Between Lorine and the rest of the north, the Lusatine forest cuts across the landscape like a knife. The roots of the forest are deep and filled with a rich history of heroes and songs. None dwell there save the Lusani Elves, born and buried in the vast network of vines and branches. Few have seen such folk and even fewer live to tell the tale. A xenophobic people, they protect the forest from those who would harm it.
The Kingdom of Lorine’s powerful merchant guilds once tried to cut a swath through the land, in order to secure timber and a new trade route to the north. The expedition was never to be seen again. For centuries the Lusani have not cared for the politics of the world, but now, as evil once more awakens from slumber, the elves of the forest cannot leave their fate to chance. The drums in the woods begin anew, and the rangers and bowman take up their arms once more. Led by Queen Joanne, a girl rumored to be no older than fourteen yet fierce in her authority, the elves shall stand against the coming tide.
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A light, defiant to the shadow around it. The lake city of Evrand has stood as a beacon for the elvish kin since the Age of Glory. Built by the great king Rohiel, it was the vanguard in the war against the demons. Crassus Baal, the deceiver, had clouded the human and elven kingdoms in shadow, and the land fell into civil war. Rohiel cried out to the god Duwel, lord of cloud and sky, and begged for the salvation of his people. Duwel answered, and commanded the Elf King to erect a massive lighthouse at the center isle of Lake Evrand. Rohiel did so, and when he had laid the last stone, Duwel descended in a cloud of flame, and kindled the lighthouse, driving back the darkness that plagued the land.
Since this time, the Golden Court has been a safe haven for the elves, one of the last three kingdoms of the Hlútrian, the proper name of the elves. Duwel’s people are few and far, often selling their wise words or sharp steel, reduced greatly in status from the days of yore. The Golden Court intends to reclaim what was stolen, to once more, be the beacon of light and hope in a dark and hopeless world.
The ancient enemy to Atruitas, the fallen son of Erastrius, and the worshipper of the Black Elk, The Kingdom of Zelphie is a force to be reckoned with. The second of the kingdoms born from the Great Collapse, Zelphie lived in unity with Atruitas, often fighting alongside one another to repel foreign invaders, but no more. King Rogbert, now nearly ten generations ago, renounced his holy vows to Matuar, God of the Sea, and proclaimed loyalty to the Black Elk, a powerful and ancient being of the Zelphine Forest.
Upon hearing this, neighboring Tanaria took up arms against Zelphie at the behest of Atruitas, to purge the lands of this new cult. Rogbert ordered his men replace the image of Matuar’s trident with the Black Elk’s eyes upon their shields, proclaiming that the forest would soak up the sea. Rogbert met the Tanarians on the field, and won a stunning victory, sending the faithful running.
With this victory, Rogbert purged the land of Matuar’s priests, and tore down their holy sites, erecting new lodges with black antlers upon their altars. Since this time, Zelpie and Atruitas have been locked in a holy war, the Elk against Matuar.
To the southern realms, where fields of green blow gently in long summer’s wind, Atruitas shines as a beacon of civilization on the shores of the Ecestial sea. A nation which splintered from the Erastrian motherland during the Great Collapse, Atruitas has managed to retain the laws and learning of their now long dead forebearers. Their capital, Estphallia is a hub of culture and trade, one of the few left on the eastern coast of Yennen. To the north, the barbaric tribes of Clan Silverscale reave across the countryside, and to the south, the Zelphine, the fallen sons of Erastrius, who desecrated and abandoned their god Matuar, wage a bloody war against Atruitas.
The Silver Crown of Princes must be protected at all costs, for no others can claim the Erastrian legacy than they of Atruitas. War calls and the proud sons of Matuar are no stranger to the sound. Their navy and marines are feared for good reason, bathed in stiff leather and steel like armored monsters of the sea. Their winged helmets beckon their knights to glory. Now is the time for the Silver Son to takes his place on the lost throne of Erastrius, and reclaim that ancient empire!
Since Adalgott’s time, Lorine has ruled as an independent nation, under countless dynasties and kings. The southernmost of the kingdoms of the north, Lorine enjoys the benefits of a border with the elves of the Golden Court, and the Elnish men who trade in sweet wines and fine crafts. Lorine has its capital at Wulfstan, the ancient city where Adalgott once ruled the entire north. In this city, Adalgott carved his palace from a massive rock which jutted from the ground and prescribed the first written set of laws upon it.
Lorine has never been able to recapture the glory of their former king, and rather the nobility squabble over land and power, crippling the effectiveness and prestige of Lorine. The best hope for Lorine’s return to glory is vested in King Oswine, the aged ruler who has restored some sense of order and stability to the country. From Wulfstan, he commands a powerful host of knights, the Order of the Red Gyrfalcon.
Even with this newfound prosperity, the realm sits on stale and waiting wind, for foul omens fills both rural and urban lands. In the alleyways, languages thought cursed and dead are spoken. In the country rituals to powers long banished are uttered in profane blasphemy. Lorine must prepare for war.
The Order of the Eternal Dawn has stood watch over the various kingdoms of the north since the Age of Glory, when Adalgott, the first king, fought against the demon Azrael. The order was founded from former companions of Adalgott, who knew the battle between good and evil had only just begun. Their first knightly commanders prayed along the shore of Midland to Cinder, god of the sun and light. Upon hearing their call, Cinder bestowed the world with a dawn brighter than any fire or midday sun, golden and radiant beyond words. Upon this sight, the knights painted their shields with the image of the dawn upon the ocean’s horizon and formed the brotherhood.
From Castle Zweleran, a massive complex of towers and walls, the Order of the Eternal Dawn guards the realm against various foes, from lowly bandits to giants come to reave along the shore. In recent years, the rise of kingdoms in the north has taken away much of the power, crippling their reach and influence. Now the knights operate chiefly in Midland, though a few of their order quest through the rest of the world, seeking holy relics or lost knowledge.
House Oderyr has stood, rather, sunk in the Red Marsh for thousands of years. Their capital and only walled castle, Green Rock, has stood the test of the wetlands, surviving both floods and frigid winters. House Oderyr is considered the weakest of the Midland houses, even more so than Moricar, with roughly a thousand or fewer levies in total. Oderyr’s contribution to Midland is their key chokepoint, as Green Rock is the only roadway through the Red Marsh, and into Midland.
Recently, Oderyr has declined even further, as their liege lord Theodric, and his wife, Elanna, have been driven mad from old age. The lands of Oderyr are now practically autonomous, with no real authority of law.
To the south, beyond the realm of knights and peasantry, cold winds and colder demeanor men, lies the self-titled, Magnanimous Free City of Kruithia, the Golden Coin of Eln, the Six-Pronged Saviour, and other titles too long for most northerners to memorize. It is the largest city of men, consisting of dozens walled sections which rise high into the clouds. It stands suspended across a deep running moat which wraps around the city like a ring. To the lower districts, sewage runs freely in the streets, and cramped conditions force people deep into the dimly lit alleyways of the inner rock. To the bottom, the Pit, a fighting arena where prisoners are made to bleed for the amusement and example of the rich and poor.
To the upper tiers of the grand city, open air terraces and vast green gardens litter the skyline, with some private estates having their own little forests. Gold-domed palaces reach high above the filth of the city, reflecting light as a coin being inspected for quality.
Kruithia is ruled by six oligarchs, each a head of a noble clan of Kruithia, hence the six-pronged coin. They chose six, so that no decision could be made with a fifty-fifty divide, a majority would always rule in Kruithia, no matter what.
Krutithia also holds the largest bank in the world, The Shimmering Star, named for the treasure rumored to be hidden deep within the vaults and thick iron doors of the bank. The Shimmering Star was an artifact from the first days of man, a gift from the gods themselves, a meteor composed of pure light. None know if this treasure exists, for the bankers are not ones to divulge their accounts.
House Moricar is proud if somewhat looked down upon in Midland. Moricar has a reputation of being the weakest of the houses, as their levies in war are often skirmishers or archers, unable to win glory on the battlefield as the steel-clad warriors common in Midland. Their capital is Luxen, a town centered in a tall green hill. It was here that King Roi, founder of the modern house of Moricar, saw the god of the hunt, Godric, descend from the sky on a golden chariot, and slew a boar charging at Roi. The king collapsed from this encounter, and when he could stand, ordered his vassals to erect a shrine to Godric. They did so, carving a stone statue of a boar and erecting the castle of Luxen.
The house Moricar is known famously for the men who live as their subjects, the Rivermen of the Tyr. Slender and tall, these men wear brightly colored cloaks and tunics as they ride and wade through the reedy shores of the River Tyr, carrying javelins or longbows as they hunt the boars and deer which reside there. A simple folk, they carry a song in their heart and pipe at their mouth, even in battle, where they were little to no armor for fear of being slowed down.
To the north of Lorine, the winds grow cold and the earth hardens into soil akin to stone, yet House Crawe shines as a pinnacle of wealth. The Crawes have ruled the different lordlings of Midland for centuries, keeping power through wealth, rather than brute force. Founded by Scallion Crawe, a merchant from the Elnish lands with barely a copper to his name, they would rise to the rank of the most powerful nations in less than a lifetime.
Scallion came north with a handful of iceberries, a species of grape nearly immune to cold, with little need for water or rich soil. Scallion cast the grape seeds across the fields of Midland, and by the summer harvest of the next year, was the wealthiest man in Midland. His wineries appeared throughout the fledgling nation. Crawe was no kind soul, he was rumored to have burned at least five competing vineyards and alehouses, all in the name of monopoly.By the end of his life, he had built a city of marble, named Prav, and had amassed one of the largest fortunes the world had ever seen.
His descendant Malcom now rules Midland as Vine King, guarded by fill regiments of men bearing the golden vine upon their breastplate. Wealth flows into Prav from the country, though the sweet nectar of iceberry wine has weakened the industrial nature of house Crawe, who have not worked the land like their ancestors for generations.