Tenebrae

Overview

Demonym: Tenebrian
Climate/biome: Mild to cold woodland, largely cultivated
Area: Medium
Population density: Moderate
Common Inhabitants: Human, elves, elhan
Uncommon Inhabitants: Equitarn, abilen, awakened
Rare Inhabitants: Eladrin, thulls, wu-kan

Called “the Kingdom of Shadow”, Tenebrae is one of the three human kingdoms. It is best known for its strong relationship with arcane magic, and for its great sin, the creation of the Shadow Rift.

The Shadow Rift is a complicated topic for Tenebrians. They know that it is a dreadful thing to which they owe their survival, and they face its deadly presence with grim resolution. However, they are fiercely defensive about its creation. For all that he is a controversial figure, Lucius I is definitively a national hero to his people.

Leadership

Tenebrae is a hereditary monarchy currently led by King Lucius III, the grandson of its first ruler. Although the king’s rule is absolute, the monarchy employs a hierarchy of elected governors and mayors to handle matters beneath national importance, so in practice most matters are determined by the preferences of individual communities.

Outside of the dangers created by the Shadow Rift, Tenebrae actually enoys a fairly high standard of living. The state takes an active interest in public welfare, and does what it can to provide for those who lack food, shelter and medical care. Tenebrians are also unusually well-educated, thanks to a national schooling program instated after the war.

Relationships

Tenebrae is famously reviled as a nation of demon-worshipers by its southern neighbour, the theocracy of Aurion. In turn, it considers them religious fanatics, and is proud to be deemed heretical in their eyes. The peace between the two is an tenuous as any Alm has ever seen.

Kalyvas, to the west, does not hate but certainly disdains Tenebrae. They made their choice, it says, and they certainly aren’t going to compromise their own security to save Tenebrians from the undead they created. Tenebrae, in turn, considers Kalyvas a nation of posturing cowards who abandoned them in the face of a fascist invasion.

Outside of the human nations, Tenebrae is generally viewed with suspicion (they did create a plague of undead) but also sympathy (Aurion does view all non-humans as monsters). Their strongest allies are the trade hubs, Ashar and Independence, who are always looking to buy and sell magical components and enchanted items. They also find unexpected favour with Deepwood, who view Tenebrae’s history with Aurion as similar to their own experience with Calanshae.

Persons of Note

King Lucius III

Tenebrae’s current king, Lucius III, is a melancholy young man with a deep love for his people. He is the direct descendant of the king who created the shadow rift, and it’s often remarked how closely he resembles his grandfather. Rumours abound that the old king has magically extended his life somehow—but if the citizens actually believe this, they never never seem too bothered by it.

The rumours are surprisingly close to true. Lucius III is indeed Lucius I, his ritual having unintentionally tied his own life to the Shadow Rift, making him Alm’s first vampire. Eternally insecure over his terrible choice, he considers it his duty to watch over Tenebrae eternally, and do what he can to one day close the Rift—even if doing so will detroy him.

Lucius has succeeded himself twice so far, thinking it best that his first self should die young, not long past the end of the war. Replacing himself without actually producing any children has been tricky, but he has managed it with the aid of minor illusion and subterfuge, and his royal co-conspirators, Sabine and Ada.

Queen Ciara

Ciara is wife of Lucius III, formerly a low-class seamstress in a small border town. She met the king while he was abroad, and the two married quickly, against his advisor’s wishes. Her rags-to-riches romance has earned Ciara many enthusiasts among the populace, particularly as her plain-spoken nature is sure to upset any stuffy formal affair.

Ciara is in fact Sabine, a succubus summoned by Lucius many years ago to aid in his ongoing ruse. More playful than malicious, she is delighted to enjoy her indefinite stay in the material world, and loves messing with mortal politics. She continually reinvents herself whenever she gets bored with her current “storyline”, even if it means the current queen must suffer a tragic premature death.

Ada

The king is almost never seen without one of his loyal hounds, massive white beasts as powerful as wolves. The breed, created by Lucius I and unique to Tenebrae, may only be owned by the royal family. Superstition holds that other beasts know to fear the royal hounds, and dare not attack the king while one is present.

The hound is the final partner in the royal conspiracy, the werewolf Ada. Like Lucius, she was the first of her kind in Alm; she seems to be a freak accident caused by his ritual. Proud of her power but uncertain of her existence, she ultimately chose to remain at his side.

Stern and sensible, Ada prefers to stay in her animal form to keep watch over the others. However, she is often the one to handle mundane matters while the King broods and the Queen enjoys her distractions. In private, she is an equal partner in their relationship, though the King is mostly disinterested in physical affection.

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