Sunday, March 31, 2013

Sunday Sneak: Vesimia

The Sturm Sea may appear to be untamable, but elvish ships from the ancient kingdom of Vesimia have sailed it since the Sword Age. This ancient wood is the birthplace of both the Vesimian Seafarer Kings and the magic that would come to be known as the silver road, ubiquitous amongst all elvish kingdoms. It is the nexus of that ancient road, and the city of Vesimia proper bears a tree grown from Asca-Irminsul itself.

The kingdom, by no means confined to the ancient grounds of the Lordswood, is one of the oldest settlements of the elves in the entire north. Rich farmlands spread out from the boughs of the Lordswood to the Emon, Ember, and Sturmwater rivers while the stone cities of the powerful wind elf lords seem still and changeless beneath the mighty towering dawnwoods, oaks, and maples.

SIDEBAR: The Silver Road and the Road of the Moon
Powerful magics link the kingdoms of the wind elves, physically and culturally. Vesimians first pioneered the spells required, but they soon taught elvish magi across the world in order to establish the network now known as the silver road.

The road is, in actuality, composed of a number of discreet and disparate circles (called the silver circles) of specially prepared runestones which form an intricate mosaic webwork of magic. A wizard standing within a silver circle who knows the proper incantations can transport everyone standing within that circle to any other—if he knows the sequence of runes at his destination.

Silver circles were extremely expensive to create and, what’s more, the magic to make them has slowly vanished over the ages. This means that the current state of the Road is its final state. These entryways are perfect methods of travel for grammaticians and scholars who make their living teaching the elvish paidea, but they are also dangerous: the War of the Moon proved that elvish armies moving by silver road are horrifically dangerous.

For this reason, most silver circles are built far from population centers and are continuously watched. Sadly, when the red plague ravaged the elvish kingdoms in the early Ninth Age, many elves purposefully sabotaged or destroyed silver circles to prevent its spread. Perhaps even more interesting, there are elvish kingdoms that have since fallen, but who’s silver circles still stand: notably, the Circle of Sylvasil, the dragon-wasted.

The heart of Vesimia is the Road of the Moon, a pathway of silver-wound trees that stretches from the southern shores of the kingdom all the way to the Principality of Alonor in the north. Along this strange and beauteous road of living silver and twining branches lie the three Silver Circles: the Southern, Middle, and Northern circles that each lie some rods off the road in one direction or another.

Vesimia was founded in the Third Age; the first time it is ever mentioned is as the homeland of the Seafarer King Aisiten Merivenie. It grew up as a sister-kingdom of Tailimisia, separated by distance too great for the old hierophants to maintain control. It was the first elvish nation to make its own king, and the title of Seafarer has ever been given to its rulers.

It is sister-kingdom to Sidabrinia on the eastern coasts of the continent, and the histories of both are intertwined. In the middle Fourth Age the Vesimians mastered the creation of the silver road and thus began a time of elvish unity, bringing together all the many and sundry kingdoms of the wind elves with a single corpus of classics, a class of wandering grammaticians, and a unified culture.

In the Sixth Age Vesimia fought alongside Tailimisia, Sylvasil, and Valcaela in the Second Elf-Dragon War. Many monuments have been erected to the heroes of that war, and it was the most devastating conflict ever seen by the Vesimians... until the War of the Moon.

The great elvish civil war was without a doubt the most important event ever to occur in Vesimia. A disinherited heir to the throne, named Meroyen, managed to convince the king of Silversong to lend him magical aid to reclaim the Seastone Chair. In the year VII.669 they flew the banner of the Levaithan and began the war that would shake every elvish nation. It continued until VII.754-5, running nearly an entire century. The ancient house of the Leviathan was forever ended, the famed Kraken Knights annihilated, and the Usurper King acclaimed a hero. The war drew in the nations of all the wind elves and to this day remains a sore point if someone should foolishly raise it.

During the ravages of the red plague, fully one third of its entire population was killed. Bodies were stacked like cordwood in the streets. The great Principalities broke away into independent kingdoms. It wasn’t until the mid-Ninth Age that Vesimia was once again unified under Alosaryn Esimerie, who founded a dynasty that would rule until the end of the Ninth Age.

After the beginning of the Tenth, King Eloden Esimerie led Vesimia in a war against Golnia and its Tetrarchy. He and all his heirs were slain and the regency council that followed elevated the Sarvinen family—breeders of the royal war beasts. They took as their symbol the unicorn and have ruled Vesimia ever since.

Vesimia is divided into several great principalities, each governed by a princely family selected by the Seafarer King Laiterys. The principalities have a fair amount of control of their internal politics. The princes, while they technically serve at the pleasure of the Seafarer King, come from families with histories so long that they consider the principalities part of their patrimony.

Within his own realm, each prince is an elvish monarch. Of course, They are hemmed in by councils and minor nobility of service who check their powers considerably. As in all elvish nations, a powerful prince can be thwarted simply by a local curial court convened by the ancient custom.

The Seafarer King has complete authority over all the ships and trade of Vesimia, however, so in practice it is suicidal for the princes to make overt moves against him. The ancient Seastone Throne is located in the city of Merisimia, the biggest settlement on the Sturm Sea. Most of the inner councilors and high servants of the throne are commoners-turned-noble that the king elevated during his own tenure.

SIDEBAR: Principalities of Vesimia
Alonor: Lake Alonor forms the heart of this principality, and the ancient city of Elditorni is its seat. It includes such infamous places as the Isle of Sar-Oron, burned by the reavers and left uninhabited in the millennia since. The greatest ports and shipyards of the western sea-kingdom surround Lake Alonor, all ruled by the great prince Nouros Eslinethe from the palace known as the Seat of the Wind. Nouros is a loyal supporter of his king and is the Sea-knight in command of the second largest Vesimian fleet.

Drakesbay: Merisimia, the Deepsea City and capitol of the ancient kingdom, sits astride the bay at the mouth of the Alonor River and rules the principality of Drakesbay. This is the domain of King Laiterys himself, and serves as the heart of the kingdom. The Moon Road, just to the south, is also part of Laiterys’ brithright, being a royal preserve. 

The Middlewood: From Eldanor the middle of the Lordswood is ruled by Prince Tourametsa Findalon, an apathetic lord who never wanted to inherit the duties of leadership. He has allowed his courtiers to run amok in his realm, and with the semi-independent nature of the principalities of Vesimia this has led to further fracturing of power beneath him. Most of the other princes look down on him as a failure, though his plays and poems are widely known throughout the kingdom.

Valkhyth: The southwestern stretches of the forest find their capitol in the city of Valkhotia, the third largest port in the kingdom. From the Bright Tower rules Selmistaia Teraviesson, the philosopher-princess. Her court is a center of learning, scholarship, and history and attracts the greatest scribes and students in all Vesimia and some from beyond.

Lethal: The realm of Lethal is ruled from Lethalane, a backwater town along the broad banks of the Merivin River. Ruled by Oralastuen Temetsalia, the court at Lethalane is generally avoided by the other princes and derided as being poor and without comforts. That being said, Temetsalia is one of the only princes who has allowed prospecting and mining on his land, granting him the fastest-growing coffers in the kingdom.

Mindanos: The grasslands and plains of Mindanos are more fertile than their northerly conterpart of Emonar and provide two thirds of the grains groan in the kingdom’s borders. Prince Alositarmathanaan Vaahtel moved the princely seat from Mindanon to Ornraitenan on the Merivin. He is said to be a powerful wizard, and his new palace is little more than a complex and quite large tower.

Emonar: Grains and, what’s more, fruits and peas are grown in the fields of Emonar. This was the land that Prince Meroyen burned during the war many centuries ago. Far more than the grains, the gem-rich streams provide Prince Alossar Renasse with the monies he requires to run his court at Endorien.

Hillwood: Nearly unsettled, the Hillwood (like Sidabrisath) is a march region that abuts the wilds of Muldonor. While the court is located at Tournivanie, Prince Valtea Halmenorian normally resides in the castle at Ilmendoran to keep watch on the borders and the ancient road that runs through the hills.

Sidabrisath: The silver mines of Sidabrinion provide the only source of sindabras in all of Vesimia. Prince Eranieth Sidabrendoriala is thus the wealthiest of all the princes, and the most gleeful. He loves to play the harp and the lute, and is said to often entertain his court with these skills.

The Vesimian fleets are their primary mode of defense. Each of the princes with access to the sea is required to keep a fleet of ships ready and outfitted in case of war, with reavers or otherwise. These ships can be commandeered by the king at any time, added to his royal navy or dispatched back to their controlling princes as the situation demands. These so-called seastrider ships (always outfitted with an animal on the prow, be it drake, hydra, horse, or swan) are capable of plying the dangerous Sturm Sea without much risk, and are far more maneuverable and deadly than even reaver ships.

The order of the Sea-knights is also an important part of the Vesimian defenses. Sea-knights are created by the king at his whim, and they know no upward number. They are expected to own and maintain armor and weapons for both land and sea at their own expenses.

As for the bulk of the elvish armies, as in most elven kingdoms, the citizens of Vesimia can be mobilized by princely or royal decree. These are required to leave their land and their work to serve the throne for at least sixty days a year.

The Vesimian Mindset
While there are many great political factions in Vesimia, there are two philosophical factions that bear deadly hatred towards one another. Those who believe the Leviathan should have beaten the Usurper are very quite about their convictions, but they have numbers nonetheless. In order to avoid this topic of conversation, more than the normal elvish circumspection is applied to any situation where it might be a danger.
Vesimians are also natural sailors, and see themselves as the masters of ocean and river. They are under no illusions about the greatness of their fleet and the history of elvish explorers, which might lead one to believe that they are in fact extremely arrogant.

The elvish customs of Vesimia are found throughout the kingdom, though those who leave soon abandon them.

  • Vesimians will not set out to sea without dabbing some salt water on their foreheads.
  • Armor in Vesimia tends to run towards sea-tone colors, and to be decorated with oceanic themes and creatures.
  • Vesimians are enamored of sheer fabric. It is not considered obscene for elvish women to wear sheer dresses or tunics.
  • Sleeves in Vesimia are generally kept short, and ribbon or leather-wound breeches are often worn by seafarers.

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