Galewyck's Bastion, a kingdom ruled by a mysterious circle of druids dedicated to guarding a hidden source of powerful, ancient magic.
In the year 49 AC, a human named Fellweather Galewyck arrived on Aetaltis from the Atlan homeworld. Joined by a small army of loyal mercenaries, he claimed a plot of land in a deep valley in the northwestern forests of the region that eventually became the Free Kingdoms. A scholar by trade and curious by nature, Galewyck established an academic retreat, a sort of monastery of knowledge, dedicated to providing a secluded environment for the pursuit of "the greater universal truths."
Over the next thirty years, his mercenaries fortified the site while Galewyck expanded the retreat. He added a library and scriptorium, lured other academics both from Aetaltis and beyond to join him, and even hosted an Aetaltan branch of a prestigious magical college from the Atlan homeworld.
Although the public explanation for the retreat’s remote location was a desire for solitude, Galewyck had another reason for his choice. Not far from the retreat, in the oldest part of the forest, was a cold, dark hollow. It was strangely difficult to find, and one was more likely to stumble upon it by chance than by design.
In the hollow stood a massive oak tree. Ancient and gnarled, it rose up out of the ground like thick fist, its bark black and its leaves a midnight green. Twisted branches wove together overhead creating a nearly impenetrable canopy, and the entire tree emanated powerful wild magic.
Finding the tree was only the first challenge, however, for a small tribe of fey also inhabited the hollow. The majority of the fey were sprites and fairies, but a few elves lived among them as well. They lived wild in the woods around the hollow, and if any sought to harm the tree they rose to defend it.
When Galewyck first encountered the fey, they let him pass unmolested. Although he did not intend to hurt the tree, he made no indication of his intentions. He never understood why they did not even approach him as they often did with others. They simply watched him from the trees, following in the shadows from the moment he entered the hollow until the moment he left.
Galewyck spent the majority of his time studying the tree (when he could find it), making notes, performing experiments, and working to unlock its secrets. He suspected it was more than just an enchanted plant, but rather a living embodiment of essence. In his later writings, he even speculated that it might be something even stranger—perhaps a doorway to another world.
Unfortunately, Galewyck never found a way to make money with his retreat. In time, his once prodigious fortune ran out, the unpaid mercenaries left, and his students moved on to more prosperous institutions. By his last days, in the year 85 AC, he lived almost completely alone in the huge, drafty fortress.
Too weak to travel to the hollow any longer, he spent his time in the library, poring over his notes and writing essays based on his work. That is until one cold winter morning, when he no longer had the strength to even rise from his bed.
On that bleak day, three strangers in dark green robes arrived at the door to Galewyck's keep. The lead figure reached out with a long, oaken staff, and tapped the keep's massive doors. With a thump and a creak, they opened to him. The three entered and navigated the keep's empty halls as if they were their own. They soon arrived at Galewyck's bedside.
Galewyck opened his eyes and looked at the strangers. "Who are you," he croaked, his voice soft and weak.
"We are your brothers. You are and always were one of us, although you did not know it," the lead man said.
The two other robed figures put their arms under Galewyck and gently raised him.
"Your work is done," the lead figure continued. "You've earned your rest. We will take you home and then we will take up your sickle. Your task will be ours."
"But this is my home," Galewyck said.
The three did not answer. Rather, they helped Galewyck into his cloak and hat and gloves. Then they lifted him from the bed, for he'd grown small and light in his age, and took him out of the room.
Into the forest they went, and Galewyck smiled, for it had been a long time since he'd seen the sky or felt the wind on his face. They took him deep into the woods, to the strange hollow where the mighty oak stood. With the fey gathered close around then, they set Galewyck down, his back against the tree.
"Goodnight, brother," they said to him before turning and leaving the hollow.
Those were the first druids to come to Galewyck's Bastion. Since that day, they've been the guardians of the forest, the hollow, and the ancient oak. When one druid becomes too old to continue their work, the mantle of Keeper is passed on to another.
Which brings us to the present day, the year 423 AC, when Maleil the Raven-Haired took up the silver sickle and inherited command of this strange kingdom. For centuries Galewyck's Bastion has taken a largely isolationist stance, although they did sign the compact of the Free Kingdoms. Whether that continues under the new Keeper remains to be seen.
Galewyck's Bastion is largely untamed forest and has a weak infrastructure. Transportation routes are dangerous and difficult to use. In fact, due to the forests thick undergrowth, much of it is impassable except on foot. With its focus on other matters, the kingdom maintains only the most rudimentary government programs and improvements. They have a loosely organized army that might be better described as a militia.
The kingdom's few government officials are passable at their jobs, and corruption isn't out of control. That said, they can still enact new economic policies quickly, and they adapt easily to sudden financial changes. The Bastion has established a few networks and resources that might be employed to strike at an enemy from afar, but it isn't a strength.
The people of the Bation are quite resilient and can overcome many of the hardships they experience. Most are healthy and recover from war, plague, or famine if given a little time.
Thanks to the scholarly roots of the Bastion, its people are very well-educated. Almost everyone knows how to read, and most are schooled in other areas as well, especially in matters of the natural world. Wizards in the land receive excellent training, and the population has an enlightened view of magic and the arcane.
The people of the Bastion have strong traditions rooted in druidism. Knowledge is systematically passed down from one generation to the next, providing the people with a rich store of wisdom to draw upon in times of need. They draw great strength from their faith and the gods smile upon them for their piety. They are also deeply respectful, perhaps even worshipful, of Aetaltis itself, which they believe is a living being like the Enaros.
The Bastion is known for demonstrating moments of great diplomatic acumen and has a good reputation among other kingdoms. It often comes out as one of the beneficiaries after engaging in critical diplomacy, and its network of alliances and relationships serve it well in times of crisis. Thanks to their library and scholarly nature, they maintain a good store of information on both enemies and allies giving them the upper hand in some types of negotiations.
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Art & Illustration
- Cartography by Nate Mangion