Alandar: The Kingdom of Eddon
Officially speaking, the Kingdom of Eddon was originally part of Akral when, in the 112th year of the Keeper Dornar, the Kingdom of Akral resolved to give the territory its independence, finding the region too far flung to effectively rule from the Griffon Court. Unofficially, most Eddoners believe they are descended from the ancient Horse Lords of the Taqar who evaded the rule of the Warlock Kings by living beyond their reach. It is said that the ancient citadel of Hochspeer stands somewhere out in the distant reaches of the Taqar, forgotten and abandoned. No one, though, has managed to find it, and few try. The Eddoners are nothing if not a practical people.
Eddon finds itself Akral’s historical rival for hegemony in the region surrounding the Gulf of Eddon and, therefore, has found itself frequently at odds with its northeastern neighbor. Akral has always treated Eddon as a kind of delinquent colony, but they generally know well enough not to attempt an invasion – few nations are equipped to battle the Eddoners on their own ground. The largest nation in the Alliance, Eddon is situated on the edge of explored territory, and is largely responsible for keeping its neighbors safe from the dangers that roam the Great Taqar. For this reason, Eddon is seldom bothered by Alliance politics, its vital role as protector granting it something of a ‘hands-off’ status in the sometimes cutthroat political world of the West. Akral, of course, is the notable exception to this, but the Eddoners have long known that ignoring the Arkallians is typically the best way to get them to leave you alone.
The Eddon system of government mirrors the structure of Akrallian feudalism somewhat, but with some major exceptions. Like in Akral, Eddon territory is divided into a series of small territories. These territories, known as ‘Wards,’ are overseen by a Warden—the Eddon equivalent to a knight or chevailier. Groups of Wards are organized into larger units known as Stations, of which there are six—the North Station, the West Station, the South Station, the East Station, the Home Station, and the Far Station. Each Station’s wardens choose among their number a representative, or Lord, who acts as that Station’s emissary to the King. By and large, each Station is independent unto itself, barring intervention by the King himself, and even among the Stations each Ward is permitted to act more-or-less autonomously. As in Akral, one in every ten men in a Warden’s forces are sworn over to the King of Eddon to form the King’s Lancers, who act as the monarch’s standing army. Unlike in Akral, however, the King also maintains an elite army of light and medium cavalry known as the Wardenriders who act as a roving patrol force within each station. Though the Wardenriders may be housed in the keep of a Warden, they are not bound to obey the Warden should he contradict the Wardenriders’ superior officers or (obviously) the king himself. In another, less harmonious nation, such as Eretheria, this might cause some degree of internal strife, but on the cold frontiers of Eddon, extra lances are always appreciated.
Another aspect of Eddoner politics that sets it apart from much of the West is the fact that succession is not determined by bloodline, save within the royal family itself. Wardens and Lords choose their successors based off of skill and experience, rather than heredity or gender, and many has been the instance of a son or daughter being passed over for being made a Warden because his or her father’s old seneschal had proven himself more worthy of the position. Though this can create a sometimes unhealthy environment of competition among the Warden’s children and servants, changes in rule are usually taken in stride — as mentioned, Eddoners are nothing if not practical.
The Eddoner military is enormous, surpassing even Akral’s in size. As the largest military power in the West, it is curious to note that Eddon has never shown any interest in territorial expansion (‘we’ve got enough’ being a common phrase) nor has it ever engaged in a war of aggression against another Western nation. Eddon’s military is designed to defend, not attack. Made up of primarily light and medium cavalry as well as highly disciplined infantry, Eddon excels at quick hit-and-run raids and at fortress defense, but possesses very little in the way of siege equipment or heavier units that would be essential in a siege situation. Thanks to this unblemished military record of always taking the side of the underdog, as it were, Eddon enjoys a favorable reputation in as far away locales as the court of the King of Benethor.
Lands and Points of Interest
Eddon’s lands consist of the wide grassy plains that begin the Great Taqar, stretching as far as any eye has seen towards the Far West. Weather here is less temperate than it is further east, with the summers being long and hot and the winters being equally long and bitter cold. It is also into the Gulf of Eddon that the Great Whiteflood empties in a great delta. It is along the banks of the Whiteflood and amid the Whiteflood Delta where what little farmland exists in Eddon is located. Here is grown corn and wheat, as well as beans of various kinds.
The majority of Eddon is two things: forts and cattle herds. Every town in Eddon is fortified with at least a wooden stockade wall, though many are built of stone or better materials. It is from these fortress towns that the Wardenriders go on their patrols. Beyond the towns (which are few and far between) are scattered enormous cattle and horse ranches. Each ranch is usually owned by a wealthy low-born family and employs anywhere from two to three peasant families as servants and employees to work the ranch. On these remote ranches, far from everywhere, life is primarily peaceful and boring, though the appearance of a gnoll pack or nomadic band can spice things up a bit. Every ranch has a fortified longhouse in which the ranchers and their employees can take shelter should an attack occur. Many of these longhouses are made of little more than thick sod and rough-hewn stones, though the more wealthy ranches have actual stone keeps to guard their persons. Every year, the rancher will send some of his employees to drive portions of their herd to markets in Eddon, Akral, Veris, and even Rhond and Eretheria, where they are sold and supplies for the next few years are purchased. This journey is made in the summer, when the weather is best for travel, and for the longer journeys some ranch hands will be gone until well into the fall or even winter. For the most part, however, trade is conducted between the ranches and the nearest town or fort (which may still be as far as fifty miles away), and in times of great danger, ranches will be abandoned so that the rancher and his hands may take shelter behind the walls of a town.
The City of Eddon: Straddling the beautiful Whiteflood Delta and making up the westernmost point of the Sea of Syrin at the end of the Gulf that bears the city’s name, Eddon is a massive, fortified city of some 90,000 people. The first thing that anyone notices about Eddon are, of course, the walls. The Walls of Eddon are one of the great masterpieces of the Builder’s Method of Arcane Arts. Constructed of a mix of both mageglass and solid stone, the Walls guard the city from the west, north, and south, beginning at the shores of the sea and continuing, unbroken, in a perfect half circle. The walls even arch over or dam the many rivulets that accompany the Whiteflood to the sea, creating a makeshift moat that likewise surrounds the city. Considered unbreakable by all but the most enormous forces, the walls are not manned nor are they crenellated. Rather, the exterior of the wall is filled with alcoves in which stand the Sleepless — a group of better than 1000 animated golem fashioned to resemble Wardens of old who gave their lives in service to their King. It is even said that the bones of the wardens the Sleepless represent are interred within the body of the golem, so that the Warden will never give up his duty, even in death. Rumor has it that the number of the Sleepless has grown over the years, indicating that present day Wardens who die in battle may be added to their ranks, though precisely how is unknown.
Entrance to Eddon not done by sea must be through the massive Gate to the West, standing at the westernmost edge of the Wall. Better than fifty yards wide and fifty yards tall, the gate has never been closed, leading some to wonder what would happen if it needed to be — there are, after all, no doors there to be closed. Through the Gate and under the watchful gaze of the Sleepless, visitors pass into the city itself, and here most of the city’s splendor fades. Eddon is a rustic town, with most of its architecture being made of functional stone blocks or brick. Even the King’s Palace is a low, stone structure with the barest minimum of mageglass finery. Outside of Hannite steeples, the highest point in the city are the Walls themselves, which only stand fifty feet tall. Eddon is a sprawling city, occupying nearly twice the surface area of Akral or Veris, but taking up this space with four broad avenues and enormous marketplaces. Much of the central portion of the city is given over to the Commons, where huge corrals house the herds of cattle and horseflesh brought to sale every year. Circling the Commons are a variety of open-air makets and bazaars. It is here that, once every four years, the caravans from the Far West set up shop and sell their exotic goods. Every time this occurs, Eddon becomes a very crowded place, as merchants from all over the world crowd its docks with freighters, hoping to load up on the relatively inexpensive metals and tools sold by the Westerland merchants. When the caravans meet up with the cattle drives, it is barely possible to find a place to stand in Eddon, let alone a place to sleep or eat. It is best to do your business and be gone, or you are likely to be trampled by stampeding Ihynish merchants.
Despite the formidable Walls, Eddon is also garrisoned by the King’s Lancers and is the headquarters of the Wardenriders, so there is a significant military presence in the city at all times. For this reason, crime is very rare here, and no thieves guild has ever had success setting up operations. The present king, Adail VI, has committed himself to eliminating as much poverty and criminal activity in the city as possible, and has done quite a good job of it. His public works programs and poorhouses have gotten most of the indigent off the streets, and the constant presence of the Lancers has discouraged all but the most minor of crimes. Because of this, Eddon is among the least favored ports for sailors, since acts of public drunkenness and rowdy behavior earns someone a quick trip to the stocks.
On a cultural note, Eddon is perhaps most famous for its thriving community of talismongers, golemsmiths, thaumaturges, and alchemists. While there are relatively few actual magi or even sorcerers native to Eddon, the Low Arts enjoy quite the reputation. The Schopferbezirk (known as the Toy District) of Eddon is home to row upon row of little shops packed full of all the wonders and entertainments the Low Arts can produce, assuming the patrons can pay the price. The Guild of Artful Builders’ Hall is one of the primary tourist destinations in the city – a long, wooden loghouse carved with the magically animated visages of every master who has served the guild. Indeed, Eddon’s reputation for clockwork and mechanism, sorcerous and otherwise, is quite unrivalled in the West. Arcan0-mechanical conveyances are not uncommon sights on the streets, and a disproportionate number of citizens maintain various golems for personal use.
Culture and People
Eddoners have a reputation for being boring and humorless, which is a bit unfair. Eddoners believe in hard work and practicality above all things and so the things that much of their neighbors consider ‘fun’ — gambling, parties, drunkenness, romantic flings, masquerades, etc. — are considered by Eddoners to be extravagant and wasteful. It must be remembered that Eddon is not a land of plenty like Akral or Eretheria. Eddoners must work hard every day just to put food on their tables, and there is the constant danger of gnolls or nomads to consider. If an Eddoner isn’t smiling it isn’t because he hasn’t a sense of humor, but because he is bone tired.
This is not to say that the people of Eddon don’t know how to have fun. Eddoners love a good meal and good company just like everyone else, and dinnertime at any Eddon home is a time of good cheer and fellowship. On the ranches, all of the families often eat together in the longhouse, with the adults discussing the days work among themselves and telling stories to entertain the children while the food is served. In noble homes, dinner is much the same — all the men-at-arms, servants, and nobles eat in the great dining hall as one, and food is arrayed on one great table, where everyone takes what they would like. An Eddoner’s diet consists of milk, cheese, butter, steak, and corn with supplements of bread, fruits, and vegetables whenever they can be found. During the long winter, food is rationed and every Eddoner is accustomed to tightening his or her belt come the first frost. Here the Hearth Festival is a solemn occasion indeed, as members of any household — noble or otherwise — consider the chances of surviving another unforgiving Taqar winter.
Beyond the dinner tradition, the majority of Eddon life and culture revolves around the horse and the cow. Every Eddoner learns to ride almost as soon as they can walk, and the bond between the Eddoner and his or her horse should never be underestimated. Long distance and short distance horse races are common forms of entertainment, as are numerous events involved in bull-taming that are very similar to our world’s rodeos. Furthermore, horseshoes — another game borne of the horse — is played by every male in the entire Kingdom, the King included, and it is considered both a social ritual and dignified game of skill. From the cow is derived the main source of income and sustenance for the people of Eddon. There is little of the cow that is not used by an Eddoner, as they are a people adverse to waste. The skins are tanned to make leather items (Eddon leatherwork is considered the finest in the world); the bones are used for arrowheads, structural supports, and more; the meat is eaten; the milk is both drank and used to make cheeses that are considered delicacies throughout the Alliance and beyond. Without their cows, the people of Eddon would starve inside of a single year. Accordingly, cattle or horse theft is one of the most serious crimes that can be committed in Eddon, and is punishable by either death or banishment to the Taqar — which amounts to about the same thing.
Though Eddoners are a military culture, they are so by requirement rather than any design. A simple people, most Eddoners would prefer to live on a ranch far away from people and live a quiet existence for the rest of their lives. Unfortunately, the dangers of the Taqar demand they keep a sizable military, and so they do. To an Eddoner, there is no half-way or partial attempt at something — when they do something, they do it right and they do it well so they won’t have to do it again. ‘A stitch in time saves nine’ is a phrase that every Eddoner hears from her mother, and idleness is severely discouraged. They are a hard working, practical, and honest people who have no use for the convoluted political dealings of their allies. In this regard they are respected by everyone in the Alliance, though they are seldom consulted. This, as it happens, suits Eddon just fine.
Eddon did not contribute much to the Illini Wars, but it did contribute. Its cavalry scouts were instrumental to General Varner’s successes in such pivotal battles as Via Durano, the Artavi Pass, and Posto Nessum. Their griffon cavalry was crucial to the allied forces in the Illini Peninsula, too, allowing supplies and information to travel from the Duke of Galaspin’s headquarters to Landar Marik’s partisans behind the lines. That said, there are those who believe Eddon could have done more. They, for their part, blame Akral’s reticence as the reason for their reserve – if the King of Eddon had devoted significant resources to the war, the Akrallians might have invaded and left Eddon unable to respond (much how Banric Sahand of Dellor invaded Galaspin in the absence of Galaspin’s armies during the same war).
The main political sticking point in Eddon these days is the fact that no Spirit Engine line reaches their city. Even though Eddoner warlocks and thaumaturges were essential for the implementation of the system, Eddon has been noticeably left out, and this has hurt the city economically and left it out of the boom that currently bolsters the Akrallian, Eretherian, Saldorian, and Galaspiner treasuries. Though there are significant geographical obstacles to overcome for any such spirit engine line to be laid, Eddon has threatened to stop shipments of adamant (acquired through trade with the Far West caravans) until plans for including Eddon in the system are introduced.