|Cultures||Ceardian and Velheim Ailor|
|Flora and Fauna|
Carrhen, or as some confusingly call it “New Ceardia”, is a large, diverse-climate continent found near to the purported birthplace of the Ailor. Despite this proximity and centuries of travel in the region, the continent was ignored. But with the steep slide of the Ailor on Ceardia into anarchy and constant conflict, some sought out the same escapes that the Proto-Velheim had performed centuries earlier, but instead fled west. Later, Regalian colonists would settle on outlying islands, officially beginning a greater interest in Carrhen. Today, the continent is largely independent, filled with pagan kingdoms and regions many in Regalian politics have eyed for decades, yet been unable to fully bring under the Empire’s banner.
Carrhen was first discovered sometime around 2400 BC by Altalar vessels exploring south during the Consolidation. Some in Old Ceardia were likely aware of the continent’s presence, and there is some belief that an island chain or land bridge once existed between the two continents. This is ultimately uncertain. As the centuries wore on and a millenia passed, Carrhen remained largely unexplored and lightly populated. Several Altalar slaving outposts were dotted along the region’s coastline to support their frequent trips to Old Ceardia, Essalonia, and other regions beyond. But as the date approached the Cataclysm and the enslavement of the Ailor sharply upticked, some groups fled their homeland for places free of Altalar domination, or the cruel control by the proto-warlords who would eventually emerge on the landmass. The Proto-Velheim were the first to land in Carrhen, but they largely used it as a jumping off point to reach beyond and into other notable kingdoms. The real influx of those that fled west did so in the final decades before the Cataclysm and found a wild, untamed land. The Ailor spread across the region was surprisingly rapid and, keeping inland, they avoided the shifting and eroding along the coastline. In fact, the Cataclysm even benefited some groups, as local pagan faiths helped to unite populations who otherwise might have remained divided.
But the Ailor soon found that they were not alone, as on the far side of Carrhen, Allar were in the process of establishing their own cities and lands. Initially terrified of these alien beings, it is believed that the Slizzar played a part in calming these tensions. Eventually, the Carrhen states were trading frequently with those of Hadar, which became known as the Chrysant Kingdoms, and the two groups even came to live among one another. But for a hundred years further, the Carrhen Ailor were unknown to Regalia. This changed with exploration and trade missions by what was now the Regalian Empire. The true scale of Carrhen remained unknown for decades further, and even as the Regalian Empire grew its power while Old Ceardia waned, desperately seeking Regalian favor, Carrhen remained separate. But in 210 AC, the Regalian Empire established Silverwind on the Silverwind Archipelago off the northeastern coastline of Carrhen, within its territory but long ignored by the Ailor of the region. Now far closer to Carrhen, though still restricted from trading with them as the Navigation Acts were enforced, the Regalian Empire finally took note of Carrhen in a substantial way.
But Carrhen soon saw the darker side to the Empire they had generally been positive toward. The Chrysant War which destroyed the Essa Empire, a major trading partner of many Carrhen states, was devastating, and the Allar state of Xizham on Carrhen was also targeted by the Regalian Empire. However, the vociferous objections of the local Carrhenites, and the fact that Xizham was never Essan saw the Empire back off. But Carrhen then saw another example of Regalian brutality. In 294 AC, following victory in the Chrysant War, a fleet sailed to and then bombarded the Regalian colony on the Silverwind Isles. The regional government had been illegally trading with states beyond the borders of the Regalian Empire, and the region as a whole had been growing extremely independent. To prevent this, and to serve as an example of what would happen should the Acts be breached, this severe act was taken. Carrhen watched on with nervous wonder at the power of Regalia. Ever since then, the Empire has been leaning on Carrhen for years. Many of its northern states now viewing a union with the Regalians a valuable prospect, and having signed certain Navigation Acts that allow them to trade with the larger nations. However, the Empire’s crippling in the Dragon Crisis, followed by other military engagements, have most in the area second-guessing a full union with the Empire. Carrhen itself remains lush and generally untapped, with a substantial population thanks to a hurried migration following the Destruction of Ceardia decades ago, and Allar fleeing to the continent after the Chrysant War. It is little wonder that Carrhen remains a place of hidden beauty, wonder, yet also rather open political interest in the world powers of Aloria.
Carrhen is located south of the Regalian Archipelago, directly east of Hadar, and northwest of Old Ceardia. The Corontium Sea borders its northern coastline, the Essalonian Sea on its northeastern and eastern sides, and the South Passage Way Ocean to its southeast. Carrhen is a diverse land, though its transition between climates is gradual, and has few extremes. Starting at the western coastline, this region is humid and the most like nearby Hadar, with a series of lagoons and sandbars in the area progressing into the sparse jungle and tropical flora of Hadar. Soon after this though, the area cools out and enters a temperate climate, with a full range of environmental seasons which carries out through the rest of the continent. Much of the rest of Carrhen is made up of open, fertile fields and dense to patchy forestry, crisscrossed by multiple rivers. These rivers are most dense in the south, creating thick patches of river lands and swamps, which provide a ground bounty for the locals. Mountains are more sparse on the continent, but several medium to large ranges sit near the middle and more eastern side of the landmass, with names like the Mørkestein Spur, Rannak Range, and the Deepvault Peaks. The coastline in the north and the south is a mix of broad sand and pebble beaches. The south of the continent is home to a vast spread of small islands which form a dense, dispersed cluster of territory, often rugged and barely explored. In the northeast sits the Silverwind Archipelago, a collective of fully tropical islands which are relatively isolated from the rest of Carrhen. The final area of note is the eastern lands of Carrhen, far craggier and with rougher terrain than other regions. The coastline of this area features a far greater number of cliffs, and the Great Storm once sat off the region’s southeastern coastline, it’s Void nature ensuring its long-lasting impact. However, the land’s dense river lands along the eastern coastline produce a lot of agricultural bulk, which feeds the area’s substantial populace.
Notable Flora and Fauna
Carrhen has been a site of cross-pollination for so long that to say it has any original Flora and Fauna is a farce. From Hadar came a high number of tropical plants that now rest on the western coastline, while the rest of the territory holds temperate to cold-region plant life in the form of Royal Oaks, Witch’s Fingers and for agriculture, Fletcher’s Wheat. As for wildlife, Squirrels, Field Mice, Hares, and a variety of small birds populate both the forests and the plains. One of the largest predators known to these regions are the Ceardian Bobcat, which mostly keeps the forests and higher regions at the center of the landmass. In domesticated settings, though, there is far more diversity. Ceardian Woolies and the odd Spotted Ceardian populate the plains, many in the care of or protected by the local towns. Then there are the varieties of Ceardian dogs kept on the island by pet owners. A final specimen is a limited number of Ceardian Long Talons, kept in the region following the Destruction.
Carrhen lays outside of the Regalian sphere of influence, yet due to its large Ailor populace, its natural resources, and internal divisions between the different states, many Regalian diplomats see Carrhen as the next logical realm of expansion for the Empire, certainly more welcoming than Essalonia and the Velheim regions of the north. Due to certain Navigation Acts having been signed by several of the northern states, there is a decent trade between Carrhen and the Regalian Empire, though little to no official diplomatic activity. The following states are those that have signed these certain Navigation Acts, but they are not formally part of the Empire.
Regalian Aligned States
- Rutgher Theocracy, the largest and most powerful of the Carrhen states. Flush with population from the Ceardian Exodus, the region is not a theocracy of Unionism or even Old Gods, but a unique pagan system of belief headed by a trio of blessed priests. This faith espouses a belief in three deities of lightning, who united to forge Carrhen from the earth, and that lightning itself is divine. It is little wonder, since Rutgher territory was home to the “Storm Coast”, a Void-influenced weather pattern which only recently cleared away in 302 AC.
- Silverwind Colonies, emerged from the aftermath of the Regalian Silverwind Colony being obliterated. This new polity, made up of settlers from Rutgher, Rifttaman and Enman, was originally settled by Rutgher priests, who believe that the Regalian “thunder weapons” cleared the way for Rutgher to expand out to these islands. Since that time, the Silverwind Colonies have grown into a center of trade and trade out of Carrhen, and to allied nations in surrounding regions. However, the region also has a criminal underbelly in the form of illegal pirate havens which routinely vanish upon official investigation, only to emerge mere days later.
- Rifftaman Kingdom, emerged from the mists of post-Cataclysm history to command a significant political position on Carrhen. They ultimately fell into conflict with Enman, their nearby rivals, and the two have been fighting on and off for decades, though a local peace has held since the new century began. The nation emphasizes the Cellik Old Gods, particularly the Union of Water, and many locals have a shockingly high tolerance for poison.
- Enman Kingdom, purports to have been founded by one man, a hero dedicated to an “Iosalearn” (Maarda) of the Union of Fire, known to the locals as the goddesses Lenna and Ella. This singular man lived for a hundred and ten years before other Ailor arrived, and in their wisdom, they made him their leader. He lived for another century, producing progeny that continue to rule the land to this day. Enman, outside of this odd origin tale, is best known for its rivalry with Rifftaman and for its high-quality bodyguards.
- Tremannör Kingdom, is one of only a few Velheim nations that sits outside of The North Belt. Originally only inhabited a series of islands off the coastline that served as a way station for Proto-Velheim boats sailing elsewhere, the severing of trade routes back to Old Ceardia saw the locals prosper, and then expand in different directions. This region is shockingly peaceful, having been spared the warrior-conversion other Velheim states are known for, and instead, still emphasizes exploration through the Union of Earth, and has a strong herding and fishing focus.
- Xizham Kingdom, an Ailor-majority nation with a large Allar minority since its earliest days. The Xizham Kingdom has maintained a cultural divide between the Allar and Ailor, with most Allar living by the tropical coastline in the so-called “Acalqua,” coastal fortress cities built for trade and defense. The regional Ailor from Xizham are known for their tolerance toward others, with the council beneath the Ailor king and queen always featuring a major Allar presence.
- Soren Kingdom, a land of stern-faced farmers and highly agricultural like nearby Kergünn. Unlike that state though, Soren is notable for its focus on grains, and for being open to all faiths, meaning many varieties of Ceardian paganism thrive in their population, from the Rutgher Triad to Caoman, the ovis being beloved by Kergünn. The region even has a significant Unionist outpost, the Cloister of Colona, with a significant land grant attached to its presence.
- Serman Duchy, also called the Waterland Duchy, is a territory with a singular massive mountain from which spills what the locals call the Fount of the World. A massive river which snakes all the way to the coastline, the Fount has several offshoots and crosses through several nations, helping to form the region’s barrier between it and its rivals, Ütterann and Enman, who, at one time, had divided the land between them.
- Ütterann Kingdom, a hardy kingdom formed at the heart of Carrhen, the land has found its original territory fractured over time due to political divisions. Ruled by a Lustre King, given a vast goldmine that is located near the capital, Ütterann is named for the local pagan beliefs in a central, mother-like earth goddess. Unlike Estel however, this faith emphasizes the wealth of the earth, and mining experts, is what the land is known for, despite much of its territory being farmland to support such decadence at the top.
- Milat Duchy, is best known as the mercantile power of southern Carrhen. Small in territory for years, it broke off from Soren control in 219 AC, and used its sailor’s skills in plying the Fount of the World to establish a trade dominion throughout the region, Even when Serman returned to force, they allowed the Milatmen to trade, and even Soren has warmed to their presence over the years. Milat has been forced to buy off Connorock several times over the past few decades, though, their focus on trade making their army weak. However, they are also a point of neutrality, serving as ground to mediate treaties and when conflicts occur in surrounding lands, others are free to peacefully move through their territory. Ultimately, Milat avoids making itself a target by being amenable to all.
- Kergünn Duchy, a duchy that separated from the Ütterann Kingdom some forty years ago. Wholly rural, Kergünn’s unique local faith professes a Sheep or pig-headed humanoid god as a being of fertility, and a figure of worship. Urlan are considered special in Kergünn, though few have visited, and the land is best known for the agricultural goods it trades to those around it.
- Connorock Kingdom, a tough, resolute kingdom, Connorock was founded by a group of Ceardians supposedly led by a man named Konor. A warrior, the Kingdom he founded turned to conflict and combat to harden their being into fierce fighters, and they have warred on and off with the neighboring lands of the Ütterann Kingdom for over a century. They are also well known for their relief bas carvings in the homeland’s many mountain caverns, which tell the tales of local villages.
- Konvernh Alliance, a collective of Ailor tribes banded together into a mutual defense pact. The Alliance was forged after decades of warring between the groups left them weak to the Sendrassian Allar of both mainland Sendras and the Razkhaar Tribes from other nearby islands. The Alliance is maintained through a council body with two representatives from each allied group, and it is also well known for its pontoon bridge designers, the remarkable engineers often finding work within other nearby states.
- Khittrakhat Confederacy, represents a unique unification of Ailor and Allar different from those found elsewhere. Existing in a confederation of equals, despite the overall dominance population-wise of Allar, the region boasts unique blended architecture, a relevancy advanced economy, and a resilient state which has fended off many attacks from its south and west over the decades.
The Storm Coast is located in the southeast corner of Carrhen, on a stretch of land closest to Old Ceardia that was likely the starting point for most Ceardian migrations across Carrhen. While most groups moved on, seeing the region as a hostile, unsuitable place, the precursors to the current Rutgher Theocracy established a site of welcome and worship along the harrowing cliffs. The Storm that sat along the stretch of coastline, constantly affecting it and surrounding weather, had formed during the Cataclysm and, unknown to most, a Void Storm, a tainted weather pattern that lasted over two centuries. The site the Theocracy established is a trio of quays formed of wood and natural stones, which then leads to a point at the base of the cliff where people are forced to climb up an elaborate, though sound, series of steps carved and built into the cliff face. At the top stands three massive stones facing out to sea, etched with the appearance of the sky deity Eo, the earth goddess Naia, and the ocean god Po. Further stonework granted easy passage to a series of huts operated by the local priesthood to shelter newcomers, but also proselytize to them. Eventually, due to the expansion of the Theocracy which granted them new ports, far less harrowing and religiously aggressive as the Storm Coast’s landing spot, the quays were allowed to fall to ruin. However, climbing up and down the steps became a pilgrimage for priests of the Lightning Faith, and the massive stones were eventually replaced with full-on statues. The site remains important despite the dispersal of the Void Storm due to events elsewhere in the world in 302 AC, as now the priests consider the region a place visited by their gods, rather than a key domain of their living forms.
Cloister of Colona
The Cloister of Colona is one of the most isolated, far-located bastions of Unionist worship in Aloria. It was founded by Dogartan Unionists in 230 AC, who traveled far to seek new converts to the faith. They were led by Priest Cornelius, an energetic and relatively young Father of the faith, who had partnered with a less known figure called Priest Cyprus. The Soren Kingdom was willing to receive their presence, and over a period of twenty years, they rose the splendid Cloister up from nothing, while also coming to own a land grant for the surrounding valley. The Cloister as it stands today is stately, equal to many of those only recently built in the Regalian Archipelago, and exists in a classical Dogartan style, though with some more Dressolini flourishes. The structure has a long, rectangular core for its temple, with grand, high windows making use of Allar glassmakers to produce several wondrous renditions of notable Unionist scenes. The ceilings are vaulted, with pointed archways everywhere, and a series of spires on the roof arching into the clear sky. The structure’s broader compound is generally low-lying, adding more weight to the central temple’s height, and features an aviary, an extensive monastic garden, and a large grove of trees and flowers within a lightly walled garden courtyard for apiary endeavors, so key to Dogartaan life. The Cloister itself sits at the heart of a large valley called the Colona Valley, and the picturesque agricultural settlement around it is wholly owned by the Cloister. Many of these locals are also converts to Unionism, though this singular bastion of Unionism is just that, singular, as the plurality of pagan faiths around them make it hard for effective conversion in the style of the monastic order operating the facility. Still, their goodwill does go a long way, and they attract many visitors.
The greatest of the Allar Acalqua found within the Xizham Kingdom, Yollotlilt is famous for its design and its main trade commodity- black pearls. The city is designed to be a fortress, with an external wall of a modest height supported by thick, squat towers, and mechanisms for launching alchemical substances down onto attacking enemies. The city’s harbor is also guarded by a curtain wall built atop a natural protrusion that helps to limit possible storm damage, and forces attackers into one location. The internal structure of the city is lavish, with a series of canals feeding water from the nearby Old River out into the raised-field agriculture the city employs. Around these channels, which doubly serve as a transportation method of small boats, sit stories-tall step pyramids that function as Allar housing and alchemy labs, while closer to the harbor, they serve as warehouses and taverns. All of it is formed from pale stones, locally quarried, and finished with accents of deep black stone and Gold embellishment. The black pearls Yollotlilt is most famous for are grown in large, semi-open pens around the city’s harbor wall, where local oysters are seeded with the required materials, and kept healthy, out of fishermen’s nets, before having the gleaming black spheres extracted and returning them to the water. This focus on sustainability has resulted in vast wealth for the city’s inhabitants due to their trade of this rare resource, and one Regalia has actively protected in the past from raiders and pirates, despite how some in the Empire would rather see the city and wider state crushed.
- Carrhen’s rugged environment and low population density has led some to conclude that rather than there not being Seraph ruins on the continent, they simply have yet to be discovered.
- There is a supposed ruin of significance to the Maraya currently being extensively excavated on the eastern bank of the Mollos River, the body that serves as the dividing line between the Khittrakhat Confederacy and the Kergünn Duchy.