Starozemya emerged as a political entity after a decades-long war between the monarchs of Tash-Nisis and Saradon ending in a reluctant peace treaty signed by kunigas Dagomir II and Marten Sumnarun, the twin-king of Saradon.
The treaty, know as the Ivory Bill, split the Starozemnian mark into twin areas of interest, each neighbored by the sovereign territories of the city-states themselves. Outside of the territories, hamlets, villages and small towns band together in small alliances, often pledging tithe to the local nobleman, wizard or mercenary band for protection.
|The Twin-king Sumnarun|
Due to the lack of a single strong ruler, or an uniformed government, Starozemya remains to this day a bastion of inhospitable, ancient forests, large swaths of untamed grassland intertwined with dense wetlands and craggy hills. However, rich soil and an abundance of esoteric materials and minerals(Starmetal and Devils Flake, to name a few) has over the years attracted explorers, scholars and would-be conquerors to this remote and mysterious land.
The forests and wilds of Starozemya are rumored to be some of the oldest in the world and are, accordingly, a home to a large poputaltion of Seelie and unseelie fey. The fair folk occasionally act as protectors of villages alongside the forests. The rangers and druids often have a special rapport with the fey, urging the villagers to offer gifts such as plates of milk and the first honeycomb of the season to pixies and sprites, teaching them how to recognize a dryad’s tree and how to implement simple wards against malicious boggarts and gremlins.
Priests of Titania and Oberon(called ‘mothers’ and ‘fathers’) journey every Frostway(first full moon in the last month of winter) deep into the forests and perform rituals and offer prayers to the Seelie court to ensure the coming of Spring. Some of them never return and it is debated whether the priests stay as lifetime guests at the glades and palaces of the Fairies(the opinion prevalent in rural folklore) or are taken) as prisoners and killed/imprisoned/eaten(the opinion prevalent with urban scholars and naturalists).
|Fairy circle to a woodsman’s tune – Brag Taulsen |
(Palace of Kryom, Tash-Nisis)
Politics and Economy
Starozemya is divided into two areas of influence, one for Saradon, another one for Tash-Nisis. The cities rule much of Starozemya directly, having kunizi and barons reporting(and paying annual tax) to the House of Lords and the twin-king in exchange for tax harmonization and trade rights, as well as military protection.
Life in the cities is fast paced and dangerous. The two capitals are crowded, industrious mercantile centres – Saradon
The areas not subject to the direct rule of the Cities are known as Shires. Being semi independent and mostly keeping to themselves, the towns and villages of the Shires lend to a different way of life than the bustling towns situated along the main roads, riverbanks or atop airship-accessible mountain spires.
The denizens of Shires live humble lives of self-sufficiency. Formal education is eschewed in favor of homeschooling. legends and folklore supersede books and manuals and “hedge” magic is the norm. Shire-folk are usually wary of foreigners but exceptions do exist. Among these are the herbmasters – knowledgeable frontierwomen and men that gather and sell endemic and magical plants mushrooms; hunter-tamers, -hardy explorers that capture and train wild animals and magical beasts and sell them as mounts, fierce guards or pets for bored nobles; and, of course, young women and men with a strong sword arm and a taste for adventure.
Unlike the arid plains of Ostmark and the brackish swamps and bogs of the Vieta, starozemnian soil is rich and fertile. With the occasional help from the druids or the Church of Elan, the wheat and balicorn of Ruslia or Sherhas find their way to the cargo holds of river junks and great airships and get shipped as far as Otseanika, Westmarch and the dwarven cities of the Homerock mountains.
Woodsmen and rangers are especially revered as they serve as guides and protectors for the lumbering colonies that have been pushing their way into the forest in the recent years. The presence of the Fey, as well as other creatures such as wyverns, gorgons and shamechangers, as well as forest-dwelling goblins and gnollkin, makes luberjacking a risky endeavor. The kunizi and private entrepreneurs being more than willing to pay good money for the protection of their workers, the lumbering industry has attracted it’s fair share of sell-swords and adventurers.
Life and Society
Starozemnians, like most bruneiians, share a deep and intricate connection with the world around them. Perhaps even more so, since unlike the industrious and outgoing peoples of Ostmark, or the metropolitan, homogenous citizens of Lubin, starozemnians tend to keep to themselves and have had little to no contact with foreigners over the years. However, after the signing of the Ivory Bill, starozemnians have been eager to catch up with the times