The Province of Rochenoire has been in the Valier family for generations.
Rochenoire is full of rolling hills and rocky valleys. Strategically important because it lies near the border and is midway between the two great citadels of Valiant and Vigilant, it saw a number of pitched battles, several sieges and dozens of skirmishes during The Last War. After being given as a fief to Arnaud ir Valier in 953 YK it has remained in the family ever since.
It consists of a keep (Blackrock) and an associated town (pop 5-6000) of the same name; three Shires (Rocheux, Chimère and Queso) each with its own small town.
Each Shire is made up of three Ridings, each of which is attached to a Manor either held in fee by a knight or administered by a seneschal. Each Riding is made up of many districts or “Hundreds” which are typified by a cluster of lands worked by a feudal village (2/3rds) or a Holding or Stedding (about a third).
Manors are typically run by a knight who may have a squire or two and a handful of men at arms, and may be responsible for a number of farmsteads.
Holdings are peasant cooperatives which specialise in crop farming, animal husbandry, viteculture or forestry.
Rochenoire is a demense which lies halfway between Ghalt in Aundair and Morningerst in Thrane.
History and Landscape
Rochenoire has the bad fortune to lie mid way between the Towers Valiant and Vigilant and was often the site of many probing attacks, chevauchees and intrigues during the Last War. Two other keeps (Pentegrise and Surveiller) which once guarded the frontier in the province were reduced by siege and abandoned years before Rochenoire was built. Most of its core construction was begun and completed during the truce between Thrane and Aundair in the early 970s YK (with a grant funded by Queen Barvette Ir’Wynarn), but it has seen several significant upgrades to its defenses and size since.
The craggy hilltops are home to ancient stone altars of Goblin origin and a number of crumbling border watchtowers which once formed a line between Valiant and Vigilant. The rocky valleys are oft the site of damp, old limestone caves which served in antiquity as the homes of primitive Goblin tribes – and during the Last War became the sites of secret caches, points of rendezvous between agents, and smugglers’ dens. These days, if they haven’t been sealed, they are probably Hill Giant colonies or bandit haunts.
The rolling hills are mostly under cultivation by the Kragyar, an independent minded people of human stock that pay scant homage to the Barony.
To the East lies The Gauntlet, a once fertile land made fell by the constant conflict of the Last War. To the West, on the border with the province of Ghalt, lies the Crying Fields, a haunted plain that was the site of many major battles with Thrane. In the North, near Chimere, lays a blighted region known as The Scar. The Scar extends from the ruins of Old Chimere all the way across the hills to about 7 or 8 miles north of the ruins of Surveiller.
The military strength of Rochenoire has been severely depleted by decades of war and famine. In terms of both population and defenses, the province is under strength.
Each of the three Shires has a professional militia of about 30-50 deployed between their town and the various watchtowers.
Rochenoire Keep has no knights at present but it does have five sergeants at arms and a five score men at arms. The town has a further 100 militia.
The peasant holdings and villages contribute a levy which trains every Sunday under the watchful eye of the veterans living among them to remain proficient in weapons. If mustered, they could amount to as many as 15-20,000 troops. Such an undertaking places considerable strain on the treasury and takes weeks to coordinate.
All told Rochenoire’s standing forces includes 9-10 knights, a dozen sergeant at arms, 120-150 men at arms and 200-250 militia
Whilst the income from tax is relatively modest for the size of the demense, expenses are high and the disposable income depends on whether or not the harvest has been good, the produce can be sold at a reasonable rate at market in Fairhaven and other factors such as the amount of banditry.
On an average year, the estate is able to bank about 1500-2000 gold.
Corn (ie wheat and barley), goats, goat cheese, olives, wine, truffles and marble.
Game hunting is restricted mostly rabbits, hares, duck, pheasant and wild goats throughout most of the province, though there is also deer and boar. Two hunting lodges were built in the Eldritch Groves in the West and North West by Harrold DuValier in 961YK and 963YK respectively. The one in the North West quite luxurious. To the East, lie a further five hunting lodges, though two of them fall within The Gauntlet now.
The major religion in the demense is worship of the Sovereign Host, with Boldrei being particularly favoured. There is a chapel in the castle and a modest temple in the adjacent town.
There are two remote monasteries in the area though little is known about them.
As elsewhere in Aundair, when two neighbours come into conflict, tempers rise and blood will flow. In Rochenoire, it is the tradition among the lower classes to fight with fisticuffs till one combatant concedes or is knocked unconscious. Among the nobility, it is common to fight with blunted weapons or to tilt at each other. Trial by combat is not unheard of in Aundair.
Melthaias Othrennan – Seneschal of Rochenoire.