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The Arstola Forest and Wenelia

[The Arstola Forest and Wenelia]

In the Second Age, Wenelia was a battlefront between the Empire of Wyrm's Friends and the Middle Sea Empire. Many of the locals just wanted to be left alone to worship their gods. Slontos was a major center of magical research and the region produced copious metals and food for the Middle Sea Empire. But when the empire began to unravel due to the Closing and the backlash against the God Learners, the region fell apart; Slontos blew up and parts of it sank into the ocean. The bottom fell out of the Mournsea, which grew much deeper, warping conditions around it. Parts of Wenelia proper sank into the ocean. And the Empire of Wyrm's Friends pushed into the area in its final years before the Dragons and Dragonnewts turned on it and destroyed it.

Many Wenelians joined the True Golden Horde which tried to take revenge for the EWF ever existing on the Dragonnewts. Then they died in the Dragonkill. The survivors reverted to the old ways, though towns of Malkioni survived among the Orlanthi of the region. In time, trade even resumed on a small scale, favoring inland routes. The Aldryami of the Arstola Forest seized this chance to change local culture, forming a compact with the tribes and convincing them of a new order of things. Because the new order helped them to adapt and survive, they embraced it.

The Wenelian Orlanthi now believe that due to Orlanth's defeat at the hands of the dragons that he and Flamal must compete yearly for Ernalda's favor. The heart of this is a contest between the Wind Shrine of Orlanth and the Shrine of Flamal and Ernalda. Most of the time, Flamal wins and the Wenelian male Orlanthi are increasingly likely to have Plant as a rune. Orlanth generally consorts with Flamal's sister Arstola whenever he loses to Flamal. Orlanth years are lucky for war, hunting and feature more hospitable weather; Flamal years the weather is much more erratic but crops and trees flourish like crazy.

The Opening in the 1580s changed everything; coastal towns suddenly flourished as ocean trade opened. Even the caravan routes shifted. Goods from Prax and even Kralorela now flowed into the area and its goods flowed out. Along the coast, where Orlanthi and Malkioni had long mixed, a league of city-states was formed and some clans threw in with it. The rest have formed into tribes, worried they will be conquered, yet unable to unite on a large scale either. The Aldryami are clearly displeased by the League but it is beyond their power to easily stop short of all out war, which they have been trying to avoid around here for centuries.

The League itself doesn't want war; there's so much else to do! But the Orlanthian motto still hangs over everything: Violence is always a solution. Things haven't blown up yet, but tensions are building.

The Arstola Forest

The Arstola Forest is led by a council of Elves, mostly deciduous but some evergreen and dryads as well. Ever since the end of the second age, they have pursued links with the Orlanthi, gradually infusing them with elements of Aldryami culture. This has often clashed with the aggressiveness of Orlanthi culture; conversely, there's some evidence the Aldryami have moved towards their neighbors as well; their ruling council is known as the Forest Ring and it elects a 'King' who is effectively the chairman of the council. But now the leaders are known to be gravely concerned by the rise of the Wenelian League of Free Cities and there may well be a war between the Aldryami and their Orlanthi allies vs the Urbanized Orlanthi and Malkioni of the coast. Violence is always an option.

While deciduous plants dominate the forest and the Aldryami population, evergreen Aldryami have boomed in population since the formation of the modern style of Wenelian worship. They are the group pressing hardest for war.

The Aldryami have no capital but certain holy trees provide focal points for religious ceremonies and meetings of the Forest Ring.

Traditional Wenelia

Traditional Wenelia is in most respects like Orlanthi elsewhere. The introduction notes the changes to Orlanthi religion. The Wenelians have formed several 'Confederacies', which elect a High King from among the ranks of the tribal kings. The inability of these to unite and old feuds help to ensure they will likely continue to kill each other until they have no other choice. (Or their women find some way to make them stop. Those women who don't serve Vinga, anyway.)

Many Traditional Wenelians simultaneously fear the Wenelian League of Free Cities will destroy them, yet can't unite to oppose it and many are tied into the Caravan trade. This is a serious problem, especially given what happened to Visby. But one little tribe isn't enough to make the others unite.


The League of Free Men: During the early years after the Dragonkill, this region saw huge amounts of death at the hands of invading Broo. Only the rise of alliance with the Elves and a relief force from the east saved anyone here and two of the major tribal holds became known as 'Mournstad' and 'Mourndal' in memory of the fallen. Ty Kora Tek and Asriela have particularly powerful cults in this region. The League is currently at odds with the Duchy of Bastis over caravan tolls and the fact that the clansmen have had long troubles with the Duchy. The tribal kings don't want war; it would wreck the prosperous trade. Yet if they could bring Bastis to heel... They feel little threat from the Wenelian League of Free Cities, it's their neighbors they worry about. And the threat of the Broo coming down from the mountains, but surely they'll eat those damn trolls first, right? The Shrine of Orlanth Thunderous would never let them pass.

Lundesland: A confederation of tribes who control the upper Lundes river valley. They keep wobbling between fear of the rise of the League of Free Cities and their desire for more goods from Safelester.

Falkenvolk: A confederation of tribes who control the upper Falken river valley. They benefit somewhat from the Caravan trade but are leaning towards hostility to the League, under the influence of Maran Gor priestesses. Several clans of Aldryami dwell on their lands, living peacefully with them.

Talmhattan: A confederation of tribes who control the upper Talm river. Staunchly conservative, they view the Wenelian League as traitors who need punishment, though they seem unlikely to try to strike alone.

The Wise Children: A confederation of tribes who control the middle Talm river. Staunchly conservative, they have long ties to the Cult of Lhankor Mhy and welcomed the League at first; now they fear it is tainted with atheism (Malkioni ideas) and have turned on it.

Fagarane: A confederation of tribes south of the Wenelian Mountains. They are torn between modernizers and conservatives. They have strong traditions of female leadership.

The Wenelian League of Free Cities

Quinpolic influence has triggered the rise of the Wenelian League of Free cities now that the ocean is open. What had been fishing villages have boomed into a prosperous, growing nation which ships Wenelian goods to other lands and imports goods from Seshnela all the way to the mouth of the River of Cradles. The cities have a mixture of Wenelian Reformed Malkioni and Wenelian Orlanthi as the main groups but with representatives of many lands, including Lunar missionaries. The league would prefer peaceful trade with the interior but tensions are rising and many worry war will soon come.

The League is ruled by a council; each city-state sends one delegate which forms the League Ring. It meets in a different city each year, rotating, and elects a Spokesman for the league.

The Wenelians are very proud of the new road network; two decades of work have paid off since then in spades. The roads are maintained by magics driven by worship ceremonies, freeing up resources for trade. Conversely, this means less magical power for other purposes, which could be trouble in war.

Wenelian Reformed Malkioni Church

The Wenelian Reformed Malkioni church was a rejection of the God Learners and the Abiding Book, blaming them for the disastrous fall of the Middle Sea Empire. At the same time, Elven influence was crucial to the survival of the Wenelians, so they didn't go the Rokari route either despite missionaries from Seshnela. Rather, you had the rise of Saint Byrghir, who converted a group of Aldryami and encountered the Essence Rune Lady of the Plant Rune, Kaskaria, and brought her back to true service to Malkion. Their quest together brought back the Halover Codex, the holy text of the Wenelian Reformed Malkioni church. It interprets the caste system as life stages: children work hard and obey, young adults fight to make a place for themselves in the world, parents pass on wisdom and the oldest and wisest lead. Those who pass through all four stages become the blessed Men-of-All, who will hold the highest place in Solace after death. But so long as you serve your stage of life well, you will enjoy the Joy of the Heart here on the mortal plane alongside those further advanced in spirit. Men typically devote themselves to an appropriate saint; women follow the way of Kaskaria through four stages: childhood, young adulthood, motherhood and grandmotherhood. Women farm because they have special magic over crops from the redeemed Kaskaria, while men do craftwork, though in the cities, women usually work with their husbands and just grow a garden.

The Wenelian Reformed Malkioni Church keeps a tight watch on Wizards for fear that they will go hog wild as the God Learners did; the church oversees all Wizard schools and anyone who wants to become a Wizard must join an order and remain in it for life. Celibacy is not required, however.

The WRM uses an elected delegate system to govern with a council in each city-state and a national level one. Church elders are elected and gain priestly status by the election of the faithful, then have to be periodically re-elected.

Unlike most Malkioni churches, the only limit on sex for the unmarried is to avoid incest and adultery. This drives Rokari missionaries up the wall.

They firmly oppose the Lunar missionaries but don't use violence against them. Yet, anyway.

The Cities

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