Province Volkarna

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Tic

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Volkarna
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General Information
Location:
Northern Empire
Government: Kratocratic Theocracy
Affiliation: None
Population: 250, 000

Description

' Behold yon Volkarna,
Whose blossom hath wilt,
Watered through blood,
And through misery spilt.
Piotyr have mercy,
On the fell sorrows loosed,
Across once-fair Volkarna,
Where devils now roost.'
- Popular Volkarnite Lament


Far from Rhisoka's glittering spires and gilded avenues, northward at the very rim of the empire itself resides a forgotten fiefdom shrouded in mystery. A place only spoken of in whispered rumors and half-forgotten dreams. Those seeking it find themselves beset by sudden fogs, abrupt gails of razorhail or ferocious packs of wolves. Sailors face furious squalls and treacherous shoals when attempting to approach its coast. Even cartographers attempting to put its location to parchment feel a sudden migraine take hold and put the effort aside. For this is how the masters of Volkarna wish it. And in sorrow-drenched Volkarna, their will is law.

Nestled between the boreal forests of the Gloomwoods and the looming crags of the Mor Vuhlshlek mountain range, the valley of Volkarna is a land of brooding woods and cold sullen pastures. Ragged outcroppings of rock and quarry extend from the mountain, while much of the coastline is dominated by sheer, unwelcoming clifface. The province's interior is a grim collection of cowering villages, ruins falling to rot and hinterlands where beastly entities rule unchecked. What rivers and streams run through Volkarna are frigid and unpredictable, borne from the frozen peaks of the Vuhlsleks.

Culture

At a glance, the residents of the Volkarna Valley might appear a fairly homogeneous lot. An air of austerity and hopelessness touches nearly every Volkarnite hobbled under the weight of their shared curse. Despite these similarities, several unique and distinct groups of people actually (begrudgingly) call the valley their home.

Colonisti

The valley's residents huddle in their homes at sundown, regarding outsiders with a mixture of suspicion and fear. An entirely superstitious group, they cling to their old ways and remedies to ward off the ire of the evil eye...or worse. Behind locked doors and barred windows they whisper of the strange and supernatural entities they believe to stalk their land. Wandering spirits seem to touch every facet of their world, phantom shepherds over everything from the forests to the lakes to the very homes of the peasants themselves. Tales of wolves the size of bears and ravens large enough to carry children off into the night haunt every hearth in the land.

The populace is almost universally poor, eking out their meager, threadbare existences in any way they can manage. The majority of them work as craftsmen or simple farmers, crafting the wares used to support the local community. Volkarna's dark lords all but prohibit imports from the outside world.

This enforced isolation taints the population with a natural air of distrust and suspicion. Outsiders are viewed with caution in the best of cases and outward hostility in the worst.

Ratacitori

The Ratacitori are a clan of wanderers, traders, and mystics. They roam between settlements, familiar but distinctly unwelcome, setting stakes outside the walls and peddling wares and services to the superstitious lot who reside within. The Colonisti regard them as scoundrels and pests but often rely on their knowledge of omens and charms, even knowing that their tales are usually lies. The deepest, darkest lore of the valley can be found within the dingy patchwork tents of ratacitori soothsayers and elders, provided one has payment to offer in kind.


Barbari

Long before the days of men the elven tribes roamed the valley, tending to herds, curating the forests, and communing with the local spirits. When the first of men migrated to the rolling plains that would become Volkarna, they labeled all the native elves 'Barbari', the others, without regard for specific tribe or territory. Though tense, relations between the two groups were relatively congenial, with the humans keeping to the more fertile northern reaches of the valley while the elven tribes maintained their traditional hunting grounds in the southern woods. All of this changed when Piotyr Von Volkarna stepped into the world, rallying the Colonisti into a unified expansionist force. Now, few of the Barbari remain, having been slaughtered or integrated into the general populace - though rumors still speak of hunting cries in the dark heart of the woods.

History of House Von Volkarna

A popular folktale pervades the hearts and minds of those who reside within Volkarna. A story they cling to in the darkness, to which they moore their hopes in the face of crushing despair. Even in the rotting gardens and crumbling town squares across Volkarna, fading statues of a young hero remain. His likeness can be seen on the relics and icons that adjourn their homes. A youth of charisma, vision and ambition, Piotyr swept into the valley with his host of settlers, united the disparate tribes of barbarians and found the settlement of Tolkad. Serving as the region’s first Boyar he would establish rule of law, channel the valley’s natural resources and bring safety and prosperity to the land that would bear his name.

Or so the tale goes...

In truth, Piotyr Von Volkarna never 'migrated' to the valley at all. He arrived with the Cataclysm, stepping into Avsolom as did so many other strange and frightening beings. What Piotyr was, and has subsequently become, cannot be clearly defined. Vampiric in nature to be sure, but different. Distinct. His insatiable hunger seems to extend beyond the blood of the living. Piotyr hungers for the very essence of reality itself. He is capable of drawing breath and potency from the very land itself.

Upon his arrival, Piotyr recognized the primordial veins of power that snaked their way through the valley. An elemental potency rested beneath the dark, fertile soils of the land. Something immensely old and rich. A nascent puissance that, if harnessed, would sustain him for eternity and grant power and dominion over any that might oppose him. He quickly established a base of operations in the settlement of Tolkad and put his plans into action. He befriended the region’s indegenious tribes through a series of compacts. He built strategic alliances with the chieftains, flattering the strong and helping to crush the weak.

Upon his arrival, Piotyr recognized the primordial veins of power that snaked their way through the valley. An elemental potency rested beneath the dark, fertile soils of the land. Something immensely old and rich. A nascent puissance that, if harnessed, would sustain him for eternity and grant power and dominion over any that might oppose him. He quickly established a base of operations in the settlement of Tolkad and put his plans into action. He befriended the region’s indegenious tribes through a series of compacts. He built strategic alliances with the chieftains, flattering the strong and helping to crush the weak.

He scoured his own ranks for the loyal, ruthless and talented. Of these, the most promising were adopted into his 'brood'. Profane blood rites granted the recipients unworldly gifts of power and magick. These childer of Piotyr revelled in their abilities and employed it mercilessly so that they might cull their enemies and bring all of Volkarna under their new master's sway.

For decades, the shadowed agents of Volkarna stalked the land, expanding the valley's natural boundaries and driving out or eradicating any inhabitants who would not bow in submission.

As his armies and coffers swelled, Piotyr busied himself with the work of tapping into the valley’s vast reservoir of power. Night after night, Volkarna’s vampiric lord poured his essence into the very soils of the land itself, extending his consciousness through the intricate web of leylines that crossed the land. His consciousness spread across the rocks, rivers and trees themselves as he searched and probed for the magical wellspring from which the valley’s potency flowed.

And then one night, something probed back.

A force, a dreadfully potent force found the vampire Piotyr nearly as fascinating as he had found it. Stirred by the intrusion, the force took hold of Piotyr, drawing the alarmed vampire lord’s very essence into the land itself. To his distress, he found himself unable to sever his connection to the earth. Night after night, the relentless force siphoned his energies from him and incorporated them into its own. Even as his body grew frail and brittle, his coupling to the land grew more potent. His eyes dried and withered in his skull as he increasingly saw through the beasts of the forest. His throat cracked and dried as he spoke through the howl of muzzles or wind. His hands grew gnarled and still, the elements of nature became his touch.

Secluding himself in his manor he turned away all visitors save for his precious brood. The peasants of Volkarna whispered of an illness that had overtaken the dread Boyar, confining him to his quarters. The months stretched into years and above Tolkad a strange and inexplicable silhouette took shape as Piotyr's brood constructed a towering castle atop the mansion that Piotyr once called home. The black towers of Castle Vzhod loomed over the peasantry, it's odd angles unnatural to the eye.

Their patriarch little more than a parched corpse within the bowels of the castle, the brood summarily split Volkarna into fiefdoms. Petty squabbles and discords prevent unified actions by Volkarna’s new vampiric lordlings, but they cooperate just to maintain their grip over the terrified population. The peak of their joint ambitions come at the tail end of every decade or so when they gather hordes of unwilling sacrifices from the peasantry. These unfortunates are shipped to the vampire Slavenka, Piotyr’s favoured, at Castle Vzhod. Here they are washed, purified and summarily sacrificed in a blood-drenched rite that acts to re-tether Piotyr’s waning consciousness to his withered shell of a body.

The results of such bloody efforts are ephemeral at best. Through the blood and lives of scores of peasants, Piotyr is rejuvenated only enough to appear vaguely as he did in his walking days. He neither stirs nor speaks. But Slavenka and her kinsmen are not deterred. Decade after decade they carry out the gory tradition. For the brood knows instinctively that their powers are tethered to their master’s own. And once he is gone, their fates will follow.

The ritual serves another purpose however. Piotyr, for all his pomp and pretense, is by nature a parasite. Accordingly, the more of his essence inhabits the land the more it is reflected within. As the valley increases its grip on Piotyr, the comatose boyar’s vampiric taint effect the living world. Pastures wither, streams dry up, the lands become mist-strewn and shadowed. The mystical creatures of folklore take shape and stalk to the night. Leshys, lycanthropes, dire wolves and worse claim dominion over the wilds. And as their master’s physical presence wanes, so too do the vampiric brood’s powers. Years just prior to the next sacrifice find the vampire lords confining themselves to their hovels or estates.

Conversely, the act of drawing Piotyr back toward his physical form provides the same succor as would drawing poison from a wound. The verdant soils of Volkarna return, harvests are plentiful, the waterways swell with fish and the woodlands with game. The valley becomes vibrant and vigorous. Such time of renewal touches the childer of Piotyr as well. The patron of House Volkarna anchored in the physical realm once more, their powers are at their most terrible and they stalk the land freely.

In truth, their silent patron resents such efforts to revivify him. He would have peace from the waking world. To Piotyr’s scismed mind, his fate is irrevocably intwined with the valley’s own. The font of power calls to him and he seeks to join it for the betterment of both beings. For as Volkarna strengthens its claim on Piotyr, so does Piotyr strengthen his claim on the valley...

Locations

Tolkad


Volkarna’s largest settlement and it’s sole link to the outside world is the black-walled town of Tolkad. It was here overlooking the slake, gray waters of the Navian Strait that young Piotyr staked his claim. Tolkad is a brooding port city of cramped, shadowed avenues and lightless alleyways. Its bustling harbour district sprawls across the coastlines edge, its natural border a dizzyingly sheer cliff face that drops precipitously to the waters below. The Cliffs of Strunn, as they’re known, mark the town’s highest point as the rest of Tolkad slopes downward towards the valley’s central plains.

Its architecture is stark, joyless and utilitarian, traits reflected in the dour faces of its citizens. What industry exists in Tolkad is almost without exception geared around the process and export of the region’s chief export, its rich supply of silver ore. Large warehouses and ironworks dominate the seaward side of town, competing for space with liveries, stables, shipyards and a handful of fisheries. Alongside its sheer clifface, a sprawling web of latticed platforms and scaffolding that descend to the broiling waters below. Massive platforms hoisted by intricate pulley systems ferry cargo and wares from the docks below to the city proper.

The rest of Tolkad is dedicated to the pursuits and commerce necessary for survival. Its proximity to sea infuses the settlement with a pervading air of decay. Wood rots and splinters faster in Tolkad and metals grow warped and rusted. The citizens endure under the iron rule of their undead Burgomeister, Rajko Veselovsky. Those venturing beyond its great iron gates can expect little in terms of welcome.

Castle Vzohd

All of Tolkad lives within the shadow of the towering spires of the seat of power of House Volkarna, the grim and foreboding Castle Vzohd. From its perch at the sea cliffs edge, the oddly-shaped fortress stands sentinel above the tumultuous waters of the Navian Straits on one side and the sprawl of Tolkad on the other. By day it stands silent with little to no signs of activity. After sunset, the lights appear in its many windows and upon its battlements. Occasionally, queer and alien sounds eminate from its interior, unsettling the villagers of Tolkad who know to stay well away from the sinister monolith.

Castle Vzohd is the domain and masterwork of Slavenka Borodin, one of Piotyr’s most beloved childer. The structure itself is in reality a monument of Sacred Geometry, built on the convergence of several natural laylines that web throughout the Volkarnite valley. Slavenka began the castle’s construction when Piotyr fell ill. For years, she mercilessly commanded an army of artisans, peasants and slaves as they built the colossal structure from flint, granite and the very limestone of the Cliffs of Strunn themselves. Scores of workers were lost to accidents, exhaustion and the utterly unexplainable. None but Slavenka herself knew the true purpose of their efforts, but once complete a dreadful power slaked off the castle in palpable waves that fanned out over Tolkad.

Unbeknownst to the people of the valley, Castle Vzohd acts as the resting place of Piotyr Von Volkarna’s inert, motionless body over which Slavenka keeps a constant vigil. The interior of the castle is a seemingly nonsensical jumble of corridors and halls. A place where physics and the fabric of reality are thin indeed. Few invited (or coerced) to enter Vozhd’s blackened halls ever return.

Tavitian Estate

An ostentatious manor nested in a patchwork of ill-tended gardens and orchards, all tucked into the farthest corner of the Lord's Quarter of Tolkad. Here resides Radu Tavitian and his sickly brood. Acting as both home and headquarters to his droves of tax collectors and financiers, the Tavitian Estate is neglected, but often thrumming with activity even late into the night - giving off the distinct impression of a squat corpse, crawling with maggots and flies.

Tolkad Catedrala


High in the hills of the Lord's Quarter, the Tolkad Catedrala sits - its spires and bells standing high above the dingy streets. Its acolytes toll the hour, minister the masses, and offer succor to the lost all in the name of Gerrung - the local name for Gorro, god of the dead. All who visit the cathedral can speak to the compassion and conviction of the Patriarh, Nicolae Ioveanu, who can most often be found at the lectern, preaching and hearing the concerns and confessions of his flock.

Marea Necropole

The Marea Necropole is a sacred place, forbidden to all but the dead, their mourners, and the silent attendants responsible for their care. It occupies a full quarter of the city, its tombs and gardens radiating out from the central mausoleum, which is itself a compound housing the Matroana and her followers in addition to its purpose as the burial place of noble families. The many tombs of the Necropole act as entryways to a labyrinthine network of catacombs used to house the remains of those too poor to afford a proper monument, or who died unnamed or forgotten.

Lake Marrovsk

Resting in t he foothills of the Vuhlshleks resides Lake Marrovsk. Fed by mountain tributaries polluted by the sediment runoff caused by extensive mining operations, the waters of Marrovsk are frigid and gray. An ever-present shroud of mist adorns the lake, making navigation a challenge to all but the most seasoned boatsmen. Only the men and women of the lakeside village of Botorest dare tread its waters and even then only in the comfort of daylight.

There are tales of dreadful things that inhabit Lake Marrovsk. Dreadful, hungry things.

Botorest

The village of Botorest lies on the shore of Lake Marrovsk, choked by thick fog and the smell of algae. Those colonisti who make their home here live in huddled resignation, buckled under the weight of the cold, damp air and the shadows and shrieks of the Botorest Penitenciar. They make their living dredging the toxic waters of the lake for fish and fragments of silver ore washed down from the mines.

Botorest Penitenciar

The Botorest Penitenciar is a dreadful combination of prison and asylum, where all manner of undesirables are kept far from the light of freedom. None but the wardens and the interred know the truth of what happens behind its dread stone walls and black iron bars, but it is said that if one dares to listen the sounds of sorrow and despair can be heard from the foothills of the mountains, carried across the lake on bitter winds.

Curvasna


Curvasna sits in the middle of the valley, acting as a waypoint between any two lights of civilization in the province. Its residents are uncharacteristically welcoming to travelers and outsiders, relying heavily on transitory populations to make their living. Even the ratacitori are welcome to share in the warmth of tavern hearths so long as they spend their coin and offer their respects to the Ganus estate which administrates the town. Indeed, Curvasna may well be the most pleasant place in all Volkarna, provided you stay in the light of the lamps and far from the shadows of narrow alleyways.

Seganesti

Seganesti squats on the border of the Tennebrian woods, rough-hewn and touched by the wild. Its residents are a gruff lot, hunters, trappers, loggers and tanners. Many show the telltale signs of elven blood, intermixed from the old barbari tribes that once occupied the forest, now driven out or integrated into Volkarna's downtrodden populace. Much of the village is rundown and ramshackle, owing to the neglect of its overseer, Rajana Archaki, who prefers to spend her time beyond the confines of splintering low walls. In fact, it is rare to see any great number of residents present in the village rather than plying their trades in the deep of the woods. Many of the residents are members of Rajana's hunting guild and receive the information and resources that come with that association, but even among the hunters there are a privileged few with the skill and knowledge to survive in the dark heart of the Gloomwood.

Mor Vuhlshlek Mountains

The Mor Vuhlshlek mountains are a treacherous range of dagger-sharp peaks that stretch from the western shore of the Navian Strait to the Black Keep. They mark the northern-most border between Volkarna and Nal Akima and are effectively impassible save for the man-made passage through the halls of Brvirov Citadel. While they hold back the worst of the Nal Akimian frost, chill mists often flow down from the peaks, rendering the valley harsh and inhospitable to the unprepared.

Vicoza

Vicoza sits in the foothills of the Mor Vuhlshlek mountains, a collection of homes and buildings layered ato p one another and reaching well toward the summit. Much of the population trades in ore dug from the silver mines, overseen by Mirela Lazar, staroste of the miner's guild and administrator of the town. At night, the light of myriad hearths and the sound of drunken song fill the air. In contrast, by day the people are eerily silent, the only sounds louder than a murmur being the rush of the waterfall that bisects the town and the rhythmic striking of picks on stone echoing from the depths of the earth.

Vicoza Mines

The silver mines of Vicoza delve deep into the crust of Mor Vuhlshlek, winding their way through caverns and ravines far beneath the earth. There, the intrepid miners toil at all hours to free precious silver from the rock face, sending it by the cartload to the surface where it can be processed and shipped for sale. All of this is done under the watchful gaze of Mirela Lazar, staroste of the Vicoza miner's guild, who mandates the shifts and sets the wages that keep Vicoza's people in beer and bread. If a miner is - on occasion - lost to the depths of a ravine, such is the risk of their profession. If shrill cries sometimes resound from the caves, surely it is only the wind.

Brvirov Cetate

The only viable path through the Mor Vuhlshlek mountains is the wide, ruler-straight path through Brvirov Citadel, carved by downtrodden hands of laborers long dead. Built to accommodate marching armies, it has never seen the fruition of its purpose, and instead acts only as a marshaling ground, where troops are beaten into fighting form by the unrelenting command of Dusek Zhdanov, the Blade of Volkarna. Few civilians dare to tread in these hallowed halls for fear that they may catch a soldier's eye, their reputation of wanton cruelty known throughout the valley.

Tennebrian Woods

At the base of the valley’s central plains and extending to the very southern border of Volkarna itself are the Tennebrian Woods. A dense maze of firs and pines, the woods are home to the strange and dangerous. Prone to dense fogbanks it is easy to lose one’s way in the depths of the boreal forest and more than one hunter has vanished into their depths never to be seen again. The wildlife teems with an unnatural intelligence and is often watchful. Interested. Only the hardiest of woodsmen brave the forest and even then, seldom alone. Like the Mor Vuhlshlek Mountains to the north, the Tennebrian Woods serve as a boundary to prevent the population of Volkarna from emigrating. Those wishing to leave (or enter) Volkarna inexplicably find themselves beset by dense blankets of fog or hunted by packs of unnaturally large wolves.

The Gloomwoods

Deep in the heart of the Tennebrian Woods resides an ancient hollow of elder woods known as The Gloomwoods. Here the black pines grow tall and broad, blotting out the sun. The underbrush is dense and all but unpassable. Most noticeable is the abject silence that pervades the stretch of forest. Even the beasts hold the site in some sort of holy reverence. Birdsong is notably missing and all is still. Even Piotyr’s pervasive will finds no purchase here. Whatever power holds dominion over the Gloomwoods is all-powerful and ancient beyond measure.

The Tennebris River

The shores of the mighty Tennebris River mark Volkarna’s southern border. Referred to as ‘Blackfen’ by their southern neighbors, the Tennebris flows briskly inland from the Navian Strait. There is no bridge nor ferry between the two provinces and those wishing to navigate the river find the currents treacherous and unpredictable.

Dramatis Personae

The Vampire Lords of Volkarna


Piotyr Von Volkarna

Domnitor of the Volkarna Valley and all within it, legend to his people, terror to his enemies. While not a vampire in the truest sense of the word, the lord of Volkarna's dominion over blood and infernal magicks cannot be denied. Wielding great power and carrying a monstrous curse in exchange, he singlehandedly converted a wild and pastoral province into nothing less than a minor empire - with designs on expanding his reach further still. It was only his own thirst for power that put a halt to those plans, as his efforts to draw power from the land itself brought him into contention with something older and darker still, binding him to his throne in body as well as name.

Not even his closest subordinates now know whether he truly lives or if his mouldering form is simply a vessel for what remains of his power. Regardless, they know that he is their anchor to power, glory, and life eternal, and so work tirelessly to defend his land and drag him back from the brink of hell - despite their many petty grievances and blatant posturing.

Dusek Zhdanov - The Blade

Title: Voivode
Territory: Brvirov Citadel and the surrounding mountains
Subtype: Mjertovjec

Dusek Zhdanov served as Domnitor Volkarna's fiercest and most loyal warrior during that halcyon reign. Cutting his teeth on the wars with the revolting tribal factions that opposed his master's ascendancy, Dusek proved himself a wily and ruthless opponent. By the time he achieved the rank of Voivode and commander of the armies, he was extending the boundaries of Volkarna and marshalling his forces for a great outward expansion.

Piotyr's ailment effectively curtailed Zhdanov's ambitions. His own powers diminished with Piotyr's and there were no grand campaigns to be designed without the Domnitor's blessing. His once magnificent armies fell into shambles without purpose, devolving into little more than opportunistic brutes that terrorize the weak and vulnerable. Voivode Zhdanov himself retreated to Brvirov Citadel on the edge of the Mor Vuhlshleks where, in its crumbling edifice, he sits and broods about past glories and what may have been.

Rajko Veselovsky - The Fist

Title: Burgomeister
Territory: City of Tolkad
Subtype: Varcolac

Piotyr's regional dominance and quelling of the valley's original inhabitants initially inspired a robust influx of immigrants into Volkarna's burgeoning settlements. As the population swelled, Volkarna's dark lord saw the need for order. From the ranks of his personal guard came Rajko Veselovsky, an individual of exceeding cruelty and sadism. Made Burgomeister of the port city of Tolkad he quickly set about enacting a series of draconian measures designed to impress his master's will upon the people.

Despite his Dark Lord's withdrawal, Veselovsky has retained his iron grip on Tolkad and oversees its governance with a fervent exactitude. His travels seldom see him outside the city limits these nights as his potency has faltered alongside Piotyr's own fate.

Slavenka Borodin - The Nail

Title: Stolnic
Territory: Castle Vzohd
Subtype: Strigoi

During the halcyon height of Piotyr’s reign, Slavenka Borodin served as his second-in-command in the traditional title of Stolnic. Responsible for the considerable task of managing the vast array of logistics involved in running a fiefdom, Borodin quickly endeared herself to Piotyr as chief amongst his advisors. Entrusted with Piotyr’s faith, her role quickly expanded and in the ensuing decades saw broad building works fall under her authority. Towering monuments began to emerge throughout Volkarna, grand edifices that served to communicate Piotyr’s benign glory. Unbeknownst the peasantry, many of these sites held an ulterior purpose.

In her service to Boyar Volkarna, Borodin had undertaken the study of the arcane arts. In particular she had versed herself in the esoteric concept of Sacred Geometry, the magic by which users employ shapes and patterns to siphon energies through the natural world. Such sites acted as ‘nodes’ upon sacred ley lines meant to extend Piotyr’s dark powers, anchoring them immutably from the land. As Piotyr’s physical form deteriorated, it was Slavenka who designed and oversaw the construction of the Castle Vzohd. The project strained her abilities to their abilities to their breaking point, but upon its completion the looming architecture drew power from the valley sufficient to sustain the stricken Piotyr within.

These nights, Borodin is rarely seen outside the castle walls. She spends her time within its black towers, caring for her fallen master and undergoing dark experimentations in the hope of unraveling the secrets to his curse.

Rajana Archaki - The Fang

Title: Staroste, Master of the Hunt
Territory: Village of Seganesti, Tennebrian Woods
Subtype: Muroni

Rajana Archaki hailed from one of the elven barbarian tribes that inhabited the central plains of the valley, prior to Piotyr’s arrival. The youngest daughter of the region’s most powerful chieftain and furthest within the line of succession, Rajana bristled in the impotency of her standing. Eschewing her duties of political marriage or diplomacy, the young barbarian spent her days in the wilds of Volkarna engaged in long, sprawling hunts. It was on one such outing she encountered Piotyr. The charismatic youth enthralled Rajana and in the ensuing years she would play a vital role in his befriending (and eventual subjugation) of the valley’s indigenous tribes.

Without her mentor’s guidance, Rajana has returned to her old ways. She haunts the dark hollows of the Gloomwoods communing with the twisted, wild beasts of Volkarna. The landscape’s profane wickedness, Rajana sees reflections of her old master and seeks to protect it with a jealous ferocity.

Timotei Ganus - The Cloak

Title: Staroste, Master of Spies
Territory: Village of Curvasna
Subtype: Lugat

In life, Timotei Ganus served alongside Rajko Veselovsky in Piotyr’s personal guard. But whereas Rajko seemed to excel in enforcing his often brutal will upon others, Timotei’s talents lay in the ability to ferret out information. At the behest of Boyar Volkarna, the wily youth worked tirelessly to uncover traitors or conspirators that might seek to cause Piotyr harm. Countless Volkarnians have been put to the lash or worse due to Timotei’s grim efforts.

Modern nights find him sequestered in the village of Curvasna, his furtive nature seemingly amplified by the dark curse imparted upon him by Piotyr. Once a keenly sharpened tool, his instincts have now blossomed into full scale paranoia as he spends his hours piecing together suspicions and chasing down hunches.

Sonia Moldovanu - The Veil

Title: Matroana
Territory: Marea Necropole, Tolkad
Subtype: Moroi

Sonia Moldovanu was, in her prime, a respected mystic of the native peoples of the valley. Priestess of the small and quiet things, the creeping moss, the biting flies, and fungus sprouting from earth. People would come to her to pray, to heal, and to mourn for loved ones lost - returned to the earth in the cycle of life and death. In Piotyr Von Volkarna she saw great ambition and a need for temperance and softer council. In her, he saw a direct line of power between the land and the people who lived upon it.

It was an effort to turn her respect for death into a proper reverence, but when she turned she never looked back. If the cycle of death was to be worshiped, then he as the master of death and transformation was like unto a god. She became his strongest advocate amongst the free people and for her service was given a great gift: an entire city of death, quiet and still, to rule as she sees fit.

Radu Tavitian - The Purse

Title: Caminar
Territory: Tavitian Estate
Subtype: Kukudh

Radu Tavitian is - in a word - a blight. In life he was a greedy, petty, scoundrel and undeath has seen no improvement. He does nothing if it fails to serve his own interest, and little even then unless it works to someone else's harm. His sole entertainment from the lofty perch of his neglected estate is to bleed dry the people of coin as well as blood, and to watch them thin from the putrescence his agents spread through the streets.

Ostensibly, his purpose in Tolkad is to collect the taxes due from the citizens and manage the royal coffers. However, nearly all of that work is done by his subordinates, leaving him with plenty of leisure time to count his own coin and arrange to acquire exotic prey from beyond the valley upon which to feed.

Nicolae Ioveanu - The Chalice

Title: Patriarh
Territory: Tolkad Catedrala
Subtype: Upir

In the hallowed halls of the Tolkad Catedrala, Nicolae Ioveanu and his acolytes minister tirelessly to the masses. Originally a missionary from the southern states of the Old Empire, he came preaching the virtues and grace of Athos, lord of life and the sun to the pack of godless, superstitious vagabonds that made the valley their home. To him, Piotyr Von Volkarna must have seemed a breath of fresh air - the only man capable of holding reasoned discourse on the nature of the divine for many leagues around.

Often they would sit for tea and counsel, discussing the will and nature of the twelve, whom Piotyr had never before encountered. Through these talks, Nicolae came to understand the foolishness of his devotions and gained respect for the subtle workings of Gorro, known to the locals as Gerrung. Now, he spreads a new gospel - one of loyalty, of sacrifice, and of acceptance for all, no matter their status or stature.

Mirela Lazar - The Hammer

Title: Staroste, Master of the Mines
Territory: Village of Vicoza, Vicoza Mines
Subtype: Aufhocker

The Lazar family has long been known for their innate sense of stone and metal, often being said to carry some dwarven blood. The mines of Vicoza have always been plumbed by the hands of a Lazar, but it was Mirela's guidance - and Volkarna's backing - that turned them from backwoods pick-slingers into a true industrial power. Now the town hums with the rumble of turning gears, powered by the force of the frigid mountain falls, churning load after load of silver-rich ore to the surface to be melted down and turned to Mirela's profit.

Rarely can she be found outside the twisting tunnels that are her true home and never without a hammer and chisel nearby. The people of Vicoza know her as an affable and wise mistress, who puts the needs of her people first. If those that say otherwise are lost to the mines, there are few who find the time to complain.

Artur Oprea - The Chain

Title: Armas
Territory: Botorest Prison and Lake Marrovsk
Subtype: Nachzehrer

When the time for simple conquest had passed and Piotyr Von Volkarna took steps to form a true civilization within the valley, the need for law and order became apparent. With law comes crime, and with crime so to there must be punishment, and so Piotyr ordered the construction of a great and terrible fortress on the banks of the lake Marrovsk. For that dreadful place, a warden was needed and here Artur Oprea happily volunteered.

Once a simple soldier in Volkarna's armies, Artur was a quiet and solemn kind, known for his awkward manner and love of solitude. Even before Volkarna came to conquer, he had never quite understood his place in the world and was often taken to melancholy. In the Penitenciar he saw an opportunity to connect with those who could do little more than listen to him speak and await his next visit, and so he begged his general, Dusek, to recommend him to the Domnitor. For his loyal service, he was made one of the brood and has done his job diligently for centuries since.

Rica Pavel - The Outcast

Title: None
Territory: None
Subtype: Bezkost

Little is known of this, the last child of Piotyr Von Volkarna. Once regarded as the most charismatic of Piotyr's inner circle, Rica was well regarded by the people and respected for his levelheaded approach to policies of state and diplomacy. When he was finally inducted into the shared bond of their curse, the Domnitor's favor shifted drastically. Whether due to the nature of his transformation, its effect on his personality, or one of Piotyr's whims, Pavel was shunned by his creator, left to the mercy of his petty, jealous cousins, and cursed to wander the forgotten corners of the valley for the rest of his unnatural eternity.

After centuries of absence, not even Vampire Lords are certain of Rica's fate. Some believe it impossible for the greater variety of his children to occur naturally, and so claim he wanders still. Others would prefer to think him dead, and that the bezkost are little more than a variant of ghouls in this day and age.
 
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Nommie

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So approving this one.

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