The History of the Bloodstone Lands
History of the Bloodstone Lands
For centuries, the story of the Bloodstone Lands was simply the story of Damara. The cold wastes of Vassa attracted little attention from scholars (or anyone else!) outside the mountainous barricades of the region. The people of Vassa gathered in scattered communities of hunters, trappers, and farmers, all pitifully poor and eking out a squalid, uninteresting existence. Damara, though, had a different tale to tell. This kingdom traces its noble lines back almost three centuries, to the time when Feldrin Bloodfeathers, the first king of Damara, founded Heliogabalus. Thereafter, his long, unbroken line of kindly heirs ruled Damara well, only ending with King Virden's death. Until the most recent generation, the kingdom was a force on par with Impiltur. Damara maintained strong trade relations with the city-states along the Moonsea and along all the reaches of the Sea of Fallen Stars. The narrow gap between Rawlins wood and the southern expanse of the Earthspurs is still known as Merchants Run, though few merchants use it today. At the height of Damara's glory, long caravans of merchants transported chalcedony down this pass to the fortress of Ilmwatch along the Easting Reach. They were welcomed and even protected by the legions of Impiltur. Fortified by brigades of Impilturian soldiers, the Damaran merchants then crossed through the Traders Bay region and into the great port of Sarshel. Ships from Thesk and all the nations floating vessels on the Sea of Fallen Stars met the merchants with open arms and open purses. A second trade route, shorter but more difficult, carried the precious stone through Bloodstone Pass, the only sensible trail through the mighty Galenas. From there, the stone went to points north and west. Because it crossed through the wilds of Vassa and through the Earthspur Mountains along Garumn's Climb, this route was not preferred. But Garumn's Climb has proven invaluable to Sembia and the city-states on the Moonsea, especially in times of heavy pirate activity, or on such occasions as when the Moonsea was cut off from the main waterway by a particularly nasty dragon turtle, as happened a few decades ago. The bloodstone was traded in bars, each measured at 25 gold pieces in value. The crest of a Damaran noble house marked every bar, and on the opposite side was the year in Damaran reckoning. Nearly 1,000,000 gold pieces worth of the stone was taken annually from the mines in the Galenas alone. Particularly rich was the small region surrounding Bloodstone Pass, aptly named the Barony of Bloodstone. This annual yield of raw wealth more than kept the interest of merchants and speculators, and therefore the craftsmen, farmers, and ordinary folk of Damara lived quite well. Further more, Damara had little to fear from its neighbors. Protected by imposing natural boundaries, with the noble houses united under the rule of a single well-accepted king, there was little cause for unrest. The king maintained an army only to protect the caravans, and to defend the outlying rural communities from bands of raiding goblins or other wretched creatures. Certainly, the scattered tribes of Vaasa could never unite or pose more than a marginal threat. Peace was the norm, and the expectation of future prosperity, obvious. Or so the Damarans thought. The merchants could never have guessed that the bloodstone bars would in time be called cursed money shunned by all outside the region for fear that it would bring to the user the same disastrous fate that befell Damara!