Isger – Thrall of Cheliax
Isger at a glance:
- Alignment: LN
- Capital: Elidir (11,900)
- Notable Settlements: Logas (4,300)
- Ruler: Hedvend VI, Steward of Isger
- Government: Vassal State of Cheliax
- Languages: Common
- Religion: diabolism, Erastil
They say in Isger’s capital city, Elidir, that “Every devil has its servitors.” Regrettably for Isger, its devil is Cheliax, and as such its servitude is often dark and unwelcome.
Thralldom is not a new concept for Isger. Indeed, even the very name Isger was bestowed upon it by its first conqueror, the empire of Taldor’s Seventh Army of Exploration, as early as 2133. Taldor chose the name Isger for its newest conquest in recognition of the Isgeri tribe that briefly fought with remarkable tenacity before being overrun and pacified. Taldor’s rule over Isger persisted for almost 2,000 years, until the Even-Tongued conquest 700 years ago, in 4081, when Cheliax broke from Taldor and acquired Isger by force as the first holding in its new and expansive empire. While several lands freed themselves from Cheliax’s now-diabolic empire, Isger is not among them.
Many argue that Isger’s fate as an acquisition is not a coincidence – rather, it is a geographical imperative. The trade routes of Isger provide access to Druma and the invaluable markets of Lake Encarthan. Many speculate that more gold flows through Isger than anywhere else in Avistan. Today, Isger’s famed Conerica Straits provide a web of roadways slashing across the state, leading from Cheliax in the southwest all the way to Druma to the northeast. First Taldor, and then Cheliax, stripped away the few natural resources Isger possessed. Indeed, modern Isger provides little to its patron-state apart from its value as part of an essential trade route. Thanks to the importance of that trade route, Cheliax requires Isger to maintain a small standing army to protect the empire’s interests and keep the roads open. Despite the vital task placed upon it, Isger’s army receives little material support and no training from Cheliax. Undermanned and underarmed, Isger’s brave army nonetheless has proven its resolve against external threats again and again.
Unfortunately for Isger’s army, for the first time in the nation’s history, the most recent threat to it came not from abroad, but from within. The savage humanoids of the forest caves of Chitterwood organized and attacked. Amassed by hobgoblin commanders, the likes of which were never before seen in Isger, hundreds of goblin tribes exploded from the forest like a great green geyser. The goblins murdered an untold number of travelers and merchants along the Conerica Straits before their momentum carried them to the Isgeri towns eking out existences at the feet of the Five Kings Mountains. The immediacy of the threat posed by the slaughter gave rise to what might otherwise have been an impossible three-part alliance. A small order of Hellknights from Cheliax, a contingent of Druma’s Mercenary League, and a regiment of Eagle Knights of Andoran all coordinated their efforts to strike back at the goblin hordes. Each group sought to stem the goblin tide before it could flow into its home nation. As such, the Goblinblood Wars became a campaign best remembered for the sheer number of dead on all sides. In the end, much of the Chitterwood was put to the torch, forcing the goblinoids that survived to seek refuge deep in the twisted caverns below.
Today, what little of Isger’s army survived the Goblinblood Wars remains depleted. As such, Isger’s Steward Hedvend VI elected to allocate the remnants of his forces entirely to the defense of the Conerica Straits and the surrounding roadways, guarding the precious flow of trade. As a consequence, he surrendered the surrounding hinterland to banditry. As a stop-gap solution, the steward’s agents posted bounties on brigand leaders, hoping to solve his problems on the cheap by luring in warriors of the desperate variety to save the burnt-out villages scattered around the countryside. The verdict is still out as to whether Isger’s attempt to contract out its security can improve its desperate situation, but as long as the Conerica Straits continue to run, the Steward does not seem overly concerned.
The Goblinblood wars left swathes of Isgeri orphans. The ensuing years of unchecked bandit raids only further swelled the number of unwanted homeless. Tragically, the only institution to respond to the growing crisis was the church of Asmodeus. Cheliax’s House of Thrune installed a number of monasteries across the Isgeri countryside which collect, feed, and clothe orphaned children, all the while co-opting them into their dark fold.
The most prominent of these monasteries is the Sisters of the Golden Erinyes, colloquially referred to as the Devil Nuns. The sisterhood baptizes the rescued youths with unholy water and drills them from an early age in the basics of Hamatulatsu, an exotic martial art pattered on the study of barbed devils. Upon reaching adulthood, young female orphans often aspire to join the ranks of the sisterhood themselves, while males often seek admission to an order of Hellknights or find their calling in the priesthood of Asmodeus.
Hedvend VI rules the Isgeri court in Elidir under the title of Steward, but the court’s status as a sham aristocracy beholden to Cheliax’s ruling house, Thrune, is well known. Like his fathers before him, Hedvend VI makes regular trips to Egorian in Cheliax, summoned like a page boy. It is fitting that the Steward’s symbol of office is a finely jeweled but expended rod of rulership set to crumble to dust if called upon once more.
Sources: Pathfinder Chronicles Campaign Setting