The Approaching Storm
History of Brevoy
For more than a thousand years, the Surtovas ruled the lands of Issia along the central southern banks of the Lake of Mists and Veils. This long-lived family of pirates and scoundrels is known to be made up of crafty schemers. Lacking both natural resources and a large population, Issia has never possessed anything like a mighty military force, and has traditionally survived by outsmarting its enemies.
While the Issians toiled in the northern reaches of this harsh landscape, the much more forgiving southern plains were colonized by Taldan explorers, arriving under the leadership of Baron Sirian First, a fiery, impulsive noble forced to emigrate from Taldor after losing one too many duels. They named this realm Rostland. In the early days of the colony, bandits struck from hidden camps in the River Kingdoms, nearly destroying the budding colony before it had a chance to get started. The bandit leader was himself a master swordsman and challenged the baron to a wager: half the baron’s fortune against the bandit’s head. Unable to pass up the challenge, Baron First took the wager and was broadly humiliated by an ignoble defeat. After he paid the bandit, he disappeared for several years. Most assumed he had f led to another land, too ashamed to show his face after such a defeat.
The people were surprised when the baron returned several years later a changed man, a swordsman the likes of whom the world had never before seen. Calling himself Sirian Aldori, he promptly challenged the bandit lord to a rematch, whereupon he disarmed and defeated the bandit in seconds. Reestablishing his rule, Baron Aldori issued an open challenge of 100,000 gp to anyone who could beat him in a duel of swords. Thousands answered the challenge from across the world. Some were earnest and honorable duelists, while others tried to cheat with magic or other tricks. It didn’t matter. Sirian defeated them all, forever cementing his reputation as the greatest swordsman in the world. At first, Sirian refused to teach his techniques, but eventually he selected a small group to train. He made them change their names to Aldori and to swear an oath not to reveal anything they learned to someone not of the swordpact. Through the generations that followed, Sirian’s pupils became known as the Aldori swordlords, a force
feared throughout the continent.
Then, in 4499 ar, the delicate balance of power between Issia and Rostland fractured as a mysterious Iobarian warlord named Choral the Conqueror stormed into the region at the head of an army and with the allegiance of several red dragons. Choral confronted the Surtovas on the shores of the Lake of Mists and Veils, and they surrendered immediately to the powerful warlord and were therefore spared the retribution that nearly destroyed their southern neighbors in Rostland. For most of the following 2 centuries, the descendants of Choral the Conqueror, powerful House Rogarvia, led the people of two formally separate (and vastly different) nations, gradually welding them together to forge the nation of Brevoy.
During that time, the Surtovas worked, slowly and carefully, to advance their position in
the royal hierarchy of Brevoy—and their diligence paid off when the Rogarvias mysteriously disappeared nearly a decade ago.
Government of Brevoy
In the middle of winter in early 4699 ar, every member of House Rogarvia vanished without a trace. Rumors flew of palace coups and siniste rplots, but it quickly became clear that what had occurred was something altogether stranger than a mere rebellion. There was no evidence of foul play or struggle within the royal palace, nor in any of the noble villas owned by the Rogarvias throughout the land—the nobles were simply gone, leaving empty manors scattered across Brevoy. A brief period of chaos and panic followed, but by the end of the year, the Surtovas had made their move. Citing their ageold ties with the Conqueror’s line, they were quick to seize power in New Stetven and extend their reach across Brevoy.
With all of Issia seemingly backing the move, Rostland (whose standing army and defenses had increasingly been shifted north during Rogarvian rule) had little choice but to bend its knee again. Today, King Noleski Surtova holds the Ruby Fortress and the Dragonscale Throne, yet it remains to be seen how long he can maintain his rule over a kingdom growing increasingly fractious.
Today, seven great noble houses dominate Brevoy’s political landscape. Most of these date back to before the arrival of the Conqueror, when they existed as powerful tribes of raiders and barbarians. Choral apportioned lands and titles to those lords willing to pledge fealty to him,
reordering the houses into their modern forms. The current houses of Brevoy are as follows:
- House Garess: Based in the eastern foothills of the Golushkin Mountains, House Garess has many strong ties to regional dwarven clans.
- House Lebeda: This house controls much of the plains southwest of Lake Reykal, as well as much of the shipping interests on the lake itself.
- House Lodovka: Located on Acuben Isle and the central northern coast, House Lodovka has the strongest presence on the Lake of Mists and Veils, having never abandoned their traditional waterborne ways.
- House Medvyed: The easternmost house, Medvyed claims much of the Gronzi Forest. They are a hardy folk who remain associated with the “Old Ways” of worshiping nature.
- House Orlovsky: Northeastern Brevoy is controlled by House Orlovsky, a family that traditionally seeks to remain above petty politics.
- House Rogarvia: Until recently, House Rogarvia ruled Brevoy. Their recent disappearance has thrown the nation into chaos.
- House Surtova: The most inf luential Brevic house, Surtova is also its oldest. They control Port Ice and much of northwestern Brevoy.
- Gronzi Forest: The dark expanse of the Gronzi Forest is simply “the Forest” to the people of Brevoy. It extends from the highlands of the Icerime Peaks to the shores of Lake Reykal, forming part of the old border between Issia and Rostland. Although technically the forest belongs to the
Brevic crown, hunting and even woodcutting is largely unregulated around its outskirts, particularly in the western reaches. The stretch of forest nearest New Stetven was largely cleared generations ago to obtain wood needed to rebuild and maintain the city, and Brevic woodcutters must delve deeper each year to meet their needs.
- Icerime Peaks: The Icerime Peaks wall off most of Brevoy from the former lands of Iobaria to the east. Their heights are perpetually covered in ice, even in the summer months, when cold rivers tumble and cascade down their sides, forming towering waterfalls and clear mountain lakes. The late spring thaws open what passes there are through the mountains, although few make use of them. Skywatch is by no means the only ancient site in the Icerime Peaks. Tales tell of half-buried entrances to mountain dungeons, some of them outposts of old Iobaria, others even older. Some of the ruins are said to be haunted by the chill shades of soldiers or miners who perished there, still guarding whatever treasures they found in life.
- New Stetven: Choral’s rough-and-tumble capital at New Stetven is a bustling trade city despite the recent collapse of its aristocracy. Grain, fish, timber, and ore f low from Brevoy through New Stetven and out to the rest of the north. The food from Brevoy sustains much of the River Kingdoms, Numeria, and Mendev, where constant bandit raids and invading demonic armies make
farming difficult, and most of that food passes through New Stetven. In return, exotic goods from all corners of Avistan (and beyond) f low back up the Sellen River to New Stetven. Although bandits and robbers in the River Kingdoms are still a serious obstacle to trade, the market
nevertheless offers a wide variety of goods, from Numerian skymetal to Osirian relics.
Port Ice: House Surtova’s ancestral lands extend south and east from Port Ice. Although connected
to the lakeshore villages by a reasonably well maintained road, Port Ice is locked behind its walls for much of the cold winter months, mainly accessible by sled and visited only by the occasional foolhardy traveler.
The rest of the year, the city’s residents stockpile all the supplies needed for the next season. The White Manor is the Surtova ancestral seat, currently in the care of King Noleski’s uncle, Domani Surtova.
- Restov: Nowhere is the Rostlandic spirit more alive than in the Free City of Restov. The city owes its allegiance to the Brevic crown, and Lord Mayor Ioseph Sellemius must bend his knee
before the Dragonscale Throne like any lord, but otherwise Restov belongs to no house, making it a haven for the lost glories of the Aldori swordlords and those who look back to the old days before the coming of the Conqueror. Restov is a city of both refinement and roughand-tumble manners, as only a colony can be in fondly recalling and imitating its motherland. The gentry of Restov consider themselves sophisticates, although a Taldan visitor would think their ways quaint and touched with no small amount of northern barbarism. Restov’s relative wealth supports no small number of idle and titled lordlings and merchants’ sons. They frequent the various
Aldori and Taldan dueling schools, as well as the alehouses, and fight each other in street corner challenges at dawn and dusk. The schools, salons, and taprooms of Restov are also hotbeds of rebellious talk against the reign of King Noleski Surtova, with young firebrands in search of a leader to rally them to the cause.
- Skywatch: High in the mountains along the eastern border of Brevoy is the city of Skywatch. This city is built around a massive observatory that predates any known settlement in the region. Despite its age, the observatory is perfectly preserved and maintained by powerful magic. Exactly who built the observatory and why are unknown, although the building is clearly meant to accommodate beings much larger than humans. In the early days of Issia, the Surtovas established a small outpost adjacent to the observatory to study it. The Aldori captured and fortified this outpost during one of the long wars between Issia and Rostland. After Choral conquered the rest of Rostland, Skywatch remained the seat of independent Aldori power for a few years, before the conqueror and his dragons burned the fortress to the ground. After razing the
fortress, Choral took a great deal of interest in the observatory and began a massive project to unearth and restore it. House Rogarvia continued his work, and the current city of Skywatch was built to serve this project. Despite the scale of the project, its exact goals and much of the work remain shrouded in secrecy. On the day the Rogarvias disappeared, Skywatch sealed itself off completely from the outside world, refusing to allow anyone—even supply caravans—into or out of the settlement. So far, no message sent to Skywatch has received a reply, and divination magic cannot penetrate its walls.
- Valley of Fire: In the southern Icerime Peaks lies the mountain valley where Aldori rebels fought their last battle against the forces of Choral the Conqueror. They were lured into the valley with the hope of cornering Choral, but instead found themselves in a trap when the Conqueror’s red dragon allies bathed the valley in fire, wiping out the men of Rostland. To this day, the Valley of Fire is an infamous place where life refuses to return to the blackened
and melted earth; and here the tortured shades of dead soldiers are rumored to linger, seen in
the night as fiery shadows seething with a burning hatred for the living.
into or out of the settlement.