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The Holy Kingdom of Seshnela

[The Holy Kingdom of Seshnela]

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 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

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.

The Barony of Capet

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.

The Barony of Geriant (Lands of the Order of Saint Geriant)

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

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?

The Barony of Limousin

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.

The Barony of Talor (Lands of the Order of Saint Talor)

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

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.

The County of Estaurinc

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.

The County of Noyelle

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.

The County of Tanisor

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.

The County of Vogai

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.

The Duchy of Bellesori

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.

Duck March

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'.

The March of Rusine

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 Northern March

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.

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