Aeres:The Age of Redemption
*And sitting before the great dragon Belian, the young boy pondered the wisdom of his tutor, also called The Farseer. “But master, this means that for man the only way is the way of tragedy?” A sort of mirth came into the inky black eyes of Belian as he lowered his head to the lad and whispered. “The tragic man is he who lives each moment to the fullest extent of the experience, even to the point of woe, only to discover to his delight that the law of life is strife.”
Again the boy shook his head in sadness. “Then is there no path to wisdom save by way of pain and suffering?” Belian drew back his mighty head and revealed a long row of deadly teeth that seemed to stretch the length of a long spear in what must pass as a grin among dragons. “Ahhh, young Amarna; we all walk the path of pain but take heart for he who dwells beyond has decreed that there shall come a time when we may fight to alter that path for good; this is the cycle of redemption. But you must understand that such a time comes only once in many thousands of years and it takes the most vigilant and wisest of us to perceive when that time has come.”
“Then I am glad to know that you shall be with us so we may know it,” said the boy placing his tiny hand on the smooth scaled claws of Belian while turning to look into the valley below where they sat. “There is someone coming master, it appears to be one of the Formorian…”
-Book Six of the Dragon Chronicles: The Death of Belian*h1. Aeres: The Age of Redemption h2. Political Geography
It is the 502 year of the Blue Dragon according to the Belian Calendar. It is the 72nd year in the reign of Madir El-Amarna; the tenth of his line: he of the Dragon Blood, Protector of the Four Points, Templar of Sol, and Keeper of The Sound. These are the lands west of the Walls of Stone, west of Vorgeel Territory, and north of the Liche Lords and Poure Kingdoms. It is a vale of conflict where the old faith still holds sway and the henges of Druids are cared for and revered. The Soundkeeper rules from his vast and imposing fortress looking down on Halo Bay and the fleet of powerful warships that patrol the waters north of here against pirates and any possible ideas of empire that the Tholusians or Dhalia might have. On land he maintains a standing cavalry of over 5,000 knights and infantry numbering some 10,000, as well as hundreds of rangers, skirmishers, and scouts.
Fortunately for the Soundkeeper, he does not stand alone against those who would see his family’s dynasty brought down. South of his lands, in the Copse of the Red Pine is the Wood Elven kingdom of Bun Ruy. The elves here are on constant watch for attacks by the hated Liches and defend their borders from Orkish incursions as well. None know the full strength of the Elves but on more than one occasion they have sent over 3000 warriors to the aid of the Vale Fiefs. The Elves are made up of four large and powerful clans ruled by a council. The present head of the council is Aidan Fer-Shleiy. The Elves are as aggressive as anyone will ever see; willing to range into the lands of the Liches to spy and attack as well as into Ork and Vorgeel Territory beyond the Rising Mountains. The Elves and the local Druids work closely in the defense of the forest although there are times when jurisdiction can cause some ruffled feathers.
The Ranger Lords are the power just to the east of the Soundkeeper and the area they rule is called the Vale Fiefs. There are Five Ranger Lords who sit council: Aaron the White, Soltera Bevati, Nari the Wanderer, Lord Bram, and Koenraad the Seamaster. Each controls an area that is patrolled by rangers called Wardens whose word is law. It is the highest crime in their lands to impersonate or attack a Warden. Each of the hamlets under their control is ruled by a small council whose members are called Alans. These Alan towns pay tribute to the Ranger Lords, and the Wardens in turn supplement local militia, guarantee the safety of the borders, and negotiate with the powers nearby. The Rangers also control one of the local islands; Eryn’s Island and take responsibility for the waterway between it and the mainland. Their ships of war are few but due to a good treaty with the Sea Elves they enjoy the protection of Elven vessels who appreciate having a local port where they can meet up with their kin from the Red Pines.
All of The Sound, so named because of the thunderous crashing of the waves on the rocky shores here as well at the regular appearance of lightning storms during winter months, is under the control of the Soundkeeper with the exception of the Isle of Fogbatch. This lush and pristine island is the demesne of Mephto Phyllus, the Witch-king of Fogbatch. The Tholusians attempted a sea assault against the capitol city of Sojan some eighty years past only to find their ships struggling with the fog banks that are a natural defense. Amidst this fog many ships were holed through and sunk by unknown fOrkes. Rumors persist that the Witch-king has some type of pact with the Lithids who came up from the depths and destroyed the Tholusian galleys. Even so, the island is renowned for many of its flowering plants, herbs, and vegetables; not to mention a rare species of the yew tree prized by bowyers. The city of Sojan has an outstanding commercial harbour that is rivaled only by that of the Soundkeeper.
Near to the Sound, though technically lying on the outer edges of the Olas Deep, is the island of Sable Shallows. The island was formed from basalt rock and so the sand along the entire northern coast is a rich dark black. This rock also gave its name to the capital city, Black Pool due to the massive carved fountain at its center. Though certainly unique and beautiful the sands of Sable Shallows is not what makes it truly unusual. The most unusual aspect is that the entire island is actually a Taurentine (Halfling) Shire. The Halflings maintain an active trading fleet but the entire island is lightly defended. They pay a tribute to the High King of the Dhalia whose formidable fleet defends the isle. The Dhalia gain an excellent trading area as well as a naval post much to displeasure of the Soundkeeper.
What the Kateri call the Western Duchies are actually located north and east of the Soundkeeper and they refer to themselves as the Eerste Men, or First Men as they trace their lineage back to the first men of the region. Their language, which is that spoken by all in this area is very similar to Uler, indicative of a common heritage. There are four Duchies in this area: Duchy of Ray (the largest and most influential), Duchy of Mann, Duchy of Tigert, and the Duchy of Call Valley. They maintain a reasonably good relationship with the Vale Fiefs, although they have continued to assert that those lands are actually Eerste Man territory and that the Rangers should disband their council and return the lands. This results from the idea that sometime in the distant past the Rangers were bequeathed the lands to act as guardians for a Duke’s son whose father had died while he was still a boy. The Duchies also have good relations with the Taurentine (Halflings) to the north and the Dwarves to their east. There are three Elven Clans who live and claim the majority of Shepards Wood, which lies in the heart of the Duchy of Ray. Sometimes there are squabbles regarding logging and squatters between the present Duchess (Katrina) and the Elves but there has not been war for several generations.
The Rising Mountains are the natural barrier between the Duchies and the Liches in the south, though some area north of the mountains is unsettled and rather dangerous. The mountains themselves were once home to Dwarves but they were driven from there during the War of the Walking Dead and are presently a haven for Goblins, Trolls, and other unpleasant creatures. The only section that is reasonably safe for human passage is the area near Foggy Mountain and Jester’s Pass, which has Wardens patrolling it regularly. North and east of the Risings, as they are often called, are the Dunes of Blood. A veritable rocky wasteland of dark red clay (hence the name) that plays home to tribes of Lizard-men and their hated enemies, the Rock Trolls. The Lizard-men have a loose alliance with the Rangers of the Vale.
Near to the Dunes of Blood are the hills and low mountains that make up the southern and western feet of the Walls of Stone. Though not the sole purview of the Dwarves, they do have several established cities in the region. The principle city is Volsunga Quarry which is home to over three thousand Hill and Mountain Dwarves. The quarry was actually shut years ago and the lower portion flooded to create a natural water reservoir for the inhabitants while the upper sections and the land that extends out from it were walled and cordoned off into a well organized city. The Duchies benefit from various stone and craft products made by skilled Dwarves and the Dwarves, never much for agriculture, receive the bounty of the verdant lands in the west.
South of the Risings and the Copse of the Red Pine are the nefarious Liche Lords who are almost unceasingly seeking to undermine and destroy the Human, Elf, and Dwarven lands near them. They might well have a better chance of success except the Vorgeel broke away from them after the War of the Walking Dead and though cruel and manipulative by nature, Vorgeel are willing to deal with Humans as opposed to simply warring with them. Also, the Orks of the Poure Kingdoms no longer suffer the yoke of the Liches, though they clearly maintain some sort of alliance with them and indeed supplement the ranks of their armies as well.
The Poure Kingdoms are the primary home of the Orks of Aeres. Though called Kingdoms, they are essentially many war bands that unite under lesser overlords who in turn swear fealty to the greater Overlords. The fiercest among them is Lord Ammuna, who rules from his sprawling city of Aqmol. The Orks, though highly aggressive and somewhat unruly are well organized under their leaders who find regular outlets for their warlike nature. They have been known to carry on extended battles with neighbors to their north, west, and south. Also, there is little love lost between Orks and Vorgeel, so it is not uncommon for the Orks to send raiding parties(some would call 1000 Orks an army) into Vorgeel Territory in order kill as many as they can.