Geography and Other Nations

Tremontane is a kingdom defined by three large peaks, Gandner Peak, Mount Tendennon, and Mount Ehuren, in a range of mountains called the Rockwild Range, the Spine of the World, or just the Spine. The ridge runs roughly east-west with a curve southward on the eastern side. Tremontane’s borders are the Rockwild Range to the north; Mount Tendennon, the Snow River, and Veribold on the west; the ocean and a ridge of foothills to the east (east of which is unclaimed territory and wastelands); and Eskandel to the south.

Tremontane has several immediate neighbors with which its relations range from cordial to hostile.

Eskandel: Tremontane’s southern neighbor, Eskandel is known for its devotion to the arts and sciences, as well as for being the place where Devices were invented. It is nominally ruled by a Conclave of princelings, but the real power in Eskandel is held by those princelings’ harems. These groups of four to six women make the real decisions and then tell their princeling husbands how to vote in Conclave. Eskandel prides itself on its cordial relations with all its neighbors and occasionally acts as intermediary in international disputes. Tremontane and Eskandel have been friendly almost since the founding of Tremontane.

Veribold: Tremontane’s western neighbor. The oldest country in the region, Veribold was once a vibrant, outward-looking culture that in the past century or so has grown decadent and obsessed with former glories. Veriboldans put great stock in ritual and ceremony, and although they do not have the literal family bonds Tremontanans do, they consider family connections very important and most can recite their lineage seven or more generations back. Even the lowest-class Veriboldan considers himself superior to anyone of any other country, and upper-class Veriboldans may refuse to be “tainted” by speaking directly to someone not Veriboldan (though this does not stop them learning other languages). This belief notwithstanding, Veriboldans carry on strong trade relations with their neighbors and are known for the high quality of their exports (mainly luxury goods like tea and silk). Veribold is ruled by a limited-term King or Queen chosen by an intricate set of challenges incomprehensible to most outsiders; rulers serve for seven years and may not serve subsequent terms. Veribold and Tremontane have a very formal, somewhat chilly relationship in recent years due to the presence of hostile Veriboldan outlaws along the Tremontanan border whom the Veriboldan government has been unable, or unwilling, to rein in.

Ruskald: Separated from Tremontane by the Rockwild Range, Ruskald has had an uneasy relationship with its southern neighbor for many years. Source is particularly scanty there, and skirmishes and the occasional war result from Ruskald’s interest in controlling Tremontane’s magical riches. The Ruskalder tend to be very direct in their dealings with others and are not afraid of conflict, friendly or otherwise. They put a great emphasis on family (though, again, they do not have the Tremontanan family bonds) and large families are the norm. Ruskald is the only country in the region that still worships gods rather than ungoverned heaven (see The Lost Gods for more on this). Ruskald is ruled by a King who is first among the Ruskalder chieftains, all of whom have a say in the government (to a degree).

The Kirkellan: This large “kinship” of nomads lives in the region called the Eidestal, which in Kirkellish means “land of the winds.” The Eidestal is located west of Ruskald, is part steppe, part northern forest, and the Kirkellan travel throughout the year to take advantage of what the changing seasons bring. They are famed as horse breeders and consider their horses a part of their spiritual family; the horses themselves are large but agile, trained for speed and jumping. The Kirkellan have no surnames, as they consider themselves all part of a single family, but can immediately tell outsiders what their blood relation to another Kirkellan is. They frequently clash with the Ruskalder over territory, as Ruskald would like to annex the Eidestal to gain better hunting grounds, and most Kirkellan spend at least part of their lives as members of a tiermatha, or warband/kinship group. They are matrilineal, with their ruler being called the matrian, though in centuries past both men and women were allowed to lead the Kirkellan. Until recently, Tremontane has had little contact with them.