The Summer Heroes
Gelden and Jund
Gelden and Jund
The Northern Republic currently occupies the boundaries of the former kingdoms of Gelden and Jund. Gelden, located on the northern coast of Penwith, and Jund, an island just north of it, are estimated to be the oldest settlements in Penwith. Each city built an eponymous kingdom during the Age of Kingdoms. Several small islands are part of the traditional kingdoms, including the Market Isle, the Drakewaste, and the Witchwood.
There has always been extensive trade between the inhabitants of Gelden and Jund because each area is deficient in an important resource. Gelden’s soil is fertile and its hills forested, but it lacks minerals, whereas Jund’s mines produce plenty of ores but its rocky terrain cannot support large-scale agriculture (though its mountain sheep are the fattest and wooliest in Penwith).
The histories of Gelden and Jund are often related together because they are so intertwined.
The lands of Gelden and Jund were originally populated by warlike clans who lived in small villages and practiced subsistence farming, frequently raiding their neighbors. There are no written records from Gelden and Jund prior to the Resettling. By the time of the Resettling of the Lirian Elves a few villages had grown into proto-cities that conducted raids as far south as Brightwater.
The influx of Lirian knowledge and technology during the Resettling resulted in the two largest settlements becoming the first true cities in the North of Penwith: Gelden and Jund. These two cities developed royal houses out of former clan leaders, and each began to exert influence over the surrounding countryside.
The Age of Kingdoms
By 5 and 6 BR, when they first crowned monarchs, Gelden and Jund occupied approximately their present-day boundaries. The ruling houses of both Gelden (House Adunin) and Jund (House Firssa) remained in power from those first crownings to the coming of the Sorian Empire.
Tensions over resources mounted during the first hundred years of the Age of Kingdoms, with Gelden and Jund both eying the other’s land and plotting a takeover. Both societies stayed true to their clannish, warlike roots during this time, although the elves’ influence largely stopped the raiding.
In 269 BR the Army of Jund killed Raga the Golden, a dragon inhabiting the Drakewaste. Raga’s brother Ragnok retaliated by cursing Princess Sylan of Jund with a wasting illness. The itinerant warlock Hrothgar was able to cure the princess, and was awarded the Witchwood for his services.
The Adunins of Gelden capitalized on their people’s fear of witches in general, and the Witchwood in particular, by accusing the Firssas of dabbling in the dark arts and declaring them unfit to rule in 275 BR. Thus began the Witchwar (although no actual witches were involved; the Witchwood was magically locked down for the duration of the war and had no discernible contact with the outside world). The Adunins didn’t actually mind the witches, who mostly kept to themselves; however, they had been looking for a reason to invade Jund for several decades, and the witches were as good an excuse as any.
The Witchwar lasted four years and resulted in massive casualties on both sides. Eventually it became clear that neither Gelden nor Jund would be able to conquer the other—they were too evenly matched. The other four kingdoms of Penwith were finally able to negotiate a truce, the Brightwater Accord, in 279 BR.
The Peace in the North
The first decade or so after the Witchwar saw Gelden and Jund in an uneasy peace, but the terms of the Brightwater Accord eventually served their purpose. The Quarter Fairs became exceedingly popular, drawing merchants from all over Penwith and the nearer cities of Orem; and in 286 BR Crown Princess Sylan married Prince Edweard of Gelden, who was two years her junior and had begun living at her parents’ court soon after the Accord.
Gelden and Jund existed peacefully and prosperously from the Brightwater Accord to the Sorian invasion, growing ever closer together as their populaces intermarried; this period is called the Peace in the North.
The two kingdoms tried to marshall militias when the Empire invaded, but after over a hundred years of peace their armies were laughably ineffective. This was to the kingdoms’ advantage in the long run, however, since the Imperial governor paid the former kingdoms little heed during the Sorian occupation and ruled them with a lighter hand than the rest of Penwith. The Quarter Fairs were allowed to continue unmolested.
The Anarchy of the Islands
After the Year of Conflagration and the retreat of the Empire from Penwith, Houses Adunin and Firssa, recognizing the need for trained soldiers on Penwith to prevent future invasion by an Imperial-like force, collaborated to add a new attraction to the Summer Fair of 845 BR: the Summer Trials.
Post-Empire the cities of Gelden and Jund proper reverted to being ruled by House Adunin and House Firssa respectively, although both cities had lost virtually all territory outside their walls. Both families had survived the Sorian occupation and retained the trust of the people, largely due to the (doomed) heroics of a few members who tried to rally militias early in the occupation.
By the mid-9th century the houses had been intermarrying for so long (still adhering to the terms of the Brightwater Accord) that they were basically indistinguishable. In recognition of their mutual ties, as well as to aid the reconstruction of their lands by pooling resources, in 861 BR the two houses agreed to merge into House Adunin-Firssa. As in Brightwater, the Adunin-Firssas never styled themselves as monarchs after the Empire, instead going simply by Lord or Lady of Gelden and Jund.
Over the next century the Adunin-Firssas worked to expand Gelden and Jund’s influence to cover the entire area of both former kingdoms. In 980 this goal was finally accomplished due the efforts of Lord Tiran the Fierce, who spent the final decade of his life subduing by force the few remaining cities that refused to swear fealty to the Lords of Gelden and Jund.
The Northern Republic
Soon after forcibly unifying the territories Tiran died of wounds he had sustained during the campaign. His son and heir Tygon shocked all Penwith when he announced in 981 that the Lords of Gelden and Jund would transfer the rule of the newly unified area to the populace by holding elections the following year.
In late 981 the promised elections took place and the Northern Republic was born. This event is generally considered to mark the end of the Anarchy of the Islands.
The Republic is governed by a President, who is elected to a 5-year term by popular vote. The Republic maintains a standing army, the Army of the North.
The people of Gelden and Jund are viewed as slightly (sometimes quaintly) backward by other Penwithans. Due to the harsher climate of their lands and the scarcity of resources relative to the rest of Penwith, Gelds and Jundmen were traditionally grimmer and more warlike than their southern cousins, but also more resourceful; they have great respect for nature and seek to make the most of the limited bounty she provides. While Gelds and Jundmen were of necessity less warlike during the Peace in the North, they have regained some of their militaristic tendencies since the retreat of the Empire, albeit now purely in a defensive capacity.
Arts and Crafts
The artisans of Gelden and Jund are known for their craftsmanship; they prefer solidity to ornamentation. While their handicrafts can be austere-looking, they are also hardy and longwearing.
Jund is known for its woolen fabrics, which Jundmen wear in muted colors, but it is sold undyed at the Quarter Fairs so that southerners can color it to their liking. The complement of the wool industry is the tanning industry; Jund’s leatherworkers create highly-prized leather armor, in addition to more mundane leather goods. Gelden’s forests provide hardwoods for furniture and case goods that are prized for their minimalist yet pleasing forms.
While Gelds and Jundmen generally prefer sleek, minimal forms, this does not mean that they shun ornamentation entirely. When it is used ornament is usually relegated to surface patterns that do not distract the eye from the inherent natural qualities of the material. Jund is home to many master stonemasons and metalworkers, as the land is rocky and rich in ore; while three-dimensional sculpture is not popular in the North, shallow reliefs of graceful organic forms are found on many items, some of which are surprisingly utilitarian (for example, most windowsills in the North are carved with runes of protection, and many of these are further illuminated with stylized animal and floral forms).
Horticulture and Medicine
Gelden is particularly known for horticulture; both Gelds and Jundmen love nature, but Gelden’s soil is more fertile and better suited to the exotic and medicinal plants grown in conservatories to shield them from the harsh Northern winter. The Gelden Arboretum and the attached School of Healing Arts are renowned throughout Penwith as a monument to the beauty of nature and the premier medical facility (herbological and magical) in the archipelago, respectively.