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01 January 2012 @ 03:21 pm
 
The Lands of Kalor; a codex for the uninformed.

Valen is a country of mystery. Reclusive and judgemental of other ‘scruffy’ cultures, Valen nonetheless has a booming trade industry due to its prime location – sitting atop most of the iron, silver, and gold mines in the entirety of Kalor. The entire thing is nearly drowning in natural resources - medicinal herbs that grow nowhere else, obsidian from the volcanoes on the northern part of Valen’s borders, furs from the beasts that wander the mountains, and some of the finest textiles ever worked by human hands… it all flows from Valen.

Known as the ‘Deciever’s Country’, Valenians wear masks at all times, speaking in a practiced, clipped monotone so as not to grace those below (or shame those above)with their true voices or faces. They are cold, well-bred, intelligent, and anonymous. It generally causes a great deal of friction between them and ‘outsiders’, as the anonymity allows them the ability to strike out at foreigners and lower-class citizens without any real reciprocation.

It is also relatively common for nobility and royalty to commission unique masks for their children when they reach adulthood - and then have the particular mask-maker murdered, so as to have it be nearly impossible to recreate.

Unlike every other part of Kalor, Valen still keeps slavery an active and healthy part of their mercantile activities. While it is technically illegal to capture a man from another country for the purpose of enslaving him, by Valenian law, rare is the official that will ‘notice’ the foreigner until he has already changed masters half a dozen times, making his paper trail ‘not worth the effort’, and forcing him into Valenian citizenship.

Valenians are usually a little on the short side, 5'6"-5'9" is the average for both men and women. They're pale, with light colored hair and eyes - the stronger your Valenian blood, the brighter the irises. They are slight of build and generally have long fingered, elegant hands. Rare is the Valenian warrior, rarer still is one who makes it past his first battle. Old noble families usually have neon green, blue, or yellow colored eyes.

Men and Women are regarded with mostly equal standing - but women are forbidden to hold political office or go to war. Many, however, are very successful Merchant-Princes and Craftswomen; or impersonate men and follow the paths denied despite.

Masks are an important part of Valenian culture - the materials they are comprised of, their style and design, all denote the rank (and wealth) of the man or woman beneath.

Royalty: Masks made of precious and delicate materials, such as Jade, Obsidian, or Gold. Usually heavily engraved or gilded.
Nobility: Masks made of Ebony, Mahogany, or laminates of bone and wood, usually with gilt edging or engraving.
Merchant-Princes: Obsidian masks with a single copper accent shot through the left side, vertically.
War-Heroes/Generals: Ivory masks with steel accents running horizontally over the eyes.
Lesser Nobles/Civic Officals: Plain ivory without very little to no adornment.
Middle-Class: Plain oak or teak masks. Mandatory piercings in right(men) or left(women) ears with different earrings indicating their chosen profession. For example, blacksmiths have iron earrings shaped like swords, while carpenters have brass studs shaped like nailheads.
Mask-Makers are often allowed a 'stripe' of a material well above their station to honor their trade.
Lower-Class: Unstained, featureless pine masks. Simple steel ball earrings in both ears, regardless of gender. If either have been removed or torn out, it is a sign of great shame/indication of a criminal. Those who haven't chosen or mastered a profession would have either the appropriately shaped copper earring for apprenticeship or a plain stud to show indecision.

The Emperor of Valen is Meren Calus; known among his people as a wise and cautious ruler who has kept them safe and wealthy for as long as anyone can remember. He has only ever had one child at a time - groomed, worshipped as a minor God, showered with gifts and praise - who vanishes when they turn ten.

There is a period of mourning, and some years later, another child is born.

Juren is a reclusive, militant nation. Telere are their former overlords - before a rebellion twenty years ago, and since, Juren has had very little contact with the outside world. They're almost as mysterious as Valenians - and have savage, but downright brilliant battle tactics. Generals and warriors are occassionally sent on pilgramage to Juren to learn the ways of the land, and they come out quiet and hardened, but it has produced some of the best military minds over the last few years. Juren is noted for is violent distaste for Telere and Valen, and it takes a lot of convincing to allow people from these regions into their training halls.

Their main exports are worked metals, granite, and leather - in fact, they are known for their leatherworkers, and do elaborate stitching, embossing, and tooling to all of their leather goods. While Juren itself sits on no great quanitity of copper, or iron, they breed some of the finest blacksmiths in the entirety of Kalor, and maintain the only decently sized tin mines known. Trade with Valen (metals for foodstuffs, soldiers, and favors) has driven the country to the brink of poverty.

Valen is always ready with a loan for the Royal Coffers, though, and it is often quietly wondered if Emperor Calus plans to simply 'purchase' the country through the tangle of debt and reliance he has built over the years.

Juren is ruled by King Tryoj Attero, an aging warrior-sovereign who is deeply troubled by the emptiness of his coffers and how much they have come to depend on Valen - but he also knows how much he owes the 'great' Meren Calus and cannot deny the man when he comes calling for favors or bearing steel and silver.

Talere is an aging empire that is crumbling under the assault from Turkic, to the west. Once holding dominion over everything but Valen - and thus holding the records for all of those countries - Talere's emperor is dead, his sons bickering amongst themselves, his daughters slain or missing. Valen has no talk or treaty with it - they are the only country that do not, after their own assault on the venerable empire some seventy years ago - but Juren is doing what it can to support the civilians caught in the crossfire of civil war and invasion.
Their main exports are grain, pottery, marble and indigo.

Talere's greatest asset - and weakness - are its legions. Over two-hundred thousand men strong, all told, this army is the only thing holding Talere together in a sort of martial law. Despite, Zalan (the capital) is still a center of art, culture, and learning, and maintains one of the largest libraries in Kalor. It's just a ghost town.
Talere is currently without a figurehead, though the Legate of the 13th Legion, Rexus Jervus, is often suggested to assume the mantle of Emperor until a proper replacement has been found. So far, he has not accepted or denied the honor – fearing, and wisely so, his assassination upon claiming the position, as well as needing to maintain order through travel and Martial Law.

Turkic is an utterly savage, brutal place, and is properly referred to as the 'Horselord's Alliance of Turkic'. These small countries have banded together under the common banner of their shared gods and shared love of horses, and are the best cavalry in the entire world, despite their 'barbaric' culture. The countries within Turkic are: Maruk, Hazok, Natek, Jelak, and Casik. Each man will introduce himself as a Markani, Hazokani, etc, not a 'Turk'.

The 'Turks' have begun an aggressive campaign against Talere in an effort to remove their rule, as they have been oppressed and drafted into the Talerian armies for the last two hundred years – and given Talere's current weakened state, they are growing ever closer to becoming independent.

A nomadic nation, Turick is cursed – the northernmost reaches are forced to a permanent winter, warming to autumn, summer, and finally a frosty spring as you travel south. They received a gift from the Gods to make up for the mistake that cursed them – the art of moving crops, which is well guarded. Turkic has treaties with all major nations, even the Isles, forbidding others from assaulting during moving and planting season.

Their main exports are grain, horses, and tobacco.

They are ruled by the 'Horselord' Carnelian Shadow; twice protected by being the hero of his entire country by escaping slavery in Valen to unite his people and by using only his assigned title, rather than his true name. A consumate diplomat well-groomed by his former master, he is cultured, calm, and a ruthless warlord.

The Shattered Isles are a conglomerate of islands independent from each other, often ignored by most countries. What most know is that they trade obsidian, coral, shells, and fish to all countries in a constant stream of merchant ships – and are rumored to be 'rustic' at best and unintelligent, volcano worshiping savages at worst.

Their King is, for those who might know, called 'Levian Buraikumin', though it is unsure if this is his name or title.