Heralds of the High King

Overview

The Heralds of the High King were formed out of the destruction of the High Kingdom of the Moonshae Isles from the remnants of its most loyal soldiers and advisers. The Heralds are a secret organisation of spies, diplomats, sages, and warriors, each of whom are dedicated to destroying the enemies of the ffolk and seeing the High Kingdom of the Moonshae Isles restored.

History

The Heralds of the High King were officially founded in secret in 944 DR in what is commonly known as the Year of Chaos in the Kingdom of Callidyrr.

That year began with High King Tanner I preparing for a great campaign against the firbolg of Gwynneth that were rampaging across the island and attacking the Kingdom of Corwell. The campaign began in early Ches, with over 5,000 troops from Callidyrr making the journey to Cantrev Kingsbay, and by Tarsakh the armies of the High King had routed the firbolg from Corwell and was marching on the Cambrent Gap to end the firbolg menace for a century.

The campaign ended in disaster when hidden firbolg tribes collapsed the Cambrent Gap behind the High King and his troops. Waves of firbolg attacked the columns of marching soldiers and separated them from each other. Finally the High King was lured into a trap by the firbolg leader and he was lost along with the Sword of Cymrych Hugh.

Fewer than 800 soldiers from Callidyrr escaped the Myrloch Vale to return home. With the High King dead and without an heir apparent, the claimants to the throne quickly turned on one another leaving scores more soldiers and nobles dead in their petty battles and intrigues to claim the throne. Caer Callidyrr became a shadowy warzone, with assassins and thieves stalking the shadows and eliminating rival claimants for their masters. The servants all but abandoned the castle and took as much of its treasure as they could lay their hands on.

While chaos was engulfing the nobility of Callidyrr, the norl islands were united behind their own ruler; Konungr Torgred Helmuddson, who took advantage of the weakness of the ffolk kingdoms and gathered together every ship and soldier he could muster in a sheltered bay on the Isle of Oman known as Lillemaron. He invited the kings of the ffolk to bear witness to his strength (which they accepted and were suitably cowed with fear), before forcing them to accept norl sovereignty over the islands of Norland, Norheim, Oman, and the north of Alaron.

When the bastard son of High King Tanner; Niall Carrathal, finally claimed the throne, he found the other kings of the ffolk unwilling to swear allegiance to him, and without the money or manpower to enforce his claim as High King, King Niall declared himself King of Callidyrr only and the High Kingdom was no more.

The veterans of the war of 944 DR were vilified by King of Callidyrr, making them scapegoats for the disaster that befell High King Tanner and the fall of the High Kingdom. These noble sons, soldiers, and courtiers were unwelcome in Callidyrr and even in the halls of their own kin, so they fled; with whatever resources they could gather, to the far corners of the Moonshae Isles.

Over the following decades they met up with former servants and advisers to the High King who had left the chaos of 944 DR behind them, and they formed a secret organisation known as the Heralds of the High King, dedicated to preserving the memory of it for when a future worthy should arise to claim it, and to defending the ffolk against evil. They have been subtly steered in this endeavour by Flamsterd; the former High Hierophant.

Organisation

Headquarters: Caer Allisynn, Moonshae Isles

Members: 100+

Hierarchy: Strict

Leader: Most members believe they serve the Alder, who direct the activities of the Rydder through their heralds. The Alder however, spend much of their time at Caer Allisynn, conversing with the ghostly remnants of High Queen Allisynn Hugh who is the true leader of the Heralds of the High King.

Religion: Any

Secrecy: Medium. The Heralds of the High King were created in secret and operate in secret, only revealing their true allegiance to those they wish to recruit. The Heralds do not rely on this secrecy to maintain their existence, they have no true enemies, and no one is hunting them, however, it has proven more useful to manipulate people in secret to find the next High King and restored the High Kingdom of the Moonshae Isles.

Symbol: A great bear with arms open wide (the bear was once the symbol of the High Kingdom of the Moonshae Isles.

The founders of the Heralds were former soldiers and advisers to High King Tanner, so the organisation of the Heralds evolved in the style of the military and royal courts.

The true leader of the Heralds is High Queen Allisynn Hugh, she serves as an adviser to the Alder, but that advice has thus far never been ignored. There are currently 4 Alder (one for each kingdom of the ffolk), they command the services of a number of Heralds (there are about 20 Heralds spread unevenly across each of the ffolk kingdoms), lastly the Heralds pass on orders and gather information from the 50 or more Rydder (knights – but more commonly known as Dragons) who act as the agents of the organisation.

Promotion within the organisation is based upon merit, length of service, and skills. Those who perform great deeds in service to the Heralds, and have the necessary skills of diplomacy and organisation are likely to be promoted to the rank of Herald. 

Dogma / Motivation / Goals

Should anyone discover that members are affiliated with the Heralds, then the heralds (the rank) use the similarities between the name of this organisation and another similar organisation on mainland Faerun (known as the Heralds), to convince the discoverers that they are cataloguing the heraldry and lineages of nobility in the ffolk kingdoms.

In secret the Heralds of the High King are the guardians of the legacies of the High Kingdom of the Moonshae Isles. They have diligently scoured the islands for the whereabouts of the royal regalia of the Hugh Dynasty and other items of importance, and the Rydder have repeatedly secured them in the vaults beneath Caer Allisynn.

The Heralds are also always on the lookout for potential, worthy individuals that they deem capable of re-establishing the High Kingdom and leading it into a millennium of peace and prosperity. The Heralds find these individuals and the Rydder watch them to determine their potential. Those that pass these assessments often find themselves directed towards a series of escalating quests, with items of importance conveniently placed at the destination of these quests. Thus far no individuals have survived enough quests to gather all the royal regalia of the Hugh Dynasty, but the Heralds are ever hopeful.

Lastly, the Heralds of the High King are on the lookout for any evils that may threaten the kingdoms of the ffolk and thus the potential future of the High Kingdom. These activities are largely directed by the Alder, on the advice of High Queen Allisynn Hugh, thus far the High Queen has deemed it necessary to keep from her Alders that she feels the presence of Kazgoroth growing stronger every decade.

Membership / Recruiting

The majority of the membership of the Heralds of the High King comes from the sons (and daughters) of existing or past members. Typically the parents will attempt to induct their children into the organisation when they come of age.

More recently, as the membership of the Heralds has begun to dwindle (secretly targeted by Kazgoroth and his unwitting allies), they have begun to recruit worthy members from among the ffolk and in some cases even the norl, to become Rydder.

Those who are invited to join the Heralds of the High King must undergo stringent tests of their skills and their character. Those who prove lacking in skills are invited to return when they are better warriors, spies, and diplomats, while those who prove greedy, ambitious, selfish, or cruel, often find themselves refused membership permanently.

Allies

The Heralds of the High King have contacts among every royal court of the ffolk, most of whom hold influential positions as court sages or royal advisers, with a number of others in the court of powerful nobles as well. The Rydder are often noble Lairds (and their sons), able to draw upon the wealth and power of their position when needed.

When needed the Heralds of the High King can call upon the allies and resources of their members to aid in whatever task needs accomplishing within the ffolk kingdoms.

Outside of the Heralds organisation, Queen Allisynn and the Alders have allies among the Fidouyr, the Bansidhe, and Greystone Trading (usually in the form of former or current members). The Heralds of the High King use these allied organisations to gather information about events in the Moonshae Isles, in exchange for their own information). In extreme circumstances the Heralds of the High King may call upon certain services (usually the transport of agents for Greystone Trading,  military or magical aid from the Bansidhe or Fidouyr).

Enemies

The Heralds of the High King consider all those that threaten the safety and security of the ffolk kingdoms and the future of the High Kingdom as true enemies. Thus far these enemies have been fleeting and temporary as certain ambitious nobles or kings start to destabilise the peace between Callidyrr, Corwell, Moray, and Snowdown, and the Heralds thwart their plans until they are no longer a problem due to infirmity or death.

The minions of Kazgoroth have the special attention of the Heralds (although individual agents do not necessarily know the allegiances of those they are fighting against or the true purpose of their goals), and High Queen Allisynn has been directing her Rydder against the savage firbolg.

As connections between the Moonshae isles and mainland Faerun grow (centred on Callidyrr at the moment), evil cults and organisations are beginning to extend their interest and influence into the islands. Cults secretly dedicated to the Dark Gods and the Gods of Fury are spreading chaos and fear among the ffolk and the Heralds are working hard in recent decades to combat this threat.

Important NPCs

High Queen Allisynn Hugh (Good, Elf – Sunrise, Expert 6): High Queen Allisynn Hugh is the first High Queen of the ffolk. She was the daughter of Laranlor Kaminas Reredine of Synnoria, and twin sister (although slightly younger) to Herene.

During the War of Moon and Shadow, Allisynn Reredine was secreted away from beleaguered Synnoria to the island of Alaron (in the hope it would not be under attack by Kazgoroth). Allisynn and her druid guardians stumbled into Kazgoroth’s drathak hordes and had to be rescued by King Cymrych Hugh as he led his troops into battle.

Together, Cymrych and Allisynn fought many battles against the minions of Kazgoroth. Allisynn brought Cymrych and his elite warriors to Synnoria to rescue her people and help forge an alliance between the elves and humans.

Ultimately Cymrych and Allisynn were married, and together they led the allied forces of humans, elves, and dwarves  against Kazgoroth and his drathak and firbolg minions.

In the final battle, Queen Allisynn and the Great Bards; wielding the instruments of the Moonlight Dancers, faced Kazgoroth at the White Well. The Great Bards used their instruments to weaken and distract the Devourer, while Cymrych Hugh attempted to pierce his defences with a sword attuned to slay him. Ultimately Queen Allisynn sacrificed herself to force Kazgoroth to expose himself so that Cymrych Hugh could sever his horn and slay him.

Queen Allisynn was dealt a mortal wound, although she fought death for 5 months, long enough to be crowned High Queen in a grand ceremony that signified the founding of the High Kingdom of the Moonshae Isles.

High Queen Allisynn was interred in an ancient elven watchtower atop one of the fabled floating islands that rise and fall in the Sea of Moonshae. This was not the end of the High Queen however, she rose again as some kind of fey spirit tied to the shattered remnants of the harp she bore into battle with the Devourer, half in the Feywild and half in the Material Plane. She can feel the presence of Kazgoroth constantly, and has some insight into his emotions and state of mind (which is almost always all-consuming rage, but in more recent centuries she can sense he has gained a measure of control and direction).

Over the centuries, High Queen Allisynn has been able to feel the power of Kazgoroth growing, but also that it has fragmented into several pieces, each with their own goals and emotions. She is aware that Kazgoroth’s return is imminent, and even directed the Great Druid of the Ring of Gwynneth (Brianna Moonsinger) to attempt to delay his return from the Darkwell – a plan that failed and may even have hastened his return.

High Queen Allisynn spends all her time on Caer Allisynn (unable to leave unless someone moves the pieces of Allisynn’s Harp), she is peaceful, almost serene in nature, quietly awaiting the arrival of a worthy successor to the position of High King.

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