Dragons of Ethior
The barony of Dorien is a place of green valleys, fair woods, and deep blue rivers in the far west of Ethior. Long ruled by the line of royalty for whom the area was named, it is most well known for its mighty horses which have become prized throughout the known world. From its capital, also named Dorien, the white towers of the castle Turgon stand as a symbol of the Baron’s authority.
Geography & Population
Dorien sits at the top of the river Nelian which feeds into the Great River Arda in the west of Ethior. Its western border is the Gauroch Expanse, the great but sparse plains from whom Dorien’s mighty horses originate, although they are now bred through much of northern Dorien. These beasts are larger than most horses, stronger, more independent, and they do not scare easily. For these reasons they make unmatched war horses but ornery as laborers. Dorien warriors have rode them into battle armed with long spears for all of recorded history.
To the north and east is the wild and uncontrolled forest, Talu’s Haunt, and the the Nardil border town of Tuluford. Nardil is a smaller barony ruled by very distant relatives of the Dorien family and with whom Dorien shares many customs. Long ago, these regions were once united, but years of geographic separation caused by the corruption of the Haunt has fractured them as a coherent people. Still they have been friends and allies for centuries, and through Nardil the people of Dorien are in contact with the dwarves of the Steamrock Peaks. The crops of Dorien’s fertile valleys feed Nardil, and to some extent the dwarves as well, with goods passed up Arda by rivercraft.
The southwestern border of Dorien consists of the highest foothills of the the Stones of Vast, though few can mark the line precisely. Skirmishing with the Vastmen of the mountains is constant. They are a barbaric people, occasionally raiding farms west of the Fairwood. They have been held at bay for some time by the Barons but it is a tenuous hold. Iron and silver is mined from the low hills and these must be well protected to be maintained.
The southernmost point of Dorien is its great port city, Mulford, through which all trade up and down the Arda passes. Goods for all of east Ethior are often loaded and unloaded in Mulford and set for Halin’s Road through Marian’s Cross. Physically, the city stretches between Arda and a local tributary- it is bounded by the rivers. It is a diverse, urban mass with many ties to the people of Winterhaven, Marian’s Cross, and, less so, the elves of Red Leaf Forest. Mulford is also the smithing center for Dorien thanks to ore from the Vast hills. The clouds of ash from its smithing district can be seen from any any part of the city and some length down river. Mulford is run by a governor who answers directly to the Barion of Dorien and who is chosen by the landowners and merchant guilds of the city. At the time of the Black Scale Wars, this was Governor Nikolas Fallas, a shrewd older man loyal to the barony and, perhaps more so, the coin. He was a friend and fought alongside Gwydion III for many years but later sided with his son Aredhel and Thomas Merewood (see below), thus allowing him to maintain his control of the city.
Just to the northwest of Mulford lies its sister city, Benford, an agricultural center which acts as a clearinghouse for the crop yields of west and north Dorien. It is significantly smaller and less sophisticated than Mulford but vital to Dorien’s food supply and food exports. Local leaders and prominent families carry little authority, the true power of Benford being the governor of Mulford.
Dorien’s eastern border is and has always been the western bank of the Arda, running from Mulford to the Nardil town of Tuluford. The eastern bank is controlled by the people of Marian’s Cross, or Marians as they prefer to be called. Early during Thomas Merewood’s War of Ascension the two lands fought directly- as they had done several times in their history. Marian was quick to embrace Thomas and face its old adversary Dorien but the conflict was ended by Aredhel’s betrayal (see below). Now Dorien and the Marians have an uneasy, but only occasionally violent, relationship. The Marians, despite their name, have had little in the way of a maritime tradition and have historically ceded the river- and its cargo from the south- to Dorien. On the other hand, the Marians benefit from being a gateway for all of east Ethior on Halin’s Road, a fact that Dorien has long respected. Thus, the two baronies depend on one another although neither much likes it.
In north Dorien, its capital of the same name can be seen for miles. The castle at its center is Turgon, whose white stone towers are a symbol of the Baron’s authority and, in another time, the Baron’s justice. The city around the white castle is dense but well kept, its people historically well treated and thus well managed by the family that has forever wielded authority in the region. The city is walled but settlements extend beyond the walls contiguously for great lengths, small farms and horse pastures littering the valleys north of the city and deep into the Fairwood. The city’s port is active on the Nelian river which feeds into Arda.
Dorien was in times long forgotten a provincial capital for the great Empire that stretched across Ethior, and as some believe, all the world. For reasons unknown to most scholars, this Empire fell and Ethior became divided. Centuries of warfare ensued. Ultimately the westernmost part of the region was united under the family Dorien and it was forever named after them. It is said by some that the borders of Dorien once stretched as far south as Fangfen Marsh and north to the Steamrocks. This, however, is greatly disputed by historians. The only true consensus is that Doriens have never wielded authority beyond the Arda river.
In any event, the people of Dorien as we now know it have long embraced the family that bears the region’s name. From the keep of Caer Dorien, a country fortress alone in a valley between tributaries of the Nelian river, the Dorien bloodline has maintained the prosperity of the region. Doriens had often said “the throne is in Turgon, but power is in the valley”.
Generations before the Black Scale Wars, a great Baron named Gwydion came to power in Dorien. As a young lord he broke the hold of the wildmen in the foothills of Stones of Vast. Controlling these dry hills, with their iron and silver, led to great wealth for Dorien, already known for its mighty horses and the crop yields of its fertile valleys. Gwydion I shared the region’s wealth among the people of Dorien and his sons, and their sons, largely did the same. The many rural villages and farms of Dorien were well protected by mounted patrols and were allowed great freedom in their daily lives for some time. This was seen as much a practical benefit as a moral imperative by the Dorien family and lesser lords of the region. The independence of the Dorien people bears resemblance to that of their horses; better to wield that strength than oppose it.
Dorien was therefore a peaceful region and its people as free as any and prosperous for many years. Some thirty years into the reign of Gwydion III,Thomas Merewood and the Wars of Ascension reached the western world. The tyrant from Hector was determined to conquer all of Ethior. Dorien and her close ally, Nardil, however, stood together against him.
In the woodlands west of Arda, near the village of Mallist, the armies of the two baronies, bolstered by an elven regiment from Red Leaf Forest, met the forces Thomas had aligned against them. Chief among these were the Marians and the warriors of Ulianos, but men of Winterhaven also fought against their neighbors. At the end of the day the Baron of Dorien had led the western armies to victory, aided most by the charge of his son Aredhel’s calvary, but they all suffered great losses, including Gwydion’s elven son in law, Arawn Willowgreen. Many blamed Gwydion for this cost in blood though some call this unfair, knowing the great odds the western forces overcame. Still the puppets of Tyrranus were routed and Thomas had few forces himself this so from his throne. Thomas therefore bribed the youngest child of the Baron and hero at Mallist,Aredhel, to join him and betray Nardil in exchange for his father’s throne.
Aredhel thus swore fealty to Hector with much of the armies of Dorien , loyal to Aredhel for his bravery at Mallist and, more so, to Thomas’ money, joiing him. They turned on their neighbors in Nardil and in barely a day’s time, Aredhel had led his forces up the river and had sacked Nardil itself. Unable to defend his throne or unwilling to risk war in the city, Gwydion fled to Caer Dorien before his son’s armies returned to Dorien. At the family keep, the Baron, his daughter (the rightful heir) and her newborn son, Nadune, were put under house arrest by Aredhel, where they remained for many years.
Thus the Baron was no longer lord of Dorien under the Tyrant King’s law and Aredhel assumed the throne at Turgon. In private, however, the people of the region swore loyalty to Gwydion and his daughter Llyr in the valley. Though Aredhel knew of his people’s true allegiance he waited, knowing his father would not risk further war by attempting to regain his seat and that in short time his father would leave this world. As it came to pass, Aredhel got his wish just two months before his grandson Nadune’s twentieth year. The true Baron, Gwydion III, died in his sleep on midsummer’s day. He was mourned greatly by his people.
After Gwydion’s passing Aredhel forcibly moved his older sister Llyr, who was loved as deerly as their father, under his guard at the Castle Turgon, leaving the family keep to the wild. At Turgon, Llyr and Nadune were prisoners among the marble pillars and white stone. Nadune, however, disappeared shortly thereafter, knowing that Aredhel would murder him in time and that he had yet no power to stand against his uncle.
Thus the puppet Aredhel rules the barony of Dorien as a surrogate for Thomas Tyrannus, who collects the fruits of Dorien’s resources far in the east. Charged with defending the western borders of Ethior, the land now suffers under the pitiless rule of Aredhel who shares none of his father’s compassion or reason. Corruption and neglect now reign in Dorien and it has thus has lost much of its former wealth and power. The common people turn their eyes waywayd, longing for the return of the righteous lords of old or some other power to liberate them.