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West Emperor Island - Main

Discussion in 'The Islands' started by Telcontar, Aug 4, 2011.

  1. Telcontar

    Telcontar Staff Moderator

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    Working Copy.jpg

    (This is a map-in-progress)

    The western half of the Emperor Island is lush and densely populated. Several notable cultures have arisen between the mighty central desert and the sea, but two especially have come to dominate.

    Along the northern coast live the Faigheal du Niel - often shortened to simply, 'the Niel.' They are a race most notable for two things - first, their mastery of the sea. The Niel are famous mariners and shipbuilders, and much of their livelihood comes from the riches of the ocean. Second is their dwellings - the Niel live primarily underground, in the vast networks of caverns that run throughout the northern coast regions. Until recent generations, they built almost no above-ground structures. Central amongst these cave systems is their capital of Crishal Otani.

    South of the Niel are the Drobani, an extremely populous race of farmers and herdsmen. They are ruled over by The Droban, whom the common folk revere as a living God. He and the Enlightened Cult maintain absolute control over ever aspect of Drobani society, ruling from their only true city, called simply the Seat of God. The rest of the Drobani are scattered throughout their vast realm, generally in small agricultural communities.

    In the southwestern region, between the forest, the river, and the sea, lie several independent city-states. These are united by a single culture, but they are often at odds with one another, both militarily and otherwise. They have been known to ally against foreign aggression, though - usually from the Drobani.

    Finally, many other peoples exist within the vast swathes of territory not claimed - or at least, not claimed in any meaningful way - by the other civilizations. The forest is home to several, and one in particular - known simply as the Snake People - inhabit a vast marsh along the northern river. This region, called the Endless Fen, is trackless and hostile. The Snake People are ferocious, and all who trade along their river must constantly find ways to appease this fickle tribe - or else.
     
    Last edited: Feb 3, 2012
  2. Telcontar

    Telcontar Staff Moderator

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    Faigheal du Niel
    "The Clever People"

    The Niel live primarily along the northern coast, amongst the myriad cave formations (karst landscape) carved over time by rivers and rainfall. Until the last several generations the Clever People seldom built above ground.

    They have a clan based system, with each clan further divided into several septs. The head of each of the clans is a member of the ruling body of the Niel. In addition there are four artisan groups, each associated with a particular God. The masters of these groups are both artisan and priest. The head of each of these groups is also on the ruling body.

    Due to a multitude of outside influences, the People rarely fight amongst themselves. Disputes between clans and septs are resolved in many, usually bloodless, ways. Cooperation and group-over-self thinking pervades their history and their society, and their councils are enviably decisive and productive.

    The Artisans

    Their most desired and valuable exports are their stoneworks - crafts of exceeding beauty and vibrance. They are skilled in making vivid dyes and lacquers from various minerals and they make everything from bowls and cups to jewelry, statuary, stone utensils, and furniture. These are the province of the Carvers, who are of the order of the Architect God.

    They also export exotic things found in the extensive cave ecosystem beneath their 'cities'. Strange plants as well as exotic beasts (including the fearsome Deep Dragon) are found there. The hunting, gathering, and preparation of these resources are the ways of the Stalkers, who adore the memory of the Fallen God. (See the Fall of the Warrior God)

    There are also poetry and writings, musical instruments (they are especially known for flutes and multi-pipes which mimic the sounds of the wind over the entrance of their caves) and history, philosophy, etc. These are set down and created by the Learned, who follow the Mentor God.

    Finally there are smaller, simpler things like brooms, baskets, lanterns, everyday items of the households. Artisans of this group (the Caretakers) also are the caretakers of healing lore. They follow the Loving God.

    Of late, a fifth group has been growing in influence, despite the fact that it does not have its own priestly service – the mariners. The Niel have always been fantastic mariners, fishers, and shipbuilders, but as their skill improved and overseas trade flourished, the wealth these men and women bring also brings influence. It has even been suggested that they organize into their own service and be given a seat on the council.

    These five groups, however, do not include every task and profession in Niel society. A vast number of people belong to none of the Artisan Services, and people may learn who do not wish to officially 'join' any of them.

    The Niel have a strikingly egalitarian society. Their Gods are neither man nor woman, and their leaders can be either - though some tendencies do exist, such as the leader of the Stalkers is usually male, and the leader of the Caretakers is often female.

    Due to the nature of their dwellings – large, interconnected cave systems – the 'cities' of the Niel are greatly spread out, and many actually connect to one another underground, blurring their boundaries. Thus, they are usually defined by their entrances. Entrances to the caves are found at many points, and most are either disguised or guarded. The largest group of these caves is known as Crishal Otani.

    The Fall of the Warrior God
    (As stated, Niel gods are neither male nor female. For brevity and simplicity, however, I will be using 'his' and 'her' when referring to them)

    For ages there were four Gods in the Niel pantheon - The Architect, the Mentor, the Lover, and The Warrior.

    The Warrior God taught the Niel to defend themselves, and to hunt the dangerous creatures both above and below. How to make weapons, how to hide and surprise the prey - these are his lessons. His followers call themselves the Stalkers.

    Hundreds of years ago, the sky darkened. Ash stole the warmth from the sun, and the sea grew restless, tossing the ships of the Clever People against the rocks. The leader of the Stalkers, high priest of the Warrior God, foretold that his God's nemesis was waking - the Deep One, bringer of Darkness, was climbing from out of the depths of the world.

    After months of ash clouds, light could be seen over the horizon, pillars of fire and darkness intertwined. The Stalkers gathered at Jucin Otani at the very tip of the Nedow Peninsula to watch - for the priests said this was the Warrior battling his foe. Three days of fire and smoke were suddenly ended by a cataclysmic roar. The waves pounded the rocks underneath the sullied sky. Days later, though, the sky cleared, and the sea began to calm. The Stalkers rejoiced, for they thought their God had been victorious.

    Their leader, whose dreams had been troubled, revealed the much darker truth to them. The Deep One and the Warrior had slain each other, and the place of their battle was now both tomb and pyre. This was not the end for the Stalkers, though. As any family would honor a fallen ancestor, so the Stalkers would continue to pass on the Warriors teachings, revering forever the Fallen God who had died to save them.
     
    Last edited: Aug 25, 2011
  3. Telcontar

    Telcontar Staff Moderator

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    The Drobani
    The servants of Droban

    A civilization of farmers and herders, the Drobani population is massive. They are ruled over by a man whom the people revere as a God. Referred to as The Droban (the meaning of which is lost), this is the basis of the name of both the country 'Droban' as well as the people 'the Drobani'.

    In the past the Drobani have often been at open war with the Niel. Because of their immense advantage in numbers, the Drobani often forced the Niel to retreat to their cavern homes, and the Drobani would follow in invasion. Within those caves, though, countless of the servants of The Droban perished to the ambush tactics of the Niel, leading the Drobani to refer to this people as "The spiders whose webs are stone."

    Save for the upper tier, this group is mostly uneducated and simple. The people worship and adore The Droban, and thus he has a firm hold on the entire society. Below him are his 'prophets' who are the hands of law and punishment. Several generations ago, the reigning God-King instituted a series of reforms that streamlined and simplified the style of rule, setting up districts overseen by a governer - positions which are appointed by the Droban, not hereditary.

    The largest city (there are only two real cities) is known as the Seat of God – outsiders generally refer to it as 'Seat City' or simply 'Seat.' It is massive and well fortified, sitting astride the confluence of two rivers (not major, but navigable).

    Most aspects of Drobani life are dictated by the Enlightened Cult. They set the yearly tithes of harvest and labor, organize the army, and operate the only schools. Education is available only to those who enter the service of the Cult, and none may forsake the service and live. Petty officials of the cult handle all record keeping, accounting, and are often minor army officers as well. Though they acquire great privilege with their service, the servants of the cult – called Voices – study and work diligently to advance. Higher ranks are not bestowed until tests of ability are passed, and skills are mastered. The cult has managed to uphold a meritocracy with startlingly little corruption.

    Brimspout is the other major population center in Droban. It is a city of industry, nestled in the mountains. From these mountains many riches are mined, especially iron. This is also a focus of the army, as constant defense is needed against the raiders from the desert.

    Most sea trade comes to the main, multicultural port on the bounds of the northern coast and desert, and then comes over land to the Seat of God. This is due to the large numbers of pirates that operate off the southern coast of Emperor Island, making trade unsafe except in the rare occasions that the Drobani mount an effort to bring the pirates under control. The Drobani are indifferent mariners, at best.

    The Drobani have the distinction of being disliked by nearly every culture in the West, no doubt stemming from their aggression in the recent past. The immediate predecessor to the current Droban managed, at a fairly young age, to conquer the other realms - though his ‘conquest’ of the Niel was tentative at best and was his eventual undoing. After a couple disastrous attempts to invade their home caverns, he built forts near all known entrances to their caves and tried to occupy the entire region. He then declared himself Emperor of the West.
     
    Last edited: Aug 6, 2011
  4. Telcontar

    Telcontar Staff Moderator

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    Geography of the West

    Overall the Western Emperor Island is a lush paradise, seldom troubled by harsh weather. It has a mild climate and plentiful rainfall. Towards the centermost points of the region it grows slightly more arid, but nothing compared to the desert.

    The western edge of the Great Desert is actually quite a ways above sea level, and is kept from encroaching further by the barrier hills, which rise up into the great mountain range on the southern coast.

    The mighty forest that dominates the center of the region (which has as many names as there are peoples around it) is technically several distinct forests that happen to adjoin each other. The center of the forest is one of the highest points in the region outside the mountain range, and most of the major rivers have their origins here. Towards the northern coast it becomes warmer and more tropical, whereas towards the south and center it takes on a more temperate nature.

    Beyond the forest to the west the ground drops sharply away in a spectacular set of cliffs and waterfalls. At the base of these cliffs is the Endless Fen, a region of marshland. These marshes never truly end, and from here to the tip of the island there are bogs and fens aplenty. Most, however, are of a more moderate size.

    Along the northern coast, surrounding the outlets of the major rivers and extending to the large peninsula in the east, is a karst landscape formed from limestone other soluble rocks. Massive cave formations mark this area, many of them with opening directly on the sea cliffs. No one can say how deep these caves run, and the local peoples find new, deeper caverns often. The caverns themselves are home to an exotic subterranean ecosystem, full of plants and animals found no-where else in the world.

    To the south of this area, and east of the forest, are a series of large, flat savannas broken occasionally by undulating hills.
     
    Last edited: Aug 7, 2012
  5. Telcontar

    Telcontar Staff Moderator

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    The Caverns of the Niel
    (For the cliffside appearance, refer to this picture, except that beneath the cliffs is the ocean.)

    The myriad rivers of the northern coast have carved a strange and wondrous landscape both above and below the surface. Some rivers disappear into the earth only to reappear at the cliffs' edge, erupting from the white stone to cascade down to the ocean. Others never reappear at all...

    Many of the caverns have large openings directly on the cliff faces, making them airy and bright. It is in these that the majority of Niel public spaces are located – their markets, their council chambers, their craft halls and barracks. Because they make their homes in caves that have far less direct light – and sometimes none at all – the Niel spend the majority of their time in the open public spaces, returning to their own domiciles only for sleep. It is this habit that has formed the remarkably communal nature of Niel society.

    Due to their reliance on these underground spaces, architectural knowledge amongst the Niel is largely concerned with keeping their caverns dry and safe. Entire underground rivers have been rerouted by Niel builders, and sturdy wooden frameworks support many of the larger public spaces. They use brick and mortar, or less commonly clay and thatch, to augment the natural gentle contours of the caves, adding individual rooms, workshops, and storage spaces. Finding ways to bring light to their deeper caves has long been a concern to the Niel, and they employ a huge variety of lamps, slow-burning torches, and even complex systems of mirrors to enliven the spaces where sunlight cannot reach. Many of the phosphorescent things that grow in the The Deep are also used, often in the homes of the Stalkers who gather them.

    The stratification of wealth and influence has a peculiar effect on where the Niel make their homes within the caves systems. Generally the homes nearest the surface entrances are not, in fact, the most disireable, as those are the first ones encountered by invaders (in the past, a perennial threat) and the most likely to be looted. Instead, the general level of prosperity increases as deeper caves are reached, and then recedes again as caves become so far from the entrances as to be inconvenient. The exception to this are the Stalkers, who always maintain their homes as far from the entrances as can be managed – and those living in Crishal Otani cluster themselves about the entrances to The Deep.

    The Deep

    The near-surface caves systems that the Niel live in are only the barest sliver of the strange world found below, though. At certain points in the low caves of the capital, Crishal Otani, there can be found passageways to the strange and dangerous realm of The Deep. (In fact, other passageways are certain to exist, but the knowledge of them is closely guarded by the Stalkers). The passage at Crishal Otani is plain to all, though, for it follows the course of a river as it sinks deeper and deeper into the earth, and it was by following this river that the ancient Stalker hero Julaith Mocarindhe Stal (which translates to Julaith Who-Follows-The-Water) discovered The Deep, hundreds of years ago.

    Since their discovery, the Stalkers have explored them, mapped them, and harvested their riches. They tell of a world of permanent twilight, where some caverns are lit by a glowing blue-green slime upon the rock, and some places are entirely devoid of light, so that a person can only find their way with their hands. Blind fish swim in the rivers and lakes, and strange creatures prowl the narrow rock passages. The Stalkers explore ever further into this world, constantly finding ways lower and deeper, and many claim that The Deep has no end, descending forever into the heart of the world.
     
    Last edited: Dec 30, 2011
  6. Telcontar

    Telcontar Staff Moderator

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    The Naravine Cities

    The various Naravine nations control most of the south island between forest, fen, and sea. Their culture and religion are generally similar, but each city is an independent political entity and they are often in conflict with each other.

    Naravine society is stratified, but fluid. The social classes are governed by strict morals and codes of conduct. Breaking them - or excelling in them - often leads a family up and down the caste system. A family's fortunes are ruled by their patriarch - or matriarch, if no male of majority age is alive in the bloodline - and they always occupy the same social caste. Any member of the house below the patriarch who transgresses is generally exiled in disgrace and thus becomes part of the lowest social class. Ironically, 'new' families often spring from this ignominious beginning.

    In general, the city-states themselves are divided into two groups - the seafaring cities with access to the coast, and the farming cities which lie further inland. Of these, the seafarers are generally richer and more powerful, but a notable exception is the proud nation of Giddeon, a large, walled city that lies close to the lands claimed by the Drobani.

    (this section will be expanded)
     
    Last edited: Aug 15, 2013
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