former lover from his attention. In fact Governor Vallis married a lady of the royal line within three months of the capture of Sirap.

Taxes were imposed with impunity. The Singing Swan no longer escaped them because – as Master Dartanyô suggests – Governor Vallis wanted to erase all links to his former lover. (And also, as I have pieced together the story, the older Fradrik’s association with the Blackrobes had exempted the tavern from the taxes and fees demanded during King Lùdig’s reign.) Despite Mistress Dartanyô’s best efforts to reclaim the tavern’s old set of patrons – artists and clerics -, the Singing Swan was shunned by many of them. The majority of patrons were jaundarms, which turned the inn into a boisterous, loud mess that Mistress Dartanyô detested. The former barmaid Seelany Dalroc and her husband Jón clearly enjoyed the new atmosphere, and so did (Little) Fradrik. His eyes gleamed when he told me of his boyhood’s explorations along the tales of the jaundarms, and how he learned to use a sword in that tavern, along with practice lessons from the policemen.

His mother did not stop him, although Fradrik expected her to all the time. It is quite clear that in those years she had taken up with the elf Tauriel (whose full name is never mentioned in the diary, and neither does Fradrik recall his clan or family name). The elf encouraged the boy to learn about swords, although he rarely taught him anything in person.

Mistress Dartanyô suffered severely in those days. Little Fradrik remembers that she shut herself into her room every morning, and he would hear her sobbing inside. In the early days she would continually send letters to Governor Vallis, presumably to ask for his assistance. Fradrik thinks it was about 3145 that she completely stopped the letters. “When I was six years old, it was as if my mother had died, and there was this strange person around the house,” he says. “Vrony and Aunt Seelany raised me from that day on. Neither of us understood, not until I read her diaries much later on. She had told me stories about the evil Blackrobe conspiracy, and now she seemed much a Blackrobe herself, with the clothes she wore and how she would shut herself away for days on end. I was afraid of Mother, and afraid for her – something that I couldn’t comprehend back then.”

We rejoin her tale four years after that change, in the summer of 3149 A.E.

Demercur Ylvain


“Father Reméque told us to pray for the good of Varnón today. How can he dare to say that? Doesn’t he know that the gods are preparing a special fire for him in the abysses? Oh, surely they are preparing to roast Reméque alongside of Varnón, the great and benevolent Governor.

“I have spoken to Clôdyn again, in Môncial’s book shop. How strange that I should now be one of the whispering people in the shop that had once belonged to Remônzau. But Remônzau had to sell his shop, and it was only good fortune that a friend of ours could take over. I know Môncial keeps losing money, but it is such a good cover for our conversations. If I could only be sure of the jaundarms… Clôdyn thinks we cannot trust a single one of them, but Tauriel is different. He shares our thoughts, and so do the elves amongst the jaundarms and those in the caverns below. (Three weeks since I last was there. Dear diary, you must feel lonely now that your companions and predecessors have gone to that dark place, but they are safe there, with the elves.)

“Clôdyn has told me about the droughts in the eastern provinces. People are dying everywhere. They may only be peasants, but they are people. If Varnón were as benevolent as the bastard claims to be, he would help them. He raises enough money to buy food for them!

“But he doesn’t. Instead he’s building himself a new palace – I know it’s for him. He can claim forever more that it will be a new High Temple for the Divine Speaker, but it’s him who will reign there, as a new king with his horse-faced wife. Royal line! Varnón wants to be royal himself. Poor little Onrik, he’ll suffer an accident and vanish. Clôdyn knows that the Furrag bodyguards assigned to the boy have secret orders to kill him at a certain signal from Varnón.

“It won’t matter. Tauriel told me about the reigns of kings he has lived through. (Eighty-seven years old, he is. And so young! And so handsome!)”

From the diary of Laurônz Dartanyô, 11 Glymarion 3149 A.E.


“A word is making the rounds of the tavern. Brownrobes. I hate the word. It sounds so much like the Blackrobes that nearly ruined our Beautiful Nation. But that’s the word, and everybody’s using it. Why, even Clôdyn does! He says that it’s useful in its irony, but I don’t like it any better for that. Irony is lost on the minds of the masses. That’s what the book[1] says, and I know it to be true. I’ve been an innkeeper for next to twenty years, I’d better know something about the people!

“Brownrobes. Next thing I know Clôdyn will make us die our tunics brown.”

From the diary of Laurônz Dartanyô, 1 Radobun 3150 A.E.


“What is Clôdyn talking about with Vrony all day long? She’s a fifteen-year-old girl, doesn’t he know that? Whispering and chatting with her as if… I will have to speak to him about that. I don’t like it. The girl should be waiting the tables. Seelany isn’t getting any younger, and Vrony can take care of the tables. I wouldn’t put her near the money box unattended, the girl has such a wispy mind.

“Little Fradrik is beginning to look like a grown man, and I wonder if I hadn’t been wrong about him all the time. The way he’s filling out his clothes, and his face develops all those edges, he reminds me of Fradrik. I will not speak ill of my dead husband, but I do not like to look at my son and see that fool – that man. No, it feels so wrong.

“Winter is waning, and I’m afraid of the news from the east. How many will have died during the chill time, after the droughts and starvations that had plagued summer and fall? It’s a sign of the gods, that’s what it is. The gods despise Varnón’s unholy regime, disguised by pretended love of our faith!”

From the diary of Laurônz Dartanyô, 3 Quorun 3150 A.E.


“The gods are false! They must be! They must be!

“Today the Divine Speaker blessed Varnón as the ‘Holy Governor of the Sacred Land of Ibrollene’. Oh, my pen is quivering while writing, and I cannot believe the words that I see printed on the poster before me! Tauriel was there, and he saw a shower of golden light surrounding Varnón. The gods indeed blessed him.

“How can they do that if they are as righteous as the priests claim? How can they grant their might to a Divine Speaker who is on the side of darkness and unholiness?

“Clôdyn says that they are weakened. They once were true gods, but now they are frightened to wither away as the old deities of the Tonomai have once done. I asked him of what they were afraid, but Clôdyn only smiled and said, ‘Ibrollene.’ What kind of an answer is that? The man is getting to be mad, and he hasn’t stopped smiling at Vrony. I told Vrony to stay away from him, and the girl shouted that she was her own woman. A woman? That slip of a girl? Why, she doesn’t have a clue of life, and now she proclaims herself a woman.

“The days of our world must be drawing to a close. I feel a change in my bones. I long to speak to Tauriel again, to have him here with me, but he must stay with Varnón, to keep an eye on him, and to guard the boy-king from his Furrag bodyguards.”

From the diary of Laurônz Dartanyô, 19 Tabrokun 3151 A.E.


“I am beginning to feel stronger. The sickness of the past months has passed, and I believe it is Clôdyn who has given me strength. He has explained to me what will swipe the unholy gods and Varnón from our land. Our land itself, our nation. The Beautiful Nation, Ibrollene.

“We shall rise up, we shall be a deity of our own. The collective force of our land, it will stand up to the gods who profess to be our creators, and we will destroy them! We will take vengeance! All of us, every single good Ibrollenian.

“Vrony must do so as well. She has begun to wear daggers and to practice with them. Good! If only her sense was clear enough to give me faith in her… Little Fradrik will be a good soldier, though. Tauriel is satisfied with his development. I know that he looks like his father who was a foolish Blackrobe, but Little Fradrik will make up for his father’s shame. I know it! He shall be part of our nation, he shall be part of the new god!”

From the diary of Laurônz Dartanyô, 11 Destrab 3152 A.E.


“Poor diary, how dirty you have become! I try to take care of you, but all that marching, it doesn’t make things easier. Three weeks we have been walking towards the eastern provinces, where Clôdyn said our comrades would be waiting. The True Army of Ibrollene, he said. I long to see them! Row upon row of mighty warrior, infused with the power of our great nation. We shall vanquish the evil men who occupy our land and call it their home! They will all fall, all of them.”

From the diary of Laurônz Dartanyô, 9 Farestun 3152 A.E.


“Where is Little Fradrik? That silly boy! Vrony doesn’t know, and she was supposed to look out for him. I may forgive my son-in-law for not noticing – Clôdyn is really busy with our army, getting armoring and weaponing into our hide-aways in the mountains -, but Vrony, she doesn’t have much to do besides looking out for her little brother.

“That boy! He looks like his father, and he has all the stupidity of my husband! Run off to look for some young girl in the village at the base of the mountain, I’m sure!”

From the diary of Laurônz Dartanyô, 23 Segrun 3153 A.E.


“On the march again. We will reach Bordò in two days, Clôdyn says. I cook every evening for the soldiers. If the spirit of our nation were not with me, I would not be able to lift a finger. Vrony helps sometimes. Far too rarely.

“I should cook for Little Fradrik, but the boy hasn’t been seen since Segrun! Where is he?”

From the diary of Laurônz Dartanyô, 23 Aqualun 3153 A.E.


“My eyes are failing. I know it. Clôdyn says it’s impossible, but I was sure that I saw Little Fradrik on the battlements of Bordò Castle! In the armor of the unholy foes!

He is as bad as his father. Whoever that is, and

“It can’t be Little Fradrik. My boy died back in the east. He had an accident when he went down to the mountain village. I should have stayed there to look for his body, or at least to find out who the girl was.

“I am resolved in the Spirit of the Beautiful Nation. Tomorrow we will attack the castle, and we will take it. I will do my part, dear diary, as will Vrony. As will Clôdyn. And Little Fradrik’s spirit will be fighting alongside with us!”

From the diary of Laurônz Dartanyô, 27 Aqualun 3153 A.E.


That was the last entry in Mistress Dartanyô’s diary. She died on the battlefield at Bordò, from a stray arrow fired by her own Brownrobes. Clôdyn also perished, in a swordfight with one of the defenders – ironically it was indeed (Little) Fradrik Dartanyô. His mother had seen him after all.

Master Dartanyô had run away from the Brownrobe army at the beginning of the year. “It wasn’t nobility that made me do it,” he told me in our conversation at Faithold. “I wanted to get away from Mother, and from Vrony. Really, I wanted to get back to the Singing Swan, to Aunt Seelany. She was the only sane person I knew at that time – excepting my friends among the jaundarms. I didn’t care about the Brownrobes, I didn’t care about Varnón and his regime. I wanted to go home.”

Instead he came to Bordò where he met Tauriel. The elf was among the guards assigned to the royal party, for young King Onrik had taken his winter residence at Bordò Castle. Under strange circumstances Fradrik met Tauriel again (he has not elaborated on those circumstances, but they seem to have involved several swordfights and the revelation of a plot to murder the king.) As a result of those events, Fradrik joined the royal guard – the Mayal -, as a special trustee of the king. Onrik was thirteen years old at the time and seems to have formed a special bond of friendship with Fradrik (who had barely turned fifteen at that time and theoretically could not be admitted to the ranks of the Mayal).

The battle at Bordò Castle was a victory for the defenders. The Brownrobe troops were routed and thought defeated. Amongst the dead, Fradrik found his mother’s body (and with it the final volume of her diary). He arranged for her funeral pyre, and then he returned to Sirap with the king.

In the following year the Brownrobes would regroup. According to rumors, Fradrik’s sister had taken a leading role in that, but he never found out for certain. He did find out that his father was still alive – more or less forgotten in the dungeons. King Onrik signed a pardon for the elder Fradrik, despite the objections of Governor Vallis. The elder Fradrik would live for six months longer, returning to the Singing Swan and selling it to Seelany’s husband.

The younger Fradrik’s time at court must have been adventurous. He only alluded to intrigues, masterminded by both Governor Vallis and the Brownrobes. Both were out to kill the king, and it was to him that Fradrik gave his allegiance. He seems to have formed a quartet of devoted Mayal, together with Tauriel and two others. I cannot say for certain since Fradrik didn’t speak much of those times.

It came to a sharp end when the Brownrobes resurged. In 3154 A.E., their new army began its second campaign, which would see a victory for their side a year later. King Onrik was arrested, supposed to be executed along with Governor Vallis – yet he was spirited out of his prison cell by Fradrik and his companions from the Mayal. (Quite adventurous, indeed.) Fradrik was captured during the escape. His companions brought the king to safety, as by their previous agreement, while Fradrik was put on trial by the Brownrobes.

In 3155 A.E., Fradrik was jailed in the very same cell where his father had been. Nearly four years would pass before he managed to break out – aided by his old friends who had come back into Ibrollene. The quartet fled to Faithold, where King Onrik still resides, protected by the remainder of the Mayal. It was at his makeshift court that I met Fradrik Dartanyô.

A short while after our conversations, Fradrik and his friends left Faithold. I have not been able to find out more about them. Did they go back to Ibrollene? Are they still alive? I do hope so. Young Fradrik Dartanyô was an impressive man, very determined to see his king returned to his rightful throne.

I must say a few more things about the developments in Ibrollene since 3155. Governor Vallis was not executed but merely jailed. The rule of the Brownrobes succeeded only insofar as the temples of our gods were razed and replaced by monstrosities that profess to serve the Spirit of the Nation as a new deity. Worship of the gods is forbidden. Many clerics who could not escape the land were executed in public.

Yet the Brownrobes who conquered the land soon began to quarrel amongst themselves. They broke apart into fractions who fought each other as viciously as they had fought against the royal troops. Sometimes the newly installed governments only lasted a week before they were replaced by others. Each new set of rulers would do its best to kill the members of the preceding rulers, if it had time enough to do so.

Confusion ruled. Governor Vallis managed to use that confusion to put himself into power again – twice, in 3156 and 3160. His latest rule lasted for over a year, until he finally was executed.

Today (3165 A.E. as of this writing), Ibrollene has quieted down. There are as many fractions there as before; their hatred for each other is as profound. And there are various armies throughout the land, belonging to one fraction or the other. It is still a confusing place, far from the Beautiful Nation that Ibrollene once was. The current quiet seems to be the calm of fatigue, a respite before another storm will sweep through the land.

Demercur Ylvain


[1] That would be the “Book of Truth”, a pamphlete of rulings and regulations that the Brownrobes adopted. Its authors are unknown, but among them is presumed to be the Clôdin (Varchón) in Mistress Dartanyô’s diary.