|Motto:||Frá Langskip Til Vitinn ("From the Longship to the Lighthouse")|
|Feudal Status:||Bailiwick and Royal City|
|Largest Cities:||Hyfrost, Virujasby|
|Local Leadership Title:||Lady Mayor of Hyfrost|
|Current leader:||Borgdís Kolgrímursdóttir|
|Local language:||Common Tongue, Froyalanish, Hurmu Norse, Valtian, Wintergleamish|
|Local Religion:||Bovic Faith, Froyalanish Ancient Ways, Hurmudanish Faith|
Hyfrost, also known as the Royal City of Hyfrost is a Royal City and Bailiwick of the Federation of the Seven Ports situated in the Far West on the northern coast of the Benacian continent. It is an exclave of the Royal Precinct of the Elwynnese Union which is known as the Kingdom of Kingdom of Amokolia.
The Legend of Hyfrost
Hyfrost was, according to legends passed down through the ages, founded by Fafnir Dyrason. Fafnir was a Volsaarn Paladin, born around the year 1454, and hailing from the Isle of Volsung in Hyperborea. At this time, the Volsaarns were quite prosperous and were known to have begun exploring the seas beyond Hyperborea. The Volsaarn longships carried them to Cimmeria, and the mainland coast of Elwynn.
Although it is known that the Volsaarns travelled far and wide, there are many instances where it is not known which lands they ended up in. One such instance can be traced to the explosion of Mount Yaanek in Hyperborea, which forced Volsaarns to flee to the Cimmerian archipelago and there build Volsaria as a new homeland. The establishment of Hyfrost chronicles a similar tale. Dyrason, the main character of the legend, was a sailor hailing from Port Tyrsgaard in Volsung. Stories relate that the tale is recorded directly from Dyrason's personal diary, which states that he had chartered a vessel and crew to begin exploring the mainland coast beyond Cimmeria.
Dyrason's charter was granted and he obtained a longship with the money and hired a crew. The first, rather uneventful, days were spent preparing and sailing across the seas from Hyperborea to Cimmeria. He arrived in Volsaria without much trouble and there obtained fresh supplies in order to make the extended voyage along the mainland coast, intending to sail south. He first, however, determined to stop at Wolfraven, the capital of Cimmeria, where he would pay his respects to the Cimmerian Chieftans. This did not come to pass though, as a freak storm obscured the skies and sent his ship flailing out of control northward, past Cimmeria, and deep into unexplored territory.
Dyrason's longship was tossed about and sent northward instead of south, along and past the coast of Elwynn. Somewhere off the coast of Drakenoya, Dyrason's longship capsized and all the crew save for himself drowned. Losing consciousness but clinging to the overturned ship, he lasted the storm and was washed ashore at Cape Dragonbane, the northeast tip of Drakenoya. At the time, Drakenoya had not been discovered yet, and was inhabited only by small native hunter villages. Fafnir's location was entirely uninhabited, and he survived by his skills, eating berries and wild fruits. During this time he also managed to restore his longship, realigning it with ropes of vine and axe-hewn wood.
The smoke from his fires and, eventually, the tall prow of his ship which was carved as a large dragon's head, attracted the attention of the local natives - the Wendol. But their numbers were equally sparse on Drakenoya, their own homeland being across the bay. Alarmed by the dragonship, they saw the well-groomed Dyrason as a god visiting from the great beyond. The Wendol of this time still adhered to their neolithic roots and were largely still a barbarous society. The chieftan of the hunter camps, Bolgnar, was the first to approach Fafnir, offering him tribute in the form of furs and meat.
The first cultural exchange was rather quiet and reserved. Fafnir, fearing for his own life, kept his distance from the Wendol. Bolgnar, fearing Dyrason to be a god, held him in reverence and thus reserved the otherwise barbaric rites his people were accustomed to. Eventually the two became more amiable towards oneanother and, as winter approached, Fafnir was invited to travel back to the mainland (Wendoland) with Bolgnar to the main Wendol settlements. Fafnir agreed and sailed his longship, accompanied by Bolgnar and Wendol in canoes, to Bjornmunn (Bear's Mouth) Bay.
Here he encountered the main Wendol settlement - a smattering of squat villages along the shoreline. Although his prestige had somewhat lessened due to his relations with Bolgnar, Fafnir was nonetheless still respected as a divine being from beyond. His longship was towed into shore and Bolgnar introduced him to the great chief of the Wendol, Himlir, who immediately surmised that Dyrason was not a god and distrusted him from the start. Although Bolgnar, an elder, was respected and believed among his people and quickly spread word to the contrary, thus staying Himlir's hand in executing Fafnir.
Dyrason wintered with the Wendol, introducing to them many techniques brought with him from Volsung. Although at first he did not attempt to curb their barbaric rites, such as human sacrifice and cannibalising their dead. He knew that such opposition would surely result in his death. He also noted that with the severity of the winters in this region, cannibalism had arisen from necessity and lack of education for these people, not out of sheer barbarity. So it came to be that Dyrason pitied the Wendol, rather than hating them, and resolved to stay amongst them and teach them as best he could.
Himlir, however, retained an ever-growing hatred for Dyrason and for all which he stood. Especially the changes he was introducing to the Wendol. As spring approached, Fafnir introduced farming techniques to the Wendol, hoping to subtly curb their cannibalistic nature. To his surprise, it worked, and a great majority of the Wendol took up farming open fields with barley and oats. But he had also been learning too, and had become fluent in the Wendol language and system of writing, taught to him by Bolgnar, who became a close confidant and friend.
Bolgnar also vowed to take Fafnir inland, beyond the coastal village, to the Wendol's Temple of the Frost Bear. A great cavern under a hill which was devoted to their highest god, Isbjordin, the Great Ice Bear, and maintained by their high-pristess, Viruja. Although Himlir kept stalling Fafnir's travel inland, saying that no foreigner could ever enter the great caves. So for several years, Fafnir was kept from seeing the temple.
But after a time, and after much teaching of the Wendol, Fafnir resolved to see the great caves and temple. But Himlir stopped him before he could journey there. Tempers flared and the hatred the two had been keeping inside began to boil over. Bolgnar, attempting to resolve the conflict, stepped in-between the two quarreling men and was killed when Himlir angrily stuck a dagger in his back. Enraged at the slaughter of his friend, Fafnir grabbed his battleaxe and fought a great battle with Himlir before cleaving it into his chest as all the Wendol watched their chieftan die in disgrace.
None tried to stop him as he, bloodied and battered, buried his friend Bolgnar in a nearby meadow filled with flowers. Afterwards he wearily staggered northward out of the village, determined to see this temple he had for so long been forbidden from viewing. The great caves soon stood before him, where a small entrance lay at the bottom near the river and a great hill crest above it. Not even the guards tried to stop him, noticing the whole village following him and themselves knowing the great Fafnir from his many years of servitude. Inside, the cave was a labyrinth of tunnels and passages, but he followed the largest central corridor, marked by large sconces.
After much walking he entered into a large room which was obviously the center of the temple and home of Viruja. The priestess, at first shrouded by fine furs, was revealed to be a beautiful maiden. Seeing this wounded man for the first time she was shocked and afraid, although her servants soon informed her of who he was. She pitied him and asked what had happened, at which he told her of all that had occured. The distraught Viruja burst into tears at hearing of the death of Bolgnar, who as fate would have it, was her father. In the darkness of the temple, the two wept together for their lost brethren.
It eventually came to pass that Viruja and Fafnir fell in love, and emerged from the temple as a new union between two peoples - the Volsaarn and Wendol. By virtue of their religion, his marriage to Viruja, and his victory over Himlir, Fafnir was proclaimed great chief of the Wendol. Dyrason's first task was instituting reforms. He forbade cannibalism and turned the meadow where Bolgnar was buried into the Wendol's first true cemetery. No more would they be a backwards people, for now the blood of the Volsaarns flowed in their veins.
Adopting a mixture of his own religion and that of the Wendol, he proclaimed the formation of Bjorngard - the Bear Guard - over all the lands populated by the Wendol people, including Drakenoya. Enlisting a company of one-hunded men, they dragged his great longship with ropes to the summit above the Temple of the Frost Bear and there turned it into a fortress overlooking the village below. Fafnir proclaimed the fortress to be Hyfrost, and so the great city of Wendol and Volsaarn was founded. Thereafter both Fafnir and Viruja ruled Bjorngard with benevolence and intelligence, leading their people to prosperity in these great north lands.
Due to a quirk of history, the twin exclaves of Bjorngard and Byzantipol remained Shirerithian even as the rest of Western Benacia was ceded to various newer polities like Amokolia, Ashkenatza, and Batavia. Although originally rural and mostly irrelevant, they gained prominence after the foundation of Byzantipol by Kaiser Hasan I; after his death, the power in the area shifted to the Hyperborean colony of Hyfrost south of the Amokolian Strait.
When West Elwynn revolted against the Shirerithian crown, Bjorngard, as part of Hyperborea's sphere of influence, remained with Shireroth in the final settlement. It didn't hurt either that there was a massive fortress manned by Hyperborean paladins in the center of it which kept the rebels not only out of Bjorngard but from invading Agningas to the west. However, the territory was small, insignificant, and hard to defend. Some in Shirekeep - and even a few Hyperboreans - thought the easiest route would be to just give it up to the West Elw rebels in exchange for concessions elsewhere.
The plan the Shining Garden eventually settled upon, however, was very different: turning Bjorngard into a major economic success story and the lynchpin of its efforts to restrict the supply of money and resources entering West Elwynn.
It had been noticed since the days of the Automatics that the seas north of Lesser Automatica were dangerous at the best of times and often impassable during the winter - trying to round Cape Farewell with an important cargo was considered foolish at best. Ships used to dock at La Terre, Tsofnhafn, or Civitas Nova with cargo intended for Amokolia or northern Ashkenatza, and sometimes even cargo for Shireroth coming from the west.
The Shining Garden's plan was to turn Hyfrost into the top port of north-central Benacia. It subsidized a massive reconstruction of the port facility, turning it into the only city on the North Coast capable of receiving supertankers. Then it cut port taxes to zero, subsidized world-class receiving facilities, refineries, and business centers, and waited for the ships to come.
Contrary to that plan was the borders problem. Tsofnhafn was an easier port for anything bound for Ashkenatza, and La Terre was easier for anywhere bound to Amokolia and later EAH. Hyfrost decided to make a virtue of necessity and turn into a smuggling port; anything bound for Ashkenatza that didn't want to pay the official taxes could dock in Hyfrost, cart its goods to the long and porous Agningean-Ashkenatzan border, cross undetected, and profit.
Finally, the Hyperboreans relaxed the terms of the Thousand Years' Hate on the port of Hyfrost. Goods entering Hyfrost could enter EAH without sanctions. Interestingly enough, this meant that any goods bound for Shirerithian East Elwynn from the west had to go through Hyfrost unless someone wanted to cart them all the way down through Ashkenatza and Brookshire to avoid EAH territory, or attempt the perilous crossing of Cape Farewell.
Hyfrost has so far been unable to capture the lucrative trade in shipments going to EAH via La Terre; although there are some attempts to offload cargo ships at Hyfrost to then have their goods shipped on smaller routes to places along the EAH coast, the increased hassle of border crossings have made them mostly inferior to direct EAH goods offloading. There are a few projects under development right now to increase its competitiveness, possibly by cooperating with the Ashkenatzans to promote access to the landward areas of EAH and maybe even some smuggling; right now the main roadblock is Ashkenatza's desire to keep a good relationship with their neighbors to the northeast.
But on the whole the Hyfrost Project had been successful. Hyfrost is a busy port which serves as a transportation hub for much of the Benacian North Coast and prevents economic activity and further development of the north coast of EAH. It has also grown to an important city in its own right: By the time of Elwynn's reunification it boasted a population of 450,000, and was the third largest city in KaiRaikoth, and punched above its weight economically due to its status as a free-trade zone.
- Hyfrost is one of the three Royal Cities of the Flower of the North which is permanently policed by a branch of the Connétablie of the Fleur de Lys-Longships Guard, the Compagnie de la Connétablie d'Hyfrost, in stead of a City Watch.
- The Viruja Chamber in Castle Islàn in the Old Harbour of Hyfrost is one of the places where the Family Council of the House of Orchids likes to meet.
- Hyfrost is called Hyfrosti as well as Minas Hyfrosteon in the Elw language.
Sites of Interest
- Castle Islàn
- Hill of Ruins
- Lirikoth Building
- Lonely Light