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Western Ralios (Bad Deal, Ballid, Guhan, Western Vesmonstran, Western Safelester)
[Bad Deal, Ballid, Guhan, Western Vesmonstran, Western Safelester]
Once an extension of the Nidian Decamony, the Syndic's Ban and the changing of Fronela cut off Bad Deal from the Nidian Decamony. This made them more dependent on trade, difficult when angry Elves are your neighbors. Nevertheless, they persevered, eventually arguing the Ballid Elves around into being trade partners; indeed, they have become obsessed with trade and have gone heretical to a degree which likely makes it for the best that they still can't get in touch with their old bosses. Everything is for sale at Bad Deal and they WILL convince you to buy.
They produce very high quality goods but the cost is usually very high or you end up buying a huge pile of mostly useless or very powerful yet highly restricted things from them (such as a sword which is highly enchanted to kill the ghosts of premature babies) in addition to what you wanted. Still, if you can make it to Bad Deal, and if you are loaded and if you can resist buying so much you have to indenture yourself to pay it off, then you can find what you need at Bad Deal.
All prices are fixed prices; there are inns but only the ones run by indentured servants are not terrible to stay in (humans don't like sleeping on rock beds and eating mush from a can).
Bad Deal hires out mercenaries and facilitates mercenary contracts; most of Silver Country's diverse mercenaries were hired through Bad Deal.
It is run by a very loud Copper Mostali named Matressa Makan. She appears to be female, though it's hard to tell; she always speaks of herself in the third person. She has a pet tiger which instantly tries to kill anyone who attempts to haggle within sight of it. She is known to herself be an expert in the creation of ceramic containers for grain storage and transport, though her main job seems now to be to encourage people to buy things. She sells with vast enthusiasm. Matressa assures everyone she meets that MATRESSA MAKAN WILL SAVE YOU MONEY. This is usually not even vaguely true, but she will sell you quality goods.
- Bad Deal (40,000 Mostali, 12,000 humans and other sentients who are indentured): There is a vast array of shops here run by Mostali and their strange stunty two and a half foot tall green skinned pointed eared assistants, a species seen nowhere but Bad Deal and known as 'getmes'. Their job is to fetch and carry and they seem to be some sort of biological constructs. There are dwarf-run inns but most such services are run by indentured humans, elves, hsunchen, etc. Haggling is strictly forbidden when dealing with Mostali. This doesn't stop them hard-selling you. Or offering other items. Or enforcing 'you broke it, you bought it'. It is an above ground city but there are known to be normal underground Mostali levels
- South Tax Station Zebra (1,000 Mostali, some number of Zebras): The world's only zebra-riding Mostali Cavalry can be found here, patrolling and collecting taxes on any caravans which rent passage through the pass. For reasons unknown to anyone, the Mostali once accepted hundreds of zebras in a trade deal and moved them all here, breeding them together; they sell some to the Ballid Elves as part of their Trade Compact.
For a very long time after it split with Erontree, Ballid was full of angry evergreen elves who killed every human who came close. This mostly cut off Bad Deal from Ralios, though it got plenty of trade via Fronela. Skirmished with Guhan and Bad Deal and Vesmonstran were common.
Until partway through the Third Age, when Matressa Makan rode a zebra into the forest and somehow reached one of the sacred trees. The words of what went down are not known but the Elves agreed to a treaty, allowing trade through their lands in return for travelers taking seeds home and tending to them; this obligation is bound by oaths. Ballid's seeds now flourish across the world and every so often give birth to an Aldryami who goes to the nearest settlement of Aldryami once able to do so.
Agreements with the Vesmonstran clans near the border have further ensured that there is no more encroachment on the forest and every clan grows a grove of trees sacred to Aldrya herself where Aldryami will sometimes come and stay.
Ballid's elves trade special wood worked items and plants which grow here to get seeds of other plants they don't have yet and so so quite eagerly.
They still fight with Guhan, though.
- Population: 60 Mistress Race Trolls, 18,000 dark trolls, 9,000 cave trolls, 120,000 trollkin, and 150,000 slaves.
Guhan is the last remnant of the Stygian Empire; it follows the old Stygian cult and possesses the hidden lore of Arkat, including control of many darkness spirits. Caravans from here move across much of Western Genertla, especially to their distant kin in Halikiv. The cult of Argan Arkar is powerful here and several of the Matriarchs are initiated in it. Here, trolls build cities and keep slaves who are rarely eaten for there is always plentiful food, thanks to said slaves growing crops and raising animals for the trolls. It is generally known the Matriarchs seek to break the curse on Trollkind; they pay well for anything which helps in that regard.
They are on bad terms with Ballid and constantly skirmish.
- Uzgor City (20 Mistress Race Trolls, 6000 dark trolls, 3000 cave trolls, 40,000 trollkin, and 50,000 slaves): This vast sprawling city is luxurious for visitors and the dark and mistress race trolls and abysmal and squalid for slaves and trollkin. Guests eat fine luxuries and so do the trolls, while the trollkin abuse the slaves and are abused in turn by greater trolls. The city is nestled in a beautiful valley full of hungry spider monsters and slaves and sheep and grains. The spiders only eat intruders and uppity slaves and are frustrated and hungry. They do not pass the great walls or the Gate of Arkat; the city sprawls down a mountain slope; slaves live up high where there is nasty light and fresh air; the trolls live down in the pleasant miasma of the valley where it is shady. Several great temples rise here and a huge trade emporium. Visitors must wear bronze wristbands which mark them as guests, not dinner or slaves. Those seeking Arkatian lore have come to the right place; the matriarchs claim to know it all and sell access to some but not all secrets.
Kingdom of Kustria
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.
- The Castle of Adventure: Ruled by a beautiful Queen, this is a place where adventures happen; even finding it is an adventure in itself; the castle may be in any state from a ruins to full glory and you may end up in anything from a grand ball to a hideous war. At times when you look up in the sky, you will see different stars or even see Glorantha as if you stood on a star and looked down on it. It is said that with the right secrets, one could enter the castle in Sacred Time and travel into the Spike as it stood in the Golden Age, but few have done this and returned to tell the tale.
- The Forest of Adventure: This forest overlaps with the Heroplane and those who enter it soon find many marvelous and strange adventures, encountering legends, gods, dwarves, dragons, myths, spirits, monsters and holy people in abandon. It cannot be truly mapped for it constantly changes; at its heart is the Castle of Adventure.
- The Joyful Chateau: This castle is made of white stone which looks like marble, though it was shaped into its current form with magic by the now long dead wizard Kestrel. Kestrel enchanted it with magically lit torches and enchanted its plumbing to purify all the water within. There are self-moving rooms which can haul you across it or between floors. It is riddled with secret passages; probably no one knows them all but Kestrel, who took the secret to his grave. The King's chamber has a mirror in which part of Kestrel's soul is stored; his eidoleon has advised each of the kings of the castle. Rumors say said eidoleon sees anything which is reflected in any mirror in the castle, in fact. The castle empowers those who follow Chivalry with benefits if they complete the Quest of the Forest of Adventure. There is an attached town of some 12,000 people and the castle itself is huge with three ringwalls and two keeps. The east side of the castle rises over Lake Felster; the western side has the vast tournament fields where the annual tournaments are held during Fire Season; it is rarely very hot here, but winter is fairly cold and wet.
The County of Taras
- Population: 96,000 (Thanks to river trade).
Once part of Kustria, the pragmatic Counts of Taras broke fealty so they could hoard the tolls from river travel for themselves. All water trade out of and into Safelester flows through their capital, so they are RICH. It also supports a city the country could otherwise never sustain. Most of the population lives in the Taras river valley or in the mining zone around Coragani Castle. The Taras River valley is home to grape production, endless fields of tomatoes and melons, and some rice paddies. The drier southern plains are home to vast, endless herds of sheep.
- Tarasdol (45,000): This sprawling city sits on both sides of the river and has five chains which block traffic until they pay tolls. The city is a huge center for distilling, wool making, and food processing, along with pottery and basket production and various kinds of trade. The city has many fine inns; the most famous is run by Master Brithos, who has what he claims is a 'traditional Brithini inn'. The Traditional Brithini Inn of Tarasdol is full of magical lights, servitor spirits, talking fireplaces and mirrors and other wonders and is both luxurious and expensive. Every night, women made of shadow appear in the main room and perform plays about past events. These plays often have a prophetic aspect only realized later by those watching them. Master Brithos is, by the way, bright green, though human in features.
The County of Trollguard
- Population: 172,000 (Thanks to the custom of the Castle of the Contest of Beards).
During the first height of Seshnegi expansion in the Third Age, this county was founded to ward against the trolls of Guhan. Then the tide receded and it was on its own; it pledges fealty to the Kingdom of Kustria now, for it sometimes needs aid when the trolls decide to launch a major raid. Like Kustria, it is more feudal than most of Safelester.
150 knights, 1500 foot and 1500 archers defend this land against the trolls and Orlanthi raids. In an emergency as many as 17,000 poorly armed peasants can be called out to die horribly and run screaming. They can also generally mobilize a hundred wizards and priests in wartime.
Trollguard has no real caste system; people who own land (wizards, priests, nobles) have power, those who have to rent land have basic rights and pay rent and do labor duties for the rest. Anyone who owns land owes military service. There is a fair amount of mobility as people die off in the upper class and open up space for wealthy folk to get land and move up.
Count William is dedicated to the code of Chivalry between true men but does not apply it to dwarves, trolls, and elves. At the same time, he wants to avoid trouble which would cut the caravan lines that bring him wealth. He and his land are Orthodox Hrestoli.
- The Castle of the Contest of Beards: This castle grants improved fertility to the lands within 30 miles of it, so long as the custom of the Contest of Beards is kept. Once a year in Darkness season, everyone in the castle with a beard must enter the Contest of Beards. Whoever has the finest beard becomes the Beard King and must live in the castle until the next contest, which he or she will judge. (Fake beards are allowed, though few women try to enter.) Winners also may stay in the castle whenever they like for the rest of their lives, though they're expected to help defend or run it. The worst beard, however, results in you being shaved bald and given humiliating tattoos and being the castle scapegoat for a year; you're then kicked out never to return. Everyone in the middle is free to go.
- Tinaros (35,000): The bumper crops generated by the Castle of the Contest of Beards flow into this city and down the river to Felster Lake for sale; in return, goods from foreign lands flow into here and out into the countryside. Caravans from northeastern Fronela flow through here and elves, humans, trolls, mostali, and hsunchen rub elbows in the street despite the prejudices here against mostali, trolls, and elves. This has made the city unusually large. The city is governed by a council of guild heads and a mayor appointed by the count. They clash frequently. The city is most noted for its fine woodworkers in exotic woods from Ballid and for its many parks and gardens, dictated by the terms of its trade agreements with Ballid.
This is a land of Orlanthi clans who sometimes unite to form tribes or even kingdoms briefly. In fact, five such clans have now formed a tribe, the Caravan Tribe, who unite in maintaining the caravan route which runs from Trollguard through Ballid and Bad Deal to Peloria and Fronela. This is the only land route to Fronela, in fact.
The Caravan Tribe
Population: Roughly 5000 people
The Askim, Egersund, Elverum, Haugesund and Stavenger clans have formed a clan ring and chosen a Tribal King; the current one is an Issaries initiate, Hjarvelk the Clever. They are rolling in dough by Orlanthi standards, thanks to this. They formed a deal with the Ballid Elves and each clan maintains a sacred grove for visitors from Ballid and allow a quarter of their land to lie fallow in perpetuity, becoming wild lands. Given they graze pigs on said land, this hasn't hurt them much. In return, Aldryami join their planting and harvest festivals and their crop yields are huge. A typical bloodline of thirty might produce enough food for a hundred people or more! Raids by jealous trolls are a small price to pay, especially when other trolls come and trade with them for food. Hosting caravans allows further amplification of their wealth as their gift of food is reciprocated with gifts of goods from the caravans.
- Askim (Peace Clan): This is the home clan of King Hjarvelk the Clever. It flourishes with fruit trees and there are very unusually large temples to Chalana Arroy, Issaries, and Elmal here in addition to grand temples of Orlanth and Ernalda. This clan is oriented to making goods and trading and has few warriors.
- Egersund (War Clan): This clan is given a cut of the caravan produce and focuses on war; they send patrols up and down the caravan route and reinforce other clans when threats come. Elmal is their clan patron; they have a shrine though there is a larger one at Askim, to the frustration of local initiates.
- Elverum (Balanced Clan): This clan is noted for its woodcraft skills, both in working wood and moving in the forest. They are devoted to Odalya and Ernalda, mixing hunting and farming, with relatively small herds. This sometimes includes hunting enemy clans; they have the most contact with the Elves and a good hundred Aldryami dwell full time on their lands.
- Haugesund (Balanced Clan): Devoted to Orlanth, this clan has become expert brewers, producing a fine pale ale and excellent mead; they have a small shrine to the goddess of bees which enables them to raise massive amounts and produce honey. They also produce large amounts of cheese. Contact with Haugesund means they are expert in dealing with the tactics of knightly style forces.
- Stavenger (Balanced Clan): Skilled archers, they are also master bowyers, and they favor a very skirmishing combat style. They raise vast numbers of pigs and spend a lot of time struggling not to lose them in the woods. They are devoted to Orlanth.
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