The kingdom of Thistlefeld controls the swampland just south of Grelden Lake and north of the Calrac River. The swamp is filled with thick-trunked, hundred-foot tall kressys trees interspersed with unstable, marshy ground and wide, stagnant pools. Thistlefeld castle occupies one of the few areas of solid ground, a large outcropping of earth and stone near the center of the kingdom called Avantyll.
The kingdom began as a shrine to a fallen avatar of Grethken known as Uvoyshae. According to legend, Uvoyshae fought a powerful abomonae somewhere to the northeast in the Donarzheis mountains. Although Uvoyshae defeated his enemy, he suffered a mortal wound.
The story claims he managed to make his way down from the mountains, but he finally succumbed to his injuries while crossing the swamp (others claim that the swamp was Uvoyshae's destination, but none can truly know the mind of the divine). Shortly after he fell, legends tell that a fey sorceress discovered Uvoyshae's body.
She recognized him at once as the avatar Grethken, the protector of marshes and fens, an avatar she and her people had long worshiped. Wracked by grief, she used all of her magic to raise a cairn to cover him, and that place became Avantyll, the "Hill of the Avatar.”
Sadly, the effort of the spell so drained her that when it was complete the sorceress collapsed atop the hill and died upon the great rock she'd raised. That was the end not only of the sorceress, but also of the fey of Thistlefeld, for she was their queen and the last of her people, the rest having fallen during the Age of Darkness.
Around two-hundred years prior to the arrival of the Alliance, an elven cleric of Grethken discovered the Avantyll and the remains of the sorceress. He sensed what this place was, and he set about building a shrine upon the hill. He interred the sorceresses' remains in the shrine and constructed a small hermitage at base of the hill.
When word of the Avantyll Shrine of Uvoyshae reached the outside world, many adherents of Grethken made pilgrimage to the site. In time, a small settlement grew up on the firm ground around the Avantyll, and the descendants of those early settlers still live in the modern town (which goes by the name of the hill it surrounds).
The castle that stands atop the hill today came much later. In the dark days that followed the Cataclysm, lawless bands of thieves wandered the countryside that later became the Free Kingdoms. In 223 AC the paladins of Grethken, who were sworn to protect the shrine, set about building a castle around it, to both defend it and provide a refuge for the people of Avantyll.
When the Free Kingdoms were founded in 345 AC, Paladin Remelon Northollow of Grethken's Order of the Thistle stood before the newly appointed High Council of the Free Kingdoms and declared the autonomy of the newly christened Kingdom of Thistlefeld. The council recognized Thistlefeld, and thus the kingdom was officially born.
Throughout its history, Thistlefeld has been ruled by the Order of the Thistle. A paladin is appointed by the High Temple of Grethken in New Erinor to serve as the Guardian. That paladin serves at the pleasure of the temple for as long as is deemed necessary. The most recent Guardian, appointed in 423 AC, is the human Paladin Imlyss Valmaer, a native of the region. The kingdom knows and trusts the man and looks forward eagerly to his rule.
Thistlefeld has adequate infrastructure. Its transportation routes are relatively safe and occasionally maintained, but the swamp makes travel difficult even on the best roads. They have the tools to support a few governmental programs and improvements, but the holy order is more focused on matters of the divine. The military consists almost exclusively of the Order of the Thistle. It is a small force, but they are formidable fighters.
As the government is managed by a pious holy order, they tend to work efficiently and with little corruption. They can quickly enact new economic policies and they adapt easily to sudden financial changes. Thistlefeld also has the networks and resources to strike at enemies from afar whenever the need arises.
The people of Thistlefeld are resilient and can overcome most of the hardships thrown at them. Most of them are healthy and recover after suffering from war, plague, or famine if given a little time.
Some of the people in Thistlefeld are educated, but most are not. Most do not know how to read, and only a rare few are schooled in other areas. Any additional schooling is primarily focused in the subjects of religion and the divine. Few wizards in Thistlefeld receive training, and the population is distrustful of arcane magic.
The people of Thistlefeld have strong traditions drawn largely from those of the Order. Knowledge is regularly passed down from one generation to the next giving the people a rich store of wisdom to draw upon in times of need. They draw tremendous strength from their faith and the gods often smile upon them for their piety.
Thistlefeld is known for its great diplomatic acumen and has an excellent reputation among the other kingdoms. It often comes out as one of the primary beneficiaries after engaging in critical diplomacy. The kingdom's network of relatively strong alliances and relationships serves it well in times of crisis, and a store of information on both enemies and allies allows the kingdom to gain the upper-hand in many negotiations.
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Art & Illustration
- Cartography by Nate Mangion