Accord, the: Eight hundred and twenty-two
years before Ghoras' usurpation of the Tzalin line, Cirenas, Priestess of Nirian, called
upon the White Lady to end the plague of wars that troubled the land.
What resulted was the Accord, a powerful geas that brought peace to
every kingdom that sought it, and terrible misfortune to any that
sought war. During the time of the Accord, an alliance between the
lands of Aris, Pavane and Ithyra gained stewardship of nearly the entire
world, referring their disputes to the Tzalin kings. After three
hundred seven years, the Accord was finally broken when each of these
three overlords struck out at each other simultaneously.
Akkat, Devrim: Ghoras's chief general, descended from Del Akkat,
who helped Ghoras take the throne a thousand years ago. Also, Warlord
Ald Miles: Ald Miles was
founded at the same time as the Ring Kingdoms, and
was originally populated by Undermen. Since as long as anyone can
remember, Ald Miles has been at war with Rhi
Miles. Their eternal battle has been interrupted by things such
as the Accord and their subjugation by Ghoras, but neither country has considered such
things more than temporary inconveniences. Rhi Miles was invaded
first, and during their war with the invading army made the unheard-of
offer of a truce with Ald Miles at the time. The offer was, of
course, rejected soundly. Ald Miles was invaded nearly a century
later, and fought tooth and nail against the invading forces, more to
keep from becoming part of the same empire as Rhi Miles than because
of any objection to the lich king. In the end, the entire royal
family was staked and a regent appointed.
Alkynia: Alkynia is the
birthplace of actors, writers, and spies. The Masquerade, held
annually at the beginning of winter, sports the most extravagant
costumes seen anywhere, and most major cities in Alkynia observe the
tradition of Masking --- licensed shops sell a set of masks, each
corresponding to one of thirty-four Mask Types (drunkard, sage, hero,
noble), and while under the Mask one is allowed to ignore the
responsibilities of one's real identity and be treated as one's
facade. Overuse of Masking is highly discouraged. (See Legend: Masks of Alkynia
Anz: The Northern God, the God of
sanity, order, and logic. Often depicted in burnished gold mail, with
the sword Adjudicator held upright. The Priests of Anz are orgainized
in a rigid hierarchy under the High Priest or Priestess. Hecaia, the
current High Priestess, holds her court at the High Temple of Anz in
Aravy: The Aravians choose to
commemorate their important deeds by tatooing representations on
themselves. Temporary decorations are added with ink. The skins of
important Aravians are tanned and kepts in places of honor; the skins
of their Warlords are carefully mounted on a monument in their
capital, Novar. When Ghoras's army arrived, they put up a fierce
battle, but eventually surrendered after their Warlord, Dhi Den
Logoset, lost a single combat with Molar Akkat,
then Ghoras's general. Logoset surrendered upon being mortally
wounded, and was seen to speak to the victorious Akkat for some few
minutes before the general administered a coup de grace. After that,
Aravy swore loyalty to Akkat as their new Warlord (the only country
not technically loyal to Ghoras, but this was always regarded as a
technicality). Upon Akkat's death, a delegation from Aravy travelled
to Tzalmir for his funeral, and afterwards took and tanned his skin
(there was a provision allowing this in his will) --- his skin is the
only unmarked one on the Aravian capital monument.
Arbyt of Triel, the: The Arbyt
is ruled by the Arbyter, a huge rock. A group of five of six
Listeners listen to what the rock tells them, and convey it to the
populace. No one else but the Listeners is able to hear the voice of
the Arbyter, and since the demise of the bile-wormed Listeners, no one has been able to
hear the Arbyter at all. See also essays on Triellian naming conventions, and brine wool, one of Triel's major exports.
Archmagus, the: Head of the
Council of Mages and mayor of Tzalmir, though
for the past thousand years the post has not carried much
Aris: A kingdom to the north of
the Ring Kingdoms, noteworthy for the extreme loyalty
of its people ever since its prominent role during the Accord. Aris
put up an ardent fight during the expansion of the Eternal Empire, not
falling until after Leblin and Dvelinhurzt had already submitted.
Arivale: Arivale has a number
of hills and quarries, some of which produce the finest colored marble in the
Land. The countryside of Arivale is, in addition, very striking, and
is popular among High Men, who claim that Muses dwell there. Arivale
is governed by a Baron and a Guild Parliament.
Asaen: Its territory almost
fully containing the Nonnig Forest, the
Chancellorship of Asaen is the primary source of nonnigs for the whole world. Asaen was once home
to Cirenas, the priestess of Nirian whose invocation of the White Lady was the
formation of the Accord. Asaen is known for its
graceful music and arts, and one of the foremost Bardic Colleges is in
Doli Arnos, Asaen.
Belid: Belid claims to be the
place where Shagras created the first Men of
Valor, and is the site of vast ruby mines. Legend says that for every
drop of blood spilled in Belid, a ruby appears in the mines.
Originally two countries, Belid is now ruled by a pair of royal lines,
one matriarchal and one patriarchal. The two countries were united by
marriage long ago under many treaties and agreements; the table that
all the treaties were signed on, said to have been made by High Men
and stolen by the Men of Valor, was found split down the middle on the
night of the marriage. It is currently still used, despite the crack
running its length, in the Great Hall.
Bile Worm: Magical parasites
employed by Ghoras in maintaining power over the
kingdoms of the Eternal Empire. A bile worm
enters the liver of its host, and creates a symbiotic relationship on
which the host soon comes to depend. When the bile worm dies, so does
its host. A bile worm will die when its creator dies, or at the
creator's mental command.
Bivik: The capital of Mooris, Bivik is a carefully laid out set of
streets, usually in a wagon-wheel arrangement. In the central plaza
stands a great pyramid (long ago said to be a translucent silver),
that changes colors at odd intervals. Whenever the pyramid's color
changes, the city streets shift, to a rectangular grid, or other
orderly setups. It is probably not surprising that not many Moorizens
choose to live in Bivik.
contains one of the highest densities of mystical places in any
kingdom. A few are: the Long Pit (apparently bottomless); the
enchanted clearing in which the season is always opposite the current
one, and always pleasant (winter is crisp new-fallen snow, while
summer is balmy), but that may never be visited more than once; the
Crystal Cavern; and the Master's Footprint (said to have been left by
the God of Creation as he first stepped out of
Blue Tower: The tower at the
mouth of the Gosseg is huge, and made all of
a blue stone seen almost nowhere else in the world (a few pebbles of
the same sort of blue are found in Arivale, but none of these
pebbles are larger than a fingernail, while the Blue Tower seems to be
all of one piece). It is, in addition, strangely resistant to
sorcery. There is no entrance, and no windows, and earth mages report
that the tower extends down as far as they have investigated.
On particularly dark nights, though, lights have been seen at the top,
though only from far away.
Burnt Lands: The outskirts
of the Burnt Lands are simply scorched plains, grass swept by the
occasional brushfire. Further in, there is no vegetation, just rock,
that grows warmer and warmer to the touch, until splits in the rock
reveal lava underneath and the ground is too unstable to walk on.
Lots of volcanoes down here too, and the sky is permanently ashen.
Cabal of the Shattered Mirror: A
group of assassins, very highly paid and very competent, which makes a
practice of sending its target a body identical to the target in every
way (except for being dead), and killing the target four days later.
Also known as ``the Messengers of the Shadow Dweller.'' Legend says
that if you break a mirror and speak into it, the Cabal may
Ceczo: The Queen of Ceczo is
crowned every three years, after single combat between the reigning
Queen and her most worth challenger. The loser is burnt as an
offering to the Red Lady, and her ashes plowed under in the fields.
The Queen usually chooses her consorts from among the priests of Shagras, though not always. Ceczo was, for its
size, one of Ghoras's toughest foes, until at
the Queen's Challenge he slew both the challenger and the reigning
Queen in single combat. He further stated that if anyone had the
temerity to challenge him in three years, he would raze the entire
capital city, Prokaw, to ashes, which they could then plow under. No
one did, though for years Ceczians referred to Ghoras as the Queen.
Any who did so in his hearing, however, were summarily executed, until
the practice stopped.
Cirenas: Okay, Cirenas is in
the dictionary now. Happy? Anyway, Cirenas was a priestess of Nirian from Asaen who called
down the miracle that founded the Accord.
Clergy: The various priests of
the Six Gods organize their clergy differently. The priests of Geskekelud have no organization that can be
determined, while the priests of the Lord
of Destruction are all of the same rank. Various orders
of the Creator God have their own heads, but
have no overall leader. Nirian's clergy are
roughly hierarchical under High Priestess Nioeye, while Anz's clergy are arranged in an ordered tree under
High Priestess Hecaia. The High Priest(ess?) of Shagras is the Red Warrior; the ceremonial armor
and a tradition of secrecy mask the wearer.
Cliffsfall: A rocky, nearly
barren land, many Cliffsfall men and women make their livings as
mercenary soldiers in the employ of other lords, and much of the
remaining population is routinely decimated by Pdallar in their annual battles over the fields
between the Ladysblood and the Siodari.
Coinage: Most of the kingdoms
of the Land mint their own coins from copper, silver and gold. The
province of Tzalmir mints the Gold Talent,
which is the most common coin in trade between kingdoms. During the
time of the Tzalin kings, Talents bore the face of the king. During
the reign of Ghoras, any such coins that passed
through Imperial coffers were melted down and re-minted with his
Cult of the AllFather: This
group preaches that there is one god, and that the six gods commonly
worshipped are but demons. Most pay them no mind, though the
warrior-priests of Shagras occasionally go on a
jihad against them, but there have been a few unsettling reports of
things that looked rather like miracles, performed by followers of the
Dalos: One of the Ring Kingdoms, founded principally by Men of Valor.
Its capital, Dern, is home to the High Warrior
Priest of Shagras.
Dark Forest: No one lives
here, though there are many overgrown ruins where some have tried.
The forest is said to protect itself, and though travellers pass
through it, most are careful to bring their own firewood, and refrain
from hunting in it.
Dern: Yes, Dern really is the
capital of both Dalos and Neffik. The city was originally founded when the
border was somewhat unclear, and subsequent wars never really managed
to resolve that particular issue. Finally, the city was divided down
the middle by a great wall, and half is considered part of Dalos, half
part of Neffik. Getting from one half of the city to the other isn't
as hard as it might appear, as the borders are almost always
completely open outside the city. Since the building of the
wall, the Dernese have gone to great lengths to make the two halves of
the city look not at all alike; the Neffikan side is full of twisting
spires and overhanging balconies and raised walkways, resembling a
three-dimensional maze, while the Dalos side is solid and boxy and
heavily reinforced, as if constantly ready for an invasion from its
d'Vale, Moran: Possibly the
most popular bard of all time, d'Vale lived during the Wars of
Ambition and wrote over three hundred songs, among them ``Dawn at the
Ladysblood'' (a favorite among soldiers) and the famed ``Last
Ballad.'' (See Legend: ``Death and the
prides itself on not raising a single crop. They are fine hunters,
and do trade some of their meat and skins for bread and veggies from
neighboring countries (not Tavat Mien,
however), but they are some of the most carnivorous men in the Land.
Only moderately populated, Dvelinhurzt's population is for the most
part concentrated in small stone keeps scattered evenly about. Each
Huntsman (master of a keep) is virtually unchallenged on his own land,
while the Lord of the Hunt speaks for all Huntsmen to outsiders. An
interesting local species found nowhere else is a spotted hunting cat,
intelligent and fiercely loyal.
Empty City: A thousand years
ago, there was a city called Siarl, on the border of Ithyra and Ald Miles, on
the Siodari River, which had no men in it. It
was full of people, though --- aerials and serpentmen and elves and
merfolk who swum up from the Sea of Storms,
and many many others. The city's gates were guarded by golems of
iron, and human traders were only allowed to the marketplace outside
the city walls. When Ghoras took Ald Miles,
though, before he could reach his hand to the city, the inhabitants
left, leaving only empty buildings behind. They are said to have
rebuilt their city elsewhere, somewhere that the Empire would never reach, but no one knows
Endless Sea: The Endless
Sea reputedly stretches beyond even the thrones of Nirian and Geskekelud.
Brave (foolhardy) sailors who have ventured far to the southwest claim
that at the edge of the world, the sea and sky touch, and that there
is an entrance to paradise there.
Eternal Empire The Empire of Ghoras, as it was referred to after Ghoras'
conquest of the Ring Kingdoms.
Femlir: Femlir is ruled by a
Lord Regent and a king. The line of succession for the King is hugely
long and complicated, and is constantly in flux. The Lord Regent's
power increased dramatically on Femlir's induction into the Eternal Empire, as Ghoras
preferred to deal with someone who was going to be around for a while.
Bright colors are de rigueur in Femlir, with decorative scarves,
gloves, epaulets and so on signifying various political and guild
allegiences, as well as marital status, wealth, and the like. Houses
and furnishings are equally gaudy and embellished, though usually less
Geskekulud: The Southern
God, god of chaos, insanity, luck, and confusion. The priests of
Geskekulud have no organization, and their behavior tends to be rather
quirky. Though in Dern, the capital of Neffik, there can always be found a priest of
Geskekulud Geskekelud is depicted in many forms and with many personal
items, two frequently mentioned of which are the Flail of Pain and the
Lamp of Insight.
Gal Sidar: One of the Ring Kingdoms, founded near the beginning of
history by the Summer Men. Due to the legendary fertility of Summer
Men, the country is one of the most populous in the world, despite
having its population reduced dramatically every time a war happens to
cross its borders.
Despite its temperate climate, lush tropical forests cover much of the
land, testament to Nirian's love for greenery of all kinds. Legends
have it that the name "Gal Sidar" means "Center of Verdance" in the
language bestowed upon the original Summer Men. Seventy percent of the
people live in the fertile central plateau, surrounded by hillsides of
Didi trees, whose leaves can be chewed to produce a calm feeling of
contentment and peace. It is fortunate that these trees do not require
much cultivation, for at peak season not much work at all is done
anywhere in the land.
Gal Sidar's people mostly live in adobe cottages with thick white
stucco walls and usually pink-tiled roofs. Due to an odd soil
composition, the adobe is more green than red, and villages where some
cottages have not had stucco applied resemble nothing less than
enormous fields of poppies when viewed from afar. These cottages have
been copied with varying degrees of success in many western lands,
The law requires all children to be educated for at least five years.
Like all laws in Gal Sidar, it is extremely lax in enforcement. If the
numerous crops require extra work to harvest, rather than allowing
excess burden for any citizens, children will frequently drop out of
school to aid in the harvest. Nonetheless, the general standard of
education is higher than in most Western nations, and thus a
disproportionate number of Nirianite high clergy are native Gal
Gal Sidar's seven provinces are further subdivided into 69 cantons,
with governors appointed by the central council. Most actual political
power resides in the governorships, which are usually filled by
priestesses of Nirian who have not been selected for high office in
the church itself.
At the time of the declaration of the Accord,
Gal Sidar's legislature immediately abolished the army, which has
never been reconstituted. Some minor armed forces have occasionally
been cobbled together, at the instigation of Ghoras or other invaders,
but Gal Sidarans have never been a significant part of any armies of
Three thousand years ago, the Mad Mage Marmaduke, in a futile attempt
to convince the Tzalin of the superiority of Geskelelud, raised a volcano in the central
plateau. The response was surprisingly swift for the Handmaid of
Sloth. Eruptions ceased almost instantly, and within a week the
volcano had become home to an enormous number of new species of
flowers. The riotous combinations of color earned the volcano the name
of Rainbow Mountain, and it is still said that flowers picked from the
Rainbow Mountain are the most potent available to use in healing
salves of all kinds.
Immediately after the death of Ghoras, the Usurper's direct rule
representative quietly slipped into a coma, from which he has not
recovered. Business has continued as usual, although the chaos that
ensued in surrounding countries adversely affected Gal Sidar's grain
exports. The effect was to create an unprecedented food surplus. Much
rotted in storehouses. The major representative of the Church of Anz
in the country, attempting to curry favor and gain converts, obtained
a minor miracle which preserved the grain, long enough for it to be
shipped to other nations which were suffering famine after the
collapse of the Eternal Empire.
Ghoras: Lich-king of the Eternal Empire, who took the throne from the Tzalins a thousand years ago, and set out to
conquer the world. Said to have come from Kingsland, his origins are shrouded in mystery.
(See also the Military History of the Eternal
Glass Desert: In the
northern reaches of the world, the land gets flatter and colder. The
Glass Desert starts as drifting white sand dunes, but eventually the
sand fuses into a featureless plain, slightly rimed with ice. The
Glass River, which runs from the north, is said to be thick and flat
and not waterlike at all until well into the Upper Darnelles.
is a huge glass castle that straddles the Glass River at the border of
Leblin and the Darnelles. Unscalable and impenetrable
save when it chooses to open its doors, Glasscastle is also said to be
the home of the Justiciars.
Gosseg Run: The Gosseg
River, from the Gosseg Swamp to the Endless Sea, is under the dominion of the Gosseg
Run and it's Sifters' Council. Both Rianne and
Pavane, by ancient treaty, are allowed a port
city on the Gosseg so they can use it for trade, but travel on the
river is carefully regulated to avoid interfering with the sifting.
From the waters downstream of the swamp, all number of compounds
popular with alchemists are extracted, including vis of
Aquam, Herbam, and Corporem. Great stretches along the shallows of
the Gosseg are devoted to the farming of small freshwater fish, the
staple of most silter's diet.
Gosseg Swamp: The Gosseg
Swamp has no real organization; fisher folk and hunters and
woodcutters live in it, for the most part in isolation from each
other. Only since the incursion of the Eternal
Empire has it had a governor, who has his hands full even
contacting his alleged subjects. The Gosseg Swamp natives all
appear to be the rough-edged but dependable rustic type, but
third-hand tales speak of dark rituals and eerie hauntings deep in the
Granite Holt: Granite Holt
is the site of the Granite Donjon, the most popular prison in the
world (for those countries that do not choose to simply execute their
criminals). There have been very few escapees, and those who are
released at the end of their sentences, while they do not speak much
of their time in the Donjon, are neither starved nor broken. Even
more odd is that the Donjon does not charge for its task; speculation
is wild about what the prisoners do that makes the Donjon
Great Library of Tzalmir, The
This huge, labyrinthine edifice has been the traditional repository of
written knowledge in the capital since the time of the Tzalin Kings; in fact, the Library's Curator has
occasionally served as an ad-hoc advisor to the Throne, when
circumstances have dictated. Containing manuscripts more than two
millenia old, and comprising almost every known book ever penned in
the Land, the Great Library is a favorite destination of scholars and
sorcerers, biographers and historians. Its staff (comprising the
finest archivists, translators, and scribes in the Land) are bound by
a guild-like honor to their posts, and guard the Library's mysteries
with a hermetic secrecy. Their (prodigious) talents are available to
aid researchers at a price (typically, either knowledge or vis in
trade). As Elboreth Silverbeard (one of the famous Curators of Ghoras' reign) once chuckled, gesturing between a
window and a yellowed vellum page, ``If it is out there, then it is
also in here.''
Greater Mosk: See Mosk
Grey Forest: The Grey
Forest, for all its tranquility, caused Ghoras
no end of aggravation when he conquered it. He ``invited'' the Duke
of the Grey Forest to Tzalin to be bile-wormed; the Duke obligingly showed up,
swallowed the bile worm, and then settled down in Tzalin as a barkeep. A new Duke promptly announced
himself, apparently no relation to the old one, and was accepted by
the populace. This process repeated itself several times more, with
new Dukes announcing themselves seemingly at random (though it was
never the case that two announced themselves at once; there was always
only one), until Ghoras agreed to let the Duke remain without a bile
worm. After that, the Grey Forest was for the most part a model
Gri-ennis: The smiths of
Gri-ennis are widely accepted as the finest weapons crafters in the
Land; each city has its own specialty, and the Siodari Mountains are
heavily mined for their ores. Very few master swordsmen are willing
to use anything but a white iron heron-marked blade from Gri-devlin,
and when Half Morag (a one-armed woman with an eyepatch) won Queen of
Ceczo with but a knife, it was a dagger from
Gri-jotheg. Above and beyond these weapons, though, are the blades of
blood iron, rarer than Kings, for only one smith in a generation can
forge the metal without shattering his tools. The ducal crown of
Gri-ennis stays within several noble bloodlines, but heirs tend to be
chosen by comptence rather than direct descendancy. See also Tests by Fire.
is a country in the eastern realms of the
world. It is a land of many small rivers, most of which run to the
Maw, where they presumably join the Siodari. Most of the Grivlens live
on or near the riverbanks, with some of the wider rivers, particularly
the enormous Folyo River, playing host to enormous floating
marketplaces. One of the least mountainous lands surrounding The Maw, Grivllos' low, forest-covered mountains have
resisted cultivation surprisingly well, thus making many regions
almost completely uninhabited.
The nation gives its name to the Grivlen Macska, a small domesticated
relative of both wolves and tigers, noted for its unswerving devotion
to its master and excellence in the hunt. Macskas have in recent years
gained popularity as hunting pets in many northeastern countries, and
many Grivlens have grown rich breeding them.
The Cloth Guild in Grivllos is one of the most closed-mouthed among
craftsmasters' organizations. The walled city of Elid is open only to
Cloth Guildsmen and their pet mages. Their secrecy allows them to
maintain a monopoly on the fine silks they produce; no one else can
get the hang of it. They export much of the lustrous cloth, but keep
the finest for sale only outside Elid. Elid is also the sole source
for nielloware, engraved silver inlaid with black enamel by yet
another unknown process, whose secret is also guarded vigilantly.
One of the most flagrantly ostentatious uses of Grivlen silks are in
the massive kites used in traditional kite-fighting contests. These
competitions can last up to a month, with elaborate ceremonies,
jousting tournaments, can last up to a month, surrounded by
nigh-incomprehensible games of political oneupmanship, covered with a
thick veneer of occasionally almost excessive politeness.
Grivllos is not so rich in mineral resources as its neighbors,
although the otherwise useless metal antimony, found only in Grivllos'
northwest, has been imported by Greater Mosk in
recent years. It is rumoured that the metal passes on to Lesser Mosk. Grivllos also exports the tjoklat bubuk,
the largest edible fruit in the world, which has a two-inch thick hard
shell around the succulent interior. As it is considered a delicacy
by some very rich gourmands, attempts have been made to grow the
tjoklat bubuk in other countries, notably Rianne, with no success.
The flowing garments and courtly manners found in Grivlen cities lead
some to wonder if a long-ago group of Summer People wandered here to
settle by accident; the more sophisticated will recognize the
intrigues that seethe below the pleasant facade. In addition to silk,
Grivllos seems to produce the most able politicians in the Land. This
skill has allowed it to win territory from both neighboring Regros and Ithyra since the three countries
joined the Eternal Empire.
The people of Grivllos are likely actually descended from a mixture of
early nomadic Men of Valor and refugees from the many wars in
neighboring lands. In particular, after an especially fierce conflict
over two thousand years ago between Mooris and
Mustalukko (which in later centuries split to form Blacklock and the Femlir
Confederation), Grivllos welcomed Moorans by the tens of
The area around Elid has become Grivllos' center of commerce and
learning. No fewer than five major universities reside here, making it
one of the greatest sites of learning south of Hengmir. In particular, the Diplomacy School of
Taksin University is world-renowned for the uniformly brilliant career
diplomats it produces. Less than a third of those who enter graduate
successfully five years later, but those who do have undergone an
intensive period of training in all of the subtleties of the art of
rhetoric, followed by a rigorous apprenticeship to an
Ambassador. These graduates form the heart of the Diplomatic Corps,
whose abilities of persuasion are legendary.
The elaborately decorated temples of Shagras, covered in lacquer and
gold leaf, are considered blasphemous by some more reactionary
priests, but a previous Red Warrior found it necessary to explicitly
pronounce them holy places, worthy of the Mistress of Bloodshed.
The most popular holidays in Grivllos are Shagras' Holy Day and Wisaka
Bucha, which is the anniversary of both the birth and the death exactly
one hundred years later of Grivllos' first king, the Warrior-Priest
Taksin. The year's biggest kite-fighting competition is held during
the month up to Wisaka Bucha, with the final round being held on the
holy day itself. Anak, an alcoholic rice drink, is quite popular in
winter months, and is frequently found flavored with ground nuts of
various kinds for Wisaka Bucha.
Throughout most of Grivllos, the favored mode of dress is quite
formal, in imitation of the elaborate courtly garments of nobility.
Travellers often find themselves the worst-dressed inhabitant of even
a seedy tavern. For those wishing to blend in, acquiring a fondness
for anak is suggested, as is acquisition of a panung, a silk piece of
colorful cloth ingeniously wrapped to resemble baggy trousers of kneee
length. Dark red, sunshine yellow, and blazing purple are recommended
colors for those who are unfamiliar with the meanings and family links
associated with other colors.
Since the fall of Ghoras, noises have been made
by Ithyran and Regran diplomats about returning some of the Grivlen
border provinces to their original countries, but Grivlen diplomats
appear to have masterfully averted tensions without having to concede
any territory. Since the change in Ithyran rule, relations seem much
better. There are even rumours that the young king of Grivllos, the
second most eligible bachelor in the world, might marry the daughter
of an unnamed Ithyran duke.
Hengmir: One of the Ring Kingdoms, founded principally by Grey Men.
Heralds of Tzalin: Founded
under the Tzalin King Radwin, the Heralds have
worked to convey the will of the Tzalin Kings throughout the Land
(when the Tzalin Kings actually had authority), and attempt to mediate
disputes (when they had less authority). The first Master Herald was
Tiron, and subsequent Master Heralds have been his descendants, down
to the last Master Herald, Loran, who was killed by Ghoras. (See
Legend: ``Heralds'' and ``the Last Herald'')
Large, non-human creatures are said to live here, and are very
unfriendly to tourists.
Hidden Lake: The Hidden
Lake is said to be in the Dark Forest, and
many have seen it, but no one seems able to follow any directions back
to it. Exactly where in the forest it is is also unclear.
Hviviveros: Hviviveros, to
all outward appearances, is a completely ordinary monarchy. But while
its eccentricities are not noticed by outsiders, those who move there
eventually realize that it is, in fact, rather odd. A few examples:
every so often, two people are chosen by lot to switch identities,
posessions, profession, friends and relatives --- all of these are
transferred to the new holder of the identity (providentially, those
in crucial and hard-to-learn professions such as ``surgeon'' never end
up chosen). All travellers who pass through Dunsekeg during the
spring rains are carefully shaved and depilated before they can leave.
Travellers from Hviviveros are said to be ``insanely lucky''
and are often thrown out of gambling establishments.
Isles of Verne: The many
islands in the Sea of Storms are some of
the lushest jungles in the world. None of it has been ``civilized''
into croplands, and the warring tribes are primarily hunters, though
there are a number of wild edible plants as well. The Isles were
finally united under Ghoras only a few decades
ago, one of his hardest conquests, and broke apart into feuding
islands only hours after his death. The Isles are a major source of
precious stones for the Land.
Ithyra: One of the original
kingdoms of the Accord, Ithyra is traditionally
ruled by the Red Duke. Proud and touchy, Ithyra had to be conquered
twice by Ghoras's armies. After the second
time, no members of the ancient Red Duke's bloodline survived. The
crest of Ithyra is a red griffin.
Justiciars: An order of
knights who are said to live in Glasscastle, and who travel through the Land
dispensing justice. Their brand of justice was not always in
agreement with Ghoras's, leading to a bounty on
all their heads, and a failed attempt by Ghoras's army to storm
Glasscastle (which proved unstormable). See also
Kerrak: Kerrak has been
fighting the armies of the Eternal Empire since
its invasion 30 years ago, with their forces mostly in the mountains
conducting a medieval guerrilla war against the people now in
possession of their plains. Count Barstow, the civilian governor
appointed by Ghoras, was bile-wormed, allowing
Prince Ekot to return and claim his title (after the death of his
father, King Harad the Stubborn, Ekot refused to take the title of
King until his country was free).
About a sixth of Kerraks inhabitants are nomads, who roam the
grasslands with their herds of livestock. They have their own distinct
dialect (they call it a language), Lubaku --- they are the Lubaks.
1600 years ago, Kerrak was part of Senliat. A
civil war broke out, however, ostensibly over trade relations with
Greater and Lesser Mosk, but mostly motivated by
ethnic differences. At the time, assassination was the principal tool
of politics, without the nasty assocations it has these days. As a
result, the governmental system was specifically constructed to remain
functional even with the sudden loss of large numbers of key people.
This was mostly accomplished by making most government services and
functions subject to a semi-official bribery system, with a consistent
and widely-known price scale.
Chief modern products include various native nut creams and grains,
often baked into a mostly-tolerable substance called karakul, sort of
a cross between peanut brittle and tabouli. Karakul lasts pretty well
for long journeys, even better if stored in a special glass jar made
airtight by a secret process known only to the Glassblowers' Guild in
the capital. The rebel forces probably have thousands of these voliba
jars filled with karakul, but it's OK, since native Kerrakans, except
Lubaks, never get tired of karakul.
Traditional Kerrak dress is brightly colored linen robes, lined with a
velvet-like sheepswool weave, with a sheepskin hood. Bread is usually
unleavened, for some reason which has to do with a very long and
boring myth, that no one from outside the Tzalin Great Library, and the Lubaks, has ever managed to
stay awake until the end of.
Buzkashi is the national sport. It's kind of like polo, in that the
contestants ride horses, and attempt to get the ball into a goal.
However, there are three teams, and the ball is actually a dead calf,
which the players have to grab by a hoof and hurl over a horizontal
goal post about seven feet off the ground.
Kerrak's mountains are mostly pretty poor as mountains go for mining,
except for a few high-production amethyst mines. Also, rumour has it
that the siluzal plant acts as a sort of bizarre aphrodisiac for nonnigs, but that Ghoras,
upon learning of this, instructed Rimve Akkat to begin a systematic
program of extermination of the plant wherever the Empire's control
extended in the land.
Finally, the Kijat tribe seems to have been unfortunately divided in
two by the border between Kerrak and the Arbyt of
Triel, which has irritated them somewhat, although it hasn't been
a pressing concern while the troops of the Empire have been marching
all over the place.
Kingsland: The area between
the Kings of Land, Sea, and Sky spawns more heroes than any other part
of the world. It has been called Kingsland, some say, since before
the first man.
Kranoj: A small country, with a
hereditary monarch who is universally ignored by its inhabitants.
Instead, the country is run by its Thieves' Guild, and more
specifically, the member of the Thieves' Guild who has most recently
stolen the monarch's crown.
Ladysblood River: The
Ladysblood River, which runs from the northen Siodari mountains, runs red and salty on the
eve of battle.
Lake of Stars: The Lake of
Stars nestles in a huge crater high in the Siodari Mountains, and its deep blue reflects a
few stars even at midday. At night, the stars are brighter here
(supposedly) than anywhere else, but the moon never casts a
reflection. The King Under the Sky is said to live at/in/over the
Lake of Stars.
Leblin: According to Leblin
tradition, the throne of the Leblin Kings is in Glasscastle. Unfortunately, the inhabitants of Glasscastle tend not to agree,
and the Leblinese have not been successful in ruling from there in
many generations. Much of Leblin society function is dictated by the
motion of the stones in the Crystal Pavilion, some of which follow the
stars, others the tides, and still others which traverse strange
courses understood only by the Pavilion Keepers. Mages from Leblin
often show a strong affinity for precious stones and other crystals,
and are able to focus more magic through such stones than other
Lesser Mosk: See Mosk
Little Hengmir: At the
beginning of time, Little Hengmir was settled by outcasts from Hengmir and the other northern countries. While
interracial marriages were fairly rare, they were nowhere as disliked
as in the north, until the mixed-race children fled to a more
hospitable climate. Little Hengmir is almost nothing like Hengmir
proper, though the sarcasm in the name has been lost over the
Lost Island: The
only island in the Endless Sea, the Lost
Island is not shown on any navigatory maps, because, well, it's never
there. However, that travellers in the Sea have landed on an island,
in one place or another, is not disputed. Legends claim that some of
these travellers landed on the island, wanderered around on it, and
came out in the Dark Forest.
Loulan: It is said that if you
spend a full day wandering in the Covered Gardens in Miranne, Loulan's
largest city, your life will change entirely. No one has yet
contradicted this. Loulan is governed by a triumvirate, one ruler
descending with a hereditary title, the other two chosen by the first
from among the rest of the populace. A large number of spices are
grown in Loulan, usually one crop per family farm --- they may sell
independently, or, more likely, sell their goods at the great Spice
Market via spiceguilders.
Lower Darnelles, the:
Originally colonized by residents of the Upper Darnelles who were denied
citizenship, the government of the Lower Darnelles seems at times to
be a reaction to its northern counterpart; it is ruled by an
aristocracy that regulates trade and oversees the mining of the silver
in its hills. The residents of the Lower Darnelles are masters of
barter and trade, and Silver Darnelle is one of the most common coins for international trade, second only to the
Many-Named, the: The upward
god, god of creation. This god has an infinite number of names
(including Ae and Tulan) and is genders at once. A priest of the
Many-Named will typically pick one of the god's names to use. Souls
descend from the domain of Tulan into the bodies of the newborn. The
creator god is portrayed in many layers of colored veils, with empty
hands outstretched as if offering a gift.
Maw, the: The Maw is a
deep chasm that the Siodari River enters, and
flows out lessened. Strange things are sometimes found floating in it
dowstream of the Maw.
subjects tend to follow the teaching ofthe Book of Modos, which
specifies customs and traditions in excruciating detail. Jobs are
hereditary, and one must be careful to plan the appropriate number of
children (six jewelers in a small town are just not necessary), though
professions are allowed to change via marriage into another
Mooris: Mooris was originally
settled by Grey Men who intended to bring the rule of Anz to the south. They didn't last very long, and
were mostly killed by Men of Valor, but the ruling system remains a
jumble of order, chaos, and swordfighting. The kingdom is governed by
the Pentark, the five best fighters in the country (chosen in a
tournament whenever a Pentakat dies, or calls for a new tournament).
Any Pentakat can make a law, simply by proclaiming it. This includes
overruling another Pentakat's decree. Whenever this gets out of hand
(two members of the Pentark arguing via decree every ten minutes), it
is settled by a sword duel, which usually results in a new tournament
being necessary. The capital of Mooris is Bivik, an interesting story
in itself (see Bivik).
Morn Valan: Morn Valan is
ruled by a line of Kings, who are always wedded to a blind Visionbound
commoner. About one in a hundred among the Morn Valanese are Touched
in this way, their outer sight destroyed and subsumed by a clear inner
sight. It is said that only the most pure of heart can face the
opalescent gaze of a Visionbound seer without turmoil. Years ago,
when the Morn Valanese were conquered and the King and Queen summoned
to Tzalmir for bile-worming,
Ghoras slew the Queen on the spot. Subsequent
Queens have not been bile-wormed, and thus the current Queen survives.
However, the Queens do not take much part in actual governance of the
kingdom, instead preferring to advise the Kings.
Mosk, Greater and Lesser: Those
who live in Lesser Mosk do not believe in the existence of gods, nor
in magic, and they maintain that most of the world is mad. They
refuse contact with all but Greater Mosk (who have learned not to
taunt the Lesser Moskians by working magic in front of them). Greater
Moskians are for the most part solid citizens, farmers and minor
craftsmen, but there is a sizable minority who make it their business
to trade with Lesser Mosk. Such trade is highly profitable, as Lesser
Mosk is home to some of the finest alchemists and designers (they
invented the Repeating Catapult used with such great success by
Ghoras's later armies). In addition, the Moskian traders speak in
hushed whispers of a man named Bartholomew who has ``captured the
lightnings.'' While Greater Moskians are ususally quite pleasant (and
fiercely protective of their Lesser cousins), Lesser Moskians tend to
project an air of amused condescension.
Mounch: The King under
the Land has been said to take a special interest in the people of
Mounch, and nearly all of them seem to be Touched in some animal-like
manner (werewolvery, cat-like darksight, and so on). Mounch is one of
the few countries that produces horses that are more highly valued
than those from Pavane; while not as swift as
the Pavanese racers, a Mounch steed can climb a mountain, subsist on
twigs and gravel, and then fight off a pack of wolves while fully
loaded. So the horse traders say, at least. Mounch animals of all
types tend to be strong and fine, and many a farmer has saved his
earnings to buy a stud bull or fine-wooled sheep from Mounch to breed
into his herd.
Mountains of Kraerkorag:
The southern mountains are full of volcanoes, geysers, and the more
ordinary impassible cliffs and chasms. There are said to be dragons,
and worse, inhabiting the mountains, and the legendary Necromancer is rumored to have constructed his
dark castle somewhere in the area. The Upside-Down Mountain is said
to be far to the south, but most travellers who live to see it and
return are so touched by the hand of the Mad
God that they cannot adequately explain what they're talking
Mudwallow: The natives of
Mudwallow have never been able to make a go of farming their
mudplains. A number of Herbam mages have attempted to create a crop
that will flourish, but so far they have been unsuccessful. The
Mudwallans do a brisk business in pottery and other forms of ceramic,
however, and manage to support themselves somehow while importing
food. In addition to the workmanlike ceramic vessels they produce in
vast quantities, they make a delicate and expensive white china, often
hand-painted, that is seen on the tables of kings.
Necromancer, the: A being
said to be part dead and part alive, that makes his lair in the Kraerkorag Mountains and preys on the souls of
travellers. While most avoid his dark castle, those both courageous
and desparate are said to consult him, for he is said to be able to
speak with the dead, or even raise them, for a price.
Neffik: One of the Ring Kingdoms, founded principally by Touched Men.
Its capital is Dern.
Ngth: A rather chaotically ruled
country, Ngth is divided into seven dioceses. Each god has a sect of
Church Knights, who are schooled in types of magic appropriate to
their god, and each diocese is governed by the Knights of one of the
six gods. The seventh diocese, which also handles matters between
other dioceses, is run by one of the sects of Knights; which one is a
source of endless politicking and scheming on the part of the Knights.
It is said that Ngth allows the gods to play the Game of Houses to
their heart's content, so that they meddle less in the
politics of the Land.
Nirian: The goddess to the west
is Nirian, goddess of healing, peace, love, and family values. Also
known as the White Lady, Mother of Mothers, the Maiden of Blossoms,
and the One with Still Hands. Nirian is often told as wielding an
unbreakable blackoak staff.
Nonnigs: The short answer is
that they're a cross between a wirra and a trump. The long answer is
that they're a small psychic furry animal, vaguely hamster-shaped.
They come in three different sizes (and sexes) --- worker, drone, and
queen. Worker nonnigs allow you to talk to other people with nonnigs.
Drone nonnigs also allow you to open gates to a place where a queen
nonnig is. Queen nonnigs also allow you to open gates to a place where
either a drone or queen nonnig is. There are publically kept queen
nonnigs in many important places, which can be used for a fee. Town
square in Tzalmir is one such place. Nobody has
had any success in getting nonnigs to breed in captivity, giving the
Nonnig Forest trappers a monopoly. Given that
monopoly, it's surprising that they aren't more expensive...
Nonnig Forest: Nonnigs
live here. So do Nonnig Trappers. Nonnigs don't seem to breed in
captivity, and the Nonnig Trappers are fiercely independent (and
didn't quite get invaded by Ghoras yet), and so
the world is dependent on them if they want nonnigs.
Olvidos: A legendary Animal
Mage said to live in Dalos, who, stories say, has
failed to die by, every fifty years or so, transforming himself into a
Phoenix and rebirthing himself in fire.
Pastoral Fields: The
land up here is amazingly green, and would be perfect for farming if
it wasn't so, well, quiet and far away from everything. Various
people have tried to colonize it, but they just seem to vanish,
leaving only the trees and grasses behind...
Pavane: One of the original
Kingdoms of the Accord, Pavane is ruled by the
Rider. The Rider is chosen in by a horse race; whenever the winning
horse of the ruling Rider dies, a new Rider is chosen. Often the same
Rider will rule more than once, especially if his house is a good
breeder of horses. When Ghoras took Pavane,
both the Rider and the horse were bile-wormed, and
the tradition has continued. The horses bred in Pavane are finer than
those anywhere else, and are much in demand.
Pdallar: Similar to Cliffsfall in many ways, Pdallar is not a very
fertile country. It is rich in magical talent, though, and some of
the most fearsome battle mages come from Pdallar.
Pirtos: One of the Ring Kingdoms, founded principally by High Men.
Plains of Volan: The Plains of
Volan are a fairly pure stock of Summer Folk, and their Royal Family
is to all appearances completely purebred Summer. The Plains are the
pre-eminent food growers for the Land, not in quantity but in quality.
The four-star restaurants tend to make sure that they shop for produce
at the Volanese markets. The Midsummer Festival of Nirian is a rival for ``best party'' with Rianne's
Harvest Festival (though everyone admits that New Year's in Tzalmir is
second best). The borders of the Plains were originally thick with
poppies, the dust of which was sopoforic to all but true Summer Folk.
A plague of locusts was finally required to destroy the poppies when
Ghoras invaded, and the fields sown with salt,
but it is rumoured that the Royal Family still has a hidden canyon
somewhere in which poppies grow. The Silver Lake, central in the
Plains, is said to have the property to heal broken hearts.
Regros: Regros has come under
more scrutiny in the past few days, when its Duke mysteriously did
not die with the rest of the bile-wormed
vassals, than in all its existence before that. As a vassal state,
Regros was never troublesome enough to cause its Duke to be replaced
by a Tyrant appointee, but irked the lich king enough to cede much of
its land to Grivllos.
Rhi Miles: Rhi Miles suffered
its imperial yoke far more calmly (some might say it was biding its
time) than its neighbor to the north, Ald
Miles and kept its ruling family, the current survivor of which is
a fourteen-year-old princess.
Rianne: Rianne is known across
the length of the Land for its grapes, wines, and brandies. Nearly
half the population works in the grape fields, carefully tending the
vines. Rianne was the fastest of the kingdoms in the Land to
surrender to Ghoras; the VineLord made a touching speech about how
though the people of Rianne would gladly shed all their blood in
defense of their homeland, they would not be able to defend their
precious grapes from being trampled to mud by the boots of soldiers,
and the blood of their vines was more dear to them than their own.
The Harvest Festival, when the best vintages are celebrated, is
regarded by many as the most glorious party anywhere, with the New
Year's celebration in Tzalmir a distant second.
Ring Kindgoms: The Ring Kingdoms
were the first conquered by Ghoras, and were all
put directly under the Tyrant, instead of regents. Each of the Ring
Kingdoms was also founded principally by one race of Men, though
things do not remain so pure in the present day.
(See Legend: ``The First Men'')
Ro Palis: The bardy of Ro
Palis is noted for its musicians and instrument makers. The musical
instruments of Ro Palis are beautiful and finely tuned (harps made
there are said to never need tuning), and moreover, no two are alike.
Unlike Asaen music, which tends to be beautiful
and ordered, Ro Palisian music is unstructured and ever-changing, with
emphasis on improvisation and uniqueness rather than learning of
established songs. The Bard of Ro Palis (as their ruler is called) is
chosen at the great musical competition held every eleventh year in
the capital, Tigain.
Sabat: Sabat is the closet thing
the Land has to a democracy. There is a revolution on the order of
every five years (sometimes the revolution is postponed a year if the
weather is particularly bad and everyone is needed in the fields), at
which the peasants will shout for the new Duke. Sometimes it's the
old Duke, sometimes it's someone new. Luckily, the Sabat peasants
have not yet discovered sound bites. Sabat is highly religious, and
its defenses in the invasion focused around priests of Nirian, whose deaths caused their slayers to lose
the love and respect of their soldiers, with the results of some
infighting among the invading armies.
Sea of Storms: The Sea of
Storms is, not surprisingly, almost always stormy. Despite that, it
teems with life --- fishes of every description, as well as merfolk,
sea monsters, and even more mysterious creatures. There is said to be
a city grander than even Tzalmir, sunk deep
below the southernmost Isles of Verne,
where the King Under the Sea rules.
Senliat: Senliat is famous for
its active volcanoes, to which they sacrifice annually (on a day
selected randomly), in Geskekelud's name.
No one within the boundaries of the country is exempt from the
lottery, and travellers are obliged to leave their names with a
lottery official when they enter the country (this is about the extent
of customs, but they take it very seriously). 150 years ago, Ghoras's bile-wormed governor was chosen by lot
to be sacrificed, and was given to the volcano before he could escape.
Ghoras responded to this by forbidding the practice, and supressing
the cult with as many deaths as he could manage. When several
volcanoes erupted, rather spectacularly, within two years, the cult
began to, more secretly, return, and Ghoras was thought to have turned
a blind eye to its practices as long as it didn't sacrifice anyone
else of his.
Shagras: The Red Lady
of War is the goddess to the east, and Her dominion includes (in
addition to war), ambition, power, politics, strife, and chivalry.
Shagras is said to carry the massive double-bladed axe Conflict, that
no other of the gods can lift.
Siodari Mountains: The King
Under the Land is said to live ina cavern beneath the northern Siodari
Siodari River: This river runs
from the Lake of the Stars in the Siodari
Mountains northwards, through the Maw, then joining
up with the Ladysblood River before reaching
the Sea of Storms.
Sioden: Home of the Ammon
Sages, some of the most accomplished scholars and philosophers in the
Land. It is said, if you want the answer to a question, if the answer
was ever known by anyone, go to the Great
Library; if not, go to Sioden. Sioden's government was originally
a constitutional monarcy with an independent judicial branch --- all
this set up in an elegant three-page constitution written by some of
the more politically inclined Ammons. When Sioden was conquered by
the Eternal Empire, the provision for rewrite
was taken, and a new constitution offered to the appointed governor
(Sioden's Duke offered to step down --- when his offer was declined,
he simply vanished, with all his kin) --- it gave the governor
sweeping powers, but allowed him to delegate the ``little details.''
As it turned out, control of the little details caused everyday life
in Sioden to change little.
Soren: Long ago, Soren was
something between a peaceable anarchy and a communist country. No one
was in charge, and disputes were settled at town meetings (or, in
larger cases, at meetings with the populace of all the towns involved)
in which everyone politely argued until a decision had been reached.
They were conquered fairly trivially by Ghoras's
army, but actually ruling the country took some work. ``I am
your new governor. These six carts of wheat are designated as
Imperial taxes, and should be sent to Tzalmir.'' ``I'm sorry, sir,
those two carts are for Ulbuque, and the other four are part of what's
bound for the trade with Sabat. If you'd like to suggest other uses,
our town meeting is Wednesday after next. Of course, they'll be gone
by then, so perhaps you should think farther in advance next time.''
The governor eventually solved this sort of problem by executing
several of the children (randomly chosen) in the town in question.
Next time someone disobeyed a directive, he said, there would be twice
as many executions, and the deaths would continue to mount until
someone obeyed him. Soren knuckled under quickly, though there were
still occasional misunderstandings that were punished bloodily.
However, the first governor ended up sinking into a black depression
and killed himself a few years after taking over the post, and
subsequent governors haven't lasted much longer. It takes a lot to
induce someone that far west to begin hating, but once they do, the
result is insidious and terrible. Soren is now full of lethargic,
hollow-eyed people, and no priest of Nirian will
set foot in Soren voluntarily --- they say the country is haunted.
Syndic: The government of
Syndic has always been nigh-incomprehensible to outsiders. It
involves a system of chits given out by the Syndeche (the ruling body)
in return for taxes paid, which are traded and aggregated in blocs by
syndechine leaders. These leaders negotiate with the Syndeche for
legal favors, which are then redistributed among the original chit
donors. Since their conquest by Ghoras, the
relation of the chits to the decisions of the Syndeche has grown even
more unclear, but Ghoras never found fault with the Syndeche's
Tavat Mien: Everyone in
Tavat Mien has a carefully defined place in the hexnary tree of its
society (each citizen has six subordinates). Much of what was once
pastureland in Tavat Mien has been given over to perfectly flat fields
of tholl tiles. Tholl tiles, part magic artifact and part miracle, is
a perfectly white, porous flat hexagon. When placed on flat and
fertile ground, and provided with sun and water, tholl tile ``grows''
one of a number of products. First tholl is a food substance, smiliar
in taste and texture to tofu. Second tholl is a flaxlike web, used to
make cloth. Third tholl is a stiff styrofoam-like material, and so
Tests by Fire: Originally,
the Tests were a single contest: the finest blade produced in Gri-ennis that year was given a chance to land
one blow to kill the wearer of the finest armor made in the Vath that year. Usually fought by apprentices
who had shown an aptitude for fighting (or dodging), the subsequent
work of a winner is said to be lucky. Over the years, other contests
between Gri-ennians and Vathes have gone in and out of vogue, and
other guilds in other countries have been having competitions as well
(the brandy tastings between Rhianne and the
Plains of Volan are a popular one). Only the
Final Duel, however, has much chance of producing a casualty. Any
number of feints and postures are allowed by the blade wielder, but
the first contact with the armor is ruled the deciding one.
Deliberate flinging oneself at the blade when it's not attacking to
count it as a ``hit,'' as well as other unsportsmanlike conduct, is
considered the utmost in dishonor, and those who claim a win with such
underhanded means are usually challenged to a number of
``celebratory'' duels afterwards, in which they suffer tragic
Thearos: Thearos, basically,
is boring. They're farmers, and other workers of minor stature. They
don't fight, they don't do magic, they don't politic. They are just
straight forward ordinary reliable farmers, and they have no interest
in anything going on outside of their boundaries. Everything that
comes out of Thearos is of good quality, but nothing is at all
exceptional. Thearos is often said to have the second-best of much,
but the best of nothing.
Thearos was originally settled, oddly enough, by a community of Summer
People who became separated from the people going to settle in the
area that became Sabat. They were joined, legend
has it, by seventy-two Grey Men who were teleported in from Misambokia. It was said that they were kicked
out for always forgetting the rules. Today, the royal family of
Thearos is one of the only major lines of nobility in the world to pay
major homage to all the gods, holding none favored above the others.
The king has little to no influence over daily rule in Thearos, a
tradition that has its origins in a lengthy period of Thearos history
during which the royal line was seriously inbred. Instead, the Council
of Magistrates, itself a hereditary body, consisting of from fifteen
to twenty-five of the heads of once-major merchant families, forms the
operational part of the executive government. The Supreme Court of
Justice, entirely separate from the Council, was a mostly ineffectual
attempt by King Reardon in 2722 to counter the power of the Council.
However, Ghoras, for reasons known only to him,
chose to bile worm the Court of Justice,
perhaps on the theory that it saved bile worms, there being only five
Justices, and had the Council castrated, which, by a quirk of Thearan
law, made them ineligible for service. No one ever got around to
re-filling the vacant seats on the Council.
There is virtually no magery of any kind in Thearos any more, but
several hundred years ago, for unknown reasons, Yggdrz the
Magnificent, one of the most accomplished practitioners of Corporem
magic in history, established the University of Nolose in Thearos
Thearos homes look very much like the adobe homes prevalent in the
areas around Gosseg Run and Mudwallow, except that the soil in Thearos is
quite red, and thus so are the houses. A seemingly ordinary practice
of nailing flowers to the outside walls of homes in which unwed girls
dwell has taken on special significance over time.
Time: There have been four
principal ways of reckoning dates in the history of the Land. The
first, God Time (GT), dates from the creation of the world. Priests
of the Creator of Time (the Unnamed God) have
specified that this occurred four thousand, seventeen years ago. The
second reckoning, True Year (ty), dates from the founding of the Tzalin line. The third reckoning, Acadian Year
(ay), dates from the formation of the Accord,
and is generally considered obsolete except by priests of Nirian and
far western countries. The fourth, Empire Year (ey), became standard
a few centuries into the Eternal Empire.
Tzalin: The center of the world
is located at Tzalmir, capital of Tzalin. Tzalmir has also been the
site from which the Tzalin Kings ruled, until the last of the line,
King Rashir and Prince Thamil, were slain by Ghoras. Legend says that the Tzalin line was
cursed by the gods to rule in Tzalin until they chose one god to be
pre-eminent over the others. Exactly what would happen at this time
was unclear, and what happened to this prophecy now that the Tzalins
are no more is also unclear.
(See Legend: ``The First Men'', or ``Fodor's Tzalmir'')
Unnamed, The: The god of
death, destruction, darkness, and endings, has Its throne far beneath
the center of the world. It has no name and no gender. All souls,
after death, eventually make their way to the God of the Last Doorway,
and never return. The God of Death is often pictured with eyes of
fire and armor of bone and shadow, and with empty hands outstretched
as if to receive payment.
Upper Darnelles, the
The Matriarchy of the Upper Darnelles is a model Anzian society.
Their rigid four-tiered social hierarchy is modelled after the sexes
of the nonnigs that live there. Citizenship is difficult to earn and
a lifelong commitment. Although the Matriarch wields absolute power,
very rarely is it exercised, as most aspects of society are
self-governing, each citizen looking out for the welfare of the
Darnelles as a whole. Even justice and law enforcement are largely
handled by the general populace; citizens often prefer to confess
their crimes to peers than face the harsh punishments of the state.
The Upper Darnelles mints no currency, but occaisionally accepts
Tzalin coins in trade from outsiders.
Vath, the: In direct opposition,
even rivalry, with its neighboring Gri-ennis,
the finest armorers are to be found in the Vath. However, while the
bladesmiths continue to refine and perfect millenia-old techniques,
the Vath's armorsmiths are continually changing their methods, trying
out everything from articulated plate armor to highly laquered Tzunis
shell to enchanted silks from Grivvlos. The
sole survivor of Ghoras's destruction of the
Vath's palace, sixteen-year-old Rinasa commited ritual suicide not
long after returning from her bile-worming
appointment in Tzalmir, and a few percent of
her subjects followed her, but the rest have behaved themselves. See
also Tests by Fire.
Vendilon: During the Wars of
Ambition, Vendilon was invaded, but not (at first) by any of its
neighbors. An army came from ``over the sea'' and killed its ruling
family and a large part of the populace. Then Ngth, Belid, and the Isles of Verne (which aren't that close by,
but never miss a good war) all invaded, and only winter and the fact
that they were all fighting each other saved the Vendilese from
annihilation. When spring came, and the armies returned, they found
that in their absence, the Vendilese had called for a miracle from the
Creator of Time, and a hundred years had passed
inside their borders. They were again populated, and had trained
their people to fight, and easily repelled the (somewhat taken aback)
invaders. Every seven years after, and even to this day, a group of a
hundred young men and women (volunteers, then randomly chosen) are
offered to the Withering Lord and they all age seventy years.
Vendilon has remained rather xenophobic, and chafed under Ghoras's rule.
Xaban: The best shipbuilders on
the Sea of Storms, the people of Xaban are
equally at home on the sea, the river, or the land. Most of the mass
trade along the coast is via Xabanese trader ships, and they are
nearly the only ones to venture to the Isles of Verne. Their
flat-bottomed vessels also work up the Siodari
to Regros and Sioden, and
centuries ago, Jarl Hekvold is said to have taken his
Foamskimmer through the Maw all the way to the
Lake of Stars. On the way home, he stopped
to trade with the ghosts and demons of the Maw, and his ship is said
to float in the underground caverns to this day.
Zothlin: One of the poorer
kingdoms in the Land in resources, Zothlin's craftsmen make up for it
with their Art. Their woodworkers do a brisk trade with the Grey Forest, as well as the Gosseg Swamp for its odd floating trees, and a
few precious pieces are made from a blue-black wood said to be found
only in the Dark Forest. Twenty years ago,
Zothlin was ruled by a corrupt Council of Lords, under Ghoras, when the Council was purged in a swift
strike by the then-unkown Justiciars. A
Baron was set in their place, and he hurriedly proceeded to Tzalmir to
be bile-wormed before he could be summoned.
Ghoras's initial reaction was surprisingly mild, as it soon became
evident how much of the Imperial taxes the Council had been pocketing.
Nevertheless, such uprisings were not encouraged, and Zothlin's
Imperial taxes have been nearly crushing since then. In addition,
when the Justiciars declined Ghoras's invitation to Tzalmir, they
propmtly were given prices on their heads. Few have been