The Ten Runic Kingdoms of Kjolheim
The Runic Kingdoms occupy the southeast corner of Alzhrin. To the north is the Rivermarch and the western border abuts Issheim. The Runic Kingdoms are primarily inhabited by the Hervardr, though the jotunkin also travel heavily through these lands. Most other races are welcome, though in the majority of the kingdoms laussalfar are met with derision at best.
The entirety of Kjolheim is cold. Most of the southern kingdoms are covered in snow for the majority of the year. Most of the Runic Kingdoms are plains, with the western region rising into hills. Kjolheim is divided into four major geographical regions. The south, along the coastline of the Radiant Sea, is called the Frost Shores. This barren, wind-swept plain perpetually has at least a thin coating of snow. The western hills are most commonly called Issbane as a reference to their abutment to the territory of the historically standoffish laussalfar. Hervardr from Zükinn instead refer to them as the White Hills, in honour of their neighbours. The north, near the border with the Rivermarch, is stony tundra. The rest of Kjolheim, from the White Hills to the Sunsea, is open plains.
Politically, Kjolheim is divided into ten Runic Kingdoms. In the west, taking up most of the White Hills, is Zükinn. Most of the northern tundra is split between the three Bandit Kings, ruling kingdoms largely-ignored by the rest of the Hervardr: Ojos, Valheir, and Gubenshev. The Frost Shores are occupied by Heimell in the west and Westhenn in the east. The shores of the Sunsea, along the eastern border of Kjolheim, are ruled by the seafaring kingdom of Jelthune. The central plains are divided rather unevenly and arbitrarily by the kingdoms of Pollut, Thornzev, and Kordr.
Zükinn is the largest of the Runic Kingdoms, spread across the majority of the White Hills. This is the only kingdom to be on good terms with the laussalfar, due in large part to the efforts of Zükinn’s king, Zerick Jandol. Zükinn’s capitol city of Reiklin sits in a valley just to the west of the kingdom’s centre. Reiklin has the highest concentration of farming in the Runic Kingdoms – likely a factor in Zükinn’s size and importance. Other towns in Zükinn do not have large stretches of farmland, though innumerable small farms dot the countryside. Most of the towns are found along slow-moving rivers that wind their way between the hills. Food is most commonly acquired through fishing and hunting. Trappers catch fox and rabbit, as larger animals are rare in the White Hills.
Ojos, Valheir, and Gubenshev are fighting for the poor land in Kjolheim’s north. They are little more than city-states in the middle of the tundra, with natives of each “kingdom” greatly exaggerating its size. These kingdoms are ruled by the Bandit Kings Martev, Lisser, and Volthume, respectively. Most food is found by hunting moose and other large tundra-dwellers. Farms are less common in these kingdoms than elsewhere in Kjolheim, as the rule of law is weak and banditry is common.
Heimell sits in the southwest, abutting the Radiant Sea. Few cities are near the coast, though many lie along the kingdom’s rivers. The capitol, Walsheimr, sits in between the rivers Westfimn and Eastfimn just after they split. Heimell’s king is Korgen Vasthustr, a small man renowned for his prowess in battle against larger opponents. Fishing and hunting are common, with only a small number of farms across the land.
Westhenn stretches from Heimell to the Sunsea. It’s population is sparse, due to much of the region being rocky coastline. Few rivers run through Westhenn, so due to most Hervardr’s strange phobia of the sea few fishermen work in this kingdom. There are also fewer farms than is typical for Kjolheim due to the poor terrain. Westhenn’s king, Masres Ithorr, has been sending young warriors out to slay monstrous beasts to provide food with varying degrees of success. The capitol city of Karjen lies entirely on the western shores of Eastfimn.
Jelthune lies along the eastern shore next to the Sunsea. Its residents are unusual among the Hervardr in that they show no aversion to the ocean. They have several cities along the coast and frequently send ships out for fishing or colonisation of some of the nearby islands. Several prominent warriors have been known to dive into the Sunsea and battle aquatic monsters. The Sea-King Gabfirn rules Jelthune from his flagship Kessminr, coming to port only when an emergency demands his attention.
Pollut is a small kingdom between Zükinn and Kordr. Pollut’s king is Lesthem Vadsignr. Due to an uncontrolled reaction that is believed to have been caused by a linking of incompatible runes, the old capitol, Teryel, was vaporised. New Teryel sits a mile south of the old city’s location. As a result of the disaster, runesmiths are distrusted and may be attacked.
Kordr sits near Kjolheim’s geographic centre. Lying in the plains between Zükinn and Thornzev, Kordr is more violent and expansionist than is typical for Hervardr. While Zükinn and Thornzev are largely able to to defend themselves militarily, Kordr’s king, Theven Hasrisr, has been slowly taking territory from Pollut for the past seven years. The capitol recently was moved to Pellgavr, a fortress that used to sit within Pollut’s territory.
Thornzev lies between Kordr and Jelthune. Lacking Zükinn’s natural defences, the kingdom must spend much of its resources warding off aggression from Kordr. Combined with the beasts that roam the land, Thornzev’s citizens are tough and accustomed to battle. Barik Motos, king of Thornzev, manages the defence of his land quite proficiently. Thornzev’s capitol is Mellthon, a small city surrounded by earthen ramparts.
The castle of Thigsevr has recently seceded from the kingdom of Thornzev. Its ruler, Brennol Kathjos, is attempting to declare it an eleventh Runic Kingdom. So far, none of the other kings recognise it as a sovereign entity. A large region of the tundra between Ojos and Valheir is filled with shallow lakes. These lakes range from one to six metres deep. The lakes are very close together, only navigable by small, winding paths that meander between them. This area is called Böehm’s Footsteps, after the demigod that is said to live there. Though they don’t like to talk about it, the former site of the city Teryel is haunted by something. Theories range from spirits of the dead to runes that gained sentience, but whatever the case may be the entities are not able to leave the several-kilometre-diameter circle where the city used to be. A few hundred metres off the southern coast, near the centre of Westhenn, lies a strange sculpture known as the Black Knight. Seemingly carved from black ice, this gigantic idol rises out of the ocean, the Radiant Sea only coming up to the Knight’s knees. Local legend states that the Black Knight comes from a frozen land far to the south, slowly walking across the sea for the past thousand years.