The Forest Kings - Fourth House
Eublad, ruled 1-37
Irwulf r. 37-53
Fȳrwulf I r. 53-58
Euwulf r. 58-64
Widwulf I r. 64-69
Gwythyr the Great r. 69-97
Auwode r. 97-123
Aowode r. 123 (died sixteen days after his father)
Fȳrwulf II r. 123-138
Bladwulf I the Warlike r. 138-144
Auwid r. 144-153
Iwwulf (All-Fair) r. 153-157
Aewulf the Peaceful r. 157-173
Auwode the Unfortunate r. 173-176
Widwulf the Unwise r. 176-211 & 212-214 (lost his throne for a year after King Óige of the Marčovȉkians invaded Caerlean and replaced him)
Bladwulf the Cruel r. 214 (murdered one month after claiming his father's throne)
Simplified family tree of the House of Wolves
Eublad: 'bright blade'
Ruler of the Vespervȉk (a kingdom stretching over Soncepéja, Ovce, East and West Kwiat, Zelénpese, Pravasese, Zemědobar and Stromnoha), Eublad began a tentative unification of the rest of the country.
His father was Caumaān of Kwiat, and he was killed in battle by Uidol of Tupgóra while Eublad was still a young boy. Forced into exile, Eublad found refuge at the court of Uidol's brother, Drufei of Oštrogóra (the two brothers having fallen out many years previous). Over the next decade, he built up support in what would become the Vespervȉk and, eventually, raised an army to defeat Uidol and claim his throne.
In later battles, he defeated the rulers of Kamen, Slanína, Lotcăjern and Korenina, also receiving the submission of Drufei's weak son and successor, Zelénur of Oštrogóra. However, Eublad was unable to maintain such a dominant position, and within a year, Zelénur's own son, Rhuddwode the Warlike, had regained his father's throne.
Despite this setback, Eublad retained control of most of the central and south-western counties, barring Solmorje. The counties of Slanína, Lotcăjern and Korenina (which became known as the Threōwode, or 'land of three forests') were given to his son, Irwulf, to rule as a subkynge, or sub-king, under Eublad. When Irwulf succeeded to his father's throne, all of these counties were united once again.
It is unclear who Eublad married; the likeliest candidate would be one of the daughters of his protector, Drufei of Oštrogóra, during his time in exile. His only son, Irwulf, was born when Eublad was forty-three years old.
Irwulf: 'forging of the wolves'
King of the Vespervȉk, he was first appointed as subkynge by his father to the Threōwode (Slanína, Lotcăjern and Korenina). When Eublad died in 37, Irwulf successfully merged all of these counties into the largest unified bloc yet seen in Caerlean.
Irwulf caused a small scandal when, at the age of sixteen, he married the daughter of one of his father's manservants. Eowid went on to bear him five sons, four of whom became kings, and one daughter; however, she was never crowned queen, and Irwulf later deserted her and married again. His second wife was Krílith, Lady of Krílovoće. After Irwulf's death, she went on to marry his son Fȳrwulf (see below).
It was during Irwulf's reign that the Marčovȉkians (or 'people from the sea') began their raids along the south coast of Caerlean. Eigen in Ovce was the site of the first major battle in 46; further skirmishes meant closer relations with Sučovȉk began to form, ultimately ending in the marriage of Irwulf's youngest son Gwythyr to the daughter of Sučovȉk's rulers. Tragically, it was in one such clash with the Marčovȉkians that Irwulf’s eldest son Eewulf was killed at the age of just fourteen.
Irwulf's only daughter Swiftwulf married the ruler of Tupgóra, grandson of his father's old adversary, Uidol. Irwulf also decided to split his kingdom in two, appointing his eldest surviving son Fȳrwulf subkynge of the Threōwode, and his next son Euwulf subkynge of the majority of the Vespervȉk, leaving himself only the central county of Stromnoha. Historically, this has been seen as a dereliction of duty, although it may have been intended merely as a way to give his successors a taste of power, as his own father had done. Irwulf has always suffered in comparison to his youngest son, Gwythyr.
Fȳrwulf I: 'wolf flame'
The second-born of the five sons of Irwulf and Eowid, he became regent over the Threōwode during his father’s reign, with his brother Euwulf in charge of the Vespervȉk. When Irwulf died, the two brothers continued to rule side-by-side in peace.
Perhaps the most shocking act of Fȳrwulf’s reign came when he married his widowed stepmother, Krílith, Lady of Krílovoće. The connection to the wealthy county of Krílovoće was so important that Fȳrwulf was willing to risk even the opposition of the incumbent Lady, who refused to sanctify the marriage. Little else of note occurred during Fȳrwulf’s reign; drawing from contemporary accounts, it is thought that he viewed his wife more as a sister than lover. After Fȳrwulf’s death, Krílith returned to her father in Krílovoće, but later eloped with a minor knight. Their son, Stovoće, would go on to marry Fȳrwulf’s niece Aowulf.
Euwulf: 'bright wolf'
Euwulf was the third son of Irwulf and his first wife Eowid. His father made him subkynge of the Vespervȉk during the latter years of his reign, whilst elder brother Fȳrwulf was given the Threōwode.
After their father’s death in 53, Euwulf became king of the Vespervȉk. When Fȳrwulf died childless five years later, the Threōwode also passed into Euwulf’s hands, thus reuniting the land once again.
Euwulf’s reign is thought to have been one of peace and prosperity; however, Marčovȉkian attacks did continue to multiply along the south coast. Perhaps as a result of this, the one major development of Euwulf’s reign was for all of his lands to become a united entity in 59. The Vespervȉk, Kamen and the Threōwode stood at its core; Krílovoće swiftly acknowledged fealty to Euwulf, thanks to the influence of Krílith, its twice-widowed queen. Uifrae, King of Tupgóra and Euwulf’s brother-in-law followed suit in 60, as did Nočovȉk and Sučovȉk, the two largest counties in the land, two years later. Andras, Lord of Nočovȉk, and his wife, Rhiamon, Lady of Sučovȉk, had only one child, a daughter Eoswift, and she had just married Euwulf’s youngest brother Gwythyr. By the time of Euwulf’s death in 64, he ruled over half the counties of Caerlean.
Widwulf I: 'to know the wolf'
The recognised king of most of Caerlean, Widwulf was the fourth son of King Irwulf. In the year of his succession, a large Marčovȉkian army invaded Golvàgóra, the most northerly point of their attack yet, and within two years they had conquered both Golvàgóra and Zmìja.
In 67 both the rulers of Krílovoće and Tupgóra appealed to Widwulf for help against the Marčovȉkians. Widwulf sent soldiers to help his brother-in-law, Uifrae of Tupgóra, and they succeeded in driving the invaders over the Plečó Mountains and back into Golvàgóra; however, Krílovoće was left to fall to the Marčovȉk onslaught in 68.
In the five years of Widwulf’s rule, the united kingdom he had inherited fell apart. Krílovoće was lost, and with a Marčovȉkian threat looming over their shoulder, Nočovȉk came close to declaring itself independent once more. Indeed, it was probably only Widwulf’s early death at the Battle of Śvetáei in East Kwiat that stopped the country from splitting further.
Widwulf had two sons, Eawulf and Omwulf. Both were still children when their father died, however, and as the country was under constant attack from the Marčovȉkians, it was thought wisest for the kingdom to be handed to Widwulf’s younger brother Gwythyr (who was then twenty-two years old).
Eawulf, the eldest wulfling (a royal prince eligible for kingship), later disputed the throne with Gwythyr’s son, Auwode. With the help of the Marčovȉkians, Eawulf managed to raise an army, and the two sides met at the Battle of Aeom in 97. The wulfling was poorly prepared in comparison with his newly-crowned cousin; Eawulf was killed, thus ending his challenge to rule.
Gwythyr the Great: ‘conqueror’
Gwythyr was the youngest son of King Irwulf and ruled Caerlean from 69 to 97. The first ten years of his rule were spent reacting to Marčovȉk invasions and quashing various uprisings from native lords. The rest of his nigh-on thirty year rule became famous for its high culture and learned court, as well as the on-going expansion of the country as a whole.
Following a decisive battle at Kwimere, West Kwiat, in 76, Gwythyr successfully drove the Marčovȉkians out of the majority of Caerlean, forcing them into the cold and barren wasteland of Zmìja; however, his victory came not without heartache.
The fighting and disorder had left a legacy of poor sanitation, disease and death, and a number of plagues swept the southern and central counties immediately following the battle. Gwythyr’s three year old son, Wulfwode, died after falling victim to one such sweating sickness, leaving him with only one heir. Also, Gwythyr himself had sustained a terrible injury to his upper left leg during the battle that refused to heal.
The following year, he travelled to Aolon to seek the city’s healing waters. There, he met a mysterious young man with violet eyes, who had been found as a baby at the foot of a hawthorn tree – the sorcerer, Myrddin.
As is still the case today, sorcery was much-feared and frowned upon; however, the city of Aolon was well-known for its nurturing of all things magic. Gwythyr himself was fascinated by the numerous mystics that lived in the mist-shrouded lake villages. His mind had become weakened with the pain from his leg, and he grew feverishly obsessed with conversing with his dead son. Myrddin not only healed the wound, he also gently but firmly convinced the king that his son was beyond the reach of the mortal world, and he should let such things rest.
His mind, body and soul freshly healed, Gwythyr invited Myrddin to become his advisor. The sorcerer accepted, and Gwythyr’s court flourished. In the words of Meška Beareval, “Poets, musicians, artists of all kind – they all flourished, producing some of the most beautiful art that has ever been seen. Gwythyr was, and still is, a hopeless ambition for any king following in his footsteps.”
Under Gwythyr’s rule, Caerlean continued to grow. Oštrogóra, Golvàgóra, Listvóda and the exiled leader of Krílovoće had all pledged allegiance to Gwythyr and fought under his banner in 76. Later, when peace was won, Gwythyr went on to conquer Pticák, Pépelsux and Rijeka. Finally, his command of the entire south was completed in 90, when he invaded and conquered the troublesome boot-end of Solmorje. This was achieved through the creation of the first Caerlean navy. Gwythyr took inspiration from the Marčovȉkian warships, designing bigger, stronger and faster vessels that could patrol and protect his vast coastlines.
To aid him in these military ventures, Myrddin asked his fairy kin to forge the king the finest sword imaginable. Aostàilinn, or ‘fairy-steel’, was the result. As an added protection, Myrddin weaved his own spell upon the blade, so that it would protect its bearer against all injury. Only a king who deserved such a weapon would be able to wield it. Gwythyr’s heir, Auwode, although still a mighty king, was not so tolerant of sorcery; in particular, he mistrusted Myrddin’s influence over his father. The blade was therefore hidden at Gwythyr’s instruction just before his death, and has only recently been discovered by Princess Breksta Vasilisa of Brythonia.
Gwythyr’s eldest daughter, Wulfenn, married her cousin Widwulf, Lord of Tupgóra, and his youngest, Aowulf, married Stovoće, Lord of Krílovoće, thus strengthening the ties between these lands. His middle daughter, Wulfua, became a devotee of the Mother Goddess and was much admired for her piety.
Auwode: 'golden woods'
The eldest and sole surviving son of Gwythyr. Auwode was brought up with his youngest sister, Aowulf; unusually for the time, they received the same education, with the fiercely-competitive princess regularly trouncing her brother in their lessons. Auwode first led troops into battle when he was nineteen years old, with his eldest son, Fȳrwulf, born the following year. In his first year of rule, he had to defend his succession against his cousin, Eawulf, at the Battle of Uffeld.
Eawulf’s claim to the throne lay in him being the son of Gwythyr’s elder brother, Widwulf. Even as Auwode was being crowned, Eawulf was hurrying north to the last bastion of Marčovȉk rule, the county of Zmìja. Swift at spotting their chance of destabilising the throne, the Marčovȉkians declared for Eawulf. A fleet was raised, sailing down the eastern coast of Caerlean and landing at Aeom, Sučovȉk. Although their army was of significant size and power, thanks to the poor discipline of the Marčovȉkians and Eawulf’s own ineffectual command, they did little more than loot and ravage the town, failing to advance any further. A storm then wrecked their ships in harbour, leaving them sitting ducks.
Auwode swept down with a mighty army, and the victory was an easy one for the new king. He had given special instruction that Eawulf was to be taken alive and not harmed in any way; however, the wulfling apparently threw himself into the thickest part of battle and was killed almost immediately. Auwode had an especial hatred for the Marčovȉkians after this, as he believed they had encouraged and taken advantage of his easily-led cousin.
In the year 108, Auwode’s army, combined with that of Widwulf of Tupgóra’s (his cousin and brother-in-law), defeated another Marčovȉkian attack on the city of Rhuddau, South Cr̀vepísek. Widwulf died the following year, but his widow Wulfenn (Auwode’s sister) became Lady of Tupgóra in her own right. Auwode and Wulfenn took advantage of their combined strength already in the area, conquering North and South Cr̀vepísek in 110.
After Wulfenn’s death in 116, Auwode imposed direct rule on Tupgóra. Four years later, he conquered Prachpût, leaving only the cold, indomitable wastes of the north outside of Caerlean rule. The few Marčovȉkians who had remained in Zmìja had by now spread out into Chłodny and eastern Viude, their blood intermingling with the native Niflheim people of the North.
With the strengthening of castles along Auwode’s northern border in the year 121, there was an acknowledgement from the northern leaders that he was ‘overlord' of the majority of the land. Auwode was not able to claim kingship over Zmìja, Chłodny and Viude, and although relations were in general civil, both sides took care to avoid any suggestion of submission. Instead, a succession of generally short-lived and chaotic rulers governed the far-north, with Auwode consolidating his holdings in the rest of the country.
Auwode was married three times and had thirteen children. His first marriage to Eufenn had been arranged by his father, Gwythyr, and was not particularly harmonious, although it did produce a son and a daughter. Auwode actually refused to have Eufenn crowned as his queen when he succeeded to the throne in 97; a year later, he put her aside to marry again, this time a bride of his own choosing.
His second wife was Aofenn, a noblewoman from Zelénpese. The king was ten years older than his bride and apparently besotted with her. In fact, his love was so strong, he was willing to officially recognise their son Aowode as his heir, despite having a son from his previous marriage. Songs and ballads were distributed around the land, contrasting the nobility of this younger son with the inferior blood of his firstborn. Unfortunately, different versions also began to spring up, describing the queen as a cunning temptress and the king a bewitched and befuddled old man. Given the apparent beauty and quick temper of Queen Aofenn, there may well be some truth in this.
Nearly two decades later, Auwode began to tire of now not-so-young wife. Aofenn was therefore ‘persuaded’ by the king’s advisors to retire to a temple in Luttoh, in the far south east of the country, so that he could marry again. The king was now forty-five, his new queen, Wodua, twenty; nevertheless, he still managed to sire two more sons and a daughter before dying six years later.
Aowode: ‘elf of the woods’
Second-born son of Auwode and the chosen heir of his father. His elder half-brother was Fȳrwulf, later Fȳrwulf II.
Due to his mother being of noble blood in comparison to his father’s first wife, the succession of Aowode instead of Fȳrwulf was agreed upon by nearly all the lords and aorls of the land. However, Aowode died a mere sixteen days after his father following a violent flux of the stomach. There was one other son from this favoured second marriage, Uaheorte, but he was feeble-minded and prone to seizures. All of the scheming of Aowode and Uaheorte’s mother came to nought as her step-son, Fȳrwulf, became king.
Eldest son of Auwode. He was not loved by his father and had been disinherited from the throne. After his younger half-brother, Aowode, died and there were no other suitable candidates, the lords had no choice but to welcome Fȳrwulf back (Uaheorte, the only other son from Auwode’s second marriage was a simpleton; Bladwulf and Auwid, the sons from his third marriage, only four years and one year old).
Fȳrwulf never forgot the treachery of his lords and aorls, and his fifteen-year reign was marked by infighting as he played one off against another. These power struggles meant there was no continuation of Caerlean expansion as practiced by his father and grandfather. The most the country could do was defend itself against renewed Marčovȉkian raids, this time from both overseas and the far-north of the country.
While the lords of the land squabbled amongst themselves, Fȳrwulf used the opportunity to centralise and economise on government. He established the city of Porthynys, along with its already-ancient castle, as his main seat of power; he also began summoning important figures from distant areas to hear their thoughts and grievances. This last measure made the important point that Fȳrwulf was king and it was his subjects duty to travel to him. It also had the benefit that if they did have any grievances, being away from their homeland tended to subdue any hasty emotions. Fȳrwulf could therefore impress, intimidate or flatter as he so wished.
Seven half-sisters and one full sister also offered him the chance to strengthen ties within the country. Three half-sisters were married to various kings and lords of Nočovȉk (as the largest counties in the land, Nočovȉk and Sučovȉk’s rulers still retained the title of ‘king’ as a courtesy), another to a lord of Listvóda, and his full sister, Aulutt, was wedded to Dìleasgard, a Marčovȉkian warrior with a disfigurement across one side of his face and a terrifying reputation to boot. Aulutt was four years older than her groom, and as her father had never shown much interest in finding her a match, she was not expected to marry. This odd couple, however, became devoted to one another, producing a tribe of five sons and five daughters. With no children of his own – or indeed, wife – King Fȳrwulf was keen to stand as guardian for all of these children; it was perhaps natural that he should prefer his full-blood kin to those of his father’s second and third marriages.
Bladwulf I the Warlike: ‘wolf blade’
The first-born son of Auwode and his third wife, Wodua. Bladwulf ascended to the throne after the death of Fȳrwulf II, his childless half-brother. His reign was one of constant warfare, mainly focused upon the unsuccessful conquest of Viude.
Almost as soon as Bladwulf was crowned, his stated desire was to follow in the footsteps of Auwode and Gwythyr, and conquer new lands for himself. He settled upon the north-western peninsula that was Viude, igniting a series of skirmishes that concluded with the Battle of Igweġ in 143. Fuar, King of Viude, was the victor, and Bladwulf was sent home in ignominious defeat. However, he did not even reach this destination, when a vengeful Fuar sent a secret party of mercenaries to intercept the king at Ommoor, North Cr̀vepísek. Bladwulf and his men were surrounded and butchered, their bodies cut to pieces and thrown in the nearby River Chynogod. Only the crown of Bladwulf was kept, sent back to the capital as proof of his ultimate defeat.
As his two sons, Iwwulf and Aewulf, were only six and three respectively, the throne passed to Bladwulf’s younger brother, Auwid.
Auwid: ‘wealth in knowledge’
The second son of Auwode’s third marriage, Auwid had the unenviable task of reuniting his troubled country and placating the still-suspicious king of Viude. Luckily, he was a much quieter and calmer man than his brother, and amiable relations were fostered between the northern lands and the rest of Caerlean during his nine-year rule. Auwid followed the example of his father, strengthening his existing watchtowers and building new ones along the northern edge of his kingdom.
Auwid was not a well man for most of his short life, and when it became obvious he was dying, he took steps to secure the safety of his nephew and successor, Iwwulf. He arranged a marriage to the granddaughter of King Fuar of Viude, a fourteen-year old girl called Wulfua, in the hope of conquering that troublesome land by more peaceful methods than war. Lady Wulfua, along with her mother, was equally keen on the match, seeing it as a way of escaping the cold north and becoming queen of a much-richer land. The instant the match was proposed, mother-and-daughter raced down to the capital and set about dazzling the fading Auwid and future king Iwwulf. In this, they were successful, although the rest of court were unimpressed by their aloof manners. This hostility, brewed in the dying days of Auwid’s reign, boiled over in the next.
Iwwulf All-Fair: ‘the fighting wolf’
The eldest son of Bladwulf the Warlike, Iwwulf inherited his father’s short temper and, unfortunately, his lack of judgement. His short reign was notorious from its very beginning.
The crowning of Iwwulf had passed free of incident, but during the banquet afterwards, it was noted that the fifteen-year old king, his bride-to-be Wulfua (see above) and her mother had all disappeared. A small guard were dispatched to search for their errant king, and they eventually found Wulfua’s mother, calmly sat sewing outside his bedchamber. She was evidently guarding the room, but once she had been forcibly put to one side, the soldiers opened the door and found the young couple frolicking in bed.
The scandal and lack of courtesy Iwwulf had shown to his coronation guests was widely resented. Wulfua and her mother bore the brunt of this anger; they responded by pushing the king into reckless shows of strength against his lords, making laws as he wished and ignoring their advice on purpose. Eventually, in 156 the lords of Tupgóra, Oštrogóra, Golvàgóra and Listvóda signed a declaration calling for Iwwulf's younger brother, Aewulf, to be crowned king instead. The country was effectively split, with Aewulf the recognised ruler in those rebel lands. It is unclear whether Aewulf actually supported this, as he was only fifteen years old at the time.
The country was reunited a year later in 157, when Iwwulf died from unknown causes and Aewulf succeeded to the throne. The unfortunate Queen Wulfua was treated with great kindness by her brother-in-law, receiving estates in Korenina, Slanína and Pravasese. Clearly, she was a woman of not inconsiderable charm.
The moniker ‘All-Fair’ comes from Iwwulf’s graceful good looks. His clear blue eyes, shoulder-length golden hair and wide sloping forehead gave him an angelic appearance that was often at odds with his fiery temperament.
Aewulf the Peaceful: ‘sea-wolf’
The youngest son of Bladwulf I, Aewulf became king at the age of sixteen, following the death of his brother, Iwwulf. Named the ‘sea-wolf’ because of his birthplace – Aewin in Soncepéja – Aewulf was the first Caerlean king born outside the counties of Kwiat or Stromnoha. In comparison to the previous reign, his sixteen-year rule was noted for its stability and splendour, along with the ‘friendly’ conquest of South Viude.
Aewulf was the recipient of two coronations, the first occurring while his brother was technically still sovereign. Following irreconcilable differences with the hot-headed and stubborn King Iwwulf, the lords of Tupgóra, Oštrogóra, Golvàgóra and Listvóda rebelled in 156, declaring Aewulf king. Soldiers from these four counties escorted him to the city of Urmere, Listvóda, and he was crowned within the temple of Olwen that sits beside the River Gnasek. Less than a year later, following Iwwulf’s death, Aewulf was crowned for a second time in the capital, Porthynys, in a ceremony that formed the basis of all future Caerlean coronations.
Created from an amalgam of ancient pagan myths, the new ceremony effectively wedded the king to his land and people. Thanks in part to Iwwulf’s disrespect and utter unfitness to rule, a greater devotion to the deities of the land was incorporated, as well as a military show of worthiness. Details of the coronation ceremony can be found here.
Aewulf proved to be a hugely popular king. He was of a ruddier complexion than his fair brother, his blond hair darkened with shades of auburn, and bright blue eyes that could switch between amusement and anger in seconds. His easy charm hid a subtle intelligence, as well as a volatility that often as not blew over as soon as it appeared.
Like his brother, Aewulf had a lusty appetite when it came to women, and perhaps the most famous story of his reign concerns his two, very different, wives.
Aewulf and his first wife, Wulfenn, had been childhood sweethearts, growing up together in Soncepéja. In the year before the ill-fated King Iwwulf died, the north-east of Caerlean was plunged into a state of agitation and revolt, predominantly in those four rebel counties that would soon crown Aewulf as king. Fearful of what their future might hold and despairing of being separated, Aewulf and Wulfenn married, both aged just fifteen and without their families knowledge.
Their fears were proved correct when Aewulf was courteously yet forcibly taken to Listvóda and crowned king in direct opposition to his brother. Despite their pleas not to be separated, Wulfenn was left in the capital, Porthynys, and it was not until the following year that the two were reunited. When Aewulf, now king of all Caerlean, rode into the capital at the head of a triumphant procession, his first act was to rescue his wife from the small, damp tower she had been locked up in by Iwwulf.
An official wedding ceremony came the day after Aewulf’s coronation, followed by Wulfenn’s own coronation as queen. Not long after this, an even happier event was announced – a royal pregnancy, the first in sixteen years.
However, this contentment was short-lived. Wulfenn was never strong thanks to the privations of her captivity, and after her baby was born, she faded fast. Despite the devotions of her husband, she died two months later, leaving a grief-stricken Aewulf and a sickly son named Auwode.
For the next three years after Wulfenn’s death, Aewulf devoted himself to a life of licentiousness. Although never falling into the realms of cruelty for cruelty’s sake, his nature hardened and he developed a ruthlessness when it came to getting what he wanted. This was perhaps best shown in the case of Luttwulf.
Luttwulf was a Maiden of Avilion whom the king first met during a pilgrimage to that sacred spot. Perhaps seeing some resemblance to his dead queen, he developed a violent passion for the dark-haired young woman, carrying her away and forcing her to become his mistress. The religious implications of this act were huge; the violating of a Maiden is considered sacrilegious, risking the wrath of the Earth Mother (as Maidens are under the protection of the Lady, and by extension, Máthair herself).
Despite her situation, Luttwulf displayed extraordinary strength of character. Although never acknowledging herself as the king’s mistress, she conversed with Aewulf, attempting to show him the error of his ways. The relationship between the pair grew, from captor and captive to a strange mix of lover and friend. Luttwulf was able to rein in some of the king’s more debauched desires, and he began to take notice of his sadly-neglected son, Auwode.
A year into their affair, Luttwulf fell pregnant, bearing the king a daughter named Aulutt; by the time she was born, however, the attraction Aewulf felt for Luttwulf had cooled, his attention caught elsewhere. His illegitimate daughter was acknowledged as the king’s blood, affording her the title Lady Aulutt Halfwulf, and Aewulf went so far as to found a temple to the moon goddess Arianda in the city of Eoburh, Sučovȉk. Luttwulf was granted the title of Chief Maiden, and mother and daughter were allowed to retire here, with the king making regular visits. Lady Aulutt eventually took over the mantle of Chief Maiden when her mother died in the year 180, becoming one of the most admired women of her age, noted for her piety and kind nature.
Meanwhile, Aewulf had been possessed of another, far darker fascination. News had reached his ears of a woman from the north-west – a daughter of the Lord of Pticák. She was reputed to be the most beautiful woman in Caerlean, as well as rich in her own right, the sole heiress to her wealthy father. Aewulf set his heart on marrying this lady, and he therefore sent Sir Oisín, his oldest friend and most trusted knight, to make an offer for her hand.
When Sir Oisín arrived at Aobridd Castle in Pticák, his train loaded with gold, silks and other gifts designed to impress, he came expecting a warm welcome. The young knight was therefore troubled to discover that the Lord of Pticák had the reputation of a dragon, greedy and jealous of his wealth, steadfast in his determination not to lose a penny. Even worse, his most precious treasure was the very thing Sir Oisín had come to steal away – his daughter, Aowulf.
It took great skill, along with cajolery and even threats, on Oisín’s part before the lord would begin to consider handing over his daughter. After a month of discussions, he grudgingly agreed to the match, squeezing out a hefty promise of payment from the crown in exchange. A relieved Oisín was finally allowed to meet the lady in question, and that was when the trouble began.
Aowulf was indeed one of the most beautiful women of her age, or any age. Her hair put the sun to shame; her eyes were as clear as a mountain stream, pale blue and remarkably pellucid. When she turned her attention on a person, it was as though she were seeing their deepest thoughts and desires. Her smile offered the promise of such desires, shy and yet expressive.
Her manners were queenly; the strength of spirit in her glance was enough to drive men to their knees, and that was exactly what happened with Sir Oisín. The unfortunate knight fell in love with Lady Aowulf, choosing to forget entirely his duty to the king. If Aewulf could not come in person to woo such a woman, then he did not deserve to marry her! So it was that Oisín stole Aowulf from her father’s castle, the two of them disappearing into the night.
Here, history is divided. Supporters of Aowulf would later swear that she had been abducted and forced to surrender to Sir Oisín. Her opponents claimed the opposite, that she had seduced the handsome young man and persuaded him to rescue her from the jealous captivity her father had kept her in for so long. Either way, the conclusion was the same.
When news of their elopement reached the king, he was understandably enraged. Immediately, a scouring of the land was ordered, but it was Aowulf herself who abandoned Oisín, claiming sanctuary in a temple of Llew on the Pticák/Rijeka border. She was brought before the king’s men and chose to give them information on Oisín’s whereabouts. They were therefore able to capture the errant knight, and both Aowulf and Oisín were escorted back to the capital to face justice.
Once again, Aowulf’s beauty and charm worked in her favour. She was able to convince the king that she had been taken against her will –indeed, had she not proven this by her escape? Throwing herself to her knees before King Aewulf and pressing her lips to his boots, she swore she was just as much the injured party as he and that she would do anything to redeem herself. A coy flick of her powder-blue eyes was enough to stir again the lustful nature of the king, and he immediately demanded she marry him.
In a final gruesome twist to the tale, Sir Oisín’s head was offered to the new queen as a wedding present from her husband. It was said that at this point she finally understood the dangerous nature of the king’s personality, and she took great care never to be suspected of any form of treachery, at least not in Aewulf’s lifetime.
Romance aside, Aewulf’s boundless energy was also spent on expansion of his realm. The now-aged and rapidly failing Fuar, king of Viude, had only a young nephew as his successor, whilst Aewulf had a son and every chance of more heirs, being in his early twenties and newly married. He also had in his keeping Fuar’s grand-daughter, his sister-in-law Dowager Queen Wulfua, and she proved a useful emissary in keeping open channels of friendly communication between the two kings. As King Fuar lay on his deathbed, Aewulf proposed that he take control of South Viude, in exchange for the promise of support for Fuar’s nephew in East and West Viude. Although this would leave his nephew as little more than a puppet-king, Fuar had no choice but to agree. In this manner, Aewulf succeeded where his father had failed, adding South Viude to the kingdom of Caerlean and establishing dominion over the entire north-west peninsula.
Aewulf died suddenly and unexpectedly, aged thirty-two. He left three legitimate sons, the eldest of which, Auwode, was fifteen years old.
Auwode the Unfortunate:
King of Caerlean from 173 to 176, Auwode's reign is most well-known for its ending – that of his murder.
In his three years as king, little happened in the country. No further conquest occurred, and the only cause of concern was a noticeable increase in Marčovȉkian raids from the north. Of these, Auwode took little notice, except as an opportunity to rant at his lords and then break down in floods of tears. It was often commented on at the time that the king was weak-minded, his comprehension no better than a child – hence why he suffered from these child-like rages. It could be argued that growing up without a mother, and with a distant father whom he had worshipped with near-divine devotion, Auwode never fully matured.
Auwode was murdered on route as he travelled to visit his step-mother, Dowager Queen Aowulf, at her castle in Uatûn, Oštrogóra. She was strongly suspected of involvement; however, no-one was ever brought to justice, thanks in part to how quickly she had her own son crowned as king.
Auwode was buried in Oštrogóra, the site now long vanished. This unlucky boy-king – born out of death and largely ignored by his father – was fated to be as forgotten in death as he was in life.
Widwulf the Unwise:
Ascending the throne following the murder of his elder half-brother, the thirteen-year old Widwulf probably had nothing to do with Auwode’s death. The first ten years of his reign were relatively peaceful, although not without personal heartache. His younger brother, Bladwulf, succumbed to a childhood fever aged ten; less than three years later Widwulf’s own twin sons, Fȳrwulf Wulfling and Eublad Wulfling, were stillborn.
Born prematurely, the Wulflings’ deaths were perhaps to be expected – their mother, Queen Wulfua, being only fourteen years old at the time.
Thanks in no small part to the murderous circumstances that had led to him becoming king, Widwulf already harboured a naturally suspicious temperament. Although only seventeen himself at the time of his sons’ deaths, his manner became even more abrupt and reserved, choosing only to trust in his mother and her small band of advisors.
This halo of tragedy and ill-fortune was destined to hang over Widwulf for most of his life. Quiet rumours began to bloom within court, warning that the fate of the first children of the king would surely accompany the rest, with no healthy blood coming from such a tainted tree.
After a space of a few years, however, a flurry of sons were born to Widwulf and Wulfua, followed by three daughters. Wulfua died following complications with her final daughter, Iwawulf, and the king remarried the following year.
His second wife, Gwelcraw of Oštrogóra, had a much stronger personality than the first, and she took an active interest in the politics of court and country immediately. This annoyed Widwulf’s mother immensely, as the Dowager Queen Aowulf considered herself the first lady of court, but it seems a sixteen-year old Gwelcraw was able to wrap the thirty-one-year old king around her finger with ease. Aowulf was gradually pushed out, retiring to her father’s old castle in Aobridd as she neared her sixtieth year.
From the year 188, Marčovȉkian raids along the south-eastern coastline were a constant threat. Their attacks grew bolder, beginning to creep steadily inland along the River Kerenjedhek; slowly, more and more of Sučovȉk fell into Marčovȉk hands. Feeling as if they had been abandoned (which, to a certain extent, they had been), the local folk began to assimilate with the invaders, their customs blending and their people inter-marrying. When Widwulf was finally roused enough to meet the challenge in 201, he met a mixed army of Marčovȉk and Sučovȉk at the Battle of Eubraid.
It was a narrow victory for the king, one that left a lot of bad feeling amongst the people of Sučovȉk. To make matters worse, Widwulf then orchestrated a devastating wave of violence throughout the county, ordering the death of every Marčovȉkian as well as anyone suspected of consorting with them. Village turned against village, neighbour against neighbour in the rush to prove their innocence, while the Marčovȉkians themselves either fled back home overseas or went to ground.
Meanwhile, the scattering of Marčovȉkians that still remained in the north of the country began to gather. These were an even more terrifying foe, carrying in their blood a mixture of the cunning Marčovȉk and ruthless Niflheim people of the North, or the ‘frostmen’ as they were known. Communications were somehow passed between these different factions, with all sides marching to join together at the Battle of Dru-Heorte, in Korenina in 211.
Facing attack from both the North and South Marčovȉkians, Widwulf’s armies were obliterated. The king and his family were forced to flee along the Great Itchen River, all the way to the county of Solmorje, while Óige, leader of the Marčovȉkian armies, took the throne.
Just as the country was adjusting to this new state of affairs, Óige died. The lords of the land, who had only just sworn loyalty to the Marčovȉkian king, hastily invited Widwulf back. The bitter and now-weary king was re-crowned at the age of forty-nine, only to die two years later, just as Óige’s son, Snaid, issued his own claim to the throne.
Probably Widwulf was relieved to give up the struggle. His ill-fortune was carried down the bloodline, with the male line completely extinguished within three generations.
Bladwulf the Cruel:
Eldest surviving son of Widwulf the Unwise, Bladwulf was king for just one month. During that time, the new leader of the Marčovȉkians, Snaid, mounted a fresh wave of attacks upon the southern counties of Caerlean.
While Bladwulf was distracted with these threats, a small band of cut-throat Marčovȉkian soldiers crept in from the east, through Krílovoće, Listvóda and Oštrogóra, before slipping into Stromnoha and the capital city itself. They passed through the chaotic streets of the capital, breached the towers and guardhouses, and violently put to death the king as he departed a temple dedicated to Morríghan, Goddess of War, Death and Fate. Snaid was evidently behind this, as his personal guard of soldiers escorted him into Porthynys Castle within two days of the king’s murder.
Bladwulf’s epithet ‘Cruel’ came about after he killed two Marčovȉkian brothers, Liseofon and Tw-Frae, and then married Liseofon’s widow, Augyva. However, it was by all accounts a happy marriage, producing two sons, Auwode (who later became known as ‘the Exile’) and Bladwulf. Just before their father was killed, he had sent Augyva and their sons to the city of Drūgarij on the Rijekan coast.
Auwode and the younger Bladwulf experienced constant upheaval throughout their lives, never daring to stay too long in any one place, with Auwode’s own family eventually claiming sanctuary in the northern reaches of Chłodny. Their tale is linked to that of the Fourth House – the Forest Kings.
Detailed family tree
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