During the third century of the Dark Age about the time that Parnania was founded (roughly 900 years ago), the Velesans in the southern Central Plains were under frequent attacks from the Lats. The Lats were seeking to expand territories and while they were all seemingly part of Garnock, the provincial lords had taken to raiding their northern neighbors. To counter act these threats, these Velesan lords began building strong fortifications. These fortifications began to be known as the Ring of Stone.
Many of the Ring of Stone castles and forts still exist today, but in varied states of repair. Perhaps the strongest and most influential of the remaining castles is Castle Ranstals. Now the seat of the Barony of Ranstals, this castle was built as a southern fort for the lord of the time. In many ways it has always served as the focal point of the Ring, because of its central nature. Still a tiny castle compared to those used by most of the Council of Baronies, it is in good shape as a military base.
The Ring of Stone is symptomatic of the issues that the Lats have always had with the Velesans. The southern Central Plains remains a collection of smaller baronies, though each of the baronies within the Council is vastly larger than what was there during the creation of the Ring of Stone. With so many small militaries, many of which were dug into their stone forts, the Lats could not easily risk venturing north. Attempts to conquer individual forts would take far too long, and ignoring these militaries and leaving them in the Lats’ rear was far too dangerous to supply lines and other logistics.
It is believed that the formation of the Council of Baronies is what allowed the Lats to make their attempts during the Conquering War. Once the Council was formed, the Lats only needed to treaty with three baronies in order to have a corridor to Parnania. Before the Council, the number would have been at least in the dozens.
The Ring of Stone may be the reason that the southern Velesans never became a powerful group. For centuries, these individual lords needed to maintain fortifications and armies beyond what they could truly afford. The drain of the costs of the military on these small holdings kept them from building larger cities and reveling in some of the trappings of civilization as their rivals in Brinston, Parnania and Garnock were doing. They were focused on their defense and survival.