Raiaera

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Capital
Form of Government Meritocracy
Ruler(s) Lady General Nalith Celiniel, High Bladesinger (Steward)
Legal System Kritarchy
Official Language(s) High Elven
Population Approximately 3.5 million)
Religious Type Druidism
Literacy 92%
Technology level Roughly Late Medieval
Major Imports Meats; Fruits; Base Metal; Liquor
Major Exports Fine Wine; Art; Weapons; Armor; Horses; Fine clothing
Natural Resources Lumber; Wheat; Potatoes; Ore; Horses; Grapes
Raiaera is the subcontinental peninsula on the eastern coast of the northern continent of Althanas. Originally populated by indigenous human and dwarven clans, the lands were settled over ten thousand years ago by elven refugees fleeing a great catastrophe in their now long lost and forgotten homeland. Over the ages the elves extended their influence until they controlled the entirety of the peninsula and forged themselves into an empire known for its art, shining cities, and magic. These years were not without trouble and strife, but each time the fledgling realm emerged stronger and reforged from its turmoil, and long too were the ages of strength and prosperity under the wise leadership of the elven lords.

Raiaera is a land of high mountains and dense forests, sweeping grasslands and stunning cities. Its people are as beautiful as its geography, with dwarf and human living alongside elf in peace and harmony. But within the hidden depths of its forests, and beyond the protective cradle of its mountains, many dangerous beasts and foes await the unwary. Rumours of vast treasure hordes and powerful artefacts abound… those who can speak of such things first-hand, though, are few and far between.

Over the ages, the realm has been coveted by many, and numerous warlords have led their hordes against Raiaera in an attempt at conquest and glory. The seemingly-peaceful elves have triumphed in a surprising number of conflicts: first against the nomadic Durklan humans that were native to the land, and then against dozens of attempted invasions by their dark elven neighbors to the west. Repeated attempts at subjugation by the Forgotten One, Xem'Zund, finally culminated in the Corpse War, in which the arch-lich and his legions of Dread Lords razed most of Raiaera's cities with their undead monstrosities. When Xem'Zund finally fell and the Corpse Horde was shattered, the opportunistic dark elves and their dwarven allies swept through Niadath Pass into Raiaera, and now occupy vast swaths of its southern territories.


[top]Geography


Perhaps Raiaera's most famous feature is Lindequalmë (lit. "death-song," but most commonly translated as the Red Forest), which occupies nearly the entire southern third of the continent. When the elves first settled the western continent, this massive, verdant southern forest was named Belegwain i Beleg, "Greatest of the Great," for its size and magnificence, and even the native nomadic tribes referred to it in their various languages as the Great Forest. It was known by these names until the War of the Tap, when the Forgotten One Podë set her sights on the forest and tainted it with her magic, turning it into a twisted forest of death with blood-red trees and horrific creatures straight out of nightmares. The forest is now too dangerous to inhabit, and was even before the Corpse War. Only small lumber villages existed just along the borders of the forest until they were eventually destroyed during the initial undead assaults.

The grasslands north of Lindequalmë are lush and fertile, spreading in a nearly unbroken band across the center of the continent. Staple crops are grown here as well as luxuries, particularly the fine wines for which the elven people are renowned, and some of the finest horses outside of Fallien are reared on the plains in the country's northeast, by the sea. Eluriand, former capital of the nation, sat in the center of these great plains, though it now lies in ruins and swarms with the remnants of the shattered Corpse Horde.

Some distance east of Eluriand lies Rîn Ugarth (lit. "remembrance of sin," but almost universally referred to simply as Eru Morn, the Black Desert), an unusual expanse of black sand and strange creatures. The Black Desert is heavily touched by magic older even than the curse on the Red Forest: though rain falls on it as often as anywhere else in Raiaera, it never reaches the ground. Even most of the elves have forgotten the reason for this, but some of the oldest and wisest scholars still remember the great horrors that gave this parched, barren land its name--and its form. A series of small, easy hills called Emyn Noeg, the Dwarf Hills, separate Eru Morn from Beinost.

Directly north of the Black Desert is a large forest called Timbrethinil (exact meaning difficult to translate; ancient elven mutation of words tîn and thîn, meaning "quiet evening," and brethil, meaning "silver birch trees"). Made up primarily of hauntingly beautiful silver birch trees, Timbrethinil is not quite so large as Lindequalmë, but has long served as an invaluable source of fine lumber and wild game for the people of nearby cities. The harder woods of Lindequalmë are better for construction (though hard to excavate since the forest was cursed), but the birchwood found in abundance in Timbrethinil is better for detailed woodwork, and the finest bows in all of Althanas are constructed of Timbrethillin birch. Most of Timbrethinil was razed at the hands of the Corpse Horde under Xem'Zund, but parts of it remain intact, and as with most forests (especially birch), the elves believe it will regrow to its former glory in a relatively short time, once it has been purified of those who would bring harm to it. Until then, the corpses of these charred, broken trees have become known as Telaith Firn (lit. "dead lands").

Raiaera is bounded by mountains to the north and west. Along the northern coast are the Tennaiglini, the Dagger Peaks, a totally impassable mountain range that separates Raiaera from Salvar and the northern seas. Only the Free Dwarves of Gunnbad inhabit these mountains, by living under them far in the northwest of Raiaera. This same mountain chain branches off to the south as it reaches Raiaera's western border, and here they are known as Orodrim Lomei, the Mountains of Dusk. From the other side of the mountains, in Alerar, they are referred to as the Mountains of Dawn, Orodrim Anoron in the elven tongue. Together they are known as Uaialaglini, the Twilight Peaks. These are more hospitable to travelers, though only one main path exists between them, connecting Raiaera with neighbouring Alerar. It is here that the great watch-city of Valinatal stood to guard against invasions from Alerar, of which there were many over the long centuries. Valinatal was razed by the undead, however, and now exists as a plague-blasted ruin known as Narenhad, the Place of Burning.

To the east and south lie the ocean, though all of Raiaera's major ports lie along its eastern shores. Anebrilith was once the jewel of the country's naval trade, but when it was destroyed and magically replaced by Beinost, it was no longer viable as a major trade destination due to the new city's extreme underpopulation. Small ports springing up along the east coast fill most of the country's shipping needs now, which are currently limited to emergency supplies for the survivors. Raiaera still maintains a mostly defensive navy that has been as-yet unscarred by the Corpse War.


[top]Cities & Ruins


The cities of Raiaera were once fair and beautiful places, marvels of architecture and economic might, and home to thousands of the fair race and those who chose to call them friends. With the advent of Xem’Zund’s armies (and the dark elf armies thereafter), city life in Raiaera has ground to a halt. The few cities that remain are either besieged or have been abandoned, while their people live in the northern forests under the protection of their boughs and hidden places. At the hands of the Corpse Horde and their mighty archlich, some of these cities have suffered fates much worse than destruction.

Raiaeran buildings vary from region to region, depending upon the availability of construction materials, the expense spared in the design, and the purpose of the town. Fortresses and villas will make use of stone, most dwellings and buildings are constructed of wood, and usage of mud and canvas is not completely unheard of, either.

No matter what the material, however, elven buildings are possessed of an elegance and beauty unmatched by other races, and even the simplest and most utilitarian of domiciles is a palace in the realms of men. They involve pendulous creations of wondrous curves and columns, designs natural, floral, flowing, and animal. Their fountains seem to defy physical boundaries, creating or warping water in impossible ways, and their gardens are botanical marvels filled with exotic colour and beauty in the most perfect of arrangements.

Elven architecture tends towards open, high buildings with many windows and high ceilings. Elves love the sky and as such build as high as possible, often erecting towers and terraces in an effort to gain as unrestricted a view of the sky as possible. Their streets are either neatly paved with cut stone, or simply carefully swept and cleansed sand. The interior of an elven building is open and filled with light due to the proliferation of large windows, which are kept open as much as possible. All buildings are generously decorated with objects d’art and other decorations, sometimes giving the impression of a lavish museum or studio to what may in reality be a home.

Wars throughout the ages have claimed victims from even the mighty high elves, and there are more than a few settlements within the borders of Raiaera that were overrun by their foes, abandoned by their denizens and lost to the annals of time. Such ruins may perhaps be found by the adventurous traveller, and retain not only a semblance of their dignity and elegance of old, but also perhaps of the magical artefacts and enchantments they once housed. Only one thing is certain: it is up to the traveller to be bold enough to find such places, and to have the strength of sword-arm and mind to claim their prizes for his own.

[top]Eluriand

Once the capital of Tel’Eldalie, a large city as Elvish cities go, and designed from the outset to be a magnificent beacon of Raiaeran ingenuity and prosperity. Frescoes of trees and flowers adorned each wall, like a peaceful forest of stone; both a defensive stronghold and an artistic masterpiece, the city was designed to withstand all the tests that time could throw at it. Impeccably designed and arranged in a regular pentagon, the crowning jewel of the city was the grand palace of Velice Arta, the Glass Palace, seat of the High Bard Council. At each corner of the inner wall was one of the four schools of Istien University, while the remaining corner was devoted to the administrative offices of Tel Aglarim, the Elven army. During the Corpse War, however, the capital of Raiaera was overrun by the forces of the necromancer Xem’Zund. What remained was a blasted urban wasteland, ransacked and littered with the corpses of those not yet raised in the Necromancer’s service. The only holdout was old Istien University, preserved against months of grinding, starving siege by ancient enchantments of incredible power. Battered by Xem’zund’s armies, these enchantments slowly faded… and with them, the last hope for the chief city of the High Elves. An expedition by General Nalith Celiniel into the ruins of Eluriand found the city abandoned and largely destroyed. The structures of the university remained, though severely damaged, and in place of the Glass Palace was a shattered ruin of death and darkness. With the outer city long since devastated by the undead, nothing now remains of the jewel of the Raiaeran people.

[top]Eluceliniel

Once known as Tirinost, was once a simple fortified villa, surrounded by a relaxed village out in the wilderness. Neither a fortress town like Valinatal nor a bustling centre like Eluriand, it took the destruction of both to turn Tirinost into something more. It flourished under the leadership of the Lady General Nalith Celiniel herself, reshaped into a great citadel of the High Elves and protected by the massed boughs of the Great Forest itself. Unlike the former capitals it was not beautiful, but distinctly utilitarian. Its sole purpose was to protect what remained of Raiaeran life within its great walls. The outer walls of Eluceliniel were composed of the trees themselves, only a few scattered entrances allowing entry into the fortress. The outer city was designed for defence, a maze of greenery and stonework funneling attackers into dead ends where they could be ambushed by waiting defenders. The inner walls had been rebuilt from ages long past, when Tirinost was a cold-blooded fortress standing against the fury of gods and men alike, huge and archaic and almost impregnable to both siege craft and magic. Eluceliniel stood strong against the ravages of the undead and the Dark Elves for many long years, but it ultimately became untenable and was abandoned by its guardians and later destroyed by Xem'Zund's hordes.

[top]Anebrilith

Formerly headquarters of the Bladesingers Guild and renowned as a city of art, history, and learning. The oldest library in Raiaera, rivaled only by the Library of Ankhas in Alerar, was also located here, containing the majority of the cumulative knowledge of the High Elves not housed in the smaller libraries at Istien. Situated on a high hill, commanding a wide view of the countryside and yet close to the sea, Raiaera’s oldest city and primary port was protected from Xem’zund’s initial onslaught by the mountains of the Emyn Noeg directly to the west. As such, it quickly became the centre of the refugee exodus, the Harbour Walls that ran six miles from city to port clogged with those desperate to escape the Necromancer’s wrath. Almost constantly under some form of siege, whether by Xem’zund’s forces on land or pirates at sea, the city slowly but surely descended into anarchy despite the best efforts of those who sought to prevent it. When no hope remained for the elven jewel of the east, Caden Law, also known as the Wizard Blueraven, had the Old City of Anebrilith torn down to the last brick by an act of alchemy and necromancy the likes of which has not been seen in living memory and will likely not ever be seen again. What replaced Anebrilith was the city of Beinost, a literal ghost-town formed from the ashes, ruins, corpses, and even the willing souls of the city that came before it.

[top]Beinost

A crescent-shaped wonder, its ends stretching out into the sea as part of an enormous harbor complex capable of docking up to fifty large ships with room to spare. It boasts a great wall nearly eighty feet high and thick enough to sport hallways, living quarters, and even supply stores at certain parts. Architecture closely resembles that of pre-War Eluriand with touches of Alerian and Salvic influences, assuming someone knows what they're looking for. Most of the city sports a dazzling color scheme of reds, purples, blues, and gold trim. The streets are cobblestone and brick, lined with sidewalks and enchanted lamps, and the entire city stands atop one of the most advanced sewer systems in the world -- all byproducts of how Beinost came into being. There is a certain eerie uniformity to the construction of houses and other small buildings in Beinost, but this can also be attributed to how the city was born. For such a large city, Beinost is extremely underpopulated: most of its citizens were dead by the time it came into being, which fueled the necromancy that gave the city birth, and many others fled north after it came into being. After so many long, suffering years under Xem'Zund's heel, there are few living elves who will trust anything that comes out of an act of necromancy, and the name Beinost is whispered in all corners of Raiaera with equal parts awe, fear, and disgust.

[top]Tor Elythis

Originally established as a High Elf colony not long after the new capital of Eluriand was completed, and located within hailing distance of the Raiaeran mainland (perhaps five day’s march north of Anebrilith) the city encompasses the entirety of the small rocky island upon which it was built and is linked to the mainland by a fortified causeway over five miles long. The city itself was designed to be a self-sufficient fortress and is comprised of three parts – the star-shaped outer city, including the docks and farmlands, the pentagonal inner city containing the palaces, the barracks, and the administrative buildings, and the outer city on the mainland guarding the opposite end of the causeway. Long known for its isolationist stance, of recent times the city has been taking a more active role in Elven politics, sending a relief force to Anebrilith in the wake of Xem’zund’s assault. Tor Elythis is renowned for its unique military structure, including the deadly elnaith horsemen, the mercenary Skyknights, and the swift and skilled Spire Guard. It is also well known as a place of learning second only to Istien, and the magi of the White Spire are both talented and wise.

[top]Carnelost

Once a fortress located at the entrance to the path to the Obsidian Spire, Carnelost stood guard over the way towards glory or death. With no way to avoid the first assaults from the undead, it was quickly reduced to ashes in the early stages of the Corpse War, and is now for the elven people a site of great mourning. Only a handful survive of the brave warriors who stood there, and the cries and chants in their memory are amongst the most moving known in the tongues of elves and men.

[top]Trenycë

Once a city that fused human and elven culture, it was renowned and reviled for the introduction of such vices as gambling and prostitution to a population that had formerly had nothing to do with them - but these brought with them great wealth for those who played their cards right. Located in the deep northeast of the country, this seat of elven art and splendor fused with human greed is now filled with plague brought by the undead, bringing swift deaths to the men who lived here, serving only to swell the ranks of Xem’zund’s horde. The city is now thick with zombies and other forms of corrupted organism. However, since Trenycë was indeed a town of immense – and often illicitly obtained – wealth, there is no doubt that it contains untold vaults of wealth. Reports name Trenycë as the current stronghold of Maeril Thyrrian, the last of the fearsome Dread Lords that made up Xem'Zund's inner circle. Here he maintains what little hold he can over the remains of the Corpse Horde, though beyond the city walls his would-be soldiers rampage uncontrolled, killing each other as often as anything else. He represents the last vestiges of the very real threat necromancy poses to Raiaera.

[top]Galonan

A town just northwest of the Dead Lands that used to be Timbrethinil. Formerly a simple trade centre and port, it became a hotbed for the Wanderers in Starlight resistance movement during the Corpse War. It is from here that they gathered to mount counterattacks and raids on Xem’zund’s forces, and to prepare Sanctifiers for the holy work of cleansing the land of his plagues and corruption. Tired of the town being used as a base for the Raiaeran counteroffensive, Xem’Zund sent an army to raze the town and annihilate everyone in it, and although brave hearts held the line still, no city had yet been able to withstand siege by the infinite undead. Xem’Zund was defeated before his siege could succeed, however, and his armies were shattered upon his demise. Golonan stands as one of the only Raiaeran cities to survive the Corpse War, and it is currently safely out of the reach of the Dark Elven invasion.

[top]Winyaurient (New Aurient)

The largest surviving city in Raiaera and one of the last remaining fortresses of the Elves. As much fortress as city, New Aurient is protected by the natural boundaries of the forest and Tennaiglini as well as its walls, and most of its citizens live and work within that forest. The walls still stand and its port on the river is still defended by brave song-mages under the command of Nalith Celiniel. She has made this the primary fortress and capital of the elven people, fortifying its walls with powerful enchantments and swelling the ranks of its meagre army. Fighting off random undead incursions by the day, they prepare without rest for the day when the United Army of Alerar will bear down on them, seeking to crush what remains of their proud brethren beneath their heels.

[top]Tilgonar

Once a small town on the southern banks of the Lake of Gold and the first way station for trading vessels traveling up-river towards the port of New Aurient. Neither as well defended as Eluriand nor as sheltered as New Aurient, Tilgonar was one of the first towns sacked by Xem’Zund’s armies as they poured forth from the shattered ruins of Carnelost. Now barely a single cinder remains of what was once a proud and bustling city.

[top]Mirdan Timbreth

Situated in the open plains to the northeast of Raiaera, beyond the reaches of what was once Timbrethinil Forest, it has long been renowned as a breeding ground for fine horses, Mirdan Timbreth also was a minor trading port and agricultural centre. Its isolated location afforded it some protection from the undead hordes, but the razing of Timbrethinil cleared the path for Xem’Zund’s armies to begin their assault upon the lucrative prize. With Anebrilith all but fallen, Mirdan Timbreth was swollen with refugees, and if the Corpse Horde bore down on it there would be nowhere left for the elves--most of the population could have been felled with a single stroke. It was then that the Forgotten One perished and the Corpse Horde broke, relieving the stress on Mirdan Timbreth. Veterans of the Corpse War and trainers from Tor Elythis saw great potential in the city’s resources and newly swelled population, and descended upon the town to begin training. A new cavalry is being developed here.

[top]Nenaebreth

A lumber and woodworking centre situated on the southern fringes of Timbrethinil, astride the main trading road between Eluriand and Anebrilith, Nenaebreth grew fat off the riches of its trade. Such prosperity, however, bred complacence, and the unwalled town was easy prey for the vanguard of Xem’Zund’s armies. In one night of frenzied violence and butchery, the Dread Lords turned the town into a staging post for their armies, depositing supplies and weapons for further strikes to the north and east. It was from Nenaebreth that the razing of Timbrethinil was conducted and the sieges of Anebrilith were planned. Realising this, a brave force of irregulars struck back from across the Emyn Noeg, and in one fell swoop defeated the undead garrison and liberated the town. It remains largely damaged but more intact than many Raiaeran cities, but resettlement has been impossible in the wake of the Dark Elven invasion so close by.

[top]Amon Lungan

Once guarded the southernmost tip of the Emyn Noeg, preventing advances upon the southern outskirts of Anebrilith and safeguarding the fertile fields of grain there. Its prime location, however, placed it directly in the path of Xem’zund’s hordes as they advanced upon the ancient port city, and Amon Lungan was sacked after a bloody siege lasting three days. Terrified refugees from the town were amongst the first to bring tidings of war to Anebrilith, but they were only an insignificant herald of what was yet to come.

[top]Gunnbad

Home to a clan of dwarves that are the most powerful of the exceptions to the convention of dwarves, being part of the dominion of the Aleran dark elves. They are fiercely proud of their independence and their heritage as one of the first dwarven clans to start trading with the elves, long before there was a differentiation between fair and dark. Their hold is located in the far north of the Mountains of Dusk, at the base of the Dagger Peaks, and their underground network ranges far and wide across northern Raiaera, Salvar, and Alerar. Gunnbad itself is a magnificent example of dwarven construction and ingenuity; an underground fortress encased in impenetrable granite. There are only two entrances to the hold; the first is the main entrance, a heavily guarded labyrinth of narrow tunnels designed to disorientate and destroy unwanted intruders via ambush and trap, while the second is the mines, even more heavily guarded due to their economic viability. The hold proper lacks the elegance and style associated with high elven architecture, but retains a majesty and grandeur that only a massive underground city can muster. The Gathering Halls function as the marketplace, barracks, administrative centre, and cultural heart of nearly ten thousand dwarves, while the remainder of the hold is composed of dwellings ranging in size from small cramped caves to multi-roomed underground palaces with no visible roof. Though the dwarves of Gunnbad strongly maintain their independence from all other nations, they do have a long and deeply respected history with Raiaera, and proclaimed their support for their elven allies as the undead hordes and Dark Elven armies began pressing north through the country.

[top]Keldagrim

Also known as Karazûnd in the dwarven tongue, it is inhabited by those who largely shun contact with the outside world, seeing the high elves as oppressive and manipulative overlords. From the fastness of their mountain fortress the inhabitants of the dwarven/human conclave quietly observe the happenings of the world below, preferring to stay remote and untouched. When angered or provoked, however, they are implacable and relentless foes. Keldagrim itself is built upon ancient dwarven ruins, with the dwarven population inhabiting a small proportion of the underground caverns whilst their human allies live and farm the barely-habitable surface. Only staunch cooperation between the two races has kept them alive, and it is this same cooperation that is the hallmark of this town.

[top]Narenhad

Once known as Valinatal, it was once the westernmost defense against any attack from Alerar. Nestled on the plain just beyond the opening of the Niadath Pass through Ered Lomei, no army could invade Raiaera from the west without taking Valinatal first, and it was the site of countless victories against those who sought to despoil the realm. Holding firm against great odds upon Xem’Zund’s invasion, it took a strangely cosmic event to destroy the great fortress. Nobody truly knows what happened to Valinatal, but the place is now unrecognizable: the entire place has been reduced to a smoking ruin now known as Narenhad, the Place of Burning.

[top]Minas Teradryn

Commonly known as the Obsidian Spire, it would be an exact replica of the great palace at Velicë Arta if not for the fact that every surface was crafted of unbreakable obsidian. Located deep within the blood-red boughs of Lindequalmë, it was from this darkest of towers that the great necromancer Xem’Zund extended his corruption across Raiaera. A daring attack managed to bring this evil place crashing to the ground, and Xem’Zund’s plans were thwarted once and for all with his death. It is certain, however, that the evil taint surrounding the Obsidian Spire has not completely dissipated, and the broken remnants of the Corpse Horde still wander the Red Forest in immense numbers.


[top]Economy


Raiaera's economy is primarily driven by the export of fine products and processed goods. Although the country produces a substantial amount of lumber, high tariffs in Alerar prevent it from providing much income to Raiaera and the lumber production of Corone itself cuts into the Raiaeran lumber market; as a result, Raiaera is better served producing goods from its lumber than exporting directly. Horses are another primary export of Raiaera; Raiaeran breeds are high-quality and known for their grace, skill, and speed, though they lack the strength and endurance of stallions born in Fallien.

The swordsmiths of Raiaera are among the finest in the world, surpassed in skill only by the Elvensmiths of Haidia. Due to a lack of metal mining sites in Raiaera, except for a few sparse locations in the northwest, most of the raw material for this work comes from Kachuck. Due to extensive tariffs levied by Alerar against goods coming into Raiaera from Kachuck, elven blades are quite expensive. Although among the best blades that can be found, they will not come cheap.

Raiaeran bows are also expensive, because there are none better anywhere in Althanas. Typically crafted from birch, most common in Timbrethinil and known for its strength and flexibility, these bows are typically strung with linen or silk fibres, extremely light and durable, treated with beeswax to repel moisture. The result is a bow that launches arrows with unparalleled distance, strength, and accuracy, and that is exceptionally resistant to the elements.

Due to the intense focus on magical arts within Raiaera, the nation does a brisk business in enchanted items. Although most enchantments are short-lived, it is possible to permanently enchant a weapon. Such permanent enchantments are difficult to create and may require materials that are more magically inclined; as a result, they are expensive and difficult to come by. Nevertheless, magic is a business Raiaerans know well, and the enchantments of the elves are second to none.

Other exports of Raiaera include fine wines and fine art. Raiaeran architects, sculptors, painters, and musicians are in demand among the cultural elite throughout the known world -- even upper class dark elves will sometimes have a Raiaeran bard in their retinue, although they will probably try to keep it quiet. Raiaera regularly imports much of its meat supply and seasonal fruits and vegetables to supplement the wheat-and-potato staples grown within the country. Hard liquor, primarily to serve the humans in Trenycë, is also imported, generally at a steep price, from Alerar.

The currency of Raiaera is the Raiaeran Mark. Made of mythril, marks come in a variety of sizes, from coin-sized pieces worth small amounts to the larger mythril plates worth up to 1000 gold. Smaller Raiaeran Marks often contain an iron center, a novelty introduced to counter the problem of the light mythril pieces blowing away in the wind. The larger plates, although still light, have enough heft that they do not need iron cores. Although this is the main currency of Raiaera, elves will still use other forms of exchange generously and eagerly.


[top]Religion


Raiaera, while lacking an institutional religious establishment, does observe certain religious practices and hold to a certain “pantheon” of gods and goddesses. Their de facto religious leaders are the members of the High Bard Council, itself headed by the Cora'Lindstra, who presides at the major events of Raiaeran religious life. Although lacking a concrete schedule of religious observance, there are a few holy days that are observed strictly.

Raiaerans could be considered deist. They do not believe the gods and goddesses intervene directly in the world except in extreme circumstances. Such circumstances have been rare in history; only the creation of the elves and the cursing of the Black Desert are believed to be examples of direct intervention on the part of the pantheon of Raiaera.

Despite this inactive pantheon, Raiaerans still take their religion seriously. Their foundational mythology believes that they are called to spread the light of art, beauty, and song to the world. They are sure that they will, at the end of time, be judged by their gods and goddesses based on the merits of their successes; if they were faithful, they will take their place as the fruits of the Star Tree, Manwelindomë. If they were not, they will forever be bound to the land.

[top]The Elvish Pantheon


  • Aurient, the Star Mother. She granted the Raiaerans the benefit of resilience to disease at the creation.
  • Galatirion, the Sky Father. He gave the Raiaerans the benefit of extended life, so as to taste part of the immortality of the heavens.
  • Earlon, the Rain-Star. He gave the gift of the seas to the Raiaerans, a gift which later vanished when the best shipwrights were banished with the Dark Elves.
  • Arddunwë, the Sweet-Star. This star-god gave the gift of physical beauty and an appreciation of art to the Raiaerans.
  • Cuarye, the Swift-Star, gave the gift of archery, bowmaking, and dexterity to the elves.
  • Megillion, the Silver-Star, whose gift was of working in precious metals and ores, and of swordplay and sword-forging.
  • Selana, the Young-Star, gave the greatest gift of all: memory, that the Raiaerans might remember the star-magic and keep alive the melodies of heaven on the surface of the earth.


[top]Government


Raiaera is nominally governed by the High Bard Council, although all but one have been missing since Xem’Zund’s assault upon Eluriand and little hope remains of their safe return. Current power rests in the hands of the remaining Councillor, Lady General Nalith Celiniel, former High Bard of Ost'Dagorlin. The Council was intended to be the ultimate authority in Raiaera; individual members were given great power, and the combined will of the council was the express law of the country. All authority resided in the hands of these elves, who were elected to their positions through their merit and aptitude as well as their political skill.

The High Bard Council is composed of a high council and a small council. The former consists of one councillor from each school of Istien, the General of Tel Aglarim, and the Bard-General of the Bladesingers. In addition to these seats is the position of Cora'Lindstra, the High Bard, who is the leader of the council and whose voice counts for three when voting upon decisions. The small council is much larger, and consists of a large number of bards from all of the schools, as well as leaders of Tel Aglarim and highly-respected Bladesingers. Generally the members of the small council do not receive individual votes on matters, but are spoken for by the members of the high council. They do participate heavily--and loudly--in debates, however, and often discussions are as lively within the members of a "house" as between the houses, as each tries to convince their high councillor to favour their side of the argument.

The Headmasters of Istien University's four schools – Ost'Dagorlin (War), Lissilin (Healing), Aglarlin (Leadership), and Turlin (Holy Power) – each appoint their representative Councillor from their school. Together with the President of Istien University, these four Headmasters elect the High Bard as well. The President of the University, the General of Tel Aglarim, and the Bard-General of the Bladesingers are typically chosen by the high council, and can also be removed from these positions with the council's consent. The Cora'Lindstra can only be removed with the full consent of the high council (typically, full consent of the small council is also requested, for the sake of unity). Headmasters are typically appointed and removed internally within the University.

In this way, the Raiaeran political system attempts to prevent the consolidation of power into a single pair of hands. However in times of strife and desperate need, such as now, it is not unheard of for a single capable and charismatic leader to emerge to guide the realm through times of need. Regional figures are also prepared to make decisions for themselves as appropriate should they be unable to contact the High Bard Council, although they are expected to conform to the expectations of their people and to relinquish their powers when the crisis is resolved.

[top]Law


In times of peace, the Bladesingers Guild is responsible for upholding the law and keeping the harmony in both the cities and countryside of Raiaera. Every hamlet, no matter how small, is assigned at least one bladesinger to watch over the people and dispense justice as necessary; larger cities such as Eluriand and Anebrilith will maintain no less than three hundred of these skilled and disciplined warriors. An enlisted bladesinger is empowered to deal with basic criminal cases such as petty thievery and other misdemeanours; more serious cases such as aggravated assault or grand theft will be referred to high officers of the guild, and capital crimes such as homicide or treason are brought to the attention of the captains or perhaps even the Lady General herself. High Elves value harmony and concord above most else, however, and such serious crimes are virtually unheard of between Raiaerans. Whenever they occur, however, swift and summary justice is executed. Any citizen has the right to appeal to the High Bard Council, which also has the right to refuse to hear appeals or to claim jurisdiction in any matter.


[top]Military


The Raiaeran military is a complex machine, a core of highly skilled professional soldiers supported by a variety of more specialised troops – bards from the Schools of Istien, bladesingers and rangers from their respective guilds, militia and citizenry of the various towns and cities, and even more esoteric allies. Fifteen thousand years of war and strife have moulded the Elven armies into their current form, balancing the desire for peace and order with the imperative need to survive against all foes, no matter how powerful or evil.

[top]Tel Aglarim


Tel Aglarim (lit. "The Glorious People") form the core of Raiaera's armies, ordinary Elves (with the occasional human or dwarf) trained in the use of the sword, the spear, and the bow. Drilled in the tactics of the battlefield, the proper functioning of a soldiering unit, and the techniques of survival in thick combat, the soldiers of Tel Aglarim are disciplined and brave fighters. Although conscripts are initially supplied with simple steel breastplates and straight swords, regular soldiers wear golden banded cuirasses, vambraces, and greaves. Their crested helms are slender and tall, their shields leaf-shaped and sturdy, and their weapons exquisitely elegant and extremely deadly.

Four regiments of Tel Aglarim were maintained prior to the war, one each garrisoned in Anebrilith and Eluriand, and two more based in Valinatal to guard the western approaches. Xem’zund’s invasion decimated their ranks, however, and barely half a regiment is left, scattered about the realm. Each regiment once identified itself with a colour of its own – azure, vermillion, jade, and ivory – which was worn under the armour, but nowadays they are unified under a single colour, the sheer black of mourning and vengeance.

The ranks of this remaining regiment, sometimes referred to by the citizens and the soldiers themselves as Tel Duirim, The Mourning People, are swelling: while Tel Aglarim's standing army was largely decimated by the Corpse War, its militia is larger than it has ever been as there are increasingly few men, women, or even children in Raiaera who have not fought against the undead in one battle or another, however briefly. Many of these have joined Tel Duirim's ranks officially, at least long enough to see the last undead--and the last dark elf--driven out of their homeland. The result is a smaller but more effective army than the elves previously possessed.

[top]Tel Megilindir


Founded nearly a thousand years after the schools of magic were instituted and the Elven Army was created, Tel Megilindir (lit. "The Bladesingers") serves as a blend of the two. The Bladesingers are an ancient order of bardic warrior-mages following the four schools of magic taught at Istien. In peace time it operates as a police force in Raiaera, and on the whole its members are better fighters than those in Tel Aglarim. Though each Bladesinger is trained in all four schools of song magic, they will tend, as with most song-mages, to specialize in one school or another; as such, they tend to operate in groups of three or four to cover each other's weaknesses, and are typically used for specialized operations in wartime. All Bladesingers wear a uniform of silver mail and blue fabric; the more experienced a Bladesinger is, the more likely he or she will have a full set of armour.

Bladesinger armour is often highly personalized, pragmatic and artistic; most incorporate bird imagery, with wings framing the face or rising from the helms, feather patterns etched into the gauntlets or shin guards, and so on. The signature weaponry of the bladesingers are weapons that double as musical instruments, such as fluteblades (bladed weapons with a flute-like hollow worked into the core of the blade and hilt), drumhammers (metal-headed maces enchanted around a specific, holy harmonic that can disrupt magicks of any kind and even disintegrate an enemy outright), and bladesinger bows (crafted from ulder wood around a core of liviol, with strings woven from a combination of spidersilk, vlince, sinew and mythril thread; these have several closely spaced and precisely threaded strings that make them resemble a combat harp, allowing them to launch arrows further with a far higher speed, impact and accuracy than an ordinary bow and to channel music into temporary enchantments on their arrows).

[top]Tel Taurir

The most diverse of Raiaera's old military forces, Tel Taurir (lit. "The Foresters", often translated as the Rangers) are somewhere between cavalry and guerilla fighters, their membership drawn from elves, men, and anyone else willing to volunteer in defense of Raiaera. They specialize in close-quarters combat, cavalry fighting, and espionage. While they have no true uniform, most rangers wear either green or dark brown to blend in with the natural colours of their homeland. Fiercely independent and notoriously disorganized, rangers rarely answer to any authority and often work either in small groups or entirely alone. The only universal symbols they have are their sabre, ranging from short to full length but with a curve well suited to striking from horseback or attacking and defending in the middle of a sword draw, and their heavy cloaks of dark green vlince and mythril chainmail, usually hooded but sometimes featuring a high neckpiece or mantle.

At most, rangers operate in small cells and cadres; the average ranger leader is nicknamed a Lord or Lady by his or her cohorts. Long-time Lords and Ladies occasionally mark themselves and their comrades with tattoos of some kind. Rangers are also the most diverse of the Raiaeran defensive forces; the majority are elves and humans, but their ranks are notoriously accepting of willing members, and they are not beyond resorting to less honourable methods to achieve victory for the greater good.

[top]Wanderers in Starlight


Somewhere between a warrior cult, an order of magi, a fringe social movement, and the rangers themselves, Rendír Nuin Gilgalad (lit. "Wanderers Under the Starlight," commonly translated as the Wanderers in Starlight) are one of the oldest and, until very recently, most obscure groups in Raiaera. Predating the bladesingers by several generations, they adhere strictly to a set of rules and rituals called the Endless Path and dedicate their worship to the old star pantheon. The Wanderers are essentially a spell-casting middle ground between the Bladesingers and common rangers. They wear highly stylized steel armour and rely heavily on enchanted weapons and magicks. Their membership is exclusively elven, and they are the only major group in Raiaera that considers itself old enough to not draw a line between High and Dark Elves. They stand apart from the bladesingers and rangers in that their main goal isn't merely the protection of Raiaera, but the total annihilation of Xem'Zund and his armies.

Wanderers adhere to a strict set of Paths, broken down as the Paths of Seer, Warrior, Ranger, Bard, Faithful and Forger. Seers tend to be akin to prophetic wizards; warriors are martial perfectionists; rangers are one with nature; bards are pure musicians, performers and poets; the faithful are priests and clerics; and Forgers tend to be any kind of worker. Each Path is completely specialized to the exclusion of all others, though Wanderers are expected to walk at least two or three in a lifetime. A full Path takes almost three centuries to walk. At its end, the Wanderer undergoes something called Caesai Maer, the Zero Step, a magic ritual that seals all knowledge and skill from the old Path, leaving the Wanderer free to start a new one. Wanderers believe that anyone who walks all the Paths will obtain demigodhood. Beyond that, they tend to be elven supremacists of a school so old that they consider High Elves and Dark Elves to be one and the same. Everyone else is a few notches lower on the totem, with half-elves viewed as anything from degenerates to moral abominations. Because of the increasing unpopularity of this point of view in the waning stages of the Corpse War and the ongoing dark elven invasion, support for the Wanderers in Starlight is flagging, especially in those regions where the undead now pose less threat than the United Army of Alerar.

[top]Tel Cirya


The Raiaeran Navy, Tel Cirya (lit. "The Shipbuilders") is a purely defensive force, dedicated to protecting the realm’s lifeblood of seafaring vessels that ply the various trade lanes from Raiaera to the rest of the world. Prior to the war, the Navy was largely based at Anebrilith and New Aurient, with smaller contingents at Trenyce and Tor Elythis. However, many of the proud vessels were pressed into service ferrying refugees to safety in Scara Brae and Corone and have yet to return; a few, seeing no hope in the high elven situation, even turned pirate and began preying upon the very vessels they were once sworn to protect. The handful of vessels that still remain either patrol the seas off Tor Elythis or gather to Mirdan Timbreth in anticipation of the final flood of refugees who would congregate there.

In ages long past, the elves were known as undisputed masters of seafaring, and the wonderful vessels they crafted were the envy of all the navies of the world. However, the schism between fair and dark, and the resulting exodus of the majority of the realm’s best shipwrights to Alerar, changed the situation drastically. Although high elven ships are still sleek and elegant vessels, able to unleash devastating volleys of arrows from their bolt throwers and to outrun the majority of what they cannot outfight, they are no longer the invincible flotilla that they were in their heyday. Raiaeran sailors are usually clad in simple white, while the Marines that accompany each vessel are easily distinguishable by their blue-tinted banded breastplates and the azure plumes on their helmets.

[top]Tel Celebarrna


Tel Celebarrna (regional dialect meaning lit. "The Silverwind") is raised and maintained from the citizenry of Tor Elythis in place of standard city militia, the fiercely independent colony’s own standing army. Composed of roughly two thousand warriors at any one time, the Silverwind can be split into four main cadres: the Sentinels, skilled archers and swords-elves; the Spire Guard, elite heavy infantry armed with sword, spear, and shield; the Argent Order or Elnaith, elven medium cavalry and lancers without peer, mounted on the swiftest white Raiaeran horses; and the infamous Skyknights, a mercenary company composed of the best warriors in the Silverwind and their great winged steeds.

Warriors of the Silverwind are armoured in glimmering silver scale, of a lightweight mythril-steel alloy known as ithilmar (from ithil, meaning the full moon). Their helms are tall and ornate, and each cadre wears different coloured cloaks to distinguish them from one another – an earthy green-brown for the Sentinels, fiery red for Guardians, and shimmering blue for the Elnaith. The Spire Guard also wear heavy robes embroidered in symbolic flame over their armour, denoting their position as protectors of the Ivory Spire, and keepers of the lore and wisdom contained within. The Skyknights, on the other hand, are as individualistic and varied as the steeds they ride, from pegasi to hippogriffs to drakes. The weapons of these skilled warriors do not differ much from standard Raiaeran issue – long slender spears, sleekly curved swords, and well-crafted ulder bows – but they are each engraved with the emblem of the Silverwind mirrored in the proud pennants that fly overhead: a winged sword, wreathed in the flames of justice.


[top]Culture


Raiaeran culture is immensely deep and difficult to comprehend to an outsider. The following excerpt, adapted from the writings of Findelfin ap Fingolfin, is intended to give readers a small insight into the thoughts and mindset of the High Elven people.

The Raiaerans believed in seven deities. These gods and goddesses were called collectively “Tel Aina Otso,” or “The Holy Seven.” They were, ranked in order of importance, Aurient, Galatirion, Earlon, Arddunwë, Cuaryë, Megillion, and Selana. As such, the number seven was considered sacred. Numerological and liturgical records reveal that the Raiaerans invested special religious significance in the number seven. It designated wholeness, perfection, beauty.

Seven was also noted as having a few other special characteristics. Raiaerans were aware of what we today call “prime numbers.” They even had a word for them, “ere’erarimmi” which literally means “ruled by only one and itself.” But seven had a special distinction. It was the last of the “ere’erarimmi” to proceed in the odd sequence of 3, 5, 7. And it was the last prime that could be written as a single digit. Thus, it was considered to “rule itself completely,” in that while other primes existed – extant documents indicate the Raiaerans were aware of and accepted arguments for infinitely many primes—it could be written with only itself—as in 7. The number 10006721, for example, while a prime much larger than seven, is still considered subject to seven in that it requires a numerous digits to write it, instead of the “singular” 7.

Seven came to be called “ere’erarimmo.” The meaning was the same as “ere’erarimmi” but with a special designation. The stem –immo, meaning “itself,” is only used when the object is alive. And so the Raiaerans afforded the number seven with the ultimate honour: life. Translated into common idiom, “ere’erarimmo” is “The Living Prime.”

Early on in their existence, the Raiaerans encountered and destroyed a tribe of hill-dwelling people whose ways were strange to them. Of these people little is known except the name given them by the Raiaerans – the Durklans – and that they worshiped two gods, the earth and the sun. Although the Raiaerans won this protracted engagement, the struggle was a paradigmatic event that critically shaped both the conscience and the consciousness of the Raiaerans. Their protracted struggle with the Durklans – and the two gods of the Durklans – made them significantly dislike the number two.

Raiaeran liturgical texts specifically refer to the number two as “Ere’erarimm.” In all texts, the stem “–imm” is never attested anywhere except here, and yet the translation rendered by Professor Goliant seems a logical possibility: “The Prime of Neither Life nor Unlife.” The number two was not considered to be living like the number seven, but neither was it considered merely dead. It was a category to itself, a number steeped in the pain of oblivion. The Raiaerans regarded the number two as uniquely disturbing; for example, they knew all other members of the “ere’erarimmi” to be odd numbers, but two was not.

The calendar system of the Raiaerans exhibited something of this fascination with seven and avoidance of two – or indeed, of any number known to be divisible by two. Their months were divided into 49 days, or seven weeks of seven days each. This produced a year of only 343 days, which were then supplemented with three “festival weeks” of seven days each, for a total of 21 days. These festival weeks would occur between winter and spring, at the height of summer’s heat, and as autumn faded to winter. And yet the number two would occur every four years – astrologically speaking, the Raiaerans were aware of the concept of a leap year – when the year had 366 days, and was thus divisible by two. So at the height of summer every four years, the festival week would be lengthened by a day to adjust for the leap year. Religiously and liturgically, this day was a time for the Raiaerans to ponder the evil they had done, the “spirit of the dual ere’erarimm” that intruded on the world every four years, and pray the forgiveness of the Aina Otso.


[top]History


((Please refer to the Raiaera History Wiki Entry -- Length Limitations))



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