A Brief History of Blackfen
Blackfen emerged as a staging post for troops during the latter stages of the war between Badathur and Karnish during the Third War of Ascendancy, from where they were ferried across Black Lake straight into the front line. The natural defenses afforded by the lake and The Silver Hills made it an excellent strategic post and despite countless attempts, the Karns never managed to take it. For much of the early part of its history Blackfen was little more than a ferry port, a waypoint on the hazardous journey along The River Kirn from Southport and the Othos River to Ghendenbur. During the Long Peace it also represented the only significant crossing point across the rivers south of Ferrymead and north of Marad. Since the fall of Ghent and Yeod, however, and the coming of Zykerathox, Blackfen is now the only place which offers a relatively safe crossing and acts as a conduit through which Karn troops pass from the safety of Badathur straight into the front line in the war with Zykerathox.
After the end of the War of Ascendancy, which saw Badathur annexed into the Karnish Empire, the Karns were quick to realize its strategic value and it grew into a small, permanent barracks, with the peninsula well defended by a wooden palisade and towers, which remain in place to this day. The troops stationed there were shipped to the various conflicts and a small community sprung up. As the land surrounding Blackfen was also exceptionally fertile, it was soon at the heart of a small, but thriving community. However, as peace fell over the lands once again, Blackfen soon found its usefulness diminished and soon the barracks were dismantled and the troops moved to locations nearer the frontline with Hith in Vidor.
Nonetheless, the small community that had established itself remained, and the ships from Southport and Ghendenbur continued as Blackfen established itself an as important point along that journey. With the old barracks gone, it wasn't long before the people moved into the safety of the palisade, which still remained, and Blackfen emerged as a small village in its own right. Little changed over the years until a large contingent of giants came down off The Silver Hills, pillaging and marauding, wiping out several small communities. Only the safety of the palisade kept the giants at bay and not even this would have held them for too long, but for the arrival of Lord Whillis V'doyn, along with a regiment of hardy soldiers. The giants were routed in the Battle of Blackfen and the safety of the small community secured.
Lord Whillis was lauded through the muddy streets of Blackfen and, seeing the natural advantages afforded to the village due to its geographic location, and with the palisade already in place, he settled there. He invested heavily in improving the docks and started sending local wares regularly north to Southport and south to Ghendenbur, establishing Blackfen as an important trading zone in its own right. He also helped establish the dock warehouses where goods could be stored, encouraging more merchants to use Blackfen as a staging post along their route, which saw the markets of Blackfen flourish, leading to even more activity and trade. Blackfen underwent an unprecedented transition as its population rapidly grew and it wasn't long before it had emerged as an important town. Lord Whillis' presence in Blackfen also helped to attract more dignitaries, lured by the potential for wealth that was possible in the rapidly growing economy.
A brief rebellion against the King, after substantial tax increases saw the arrest of several local dignitaries who were refusing to pay, saw the people of Blackfen pour into the streets, pitchforks in hand, and chase the remaining Council members out of town. The town, as it still was at that time, was soon surrounded by a contingent of Karnish soldiers and a small pitched battle - locally known as The Battle of Blackridge - took place not far from Blackfen. The ill-equipped rebels were easily defeated and order was soon restored.
Blackfen continued to grow, taking advantage of the peace and emerged as a small city. Not only was it an important crossing point and staging post, but also a significant market city where livestock, fish, dairy and other farming produce were all bought and sold and through which a significant amount of silver passed which had been mined in the eastern tip of The Silver Hills. Soon the palisade could no longer hold the population, which began to spread outside the protection the palisade offered. A significant attack on the city by a band of Hith's orcs saw Blackfen hard pushed and the majority of those living outside the palisade were forced to retreat inside for protection and much of North Blackfen was burnt down. After the orcs had dispersed, rebuilding work began and the Abbey of Fandor and the Hospital of the Holy Fandorians was built - a huge, stone cathedral on the edge of the city - and Blackfen once again emerged from a troubled period and began to thrive.
The coming of Zykerathox and an end to the Long Peace brought war and chaos to much of Arrasia, but in particular to the South. The Karnish empire began to fall - Vidor, Eastdale, Ghent and Yeod all forming part of Zykerathox's new Kingdom on Arrasia, which came to be known as The Fallen Lands. A rush of refugees, forced east by the conflict, flooded Blackfen and the population swelled. Many remained there, having nowhere else to go, while others continued their journey into Karnish. As the lands east of Blackfen fell, the city soon found itself at the heart of the war, with its strategic advantages making it an important military city. The old defenses were patched up and the wooden towers replaced with stone ones, though there was no money or time to extend the palisade to protect those outside it, causing something of a political rift and much public resentment. Troops began to arrive and soon Blackfen was once again, as it had been when it first emerged, a military city. Despite several large advances by Zykerathox's armies against the region, Blackfen remained untouched with the battles taking place several miles away. Nonetheless, for a period it looked only a matter of a time before Zykerathox would overwhelm them and Blackfen overrun.
The re-emergence of Hith into the war, forcing Zykerathox to change tactics and move his armies against his foe, brought the relief so necessary, not only to Blackfen, but to the region as a whole. Although the war here continues - with the demon Kamlak now in charge of the war against Karnish - the reduced intensity allowed Blackfen to establish itself as a point from which major sorties could be made against the enemy. There was even a growing sense of hope. This was dashed, however, with the coming of Black Undeath of Zykerathox. The first cases wrought havoc in Blackfen, when many fell ill to the plague and rose as zombies. The worst affected were those outside the palisade, adding to the resentment of those who lived there. It was only the drastic action taken by the City Council which eventually managed to get the plaque under control. A second eruption of the plague also swept through North Blackfen, with many of the people forced to kill their own family members as they rose from their beds as undead. Since then, cases are still common enough, but the strict Quarantine Law and punitive punishments for those who do not abide by it has seen the Black Undeath of Zykerathox kept largely under control.