A few of my upcoming stories that I hope to work on this year will deal with some political issues in the Midlands (this encompasses the Northern, Southern, and Outer Midlands). Allow me to set the stage:
The Northern Midlands as of early 708 CR are ruled by Duke Thomas Hassan who has recently wed. With the defeat of Nasoj, the breakup of his Lutin armies and his hold on the southern cities north of the Giant's Dike, the threat form the north has diminished to a level not seen in decades. How long this lasts remains to be seen. To the south, Thomas is building a firmer control and integration with the still unCursed lands that owe him allegiance. Alliances with Whales and now Sutthaivasse help keep up trade. New trade routes with the Outer Midlands are now also opening up. Things are relatively stable for Thomas.
The Southern Midlands are a different story entirely. The civil war of the previous year, though it cost little in terms of lives, cost a great deal in terms of the stability and authority that Duke Titian Verdane had heretofore enjoyed. Now his eldest son and chief heir is a hostage in Salinon, while the city of Bozojo has broken away and sword allegiance to Otakar of Salinon. This has significantly impaired his efforts to tax trade routes along the Marchbourne, as well as effectively cut him off from his northern fiefs such as Lanton which now exercise and practice even more independent-minded (and often reckless) schemes. The civil war revealed that many of his vassals are greedy and they can all see his weakness, a weakness he is going to be hard pressed to dispel with so many concurrent losses. His goal of uniting all the Midlands under his the rule of his house has been dashed for his lifetime and he knows it.
The Outer Midlands are under the rule of Duke Krisztov Otakar who is seeing his power wax. He successfully took advantage of the civil war in the Southern Midlands to entice Bozojo to swear fealty to him, giving him nearly unfettered access to the western trade routes along the Marchbourne river. Coupled with the advanced caravan system his people enjoy from their days of being under the tutelage of the Elves of Quenardya, it will not be long before fashions of Salinon begin to appear in Sathmore, Metamor, and even Whales. Financially secure, militarily and magically powerful, Duke Otakar's land is poised to continue to stretch its influence and institute a more Cenetli oriented culture amongst its outer fringes.
But what forces are at work that could change things going forward? I will list all the ones that I know of.
- The Refugees - The refugees flocking to Metamor are at first those of Bradanes, but soon, as word of the healing powers of the Curse spread, more and more outcast and physically ill will attempt the journey hoping to be restored to full health. This has the benefit of swelling the number of Duke Hassan's loyal citizenry, and consequently increasing the size of his army, and bringing in new trade as demand and merchants follow in their train, it also has the possibility of bringing traitors into Metamor's fold. It also will put a severe strain on food supplies in the short term.
- Joy's Legacy - The Mithril mine will take a few years to begin producing enough mithril that Thomas can begin taking financial advantage of it. I expect some will be used to try to buy some loyalty in Marigund, while much of the rest will go into enchanting magical devices as well as supplementing the royal treasury. Once in full production, Metamor Valley will be flush with more money than they will know what to do with, attracting the interest of many city states near their borders such as Ellcaran.
- Jaime Verdane - His captivity in Salinon has almost completely cut off trade between the Southern and Outer Midlands. Further, Duke Thomas has sworn he will do what he can to try and free Jaime from his imprisonment. What comes of this could dramatically alter the power structure between the three Dukes; it could precipitate a full scale war that nobody wants.
- the Ghost Horde - What happens when a Lutin tribe out of legend returns and unites the disparate tribes under their banner or tramples them under foot? What does this mean for the Giantdowns, for Metamor, or for the rest of the Midlands?
- The Wall - Sir William Dupré will soon begin laying the foundations for a vast wall on top of the Giant's Dike. It will take a very long time to complete, but the added security it will provide Metamor, as well as the necessary men to protect it and build it, will bring a lot of money as well as focus.
Those are the ideas I can think of right now. My long-term desire is to see the Midlands united at last under the throne of the Hassan family, but that will be a long time in coming and likely well beyond anything I will be able to write for Metamor. Nevertheless, what other factors do you my fellow readers and writers see taking place in the near future?