"Iron Tusks and Gardener's Souls"
The Doloreaux made their home on the northern part of Calabria, moving quickly to claim the area between the Rother and Lyore rivers. Their arrival was not without violence --- the Doloreaux expansion was the first to buffet the Rinaldi, and later the Avoirdupois and Bisclavret. Young lords, eager to stake their claims to land, went to war whenever they thought they could win. After many victories and few losses, the Doloreaux have staked their claim . . . but they command no sea ports, and their farmland can only sustain their current population.
The Doloreaux are in a stalemate. Surrounded by rival houses, and with only enough farmland for subsistence, their holdings have no room to grow. Their leaders have chosen to expand their power through material wealth . . . which means dealing with the Guilds of Triskellian.
Friends and Foes
The Doloreaux have few friends. The Avoirdupois believe that all other noble houses should be evicted from Clalabria, and the Bisclavret have their eyes keen on expansion. The Chevernaise do not negotiate with anyone. The Rinaldi's power has all but disappeared. A stoic lot, the Doloreaux house is resigned to campaign against everyone, biding their time. They are building their resources through the help of sympathetic Triskellians and minor houses. They hope to expand their land holdings and be strong enough to keep their new borders --- no easy feat, given the Bisclavret's mercenaries and Avoirdupois' great forces.
The Doloreaux lands are bounded by the southern foothills of the Rothos Mountains. Their western border with the Bisclavret is the edge of the Rother River and the southern portion past the eastern face of the Walls of Calabria. It then proceeds down the western side of northern road past the beginning of the Granvert and stopping at the Three Corner fort. Their eastern border is the length of the Lyore River and they are faced there by the Avoirdupois.
This largest of all the Doloreaux cities is the focus of their financial efforts to maintain their shaky hold on their kingdom. Its battlements are a blocky affair: its squat, square towers and walls are on a raised plateau, surrounded by a moat. Its back is to the mountain face and it faces toward the Lyore River. Some say there is a network of caverns behind the battlements, which is the Doloreaux's real fortress.
The Walls of Calabria:
These massive cliffs tower over the adjoining rivers of the Rother and Lyore. Fully half a league high, they stand in testament to the might of the Granvert River, which roars toward Triskellian. Some speculate that these could not be the creation of the river alone.
A small town far up-river, closest to the Chevernaise pass, this hamlet would be considered pastoral and serene were it not for the fresh bulwarks and defenses built around it, as the other Noble Houses se it as a prime target for acquisition.
The Sacred Grove of Lutara:
Located somewhere in the Doloreaux foothills is reportedly a thick, uncut forest that the Doloreaux rangers do not permit anyone to enter. The local serfs have been known to refer to this area as the "Harvest Haunt" and they give it a wide berth. Since the Doloreaux are known to be ardent worshippers of an old faith, it is assumed that the Lutara Grove must be part of some religious mystery. Others whisper in hushed tones about more unsavory things.
Doloreaux lands are deep inland and bordered by mountains, their winters are milder than most, although there is a rainy season in the spring. Doloreaux live in a land whose temperature varies widely. When it is winter in Auriville it may be a balmy day in Bruges.
Flora and Fauna
The forests run toward the softer woods, good for building, but poor for ships or bows. Their farms tend to be terraced and grow mostly root crops. Some serfs attempt to raise drays on the scrub that grows in the hills, but they lack the skill and resources for proper destriers.
The Doloreaux have willingly adopted the denar as a unit of currency. The hills yield the iron, tin, and copper necessary to make cannons, which the gentry sell to buy the other goods they need. The hills are also a reasonable source of gems stones and precious metals. It is from their mountains that they extract and ship the finest ores and gems in all Calabria. Their skill in the mines is unequalled and is surpassed only by their skill in trade.
Most Doloreaux maintain a belief in the Old Faith, despite the efforts of Penitent missionaries. The deities worshipped vary from place to place, but the worship of Lutara invariably enjoys popularity above others. Their festivals and rites are renowned for their opulence. Conservative by nature, most Doloreaux look upon the prudish customs of S'allumer with disdain, and upon the secular modernism of wizardry and technology with distaste. Most folk continue to use the old Doloreaux calandar.
The Doloreaux law is simple and tends to conform closely to that in Triskellian. This is fairly new and as a result has been an increase in overall trade. This combined with their acceptance of the denar as their primary currency has made the Doloreaux a mercantile power.
The Doloreaux, maintain belief in the "Old Faith", often called "Lutarism" because of their goddess Lutara "the Lady". Their religion is dominated by a sacred order of High Mystes, whose membership is exclusively female. The Hierarchs of Lutara command supernatural mysteries beyond the understanding of scholarly wizards, and they do not share their secrets with unbelievers or outsiders.
Despite an aggressive campagn to motdenize to gunpowder, most of the Doloreaux levy and cavalry are still equipped with spears, swords, and shields. Fortunately, with their highly-defensible position, the Doloreaux do not need to modernize too quickly. They have been biding their time and building their assets.
Increased commerce with Triskellian has encouraged the Doloreaux folk to learn Calabrese. The Doloreaux family dialect is still practiced, but only among the gentry.
Men's given names include Burcet, Gauthier, Kalman, Mercer, and Tybault. Women's names include Calendre, Eglantine, Liana, Patrice, and Vivienne. Doloreaux surnames are more likely to be taken from the place they hail from (such as des Feurebouche, des Vosges, des Lyore, or des Mortemere), or from the month of their birth (such as d'Aubepine, de Chene, de Houx, de Vigne, or de Roseau) than their family name, unless they are of noble blood --- then such surnames include Bien-etre, Cattermaux, and DeLume.
History of House Doloreaux
Ancestors of Doloreaux arrived on Calabria two thousand years ago and claim to be the first to arrive, however there is no solid proof of this.
At some point in the distant past, Septagus, a powerful mad wizard boar. His existance is often in question, though he is still a powerful legend. He usually is the boogyman in Doloreaux culture, children are warned to behave or be taken to live with the Chevernaise in the caves and in the dark by Septagus. He is usually portrayed as enormous russet-colored boar with long tusks.
Myths speak of how Septagus held Calabria in slavery for 333 years. Around this time a great warrior, Bruge the Strong arose, and lead the ancestors of the Doloreaux in battle against Septagus and finally defeated him in single combat atop a hill which now has a city named Bruge.
Relations with Other Houses
Hated almost Universally by the Doloreaux. Constantly threaten Doloreaux's control of the river Lyore. Scarely a day passes without a border clash between the houses. Main trade between these two houses takes place in Triskellian. Aviordupois generally treat Doloreaux visitors to their lands with more charity than the Doloreaux do in return.
Not an Immediate threat to the Doloreaux. There are the Occasional skirmish between the two, but the Doloreaux do not want to risk anything, in an assult, for they would lose other land (to the Avoirdupois for instance).
Around River Granvert is where the most serious disputes occur. If the Doloreaux could claim even a small portion of those forests, their situation would be greatly improved. Locals will often sneak across this river and poach timber.
Respected for fighting prowess, but looked down upon for their lack of sophistication. Unrestricted passage between the lands of the two houses, and Bisclavret vistors are safe in Doloreaux lands, provided they keep their mouth shut and can prove they are there for a good reason.
Goat tribes of the Chevernaise are forever a thorn in our side. We are the holders of the Rothos Mountains, however, the Chevernaise seem to think that it is theirs, because they settled it in the past.
The Doloreaux both despise and fear the Chevernaise. Almost no diplomatic relations between the two. A Chevernaise who dared to enter a Doloreaux city would quickly find themselves under arrest and imprisoned. To a lesser extent, this prejudice extends to goats and rams from other regions as well, an unfortunate aspect of the times.
About forty years ago, Duke Leal de Doloreaux tried to "pacify" the Chevernaise tribes that rule the pass. A large army was raised and outfitted at great expense, with the best cannons and guns that the Duke could afford. The disciplined Doloreaux troops had several inital successes as they slowly advanced northward, but soon found they had been led into a trap. The Chevernaise blockaded the pass to the north and south of the army and trapped them there over the course of a bitter winter. The goat warriors made terrifying midnight raids on the Doloreaux camp, tumbling rocks down on their heads from the safety of the mountains. The boars had no choice but to dig in and wait for spring. Finally, after months of foul weather, starvation, and guerrilla raids, the Doloreaux forces were able to break out southward and limp their way back to Auriville. Barely one-quarter of the original army remained. This catastrophic defeat had a profound effect on the Doloreaux; whereas the Chevernaise were once seen as simple barbarians, they were now a terrifying bogeyman in the collective mind of the House. No atrocity is seen as too low for them, and the vilest rumors about their secret ways believed without question.
In the past, used to be bitter enemies. Now, the foxes have fallen far from their previous glory, and are now mearly pawns of the Guild Masters. The Doloreaux hope to profit from the current Rinaldi political infighting. The southern lands need not be seized by military might, but the Rinaldi may be forced to sell their land for one reason or another.
Triskellian and the Merchant Guilds
The Guilds of Triskellian may well hold the future prosperity of the Doloreaux in their hands. This realization has led the Doloreaux to curry favor from the various Guild masters whenever possible. The reasons are two-fold:
1) The guilds have access to the best weapons and armor in Calabria. The Doloreaux can pay in gold, while the other noble houses must pay in wood or grain. The friendlier the guilds are to the Doloreaux, the cheaper the goods.
2) The guilds are a power in thier own right. The Doloreaux are not a House that believes in "Divine Right", and the practice of selling titles of nobility is envied by the commoners of Triskellian.
Of all the noble houses, the Doloreaux are the most friendly and supportive of the minor houses. Because of Doloreaux's stalemate with the other Major Houses, they realize they need something to upset the balance. Because of this, they foster good relations with as many minor houses as they can. Aid can take many forms: letter patents to enfranchise land or duties to those who crave status; gold and money to those who need wealth; the largesse of healers and medicine to those who need support.
The Doloreaux tend to prop up a minor house, then use the nobles of that house to sow discord in the Triskellian courts, or even play two of their own allies against each other.
The most supported house of the Doloreaux is House Avinge. Although in recent years the Doloreaux have essentially taken over the northern settlement of Mortemere, the few remaining Avinge nobles are closer to rich farmers then noblemen.
Basically a non-entity to the Doloreaux. Very little interaction between the two. Doloreaux consider them to be ill-mannered barbarians, fit only for service in mercenary armies. In past have used them as a tool against Bisclavret. Some romantics have spoken on how the Phelan are more "in touch" with nature and their roots, and how modernism and technology has estranged the modern folk from their "true" place.