Everhaim - The Unmaking
The mightiest nation on the continent, with an ancient history and a notorious military tradition.
The city of Raelorum is surrounded by a seamless, circular wall of stone, shaped by Rulosi Magi with naught but their hands. Inside it is a rat’s maze of avenues, alleys, and streets so numerable it takes one years to learn them all. The river known as Ro Tirin runs southward through the center, dividing the city into two sectors: Ru Sur and Ru Nor (literally, “river-south and “river-north”). There are three stone bridges crisscrossing Ro Tirin, further dividing the city into six districts, each containing a temple to one of the Six Moons. By night, the city’s magnificence is obvious. The stone walls, lined with drawn silver, shimmer under the light of the Moons. This represents the gods’ blessing and the city’s relentless pace. Wagons always enter the city at night by law, as the streets are too crowded in the daytime to hold them.
Corgosan citizens are free. They nominate representatives from their district every three years to meet with the Magi and the Courgain and speak on their behalf for political matters. This legislative body is known as the Vocasant, or “The ones who voice.” Many cities within the Corgosan Empire are also free; though outer provinces, particularly those near the Vuliscan border, still engage in slave trading. Outside cities are ruled by governors appointed by the Courgain, the Magi, and the Vocasant, though once appointed, they answer solely to the Courgain. The governor is supported by a local council of elders. There is no military presence allowed in any Corgosan city, though there are the Red Spears, an order of warriors serving the temples of Oro, regulating law and order. Their punishments are exacting, cruel, and immutable–appropriate seeing as the laws are deemed divine, bequeathed to the Magi by the gods.
The most grievous offense in Corgosan law, aside from treason, is the use of sorcery. Every Corgosan family must, by law, bring all newborn children to the Temple of Thaeris for indoctrination into the “family” of the empire. The Hands of Thaeris inspect the child for illnesses and deficiencies as well as the presence of clamor. If the child is determined to be clamored, then he or she is left to the care of the parents until age 13, when the Magi adopt them to teach them to manage their gifts. This is done for two reasons: first, to ensure public safety–sorcery is a dangerous art when left in untrained hands; second, it keeps the flock vigilant if members of their family are servants of the faith.
Raelorum has three great temples: one of Thaeris, one of Oro and one of Rul. These three temples also have chapters in each of the empire’s major cities. Each temple provides valuable public services to the empire’s citizens. Thaerisi temples provide a number of welfare services: sanitariums for the mentally ill, clinics, and orphanages. They are also in charge of administering bi-weekly grain doles for the poor. This not only facilitates conquests, it also garners support for the crown and the temples. Oroan Magi are in charge of law and order; the Courgain’s personal bodyguard is drawn from Oroan Magi, not from the military, and is also commanded by a Magi. There are also 200 Oroan Arbiters, or judges, roughly one per every 5,000 people. Rulosi Magi are high craftsmen, historians, educators, and sometimes even explorers. Anywhere there is a mystery, a Rulosi Magi will be there solving it.
Corgosans trace their ancestry and beliefs back to the ancient Dutharrans, a race known to possess incredible magic, artistry and ingenuity. They believe that time is cyclical: the time of making (luroei_) gives way to a time of unmaking (niloei_) which again gives way to a time of making. This is called a Cycle of Order (ur daola). They believe that one niloei has come to pass and that another is destined to befall them again. Naturally, this is a popular subject of debate. The Courgain is head of both church and state, followed by the Magi of the Three Great Moons: Thaeris, Oro, and Rul. Corgosans believe that their culture is the superior one and when their armies conquer a land, it is to the barbarians’ benefit to surrender to civilization. Yet Corgosan religion is not enforced by law, inside or outside of Raelorum. It is, however, highly encouraged.
Corgosans believe that the body must be burned after death so the soul can ascend to heavens and become a star and guide the living. Anyone left unburned is left to be taken by Grov the Keeper. Before a soul may become a star, he is judged by Oro on his deeds in life.
Corgos’ domain once stretched across the continent’s entire shore, from the southern peninsula and the isle of Maelath to the savage plains of Domac. The last hundred years has seen Corgos diminish to half of its size. Now the empire consists of two provinces: the southern peninsula and Tirinia Noa to the north, with Mon Espadra separating them. They are connected by Ad Aelum, the road crossing north through Vun Thaere to Risime. It is the only path through Vun Thaere which foreigners may travel safely, without offending the Belastra.
Corgos’s banner is the Three Great Moons: Thaeris, Oro, and Rul, coming together across a black field, with Lux the Lord Sun below, half-ascendant.
Vulisca lies far to the east, beyond the barren San Riad, a land first explored by the Magi Iana Vulis after her excommunication. Its capital city of the same name lies roughly fifty miles south of Mon Caelia, the mysterious source of what Vuliscans call Aquialo, roughly translated as the Everflow. Mon Caelia is a colossal rock standing alone in a desert valley with a wide flat peak; the formation itself is over four miles high and nearly two in diameter, three at its base. At its top sits a great pool which spews a never ending falls and a massive spray from all directions. Inside Mon Caelia is an intricate network of tunnels that lead to the Heartspring, where water flows upward from beneath the earth and traveling to the surface. No Magi has been able to explain this phenomenon naturally (partly because no Magi has ever seen it), so it is assumed to be a result of sorcery. Vuliscans believe this site to be holy, and many make pilgrimages to be baptized by the falls. Legends say the Everflow was created by Iana Vulis to provide her followers the water they needed to survive in the desert. From Mon Caelia spring three great rushing rivers: Ro Hala, Ro Nishu, and Ro Quolor. Surrounding them is a lush rainforest, Vun Ayanar, full of wild tribes and dangerous beasts. The three rivers continue to flow into the sea, where offshore lay a seemingly endless stretch of small islands, Ilae Infea: “the islands to which there are no end.” The entire region has a very warm climate. Winter is so mild that the Vuliscan language has no words for “ice” or “snow.”
Vulisca has a very rigid class distinction: where one is born, one generally stays. The highest echelon on the scale is the Alyana, the River Mother, the Valshiar (the ten lords of Vulisca, the spiritual husbands of the Alyana, her voices in all matters political), then the families and children of the Valshiar, then the Sharavim (virgin priestesses who perform divinations), then the warriors (commanders, followed by the soldiery), then physicians and other scholars, then craftsmen and their guilds, then merchants and their guilds, then laborers, entertainers, and at last the pariahs.
Courgosan history does have record of a Magi named Iana Vulis having been expelled for practicing forbidden sorcery. Iana was reportedly a gifted healer, so gifted in fact that one touch of her hand could cure madness. What reports also indicate is that those she healed would become completely devoted to her, even die for her. Reports go on to say how Iana used her newfound status as divine agent to gather followers and mount a rebellion against the Courgain. (Iana’s Rebellion) The controversy led to a civil war lasting five years and left central Corgos in pieces. Following the war, Iana and her followers were subsequently banished into the unknown lands south of Ro Tamor. Many died in their search for inhabitable land and drinkable water.
Water is a prominent symbol in Vuliscan religion, culture, and architecture. Every Vuliscan town, from the largest city to the smallest hamlet, lies either on or near the three rivers. The city of Vulisca itself is powered by water, kept cool in the summer by a series of massive fans scattered about the city. These fans also repel the harsh storms of the desert. Throughout the city are countless fountains and aqueducts. All temples, including the holy palace of the Alyana have fountains and pools that are in direct contact with the river source. Expectant Vuliscan mothers always bear their children in these fountains, and as a result, do not feel the pain of childbirth. This practice also results in far fewer stillborn children, which explains Vulisca’s rapid population growth. It is speculated that the Everflow is a massive source of clamor, but Vuliscan hatred of Corgos has prohibited both diplomatic relations and academic study.
Vuliscan culture is more matriarchal than Corgos. The first Vuliscan code of laws was penned by Iana Vulis and her Sharavim. The Valshiar enforce the laws, but cannot create or change them, as they are bonded to the Alyana by marriage and their actions and voices are not their own. A man’s wife is not part of his estate but rather a revered figure—the source of his life, of all life—to whom he owes his life and loyalty. In return for his faithful service, a woman’s husband is her honored retainer, and she is expected to reward his loyalty with love and rear and bear his children. Vuliscan men serve as warriors, craftsmen and artists. It is said in Vulisca that the only way a man can truly create is through art. Women who are not married are also allowed to become warriors, but only as long as they remain unmarried and bear no children.
Sorcery is a more liberal practice in Vulisca. Women with magical talents are sought after by the Sharavim, while men are allowed to use their talents to enhance their craft. Vuliscan merchandise is highly sought after in Maelath and the other free lands, particularly if it is clamored. Corgos does not trade with Vulisca under any circumstances.
In Vulisca, the Alyana herself is also hailed and worshipped as a goddess, the embodiment of heavenly mercy and compassion. She possesses incredible power, wisdom, and unnatural long life, though the actual extent of her power has not been documented, since she rarely takes personal audiences. In the entire history of Vulisca, only two women have served in the post, each living well through five centuries. When Iana Vulis finally began to feel death and decay, she and Janai Rudir, her most trusted Sharavim, traveled deep into the Heartspring, and became one beneath the waters of the Everflow. Janai is a symbiant: she is herself, but also carries the knowledge, wisdom and spirit of Iana Vulis. When she passes, a symbiant will be chosen from among the lottery of girls throughout Vulisca and carry her own self as well as those who came before her. Janai still sits on the River Throne today after nearly six hundred years. Now she, too, is showing signs of exhaustion. But this is kept secret to the public by the Sharavim and the Valshiar.
The process of selecting a new vessel for the Alyana is a complicated one. It already has created a great schism within the regime between the Sharavim and the Valshiar. Some among the Valshiar wish not to continue with the tradition of transference but rather exercise their military might and rule the nation themselves, while others support the Sharavim and their weight with the common people and continue in Vulisca’s spiritual traditions.
Vulisca’s flag is solid blue, like the depths of the rivers, as endless as Aquialo.
The island of Maelath sits slightly south of the Corgosan peninsula. Two hundred miles of turbulent seas separate it as much from Corgos’ influence as its coastline. The empire has taken Maelath as a province a number of times but has never managed to hold it. Rebellion and geography—its location as well as the many storms that frequent the land out of season—have played heavily into the natives’ favor over the ages; some say the island is cursed and was never meant to be held by man. The island’s proper name, Ila Maelatha, roughly means “Isle of Rogue Storms.” The term Maelathi has become a colloquialism for a rebel, turncoat, deceiver, or anyone who will try and take advantage of you. Natives of Maelath are known mainly for their sailing and shipbuilding skills; they are also known to be shrewd traders, something the landed inhabitants have learned to deal with and adapt into their own lives.
When Valon Courgain I first sailed to Maelath in L.III.182, their assistance with shipbuilding and navigation was indispensable; though the natives had no charts and still have none to this day. Valon wished to make the island a vassal state and offered the chieftains land and title to serve under him. This was naturally an egregious insult and wound up spawning ages of fruitless war that continued unabated until Ralara Courgaina assumed the crown in L.III.312, essentially leaving the island for the Maelathi to rebuild. The colonists and veterans who had chosen to stay quickly drew up peace with the natives. Trade and assimilation have united the two cultures over the years, and Corgos has made several attempts to lay claim to Maelath, all of which have ended in either diplomatic or military failure, not so much because of Maelath’s might as much as its wealth, influence, and geographical location. Many merchant families have raised their entire estates pawning off Vuliscan goods to Corgosan buyers, and have powerful allies on both sides.
Maelath’s cosmopolitan nature allows for several faiths and races to cohabitate, even some that have been exiled from other lands. In Maelath, all beliefs and more importantly, all currencies, are welcome. Corgos and Vulisca do not trade with each other, and Maelath is thusly the only means the two cultures have to sample the other’s wares or for the most part, even meet each other. Maelath’s status as a commercial liaison has allowed the island itself to become a precious commodity itself. The island has no standing armed forces of any sort, only local militia and merchant sailors. Mercenaries easily find protection or law enforcement work in almost any of Maelath‘s cities.
Maelath is governed by a Consulate made up of the heads of the island’s major cities: Lirian and Roguespoint have the most influence. Once a town reaches a population over 50,000, they are eligible to be represented by a consul. Competition is fierce for growth between towns. However it is not so much Maelath’s government that keeps the nation sovereign so much as the several secret societies that trade in information instead of goods. It is rumored that one faction, known as the Black Leaf, knows more about the Courgain’s personal life than members of his own family.
Many scholars believe Maelath itself has some sort of arcane significance. Clamor is more prevalent there, and its effects far more potent. Magi who have defected or been otherwise exiled often travel to Maelath in search of the elusive power there. Schools of wizardry are somewhat common to be found in Maelathi cities, though it is sometimes difficult to distinguish a genuine wizard for a charlatan. The city of Roguespoint is home to two such famous wizards: master illusionist Freya Prestige, who insists her skills are purely for show, and righteous troublemaker and official public enemy Uriel Vos, also known as “Firebrand.”