The Whisperer in Darkness
County of Wellis
Wellis County is a province of Alba which covers the entirety of Wellis Island, a landmass off the southern coast of Isalfyrne. Battered by storms coming in from the Atlantean Ocean, it can be a harsh place to live and remains sparsely populated to this day. Most of the population are engaged in agriculture or fishing. Though many trade ships pass through Jarvis Bay, for historical reasons most hug the mainland coast rather than travel out to the island, so Wellis is almost entirely excluded from any of the lucrative merchant income that benefits the rest of the south coast regions. The only real impact that trade has upon the island is the continued, though declining, garrisons at The Needles, a pair of almost identical fortresses placed at the east and west extremities to guard the entrances to the bay against incursion by pirates and fleets from enemy nations. Each fort is situated just offshore and has capacity for a thousand men at arms and a small harbour for up to fifty warships. Due to the general peacefulness of the area, and the lack of any resistance movements in the area, the usual garrison is only twenty, with a small vessel to resupply from the island itself.
Since ancient times, the population of Wellis has consisted of five main clans. Though they live in close proximity, the low population and the necessity for full time farming to make ends meet has kept their dealings with each other mostly peaceful. At the beginning of the 2nd century P.U. chieftains Joodel and Kripps approached the Maeran Confederation with a view to having their tribes join the alliance. The Maerans, having expanded quickly over the preceeding decades, were loathe to add anyone else to their alliance while they were consolidating, so to sweeten their bid the Chieftains inflated stories of precious minerals on the island and bribed some surveyors to provide supporting documents. The deception worked and the Maerans shipped large amounts of mining equipment to the island while they began proceedings to incorporate the Wellesian tribes into the confederation. Additionally, large amounts of money were paid to the two devious chieftains to convince the rest of their people of the wisdom of joining. But the vast majority of the islanders refused to give up any of their independence, especially since they doubted the surveyors’ reports. After a decade of pouring money into the island, the news that they were not to be allowed access to its minerals greatly displeased the Maerans and they angrily demanded the return of their investment. Having never experienced such riches as had been showered upon them, the islanders had already spent much of the bribe money and the miners had yet to find any trace of the promised wealth.
After an announcement that the Maerans wanted their money or would take it by force, the chieftains of Wellis (now minus Joodel and Kripps, cast out for their schemes) sent word asking for assistance. But poor as they were, it appeared they would be unable to find anyone who would help them. After a long winter in which their situation looked bleak they were finally contacted by the Elven Empire, which promised to defend the island in return for using it as a base to launch an invasion of the mainland. The chiefs accepted and allowed an army to their shores. Though the Wellesians have never owned any warships, they were invited to join the inexperienced crews of the great elf vessels which had been built for the expedition and helped beat back the fleets sent against their homes. The foreign host camped for nearly a year, stockpiling supplies and preparing for the attack, and it left a lasting impression upon the island in their poetry and song, which have a distinctly elven flavour, as well as their fishing vessels which are built with beautiful flowing lines not seen in the designs of other workboats from Isalfyrne.
The Empire’s attack was a great success, leading to the creation of the province of Veriibel and securing the future of Wellis for nearly 300 years. Allied to the elves, Wellis remained independent and set itself up as an alternative stop off point for ships crossing to the Americas. However, with the occupation of Veriibel in 74 U.I., all this was ended and the Albans overran the island later that year, demolishing the port to prevent competition with their own coastal towns. Though the conquerors built The Needles to secure their rule, their only real goal in invading was to bring Wellis into line, since there are few exportable goods produced there. Thus, life in the county quickly reverted back to the subsistence farming that had predominated before the elves arrived, and the trading towns which had sprung up were mostly deserted.
Today Wellis is a quiet backwater and its name is barely remembered by many in Alba. Life on the island is consistent and predictable, much to the disgust of youths growing up there. Lord Wellis spends most of his time trying to mediate between the different factions in the Quorum of the Five Clans, usually on trivial matters relating to half forgotten superstitions. And every day, hard and weather beaten men say farewell to their families and sail into the unpredictable fury of the Bay of Jarvis, perhaps never to be seen again.