The Holy Kingdom of Seshnela
[The Holy Kingdom of Seshnela]
- Markoul, son of Meginhard, Shepherd - Commoner: Why, hello, sir. I am Markoul, son of Meginherd, one of the good folk of the village of Carcaslean. Most of us grow rice and sugar beets, but everyone needs sheep and as one of the young men of the village, it's my job to keep them from doing anything stupid. Sheep are not very bright, but at least it's easy to herd them with the help of our dogs. Is it true the Orlanthi ate all their dogs? I live a quiet, peaceful life with my family; the Count takes good care of us and the Aralanits are good neighbors; they're all crazy but they keep their crazy on their side of the border. I went to the border once, when I was even younger and foolish. There's only one village north of us; you can't see the border, but there are walking statues patrolling it. They pointed bows at me, so I ran away. It looks just the same as our land, though; I even saw farmers tending a rice paddy! They ran away when they saw me, though. I've heard rumors the King wants to conquer Kustria, but it won't affect us. We pay our taxes, go to services once a week, and live our lives in peace. Have you ever seen a wizard? I heard one ruled our village long, long ago, but... well, I guess they must go up and down the road, but you'd think... I know they're dangerous but the Church keeps them on a leash now. We have a Lector; the old Priest managed to fall down a well somehow and they sent us a freshly frocked Wise One; eventually, he'll grow in faith and become a Priest. We share a Knight with two other villages; Sir Maurice lives in Toulden, down on the big road to the North March. Anyway, sir, I hope you enjoy your visit.
- Fourth Sword Philibert, Son of Suger - Soldier: Some Soldiers get cushy postings; not me. I'm stuck in Bellac on the border with the Haunted Forest. If I didn't have such strong faith, I would have gone mad like my predecessor or been eaten by a tree like his predecessor. The Church needs to do something about this forest. Isn't that what the Wise Ones are for? Crushing krjalki and so on? I have a wife and kids, but I only get to see them on leave. The good news is that they get to live in Leon-Narsas in an apartment they don't have to share with anyone else. Fortunately, I have my trusty steed Hildegarde, who can take me home quickly during my precious leavetime in Dark Season, even if it means cold weather. Yes, she's a deer. Half the Muster-Men in this fort ride a deer, like our ancestors did. You have a problem with that? You can talk to the Chaplain. I am one of the Faithful, dammit. And so are our Duck archers, so you can take your bad attitude elsewhere. This interview is over.
- Father Walaric, Priest - Wise One: I was born a noble, but the Church called me to this duty. I resisted at first, but I have come to embrace the peace the Church brings to us when we know our place and role and do it. My Father Hubert was a knight in the County of Deu, but sadly, I was sent off to Estaurenic and here I will likely remain until I die, but I am not bitter at all. This county is a hellhole. The nobles have basically reduced the Count to impotence, the commoners whine about not being allowed to change caste and claim the Sharp Abiding Book is evil, the serfs look like they would slash your throat with a straight razor, and the soldiers like killing people too much. Their duty is to fight, not to butcher people. But RestDay? services and my other holy work keeps me sane. That being said, this is the one land of the true faith and if I left, I would be surrounded by heretics who are even worse than this, especially the smug rule-breakers of Loksalm, who openly serve evil and indulge their every terrible whim. I've heard they consort with sheep and demons too. Solace waits for me if I am faithful. I must remember this.
- Sir Willibard of the House of Arakas, Knight of the March of Rusine - Knight: The first priority ought to be wiping out all life in Pralorela; the Hsunchen are nothing but feral animals who ride other animals and murder, rape, and steal. We have rich lands, but we have to heard cattle, pigs, and sheep because crops all get burned or stolen. I can't trust the ones who have allegedly converted to the True Faith. They're all animals. I suppose conquering Kustria would open new land for those who fought, but I would rather see our *real* enemies die. Kustria can wait. *Sighs* I am sorry, there is more to us than war, but we are not a *March* for nothing. We stand against the darkness in ways most of the country does not. The Loksalmi? Heretics, but who cares? They don't attack us and these filthy Krajalki do. During those seasons where weather blocks invasion, my wife and I both love to paint. Our daughter Maricia has a real talent for it, like her mother. My dear Hodierna is a cultured woman of refinement; her father was from Ayen. Our parents arranged the marriage and I have no regrets. Chivalry? HAHAHAHAHA. Only idiots believe in that. War is about killing. I earn my right to live well by using my strength to defend others and by my cunning. The Pralorelans would eat us alive if we did not treat them like rabid weasels to be wiped out. All Krajalki are rebels against the Invisible God, the result of the Eran... whatever they are called, interbreeding with animals. Killing them is no different than killing a cow. No different at all. Arolanit 'nobles'? Fakes. If they won't fight, they are just fat parasites and should be made to be serfs. Lazy scum. But as long as Arolanit doesn't invade, we have bigger fish to fry.
- Magritte, Wife of Meginhard - Woman: I dreamed of marrying a noble and leaving this village, even though the Church frowns on such things. But I have come to accept my fate with the aid of our Priest. Our old Priest. Father Otker was trying to bless a well and somehow fell down it and died, so we filled the well with rocks and a visiting Priest sealed it just to be sure. So whatever caused him to fall in cannot hurt us. I wish my husband was a little more ambitious, but I think he will grow rice until he dies. His Uncle, Wichmann, is Mayor of the Town but he's content to just rule some sheep fields and rice paddies. He just gets sulky when I try to push him. Still, we have a safe, peaceful life, unlike some country folk, so I guess I shouldn't complain. The Church watches over us, as does our Knight and we live our lives. We live our lives.
- Nayden, son of Vyaroslan - Serf of Sir Willibard: The Seshnelans are thieves and murderers, who stole our land and enslaved us. But soon, Arkat will return. He will slay them, and we will feast on their entrails. Night will fall and the knights will die. *laughs bitterly*. Then they will get to find out their invisible god doesn't exist and demons from the hells will take their souls and we will laugh. Soon, bottom rail on top. *sees Sir Willibard coming, bows to him* Hello, Sir Willibard, just telling these visitors about how we grow garlic. It keeps the vampires away. The baliff is down on the South 400, sir. There's some kind of problem with the squash. I wouldn't know, I grow garlic and tend the orchards, sir. *Sir Willibard leaves* Arkat will kill the vampires like he did before. We never *had* vampires before the Seshnelans came and ruined anything. Bastards. I hope they drink all his blood.
- Sir Charlie of the House of Qualvois, Duck Knight of Duck March - Knight: There is no knight more valiant than I in all of this land! My faithful giant toad steed Gisella and I have cast down many foes in the twelve battles we have fought and endless personal battles. I roam the roads of Duck March, administering justice and aiding those in need. And helping to collect tribute for the Marquess, of course, as is our due. Commoners exist to support us; we exist to protect them, along with the Muster-Men. Why yes, I have fought Dragonnewts; they are most formidable but basically crazy. The dangerous kind. I understand they were once high, wise mystics and so on but now they squat in a swamp, eating things raw and boiling out of their shithole to steal and rob and kill. We are grateful to Balifes for bring us into his kingdom and giving us respect and protection. My loyalty to our Marquess and the King is unbreakable! Nolos? A bunch of traitors, ripe for conquest; they are foolishly obsessed with money; no true noble worries about money! I don't know why we don't just roll over them in a cleansing storm! QUAACK!
- Markalan, Governor of The Open City: Why half-way follow the Laws of Zzabur? It doesn't work. We follow the Laws because they are the best way to live, which grants life eternal and bounty in this world. They bungle it, with their 'Church' and the way they keep their wizards in cages and how their nobles break caste by stacking bodies like cordwood. Even the Commoners don't do it right, though they come the closest. Instead, they combine the worst parts of the mistakes of Theism with homocidal mania. If they invade us, they will regret it. But so will I, as many Soldiers will have to die, and when you die, you cease to exist. This 'Solace' they speak of is a lie, or else our Wizards could travel to it, as they travel to other places beyond the Veil. Their cooking is rather tasty, I will admit.
- Helen, daughter of Agamemna, Paladin: The Rokari basically cling to evil like a warm, comforting blanket. The Abiding Book was evil and had to be rejected; they claim to have cleansed it, but if you cleanse a demon and he's still alive, then you haven't really done the job. This leads to endless heresies which deny them the Joy of the Heart and will deny them Solace in death. However, the Rokari are no real threat to us, not when the Kingdom of War is breathing down their necks. Their 'nobles' are oppressive, their 'wise ones' tell lies, and they invented an entire caste of 'serfs' in order to violate Holy Law by having *slaves*. There's no point in going there, unless you really MUST have cheese on everything and drink terrible wine. Worthless.
- Antonio Franchescos, Merchant of the Quinpolic League: The thing about Seshnela is that they range from absolute true believers to the nominally faithful to those who use the Rokari faith for power to outright heretics, secret or public. The heart of their culture is that once you know what you want, you do whatever you can to get it. Victory is all. But so is loyalty to those above you; these instincts sometimes compete. We make a killing selling weapons to Estaurenic and hiring out mercenaries; the locals murder each other and our border is safe. If they ever brought their full strength to bear on us, we would be crushed, but with such a huge border and so many enemies and a clumsy government run by people who were barbarians originally, they can't bring that strength to bear. Vogai hates us, but can't throw more than half their army at us and their King has other projects on his mind. So they raid and die, then we raid and loot more of their wealth. Idiots. Still, if you have good manners, you can make good money here; they make good goods, produce lots of food and raw materials, and their literature is actually pretty entertaining for a country where most people can't read.
- Herbot Rajavi, Carmanian Initiate of Etryes and Merchant: The Sharp Abiding Book... hahahaha. He 'purified' it, riiiiiight. One day, the Red Goddess will heal their stupidity. In the meantime, you can make good money here by playing to their prejudices. They are very touchy, so do not hesitate to grovel. Pride is the enemy of profit, Etryes teaches. Their merchants are bound by holy laws; learn those laws and abuse them to your benefit. And a warning; they do not have Dart Wars. When they get angry, they may try to kill you on the spot and if that fails, they will come at you with an army... or at least a squad. As a foreigner, you are bound by special laws too; use those to your advantage, like the way you can carry a sword when their merchants cannot. *For defense*. I emphasize, never start the violence because they wisely believe the best way to end violence is to turn you into a rotting corpse by superior numbers, sniping you in the back, poisoning your food, etc. There are *no* rules of war here except 'obey those higher in rank' and 'kill kill kill'. I respect that. Etryes teaches there is more profit in business than war, but my ancestors taught us that enemies are for killing, unless they surrender.
- Harrek the Berserk, Leader of the Wolf Pirates: Their 'navy' is hilarious. The looks on their faces when I slaughtered those idiots! I laughed for days. Watching their 'knights' drown because they were dumb enough to wear heavy armor to sea... the confusion on the looks of their sailors when someone stabbed them, their muster-men... fought bravely. They were weak, but they died like men. Their priests were too cowardly to... wait, what, Gunda? Those idiots waving necklaces at me were priests? I thought they were trying to bribe me to spare them. *studies a necklace he is wearing* So each gem lets you Heroquest to one of the trials their founder underwent? Hah! I could use it to kill their Hero-Founder! Excellent. Gunda, take this to Marek and have him figure out how to do it. Perhaps this 'Rokar' can give me a real fight and if not, I will find a use for him. Don't bother stealing their food, by the way, unless you enjoy gas, though the wine is okay if you can't get decent ale or beer.
- Handfast, son of Wycliff, Windlord of Orlanth : Like too many Westerners, they are slaves of a book and reject real gods for one they made up. That being said, there is endless excitement to be had here. Every knight on the road will attack you, there are monsters to fight and beautiful women to sleep with, mysteries to explore, and strange creatures to try riding. The climate is good, the men are proud and strong, they have rich treasures, and you can travel quickly on their fine roads. Why not visit Seshnela? I certainly had a great time.
- Population: 1,585,195. Of that, about 120,000 are Ducks and another 70,000 or so are Hsunchen who have converted to the Rokari faith.
Rising from the ruins of a fallen kingdom and their own past failures, the leaders of the Holy Kingdom of Seshnela see themselves as the rightful rulers of the world, determined to unite the world under One God, One Kingdom, one Faith. The Rokari Church is the one true Church and the faith must be brought to all humans and Hsunchen (everyone else is a wicked monster who must die). By force if reason cannot prevail. The Revolt of the Runes must be brought to an end and the world reunited in truth that the Golden Age might return. GOD WILLS IT!
Malkioni moved into this region during the Dawn Age, sometimes succumbing to Pagan wickedness and even worshiping spirits! Then the Stygian Empire spread its evil across the land, tempting people into worse things like relations with non human monsters! Especially trolls. But the Middle Sea Empire crushed the monsters and the pagans and united the lands in peace. But power tempted them and they rejected the true faith in favor of the power-seeking lies of the God-Learners. This shows that Wizards must be kept on a short leash or like the Runes, they will revolt.
Eventually, the wizards led the empire to its doom and the oceans were closed and the Luatha destroyed much of the land with earthquakes and left other areas cursed like the Sword Coast. Worse, the Orlanthi of Jorstland in Ralios now flooded into the region and for a time, ruled it with their madness and barbarism, tearing down good churches and building shrines to demons like Horlanth, Whomakt, and the insane god of berserkers, Urine-Ox. Disgusting. But they became decadent and overambitious at once; Nolos, Arolanit, and Guhan formed an alliance of traitors, atheists, and monsters to destroy Jorstland; it is hard to be sure which side is worse in such a struggle.
Into this chaos came the Prophet Rokar, bearing the true word of the Creator and calling us back to the old ways the God-Learners had profaned. At first, his call fell on fallow ground, but slowly, the true faith spread despite his betrayal and death. The Kingdom of Tanisor was founded by those who had survived Jorstlander rule but it was weak; many Orlanthi remained as subjects of the crown, corrupting it from within and the Orthodox Hrestoli Church had fallen into despair and weakness, while the Rokari church was not yet strong enough to lead the nation. By the mid-1300s, the country had descended into feudal anarchy as knights fought for power and even the higher nobles grew feeble, so weak that Ducks actually took over part of the land and the King could not stop them. Dragonnewts and Elves raided at will and the Dwarves of the Iron Mountains sold Iron only to the land's enemies.
Then came Balifes the Hammer (r. 1398-1432). His ancestors had built the strength of the Duchy of Bellesori. Now he turned south and shattered the southern nobles at the Battle of the Asgolian Fields, forcing the Southern Lords to kneel to him. Aided by the Rokari church, he overcame heretics and Orlanthi rebels and treacherous northern lords at the Battle of LePlain?, then gave the city to the head of the Rokari church. The Ducks swore to him and aided him in turning back a horde of Pralorelan hsunchen pagan warriors. He was crowned the first King of New Seshnela and ruled justly and well.
His successors extended the Kingdom into Safelester and forced the Sword Coast to swear; the Dwarves of the Iron Mountains now ceased to sell iron to the enemies of the land. King Vikard of the Tourneys, however, first was crushed when he tried to invade Arolanit and then frittered away the resources of the crown on his obsession with tournaments, a decadent custom from Fronela, rejected by all true Rokari. The power of the kingdom declined; the traitors of Nolos revolted entirely and many other regions had only a loose allegiance. City by city, Safelester broke away.
Lofting IV (1590-1603) began the revival of the Kingdom. As lines of nobles wiped themselves out in pointless wars, he replaced empty seats with his own appointees, known as ballis, who would rule by royal appointment with non-hereditary power. He also presided over church reform to cleanse the church of corruption, fueling a new generation of crusaders and better educated priests. King Guilmarn the Imposing (1603 to now) has continued this trend and while his power is still limited by the mightier nobles, he is the strongest power in the Kingdom. Further, he has proclaimed his intent to force the Safelestrans to kneel as they did to his ancestors. The Creator has smote them so that they will squabble endlessly with each other, for they have fallen back into heretical and even pagan ways.
Ecclesiarch Theoblanc was a major figure of the Cleansing (the recent religious reformation); he has brought rebellious priestly orders to heel, forced the wizards back into submission, and purged the church of heresy and weakness. Some issues remain controversial, such as the limits he has put on the Order of Saint Elleish and his general efforts to more thoroughly control wizards, but he understands women and wizards are meant to submit to their rightful masters.
Perhaps the greatest benefit of the new regime to the general populace has been the appointment of Royal Sheriffs who oversee the King's justice and the feudal courts. Combined with the Royal Inspectors, a new age of justice for all has come; Rokari law is harsh but fair and the Church's magic ensures only the guilty are punished. Arbitary tolls have been curbed on the roads and free transit for all subjects of the king established. Even the serfs live better now and know their few rights will be protected.
Seshnelan society is divided into five castes for men and one for free women, all of which are rigid and hereditary. Only the Wise may use spell magic, but the other castes learn magically enhanced skills (basic magic) taught by their caste, which depends on adhering to its rules:
- Knights: Military service is part of nobility; Knights are the cavalry and the leaders of society. To be a knight is to be born with a sword in your hand and to die with it either in your hand or stuck through you. Ironically, only knights can change their birth caste; those who commit treason are stripped of their caste and become serfs. Knights CAN rise however in their rank within the Caste. There are roughly 1 Knight per 1000 people. Combined with children and spouses, the Knight Caste makes up .5% of the population
- Duke: Children of the King hold this title and the heir to the throne is the Duke of Bellesori until he takes the throne. All lines of non-royal Duke have gone traitor or died out.
- Count: There are five counts; the title is hereditary in the male line; any child of a Count holds the rank of Baron as an honor title.
- Marquis: There are three Marquis but this is a non-hereditary title, appointed for life by the King when the previous dies. They have additional military duties. The Duck March picks its own leader who then is given the title by the King.
- Baron: There are four secular Barons and two Baron-Abbots who head knightly orders. The child of a Baron is merely a knight.
- Knight: Knights swear fealty to a higher lord and hold land for military service; some are personal bodyguards known as household knights.
- The Wise: The Wise are celibate and do not marry; you are born into the caste by physical birth into another; when you are seven, the local priest studies you and sends you to become a priest, monk, or wizard. Some monks are holy warriors known as holy knights. Most of the Wise are men but some women are called to serve either the Order of Saint Elleish (as a holy warrior) or the Order of Saint Menena (as a holy nun who does charitable work). Only the Wise may use spell magic, but they may (and do) bless other castes in their holy duties. Wizards are tightly monitored but some 20% of the Wise join a scholarly order and study the grimoires approved by the Church, learning every kind of magic. There are no female wizards. There is roughly 1 Wise per 100 people.
- Muster-Men: Muster-Men are professional soldiers and their families, supported by the commoners and serfs. They are not knights as they have no authority over the commoners and serfs beyond collecting the tribute due them from those groups each year. Rather, they fight on foot to support the Knights in war. There is 1 muster-man per 100 people; they make up 5% of society once you add children and spouses. Muster-men may have a rank which grants them authority over other Muster-Men.
- First Sword: Can command over 10,000 men. Only the King can raise you to this rank.
- Second Sword: Can command 1,000 men. Only a Duke can raise you to this rank.
- Third Sword: Can command 100 men. Only a Baron or higher can raise you to this rank.
- Fourth Sword: Can command 10 men. Any Noble may grant this rank.
- Fifth Sword: An experienced soldier; they are paid more, but have no authority over Sixth Swords.
- Sixth Sword: A novice soldier.
- Women: All free women belong to the same caste; they are subject to the rule of free men, though only a noble may override their husband or father's commands. However, serfs are subject to them. A free woman may marry any free man.
- Serfs: Criminals and those of Orlanthi descent fill this caste; they are bound to the land and must serve whoever holds that land, providing a cut of their crop and traditional labor regulations. They are not slaves however; they may be beaten (and only by their lord!) only when they break these obligations and they may not be killed; to kill a serf is murder just like killing a free man. In some ways it is worse as the guilty party will be hung *and* has to pay compensation to the rightful lord. Serfs cannot own land but can own other property. Those who commit grievious but non-lethal crimes are made into serfs. They make up 30% of society.
Knights wear bronze scale armor and ride powerful horses, fighting from horseback with melee weapons; they are most noted for their lance charges. Muster-Men fight on foot with either ranged weapons or melee weapons, usually longbows and pikes respectively. Small forces of priests and holy knights ride to war with the royal armies.
The Barony of Ayen
- Population: 92,168
- Military: 92 knights on destriers, 500 pikemen, 420 longbowmen
Fertile fields and trade keep this barony wealthy and prosperous, though Baron Ludvich III is eager to create a canal between Misorek and Ayen which would enable him to tap the huge trade on the Tanier River. Unfortunately, North March is not cooperative with his dreams. Still, he is noted for his employment of water-sorcerors and priests. This has made life easier for those who use the Plaquet river; within range of the Cathedral of Ayen, water magic is boosted and the river is always perfectly calm even during a storm.
It also has transformed the diet of the barony; especially close to the capital, any water source *teems* with fish and seafood which normally needs salt water flourishes here! Rice production is up and most meals are some mix of fish or seafoods with rice and pickled vegetables.
Most of the serfs are sullen Orlanthi who can't appreciate they are safer and better fed than wild Orlanthi. And less damned, thanks to the efforts of the Church! They attend every holy day with only a little prodding.
- Ayen (9,000): Devastated by a flood which killed the previous Baron, the new Baron has rebuilt the city to resemble the Water Rune. The river flows through the middle of the rune and into two rune-shaped canals which jag back and forth to duplicate the rune. This has effectively created a new minor rune which only works inside the city itself but also helps the cathedral to amplify water magic. There are no bridges; you must use a boat or swim to cross the canals; the wealthiest folk live along the canals and have their own boats.
The Barony of Capet
- Population: 46,679
- Military: 46 knight-archers on heavy war deer, 360 shortbowmen mounted on light war deer, 100 skirmshers mounted on war llamas
Capet has always been at war with the Deer hsunchen and its inhabitants will firmly remind you they have no hsunchen ancestry at all and simply figured out how to train deer for war on their own by divine inspiration. They are good Malkioni who merely dress practically for the necessity of constantly dealing with raids by the *real* enemies of the Church, the filthy pagan Deer Hsunchen who live in Pralorela. They deserve to be given the lands of the lazy Barony of Hugot and their Baron promoted to Marquis status, given they have to do the duties of a March without the resources! It would only be fair.
Also, they want their statue of Hugh Capet IV back and now.
The Capetians raise llamas and deer, using them to mount effective counter-raids against the Pralorelans; llama riders eat deer meet and vice-versa but not their own mount type. When they can afford meat. They also raise cattle in the western part of the state; Capetians love to eat beef or pork and are noted for slow grilling meat in pits when they can. Every knight holds a feast for his peasants and serfs once a year, the pig-roast, held in the cold of Darkness season, it revives everyone's spirits.
Most of the serfs are Hsunchen, enabled/compelled to live on vegetables by the holy power of the Church.
- Auxilli (8,000): Perched on the side of a mountain, Auxilli rises above the hills and everything is done here with llamas instead of horses or oxen. Llama carts can be rented cheaply by travellers who find it less exhausting than constantly walking uphill all the time. Despite being the Baronial capital it has very little grandeur except for a wonderful view and it smells terrible. The caravanaseries serve the most delectable pit-cooked deer you will ever have anywhere, though. The local Cathedral is focused to Beast Magic but has a rather weak 10 mile radius.
The Barony of Geriant (Lands of the Order of Saint Geriant)
- Population: 10,000 + Monsters
- Military: 100 holy knights and priests, 1000 pikemen
This Barony is held as a testing ground and base by the Order of Saint Geriant; it is supported by other lands held around the kingdom and a yearly subsidy from the Church. This enables a small population to support ten times as many knights as it normally could. The heart of the forest is infested with and spawns monsters and is used for testing the skills of the knights; holy power confines the monsters so they don't escape to ravage the land. Grand-Master Etienne du Sansi may well be the greatest Holy Knight in all of the Holy Kingdom of Seshnela, wielding Firebrand, a sword which gives him incredible power over fire. He only leaves the Master House in direst emergency, spending most of his time praying and training other knights. But when he does, monsters die. He is known to have slain a dream dragon by himself and to have defeated some thirty dark trolls alone. Only the Haunted Forest has ever defeated him; he was in a coma for six months after attempting a Heroquest to destroy it; he has not tried since; why is not known. He attempted to resign but the Ecclesiarch would not let him, so he remains in command and broadly respected; four previous Grand Masters had all died in the attempt and many had not even dared to try. You cannot fight the sea, they say. Yet are not all things possible with the Creator's grace? The cathedral here empowers all the weapons of the order with fire.
The Barony of Hugot
- Population: 73,921
- Military: 75 knights, 300 longbowmen, 450 pikemen
This is a prosperous barony, shielded from the frontier by the Order of Saint Talor and the Barony of Capet. This shield is not so strong as to mean there is always peace but it has enabled the land to prosper; the baron keeps calling, in fact, for him to be given Capet and made a Marquess. Baron Guillame is also noted as a master of hawking which he conducts in the tiny slivers of forest he has reserved for his pleasures; he keeps the land as cultivated as possible in order to maximize his income from rents and labor services. The Baron is religiously apathetic and his people are generally the same way.
The main interest of the Hugot folk is doing well and living well. Serfs grow cotton while the commoners grow food crops or work in Thiviers making craft goods. Even commoners wear colorful, comfortable clothing here and take an especial delight in hats which seem ludicrous to outsiders. The count has declared that commoners may only have two tiers, muster-men three, the wise four and nobles five tiers. In their hats. Serfs must wear single-tiered hats which they agree is a shameful thing and they loudly bemourn the necessity to wear simple caps. Why they sometimes snicker for no apparent reason when they think they are alone remains unclear but who knows how serfs think?
- Thiviers (10,000): If you like cotton cloth and dyes, this is your mecca. Fine cotton and linen clothing is made here and dyed many colors. Felt is shaped into hats as well; local hats don't export well and no one knows why. It is easy to tell anyone's caste by their hat even if you know nothing else of the system. Distinctive colors are worn to signify occupation.
The Barony of Limousin
- Population: 45,921
- Military: 45 knights, 250 pikemen, 200 longbowmen
Limousin has a long running feud with the Barony of Ayen; it usually gets the short end of the stick. Limousin is a center of fruit and berry production, producing an endless array of ciders, fruit brandies, jams, preserves, breads, and other products from the endless orchards and fields of berries. It is basically a quiet, peaceful land now that there are no more wars of baron against baron. The Rokari Church is accepted but not with great enthusiasm. It seems to work well to keep the peace and that's good enough. Really, all they want is a quiet life and something tasty for dinner.
- Parthenay (10,000): This city is sustained by trade; everyone comes here for fruit products and then sells theirs to the good folk of Limousin. The city smells of apples and pears and strawberries and there are endless places to eat off menus which obsessively focus on a particular fruit. Many folk here are mostly vegetarian because vegetables and fruit are cheap here and not much meat is raised in the barony.
The Barony of Talor (Lands of the Order of Saint Talor)
- Population: 11,634
- Military: 100 holy knights and priests, 1000 mounted shortbow skirmishers
These lands are where the master house of the order is located; it has other holdings elsewhere and receives support from the crown and the church; this enables it to support far more knights relative to the local population than is normally possible. The Barony is under constant pressure from raids from Pralorela; the result is that they have to be highly mobile; the holy knights wear less armor and often fight with bows instead of hand weapons and they make heavy use of mounted skirmishers. Every village of farmers is well fortified against raids. The cathedral radiates plant magics, turning the forest against invaders.
The County of Deu
- Population: 206,160
- Military: 100 holy knights, 100 knights, 1000 pikemen, 1100 archers.
The County of Deu is the patrimony of the Ecclesiarch of the Rokari Church, held by him and various monastic orders. The sheer holy power of the region makes it a cornucopia of farming produce; the Rokari church is very popular here due to the sheer amount of aid the common folk and even the serfs get from the Church; every harvest is a bumper crop, animals have huge litters of children and the rivers practically flow with milk, wine, and cheese. The air rings with prayers and the nights are lit with the burning of heretics and the light of faith. The county has few cities but is riddled with monasteries connected to villages. This is because most of the urban population lives in one city, LePlain?.
Thanks to the holy power, the weather is always mild and three crops a year can be harvested.
- LePlain? (45,000): Few cities can match the glory of the marble cathedrals of LePlain?. The city holds the Master Cathedral of the Rokari Church, which boosts all use of holy power within a hundred miles. The Cathedral of Saint Geriant boosts fire magics, the Cathedral of Saint Dormal water magics, the Cathedral of Saint Dromal boosts earth magics and the Cathedral of Saint Talor aids air magics across the County of Deu. Much of the city is glorious marble, and the rest is of a blue stone harvested in the fringe of the Iron Mountains and shipped down the river; it is the pride of the city that even the poor live in decent stone housing. River water circulates through a running water system and then wastes are flushed away downstream. The city is rife with minor shrines, priests and pilgrims and there is a huge business of making religious art in canvas, wood, stone, and metal.
The County of Estaurinc
- Population: 138,328
- Military: 138 knights, 400 heavy foot, 500 pikemen, 500 longbowmen
The County of Estaurinc seethes on the verge of some kind of rebellion. The county's lords overbear the hapless Count Fenwick, who is lord of little more than Azusances, his capital. The marcher lords skirmish with each other and Nolos constantly and with monsters from the Trachodon Marsh. The peasantry was largely forced into the Rokari church and yearns for a return to Orthodox Hrestolian ways and is often prone to getting busted down to serfdom for attacking nobles. And the serfs seem to be eying the frontiers like a rat eyes cheese. Even the local bishops are more focused on GETTING OUT than running the place. And the wizards? Who knows what they're doing in those 'schools' of theirs. Probably cavorting with Pagan goddesses like in the old days.
- Azusances (11,000): This city has seen better days; with the count's accounts in arrears and little more under his control than the region within about fifteen miles of the city, the city has to rely on trade to survive. Admittedly, it is well positioned to control important trade routes. The city has a small Duck community of traders from the Duck march; they are touchy and there are constant problems but the ducks keep the city well supplied with fish and leather. Further, the count has the firm support of the School of Aeolian Mysteries, which practices Wind and Beast magics; the city's cathedral, however, is attuned to Plant magic, making the vinyards around the city fertile; much of the Count's income comes from them.
The County of Noyelle
- Population: 111,983
- Military: 60 knights, 50 knights mounted on giant swamp lizards, 700 deer and giant lizard mounted skirmishers, 400 longbowmen
The County of Noyelle is keenly aware of the menace of the Haunted Forest and was eager to swear to King Balifes because it wanted help dealing with it. Its forces have evolved in unusual ways with far more emphasis on mobility and skirmishing capacity. Noyelle's folk are devout Rokari and attend church twice a week, though it tends to leave them somewhat fatigued. As a result, though, the land is remarkably free of monsters and horrors from the Haunted Forest and the ghosts of Bismol remain contained. But it makes them poorer than you'd expect. They'd rather eat meat just once a week and not die, though. Crusading Knights of Saint Talor are common... as common as such knights ever get, anyway. The Fortress of Bellac is held by them in fief from the Count and they have huge respect among the people.
Noyelle is nearly 30% Hsunchen in population, though they are faithful Malkioni. Most are deer and lizard hsunchen, though there are also Ducks here. They were once slaves of the Bismollian Lion Hsunchen. One of the effects of this is that there is a lot of animal herding, especially in the western and swampy regions. This enables easy evacuation if there is trouble. Indeed, much of the muster-men caste is made up of Hsunchen, riding their animal. This adds to the oddness of the County's military.
- Narbonne (35,000): This city is larger than you would expect for this county; the reason is that most of the rivers of the south and central counties flow down into this city; thus Narbonne is a major port of the kingdom despite being badly positioned with Kanthor's Islands and the Quinpolic League in the way of trade. Much of what passes for the navy is stationed here and needs support services. Ships which are *not Quinpolic ships at all, just look at the flags!* sail in and out, bringing and depositing goods which are not tainted by heresy AT ALL as the burghers of the city will reassure you at least five times a day. Tea is tea, right? A remarkably large number of Ducks dwell here; it has become apparent that they can sail through Kanthor's Islands unmolested and many joint human-Duck partnerships flourish here. It is well known that the *filthy heretics* of the Quinpolic League are very jealous of this and many have died horribly chasing the Ducks into Kanthor's Islands. And the Ducks most certainly are not engaged in any sort of covert trade with said Islands, nor are any faithful burghers funding such trade and that chair merely resembles mahogany due to the fine paint job, your grace. The Cathedral used to be devoted to Saint Dromal but now is devoted to Saint Dormal and provides Water magics within thirty miles of the city, due to the efforts of several groups of monks who hold nearly constant church services, then sleep a lot.
- Ruins of Bismol: Pagan Lion Hsunchen used to rule this land from this city. Other Hsunchen were their slaves. But the Return to Righteousness Crusade blew through here like the wrath of the Creator and burned the city to ash and salted the Earth. Nothing grows within 3 miles of the city. Even now. Any Lion Hsunchen quickly withers and dies. Indeed, very few still live in this land. The city was smashed so fast there are always rumors of treasures hidden under the city and at times people find them. And at others, the angry ghosts of the Bismollians rip them limb from limb. They especially hate Ducks for reasons which remain unclear to the public.
The County of Tanisor
- Population: 184,950
- Military: 200 knights, 600 skirmishers, 700 pikemen, 700 longbowmen. Half the Royal Navy is stationed here.
Like the Northern March, the population of this region is boosted by the river trade, and it is hugely prosperous. There are many outsiders here and problems with heresy and paganism are rife. But the taxes paid to the King seem to mysteriously somehow block inquisitors doing their job. Surely it can't be bribery. Someone really needs to let the King know of this! He surely would never tolerate heresy.
Tanisor is warm and muggy and even somewhat swampy in Storm Season. It is full of rice paddies, sugar beets, cucumbers, melons, squash, and beans. The populace is prosperous and well-dressed and generally inquisitive and optimistic. And somewhat prone to heretical ideas.
- Taniersonne (39,000): This city booms with energy and is constantly growing. Powerful water magics radiate from the Cathedral, guiding the ships in and out of the harbor. Several major canals criss-cross the city, shipping goods to and from craftshops which operate on grand scales. The city smells of wine and cheeses because everyone is prospering. Foreigners must live on Foreigner Island, though they can leave to pursue business; during daylight hours, most are out and about the city. Pagan churches are strictly not allowed but who knows what they do behind closed doors on the island. The city is full of frustrated inquisitors because they're not allowed onto Foreigner island. The city is noteworthy for its seafood diet; the standard meal is sliced fish or squid mixed with vegetables in a vinegary sauce on rice. Or a cheese sauce. Or, hey, both!
The County of Vogai
- Population: 164,953
- Military: 160 knights, 400 skirmishers, 700 pikemen, 500 longbowmen
Vogai is hot but dry, especially near the hills; a lot of the county is divided into ranches with few people and many cows. Skirmishes with Nolos are constant and usually go poorly, making the nobility rather cranky and touchy about their honor; they are eager for a war to crush Nolos and aspire to absorb enough of it to be granted Ducal status. Close trade ties with Estaurinc jockey with old rivalries. The locals follow the Rokari church but are not enthused about it, though they were never forced into it. There is a long distrust of wizards here and few live here by choice. The Order of Saint Geriant, however, is rather popular. Rice is a popular food, grown in the riverbottom, but most eat wheat and barley.
Raids from Kanthor's Isles have forced the building of watchtowers on the coast and the Count struggles to respond to the raids effectively.
- Nexon (32,000): This city flourishes from trade with the Quinpolic League, Fronela, and Wenelia, though it also struggles with the same over said trade. The city's merchants have a long running war of piracy ever since the Opening. The city has boomed with the return of sea trade and many live in overpriced, ramshackle housing. The Count is sponsoring a stronger navy to deal with raids from the Kanthor Islands. The city hums with trade and growth; despite crowding, ever more come every year.
- Vogal (12,000): Half the size of once small Nexon, Vogal is the capital of the County, home to one of three Bishops; the Cathedral here is sacred to Saint Geriant and radiates Combat (Mastery) magics. Unfortunately, this has made the city rather violent and it's a problem they still struggle with. Some people even take bets on street fighting, an abuse of the holy power!
The Duchy of Bellesori
- Population: 303,628
- Military: 300 knights, 1700 pikemen, 800 archers, 500 heavy foot
Even as far as Kralorela, this land is known for its fine weavers and especially its rugs. This is a bountiful land flowing with wealth and prosperity where contented herds of sheep and cattle graze and serfs grow crops in the hot sun. Endless fields of grapes become wine and grains become ale and vegetables dot the landscape in bursts of color. Cheeses are ubiquitous and the populace drowns everything in cheese sauce when possible. The finest cheeses come from the monasteries, of course. All is safe and peaceful under orderly royal rule, except on the western frontier where the Dwarves stand defiant in their mountains and strange horrors leak out of the Haunted Forest. But most people here have never been ten miles from home and Cluis could be on the Red Moon for all they know.
The King makes his home here in the mighty city of Segurane, the Diamond of the West and his ballis administer the orderly districts of the land while the Sheriffs provide justice. The land is free of heresies and paganism and nearly free of monsters. Everyone hopes that *something* can be done about the Haunted Forest but there's a certain sense that it's going to take a Miracle from the Creator to fix it. Everyone prays for that miracle on a regular basis.
- Segurane, the Diamond of the West (55,000): The largest city in Seshnela; the heart of the city is glittering marble, ringed by fine granite. The outer layers are rather ramshackle wood, where the poorest citizens dwell and the city-serfs, who do labor all day instead of raising crops, though a few grow luxuries for the king in the Royal Field. The city boulevards are lined with trees to give shade and are wide enough for two carts to pass each other; the great boulevards form a four by four grid with the royal palace at the center. Fine gold and silversmiths and jewel-workers dwell here on the north side and the east side of the city is overrun with cheese makers and the saleshops of the vinyards of the countryside. On the western side, scribes produce books in large numbers, driven by holy zeal. Shrines and churches dot the city and the second largest cathedral in the land, home to the Archbishop of Segurane, is found here. Clearly the greatest city of the greatest kingdom on Genertla, nay the world! Appropriately, the Order of Builders is found here, wizards who specialize in Earth and Architecture (Mastery) magics. They are the ones who enabled so much marble to be created, using their powers to transform mundane rock.
- Population: 94,920 (mostly ducks)
- Military: 94 heavily armored ducks on giant frogs, 20 duck wizards expert in the water and beast runes, 400 duck marines (leather armor on a ship, chainmail on land, crossbows, tridents and shields), 500 skirmishers (leather armor, short bows, spears and shields). The ducks can field a force of riverboats when desired.
As the Ducks of Dragon Pass have become Orlanthized, the Ducks of Seshnela have taken on Malkioni culture and adjusted it to their own circumstances. They retain their practice of tracking matrilineal descent and have their own patron saint, Saint Marlin, who persuaded the Ducks to bend knee to Balifes the Hammer instead of fighting him. Saint Marlin was a woman and Duck women can join her order, which practices Harmony, Fertility, and Water rune magics.
The Ducks insist on respect and are not adverse to playing the rules of life under the Rokari church to their benefit to ensure said respect. A human commoner who mouths off to a Duck knight will soon find himself in trouble. Many a human has lost his life or station by laughing at the wrong duck.
The Ducks love water and prefer to swim or go by boat when possible; their forces are most formidable in the water, though their leaping knights are well-feared; their steed can snare a foe with their tongue and hold it trapped for the rider to slay. The Rokari church supports this since they mock concepts of 'chivalry'.
- Chateau of the Ducks (16,000): This is the only sizable city in the Duck March; it sits on an island just off the coast of Duck Lake; the city stinks of cheese and fish and marsh muck and is filthy by human standards. Everything is on stilts, just to be sure and most never touch the ground, using raised walkways to travel. Only the constantly busy port is at ground level; the city is devoted to processing and preserving fish and various swamp creatures' meat and to the production of paper and papyrus from the swamp's endless reeds and wispy puffball bushes. (Found mainly here and in the Trachodon Marsh, puffball bushes produce something which resembles a giant dandelion but which can be processed and spun into a light but strong thread which makes good clothing for hot weather). Leather is another major product of the city and fishing gear. The Bishop of Duck Marsh has his Cathedral here and weekly services are packed. As you'd expect, the Cathedral specializes in water magics and its power is focused across the lake and some of the marsh to aid fishermen.
The March of Rusine
- Population: 65,376
- Military: 65 knights, 300 skirmishers, 350 longbowmen
The Marquess of Rusine, the Honorable Eugene Marchand, is heavily resented by every baron in the land; his land is no larger or stronger than many baronies but when the lands in Safelester were lost, his ancestor remained loyal and was rewarded with a higher title by a past king. He is constantly trying to prove himself to the rest of the nobility.
Deer hsunchen raiders from Taras and Llama hsunchen from the mountains are constant problems for the Mark and every village is fortified. There's a strong reliance here on herding because you can move herds to safety. But the mark struggles to flourish under the constant assaults, even with help from the King. There is a certain fatalism here about war. The locals are eager for the kingdom to expand so they don't have to be on the frontier.
- The Red Ruins: This is a strange ancient ruins made entirely of copper. It predates human arrival in the area; there is some reason to think Trolls built it; monsters lurk in the ruins and at times people still find strange powerful items made of copper. Everyone in Rusine knows the runes which indicate an item came from the ruins; many villages have two or three such items.
The Northern March
- Population: 135,742
- Military: 150 knights, 500 skirmishers, 400 pikemen, 500 longbowmen, 300 marines who operate on riverboats in the swamp
The Northern March has the job of guarding the border with Arolanit but also of controlling and protecting the huge trade which flows along the Tanier River. Huge revenues flow into the march's coffers from this trade and into the King's coffers. This allows an unusually large military force. This area grows large amounts of wheat and vegetables and produces wool clothing and blankets, paper, and preserved fish and exotic meats from the swamp. It is bustling and prosperous and actually pretty peaceful since Arolanit rarely initiates violence.
The Rokari Church is popular here as the presence of freaky Arolanit people nearby reminds everyone WIZARDS MUST BE KEPT ON A LEASH. Few wizards dwell here by choice but some are sent by the church to stiffen the military. They generally are cranky and hard to deal with, reinforcing the prejudice.
Small forts not marked on the map dot the border in case of invasion.
- Misorel (14,000): The Marquess' seat is not as big as you'd think because the locals have little to offer to traders in way of high-value goods, though there is a steady trade in the sale of staples to the traders and purchase of luxuries. More people have silk sheets or fancy dyes or ornately carven Kralorelan meal-sticks than you would expect in a town of this size and EVERYONE wants to show off their foreign-made goods because it shows they are prosperous. Misorel has an annual festival in which the common folk pelt wizards with rotten fruit. It is among the reasons wizards do not like this province.
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