Eremiro is a mundane land that owes allegiance to the immortal Lady Saroparel. It lies in northern Skanshuria and is traditionally ruled by queens. The Eremirans are known for their elaborate etiquette and intrigues, as well as their love of the arts. While mages hold positions of power in many lands, in Eremiro they are the ruling elite.
Eremiro has several Gateways within its borders, and it is famed for its azuhans – the magical jewels used by mages to enhance their abilities. The rest of its wealth comes from its fertile farmlands, pine forests and the silver mines along its southern border. At one time, its main trading partner was Naseyan, an island-kingdom whose rulers paid homage to the Eremiran queens. However, in 1442 Eremiro itself became a vassal-state of Yanbuka.
Eremiro is a land of warm, rainy summers and freezing winters. The flat expanse of farmland west of the Asharo river is excellent for growing wheat, while sheep graze in the country’s north-east hills. Eremiro’s forests are home to lynxes, sables, wolves and bears, as well as the elusive ‘snow tiger’, which can be glimpsed in the Jashora mountains.
The crown city, Varbeshion, stands on the banks of the Asharo. From here, barges sail upriver as far as Garabion, bearing cargoes of silk, tea and spices from the south. Merchants ships return to their native lands laden not only with silver, grain, lumber and wool, but also porcelain, jewellery, jade carvings, illuminated manuscripts and paintings.
Eremiro’s southern border is sheltered by the Totharu mountains and guarded by two mighty ninth-century castles: Keyrin, on the coast, and Kareshen, overlooking the mountain pass that leads to Taushon. Aside from Varbeshion itself, the main harbours are Tayaru and Naosharu.
North-west of Garabion, the land becomes wilder, its roads giving way to muddy tracks. While the mages dwell in sumptuous castles, following the fashions of Varbeshion, the peasants lead lives of hardship. Kurokhiran war-bands often raid across the border. The forests are infested with bandits, and also roamed by creatures that slip through the Gateways.
Three strongholds defend this region: Danorin, Nevrin and Tabion. The only settlement of any note is Vayere – a walled town where Kurokhiran merchants come to trade salt, furs and weapons for grain and luxury goods. Many people here have Kurokhiran blood, and although they are regarded with distrust by the nobles, they are often hired as mercenaries.
Since 1435 the land has been ruled by Zirazine, who supposedly governs on behalf of her immortal mother, Lady Saroparel of Imbire. However, it took a vicious power-struggle with the nobility to secure her power – for the last two hundred years, Eremiro had been under the rule of the Neramaye dynasty, and its last queen, Teyarelle VIII, was unwilling to step aside.
The queen rules with the assistance of a Prime Minister and a Council drawn from ‘Great Houses’ such as Berayan, Veyrane and Daherane. Posts in government, the judiciary and exchequer are usually held by women, while military ranks are held by men.
All of the aristocracy are mages. Those without magical blood are seen as commoners, and traditionally have no voice in government. Until 1442, most non-mages (tehatarat) lived as serfs. This is one reason why interactions between the Eremirans and the nobility of other lands are strained – even when the Eremirans choose male ambassadors.
The Eremirans worship three deities: Naramayale, the goddess of the heavens, her daughter Darayassale and her son-in-law Eymatharal. They are worshipped together in temples across the queendom, attended by an elaborate hierarchy of priestesses and priests who perform the rituals needed to keep the cosmos functioning correctly.
The goddess Naramayale is believed to be the creator of the world, the weaver of destiny, the giver of life and the guardian of the dead. She placed the sun, moon and stars in the heavens. In art she is depicted as an old woman holding a scroll. The Eremirans pray to her for success, protection, wealth, good health and victory over their rivals.
According to myth, Naramayale created the earth as a gift for her beloved daughter Darayassale, the goddess of nature. Darayassale chose the fire-god Eymatharal as her consort, and together they created all the plants, animals and peoples of the world. Darayassale is often depicted as a pregnant woman bearing a basket of flowers. The Eremirans seek her blessing during weddings, child-birth and when the crops are sown.
Eymatharal used to be a warrior, but after he married Darayassale he became a farmer, builder and craftsman. He taught humans how to forge iron tools, and he raised the walls of the first city. He is usually depicted alongside Darayassale, sometimes holding a basket of wheat or defending her with his sword. He is especially revered by soldiers.
The main festivals in Eremiro are the Solstices (Tharrayea in summer and Zainayea in winter), which are sacred to Naramayale, and the Equinoxes (Esthalyea in spring and Basneyea in autumn) , which are sacred to her daughter and son-in-law. Naramayale’s festivals are sombre occasions that feature hymns, processions and gift-giving. The Equinox festivals are celebrations of harmony that feature all-night parties and masquerades in which all people supposedly mingle as equals.
Eremiran places of worship include roadside shrines, chapels and lavish public temples. Each temple has its own High Priestess, and is supported by whichever noble family owns the land upon which it stands. Although the clergy are expected to serve the nobility, they can become influential figures due to their training in medicine and astrology. Any mage with the gift of healing is expected to join their number, meaning that the high-ranking clergy and nobility are closely related.
The People of Eremiro
In Eremiro, a person’s worth is judged by their magical power, lineage and ‘refinement’. The nobility choose consorts most likely to produce magically powerful offspring, which is why there are so many mages of Ekya and even Akes rank among them. Refinement is a mark of breeding. It consists not only of fine manners but also skill in the noble arts: painting, calligraphy, poetry and music.
Most property is owned by women, and descent is traced down the female line. A man marries into his wife’s family, and is expected to support her in all her endeavours. Women are believed to have virtues such as wisdom, patience and tact that make them naturally suited to leadership. Men are supposed to have practical skills and physical strength, enabling them to serve and protect.
The Eremirans believe that everyone should strive for perfection, whether they are a noble or a peasant. For the nobility, every gesture should be graceful, every statement poetic. They say that life is a sacred gift from the goddess Naramayale, and people should honour that gift by appreciating the beauty the world and knowing their place within it.
Mages and the Military
Although Eremiro boasts a higher population of mages than any other land, it does not have any dedicated magical academies. Instead, all knowledge is passed down through families.
At one time, the Eremirans argued that only women had the skill and patience to become great mages – a claim that has been discredited by their encounters with Yanbuka and Gabakarua. Despite this, most of Eremiro’s battle-mages are still women. When they go to war they don elaborate battle-masks and are attended by ward-weavers and guards.
Male mages often join the army as ward-weavers, scryers and portallists, but only the highest-ranking men study magical combat. A lot of lords are just given basic magical training. In more traditional households they are taught to suppress their powers and nothing more. Despite this, they are still treated with the deference due to their mage-rank.
In the past, Eremiro’s queens were reluctant to make use of modern weapons that might threaten the supremacy of the mages. Instead they relied on their ward-weavers and temperamental battle-mages to defend the queendom, allowing their army to become dangerously weak.
Eremiro uses its army to guard its borders. Its soldiers consist of archers and spearmen, with noblemen serving as mounted cavalry. Command of the army is granted to the lords of the Great Houses, most of whom have limited military experience. It has been seven hundred years since Eremiro attempted to invade another land, and the terrifying reputation of its mages means that foreign rulers seldom attack. Instead, the most common threats are civil war, rebellions and raiders.
Eremiro claims to be an ancient land. No one knows when it was founded, but it existed before the Askamaran Sovereignty of Amanis, which has been dated to 255 BEA. In ancient times only women were allowed to study the arts of magic, for Lady Saroparel considered men too rash and aggressive to wield power. The authority of the early Eremiran queens was enforced by their ‘sister-mages’ and the pearl-white dragons of Imbire.
The Eremirans regard the eighth century as their Classical Age. It was during this time – the reign of the Neyariel Dynasty – that court ceremonial was at its most elaborate and the finest works of art were produced. However, Eremiro’s attempt to establish a stronghold in the far west failed when Farenia was overwhelmed by Shuredoran ‘barbarians’ in 784 EA. Its ties with its old ally Arunisa were weakened, and the queendom turned in upon itself.
For the next few centuries, Eremiro had little interest in the world beyond its borders. Its only dealings were with Ukuzecha – the empire ruled by Saroparel’s ally Daskesurul – and Naseyan, an island-kingdom off the south coast which Eremiro treated as a client-state. After the collapse of Ukuzecha in 1310, the Eremirans became increasingly reliant on Naseyan for trade. At the same time, Saroparel had all her draconic subjects slaughtered, greatly weakening Eremiro’s army.
When Zirazine ascended the throne in 1435, she found Eremiro beset by problems. The Kurokhir kingdoms were menacing her northern border, while the newly re-forged Gabakaruan empire was poised to wrestle Naseyan from her grasp. Zirazine responded by inviting ambassadors from Kurkohir into her court and by forging an alliance with the Gabakaruans.
Zirazine support for Gabakarua ended with the Yanbukan invasion of 1442, during which the Emperor Naskaran seized Varbeshion. Since then, Eremiro has been a client-state of Yanbuka. While Zirazine remains on the throne, her powers are sorely reduced. Eremiro’s army is under Yanbukan control and its foreign policy is dictated by the imperial court at Nenushka. Dragons once again guard its skies, but they are from the territories of Veskansare and Ebzazire.