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Sartor

Oldest country in the world. Most of the earliest records were destroyed in what was termed the Fall of Old Sartor--a war between the mages of Norsunder and the rest of the world. It was all-out war, considerably diminishing not only the population, but the magic potential of the world.

The indigenous races might have taken a hand, except that they knew what the humans did not: that Norsunder's most powerful mage was not in fact human, though this being took human form--moving up in time to devour the identity of a morvende youth known for his beauty of face and form and voice. The humans could therefore not be blamed for this destructive war. But the indigenous races withdrew contact, and magic, for a very long time.

The history of Old Sartor is, for the most part, a history of the human part of the world. Other humans (and other beings) came through the World Gate and settled, or stayed briefly and then moved on (like the dragons who took many of the original Chwahir), leaving traces in art and legend. The mountain ranges of Sartor, like the southern range in Chwahirsland, were raised by magic in some mysterious cataclysm that has no record. Chwahirsland's geography has suffered a slow decline since, but Sartor's geography adapted. These mountain ranges serve endlessly as matters of debate, research, and of course warning, to mages in training.

There were few enough humans in the early days that they were spread at a distance. The human portions of the world were all known as Sartor, and there were four main cities, sometimes called Winter, Summer, Fall, and Spring, on different continents. Travel between the cities was part of ritual; the records are very few, but it seems that magic and sacred expression were intertwined.

After the Fall, it took centuries for humans to recover. The earliest records were kept by the the biggest guild, the scribes, which gradually branched into Heralds (archivists and propagators of news, which devolved into legal enforcement and now and then defense). They tried to reconnect with other humans, including those who went underground after the Fall, like the morvende, or to the mountains, like the flyers.

One of the largest concentrations of morvende and maulan (dawnsingers) is in the mountains adjacent to what was once Ilderven, one of the Four Cities, at the south end of the middle of the long continent straddling the southern hemisphere nearly two thirds of the way around the globe.

Eidervaen is built on layers of ancient cities, and it is full of archives and artifacts. At the very center, the oldest bits, with little remaining, is the Apsos, built on the labyrinth plan, though few know about it or can perceive it. Even at the time of the Fall of Old Sartor, that was old and built over.

There is a tremendous amount of magic concentrated in and around Sartor, which tends to distort time and distance, not only underground, but in the forest of Shendoral, where the indigenous people called the Loi make their home.

The Landis family has ruled unbroken since the earliest records were kept. (Note that this is not genetic descent. There are adopted Landises who took the name.) The Landises insist that they ruled during the days of Old Sartor, which may or may not be true. The three existing Old Sartorans never say anything about the past, except in limited references; Lilith the Guardian explains at one point that government was completely different, that there was always a queen, but she was the leader of ritual.

The royal castle of Eidervaen, once called Erivei-Dian and now Rive Dian, is an enormous, rambling building added onto and redesigned and changed over the centuries, as Sartor's history has changed. This building obscures the ancient Apsos. But there are rooms here and there hearkening back to the old days and untouched since, especially in or near the central tower, in which are crammed artifacts of the past. Furniture is seldom new, it's carefully restored when worn. Sartor's culture tends to rely on the weight of its past, and the oldest places are layered with the most traditions.

Sartor trades with the rest of the world, in gems, and in tea and coffee. Its tea, called "steep" or "Sartoran leaf" is the best in the world. The coffee is a strong, dark bean, not as flavorful as that of the islands on the belt of the world, but popular, especially mixed with cocoa beans.

Capital: Eidervaen

There are six districts, the first being the palace, between two branches of the river.

The city is roughly circular, once walled millennia ago, the remains of that wall only visible in how streets are shaped. The outer wall is highest on the west. The oldest of these former walls is the Grand Chandos Way, circling the inner city, and it is along this (and its Twelve Stations), and inside the center, where the most royal "gifts" are left: monuments to one another, and to themselves, left by Sartoran kings and queens. (Unlike other countries, the Sartoran royalty never removed their forebears' monuments, though some are enclosed inside others.) There is a single remnant of Old Sartor in the white tower, regarded as the center of the city though it is not actually the center. (See Apsos above.) The most magic is concentrated here.

There have always been six districts, though the borders of these have shifted about over the centuries, which is why the count of the districts does not go clockwise; there are layers of custom and politics in the changing of the district lines, but each has its history. Four and three would no more switch than they would stand on their heads, though four is between two and six, and three west of one, two, and five. One of the ways of determining them (though it is not always true) is by shapes of windows and archways--different districts favored variations. But there are also epochal variations on trefoil arches (the oldest), ogee, and reverse ogee. The only constant is the first district, now bounded by the Great Chandos Way, in city center.

Famous sites of Eidervaen are, like anywhere, the official ones and the unofficial, and those in between, such as Peri's Corner, named so for a young woman named Pericula who courted a young man in spite of family arrangements. Every day she brought a blossom (some say a rose, other legends say a different flower) each day, through the year, and laid it below his window in the family home. This home had a circular tower below which was a pocket garden, possibly once walled, but now open to the public, at one end of a small square. Over the years, this garden has become the place where people bring flowers as a public declaration of courtship. There has never been any legislation concerning this spot, yet it has persisted for many centuries, though the purpose has changed: it has been a site for public declaration of a secret love, of public acknowledgment of a relationship, a declaration of intent to marry, etc. The only common thread is a public declaration relating to romance.

Ruler: Yustnesveas Landis or 'Atan' starting in 4734. She is the fifth of that name.

Sartoran government

Has altered slowly over the centuries, but certain things can be observed as constants. Like all monarchies, there is a nobility directly below, divided into three (threes being important to Sartorans) equal lines: the nobility of the sword (defense), the nobility of the star, (magic), and the nobility of the feather (or pen), which is the paper or bureaucracy, but this includes the treasury. As neither sword nor star are permitted anything to do with the treasury outside of defense and ward protection, the pen has never been subordinated to the other two. The Scribe Guild is central, with branches, first being the Heralds. After the war with Norsunder resulting in Sartor being removed from the world for nearly a century, there was blowback against the sword; the nobles of this line were either marginalized back to their estates, or sought to serve the high council and First Circle in other ways. The city guard was diminished to nearly nothing.

The central focus of first circle government is called Star Chamber, with a central throne, and positioning delineated by precise ritual evolved out of centuries of tradition. Central are the twelve duchies: Chandos (lost to Norsunder Base, so the dukedom is essentially a courtesy title, with responsibilities in the city), Arveas, Mondereas, Leathan, Reluyos, Fheldreos, Reyadas, Scavian, Embar, Tandaree, Korendemar. Others have come and gone over the centuries, and of course there are diplomatic relations as well: that end of things is summed up in the Eidervael Accord, which spells out diplomatic relations and expectations between all signatories.

The First circle is the nobility. Second circle is Service (though the heads of Star, Feather, and Sword used to be part of the greater first circle, serving the outer ring in Star Chamber). Third circle is the citizenry. But all this is complicated by first circle politesse meaning elders of family or community, second circle peers and trusted friends, third circle politeness to strangers. So it can be perfectly polite to give a third circle bow to a total stranger who happens to be a noble, but that is also a deadly insult if it is known that this is a ranking superior. Likewise, giving first circle bows to strangers makes one risible. Learning the subtle signals can trip up newcomers.

Over the centuries the Sartoran reach has waxed and waned, bureaucracy becoming correspondingly complex. It is still complex, though the empire days are long gone. This tendency has extended to elaborate ceremonial, predicated partly on symbolic assurance of the equality of the three branches, but also in the necessary limit to access to the monarch. During different periods the complexity of court ceremonial was nearly crushing. Other times, it became more austere.

The struggle for power between political and magical interests have never been more sharply delineated than in Sartor, symbolic political leader, and also where the Magical Guild has had its home (though in later centuries its dominance has been challenged by the northern school at Bereth Ferian, which rose largely in order to counter the Venn threat.)

See Also

<< Sarendan | Sartoran Continent | Shezla >>

Page last modified on March 01, 2018, at 07:36 AM