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STONEWALL (Kingdom of)
Location: Ledge wedged between the Kerothar Mountain Range and the west central rim of the floating continent of Alphatia, south of Limn and north of Stoutfellow. HW
Area: 15,963 sq. mi. (41,345 sq. km.).
Population: 1,200,000 Including Draco (pop. 450,000), Rustus (pop. 12,500), and Tarazif (pop. 10,000).
Languages: Alphatian (Dracos dialect)
Coinage: Alphatian Standard: crown (gp), mirror (sp), judge (cp). Stonewall mints no other coins.
Taxes: 15% income tax on everyone of servant status or higher. Slaves are counted as the property of the owner and the product of their labour is taxed as income for the owner.
Government Type: Monarchy, member of the Alphatian Empire.
Important Figures: Koblan Dracodon (King).
Flora and Fauna: See Alphatia.
Further Reading: Dawn of the Emperors boxed set, previous almanacs.
Description by Khostrubel the Forthright.
The lands of Stonewall are small in size, fairly rugged, but are lush and fertile. Three short but bountiful rivers, and many smaller streams and brooks, run off the western Kerothar Mountains, making the land productive. The city of Draco lies on the banks of the southern river, Lardrook, while the smaller but once-vibrant towns of Rustus and Tarazif lie at the mouths of Rivers Wisalia and Lancet respectively. All these communities were once vital ports, importing and exporting goods throughout the empire, but they, like the rest of the kingdom, have fallen upon hard times of late. Also, though the land is productive, many more people have chosen to live in Stonewall than our own agriculture can support. Stonewall thus had been dependent upon grain imports, and now that these are unavailable our prosperity has turned to impoverishment.
Mighty Stonewall, this the most glorious kingdom of the Alphatian Empire, centred on Draco, its most glorious and cosmopolitan city, mighty Stonewall's problems have been deliberately ignored by the empire's policies of malign neglect, and the kingdom now faces famine and starvation. But mighty Stonewall, because of the very people that bring it strength and cause the rest of Alphatia to disdain or ignore us, will overcome its troubles and triumph.
For what is it that makes Draco the true vanguard of Alphatian society? What is it that gives Stonewall glory and distinguishes it in relation to the rest of the empire? It is its people. In Greenspur they deem unequal laws enforced fairly to be a sign of the superiority of their nation. In other kingdoms they believe their art makes them great, as is the case in Haven and Ambur. Some display to all who visit their brilliant towering spires built by magic in an attempt to prove their greatness, as in fallen Sundsvall or rising Andaire or other capitals of Alphatian kingdoms, while others point to whimsical magical enchantments as examples of their achievements. Still more kingdoms throughout Alphatia point to the disciplined servitude of their subordinated classes and the cowed acceptance of the lower classes of their social position as of proof of their society's magnificence, each believing their means of achieving such social stability through submissiveness makes them distinct.
But none of this can truly match the crowning achievement of cultural freedom and harmony that is Stonewall. Vivid displays of magical might, of artistry, or of servility cannot approach the majesty of Stonewall, humble in appearance but glorious in substance. For alone in all the empire, in Stonewall all are considered worthy of respect, as all save slaves are equal in the eyes of the law. Perhaps this is because in Stonewall alone of all the empire, people revere the Immortals as powers higher than themselves, not just viewing Them as more accomplished wizards. Because even the most powerful sorcerers of Stonewall acknowledge a power greater than themselves, this infuses us with a humility that allows us to see each member of our society as worthy of respect. We are not so exalted in our own eyes as to think ourselves so far above even those who lack the talent for spellcasting, nor so arrogant as to see ourselves as the final arbitrators of what is right and wrong for them.
Thus, though we are not so foolish as to believe that people are equal in fact, we believe that it is right for all to be treated equally before the law, and given their due, because even non-spellcasting members of society can make great contributions to it. Thus no one, even these, should have legal fetters placed upon their opportunities to develop their skills, whatever they may be, and make their contribution.
It is true that there are some visionary exceptions throughout Alphatia that hold views similar to this, but they are in a distinct minority among the aristocracy. Only in Stonewall does this philosophy of equality before the law and equality of opportunity hold sway throughout an entire kingdom. Thus, only spellcasters who agree with the philosophy of Draco, the founder of our kingdom, choose to live here, and unfortunately they are few.
In spite of this relative lack of spellcasters among us, a circumstance that most Alphatian aristocrats would consider a grave handicap, we have built a kingdom greater than all others. Our kingdom is the smallest in size in all of Alphatia, cut off from the rest of the empire by a long mountain range, and yet it has attracted to it the most enterprising and venturesome of Alphatia's people. Many of those who live in Stonewall, or their parents or ancestors, travelled far to get here. Some even, or so it is said, were willing to risk the dangers of leaving their masters just so they could try to immigrate to Stonewall, seeking the opportunity provided by our social philosophy.
As a result, the great and mighty city of Draco grew to be the most populous in Alphatia. While other great Alphatian cities, such as Haven and Sundsvall, were impressive in appearance, ours was built upon a humble reverence for the Immortals and for the abilities of the kingdom's people. Many Alphatians, who in my opinion fail to understand the vitality of Stonewall, see our city as a blight, an overcrowded teeming welter of humanity, where the people do not have proper respect for those above their station. Thus they see us as not much better than the barbarian foreigners. But that is because they miss what makes us great.
What makes us great is the very bustling populace they denigrate. For the people of Stonewall do have respect, respect for ability and accomplishment, not blind subservience ingrained by centuries of submission. Our communities are cosmopolitan and open to innovation. We have freedom for all, and thus also social harmony and cohesion which other kingdoms can only achieve by coercion or enforcing an unthinking acceptance of the social order by the lower classes.
It is perhaps because of the example we set that so many who do not wish to change have seen Stonewall as a threat, and wished to see us laid low. Some, during the Great War, even thought our kingdom potential traitors, because we have seen the Thyatians as foes we could respect, not as enemies to despise. Perhaps some thought we identified with them, but such persons forget that we are proud Alphatians, too, and though we may respect the tenacity of foreign barbarians, we do not see them as equals in civilised society. But simply because we respected, rather than scorned them, and were not sure that that war was the right policy, many became suspicious our loyalty to the cause. But Stonewallers are always faithfully loyal to the empire, even now when the empire allows us to starve, we do not violate our bound-bound duty to serve it.
But now we languish and suffer. For, while many Alphatian kingdoms have experienced transitional difficulties of late, it is clear that most Alphatians would prefer to pretend we do not exist or, at worst, wish to see us scoured off the continent. Thus the empire intervened by sending ships to interpose themselves between Bettellyn and Randel last year, in a minor matter, but has not lifted a finger to organise a famine relief effort.
Because of this, many Stonewallers have, reluctantly, with sorrow and trepidation in their hearts, emigrated to other kingdoms. But the people of Stonewall have not degenerated into a riotous mob. There have been a few minor incidents, and King Koblan Dracodon has had to step up the patrols of the Watch and Guard in Draco, but overall the people have been remarkably unified and placid even in the face of starvation.
This is perhaps because of the trust they have in the leadership of our king, who has worked to resolve this crisis even in trying circumstances. Forces have been sent to conquer the distant and fertile lands of Arkan, in prelude to a colonisation effort that will alleviate problems here and allow us access to the food we need to survive. Some in the empire are outraged and would see this effort fail, even as they are indifferent to our challenges, but since we are faced with victory or starvation they will see just how determined we can be if they attempt to stand in our way. Many think that because Stonewall has fewer spellcasters that means we are magically, and by extension militarily, inferior. But they have not faced us, and do not know. We fought at the forefront, more so than the prideful Randel did, against the magically inferior Thyatians, and learned enough from that experience not only to respect their abilities but to use tactics efficiently against those who think magic is the same as military might. We do or die, literally. We will win.
Draco is the proud capital of mighty Stonewall. It is a city built by skilful architecture rather than by magic, built for and by common people instead of aristocrats. Yes, there are a number of wizard-created towers and spires in Draco built in the style of other Alphatian cities. Draco spans both banks of River Lardrook, with the king's palace and other main governmental buildings set upon an island in the midst of the river. Soaring bridges connect the island to both halves of the city, and still more bridges connect the two banks to each other. The bulk of the population lives on the city's southern bank, but over a third live in Draco's north bank. The city of Draco has more temples and shrines per capita than any other city in Alphatia, as Stonewall is more religious than other Alphatian kingdoms. While these temples are not as large and do not soar as high as the cathedrals of Bettellyn, they are elegant, of exquisite proportion, and built to exalt the Immortals rather than to exalt the builders in the eyes of the Immortals. Draco, once bustling with enterprise, is now in a sad state. Though the buildings remain well maintained and there has not been many food riots or looting, the vitality seems to have drained away. Many have left, searching for sustenance in other kingdoms, and those who remain are now grimly determined where before they were optimistically enterprising. The streets are filled with men and women in military uniform, as well. Some of these are to guard against the possibility of unrest, but most have volunteered to serve in the kingdom's military, to take what the empire refused to give but which we need to survive.
Within the city are many fighting schools dedicated to teaching arms and educating students in the arts of war. Most of these are small facilities operated by famed but retired fighters who devote personal attention to the teaching of their students, but the foremost is the Draconia Guards Training Facility, a royal academy that has been operating for over three centuries and schools the most elite soldiers of Stonewall's armies. It has classrooms on the Royal Isle, and training grounds just outside the northern walls of Draco. It is said that there are also schools for the training of rogues (and even assassins) within Draco, but these facilities operate clandestinely.
As I mentioned before, there are many temples and shrines within Draco. The most revered of these is the Gloriam, the largest temple of Razud in Draco, situated at the north bank of Draco. It is surmounted by a beautiful dome built over a hexagonal base, with a long nave at the northern end of the structure. It was built not with magic, but by the skilful hands of Razud's believers. I must also make mention of my own temple, the Mighty Shrine of Bemarris, a smaller but no less beautiful temple, surrounded by white marble pillars. The importance of the temples of Draco in serving the spiritual needs of the people of Stonewall cannot be underestimated, but in recent years they have also served a materiel need as well. The more accomplished priests, highest in the esteem of their Immortals, have been able to create food to help alleviate the famine. These efforts indeed helped stave off the crisis for many years, supplementing grain stores, but it could not prevent the crisis from coming. Still, had the empire responded to the impending crisis, this delay would have provided sufficient time for a more permanent solution to be implemented. But it was ignored until it was almost too late, and now we act on our own behalf.