Tales of Arlus
Located on a river in Tatalia, northwest of Everkeep Harbour, Fortuna is the 4th largest town by population in Tatalia, and is the capital of the Azurewood March in the north of the now-county of Tatalia. The town originally existed as the central piece of Tatalia’s defensive strategies against Arlusia to the north, with the town facing the Azurewood across the plains to the north of town. Over time, Fortuna grew to the size it is today after enjoying the benefits of the many merchant caravans frequently travelling north through the woods, supplying the towns in northern Tatalia after the land was claimed from Arlusia in an ancient war. Once the second biggest city in Tatalia, the union with Arlusia has seen other cities in the county prosper to a greater extent.
About 4000 people call Fortuna home. The town is mostly made up of humans, with reasonable numbers of tieflings, half-elves, dwarves and half-orcs. Most other races are present at different times, owing to the town’s location on a common mercantile route, especially with the current civil war.
The town is ruled by the Margrave Marin Cole, whose family once ruled the Tatalian March of the Azurewood and lands north of the Whisper River on which Fortuna lies. The March served as a buffer zone between Tatalia and Arlusia, but became unnecessary when the two kingdoms merged. The family retained their title and status as Margraves, but this was mostly a redundant position in the peaceful days that followed the Great Union.
Originally laying on the contested borderlands of Arlusia and Tatalia, with both claiming the Azurewood as their own, a great many battles were fought on the plains surrounding Fortuna. Various previous margraves of House Cole are well known in Tatalian legends for their defences against far greater armies thanks to their ingenuity and indirect approach tactics around the Azurewood, with large skirmishing forces seemingly appearing from nowhere and disappearing just as suddenly into the Azurewood.
Battle of Lake Trasimene
Others used the many rivers and lakes of the lowlands as offensive structures. One margrave, Margrave Barcus, having fought an earlier battle against invading Arlusian forces. In the Great Northern War, Arlusian forces led by Flaminius, a Consul of the Arlusian senate, had taken a more dangerous route over the mountains to avoid the harassment and guerilla tactics that had caused them such great losses in previous wars and had begun destruction of Tatalian villages near the mountains including Trebia and Ticinus. Expecting a large reinforcing army to appear from the mountains and overwhelm the Margrave’s forces, Barcus took large numbers of villagers from local lands with him into Azurewood and had them hide out in the forest as he moved his forces through to approach the rear of the Arlusian forces and effectively cut them off from Arlus.
Theodore Ayrault, Historian at the Royal University of Arlus, wrote:
We are told nothing about it by the ancient authors, whose knowledge of war confined them solely to the description of battles. But it is apparent enough to us […] By this handsome march Barcus cut Lord Flaminius off from Arlus … as he was apt to move by the flank past the Arlusian camp [so as] to taunt the Arlusian general. Here is shown …the clear conception of the enemy’s strategic flank, with all its advantages […] Nor by his maneuver had Barcus recklessly cut himself loose from his base, though he was living on the country and independent of it, as it were; the fact is, that the complete integrity of his line of communication … was preserved. A more perfect case of cutting the enemy from his communications can scarcely be conceived. . . . If he [Lord Flaminius] fought, it must be under morally and materially worse conditions than if his line was open; and the effect on his men of having the enemy between them and Arlus . . . could not but be disastrous.
Unable to draw Flaminius into battle, Barcus rallied more Tatalians from the remaining villages to join his forces as ‘soldiers’ and had them lie in wait in the Azurewood with his other forces.
Flaminius, learning of this supposed pressing of villagers into Barcus’ army, moved a contingent of his forces to attack the small village of Trasimene near the lake now known as Sanguinus. However, Barcus’ army intercepted and crushed these forces. Though every other person in the Arlusian Lord’s council advised safe rather than showy measures, urging that he should take up defensive positioning and wait for the reinforcements to cross the mountains, in order that joining their armies, they might carry on the war with united courage and counsels… Flaminius, in a fury… gave out the signal for marching for battle.
As Barcus came to was finishing at Trasimene, he came to a place very suitable for an ambush, and hearing that Flaminius had broken camp and was pursuing him, made preparations for the impending battle. To the north-east was a series of heavily forested hills where the Malpasso Road passed along the north side of Lake Trasimene. Along the hill-bordered skirts of the lake, Barcus camped where he was in full view of anyone entering the northern defile, and spent the night arranging his troops for battle. Below the camp, he placed his heavy infantry upon a slight elevation. Here, they had ample ground from which they could charge down upon the head of the Arlusian column on the left flank, when it should reach the position. His cavalry and the villager ‘infantry’ were concealed in the hills in the depth of the wooded valley from which the Arlusians would first enter, so that they could quickly sally out and close the entrance, blocking the Arlusian route of retreat. Then he posted his light troops at intervals along the heights overlooking the plain, with orders to keep well hidden in the woods until signalled to attack. In addition, the night before the battle commenced, Barcus ordered his men to light campfires on the hills, at a considerable distance, so as to convince the Arlusians that his forces were further away than they actually were.
On the morning of the battle, the Arlusian troops marched eastward along the road running near the northern edge of the lake. Eager for battle, Flaminius pushed his men hard and hurried up the column in the rear. Barcus then sent a small skirmish force to draw the vanguard away from the front of the line, in order to split the Arlusian forces. Once all the Arlusians had at last marched through the foggy, narrow defile and entered the floodplains skirting the lake, trumpets were blown, signalling the general attack.
The Tatalian cavalry and infantry swept down from their concealed positions in the surrounding hills, blocked the road and engaged the unsuspecting Arlusians from three sides. Surprised and outmanoeuvred, the Arlusians did not have time to draw up in battle array, and were forced to fight a desperate hand-to-hand battle in open order. The Arlusians were quickly split into three parts. The westernmost was attacked by the Tatalian cavalry and forced into the lake, leaving the other two groups with no way to retreat. The centre, including Flaminius, stood its ground, but was cut down by Barcus’ troops after three hours of heavy combat.
In less than four hours, most of the Arlusian troops were killed. The Arlusian advance guard saw little combat and, once the disaster to their rear became obvious, fought their way through a hesitant group of villagers lying in wait in the forest and made it out of the forest with their lives. Of the initial Arlusian force of about 30,000, about 15,000 were either killed in battle or drowned while trying to escape into the lake — including Flaminius himself, who was slain by Barcus in single combat once his retreat to the lake was cut off. Another 10,000 are reported to have made their way back to Arlus by various means, and the rest were captured. Barcus’ losses were 2,500, plus a great many who died of their wounds. About 6,000 Arlusians escaped, under the cover of fog, only to be captured by Barcus’ forces the following day.
The disaster for Arlus did not end there. Within a day or two, a reinforcement force of 4,000 under General Centenius was intercepted and destroyed after crossing the mountains.
Following these events, Tatalia gained large swathes of land north of the Azurewood having made many subsequent victories in the Great Northern War, securing the March as one of the more prosperous parts of mainland Tatalia.
The Azurewood is a prime location for hunting of a wide variety of game meats, including the rare Trickster, a large bird capable of camouflaging that is said to inhabit the woods. Many hunters come from all over the continent in search of the famed beast. The mountains of the March are replete with mineral ores which are sent to Fortuna before being sent elsewhere in Arlusia, supplying much of the precious metal to the renowned jewellers and whitesmiths of Ambermore.
The nearby islands are a common attraction for rich nobles to enjoy fishing, hunting or sedentary beach life during the area’s hot, humid summers, making Fortuna a favourite travel destination for the country’s richest.
Notable People around Town
The current Margrave, Marin Cole: an ancient man with neat, wavy, shoulder-length blonde hair. His one remaining eye has seen much of the known world, but he was forced to return to Fortuna to take his place as Margrave after his father died in a hunting accident whilst chasing another of the Azurewood’s legendary beasts, the Bellwyrm. Despite his advanced age, the Margrave is muscular and strong, owing to his adventuring past. Those who seek audience with the Margrave, or see him around town, will likely notice the presence of a falcon, which follows the Margrave wherever he goes, perching on various objects nearby. The Margrave speaks with a deep voice. His intonation is steady and shows the confidence and power the Margrave has developed during his long life. Despite his scarred visage and glass eye, the Margrave is well-loved by his people and is quick to lend a hand in putting down any bandit issues the town may experience, earning him the respect of not only the locals but also the Lords of Ambermore, who appreciate the willing sacrifice of the elderly Margrave. His one regret in his long life is that he was born the Margrave, forcing him to hang up his adventuring boots and accept, once more, the yoke of nobility.
Another notable personality in Fortuna is Adventurer’s Guild Rep, Dog. “Dog” is a Wolf Kobold from the Kobold Village in the Tatalian South. A tall, robust man with dark brown fur covering his body. He wears a thick military coat from his time in Tatalia’s armed forces where he rose to the rank of Captain. Having studied military tactics at the Soledt Academy of Military Science in far away Philos, he is definitely not someone you would want to face on the fields of war. Between the reputation of the Margrave and “Dog”, there is only rarely bandit issues in Fortuna and the surrounding lands.
A recent favourite in the taverns around the Northern March is the travelling bard, Siegfried. With his trusty lute in hand, he travels the northern countryside, entertaining the folks and enjoying what the land has to offer. Siegfried is intent to learn the histories of this land, and from time to time seeks the help of passing adventurers in clearing out a ruin for his perusal. From his hip dangles a book with an ornate cover, presumably to hold various notes about the lore of the land. Always the ostentatious fellow, Siegfried wears a large, wide-brimmed hat with a giant eagle’s feather.