The nations that lie between Maheira to the west and the Eastern Kingdoms follow the expanse of the middanlands, the Toranton Kingdoms; once but the lone realm of Tor with Methleanos as its capital, sitting northeast of the Hharan Sea and the northern range of the Klashmere Mountains. The First King of Tor, Melental I, desired lands such as only the Maheirans (known commonly as the Calidorians—and the trueborn Hiírom—during those early days after the War of His Returned ended in 1103 SE) had gleamed before him.
There had been ten mighty kingdoms that rose from the first expansionary period of the Hiírom moving eastward from Maheira, committing wars and forming a hundred petty realms before the first alliances formed into the courts of each crown’s territories. While these histories have been retained by the purview of their domains, even if they were but the songs and tales left over from a time, such accounts have been overshadowed by the feats of greater men and knights; for unlike the customs of Maheira, there had been no preordained or established systems of rule that governed the land. Thus, did each of these newly established monarchies strive to set themselves apart from the others.
It’s rare for Tor to be included amongst the count of the middanland kingdoms before the First Conquests and the Toranton Wars alit the world, namely as it would eventually stretch its dominion over the other kings and lords which bordered its lands. These would be counted, from mightiest to the most petty (although appearances can be deceiving): Bol, known for their horses and military prowess; Marlovan, once named the center of trade in the middanlands; Malar, known for its wandering knights and chivalrous nobles and happy commoners; Iruar, a hard and mountains land; Osgorath, considered the wildest of the lesser kingdoms of the middanlands, known for its mercenary armies and warrior-kings; Belvor, ruled by a dynasty of queens; Cysl and Heln, ruled by siblings often at war; Meagren, whose kings and queens befalls an assassin’s blade every few years; Hillard, for its grassy plains and being the only kingdom of the middanlands to be peacefully introduced into the Toranton Kingdoms after the failed conquest of Emperor Roddam IV.
When a kingdom is conquered by the Torantons, they must follow the laws of Tor over their own, practice foreign customs, although they may retain their holidays. Worship of the Eedian nya Ansolas to the west is strictly forbidden, especially after the Vedrethal Betrayal of 1205 SE, which saw most of the bloodline of the First Emperors killed to end the Aggression. Each of the puppet Stewards meant to rule each of the provinces within the empire were required to keep the peace inside their own borders. Moreover, when rebellions rise up as they always do, a Steward must deal with the traitors using his own forces and resources, least armies march from Methleanos and treat it as a new conquest, killing and raping the very people of the country they deem to control, no matter if they are loyal or betrayers, Loyalists or Royalists. At one point or another, each province has had to deal with its own rebellions at some point, although only a handful were ever successful, and then, only for a short time. One of the few that managed to regain its independence was Resadora far to the southeast of the middanlands, tired of fighting wars that were not their own (for the peace secured by Arunamra did not last with her sons and daughters).
One of the last rebellions that took place before the desolation of the Toranton Kingdoms and its Stewards after the War of Old ended in 1635 SE, when all the forces of Emperor Asdonic sar Eadrenys (the bright lord Athulian in disguise) marched upon the abandoned halls of the Hadorns at Kelek Angren in order to end the Great Hunt and destroy the last of the Eedian nya Ansolas, the survivors growing in strength by uniting the factions of the dead Kingdom of Maheira and consolidating in the former halls of the Stoneborn Kings. This rebellion, which took place in Hillard in 1601 SE, was fought between two brothers of the Jormonts; Lyon, the eldest brother and rightful ruler of Hillard, and Lancret, known in the west as the Stallion for leading the Hillmen charge during the Battle of the Three Forks, where the Torantons were pitted against the Eskiels of Sordon and the Knightly Order of the Valley in Elhaven.
The Eedian nya Ansolas were widely worshiped across Aleóran for the miracles they were said to preform, and for the Vedrethal, who wandered the wilderness, enacting justice when they saw fit and protecting the commoners from bandits and nobles alike, though after the rebuilding Neailithan into the tower of Alándir, theirs came to be twelve who lived until the Great Hunt at the end of the reign of the Endúcar in Calidor. Caedairen, the Messenger of Old from the time of Icurian and Heluvian, served as the head of this new order with Queen Nasúri, sister of Taherían Endúcar, the last King of Maheira, serving as second amongst them. Ärwynal and Nemus, children of Fedrelian, who disappeared at the battle of Merrun Tos alongside his elder brother Taherían during the War of His Return, were third and fourth, with the remainder stemming from those who survived through the ages hiding after the wars of the younger days that nearly doomed the world.
It should be noted that the people of Sordon worshiped the Lady of the Mountains, a prominent figure in the south of Elhaven, centered on the village of Wilhimusk on the edge of the Mountains of Lurhan and the Vanhan Matsan, a divide beyond which the Ellúndar of Invala Dailn, the Maithandír of the Sydaunaen, ruled by Herranol, would eventually claim.
The battles fought between the Lyon and royalists led by Lancret of the Jormonts were many and fierce during this time of rebellion. Years before this time, the fortress of Raudhen was erected by Bendal Jormont, uncle of Lyon and Lancret, to watch over the eastern fields of the Rudimark, with a garrison of two-thousand men-at-arms and Knights of the Hills.
When the first blood was spilt during the night, the skies over Thanard were clear, the stars shone brightly, and the air as calm as the currents of the Stillwater Lakes near the Aareforth Mountains. Smoke rose on the horizon, villages burning beyond the walls of Thanard. The loyalist guard awoke Lyon Jormont to tell that his father, Grallin, Steward of Hillard for nearly forty years. “Your brother seeks a crown,” spoke Joeral sar Mayn, confidant of the now late Grallin and representative of Toranton interests in Hillard, as the Lyon entered the throne room to be announced as the new Steward. “His troops have ridden out to the villages beyond the wall to sack and burn them, sending a clear message that the reign of Stewards has ended.”
Inside the city, brothers turned against one another as thousands were slaughtered before the dawn, the people frightened by the fires they could see in the distance.
A mass of royalist commoners gathered outside the gates to the Veiled Keep, seat of the Stewards and Kings in Hillard. Eventually their persistence allowed them to break through the guard and storm their way to the throne room itself, although Lyon Jormont managed to flee with a retinue and Joeral sar Mayn, moving east across the land, picking up troops from each of the tyrforts on his way to Raudhen, where they could coordinate and plan for the war ahead. Back in Thanard, Lancret Jormont entered the Veiled Keep and declared himself the first King of Hillard since the days of Ryenal.
This new king was only twenty-one years of age by this time, whereas the Lyon was five years his senior. This left many of his father’s former court disgruntled by the young Jormont’s brazen acts of stealing rule of Hillard over the rightful heir—so, Lancret, annoyed by these murmurs, invited the descenders to a feast in the Great Hall of the Keep, to which he toasted to their honor and watched them slaughtered by the bowmen he stationed on the terrace and balconies overlooking the hall, laughing as the first arrows hit their marks when the doors were sealed shut and sealed from the outside. “There is a new rule in these lands—it’s called the right of blood, and much will be spilled in the days to come. Yours included, my dear lords, supporters of my good father—betrayers of the like,” went the words of toast Lancret gave to the court before watching them killed by his soldiers, or so according to the musicians hired to play at the feast.
Accounts of what happened next differ in the tales told in the days since, but it’s commonly believed Lancret Jormont, after watching the slaughter, went over to the harp near the bonfire and reassured the scared musicians, whom he promised to pay well if they wrote a ballad to tell of his victory that night, and if it put him in a decent light. Afterward, he took a seat at the harp and strummed its strings, singing a soft tune whilst covered in the blood of his father’s court.
When they find the last of us,
In the morning’s dawn,
A singer’s bode will bade the word,
To those who’ll hear him crow.
Back in Raudhen, the Lyon mustered his strength to strike back against his younger brother, whose forces were quickly gaining territory the western reaches of Hillard. When the Steward heard of the Stallion’s army nearing the holdfast of Etronbal, the home of his wife, Areeari, Lyon marched his forces for two days and nights to defend the tower on the fields before its battlements (Areeari hadn’t been with her husband at the time the royalists beset the Veiled Keep in Thanard—she had been on the road back from Etronbal on her way to Thanard when a messenger from Lyon rode up and warned her to turn back on the road). Lancret’s royalists suffered a crushing defeat at Etronbal, retreating to the tyrforts that run through the center of the country, cutting off travel on the roads moving east to west and forcing the loyalists to reclaim them before moving on to attack the false King of Hillard directly beyond them.
Three years passed from the start of the war to the last battle at Thanard, when the Lyon led the charge through the gates to confront his brother in the throne room of the Keep. Over twenty thousand died in the entirety of the war’s course, not including the innocents caught up between the two opposing sides (that number rounds closer to one-hundred thousand); with five-thousand dying on the walls of Thanard, loyalists and royalists, both. When Lyon Jormont (now called Lyon the Great by his soldiers for his victories) entered the throne room, he came to a grisly site of Lancret sitting on the seat of their father with the latter’s only child, Ysmerilla, a girl nine-years, dead in his arms with her throat cut—Lancret’s wife, Teruna, laying in a pool of her own blood at the bottom of the stony steps.
“What have you done, Lancret?” asked the Lyon, mournful for the loss of his niece and sister-by-law, walking up to his brother distraught in his madness.
“They were calling out… crying… young Ysmerilla? She would not stop when she saw the city burning from the tower. She came to me running with tears in her eyes: ‘Are we going to die?’ she asked. “I don’t want to die.’ ‘Do not cry, little one,’ I told her. ‘Princesses shouldn’t cry—it wouldn’t be proper.’ Teruna tried to comfort us both, told me that we needed to surrender, that the battle was lost.” Lancret murdered his family in believing they would have suffered a worsen fight when the Lyon’s loyalists stormed the city.
“Never would I have killed them, your wife and little Ysmerilla,” Lyon asserted, pulling his niece’s body from her father’s arms to lay her beside her mother. “They didn’t have to die. I don’t kill women and children.”
“You’ve killed more than a few these past few years, brother.”
“Soldiers, all of them—heeding your command,” the Lyon argued. “It was you who ordered the burning of the Rudimark and the River Sen.” They drew their weapons: the Lyon, wielding a great sword named Dyriae, and Lancret, with a hammer that earned the reputation of the Blackdawn. The two men fought on the steps of the throne room until morning rose, and Lancret fell in exhaustion, allowing the Lyon to make a final thrust into his brother’s chest, sundering the armor of the Stallion.
During the second of the three years that battles raged during the Rebellion of the Hillmen, Lancret, fearful of Toranton reinforcements crossing the River Sen from Marlovan, dumped all the black pitch in Hillard into the waters and set the river ablaze, a warning to foreigners not to get involved. He then collapsed all five bridges that had been built across the river since the days of Ryenal Jormont, the last King of Hillard, four centuries before the Stallion’s birth.
Victorious after a long and bloody war, Lyon the Great, Steward of Hillard, with the Stallion defeated, sat on the throne of his father for the first time and was crowned the rightful ruler of Hillard by Joeral sar Mayn in 1604 SE. His reign thereafter would be peaceful until the start of the War of Old in 1632 SE, when the pretender of Asdonic sar Eadrenys called the Toranton Kingdoms to march their armies to war at the Battle of Kelek Angren against the new Queen of the Maheirans, Nialla Elensah, daughter of Taherían Endúcar and last of the vedreron born with the blood of the Eedian nya Ansolas.
Two years after the Stallion’s false rule ended, the Lyon sired a son with the lady Areeari, whom they named Elund, the father of the notorious Aryyn Jormont, who set about toppling the dignity of his greatest enemy.