Hool Marsh Protectorate

The Hool Marshes have long been both a boon and bane to the people of Keoland. The vast expanse, produced by the confluence of the Javan and Hool rivers, is primarily a trackless marsh filled with too many dangers to settle and civilize. And while the marshes are most notable for their bottomless bogs, tribes of lizardmen, and countless monsters, the natural terrain has also protected the southern border of the kingdom from widespread invasion from the south for centuries.

King Tavish the Great was the first to march around these marshlands to conquer the wilderness between the Hellfurnaces and Jeklea Bay (now called the Hold of the Sea Princes). Until the 3rd Century, these lands were controlled by isolated Suel brigands (based at Port Toli) and largely inhabited by Flan and humanoid tribes. The new Keoish conquerors changed all this. Tavish I established the port of Monmurg in 301 CY and set about cultivating the central lands between the Hool River and the Azure Coast. After abolishing slavery in these new territories, he ordered built the fortress city of Westkeep (304 CY) in order to shield the central lands from incursions from the swamp and facilitate widespread settlement of the south. The rise of the Sea Princes in the following century (434-453 CY) proved fateful to the Keoish efforts in this quarter, and these lands eventually fell to the usurpers under the reign of Tavish III. His ill-fated attempt to regain the lands from the pirates resulted in the Siege of Westkeep (453 CY). Over the ensuing decades following this debacle, the border of the Kingdom of Keoland slowly retreated northward to the Dreadwood, where it remained until very recently.

Tavish IV attempted to guard the kingdom’s southern frontier with the marshes by constructing a chain of small forts in the 460s CY, but most of these edifices have long since been abandoned as indefensible, save Bale Keep near the border with Salinmoor. The marshes themselves remained a formidable barrier, effectively separating the kingdom from the dissolute hold of the Sea Princes. Conflicts between the two nations were restricted to the sea. Some years ago, however, the notorious wizard Baltron of Linth was banished by the Throne of the Lion to the marshes, and he took one of these abandoned forts near the heart of the swamp for himself. A magical catastrophe that later destroyed the mage resulted in the eerie glowing green beacon that can be seen for miles and still bears his name. Secretive cults are now thought to have taken residence in this part of the marshes, many of them drawn to the malevolent light.

In 590 CY, after years of internal conflict in the Scarlet Brotherhood-controlled Hold of the Sea Princes finally weakened that realm, forces of the King of Keoland recaptured the fortress city of Westkeep. This effectively stretched the kingdom’s southern border to the banks of the Javan for the first time in more than a century. Now fully a third of the Hool Marshes fall within Keoland’s claim, though this is a tentative one at best, given the dangers of the interior marshes. Westkeep, with its high warding walls, has been made the capital of a military government which directly serves the Throne of the Lion. King Skotti’s generals in Westkeep rely on naval support for reinforcements and supplies. Keoish warships now regularly patrol the great meanders of the Javan, between the Yeomanry and the Azure Coast. However, any efforts to secure anything more than the fringes of the marshes have been met with swift resistance from its denizens.

Source: Gary Holian, ‘The Kingdom of Keoland’, Living Greyhawk Journal, Spring, 591 CY September, 2000

Hool Marsh Protectorate

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