Hand of Fate (and Foot of Balrom)
In the Darkness
The Political Situation 1
The Old Kingdom (so called because it was once in the distant past a Kingdom) is the last known place in Lower Earth which is not entirely in the grip of Lord Darkness. That is not to say that it holds out against him, rather that he has not got around to it yet. And as the last morsel, he appears to be savouring it.
The Old Kingdom has no ruling power or any of its trimmings (army, law, welfare state etc.). Instead, pockets of communities live by their own laws and make alliances where they can best profit. The result of this is that the agents of Darkness freely roam the land, welcomed in some places where their presence brings trade, grudgingly accepted where they are feared, ignored or openly opposed (these communities are few – they have mostly been reduced to ash or some unpleasant equivalent).
The most influencial place in the Old Kingdom is the city of Belisaere (Bell-iss-airy). Here the cultural heart of the lost kingdom still beats in the graceful architecture of the Great Library and the Academy and the pursuits of art, alchemy and literature flourish. An elected council rules the city with a necessary level of bureaucracy, and law and order is maintained by a city guard and a ruthless court system. The influence of Belisaere extends to the surrounding region, making it a prosperous and peaceful place where many wealthy nobles have their country estates.
Yet Belisaere has not escaped the sight of Lord Darkness. Recently the council was forced to accept Darkness as the overlord of the city. Outwardly, Belisaere remains prosperous (perhaps more so than before), but anyone seeking to oppose Darkness in the city better watch their back.
The Political Situation 2
South of the River Lyx lies a hilly region sparsely populated with remote hamlets and small holdings. Out of reach of the prosperity of Belisaere, the inhabitants suffer regularly at the hands of roving bands of Darkness’ followers as well as at the hands of their home-grown beasts and bandits (for this is also dragon country). The people who live here are fiercely protective of their land and wary of strangers.
Inhabitants of this area refer to the rolling hill-land as ‘Huge Mountains’ while everyone else knows them as the ‘Wee Hills’.
Nearby Sicklewood is a strange fey place, rarely visited by humans. Here nature runs wild and the settlements, such as there are, seem almost to have grown out of the land themselves. The folk who live here vanish at the sight of strangers and seem untouchable by the Darkness – by guerilla tactics they drive back all and any who enter their realm unannounced. They do however retain strong trade links with other parts of the kingdom where their herbs and eldritch consumables are greatly valued.
Recently, however, a threat has overcast this secluded spot. To the South-West, the Dark Forest has broken through the wall and even now stretches its shadowy tendrils over the tranquil land.
The Political Situation 3
The Icaree mountains are dominated by the immense, smoking presence of Mount Fiador. Here the fire giants, who once roamed the hills in isolation, have gathered together, forcing the dwarves who populate this region to retreat away from the finest seams of precious metals and hottest furnaces. The dwarves consequent anger is focused mainly on the immediate cause of their suffering, with few glancing with fear through the belching smoke towards the darkening skies beyond the Western Wall.
The Western wall incedently is also a remenant of the lost kingdom. It was once a defensive structure and still remains in parts up to 30 feet high, though much of it is enveloped in grassy earthworks. The modern road cuts through it to a little to the north of the original passageway, where still towers the remains of a mighty fortress. At the Southern end of the wall, the partition between the Old Kingdom and the rest of the land has been breached by the deep and deadly Dark Forest. Most people have fled from the region around the wall, as the allies and minions of Darkness are found in great number there.
To the West of the Wall, the land changes markedly. The sky darkens to a deep and uniform grey twilight, the ground becomes dry and gritty and only coiling serpentine plants snake through the thorny undergrowth or creep up the naked branches of long dead trees. Encamped upon these broadly flat plains are the hordes of darkness, unmentionable armies of races who dwell in the perpetual darkness. Very little is mapped in this region, but it is known that somewhere in this perpetual night is the self-made dwelling place of Lord Darkness.
The Political Situation 4
To the North of the Icarees lies a desolate place, scrubland running almost imperceptively into a trecherous marsh, bound by the grey and sluggish River Scull and the large lake of the same name. The marsh itself is populated by sparse communities, internally racially diverse but reclusive. Outsiders view the marsh’s inhabitants with superstition, suspecting that something of the marsh has seeped into their blood, giving them strange, eldritch powers. There is no persistent presence of Lord Darkness’ servants in this region (the swampy land is difficult to navigate), but the sorties he has made into the region have been large and brutal.
The North Wood is the territory of the elves. It’s really quite elvish there. To the north (off the map) is a barren land where you’ll find orcs in quite high numbers. A lot of orcish traffic goes through the North Wood to get to the Dark Plains, resulting in many a pitched battle.
Finally, the Eastern boundary of the Old Kingdom is marked by the Ajacian Mountains, locked in perpetual ice. The river Rattelin has its source in the Obsidian Glacier, nestled between the highest peaks. Within the glacier live the Ice Elves, a distant people who rarely leave their icy home, spending their lives dwelling on the past, watching over the present and divining the future of Lower Earth.