|Ruler||Knight Commander Moorley|
The Shield Lands were officially established in 654 TA as a military district under the command of the Order of Crusaders. The purpose of the district was to bring the activities of the Bandit Kingdoms under control. The territory included the defunct holdings of the Barony of Walworth which collapsed in 653 TA.
The first Knight Commander was Alex Redley, known as The Axe, who began a systematic approach to securing the area. A castle was built at Admunfort to provide a central staging area for troop movements in the area. New recruits from the Order oftentimes served a five-year term in the Shield Lands, a tradition that holds to this day.
Within six years, the paladins eradicated the bandits in the western and northern Shield Lands - pushing the borders of the Bandit Kingdoms back to the Shadowyarn Mountains. Difficult terrain, including the dismal Direhaunt Swamp, the northern edge of the Sands of Time, and the rugged hills and mountains of the Shadowyarn front range provided excellent hideouts for the bandits and have kept the paladins from achieving full success.
With the stabilization of the western Shield Land, the Crown established the Shield Road to provide an inland trading route to the rich farmlands, vineyards and orchards of the Barony of Tenbury. Construction was completed in the mid-seventh century TA.
In the early years of the 9th century TA, construction of a second castle, now known as Castle Acidwash was begun by Sir Zachary, a Knight of Virtue. The castle promised to bolster the defenses of the area, although rumors abounded about a secret purpose for the structure. The castle was destroyed by the Sky Giant Clouddrifter before it was completed. The castle ruins can be seen from the Shield Road today.
The current commander of the Shield Lands is Knight Commander Moorley, a grim veteran of twenty years. While Admunfort took an active role in the First War of the Reaches and the Second War of the Reaches, its efforts on protection from bandits has resumed. The surrounding baronies have pushed in recent years for the Shield Lands to be turned over to baronial control. Small towns and farms, such as Liadon in the north and Saltash in the south, have been established by the baronies to further this claim. The Crown has denied requests to disband the Shield Lands, citing the continuing danger from the east.
Nearby Areas of Interest
These hills have always been a rallying point for disaffected humans, as their remote location and rugged character have enabled their inhabitants to remain free of the rule of the Crown. The area is well known for its precious gems which sets up conflict between the bandits and the surrounding baronies. Bishophill inhabitants have become battle-hardened veterans because of these continual skirmishes and raids, and conduct their own forays into Guildford and the Shield Lands in reprisal.
The town of Dullstrand, commonly held to be the capital of the Bandit Kingdoms, proclaims neutrality in these matters. But the town and surrounding areas give haven to freebooters, and its forges make weapons and armor which are not seen by the king or his men-at-arms.
While the Greater Farthing Road which runs north-south along the coast of the Great Sea has always been the primary trade route in the Western Reaches, a second inland route was established in the mid-seventh century TA running around the eastern edge of the Whispering Hills, along the Loudwater, skirting east around Bearwood and eventually rejoining the Greater Farthing Road at Crossgate Castle. This road, known as the Shield Road, is still widely traveled to this day.