Grandfather JosiahGrandfather Bela
The Wolfshaunt is one of the smallest nation-states in the Realm.
Located in a high mountain valley surrounded by impassable peaks, the Wolfshaunt is a land filled with shadows, terror, and legend. The inhabitants of the Wolfshaunt live under the harshest of conditions. Constant rains and mists allow for rudimentary farming in the rocky soil found in the valleys of this land. Few valuable natural resources in the area and a remote location kept the Wolfshaunt relatively unpopulated during the First and Second Ages.
In 902 TA during a Crown-sponsored exploration of the Forbidden Library in Sandal, thirteen werewolves from the Wolfshaunt were released including Wycliffe, the Nephew of Grandfather Josiah.
In 903 TA, a group of adventurers ventured into the Wolfshaunt opening a cryptex that had long bound the inhabitants to their mountain prison.
In 905 TA, a large purple tendril appeared coming over the Wolfshaunt Mountains into the Reaches. Lasting several weeks, it allowed the passage of a number of wolves and strange gothic folk into the Eastern Reaches. Rumors persist that an emissary from the Wolfshaunt visited the Old Kingdom of Rembia to secure allies in a final offensive in the Second War of the Reaches.
In 906 TA, several hundred undead soldiers were seen leaving the Hornwood heading southwest towards the Tomb Kingdom. Shortly afterwards, King Ernest Goodfellow reported that the Wolfshaunt was sealed. By King's Orders, travel is no longer permitted in the southern parts of the Hornwood.
In the four years that the Wolfshaunt was unsealed (903-906 TA), sightings of werewolves and vampires increased dramatically in the Eastern Reaches. The problem persists until this day.
History of the Wolfshaunt
Legend: The Hunger
When men first crawled out of the caves they had been hiding in at the dawn of the Second Age, those with the Hunger were already among them. Their numbers were small, but their survival depended on being unseen - hidden within the community - trusted by all - their secret safe.
And so, the Bonding began. It started with the forging of the Grandfathers Rings - for that was the term that was used for the oldest and wisest among those with the Hunger. The goal was simple - to control the youngest and most impetuous until they could learn the wisdom of walking unnoticed among the men of the Realm. At that time, they would be released from the Bond. They, too, could become Grandfathers in time.
The powers of the rings were crafted so that a wearer was immune to all except the wearer of another Grandfathers Ring. A balance in the power of immortality and control. Twin rings were always crafted with one capable of being broken down for distribution among the Bonded.
But for some control became, in itself, an obsession. The Grandfathers did not want to give up their power. And so a new set of rings were made - the Uncles rings. Like their predecessors, these rings were made of intertwined bands of silver. Identical bands were given to those who were to be Bonded. No power in the Realm could break the Bond. And while some were released, many others became slaves.
And so it was for hundreds of years, the Grandfathers amassing greater and greater numbers of Bonded. Uncles bonded Nephews. And great family trees were created. And yet, the reason was lost. Grandfathers no longer hid amongst the people - rather they became Barons and Counts and their practices of the Hunger became known.
It was in the late 8th century of the Second Age, the men and women of the Western Reaches drove those with Hunger to the east. For decades, the push continued, concluding in 821 SA when those with the Hunger were exiled to the depths of the Wolfshaunt Mountains. They were not killed - for many are immortal. But they were trapped. Sealed by a magical barrier that allowed only those guardians with special tokens passage through the Long Tunnel between the Eastern Reaches and the Wolfshaunt. In addition, a magical cryptex was created to limit the power of those with the Hunger outside of the Wolfshaunt. In those confined valleys, however, the Grandfathers continued to amass their families - waiting for the day of release back into the Reaches.
Settling the Wolfshaunt in the Third Age
The original Third Age settlers to this area were displaced from the Eastern Reaches by the arrival of civilization after the end of the Third Orcish War. Pushed out by the introduction of law and order, this collection of thieves, criminals and outcasts gained access to Wolfhaunt by use of tokens whose purpose had long been forgotten. At first, the settlers found the Wolfshaunt uninhabited.
However, the new arrivals soon realized that an ancient population lived among the high peaks and dark recesses of the land. Traveling by night, the villages of the Wolfshaunt were visited by a handful of strange gothic men and women travelers. Dressed in the noble finery of the Second Age, these gaunt pale folk brought gold to the pubs, a steady demand for merchant services to businesses, and wealth to a people not accustomed to such luxury. In addition, the villages of the Wolfshaunt found protection in form of large dire wolves which protected the people from outside influence.
Lured by their new-found lifestyle, the people of the Wolfshaunt never questioned whether the wolves were there to keep intruders out or themselves in. Whatever the case, the people of the Wolfshaunt have pledged their loyalty to the Grandfathers, as the gothic folk have come to be called. Travelers to the area tell of strange sightings in the twilight hours, and woe to the wanderer still on the road when the sun sets. Some say the folk of the Wolfshaunt are bewitched, unable to recognize even when their own kind disappear. The castles of the Grandfathers are another mystery, as few have ever traveled the winding mountain passes to their cold, black walls. Tales of guardian bats and legions of ghouls keep these strongholds remote and shrouded in secrecy.
Houses of the Wolfshaunt
In the dim history of the Wolfshaunt, the Council of Five was formed by the leaders of the most powerful houses in the valley. Two of these were vampire lords - Grandfather Josiah and Grandfather Bela. Two were werewolf lords - Lycurgus of the Baneback pack and Talbot of the Blackwolf pack. The final member represented the bound humans of the Wolfshaunt. The ruler of these fierce fighters was Master Whitlock who gained his position originally by sheer brute force, although an alliance with the strange warlock Sturm and the giant floating Ithaqua gave him both leverage and the title Storm Lord. The council was founded to establish basic borders and insure adequate food supplies (unbound peasants) in the Wolfshaunt.
Several centuries before, a powerful artifact called the Heart of the Wolfshaunt was found that created a summoning - called the Mustering - in all werewolves of the valley drawing them to an ancient forest called the Heartwood. At this event, the leaders of the packs would be determined, old bonds broken, and new bonds forged. The Mustering occurred every ten years, and it was at one of these gatherings that the vampires interceded - gaining temporary dominion over the wolves. Now, every ten years, the Grandfathers and the strongest of the werewolves battle to bind the packs (or let them be free).
Upon the opening of the Wolfshaunt in 903 TA, Grandfather Josiah called a Conclave of the of Council. An opportunity arose for all Houses to flee the confines of their prison valley. The Storm Lords did not attend. And an attack by outsiders forced Grandfather Bela and Lycurgus to flee. Benedict Blackwolf (emissary for House Talbot) was killed. Each House thought the others at fault, and the Conclave did not establish any alliances.
In 904 TA, Grandfather Josiah formed an uneasy alliance with Lycurgus, leader of the Baneback. After failing to open the cyptex himself, Josiah created the Book of Secrets and taunted King Ernest Goodfellow into opening the binding cryptex. Josiah gave Lycurgus a substantial part of his cache of tokens in order to free the first of the pack into the Eastern Reaches. This was done to establish a new nation called Midnight in the Eastern Reaches. The Midnight Conspiracy was defeated in late 904 TA by the Crown.
In 905 TA, the Mustering was interrupted by a commando squad sent by the Three Kings. The wolves of the valley were left unbound. After this, all negotiations between the vampires and wolves decayed. Eventually, Grandfather Bela and Grandfather Josiah formed an uneasy alliance against the Crown. Talbot and Lycurgus sided with the Crown. The Storm Lords remained neutral, although the death of Master Whitlock in 906 TA and the loss of the human army later that same month marked the end of the human House in the Wolfshaunt.
With the sealing of the Wolfshaunt in 906 TA, little news from the high valley has been heard. The four Houses (two vampire, two werewolf) are locked in constant struggle. The humans of the valley, now without protection, live in isolated villages attempting to protect themselves from the predators of the land. King Goodfellow has banned all travel to and from the Wolfshaunt.
Places of Interest Nearby
The ancient city of Everblack lies in the tangles of several rivers that twist through the fertile hills in the center of the valley. At the intersection of four roads, the city's decrepitude shows its best days are behind it. While the foundation of the city shows that thousands might have once lived and worked here, the current town of several hundred are centered around a large hill near the geographical center of the ancient city.
Forming the extreme eastern edge of the Eastern Reaches, the Wolfshaunt Mountains are a formidable barrier of brown and grey granite. While not as tall as either of its neighboring ranges, the Shadowyarns or Houndstooth Mountains, the Wolfshaunt are virtually impassable due to their steep and dense nature. They run from the Inner Sea to the Great Sea across the small izmuth that divides the Rim and the Reaches. A string of high valleys exists in the range with a single pass into the mountains rumored to be near the Free City of Irongate. The Wolfshaunt Mountains are known for their extremely wet and misty conditions, due to their closeness to the cold waters of the Inner Sea and warm air currents coming up from the south.