The Mill Lands Edit
The Mill Lands are are the region of the Shay Valley and the Dorling Coast. They are bordered in the west by the Dorling Sea and in the East by the Lower Orne mountains. Much of the Mill Lands are arable farm land and a broad river network of tributaries from the River Shay form the region's most effective transport network. Between the Dorling Coast and the centre of the Mill Lands is the Karse, a high plateau that forms a natural barrier between the Dorling peninsula and the rest of the Mill Lands. The Karse gradually develops into the Lower Orne mountains as they sweep round from west to east, creating a Northern border to the Mill Lands. At the base of the Karse on both its east and west sides is thick forest, the eastern nd western Karsewoods, the Eastern Karsewoods sweep across the north of the Mill Lands. In the far north east of the Mill Lands, Free Welland can be located, a sparsely populated and completely autonomous region of the former Kingdom of Pelonastrius . The region is about the size of England and Wales.
One of the first people of the Mill Lands were the Haatchi, tough nomadic riders now forced to the peripheries, living in the Orne mountains and beyond. The Haatchi forced the indigenous Broek peoples from the northern Mill Lands and pushed them almost to the edge of extinction. Haatchi are typically tall, brown or black haired with an olive complexion, refined features and a serious or humourless demeanour. Their society is a complex and shifting system of family alliances, with high or ruling Haatchi living in the far north and having little to do with the Mill Lands. A north (high) Haatchi is very unlikely to travel south and meeting one for a Mill Lander is very unlikely. Southern Haatchi are those from less prestigious families, they often trade with the Mill Lands the artisan blankets, ceramics and metal smithing of the Haatchi, which is normally considered to be of high quality. They are treated with a mixture of fascination, fear, prejudice and respect by the Mill Landers.
Swithick (or Westerner) are the people who came to the Mill Lands in successive waves of migration from across the Dorling Sea from Nordea in the past six hundred years. They originate from the Nordean-Shand to the west. Swithick Mill Landers are farming and trading people who established towns and cities along the River Shay (Pelonastra in the South as the Shay meets the Kouric Sea, to Drake sixty miles up river, to the Open City of Hale, Trent on Shay, Ferian and in the far north in the foothills of the Orne, the mining town of Mont Inaer). The Swithick tend to be stocky, fair and not quite the beauties that the Haatchi are. They pride themselves on their reasonableness, tolerance and common sense, but much of this is a myth. In Del Vettor, they are reknown for their stubborness and derided as stupid, szivirik, a derivation of Swithick means dull witted or naive. Swithicks are the dominant peoples of the Mill Land but it is unlikely they would refer to themselves as being Swithick, simply Mill-Landish is how they see themselves. Many have little time for politics or religion and are inherently conservative in their views.
Lund Isle Folk Edit
The Lund Isles in the North West, off the coast of the Mill Lands in the Dorling Sea produce a race of fair, blonde people called the Lund Isle Folk or Lunders and originate from Northern Nordea. Many live in the fishing communities along the Dorling Coast.
The Ferry Folk Edit
Among the most marginalised and least understood people of the Mill Lands are the Ferry Folk, a short, slender people with olive skin, dark hair and broad facial features. They speak a version of Olorian (where they are originally from) and a sub dialect of Swithick called Mayaral, that most Swithicks find unintelligible. There are several thousand Ferry Folk who ply the waterways of the Mill Lands with their brightly coloured barges and skiffs, transporting coal, wheat, horses or anything else required up and down the Shay Valley. Without them the region would collapse, but this does not stop Swithicks from treating them badly, refusing them rooms in taverns or in some instances attacking Ferry Folk boats. Ferry Folk are generally well received in Welland and with the Haatchi.
Politics and Administration Edit
For three and a half centuries, the Mill Lands has only partially had structures of government. Three centuries earlier the region was dominated by the government of King Samuel II, a shrewd but often tyrannical ruler who's power stretched far across the Kouric Sea but ended in a disasterous campaign to seize Del Vettor . The largely apathetic Swithicks eventually rebelled over the issue of taxation to pay for the King's war and with the help of the Haatchi, overthrew the dynasty. In the aftermath of the fall of the King, who fled into exile with his family, the De Hauers, the towns and cities of the region became self administering, some became republics, others run by local nobles. The former centre of the De Hauer's rule was Pelonastra , a city which still dominates the Mill Lands and is ruled by a council of ministers. It still extracts feudal dues and tythes from the rest of the region but in return provides armies, magistrates and poor relief during times of dearth.
The Mill Land Gentry Edit
Since the collapse of Pelonastrius, the Mill Lands have been governed in part by the Lords Elect of the Council. A far more significant role has been played by the League of Trent, a regional council dominated by nobility and gentry merchants in Trent on Shay. Representatives from Mont Inaer, Ferian, Trent, Hale and Drake meet monthly to ensure the maintenance of both Council law and the laws they are entitled to each enact by dint of their towns and cities having royal charters dating back to the De Hauers. The job of the league is complex, their rulings frequently perverse and corrupt and their main interest is in ensuring the uninterrupted flow of river trade up and down the Shay Valley. The League has the power to raise a militia from the town companies (men who are forced to do pike drill every third Yoroday in the month, but very few of whom could be considered soldiers). Other forces, like the Northern Border Horse and the Honourable Company of Trailkeepers are not under their command. The League has become increasingly worried about the popularity of the Machenites in Pelonastra and have called Prince Bard, who sits on both the council and the league to speak with them, knowing that he is the Lord of Drake and by rights has more access to armed force than anyone else.
Local Government Edit
• Village have aldermen voted by those with greater than five acres of land on to a village council. • Groups of villages (originally groups of nine) are organized into Neyns (sometimes there are up to 30 villages in a Neyn) • Pelonastra appoints a Reve of the Neyn to each Neyn, responsible for tax and the administration of justice. More remote regions might have a wandering reve (which is, ostensibly what Chancellor is) • 'Red Reves' hunt down mages or anyone with The light of god'. • Lord Marshals raise troops in the Neyns • Control the Reves, control the land. Their home is St Stephens Gate at the north end of Olinast, which can only be accessed from the river and has stone steps down to the waterfront. • The Rever spymaster Chancellor suspects there are 'Returnists' among the Reves, wanting the De Hauers back, and willing to deal with the Machenites to achieve this. • Tobias Hogg of the Black Cat Gang was once a scribe to the Reve of the Caddick Cross Neyn. He was thrown in the Spire for stealing (he is a compulsive stealer). Many of the members of the Black Cat Gang have connections with St Stephens gate. • As a scribe, he wrote the reports and legal documents for the Reve and has a n encyclopedic memory of what he has read. He knows about the story of the sowers of Mearish Hill, who occupied the land, and it was rumoured that among them was a mage who could make barren earth fertile and in whose command there were birds and beasts. Tobias Hogg is good at retaining information that is valuable.
Armies and MilitiasEdit
The Honourable Company of Trail Keepers
The Honourable Company as founded four hundred years ago and was established by a royal charter, issued by Prince Rayell De Hauer. The lands between Trent and Mont Inaer were considerably wilder and more lawless at the time and the company was funded by a royal allowance to act as trained guides along the northern trails. They were given powers by the crown to act as constables of the peace along the way and act against law breakers but their numbers have traditionally been low and they have helped to patrol the wagon routes and help travellers in distress. The order has shrunk since the fall of the De Hauers and is only sixty or so strong for the whole of the Mill Lands, but men of the Honourable Company are respected by most Mill Landers (they go virtually unpaid but are always likely to be offered a free meal or hay barn to sleep in if they pass through a settlement). Most are armed steel capped staff (called, for some reason, an 'Angry Madeleine'), a long hunting knife and a bow. In appearance, more Faramir than Jon Snow.
The Northern Border Horse
This is the closest the authorities in Pelonastra have to a cavalry division. The Northern Border Horse are garrisoned on the border with Welland and Haatchi Country. They were originally stationed there by King Sam II and his son Taen to wage the war of conquest against Welland that ultimately broke up the kingdom of Pelonastrius into the Mill Lands. The Northern Border Horse fought several wars during Sam's reign and afterwards against the Haatchi, and prevented a Haatchi land grab after the collapse of Pelonastrius, but thousands of horsemen were killed. There are about 600 of them left and they are the closest the Mill lands have to a chivalric order.