Nations rise and fall, cities are built and then razed. Across the Kingdom, these icons have endured despite the passage of millennia.
Realm: The name itself is a holdover from the ancient homeland; a word with deep significance for the people that made it to the Kingdom alive. They established their first capital and crowned a King while expanding out across the land for generations. At one point, the Kingdom of Realm, ruled by Zenik’s grandson Partrachious, had outposts at all corners of the known world. Realm would never see greater heights and it has been in a spiral of steady decay since. Having retreated to the South, Realm is little more than the lands nearby the City that bears its name and the donated provinces of obedient noble houses who gather to suckle at the teat of the capital’s opulence.
City Of Realm: After it became apparent to the so-called nobility in Zenik’s Keep how much fairer the weather was in the City of Realm, the power and prestige of the Eastern Empire collapsed and the houses were consolidated into a few, who established new homes in Realm. The City has the largest and most well armed keep in all the Kingdom, with enough trebuchets and parapets to lay waste to any who attempt to breach the walls. Over 3 million people live within the tall defensive barricades, and easily another 5 million more in the Outer City all around. It is the most lucrative, culturally active and potentially dangerous place in the Kingdom.
Strayalis: Founded early in the expansion, as competition between Humans and Shifters for lands and rights had always been something of vigorous debate, often leading to violence. The 50 most powerful Shifters of the time united their strength and created a impassable barrier around a home city for all Shifters to come to and be safe from Humans. They called the city Strayalis and the The Sea of Grass was built to ensure its legacy. The city itself is made of polished orange stones, and composed of tall towers, temples and beautiful, permanent arrangements of the Stream. It is a place of learning, and exploring in a city that has not been sacked and never will be by any Human army.
Vale: Located in the Obsidian Valley on the shores of Blackpool, the dark spires of Vale rise high into a picturesque landscape. Rimmed by frozen mountain peaks and sharp, curved, black stone, as sharp as glass rising like black lances out of the valley floor. The masters who reside here are feared by some and respected by all. The extreme figures of the Shifting world who sought to increase their power and learn to what end it reached, practiced their art and pushed the limits in Vale.
Cheed: A highly populous merchant city on the calm and cool coast of the Trader’s Bay. Along with the other trading cities, Cheed also houses the finest of all the fighting arenas for Humans, Barbarians and Shifters. Thousands flock here for the markets, and rare goods to be bought and sold. It also boasts the largest harbor anywhere on the Bay, and nearly 3 million citizens in and around the dockside districts of the sprawling city. While slums and poor conditions abound, the city is largely kept in check with the assistance of locally organized militia.
Siegecrest: When Zenik’s Keep fell into decline, some of the nobles went south to the City of Realm and others who sought to protect the lands they had grown to love, went north. Once they found a defensive valley between the Frozen North and the Fold, they established Siegecrest to be a pillar of support for all those who now had no one to protect them. With in its impenetrable walls, those who wished to remember the Old Way gave back to the common people, who had come to this land to be free. The Last Knights of Realm, as they called themselves, were just that, the only few remaining who truly knew what Realm had been and what it never could be now. Though they ride under a similar banner and name, Realm and the Last Knights could not be more at odds.
Naruna: Home of The Academy, and the largest library anywhere in the Kingdom, Naruna is a city of fantastic blue towers and thick, sea-spray encrusted walls. Located on the high cliffs above the churning waters of the northern Trader’s Bay, Naruna has long been the seat of knowledge and history in the Kingdom. Nearly all texts that have been written and preserved since the first days are somewhere in the incomprehensably massive library of the Academy. This is also the home of the Rangers, or, Black Cloaks. They represent the intelligence and reconnaissance operations of the Academy, as Naruna keeps a watchful eye on the Kingdom.
Zenik’s Keep: The original landing point of the survivors from the homeland, after a seemingly endless voyage of years at sea. Those that had lived through the journey were grateful to be alive, and they named the captain who had them keep faith, Zenik, their first King. He had promised them life, and he had given it. They built a capital and the remaining nobles rebirthed their houses, taking in land and wealth. From that point, Realm began a steady march outwards: gaining control of land, establishing cities, and growing an empire. Zenik’s Keep would see its peak early on, within the first 250 years, before the City of Realm was founded in the South.
Teayl: Seat of House Alwitter, and a proud city of blue and white buildings and beautiful views of the Trader’s Bay. Fair weather and a strong breeze can often be had here, as well as a vibrant trading district. Decades ago, a sickness swept through the people of Teayl and they were all killed, including 3 of the 4 remaining noble born Alwitters. Only the son, Lorica, survived because he was at sea on his way back from the City of Realm. Teayl has bloomed since, but none in the Realm will relinquish the stigma of death that once came to that island.
Tor’Khaless: They are the Tor, and Tor’Khaless is The Gathering place where the King of Words speaks for all the Tor in the North. The city itself has a small population which remains through winter, but as the summer months approach, many Tor from across the North make the pilgrimage to the city. They represent their clans and tribes, arriving to speak of what they have seen in their lands and hear what awaits them in the year to come. The King of Words speaks, and his children will listen to the voice of the ancestors. Once enough has been said, they will again go their separate ways and begin to defend themselves as the darkness of winter creeps in.
A’Nduulesh: A city they built to be taken, and re-taken as the Anten came to rise and the Tor fought them back. Some Tor try to live there, but it is a hard life of raids, attacks and eventual conquests. The Blood, as Humans know it, is a city intended to have wars fought at its gates. Surrounded by natural and constructed defenses, control of A’Nduulesh is always hard fought whether it is won or lost. Warriors of the Tor and those that become legend do so at A’Nduulesh, against the fiercest enemy of all, the Anten.
The Academy: An institution founded in the earliest days by Human and Shifter scholars. They endeavored to document the history of all who have come to or did already live in the Kingdom. After amassing a truly comprehensive historic account of events over the millennia, they expanded into observational studies and watched over the land with Shifting farsight and physical scouts. Some of their graduates become Rangers, who go out into the Kingdom and seek answers to questions across the Trader’s Fold and beyond.
The Last Knights of Realm: A dignified blood lineage brings gravity to the Last Knights, as they are well-trained, organized and one of the deadliest fighting forces in all the Kingdom. Among their number are some of the strongest swordsmen, fiercest cavalry riders, and a few who have the Blood of Kings in their veins. If one achieves an elite status as a proven warrior, he or she may hope to join the ranks of the Guardians. A mix of advanced infantry and cavalry, they protect the Lord Of Siegecrest’s vanguard and are, essentially, the tip of the spear.
The Blue Fleet: The Last Knight’s beliefs extended as a peacekeeping armada, patrolling the northern Trader’s Bay and destroying pirates and other deviants who would cause harm to citizens and trade. Shifters aid the ships as they travel which, when coordinated with a crew, can make Blue Fleet warships the most deadly hunters on the Bay. Only a Jeshan or Bessan with uncanny endurance can effectively serve aboard one of these ships.
Assassin’s Guild of Kijj: A highly secretive guild working with unknown motives and an uncertain purpose. Their agents are amongst the most dangerous in the Kingdom, and are rarely caught in the act of murder. They take only certain contracts, and have long been thought to serve some other master besides profit. Whatever their secrets, they have been kept well.
The Tor (Barbarians): The natives of the Kingdom, who proudly chose to live in the Frozen North rather than the temperate South. They wanted to be the top predator of the Kingdom, and the place to earn that right is in the North. The creatures that reside there would easily make a meal of a Human or unsuspecting Shifter, as only the strong, quick and clever can hope to survive in the homeland of the Tor. Barbarians have an affinity for the Stream and believe Shifters are consequential somehow since they can interact with it.
Red Army of Realm: Rumoured to have over one million active infantry alone, it is the largest army in all the Kingdom, but unproven in battle. The lives of Humans in the South are soft with ease, and so too the soldiers are plump, not hard and able as they would need to be to overcome professional soldiers. It is strictly a Human fighting army, with enslaved Bessan Shifters serving as scouts.
Royal Navy of Realm: Working alongside the Blue Fleet in the northern half of the Bay, the Royal Navy patrol’s effectiveness is tied to greater numbers of ships because of the conventional sailing they are bound to. They do not Shift to make their ships faster or deadlier, but the responsiveness and numbers make pillaging and thievery in the southern Trader’s Bay unprofitable.