Torquill, House of (2000 gp): Torquill suffered under goblin attacks for many years and lost much of its holdings in the last few centuries. Subsequent rulers often dreamed of greater days, when the house's potential was limitless. Modern descendants claiming the name maintain that their keeps predate all others, even being older than the bastion of Angel to the north.
In the beginning years, ambitious humans staking claim to rich forests and farms enjoyed several generations without confrontation. They constructed a massive castle the first self-declared king (Avraham) dubbed Holace. This castle still stands as one of the largest in the world. As a walled community, both Angel and most cities of Limshau are bigger but as a castle, there is no larger on the continent. At almost a million square feet, the walls and battlements enclosed three keeps, five courtyards, six free-standing towers, seven cloisters, and fifteen separate royal houses. On a manufactured hill in the southern corner of the star-shaped outer wall is the "king's tower" (deceptively named as the king never resides inside), whose foundation begins above the ramparts. With a mountain against its southern face and a river across its northern face, the only sound assault can occur from the east or west, most likely west unless an army were to approach from the ocean. The star-wall makes a frontal assault costly. The largest keep is simply called "Castell" and is considered the second line of defense. In its ward, it guards the royal family as well as the entire Holace water supply. Underground catacombs could house the entire castle population in an emergency and shuffle them to an escape tunnel at the other side of the river.
At its peak, Holace Castle could hold 50,000 people in beds, double that in wartime without straining its resources. Before Avraham passed the realm to Yaphet, the castle would suffer a bitter onslaught against an army of goblins that were rampaging the area. After breaking their will against the wall, the goblins retreated, but were massacred by Torquill cavalry that ran them down in pursuit.
What followed was a century and a half of expeditious expansion. A dozen new keeps were built with loyal lords sworn by oath or blood placed in control. The land was safe and roads were quickly tread on by people and their caravans. The modern landscape of Canam would be very different if Torquill's empire continued unabated, but that was not to be. Like many other fledging kingdoms in the first few centuries (like Kardia and Plicato), Torquill's past is marred by mystery. At some point, the empire collapsed, forcing several of the noble birthed to abandon their territories to fight for control of the throne. Rumors point to conflicts with Dawnamoak, these being the first initial meetings with humans that soured the chaparran's opinion of mankind from then on.
Torquill was soft on banning slavery but did not limit its chattel to just elves, believing feudalism required unpaid servants for a kingdom to grow quickly. Yaphet had intended on instituting limits and eventual bans on slaves but could never gain the support from the lower lords to do so. Yaphet II would sign such limits, insisting all servants must be free to leave, though wages for the lower class were still a pittance. By this time, such mandates were considered miniscule and tardy. Torquill historians believe the chaparrans of Dawnamoak conspired with Duke Paulus of Logana to assassinate the Torquill King, with promise of alliance with the powerful elvish nation, an alliance that never occurred despite the murder. When Yaphet II fell to a poisoned cold-iron dagger, it was accused that a human committed the crime. Despite being a half brother to the felled king, Paulas of Logana never made a play for throne, leaving Yaphet's daughter, Elsa, for the title. She in turn asked Paulas to be regent for three years until she turned eighteen, and thus be able to take the throne. She would be placed in ward of Paulas and he would transfer his keep's flag to hang under Torquill's banner.
When Yaphet's wife, the lady Thema of Goodchild, discovered Paulas in Elsa's embrace, the kingdom shattered. Paulas had no wife and Elsa was considered of age by the kingdom's standards. They were not related by blood but Thema was still enraged, ordering the arrest and trial of Paulas immediately. She accused him of conspiring to take the throne and seduce her daughter in the progress. Elsa's deposition was never taken despite her pleas to be heard. Paulas called the trial unjust and shouted on the stands for his loyals to gather. Paulas had bound Logana, Wolfwood, and Kinkannis to his cause and they began their march to Holace Castle. Thema had already called Goodchild's army to the walls but a summons to lords Ragahn and Zelliger and their fortress of Barbecallis was unanswered.
Holace Castle would suffer another assault, from the hands of its own armies. The civil war of Torquill was a single conflict that took 650 days and cost 55,000 lives. By the end of it, the Torquill nobility was decimated. The majority of the knights had died. Baron Alfred Fredricks of Freehold, Countess Emily Rezendes of Logana, Baron Willum Romande of Wolfwood, and Lord Leonard Rosheim of Kinkannis all were among the fallen. Duke Paulas was killed by friendly fire into the second year. Later, Elsa admitted to her mother that she had loved Paulas and was the instigator of the affair but that neither had plotted to kill the King. Thema believed her account, but the lady was killed by a sniper's arrow upon leaving the Castell. Elsa called for parley and ordered the flags of truce run up the banner. The only survivor of the direct Torquill line met with Baronetto Anton Torono, heir of Wolfwood, now two weeks into his reign. She would marry him and salvage the nobility. He agreed and the war ended. Alas, it was too late. In the intervening weeks, almost immediately, massing goblin forces stormed south and razed the castles Logana, Wolfwood, and Goodchild. Messengers could hardly stay in front of the rampaging army. Twice in as many years, Holace would be the site of another great battle. United but battle-worn, the armies of Torquill braced their remaining hosts within the beaten battlements of the great castle. Without hardly a pause, the walls were assaulted again. This time, after an arduous 18-month siege, the goblins breached the star-wall, pushing survivors all the way into the Castell. A second supplication to Barbecallis was unanswered and a plea to the chaparran elves of dawnaoak was also ignored. Despite continued harassment, the inner fortress would not breach and the goblins were broken again.
Rain had arrived, draining blood into the Konge River, soiling the sediment red, a pigment that never faded in the passing centuries. Of the 125,000 people known to have populated Torquill in its glory, only 35,000 remained. Among the dead in the second siege were most guard captains and the remaining knights and lords, including Anton Torono. Thankfully, by this time, Anton and Elsa had married (historically called the Marriage across the Moats) and she was pregnant with her first child.
The task ahead of Yaphet III was daunting. Holace castle was ruined and has never fully recovered. Even today, the rebuilding is not finished and the restorations already completed pale in comparison to the castle's previous grandeur. While still young, the new king would eventually forge alliances with several outlining realms including Ogium, Orchis, and Plicato. A married alliance with Antikari would eventually offer a Torquill descendant the opportunity to claim the seat on that house as well. However, the original Torquill splendor was gone. Villages like Goodchild, Logana, Wolfwood, and Kinkannis would be repopulated, but their keeps had long since fallen into collapse. The parishes are but shadows of their past glory. When a delegation finally reached Barbecallis, they found it deserted. To this day, no one knows what happened to Ragahn and Zelliger and their town's 15,000 people.
â€œI despise stallions. I ride them as I ride an ugly noble women--smiles for appearances and politics only. Stallions. All personality with no depth. They prance like ponies and trot with arrogance. I always say, respect your mules most of all. A stallion may lead with the king and gather the eyes, but a mule will follow behindâ€¦and carry your kingdom.â€