While modern man will remember the war between Lord Chancellor Sturm Galkmeer and Lord Audwin Ernmund as The Battle of Baldairn Motte, it was not the first, nor the greatest, battle to be fought there. Indeed, the motte-and-bailey ruins of Baldairn Motte, which persevere nearly a thousand years after the keep’s demise, stand testament to the power and dominion of the ancient Kingdom of Baelda and the calamitous war that took place to bring the mightiest of kingdoms known to man to its knees.
The first people known to inhabit the lands surrounding Baldairn Motte were the Green People, the Fairie. By all accounts, they were a peaceful folk, small in stature and content to live a modest life within the confines of the woodland areas now known as the White Hills. But the tribes of Baeldans came, some legends say from the west, others say from the eastern sea itself to land upon the ancient shores of North Port in their slender, single-sail ships. From wherever they arrived, they spread like blight, from the River Ordan to the mountains in the north, from the eastern sea to the desert wastelands far west of Baardol. For a thousand years the Baeldan chieftains fought amongst each other for control of the land, all the while ravishing the villages and lands of the Green People, making slaves of what Green People they captured, and treating their own common folk little better.
Baer Half-axe rose from the chaos, mightiest of the Baeldan chiefs and their first true king. With his small army, known as Baer’s Fist, he brought all the other chieftains under his dominion. He chose a lone hill in the plains as the site for his capital and thus began the construction of Baldairn Motte, a fortress that took some seventy years to build and was not completed until the rein of Baer Half-axe’s grandson, Baer the Cruel. Under Baer the Cruel’s rule, the common folk were ruled with an iron fist, forced into slavery to work in the fields, quarries and the gemstone mines from whence the Kingdom drew its wealth. And so it went for another three generations, the Baeldan kings gaining more power and the common folk becoming Thralls. Of the Green People, few remained. Some perhaps lived in solitude in the deep places of the forests and others fled to the far north beyond the mountains, but most had been killed and the rest had become enslaved with the Thralls, their bloodlines intermixing.
According to the folk legends of Thurmwood, it was one of these Thralls of mixed blood who triggered the downfall of Baelda: Jael, the Amber Maiden. Jael was little more than a child when she won the heart of Garen, a Thrall who worked the emerald mines in the White Hills, but she was already well known and well loved in the surrounding villages. By some accounts, she was a gifted medicine woman who helped those in need. By other accounts, she was simply a joyful lass whose innocence and cheer warmed the hearts of those in her company.
With time Garen proved his love and loyalty to Jael and the two were betrothed, but poor Garen’s heart was not content. The knowledge that their union was destined to be one of pain and servitude must have swayed young Garen’s heart, for when he came upon a great jewel in the mines, he stole it away to give to Jael rather than turn it over to his lord. It was his gift to her, one he hoped would convince her to run away with him and grant them a new life beyond the borders of the kingdom. Jael would not leave her people, and fear and mistrust grew amongst the villagers. By whispered rumors and betrayal amongst his own kin, Garen’s deed was found out.
Baldairn Motte is the focus of the mosaic fantasy novel, The Roads to Baldairn Motte. The novel, written by Garrett Calcaterra, Ahimsa Kerp, and Craig Comer takes on three different viewpoints of the same epic confrontation.