|Rule of Archaea: The Central Provinces|
Below are brief descriptions of the central provinces of Archaea. These provinces were the first to be settled and named before the shifting of the Mists in 193 CE. Each province is listed with its province symbol (click on the image to enlarge). The provinces are listed in alphabetical order.
Ashur is the largest of all the provinces but also one of the least populated. The Ashuri maintain a low presence in the Realm, contented to remain in their lands. The province's symbol is a five-tiered, stepped pyramid.
The western half of this province is desert and survival in the hot, dry, sandy climate colors every aspect of Ashuri life. The Desert or Western Ashuri are descendants of the Desert Peoples of ancient times. They have learned to adapt to the sun-baked environment. They are known for their fine woven wares, pottery, delicate glass, and the smithing of precious metals. In fact, the mines of the Mist Mountains produce some of the finest gold, silver, platinum, and gemstones in the realm. Cities primarily gather about the major rivers and the large Lake Azarha. Abinastinal is the capital of Ashur located on the eastern shore of the lake. Travelers describe Ashur and especially Abinastinal as a colorful mosaic of people who often are wary of strangers to their lands, but once a person is welcomed, they are friends for life. On the other hand, enemies are also made for life and once insulted, the people of Ashur hold long grudges.
Moving further east and south, the desert lands slowly become green again and forested. This area, known once to the desert peoples as "the unwelcomed," has been settled primarily by Eldan, from the days of the first Sars, who sailed down the coast and found the untamed woodlands perfect for colonization. The city of Haven on the river of the same name was the first of the Eldan settlements. The Eldan Ashur are known for their timber, their woodworking, and the intricate detail in their craftsmanship--details borrowed from the fancy artisanship of the west.
Today, there has been much mixing between the desert folk and the descendants of the Eldan settlers, but an unspoken uneasiness still exists. All consider themselves Ashur-some more than others.
The Lacian saying, "To collect a bounty, travel to Asta," refers to this province's status as both a haven for those who flee an unsavory past and as a center for unsavory dealings. "Asta welcomes all," some would say. Lathay, the capital city, is rumored to house the main body of the thieves guild, the Masquerade, but no one yet has discovered its hiding place or lived to tell about it.
Much of Asta's land is forested or pungent marshland. Thus, comes the more famous saying, "I smell Lathay upon the wind"--an idiom used when foul play is suspected in a given situation.
The province's populace trace their roots to Tausan and Lacian colonists as well as from the armies of Sar Eahur during the Eahuran War. Through the years, Asta has become a mix of different peoples.
The province's crest is three jeweled rings interlinked. It is said that the rings represent the three shares in business--the first for the merchant, the second for the Crown, and the third for the Masquerade.
Although producing few goods save various elixirs, balms, poisons, and wetland herbs from its marshes, Asta is the trading center of the mainland Realm trafficking goods, knowledge, politics, and power. Materials, magic, status, and information are bartered in Lathay's streets and mansions and in underground meeting halls. Much of the land's "unofficial" government business is conducted behind closed doors and in the corners of taverns. Almost every major city is a hub for trade. To the south, Ottath, on the broad Lake Medyri, is known as a haven for mages and magical wares. To the north, Mytilene trades in arms and fine iron brought down the West River from the mines in the Feun Mountains.
Despite its northern location, Eban's weather is mild both in the winter and summer. Warm, moist breezes blow in from the Archaean Sea allowing for a temperate climate perfect for the growing of crops.
Though originally nomadic hunters and gatherers, the Ebani have become an agricultural people depending on primarily their ability to grow food and raise livestock. In fact, much of their produce goes to nearby Sarus, whose land is too rocky for farming. However, this livelihood is hardly lucrative for the Ebani and the province is the poorest of all the other areas.
Few ships travel to Eban, and if they do, they seek only the solid wood or the wild game of the Ebani forest-called the Huntingwood by natives. Ebani bowyers and fletchers and spearmakers are amongst the best in the Realm, second only to Taus. Sometimes ships travel to Eban not for food or goods but to draft the strong, stout people as laborers or soldiers. The Ebani are a quiet but stalwart people. They respect strength, loyalty, blood ties, family, the land, and its resources.
The Eban still cling to their tribal ancestry. Many of their names contain compound words often describing a personal trait or event of significance in an Ebani's life. Though united under the Lord Sovereign at the capital Graysire, each city-state proclaims a tribal independence.
In the early days of Eban's history, all the clans were united under three great warrior patriarchs. The three clans of Eban are represented by the tribes Clayrunner of Redmouth (known for their sure-footed warriors), the Firearrow of Deerhome (known for the red-painted shafts of their arrows), and the Caveeyes of Wetband (known for their ability to see at night). From these great tribes comes the symbol of Eban--three crossed spears-crossed in rest and not war, leaning against one another for mutual support.
All the clans are proud, stubborn, and often are at odds but they respect the ruling hand of the Lord Sovereign and are loyal to the power of the Sar.
The Eldan are the descendants of the conquering tribes of the first Sar. Though generations have passed and there has been much mixing of blood, the people of Eldun still consider themselves related to the ruling families of Sarus.
Eldun, named after the first Sar, has always been a naval power providing the majority of the ships for the Grand Sovereign's fleet. The Eldan are considered the first shipbuilders and their warships are still the strongest in the realm. Thus, their symbol is a stylized ship with a single billowing sail.
Other than their nautical prowess, the Eldan are skilled metalworkers and were the first to develop steel. These hearty people depend on their weaponsmithing and armorsmithing for income. Their blades and suits of plate are well known.
Cultural and political unity are important to the Eldan people. Pride in their heritage, as well as a subtle arrogance in knowing they are a mighty people, touches every corner of the Eldan way of life.
The lands of Icuna can only be loosely called a province. Much of the Valley of the Three Lakes is uninhabited, dotted by crumbling bits of stone, marble, and column; it is a place ruled by superstition and strange stories. In the tenth year of the rule of Sar Caval I, the valley of Icuna was decreed Forbidden territory. The lands were presumed to be tainted with the ancient magic and misticism of the mysterious Icuni and those who dare tread the haunted grounds often went mad, perished, or disappeared forever.
The three lakes that sit at the center of the Icuna valley, between the Darksigh Mountains to the east and the Ashen Mountains to the west, are Darksea (because of its black waters), Middlesea, and Dawnsea. It is said that the final battle of the first Age of Heroes, the "Battle at the Shores of Night," was fought on and near the northern rocky shores of Darksea near Darkhigh.
Centuries after the lifting of the Forbiddance, ship travel is being made through the lakes. However, those that brave the sail through the fog of the lakes return to their native ports with tales of spirit ships, lights from the shore, and the sounds of Icuni ghosts calling from the darkness.
The only known inhabitants of Icuna are the Lakemen. The Lakemen are the descendants of Talanthi settlers who fled from Talanth at the end of the Eahuran War. The fact that these Talanthi were able to settle the shores of the lakes furthers their claim that they hold Icuni heritage. No one is certain why past settlements failed and why the Talanthi were finally able to remain in the land. Some say the Talanthi cooperated and mingled with Ebani settlers and their mixed blood pleased the Icuni spirits allowing them to remain unharmed.
The major Lakemen cities of Darkwell, Umbrua, Iuillin, Sienii, Shay, and Draeveil. Other minor towns, though few, scatter the shores between. The Lord Sovereign of Icuna is chosen among the Governors of each major city. Generally, the Lord Governor of Darkwell serves as Lord Sovereign of Icuna as well.
Fishing, ship commerce, and the trade of artifacts found on occasional explorations of the ancient ruins marks the staple of the Lakemen livelihood. Though Talanthi blood is still strong in the Lakemen, the infusion of other people brought by ship have made the lake cities melting pots of cultures.
Lacia is the sister province to Eldun. The Lacian people themselves are related to the ancient Eldan tribes. Though they admit connections to the Eldan, they do not feel the same deep-rooted empathy and kinship to the Sar.
Lacians are jacks-of-all-trades. The province is located along ideal trade routes and contact with people from all over the Realm has enriched the Lacian way of life. They are hunters like the Tausans, farmers like the Eban, traders like the Astan, craftsmen like the Ashuri, and fisherman like the Eldan. Much of their heritage has been touched by all of the Realm's people.
Lacian fashion and clothmaking is valued by the Realm. The clothing of the noble and the rich are often made by Lacian tailors and weavers. Whether it be an embroidered tunic, dyed leather boots, or feathered hat, Lacian garb can be seen in all the finest courts. "A noble is measured by his or her Lacian hem" is often said about those who follow the trends set by Lacian clothiers. The Lacian aristocracy trade in fashion, etiquette, high style, and fine living.
It is no surprise, then, that Lacia is noted for its vineyards. Its fertile soils produce a variety of grapes and fruits from which various wines and spirits are made. Lacian Red, a sweet berry-flavored wine made from Regais grapes, is a favorite in the Realm.
Regais is the capital of Lacia. Their symbol is an unfurling pennant the color of burgundy.
Marjor is probably the least unified of all the central provinces with vast, wild territories inhabited by tribes of "barbarians." Stories of the barbaric Marjorans fill Talanthi history, which speaks of constant wars fought with the "beasts from the north." Legends say that the Marjoran sturdiness and bull-headed temperament come from being descendant from giantfolk who once lived in the crags of the Landsedge Mountains.
In the third year of the reign of Sar Caval I, Marjor was taken by the forces of the Grand Sovereign and declared a province. In fact, the cities along the Talanthi and Icunan borders were primarily a result of the occupation of the Crown but have been turned over to the native Marjorans.
The Marjorans of the cities are described as grim and easily angered. They have taken to more domesticated merchant life but still revel in a good bar brawl. The Marjorans of the wilderness are more warlike, grizzled, and occasionally form raiding bands that attack other Marjoran towns or cross into Baraki and Talanthi territory. Though many years of passed since the warring days between Marjor and Talanth and between Marjor and Barag, some still hold on to the grudges of the past.
Volagnir, the capital city, is a giant fortress that has seen and withstood many sieges. However, after the Eahuran War, magic was used by the Sar to bring down the gates of Volagnir. In fact, for the most part, Marjorans have no liking for the magical arts tending to favor the concrete feel of a weighty axe and shield. There is a distrust and fear of anyone trafficking in magic and misticism beyond divination and healing. The Marjorans would rather destroy a source of enchantment than try to understand it. In fact, the Lord Sovereign of Marjor is the only province ruler not to use a Curi seer as an advisor.
Marjor survives primarily on hunting, some farming, wood cutting, and mining. Mostly iron, copper, and coal are brought down from the Landsedge Mountains to the cities for trade. However, some Marjoran settlements, especially the smaller villages, rely heavily on booty gained from raids. These raids are not condoned by the Marjoran Lord Sovereign, but they are not punished either.
The symbol of Marjor is a double-headed axe.
Like Lacia, Reiel's prime location has made it a nation of trade. They control much of the flow of commerce reaching the northwestern provinces including Barag, Marjor, Talanth, and Icuna. The Reiellans are a mixture of peoples as well drawing heritage from primarily the Eldan, Lacian, and Ebani.
Reiel has learned Eldun's shipbuilding craft well and now maintains a close second in the production of ships. Its lush coastal forests provide an ample supply of seaworthy timber as well as fine wood for building and carving.
The history of Reiel is deep and complex, full of rebellion and resistance. There remains an undercurrent of resentment toward the Saran empire but Reiel waits, for now, quiet and obedient. Dissenter groups, like the rebel druidic group the Branch of Ellan, have spurred many native Reiellans toward the thought of secession. Unfortunately, Reiel does not possess the resources or the support to make such a maneuver.
It is rumored that Reiel only wait till they have amassed enough wealth to buy support before they attempt to gain independence from the Council of the Realm and the Crown. Reiel is unofficially sided by the provinces of Asta, Jossun, and Asara; these four provinces once made up the Power of Four during the War of the Two Realms. Though most of the general population wishes to put the past behind them and move forward in good graces with the Crown, the small pockets of "freedom fighters" continue to search out any possibility and take any chances to gain the upper hand.
Reiel's crest is a diamond divided in half. The left half is forest green and the right half is snowy white.
Sarus is the seat of the Grand Sovereign or Sar of the Realm of Archaea. Its crest is that of the Crown of Archaea. From the great city of Sarhall, the Realm is governed by the Sar and the Council of the Realm. The council is made up of twenty; each province is represented by their Lord Sovereign.
The population of Sarus is made up of primarily Eldan, Lacian, and Ebani descendants. Generally, only the upper-class and wealthy involved with the government make a home on the island. Sarhall consists of large estates kept by officials, socialites, and the elite as homes away from home or vacationing sites.
However, the native people of the island are a group called the Curi, who are said to be distant descendants of the Icuni that once inhabited the isle. The Curi are few in number but are prominent in the Realm. The Curi, or the Seers, serve the Sar and the other leaders of the land as advisors. Their mistical abilities are taken with the utmost seriousness by most and no good king, ruler, or even businessman is with a Curi counselor. There are a few small Curi settlements in the mountains of Sarus and one major, ancient city called Lleander.
Sarus is a pleasant land with mountains, rolling hills, and deep forests. However, the soil in most areas is poor for growing crops and much of the island's food and goods are imported.
Claiming direct descendence from the Icuni, the Talanthi are an old, proud people. All aspects of life are treated with artistry and ornamentation from painting to farming to fighting. Ornateness has become a trademark of Talanth; clothing tends to be flowing and highly decorated, armor and weapons are elegant, and ritual and ceremony have been installed for every activity or situation.
The attention to detail have given the Talanthi the reputation of being slow to act, but the careful deliberation and diligence of the people of this province is mistaken for hesitancy. Once an action is undertaken, it is unswerving and decisive.
Personal honor and loyalty are prized traits to these people. This can be seen in the Talanthi warriors, who are some of the most skilled and devoted fighters. Balance and reasoning are also admired characteristics. Art, music, poetry, and philosophy are also part of the education of many Talanthi including the warriors. The unity of body and mind has led to a formidable discipline possessed by the Talanthi.
The Talanthi are known for their calligraphy, papermaking, painting, carving, and silk making. They are also known for their teas and herbal remedies.
Talanth has had a long-standing feud with the Marjorans due to the frequent raids made by Marjor marauders into Talanthi country. The tensions between the Talanthi and Marjoran people are held primarily out of habit since the two groups have been skirmishing for many centuries. Furthermore, years of pride also place Talanth in a position of saving face with the Crown; the Eahuran War brought Talanth to its knees and though times have changed, the people of this province still wince at the thought of being bettered.
The capital of Talanth is Talanta. Talanth is home to the famed warrior orders, The Lords of the Hawk and the Lords of the Tiger. Its province symbol is that of the flying phoenix the color of fire.
Taus is vastly untamed with miles of uncharted wilderness that beckon the daring of heart. Its people are hearty, good-natured, and hard working.
Taus trades primarily in hunting, fur trade, timber, and woodworking. It is no wonder that most scouts, trackers, and bowmen of lore are from this province. Tausan bowyers and fletchers are the best in the Realm. Most Tausans have an inborn respect for nature and the spirit of the wilderness. The Circle, the organization of druids dedicated to the preservation and respect of nature, finds its home in the wilds of Taus.
Tausans tend to be unconcerned with the affairs of the realm-at-large and prefer to be left to their own business. Most Tausan city-states are more like sprawling townships dotting the wooded lands. The capital city, Kenwal, is a notable exception with its high walls, a busy mercantile district, and active port. Though distant from the seat of the Crown, the Tausan government does take an aggressive stance concerning Taus's interests along the Medyri Lake and among the other provinces.
The symbol of Taus consists of two circles, one within the midnight blue field of the other. The smaller circle touches the larger circle at the east cardinal position forming a white moon encircled by a crescent moon.