Against the Giants
Hochoch History - From Outpost to Bastion
Geoff ’s history stretches back for more than nine centuries, and Hochoch is not much younger than the Grand Duchy. From its humble beginnings as a military outpost, Hochoch (“Watcher’s Hold” in old Flan) has held great strategic importance in Geoff.
Originally just a sturdy riverside keep watching over Geoff ’s eastern border, the outpost soon grew into a small village. The few buildings that surrounded Hochoch Keep expanded into an entire town, far outgrowing the town of Midwood (Hochoch’s elder by less than a generation) and becoming one of the largest settlements in Geoff.
When Geoff became a vassal state of the Kingdom of Keoland in 316 CY, its ruler granted a fortified manor in Hochoch to the Knights of the Watch, who established one of their primary strongholds there. Although polite, the relations between the stern Watchers and the general populace have always been cold. Still, the Watchers’ presence has until recently kept Hochoch safe from the savage humanoids that occasionally preyed upon neighboring communities.
Hochoch’s safety ended in 584 CY, when the giant-led forces stormed the realms of Geoff, Sterich, and the Yeomanry. The savage horde swept through Geoff, and refugees poured into Hochoch daily, bearing the scars of the invaders’ violence. Soon after Preston’s fall, a force of hill giants emerged from the Oytwood, smashed Hochoch’s siege engines, and occupied the town. For almost a year, Hochoch’s inhabitants struggled under the giants’ abusive rule.
That suffering came to an end in 586 CY, when a force composed of Gran March soldiers and
Knights of the Watch descended upon Hochoch and reclaimed the town after a bloody battle. Using Hochoch as a staging ground, remnants of Geoffite pike and longbow armies, led by the recently created Knights of the Dispatch, pushed back into the invaded lands, bent on vengeance. Even though this combined force achieved some victories—most notably the liberation of most of the Oytwood—the loss of peasants and knights alike led to a grim stalemate. The giants kept to the conquered towns, and the Geoffites lacked the population to effectively reclaim their land.
In the five years since its liberation, too many eager eyes have turned to Hochoch. The lords of Gran March annexed Hochoch (ostensibly on a temporary basis), and rumors abounded that the town might be formally given to the Knights of the Watch. Perhaps unsurprisingly to onlookers, the local populace resisted such a move, seeing it as a coup against Geoff.
Displeased by the Watchers’ ambition, the exiled Grand Duke (Owen I of Geoff, currently housed in Gran March) announced his intention to move his court to Hochoch, the last free town of his realm. At the same time, quite a few Geoffite malcontents began blaming the Grand Duke’s inaction for the loss of their country and promoting the idea of replacing the monarchy with a democratic system not unlike that of the Yeomanry.
Currently, diplomatic debates in Hochoch have settled on a precarious balance of interests. The city remains a Geoffite community, ruled by a council of representatives elected by nobles, merchants, and community leaders, and it pays tribute to the Commandant of the Gran March. The Knights of the Watch, under orders from their leader, Hugo of Geoff, have sworn to serve as Hochoch’s town guard and uphold the laws laid down by the town council. It is uncertain how long this condition can last, however, before all parties are once again at each other’s throats.