Ill Winds Over Verbobonc
Thrommel of Fairwain
Prince of Furyondy, Knight of the Hart, and Champion of the Righteous Host of Emridy Meadows, this noble Paladin Lord vanished in 573 CY. Despite constant questing by the agents of weal, no word of him has been discovered throughout the many years since.
He was known to be lordly of aspect, and with his long golden hair, chiselled features and sky blue eyes, very handsome besides. The prince was known to prefer the manoeuvrbility of mail reinforced with a breastplate, vambraces, and greaves to the heavier armour favoured by his father and many other knights. The legendary, exotic sword known as Fragarach was kept in a specially constructed scabbard, and he otherwise armed himself with a very functional long dagger. The arms of Furyondy, Veluna, and the Knights of the Hart were worn proudly on his surcoat, which was afixed with a rich golden belt. A silver necklace and jewelled medallion bearing the arms of his nation was worn about his neck.
The coat of arms of Thrommel, Prince of the Royal House of Stinvri-Fairwain, Grand Marshal of Furyondy and Provost of Veluna, Knight-Commander of the Order of the Hart.
A noted soldier, paragon of knightly virtue, and talented diplomat, the memory of Prince Thrommel of the royal house of Stinvri-Fairwain is much revered throughout the goodly lands of the Flanaess. However, as the Captain General of the allied Righteous Host at the fateful conflict known as the Battle of Emridy Meadows, he is particularly revered by the folk of the Viscounty of Verbobonc, for without his inspired leadership, their country would surely have been ground under the heel of the Temple of Elemental Evil. After years of brewing trouble with the growing cancer on the Gnarley verge, by 569 CY it had become clear that the viscounty lacked the strength to stand alone against the humanoids, giants, and fell men who had grown to such potency that they stood poised to throw down any lawful authority in the land.
Mortified at the prospect, the twenty-two year old Prince Thrommel decided to act on his authority as Grand Marshal of Furyondy and Provost of Veluna. He raised his own personal vassals and allies, then marched more than 700 miles to the assistance of Viscount Wilfrick. On the way the prince gave impassioned speeches concerning the imperative to defend the weak, come to the defence of friends, and throw down the forces of chaos and evil. He gathered a force of humans, gnomes, dwarves, and elves, uniting them in common purpose and quickly welding their disparate philosophies and warfare methodologies into an army capable of capitalising on those differences to bring victory on the field. In the spring of 569, his Righteous Host would join battle with the Horde of Elemental Evil at Emridy Meadows, and there they won freedom for the good folk of the viscounty.
Over the following decades, the story of the prince would be composed into epics, ballads, plays, and poems. It is common knowledge to all throughout the lands of the Central Flanaess.
Thrommel was born late in 547 CY as the only son and heir of Belvor IV, the illustrious king of Furyondy, and Marieth Rhavelle, daughter of the Count of Gold. As such, he was scion of not just the royal domain of Fairwain, but also a wealthy province in the south of the kingdom. The marriage alliance had been strategic in nature, an attempt by Lord Regent Throstin to not just bring a considerable dowry into royal coffers, but also to strengthen cohesion in a time when the southern nobles were increasingly looking favourably on the recent, successful secession of the city of Dyvers from the kingdom. Even so, the match fortuitously brought love as well as stability, for Belvor and Marieth were devoted to each other for the few years they had together.
Even as a boy, Thrommel was fair to look upon, favouring his mother’s looks but with all the noble and knightly dignity of his father. Queen Marieth would pass under obscure and tragic circumstances while he was quite young, and her death devastated King Belvor. He threw himself into matters of state to deal with his grief, and refused overtures of further marital alliances in the years to come, despite the fact that the future of the royal house now lay squarely upon the shoulders of a single heir- Prince Thrommel. The king was not a distant parent, but Thrommel nonetheless gained most of his education from others, including Lord Throstin. Belvor honoured his late wife’s wishes that the boy would be raised with an understanding of the faith of Rao, which was dear to her, in addition to that of Hieroneous. He would grow into a very handsome young man who, while somewhat impulsive and lacking in the appreciation of the finer arts of politics, had good instincts and sound judgement quite beyond his years.
In due course, his education called for a three year fosterage in the ducal court of the Yurik Landis of Whitehale, a stalwart supporter of Furyondy’s status as a shield against the lawless northern realms, but also a great advocate for Velunan military preparedness in the case that the kingdom might fail in its self-appointed duty. Spending time in a court where the circumspect Raoan Knights of Whitehale frequently contended in friendly rivalry with the more direct Knights of the Hart gave Prince Thrommel a fine perspective of the usefulness of combining methods in military campaigns. His fosterage also allowed him many opportunities to visit Mitrik to avail himself of the libraries and debates there, which in turn exposed the young prince to the wisest minds of the land when observing the ecclesiastical court of the venerable canon, Hazen. His visits to Mitrik also led to an introduction to Jolene of Samprastadar, daughter of Redin Sarneth, the Plar of Veluna. The young lady was immediately taken with Thrommel’s elan just as he fell under the spell of her gentle intelligence. Under suitable chaperones she would visit Whitehale often, and Lady Jolene and the prince soon became inseparable.
The obvious attraction between the two of them excited much gossip in both lands, for while Veluna had charted a different destiny from Furyondy three hundred years earlier, the two realms had increasingly drawn closer over the century since their successful alliance against Keoland during the Short War. Many spoke privately and hopefully of reunification, with the strong arm and heart of Furyondy guided by the calm wisdom and learning of Veluna. After all, the House of Sarneth had reigned as the preeminent noble house of Veluna for centuries, making them as near to royalty as the theocracy might allow, so she was a suitable match for the prince. Even then the charismatic, brilliant Lady Jolene was being touted as the next supreme leader of the Celestial Order of the Moons, which would make her the ceremonial head of the secular nobility and representative of the chief secular authority of Veluna to their ecclesiastical partners. The two youths pledged their chaste love openly with the acquiescence of their approving parents, but of course they would part eventually, for each had duties to their own lands. Jolene would soon take up the role of her retiring father as Supreme Mistress of the Celestial Order of the Moons while the prince won his spurs on raids across the Veng against the dread Hierarchs of the Horned Society, thereby shortly entering the coveted ranks of the Knights of the Hart.
Though they were parted for years, negotiations of a marriage alliance continued, and word of their betrothal in 567 was greeted by little surprise and much celebration. Prince Thrommel’s father named him Grand Marshal of Furyondy the following year, and by general acclaim both the ecclesiastic and secular orders of Veluna also created for him the title of Provost, making him effective Grand Marshal of their land as well. Reunification was in the hearts of minds of the Velunan people, who felt him to be one of their own in accordance with his firsthand love of their country and his dual veneration of Hieroneous and Rao. The wedding would have to wait, however, for Thrommel’s devotion to his duty was just as fierce as that of his father, and rumour had it that he wished to mount a campaign against either the Horned Society or the lands of Iuz, which had become fractured due to the long absence of their fiendish tyrant. Sons of nobles, would-be holy champions, and even wizards eager to replicate the reputation of luminaries such asflocked to his side, hoping to ride into battle with Thrommel when he finally mounted his righteous war.
And so it was, instead, that the young prince was ready and able to bring war to the Temple of Elemental Evil.
The tale of the Battle of Emridy Meadows is told elsewhere, but when the dust cleared and the clamour of battle softened to the muted pleas and cries of the cleaved and the dying, a great cheer rang out for Prince Thrommel the Paladin Lord, for it was his leadership that had raised up all men, elves, dwarves, and gnomes of the Righteous Host to fight at their utmost, united in common purpose and brotherhood against tyranny and evil. From that moment on, Thrommel of Fairwain was more than a prince, a knight, and a soldier. He was a hero, a light in the darkness, and an example for the goodly folk of the Flanaess to gather behind. More men rushed to his banner, eager to see him and to fight for him, and within a fortnight the Temple of Elemental Evil had been vanquished and thrown down, its patron demon queen banished and imprisoned, and the remnants of its armies and supporters put to flight.
Victory had been achieved, and Thrommel soon disbanded his army once it was clear that Viscount WIlfrick was secure once more on his throne. Gratefully, amid warm pledges of eternal friendship, the varied elements of the Righteous Host laid down their arms and returned to their homes to live in peace. The prince and his core retainers and allies soon made their return journey to Furyondy, there to plan their next moves in their evolving grand strategy to break the back of evil powers in the north.
Within the year, however, black news greeted them. Iuz, the Old One, the Fiend of the North, had returned to his lands after an absence of sixty-five years. Not only that, but his power had grown dramatically. The orcs and men that once gave him empty prayers in return for his favour and largesse now received spells of divine power in return for their abject supplications. Somehow, in some fell manner, the Old One had apparently attained the rank of demi-god.
The fractured demesnes of his one-time supporters or their descendants were quickly whipped into line, either bowing before his power or finding a gruesome end. Of his former vassals, only the Dread Hierarchs of the Horned Society stood their ground and held back the tide. With their impressive resistance, however, came a bleak reality. Furyondy needed them. Decades of stability and prosperity had bred complacency in the great magnates of the realm and also many of their people. If the Fiend of the North were to share a close border with the kingdom, it may not be ready to defend against a concerted attack. Not only that, but the Furyondian blood spent to defeat the Hierarchs could not be wasted with the reality of the threat they would face afterwards. No, it was decided with regret that the Veng was a more defensible border than the plains of the Horned Society that lay beyond its shores, and so war with the mutual enemy of the the Old One was impractical at best, and pure folly at worst. Prince Thrommel’s dreams of righteous conquest would have to wait.
Undeterred, the hero of Emridy Meadows mounted a campaign of diplomacy instead. In a visionary ambition to lay the groundwork for a greater alliance to meet threats in the future, he sought to make allies of the counts of the Shield Lands, the magnates of the Urnst and Ulek States, and even the potentates of the Free Cities of Dyvers and Greyhawk. Some overtures were met with qualified support, while others were rejected as naive, simplistic, or even (in the case of the nobles of the Shield Lands) mere political subversion. The prince travelled with only a fraction of his loyal followers, but wherever they went they fought to assist the peoples of the lands in which they sojourned. His travels took him far and wide, and though he returned to his homeland each year, the quest took him ever further from his beloved. For her part, Lady Jolene understood the urgency of his mission; she remained stalwart in her affection and patient for their eventual union.
In the 573, it was on one such diplomatic mission in the south that the prince and his retinue accepted an offer from a local nobleman to join the festivities of a hunt. That night, as they were encamped in the forest, Thrommel vanished from his tent. None of his retainers saw him leave, nor anyone else enter, and a frantic search through the woods and surrounding lands was fruitless. Subsequent divinations revealed that he yet lived, though exactly where he might be could not be discerned. Indeed, none other than the famed master mage Ringlerun bent his considerable will and expertise in divination magics to the task, but he was unable to detect the location of the prince. His prideful pledge that he would find Thrommel and his rank failure to do so would shortly contribute to the political downfall of the secretive old wizard, who was soon replaced in King Belvor’s graces by the Chamber of Four.
For more than two decades, adventurers and agents of the Crown of Furyondy have sought Prince Thrommel in vain. His leadership skills and inspiring reputation would have been a powerful boon to his country during the Greyhawk Wars, and the nation would have met the Old One much stronger for the union of Furyondy and Veluna upon his marriage to Lady Jolene. Further, who knows what turn fate might have taken during the conflict had his great vision for an alliance of weal come to pass, for he would have had almost a full decade to bring his plans to fruition.
Contemplation of such matters is mere smoke on the wind, of course, but more than a few folk throughout the Flanaess wistfully and sadly wonder at what might have been…