In Y826, the Ravenswood Trading Company, a Grandéveran merchant company owned by the wealthy Ravenswood family, suddenly refused to trade with the rest of Grandévere. This unexpected trade embargo sent a wave of confusion across the kingdom’s western reaches. The Ravenswood Company’s signature good was the valuable oil of the winterflame flower. The oil, when properly distilled, will burn long and hot, while emitting very little light, making it perfect for heating the houses of peasant farmers through the frigid winter snows. If distilled even further, winterflame oil loses its inflammability and becomes a powerful and alluring fragrance, one very popular in the royal court at Hildsvine. Noblemen and common folk alike were outraged by the Ravenswood embargo and called for the dispute to be settled quickly and decisively. Autumn was nearly over and the snows of winter would soon be upon them.
The Ravenswoods refused to negotiate. Their true intentions remain unclear, but it seems likely they were trying to aggressively drive up demand for winterflame oil. The winterflame flower only naturally blooms in southern Nibeline, specifically in the southern marshes that separated the sunny beaches owned by the Ravenswood Company from the rest of the duchy. The Ravenswood clan had at their disposal a powerful force of mercenary soldiers, both Scythian and otherwise. The family was also renowned for the magical blood that flowed in their veins. Coupled with the treacherous terrain of the southern marshes, the Company’s significant martial presence unnerved the soldiers of Grandévere, who feared the dispute would be resolved neither quickly nor decisively.
Only three decades prior, war had erupted between Grandévere and the Dominion of Praetoria over what began as a small trade dispute. As such, few were eager for a large military engagement between the duchies and the Ravenswood family. The hostilities lasted just over two years, a grueling, torturous campaign with few real wartime casualties. The battles between the Company’s mercenaries and the Grandéveran army were like contests of might than total war. Most of the deaths over the course of the Ravenswood Dispute were due to bandit raids of the nearby villages, and to freezing conditions in the far-off Barrier Peaks. The fuel-starved peasants who perished in the three frigid winters that passed during the campaign were the true victims of the trade crisis.
The Ravenswood family placed immense pride in their genealogy. They have recorded their ancestry back to Y522, to a mighty sorceress named Cicely. Legend holds that Cicely of Ravenswood made a blood-bond with one of the last noble dragons, and that dragon’s power flows through all her descendants. Over the decades, the family became obsessed with the purity of their bloodline, and deemed it desirable, even vital, to marry only other descendants of the sorceress. However, in Y768, Anise Ravenswood split with her family after her father tried to marry her to her half-brother. Disgusted with his ideas of blood purity, she married a common man and fled, with many other like-minded Ravenswoods, to marshes and beaches of southern Nibeline.
Ultimately, hostilities ceased after the Ravenswood family peacefully negotiated a new commercial arrangement between their merchant vessels and their noble benefactors. Over the next several months, all the dwarven soldiers and Breian knights that fought to quell the disturbance slowly returned home, the dispute behind them. By Y830, life in the southern marshes had returned to normal.