Realms of Mythrais
This area is in truth an extension of hills and moors extending north from the Old Iron Mountains and running east from The Blackfire Escarpments to the waters of Crystal Lake. Numerous small woodlands dot the area; but it is known to all that the higher cool winds here blow over land more easily recognizable as moorland; while the lower lying lands along the border with the New River, Old Duchies and Crystal Lake are often called heathland.
Herd animals, primarily sheep, are the economy of this land; though vegetable crops of turnips, and potatoes are grown in the better areas too. Because the soil is poor, few other crops grow well here; though much hay is produced here and sold in abundance to the Duchies of Birkland and Syresham. Because of old traditions handed from the Kaeltan, no man of the Highland Fiefs is a serf; but instead they are Yeoman farmers who are related to their noble by blood and are considered Freemen one and all.
This is an important fact for one reason: the primary export of The Highland Fiefs is mercenaries who serve throughout the Kingdom of Mahn in its many lands. Those that survive a few years of such service invariably return to the Highland Fiefs with their earnings to help along their families and even continue to produce more and more mercenary sons. The second export of the Highland Fiefs is women. Because so many men marry women in their travels and bring them home, and some men don’t ever come home, the women here find few mates. Knowing this, men from surrounding lands come here to large fairs seeking women to woo; and to pay a substantial dowry to the family from which the young woman comes.
This practice has been carried out for hundreds of years because of the renowned beauty of the women of the Highland Fiefs, as well as their strength of character and body as child bearers. King Alisander Chestelaine’s own mother was from a family of the Highland Fiefs in fact; though they had all perished by the time that she was discovered to be the daughter of the King’s grandfather who was a distant relative to the nearly extinguished Royal Line.
The nobility of the Highland Fiefs are descended from old Kaeltan Clan Chiefs, and their families have passed along these leadership roles for generations. Each of these great family leaders is in fact elected by a council of elders, but the King has final say in bestowing the title of Baron on those elected. Once a Baron is selected, he serves for life as a vassal of the White King. Over time, these elections have become somewhat ceremonial and usually confirm the eldest son of the previous Baron.
There is only one true town of note in the Highland Fiefs, the town of Caurean which holds the largest fairs and meetings of the area.
(more to come)