gvdammerung writes "Called "The Defender" for his role in supressing political dissent within the Kingdom of Keoland, Malv I truly earned his sobriquet not by prosecuting war but by having the wisdom to know when to avoid conflict. As much as Nyhan I may be regarded as the "Father of Keoland" by virtue of being the First King, Malv I deserves almost equal credit for preserving the nascent realm when it might too easily have been destroyed by forces internal and external to the young kingdom. It was a close matter.
The Chronicles of Keoland - Malv I
by Glenn Vincent Dammerung aka GVDammerung@yahoo.com
All rights reserved. Do not reprint without permission.
Ruler - Malv I, called the Defender
House - Rhola, Prince of House Rhola
Reign - 2nd King of Keoland, -314CY to -295 CY (19 years)
Fate - Resigned throne
History - With the death of Nyhan I, Malv I ascended the Lion Throne. Unlike his predecessor, Malv was not chosen by prearranged, mutual agreement but under the terms of the tacit understanding that envisioned the throne alternating between the Neheli and the Rhola. As such, Malv was more his own man. He was, however, completely in accord with the plans of the Neheli, Rhola and Keogh to cleanse the Sheldomar of all opposition to Keoland. Where Nyhan I stood by or offered weak cautions, Malv I proved enthusiastic to spill the blood of all who were deemed to oppose Keoland, which practically meant everyone not belonging to Keoland founding parties. Malv I successfully concluded the so-called House Wars, indiscriminately exterminating all who would say him nay. Keoland was made safe for Keolanders.
Beyond the nation’s borders, however, one Suel house, the Malhel, who refused to join Keoland, fomented trouble. Having worked great magics at Valadis, the bulk of the Malhel were destroyed by the forces they unleashed. So horrified by what occurred were the elves of the Dreadwood that, calling upon their allies in Celene, the Lortmils and within the greater extents of the Sheldomar Valley, they prepared to exterminate the young nation of Keoland. That they could do so was not in doubt and so Malv I did nothing to provoke the elves. After Lorgyr, Prince of Neheli, returned from a failed expedition to explore what remained of Valadis, amid rising signs of war, Malv I abdicated in favor of Lorgyr.
Sub Rosa - Malv I was no coward, nor afraid to shed blood, as his prosecution of the House Wars amply demonstrated. Neither was he stupid. United, the demi-humans of the Sheldomar could have made short work of the young nation of Keoland. That Malv I did nothing to provoke such a war may then be seen as the prudent thing to do. Yet, for the bloody-handed monarch, euphemistically called The Defender, such prudence ran counter to his nature. Even more so, his decision to abdicate. Both acts were entirely out of character.
The explanation lies in the report Lorgyr made to Malv I upon his return from the aborted attempt to investigate the ruins of Valadis. While Lorgyr and a party of Silent One’s, Keoland’s allied order of sorcerers, were driven off, they did manage a brief survey of the ruins beforehand. What they saw was sufficient. The threat from Valadis was as imminent as the elven fostered alliance, and entirely other-worldly. While Malv could and would confront any physical threat, he recognized he was out of his depth in mystical matters. That he was so closely associated with behavior in concluding the House Wars almost as appalling to the elves as the activities of the Malhel, also disabled him from best conducting the diplomacy that was Keoland’s single hope to survive. So, in the end, Malv I earned his sobriquet The Defender. He abdicated.
Lost in the drama and tensions of the moment was the escape of the few surviving Malhel. Seemingly surrounded by enemies, the Malhel fled south, trickling by ones and twos through and beyond the Hool Marches. There they would find succor and allies. And one day, centuries later, they would return to bedevil their kinsmen.
Magic - The Silent Ones early emerged as the preeminent arcane order in what would be Keoland. When the Heirs of Power declined to play the role, the Silent Ones readily accepted a close partnership with Keoland’s ruling elites. This role would only grow stronger with the passage of time. At first, however, the Silent Ones did not enjoy the near monopoly on magical knowledge that would come to characterize the order in the popular imagination. Regionally specific, rival magical societies characterized early Keolandish history. None of these groups, however, were significant on more than a regional level and few would survive the years.
The greatest advantage enjoyed by the Silent Ones, apart from royal patronage, was their national scope. The Silent Ones operated throughout Keoland. In this, their only rival was the Arcane Order. Headquartered in the Yatil Mountains, the Arcane Order was, and arguably remains, the greatest magical order that operates throughout the width and breadth of the Flanaess. Pan-national in scope, the Arcane Order is completely apolitical and, more than a few would say, amoral. The only concern of the Order is magic and the arcane. It is in this wise that the Arcane Order came to be established in Keoland.
The intent was not supplant any native group but rather to join the community of magical groups operating in the Sheldomar Valley. The resident Suel, however, were quick to see anything or anyone non-Suel as at least a potential rival, if not threat. Relations between the Silent Ones and the Arcane Order began frostily and only grew colder. Significantly outnumbered and far removed from the resources of their motherhouse in the Yatils, the Arcane Order was thinly, if widely, spread in the young kingdom of Keoland. They looked, then, for allies among Keoland’s lesser magical societies. This only occasioned further strained relations with the Silent Ones.
Tome - The Elder Protocols. The Elder Protocols, or more fully The Protocols of the Elders of the Yatils, is the grand grimoire of the Arcane Order. Part ancient history, part spell book, part cosmic treatise, part organizational handbook, the Elder Protocols is entirely written in magical code. Stripped of its warding, the code remains, which when deciphered reveals a text riddled with allegory and mystical allusion. According to common understanding, the only complete copy of the Elder Protocols is to be found in the motherhouse of the Arcane Order in the Yatils. Expurgated versions are found in the regional lodges that report to the motherouse. Excerpted versions are used in sub-regional conclaves. Local councils of the Arcane Order have access only to what amounts to a magical chapbook.
The importance of the Elder Protocols in Keoland’s history is entirely unrelated to the greater bulk of the grand grimoire’s contents. Indeed, there has been no known successful attempt to fully understand the contents, even among the Silent Ones. Rather, the importance lays in the reaction of the Silent Ones to the organizational structure laid out in the Grand Grimoire as replicated in the local chapbooks. Unlike many wizardly guilds, who often barely deserve the name, the Arcane Order is nothing if not supremely organized and centrally directed. This direction and purpose, to say nothing of the eldritch secrets hinted at in portions of the text, convinced the Silent Ones that the Arcane Order was potentially much more than an annoyance. Before the Arcane Order could more fully ally with the welter of magical groups prevalent throughout Keoland, they would have to be brought sharply to heel and exterminated.
Religion - That Keoland was particularly ill prepared to militarily counter the demi-human alliance that looked to annihilate the young kingdom was due to the early stage of Keoland’s coalescence into a unified state. The House Wars had taken a toll. It was a religious conflict, however, that exposed just how divided the kingdom was at this early date. While Keoland has never had a civil war, it came closest during the Sea Strife.
The Sea Strife refers to the conflict that arose between the rival faiths of the Suel and Oeridian deities of the sea. In the south of Keoland, the temple of Xerbo, as well as that of Osprem, held the affections of the Suel population, while the temple of Procran held the affections of the Oeridian population. During the preceding Temple Purges of Nyhan I’s reign, Xerbo’s faith had established a very narrow hegemony, really only dominating Procran’s faith when Osprem’s faith was considered along side that of Xerbo’s. While the Temple Purges ended everywhere else in Nyhan I’s reign, in the south, particularly as between the temples of Xerbo and Procran, they dragged on into Malv I’s reign.
As the conflict became one of attrition, the Oeridian followers of Velnius and the Oeridian wind gods were drawn into the conflict to support the faltering cause of Procran. That the followers of Velnius and the Oeridian wind gods did so is attributable to Procran’s position as the celestial father of these deities. Playing out in the stronghold of the Rhola, who favored Kord above other gods, the Sea Strife could not but draw the priests of Kord to Xerbo’s side, for Xerbo was revered by the Rhola second only to Kord himself. Indeed, House Rhola moved to intervene on behalf of the temple of Xerbo, as well.
The entry of House Rhola into what had been a largely religious conflict changed everything. The Oeridian Houses began to mobilize to intervene, closely followed by House Neheli as the religious strife threatened to become a secular one as well. Civil war in Keoland, motivated by religion, but ultimately founded in lingering mistrust and disunity among the Rhola, Neheli and Keogh, appeared to be in the offing. Malv I would again earn his sobriquet - the Defender.
Combining the secular authority of King of Keoland with the temporal authority of Arimos, Patriarch of Lendor, the First Lendorian Council was convened. Lendor, while not the most widely worshiped of deities among the Suel, is universally respected as the head of the Suel pantheon of gods. With Malv I’s thinly veiled backing, kept veiled so as to not trespass the Founding Charter’s religious prohibition as well as to avoid further secularizing the conflict, Arimos brought all the feuding parties together in Niole Dra, most immediately the Suel faiths of Xerbo, Kord and Wee Jas, but soon thereafter the Oeridian faiths as well. In this last effort, Malv I’s guarantee of safe passage for all attendants, played no little role. Still later, representatives of all of Keoland’s myriad faiths sent delegations.
The result of the First Lendorian Council was two fold. Procran’s clergy would remove themselves from the Duchy of Gradsul, thus ending the Sea Strife in Xerbo’s favor. In return, Velnius and the Oeridian wind gods would be granted concessions elsewhere, where they were deemed to be in conflict with Suel deities. In effect, the Oeridians sold out Procran’s faith, while the Suel sold out the faiths of a raft of minor Suel deities. Civil war was, however, averted. As a tertiary consequence of the First Lendorian Council, Velnius, along with the Oeridian wind gods, became as dominant among the Keogh as Wee Jas was among the Neheli and Kord was among the Rhola. Lendor’s standing was also enhanced for his clergy having worked to successfully resolve the Sea Strike. In the future, this moral authority of the temple of Lendor would be called upon again to resolve peacefully religious conflicts.
Historic Site - The Sunken Temple of Procran. With the close of the First Lendorian Council, the temples of Xerbo and Kord, backed by troops from House Rhola, were free to begin their assault upon Procran’s main temple in Keoland. Located on a coastal island some 12 leagues west of the mouth of the Sheldomar, the temple was a sprawling complex of buildings, tidal pools, and lagoons, all protected by a sea maze. Stubbornly defended, the battle for the temple proved difficult and bloody. During the third day of fight, the entire temple complex was suddenly plunged beneath the waves, taking with it nearly two thirds of the island. Whether the sinking of the temple was a doom called down in righteous fury by the priests of Xerbo, or the final vengeance of Procran, remains unknown. Few survived the sinking. None of these were followers of Procran. To this day, the area surrounding the island is deemed cursed and is studiously avoided by sailors, who report sudden storms, odd lights beneath the waves and too frequent disappearances of ships within the region.
Tournaments - As Malv I prosecuted the House Wars, he became firmly convinced that hastiludes among Keoland’s knights were wasteful. Too many knights were injured or killed. To much property was damaged or destroyed by the wide ranging knights as they contested. Even more unsettling, hastiludes between knights of the Neheli and Rhola or between either group and the Keogh could too quickly spiral out of control into actual combat to the death. Efforts to patch up hurt feelings or worse after such scrapes were yet another waste of time. In consequence, Malv I banned all hastiludes within Keoland. It was not a popular decision.
The Declaration Against Hastiludes is of great importance well beyond the affairs of knights. For the first time, the King of Keoland issued a decree applicable to all of his noble subjects that they were not inclined to obey and with which they vehemently disagreed. The Declaration was the first real test of the authority of the King of Keoland among his own subjects. Despite opposition, the Declaration was successfully enforced. While hastiludes did occur after the declaration, they were much fewer than before. In large part, this was because the penalties were severe - forfeiture of all equipage, armaments and horses and an increased tax to the crown for the next year. This last penalty was later raised to two years.
Honors, Grants, Decrees and Orders - Since before Keoland existed as a nation, the Silent Ones existed. A sorcerous order closely associated with the Neheli, the Silent Ones had at first no official standing within the newly formed Kingdom of Keoland. The Founding Charter of Keoland, in fact, explicitly excluded them from the authority of the King. Nonetheless, they unofficially functioned much as a magical auxiliary of House Neheli and hence the Kingdom of Keoland. This would change as a consequence of events at Valadis.
Malv I’s last act before abdicating was to officially recognize by charter the Silent Ones, granting them an unheard of degree of autonomy within the Kingdom of Keoland and setting as their writ an oversight of magical training, and indeed all things magical within the kingdom, to include the outright suppression of magical knowledge, and empowering them even so far as to act against those who would seek to independently accumulate magical power, present company among House Neheli excluded, of course.
Malv I was counseled in his decision by Lorgyr, who was to become the next king of Keoland and who was also a member of the Silent Ones. In the wake of events at Valadis, it was deemed critical that the government of Keoland take a more direct hand in magical matters, even if by proxy, and it was deemed even more necessary that, as the Silent Ones were to act as this proxy, their charter come from a Rhola king, not one of House Neheli with whom the Silent Ones historically aligned. Malv I again earned his sobriquet, The Defender.
Literature - Malv I directed the beginning one of Keoland’s greatest surviving literary treasures - The Chronicles of the Kings of Keoland. Malv’s intent was that there be a record of each reign and the deeds done therein. Recognizing that politics could well color the Chronicle to the point of uselessness, he directed that no individual chronicle could be finally written until the subject king had been succeeded on the Lion Throne by two successor kings. Thus, the chronicle of Nyhan I could not be finalized and published until the reign of Malv I’s successor. Work on an individual chronicle could begin earlier, however. To further promote impartiality, Malv I directed that the job of writing each chronicle be made the responsibility of the Chronicler of the Brotherhood of Harbingers. While the process has not always worked perfectly, with early draft copies or spurious editions occasionally circulating, the Chronicle of the Kings of Keoland has continued through every reign.
Wine - Because of the middling success with transplanted varietals, there was from an early point an effort to find indigenous varieties of grape that might produce better wines. This process was hindered, however, by the factionalized communities of people inhabiting the Sheldomar Valley. Knowledge did not transfer well or far. The founding of Keoland substantially reduced these knowledge barriers. In Malv II’s reign , the first real success was had with the white malvasia grape, named in honor of the king. Altogether, malvasia wine was the equal of gravina, and being native was far more readily grown. It did not, however, produce the clearly superior vintage that was hoped for. Neither did it age particularly well.
Malvasia (white) (1-3yrs)
Arts - Sculpture. The School of Khurne. Sculpture in the Suel Imperium had been fashioned with a high degree of skill but its forms had long been stagnant. Monumental sculpture possessed certain identifying features, as did architectural sculpture or funerary sculpture and so on. These features, once established and accepted, varied very little over time. These archetypes and sensibilities were carried with the migrating Suel into the Flanaess. Where local conditions would allow, they were reproduced faithfully, at least initially.
Within the Sheldomar Valley, the School of Khurne was arguably the most successful reproducing some of the old Suel forms in sculpture. Khurne sculpture took two principle forms. Standing male figures were shown in the nude. Called kouros or kouroi (plural), these figures could vary in height from a few inches to a few feet. Only two or three stiff body postures were acceptable, but facial features could vary more widely. The female counterpart of the kouros was the kore or korai (plural). The standing female figure was draped in traditional Suel clothing. Kore too were limited in their posture but could vary in facial features even more than the kouros.
Initially intended as representations of actual individuals, as purely works of art and as religious idols, kouros and kore are today produced primarily as votive idols to be displayed in the home. The School of Khurne is otherwise extinct.
Treasures - The Coronation Throne. Beginning with Malv I, every king of Keoland has been crowned as king seated on the coronation throne that was made for Malv I’s installation as King of Keoland. The throne is made of gilt wood inlaid with ivory. It rests on a golden base supported by four gold lions. Housed beneath the seat of the throne is the so-called Lion’s Stone, a relic of the last Flannish kingdom, Caldethe, to be overthrown by the immigrant Suel. The kings of Caldethe are said to have sat upon this stone to dispense justice. As such, the Lion’s Stone represent’s a continuation of lawful authority from the last Flan king to the Suel and Oeridian kings of Keoland. So great is the tradition surrounding the Coronation Throne, that it is said that no king of Keoland may lawfully claim that title unless he was coronated while seated upon the Coronation Throne.
Coinage - Second King of Keoland, Malv I adopted a strict fiscal policy that saw few mintings. This tight money policy was intended to try to maintain the value of Keoland coinage in an increasingly inflationary environment brought about by unrestricted household mintings. While Keoish Kings were drawn from the royal houses of Neheli and Rhola, they early on exercised only limited control of their houses, which were dominated by strong family patriarchs and matriarchs. The greatest threat to early Keoland’s economy came from the very royal houses from which its kings were drawn. All coins from Malv I’s reign were minted in Niole Dra and dated the year of reign.
Malv I Solidus (Military bust with the Keoland Lion, couchant on the obverse)
(Anno 1, -314 CY) Fair/Good = Rare, VG = Very Rare
Malv I Groat (Military bust with the Keoland Lion, couchant on the obverse)
(Anno 2, -313 CY) Fair/Good = Rare, VG = Very Rare
Malv I Farthing (Military bust with the Keoland Lion, couchant on the obverse)
(Anno 3, -312 CY) Fair/Good = Rare, VG = Very Rare
(Anno 15, -299 CY) Fair/Good = Rare, VG = 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.