|Ruler||Crusader Queen Galfrey|
The nation of Mendev (pronounced MEN-dev) in northeastern Avistan is a land defined by its conflict with Abyssal forces unheard of anywhere else on Golarion. The people of this beleaguered land constantly struggle with the demonic rift of the Worldwound found across its western border. Mendev is now in the middle of its fifth holy crusade against the demons of that land, and along with the pious and righteous, this crusade has attracted its fair share of mercenaries, outcasts, and ne'er-do-wells of all types hoping to take advantage of a war that has lasted for nearly a century.
Before the Worldwound
The history of Mendev stretches back before the opening of the Worldwound in 4606 AR, when it was simply a nation inhabited by the descendents of Iobarian exiles with a less-than-stellar reputation. The last prince of that land died when the portal to the Abyss was opened, an event that would change Mendev forever.
Opening of the Worldwound
The opening of the Worldwound in 4606 AR did not cause an immediate reaction, as the breach and the demons that poured from it expanded slowly at first. As the threat became more serious and tales spread of the invasion, the nations of the Inner Sea region and the major benevolent churches began to take notice and launched the First Mendevian Crusade in 4622 AR.
- Full article: Mendevian Crusades
This First Crusade was launched by the faltering church of Aroden in an attempt to whip the fallen god's remaining followers into a righteous frenzy. They were assisted in their efforts by the growing church of Iomedae, hungry to shore up its own bona fides and carry on the work of its predecessor. As thousands of pilgrim crusaders flooded up the the River Road and into Mendev, the crusader state as it exists today was born. The governments of Cheliax, Isger, and Andoran, dealing with internal conflicts of their own, saw a way of ridding themselves of many dispossessed nobles and wandering mercenary companies, and joined the church of Iomedae in their efforts. Their efforts managed to push back the demonic hordes in short order, and the crusade was deemed a success.
For almost a generation it seemed that the frontier with the Worldwound would remain quiet. But then the demons struck back with a terrible vengeance and the crusaders suffered defeat after costly defeat, their worst loss being the fall of crusader city of Drezen in 4638 AR. On the heels of their defeat, a Second Mendevian Crusade was launched. Unlike in the previous war, the forces of good were unable to drive back their enemies into the Abyss and instead opted for containment. Powerful magical barriers called wardstones were built along the southern and eastern borders of the Worldwound to check the demons' advancement and influence. These had to be maintained by rituals and prayer, and continued to be a constant focus of attacks during the Second Crusade and all the wars that followed.
During the Third Mendevian Crusade the demons once again changed tactics, opting for infiltration, subversion, and corruption of the armies opposing them. Things in general went poorly for the crusaders during this war, but more importantly, the demons were able to undermine the unity of their opponents and create suspicion in their ranks. Witch hunts against suspected demon cultists and other traitors became commonplace, particularly around the northern city of Kenabres, where a group of fanatical inquisitors led a great purge of Mendevian forces where hundreds were burned at the stake.
A new leader emerged amongst the demons in 4692 AR, a powerful balor known as Khorramzadeh, the Storm King. He and his forces were able to damage the Kenabres wardstone and cross the frontier, but were eventually driven back. This worrying development led to the calling of the Fourth Crusade in order to defeat the new menace before he had the chance to unite more of the demons under his banner. Lasting 15 years, this was the longest and most exhausting of the four crusades and ended in 4707 AR more out of sheer fatigue on the part of the crusaders than any major victory or other positive tactical development.
Mendev is located at the very north of the continent of Avistan and its northern border consists of the towering ice cliffs of the Crown of the World. To Mendev's west, marked by the Wardstones that help keep the abyssal taint at bay, is the Worldwound, Mendev's very reason for existing. To its east is the Lake of Mists and Veils, the vast body of water which thousands of pilgrims have crossed to complete their pilgrimage. To the south lies Numeria, separated by rivers along much of the border. The people of Mendev seem to have little to do with this harsh nation of savagery and strange science.
Mendev is governed by Queen Galfrey, the Sword of Iomedae. She is a noble and just leader who manages to balance leading Mendev compassionately with the need to ensure the crusades can continue to hold back the fiendish attackers. The problem with Queen Galfrey's noble leadership is that it does not stretch far enough—not much further than the walls of her fortress capital of Nerosyan. Beyond the city's walls her commands are no longer law and the various commanders in control of the other cities, towns, forts, and armies within Mendev each interpret her commands a little differently; some commanders taking more liberties than others. This has lead to divisions within the crusade, particularly since the Fourth Crusade saw the number of mercenaries, rogues, and other so called "low templars" rise to match the number of pious crusaders. The nation remains in a fragile state, with unchecked violence lurking just below the surface at all times. The government spends nearly all available resources in fighting the external foe, which leaves little to put out regional disagreements.
Next to the Queen, Hulrun of Kenabres, leader of the nation's inquisitors is the most respected and potent political figure. Even though he is quite advanced in years, he has lost none of his zeal for purity.
The inhabitants of Mendev are a strange mixture of peoples ranging from high-minded gallants to back-alley thugs. While many of the land's inhabitants were swept here in the fanatic zeal of one of the crusades, many are natives of this land whose families lived here long before the crusaders' arrival. These people, the native Iobarians, had much in common culturally with the neighbouring kingdom of Sarkoris, now the Worldwound. The Iobarian inhabitants tend to be treated as second-class citizens by the crusaders, as they still practice their ancient druidic faith. This, unfortunately, makes them suspicious to the zealous crusaders of more traditional religions, and has lead to many Iobarians burning at the stake for their heretical beliefs. In fact, most of the Third Mendevian Crusade seemed more focused on burning and purging heretics than it did on driving back the actual demonic denizens of the Worldwound. This suspicion is further fueled by the fact that Sarkoris was rife with cults dedicated to the demon lord Deskari, cults Aroden himself hunted down and destroyed during the Age of Enthronement.
- Full article: Mendevian Crusaders
The other more recent inhabitants of Mendev are the crusaders. They still arrive weekly by the boat load, streaming in from across the Lake of Mists and Veils. The arriving crusaders are an odd assortment. During the First Mendevian Crusade, those who sought to fight the invading demons were generally the most high-minded, virtuous people of the southern lands: clerics of good deities and noble paladins. However, by the Fourth Mendevian Crusade, the quality of crusaders had deteriorated. Many mercenaries flocked to fight in this seemingly endless war, and they now outnumber the pious crusaders. This situation is made worse by the fact that many southern nations now see the Mendevian Crusades as little more than a convenient dumping ground for political dissidents, thugs, criminals, and other undesirables.
Mendevians use their own slang words interspersed in their language. For instance, gaffle and rip are both used locally to describe a scam or a confidence trick.
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