Brevoy is divided into two lands historically, culturally, and geographically. The vast Lake of Mists and Veils forms the northern border of Brevoy, bound in ice during the winter months, the domain of fishing vessels, merchant ships, and the pirates who prey upon them the rest of the year. The Awzera and East Sellen Rivers, along with the dark depths of the Gronzi Forest, divide the nation into north and south. The Golushkin Mountains south of Port Ice mark the western border, while the Icerime Peaks to the east form a barrier with the old lands of Iobaria beyond.
The northern half of Brevoy, Issia, is a broken expanse of rugged, rocky hills stretching between the bordering mountain ranges of the Icerime Peaks and the Golushkin Mountains, with the lone peak of Mount Veshka rising in its midst. Small, windswept scrub and spiky grasses are all that grow in the rocky soil, save for in small, painstakingly tended plots and in some of the more fertile areas long the lakeshore (which must deal instead with storm surges, floods, and other hazards of equal concern). The mountains offer plentiful stone for quarrying and building, and occasional veins of metals and precious stones for mining, although the locals are generally poor at mining.
Issia first came into existence when explorers from Taldor came across a disease-ravaged frontier colony of the ancient Iobarian empire. The area that came to be known as Issia was too barren to allow true agriculture so the inhabitants turned to raiding to support themselves. Issia became renowned as a land of river pirates and other such scoundrels with the center of raiding activity being the boisterous Port Ice. Despite Issia being a nation of raiders and pirates it was relatively stable, being ruled by House Surtova for the last thousand years of its existence. House Surtova ruled by virtue of being the most cunning of all the river pirates and by beating the resistance out of all who would oppose them.
When Choral the Conqueror came to the region in 4499 AR and laid waste to the nation of Rostland to the south, House Surtova surrendered, deferring to him and the self-proclaimed nobility of House Rovargia. As a result, Issia survived the transition into the new nation of Brevoy far better than Rostland did. Their surrender also allowed House Surtova to ingratiate itself into the new regime more easily, eventually allowing it to gain control of Brevoy after every member of House Rovargia within Brevoy’s borders mysteriously disappeared, leaving behind a power vacuum in the capitol of New Stetven.
Compared to the land north of Lake Reykal, Rostland is a gentle and fertile place of grassy plains and rolling hills. Watered by the lake and rivers, Rostland’s soil is better suited for farming, and the mountains and forest help to blunt the worst of the storms that roll down off of the Lake of Mists and Veils. Still, Rostland is known for its chill winters and its long, slow, and muddy spring season. Rostland is relatively poor in minerals, so most construction is of wood, supplemented by local fieldstone. A few great structures, like the Ruby Fortress or the Bulwark of Gorum in New Stetven, are built with imported stone, but otherwise even the great manor houses are built mainly of wood.
Rostland was first inhabited by Taldan explorers in the latter half of the Age of Enthronement under the leadership of Baron Sirian First, a hotheaded, impulsive noble forced to emigrate from Taldor after losing one too many duels. When the fledgling colony suffered a number of brutal attacks from bandit lords to the south, First accepted the challenge of the ruling bandit lord—a duel for the future of the burgeoning settlement. Unable to best the bandit king, First paid his wager and disappeared, most assuming he was gone for good, too embarrassed to show his face after the defeat. Several years later, First returned a changed man.
Answering to the name Sirian Aldori , the “Sword Baron” challenged to bandit lord to a rematch and defeated him handily in seconds. He followed this with a standing offer of 100,000gp as a reward for any who could best him in a battle of blades. None could defeat him, whether through legitimate means or trickery and magic. At first, Aldori refused to teach any his techniques, but he eventually capitulated and began to train a select group of swordsmen under the condition that they each swore to change their name to Aldori and never teach their techniques to any outside the swordpact. These swordsmen became known as the Aldori swordlords. They ruled Rostland for generations, each as prickly and impulsive as the order’s founder.
In 4499 AR, the armies of Choral the Conqueror swept into Rostland, and despite a strong resistance mustered by the swordlords, the nation fell at the barbarian’s hand and at the talons of his red dragon servitors. The most memorable conflict between the Rostlandi and Choral’s armies is now known as the Valley of Fire, and somber songs of swordlord Estruan Aldori’s defeat remain a popular aspect of folk culture in Brevoy, the River Kingdoms, and Mendev. After annihilating the Rostlandi army, Choral’s red dragons turned their attention to Rostland itself, and initiated a brutal onslaught of fire and blood that brought the once-proud nation to its knees. In only a handful of days, the people of Rostland surrendered to their new ruler and his heirs in House Rogarvia.
Many Aldori swordlords fled Rostland under Choral’s rule, establishing a strong presence in the city of Mivon to the south, amid the River Kingdoms. Others fled to the Free City of Restov in the far south of Brevoy. The Aldori stronghold of Skywatch maintained the resistance even after the rest of Rostland had fallen, but even this seat of independent Aldori power was reduced to ashes by Choral and his dragons, eventually to be rebuilt by House Rogarvia.