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.

Aelfwine Theodwita

On the 4th day of Windmath (4 Othalul) 1174 A.C., Hendryck and Æthelhilde of Fiscerehæfen welcomed their first born son, whom they named Aelfwine, after Æthelhilde’s grandfather, a renown sea captain in that same port city of Fiscerehæfen.

From a young age, Aelfwine demonstrated considerable intellectual acuity and his teachers in the city’s Leorninghus noted that he was an avid reader and consumer of stories. His parents, however, saw him entering the family business: a fleet of merchant ships engaged in trade along the west coast of the Sunrise Lands, from Carmadh down to Cape Verunnu in the south.  Fortunately for Aelfwine, the Boroughmoot of Fiscerehæfen mandated a minimum of eight years of schooling for the children of the city. And so, while his parents would have happily placed him aboard ship as a midshipman at the age of nine, Aelfwine was required by law to remain in school for another four years.

Aelfwine was seen as a serious child, rarely smiling but nevertheless demonstrating a biting wit.  It was said that his wit was so dry even as a child that his comments in response to his classmates’ taunts would send his teachers into fits of laughter and leave his fellow classmates dumbfounded.  Wyverun Larsmith, his teacher at the Leorninghus, told a story of a day when a larger boy, Brand, was picking on Aelfwine. After the older boy had finished his rather pedestrian insults, Aelfwine simply said, “Were the bliss your family must feel on account of your collective ignorance something we could bottle, we’d never have to trade with Carmadh for poppies again.”

Aelfwine struggled with mathematics and the practical sciences, but excelled in history and lore and was said to be able to recite the entire list of Kings and Queens of the Old Kingdom from memory.  Once, when challenged to do it by a fellow student who did not believe he could do it, he not only recited the complete list of monarchs, but followed with a complete list of all the rædgivers of the Folkdeed in chronological order.

After his eight years of compulsory education, Aelfwine’s parents removed him from school and put him to work in the family shipping trade.  Aelfwine worked well but not consistently; he was easily distracted, especially when working on something mundane.  Whenever he was missing from where he was supposed to be he could invariably be found on the docks, talking with the mariners who’d come in from all around the world, asking them to share stories of their lands.  He had a fantastic memory and voraciously consumed all the stories he heard, including the folklore and tall tales.  He also demonstrated an aptitude for languages, picking up some of the Carmadhi, Trade Tongue, and Vulgar Thuva-Tha that he heard being used.

At the age of fifteen, Aelfwine was sent on his first sea voyage on a trading mission along the northwest coast of the Sunrise Lands past Carmadh and the Vardani peninsula.  It there he first encountered mariners from the Chain Islands who told even more fantastic tales of the peoples of the Sunset Lands. By this time, Aelfwine had perfected a method that would serve him well the rest of his life: he could draw out tremendous amounts of information from people by engaging in what would otherwise seem to be casual conversation.  It would be on this trip that he would discover his calling: he wished to chronicle the history of the peoples of the world of Kadamu-nur-Shadju-a.

Returning to Fiscerehæfen, he made his wishes known to his parents who did not support his desire to return to school and insisted he remain with the fleet.  He approached Wyveryn Larsmith, his former teacher, and arranged to meet with her by night to continue his studies when possible.  At one point, his father became aware that he was sneaking out at night, but assuming that his son was finally behaving like a normal young man, he ignored it and even made an effort to look the other way.

When Aelfwine reached seventeen years of age, he was ritually disinherited by his parents, who expected him to continue with the merchant fleet in order to make a living.  But Larsmith had been more than tutor to Aelfwine, she had been his advocate and managed to procure a grant from the prestigious Stærwritere Academy in Folkhame to continue his studies there.  Aelfwine’s decision to enter the academy rather than continue in the merchant fleet was not taken well by his parents. As part concession to his parents and part need for funds for books, he continued to work the summers aboard ship, honing his skills at gathering lore while picking up new languages.

After six years of study, Aelfwine was granted the status of Theodwita or “historian” by Stærwritere Academy and was selected by the Gaderung of Fiscerehæfen to serve as official historian for the city.  Aelfwine was somewhat unorthodox in his style in that he spent far less time over dusty old tomes than his colleagues and far more time gathering lore from ordinary workers.  He continued to make sea voyages a regular part of his work, traveling up and down the coast and even along the Chain Islands gathering lore as he traveled.  He would often remark, “One fishwife will spin a tale of fancy that is mocked by even a few words of scroll, but twenty fishwives from twenty different realms offer a shared insight that shames the most learned scribe.” He was of the belief that all the peoples of the world had preserved fragments of the Elder Lore and that only by listening to the stories passed down among the peoples of the Lands Under the Sun could one hope to reconstruct the shared history of humanity.

His theories were controversial and he was often mocked as one who was less historian than bard.  In 1204, at the age of thirty, he presented to the Grand Conclave of Historians a theory about the origins of the peoples of Carmadh based on his reconstructions based on folklore and oral history.  The speech generated two controversies.  First, traditionalists felt the integrity of the Conclave was being insulted by such unorthodox methodology that allowed for such fantastical theories.  Second, Wigmund, a scholar from the Folk College at Oxbridge accused Aelfwine of having stolen his research.  On a trip to Carmadh to previous year, Wigmund had come into possession a very rare long lost scroll that contained actual documentation of much of what Aelfwine had concluded through his methodology.  Once it became clear to the Conclave that Aelfwine could not possibly have had access to or known about the document, they realized that Aelfwine had truly forged something new.  Aelfwine’s casual manner and fondness for interviewing ordinary people had blinded many in the Conclave to his exceptional skill, and carefulness, as a scholar.

The following year, he was selected by the Gaderung of Education to serve as a Theodwita Folcdædes or “Historian of the Folkdeed,” a special honor for someone of his profession.  In the succeeding years, he published the first ever history of the early patronages of the east as well as an exceptionally popular, if not somewhat controversial, biography of Eadlin Lahwita. At the age of 33, by recommendation of the Gaderung and upon confirmation of the Ealdormoot, he was elevated to the rank of Ealdwita or “Senior Historian,” the youngest person ever to be named to that rank.

In recent years, Aelfwine had been formulating a theory about the links between the ancient houses of the Sunrise Lands with some of the realms of the Sunset Lands, but felt that his research was limited by the fact that he had never been to the Sunset Lands.  And so, with permission from the Gaderung of Education, in 1210 A.C., Aelfwine chartered a ship from his family’s company and sailed west along the Chain Islands toward the Sunset Lands.  He eventually arrived in Thumbport in the Bay of Fingers and, having hired a local guide, headed west toward Mithulan and the Kastan’ose.  Hearing that Aelfwine had at last arrived in the Sunset Lands, Aelfric the Wise, Convener of the Gaderung of Education only remarked, “We shall have to see what Aelfwine’s time overseas will yield.  I can only assure you this: our understanding of the world is very likely to change profoundly.”

The Mith’lani Records – Prologue

“I’m sorry, Thalvic, but if your demeanor was as bitter as this swill in front of me, I’d throw myself from the highest peak of the Mithulan Mountains within an hour of your company.”

Thalvic bellowed with laughter from deep within his rotund belly for what seemed like an eternity. Aelfwine Theodwita withdrew a handkerchief from a pocket in his sleeve and began to remove the spittle that had flown from Thalvic’s gaping maw onto the historian’s plain brown cloak. Both men wore similar weatherproof cloaks of heavy flax, lacquered to keep out the snow and hail, though the traditional Mith’lani feather, hide, and bone fetishes that adorned Thalvic’s cloak were notably absent from Aelfwine’s. Even with an ocean and half a continent between him and Greatvale, the historian retained a distaste for all things ostentatious shared by many in the Folkdeed.

Thalvic wiped his mouth with the back of his hand, obviously fighting back a few remaining laughs.

“So you dislike svanka?” Thalvic asked. “This is the lifeblood of the Mith’lani! You wish to know what it is to be a child of Mother Mithulan? Then drink deep the milk from her teats my brother!”

With a slap on the back that nearly knocked Aelfwine to the floor, Thalvic refilled the historian’s iron tankard. The scent of the svanka, a liquor made from fermented lichen and flax, sent Aelfwine’s head spinning. It was his belief that to learn of a people’s history, one must understand the people as they exist today. Learning of the Mith’lani was proving to be as much a physical challenge as it was an academic one…

“I meant no offense, brother.” Aelfwine spoke the Mith’lani words slowly, but with an impressive level of fluency.

“Nonsense, is already forgotten!” Thalvic meandered back to his bench opposite the historian. As he lowered his significant girth, the wooden boards groaned – it was a testament to Mith’lani craftsmanship that they held at all.

“Brother, continue where you were. You were preparing to ask another question I believe?”

“Yes, I was.” Aelfwine paused momentarily, considering the consequences of his next question. While his host was showing himself to be a paragon of hospitality, he also knew that strapped to Thalvic’s right thigh was a traditional nuthlak hunting knife. In the Mithulan Mountains an insult was met in one of two ways; with a hearty laugh, or with tempered steel sliding across your throat…

Aelfwine withdrew a piece of parchment and dipped his quill slowly into his inkwell.

“Thalvic, why did the Mith’lani invade the Kastan’ose Valley, before the Vazj arrived?”

The large man stopped mid-movement, his tankard frozen just in from of his parted lips. Slowly, he set the drink down on the wide table in front of them, and met Aelfwine with a stony gaze. Aelfwine met the rock grey eyes across from him, knowing that to look away would be tantamount to suicide. Thalvic kept his gaze locked on Aelfwine for what seemed like an eternity.

Finally, the silence was broken.

“Let me refill your mug, historian. And you best fetch another piece of parchment.”

Kingdom of Greatvale

The lands of the Greatvale

The lands of the Greatvale

The Kingdom of Greatvale was one of the Nine Ancient Realms that dominated the Greatvale region for over five thousand years until it was reorganized into the Greatvale Folkdeed.

Around 5450 PC, Wulfred of Dunburgh led a party of colonists from the Hidden Lands toward the Sunset Lands. After their expedition was blown off course in bad weather, and after surviving a shipwreck that nearly claimed the life of Wulfred, they arrived in Greatvale near what is now known as the Beacon in Fralin’s Deep.

Wulfred led the survivors of the expedition up the estuary they named the Great Tidewater to a site suitable for encampment.  It is said that upon seeing the site for the first time, Wulfred exclaimed, “Ah, here at last is a home for our people.” Thus was the place named “Folkhame.” Accounts vary as to when the term Greatvale was first used, as it is not entirely clear when the scope of the valley was realized.

Wulfred remained as leader of the colony until  his death, when he was succeeded by his son Cynric.  Neither Wulfred nor Cynric, despite being considered the founding members of a royal dynasty that would last thousands of years, were ever called “king” during their lifetimes.  The term that was used of Wulfred and his descendants was traditionally “Boroughreeve,” roughly equivalent to “mayor.”  By the middle of the Fifth Millennium PC, the term buriff had lost all exclusive association with the Borough of Folkhame and had come to refer to the lord, based in Folkhame, who ruled the lands of the vale surrounding the Tidewater.

The Unification of Greatvale

In 3792 PC, the Buriff of Folkhame had succeeded in subduing or outright conquering all the other regions of the valley and established one unified political entity.  The unification of the vale brought about a transformation in the culture of the region and the belief that a new era of civilization had been achieved.  With that change, the Buriff took on the title of cyning or “king”, a term translated from neighboring tongues for a concept that had in reality long existed in the vale.  With the unification of the valley, the Kingdom of Greatvale was born.

Dynastic History

The Kingdom of Greatvale was ruled over the millennia by a number of different dynasties, but all of them claimed descent from Wulfred in some fashion or another, and so according to the official chronicles of the Kingdom of Greatvale, the line of Wulfred continued throughout the entire monarchy.  Contemporary scholars doubt the claims of a number of the dynasties as to the bloodlines of Wulfred, but the question is not settled.

The End of the Monarchy

The final dynasty to sit on the throne of Greatvale, the Beornish Dynasty, was plagued by capricious rulers who often bordered on the brutish.  The Last King, Godwine III Beorncyning, was such an erratic and cruel leader that his reign led directly to the Long Campaign of 118-110 PC that ended the monarchy once and for all and established the Folkdeed of Greatvale.

The Long Campaign

The Long Campaign is the name given to the nine-year long civil war that removed the Last King of Greatvale and established the republic known as the Greatvale Folkdeed.

Background

The lands of the Greatvale

The lands of the Greatvale

In the year 120 PC, Archon Zajjasu of Carmadh celebrated the tenth year of his reign with a hunting party.  This hunting party attracted some of the great nobles and leaders of the western Sunrise Lands. Notably absent from the invitation was King Godwine III Beorncyning of Greatvale, though few were surprised by this, as relations between Carmadh and Greatvale were cool at the time. Zajjasu took his hunting party along the western side of the Kiting Mountains, the name by which Carmadh refers to the Westvale Mountains.  Toward the end of the expedition, Zajjasu led his party into the Deepwood, the forest to the south of the Westvale Mountains that marks the boundary between Carmadh and Greatvale. Although at this time the border had never been firmly established between the two realms, the woods were considered something of a “neutral zone” between the kingdoms, available for ordinary use by the people, but off limits for military or commercial use.

When Godwine became aware of Zajjasu’s party’s presence in the Deepwood, the slight of his non-invitation became insult.  He declared that Carmadh’s presence in the Deepwood was an affront to all of Greatvale and especially to the honor of his house. To announce his response, he spoke before the Ealdormoot, many of whom were skeptical, but since Godwine merely convened the gathering to declare his intention rather than seek their counsel, their opinions were largely irrelevant. This followed a long pattern of erratic behavior on the part of Godwine and his increasing indifference toward the opinions of the nobles and aristocrats who made up the Ealdormoot. On the first day of Lenctenmath 118 PC, Godwine led a great host out from Folkhame toward the Deepwood to engage Zajjasu and to secure the Deepwood once and for all as Greatvale territory.

On the way west, the army camped outside the town of Oxbridge, near the farm of Swithin Sceaphyrd, a commoner landholder.  During the encampment, the men of Godwine’s host resupplied themselves with the produce of Sceaphyrd’s farm, slaughtered his flocks, and at one point, seized his daughters for the “comfort” of the troops.  Sceaphyrd pleaded to the king for justice for his daughters and restitution for his lost crops and livestock.  The king rejected Sceaphyrd’s plea and sent him away. The king was reported to have said, “The problems of peasants are nothing when the honor of kings is at stake.”

Devastated, Sceaphyrd went to the Boroughmoot of Oxbridge and requested their aid.  The Boroughmoot authorized their Ealdorman, Hrothgar of Wildewood, himself a cousin to Godwine, to petition the King for mercy through the Ealdormoot. Ealdor Hrothgar was in Oxbridge at the time and agreed to speak to his cousin for restitution and return of the girls.

When Hrothgar appeared before the king, Godwine became so incensed that his judgment was being questioned, by his kin and his subjects, that he had Hrothgar arrested as a traitor and bound in irons.  He then dispatched a legion to raze Oxbridge to the ground as a “town in rebellion.” Swithun Sceaphyrd and his family were all executed as sympathizers to the Carmadh cause, though it is sometimes believed that one of his daughters escaped.  Every member of the Boroughmoot was nailed to the walls of Oxbridge before they were set on fire.

Leofric’s Rebellion

Leofric of Brandwyck, a Hundredman in Godwine’s army was witness to the razing of Oxbridge as he rode with some of his officers on sentry around the camp.  Having become convinced that the king, after a long history of erratic behavior, had in fact gone mad, he and his officers rode as fast as they could back to Folkhame with news of the destruction of Oxbridge.

The Ealdormoot was greatly distressed to hear the news, but opted to take no action—half of the members were either kin or appointees of the king. Many even criticized Leofric for raising the matter during a time of national crisis, a crisis, Leofric noted, that had been started by this same mad king. Leofric took the curious, and at the time, novel action of resigning his commission to the Ealdormoot rather than to the king, saying that his honor as a soldier would not allow him to continue to serve a king who was enemy to his own subjects.  He would not speak on behalf of his officers, but all of them followed suit and resigned before the Ealdormoot.

Leofric and his officers rode north headed toward Brandwyck.  En route they were intercepted by a rider who bore a surprising message: a number of the Ealdormen and -women shared Leofric’s concerns about the king and wished to meet with him.  A day later, in a back room at the Fly & Eel Inn, Leofric and his men met with Æthelræd of Whitshollow, Frithuswith of Northmarch, and Hereweald of Eoford. The members of the Ealdormoot told Leofric that they had had some concerns about the king for some time, noting that his edicts had grown more and more erratic and that this entire venture against Carmadh was forced down the Ealdormoot’s throat.  As the conversation went late into the night, the list of the king’s follies and crimes grew longer and longer as the Ealdors shared what they knew.  At each report, Leofric became more and more disturbed and agitated.

Finally, Æthelræd stated bluntly, “The king is insane,” to which Leofric famously replied: Se cyning is ne wodseoc; cyningscipe biđ wodseoc – ”The king is not insane; kingship is insane.” He went on to note the injustices perpetrated by practically every king after King Cynric I, even the kings they considered “good”, and noted that it was the entire structure that bred this kind of evil.  Some of his officers shared stories of horrors from neighboring realms.  And every once in a while one of the company would simply utter: “The king is not insane; kingship is insane.” As they paused at one point, simply to reflect on what had been said, Frithuswith sat forward in her chair and asked: “Who is Greatvale for, in the end? The King or the people?”

Leofric stood and announced his intention to continue his ride north and there to rally the people to declare a free state independent of the crown. The Ealdors agreed that they would return to Folkhame to try to discern how many of the Ealdormoot would support such action.

Leofric rode north to Brandwyck and shared with the Boroughmoot what had taken place in Oxbridge and the other reports of the king’s misdeeds. The Boroughmoot reacted with horror but were reluctant to take action. “What course do we have available to us?” one member reportedly asked. “Shall we set up for ourselves a king in the north against whom some later valiant son will have to rebel?” Leofric replied, “There will be no king in the north, and if the fates are with us, there will be no king in the south. Our task is to create a work of the people, a folkdeed.” The Boroughmoot affirmed the idea and on the 12th day of Blostmath 118 PC, the free and independent Folkdeed of Northvale was declared.  Leofric was offered the post of Lord Protector but declined, arguing that he could better support the new state as a general and pleaded with the Boroughmoot to govern as a council.  In later years, Leofric is reported to have said, “Had I taken the office, even though it have a different title, I would have been a king; and I had seen enough of kingship to know that I was not strong enough a man to resist its corruptions.”

Leofric went to the neighboring estates and holdfasts, personally appealing for support. It was said that such was Leofric’s passion, valor, and charm that he often persuaded people within the first minutes of his conversation with them.  Within a month the whole of the Northvale and the Northmarch had allied themselves with the fledgling state in Brandwyck.  Leofric proved an impressive commander and within a few weeks had established defenses for the new realm that were the rival of anything the Kingdom had ever produced.

The King’s March (118-116 PC)

When King Godwine was told of what had happened in Brandwyck he was outraged.  He quickly broke camp and returned to Folkhame with his entire army, save a couple of legions to guard the frontier, which he still believed was about to be invaded by Carmadh. When he arrived in Folkhame, he disbanded the Ealdormoot and placed many of the members under house arrest. Godwine believed that Brandwyck could never have done what it did without either aid or encouragement from the Ealdormoot and set out to determine who in the council had betrayed him.

While the Kingdom of Greatvale had never been anything remotely resembling a participatory democracy, the Ealdormoot had long been a respected advisory body, and helped the nobles to feel involved in the kingdom and giving them a sense of ownership.  Now, those same nobles were being rounded up and imprisoned by the king and his agents.  Æthelræd of Whitshollow was thrown into a dungeon and eventually died under torture.  Frithuswith of Northmarch and Hereweald of Eoford were able to escape Folkhame and were taken north by agents of Leofric.

The King's March

The King’s March

Godwine’s measures in Folkhame were brutal and achieved a measure of success; all dissension was quelled in the capital and when the Ealdormoot was eventually reconvened, it declared all of Godwine’s actions to be legal and necessary in defense of the realm.  They declared the Northvale and Northmarch as territories in rebellion and as traitors deserving of death. Any member of the Ealdormoot who was not in attendance or who would not sign a proxy letter was declared anathema and placed under an order of condemnation.

Godwine dismissed Folkhome’s boroughmoot and left a governor in charge of the city. Feeling that the situation in Folkhame had been stabilized, he took his army north into the surrounding countryside to root out rebel sympathizers. There was no method to the king’s effort to root out enemies of the crown.  At times he appeared to select targets on a whim, burning down farms and even entire villages because he knew they had to be part of this rebellion. For two years, Godwine’s army terrorized the central valley on either side of the Great Tidewater. Entreaties by the Ealdormoot to return to Folkhome and take his place on the throne were ignored. In all this time, Godwine made not one attempt to enter the lands that had declared independence.  All of his activity took place on land that was considered to be loyal. Over the course of the King’s March, it is believed that some 30,000 Greatvalers died at the hands of the king’s army.

The Siege of the North (116-114 PC)

Having been satisfied that the lands behind him were now free of treason, Godwine set his eyes on the north country.  In Sonnemath of 116, he led his host north along the Great Tidewater toward Brandwyck.  Leofric had by this time erected fortifications all along the ridge line, preserving the high vale territories, on which much grain could be grown, but also the mills of the the upper Tidewater.  Had Godwine marched north immediately, rather than needlessly terrorizing the southern and central countryside, he would have caught the Folkdeed in a much more disadvantaged state.

The siege of the north

The siege of the north

As it was, the king’s host was prevented from moving further up the valley; the fortifications were sufficient to hold Godwine’s advance but not to drive it back completely.  One of the great strengths of the Kingdom of Greatvale is that the entire geography is something of a fortress. The mountain that surround the valley are exceptionally difficult to cross in great numbers and the safe passes are few.  Godwine decided to use this to his advantage.  He decided to lay siege to Northvale and starve them out. He dispatched two legions to secure the passes to the north and northeast of the vale. In one case, he illegally sent troops over foreign soil to block the pass from the back end.

Leofric dispatched as many forces as he could to defend the passes from incursion, but knew he did not have enough strength to dislodge the king’s troops and maintain the defenses along his southern fortifications.  The Brandwyck boroughmoot established programs to store food as best as possible. Great storehouses were constructed for grain. A woman named Hilda, widow to Eadmund Fiscere, led a band of people north into the mountains to carve out great chunks of ice and bring them down into the vale by sledge. They placed these large pieces of ice in the ground and built structures over them.  These “Hilda’s Iceboxes” became huge storage centers for fish from Lake Sworetunga  and other perishable produce of the region. Initially, people were asked to sacrifice a meal a day to save on food and then two; by the end of the siege, these conditions would be considered feasting.

The winter of 116-115 PC was relatively mild with a late fall and an early spring. Food production was diminished but was still able to provide for the people of Northvale.  The winter of 115-114 PC was brutal and early frosts were hard on fruit trees.  The depth of the ice on Lake Sworetunga made fishing difficult and the yields of fish were much lower that year.  In addition, Godwine sent raiding parties across the frontier to set fire to fields just before harvest, devastating entire communities.  This, in turn, led to the development of the Folkeored, a mounted regiment who could patrol the farmlands and respond quickly to any reports of firing of fields.  The Folkeored was ultimately able to capture or kill most of those who came on raiding parties but not before those parties exacted a heavy toll.

Rebellion in the South (114 – 113 PC)

Ultimately, the rescue of the north did not come from Leofric’s armies or the Folkeored, but from the peoples of the south.  The siege on Northvale had had disastrous effects on the economies of the south, especially the trading and merchant fleets of Fralin’s Deep.  By the second century P.C., Greatvale had established itself as a seagoing, mercantile power in the region.  There was a high demand for the quality linen and much of the produce of the northern vale.  Godwine’s siege of the north had prevented any goods from leaving and the commercial interests of the south were suffering the effects.  The southern merchants had petitioned the king repeatedly through the Ealdormoot, but as with everything else, those petitions went unheeded.  As the siege dragged on, rumblings in the south that the king was no longer a protector of the realm but a maniac bent on punishment of those who defied him began to increase.  The horrors of the King’s March were now becoming more and more well-known as reports of the king’s indiscriminate justice began to travel the realm.

The rebellion in the south

The rebellion in the south

In Regenmath of 114, the boroughmoot of Fiscerehæfen declared itself independent of the crown even going so far as to declare themselves to be the folkdeed of Fiscerehæfen. Seven other coastal cities followed suit and before long were calling themselves the Folkdeed of Southvale. Town militias and other companies of volunteers were hastily put together and marched north to secure important roads and trade routes. One company marched into Wulfred’s Byland to secure important grain resources. When word of the southern rebellion reached Godwine in the north, he immediately pulled his forces back and marched on Folkhame. His advance was slowed by muddy roads and ironically by the lack of provisions in the central valley due to his harsh campaigning there two years before.

By the time Godwine reached Folkhame, the city had lost half its population to flight.  Tens of thousands streamed south into the lands of the Southvale Folkdeed. The governor whom Godwine had placed in charge of Folkhome after disbanding the city’s boroughmoot, ruled with an excessively heavy hand in an effort to quell any dissent. When Godwine got to Folkhame, he found it essentially plundered, as the city’s residents had taken everything of value they could, the most valuable thing being themselves as the city’s workforce.  Godwine executed his governor for incompetence and immediately dispatched his soldiers around the city to shore up the defenses and attain provision.

Godwine was still under the impression that his force was the strongest, and in strictly speaking numeric terms this may have been the case. But by this time, after four years of war that had done little to quell the northern rebellion and had succeeded in igniting a southern one, many in the royal army were demoralized.  In fact, so intent had Godwine been on quelling dissent in the broader population, that he had ignored the rising levels of dissatisfaction in his own forces.  In Hærfestmath of 114 PC, Osbeorn Swordsmith, a commander in the royal host, simply marched his legions out of the gates of Folkhame and defected en masse to the southern cause.  Osbeorn was a nobleman of a long-established house that prized honor, and like Leofric before him, decided that his honor would not allow him to serve a king who had become his subjects’ enemy.  According to the reports, took his legions outside the gates, stood before them and announced, “We are marching south to join in the defense of the southern lands from this monster of a king.  Any man who wishes to stay may do so without penalty.” According to those same reports, not a single soldier left.  Many have speculated as to why Osbeorn did not simply command his legions to take control of Folkhame itself and become king. Speculation has long focused on whether Osbeorn had the numbers to accomplish this task and has largely ignored the reality that to someone of Osbeorn’s background, such a betrayal would never have been honorable, whereas riding to the defense of an oppressed population (and one in sore need of experienced military leadership) was honorable.  One apocryphal report states that as they rode south, one of Osbeorn’s captains said to him, “The king truly is insane,” whereupon Osbeorn is said to have replied, “The king is not insane, kingship is insane.”

The Intervention (113-112 PC)

The ongoing crisis in Greatvale eventually became one of tremendous concern to the surrounding realms.  Godwine himself had never been popular and initially the rebellion brought comfort to some of the other powers in the region, especially to Zajjasu of Carmadh.  But as the conflict wore on, it became clear that the nature of the rebellion was a bigger threat than Godwine himself had ever been.  Two dissident realms had established themselves in the north and south of Greatvale and neither one had proclaimed a king. In fact, they had both declared themselves to be intentionally free of a king.  Fearing the political instability this might bring about in their own realms, the surrounding powers all sent expeditionary forces into Greatvale to shore up Godwine and help to quell the rebellions.

The intervention by foreign powers

The intervention by foreign powers

Initially, southern forces were taken aback by the foreign intervention, and heavy losses were suffered in the initial encounters, particularly in Wulfred’s Byland and in the south-east marches below the Eastvale Mountains.  However, Osbeorn led a force into the Byland and met Zajjasu’s forces at the edge of the Deepwood.  Osbeorn’s army routed Zajjasu completely and by the end of the engagement had secured the entirety of the Deepwood under southern control.  Some have speculated that Osbeorn took the Deepwood as an insult to Godwine who had precipitated the entire crisis when he had set out to do so five years earlier.

In the north, Leofric sent a host to engage an army attempting to invade through the Upgang Pass. Leofric sent a local militia commander named Weland who had impressed Leofric with his skill.  Weland was also from near the pass and his knowledge of the pass helped him to defeat a force that outnumbered his two-to-one.

Leofric himself took a great army and marched south toward Folkhame.  Godwine had foolishly believed that the intervention was turning the tide and so had sent two armies out of Folkhame to retake the south and west vales.  A separate force from Brandwyck intercepted Godwine’s western host and fought a battle there that, while not decisive, did cause the force to retreat back to Folkhame.  A second royalist force traveled along the Tidewater but was constantly harassed by southern forces as they made their way south and were never able to meet up with the interventionist forces as had been hoped.  In fact, the intervention only served to stoke the fires of rebellion among the towns and cities of Greatvale, for now it was clear that Godwine was in league with Greatvale’s enemies.  And while most were wise enough to realize that the foreign powers were doing this to advance their own interests, the symbolism of their king fighting alongside foreign forces to oppress his own people was too powerful to ignore and served to galvanize the entire rebellion.

On the 10th day of Midmath 112 PC, Godwine took his remaining forces from Folkhame and marched north to meet Leofric’s host that had been traveling south along the east shore of the Tidewater.

Campaign’s End (111-110 PC)

On the 15th day of Regenmath 111 PC, Godwine’s armies engaged Leofric’s host at the north ford of the Tidewater.  In a battle that lasted two days, Leofric defeated Godwine who took his army and fled west to the Westvale Mountains.  Leofric followed in pursuit, stopping only to establish a garrison at Folkhame.  Leofric left strict instruction that no one was to be harmed in the city, that the boroughmoot was to be restored to power and that the provision of the people’s material need should be a priority.  What few members of the Ealdormoot who remained convened at the same time and disavowed all the decrees against Leofric and Osbeorn that they had issued under Godwine’s direction.

The final battles of the Long Campaign

The final battles of the Long Campaign

Leofric continued west in pursuit of Godwine only to encounter another royalist force in the midvale. This force had been the one previously sent west and defeated by another northern army the previous year. This army was utterly destroyed.  Most of the soldiers fled dropping their weapons and casting off what armor they had as they ran.  Those who remained to fight were vastly outmatched by a better led army, and one with a far higher morale.  In fact, many of the residents of the region, remembering the King’s March, joined with Leofric’s forces as the battle raged or served as pickets around the battlefield, capturing fleeing royalist soldiers.

In the end, Leofric continued his march west with surprisingly few casualties. At the base of the Heofodbend Mountain, he was joined by the northern host and by Osbeorn’s army, returned from the Deepwood, minus a border garrison. Godwine had entrenched himself up the mountain at the Crown’s Keep and been joined by the remnants of another royalist host that had been sent into the south without success. Leofric and Osbeorn longed for war to be over, but they knew that an assault on the keep would be a disaster and would cost thousands of men.  The forces of north and south began to lay siege on the keep.

By Cyrtenmath, the siege was entering its sixth month without an end in sight.  Leofric and Osbeorn’s forces had constructed impressive siege equipment and were in the midst of planning a massive assault to take the keep and end the war once and for all when a strange visitor begged entrance into the camp.  An old man dressed simply in black sackcloth, begged an audience with the generals.  After having the man searched for any weapons, they admitted him into their presence.

He identified himself as Kyrion Halfmage of House Akkadon, the royal house of Carmadh, and a member of the Order of the Sun. He offered a solution to the impasse: the gates of the Crown Keep would open and the soldiers of Godwine’s army would be allowed to return to their homes in exchange for an oath of fealty to Leofric and Osbeorn.  Godwine himself would be allowed to live, but would spend his days in the Royal Crypt under the care of the Order of the Sun.  The Order of the Sun would be granted perpetual dominion over the crypt in exchange for the House of Wulfred dropping any claim to the throne of Greatvale. Leofric responded that the soldiers of Godwine’s army must swear oaths of fealty not to them but to the Ealdormoot of Greatvale.  Osbeorn insisted that all royal and noble houses drop claims to the throne of Greatvale and insisted that the throne itself accompany Godwine into the tomb.  Kyrion Halfmage was startled by these demands and replied, “Then who shall be king?” “No one,” was the joint reply. Halfmage agreed to the terms as laid out by Leofric and Osbeorn and left the camp.

Within a week’s time, the first of the defenders of Crown’s Keep began to emerge, each dropping their weapons as they descended the slope of the mountain, giving the place the name Spear’s Fall.  After the army was entirely disbanded, Kyrion Halfmage emerged from the keep with four attendants and another man now dressed only in black sackcloth.  As the man walked by, it was clear that this was Godwine III Beorcyning. Many of the soldiers of the combined armies spat on the ground as he walked by. Others shouted curses or hurled mud and dirt.  But no one unsheathed a sword or lowered a spear: Leofric and Osbeorn had been clear in their orders. Joining in the procession was a cart that had come from Folkhame, bearing the throne of the king.  The jeers for the chair were almost as loud as the jeers for Godwine and many of the soldiers offered grass to the oxen bearing the cart as a sign of camaraderie in the service of liberating the land of the king.

As the procession left the armies’ combined camp, Osbeorn asked his steward what food they had available to feast with. The steward replied that because they were preparing to break camp, most of the provisions had been stowed; all they had at hand were a few loaves of bread and some dates. Osbeorn replied, “There was never so sweet a feast as the one of bread and dates that we shall share tonight.”  He and Leofric shared this meal with their stewards, whom they insisted join them in the feast, not as servants, but as brothers-in-arms.

A special honor guard accompanied the men from the Order of the Sun on their long march to the Royal Crypt, both to protect them from harm and to ensure that they went inside. Once Kyrion and Godwine and their party entered the Tomb, the door was locked from the inside and the guard took position around the entrance.  A peasant girl brought a wreath to lay at the tomb. Reports vary but some claim this was Leafday Sceaphyrd, the youngest daughter of Swithin Sceaphyrd of Oxbridge.  When the soldiers asked her, “You’re not laying that wreath for Godwine, are you?” she replied, “No, for all those who lost their lives because of Godwine.” “Good,” said one soldier, “because that king was insane.” “No,” she replied, “Kingship is insane.”

Establishment of the Folkdeed of Greatvale

Leofric and Osbeorn returned to Folkhame but disbanded the bulk of their armies on the way, telling each man to return to his home, tend his flocks or fields. Only garrison forces were left to safeguard important locations. When Leofric and Osbeorn entered into the chambers of the Ealdormoot, they did so in civilian clothing, shocking the members of the Ealdormoot who had expected to find themselves under the thumb of their new liberators.

Seal of the Folkdeed of Greatvale: “The Ealdormoot and Folk of Greatvale: Justice, Truth, Equality”

Seal of the Folkdeed of Greatvale: “The Ealdormoot and Folk of Greatvale: Justice, Truth, Equality”

Leofric had summoned the members of the boroughmoot of Brandwyck, and Osbeorn those of Fiscerehæfen to participate in the session. Each delegation having been instructed to seek to extend the folkdeed across all the lands of Greatvale. Leofric stood before them and said, “My countrymen and women, the people of Greatvale are finally free of tyranny. Do not pick up the broken shards of the past; forge something new.  Now that all the royal and noble houses have quit their claims on the throne, Greatvale truly belongs to her people. You have an opportunity to give them a government worthy of their suffering and sacrifice.”

Over the ensuing weeks, the reorganization of Greatvale was deliberated and ultimately decided upon in the fashion it is known today.  Leofric and Osbeorn were elected the first two Rædgivers of the Folkdeed and Frithuswith was elected its first Witeger. The election of three nobles to these important posts at first appeared to undermine the Folkdeed’s assertion of equality, but many understood this as important buy-in by the nobles for the cause of the Folkdeed.  Leofric, Osbeorn, and Frithuswith were also the first to ritually disinherit their sons at the age of seventeen, establishing a custom for those who held the offices of Rædgiver and Witeger, a custom that would eventually also include the Ealdormoot, and finally, all of Greatvale.  Leofric and Osbeorn served out their terms before being succeeded by two commoners.  Leofric and Osbeorn would be elected to Rædgiver again over their careers in public life, but would only serve together for this first two-year period. Frithuswith, despite her frequent criticism of Leofric and Osbeorn in their roles as Rædgivers, would remain close friends with both men the rest of their lives.

Legacy of the Long Campaign

There were those who lamented the length of the war and the cost of life, but others were quick to note that the Long Campaign had given Greatvale sufficient time to let go of its past and to imagine something new.  The Long Campaign had also cemented anti-monarchist sentiment in the population, such that when the Ealdormoot placed the proposed plan before the people, few objected that it lacked a king. Others have noted that had the Folkdeed not been born in such circumstances and placed in the crucible of the Long Campaign, it could never have survived the Catastrophe or the Lost Time that followed.

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.

Eadlin Lahwita

In 942 AC, the Ealdormoot of the Greatdale Folkdeed authorized a military campaign against Carmadh over a trade dispute.  This action was criticized by Eadlin Lahwita, a thirty-two year old woman serving as Witeger at the time. In her estimation, this military action was unwise and likely to cause greater difficulties for the Folkdeed.

Because the war was popular with the people and the leaders of the government; it was likely to be waged even over Eadlin’s objections.  In spite of this, Rædgiver Derian Eoredmann ordered that Eadlin be arrested as a traitor and a threat to state security. He dispatched the elite Ealdorweard to take her and bring her to the Dread Prison in the Eastvale mountains.

Eadlin Lahwita offers bread and dates to the captain of the Ealdorweard.

Eadlin Lahwita offers bread and dates to the captain of the Ealdorweard.

When the soldiers of the Ealdorweard arrived at Eadlin’s home, she greeted them with a plate of bread and dates: the meal that the founders of the Folkdeed had shared after the Long Campaign to be rid of the Last King.  She said to them, “Brave sons of Greatvale, share with me this humble repast.  And then you may do as you must for the protection of the Folkdeed.” It is said that the soldiers took the bread and dates in silence and then, without uttering a word, left Eadlin in her home and returned to the Folk Keep where they slew Derian Eoredmann.

She served the remainder of her term as Witeger, and even helped guide Greatvale through the consequences of their campaign against Carmadh, which she had correctly foreseen.  After her tenure, rejecting calls for her to seek the position of Rædgiver, she returned to teaching law at the Boroughræden School for those seeking to earn their citizenship.

In Greatvale, she is seen as embodying the virtues of freedom of conscience and resistance to tyranny. She is also seen as a symbol of peacemaking and diplomacy instead of war. The name Eadlin remains one of the most popular names for girls in the Folkdeed to this day.

The Folkdeed of Greatvale

The Greatvale Folkdeed is the only republic in all of the Sunrise Lands.   Occupying the lands surrounding the breakwater of the Great Tidewater, the Folkdeed is an anomaly in the cultures of the continent.

Governance

Seal of the Folkdeed of Greatvale: “The Ealdormoot and Folk of Greatvale: Justice, Truth, Equality”

Seal of the Folkdeed of Greatvale: “The Ealdormoot and Folk of Greatvale: Justice, Truth, Equality”

The Folkdeed is governed by an Ealdormoot, consisting of Ealdormen and Ealdorwomen elected by the people of Greatvale to serve for a term of four years. The Ealdormoot is assisted in its work by a series of lower houses known as the Gaderungs responsible largely for defining the regulations and the parameters of the laws promulgated by the Ealdormoot.  Each region of the Folkdeed has its own Gaderung, which elects an Ealdorman or Ealdorwoman to serve in the Ealdormoot. There are also a number of Gaderungs-at-Large, responsible for the oversight and administration of particular areas, such as food, resources, medicine, and education. Each Gaderung-at-Large elects its own Ealdorman or Ealdorwoman to the Ealdormoot. Every two years, the Ealdormoot elects two Rædgivers who serve essentially as head of state and head of government, though the divisions are not clear and are fluid, depending on the working relationship of the two Rædgivers.  In addition, the two often function effectively as War Chief and Peace Chief, one responsible for foreign and military affairs, the other for domestic and economic affairs. In times of crisis, the Ealdormoot may choose to elect essentially two war chiefs or two peace chiefs, depending on whether the crisis is foreign or domestic.  Together, the Rædgivers may exercise a veto over legislation passed by the Ealdormoot. If one Rædgiver vetoes a bill, the Ealdormoot may override the veto by a two-thirds majority.  If both Rædgivers veto the bill, the Ealdormoot may override the veto by a three-fourths majority.

In addition, the Gaderungs, in conclave together, elect the Witeger, which loosely translates as “prophet.” The role of the Witeger is to serve as ombudsman and critic of the government.  The Witeger serves for a period of nine years and can only be removed from office by evidence of corruption or other serious crimes.  The Witeger has no formal veto power but their opinion carries significant weight with the people and may inform subsequent elections.  The position is considered sacrosanct by the traditions of the Folkdeed and Rædgivers who ignore that fact do so at their peril.  (See, the story of Eadlin Lahwita.)

Social Equality

The people of Greatvale have a strong distaste for the social stratification of the other realms in the Sunrise Lands.  They show no respect for lords and ladies and have even less for those who rule by inheritance or bloodlines.  They respect accomplishment and will offer respect (albeit grudgingly) to hereditary rulers who govern well and actually accomplish things even if by definition such rulers would be accounted tyrants by the people of Greatvale. Greatvalers are often proud to boast their common origins as this demonstrates that whatever accomplishments they have are earned through labor and hard work, as opposed to inheritance.  Wealthy Greatvalers will often ceremonially disinherit their children at the age of seventeen so as to give them the honor of earning their own wealth and making their own accomplishments. Those who are of able mind and body who choose to subsist off of inherited wealth are treated with scorn and derision by the great majority of Greatvalers. The people of Greatvale respect hard work and believe that work should be rewarded and appreciated.  Therefore, they find the practice of slavery extremely distasteful for both humanitarian and philosophical reasons.  Indentured servitude is sometimes permitted within the boundaries of the Folkdeed, but only as punishment for serious crimes, usually involving theft or breach of the public trust.

Citizenship

The Greatvale population is divided into two classes: Boroughsetters and Boroughræders, which translate roughly as “residents” and “citizens”.  All Greatvalers, whether Boroughsetters or Boroughræders are entitled to basic fundamental rights: freedom of conscience, personal autonomy, freedom of speech, freedom of association, and other civil rights.  Only Boroughræders, however, may vote and hold elective office.  All Greatvalers are born as Boroughsetters and at the age of seventeen become eligible to seek Boroughræden, or citizenship.  Citizenship may be attained through study, military service, or other national service. The final requirement of citizenship is to take the Oath, in which each Boroughræder pledges to support the Folkdeed in times of crisis through military service, the sciences (this is broadly understood and includes things like economics or language), or other service.  About half of the population of Greatvale are Boroughræders.  A Boroughsetter can apply for citizenship at any time during his or her lifetime.  In rare cases, an individual can lose the rights of citizenship (usually as the result of serious crimes), but rarely loses the rights of nationality.

Defense

The Folkdeed has no standing army, but the national defense is made up of ordinary residents seeking to fulfill their service obligations or citizens who seek to use military service as their fulfillment of their Oath.  Surprisingly, only a bare majority of those who defend the Folkdeed in times of crisis earned their citizenship through military service, a significant portion of the defenders of Greatvale being drawn from those who had earned their citizenship through study or other service. The armies of the Folkdeed, while not professionals, are exceptionally well-trained and have in the past defeated forces of far greater numbers, usually through highly disciplined tactics using close formations, shield walls, and spear phalanxes.

Relations with outsiders

The people of the Greatvale Folkdeed are treated with wariness by the peoples of the surrounding realms.  While generally admired for their cultural, economic, and military prowess, their politics make them objects of suspicion.  Greatvalers traveling through other realms will often find themselves harassed by agents of the realm who fear that the Greatvalers are there to sow dissension among the people and spread their repulsive doctrine.  Greatvalers are also viewed by many as smug and self-righteous, especially when it comes to issues of wealth or politics.  There are numerous anecdotes of Greatvalers being injured or even killed in altercations wherein they had insulted some lord or lady as being lazy and worthless.