Post Greyhawk Wars: 585 CY
Hochoch began as a trading post and fishing village in the early days of Keoland. It was built at the site of the legendary Gardens of Lai and the ruins of five towers, known in Flannae legend as the Willow Towers. These towers are believed to date back before the great migrations, perhaps as far back as when the powerful lords of the Isle of Woe ruled over eastern Oerik. Flan legend has it that they are of Olven design. Old tales and maps sometimes refer to Hochoch as Hocholve, which means “Hand of Elves” in Old Flan, though the true origins of these mysterious structures has never been confirmed. The town’s name, Hochoch, stems from this.
The Willow towers are aptly named, given their tall, lithe structure. Only two of the towers remain standing, fondly called the Thumb and Gardenview towers by the townsfolk. A third is known to have collapsed shortly after the mage Roelkar and his men, having successfully entered and exited it once, entered a second time. It is the only one of the Willow Towers known to have been penetrated, and bears the name Roelkar’s Breach in tribute.
“Peace would come to the Sheldomar eventually, and when the Kingdom of Keoland was established in -100 CY, the Willow Towers still denied the newcomers. It was suspected the sylvan elves of the Dim Forest knew the secrets of the ruins, but few men who cared would brave the shadows of that woodland. True, some did go seeking such knowledge. The few who returned spoke of cities of wild elves at the heart of the forest. Little folk taken by a certain madness but were, according to the slightly more peaceful sylvan, the true descendants of the Golden Court. One of these fearless explorers, a practitioner of enchantments whose name has been recorded as Roelkar, returned with part of the secret – a name: Haunafay.
Accompanied by a band of strong arms and scouts, Roelkar was the among the first to enter the gardens and return. He claimed to have spoken with the golden galda trees at the center of the gardens, these apparently being the last true members of the Golden Court. Roelkar was a master of oration, and with the luck of Olidammara had won the trees to his side. With the secrets they gave him, Roelkar’s band entered the first of the Willow Towers.
Another interesting phenomenon of that day: within an hour to the moment when Roelkar claimed to have spoken with the masters of the garden, Olamdri, the druid hierophant appeared in the shadows of the garden. No one saw him come – he was simply discovered sleeping on the hillside. The next day, the man stepped lively into the tangles of the garden and was gone, not to be seen again for a generation.
Roelkar and his men returned to camp in high spirits. They bore with them artifacts from a forgotten era, and were full of the anticipation of exploring the higher reaches of the tower, which became known as Roelkar’s Breach, in the morn. It would be the last night any one would see them, for not a single one returned from their next day’s venture."
From the Journals of the Sage, Nyfarem of Hookhill
Hochoch grew, and as Keoland nurtured its northern colonies, it became the major trading post south of the Dim Forest. At its peak, before the Empire of Keoland fell in the Small Wars, the population of the town and its outlying parts was nearly 12,000. Though defensive structures had long been in place, the King of Keoland ordered stone walls built to surround the town proper. Its proximity to the Dim Forest made it vulnerable to raids from creatures of that place.
The Province and town of Hochoch have seen a number of changes over the past decade. Originally of Keoland, there were constant disagreements about its ownership between it and the Grand Duchy of Geoff. When war came to the east in 582 CY, the townsfolk only listened to stories from afar. Then Ket invaded Bissel and humanoid hordes swept out of the Crystalmists, overwhelming the distracted armies of Sterich and Geoff. The fate of Hochoch seemed dark indeed.
Giants invade Geoff.
Giants take Hochoch but are stopped at the Javan by Gran March troops lead by the Owlbear Baron and supported by a contingent of exiled Geoffite cavalry.
The Owlbear Baron joins the Knights of Dispatch, a new branch of the Knights of the Watch.
The Army of Retribution, led by Knight Field Marshal, Dispatcher Alica Helanasdotter, Most Indominatable Minotaur, from Gran March plan to liberate Hochoch.