Albia, especially the port of Tunbow, is the biggest trading hub in the known world, being central and well connected by land to its two biggest trading partners, Olvany and Thulm.
Traditionally, the Albian culture favour materials such as wood, bronze, cotton and wool. Intricate carved patterns in wood or stone adorn gathering places or places of worship.
Villages are made of rounded buildings with roofs of thatch. Crannogs and Hill forts, are a defining feature of the marshy landscape and it is normal to find networks of interconnecting Crannogs over the many bogs, rivers and lakes scattering the landscape.
The people here are proud of the land and their heritage; many of them display basic heraldry or wear swathes of cloth in their familial or town colours. The patterns can range from tartans and checks to simple plain stripes or richer patterns like paisley.
Above: Map of Albia. Below: Basic Abian kit ideas.
~ Albia ~
Albia is known for its fertile plains, thick forests and the vast moorland surrounding its many crannog, castles, keeps and townsteads.
As Albia is between Thulm and Olvany, with the port-province of Hythe relatively central globally, it makes a perfect natural trading post and cultural melting pot due to caravans and trade convoys.
Albians from Osmoor and Hythe are highly influenced by their many trading partners. Objects from every corner of Erda can be found as family heirlooms, or even in priceless collections among nobility. Towns, including the capital city, Wallace, have vastly integrated both people and customs from many cultures.
The Findruin Peaks have been a holy place for many centuries. Pilgrims from all over the continent climb to Stan Tor to leave offerings to the seven gods at the Great Circle. There are shrines all over Albia to the patron twin gods Athus and Athal. Speaking of which, offerings have recently increased to the twins, who watch over those who negotiate and trade. Due to this, advocates of Athus and Athal have surmised why dealings have not been going so well for the many trading caravans.
Albians would say they don’t need an advocate to tell them of the caravan problem, however; a vast amount of dealings recently have been falling through and tensions, particularly between Tilisten and Augate have been almost boiling for the best part of twenty years. The knock on effect has been felt across Albia. Although basic food has been plenty thanks to Albia's rich climate, Thulm's well-crafted tools and ore as well as Olvany's herbal medicines have been scarce.
More and more Albians are falling to disease and plague. Infected wounds are not being treated, leaving craftsmen and hunters alike unable to work as sod-moss sets in; a disease which slowly eats away at the flesh and leaves tiny but painful pustules around the wound. Usually, sod-moss is highly treatable with the correct mixture of spices and herbs from the garden-like capital of Olvany, Orissa.
The Political Structure of Albia
Albia is divided into provinces or counties which are ruled by a king or queen they form a parliament together for the entirety of the nation. Under this there is a feudal system and structure which divides land between various nobles in order to manage the assets of province.
Currently, the provinces are at war with one and other. Athus has taken the province of Augate whereas Athal has allied herself with Tilisten. They are currently fighting over Hythe.
In Albia, the native words denoting royal rank are:
- Ri: Immediate rulers. (King, Queen etc.)
- Fo'Ri: Those directly below (Prince, Princess, next in line etc.)
- Flath: Those related to but not immediately in line for the throne.
(Nobles, Vicount, Baroness etc.) This category includes military commanders.
The reigning royal family of Hythe is currently missing, apart from Fo'Ri Ormain, who has been found in the chains of the Cambrian Army.
Feudal System and Political Hierarchy
The feudal system of Albia is known as "The Castes" and promises land and infrastructure in return for fealty on the battlefield to those who gifted responsibility to the nobles below.
Ri & Fo'Ri
Serfs live and tend the land governed by the Knights, whom in turn serve the Flath which ultimately serve the Ri and Fo'Ri.
Current Ri, Fo'Ri and Other Important People.
High Constable: Maria Van Dydd
Field Marshal: Livie Dixon
High Constable: None
Previously: Auran Cambolt
Field Marshal: Sophia Verrain.
Ri: Genevieve and Cynbel
High Constable: Edgar Augustine
Field Marshal: Anise Cox
Ri: Andrew and Amberly
High Constable: Abranir Luthe
Field Marshal: Narsan Vecci
Ri: Aed and Finola (Missing)
Fo'ri: Ormain and Leona (Missing)
High Constable: Evan Eustace (Missing)
Field Marshal: Orbus Dean
Ri: Judoc and Agathe
High Constable: Bradan Gorda
Field Marshal: Cole Dorsey
The Heraldry of Albia
Each province of Albia has it's own shield to mark their individual heritage proudly from one and other.
Hythian heraldry boasts of it's healthy and wealthy ports and seaside trade towns where as Osmoor's shield remains as a reminder of the prowess of their Long-bowmen.
The shields of Tilisten and Augate speak proudly of their home's terrain - Tilisten being full of vast mountain ranges and undulating hills, whereas Augate displays it's crops, championing it's farmers and hardworking everyday people.
Norstow and Sudstow, however, talk of and honour the relationships with their neighbours, Thulm and Olvany.
The nails of Norstow speaks of an ancient war with Thulm over borders and hunting rights, one solved ultimately with three great sacrifices which only legends have dared to define but the shield never lets them forget.
The wheel depicted in Sudstow's banner marks the strength of the trading relationships with Olvany, particularly after previous disagreements with various Albian tribes.
These shields have yet to be seen at play in the recent civil war, as no whole county has dared truly take side with the Cambrian or Verrainian Army, especially considering the implications of choosing one god over another. Though, that may be about to change.
The Importance of Colours in Heraldry
Military heraldry sports a variety of colours and motifs often supporting colours of other armies, provinces or rulers they are allied with.
Recently, the Cambrian Army has been sporting not just their crois guilles, but a dark navy blue in order to try and visually assert dominance over province of Hythe, as dark blue is their signature colour.
Military flags can change depending on the commanding officer's discretion, but province heraldry is vastly harder to change and changes can only be made and approved by the Ri so changes to heraldry are unusual.
Recently, Osmrian flags have been sporting a green border edge in support of the Verrainian Army. This shows Ri Ellian, reigning ruler of Osmoor, has pledged her support to the Verrainian Army.
The Verrainian banner has also undergone a subtle change. A thin line of red surrounds the inner motif as a reminder to all who see it that the people of Albia should be united, and so should the twin gods.
Religion in Albia
Vates are those dedicated to the twin gods, Athus and Athal. They are often dressed in white or cream but also have been known to wear deep greens,blues and reds. Vate are both men and women and come from all walks of life and walk very individual paths. Vate often take on a personal craft; as Athus serves Athal and Athal serves Athus, so Vates serve the community.
Dromen, the highest ranking of Vates, are also responsible for Law and Order and form juries to judge over those who have committed crimes.
There are three ‘ranks’ of Vate: Nua, Vate and Droman which are organised into a Fiodh or ‘Grove’. A Fiodh always has at least one Droman but can have as many Vates and Nua as are needed. The Fiodh work alongside the military to maintain order as well as providing religious and spiritual guidance, and council to those in needs. Fiodh are present across Erda - families, businesses and other orders in Albia and beyond, all look to the Fiodh when in need of guidance.
Leabharlann is the official name for the great Temple-libraries filled with many documents, stories, decisions and all other paperwork dealt with by Vates. The Leabharlann is worked by Vate and overseen by specific Droman. There are small libraries usually in every major town, but “capital” cities often have a great Leabharlann such as Muirghein (Mi-reen) at Tunbow, Hythe and Cloch (Klo-ck) in Foss, Tillisten.
Among the followers of Athus and Athal there are those who not only serve the twin gods, but venerate one above all others - Athus, seen as the god of Justice.
Many of the followers are Vate, and serve justice through whatever means they can best. Some of them preach and walk the land, teaching justice in its pure forms, without good or evil, only what is right and wrong on a much wider scale.
A core of these Vate (and hangers-on) serve time with the military, often acting as moral backbone and fierce fighters in their own right, helping calm the minds of soldiers and as moral compass for the officers.
The Athusian Sect
And deeper again, the most devout followers serve only Athus. Calling themselves the Athusian Sect, they are strong, devout, combat-ready followers of Justice.
They are based from a small chapel that resembles a fortress at the base of one of the holy mountains of Tilisten and are seen to wear a white tabard with a red sash cut across it, for the blood that must sometimes be spilled to maintain purity. They approach this task solemnly and realise that justice must be pursued and wrong must be punished.
With the break of the civil war they act as an almost independent force - while the civil war is not their domain - if some wish to follow the lesser aspects the other gods portray that is for them. So long as justice reigns on the battlefield and off of it, they rarely interfere, but are a mailed fist of retribution when they do.
In times of peace they can be found dispensing justice as is seen fit, often on the orders of Droman, and are proficient at hunting bandits and other miscreants and carrying out predetermined sentences at their discretion.
Fis and Fis Rites
Fis are the wild and wonderful children of Athal. Fis or 'Athal's Fis' are solitary individuals, segregated from Albian society as a child and interned into the care of Athal.
The practice dates back thousands of years, when it is said that incredibly naughty children and criminal youth were punished by being sent alone into the Findruin Peaks to complete near impossible tasks and earn their place with their parents back.
The cries of the lost and scared permeated the sacred forests below, attracting the attention of Athus, Athal and Wyk.
Athus, with his swift and harsh justice, seized the crying children. Having seen what the children had done (stealing, and killing animals needlessly etc.), he was eager to give them straight to Nasni but Wyk and Athal implored him.
Originally, Athus ignored his sister and the child-god and took them straight to Isavollr. He presented them to Nasni upon the lake. Nasni, ever wise, judged that the children were not yet ready for her and something must be done to make them worthy, as this was always the way. This was displeasing to Athus, wanting the axe for the children's necks, he was to fashion sport out of them for their misdeeds and hunt them down. Wyk did not approve but Nasni begrudgingly gave her blessing to the slaughter. Athal was practically powerless against the decision, though a great well of sorrow built up in her and she cried, her tears falling upon deaf ears.
The next evening, the games began. Wyk spurred the children into the forests across Albia, trying to hide them before Athal was let loose, hunting the children. Nasni followed the High-Justicar, ready to take the hands of children now worthy of her.
Nasni and Athus been blind to Athal's tears but Morrgan, Sothaal and Vakosh were not. They had noticed the sudden unrest growing in the towns, encampments and cities and met with her on the Findruin Peaks. Once Athal had explained even the mighty and bloodthirsty Vakosh had bent his head in anger at the callous display before them.
A cry was heard across the forest and a mighty cheer from Athus, having had an axe-man claim the head of the youngest for him, not quick or smart enough to avoid the Justicar's eye and the Lumberjack's axe. Athal wept again, her heart breaking for the dead child and the children who were yet to die. Upon seeing the maiden in such a state, Morrgan, Sothaal and Vakosh each wept one tear. Each tear turned into a magical gem, falling into Athal's skirt. Though they were each mighty, they were unable to overturn the decision of Athus - who's sense of justice ruled the world of consequences.
Athal discarded the gems into her pouch, her heart burning in pain. She couldn't let the hunt continue. She got to her feet, running through the forests to her brother, who hung over a second child, axe raised high.
In her panic, Athal threw herself in front of the child, arms up to protect the little one now sobbing into her skirt. The axe came down, splitting her limbs before he could even react. Athus, shocked, dropped his axe, now stained with the blood of his sister. Athal made no cry, her wounds notting back together, leaving just scars in her flesh.
Athus flew into a rage, berating Athal for endangering her life by his hand - no amount of protest from Athal could stop him. He threw down his axe, grasping her arms with both hands and shaking her, the gems falling out of her pouch. The glittering gems smashed into shards as they fell on Nasni's hard icy veil, sending sparks across the floor. Suprised, Athus questioned Athal, whom explained that they were tears of the others, even Vakosh, who had seen the state but had not the courage to overturn Athus' unfair decision.
Athus, grief stricken at the injury of his sister, now confronted with the others and their judgement of his misdeed, looked to the others in disgrace, handing Athal his axe to allow her to have the final say in his decided punishment. The rest of the gods, apart from Wyk, conceded responsibility: the misdeed was against Athal, they had no right to decide. Athus turned to his sister and Wyk, penitent.
Athal looked to Wyk. Wyk refused to give in, even when violence was threatened against him by all bar Athus.
He demanded to be paid. There was a misdeed against him too. He had demanded the lost children been turned over to him but no one had listened. Athal agreed with Wyk, but also stated that the children should've been given to her so they could make peace with themselves and be worthy of Nasni - not given to Wyk to do with as he pleased. They would never have grown and their souls would've been lost to Nasni, whom they rightly belong to.
Wyk still demanded payment, telling Athal that she should pay for the children, though she had nothing that he wanted. The others stepped in, offering Wyk items from their various collections, bidding him that Athal had already suffered enough today. Wyk accepted the bribes given to him, disclosing the location of a child for each of the 5 bribes.
Athus, still awaiting his judgement, begged Athal to judge him. She gave him two condition of forgiveness - make a boar from the soul Nasni had taken from the child. Nasni, begrudgingly, had to agree, she had given Athus her blessing after all. Athus eagerly agreed, using the bloodied ground from Athal's arms to mold a great boar and bestowed the soul from Nasni into the blood-clay figure. She named it Fis-Boar. She gave Fis-Boar the shards of gem, telling him to give one each to the children in compensation for their pain. It sprang to life, glowing gold with Athal's divine purpose, and upon Athal's command, ran to collect the other hiding children.
Athal then turned to the second condition. She stated that her blood was never to leave the edge of Athus' axe, it would protect those innocent from Athus' wrath and provide a reminder to Athus to remain fair and not get caught up in anger. Athus had no choice but to agree and thus Athal sanctioned Athus' axe.
In more recent days, Fis are not naughty children given to the wilds, but unwanted children given to or infants bore by a Fis.
Fis are usually female and are mostly solitary, though they may live with a partner and caretake for many children, including one of her own - their Fis-in-training.
Fis are the center of many folk-traditions for Albians, including that of Bas-la and Latha-ruten. She is a provider of knowledge to hunters and gatherers, having asked Fis-boar of the best place to find things.
The Fis have the ability to ask Nasni's plans for children over 10 for Bas-la. Latha-Ruten involves her providing tiny bundles of sticks and twigs for families as well as packs of seeds and berries.
The Beginning Fis Rites, The Fis-Boar
and The Sanctioning of Athus' Axe
Fis, As The Traditions Stand
Naughty children have been sent to Fis to learn lessons when they really do something bad. Once the Fis is satisfied with the quality of work and have 'repaid' the damages they made, the Fis sends the children back and they are welcomed happily back into the home.
Each and every Fis carry a stone, a fragment of God's tear, with them at all times: for some it is fixed upon a ring, for others it is fixed into a necklace. It is what Athal and the Fis-boar use to advise the Fis.
Vates have been known to consult and visit the Fis, though they are generally unwelcome in the centre of towns unless their services have been called for.
The Albian Civil War
A huge disagreement between Athus and Athal has resulted in all out war. No one knows the nature of the disagreement except the two, who have declared war upon one and other and is fighting for dominance over the province of Hythe.
Athal has taken Tilisten, one of the two northern provinces where as Athus is commanding the southern province of Augate. Hythe has become a bloodbath and no mans land in the wake of the civil war.
The flag has been split into two separate heraldries, the Croix-Guiles and the Vert Per Saltire. Slowly, the civil war is starting to spill into the province of Osmoor, pushing refugees further into the marshes.
As the theater stands, the front line extends throughout The Straith and into Osmoor. Augrian Forces, lead by The High Constable Cambolt have gone so far as to take the Osmoorian fort at Fenleah and seem to be pushing towards the woods of Finweald.
Tilian forces, meanwhile, are holding Tunbow and pushing pockets of resistance from The Splints. Their commander, Field Marshal Verrain, knows the strategical importance of the islands off of lower eastern Hythe and wishes to secure all of them.
The Vert Per Saltire (top) and
The reigning Ri of Hythe, Aed and Finola, along with the Hythian High Constable, Brecan Leah, have seemingly vanished.
Other members of the royal family, including Fo'Ri Ormain and his younger sister, Fo'Ri Leona are also missing.
This is a devastating blow to the stability of the province, especially it's military forces now run by the young and inexperienced Field Marshal, Orbus Dean.
With the Ri's potential deaths unconfirmed and the inheritors also potentially dead, the Vates of the land have fallen into a state of panic. There is no one eligible enough to inherit the throne, even for a short while, present, though the remaining Flath are scrambling at the chance to snatch some power.
Ormain has since been found in the clutches of the Cambrian Army, though it is unclear
what road the Fo'Ri will take.
Verrain and Cambolt
Cambolt and Verrain weren't always at war with each other, but are now duty bound to fight against each other at the whim of the gods. Athal hand picked Verrain, after Cambolt was commandeered by Athus to lead Augate against his own men. Verrain was glad to serve, given that her previous commanding officer had betrayed their province at the behest of Athus who now threatened Tilisten and everything the pair previously held dear.
Cambolt's betrayal severely damaged moral and the province resorted to conscription of many able men and women without spouses and children to fill the defeated ranks. Verrain has since stormed Tunbow, using the higher ground to speed into the town before Cambolt could lead his regiments uphill to meet them.