A city in the Stone Teeth north of the Kingdom of the Ivory Sea, Kelos has an old and colorful history that has come to a sad end.

Old Kelos

Close to a thousand years ago, the city-state of Kelos was a rival of the early Kingdom of the Ivory Sea. Located in the colder northern hills, called the Stone Teeth, Kelos was protected by great fortresses guarding the narrow passes, and situated on productive gem, copper, and iron mines. It also boasted a well organized and well equipped military, centered around armored spearmen. For a few centuries, Kelos was rich enough and strong enough to challenge the dominance of the Kingdom.

But the northern hills were never productive farming lands, and the gem mines were eventually exhausted. And while the fortresses and Standards of Kelos guarded it from conquest, on the southern plains they simply could not compete with the powerful cavalry of the Kingdom. Soon the Kingdom was much bigger and much richer, and Kelos became first an ally, then a client state, and finally simply a province with a bit of an unusual history.

Kelos Reborn

Until about eighty years ago. During one of the Kingdom's Crusades into the Arcane Lands, a second-son of the Royal Family was sent to be the Royal Governor of Kelos, mostly to help hush up several scandals. With him came a fiery and dedicated follower of the Ivory Lion to take up the office of High Inquisitor. The two - one cruel and entitled, and the other fanatical and ruthless - were the worst possible choices. Kelos had, in a unusual sort of deference to its old status, been left mostly to its own devices and become a bit of a backwater. The citizens kept many of the old ways, and paid perhaps less than perfect attention to Royal custom and the teachings of the Church of the Lion.

The crusade was a disaster, and the lizardmen of the Bleak Marshes had gone into a phase of active raiding and tribal warfar. This distracted the Inquisatorial Office enough that, by the time they realized what was happening in Kelos, the province had risen in full rebellion. The High Inquisitor was hung, along with her chief assistants, and the Royal Governor and garrison escaped just ahead of the mobs.

Amazingly, the Kelosians then organized themselves enough to fight off a hastily arranged punitive expedition, turning them back at the First Battle of the High Gates. Inspired by this success, and harkening back to a half-forgetten past, the Kelosians reclaimed and rebuilt the old fortresses, reorgnanized a new version of the Standards, and declared themselves an independent city-state again.

The Red City

For the next several decades, the independent city garnered itself as a reputation for being a bit wild. The Council of Kelos immediately decided the best way to get both funds and protection was to throw open the gates to arcanists and adventurers, two classes of people who met little welcome in the Kingdom. The city was near a number of interesting sites for adventurers, and a back way into the Kingdom for smugglers and others. It was a welcome refuge for arcanists fleeing the Kingdom, or agents of the Arcane Lands looking to cause trouble.

Kelos catered to them all, with numberless taverns, brothels, theatres, restuarants, inns, arenas, and other entertainments. They invented a thing called the cafe, sort of a more civilized tavern for breakfasting. The reputation of Kelosians became that as hedonists, ne'er-do-wells, and rebels. The fact that almost everyone outside of Kelos saw them as ultimately doomed only added to the romance.

The city's nickname came from it's wild reputation and for the fact that the upper stories and tops of its walls were built with red stone. Red banners flew from these walls and towers, and the main gates were red iron set with jasper. Kelos was happy to play its role to the hilt. Many notable adventurers, including one Algamesh Threefingers of the Sundered Valley, were known to frequent Kelos during its golden age.

The Fall of Kelos

But it was not to last. Eventually, after several failed attempts, the Ivorians put together a proper expedition with the right mix of troops and the right leadership, and over the next ten years engaged in a grinding campaign that pushed through the Stone Teeth, through the fortresses and the passes, and to the very doorstep of Kelos.

Despite heroic stands by the Standards of Kelos and their many adventurer allies, they were pushed steadily back. Songs were written, ballads sung, and plays performed in honor of their glory, but those do not ward of soldiers and artillery.

Finally, at the Last Battle of the High Gates, the Ivorian forces broke through the final defenses of Kelos. The walls fell soon after, and the city with them. Despite a few incidents of legend - such as the so-called Siege of the Goat's Son, when a group of adventurers held off an entire Ivorian company from inside their favorite tavern for ten days - the city fell quickly and with a minimum of bloodshed. The city and military leaders who were too foolish or dedicated to flee were executed, a new Military Governor installed, and significant portions of the population relocated and replaced with loyal subjects (many of them the soldiers who had fought so long to get into the city). And so, five years ago, the city once again became merely a backwater province of the Kingdom of the Ivory Sea.

Lost Kelos

The romantic story of the rise and fall of Kelos makes it a favorite outside of the Kingdom, especially since so many adventurers have fond memories of the city.

Keeping the legend alive are the many exiles and refugees from the fall, particularly the Last Standard of Kelos. After the Last Battle of the High Gates, the Red and Black Banners of the Lightning Standard, and the White Banner of the Fire Standard, made it out mostly intact. Picking up other veteran exiles, the leadership of these units reorganized into the Last Standard, a mercenary force that has served a number of lords in the Arcande Lands, mostly against the Kingdom of the Ivory Sea.

There is also the famous play The Fall of the Red City, the popular ballad At the High Gates, and the drinking song Day of the Goat, and a whole slew of other works chronicling the romantacized history of Lost Kelos.

The Standards of Kelos


The armies of Kelos had a unique organization. Built around spearmen, the original forces were raised in Fists. A Fist in the old style was a landed citizen and his or her retinue of four armed retainers, which he or she was required to provide by law in time of war. In the old way, twenty Fists were organized into a Banner, and four Banners into a Standard in an ad-hoc arrangement. Each Standard was raised for a single campaign, and given a new name each time.

New Model

The armies of modern Kelos used many of the same terms, but a more professional and permanent organization.

The basis was still the fist of five spearmen, but no longer were they a citizen and retinue, but simply the five soldiers who shared a tent in camp or a room in barracks. Each Fist selected one of their number to be the Thumb, who was an informal leader.

Four Fists were organized into a File of twenty spearmen, lead by a File-Sergeant, seconded by a Side-Sergeant. The file was the true unit of organization on the battlefield for the modern Kelosian army.

Six Files, or one-hundred twenty spearmen, made up a Banner. A Banner-Captain was assisted by a Side-Captain and three Sergeants (Red - quartermaster, White - clerical, and Black - personal assistant) in running the Banner.

Three Banners (called Red, White, and Black), or three-hundred sixty spearmen plus officers and support personel and a supporting artillery unit, the Stone Banner, of thirty lead by the Stone-Captain, made up a Standard. A Standard-Master was in charge, assisted by a Side-Master, a Red-Captain, a Black-Captain, and two Black-Sergeants. The few cavalry Standards were organized in simuilar fashion, though a Banner had only three Files for cavalry.

Standards were given unique names, as in the old style, but each Standard was a permanent standing organization.

The Last Standard

The Last Standard of Kelos maintains this organization, though lack of numbers means that the Red Banner has only five Files, and the White and Black four Files each. The Stone Banner is full strength, and there is an attached Iron Banner of three Files of cavalry.

The Last Standard is currently led by Standard-Master Astridr Blackhand and Side-Master Einherjar. Other notable members include Banner-Captain Saga the Red, who leads the Iron Banner, and Stone-Captain Strong Kjarr. They also included former Banner-Captain Starkad of the Black Banner.


Kelosian names are generally Norse. They don't use surnames. Particularly successful or courageous Kelosians win an additional name, a sobriquet unique to them.

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