the People of the Vale
A single city dominates the Vale, home to a race of highly civilized and physically marvelous individuals. They are the People of the Vale.
The People of the Vale have mastered the art of agriculture, and have prosperous orchards despite the desert climate. They trade fruit, vegetables, wood and Azer-crafted artisan goods with the Zinyini in exchange for meat and milk, gladly letting “the savages” handle raising and caring for malodorous beasts.
The People of the Vale have no need for gods, putting their “faith” more into reason and philosophy. While they do freely admit that they were “bred” by Ni’Krowd and in fact share common ancestors with the Zinyini, they see the Zinyini pantheon as being merely anthropomorphic representations of naturally occurring phenomena which they already understand through other methods, meaning they do not feel the need to “worship” said phenomena. Many of the Vale’s royal family are also direct descendants of Zinyini gods, and wield power exceeding that even of Spirit Warriors – it is even rumored that Empress Carawynne is more powerful than all the Zinyini gods put together. This only further cements the city-dwellers’ belief that they need not give the gods any special veneration.
Sometime early in the history of the Vale, when the People of the Vale and the Zinyini were still one people, three beings came from outside of time and space to the Vale. They were The Crone, The Fury, and The Virgin. These three women saw the Vale and decided to take it as a refuge from the demons and elder gods that resided in the stars. With the greatest of magics, they formed the Great Mandela upon a spire of rock in the north end of the Vale. The Great Mandela is literally part carving and part permanent sand painting on the flat surface of a high and steep sided mesa. It protects the vale from any sort of environmental change. I.E. it is always pleasant temperature. There will always be abundant water flowing from the snows on the surrounding mountains. It will always have just enough sun and only just enough ash from the volcanoes will fall to provide just the right nutrients for the soil. And most importantly, it stabilized the earth so there would be no earthquakes and no new volcanic activity in the Vale itself.
The Three Women realized that this would make the Vale prime territory for the already fractured tribes that dwelled there. So it was The Fury that bore a daughter to rule over the Vale. Her name was Titania. Titania was raised among the Zinyini tribes till she reached maturity. Then she began a conquest to solidify her rule of the Vale. Through a mixture of cunning marriages, evil seductions and violent warfare, Titania very soon crowned herself Empress of the Vale and drove out any Zinyini who disagreed with her. She then set about creating a great city and place of learning for her people.
That was 2000 years ago. Titania ruled from that time to approximately 35 years ago. Long ago did the Zinyini tribes give up on attacking the Vale directly. During that time she made continual dalliances with various members of the Zinyini pantheon and most of her children have been and are related to the gods directly. In such a way Titania was able to gain more and more concessions from her various lovers among the gods until she was blessed with such power none but the great king of the gods Norebo could have defeated her.
Some 35 years ago Titania disappeared and since then it was learned that she died. Only the royal family knows precisely what happened to her. But her body now resides in the “Temple of the Three” in the great city Titania built so long ago. It is believed that a squabble over rights of succession is what led to the War of Heaven and Hell, and Empress Carawynne gained the crown by driving away the demonic invaders.
Empress Carawynne’s Line
- Empress Carawynne: Rules over the city of the Vale, and in her peoples’ opinion the entire region of the Vale. Her father was Norebo, the old king of the gods. She is tall and beautiful, with flowing black hair that has a shocking white highlight on her front bangs. In her forehead is set a small red gemstone about the size of a nickel. She favors loose riding clothes to formal gowns. She is almost always accompanied by her royal consort, Cassidy. She has an elite cadre of soldiers as a private guard, and they wield some of the only known firearms in the Vale.
- Royal Consort Cassidy: Cassidy is also tall and thin. He has dirty blond hair and tends to dress in nondescript colors. He is said to be the fastest man in the world. Indeed, there have been assassination attempts where the assassin has found himself impaled on his own poisoned dagger the same instant that he threw it, with Cassidy smiling at him and holding the hilt. He rarely leaves his lover’s side.
- Princess Genevieve: Genevieve is the Empress’s daughter with Cassidy. She is young (15), blonde and pretty, and also has a shard of the Mandela (the red gemstone) imbedded in her forehead. Recently she went missing, but has been found again apparently no worse for wear. No reason or news of what happened is known.
The Rest of the Royal Family
- Princess Benavida: The eldest of Titania’s daughters (Carawynne is second eldest). She is a tall black haired woman who dresses in long grey and black gowns with her hair hanging to the floor. Also a sorceress, but inclined to work in necromancy and creating/commanding undead. It is very rare that she is called upon to raise these armies, but the Vale has several unmarked burial grounds in strategic locations for just such a need. She is very quiet but very wise. She is not seen in the castle often and is said to be “resting” in an unspecified tomb somewhere in the Vale. It is rumored that her father was Ni’Krowd himself, but none are left alive old enough to know the truth, and Benevida isn’t telling. She does not speak of family matters.
- Prince Deter: Deter is the Empress’s younger brother by less than a year. They look very much alike and were called “the twins” in their youth. He is famously the best swordsman and rider of the family. He is fiercely loyal to his sister and has taken the job of dealing with outside and otherworldly forces that may threaten the Vale. As such he is gone for long periods of time and is rarely at the castle. His father was Norebo as well.
- Princess Brandy: Brandy was cruelly used for her magical ability by the forces of the demons during the War. Even though most of the royality can heal from almost any damage, Brandy was left permanently blind from her ordeal. She is a slight, ethereally beautiful, pale red head that is cared for in the castle by the Empress and her sisters. She is perhaps the most knowledgeable about magic in the royal family, but much of her skill required her sight so she is left with but a fraction of her power. Her father was Ezalb, god of fire.
- Princess Julianne: Leader of the Amazon Knights, who patrol the lands around the city. They carry firearms, but prefer to keep to mounted combat on great white horses, using swords and lances. They have commissioned special white armor from the Azer; it is said to be absolutely unbreakable. The Amazon Knights are picked from the cream of Vale womanhood. They are ruthless warriors and unswerving in their devotion to the Vale. All of her desert knight are made to vow loyalty to the Empress first and Princess Julianne second BY Julianne herself. However, it is well known that Julianne respects but does not like Carawynne, and Julianne herself will never take that oath. Her father was Norebo. The incedent of her birth nearly caused war between father and son in the cloud city.
- Prince Lewis: Lewis is the son of Titania and King Airom of the Azer, and he sports the famous red hair and beard of his father’s people. While short by Vale standards, he is a giant among his peers in the city of Kheldmirkhan, home of the Azer. He chose to live with his father most of his adult life and argued with his mother constantly. He still resides in his father’s underground citadel. Though Azer law states that only a full-blooded Azer may rule, and thus when King Airom finally dies the kingship will pass to Lewis’s younger half brother, all in the City of the Azer love and respect the quiet and wise Lewis. For his part he takes the role of mediator in any disputes that arise between the Vale and the City of the Azer.
- Prince Florin: Florin is tall, blond and amazingly handsome. His father is unknown. Titania just returned from long travels with a child and would only say it was a fabulous love affair but she tired of the man. He has always been a lover rather than a fighter, but when he does fight he fights dirty. Many a husband in the Vale has had his wife seduced by this charmer, so it was a great relief when news spread that the goddess of love, Li’Marolf, had turned her eyes to Florin. He moved to the cloud city as Ambassador of the Vale, and promptly shacked up with the goddess. There are rumors he has fathered a child on her, but so far no proof.
- Princess Germain: Germain is a wispy brunette with piercing brown eyes. She is easily the most powerful psychic on the world and is one of the Empress’s most ardent supporters. She is well known in the Vale as a healer, using her powerful mind to knit bones and mend bodies. But in the war she was fierce a warrior as any of her siblings, flinging house sized boulders with her mind and turning demon against demon. Her father is Darreg, god of the earth.
- Princess Chance: Chance is a petite, sandy brown haired woman with a roguish smile. She is the only one of Titania’s children from a Zinyini Clan elder. She and her husband run the security forces of the Vale, The Scouts. The Scouts are a squad of covert operatives who seek out and capture any among the Zinyini who are seen as a potential threat to the safety of the Vale. She is friendly and talkative, but always with the view of finding out information. Her husband, Silas, is a mute Azer warrior. They make an interesting team the short red-bearded dwarf and the (comparatively) lanky Princess. But they seem to be inseparable and obviously deeply in love.