Harador Castle is a centuries old, prominent stone fortress located near the village of Akar, in the Tolgathan State of Eastmach. The castle and its surrounding lands belong to a Knightly Order known as the Wardens of Eastmach.
The concept for Harador Castle was created in part by Hannes Thiessen (Calgary, Alberta) as part of his ‘Knight Regular package’ backer reward from the 2014 Realm of Strife Kickstarter Campaign.
Named for the family that originally built it, Harador Castle was the main holding and ancient seat of power for the Wardens of Eastmach in the early days of the Kingdom of Tolgatha. However the town of Akar began a slow decline once the Highway of Patriarchs was established, uniting Tolgatha from East to West, but leaving Akar off the main trade route. As the port town of Ostalia grew in prominence, it drew an increasing number of people away from what was becoming considered the more remote town of Akar. Despite this perception, the Order stubbornly held to its ancient seat of power and the stout castle they had built, which included vast land holdings they had acquired over several centuries.
The presence of the Wardens’ stronghold kept the town of Akar limping along for many years, up until the end of the infamous Mage Rebellion in distant Leonen. When the defeated rebels arrived in Tolgatha, the Patriarch King annexed a large section of land west of Harador Castle, gifting it to the exiles where they would eventually build Volanthia, the City of Mages. The rapid rise to power of the Volanthian Vassal State further diminished the influence of Akar and when the stubborn old Knightlord succumbed to his age, the first decree of the new Knightlord, his eldest son Kennold Harador, was to relocate their seat of power.
Many suggested that Ostalia was the logical choice for their new seat of power, but the Harador family was far too proud and their rivalry with Ostalia ran too deep, so Kennold Harador decided to instead relocate to Varth’am. This once unassuming village had grown rapidly due to its strategic location at the crossroads between the Highway of Patriarchs and the road north to Volanthia. With the Wardens of Eastmach arriving to buy up land and construct a tower house within the town, Varth’am flourished all the more. The Wardens of Eastmach have maintained their seat in Varth’am ever since. However, with the widowed Knightlord now aging well into his 60s with no sons of his own, the future of the Wardens’ seat in Varth’am is uncertain and political intrigue abounds.
The move to Varth’am did not spell the end for Harador Castle. It remains to this day one of the largest, sturdiest, and well-manned fortifications in all of Eastmach, with a commanding presence upon its high hill on the shores of Spine Lake. The castle and all its land holdings were granted to the Knight Lord’s younger brother and second-in-command, the Knight Marshal of Eastmach. Free from the more intense politics surrounding the Knight Lord’s official seat in Varth’am, the Knight Marshal established ties with Volanthia and under his command Harador Castle grew to take on new responsibilities as the unofficial protectors of the nearby fledgling city state of Volanthia.
The rulers of Volanthia, known as the Council of Archmages, reluctantly accept this protection from the “non-gifted”, acknowledging the Orders strength in martial training and military tactics which Volanthia sorely lacks. This is recognized by most as a relationship of convenience, for Volanthia is quite capable of defending its Sovereignty on its own. However, so long as friendly relationships are maintained, the Knights of Eastmach, particularly those hailing from Harador Castle, are some of the few non-gifted that are permitted entrance to the City of Mages on a regular basis.
The nature of the relationship between Volanthia and Harador Castle has bred some suspicious on both sides over the years. Among the more distrustful there exists a theory that Harador Castle plays a less friendly role in the local politics of the region. Some believe that the Knights true intent for their friendship with Volanthia is to spy on the City of Mages to ensure that nothing akin to Leonen’s Mage Rebellion could occur in Tolgatha, even going as far as to claim that the Knights of Eastmach report directly to the Patriarch King himself.
While most of this is unfounded accusations and conspiracy theories, there is no doubt that the Knights of Eastmach are far more knowledgeable regarding the Spiritual Arts of Magic than any other Knightly Order in Tolgatha, with interests known to extend beyond their own borders. The latest rumors even suggest that Knight Marshal Harador’s eldest Son, Falathrin, was sent by magical means to the Tindermoot where a war is brewing between a powerful Black Dragon Flight and Leonen’s Royal Order of Archons.