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Following the discussion on the SC during the BC 2300 period, and the reasons why some peoples moved where they did, I think it's time to dig out my old project on Nastoreth - the lost colony of Varellya that was built on something nasty, which probably would have had an impact on other realms.
Note: This was originally slated to go into the MA at some point - hence the format.
Nastoreth (Kingdom of)by Geoff Gander
Location: Continent of Brun, Arm of the Immortals
Area: Approx. 1,232 sq. mi.
Population: 70,000 (21,000 in the capital of Naxaloth, 32,000 living in scattered villages and towns, 17,000 lizard men).
Languages: Varellyan (official), lizard man dialects.
Coinage: balith (pp), karsith (gp), tilith (sp), orith (cp).
Taxation: 25% income tax collected yearly (Nu 1). There is also a 7% sales tax on all items except food, books, and clothing.
Government Type: Magocracy, both clerics and mages accorded very high status.
Industries: Agriculture (primarily fruits and grains), magic, mining, sheep.
Important Figures: “The Allking” (mysterious ruler of Nastoreth, said to be a wizard of great power).
Flora and Fauna: Like many realms with its type of climate, Nastoreth has its share of deciduous trees (primarily oak, birch, and maple), bogs, grasses, and shrubs. What sets this damp land apart from many others is that exotic plants, such as grab grass, vampire roses, and the like, and totally non-existent in the valley occupied by Nastoreth. Though the soils and climate are said to be ideal for these types of bizarre plants, none grow here.
Likewise, Nastoreth’s animal life is surprisingly mundane. Here one may find beavers, cougars, deer, freshwater fish in the numerous inland ponds and tiny lakes, insects of all varieties, moose, various rodents, and occasionally wolves. No monstrous creatures of any type are to be found here. Likewise, the mountains hold no dragon lairs or griffon eyries. In fact, birds, and other airborne creatures (aside from insects), are totally absent from this land, a fact which struck me when I first came here. In asking various locals about the wildlife, I was surprised to find that few people even knew what birds were. Surely something must be afoot in this land.
Further reading: None.
Description: by Beni-apal-iqbi
I had heard tales of the mysterious realm of Nastoreth when I was but a young one - of a shadowy realm closed to foreigners; of a land where an Immortal king rules among men; of a realm of wizards unparalleled in power. You can imagine my excitement at being allowed to journey to this unknown land, for the one known as the Allking, ruler of Nastoreth, decreed that his kingdom should open its borders to “the lands of the ignorant”, so they might savour the “many splendours of Nastoreth.” Whether these claims are true remains to be seen.
Nastoreth is a secluded land, girded to the north, south, and west by the tall mountains of the Arm of the Immortals, their fearsome peaks stretching almost to the clouds themselves. From these peaks, the land slopes steeply downwards to a narrow belt of foothills, which themselves slope down into the Holy Forest, which sits in the centre of Nastoreth. From this great wood, the land slopes gently downwards towards the east, until the ground itself becomes swampy in places, finally giving way to the Izondian Deep. On the coastal flats stands the walled city of Naxaloth, capital of Nastoreth.
Despite its tropical latitude, Nastoreth is rather cool and damp. Temperatures are never scorching hot in summer (25°C), and in winter, I am told, the temperature never goes below freezing. The prevailing winds bring dampness from the east, which is then trapped in the valley that Nastoreth occupies. On most days, the sky is slightly overcast, especially on the day of the new moon, so I am told, when thunderstorms are especially powerful. The most dramatic feature of this part of the world lies some distance off the coast, during the summer solstice. When the moon rises at the end of that longest day, the waters of the Izondian Deep are said to glow faintly, especially towards the southwest, in the waters of the Strait of Izonda itself, less than 150 miles away. No one was able to tell me what this was, but surely it must be something unique.
The average person of Nastoreth is of average height for a human, fair skinned, and dark of hair and eyes. The human residents of Nastoreth claim to be descendants of a lost empire known as Varellya. As a people, I found them to be no different than other humans I have met in my travels - they are just as varied, with deviousness, kindness, hatred, love, truthfulness, pride and honour found among them. As a people they tend to be rather richly-dressed by my standards, wearing robes and pantaloons of fine linens and cotton, and fine shoes, boots or sandals on their feet.
What does set the human citizens of Nastoreth apart from their brethren of other lands is their incredible deference towards those in positions of authority. During my stay in Naxaloth I noticed that, whenever a person of magical or clerical power walked the streets, all commoners, no matter what they were doing, immediately knelt, bowing their heads low, until the person passed out of sight. Whenever such an honoured person spoke to a commoner, which happened but rarely, the kneeling citizen liberally added all sorts of blessings and honorifics to whatever he or she said. At least, this is what I have been told by the person who translated for me.
When I asked one local why such acts of submission were committed, she looked askance at me, and stated that those born with the gift for magic were “like unto Immortals in themselves, though not quite so exalted as the Allking, long may He rule.” Those who are common-born are not seen as worthy of gazing upon such blessed beings, it seems. The people of Naxaloth, at least, take these things very seriously - any commoner who speaks to one of the elite unbidden has their tongue cut out. I will not say what the penalty is for daring to touch any member of the elite.
In other respects, the people of Nastoreth are much like those anywhere else. They have their celebrations, their legends, and their faith. The people here worship the Allking, the ruler of this kingdom, who is said to be an Immortal of great power. Whenever it is announced that the Allking will tour a neighbourhood, all the streets in that area are quickly swept, which I found odd, for Naxaloth, as far as cities go, is incredibly clean. Also, everyone in the area prostrates themselves, while lesser clerics leading the Allking’s procession utter chants in praise of him. I hid behind a building just as one such procession passed by, and I was able to glimpse the ruler of Nastoreth as his floating palanquin passed. If he were to stand, the Allking would be of average height, though I could not tell what he looked like, for he wore a mask or purest platinum, and his rich robes concealed his form. He said nothing, but in my mind I heard the purest voice; if it could be seen, the Allking’s voice would surely be of the purest gold in colour. That voice said that all was well in Nastoreth, and that the Allking was pleased. Once the procession passed and was out of sight, people got about their business once again, but very quietly.
One thing that does stand out among the denizens of Nastoreth is the other component of the population - the lizard men. All of the spellcasters of Naxaloth, and there are quite a few, have a personal entourage of burly lizard man guards - great hulking brutes who gaze down their snouts at the commoners around them. These guards would not think twice, I am told, about thrashing a commoner for violating their masters’ personal space, or for any other reason. The city guard of Naxaloth is also composed of lizard men, who patrol the streets and the city walls, watching for anything that might harm the city of the Allking.
Aside from obviously serving as a sort of warrior caste within Nastorethian society, the lizard men are also citizens just like their human neighbours. It is not unusual to see lizard man shopkeepers or merchants, for example, all dressed the same way as the humans. I myself made the acquaintance of several prosperous lizard man merchants in Naxaloth, and they were very kind and courteous. These, then, are my impressions from staying within the city of Naxaloth. I did not have the opportunity to see much of the countryside, and so any information on those areas is derived from that which was told to me.
The history of Nastoreth is largely shrouded in mystery and legend. Fragmentary tales tell of a great empire, known as Varellya, which existed far to the southeast. The tales say that this empire was vast, and it subjugated many peoples, but towards its dying days it was riven with internal conflicts, which ultimately spelled its doom.
It was in these dying days, some 600 years ago, that the ancestors of the human population of Nastoreth set sail for new lands. After many months they came upon the secluded valley by the sea that Nastoreth occupies today. Within its borders lived many tribes of lizard men, who viewed the newcomers with both curiosity and fear. The leader of those refugees, the man who would become the Allking, met with the tribal chieftains of the lizard men, and worked out an agreement where the refugees could settle along the coast, and build their city, so long as the forests and hills inland remained undisturbed. The new settlement of the Varellyans would also welcome within its walls those lizard men who wished to dwell there, and the people therein would treat them as equals.
Thus, over the centuries, the lizard men of the valley slowly adopted the customs of the Varellyans, as well as their language. In return, the humans respected the spirituality of the lizard men, and treated as taboo those lands that the natives would not venture into, such as the Holy Forest. While all this was happening, the man who became the Allking disappeared for over a century, only to return with the knowledge of the Immortals, and wearing his mask of platinum. He decreed that forevermore he would rule from his city of Naxaloth, and that this new realm, Nastoreth (which apparently means “secluded home” in Varellyan), would be closed to foreigners until he deemed otherwise. He said that foreigners would not understand the deep spirituality of the people of Nastoreth, and that they would try to take advantage of the innocent people. Finally, he declared that the days of every new moon, and of the summer solstice, were holy. No work would be done on those days, and all would worship him as he attended his personal services. Finally, the hills and mountains of Nastoreth were to be settled, and mined.
It was also during this time, apparently, that a caste of wizards and clerics arose. Styling themselves as personal aides of the Allking, they claimed an elite position in society for themselves, second only to the Allking himself. Nastoreth has had no contact with any other nation until now - I believe myself to be the first foreigner within its borders, to witness the alien culture that has developed over several centuries.
There are several sights within the walls of Naxaloth, which recommend themselves to the traveller. First, there is the breathtaking Palace of the Allking. Although it is closed to everyone but the Allking and his attendants, one can still stand outside and marvel at it. Truly it must have been a feat of engineering, for it appears as though the entire structure was made from one piece of obsidian! Legend has it that the Allking was given this palace as a gift by those who gave him his great powers, for it appeared in the middle of the city not long after he returned from his long absence. Regardless, this building is a work of art - its design is so alien, and its angles presenting optical illusions to those who look at it.
Second, there is the city of Naxaloth itself. Filled with lovely architecture, this clean city, with its great walls, sits in its own bay before the Izondian Deep. The streets are laid out like a great wheel, with wide boulevards like spokes stretching outwards towards the city walls, with smaller side-streets connecting them in between. At the hub is the Palace of the Allking, which is surrounded by the various government buildings of the kingdom. I have never seen buildings like those in Naxaloth! Topped with graceful spires, filled with delicate windows, and adorned with statuary, each edifice is like a work of art unto itself.
Another thing worth seeing is the famed Hall of the Elect. The official residence of Nastoreth’s many practitioners of magic, the Hall is almost a palace in itself, surrounded as it is with hedgerows, exotic gardens, bubbling fountains, and softly glowing continual light spells to provide illumination at night.
Finally, there is the Temple of the Allking, where the highest-ranking clerics of Nastoreth pay homage to the ruler. In many ways the Temple is the counterpart to the Hall of the Elect, for it, too, is a veritable palace, and it is surrounded by a high wall, gardens, meditation pools - it is almost a city unto itself!
The one place that should be avoided at all costs is the Holy Forest. Situated at the centre of the kingdom, the Holy Forest is a dark place, filled with tangled trees, hidden bogs, and dangerous undergrowth. By the Allking’s decree, no citizen of Nastoreth, human or lizard man, may set foot within the forest, or cut down any of its trees, under pain of death. This law will also apply to foreigners, I am told. Lizard man legends tell of things of great power within the forest, but of what they are no one knows, save that they are awesome. Although beautiful in its raw aspect, the Holy Forest is best viewed from afar.