Introduction

The land of the Heath, Hæthiod was the least populated of the realms. Its farmlands were scarce; the only thing that grew in abundance upon the heaths was the bluebell, a little flower that became the symbol of Hæthiod. To some extent, the kingdom relied on Korndale and Adalrik for importing food. Its primary means of paying for these were its rich salt deposits, which supplied most if not all the Seven Realms. The salt trade was of such importance, it was under royal monopoly. Other than that, the southern counties grew olives in great numbers. The capital of Hæthiod was called Tothmor, which derived its name from Mount Tothmor; a lone mountain lying on the heath in the centre of Hæthiod. Unlike most of the other realms, Hæthiod did not have an animal motif as its banner but the bluebell flower upon white.

 

The capital

Tothmor was a rather unique city with many ekenames. It consisted of five districts or semicircles, whose edges touched Mount Tothmor. The top circle was reserved for the palace, its annexes and the Order garrison in the city. The other districts were progressively poorer with the lowest district being the slums of the city.

 

Hæthiod was unique in many ways. One was the absence of a dominant priesthood unlike the other six realms. Therefore, Tothmor was blessed with no less than six temples, one for each of the priesthoods. Historically, this led to many feuds and political schemes between the priesthoods as each of them attempted to reach a dominant position. The way towards this for the male priesthoods was the position of court seer; the monarchs of Hæthiod typically appointed a high priest from one of the temples as court seer, serving as religious advisor. Whoever  filled the role of court seer was usually able to leverage it into elevating their own priesthood. Although not a firm rule, the court seer was traditionally a man, which excluded three of the priesthoods. The other three priesthoods, whose homelands were coincidentally also the geographical neighbours of Hæthiod, more than made up for this.

 

History of Hæthiod and the outlanders

The dialect of Hæthiod was distinct and unlike any of the other realms. Many words were also used only in that realm, though certain terms seemed to have spread at least to Korndale and southern Adalrik. This unique quality of language could be seen in the names of the counties of Hæthiod, which seem unrelated to the old tongues of the northerners and the other southerners. An exception would be the county of Esmarch, which is clearly of northern origin; and in fact, there was a small enclave of northern nobility in Hæthiod, though over the centuries this  became in name only.

 

The reason for this dates to the first great outlander invasion. The presence of the outlanders was another defining feature of Hæthiod. As the south-eastern border of Adalmearc, Hæthiod often suffered incursions of outlanders, the apparently barbarous tribes living beyond the Langstan. This had several effects. Firstly, eastern Hæthiod was all but desolate; the population sought towards Tothmor, towards one of the southern cities in the realm, or left the realm altogether.

 

Secondly, the practice of archery was widespread. As the only realm, the heathmen used the longbow as a primary weapon; it was a necessity for the farmers and yeomen of the kingdom to be able to defend themselves expertly. As a result, most men living outside the cities were skilled archers. It was very common for second sons to find employment as bowmen elsewhere in the realms.

 

The first outlander invasion

The last effect of the outlanders lay in the origins of the royal house of Hæthiod. Somewhere around the 6th century, the outlanders launched a strong campaign deep into Hæthiod, seemingly intent on conquest. Hitherto, the outlanders had arrived primarily as raiders, but by all accounts, this was a genuine invasion numbering in many thousands. The Order garrison as well as the king of Hæthiod and his vassals rode out to fight the invading army. Presumably they underestimated the outlanders, for they were all but annihilated on the field of battle. The entire royal line of Hæthiod was slain along with the Order marshal of Hæthiod and most of the Order’s soldiers.

 

The outlanders then marched upon Tothmor, which was more or less defenceless and doomed to fall within days. Reinforcements and a new army were being assembled near the border between Hæthiod and Adalrik in the jarldom of Ingmond; however, it was not poised to march out anytime soon enough to reach Tothmor. Then, in a most striking decision, the current jarl took action on his own. Erhard gathered what men were available of his levies along with the few reinforcements that had arrived and rode out on his own initiative, crossing the border into Hæthiod.

 

What happened next was a combination of skill, determination, and luck, as tends to be the case in battle. The outlanders had split their forces in two; one part rushed towards Tothmor, ostensibly to seize the city as swiftly as possible. The other part of the army remained further south, most likely to storm the lightly defended southern cities of Hæthiod. Thus, when Erhard’s forces arrived near Tothmor, they found only half the enemy forces waiting.

 

The outlanders were presumably not expecting an attack, since their scouts would have informed them that no other armies were present in Hæthiod than the one they already defeated. Thus, Erhard’s numerically inferior forces nonetheless carried the day, intercepting the outlanders about a day’s ride south of Tothmor. The fighting took place on a large field of bluebells, which lent its name to the fight; the Battle of Bluebells, as it was afterwards known.

 

The surviving outlanders fled south towards the remaining half of their army, but Erhard kept up sharp pursuit in an astonishing display of endurance. Once the jarl and his forces reached the other outlanders, the latter seems to have been demoralised by the defeat their fellows had suffered. Regardless of the precise circumstances, Erhard gained another crushing victory. It is said that their riders pursued the outlanders all the way to the Langstan and barely any escaped.

 

Establishment of the new royal house

Erhard’s bold action solved not one, but two problems for the high king in Adalrik, King Sibold. With the death of the king of Hæthiod and his immediate heirs, a successor had to be chosen; one that would not allow the remaining counts, especially those with possible claims on the throne, to cause further strife in a weakened Hæthiod. Erhard not only destroyed the invasion of Sibold’s vassal kingdom but also showed himself as the prime candidate for the throne. Within a few weeks, Erhard presented himself before the high king and was granted the crown of Hæthiod for his services.

 

Upon arriving in Tothmor for his coronation, some of the Hæthian counts grumbled against this decision. Some because they felt overlooked in the matter of succession; others because they, quite rightly, assumed that Erhard would be more inclined towards awarding the now masterless fiefs to northerners rather than native members of the nobility of Hæthiod. Although Ingmond lay south of the Weolcans, its importance as a site of worship meant that it always had a strong presence of northerners, which included the jarl in question.

 

When faced with these objections against his ascendance to the throne, most notably his lack of ‘blue’ blood, i.e. not being related to the previous kings of Hæthiod, Erhard was unfazed. He pointed out that none had complained about the colour of his blood when it was shed on the heaths in defence of the realm. If they desired blue, this would have to do, and it is said that he then threw a bluebell onto a table in front of him, a reminder of his victory at the Battle of Bluebells. Whether this story is true or apocryphal is impossible to judge; certainly Erhard’s position was secure, being backed by not only King Sibold but having the general adoration of the Hæthian people.

Regardless of the veracity of this story, Erhard subsequently adopted the bluebell as the emblem of his house as well as the realm.

 

Northern influence in Hæthiod

This historical event explains the presence of northerners in not only Hæthiod but in its royal house; though over the centuries, intermarriages eroded the differences between the new northern nobility and the old aristocracy. Such differences primarily showed itself only in names; for a long time, it was custom for the kings of Hæthiod to name their sons in northern tradition, though even that seems to have eventually died out. There remained a certain prejudice among the old noble families of Hæthiod, however, who often disliked what they considered the new aristocracy; the new houses of northern descent, brought in by Erhard to replace those fallen in the war against the outlanders. Esmarch, whose very county was created anew by Erhard and given to his brother as fief, was the best example of this new aristocracy compared to the old noble houses of Lakonia, Lykia, Leukas, Argolis, and others.

Hæthiod

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