History of Thundering Vale

Foundation in 4802

In 4802 AED, while Gehennum was suffering the political and administrative paralysis of the reign of Regikhord II, five fratrai from various parts of the episkopy of Valina (in eastern Thelmond) formed a cabal to sequester a hunting preserve in unleased Crown land. They seized a site in the mountains, and have since exerted and maintained claims to the exclusive use of 210,000 hectares (520,000 acres) of mountainous forest along the boundary between the episkopies of Valina and Gla.

The founding fratrai were as follows:

  1. the mess club of Gemini Lokhos of the Heresketh militia (a unit with origins in, and preserving the traditions of, the Sacred Band of Heresketh);
  2. the Greymane Brotherhood (a mystery-cult society with murky antecedents);
  3. the Society of the Seven Arrows (a Persiflegian group and democratic faction from the city of Dahar);
  4. Wyethan’s School (a scholastic group and educational institution from Valina); and
  5. Tamé’s Agema (an aristocratic clique and Timeonid cult-group with origins as the bodyguard of the anax of Valina).

The members pooled half a mina each to build a simple but spacious lodge on the banks of the Cloud Lynx River, near the centre of their claim. An annual due provided for its maintenance and the wages of a permanent curator, steward, and gamekeeper.

The New Lodge, 4825

These arrangements proved adequate for twenty years or so, but by 4825 the lodge was getting run down and rather crowded. The group took up a subscription and built a new lodge, much larger and grander, along with facilities such as a fountain-house, theatre, kennels, and cottages for the curator, steward, gamekeeper, and other servants.

Five separate lodges, 4857

By the 4850s the New Lodge was crowded, which some members blamed on ‘large parties from Seven Arrows and Tamé’s Agema’, and others on ‘Greymane adepts in almost permanent residence’. After acrimonious debate, the members resolved that each of the five fratrai should build its own lodge. A new site was chosen not far away, and the five new lodges were built in Thundering Vale.

Over the next thirty years the college started selling timber from its forests to cover the expenses of maintenance, and accepted a lucrative offer from the city of Valina for water from its rivers. This resulted in large cash surpluses. New facilities proliferated at Thundering Vale: baths fed by hot springs, a theatre, gymnasium, and stadium, pavilions, shrines, mews for falcons…. ‘Hides’ were built in remote parts of the range to accommodate overnight hunting-parties. The college became a comfortable place to live, and members of all five fratrai moved in almost permanently.

Restriction of membership to permanent residents, 4883

Permanent residence led to difficulties within and between the fratrai. Members who did not live at Thundering Vale felt that they were subsidising those who did. Yet any lodge that moved unilaterally to forbid long-term residence would have borne a cost to the benefit chiefly of the others. The issue caused some acrimony, which came to a head at a general meeting in 4883.
The assembly was held at Thundering Vale, and the permanent residents were near a majority. A clumsily-framed motion to restrict long-term stays was defeated on the grounds of its unintended implications. A large group of members stormed out in outrage.

The rump assembly passed a resolution providing that:

  1. forty members from each fratra should contribute 200 minai each;
  2. the sum thus raised by each fratra should be divided equally among all members of that fratra, buying out all existing rights; and
  3. the members making the contribution should become entitled to a permanent residence.

This resolution caused some bitterness. Some permanent residents could not raise the contribution, and were forced to leave. Some frequent visitors from the larger fratrai thought their payouts worth less than their rights had been. Seven Arrows had more than forty willing contributors, and had to make invidious choices among them. Wyethan’s School and the Brotherhood of Greymane found it difficult to find forty buyers at the price, and had to borrow money to buy out their ex-members. But it went into effect, establishing Thundering Vale as a residential abbey.

This reorganisation profoundly changed most of the fratrai.

  • The group from the Gemini Lokhos mess club who settled at Thundering Vale were no longer members of the Heresketh militia. They continued their traditions, but adopted the name Gemini Lodge.
  • The Society of Greymane quickly ceased to exist outside Thundering Vale, where it adopted the name Greymane Lodge.
  • Seven Arrows Lodge at Thundering Vale soon dropped all links with the political and social club at Dahar except for the common cult of Trevethan.
  • Tamé’s Lodge at Thundering Vale maintained close though informal links with Tamé’s Agema at Valina, until the latter was suppressed by the episkopos in 4898 AED.
  • Wyethan’s School still flourishes in the suburbs of Valina: its branch in Thundering Vale adopted the name Skywalker Lodge and a wholly different character. Links are not forgotten, but have become tenuous.

Progress to wealth and influence

Thundering Vale has since waxed rich on sales of timber and water, by leasing some land for farming and plantations, and by charging board and tuition for its prestigious ephebeships and pre-ephebe coaching. The number of members allowed to each lodge was increased to fifty on the centenary of foundation (4902 AED). Membership at Thundering Vale became a respectable living for the younger sons of the gentry.

Provision for retired and crippled members, 4909

By 4909 the limited places at Thundering Vale were filling up to some extent with elderly members who did not hunt nor take much part in the social life of the hunters, but who would not sell out because they had little prospect of living in comfort on the price of their membership, and because they had few friends outside the Vale. On the initiative of the Steward, the members resolved to rebuild the abandoned and dilapidated 'New Lodge' as a retirement home for aged and crippled members. Arrangement were set up for old and crippled members to sell their memberships and pay a lump sum for a corrody: bed and board for life in the New Lodge, without hunting rights.

Admission of women, 4926

In 4926 the daimon of the city of Heresketh sought to provide for one of his daughters by buying her a membership of Gemini Lodge at Thundering Vale. The members were not keen, but in the absence of an explicit rule excluding women from membership they dared not to offend such an influential daimon. Briomarre of Heresketh was admitted, and provoked furious controversy by attending the Assembly of Members, speaking in the debates, and voting. Traditionalists averred with heat that women are naturally incapable of these things, but Briomarre successfully insisted on exercising rights explicitly guaranteed to every member under the written rules. She thus established a precedent that gives women members of Thundering Vale an unparalleled political equality with men.

A few die-hard conservatives resigned in protest, and were quickly replaced with women and progressives. Their forebodings were not borne out by events: few women seemed attracted to the way of life in a permanent hunting camp, and fewer could afford the price of membership. For over seventy years there has been a small presence of women among the members of Thundering Vale: generally less than a dozen in each lodge. They have neither swamped the men, nor provoked fatal rivalries, nor produced an atmosphere of constraint. Perhaps it is that, being ineligible as wives, the women at Thundering Vale are treated just like men.

Expansion, 4951

In 4951, with money accumulating to an embarrassing extent in its treasury, the College disbursed a sum to each lodge to allow it to pay for extensions, and raised the limit on memberships to eighty per lodge. There was some fear that if so many members were allowed to hunt without restriction they would hunt out the College’s stocks of game. So it was agreed that the members would accept some restriction of their hunting-rights, in return for which the College would guarantee full board to members in residence.