[East Safelester Map]
Safelester is where the Orlanthi and Malkioni cultural zones meet and sometimes mingle; during the First Age, this was ruled first by the Bright Empire, then by the Stygian Empire of Arkat. In the second age, the Return to Rightness Crusade conquered the land for the Middle Sea Empire; in the third age, it is independent, often stubbornly so, where an ongoing debate over how lands should be governed may well be resolved by a Seshnelan conquest no one here actually wants. But if they can't unite, they'll fall, one by one.
Mainly Malkioni in culture, they remember Arkat fondly and the Autarchy he founded. A variety of splinter churches are found here, usually of Hrestoli descent; the Middle Sea Empire's version of the faith was rejected as a good way to die horribly as the Middle Sea Empire fell.
This is a shamanism society of the Hsunchen in Estali, Galin, Sentanos and Tiskos. It kept alive Hsunchen traditions when the power of the city of Partan blocked their shifting abilities and their spirit magics. Now they have both back and many wonder what they will do with it.
Notable Spirit Allies:
Lake Felster is sacred to the goddess Safa (Water, Fertility) who was once a triple-goddess, but all that remains is Safa, for her other two souls were slain in the Gbaji Wars. Safa survived by diving to the bottom of the Great Rift, while her other selves joined the two sides and both were slain. Lake Felster shrank tremendously as a result. Lake Felster teems with fish thanks to the efforts of her cult; her main temple is on an island next to the Great Rift, and all the nations of Safelester send sacrifices and people to staff the temple, for all need her good will. There was no Closing here, so trade has always flourished here.
The islands are all inhabited by fishermen and a handful of farmers. The largest island is found inside Estali, Storm-Death Island, where the tomb of Safa the Storm Goddess lays, slain by Gbaji's forces. There is a temple there, and fishermen on the coast; they must make sacrifices or storms trash everything. Only her anger yet lives but it cannot reach far. However, faithful sacrifice enables to command wind and weather to their benefit.
Arkat murdered Safa the Valiant and hid her tomb, though most are sure it must be on one of the islands. She is said to know many secrets if you can find her tomb and bargain for them, but to learn them is to earn the hate of all followers of Arkat. If they find out.
Lake Felster is divided into many areas of claims, but they largely only matter if a war erupts. None of the powers have a very strong navy at present, just some revenue ships and one or two warships.
Lake Felster does not freeze at all in the winter, even when snow covers all the land around it.
Population: 76,120 people
Long term conflict between two rich families has finally exploded into civil war. The Haskos and the Alcibadeans are at war and the archonate is torn between them with two rival councils of archons claiming supremacy. It is likely whoever wins will be conquered by a neighbor. The Haskos support the Rokari church, while the Alcibadeans cling to the traditional Orthodox Hrestoli church. There are rumors of Seshnelan covert support for the Haskos.
The Archon of Estal, Baltazar, wields the Purple Scepter of Serpentine Sentience, which enables him to see through the eyes of every snake in Estal. He is firmly allied to some of the Bismol lion clans and flourishes by his dominance of the caravan trade to Wenelia. He has to contend with a fractious city assembly but the wealth of the city has made them cooperative of late. He is known to be seeking a wife.
The Archonate follows the Orthodox Hrestoli Church. Borists and Galvosti can expect to be thrown to the lions.
Population: 244,720 people
Once Galin was a republic but it fell into chaos as the rich squabbled and bribed the poor with public funds, bread doles and festivals to get their votes. It was known as Koradin then and belonged to the Orthodox Hrestoli Church. But it had fallen into heresy and disorder as the caste system bent and twisted in the political conflicts. There was chaos and none could know the truth.
None but Elutheria the Inerrant. Women were banned from power but she knew this was a mistake for the Creator had shown her the truth during her periods of Joy of the Heart. She had been chosen by him to bring the truth to Galin and restore it to greatness. Saint Conwy, patron of wisdom, was her guide on her Heroquests and she returned, armed with the Inerrant Book, the *true* revelation of the creator, purified of centuries of accretion and changes made by God-Learners, fools, and the wicked. It was a very incarnation of the Truth Rune, and she proved that she was the child of Saint Conwy and the Essence Rune Lady of the Truth Rune (Isavel). Thrice she debated the folk of the city. Once the priests, once the nobles, and once a chosen champion of men, and showed herself their betters and her order divinely chosen.
Since that day, she has ruled here. When the Archonate of Sentanos sought to conquer her, her armies knew its secrets and defeated it in a bitter war. When the time came that Otkorion revolted, she sent both aid and missionaries to bring them to her truth; their rejection of it clearly did not sit well with her and only the danger of Sentanos, which sits on her flank like a wounded lion, likely has stayed her hand from retaliation.
There are three noted glosses on the Inerrant Book, each a grimoire: The True History (Truth), Prophecies of Malkion (Fate), and the Joy of the Light (Fire). A small order of wizard-priests and priestesses study each for their secrets and continually increase their knowledge. The Meditations of Saint Conwy form a fourth grimoire, studied by the priests of Conwy at the Shrine of Saint Conwy, which contains secrets of the Harmony rune.
Many years ago, western Safelester was ruled by King Ulianus, also king of Seshnela. He created a domain whose purpose it was to use chivalry to resolve disputes in Ralios; the Kingdom of Kustria is dedicated to holding yearly tournaments in which all men of valor may come and settle their differences with trial by combat; the Creator will surely guarantee that justice prevails! In recent years, the Loksalm Hrestoli Church has made great gains in the Kingdom and many consider it likely full conversion will come soon. Janus de Chevalier is the Tournament King of Kustria, ruling from the Joyful Chateau.
It is mostly off the map to the west.
Population: 169,120 people
Long ago, the city struck a balance between the nobles and the merchants by allowing the nobles to select a Doge who controls the executive while the Council of Trade controls trade policy, taxes, and laws. Wizards are not allowed to hold political power or wealth but are subsidized by the state and commit part of their time to it. The nobles and merchants own the land and rent it out to tenant farmers. Any commoner may join the military, but cannot rise further in society unless adopted into a merchant family or a noble one. Religiously, they follow Arkatic Malkionism; friendly trolls dwell under the southern hills.
Unfortunately, there was an outbreak of Nysalorian Riddlers in the city-state recently and the result was chaos and death and disorder; order has been restored but many are dead or insane and others have fled the Dogiate to avoid infection. Everyone warily eyes their neighbor for fear some innocent seeming question might infect them with Gbaji's foul taint. Now there is an Inquisition trying to root out any hidden ones and no one is happy with that.
Population: 159,432 people
Helby maintains a system in which wizard-priests are the highest caste (the caste of Darkness), men of honor (landowners and warriors) the second caste (Air), men of wealth the third caste (Water), men of labor the fourth caste (Earth), and men of servitude (slaves, Fire) the fifth caste. Hsunchen and humans are equal, for Helby was the land where reliance on fishing kept men from hunting, so they and the beasts remained friends. Gbaji stole the Fifty Fishes, forcing Helbyans to hunt and farm, but they have retained some of this friendship. Men are born into all other castes, but may rise by meeting the standards of the caste; many are not born wizards but rise through education. Only wizards may hold the highest offices, men of honor the middling and men of wealth the lowest. But all men of the third caste and above vote for all offices and men of the fourth caste are given a say in the Assembly.
Five Archons, who must be wizards, lead the republic in the Council of Five. Three are human, two are hsunchen.
The Republic follows the Church of Helby:
Population: 126,320 people
For a long time, these lands groaned under the oppression of the powerful Autocracy of Sentanos; many of its Orlanthi folk were Tapped by the Sentaros folk for personal gain, which outraged the faithful Malkioni. Further, said faithful were oppressed with labor and money and goods taxes. The two groups drew closer together, and then Archbishop Surantyr went on a Heroquest with a priest of Orlanth, a priestess of Ernalda, a Paladin of Arkat and a Paladin of Saint Geriant. Their epic quest proved the unity of their peoples and brought back the Five-Fold Revelations, which laid out the foundation of the Henotheist Church of Otkorion. The Creator made the Gods to rule the world as his agents, having created the world and stepped back. But the Emperor of the Gods went bad and invited in Chaos; he was thus struck down by a group of gods led by Orlanth. But this plunged the world into darkness, so he and the Lightbringers had to find where the Invisible God dwelled and convince him to intervene. He made Orlanth King of the Gods, rebuilt the world and raised the Sun. And so we worship the divine governors of the world, put in place as intermediaries by the Invisible God, but we must always give worship to the Creator as well and remember that in the end, Orlanth answers to him and to the Council which advises him; he is first among the gods, not an absolute tyrant. Pagans and Spiritualists must be made to understand the truth for their own good, or they will be stuck in the City of Twilight if good, or destroyed in the fires of the hells if wicked. But it is not our job to decide their fate, merely to encourage them to the truth.
Armed with the Five-Fold Revelations, they sent emissaries to organize a revolt against the Sentanos forces. Many were wary to join them but many came and the combined army shattered the Sentanos forces at the Battle of Five Storms. Now the Archbishopric is a flourishing state under the Archbishop's leadership.
Population: 126,320 people + 2000 Dark Trolls + 2,000 Cave Trolls + 20,000 Trollkin
Until the Battle of the Five Storms, Marost was an ordinary state practicing Arkatic Malkionism and subject to paying tribute to the Autocracy of Sentanos. Twice a year, troll caravans came through, headed east or west but few trolls lived here permanently. Reinhard de Faucille, the head of the church, responded to the founding of the Henotheistic church with his own quest for the truth, a Heroquest which kept him away for six years. The town got on without him; the triennial elections to choose a new Archon to rule from the noble families went by without him and his lieutenant, Pierre Trudoc carried on without him, possibly even glad he was gone.
He returned on the eve of another election; competition was fierce and rather personal due to unwise actions on both sides.
Then the Broo erupted out of the mountains, plundering and burning down the Maskorion River Valley, swatting aside the Orlanthi like they were made of paper. The elections deadlocked as many panicked and voted for the head of the army to become Archon, but not enough for him to actually win.
It was then that Reinhard returned, leading an army of trolls from all over Ralios, and he himself had become a troll. He came proclaiming the gospel of Zorakarkat, of Arkat the Troll, and the restoration of the glory of Stygia. He demonstrated said glory by growing fifty feet tall, picking up the Broo Warlord Marath Blood Eye and biting his head off, then sending the headless body as a shadow-controlled puppet to rampage, slaughtering his own men and proclaiming the glories of Zorakarkat through the head of shadow he now possessed.
After that, he was chosen Archon unanimously and has held the title ever since; everyone in the city both fears and worships him and trolls openly walk the streets and ancient Stygian practices are being re-learned and revived.
His neighbors watch warily, clearly unsure if he can do that again or if it was a one-off miracle not to be repeated.
Population: 379,600 people
This once proud state was built on the power of the Galvosti Church, a Malkionite church which defined non-Malkionites as non-human and therefore acceptable for Tapping. Supressed as a heresy by the True Malkioni Church of the Middle Sea Empire, they took power in Sentanos in the fifteenth century ST and soon dominated eastern Safelester, reducing many of the other city-states to tributary status or in the case of some, absorbed them entirely. In the 1580s, a revolt began, lead by the Archbishop of Valantia, where the Otkorionite Church had developed. At the Battle of Five Storms in 1587 ST, an army of angry Vesmonstrans, tired of decades of raids by Sentanos to get tapping fodder, aided by many Safelestran forces and the Archbishopric of Valantia, slaughtered the Sentanos army. The Autocrat was killed, stuffed with stones and flung over the walls of his city with a catapult; he exploded, sending fire and lightning through the city.
The Vesmonstrans went home and the new Autocrat managed to save part of his lands but his state has been in decline ever since. Only the weakness and squabbling of his neighbors and its bulk by Safelestran standards has held it together. The Galvosti Church was forcibly overthrown and officially the nation is now Orthodox Hrestoli. But many suspect that illicit Tapping continues in secret.
Autocrat Aison still holds the throne, following the policy of his predecessors: appease the commoners with bread and entertainment while harvesting the wealthy for funds and using the military to ensure they can't stop you while not taking so much they leave. But this isn't working well now as the economy flounders and there no longer is copious magic due to the lack of Tapping which was relied on. Now it really is bread being handed out, not elaborate noodle dinners with rare meats. He seems content to hold onto power without any higher goals clear to outsiders.
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