When the hordes of Iuz descended into the Bandit Kingdoms, they were met with a hodge-podge of resistance. Most of the Free Lords' armies that did resist them were comprised of bandits and brigands and lacked the tactics to defeat an opponent with superior numbers. The freemen of Johrase, however, were not so easily defeated.
The realm of Johrase was situated west of the Zumker-Artonsamay confluence, extending southwest from the town of Kinemeet to the Rift Barrens and the Tangles. Established by Andrellus, a noble of Aerdy’s Rax dynasty, he established an orderly nation of his own in the lands of the Free Lords. This kingdom evolved into a warrior dominated society that produced some of the finest mercenaries employed in the Flanaess. Each noble house within Johrase fielded its own mercenary Troop loyal to their king and their fellow Johrase brethren. Even if employed by opposing armies, the mercenaries of Johrase refuse to fight those loyal to the black Morningstar standard of Johrase.
The army of Johrase was made up of bands of mercenaries called Troops. Each troop lead by a noble. The nobles leading these Troops gain their position through skill at arms and combat through the Grand Melee, which decides the nobility, and even the king or queen. The size of each band varied on the renown and skill of the noble leading them. The smaller Troops consisted of around one hundred mercenaries, while the larger Troops numbered between three to four hundred.
At the time of the Iuzian invasion, King Seinon knew that his nation stood little chance of repelling the invaders on their own and allied quickly with Dimre. King Seinon and the Johrase Mercenary Troops fought a delaying action to give Dimre time mobilized their small but highly trained army. The plan was for the Dimre forces to man fortresses along their border with Johrase, and then the Johrasians would fall back into Dimre.
Relying on the stronger Dimre defenses to save the day, King Seinon gave up Kinemeet.
King Seinon gathered his forces in the hills to the southeast of Kinmeet and north of Cornwald. Here he intended to briefly engage the Iuzians before breaking ranks in an orderly fashion and cross over into Dimre. Unfortunately, the Battle of Barston Hill did not go the way he expected it to. The Johrasians were ready to fight against the humanoids they knew fought for Iuz and relished the opportunity. They were unprepared for the demons.
As the horde drew near, a thick cloud of magical fog descended upon the battlefield. Visibility limited the Johrasians were unaware of the demonic forces mingled in amongst the humanoids. As the engagement commenced, Seinon quickly realized that they could not hold the Iuzian horde and were quickly being overwhelmed. He ordered Lord Marstun and Lady Orlease to hold the flanks so that the bulk of the army could withdraw, but Lord Marstun and his men fled, ignoring the order. As the right flank crumbled, the withdraw broke down into a route. If not for the iron discipline of the Johrasians, the day would have turned from a complete route into a complete slaughter.
King Seinon, along with Lord Badric and Lady Folsterie, were cut off and encircled. Some of the other Lords attempted to breakthrough and save the king, but they too were soon enveloped by the Iuzian horde. As King Seinon fought on, the trumpets continued to sound the retreat. In the end, of the twelve mercenary Troops that made up the Johrase Host, only five escaped the battle. Of the seven Troops that were wiped out, all the Lords were either slain or captured. The fate of King Seinon is still unknown, but those who survived believe that he also fell in the battle. Of the Troops that survived, Lady Orlease, Lord Krulden, and Lord Calvert were able to make it to Dimre. Lord Ovlin and Lord Garon were able to flee into Tenh.
After the War
During the war, the Troops of Lords Krulden, Calvert, and Lady Orlease fought alongside Dimre's forces until the war's conclusion. At the end of the war High Canon Winuid offered the Johrasians to join Dimre as new citizens by swearing fealty to the High Canon and Pholtus. The offer was politely rejected, and the Troops of Lord Krulden, Calvert, and Lady Orlease were asked to leave as soon as possible, which they did, traveling to the County of Urnst.
Upon entering the lands of Tenh, Lord Olvin and Lord Garon found immediate employment working for Duke Ehyeh, but when he was unable to pay them, they switched allegiances. Lord Olvin and his men went into the service of the County of the Urnst. Their role remained the same in supporting Duke Ehyeh of Tenh, but now they took their orders from the county instead. Lord Garon and his Troop took up employment working for Stonehold. This arrangement only lasted until the end of the War when the funds from Stonehold dried up as they lost interest in Tenh. Lord Garon and his men then found ready employment working for the Theocracy of the Pale. Since the end of the war, the five remaining Lords, came together for a conference in Redspan. There they discussed the future of Johrase and the succession of the throne. In traditional Johrasian fashion, a Grand Melee was held with all those who wished to vie for the vacant kingship to enter the tournament. Whenever a Grand Melee is held, which is usually every ten years, or during special circumstances, the leadership of the Troops is also settled.
Over the next week, the leadership of the kingdom of Johrase in exile was decided. Of the Five remaining Troops, Lord Krulden was deposed, and the Lordship of his Troop was taken by his lieutenant Artallis. Lord Calvert, Lord Olvin, and Lord Garon retained their Lordships, and Lady Orlease won the grand prize and Became Queen Orlease of Johrase. Lordship of Lady Orlease’s Troop was won by her lieutenant, Pernilla.
Since the defeat at the Battle of Barston Hill, survivors had trickled in and attached themselves to the other Troops. Queen Orlease conscripted them into her new House Troop, or personal guard. Command of this Troops was given to former Lord Krulden, who she recruited to be her new First Lieutenant.
The Future for Johrase
Queen Orlease knows that alone she and her Lords have no chance of retaking their homeland. Still, she does know that an opportunity will present itself eventually. She has served alongside evil commanders and humanoid armies in the past. It has taught her one thing, they lack discipline and cohesion. Until that time comes, Orlease needs to ensure that her nation in exile and the Troops of Johrase Host grows and becomes stronger. To ensure this, the Troops of Johrase will do what they have always done, contract themselves out as mercenaries. Fortunately, the war has provided many displaced warriors looking for new homes that can be brought into the fold to bolster their ranks. The Troops' earnings under contract, too, will begin to rebuild the kingdom's war chest.
Lord Garon and his Troop have remained in the employ of the Theocracy of the Pale. Lord Artallis and Lord Calvert are currently employed by the County of Urnst in Tenh. At the same time, Lady Pernilla found work fighting for Mortoth in Rookroost against former Free Lord rebels of the bandit kingdoms. Lord Olvin and Queen Orlease alternate between working for the Kingdom of Furyondy and the Shield Lands depending on whom can afford their services at the time.
Besides fighting for pay to replenish the kingdom's war chest, Queen Orlease is busy grooming the best lieutenants from the remaining Troops to become Lords when they have enough new mercenaries to fill them. Soon she will call another Grand Melee to determine who these new Lords will be.
Queen Orlase: Orlease is a strong leader and a competent warrior. Tactics, on the other hand, are not her strong point. Fortunately, she does not let her ego get in the way of listening to her advisors when devising and implementing strategy.
Orlease, like the other Lords, is loyal to the sons and daughters Johrase. However, her loyalty is tempered with realism, which keeps her from wasting the power they currently have before the time is right. The day will come when opportunity knocks, and Queen Orlease vows they will be ready to reclaim their homeland.
Lord Olvin: Or the weasel, as many calls him behind his back, is by far the most sneaky and underhanded of all the Johrase Lords, prefering ambush over a straight-up fight. Slight of frame and stature, he makes up for his lack of physical prowess by using poisons and dirty tricks.
Many thought that Lord Olvin would turn traitor and seek employment with the Iuzians after the Battle of Barston Hill. Still, much to everyone’s surprise, he did not. On the contrary, Olvin has become one of the loudest voices in opposition to Iuz and thinks they should be fighting a guerrilla war.
Lord Calvert: Calvert the Cautious is a title that is often used when speaking of this Lord. Calvert thinks it's always best to outnumber your enemy or to have a significant enough advantage to ensure victory. Despite his cautiousness, Calvert is a very skilled warrior and tactician.
Lord Calvert prefers working for the County of Urnst, especially now that the fighting has dwindled down to only minor skirmishes in Tenh where he's stationed.
Lord Garon: Lord Garon is a braggart and a pompous ass to all, excluding his brothers in arms and fellow Johrasians. The exception to this rule is Lord Calvert, whom Garon despises as a coward. Garon is brave, courageous, and thinks nothing of taking risks. His rash behavior has gotten him into many difficult situations in the past, but his luck so far has kept him alive.
Garon is of average build and size, but his lust for battle and victory is unmatched on the battlefield. Of all the Johrase Troops, Lord Garon’s at just over one hundred mercenaries is the smallest.
Lady Pernilla: Lady Pernilla, or the Lady of Pain as she is often referred to, was once Lady Orlease’s Lieutenant. Quick-witted and a deadly combatant wielding dual longswords, Pernilla enjoys inflicting pain upon her enemies as much as defeating them. Fortunately for Queen Orlease, Pernilla is fanatically loyal to her queen.
Pernilla is a tall, sturdy, and strong woman. She has a friendly rivalry with Lord Garon and shares his dislike of Lord Calvert.
Lord Artallis: Artallis is the youngest and the newest of the Lords. Despite his age, his skill with the blade is unquestionable. A strapping young man Artallis also has an innate sense of tactics and is a loyal Johrasian. It surprised no one that he was able to defeat Krulden and take charge of his Troop.
Artallis is eager to prove himself to his new queen and eager for the battle to liberate their homeland. Many say that unless he befalls an unfortunate accident, Artallis himself could become King of Johrase someday.
How to Use the Johrase Mercenary Troops in your Game:
Despite the loss of their homeland, the Johrase are still the disciplined mercenaries that have seen employment and action across the Flanaess. Famed for their skill and code of honor, Johrasian mercenaries are never questioned if they will perform according to their contract terms. The only stipulation that trumps all contracts and duties entrusted to them is that they will not fight a fellow Johrasian on the battlefield. While trial by combat is a time-honored tradition for determining the ruling elite and settling certain scores, it is always done in an orderly and honorable fashion.
Despite what is outlined in this article, the Johrase Mercenary Troops have fought all over the Flanaes and will do so again. The contracts that they are currently under could run out at any time. Johrase Troops could play a pivotal role in a campaign that revolves around war or even occupation.
While in the past, the bulk of the mercenaries that made up the Troops were drawn from the citizenry of Johrase itself, but since losing their homeland, this has created a problem. In the past, mercenaries from other lands could gain entry into one of the Johrasian Troops, but that required several years of working as an auxiliary first. With the need for more manpower, Queen Orlease has waved this traditional service period and left the discretion of recruitment up to the Lords that run the Troops. Characters could petition for acceptance into one of the troops and fight in their campaigns.