The Kingdom of Sondesgrade
The Duchy of Silache
The Barbary States
Lasea is a small chain of islands formerly controlled by a small handful of states, each one descended from the Kingdom of Sondesgrade in some way or another. The hallmark of the chain is the large volcano equidistant between all the islands known as the Maw, said to be the result of the spirit Helios punching the ocean after a conflict with Eschen. The Maw, obviously, formed all the other lands in due time.
The native people of Lasea, a highly superstitious group of tribes known as the First Islanders, claim to have been on the island since the planes last touched. Whether or not there’s any truth to that is up to speculation. Mysterious ruins scattered around the islands give some credence to these rumors.
Both sides enjoy a grand naval tradition; the seas themselves have been ruled by Sondesgradian and Silachian sailors for many years, with both sides occasionally engaging the grand lines of battle that dictate naval warfare. Sondesgrade’s preference towards mages shows here, especially; pyromancers and aquamancers are common sights aboard the grand galleons.
The nations themselves are not particularly against selling their naval prowess, either - or using it to defend themselves. Isegradian and Arlandian interference alike has been pushed away with pen, sword, or when needs must - canister and solid shot. The Duchy of Silache, however, tends to find itself oddly aligned with the Empire of Isegrad at times - courting favor where it may.
Through history, the Lasean Islands have suffered much hardship. The oceans are harsh, the massive volcano that both gives life and takes it - and provides valuable sulfur - both lash the islands with threats. The seas are often difficult to travel, and the skies often dark with thick, choking ash. Yet the people of Lasea and it's nations survive, through sheer will - or learned skill. The harsh nature of their lands has given them all an iron spirit, backed by steel, blood, and sweat. These events are - by folklore, religion, and a little bit of genuine truth - said to be the result of the waxing and waning of the worship of Helios and Eschen; When one falls out of favor, they strike and make their wrath known until balance is restored.
Up until recently, the islands have been completely isolated from the rest of the world by these treacherous storms, with only the occasional ship daring to brave the roiling seas to reach the distant shores of Sarea, or other lands. Now, the storms abate - for a period of time, as Helios's worship swings towards a historical low, and these nations once more, are opened to the world beyond.
The Kingdom of Sondesgrade
The Kingdom of Sondesgrade is the forerunner nation to all others within Lasea. The Kingdom itself is around two hundred years old, established in 815 AC. A relatively young Kingdom, Sondesgrade has been rife with strife for a significant portion of its history. The Duchy of Silache is it’s principal rival on an economic and military standpoint. The Kingdom of Sondesgrade has an approximate population of 60,000.
Founded by Sondesgrade I, the Kingdom found a relatively solid niche in exporting educated scholars, among other agricultural products. As with any kingdom, there was also a substantial irregular population within the nation, offering their services across Rhyst. One of the major groups active within the Kingdom was the Soothsayers, a group of powerful mages said to be able to peer into the future. They are rumored to have had strong connections with the royal family, and enjoyed tremendous influence. These same rumors claimed they were on the verge of some kind of breakthrough when a plot against the royal family struck.
The War of Succession in 915 AC saw roughly half of Sondesgrade’s land ceded to the rebellious Duchess Silache II, who had raised an army against the heir-apparent King Sondesgrade III. The war lasted for approximately ten years. The Demarcation line was drawn at an impassable ridge on the middle-most island between the two nations. Baron Kanta also seized the opportunity to raise an army to take control of a former Barbary Island, and secede from Sondesgrade.
The Kingdom of Sondesgrade is not strictly a kingdom. The Commons Of The Land is a council made up of elected land-holders, who represent their constituents in matters relating to the nation, most often bringing issues to the attention of the Monarchy. The Monarchy maintains supreme rule over the land, but has over time allowed the people to largely govern themselves - so long as the taxes are paid.
The Kingdom of Sondesgrade has no official religion, but previously - before the War of Succession - had a state religion of worshiping Amada and Helios. The nation tends to trend towards the worship of Rhystian spirits such as Amada and Zephyr in the mainlands, with the northernmost regions trending towards the worship of Zeal. Organizations such as the Church of Light enjoy a near-state level of sponsorship, either from private citizens, or the Royal Family itself. The Royal Family, however, has no power to declare a state religion without thoroughly overstepping it's bounds. A plot against the royal family has resulted in the Kingdom of Sondesgrade being very quiet indeed; nobody is quite sure what happened, but very little has been seen of the royal family since that day - until recently. The great galleons of Sondesgrade sail again, under the royal blue and gold banner, seeking long-lost members of the royal family.
The Duchy of Silache
Founded by Duchess Silache I, the Duchy of Silache is the rival nation of the Kingdom of Sondesgrade. Formed during a rebellion sparked by a crisis of succession, the Duchy split off from a politically weak Kingdom. Without the political will to raise an army to retake the land, the Duchy was given plenty of time to raise an army of its own to defend itself. The Duchy of Silache is ruled as a typical feudal state, with absolute power being concentrated within the Monarchy.
In contrast, once more, to Sondesgrade, the Duchy does have a state religion. Eschen enjoys a significant amount or worship from the Duchy's populace, as worshipping anyone else is - as the saying goes - apostasy against the state.
There are no male heirs to the Duchy. Only women are allowed to reign over the nation, in a decree handed down by Duchess Silache I; women are in general, seen as the head of the household.. In contrast to the relatively libertarian ideals of the Kingdom of Sondesgrade, which sprung up in the aftermath of the War of Succession, the Duchy has relatively little interest in allowing the common people to govern themselves, and a policy of exiling those convicted of ‘apostasy to the state’ to the Barbary Islands. The population has no grand education programs - only enough to keep the gears of the military going, and the farms productive. Knowledge is a most potent weapon in the wrong hands.
The Duchy heavily prefers companies of mana-fusiliers over traditional mages and knights, ensuring that the secrets of magic stay safely in the hands of the Royal Court and their articifiers. The only exception to this rule is the Duchess’s Own Voltiguers, an elite unit specifically assigned to protecting the ruling family of Silache. This all-male unit is among the most loyal of the Duchy’s military, and typically serve for life - or until they are too old to continue to serve.
From time to time, the Duchy of Silache and Kingdom of Sondesgrade engage in brief conflicts, often over portions of the single island they share, or trade disputes. The duchy uses the conflicts as a reason to keep it’s people brutally repressed and uneducated, citing that the needs of national defense exceed those of the populace’s wants.
The Duchy is said to have suffered greatly when it’s coastal capital of Silache was flooded during a great calamity. Whether or not the family of Duchess Silache II survived is unknown - it seems, however, that the iron grip on it's citizens has loosened just enough for emigration to happen. Tensions with Sondesgrade, however, remain at an all-time high.
The Barbary States
Ruled by Lord Kanta, the Barbary States are a loose collection of brigands, unfortunate souls, outcasts, neerdewells, and others branded undesirable by both Sondesgrade and Silache. The States hold little of value in terms of arable land, timber, and other such resources; they’re mainly useful to the two larger states as a dumping ground.
The Barbary States are more than they appear. In 933 AC, the Duchy attempted to invade and subdue the islands with a grand armada of vessels. The rag-tag assemblage of fleets that bore the black flag of the Barbary States surely couldn’t put up a meaningful fight against galleons laden with cannons and mana-fusiliers. That’s what everyone surely thought - that the fleet which was raised by the - at the time unknown - ‘Lord Kanta’ - would be crushed, and the islands rapidly subdued.
Everyone was shocked when Lord Kanta unleashed a clever weapon; themself.
Lord Kanta, before their exile, had evidently been a powerful mage in the service of the very same Duchy that had now come to seize what Kanta had taken as her own. The Lord, using magic long since branded as forbidden - which was all magic within the Duchy - , transposed themself onto the flagship of the Fleet - a massive galleon, laden with gunpowder, troops, and the leadership of the fleet.
Using a powerful pyromancy spell, Kanta obliterated the flagship in an enormous conflagration. The resulting fireball sent the invading armada into chaos, sails ripped, hulls sundered - and the very head of the lion cut off.
Without leadership and in so much chaos, the Grand Armada was cut down little by little by the smaller, outmatched fleet of the Barbary States.
Since that day, neither Silache nor Sondesgrade have dared to raise a fleet to deal with the pirate problem - much more content to employ the various warlords in their unending proxy-conflict than actually suffer a loss dealing with the issue - and even their fleets show caution at the sight of a black flag atop a mast.
The Barbary States are ruled by a council of warlords, each vying for territory, control, and resources. But they all answer to an enigmatic figure known as Kanta. Kanta’s word is absolute, and more than one person has been burned alive for daring to even slightly step out of line. Blood runs the Barbary States; and so long as the blood flows from the outcasts of the Empires, then the Barbary States will always flourish.
The warlords of the Barbary States make good coin from the ever-present proxy jockeying of the Kingdom and Duchy; they don’t ask too many questions, and they either die - or come back richer than ever, if the royals can stomach the idea of paying such filth.