Population: 515,820 (87% humans, 7% halflings, 3% half-orcs, 2% elves)
Government: Fanatical Oligarchy
Imports: Iron, gold, furs, minor magic items
Exports: Cloth, beef, oil and grains
Between the wide Lyodan river and the dense Neldorean woods lies the broad coastal plain of Ianthe (pronounced “ee-OHN-thuh”). Ianthe is a warlike nation famous the strange magic of its nobility and for its constant wars with its neighbors. The Ianthans are largely of Conorrian descent, and consider themselves to be superior to all other humans and vastly superior to all non-human races. Ianthans have a large slave population, made up of foreigners, who till the soil and toil in the deep Aoelan rifts. The slaves outnumber the Ianthans by a considerable number.
Because of this, Ianthe has developed a highly structured and warlike society. All male citizens are trained in one of three disciplines: war, wizardry or the priesthood. Warriors serve the state until their thirtieth birthday, when they are allowed to retire and take a wife. Wizards and priests serve the state for life, and are never allowed to marry, though they are allowed many comforts not afforded to the common Ianthan. All Ianthan citizens, both male and female, are tested at the age of seven for any sign of sorcerous ability. Those who show signs of sorcery are put to death.
The Awakening –
All of the nobility in Ianthe are related, being descendants of the god Aeolan. Many of the descendants of the god possess a unique form of magic known as Auricas, or the Awakening. Those who do possess this gift are taken from their families at the age of seven and trained by the Inaricii, the Hidden Masters. They emerge from this training (if at all) at the age of twenty. Those with an intellectual leaning become Archons, guardians of the purity of the Ianthan race, and masters of the mind. Those who are gifted physically become the Ulean Indomitus, the Crystal Knights.
The Archons –
It is said that the god Aeolan was not of Theeurth, that he came from beyond creation. What is known is that he taught his descendants to jealously guard their heritage, lest they lose it and become as other men. Thus, those in whom the gifts of Aeolan show forth most strongly are taken to be guardians of that heritage. They become the Archons.
An Ianthan Archon is a master of the Auricas, trained in one of seven secretive disciplines, and utterly dedicated to the rooting out of foreign spies, the unearthing of sorcery and treachery, and the suppression of slave revolts. The word of an Archon carries the weight of law, which only a higher-ranking Archon can reverse. It is widely believed that many Archons go about Ianthe and the surrounding lands disguised as commoners, seeking to root out dissension.
The Crystal Knights –
Rarer even than the Archons are those of Aeolans brood who can channel his power into their weapons and armor. These form a small and much-feared cadre of warriors known as the Ulean Indomitus, or Crystal Knights. These elite soldiers, easily identified by their beautiful crystalline armor and weapons, serve as shock troops for the Ianthan army, bodyguards for the Archons, and as the traditional guardians of Narranthus, the capital.
The Knights are famous for their ability to channel the Auricas, making their muscles stronger, bones harder, weapons sharper and armor nearly impenetrable. In addition, Crystal Knights are able to coordinate their attacks and defenses with frightening accuracy, as if all those present shared a single mind. They are rightly feared throughout the Valesian Sea for their ruthless and tireless efficiency.
The Warriors –
Though not as impressive as the Crystal Knights, every Ianthan male who is neither wizard, priest nor worker of Auricas becomes a soldier in Ianthes army. Every soldier lives apart from his family, in effect making the Ianthan army his family until he is thirty years old. In times of war, all veterans are called back into service. The Ianthan soldiers training is rigorous and sometimes fatal. The product of this is one of the toughest, most highly-trained armies in Theeurth.
The primary responsibility of the army is to maintain control of the large slave population which makes the Ianthan lifestyle possible. This requires that army garrisons be scattered across the countryside. Thus, although very nearly every male citizen is a soldier or veteran, there are few large concentrations of soldiers anywhere outside of Narranthus.
The Aoelan Rifts –
Scattered across the Ianthan countryside, particularly in the region around Narranthus, are deep fissures in the earth, said to have been opened by Aeolan himself. Deep within these fissures are found the rare and precious Aeolan crystals, which the Archons and Crystal Knights prize above gold and gems. Thousands of slaves toil endlessly in the deeps, struggling to locate and recover these crystals.
These stones seem to attract dark and powerful creatures from the depths of the earth, and cost hundreds of slaves lives every year. The Archons feel that this is an acceptable rate of loss.
What is now Ianthe is thought to have been near the heartlands of the ancient Iridian civilization. After the Wrath of the Gods, it appears to have been empty of habitation for a time, peopled only occasionally by wandering nomads and possibly ruled over by a succession of dragons. But human and goblin tribes established permanent settlements by -3700, and a host of petty kingdoms rose and fell in the millennia thereafter, known mostly for their warlike natures and their weaving of fine cloth.
Warriors of the Connor kingdom crossed the Lyodan river in -562 and made alliances with Afaric and Trenloc, the most powerful cities in the region. By -380, Afaric and Trenloc controlled most of central Ianthe. In -354, Afaric refused to pay tribute to Connor. Trenloc paid with ill grace. The Connor senate sent the consul Eramius Gaianor to bring Afaric to heel, which he did in a three-year long campaign that ended only when the city was leveled stone by stone and its fields cursed by Conorrian priests. Thereafter, all of Ianthe made haste to pay tribute to the growing power in the east. By the time that Aumerides established the Conorrian Empire, Ianthe had become an important province of Conorria, responsible for a great part of the empires food supply.
In the year 1385, strange signs were seen in the heavens, and wise men spoke of a new god who walked the earth, and of the fear of the old gods. Within a few years thereafter, it became clear that a Power walked the fields and farmlands of Ianthe. To the relief of the Emperor and his bishops, the new god seemed not to desire power over mortal men, but to be merely left alone. And so Ianthe was left alone for more than a generation. The province continued to send its taxes and its grain shipments, but its senators and aristocrats disappeared forever.
In 1421, men came from Ianthe and presented themselves to the emperor. Tall, they were, and haughty words they spoke. Yet they claimed to be from a noble house and swore fealty to the emperor. At the urging of his advisors, the emperor appointed them senators from Ianthe despite their proud words, and thus began the noble house of Aeolus. For long years the Aeolians served the emperor well as generals, ministers and senators. In time, word spread that the Aeolians possessed a magic not known elsewhere in Theeurth, and their power grew still more.
During the Mage Wars, they held themselves aloof from all factions, and fought against several armies that crossed their lands. Yet in the end, Ianthe became part of the Miletian Empire when Markimillien took that western realm for himself. As time passed, the Aeolians waxed in skill, mastering the Auricas, and they began to chafe under the Miletian rule. The rising tension between the Emperor and the Aeolians might have led to open revolt had not a greater tide overtaken both factions. In 2282, the Darothic horde stormed out of the north and shattered the empire. Ianthe, too, went down into ruin under the merciless pillaging of the barbarians.
But the Aeolians survived, and in the absence of greater powers, they were at last free to create their own ideal state, dedicated to the supremacy of Aeolans descendants, and the iron determination never again to fall under the sway of larger powers. In 2321, the Aeolian families agreed to rule Ianthe between them, and laid down the draconian laws that are still followed today. Archons and the Crystal Knights were both established in the decades that followed.
In 2412 and again in 2433, Ianthe fought inconclusive battles with the elves of the Neldorean Wood over control of the fertile valleys and hills that border that forest. Over the next several centuries, however, Ianthan power waxed while that of the elves waned. Now the power of the Archons runs to the eaves of the forest, but no further.
In 2589, the Ianthan army laid siege to the great Llyran fortress of Vorogod, at the southernmost point in Ianthe. This island fortress had been part of Llyran since the Return of the First Council during the Wars of the Fisherman Kings, and the Llyrans held it as a matter of national pride and political interest. The superior Llyran naval forces kept the fortress-city supplied while magi fought with adept across and around the narrow causeway that connects Vorogod to the mainland. The siege lasted for more than two years, and cost thousands of lives on both sides. In the end, Vorogod remained in Llyran hands, and the two nations began a long tradition of suspicious enmity.
Slave revolts marked the history of the twenty-seventh century in Ianthe. The Shuran Revolt in 2644-46 took the full might of the army to quell, and left much of the population starving and homeless. The poverty and loss of land that resulted was to dog the Ianthans for most of the next century.
In 2723, the Worldspine Orcs crashed through the western marches of the Empire and came down upon Ianthe in great waves. For years, the army, which had nearly recovered from the Shuran Revolt, held the orcs at bay. But the great weight of numbers at last broke the backs of the Archons and their army. The Crystal Knights were slaughtered at Kauja Gorge in 2734, leaving only a single survivor. Ianthe fell to the orcs.
When the Great Crusade swept into the orc-held lands in 2745, the Crusaders rather pointedly did not cross into Ianthe. They left that nation and its interloper god to the mercy of the orcs while they drove the invaders from what would become the Crusader States. In failing to come to Ianthes aid, however, the Crusaders laid the grounds for future conflict. For the orcs were weakened, surrounded and cut off from their cities in the Worldspine. The Ianthans, long schooled to rebellion, rose up against their oppressors in 2749 and drove them, wailing, into the Neldorean Wood, from which never one returned.
Now the heroes of Ianthe, the Archons took power more firmly than ever, and began to raise up a new cadre of Crystal Knights. Today, the hold of the Archons is firm upon the throat of Ianthe, and once more the sons of Aeolan look abroad for new realms to conquer.
MAJOR POPULATION CENTERS
Narranthus – (Small city; population 33,180). Nestled among the rolling piedmont of northern Ianthe, Narranthus is unusual for its size, in that it has no walls or fortifications. “The shields of the army,” it is often said, “are the walls of Narranthus.” The center of Narranthus is a scene of breathtaking beauty, particularly when the rays of the sun strike the towers of Aeolan, made of white marble and decorated in Aeolan crystals. Clear fountains run through manicured parks where children play and tame birds sing. On the outskirts of town, however, there is great poverty. The vast slave farms till the unforgiving soil and armed troops are everywhere. The tiny foreign quarter is set in a narrow, steep-sloped valley shut off at one end with iron gates. Foreigners are strictly regulated, even those who have lived in Narranthus for decades.
Haelopolis – (Small city; population 27,330). Situated on the lip of what is believed to be the deepest of the Aeolan rifts, Haelopolis is a garrison city near the Neldorean wood. It boasts a garrison of two thousand soldiers, a dozen Crystal Knights and an unknown number of Achons. Unlike Narranthus, Haelopolis is walled, and contains strong castles at both the northern and western extremes. Large groves of olive trees dot the landscape for miles. The mage-killing wizard Polymethus and his twin sister, the Archon Medrea are the most famous residents of this city.
IMPORTANT LOCAL SITES –
The Nether Rift- More than four miles deep, the Nether Rift at Haelopolis is a small world unto itself. Thick vapors overlay the area most of the time, which gives it the appearance of a foamy sea moving with deliberate slowness. But below the vapors lies a world much less serene. Ten thousand slaves live and toil the depths, seeking out the precious Aeolan crystals. Giant gynars, winged predators that live nowhere else, prey on the unwary. Rumors abound of goblins who lurk in the shadows and serve masters more loathsome than themselves, deep below the ground.
The Fields of Leana- Legend tells that the youngest daughter of the god Aeolan was a quiet girl who displeased her father because she had little interest in the powers he sought to teach all his children. While her siblings reveled in their power, she would often wander alone in the fields and woods, befriending the creatures of the wild. Her father frowned upon this, and her eldest brother grew wrathful, and sought her out among the woods, seeking to drag her before their father. She refused to accompany him, and when he laid hands upon her, wild lions rose up to defend her. She bade him leave and never return. But return he did, with all his brothers, and they laid waste to the forest. They never found Leana, but where the forest had stood, wildflowers bloomed and fields grew tall with grain. The Archons tread lightly in this place, and seem to fear it. Legend says that those who pray for the aid of Leana in this place may still at times gain it, if their cause is peaceful and just.
The Great Temple of Aeolan –Many temples and wayside shrines exist to the god throughout Ianthe, but the greatest of these stands above the city of Narranthus. It is crafted of black crystal, and its walls are as smooth as glass. During the frequent storms that lash Ianthe, lighting is often seen to crash harmlessly into the great black spire that looms above the city, and at these times, the entire temple glows with a pearlescent light. The statue of Aeolan that stands within the main hall is of beaten bronze sheathed in gold, and its eyes are great gemstones. It is said that hidden beneath the temple is an artifact known as the The Soul of the Archons