Gothel is a large province in Vallonia. The River Athamantis runs along the northeastern edge of the province toward the south. It borders the the province of Aeolus in the northwest, the province of Pafry in the north, the province of Thash in the northeast, and the province of Athamantis in the south. It has the longest border with Southarchland in the southwest, primarily bordering the province of Caledonia, but also sharing a small border with the province of Attica. Gothel is known for its defensive position in Vallonia, but its thick forest has also imbued it with a sense of mystery.
Founding and The Golden AgeEdit
Gothel was first settled during the Golden Age, primarily along the River Athamantis, which connected the River Notus to the River Pontus. It was a successful trade route despite the treacherous twists and turns of the river. One particularly nasty hook in the river became the location for the fortress Dardania. Dardania was used as a military stronghold throughout the Golden Age, but as the age progressed, it transitioned into a summer palace for the royal family. The province was not heavily populated at that time, which made it a nice retreat for the royals.
In the year 1068 d.A.A., the royal family (comprised of King Bernas Loren Polaris, Queen Dema Cinera Polaris, Prince Bernas Arcadius Polaris, and Princess Dema Coryla Polaris) took a stay in Dardania. While they were there, a curse placed on Princess Coryla in her infancy took effect. Intending to help, the king cast a spell over the castle that would preserve her in the state of sleep she was in. Princess Coryla was hidden away in Dardania, and powerful seeds given her by the Silvanus family were planted around the fortress, resulting in towering thorn bushes that prevented anyone from approaching the sleeping princess. The rest of the family left Dardania and could not again return before the Torrent.
The ecology of the region surrounding Gothel was ravaged by the ash cloud that followed the Torrent, and it took several decades for the environment to begin growing at a notable rate again. Gothel's forests slowly began to recover, as did the small towns scattered throughout it. Demas Anicetus Capaneus made use of the River Athamantis to unite the new nation of Southarchland in 207 P.T.. Gothel's forests were harvested by Anicetus's armies, much to the displeasure of the residents of Gothel. During the Northern War between Norarchland and Southarchland, the river was used to gain an advantage over Norarchland. Some men attempted to take shelter in Dardania, but they were kept out by the thorny forest surrounding it. Southarchland won the Northern War and signed the Treaty of Athamantis, which ceded the land that is now Vallonia to Southarchland.
Gothel, now infamous for ghost stories involving Dardania, was paid little attention for the next two hundred years until the War of Vallonia began in 439 P.T. This war began when the provinces in the north and northeast demanded independence from Southarchland. Southarchland refused, and a fifteen-year war was waged. The few residents of Gothel fought on the side of Vallonia, remembering how their lands were ravaged unfairly by Southarchland royalty throughout its history as a nation. Several battles were fought in Gothel, mostly along the border with Caledonia. Gothel's strength was the familiarity of its soldiers with the forest, and a form of guerrilla warfare helped bring victory. Southarchland lost the War of Vallonia and was forced to relinquish control over the rebelling provinces, including Gothel. This arrangement was secured in a document known as the Treaty of Attica.
In 476 P.T., King Cephas Darius Cygnus of Vallonia was hunting the woods of Gothel when he came upon the fortress of Dardania. He managed to make it past the thorns up to the castle. When he approached he saw hundreds of feet of brown hair spilling from a tower window. He climbed the hair to get to the tower and saw a beautiful girl sleeping there. Unknown to him, this was Princess Coryla. She did not respond to his attempts to wake her, and because he was alone and found himself attracted to her, he raped her while she slept. He left, but his act would result in the birth of Prince Cephas Elianus Cygnus and Princess Dema-Cepha Laelia Cygna. Princess Coryla awoke to find herself a mother, and she was helped by her grandmother, a Filiaterra, as she learned to survive with them. Despite her best efforts, she could not disentangle herself from her own hair or the tower, and she continued to stay hidden there as her children grew.
A few years later, Prince Ventus Leander Cygnus, the king's adopted brother, also found Dardania. He was nearly killed by Princess Coryla's sword before he was able to explain who he was. Coryla was extremely distrustful of him for a while, but he soon earned her trust and they fell in love. That year, the Second War of Vallonia began and Prince Leander was called away to battle. Coryla's children were about six years old at that time and had taken to going on adventures beyond the thorns. Their existence had become known to King Darius's wife, Queen Tenebraria Angerona Cygna, who desired them dead. She lured them into her home, but when they escaped she followed them back to Dardania, where she attempted to kill them and Coryla. Prince Leander arrived just as the queen was attacking, distracting her long enough for Laelia to help her mother push the witch into the fireplace. Shortly after, Coryla and Leander married, and they soon had a child together named Princess Venta Aurora Cygna. Aurora was raised with her brother and sister in Gothel, because the magic on the place still kept their mother from leaving.
The war continued to affect Gothel. The Campaign of Pafry and Thash (492) was the closest the war came to the Vallonian capital, and Southarchland was routed by furious weather patterns brought on by the Ventus residents, most notably the Anemas family. The longest and most devastating campaign was the Caledonia Campaign from 497-502, and it resulted in the death of King Darius. Southarchland was sure that they would be able to regain control over Vallonia, but the nation was astounded when Prince Leander revealed that King Darius did in fact have an heir. Elianus moved to the capital in Aeolus with Prince Leander and Princess Aurora, leaving Coryla and Laelia in Gothel. The royal family often visited Gothel; the royal connection caused the province to gain more respect from its fellow provinces.
Over time this aura faded, as the thorns continued to keep outsiders from accessing Dardania. The mystery and isolation that had made up Gothel's reputation continued, which worked out very well for Coryla and Laelia, who live there to this day.
Gothel is almost entirely forest, with the exception of the rolling plains along its border with Vallonia. There are high foothills in the northwest and rocky land along the banks of the River Athamantis. The forest is famous for its density and its mystery.
Gothel has a warm summer continental climate, featuring warm summers and cool winters. It experiences more snow than its neighboring provinces because of its proximity to the Archland mountains. Temperature is always closely regulated because of the high number of Venti living in Vallonia; sometimes the climate is thrown off-balance because of magical manipulation, making Vallonia the only place in Archland where the use of magic is regulated by law.
Families and EducationEdit
Large families are common in Vallonia, and though Gothel's average of five is slightly lower than the national average of eight, this fact remains true. Filial piety very important in Vallonia; one is always expected to maintain care for their parents and elders, and respect is of the utmost importance. Vallonians are famous for maintaining incredibly detailed family trees. One might think that this would make taboos about illegitimacy particularly powerful, but the opposite is true. Though illegitimate children are not granted the same amount of respect as legitimate children, they are still provided for in conditions well above those found in other countries. Illegitimate children may even inherit; they will inherit as much as a legitimate child if no legitimate heirs remain. Unfortunately, the same is not true for adopted children. They too are given good care and comfort and are treated well, but because they lack a blood connection to the family, their inheritance is reduced, if they receive one. In Gothel, all of these traditions hold true, though the lack of material wealth of many in Gothel reduces the issues surrounding inheritance.
The Gothel Ghouls is the collective term for the many scary stories that emerge from Gothel's forests. No one is sure if the stories hold any truth, but tales of child-eating witches, monsters, ogres, and ghosts run wild throughout Gothel and even into the neighboring province of Athamantis. Dardania is a popular setting for these stories because no one has been able to approach the fortress in centuries.
Gothel's main contribution to the economy is the trade route along the River Athamantis. Many citizens of Gothel act as guides along the river's treacherous path. Others are merchants. Most of all, however, the citizens of Gothel are millers, loggers, and so forth, contributing small but crucial items for the running of a country.
In the Books (spoilers)Edit
Governor Selene Magna reveals that she is known as the Duchess of Gothel, though she frequently travels throughout Archland in her pursuit of knowledge about the Tenebrari. After Clymene burns, it is thought that she returned to Gothel. Pomona, Tal, and Arion begin to travel to meet her there after escaping Alcmena , but they are waylaid by a blizzard in the Archland mountains.
- Princess Dema Coryla [Polaris] Cygna
- Princess Dema-Cepha Laelia Cygna, Duchess of Gothel