The Vigil is the moniker given to the southernmost lands of The Grave, ruled by the House of Faust and Its current Baron, Sir Manfred Faust. Characterized by the typical murky swamplands of the Grave throughout most of the land, there is a stark contrast where the swamps end and the southron mountains begin. A relatively small Barony, it has proven no less formidable due to both man-made defenses and the nature of the swamplands.
Adalbert's Respite Edit
Though many hamlets and villages dot the Vigil, the largest and only true town is Adalbert's Respite. Though the marshlands make farming hard, the smallfolk here have taken to growing large amounts of wild rice, proving to be a staple for the small but budding population. Few other precious resources are found nearby, save for animal furs and meats. Fitting for the most prominent place on the Vigil's map, it is in the center of the lands themselves and a network of muddy roads and paths lead to all other areas of interest from here.
The Sacred Grove Edit
The Sacred Grove is an area that has been untouched by any corruption, of man or undead or elsewise, and is an important center of learning in the Vigil. It is where the center of the Church's presence is, as well as a small yet fervent group of holy Knights known as The Light's Wayfarers. A valuable asset to House Faust, they are few in number but lack no faith in what they view as their holy duty to bring others to The Light. Within the Sacred Grove, there is also the valuable lumber known as Stahlbark. Found only within the Grove, its chief property is that it is of vastly superior quality to most wood found within the Grave and without. It is ideal for buildings or fortifications, as well as being a chief component in weapons.
Krieger's Redoubt Edit
By far the most fortified and militarized area within all of the Vigil, Krieger's Redoubt dominates the landscape. Commanding the entrance is a gatehouse supported by aged, thick stone towers, and at either side are impassable mountains. From the marshlands leading to the gatehouse, marksmen may fire from slits and murderholes to make quick work of any attacker and make foes second guess striking at even a paltry garrison. Beyond the gatehouse, the Redoubt itself lays. It is the seat of power for House Faust, and within the Baron rules over his lands. It is a multi-tiered fortress, as lasting a symbol of power that can be found within the Vigil. And though its stone grows old and is covered with moss, it is none the less fearsome in size and fortitude.
Other Areas of Interest Edit
The Giant's Crossing Edit
Securing the entrance to the entirety of the Vigil, the Giant's Crossing is a series of three wooden bridges defended by aged stone towers. The three bridges are the only feasible way for a force to cross into the Vigil without drowning in the murky waters underfoot, and as such any attacker must face bottlenecks as arrows rain down upon them.
The Scarred Wald Edit
A swampy forest composed mostly of dead trees, the Scarred Wald is rarely visited. Most denizens of the Vigil consider it to be cursed, and often those that go in seeking adventure find death. There is little reason to travel there anyhow, as the wood is of poor quality and few animals of note can be found within. At the center of the Wald is a large mysterious ruin, though it is not marked on any map. Those that ask after it are told very little, or elsewise silenced if they become too curious.
In the Vigil, there is a strong demand for individual glory, and every man, woman, and child must work at all times towards bettering themselves and the land they live on, as the First Baron did so long ago. Among the working class and smallfolk, this translates to a very hardworking people who will put their all into any task given to them, and often push themselves further than most would when faced with harsh realities. This call for greater glory is especially prominent among the Knights and soldiers of the Vigil In the field of battle, the armies of House Faust are known not for their numbers but with the sheer determination and ferocity they fight, often fighting well past the point of breaking that lesser men would succumb to.
In the Vigil, succession is a rather strange and sometimes disadvantageous process. Ancient law dictates that when any Baron or Baroness has reached the age of 60, their rule may be challenged at any time by one of their blood in single combat. If the duel goes in the favor of the child, the Baron is buried with full honors for having died with glory and in service to their people, and the presumptive heir takes the mantle of Baron and leads from then on. If the Baron is victorious in defending their title, however, the heir who challenged them is executed for failing to succeed in what is viewed as a sacred duty(assuming they were not slain in the duel). This has led to some rather confusing successions, as a Baron has defended their title and left their strongest heir dead, leaving a weak ruler and weaker ones to follow.
Adalkampf("Noble Struggle") is the term used to refer to the sacred rite of single combat within the Vigil.
Dueling is considered sacred in the Vigil, as refusing is not only an affront to one's honor, but also to one's duty to seek greater glory and victory. As such, many matters both personal and of state are solved in single combat. Knights duel in equal measure to avenge insults or to end wars. In its most drastic state, single combat has been used to solve civil wars within the Vigil, with Barons risking their whole force in order to seek out and challenge the enemy Commander. At times this is not even necessary, as before battle is met Captains will often meet in the center of the field to duel for victory. Despite the sometimes impractical nature of this method(inferior armies can challenge superior ones to single combat), it is a result that is honored always.
Each Baron of House Faust is encouraged to seek out single combat whenever possible, as to further their hold on their lands and command the respect of those who serve under him. This has led to a wide variety in the length and importance of Faustian rule, as some Barons serve only months before some Knight who has insulted them bests them in single combat and slays them. Others, however, are never defeated, and in such a rare case the lands experience prosperity and total unification.
Adalbert the Valiant Edit
The tale of Adalbert the Valiant is one known to every man, woman, and child within the Vigil. It has been told in a thousand different renditions, from a story to instill virtues in babes to a ballad recited by a bard. There have been so many variations of the tale that it is considered impossible to determine which is closest to the truth.
The legend, though it differs, tells the story of one Adalbert Faust, a farmer called to serve with the other levies during a time of war against rebels rising up against his Lord. As one of the peasantry, he was poorly equipped and expected to do little but stand in line with a spear and soak up arrows meant for true warriors. Had he passed this way, he would have been less than a footnote in the history books, his legacy little and less, his children poor and stuck subjugated on a series of nobles.
When battle was met, however, Adalbert proved himself more than could have possibly expected. When the battle lines became lost and the fighting seemed like nothing but scores of men pushing against each other until one gave, Adalbert ferociously cut through enemy ranks with his rusted, iron-tipped spear. In minutes he had turned the tide of battle almost single-handedly, leaving countless foes dead while ignoring any wounds that troubled him. As the enemy fought on, he went to the assistance of his Lord, who had been commanding the reserves before almost being overwhelmed.
Filled with a fighting spirit unbreakable even by the harshest of realities, the farmer charged the enemy anew and did everything in his power to protect his Lord, managing to drive back soldiers who should have cut him down without any resistance. So ferocious was his defense and so impressive his stand after so many wounds that the enemy began to retreat in droves. With the battle won, Adalbert turned to his Lord, bearing a thousand cuts and filled with arrows sticking from him like the feathers of some majestic bird. He knelt before his Lord once more, before collapsing, the Light having need for him at It's side.
So moved and impressed was the Lord that he knighted Adalbert posthumously, and gave to his sons for time eternal a Baronetcy that would not leave their hands. Adalbert's body was burned at a funeral pyre, and his ashes placed in an urn. It has remained a sacred artifact to the Barons of House Faust, who guard it most zealously. Before an important battle, Barons have been known to spread the ashes upon their face and under their eyes, donning it in the hopes of filling them with bravery and near immortality.
The effect of Adalbert upon the people of the Vigil cannot be overstated, as he is not only the cause for it becoming a Barony, but for instilling virtues in all who live there. There is no class or profession that does not adhere strictly to Adalbert's traits. From smallfolk to Knights to the Baron himself, all strive to be brave, loyal, valiant, and skilled no matter the circumstance. This has developed a culture built on strength in the Vigil, with peasants known for being hardy, able workers and warriors renowned for their bravery and refusal to give in to despair.