gvdammerung writes "The Chronicles of Keoland begins with a discussion of the reign of the first king of Keoland, Nyhan I. In Keoland's earliest days, the nation was still forming, still developing institutions, customs and protocols that are now, some 800 years later, taken for granted. Nothing, however, was certain about Keoland's future when its first king was crowned. Much has changed with the passage of centuries and to look back in time is to know a very different Keoland, a Keoland that only time and experience would transform into the nation that is now thought of as almost synonomous with the Sheldomar Valley.
Turn now to the first stirrings of the Kingdom of Keoland and its king, Nyhan I. Much will be familiar. More will be different. Future entries in the Chronicles of Keoland will continue the kingdom's story through its monarchs. In the process, the kingdom's history and development will be revealed - how what was came to be what is.
The Chronicles of Keoland - Nyhan I
by Glenn Vincent Dammerung aka GVDammerung@yahoo.com
Ruler - Nyhan I, called The First King
House -Neheli, Prince of House Neheli
Reign -1st King of Keoland, -342CY to -314 CY (28 years)
Fate - Died on throne
Queen - Sohaemias
History - The Suel of House Neheli first moved to establish a kingdom in the Sheldomar Valley. At the Great Council of Niole Dra, in -342CY, the Neheli brokered the agreement whereby the Kingdom of Keoland came into being. Named after the Oeridian Keogh people, the rule of the Kingdom of Keoland was to pass by tacit agreement between the Suel House of Neheli and the Suel House of Rhola, with the Oeridian Keogh acting as electors or kingmakers within a Court of the Land, that would include all of the great nobles of the kingdom. Nyhan, a Prince of House Neheli, was elected as the first king of Keoland.
Nyhan I’s reign was dominated by efforts to establish the workings of a new government and the prosecution of war against those Suel Houses, as well as recalcitrant Oeridian and Flan groups, who did not immediately agree to join the new order in the Sheldomar. In the first instance, Nyhan I was left almost entirely to his own devices, indeed, his titularly subject nobles all but ignored their new king in favor of advancing their own agendas and policies within their hereditary lands. In the second instance, Nyhan I acted only as an ineffective break on the Neheli, Rhola and Keogh bent on wiping out all opposition to the new kingdom. The so-called House Wars were, in fact, a scorched earth cleansing of the Sheldomar. Nyhan I’s role in the House Wars was as a figurehead, an instrument of others’ policies, carried out independently. Indeed, Nyhan I was almost the only voice not calling for blood and more blood, for Nyhan I was no Suel chauvinist.
Sub Rosa - Nyhan I was selected to be king, indeed to be named a prince of House Neheli, not because of his ability but for no better reason than that he was not incompetent and was acceptable to all concerned. He reigned not as a monarch so much as the instrument of the Princes of Neheli and their conspirators in House Rhola and among the Keogh. Only in the fashioning of the early court was Nyhan I allowed to follow his own dictates.
But even largely ignored in matters of policy, Nyhan I would not escape the machinations of his liegemen, lately his betters. As they mouthed platitudes of support for the new king and hollowly pledged their service, they ensured he would enjoy no posterity. An heir would prove inconvenient. An heir might be too naturally placed upon the still nascent Lion Throne and it would set a precedent contrary to a future chosen by the Neheli and Rhola. Thus was Nyhan I carefully poisoned that he would be made impotent and produce no child. Yet, the conspirators would be confounded.
In the years before the Great Council of Niole Dra, Nyhan was his own man, if of no particular prominence. Clean limbed. Bright, if no great thinker. Pleasant, with a flexibility that his betters would take for being suitably tractable. These traits would see to Nyhan’s ultimate accession to the Lion Throne, but beforehand they would see to a less prominent but more personal popularity. Young Nyhan attracted his share of attention, and not the least from women of his acquaintance, which all told might have been greater had his line not been, in fact, cadet among the Neheli.
No such social circumstance, however, impeded Nyhan’s youthful relationship with the elven maiden, an ambassador of Celene in the burgeoning lands of the Sheldomar, who would bear his child. While the existence of Nyhan I’s line in Celene would eventually become known to the Neheli and Rhola, it would come only after Nyhan’s ascension to the Lion Throne as the first king of Keoland.
To the Neheli, and especially the Rhola, the existence of Nyhan I’s heir and subsequent line of children presented a cause for considerable consternation. An heir of the First King could too easily occasion dynastic thoughts, whether legitimately or merely conveniently. But Celene would prove beyond the reach and beyond the power of the Neheli and Rhola. In the fullness of time, the children of Nyhan I would take their place, quietly, in the affairs of Keoland. And Nyhan would be avenged upon those who thought to so intimately wrong him.
Magic - Early magical tradition in Keoland was robust, descending from the Suel tradition of the late Imperium. The Mages of Power who had made the perilous crossing of the great dividing range having long passed away in legendry, their acolytes remained and, if not as puissant, were still far more formidable than those not of their tradition. These early Heirs of Power in greatest measure eschewed politics and politicking, declining even advisory positions among the Suel nobility and substantial offers of patronage. In all things, they preferred to follow their own paths, such was the dedication necessary to master the forces they could command. The nobility of nascent Keoland were then forced to settle for altogether lesser sorts of practitioners of the arcane to advise them.
The fate of the Heirs of Power remains a hotly, if quietly, debated topic. While numerous tales relate their exploits in the period just after the Great Migrations up to the founding of Keoland, beginning in the reign of Nyhan I, the Heirs of Power are much less heard from, seeming to simply vanish from the historical record. Whether they achieved some great magical work and departed for the planes, fell afoul of their own ambitions and were laid low, chose to remove themselves from the new kingdom for their own reasons, were removed by the Houses of Neheli and Rhola as potential threats to their aspirations, or simply grew old and passed beyond mortal ken, none can say with any certainty. The mystery is enduring.
Magical Tome - The Dragon Bone Scrolls. When the Suel fleeing the destruction of the Imperium first emerged from Slerotin’s tunnel, much to their surprise, they found more of a pristine wilderness than they had ever dared to dream. While the land was populated and dangers that had to be overcome abounded, nothing proved insurmountable nor sufficient to halt expansion into the greater Sheldomar Valley. Of these times, few reliable records exist, fewer still that predate the Suel. One such is the collection of writings known as the Dragon Bone Scrolls, for the use of dragon bones in the manufacture of a set of ancient scrolls.
Written in a stylized form of Flan, the Dragon Bone Scrolls offer some explanation for the paucity of threats in the immediate area where Slerotin’s tunnel opened into the Flanaess, and hint at what may have been the fate of the Heirs of Power. The text speaks of a great struggle between an unusually mighty dragon, Ashardalon, and indigenous human and demi-human populations. While the dragon was laid low, the struggle devastated the immediate vicinity. If dating of the Dragon Bone Scrolls is accurate, this conflict would have occurred between 200 and 300 years prior to the Suel migrations.
Of Ashardalon, much is said of his great might and greater evil, most notably that he was a great corrupter of power and the powerful. Of interest to scholars, the Dragon Bone Scrolls also speak of the great wrym’s Disciple. While the Scrolls make it clear that Ashardalon was defeated, the dragon grievously wounded and forced to flee, the Scrolls are virtually silent as to the fate of the Disciple of Ashardalon. There are hints in the text that the Disciple of Ashardalon abandoned his master in his hour of need, going to ground lest he be sacrificed in the great wyrm’s stead. If the Disciple of Ashardalon survived, his interest in the appearance of the Heirs of Power would have been pronounced. Some speculate a twilight struggle between the lesser servants of once powerful masters ultimately doomed both. Such speculation is nothing more than that, not the least because the original Dragon Bone Scrolls are reputed to now be in the close keeping of the Silent Ones and not available to those outside that Order.
Religion - In that period prior to the founding of Keoland, the various noble houses, Suel and Oeridian, had each had various faiths which they patronized moreso than any others. While such patronage was rarely militant or fanatic, it was to avoid a potential source of division and conflict that the Founding Charter of Keoland forbid the establishment of any state religion within the new kingdom. This prohibition was, however, more adhered to by the noble and royal houses than by the temples and churches themselves.
In what may be roughly analogized to the secular House Wars, the faiths of Keoland sought to establish their hegemony in regions where their faithful were present, prosecuting almost war against rival faiths. In the north, the lands of the Neheli thus came to be dominated by the temples of Wee Jas, while in the south, lands of the Rhola came to be similarly dominated by the temples of Kord. In both cases, the alliance between the temples of Wee Jas and Kord and the royal houses of Neheli and Rhola, respectively, became so strong that temple armies fought alongside the respective household armies during the House Wars as virtual auxiliaries.
In those lands held by the Oeridian Keogh, no one faith so clearly achieved dominance as that of Wee Jas among the Neheli and Kord among the Rhola. However, among the various Oeridian faiths, that of Velnius, and the allied Oeridian wind or seasonal gods - Atroa, Sotillion, Wenta and Telchur - became most notably prominent. Taken together, these gods had immense significance for the Oeridians agriculturally and were venerated as a group. In the southernmost areas of Keoland, closer to the sea, the celestial father of these deities, Procran, enjoyed an equal prominence.
While the so-called Temple Purges of Nyhan I’s reign served to consolidate temple power in almost every area of the newborn kingdom, nowhere did that power become absolute. There were simply too many other faiths willing to answer calls for aid from their faithful. While notable successes saw to the initial consolidation, after easy victories where one temple or another enjoyed a clear numerical advantage or significant patronage, subsequent efforts to complete the process floundered as rival faiths, strong in their own regions, began to funnel aid to their co-religionists in the minority elsewhere. The result was stalemate and the establishment of a rough, pluralistic status quo.
Historic Site - The Field of Lachrimos. Site of one of the fiercest battles, and perhaps the greatest massacre, of the Temple Purges, the Field of Lachrimos saw the forces of the temple of Kord destroy those of Pelor. The Pelorians, having agreed to remove themselves from the Duchy of Gradsul, had decamped with their followers and treasury, ostensibly under a flag of truce agreed to by the Kordites, when they were treacherously set upon. While the Pelorians fought bravely, numbers and surprise proved their cause hopeless. The followers of Pelor, numbering in the thousands, were slaughtered to a person. Despite diligent searching by the priests of Kord, however, the treasury of the temple of Pelor was never found. Since the battle, the Field of Lachrimos, variously located, has proven elusive to treasure hunters, many of whom have simply vanished, lending credence to the belief that Lachrimos is haunted by the spirits of the fallen.
Tournaments - The earliest precursor to the tourney or tournament now widely known is the hastilude. Initially an Oeridian institution, a hastilude is an agreed to contest between two groups of knights who are armed as if for war.
With no set field of combat, a hastilude could range far and wide over a considerable area of the countryside. In the conduct of a hastilude, there were no set rules, except the conditions for victory - defeat or surrender. As a consequence, it was not uncommon for a hastilude to occasion considerable loss of life or injury among the participants and equal loss of property among landholders in the area of the hastilude.
Among Oeridian knights, hastiludes were great pastimes, training for actual warfare and an opportunity to make money. Defeated knights would either have their belongings taken by their vanquisher or would have to pay an agreed upon ransom. Among the Suel, the hastilude was slower to catch on. However, by the reign of Nyhan I, hastiludes were common throughout the lands of the new kingdom of Keoland. While the House Wars offered abundant opportunities for knights to engage in actual combat, when not on campaign, hastiludes were endemic among the knightly class.
Honors, Grants, Decrees and Orders - In addition to setting down those protocols that would govern the Court of the Land, nee the Council of Niole Dra, Nyhan I’s most lasting achievement was the chartering of the Brotherhood of Harbingers, the guild of Keoland’s heralds. If the Court of the Land is in official theory Keoland’s chiefmost administrative or deliberative body, among whose principle responsibilities are included levying taxes, adjudicating disputes among the nobility and approving the succession, the Brotherhood of Harbingers functions more or less officially as Keoland’s civil service.
Nobles may deputize their herald to sit and speak for them in the Court of the Land (indeed many heralds are related to those they serve). Heralds then widely proclaim the decisions and decrees of the Court and the King and also monitor individual compliance therewith. While heralds owe allegiance to those nobles they serve, they also owe allegiance to the Brotherhood of Harbingers. The Brotherhood must recognize a herald’s appointment and position for any herald to be generally acknowledged and treated as such. In turn, the Brotherhood is chartered by and is thereby answerable to the Lion Throne. While individual ministers, seneschals, chamberlains and reeves may not be heralds, most either employ heralds or work with them on a daily basis.
In this fashion, Nyhan I set in place a vehicle by which the Lion Throne may remain abreast of developments in individual courts throughout Keoland and may subtly influence those events. Caught somewhat in the middle between the nobility and the king, the Brotherhood of Harbingers has of necessity adopted a stance of strictly flexible neutrality, compromising all parties by turn, when such is deemed appropriate by the High Heralds who lead the Brotherhood.
Literature - Early Keolandish literature is dominated by historical records or documents of one type or another. Unfortunately, not a great deal of literature of any kind was carried with the Suel into the Sheldomar Valley from the old Imperium. For many of the same reasons, pre-kingdom literature from the Sheldomar is very sketchy. To Nyhan I’s credit, he recognized the utility of collecting what documents could be found in general circulation relating to both the pre-kingdom period of Keoland and the old Suel Imperium. The result is the massive 2 volume Eastern Archive of the Suel. Collected in volume one are those materials relating to the Imperium. Volume two collects pre-kingdom material. Neither volume is truly organized, each being a compilation or collection of what was then available. Today the Eastern Archive is exceedingly rare, never having been republished.
Wine - Wine, as it is commonly understood, was not produced by the Flan of the Sheldomar Valley prior to the Migrations. While both the Suel and the Oeridians had a history of viniculture, only the Suel transported that specific knowledge with them when entering the Sheldomar Valley, bringing with them cuttings from the old Imperium. Of the transplanted varietals, only the most hardy survived. The red garnacha grape and the white gravina produced the most notable wines. While neither produced the finest sort of wine, both were capable of eminently good wines of a heavy or rich character. Of the two, garnacha was judged the finer. Neither, however, aged well beyond a lustrum.
Garnacha (Red) (Ages 1-5yrs)
Gravina (White) (Ages 1-3yrs)
Arts - Pottery. Black Gloss. Pottery in the old Suel Imperium had risen to a fine art. Unfortunately, the distinctive ceramics of the Imperium were impossible for the Suel migrating into the Flanaess to duplicate. Much of the knowledge of the Imperium was lost and the clays unique to the Imperial Style were not to be found in the Flanaess. Per force, the Suel of the Flanaess had to develop their own styles grounded in their retained skills and the materials at hand.
Among the Suel settling in the Sheldomar Valley, the Neheli first developed a unique style of pottery. Utilizing a black clay, the Neheli produced pottery of a pitch black color that possessed a high shine or gloss beyond what might be expected from a clear glaze. Called Black Gloss, this pottery was decorated with incised patterns or geometric raised reliefs. The Black Gloss Style predominated in the period prior to the founding of the Kingdom of Keoland and for a brief time thereafter.
Treasures - The Crown of Nyhan I. With the decision to name Nyhan I the first King of Keoland, a royal crown was commissioned. A simple design, the Crown of Nyhan I was an open gold circlet, one inch in width, set with rubies, sapphires and diamonds. Raised points around the circumference of the crown were fashioned in the likeness of the Keolandish lion.
The Crown of Nyhan I was worn by every Keoland monarch through Lanchaster I. It was lost during the Battle of Longspear and has yet to be recovered. While not actively searched for after so long a time, the recovery of the crown of the first kings of Keoland would be of tremendous import historically to the Lion Throne. The value of the crown would far outweigh the gold and jewels that were used in its construction.
Coinage - The first King of Keoland, Nyhan I established the foundation for future Keolandish currency. Of necessity, Early Kingdom coins are uniformly plain edged. The early mints simply could not produce a finer edge. Denominations of coins are limited to the Solidus (GP), the Groat (SP) and the Farthing (CP), as commerce was then not such to require much more. Farthings dominate the mintings as trade was yet so limited in its scope there was less need for silver and gold currency. All coinage during the reign of Nyhan I was minted in Niole Dra and dated by year of reign.
Nyhan I Solidus (Military bust with the Keoland Lion, couchant on the obverse)
(Anno 2, -341 CY) Fair/Good = Rare, VG = V Rare
(Anno 10, -333 CY) Fair/Good = Rare, VG =V Rare
Nyhan I Silver Jubilee Solidus (Military bust with the Keoland Lion, couchant on the obverse)
(Anno 25, -316 CY) Fair/Good = V Rare, VG = Antique
Nyhan I Groat (Military bust with the Keoland Lion, couchant on the obverse)
(Anno 3, -340 CY) Fair/Good = Rare, VG = V Rare
(Anno 10, -333 CY) Fair/Good = Rare, VG =V Rare
Nyhan I Silver Jubilee Groat (Military bust with the Keoland Lion, couchant on the obverse)
(Anno 25, -316 CY) Fair/Good = V Rare, VG = Antique
Nyhan I Farthing (Military bust with the Keoland Lion, couchant on the obverse)
(Anno 4, -339 CY) Fair/Good = Uncommon, VG = Rare
(Anno 6, -337 CY) Fair/Good = Uncommon, VG = Rare
(Anno 10, -333 CY) Fair/Good = Rare, VG = Very Rare
(Anno 15, -326 CY) Fair/Good = Uncommon, VG = Rare
(Anno 20, -321 CY) Fair/Good = Rare, VG = Very Rare
Nyhan I Silver Jubilee Farthing (Military bust with the Keoland Lion, couchant on the obverse)
(Anno 25, -316 CY) Fair/Good = Rare, VG = Very Rare
The Guide to the World of Greyhawk, by Gygax G.
The Living Greyhawk Gazetteer, by Holian G., Mona E, Reynolds S, and Weining, F.
LGJ1: The Kingdom of Keoland, by Holian G.
LGJ4: Silent Sorcery, by Holian G.
Grand Sheldomar Timeline, Part I, II, III, by Weiss, S.
The Firstcomers, by Weiss, S.