Rise of the Northern Star
No one in the North can survive alone. To the tribes that formed the Haslanti League, however, rule by distant lords and impersonal laws meant slavery. Their confederation seeks a balance between the power of a unified state and the intimacy and immediacy of tribal life. After 200
years of improvisation and muddling through, the League has solidified and grown enough to become a major power in the North.
Four centuries ago, the Haslanti people consisted of three related tribes of nomads that lived around the eastern end of the White Sea. The Haslanesh bands followed the herds of mammoth that they hunted. The Haslanahsa herded reindeer. The Haslanosha herded elk. They all worshiped
the Bear Woman, Arvida of the Crescent Eye, Goddess of 99 Forms, who forbade them to build towns.
In RY 404, the Immaculate Order began a Wyld Hunt that ended with Arvida’s death in RY
412. The shock of losing their deity plunged the Haslan tribes into chaos and despair. Chiefs, shamans and whole bands sold themselves to the Fair Folk, to small gods or to Exalted, destroyed themselves in senseless vendettas or surrendered to the madness of the Wyld. Some believe the
savage, mute barbarians called the hushed ones descend from one such Wyld-maddened band.
Eventually, some bands settled in the comparatively warm and fertile valleys called greenfields, and built villages (though they called them “camps” to avoid the lingering stigma of town-dwelling). Tuskstad, Windcreche, Fort Bear and Icehome—known collectively as the Four Camps—emerged as centers of trade between tribes, bands and foreigners. The Guild encouraged this trend. These merchants traded steel weapons, tools and foreign luxuries for ivory, timber, woolen cloth, furs and leather. They taught the greenfield settlers to farm as well as graze their herds. They also bade the Haslan to mine the North for gems and metals. Whenever the Haslan balked at such a change to their livelihood, the Guild brought in slaves… or mercenaries.The Haslan hated their masters and learned to fight back. They could not defeat
the Guild’s mercenaries, but they could launch guerilla raids. More importantly perhaps, they could simply retreat into the Northern wilderness where the Guild could not find them. The tundra and taiga were theirs. Soon, so was the Great Ice beyond the White Sea. A shaman’s dreamquest called a group of Haslan to a long-forbidden cave on the north shore of the White
Sea. There, the explorers found a wonder: a First Age ship on metal runners, built to skate on ice. The tribe copied the design. Iceboats carried the rebellion throughout the Haslan tribes until the Guild was secure only in the Four Camps. In RY 580, talking eagles visited the chiefs and shamans of 40 Haslan bands. The eagles called them to an ancient and broken beacon of the First Age that overlooked the White Sea. At the Lighthouse of Twisted Stone, the leaders found Gerd Marrow-Eater, He challenged, fought and defeated the greatest champions of the Haslan, but killed none. He took only the tip of each warrior’s little finger on the left hand as token of his victory. Having established his credentials, Gerd called the chiefs to a conclave. He pointed out that the Haslan people outnumbered the Guildsmen more than 100 to one. Why
should they not rule their own lands? If the tribes fought as one, they could defeat any invader. Then Gerd delivered a final astonishment by refusing the chiefs who hailed him as
their king and god. He would not rule them. Three times he would lead them in battle, but the final victory would be their own. The Haslan would seize their own destiny and live as they chose, taking whatever elements they wanted from civilization and tribal life. In three days of spirited argument, the chiefs forged a covenant to unite the three Haslan tribes into one Haslanti nation. As Gerd promised, he led them three times to conquer Tuskstad, Fort Bear
and Windcreche. By RY 583, the Haslanti were ready to attack Icehome. Gerd helped the chiefs devise a battle-plan but departed before the attack. The Haslanti took Icehome after 12 days of fierce fighting, and 12 chiefs died in commanding the Haslanti horde. The surviving, victorious chiefs found Gerd waiting for them atop the Guild’s fortress. The Lunar spoke:“You lost 12 chiefs, and so your nation will always have 12 chiefs to sit in council and judgment. As long as you talk everything out before you fight, everything you can see from here, and more, shall belong to the League of the Haslanti forever.” And then, Gerd Marrow-Eater became an eagle and
Of course, the emergence of a powerful new nation in the North upset many established powers.
The Scarlet Empress shrewdly judged that her legions would not do well in the icy Northlands. Instead, she sent a large contingent of Immaculate monks. She hoped that killing the Lunar Anathema and defeating patron gods would throw the Haslanti into disarray as Arvida’s death had done, making the Haslanti an easy conquest. Yet, although the Immaculates freed many nearby tribes from burdensome obligations to local gods, they never found Gerd and the effort failed. The freed tribes responded by joining the League. The Immaculate Order has conducted several Haslanti crusades, converting few while provoking great irritation at the Realm. The Guild tried to cut the new League off from trade with other Northern states, notably Cherak and Gethamane.
In this way, the Guild’s leaders hoped to force the Haslanti to accept the Guild as middlemen. The Guild actually managed to create a war between the League and Gethamane. Both sides found the war singularly futile, as neither could harm the other in any way. Indeed, the Guild suffered most from the loss of Gethamane’s warehouse facilities during the years of the war. A new threat appeared inn RY 674. For reasons that remain unknown, long-lasting Wyld storms wandered across Haslanti territory. Where these Wyldfogs passed, new islands
appeared in the White Sea and others vanished. Winds carried entire farms hundreds of miles from their old locations. Weird new plants and animals appeared. Whole bands simply vanished. Several Lunar Exalted came to the League’s aid by dispersing Wyldfogs. The Lunar called Flintbeak Nightingale dispersed the last Wyldfog in RY 726, just five miles from Icehome. The League also made important new discoveries. The war with Gethamane spurred the Haslanti to build the first
of their famous air boats, based in part on another First Age model. What’s more, explorers on the Great Ice followed songlines back to the ruins of Tzatli. The Haslanti League is still growing and developing. Its
people believe they have no limits.