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Tobir--Arena 14

Tobir is a mid-sized port town located on a fine natural harbor, and much overseas trade passes through Aruak and the League through its merchant fleet. The Tobirans are known for their prowess as fishermen, and are a main source of seafood on Alastari's western coast. Unlike many Aruaki, the Tobirans do not fear the sea and are usually fine swimmers as well as sailors.

Tobir was one of the last Aruaki cities to be founded. Save for the Ducal family and the priests of Demnat, its population is largely of pure human stock, descended from the farmers and fishermen who inhabited the land before the ancestors of the Aruaki arrived. Of course, as the priests of Demnat consider it their sacred duty to spread the "gift of Demnat" to all his people, shapeshifter's blood had made its way into the general public by way of nobles' and priests' children. So far from the centers of Aruaki culture, the few shapechangers born to the common folk are looked on with fear and distrust more often than not, and a family which produces one is caught on the horns of a dilemma. On the one hand, their neighbors regard them as cursed by Demnat (who is, in the more rural areas of the kingdom, still considered an "outsider" god) and will certainly shun the child and possibly his relatives. On the other hand, the priests, eager to spread the wereblood, will reward any man or woman who sires or bears one handsomely. Very often the child is turned over to the local temple for raising as soon as it is weaned. Less often, it will be quietly exposed on a hillside--"Let Demnat take care of his own."

The Earls of Tobir are related to the Lords of Lyratilan through many generations of intermarriage, and both lines are known to be a little...odd, though the hereditary strangeness is not nearly so strong in Tobir and often skips generations. When it does appear, it produces heroes, wizards and madmen in equal proportions. It has been theorized that the reason for the peculiarities of the ruling family is that the magic which produced the lycanthropes of Lyratilan and the lyanthropes of the other Aruaki cities does not mix well.

The arena in Tobir was opened under strange and mysterious circumstances. Some years ago a dragon made its way down from the Daggerspine Mountains and did what dragons usually do--killed sheep, cattle and the occasional child, plus any peasants foolish enough to attack it armed only with pitchforks and axes. After a month or so of this, the Earl's son Merriorh rode out to do battle with the beast. (An idiotic thing to do alone, but he was the Earl's son and no one could dissuade him.) He disappeared utterly; though his trail was followed to an area where the grass was torn, there was no sign of him or his horse. It was widely assumed that the dragon had taken him, though there were no burn marks or clawprints, and there were too many tall trees near for a beast of such size to have made a successful swooping attack.

The Earl's Champion, Solvent, gathered the knights of Tobir together to slay the dragon. The group tracked the beast to its lair, but the Earl, Emmorion the Sombre, then forbade Solvent to attempt the kill. Claiming that neither Solvent nor the knights were skilled or brave enough to tackle the dragon, he publicly humiliated Solvent. The Earl then declared that he would open an arena wherein he would train warriors who WOULD be brave and skilled enough to kill a dragon. Solvent resigned his post and became the Arenamaster of the new arena.

Even now, years later, mysteries remain. The dragon lurked for many years somewhere in the foothills east of Tobir. (The dragon was eventually killed; see back issues of the Tobir and Zukal newsletters for details.) Solvent and Emmorion remained mortal enemies to the end of their days, but no one has ever found out exactly why the Earl forbade Solvent to kill the dragon when he had it cornered, or exactly what happened to the Earl's son. Anxious to protect the good reputation of Aruak while the Andorian League was forming, Clanlord Rylian Olharin in Aruak City made sure the whole thing was hushed up. Even so, rumors of the Earl's connections with the monarch of Lyratilan, and the mad arena constructed in that city at about the same time, abounded. Though scholars for the most part claim that his son's death simply drove the Earl mad with grief, it might be noted that Solvent ordered demonbane runes carved over every door in the arena as soon as he took charge of it...

The current Earl, Lorivan Torres Dellon of Dellon, is the great-grandson of Merriorh's younger sister. He is a slight, bookish young man with the typical Aruaki golden eyes and fair hair that betrays the admixture of Narsh Untur blood in his family tree. His amiability covers considerable stubbornness, and he is rather cleverer at manipulating people than his advisors think he is. Naturally a diffident and thoughtful young man, Lorivan has of necessity become adept at Aruaki politics. In an effort to restore the shapeshifting gift to the ruling Dellon line, Lorivan's father arranged with the local temple to sire a child upon one of the female priests, Hirrivan Arten of Dellon (for some reason in current generations, the Dellon gift has appeared mainly in females.) Lorivan did not inherit his mother's gift, but hopes are high that his children will. Since he is the last of the ruling family of Clan Dellon, the Temple has been pressuring Lorivan to marry a suitable wife and pass along his valuable genes. The Olharin, Desshian and Vaill are also maneuvering to marry him off to suitable maidens of their own clans and thus take over control of Dellon lands. However, to date, Lorivan has rejected all proposed brides. Lorivan has a real concern about the deep rift between shapeshifters and true-humans in his realm, and has his own plans for marriage. It is his own desire to find a true-human wife, and so improve the relations between the true-human and Aruaki inhabitants of Tobir Hold.

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Published on: 2002-07-14 (1342 reads)

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