Kingdom of Torse
The Kingdom of Torse, known as Renad ar Torfed in the local tongue, is the bitter enemy of the Kingdom of Arlora. The two have been embroiled in war with for as long as any citizen can remember. Sitting to the north of New Ceardia, Torse is an island chain spanning the gap between New Ceardia and Ellador. The environment is quite harsh, though the islands remain well populated. Although caught up in war, most of the citizens live comfortably, though grief is a strong force when the death of loved ones can be seen most everywhere.
The island chain of Torse was uninhabited by Humans, and devoid of any intelligent race before the migration of old Ceardians up north, an event that occurred long before the Cataclysm. At the island that is now Llunzhor, a number of Ceardians settled when temperatures plummeted further north. The people were divided into a number of tribes, constantly locked in battle. However, this changed at the start of a union between what is remembered as the ‘Teir Norzh,’ or the North Three. This trio of clans wanted to gain ultimate power, and worked together to seek control of the whole territory. This event is well remembered in the tales of bards. These clans were successful, and their chieftains ruled as a triumvirate, each responsible for an island in the chain, discounting the barely inhabited isle of Tsarkyn.
Founding of the Kingdom
The Cataclysm had little effect on these non-magical folk, nor the Void invasions, considering the isolation of the area. The major event that caused a shift in the atmosphere was the start of the war between Arlora and Torse. It is uncertain what caused this conflict, which started around 50 A.C., but some believe it was due to the expansion of Arlora, the newer state of the two. Regardless of cause, the war since then has been constant, with little ground gained or lost on either side. At this time, the conspiring Chieftan Owain plotted to unify the lands under a single ruler while the other chieftains were in battle. He ensured their deaths by planting fellow conspirators alongside the other two chieftains, who were killed by these supposed kinsmen. With this, Owain seized the monarchy, thus starting a long period of solitary control.
With a single throne established, the now King Owain sought to keep the war under control, addressing issues as they arose. His main focus was securing political stability, which he did by organising a conference of the clans. This regular conference now goes by the name of ‘Mestr Bodadeg,’ and the movement appeased many of the local leaders. A notable shift of power occurred when Queen Nolwenn took the throne; she was supported by fiercely loyal soldiers, but many of the local chieftains objected to having a female rule over them. Nonetheless, with strident attacks into Arlora and bold defenses, she managed to keep the people happy and she kept her throne. Followed by King Gwilherm, the Kingdom of Torse began to see the steady descent to where it is today. Women were mocked and shaven as payment for Gwilherm’s disapproval of Nolwenn’s reign, while chieftains were slaughtered if they spoke against Gwilherm. He ruled with an iron fist and led major incursions into Torse, most of which failed. His dynasty was a slight improvement in his ability to control the state, but Torse still moved backwards with a weakening economy and increasing isolation.
Although still powerful in terms of warfare, Torse has no economic significance, and the treatment of other races and of women is abhorrent, even compared to the harsh racism of Regalia. However, the new King Corentin appears set to make a change. His name means ‘hurricane’ in Brezhoneg, and the people hope that he will bring winds of change. Change is what Torse needs, and he may well be the deliverer. He has toured the villages as his reign was proclaimed, and his plans for the kingdom are a far cry from the regimes of his predecessors.
The name Torse came from the time when the ‘Teir Norzh’ were taking over the islands. Those who felt anger at the acts called the founding of the ‘kingdom’ a crime, translated as Renad ar Torfed. The ruling chieftains did not quite pick up on the fact that Torfed meant “crime” in the now extinct Breizh language, and decided that it was a good name. Thus it was adopted, and translated into common with corruption. The name of the capital, Skiant, is quite simple. Skiant means endowed in the regional dialect Cyton. The islands of Enez ar Reter and Enez ar Kornôg draw their name from the Bresten words for East Isle and West Isle respectively, which reflects their location.
Being comprised of four large islands, the Kingdom of Torse is larger than its rival Arlora, although the northern islands in the chain are inhospitable, and very few civilized races live there. The northernmost isle is the Tsarkyn Isle, the most forbidding of the group. It lacks in flora and fauna, and instead is covered by towering mountains. The central island is called Llunzhor, and close to the south coast rests the capital city of Skiant. This island, while still quite mountainous, is not quite so bitterly cold as Tsarkyn Isle. While the capital was previously found further south in the chain, it was necessary to move north, away from the war front. A large number of rivers twist and turn through the island. Finally, the lower isles Enez ar Kornôg and Enez ar Reter border and buffer the kingdom. Both of these are flatter than their northern counterparts, though still rather rocky. The coastlines are mostly composed of sheer cliff faces, with the occasional flat, shale beach.
Typically very frigid on Llunzhor and especially Tsarkyn, the climate of Torse is very cold, akin to its northern neighbours. With high wind speeds the bitterly low temperatures are only made worse, making blizzards commonplace. Although the snow ceases in the summer months, rain is very frequent and can be quite misrable.
- Arizon Brag
- Meaning ‘great garrison’ in Cyton, one of the regional dialects, Arizon Brag is one of the few stone structures located on the island chain, and it can be found on Enez ar Kornôg, near the battlefront. It is where the troops are stationed, and thus has a particularly high capacity and importance.
- Afon Glwm
- The ‘river glum,’ as it is called in common, Afon Glwm is a particularly long river that almost stretches the entire length of Tsarkyn Isle. It is the longest water source that can be found on the isles by a great margin, and at its greatest width, it spans almost a half mile. There is a wide range of folklore surrounding the river, speaking of undead and other lurking beasts hidden in its depths.
- Kompezenoll ar Torse
- This is a more recent center of industry due to the salt flats found on the central island of Llunzhor, not far from its capital. Salt is now a major export for Torse, and the vast salt flats contain an immeasurable quantity.
The Kingdom of Torse is ruled by a king with a council of advisers, although the council has no formal power. Below the King, chieftains rule their own towns and villages, usually with little interference from the King. Their only contribution to the running of the Kingdom is the biennial ‘Mestr Bodadeg,’ a meeting of chieftains where they discuss issues and suggestions. Other than the chieftains, men are only distinguished based on military achievements and strength.
List of Rulers
- A triumvirate of Chieftains Deniel, Erwann and Mael: 32BC - 1BC
- Various triumvirates: 0BC - 51AC
- A monarchy of King Owain: 52AC - 71AC
- King Owain’s dynasty: 72AC - 146AC
- Queen Nolwenn: 147AC - 171AC
- King Gwilherm: 172AC - 206AC
- King Gwilherm’s dynasty: 207AC - 297AC
- King Corentin: 298AC - 302AC
The Kingdom of Torse is very isolated. A small amount of trade occurs directly across the border, but only on a small scale and consisting primarily of salt. The most notable part of the state’s foreign relations is its constant war with Arlora. Torse has almost no communication with the superpowers of Regalia and the Qadiriy’ye.
The Kingdom of Torse’s military power is scattered, but the various powers form a collective front against Arlora. These fighters are typically strong and well equipped, though disorganised and sometimes rebellious; their allegiance to the King is not always clear. The navy is the most limited part of the military in terms of equipment, with few skilled sailors and even fewer boats. This has proved problematic as the Kingdom of Arlora begins to build up its naval forces.
Economy and Technology
Although the official state coinage is in ‘gwenneg’ (and various dialectal names), most trade is performed through barter, thus most hold little value in gwenneg. Due to the cold environment, only the two southern islands can grow crops, meaning that imports from the continent of New Ceardia are often relied upon. The main import is wheat, used locally to make bread. Hunting is the most popular industry in Torse, and much trade is done through selling meats locally. In terms of exports, iron ore is in high demand across the border. More recently, salt has become the biggest export due to the ease of gathering it from the salt flats. The state is very limited in terms of technology, and it is closer to its Northerne neighbours in terms of technology than the recent modern advances of New Ceardia.
- Ailor - 95%
- Ur - 1%
- Thylan - 1%
- Other - 3%
There are a number of different languages within Torse, and while Bresten is the most widely adopted, each island has a number of dialects that stem from Bresten. Brezhoneg is a dialect originating on Llunzhor, while Cyton can be found on both Enez ar Kornôg and Enez ar Reter. Tsarkyn has a number of corrupted forms of Bresten. On the isles, wealth is scarce. The people live simple lives, largely self-sufficient, and do not generate much of an income. Clothing is usually made of fur or animal hides, thickly woven in order to keep the wearer protected from the harsh climate. The most common dishes are all meat-based, as this is in abundance on the isles. Bread is also shipped throughout Torse from Enez ar Reter.
The people of Torse are generally very hostile to outsiders, and there is a very strong feeling of Ailor supremacy. Other races are only welcome as slaves in most parts. Women, though far inferior to the men, are required to perform some work; the men are away at war and the farms need tending. Nonetheless, a woman is the property of her closest male relative, typically her husband or father. The laws of the state are very few, as to encourage freedom, but those that exist can seem arbitrary and they are strictly policed. Notably, women are forbidden from leaving the home during hours of darkness, and harsh beatings are often brought about as punishment.
The main religion on the island is the faith of the Old Gods, with a focus on the Union of Air, derived from the howling winds and heavy rains so frequent on these islands. Many warriors dedicate themselves to Bashtur, God of warriors, with war paint, while service to Mershell, God of freedom, is done by lifestyle and leisure. War paint is a very popular custom, but the islands have many other customs and festivals. The festival of air celebrates the union of Bashtur and Mershell, who the people see as lovers, and is a time when newly eligible men choose women to court with.
The national symbol of Torse is a grey triangle on a white background. The triangle symbolises not only the mountains found so commonly in Torse, but also the pointed end of Bashtur’s sword, while the white represents both the cold gales and a blank canvas for Mershell’s creative freedom.
- Children are dutifully informed by their parents that the people of Arlora cause a ‘cabbage stink’ that will rarely ever fade should one do anything but embroil themselves in combat with them.
- Arm wrestling is a family favourite for entertainment in Torse.
- Although supposed to be heralded as servants of Mershell, bards are mocked by almost all tavern-goers for their “squealing voices.”