Pathfinder in Bronn
History of the Valelands
Before the Warrior Emperor rose to defeat the Dragonlords, the Shady Vales were a loosely connected collection of farming communities with little interaction with each other. Fell Keep housed the only source of military force in the Vales, and they concerned themselves primarily with keeping Northmen Raiders out of their lands. The natural defenses of the Vales helped keep out attackers, so the people prospered by farming and foresting in relative safety. When the war started, and the Dragonlord had just suffered it’s first defeat at the Battle of Deeping Downs, he called for support from his allies in Harth, who planned on sending support through the Vales to help with the war effort. Fearing what this may bring to the communities of the Vales, a man named Roland Long called a council with several members of the nobility from all of the Vales. He convinced them to support the Empire’s efforts and to raise an army to fight against the Harthan forces that would pass through the Vales. The Dragonlords had fully expected there to be no resistance from the Valemen, and were counting on the reinforcements to be able to flank the Imperialist forces.
Under the leadership of Long, who used the terrain to his great advantage, the Valemen were able to fight the Harthans to a halt, forcing the invaders to fight protracted and frustrating battles to advance towards the Heartlands. When the Warrior Emperor finally took the capital, after the Great Wizard’s Battle, the Harthan forces had been fighting in the Vale for three months, and had nearly reached the Northern tip of the Crimson Mountains. Once the Dragonlord fell, the Harthans simply picked up and headed home.
As part of the Agreement with the Empire, the Shady Vales would receive military support and would be part of the Empire itself. Roland Long was given Earldom of the Vales by the Empire, an assignment celebrated by the Valemen as a gesture of trust and respect to the people of the area.
The area would remain mostly autonomous, but would be expected to follow the laws of the Empire and pay yearly taxes.
New nobility migrated from the Heartlands, looking to establish new trade and grow the economy ofthe area. In the years after the Great War, a population boom nearly doubled the amount of people in the area, mostly in the Southern urban locales. This put a strain on the primitive infrastructure in the area, which soon found new roads and buildings being built. Longford Castle was built during this time, to be used by the Empire as a base of operations in the Vale. With more money being sunk into the area, more imperial presence was diverted there as well, which meant more people. Soon the economy collapsed due to a lack of production and many people lost their fortunes when projects were canceled when they proved to be too costly. Those new Vale Nobility who couldn’t afford to relocate back to the Heartlands found themselves working the land alongside those they had previously employed.
The Empire itself, not seeing the Vales as a viable place to invest it’s taxed, post-war resources, pulled a lot of the funding from the area. Longford Castle was nearly emptied as the Roland Long, Earl of Longford was forced to dismiss those he had hired to help him with the duties of the Earldom. The Maiden’s Way road was left unfinished in parts, and fell to disrepair over the years.
Since then, the Vales has pretty much gone back to the old ways or small, community minded production, although with the added benefit of larger urban hubs which help fuel the economy and exporting of the land’s goods. Whereas being part of the Empire has had it’s benefits, there are still a great number of Valemen who think that they were on the wrong side in the Great War (or that they should have stayed out of it altogether).
Now, Theod Long, direct descendent of Roland Long, sits as the Earl of Longford, and has for 28 years, He is a man of 65 years, and is expected to concede his seat to his son, Ashen Long, within the next few years. This is troublesome to many Valemen, as his wife, Lady Rellise, is a deep Southern Heartlander and fanatic about her devotion to the Empire and insistence on gratuitous tribute , a trait which was tolerated by Theod but embraced by Ashen.