The Realm of the Moonlyt Peaks is a Realm ruled by House Stone, in the mid-central region of Andoras, with the head of house Helman Stone as Highlord. The Moonlyt Peaks are one of the hardest places in Andoras to invade; it is nearly impossible to win an offensive war in the Moonlyt Peaks, if not outright so. The heavy terrain, cold weather and unforgiving tundra -- especially in the north, where it borders Frostfall-- results in creating a hardy, creative breed of people, who, although seldom go to war, are prepared to do so and prepared to defend to the bitter end. From their point of view, there is nothing that the lowlanders can offer them that is tougher than the brunt of nature herself.
Not much is known of the Moonlyt Peaks' early history. It is known that human habitation of the region predates all historical record, but archaeological evidence shows that it is possible the first Moonlyte people arrived from the south and journeyed up into the mountains around 15,000 BC. Prior to that, the Peaks were uninhabited, or as is the case in Tegrush, likely seen as a place to exile the weak or the dying. Many legends exist to explain the first colonists of the Peaks, but one in particular pertains to the current rulers of the region -- House Stone.
Early on, it is said that giants inhabited the Moonlyt Peaks and Frostfall, being the sole denizens of the lands due to their difficulty in habitation. Evidence suggests that the first Andorasi men arrived in western Gardoria from an unknown location around 25,000 years ago. Elkwood's ancient ruins points to this being likely, as determined from scrying magic. It is said from this initial migration, the ancestors of House Stone accompanied the parties of men. Those that accompanied told tales of how their moon goddess descended to meet them, blessing the land as hers and entrusting the Moonlytes -- her newfound people -- as its protectors. It is from this that the Moonlyt Peaks derives its name, and how House Stone has risen to become the sworn protectors of the land above all. Though this apocryphal story has mostly faded in the minds of Moonlytes today, it is a constant reminder of the region's roots.
The Warring Clans period
With the new migrants to the Peaks being mostly family-dependent, they inevitably formed bonds with their families -- and families that they were close to -- in a political fashion. Clans began to permeate the Moonlyt Peaks, and at one point there was thousands of them, fighting with each other for resources, land, and if they were prosperous enough, glory and expansionism. Each sought the favor of the gods, and prior to the introduction of the Five Paragons in the region, faiths often differed between clans -- almost all, however, acknowledged of the Moonlytes' newfound moon goddess, who purportedly blessed the region in an effort to create her race of chosen people. As such, the first wars in the Moonlyt Peaks were mostly religious and feud-based.
Before long, the Moonlytes had established themselves in their new home and began to mete out their existence plainly. A few clans, however, were able to impose their rule over other clans in a form of proto-feudalism, not forcing the other family to swear fealty but to acknowledge them as their suzerain. This influence became quite prominent, and in the Third Era, a region-wide communion was held with all clan patriarchs in an effort to determine who was on whose side, or if they claimed to be independent. These would be called 'distinctions' at the time, but in truth became different enough to be considered subcultures within the Moonlyte culture itself.
Six prominent families emerged, and titles for their allies, underlings and associates were also created, forming a subcultural identity alongside them: House Stone, a builder clan whose finest construction, Highmountain Hall, carved into the Moonlyt Peaks themselves remains the capital of the Peaks in modern day and whose allies and followers came to be known as Stelmonts; House Laghach, which dominated the Moonlyt Valley and competed with the Stelmonts for their influence, known as Laghans; House Myrdyff, which had holdings in the south along the western bank of the Mountain's Tongue, known as Myrdhans; House Avstone, which would later become House Ramstone, originated in the heart of the Peaks and often threatened the Stelmonts, known as Avmonts; House Ghaleich, whose roots were possibly Alettonic, holding land in the southeast near the borders of Thyllanor, known as Ghalhans; and finally, House Fjalaen, ruling the land to the very east of the Peaks, known as Fjalhans. Those who decided to be unaligned with any major clan were designated as independent (better translated as "uninfluenced" from Norttung) and all such clans lied entirely on the eastern bank of the Mountain's Tongue, adjacent to the Avmonts.
The distinction between -monts and -hans represented the family's origin; the suffix "mont" denoted a family that ruled primarily over mountain clans or highlanders, while "hans" represented the lowlanders or hill clans. The majority of clans sought to live in the hills where land was more fertile and habitable than the mountains, but the highlander families commanded more respect and were more hardy warriors in general.
These inferior clans were well aware of the connotation made with their 'association' to these families -- they were seen as vassals, as underlings. In truth, this perspective only made sense from outside the Peaks. Infighting still happened, but this communion led to fights between two groups to be bloody, as the wars often became coalition-based with dozens of clans on either side. Their identity as singular clans eventually evolved into a desire to defend the culture and House they had allied with, and yet it was not uncommon for once-close clans to be divided and pitted against other by this distinction. Many Moonlyte tales of unrequited love have been spawned from hopeless situations such as a Fjalhan boy longing for the hand of a Stelmont girl in marriage, despite them being separated by their culture. As such, the Peaks, despite seeming unforgiving and forlorn, are a popular topic of song for bards and troubadours.
These warring clans, despite their differences and hate for each other, would band together in defense of the region when prompted to by outside force; the war known as Callen's Folly, for example, despite not drawing any blood between the two factions (King Callen II Karthmere foolishly led his entire army to their death in the Dimlight Pass, hence the war being his folly), the Moonlytes swore to defend themselves first, and worry about clan feuds later. This was never a true threat in the Peaks, however, and thus never led to an ambitious temporary king trying to permanently unite the region.
Once the Peaks' suzerainty system was established, it did not change very much until the emergence of Garnder Golemont in the 130s BC, only a century and some odd years before the Dragomyr invasion of Andoras. Garnder believed that the Moonlytes were destined to expand beyond the Peaks, and that the cultures established by simple House allegiances were foolish. Designated as an Avmont himself, he came to prominence in his clan, united the region through charisma and inspiration, and turned his horizons to the others in the Moonlyt Peaks. One by one, the other cultures -- Stelmonts, Laghans, Ghalhans, and so forth -- fell to his sword. This, at the time, was quite controversial, and Garnder's name was defamed in many corners of Moonlyte society; at least, in the ones he had not yet conquered. It was around 121 BC when the Fjalhans finally submitted and the Moonlyt Empire was established, which Garnder took to unprecedented (and still unequaled) heights, expanding to the north, west and south, and annexing land from The Wetlands, Frostfall, and Gardoria.
This was relatively short-lived, however, as Garnder died in 74 BC and the title with him. As it had been in the Peaks since time immemorial, bonds were formed based on the loyalty to a person or family, not in faith of the state itself. The Moonlytes who had been put in charge of the lands outside of the Peaks upon Garnder's death eventually assimilated to their land's traditional kingdoms, while the Moonlyte people returned to their feuding divided way of life prior to Garnder's unification.
However, House Stone, then only acknowledged for their impressive building feats and in fables for their personal interaction with the Moonlyt Goddess, took advantage of the situation, uniting the fractured and wavering chunks of the Moonlyte people still within the Peaks with a newly created army, a rarity in the Peaks; alongside this, they reconquered the lands of the Wetlands to the west of the mountains, known as Druland, and a new cultural identity was born -- the Druhans, who were of mixed ancestry but still held loyal to the Wetlands. However, the Stones had no intention of allowing cultural distinctions get in the way of their unified state, so they slowly began the process of centralizing the power and changing the ways of the people so that they matched that of the Stelmonts. Alongside this, House Stone converted to The Five Paragons to further align themselves with the other Andorasi to the south, and had established a firm, stable kingdom by 20 BC.
All of the Stones' efforts seemed to be in vain when the Dragomyrs touched the shores of Andoras in 5 BC, bringing with them Dragons which could destroy entire cities, cook men alive in their armor, and send armies fleeing for their life. The Dragomyr strategy was very effective in places with mostly flat terrain, where guerilla warfare was limited or negligible in effect -- armies were forced to face each other in open-field combat, and with the might of several dragons behind them, the Dragomyr forces could destroy armies ten times their size. All on Andoras were alarmed when the Kingsland fell, beginning the era of post-conquest, and with it, House Dayton, who resisted until the Dragomyrs killed them all, leaving no immediate claimants to the throne alive. The Moonlytes began preparations to fortify their region, making much-needed forts where the terrain was like that of the south; flat and open, and making good use of their vast mountain range. One by one the southern kingdoms fell, and with the Kingdom of Thyllanor subjugated in 4 AC, the Dragomyrs began to invade the north, marching into the Moonlyt Peaks and attempting to strike at Frostfall by sea.
The defensive war was at first successful, as the dragons were not as effective in cold environments, and the Moonlytes, though relatively sparse, were able to go toe-to-toe with the Drakonian forces. A remarkable and valiant effort, though eventually a failure, was then noted by and made an impression on Draegon I Dragomyr, who found the Moonlytes to be his favorite Andorasi people after having fought each culture and learning their idiosyncrasies. According to his accounts, the Moonlytes were fierce fighters, making use of enraged berserkers, carefully placed traps which could induce avalanches, and taking advantage of their clan-bond structure -- every able man rose to defend his clan and family in times of need, and ultimately attrition took a good chunk of the Dragomyr forces while invading due to the harsh conditions; a far cry from the jungle-like climate of Drakonia. In all, the Moonlyt Peaks proved to be the toughest place on Andoras to invade, but it, too, fell; it was subjugated in 8 AC and then-King Kolston Stone was forced to swear fealty as a vassal of Draegon Dragomyr, alongside the Northmen king Theomar II Stenwulf, who surrendered at the same time. Draegon would then advance south and conclude his invasion with the vassalization of Edrane in 10 AC, forming a completely-united Kingdom of Andoras. The Moonlytes still hold the distinction of being the most vicious and difficult-to-beat fighters on Andoras due to their defense during this time, comparable to the ferocity of the Tegrushkin people in Doras Edrossi.
Modern era and present
As of now, the Moonlytes have returned to being mostly isolationist within the safety of their mountains -- like the Gardorians, their affairs are mostly dealt internally. Unlike the Gardorians, however, the Moonlytes were always quick to rise up whenever war called, and were often part of elite regiments within the Andorasi armies. They were loyal to the Dragomyrs to a fault, but their real allegiance lied with House Stone and the Moonlyte lords below them first, and when House Stone was persuaded to rise up in war against the Dragomyrs in the 346 AC rebellion, they were quick to agree, joining a coalition composed of Thyllanor, Thunder's Shore and Gardoria in an effort to overthrow Aegor IV Dragomyr and dismantle the Kingdom.
Now, the Moonlytes are once more independent, enjoying the power and freedom they were denied by the Dragomyr invasion three centuries before. With the War of Embers breaking out between Thyllanor and Thunder's Shore, the Moonlytes have taken the side of the Thyllanorians. Formerly rivals due to their proximity and Thyllanorian aggression, the Karthmeres and Stones are close allies in the present day, and both have something to gain by being each other's ally -- the Stones are protected from the south by Andoras's most powerful military, and the Karthmeres are supplemented with their allies' fierce fighters. It seems that the family-based clan wars of the Peaks are not just limited to the region -- a war on the scope of the entire continent is threatening to break out based on the same clauses.
In-lore works regarding the Moonlyt Peaks
A Starry Night Falls -- A tale depicting Helman I Stone, founder of Clan Stelmont and builder of Highmountain Hall and his wife, Elka, as they plan to migrate to the Peaks with the guidance of their so-called Moonlyte Goddess.