Demonym: Calanish; of Calanshae. Calan; a person who is Calanish
Climate/biome: Mostly mild woodland, heavily cultivated
Population density: High
Common Inhabitants: Eladrin, elves
Uncommon Inhabitants: Abilen, elhan realm
Bordering on mighty Brandeis and fey-touched Deepwood, Calanshae is a nation established many ages ago by eladrin who manipulated the Deepwood elven tribes into an alliance, and went on the build an empire rivalling that of the gnolls.
Today it is small, but accomplished in the area of courtly intrigue; eladrin form the ruling class over a generally-exploited elven working class. Those elves who will not abide by eladrin rule often flee to Deepwood, which is too savage for most eladrin to enter.
Calanshae’s government uses a unique combination of hereditary and political succession. Its nobles may hold their positions for life, but are free to choose whomever they prefer as their successor, rather than passing to a direct descendant. In practice, this often this means a favourite child anyway—but, thanks to the their lifespan making families large and rather distant, eladrin nobles just as often choose other individuals who win their favour. Bloodlines are important to them, family less so.
This is true even of their high sovereign, the Shining Lord; thus, Calanish nobles devote much of their time to plying the Shining Lords’ favour in hopes of being named a potential successor. The forced politeness of Calanish politics typically keeps them from coming to open hostilities, but this doesn’t mean that those close to the top are anything less than ruthless in their ambition.
On the topic of elven marginalisation, the Calanish government likes to point out that there are certainly no laws against selecting an elf—or even some other creature—as an heir. What can be done, if every noble still prefers an eladrin successor? Forcing them to pick an elf for its own sake, they say, would be as wrong as forcing them not to.
Since its earliest histories, the gnollish clans were the dominant power on the Almish mainland. Some lands remained outside of their control—particularly the feywild-linked forests of Deepwood and Heartwood—but the elves living there had no interest in fighting the gnolls beyond their homes.
This changed abruptly when the eladrin appeared. Recognising a shared connection to the feywild, the elves of Deepwood believed these newcomers their kin, and answered their call to begin an offensive against the gnolls.
This alliance would go on to flourish beyond the Calans’ greatest expectations. With their advanced magic, the eladrin proved to be the most effective force yet to push back against the gnoll empire—even as they largely avoided the front lines formed by their elven allies. They also embraced a desire for expansion, beginning an aggressive push for territory. Where the elves had never cared for conquest, the eladrin claimed everything they could—leading, ultimately, to the nation of Calanshae.
This “War of Empires” lasted centuries. The gnolls had numbers, ferocity, primal magic and bizarre wild beasts. The eladrin had their long lives, advanced knowledge and arcane prowess, and the aid of their elven allies. Territories changed hands dozens or hundreds of times, but neither empire managed to break the other.
The end of the War was truly the end of an age—and the start of Calanshae’s decline. They lost almost all their territory, pushed back to one corner bordering the Brandish holdings.
The Calans rallied famously, however. They would go on the frame themselves not as losers but as masterminds; they decided on their own that the time of empires was past, and saw that they could safely draw back as long as the gnolls were also checked by the Brandish army. Truly, they must be nothing less than the forefathers of the modern world.
Persons of Note
Hailed as the founder of the Calanish nation, Lord Cinarion is credited with bringing the elves into eladrin society, and creating what the Calans call the first civilised nation on Alm. By all accounts a military mastermind, he presided over many successful campaigns, and dedicated much to the progression of arcane research and development.
Cinarion is highly honoured and glorified by Calanshae’s art and culture. Of course, he also led the effort to “uplift” the elves into Calanish culture, using all the tools typical to colonial forces. Outside of those who are invested in believing such efforts to be noble, his memory is substantially less revered.
An unparalleled master of the spear, Anyariel was an elven warrior of the Tuatha, the elves of Heartwood. She famously pledged her loyalty to Calanshae in the early days of the alliance, and was often depicted at Lord Cinarion’s side on his various campaigns.
However, her story took a tragic turn when her own people came into conflict with Calanshae. Calanish history holds that Heartwood began the violence, but many scholars think it more likely that hostilities were the result of Calanshae trying to assert its rule over the Tuatha.
Whatever the reason, Anyariel’s honour eventually forced her to raise her spear against her homeland—a decision so terrible, she is said to have taken her own life shortly after Heartwood fell.