Jarl is the noble title given to the ruler of the Human kingdom of Norhast. The title came from the times when the Northmen lived among the giants of Jotunheld. The title, which literally means “Greatest”, came into formal use by the Northmen when Shalana Silvermyst called the first Conclave of the Seven Kingdoms during the War of the God King.
According to legend, when Shalana called for a single leader from among the Northmen, great squabbling arose as to who was worthy of going to the Conclave. Finally, a warrior by the name of Sigrond Eight-Fingers stepped forward and planted his spear in the ground. “Whoever can take this spear and hold it shall be our Jarl,” he proclaimed. He was rushed immediately by various warriors, and the fight lasted, they say, for over an hour, but, when the dust cleared, Sigrond was still defending the spear, and no one seemed inclined to continue to challenge him. He took the spear and traveled south to Tavanion, eventually becoming a great leader and hero of the War of the God King.
This tradition continues to this day. Whenever the Jarl of Norhast dies or willingly surrenders power, a great moot is held in the valley called Sigrond’s Challenge. Any Northman, male or female, is allowed to compete for a chance to be the Jarl. This hasn’t always led to the most even-tempered leaders among the Northmen, but it has cemented their reputation as a warrior people.
The current Jarl is a woman, Hilde Icereaver. She is a handsome woman, if not beautiful, and she has proven to be an excellent tactician and leader. Although she is not the strongest warrior, she has displayed very canny skills, and it was cunning that helped her win the spear and wolf cloak that designate the country’s leader. She has only been Jarl for about five years, and she was not old when she took the position, so, unless she falls in battle, it is likely she will be Jarl for many years.