- Location: Eastern Continent, Northern Kingdoms
- Government Hereditary Monarchy (Queen)
- Primary Species: Human (Alfar)
- Founded: Third Day
Soaring castle spires, marble towers, knights clad in golden armor, flowers and festivals and wonders—these are the hallmarks of Gloriana, seat of the High Queen and fairest kingdom in all the land.
In addition, it also refers to the grand capitol of the kingdom, the City-By-The-Sea. Gloriana’s authority stretches across the Northern Kingdoms, encompassing Lyteri, Borgondhi and Marchen. Only the proud, distant rulers of Emankorrak and Taranat dare defy the High Queen’s authority. Her armies are vast, her knights brave and well-armed, the magic at her command unsurpassed.
Gloriana is a hereditary monarchy, with a very powerful and influential state-sponsored religion. The throne passes to the eldest child of the current ruler, and there have been more queens than kings over the years.
The Monarch holds a great deal of authority but that power is tempered by the will of the Royal Council. When united, the Council can countermand the orders of the Crown. This is only excercised in extreme cases-most of the time, specifically crafted laws divy out authority and responsibility between the Crown and the Council.
The size of the Council varies, but three seats are always held by the Holy Kin of Our Triumphant Family, at least two by members of the university’s elder circle, and the rest by Gloriana’s various dukes. These include the current rulers of Lyteri, [[Borgondhi] and Marchen, giving the rulers of these subkingdoms at least some say in the future of the Northern Kingdoms.
Beyond the City-By-The-Sea, Gloriana itself is divided into Duchies and Earldoms. Many of these territories are based on ancient kingdoms from the time of Galadron and even earlier. A duke of Gloriana holds as much power and authority as a king of one of her client Kingdoms—sometimes even more. For example, the king of Lyteri holds the title Duke of the Western Lowlands, ruling in the name of the Crown.
Some smaller counties and sub-divisions of the Duchies are fully owned and ruled by the clergy of Our Triumphant Family. It is important not to understate the influence of the church in this kingdom.
It is the preference of the High Queen to rule through peace and wisdom. She sends diplomats and counselors to adjudicate tensions between kingdoms. Her knights ride out on quests to vanquish monsters and seek lost wonders, and only rarely have to enforce the Queen’s wishes by the sword.
The High Basilica of Our Triumphant Family can be found here. This city is the stronghold of the Faith. The clergy crowns each new monarch to take the throne. The Knights of the Pendant maintain a steadfast here as well, though their headquarters can be found elsewhere.
Magic is more openly practiced and welcome here than perhaps anywhere else in the land (exempting of course the distant lands of Elam). This is largely due to the history of friendship between the elusive Alfar and the throne of Gloriana. The University was founded generations ago by a council of ten wise Alfar wizards. They have taught the arts arcane to mortal wizards ever since.
Basilica of the Golden Tree
Ruins of Galadron
History of Gloriana
The First Day
Long before Gloriana rose to power, Galadron ruled over the Northern Kingdoms. This lasted until early in the Second Day.
After thousands of years of rule, the great Northern Kingdom of Galadron fell to the talons of the Dread Wyrm, Chaun. Even in death his evil spread, devouring souls and driving the dead from The Underworld into the lands above. The ancient kingdoms of Borgondhi and Lyteri resurfaced, bound together in desperation while trying to protect their people from the Undead.
Shortly after the Bale began in earnest, Thal the Mariner gathered many of the people of the land and traveled across the cursed lands of Galadron. Through cunning, ferocity and determination, they braved the undead haunted wilds and made it to the shores. There they built a vast fleet, and fled across the Endless Ocean.
The Child Returns
Unlike the smaller Northern Kingdoms, the lands that were once Galadron saw a constant decrease of mortal population. Survivors fled away from Dreadwyrm Crag and the ruins of the CIty-Over-The-Waters, for Raivinith had dwelt there as vampire king of the land. There were more hungry and terrified dead here than anywhere else. Over time, it became a truly desolate place. The only survivors who remained were the absolutely desperate and the insanely fierce.
Centuries after the beginning of the Bale, the legend that all Glorian people cherish came to pass. A survivor of the lands of Borgondhi, a young child named Eleanor, returned from a long sojourn in the Western Continent. She arrived on the western shores unlooked for, accompanied by the feathered serpent Zyanzya, the guardian Valerian Andronicus Lefaryarte, and the lightbearer, Dîrtirith Halril. As told in the legend of the Second Day, they traveled across the Northern Kingdoms, journeyed to [[The Underworld] itself, challenged the might of the Dread Wyrm Chaun, overthrew him, and laid to rest all the fearful, hungry dead of the Northern Kingdoms.
On Blessed Child’s last day on in the Mortal World, she stood by the sea, in the same place where they’d arrived to end the Bale. On a hill overlooking land and sea, the Child anointed and blessed Gloriana I, the First Queen of the Northern Kingdoms. The Child charged the new queen to protect the land and its people until the end of time. Then, she and the gossamer-clad spirits of her Brave Mother and Kind Father ascended to the stars.
The Third Day
Construction began almost immediately. On the site where Blessed Child ascended, a chapel was built, which would one day become the Basilica of the Golden Tree. On that same hill they built a fortress to keep the people safe.
With the dead laid so suddenly to rest across the land, the first order of business was to find and gather any remaining human survivors. They flocked to the Sun Emblem of the newly founded city, inspired by the tale of the Blessed Child who’d freed them all from the Bale. People gathered faster than they could handle at first, and only careful stewardship and community enthusiasm carried them through.
Some of the first visitors of the new queen were the Alfar. They bore gifts of iridescent jewels, praise for the young queen, and an offer of friendship and shared knowledge. These first few Alfar bore with them tomes of magic, and they set about teaching Gloriana’s wisest followers the lost arts of Wizardry. This led eventually to the founding of The University that sits high in the City-By-The-Sea. Friendship between the mysterious Alfar and the Holy Kingdom has endured ever since.
Reconquest of the North
Bolstered by this magic, Gloriana soon claimed the land from the Sea to the Seolach. Before Borgondhi or Lyteri could react to the Bale, Gloriana had knights clad in gleaming mail, banners rising from once-haunted ruins, and missionaries spreading the tale of Brave Mother, Kind Father and Blessed Child. The reconquest of the Northern Kingdoms was accomplished not through superior military force, but by capturing the hearts and imaginations of all the land, from the lowliest farmers to the haughtiest earls. Facing pressure from without AND within, the kings of Borgondhi and Lyteri had little choice but to bend the knee before the new Queen and her emissaries. Gloriana I was declared High Queen of the North, Protector of Borgondhi, Lyteri and the Lands Without.
In return, those monarchs were allowed to keep their crowns, titles, and lands. Gloriana would not crush them like Galadron of old, but still remained very much in a position of authority. To bind and govern interactions between the kingdoms, Gloriana I wrote the Edict of Eric, named for the last king of Galadron. This sacred document set forth the laws that bound all people of the Northern Kingdoms. The Edict demanded the peaceful resolution of disputes, courtesy and respect for each other’s borders, compassionate treatment of the smallfolk, and placed the final power of penalty with the High Queen of Gloriana.
The Troubled Times
The process of reconquering the North was not simple or easy. Though the Northern Kingdoms knelt to the throne in Gloriana I’s time, the reign of the next several monarchs was marked with political turmoil and the lingering consequences of the Bale. Humans were not the only survivors to push back into the land—giants, dragons who lingered after Chaun’s second dragon war, monsters, fairies and other creatures returned as well.
Borgondhi in particular was beset by threats—the dragon Zonthul, the Witch of the Rattle Bog, the wild hunt of Cloigeann and other supernatural perils beset them. In Gloriana, the ancient giants of the north wandered back into the warmer lands
When the people of Borgondhi called for help, clergy and knights rode out from the Basilica of the Golden Tree and across Gloriana. Recognizing the need for champions loyal only to those in need, specifically trained to battle mystical enemies, and free to ride across the land, they made a vow on the sign of the Golden Tree. These became the Knights of the Pendant, the church militant of Our Triumphant Family. The Holy Kin swiftly recognized the new order and the King of Gloriana at the time amended the laws of the land, granting those who swore the paladin’s oath the right to ride where their hearts called them across the North.
The Invasion of Marchen
After nearly eight centuries of reign by the Queens and Kings of Gloriana, the greatest upheaval to date was brought about by Prince Geirr of Lyteri. He was eight steps from the crown, with no future ahead but a life of simple comfort. This would not suffice.
Carefully working around the laws of the Edict of Eric, Geirr traveled throughout the Northern Kingdoms, speaking with young scions of dukes, baronesses and duchesses, Lord Knights and shield maidens. He inspired them to pull up stakes and seek adventure, lands and fiefs of their own. He called to mind the tales of the Emankor Migrations, of the Dragon Wars when the Huldra did nothing to stop the bloodshed of their neighbors, of children kidnapped by the dusk elves, of fairy hunts and witchcraft. Soon he’d amassed a great host of landless nobles, free folk and mercenaries.
Geirr argued that the Edict of Eric applied only to its signatories, and that the lands of the Huldra were not a true kingdom. Recklessly he and his great host charged across the River Eibbenflow. So began the Invasion of Marchen. Clad in iron and astride great charging horses, they pushed through Huldra lands. They had enough momentum and the counsel of ambitious students of magic that their rapid strike made it all the way to the court of the huldra’s Autumn Queen. They killed her and burned her city.
The Song of Isbrand
News reached the City-By-The-Sea—the foolish prince was dead. After attacking the Huldra’s largest village and killing their queen, the huldra King at last intervened. His magic reached through the land and trapped Geirr’s army. The Prince was killed and his remaining host was desperately fighting against the huldra, a ring of spears closing around them.
A single messenger slipped through the woods, braved huldra spells and wild beasts to bring news to the Knights of the Pendant in Borgondhi. it bore the sign of Isbrand, Geirr’s trusted friend and second in command. He sent a personal plea to Regina IV, Radiant Queen of Gloriana, asking for assistance.
The news divided the Royal Council. King Joralemon II of Borgondhi insisted that they should not throw good lives after bad. The Duchess of the Western Lowlands wept for her son, the fallen Prince, and implored the Queen to salvage those who could be retrieved. The Holy Kin wanted to send an emissary to the Caonach King, asking to spare the lives of those remaining, but the Blackthorn and Wolfsbane wreath of Ri Samhradh still hung in the halls of Gloriana. Regina IV knew that by violating the Huldra’s ultimatum, AND killing one of their queens, there would be little chance for mercy. The Inner Circle of The University remained silent, refusing to speak for their elven kin, trusting the humans to make the choice they saw fit.
Though the Prince’s host had gone unblessed or sanctioned, the queen could not let so many of her subjects die, even if it were by their own foolish deeds. She sounded the call to arms. Knights of the Pendant, Vanguards of Borgondhi, Lyteri Pikemen and champion knights of Gloriana amassed once more across the river Eibbenflow and sallied forth to Isbrand’s aid.
All the Northern Kingdoms waited for news of the battle. Bells rang in every church when Isbrand and his armies were saved, but soon after, the winds blew strange across the water. Something had gone amiss. The Iron Host was nowhere to be seen, despite the mandate of the Queen that the reinforcements were to save them and escort them back to safety.
The Fourth Kingdom
Knights of the Pendant rode hard for Bravewood Abbey to bring the news, but emissaries bearing unfamiliar heraldry got there first. They sent word from Isbrand I, King of Marchen, professing his eternal loyalty to the City-By-The-Sea and adherence to the Edict of Eric.
Confusion ensued as the tale slowly became clear—Isbrand had slain Ri Samhradh in single combat. The ancient ruler of Caonach, the one who’d issued the Ultimatum of Thorns in the first place, was gone. By right of conquest, Isbrand I declared himself the King of those lands, somehow convinced a priest of Our Triumphant Family to bless his coronation, and started dividing the realm into fiefs for his most loyal followers in the Iron Host.
So fast was Isbrand’s ascension that neither Borgondhi nor Lyteri secured more than a few acres of land. The oath he swore to the Queen was absolutely correct and in accordance with the laws of the land. By the time the Royal Council received Isbrand’s oath of fealty, he was minting his own coins.
In response, Regina IV traveled in person to Isbrand’s settlement, named Geirrfast in honor of the fallen Prince of Lyteri. King Joralemon II and the Duchess of the Western Lowlands waited for news that Isbrand had been taken into custody as a traitor to the crown.
What passed between the Queen and the upstart king is a mystery. They spoke both in his “court” and in private, and when they emerged, Isbrand I swore his oath of fealty to her personally and she accepted it, legitimizing his claim and kingdom.
The Royal Council nearly exploded. She returned to a city in an uproar. Borgondhi and Lyteri were outraged, but the Queen could not be swayed. In time, she won over the majority of the council, leaving Joralemon II the main holdout (the alfar abstained).
So the Northern Kingdoms were counted at Four, and amidst the ashes of the Huldra lands Marchen began to build.
The Coming of Rúnda
In the twilight of Regina IV’s reign, a strange wanderer came to The University. The Alfar Circle of Elders fell silent as she stood before them. All their magic and secrets she understood, but hers was not the power of Dawn. A wizard in name only, her spells and chants called upon something older, something deeper, something darker.