The Barony of Tonul was created in 1351 and consists of the castles Achn, Bellkale, and Tonulkale. The ducal seat is Tonulkale with a secondary residence in the Rose Manor located in the Pale City in the area between the Sacred Quarter and the Estates, where important priests used to have their houses during the Solemn Age. By special dispensation from the Emperor granted in 1353, the courtesy title of the heir of the Barony of Tonul is the Baronnet of Bell.
Achn, Bellkale, and Tonulkale of House Tonul have long been known throughout the empire as fingers of the hand that feeds the Pale. For centuries, devotees to the Blue Lord kept the Ocean's Wrath at bay, providing safe passage for ships entering the Achn Strait. The now-fortress of Achn was once a spectacular shrine, expanded during the Solemn Age to encompass an entire island. As the Pale City began to import most of its food from Surotsi (due to widespread population growth, the breadbasket of the valleys and Godharts was no longer sufficient), this trio of fortifications became particularly relevant and strategic. It was Achn and its sisters that resided over the narrow strait in which dozens of grain ships would traverse every year, the strait being the chosen point of most food shipments due to its ability to both distribute and protect such shipments.
War of the Pale BrothersEdit
In the early years of the war, things had not changed much, the fighting ranged far to the north and west and so did not interrupt the shipments to the capital. However, as the war dragged on, the shipments that kept the Pale City alive were threatened, first by pirates and privateers, and later by the ships of Auren's allies. At the same time, priests of the Emperor's Shrine in the Pale City had harbored a long grudge born of jealousy towards the Achn Shrine. These priests allied themselves with the military in order to convince the Forgotten One to order the eviction of the priests of Achn from the island, demolish the shrine, and build a castle to protect the Pale City. Achn was built on the island, a new castle, Bellkale, was built on the northern bank, and the priest's manor on the south was fortified, creating a strong string of castles which guarded the Pale City's eastern flank. Due to the command of the straits, the grain shipments continued the entire war, though reduced to smugglers by the end.
After the fall of the Pale City, the three castles remained loyal to the Forgotten One. Several notable loyalists had fled the collapse of the Pale City and took refuge in Achn, including Pale City's Castellan, who took command of the defenses.
Taken together the three castles, even swelled as they were by refugees, only could muster one thousand soldiers, an insignificant number compared to Auren's armies now holding the Pale City. The defenders did, however, have several important advantages. Because they lay along Pale City's supply line, they themselves had built up a year's supply of food. Meanwhile, as long as they could hold out, they forced the Imperial army to resupply itself through the devastated farmlands along the Blessed River, the long overland journey from Serray or Tanticre, or the trickle that could arrive on small, shallow boats docking at Wasp's Nest. Regardless, as long as the straits were closed, the Imperial supply lines remained perilous. In addition to the supply problems faced by the attackers, the natural geography of the land, supplemented by the castle defenses, aided the defenders. Achn itself was virtually impossible to attack save for low tide when troops could attack from Bellkale. That, of course, assumed that the attacker could gain control over Bellkale, which had been built using all the knowledge gleaned from fifty years of sieges and defending from sieges.
For six months after the death of the Forgotten One, and one month after the fall of Bellkale, Achn finally surrendered. Its fall represented one of the last battles of the long war. The Emperor had promised Achn to the first man to plant the Imperial standard on its walls, and after the fall, he kept his promise, making Sir Dubhe the first Baron of Tonul.
The affairs of the barony are currently being handled by the Lady Ida. Assisting her is the aging, though still vibrant Yarwen the (no longer) Younger, Castellan of Achn. The old Greylag Free Company still exists, providing the garrison for the three main castles. Dubhe's financial stake in the Company had been inherited by Sir Terrance, the only thing of any significance Dubhe could give him due to Terrance's abdication of inheritance rights as a baby.
The main holdings of the barony are the triplet castles Achn, Bellkale, and Tonulkale and the Rose Manor in Pale City. In addition, the Barony runs a poor house in the Mire using grain tolled from the Imperial grain ships. The rest of the barony consists of poor, substance-level farmers, which are usually ignored. They can be ignored because of the income gained through tolling the straits. Depending on the merchant and his cargo, the tolls can be paid in coin or in kind. As the straits are both the cheapest and fastest way to get from Pale City to Surotsi, the tolls represent a significant income. As a courtesy, ships carrying Surotsi nobles to and from the city are exempt from the toll, as are those ships carrying the Imperial seal. Grain ships for the city, are, however, expected to pay a toll in grain.
Dubhe had a younger half-sister who married a soldier after the war and operates an high-brow tavern called "North Star" near market square. In last couple of years it has become a popular with for the younger members of the Jade Guard thanks to Maisan's influence.