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Current Novus date and time is

▶ Year || 503
▶ Season || Spring
▶ Temp || 43℉ (8℃) - 70℉ (21℃)
▶ Weather || The weather radar really does seem to be off the charts lately...
I wonder what's going on? (#15-19)

Spotlight

Character of the Season
Pavetta

Member of the Season
Nestle

Thread of the Season
A land of absence
and root and stone


Pair of the Season
Bexley and Acton

Quote of the Season
"And all the while her mind, her blood, her fierce and fearless heart was singing, singing, singing." — Shrike in We're under attack!

see here for nominations


DISCORD

Information - DAY COURT LAWS & CUSTOMS
Seraphina — Day Court Sovereign Signos: 3,855
▶ Played by Jeanne [PM] Posts: 240 — Threads: 40
▶ Female [She/Her/Hers] Hth: 17 — Atk: 23 — Exp: 50
▶ 5 [Year 498 Spring] Active Magic: N/A
▶ 16 hh Bonded: N/A
#1


THE DAY COURT

☼ GENERAL LAWS ☼
- The laws of the Day Court are relatively simple in their execution. The Day Court’s sense of justice is reciprocal; what is done unto others will be done unto you.
- i.e., murder is met with execution, maiming is met with maiming, taking out an eye is met with taking out an eye…
- The punishment for crimes of other natures (i.e., theft, treason, etc.) will be decided on a case-to-case basis. The punishment takes the desires of the wounded party into account, and it is often decided by popular vote.
- On very rare and heavily debated occasions, trial by combat might be invoked. This can involve pitting the criminal against one of the Court’s own or against a captured beast and is treated as a public spectacle. Should the criminal survive the trial, their crimes will be pardoned, as it is seen as an expression of Solis’s will.

- Crimes committed against foreigners will be subject to the laws and justice of the court of the wounded party as well as the Day Court, should it prove necessary.

- Crimes committed against Solterran citizens, particularly those committed on Solterran land, are considered by the Day Court to be subject to their own system of justice.

- Foreigners are allowed to pass through and visit Solterra without escort or express permission. However, the Court emphasizes the importance of requesting passage so that foreigners can be provided with a guide, as the deserts are extremely dangerous to those who are unfamiliar to them.

- Foreigners who commit major crimes on Solterran land are exiled; should they return, they will be killed without question, save in rare cases of extenuating circumstances. Minor crimes are met with warnings – three are allowed (and, of course, punished appropriately) before exile.

- The justice of the Day Court is often served swiftly, but the Court does, on occasion, take prisoners. Most often, prisoners are treated with some degree of courtesy, though brutal methods may be employed in extreme circumstances. Because Solterra’s resources are scarce, prisoners are expected to complete manual labor (often in the gardens) to earn food and water for the day.

- Meetings are not mandatory. However, those who do not attend meetings might find themselves a bit out of the loop.

- Alliances are to be regarded with the utmost respect – actions that jeopardize them will be punished with more severity than regular crimes.

- In the past, slavery was common in Solterra; it is outlawed in the modern Day Court and results in especially harsh punishments. The black market dealings they were provided by are being cracked down upon harshly. Merchants require licenses, and unlicensed merchants will be subject to harsh punishments, particularly if they are found dealing in unsavory matters.

☼ CULTURE && CUSTOMS ☼

- Currently, Solterra is experiencing a stiff ideological divide between what remains of the old nobility and the new authority. Those that were in power under the previous monarchy struggle to cling to the structures that gave them power and control and the old conventions of the court, while much of the rest of the court works towards reform.

- Solterrans burn their dead; this is seen as a symbolic return to Solis.

- Worship of gods other than Solis is not expressly forbidden in the Day Court. However, worship of Caligo would be frowned on, if not treated with outright (though notably unsanctioned) hostility.

- Most major decisions of the current Day Court are made in a public setting so that all citizens who wish to comment on the decisions or argue their points are able to do so; the Regime & Champions are considered subject to the will of the Court, and their decisions should accurately reflect the desires of Solterra.

- The culture of the hierarchical monarchy that existed in Solterra prior to Zolin's death was dazzling and indulgent; it strained the people of the court to poverty whilst providing the cruel rulers with whatever they desired. As a result, much of the court goes out of its way to avoid invoking any resemblance to this culture of glamour and excess - those that do are often looked down upon and disliked.

- Solterra has historically been a culture of warriors, and, as such, they are still typically given the most respect in the society of the Day Court; the current Regime is attempting to improve the status of other ranks, particularly given the court's current lack of resources. The Court keeps extensive records on their soldiers, designated by numbers they are given early in their careers, particularly during times of war.

- The great beasts (teryrs & sandwyrms) are given great respect in Solterran culture, seen as extensions of the sun god for their power and violence. Those that can bring down a teryr or sandwyrm have gained the god's favor, at least for a time, and are treated with great respect.

- Certain ranks, under the previous monarchy, were denoted by items and brands; child soldiers wore simple, beaten silver collars, generals wore golden collars (usually with sun symbols carved into them), slaves were generally branded (usually on the right flank with a sun symbol) or given items (such as collars or bracelets) or piercings (generally in the ears) to denote their purpose, high priests and priestesses wore pendants with idols of Solis on them, and members of the nobility wore ornate crowns and wreathes. Many members of the court have abandoned such symbols (if they can), though some still wear them.

- The Court is in the process of expanding on and declassifying their scant historical records. Corruption and deceit have made many of the documents in the library and archives largely irrelevant, however.

- Surprisingly enough, most of the maps of Solterra are star maps; this is largely because of the lack of landmarks in certain areas of the Mors and the Canyons.

☼ FESTIVALS && EVENTS ☼
- Festival of the Sun : coming soonish to a Day Court near you, full of events for the whole family. And violence. But not just violence, because we’re trying to branch out. A celebration of Solis, the sun, life, and light – open to the other courts, should they wish to participate and seek Solis’s favor!

- The Winter Solstice : The shortest day of the year is a sad occasion for the Solterrans; in the surrounding days, they perform various rituals to mourn their dead and reminiscence on the past year.

☼ COURT RELATIONS ☼
- DAWN : tba
- DUSK : tba
- NIGHT : tba








BECAUSE MAN'S FIRST WORDS IN THE FACE OF GOD
are always "forgive me"


please tag Sera! contact is encouraged, short of violence





Reply
Seraphina — Day Court Sovereign Signos: 3,855
▶ Played by Jeanne [PM] Posts: 240 — Threads: 40
▶ Female [She/Her/Hers] Hth: 17 — Atk: 23 — Exp: 50
▶ 5 [Year 498 Spring] Active Magic: N/A
▶ 16 hh Bonded: N/A
#2


THE DAY COURT

☼ THE KINGDOM OF DAY ☼
Imagine sand.

Imagine endless sand - imagine a land so brilliant gold that it is all you see from horizon to horizon. Imagine the sun hitting the crests of the dune and leaving them glistening like foam on the crest of a wave in the midday sun. Imagine a heat that is palpable, like an iron weight crushing down upon you, suffocating you at all times. Imagine a sky of the most brilliant, pristine blue you have ever seen, undisturbed by passing clouds, and a sun that seems to loom, ominous or comforting, over your shoulders wherever you might wander. Imagine an oasis of seemingly-untouched beauty, situated like a rare gem amidst endless, looming danger, threats that lurk on all sides, snakes in the sand.

This is Solterra.


☼ THE MONARCHY ☼
The introduction to a history found in the back of the library of the capitol, written in a neat, swirling flourish :

For approximately one-hundred years, Solterra has been under the rule of a monarchy. It is difficult to find exact dates prior to the reign of Queen Sol III – the rebellion of 1430 destroyed most all of our written documents, so we have little but oral tradition to tell us of the rulers prior. Solis knows that has had enough time to grow mumbled and inaccurate. However, what little has survived tells us that the Day Court as we know it has only existed for the past century. Before that, Solterra was supposedly host to a wide variety of kingdoms and tribes, though records of most of them have been lost, if they existed at all. We have little more than legends to tell us of how Solterra was united, but it was supposedly the conquest of Queen Sol I, the bloodthirsty and brutal warrior-queen and ancestor to the aforementioned Queen. Tragically, it does not seem that her cunning and prowess passed down to Queen Sol III; she was assassinated only months after ascending the throne. Such is the way of the monarchy.

The ruling family, however, has not remained the same; most all of the nobility in Solterra like to claim some relation to Queen Sol I, so they all enjoy contesting their claims to her crown. It seems most likely that her descendants are the family of the current ruler, King Havieel II, who has recently reclaimed the throne from the Azhade Family. King Havieel II is the eldest son of Lady Marcisa Arisetta – her marriage into the family was a scandal at the time, as Solterra has maintained an isolationist stance with both the other courts of Novus and the foreign realms since the reign of King Calvhura I, nearly thirty years ago, and she was supposedly a commoner in her own land, merely lucky enough to catch the eye of a nobleman. Her beauty and cunning have served her well, however, and she has grown to become one of the most influential – and deadly – members of the nobility.

(Almost smudged out, and barely legible: Many claim that the true power in Solterra lies with her.)

King Havieel seeks to maintain Solterra’s isolationist stance. However, rumor has it that he plans to declare war on Denocte – this is not especially uncommon and seems to happen every fifteen years or so, but due to the particularly lavish lifestyles of the monarchs before him, the court is strained for resources.

He is still only a year into his reign, and his Queen Consort, Jarenna, has recently blessed him with a son – Zolin I. It is hasty to make assumptions based on rumors; he has, after all, confirmed nothing so far. We must wait to see what sort of a king he will become.

(The signature is crossed out; when held up to the light, however, it reveals a name. “Gahorra, Historian to the Hajakha family.” Scribbles line the margins – “cross this out,” “no, no, no,” “Solis, what was she thinking?”, “she’ll have our heads.” Perhaps most chilling is the one below the signature, however. “Gahorra found dead this morning. Fell out of window – seems unlikely it was just a fall.”)


☼ THE BOY KING, ZOLIN ☼
How to describe Zolin?

I was not sure what I anticipated upon being welcomed into Solterra after so many years of isolationism – I’d heard rumors of the court from travelers, of course, and read various accounts, but nothing prepared me for the reality of its king.

In whispers, they call him the “boy king” for his childish petulance and careless brutality; he is, indeed, quite like a child. His temper is volcanic and fickle, and the court slaves over his desires – and he has many of them, their indulgence only rivalled by their cruelty. Whatever he desires, however, is given to him without struggle, and perhaps that is why he has grown into what he is today. He has never earned anything in his life.

Zolin dresses like some sort of an oversized, gold-plated peafowl – he wears nothing but gold and claims it is his birthright, as the chosen of the sun god. He stinks of thick, nauseating perfume and incense most all the time, perhaps to disguise the smell of sweat that seems so natural in a desert; in reality, it just mingles the scent and leaves it even more disgusting. In spite of being the leader of a kingdom of Novus’s most powerful warriors, his countenance is flabby and unintimidating. This seems comical until you lay eyes upon the countenance of his people – he waxes as they wane away to nothing.

Although his whims are quick to cause a stir in the court, Zolin seems to hold no true power; he’s never learned to be clever, growing up so sheltered and shallow, and, though he seems to believe he is in command, the true power of the Day Court lies with his advisors. I only met with them once, and they made me shiver. Power-hungry, ruthless wretches, the both of them. Gods only know what destruction they’ve caused – Gods only know what destruction they will cause yet.

Though Zolin seems assured of his power and divinity, it seems to me that he walks on thin ice. His whims and indulgences are further straining the resources of a court that seems to me to be collapsing already, and I wonder how long he will have until his advisors decide that he is more trouble than he is worth and find a new figurehead to bear the blame of their actions. Zolin is in over his head and the water is rising fast – the only one who has not realized this is him.

(Part of a report authored by the Dawn Court’s previous Emissary.)

THE DESTRUCTION OF THE DAVKE

They were like the desert wind, Veerha. I’ve never seen anything quite like it – like their Queen. I’m not sure what possessed them to show themselves now, after all of these years of hunting. Maearic remains convinced that it’s because of that slave we dragged in for the King a few months ago, but I’m not convinced that this creatures are capable of such tender feelings. You know their reputation, don’t you? Bloodthirsty, brutal, and the farthest thing from civilized you could possibly imagine. They say that they hunt unwitting travelers down for sport, or for initiation. Creatures like that don’t love anything but the hunt. Creatures like that don’t feel anything at all.

They were charging blind towards the capitol – I don’t think they knew that we were trailing them, that we had spent all of this time tracking their every move. It was easy enough to intercept them, and easier still to ambush them when it seemed their Queen was so full of rage. (I suppose she is a Queen, but I know little of how their society is structured.) It took quite a fight to bring them down, and I lost many good men to their spears and teeth, but I believe that is safe to say that the Davke will be a thorn in our side no longer. I do not believe that any of them escaped our clutches, save for the King’s slaves, and, even if they did, they must now know what danger comes with provoking the wrath of the Day Court.

We will continue to hunt for stragglers – if any still survive, we will hunt them down like the animals that they are and see them eliminated for good.

(A letter to the Champion of Battle under Zolin, Veerha – the letter’s author, one of Zolin’s head hunters by the name of Alaksi, was found dead by his men with a spear through his chest only weeks after the letter arrived in the capitol.)


THE CONCUBINES OF ZOLIN
I do not know what has spurred the King’s unnatural interest in collecting a hoard of concubines – I suppose he has always been obsessed with beauty, perhaps because he has none to speak of. He has, in any case, spent years neglecting his Queen (Solis have mercy on her soul; she grows sicker with each passing day) and collecting his “crown jewels,” and he spends much of his time lavishing them with attention and expensive gifts…though he does not do so without expectations of which I would rather not think. I believe he thinks of them as dolls, or pets, pretty things to be decorated and shown off and used to his will.

On first glance, their lifestyle seems glamorous and beautiful, but closer inspection is quick to reveal that the environment in which they live is little more than a gilded birdcage, designed more for presentation than the pleasure of its inhabitants. Although a few of them were presented by the noble families, most of them are captured slaves; Zolin has a taste for the “exotic,” and he relishes the opportunity to “tame” it.

All that can be said for the concubines, then, is that they are lucky enough to have some protection from the violence that plagues the court – doing them any harm would be a death sentence, though Zolin himself is quick to beat them into submission – and that they have each other for company. I see them, occasionally, when I go to check on the Queen; I wonder what they talk about, and what they think about, trapped in such a beautiful, horrifying place with no connection to the world outside.

(A letter from a young noblewoman named Elishah, a handmaiden to the Queen; addressed to her elder sister.)



☼ THE NOBILITY ☼
The few, the glamorous – the Solterran nobility have a reputation for their indulgent, vicious behavior. Descendants of the leaders of the various tribes that were united under Queen Sol I to form the Day Court, the noble families hold most of the power in Solterra and spend much of their time vying for more. Solterran politics, then, are a dangerous game of scandal, intrigue, and violence that borders on utter savagery; the court of the sun does not have a reputation for bloodlust for no reason, after all, and in spite of their decadent appearances, many of the nobles are as capable of warriors as the soldiers and guards that keep watch over the desert kingdom, if more prone to grandstanding and flights of fantasy.

Though Solterra’s reputation for blunt brutality might not suggest it, assassination and spying – underhanded tricks in their society, generally associated with Caligo and Denocte – are common among the nobility. They’re just as quick to slip poison into a rival’s water as they are to challenge them to a trial by combat, and they thrive on the unpredictability of their game. That being said, not all of the nobility like their luxuriously self-indulgent and generally cruel, oppressive lifestyle; particularly among the younger generation, rebellious nobles have become relatively commonplace. There are rumors of an underground rebellion, but, in spite of my best attempts to trace them, I am a foreigner and remain distrusted by the court at large. In spite of this more progressive movement, however, it seems that it will take a considerable amount of time – or a complete upheaval of the existing power structure – to cause any major changes to the culture of Solterra.

(From A Traveler’s Guide to Novus, written by the Dusk Court mapmaker and sage Arella.)

PROMINENT FAMILIES

Although Solterra has many noble families, there are four of exceptional prominence – these are the only families that have ever laid claim to the throne, and most of the minor noble families spend their time vying for their favor.

- HAJAKHA : Likely the most direct descendants of Queen Sol I, based off of what scant genealogical records we have prior to 1430 and oral tradition, the Hajakha family is the family of the most recent two Kings. The Hajakha family is perhaps the most glamorous of the noble families; they are the most obviously wealthy, though the Azhade are more than likely wealthier than they, and they enjoy flaunting their resources as a way of throwing their weight around. The Hajakha have a love for beautiful and unique things, and they seek them wherever they go – and they go many places. The Hajakha family is made up of conquerors and explorers by nature, and, though they pride themselves on the purity of their relation to Queen Sol I, they are also the most likely family to marry outside of Solterra, should it suit them.

- AZHADE : The Azhade family prides itself on its cunning; it is perhaps the most subdued of the noble families, less prone to (obvious) decadence and grandiose behavior. The other families, privately, consider them somewhat cowardly because they tend to shy away from acts of violence and battle, which is, supposedly, quite inappropriate for a family of the Day Court. However, the Azhade family has the most ties to Solterra’s black market, and, as a result, they have financial dominion over most of the nobility, if not even more insidious influence. (I wonder how many times they have smirked in the shadows as they heard of a rival noble purchasing a slave that turned out to be an assassin sent for their blood.)

- SEVETTA : Descended from a tribe known for its mastery over blacksmithing, the Sevetta family’s craft has long fallen out of favor amongst its members, although they still retain symbolic mastery by employing (or enslaving) most all of Solterra’s blacksmiths. Over the course of the war with Denocte, the Sevetta family and the Azhade family have been vying for influence and financial power – the black market contends with Solterran steel. However, thanks to a dearth of resources and a war that long overstretched sustainable bounds, the Sevetta family seem to be falling out of favor among the nobility as quickly as their blacksmiths have grown unable to produce more weapons and armor.

- IESHAN : The Ieshan family consists primarily of sages, diplomats, and other peacekeepers – they appear no less decadent than their fellows, but they claim that their glamour and wealth is all for Solis, not themselves. As a result, they spend much of their finances on lavish parties and ceremonies for the sun god, or items that have some connection to his symbols. The Ieshan family does not often hold direct political power, but they are often employed as negotiators by the other families, and, as a result, hold a good deal of sway over their decisions in a more roundabout manner. The Ieshan family, therefore, holds many of the cards in Solterra’s political field, but face few of the consequences.

(From a short report written by Nineve, a thief and spy from Denocte; it was found on her dead body when she was found strangled by her own necklaces in a back room in the capitol.)



☼ THE COMMON FOLK ☼
In the past fifty years, the power dynamics in Solterran society have experienced a radical shift. In the past, although there was a distinct noble class, the position they held was largely ceremonial – their bloodline did not grant them nearly so much power as it does today. Furthermore, they intermarried with the common class on a regular basis, and commoners of exceptional capability could easily surpass the position of a common noble in society. In the court as it is today, bloodline determines most everything about an individual.

This can be traced back to the reign of King Havieel I, who eliminated the Solterran education system. Education soon became a pricey – and powerful – resource, and one that only the nobility could afford. In the years that followed, the differences between the dialect of the Solterran nobles and the commoners became pronounced; this has not progressed to two distinct languages, but the differences can sometimes make understanding between the two classes difficult. Furthermore, they use entirely different written languages, and the written language of the court is only learned by the nobility. The common language, Eibet, is not considered a language at all under Solterran law, and, therefore, all commoners who have not, by some miracle, learned how to write in the language of the nobility, Sahvahn, are considered illiterate. This so-called illiteracy has rapidly degraded their political power, and they no longer have any influence in Solterran law; on the rare occasion that they utilize the courts, they are forced to rely on nobles who rarely have their best interests at heart. The laws are considered holy, supposedly given directly by Solis, and cannot be translated.

Under the reign of King Havieel II and his heir, King Zolin, living conditions for Solterra’s commoners have grown so poor as to be entirely intolerable. (It is, perhaps, unfair to attribute this solely to these two kings. Conditions have been growing worse for years. However, conditions have grown exponentially worse under their rules.) Families starve in the streets while the king languishes away in his golden chambers, gorging himself on food enough to feed six. What little water can be accessed has grown filthy from overuse, and disease runs rampant on the streets. The people can do little more than pray for salvation – though perhaps, if Zolin continues to waste his resources on a senseless war, soon enough his soldiers will no longer provide enough of a threat to keep their anger at bay. We can only hope for revolution.

For now, I hope that this book of translations might help the common folk to learn Sahvhan. Perhaps, Solis willing, this might allow them to reclaim some of the power they have been so cruelly robbed of.

(This book was written by a rebellious young nobleman - he was soon to be executed, and, for his crimes, was so utterly stripped from Solterran records that we are having difficulties finding his name. Angry, red scrawling overwhelms the cover. “I want all of the copies burned immediately” is perhaps the most prominent. The handwriting has been matched to Zolin’s Emissary, Arhid.)

*** The Solterran languages sound almost indistinguishable from the common tongue of Novus, save for superficial, minor differences in pronunciation and slang. However, the written systems are both quite different; most noble Solterrans do know how to write in the common tongue, but many of the common folk do not. At the moment, the Queen is attempting to reinstate a system of education that should remedy this, but, given Solterra’s still-volatile political situation, Solis only knows if this will cause any substantial change.


☼ THE UNDERBELLY ☼
In its heyday, I have read that the Solterran market was something to see. The records we have of it describe the market as the jewel of Solterra. Nestled in the heart of the capitol, it was lined street-to-street with merchants from the world over and our finest craftsmen. You could find anything your heart desired in the Solterran market, or so they say – the promise of militant protection and weapons (as ours were once well-renowned as the best in Novus, if not far beyond) was enough to attract both buyers and sellers of great renown and wealth. With the market, the Solterran economy flourished.

However, under the reign of King Calvhura I, Solterra took an isolationist stance, and, in the process, greatly reduced trade, if not cut it off altogether. The market, then, has been largely destroyed – no longer do you find merchants lining the streets with booths of rare goods, the air heavy with chatter and the sweet scent of wine and pastries. Now, what is left of the market has become something of a trading post for the commoners; they give and take what is needed to survive.

Where, then, do the nobles get their magnificent silks and sweet incenses? The answer is simple: the black market. King Calvhura I’s policies might have restricted trade in the open, but it continues to thrive in the shadows, unregulated, cutthroat, and utterly unpredictable. If you are willing to pay the price for it, and you must pay the price for it, anything your heart desires can be found on the black market. The common folk call it Solterra’s “underbelly” and speak of it with disdain – whether this is for their vicious practices or simply because they cannot so easily utilize it as the nobility is beyond me. (In more recent times, they have been forced to rely on extortionists for even the most basic supplies, so many of them have become entangled with the underbelly whether they like it or not.) Organized crime runs rampant, and the guards and the warden do nothing to police it. If anything, they go out of their way to turn the other cheek.

It is this system that supplies Solterra’s ravenous taste for fine silks, slaves, spies, assassins, poisons, gold, jewels, incense, tonics…whatever you can dream of can now be found somewhere in the shadows. Unlike the market in Denocte, the Solterran black market seems to operate with flagrant disregard for the court’s laws and policies, and, as time stretches on, the most powerful players in the market seem more and more interested in touting their own authority. Gods only knows what that means for Solterran politics – likely nothing good. Solterra has a reputation for brutality, but the market is so inhumane and violent as to be entirely monstrous.

(Translated from Novus: The Desert Kingdom, written by a foreign traveler by the name of Arabella. Part of a collection of four; our library, unfortunately, does not have the volumes on Terrastella, Delumine, and Denocte.)

THE SLAVE TRADE
For all of its history, the Day Court has kept slaves.

In the earliest days of the court, these slaves were primarily prisoners of war and kept strictly to perform manual labor – in the harshness of the desert, they always found ourselves lacking. As their population grew, however, the slave trade grew with it, and soon the nobility (who were the only ones, in truth, who could afford slaves) found themselves desiring slaves for other purposes. Some were kept for pleasure; others for entertainment; others still for craftsmanship; some were forced to fight in for sport; some were even nurses and instructors to their children. As a result, slavetraders have begun to look in other places for slaves. Many are commoners, sold to feed their families; others are taken from foreign lands, hunted down and stolen or traded away. Still others are criminals, sentenced to slavery as a punishment, and others still are captured in Solterra itself – people who will not be missed. Some are auctioned off in the market, and some are auctioned off in private viewings.

The treatment of slaves is notoriously brutal, though most brutality is conducted in private. The nobility loves a show, and they seem to take great joy in showing off their “possessions” – many are adorned in beautiful jewelry and other fineries, even those kept for manual labor, when they are not working. This should not be mistaken for any sort of affection, of course. It is just another way for the nobles to exert their power and influence, a way of saying that even their lowliest things are beautiful and rich. There are no laws in place that protect slaves, so their owners can treat them however they wish, and, because they are not thought of as people, they are treated fickly at best and brutally at worst. It is difficult to explain the nuances of their treatment because it is conducted behind closed doors – to “handle” a slave in public is disgraceful. Suffice it to say, however, that no questions are asked if a slave disappears.

(From a book on the customs and culture of The Day Court, written by the late, renowned scholar and traveler from the Dawn Court, Sidereus.)



☼ WAR WITH DENOCTE  ☼
- We need more steel, Veerha. My blacksmiths cannot continue to craft weapons for our soldiers with so few supplies – it’s impossible. You might use a bit of the king’s budget for his indulgences to fund the war effort that he is so desperate on continuing.

- I cannot send you more steel. I’ve already told you that many times over, Murha, and I would suggest you stop asking. And, if you value your tongue, you will learn to hold it – it is not your place to speak of the affairs of the king. I need twenty soldiers outfitted by the end of the month. I’ve sent the measurements, and I would suggest you work swiftly.

- I cannot outfit your men without more supplies, Champion! You cannot expect me to pull steel from thin air!

- Melt down anything you can find, then. There must be some steel left in the Court.

- You have been saying that for months! Unless you expect us to melt down the king’s playthings, there is no more steel to be had. We’ve requisitioned everything from the common folk, and Solis knows the nobility won’t give us a thing, so we’ve been forced to dismantle the capitol’s infrastructure. This is going to be a mess when the war is over. If it is ever over. If you’re so desperate for weapons, just wait a few more months to bring them back from the battlefield – Solis knows our soldiers have been dying in droves.

- Your defiance does you no favors, and your insolence even less. You insult our soldiers, and our war; we have experienced great success in our campaign against Denocte, regardless of whether or not you can see it. You assume that your talent as a blacksmith protects you, Murha. It does not. If you don’t have enough steel, find something else to use. There are plenty of stones in the canyon.

- Your war has stolen both of my children from me, Champion. My daughter’s body has not been returned to me, and my son has come back dead-eyed, his mind completely destroyed by the power of some Night Court monstrosity. He can’t even speak any longer, and, most of the time, I don’t even think that he knows I am here. I refuse to make any more weapons for a war that we will not win. I won’t wait for you to find an excuse to kill me; by the time you read this letter, I will already be gone.

(Highlights from a series of letters between Murha, known as the Day Court’s most talented blacksmith in six generations, and Veerha, Zolin’s Champion of Battle, sent only months before Zolin's demise. Murha disappeared, along with her son, sometime before the delivery of the final letter – she has never been found.)

THE CHILD SOLDIERS
I went today to see Zolin’s newest “project” – or perhaps I should say it is the “project” of his Warden, Viceroy. What I saw…I have seen war, you understand, and I have seen the wrath of our young King. Brutal violence. Entire families slaughtered for minor offenses. Nothing prepared me for what I saw today.

We have been losing the war for months. Years. We never should have continued it, but we did, and now we are running out of soldiers. Our people starve at home or die on the battlefield – the streets seem emptier with each passing day, as though some great sickness has come across our people, a plague from the gods. Perhaps it is. Perhaps our kingdom is a sickness, left untreated for so many years, growing and growing.

Zolin will not back away from the war, however; his pride is at stake, and he will stop at nothing to preserve it. So he turns to our children, if you can even call them children any longer.

The Warden smiled proudly as he took me around the camp nestled in the Eluetheria Plains. All around us, I saw eyes – children of various ages, hovering in the shadows. Those eyes were dead. I cannot describe them any other way. Cold and empty and nearly predatory, like a snake’s; they watched me with an intensity that made my stomach turn. Fifteen of them, or so, all outfitted with little silver collars, dented and scratched from wear.

Viceroy explained to me how these new soldiers were trained. Many of them were orphans; others had families who’d given them up for pension, with the promise that they’d be fed. They are trained to fight. Missteps and disobedience are punished brutally. They will break almost every bone in their bodies, pierce their organs, break them entirely - and then force a healer, usually one gifted with magic, to mend them again. They feed them toxins and force them to drink poisons that make them more susceptible to “training,” as he puts it. “For special cases,” He said, smiling, “I use my own magic on them – I can manipulate thoughts and memories.” I shudder to think of what that would do to a child.

The result, he claims, is a perfectly loyal, apathetic soldier. They are utterly disposable and entirely aware of it – however, they will serve the Day Court and its sovereign with their lives. If they are captured, they bite out their tongues or kill themselves. They have no qualms with their orders, “unlike the older soldiers,” and they are never disobedient. They have no motivations or desires of their own. They simply do as they are told, and they do it with a brutal, vicious pragmatism.

I know, Mother, that I have been accomplice to many things that you have found undesirable – but this, Mother, this is monstrous. Ungodly. I cannot tear those eyes from my mind, the skeletal, broken qualities of those little dead things. When I saw them, I could only wonder just what I had done.

Solis have mercy on us all.

(A letter from the Champion of Wisdom under Zolin, Calitzah; apparently never sent.)



☼ THE DEATH OF ZOLIN ☼

The boy-king was found dead this morning – throat slit, blood spilled out on his snowy white sheets.

We have not found his killer. Whoever it was appears to have slaughtered any possible witnesses. I am not sure that I care. For what it’s worth, the brute deserved it. (Solis forgive me, but good riddance; if I had to hear any more of his damned temper tantrums or slave away to any more of his gods-damned whims, I’d have done it myself. “I want another concubine! I want that Davke bitch to listen! Bring me a bear!” May that deranged, pompous sot rot somewhere exceedingly unpleasant. He doesn’t even deserve the pyre we’ll have to build him.) The only pity is that the blood has absolutely ruined a perfectly good set of bedclothing.

For now, we’ll contact his first cousin, before any of the other nobles catch wind of this situation and attempt to take advantage of it. She’s still very young and foolish, and I suspect, with her rumored interest in pretty baubles and the theatre, she will be happy enough to lend her power to us. We will keep her satisfied, and she will allow us to do what we will.

(Written by King Zolin’s Reagent, Ysedda, to his Emissary, Arhid. Scribbled below, in the Emissary’s handwriting – “As it should be.”)


☼ THE AFTERMATH ☼
Blood tasted like water on the wind, and flames swallowed the night sky.
Zolin’s death was like wildfire – suddenly, all the court saw it within themselves to rebel. Suddenly, the palace was aflame, all his finery and lavish décor reduced to little more than ashes; his regime and counsel were hunted down and slaughtered like dogs within days, leaving the Court with no organized leadership…not that they would have been of any use or authority as the lands of Solterra collapsed into complete anarchy. The nobility were slaughtered in droves, and what was left of them went into hiding, to varying degrees of success; this was not, however, enough to sate the court’s thirst for blood. Suspicions and tensions ran rampant, the desperate grew even more desperate than every with no organized structure left to rely upon for even the most basic of needs, and only the most isolated and wily were left untouched by such dramatic and endless violence. The underbelly reared its ugly head and began to fill in the power vacuum, but even the most talented and established dealers on the black market were unable to contain the savagery that the Court descended into; no amount of power or authority or resources granted them safe haven. Rage and death won the day, and the days long after it.

Soon, however, flames would flicker out, leaving the Court as embers; soon, the Court would grow into some semblance of stability as rebellion ran its course, leaving it in search of a new leader.


☼ THE NEW SOLTERRA ☼
Solterra rose from the ashes. It always does.

The first to attempt to reunite the broken fragments of a Court was Maxence, a foreign warrior. After dealing the final blow to an elder teryr, Maxence was crowned the new King of Solterra. Although his reign was tumultuous in more ways than one (including an impromptu visit to Dusk, where he demanded an alliance, and an incident where he stole the Night Court’s Warden, Rostislav, provoking most all of Denocte), under Maxence’s rule, Solterra began to pull itself together again. The Solterra that should have died with Zolin began to rear its ugly head in the shadows; the nobility took their first steps out of hiding, and traders arrived with less-than-savory goods in tow.

Maxence’s reign was cut tragically short by an attack by an elder teryr – whilst protecting his people, he was snatched out of the sky and carried away to his presumable death. In the aftermath of his death, his young Emissary, Seraphina, stepped up to take the throne; a Solterran native, she was aware of the appropriate traditions of the monarch, and shunned them almost immediately by donning her silver collar instead of a crown during her ascension. Whether this was a symbol of defiance or simply something she did not consider, given her background, remains to be seen.

Now, she struggles to control a kingdom that remains volatile. The nobles seek to regain the power they lost, the common folk, newly empowered, seek assurance that Zolin will not happen again, the black market resumes its trade in the background in spite of the young Queen’s attempts to crack down on it, newly-freed slaves struggle to find their footing and face opposition on most all sides, and threats lurk both inside the court and out. Denocte looms in the distance, but perhaps there is more threat to be found in the snakes lurking in the capitol’s halls. In the midst of all of this, the new regime attempts to implement reform and change the bloody landscape of Solterra-

Unfortunately, attempting to control the shifting sands seems to remain all too futile a venture.











BECAUSE MAN'S FIRST WORDS IN THE FACE OF GOD
are always "forgive me"


please tag Sera! contact is encouraged, short of violence





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