Encyclopaedia Tzalmirica

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 of Aravy
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 Hengmir.
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 responsibility.
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.
Blacklock: Blacklock 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 the sky.)
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 answer.
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 image.
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 AllFather.
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 other half.
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 Bard''
Dvelinhurzt: Dvelinhurzt 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 where.
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 informative.
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, notably Thearos.

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 Sidarans.

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 conquest.

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 Empire)
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.
Glasscastle: Glasscastle 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 swamp.
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 profitable.
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 subject.
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.
Grivllos 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 thousands.

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'')
Hgrolthrayan Hills: 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 Zothlin.
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 similar mages.
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 millenia.
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 Gold Talent.
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.
Misambokia: Misambokia's 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 family.
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 about.
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 Mountains.
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 behavior.
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 on.
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 accidents.
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 City. 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 collected.