Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Ages of Lingusia: Gazetteer of the Empire Era

 See The Start of this Sequence for a maps that relate to the Gazetteer

The Hyrkanian Empire
   Hyrkania in this era is a prosperous empire, stretching from the coastlands of the Inner Sea in the south up to the Baldaric in the north. Its northernmost province belongs to the polities of Enarrion and Andanir, and its southernmost province can be found in the Sendral Basin, adjoining Caratea. If Hyrkania was in an expansionist mood the empire is regarded as strong enough to easily push forth in to Caratea and annex that divided land if it so desired, but the current empreror is not interested in advancing the empire’s borders.
   Hyrkania has colonies throughout the Amech Jungles in the east, along the path of the Great Old Road, which stretches from the western regions of Octzel all the way to the gates of the fabled city of Zued. The empire’s largesse allows for regular maintenance of this important overland trade route and the many fortresses and keeps that protect it. Beyond the dominion of the Great Old Road lie many mysteries and while jungle kingdoms such as Belladas are allied with Hyrkania, most of the other tribes and powers in the vast domain of Amech are hostile or unknown in this era.
   Hyrkania’s political ambitions are direct and a major point of unity in the empire, but its social and religious division is more insidious. In this era there is not sanctioned religion save for that of Naril, the Sun Lord, but all other religions are tolerated and often encouraged. Much like Rome, Hyrkania’s openness to religious practices is a strength and weakness at the same time. As the rumors of chaos gods rising have spread, cults have begun to manifest, and certain ancient secret societies such as the Cult of the Red Robes are rising again to lay claim to some of the power that the chaos gods offer. These cultists and agents are sympathetic to the distant might of Xauraun Vestillios, who has risen to power in the southlands of Galonia under the title of Xarion, pharaoh of all Kings.
   Hyrkania’s great desert at the heart of the empire reminds an ancient blight, but in this era many young and aspiring nobles have been given leave to claim ownership of the harsh lands in that region and to see if they can be tamed or even made arable. Small castles and entrepreneurial citizens of the empire have sprung up in places such as Kalorik, seeking to make the region their own.
   Hyrkania holds tense relations right now with Octzel, as the two rivals have grown in power and are now vying for control of the major coastal trade routes, with Hyrkania causing trouble for Octzel and its efforts at trade with the northern kingdoms, and Octzel in turn obstructing Hyrkanian efforts at trading along the southern coast; only trade on the Inner Sea remains open to both, thanks to the efforts of the small but diligent free navy of Eastonia.

Hyrkanian Sites of Interest

  The capitol of Hyrkania, site of the legendary Emerald Palace, and seat of power for the great empire. Hyrkan’ien is the largest port along the Baldaric Coast outside of Octzel proper, and is the route along which most ships stop before heading to and from the north Baldaric to Zued, Hettanar and Autrengard beyond.
   Hyrkan’ien is noted for several features: it has a very large population (close to 200,000) making it the largest city in the Middle Kingdoms and possibly all of Lingusia. It is also renowned for one of the great wonders of the world, the Emerald Palace, which appears to be a large central dome spanning over one hundred meters in width and resting in the center of the walled palace grounds proper. The Emerald Dome is described as a singular monument of power, gifted to the loyal followers of the gods of Corti’Zahn for their service in the legendary War of the Gods two thousand years ago. The symbolism behind the Emerald Dome is indisputable; it is widely believed that the Empire shall not fall so long as the dome remains standing.
   Hyrkan’ien is also the home port for the Baldaric Fleet, the largest single naval fleet in the world. It has shattered any and all forces that mounted against it, historically, and is said to have an almost unblemished record of success.

Slithotendan Mountains
   The Slithotendans are better known for the translation of their name from the Old Tongue as “The Mountains of Madness.” The mountains were said to have been the location from which an endless horde of demons sprung in the tales of the War of the Gods. It is also the range where for thousand so fyears traditionally all kings and emperors of Hyrkania and its predecessors have been buried, in deep and elaborate tombs. There is a great region along the westward expanse of the mountains called the Tomblands, said to he haunted and contain hundreds of deadly tombs and crypts of forgotten kings, emperors, and the bodies of fallen gods. The high peaks of the mountains are rife with strange monsters, and the deeps are dominated by dark dwarves, mind flayers and worse. There are few settlements in this region, even though it lies at the heart of the Empire; men are prone to go mad, it is said, and only the dark dwarves seem able to sustain themselves in the mountains. The most well-known dwarvish town within the mountains is called Ironwell, and the dark dwarves of this small fortress-town have learned to turn a tidy profit with the Hyrkanian merchants seeking the rare ores of the vast range.

The Hyrkanian Deserts
   This vast stretch of land contains the great desert, where it is said the heart of the Fertile Empire once rested, and where the ruins of the fabled city of the gods could be found, called Corti’Zahn. Now the entire region is an uninhabitable deadland of rolling sand dunes and scrub, and only the underworld kingdoms beneath can find tolerable living conditions.
   The Hyrkanian Desert contains entry points to several underworld civilizations, including Dahik, domain of the dark elf ashtarth; Hazer’phennis, a vast pit in which the city of the serpent men can be found, and to which pilgrims of Set travel to see the greatest temple extant to their dark god of power and deceit; the caverns of the kattachi scorpion men and their massive queen; and the enigmatic ruins of Corti’Zahn itself, where haunted memories of fallen gods taint the land, and mortals can see wondrous sites such as floating towers and objects of unfathomable power, so great that merely looking upon those objects can burn a man’s soul out.

   A frontier castle and town attempting to tame the vast region of the Hyrkanian Desert. Here the hyrkanian nobleman Aran Daskar rules, patrolling against ashtarth and kattachi threats. Kalorik has struggled over the decades since its founding, dealing with dark elf, scorpion man and orc raids from the underworld, but it has held strong despite the many denizens that would see it destroyed.

   This northern city port is located near the southern tips of the great swamplands known as the Marshes of the Mists. Eor’nin is terrorized almost annually by marauding blue dragons that dwell in the nearby mountains.

   This northern port is a major center of trade and the usual point at which ships leave off and overland caravans to the inland city state of Karan begin their journey. Yllmar is ostensibly ruled by a king-regent, who retains his title, though this is purely a formality, as the city has been a provincial capital of the Empire for centuries now. The current ruler of Yllmar is Aldun Draporos, a man whose mother is Hettanari, taken as a bride in a raid by his father. This gives him some unusual leverage in dealing with the northern barbarians that are a constant threat through raids and warfare.

   This coastal city is ruled by house Ternakus, but is secretly dominated by several other houses, including Strallikus. Kymir is a major supporter of the throne, or so it seems. Secretly, worship of the chaos gods has been rampant for centuries in Kymir, which was a staunch supporter of Vestillios in centuries past.

   This inland city is a major hub of overland trade and guards the main pass through the eastern Slithotendan Mountains. It is the only city through which passage to the Tomblands can be found in the mountains proper. House Ulduan presently rules in this region. The second largest temple to Naril can be found here; the largest gladiatorial arenas can also be found here, where the sport has become a major event.

The Inner Sea Region
   The Inner Sea was once ruled by the savage Sea Kings, or so the legends say, until the Hyrkanian Empire overtook this lawless land and tamed it. The southern coast is, in fact, dominated by a vast sylvan wilderness known as the Silverwood, from which the enigmatic Silver Elves harken. The remaining cities in this region have all been absorbed long ago by Hyrkania, though two cities remain independent, Malas and Eastonia.

   This Freeport along the coast of the Inner Sea still pays a tax and provides troops for conscription to the Hyrkanian armies, in exchange for an unusual degree of freedom and self-rule. The agreement is centuries old, and goes back to the time of the old Sea Kings, when treaties were established long ago to insure they remained independent as Hyrkania expanded southward. Hyrendan and Blackholm were also freeports then, as is Eastonia now.

   This western city along the Inner Sea is a small but major power, with a ruleship formed by a merchant council that decides on matters of state and defense with an eye to insuring that trade and commerce remain uninterrupted across the Inner Sea and up the Nyralith River Delta, and southward to the Iron Sea.

Sylvias and the Silverwood
   Sylvias is at its apex of power in this era. The Silver Elves rule under the benevolent dictatorship of the mortal Summer King, called Pheranaxos, who has a close friendship with Emperor Usyllyses; they both adventured together in their youth and later campaigned together on two occasions, including the small but distinct war against the attempted rise of the Hotepsalan sorcerers in the east, who tried to sieze control of the trade routes across the continent, and the five-year skirmish-based war against Dahik and their forces after from 1,929-1,934 aw when the sorceress Erenaska rose to power in the subterranean kingdom and sought to raise an army of orcs and undead to sieze power on the surface world.

   In this time, the chief southern port city is Thylanalien, a beautiful elvish city and home of the enigmatic Protectorate, a secret society which has operated for thousands of years, comprised of elvish do-gooders who seek to right wrongs and direct the path of history to insure the success of the forces of order.

   The capitol of the elves in this era is Thystivianis, deep within the Silverwood, a vast and ancient city of white marble that appears to have organically grown up around the great World Tree, from which all life is said to have once sprung. The Tree of Life is said to be the living embodiment of the god Niras, lord of nature.

Baal’Hyriath, Modra and the Black Marshes
   The main threat to Sylvias in this era is the ancient underworld kingdom of Baal’Hyriath, located beneath the western swamps in a network of partially flooded caverns that extend all the way to the Cimeran Mountains. Baal’Hyriath is a major subterranean threat in this region, as is Modra, a dark city of ashtarth, orcs and other monstrous humanoids. It is from these two cities that the malevolent ashtarth house Skorios rules from, with an army of goblin thralls culled from the Black Marshes. In later centuries Baal’Hyriath will become powerful and rise to the surface after the rise of Sherzhade, but in this era they are secluded domains hidden from the surface world, biding their time for revenge and conquest.

   Northeast of Sylvias is the dense mountain range and secluded vale of Eflin, where the wood elves of Lingusia dwell in an idyllic lifestyle, close to a major nexus of power between the mortal plane and the Weirding. Eflin is dominated by small, organic woodland communities of contented sylvan elders, in contrast with the traditionally restless younger wood elves who suffer from terminal wanderlust that can be found in human lands.

The Kingdom of Octzel
   Octzel was founded by religious dissidents who had been shipped to a remote wilderness penal colony early in Hyrkania’s history, during a period of political and religious strife that was brought about during the last great rise in the worship of the chaos gods. Its founder, Octzel Venn’Ta was a dreamer and something of a madman, but he was a dillgient priest of the goddess Enki, and through his conviction and faith turned Octzel in to an independent Freeport. In later years Octzel would assert it its independence and conquered the southern wilderness known as Halale and Mitra’s Woods beyond, turning the western expanses of the region into the second greatest power of the Middle Kingdoms.
   In this era Octzel is divided in to eighteen provinces, each ruled by a regional duke, called a “gonn” in the Middle Tongue. Not all provinces are made equal, and some are largely uninhabited tracks of land while others are veritable coastal empires unto themselves. All of the dukes assemble to form a council which consults with the king to aid him in decision making processes. The current king of Octzel is  Octozoron Tazell-Dancaros II (he was known as Tazell-Ront until his first wife died in childbirth), a man of modest ambition whose only real talent is keeping the gonns happy and not rebelling or engaging in civil war with one another, a common pastime among Octzellans (when political channels disintegrate, it is very common to march on one’s neighbor in a show of force).
   In this era, Valance is the southern province out of Pheralin, and Halale is the central province in the vast open wilderness between Lancaster and Galent; neither province has risen to the status of separate powers that they later would in the future, nor taken on identities as separate nations; in the Empire Era Octzel’s eighteen provinces are strongly united and a nationalistic pride keeps the people strongly united; it is actually the single most peaceful period in Octzel’s long history, despite its tense relations with Hyrkania and the constant threat of chaos armies from Mitra’s Forest.

The Southlands of the Middle Kingdoms
   Starting south of Octzel, running along a length strip of land walled in by mountains can be found the great corridor that is dominated by three four minor powers, including Eastonia (part of the Inner Sea region to the east and discussed under the section on Hyrkania), Ocentash (a desert corridor stretching between the Hexerei and Cimeran mountain ranges), Jhakn (pronounced Sha-kan, a coastal civilization that has adopted a distinctly Greek form of democratic rule), and in the south the vast domain of Galvonar, a name used both to describe the desert nomads of the region and the land as a whole. Within Galvonar can be found the impressive empire of Galonia, an ancient power rivaling Hyrkania in age and strength, dominated by god-king pharaohs, from which the great and terrible Xarion currently rules.

   Galonia is an ancient empire which has suffered any periods of expansion and decline in its time. It is ruled by pharaohs, god-kings believed to reincarnate over many life times until they achieve the status of lesser gods, and in this period their incarnation is Xarion, a true reincarnation of the terrifying immortal champion of chaos.
   Galonia is located along the southern stretch of the peninsula of Galvonar, in a hot desert land rife with ancient monuments and ruins from eras past. Its people are harsh and bitter, and may be related to the Argossean and Shillarthic empires of the Kadantanian subcontinent and islands across the Iron Sea; indeed, most agree that the Galonians once seeded the islands with their colonies, which grew independent thousands of years ago.
   Galonia itself is not strong enough to raise a great army, and so its pharaoh has been busy working to recruit from the monstrous servitors of chaos to build the foundations of his war in the Middle Kingdoms. Local human conscription has come from forcing the Galvonarian nomads and the eastern coastlanders of Persedonia in to servitude, though large sums of money may be spent to employ the more famously militant Galvonari tribesmen as mercenaries.

   Most of Galvonar is a vast desert, interspersed with harsh mountains and rough badlands. The ruins of many prior civilizations can be found in this region, though few remember the names of these lost empires. The Galvonari people are nomadic survivors in this land, competing with their enemies, the Haikyndyr lizard men, for territory and resources.
   The desert nomads have no organizational structure outside of the tribal level. The northernmost tribal groups are called the Avernan, who will range northward from Galvonar throughout the Middle Kingdoms and back on lengthy journey-cycles. The Avernan are the esteemed merchants and gypsies of the Galvonari people.
   The central lands of Galvonar are dominated by the Adagastikar tribes, which are fierce, insular and almost xenophobic. They are known for their battle prowess, and revered for their skill as mercenaries, when foreigners dare seek to hire them. The Adagastikar tribes are reportedly honed in their fighting skills by the constant warfare they engage in, both intertribal and with the Haikyndyr.
   The western coast is dominated by the Ataran’adi, though most foreigners simply refer to them as the Galvonari proper. These tribes are fewer in number, but are sedentary and have developed large cities along the coast. The Ataran’adi disdain their desert nomad cousins, save for the trade and profit to be had. The fire cults of Ailyenarion are still prominent in this region, though the favor of the cults is dwindling with a fresh incursion of the cults of the Middle Kingdoms slowly sweeps the region.
   The eastern folk of Galvonar are more closely related to the southern Galonians than anything else. The easterners along the coast are the Persedonians, an otherwise peaceful culture of fishermen along the coast. The Persedonians are regarded as a cultural mix of the Galvonari nomads and the Galonians in the south, and their local dialect reflects as much. Though most of Galonia speaks the regional Galonian language, derived from the much more ancient tongue of ancestors long gone, the Persedonians speak a curious mixture of Galvonari Southron and Galonian, that is unique to the region. Their culture is a simple one, dominated by small fishing villages and minor coastal cities with useful products for export. They have no central government, and no monumental structures save for those that come from much older ruins of previous empires. The Persedonians do benefit from their relations with the Galonians in the south, and have developed a fairly sophisticated culture of historians and philosophers, disproportionately to the actual educational background of most Galvonari tribes.

   The western coastal city-states of Jhakn (Shakan) are a loose collection of small independent states that contribute favored elders to an oligarchic council in the capitol city of Jnril (Shinril). The people of this land have eschewed outside political influence for centuries, and claim to be descended from sailors and explorers many centuries ago who were marooned in the region and brought civilization to the simple locals; the coastal islands of Jhakn are dominated by a cultural group called the Nakamurans, and the Jhaknians bear more than a passing resemblance to these people, so there may be some truth to their beliefs.
   Jhakn’s eastern border runs along the Hexerei Mountains, and the various city-states maintain mixed relations with the Hexerei barbarians and the Ocentashians beyond. It’s two largest cities, being the nominal “capitol” of Jnril and the southern city port of Takonor (which itself believes its people are a distinct tribal group apart from the Jhaknians) are the most famous locations at which passing ships choose to drop anchor.

The Nakamura Islands
   Off the coast of Jhakn, the Nakumra Isles are a stretch of a dozen or more small islands inhabited by a hearty sea folk. The Nakamurans are a ruddy-skinned, jovial sort of people who are clearly descended from the original natives of the mainland. They thrive on their trade relations with passing ships, and live peacefully with their neighbors, a bird-like humanoid species called the Araek. Nakamurans are also known for their famous capoieira-like style of fighting.
   Porondor is the largest of the islands in the chain, with an active volcano at its center. The Freeport of Porondor is a sprawling seaport that profits from being centered along the center of the north-south currents of the ocean; it gets sea traffic going both ways from its advantageous center point. Porondor is said to have a hidden Temple of Set on the island, near the volcano, which draws some odd attention from adventurers or suspicious worshippers once in a while.

   This lengthy strip of hill-land runs between the Hexerei and the Cimeran Mountains along the southern passage toward Galvonar. It is dominated by two major local populations, being the resident humans and a fairly large population of gray orcs who have warred often from their mountain homes in the Hexerei range. The orcs are presently dominated by a fanatical religious leader, a warlord and templar named Coradul-Sim who has sworn his fealty to the benevolent deity Seth, an agrarian god of only minor conern in most lands, but revered by the Ocentashids of the valley lands for Seth’s patronage over the crops and the weather. Coradul-Sim’s conversion to the service of Seth is said to have happened some years ago after an event involving a paladin dedicated to Seth was saved by the orc in battle, and the paladin, who was called Elrikan, supposedly graced Coradul-Sim with the vision of the god, converting the warlord on the spot. Coradul-Sim has since spent his life teaching and converting his kin, often through force, and founding a crude but effective order of orcish paladins who have sworn to further the worship of Seth through peaceful teachings or force of arms as necessary.
   The human townships of Ocentash are spread throughout the valley and revolve around four principle city-states, each of which shares a cultural unity but currently lack a true king. Argus, Salanr, the city of Ocentash, and Artalia in the south are the dominant powers in the region, though none hold the strength of arms to resist Octzel in the north or Galonia in the south should either kingdom seem to annex the region. Fortunately for the locals, the greater region of Ocentash holds little value its use as a corridor of passage between the two great mountain ranges. Even the land is harsh and dry, a great swath of desert from which little good rains regularly fall due to the barrier the two mountain ranges provide against westerly and easterly traveling storms; one of the many reasons the agrarian god Seth and his miracles are so revered in the region.

The Northlands

   During this era Zarn is a cold northern swathe of coastland with no commun ruler or unity; the later “renaissance” of culture and politics that gives rise to the southward migration and invasion after the 2,200’s has yet to happen. Zarnians in this time are insular, private folk who dwell in small, well-defended city states and frequently war with one another. They enjoy trade with the southern empires and they relish raiding just as much, but the culture of piracy has degenerated over the years due to the superior ships and combat power of the Hyrkanian and Octzellan navies.

   The Hettanari tribes are located along the edge of the northern Yllmar province of Hyrkania, and they enjoy raiding a great deal; they are culturally a mix of Zarnian and Plainsmen groups, and their fractured society consists mostly of war tribes and extended clans that fight for sport, loot and territory. The dominant god of the Hettanar always was and always will be Hargameth, and it is from the Hettanar that Hargameth becomes popular as a deity among warriors in the Middle Kingdoms.

   The northern kingdoms of Autrengard are more organized and civil than their cousins, and engage in much trade with the south. The Autrengardians war less with one another than they do with the gnolls, wolven and other monsters of the vast untamed Northern Wilderness, a region that would have long ago been colonized and absorbed by their people if not for the near total dominance the nonhumans have in the region. Like their sister kingdoms, the Autrengardians have no central king or authority, instead being comprised of at least two dozen small jarldoms, ruled by local chieftain-kings called jarls.

The Northern Wilderness
   During the Empire Era, this is the vast untracked wilderness of the great northern peninsula, with evidence of the ruins of forgotten empires scattered throughout nearly impenetrable forests and guarded by khitteck spiderkin, wolven, gnolls and much worse. The monstrous occupation of this land makes it almost impossible to settle for long, as the threat of constant warfare is too high. Most successful efforts have come along the southern coast across the Baldaric Sea, where Octzel and Hyrkania both have made efforts at colonization.

The Jungle Kingdoms of Amech

   Belladas is part of the greater culture of the Amech basin that was descended from the Kadantanian Empire, and although it is not ruled by sorcerer-kings, the spirit shamans of the land are venerated as being just as powerful.
   The people of Belladas rever war and strength as a matter of survival, and every child of the land is taught the art of combat and the ways of war. Despite this focus, Belladas is also a rich trading nation and it harvests the many lucrative resources of the Amech Jungles for sale and export to the Middle Kingdoms and beyond. Immense caravans of two or three hundred servants, traders and beasts can be found heading out from Belladas, guarded by the fiercely dedicated Order of Hanahook, the guardians of the land.

   Not much is known of these aboriginal tribelanders in the south western lands of Amech. They are a fierce lot, and while they willingly trade with outsiders, they maintain an insular culture that shuns outside interference.
   The Hubinde are in close proximity to the Beast Lands, where the Neanderthal lords of that land maintain a constant state of war with the Hubinde. Rumors abound that the Terkithyi lizard men have conquered some of the Hubinde lands, as well, as the Hadrosian Empire grows.
   The Hubinde prefer to live in towns along the riverine regions, where the huts are built on stilts to avoid flooding, but some maintain extensive communities on the strange plateaulands of the region, a side effect of the ancient devestation that created the great sink-hole basin of the Amech lands. These towns on the plateaus are especially defensible, and provide the best protection against Beast Man, Terkithyi and slaver encroachment.
   The Hubinde region also contains some of the last Baltorklani (Ape Man) tribes, who struggle to survive as a species. The Baltorklani are very passive and do not like war, though they are certainly capable of ti if necessary, but it is said that their species suffers from an ancient curse cast by the Kadantanians, who despised the Baltorklani for a revolution that led to the downfall of that ancient, evil empire. Interestingly, Hadros must believe some of the myths, for their soldiers actively seek to hunt down and kill Baltorklani, as if they fear the ape men are capable of doing the same to their own aspiring empire.

   The Chigros are an ancient alliance of semi-nomadic tribelanders in south eastern Amech, where the more arid, dryer landscape makes for harsher living conditions. The Chigros are truly aboriginal, and are a people descended from indigenous groups who were living the simple life long before the Kadantanian Empire arose.

   The Hotepsalans are a north eastern jungle kingdom that is dominated by the worship of the darker Amechian deities such as Lako. They are a priestly hierarchy of divinely appointed kings who drive the local population into religious frenzy. They are a xenophobic lot, and war regularly with their only local enemy, the vicious cannibalistic Bloodpoint Indians. Some of the darker elements of Draskis, to the east, are said to have been influenced, aided and abetted by the priest-kings of Hotepsala.

   This enigmatic land is regarded by most as myth, though an occasional traveler may speak of meeting one of its natives. The land is rumored to exist deep in the jungles along Ashturak’s Mountains, and its entire society consists of a few thousand immortal warrior women dedicated to the mysterious god of war called Vishannu.

The Central and Eastern Kingdoms

   Karan was founded as a small chiefdom in the greater cultural region of Caelernin, called at that time “Cym’hyll” by its founders. The chiefdom’s center as a place of worship and commerce sprang in to a town, and at some unknown point in its history a tower was created by the enigmatic wizard Therias Karan. In time, the city prospered and grew, and Karan, clearly an immortal benefactor, came to represent the city as its protector and guide.
   Karan founded his tower as a center of thought, a place to unite the diaspora of sorcerers and wizards across Lingusia with one voice. The Council of Twelve was created to provide this instrument of communication and shared knowledged, and Karan was the first wizard to host it.
   Six centuries later, the city has become the principle center of overland trade, and is the meeting point between all regions of the continent and beyond. Karan is an impressively large city, and is the thriving centerpoint to a sort of perpetual renaissance in magic and technology.
   The diabolical kingdom of Starthias in the east has attempted many times to conquer Karan, but each time the active military, mercenaries and war mages of the city have driven the attackers back. Still, the coffers of the city are known to be replete with the most fabulous treasury in the world, and raiders, orcs, and other beings driven by greed would desparately like to get their hands on it.


   Most men of common sense believe Starthias to be a kingdom of monsters and necromancers. It is known that the exiled sorcerer-king Anharak, who several decades ago forged his way in to the Silver Mountains of the north with an army of orcs, to claim the land for his own, came from Starthias. Rumors abound that his depravity was so great not even his own people could suffer him for long.
   Starthias today is known in myth and rumor to be a kingdom of orcs and devil-touched tieflings, to be a harbor of the undead and a safe haven for vile entities. Those few who have traveled there and lived to tell the tale tend not to discourage such wild and fancy tales, seeing that the truth is not so far off from the legend.
   Starthias is currently ruled by a dark queen who goes only by the name of Athatlys, said to have tiefling blood and to have wed the orcish warlord Smadgar. It is known that in 1,951 aw the Galonian Pharaoh Xarion journeyed to Starthias and presented Athatlys and Smadgar with copious gifts of wealth and magic. Trade between the two lands has been friendly ever since.
   Outside of such odd relations, Starthias is known for its navy of privateers and pirates. The most notorious cut throats of the Bloodsea are given refuge and official sanction in the harbors of Starthias. No sane or lawful merchant seeks out the parts of the rugged, volcanic land, lest they be pundered and sold in to slavery.
   Starthias appears to be dominated by a half-dozen monstrous and humanoid groups. The regional orcs call themselves the Skaz, and appear to be a mixture of blue and red orc heritage. The human population is about as large as the regional orc population, but heavily tainted by tiefling blood; in Starthias, one is automatically elevated to nobility if you are born a tiefling, and many families seek this honor through whatever dire means or rituals necessary to sire tainted children.
   Other prominent local groups include the mysterious Varakun minotaurs, who worship no god and have sworn an unwavering loyalty to the throne of Starthias sometime in its ancient history. The Kolgathir shape shifters are an entire race of wolven who claim an eastern heritage, from across the Bloodsea, and who migrated to the shores of Starthias centuries ago. Finally, the land seems to suffer beneath a plague of goblins, kobolds, and ratkin who all seem to be almost locust-like in their breeding and who have competitive warring subterranean kingdoms, terrified of the local orcs but otherwise prone to constant violence against one another.

   Cretea is one of the most benevolent, and possibly quietest regions of Lingusia. The coastal kingdoms of this lush, Mediterranean land are a series of city-states ruled by a common democratic process. Each city state has a body of elected voters, citizens who participate in electing governors and making laws. These citizens must own land and have wealth, allowing them to vote. Women are not allowed to participate. Through their efforts, a governor and representatives are voted on and elected. In turn, the representatives of each city-state meet at the city of Helios, where an elected regent rules. The collective body at Helios dictates laws considered common in all city-states, though disagreements between different cities are common, leading to regional warfare and sometimes even civil war.
   Cretea is as much a coastal seafaring culture as it is landed, and is one of the five great seafaring empires in Lingusia. They are always at war with the Argoseans of Karaktu, but manage friendly trade (most of the time) with all other Lingusian kingdoms.
Thracyllia: This island off the coast is the heart of the Thracyllian League, which refuses to participate in the rule of the regent. It is also the center of activity for the rarely seen culture of  Cretean minotaurs, who rule a quasi-subterranean realm on this island.

Mount Heliossar: Upon this mountain rests an ancient city atop which the immortals of Cretean myth are said to have retired to rule as envoys of the goddess Ga’Thika. Near the base of this mountain is the Cavern of Enlightenment, where the Oracle of Cretea dwells, providing mystical knowledge to the regent and those in need.

Necropolon: The ruined city of Necropolon fell centuries ago to a dark invasion by otherworldly forces, and is now a demon-haunted ruin. Little is known of its mysteries, though the tales say that the city-builders unleashed the darkness upon themselves when an excavation for the governor’s palace unwittingly opened a hidden passage that led to a subterranean realm beneath the city, from which countless horrors emerged…

Helios: The capitol from which the regent rules, Helios is a mecca of civilization and a boon to monumental architecture throughout the world. The Library of Helios is said to be as magnificent as the Librarium of Midas in Octzel. The Temple of the Immortals is said to be as grand as the Temple of Naril in Hyrkan’ien. The palace of the regent is said to be more impressive than the Emerald Dome, though explorers from Hyrkania refute this. Helios is guarded by a military dedicated to the regent, but the city is considered a civic monument shared by all of Cretea’s city states.

   Cymeer is an ancient land, founded long ago by the ancient Zuedian tribes which colonized most of the eastern coast, a curious mixture of local people and somewhat more complex eastern Takkain belief systems. The tribes which founded Cymeer worshipped a monotheistic deity named Amehwy, and this unique form of monotheism has pervaded the region; depending on who is in power at any given moment, the tolerance for foreign beliefs can vary widely.
   Cymeer has never had a long-standing unifying power; numerous local governing kings of the many city-states all claim rulership over the entire land, but none to date have been recognized as true kings. There is a story that the first true king will be identified by Amehwy, but such a miracle has not transpired (yet).
   Cymeer’s zealous faith is known abroad, for it tasks the templars of Amehwy with traveling the lands and spreading the word of the True God. The paladins of the faith are fierce defenders of the innocent and slayers of evil (such as they have identified to be evil). It has been noted that there are many similarities between the more structured Middle Kingdoms faith of Naril and that of eastern Amehwy, but the followers of both gods deny any similarity.
   Cymeer’s main crusades right now stem from the corrupted eastern lands of Draskis, where many cults of demon-worshippers have arisen, as a result perhaps of the influence of the fallen vile Kadantanian Empire. This war on three fronts keeps the zealots of Amehwy quite busy.
   Among the western city-states worship of various demon gods is prominent, and the cults of Belphegor are growing in strength. The charismatic High priest Kon’dethatos has risen to power, and much to the dismay of the Cymeeri city-states he seems to be providing a unity to the western lands of Draskis.
Kinisthare Forest: This mysterious forest holds tribes of wild elves, sylvan elves who appear long ago to have severed ties with more traditional elvish culture, and indeed have embraced the life style of the Kahuni’Lakwha plainsmen.
The Cliffs of Law: Here, at the great mouth of the Nardurha River, are etched the laws of Amehwy in a Lex Talionis. The two hundred laws have been preserved forever in great letters by the ancient founders of Cymeer, and these laws remain unchanged.

Stealindor: The central city of Cymeer is the heart of military activity and trade.

Bodlon: The capitol and founding city of Cymeer, Bodlon exudes a venerable aura about it. Here, King Tanis Ademar rules, a dedicate to Amehwy and considered by some to be the best hope Cymeer has of unity.
Mordain: The central domain of High priest Kon’Dethatos, Mordain is a hive of thievery and dark magic. The city is said to be haunted, and demons are believed to dominate the streets by night.

   Caelernin is an ancient woodland dominated by twelve major tribes of barbarian men, united by culture and religion. The region is volatile and dangerous, and in two thousand years of recorded history, the chiefdoms of Caelernin have never shown civilization or ceased hostilities against foreigners.
Vagendar’s Woods: These ancient woods are named after a legendary wizard of the ancient past, a man who is revered by the Caelernin for being the founder of their culture. To this day, it is said that a mysterious keep in the woods will appear to those questing for eldritch knowledge, a keep belonging to the ancient Spirit of Vagendar.
The Sylvan Vales: The network of valleys running from the eastern mountains of Caelernin are home to many strange and mysterious fae being. The tribes avoid this area as much as possible, though Sylveinurien elves who dwell in the region will periodically trade with men.
The Draugan Spear: An ancient and mysterious mountain range which stands apart in the woods, The Draugan Spear is a haunted land, feared by the ancient tribes. Rumors of demons are often proven by questing warriors who venture forth and engage in combat with the mysterious and hostile beings of the mountains.

Ael Lands: The region dominated by the largest Caelernin tribe, the Ael. Uosos is the chiefdom from which high chief Anamorek rules. He is said to be the avatar of Zingar, lord of the hunt.

Next: Heroes of the Empire Era

 All text copyright 2011 by Nicholas Torbin Bergquist, all rights reserved

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