A point of confusion often arises around “The Empire,” or more specifically why, “The Corinthian Empire,” is granted such singular status, and virtually never causes confusion. There are numerous historic and political reasons for this, but it is best to start of with both the words Kingdom, and Empire.
What do gifted senses feel like? Variable. That’s the overly short description. Though most people share a significant overlap. As described elsewhere the brains of gifted have adapted to interpret what they feel. Nerve signals, and sensations from external sources, moving along existing pathways, and through evolved structures. Yet given the variability, I will focus on the average, common experience.
People, and animals. They feel warm, not just when in contact with them, but up to several feet away depending on the gifts of both parties. Anything more complex, or nuanced than this sense of warmth implies more than life, but rather gift. Some argue gift and life are effectively the same thing, and there is plenty of evidence to support the claim. An excess then in this hypothesis begins to open doors, possibilities, an ability to reach out with that gift and touch forces outside of the self.
One of the problems however with satisfying this common hypothesis into a theory is testability. Ambient variations in the energies found in gift, and living things are variable. Gifted people like living on ley lines, and nexuses, not simply because it benefits them in practice, but more subtly because it subdues everything else.
Magic feels either hot, or cold. Depending on the balance of aether uptake, or entropic backlash present in the spell. Most spells feel cold, because they work with ambient energy, and avoid significant aether uptake. A pure aether spell does not simply feel hot, but unnerving, unstable, with a strong entropic aura around it as energy levels try to normalize.
Plants feel delicate. Like webs of warmth around inert mater. Dryads and shaped plant life tend to have thicker tendrils of warmth running through them, often deep into the heart of even a mighty tree that would normally be entirely inert feeling on the inside.
Stone, and other dense mater. Feels like a pressure near by. Gifted can sense the outline of their environment, even the inert parts of it, if they are dense enough. Being blind, or a lack of light would only marginally impact a gifted individuals ability to navigate.
Wood and cloth. Dead organic mater has a lingering texture, not generally unpleasant, but more noticeable even than stone. Pure synthetic fabrics that have not been created through a magical process can be felt more by how they disrupt the air. Almost noisy, and rough. Synthetic fabrics formed by magic tend to feel smooth, cool, and oddly enticing. Enchanted clothing is actually a sensual satin like feeling. This pleasantness is in part why Clarions do not like to wear enchanted clothing near the skin. Direct exposure to entropic effects is however the most commonly expressed reason.
Auras are not seen. This may seem contrary, and most gifted when first told this may be bewildered, but it is easily demonstrated to them. Just have them close their eyes. A strong gift still sees their world even through closed eyes. This is due to the synesthesia applying to multiple parts of their cognition at the same time. While they feel in an extension of their skin the presence, the fine, and complex detail of the world also hijacks the visual centers of the brain.
To a gifted their sight extends beyond the peripheries of physical vision. They catch things “out of the corner of their eye,” that are actually behind them, and to the side. That being said gifted have a blind spot directly at the back, and any more than a foot away. This is literally a shadow cast by their skeletal structure. At best they can get a sense of there, or not there, but it is very hard to say more. This flaw however is countered quite effectively by defensive spells extending their perceptions, but it is still at best, their worst area of perception. Reduced to an abstract collection of lumps.
Casting a spell comes with a lot more sensations than simply being in the presence of it, and varies by the method used. Most new spell work is done by hand. Repetitive motions forming the basis for mnemonic association, physical skill helping to build structure. When casting in this way one feels sensations flowing along the skin in the direction of applied energy, often a cool sensation like a breeze.
The more gestural a spell becomes, the more of a rush is typically felt through the hand, or limb casting it. Some times electric sensations, particularly when working with electric charges, or rushes of tingling, cold, warmth, all depending on what is being cast.
Runes, and traditional patterns of magic are not strictly required. There are physical laws governing the underlying behavior of spells, traditional magic is just a single, highly robust set of patterns that work. There are others. Battle mages work to obscure their patterns, and change the structures they use to protect themselves from other mages dismantling their work. They retrain the meaning of runes, and do other things to effectively encrypt their protections.
Well practiced spells, particularly ones centered on the caster give the same sensation as hand work, but distributed over the body. One can feel a web of spell lines forming off of the skin, and in some cases even a vague abstraction of self. As though the caster is becoming the magic. While maintaining a spell, particularly a defensive array of spells, a caster has extended, and exaggerated senses through their work. If they release the spell however it will begin to decay, and they will lose most or all awareness of it. It may even feel less present than the work of other casters, since it still has a harmony derived from their own presence.
“Living Magic,” aka living energy is warm. Different living things require different frequencies of applied energy to heal, enhance, or shape. Healing your own kind is easiest, animals, and plants are harder, as you must attuned to them. Generally speaking all living energy is compatible, but the wrong type will feel odd, even unpleasant, and most often be less effective. Clarion healing practices tend to be “close” but the healer is extolled to remain in their own personal frequency, and not attune to the one they are healing. This makes the process much less pleasant for the healed, and even if the healer tries, makes them far less able to subdue pain in the patient. Clarion healing can actually even feel cold and hot at the same time.
Lycian healers practice attunement with the healed, this creates feedback loops between the nervous systems of the two parties. They go beyond merely trying to subdue any pain, or discomfort, but to impart pleasant sensations that they will feel mirrored in the point of contact. With deep enough attunement full Mirroring may begin to occur. In which they feel phantom sensations of what they are doing in the same part of their own body. Such mirroring is rare except among lovers, who when using such practices to impart pleasure may begin to feel a sense of the other persons physical sensations.
Healed, or otherwise imbued tissue is more sensitive, and aware. This can significantly exaggerate sensation. Sore tired muscles can be restored to a less tired state. Strained tendons mended. Bone fractures repaired. This does not just apply to soldiers, and lovers, but also to pack animals. Druids, who are more practiced in attuning to non-human energies will often tend to pack animals on long, arduous caravan trips. The best caravans travel with at least one mage, one druid, and one conventional healer. Though some times generalists will do, occupying two or more of these roles. Some caravan masters swear by two generalists instead, particularly when traveling through safer lands. Most however prefer the reliability of a full compliment on retainer.
Healing an animal is different than healing a person. Animals will panic if the healer does not attune, and attuning makes the healer (usually druid) feel a bit more animal like. Often hungry, and absent minded, wanting a nap, or detached. Clarions generally will not perform such services under any circumstances.
The burlesque practice of the ribbon, or cloth dance is of unknown origin. Some try to trace the practice to Laset the Living Wave, and an emulation of the forms she would weave through the air with water, by using scarves or ribbons.
Other proposed origins range from; A spring ceremony from pre-ascension lands, brought back to Osyrae by retreating conquers. A corruption of ancient southern Anderhale shamanistic wind practices. Then there is the implication it was always what it appears to be, and that the modern form of the art is a convergent evolution of many cultural influences around the shifting roll of women in post shamanistic ages.
The practice itself is indeed strange on a mechanical level. Baring aspects of elemental channeling, and magical spell craft. The cloth is typically worn on to stage, and stripped away in fluttering displays that end with the sheer fabric wound in spells that each have the same basic spiraling imperative, and that these are caught further in curls of air, and tugs on the spell filaments by the dancer.
From the perspective of an audience the result can seem quite chaotic, twisting, and spiraling with the music, though from high above a skilled dancer’s arrangements may resemble flowers, or pinwheels rolling through each other. The most capable dancers will at the end of their performance be restored to their clothed state, weaving the swirling fabric back together onto their bodies.
What is most contrary about the art form is that while it its roots can be found most often in historic subjugation, it moved up through pre-imperial courts, placing talented women at the sides of kings, and lords. Then fell out of favor through the imperial era. Modernly the practice is maintained primarily by ancient lines of practitioners, or ladies of high born houses, who have embraced the art as a form of rebellion. Even an escape from the shackles of polite society, where their great gifts let them live like queens among the fringes of wealthy underworld society.
The infamous Red Cloister of western Lycia contain the only known school where the art form is taught formally, and not handed down as tradition practitioner to practitioner. This particular derivation of the practice is amongst the most elaborate. The presence of multiple practitioners in close quarters has lead to new traditions of dance involving two, three, and even five dancers. Lycia is one of the few lands where men who perform the dance are not uncommon, and the royal court of the land will invite the cloisters best dancers to perform a ceremony marking the eve of the spring equinox. As of 638 E.R. the young King Consort of Lycia has danced in seven of the past ten spring ceremonies.
One of the most limiting factors in the spread of the practice is that it requires a not insubstantial amount of gift. In most post imperial societies, women with enough gift to perform also have other lucrative avenues of success, and so the practice has endured only out of love of the art form, or tradition.
The Arcana are a topic of much debate in learned circles. Rational minds tell us that a deck of 49 painted, named, and numbered cards, shuffled and drawn, cannot reasonably predict our future or present. Indeed there is a great degree of verifiable randomness in the process. Yet extensive studies with known criteria have historically shown a probability defying frequency of literal interpretation alignment between knowable future events, and cards, both in their conventional, and inverted positions.
From this several interesting things derive:
Arcanists. These are practitioners devoted first to a mystical practice, and secondly to rational exploration of this ideology. The Arcana are chief amongst these, and lends its name more broadly to a class of functional but poorly understood practices. Particularly those of an expressly religious nature. Commonly used to describe a devoted Clarion or Lycian healer who also practices magic.
Arcana Cult. A broader term for a collection of actions taken, without understanding why or what parts of the process work. Areas of fraught analytical endeavor. Druidic and Shamanistic practices are categorized as such by scholars.
Arcane† Magic. Is sometimes applied to the whole of Mage practices. As so much convention and tradition weight the practice under almost mystical dogmatic patterns, when there is little evidence that these are entirely beneficial. Save to avoid mistakes already made.
|House of Suns|
|House of Nobles|
|House of Peasants|
|House of Works|
|House of Beasts|
|House of Paths|
|House of Seasons|
Try clicking on a card for more information. Work in progress.
† In the original Palentian sense ‘Arcune’ would literally be a deep inward, or concave shape. The etymology appears to be convergent with arc, cave, and cove, as well others. It appears to have distantly referred to a pouch or box, but by the time of the Maji arrival had come also imply a hidden place. Aen on the other hand in some Pre-Ascension dialects appears to have meant to close, or shut. As such the modern Arcane has a likely transitional sense of, “a very closed box.”
One of the more studied aspects of the Arcana is that each card in enchanted, not simply for durability, but through a ritual process producing identifiable differences in each card. Examination of the process, enchantment, and ritual shows sequential patterns, than align well with traditional groupings of cards into sets of seven. This also means that a seer practiced enough with their cards can easily identify what a card is, before it is revealed. Many advanced seers hold that one places the cards not as they are drawn, but as they belong. That in sorting the random, one finds the pattern. That when the noise is filtered out, the words spoken are clear.
Even as this stands, the literal order shows statistical significance. Here it is presumed that something poorly understood in the enchantment variations is interacting with an unknown force. That some form of probable connection can be drawn between this force, and how the cards shuffle. Some have even tried to imply that the patterns are closely related to the structure of Storm Monk practices. That perhaps the cards do not shuffle as they are drawn at all, but that until they are seen, exist in an indeterminate state. The right stack finding the seer’s hand from their interpretation of what they have already subconsciously seen. Pulling meaning from their own gift. This is often promoted along side the mnemonic device theory of prophetic verse. That it is a tool to interpret what the seer has already seen, to draw forth precognitive memory.
One of the stranger theories put forth (with scarce evidence) is that highly skilled seers can some how manipulate what card is atop the stack. Slight of hand, even has been suggested to explain some seer’s knack for delivering the card they want. Though statistical aberrations remain prevalent even in controlled circumstances.
Older than the Arcana was The Game of Fates, originally a three suit betting game. Legend would place the game as having come from the City of the Sun, modernly the High City, and capitol of the Clarion Ascension. In its earliest forms it was played with etched stones, but they were both inconvenient, and too identifiable.
The game had been a popular vice in many impoverished areas of the city, and even spread to some wealthy circles, skipping over most of the middle classes. It was after the game was brought before the Principality of the city that the game was highly popularized with a commission to produce painted cards for play, and to add four to the original three sets for larger games.
What is most interesting is the singular record of the introduction of the game at court. Found only in the Osyraen Royal Library, in the original hand of the court herald of the City of the Sun, 563 B.E. This account implies that the predictive practice extended back to the Three Fates version of twenty one cards, and a beggar who was a seer in disguise had placed himself before the Principality through clever manipulation of the guard.
In gaming this history gives us The Three Fates, and The Seven Rivers groupings of the game. Depending on the houses used.
Each share a common core of desirable hands, and scoring rules.
The Ace or Pinnacle is the highest value card in each house, unless Dooms are High is set as a condition of play. Precise hands vary by given numbers of cards in the game.
Pairs, Sets, Runs, and Houses
Most of these are obvious, but there are some quirks A set in the number it shows, trumps a same sized set of higher value. This means that a pair of twos trumps a pair of aces, and a trio of threes can beat four fives in a Seven Rivers game. A House to be specific is a hand comprised only of one House of cards, and any house is then sorted by its content, and runs. The top run however is not in a four card hand 4 5 6 7, but 5 6 7 1. A High House, or Royal House. This is the Ace, Monarch, Consort, and Knight.
The ordering of the houses otherwise determine between otherwise equal houses, and is bellow. Giving the final quirk that a set in both the number and the house trumps any run.
- (1) House of Suns
- House of Nobles
- House of Peasants
- (2) House of Works
- House of Beasts
- House of Paths
- (3) House of Seasons (Elements)
Here we see a traditional ordering associated with the mysticism of The Three Fates. The houses are arranged by volatility and permanence. The stability, and long arc of the cosmos, through the energetic forces of the elements. Though when looks closely enough, the stars do change, and the elements obey laws.
It is notable that iconography varies between many Three Fates and Seven Rivers card sets. Drawing variable amounts of inspiration from seer decks. Notably the iconography of the Paths and Seasons gets blended into the House of Elements.
The playing cards are never enchanted for anything but durability, but the enchantments may decay over time in recognizable ways. For competitive play un-enchanted cards are used to insure fair play.
It would technically be possible to play the game with a seer deck that had not been enchanted, though some of the terms might be confusing. Seers do in fact play a version of this game, but given they can identify the cards from the back, the actual gambles are stranger. Any hand can win, if they can spin the right tale. This does mean that the game requires three extra judges (who do not have to be gifted.) This particular game is considered the most crass by many seers.
Common Rule Variants:
Standard Betting: Ante, then Call or Raise until two players remain, then either may Call.
Peasant: – Start with two cards, discard as you please, with each draw up to two or three.
Royal: – Four Card Hands, standard bets
Imperial: Five Card Hands, standard bets
Three Card River: Three card hands, with each round a card is turned from the deck, until three are revealed. Then all remaining players must Call or Fold.
Storms Wild: The Monarch of Elements represents any card of the holders choosing.
Royal: Four Card Hands, standard bets
Imperial: Five Card Hands, standard bets
Veil: Four Card Hands, after round of bets each player reveals a card
Four Card River: Four card hands, with each round a card is turned from the deck, until seven are revealed, or all fold. On the seventh card all must be revealed.
Four Card Thief: On the final Call the Jack of Peasants may be exchanged for any card revealed. This means that the Noble House of Peasants is the top hand.
Called Coin: The holder of the Pinnacle of Paths my toss a coin rather than Call, and defer any bet for the round. If it is tails the coin goes to the pot as a bet, if it’s heads they give the coin to an opponent, and take one of their cards blind.
Little is known of the practice of Ascension counts as so many old documents were burned or destroyed during the Ascension purges. It is for this exact reason they are known as Ascension Counts, as several other terms can be found in surviving documents, but none are considered clearly authoritative. They are also sometimes called Clarion Counts.
The introduction of the S at 8 is interesting, and there is some surviving evidence in Clarion writings that were not purged that the 8th, that in excess of the 7th, is the boundless, and the origin of the Rune ∞, used by convention for aether uptake, while the Rune S is used signify entropic focus.
The S is almost ignored in all relation to Arcana or Playing Fates, except a modern tradition out of Mordove manufacture that marks the Ace as $ signifying a union of 1 and 8. Some argue this makes the card 9, which is supported by some clarion writings that indicate:
The SI should be written $. It is III of III. Boundless be the numbers beyond VII.
Otherwise uninformative in a modern context this rare line indicates a marking tradition that would conflict with the modern use. Further Ascension counts do not contain a Zero, as found in the more prevalent Osyraen number system. The crossed ϴ is magical notation typically represents equilibrium, balance, and cancelation (sometimes instead written ø for distinction.) In ancient Osyraen notation this was used also for equality, with the parallel line notation being derived some time after the Maji passed through Napir.
I think it’s mentioned in II:24, dragons by volume eat a lot of stone. Their scales are woven silicates (green dragons are different). What was not mentioned is that a dragons environment has as much to do with its color as any heredity possibly could. Particularly greater dragons, who have ascended from mortal form. The environment of transformation will predispose the color of scales.
Black dragons originate from the black granite quarries north of the Osyraen capitol. This was where Prince Vhale experimented on his subjects, before becoming the Black Emperor Vhale’raus. A name taken to brag that he had taken the Sun, as the light barer he is named for, never could. With the exception of Mar’etten, and Lestra of Thebes all black dragons live in the Osyraen mountains. Lestra’sa herself has shown with her gray offspring the results may vary with the heritability of dragon coloring.
The white flight are the children of Roshana who herself transformed inside a white granite tower. Though the stone of Napir is relatively pale, it is not the white of central Corinthia. None the less it has not proven overpowering to the coloring of her children, not even Calista’etten, who was dragonborn, and ascended in her late nineties in Napir.
The green flight are all children of Alara, and are as a mater of fact photosynthetic. Alaram and Roshana’s mate both ascended amidst forest. Do not however permit this more organic, leaflike substance fool you. Green scales are actually harder due to complex carbon constructs under their photosynthetic exterior.
What does become curious is that the White Flight is white, and the Green Flight are green, while the sire of these broods are a green dragon, and a black. Clearly demonstrating the importance of the mother in dragon heredity. Though it is highly probable the reason for this is the magical part of the offspring comes almost entirely from the mother. Dragons have human (dragonborn) children primarily because they genetically are human. The rest is a magical overlay, a parallel pedigree of arcane origin. At least for the first generation, and to some extent the second, third, and sometimes fourth. Eventually however the spell rewrites what lays under it. This leads to draconic descent (falling) of the generations. Becoming more beastly.
That is until the seventh generation. Which currently present a cap on dragon population through reproduction. Seventh generation dragons cannot reproduce. Most of their eggs come out fossilized. Examination of the interior of the stone shows structures like a dragon whelp in different densities of stone. Some are strange inert collections of inorganic material. Seventh generation dragons are fairly docile, and eat almost entirely stone. The gray brood of Lestra cap out around three generations. This is believed to be a consequence of her having been turned against her own will, and having been (largely) ungifted servant in mortal life.
Lestra is as such one of the chief chinks in the assertion that the gift cannot be given. As while she is quite pale compared to other ascended dragons, she is still quite powerful in gift compared to most mages, or other practitioners. While most dragons can weave spells into their breath to produce desired effects, Lestra has difficulty doing so. The natural manifestation of it however is curious, and quite effective. It does not freeze in a conventional sense so much as attempt to crystalize what it touches. Her reduced gift means that she can manifest far less of this power than other dragons. Attempts to replicate the effect by mages have all failed. None of her offspring have shown any similar capacity.
Shown also Inverted as it is part of the symbolism of the Arcana.
Here we have The Six Starred Crown, penultimate card of the House of Paths (aka Counts for their heavy association with numbers.) A card associated with wealth and command, but also with responsibility and challenges.
Inverted it can often imply the desire, or act of casting off the gilded cage of the blessings handed to you. The shirking of responsibility, or the loss of control.
As with the other cards of the house it explicitly has a number core to it’s iconography. Six. The imperfect number. It is often understood that wealth and title are but approximations of true power. Some argue that it is intrinsic to the corruption of power that lends it this position.
It is notable that the Paths are numbered most traditionally from highest to lowest, the inverse of convention for other houses. Such it is by convention that the first and last cards The Seven Rivers and The Coin of this house are both considered the Doom, or Bane of the house. As in boundless choice lies the shackles of indecision, and in the fickle hand of chance, lies responsibility only for dealing with what lies before you.
By this token then The Six Starred Crown represents both the limitations that come with prominence, and the many choices offered by power and wealth.
Notable along with the numbering of the house, while most bear a symbol indicative of their ace as the Pinnacle Card, the Paths have a seven forked branch, or river, symbolic of The Seven Rivers (Styx.) It is a mater of historic curiosity that the proper term of the symbol is “The Branch“, not any allusion to rivers. Some historians infer that this is related to the traditional depiction of The Tree of Autumn, as a near inversion of the Seven Rivers. Some ambiguity though does arise that river branch is a proper term, but this is almost certainly derived from tree branch, and if anything can be said of seers and mystics, they are not the biggest fans of coincidence. They choose vague meanings precisely to ask deeper questions. Dualistic interpretation is stock and trade.
Commentary: I’ve been toying for some time with the idea of going through and making the 49 cards of the Thaean Arcana. This tarot inspired aspect of the world forgoes lesser arcana, and the entire deck is effectively trumps. Over time I will cover many little aspects of the practices that arise around this method of divination, and perhaps drop clues as to how they might be more than meaning ascribed and drawn from random occurrence. As things go this aspect of the story was added in more for fun than function, but that does not mean I have not thought through many ramifications, and how functional forces defined in the world may be in play. Going quite the other way over the course of Book III we will hear a quite contrary view that their primary function is not intrinsic divination, but rather perspective. Offering unexpected angles, and lenses for seers to peer through.
I’ve always been fascinated with mystical symbolism, not the specifics of any given one, but trends, patterns, cultural underpinnings. One of my absolute favorites comes from my upbringing and forgive me sighting my sources:
“a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and upon her head a crown of twelve stars” (Rev 12:1)
It is interesting that I’ve gone half here, but then, perhaps there are another six out of view. Let me be clear I’m not trying to draw any meaning here, just saying I love the imagery of a crown of stars. It’s shown up in more than one story.
Stars are just in general a weakness for me. An aspect of the near boundless expanse of the universe. Stars, are so very important, and powerful. They fill the cosmos with their light. A good flashlight can maybe do what, a mile before it disappears? There are over 24,000 of those around the Earth, maybe one less around Thaea? I’m undecided.† About seven circuits of that at the speed of light, in one second. Most of the stars you see up there are hundreds of light years away. Gonna need a better flash light. Seriously, yes, if one wants to crown a god, or a sufficiently arrogant mortal, then the diadem of choice, has to be a star.
† I’ve long imagined Thaea is just a bit lighter than Earth with a much thicker atmosphere, to help dragon flight be less fantastical.
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.