Valathia, the Fallen Kingdom

Skulking in the shadow of the blasted reaches of the Bleakstone Mountains, Valathia has long served as an example of what can happen to those who defy the Gods. Appearing as a once prosperous kingdom or city-state brought low by the Gods in the Book of Holies, the exact nature of, and cause for, the destruction of Valathia seems to have been lost to the depths of time. While reliable sources on the subject are notoriously difficult to find, historians generally agree that the nation interacted with its neighbors in the early centuries of the first millennium, after its ruination and fall from the grace of the Gods. By no later than 500, it was widely considered to be a benighted backwater, and by the year 1000 it had been all but forgotten as anything more than a point between ‘here’ and ‘there.’ Nonetheless, the turn of the aeon saw a handful of envoys dispatched by various monarchs to learn who was in charge of the place at that point in time, more out of idle curiosity than any real attempt at international diplomacy. Each and every one of those emissaries disappeared amidst the towering crags and gloomy depths of the Grimwold in the fallen kingdom, and it is unclear whether any of them even made it so far as Heidestadt, the foreboding village on the northern banks of the Deadwind River.

If records and rumors are to be believed, Valathia once stretched from Castle Gohlgoy in the west, south to what would eventually become the Abbey de Szent Vak Mariana of the Diadox Church, east to some sort of stronghold or fortification which can no longer be identified with any real certainty, and north to the Bleakstone Mountains, at the center of which perches the grim and towering edifice of its once-illustrious capital—Castle Hexenstein.

In the modern era, Valathia has served as a no man’s land between the Ayanian Empire and the Eilstern Demesnes. Neither side has made any lasting or successful effort at expanding into the area—the soil of Valathia is generally poor, the weather cold and forbidding. Long before the Harrowing, rumors swept across the countryside of strange creatures and worse lurking in the Grimwold, and tales of Valathian strangeness were often exchanged at many a tavern’s hearth. After the horrors of the Schism and the Forty Years’ War, Valathia was widely left to its own devices. Unfortunately, such a state of affairs was not to last, and in 1598, the Ayanian Empire was preparing to invade the Demesnes with a force of arms likely to crush all opposition. A number of battles were fought in the countryside south east of Andiva, though largely between Andivan forces bolstered by mercenaries and only the vanguard of the Imperial warmachine. It was just as the Imperial legions gathered in Maraq for their grand offensive that the effects of the Harrowing began to be keenly felt, with plagues wiping out the upper echelons of the empire, and the war essentially fizzled to a halt. Some saw this as the Gods siding with the Demesnes, but when the plagues continued on into the west with unremitting virulence, such voices were silenced. In any case, Valathia was spared being the battlefield of external powers, at least for awhile.

Today, few call the place home in the traditional sense. A handful of settlements eke out hard lives from the area. Vohdvoy, on the southern road, is a noted hub of commerce and sees to the needs of traders and caravans taking the overland route between the Empire and the Demesnes. Kingsmouth, on the coast, offers a place for maritime trade, and some say that smugglers offload goods from far off lands there to be drawn overland to Andiva, bypassing the tariffs and customs on port traffic. On the northern road are the forest village of Amertume, the Grange du Principe, and the largely abandoned river port of Grauhaken…