Three years before the party's adventure began, Siegfried Schoenberg, the head of High House Schoenberg, died. His only heir was Sigmund Schoenberg, who was only two years old. Subsequently, political disagreements broke out over who was to be appointed as regent until Sigmund came of age.
Siegfried Schoenberg's wife, Marie, was originally of House Quartermaine, an immensely wealthy High House situated to the north of the Goldwater. At the time of their marriage, Marie's youngest brother, Pierre, traveled to House Schoenberg in order to undertake training from Siegfriend's college of scholars, and essentially grew up there, becoming close to Siegfried and the Schoenberg family. As such, the Quartermaine family saw the opportunity to lobby for Pierre to be appointed regent as he was, after all, brother to the Lady of the House.
The Schoenbergs themselves supported Richard Schoenberg, Siegfried's cousin, for regent, but secretly wanted to reject Sigmund as leader of the House altogether, and instead would have Richard act as regent for Ophelia Schoenberg, the half-sister to Siegfried by a different mother who he adopted as his daughter a few years before his death.
The material power of the Quartermaines bought them a great deal of loyalty, even from those within the Schoenberg extended family who had taken a liking to Marie, Pierre, and young Sigmund, and so they were able to mount a fairly effective campaign for the administration for a foreign House. This unprecedented campaign grew in hostility until it spilled over into armed conflict between the two Houses.
During the armed conflict, the two chief High Houses of the Westmarch found themselves with divided loyalties. High House Borgia, the famous banking family, felt that the Schoenberg lands, with their highly desirable ports and proximity to the mountains, could be more effectively managed by the wealthy Quartermaines, and that this would be advantageous to everyone in the region. High House Warde, however, stood on tradition and supported the Schoenberg's ancestral hold on their lands.
Eventually, the Quartermaines "won" the conflict, but only after Quartermaine loyalists hidden within the Schoenberg camp poisoned both Richard and Ophelia.
Owing to the distasteful end of the conflict, Empress Goltana VI intuited that the regional conflict would continue to spiral out of control and effect the whole region if she did not step in. She officially declared the region "neutral land," since rechristened the Bitterlands, and appointed the Church of the Holy Orders to oversee the region.
The church occupied the ancestral castle of the Schoenbergs, renaming it Bitterwall Abbey, and since this time, the area has grown considerably, owing to the economic stimulus of multiple Houses sending representatives to the area to conduct business through the now wide-open ports and trade routes that converge on the area.