The Castled Hills
Pronunciation: Kings val-ee
Term for People: Valleymen, Bannersmen
Names for Groups: Bands, Banners, Kingdoms, Orders
Masks: Gable Hood and Veil, Mummers masks, Helms, Coifs
Most Popular Event: Mummers’ Dance, Wassailing
Outside tribes say that the Lords of Kingsvalley outnumber the peasants – in truth, few of the so-called royals have any historic claim to a land or throne. Most are bands of brigands who pose as Knightly Orders and sequester themselves in old-world castles, demanding tithes from the valleymen or raiding the other dilapidated castles. The few True Kings and Queens of the Vale are lofty figures, mythic in scope; their Knights, Squires and Bannersmen the only proof of their existence beyond the tax collectors or Battles between Kingdoms. When Orders are not fighting one another or repelling Nvord raids, they are often competing in tournaments or forging shaky alliances for titles and honours, with the High King or Queen overseeing all.
Between this inter-castle politicking are the peasants, farmers, merchants and spellslingers living a harried existence, dodging raiders and trying to hide their crops. Hardy and proficient in defending themselves as a result, they are used to their lands changing allegiances from one week to the next, and their food supplies being regularly stolen. Miasma in Kingsvalley is transient in nature and a fertile land one year may be rendered completely untenable the next. Numerous are the old-world sanctuaries, now used to worship Providence by the well-fed, where ritual magic is viewed as an abhorrence. Quietly in the glades, Valleymen practice outlawed worship to Old Gods and conduct their rituals in secret, deepening their bond with their ancestral homes and encouraging the land to grow what may soon be taken anyway. The Valleymen often live more honourable lives than the knights looming in the hills above, but still there are the rare knights of valour that favour chivalry. Some who fight for their homes often become the next set of false-kings in high castles, and some Bannersmen become heroes. All it takes is a handful of soldiers, a mage, a metalsmith and a leader with an appetite for grandeur to turn a band of freedom fighters into legend.