- Location: Southern third of the continent of Mistone, bordered by Brelin to the north and the Ulgrid Kingdom to the south.
- Size: insert size
- Capital City: Fort Vehl
- Population: 150,000 -50% human, 21% dwarf, 10% halfling, 5% gnome, 5% elf, 6% brokanian, 23% unliving
- Founder: Francis Antoine Vehlor
- Current Ruler: Urzhrah Kezed Gran'dherm
- Date of founding 1404
- Notable towns and cities: Dapplegreen, Fort Vehl, Mesgard, Halin
- Other notable locations: Crypt of an Ancient Lich, Gloom Woods, Gulf of Co'rys, Battlehelm Moors, Sooth Moors, Lake Troust, Morning Creek, Ruin of Corpses, Taro River, Tower of Locusts
What is mine is mine. What is yours is mine if you can't defend it. And just to be sure, I'd better try and take that too.
-Unofficial motto of Co'rys
The terrain of Co'rys is well-explained by just listening to the nicknames northerners have for it: the Swamp Kingdom, the Realm of Muck, Vehlor's Slog. And it certainly earns these less than flattering titles; the eastern and western third are swampland, the central portion damp forest, and the rest wet flatlands. Co'rys has been swampy for as long as anyone can remember. The land ripples in rolling dips and berms, with the overall elevation only slightly higher than sea level around the wooded central portion and descending to the east and west until the ocean. Runoff from the Brechs keeps the ground soaked and forms the deep, cold Lake Troust.
Two rivers run out of the Brechs' stony feet; from Lake Troust the Morning Creek feeds into the Gloom Woods, and the brackish Taro River runs north from near Fort Vehl, picking up freshwater runoff along its way. The long, shallow Gulf of Co'rys stretches in from the eastern coast all the way to the woods, skimming by and helping to fill the Sooth Moors.
Few parts of the kingdom are suitable for deforestation and farming beyond Dapplegreen and the elves there are most assuredly not going to let that happen for as long as even one of them stands. Therefore aside from home gardens there are no major farms in the kingdom. Sustenance is obtained by begging, barter, trade, hunting, and violence.
The urzhrah rules Co'rys. Beside him is Yveisha, his one advisor, and below him is his council, officially called the Co'rys Advisory. The Advisory consists of Thubrik Temper of Mesgard's dwarves, a Mesgard mage named Voire de Contre, and one brokanian from Halin called Ashima of Thistle Brood. Needless to say the tension is usually unbearable with fights breaking out regularly.
To the urzhrah, however, the fights are immaterial as he manipulates things to get what he wishes. In fact, he counts on them to keep the Advisory Council busy, although Ashima worries him greatly in her sharp-eyed understanding of his methods.
Town governments are left alone unless Kezed needs something from them.
History and Rumors
Called a kingdom by its leaders but considered a joke (or a scourge) by its neighbors, the borders of Co'rys have only recently been defined. Previous to the coup of Francis Vehlor the swampy basin between the former Queen of Mistone's realm and the mountains of the dwarves was a no-man's-land; those portions that were useful were controlled by Queen Allurial (such as Fort Vehl and Dapplegreen) and the rest were ignored. Not good for farming, haunted by unliving and either covered in thick tangled forest or sticky muck, the land now called Co'rys found only one use. It was the perfect place for lawbreakers and ne'er-do-wells to hide.
Rather than waste resources and time flushing out every petty thief and brigand, the areas around the Dapplegreen outskirts and the Gloom Woods were left to be time and time again. No kingdom, city or clan wanting to get mired in guerilla warfare. Even during Queen Allurial's time only the direct route from Dapplegreen to South Port (now called Fort Vehl) was patrolled. Sometimes called Faht Veeahl due to the slow, drawling regional dialect, the docks are still a welcome sight to anyone coming from the long routes of Alindor or Dregar, and very welcome to those who have had to sail around the Ulgrid's southern tip. The town, now the capital, was supposed to be under Allurial's protection but the remote location made for a great deal of nefarious traffic which has only increased in recent years. Some say that Fort Vehl is every bit as bad as Hurm, with more illegitimate ships docking than legitimate ones, but many more say it has always been so, and no one really cared.
And it was this apathy that allowed one man, finally, to make for himself a throne -however briefly.
Francis Antoine Vehlor was born in the port city that would bear his name in 1367. His life there is well known; he was in turn a scamp, a ruffian, a thug, a thief, and a dealmaker with a very brief stint as a pirate until his predisposition to seasickness became extremely evident. He was bright and ambitious and became a superb politician, unencumbered as he was by such inconvenient notions as honesty and integrity. He bade his time, making tenuous alliances, reaching out to the twisters of the Al'Noth in Mesgard, making contact with the brokanian of Halin, and setting himself up as mayor of his birth town. He named the area from Dapplegreen to the Ulgrids "Co'rys" after its inland sea in 1404 and began to call it a kingdom starting then, but only inside his self-proclaimed borders did anyone listen. The rest of Mistone scoffed, if they even knew. Even when it became known that Queen Allurial had selected governors to lead the different geographical areas of Mistone in anticipation of her leaving the mortal world, Vehlor continued to push "his" kingdom. And he continued to wait with an almost eerie patience until Octlar 11th, 1411, exactly one day after Allurial was called home to Lucinda.
While Mistone reeled from the loss of their beloved Queen and mere hours before a governor appointed by Allurial was due to arrive and assume control, Francis Vehlor struck. In one day his hand-picked thugs expelled those few Allurial patrols that had not been recalled to the castle for crowd control; the governor was escorted back to the border of Brelin under heavy guard; mages under the control of his wizard and advisor Yveisha put up spells that would alert him if large numbers of people crossed the borders on any side; and everywhere around Co'rys and on each roadway appeared the sword-and-coin crest of the kingdom. Patrols, if they could be called such, walked the traveled roads demanding tribute for the use of the kingdom's land and left in rough shape anyone unwilling or unable to pay the highly subjective fees. On the evening of that long day, the flag of South Port was pulled down and replaced with the Co'rys crest and the town's new name: Fort Vehl.
Vehlor set in place a governmental structure and extended diplomatic hands to the north. He tried to form an alliance with Jukha, the Dwarfbane, but the orc religious leader slaughtered every delegation and the Fort Vehl dwarves almost rebelled when they found out. Still, he had a form of government; leaders from the three major cities forming a council to implement Francis's decisions; a flag, a rudimentary navy and a small army of thugs for ground forces. He also had two advisors, Yveisha and Kezed Gran'dherm, that had stuck with him for over a decade, and he trusted them as much as he trusted anyone.
This was his first mistake.
Yveisha has said she is from Voltrex, and has claimed to have returned on several occasions although many have their doubts about her being welcome on the elven island. At the time Francis met her, she was starting a small mage's guild called Veishana and sometimes worked with the magic-users near Mesgard. Her guild continues to grow, albeit slowly, and although she has not had contact with the Mesgard mages for some years, her connection to the Tower of Locusts appeared strong. No amount of intelligence gathering has yet revealed what her affiliation with the Tower might be.
Kezed Gran'dherm, an unfortunately named dwarf who had emigrated from a small clan in the barbarian lands to the north, was close to both Francis and Yveisha. It was through Kezed's advice and assistance that the mages outside Mesgard were convinced to ally with dwarves (and vice versa), and because of his negotiations the formerly run-down swamp shack village turned into a town. Kezed was also an accomplished rune carver with a penchant for dark alchemy and a fascination with, if not a grasp of, necromancy. Francis trusted these two advisors, counting on their natural enmity as dwarf and elf to prevent any coups.
This was his second mistake.
Behind his back, the two supposed cultural opposites found they had much in common; much more, in fact, than they did with their â€œfriendâ€? and leader. While the three shared a common bond of enlightened self-interest, Kezed was versed in the runic â€œmagicâ€? of his people and Yveisha in the manipulation of the Al'Noth. Francis had no interest in magic, using it only to further his goals with no appreciation of the unique properties of the lands he now commanded. Co'rys, the swamp; Co'rys, the magnet for magical creatures, unliving, and powerful mages; Co'rys, the kingdom steeped in shadowed magic of the past. Only Kezed and Yveisha understood what potential the lands had for those that used the arcane. And when Francis decided to uproot the Gloom Woods for arable farming land, they acted.
The exact story will probably never be told. But one crisp Septlar morning in 1416, Francis Antoine Vehlor did not get up. Poisoned by what was determined to be a rare distillation of the venom of the four-eyed lemon snake of Corsain, power passed quietly to his closest advisor, Kezed, who took Yveisha as his advisor and the title Urzhrah (owner) for himself. Since then he's been busy, waging what amounts to a small war on the dwarves in the southern mountains and overseeing the training of his army and navy.
The majority of the population of Co'rys is located in one of the four cities; Fort Vehl, Mesgard, Dapplegreen, or Halin. The rest are scattered in abandoned villages and other makeshift shelters and most of these people are either on the lam or will be soon.
The flag of Co'rys is a black silk velvet cloth with a silver sword, point downward, impaling three golden coins.
The Co'rys military is flung around the kingdom and contains four parts. First is the "army" with no name as yet. This organization is all things -patrols, military actions, town guard. It is under the charge of Andrew Cartier, who is called Captain or sometimes Lieutenant depending on who is speaking to him. He holds the only title, and the rest of the army are addressed by whatever name they present.
Second is the navy, which is primarily composed of ship's captains who owe favors to Kezed or were known to owe favors to Vehlor. Fort Vehl does have six warships now, each being extensively refitted when they are not out on "shakedown" voyages (which, some cryptically remark, always seems to coincide with increased piracy in the area). A gnome by the name of Elmswhittle is in charge of the ship's refitting but a naval war captain, if there is one, has not come into public view.
In a tall building near the Fort Vehl gladiator arena is the Veishana of Co'rys, Yveisha's group of spellweavers. Very little is known about them except that they tend to work with the Tower of Locusts more often than the Mesgard mages and are predominantly elven. Most of the defenses of Co'rys are magical in nature and of those; the targeted warning wards, the constructs prowling the tangled, wet borders looking for intruders, the flying eyeballs plucked from other beings and enchanted to scry until they rot to nothing; most come from this single heavy-beamed building.
The mages in Mesgard work with Kezed on occasion, placing wards and doing other less savory magical things, but their price is high. Only Kezed's fascination with their powers over the unliving and their desire to hide behind his government keep the alliance from dissolving.
Finally, the Tower of Locusts works with the Veishana of Co'rys in exchange for access to the Gloom Woods. What the Veishana get from this is unknown.
Urzhrah Kezed Gran'dherm -Stout, with even features marred by the pitted, shiny scars of acid, Kezed is a dwarf with black hair and eyes and the pale skin of a northerner. He claims to come from somewhere in the Black Ice Isle but his past is a cipher beyond his years in Co'rys. All that can be said is he came in on a ship from Raven's Watch, became friendly with Francis Vehlor soon after, and was a loyal and cunning friend - until he wasn't. He lives in a home in the center of Fort Vehl with two sets of walls, many guards, and his halfling wife Tish, with whom he indulges in his one odd hobby -dancing. He is said to be light on his feet and very flexible. He has an even temper, not given to fits, but has no problems dispatching anyone who displeases him with no more thought that throwing away a gnawed turkey leg after dinner.
Yveisha -This matronly elf carries considerably more weight than others of her race and wears her auburn hair much shorter than is fashionable among elves. Still, she is striking, standing taller than a human female to balance her curves. Yveisha is also single-minded in her pursuit of the secrets of central Co'rys and the magic enchanting it to the exclusion of friends, kin, innocents, or anything else that might get in her way. Her age is unknown, although she appears to be early in her life, and her birth home likewise is given only as Voltrex, leaving the listener to try and guess where on that island she may have family. Her powers with the Al'Noth are unmistakable and she strongly favors illusion and deception to displays of destructive power. Her friendship, if it can be called that, with Kezed is the one thing she might seem to value almost as much as the enigma of the Gloom Woods.
Me first?. If one concept could define both the government and its people, this would be it. Co'rys has become a haven of crime and survivalists, those who are not afraid to take what they need regardless of the laws of the world elsewhere. Edicts and laws are enforced at the whims of those who enact them, and generally have the lifespan of a baby kitten in the Battlehelm Moors. This is the prevailing attitude and explains much about how Co'rys works.
As a result of this lawlessness, the slave trade through the kingdom is fairly brisk. While there are few in the kingdom who can afford slaves, Vehl is a common port of call for slaver ships.