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Argos

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Capital: Ilion
Population: 5,300,000+
Main Ethnic Groups: Vildian (89%), Asher (5%), Daevar (3%), Tayahar (3%)
Government: Monarchy
Languages: Latin
Religion: Alkavian Church
Technology: Medium
Denomym: Arges
Flag: Divided into four quadrants; a tower on a red background, a sword on a blue background, three silver stars on a white background and a golden cross on a black background
Masculine Names: Adolfo, Alberto, Basilio, Desiderio, Felipe, Germán, Guillermo, Hernando, Íñigo, Juan, Octavio, Raúl, Rubén, Salvador, Víctor
Feminine Names: Adelaida, Ángela, Beatriz, Carmen, Cristina, Esmeralda, Isabel, Laura, Noelia, Pilar, Sofía, Susana, Teresa, Verónica, Zoraida
Last Names: Aguilar, Aranda, Cano, Fernández, García, Hernández, Lázaro, Lorenzo, Menéndez, Ortega, Ramírez, Román, Tortajada, Vázquez, Zamorano

Generally, Argos is considered the armed branch of The Church, since The Dominion always has exerted a huge influence on it. However, the principality is very powerful, able to act of independently without having to answer to anybody. Before the fall of The Empire it had a lot of influence in The High Senate, and even now, its reputation is still recognized by both Abel and The Azur Alliance.

Argos possesses a vast area of land that makes it the fourth largest principality in The Old Continent. Unfortunately, more than half its surface is composed of bleak moors and large stony deserts, which greatly reduces the size of the living spaces. It also involves an intricate network of mountain ranges that considerably impede travel through interior. The climate is very diverse; while the north is moderate and peaceful, the south is dry and rough, with strong winds continuously ravaging its great deserts. Most of the people of Argos converge in the north, where there are many villages and several cities. The south, with all its shortcomings, is less populated, although there are also some villages and ports.

The principality retains the advanced system legal of The Empire though, like The Dominion, the punishments for religious crimes are very serious.

It is said that Argos has one of the largest armies in Gaia, with well-equipped soldiers prepared for war. If this wasn’t formidable enough, the nation has many organizations of crusaders whom, even if they are not under the direct command of Argos ruler, devoutly support the principality and its ideals.

The lord of Argos is King Guillermo Andreas II de La Rocha del Castillo y del Monte, an enterprising, idealistic man of strong character. Guillermo, who takes full account of the views of his people, usually surrounds himself with many advisors representing the nobility and the clergy of the principality. Of these stand out Cardinal Salvador Meruelo, who is a close friend of the monarch. Some say that Meruelo has, in the shadows, almost as much power as the king himself.

Following the edict concerning the religion the Empress has proclaimed, Argos has followed the example of The Dominion, immediately withdrawing its presence from The High Senate. Although it has made no official proclamation concerning its independence from The Empire, its actions have clearly placed it at the level of any other separatist principality.

Presently, the nation has focused its interest on its eastern border, since it is no secret that an enormous hatred between Argos and Kushistan has existed for centuries. Both countries have been long desired to destroy one another, and only the presence of The Empire has prevented an outbreak of war between them. Now, without the supervision of Abel, it is expected that both nations will initiate an open conflict soon.

Culture and SocietyEdit

Argos is a nation of old customs and ancient traditions that lives bound to its history. Its inhabitants are often as proud and stubborn as they are courageous, because that is how they have learned to live.

The society of Argos is remarkably feudal. Each district is governed by a noble house and supervised by a canon, which shows the great importance of religion in the principality. The nobility of the nation is very chivalrous and bears a close relationship to The Church. It is customary for aristocrats to bequeath their titles and possessions to the first-born son, and that the other heirs take up church careers.

There is a remarkable difference between the northern and southern parts of the principality, due to the different living conditions. In the south, which has many more amenities, there are large cities and traditional manufacturing which competes on equal terms with livestock and agriculture. By contrast, people living in the south are far behind, as the vast desert distances slow travel between one village and another, which in practice are virtually cut off. These people survive however they can, cultivating the land and caring for their small livestock.

Proud to defend their religion and their nation (in that order), the male population is drafted for military service during a period of six months, although many of them choose to make the army their profession. Those who belong to families of ancestry or who demonstrate exceptional talent for weapons can join any of the known organizations of crusaders, that are undoubtedly some of the most admired and respected individuals of Argos.

Regarding the SupernaturalEdit

Argos differs little from The Dominion when dealing with supernatural powers. To its people, any kind of inexplicable power not officially sanctified by The Church, is considered demonic and must be stopped or destroyed.

Normally, Argueses take a very active role in the pursuit of the supernatural. Not only are there civil groups that work to support The Inquisition, but also when somebody sees or suspects the existence of a “witch”, they usually form a hunting party to capture it. Sometimes, dragged down by hatred and agitation, a lynching is carried out in which the victims end up burning or drowning without a trial. The Church does not have too much sympathy for such actions, not only by the fact that sometimes some innocents were executed, but also because it restricts their authority.

The History of ArgosEdit

Before the arrival of The Messiah, the territories of Argos were called The Gray Mark and were considered a dark area populated by many people and ethnicities. Abel changed the face of this land when, after an attack orchestrated by the Order of Yehudah, he declared the start of the War of the Cross, proclaiming the formation of The Kingdom of Heaven. The men of The Gray Mark soon took up arms beside him, becoming the bulk of his armies. With the death of The Messiah, the territory came under the control of the Apostle Julian de Zed, who dubbed it the Holy Kingdom of Argos. During the next few centuries it grew into a powerful country, regarded as one of the most militaristic nations in the age of man.

Fatefully, all its warlike power wasn’t enough to halt the combined advancement of Rah’s forces, when they unexpectedly attacked its borders halfway through the second century. Although it desperately endured the assault and managed to resist for several months (which gave rise to numerous epic legends), all its hopes were dashed at the time when Serreno, one of the greatest human strongholds at that time, was destroyed in just a day by just three members of The Conclave. The Argueses were forced to retreat into the mountains and stone deserts, where they began a long and successful guerrilla war. The conclusion of the conflict left the kingdom in ruins, but not completely destroyed. The overall resistance strove to restore what little they had left while trying to contact Aeolus, who had become a legend throughout Gaia. Argos was the only nation that sought the Emperor out to request joining the Abel Empire, which is why their monarch was the only one who held the title of king from the beginning. Thus, it became the southern frontier of The Empire, even before Lucrecio annexed it.

Argos soon initiated skirmishes with Kushistan, a nation that always had coexisted in bad terms with the principality because of the religious discrepancies of both cultures. The tension increased, and in the year 245, the Kushistani armies did a surprise attack on Argos borders, achieving important victories over the frontier cities. Thus began The Desert Wars, which lasted for two years until Abel’s forces directly disembarked on the shores of Kushistan.

The Argueses did not welcome the incorporation of the Al-Enneth nation to Imperial crown, and these enmities did nothing more than increase with the pressures of The Church. During the following centuries, Argos and Kushistan would enter war under the supervision of Abel over a dozen times, emerging victorious in eight of them. But despite their military successes, around the 6th century bad harvests and the long periods of droughts threw the principality to a strong economic recession, which it only managed to leave thanks to the large subsidies provided by The Dominion. This further reinforced the mutual need of both nations, and the influence that the canons began to exert on the indebted nobles.

Recently the principality has revisited serious conflicts with Kushistan. In just a year and a half, as chaos erupted throughout the Empire with the appointment of Eljared as Supreme Archbishop, King Guillermo’s fiancé, Lady Monica Miro, disappeared under mysterious circumstances. So far, the most widespread theory is that she was kidnapped by a group of fanatic followers of Jihamath, but since there was no solid evidence, they did not initiate revenge. Now, The Dominion strongly supports Argos, urging it to start a holy war and to exterminate its ancestral enemies once and for all.

The War with KushistanEdit

While it’s true that the main antagonism between the two nations is due to differences in religious beliefs, this is not remotely the only reason why the aristocrats of Argos want to start a war with Kushistan. The truth is that, for many years, the Arges nobility is keen on gaining commercial control of the large Kushistani cities, as well as exploiting the operations in The Samutai Mountains, one of the greatest natural resource areas in Gaia.

To date, Imperial supervision has made impossible to start a true war between both principalities but now, without the rules of Abel Empire over them, both The Church and the nobility of Argos are inciting an increasingly imminent conflict. The two nations know they must work carefully, because although The Dominion completely supports Argos, Kushistan has the aid of Estigia and Salazar. Either way, the borders have become a real hotbed, and violent clashes have already taken place ending with numerous casualties. Only a miracle can stop the imminent launch of a new holy war.

Relevant Geographical FeaturesEdit

The vast principality of Argos has a great variety of natural features, most notably the maze-like network of mountain ranges found in its central part and the great stone deserts of The Gray Mark.

The Gray Mark: The southern part of the country still receives the same name that was known there before the arrival of The Messiah. The Gray Mark is a large inhospitable desert area, with high temperatures during the day (usually exceeding 80 degrees Fahrenheit) and very cold nights. The deserts, stone gorges, and great canyons ravaged by erosion abound everywhere. There are also many natural craters, from among which “The Fingers of God” lie, five huge chasms of great depth that resemble the mark that a hand leaves when pressing on the ground. Occultists and magicians that visit the zone always claimed that there is something unusual about them, but have never been able to give it a good investigation.

There are numerous villages in The Mark. Their people live completely isolated from the rest of the world, but increasingly more and more young ones are deciding to take a trip to the north, which endangers the continuity of many towns. There are also several ruins prior to The War of God, both human cities as well as some unknown civilizations.

Unusual predators plague the territory, most notably a silent gray feline called acinonyx, whose most striking feature is the long tentacle coming directly out of their heads. These animals were commonly used by the Duk´zarist as hunting companions and have a great killer instinct.

Llanoverde: Opposite The Gray Mark, the lands of the northern region of Argos get this name from their abundant crops and healthy livestock. Llanoverde is full of small woods and lots of hills that give a green color to their landscapes. The strong winds that often blow have led to the creation of hundreds of windmills, one of most characteristic parts of the landscape.

Serra Mountain Range: Serra is one of the three great mountain ranges that divide the heart of Argos. Located in the western sector, it presents a complex shaped of arc that extends chaotically. Most peaks of Serra have little altitude and, though full of steep slopes, the area is accessible. Centuries ago, the Argueses were forced to take refuge in these mountains as a result of the conflict with the armies of Judas, and many traces of crevices and hiding places that were used around that time still remain.

Elisalda Mountain Range: Also called The Mountains of Elisalda by their small size, this rocky mass is the smallest mountain range in the principality. As the source of the Tylon River, Elisalda enjoys the richest vegetation of all the southern lands of Argos, so the mountainside is littered with small towns built on slopes of the lower hills. Just months ago, these villages have started having problems with raids from Kushistan, and more than one has been completely destroyed. Consequently, King Guillermo has entrusted one order of crusaders to protect Elisalda, delaying further incursions.

Reiz Mountain Range (East Zone): The Reiz is much less abrupt and high in its eastern part, allowing the passage between mountains to Lucrecio. Merchants traveling from one principality to the next heavily use these roads, because it shortens the transport of goods by more than a week. Brigands have plagued the area for years, and some bands there have become almost legendary. The authorities are desperate to get rid of them, but their chivalrous behavior toward the poor (to who never attack) has made the people almost consider them local heroes.

Veracruz Passage: The zone between the Mountain Range of Serra and Eurasia is the main road that connects Ilion to other cities. The whole territory is one great Duchy belonging to the Veracruz family, one of the most powerful aristocratic houses in Argos. The Veracruz has always been highly acclaimed by its people, until only seven years ago when Duke Iñigo came to power, after the death of his father and the mysterious disappearance of his older brother. Iñigo has shown to be a heartless man, who has no qualms when it comes to taxes and subjecting his people to terrible injustices. He also has the unconditional support of the priest Diego Garcia, a member of the Order of Yehudah who wants to extend his power in the principality thanks to the Veracruz. Combined, their crimes know no limits.

All this has impelled many men, until then honest, to form bands of heavily armed bandits and assault travelers crossing the Veracruz Passage. Carlos de Zalte commands the most famous of these groups, who is known for his cleverness and chivalry. The famous outlaw is actually Javier de Veracruz, the brother of Iñigo, whom The Duke ordered imprisonment to claim the inheritance of his father. After remaining five years in confinement, Javier has managed to escape, vowing to put an end to the injustices of his brother.

The Lake of The Crowing Rooster: Located at the intersection of the Eurasia Mountain Range, this lake originated over a century ago during a rainy season. The water accumulated in caves of the mountains, until the weight caused a flood in Montemolino Valley, swallowing up the village that stood there in a single night. Its entire population died; no one escaped the flood. The people of the area tell that, when the disaster happened, all the roosters in the surrounding regions woke up in the middle of the night and began to crow madly.

Today, more than 100 years later, the area has changed little since the lake is fed by several underground springs that keep water levels fairly stable. The Crowing Rooster is rich in fish, particularly in a species of gray back pike that is very popular. How those fish ended up nesting there has no explanation. Several fishermen say that if you stay the night, you can hear the ringing of the church bells of the Montemolino church, calling the dead. When people hear them, they gather their things and run as fast as they can from the area, fearing misfortune befalling them; perhaps the walking dead cannot rest peacefully.

Lightless Halls
One of the deep chambers of The Lightless Halls
Steele771stAdded by Steele771st

Eurasia Mountain Range: Eurasia is the most rugged and mazelike of the three central mountain ranges in Argos. Highly fragmented, it extends east of the principality both separating it from Kushistan and offering a fantastic natural protection from any attack coming from the lands of Al-Enneth. The mountains lack any easy footholds, so people generally consider it impassable. Devoid of vegetation, gold mines or other resources, Erasia rouses little interest among the people of Argos.

Despite this popular idea, the depths of the mountain hide one of the greatest and complex underground buildings in Gaia, called by the few that know it “The Lightless Halls.” This endless network of maze-like tunnels is full of so many spacious chambers that they could hold entire cities… and is possible that they did it in the past, because several of them contained ancestral buildings. The caves are spread over levels, even beyond the mountain range itself, and descend to the bowels of the earth. They are so wide and deep that no one has yet been able to determine their true size. Although most of the chambers of The Lightless Halls remain empty, strange creatures and violent supernatural entities inhabit others. Some of them are enormously powerful, and it’s hard to understand why they live there.

The existence of The Halls stays secret to normal people; only Tol Rauko and some organizations, like Samael and Black Sun (who make incursions inside looking for all kinds of goods), currently know where they are, and by all means do not reveal its existence to others.

There are many entrances to The Lightless Halls, mostly inside some caves of Eurasia Mountain Range. Several are sealed by Tol Rauko, but there are certainly still many that neither them nor Black Sun have discovered.

Places of InterestEdit

Argos is one of the principalities with the most cities and towns, especially in the north. Unfortunately, The Church has destroyed most ancient ruins and buildings, and there are very few left that are still relevant.

IlionEdit

(Metropolis, Population 292,000+)

Ilion, capital of Argos, is a well-known mythical city in every corner of Gaia. It’s called both “The City of The Holy War” and “The Gate to the Kingdom of Heaven”. Its fame is rooted in the fact that it was in here where The Messiah took up arms and declared the beginning of the Wars of The Cross after receiving an attack orchestrated by the Order of Yehudah.

It is located at the heart of Argos, in a large circular plain between the Mountain Range of Serra and the Erasia Range. The city has a serious style, typical of the past, and almost all their buildings are made with stone. Except in its central district, the streets are unpaved, although they have recently installed a lighting system similar to the one in Archangel.

During the formation of The Empire and before the creation of The Dominion, many priests felt that Ilion should be the heart of The Church. The whole city has large churches, most notably the Cathedral of the Redeemer, home of Cardinal Salvador Meruelo, the greatest exponent of The Church in the Principality. Cardinal Salvador is a very manipulating as well as pragmatic man, and also one of the main instigators in the war against Kushistan.

The most well-known place is the Square of Tears, the monumental white marble esplanade where The Messiah fought for the first time. The square houses a large number of statues dedicated to the most famous saints in history, as well as hosting The Chapel of War, where they keep the sword that Abel hoisted for the first time before forging his Lawmaker and the ones of his Apostles. Despite having no power, the symbol has accompanied to the kings of Argos throughout history, and Argueses consider it the emblem of holy war. If war with Kushistan erupted, nobody doubts that King Guillermo would demand it.

The legend has turned Ilion into a true hotbed of young knights aspiring to join some of the great crusading organizations of the principality. They come from everywhere to prove their worth, and tournaments are as common as the spectacular organized duels in the street.

The city has enormous inquisitorial tribunals, which are rumored to have executed a large number of wizards and demons. Apparently, there are several prisoners inside of them, but it’s unknown why they’re still alive. The Order of Yehudah considers Ilion a wicked symbol opposing everything that they represent, which is why they want to see it reduced to ashes. For that reason, the dark society of wizards has several of its members in the metropolis, whose sole purpose is to generate chaos and make sure that, if war does erupt, Kushistan could destroy it.

Guillermo Andreas II de La Rocha del Castillo y del Monte himself rules the city, who lost some of his entrepreneurial character after the disappearance of his fiancée. Now, his majesty feels imprisoned by a dark anger, and blames the followers of Jihamath for what happened.

SerranoEdit

(Fortress, Population 9,000+)

In the past, Serrano was one of the largest fortifications of man, an unyielding bastion that was considered invincible. The myth finished when just three members of The Conclave were able to raze it to the ground, destroying the greatest symbol of power in Argos. Serrano started to rebuild years after the end of the war, but various problems delayed the work for more than a century. Finally, in the year 472 the fortress was finished.

Serrano is located on the Seldo Plateau, in the north corner of the Eurasia Mountain Range, an unmatched strategic location for the control of Argos. The bastion was built with the ancient customs from the time of The Messiah, so it lacks many of the current Imperial advances. Still, it remains an almost impregnable fortress because of its seven heavy layers of walls. It’s under the control of the King’s armies, but The Crusaders of the Holy Mountains moved there less than a decade ago to reinforce the garrison of the fortress.

Ignacio de La Roca, marshal of The Crusaders, cousin of King Andreas and current lord of The Knights of Argos, leads Serrano. He has a reputation for being an invincible warrior, and his love of battle leads him to accept any challenge that comes his way. Many teenagers with wild reputations have tried their luck, as well as many accomplished fighters, but to date, the Lord of Serrano remains unbeaten.

PylaiaEdit

(Metropolis, Population 172,000+)

The second largest city in the principality is Pylaia, a city as proud as it is wealthy. Until recently it was the only city trading with the Enneath, and their people have always desired the economic power of their traditional enemies.

The city, near the border of Kushistan, has recently become a hotbed of tension. The sudden cessation of trade threatens to ruin many families of high birth. As a solution, the nobility began to invest large sums of money in forges and weapons business, preparing the principality for a future conflict.

Compared to the other cities in Argos, Pylaia is quite modern, since due to the heavy investment from noble families, it’s managed to create an archaic sewage system and artificial lighting for the wealthiest neighborhoods. Their people are proud of being the ones with the greatest spending power in the principality, feeling like the aristocracy of the nation.

For months, many farmers have begun to migrate to Pylaia fearing the war looming on the horizon. The city no longer is capable of supporting a larger population, so that the newcomers are now camped out in the suburbs using hundreds of canvas tents. King Guillermo has strengthened the defenses of Pylaia by sending several garrisons to the area, just as it has mobilized a large number of crusaders.

Medina del MonteEdit

(City, Population 30,000+)

Medina is one of the major cities of Argos, ruled by the widow Duchess Lady Carlota de Bosqueblanco, an old cunning woman like the devil himself and twice as merciless. Under her leadership, the city operates like the gears of a clock, offering an example of self-sufficiency and effectiveness.

The canon Elias de Mazariaga, a stern and harsh man and member of the Ministry for the Conservation of The Faith, is the personal consort to the Duchess and he advises her on all the terms, including meting out justice.

Everything in Medina del Monte works perfectly, from the nearby farms of the surrounding villages to the manufacturing of the various guilds. The taxes are collected on time and the soldiers of the city keep crime at bay. In addition, churches are always packed with devotees and the populace maintains a pious attitude. The flag of Argos waves on all the towers as a reminder of who owns the lives of its people. The Duchess maintains the institutions created by her late husband, like The Weapon Academy, where all farmers must dedicate 20 days out of the year to military training (their spearmen are quite famous). This allows the people in Medina to kept their combat skill more or less intact.

Several members of Samael live in the city, though they have never caused the slightest problem for its people, who are totally unaware of their existence.

BastionblancoEdit

(City, Population 22,000+)

Neighbor and rival of Medina del Monte, Bastionblanco is known for the exceptional quality of its horses, the result of a series of crossbreeding with Kushistan thoroughbreds. Thanks to their animals the famous order of the Crusaders of the White Cross, which has its headquarters in the city, has become one of the most admired light cavalry in the country.

The Lord of Bastionblanco is Duke Sergio de Garragris, nicknamed “The Lynx” both for his political skills as for his hobby of training hunting felines. The Duke is a gray-haired man, accustomed to few pleasures (reading is his only hobby). He has never harbored any interest other than a job well done, and so far has not had time to look for a wife. Sergio is unaware of it, but one of the servants in his house, Remy Miyuki (Daimah) it is the Archon of Samael in the city, who has been madly in love with him for many years.

CerezomuertoEdit

(Town, Population 500+)

Cerezomuerto, one of the many tiny towns of The Gray Mark, would not deserve to appear in this section if it wasn’t for one detail: it is the largest group of heretics in Argos. The village, which gets its name from the barren land that surround it, radically changed over two decades ago with the arrival of a young girl with hair as black as the night called Agatha. After being adopted by a family, in a few days everyone witnessed how her benefactor’s garden improved in a surprising way. Some neighbors approached Agatha to request farming advice from her and she helped as much as she could. The fields that had never before provided abundant harvests began offering fruit, and gradually the lives of the villagers improved thanks to the mysterious girl. However, the local parish priest accused Agatha of witchcraft and threatened to go to The Inquisition or burn her on the spot if she did not leave. In a heated moment, he had a bonfire ready to burn her, but in the end the angry villagers ended up burning him instead.

Since then, the locals have been slowly sinking into depravity in exchange for an easy life, until everyone began practicing witchcraft. Once a month, they must make a human sacrifice on the night of the new moon, which is why they capture lone travelers crossing The Gray Mark, or even kidnap people from other villages. Agatha rules the town, a faithful follower of the Delkavir Abbadon who transcended her human condition due to his dark gifts. She has not aged a year from the moment she arrived at Cerezomuerto, and soon plans to leave the city in the hands of her lieutenants, Bernardine, Amador and Ignacio, her top three apprentices of her dark teachings. If Agatha has any plans for the future, only she knows them.

BohilesEdit

(Town, Population 1,500+)

This town, situated in a hidden area of the Serra Mountain Range within The Gray Mark, was the main stronghold of the Arges resistance during The War of God. Although over the years its precarious location has caused many to leave town, the pride of its people, all expert mountaineers, prevent them from leaving their ancestral home.

All the people of Bohiles go through extensive training when they are just children, and some feel that, despite the lack of quality equipment, they are by far the best fighters in the principality.</p>

VallsEdit

(Town, Population 1,800+)

Valls is a town in The Gray Mark that was created in something less than 80 years. Its people are of the ethnic group tayahar originating from Kushistan, who left their lands because of their religious beliefs; they are all devout Alkaviasts and could not stand the treatment they received in their country. Despite their devotion, the people of Argos have never trusted them, thinking that they are spies or wizards. In these moments of tension, a small detachment of soldiers has been sent to the town, believing that its people are the cause of the attacks on villages in the Elisalda Mountain Range. In truth, the people of Valls aren’t even slightly connected to these events, but if they aren’t extremely careful, they may face serious problems.

Other Settlements: The Towers, Valentia, San Lorenzo, Ribera.

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