Campaign of the Month: August 2014
The Concord of Ashes
also known as Brasov or Corona
People have lived in the vicinity of Kronstadt for centuries, perhaps even for millennia. A palisaded Vlach village known as Brasovia lay on the crest of the Tâmpa at the time of the Magyar conquest. The knez who ruled the village (a Tzimisce elder) and his minions resisted fiercely but they were destroyed by the Arpads and the fort was levelled by the invaders. The survivors were allowed to remain and resettle in the valley below under the watchful eye of a Magyar chieftain appointed by the King, and they languished in serfdom for more nearly a century before the land was bequeathed to the Saxon settlers around AD 1150. Strong walls were erected around the town, and a new citadel (the home of the Burgrave) was built atop the ruins of the old Brasovia ruin.
The Vlachs were again allowed to remain, though they were not allowed to practice their trades within the walls and were obliged to became tenants or farmhands to the Saxon landowners. Many of the Vlachs that work within the walls have settled with Cuman and Bulgar exiles in a small valley nestled outside the southern wall, in a village that they have named Schei. There is ethnic tension between the Saxons of Corona and some of the people of Schei, as well as the neighbouring communes. This stems from the arrogant attitude of the Saxons, who feel that they have rightfully tamed their land without aid, and the resentful attitude of the Vlachs, Bulgars and Cumans, who feel that their contribution and their rights are being ignored.
A small leper colony lies about three miles west and south of Kronstadt, in a rough valley not far from the south road. These lepers live a monastic existence, growing their own food,making their own wares and ministered to by their own priest. They beg at the north gate every day, and are not allowed to enter the city.
One of the better defended towns of the Siebenburgen, Kronstadt anchors the south-east of the Saxon cities. Together with Weissenburg in the west and Bistritz in the north, it forms a triangle of security around Mediasch, the hub of the Siebenburgen. Outside of Kronstadt’s walls, the estates of edlers and knights form a protective ring around the town some fifteen miles in diametre. These lands are constantly patrolled by the city guard as well as the armed men of the individual knights and, to a much lesser extent, edlers. In addition, knights and edlers manage the upkeep of the roads that pass through their lands and tithe one tenth of their produce to the town. As is the case elsewhere in the Siebenburgen, these minor nobles earn their income from the growth of comestibles and the herding of livestock. All knights and edlers owe their fealty to the Burgrave, Albert Rutan von Swarzberg, and through him the polity of Kronstadt.
The lands immediately to her east and north are held by Szeklar chieftains in service to the Hungarian king, while the west is held variously by either Romanian contes that have accepted the Latin church and Hungarian Ispan’s. These noble’s titles are not strictly inherited (though in practice often are) and the power flows directly from their status as ‘royal servants’ of the king, who can snatch their authority away with a word. The mountains to the south are plagued with rebel Romanian contes and communes, who sometimes raid the outlying farms and the rich caravans that make their way through the passes. Beyond the passes lie Cuman tribes, free Vlach contes and, further south, the restored empire of Bulgaria. These nations raid each other and the lands of Kronstadt, and only a fool would send a caravan through the pass without heavy protection and a willingness to silver the palms of Vlach and Cuman alike.
Titular Ruler: Burgrave Albert Rutan von Swarzberg
Cainite Ruler: Currently none (the last Prince Bernhard von Billung, ruled from AD 1200 to 1202, and in absentia through the first months of 1203; he fell while fighting on the Fourth Crusade)
Governmental Mix: Strong Burgrave ruling over the territory and city, sharing power with a powerful mayor, along with the nominal accord of the city council. In addition to the Burgrave and mayor, trade and merchant guildmasters, edlers, landed knights, the parish priest and the archdeacon sit on the council. In truth, council politics are fractious and at times treacherous, dominated by a tension between security and prosperity.
The essence of the Burgrave’s strength lies in the necessity for military readiness to repel Cuman, Bulgar and Vlach raids on not just the outlying farms, but also the Argeş trade route through the southern pass. The merchant and craft guilds understand this, and support Burgrave Albert with considerable leeway to conduct the defense of the city. Much of the town guard, however, is sponsored by the guilds and loyal to Mayor Rathinger and his cronies before the Burgrave.
In addition to the Burgrave and the Mayor, a power bloc has formed around Archdeacon Simon, the agent of the Bishop of Weissenburg. Simon has many ecclesiastical and political connections back west, and his control of church land makes him influential. He is known to have clashed with the more moderate and retiring Father Samuel from time to time, but the parish priest of St. Emeric’s is quick to throw his influence behind his technical superior in most matters.
The City Council is 17 strong, consisting of: Burgrave Rutan, Mayor Ruthinger, Father Samuel, Archdeacon Simon, Kapitan Adolfus ritter of the city guard, 5 landed knights, 5 guildsmasters and 3 edlers.
Military Disposition: Standing army of 275 city guards, responsible for maintaining the wall watch, keeping law and order in the city, and patrolling the outlying roads and villages. This force is commanded by Kapitan Adolfus ritter von Ballenstedt, who is ably assisted by Leutnants Heinricus ritter and Charles ritter. 50 of these guards are light cavalry. The town guard is funded by tolls on the passes south-east and south-west of the city, as well as a gate toll and land taxes.
The town militia can be turned out in times of crisis, and consists of 800 able-bodied men that are required to practice one saturday out of each month, as well as a further 84 men of the retinues of the landed knights. Kronstadt has a total of 9 landed knights in her service, with a further 6 knights attached to their retinues or that of the Burgrave. The Corona militia is funded by the guild and trade taxes.
Population: c. 4700 (80% Saxon, 9% Romanian, 5% Szekler, 3% Magyar, 3% other including Greeks, Bulgars, Pechenegs & Cumans). Almost 2000 live within the walls, while the rest either live in the valley of Schei outside the walls, or the numerous tiny villages that dot the lands of the knights and edlers further out. Perhaps two thirds of that number live and work in the town, while the rest walk to their farms outside the walls each morning. Most Romanians (who are not allowed in the city after dark) live in Schei and are employed as house servants or herdsmen. Magyars and Szeklers are traders or factors for their border lords. The Cumans, Pechenegs and Bulgars are caravan guards who have brought their families to live here. A handful of Greeks work as scholars, scribes and tutors.
Economy: Strong, reliant on the trade route between the borderlands dominated by the autonomous County of Argeş, through to Bulgaria and then the Byzantine Empire on the one hand, and the southern Siebenburgen-Western Hungary route on the other. This route is currently profitable owing to the disruption along the traditional Danube route, but such prominence is precarious. The Siebenburgen have traditionally moved their goods through Hermannstadt to points south, but this route is currently unstable, meaning that goods now circumvent that city and pass through Kronstadt instead.
A note on Trade: Not quite as wealthy as Bistritz and Mediasch, Kronstadt burghers tend to use coin for trade and luxury items and barter among themselves.
Cainites affairs of Kronstadt
More than a dozen Cainites have attempted to claim the princedom of Kronstadt since the demise of Prince Heinricus von Ballen in AD 1170, including his grasping former colleague, Charles von Allstedt. All have eventually fled or suffered the Final Death for their presumption, whether at the claws of werewolfen (who seem especially strong in the nearby mountains), by the machinations of their fellows or perhaps (as has been recently speculated) by the design of the Tremere, whose home chantry Ceoris lies perhaps only 100 miles away as the crow flies.
Most recently, a handful of Cainites resided at peace within the city under the loose rule of Bernhard von Billung. This short-lived era of relative prosperity came crashing to an end in AD 1203, with the apparent death of the absentee prince and the murder of one of his subjects at the hands of another (who was then put to the Final Death for his crime). Now the city is once again in a state of flux, with only two regular vampire inhabitants and a yawning vacuum- a turn of events which cannot last for long.
The current known residents include:
- Brother Lukas, the Leper (Clan Nosferatu, Childe of Marusca, e. 1153 CE)- a mild-mannered scholar who has taken the leper colony south-west of the city as his Domain, and sees to the needs of the kine there. It is unknown how long he has dwelt in the area, nor how much involvement he has in the town proper. Most assume that in the usual fashion of his kin, he knows a great deal about the secrets of the town. Lucas is known to be the childe of Prince Marusca of Hermannstadt, and it is thought that he passes on what he knows to her. He served as an advisor and ally of Prince Bernhard, and appeared to be deeply saddened by his friend’s loss, as well as that of Eudokia at the fangs of Gero a scant few weeks later. His last words to the subdued Sheriff before his execution were simply, “such a horrid waste…”
- Eridanus, the secret Usurper (Clan Tremere, Childe of Locus, e. late 11th century CE)- a very careful, secretive magus, Eridanus was uncovered in the Spring of AD 1203, during the investigation into the murder of Eudokia. He has dwelt in Kronstadt for decades according to his own admission, and may have gone unnoticed for much longer but for the impulsiveness of two visiting Warlocks Hesintrada (aka Hette von Borcke) and Benjamin de Tulle. Eridanus is a powerful worker of Thaumaturgy, and while also a master regarding the use of Dominate he has been shown to be less than creative in its use. He has stated that he wishes only to oversee his Domain, the equally secretive Guild of Stonemasons, in peace and secrecy. Given the wealth and power of that body however, few believe him.
Fallen Cainites of Kronstadt
- Bernhard von Billung, Prince of Kronstadt (Clan Gangrel, Childe of Lucien, e. 1066 CE)- a knight who established his presence in Kronstadt late in AD 1195, swearing his fealty to the Burgrave and the town council upon receipt of his lands. He masqueraded as the son of a Saxon knight who fought on the 2nd Crusade and undertook many pilgrimages hither and yon himself. In actuality, Gunthar ritter von Wolfgang took the 2nd Crusade himself and has established himself as his own son to preserve the Silence of the Blood, and his ‘pilgrimages’ had been journeys on behalf of himself and his sire, Lucien the Roman. He declared himself Prince of Kronstadt in the early winter of AD 1199, and ruled with a loose hand until AD 1203, while still keeping a hand in various international intrigues. He disappeared on the 4th Crusade, and it is believed that he has perished.
- Eudokia of Larissa, the quiet one (Clan Toreador, Childe of Aristoklos, e. late 12th century)- a secretive Grecian that had also been living extremely quietly in Corona for years. Eudokia masqueraded as the exotic wife of the flamboyant Martin Gruen, proprietor of the Welcome Hearth Inn, and the prominent Guildsmaster of the Union of Innkeepers, Brewers and Vintners. Eudokia had raised the observance of the Silence of the Blood to an art form, and was easily mistaken for one of the kine. Her growing influence over the guilds was an asset to Bernhard’s regime, and her control over Kronstadt’s seamier side made feeding easier. Unfortunately for Eudokia and her family, it also aroused the lust of Gero, who expected certain favours in return for his numerous “kindnesses” in keeping order in her Domain. The Gangrel Sheriff secretly attacked and diablerised her in the Spring of AD 1203.
- Gero, the Sheriff (Clan Gangrel, Sire unknown, e. late 12th century)- a Saxon reeve of a village outside of Brunswick, Gernot (or Gero for short) was attacked by a Gangrel when he dawdled at his tasks past dusk one evening. He fought his attacker, and while he lost, a stray drop of blood landed in his mouth. When he arose in a frenzy and destroyed several of his lord’s prized cattle, Gernot realised he would need someone to blame, so he conveniently arranged to frame a rival. It was not long before he had to flee from the realities of his position, and the anger of the local Cainite power, Norbert von Xanten. He wandered aimlessly for years, looking for a place that would accept him. Eventually he heard of Bernhard von Billung, and leapt at the chance to serve another Gangrel, and a lord no less. Once more he was a reeve, but of the Undead. Gero served his prince faithfully for two years, but became enamoured of the Toreador Eudokia, and he spent much of his time spying on her from afar. He eventually discovered that she was spying on the city for a Greek mistress, and he attempted to use that information to gain her compliance to his lusts. Her rejection of his advances poisoned his heart against her, and he ambushed her as she returned to her lair one night. If he could not have her body, he would take her soul instead, so she would be part of him forever. The heinous deed was uncovered by the Concord, despite his attempts to set up a decoy in the Tremere wanderer, Benjamin, and Gero was executed by the acting prince,Lucien, according to the Lextalionis.
Frequent Cainite Visitors
- Lucien the Roman (Clan Gangrel, Childe of ‘the Savage’, e. 1st century BCE) A most unorthodox elder who despises the uncivilised ways of his kin, the Roman uses the extensive waterways of the Danube, Rhine and Main to manage his modest mercantile network. He became a frequent visitor to the city in order to secure the claim of his childe, Bernhard von Billung, to the domain. He also briefly ruled at times when his progeny was away tending to the business of the Concord, and in this capacity he passed judgement on the murderer, Gero, in AD 1203. Lucien stoically accepted the loss of his childe, but has stated that he will not give up hope until he has seen Bernhard’s ashes with his own eyes. He has stated that when time and safety permits it, he will head to the lands of Voivode Koban and return with his progeny, or failing that, his remains. After winding up some of the former prince’s family affairs, the ancient retired from Kronstadt late in the Spring of AD 1203.
Prominent Mortal Residents
- Albert Rutan Burgrave von Swarzberg; An aging knight who has reigned since AD 1182, Albert has a reputation as a drinker and a brawler, but none doubt his courage, sincerity or skill in the field. He attained his position after serving as Kapitan of Kronstadt for a number of years, keeping the southern Pass free of bandits, raiders, and Vlach rebels. He was a favourite of the late Burgrave Joszef von Ballen, and propelled himself into rulership by making an alliance with Mayor Rathinger’s predecessor, Dolf Lugen. Albert married late in life, and chose the fiery tempered and beautiful Livia, a Vlach 14 years his junior. The alliance helped to stablise the trade route to Hermannstadt, but has cost the Burgrave much of his popularity with the people.
- Mayor Rolf Rathinger; A canny, wealthy merchant and charismatic speaker, Mayor Rathinger was elected to his first five-year term in AD 1189 and has had little trouble retaining his position. He is a political animal, who has achieved his dominance by sponsoring the early careers of numerous merchants, becoming the largest landlord within the city limits, and funding public works. Some have been known to grumble (quietly), that he is also not above bribery, and that half of the town council live in his pocket. Rathinger’s fortune is built on the salt and silver trades.
- Archdeacon Simon von Nijmegen; a domineering, charismatic priest who is responsible for administrating church holdings within the city and also a number of priories (including the leper colony of St. Lazarus) and farms within the Burgraviate. On behalf of the Bishop of Weissenburg, he also has oversight over the priests of the outlying parishes of the territory, including the popular but meek Father Simon of St. Emeric’s Church. While not exactly loved, Simon is quite popular with the Burgraviate elite, on account of his being the 3rd cousin of Frederick II, the Holy Roman Emperor (which technically gives him a rank matching that of the Burgrave).
- Kapitan Adolfus ritter von Ballenstedt; A distant kinsman to the late Burgrave von Ballen, Adolfus is one of the wealthier knights of Kronstadt. He is the son of a Landsgraf in the Holy Roman Empire, and it is thought that he has little personal regard for his current liege, Albert von Swarzberg, on account of his ‘low birth’ (being the son of a Freiherr). Adolfus is a strict disciplinarian and a pedant, but he is a very fine captain whose men respect him for his long hours and dedication to his duty.
- Karl Dressler edler von Lüneburg; A relatively recent arrival in the city, Karl and his family emigrated from Saxony in the last wave around AD 1190. A generous and kind man noted for his common sense, he was given a place on the council in AD 1195. Karl is content to oversee his fields, and raise cattle and sheep, but he is honoured to be entrusted with the role. The only blemish on his reputation is the dissolute behaviour of his son, Bernerd, a squire of one of the local knights.
- Livia Rutan Burgravine von Swarzberg; the beautiful, ambitious younger wife of the Burgrave, Livia is unusual in that she is not a Saxon. Rather, she is the daughter of a Vlach Conte that accepted the Latin rite and kept his lands as a result. Livia was gifted to the new Burgrave at the age of 14, negotiated along with an alliance to secure the Kronstadt-Hermannstadt trade route. Although quite unpopular with the people, she has become very fashionable among the city elite because of her wit, temper and beauty. In more than two decades of marriage, she has borne the Burgrave two sons and three daughters, all of whom are comely and clever. It is said that she is agitating for a way to make her husband’s position hereditary, so that she may secure her children’s inheritance.
- Martin Gruen; one of the more colourful citizens of Kronstadt and a vocal member of council, Martin serves as the Guildmaster of Innkeepers, Brewers, Vintners. He is also the second generation owner and operator of the Welcome Hearth, the most successful inn and tavern in Kronstadt. Formerly considered to be wayward at best and a wastrel at worst, Martin’s father Klaus sent him on pilgrimage to Jerusalem shortly after the 3rd Crusade. He returned years later as a changed man, more worldly and serious. He brought with him a beautiful Greek wife and two young children, and soon took over the business from his ailing father. His cosmopolitan ways and knack for storytelling soon brought great success to the Welcome Hearth, election to his post and an invitation to council. The disappearance of his wife, Eudokia, in AD 1203 quickly become a cause for much gossip, but the worry and grief that Martin displayed soon allayed any talk of foul play.
- Father Samuel of Kronstadt; This gentle and good-natured man has been the parish priest of Kronstadt since AD 1179. He is of local birth, and hails from edler stock, being kin to Leutnant Charles ritter and brother-in-law to Hans Eberhard, the Guildmaster of Carpenters, Builders and Wainwrights. A fine preacher but a shy and retiring man when not on the pulpit, he is thoroughly cowed by his administrative superior, Archdeacon Simon.
- Bonifaz Bender; the powerful and wealthy Guildmaster of Stonemasons, this rather puritanical and secretive man sits on the town council and formerly constituted the opposition to the late mayor, Dolf Lugen. He has largely retired from such maneuverings and no longer constitutes a power bloc himself, though his support is frequently courted by all three factions. He currently gives his tentative support to Archdeacon Simon. Given the powers of the recently discovered Tremere regent, Eridanus, it is likely that Bonifaz is his thrall or servant in some manner.
Inns, Taverns & Alehouses of Kronstadt
The Welcome Hearth- The largest and most prosperous inn and tavern in Kronstadt, the Welcome Hearth is a three story affair that stands a stones throw from the Pass gate. It is owned and operated by Guildmaster Martin Gruen and his wife, Eudokia. It was formerly a more simple, two-story affair, but Martin bought up some of the surrounding property with wealth earned abroad (some say that it was his wife’s dowry) and expanded the inn more than two-fold. The Hearth has a reputation for cosmopolitan variety, exotic food and hospitality, and it is popular with visiting merchants.
The Golden Crown- Recently eclipsed by its rival, the Welcome Hearth, this inn and tavern is owned and operated by Emil Gastwirt, a hard-nosed businessman who is good friends with his neighbour, Mayor Rathinger. The menu and wine is hardy, traditional German fair and customers pay for quality. The Crown (or Corona) is a landmark, being the first inn encountered by caravans arriving through the Citadel gate. It is still frequented by merchants from abroad, but many will go farther to enjoy the famed and fashionable hospitality of the Hearth if they are not too fatigued from their journey.
The Moon and Stars- Yet another inn and tavern, perched on the eastern end of the town square, next to the forbidding structure of the Guild of Stonemasons. It is smaller and humbler in every way from her two rivals, the Welcome Hearth and the Golden Crown, except for the notable fact that it is one of the few structures in Kronstadt built almost entirely out of stone. It is named for an impressive sculpture that adorns the hearth. It’s owner and proprietor, Albrecht der Lahme, was an apprentice stonemason before an injury destroyed the use of his right arm, and he still has many friends among his former guild. He has a reputation for intelligence and does not suffer fools, nor haughty airs. Most of his regulars are stonemasons, and visitors tend to be Magyars and Szeklers who appreciate the spare accommodation and cooking of his Hungarian cook, Ada.
Hammer and Scythe- A salt-of-the-earth establishment one street away from the town square, this alehouse is popular with the craft-guilds and those free farmers that commute to their fields but live within the walls. It’s taciturn owner, the immensely fat Alfons der Eber, proudly boasts that his alehouse serves “simple fair and cheap ale for simple and honest folk.” It has no rooms for rent, and is usually closed for business by eight bells at the very latest. Bristling with the typical men of the city, it is a good place to keep a thumb on the pulse of the emerging power of the peasant class.
The Angry Axeman- A cheap tavern popular with the town guard, some of the militia, and the retainers of Kronstadt’s knights. Caravan guards are welcome enough, so long as they are Saxon. It is the most raucous establishment in town, and rumour has it that some of the back rooms contain a brothel. The Axeman is situated in the poor south-western quarter where farmers and house servants make their homes. The wine is watered and quite often sour, but it is cheap and plentiful. In terms of food, little other than bread, cheese and broth can be had here. The owner of the establishment is Heinrich das Böse, a former mercenary who settled in the city when age caught up with him. As his name implies, he is an angry man who tends to do his own bouncing.
Other Notable Locations
The City Walls: Well-armed guards patrol the walls and guard the gates at all times, especially after sundown. The wall is split by gatehouses in the east, north-west and south (often referred to as the Tâmpa, Pass and Schei gates) while the northern gatehouse is attached to Kronstadt Citadel. The walls of Kronstadt are crenellated and stand some 22 feet high. They are anchored by fifteen towers, which are maintained by Guild taxes.
Kronstadt Citadel: this small keep sits on a hill overlooking the northern plains and the road that leads to Schaasburg and the Szekler settlement Sfanthu Georghe. On the eastern flank of the keep stands the Citadel Gate. The Citadel serves as the headquarters of the town guard, as well as the armoury for the militia and a prison for lawbreakers awaiting trial. Kapitan Adolfus can be found here much of the time overseeing the security and integrity of the town.
The City Square: the centre of business and social life within Corona, the square hosts market days and church fetes on a regular basis. A number of guild headquarters are based on the square, as well as the Church of St. Emeric and the Inn of the Moon and Stars. The square also has two public stocks and a large well, from which each house may draw two buckets of water each day free of charge.
The Church of St. Emeric: The headquarters of the parish of Corona is a large building of a squat and sturdy stone construction. Situated on the town square, it is a hive of activity each day, as it works to provide services for the several thousand people that live within the walls. Attached to the church is a rectory, where Father Samuel, 3 Deacons and a number of servants reside. A small hospital and hospice, for the use of pilgrims or victims of misfortune, is also attached to the rectory. Archdeacon Simon also has quarters and offices at the rectory of St. Emeric, although he chooses to reside at his own (rather more grand) residence nearby.
The Tâmpa: Also known as Zinne or Kappellenberg, the Tâmpa reaches some 3000 feet at it’s peak and dominates the skyline to the south of the town. Game is plentiful on the mountain, and the Burgrave allows the peasants the hunting of small (never noble) game on the slopes. Bears, wolves, snakes, ravens and eagles are all common enough on the Tâmpa, and the mountain hosts a profusion of rare butterflies and wasps. Game trails wend their way throughout the forests of ash, beech, elder, and larch.
Schloss Corona: This majestic redoubt overlooks the town about midway between the peak and the smaller crest of the Tâmpa, and is built upon the ruins of the Vlach citadel of Brasovia. Hardly the largest nor most formidable of a number of artful yet forbidding castles over-looking the Siebenburgen, the castle is still nigh impregnable and serves to give the burghers extra reassurance, even if it does take a one hour hike up a switchback trail to reach it. The trail is known as the ritter strausse for the armed and mounted patrols that constantly use it. While his extensive farms lie elsewhere in the Burgraviate, Schloss Corona is the home of the Burgrave, his family, and some 80 soldiers of the town guard, commanded by several of Albert’s loyal knights and sergeants at arms.
The Valley of Schei: This narrow valley just outside the south-western wall is the home of the Vlachs and Bulgars that serve the various households in the city or have husbands among the mercenaries or caravan guards. They retire here before dark each evening, though they do not lack protection as Kapitan Charles ritter is assiduous in his patrols through the valley. It is a quiet and eerie place for the patrols- the muddy road being deserted except for the odd stray cat or dog. The Vlachs and Bulgars do not have inns, taverns and alehouses, choosing to adhere to their ancient traditions of locking and barring their hovels after dark. They do have a small wooden church, and their priest, Preot Dragos, is thought to be uncommonly pious and deeply superstitious.
The Priory of St. Lazarus: Situated in a small and verdant valley some five miles south west of the walls, the leper colony opens out onto the Argeş road. The monks and lay folk beg on the road and at the town gates, and are not permitted within the walls for any reason.
The Ruined Orthodox Abbey: Once situated on the eastern slopes of the Tâmpa, this monastery was burned out during the Magyar conquest. It’s blackened and broken shell can still be faintly seen from the walls of Kronstadt, and the Saxons have made a number of evil tales regarding the haunted place.
The Eastern Forest: While the strongest and oldest farm steads and villages straddle the Schaasburg/Sankt Georgen, Hermannstadt and Arges roads, the newly assarted possessions to the east and south-east face onto impenetrable hills and forests. While farther from the direct path of raids and invasions, and ostensibly secured by the holdings of Szekler chieftains farther east, the dark forest has a fell reputation and it is avoided by the god-fearing Saxons of Corona.
The Argeş Road: The troubled southern pass leads to the autonomous alpine border lands between Hungarian Transylvania and the newly revived Empire of Bulgaria. The road passes the lands of defiant communes, pagan holdouts, bandit strongholds and the castles of powerful Vlach Conte’s, who keep the rest in a strained semblance of order and exact tolls for their trouble. Razvan of Argeş is the strongest and nearest of this loose confederation who would see the rise of Vlach rule on both sides of the the Alps. The Argeş trade route continues all the way to the navigable beginning the Argeş river at Razvan’s brooding castle (some 80 miles south of Kronstadt) on the easterly bank, where it becomes a water route that eventually joins with the Danube. There trade routes split off to Bucharest, Sophia, Preslav and the Black Sea.
The Hermannstadt Road: This trade route was formerly a very well-patrolled route and a vital link to the westerly cities of the Siebenburgen, particularly Hermannstadt (which lies a mere 90 miles away). While the route had always been troubled, the alliance between_ Burgrave Albert Rutan_ and_ Conte Iancu Mastronescu_ was until recently a powerful force for stability along the route, allowing Kronstadt’s goods to disseminate to Weissenburg and beyond. In the mid 1190’s, rebellious Orthodox Conte’s went to war with those among their ‘treacherous’ cousins that had accepted the Latin rite, and the mountains south of Hermannstadt erupted into war. Together with rumours of monstrous wolves of unusual size and ferocity as well as other, even worse, monsters that stalked the night, trade between Kronstadt and Hermannstadt has become choked and unwieldy. This situation has actually benefitted Corona, as its profile as a trading partner with the south has risen with Hermannstadt’s decline. The road is little travelled now, and the people of Kronstadt are not particularly willing to clear it, so long as the tenuous trade with Bulgaria and points further south continues to bear fruit.
The Schaasburg/Sankt Georgen Road: Continuing north for five miles outside the Citadel gate, this northerly route then splits into two roads, one to the Szekler town of Sepsiszentgyörgy (Sankt Georgen to the Saxons) 20 miles to the north-east and the other winding to the far north-west of Schaasburg some 77 miles distant before looping farther west to find Mediasch, Weissenburg and Hermannstadt. This is a very safe road for much of its route, passing as it does through the protection of numerous Magyar and Szekler lords, who often insist on small ‘gratuities’ or donatives to escort and protect caravans.
To be Continued