Dragonseye (4e Environment)
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After centuries of ruin, Archduke Rickard occupied Dragonseye in the name of his beaten race of humans to be a new beacon for a new age.
Monarch: Archduke Rickard
Neighbors: Carraway, Caliphate, Ironguard, Midhaven, Nereid Sea
On the shores of the Nereid Sea Dragonseye is a single city-state surrounded by hostile and suspicious neighbors. Only Midhaven appears to offer any real support to the small city, and then only insofar as it is a useful buffer between it and the Caliphate. The land around the city is arable and could eventually be plentiful. However, the history of this area is rife with war and bloodshed which led to Dragonseye being salted to prevent colonization. Rickard and the Dodecians are working to solve this pressing matter. Most people make their living by fishing or manufacturing goods bought through trade on the Nereid Sea only to sell them again. Winter is mild and trade as well as fishing is able to continue with only a slight increase in the fishers deaths and a decrease in the number of traders frequenting Dragonseye.
Rickard is the first monarch of Dragonseye. He was installed in an alliance with Midhaven and the enigmatic Queen Oncia against the encroachment of the Caliphate and Ironguard into the area. His land has been styled an "Archduchy" so that Rickard could not claim superiority or even equality to the monarchs of the other Free Kingdoms. Many humans see this (rightly) as an insult. Even in freedom, humans are perceived as a lesser race.
Humans are used as slaves in the Alabastrian Empire, Winteren, and Ironguard. Only in Minia and Midhaven are humans completely free, and even there, they are perceived as a lesser race, orphaned, Patronless, created without purpose. When Rickard was named Archduke, slaves began fleeing their masters to come to Dragonseye, the new homeland for humans. Along with them were smatterings of other races, seeking refuge form oppression and misery. These are hard people, but hopeful. They are uncultured, mostly illiterate, highly superstitious, but brave, hardy, and willing to die for their dream of liberty and security.
The History of Dragonseye is really the history of the human race.
According to legend, the population of humans when they first appeared was only twelve. These twelve may not have been true individuals, but rather archetypes or even descriptions of groups of individuals with similar characteristics. They claim to have originally hailed form the Fire Mountains, but their record includes no encounters with Titans, genasi, or dwarves, leading many to discount this origin. The "Twelve" as they are known, were:
- Ashra the Huntress
- Benjin the Wright
- Dani the Midwife
- Gada the Artisan
- Yosef the King
- Juda the Queen
- Lev the Fisher
- Naphtha the Dowser
- Reuen the Reaper
- Saachar the Soldier
- Simeon the Magician
- Zebula the Wise
The Twelve were supposed to have found themselves in the midst of Dragon territory. The Dodecon tells of their harrowing journey, avoiding halfling spies and sparti warriors, until they reached the shores of the Nereid Sea. There they founded the settlement of Dragonseye, so named, because they lived in the veritable eye of the Dragonlands.
The First Dragonseye
Dragonseye grew from a small settlement to Patronage's first city in a very short time. Knowing that this settlement would not remain hidden from Patron eyes for long, the last surviving of the Twelve, Simeon the Magician, instructed his Disciples on the construction of a Great Wheel which would protect Dragonseye from the Patrons who would surely seek the destruction of their patronless race. Then Simeon passed on to the next world.
Simeon's disciples did as instructed, and the Wheel operated beautifully. Its operation is only described in poetic terms in the Elemiad, but it is credited from stopping attacks from goblins, goliaths, sparti, and shedim. Dragonseye appeared secure for now.
However, where brute force would not work, the Patrons learned that more subtle means could be useful. Dragonseye had become known as a refuge from Patron excess. The city was soon full of races of all sorts. This allowed the Patrons to send spies into Dragonseye to learn what they could.
There came a time when a corrupt king took the throne. King Yosea was a vain king, and feared death, and he sought a way to gain the immortality of the Patrons. The Fey discovered this and they made a dark deal. They would grant him immortality but he in turn would give them the secrets of the Wheel. Yosea agreed to the dark pact and the City of Dragonseye was surprised by a massive goblin raid. In the raid Yosea's own Queen Zebel was abducted, a terrible unspoken toll for dealing with the Fey.
Yosea's daughter, Davra, had suspected her father was entreating with the Fey but could not imagine he would sell his own people for immortality. She managed to stop Yosea before he could permanently dismantle the Wheel. Yosea escaped, but Davra, now Queen, managed to save Dragonseye. She rebuilt the City and kept it safe from Patron incursion for another generation.
The dream of Dragonseye, however, would not last forever. The conquest of Dragonseye became an obsession for the mortal races loyal to their Patrons. This upstart orphan race was an insult to the hegemony of the Patrons. While many Patrons seemed to grow to accept the existence of a small Dragonseye settlement, many of the lesser races would not.
One such man was the ghilan warlord Nebu. Nebu pored over the stories of the goblin raid and discerned a weakness in the Wheel. He built a mighty navy and sailed across the Nereid Sea. With an army of wights, the necromancer attacked the peaceful city in the middle of the night. Utterly surprised, Nebu managed to decimate the inhabitants and convert them into wights. The residents of Dragonseye had to flee the city for their lives. Victorious, Nebu dismantled the Wheel.
After Nebu's conquest, Dragonseye was ruined and its human residents scattered through the Dragonslands, exiled for 250 years. The halfling Empress Lucinda was tutored by the human wizard Aris and was an ally to the race. When she divided her empire in three, she gave the eastern half to her human advisor Antigone. The western border of the Eastern Kingdom was the newly restored city of Dragonseye. Humans were finally allowed back into their city.
The independence of Dragonseye was short-lived. Another realm created by Lucinda, the Southern Empire, craved a port on the Nereid Sea, and Dragonseye was precariously connected to the Eastern Kingdom. The Southern Empire invaded and occupied the city. The humans remained loyal to their human monarchs and for their loyalty the Southern Empire persecuted and, eventually, exiled them. Dragonseye was once again free of human residents. When the Second Empire took Dragonseye from the Southern Empire, they allowed limited human return.
150 years later these humans revolted from the Second Empire and won brief independence for the city. However, a hundred years later, the Alabastrian Empire conquered the city, using it as a base for its continued incursions into the Second Empire. During this tumultuous period, two humans started rival movements.
Josephine was a prophetess, and widely reputed to be the most powerful prophetess ever to live. Some call her the "Thirteenth," after the "Twelve" original humans of Dragonseye. She taught that the ancient sacred texts of the Dodecon and Elemiad contained secret rituals that could be used to rediscover the Ancient Wheel of Dragonseye and create a new haven for humans. Her followers became known as Dodecians, although many humans who follow the lessons of Dodecon, but don't follow Josephine, call these followers the Josephinians.
Jonnan was a warrior who briefly served the Alabastrians as a slave and a gladiator. He claims that on his final battle before earning his freedom he had a vision of a large dragon arising from the floor of the arena, breathing a river of flame that burned all the invaders from Dragonseye, allowing the humans to reign once again. He founded the Order of the Dragon, which was dedicated to forcing the Alabastrians to leave at the edge of a sword. According to legend, he possessed the mighty Evararm, slayer of immortals. Many other legends are attributed to him.
Both groups had initial great success. Josephine was said to have worked several miracles and to have had incredible powers of prophecy. Her followers managed to work many of those miracles on their own, and, reportedly, made great strides in reconstructing the Wheel. Jonnan's warriors managed to carve out a quarter of the city free of Imperial influence.
Neither group, however, would outlast their founder. The Empire eventually send an inordinate number of troops to surround Jonnan's Quarter. Every man, woman and child within the Quarter was slaughtered, and the entire area was razed to the ground. It is said that Jonnan was heard in a fierce argument just before the Empire entered his quarters and that a dragon was seen fleeing Draonseye just as the soldiers arrived. Josephine was arrested on charges of necromancy, tortured in an unsuccessful effort to make her publicly confess her guilt and then executed.
The legacies of Jonnan and Josephine live on. Numerous human rebellions have adopted Jonnan's banner over the centuries, attempting to retake the city. The Dodecians continue to meet in secret places, poring over the prophecies of their sacred texts and trying to reconstitute the Wheel. These movement have had a profound effect on the pride of the Patronless humans, filling them with purpose and inner strength, but it has also engendered a distrust of humans, particularly among those nations that occupy the ruins of Dragonseye, and have served as a justification for a number of measures that discriminate against this peculiar race.
Alabastria occupied Dragonseye for 200 years. At the end, the cost of human resistance was greater than the benefits of a port city so close to their operations in the Second Empire. But rather than abandon the city, in 1386, the Empire razed it to the ground, and forced the human inhabitants to scatter throughout the Free Lands.
Nearly 500 years later a human named Khosra took the throne of the Second Empire. She allowed other humans to begin to rebuild the shattered city. However, it quickly became apparent that the lich Efthal intended to corral humans in the city where he could perform necromantic experiments on them in secret. Within three years Efthal had gathered the humans he wanted for his experiments and his puppet Khosra ended free Dragonseye and razed all the buildings the new colonists had rebuilt.
Over the years, other kingdoms rebuilt parts of Dragonseye. But the rebelliousness of humans, and their connection to Dragonseye, was a matter of public record. No ruler would allow humans to repopulate the city again. Humans attempted to create new Dragonsye movements elsewhere such as Oncia and what would become Winteren, but were met with persecution. The reading of the Doedecon and Elemiad were banned, books burned, and prophets persecuted.
Dragonseye in the North
The darkest days of the diabolical Efthali Dynasty came just before its destruction. In a desperate effort to find a new ritual to counter the mighty magic of the Caliphate, Efthal engaged in all manner of nefarious experiments. He had found that humans were particularly malleable to his brand of necromancy, and he had his death lords herd as may humans as possible in pens so that he could experiment upon them.
Some humans on the fringes of the Second Empire heard the rumors of the pens. Many refused to believe the rumors. Efthal was surely not that evil. But many more understood the truth. The decided that they had to leave the Empire. Those to the south fled to the Alabastrian Empire, where they were welcomed. But those to the north had no such recourse. Instead, they fled into the wilderness, first into the Barrens, and then, when Efthal's men began to burn the forests down, further north to the very foothills of the Ochre Mountains.
There, in 1990, the humans founded a small settlement which they named "New Dragonseye". After the fall of the Second Empire the Caliphate decided to leave this fledgling community alone, with the understanding that they would not try to recapture "Old Dragonseye", which was now under Caliphate control. The humans readily agreed.
Slowly, New Dragonseye became a haven, a beacon, for persecuted humans throughout Patronage. Although occasionally beset by ogre and goliath attacks from the mountains, or ghilan and wight attacks from the Dead March, the new nation endured peacefully for two and a half centuries.
In 2265, the dream came to a dreadful end. The ghilan warlord Yaro had become disillusioned with the ways of Duat. The Shinigami had retreated from the world, and warlords fought warlords for no purpose and no honor. Yaro led his tribe through the dangerous Dead March to the promise of a free kingdom. When he arrived on the far end of the Dead March, his people weary and starving, his people despaired. They knew of no means of survival without wight automatons for menial labor, but their serats had not survived the passage. When Yaro came upon New Dragonseye, he had his answer. He conquered the humans of New Dragonseye and prepared to slay them and turn them into wights.
The demise of humanity was halted by an invasion of ogres and goliaths. These creatures had seen the destruction wrought by the lich Efthal. They would not allow such necromancy to be used in the foothills of their Patron Realm. Yaro met with a representative of the Titans. Some say, he was invited into one of the Titan's strongholds in the peaks of the Ochre Mountains. At the end of the conference, an agreement was reached. The humans would be enslaved, and the ghilan would forsake necromancy. The Titans would send goliaths to act as judges and guardians to both help them control their human slaves and to ensure no necromancy was being used. This compact formed the Free Kingdom of Winteren, but spelled the end of New Dragonseye.
When the Free Kingdoms of Carraway, Ironguard, Midhaven, and the Caliphate engaged in a pitched battle in the ruins of Dragonseye some reportedly saw the seas begin to boil, as legend states had happened before the Leviathans entered their slumber. The motion momentarily caused a lull in the battle when Rickard, an unknown human and former Wintreni slave, led a ragtag band in between the two armies. Rickard brought the sides together. The meeting lasted for a month, and was attended by General Gamaliel of the Caliphate, King Temur of Ironguard, Queen Jaha of Midhaven, Queen Giane of Carraway, and Queen Oncia. When it ended, a fragile armistice had been reached, and the armies withdrew, acknowledging Rickard as the new Archduke of Dragonseye. Notably, however, the armistice was signed only by Rickard. Each of these nations retained their historic claims on Dragonseye, but the fragile politics of the age made it undesirable to expend the effort to keep it. Rather, they were content, for now, to allow Rickard to possess it rather than their more pressing enemies. This state of affairs will assuredly not last long. Richard has led many humans back into Dragonseye. Although the salted land restricts framing, the offer of a free human kingdom has lured many humans living in Winteren's New Dragonseye to return to Dragonseye.
- Heroes of Emancipation. Halflings have liberated a mass of Wintreni slaves and are trying to get them to Dragonseye. But the Wintreni army is hot on their heels. Can the heroes get to the caravan in time and sneak the slaves into Dragonseye?
- Heroes of History. In the ruins of Old Dragonseye, a strange tomb is found and heroes are needed to explore it.
- Heroes of Prophecy. Dragonseye has become a magnet for all manner of human prophets, many of whose prophecies contradict one another... until many of the prophecies concern a young band of adventurers. All the prophets agree: the heroes have an important job to do.
- Invasion. Armies again converge towards Dragonseye. The nations only hope is that a sneaky band o adventurers can sow dissension and perhaps get the armies to attack one another.
- Nereids. Voidyanoi arrive on the shores of Dragonseye with a warning. The boiling of the seas was the first of several signs. Dragonseye will fall unless there are heroes prepared to risk their lives to save it.
- Politics. A spy is in Dragonseye. The heroes must uncover the spy and his employer before he brings plans for the city's defense to their armies.