Founded just shy of two hundred years ago, House Durwald was born of a scandal. House Zarovet, one of the Houses of the relatively-newly settled Three-Rivers, rose up against the Wardens of Three-Rivers, House Kylevrus, seeking to seize that wardenship for themselves. However, the Zarovet schemes were revealed by one of their bannermen, a knight by the name of Sir Rigmund Durwald. Although it meant betraying his oath of fealty to the Zarovets, the treachery was stopped and a grateful House Kylevrus raised the Durwalds to House status, splitting the old Zarovet domain between the Durwalds and the innocent survivors of House Zarovet, organized into House Filendus.
In more recent history, the consort of Lady Gemma Durwald rained glory down on House Durwald through the founding of Gatewatch Academy, a school of military tactics and commander's training. Even today, many knights, commanders of House forces, and others with the sponsorship to attend are taught the tactical brilliance of Ludogranz Durwald. Although he died ten years ago, House and academy still continue to run strong, thanks to talented family and loved ones who uphold his vision even today.
Domain: Coast, Hills, Water (River)
At the mouth of the Peakesriver, where it flows into the Bay of Lances, House Durwald has been given a modest parcel of land as their domain. Although it is smaller than the portion allotted to House Filendus, it is arguably richer land, prime vineyard country and a river mouth that could conceivably serve as a trading port at some point in the future. For the moment, however, these lands – green with the many vineyards of the domain – are home to a few small hamlets, the largest of which, Hounds Peak, is home to both Durwald Hall and Gatewatch Academy.
- Vineyards & Winery: Food Agriculture Wealth Holding • Alcohol Distillery Improvement. Although the southernmost Peakesriver valley's soil isn't great for the growing of most crops, it is very nearly the perfect soil-and-sun types for the growing of grapes. All of its hamlets maintain extensive vineyards, and House Durwald maintains several wineries around the domain as well. These wineries serve as estate manors in the hamlets. (House Fortune +1, Resource Gain: Pop +2, Pow +1, Wealth +1; Spring, Summer, Autumn only)
- Houndsreach Festivals: Seasonal Festivals Wealth Holding. House Durwald maintains four annual festivals. (Members of House gain +1B to intrigues with House subjects)
- The Winter Hunt: Taking place in the Splendid Lumination of the Winter Moon, culminating in Mantlemas, the Winter Hunt is a Houndsreach tradition with a history that dates back to the hunts favored by Sir Rigmund and his cohort. Nobles gather in Rigmundus, and celebrate with much drinking and a hunt into the Æfingwood; the one who brings down the most magnificent stag is crowned Master of the Hunt, including a playful crown which must be returned and given to next year's winner. Commonfolk are also given license to hunt within the small woodlands within Houndsreach itself, and may also fish its waters. Hunted food is apportioned up (generally half to one's own household, and half to another, less successful or poorer household) for winter stores, and House Durwald sends a handcask of wine to each household in their villages.
Seat of House Durwald • Hamlet
Hounds Peak is the small hamlet that serves as the seat of House Durwald. A sharply rising outcropping sticks out a bit over the Peakesriver, with row after row of grape trellises marking the rise in the land, and Durwald Hall at the top of the rise. At the base of the rise sits the Gatewatch Academy military academy, and spread out from that is the small collection of buildings that form Hounds Peak hamlet proper. As the main trading outlet in Durwald territory, Hounds Peak has an inn and a few taverns, as well as some craftfolk, but by and large its folk are like those in the other Durwald hamlets, working in either fields or winery.
- Durwald Hall: Originally a simple stone tower on the rise above the hamlet, it was expanded with a wooden hall about three generations ago. Between the hall and the cliffs are a pair of gardens: the Lady's Garden, grown for its beauty and serenity, and the Kitchen Gardens, where food and herbs are grown for the hall's use. In front of the hall is a large stables, and a small handful of other outbuildings.
- Gatewatch Academy: Military Academy (Broad Training) Wealth Holding. x (Manage Resources House Action: Wealth to Power 1:1; units that lose abilities due to Warfare damage reduce amount lost by 1; add fourth ability to a unit's abilities)
- Archpeak Winery: The smallest of the Durwald wineries also makes the finest of its vintages. The red grapes grown here are used to make both Archpeak's Finest, a deep red bottled wine known all the way to Crownhold and beyond. Another breed of red grape make Peakesriver Claret, a sweet, dark red bottled claret the color of rubies.
The tall sea-cliffs of Feindrholt overlook the crashing waves of the Bay of Lances quite a distance below the hamlet. Feindrholt has a half-ring of old wrightfolk barrows that define one of its edges, and many of its folk have the wrightfolk look to them, although most of them live as any Imperial citizenry do.
- Reeve: Master Eldfrith Mason. Master Eldfrith is the head of one of two notable wrightfolk families in Feindrholt who alternate acting as reeves for the small settlement. Eldfrith is a stonemason in the Imperial style.
- Seacliff Winery: Producing both white and reds, Seacliff's vineyards are not yet particularly mature, nor their wines refined. At the moment, Seacliff mostly provides table wines for many folk in the region. They are named simply Seacliff Red and Seacliff White. Both are casked, rather than bottled.
The northern-most Durwald hamlet was named for Sir Rigmund, who built a hunting lodge in the area which gave him access to the nearby Æfingwood, a small local woodland where he favored hunting. Though the wood is not technically part of the Durwald domain, the House has long held hunting rights within it, although they are not the only House in the area to do so.
- Reeve: Sir Mathau Cimbry. A knight much advanced in years, Sir Mathau has served House Durwald since his days as a squire to Lord Arovet Durwald, the father of Lady Gemma. Always enjoying nothing so well as a good hunt, Sir Mathau was granted reeve-ship of Rigmundus to allow him something of a retirement in his twilight years. He lives alone in the manor (called "the Woodlodge") at Rigmundus, his wife passed away over a decade ago, and his children married off or in service as knights to Warden and Crown.
- Woodlodge Winery: The Durwald winery here produces an excellent red vintage. The red is said to be an excellent base for basting venison, which is plentiful in the Æfingwood. The fine red bottled here is called Huntman's Red, while the winery also makes a slightly plainer Woodlodge Red that is sold in casks for cooking and less refined tables.
- Other Characters: Belsian Mavry, chamberlain at Woodlodge. Winda Cook, cook at Woodlodge.
- Sir Ruvand Durwald: Commander of the Durwald Garrison.
- Sir Vericus Valentus: Commander of the Academy Guard.
- Veteran • Garrison: Awareness 2, Endurance 2, Fighting 2, Healing 2 • Defense [Agl+Ath+Awr], Health [Endx3] • GEAR • Discipline Dif 0 (6 outside Houndsreach), Power Cost 7
The troops trained to defend Houndsreach and Durwald Hall. They are trained in Awareness, Endurance, Fighting, and Healing.
- Veteran • Infantry. Athletics 2, Awareness 2, Endurance 2, Fighting 2 • Defense [Agl+Ath+Awr], Health [Endx3] • GEAR • Discipline Dif 3, Power Cost 9
Part of the academy's upper class includes service as part of the Durwald forces in times of trouble, to the extent that some of them have simply remained at the Academy, prepared to defend it and House Durwald if called upon to do so. They are trained in Athletics, Awareness, Endurance, and Fighting.
Members of the House
|Lady Gemma Durwald|
Head of House (Status 4) • 55 years
|Sir Ruvand Durwald|
Brother of the Lady (Status 3) • Castellan and Master-at-Arms • 50 years
The younger brother of Lady Gemma, Ruvand never married, spending most of his adult life with his Sworn Companion Deimos. He is a household knight who commands the garrison and acts as Castellan during Summer Court.
|Worthy Sir Nyle Caeden|
Father of the Heir (Status 3) • 27 years
Heir of House (Status 3) • 8 years
The son of Vaenda and Sir Nyle, Idoren is a spry boy who is quite mature for his age. Idoren shows promise with the blade and excellent manners, and believes himself quite ready for the Coronet.
Heir's Sister • 4 years
Considered fey and somewhat unnerving by some Vaenya is a pale, golden doll of a child who the servants claim "has golden eyes that see too much." Though she clearly understands everyone around her, Vaenya does not speak. Because of the circumstances around her birth, Vaenya was born unheralded, and is ineligible to inherit Durwald titles or lands.
Younger Sister of the Lady • 48 years
The younger sister of Lady Gemma and Sir Ruvand, Calepsa married Yrcantis of House Endicastre, whose domain is Iraessia, across the river from Houndsreach. The happy mistress of a small fishing village, Calepsa has a gaggle of children and grand-children, and loves nothing more than taking a quick boat trip across the water to see her sister and kin.
Sworn Companions & Cousins
|Dame Ysthre Raugynn|
Sworn Companion of Lady Gemma Durwald (Status 3) • 55 years
The younger sister of the lord of House Raugynn, Ysthre and Gemma have known one another from the time they were girls, having met as Gemma accompanied her father and brother on the tourney circuit. Gemma was there when Ysthre first rode in a tourney (a Raugynn celebration of the firstborn heir's birth), and the two girls became intimate friends afterwards. They remained close, even after Gemma married Ludogranz, until both were 19. With the death of Gemma's mother and the mounting threat from House Filendus, Ysthre promised to protect Gemma and never leave her side, leaving her brother's House to become Gemma's Sworn Companion.
Sworn Companion of Ruvand Durwald • 45 years
A dancer who met Ruvand many years ago in Crownhold, Deimos has been Ruvand's Sworn Companion for most of both of their adult lives. Deimos has no formal role within the House, although he is happy to pitch in on any task that needs an extra hand. He is particularly good at organizing celebrations and fetes, and often informally helps to organize the seasonal festivals at Houndsreach.
Cousin of the Heir • 19 years
The child of Deimos Cliburn and the Academy blacksmith Gerta Smith.
Cousin of the Heir • 16 years
The second child of Deimos Cliburn and Gerta Smith, Taemra is about to achieve her journeyman status as a smith at her mother's forge.
The Dearly Departed
- Ludogranz Durwald: Consort of the Lady (Deceased). A fourth son of House Stannum in Three-Rivers, Ludogranz was a renowned general and military tactician. He served as a household Knight in the court of Lord Kylervus, the Warden of Three-Rivers, and won great renown there. He married Gemma as a young man, serving as her consort. A mere year after he left Lord Kylervus's court, the Warden contacted him about continuing the duties of training his soldiers, this time at Houndsreach instead of the Warden's keep. Within a few years, this service led to the founding of Gatewatch Academy, which continues to this day.
- Vaenda Durwald: Heir of House Durwald (Deceased). A favorite beauty of the Summer Courts, Vaenda was quite well suited to inherit House Durwald. Popular among the other nobles, married to a notable knight-sophiste, Vaenda's myriad contacts and connections throughout the Houses of the Crowndom seemed as though they might enable her to propel her House to new heights of renown and power in time. Sadly, that time never came – she died in childbirth only recently.
Retainers of the House
|Sir Mathau Cimbry|
Reeve of Rigimundus • 77 years
A knight much advanced in years, Sir Mathau has served House Durwald since his days as a squire to Lord Arovet Durwald, the father of Lady Gemma. Always enjoying nothing so well as a good hunt, Sir Mathau was granted reeve-ship of Rigmundus to allow him something of a retirement in his twilight years. He lives alone in the manor (called "the Woodlodge") at Rigmundus, his wife passed away over a decade ago, and his children married off or in service as knights to Warden and Crown.
|Holy Sir Vericus Valentus|
Commander of Gatewatch Academy & Durwald Forces • 55 years
Formerly the Sworn Companion of Ludogranz Durwald, Sir Vericus now oversees the Gatewatch Academy and acts as commander of the Durwald forces.
Holy Sir Vericus's Squire • 17 years
The secondborn son of the Stannum Head. Gryff usually has a serious demeanor, but seems very happy to be in Houndsreach and not Dunhill. He enjoys his wine a little too much, and has a badly-disguised crush on Kyuso Selwy.
Academy Smith • 41 years
A wrightfolk smith, Gerta runs the smithy for the Academy. She is stalwart and not given to words, and has something of a temper: it is said that she is a firm believer that "hammer and fire" can deal with any problems she faces, in work or in life.
Sir Ruvald's Squire • 17 years
Kyuso is a boisterous boy fond of fighting and riding. He is also an excellently trained young man, gracious in the courtly arts, with a joyful dignity to his bearing. His courtly graces still come across as a mantle that he dons, rather than something natural to him, but it's a mantle he wears well when he does so. Kyuso is very devoted to Sir Ruvald, and has basically grown up with Ruvald and Deimos's family.
Sir Nyle's Squire • 13 years
House Tyvremist is a small Steel Mountains House best known for the quality of their wool. In recent generations, though, they have begun cultivating rare herbs from the rich but treacherous alpine vales there, and Wentzle's ability to speak at length on the topic drew Sir Nyle's attention during Summer Court in 518 CR. By the end of Summer Court, Nyle offered to allow Wentlze to squire for him, and the boy leapt at the opportunity, never having been far from his mountainous home. Wentzle is young, but already shows the broad frame of the mountain Houses. He is also a deft hand at the dying and weaving of woolen fibres, and has enjoyed showing off his skill at tapestry-weaving to Lady Gemma and her handmaidens. Though usually stoic, Wentzle is sometimes prone to bursts of passion and anger, though Nyle hopes this is just a sign of youth that can be brought to heel.
Master Vintner • 32 years
With the death of old Master Caedfyr four years ago, Yaren became the new vintner for House Durwald. He spent a long time apprenticed to Caedfyr, and House Durwald even sent him to other vintners on his journeyman years. Yaren takes great pride in his work, and has settled into his role well.
|Xaphelle Endicastre |
Handmaiden • 14 years
Xaphelle is the youngest daughter of Gemma's sister, Calepsa Endicastre. The young girl is very dutiful (except when it comes time to do her history work), and is quite protective of her aunt's time and dignity.
Handmaiden • 9 years
The daughter of a Greensward House, Amesta's grandmother Linestia served with Lady Gemma as handmaidens together in the Warden of Three-River's court (Linestia is originally from a Three-Rivers House). Their friendship has continued over the years and distance, and as soon as Amesta was old enough to serve as a handmaiden, Linestia sent her to Houndsreach. The girl is quiet but very much loves being close to the waters of both river and sea.
Ward • 10 (?) years
Wyrta is known to some of the commonfolk as "the witch's boy." He was found by Sir Vericus and Dame Ysthre in a clearing with a galgalynn tree and the remains of his mother. His command of Imperial is halting, though he speaks Folkish quite fluently.
Servants of the House
|Findall Morlynn |
Chamberlain • 44 years
Usually quiet, Findall is an excellent overseer of the household when everything is running smoothly and as expected. He can sometimes give into a bit of a hysterical panic when the unexpected occurs, although he is good at only letting the other servants see this part of him. Still, his organizational skills and his eye for good servants when hiring has kept him his position for many years now.
|Byunda Keeper |
Housekeeper • 52 years
The wrightfolk housekeeper Byunda runs her household with the efficiency of a good forge: orderly, precisely, and energetically, with a minimum of fuss or complaint tolerated. She speaks in something of a very low voice when interacting with the nobility, seemingly having difficulty meeting their eyes. She has sometimes had to be chastised for being too inclined to corporal discipline when it comes to lazy or clumsy servants, though.
Cook • 58 years
Haemma comes from a long line of cooks in service to the Crown itself, she insists, with the barest suggestion that work in a small place like this is rather a favor she is doing. If her cooking weren't easily some of the finest to be found in Three-Rivers, such airs would almost surely not be tolerated. Fortunately, those aren't airs she puts on around nobles very often, saving her imperious contempt for her fellow servants and the occasional hapless retainer who catches her in a foul mood. She dearly loves children, however, and is constantly sneaking them sweets and pastries.
Groom • 23 years
Jory used to serve as a stablehand in the Durwald stables, and has worked his way up to the position of groom, which he took on when the old groom passed away two years ago. No one knows the ins and outs of the stables like Jory does, and he has a way with horses. He is still a bit nervous around the nobles, not used to addressing them directly, but has been working with Findall at improving his manners.
- 330 CR: House Durwald is founded by Sir Rigimund Durwald, and his wife Kalenda.
- 463 CR: Vericus Valentus is born to Tullus and Circia Valentus, of the House of Stannum. Vericus's grandfather is the Sworn Companion of Halcam Stannum, Head of Household.
- 464 CR: Ludogranz Stannum is born to Harian and Siani Stannum.
- 465 CR: Gemma is born to Xinesta and Arovet Durwald. She is a sickly babe, and the House was fearful she might die at any time for several years.
- 469 CR: Ruvand is born to Xinesta and Arovet Durwald. Unlike Gemma, he is a healthy lad, and grows quick and strong.
- 480 CR: Caesmyr Filendus becomes Lord of House Filendus, and petitions House Durwald for Gemma's hand in marriage. Her father Arovet begins discussion with the stronger House Filendus, but her mother Xinesta refuses to consider Caesmyr, whom she considers grasping and spoiled.
- 481 CR: Gemma and Ludogranz are wed quickly by Xinesta's scheming, while Arovet is still in negotiations with House Filendus. In a fury, Caesmyr Filendus invents an excuse to declare vendetta against House Durwald. This begins six years of border skirmishes between the Houses.
- 484 CR: During Summer Court, Xinesta is killed, drowned in a reflecting fountain. Rumors suggest that House Filendus is responsible. In the ensuing chaos, Ysthre swears to protect Gemma and becomes her Sworn Companion.
- 487 CR: Arovet is killed in a border skirmish. The Warden steps in and calls an end to the vendetta. Gemma becomes Lady of House Durwald.
- 491 CR: Vaenda is born to Gemma and Ludogranz Durwald.
- 504 CR: Ludogranz receives a royal commission to establish his military academy.
- 509 CR: Ludogranz is called away from Summer Court to tend to some academy business, but along the way he and his small party are attacked and killed by thieves.
- 511 CR: Vaenda gives birth to Idoren, though the labor is a hard one.
- 515 CR: Vaenda dies in childbirth bearing Vaenya.
- 519 CR: Present Day