Part 67: Regarding the Realms and Towns of Arcanus as of 1421Regarding the Realms and Towns of Arcanus in the Year 1421
Through my magic, I now have reports on every folk of Arcanus, and now can finally truly provide an accurate picture of its various realms. These realms are seven in the current day, two ruled directly by great wizards, one the puppet of a wizard as the whim takes him, and the remaining four being relatively small realms of a single town each.
The Realm of Fairlands
The Fairlands are the greatest and most populous realm of Arcanus, stretching over most of the land on which the realm rests. Although most of the folk of the Fairlands are high men, there are also orcs, brown men, and halflings under its banner. A great road network links nearly every town within it to each other. Its rule is held by the Protectorate Council, a chamber of religious zealots headed by Horus the Holy, who enforce worship of the Bright Gods as law and bend the folk of the realm under heavy taxes and tithes. The Protectorate Council heads also the so-called True and Correct Church of the Light, which is a formal, realm-wide hierarchy for the priests of the Bright Gods, enforcing doctrinal correctness as interpreted by Horus. The doctrine of the True and Correct Church of the Light holds that choice itself is sin against the Bright Gods, for, without the intervention of the Dark Gods, all persons would, in a perfect world, do precisely as the promptings of the Bright Gods would compel, and all would act in their place. This interpretation is, naturally, contrary to our own traditions and beliefs.
Baronstown, the heavily-fortified capital of the Fairlands, is both the home of Horus and seat of the True and Correct Church. A massive temple as a monument to the faith of the Church rises over the town, and seminaries and schools educate the priesthood and the people in religion, literacy, and whatsoever other subjects are approved. Advanced Sorcery is used by the priesthood to monitor the town and the district about it, ensuring the eye of Horus falls upon any unrest, and the fields and forests of its district teem with activity, while men-at-arms drill in its training grounds and are outfitted with the work of the town's armorers. Despite Baronstown's strength as the seat of Horus' empire, it is no great center of trade, and many of the rents of its district are still paid in kind. Little freedom is to be found here, at the heart of Horus' dominion.
The great city of Redcastle sits at the heart of the realm of Fairlands, and is the hub of its internal trade. It sits as the primary link between the northern and southern portions of the realm, and travelling merchants meet in its markets. Although there are many temples and seminaries in Redcastle, it is not so overwhelmed by a great temple as Baronstown, and the tenor of life here is somewhat more focused on the present day. The great lakes by Redcastle and the fields about it produce a bounty of fish and crops, much-aided by the work of priests working Nature magic on the district.
Graystone, southwest of Baronstown, is one of the great centers of the Church in Fairlands and the heart of much of the realm's military strength, though not a great center of learning like Baronstown or Redcastle. The armorsmiths here are equal to the task of manufacturing full plate armor, and great warhorses are bred here to endure the weight of a man in plate armor. The forges here are aided by abundant coal dug from the nearby mountain, though, unfortunately, alchemy has yet to provide them with enchanted steel for their work. Here an order of warrior-priests dedicated to the Knight of Heaven hold their headquarters, the finest protectors of the Church in the realm. Strong walls circle the town, fortifying this important military center. Graystone is also site of the primary military naval base in Fairlands, which produces heavy roundships of amazing speed and capacity for the navy of Fairland. Around the naval base, a busy dockside market has grown to service the shipping to this town.
Though once an independent town and realm, the orcish town of Rife has been subdued by Fairlands and incorporated into its realm, ruled by a high man priest-lord appointed by Horus. The worship of Rjak and the other old Dark Gods has been suppressed in favor to the True and Correct Church, which the orcs here have grown to accept. The district about Rife is reasonably well-cultivated, and the town raises fine warhorses. The orcs here have rediscovered traditional orcish cavalry tactics, and make excellent medium cavalry, better-armored than the light cavalry of many races but still swift, and intensely-trained in skirmisher tactics. The activity of the town itself is relatively sleepy, and dominated by the church and by the savants of the town.
The free halflings of Hialanth now bow to the realm of Fairlands, and must produce heavy tithes for the realm at large. They no longer choose their own Mayor, but are ruled by a priest-lord in the stead of Horus. The traditional priesthood of all believers amongst the halflings of Hialanth endures, aiding them in cultivating their well-ordered district, but to some extent the formal authority of the True and Correct Church has been set over them so that they are raised up with the teachings of Horus. With the formal priesthood has also come greater learning, and some of the priests of Hialanth are now also true savants. Still the town remains something of a backwater, commerce and industry here sluggish.
Aifa, the last remaining town of the brown men after the dark years, has been conquered by Fairlands, and their Prince Jafar has bent the knee to Horus to rule in his name. The town rests amidst a great desert, although it has fertile fields to its east. Although Aifa's traders still work the routes to the rest of the land, their position in trade has nonetheless fallen by the wayside to some extent in recent years, with the construction of better road networks and the new markets in several towns.
Haventown rests inland in the north-central portion of Fairlands, amidst forests rich with game and near a fertile river valley suited to intensive farming. The forests are harvested for fuel and lumber, while the riverlands are well-cultivated and dotted with fishing villages. The town itself is protected by great walls and dominated by many temples and seminaries, training up more priests and savants for the glory of the realm, while desperate peasants driven to poverty and resentment by the heavy taxes and strict laws of the realm have formed a number of outlaw bands that persistently haunt the forests and rob travellers.
Newcastle, on the northern coast of the land, is perhaps the most secular of the high man towns of Fairlands. It has some temples, but many of its folk pay only lip service to the gods. The town and its district are instead dominated by their very prosperous farmlands and fishing, and an extensive industry in brewing and fish-salting for export or local consumption. A small trade port serves as the primary port of call for Storm Tribes traders to the Fairlands, while extensive walls serve as a defense against a possible sneak attack from the sea. Small boats smuggle their own cargoes across the sea to the Storm Tribes, attempting to avoid the heavy taxes of the land, and rumors persist of a gang of wreckers who attempt to lure unwary ships onto the rocks along the coast so they may salvage their cargoes.
The port of Stonetower is the primary legitimate gateway for trade from Fairlands to the Wind Tribes and to Torwell, supplying roundships from Graystone on the way north. Forestry and timbering here provide abundant supplies for ship repairs and barrel-making, helping with the laying in of cargoes. There are many temples here and the folk are devout, though yet rough and untutored.
The district once commanded by the town of Charack and settled by its orcs is now slowly being resettled by men. The villages and farmsteads here remain sparse islands amongst the wilderness that encroached after the sack of Charack.
The Storm Tribes
The Storm Tribes are held together under a league of lesser tribal kings, tributary to the High King Erich the Bold in Steinsherz, while the wizard Tauron advises the High King as he will. No roads link their towns, and trade between them is conducted either by sea or by little caravans riding across the land. The tributes exacted by the High King are heavy, and in turn the tribal kings lay heavy burdens on their own tribes. They are a warlike folk, though the High Kings have suppressed tribal wars to some extent. The hand of Tauron is clearly visible across the realm ruled by the Storm Tribes, supporting the High King as he perfects his lore. Strange beasts and great fires are seen in every town of their realm.
Steinsherz is a walled town built at the southern end of a range of hills rising above the coastal bogs on the east coast of the land of the Storm Tribes, close by the sea, which serves as seat of the High King and his wizardly advisor. Though primitive by dwarven standards, it is a place of furious industry, working mines and sawmills to feed the hunger of its craftsmen, shipyards, and builders, and it supports such savants and alchemists as low men may have. Many temples to all their many gods dot the town, and trading vessels that sail along the coast or south to Fairlands call here frequently, while the shipyards work at sleek, swift warships of cunning design. The district, too, is very well-cultivated, and slaughterhouses and breweries feed the hunger of the town well. The town is protected, not only by mortal walls of stone but also by a great barrier of fire raised by Tauron. Every town of the Storm Tribes is surrounded by such ever-burning walls of fire, with only small clear portions at the gates which may burst into full flame when the town is under threat.
Kriegsturm is the largest city of the Storm Tribes, a great walled concentration of homes on the shores of a deep lake. The tribal king of Kriegsturm is fairly peaceful as such kings go, and the vast farmlands about the city are very well cultivated, bringing their produce in to a perpetual market fair in the city, while the gods are worshipped in the city's many temples. There are few savants here, although there is yet a library gathering lore and records for those who can read them. Several ongoing feuds between clans have led to much bloodshed around Kriegsturm in recent years, and desperate men waylay caravans of traders near the city.
Donnerkampf, though somewhat smaller than Kriegsturm, is perhaps the richer city, set along the coast to participate in the Storm Tribes' sea-trade and with greater learning and industry. All is not well in Donnerkampf, however, as the town is severely plagued by piracy and strife between clans. Murder and strife are near-daily occurrences in the city, and many trading-ships sailing to and from the port are lost to piracy. Though it is perhaps an exaggeration, it is nonetheless the saying amongst the Storm Tribes that the streets run red in Donnerkampf.
Feuerlanze is an industrious fortified port, perhaps without its own shipbuilding industry but otherwise bustling and prosperous by the standards of the Storm Tribes. The active trade and wealth of the town have helped it to support its own community of savants, while the forests and hills supply it with wood, charcoal, iron, tin, and lead for all manner of crafts. Smugglers from Newcastle make port here, while the waters about Feuerlanze are troubled some of their own wreckers and pirates, although not to nearly the degree seen in Donnerkampf.
Although Windschrei is the smallest and poorest of the towns of the Storm Tribes, with a district that, although well-cultivated, is less so than their other towns, it is in many ways the most strategically-important. The single largest gold deposit known on Arcanus rests near Windschrei, and, despite the shallow and primitive mining of the deposit, its output of gold outweighs that mined any other place on that world. Most gold minted to coin or worked into jewelry and art in Arcanus ultimately originates from Windschrei. It remains peaceful, thus far, burdened under a heavy load of tribute but free of piracy and random bloodshed.
The Wind Tribes
The Wind Tribes are a more peaceful folk than the Storm Tribes, although they must endure a harsher land. Though low men, they are ruled by the Elvenqueen Freya, chief amongst the dwindling high elves who have melted into the Wind Tribes' culture as their noble lords. They are still adventurous and vigorous, but better love the test of the sea and travels of trade than they do war and bloodshed. Under the Elvenqueen, there are no kings or queens, but rather simply clan chiefs who are pledged to the Elvenqueen. Their realm is relatively small, with only two towns within it.
The town of Blutstein is the chief town of the Wind Tribes, and a busy sea and trading port with great shipyards, wedged between a great inland lake and the sea. Although its forestry and timbering are greatly active and its markets busy, it is forced to import most of its metal, trading for iron with the klackons of Ixtu and for other base metals with Beilhalle. It is well-ordered and prosperous, a seat of learning for the low men and the forge and foundry of the Wind Tribes. It also is a major military port, producing powerful warships to safeguard the land of the Wind Tribes.
Beilhalle is a busy town amidst a district marred by many cold wastelands, less well-cultivated than that around Blutstein. Nonetheless it has active markets, busy forestry, and mines that produce significant amounts of copper and lead, as well as some iron and a small amount of silver. It is situated well inland, sheltered from the cold storms that blow in from the North off the sea. The sturdy folk of the town seemingly relish the challenge of their harsh district.
The Four Lesser Realms
Over and above the three great realms of Arcanus, four lesser realms also continue to endure there. All are more or less poor places by standards of the great realms, with the possible exception of Ixtu, but they yet defend their independence.
The despotate of Krag Pool has made the best of the harsh wasteland which it occupies, and brings in great catches of fish to feed its people despite the desolation of its land. The orcs here have successfully tamed moose to mount their soldiers, fielding a strong defensive force that so far has held off any attacks by Fairlands. The existence here is bitter and hard, marked by the desolation of the cold wastelands and by the harsh discipline of orcish rule, but Krag Pool endures under the overlordship of its aging despot Sherku.
The halfling town and realm of Torwell clings to the southern coast of the land of the Wind Tribes, in the midst of a great barren desert. What narrow strips of fertile land along the coasts or on the banks of little streams are all heavily-cultivated by halfling landowners working their little patches of ground, using the Nature magic they still retain a knowledge of to make the desert bloom where it may. All the halflings of the district pay homage to the warrior-king Murdo Milkweed, who drills his warriors intensely to patrol the bounds of his desolate realm. Murdo's father, Ardo Milkweed, was crowned king after he led the defense of the town against roaming dead, and Murdo has taken his duties of defense seriously.
The thriving klackon town of Ixtu conducts an active trade of iron and some of its own crafts for salt, leather, and cloth from the Wind Tribes. Though the klackon work to exhaustion under the thrall of the Sorcery that rules them, they are content, for Ixtu has no shortage of peace, of food, or of tools and goods to perform its work, and they may commune with this Sorcery and be refreshed in their soul.
The isolated liazrdfolk town of Ulna slumps on the western shores of the land it occupies in an untidy sprawl of crude mud brick. The only structure of any real size or note is a sprawling temple complex, likewise of mud brick, surrounded by a camp of builders near-perpetually repairing the decrepit structure. A smithy serves the temple guards, forging the little scraps of bad iron used as teeth for their crude, saw-like wooden swords or made into nails for their shields. Poverty, thralldom, ignorance, and superstition reign supreme here, with the priest-king Tuuurg as their ruler in proxy.