Of Kings and Dragons
Linnorm King of Southmoor
While Opir Eightfingers has successfully claimed the title of Linnorm King of Southmoor, many question his right to rule, for the severed head he returned to the city with was already quite decayed. While the suspicion is that Opir merely chanced upon a dead linnorm and scavenged its head to claim his title, he has summarily defeated all those who challenged his right to rule. For now, Eightfingers remains king of Southmoor. The head of the linnorm he supposedly killed was too far gone by the time of his return for proper preservation, so today, only the linnorm’s skull hangs above his throne.
Despite the fact that he’s quite adept at defending his personal honor, Opir’s rule has been one of constant setbacks and upheaval. With constantly shifting periods of depressed indolence and frenzied attempts to better the region and increase his hold on power, King Eightfingers is almost as good at accidentally undermining his successes as he is at bravado and posturing. Jol bears the mark of Opir’s attempts at greatness more than any other site, such as the Grand Arena originally constructed to make Jol a gladiatorial destination, but which in fact never hosted a single bloodsport after a final attempt to expand its understructure resulted in a partial collapse of the arena’s western side. Opir’s most visible achievement is a 60-foot-tall copper-plated statue of himself that graces the market square and bears a plaque that reads, “Opir the Compassionate.” The statue depicts King Eightfingers handing coins out to a grateful peasantry, but not a month passes without some form of vandalism requiring increasingly expensive repairs.
Opir holds onto power by dint of scheming and playing various factions off each other, and with a healthy dose of intimidation. He dreams of becoming powerful enough to challenge Sveinn Blood-Eagle for dominance across the whole Ulfen region, but first he will have to convince his own people that he’s more than an opportunist and a self-aggrandizing bully.
In theory, King Eightfingers rules Jol and all the lands south of Grungir Forest. In reality, his hold extends as far as he can reach at any given time. Generally, Opir’s rule extends to Jol and the two largest (and closest) Southmoor towns, Tomgruv and Solskinn. At his strongest, he’s able to make major decisions that affect these smaller freeholds, but anytime he looks the other way, the leaders of these smaller settlements are quick to exert their own authority. Trade along a few partially patrolled roads gives Southmoor its one real advantage, but as important as land trade with Varisia may be, the fact that Eightfingers has done so little to combat the savage barbarians of the Nolands to the south is just another example of an opportunity lost.
From a practical standpoint, this attitude means that it can be dangerous for Ulfen from the Thanelands to travel through Southmoor unless they make known their own disrespect for their king and their pampered compatriots to the north. Buying a round of drinks usually seals the deal, though the traveler often has to endure at least a few hours of Kalsgard jokes and japes.