Benevis

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The Kingdoms of Benevis

The Kingdoms of Benevis are a collection of kingdoms to the north of the Eber Empire and Yrtkuam, and west of the Oolu Empire and the Ybvabira Kingdom. Benevis constitutes four main kingdoms and several smaller states. The Vastin, Arkein, and Margon kingdoms are on the mainland, east to west and the Umberian Kingdom is on a large island off the northern coast of Margon and Arkein. North of Umberia is Granland, a state ruled by a lesser king, and Regyland -- southeast of Umberia -- runs in much the same way. South of the Vastin Kingdom and north of Yrtkuam are two large groups of tribes, the Envou and Haramys tribes.

Land and People

Benevis's inhabitants are mostly humans descended from Umberia, but the Vastin Kingdom -- the western-most kingdom, which sits on the border between several foreign kingdoms and empires -- contains a much wider variety of ethnicities. Benevans tend to regard other races as inferior.

It's a land rich in resources of many kinds; mountain ranges, temperate forests, coastal regions, warm and cold hills, and deserts make up much of the land. The larger mountain ranges in Benevis are known for earthquakes and sometimes volcanoes. Flooding sometimes occurs on the far eastern end of Margon. Due to the heavily populated cities and abundance of agricultural areas, vermin are a huge pest in Benevis.

The long mountain range that passes through the Margon and Arkein Kingdoms and eventually the Vastin Kingdom is considered quite unstable; earthquakes are sometimes a regular occurrence and there are several volcanoes that are considered active. Summers see mostly mild, pleasant weather, with southern Benevis growing hot and most of Umberia experiencing fairly cool weather. Summer winds mostly pass down into Baracsa from Benevis, while the Sea of Lyte is pleasant and Umberia suffers strong winds from the western ocean. Winters see Umberia mostly covered in snow, while the rest of the kingdoms receives warmer winds from across the Sea of Lyte from Baracsa, keeping the temperatures on the south side of the great ranges fairly ideal. Due to the arrangement of mountains, Benevis experiences mostly stillness and coolness during winter, rather than snow or strong winds.

Religion

Most of the people of Benevis follow the Temple and worship the Child God. It's a religion which centres around the idea of either being blessed or cursed by any one of the gods of the Temple and these deities are often worshipped through prayer and offering. Both types of worship are usually done in church buildings, which are also very common all through Benevis, and tapestries and statues are also often hung or carved to attract blessings and repel curses -- tapestries for poorer folk and statues for richer folk. The Temple looks down on the few who adopt foreign religions, most of which are very rare except for the more south-eastern cultures who have adopted some of the Eber beliefs. Reading omens in the heavens is considered one of the main aspects of this religion, and to do so in the presence of anyone who follows the Temple is regarded to be extremely foolish and offensive.

Politics

Benevis is a land which, with the exception of the tribal groups to the southeast, runs on a monarchical feudal system with four levels: The king, the lords, paladins, and peasants. The king is a single man who has the final say in issues relating to his kingdom. His land is divided up into lordlands, each ruled by a lord, who is like the king of his own land. The lordland is in turn divided up into smaller areas -- called districts, regions, or provinces -- and these are ruled by warrior governors called paladins. The paladins have peasants of various positions under their service and the peasants offer their services to the paladins in return for protection from the paladin and lord above them. Peasants may be knights, soldiers, farmers, merchants, or almost anything else.

Rank is achieved mostly through relations. A peasant who offers services which get the attention and favour of their paladin may find their efforts rewarded, though one can not become a paladin without first serving as a soldier, then a knight, and then further upward through the ranks. Because of this innate favouritism, Benevis suffers from many internal political conflicts and disputes often arise about who deserves what, who should own what land, and who is loyal to whom. Often, the law wins out through military strength; whoever can forcefully back up their own rights will become the victor, though wars are only mildly common. Because of the amount of political effort and internal military focus required to sustain Benevan societies, foreign relations are often average at best, though few neighbours have any want to attack because of the sheer strength and number of Benevans who may suddenly unite against a common enemy.

Culture

The key feature in Benevis is that peasants conform to the will of their paladins, paladins conform to their lords, lords do what the king says, and everybody worships the Child God. Though often internally divided, there are actually very little distinct cultural differences, overall, between the kingdoms of Benevis. They often drink and eat more than is necessary as a form of celebration, often with music and dance. Large gatherings are common between peasants, and the rich tend to focus on expensive food and drink as a form of luxury and leisure activity. Peasants will often simply drink alcohol to celebrate rather than eat, as food can be scarce at times.

Paladins are almost always seen as people to be admired immensely because, while the lords, kings, and other royalty and nobility are rarely seen, paladins are often seen and interacted with; they are a sort of social governor-knight of great reputation. In times of war, often the reputation of the leading or involved paladins alone can decide whether or not the war will continue.

Benevans discriminate mostly against other races or ethnicities; uniformity is key and anybody who looks different must also be different. This results in conflicts in areas where ethnicity is less clearly Benevan, especially in the east and south. Because of the amount of focus and resources that go into trying to maintain peace and uniformity, the very poor or vulnerable are often exploited by the greedy, selfish, and damaged members of society. Crime is rampant in some more heavily populated areas, though even in remote villages the Benevan attitude can penetrate and overrun the simplistic lifestyle.

Military

Because of the resource-rich mountains, constant need for armed and armoured men, and unending drive to succeed, Benevis is known by its neighbours as a land of iron and steel. Plate armour, chainmail, and steel weapons are common throughout most of the kingdoms. Their strength is through the use of huge numbers of infantry, archers, and cavalry in fairly reasonable distribution. Benevis heavy cavalry are widely feared and said to be extremely dangerous in battle. Mages are very uncommon in battle because there is no form of training that prepares mages for war. Naval warfare is common mostly in the Sea of Lyte, Ellecil Channel, and Umber Bay, though this normally occurs between the kingdoms or lordlands of Benevis and not between Benevis and foreigners.

Recruiting is mainly done through obligatory conscription through the feudal system; many peasants are offered the option to serve their paladin by becoming a soldier for a certain time of year, while they are free to tend farms or partake in other activities with the rest of their time. Worthy soldiers are offered a chance to take vows to become a knight or a paladin and enter long-term service. From there, the path of advancement is: forthand, fortknight, castar, and then paladin. Some knights may also be selected by the king or offered by a paladin as a gift to become a palasar -- guardians of the residencies of kings or lords. Volunteering as a soldier is also an option and this is mainly utilised when under foreign threat. As stated, promotions are often given according to personal performance.

Soldiers are primarily used for maintaining political control of regions; a paladin who has armed men patrolling his cities and lands is more likely to discover his enemies and more likely to hold the law. As a result, richer regions often have more soldiers and, consequential to the amount of competition and resources available, more crime.

Magic

Magic is treated as a tool to be utilised by Benevans. It is taught in Institutes in large cities and anybody who passes the teachings can offer their services as a mage for hire. They are mostly used for small jobs where something extraordinary is required, though mercenary bands of mages are sometimes formed. Though the teachings of magic rarely result in mages performing outstanding feats, Benevans are proud of their having conquered magic and their ability to use it in their lives, despite a very small percent of the population being able to use magic at all. Despite generations of study, they do not know how to enchant items.

Economy

Benevies varies widely in its exports and imports: the Vastin Kingdom mainly exports metals and imports food, the Arkein Kingdom mainly exports food and imports textiles, the Margon Kingdom mainly exports stone and minerals and imports livestock and food, and the Umberian Kingdom mainly exports livestock and textiles and imports metals. Despite all the trading in Benevis, resources are still quite abundant, and much of the trading done is to build relationships or out of obligation and to create a moving economy; self-sufficiency is seen as too non-conformist for most Benevans. Most of the wealth ends up in the hands of the middle and upper class folk.

Architecture

Most housing in Benevis consists of small wattle and daub homes with thatch rooving. Peasant homes are often dark and cold, and have small windows, if any at all. Log cabins are the style of choice in more heavily wooded areas. Two-story buildings often have a stone lower floor and wattle and daub or half-timber upper floor. Fireplaces and hearths are common in colder climates such as amidst mountains and the northern end of Benevis.

Gardens often exist insofar as peasants might supply their own homes with some vegetables to eat, if there are no farmers' markets nearby or they are too poor to buy much food. Richer homes and churches often have both vegetable gardens and ornate gardens, the latter of which consists of some large fruit trees, hedges around the border, and a well-controlled spread of foliage amidst paths. Castle courtyards and palace grounds are often sparse for vegetation and might simply have lawn, neat hedges, or rows of small trimmed trees. Paths are made of pavers or cobblestones.

Churches of the Temple are always long stone buildings with a tower on the facade. Fortifications are almost always stone, though temporary wooden structures may be erected during times of conflict. Kings often dwell in ornate palaces built of marble or something similar, and in richer cities stone is a common building material.

History

2500 years ago

1600BD. Sur Vastin.

The Umberian tribes were a large collection of tribes who lived along the south-western shore of the Sea of Lyte. They lived in populous groups near the water and their shared polytheistic pantheon meant that they shared a lot of culture and thus rarely warred. According to the Temple, these tribes first discovered papyrus around 2500 years ago. The discovery of papyrus allowed that particular region of Baracsa to become richer and more cohesive as a people, and through a gradual reformation of their society they became Sur Vastin.

1400-1200BD

The Sur Vastin people suffered unprecedented attacks from the Yrtkuam deserts to the south. From the shimmering dunes came hordes of Karithian warriors, giant goat men who wielded weapons made of bone, stone, and wood. The Sur Vastin suffered heavily but after some years of slaughter, the Karithians withdrew into the scorching deserts again, beyond the reach of humans.

Some hundred or so years later, the Sur Vastin grew ambitious and began to conquer the smaller tribes around the Sea of Lyte, mostly Umberians caught in their old ways. The war-worshipping Esereu people to the southwest observed the Sur Vastins' thirst for land and one man among the Esereu people stood up and elected himself their leader, a god in the flesh, the first recorded king in all the known world. Thus the Evexan Kingdom flourished in mid-western Baracsa around the city of Xar Kzala.

900-700BD. Nor Vastin.

The ambitiousness of the Sur Vastin soon allowed them to construct ships that could sail across more open waters and they ventured north, where they founded an island kingdom which they made the Nor Vastin Kingdom around the city of Arngos.

The city of Arngos became the centre of a new religion as the king, after being visited by a boy whose eyes frequently changed colour and who claimed to be a god, ordered his priests to go to a particular site named by the child. There the priests received visions of mountainous temples and they told the king what they saw on their return. The child had vanished but the king had the temple constructed, and the Temple of the Child God was born.

The Evexan Kingdom saw the seafaring ships of the Sur Vastin around the same time the Evexan had learnt how to create steel. Wielding superior weapons, they conquered the first land of the Sur Vastin people and gained so much territory that they chose multiple kings to rule, with one emperor to govern the kings. This was the start of the Xilou Empire.

700BD. Vesdorians.

Some time after, Karithians emerged from the deep deserts again and attacked the closest people -- the Xilou Empire of mid-eastern Baracsa -- but the Xilou Empire mustered their strength and fought them off, though the Karithians managed to raze several towns and some cities before retreating again. At the same time as this, some of the Sur Vastin who had spread around the Sea of Lyte formed a new large group of people called the Vesdorians.

200BD

The Xilou Empire expanded unstoppably and by 200BD they had taken most of the land around the Sea of Lyte -- including the land once owned by the Vesdorians -- the tropical jungles further south in Baracsa, and south-western Armalia. Meanwhile, the Umberian Kingdom in the north was becoming a stronger, unified, more advanced culture as the years passed.

0 - The Darkness

When Murluron sailed across the world destroying everything in its path, the Yvabiran capital was levelled and the Xilou Empire quickly finished off what was left of Yvabira, claiming yet more land for their empire, which by now had multiple emperors to rule it. The Umberians never encountered Murluron.

150AL. Vastions.

After some hundred years or so, foreigners from the far east brought the science of mathematics to the Umberians, and this revolutionised their culture. They began to build great structures out of wood and stone and they became the Vastion people. This eventually lead to great divides between the people and after several successive kings were overthrown by the people, it entered a state of dividedness.

400AL. Vastins.

Karithians emerged again and strike at the same regions. This time, the Xilou capital happened to be in their path, and the mighty city failed to fight off the Karithians. The capital fell, the Karithians withdrew again, and the Xilou Empire began to crumble as other powers began to attack from all directions at once. It was around this time that the Envou and Haramys tribal groups formed; the split down the middle of the Eber Empire had several groups of Xilou people separated and left them without high society, so many of them headed deep into the southeastern wilderness of Benevis and became these two major tribal groups.

The Vastions had become the Vastins, and they reclaimed the northern and eastern areas around the Sea of Lyte.

~500AL onwards. Benevis Kingdoms.

Unable to agree on how to govern so much land at once, the Umberian, Margon, Arkein, and Vastin Kingdoms were founded in what was collectively known as the Benevis Kingdoms. The jungle tribes in south Baracsa managed to push the Xilou forces back out of the jungle. What was left of the Xilou Empire gathered in mid-western Baracsa and became the Xilein, still claiming they had a right to own all surrounding land, but they were not strong enough to enforce their claim.

Localised histories vary immensely and the number of records increases. See each kingdom's page for their own recent histories.

Locations

Vastin Kingdom

Whitehills Lordland. Home to King Taharial Endoran and Lord Alfress Crewein. Duracia is the capital city of the Kingdom of Vastin.

Midlands Lordland. Home to Lord Daphne Eleusin. Hillcrest is its biggest city and the palace is Silver Hall.

Highlands Lordland. Home to Lord Ezekiel Crewein. Landon is its biggest city and its castle is Skystone.

Old Belynsia Lordland. Abandoned and desolate. Anukafobaia was its biggest city.

Goldlands Lordland. Home to Lord Giovanni Trelinia. Goldstone is its biggest city and its castle is The Crown.

Yaele Lordland. Home to Lord Erechard Xelvamor. Yaele Heights is its biggest city and its castle is Yaele Citadel.

Cape Valley Lordland. Home to Lord Hermond Whilvier. Relaford is its biggest city and its castle is Cape Castle.

Simbea Lordland. Home to Lord Adumus Haydin. Redpalm is its biggest city and its castle is The Claw.

Arkein Kingdom

Cities: Kostarson, Regalkis, Genona, Batorka.

Ferren Lordland.

Margon Kingdom

Cities: Fortria, Alfar, Lyfarvis, Lasarson.

Umberian Kingdom

Cities: Umburn, Graffis.

Granland

Cities: Lomosock, Hadreseen.

Regyland

Cities: Arwharn.

Haramys Tribes

Envou Tribes