The History of Lisell
The Reconstruction Period
When the Forgotten Empire tore itself apart, there was chaos and confusion. Roving bandits and more organized brigands saw the resulting power vacuum as an opportunity to found their own empires. The years following The Fall were dangerous times, but all over the continent rugged and tenacious groups of traders, craftsmen, and farmers persevered and carved out small slices of safety in the strange and dangerous world they found themselves forced into. After a time, they began to seek each other out and eventually established trade routes between the budding nations. A massive network of trading goods soon followed, and travelled from Marropen in the distant Northeast over 1,200 miles to Southern Lakan. The route, however, was not always safe.
On the border between Hefarn and Cardinia, was a massive, mostly intact bridge, 300 feet wide. The only damage the structure had suffered during The Fall was a 50 foot wide strip that ran down the center of the bridge, which crumbled and fell into the river. It started on the Hefaran shores of the Mastic River, crossed the nearly mile wide channel to a large island in the middle of the river, and continued on to Cardinia, crossing another half-mile of river. On the island in the center of the river, many structures were still intact as well, along with some of the only surviving machinery of the Forgotten Empire, which included a mostly functional sewer system, water purification, and faerie lights to provide nighttime illumination. The bridge was the only structure that crossed the Mastic and was frequently harried by bandits. One such bandit, Broll Hamaer, held the bridge with his men for six months before Cardinian and Hefarnan forces teamed up and wiped them out.
The two nations decided it would be mutually beneficial to defend such a critical piece of the trade route and signed the Charter of Lisell in AF68 (463 years ago), named after a merchant who brokered the accord.
The Charter of Lisell
The Charter of Lisell is the first example of an international agreement in the modern world and established the Province of Lisell as an autonomous city-state on the river island between Hefarn and Cardinia. The small island nation would be run by a small parliament consisting of two houses - the House of Lords which had 9 appointed members, and the House of Commons which had 36 elected members. The parliament would be overseen by an elected Prime Minister. The first Prime Minister of Lisell was a Dwarven merchant named Haelish Broadstone.
The Hefarn Invasion
In AF134 (397 years ago) a blight struck Hefarn and the nation was desperate for food. By this time, Lisell had grown from a small settlement with a few hundred soldiers and merchants to a large city with over 5,000 inhabitants. Hefarn invaded and, after 3 months of brutal siege, eventually gained control of the island. To prevent retaliation from Cardinia, Hefaran soldiers destroyed the eastern side of the bridge leading to Cardinia, and heavily fortified the western side. Hefarn, at the time, was still a monarchy. They removed the prime minister and established a Duke as the ruler of Lisell. Forces from within Lisell were eventually able to overthrow the invading force, but kept the partial monarchy.
A Time of Peace
For the next 273 years, Lisell experienced a prosperous and peaceful time. Wars and skirmishes raged in other parts of the continent, but Lisell remained neutral and uninvolved. Its population grew to nearly 30,000 and it became one of the wealthiest places not just in Cardinia, but in the entire world.
In AF409 (122 years ago) the wreckage of a ship of strange craftsmanship washed up on the eastern shores of Lakan. One survivor was found, an old human whose tongue had been savagely cut from his mouth. He was emaciated and half crazy. A large, black burn scar the size of a melon marked his chest and so people began calling him Blackhart. Despite being mute, Blackhart was able to gain the trust and love of the common folk for defying the rich and powerful. After hitting a critical mass of followers, Blackhart started a revolt among the commoners of Eastern Lakan that spread like wildfire. In just 8 months, the entire country of Lakan and much of southern Cardinia had been razed by Blackhart’s forces. They hung nobles, disemboweled merchants, melted gold together with lead or iron, and burned down manor houses. Just hearing that Blackhart was coming was enough to send nobles fleeing and cause commoners to rise up.
It took several years but in AF411 (120 years ago) Blackhart’s forces crossed the bridge and began assaulting Lisell. The Lisellan Army fought bravely against Blackhart, and their fortifications held for months, but eventually the walls were breached. Most of the riches of Lisell were destroyed in the ensuing months.
The conflict came to a head when Duncan Starling, a gnome wizard from Lakan, attacked Blackhart on the Bridge to Hefarn. The battle lasted for days, but Duncan was able to defeat Blackhart. When the half-mad leader died, the spell he had used to create a frenzy in the common folk was broken. The people looked around and had only vague memories of the events after they heard the name Blackhart.
The Great Migration
Hundreds of thousands of commoners were displaced by Blackhart’s War. Many of them had marched hundreds of miles from their home, across unfamiliar lands. When the creature that called itself Blackhart was destroyed, many of those people had no idea where home was. They wandered, searching, but most of them never found their way back, and instead settled where they grew tired and ran out of food. Many stayed in Lisell. Much of the wealth of Lisell was destroyed, but most of its infrastructure was still intact. But with so many new residents, there just wasn’t room. Many people camped on the bridges leading out of the city until they could figure out where to go. Eventually those tent settlements grew and started building. In 20 years, the population of Lisell swelled from 30,000 to over 120,000, many of whom lived in ramshackle homes constructed on the bridges.
The Modern Era
Tensions grew between the people who lived on the bridges and those lucky enough to live on the island. The people on the longer, northern bridge were particularly scorned by the island dwellers, who called them bridge rats. In AF451 (80 years ago) the Bridge Act was signed by the Duke of Lisell. This act declared those who live on the bridges as non-citizen residents of Lisell, stripping them of their voting rights and right to representation.
The Duke’s Sword
In AF520 (11 years ago) mercenaries and pirates began to sail up the Mastic River and raid the relatively unprotected docks of Lisell. The outlaws would steal supplies and destroy fortifications almost at random. Lisell is the only river crossing that allows travellers and traders to cross the Mastic without travelling to the coast or to the High Plateau. Because of this, a large volume of goods pass through Lisell, both by land and by river. Securing and protecting traders is a large part of the Lisellan army’s mission so when raiders began hitting the docks, they responded in force.
The conflict with the raiders was a long, protracted engagement, spanning years. But the Lisellan Army was ultimately able to get a handle on the situation, in large part thanks to a group of brave soldiers known as the Duke’s Sword.
The Duke’s Sword was commanded by Sir Elgin Willis, a dwarven knight of the scepter. His second in command, Captain Baeren Torunn, was a brash and reckless soldier whose unconventional methods were viewed with scorn by many nobles and military officials.
Sir Willis was able to protect Baeren from much of the ire of the nobility, but in AF524 (7 years ago) when he was accused of rape by Emiil Oleander, the daughter of a prominent ore trader, there was little he could do. Many believed the accusations were false, but the civilian court was swayed by pressure from the girl’s father, Koat Oleander and Basil Doglow, a wealthy merchant. The final blow was delivered by a public condemnation issued by Contessa Renna Silverlace of Bridgehammer, who demanded he be stripped of rank and executed for his crimes.
Sir Willis intervened and convinced the tribunal to exile him instead, which they did.
The Rat’s Club
The exile of Baeren Torunn created a great deal of civil unrest among the bridge rats. Many viewed Baeren and his exploits as a true hero of the common people and thought that the trial and his subsequent exile was engineered to demoralize the bridge residents, who had steadily been gaining power for the past decade. A group of bridge rats, who called themselves the Rat’s Club, began defacing civic property and creating civil unrest in Baeren’s name.
Duke Faenos Braivian, the current ruler of Lisell, issued a proclamation formally stripping Baeren Torunn of all rank and demanding that he be brought to the capital to stand trial for high treason. The decree sparked a revolt among the bridge residents. They attacked nobles who travelled onto the bridge and established a blockade on the northern bridge, turning travelling caravans away, shutting down trade on the entire continent for months.
After several months, a deal was struck between the nobility and the common folk, allowing them limited voting rights and representation in parliament. In a symbolic demonstration of compromise, in AF530 (1 year ago), Baeren Torunn was court marshalled in absentia. The jury, which was composed of 7 commoners, 4 merchants, and 3 nobles unanimously found him guilty of dereliction of duty and dishonorably discharged him from the Lisellan Army but found him not guilty of high treason.