Timberfel is one of the six cities, and is located west and north of Crossroad. It is the closest city to the infamous Ngarohere, within which its three timber companies produce much of the wood that is used across Motunui.
Of the six cities, Timberfel is one the most interdependent with its settlements, collecting taxes and directly managing laws and regulations from almost all of the settlements in its territories, in return for the security offered by the Timberfel Toa. Only Rotonui, with its complete homogeneity of state and territory, has more complete domain of their territory.
Under the Empire of Yalan Edit
The founding of Timberfel was driven by the need for wood resources in the Empire of Yalan, of which Motunui was part at the time. Chancellor Dominik, essentially the ruler of Motunui, organised the establishment of labour camps in the northernmost reaches of Ngarohere. Contrary to popular belief, these were not slave camps, and the promise of good food and shelter had Motunui's poor and destitute (of which there were many) flocking to Ngarohere, despite long held superstitions and fear of the Taniwha within.
These camps grew rapidly over the course of several decades, swelling with immigrants, mostly from failing Shar villages, and spilling out further into Ngarohere. The Taniwha, rarely seen that far north, posed little to no threat to the expanding settlements.
Timberfel, the largest of the five settlements, was formally recognized as a town in 113bt. The smaller settlements, while independent of Timberfel at this time, would eventually and gradually become indistinguishable from their largest counterpart.
As the empire's war efforts started to become desperate on multiple fronts, large incentives were offered for people to move to, and begin working in, Timberfel, in order to provide enormous amounts of material to the Rivermouth shipyards. Timberfel's first proper wall was built in 94bt, as part of a large movement to protect Motunui, and the empire's substantial investments in the island, from foreign invasion. There are many rumours of the government quietly encouraging the kidnapping of people from tribes and small villages and forcing them into slavery as resources stretched thin, but no evidence remains.
Timberfel was the only one of what are now called the six cities not to participate in the coup that placed the Kingihou lineage in charge of most of Motunui in 86bt. Instead, it was conquered by the king's army shortly after the death of chancellor Conrad and the dissolution of the Empire of Yalan on Motunui.
The Years of the Kingihou Edit
Expansion southwards into Ngarohere slowed greatly after the empire left Motunui. Tua Kingihou, as part of his campaign to 'wipe the empire's stain from our lands', declared the forest tapu, sacred. While not quite as good as Ngarohere, other nearby sources of timber, as well as forestation efforts, kept Timberfel alive and relatively prosperous.
Timberfel benefited the least from the dissolution of the empire and the reign of Tua Kingihou. The people of Timberfel had always paid less in taxes than the rest of Motunui, and the huge drop in demand for timber caused many lumberjacks to lose their livelihoods. Industrious lumber camps turned into villages of farmers and hunters, filled with folks trying to get enough food to survive. Even so, the dissolution of many laws imposed by the empire made life for those in the small city of Timberfel easier.
When Tua Kingihou passed and was succeeded by his eldest son Kauora, Timberfel, like all of Motunui, found the grand plans of their late king Tua come to a grinding halt. Kauora's plans for renewing and strengthening Motunui's economy had little impact on Timberfel - its prime resource of timber was not particularly valuable to anybody within or without Motunui, and the king's attempts to boost production and international import resulted in stocks of wood going to waste without buyers.
Ultimately, Timberfel suffered under this regime, as it paid hefty taxes to fund economic growth elsewhere in Motunui - especially the capitol of Whangatawhito. This only worsened when Kauora was succeeded by Anahera, referred to by some as 'the leech queen'. Under her reign, the hefty taxes of her father remained and in some cases became worse. However, Anahera largely scrapped her father's plans for economic growth, funneling the taxes of her people into fueling her own extravagant lifestyle.
It was in Timberfel that Anahera met her end; in an attempt to drum up some good will among her people, she set about to tour many of the cities and large towns of her kingdom. When the queen arrived in Timberfel, she was beset upon within hours. She took shelter in the city's royal guard outpost. The event ignited a huge riot among the people of Timberfel, and the local guards were overwhelmed. By the time reinforcements arrived from Haggard's Rook, the queen was dead.
The people of Timberfel suffered harshly for this. Discontent had been grown throughout the country since the closing years of Kauora's reign, and the now king Tuheitia was forced to apply a harsh rule of law to stop his kingdom from falling apart. It is noted among historians of Motunui that king Tuheitia made great strides in correcting the errors of his forebears, and was perhaps the most benevolent and effective of the Kingihou. However, this came too late, and the steps he took to keep the kingdom together while he tried to fix it pushed the people to rebellion.
Timberfel was the first of what are now called the six cities to rebel against the Kingihou, drawing Rivermouth and Haggard's Rook into a formal alliance that blockaded the king's men from operating effectively anywhere west of Crossroad. Rotonui's rebellion was independent of this alliance, but worked in its favor nonetheless, putting Crossroad under pressure from both the east and the west. Eventually, rebellion within and without of Crossroad caused the retreat or surrender of royal forces there, and Whangatawhito fell quickly thereafter - the Kingihou lineage dissolved as its members fled the country, went into hiding, or were executed.
Timberfel attempted to seize a great degree of power in the wake of the rebellion, those among its ruling class thinking they could use the alliance with Rivermouth and Haggard's Rook to give themselves powerful influence over all of the major entities of Motunui. This gambit failed, however, as Haggard's Rook withdrew all support and cut nearly all ties to Timberfel. The rulers of Timberfel were among the first to accept the idea of the Pa Tiriti, Treaty of Cities, that was put forward by Lindsey Corfel of Rivermouth.
After the Pa Tiriti Edit
The chaos left in the wake of the end of the Kingihou caused a surge in demand for lumber. With each of the newly founded six cities now needing to fend for itself, and with much destruction caused by the rebellions, wood was needed largely for building and repairs. Rivermouth especially fueled the re-expansion of Timberfel's forestry industry into the Ngarohere, wanting to open trade with Yalan, which had been forbidden under the Kingihou. This of course meant ships, crates, and weapons to defend against piracy, and Timberfel was happy to supply the demand. Eventually, the demand started to dry up; repairs were completed, building were built, and relationships between cities started to sour. However, even at its lowest point, the demand for wood from Timberfel was greater than it had been under the Kingihou, largely thanks to Rivermouth and its renewed trade with Yalan; some areas within the massive country highly prized Motunui's wood for its cheap cost and high strength.
The relationships between Timberfel and the other cities has fluctuated over the years; It has gone to war several times against Rotonui, Crossroad, and Haggard's Rook, with the latter being by far the city's most bitter enemy. Notably, Timberfel has maintained a defensive aid and open trade alliance with Rivermouth since the signing of the Pa Tiriti.
In 74pt, Ahinui, Rangatira of the Waiatawheua Iwi, launched a large scale series of attacks on settlements within the territory and state of Timberfel. These attacks were fierce and well organised, and the forces of Timberfel found themselves overwhelmed. However, the weakness of Ahinui's warriors was apparent as time went on - as a force, they were used to raids, most often against those they now fought alongside. Factions within the army bickered and sometimes skirmished, and the forces were generally incapable of holding a town or maintaining effective supply lines. Ultimately, although made up of effective warriors, Ahinui's forces sorely lacked in logistics and discipline, and crumbled once Timberfel organised their defenses, especially once Ahinui himself was slain. However, in their rapid response to the tribal threat, Timberfel had expanded aggressively into Ngarohere, using the lumber to fortify their settlements against attack. This aggravated the Taniwha, and attacks by the fierce creatures became common, instead of exceptionally rare.
While many of the remnants of Ahinui's army eventually integrated into Timberfel society, some continued to live as tribals and raiders, and their descendants continue to plague the state of Timberfel to this day. These raiders, in conjunction with the rising aggression of the Taniwha, has shaped Timberfel over the past century, leading to the widespread adoption of fortifications across almost all of Timberfel's settlements, and the state's relatively large and well trained military.
Timberfel shows an unusual amount of Tangata influence in its people, culture, and architecture for a settlement so far west and north. This is due to two factors; the large incentives offered by the empire for people to move to Timberfel drew many people from all over Motunui, including members of the local Iwi, and the large influx of Tangata immigrants in the aftermath of Ahinui's Invasion.
The churches of Timberfel recognise and pay respects to all of the major deities and many of the smaller ones. The major deities in Timberfel are Tane Mahuta and Tumatauenga, each with large altars dedicated to them in the city square. Those living in the pa and forts within Ngarohere often seek the blessing of Tane Mahuta before leaving the safety of their walls, since the forest is his domain. It is also common to seek the blessing of Taumatuatenga, for the strength to stand against the Taniwha.
Timberfel is run by its Duke or Duchess, a hereditary title. In the early years of independent Timberfel, the Duke held autonomous authority over the government, but that quickly dissolved. The first Duchess of Timberfel relied heavily on her advisers and fellow nobles to help make the best solutions, and by the time her daughter possessed the throne in 48pt it was entirely expected of her to do the same. The aristocracy, those who are related by various degrees to the Duke, fill the various minor roles in government, serving as leaders of the church, military, taxation, etc.
The current Duke of Timberfel is Richard II, of the Blackthorn family. The Blackthorns have led Timberfel for five generations, since the assassination of Joseph Ardich and all his direct heirs by agents of Haggard's Rook.
Each settlement under Timberfel's jurisdiction, be it a large town or a small pa, appoints a single person as a speaker, who acts as a liaison between their people and the larger Timberfel government. Technically the speaker is the only voice the settlement has in government, but the actual degree of their authority varies among settlements, as does the length of their service and how they are appointed.
The military of Timberfel is multifaceted. The largest portion of its military might is the Timberfel Reserve. Each settlement under Timberfel's jurisdiction is expected to provide an annual number of recruits for the reserve. Given that it pays well and many are eager for the training offered, there is rarely a shortage of volunteers to fill these quota. Signing up for the reserves entails six months of training, followed by two years of mandatory service. By the end of this service, most of the recruits are formidable combatants.
The reserve mostly serves to supplement the Vanguard, patrolling the roads and staffing strategic forts. Members of the reserves are far more often deployed in the north than the south; although the Taniwha are not as omnipresent and indestructible as folk tales would suggest, the inexperienced fear the very possibility of their appearance, making for disorderly conduct and frequent breaking of ranks to flee. Although members of the reserve are useful to Timberfel during their service, their main purpose is simply to be trained, in case they are called to arms later in life.
Timberfel's permanent military force is the Timberfel Toa, which consists almost entirely of men and women who have completed their service in the reserve and wish to continue a military career. No extra training is required for those who have completed reserve service, but fresh recruits undergo a year of training and induction prior to admission.
The Timberfel Toa is further split into three divisions. The Standing Guard serve as enforcers of the law and peace within the walls of Timberfel city, as well as many towns and even forts and pa large enough to support a permanent military population. Their main roles are patrolling within their assigned settlement, apprehending and dissuading criminals, and protecting the settlement against bandits or Taniwha.
The Honour Guard serve as personal bodyguards to the aristocracy of Timberfel. A noble typically has anywhere from one to six guards at his or her disposal, with the Duke himself commanding two dozen. The Honour Guard is the only division of the Timberfel military that is not under the direct command of the general, although in practice none of its members have ever refused a direct order.
The Vanguard is the mobile arm of the Timberfel Toa. Its members are stationed all across Timberfel territory, in small outposts or within forts or pa. They are constantly on the move, patrolling the roads and wildernesses between settlements and offering protection and security to those settlements too small to have their own contingent of Standing Guardsmen.
The Timberfel Toa value and emphasize small unit tactics. Soldiers are taught to fight in tight formations, coordinating constantly and effortlessly to harass and limit their enemies. A common tactic for Toa engaged in melee is to have some members on the offensive with spears while others use their hatchets to hack at the enemy's weapons, as well as to deal with any who close past the spear's range, each defending themselves and each other with their shields at all times.
Although sizes and command structure vary throughout the Timberfel Toa, most soldiers are ordered into squads ranging between four and twenty, led by a single Ariki. Though rare in the Standing Guard, Ariki in the Vanguard are given a significant degree of autonomy. The routine of the squad's Ariki making decisions allows squads to operate much better in times of extreme duress, especially when cut off from higher command.
The specific equipment carried varies between divisions and squads, with members of the Standing Guard often only carrying hatchets and wearing no armour within Timberfel city, and members of the Vanguard almost always fully armoured, carrying a short spear, hatchet, peltast shield, and javelins. Many squads assign a number of members to carry short bows instead of spears and javelins. Some members of the Honour Guard may even carry more exotic weapons at their master's insistence, such as expensive swords or maces. Such arms tend to change with the fashions of the time.
Traditional dress for all members of the Timberfel Toa includes a cloak of Moa feathers, and a Toki necklace with Timberfel's insignia carved into it. Though such attire is not difficult to replicate, it can result in hefty fines, public humiliation, or lashing for a civilian who imitates the dress of the Timberfel Toa.