Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Regions of the Seven Spires

Look here for a map of the political regions of the Seven Spires.

On this complete map of the Seven Spires you can also see the different cities and regions of the Spires.

"The Seven Spires" is a name commonly used to designate the area north of the peninsula. This area (basically everything north to the city of Serathis) once formed the kingdom of Osterande ruled by the Great Host of humans, giants and sibbecai that saved the region from what is remembered as "The Lost Kingdom".

Only a few tales circulate about the Lost Kingdom. Most of them speak about inhuman warriors building cyclopean cities of stone which ruins still can be found in the deserts and jungles of the South. The Lost Kingdom tried somehow to defeat all the other races of the peninsula at an ancient time prior to the Spires themselves.

The inhabitants of the Spires, mostly men, litorians and faen would have been wiped out if it weren't for the coming of the Great Host from the north. The Host came and decided to help the people of the peninsula against the Lost Ones. They vanquished them and founded a unified kingdom, Osterande. But the golden days of the kingdom of the Host did not last much more than a few centuries.

Soon the leaders of the Church and fiefs of Osterande grew complacent and arrogant. The Consul of the Host himself concentrated all the powers of faith and politics into his own hands. Skirmishes between low nobles of various remote areas of Osterande soon became wars that would determine the kingdom's fate. The Consul was unaware of the tragedy that was going to occur, kept from the suffering of the world in his gigantic palace, some say, while other think he was directly reponsible or tried to avoid the catastrophe.

Whatever the motivations and actions of the Consul of the Host, the Punishment occurred. The land trembled in anger and the peninsula was torn apart. From the central plains of Osterande, traditional lands of the Litorians, very few remain. Most have been sank and replaced by the lakes commonly known as "Altalith's lake" and "the High Waters". Some cities disappeared, others were dramatically changed, like in the case of Laelith which became a huge inclined plateau broken by the Inlam's tumultuous flow. The landscape was torn apart, the most obvious change

Then the Dark Ages of the Spires began. The Church of Lothian exploded in four distinct cults of the elements and the title of Consul was severed into two different leaders of the Host, the God King who would remain its spiritual father, and the Prince Consular who would be its temporal leader. There was no more political leader for the kingdom, as there was no more united kingdom to rule. Various warlords and politicians took control of their regions, and in the next centuries, after many feuds, battles and all the bloodsheds one could expect, some new Fiefs joined the Old to form a new political map.

The various regions of the Seven Spires are now:

The Duchy of Harmoria, probably the most feudal of all the surrounding nations of the Spires. The Duchess of Harmoria is at the head of a complex hierarchy of Lords and Servants of the Flaming Fist, a knighthood developed around the Church of the Silver Flame (the fire cult of the Church of Lothian). The Church here holds a true, tangible power behind the scenes, and its Templars are known to deal death whenever they hear about acts of the Devilry. .

The Arm of Eomund is part of the Duchy. It is a no man's land inhabited by various types of primitive and barbarian humanoids such as goblins, inshons and chorrims. Most of its Everfading Coast is a collection of bogs and swamps changing every days with the tides and weather. It is a chosen region for the training of the Knights of the Fist and various treasure hunters seeking relics from ruins dating back from before the Punishment.

The Frozen Deeps are inhabited by the Uladhrim, a human blue-skinned ethnicity whose nations have long been hunted down by the Verrik. The Uladhrim are comparable to Inuits or other native Americans to some extent. Forced to exile by the Verrik, the Uladhrim were given back the Deeps by the Giants who helped them during these difficult times and still guard the plains of Ulthaar surrounding Al Jha'arna.

The Plains of Ulthaar are the lands of the Hu Charrad, the Giants guarding the city of Al Jha'arna. Today, the guard tends to have been forgotten in favor of more opened business relationships between the Verrik and the Hu Charrad.

Mortegrève is the main port of the Seven Spires. It is one of its most important strategical spot, where the lands of Al Jha'arna join the lakes, and the lakes join the cities of the South and the River of Ichor. It is a grim city with many misteries lead by a few hereditary families of fishermen, carpenters and merchants sitting on one bench of the King's river. A single bridge stands above the stream leading to the Forbidden City of the north bank, a collection of ruins and catacombs dating back from the Host's days of glory, before the Punishment. Nobody knows what roams there, but it's access is severely sanctionned. Only fools try to go there at night, the Mortevains say.

Ptolus is a city bursting with life and variety but not as much as Laelith does. A Commissar directs the city's affairs and is assisted by a Council of representatives including several members of old noble families of the Host. Ptolus is a political (through its Senate and Families) and religious (aside of the Cult of Lothian) center for the Spires. Many pilgrims wishing to avoid the God Kings' edict on Faith and Religion go to Ptolus to worship thousands of different gods each with their own established shrine within the city walls, but the city is still officially recognizing the God King as its "spiritual patron in matters of faith". Words with not much consistancy to tell the truth. The Old Senate of the Host still stands within Ptolus' walls, but the senators spend most of their time on private and national rivalries rather than caring about a title without any political meaning by today's standards.

Ptolus is also one of the only cities of the Spires, along with others like Laelith and Ogrebound, to still have a cemetary, despite the existence of the Gate to the Underworld below the city of Manifest. Ghosts are still considered emanations of Devilry in Ptolus but a few live there anyway.

Between Ptolus and Mortegrève rise the Seven Spires themselves. They are a testament to ancient, heroic times. Legends talk about the Dread One, Eslathagos Malkith, trying to cover the world with Shadow from his citadel of Jabel Shammar, and how he was banished from the surface of the earth, thus creating the Spires as they stand.

Laelith is often referred to as the Holy City. The God King of the cult of Lothian and the elements reigns from this metropolis bursting with life. Religious powers are especially strong here. The use of magic is strictly reglemented, much like in Ptolus but not to the paranoid extent of Harmoria's policies.

Kazum Athreleb and the Iron Crown, the mountain ranges surrounding it, are lands of mystery. Kazum Athreleb is supposed to be one of the last standing strongholds of the Meinedd Sidhe, the stone fey, but no evidence either confirms or refutes its actual existence. Travellers and settlers there look upon rocky hills, valleys and high mountain tops with coniferous forests, but nothing shows any sign of ancient or advanced civilization. Mines are the main resources of the few inhabitants of this region.

The Verdant Coast is made of many forests of either coniferous or deciduous trees. This is a far more hospitable region than the Iron Crown. Many human and litorian settlements can be found in this area. Its warm healing springs and waterfalls are reknown all over the Spires. This region is officially under the jurisdiction of the Church of Lothian (i.e. the God King of Laelith).

The Margravate of Halduura is a martriarchy governed by witches holding power over the land. They are wisewomen and shaman, while men are traditionally warriors and hunters of their Clan (Think Rashemen from FR, and you're there).

The Thousand Glades is a vast territory of wild temperate forest. Many Faen communities are said to dwell here, but few travellers ever made it back to tell the tale. Natural predators such as boars, wolves and treants are known to live within their depths.

The Plains of Amaranth are the original location of the last battle between the Great Host and the Lost Ones. Nearly every fighting being present on the battlefield on this day died from the resulting butchery. Once a desert of heavy sands, a forest of blood trees with crimson foliage now reminds the Spires' people of the region's name and its signification for ages to come. It is inhabited by spirits and horrors from the ancient times, and many adventurers seek treasure and adventure there.

The Arkhanian Vale stretches along the Altalus River. There, the pilgrim can find the city of Manifest where the Dead walk down the streets among the Living. Most settlements and cities of the Spires do not have any cemetary. Instead, parties of pilgrims are sent regularly to the city of Manifest assisted by the Temple of the Skull (the earth branch of the Church of Lothian), along with the remains of their loved ones. There, they can talk a last time to the spirits of their relatives and lovers and say their last goodbye. This makes of Manifest one of the main cities of the Spires, with most of its population being temporary pilgrims within its walls.

Caras Calaedhon is easily the biggest, wildest forest of the Spires. Its depths are mostly unknown. Sidhe, fey people, are said to reside there, but they did not give any sign of life for centuries. Perhaps its main settlements, Ethel Daoine and Ethel Lledrith are now tombs with unimaginable reaches to be taken from the dead? No one knows for sure. There is a deep sense of respect and fear for the inhabitants of the Spires toward Caras Calaedhon, and very few adventurers ever tried to brave its forests. From time to time, there are some claiming to have returned from Caras Calaedhon, but the stories are so inconstitantly varied that it is hard to know what is fact and what isn't.

The Holy Lock seperates the two lakes which are at different levels. From the High Waters, ships are carried down to the Altalith lake by ruddimentary cranes and magic. This is the property of the Soothing Stream, the water Temple of the Church of Lothian, and every captain wishing to be taken up or down the lock as to pay the tax going to the poor of Laelith.

Serathis is a ruined city that just has been discovered by the settlers of Cauldron. This was probably a settlement of the Lost Ones, but nothing is sure at the moment. Giants have been ordered by the Senate of Ptolus to keep the area under the Law of the Host. We will see if they are successful.

The Lost Kingdom is now a desolated area where ruins of towers and cities abound. Its only well-known civilized city is Cauldron, built within the crater of a Volcano. It is probably with Al Jha'arna the only city that doesn't officially treat the God King as its spiritual leader. Instead, it has various shrines for various Saints of the Church, like St. Cuthbert and St. Helm. No one in the north knows much about Cauldron or Serathis for that matter. Both cities can be reached by sailing up the Stream of Ichor that flows to the South coast of the peninsula.


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