Friday, December 13, 2013

From the Netbook: The World That Was, in the Late Imperium

Thorn’s knowledge of the World That Was is primarily based on firsthand accounts from the Imperial Princess herself. They are supplemented by what secondary sources could be salvaged from the library in the Reflected City, as well as what was tapped and vibrocoded from the First Throne databanks’ skylink. Clarifications — when they could be untangled from her riddles, puzzles, and enigmas — were provided by the Gray Lady, who still haunts the ruined archives.

The Men of Blackmoor in the Late Imperium (as the centuries leading up to the Great Rain of Fire were known) remained largely unchanged from the fledgeling days of the kingdom: from the swarthy Peshwah, to the dark-skinned Men of the Tangor peninsula, to the pale, red-haired raiders of Skandahar — they could all be found in any corner of the Empire. Of course, with the development of mechanized flight, ocean and land travel, many of the signature features of those races faded into near obsolescence. The horsemen of Peshwah still maintain herds, though the horses are primarily used in sport and entertainment, rather than serving as the chief focus of a clan’s lifestyle. While the occasional sea raid is possible, most Skandaharians in the Imperium are far more likely to raid a company’s coffers from the safe confines of a board room or solicitor’s office.
Dwarves maintain much of the Empire’s mining and metalcrafting needs. Better than eighty percent of the mining guilds are controlled by dwarven clans. Dwarves have also made their mark in such industries as security and secure transport. Very nearly all dwarven first-sons serve in the Imperial Armed forces, and a good number of Major-Generals and Generals serving in the military started their service before they’d even grown a full beard.
The Empire’s relations with the elves during the Imperium has run as hot and cold as it has throughout the history of the North. The one consistency about dealing with the elves, as the saying goes, is that they will be inconsistent. Relations with the elves took a significant turn for the worse in the last three hundred years, beginning with the Andahar twins ascension to the First Throne (the Westryn actually use the word “banishment”). The Cumasti, at least, retain a presence on the Regency Council, taking an active interest in the guilds and businesses related to lumber, forestry, and livestock. The seat held by the Westryn remains abandoned, and their woodlands have been deemed unsafe for any of the Empire to enter. Overtures to the Westryn Queen receive the same answer for the past three centuries: A black crystal shard etched with Leansethar’s rune, driven through the tongue of the messenger.
As the dwarves are to mining, so are the Empire’s halflings to farming. Nearly every agricultural guild is headed by a halfling clan. They have also cemented a toe-hold in the finance and hospitality businesses. “It used to be listening to a halfling, you risked your purse. Nowadays, you risk your purse by not listening,” goes one saying. “They haven’t changed a bit,” goes another, “still cheerfully take your money, and you nunce’s keep smiling as you hand it over.”

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