Realms of Esten

Flag:
Golden scale on a red background. 

History:
“The people of Southland are the most recent arrivals on the Isle of Esten. Their forerunners were merchants and traders that came to the island for business and eventually set up a colony on the present site of Londentin. Over the years, as more traders decided to make their permanent home on the island, their numbers grew large enough that they needed to spread out. They began clearing the land and founding towns throughout the southern portion of the island. Though they are the youngest people group on the island, they have become the most populous and well known outside of Esten.”

Location and Geography:
Southland sits at the very southern end of Esten. Originally the land was overly forested marshland and swamp. Generations of clearing and cultivation have made it the most fertile farmland on the island. The soil is rich in nutrients and adequately watered by both rivers and rain. Changes in elevation are relatively minor. The land is now divided between expansive farmland, urban dwellings, and some deciduous forest.    

People and cultural values:
The people of Southland are dark skinned and of average height. Owing to their mercantile roots, they value business acumen, financial and industrial ingenuity, hard work, education, and visible prosperity. Financial gain is pursued for the purpose of enjoying life through comfort, entertainment, and learning.   

Military:
Southland does not possess a standing army. Instead they hire mercenaries as needed to protect themselves and their interests. These mercenaries are a mixture of those local to Southland and foreigners.

Economy:
Southland’s economy is centered around trade, banking, farming (including the exportation of seed, equipment, and techniques), the arts, and education. It is the only realm in Esten that possess a university and where occupations such as being a musician, painter, or actor are viable career paths, albeit under the direction of a generous benefactor.

Government:
Southland is a pseudo-democracy. Property owners are granted voting rights to elect members of the Chamber. Most of the land is owned by upper class merchant families that live in the cities and lease it to farmers. The Chamber in turn elects five Directors.

Directors:
First Director – controls the proceedings of the government, determines which issues are brought to the floor when and breaks voting ties.
Director of Foreign Affairs – sets diplomacy and trade agreements with other realms and countries.
Director of Security – hires mercenaries and local law enforcement. Oversees the court system.
Director of Infrastructure – in charge of the building and maintenance of roads, city planning and upkeep, as well as other public works such as waste disposal.
Director of Finance – manages the government budget, banking industry, and revenue collection.

Major Cities:
Londentin – most populous city in all of Esten as well as the largest trading port. Home to both the University of Esten as well as the King’s Theater. It is also the Capitol where both the Chamber and Directors are located.

Bellham – while Londentin has the largest port and does the most trade, Bellham boasts the foremost shipyard for the construction and repair of any kind of sailing vessel.

Leester – main agricultural hub and market for farm produce and equipment.

Ta’No and Ta’So – secondary ports for ships coming from and going to the Continent that are awaiting favorable weather or in need of repairs or victualing.

Yarnborough – facilitates trade between Waymar and Southland. Leading city in the textile and animal fur (imported from Waymar) industries.

Flag:
Green evergreen on a brown background

History:
“There is no recorded date as to when Grenwood was first settled, but there was already a ruling family in place by the time of the High Kings. The leader of Grenwood swore fealty to the High King and was named “Prince of Grenwood,” thereafter serving as the King’s representative. Since that time, the Prince has ruled in the name of the King. The people of Grenwood see themselves as the most legitimate nation in Esten due to their ruling family’s connection to the past High Kings.”

Location and Geography:
Situated in northwest Esten, Grenwood is heavily forested by evergreens. The landscape is interrupted tree covered hills and even a few mountains at its northernmost point. Pleasant in the summer and cold in the winter the forests of Grenwood are a source of life giving resources for those with the skill and experience to make use of them.

People and cultural values:
Tall and fair skinned, the people of Grenwood value honor, integrity, ability, and fortitude. While not arrogant­––at least in their own eyes––they do possess an unyielding pride in themselves that can work to their detriment in certain situations.        

Military:
Grenwood maintains a standing army paid from the Prince’s purse. Soldiers of Grenwood are especially adept at fighting in wooded terrain. They are principally trained in the use of both the long sword and longbow, but spears and axes are also used. Though they have few horses, the ones they possess are bred for size and strength.

Economy:
Timber, fishing, and farming are Grenwood’s main industries. Much of the wood used in Bellham’s shipyards is imported from Grenwood and some is even shipped all the way to the Continent.

 Government:
Grenwood is ruled by a hereditary Prince who appoints ministers and other officials to serve under him. The Prince’s word is law and the people are generally happy to follow it.     

Major Cities:
Harborheim – largest city in Grenwood. Port for the majority of Grenwood’s trade and fishing. Winter location of the Prince’s court.

Behrden – main location for Grenwood’s army and the Prince’s summer court.

Norwold – secondary fishing and timber city.

Oswell – minor fishing city and summer getaway for the relatively well-to-do in Grenwood.

Flag:
Red horse on an off-white background.

History:
Because their nomadic lifestyle discourages carrying items such as books––which would be of only marginal daily value­­––their history is mainly oral. In fact, only a select few whose role involves dealing with outsiders through diplomacy or trade are taught how to read and write. The elders of the tribes function as the keepers of their history. They claim the tribes were in Esten long before any of the other current peoples, even before the breaking of the Tablet.

The story goes that at that time the tribes were divided and sometimes fought one another. An unknown chief was killed in one of these tribal wars and his wife, who was named Mar, assumed leadership of her tribe because their son was too young. Instead of trying to gain revenge for her husband’s death, she called a meeting of all the tribes of the plains and their leaders. At this meeting she declared her desire to put the past disputes behind and pursue “the way of unity” among the tribes. This came to be called the “Way of Mar.” The other chiefs were so moved by her example they gave her and her family the role of chief over all the tribes of the plains. Since then the tribes of Waymar have been led by her eldest female descendant.          

Location and Geography:
Waymar is located on the Eastern side of Esten. The terrain is mostly grassy steppes with a few rivers and various watering holes. It also has the largest lake in Esten. Due to the flat open nature of the land, the winds in Waymar can be quite powerful when they blow in from the coast. These coastal winds sometimes carry terrific thunderstorms with them that drench the land and set the night sky ablaze with lightning.

People and cultural values:
The people are of average height and build, tan skin, dark hair, and almost always bowlegged from life spent atop their small horses. They value storytelling, prowess in battle, riding ability, vigilance, and respect, especially for those in leadership or who have reached advanced age.

Military:
Every adult male and female serves in their army. Each warrior can handle a spear, sword, and composite bow, while also being an expert rider. Small, quick horses make them excellent horse archers and they excel fighting in open terrain.

Economy:
The tribes of Waymar live a nomadic lifestyle raising herd animals for most of their needs. They also hunt and forage. Familial wealth is not measured by money (though they do use money for the purposes of trade), but how many members are in a family and how many animals they own. While each camp can be entirely self-sufficient, they often sell furs and animals to Southland in exchange for higher quality metal or jewelry. They will often pay more to buy Orelaini steel from Southland rather than deal with Orelain directly, due to their long held animosity towards the mountain dwellers.

Government:
The chief, with the guidance of the elders, leads the tribes. Each group of families that constitutes a camp has a leader she appoints as her representative. Tribal law is mainly a series of customs handed down through the generations that are rarely changed.

Major Cities:
Waymar has no cities. Instead they are divided into camps that move as the seasons change throughout the grazelands. They keep a few settlements near Southland solely for the purpose of storing materials for trade but even these look temporary in appearance.

Flag:
Varies by city.

History:
“Six men and their entire extended families arrived from the Continent after hearing tales of the enormous wealth of the mountains in the far north of Esten. By the time the story had reached their home country, the mountains were said to be made of gold and sparkle in the sun because of the number of diamonds and precious stones resting on their slopes.”

“When they finally arrived, instead of finding mountains of gold and precious stones ripe for picking, they discovered unforgiving giants of cold hard stone. After struggling farther into the mountains in search of their treasure and not finding it, they fell to bickering among one another in regards to who was responsible for believing such a fanciful lie and bringing them across the world to such a desolate place. None of them could agree and they each took their large families and split apart.”

“In desperation they found caves to protect themselves and their families during the harsh winter. Facing death if they were unable to adapt to their new land, they became experts at living among the rocks. Each large family went on to found a city within a mountain of their choosing. Only once they mastered the arts of stonework and mining did they find the wealth they so eagerly sought.”

Location and Geography:
Orelain is located at the very northern tip of the island. It is made of gigantic mountains separated by a few rivers and valleys. Summer in the mountains is cool while winter can quickly turn deadly. The rocky shoreline inhibits the creation of a major port and so the vast majority of trade and travel is done on foot through the mountain passes.   

People and cultural values:
Each city has unique physical characteristics due to their familial histories, but in general the Orelaini people are short, strong, and thick. The men maintain their beards with great care and the women their hair. They are also very independent, so much so that Orelain is more a collection of city-states rather than a unified realm. They respect strength, power, skill, and the accumulation––outsiders call it hoarding––of wealth. They abhor weakness of any kind and can be as unforgiving as the gray stone they are so adept at shaping.  

Military:
Each city maintains an army that is most often used against the other cities of Orelain when they have disputes. Orelaini soldiers are heavily armored and can be trained with any combination of spear, sword, axe, or crossbow. They are also renowned for their engineers who construct and employ all manner of siege equipment. Orelain possess no horses, instead they use either donkeys or muskoxen as beasts of burden.  

Economy:
While the original families were wrong about the ease of gathering the wealth of the mountains, they were right that there was gold, precious stones, and other valuable metals in abundance. Mining and crafting these elements is the chief component of the Orelaini economy, so much so that the majority of their food has to be imported by caravan.

Government:
Each city is ruled by a warlord or strongman. Whoever happens to command the most respect through a combination of wealth, strength in battle, cunning, and force of personality rules. Often a change in leadership occurs when this respect is weakened and another has risen in the eyes of a large part of the populace. These changes in leadership range in violence from a trial by single combat all the way to civil war within the city. Only a few warlords have managed to pass on their leadership to their sons and no family has remained in control of a city for more than three generations.

Major Cities:
Karekemish – largest and strongest city in Orelain. Being situated close to the southern border all trade on the main route must pass by Karekemish first, giving it a decided advantage over the other cities. Current ruler: Senakarib, represented by a Lynx.

Ekallatum – northernmost city in Orelain. The people are renowned for their hardiness even among Orelains for living in such an inhospitable place encased in ice and snow much of the year. Current ruler: Tigranes, represented by an Eagle.

Other cities in Orelain include:

Tel Leilan – Current ruler: Akkadis, represented by a Goat.
Rachae – Current ruler: Satrapen, represented by a Mountain Lion.
Durr-Sharkin – Current ruler: Sargon, represented by a Serpent.
Mardin – Current ruler: Izalla, represented by a Rock Badger.

Flag:
None.

History:
“As long as anyone can remember, the Hook has always been a place where criminals and other desperate people have fled to hideaway. During the time of the High Kings, the Hook was patrolled by officers of the crown who were able to keep the roads mostly safe, but it has never been totally pacified. Gloomy weather and a tangle of trees and overgrowth have made it undesirable to the surrounding realms, neither Grenwood nor Southland have ever tried to take it. Various bandit leaders have gained followings and claimed competing territories within the Hook at times, but outsiders have only occasionally been aware of the changing leaders and boundaries.”    

Location and Geography:
The Hook is comprised of the southwest corner of Esten. Much of it sits at a lower elevation than the rest of the Island, though there are a number of hills, some of which are slightly prominent in regards to their surroundings. Overgrown deciduous forest covers most of the Hook, punctuated by bogs and rivers. Rain and high humidity are a near daily occurrence for much of the year.    

People and cultural values:
Most of the people are criminals or bandits from all over Esten and therefore have few “values” that they abide by other than self-preservation and personal gain. There are a few who are fleeing other types of pursuers and would rather risk living in the Hook than be found in one of the more “civilized” realms.   

Military:
The fighting skill of those living in the Hook varies, but all are armed in some manner. Leaders can sometimes gather large crews around them but nothing approaching a disciplined army.  

Economy:
Illicit activity of all kinds but primarily robbery and ransom.

Government:
None outside of the word of individual leaders.  

Major Cities:
There is only one known “city” named Frandaye. Lawless and chaotic, Frandaye functions as the hub for the sale of stolen goods, spending of stolen money, and hiring of disreputable persons. It is a cesspool of criminal activity and the port for pirates that operate out of the Hook.

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