Though a land of rice farmers, Balthazor is notorious for the constant pallor that hangs over it. The sun does shine, though very rarely in the land of the Necromancers. Word of spectacular sunrises and sunsets that can be witnessed on the peaks of the Sturrbith Mountains in the eastern baronies has been rumored, but few are brave enough to travel so high. Rainfall is prevalent and makes this region darker and more dismal than its neighbors. Without the perpetual gloom and regular precipitation on the step-layered hills of the western baronies that border Arboria and the low-lying swampy Requiem, the rice paddies of Balthazor would not be the center of rice production that they are in the civilized world of Hyathis.
While the dead ran rampant here for what seemed "tendays of forever," the steadfast people of Balthazor are hardy folk who tend to their tasks and do not easily part with their holdings. The rice farmers are sturdy and reliable. The fishermen that hug the north coast are rugged and constant as the rain and the mountains. The geomancers working in rock high in the Sturrbiths supply the region with most of her stonework. Dotted with high mountain lakes, forests of iron wood and other species of tree, and a growing swamp in Requiem, the region is well reflected in the quiet and reserved demeanor of its people and reverberates with a noble heart that beats in the land of the undead. The music of stringed instruments, woodwinds and drums is popular. Balthazorian musicians study for years to make the kitars, goblet-shaped frame drums called tabl'buka, and ironwood derukovol. It is unfortunate that outside the borders of the region typically only the dirges of the dead are heard, as those dismal tunings are only a small part of the passion, mystery, and grandeur that is Balthazor.
In Chillset, 1277, great destruction occurred in Balthazor when the Nexus Portal to the Outlands collapsed. The ley lines sent forth gouts of magical power of all gifts throughout the land and Balthazor was hit very hard. One of the most significant changes in the region occurred off the coast of the northern shore. La Muerte de Vi was split from one island into two - one larger than the other - by an earthquake. The resulting wave headed toward the Frigin Sea and the uninhabited islands to the north. Irmaa remains silent. Some portals were permanently closed and others have appeared in Requiem but have not yet been tested. It is not known how long those portals will last or if they are stable, but will be investigated as soon as the damage is assessed and repairs underway. The process of recovery is slow. Fortunately, with limited to no trade in recent years, Balthazor has a large supply of preserved foodstuffs to feed the remaining population. The dead are being burned to prevent the spread of disease and the rise of undead due to pockets of wild magic leftover after the disaster. The baronies of the region are reestablishing communication with the seat of Government in Nearcoven.
The long standing Monastery of the Black Branch was destroyed as violent tremors sheared the off the top of the mountain on which it was built. Padrical City was heavily damaged by the quake and the fires that were a result of the cataclysm. Many villages were affected by the quake with a few vanishing altogether. Water poured into a depression that had been a trading outpost just to the south of Padrical City. It took a few days for the hole left by the quake to fill, and when it was done, there was a new lake in the barony. As residents all over the barony began to shamble out of what was left of their towns and homes, undead began to ravage the area. Battles with the undead, and the events of the cataclysm devastated entire contingents of the Army under General Rourke's command, as well as many units of the Black Branch. It appears that Padrical might be lost to outsiders, though from inside, Baroness Rourke is attempting to re-establish order. Malcoven has had contact with Padrical and sent units of the Guard to assist in the cleanup and disposal of the dead and undead. Fires raged day and night in the mountains to deal with the bodies. As a result, the Malcoven Guard is fast becoming the defining military force in Balthazor.
On the 26th of Meridian, 1278, Middleland and Shadowplain baronies suffered a major earthquake. Geomancers in the Regent's employ suggest that the earthquake was an echo; magic leftovers of the great cataclysm of 1277. They have been ordered to keep watch on the area. The Regent has sent army troops to maintain order and to erect fences around the ragged edges of the fissure that spans many miles until the geomancers can travel the rim of the chasm and do it properly. The collapse of great tracts of land left Balthazor with a deep, smoking fissure spanning the Middleland and Shadowplain baronies, At the widest point, surveyed by aeromancers, the chasm measured 20 miles across. It was estimated that thousands in northern Shadowplain and throughout Middleland perished. Survivors were still being relocated to other baronies with the help of generously donated coin, goods and transportation from wealthy houses in Nekroli, Malcoven and Padrical as of Fadefrost 1279. No one has seen Ferin Wismuller, Baroness of Shadowplain, or Basil Ludwig, Baron of Middleland, since the quake.
The Regent dispatched an edict in Fadefrost of 1279 that the Middleland barony be divided between Nearcoven to the north, Riverside to the east, and Shadowplain to the south according to the lay of the Abysmal Chasm's edges. Cole Voss in Stonetimber made a successful play for a share as soon as the tremors from the quake settled. With no ruler in Shadowplain, Voss managed to extend Stonetimber's boundaries far into Shadowplain. The extent of his takeover of that barony is not yet fully known. With no ruler in Shadoplain, the Regent has urged Padrical to spread to the east to protect against Voss gaining too great a hold in the south.
For many years Irmaa Vep was not only the Archmagess of Necromancy, but also ruled Balthazor from the Bone Throne seated in the High Necropolis in Malcoven. The Government was straightforward: Irmaa ruled, the Barons -- nobles of influence -- ruled beneath her. The Barons were often Necromancers themselves and granted their lands by the power of the Archmagess. They would meet with Irmaa in the High Necropolis to offer tribute and report on their businesses. Their rule was autonomous in their own lands and pleasing the Archmagess was easy enough. Then, for a period of thirteen years from 1262 through 1275, the Archmagess was not seen by her people at all. The Belladonna Sodality took it upon themselves to murder all the Necromancers they could find, leaving the undead to run rampant throughout Balthazor, spilling dangerously over into other regions. The Region was in chaos.
The Klockwork Master rose in Balthazor, deposed Tumian Dreven and set Klockwork Captain Tharius to resolve the undead problem. Tharius was brutally successful.
In 1272 Renol 'The Black Vine' Duvualt endeavored to take the Archmagess' place, claiming that he had murdered her. Perhaps knowing she was indeed not dead, he signed the Council of Barons into a governing body to help him hold power in the region. Duvualt ordered Tharius and his army to leave the region and attempted to raise his own army, re-forming to his own standards - or someone else's? - what was once a powerful and respected Order of Knights called the Black Branch. Proving him wrong about her death in 1275, Irmaa appeared to assist the Archmages when they met at the Northern Portal to repair the land's damaged magic.
The Council of Barons is young yet as a governing body. While Irmaa does not attend the Baron's meetings, and thinks that the Council of Barons is a waste of time, she has given her son, Kamal Dreven, her nod of approval. The Council decides all matters of policy to operate throughout the baronies. The confidence of the people in it waxes and wanes as it sometimes trips over the decisions made. While each Baron has power over in his or her own Barony within the region, no one Barony may war against another region without the support of the council. Trade agreements and foreign policy are decided by the Council. Barons may choose a successor or may be deposed through assassination. The Council has yet to rule this time-honored practice as illegal region wide. The Barons may and do form alliances among themselves, though such alliances were far more effective before the Council was considered a "unified" ruling body. Still, if a well-liked Baron or Baroness is deposed from rule, the Council may choose to step in if the successor is not suitable, not amenable to council decisions or proves to be something of a tyrant to the people of the barony. Such a tyrant may or may not live long, depending on his level of power. Etrauch City is a 'free' city, large enough to not be under the control of the Baron of Stonetimber, with a vote in the council going to its Mayor.
In late 1277, Kamal Dreven took the title Regent of Balthazor, giving his son, Elazar Dreven the title of Baron of Nearcoven. Thus he holds proxy vote for his son as well as the vote of the archmagess.
Fadefrost 1279: in the continuing effort to secure the stabilization of the region Regent Dreven temporarily disbanded the Council of Barons until the relocation of all the displaced refugees of the quake and chasm is completed.
The Baronies (See the Political Map) and those who hold seats in the House of Barons (or Baron's Council) are as follows:
Those who hold the positions of ambassador are as follows:
A farming community located close to a ley line convergence during the 1277 upheaval was snuffed out and reanimated in an instantaneous upsurge of necromantic energy. Anything living that enters the "Death Zone" without protection perishes instantly and reanimates to join the undead community. The town residents continue in a parody of their former activities despite being undead, seemingly unaware of their condition.
Primary Trade: rice, Requiem Reserve, herbs
Deathsong Port is a recently built town that grew from the crazed whims of Requiem's current Baron Anton Malcus. Its foundation was laid on the remains of a old pirate fort that took hold in a inlet in Northern Requiem swamp. The Port boasts a deep channeled harbor, secure facilities and a free trade policy for any willing to follow the rules and pay the fees. Due to this policy the population of Deathsong is in constant flux. The buildings clearly show that they are newly built and lack the weathered look of most Ports. Many commodities come into Balthazor through this port, though its main exports are rice, Requiem Reserve rice wine, undead, and dried herbs for many uses including medicinal.
Primary Trade: Etrauchi sizzlewater, flax, weapons
Often called "Malcoven's sister city," Etrauch is the second-largest settlement in Balthazor, and a free city. Famous for its Grand Repository, the largest library in Balthazor, and one of the two largest in the Empire. It is said that the Repository holds books and scrolls dating back to the Lightless Age. The city is well known for its production of Etrauchi sizzlewater (or 'sizz'), flax, weapons technology and rumor. There is no school of magic, but tutors are available to teach any of the Base Magics of the Empire (even Vivomancy). There are two 'mundane' schools: Etrauch College and Khol University.
The city attracts a high element of criminal activity, boasting as many as six criminal guilds - though whatever the rumors, the 'guilds' seem to be well-controlled by a syndicate called The Sons of Voss. Unlike most Balthazoran cities, Etrauch has few undead citizens - a condition based firmly in tradition. The Etrauch City Guard is entirely human. All other races are barred from joining. (For more information and history, see: Etrauch City.)
Balthazor's capitol city is the seat of the reigning Necromantic Archmage, home of the Baron's House, and houses almost a quarter of the region's population. Balthazor's politics are played in the High Necropolis, settled within the city. Malcoven contains nearly one hundred thousand people and is fully under the Control of the reigning Necromantic Archmage. Its crowded streets are a haven for riff-raff, merchants and street peddlers. Malcoven might be the capital of the dreariest of regions, but this does not stop it from being one of the busiest. The Undead City Guard are a common sight, and only the tourists and visitors to the city seem bothered by the hideous defenders. Oddly enough, crime within Malcoven is not as rampant as one would believe for a city of its size. Whether this can be attributed to the Undead Guard or the odd occurrence of criminals reappearing as members of the guard is a theory to ponder. A major earthquake resulted from the surge of magic through the portal in Malcoven during the Cataclysm of 1277. While the portal itself was not destroyed, it spewed a necromantic magic plume for three days after the incident, devastating the sounding city. Nearly half the population of Malcoven perished in the quake, its aftershocks, and in the deadly magic fumes of the plume that spread through the streets. The Nekropolis was closed against the fumes and all within its bedrock were kept safe. The sheer number of deaths resulted in fires burning to dispose of the dead for three cycles after the incident. The city is rebuilding but many businesses were lost and its streets are certainly far less crowded.
This small, single Inn farming community is located five miles east of Malcoven.
The second largest city in Balthazor, Nekrolimani is situated between two outward-going forks of the River Udo. These branches of the river were formed in ancient times along with drumlins and crags throughout the area. One such crag, called the Strangling, separates the two branches of the river and the city sits atop it. Nekrolimani was a port and fort settlement when it was founded. The original or 'old' city is still walled in, and the 'new' city expanded outward from it, spilling off the Strangling into the lower lands, keeping the 'old' city at the northern, more protected end. Statues whose creation tale has been lost in time surround the city and one extremely massive statue stands at the edge of the Strangling. While those around the city are of men and beasts, the statue that stands at the rocky crag of the Strangling is neither. Rather, it is a tall tower with nine jagged spires rising from it. Four point to the compass points, four higher to the winds and one stands taller than the rest, a perfect sphere of obsidian used to be impaled on an apex that points to the heavens. The sphere split and was thrown down in the cataclysm of Chillset 1277 and fell into the sea.
The residence of the Baron of Nekroli, the Ossua Mikkhal, is within the old city, snugly set on an estate between two of the guardian statues. It is surrounded by well-guarded walls and boasts a full staff, including an on-premises blacksmith for the Baron's own stables. The walled grounds also include Irmaa's Reliquary, the Mikkhal family tomb which is currently devoted to the Archmagess of Balthazor.
Some other possible points of interest in the city:
Primary Trade: Requiem Reserve
This small town built on the outer edge of Requiem Swamp would barely be noted on the map if not for its biggest product, Requiem Reserve. This town is built almost totally on stilts and floating platforms and was the first in Balthazor to produce and begin shipping the wine. The Baron took notice and became an active backer in the trade. Stiltmire has a population of no more than 300 people at any given time, most being undead fighters. Given their proximity to the Swamp, these hardened people are true swamp survivors, living off the land and what the swamp provides. They are also known to hire themselves out as guides to the swamp for those daring enough to delve into the interior.
A village located on Requiem's west border, in the foothills bordering Arboria, this small settlement was founded purely by accident. A group of humans and a small clan of dwarves were fleeing the growing press of undead from the swamplands. The leader of the group, a dwarf known for his wits and heavy mace, suggested fleeing to Arboria, but they were turned back by Elven Blades at the border. He announced in a grim joke, "Well, lookin' like we're tweena rock an' a rotten place," and the name stuck. They fortified an old mine they found and settled. Now these simple folk farm the lowlands around the hills and have become skilled crafters under dwarven tutelage. The town's population saw a small growth in later years due to a trickling influx of humans leaving Arboria.
(As of early 1278) The outpouring of trade in Balthazor continues via land and sea. Deathsong Port Harbor and Nekrolimani Harbor export what goods they can, though often meet with opposition once out of port. Nekrolimani's exports are smaller scale than Deathsong's and trade occurs mostly with points along the Balthazor Northern Sea route which includes points east. Regular trade on land consists of rice, flax, weapons, wood-work, coffins, stone sculpture, Etrauchi Sizz (mineral water), Terowie Ale and several wines and liquors, Lotu'chai tea, and the rare crop of nightshade. Much of this trade occurs through portal connections as the mountains along the eastern and southern borders of Balthazor prevent most wagon trains from timely deliveries. Trade with Dreven is in negotiations with the new Steward, Kai dan Rikash. Trade with Southern Oceanuus continues as before. Trade with Thermador and Luminii is sporadic with individuals rather than the governments of those regions. There is no trade with Northern Oceanuus, and the Regent of Balthazor declared a ban on trade with Arboria until Arboria denounces the Northern Mer's involvement with a wanted criminal.
To further trade and relations with other regions, Balthazor has sent out Ambassdors. Currently, Balthazor's Ambassadors are:
Early in the year of 1273, a strange disease began sweeping through the eastern border towns of Balthazor. Symptoms included a high fever, bleeding from the pores, and a yellowing of the skin which has given rise to the name of "Bloodsun Bloom." Since it's first appearance, the disease has spread along Balthazor's border with Thermador, laying waste to entire villages. The final 24 hours of this illness are horridly painful, and the sickness spreads rapidly from person to person.
Vivomancer Terchen Yolnar from Luminii, sent to diagnose the sickness and search for a cure, is responsible for saving many with some simple hygienic practices. Vivomancy has indeed been able to turn the course of the infection, but many more healers are needed. With an escort of Black Branch Knights, the vivomancer returned to Damansque with an official request for aid to previous Archmagess Anara Midiere, though she was able to spare only limited numbers of assistants. In Yolnar's absence the dead and dying were quarantined as far away from the uninfected as possible. Once everyone in such a building was dead, the building was torched. Such practices continue as the battle against Bloodsun Bloom wages on.
Deadly virulent, outbreaks have continued to crop up all across Balthazor. If caught in the very early stages, a cure is easy. Most, however, do not feel sick until an hour or so before they begin sweating blood. At this point the victim is already considered dead. It is believed to be transferred by contact and can spread quickly in close quarters, wiping out all the residents of a single home within a matter of weeks. While early diagnosis can only be accomplished by a Vivomancer, some of the Barons have set up 'camps' in order to quarantine the infected. Anyone exposed to the illness is urged to see a healer immediately.
The plague seems to have originated within the minority population of elves scattered throughout the region. Rumors of this sickness being of elven origin are circulating and gaining support. The population of resident elves in Balthazor has been almost completely eliminated either by death from the Bloom or voluntary exodus. In some baronies, where healing camps are not accessible, those with the bloom have been euthanized to prevent the spread of the disease. The discovery that elves are being murdered has further taxed the relationship of the two regions and possibly set a fuse to war.
In the meantime, Arboria has stationed more warriors along the shared border, taking steps to prevent the spread of the plague to the Elven Nation and relations are decidedly strained.
(Click on a name to go to the character's Who's Who entry.)
|Adin Craxmullen||Cait McGill||Irmaa Vep|
|Annabeth LeGere||Ciara Bronnagh||Soledaad Rourke|
|Aristander Ioannes||Cole Voss||Tristiana Mikkhal|
|The Black Lotus|
For more information on Balthazor, contact: