"...And so the promised king arose to claim his throne, and with burnished blade in hand united all of Lugh's peoples. Thus was born the Kingdom of Avalon, the beacon of light and justice in the world. Long may the house of Pendragon reign." - Saint Ellian, Chronicler of the King
The Kingdom of Avalon once stretched from the Western Ocean to the Severn Sea until its collapse nearly 200 years ago. The 12 dukedoms that once made up the Kingdom of Avalon were formed from the scattered clans and hilltop kingdoms conquered by Arthur Pendragon, and later unified by King Galahad. At its height, the kingdom stretched from Gilead in the south to Pyrdain in the north, where the trackless Wyvern Wastes marked its only land boundary.
Arthur's Conquest Edit
The Kingdom of Avalon began with the rise of the warlord Arthur, the illegitimate son of the king of Caerlyon, a tiny hill kingdom far to the south. Arthur and his warband, known as the Knights of the Circle, had fought for years as mercenaries in the small clan conflicts across the region. While Caerlyon was a poor land, the rolling plains bred strong warhorses and Arthur and his knights gained renown and wealth as elite heavy cavalry. It was during this time that Arthur met Merlyn, the Gray Druid.
When Uther, king of Caerlyon died, the elders prepared to crown his young heir when Arthur returned. Carrying a sword that blazed like the eyes of the gods, and with Merlyn proclaiming him the promised king of legend, Arthur swayed the elders to his side. He was named king, yet turned down the crown, saying that his kingdom was all the lands of Lugh (see Pantheon).
From Caelyon, Arthur won battle after battle, absorbing the neighboring lands into his growing realm. Soon, the plains surrounding Caerlyon were all his. They became Gilead, the first Dukedom. More would soon follow, as each new conquest brought more soldiers to his army, while at its core the heavy knights he was famed were all but unstoppable. Arthur's tactics were devastating, and his brutal reputation won him victories without even needing to fight. Merlyn rode to battle at his side, wielding the prodigious might of the druids, while by night he walked among the people yet to be conquered and spoke of the promised king.
Long years passed, and still Arthur was not satisfied. Of his Knights of the Circle, only five now remained. Galahad, Seneschal of Caerlyon. Mordred, Arthur's son. Lancelot, Prince of Lyonesse. Owain, Arthur's Champion. Caradoc the Mountain Lord. Known as the Five Great Generals, each now led their own army and claimed lands for Arthur. For a time, the conquest was at its height, yet for Arthur the most difficult challenges still lay ahead.
The year began with the disappearance of Merlyn. While Arthur's army wintered in Allydian, the druid left to fulfill the duties of his faith and rally support, as he had done many winters past. Yet, when spring returned, Merlyn did not. Arthur waited as long as he could, long past the start of the campaigning season, yet eventually marched without the support of his longtime advisor. He then suffered a minor defeat at the hands of the Radiant Templars, an order of knights and monks dedicated to Radament. Though the battle was minor, Arthur's defeat locked him into a protracted siege of the templar's mountain temple stronghold. The siege would last 3 years. During that time, Arthur would learn that Owain had been killed by an assassin, and Caradoc suffered a serious injury that forced him to return to his mountain home. As the siege dragged on, Arthur's frustration and impatience mounted, and it was then that his reputation turned dark. Recalling the armies of Mordred and Lancelot, he smashed the fortress temple with overwhelming numbers and ordered his men to kill every man, woman and child inside. The templars would know the cost of defying the warlord.
Arthur's campaign over the following year was merciless. Merlyn, who had tempered his anger and rallied the people to his side in the past, was gone. Lancelot had gone west to take his homeland of Lyonesse for Arthur, while Galahad had returned to Caerlyon to oversee the construction of Arthur's grand capital. Together with Mordred, Arthur rampaged across Aquitaine. The region burned, while the people fought to the last, knowing they would receive little mercy. Never before had Arthur faced such resistance, which only pushed him to further extremes. When at last the Dukedom of Aquitaine was taken, it was the bloodiest campaign of Arthur's long career.
One final campaign now lay before him. Prydain, bounded by mountains and oceans, was the last bastion of Lugh's people before the Wyvern Wastes of the north. This would be no easy conquest, however, as a warlord named Hygeld Silverhelm had unified the region and fortified himself. Leaving Mordred to finish quelling Aquitaine, Arthur charged north while Lancelot would attack Pyrdain from the west. Together, they planned to smash Hygeld Silverhelm on two fronts and end the war quickly. However, Arthur's army was delayed by the desperate sacrifice of Rivin the Knight (see Pantheon), and Hygeld smashed the army from Lyonesse, killing Lancelot. In a fury, Arthur advanced all out, but with the Pyrdain army now turned to meet him alone and with their defenses prepared, the charge was blunted and turned aside. In the last great battle of the conquest, Arthur was fought to a standstill.
Arthur returned to Tor Wyrlock to regroup. His last remaining friend from his earliest campaigns was far to the south. His great cavalry was spent, his lust for war gone. He had not seen Caerlyon or his wife for years. He felt old, and decided to return home. Arthur sent a message to Mordred, turning command of this final campaign over to him, and began the voyage south. For the first time in years, he felt relieved, enjoying the journey. He stopped to spend a night in the famed temple of Nimue at Lake Astara. That night, the temple came under attack. Moving north with his army, Mordred gave the order to burn the temple to the ground, killing all within.
The Battle for Succession EditWord had arrived in Gilead from the north. Arthur was dead, slain by his treacherous son. Mordred had declared himself heir to the house of Pendragon and King of Caerlyon. He had abandoned the campaign to the north, joined his army to the remnants of Lancelot and Arthur's, and was marching south. The southern lands were restless, for they had heard of the brutalities of the northern campaign, and knew how Mordred had reveled in such violence. Already messengers were arriving demanding that all would swear allegiance to Mordred as their king. Galahad gathered the lords of the southern dukedoms, and put the question to them. He knew Mordred was a wicked man, who had all the rage his father but none of the noble qualities that had shaped Arthur's early campaigns. After an impassioned speech, the southern dukes declared that they would stand with Galahad against Mordred. The armies of the north and south met for battle on the Emerald Plain of Llyr. Galahad was an excellent commander, yet his forces numbered little more than half of those they faced. Mordred was skilled at managing an army on campaign, yet in battle he was crude and direct. His first charge was stopped, and as the day wore on more and more of his army simply stopped taking his command, refusing to fight for him against their countrymen. Galahad had swayed some of them, while Mordred's own bullying commands and poor tactics had turned others. When it became clear that he would lose, Mordred attempted to flee the field, but was captured by fishermen in a nearby village. Beaten and humiliated, he was turned over to Galahad, who ordered mercy. The would-be king would be sentenced to imprisonment in Gilead, yet never made it back to his homeland, as the barred carriage that contained him mysteriously burst into flames only two days later. The House of Pendragon was extinguished.
With much of the north and south now behind him, Galahad was crowned king of all the lands of Lugh. Two years later, when Prydain agreed to join and Hygeld became its Duke, that claim would become true. Galahad named this kingdom Avalon, and worked tirelessly for his remaining years to strengthen its internal bonds. Fearing the outcome of too many former soldiers with little to do, he launched great crusades against the beasts of the forest and the orc tribes of the Wyvern Wastes, and by the time of his death years later Avalon was a strong and thriving kingdom.
Height and Decline Edit
For several generations, the peace of Avalon brought unheard-of prosperity to all corners of the kingdom. Proper roads were built or expanded, trade between the dukedoms thrived, and farms pushed the wilderness back to the fringes. Aside from the odd peasant revolt or bandit prince, the Galahain kings reigned unchallenged.
This period would come to be known as the height of Avalon. Notable events of this time include
- The famed Allydian Manticore was run down by a Royal Hunt. Three dukes were slain in the hunt.
- King Landuin, last of the Galahain line, was killed by the vampire Ambolc.
- Duke Baluin was named king, starting the Balian dynasty.
- The first Dragonborn raiders arrived from the Severn Sea.
- Queen Mercia defeated the orc invasion of Gorgrym the Vile after the death of her father, the king. The sword of Arthur was lost with the king.
- King Beren was killed in a duel with Duke Aiden of Gilead over indiscretions with the duke's daughter.
- The Skeleton King of Defnascir was defeated by Visian the Stormhawk.
- The Great Invasion of the Dragonborn conquered 3 dukedoms. They would be held for over 10 years.
- King Aelfwren, at the head of all the remaining dukes, defeated the Dragonborn and liberated all Avalon, yet all his sons died in battle, ending the Balian line.
- The War of the Dukes ended when the King Tristain the Young was put on the throne, yet the central power of Caerlyon was finished.
Tristain the Young was a weak ruler, almost a child and under the thumb of the dukes that had put him on the throne. During his reign, much of the power of the Caerlyon was ceded to the dukedoms. Following Tristain, a series of kings were put in place by the dukes and removed at their convenience. The last king of Avalon was Owyn Redspear, who slew the Duke of Gilead in an attempt to wrest control of the kingdom back. His rebellion lasted little more than a month, however, before his band turned on itself and Owyn was killed. Legends say that his last loyal companion buried the king along with the regalia of Avalon deep in the woods, to await the return of the promised kings again.
Though there has not been a king in Avalon for nearly two hundred years, the lands it once covered were shaped by its legacy. The people of the 12 dukedoms are still known as the Avalorn, as is their language. Though the decline of the kingdom reduced travel and contact between the dukedoms, some intrepid traders still travel across the length and breadth of the fallen kingdom.