Bannhurst and Wolfstone Castle.
Lord Berenal Grayblade
Southern Gilneas, the Ashen Coast
Bannhurst is a Gilnean city in the northwestern regions of the Ashen Coast that was destroyed several years after the end of the Second War by a group of bandits by the name of the Seventh Skull Legion. Bannhurst and the surrounding lands were once under the rule of the House of Cobalstant, but the lands were later given to the House of Grayblade following the murder of the Cobalstant family. It is the capitol of the duchy and home to the Blades of Greymane.
During Strom's colonization of the peninsula known as Gilneas, two families by the names of Cobal and Stanton had established themselves and their followers in the northern most regions of the Ashen Coast, the Cobals establishing Cobal's Hold and the Stantons establishing Karnsburg. Rivalry for land and power in the area caused a vicious blood feud to break out amongst the two families that waged on for generations. After the near destruction of both family's holds, a fragile truce was made by the marriage of a Cobal son and a Stanton daughter. With Cobal's Hold and Karnsburg left in a poor state, the two united families combined what remained of their people and wealth and established a town within the Blood Fields, which gained its name from being the main site of battle between the two families and the driving reason why many dared not risk venturing past what would later become the Range.
The city of Bannhurst was established on the Blood Fields around 20 U.A.R. and experienced a very lucky start. Shortly after colonization of the area, a large gold mine filled with rich precious minerals was discovered. The discovery of the mine revived the coffers of both families and caused Bannhurst to prosper. The discovery of the mine and the rich natural resources of the Ashen Coast also attracted a large amount of attention, drawing in many families to settle in the Ashen Coast as well, establishing towns and the three marches, The Range, The Reach and The Bite.
Bannhurst continued to prosper under the Cobals and Stantons as the Ashen Coast became the center of commerce in the area. The area's population boomed as a result of the incoming amount of wealth to the area, leading to a rapid growth and expansion of Bannhurst's borders. Unfortunately, the rapid growth of Bannhurst also caused a strain on the two families as tensions rose over control of Bannhurst, each family trying to establish themselves as the head family.
When the call went out across Gilneas for succession from Arathor, the families' truce was starting to wane, as old hatreds for who should have the most power over the bustling Bannhurst began to grow. In order to stave off this inevitable war, the families united under one name, Cobalstant. This was done in order to brand those that went to war with one another as kin-slayer, a great dishonor in their society that would forever destroy the repute of those with its brand. A risky gambit that succeeded would lead the Cobalstants to the forefront of Gilnean nobility as one of the largest families in Gilneas, establishing Cobalstant Manor in the town of Bannhurst. As a sign of their prestige, the Cobalstants all carried black Hearthstones with brown runes, made by their kinsmen.
Seat of a KingdomEdit
Just before 300 F.A., the reigning lord of the House of Cobalstant and Duke of the Ashen Coast, Beauforth Cobalstant II, had noticed a considerable lack of interest in the management of the Ashen Coast region by the House of Greymane. Seizing the opportunity, Beauforth began to amass a large standing army within the region. After word had reached King Greymane of the alarming amount of armed men, Beauforth merely put it off as being a precautionary measure against roaming hordes of bandits that had sprung up due to a lack of centralized guard forces; yet even then the king remained suspicious as the amount of men rallied was far more than what would be necessary to quell bandit problems. On the eve of 300 F.A., Beauforth declared himself King of the Ashen Coast, invading the Fallow Crest and occupying lands that belonged to various families such as the House of Grayblade and a few others. Behind him were the local families of the House of Greyfield and House of Gregor, the two most prominent families in the region. With the exception of the Wickers, who were later enslaved, the Cobalstants declared themselves separate. Conquering the Fallow Crest quite easily, the new born kingdom caused a rift in Gilneas for years as they attempted to take more and more land as they stretched towards the eastern regions of Gilneas, absorbing almost the entire south and eastern shores.
Refusing to allow an upstart to destroy what his ancestors had created, King Greymane rallied an army of faithful with him to begin liberating and laying siege to the Ashen Coast. Initial battles were disastrous for the Greymane host, as the choke point of the river that separated the Ashen Coast from the rest of Gilneas was heavily defended, and the Fallow Crest still hosted a large portion of the military amongst the various settlements that dotted the region. After several years of war, it appeared that the Ashen Coast would become a separate kingdom on their own right, as Greymane was unable to dislodge them or capture their leadership. It was not until Greymane received contact from the ruling lord of House Gregor that the King had a shot at dismantling this new threat. Displeased with the war mongering of King Cobalstant and the lack to make good on his promises made of prosperity (in truth, the Ashen Coast had suffered as the farms were left unattended due to the sheer amount of levies that were raised for the King's armies.) and the King's refusal to marry his youngest son to one of the Gregor's daughters, Lord Gregor approached King Greymane with a proposition. By the graveyard of Aderic's Repose, which was treated by both sides as neutral ground, the Gregors proposed a passageway that led from Gilneas City to the Range. Disguised as Gregor men returning from the front, King Greymane would have been given permission to rampage across the Ashen Coast under the rule that those in Lord Gregor's protection would remain untouched.
The deal was made and Greymane's host was unleashed onto the Ashen Coast. Rather than pillage or ransack the area, Greymane occupied the city of Bannhurst and captured King Cobalstant in his own home. Bringing him to Gilneas City to answer for his crimes of treason, the King was executed and the kingdom disbanded 10 years after its forming. Though his son was allowed to succeed him as Lord of the house, as punishment the House of Cobalstant's previous title as lords of the Duchy of the Ashen Coast was dismissed, breaking the Ashen Coast into the March of the Bite, and the Range and Reach as separate counties outside of the Cobalstant's jurisdiction. Granted the title of Marcher Lord to prevent any potential uprisings as a result of this split, the Cobalstant family suffered an enormous blow to their prestige.
War in the Ashen CoastEdit
As time went on, the regions began to have a mix of religions within them. After the Second War of Thorns, the Wicker clans had scattered and the Old Ways began to pick up around the Ashen Coast. The Bite was full of strong worshipers of the Holy Light, while the northern portion of the Range and the Reach, which were mostly agrarian, were strong supporters of the Old Ways and refused to worship the light. To add further religious confusion, worship of the god Dreayus was adopted the southern portions of the Range and the Reach. With Bannhurst caught in the center, religious tension broke out within the area. As the strongest family in the area, the Cobalstants believed that Bannhurst should be kept to Light worship, seeking to oust Old Ways worship and especially worship of the god Dreayus who they believed an extreme affront to their ways and a foreign god with no right to the region.
By 600 F.A., Light worship began to cull most of the beliefs within the Bite. Fervent to see their religion become dominant, the Cobalstants began to use under handed methods of removing Dreayus worship from the Ashen Coast.
In retaliation, an alliance was formed between the southern Range and Reach by the name of the Ashen Coast Coalition, and rather than pushing for stealthy methods, a direct siege on Bannhurst was preformed in order to severely hurt the Cobalstant's wealth. The assault attracted a large amount of attention to the Ashen Coast by the rest of Gilneas, with other houses silently supporting the Dreayus worshipers with hopes of displacing the wealthy Cobalstants and establishing some hold in the area for their own gain.
Fearing for their people, who were being caught in the middle of it all, the northern Reach and Range banded together in an alliance of their own named the Rose Pact, laying siege to Bannhurst in order to displace both the Cobalstants and the Ashen Coast Coalition. The three way war in the city led to a severe decline of Bannhurst's prosperity, with the Cathedral's construction site destroyed and the great gold mine of Bannhurst being left unmanned. Unable to reap the benefits of the Ashen Coast, the armies of Greymane marched into the region, occupying the wreckage of Bannhurst and effectively ending the war. By the end of the strife, the worshipers of Dreayus had been wiped out.
The Cobalstants funded the rebuilding of these two regions, establishing chapels of the Light, while the followers of the Old Ways in the northern Reach, even as the Holy Light began to spread. However, in Gregor's Crossing, fearing for their safety, a large amount of the followers of the Old Ways departed from the region. Led by a knightly house under the House of Gregor by the name of House Darkwater, the Old Ways followers departed into the Dusk Thicket.
As a result, the majority of the Range converted to Light worship over time. As the generations went on, many began to forget their pagan roots and the region's Dreayus worshipers went into hiding.
For centuries after the destruction of Brandon's Stead and its rebuilding, the lords of the southern Reach, House Greyfield, plotted against the Cobalstants. In 943 F.A., with the Ashen Coast Coalition's failure echoing in their history for hundreds of years and the family having been degraded among the three great families, the Greyfields hired Alteraci assassins to destroy House Cobalstant. For the most part, it was successful, being a large house and its members spread wide, Cobalstants began turning up dead for months following the contract given. Fearing for their lives, most of the Cobalstants attempted to flee to Bannhurst to Cobalstant Manor, where Marcher Lord Hendrick Cobalstant ruled over the town.
Unable to house the influx of his relatives, Hendrick sent them away from Bannhurst, giving them refuge on small holds and minor farms, the majority of them setting up in the Barony of Graston and the Barony of Shorfall. Though those in Shorfall fared horribly, those within Graston were able to do well under the leadership of Jackson Cobalstant and his guard. However, despite this, the assassins eventually made their way through his defenses and slaughtered Jackson's kin before approaching the man himself. Promising the men wealth beyond their reason if they aided him, the Alteraci mercenaries discarded their Greyfield banners and went under Jackson's employ. Feigning his demise, Jackson took on the persona of Harrison Marsh, who wooed and married Elisa Greyfield, the daughter of the lord of the House of Greyfield. With their charming new son in law, the Greyfields believed this a turn for their luck. In the night, Jackson had each Greyfield aside from his wife slain.
Infuriated with his kin for having turned his family away and in his eyes leading to their deaths, Jackson led his band into Bannhurst under the guise of marauding bandits of unknown origin. After sacking half of the town, Jackson and Hendrick faced off in single combat, where Marsh was beheaded and House Greyfield was made nearly defunct with the murder of Elisa. Jackson's son, Kendrick Greyfield (given his mother's surname to hide Harrison's true origins), was adopted by the Cobalstants and later groomed to be their puppet as the effectively gained control over most of the Ashen Coast.
During this time, a large amount of Cobalstant Hearthstones were destroyed, and the secrets of how to make them were lost to time, becoming an extremely rare object and the sign of a true Cobalstant. Though it went unheard of for many years, Marsh's true identity was later revealed following the destruction of the House of Cobalstant some hundreds of years later; within journals found in their archives.
Demise of House CobalstantEdit
Following Marsh's Uprising, Bannhurst was left mostly untouched. While believed for a time to be perfect for Bannhurst's resurgence, a string of incompetent leaders stunted its growth. From the years of the Uprising onward, House Cobalstant's care for its towns waned and by the time of the First War, Bannhurst was a husk of the city it was once in history.
By the time the Second War began near 1120 F.A., the Cobalstants had all but left the area to rot, having imposed overly high taxes and demands of the people that left most families starving. Led by Galen Hallowfield, the citizens of Bannhurst stormed Cobalstant Manor in a rage, slaughtering the lord Balferd Cobalstant and his family. With no Cobalstants remaining, House Grayblade, a Fallow Crest family, was found to have Cobalstant blood. The then lord, Haverin Grayblade, was found to have a Cobalstant mother. As a result, he was the closest line to inherit. Having already married another lord's daughter of the region, Lady Erleia Darkoak, the man was perfect to take the seat.
Haverin had been a loyal servant of the crown, as had the rest of his family, for generations, and his economic and politically savy ways secured crucial contracts for the Bite and its holdings. Focusing Graston as the military center, and Shorfall as the agrarian and export center, the two stayed out of competition with each other, allowing both baronies to flourish, while Bannhurst, within the Viscounty of the Fang resumed its position as commerce capital of the Ashen Coast, having been industrialized to maintain a large holding of factories and shops. The city was brought to the forefront by clever workings of contracts with specialists in the area, such as contracting the people of Rosefield to work in Karnsburg with their agrarian and druidic knowledge, while the hearty people of Brandon's Stead were contracted to work the plentiful mines within Bannhurst.
Following Bannhurst's example, Gregor's Crossing industrialized and a coalition was formed between the three Great Families. Known as the Triumvirate of the Headlands, Haverin Grayblade, Cail Greyfield, and Xavier Gregor centralized leadership of the entire region.
Under Lord Grayblade, Bannhurst was revitalized in a short amount of years, the Cobalstant's name erased off many landmarks. As a gift, Galen Hallowfield gave the Lord Grayblade the last remaining Cobalstant Hearthstone, the signet of the ruler of Bannhurst, as a show of good faith from the people to their new leader.
Arrival of the Seventh SkullEdit
Following the end of the Second War and the closing off of Gilneas from the rest of Azeroth, a group of Lordaeronian deserters turned bandits became trapped behind the wall. Originally just harassing small hamlets, the Seventh Skull sought to grip Gilneas' economy under its fist. Laying siege to several towns across the Ashen Coast, such as Rosefield and Mistvale, the Seventh Skull gripped the small time Ashen Coast economy. Seeking to gain full control over the Ashen Coast, the Skull's leader, Sven Lanyda, sent out missives to the Lord Grayblade, telling him to forfeit half of Bannhurst's profits to the Skull as tribute. Denying the man out right, Sven's men infiltrated Grayblade Manor later on in the evening.
In a vicious battle between Lord Haverin and Lady Erleia against their assassins, the Grayblades were slain, having fended off a fair amount of their attackers; though were unable to flee due to injuries. Through a stroke of luck, the Grayblade children, Berenal Grayblade and Ereden Grayblade had snuck out of the house moments before the assassins arrived. They were whisked away to safety by a family friend by the name of James Lanworth.
The blazing manor acted as a signal as the Seventh Skull ravaged the city, attacking guardsmen in the street and destroying the city's central barracks. Rallying the people of Bannhurst together in the town square James sent the children of Bannhurst away by carriage to other regions. While several carriages did not survive the escape, nor did the children within, most were able to flee. Rather than submitting to the Skull as the outlaws planned, the people of Bannhurst took up arms against the marauders, leading to a bloodbath that would eventually kill both forces almost completely. Of the thousands that lived in Bannhurst, the only survivors were scattered to the winds while those who drove the carriages were led by the town's Runemaster, Elderic.
In the aftermath of the attack, Bannhurst was left completely ruined and the Ashen Coast in disarray. Shorfall was given to House Darkoak of Rosefield, and Graston to House Cloverfield. As a result, the Bite threatened to fall apart. In a stroke of mysterious luck, the Cloverfields were all killed in an accident as they made their way to their new seat. For years after Bannhurst's destruction, none dared to attempt rebuilding the city, allowing it to wear away down to little more than a ruined husk, and the unity of the Ashen Coast wore away over the years.
In the years that followed, House Gregor and House Greyfield became extremely wary of the Darkoaks. With the Greyfield's ancestral rivalry with the northern Reach family, they refused to work with them. At the same time, the Gregors felt alienated as the Old Ways worshiping family began to spread their religion through the Bite and let the Grayblade's progresss fall to squalor.
Death of the Darkoaks and the WorgenEdit
During a meeting in Gilneas City, Balaforth Darkoak, the leader of the House of Darkoak, was slaughtered alongside his lone heir, Galin Darkoak. Though initially found to be a shock, it was revealed that none other than the heir of Haverin, Berenal Grayblade was the culprit. Investigation found that the would be marcher lord was framed for the murder, and that the Lord of Darkoak had gone to investigate the validity of his nephew's supposed survival. Though many felt the meeting would never end in Berenal's inheritance, the death of the family and the later release of the Grayblade heir found him inheriting more than just The Bite's march. Inheriting the Darkoak lands of Rosefield and beyond; Berenal suddenly expanded the holdings of his family far beyond what they originally had. As a result, the Bite found its self at under a Grayblade again; though even this was short lived. Disillusioned with the death of his cousin, who had become a dear friend, and his uncle; Berenal forsook his titles and entered into a militant life.
While the young lord sought out a new path, he left other lords to run the towns in his stead. Through an arrangement with the aged Cail, Berenal was to marry Sieglinde Greyfield, his daughter, while his sons watched over the young Marcher's lands. Without a second thought to the arrangement, Berenal agreed with little intention of returning home to fulfill his end of the bargain. While the Ashen Coast was mostly unaffected, Bannhurst became the site of hunting parties, seeking out the wolfmen in the ruins. After a large pack of Worgen were found in the ruins, and Gilneas City had been lost, Xavier Gregor destroyed the bridge that connected the Ashen Coast to the rest of Gilneas and the region turned inward.
Arrival of the HordeEdit
The final blow to the Ashen Coast was struck by the hands of the Orcish Horde that had arrived near the end of the first invason of Gilneas. While the Fallow Crest had been ravaged by the Undead, the people of the Ashen Coast were left mostly unmolested as they could not effectively cross the river. This would not last, as a southern Orcish war fleet eventually stormed the shores of the Bite.
Unable to stop the unexpected Orcish onslaught, the Reach and Bite quickly fell, while the Range was able to hold fast until ships from the Night elves had arrived at the southern shore. Deciding it best to flee, Xavier Gregor ordered the majority of the Ashen Coast onto the boats, while he and a returned (now worgen) Lord Grayblade rushed to save what remained of the House of Greyfield. Ultimately at the end, the Greyfield family was nearly wiped out aside from a bastard child of Cail Greyfield (later known as Derrik Greyfield) and Sieglinde Greyfield. Lord Gregor was crippled in the final push to save the last known Greyfields and eventually pledged what remained of his forces to Lord Grayblade's order, the Blades of Greymane.
With the young lord having inherited the order and its storied past, Xavier was essential to funding it with Gregor's Crossing's silver mines. With the Ashen Coast in dysfunction, it would continue to stagnate until the eventual return of the now High Commander, Berenal Grayblade.
Under Lord Grayblade, the Blades liberated a large portion of the now ruined Bite and sought out the various families that had been scattered to the winds. Though Earl Xavier was unable to see it, poisoned during the Battle of the Bite, his son, Adrian Gregor alongside Sieglinde Greyfield, reformed the Triumvirate of the Ashen Coast. Through perseverance, the three lords and the various nobility they were able to salvage reformed the lands and eventually caused the recreation of the ancient Duchy of the Ashen Coast. United under one leader, the Ashen Coast eventually was able to redeem its place as a center of Gilnean pride.
With the rest of the kingdom still rebuilding, the Ashen Coast stands as one of the few fully redeemed areas of Gilneas, representing the best of their people's future.
Bannhurst is now the jewel of the Duchy, with Wolfstone Castle having been completed prior to the city. Following the reachman design of Brandon's Stead, Bannhurst is tiered by three district separating walls within the area. The outer most district, the Lansworth Commons, is the main residential district. It houses some markets and city wide attractions, but not nearly as much as the later in Gilded Square. The Lansworth commons, one of the largest housing areas, is a fairly middle class section, though the outskirts are known to house slums. The Oathbound quarter is exclusively bound to the mages of the Order of the Raven and their families, acting as a secondary headquarters for the order outside of Ravendale. The second quarter is the heart of commerce within the city. A bustling market center and active guardsmen as well as proper city living, the Gilded Square is the face of Bannhurst. The final quarter, Haverin's Court, is a mostly administrative quarter that also leads into the pathways that take one to Wolfstone from the city, it is within here that, aside from just the aforementioned administration, the Blades of Greymane base. It is split into two districts, with one section now known as the Oathbound Quarter, which acts as an immediate point of contact for the Order of the Raven and some mages who are on call for the defense of the city. Rather than civilians in the other districts, the only people housed within are that of the Blades themselves. Courtiers and places of high finance and business litter the area, often patrolled heavily by the Wolf's Guard.
The people of Bannhurst and the Ashen Coast shared a unique culture with Gilneas, having a blend of various beliefs from their origins as well as keeping strongly to the old ways and the light. Bannhurst maintained a Runemaster at all times who would serve as an adviser and guide the Lord of the town, the last one being Elderic, who served as Berenal Grayblade's mentor and advised both the Cobalstants and Grayblades.
In its early days, the people of Bannhurst were known for creating Hearthstones, magical runed stones that could return its user to the area it was bound. The hearthstones of Bannhurst were known for being black with brown runes, and they were traditionally created by the town's Runemaster and his students. However, the secrets of creating these hearthstones were lost to time during Jackson's Rebellion, as Bannhurst's Runemaster was slain defending the town, as were most of his students.
The people of Bannhurst had a fervent belief in the light, something carried from their Cobalstant leaders. Due to the centralized nature of the Bite, Bannhurst also held a sizable, though smaller, population of Old Ways worshipers. In modern times, Bannhurst is split between the two due to the heavy resurgence in Old Ways worship as of the Curse of the Worgen. As a result, the city is a cultural melting pot of the region, seeing all walks from the Ashen Coast brought into it.
The people of Bannhurst are often described as being hearty folk with paled skin and black or brown hair. Blonde hair was rare in the town, while red hair was uncommon but present.