The first Braelea
vassal to fight back in the Alainic Uprisings
, House Perry stood alone at Perryden
against the Free Company
. While their initial sneak attack succeeded, they were dramatically outnumbered.
"House Perry, small in number, unnoteworthy in lineage, unimportant economically, was through their bravery able to postpone House Reed's control over the Timber and thus the Ciderwinde, giving the Cyrtons sufficient time to fortify their river." - Rys Thewisy, CQ, Blood Red Blossoms
House Perry's bravery was enough for their allies and patrons, House Thewisy
, to push other Braelea vassals into open revolt. Thus was born the Ciderwinde League, led by House Cyrton
. The uprising would last from House Perry's revolt in 457 until the Fall of House Cyrton
In 474, Perryden was taken by the Free Company of House Semillon, as they finally crushed the uprising. The survivors of House Perry retreated south, establishing a new settlement on the ruins of a hillfort just at the border with the Eastmarches
"Taege upon yours if you strike me down. The waters shall recede until even the rivers are cowering before me, babbling children will be all who inhabit here." - Engirim Sanguinaire to Cyldaan Cyrton
While this proximity to the border, the Twine River
, allowed them to be under the protective reach of House Thewisy, it came with risks. This settlement, which would become Acornmill, was in a fertile yet unoccupied part of the Vinelands. The ruins they built upon were not the only ones there, as the area between the Twine and The Timber
was the site of Engirim Sanguinaire's
tower, an ancient dark wizard, who cursed the area after his death in the Era of Legend.
The First Famine
Acornmill became a target for House Semillon's forces not long after the conclusion of the Braelean Hedge Wars
. While House Semillon had begun pivoting towards carrots rather than sticks, this policy only came after they had extinguished a number of noble lines, much to the condemnation of the rest of Anhara. While the Semillons' actions began to gather attention from the wider nobility, they wanted to put the finishing blow on one last dissenting line.
"This was the first time the Thewisy banner had officially been marched into the Vinelands, as our forces went to the defense of the long-suffering House Perry." - Rys Thewisy, CQ, Across the Twine
In 503, a unit of the Free Company was dispatched to Acornmill. Expecting little resistance from what was then a small village around a fortified hill, the Semillon numbers were slim. While they had been largely surreptitious during the wider Hedge Wars, House Thewisy quickly sent their own force into the Vinelands. While this could be to make up for their use of Perryden as a pawn, it also had the side effect of garnering good will for House Thewisy in the eyes of the now-watching nation.
"Combine the ground acorns, salt, and water in a large pot, stirring until the lumps are removed. Watch closely, as the mixture will quickly form." - Recipe for Perry Jelly
While the Free Company's retreat in the face of Thewisy forces is what finally allowed House Perry their survival, it also gave Acornmill its name. The Semillon forces' retreat saw them destroy the nascent agriculture around the town, forcing its people to gather acorns from the abundant nearby trees. Less than ideal as a primary source of nutrition, acorn-based products have nevertheless become a staple of Acornmill.
Seat of House Perry
A minor house cannot exist in a vacuum, and while House Semillon's attempt to rein in House Perry was repelled, they nonetheless remained a Semillon vassal. The Book of Etiquette
dictates that if the parent house falls, vassals are transferred to their successor, whether they want to or not. Thus, an uneasy relationship existed between the Perrys and Semillons.
"...paying no fealty to a larger house, and maintaining control over an area of land consisting of a. considerable size b. exceptional economic importance and/or c. historical significance" - Book of Etiquette, "Legality"
The law meant the Perrys would serve new masters, and yet the Thewisy protection meant the Semillons now had a vassal holding to Braelea Loyalism
. The uneasy peace nonetheless allowed for the expansion of Acornmill. To always be prepared for a change in circumstance, the Perrys instituted an acorn quota, requiring two years of acorns to be prepared and stored in the event of a siege. They are prepared in windmills, situated on hills along the road, a particularly windy channel.
Acorns from the white oaks in the southern Vinelands are collected when they fall from trees, or knocked loose if quotas have to be met. The ideal acorn has the cap attached and has no holes, indicating a lack of worms. Once collected, they are dried and stored for upwards of two years, as part of the town's defenses. When needed, the acorns are shelled and ground into a fine powder. This powder is leeched slowly of its tannins, in a pot with hot water, and the tannin-water is then used to treat textiles for dyeing.
This powdered meal can be used for Acornbread
, Perry Jelly
, or other delicacies.
Acornmill's protection by House Thewisy allowed it to be one of the most anti-Semillon strongholds in the region. The Braelea loyalist culture never died out here, and while the passing centuries has reconciled them to Semillon rule, the anti-coastal sentiment common to the southwest Vinelands is particularly strong in Acornmill.
Many families proudly trace their roots to soldiers that died for the Braelea cause, and artifacts of the Hedge Wars are common in the area. Even rural farmhouses in the Sprigfields display banners of the Order of the Green Bells
or House Braelea, Thewisy-produced portraits of Etien IV
, and medals or memorabilia, genuine or reproduced, from the centuries-old conflict.
With toggleable districts
Acornmill rests just north of the border with the Eastmarches, between the Twine River
and the large, slow Timber
. This area has previously been under settled, cursed since the Era of Legend. It is the historic territory of House Cyrton
, and occasional ruins dot the landscape, dating back to the early history of Anhara.
Acornmill itself is situated within a cluster of hills, on the banks of Lake Salis
. Acornkeep sits atop the largest hill, formerly home to a hillfort of the Era of Legend. Spilling down from the hill is Outerwell, and then the Dockside. On the western side of the hill runs the Cooper Road
, snaking between hills, creating a funnel of wind to power the windmills along the hillsides.
The outermost area of Acornmill, Sprigfield encompasses most of the surrounding hills, windmills, farms, and white oak groves. Originally full of fields and oak groves, the most dominant structures were the windmills along the hillsides. The Cooper Road runs between the hills, and this has become the central spine of settlement in the Sprigfields.
"The vine shall not wither in our field." - Inscription Above Soler Hall's Door
In the past century or two, Acornmill's population has grown considerably, and clusters of homes have begun springing up along the Cooper Road. The largest of these clusters is around The Boiled Acorn
, the oldest tavern in the area, just outside of the Dockside. Another major center is closer to the largest junction of the Cooper Road, where the trails leading to surrounding farms join up. Here is Soler Hall
, the seat of House Soler
, foremost of House Perry's vassals.
The Dockside is the lifeblood of the town itself, and plays host to their two most important industries: fishing, and shipbuilding.
Perryden was an early target of the Semillons not only for its prime location at the mouth of the Twine, but because it was a hub of shipbuilding. Thanks to the proximity to the Murkmantle
, lumber was never an issue, and skilled craftsmen were in abundance. These ships also allowed House Perry to smuggle around the early Semillon embargo, profiting House Thewisy at the expense.
"Their ships were the only to compete with House Reed, and the daring raid by young Perry knights scuttled much of the Reed fleet before they could wreak havoc on the Timber." - House Perry: A History
The seizure of Perryden significantly dampened the Blossom Fields' shipbuilding industry, and Acornmill's fight for survival made shipbuilding a sideshow. As the town grew and their territorial integrity solidified, the Dockside once again became a hub for shipbuilding, providing House Thewisy with another source of ships for the lake.
Dockside also launches the considerable fishing fleet of House Perry, which dominates much of western Lake Salis. However, many fishers see the Curse of Engrim in full force. Every three years, around the harvest festival of Pyrae's Fruits
, the lakefront recedes and the fish population dramatically declines.
"When House Perry forces began to prepare a defense of the area, scouts discovered two islands off the coast. Both were clustered with ruins, and the furthest an ancient temple to Nemura." - House Perry: A History
This triennial depletion opens up the acorn stores, providing a stopgap to the town's problems. The fishermen take to the plethora of taverns in the Dockside, using their savings for drink and living largely off the acorndole.
Outerwell is the most well established portion of Acornmill, with shops and large homes of a grander scale than would be expected for the town's size. Given the diasporic nature of the area, Outerwell's stores and homes were originally constructed to maintain the standard of living of late Age of Rule nobility.
"Frivolity, the great distractor from fear, required the displaced nobility to construct great halls, fulfilling the guest-right and hosting obligations of chivalry." - House Perry: A History
Acornmill has also become a desirable vacation spot for Thewisy vassals from the Tillage. Many families of lesser nobility have second homes in Outerwell, or stay with Vinelander cousins to enjoy the wine season. This has also led to the establishment of a Crimson Quill
outpost in the neighborhood, rare for a town of Acornmill's size, as well as a chantry ran by the Order of Bellowing Brothers
A prominent hill, towering above the others in the area, Acornhill is a natural location for a castle. When House Perry first came to the area, fleeing the Free Company, they found the ruins of an Era of Legend hillfort, and began repairing it as the heart of their new settlement. This has grown into the castle of Acornhill.
"With the forces of the usurpers fast upon their trail, the eyes of the Perry survivors alighted upon a high hill, steep on three sides and gentle on a fourth, upon which sat ancient ruins." - House Perry: A History
The castle of Acornhill is found in three tiers, growing out to fill the hill. On the western side, the steepest, is the keep built from the old hillfort. On the southern side is a later expansion, primarily to prevent scaling the cliff, but houses the military forces of House Perry. On the northern end is a jutting watchtower, and the home of the town's mayor.
The eastern part of the hill is the decline to Outerwell, and primarily features a gatehouse. However, the gatehouse opens into an interior plaza, dotted with statues commemorating the Braeleas, Thewisys, and House Perry.