Apr 23

Beastheads

The beastheads inhabit the land to the south of the Sea of Turfrae. There are three kinds: the cattleheads, who are herders of cattle, horses, goats and sheep, sometimes nomadic but often in fixed pasturelands; the dogheads, who are farmers and occasionally fishers; and the catheads, who are hunters, messengers and warriors, helping to protect the settlements of the other two kinds and the camps of the nomadic cattleheads.

The whole society was designed by a team of elves led by Kulendal, a Mengele-like experimenter who was also responsible for Breeze Ashgrove and Wave Rocky Islet's peoples.

Beasthead society is largely peaceful and stable, thanks to the code known as vel. Vel is not just a set of laws, but a way of life and behaviour covering every aspect of being a beasthead. The advent of the "flatfaces" from Denning and Koskant threatens to disrupt vel, and provokes intense debate over what it is and is not and whether it can adapt to new circumstances.

The beastheads were created to renew land damaged in an ancient war, again guided by vel and the lifemagic the elves imparted to them. They have been doing this ever since Empire times, slowly moving westwards. They were also expected to supply food to the Isle of Turfrae when it was the imperial capital, and continued to do so even after it was taken over by humans, though the trade stopped for a while as the human population of Turfrae diminished to the point where the island became self-sufficient. More recently, with the foundation of the College of Ancient Turfrae and the westward expansion of the beastheads, trade has resumed, not without tensions with the Human Purity movement based on Turfrae.

The beastheads are not usually animalistic, but under great stress they can enter a state known as och, in which the mind of the beast becomes dominant. Those who are unable to control their och are exiled.

Beastheads oathbind only to their own kind (cattlehead, doghead or cathead), since the three kinds are not interfertile. Inevitably, couples do form between members of different kinds, but it is socially frowned upon as not in accordance with vel. The word for such a couple is charha, and it is considered a term of contempt. Other kinds of unions which cannot be fertile are also called charha (such as same-sex couples). Couples of the same kind who happen not to be fertile are not considered charha, but pitied as unable to fulfill a part of their vel, namely the raising of children.

The beastheads do not have any gnomes or dwarves among them (the land has no mineral deposits to speak of), and do not work metal themselves, so they eagerly trade for metal tools. Their own tools are made from hardened wood, stone, or a kind of ceramic worked by magic so that it will take an edge and not shatter easily.

Apr 23

Snakemouth

Village at the mouth of the Snake River, where it meets the Sea of Turfrae. The clan head there is Sand.

Site of the landing by Tenacious Blackbluff during the Unification War. The few catheads in the village, after killing or disabling a number of the enemy, were killed by rifle fire, and the doghead villagers withdrew into the forest after a failed attempt to repel the superior, and better-armed, force. Without the intervention of the two Gryphon skyboats posted at Snakeport, they would have fared much worse.

Mar 02

Realm Benefit Party

The so-called Realm Benefit Party was the political expression of the Human Purity philosophy, led by Admirable Silverstones, Countygold of Upper Hills. It was banned after the Unification War because of its treasonous activities.

The Reversionist Party consists of those members of the RBP who managed to escape conviction for treason.

The enforcers of the RBP were the Special Security Group, large men who wore dark-grey coats down to their shins and (in the period before open war) carried long wooden staves. Dark grey was the colour of RBP uniforms (though many troops wore only brassards).

The RBP flag was bright red, with a white circle to symbolise purity.

Mar 02

Patience

Countygold of Southern Shore, a poised woman in her late 30s whose legs are replaced with a steam-powered walking machine. She is a former Realmgold's Agent who lost her limbs protecting the Realmgold before her accession to the demesne. A dead shot with a rifle.

She was at school with Victory, a few years ahead of her.

Mar 02

Isle of Turfrae

Former seat of the Elven Empire, the Isle of Turfrae now hosts the university known as the College of Ancient Turfrae. Most of the city that formerly covered the island is deserted and overgrown, including many of the villas owned by high-ranking elves. The university, and the town that serves it, occupy only the harbour area. However, this was the city centre in Empire times, and most of the great historic buildings that played important roles in the Imperial government are now part of the university campus.

The Code of Willing was proclaimed in the marketplace of Turfrae.

Some of the plants and animals on the island are products of elven lifemagic; a few of them are dangerous.

The Isle is located in the Inland Sea. It is not part of any realm, and is governed by the University Council. Any attempt by nearby realms (that is, by Koslin) to dominate it politically would be seen as a sign of imperial ambitions, so there's a tightrope to walk when exerting influence on the Council, for example, to oppose Human Purity tendencies at the university.

Mar 02

Inland Sea

The Inland Sea lies between the Dubious Fens (home of Lizard People) to the north, the Beasthead Country to the south, Denning to the west and the Great Green to the east. Somewhat west of the middle is the Isle of Turfrae. The Sea is fed by several rivers including the Snake River, and drained by the River Koslin. Lakeside Koslin, capital of Denning until Unification, is on its western shore.

Jan 08

Determined

Determined to Triumph Over Adversity Stonygates, Realmgold of Denning, elected as a compromise candidate on the sudden accidental death of his uncle (horses and wine were involved).

Formerly a student of history at the College of Ancient Turfrae. Also holds mage-minor rank in mindmagic, and has studied law and government. Particular interest in the Code of Willing. He is slight, bookish and pale.

Great-great-grandmother: Prudence, who put the Provincegolds in charge of collecting and reporting the realmtax.

Another predecessor, Realmgold Might, swore an oath with her faithful maid Waterspring which served as the model for Reliable's oath to Determined.

Through his oathbond to Victory, becomes co-Realmgold of the United Realm of Koslin.

Personal seal: a pelican.

His personal Gryphon pilot's name is Brightness.

Jan 08

Denning

Realm to the north-west of the Koslin River. Combined with Koskant into the new realm of Koslin at Unification by its Realmgold, Determined.

Compared to Koskant, it is a backward realm, in which the people are poorly educated and not generally prosperous, and generations of weak central government have resulted in Localgolds becoming effectively robber barons.

It has six provinces (see Provincegolds), and more than 90 counties.

The seal is a spreading tree.

Jan 08

Courageous

Captain in charge of the military presence in the lands of the beastheads. He personally led the relief of Snakemouth.

No longer a young man, but fit, and insists on fitness in his troops.

Jan 08

College of Ancient Turfrae

Established relatively recently on the Isle of Turfrae, the former site of the capital of the Elven Empire (the "ancient" in the title technically qualifies "Turfrae" and not the college). The College mainly serves Denning, though students do go there from Koskant and even further afield. Most educated Denningers are graduates, including practically all of the Gold class. Both Admirable Silverstones and Determined attended, at around the same time.

Ancient Turfrae was the centre of the Human Purity ideology. After the Unification War, the Realmgolds Victory and Determined had words with the faculty about this.

Tenacious Northriver's abortive attack on the beastheads was launched from Turfrae, and most of his troops were students. Those who survived and were captured were offered the opportunity of becoming Gryphon Clerks, and many accepted.