Valkenholm was originally settled as part of Steppengrad over seven centuries ago. However, the Grafs of Steppengrad saw the rich forests of Valkenholm as a resource to exploit rather than a culture to embrace—many of the settlers in Valkenholm were stripped of their profits and forced into indentured servitude under the direction of Steppengrad nobles. Most settlements in Valkenholm evolved into plantations and logging camps, centered around fortresses and castles built by the Grafs to defend their wealth against the occasional peasant uprising or bandit raid from the neighboring Outlands.
After thirty years, the countryside of Valkenholm was scattered with developed villages and looming towers, but citizens of the region had reached their breaking point. Messengers traveled from settlement to settlement in the dead of night, and townsfolk gathered to collect weapons they had cached against just such a need. In one bloody week of uprisings, most Grafs were driven out, while a handful of the cruelest or least fortunate noblemen were rounded up and killed.
Having attained its independence, one of the leaders of the rebellion rose to prominence and named himself King Stefan Hightower the First. This began a tradition of royalty in Valkenholm that King Hightower's descendants cemented over the following decades. Valkenholm became famous for the institution of feudal order, as the former Grafs' castles were turned over to the King’s supporters, creating peers and a system of vassalage. Nor were the commoners ignored; a House of Commons was established to help advise the king and provide a voice for those without noble blood.
The more egalitarian realm grew in size and influence until it became arguably the foremost nation in Morden. Valkenholm dealt affably with all realms of the Outlands, traded with Cairn Kainen, and was a popular destination for caravans leaving Hebron and Hyphrates. Relations with Steppengrad were less than warm, but the two realms learned to coexist. The Enochian church chose Valkenholm as a central meeting point, and constructed a mighty cathedral there—the fortress-monastery of Massif Helsenn. In fact, the Enochian church has a prominent presence in Valkenholm. Over the centuries, the monks have worked with the monarchy to establish several orders of knighthood in service to both the crown and the church.
Prior to its conquest, Valkenholm prospered over its neighbors. Forestry, carpentry, and lumbering were some of Valkenholm’s largest industries, followed by fishing, mining, and riverway trade. The capitol of Kulidar—even after the ravages of war—is amongst Morden’s largest and most well-developed cities, featuring numerous guild houses, villa homes, and Enochian cathedrals.
Citizens of Valkenholm were famously prideful of their nation, having gained a reputation for believing they were just a little bit better than any other realm in Morden. That pride was shattered by twin blows. The first blow was the loss of the war against the Witches. The second blow to Valkenholm was enduring the crushing grip of subjugation under its conqueror.
After the conquest, Valkenholm is a symbol of what awaits the rest of Morden. It is a realm fallen from grace, firmly under the thumb of a ruthless Witch and preyed upon by monsters. Its people, once proud and prosperous, cower and walk with their heads cast down—an object lesson in how the Witches exert their dark influence across the land.