The Lost Aldorians
Established roughly a century ago, Oarsmeet was once a small fishing village barely within the borders of the Kingdom of Aldoria. As the years passed, the village grew, and with it, it’s reputation. thieves, thugs, and pirates were slowly drawn to the port town: some for the promise of an easy fortune taken from the unwary or unwitting; others for the call of danger. Still more came for a fresh start, as the law enforcement in Aldoria seldom bothered with such a remote little village, leaving criminals with a chance to lay low for months on end.
Around the time of the undead attacks, Aldoria saw the threat posed by a town of pirates as they prepared to sail across the sea to the new continent, and eventually dispatched a crew of sailors and soldiers to dispose of the vagabonds as quickly as possible to avoid any future confrontations. The crew, led by Commander Jackston Ridgebon and his second, Lieutenant Anne Cash, set sail immediately for Oarsmeet. By the time they arrived however, the attacks were growing more and more persistent, with the people of Oarsmeet struggling just to weather the waves of attacks. Commander Ridgebon, with his orders strengthening his resolve, was content to leave the scene and simply wait for the pirates to be overrun by the undead. He ordered his crew back onto the ship to return to Aldoria.
A handful of sailors, Lieutenant Cash included, refused to leave. They felt that it was their duty to the people of Aldoria, even if they were criminals, to ensure their safety however possible. Commander Ridgebon gave them a lifeboat and sent them ashore, deeming them deserters and criminals, just like the lot they were going to try to help. Between the ingenuity of the criminals and the discipline of the sailors, Oarsmeet soon had a simple guard set up, resilient enough to hold off the undead and Penitent long enough to evacuate the town.
By commissioning the aid of a local pirate by the name of “Mad Morty” Blackwaters and his ship, the Blue Ruby, as well as a few other vessels, Cash and her fellow deserters were able to secure passage to the new continent. After weeks of increasing aggressions by the undead, the citizens of Oarsmeet were finally ready and able to leave their homes, once and, some feared, for all. As the women, children, and elderly began to board the vessel, one of the town’s scouts burst into the barracks (once a minor gambling hall that had been repurposed out of necessity), a bite wound in his right arm. The blood drained from his face as he collapsed, uttering two final words with his last breath, “They’re close.”
As the guard scrambled to form some sort of defense against the imminent attack, a small horde of Penitent erupted from the woods near the village, charging the town, eager to spill blood that night. They set fire to houses and swarmed around anyone they could find, like a hive of bees insistent on stinging a target to death before moving to the next. Sensing that defeat would soon be upon them, Cash ordered the retreat back to the ships, and to shove off once they were full. Sailors covered the retreat, as pirates helped with wounded onto the ships, each ship setting sail when they could no longer afford to take on another passenger. Finally, all that remained were the sailors who had so far survived the attack, who began to board the final ship in the dock, the Blue Ruby herself.
With no force rallied against them, the Penitent rushed to the shoreline and unleashed volley after volley of flaming arrows towards the ships. Sails were ignited, leaving the ships and their passengers sitting like ducks in the water. Some had holes burned in their hulls, dragging the passengers down to a watery grave. In all, of the seven ships gathered to transport the citizens of Oarsmeet, only two, The Blue Ruby and the Interceptor, a small vessel carrying many of the wounded soldiers, survived the onslaught. Still they sailed, always looking back to shed a tear and share a song for those who died that day.
To the New World
During their voyage, the two ships were blown slightly off course, landing not on the shores of New Aldoria, but rather on a seemingly uninhabited beach. They would soon learn, however, that this was not the case at all. Shortly after reaching the shore, a forward scout reported seeing movement in the forest. “They looked like men,” he began, short of breath from both fear and exertion, “but they moved like wolves. Animalistic. As a pack. Right this way.”
As the scout had warned, soon enough, the pack of eight was upon the settlers, encircling them as a pack of wolves would do. A large male clad in bear fur approached Mad Morty. “You are in Grimward Territory, outsiders. Give me one good reason not to cut you down where you stand.” The answer the settlers gave made no difference. These Ulven were hostile, and saw the Aldorians as invaders. Weapons were drawn, threats were made, and taunts exchanged. Two Aldorians fell to Ulven blades, while an Ulven took an arrow to the heart, collapsing with a mighty thud. The Ulven retreated, their skill, great though it may be, was insufficient to overcome the dozens of settlers they faced. A promise was made, though, for the Ulven to return, that the Aldorians may never know peace from their wrath.
An Ulven promise made is a promise kept, and the next day, another small pack came to the encampment to harass the settlers, throwing rocks and insults, seemingly reluctant to strike the first blow. The Aldorians had banded together and soon set about constructing proper, if slightly crude, buildings. Stone walls and wooden fences, roofs to shelter them from the elements, and a roaring bonfire to drown out the howls of their Ulven tormentors.
No Ulven came that night, nor the next. For a week, the Aldorians slept in a wary peace, ever watchful of their new, distrustful neighbors. On the second night, a scout failed to return. Lost, as most had suspected, but none knew how right they were. On the third night, the scout was found. Scattered throughout the forest, torn apart, large chunks of flesh missing from his limbs and torso. A look of pure fear, unlike any seen since the first undead attacks, frozen on his lifeless face. On the fourth night, two more scouts disappeared, only to be found in similar grisly states the next day.
A war party was formed, two dozen able-bodied fighters and clerics strode into the first Ulven camp they saw. Accused of committing these acts, the Ulven seethed with rage. Despite the hatred they felt for the intruders, the Ulven live, fight, and die with honor. They would not stoop so low as to defile a corpse in such a manner. “This is the work of the Mordok.” Ulven fists clenched and jaws tightened at the mere mention of their mortal enemies, while a look of fear came over the Aldorians.
“What the hell is a Mordok?” Lieutenant Cash, now known as “Bloody Anne”, First Miss of the Blue Ruby, asked, more furious than scared.
The bear-clad Ulven from several days before let out a loud chortle, rippling out to the surrounding few, until the entire camp had joined in to mock the foolishness of the invaders. “Good luck, outsiders. Now,” he added, reaching for his massive axe, leading his companions to do the same, “Run back to your little cottages before we show you the meaning of Grimward hospitality.”
So the hatred between the Aldorians and the Ulven festered like an open wound. Raiding parties would be sent to steal supplies, burn buildings, and slaughter livestock the other would deem a necessity. Skirmishes would break out on regular occasions, although all-out warfare had yet to erupt.
The Aldorians would not actually see a Mordok until a week later, when the curious monster was attempting to free itself from a bear trap laid by an Aldorian hunter. It shrieked at the sight of the stranger, more startled than frightened, and in it’s panic, tore the flesh from it’s leg as it bolted into the woods. Soon enough, though, the hunter felt eyes upon him. He was also being hunted, and took off for the camp. As he made it into the clearing, a Mordok leapt towards him and grabbed his ankle, knocking him to the ground. The guards on patrol heard his cries for help and rushed to his location, but all they found by the time they arrived was a bloody trail and several sets of footprints that seemed almost human. A search party was assembled, and they set off after the beasts, following the trail of blood. Almost two hours later, they found the hunter, nearly unconscious, with his back against a large boulder and a dagger in his hand. Three of the black skinned monsters were circling him, while another lay dead and bleeding at his feet. These were hunters themselves, and knew that he would not live much longer one way or another, so they waited. The search party managed to slay one of the creatures, and drove the other two off, carrying the wounded hunter back to camp to patch him back up. This marked the first time a Lost Aldorian had encountered a Mordok and lived to see the light of day again.
New Oarsmeet and the Pirates of Aldoria
A number of years have passed, and the small band of survivors has truly established themselves in the area, as a town they designated New Oarsmeet. Sturdy log walls encase the town, and squat stone buildings crowd the land, homes and businesses for the Aldorians. Clan Grimward’s raids have only intensified: Cattle are no longer the object, as they have found a greater use for captives.
The citizens of New Oarsmeet, while they do grow some of their own food, and have taken to looting whatever they can from Ulven outposts in the area, have found their stores running dry faster than expected. As a result, the Blue Ruby will occasionally take to the sea once again, in hopes of finding a merchant vessel or the like, something heavy with coin or supplies. The piracy is a blast from the past for some, while others have a a slightly harder time justifying the theft of food from those who may also need it, but starvation can be a powerful motivational tool, and these individuals eventually agree that it is for the best.
New Aldoria has reached out to New Oarsmeet on more than one occasion, sending a delegate to the town in hopes of convincing them to rejoin their former brethren. Feeling abandoned by the crown and the ideals it supposedly represents, however, these Lost Aldorians, also known as the Pirates of Oarsmeet, have rebuffed these offers time and time again. Until they feel Aldoria has been returned to her former glory, until she is once again a force to be reckoned with and a benevolent hand to be loved, they will refuse to acknowledge the ruling class of New Aldoria. Still wearing the Green and Blue of their homeland, the Lost Aldorians have added the color purple to their uniforms, often in the form of a scarf or flag worn on the belt, to represent the royal family to whom many of them still feel they owe allegiance, as well as the blood spilled in the water as they fled their home.
While they do not care for the nobles of New Aldoria, the Pirates of Oarsmeet try to maintain pleasant relations with the common folk of their homeland, and will readily accept aid and commerce with other nations. Their opinion of the Ulven has been tainted by Clan Grimward, since you never get a second chance at first impression. Clan Grimward continues to plague New Oarsmeet with near constant raids, although the Aldorians have learned to better handle the situation, and supplies they have received from trading with other nations have restored morale and saved many lives. To this day, they are distrustful of Ulven culture, even among friendly clans, although they have resolved themselves to an uneasy peace with them.
”Bloody” Anne Cash