Warien; Warienic; Wariens
In 5058 PN Caxton Malory established the systems of Lords, Knights, and Serfs, which became the backbone of Warien's society.
Himself a Stratos of Sarmatti, Caxton realized that Sarmatti would be fighting a desperately long war against Tigraen. A great believer in the power of heavy cavalry, Caxton set out to create a permanent source of such troops for Sarmatti.
With the backing of his fellow Stratos, Caxton settled the rolling hills of Warien with thousands of serfs, and over them, set Knights, each supported by a small fiefdom of his own. Every Knight owed allegiance to a greater Lord, and all ultimately, the King, who was intended to also be a Stratos of Sarmatti.
Warien has spent centuries fighting alongside Sarmatti, though it has several times been conquered and occupied by Tigraen.
Warien is a rich green country. Much of the land is green rolling hills and plains, full of rich grass, so green it is almost blue. Eastern and Southern Warien are more rugged, full of low mountains and deep valleys, with every stream running into the might Ufel river, which drains the entire Kingdom to the Seleuc Fjord. The far west gives way to brown plains, where great herds of horses run.
There are no seasons in Warien; just four harvests taken every year. Life flourishes here.
Warien has access to the sea through Seleuc Fjord, but the sea is not the homeland of the Knight. Warien has sailors and ships, but has no love for the sea as a nation.
Warien is nearly eight hundred miles from east to west, and four hundred north to south.
The common folk of Warien are serfs; men and women bound to work the land they were born upon. They are tough, hardy, simple folk, who are encouraged to work hard and have large families, the better to work the land.
The Knights rule the serfs in thousands and thousands of small feifdoms. Every Knight is both a ruler and a soldier, the income from his lands going to arm and equip himself and a bodyguard of picked men. The Knights are instructed by the King to follow a code of nobility and chivalry, but in practice this code is often ignored.
Set above the Knights are Lords of various ranks - Baron, Count, Marquis, Duke, and finally the King himself. Each is lord over a number of Knights of his own, or, if higher rank, and number of Knights and lesser Lords. The Lords are great landholders as well as ranking officers of Warien's military.
Everyone in Warien owes either obedience to those set above him, or obligation to those below. There is no class mobility. Large Knightly families and the absence of wars causes massive expansion pressure - Knights need fiefs to support their arms and equipment, and Lords need Knights to support them. Every son of a warrior family needs his own fief when he comes of age. In wartime, deaths open up many fiefs who need new rulers. In peacetime, massive, bloody tournaments are common, both for the amusement of the folk and for the honing of war skills.
In addition, on occasion nobles find themselves with conflicting loyalties, and the inevitable betrayals spark civil wars from time to time.
Banditry is a terrible problem in Warien. Serfs who are abused by their lords or who have their lands sacked often have no choice but to turn to thievery. Bands of rough, desperate men hide out in the countryside; occasionally becoming such a problem that Knights ride out to deal with them.
The serfs dress quite simply, in rough homespun. The Knights and above somewhat better, in woolens and linens, though most of their effort is placed in ornate arms and armor, not clothing.
High Valean is the common language. Black Valean is understood by a few Lords. Few other languages are of interest unless then have to do with war or horses.
The Arcane languages have been forgotten, and there is little interest in the strange languages of outsiders. Warien only needs to know how to fight evil, not talk to it. The one exception would be among the Enchantresses; who have gathered a great deal of knowledge to themselves.
The temples to Bors and Shyla are modest and poor; those to Kath large large and quite ostentatious; every Lord wishes to show his devotion to the war god, and so funds many temples. The other minor gods have small followings, but always secondary to national Kath worship.
Once, long ago, Warien was the cavalry arm of Sarmatti; to the point where Sarmatti did not even bother fielding their own heavy cavalry, as the Knights of Warien were so superior. But before the sixteenth crusade (in 2734 PN), King Copland of Warien succeeded to the throne - but was not anointed by the Celestials as a Stratos of Sarmatti. Still loyal, Warien fought alongside Sarmatti in that bloody action - but two generations later, King Stansby was still not anointed as a Stratos. Warien began to draft away from Sarmatti, sending fewer and fewer Knights when the Stratos summoned them. Finally the Stratos could no longer call upon Warien and expect help to arrive. The Kings of Warien were protecting their own realm, and had little interest in helping Sarmatti fight their endless crusade.
Warien lives for war; and as such have fought every one of their neighbors in the past. (Including Sarmatti itself, four hundred years ago). The Kingdom was half its current size when established, Warien has slowly absorbed more and more territory as the sons of powerful Knights desire to win fiefdoms of their own. The Seleucis Kingdoms have been especially hard-hit by Warien's expansion.
Tigraen has invaded Warien before, and even managed to subjugate it for a time during the dark crusades. Some of the Knights and lesser lords served the Tyrants, but always the country would rise up from within or be liberated from without, and Warien would resume it's usual course, seemingly unaffected by Tigraen's occupation.
Recently conflict with Seleucis has flared up; with Warien slowly taking land when Seleucis is caught up in internal bloodletting.
Warien's military is massive and powerful; thousands of heavily armored Knights mounted upon armored horses. Trained from youth for combat on horseback, a charge of heavy Knights is a sight to behold. They are supported by bands of armed Serfs, who are expected to do little more than fire bows at a distance, build and operate siege engines, and protect the camps when the Knights sleep.
Warien has a navy of large, wallowing, slow Quintiremes. Rowed by hundreds of Serfs, these massive vessels have huge ramps on the bows, allowing Knights to charge right off into battle. While good for transporting horses and soldiers, they are poor warships, though more than enough to deal with the occasional Chien junk.
The Serfs of Warien are far too busy for magic, and the Knights focused on combat. However, Warien does not allow noble women to take up arms. Instead, they are encouraged to learn the arcane or divine arts; therefore, all spellcasters in Warien are female.
Enchantment is thought to be the most powerful art, thus the casters of Warien are all known as Enchantresses; though most are not actually specialist Enchanters. The most powerful - often wives of powerful nobles - deploy with their entourages to battle alongside their husbands, using their magic to support their own warriors or to disrupt the casting of enemy spells.
Divine magic, too, is the province of women. The temples of Warien are run by women, and all priests are female.
Enchantress Vinaeve is the most famous Enchantress of all Warien's history, having once saved the nobility of Warien from the nefarious plots of Tigraen.
Warien has forty small cities, each the fief of one of the great Dukes. Though they are the size of a city in another land, these settlements are really the vassals, servants, and troops of the local Duke.
There are only three great cities; Hartheur; City of the King, Chevalan, seat of the First Duke (and rallying place of the armies), and Viseur; great sea-port of Warien. These cities have something like a 'middle class' of skilled serfs who make weapons, armor, and train the best horses. Though still legally considered serfs tied to the land, the local Dukes have made accommodations to these useful serfs.
There are hundreds of minor cities, usually the fiefs of Barons or lesser Counts.
The folk of Warien are almost entirely human; generally fair skinned and light eyed.
Obviously pure martial classes are favored among noble men. There are a few Paladins and Rangers and the like, but most are Fighters and Warriors. Women may become arcane or divine casters, and are relatively common in that role. Monks are quite rare, along with other exotic classes. Bards, however, are common, though rarely from Warien. They almost always come from somewhere else to entertain at the courts of the Lords.