The Ari'ilden Saga
The fifth-largest city in the Reign, Dunmore is a recent arrival to the list of powerful cities, and it’s might derives almost entirely from proximity to the Pale Sea, where the lucrative whaling trade hunts down the massive Iceberg Whales for their oil.
Seated atop a high cliff about fifteen miles south of the mouth of the River Titus at the edge of the Wolfswood, Dunmore was originally a druidic holy site. Conquered during the last years of the Wildborn Wars, it was then converted to a military fort for the duration of the Wars, and then ultimately to the sprawling industrial hub that it remains today.
Prior to its discovery by First-Empire traders, a druidic religious center, known in the Wild-Tongue as Doenmarach (literally, “Cliff-of-the-Gods”), existed on the site of modern-day Dunmore. Excavations beneath the Fort itself have revealed a massive complex of tunnels and caverns, used by the ancient Druids as a temple from which they are believed to have worshipped Rüs, their ocean-goddess. The people who worshipped in the area were called Maechlan — and would become what most Reignics think of as modern-day Druids.
Recent archaeological expeditions have uncovered that sometime prior to the Godswar (likely between SA 100 and 120, roughly 1,200 years ago) a mass-slaughter of some sort took place in the settlement. Whether this was a feud amongst the Maechlan, an execution of some sort, or a sacrifice to Rüs or one of the other Old Gods is unknown.
During the First Empire, it is believed that little changed in the use of the Doenmarach site. Minor discoveries hint that the Shrimp Plague may have originated near the site, as the coastline was a popular location for roving fishermen. Additionally, one record by an unknown author indicates that the site played host to some sort of gathering of Maechlan priests from across Tarras around the year SA 910, shortly before the collapse of the First Empire.
Early Reignic Period
During the early years of the Reign, Doenmarach became a hub for uprooted Druids being slowly pushed north as the armies of the Church, led by the early heirophants, slowly marched further and further up the Continent. As more refugees arrived from the south, a city built up around the temples, and by SA 500 it was the largest population center in the North, dwarfing even Markand, the traditional seat of the King of the Maechlan. Eventually those armies reached the edge of what is now the Northern Hold, and a protracted series of battles, known as the Wildborn Wars, were waged from SA 715 – 730. The wars were documented at the time by the Druidic historian Rackam Marr:
For four thousand years, the men of the North had been free — but no longer. Doenmarach, for centuries a beacon to those who needed reminding of a simpler time and a freer world, had fallen. Her farmers, butchers, innkeepers, and bakers lay crying to spirits on the snow, and her white-and-gold banners beside them. Their ragged remnants flapped in the icy winds, whipping over the lichen-crusted hilltops, their colors stamped onto the crusted boots of the Hierophant marching slowly toward the city. The Hymn of the Lost lifted into the blood-red sky on the horns of a dozen scattered trumpet-men.
A winter wolf howls from behind the lines. And as the sun burns through the grey mists, a beam splashes across a broken war-mask, lying bloody and cracked beside the body of Yasri, son of Ysmach — last free King of the Maechlan.
The Wildborn Wars, SA 732
After the Battle at Doenmarach, the Wildborn forces were broken and they scattered throughout the Northern Hold. The son of the old King was only a small boy, and his mother, Queen Leila of Vlor, sued for peace with the Reign, and the Kingdom of Markand became a territory of the Church, independent of the Heirarchy in name only. After Markand was annexed into the Reign, numerous explorers discovered the Iceberg Whales and the potent incendiary force of the oil contained within their bodies. A Fort had been built on the site of the ancient temple, both as a military outpost and a religious statement, but once the refinement process was understood, it was only a matter of time before Fort Doenmarach, surrounded by trader shanty-towns and tiny wharfs, ceded its military isolation and became Dunmore, Pearl of the North.