Formerly the bandit-inhabited lands of Trassia, Vraitrasse is known for being miserable, cold, and frightening, this duchy was one of the first to become part of Saldecla. Rumor has it that the duke, Armand Bloodstar, is the same man who was knighted and later titled by the second king. Gossip also tells that the Hero of Light, a savior from a time gone by, was born a bastard child to the duke, and ran away to avoid his father's iron grip.
Monster's inhabit the lands, and the people are wary, but live in two close-knit baronies, each the size of a village or town. There is subsistence farming, and the architectural style is archaic. Many criminals live here, because it is difficult for the law to reach them.
Even though the people are poor, taxes are always paid promptly to the king.
The population is around 400 people in Vraitrasse, many of them either descended from bandits or runaway criminals seeking a new start on life. Although the duke offers those who are seeking to continue criminal activities are often found dead after their third transgression. The people are awkward around outsiders, but tend to be good-hearted and hardworking.
Names tend to be primarily French in root, with surnames relating to familial accomplishments from the past or a passed down family profession. Rarely, it may refer to a hair or eye color, or to an unusual feature.
Climate and Geography
Situated along the northern cliffs of the main island, this duchy is cold, unforgiving, and covered in rocks and dense forests protected by the duke against unsustainable logging practices.
There are only three human settlements-- the ducal capital (often uninhabited), and the two barony towns.
Economy and Agriculture
Vraitrasse's main industries are farming and hunting. Typically, once or twice a year, the local traders depart from Vraitrasse and deliver goods to market (usually animal skins and livestock). From everything they sell, they keep two percent of the profits and return back the rest. From this, the people pay their taxes to the crown, or send the traders to purchase goods for them.
This duchy is not a good place to grow crops, but many families work together on a single farm to provide enough vegetables for the hardy people to survive.
Most homes in Vraitrasse are stone and covered in earth and moss. Large homes aren't unusual, since the original builders several generations ago decided that it was easier to make a large home than it was to try to expand a small home. Many families hang furs so they don't have to heat the entire house, and use either iron stoves or captive young fire slimes for heating.
The noble families tend to live in stone brick houses with thick wall-hangings to ward off the cold. They have many rooms, and usually shut off rooms not in use. These stone brick homes have few windows, always paned in thick glass, and used primarily for watching for danger over the low stone walls that surround each settlement.
The Bloodstar home is unique in Vraitrasse. It is built as a fortress with tall walls that house a small stone town inside. During times of danger, all citizens once stayed there under the duke's protective eye, though because of the construction techniques, the buildings are very drafty and cold, making for a miserable stay.
None of Vraitrasse's architecture could be considered delicate or elegant. It is uniformly squat, and no house but a baron's or the duke's has any structure higher then a single story.
Vraitrasse is home to slimes, goblins, orcs, lutin, and dire bats in large number. Less common monsters include dire rats and dire spiders. The most common monster elements in this region are ice, dark, and poison.
Not quite monsters, there are large, aggressive otters who live at the bottom of the nortern cliffs.
The Bloodstar family rules the Duchy of Vraitrasse, rumored to be the first noble family of the country.
Armand Bloodstar is the family's hereditary name for males in the family, and though the duke has a son, he has never been married. It's rumored the duke is immortal, and his son is the Hero of Light.
The family name famously comes from a gift from the second king of Saldecla-- the heartwood of a tree raised on his blood, and called the Bloodstar for its shape. It is the family's prized treasure.
About every fifty to hundred years, the duke hires staff to clean his home and tend to it. This is typically a lifetime occupation that results in high pay and an easy retirement (should the duke or the servant decide it is wanted or needed). The duke hires about 5% of the residents of his land, allowing his barons to select who should come to him.
The two baronies belong to the Guillory family, headed by Antoine, and the Treestand family, headed by Jean, and set to be inherited by one of his twin grandchildren-- Claude or Henrietta.
- The Duke is hiring.
Duke Bloodstar has sent a message to his barons, asking for servants to help care for his home. This job is usually lifelong, though everyone is free to quit. He pays well, and offers quite a bit of vacation time. The last time he was hiring was a seventy years ago. Twenty years ago, the last person to serve him returned to live out the rest of her life with her family and enjoy retirement at his insistence. The two barons are seeking out trustworthy people to send to their liege lord.
- Visitors are coming to the Treestand family's barony.
Specifically, visitors seeking the hand of Henrietta Treestand. Her aging grandfather may not have wealth, but being right below the most influencial duke in Saldecla may have its perks.
- Baron Antoine Guillory has gone missing.
It's not unlike him to go visit the Treestand family, or make the trip out to the cliffs to stave off boredom, but he hasn't been seen in days, and his pregnant wife is concerned. There are rumors that the Duke came to see him not long before his disappearance. Antoine's wife is dealing with his duties as Baron in his absense.
- Several of a local shepherd's goats have gone missing.
The girl is distraught because one of the missing goats belongs to Claude Treestand. She's trying to quietly organize a search party to find it before Claude notices.
- Traders are about to venture out.
With rumors of more goblin activity than normal, they're a little leery of leaving the safety of the barony towns. Sure, once they get through the mountain pass, they'll be safe, but until then, they insist they need protection, or won't go even for ten percent.
- An early winter is predicted.
An escaped convict, formerly a student in the Highpoint Academy, has been watching the skies and says the cold airstream will be coming through as much as a month early, leaving the duchy scrambling to harvest and send out crops.
Major Historical Events
Formerly a small collection of barbarian clans, the people were brought together when a clanless man named Armand noticed how many had died during a particularly bad winter. He went to each clan and promised the warm lands to the south in what is now Axevrai, and they rallied with him. Their venture south ended in failure, and they were sent back to Trassia.
Armand returned alone to the newly-forming kingdom at the Hall of Clans and approached the leader, who called himself a king. After intense discussion, Armand convinced him to not only wed a woman from Trassia, but also to allow the northern people refuge for the coming winter in two towns. Immediately after the discussions were over, a scout reported to the King that Trassians had invaded the two northern towns. They had killed nobody, but were demanding housing and food. The King in anger told Armand to remove his people from Clans land. Armand left him, and a week later, scouts returned to tell that the two towns were empty, the people having gone with the Trassians.
When Armand returned a year later with the same requests, the King told him to return the Clanspeople. Armand told the King that they went willingly. The discussions were aggressive, and after a week, the two emerged, having come to an aggreement. Trassians would not try to invade, and Clans would send winter aid.
A generation later, Armand returned to find the old king had died, leaving a young child, and assisted in raising the youth despite assassination attempts by other clan leaders who wanted the seat. When the youth, Claude, reached adulthood, he named Armand his second in command, called a Duke, and dissolved the clan halls, then named the kingdom Saldecla. Armand went to his people to speak with them, and afterwards, he returned to King Claude to tell him that his people would join his kingdom if he would continue to assist them through the winters.
Claude had a road built between Trassia and Saldecla as a sign of his agreement, and with the gift of the Bloodstar, Armand became Duke Armand Bloodstar I, and later, Trassia became Vraitrasse.