Beyond the Veil
Modern Arkhosian society is heavily based on standards set by the kingdom of Easteral, a predominantly human nation driven out of power fifty years ago at the height of the last war. Of the few humanoid-controlled cities remaining, most are still human, although there are several important cultural groups on the continent who do not inhabit cities.
It is important to note that Easteral (also known as the Sunfire Empire for most of its history) was divided into two culturally distinct groups, managed by its lords in very different ways. Northern Easteral, stretching the northern boundary beyond the mountains and south beyond the Dragonbone River to the scrublands just north of Ar’kesh, was divided into baronies – twelve, to be precise, plus the region surrounding the capital Kahl-Draegoth, which was controlled by the king and its administrators. Although Kahl-Draegoth itself lies in ruins, as do many of the cities from which the various barons governed, modern, educated humans still recognize the importance of the boundaries between these baronies. The inhabitants of the Nentir Vale, for instance, still consider themselves citizens of the Nentir barony, whereas the inhabitants of the Braenith Plains are still Braenoran. Educators still teach their students classic Easteral geography, and most still hope that the Sunfire crown will be reclaimed and their kingdom will be restored, despite the mounting evidence that the royal line has been eradicated. Most of the remaining cities still acknowledge a baron; Braenorans, for instance, agree that Baron Shreve in Three Points is their rightful ruler, even though he does not have any crown to answer to.
Of course, the Last War drastically altered traditional trade routes and isolated most cities from each other. The remaining baronies have little contact with each other (this is probably for the best, as each baron would probably disagree as to how to govern in post-Imperial society). Fortunately, most cities had ample supplies of food and farmland of their own, as well as other basic resources. The luxuries available to particular regions, such as spice, silk and precious metals, have skyrocketed in value, for merchants make a much more treacherous journey from one city to the next. This has eliminated access for most families, limiting items that would have once been considered basic creature comforts to the elite and the wealthy.
Many cities received a tremendous influx of refugees as the war went on and city after city fell. As with other areas of governance, each of the remaining barons has found a unique way to deal with this issue. One has issued an order that the refugees are to be taken into the city walls and treated with compassion, allowing the establishment of easy citizenry; another has only allowed to set up makeshift villages, now called “drags,” outside the city walls. There are rumors of some cities who turned away all refugees, or even had them exterminated for fear that the doppelganger assassins employed by the Abyssals would infiltrate the refugees and bring down city defenses. Not much is known for certain, only that the barony of Grendnal now turns away all outsiders, promising death if one remains in their lands.
Southern Easteral effectively no longer exists. It was here that the magnificent city-states of Ar’kesh were once ruled by independent tribunals answering to the king, bringing peace and justice never before seen in this harsh desert region. Sadly, it was also here that the Abyssals permanently settled in Arkhosia, wiping out any who might threaten their power and enslaving the rest. Although some sort of infernal society surely exists here, it is poorly understood, even by those who have managed to escape the walls of their cities. All that is known is that they are attempting to excavate something once hidden beneath the seven great fortress-cities of this region, although they have not been successful in the fifty years they have spent on the project.
Beyond Ar’kesh lay the Growlands, a region mercifully spared the doom brought to Arkhosia during the Last War…at least, compared to the lands beyond their northern boundaries. These fertile plans are occupied by a variety of tribal peoples – sometimes at war with each other, and sometimes at peace, though the wars of these tribes are but skirmishes compared to any war fought by their mortal kin elsewhere on the continent.
Each of these tribes is its own unique society, and it is beyond the talents of this writer to describe them all in detail. What I can express is my great admiration for the spectacular diversity on display here, and my relief that they have been spared the same treatment we have received from the Abyssal invaders. From the minotaur tribe of Tal’chek to the goliath of Dor, one would never tire of researching the many societal idiosyncracies of each tribe of the Growlands.
There are others to speak of; the great lands of Arkhosia are home to many culturally distinct societies, including the mountain-dwelling dwarves (sadly driven nearly to extinction during the war), the reclusive elves of Graywood and Rustwood, the growing human city called simply “Hope” on the far southern coast, and finally the burgeoning tiefling kingdom of Bael Tirsius in the treacherous northlands, which I am to understand is a place wholly dedicated to the cause of justice and benevolence. However, these are all deserving of their own dedicated entries in these chronicles; what I have described here could be safely described as “conventional” Arkhosian society.