The Folkhamlár of Greatvale

When Folkhame was rebuilt after the great fire in 50AC, the Rædgivers Leofwine of Brandwyk, Osgar of Middlebury, and Witeger Leafday Ælefdyr created a space in their newly expanded city for advanced learning in all areas of arts and sciences. Although one of the main purposes of the Folkhamlár was to prepare Boroughsetters to take up the full responsibilities of Boroughræden, it also fostered creative discussion among læreowas (teachers) and their leornoras (students) who were encouraged to question established patterns of thought even as they explored new areas of inquiry.

Folkhame

The capital city of the Folkdeed of Greatvale and the center of Greatvalish civilization and culture.

Founding

In 5449 P.C., Wulfred selected the spot near the fall line of the Great Tidewater as a suitable spot for encampment as it was a natural spot for the construction of a mill.  The city is located right at the end of the tidal estuary and thus still has a deep channel allowing for larger, seagoing vessels to navigate up to the city.  Wulfred always intended that the new city function as a trading port in addition to providing a defensible home for his people.

The city of Folkhame and surrounding countryside.

The city of Folkhame and surrounding countryside.

The initial settlement centered around a fortification atop Cynric’s Hill known as the Burhfast, which became the main citadel of the new settlement.  It would be in that citadel that the king and his council of advisors (eventually known as the Ealdormoot) would come to be located.

With the growth of the Kingdom of Greatvale in the first millenium P.C., King Godwine I decided that the king was in need of a larger, and more defensible fortress than the old Burhfast citadel.  In 922 P.C., Godwine constructed the Cynestol or the Royal Keep, a far more massive structure just to the east of the old Burhfast. Eventually, the Ealdormoot also took up residence in the Cynestol, not so much out of need as out of the king’s desire to keep an eye on the council.

After the Long Campaign and the abolition of the monarchy, the buildings of the Old Kingdom were repurposed.  The Ealdormoot once again took up residence in the Burhfast (now known as the Boroughfast) and the Cynestol was rechristened the Folk Keep.  In addition, the house of the king’s first chancellor was given as the residence for those who would hold the newly established office of witeger.

Fortification

In 28 P.C., Rædgiver Fralin Fisceresdohtor ordered the construction of a second wall around the city.  This wall was to protect vital crops in the event of war or siege.  At the time, tensions were high with Carmadh and Broadland and fear of war was high.  Fralin understood that it was one thing to keep the citizens safely behind the walls but if the crops outside burned, ultimately hope was lost.  The city at that time was two miles across and the new walls added at least another seven square miles to the fortified territories of Folkhame.  The main city remained behind the original fortifications.

Fire and Reconstruction

Around 50 A.C., with the Folkdeed still reeling from the results of the Catastrophe, another catastrophe befell the people of Greatvale.  A major fire erupted in the old quarter of the city and quickly spread to the entire city.  The people fled into the surrounding farmland and the inner walls prevented the fire from spreading to the surrounding countryside.  When the conflagration was finally over, the majority of the city lay in ruins.  The Ealdormoot seriously considered whether it should move to the nearby town of Eoford and establish that as the capital of the Folkdeed.  But it was Rædgivers Leofwine of Brandwyck, Osgar of Middlebury, and Witeger Leafday Æledfyr, in a rare moment of concord, who declared that the fire had presented the people with an opportunity to rebuild the city in a way that reflected the values of the Folkdeed rather than the long cast-off monarchy.

And so the inner walls of the city were torn down and the stone used to rebuild the city altogether.  The city plan was expanded to fill the space outlined by the outer walls. According to Leofwine, Osgar, and Leafday, this was an important statement that the people expected the city not to decline after the fire, but to flourish with an influx of new residents. The new plan was centered around the Boroughfast and the home of the Ealdormoot in the center.  The Boroughfast, which had long had a circular shape was placed at the center of a circle from which eight avenues radiated in a regular pattern.  The old Folk Keep, which had suffered extensive damage in the fire, was rebuilt but divided into two buildings along the main east-west avenue. The city was laid out in a regular (or mostly so) plan of grand avenues every mile, creating a grid with intersecting diagonals radiating from the Boroughfast. Diagonals were later added elsewhere in the city and circular parks placed at the intersections, which often feature statues of the heroes of the Folkdeed.

Notable Features

Among the notable buildings in the city center are:

The Boroughfast. The old citadel fortress of the King, Queens, and Ealdormoot from the earliest days of the city. The building today houses the Ealdormoot and the Conclave of the Gaderungs when it meets.

The downtown area of Folkhame, showing important buildings

The downtown area of Folkhame, showing important buildings

The Doomern. The high court of the Folkdeed.  Here the Ealdordemas (senior judges) of the Folkdeed review the decisions of local boroughdemas and make determinations on important matters of law.

The Godshall. The five-sided building houses representatives of the five great religions of the Sunrise Lands.  The Godshall serves as an important gathering place in times of national crisis or remembrance.  The funerals of rædgivers, witegers, and ealdormen and -women almost always take place in the Godshall.

The Folk Keep. The southern half of the old Folk Keep/Cynestol, this building houses the offices of the two rædgivers and their staffs.

The Ambrighthouse. The Ambrighthouse is the northern half of the old Folk Keep/Cynestol and houses the various ministries of the Folkdeed government.

Witeger’s House. Although the current building was constructed new after the fire it was built on the site of the former edifice which had been the home of the royal chancellor in the days of the Old Kingdom.  The Witeger’s house was infamously visited by the Ealdorweard during the time of Eadwin Lahwita when the rædgiver had given orders for her arrest.  Since that time, the military keeps a respectful distance from the Witeger’s House and parades along Water Avenue are prohibited by long-standing custom.

The Market. The market is the grand bazaar of the city and in the market place, a giant pavilion, one can find treasures from all over the world.

The Waterfront. The waterfront along the Great Tidewater is the city’s main port, fish market, and provides a series of defenses against those who might try to assault the city from the river.

The Beacon

The Ancient Beacon of Greatvale, also known as Cynric’s Light, Cynric’s Rock, or simply The Beacon, is a massive stone monolith on the southern tip of Wulfred’s Byland, which juts into Fralin’s Deep. The name “The Beacon” refers to both the monolith itself, as well as the light or lighthouse on top. It is both symbol of Greatvale’s economic power, serving as the most important lighthouse leading to Folkhame, and a bitter reminder of its monarchist roots, as it is home to the Tomb of the Elders, formerly known as the Tomb of the Kings or the Royal Crypt.

Legend holds that around 5450 PC, Wulfred of Dunburgh embarked with 5 ships and 400 settlers to join a colony in the newly discovered Sunset Lands. Wulfred was accompanied by his wife, Fralin, who was pregnant at the time of departure. A few weeks into the journey, a great storm from the west blew the ships off course and toward the Sunrise Lands. The storm thrashed the small fleet, sinking two ships and severely damaging the ship that Wulfred was on. The stress of the storm sent Fralin into labor as the remaining ships all but abandoned hope of survival.

A large wave crashed against Wulfred’s ship and the vessel began to break up. Though he tried desperately to reach Fralin below deck, the ship had already gone under, and he was left with no choice but to cling to a broken piece of the hull. For two days, Wulfred floated on his makeshift raft, mourning his wife and unborn child. On the third day, as Wulfred lay close to death, the storm broke, and a ray of sun shined through the clouds onto him. Wulfred managed to look up and saw a great rock with a fire burning on its top.

A small boat from one of Wulfred’s ships, which had been out searching for survivors, saw him in the light and moved quickly to rescue him. Two ships had found safety in a small inlet near the great rock. Hoping to attract help, or at least anyone who had survived the wrecks, members of the crew climbed the rock through the storm and nursed a fire on the top. Other crewmembers set out in small rowing boats, using the fire as a navigational aid.

Soon after they brought Wulfred aboard, a crewmember spotted another piece of debris that looked as though it had a person on it. While the boat rowed toward the debris, it appeared as though the person slipped into the water, leaving only dark figure on the raft. When the boat pulled along side, the crew was shocked to discover that the figure was in fact a baby wrapped in a blanket: Wulfred and Fralin’s baby. They assumed that Fralin had survived long enough to protect her child, and, having seen the boat approaching, finally let go. Wulfred, though still very weak, took the baby into his arms and discovered it was a boy. He called his son Cynric, after his beloved wife’s father.

The Beacon has been lit nearly continuously for all of The History, serving as the most important lighthouse in guiding ships through Fralin’s Deep up to the Great Tidewater. Sources differ on whether or not the Beacon remained lit during The Catastrophe and The Lost Time, though the official position of the Folkdeed is that the Beacon was never extinguished. Various taller structure have been built on top of the Beacon to increase the distance that it can be seen from, including the current Leofric Tower, named in honor of one of the Great Fathers of the Folkdeed. A small, secondary fire, however, is always maintained on the top of the actual Rock in honor of the Elder Folk.

The light itself is capable of being manipulated with dried plants and other chemicals to signal incoming vessels. The light is made approximately two times as bright while Greatvale is at war. Red light means that the city has barred ships for quarantine purposes.  Green light is shone for one week after the election of new Rædgivers. The light is dimmed significantly for one day following the death of a former Rædgiver, while the light is dimmed for one week if a Rædgiver dies in office. The light is only extinguished entirely if someone akin to a national icon dies. This honor has only been granted to eight people in the history of the Folkdeed, including Eadlin Lahwita.

Beneath the Beacon lies the Tomb of the Elders, where it is said the remains of Wulfred, Cynric, and their descendants, who became Kings and Queens of Greatvale, were entombed for millennia until the Long Campaign. The Tomb is maintained by the Order of the Sun, the only royal order that was left intact following the Long Campaign. Its members, extremely small in number, are drawn from the royal families of the other realms, all of whom are somehow related to old Kings of Greatvale. Usually unwanted sons or heirs of defeated foes are sent to live out their days in the Tomb, where members are forbidden from leaving once they enter. While the people of the Folkdeed, including the Witeger, near universally condemn this practice, the Ealdormoot has respected the covenant made with the Order at the Foundation of the Folkdeed.

Every year on Elder Folk Day, the Gaderungs escort two wreaths to the Beacon, where the Witeger lays them at the locked entrance. One is in honor Wulfred the Elder and his son Cynric, while the other is in memory of the victims of the Kings of Greatvale and in protest of the continued existence of the Order of the Sun. Once the wreaths are laid, the entrances is unlocked from the inside, and the wreath honoring Wulfred is taken while the other wreath is ignored. If the Order wishes to communicate with the Folkdeed, the previous years wreath, rotted and decayed, is set outside with a letter attached. The wreath is then brought to the Rædgivers, who burn it without reading the letter. Officially, no letter has ever been read or replied to, but there are rumors that this is not entirely accurate.

The Hidden Lands

The Hidden Lands are the home lands of the human race.  It was here that the first human civilizations were born including the great civilization of the Elder Folk, whose great legacy, the Elder Tongue, is still used in the world today. It was from the Hidden Lands that the other two great continents of the world were settled: the Sunrise Lands to the east, and the Sunset Lands to the west.

After the collapse of the civilization of the Elder Folk, memory of both their civilization and of the Hidden Lands faded into memory.  Some say that the Hidden Lands had been removed from human knowledge by magic; others denied that the Hidden Lands had ever really existed.  After the journey of Meharanganar Toreanastrarax of Denesatiriux and Daegal Swordsmith of Greatvale, the Hidden Lands were reopened. The realms of the Sunrise and Sunset Lands are reluctant to colonize there for fear of bringing on a curse, but intrepid explorers and fortune seekers will travel there seeking fame or riches, but not without peril.

The Hidden Lands

The Hidden Lands