Rostland was first inhabited by Taldan explorers in the latter half of the Age of Enthronement under the leadership of Baron Sirian First, a hotheaded, impulsive noble forced to emigrate from Taldor after losing one too many duels. After the fledgling colony suffered a number of brutal attacks from bandit lords to the south, First accepted a challenge from the ruling bandit lord in 3035 AR to duel for the future of the burgeoning settlement. Unable to best the bandit king, First paid his wager and disappeared, most assuming he was gone for good, too embarrassed to show his face after the defeat. In 3044 AR, First returned a changed man.
Answering to the name Sirian Aldori, the “Sword Baron” challenged the bandit lord to a rematch and defeated him handily in seconds. He followed this with a standing offer of 100,000 gold pieces as a reward for any who could best him in a battle of blades. None could defeat him, whether through legitimate means or trickery and magic. At first, Aldori refused to teach any of his techniques, but he eventually capitulated and began to train a select group of swordsmen under certain stipulations. These conditions ensured that each student swore to change their name to Aldori, never teach their techniques to any outside the Aldori swordpact and were sworn to uphold a secret pact of honor.
These swordsmen became known as the Aldori swordlords. They ruled Rostland for generations, each as prickly and impulsive as the order's founder.
The Aldori Sworldlords ruled for over a thousand years – and their influence spread to Lake Rykal in the west and Skywatch in the north. Their area of influence was delineated by the three towns of Stetven, Restov and Skywatch. While the land between The Icerime Mountains and Gronzi Forest (Now known as the Duchy of Stonewall, home of the Meveyed) was never really controlled by Aldori swordlords, although trade caravans between Restov and Skywatch meant a healthy respect grew up between the two cultures. Both groups were led by warlord/chieftains, both had a strong respect for their leaders and both recognized Erastil as an important deity.
To the north Surtova, the Pirate Kings and their vassels ruled the coastal area. The Orlovsky, technically independent, relied on the Surtova for trade, and were heavily beholden to the Pirate Kings.
Rather than one ruler the Aldori were independent small rulers, bound together by the sword pact, and the sword pact ruled supreme. Aldori families used to send the best of each generation to train as Swordlords - who then returned to rule their families and estates. Some houses were more important than others of course, especially those directly linked to the Sword Baron’s line, but the sword pact ruled. They honed their skills duelling, skirmishing with each other and fighting the bandits to the south and the Issians to the north – and then Choral came …
You can still see lingering Aldori influence in Stonewall, along the eastern borders of Brevoy – an area where Erastil is seen as an important deity, and small family groups have a lot of influence in the way the duchy is ruled.
In 4499 AR, the armies of Choral the Conqueror swept into Rostland, and despite a strong resistance mustered by the swordlords, the nation fell at the barbarian's hand and at the talons of his red dragon servitors. The most memorable conflict between the Rostlandi and Choral's armies is now known as the Valley of Fire, and somber songs of swordlord Estruan Aldori's defeat remain a popular aspect of folk culture in Brevoy, the River Kingdoms, and Mendev. After annihilating the Rostlandi army, Choral's red dragons turned their attention to Rostland itself, and initiated a brutal onslaught of fire and blood that brought the once-proud nation to its knees. In only a handful of days, the people of Rostland surrendered to their new ruler and his heirs in House Rogarvia.
Many Aldori swordlords fled Rostland under Choral's rule, establishing a strong presence in the city of Mivon to the south, amid the River Kingdoms. Others fled to the Free City of Restov in the far south of Brevoy. The Aldori stronghold of Skywatch maintained the resistance even after the rest of Rostland had fallen, but even this seat of independent Aldori power was reduced to ashes by Choral and his dragons, eventually to be rebuilt by House Rogarvia.
Over the 200(or so) years since Choral Conquest of Brevoy the Aldori have had to change.
Those who went to Mivon, perhaps, bear most similarity to those prickly, impulsive ancestors who ruled Rostland. They still maintain The Sword Pact, although they add the Aldori to their House name, rather than adopt it completely. However, they keep the skills and the techniques within their own houses, and it is said that there are as many Duelling styles in Mivon as there are Aldori Houses.
The Mivon Aldori families tend to be self-centred and do little more that tolerate other groups in Mivon. Unless you are doing something that they think benefits them you will be heavily taxed, and those taxes are used to benefit the ruling families, rather than the city as a whole. The common folk here, do not live a good life, which has led to a number of gangs tasking control of the lower parts of town.
Much of the family income is generated from hiring out mercenary troops, although they also own most of the tenements and common housing in the city - and rents are high.
One exception was House Khavortorov, who retained their lands by forging a relationship with Choral and his ruling house. For 200 years, they served as his mercenaries i, often in concert with House Ventus, the Rogavian’s go-to house of sorcerors. Now they have started to extend their influence, and have started to build bridges with the other two Aldori factions.
House Khavortorov are warriors and mercenaries. The most skilful are trained in the way of the Aldori, but anyone else with a military aptitude receives appropriate training as well. While the cream of Khavortorov forces are Aldori, the house fields mounted knights, swordsmen, scouts and guards as part of their military units too. Even their conventionally trained troops carry duelling swords, in place of long swords. Traditionally, fully trained swordlords from the upper echelons of the house.
Their citadel is little more than a large barracks and sword school, and their lands are always well defended.
Once Choral had conquered the land that was to become Brevoy, he claimed the central area, the remains of Stetven and Lake Reykal for himself – and those Aldori who lived in the west moved away. While some followed the route to Mivon and the city dwellers made their way to Restov, others moved east and started to rebuild the farms and settlements that Choral had destroyed. They stayed low-key, building slowly, not flaunting their Aldori past – but maintained their culture, and the Sword Pact in a quieter, less obvious ways. However, most of East Rostland is populated with Aldori, or Aldori supporting families. When the Rogavia disappeared, and Surtova came to the throne, the East Rostland Aldori brought out their duelling swords again and started to declare their allegiance to the Aldori ideals, some started to send their children to the Aldori Academy, rather than relying on private tuition and the Aldori started to become visible again.
Now the Aldori name was reserved for individuals who achieved SwordLord status, rather than whole noble houses. For example, those members of House Blain, who are trained swordlords, would be called Aldori-Blain, while the others would just be called Blain. Most houses just put their senior people through Aldori training, although a few still follow a more traditional route of training as many suitable members as they can. However, a number of 'Spiritual Aldori' families have very few (if any) members who have taken the Aldori-Surname version.
Of course, those furthest away from New Stetven are the loudest in their support – those closer to the metropolis tend to be a quieter and less ostentatious. It is these eastern Aldori who are Lady Jamandi’s strongest supporters. There may be a few Aldori supporters in West Rostland, but if they are there, they are keeping a very low profile.
When the Civil War was averted, Lady Jamandi was recognized as Countess of East Rostland. Now she is building a town and fortress to serve as her capital.
Restov is seen as the spiritual home of the Aldori, and Aldori make up a sizeable proportion of the population - but they aren't in the majority. the town is run by business oriented families who are keen to maintain their position in the world, keep their fortunes and not upset the king. After all, their only real trade route for their grain is the overland trade route to New Stetven - and new Steven is their main customer ….
Once the civil war was averted, and Lady Jamandi declared Countess rostland, she stood down from her role as First Swordlord, and that role passed to Senior Swordlord Aldori-Porter Principal of the Aldori Academy. While the Aldori, and their supporters, are highly influential, they do not control The Free City of Restov and care must be takedn to work with the merchants and other factions on the council.
A few things bind the Aldori together, no matter what their political position or personal outlook is. Duelling, The Valley of Fire, The Sword Pact and a sense of family loyalty means they are seen, by many, as a single group.
Duelling, and the Aldori Duelling Sword, is perhaps the biggest single factor that sets Aldori apart from other groups. Sirian First, the founder of the Aldori was a renowned Taldan Duellist who lost his holdings in Rostland in a duel. He returned later with a brand-new duelling style, and brand-new name - Sirian Aldori. After winning his holdings back, he went on to establish the state of Rostland and the Aldori duelling tradition.
While duelling has always been a popular activity amongst the military and noble families, but for the Aldori it is something more than a military practice and training technique - Aldori Duelling is an important part of their identity. Other duellist are to be respected and admired, after all the First baron learned to duel with other weapons before he discovered the Aldori style - but Aldori is best!
The way the Aldori were defeated by Choral the Conqueror at The Valley of Fire has affected the Aldori for generations. They lost control of Rostland and their leadership and military were severely damaged. There is some resentment between the different Aldori factions over the ways they dealt with the conquest - but that deep underling resentment is still there. They all still believe the Aldori have a right to own and rule Rostland and they all dream of a united Aldori 'nation' - although there isn't much consensus of what that nation should look like.
Most Aldori hunkered down and kept a low profile for the two hundred years of Rogavian rule, working their land under the rule of Rogavian governors of Rostland. These 'country farmers' kept the Aldori Stories alive and followed many of the old Aldori practices in private. This supported the higher profile Aldori presence in the Free City of Restov, with its duelling schools and associated culture. The Aldori didn't control Restov, but they were influential. House Khavortorov, also chose to keep their heads down, although they decided to 'work with the enemy' and became the Rogavian's go-to mercenary group. This worked well for their family, and although they dropped the Aldori name, they became the most successful of the Brevic Aldori.
The leaders of the Mivon Aldori decided to leave, as they could not stand the idea of being ruled by an outsider. Instead they went south, subjugated the bandit rulers of the region and built Mivon into the city that it is today, and established a new Aldori homeland. However, the great Aldori families have squabbled continuously about who is 'senior' and who should rule Mivon, which has led to a disjointed and somewhat chaotic rule. They have developed a political system based on the Aldori Duelling tradition - with the best duellists having the right to run the city. Some might call it a meritocracy - others call it a recipe for disaster. One thing they are all agreed on, is that Aldori are superior to just about anyone else, so the city is managed to support the Aldori elite, perhaps at the expense of the pegion's people.
The original Sword pact had members change thei name to Aldori,swear to a code of honour and not to teach The Art of Aldori duelling to outsiders. However, the sword pact was broken (or at least severely damaged) after the Valley of Fire. As the three groups went their own ways and each group applied a different version of the Sword Pact. However, all three versions of these New Sword Pacts contain something of the originbal - and (in all cases) Swordlord, as a title, is reserved for those who are fully trained Adori Swordlords.
In Mivon, all members of an Aldori Noble family can be trained in the duelling style and can use the Aldori name (ie Yitis-Aldori) - although many times it is not used in general conversation. In Rostland and Restov the Aldori name is reserved for individuals who achieved SwordLord status, which means some members of House Blain (for example) would be called Aldori-Blain, others would just be called Blain. House Khavortorov do not use the Aldori name at all, even for fully trained members of their family, although Aldori training is restricted to those who swear loyalty to the Khavortorov.
Few of those who train in the Aldori style become a fully fledged Swordlord and, while there are more who get close (Fighters) there are many who don't (warriors). These lesser Aldori form the basis of Aldori mercenary units, city guards and other similar functions.