Discussion in 'Imperium OffTopicum' started by Tolina, Jun 20, 2016.
Both, but call it Azkarthame.
JOURNAL OF THE ROYAL SOCIETY OF VOYAGERS AND ENTREPRENEURS
CHILDREN OF THE FUTURE
A Detailed Retrospective of the
the New Nations of the World,
and their Development Following
the Centenary of the Battle of Nalore
Shown by Various Correspondents
Travelling Across the World
[TAB]It's hard to believe, but exactly one hundred years have passed since the Battle of Nalore, an epic clash that ended the Thel Imperium once and for all. This resulted in a great number of new nations, with varying origins. From remnants of Thel still wandering on in the wilderness, to nations claiming to be successors, if not better iterations of the Thel Imperium. However, just as many nations exist today that are the complete opposite of what the Imperium once was. And, of course, there are always the nations that just do their own thing - whether it's a traditional rule that predates the Collapse or something new and radical that arose from the ashes of the Imperium.
[TAB]We, the editors and correspondents of the Journal thus wondered: what changed in those 100 years? What new nations arose? What new social movements have been created? Is it true what Talveyand said - that since the collapse of Thel, Man has learnt nothing yet forgotten nothing? These, and many other questions, have constantly bothered us.
[TAB]But those questions cannot be answered by pondering in a darkly-lit room. No, real action has to be taken. Men and women must be sent out to investigate the state of this world and to lift the veil that may exist between us, created by the distances separating us from each other.
[TAB]As a regular reader of this Journal, you are well aware that the Royal Society is proud of its extensive network of correspondents and reporters dotting the three continents of Arcanum, who regularly inform us of the situations across the globe. Whether those bits are true, or outdated, or outright fiction, sometimes, alas, only time can show. Nevertheless, we strive to show you all that the world has to offer, and that is, in my opinion, perhaps the greatest quality that we possess.
[TAB]We have however decided to go a step further. What's this step, you may ask? Utilizing the abovementioned correspondents, who travelled for nearly three years to gather information about the various nations across the world - their traditions, beliefs, governments, people, and so on. Today, their combined effort shall be released for the whole public to read.
[TAB]We hope you find them just as enlightening as we do.
16th Icethaw, 1824
[TAB]So, our journey across Malthel begins. My first destination isn't really a destination at all, as I am still in our noble Republic. Still, since this journal will be read by people who have perhaps never seen our great city, nor perhaps ever will (their loss), I feel obliged to at least give a brief description of it. Veniera is located on the scenic Jynt Lagoon, and since its founding by humans a long time ago, it has always held some sort of independence, even during the height of the Imperium's rule. Following the Collapse, Veniera and its merchants used its wealth to ensure the loyalty of nearby mainland cities, as a way of increasing its influence. In more cultural matters, Veniera boasts one of the largest printing presses in Malthel - and perhaps, in the world of Arcanum, which allows us to print the Journal and spread it all over the world.
[TAB]It took me about two weeks to reach the westernmost settlement of our proud Republic, and the final stop before completely leaving its borders. This left me with a feeling of sadness; but a certain anxiety, as well. I have visited Merovech before as a part of trade deals, however I never had the time to truly take a look at the cities and their inhabitants. It turns out that it is very much a "composite" nation, in the sense that there are two races that comprise the bulk of its population - Dwarves and Gnomes. Of course, this wasn't always the case - two hundred years ago, nearly everyone living here was from Dwarf descent, much to the chagrin of the Thelian demistrates. This continued for a good amount of time even after the Collapse, until roughly 1745 AE, when a large number of Gnomes, fleeing the chaos in the neighbouring state, moved into the city now known as Panaxim. Once a small coastal city, its population rose quickly in the years following the Gnomish exodus. This, of course, caused issues, as the citizens of Panaxim were considering secession as a way of securing their independence and freedom. A compromise, however, was struck: the Gnomes acknowledged the supremacy of the Dwarven sovereign, but they were allowed to settle freely through the Merovech lands as they wished. Once news of the agreement spread, Gnomes from other lands seeking refuge from the chaos began to pour in great numbers.
[TAB]To address the growing numbers of Gnomes and their desire for representation, the old, and perhaps obsolete monarchy was replaced with an elective ruling council, chosen by the people of Merovech - the first of its kind. Only time will tell whether this will increase the unity between the two races, allowing them to co-exist in peace and prosperity, or only result into an even greater split between them.
[TAB]After a brief visit in the capital of Merovech (during which I was disallowed from visiting the underground portions due to my race), I was preparing to head out to the next destination - Arkar, the capital city of Milanda. Unfortunately, the winter has been severe, and I had to hire a… rather unique way of getting through the mountains - a dog sled. To be exact, more of a dog sled caravan, as dozens of dog sleds have gathered for the same destination as I do. The reason wasn't only the cold and prolonged winter. Indeed, banditry rules the roads of Milanda, and the only way to get through to Arkar is either by being very heavily armed, or by not appearing as rich prey. It was the first time I had to unholster my pistol, in case someone did try to rob us. Probably won't be the last. In any case, we reached the capital without any attacks due to the size of our party. Some on the road weren't as fortunate, although "road" is a very generous description. We were rather lucky that the cold had literally frozen the road, or we'd be knee-high in mud. The "capital" is exactly what I expected - slums, poverty - in short, misery on a grand scale, unlike anywhere else I've seen. The reason for this? The Half Elf overlords will do anything to increase their profits, and there is no low that they will not go. Humans and Half Orcs live in abject poverty (and so does a majority of Half Elves that are not within the ruling class) and it seems there is no end to their misery.
[TAB]After exiting the slums and the poverty that surrounded the city of Arkar, I head out west towards the rather enigmatic nation of The Most Learned Union of Wizards and Spellcasters (to which we shall refer simply as the Union from now on). Their capital, Thuranduil is founded upon Eudamon, an isle not too far off the so-called Wizard's Hat, a peninsula on the northwest coast of Malthel. By what I've heard, a rather peculiar system of government exists: every four years, the entire college body votes for a new Archchancellor and a Vice-Chancellor. (Nobody outside Eudamon has any actual voting rights.) As for the lands outside Eudamon, the city of Elfhaven is essentially a satellite city of the Union, whose rich agricultural lands are exploited to feed the ever-growing population of Thuranduil. It is good to be an Elf or a Human living and studying in University, but conditions worsen the further away you venture. Alas, I wasn't allowed entrance within the university grounds, but I was allowed to get a "scenic overview" via boat, for the "low" cost of 350 gold. Worth it, I'd say - for all one can say about Thel, their architecture remains marvelous, even to this day. Indeed, "architecture is just a moment, frozen in eternity", as a famous Thelian architect once said. It seems that the city of Thuranduil is growing bigger and bigger; the only thing that would put a damper on all that is how quickly the University swallows up land - one day, perhaps, one day, there won't be enough?
[TAB]Fortunately for me, I've been able to convince my little crew (with a combination of posturing and bribes) to drop me off at Elfkeep, on the river Trayask. It's a mighty fortress, deemed to keep out both the criminal rabble from Milanda seeking new pastures, and the "brutal" and "barbarous" Orcs to the West, calling themselves Marath. As I crossed the border, I was, of course, warned that no one will come up and rescue me, "famous correspondent" nonetheless, and that I am walking into a lawless wasteland filled with evil Orcs that rape men and women alike. A guard told me a strange tale about these lands, one that, unfortunately, I cannot share with you, due to its rather lewd content - safe to say, however, that gender generally doesn't matter to Orcs. Thus it was much to my surprise that most of my journey towards the capital was rather peaceful. The few Orcs and Half Orcs I met on the road seemed more surprised than outright hostile… although, of course, a state of constant wariness existed until we went our separate ways. Of course, nothing really prepared me for the arrival at the capital, Ma'lan. I expected - well, to be honest, I expected more tribal tents. I didn't expect masonry - not of this scale, anyway, or style. It was… distinctively Orcish, that's all I can say. In any case, the story of this state lies in the chaos surrounding the Collapse, which encourages personalities with entrepreneurial skills, such as the ability to kill off your concurrents and establish a dynasty of sorts. The enigmatic Orc "chieftain" (for the lack of the better word) named Marath managed to unite the disparate Orc clans under his rule some years after the Collapse. Today, his son rules, adamant that the dynasty will last the test of ages, and who knows - maybe Eudamon is his next goal? But I digress…
[TAB]I go further south. The land gets progressively drier. It's hot. The next capital is in a desert. A bloody damned desert. Granted, not in the middle of it, and close to a major river; yet it still baffles me who would settle here. Eventually, the city rises in front of me as if the desert winds swept up all the dust in the world to concoct this mirage. Of course, I know that this city is real, it is on the map - Abableh, capital of Hajil. It seems I've arrived at a rather opportune time: an astronomical date that calls for a celebration and welcoming of strangers and helping those in need. Apparently, one of the favourite pastimes of all people, whether poor or rich, is Astronomy. It is civic "pride" for each and every citizen to spend enormous sums of money on optical instruments of varying quality. According to the people of the Hajil Illuminante (the name of the greater realm), the truth is in the stars. You can predict anything if you look into the stars. The stars are right. And this would seem unsurprising, until you realise that a large majority of this nation's population are Dwarves, who as we all know don't do such "irrational" things. There is a Prime Astrologist, appointed by a system of complex interactions between a number of Astronomers who run bizarre Unions that determine who the next ruler will be. And everything runs under the mandate of the stars. To know what the stars say is Godly. It is good.
[TAB]I'm not all too well reacting to heat, it seems, as you can tell from the previous entries, which may read a touch delirious. It's why I am now taking a slight detour through the mountains - Spring has come, snows melt, and the passes are traversable. The chilly air and the mountain sights are incredible, especially when you have a seasoned guide. Resting upon the cliffs, a marble white city - Merntarum. Rather, the palaces of the Overseers, iron-fisted rulers of this and the surrounding cities, are in marble white. Once I got in close, I saw it as it truly is - a large, disorganized urban sprawl, a few walled-off communities for the richer citizens, and of course, the Palaces of the Overseers, who run the mining cartels that employ thousands of men, Dwarves and even Orcs to strike the veins of the planet and dig up its riches. Anyone who disobeys the Cartels disappears very soon, his family receiving a sombre letter how Mining Shaft #32 collapsed, a truly tragic turn of events. The Overseers aren't going to leave Mintarum soon, at least as long as loyal workers keep unearthing the minerals…
[TAB]After I exited the mountains into which the Overseers have sunk their teeth, I had a choice - I could either head into the lands of the Receivers, or to head to our Republic's much maligned neighbour, the lands of the First Church of Yuamos, a brutal theocracy that has no qualms about oppressing those who don't share its beliefs. I feel however, that after my rather cowardly decision to visit Merovech first, I must now visit Yuamos first. As I mentioned, it is a theocracy, which believes that its Elf prophet has foreseen the End of all life, and that only his Chosen Ones will live through the aftermath and rebuild their promised land. In any case, crazed Humans and Half Elves are ready to bow down to the Prophet and his Church, ruled by an ironfisted Patriarch and his Archbishop that are appointed by high Church officials for life. It is not a pleasant place to be. I bore witness to a gruesome scene just as I was approaching the border with the Receivers: Two Orcs - male and female. A crowd of angry Half-Elves and Humans. You don't see this look in most people, regardless of their race - the look of fanaticism, fueled by whatever ways possible. Animals, not men anymore. They're many, but the Orcs are just two. I couldn't stomach continuing to watch this gruesome scene, nor do I know what the results were, but I am not optimistic.
[TAB]If there are two nations any more radically different than the Receivers and the First Church, I have yet to encounter them. The Receivers are what happen if you take the ideas of Lorras and Luniras (how pleasure is an end to a goal for all races) to their logical extreme - everything is created for one's pleasure, and hedonism and overindulgence aren't bad things. Quite the opposite: those are things one should be proud of. Incredibly, yet again, in a rather amazing coincidence that is shocking even to me, I happened to come to the weekly "holy" holiday of the Receivers - the Consuming, in which the population sates its darkest urges, whether it is food, drink, money… and sexual partners, of various genders and races. And, you know what? Something… I guess, it just snapped in my mind. This place distorted my mind. It turned it into a mist. From the masses of people engaging in all forms of debauchery, an Orcish lady appeared. She only beckoned me with a simple gesture, and I was there. What was happening? I don't know, but we went to the nearest inn and…
[the following is very hard to read, as the Correspondent's handwriting is very shaky]
[TAB]Ye Gods. I didn't think you could do that. Or that. Or… that… with the… nevermind. In any case, ahh, well, the Receivers aren't fools. They know that this lifestyle isn't funded by tending to animals and singing in the woods. Perhaps it is why they have embraced this kind of life - after a hard day catching slaves, conquering slaves… In a way, one could say that this is a self-sufficient cycle, as in order to have pleasure, you need land, and in order to have land, you need to have pleasure… or something. Rambling, at this point, but who wouldn't, after… [unreadable, again.]
[TAB]Whew. Glad to be out of the Receivers' lands. The first day was unlike anything, but, well, how should I put it, the next days turned the whole deal into a whole different tale that I don't want to talk about here. Or anywhere, really. The next place I am heading to is the Kingdom of Korakas, a much cleaner, pleasant, and calm place. Its origins lie long before the establishment of the Thel Imperium as the world-spanning empire lording over all men. Initially, a coastal community, comprised of Humans and Dwarves, who mined, fished and smithed. Romantic, no? And, as we all know, it takes not too much time until they...mingle together, so to speak. And so, the Half Dwarves are born, a hardy hybrid that combines the best of both races (and, perhaps, the worst, as some may argue).
[TAB]However, as we all know, the Thel Imperium came in and ruined this peace and tranquility. The Dwarves went deep, deep underground; the Humans and Half Dwarves were left alone, since they weren't on Thel and thus, no need to be removed as long as the taxes kept coming. It didn't take long before the Dwarves became the stuff of myths, performing incredible feats in the name of the community. Until, one day, the myths became truth, as the Dwarves realized that their time was nigh. With the agonizing death of the Thel Imperium, a new age of expansion and work dawned for the Korakas kingdom, the nation and its peoples gripped by an unparalleled fervor to expand further and further, beyond the horizons.
[TAB]As I mentioned previously, the Collapse brought out skills within figures that would, under normal circumstances, have remained footnotes in the history books. One such person was Taesse Sarus - a Half Elf commander in Thelian service. He was sent with an army to quell reports of rebellious activity in the city of Yaohil. As it turned out, there was a rebellion against the incompetence of the local Demistrate rather than against the Thel Imperium, and it was swiftly ended with the arrival of Sarus' army. When a detachment of Coalition forces disembarked near the city's coast, Sarus' story truly began. The Demistrate planned for a siege, yet all records about him quickly disappear, and the star of Sarus begins its rise. After defeating the Coalition army at the coast, Sarus realized that the time of Thel had run out. Seizing opportunity, he quickly subjugated the nearby cities, creating a new Kingdom. Its main engine was, and to this day remains, a neverending war for slaves and profit, a policy started by Taesse himself and continued by his descendants. Today, Humans and Elves live in constant fear of their iron-fisted rulers, ever reminded of their place in society by the lavish statues that decorate even the smallest villages.
[TAB]The story of our next nation begins a bit further away from here, in Thel. The so-called Iridescent Kingdom has always harboured artists of all kinds, but is distinct for those using magic in their art. Such persons aren't the most sane or reasonable, but as in all art, these things just come and go. However, one faction, the so-called Restructionists, were special. They used their magic and artisanry to expose what they saw as immoral, wrong or irresponsible in society. Eventually, they found the hypocrisy in the Iridescent Kingdom unbearable - rich aristocracy and city-dwellers living in splendor while in the countryside the poor could barely make ends meet. They set out for a new home, one they could mold to their ideas of a perfect and just society. They found the rural society of Themlar, comprised mainly of doughy lumberjacks that specialized in harvesting and exporting tropical hardwoods. Of course, the choice wasn't a coincidence - the civil war raging there was well-known, not to mention that the "simplicity" of the peoples living there was somewhat endearing to the artists themselves. The Restructionists believed that they could resolve the conflict and change the nation to be more in line with the new century. Under normal circumstances, either faction would have butchered the Restructionists in a blink of the eye; but the people of Themlar, tired of the war, supported the artists. In a panic, the belligerents reached a compromise - the Artists would pick two people amongst them to rule the nation, while an election would decide the other governors. Unsurprisingly, the new governors were the same old aristocrats that ruled the cities before the war, and now they are slowly preparing to end those Elf upstarts…
[TAB]My next destination was Two-Rivers, the city closest to the Themlar borders, from where I would catch a boat to Ibaiara, the seat of power of the Republic of the same name. I was warned on the border that the tropical forest gets much denser due to local belief of the sanctity of the trees or something. Also, something about big lizards with sharp teeth that devour people. Of course, since my time in Marath, I've stopped listening to border guards. In this case, however, he was at least partially correct: unlike in Themlar, the rainforest was much denser, and there were no usual signs of human activity like logging, or even the rare skeleton. I didn't meet the big toothy lizards, but I did meet one of the "locals". To be fair, it's more like I was discovered by him rather than me "meeting" him, but he wasn't what I was expecting. He was dressed just like someone back in Veniera during a hot day, and he spoke common Thelian, with just a hint of an accent! Certainly not the savages I expected. He was friendly enough to lead me to Two Rivers, my original destination. It is incredibly beautiful and architecturally stunning, built entirely upon a series of poles and a maze of harbours that serve as much as bridges as wharfs, though several buildings of importance sit on or near the riverbank. Perhaps the most incredulous element is the symbiosis between the mastery of Thelian architects and the applied knowledge and tradition of the native populace, all resulting into a splendorous creation that is truly a sight to behold. A sight that, once I was in Ibaiara proper, was multiplied at least tenfold, but that's for another day.
[TAB]My "guide" was friendly enough to offer me a boat ride to Ibaiara. On our way, I was introduced to the history of the Republic. It seems, several centuries ago, a Thelian expedition made its way towards the Iridem peninsula on a surveying mission to discover what was going on in this far-flung corner of the Imperium. Discovering the land untamed, more expeditions were commissioned to survey it further. Eventually, a trading post was established where Ibaiara stands today. This jungle, largely worthless to the Thelians, might have remained uncolonized had it not been for one intrepid party that discovered an amazing sight: dozens of tiny little villages, sticking out into the river, seemingly seamlessly. This wasn't the only amazing thing, however: the water was infused with large amounts of natural Mana. This led to a boom, as settlers began creating their own villages, eventually assimilating the tribal villages into what today is called Old Ibaiara. Later on, to accomodate for the mining boom, the cities of Ibaiara and Two Rivers were created - the former prospering so much from trade with various hardwoods and mana that it was named the capital once independence was declared following the Collapse of the Thel Imperium.
[TAB]I was saddened that I had to leave the Republic. Alas, I had no choice but to do so; a journeyman knows no rest. This is the last nation on this continent, and the penultimate before I leave you dear Reader to someone better equipped to tell the tale of this fine world. But I digress. The nations of Ibaiara and South Ibaiara don't get along, due to the fact that, once upon a time, South Ibaiara didn't exist at all. However, an argument between the two regions began over the Human natives. Some of them had ascended far beyond their tribal circles and took up positions within the bureaucracy, and later on, the newly-established government. Concurrently, Half Elves that opposed this trend, or disliked Humans in general, began a move towards the South, where far fewer Humans lived due to the lesser amount of fertile river land. It was only natural that in the aftermath of the Collapse, and the declaration of the Republic of Ibarias, Southern Ibarias invoked the constitutional right to secede if 3/4ths of the local population voted affirmatively. Deliberately or otherwise, the Humans living within that region found themselves unable to vote, skewing the final vote and calling its legality into question. Today, those who aren't Half Elves are seen as second-class people; Humans are slightly higher in this hierarchy than other races, as they are needed as slaves to tend to their Half Elf overlords. Due to the lack of rivers, the only real "river city" is Ibaria-on-the-Western-River, which was briefly the capital until the colonization of the interior and founding of the Portu Independentzia, which quickly grew through the influx of slaves from the Sarus dynasty and other sources. A very unpleasant place, this nation is; most if not all people who I met, especially the ones dressed in more opulent clothes, constantly stared at me as if I was stock that is enjoying its last moments of freedom…
[TAB]I board the ship that the Royal Society has been so kind to provide me, the aptly-named "Discovery". A three-week journey, very calm and relaxing… if you spend it in your cabin, anyway. I am making my way now to my very last destination, the city of Ath, capital of the City State of Athica. Ironically, it isn't really a city-state, as it also controls cities in the other isle within the Athican Archipelago, Icalia and Lyth. They seem to remain under a "colonial" status, at least for the moment. The location of Athica as a nation is very central both geographically and strategically, as it lies in the middle of the Elthel Sea, allowing efficient trade with nearly every continent. Hardly surprising, then, that even before the Collapse it was a major trade centre with large merchant companies (some surviving even today), mostly of Human origin but with a number of Elf and especially Gnomish firms also. The Collapse raised the fortunes of Athica even further. New nations rose left and right, all ready to give their money to the merchants of Athica, just to get their cargo through the seas safely. An interesting development occurred roughly around 1780 AE, when an influx of Dwarves came from the Onol Kingdom, comprising citizens opposed to the state's increasingly isolationist policies, a migration that changed Athica's racial makeup. Today, they've established several minor technological universities, which, perhaps if united, could create something bigger…
[TAB]But I digress. Today, Athica is run by an admiralty board, containing one Grand Admiral, a Vice-Admiral that serves as his advisor and successor, and three more Admirals that operate as de facto governors of all cities in Athica. The way they are chosen, of course, is an extensive web of multiple conflicting interests. Intrigue rules the isles of the Athican Archipelago, and the fate of the peoples living there is determined by this Admiralty Board. Only time will tell what they will do. In any case, my time here is over. I met with the next person who has to continue this story… bit low stature, but we can't be all perfect, no?
Link to video.
[TAB]My turn, finally! I've been waiting since Newleaf here on this isle for that knife-eared Human to get here, but here we are! Ready, set… go! The ship "Discovery" carries me through the open waves like… a… giant wooden vessel going through the waves. Took my sweet time convincing my parents to do this, but in the end, they agreed. Now, my next destination - the Circle Islands. It's wrapped in mystery! Even the Thelians had no clue what's with the islanders and their crazy myths, but what was important was that they were able to desalinate water. And once that became known, their fates were sealed, as the Imperium sent out its armies to subjugate and tame this knowledge. Sad. Once it was integrated, cities and villas were created for the elite of Thel, who found it a safe refuge from the noise and bustle of the Nalore, while still being surrounded by the familiarity of Thelian architecture. A paradise, some even called it.
[TAB]Alas, that came to an end. The agonising death of the Imperium, sadly, also reached this distant corner, as the governors and bureaucrats of Thel abruptly left for somewhere else in 1717 AE, fleeing for their lives, perhaps sensing that the Imperium's life was over. This, of course, was a crisis of rule; and, in such cases, the military intervened. Captain of the Guard Barios Binlogos, rallying the local garrisons and whatever Thelian forces that remained, instituted a dictatorial regime. Something that, understandably, didn't resonate well with the local elites, who formed an Assembly of their own. The attempts of Binlogos to rule alongside the Assembly failed, as he didn't want to relinquish control over the military, hence why he dissolved the Assembly in 1727 AE. His attempts to hunt its members down were unsuccessful, and in 1741 AE, his regime crumbled once it became clear it was unsustainable. The court magician of Binlogos, one Elf named Luna Menandera, took up his position as the Demistrate of the Circle Islands, a figurehead position, leaving the Assembly to rule. Unfortunately, as it tends to happen with such diverse groups, once the big enemy is gone, they tend to split into multiple, bickering and corrupt groups, which created a general crisis permeating into every single facet of society. The complete collapse of this system was prevented, of all people, by the person that it was created to replace - that is, Luna Menandera.
[TAB]Her death in 1785 AE, however, threatened to end that fragile balance. Her successor, Luna Serpa, seemed a perfect choice - young, inexperienced, and easily controlled - so thought the Assembly. It turned out that she was a natural genius at swift politicking (inherited from her mother, some say), and she proved able to avoid and sideline the Assembly's machinations. Her disappearance into the sea one fateful day in 1789 was yet another crisis, as there was no clear successor. A native from the isles called Irena Demetria sought to replace her, but she was quickly sidelined by the Assembly… although, it seems, even today she has her supporters. This crisis was ended, in a way, when in 1792 Luna Serpa re-emerged from the seas. But she was…changed. She spoke Thelian no more, changed her name to Nagakawa Runa and began worshipping a native underwater goddess called Naga, part of the sanga-puja, the religious pantheon that the natives believed in before the Thelian invasion. The values that she spread to the populace were (among other things) equality, peace, love, and harmony with nature. Peaceful as these sound, the Assembly members panicked over what they saw as a path of deviancy and chaos, hence why they voted unanimously to exile her away. A grave mistake - a popular revolt restored Runa only a year later. The people declared her the Everlasting Empress of the Circle Islands, and then began a process of de-Thelising everything - from the language all the way to the architecture to the daily rituals from before the invasion. Irena Demetria (now under the native name Dipika Rani) is her second-in-command, and her faction runs the Assembly…
[TAB]Today, the Circle Islands are perhaps one of the most liberal places, and the sights that amazed Thelians centuries ago continue to amaze the people of Arcanum. Who knows, however, what the future will hold…
[TAB]Naturally, the victory and crowning of Runa as the Everlasting Empress deeply shook the society of the Circle Islands. Assembly members and their sympathizers that weren't part of Rani's faction quickly realized that the climate had turned unfavourable, and that the best course of action would be to flee to the mainland. They were called the Landfarers. They went south, into the lands of Rishorne, where a group of Dwarves, calling themselves the Evertoi, had broken free from the Thelian Imperium. Their style of rule, actively suppressing magic and cracking down on any dissent, was despised by the locals. So, when the Landfarers landed in the ruins of the old Thel city, Alissane, a new nation was born: the Alissanian Confederation, named after their capital's origin. These "invaders" weren't actually welcomed as such, no - most Humans and Elves greeted the Landfarers with open arms, and a large portion of the northwest Rishorne defected to their control. The Evetoi, foundering in political instability and succession wars, were unable to react expediently; thus, for now, the Confederacy remains independent.
[TAB]It is August where I come from, but one probably can't really notice it here, as it is dry. In any case, the next nation is ironically, an exile from an exile - that is, the Alissanian Confederacy. Within the city of Neo-Alisane, a district existed, devoted to an all-female Half Elf mercenary group called the Companions of Yandros. They worshipped an eldritch deity, supposedly one that takes care of the skies and stars for Ishrama… of course, all her worshippers are also Her own stars. It was popular amongst female spellcasters during the Thelian Era, but it became rather unpopular following the Collapse. The Companions, however, remained devout. The former Assembly members, fearing for their power and control, and knowing well what happened last time, schemed to get them out of the city. The origins of the rebellions that followed is still unclear - whether it was planned by the Confederacy rulership or were spontaneous - but one thing is clear. After the last rebellion, the Companions were exiled by the Confederacy, reaching the northeast corner of the continent, where they formed their own realm, the Dominion of Bevelle, named after their mythical founder, which is also the name of their capital. The lands they took over were filled with Humans and Dwarves, so a decree of tolerance was instituted, which among other things allowed them to have their own forgetowns, and in general managed to hold the realm together. This unity showed in 1814, when the Neo-Alisane, finding the exiles alive and strong and determining to wipe them out, invaded the Dominion. It was a dismal military failure for the Neo-Alisane, one that would temper their dreams for expansion.. at least, for now.
[TAB]If it wasn't clear, the Evertoi, following their defeat against the state of Neo-Alisane, were thrown into total and absolute chaos. It turned into a quilt of a thousand miniature statelets, each trying to somehow forge and prolong their survival as much as possible in a myriad of ways. Some merely pledged fealty to the Neo-Alisane overlords for protection from their rivals; others ran for the mountains; some turned to brutality and banditry. There were even a bunch of Neo-Alisanian colonies established within; though today only their bones remain. And the legacy of Evertoi might have likewise faded to dust - but there was a man. It doesn't matter who he was, if I have to be fair - what he did matters far more. He was cast out into the desert, for a crime which matters even less. In the desert, he found enlightenment… or so they say. And it gets even more insane from here. He claimed that, indeed, the Ethereal Empress was a Dwarf, cursed by an Elf "warlock" (?), but the curse was lifted with her death, and now her spirit lingered in another Dwarf, a Dwarf girl that happened to be in the crowd to which he preached. Isandra Ragnos is her name, a name before which even Neo-Alisane trembles, a name that miraculously raised armies where they weren't any; a genius tactician that managed to reunite the Evertoi peoples under a single banner. How much of this is true? I do not know; I was not allowed an audience with the "Ethereal Empress" as she titles herself now, but what I know is that the Ragnos Empire's day has dawned, and, seemingly, there's no one that can oppose them.
[TAB]The next state I am heading to is rather...peculiar. Fanatical would be a better word to describe it, really. A military order devoted to worship of Kuuftha, the God of Fire and Rebirth, that calls itself the Buried Knights. Perhaps the only reason they haven't led a suicidal crusade against the Thel Imperium is the Veil of Ishrama preventing any of their technology from actually working. But this did not prevent them from leading underground wars against the "heretics" in the neighbouring state. With the fall of the Veil, the anger and rage against Thel was finally unleashed upon the cities on the coast. All Elves that had the misfortune of still living there were butchered in bloodiest manner, while the various mixed populations were… reluctantly accepted into the fold. Today, the various races live in relative order and peace, enforced by the troops of the Knights. But, only one situation, a war, perhaps, can knock this façade into total chaos…
[TAB]Hmm. Surprisingly, it seems that there are Humans in Rathel after all. They are the Kingdom of Zhyrgal. As it turns out, however, they are a rather young kingdom, cobbled together from Human tribals and Hybrid Orcs and Elves rejected from their respective societies. They roamed the wide and high plains, never subjugated, always free. The Thelian authorities, try as they did, never managed to truly bring them under control. So once those authorities began collapsing in early 1700 AE, it would be only logical that they would launch an offensive. Oddly enough, they weren't exactly unwelcomed. Some cities greeted them with open arms, as liberators of some sort; others, however, resisted until the very end. By 1732, the wanderers had forged a kingdom for themselves. It's an interesting sight to see - former tribals learning how to be "civilised" (though given the last 100 years, is it such an improvement?). Yet, from what I have heard, they rule with humility and grace. Of course, I've also heard the opposite - you know how these things work.
[TAB]The next nation I am visiting is an interesting case - The Most Serene Republic (formerly the Harmonious Kingdom) of Onol. Following a pervasive crisis triggered by the collapse of its biggest trade partner from a neighbour's imperialistic streak, Onol's rulers turned to isolationism and self-sufficiency. Their rulers and citizens, pre-Collapse, generally desired nothing to do with outsiders, or indeed fellow Dwarves, either. However, with the Collapse coming in full strength and the Veil of Ishrama dropping, voices rose in favour of breaking out of isolation. But King Urist Etnàrakur had no desire for such an action. Rumours persist he didn't even accept the Coalition's emissaries! Either way, Onol was the only nation not to send any forces at all to the Coalition, much to the chagrin of its neighbours, and, indeed, the entire Dwarfdom in Rathel. Yet while Urist withheld Onol from the Battle of Nalore that ended the Thel Imperium, its aftermath would change his kingdom - forever. When Urist again rejected any pleas for opening the borders for trade, a mass, disorganized Dwarf emigration began, destined for various nations. Some went to the Ragnos Empire, where they felt that under Isandra Ragnos they could build a new, better Dwarf nation. Others felt their blood boiling to defend against the Elf Threat, and joined the Buried Knights. Select few journeyed as far as the City State of Athica, where they established a sizeable colony of traders. Attempts to stop the flood nearly resulted in the military rebelling against the King. Then in roughly 1735 AE, ten years after the migration began, the crisis settled. Both the army and citizenry openly refused to serve their King, resulting in his abdication. Before his son, Prince Shethel, was crowned, however, he was poisoned by a group of radical monarchists who believed that the throne belonged to the righteous King Urist. Ironically, this only damaged their cause, and calls for a Republic that would avoid the political assassinations, intrigue, and uncontrolled powers of absolute rule rose more and more. And interim Assembly was established in 1737, comprising various members of the citizenry, which elected Mlioze Vryklu First Citizen, and Yotegna Brethlolbh as Pro-Citizen, to rule the newly christened Republic until the next elections. Theirs, and their succeeding governments, have followed a simple policy: open trade, re-establishment of trade routes that have collapsed in the passing centuries, and, of course, the return of as many Dwarf expats as possible.
[TAB]To the west of the Trastamere Mountains, away from the Most Serene Republic of Onol, live a large number of Orcs. Until the fall of the Veil, most of the Orcs were kept as slaves - they dug for minerals in the nearby mountains (if the Dwarves didn't kill them), they tended the fields, and they were the brutes that did the dirty work for their Elf overlords. Once the Veil fell, a spontaneous rebellion exploded into bloodshed of extreme scale, and garrisons steadily fell. Toward the end of the chaos an Orc called Snukoësru rose to prominence, managing to tame the movement, or, at the very least, direct its course. Snukoësru commanded the rebellion through its final moment, one that would define the later… profile, I'll call it that, of the Aka Republic - the ambush in Alathè Wíthona, which reduced the once proud Thelians into fools fearing for their lives, ending any stomach for further resistance. The rebellion was a success - but a decision had to be made: what should be done with any captured prisoners, especially those who used to rule this land? And just how complicit were the normal Elves? The common Orcs that fought in the rebellion wanted blood - but one thing bothered Snukoësru: just how much blood is too much? When does one turn into what one despises? It was decided, after many convictions and compromises by everyone, that only the people who had run the administration, the soldiery, the overseers of mines and farms, were to be executed brutally. And publically. But the Elves that didn't have a direct role, while still benefitting to a point, had one year to pack up and head south, to settle in a new land. It was a sign of tolerance, one that had support from the non-Orcish races living within the Aka Republic, although some of the more fringe Orc groups have taken less than enthusiastically to it. Yet Snukoësru has served three terms, creating a basis for a free, liberal republic, free of demagoguery… at least for now.
1st Direchill, 1825
[TAB]Ngalák Mandate. Perhaps one of the largest and most major Dwarf states in Rathel, it is an interesting state - though its origins are obscure, and it is never quite clear when religion ends, and real history begins. It is quite impossible to give context to the Mandate's workings without actually knowing their religion. Virastel, the worship of the volcano god Òrdirkôn, begins with the Thel invasion, when an army of Elves managed to reach the entrances to one of the many tunnels within the Trastamere Mountains. His believers say that the screams of horror and pain, and the bloodshed, were so intense and terrifying, that Òrdirkôn awoke from his long slumber within the ground. The rage he unleashed upon the Elf army was brutal, their lives extinguished underneath a wave of magma, but that yet miraculously left his children alive and well, whom he showered with divine gifts that made the life of each Dwarf better and better, for a period of 500 years, during which he ruled the Mandate and made it an underground paradise. But the Dwarves became fat and complacent - they thought that their God would solve any and all issues they had, no matter how trivial - they wouldn't have to lift a finger. This made Òrdirkôn sad, as he felt that this was stunting them, so he departed to the deep cores of the earth, where he remains until his children can reach the potential that he had. This is why the Virastel religion promotes discovery, invention and advancement, because it means getting one step closer to Òrdirkôn...while betrayal and corruption only distances you further and further from him, making you unable to reach him once you die. Speaking of which, death isn't a sad occasion for the Virastel faithful; indeed, once you pass away, if you did things that brought the people of Ngalák closer to Òrdirkôn, you would go to the centre of the earth, where the best and the brightest of all ages have gathered, with the past descendants of your family, all right alongside Him… and is that not something every Dwarf wishes?
[TAB]But let's get on track. Speculations still exist about the age of Äkim Ngalák, the capital of the Mandate, and it may seem that a settlement did exist before the timeline described in Virastel mythology. The early history is still very much a mystery, but the first ruler of the Mandate that most historians have agreed on is Archpioneer Akmesh Ûlmushkutam, who eliminated the old logographic system of writing, switching to the phonemic system that exists today. Alas, his unorthodox approach to religion, including belief in a heretical school of thought, plus plain bad luck, resulted in him being ousted. The next ruler is Archpioneer Akur Lecadcenäth, whose fame generally lies in his exploration, as well as establishing the city named Othlest Olmul, located near warm springs, beginning the period of expansion for the Mandate. The next Archpioneer, Kuthdêng Thalalzutshosh, was even more proactive, culminating in attempts to create a sophisticated and powerful cannon that would work in spite the ambient mana present aboveground. All this, of course, only resulted in a catastrophic failure, destroying the tunnels and severing the Mandate from the rest of Dwarfdom for many years.
[TAB]The period before the Collapse is one marked by isolation and dire straits. Only by establishing trade connections with the tribals that would later form the Kingdom of Zhyrgal, did the Mandate manage to survive. This isolation was broken by Archpioneer Mishthem Gegetanzish, who invented a device allowing for safer clearance of the tunnels, thus opening up the Mandate to the other Dwarves. It is then that the Veil fell, and the Coalition was formed. Indeed, the Archpioneer believed that his invention and the fall of the Veil were signs, that Òrdirkôn would return and end the Thelian menace. When deliverance didn't happen and only the Mandate's soldiers kept the Coalition at bay, Mishthem abdicated following the Fall of Nalore. His successor is a very interesting - and, in my opinion, admirable - figure. Archpioneer Nish Limârigër was picked - well, because he had a sharp wit. He realised that the only way for the Mandate to survive, and indeed, to forge its new future in safety, would be integration. He began instituting policies that opened up all cities to all who wished to live an honest and productive life, and in general, the Mandate became less restrictive to other races. His crowning achievement was the founding of Migrur Istrath, a new city upon the coast of the Arel Ocean, intended as a centre of trade. Of course, none of this happened without a sizeable opposition, but time and time again the Archpioneer pressed on, until his very death. Alas, his son and successor turned out to be completely unsuited to continue his legacy, only fomenting stagnation and uneasiness within the Mandate. His ignominious rule ended when a mob stormed his palace, forcing him at gunpoint to abdicate and disinherit his son. For his successor was chosen the popular governor Bërûl Duradegståk as the new Archpioneer, who has much work to do - both to un-do the damage done by his predecessor, and to make the Mandate glorious again, as it must be, as it was meant to be.
[TAB]To the south of the Mandate lies a nation bound by hatred. It simply calls itself Creta. According to its religion, all magic is evil. Thus, the Thel Imperium is the Empire of Devils, naturally. Until the Collapse, the religion stood for little more than pure, white hatred of magic. However, in recent times the worship has developed into something more substantive. A God called Ro is the central figure of worship. His "realm", so as to speak, is the broad category of Machine, Industry, and Progress. All machines are his children; thus, they are the most sacred things in existence. To be involved in the creation and design of a machine is the most pious act a person can ever wish for, an honour bestowed only for the very best of men. In Creta, the line between Church and State is nearly nonexistent, and it isn't too much of a stretch to say that it is very well nonexistent. Therefore, it is fair to say that the following institutions are actually an extended arm of the State… or the Church. First off is the Inquisition: as the name suggests, it is a royal guard of sorts, devoted to Ro and to the rulers of Creta; its sole purpose is to remove all who may oppose His divine will - that is to say, anyone who isn't part of the Human race and/or has leanings incompatible with the dogmas of Ro. Next is the Royal Court, a rather strange thing, considering the total lack of any nobility outside of House Stane. It consists of former lords who had the bright idea of supporting House Stane, and who, in return, continued to rule over their lands despite the King owning all land. Finally, the Court of Engineers: they are the best and brightest engineers, that make sure that technological advancement is going as intended. It is also their responsibility to oversee any constructions being ordered directly from the King.
[TAB]Let's get back to Creta's history. Knowing this region's hatred for magic, it isn't surprising that it remained very underdeveloped until the Collapse; indeed, the Sapphire Road didn't even pass through Creta, instead going through the current lands owned by the Anaÿa Bastion. Stuck in a medieval stasis, it wasn't until the Veil disappeared that Creta had a chance to grow again. House Stane was the first to "embrace the might of the Machine", as the chroniclers say, which meant that they held advantage over other Houses, resulting in Stane dominating them all. The foreign relations of Creta are characterised by two things: hatred towards non-Humans, and hatred of magical nations. Orcs are abominations; Elves are evil magical demons that threaten to end the world; Gnomes are "Elvish slaves" (what a nice remark to say, ey?). The only race that escapes this wrath is the Dwarves, who having seen the superiority of the Machine, aren't as degenerate… something that can't be said for the Hybrid races, especially Half Orcs. The relationship with highly industrialised nations is interesting, as Creta often ignoring their racial background to befriend and even ally with them. Of course, lesser-industrialised nations only exist to be destroyed and/or become part of the Cretan realm… to say nothing of magical nations...
[TAB]I continue onwards, along the old Sapphire Road. I travel through the snow-covered peaks into the cities of Anaÿa Bastion. These are the descendants of the survivors of the bloodbaths in Creta, the Aka Republic and many other places. All of it came down in the battle of the Celedo Abeco, an old abandoned Thel fortress. There, after three days and three nights of brutal struggle, the enemy's advance ended; the enemy itself was gone. Celebration was short; there was no time to rest for the people of Anaÿa. The time for opulent balls and decadent parties was over, just like the time of the Thel Imperium was over, too. Today, the Elves must prepare themselves, for no one knows when the next strike will be. When? - This is the question that preys on everyone, from the Lady-Protector Metava Slevina, all the way down to the lowest soldier in the army. No longer is the sword a shameful weapon, only for barbaric Orcs - indeed, now the sword is the only way an Elf can defend his or her family, as the enchanted flames of magic are the only thing that assuredly drives invaders away. It is a dreary country, where long days of training aren't just for those who choose the way of the soldier; indeed, every citizen of Anaÿa is a soldier in their right. Of course, they have the support of the New Thelian Kingdom, but the Lady-Protector isn't counting on that, and rumours say that she called them "race traitors" in private conversation at least once. The future is uncertain for the Anaÿa people, and only time will show what it holds for them next.
Link to video.
[TAB]Following the Sapphire Road that goes southwards, I reach the Kuros isthmus, where the New Thel Kingdom rests. In the beginning, this land was untamed; the only inhabitants were Humans, simple farmers and shepherds who lived off the land with no real state existing to rule over them. This pastoral paradise didn't last long, however, as the Thel Imperium began its expansion through the Rathel continent, making the isthmus a natural target. Indeed, the word "kuros" has even Elvish origin - lit. meaning "neck". With the Thelians, so too came the urban life, and "civilization", as they would certainly call it. It's probably not a stretch to think that the Humans didn't. In any case, soon after the conquest ended, Elf settlers established new cities in the region. Of all those cities, perhaps the most important would be Lycou, established in the center of the so-called Sapphire Road. The road was named after the sapphire mines in the Tarinar mountains, from which the gems were carried southwards, straight through the Kuros isthmus all the way to the cities on the Moran coastlands. Outside those cities, Humans lived in poverty, farming without pay for their Elf overlords, who exploited their products by selling them to passing travellers for a great payoff. Not to mention the total lack of mercy that the Elf inquisitors had, as they mercilessly rooted out their animistic worship. According to them, this was just another sign of humanity’s clear inferiority to Elfkind.
[TAB]Any attempts to revolt or rebel were suppressed with extreme brutality, eventually turning the Humans into slaves for the Elf manors established in the countryside. A new… trend, you could call it, began to arise within those manors. Being essentially owned by their Elf masters, the Human peoples attached to the said Athei aristocrat were bound to his will; he or she can do anything that they wish...and this is where it became dirty. Through various means, interbreeding between Elves and Humans occurred, resulting into the Half Elves that today rule Kuros. Those children were by no means respected at all then, however; while a step higher than Humans, the Elves still held prejudice against them. They were forced to live in dirty slums in abject poverty as filthy animals. "Animals", that, at one point, became one of the most populous races within Kuros.
[TAB]During the first phases of the Collapse, a majority of the Kuros populace was sympathetic to the Thelian cause, united in a sense in their hatred against the Dwarf wave. Unfortunately for them, Thelian commanders in the area preferred to use the Kurosians more often as cannon fodder (quite literally, too) than not. This had a generally demoralising effect, which culminated in 1725 AE, after the fall of Nalore. Kurosian armies rebelled against their Elf overlords, ending the rule of the Imperium once and for all. A bloody period of the history of this land began - one simply called "the Revenge". Forty days of bloody slaughter, the worst early on, the streets turning into literal rivers of blood as the Elves died in great numbers, leaving very few of them alive. These few had the unique "luxury" of seeing their cities becoming cemeteries for their kind. It is then that a terrible storm raged across the land, threatening to obliterate civilisation in the isthmus. Believing this to be divine retribution for the bloodbath that has happened, the leaders of the rebellion begged for mercy and vowed to be never violent again. In a miracle that makes one believe in deities, the storm stopped just as mysteriously as it began. Following that, a new leader amongst the Half Elves arose, a woman called Saphia. Her natural charisma meant that she quickly managed to rally the people around her, leading to Saphia being proclaimed as the New Queen of Thel. A rule of justice and equality began, lasting until her death and beyond, as her daughter, Leitte, succeeded her in enactic fashion in 1813 (almost certainly inspired by the Ethereal Empresses of old, I would say), lasting to this very day.
[TAB]Covenantism is the religion of Kuros. It is a heresy of the traditional Thelian mana-worship, that focuses its writings on re-interpreting the will of Ishrama, the great Equalizer. According to its theology, Ishrama isn't Mana (and nothing to say of the Ethereal Empresses that claimed such a title), but rather a more typical Goddess that simply had gifted and fitted the power of magic to her chosen people - the Elves. However, she regretted that, as her gift only turned into an unhealthy obsession over Magic and Mana, and especially so as the Thelians expanded ever more, spreading only death and destruction across the planet. It is why the Thel Imperium was left to slowly agonize until it ends its pitiful and miserable life...but, even then, Ishrama, they say, felt that a new Chosen peoples should be found. The Half Elves living in Kuros were the perfect choice, so to speak. They knew justice had to be served against the sinful Elves, who have corrupted the world with their influence. But justice served by the perversion of violence is no justice, so Ishrama had to put them through a trial. Or punishment, one would say, as many priests and priestesses say that Ishrama decided in her divine will that those who use violence shall suffer for it, as the storms ravaging Kuros evidently showed. But on that final 40th day, when the desperation rose high, the rebel leaders were at last convinced by the priestesses of Ishrama to give up their violent ways, and to embrace a new way of life. And they say, that the most spectacular rainbow rose and the sun appeared once more, signifying the Covenant signed between Kuros and Ishrama. Today, this religion is built upon the four tenants, all contained within its prayer - mercy, justice, equality, and freedom, all equal to each other, as it is meant to be.
[TAB]So I cross the Sapphire Road, segueing directly into Jeromac, a relatively new nation. Its citizens are prideful, judging by the reaction one would get if they are asked about their pre-Collapse history. A proud tale about how the people of Jeromac held against the Thelian menace and that they, of all nations, were the only ones to be left alone. Of course, unsurprisingly, if one were to dig more thoroughly into the history of Jeromac, he or she shall learn that the truth is rather different. As happened in every other corner of the world, the Thelians steamrolled the Dwarves and forced them deep within the mountain cores. Yet, they survived; the Dwarves waited for the moment to strike and retake their sacred homeland from the vile Elves, believing in this with an almost-religious fervor. So once the Collapse began in its full force, the people of Jeromac were one of the first and most numerous to join the Coalition...of course, mainly to retake their homelands from the evil Thelians. Something that the Coalition didn't mind, as in the end, that is their goal, no? However, there a number of Jeromac citizens did decide to fight abroad. These citizens fought not for the selfless reasons that many people thought, but rather for slightly more mercenary (quite literally) reasons - loot. Many clans suddenly had their treasuries enlarged; some, even doubled.
[TAB]Still, another question stood in front of the Dwarf leadership: what to do with the current non-Dwarf inhabitants of their homeland? As far as the Elves went, the solution was as simple as it was brutal - mass murder. Only a few of them managed to escape from the bloody massacre. The same policy was attempted on Humans as well, though with less success, mainly due to the high birthrates that Humans have. In the end, Dwarves were forced to allow them to live in their cities, although racism towards the Humans certainly still exists. Another grave issue that had to be resolved immediately was that of rule. Namely, the ancient monarchy that ruled all Jeromians before the Conquest had lost all and any possible successors to it. To fill this gap, a council of the most powerful and influential clan representatives, chosen by the upper Dwarf classes, had ruled the disparate Dwarves. It was decided that this system would continue to exist, if in a slightly changed form - a strange and bizarre mix of oligarchy and democracy, in which elections are simultaneously fixed yet all male Dwarves can vote within them.
[TAB]But that's history. I felt that I needed to explore this more in-depth. And what better way than to do that than to visit the capital itself - Jerome? I approached it with caution, as I had heard stories about it from my parents, none too good. In any case, I scrambled to find a tour guide to show me the cleaner places. What luck I had in finding a Gnome guide, hmm? So I was toured around the more prestigious places - such as the Presidential Lodge, where I could swear I saw Kandros Fir staring through the windows, and, of course, the various Clan Houses with their elaborate decorations...very pretty, very clean. But something told me that this can't be all that Jerome has to offer, that there must surely be a different face to this city. My suspicion arose even more when my guide told me that this is the city as it is, and there is nothing more "worth seeing to it". Eventually, as I pressured him, he gave me a name.
[TAB]Rex Veinhunter. A "gentleman dwarf", as they are called here, one of those who have deep and intimate connections with the shady underground world of Jerome. Soon after talking with the Gnome, I was kindly notified that I was apparently invited by Mr. Veinhunter himself to a very private party and that my presence would be humbly required tonight. What I saw there wasn't quite what I expected. It wasn't a meetup with serious, stonefaced criminal elements; it seemed more like the Thelian balls of old. Not to mention that "very private company" to Mr. Veinhunter (which may or may not be a pseudonym… meant at least 15 women of different racial origin, but all beautiful. In any case, he told me that, being a pretty Gnome and all (I kinda blushed? Maybe?), he won't even ask me to to do him a little favour...although, he did wink at me, perhaps trying to..seduce me? Fortunately, I got out of there before this got any further. Thankfully.
[TAB]The next day, I moved into the poorer areas. I immediately saw who was friends with my friend, Mr. Veinhunter. They just quietly nodded at me, as opposed, to, say, smashing my head in with a big fat wooden baton. I imagine that would be the punishment for those who don't know their place. The inhabitants of the slums, unsurprisingly, outnumber the people that live outside them. There is no police; after all, they’re just poor people, and the various criminal organisations and cartels are more than willing to take care of it all, so why bother? In general, most people living here are Dwarves who have the poor luck to be born into a clan with a less-than-stellar reputation, or even worse, those who happen to be Half Dwarves or Humans. And the number of the former has been steadily increasing ever since Kandros Fir has gotten into power, as he has used a number of very unclean and illegal tricks to get certain clans out of his sights...not to mention his union-busting record. As for the latter, it seems that a special kind of hell has been unleashed upon Humans, especially women, with rumors flying about certain Dwarf nobles (and, indeed, sometimes even middle class men) going through the slums and leaving a trail of new Half Dwarves the next nine months. Makes you think about the whole genre of Arturus Thorne amateur erotica, no? Puts it in a whole new light.
[TAB]I go further south through the Tarinar Mountains. It is still, very, very cold, and the leader of our group decided to tell us all about the mud wrestling fight last Sunday that took part in Jeromac, and how much cash he lost on betting against Arturus Thorne. It was very detailed. More detailed than it should be, in the sense that he told us anything at all. Finally, we reached the city of Kobraz, right before we had to suffer through another description of the naked body of Arturus Thorne. Once is enough. "Reached" is a very apt word, in this case, since we weren't actually allowed in. The peoples of the Most Industrial City-State of Kobraz are very paranoid and even less receptive to outsiders. It was a relief, to be fair. There were several days of downtime, as news started to sprawl through the labyrinthine mess of bosses, overseers, workers and higher-ups, as they scrambled to realize just who I represented. It seems that the Journal isn't something the ordinary Jorsk reads. In all fairness, most books aren't, as reading is a waste of time, like any non-labour related action. It took some time until, finally, an avid reader of the Journal was found.
[TAB]The avid reader (that never really introduced himself to me, probably for obvious reasons) had only decided to offer me a tour from a vantage point of the walls. From there, I saw an image of smoke, smog and great factories. It seems that the Avid Reader was very proud of this, as he was more than ready to tell me all about how great it is. Dwarves labouring day and night for their soul's salvation, and Overseers all seeing how it works finely. But there is never a time for a break, for wasted effort and slothfulness are the worst sins a man or woman in Kobraz can commit. A constant sense of alertness exists within the city, city guards constantly drilling (they seemed especially alert now, as I was passing by…, fighting imaginary and unseen invaders. The other cities, used generally for resource gathering, aren't any better. There's less sacred labouring in the factories, but a greater focus on security, preparedness, and, let's be frank - xenophobia. Even my Journal credentials didn't get me in. I only saw the convoys from afar, all going to Kobraz to feed the ever-hungry factories with more and more resources, so that they can continue to belch out more and more production.
[TAB]The next state I am about to visit is, well, rather peculiar (which might mean something had I not overused this word). During the entire existence of the Thel Imperium, a number of smuggler operations had always existed to circumvent certain bans that were instituted by the administration - mostly on alcohol, certain recreational drugs (such as laudanum) and, even, in some cases, people. Perhaps of all places, the largest concentration of smuggler dens would be in Free Cities of Kelvar and Boulderdash, where they have such density that at some point they've formed whole cities! In any case, following the end of the Thel Imperium, the smugglers and criminals found themselves in a chaotic situation, where each and every person in the seedy belly of the underworld tried to murder each other in increasingly violent ways. In the end, after countless dead bodies in the harbours and streets of the various cities, a kind of a balance of power was established. The bosses of the Underworld had agreed upon the initial Free Cities Constitution, which established some sort of law and order...of course, underneath it, the good old gang warfare continued in full force, although perhaps not as intensely as before. With peace came prosperity, and the middle classes within the Underworld started to have much more vested interests...ones that were infringed by a number court rulings. A series of riots broke out due to the sheer polarisation of society, one that escalated to an extreme level. Eventually, the rulings were reversed, and a more...liberal Constitution was adopted. However, instability is yet to be over for the Free Cities, for that rumours go that the Underground Lords from the past are preparing to strike down this new Constitution at the first chance possible. And that's ignoring the Kandros Fir's imperialist schemes for this land, or, the ever unpredictable pirates of Shelgorod.
[TAB]Alas, the time for goodbyes is almost here, as I am about to share my experiences with the final nation here on this continent. The Free State of Shelgorod has its origins lying way in the past. Initially, the current territories of Shelgorod were a part of the Venphine province in the Thel Imperium, although the mainland portions were mostly deserted in favour of the isle itself. A major trading centre with sizeable merchant companies and banking establishments, primarily run by Half Elves and Gnomes. A less "prominent" (but far more populous) race present were the Orcs - they toiled in the shipyards and on the ships in dangerous conditions, easily replaceable and working for lower wages, forced by their masters in fear of being turned over to the ever-watching Inquisition. Nothing lasts forever, as we all too well know by now, and when the Dwarves began their first offensives and the Thel Imperium began suffering real issues, the general sense of unity that existed up until then on all three continents began to falter. This hit the trading companies particularly hard, as their profits shrank greatly. To cut on their losses, they slashed the already-low wages of the Orc labourers while increasing their shifts even more. However, the noose around Thel tightened, and as the profits from trade fell further, there were widespread mutinies amongst Orc crews. These crews stole the ships and engaged in piracy. Soon, Orc pirate crews began to be feared by every ship sailing in the Ethel Sea, due to their experience, tenacity and mercilessness. A veritable Golden Age of Piracy began sweeping across the seas. Tales of pirate lords, who commanded entire fleets of ships and seized cities for unfathomable amounts of gold, became common, and the Thel Imperium saw itself increasingly unable to take down those pirates. To counter that, the merchant companies formed an enormous fleet to take down those dastardly pirates, once and for all.
[TAB]It would have worked, had it not been for a single mistake - Orcs still laboured on the ships of the merchant companies, so it was more than natural that the news of the buildup wouldn't go unnoticed. In the end, it all came down to a single pirate, known as Red Shel, that made these plans known. She rallied all of the pirates she could, launching one final desperate ambush at the enemy fleet based in Port Vista (now Port Urgran, capital of Shelgorod). It was an intense battle, lasting for three days, leaving many people dead; they say that to this day, one can find wrecks of former ships washing up on the shores of Venphine. Yet again, the pirates emerged victorious, crowning Red Shel as the first "Corsair Queen" of Shelgorod as leader. Eventually, when the final moments of the Thel Imperium had arrived, Port Urgran was transformed into what would be known as the Free State of Shelgorod, a safe refuge for the Orcs across Arcanum.
[TAB]Today, the Free State is championing freedom beyond all means, and a safe harbor from anyone being persecuted from the law enforcement of any state, regardless of whether it is lawful or not. Largely abandoning piracy as a main source of income, Shelgorod is instead using its key location within the Ethel Sea between the continents of Thel and Rathel to engage in trading with other nations, mostly seafood and materials required for shipbuilding. In accordance to freedom being the core principle of Shelgorod, egalitarianism is also very prevalent within its cities, seeing women and men of all races equal, although Orcs still remain the core part of the nation's populace and influence. Furthermore, religious freedom is guaranteed, and as a matter of fact, organised religion on the isles is nearly non-existent (though, arguably, that was the case even before the Collapse), so one can see the creeds of many religions within the cities of Shelgorod.
[TAB]Well. This would be it from me, I'm afraid. It was quite the adventure, I must admit, I enjoyed myself, for the most part. I saw both the good and the bad sides of life here on Rathel. Someone else must take it along, however, as the final continent beckons - Thel. Whoever takes it, he or she will have quite the task. As for me, I shall most likely go back to my homeland, perhaps to my parents, perhaps not. Maybe this whole stint for the Journal will become something permanent. Who knows. I bid goodbye to you, Reader, in any case.
Link to video.
[TAB]Well, well, here we take the reins of this whole travel, no? Boarding the fine ship Discovery which happened to conveniently wait in the harbour of Port Urgran. It is not first class, but then again, what is? Not to mention, I am not the greatest fan of water. Furthermore, waiting 3 honest-to-Ishrama months here, in this god-forsaken place filled with Orcs looking at me as if I am an Inquisitor ready to hunt them down. Should've brought my more modest clothing, I suppose… but I digress. I'm sure that no one is actually interested in me, as I am merely writing this out of pure boredom, mainly caused by the fact I would not go out in the ship's deck for nothing in the world. Still, in a kingdom far away from here, my name would be, ha, Placens. You know, due to all the titles I have?
[TAB]Ah, but then the ships hits dry land. At long last, I'm off this ship. Hopefully, I'll never have to do this ever again. Pity my servant is not here, due to, and I quote, "medical reasons". Fear is one of those reasons, no doubt! Let's move on. The state that I'm visiting next is Greater Empire of Abendresland. Greater Empire, hmm? They think they can defeat a rachitic and unsustainable Thel Imperium and now everyone’s an Empire. Tsk. Tsk. In any case, it's a bland land, with bland people. Humans are boring here, I must admit. I've made my introduction (granted, not as fabulous as I wanted it to be, but Father didn't want to lend me the Galleon for a "vanity" adventure. Pfft!) at the palace, and it was also bland. Bland. The Keisüng (I've heard that somewhere else… Johann III wasn't the most exciting person I've seen. And I've had the (mis)fortune to meet a lot of royalty, so I know what I'm talking about. At least, he was bright enough to honour me properly. There was also a history lesson, provided by the Queen, telling how the brave troops...oh, sorry, dear Readers! It seems I may have slipped into a slight nap as the lesson was occurring. I have no doubt, however, that it was the typical case of someone taking advantage of the decay of Thel to create their own rump state during the chaos. Usually, those states were led by strongmen who happened to own more people with sharp, pointy sticks than anyone else, at least until they eased into the principles of hereditary monarchy, which is how you get to people like Keisüng Johann III. Fortunately, on the third day of this incredibly boring audience, I met Keispressinne Julianna. Now that's what I call royalty! Educated, well-mannered, but most importantly - not boring! Sadly, she's also smart enough to coldly reject my invitation for a dance, as that would cause a scandal. After that, I had to leave the palace on very short notice. Although I wasn't kicked out of the state yet, by the look of the guards, they really, really were itching to do so.
[TAB]Oddly enough, however, for all their boringness, they do have a somewhat more interesting religion. The so-so called Barred Gate, according to whose "ancient" texts grovel about a terrifying being that shall bring chaos and destruction on an unparalleled scale. The followers of that religion are living in a constant paranoia that Nokai (the being in question) will one day arise and destroy all that is good in life. Supposedly.
[TAB]God, I am so happy I left that place. I thought I'd fall asleep in there. The next nation is leaps and bounds more interesting (at least, in my opinion). It is called Skagar. Just like that. I like it. It sounds like something you'd yell as you're leading a large army of barbarians. Which, one could argue, is exactly what Skagar is - a state out to destroy civilization as we know it. I don't know if they want to, but I know they have passion! By Ishrama, they do! Whereas my trip to Abendresland was an extremely boring affair, Skagar offered me the the thrills I found lacking before. Let us begin with the society of Skagar. As they live in the cold tundra, they exhibit the oh-so very traditional beliefs in the flames of fire and the warmth of rage. Even more unsurprisingly, strength and combat prowess are deeply respected, for that ones with epic abilities in warfare shall ascend to deityhood in their life after their mortal end, and there, they shall be the few privileged fight the Creatures of the Night once the End Times come.
[TAB]What is more exciting is how they choose their rulers, known here as Tharls. Political maneuvering? Forget it. Heritage? Assassinating fellow family members until they admit your right to rule? Elections?! None of that. Trial by combat is the way that the Tharls are chosen, as they wage battle in a grand battle. I can imagine it even as I'm writing this. Two warriors, fighting to the death. Blood is being spilt in a brutal battle for the throne of Skagar. Granted, very rarely does anyone actually die during these matches, due to the wooden weaponry used. Yet again, it's such a vivid image of an epic battle, as if in some sort of adventure novel. Furthermore, gender does not matter in this case, as male or female, it does not matter for the vakars in Skagar; a Tharl has no gender, he or she is just, well, the Tharl.
[TAB]Another interesting part of the Skagar society are the Fair, a Half Elf caste living within the lands of the nobility. They are slaves, to a degree - they cannot own property, nor fight in wars. However, they are also far more respected than ordinary Humans, and are considered to have far higher intelligence than most. Yet again, despite that, their noble owners consider them as nothing more than fine property, that can occasionally entertain them. Of course, those who try to damage the Fair in any way is severely punished severely - much worse than the punishment for said crime, if it was done against a Human. It is considered very prestigious to own one or two of the Fair, and more than that is a sure sign that the noble you are standing before is highly wealthy and/or influential.
[TAB]In any case, I was invited to the Tharl's palace, after residing three days within the capital of Valla. During that time, quite a few of the vakars residing there were rather enthusiastically approaching me, asking me to entertain them. They looked a bit confused, as they didn't understand why I rejected, but it all became clear once I realised that Elves here are also entertainers within the inns of Skagar. My clothing made them believe that I am some sort of an even grander entertainer, coming to honour their city. Unfortunately, once I attempted to display my skills with juggling knives, it quickly became clear I wasn't fit for that. But I digress! The audience was… interesting. Before that, however, I met the Half Elf storyteller that had entertained the Tharl before it was my turn. He noticed that I'm nobility (my noble aura is easily noticeable) visiting the Tharl, and decided to tell me about the current Tharl. The tale about the gnome merchant and how his neck was snapped like a twig during sex. Chilling. Then again, perhaps it shows as just to how well he can do his job.
[TAB]Then, I entered the hall. It was a large, open space. There wasn't much clutter in it, as it was cleared of all that was unnecessary. All that mattered, in a true barbarian fashion was the throne and the Tharl standing. It was a...majestic sight. There was much to see. For starters, it seems that this particular Tharl doesn't believe in stuffy clothes. Especially shirts. Although, in all fairness, I wouldn't say that she's what one would call a "traditional" beauty back in the Kingdom. No, she was muscular, and she had muscular arms...yet, oddly enough, I found it very attractive. Oddly enough, it was partially because I also heard the gnome story. Something about these arms wrapping around my neck and then…Editor's Note: Large, unreadable passage follows, one that we can't possibly recreate. Thankfully, in my humble opinion....so, yes, that is someone I would grovel over and follow every order they have. I don't really remember anything all until I left the border; this image was in my mind...constantly.
[TAB]Right, right. Fresh mountain air. Clears the head. I cross the mountains towards to Duergermark. The interesting thing is that they also "elect" Tharls, much like the way in Skagar. The origin of this practice is much debated. Humans in Skagar cite the fact that since they come from the frosty isles to the south, they carried their traditions from there, while the Dwarves argue that this tradition was in place before the Humans tribes that migrated from the isles had learnt how to walk. In any case, it is an interesting nation. As with all other nations in the region, it had arisen following the fall of Thel, and it would have been a relatively standard Tharldom. That all lasted until 1753, when the newly crowned Tharl decided to launch an expedition against the now non-existent Tharldom of Ostland. However, other neighbouring states, such as the Greater Empire of Abendresland and Vennrika found this to be threat, especially following the dismal defeat that Ostland suffered. A peace conference was hastily organised, with great difficulty, considering that Duergermark wasn't very keen on diplomacy, and Vennrika's diplomacy actually came in the form of very angry people with very sharp swords. How typical… In any case, an even bloodier and more brutal war was avoided only with the help of Skagar, who pacified the two clans, brought them to the negotiation table, and eventually, forged out a compromise: Duergermark received the city of Iontle, while the Greater Empire of Abendresland took over Veineburgen. Finally, Vennrika had to cede portions of their land to Skagar, which were considered dangerously close to the capital, Valla. In return, however, they received the former capital of Ostland...also named Ostland (very creative naming, but barbarians are barbarians, no?), which was heavily depopulated after the war. But let's get back on track. One issue that the Tharl of Duergermark hadn’t noticed was that the majority population of Iontle was Human. They couldn't just kill them all, as that would almost certainly result in an intervention from Abendresland, so they were tolerated. It had interesting results, due to, well, Humans being Humans, they quickly spread through the other cities, upsetting the status quo. Furthermore, it also resulted into many Half Dwarves, seen very disparagingly by their Dwarf brethren, but supported by Humans, who, despite still being second-class citizens, are quickly gaining power...and even today, more conservative Dwarves are warning how this reckless abandon will end this country unless someone takes action.
[TAB]Next in line to be graced by my beautiful presence is the nation of Vennrika. It is still a Tharldom, but there's signs that perhaps, maybe the light of civilization shall shine and this tradition will become something of the past. You see, in this nation, clans are far more loyal to their own interests, than to tradition. While the Tharls are still elected the very same way as they do in Skagar or Duergermark, sometimes clans attempt to make sure that the right guy or gal (in this case: the one belonging on your side), via cheating or bribing the opponent. This is rare, but it still shows a clear desire within the clans to leave some sort of a lineage. Not to mention… another "proud" tradition of Vennrika is the organisation of coastal raids upon its nearest neighbours, which were especially nasty following the immediate post-Collapse period. Today, however, those attempts tend to fail more often than succeed, as other nations are extremely wary of them. A greater amount of money needs to be poured in order for the raid to be successful, meaning that most of the plunder and loot goes towards paying the expenses for the said raid to occur. Just as Skagar, the Vennric populace is mostly originating from Human migrations coming from the southern isles. Following the numerous raids that often also capture slaves, there is also a Dwarven minority that is being formed within the nation, which holds equal rights to the Human majority. Lastly but not leastly, the Fair as seen in Skagar also exist within Vennrika, showing their adherence to traditions… however far it goes. So it seems.
[TAB]Brr. It's cold. And I'm at sea. Again. For a shorter distance, but still. Our captain cheerfully told us that I have picked a very opportune time, since the "icy monsters" retreat this time of the month. And that it isn't so cold that the sails freeze in place. I can't say the same for myself; I felt that any moment now I would die here from exposure, and I was inside the ship! To add to all of this, I wasn't even allowed to kindle a small fire to heat up myself, as the captain feared that I'd set the ship on fire and damage his cargo...bastard. Eventually, somehow, we did reach the capital of the Magical Kingdom of Azkarthame, on an isle. It was an interesting experience.
[TAB]I am at the dock. It is a chilly place. And I don't mean as the weather. The whole place radiated some sort of hostility towards outsiders. Chances are that if I were an Orc visiting this place (as inconceivable as this sounds), I would be dead already. Most of the populace looked rather suspiciously at me, considering my slightly darker tan, at least in comparison to the rest of the Elves living here. And my clothes, too. Suffice to say, I don't blend very well in here, and my race is probably the only reason I'm welcome here. It seems there are also a number of Humans living here as well, but as slaves. Oddly enough, there seems to be a… certain amount of adoration for them, as well, as having a Human slave or a concubine is considered a mark of high positioning within society. A very interesting parallel with Skagar and the Fair could be made. In Azkarthame, however, Humans are...well, beloved isn't exactly the word, but they are liked. They do not have any of the protections that the Fair have, or if they do, they're nowhere near the degree that the Fair hold. In essence, one could easily say that they are...toys. So as to speak. When they behave, they're beloved. When they aren't, they're punished.
[TAB]But enough ramblings on that topic. Being Elven nobility (although, I am sure, oh so very sure, that most people would dislike the policies of the Kingdom), I was granted entrance to the Palace and had the privilege to see the High Queen Schala and her daughter, Princess Ilsa. I forgot to mention, but there was some difficulty speaking with most people, as during their isolation they have established a dialect of their own. This only got worse, however, as I came to visit the royal palace, as both the High Queen and the Princess spoke in a very old form of Thelian, and maybe I wouldn't be able to speak with them at all, had I not read the Thelaeid in recent times. Eventually, we found a common language, but this revealed something to me - everyone in Azkarthame is heavily obsessed with Thel. The more I spoke with the High Queen, the more obvious this became. For them, Thel and civilization are synonyms, and the current nations are little more than nascent little buggers that deserve nothing but to be purged away, to become one with the resurrection of Thel. I was even questioned if I know any "ancient knowledge" that my peerage has recovered through the ages...which, of course, I didn't have, since my parents weren't even nobility until we settled within the Kingdom. It's sad, when you think about it. At some point, both the High Queen and the Princess began to incensely reciting the Thelaeid and how they are true One True Successors to Thel. So very sad, to see the delusions of a whole nation. Those fools, not just the royalty but the peoples of Azkarthame, they don't realize one simple thing: Thel didn't conquer the world with some great mystery, and only the Veil of Ishrama kept the rachitic and rotting Imperium from dying much earlier.
[TAB]The only lesson that could be learnt from Thel and its failures for the future ages is that of complacency and how it can only lead to certain doom.
[TAB]With this feeling of bitterness, I took the ship towards the next destination. Confederacy of Helvane. The weather was almost insultingly decent. Before disembarking, my captain warned me that the citizens of Helvane can often be very violent towards Elves, and he had personally seen a crowd lynch one to death...or so he saying as his First Mate interrupted him, mentioning it's more likely that it was a common criminal. In any case, I covered my ears with my mantle, and set off to see the city of Breśton, which also happens to be also the capital of Helvane.
[TAB]It was a curious city. It seems that some kind of a patriotic fervor has overtaken the citizens of Helvane. Each and every house and shop was decorated with colorful red, white and blue cloths, probably the symbols of this state. It appears that there is some kind of a civic holiday, in the memory of...St. Helvane? Who may that be? It seems however the main event will be the President's Speech. Ha! Of course. Republics. Silly. Coincidentally enough, it would be due in a moment. Fortunately, it seems that it has drawn many people from the countryside, so I would be just another face in the crowd. After asking for directions to the location of the speech, I reached an open space, where a large audience was patiently waiting for the President to begin speaking.
[TAB]After some time waiting, finally, the President came around. It seems that, much like most leaders who don't have all too much to talk about, he began with history. Which was alright, for me, as I did want to find out the history of this nation, and I somehow doubted that I would be allowed close enough to the President or any of their important peoples, especially considering my origins. Back to the speech… there had been, once upon a time, a state called the Principality of Rane, a vassal to Thel. Following the Collapse, the Principality remained, but it was an extremely tumultuous rule, as the Rane family, being… typically foolish aristocracy, decided to tax their subjects beyond their means. This eventually lead one thing - rebellion. It got a bit interesting, as the President mentioned how the "brothers and sisters of Imperium of Abendresland" helped save their land from the terrible Rane family, ending with their brutal slaughter. Some people just don't learn.
[TAB]In any case, the Abendresland, realizing that their rule cannot extend that far, the then-current Emperor decided to appoint his older brother, Ebenman Abendres as the ruler of newly christened state. It was decided that the state would be renamed to the Confederacy of Helvane, in memory of a girl which sacrificed herself as she rose up against the hated Rane during one of their military parades (even to the degree that she is now the patron saint of all people living in the Confederacy). Contrary to the way that Ebenman Abendres got to power, he decided to institute a democracy, establishing the so-called Central Confederate Congress, allowing for representation of everyone under the sun by electing politicians...although, of course, the Congress was under the President's authority, so it probably didn't help all too much, if you'd ask me. His spirited actions managed to create the patriotic fervor I've noticed here, and so on and so on. Then the President began talking about the bright future, but I couldn't continue listening as several heads turned around and started staring at me very...intently. Seems like some kind of a guard. I moved out of the city before someone decided to call a crowd to lynch me or whatever.
[TAB]After quickly moving through Helvane, I enter the next country. It is...a bizarre little country, because its ruler's title is that of the Ethereal Empress. In fact, it even titles itself as the "Thel Imperium", despite nearly every single person actually calling it Sjydge. Unfortunately, they quickly found out about my peerage, and I was essentially dragged into the "palace" of the "Thel Imperium". It was a sad matter, really. I've seen paintings and descriptions (outdated and probably made up, but still), and this is just depressing. If the real Ethereal Empress, wherever she is, saw this "claimant", she'd be weeping for what left of her Imperium. In any case, I was told a bunch of nonsense about their true claimancy and their destiny to restore the Imperium. Even Azkarthame had more legitimacy in this regard, as at the very least their ruler seemed alike to the Ethereal Empress. This wasn't even remotely close. After I left, I did some questioning around, and their origins aren't any better. It seems that some Elf Noble (some say, even an Athei?) married a Human chieftain with land under him or her (it isn't clear). This created a Half Elf dynasty that lasted for several decades, until the more traditionalist war chiefs restored the Tharl tradition. Unfortunately, unlike other Tharldoms, the (literal) fights for the throne were plagued with corruption and assassinations. Then, at another point, a far Half Elf descendant of the old dynastic line, a warrior named Mathas Vizan, managed to win the title of Tharl. He was also the last one to do, as he restructured the kingdom back into a dynastic monarchy, and today, his daughter rules the Kingdom as the "Ethereal Empress". What a joke!
[TAB]The Kingdom of Cai! Finally! Some semblance of actual civilization. I've heard so much about this nation. To be fair, mostly drank from it, as their Eunuchs visit our Kingdom very often to sell its great teas to respected and privileged people who can pay. Who knew you could grow such great teas in the tundra? When I reached the capital of Cai, Huangyang, I had the good fortune of meeting one of the Eunuchs that often visit our family back in the Kingdom and trade tea with us. Using his influence, he introduced me to the King's Court located within the Royal Palace, resulting in lengthy talks with various Eunuchs who had the pomp and circumstance that nobility usually carries. During this, however, I've learnt some curious things about the Cai. One, it seems that the bureaucrats in this country are chosen via a yearly "Royal Examination", and only the best and the brightest are left. Second, and this I saw with my very eyes, it seems that the Heavenly Kings here really don't know restraint. God knows where all the gold for this place comes from. Thirdly, it seems that the Cai people hold high suspicion of all things and people foreign (good thing I didn't bring gifts), and even my high stature didn’t quite seem to soothe this distrust planted within them. At least they seemed to have the appearance of respecting me, but some of the lesser nobles seemed to have a very hard time keeping up this mask. Fourthly, for those Readers that are slightly bored of this, it may appear that the Heavenly King has also an extensive harem of women, both Human and Elf, numbering in the hundreds. All young and beautiful, from the four corners of the nation. Imagine it. I'll give you a moment.
[TAB]You with me? So I finally got a reply from the Heavenly Emperor, although via a third party. The Minister of...Barbarian Affairs, apparently. Oh well, I'll forgive their bluntness, because it seems that my humble request for an audience with the Heavenly Emperor and Empress had been granted, on basis of my royal peerage which made them respectful of me. I was led to an even grander palace, the residence of the Heavenly King Bai Qi and the Heavenly Queen, Lü Zhi, an Elf. A peculiar tradition exists within Cai - a Human nobleman would marry an Elf noblewoman as a sign of the unity between the two races. Of course, it was pretty obvious that there would be a tea ceremony in these corners. Very elaborate. Very...respectful. So as to say. Intense, too. I asked my hosts, purely out of curiosity, as to how they can grow such excellent sorts of tea, and the answer was… interesting. Not unexpected, but still. It seems that magic is at hand, as Elves use their natural magical talent to alter the weather and soil in select few places to make them fertile for growth. Intriguing. The tea ceremony is over, but the King and Queen invite me to a slightly more… private meeting. As in, me, them and a few higher ladder climbers that don't necessarily think that all Barbarians are evil.
[TAB]And, being a scholar (of sorts) with the highest possible orders, the Emperor of course wanted to impress this foolish Barbarian (that'd be me) with his superior knowledge of his realm's history. I didn't mind. First, some mythology, about the God of War blessing Cao Cai, the father of this nation. Of course, he was just one of the hundreds, if not thousands warlords, with their angry little armies, that popped up immediately post-Collapse. He just happened to win in the end. A novel is even devoted to him, mythologising him even further in the history of this nation… curiously enough, the Queen decided to gift me a deluxe version of it, as a gift of some sort. Maybe as an attempt to "educate" me. Following that, it seems that some time after Cai's death, a certain regent named Hu Jia had seized control, and like all regents we've read about, he also turned evil and became a tyrant. However, Kang Xi, the righteous heir, came to kick him out of the rulership position he had. After that, as it is usual in such cases, the newly crowned Emperor decided to go on a wave of conquests - first was Wu, a kingdom to the east of Cai, which was subjugated following a very interesting, lengthy and intense campaign, I'm sure, and I would be super-glad to tell you all about it, but I'm afraid the tea got to me at some point. The next in line to be conquered by the Cai is the tribes of the Qai people. It was a quick affair, and one that netted him the title of "Conqueror". Pfft. Finally, he also founded a city - Changyang.
[TAB]After the rule of Kang Xi, an era of peace had descended upon the Kingdom of Cai. Well, kind of. King Qian Long was on the throne, although judging by the way it was described, it was more likely that someone else was pulling the strings. The chronicles mentioned a certain Grand Eunuch, called Li, that was far more influential in running Cai than the King himself, ordering assassinations for his political enemies during teatime. As for the King himself, well, he was far more pre-occupied creating vast public projects using thousands of workers. In the end, it became clear that Li is very dangerous, and that he needs to be removed as soon as possible. Today, the current King is Bai Qi, and he stands in front of me. He seems benevolent enough. Fairly sane, too. His son, well, he seems to be in the harem...as per usual, it seems, if one could trust the rumours floating around. And my visit is over, and I must see other states now…
[TAB]The following nation is a bit more…tribal in nature. Actually, very much so. The Federated Clans of the Southern Orcs or Sab Qab Teb Tsev Neeg, in their strange language, is a largely tribal state. As you may know, I am a well-rounded out individual, born out in the fine lands of the Kingdom, but this language is foreign to me, and I cannot understand even a bit of it. Fortunately, I happened to stumble into a Half Orc that, mercifully, did happen to speak Common. It appears, that the basic building block of this nation is the so-so called Ntshav, or, a clan or a family, although, who knows with Orcs. To recognise each Ntshav from one another, there exist the Qauv - a woven series of geometric shapes, colours and patterns, very much like a flag. There are six major clans, each and every one holding a certain responsibility within the grand scheme of things, as well as a distinctive Qauv. There are the Tham, diplomats and the leaders of this land, the Hlawv, who take up the hardest and most labour-intensive work. Then there are the Dej, amongst whose ranks fishermen and traders alike can be found. Yas, the artists and creators in a society not needing any of these such things; yet, a majority of the Qauvs come exactly from this clan. Finally, the Hlau and the Ntoo - the former smithing metals for weapons and trinkets that the clans would later use, while the latter are the masons of these people...considering their nomadic status, that's a thing I'd call irony. And...to be fair, that's all I could learn, really. The rest of the locals were considering brutally murdering me so I had to leave on a very, very quick notice.
Link to video.
[TAB]My next destination is the realm of Seygah. An interesting mix, this nation is. Initially, a group of Humans and Orcs fleeing Thelian oppression, going further and further south, until they reached this region filled with rivers, allowing for agriculture to be established. Their mission was one and one: to find a way to end magic and the "blight" that it is upon civilization. That, and, of course, knowing their past experience with Thelians, Elves are also amongst the list of things that must be ended, perhaps even higher than Magic itself. This is why my travel through these lands was very much low-profile and incognito. Anyway, finally, it appears there's also a major Gnomish contingent within the cities, one that moved into these lands for the same reasons as the original founders of Seygah did - fleeing from the collapsing Thel Imperium. In the following years, an interesting relationship has been established within this country, it seems. Gnomes, using their art of Alchemy to the benefit of Industry to create new technologies, while Humans make them actually useable within society. Finally, Orcs find a way to use the hypothetical technology in the military. And who says different races can't coexist, if only to eliminate and extinguish an entire race? All in all, I wouldn't recommend any Elf travellers to come here - while mob justice here is rarely applied towards Elves, robbers seem to pick us as priority targets.
[TAB]Soon after I left Seygah (without missing too much of my belongings), I pushed southwards, to the Tribes of Punt. As the name shows, it is tribal in nature and nomadism is in its blood. I visited the Great Camp, the only settlement within this realm that one could call a "city". It is here, that the manyfold tribes of Punt gather from the four corners of the land. Therefore, it isn't unsurprising that it is also their capital, as well as where their ruler, the Great Hetman, the one person with the greatest skill in battle to declared by the Priests as Anointed, and as such, worthy to rule Punt. Today, the Great Hetman is one fellow named Janah, a young and ambitious leader, whose cunning and slyness have allowed him to position himself as the successor to the title, following the death of the last Great Hetman. He also has the idea of conquering the world, but more on that later.
[TAB]As it is with most tribal "nations", there exists very little unity between the dozens, if not hundreds of tribes, that happen to roam the vast, unclaimed wilderness of the steppes and tundra...save for, of course, the idea of obtaining power and wealth, but I've noticed that this is something universal across all Humans, regardless of their locale. Still, one thing that could be said about, it is rather admirable that in the Punt society, the distance between a common soldier and the Great Hetman isn't as big as, say, between a spellcaster fighting for a pay and the Queen. It is that the latter just happened to have far greater skill, aptitude and political maneuvering than the former, and, of course, a desire to secure the position of a Great Hetman. One, certainly could argue that this is mainly due to the fact that, by all means and possibilities, nearly everyone lives in abject poverty, owing to the general poorness of this faraway corner of the globe. However, the peoples here are ready to fight to the very last for their homeland, as they have forged a fierce, warlike culture, one that prides itself as withstanding any and all invaders, eventually forging an unity...more than the Orc and Half Orc tribes in the region can say, really.
[TAB]Finally, the religion of those tribal peoples (funny how I start nearly every paragraph with "tribal", hmm?) is...ambitious. You would think they would have some kind of a humble ancestor worship, or at the very worst, something including dolls and scary masks. It is one that boldly proclaims that the world belongs to the people of Punt, and that one day, the He for Whom the World was Made, shall come down to them and usher into an age where all men will be free and there will be no shortages. Time and time again, the priestly caste, made out of orphans, chooses a new Great Hetman, in hopes that this time, this time, he is the right one, and a new age will beckon…
[TAB]Shortly after leaving the Tribes of Punt, I continued on, wandering into the wastes (not the most pleasant thing, but what can a traveller do…, until eventually I stumbled into a most unique city. In fact, not just a city - a capital! The United Gates of Revnoz is an intriguing polity, to say the least. Underneath the Thel Imperium, the Hybrid Races have always existed, despite the never-ceasing efforts of various Inquisitors spread across the three continents to change that fact. As the crisis state of the Collapse began, however, those efforts became even larger, as Thel saw that the existence of the Hybrids as just one of the symptoms of the disease. As Thel broke up in three pieces, this only intensified, as it now became an even more focused affair. Of course, the Hybrids themselves did not sit idly. They congregated. They waited, all for the perfect moment...And so it happened. The Thel Imperium ended in a massive bang, sinking its gem, the city of cities on the bottom of the seas. It was then, however, that a shadowy figure emerged from the darkness - so as to speak - and revealed a religion, older than Thel, older than civilisation (...dubious..).
[TAB]The origins of this figure are unknown, and the theories surrounding it may as well make a religion of its own. Is he an Ethereal Magistrate, perhaps trying to...recant for his mistakes? A prophet of some type? Some say that he was brought down by Ishrama herself, although that's not a very widely-spread opinion. But, regardless, we do know the name of this prophet. Victus. The crux of his preach is the existence of the Gates, 12 in number, representing the 12 Gods on this planet. Those lucky ones that happen to own these gates, they hold the ultimate power and only prosperity awaits them. Victus had already discovered 3 Gates on this planet, and used his might to forge a confederation, one that would be deemed worthy of controlling these three Gates. He was the first Primarch, of the dynasty Revnoz, named after the prime deity amongst the 12 Gods. Unfortunately for this nation, Victus soon disappeared, forcing to choose a new, different Primarch. For the last 56 years, a period of relative peace has graced this nation, as it focused on fortifying its sacred Gates against potential enemy invasion. Today, however, it is felt that the call of the remaining Gates, wherever they are, is too strong to resist; indeed, they say that the current Primarch, Kuran Revnoz, may soon be organising yet another expedition, to discover a new Gate, regardless of whatever the peoples happening to coincidentally live near it seem to think.
[TAB]Ahh, the sea! I can finally see the Bay of Tranquility. Finally, we're reaching the Kingdom. But, that'll be for the grand finale. First, I must pay a visit to the Iron Republic. In the lands of the current Republic, two sides - the Coalition and the Imperium - were struggling for control of the Strait of Rose, as whoever controlled this strait would seal up the Bay of Tranquility. As a result of this conflict, much of the land was devastated, for what turned out to be a pointless theater, as the sea was rendered unusable due to the magical storms raging in the area, not to mention the fact that both sides have razed important ports amongst the coastline, resulted into both the Coalition and the Imperium leaving the area. It was left to the Human remnants to rebuild their homes, their cities, their nation from the ruins. Perhaps, it is why as the years went on, the Republic heavily invested into its navy, espionage and foreign corps. The last had perhaps the largest dividends, as it had established very friendly contacts with the Kingdom, who turned out to be one of the biggest friends that the Iron Republic has, as far as to seeing trends within it influencing the Republic itself at times. It had as well positioned itself to becoming a place where information can be easily traded, as foreign embassies and Republic agents alike seem to keep an ear for what is going in Thel. Another peculiar thing about the Iron Republic would be the criminal element it attracts - the coast is dotted with smuggler's dens and illegitimate ships are loaded up with even more illegitimate cargo. And the attempts of our Kingdom, the Republic and the Bureaucracy still haven't been successful in ending that...unfortunate, but some Readers probably found themselves once or twice using their services.
[TAB]An enigma wrapped in mystery; that is the best way a passing visitor would describe the Most Serene Bureaucracy of Thellana. It has fostered a culture of misdirection and deceit, unsurprising, considering its origins. It is in essence what one would call a scam, one designed for the Thel Empire once it began loosening its grasp on some of its more peaceful territories. The main participants in the beginning was a mixed Gnomish/Human group, calling itself the Thel Imperial Loyalists of Thelyanna, began to slowly take over the bureaucracy in the province, thus starting the Great Con, as some call it. The province in itself saw an increase in revenue, as it began flourishing from trading and banking, but the bureaucracy itself siphoned money into various nonsensical and false (or not?) acronyms, going into the pockets of Ishrama knows who. At some point, however, as the participants in this con increased, the Thel Imperium did notice it...but little too late, as it had grown far beneath their measures, turning into an almost autonomous region of its own. Little was achieved by the Thelians within the province without the help of the Gnomish secretaries, and they weren't exactly cooperative.
[TAB]The Collapse, however, that was bad times for the Bureaucracy, as it was one of those nations that...well, parasite on bigger "organisms", like an Imperium spanning across the globe. Instead of the certainty offered by the continued existence of Thel, a new uncertainty reigned the world, as magic storms rendered trade impossible, and Coalition forces faced off the Imperium remnants in pitched battles. The Elf nobility, once a friend of the Gnomes running the game, was now fleeing for its life, and the new invaders have set their sights upon the rich lands of the Bureaucracy. To solve this, the Bureaucracy embraced neither side, until the skies cleared and both the Coalition and the Imperium broke down. Following that, the Gnomes operating the system continued to follow the status quo, still under some kind of Thelian rule, but never actually paying taxes, mostly due to the fact that Nalore was under the sea. As of today, it mostly entertains a very friendly relationship with the Kingdom. Usually, with the latter sending "governor generals", just as in the times of Thel, except without any real powers beyond that of an ambassador. To add to that, many tourists from the Kingdom come to visit and see this nation, although some also come on a more...business-related kind of visit. In a way, one could say that the Bureaucracy is like a white-collar Iron Republic.
[TAB]Ahh, the fresh air of the Dominion of the Wilderness! Such a great place. I was considering visiting one of my villas here, but, well, I have to tell our dear Readers about this place, and not brag about my earthly possessions. The formation of the Dominion is actually relatively recent, and the state is young - less than 100 years. The foundations of it are the ever-present element within the Iridescent Kingdom, who patiently, if a bit worriedly observed the liberal policies instituted by the Queen. As time went on, their patience began growing thinner and thinner. In the end, what ended it was the "scandalous" (or, at least, for this element of society) law that essentially stated that the state has no business into what happens into a citizen's bedroom. Poor wording, as well as the moral and legal concerns regarding the law outraged the conservative faction within the Kingdom, and resulted into a threats of a walkout. To these threats, the Queen sent a bizarre gift - tens and tens of horse herds, sending a loud and clear message to those who disliked her policies. And so, they did leave to the northern lands, unclaimed by anyone, with the Queen's blessing and support. While one would see it as a colonizing effort by the Kingdom, that isn't true, as once the first real cities were established within the Dominion, independence from the Kingdom was declared.
[TAB]Today, the Dominion is regarded as a new frontier of sorts amongst the peoples of the Kingdom - a new place to make fortune, and more importantly, live in a simple and quiet life. But the defectors from the "decadence" within the Kingdom discovered soon that they aren't the only Elves here. Somehow, Elves have survived within their fortified villas, as the neverending storm of the Collapse raged around them. As the Gerheldians (the demonym for the Dominion peoples) moved in and crushed the various criminal elements popping up left and right, the loyalty of those remnants was guaranteed. In a way, one would say that this essentially created the identity of the Gerheld Dominion - a nation that desires to go back to the roots, but far beyond Thel, into the mythical Old Elves...Or I'm just rambling. Ishrama knows, you, too, dear Reader, also know, that this happens often enough. One could feel this even within the architecture of the Dominion, as it is recycled from older structures from pre-Collapse times. Indeed, the capital of Gerheld (the origin its demonym) is created amongst ruins of a Thelian city, once a shining city centre, and now just a pile of debris, at least when they came here.
[TAB]And perhaps this is what truly attracts people - they want to...relieve what their distant ancestors went through to create the Imperium, to make it rise from the ashes. It is feeding into a certain disaffection amongst some that find the Kingdom "deviant" or even "degenerate", yet haven't quite found the surrounding countries fit for them. All until now. Or, perhaps, they're coming here to create something new, something unique. Of course, I would be a liar if I say that there isn't any contact between the Kingdom and the Dominion! Quite the opposite, in fact. Especially amongst newer generation, curiosity eventually gets the better of them, and they go and visit the Kingdom to see just what was so deviant that their parents moved off to these wild lands. Some of them stay. Some don't. But the Dominion, much to the chagrin of some, still remains within the cultural influence of the Kingdom, and who knows if they'll truly break out of it.
[TAB]The Kingdom! Beautiful Kingdom, finally, I am home! After all this time travelling across the continent, I return back to where I came from; the Iridescent Kingdom. What can I say about this land? It is simply the best place to live, if you'd excuse my bias. Formed by three groups fleeing from the chaos surrounding the end of the Imperium, standing in the ruins of where Novus Nalore today stands. The Humans and Gnomes saw the Elf group, and they thought that this was the end, but instead, they were greeted by them as equals, as well as sharing what little things they had. Amongst all the three groups, one leader rose - Mediocrity was her name, but now one would know her under the name of Ranunculae. She used her charisma to bind together the disparate peoples of the Kingdom in its beginnings, as well as create the Grand Charter of Novus Nalore, which had established the three principles - Kindness, Understanding, and Tolerance. As amazing as it is, to this day, they still remain in force...more or less. Maybe it is the charisma or the Queen, or maybe we truly do believe in them? Hard to say.
[TAB]So now that we've opened the topic, let me tell you a story...about our Queen, blessed She may be. I happened to have the honour to meet her, during one of the many gala dinners she hosts. It was amazing, truly an experience. She was just as everyone described her - tall, slender with a long, flowing hair. That night, she was with her usual dress - following the latest fashion trend, but as always, encrusted with a flowery pattern. I happened to get into more...closer contact (Ishrama, no! Not that contact!), and had a conversation with her. It was rather curious. From one point, she showed her "naive" and playful nature that make many think that she has some form of dementia, due to the magic she uses upon herself. In fact, she even...invited me to her bedroom, after complimenting my clothing, and then adding something about "how much better I would look without them". After my energetic refusal, she seemed to move into someone more interesting - some explorer of fame. However, I don't think that the theories about her being demented are really true - my guess would be that it is an extremely carefully played role, and the disappearances of those who oppose her seem to point towards that. A dangerous and yet, beautiful woman, running an even more dangerous and treacherous game of rule.
[TAB]But my story doesn't quite end here. After I finished my chit-chat with a noblewoman about a ship with fine silks arriving, a new figure appeared in the room. Potentate Aegis. They's been a many tales about Aegis flying around through the social spheres, mostly due to their...dubious origin, and there exist a manyfold speculations about who exactly their father is, and if he is even a Noble or not. Despite those rumours, one thing can't be denied - Aegis is the heir apparent. Today, they were in their typical attire - the ever-stylish purple and black uniform of a guardsman. They never approached me directly, due to, alas, being merely a minor noble in the grand scheme of things. Still, I believe I could still share some of the more...truthful rumours, with you, dear Readers. Aegis is a much more scaled version than the Queen, and while they often appear in public, they are far more reserved. However, in private, the rumours say, they are far more intense when it comes to discussing budgeting with the Queen, advocating for higher military investments and public works as opposed to the opulent and wasteful artistic grants that go on. One thing can't be denied, however. Most of the populace, and indeed, much of the politicians within the Kingdom are grateful for the Potentate and his role as counter-balance to the perceived idealism and foolishness of the Queen.
[TAB]The culture of the Kingdom is...eclectic. To say the least. One could say, if he or she have never visited it before, that its culture is almost caricatural (and many a Dwarf authors have gained a pretty penny while doing so) of the Thelian decadence in the years before the Collapse. Lavish balls, an unprecedented amount of sexual liberty existing within the nation are just one of the many things that people point with derision when it comes to the Kingdom. And that'd be a lie, of course, as just a single visit can break these illusions, as it becomes incredibly clear that there is a stark difference between the Thelian decadence and the Kingdom's hedonism. For starters, it is done together, in a sense that anyone, of any race, can join in the fun - whether that'd be drinking with a group, or performing other things that, well, while not needing a party, are usually done best with a such. Not to mention that the army is very inclusive towards all three races within the Kingdom - Gnomes, Elves and Humans (although, yet, the Elves are still a majority). But let's get on with the easily most important and exciting part! Magic! The spellcasters and artists of the Kingdom do not shy from using magic within their lives, turning the city into a spectacle of colours and flimsy. Magic, turned to art. A majestic sight to be seen, well worth the time and money. Finally. Names. You may recall in the beginning of this...correspondence, I called myself Placens, or, well, "smug". Hehe. Those are the Names, a very important part of the Kingdom's culture and politics. There exist two types of names - True Names, very rarely used and it is considered a faux pas to use them in public, and the other are nicknames or titles. Sometimes, a name can conceal the person's true agenda. Sometimes it can lay it out in front of your eyes.
[TAB]Finally, we come to the last portion of this. Religion. There is no state religion within the Kingdom, and all forms of faiths and beliefs are allowed to exist peacefully, as postulated within the Grand Charter itself. The faith in Ishrama is by far the most prevalent. It is however an entirely new strain, disavowing completely the old traditions set by the Imperium (encouraged by the Queen herself, so they say), abandoning completely the violent and brutal ways of old. Instead, the ideas of peace, charity and selflessness are the highest virtues one can achieve, and today, the priests of the New Faith proclaim not the death of all non-Elves, but instead, seek donations for their temples and provide shelter for those who have fallen on harder times. Believers in the New Faith seek a closer relationship with Ishrama, in hopes that She may answer back and perhaps, reveal the secrets of Mana coveted for so many generations. If nothing else, at least forgiveness for what the Thelians did in the past. Another growing...religion? More of a cult, really, all towards the Queen, with shrines devoted to her. While she hasn't tried to stop it, Aegis, as well as many of the more conservative politicians have shown their consternations towards this worship, usually pointing at the cult towards the Ethereal Empress, and how mindless groveling towards a single figure, regardless of their virtue, can lead to only bad things. It is only natural that the veneration of the Ethereal Empress, with all that it had led, is the only religion banned within the Kingdom, something that has created a serious rift between Aegis and the Queen, as the former objects to the latter's ban, believing that it is a betrayal of the core principles upon which the Kingdom has been founded upon. Of course, Aegis' counter-argument lies in the fact that such an allowance could sow seeds of destruction within the Kingdom, and destroy it...thus lending the whole point moot. Who's right? The idealist or the cynic? It is a question that the Kingdom needs to answer, if it wishes to continue operating.
[TAB]I bid you...farewell, my Reader. This is, indeed, the last entry. I believe we had a great adventure together. And not just me, Placens, the smug Elf Noble, no. With everyone, be it that dour Half Elf from Malthel, or that cuute Gnome in Rathel. It has been grand, and you've seen a whole new world. So, don't be afraid! There is a whole world for you to dip in! Set yourself free...in this world of brightened, endless skies!
Spoiler map :
Hey, guys? Remember when GMs didn't lie?
Still! Ladies, and gennnntlemen! Here we are!
The update zero of Arcanum is live! I don't know how. I don't know why, but it did. It's here. I mean. If you managed to reach this message without falling asleep while reading whole thing. If you didn't, congratulations! You're now ready to dip your feet into the exciting world of Arcanum, led by me, Tolni and ran by NC. I know, yes, most of you probably forgot about this game. Some of you probably just want me crucified for delaying this into the next month. Right. Anyway. Let slip the dogs of warrr!
Oh, you have questions? Alright.
Q: What's with those funky months, Tolni?
A: I've decided for little to no good reason to include my very own brand calendar system! Not stolen from Civ2 Stories and Tales. Thor did not give me those months so that I can shamelessly use them. So! The months are as of follows: Direchill (January), Icethaw (February), Seedbreak (March), Newleaf (April), Lifespring (May), Plantchime (June), Sunjoy (July), Warmpeak (August), Dullsky (September), Firstfall (October), Snowcheer (November), Coldgust (December). I know, I know, some of you may hate it. Don't worry. You'll get used to it. It's just a name, and I wouldn't mind if you make some calendars of your own. Just...don't go overboard, for the sake of my sanity, alright?
Q: I took a look at the map AND THE DOTS OF MY NEIGHBOURS ARE BIGGER WHAT DOES THIS MEAN?
A: It means that letting me do the map only *sounded* like a good idea, but now, not so much. In any case, the size of the dots is irrelevant, as you have mostly equal city populations anyway. Speaking of which, blue/red is for capitals, while white/black is for cities. Also, yes, there's a chance I may have gotten your locations slightly wrong. I apologise from the depths of my nonexistent heart.
Q: Speaking about maps, what about the climate map? I've started in the tundra. Brr.
A: Well, I have decided to ignore the map and merely use it as a guidance, in the best of cases. There won't be any real mechanical maluses from starting in a certain area, although, I would like during your RP to act as if you're actually in the terrain; i.e, no "tropical forests in the tundra" or some other nonsense.
Q: So...when's the deadline for orders?
A: The deadline for the orders is set at 28th of August
Q: Wow, three weeks? Why so much?
A: Mostly downtime. The last month has been stressful for both of us, trying to get this novel-sized update *and* make it work within the mechanics of the rules. Some corners have been cut, as for an example, a majority of Thel NPCs aren't entirely described. If you're curious about an NPC that has not been described, just submit a Request for Information (RFI) via PM. It also gives players to get their ideas out of their system, as I'm sure that the one-month wait has accumulated many.
Q: Are we sending orders to the both of you?
A: Yes. I am not a clairvoyant, at least not yet. I'll inform you in your sleep when I am, however.
If you have any further questions, do not hesitate to ask us on Chatango/Discord/Steam/snail mail/smoke signals. Just make sure they're not stupid questions.
Ah, yes, one more thing: Huge props to ThorvaldOfLym and mechaerik for proofreading portions of the update! It wasn't really voluntary, but they still did it!
In unrelated news:
b r u h
do not worry tyo
numbness will subside in several minutes
Oh my god it happened
b r a h
This is what is left after parts have censored by the public morals committee staffed by priest Thuringen and priest Rockethel for promoting indecency.
The Republic is disappointed in the Royal Society for producing such garbage. We were under the impression you are a professional organization. As for the alleged corrupt nature of our republic, we reiterate that nothing illegal happened. It is perfectly ethical and legal for politicians to build factories and other job creating expenditures of capital during election season. As for reports of vote buying, it is not the candidate's fault if his supporter's are willing to spend money on his behalf. We remind everyone that none of the supposed money came out of his campaign funds. The ethics committee did a thorough check (ie, a very basic check that doesn't rule out craftier methods of getting money into people's hands) and found no evidence of foul play. As for the reports of political violence carried out by various gangs, none of it has been linked back to any of the candidates, and who knows why these ruffians behave the way they do.
New Thel here, ready to New and Thel.
pretend the whole paragraph on Milanda doesn't actually exist
Bland humans here, ready to bland the world.
hedonist elves are drunk
The Ngalák Mandate is ready to hasten the return of their God to the world.
Feel free to send any questions about the stats my way via PM or in the thread. I'll make a Q&A in a bit and I'm planning to alter the rules slightly in the next week to balance a few things out.
Mad props to Tolni for the awesome update.
Separate names with a comma.