The Cardinality of Arvost is a small city state situated upon an island of the same name to the west of Ithania. It is a hyper defensive sovereignty populated by a mixed populace of Altalar and Ailor. Notably one of the only locations in Aloria with a successful cohabitation of two different species, the state is culturally isolated and looked down upon by foreign nations for its extraordinarily large populace of half-Elves. Despite the size of the realm it reigns over, more than 70% of the population live within the densely urbanized metropolis sharing the same name as the country it is built within.
Before Arvost was established, the island that would host the cardinality was the site of a colony of the old Elven Empire. Much of the island was under geographical examination by magical researchers until the destruction of Rie in 50 AC After the event known as the ‘Big Boom’ that devastated the Elven imperial capital, a particularly fortunate group of refugees made landfall in Arvost, or Arvasil as it was known during the time. Many of these refugees were disillusioned by the death of the Emperor and sought their independence from the main factions of the Elven civil war. Not long after, Regalians who were diminished in power or otherwise displaced during the Five Family Rebellion fled to Arvost and brokered a fragile peace between the newly migrated Elves. These two factors encouraged a steady influx of sanctuary-seeking travelers who hailed from the crumbling Elven Empire, or the fledgling Regalian Empire.
Throughout the next 25 years after the establishment of Arvost, five boroughs were built in close proximity to one another, each serving a particular function in preserving the state as a sovereign nation. It was around this time where the Cardinal Council was formed to administer the state’s affairs, for it was agreed upon by the majority of the immigrants to forgo leadership by an absolute monarchy, for the sake of a more progressive political system. An exceptionally large amount of offspring appeared in the following generation after the initial inauguration of the state, forcing many to build new homes in between the boroughs. As these stretches of new buildings were constructed around the central-most settlement, it was decided upon that the five locations were to be combined into one city to house the growing population.
In 103 AC, a joint confederation of the Northern Elven States, Thellassia and Medlem Talar, sought to claim control of Arvost, as it had served underneath them before the Cataclysm. Control of the island was integral, for it was one of the few regions to be placed between Regalia and the western continents. The offer of reassimilation was promptly refused, which caused a war to break out between the Northern States and Arvost. Having forged close ties with the nearby states of Kilarallis and Etosil, their aid was swiftly called upon to defend the newly built cardinality. As the forces of the Northern States mustered for a swift journey to Arvost’s shores, quarried stone was hastily pulled together to form a large bastion to defend the southern shores. The Altalar army was met with a nigh-impenetrable perimeter of stone and soldiers upon their landing. A lengthy siege of this fortification occurred, causing many of the untrained fighters of Arvost to fall in the conflict. After a gruelling four months, a small group of daring Arvosian opportunists broke the stalemate by sailing out fake fire-boats into the flagship of the invading army. The ensuing combustion caused widespread panic amongst the soldiers of the Inheritor states. The defending forces sallied out for a desperate charge against the retreating soldiers, winning the conflict with many casualties on the Arvosian side.
Traumatized by their losses, many Arvosians petitioned to form a standing army in case of another attack by foreign nations. This plea was well-received in court, prompting the western district of Arvost city to be formed into a military sector where eager youths may train and work. As the population quickly recovered from the invasion, the standing army swelled in ranks out of eagerness and paranoia. Reforms were set in place to ensure the extended enlistment of the soldiers, one of which granted a discount to the families of each soldier for the freehold fee for purchasing farmland to the north. Combined with the industrial boom caused from the extended exploitation of the iron-rich hills to the south, Arvost established itself as capable to defending its independence.
By the turn of the year 300 AC, Arvost had morphed heavily into its own culture, no longer a simple mix between old Ailor and Elven cultures. A startling majority of the population was now half-Elven, seen to be a true abomination of a state among many of the western nations. Whether it be by luck, by circumstance, or by actual military prowess, Arvost has warily kept its independence amongst the cluster of vassal-kingdoms surrounding it. It is seen by many to be a doomed social experiment of foregoing the concept of nobility and monarchy, though every Arvosian swears by their nation’s independence and the strengths of their combined voices in council.
The Elven name of Arvost, Arvasil, was taken from the ancient geographical name for the region. The exact reasoning behind the naming of this region is unknown, and theorized by cynical historians as an attempt by a forgotten governor to immortalize his name. In consequence, the modern name of the state is taken from the Dirgesirrad translation of the original Elven name, replacing the -sil suffix with -vost. The adjective for Arvost is Arvosian.
The geography of the Arvosian island is characterized by its cliffs and mountains, for many of these formations are depended upon by the island’s people. The most notable natural landmark in the region is also its greatest defense; the near-impassable Cliffs of Dorsicar that run along the entirety of the island’s western coast. With the great number of impeding features that surround the coasts of Arvost island, the only passable shores are upon the south-western reaches of the island, and are dominated by the city’s ports and shipyards. In almost all respects, Arvost island is a natural fortress.
Almost all of Arvost share one temperate climate, with various exceptional mountain climates forming around the northern mountain ridge. This mountain range is a geographical hindrance that prevents cold winds from the Altar sea from swirling into the region through the north. The prevention of cold air in the region greatly reduces the longevity of winter, thereby establishing a perpetual cycle of summer-autumn seasons. Much of the island is covered with orange autumnal vegetation as a result. Rainfall is sporadic, only becoming a regular occurrence towards the north where rain clouds collect.
- Arvost City
- Rivalling the City of Regalia in its surface size, the City of Arvost is a gigantic mess of eccentric infrastructure, clashing cultures, and ancient Elven ruins. Though possessing none of the Imperial Capital’s stunning landmarks, Arvost compares with sheer density and odd city planning; whole quarters are often built in strange networks of residential clusters constructed above older parts of the city and held in place by a complicated system of supports and stairways. Navigating through the city is a nightmare, only made somewhat less tiresome by the wispy ‘Cardinal Castles’ and the general district organization that separates each section of the city based on the majority industry or craft occurring there.
- The Cardinal Castles
- The Cardinal Castles are exceedingly tall manor-forts built upon the highest point of the north, south, east, and west regions of the city. Each construction is varying in appearance, taking on physical characteristics that describe the nature of the land surrounding it. These dwellings house the Cardinals, the city’s council. The single shared feature in all of these castles are its central beacon towers, that are tended to by the council family’s servants every night. The extinguishing of the beacon tower’s guiding fire is often part of many ceremonies, as well as an indication of whether or not that particular quarter of the city is under a civil crisis. To list them briefly:
- The northern castle of Greenfinger is colored a mossy green for the Cardinal of Agriculture.
- The western castle of Vigilance Stones was built with a reddish brick for the Cardinal of Military.
- The southern castle of Tenebri-Tatum was constructed with a blue hue to house the Cardinal of Industry.
- The eastern castle of the Pale Lady beams a sun dappled yellow and entertains the Cardinal of Trade.
- The Northern Goodlands
Topographical circumstance has caused the valleys south to the northern mountain ridge to become exceedingly fertile with collected rain and ancient volcanic activity. This rich land is exploited to its full extent, covered with expansive acres held by freeholding farmers. This is the most vital region in all of Arvost, serving as a major influence to the state’s self-sufficiency.
- Banikka Baruul
The center of Arvost is built over a system of ancient sewers and crypts known as the Banikka Baruul, after its discoverer and the old Common word for barrow. Any origin or past identity of the Baruul is completely unknown, though is is evidently carved from underground rivers that flow into the southern coast through sprawling ravines. The Baruul serves as the city’s prison as well as a sewer; criminals are often thrown into short falls that trap them in the topmost layer of the Baruul. Rumors of an underground society are popular amongst the more imaginative of the Arvosian citizenry, though evidence of such an idea seems slim.
The simplest way to describe the complicated Arvosian administrative system is dubbing it a republic, though the governing bodies prefer the term “cardinality”. Any political decisions are discussed by a group of four council members known as ‘cardinals’ in Common and Valandalen in Elvish. These cardinals are elected from an even larger council of aldermen and guild members pertaining to the industry or role of each quarter of the city. Once a year of councilship has passed for a cardinal, the council of aldermen and guild members may pass an edict to remove the cardinal from office. This is exploited often by the power hungry, though the most prominent and illustrious of cardinals are able to protect their seat for many years.
Everyone else in Arvost gains prominence through their own machinations, not relying on noble entitlement to further their powers. Influential families do exist, and play a large part in the various industries of the land. But in spite of this, nobility is a dated concept to Arvosians and is not explored on the political scale.
List of Rulers
Due to the sheer number of cardinals that have entered and exited office, it would be extremely difficult to note down the exact identities of each council member and their time in office. In some cases, there have been two cardinals for one quarter in times of great civil crisis. Below is a list of prominent cardinals and their years of office, including what they are known for.
List of Rulers
- Before Cataclysm - Elven nobility
- 0 -75 A.C. - N/A
- 75 - 103 A.C. - Erdenmir Aluvanil, Cardinal of Agriculture
- 80 - 105 A.C. - Yurlona Rhemanil, Cardinal of Industry
- 150 - 162 A.C. - Roding Wenderly, Cardinal of Agriculture
- 203 - 214 A.C. - Natalis Greygale, Cardinal of Trade
- 204 - 220 A.C. - Eirdan Temesir-Freyling, Cardinal of Military
- 210 - 220 A.C. - Mordan South-Freyling, Cardinal of Trade
- 230 - 255 A.C. - Darien Mooring, Cardinal of Trade
- 255 - 264 A.C. - Kalissa Kataris, Cardinal of Trade
- 260 - 280 A.C. - Merath Asmalnir, Cardinal of Industry
- 280 - Present - Varmir Dolowise, Cardinal of Military
- Elven States - The relationship between Arvost and the remnant Elven states is very poor. Due to religious as well as cultural differences as well as due to the influence of Caelebiaun’s zeal, all of the Elven States have held a deep hatred for Arvost, seeing the city state as a heavily inbred state of sin, and more importantly, a betrayal to Estel. This led to an attempted conquest of Arvost early on in the history of Thellassia and Medlem Talar that ultimately failed.
- Etosil and Kilarallis - In spite of the cultural blasphemy that is Arvost, the three island states maintain a healthy friendship amongst each other. Geographic proximity has encouraged trade and communication between the islands, bolstering their historical friendship stemmed from defending against the Elven Empire. Arvost has since signed a treaty that pledges defensive aid to either state in case of their invasion.
- The Kingdom of Lusits - Though nobility scoff at Arvosian culture, the kingdom’s trade tycoons are grateful for the vigilant anti-piracy fleets that sail in the Western seas. The appreciation does little to quell the mocking of Arvost’s cultural barbarity at court, however.
- Regalia - The relationship between the Empire of Regalia and Arvost is both cordial and complicated. Politically, the state of Arvost acts as an Ailor buffer state between any Elven states and the western shores of the Regalian archipelago. However, any attempts to take the state into Regalian administration would be heavily detrimental to political, economic, and military aspects of both the state and the Western continents. The two states have settled on an amicable relationship, with Arvost protecting much of the south-western seas with anti-piracy operations and militarily-enforced trade regulations. To Regalia, Arvost is a sieve for trade.
Economy and Technology
Arvost’s economy is self-contained, for its administration has created a microcosm that produces its own food and generates its own wealth through the trade of spice and iron. Up until a superior force wages war upon them with debilitating numbers and cliff-scaling armies, the region can hold on their own without any foreign trade or intervention. However, the lack of commodities produced in the region prevents Arvosian assets from becoming valuable in the foreign market. Even though trading with Arvost provides a steady income, it is notoriously difficult to make a big break. Other large industries for Arvost include fishing and textiles, both of which provide more for the inhabiting Arvosians than to be used for foreign trade.
Technology is most often stagnant, for the people of Arvost are slow to take in the customs of foreign nations. As they are content with the leavings of the collapsed Elven Empire, very few inventions of foreign make are brought into the region lest it substantially aids the good of the realm. Piping and sewage is still reserved to cisterns and wells, while printing presses and cannons are only in use by the upper class.
To maintain their prized sovereignty, Arvost actively hosts an impressive military force. The state’s military is organized into two groups: the Arva’tal (serving soldiers) and the Arva’than (garrisoned reserves). Service in the Arvosian military is highly rewarded, ranging from close-relative discounts to freehold fees for farms, and medical service that would cost money for the average citizen. Attractive benefits bring together a considerable number of eager youths who are ready to serve in the army.
The Arva’than work as the state’s military police and defensive force, and are therefore based in fortifications around the city. An Arva’than is exceptionally well-trained, relying on by-the-book organization to maintain justice in the streets. The members of this denomination are not limited to soldiers, but also contain judges and law-keepers who aid the armed in the trial and sentencing of criminals. These reserves carry primitive blades and longbows, owing in part to the technological stand-still Arvost is in. To aid in their movement around the city, Arva’than utilize the roofs and the canals to pursue perpetrators.
The Arva’tal’s life is fueled with excitement and daring, for these soldiers are sent out to maintain foreign military presences outside of the state. Much of the Arva’tal training comes from on-the-job experience, as they are required to serve as anti-piracy privateers and spies when required. Many of the Arva’tal are also required to educate themselves in the matter of trade and sailing to better themselves in their task. Often times, trained sailors commandeer vessels taken from pirates to compensate for the state’s lack of an official navy. These soldiers are trained in a multitude of different weapons, though a great number of the Arva’tal are taught to use chained hooks and nets in conjunction with their swords to snare foes from afar.
With the blood of Altalar and Ailor so heavily intermixed after the third generation, the majority of Arvost’s citizens are half-Nelfin or have a drop of Nelfin blood within them. While there are moderate numbers of pure Ailor or pure Nelfin families, their reluctance to breed into the rest of the population has resulted in dwindling numbers. Very few other races are permitted to live within the walls, with any bestial races staying in warrens built nearby the port as they are not allowed to purchase land.
- 45% Half-Elven
- 25% Pure Ailor
- 20% Pure Nelfin
- 8% Foreign Ailor
- 2% Other
The art of Arvost revolves mostly around practical crafts such as wood-carving, clay-working, or embroidery. These skills are highly prized, for many households within the city are inclined to filling as many shelves as possible with artefacts or memorabilia of some kind. Tapestries and carpets make a significant presence in the city, for many require treated cloth covers to shield fragile goods from unexpected rain or bundle it together to carry objects. Travelers walking down a street in Arvost will see many carpets draped from window sills, hanging over bales of hay, or wrapped around a set of unused timber.
Theater plays a key role in the entertainment of the city. Very few Arvosians ever leave the state, nor bother to dabble in the histories of other nations. As a result, historical portrayals and works of drama or comedy written by travelers are extremely popular amongst the citizenry. These plays are held within large amphitheaters or performing venues, all of which are packed with audiences at least once a day. The culture of drama is very pronounced as a result, with multitudes of fanbases loyally sworn to particular playwrights.
Besides theater and other typical pass-times, Arvosians are apt to enjoy pit fights that are just as dramatic and excitement-filled as the performing arts. In vast arenas, fighters are thrown together in contests of skill and bravery, some even lethal in nature. The blood sports of Arvost is very much a surprise for foreigners, though it is a wonderful source of income for a talented combatant. The most successful combatants tend to become local celebrities and command enough wealth to purchase small manors or other opulent leisures.
Arvosian clothes are beautiful as they are practical, always straddling a fine line between a work of art and a functional garment of utility. The most prized of clothing seamlessly combined functionality with aesthetics, while value drops for the less functional. Vests, wide-brimmed hats, and many-pocketed coats are worn typically by high and low class alike, though the clothes seen on the rich are almost always brighter and of higher quality. A uniquely Arvosian garment known as the ‘trosgilt’ is widespread amongst Arvosians; the thick, patterned cloth is tied and buckled around one shoulder, and can be quickly turned into a makeshift bag, a rain cloak, and a multitude of other implements.
The cuisine of Arvost is most notable, with some travelers making their way to the region simply to delight themselves in the region’s cookeries. With so many spices readily available from the fertile farms up north, experimentation is rampant amongst both the wives and the chefs within the city. When new waves of culture hit the city, food tends to take on new flairs. Restaurants have arisen in the wealthiest districts, where merchants and other reputable folk come to dine a chef’s most recent concoction.
It is understood by foreigners that the nation of Arvost formally recognizes Unionism as its primary religion. In truth, however, the diversity of religion aligns itself with the demographics of Arvost. The Unionists within Arvost are mostly the Pure Humans, while the Pure Nelfin live strictly to the Faith of Estel. The Old Gods, in practice the most represented religion in Arvost, is dominated by the interbred members of the population, who have no care for the racial restrictions when it comes to courtship and marriage. Despite the majority, all Cardinals are forced to practice Unionism, to maintain healthy relations with Regalia.
The center of worship in Arvost is the Amaldaryen Sanctuary, a large construction surrounded by a sacrificial ‘moat’. Old God worshippers make sacrifices or offerings into the 4-story drop beneath, which is routinely cleaned up by a stable worth of ravenous pigs.
Arvost’s most prominent national symbol is its most populous plant; the bluebell. It is most often portrayed in a side view, presenting its two leaves and stem alongside the flowerhead. Families from the region add these bluebell insignias to their coat of arms, as either major features or accents within their heraldry. Other symbols may include crossed scythes or crossed arrows that are often placed below the main featurette of a coat of arms.
- A famous murderer stalked the streets of Arvost for close to twenty five years. It is told that he threw his victim’s corpses into the Amaldaryen moat at the break of dawn, for all to see the pigs consuming a half-devoured corpse come time for a morning sacrifice. He was never caught, nor his identity ever discovered. Many still whisper of the “Moat Viper” to this day.
- A cardinal of the eastern quarter once disguised himself as a pit fighter for his entertainment. Due to his martial training, he became exceedingly successful and popular amongst all of the arenas. However, the cardinal was murdered in a bout of political intrigue, depriving the pit fighting world of Arvost one of its most beloved champions.
- Arvost and Etosil once nearly started a war over the rulership of a non-existent island. In truth, the island was a grossly over-proportioned outcropping of the island of Kilarallis on map. It took many years for the two nations to reconcile their trust over the issue.