It is popular to think of Avrale in terms of Rooks; the granted duchies of the nation exemplified by towers that give them their name, and by some boasts are the origin of the shape of the piece in Chess, and not the other way around. These however do not fully describe all of the regions of Avrale, but we will begin here:
Wesrook, and Seaperch:
The city of Wesrook, and the Duke (currently Duke Regent) command most of the coastal expanse of Avrale from the sheltered bay of Wesrook Harbor. This includes a number of windward villages along the ocean steps. Most notably Seaperch, a prosperous gold mining town seven miles north of the city proper.
The wealth of Wesrook, between seagoing trade, gold, and fisheries makes it an economic force to be reckoned with within Avrale and even the wider world. Wesrook however is a fractious city, divided between the uncommonly comfortable liberal commoners, and the aristocratic often Clarion upperclass. Three times in the past two centuries the Duke Proper has chosen to serve as Knight Commander of the King’s guard at Broken Hill, rather than reign over the region, leaving the seat to his brother, while retaining inheritance for his son.
The city and tower are situated near the center of an ancient caldera that formed vast open flatlands amidst the security of high mountains. The unique geologic history of this region, and terrain has created some of the most fertile stable farmland of the world. Well drained soil wicks away excesses of ample rain through subterranean lava tubes, and funnels it out the southern cliffs in spring falls that become the northern tributary of the Niven River.
South Rook is tightly controlled by its Duke and Barons. The larger, and more reliable of the three major breadbaskets of Avrale, South Rook holds incredible sway of the politics of the nation, more so even than Wesrook. While South Rook is marginally less wealthy on the whole than Wesrook, the aristocracy has kept tight hold on that wealth, and over the past few centuries become strict Clarion adherents, all but forcing the faith upon the commoners.
This has caused passing, but never volatile political strife between South Rook and the Midrook Dynasty, and quietly held bad blood over the Council of Mordove’s choice to recognize the young heir of Midrook as the future King, having pulled away the highly gifted eldest son of the reigning duke of the day.
Almost another country, the vales of Nohrook have been separated from central Avrale several times over the centuries as Osyrean armies have taken the lowlands between the main passes. The mountainous rocky terrain of this region is none the less rich with game, and wild edible plants to have maintained numerous villages, and other outposts. The influential Lansly family almost holds more sway over Nohrook than the duke of the region, who trusts the Lanslys implicitly as his representatives at court, and keeps to himself in the far north.
Anders, Ashrook, and the North:
The rolling prairies tucked between Midrook and Nohrook are vast, and though held by Avrale in the centuries since the Dragon War, historically have been conquered many times by the armies of Osyrae. At the time of the Dragon War the region was in the command of a Northerner given the title Duke Ashton of Ashrook, and barracks in the city of Anders expanded to form the castle of Ashrook. This lasted a scarce fifteen years before the Dragon War devastated Ashrook, and left only the Duke himself, severing all of his heirs.
After the war the surviving Duke Ashton wed a common woman from the farmland where he grew up. He split his assigned lands between her son, and the people of the north. The sitting Queen Regent accepted this disposition, and her young grandson did as well. The north has been a democratic region with an elected representative ever since. The Ashtons quietly have run the region, but always remained out of the limelight, propping up the elected representatives to court instead. It is rarely emblazoned, but known well through the north. An Ashton always returns. The meaning is a mater for debate.
The lonely tower of East Rook sits on the border of Helm. It overlooks the main road from a high hill. East Rook is held by an Adorned Knighthood instead of a Duke, and the village is a quiet out of the way place to live.
Once the largest and richest city of Avrale, Midrook has never fully recovered from the Dragon War. The city remains bisected by an obsidian scar three centuries later. The Tower of Midrook sits at the west end of the once proud wall, and has been held by cousins of the reigning line since the Midrook dynasty took the throne after the death of several (some brief) former kings in the war.
The Long Valley:
Up from the lowland of Brokhal is a broad well cultivated valley that reaches all the way to the cliffs above Wesrook, and the Serpents spine, named for how the west most ridge of these mountains look. The Long Valley is traditionally held by the crown, and managed by one or more barons.
Brokhal and Broken Hill:
By land area Brokhal is one of the larger cities in the western world, and the capital of Avrale. It is however none the less considered a village for is sprawling, sparse density, and only marginal population of less than two thousand.
Broken Hill is the castle of the crown, and a proud bastion that sits high above the valley of Brokhal. It is however isolated, with a three mile winding forested road connecting it to the village bellow.
The orchards of Highvale have been there since before record, though they were nearly lost during the Dragon War. The Queen Regent Gwenevere, inspired by the writings of Sylvia Grey, and fearful of the growing influence of Clarion adherents invited a branch of the Lycian Order to take up the land, and build a cloister there to restore the orchards, and the almost abandoned village.
Highvale village has become a hotbed of conflict in Avrale between Clarions, and the reclusive Lycians who stick to their orchards, or travel elsewhere in Avrale, subverting Clarion attempts to contain them.
Deep beneath the glaciers of mount Saeah an unusual mining town stands defiant in the face of the grinding power of a glacier that gave Silver Creek its name. Resourceful mages melted a path through the glacier till they found the source of the silver flakes. The deep exposed veins have made Silver Creek a huge source of wealth for the crown which holds both Midrook and Broken Hill, putting Silver Creek clearly in their purview.
High Land and Lost Vales:
The endless branching mountains, foothills, and valleys of Avrale are filled with hidden alcoves that keep much to themselves. Notably a large but barely accessible village mountain lake in the south eastern mountains. All of these swear their allegiance to the crown, but most are too sparse, or out of the way to demand taxes from, or provide much service. This creates a situation of live and let be between all parties.
Not a part of Avrale, but of worth mentioning the vast island nation of Carth lies across a narrow straight from mainland Avrale. Carth has had good relations, and open trade with Wesrook for nearly a thousand years. They have on the other side had endless struggles with Osyrae, though even at the height of the Dragon War went unconquered, in part because they were not deemed strategically important.
Carth never officially joined the Empire, and has been ruled by the same royal line for eight hundred years. They have several times struggled to maintain their population, the rugged forested terrain of their island making isolated tribes work to maintain intermarriage, and their gene pool. Carth petitioned for a seat on the Council in the year 400 E.R, and was granted a provisional one, which has since fallen vacant.
The Noble Ranks:
The ranks of Avrale are fairly common through the rest of the world, and so worth addressing, though there are several other hierarchies that may be considered elsewhere.
Monarch and Consort
With rare exception the Queen or in past eras sometimes King is second only to to the reigning Monarch, sitting in their stead, or providing a softer side to their stern command. These powers are enumerated in fact, but most often ceremonial in practice.
Duke, Duchess, and Duchies
The regional rulers of Avrale, and all have some often arbitrary seeming position in line for the throne. All deeply complicated by intermarriage, lost favor, deviations from the default heir at the declaration of a sitting king or queen. It is considered good form to forget how far or near one is from the throne by the numbers, since it all can change. The actual duchies are referred to as Rooks by tradition, though the word duchies gets some use around granting of title, or land, as it is more traditional through international affairs that Avrale has binding treaties governing.
There are three ranks of Knight in Avrale, two heritable. All are given the same deference as a rule, and the full titles are rarely used, and internal hierarchies of command preferred in theory. Though this internal hierarchy often matches the larger one. Knight Sire is the automatic rank of the younger brother of a sitting Duke, though it is available to that Duke at their preference, leaving their younger sibling the sitting Duke or Duchess Regent.
Adorned knights hold a heritable position granted in favor to a family line that has shown a reliable, and honorable role in the nation. This heritance comes at a price, and a son must offer himself to the title in life service to the army to maintain the line. A Knight Adorned or their ancestor is granted the title in a conventional knighting ceremony by a sitting monarch. Unlike Knights Unadorned who may be granted their role by Dukes or Knight Sires for utilitarian purpose.
Of note the Knights of the Empire, are Knights Adorned, but of more equivalent rank to a Knight Sire in theory, if not in practice. Many Knights of the Empire however offer such service to the lords of various lands as to be Adorned again, and recognized properly within the hierarchy of a lands military. The phrases “twice Adorned,” and “trice Adorned” are sometimes used. Indicating both the original Imperial Knighthood, and the more regional one(s). The Mark of the Compass Rose, is the primary element of the crest of Dame Roscae and her descendants, purportedly styled for her uncommon valor in the years after the Empire’s fall, having been Adorned by no less than four nations, in addition to her inherited adornment. Her descendants often style themselves down, refusing to take their full rank until they feel they have in some small way lived up to the legacy.
Most often simply Knight is the rank that fills out the mid level of military command. These Knights are granted their position by Dukes, or Knight Sires. It is utilitarian, and given much less respect than the higher knights.
Barons are structurally curious. They outrank all Knights in civil maters, and are bellow all knights in military or law enforcement ones. Barons may rise through any avenue of commerce through which they become land managers for royalty, or hold substantial land in their own right directly beneath the monarchy. They may also be granted these lands, circumventing any gradual rise. The position is heritable if the lands are held beneath the monarchy, or if accepted by the lower nobles in charge. The honorary sometimes outlives the functional role, particularly for those wealthy enough to hold sway without land. Strictly a Baron without land is a “Low Baron,” by legal definition, but it is never spoken or written. The honor either sticks, or it doesn’t. One could, in theory, get away with using it as a “safe” slight where technically accurate, but it would still be considered terribly risqué, which may not always win your favor.