(Gardorian, Gardoran, Gardorians)
Gardorian is an ancient land, established about 8,000 PN. However, it was abandoned to evil monsters after Naduum fell.
The land was reclaimed in 740 PN, by Chaiet Blackspear and his Paladin Host.
The Gardorian Isles were initially settled by Skos as a close base for attacking Naduum. Breathtakingly beautiful, mountainous, volcanic, and plagued by frequent earthquakes, the Isles were settled by the Gardor, a clan of dark-skinned Men with pale blue or grey eyes. The Paladins of Gardor flew all manner of feathered beasts into battle with Naduum, from Griffons to Thunderbirds, and their love of Eagles influenced Skosian art for eons to come.
When Naduum fell, the Isles were overrun with evil monsters fleeing the destruction. The Gardorians had no choice but to flee, and for thousands of years, the beautiful Isles were home only to dangerous and evil monsters.
The Gardorians scattered across the globe, settling colonies in many far lands. (Hold Dane and Holdfast being two of them; there are others). Many settled in New Skos, and there aided that nation in their long fight against evil.
In 801 PN, a young Chaiet Blackspear was shipwrecked on the Isles, and found while they were still overrun by monsters, many slain each other over the long centuries, and only the Great Wyrm Melcuulafrax and his mate Lyssareem now ruled the islands (having slain most of the other ancient evil creatures). Chaiet returned to New Skos, and spent the next forty years gathering all of the scattered people of Gardorian who wished to return to their ancient homeland. In 740, they landed, and Chaiet led a powerful company of Paladins, Rangers, and Clerics of Skylae to do battle with the Wyrms.
The battle with the Dragons was terrible. The silver spears of the Gardorians clashed with the shadows of the dragons. Chaiet slew the Umbral dragons, but nine of his company were killed, and the rest badly hurt. The survivors returned to the new colony, and used the wealth of the Dragon's hoards to resettle the islands.
All seven islands are steeply mountainous and occasionally volcanic. The main island is the most heavily settled, while the smaller islands are almost uninhabitable due to eruptions, earthquakes, and remaining dangerous creatures. The southermost islands is a single immense volcano called Merkuul.
The height of the land means that each island often has more than one type of terrain, ascending from the warm, sea-breeze beaches of black volcanic sand, up the steep mountainsides, through jungle, into temperate forest, and finally cold at the volcanic peaks. Steep valleys are home to rain forest and long, narrow swamps. Thousands of waterfalls adorn the islands.
So close to the equator, Gardorian has only two seaons, rainy and dry.
The sea is a highway to the Gardorians, and a steady source of food.
The Isles are about 450 miles from the north island to the south, and only about 70 miles wide at the widest point of the main island.
Once the Men of Gardorian all had dark skin the color of ebony wood, but after the diaspora, there are a range of skin colors among the people. Most are still dark in tone, a walnut or teak color being common. Light eyes are common - very pale blue, grey, green, amber, and violet are usual. Dark eyes are almost unknown.
It is said that once, Gardorians had black eyes, but when they settled the Isles and drank of the waters, they came to follow Skylae, and their eyes were transformed to pale colors.
Spears of all types are the common weapon here, and every Gardorian has his own spear upon reaching adulthood.
Gardorian clans are tight-knit groups of extended patriarchal families. Young Gardorian men may not select a wife from within the clan, and must win them from neighboring clans, or even clans from other islands. Usually this is performed by a successful hunt, the bounty of which is shared with the wife-to-be's tribe, or through slaying a dangerous monster which threatens everyone, something which the islands have plenty of. The clans survive through hunting, fishing, and herding, as the land is not suited to much agriculture. There are more than five hundred clans scattered across the islands.
A society established and maintained by Paladins of Skylae, the clans have a few, simple laws they believe were given to them by Skylae herself. They keep to their laws, and are bound to help each other, to help any folk in need, and to fight evil with all their strength. The whole society are effectively monotheistic Skylae followers.
Gardorian has always been led by a Paladin or Cleric of Skylae. Their culture is a benevolent theocracy. Leaders are chosen through Augury or consultation with Skylae's celestials.
They see themselves as an entire people dedicated to the divine service of Skylae, and the opposition of evil.
Clothing is usually white, and quite light, and always with a feather or bird-of-prey motif. Silver and gold are common ornaments (the islands are rich in both). Men wear short kilts and sleeveless tunics, women short skirts and halter tops. Both sexes usually wear sandals and bracers.
Western is the common tongue, though many folk speak Arcane Skosian as well. High Valean is learned by travelers and traders.
Because the Diaspora spread the Gardorians around the world, and then gathered them here, most languages would at least be known to academics, though not spoken by the common people.
The people of Gardorian worship Skylae almost to exclusion. Some folk may worship a second god on a clan-by-clan basis, but the society as a whole is devoted to her.
Gardorians do not build temples. They feel as if the sky itself is Skylae's temple, so as long as they are under the sky, they are under her wings.
The most important religious figure in Gardorian is Chaiet Blackspear, or the current ruler, Kanno Blackspear (his descendant).
Gardorian is governed by a theocratic monarchy, with the new ruler chosen by Augury or consultation with Skylae's celestials. The ruler's title is Magnate of the Isles.
The Patriarch of the local clan handles local issues, along with Priests or Paladins of Skylae.
Gardorian has ties with Sarmatti, and an ancient alliance with New Skos. They are on friendly terms with Syrenia, but not actual allies. Of course, Gardorian will help any good people who require aid.
They are foes to any children of Naduum, or those who would do evil.
Every clan musters a complement of warriors. Every ten trained warriors is called a 'spear' (for the spear is the common weapon of every Gardorian); Ten spears, a Phalanx. Five Phalanxes make up a Crusade, which Gardorian can field fifty or more.
The Gardorian army is organized into Crusades, each Crusade being about five hundred soldiers. Heavily augmented with Paladin Champions and Clerics, the army is quite formidable on the ground, especially in rugged or broken terrain. In the air, they are supported by Thunderbirds, Eagles, and other flying creatures, some of which serve as mounts to the heroes of Gardorian.
Many Gardorians are comfortable in small craft. They have thousands of outrigger canoes and catamarans, which are respectable ocean-going craft in the hands of skilled sailors. However, they lack a war-fleet of large ships.
The Magnate formally commands the crusades, though he cannot be with every army, and often appoints a Prophet to lead in Skylae's name.
Arcane magic is the province of only ten clans, who train all the wizards of Gardorian. Each specializes in a school of magic, and as they live near one another, students may travel from clan to clan to learn. All Wizards of Gardorian place their skills at the service of the Magnate once they gain enough power to be useful.
Divine magic is extremely common. Every clan has Clerics of Paladins of Skylae, and many common folk are adepts. They say something in the waters of the Isles make the folk here especially in tune with the divine.
The terrain of the Isles and the structure of the clans does not encourage large settlements. The only 'city' is Cheylahn; really the home of the Magnate and his court. The city overlooks the ocean from a top a seven hundred foot cliff.
There are hundreds of modest villages around Gardorian; most are modest, white-stone houses with wooden walls.
There are only humans on the islands as long-term residents. Other races are not forbidden, but the strong culture of the close-knit islanders has prevented much interbreeding with other races and the clan system, while welcoming and kind to visitors, does not encourage outsiders to become Gardorians.
Paladins, Clerics, Adepts, and other divine classes are very common. Rangers too abound, as the islands are dangerous places with much large game to hunt or defend against. Wizards exist but are not numerous. Other classes can be found, but Summoners are completely unknown.