The Singing Mercenaries
The Kingdom of Nerath
The Kingdom of Nerath is a human kingdom located southwest of Lyria, the largest of Rantalia’s continents. It was created 331 years ago after the first Iron Monarch, Alror I, known as “Alror the Great”, brought many warring human warlords together in order to combat the Drow menace threatening the entire human population.
The sovereign of Nerath is referred to as the “Iron Monarch.” This dates back to the founding of the Kingdom, when Alror accepted a simple iron circlet as his crown from the various warlords he had brought under his control. This crown is still worn by the ruler of the Kingdom. It is an apt name, as rulers of Nerath have historically been steadfast in their dedication to their country. There are only two who have ever been considered unfit for the throne, and they were quickly deposed in quick, bloody coups.
Succession to the crown was originally determined by combat: Alror’s philosophy was that the strongest warrior needed to lead the people, and thus instituted this method. A lord had the right to challenge the wearer of the Iron Crown to single combat for the right to rule, however this practice was halted in 41 by Tyrius I. Tyrius instituted the current tradition of determining succession by apointment because the older tradition encouraged the death of monarchs, something he realized would jeapordize the kingdom in the long run. It is customary for the ruling monarch to name an heir from their family shortly after they are crowned, however the monarch may technically name any Lord Marshall as heir to the throne, and monarchs have been known to change their mind. Rebellions not withstanding, only one exception to the rule of succession has ever been made.
Nerath is currently ruled by Queen Alraisa Valorfast II.
See here for a chronology of the Iron Monarchs.
There are ten provinces in the Kingdom, each ruled over by a single Lord Marshall. These ten Lord Marshalls form the Council of Lords, the advisory body to the Iron Monarch. They are each to be considered the finest warriors in the land, and are trained to be such from birth. They typically specialize in one type of warfare, ranging from naval combat in the case of Sirius Valorfast, frontline warfare in the case of Lord Rhine, to battlemagic, in the case of Lord Kyras. These specializations are typically handed down from one Lord or Lady to the next, although occasionally parents will send their successors to the court of another province in order to learn a different discipline (and sometimes as political hostages). Each lord takes the honorific of the province over which they rule. For example, Sirius Valorfast may style himself “Lord Lannister” after the province he rules over. The Council of Lords typically only meets in times of war, and has not been convened in 70 years. Lord Marhsalls typically appoint their heirs in the same manner as the rulers of the Kingdom, however if they have no heirs or if they fail in their duty, their family can be stripped of their rank and lands. Lord Marshalls may appoint someone from another noble family as an heir as well.
Lord Marshalls typically do not concern themselves with the running of their provinces. This is typically left to the Lord Wardens and the administrators, although a Lord Marshall is, by right, in control of everything within their province. Their main duties are to maintain the military forces of Nerath. It was the Lord Marshalls who had the right to challenge the Iron Monarch for the crown, when that custom was still in practice.
Below the Lord Marshalls are the Lord Wardens. These are the hereditary lords of smaller towns and are expected to make the everyday affairs of their assigned towns and regions operate smoothly. Although they are not the great military commanders of Nerath, many of them are accomplished warriors and are responsible for the defense of their local area. Unlike Lord Marshalls, who can appoint their heirs, the title of Lord Warden is completely hereditary. If a Lord Warden has no heirs, the title will pass on to anyone their commanding Lord Marshall deems fit.
The title of Lord Warden was created in 111 by Tyrius II. Officially, the title was made to create hereditary lords who would aid in administrating the kingdom, leaving the Lord Marshalls to deal with military affairs. Secretly, Tyrius feared the influence of the Markelhay family, who held great power in their dealings with Kardath and Narlasil. In order to prevent the Markelhays from gaining more influence, and possibly the crown, Tyrius created the title of Lord Warden and made the Markelhay ruler of Fallcrest at the time its Warden. In doing so, he removed the possibility of the Markelhay family claiming the crown, as the monarch must choose a Lord Marshall or a family member to succeed the throne, and even Lord Marshalls hardly ever rose to that position.
When Nerath was first founded, it enjoyed the excellent relations with its northern neighbors, the Dwarven lands of Kardath and the Elven forests of Narlasil. Alror the Great cemented strong relations with these two nations through defeating the Drow, who had long menaced Kardath and Narlasil as well as the Nerathian region. Despite his warlike nature, Alror realized the fledling country could not make war, or even survive, without help from its neighbors, even after the Drow had been defeated, and so established trade relations with both nations. Fallcrest was the result of a commission by Alror to Aranda Markelhay to establish a town that would maintain relations with both of Nerath’s bordering nations. Aranda, like her monarch, was an excellent diplomat and managed to establish firm trade with the dwarves and elves, which flourished for 130 years.
Relations between Nerath and its neighbors began to sharply decline during the reign of Dannic I, a mentally unstable monarch whose reign was shortlived. In his fragile mental state, Dannic suspected both elves and dwarves of plotting against him, and because of this he stopped trade with both nations and made agressive military overtures as well. Depsite Dannic’s short time as ruler, the long memories of elves and dwarves have made it hard to repair relations. Although the official status between Nerath and its neighbors is tenuous at best, unofficially, Fallcrest maintains excellent ties to its neighbors, making its Lord Warden a powerful political figure in spite of being excluded from the Council of Lords. Nerath keeps a close eye on its eastern border, especially maintained by Lord Cloudwatch and Lord Renfir.
The Kingdom is also currently at peace with the pirate confederacy of the Rending Seas, mainly due to the recent actions of Sirius Valorfast. Nerath constantly maintains a vigil on its eastern border for any return of the Drow, but there have been no problems between the two regions in over 70 years.
Humans are the dominant race in the Kingdom. It is rare to see another race in the capitol or the southern provinces, both because of their distance from the homeland of other races, and because those regions are highly intolerant of other races. Most other races, especially shifters, dragonborn and halflings are treated with great disdain. In the north and east, however, especially in the Nentir Valley, other races are welcome and even live among humans. Fallcrest is known especially for its population of dwarves, and elves are occasionally seen as well. The exception to this rule are tieflings, who are honored in the south (as in the case of Serim Saluzar) for their history as the most powerful race at one point, and feared in the north for their historical dealings with infernal entities.
The Kingdom is divided into 10 provinces. Both the capitol and Lord Marshall of each province are named the same as their respective province. The ten provinces are Fenrir, Cloudwatch, Kyras, Lannister, Ilan, Doin, Falstad, Rhine, Jotun and Kamas. They were originally named by Pellinus, in recognition of the other powerful warlords who had banded together under Alror the Great’s banner to repulse the Drow threat to the east. King’s Reach, the royal seat, is located northwest of Ilan, overlooking Dagger Bay on a high cliff. It is defended in the east by the Stormwatch Mountains, in the south by Daggercap Bay, and to the West by the province of Ilan.
Nerath has a varied geography. It features two important mountain ranges: the Cloudwatch Mountains in the Southeast, which forms a natural barrier to the Drow lands, and the Stormwatch Mountains in the province of Kamas, which has historically protected the province of Ilan from the heavy summer storms that surge into Nerath from the south. Seperating the western provinces from the rest of the Kingdom are the Ironguard Cliffs, a massive cliff wall that spans the entire region from north to south, starting at the Stormwatch Mountains and traveling north to the coast of the Drakefire Sea.
Nerath’s other dominating feature is the Nentir river, which runs from the Kingdom’s northeastern tip, at Fallcrest, all the way to it’s southern peninsula, which the city of Lannister sits at. The Nentir flows through Telmet’s Tears, a gigantic lake which surrounds the island of Yslir, upon which the capitol of Kyras sits.
Nerath’s official patron god is Kord, the god of war. This is, of course, unsurprising for a warrior nation, although many of the lower classes worship many different deities. This is especially true in the more Northern provinces, where contact with the elves and dwarves is pronounced. Temples to Sehanine, Corellon, Moradin and Pelor can all be found in the north. Queen Alraisa is a devout follower of Kord.