Alberia is a word from one of the old ailish dialects that means “the kingdom of eternal rains”, undoubtedly an appropriate name for one of the oldest nations in the history of the mankind.
The territories that Alberia includes are presently located in the northern part of the Empire, in the well-known zone called the North Peninsula. Almost the entire zone is filled with leafy forests and green mountainsides nourished by constant rains and the great rivers that cross them. Only in its northern strip are there mountain masses, mostly frosted due to the height. The climate throughout the principality tends to be cold and humid all year, and in the rainy season (that normally occurs before summer) there are even great thunderstorms. The principality not only enjoys a great variety of native vegetation, but also it has many lone species of animals that live solely in their forests.
The kingdom of eternal rains maintains a fragile economy based on internal commerce, since their towns tend to trade among themselves, ignoring the other principalities. Many speculate that it must be because its border with Galgados is practically blocked by mountains and Dalaborn has no need for its products, but the truth is that the inhabitants of Alberia simply do not show much interest in opening themselves to new markets. Only on rare occasions do they deal with its neighbors or Kanon, to whom they sometimes sell wood shipments.
The government of the Alberia has certain practices that make it different from other regions of the Empire. It maintains a complex political system in which the prince democratically leads a parliament of twenty rulers elected by the people. Anyone, without any regard to social class, can be chosen, which has created a considerable tension between the nobility and the common people in town, because the aristocracy feels they’re not getting what their status deserve.
Although there are hundreds of towns and villages of varying sizes, the large cities are very few, and there is no metropolis located in the entire principality, not even its capital. Their armies are small, but almost all of Alberia is well trained for war. In a threatening situation, the village militias would prove to be as deadly as those of any professional army.
The relationship of the principality with the Sacred Holy Empire is quite outlandish. They do not feel united with it culturally, but the sense of honor of its inhabitants has tied them to Abel by the commitments that the Empire made repeatedly in the past. At the moment Alberia tries to distance from any conflict, mainly because their governors understand the other nations wish to secede from the Empire after the terrible events that occurred during the rule of Eljared. However, even though they are not inclined to support an attack against outside principalities, if the integrity of the Empire were threatened Alberia would not hesitate to rise up in arms no matter who its enemy was.
The current prince of the principality is Aidem Roy, who has just succeeded his father Arthur.
Culture and Society
People of Alberia may seem strange to the other lands of the Empire. Their citizens are separated from the society of Abel, and they have been governing themselves for centuries by their own traditions and customs, inherited by their ancestors. Usually they are conservative by nature, feeling very apprehensive towards altering their activities or making a change in their lifestyle. Like any culture, each town or community has its own rituals and customs, but together they maintain a strong sense of group solidarity. People value honor and keeping their word over everything, and quite often the children inherit the oaths of the parents as part of their legacy. By tradition, there are no reasons to break a promise; those who fail are despised by others.
The majority of the Alberos speak different dialects derived from ailish, the ancestral language of their nation. Many people do not know Latin, and only in Belfort and other some small cities the language of the Empire is commonly used.
The nobility has great power over the area, and small fiefdoms exist throughout the principality. Often, it is because the inhabitants of a village have made an oath of vassalage with their lord and are forced to follow to him by tradition during the rest of their lives. Without rich commerce, the bourgeoisie in the territory are practically nonexistent. On the few occasions in which they trade, wood is the main export for the mainland, while fishing is for the coasts.
Although the official religion of the principality is the Alkavian faith, only the big cities actually follow its beliefs. Many towns and villages have their own religious values, based on the spirits and powers of their old myths and legends. Even the rural priests, frequent in the villages, mix the old traditions with Alkavian faith. In Alberia there are also holy men called the Lillium, who are the clerics of the old beliefs and myths. Although they appear less often recently, their voices still have an enormous impact even in the most remote villages, where people believe in them with true devotion.
Unaccustomed to having visitors, the people distrust foreigners, especially if they come from principalities that have broken away from the Empire. Considering their oaths with Abel, the Alberos believe the separatists are individuals that have betrayed their word and, consequently, don’t deserve respect.
Someone who deserves notable mention within the culture of Alberia are the bards and poets who travel from one end of the kingdom of eternal rains to the other spinning myths and legends. Unlike other countries, where they are considered no more than mere troubadours to entertain the populace, the bards in Alberia are revered as wise ones, whose visitations are always welcome in the villages. The most respected of them have an enormous influence on people, because the townsfolk treat their advice like the wisdom handed down from the old ones.
The greatest internal problem in Alberia’s society has been approaching for decades, with the creation of Alberia’s parliament on the part of old prince Arthur. The parliament is the official organization of an older tradition called the Rock Circle, according to which the governor could call on the voices of the town and the nobility to help him make decisions. Now, the town enjoys true democracy in choosing its spokesmen, much to the dislike of the nobility, because to them, it’s stealing the power that they’ve always had.
Regarding the Supernatural
The people of Alberia feed their imaginations on the hundreds of stories, myths and legends that inhabit the forests, which reinforces the belief in supernatural almost every day. Additionally, many of their own practices and traditions have elements of arcane rites as their basis, like drawing symbols indoors to banish the dark spirits or making an offering to the forests. Consequently, people do not regard the supernatural powers as something malignant, but instead prefer to judge them by how they’re used. If a wizard used his abilities in a beneficial way, he would not have a bad reputation with his people; it is more probable instead that he would be admired for his powers.
In spite of everything, there were too many bad experiences about supernatural spirits and beasts in the past, so is normal for the people to feel an initial rejection before the unknown, because it usually brings more suffering than good.
The Inquisition has a booming presence in the principality (mainly in the cities) but, unlike in other nations, it does not usually act openly; their agents are used to covert operations. If necessary, the Inquisitors will dispatch their targets in secret.
The Tuan DalyrEdit
The Tuan Dalyr, an Ailish word that means “those that stayed behind”, constitute one of the more deeply-rooted legends between the Alberos. Although for many inhabitants in the cities they seem like an unfounded myth, the Tuan Dalyr really exist. They are the descendants of those men and women who served the beast spirits long ago, having mated with them and evolved into something other than mere humans.
The Tuan Dalyr have the skills and capabilities of animals, and they can alter their bodies slightly to take beastly forms. Many lycanthropy myths originate from them and the close relationship between their powers and the phases of the moon. It is impossible to physically differentiate a Tuan Dalyr from a normal person, although it’s said that when they get angry, they cannot keep their eyes from adopting a feral aspect. Contrary to what people think, they cannot infect others with their condition by means of bites or scratches.
The great majority of the Tuan Dalyr were exterminated by the soldiers of Aeolus in The Great Battle of the Forest of the Whispers, and the few survivors had to flee and disperse. Some took refuge in the east, in the frozen steppes of Goldar and Haufman, although most found shelter in the density of the northern forests. There they were hidden for centuries, knowing full well that they were incapable of exacting revenge for themselves; in that time, most of them developed a deep hatred towards mankind.
On several occasions, bands of Tuan Dalyr have attacked small villages, sometimes even wiping out its citizens altogether. This has only reinforced their sinister mythology, and the fear that many people feel towards them. Tuan Dalyr are not complete savages as many believe, but they do not make settlements nor do they spend too much time in one place.
In the year 450, when the presence of the Tuan Dalyr had become very active, a large division of the Inquisition and ecclesiastical soldiers initiated an offensive against them to stop such “demonic beasts”. Although its success was marginal, because their quarry knew the forests so well, the beastmen decreased their activities, spacing their attacks.
History of Alberia
Thousands of years ago, the southern forests of Alberia lodged small traveling clans who decided to make that region their home. These people had taken extreme caution not to approach the forests of the north too closely, because soon discovered that they lived with ancient entities alongside other major powers.
The truth is that the northern zone was the core of the Sylvain nations, who ignored the small human tribes that they considered unimportant and of no threat to them. That way, over centuries the traveling clans lived in harmony with the elven lords and learned to fear the consequences of their wrath.
Centuries later, the War of God was a heart wrenching crisis for the natives; when people saw the floating fortresses of the Duk´zarist in action, they thought that it was the end of the world. Luckily, the Sylvain managed to halt the advance of their ancestral enemies and the damage to the country was minimized, although their forces were routed and scattered after the activation of Rah’s machine.
Without the control of the Sylvain, many malevolent entities of the forests thought that the moment had finally arrived for taking control of the lands, which is why they attacked humanity ravaging everything in their path. For the first time in centuries, the clans were united under the rulership of the Roy family to face the singular threat hanging over them. Although they gained numerous victories, throughout the years humans were forced to retreat towards the forests, deep into the territories that until then they had not dared to tread. When the situation became dire, Aeolus and the armies of the Empire burst in into Alberia, slaying all the supernatural beasts and saving his people from a fate worse than death. Even today, that debt contracted with the first Emperor weighs heavily on the Alberos, who never forget their loyalty to the Empire.
With the support of Abel, the clans were able to secure total control of Alberia, beginning to spread through the country. Some families returned to the old forests from which they had been expelled, while many others remained in the new regions that they had colonized. In this way, in year 265 Alberia would be unified to the Empire like a principality controlled by the Roy family.
The following centuries were benign for the progress of the nation, during which many cities and towns were constructed. However, at the same time there was sufficient friction and problems; first with the Church dogmas, and later between several native nobles that began to fight to increase their land. Fortunately, the rulers of the Roy dynasty always effectively managed to avoid all troubles with intelligent maneuvering or blunt determination.
One of the more unusual events that one can recall occurred in year 899, when a contingent of imperial soldiers that exceeded half a million men mobilized in the principality with no apparent reason. Many nobles were scandalized by similar demonstrations of power, but the armies remained just a month before they marched on, leaving a contingent of Tol Rauko behind that remains in the northern zone of Alberia today.
But the true revolution for the kingdom of eternal rains would occur in just fifty years ago, when greatest of all the lords of Alberia, Arthur Roy, made an official of parliament granting the town the power to choose its own representatives. In response, several nobles rebelled against the prince, although this was subject to all the dissidents by force of arms. Arthur remains alive, but he has abdicated his title to his only son, Aidem, a young idealist who follows his father’s dream to construct a better nation for all.
Relevant Geographical Features
Most of Alberia is composed of small scattered woodland, dozens of rivers, lakes and green meadows. Generally, the sky is always cloudy, which gives all its green places a dark and gray aspect. Many of the forests have not yet been explored or colonized, making people unaware of what lies in its interior, thus generating many myths and legends. Here are some of their more notable forests, but of course not an exhaustive list.
The Forest of the Whispers: The Forest of the Whispers was the place where the great battle between the spirits and the clans of Alberia was triggered. Several thousands of combatants on both sides were killed in this dense vegetation and, as on other great battlefields, the bloodshed left a strong imprint in The Wake. The name of the forest comes from the strange sounds that the wind makes across the leaves, sometimes confused with words.
Old Lillium tradition assures that, whoever tries to cross the forest, something rarely attempted, must carry leaves of mistletoe in their lapel in respect for those who died. That way, the spirits of the fallen ones rest peacefully and safeguard the travelers. But a dark and shadowy part of the forest also exists. The visitors must be extremely careful not to spill blood or to give off any bloody smell inside the forest, because otherwise, the voracious phantoms that still believe they’re at war could wake up to consume their meat.
Once every 27 years, the Lillium perform a ritual in the heart of the forest to commemorate the fallen ones and to make sure that their spirits rest peacefully. Really, this rite serves to calm The Wake Specters and prevents them from trying to enter the real world.
The Forest of the Fog: This shady place, located in the western part of the principality, has always generated many legends because of the mist that arises from it. This dense fog never disappears, even when it rains or it is torridly hot, so many think that is caused by ancient spirits who inhabit the interior. Nobody can be certain of whether or not this is truly the home of such beings.
The Forest of Glenda: Also known as the Old Forest, this immense forest of oaks is in the center of Alberia. Within the Lillium tradition, Glenda is the heart of their church and the place where the priest meet annually to celebrate the changing of the seasons. It is full of wolves, great bears and other wild animals, but they rarely attack man except to protect themselves. Glenda is also a powerful supernatural wellspring where magic and mystical energies regenerate at a much greater rate than normal. In the heart of the forest is a clearing in the oak grove, a place strongly tied The Wake. The membrane that separates both worlds is so fragile that, even those who cannot see the supernatural can glimpse the souls that inhabit the forest. In a small lake in the center is also a portal to The Wake that only opens on the night of the new moon or the days of a strong thunderstorm.
The Forest of the Mirror: According to the legend that surrounds this shadowy red wood, the Forest of the Mirror is alive and the sins of its visitors give it nourishment. Those who enter this place will be assaulted by images from their past; memories that they would like to forget. At the same time, the forest can also awaken the treasured moments they’ve lost. Visitors are sometimes forced to face reflections of themselves, mirrored clones with their abilities and powers. In very rare instances it is possible that, if one of these duplicates assassinated the original person and it was powerful enough, their existential force may allow them to manifest and to leave the forest like a phantasmal double. This strange distortion of reality is caused by a breach in the balance of The Wake and Gaia, creating the memories and images of the people escaping them. In the heart of the forest, halfway between both worlds, is some sort of slumbering force, known as The Seventh Sleeper, who causes the disruption.
The Gray Forest: This quiet forest of willows and yews is located near Belfort, separating several communities. People do not like to cross it, much less stray from the roads, to avoid the predators and dangers attributed to the deep woods. For years, there have been mysterious disappearances in the zone. The true is that The Gray Forest is home to an enormous nest of Lagor, which hunt both the animals of the area as well as a few unsuspecting human prey, imprisoning them with their psychic abilities.
The Forest of Souls: The Forest of Souls is, without a doubt, one of the most sacred places in all Alberia. According to legend, when the first human settlers established relation with the great spirits, in the center of this forest a pact was forged that would tie humanity to higher forces eternally. Be it certain or not, the truth is that the lifespan of the trees in this place is completely unnatural. Most of them grow quickly and are completely developed in only a few years but, similarly, they wither and die in a few decades. If we studied the myth, we could consider that all the trees are tied to the lifespan of one person in particular, growing and developing like a reflection of the person’s existence.
Naturally, destroying or damaging any tree is prohibited by the tradition, and for many clans that follow the belief of the Lillium, the killing of one tree is the same as committing a murder. The place is not an official sanctuary of the principality, but according to ancient customs all the villages are forced to send a soldier each generation to safeguard the forest.
The Forest of Caitleen: This is a tiny forest of white trees in the northeastern zone of Alberia. In ancient times, it was a Sylvain forest consecrated to the Beryl Rafael, similar in many aspects to the famous White Forest of Kanon. Inside dwells a powerful nature spirit that guards the woods to make sure that nobody damages it. Sometimes, some trees are cut and sold to the neighboring principality to construct Sy´luen, but while their number is limited and it does not threaten the forest, Rafael’s guardian does not find it necessary to interfere.
The Forest of Eternal Night: This dense forest of black trees allows no light to penetrate it. Located in the unexplored northern zone of the principality, the few that know or have heard rumors about it avoid it, assuring that it is a well of the darkness and evil that connects to the depths of hell. The Sylvain even avoided it centuries back, thinking that the forest formed when a drop of Zemial’s blood was spilled on the land.
But beyond the myths, The Forest of Eternal Night is a really frightening place. Pervaded by darkness, the surrounding area is home to shades, sinister spirits and other shadowy entities. Its center is truly nightmarish; the current of the streams carries blood instead of water, heart-wrenching screams are heard everywhere and, when you look into the darkness, it stares back at you. Perhaps, in another sense, the forest is a living entity that resonates pure evil.
Eamon Forest: This enormous forest of birches, apple trees and yews marks the southern border of the principality, separating it from the enormous expanse of Dalaborn. Eamon is a place frequently traveled, full of forest pathways and small towns. It is also a wonderful hunting preserve, where many young rangers train to perfect their skills. They say that the wild apples that they grow here are the most flavorful in all of Gaia, and that they even have some healing properties.
The Forest of Forgetfulness: Located in the Eastern region of Alberia, near Grafthon, this huge forest is peaceful and full of beautiful landscapes. With many tiny lakes, plenty of flowers and a refreshing aroma, it is the epitome of untamed beauty. It is said that many people visit it to forget their problems (hence the name), like bards and poets lost in it in search of inspiration.
The Mountains of Light: One of the few elevations that can be found in the principality, the Mountains of the Light is a mountain range that completely surrounds the immense lake where the Shea river born from. Throughout the mountains some small fortifications of Tol Rauko are placed, where several High Templars and their followers dwell. In the past there were the Three Great Steps, majestic tunnels magically excavated through stone, but they collapsed centuries ago and were rendered unusable. Even so, countless grottos and passages between
the mountains remain that allow passage to the lake. If somebody gets lost in the forest and seeks refuge in the caves, it is possible to traverse the mountains without being noticed by the Templars. Sylvania, the city of legend, is located in the middle of the great lake.
The Shea River: The Shea is the largest river in Alberia, originating from an extraordinary waterfall in the Mountains of Light and crossing the principality until emptying into the North Sea. Because of the incredible force of its current it is very difficult to cross, if not impossible, and at the moment all attempts to build a bridge have been completely unfruitful. Sometimes, it is necessary to span several miles to cross it.
The Mountain Range of Fallon: In the north, near the coast, the sullen Mountain Range of Fallon rises; a frozen mountain with unflattering forests. Given the inhospitable place it is placed, the area practically goes unexplored and unpopulated. The few that have ventured near the region have found nothing other than more forests covered with snow, wild animals never seen before and, in the worse cases, death.
Places of Interest
With traditional inclinations for citizens to live in small rural populations, Alberia does not have great cities. Most of the towns are so tiny that they do not even appear on maps, like most of the feudal castles.
(City, Population 104,000+)
Belfort was built a few years after the War of the Spirits ended. Originally, it was only meant to be an enormous castle where the court resided and the armies of the principality could train, but many families quickly built their homes around the fortress, founding the great city that it has become today.
Although perhaps it is not as rich as the port of Grafthon, Belfort is undeniably the biggest city in the entire principality. The small gray stone houses extend like an anthill over miles and miles of land. The majority of streets are not paved and, because of rain, it’s often difficult to travel along the common routes. There are many mansions and no monuments, except for a few churches and towers. The most striking building is unarguably The Cathedral of Saint Iain, a spectacular castle funded by the Church in memory of the priest who managed to separate the Lillium from the great cities. In the basement of the cathedral lays a secret command center of the Inquisition, where many prisoners are interrogated.
The center of Belfort is surrounded by the hills of a great mountain, in whose summit the Castle of Connely is raised, the home of prince Aidem Roy and of his knights, The Order of the Crucible.
Only years ago, the isolated village of Desmont began to prosper when the rich and eccentric merchant Dylan Ferris decided to construct an immense mansion a few miles away in which he invested exorbitant amounts of money. Practically the whole town worked for Ferris in one way or another, and thanks to the enormous revenue, people did not ask too many questions.
Ferris was a high Black Sun member that worked directly for the Delacroix family who was in charge the development of new necromantic weapons using an incomplete copy of The Book of the Dead. The Ferris Mansion was an immense research laboratory like a labyrinth, where several scientists and Black Sun alchemists experimented with unusual creatures and methods to control them. In addition to undead animals, zombies, executioners and other extravagances, its most important project was to create a new category of undead beast, using a few captive Tuan Dalyr as its basis. Unfortunately, something went wrong and the creatures released themselves, completely slaying all the scientists, and later, the citizens of Desmont. It was a true massacre of which there were no survivors.
Using its highest ranked agents, The Black Sun was able to destroy to most of escaped beasts with great difficulty and, thanks to their political influence, the organization blamed the destruction of Desmont unjustly on the Tuan Dalyr. Now the village is deserted, and the mansion, completely quarantined thanks to the containment systems, has been left behind, even though it still swarms with countless experiments.
(Ghost Metropolis, Population unknown)
The great Sylvania, the city that marked the end of fairy tales, is located in the center of the lake in the Mountains of Light. For more information see Sylvania.
(City, Population 87,000+)
The port of Grafthon is the predominant mercantile center of the principality thanks to the marine commerce. It does not really matter to Alberia too much, but many boats that cross the North Sea use the port like an obligatory scale. This gray place, constructed on massive stone, has sobriety only comparable with the hard work that their citizens put into their daily work. Because of the strong fog that usually surrounds the coast, numerous lighthouses have been constructed around Grafthon to which people call “the lights of the fairies”.
There is a considerable tension in the city between those that follow the Church, now the majority, and those that maintain the old traditions of the Lillium. Sometimes they have gotten into heated disputes (or some other night beating), but at the moment, it has not been necessary to mourn the loss of lives. Luckily, the imperial edict of Adelina on the religion has smoothed this situation.
They say that Grafthon has the greatest number of bards in the entire principality. The Competition of The Voice is an unusual championship held once every three years, in which the best bards in Grafthon tell tales, recite poetry and sing ballads to be named “The Bard of Alberia”, undeniably one of the more prestigious titles that anyone in the kingdom of eternal rains can have.
Duke Allen Konagar is the lord of the city and the second most powerful nobleman in all Alberia. He maintains a well-known rivalry with Aidem Roy. Allen is married to the sister of the prince, Meriel Roy, who is secretly a Lillium high priestess. Inexplicably, due to a failed summoning attempt Meriel suffers from a split personality; sometimes she is the pleasant young woman she has always been, and other times she behaves in a cruel and bloodthirsty way. Her husband, who love her more than anything in the world, knows nothing of what is happening to her, because when she is with him Meriel is always good natured and charming.
The Rock Circle
It is a circle of stone and stellar metal monoliths located on a hill a few miles north of Belfort. In the antiquity, it was used by the clan leaders to meet with the Lillium and to make the most appropriate decisions. It was here, when the War of the Spirits began, where the lords chose to the Roy family to rule them. Either traditionally or symbolically, the circle is presently being used so that the parliament and the prince discuss subjects of greater relevance.
(Village, Population 500+)
For many, Herne is a village in decline ever since a few decades ago, since its population was almost double what it is today. Even so, people living here have a deserved reputation as the best hunters, trappers, scouts and guides across Alberia. Their talents are very valued by the foreigners, who often hire the services of the community rangers to visit the less well-known and inhospitable places of the kingdom of eternal rains.
(Village, Population 300+)
Although at first sight Faolan is no more than another tiny lost village in the forests of Alberia, it is the first and only colony of Tuan Dalyr that exists at the moment. Thirty years ago, its inhabitants decided to settle and, tired of so much death, tried to see if it were possible for them to live like normal humans. Since then they have been hiding their identities, avoiding relations with other towns and people. The inhabitants of Faolan are sullen and they do not appreciate visitors, but if it is possible they always try to maintain a certain level of normality. If they are discovered, they usually kill whoever knows their secret to protect their village. The leader of the community is Kellan the Wolf, the main spokesperson to the idea that it is possible to coexist with man. The problem is that Raghnall, his only son, is disgusted by that ideal and wishes that they return to being wild nomads like other tribes of Tuan Dalyr. Somehow, he plans to bring about something that forces his to return to their origins, doing away with as many humans as they can.
Other Settlements: Annan, Keith, Reston, Gretma, Nairn.