The northwestern region of Atla is known as the land of castles. The Province of Bedrin is home to a greater number of castles than any other region on Atla. For thousands of years great kingdoms have risen and fallen in the high mountains, low valleys, and along the cliffs of the Morrid Sound. The province is the third least populous (not counting Sed) and is home to the third largest port in the nation, Morrid.
The capital city of Bedrin is unique among provincial capitals. To begin with, the provincial offices are not located in the actual capital; rather, they are all in the largest city of the province, Morrid. Further, King Antony Bedrin XVIII is the ruler of the province in title alone. Though his kingdom still controls the city of Bedrin itself and subjects in the city are under his immediate rule, his authority does not extend beyond the moors and hills of the city proper. Instead, provincial rulers are elected every five years to maintain the province, spending their tenure working in the capital offices of Morrid.
The Province of Bedrin is thought to be the oldest province in the nation and the home to the first Altans. Historical records suggest the first people to reach Atla arrived approximately 40,000 PM. The first brave explorers are thought to have crossed the Atlan Sea after leaving the island of Gaia (one of the few islands east of the Inner Ring). Though no written records remain (if they existed at all; many anthropologists don’t believe written records existed prior to 15,000 PM), enough pottery fragments, tools, bones, and crude dwellings have been excavated to provide a panoramic, albeit indistinct history. It is thought that the first inhabitants fled Gaia, leaving behind most of their belongings. To support this theory, evidence shows that the first major settlement in the region was actually Bedrin, not Morrid, Hesiod, or Renoa, all of which are younger than Bedrin itself. That the immigrants spent weeks and likely months walking the pine forests of the northern province, then through the moors, valleys, and mountains around Bedrin to find a permanent home in one of the most naturally fortified areas in the region can only mean they traveled out of fear, not curiosity.
For approximately 30,000 years after the first people settled in what is today the City of Bedrin the population of area grew very slowly. It’s hard to determine the total population of a given region over a specific period of time, but best estimates have the population, originally somewhere between 100-200, growing by 10 per year for thousands of years. It wasn’t until closer to 10,000 PM that the population of the entire province exceeded 50,000. Further, while the people of Far Haven and Feron were beginning to cultivate the land and change from hunting and gathering to widespread farming, the people of Bedrin progressed little in comparison. Due to the number of deer, elk, and moose remains throughout the region it has been posited that the people raised herds of semi-domesticated animals and followed their migrations each season. As a result, very few permanent dwellings were constructed during this time. Though some communities flourished (especially along the coast), most of the people remained nomadic until a few thousand years before the Age of Castles.
Seemingly without reason there was a minor technological explosion during the last few centuries of 10,000 PM. From farming methods to building techniques, the people adopted all of the advancements common to Feron and Far Haven almost overnight. As a result the population increased dramatically, with villages and towns springing to life across the region. There is no concrete evidence to suggest what caused the general epiphany, as records show only life after the unknown event, completely omitting information about life prior to it.
By the end of 10,000 PM the people of the region were building what can be considered the first true castles. For nearly 1,000 years the people grew from nomadic ranchers to city builders, and from city builders to the rulers of great kingdoms. And during that 1,000 year period the buildings changed from incredibly crude rock huts to towering stone structures capable of housing dozens of people. The first languages of the region were also born during this time, along with the first religious texts and myths.
After the sudden renaissance and 1,000 years of prosperity the people inhabiting modern Bedrin City left their homes and abandoned the castles. It is unclear where they went and why they left. Most believe the people were absorbed in the nearby cities, integrating without any problems. However, that does little to explain why they left. Early myths from the region suggest that, whatever had plagued the people tens of thousands of years before had returned. Whether this meant a physical entity, a disease, or a change in ideology is impossible to guess unless more records are discovered.
Bedrin City was empty for almost 500 years. Then, around 9,500 PM, three individual families resettled in the area. The Tenor, Amon, and Bedrin families each occupied a different area of the city and returned the region to its former prosperity (reclaiming the existing structures and adding their own in the process). However, 100 years after resettling the area, the native people fled. Both the Tenor and Amon clans deserted their respective castles and surrounding villages, the entire population making an exodus out of the valley. It was said that an angel visited the ruling kings of the two families to warn and guide the people. The angel spoke of the Bedrin clan’s sins, their callousness before the gods, and their secret plans to overthrow the two other families. In essence, the Bedrin’s were supposed sinners without hope and were plotting the destruction of everyone in the city. Both the Tenors and Amons fled, settling in what is now Morrid. At the time Morrid was a small city of fishermen and women. When the Tenors and Amons arrived the city experienced a period of dramatic growth and prosperity. Though the Bedrin records agreed that the Tenor and Amon families fled the valley around 9,500 PM, their reasoning differs. According to Bedrin records, the Tenors and Amons had corrupted the true religion and were straying farther and farther from the wishes of the gods. Despite acknowledging hostilities and problems between the families, the Bedrin record does not state what the final impetus for the move might have been.
The Tenor and Amon families found peace in Morrid for the first decade after their departure. But by the end of the decade the Bedrin family, in an attempt to put an end to the heretical practices of their former allies, attacked the city. The first battle was largely just for show and resulted in little loss of life—their aim was to prove that the gods favored them and would not allow infidels to continue polluting the true religion.
Battles between the three families continued for several years after the initial assault. These battles were very different from what Atlans think of war today. The two forces would gather troops and supplies throughout the year and meet in an appointed location once a year to wage a battle. Whichever side retreated, was eliminated, or lost interest and laid down their arms was declared the loser for the year. Other than keeping the populating from growing even larger, the battles had little effect on either side’s moral, mentality, or beliefs. The battles did have an effect on the three families, though not in the way one might suspect. After seasons of fighting together against the Bedrins, rifts developed between the Tenor and Amon armies, eventually growing wide enough to end their cooperation and companionship. Not more than a dozen years into the so called war, the Amon family left Morrid, eventually settling on the northern edge of the Morrid Sound.
Over the following decades the three rival families grew to dominate their geographic areas and developed the largest kingdoms of the period, all while continuing to fight each other. Due to the vast distances and rough terrain separating the three nations the wars were less full-scale military battles and more acts of sabotage and subterfuge, including sinking enemy ships, tainting enemy crops, and spreading insidious rumors or lies.
One major battle put an end to the decades of halfhearted hostilities. Sometime around 9,350 PM the three nations met in the glacial valley above Morrid. It is unclear how the battle was contrived; what is clear is that all three sides took part. Tens of thousands of soldiers were killed and half of Morrid city was burned to the ground (though this was an unintentional result of the widespread fighting). The population of each city was cut in half and the steady progress each nation had made reached a sudden end. After the major battle all three nations faced years of relative darkness; poverty, crime, disease, and violence became the norm. This period of darkness lasted for more than 1,000 years before people once again began to develop their respective cities. But by this time the Bedrin, Tenor, and Amon families had all but vanished, their unbridled hatred buried with their corpses.
The Tenor, Amon, and Bedrin kingdoms were not the only kingdoms inhabiting the region during this time. Though they were the three largest until their eventual downfall, smaller kingdoms dotted the entire area. Some existed peacefully, others were always at war, while other still sought to expand their borders and develop great nations. Though the rest of the province continued to grow and expand during the 1,000 years of darkness, they did so much more slowly than before. Most kingdoms were completely independent from one another. However, trade, even between the most isolated areas, was common. When the three largest kingdoms were left desolate the other kingdoms struggled to maintain their diverse trade relations. Like parents abandoning their children, the rest of the kingdoms who relied on the three great nations for their own trade and assistance, found it difficult to maintain the same quality of life. Nevertheless, growth continued, albeit at a slower and less dramatic rate. And for the next several thousand years more great kingdoms rose and fell. With the unification of Atla the age of castles and kingdoms came to an end, the only remaining connection to the past the city of Bedrin and the ruins across the province.