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The Kingdom of Pardinal
Nation of sailors and simple folk, Pardinal is a place many seek to build families, retire to, or seek the olden ways. Those of the druids and rangers seek the peace and beauty of this land. So too do knights and ladies fair look to the verdant meadows, gleaming castles, and courts of love, dance, merriment, and tournaments. - Aerolus Undargen, noted sage
Having lived in Pardinal all my life, I have come to the conclusion that Aerolus Undargen never made it to Portua. - Shylock Wier, noted sage
There are only three professions in Pardinal: farmer, sailor and bandit. - author unknown
It has been said that there are only three professions in Pardinal: farmer, sailor, and bandit. I find that to not be entirely true. Actually it is farmer, sailor, and politician; it is a fine distinction, but why give bandits a bad name? - King Leo IV
Pardinal is the nation south of Ertain and west of Coria, and has the largest coastline of any of the human kingdoms. Portua, the capital city, has a large port facility, second only in size to the great port city of Bayris. Many Pardinese (called "Pardies" or "Pards" by their neighbors) take to the profession of sailor on the great caravels and trading ships of Pardinal. As such, Pardinal has a close alliance with the city of Bayris and the unique islands of Len-Dore.
Inland, Pardinal is a beautiful country filled with forests, rolling hills and deep rivers. Much of Pardinal is unspoiled, with most of the farming and livestock occurring in the south. Lush farmlands stretch to the south between Misthaven and Visden. Between Fudrien and the Haven's Arch, livestock is raised in the vast grasslands by ranchers. There is abundant fishing along the coast and in the many lakes and rivers of the land. It is said that no man can starve to death in Pardinal.
The Railir Peaks and the surrounding hills are an eternal source of trouble to Pardinal. Many humanoids and monsters consider these mountains their home, and it is not uncommon for ogres, orcs and other fell beasts to come down from the mountains to raid the nearest farms or towns. It is perhaps because of these attacks that the idea of a single standing army never took hold in Pardinal. Most towns have a patron lord, a throwback to the feudal system, who maintains a military force of his own. The King's Riders, an elite force of messengers who answer only to the king, are charged with the responsibility of running messages and warnings to towns, as well the summoning of the personal armies.
Culture and Society: Nowhere in all of Antaron is there a place with such a dichotomy of types of people. In the fields and farmlands, Pards are a simple folk who love the land, enjoy a good story, a good drink, and any form of merriment. The people of the land are plain speaking, almost blunt to one another, which often disturbs the visitors from Ertain or Coria. However, the generosity and kindness of the people is renowned. They wear simple clothing, are very practical, and have an earthy common sense about them.
Then you enter the cities, or to a lesser degree, the castles, keeps and small towns that dot the landscape. City folk tend to be showy, well-spoken, and self-serving. Politics is a game that everyone plays, and everyone knows how well everyone else is playing. Status, position, money, and favors are the pieces and the court of Portua is the board in this expansive game of Hazards. (see Politics)
The Pardinese that seek the life of the sea are very different from their land-dwelling brethren. They have a more worldly view, having seen more of Antaron than most people ever will. The sailors wear exotic clothing (sometimes quite revealing), and generally have a looser moral code than those on land. They often make satirical songs and jokes about Pardinal, and generally view both city and farm folk as fodder for their humor.
All Pardinese are known for being bold, blunt, shrewd, and having a self-directed satirical sense of humor. They openly mock their lords, each other, and even their king. In fact, one of the biggest celebrations in Pardinal is the Midsummer Eve Festival. This celebration of the gods and the seasons lasts for three days and is a huge social event. The last day of celebration is referred to as King Leo Day. On King Leo Day, most Pardinese dress up like the king, wearing bright, gaudy clothing and fake crowns. Purple is worn by commoners, despite the law. Prizes are often given for the best (or worst) impressions of the current King. This tradition is performed annually in honor of King Leo IX, who was actually an impersonator for most of his reign (see history).
Strangely, they do not have this sense of humor to anyone outside of Pardinal making similar jokes.
Gods: Solanis, Lysora, Kith-Jora, Cardista, and Alanus (although not openly) are worshipped in Pardinal. Pardinese do not spend a lot of time in temples but honor the gods through hard work and respectful observation.
Bandits: Until recently, this "national pastime" was a distant memory of the days when vassal lords held sway over vast number of serfs who were treated like slaves. Banditry became a better way of life than working the fields. Then after King Leo IV made the "possession" of serfs punishable by death, banditry lost it's general appeal. It resurged when the feudalistic system took hold again after the Leo Dynasty died out. Then after the Covenants were rescinded by King Furidan I, banditry died out again in favor of working the fields. With current events being what they are, it is not surprising that it is on the rise once more.
The Beginning (38 BER to 8 BER)
After the fall of the Empire of Drannon, the assorted dukes and lords with military forces and influence set about making the country of Pardinal. The first council was formed to address the choosing of one of their members as king. After the years of fighting and bloodshed, no one really wanted to have another war to decide who would rule, but with Sendria forming to the north, a single leader was necessary. The first king was chosen by a series of ballots leading to the ascension of King Hubris of the Melbren family. To prevent bloody civil war from occurring again, and so that the Dukes did not lose all power, the Accord of Portua was created, stating that if a King were to die without heir, a new council would be formed to choose another king. This was put into effect three years later after Hubris died in a hunting accident before having a child. Thus it went for about ten years with a series of kings that did not stay in power long, and no legal heirs.
Feudalism, the system of land ownership that Drannon had established, remained the system of Pardinal. Feudalism is not a system of the free, and banditry became a problem. This would eventually lead to the first and only civil uprising in Pardinese history. Called by historians "The Great Serfs Uprising", it was actually not that great nor was it much of an uprising. Since Pardinal did not have a central military, it was more of a skirmish that badly got out of hand. Whatever the intensity of the Uprising, King Yulania of the Poketri family was forced to change the system slightly to appease the people.
Then in 8 BER, Yulania died of a brain fever, leaving an 8 year old heir, Julania and his wife (Julania's stepmother, Brallan) to deal with the ramifications of his actions. Brallan managed to manipulate her way through the dukes to allow her son being made king with her serving as regent until his 18th birthday. Many historians believe that the arrangement was based upon Brallan following the orders of the dukes, but there is a great deal of evidence that she did otherwise. In six years the changes of Yulania had been reversed and things were worse than they had been before the Great Serf Uprising. In self-defense, the dukes formed a secret council, seized power from Brallan, and executed her for high treason. Julania was allowed to live, but was stripped of power completely. The boy-king was fourteen at the time and later was exiled from Pardinal to live in Coria for the rest of his days.
The Stable Years (8 BER to 86 ER)
The next few years marked the beginning of the Golden Age of Pardinal. A new king was put on the throne, Perscal of the Wysnet Family. Perscal put limits on how much a vassal lord was allowed to take from his workers, and the concept of "serf" was abandoned. The next years lead to the Merchant Guild forming as well as the Farming Guild. Ships begin sailing the seas and bringing trade to the Pardinese world.
The Leo Dynasty (87 ER to 201 ER)
In 86 ER, King Leo I (Wysnet) was placed on the throne after the death of Keonel II (Menbren). This was the beginning of the Leo Dynasty, and the best years of Pardinal's history. Under the nine Leos who ruled during the next one hundred ten years, Pardinal flourished with trade from all over Antaron. Guilds formed and grew powerful, vassal lords became Patron Lords and the commoners became Landowners. The merchant class grew in power and prestige, almost to the level of nobles. It was during this time that the game of the courts began and Hazards became a popular game. Leo V brought about the first covenant so that Pardinal might become a land where people came to be free from persecution for their beliefs.
But, as they say in Pardinal, all good things must end. King Leo IX died on the night of his coronation. The circumstances of his death are lost in antiquity, but the common story goes that he died while attempting to sire an heir. Needless to say, his wife was not pleased, and did what any good Pardinese woman would do given the scandal that could arise from such an event - she covered it up. Whether it was fate, the will of the gods, or all those Pardinese stories, she found that the gardener of her familial castle had a marked resemblance to Leo IX. Using wigs, makeup, and a very talented Sanjan, this gardener was passed off as the king. In fact, it is King Leo IX who forged the trade alliance with Bayris, established trade with Len-Dore, and created the limitation of powers to balance the growth of the guilds. By all accounts, Leo IX was, during his reign, the most popular and beloved king in Pardinese history.
But he died in 202 ER, on the throne, of a massive heart attack. Had he died in his bed, or in his chambers, his true identity would never have been found out. But when the courtier he had been talking to suddenly found an orange-red wig in his hands and a dead king at his feet, little could be done to save the charade. The queen was executed for high treason, her Sanjan branded as an oathbreaker, and Leo the Gardener was destined to be buried in an unmarked common grave. However, many of the powerful guilds and merchants forced the dukes to give a proper burial to the man who was king. While lying in state, Leo the Impersonator had more people pay their respects than any king previously, a sign of high regard in Pardinese society.
The Dark Years (202 ER to 247 ER)
After the death of the Impersonator, hard times fell upon Pardinal. King after king ascended the throne, from all families except the Wysnet, still rocked by the scandal. The patron lords seized vast power by default, and feudalism took over as a way of life once again. The dukes and lords all began to sell covenants to increase the number of vassals holding land and personal armies. Then the sea captains began to buy covenants to plunder the ships of wealthy merchants at will. Soon a new class of nobles, called the Ventar Lords, came into being, wealthy from looting and murder. Truly, this was a dark time for Pardinal. Within twenty-five years of the Impersonator's death, all that the Leo Dynasty had created was destroyed and Pardinal was nearly as dark of a place as Sendria.
The Furidan Dynasty (247 ER to 348 ER)
Furidan I (Poketri) was given crown and throne at the early age of 25. Many believe that Furidan was to be a puppet for the dukes, but within a year of his ascension, he proved that theory wrong. He rescinded all covenants, and used the help of Bayris to crush the power and position of the Ventar Lords. For sixty years, Furidan I reigned and reestablished the free merchant market. He balanced the powers of guilds, lords and nobles by establishing "The Court," a building in Portua where all political dealing would occur. In the Court, guild, merchant, lord, and noble all wielded equal power.
Furidan was succeeded by his son and grandson, who kept up the struggle for Pardinal's peace and prosperity.
The "Travers-ty" Years (348 ER to 379 ER)
After Furidan III died heirless, the council gave power to Wilmarn I (Travers). Over the next 30 years, Wilmarn squandered the fortune of the royal treasury and that of his own family on a project to discover the origins and purpose of Haven's Arch. He also spent money on bards, harpers, and other artists, in order to write long epics about him and his family's great achievements. In the end, they had a lot of bad poetry and no clue as to what Haven's Arch is or what it's purpose might be.
The Wyll Kings (380 ER to 431 ER)
The council was at an impasse, with every family scheming for power and no one willing to give up or give in to another. Thus, the merchant family of Wylls managed to buy enough dukes and scheme enough schemes that they were given the power of the crown. King Schelah took the throne and managed to pass it on to his son. The Wylls turn out to be good rulers, although very biased towards merchants and the trades.
Current years (432 ER to 452 ER)
King Julhoun I (Menbren) is given the throne in 432 ER after Schelah II dies without heir. (see Current Events)
Covenants: The idea behind the giving of the covenants was to allow certain people or groups to practice rites or beliefs that were not accepted by society in general, without fear of unjust persecution. Covenants were small tracts of lands set aside by nobility for these groups so they could live in peace. Those within a covenant had to follow King's Law, but as long as they did, they could not be touched by local authority. Never would a covenant be given to a group who wanted to follow an evil god or the like, but only to the people who "thought" differently from the norm. In the beginning, it was a truly noble and typically Pardinese sensible idea. The first covenant was given out by King Leo V to a group of Kith-Joran followers lead by a man named Josyph Solstice. They believed that eating meat was murder and a disgrace to the gods. Naturally, in a society of farmers and ranchers, this idea did not gather a lot of support, and in fact there was some violence, as well as one reported lynching. Josyph went to King Leo V and appealed to him. It was from the imaginative mind of Leo V that Covenants were born. (See history, The Leo Dynasty)
Unfortunately, like many things in Pardinal that start out sensibly, the ideas of covenants became quite attenuated over time due to the political greed of the nobles. After the last of the Leos died off, the royal nobles began giving covenants as political favors and gifts. This lead to the covenants being given to sea captains who, by the legal word of the covenant, were protected from persecution, but did not have to follow King's Law because they were not on King's land. The profession of Covenanteer (or "Ventars" in the common tongue) was born, and many Pardinese sailors turned to piracy. Very quickly the Ventar lords became rich men preying on the merchants they once worked for, completely protected by the deed of covenant. This lasted for a number of decades until King Furidan I ended the practice of covenants entirely and, with the help of Bayris, ended the reign of the Ventars on the seas. According to rumor, the coffers of the King are still full with the gold "liberated" from the Ventar lords.
Current Events: King Julhoun I of the Menbren family rules over Pardinal and has for about twenty years. He is about sixty years old, in very poor health, and has recently been abandoned by his son and heir who, according to rumor, has left the country. It is believed that the heir left soon after the king announced he was marrying again, a young lady that was not only the heir's age, but the childhood sweetheart of the young man, as well.
King Julhoun is accomplished player of Hazards in both senses. Julhoun is an opportunist who rarely makes decisions unless they in some way benefit him personally. Recently, Julhoun reinstated the giving of covenants, but only if signed by the hand of the king. He has allowed, by neglect, the other royal families to take powers upon themselves that should never be allowed in any hand but the king. This has lead to many "Barons" and "Viscounts" appearing with gifts of lands and their own personal army. Feudalism is beginning to have resurgence in Pardinal.
The Sanjan: The Sanjan is the personal "manservant" of the nobility. Everyone who is anyone simply must have a Sanjan. The Sanjan is the keeper of appointments, records, and all things of power. They are the ones who arrange the meetings, orchestrate the power struggles, and set up the "affairs" of state. The Sanjan have a simple code: Keep the Word and the Silence. The Word refers to the unbreakable confidence that a noble must have in their Sanjan to arrange things as they have been instructed. The Silence refers to the faith that a Sanjan will never reveal his master's secrets to another person.
Sanjan are trained from a very young age. They are taught about politics, diplomacy, and many of the skills needed to run the day to day life of a noble. They are also taught the even more useful skills of hiding in shadows, moving silently, and talking in a complex secret language to allow discussions between Sanjan, without anyone ever understanding the true topic. The language is quite interesting, as it uses the same words as the common tongue. However, two Sanjan discussing the price of fish at the market are really making arrangements for one noble to do another a favor for future consideration. No outsider has ever figured out the Sanjan language and to date no Sanjan has broken the silence. It has been suggested that there are many secret languages that actually linked a code word. So if a Sanjan walks up to another and asks, "How is the market today?" he is actually saying which of the languages he would like to use.
The number of Sanjan that have broken the code or betrayed their masters has been very few throughout time. Any Sanjan caught at such a crime is stripped of their rank, whipped one hundred times, publicly stripped, and branded on both cheeks with the symbol of a broken chalice (oathbreaker). Such a person would have to leave Pardinal immediately because they would be shunned and treated as vermin by any who see the brand.
In return for such dedicated service, Sanjan gain a level of power, prestige and personal wealth unheard of outside of the nobility. Merchants regularly give Sanjan discounts and gifts, not to mention that nobles respect the word and opinion of a well-placed Sanjan.
The Riders: The Riders are the personal guard and protector of the king. Originally messengers that rode between vassal lord to king with orders and instructions, the Riders have changed over time to the elite fighting force they are now. Riders can come from any background, though very few nobles seek such a perilous undertaking, and start training at a very young age. The weapon of choice and symbol of the Riders is the cutlass. As explained at the start of training, the cutlass has two sides, one sharp and one blunt. The sharp side represents the willingness of the Riders to fight for king and country. The blunt side represents their duty to protect the King and family at all costs.
Riders are trained extensively with horses and even with the most ordinary of horses, can go great distances and tremendous speeds. The Riders also raise their own horses that are faster and have great endurance. These horses are almost always chestnut colored, with a white mark on the left haunch, similar to a hand. Some say that the horses are magical, but a Rider will laugh at such a comment and say, "All horses are magical." Riders also receive intensive training with cutlass and short bow as primary weapons, as well as basic training on survival in the wild, hunting, and endurance.
Currently there are about one hundred Riders serving the king (which is an all time low) under the leadership of Gertrude Parsinal. Gertrude is a fiery temper redheaded woman who pushes the Riders to their limit, while mothering them at the same time. There are rumors suggesting that Gertrude and the current King do not like one another, but Gertrude would never abandon her position nor break the code of the Riders.
Throughout history, the Riders have endured many a noble's idea on how to improve their "look." The riders resist any such notions that have included: all white uniforms, switching their mounts to an all black breed, training in agriculture, and wearing of purple armbands to denote their loyalty to the king. Despite these many suggestions over time, the Riders have maintained their own uniform of brown and green over leather amour.
Trade and Commerce: Pardinal is known for its vast fleet of ships which exports and imports goods to and from all over Antaron. This is made possible by the mix of hardwood and softwood that is available in the kingdom for making ships. There are two vast forests near Portua that are reserved for the huge oak and ryonwood trees needed to make the central masts of the caravels.
There are two trees that are completely indigenous to Pardinal; ryonwood and harpswood. Ryonwood is a hard wood that is very resistant to water and rot. It is reddish in color and grows to heights of 30 to 50 feet. Excellent for rudders, masts, and the hull of ships, this wood is sometimes exported at very high prices. A quarterstaff of ryonwood is a highly prized weapon of the druids. Harpswood is a smaller softwood tree, known for its rapid growth and its particular orange-colored pulp. Harpswood is highly pliable, especially when soaked in water or oils. Some of the best harps and lutes in Antaron are made of harpswood.
Lumber, cloths, some iron ore, and precious gems are exported overseas. Mostly Pardinal trades in the goods of Len-Dore Isles and Bayris to the countries that do not have the ready access to such finery. The shells, pearls, colorful cloths, and fiery drinks of Len-Dore fetch a high price. Try as they might, Pardinese sailors have not made their way into the Tiborn Isles to open up that market. Livestock and foodstuffs are traded with the closer neighboring countries of Coria and Ertain.
Values and Taboos: It is difficult to look at the values of the Pards without splitting them into the three groups of farmers, sailors, and city-folk; however, there are some things that run true in all Pardinese. They have a great love of music and celebration. The Harper and Bardic Guild is one of the most powerful and influential in all of Portua. They especially love music, songs and verse that contain the "double" theme. Pardinese literature is filled with stories of heroes who are actually the villains, kings that are actually commoners, and people in disguise as someone else.
Despite the intrigue and the scheming, Pards do not often sink to the level of murder, as it is considered "bad form" or "cheating." Anyone can have someone killed, but then you lose a potential ally in the future. That is not to say it never happens, but it is extremely rare. It is very important to the people who play the game, to look like they are not playing the game. Image is everything to a well-placed Pard.
Pardinese also love a good drink, and even love a bad one. It is considered taboo in Pardinal to do business with someone who will not drink with you. In fact, when business is going to be discussed, an opening drink called a "dealin" is always served. If you go to even the smallest of towns in Pardinal, you will find someone who makes their own cider, beer, or mead. Some of it is very good, and some of it is just plain awful. A good example of this is the beer called Bullseye. Made near Strykhaven, Bullseye has a very sweet aroma, a bitter flavor and an aftertaste that can only be described as sea-salt mixed with oranges. Not surprisingly, Bullseye doesn't trade well.
Politics: Pardinal is ruled by a King who presides over five "royal" families, a vast amount of noble lords, and even more minor lords and families. Furthermore, the assorted guilds also have a voice in the courts, especially the Bards & Harpers, Merchants, Field & Ranch Workers, and the Sailors. Whenever a king dies without heir, the leaders of the royal families meet at council and choose a person to rule. The royal families, in an attempt to keep the bloodline pure, are much inbred, and often have no heirs. A member from a royal family is always chosen, with only one recent exception (see History, Wyll Family). In theory, each royal family controls an equal portion of Pardinal and is responsible for its defense, upkeep and people. The royal families then appoint Wardens, Mayors and Patron Lords to govern over the people and maintain defensive armies. This system has had some success and some failure over time.
There were originally four royal families, but about 70 years ago the Wylls moved themselves into power. The Wylls are a merchant family, who control Misthaven and the port within. The current head of the Wyll family is also the head of the Merchant's Guild.
The Royal Families: Note the ruling king flies his banner as that of the country. This has led to many distinct flags flying over Pardinal over the years.
The Menbren Family (currently ruling)
Coat of Arms: A falcon, diving in attack
Ancestral Home: Kheldor Keep
Generally thought of: Schemers that are self-serving, dislike supporting the arts, hate the guilds, lean towards old feudal system
The Travers Family
Coat of Arms: Pegasus with wings spread
Ancestral Home: Strykhaven Keep
Generally thought of: apathetic of change but social minded, love supporting the arts, neutral to guilds, lean towards old feudal system
The Wysnet Family
Coat of Arms: Owl poised on a branch
Ancestral Home: Willow Castle
Generally Thought of: Good family, balanced approach, open-minded to arts and guilds, support free merchant system, have not ruled since the Leo Dynasty.
The Poketri Family
Coat of Arms: Charging Bull
Ancestral Home: D'Hara Keep
Generally Thought of: Industrial, business minded, neutral to arts, open minded to guilds, leans to free merchant system
The Wyll Family
Coat of Arms: Unicorn, head down ready to attack
Ancestral House: Misthaven Castle
Generally Thought of: Trade minded, profit oriented, dislike supporting the arts, loves the guilds, love the free merchant system
Hazards (The Game): A game played on a board drawn with 16 by 16 squares. There are 16 pieces, each that have there own unique movement and powers. King, Queen, Prince, Jester, Rider, Guard, Farmer, Merchant, Priest, Mage, Bandit, Goblin, Courtier, Lady, Lord, Sailor. At the start of the game, each player must declare one piece as a spy, write that piece's name on a piece of paper and place under the edge of the board. The object of the game is to either to have the only king on the board, or to have your spy piece take the opponent's queen. Grand Hazards tournaments are played in Pardinal with much wagering on winners. It is widely believed that the first covenant was won by Josyph Solstice who beat King Leo V in Hazards.
With all Royal families being considered equal, the need to establish power and prestige takes a difference path in Pardinal. Hazards is also the name for the game of the Court: the intrigue and power plays of the nobles to gather favors and put themselves into greater power. The court of Pardinal is mired in deception, double meanings, and hidden agendas. For the outsider, it is difficult to understand all that is going on in the court. For example, it is an open secret that nobles have affairs on each other. It is, in fact, a measure of status for a man, the number of affairs his wife is having, for it gives him more allies. However, although it is an open secret, it cannot become a spoken one - for if it is exposed, it will become a great scandal and can ruin an entire family name. The same holds true for the men. In fact, many believe that the Sanjan class was created strictly to keep one's affairs in order so that husband and wife wouldn't pass each other in the hallways on their way to their secret trysts. (see Sanjan) Status is everything, power comes from status and money can buy status. Truly, the court of Pardinal is not for the faint of heart, or the highly moral. To be called a great Hazard player can have many connotations. King Julhoun I is considered one of the best Hazard players of his generation.
Haven's Arch: An ancient ruin thought to take one to the lands of gods. Much speculation exists over where it would lead, such as: Jusarin's great library at Starhiem, or the throne of the Gods themselves. But no one truly knows... and no one has been able to get the 80' arch to ever change. For now, it is an edifice of carved stone made by unknown hands or magic eons past. - Yanamari, the Great Cartographer
Haven's Arch is a massive archway in the middle of nowhere. It is 80' high, 40' wide at its base, and is 20' feet thick. It is made of a white stone with metallic flecks, similar to marble. This stone is not indigenous to Pardinal, nor anywhere in Antaron. Historians have searched through texts, tomes, scrolls, and carvings and sought the council of elves to come to the conclusion that it has always been there.
Yet no one knows why it is there, or for what purpose. It cannot be moved, and cannot be damaged. Years of rain and wind have not worn it down. It remains an enigma for the ages.
Slang in Pardinal
"Dealin-faced" - To be an obvious liar.
"You Cover" - A friendly insult, meaning someone who makes bad deals. Used among friends as a joke. (pronounced Cove-er)
"You're a Ventar's Dog" - A serious insult, meaning a lackey of a murderer. Fighting words among the Pards
"That's as obvious as a Sanjan's Face" - Double meaning saying, refers to the branding of a Sanjan oathbreaker and the straight-faced dealing of the Sanjan.
"I wouldn't know him from Leo" - Not recognizing someone you should know.
Thanks to Roger (Alacrity) Briant for this contribution!