Heroes of Ethova
7/12/1208 City of Carnley, Kingdom of Ethova
The Kingdom of Ethova has seen better days.
With the death of King Heinrich II and Queen Isabella thirteen years ago, the nation passed into the care of their daughter, Beatrix. Because she was but a four year old girl at the time, a regent was appointed to manage the kingdom until she was old enough to do so herself. Unfortunately, while the regent appointed to the position, a grubby little man known as Symond the Swift, was quite skilled at diplomacy, he had little knowledge of economics, and within three years Ethova found its treasure vaults empty.
With no way to pay the soldiers that made up its military, Ethova soon found itself undefended and unprotected. Symond’s silver tongue was enough to keep the neighboring nations from invading Ethova, but the nation soon came under assault from forces that cared little for their regent’s oratory skills. The unpaid and hungry soldiers turned to banditry and highway robbery to feed themselves, and the previously subjugated beastmen began to gather their numbers in the forests and other dark places of the Kingdom.
Things continued to grow worse over the next decade, with the cities becoming isolated fortresses against the increasing number of threats along the deterioration roads. Cut off from the throne, the nobles began to use the wealth that once would have been used to pay their taxes to instead hire private guards to defend their cities. Disease and pestilence became a problem, and the plagues that swept through Ethova took a heavy toll upon those cloistered within the walled cities.
Carnley is one of these city-states. Built atop a maze of twisting mines, the city had long ago grown wealthy from the iron and silver hauled out from beneath it, much of which was then shipped downriver to Wickmere and Lowport. The outbreak of Stone Lung two years ago forced the closure of nearly a third of the city’s mines, however, a blow from which the city’s economy has yet to recover. That many of the mines had to be sealed with infected workers still trapped inside is a fairly common rumor throughout the city, and some of the more superstitious miners claim that they can still hear the cries of their trapped brethren echoing through certain tunnels.
The three ruling families of Carnley – the Waites, the Bardwells, and the Van Borens – have turned to various other means of trying to rejuvenate their stagnant city, the most recent of which has been to forsake sending their iron downriver in favor of hauling it overland to the dwarven city of Garadur, where prices are much more favorable. Unfortunately, this has also resulted in an increase of bandits along the decaying western roads, making the journey nearly as dangerous as it is profitable. Neither Wickmere nor Lowport has appreciated the sudden drop off in iron being sold to their cities, and the merchants traveling the river speak of rumors that the nobles of Wickmere are gathering an army to march northwards to capture Carnley – and its iron – for themselves.
Others have grown more concerned about other rumors brought to them by the few brave travelers that still travel along Ethova’s decaying roads. Loggers seeking to peddle their firewood claim that the beastmen have returned to Breywood Forest, while others whisper of strange lights recently seen in the windows of the long-abandoned Maggot’s Tower. Most troubling by far, however, is the lack of travelers coming south into Carnley along Raven’s Road, which winds through the Banerock Mountains north of the city. While travel from the northern provinces of Ethova has slowed considerably over the past decade, it has been nearly three months since anyone was seen coming south through the mountains, leading many to wonder just what sort of horrors might have taken root within the dark places there.
It is a time of great struggle for the people of Carnley, and the city – not to mention the nation of Ethova – is in need of heroes to help fight back the rapidly encroaching darkness.
All characters should have some sort of connection to Keryn Allion, a human merchant struggling to keep her business afloat in these troubling times.