Little can be said about the northern country of Mütvia without thoughts of creatures that go bump in the night. This is the stuff of legends where dark forests provide haven to all manners of creatures. The truth is that while the forest kingdoms do hide more secrets than are truly known, the real horror comes not from the woodland denizens but the masters that call Mutvia their home. Mutvia was not always filled with these creatures and their harsh princes.
The War that Created 1,000 Princes
In 3223, Stroikas Aken Arduuskjil held lands that comprised Mutvia’s eastern border with the Slindari Kingdom and extended west to the Gergi River, evenly dividing what the nation is today. Due to encroaching invasions from the Staabrian Hordes to the west, Stroika Drerai Endasoi’s duchy which lied west of the Gergi was weakened as the Hordes cut off trade supplies. Unable to fend off their attackers, Endasoi was forced to claim land directly south of Arduskjil’s reach toward the Cultrekian border, an area known as the Liratei Valley which had established trade routes from Cultrek to the east, in hopes to keep her people fed and supplied until they were able to amass an army to combat the invasion from the west. Historians and tacticians are mystified why Endasoi did not send a missive requesting assistance or even notification to her easterly neighbour, an action that resulted in the annihilation of both noble houses and the loss of 800 years of culture.
The Liratein War
Arduuskjil saw this as a precursor to war. Without warning on the eve of Sorya 28, 12m, 3223 IC, just one week after the first Endasoi settlers came to the valley, three regiments of Arduskjil’s forces surrounded and massacred those within. When news reached Endasoi’s ears, a missive was dispatched to Arduuskjil immediately whose response was to bolster border forces along with Gergi, A second missive was sent, the messenger’s ear returned and the war was started with all the nobles of southern Endasoi issuing a retaliatory strike against the Arduuskjil forces in the Liratein Valley. Knowing Arduuskjil would send forces across the river into northern Endasoi, the Stroika forced an eviction to the south. Notes from the era indicated Endasoi moved south to reinforce the Valley and then north straight to the Arduuskjil Ruling House which now lacked sufficient defenses against such a daring move. Stroikas Arduuskjil’s ears were removed and sent to his forces now well entrenched in the Endasoi lands, his hands sent to the south as a deterrant against further action and his head permanently displayed in the Valley. Endasoi’s victory was short-lived. The Staabrian forces moved east into the now mostly deserted lands of western Endasoi. The Stroika, already keen to Staabrian tactics, pierced the Horde defenses with a frontal assault and divided the the lesser trained barbaric warriors whose tactics were meant more for open land combat, not within the deep forests of Mutvia. While this created a flanking of her own troops, the moves were swift attacks with a burning of their own land as they moved north. Additional troops flanked the Horde in the north from the river while woodland fighters picked off stranglers. Rejoined in the Endasoi capital, the Stroika sent her troops south to remove the remaining Horde threat by using terrain to their advantage.
The Birth of Nightmares
Losses on all sides were significant. The Arduuskjil lands were broken, their troops decimated but their nobles, albeit landless, still existed. Endasoi, through her wildly aggressive tactics, lost 75% of her nobles: 56 of name, 124 minor nobles and 180 in total. The Staabrian forces were decimated and the attacks ceased. Though Endasoi had won the war, she lost her people’s lands. Without sufficient quantities of capable leaders, she went against the advice of her remaining advisors and invited the Arduuskjil nobles to rule their old lands under her reign. They readily agreed but one, Detrius Akenskjil, the son of the fallen king, had remained in disguise as a lesser noble in the meeting that would settle the terms. Endasoi invited them to Androisti, her Ruling House. Unwittingly outnumbered and surrounded, Detrius assassinated Endasoi and officially ended the war. The people of both countries, however, had already in many cases taken up arms and took over many of the old noble houses while they were either at war or elsewhere. Many nobles who returned were simply killed by their peasantry. The holds were kept by the most violent and draconian methods and for 125 years, blood were the rivers that flowed as these “new” nobles held on to their lands by any means. Detrius himself was crucified upside down by the peasants of Endasoi and left to die by the elements of Mutvia.
Today, Mutvia has no central government but instead many principalities of varying sizes. It is said the land itself now protects the people for so much of their blood was spilled it caused the dead to rise once more. To attack someone else would leave your defenses vulnerable to the Voisti, or “land spirits”. This does not prevent all hostilities but it did create a sense of paranoia based in necessity of winning a battle: kill the leader of that land as quickly as possible and the battle is over. This leaves as many people still alive to defend against the nightmare creatures their wars created. No one truly knows the real reason why the undead, lycanthropes and more roam the lands so freely. No one has ever found proof the soil may cause the dead to rise. But it is said Detrius’ body disappeared and he now exists as master vampire somewhere deep in the forests of his old homeland.
Between the lands of Mutvia and Staabri roam the nomadic descendants of both nations, the Drosti. Meanwhile, the majority of Mutvians claim no common heritage as the people have long since forgotten their ancestral lines. An ancient form of blood magic, however, has shown the lines of Endasoi and Arduuskjil still very much alive but in most cases mixed. Armed with this knowledge, some have taken claim of ancient lands in their forebearer’s name and the petty land wars arise once more under newly sewn banners. Of note, however, is that a new magic (aside from the rare blood magic) has cropped up in the most unlikely places. Devoid of somatic, verbal or even material components, it is said some of the inhabitants of Mutvia have the ability to warp reality with their minds alone.