The Castles of Baevonia: Balance is in the Order of Things

The mountainous homeland of the Baevonian people, Baevonia is not merely a fortress city; it is an ideal given form, living proof that order is what carved the world, and order will restore it. “For Baevonia!” is the warcry, even for those beknighted clans deep in the Savathar Mountains who have only dreamt of one day seeing the Castle City. So tied are the people to their cause, so often do they speak of their mission, that travelers have come to know the peaks and valleys near the Castle City as the “Baevonian Mountains.”

Baevonia, the Castle city

The Castle City is the heart of Baevonia. The Baevonian Pass, known to the Baevonians also as the Castle Road, crosses directly beneath the walls of Baevonia. None can traverse the pass without permission. The city itself rises up the wall of the wide canyon pass in staggered balconies lush with vegetation. A misty waterfall, thin against the green backdrop, lands in a wide and shallow basin on the canyon floor. Baevonia Castle surrounds the terraced city; its arched gates block the pass entirely.

The grand city of Baevonia is a marvel of life in an otherwise barren landscape. The gentle mountain spring that creates the waterfall would divert over the rocks, submerging itself into the mountain, were it not for the aqueducts that feed the terraced gardens. Were it not for the gleaners to prune and harvest, the gardens would overgrow the courtyards and ramparts. Were it not for the fortifications and the brave knights who man them, all Baevonia would succumb to lawlessness.

Gate of Bones

The castle—known also as The Boneyard—is named for two things: the bone-white marble used to construct the outer walls and pillars of the gate itself, and the mass open grave of stark white bones that pile outside the castle, remnants of long-defeated undead invaders. From the grasslands below, the castle stands out against the dusky red stone and brush of the mountain. Here “At the Edge of the World” as the locals are wont to say, the Baevonian mission is still the ordered preservation of natural water sources and carefully organized communities, but rule of law that all Baevonians are known for is on full display at the Gate of Bones.

Whereas the capital city is a Wellspring on the scale of a city, the Gate of Bones is a built around an ancient Grekian fountain; much of the interior architecture of the castle dates to the ancient empire. While the fountain provides more than enough water for the needs of the citizens, travelers, and their livestock, there are no terraced gardens or aqueducts here.

Instead, the castle relies on tribute and trade from across Baevonia. In exchange, General Baron Ciomitan Vrackmur invites all Baevonians to visit the Gate of Bones in their early adult hood to train in the ways of the knighthood and the rule of law. Each spring, prospective students from across Baevonia travel with tribute for the Gate of Bones. All tributes are collected, but not all students are accepted; the larger the tribute, the more likely the student’s approval.

Isav’s Gate

Isav’s Gate stands as the eastern-most border of Baevonian territory, and the beleaguered front line in the War for Old Grekia. Travelers into Baevonia, at least those who wish to use Baevonia Pass, must first stop at Isav’s Gate. Like the Gate of Bones, Isav’s Gate relies on trade and tribute to sustain its populace, but unlike the Gate of Bones no freshwater source is readily available.

Baevonia has precious few historians, but they consider the drying of the river Isav the first act of war by the Chonians over one hundred years ago. The river Isav once flowed through and protected the castle. Today, Isav’s Gate is kept watered by a secluded mountain spring nearly a day’s ride away; a dozen barrel-wagons drawn by surefooted ponies and guarded by two dozen knights make the journey, daily.

Travelers and merchant caravans arriving in the Baevonian mountains from the east, bound for the Castle City of Baevonia or other lands in the Disputed Territories, must first stop at Isav’s Gate if they wish to use Baevonia Pass. Travelers who somehow find a circuitous route through the ravine-strewn foothills and into the steep canyons of the mountains, will arrive at the Castle City and be denied entry without first securing proper licensure from Isav’s Gate. Those encountered by patrolling knights are likely to end up incarcerated for trespassing or water thievery if branded enemies of the state.

The toll to use the westward bound Castle Road is set by High Gatekeeper Baron Dorus Elmoor, who personally inspects caravans to determine, “A fair and equitable exchange for use of the Castle Road, and the protection of the knights of Baevonia.”

Baevonian Wellsprings

To secure sources of water in the Savathar Mountains, the water barons build fortified villages and towns known as Wellsprings. Each Wellspring is founded as a Mission, a right of passage for a young knight looking for prestige and fame. The purpose of a Mission is to bring civilization to the baren wilds of the highlands. Civilization requires water to survive, thus the Mission is to tame a wild source of water in the mountains. Once a cold spring or meltwater lake is made stable, its ebb and flow under the control of the knight, whether by levy, aqueduct, or simple dam, the knight has taken his first steps toward becoming a Water Baron.

A Water Baron oversees the village, protects it from invaders, and enforces the laws of Baevonia. When a Wellspring reaches the limit of families it can support, the Water Baron sends forth eager young adventurers, exiled criminals to serve them, and aging counselors to advise them. The expedition explores the highlands for new sources of water while chasing their destinies. Most of these expeditions meet their end in the wilds of the Savathar Mountains. A few may find refuge in a distant Wellspring that has suffered a loss and struggles to rebuild. One in a hundred will complete their Mission and establish a new Wellspring.

The villages that grow from a Wellspring fort are as dedicated to the Mission as the Water Baron they serve. Shepherds, weavers, gleaners, blacksmiths, carpenters, miners, cobblers, clothiers, silversmiths, musicians, clerics, soldiers: Each villager contributes to the Mission, each enjoys the bounty of a healthy Wellspring.

Within a Wellspring community its people are free from want. Children spend their days at play and study; adults serve the Wellspring and its Mission. But a Wellspring can support only so many people. The terraced gardens can produce only so much food. A Wellspring cannot grow beyond what its source of water can provide.

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