Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Bettellyn: A Million and One Tombs -- Pt. II

Continued from Part One.  Click HERE for the previous article.

Map Bettellyn Temporia
Proceeding westward, the next two dominions are the Prelacies of Temporia and Celesta.  The people in these two provinces mostly follow the philosophies of Horana.  Their culture centers around the cult of ancestors and their spirits.  Of particular interest are the Burial Hallows, a stretch of windswept desert that serves as a gigantic cemetery.  It is thought that over the centuries, more than a million graves were dug there.  Legends say that the land weeps with sorrow following the deaths of lesser archons in a mighty battle with dragons, explaining why nothing ever grows there.  It is believed that the souls of fallen archons protect the remains of faithfuls, leading all who can afford it to entomb their deceased kin there.  The most affluent families of Bettellyn build great mausoleums in the Burial Hallows.  These sinister mortuary structures stand eerily amid sprawling mazes of family tombs, patches of rocky desert, and looming boulders.  Petrified skeletons of dragons lie here and there, along the eighty miles of the desiccated bulge.  These sites are considered cursed and forbidden to all.  Companions of Horana often patrol the Burial Hallows, looking for tomb robbers, vilest of criminals.

Map Bettellyn Llyn
Farther north lies the Prelacy of Llyn, which belongs to the Royal House.  Traditionally, this apanage is given to the monarch's first sibling, if any.  As such, it isn’t a hereditary possession.  Currently, Queen Llynara’s younger brother, Llyndor, stands as the Pious Prelate of Llyn.  When the queen passes away, her son Llynroth is expected to succeed her, and thus his sister, Llyndara, will take over the prelacy from her uncle.  The House of Llyn bears one of the most ancient Alphatian bloodlines, and a notable influence among imperial circles and the Great Council in Vertiloch.  It relates to many other Alphatian Houses whose names include Llyn as a suffix or a prefix, such as Llyndemar, Scarabellyn, and Feltellyn (a bitterly hated Randelese offshoot) among others.  The town of Dheys grew from a royal village to a town with nearly seven thousand people year round.  Its center is entirely reserved for affluent families connected with the monarchy or with one of the ten vassal houses.  Dheys looks like a pricey resort town with wealthy abodes, monuments, and sumptuous gardens, and is in fact the House of Llyn’s winter palace.  Queen Llynara prefers Dheys to Citadel’s immense, drafty halls and the constant threat of monsters crawling from its depths.  Every season, the royal retinue, a large portion of Citadel’s military garrison, and anyone who’s anybody at the capital all suddenly flock to Dheys, more than doubling the population of the otherwise quiet, provincial town and transforming it into a kingly madhouse.  In order to ease transportation and sanitation, a great canal connects the town’s center to the Llyn River.  The Royal Barge sails through this canal in great fanfare, with a cohort of smaller vessels, escorting galleys, and airships flying overhead.  The remainder travel by road.

Map Bettellyn Hebdomadea
The Prelacy of Hebdomadea lies awkwardly between Citadel and Llyn.  It has always been seen as an inconvenient neighbor from the monarchy’s point of view.  Its prelates earned the land in most lawful ways and never incurred any risk of losing it as the result of royal disfavor.  Hebdomadea’s concern lies more with its long western border with virgin Imperial Territories and monster raids originating from the Firewall Range.  By imperial law, punitive expeditions into the region are unthinkable, forcing Hebdomadean troops to adopt defensive tactics that do not solve the problem.  A Monastery of Sabbaiah established itself near the foothills.  Its companions get plenty of opportunities to earn experience and knowledge about portents of chaos.

Map Bettellyn Masalioth
The Prelacy of Masalioth gets the least amount of respect from its neighbors and commands little prestige.  Masalioth is almost entirely a farming community.  Its produce mostly sails upriver to Citadel, downstream toward Llyn Lake and beyond, or is carted south to neighboring Quanfax.  Masalioth, despite its rural nature, is a great source of devouts, raised in the back country where they spend their lives working the land and listening to tales of archons, holy people, and proud warriors.  When trouble arises elsewhere in Bettellyn, folks of Masalioth are the first to answer the call.  Those who survive usually remain to serve with their units or join the ranks of the clergy, and rise from there.  Many of them can be found among high-level clerics, and among forces guarding the borders, in castles, forts, and towers.  As a result, Masalioth wields more influence in Citadel, the two archdioceses, and among the military than any other province.  Therein lies its true greatness.

Map Bettellyn Uffariel
The See of Uffariel is a military march where warriors almost outnumber civilian population.  The monarchy largely pays for these troops and the part of the navy anchoring at Uffacos.  They are a key part of defenses against Foresthome.  No invasion or raid is expected from this quiet neighbor, and none has been perpetrated northward for some time.  Nonetheless, Uffariel’s sizeable force is there to dispel any misunderstanding on Foresthome’s part.  There was a time when forest tribes raided southward, especially when Bettellyn grew from its infancy.  This was neither forgotten nor forgiven.  Nowadays, Uffariel is a major springboard for mission work.  The cult of Elarion has made excellent progress in northern Foresthome, slowly turning sylvan clans into potential allies of Bettellyn.  There are those in the City of Greenwood who bitterly oppose this dangerous influence.  Their agents in Uffacos watch for new missionaries, hoping to intercept them on the other side of the border and put a permanent end to their seditious workings.  Similar activity takes place west of Llyn Lake, although troops in the less populated area of Corona Castle have had a much better time spotting Foresthome agents (and vice-versa).  Submersibles operating from Devouts' Gate occasionally serve as a way to drop off missionaries and spies on the opposite side of Llyn Lake.  As a result of these efforts, tension has increased between the two realms, which in turn justifies Queen Llynara’s strategy of maintaining significant troops in Uffariel, and in the border fortresses of Devouts’ Gate and Corona Castle.

People say that monasteries and shrines are as common in Bettellyn as trees in a forest, or as Vertilians would put it, as plentiful as flees in on mangy mutt’s backside.  The most important ones are monasteries and nunneries devoted to The Seven.  These shrines are great sources of Companions of the Faith, trained amid the isolation of the surrounding forests in their arts and in the ways of their immortals.  Access to the grounds is restricted, save for passage along a trail.  Another seven abbeys and convents concern themselves more specifically to immortal revelations, studying their sources and their meanings.  Their mystics travel the world of Mystara, searching for signs to shed more light on the revelations, and tracking those yet to happen.  The most important of these monasteries are autonomous as regards the administration of their lands, and answer only to one of the three Holy Potentates.

Click HERE to continue.