The Kingdom of the Hidden Valley of Rohnion was one of the few High elven kingdoms that remained in Zarhuy after the Age of Invasions -along with Vanilion, Thilien (which became effectively part of Vanilion) and Nortolon-. In part, the continuity of the existence of Rohnion was thanks to the isolated location in a large valley, surrounded by high mountain ranges with few, difficult mountain passes. The defense and fortification of these paths and a politic of isolation -as well, distance from the main trade routes of Zarhuy-, resulted in a kingdom cut from the rest of Aiers, with only sporadic relations with Nortolon, their immediate neighbours that watched the more accessible, eastern mountain paths.
The Three Remaining High Elf Kingdoms in ZarhuyEdit
Rohnion was the third remaining kingdom of the High elves founded in Zarhuy. Whereas the first, Vanilion was blessed with large and productive territory, open ocean access, international trade and fame, and geographic protection, and the second, Nortolon defended itself despite relative poverty and few natural defenses by being inclusive towards its people and the activities of its Nortolon Rangers, Rhonion defended itself via its walls of high mountains and maintaining great secrecy.
The Hidden kingdom of Rohnion is contained in an enclosed, large valley, surrounded on all sides by mountains: crossed by the Rohnion river, this drained from the valley to the ocean across a cavern, cut between cliffs: this is known as the Rohnion Pass in the east, being the only other access to the west, the Nortolon Pass, crossing the high mountains.
Due to its natural isolation, for long Rohnion will be unpopulated by the Peoples of Aiers, with sporadic settlements of wandering bands of Goblins that crossed the high mountain paths, and some flying peoples as Harpy(ies) and the Car'Haad.
Foundation of Rohnion, Kingdom of the Exiled Edit
During the Age of High Elven Imperialism in Zarhuy, High Elven explorers trying to explore what was believed to be a solid mountain range discovered access to the valley: The explorers reported it to the king of the High Elven Haer Antorian kingdom of Aranië: it was a tightly kept secret, and when Aranië was attacked by the antorian High Elven kingdom of Dalath, forcing the Aranië king to exile, he will escape with his closest supporters and family to the secret valley the rangers had discovered, founding the Kingdom of Rhonion:
Formally still recognizing the authority of the Emperor of the Elves, the newly founded Rohnion kingdom secured the mountain paths to enclose it, proceeding to ethnic cleanse the valley of the presence of goblins and orc bands, and making an alliance with the Car'Haad, the eagle peoples kept at bay the harpies, overseeing the mountain paths in exchange of tributes and constructions -the "nests"- that the High elves built for them.
Hiding in Rohnion, the King of Aranië hoped to return and recover his kingdom from Dalath, so they kept a secret presence and contacts with the outside world:
Hidden in their valley, they will see the High Elven kingdoms and colonies of Antor fall one after another: Aranië, Dalath, Nann and Arwa, without providing official support, as the bitter king preferred the elven realms to fall as they were of usurpers, rather than to try to save them -however, Rohnion individuals did provide support, especially to the Nortolon.
Despite its enclosure, Rohnion as well will face challenges during the Age of Invasions: Duergar of Odenberg tried to settle a Dwarf Fortress: while at first was attempted a diplomatic solution, the dwarves continuation of violation of tree cutting quotas finally broke the elven-dwarven relations, and the Dwarf Fortress was destroyed, but died in battle King Haer, assuming the throne his nephew as king Olin I.
Early in Olin I reign, as well, some wandering orc, goblins and Kanov bands did get to the borders of the kingdom, and some inclusive reached the valley of Rohnion before their destruction: to keep the secrets, in all these occasions, the Rohnion elves exterminated up to the last survivor, to keep the secret:
as they saw the elven world collapsing everywhere, threatened, Olin I ordered the kingdom to completely cut ties to the outer world.
The Hidden Kingdom Edit
During the long reign of Olin I, Rohnion will remain completely closed up from the rest of the world, with the only exception of the allied Car'Haad, that helped to keep the secrecy of the Hidden Kingdom. While the realm prospered, Olin I kept with an iron grip the seclusion of the kingdom. Among the religious classes began to be teach that all but in Rohnion the elves have fallen, enslaved or captured, and that they were the last bulkwark of elvenkind, and as such, only the mountains, isolation and secrecy kept them safe from invaders:
However, during the years of Olin I, they will still face menaces from outside, not only imagined by Olin I and his courtesans: Dragons arrived each few years, imposing a reign of terror and fire until they were vanquished.
The Opening Edit
Since the last years of Olin I, there was an increasing feeling of malcontent against the seclusion of the realm, and often some adventurers -proclaimed rebels- tried to leave the mountains, to explore beyond their contained world, being prosecuted by the king and his court.
Aside of the raids of the great dragons, the population had prospered and expanded, but some feared, beyond the capabilities of the Hidden Valley to sustain.
When king Olin II assumed the throne, there was hope that he would end the seclusion of the realm, as he was perceived a reformer. But doubtful, Olin II wasn't determined to act, and the situation would spiral down to a low level civil war in the early reign of Olin II, who finally had to step forward to try to reinstate the peace: a costly peace, as the once prosperous realm had its economy now in ruins, and more a survival economy than a luxury one.
A compromise was reached: the secret was to be kept, but some selected rangers and explorers, chosen by the king himself, would be able to leave the realm to explore what was the situation of Aiers. And so, the Rangers of Rhonion will leave the hidden kingdom for the first time in centuries:
To the east, there was found only tribes and kingdoms of Kanov, and in the mountains to the south, goblins, Ogres, Harpy(ies) and dragons. To the north, were the Duergar of Odenberg, and Rohnion remembered their dwarven-elven wars. Only to the west there were promises:
Despite what the Rohnions believed, there was still hold-outs of the former High Elven realms, as Nortolon.
Slowly, timidly, Rohnion will contact Nortolon, and while keeping their secrecy and the keys to their mountain paths, barring access to any foreigner, the Nortolon Rangers will become part of the Secret of the Hidden Kingdom.
In exchange for keeping the secrecy and a limited trade -trade conducted by Rohnion elves, as no foreigner could enter the Hidden Valley, or if they did so, they couldn't ever leave-, Rohnion Rangers will support Nortolon in their active defense, and as well found and help build fortifications, as Nortolon was to be the gate to Rohnion.
This brought unseen prosperity for Nortolon, as well some Rohnion elves were allowed by royal decree to settle down in Nortolon -mostly masons, craftelves and artisans, allowed to leave by Olin II to help build further defenses in the Nortolon Pass, and in the defenses of Nortolon. The trade -even if limited- and less pressure on the limited arable lands in the Hidden Valley due to a limited emigration, while it wasn't numerically very important, it gave an important morale boost to the High Elves of Rohnion, which recuperated as well positively in their economy.
However, the presence of the Rohnion elves, despite the secrecy, made rumours to begin to run, rumours of a hidden, prosperous and rich high elven kingdom, hidden in the mountains of Zarhuy: and after such rumours, many adventurers of all races and species decided to try to discover the secret, for their own goals:
Nortolon, as gate of the Pass to Rohnion, would face new invasions from the steppes of Antor. Dragons began to cross the mountains to the Hidden Valley more frequently, the duergar of Odenberg began to move, remembering a lost Odenberg colony and expedition, wondering about their destiny: and despite the watch of the mountain paths, a Goblin Army, crossing the mountain paths thought to be impenetrable, will be able to reach Rohnion: and while defeated, the secret was more and more endangered...
The Fall Edit
The Republic of Rhonion Edit
Rohnion sees its mountains as high and thick walls, being the secret of the access in the difficult mountain passes their main defense: it had little need for a large military, but maintained heavy infantry for internal defense and guarding the mountain passes and secrets of the kingdom. Aside of this larger force, there was a small elite force of rangers, the most trusted of their agents who wouldn't reveal the secret, who operated beyond the borders of the Hidden Kingdom to gain intelligence beyond the mountains.
Rohnion is located in the eastern Zarhuy mountains in a large mountain valley. It is a small kingdom overall, with perhaps less arable land than Nortolon and certainly Vanilion. The people live by growing highland crops, raising sheep for meat, or fishing in the mountain lakes, rivers and streams.
There is a great deal of wood available and fresh water. The mountains provided an abundance of mining opportunities for metals. However, other than perhaps trade with the relatively neighboring High elf kingdom of Nortolon, the use of such metals is almost entirely self contained. Rohnion is highly isolationist and does not seek out trade, except, perhaps, with Nortolon for some products they didn't have available in their Mountain Valley.
Speculation: With all the available water and potential energy from mountain run-off, and circumstantial evidence of technical prowess, one might wonder if waterwheels abound? This might allow not just the grinding of grain, but use of water driven mechanization in other industries, such as conveyers, elevators up and down towers and cliffs, automated hammers for steel work, or stone breaking or facing? Also, canals might also be common?
Buildings and CultureEdit
With the highlands and mountains, it is certain that the people make cities of stone and perhaps homes and halls of wood. The High elves living here are believed to be cultured and highly skilled, in part because the High elf Belád Bonceduil, a native of the High elf Empire of Whide Axis in Ushaenor was content to live in Rohnion for many years, even starting a family, something that he never did in the many cities he lived in Ushaenor.
One might speculate that Rohnion is therefore technically minded and has reduced themes of magic supremacy and rules against technology as Belád Bonceduil has dealt with in the past in societies in Ushaenor? Additionally, it is known that Rhonion metal smiths and armorers do indeed make innovations in their crafts. However, Belád Bonceduil did abandon this high elf society as well, perhaps because of the restrictions on travel and general isolationism? From a conversation with his daughter Sarinee Bonceduil, the people were indeed close minded in some ways.
It is probable that the culture of Rohnion appealed to Belád Bonceduil for a time as it was free in some ways, but soured on him as it was, again, too restrictive in others? Its overall isolationism and a close mindedness might make it a decadent kingdom overall, although hard working and skilled citizens might make it seem appealing for a time? Unfortunately, this is all rather speculative, based only on a few clues in the story of the White Hermit Belád Bonceduil.
Speculation: One possibility is that the High elves of Rohnion might have combined an ancient magic tradition with science and technical capabilities? This has some similarities to the 'Grey Elves' of "Advanced Dungeons and Dragons 2nd Edition". As far as the world of Aiers is concerned, a culture that combined two disciplines that have diverged and have slowly torn the internal culture of the High elves of the 'elf continent of Ushaenor apart would probably greatly interest Belád Bonceduil for some time. His disappointment coming from Rohnion being a hermit kingdom that advanced too slowly due to its small size and isolationism?
The promise of Rohnion perhaps being an empty gift as the kingdom was too small and fearful to ever reach openly outside its mountains? Let alone to ever send a delegation to Ushaenor? Likewise, the High elves of Ushaenor being too disdainful to care about some lost colony that combined teachings that turned divergent in the Empire of Whide Axis? Both High elf cultures being too proud?
Comparisons with AD&D Grey ElvesEdit
The isolated, mountain culture is highly suggestive of the theme of the "Grey Elves" of "Advanced Dungeons and Dragons". In which such elves are extremely highly capable architects and artisans making mountain cities and towers out of stone in a beautiful way, but are also isolationists, who strictly guard the entrances to their mountain cities and meadows. Grey elves also have flying knights who ride griffins or hippogriffs into battle or patrols over their mountain passes. They are also a somber people who seem to be a slowly dying culture. The AD&D Grey Elves and the Rohnion High Elves are very similar in these ways.
Learning and Self ImageEdit
Other possible similarities are the Grey Elf belief--although false--that they are the remaining "true" elves, who still hold onto ancient culture and traditions. If AD&D High Elves see themselves as the spiritual parents standing over other elves, than the Grey Elves see themselves as the 'Grand parents'. Physically, they are taller and thinner than the other race types, with even their name of "Grey Elves" somewhat derisively referring to their silver or light blonde hair, or the white stones they make their towers and cities from, or the white of the parchments they constantly handle.
The AD&D Grey Elves' arrogance, be it somewhat justified, is also evidenced by their love of books and learning. In AD&D 2nd edition, they are considered the greatest elven wizards with the most extensive of general knowledge, but who are also the most capable of scientific research and treatises. How similar AD&D Grey Elves and the Rohnion High Elves of Aiers have in common is a bit speculative. But the Rohnion High Elves did indeed come to believe for a time that they were the only remaining High Elf culture, at least outside of Ushaenor, with an almost religious level of belief. Their Rohnion valley refuge becoming a prison in which their spirits turned inward. It's unknown if they are particularly great mages, particularly as compared to the mages of 'The Wizards of the Coast' of Dahl'Haran, but they might have developed very good technical sciences, particularly engineering.
Government and SocietyEdit
One probable distinction between AD&D Grey Elves and the Rohnion High Elves of Aiers is that the AD&D Grey Elves have a small, yet very stratified society of royalty and nobles, merchants, and servants and lesser servants. The lower rungs of the society actually made up of elves who are not grey elves at all.
A highly stratified society is probably something in common with AD&D Grey Elves and Rohnion High Elves. However, the AD&D Grey Elves rule over 'lesser elves' as servants, this is certainly not the case with the High Elves of Rohnion, who askew all other peoples, even elves from living amongst them with very few exceptions of high elf immigrants.
AD&D Grey Elves have a monarchy with a powerful parliament of nobles, this has some clear similarities to the Rohnion High Elves. Lower merchant classes would likely be replaced with those of technical engineers, architects, and crafts-elves. There is always a need for servants and farmers in any medieval type society, even in a medieval fantasy setting. But the enclosed and isolated nature of the society would reduce the need for armies of the working class, especially with a speculation of water automation? In any event, in Rohnion. farming, manual labor and service is performed by lower class Rohnion Elves, not other people.
The land of Thilien is a good example of High Elves who use the service of 'lesser, fallen elves'.
Deep Isolation but RelationshipsEdit
Remaining Connection between High ElvesEdit
Naturally, because of its secrecy, very little is known of Rohnion. Such is its secrecy and isolation in the eastern mountains of Zarhuy that perhaps none of its potential enemies even know that it exists. The fellow High elven kingdom of Nortolon is aware of its presence, but there is little regular interaction. Rohnion engages in some trade and make some payment for the Nortolon kingdom for their information and protection of the western passes in the mountains.
The principal product of Rohnion is the smelting high quality iron ingots and raw steel for trade to Nortolon. It was much lighter to carry over difficult mountain passes than iron ore, and would reveal less of the kingdom than trading finished goods.
Emigration to NortolonEdit
A 'safety valve' to prevent the population of Rohnion from outgrowing its environment, or perhaps more importantly, to allow those with 'wanderlust' to leave, emigration to Nortolon is allowed. This reduces internal disputes in the hermit kingdom, it also gives Nortolon an infusion of High Elves of education and skills which helps Nortolon maintain its technical sophistication, buildings, fortifications, and defense forces. Emigrations of talented elves, and the secret trade, is beneficial to the economy as well.
Rohnion also benefits in getting rare goods that they have no internal access to, and the kingdom of Nortolon serves as their gatekeepers, and a 'lightning rod' that gets struck by foes that might otherwise find their way to Rohnion.
In Nortolon, the trade between them and Rohnion, and even the new immigrants from Rohnion are considered secret. The immigrants officially coming from elsewhere, such as fanciful enclaves from Thilien or Vanilion. The secret resources and technical and military aid coming from Rohnion is a sort of 'secret weapon' that the often beleaguered Nortolon state is happy to keep secret. But such a secret is impossible to truly keep, hence legends and rumors of a secret kingdom in the mountains are commonplace, but the Nortolon government denies all knowledge, and helps to maintain the secret.
It is known that Rohnion has their own cadre of rangers that patrol their kingdom and surrounding mountains, but also leave the kingdom altogether. Interactions between the rangers of the two kingdoms of Rohnion and Nortolon are inevitable, and they cooperate with each other, and that Nortolon might well train and inform the Rohnion rangers of the outside world? Rohnion rangers might well explore and keep informed of events to the Kanov east, and lands north of Antor, the Nortolon and Vanilii rangers having the plains of Antor well patrolled.
It would actually make some good sense why a Rohnion Ranger would willingly and deliberately bring Belád Bonceduil into Rohnion, despite that being a great taboo on the face of it. Bonceduil was not just a High Elf from Ushaenor, but had lived in many different cities there, his stories would have been a great and fascinating intelligence coup of the 'elf continent' of Ushaenor and the remaining Empire of Whide Axis as well as of the continent of Aels and the Human nations there, and the Dark Legion of Demons.
Also, it has been established from the White Hermit Belád Bonceduil back story that a postal service somehow operates whereas messages come and go from the hidden kingdom. The best way of explaining this would be via a network of various Blazakhov outposts and other trading posts as stations and the Nortolon Rangers as agents to deliver such mail. Probably being delivered to Rohnion rangers.
Given that many inhabitants of Rohnion have immigrated to Nortolon, and perhaps elsewhere, it is not so strange that such a message service exists, despite the security threat that it might represent.
The Lost KingdomEdit
Other than Nortolon, which made an obvious ally and partner, Rohnion was only a legend or rumor to most orcs, dwarfs and humans, and that's just how the high elves of that lost kingdom liked it. Elves who came and went from the kingdom would swear to maintain the secrecy of the kingdom, especially not to reveal details or mountain passes. Very few elves are allowed to come and go, only High elves at that, only the Rohnion rangers had an ability to come and go in round trips, with sporadic permission given to Rohnion nationals so as to aid Nortolon. Rohnion maintained its secrecy as if it was as great a resource as the surrounding mountains, and far more expendable. Its rangers would kill anyone who entered into the great mountain valley without permission.