The Sea-Folk & The House of Dogs - Second & Third Houses
The Marčovȉkians (or 'people from the sea') were a race of people hailing from a rocky group of islands across the Mara ó dheas, or Southern Sea. Each island was associated with an individual clan, but inter-island marriages and the harsh existence they had to endure eking a living from the sea led to an uncommonly fierce bond across the people as a whole.
The lives of the Marčovȉkians were centred on the sea, with their ships easily the most advanced of the age. Over the centuries, they evolved from fisher-folk into pirates and eventually skilled and ruthless invaders. They began their harassment of the southern shores of Caerlean as early as the year 46. King Gwythyr succeeded in pushing them back to the furthest reaches of the cold north, and his son Auwode maintained this throughout his reign. Successive monarchs, however, were less successful in holding back their continual attacks, and by the time of Widwulf the Unwise, Marčovȉkian influence had spread throughout the northern counties, as well as along the sizeable coastline of Sučovȉk in the south.
All of these scattered sides came together at the Battle of Dru-Heorte in 211, with even the Niflheim people of the far North acknowledging Óige, a commanding warrior of the Marčovȉkian armies, as their leader.
The victory of Óige saw a new royal house established in Caerlean – the Sea-Folk. They did not care for the previous manner of dating the years; however, subsequent royal houses have re-adopted this method for ease.
The Sea-Folk - Second House
Óige, ruled 211-212
House of Wolves Restored – Widwulf the Unwise r. 212-214 (reclaimed his throne for two years after Óige’s death)
House of Wolves Restored – Bladwulf the Cruel r. 214 (murdered one month after claiming his father's throne)
Snaid, son of Óige r. 214-233
Armwode the Swift r. 233-238
Cruasnaid r. 238-240
Simplified family tree of the Sea-Folk & the House of Dogs
The Invader King. Born only one year later than Widwulf (the king he would go on to dispose), Óige exemplified the Marčovȉk spirit of being an aggressive warrior. He was content to live a nomadic lifestyle, and even after seizing the throne and being crowned king at Porthynys, he did not settle. Instead, Óige embarked on a tour of his new country, setting sail along the River Test and intending to travel north to meet with his clansmen. However, the forty-eight-year old was taken ill at Fēowerij, dying shortly afterwards. Widwulf was hurriedly fetched back from exile in the far south-west of the country and restored to his throne, a position which Óige’s son Snaid immediately began vying for himself.
Óige died in the county of Pticák, the homeland of the deposed Widwulf’s mother, Queen Aowulf. Although that lady had died many decades earlier, Widwulf still commanded considerable support in that land, and it was suspected that his maternal cousins had something to do with Óige’s sudden death. In a final macabre act, Óige’s tongue was found to be missing when he was being prepared for burial. It was rumoured that he had been poisoned, which may have resulted in a blackened or discoloured tongue, hence the disappearance of any evidence.
Óige was twice married, the second time while still married to the first (Marčovȉkian customs being somewhat more eccentric than Caerlean ones). Áillegard was a fellow Marčovȉkian who had accompanied him over the seas, whereas Fȳrwin was a woman Óige captured in East Kwiat early on during the struggles. Both wives accompanied Óige on his voyages, although he only had children by Fȳrwin. Fȳrwin gave birth to two sons, Armwode and Snaid, and six daughters whom Óige married off to various northern Marčovȉkians.
The younger of Óige’s two sons, Snaid was recognised from an early age as being the most capable at leading men – warlike yet sensible, positive traits to a Marčovȉkian. His brother Armwode was happy to remain as little more than a pirate, his methods of attack so violent it worried even Snaid and Óige. Fortunately, Armwode was killed by his own men in the year 205, with no-one much mourning his loss.
Following Óige’s unexpected death in 212, Snaid was caught on the back-foot. At the time, he was commanding his own soldiers along the eastern shores of Krílovoće, intent on crushing the last pockets of resistance. By the time news reached him of his father’s death, Widwulf had been restored, and Snaid narrowly avoided capture by vengeful adherents to the House of Wolves. He fled seawards hastily, unable to do little more than begin a troublesome harrying of the south-eastern coastline.
Over the last two years of Widwulf’s reign, these raids grew in size and strength, and when Widwulf’s son, Bladwulf, succeeded to the throne in 214, Snaid finally struck. Bladwulf was murdered a month after being crowned king, and the resurgent Marčovȉkians swiftly re-seized power.
Snaid was quick to subdue any attempts at revenge, ordering the deaths of Bladwulf’s three full brothers; his two half-brothers, Auwode and Omwulf, were taken into Snaid’s custody, along with their mother, the former queen Gwelcraw. For a time, the fate of the two Wulflings hung in the balance, with many of Snaid’s companions advising him to kill them. A year after his coronation, however, Snaid confounded everyone by announcing he planned to marry Gwelcraw, the widow of Widwulf. Some say that she seduced him in order to save her sons; others claim it was mere politics on Snaid’s part, gaining two royal stepsons and a wife who had considerable experience in Caerlean royal circles.
Like his father, Snaid was already married when this second wedding took place. His first marriage was declared null and void, although he kept his wife, Aoheorte of Pravasese, as his mistress. Gwelcraw was thirty-seven at the time of her second marriage, but she still produced a son and a daughter for the new king.
Snaid’s reign was relatively calm, with the king more focused on strengthening his hold on the realm rather than any further expansion. Unsurprisingly, Marčovȉkians were favoured over native Caerleans, and many marriages were encouraged as a way of integrating the invaders into the noble families. Marčovȉkians had no real religion of their own, so they were happy to re-appropriate the deities and customs of Caerlean, seeing it as a way of forming even closer ties with their new subjects. When Snaid died after nineteen years of rule, many people (especially the young) did not remember a pre-Marčovȉk age.
Armwode: ‘Armed tree’
Eldest son of Snaid from his first marriage, Armwode was nine years old when his mother was set aside in place of the former queen, Gwelcraw of Oštrogóra. His mother was lowered to the position of mistress to the king, and it was this indignity that fostered Armwode’s hatred of his step-mother and the children from her previous marriage – Omwulf Wulfling and the future king, Auwode Wulfling.
When Snaid died, Armwode immediately declared himself the new king, and in case anyone was in any doubt of his intention, he marched into the capital at the head of a thousand-strong army – hence the ‘Swift’ appellation. His coronation took place at the same time as his father’s funeral, with many lords choosing to miss the laying to rest of King Snaid and instead pledge their allegiance to Armwode.
As soon as she heard the news of his crowning, Dowager Queen Gwelcraw sent her two sons, Auwode and Omwulf, to Solmorje; they were at the time thirty-seven and thirty-four respectively. Gwelcraw was aware that her sons could be seen as potential rivals for the throne – being direct descendants of the old royal house – and she was determined to keep them safe. She went as far as to offer her own life as security against her sons’ promised loyalty to Armwode.
Even as he publicly accepted her guarantee, Armwode privately dispatched soldiers to track down and murder his step-brothers. When they could not be found, he imprisoned Gwelcraw and let it be known that she was desperately ill. This strategy partly worked, with the youngest, Omwulf, hastening back to the capital, where he was captured, his eyes put out, and then he was left to die in an underground dungeon. Armwode allegedly forced Gwelcraw to watch the brutal blinding before locking her up once again.
Seeing Gwelcraw so crushed went a good way to calming Armwode’s murderous tendencies, and the final three years of his reign passed without incident. The king toyed with the idea of marrying a daughter of the Lord of West Viude; however, this never came to anything. Armwode died of internal injuries after falling from his horse, when his steed was spooked by a wolfhound bounding between its legs. This was said to be the revenge of Omwulf Wulfling, that unfortunate offspring of wolves.
Cruasnaid: ‘hard knot’
Half-brother to Armwode, Cruasnaid’s first act as king was to liberate his mother, Gwelcraw, and denounce the murder of Omwulf. The criticism came as rather hollow-sounding, thanks to Cruasnaid’s silence when the murder occurred; however, this self-preservation was perhaps not surprising. While he may have hated his stepmother, Armwode’s feelings towards his half-siblings, Cruasnaid and Lady Fȳrwin, were ambivalent, and they were never persecuted in Armwode’s lifetime.
Cruasnaid’s reign was short and unpopular. Although only twenty at the time of his coronation, the king was already a licentious drunk, one who became vicious when in his cups. His numerous drinking sprees would involve bear-baiting, cock-fighting and the molestation of any women unlucky enough to fall into his clutches. It was at one such orgy that the king died, after drinking too much and being struck by a violent spasm. His blood-caked aspect (caused as a result of some internal eruption) was said to haunt Porthynys Castle for nearly a hundred years after his death.
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With the death of Cruasnaid, the male line of the Sea-Folk was extinct. Their end was in complete contrast to how they began, this once-fierce race now no more than a handful of squabbling minor nobles. Marčovȉkian rule, along with the reputation of terror these invaders once brought with them over the seas, passed into folklore, as they were swiftly and silently absorbed into the native Caerlean bloodline. A king had to be found, however, and an offshoot of the House of Wolves was the most popular choice amongst the lords of the land. Auwode, the sole surviving son of Widwulf the Unwise, was well into middle-age by the time he succeeded to the throne, and he had spent most of Cruasnaid’s reign advising and standing in for the king when he was disposed. The restoration of the Wulfling family was so weak, however, with so few male heirs left to it, it was given the derogatory title of the House of Dogs.
The House of Dogs - Third House
Auwode the Blessed, ruled 240 – 264
Armwode II r. 264
Auwode the Blessed:
Sole surviving son of Widwulf the Unwise, Auwode was eighteen-years old when his father died, swiftly followed by his elder half-brother and king for all of a month, Bladwulf. Auwode was in the most southerly county of Solmorje when the news came, along with his full-blood brother Omwulf, and the two Wulflings were immediately brought back to the capital by men of the new king, Snaid.
The nineteen years of Snaid’s rule were relatively trouble-free for Auwode and Omwulf; however, when Snaid’s son, Armwode, became king, the brothers were once again dispatched to Solmorje, under orders of their mother. Auwode remained in this most southerly county for the whole of Armwode’s reign, only daring to return when his half-brother, Cruasnaid, was crowned king in 238. Two years later, Cruasnaid was dead and Auwode was deemed the most suitable candidate for the throne.
This suitability was soon called into judgement, when it became apparent how easily influenced Auwode could be. Unworldly, generous to the point of self-sacrifice and quick to forgive any previous slights, the unmarried king was easy picking for any ambitious family hoping to marry their way to the throne. This proved the case in 244, when the Lord of Ovce, Carawulf, put forward his daughter, Aulutt, as a potential queen. Auwode agreed, and the two were married; the king forty-four-years old, Aulutt twenty at the time. To mark the celebration, Auwode created a new title – ‘Aorl’, the highest rank of nobility, with his new father-in-law receiving the honour first.
Carawulf, now Aorl of Ovce, also had four grown sons, all of whom were given positions of importance within the royal court. This caused great resentment amongst the other lords of the land. Crucially, however, these sons of Ovce did not command any great military presence, something that would prove fatal later on. Instead, a coterie of courtiers, mostly connected to the queen’s family, flattered and pandered to the king’s attention, while in the rest of Caerlean, the ancestral lords seethed and bided their time.
As the years passed, and it became apparent that the aging Auwode would produce no heir, the lords of the land began making alliances amongst themselves, taking stock of each other’s strength and deciding who was the most likely to take the throne. Auwode’s chosen heir was his eldest brother-in-law, Armwode of Ovce, but outside the secluded royal court, the strongest claim came from Aubridd, current lord of Oštrogóra. His grandfather had been a brother to Auwode’s mother, Gwelcraw of Oštrogóra, and so Aubridd was a distant cousin of the king. His wife, Magaleon, was the daughter of the Lord of Krílovoće, her grandmother a daughter of the Lord of Golvàgóra. Counting amongst his support the lords of Listvóda and Nočovȉk, Aubridd therefore had virtually the entire eastern counties of Caerlean at his disposal. Sučovȉk was finally won to his cause in 262 when he promised its ruler the hand of any future daughters for their son and heir.
Auwode died two years later aged sixty-eight, living to a greater age than any previous monarch. His choice of Armwode as successor was apparently still in place, and Armwode did indeed have himself crowned king the day after Auwode’s death.
Auwode was later seen as a good man, but a weak king. Deeply religious, he had been born in the temple of Aine in Caumaoh, Pravasese, and he invested a good deal of time and money in the renovation of the city, sealing its importance for centuries to come.
His final wish to be buried in the temple of Aine was ignored in the immediate aftermath of his death; what with the numerous civil wars and battles for the throne that followed, this homecoming was not realised until over three hundred and fifty years later, when the equally-devout King Angear II ordered his reburial in the temple.
Armwode was the son of Carawulf, Aorl of Ovce, and through his mother, a great-great-nephew of Óige, the Invader King. Along with his three younger brothers, he was held in high esteem by Auwode the Blessed; it was indeed whispered throughout the land that the middle-aged king was in thrall to the younger, more glamourous clan from Ovce.
Ten years after his sister’s marriage to Auwode, their father died. Armwode inherited the title of Aorl of Ovce, and he set about winning the friendship of the neighbouring counties of Kwiat, Soncepéja and Zelénpese. So obvious was it that these overtures of friendship were merely preparation for when the king died, that the outcome was less than enthusiastic.
When Auwode did die, Armwode was ready to be crowned the next day. There was no time for celebrations, however, as news arrived of a huge army led by Aubridd, Lord of Oštrogóra, descending upon the capital from the north-east. The new king met his enemy at the Battle of Celliwic, on the outskirts of Stromnoha.
Armwode offered a strong defence, despite being greatly outnumbered. Aubridd’s army consisted of men from all counties east of the Plečó Mountains (except for independent Zmìja), whilst Armwode could only count on support from his native Ovce, as well a half-hearted response from East and West Kwiat. What no-one (except Aubridd) had been expecting was the sudden appearance of Chłodny troops – the Niflheim. Aubridd had sent secret deputations to these northern folk months before the battle, promising them that their right to self-rule would be upheld and strengthened if he were king, as well as the marriage of his son and heir to their line (this was later switched from Aubridd’s eldest son, Adair, to his youngest, Celliwic).
The effect of the Niflheim was devastating. Fierce, savage fighters, they ripped a silent path across the battlefield. Armwode’s men were wiped out, the king hacked to pieces after he threw himself into the heart of the action.
Armwode never married; however, there are records of at least one illegitimate son – Wulfwode Halfwulf, later known as the Rebel Prince. This rather troubled young man led an eventful life – banished by his father at the age of eighteen for 'excessive and immoderate' behaviour, the Halfwulf took to roaming the land, staying mainly in the south-west of the country. More about his life after his father’s death can be found under Aubridd I’s entry, in the history of the Forest Kings.
Detailed family tree