Systres History: Vastyr


Author (in-game): Varona Vedralu

By Varona Vedralu, Senior Lecturer, University of Gwylim

Settlements have sat on the southernmost shore of Galen since the time of Druid King Kasorayn. Excavation beneath the crowded cobblestones of the modern city of Vastyr have revealed examples of druid tunnels and ancient hovels, Draoife ritual sites, Sinestral war camps, Sword-Singer performance rings, and even the tell-tale signs of Sload slime-warrens.

The city as we know it today is a much more recent addition to the jeweled shores of the archipelago’s northernmost island. While Gonfalon Bay gets much (deserved!) credit as the heart of Baron-Admiral Olo’s ship-building endeavors, the great dense forests of Galen were far too tempting a prize for the shipbuilders of the All-Flags Navy to ignore.

Centuries of rule from the mainland left High Isle with the traditional copse-and-commoner system from the north shore to Gonfalon Bay. Galen, by contrast, was practically an untouched wilderness, as the druid circles had spent centuries maintaining its sanctity. Around 1E 2240, Baron-Admiral Bendu Olo and his staff ramped up their shipbuilding efforts. Readying for an assault on Thras, they knew that the verdant wilds of Galen—and the druids themselves—would be critical to the success of the fleet. Resources were coming from every port on the mainland, but an untapped resource like Galen couldn’t be ignored.

From the memoirs of Captain Forvse Nelvilo: “The admiral’s boots were as mired in mud as the rest of us as we rode the surf in the tenders. We’d sent ahead envoys to the druid council, but the beach was empty as he strode onto the sand. He glanced back and I saw a confident grin in the light of our torches. He turned, stood, and waited. And waited. I thought we’d be there all night, when suddenly bonfires at either end of the beach ignited, and there they were. All three circles, hundreds of druids. Their leaders came out to parley, but I already knew Old Olo had won them over.”

From those early days as a deepwater port and shipbuilding harbor for the All-Flags Navy, Vastyr was a blending of Breton and druidic culture. The city has always featured a set of standing stones as well as a space to worship the Divines, and a nuanced discussion of the True Way was just as common in its dockside taverns as noble gossip or bardic verse.

It truly came into its own early in the Second Era as the fortunes of House Mornard began to climb. Backbiting, bribery, and brutality earned Phane Mornard the spot of regional governor of the Systres Archipelago. While the family’s main concerns were the manor house on High Isle or the mining operations on Amenos, many within the house felt a strong connection to druidic culture thanks to Phane’s grandmother Dorona.

She was said to have deep ties to the Wyrd and the Green, and insisted the family invest in Vastyr for the good of the druids as well as for the familial line.

Mornard coin proved invaluable a few hundred years later in the wake of the Gathering Storm’s siege of the city. The fall of the Empire created chaos across Tamriel. The Systreans had to weather a storm just as bad as the Tamsfolk, as would-be rulers and pretender kings assaulted the archipelago no less than six times in a hundred year span. The sacking of Vastyr in 2E 365 was one of the most violent moments in the island’s history, seeing half the city destroyed and most of its citizens scattered to the wilderness.

While the later actions of Duke Ruffe Mornard would speak to a despotic manner, his ancestor was revered as the rebuilder and patron of a new Vastyr. Bernique was known as the “mother of the city” for decades after the siege, as coin and comforts from across Mornard holdings allowed the city to rebuild and refine their place in the world. The towering walls at either end of Vastyr Bay are remnants of this era, as is the expansive manor that now dominates the city’s skyline.

After the twin disasters of the Knahaten Flu and Ranser’s War, House Mornard withdrew to Vastyr to lick its wounds and plan for the future. The modern city serves as a melting pot of High Isle, druidic, and mainland culture. Ideas from across the world flow through its gates, as druid crafts sail beyond its walls to patrons across the continent.

Vastyr has ever been a handhold of “civilized” culture on the edge of the Galen wilds. A city of many worlds, many cultures, and much promise.

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