Friday, May 19, 2017

Lux Tenebris: Alinshrae

Ah! Alinshrae! ‘The Land of Shadows.’ A knife-like region running along the western borders of Alindor, Alindema and Hylondek. Rising above Alinshrae are the mountains known commonly as the Goblinteats. Between the mountains, the dense forest canopies and the almost perpetual cloud cover affecting the region, Alinshrae is well named. Sunny days are rare in Alinshrae, which is just fine with the residents.
Alinshrae has always been an independent region. Even when the Kings of the South ruled from Goldcastle, Alinshrae never fell under the power of the Phoenix Throne. The woodlands were flooded with fayblood creatures, there were hags and giants in the mountains and far too many goblins to ever accurately count. And as frightening as these creatures were, standing head and shoulders above them all was the ruler of Alinshrae, the Nightshade Queen.

Artists Interpretation of the Nightshade Queen 

Rumors abound about the Nightshade Queen. Some say she’s an immortal sorceress of vast power, who survived the Dissolution of Vorfel and found sanctuary in Nur. Others say that she’s one of the archfey, exiled from both the Summer and Winter Courts for her excesses. No one knows for sure and Her Majesty isn’t inclined to answer questions regarding her origins.
Everyone who has seen her, however, agrees that she is breathtakingly beautiful. Described as having chalk-white skin, ruby red lips, hair like ebony and eyes like dark green glass, more than one admirer has lost his heart and his sanity for love of the queen.  Infamy and glamor cling to the Nightshade Queen the way flower sticks to a baker’s fingers.
They say she was there when King Rochard, the last King of the South, was struck down by his bastard half-brother, Athen Blackmantle, at the Battle of Gray Hill.  They say she flung the poison dart that killed Blackmantle and ended the Phoenix Kingdom. That was four hundred years ago. Her reputation has only grown.
Is it any wonder that her neighbors regard Alinshrae and its queen with a wary gaze. Most of the other nations gave up trying to annex parts of Alinshrae centuries ago. The only one that has persisted has been Alindema, so that a bitter enmity exists between the two countries. Or, at least, it exists on the part of Alindema and its High Magisters.
Although Alinshrae has little contact with the outside world, there is some trade across the borders. And the Nightshade Queen has been known to extend invitations to scholars, sages and entertainers to visit her court. 
When the Draconic Empire turned its legions toward the south, there was some concern over how Alinshrae would react. However, when a company of Draconic soldiers marched into Alinshrae, they vanished and have not been seen since.  Intelligence acquired from the Draconic Legions suggest that their armies were ordered to avoid Alinshrae after similar disappearances began to undermine morale.
Today, Alinshrae remains complete unto itself. In the aftermath of the war, Alindema has repositioned its troops along the border they share with the Land of Shadows, but whether this is a precursor to an attack or saber-rattling on their part remains unknown. If Alindema were to attack Alinshrae, it is doubtful they would find allies among their neighbors. Indeed, certain factions in Hylondek might actually ally with the Nightshade Queen to further their own goals.

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