Overview

Onnwal is located on the Dragonshead Peninsula that separates the vast Azure Sea from the Sea of Gearnat and Relmor Bay. Its major city (and capital) Scant is strategically located to control the Gearnat Straits and all the trade that passes through that 150-mile wide channel. To the east, it is bounded by the Headlands inhabited by clans of Dwur, Noniz, and Hobniz, and even a few Flan hillmen. The Free City of Irongate (itself an old imperial fortress-town) controls the few routes through the almost impassable Headlands into Onnwal, isolating the realm from the rest of the continent.

Prior to the Greyhawk Wars, Onnwal had been independent since the Turmoil Between Crowns and the Battle of a Thousand Banners (447 CY), which led to the lifting of the siege of Irongate. Its navy, operating in conjunction with that of Nyrond, safeguarded it from the threats of the Pirates of the Pomarj (based in Blue) and the warships of the South Province (operating from the Imperial port of Prymp). Since independence Onnwal had never suffered a full-scale invasion of its territory, being subject only to sporadic raids from the Herzogs of the South Province.

Onnwal fell almost overnight to the machinations of the Scarlet Brotherhood, a victim of its own complacency.

Prehistory

Prior to the Great Migrations brought about by the cataclysmic war between the ancient Suel and Bakluni empires thousands of miles to the west, primarily nomadic Flan tribesmen inhabited the “Dragonshead”. Ancient Flan legends speak of an elder time when their ancestors struggled against a forgotten enemy for control of the peninsula.

In some places on and near the coasts of Onnwal, strange and convoluted ruins can be found. Regarded as curiosities by the vast majority of the population, several scholars and academics have studied them without success. As to the identity of this foe the legends are silent. Other myths tell of Great Wyrms that supposedly lived in the Headlands, devouring any who entered their domains.

At around the time that the Flan struggled with their ancient enemy for supremacy, in the fertile lowlands of the peninsula the Dwur and Noniz were engaged in their own struggle for dominance against the goblinoids of the Headlands. Although ultimately victorious, the demi-humans (particularly the Noniz) would never again be numerous on the Dragonshead.

The Twin Cataclysms

The first newcomers to the peninsula were several small clans of stoutish Hobniz pushed aside from their traditional homes to the north by successive waves of migrating Suel and Oeridians. Hardy folk, and much like the Dwur in their outlook, they were welcomed by the Dwur and allowed to settle in the northern portion of the Headlands.

The conflicts raging to the east and north affected the folk of the peninsula little in the early years following the Twin Cataclysms. The Headlands (and their inhabitants) barred passage to the peninsula and few to the north had the inclination (or time) to construct enough vessels to allow wholesale migrations south. However, a Suel tribe known as the Onnwi did make the perilous sea voyage from what is now known as the Pomarj. Discovering the Dragonshead Peninsula, they decided to take it as their own. They were evil-natured even for Suel and they quickly established themselves in the lowlands of the peninsula by killing or driving away from the indigenous Flan.

Region of Onwal in Greyhawk

Picture by Simon Butler, UK Onwal Triad

 

By this time, the Flans were divided into many warring tribes and this disunity was a major cause of their defeat by the Suel. However, in the face of the threat of invading Suel forces and the hostile Dwur of the Headlands, Garantheuld, the Warrior King, united some of the Flan tribes under his banner.

Uninterested in the hill country, the Suel did not attempt to dominate the Headlands being content to build a string of forts across their eastern border. Here they dwelt for centuries perfecting their magical arts, oppressing their Flan slaves, and occasionally launching punitive raids against the Dwur, Noniz, and Flan of the Headlands.

The Founding of the Great Kingdom

The Aerdi were the strongest and most warlike of the migrating Oeridian tribes. Leading other lesser tribes they migrated to the east following Flan legends that told of an incredibly fertile region fed by several large rivers. Crossing the Franz, Duntide, and Harp Rivers they finally discovered the Flanmi River basin in which they founded the Kingdom of Aerdy.

The Kingdom of Ahlissa (named after the famed enchantress and Queen, Ehlissa) was conquered by the Aerdi in the 5th century OR and eventually become known as the South Province. The Oeridians then continued south, wresting control of Idee and Sunndi from the Suel who had recently enslaved the native Flan of the area. Oeridian eyes then turned towards the Dragonshead Peninsula. Scouts reported that the Headlands were rich in mineral deposits, particularly iron ore, of which the fledgling kingdom was desperately short. Alliances with the Dwur of the area were made and troops moved into camps in southern Ahlissa, which the Suel viewed as a hostile act. A vicious three-way conflict erupted in the eastern Headlands that dragged on for several months until the Oeridians (led by their legendary commander Azharadian) surrounded and burnt a strategic town near the present-day location of Irongate. Onnwal finally fell in 598 OR. Some Suel fled further to the south while others, tired of fighting, settled down under their new Imperial overlords. Irongate’s foundations were laid in 598 OR near the site of a Suel town destroyed in the conquest of the Peninsula. Scant was founded in 12 CY to serve as the main route for the colonization of the peninsula and as the conduit through which the wealth of Onnwal’s silver and platinum mines flowed into the ports of Prymp and Chathold. The establishment of Irongate and Scant effectively cemented Aerdi control of the peninsula.

Nasran Cranden, the first Overking, awarded the Dragonshead Peninsula to the Herzog of the South Province to administer as he saw fit. He divided the country into four provinces, which he awarded to four of Azharadian’s most faithful war captains: Destron, Coriell, Cadwale, and Relaster. Above them, he placed an overlord, to whom he gave the title “Szek”. The first Szek, Eranian Garendiar, was chosen not for his prowess at arms but for his exceptional organizational and administrative abilities. Onnwal was a new imperial fief and needed to be colonized. Eranian was a dedicated man and by the time he died in 45 CY, he had overseen the construction of Scant, the taming of the rich, lush lowlands of Gilderond, and the founding of the other three regional capitals.

The Rise of the Iron League

The Szeks that followed Eranian however were a mixed bag of political appointees, favourites, and relatives of the rulers of the South Province. As the Great Kingdom grew decadent in the fourth and fifth centuries, their reigns were characterized by oppression, financial mismanagement, and nepotism. So much so that, in 446 CY, a deputation headed by the Lord Mayor of Irongate appealed directly to the Herzog. The emissaries were imprisoned, given a mock trial, and, by the end of that year, executed by ritual torture for the new Overking’s amusement. Their remains were displayed for several weeks after in the Traitor’s Garden in Rauxes. By the following spring, the whole of the South Provinces was in open revolt against the Overking.

It was during a meeting in Irongate in the winter of 446/447 CY that the seeds of what was to be the Iron League were sown. Originally a loose alliance between Onnwal, Irongate, Idee, and the demi-humans of the Glorioles and Hestmark Highlands, within two years it had become an economic and military union opposed to the tyranny of the Great Kingdom and allied with Nyrond. The Lordship of the Isles swiftly joined the League, which was further strengthened in 455CY by the addition of Sunndi.

Imperial garrisons were immediately expelled from Irongate and the other members of the fledgling alliance and preparations were made to resist the onslaught that must come. In early 447 CY Damalinor of Naelax called to his banner an army composed of hundreds of his vassals and relatives. Many were landless, penniless, or both and so Damalinor promised to divide up the rebellious states amongst his followers.

So numerous were these followers that the siege of Irongate was dubbed the Battle of a Thousand Banners. Foiled by the prowess of the defenders and by the strength of the defences Damalinor’s forces settled in to starve the defenders out. While besieging Irongate the provincial forces were themselves surrounded by a large force of men and Dwur. A clever ruse was employed to rout the Imperial forces, which were then harried through the hills for several weeks. Many were slain and Irongate was declared a Free City.

Fall of the Pomarj

In 510 CY the Hateful Wars came to an end. Dwur, Noniz, and the humans of Veluna had banded to together to rid the Lortmil Mountains of the humanoids that had infested it for so long. The wisest of the survivors fled to the south gaining sanctuary under the ancient trees of the Suss. Entering the rugged uplands of the Pomarj they found the human rulers weak, soft and divided. Forming an alliance, the humanoids fell on the Pomarj and by 513 CY had completely conquered it.

After the land fell to the invaders, the surrounding states began to be plagued by waves of pirates operating out of the now humanoid-controlled ports of the Pomarj Coast. Between 520 and 584 CY, the pirate threat was at its worst, with merchantmen only putting to sea in well organized (and escorted) convoys. With many states bordering the Gearnat and Woolly Bay indulged in privateering, Onnwal’s navy fought long and hard against the pirates of the Pomarj (with notable success in the late 570s) but the Onnwalons never managed to stamp out the scourge of piracy on the Gearnat.

The Scarlet Brotherhood Appears

In the mid 550s CY the Chelors, cousins to the Overking, were granted the rulership of the South Province. They immediately embarked upon an aggressive campaign to strengthen their new domain and to win back the rebellious southern states.

In 573 CY, red-robed scholars and sages appeared in the courts of the Iron League professing to hail from the Land of Purity. With some hesitation, these learned individuals were accepted and began to work their way into sensitive and vital positions. At the same time, Scarlet Brotherhood assassins also infiltrated the lands of the League in more subtle guises and started removing outspoken foes of the Brotherhood and its ideals. Indeed, the Sage Morrev Ironseeker of Scant attributes almost all pre-war deaths of nobles in the lands of good to the activities of the Brotherhood.

Resurgent Imperial Ambition

During the latter portion of the 570s, conflict again flared up in and around the Dragonshead Peninsula. In 577 CY Onnwalish vessels fought several actions against naval units of the South Province in Relmor Bay and the Sea of Gearnat as the Herzog attempted to shut the trade routes between the Iron League and Nyrond and Almor. No decisive engagements were fought though, and the trade routes remained open.

578 CY, however, heralded better results for the Onnwalish navy as it fought and won a decisive victory over the pirate Blidg Fanger near Blue in the Pomarj. As well as bringing prestige to the fleet, this action also netted a huge amount of captured booty from Fanger’s vessels. Later in the year, a squadron action in Dunhead Bay between the Szek’s fleet and four of the Herzog’s warships resulted in victory for Onnwalish forces. This victory allowed Onnwalish vessels to range into Relmor Bay, raiding along the coast of the South Province from Prymp to Galdol below the Tusk Peninsula and thus forcing the Herzog to re-deploy several thousand troops that he had been massing at Zelradton.

Herzog Chelor’s campaigns to regain the lost provinces peaked between 577-579 CY in what some scholars now call the War of the Golden League. In 578 CY, the Herzog himself took the field after massing a force numbering in excess of 7,000 men around the city of Zelradton. Another army under General Reynard (10,000 strong) also campaigned that year clearing the land between the River Grayflood and the Rieuwood of all hostile forces. Forces of Sunndi (around 2,000 strong) harassed Reynard’s flank from the Rieuwood but by late summer the General had successfully crossed the northern arm of the Hollow Highlands. Linking up with the Herzog’s own force, this host, further strengthened by several thousand humanoids, then pushed south attempting to cut Idee and the Iron League in half. His host was halted and surprisingly driven back northward after a pitched battle to the north of Naerie, capital of Idee.

However, the Imperial forces quickly recovered and established a defensive position, which the forces of the Iron League were unable to overwhelm. The Herzog’s heavy cavalry effectively blocked every attempt made to outflank his defensive positions and by the end of the year, a tense stalemate had developed.

In the autumn of 578 CY, the leaders of the Iron League met at Killdeer. It was agreed that although the Dwur and Noniz of the Headlands would aid in the defence of Irongate they would not become any further involved in human affairs. As a result of this agreement, Szek Ewerd decided to reinforce the marine contingents aboard his vessels and to increase the size of both his army and militia. The army was increased from the full strength of 1,600 men to 3,000. The militia now began to train all able-bodied men between the ages of 15 and 45 with around 4,000 men immediately starting training.

Trouble also flared in Scant, when it became evident that something or someone was slaying sailors in and around the Great Harbour of Scant. The renegade Sahuagin behind these attacks was subsequently wiped out by a small band of heroes in the sewers of the city.

In 579 CY one third of Onnwal’s army (around 1,000 men, exclusively light infantry) was sent eastward into Irongate and Idee to strengthen the defences there. To check Chelor’s ambitions, the League formally expanded to include Almor and Nyrond in 579 CY and became known as the Golden League.

Although he made no great inroads into the lands of the Iron League, Chelor’s initiatives were not complete failures. He managed to deal several sharp setbacks to the demi-humans of Sunndi and to frustrate the schemes of the Holy Censor of Medegia who was attempting to woo many of his nobles away from him.

A series of naval skirmishes fought in the Gearnat Sea and Relmor Bay against Nyrondal and Onnwalon fleet elements resulted in a minor victory for imperial forces in 582 CY.

The Slave Lords

In 576 CY yellow-sailed vessels began raiding the coastal settlements of the Gearnat Sea from Onnwal to the Wild Coast. Several villages were completely destroyed by these raiders and their populace carried off to the Pomarj to be sold into slavery. These raids continued for four years and, although Onnwal did not pay bribes like other states to stop the attacks, its navy seemed incapable of detecting and sinking the raiders.

To combat this threat Szek Ewerd granted letters of marque to several prominent sea captains and mercenaries with a charter to seek out and destroy the yellow- sailed invaders. These irregular forces, freed from the highly regimented chain of command actually reported some small successes against the Slave Lords. However the bulk of the slavers’ raids went uncontested – but not for long. In 580 CY a small band of heroes managed to penetrate the hidden lair of the Slavelords breaking their power over the region.

The Greyhawk Wars

When the Greyhawk Wars began, none in Onnwal had the vision to foresee what would befall their country within a few short years. When it became apparent that the Great Kingdom would use the conflict as an attempt to reclaim lost territory, the Scarlet Brotherhood secretly despatched gold and mercenaries through circuitous routes to strengthen the states of the Iron League.

The Overking’s entry into the war simplified one task for Almor and Nyrond – persuading the Iron League to join the alliance. With Irongate, Idee, and Sunndi threatened, the land-based members of the League met in Oldred at the invitation of King Archbold III of Nyrond and signed the Eastern Pact, formally allying themselves against “the mad aggressions of the Great Kingdom”. The County of Urnst also signed the pact, but the Theocracy of the Pale, citing Nyrond’s many heresies, refused to join.

Soon thereafter a sudden coup in the Lordship of the Isles replaced Prince Latmac Ranold with his distant kinsman Prince Frolmar Ingerskatti. The new Prince immediately proclaimed his allegiance to the Great and Hidden Empire of the Scarlet Brotherhood.

In 584 CY the Sea Princes were given an ultimatum by the Scarlet Brotherhood – “Submit to the Scarlet Brotherhood or be destroyed.” When the proposal was rejected the Brotherhood ambassador presented the Princes with a list of the names of 30 nobles of the Hold. The next morning, 27 of the 30 were dead. The Sea Princes surrendered and within a fortnight Brotherhood and Lordship vessels docked in Monmurg and Port Joli bearing legions of savages from the jungles of the south.

Strengthened by the forces of the Sea Princes, the Brotherhood immediately struck at Onnwal and Idee, both of which fell swiftly. In Scant, Szek Ewerd Destron was struck down by an assassin’s blade as the streets of his capital echoed to the sounds of vicious and bloody battles between the outnumbered warriors of Scant and the Brotherhood’s savage allies. Within days only Irongate still stood – the wily Cobb Darg had known all along that the precise source of the mysterious aid that had been so fortuitous. Now totally surrounded, Irongate stood alone, the last bastion of freedom in the Iron League.

With the fall of their country, many Onnwalons attempted to flee to southern Nyrond making the perilous ocean crossing in any craft that they could find. Even Bigby, Archmage and a member of the Circle of Eight, was forced to escape his residences in Scant for Veluna.

The occupation of Onnwal was so brutal that the populace began to flee the country in such numbers that Sister Kuranyie (the Brotherhood’s appointed ruler) was forced to take hostages from every family in the land to ensure that no one else would attempt to escape. Rumours swept the land of strange red-hued trolls said to be immune to fire stalking the Headlands and of the disappearance of many citizens who exhibited Suel characteristics.

Resistance & Rebellion

When Onnwal fell, the only effective resistance to the rule of Sister Kuranyie was the Wreckers (Scant’s thieves guild) under the leadership of Rakehell Chert. Chert had somehow gained knowledge of the Brotherhood’s imminent attack on Scant and moved his headquarters into the countryside. He spent the remainder of the year organizing his followers into cells that operated independently throughout the country and establishing relations with the demi-humans of the Headlands and surviving Onnwalish soldiers hiding in the hills and those that embarked upon the few ships to escape the fall of Scant. Chert also managed to make contact with the archmage Bigby. An erstwhile companion of his, Bigby gave him aid and the names of several of his apprentices and associates that remained in Onnwal that could possibly help Chert’s cause.

Sister Kuranyie became aware of Chert’s Resistance early on, but although expending considerable effort she failed to make any significant in-roads in infiltrating the organization.

Finally, Chert made contact with Jian Destron, son of the assassinated Szek, who had escaped the blades of the Brotherhood not by skill at arms but by virtue of being on a patrol vessel sailing the Gearnat at the time of the attack. Jian raised his standard in Nessermouth in southern Nyrond and wintered there gathering to him vessels and men who had escaped the fall of Onnwal. By winter’s end, he had gathered four warships and almost 800 followers, the bulk of whom were either marines or sailors.

On the first spring tides came a Brotherhood vessel, ostensibly to trade with Nyrond. Jian’s followers promptly sank the ship and warned that any other Brotherhood vessels trying to put into port would be similarly dealt with. The Brotherhood protested this to the Bailiff of Nessermouth who, lacking instruction from Rel Mord and being sympathetic to the young monarch-in-exile, ignored the matter.

Secure in Nyrond, Jian plotted throughout the stormy autumn months and as soon as the weather allowed, he despatched a fast ship across the Gearnat to gather news of events on the peninsula. Chert also began diplomatic efforts to gain aid from Irongate. Leading these efforts was Duke Coriell of Onnwal who had taken refuge there after the fall of his castle and estates at Killdeer. Although Coriell managed to gain a trickle of aid for his beleaguered nation from Cobb Darg, most of Irongate’s resources were employed in resisting the Brotherhood and Aerdi armies that menaced the city.

After the burning of 34 farmers in Scant’s Grand Market in Richfest of 585 CY, Chert encouraged the populace of the country to support their new rulers, at least tacitly but made clear that actual treason would not be tolerated and indeed would be punished harshly. This state of affairs lasted into 586 CY until a dozen of Sister Kuranyie’s Herdsmen were slain in a magical attack of great ferocity. Sister Kuranyie survived the assault by dint of her arcane protections and determining that the assault originated from the Resistance prepared a “genocidal sweep” of the countryside in revenge.

Warned of her intentions by his own agents Chert called for a general uprising to begin on the first day of Brewfest, 586 CY. Completely surprised, and in many cases surrounded, Brotherhood resistance was surprisingly weak. Initial fighting lasted throughout the month of Patchwall and ended with the Brotherhood losing much of the country to the rebel advance. However, the Brotherhood troops held Scant by cunning use of its formidable defences and the presence (and magical powers) of Sister Kuranyie – denying the rebels access to their capital city.

The rebellion has now dragged on for five years. As before, the Brotherhood still holds Scant, being able to re-supply their troops by the sea at will. Communication with the rebels is difficult, but Destron claims to rule “Free Onnwal” although what this name actually refers to is a matter of conjecture amongst some outside observers of the area. Some believe that this refers simply to the underground Resistance while others argue that it actually refers to the portions of free countryside.

It is unknown who leads the Brotherhood forces in Scant, although it is assumed that if Kuranyie has survived the intrigues of her fellows and the blades of the Resistance, she would still be in power.

Onnwal Today

The Onnwal of today is a battleground for the two factions that dominate the land. The Scarlet Brotherhood holds Scant, from which they operate a virtual blockade of the Gearnat Straits with the aid of their pirate allies operating from Blue, and some small portions of the surrounding countryside.

Jian Destron, son and heir to the assassinated Szek Ewerd Destron, has raised his battle-banner at Killdeer and leads “Free Onnwal”. Free Onnwal now controls much of the hinterland of Onnwal and has forged diplomatic links with many former allies of the country.

Small Hochebi warbands also roam the Headlands, many with their females and young in tow. These ex-soldiers of the Brotherhood were either left behind in the retreat or are deserters. The Brotherhood originally brought them to Onnwal to fight the Dwur and Noniz of the Headlands, now several groups are known to have established themselves in the hills preying on all that pass nearby.

Raiding parties of Hepmonaland savages also stalk the countryside killing, looting, and spreading terror into the hearts of the people of Free Onnwal. Periodically they return to Scant with booty and slaves for Kuranyie’s pleasure.

Conditions within the city of Scant are terrible. Although the Brotherhood’s fleet manages to keep the city supplied with essential items, most of these go to the Brotherhood, their troops and sympathizers. All families in the capital (and indeed throughout the land) have lost at least one member to the Brotherhood; many are alleged to be held captive in the dungeons beneath the Szek’s old citadel as insurance against revolt or attempted escape to nearby good-aligned countries. Their true fate is unknown.

Outside the city things are better – there is sufficient food available for all to eat and even some leftover to be sent to Irongate. Many of those who fled into the Headlands, or to Irongate, or Nyrond have returned.

Large-scale actions are so far unknown in this war of attrition. Small skirmishing groups attempting to gain control of a village or strategic location characterize most of the fighting. Naval conflicts are also common as ships belonging to Free Onnwal try to run the blockade of the Gearnat Straits or make for Nyrond or the Free City of Greyhawk.

Will Onnwal Win its Own Freedom?

Although the rebels now control most of the country, the Brotherhood still controls the strategically located fortress-port of Scant (and a few isolated outlying areas). Before the Wars, Scant was considered almost impregnable to either land or sea assault. The Brotherhood still controls most of the Onnwalish navy which makes it impossible to blockade the port into submission and their troops skillfully make use of the port’s landward defences.

Troubles elsewhere for the Brotherhood have stretched the Brotherhood’s resources considerably and as long as Sister Kuranyie manages to maintain her grip on Scant no aid will be forthcoming from the Tilvanot Peninsula. Rumours are rife in the countryside of Onnwal that Kuranyie is considering a pact with Turrosh Mak of the Pomarj, which would bolster her strength with fresh humanoid forces. It is thought that she will pay for these troops with slaves drawn from the population of the peninsula. More worrying indeed is the possibility that the Brotherhood might relinquish its grip on its remaining territories in the Hold of the Sea Princes and re-deploy its forces from that conflict to Onnwal.

The rebels are not without friends of their own, however. In 590 CY they managed to convince Irongate’s Lord Mayor Cobb Darg of the legitimacy of Jian Destron’s government and that the struggle was almost over. In exchange for his recognition of their government in exile, they export much-needed supplies to Irongate. Sunndi also strongly supports the rebels with supplies of desperately needed weapons, foodstuffs, and intelligence. The situation in Onnwal is currently a stalemate. The rebels cannot take Scant without more troops and the Brotherhood cannot exert much control on the hinterlands of Onnwal because of their own manpower shortages. Thus until one side develops a substantial advantage in numbers or power, there is no end in sight for the conflict that rages across the peninsula.

The Recording of Time

There are three calendar systems currently in use in Onnwal today: CY, OR, and SD. When using one of these dating systems it is traditional to note the abbreviation of the system after the date, e.g. 591 CY.

Of the three systems, the CY (or Common Year) system is the one most used by the general populace.

SD has been re-introduced to the country by the Scarlet Brotherhood and they insist that all Onnwalons use it – although there is much resistance to this. Originally used by the Onnwi, the first Suel settlers of the area, much of the first written records of the country use this dating system.

The final dating system in use in Onnwal is OR, or Oeridian Reckoning. Introduced by the victorious Oeridians after they subjugated the area in 598 OR it was supplanted by the CY system in 645 OR when Grand Prince Nasran declared universal peace throughout his domain and took the title Overking. Because there is no year “0” in the Common Year system any dates that need to be referred to before that time is done so using OR dates. Onnwal’s Calendar A year (or Dozenmonth as it is known around the Flanæss) is broken down into 12 months of 28 days each. Each month can be broken down into four weeks of seven days each. The standard seven-day week is as follows: –

	Starday		Work
	Sunday		Work
	Moonday		Work
	Godsday		Worship
	Waterday	Work
	Earthday	Work
	Freeday		Rest

These months are further divided into four groups of three months each, which are separated by a weeklong festival week. The timing of the months was taken from observation of the Oerth’s two moons – Great Luna and aquamarine Celene. The phases of Luna moves through the Dozenmonth on a predictable basis because of the inclusion of the four festivals. Celene is always full on the 4th day of the festival week. The four festival weeks are Needfest, Growfest, Richfest, and Brewfest.

Converting Dates

The following formula should be used to convert between the various dating systems in use.

Conversion: CY + 5515 = CY in SD
Conversion: CY + 644 = CY in OR

Needfest

The first festival of the year, Needfest marks the beginning of a new year. The first day of this week-long festival is the most sacred with many faiths holding gatherings to give thanks for the safe transition from the old to the new. Many religions consider this a time of rebirth and this festival is a time of feasting and merriment throughout Onnwal with many small communities staging communal events involving singing, dancing, and tall-tale telling. Many young lovers get married or betrothed during this time with weddings taking place during the week being viewed as particularly blessed.

Godsday of this festival is known as Midwinter Night, or Handmaiden’s Glory, as only the aquamarine orb of Celene is visible in the sky.

Growfest

To the nobility of the realm, Growfest marks the occasion of the first of two official reviews of Onnwal by the Szek and his four Dukes. This weeklong review is often the scene of unparalleled political manoeuvring between the Cantred rulers and their ducal overlords.

To the common folk of Onnwal this festival marks the beginning of the planting season and is a time of much preparation for the year ahead.

Merchants celebrate the end of the storm season on the Gearnat during this festival and made offerings for a prosperous year at the temples of Zilchus and Norebo.

Richfest

The hottest of the festivals weeks only Midsummer Night is an actual holiday in Onnwal although normally workers are not worked so hard during the rest of this week. Both moons are full-on Midsummer Night and so it is the time of the year when the activity of were-creatures is at its peak. For the scattered Flan throughout the Headlands this is a particularly sacred night and their religious leaders are thought to practise ancient ceremonies designed to thank Beory for the bounty she has bestowed upon them.

The height of the celebrations are normally timed to coincide with Celene eclipsing Luna. Stargazers and astrologers view this night as full of portents of the future and can normally be found intently studying the night sky.

Brewfest

Traditionally the last major celebration of the year used to mark the successful completion of the harvest. Since 586 CY, however, the festival has gained special significance as the time when the Onnwalons first rose up against their Brotherhood oppressors. The actual Day of Rebellion was the 4th day of the festival – Godsday. It is a solemn affair with prayers said for the 34 farmers burnt to death in Scant’s marketplace – one of the worst public atrocities of the Occupation.

Brewfest is the time when new batches of ales and other potables are presented for the first time. Typically it is a time when the normally respectful Onnwalons relax and make merry. It is also a time to give thanks for the bounty of the harvest.

In the normal course of events the Szek would meet with his Dukes during the Freeday of this period for a formal review of the state of his nation. This is the second of two reviews normally carried out each year.

Other Festivals in Onnwal

The people of Onnwal also celebrate many other festivals both locally and nationally in addition to the four main festival weeks. A selection of such events is detailed below in chronological order, though this is by no means an exhaustive list.

Dark Night

On the 11th of Goodmonth both Luna and Celene stand new in the sky. Said by many to be the darkest night of the year it has earned such titles as Black Night, Dark Night, Night of the Long Watch, and Star Night. Thought by the peasant folk to be a night full of evil and dark omens, it is normal to observe communities maintaining fires and vigils all night to ward of the evil that lurks in the darkness. Nighttime attacks by Hochebi are especially prevalent on this night because of the natural advantage that the pitch-black darkness allows them. Folk also whisper that the night is sacred to the various devil and demon-worshipping cults that still linger in the Headlands.

The Salmon Run

Principally celebrated in Longbridge and the south of the country, keen fishermen have been known to travel from all over the peninsula to Longbridge for this event. Longbridge sits astride the River Fallnos, which is one of the principal routes that the sea salmon found off the coast of Onnwal use to reach their spawning grounds. For three days in the month of Patchwall, the river is packed with salmon trying to swim upstream. During this event, the banks of the river are packed with contestants, their families and observers.

Duke Cadwale traditionally gave prizes each day for the largest fish caught and to the individual who caught the most fish. In the evenings, large bonfires are lit and much merrymaking ensues. All the fish caught that day are cooked and then eaten by the participants. Since the coming of the Brotherhood, the Salmon Run has not been celebrated. Instead, the Kesh of Longbridge ordered nets cast across the river to catch as many fish as possible. These nets were often sabotaged.

Banner Day

Celebrated throughout Onnwal, Banner Day has its origins in the Battle of Thousand Banners. After the successful campaign that broke the siege of Irongate, victorious Onnwalons returned to their newly independent country bearing with them banners captured at the battle.

On the 12th of Goodmonth every year these banners are taken out and the telling of their capture is recounted. Heroes of old are revered and bards recount their many deeds throughout the night. It is a night of remembrance not just of heroes but also of the common folk who have given their lives in the past to ensure that Onnwal is free. Martial displays are also commonplace on this day with many warriors competing to prove their own valour and skill. It was also traditional for local Lairds to provide prizes for the winners of these combats.

Onwal’s Calendar

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