Kingdoms of Frandum - Carleny
The history of Carleny goes way back to the Third Age. Back then, before the actual forming of the kingdom, it consisted mostly of smaller villages that traded with, and at times fought amongst, each other.
Then came along the city of Northernhelm, which was founded by a rich exiled noble family of Valea in the middle of the Third Age, and it became the capital soon after its founding, and still is today. This noble family managed to unite the villages and bring peace by settling the inner conflicts of the land. The head of the family was accepted as the ruler of what would be named the Kingdom of Carleny. They tried to convert all the villages to neutrality, the faith which had driven them out of their homeland, but this proved quite hard, and resulted in nothing more than Northernhelm being truly neutral. Officially, Reset is the god of the whole kingdom, though. A few villages of today follow Reset, but most rather believe in natural forces, an old shamanic belief based on elements.
The Carlenian history in the Third Age consists mainly of the deeds of Sentinel, who had been leading a hermit's life in the barren lands of the north. He saved the land from a terrible beast that had been terrorizing the villages, and there began his journey which ended up with him taking a place beside Reset in Valhalla, of which he is the Keeper.
The Carlenians are a folk of strong warriors that are very prone to take up arms against anything that crosses their borders without permission. As masters of the North Sea, they make sure that the orcs in the neighbouring kingdom of Sulmak have no say in the goings-on in the north.
Climate and geography
Carleny is located in the far north of Frandum, with Valea to the south, Dostenia to the south-east and Sulmak to the east. To the south-west lies the Dusk Sea, which Carlenians keep out of for most of the time, mainly because it is separated from the main part of the kingdom by frozen plains and high mountains, and also because Phodela's high-elves and Carleny's humans rather ignore each other.
It is a large kingdom, with no border to the north and west, which are lands of deadly cold and permanent frost where no intelligent being can live, and few explorers return. It is also a kingdom of many high mountains, the greatest being the Morning Peaks and the Fire Crescent (which is a chain of volcanic mountains), and thick pine-forests. The tundra stretches far and makes farming quite hard, yet far from impossible.
The North Sea in the north-east of Carleny is very cold and partly frozen, but a very important area for the Carlenians. Its weather is harsh, there are tempests raging somewhere in the sea at all times, and the Carlenians aren't afraid to challenge them, unlike their orcish neighbours. This gives the former a strategic advantage, and an opportunity to explore the world by circling its northernmost regions. Some say there is a path from the North Sea to all other seas, and that only Carlenians know about it.
In the west, just north-west of Dostenia's forest, there is a huge rift in the land, said to be a trace left by the great battle between Sentinel and the beast that made him step away from his hermit life. Most Carlenians stay away from there, fearing the beast might be resurrected if they perform any activity near it.
Raw materials and resources
There is a decent amount of pines in Carleny, which are cut down and planted to a large extent. The Carlenians are also great hunters and hunt bear, moose and deer, for food as well as furs. They are also potent fishermen and make good use of the North Sea's rich fish reserves. Each village has a smoke house where they can prepare meat and fish to conserve them through the long and cold winters.
The mountains serve as sources of iron ore, and there have also been findings of gems in the Morning Peaks. The Fire Crescent is not mined very extensively, due to its volcanic nature. The mountains are also a good source of stone, which is, beside the main material in the houses of Northernhelm, exported in great amounts.
The villages use a great deal of iron to forge weapons, both for hunting and fishing.
People of Carleny
Carleny is inhabited by humans, which are by far the dominant species. Most other races are welcome, but they are seldom able to achieve the same social status as humans. No orcs are welcome, though, this due to the great suspicion against Carleny's eastern neighbour Sulmak and their occassional efforts to gain power along the North Sea.
Men and women are not equal by far in Carleny, but neither of them complains. The women have some indirect power over the ruling of the kingdom, since the wives of the king's advisors, and also the queen, are pretty good at bending their husbands' will their own way. Women cannot, however, become advisors or ruling queens in Northernhelm, nor become shamans.
Back in the days of the Beast, before Sentinel slew it, a few Carlenian tribes left their homes in search for a safer place. After scaling the Fire Crescent, they were never heard of again by anyone in Carleny, and whether or not they fell into a volcano (which seems to be the popular belief) or managed to survive and form another kingdom in the mountains is known to none in Carleny, or anywhere else, for that matter.
Cities and countryside
Apart from Northernhelm, which is the only big city in Carleny, all settlements are more or less considered to be farming and/or foraging communities. Northernhelm has no farms at all, but relies on the smaller villages for cereals and vegetables. There are hunters in every settlement as well, including Northernhelm.
There is a little different thinking between Northernhelm and the rest of Carleny. While Northernhelm is quite civilized and makes use of technology to some extent, the villages are very uncivilized and considered rather stupid by outsiders, who mostly stick to Northernhelm when visiting Carleny.
Villages are rather self sufficient, hunting and fishing for food and clothes, forging iron for weapons but also for cooking devices. A typical house is simple: a single large room overly decorated by huge tapestries and furs on the ground (mainly to warm the room and keep warmth), with beds used as seats, and where the whole family lives, from the ancient to the youngest. Except for promiscuity, these houses are rather comfortable (they are also often the only possible shelter when the weather is bad).
Politics and laws
When speaking politics in Carleny, it is very important to know the difference between Northernhelm and the rest of the kingdom. While Northernhelm is the seat of the king, who has absolute rule over the whole kingdom if he would wish to, the many villages are being led by chiefs. Every village has its own chief, which is often the head of the most powerful and respected family in the village. He deals with day to day problems, aided of course by a council consisting of the oldest and wisest people in the village, from different families. The chief's word weighs heavily in the council, but he can be voted down. There is also, in the larger and more important villages, a representative from Northernhelm, who advices rather than commands. He is often trusted in political and commercial matters, but he has no say in the council, rather he has to convince the chief, who then has to convince the council.
The shamans of the villages are also very important people, since they are the spiritual leaders of the communities. They are chosen for life, and choose an apprentice when they get old. This apprentice later ascends to the position of the shaman upon the death of the current one.
The kings of Carleny are descended from an exiled noble family of Third Age Valea, and it is always the oldest son of the king and queen that inherits the throne. The reason for their exile was their belief in Reset, something which didn't please the king of Valea in that time. In cases where there is no son born to them, the son of the king's oldest brother will be the next king. So far in history, there has been no failure in this system, but maybe when there is, the women of Carleny will get their chance to rule.
The shamans are chosen strictly among the most potent spellcasters in the villages, and when one has been chosen, the only way for him to be rejected is if someone objects to the decision and challenges him to a spellcasting duel, after which the victor becomes the new shaman and the defeated is exiled. Women are not allowed to become shamans.
The king taxes the villages, but leaves them apart from that pretty much alone. This works only because most villages are self-sufficient when it comes to food, wood and clothes. The taxes are paid in cereals (from farming), furs and meat (from the hunting), which is used to cover the needs of Northernhelm, as well as the unlucky villages that for a year experience crop failure. It is not, however, enough for this, so food still needs to be imported.
As for laws, the city of Northernhelm follows rather strictly the book of law, which is based upon Reset's doctrines. Most people have deep respect for the law, and crime has never really been a great problem. Many patrollers still roam the city, to make sure that the crime level never gets a chance to become high enough to be a problem, but their main concerne is strangers.
In the smaller villages, however, Reset isn't quite as important as the incredible feeling of avenging a crime committed, preferably through the use of a sharp axe. "An eye for an eye" is the philosophy in most villages, and this is more or less the only law. When someone is subjected to a crime of any sort, it is up to him or someone in his family to set things right by punishing the perpetrator in a suiting manner. The punisher will then, naturally, also need to be punished, and so it goes on and on in eternity... Not very civilized, but no one seems to complain.
Wars and armies
Carleny has no professional military. Every man of every village knows how to wield an axe and a sword, and when needed, a strong army can be mustered. Mustering an army in a land as big as Carleny, with so many scattered villages, takes a lot of time, though, so the kingdom relies on intelligence to alert the villages in good time before an enemy assault.
The only wars Carleny has known in a very long time, are the battles with the orcs of Sulmak to the east. There are times when Sulmak finds it appropriate to invade Carleny or attack a fishing boat or so, which angers the Carlenians to a great extent. They are a very protective people, and if anyone intrudes, heads roll before questions are asked.
In evil times, the neutral king musters an army and raids some villages in Sulmak, for the sake of the balance but also so that the orcs won't attack first when their moral is high.
The villages each have a few large fishing boats which can easily be turned into potent battle-ships, and so they have no problems fighting the orcs on the North Sea. With the great amount of villages in Carleny, these battle-ships add up to quite an astounding amount which puts the North Sea more or less under Carleny's complete control.
Northernhelm has a great number of highly trained guards that may be used by the army, but are are actually more like patrollers that keep the streets of the city clean from crime. Apart from them, not many Northernhelmers go to war when the army is being mustered: they'd rather have the villagers die.
Apart from Sulmak, Carleny fears none of their neighbours: Phodela is too peaceful, Valea is too deep in its internal problems to wage, and Dostenia is neutral and shares Sulmak as a common enemy.
Trade and craftsmanship
Carleny has a quite good amount of resources, which they use to make products like jewelry, weapons and a little armour. The iron works of Northernhelm are well-known throughout Frandum, as well as their gem-cutting skills.
The kingdom has good weapon smiths, but they cannot compare with dwarven or elven smiths. Most weapons are sold off to other kingdoms, not least to Dostenia, but at low prices compared to dwarven and elven works. There are some armourers in Northernhelm, but none of their products are ever exported, partly because the quality is not good enough. It is usually very heavy iron mails, which are used solely by the greater warriors of each village. Ordinary warriors wear thick animal furs as armour, which has made metal armour quite obsolete, and is worn more to show status than for efficiency in battle. The villages often have smiths, but they need the iron ore to be worked in Northernhelm before they can use it.
The extensive hunting gives plenty of animal furs that make warm clothing. There is enough to cover the entire population of the kingdom, and still export a lot of it. The same goes for wood, which is very much needed for fires to heat up the huts in the icy northern landscape.
Though the villages are self-sufficient when it comes to cereals, there is not enough to cover the needs of Northernhelm. What is needed beyond what is given from the villages, is imported from Valea.
Stone is also exported, even though not as much as in older days. Many castles in Frandum are built with the cold stone from the Morning Peaks.
It may seem that Carleny's economy is thriving, but there are a few set-backs that make that statement false, one being the following: the quality of Carlenian craftmanship is not bad, but there is often better works to be found in other kingdoms, which makes Carlenian merchants unable to charge very much for their products.
Science and education
Once again, there is a great difference between Northernhelm and the rest of the villages of Carleny. While the capital is quite advanced in a few areas (cartography being their pride), the villages have made no progress what-so-ever since the Third Age, apart from the fields of hunting, boating, fishing and wood-cutting. In fact, only the shamans of the villages can read and write, which makes education restricted to practical skills, like hunting, cutting trees and navigating boats.
Northernhelm has optional schools, to which the shamans go to learn how to read and to improve their spellcasting ability as well as their writing of runes. Most Northernhelmers can read, even at an early age, though less than fifty percent go to school - most take jobs at early ages in the iron works or in the mines.
Religion and magic
As mentioned earlier, Northernhelm's inhabitants are close-to 100% neutral, while the other villages of Carleny in most cases do not follow any god at all. They do, however, consider Sentinel their saviour, and rever him deeply. Followers of Galanhir have a little distaste for Carlenians when it comes to religion, so not many good people live there. Shezael has a few loyal followers here and there, but they are for the most part hermits or outcasts that live in the mountains, with no real influence at all in any way or any part of the kingdom.
Spellcasting in Carleny is not very wide-spread. There are a few schools teaching magic theory in Northernhelm, but not many attend those schools. The most popular field of magic is battle magic, often associated with the manipulation of elements. Carlenians warriors are well-known to enter a frenzy trance when fighting, which is sufficient enough to fear most of their wisest opponents.
The shamans of the villages are the most talented spellcasters in the whole kingdom, but they still have a long way to go before they can compare with their neighbours in Dostenia.
Arts and culture
The women of Carleny are great with needles: they sew tapestries that speak dearly of the deeds of Sentinel, or in days of war, their husbands that have gone to battle. While these tapestries are truly magnificent, they are not very popular outside the kingdom, perhaps due to their very brutal content. Special collectors pay great amounts of money for them, though.
When it comes to music, the Carlenians have a great tradition of telling stories through songs. Bards and troubadours can be heard and seen in both Northernhelm and every village, and they even follow soldiers out to war to increase moral as well as find new material for their stories, seen with their own eyes.
News and fictive stories are often told by skalds that wander the kingdom, from village to village to spread words of the latest happenings. When a skald arrives in a village, all of its inhabitants gather around to hear the latest news and a story nicely told in the form of a poem. Outsiders love this as well, but for some reason, it seems to be an occurence that stays in Carleny and does not spread to other kingdoms.
Warriors and hunters always celebrate their victories through the drinking of mead, and the amounts that one man can drink in one night is quite amazing, as it is another way of gaining respect from other Carlenians.
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