The Middle Isles
The Hegemony of Aerris has seen the Aerrisan people united under the Hegemon, who forfeits his name when he comes to power. Aerrisans claim a form of art and architecture, but it is without soul and only loves practicality. It is with this same passionless discipline that their fleets and legions have turned so many nations into vassals. The Road of the Triarchs has made passage through the hill-covered land of Riaba simple, and is considered the marvel of Aerrisan engineering.
Aleurn was the capital of Siorcus and the Siorci people, before their subjugation three generations ago at the hands of the Hegemony of Aerris. The town today looks much as it did then, with a few Aerrisan public buildings demonstrating their captive status. The alleged magics of the Siorci people are discouraged, though it is suspected their strange covens still gather under the moonlit vineyards of their island. A large garrison of Aerrisan soldiers is stationed around the island.
Baodi Lands stretch across the Far East. The Baodi are a nomadic people, born to to the horse, and given to thinking of all other peoples as Unhorsed and Unworthy. They are people of great valor, but fear the seas. Even their hardiest warriors avoid the ruined cities of Thyrmia, and the whispers that emanate from their crumbling, timeless arches as the sun sets. On the other side of Thyrmia, according to historian Juinn the Younger, is an endless wall that stands between the rolling Thyrmian plains and the seas on the edge of the world.
Blyald is a decadent but powerful land, where nearly any vice can be had for a few ingots of silver or gold. They claim a democracy, as the richest and most noble of their lines may be elected to the Senate, but much can be bought in that body, as well. Blyald’s gentle, rolling fields of grain make it a powerful nation, with massive plantations owned by Senators, thus ensuring their wealth. I hesitate to remind your majesty of the frankly shocking and condescending display that occurred upon your last and only visit to this nation, and the subsequent mocking apology the current Speaker of the Senate gave while apparently inebriated. They are a prime example of a people great in wealth, but small in virtue.
The small isle of Brolt has been besieged by strange creatures from under the earth’s surface. These carnivorous Lizard-Men control much of the territory surrounding Brolt, and only a very few fortified homesteads outside of the port itself still stand. This has caused widespread famine in Brolt, as the Lizard-Men continue to increase their numbers. A fragile parley was broken last year, and King Turros’ Captain of the Royal Guard is suspected of having been eaten.
Ceiris is a place of order, but an order borne of a King who consorts with demons from the Third and Fourth Circles of the Abyss. Turvan the Necromancer quelled the succession riots of Ceiris by summoning otherworldly forces to slay the other candidates for the throne. Since then, Ceiris is a place of law, where merchants may sell their wares unmolested, but rumors of infernal influence still plague Turvan’s reign, no matter how justly or wise he rules. Abyssal corruption or no, for now the Great Temple of Blessed Rhuann still holds sway strongly in Ceiris.
The Decenian League, led by the city of Decenios, is the latest in the attempts to provide unity in the face of Aerrisan aggression. Their supposedly great general, Poldin, was discovered to be in the pay of Aerris, and is not the least of the reasons why the League now suffers defeat after defeat. If they falter, Your Most Brilliant Majesty will of course consider the ramifications to our place in the world.
The Domains of the Sea Elves, Endenthen, is shrouded alike in mist and secrecy. The Sea Elves are the greatest mariners the Middle Sea has ever known, but brook little outside trade unless they initiate it. Indeed, only a few outsiders may live outside the walls of Endenthen, in the ramshackle community known as Tradetown. Even fewer are granted access to the inner city of the Sea Elves, which is said to be beautiful beyond all measure.
Dras once belonged to the Kingdom of Taf, but is now merely a buffer between the two powers of Taf and Aerris. You will remember, Majesty, that the Prince of Dras, Lunio, spent several summers in Aquona as a youth. Lunio now rules Dras, but must pay tribute to Aerris and Taf alike to maintain his independence. The Drasites are a warm people, but easily incited to anger.
Essos, the home of the great general and tyrant Malchus, whom defeated the Aerrisans for the twenty full years of his reign, is now reduced to a puppet and client of Aerris. Tulius, son of Malchus, has been overthrown, and he even now implores the thrones of the Decenian League for assistance against his brother, Coros, who has been installed as king.
Fashtur is an important port, situated on the trade lanes betwixt the western and central southerly waters of the Middle Sea. A powerful Merchant’s Guild has seized control of the city, and controls the purse-strings of a weak and ineffectual prince. Fashtur is home to the massive Guild soldiers known as Ogmen, massive warriors who claim a descent tainted with Ogrim blood. Naturally, such a thing is known as impossible, and we Aquonans need no need of foolish boasts to secure our honor.
The city of Indenneos is one of the most mysterious and remote of all ports. As far south as Zehid, as far west as Aleurn, the denizens of this fair city hold elaborate contests to select a new Vizier every ten years. One may only conjecture, O King, that they lack a true and strong line of nobility such as your own, hence their need for this garish ritual.
Ismius is part of the Decenian League, and is one of the few places the advances of the Aerrisans were checked, at the Battle of Slate Cliffs. They credit this to their great alchemist and inventor Orosotes, who created a fiery substance that could not be quenched. It is believed he was assassinated or captured soon after, as he has not been seen in six years, but Ismius remains free for the moment, bypassed by the pragmatic Aerrisans.
The Kingdom of Isom has no art, and no philosophers. I will pleadingly remind Your Majesty of the coarse and uncouth way they treated your humble servant when a ship was on had to stop there for repairs. The three warlike cities of Iddani, Duver, and Gadover gave way to battling one another to flourish as the largest supply of mercenaries to other nations. They are beloved by none, but their Overking, the corpulent and sly Maggra, seems to care nothing for other than coin.
Kalihh houses the temple-cities of Asrad and Dann—massive complexes dedicated to Kalash, the Elephant God. Indeed, elephants are considered sacred here, and roam freely in the jungles of the interior. The waters here are warm, and house many exotic fish not found elsewhere in the Middle Sea. The Priest-King of Asrad and the Priestess-Queen of Dann rule jointly.
Kiartha was in recent memory a proud kingdom, but it is now but a puppet of Aerris, with the Line of the Boar ascendant over the Line of the Marlin. The current king, Dursho Boars-Head, sends tribute each year to Aerris to maintain an uneasy peace. The phalanxes of Kiartha were known for centuries as some of the finest in the entire World, but are now largely disbanded.
The Lands of the Krenag are the domain of ruthless raiders, pirate captains who would self-style themselves princes. They have waned in power from their great raids of a century ago, but still bloodily ply their trade in shipping lanes near and far. Their homeland is a confusing mass of brigandry, territorial divides, and patchwork allegiances, with no single king over this savage people. They have long warred with the Vaorn Empire, with the rough terrain of their largest island and their ferocity keeping them at bay.
Lenwos may boast of a fine academy, and of such great thinkers as Thorvias and Thorvias the Younger, two of the greatest philosopher-kings a nation has ever known. Their isle is rich in soil and in silver, and so Lenwos prospers. Lately, the population is given over to scandalously debating limiting their monarchy, which has caused divisions in the court of Liukis, Overlord of Lenwos.
The populace of the isle of Lev was stricken by the Crimson Plague a generation past, and the isle still bears the scars of that tragedy. A general by the name of Hujarr has named himself Dictator, ruling over the still-feeble land. As far as it is known, none of the royal line survived the plague. Lev’s formerly cordial relations with its close neighbor, Lute, have been strained by Hujarr’s aggressiveness and veneration of The Gaunt Lord.
Lute is a quiet, wintry isle, given over to the domains of the priestesses of The Watchful Crone. With little commerce, the priestesses of Lute are welcome in many courts, as neutral observers and wise counselors. The Shield-Maidens of Lute brook little interference with their affairs.
Meldu stands apart, even beside all the strange nations of the Middle Sea. Named after its first King of the same name, Meldu is guarded by innumerable mechanic and clockwork devices, from a labyrinth high in the hills that prisoners may not escape from, to mechanized watchmen safeguarding their streets. All manner of mechanical wonders are to be found in Meldu, and remain without peer or explanation.
Mospol & Davusk are the last vestiges of the old expanses of Dwarvenkind. These islands were mewling colonies when Anren sank under the might of the Eye of Thunder, and with their poor soil, cannot easily support those Dwarves who survived that cataclysm. Though the Dwarves are master traders, fewer, and fewer of their trade ships are observed with each passing year. Soon, they will likely pass from the mortal realm forever.
Mount Aulae, also known as the isle of Aulae, has held colonies from a half-dozen lands; indeed, there are valuable metals to be mined here by all accounts. However, the highest mountain on Aulae is known to house a long stairway to the domain of the gods themselves, and they brook no human settlement upon their shores. Earthquakes, plagues, and other acts of the gods have befallen previous colonization attempts, and so only wild creatures, ruins, and the servants of the gods may be found upon Aulae.
Norvuland is an old land of vast forests and deep mountain valleys. The people here, the Norvu, consider themselves a pure and strong society, somewhat remote from the fallen races of Man. They still belong to clans, each headed by a wise and fierce clan chief. They have not been united under a single great chief for hundreds of years, according to their legends. They are the bitter enemies of the Skelds, who raid their settlements frequently.
Orroth, or The Twin Rages, are the home of the Orcs. The islands lie northwest of the Vanguard Isles, giving them many options for their love of piracy and ill-gotten gain. Further eastwards their deprivations span, as the Hegemony of Aerris has brought them near ruin after successive naval routs. The isles are cold, and ill-suited towards agriculture.
Peln is perhaps the most remote of all isles, but it is here that the Oracle of Peln is housed. The Oracle has always been consulted in the gravest of times, but the Keepers of the Oracle warn there is always a price to be paid for wisdom—and that wisdom is only offered when the Oracle deems the beseecher worthy.
Rynn is a powerful city-state, and as Your Supreme Majesty is doubtless aware, they have built the world’s Great Library. Here, philosophers meet from all disciplines, to further the cause of knowledge for humanity. Rynn’s army has been derided as an ill-bred mass of shepherds and fifth-rate failed playwrights, but their powerful navy has traditionally kept armies in check. Aside from the Library, Rynn also boasts an incredibly complex water clock, and a glorious Assembly, where the ten elected Elders of Rynn dispense laws and justice.
Sevoloch is ruled by the Golden Shepherd, who leads his people in the ways of the bizarre Mysteries of the Ram. The Golden Shepherd has grown paranoid in his old age, and actively discourages visitors to his domain. Trade has grown more and more restrictive, and disturbing stories have surfaced alluding to outsiders being selected for sacrifice or to die terribly in the Ritual Games. In times past, Sevoloch was known for its fine winter wines, but such trade has largely subsided.
Skeldenland is the domain of the bizarre, godless, and grotesque Skelds. Long ago, their mighty chieftain Zorus swore his everlasting animosity towards the Gods, a vow which his people have held for as long as we have record. The Skelds are fearless raiders, and sworn enemies of Norvuland. Their longboats are among the sturdiest and seaworthy in all the Isles. Their chieftains measure wealth largely in cattle, but also value precious metals. Having no gods, they nonetheless believe in the eternal soul, believing in some strange circular cycle of the world wherein perpetual struggle and war dominate. They have recently sent overtures to Your Majesty, which I believe have been almost certainly properly ignored.
Stomalt has long inspired poets and playwrights with its natural beauty. The isle is extremely mist-shrouded, with a rocky, forbidding coastline. It is a modest island in war and trade, with its reclusive King, Rharm the Ageless, having not come out of his castle in the last two decades. Having been to Stomalt once in my youth, I can assure your majesty the mist seems much less charming on moonless eves.
The Stoneholdings were once a mighty domain of Dwarves and Men, but are lately merely a province of hill bandits and petty, barbaric kingdoms. The Stoneholdings were created when The Mailed Lord smote the great dragon Felthis, the pet of Lofeth the Titan, from the sky. Where his blood fell, the Stoneholdings arose.
The Sun Kingdom has grown wealthy from their natural reserves of gold and silver, but have largely withdrawn from the world. Considered Baodi who long ago separated from the horsebound tribes, the Sun Kingdom considers their Sun King the avatar of The Sun Lord, ruling by divine lineage. Recently, suspecting that base, foreign ways were behind recent natural disasters befalling their land, they isolated themselves from the larger world. It is difficult for foreign ships to gain entrance to their ports, but their gold and silver ships still ply their trade throughout the world.
The Kingdom of Taf has grown in power in the last few decades, consolidating its southern lands and subjugating rebellious princes. However, it now faces a severe outside threat in the form of the Hegemony of Aerris. It has recently sent envoys into the east, seeking support for possible military action against Aerris. If such a war comes, it will be a massive endeavor between two powerful entities. Taf’s rich fields and iron mines ensure its prosperity in the meantime.
Tinves once thought to conquer Aquona; indeed, in Your Venerable Majesty’s grandfather’s grandfather’s time, we warred with them incessantly. I hesitate to remind Your Majesty of the nigh-unbearable defeat of the Aquonan Fleet under the reign of Hursus, but did not our valor drive them from the shores soon after? After this, Hursus, who had by then learned the kingly art of discretion and forbearance, signed a peace treaty with Tinves. Today, they are a strong ally, as the Tyrant of Tinves, Orlasko, continues to guide them with a firm hand. Their copper and tin deposits are both superb, and create much trade.
The Vanguard Isles is the name given those petty kingdoms which briefly unified before the might of Aerris, only to be subjugated or coerced into surrender. Today, they are governed by the armies of Aerris.
The Vaornan Empire is the domain of tyrants and false prophets. It has sullied the civilized nations of the world for far too long, and still calls upon the once-god Vaor for succor. The Harlot, the Scarlet Empress of the Vaorns, even now undoubtedly plots to see Aquona brought down. Their ancient city of Riduz, with its blasphemous temple, and the Harlot’s City of Untalor are both ports to which no true Aquonan would venture.
Under the city and island of Vorsh, the endless labyrinths continue on for countless dark miles. Some are counted catacombs for the royal dead, some are claimed by various priesthoods and cults, and other have been there for ages uncounted, their purpose unknown. Vorsh itself is a quiet, unassuming island, with an excellent market for its renowned wines.
Zehid is the City of Sands; it is at once a labyrinths of ancient streets, brilliant white buildings, and one of the finest natural ports in all of Kaordas. Nearly all that is traded in the world, including spices we have no name for, may be found in the markets of Zehid. The King of Zehid is always named Klurah; the current monarch being the thirty-third of that name. By this reasoning, he is often simply named The Klurah. Mighty sorcerers are known to make their home in the desert wastes surrounding Zehid, and often does The Klurah send them gifts after their peculiar and obscure designs, hoping to keep in their good graces. Though the rabble of Zehid are many, worship of The Mailed Lord is strong there, and a sense of ordered society permeates society and the Royal Court itself.
In addition to the lands presented above, I make no mentioned, My King, of the countless petty settlements and princes that comprise other minor islands of the region. As one does not bother to count the grains of sand on a beach, how could these minor entities be counted?