Bloodright : Rise of the Border Princes
The Barony of Bloodthorn
Bloodthorn Vale stands in the far north-western corner of The Mark – Land of the Iron Dragon, and formerly constituted the realm of Baron Vartak. A rough, foggy realm of pines and rough stony terrain, it lies between The Hellfurnaces and The Painted Peaks ranges, and is isolated in almost every conceivable way. The Upper Ox River crosses the vale, but did not have any hand in creating its terrain, before spilling into Lake Longbow.
A resource-rich, geologically active wilderness at the edge of civilization, it lies many day’s ride away from any other important settlement. it once acted as an important trade route, though very little trade now passes through its reaches, save a few daring merchants seeking furs, minerals and rare herbs from the handful of settlers in and around Frosthelm. Dwindling supplies of Darkwood and a handful of placer mines have managed to provide incentive for some treasure-hunters to seek this isolated valley, even today.
Outside of the villages of Frosthelm and Paddock, some small homesteads can be found, but these tend to be very small and poor holdings located high up in the reaches of the valley, away from everyone and everything. The ruined village of Maig Tuira has proven a fine example of what can happen to other communities not under the grip and protection of a strong leader. Far to the north, on the edge of the valley, lies the large village of Silverthane, independent, but allied to Stonefist and supportive of their efforts to tame the valley and bring peace to its people.
Easily the most important aspect of Bloodthorn Vale, is The Giant’s Wall, its Milecastles, and Fort Bloodthorn. This impressive series of fortifications were built to protect the border of Baron Vartak’s realm, and provide a base for his cohorts and mercenaries. Fort Bloodthorn itself, is the most important settlement in the valley, providing a full complement of services to visitors, though prices are high, and any who visit are closely watched. Definitely an administrative and military center, it is still the primary location of commerce in the valley, despite since falling into disrepair and facing the looting arm of uncontrolled orcish warriors.
The last important site in the valley, is Stonefist – Gateway to The Mark and its attendant, rebuilt village of Shadowfang – “Pebble”. Taken by the adventuring band, the “Fierce Creatures”, it was taken from a hobgoblin mercenary band in the employ of Baron Vartak, and has expanded its influence north into the valley, and back across the pass into Cygnus – The Swan Kingdom with an eye towards wresting complete control from the local humanoid hordes and their giant masters.
Long an important trade route across The Howling and north into Cygnus – The Swan Kingdom, the valley was rugged and distant enough from most settlements to attract few people interested in setting-down roots. Miners, lumberers and hunters came and went with the seasons, and merchants passed through the valley as they travelled between realms.
The first permanent settlement was Stonefist – Gateway to The Mark and its supporting village of Shadowfang – “Pebble”. Established in the early years of The Mark – Land of the Iron Dragon’s foundation, the fortress provided protection for the trade route, though its inhabitants rarely took an interest beyond a few miles travel from the trade road. Eventually, a small fishing village grew around a trade inn to the south, next to Lake Longbow, which is presently the site of Fort Bloodthorn.
Things changed with the Hateful Wars in 1042 TR. When the giant’s armies came to the valley, they enlisted the assistance of a human subject of King Mogthrasir of Tjalf, the Baron Vartak. Originally little more than leader of a band of human and hobgoblin mercenaries and orc engineers, he advised the army’s leader on the best means to assault the fortress. Building war machines and eventually calling on fire drake allies, the fortress was taken, and the expeditionary force moved across The Howling to sack Tir Feldar, though only a handful returned with tales of woe and a great battle fought against mages and priests of Cygnus – The Swan Kingdom.
For his help in taking the castle, Baron Vartak was given his title and took possession of the valley as a follower of King Mogthrasir. He quickly consolidated his position, and began turning the resources he had to begin fortifying his borders. He started with the construction of The Giant’s Wall, its Milecastles, and eventually fortifying and expanding the fishing village into Fort Bloodthorn.
In early 1049 TR, Stonefist – Gateway to The Mark came under assault by an adventuring company, called “Fierce Creatures”. They claimed the fortress as their own, and first began recruitment efforts in the region to threaten to take the valley back from Baron Vartak and his horde, The Dark Sun. Eventually, having eliminated the warriors of
The death of Vartakathraxus and his alias, Baron Vartak has created a power vacuum. The town and fortifications he had built with an iron grip, are under the control of a tenuous coalition of orcs, goblins and dark men, ruled by his former commander of the orcish quarter Lurg, but they control little else. In the past year, they have plundered practically everything they can get a grip on, leaving the town of Bloodthorn an increasingly haunted mess.
The roads are fairly open, given to raids from either the orcs of Fort Bloodthorn, or the ever-increasingly bold Snowreach Rangers and [[:, against each other. Stonefist – Gateway to The Mark and Tir Feldar, as well as the northern valley settlements of Frosthelm, Silverthane and Paddock lie under the influence of the Fierce Creatures, who also support the Snowreach Rangers in their raids. The plans of Baron Vartak, including his vast treasury, have mostly fallen into the claws of the Fierce Creatures, as they bandy among some of the lesser tribes for allies in a final push to claim the valley (and perhaps beyond) their own. Their control of the mercenary army The Band of the Red Hand placed them in a position to move forward on their conquests.
In mid-1050 TR, the valley was officially claimed by the Fierce Creatures_, with their armed
capture of Fort Bloodthorn by their cobbled together army of northern militia, fey and gnoll huntsmen, with the bulk of the direct fighting taken on by The Band of the Red Hand mercenary company. The future of the new realm remains unknown at this time, but the former human settlers and fey creatures of the realm are starting to notice the sudden changes…