The Duchy of Paix was, in its most recent history, a kingdom of its own. The kingdom of Paix was one of the many states that fought for control of Miles in the dark ages. It was eventually subordinated by the Milean kings and folded into the new empire. The old Paix family still rules in the Duchy and it takes care of itself much as though it was still an independent kingdom, though shipments of grain, wood, and stone still find their way in tribute to the emperor and tax collectors still lurk in Palais Vulir, Cassel Crois, and Talmirre to ensure that their emperor receives his just apportioning of their goods.
The Duchess, Elena of Paix, rules over the baronies of Fontbleu, Valbois, Pontmer, and Sethel. There are also three outer shires where, in ancient days Weyls and Thegnari were settled after the wars in the east. These shires (originally scirs in Eylic) are administered by officials known as shire reeves (sheriffs) drawn from the population and much more compliant than hereditary barons. The governance of the outer shires is much more like that of the Lamp Country and, consequently, has drawn a number of halflings down through Dirkshire and into the Duchy.
The southern baronies (colloquially known as the “south hamlets”) are protected by natural barriers on all sides save for the south, where the sea opens onto the dangerous mouths of the Aralen Straits. Those waters, swarming with elvish pirates from the Reaving Isles and the countless nameless rocks out amongst the spray, represent the Duchy’s greatest danger.
History of Pax, from Kingdom to Duchy
During the imperial period, the great bulk of Pax was uninhabited. It had been the heart of the Rhûnnic kingdom of the giants and still a pall of superstition surrounded its deep woods and strange hills. Wood elves dwelt there, primarily, as well as outlaws and those who sought to go beyond the range of imperial law.
A slow trickle of settlers made their way into old Rhûn until the mid-Eighth Age when Meirenians and Reavers took control of the coast and fought amongst each other. By the Ninth Age it had become a network of clashing warlords. From the chaos emerged a man named Colandrus the Peaceable who secured the Rhûnnic region into a coherent kingdom that took its name from his epithet: Pax.
Paix and Rhûn
The region of the empire from the Bay of Rhûn down to the Straits of Aralen, though divided into several areas (the County of Rûn, the Shires, and Paix), share a collective regional culture. They all speak with what is known as the Rhûnnish accent (very high and clipped form of Varan upon which modern High Varan has been based, through Colandrus III and this Grammar of the Avar Tongue). Rhûnnish wine tends to be more bitter and acerbic than those of the other imperial provinces. Indeed, the famous Rhûnnish bitters are a well-known export from the region.
There is also a common textura scripta or scribal hand known as the Rhûnnish Hand which is precise, legible, and rectilinear in a way that the court hands of Miles are not (they are generally fluid and looping). The region is filled with Rhûnnish fir, field maples, golden maples, Aurish alders, strawberry trees, bay laurel, Akish cypress, junipers, dwarf whitebea, and sentinel pines. Meadowsweet and bandit’s breath accompany morning glories and sprays of violets.
The Outer Shires
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