Dunchideock is a robber-kingdom on the eastern fastland. It is established by Aengus and his wife Ainé when they flee into the Myrcewald in the year equivalent to 1917 C.E.: it only lasts five years. Aengus likes to style himself the Fugleman of the Realm of Morchard, but that term was only really used by him, Covac, and his most loyal or sycophantic supporters. Owel tends to use it when talking to Ainé when trying not to appear too familiar. Most of the inhabitants of Dunchideock, and especially the camp, just use the term ‘Lord’.
Those who reach Dunchideock are all fleeing something: the law, oppression, a contemporary world they do not fit into. But people’s pasts are not an area anyone there enquires into – not even Covac: he thinks he can read people.
The place itself is a triangular dell, or slade, hidden in the Myrcewald. It is not much more than a mile across, sloping gently to the south-west, almost entirely surrounded by slopes of various heights and steepness – these are worst in the north and least in the south-west. It has few trees left in it by the time Owel and Covac arrive, though the woodland around is dense. It was probably almost as thickly wooded as the surrounding areas when Aengus and Ainé first arrived, but timber now needs to be collected from outside. Aengus does understand however that if he clear fells areas too obviously, then his security will be compromised. Yet the felling he decrees is hardly subtle: the areas are still obvious, though as they are to the north and west, anyone discovering them will probably already be aware of Dunchideock’s location.
Given the area of the dell, that the northern third is occupied by Aengus’s stockade, and the size the population reaches (see below), the camp in the lower part of the slade is pretty cramped. But those who live there are not familiar with spacious living, and it does not much matter to them.
This society becomes – under Covac, especially after his return from captivity – very tightly structured, with distinct, hierarchical strata. There are seven levels, with the majority in the lowest, little more than slaves.
When Owel and Covac arrive in Dunchideock there are only ‘general’ guards – roughly divided into the more full-time ones, formally called the Glen Guards – who progress to become the core of the Elite Guards – and the part-time ones who are part of the essentially disorganised ‘defence force’ which comprises all able-bodied males. This was commanded, haphazardly, by whichever officers of the Glen Guards were available.
The Glen Guards were usually referred to as the ‘perimeter’ guards, their formal title being rarely used. Their Officer-in-Charge was Naisi, their second-in-command Sera, and their junior officers included Roc and Amergin.
Covac reorganises the Glen Guards and the ‘defence force’ – in two stages – into a more formal and all-encompassing system till, before its fall, there are a total of about 450 guards of various types in Dunchideock. This equates to about two-thirds of the adult male population, though there are only around 30 Palace Guards and 70 Border Guards.
The population of Dunchideock reaches around 800 before its fall, over half of whom are adult males, with the rest females, the young and the old. It is a ‘traditional’ society, hierarchical, and with men and women having different roles. The women gather food, look after the young, and administer to the men’s wants. They are definitely the subordinate sex. The men are the leaders, the guards (warriors), the hunters, the skilled craftsmen, and the labourers.