[Map of Arolanit]
- Calados, Wheelwright - Commoner: I am older than your entire civilization, outlander. When Arkat liberated us from the Krjalki, I made wheels for his wagon. I saw the Middle Sea Empire rise and fall. I heard of the Dragonkill war, but none of us were stupid enough to suicide against the dragons. When Kralorela is devoured by mer-folk and Dragon Pass's inhabitants act surprised as the dragons devour them again and the Red Moon falls from the sky and crushes Peloria, I will still be here, living my life and making wagon wheels and laughing at your stupidity. I suppose when you barely live longer than a cockroach, you run around like one, like a chicken with your head cut off. With Brithos gone or destroyed, there is no greater land than ours.
- Lucius, Captain of the Fourth Golem Division - Soldier: Erontree are formidable foes, but forests burn and we usually win; further, like all intelligent beings, they hate trolls and so we can often make common cause against Guhan. Guhan is home to worthless trolls and if we had more ability to afford casualties, I'd urge a war to the death with them. Trolls are completely useless. They don't even taste good; they make whale taste like filet mignon and whale tastes like eating snot. The Kingdom of Kustria is more of a comedy routine than a menace. The Seshnelans are pathetic idiots, but there are millions of them and I hope to avoid war and fear it inevitable. Their pathetic aping of our ways will sooner or later make them jealous that we do it right and they do not. Plus, while they claim to have cleansed the Abiding Book, I expect they're just being lead down the primrose path to destruction by it. Fools, but dangerous. I don't want to die fighting morons. So, Outlander, looking for work by any chance? We can always use mercenaries.
- Bristolos, Wizard of the Schmakaldic Order: I keep petitioning for someone to go and at least try to teach the Seshnelans the right way to do things, but no one is willing to go forth and risk being tainted and dying. Which I can understand. I'd go myself but I'm no good at persuasion. Even my magic is oriented towards weather control, not persuasion. Plus, someone has to ensure our farmers get enough rain, and for the Gashasganol area, that wizard is me. I've had this job for 532 years and I've honed it to a fine art. My predecessor got himself killed in the anarchy of the fall of the Middle Sea Empire. In my spare time, I study the Syndic's Ban; if we could duplicate that for Arolanit, we would be much safer. It's not like we need the rest of the world; I expect that Brithos has duplicated this already, so surely we can. Sorry, Outlander; you are interesting to us, but dangerous to us by existing. I would rather be bored and alive than interested and dead.
- Markalan, Governor of The Open City: Welcome to Arolanit. As long as you obey our rules and stick to this city, your visit will be of benefit to us all! Since my predecessor had to be replaced a decade ago, I have ruled this city, though I spent three hundred and twenty-two years climbing the ladder in the city and another eighty-seven in various minor countryside postings. (Constantus did not turn into a dragonewt! But he did suddenly start speaking Auld Wyrmish and the Dragonnewts took him away. We are grateful, as he might have infected others.) We are always looking to trade, so please enjoy our bazaars and shops. The cuisine of every nation worth caring about can be found here, from the seven course Kuseki cuisine of Kralorela to sauteed brain stew from Fonrit to authentic Dwarf Food. I must warn you that eating Dwarf Food may kill your tastebuds for up to eight months and in one of ten thousand cases makes you contemplate death to stop tasting it. But I know some Outlanders like to court death. I do recommend you try the Lunar Rock Candy; it looks like chunks of the Red Moon but it mixes sweetness and fruit flavors. We also always need mercenaries; the pay is very high, though I warn you, the duties are rigorous. There's a recruiting station on the Street of War.
- Lausianna, Wife of Bristolos: Of course our Wizards marry. How else would they have children? Of course, I am rarely called upon to have children, or else we would become overpopulated. The council has to approve all births but if we follow the accepted practices, then we are guaranteed the correct number of children. I was once ordered to bear triplets; I don't know how Outlander women handle so many children at once! It's no wonder that they only ordered it because we were having a demographic crisis. One day, Minicus decided to play bowling with the compenents of the Histicon, and while I was dealing with him, Marcinus and Blasticus began throwing scrolls at each other, then pelted their father with them when he tried to stop them. It took three days to get the library back in order! Thankfully, they all settled down and now Minicus is stationed at the Tower of Movement and Marcinus works in the National Library in the capital. And Blasticus? *begins to cry, finally recovers* When he was only 138, he was eaten in a troll raid from Guhan. Why haven't we wiped out those filthy trolls yet? They are worthless scum! *Fire crackles around her hands, shudders, makes the fire go out*. Sorry. Anyway, most of my time is actually spent on either my hobby of astronomical magics or on aiding my husband's weather control. I also ensure we don't starve to death; if I didn't manage the household, he would run out of *everything* in every crisis, like before we were married. He's very good at his duties, but he's done it for so long, I think he barely remembers how to do anything else. But that's how men are. I understand this one 1,248 year old couple in the Tower of Stasis, the husband once forgot to eat for a week, he was so busy. Then his wife came back from her trip and had to make him eat. Bristolos never gets that bad, thankfully. So how does marriage work with Outlanders, anyway? It seems like you would die before you even got to really know each other. Also, is it true that Orlanthi throw their children off cliffs and then leave them to die if they can't make it home under their own power after that? Do they really pump them out eight at a time in the expectation six of them will die by age 14? I was just hoping to never see goats again when I was fourteen and none of my siblings... admittedly, my elder sister is 123 years older than me and the oldest of my younger siblings is... 87 years younger than me. Also, is it true that Outlanders are in heat all the time? How do you get anything done?
- Helen, daughter of Agamemna, Paladin: I pity them with all of my heart. They are caught in the ancient lies of Zzabur, trapped in the belief that if they make the slightest mistake, they damn themselves to aging and death, forced to play the same role for eternity. Or they will cease to exist. They desperately need the wisdom of our faith, but they will not listen. That being said, as they leave other nations alone, we leave them alone. We have bigger problems.
- "Theophilus", Rokari Preacher: It is like seeing your grandfather gradually go senile; he will not listen to others and insists on rushing towards a cliff. We have learned much from them, but they refuse to accept the wisdom of the Sharp Abiding Book. They live in misery, when they could rest content in the knowledge of Solace after death. And they need to restrain their wizards.
- Antonio Franchescos, Merchant of the Quinpolic League: Rigid and not very open to trade. Get in, do your business, get out, before they decide you broke a rule and do something terrible to you. And to be honest, they don't have much to offer for our goods anyway. Laufol is a beautiful, clean, well-organized city. But probably not worth your time, though sometimes they will massively overpay for things. Some weird rule of Zzzzabon or whatever his name is.
- Herbot Rajavi, Carmanian Initiate of Etryes and Merchant: It's like a living museum of the past; it's *fascinating*. You can make amazing deals here, just follow their orders. The time will come for us to enlighten them, but that day will likely be long after I die. If you want a laugh, there is a 'Museum of Foreign Things'; some Lunars would be enraged by the exhibit on us, but I found it hilarious. It did make me wonder how well I understand places like Kralorela, though. Maybe they didn't mate with mer-people during the Closing so they could reach their off-shore island holdings.
- Harrek the Berserk, Leader of the Wolf Pirates: Their soldiers are pathetic. I could have killed a dozen when I was *five*. I should have. Like Loksalm, though, killing them would be boring. However, their magics do compensate for this; my crew absolutely refused to try to raid Varthulwal, because the last time they tried, the whole fleet turned on each other and slaughtered each other. So I will have to wait and deal with them later.
- Handfast, son of Wycliff, Windlord of Orlanth : The West at its worse, where everyone is the slave of wizards and basically are zombies, who go on until they are killed, so long as they repeat the same things forever. The Lunars must be dealt with first, but eventually, this place must be destroyed and the people freed fron their slavery.
With Brithos itself vanished, Arolanit is one of very few places left which still follow ancient Brithini ways. Rigid adherance to caste enables the inhabits of Arolanit to live forever unless killed. Given they believe that you cease to exist as a distinct person, your materia (tiny particles which make up all matter, each connected to a rune) dispersing back into nature, they try very hard to avoid situations where they might die. The Soldier Caste is regarded as the unluckiest one to be born into, even if they have authority over Commoners, simply because they must risk their lives for the rest. (Conversely, though, Soldiers are hard to kill.) Arolanit employs mercenaries, golems, etc, as much as it can in order to minimize risk, since death means annihilation.
There are four castes, each having authority over the one below it, for men. Women belong to a fifth caste with special duties.
- Nobles: The smallest of the castes, nobles oversee everyone else, administering the government and choosing the highest officials from among their ranks. They make up only 1 out of every 100 male Arolani. They live lives of luxury if successful; failure leads to demotion down the ladder of honors.
- Wizards: About 2 out of every 100 male Arolani is a wizard. They study ancient grimoires and advance the art of magic. They play an important role in war because their magic helps ensure those soldiers who hold to the ideal order will survive. They have a duty to serve the public with their powers but generally live magic-enabled lives of luxury in the process.
- Soldier: In peace, soldiers live well if not as well as the upper two castes; this is in recognition that they must risk their lives on the battlefield. Ten out of every hundred male Arolani are of this caste.
- Commoners: 87 out of every male 100 Arolani are of this caste. They work the hardest and have the least luxury but they also have no responsibilities beyond working and paying their taxes. They do not have to serve the state in other ways unless paid to do so. Admittedly, those taxes can be harsh. In emergencies, they may be called on to perform free labor.
- Women: Women typically train in the same tasks as their husbands, providing support services. But since women do not belong to the male castes, they may marry into any caste. They are under their father's authority when a child, their husband when married, and their eldest brother if widowed. If a woman has no male kin, she is under the authority of the local magistrate. Women must obey those of higher caste than their husband/father/brothers, but not men of lower caste, and they have to obey their husband/father/brothers as appropriate. Or the magistrate. Women may order their children around, subject to their father's approval, until they come of age. Women who give proper obedience gain women's magic, which helps them to perform appropriate support service tasks. Women also gain healing and child care magic, regardless of caste.
Arolanit is ruled by a High Council elected by the Nobles; each city's nobles elect their own council and the high council appoints governors for the rural districts. The Wizard Caste is organized into Schools of magic which govern themselves, subject to noble oversight; the army's top officers are chosen by the High Council and they determine promotion within military ranks. Commoners form guilds and village communes.
Ironically for a nation of fixed castes, Arolani are eager for distinction and fame and promotion within their caste. To sit on the High Council, to be the Chancellor of a School of Wizardry, to command as a Marshal or to be Guildmaster or Village Mayor is something everyone wants. Even women compete in terms of the status of their husband and children and their accomplishments, their own skill with women's magic, and so on.
They are also eager for knowledge; they believe once they know everything, the world can be returned to its primal purity. Danmalstan can be remade! Most Arolani never leave their home but those who do are hungry to learn about the world.
The Arolani have no religion; the creator is an impersonal force and all gods, spirits, etc, are just particularly powerful mortals, unworthy of worship. They revere Zzazabur for his skill as a wizard but don't worship him, and they regard Malkion as a fool and his followers as bigger fools. He would be alive now if he'd stuck to the truth!
While major magics are restricted to the Wizard caste, every caste has its own petty magics which they gain through devotion to their caste duties. Those elected to high station within the caste have somewhat stronger powers. Women have their own magics as noted above.
The Arolani tightly restrict access to their homeland because the presence of people who don't follow their way damages their magics. Mercenaries must follow rigid rules or be fired without pay and foreigners may only visit Laufol the Open City. (Yet, at the same time, foreigners fascinate them. This often leads to trouble.)
Places of Note
- Laufol the Open City (50,000): Those curious about outsiders move here where they can meet real outsiders; it's a risky move because sometimes you start aging! No one is allowed to stay too long; it's too risky. But Arolanit needs things from the outside, like metals, so it must trade. Outsiders are restricted here but can make fantastic deals. The city is a perfect circle cut in half by the river with a grid street design; five major roads run north and south; eight major roads run west-east and two major roads run NE-SW and NW-SE. The port proper is outside the walls and sprawls along the shore; it has permanent 'foreigner' residents and only the most curious citizens of Arolanit ever enter it, as their magics are weakest there.
- Tower of Movement (8,000): This fortress is shaped like the Movement Rune and currently sits next to a riverport town which benefits from its presence; however, unlike the other Towers, it can move around the countryside at high speed, though this is rarely done, requiring a lot of wizards to work together. Mainly, it benefits transportation magics over a sixty mile radius. This especially helps to patrol the border region it oversees.
- Tower of Truth (5,000): This fortress is shaped like the Truth Rune and has small towns in the three angles. It is a major center of book production and scholarship and the Order of High Wisdom runs the tower. It radiates powerful benefits to truth magics over a sixty mile radius. This has been especially useful in dealing with raids from Guhan as the light of truth cuts through darkness. Only order members may enter the tower but others may consult with them at the schools in town.
- Varthulwal (11,000): This port is closed to foreigners, except for those of Brithini descent. It is most famous for a gigantic lodestone which guides Arolanit ships; it is rumored to have other powers as well.
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