The Kingdom of Coria
"Hungry? Need a new plow? Searching for the finest silks? Have a problem that needs...rubbing out? Calestra. That's all you need to know, my friend. The jewel of Coria and Antaron!" -Bartley the Brave, lout and city-guide
"Tis no greater a land to understand all peoples of Audalis than Coria. Peoples of divergent paths have sought its secret canyons, windswept plains, and peaceful cities for more many ages. All are welcome within the lands of men, elves, and dwarves." -Juilinthai 'naDuilan, Elven Lord of Maelamin
Coria is the easternmost human nation, bordering the Sylvarian empire to the east, and the kingdoms of Ertain and Pardinal to the west. Of all the human nations, Coria maintains the best relationship with the Sylvari (though that openness often seems one-sided), and the country is closely allied with the Ertainian crown.
Coria City, the capital, is a center of the arts, and attracts visitors from all across Antaron, and Coria is home to Calestra, the largest, most powerful trading city in all of Antaron. Most Corians find employment as farmers, tailors, merchants, and the like, though the country also boasts larger percentage of artisans than other nations. Klais Chasom is something of an enigma to the people of Coria. To the causal passerby it appears to be nothing more than a great rift in the ground, a canyon of huge expanse and a near desert-like quality. Yet within its twisting corridors the Chasom has many secrets, many inhabitants, and often spits out some of the worse threats that the kingdom has ever faced.
The Corian countryside is picturesque, consisting mostly of fertile plains and unspoiled forests. The southeastern portion of the country is dominated by fruit-bearing orchards and vineyards which produce several prized crops. Coria City nestles in the fruitful land south of the Indigo River, while the eastern portion of the country, near the settlement of Quevin, is dominated by virgin timber. Cattle ranches and grain crops are grown in the central and southern plains.
Culture and Society: Corians consider themselves to be the pinnacle of human culture, and can come off to other peoples as a bit arrogant and pompous. In their defense, they do have a rich and full culture, and have much to be proud of. Coria possesses an enlightened society in which women are granted rights in theory equal to those of men; there is no post that a Corian girl cannot aspire to achieve. Corian society is governed by rules of conduct, many of which are unspoken and understood. Even the lowliest peasant maintains an attitude of dignity in their bearing, which can be sometimes misinterpreted by outsiders as pridefulness. Nevertheless, Corians are a gracious people, polite and friendly as a whole.
Corians have a progressive stance on society as a whole. While they are still feudal, they do not restrict women to specific roles - this, as a society, sets them apart from most other cultures within Antaron. The nobles still demand respect from all beneath their station, but they are limited in how they can affect those who don't show them respect - in other words, there aren't any wanton beatings of the peasant class because someone accidentally splashed mud on the noble's new boots. As a matter of fact, honor between gentlemen (and even gentlewomen) is held in such esteem that they will not deign to duel with a person who has not had formal training in the art. Such affronts are usually either dismissed as a show of the noble's generosity, or the offender is brought before a magistrate and fined.
Most of the general population is too busy working to afford time for entertainment, but in general, Corians love music - a traveling minstrel is often the talk of the town, and nobles will hire entire orchestras to play at their dinners and affairs. Within the noble class a duel is a very exciting endeavor, and often the more publicized duels will be attended much in the same fashion as a show or play. While the opera hasn't yet taken hold, some small circles of nobility have found the pronounced style enjoyable.
In the less wealthy sectors, the peasant class has come up with a game of skill called Bratha. The game is similar to checkers, except that two of the stones begin with specific random traits determined at the onset from a specified list, and the game is played on a much larger board. The object is to overcome both of the unique pieces, and the strategy of the game is a favorite among would be tacticians who otherwise would never find themselves in charge of an army. The noble caste is slowly picking up on the game, and more than one noble family has paid a great deal of money to procure custom made sets of Bratha stones.
As there is so much open land within the boundaries of Coria, the sport of racing has become rather prolific - and gambling at the races is largely qualified as a gentleman's sport. The Corian people will race anything, or so it seems. Foot-races are prominent among the peasant class, while horse racing is preferred among the nobles. Chariots are also common, though usually reserved for special occasions.
Music is perhaps the most glorified of the Corian arts. While the single minstrel is a fun pastime, the presentation of an orchestra is bound to draw a multitude of high-paying nobles. Conductors and composers are in high demand, and have earned a high level of respect among the noble caste; the standing orchestra that the queen has at court is well-known. Orchestras arecomposed primarily of strings and winds, with no brass instruments - as they are rare and not overly appreciated - and percussion is nearly unheard of within Corian society. Sculpting and painting come in a close second, and the artist who shows skill and talent can expect commission by lofty nobles without fear of a drought. There are a few actor's guilds and plays, but the general public has yet to catch on to the fun of live theater.
Religion: Solanis, Kith-Jora, Lysora, Shinara, Telamor, and Jusarin are all worshipped in Coria, though temples to almost any deity can be found here, if one knows where to look. Many beautiful cathedrals, shrines, and edifices to the gods are located within Coria, and several of these attract pilgrims from hundreds and thousands of miles away.
The majority of the population of Coria consists of pious sorts who revere and fear their patron gods. The power of any said religion over another is directly influenced by the current crown's preference. This often leads to more intrigue including the parishioners of the individual clergies, as favoritism means more funds for their churches, more attention paid to furthering their interests, and a rise in their denomination's influence.
As Coria is a good-aligned country on the whole, evil religions are not openly tolerated. Special pensions are awarded to the righteous clergy for seeking out and destroying uprisings of these fell religious sects, so long as no unwarranted damage to others' property is inflicted. Often, these crusades are looked upon as opportunity for the young and the brave to show their worth - even young nobles will join in the effort!
The current monarch, Queen Caeline Alaris, prefers the church of Solanis; as such, the church is prospering.
(All facts distilled from a conversation with Mayl Jearnath, Bard of the Kingdom. For a complete transcript of this conversation, please see the Exaustive History of Coria.)
Coria was founded by Sir Koria Alairies in 648 b.E.R. Little is known today of Sir Koria, but it is widely accepted that he was an explorer of some sort from lands beyond the sea. Documents detail his landing near the present day site of Thorn Keep, though no physical evidence survives to support this claim.
For some time, the fledgling kindom grew and prospered, but the Striding Plains Wars left the country worn and thin, which eventually led to King Adayme Alairies signing the Confederacy Pact with Drannon in the year 532 b.E.R. Indeed, Coria joined Drannon willingly, as did both Ertain and Pardinal, in the hopes of a stronger economy, and a better common defense for all.
In the early years of the Confederacy, some of the dreams of prosperity were indeed realized. The infusion of Drannese wealth was partially resonsible for the construction of the Golden Way in 519 b.E.R., which served to help unite the northern and southern halves of the kingdom (see the Golden Way). Trade with Drannon helped to fill the coffers of Corian merchants, and thus fill the bellies of Corian children.
However, Drannon used their increasing leverage, as well as some governmental mishaps on the part of Coria, to expend their influence. Before long, the Kingdom of Coria was considered to be a provence of the Empire of Drannon, and Imperial authority dictated who would wear the Corian crown. Thus, several families held the the title of royalty over the next half millenia, representing the Louvreo reign, the Eurthai reign, the Nieph regin, the Prineveer reign (of which King Jaik and the prophet, King Lethmond, were particularly noteable), the Alaris reign, and the short-lived Vebiour reign, which led to the second, lasting Alaris reign.
The next few hundred years represented a slow, steady decline in Corian freedom, culminating in the arrival of Drannese troops to enforce martial law in 79 b.E.R., and the beginning of the period known as the "Drannese Atrocities." Finally, in 48 b.E.R., Coria succeeded from Drannon, led by Girgian (Vebiour) Alaris II. Civil war tore Drannon apart, rendering her unable to reclaim her rebel provinces, and Coria's independence was established on a de facto basis.
Naturally, Corian society underwent sweeping changes as the newly free kingdom struggled to reassert its own identity. None, however, had more impact than Queen Freissa Alaris ascending the throne after her husband Eriad was assasinated in 16 b.E.R. Naturally, there was resistence over the idea of a woman holding the throne, and the rebellion known as the Ascension War flared. Freissa was equal to the challenge, however, and once the rebellion was quelled, she held the support of her people until her death in battle against the Wizard Minat in 7 E.R.
A time of national prosperity followed. Under the reign of King Rethinold Alaris, Coria repelled an Ertanian land grab at the Battle of Chayrec, and in gratitude, the king built a fortress named in honor for the battle's hero - Chayrec Keep. Then, in 65 E.R., constuction was started on the Aqueduct Maze - a true wonder of Antaron that allows water to be carried to fields and settlements far from the Indigo Rivier.
In 107 E.R., Queen Alethra Alaris (who had taken the throne four years prior, at the tender age of thirteen) married Prince Evanthisol Quental of Ertain. Not only did she find love in the union , but it proved to be a political stroke of genius, as well, helping to solidify the truce between Coria and Ertain. This truce, of course, would eventually grow into today's strong, solid alliance between the two nations. Queen Alethra also relocated the capitol to it's traditional location of Coria City, after Calestra had held the title for nearly three hundred years.
When Queen Alethra died in 137 E.R., she left the throne to her daughter, Tey'hessa. Queen Tey'hessa was a solid ruler, though extremely unconventional - she is best known for taking Emaninthail Le'taiholsta, a Sylvari, for a husband. Queen Tey'hessa ruled for fifty-eight years, leading the nation through the Red Plains War along the way, before being assasinated in 195 E.R., along with her still-youthful king.
In 267 E.R., Queen Wyaneth Alaris was executed by beheading for treason - a charge that was later proven to be completely false. She had been a fair and just leader, had brought the country safely through the Goblin Wars of 220 E.R., and certainly did not deserve her fate. To this day, her name is a euphemism for those who have done great injustice; they are said to "have the blood of Wyaneth on their hands."
318 E.R. Marks a period of Corian history fraught with great troubles, and great heros to match them. King Jaik Alaris, the Adventuring King, slew a dragon, a sea witch, and a dragon-lich during his reign, losing his life in the final battle. Prince Adaim Alaris also slew a great dragon in defense of the nation in 402 E.R. Then, in 431 E.R., lady Kyndril Illanian, a paladin of Rydor, sacrificed herself to close a gate between this realm and that of the dark gods that planned to come through. Each Olemra, we hold the Festival of Heroes to remember these legendary individuals.
Recently, in 430 E.R., the town of Quevin was founded - a unique experiment in all of Antaron. Situated as it is right on the border of the Sylvarian Empire, the idea is that humans and Sylvari can live side by side, with equal rights, and equal responsibilities. All citizens, regardless of race, have equal standing, and the town's council is made up of representative porportions of all who reside there. Twenty years into Quevin's existance, the idea is a tentative success, though much work remains to be done.
Finally, in 434 E.R., Princess Caeline Alaris ascended the throne. Queen Caeline is well-loved by her people, both noble and commoner, though she was widowed seven years ago when her husband, Rethine, was killed. (see current events)
Trade and Commerce: Coria shares a unique position of trade mastery with the Sylvari, and unless a person is willing to absorb the costs of shipping via water, or brave the more deadly northern route, most find that they have to pass through Coria en route to the Sylvarian Empire. This alone is Coria's largest trade success, though it should not overshadow their other accomplishments. Corian merchants are not prone to be adventurous tradesmen, instead leaving that particular badge for their neighbors in Pardinal. As such, Corian trade takes place primarily with Ertain, Pardinal, and Sylvaria. Any Corian goods that travel beyond those boundaries are usually due to the efforts of Pardinal.
From north to south, Coria is diverse in its trade. Exports include lumber, pipeweed, wine, herbs and spices, books, and artwork from the north, while the south offers stone, grains, rope, wool, vegetables, artwork, and horses.
Despite Coria's flourishing economy, they are forced to import quite a few items: incense, silks, javae, perfume, oil, coal, pearls, shipping supplies, glass, leather, fruits, iron, gems, ivory, and sugar.
As far as taxes go, Coria is rather average in application (though some who would wish to trade with the Sylvari might disagree with the taxes imposed upon them).
Legal System - The Corian legal system is perhaps the most progressive and advanced in Antaron. While Corians still hold true to the feudal system by way of government, they have adopted a judicial system that better represents the interests of the people.
The first step to the courts deals with local nobility in the many estates that dot the countryside. Serfs are able to file their grievances with the local magistrate who then sets up a time for the trial. These sorts of offenses usually entail petty theft or similar offenses; anything having to do with more serious issues, such as arson or murder, are forwarded to the nearest large city where their courts and dungeons process the crime and criminals. Only in cases of high treason is the monarch ever involved.
In the case of civil offenses, fines are inferred upon the guilty party, and the offense is thrown out. Tight records are kept of offenders, and should there be repeat offenses the fines are enlarged. Should the criminal be unable to pay the fine, they are usually put to work - serving either the person they offended, or the noble in whose jurisdiction the crime took place. Rarely are people imprisoned for civil crimes, though in the case of extreme repeat offenders dungeon time is permissible.
There are two major holding facilities within Coria, the Dungeons of Coria within Coria City, and the Calestraen Catacombs. Only murderers, repeat violent offenders, and treasonous felons are locked away in either of these confines. Never in the history of Coria has escape been successful from the Dungeons, and only rarely from the Catecombs.
Values and Taboos: Most superstitions lie within the realm of religious belief, and since the Corian culture is not held to worship one particular god over another (even during a reign where the monarch has selected their favored religion), the standing superstitions are rare and primarily localized.
As a culture, Corians believe that they are a blessed people. They often think of themselves as the heroes of history, the cavaliers of modern time, and the planners of the future. Even the farmer preparing his crop often will take his rest by the fence with a neighbor and play at philosophy.
Corians highly value the courtship period. As most nobles have their marriages arranged for them, this is especially valued among the common classes: upon coming of age to marry (usually around fourteen to sixteen for a female and sixteen to eighteen for a male) a person will deign to wear a particular native flower properly titled the Marriage Blossom. Women will wear it in their hair while men will place it somewhere visible upon their body. If the person has found a particular love interest they will switch the flower out for a braid of Star's Light flowers.
Within the nobility, servants are the current fashion statement. Having paid servants - particularly servants whose families have served one noble family for generations - and a good number of them, is a sign of secure nobility, greatness, and power. The trick is to have enough servants to be impressive, without taxing the noble's budget or appearing grossly flamboyant. An entourage of servants is not at all uncommon when it consists of three to five individuals, each with specific tasks to keep them busy throughout the day.
Throughout Coria, the rather archaic practice of forehead painting has seen a recent resurgence. This art has been passed down from generation to generation, and while the majority of nobility does not speak fondly of it, the preponderance of commoners treat it with near-reverence. The idea is that there are particular symbols that help bring about or prevent certain events. For instance, if one really wishes to be rid of a string of bad luck that has been following them for the past few days, they might go to their local Eldermark and have the runic symbol for good luck painted between their eyebrows.
Politics: - Coria is a feudal system, and as such there are many nobles, lords and ladies, who attend court, deal with political intrigue, and play at gaining prestige and power within the kingdom. Each of these families hold estates that dot the civilized and borderland areas of the kingdom, and often members of the same family have lesser holdings within the realm of liege-lords.
Titles are rarely won in military conquest, although on occasion skirmishes between an ambitious noble and his neighbor do break out, these affronts to peace are rarely allowed to go on beyond two weeks. If the issue is not resolved within that time frame, the Crown's forces get involved, and the involved nobles are brought before the monarch to answer for their actions. This does not turn out well for either individual, so most battles are ended quickly, and it has become somewhat of a game to manage a long campaign without attracting the attention of the royalty.
Most politicking is through arranged marriages, grabs for social standing by interaction in court and alliances, and sucking up to the royalty. While Coria's nobility are generally loyal to the crown and the country, they don't necessarily get along. In their political strife they often drew steel upon one another and eventually the crown had to get involved. The Duel System was established forcing such actions, where the drawing of steel was actually necessary to follow strict guidelines that restricted the actual dealing of blows while one's temper was still aggravated. Through evolution of the System the Dueling has actually become a game within the politics of the land, and, in fact, contributes heavily to the perception that a Corian noble is a fierce swordsman. To be labeled a master swordsman is almost as great an honor as gaining title and recognition by the crown!
One of the largest issues currently facing Corian politics is the consideration of expansion in the southern quarter. The only thing holding the crown back from moving settlers and military into the southeastern lands neighboring Coria is the lack of offical Corian claim, and the lack of disclaimer to the lands by the Sylvarian Empire.
The Order of the Claok: Established in 350 b.E.R. as a means of protecting Coria from hidden threats associated with the second Khordaldrum-Sylvari War, and to act as Coria's spy network, the Order of the Cloak has grown to be a powerful organization dedicated to enforcing and sometimes even policing Corian politics. Their fingers knead the dough of Corian court, wind their way into the neighboring countries, and even reach as far away as Sendria in order to stymie any threat against the Crown. Since their inception they have only failed in their duties on a couple of occasions and as of late, not at all. This has led the crown to rely heavily on the Order of the Cloak's services and a Cloak advisor is never very far from the monarch's side in case such an occasion arises as to require their advice.
Being a member of the Order grants a person virtual immunity to the laws as the common rule. All they have to do is flash their symbol, and a smart guardsman will retire any urge to question their behavior. However, most Cloaksmen are loathe to perform this sanctimonious act as it indicates Cloak involvement; secrecy is highly prized. The death of a Cloaksman is investigated with as much skill and determination as the Order goes about defending Coria. The body is retrieved for proper burial where possible, and sometimes are great risk to additional Cloaksmen, and all burial rights are taken care of as well as immediate family.
(for complete details, please see the related Order of the Cloak article)
The Mark of Jaik: If there are any who doubt the elite status of the Mark of Jaik, they will undoubtedly find themselves eating crow once the Mark is put to test. Serving as the bodyguard for the crown and as the knights of the land, the Mark has taken on the name of the Adventuring King as a symbol of their prowess. Honed to a sharpness rivaling their swords, the Mark's number is kept relatively small, numbering no more than one hundred at any given time. This allows the high standards of the Mark to be regulated and the membership monitored without fear of mistake. A Marksman is revered by those who revere the Corian crown, respected by warriors of all walks, and feared by the enemies of Coria.
The primary responsibility of the Mark of Jaik is to protect the crown, the royal family, and the castle in Coria city. Over time, however, the Mark has been called upon to perform special quests in the service of Coria, to protect visiting dignitaries, and to act as a vanguard for the military.
(for complete details, please see the related Mark of Jaik article)
Military: The Corian military consists of three major branches: the army, the navy, and the militia.
The regular army is a well-trained and equipped force, approximately ten thousand strong. Outfitted in the nation's green and white, the Corian army serves to defend the country's borders, police the populace, and serve the crown.
While the Corian navy isn't a huge force to be reckoned with at sea, their large, slow ships can cause a lot of damage and are hard to sink. So though they have a small fleet, they do manage to defend their waters with some competence.
The militia of Coria is derived from the willing men and women of the common class who don't wish to spend their entire lives in military service. These patriots receive minimal training consisting of four days a month for which they are paid one brissan per day. However, in times of need, the Corian militia can triple the size of the nation's standing army.
(for complete details, please see the related Corian Military article)
Current Events: Queen Caeline Alaris currently rules Coria, and has for the past eitheeen years. Queen Caeline is a widow since her husband, Rethine, died in an accident seven years ago. Her only child is an eight year old daughter, Sarilya. While Caeline is still young enough to remarry, she seems content with her life, though there are whispers of romantic involvement with this or that noble.
This city of Quevin is viewed as vital to the relationship with the standoffish Sylvarian Empire. There is a currently a large push among the nobility to promote settlement of the lands east of southern Coria, though these lands technically belong to the Sylvari. Tensions are understandable high between the two nations.
The Golden Way: The Golden Way is a massive stone effigy to Khordaldrum construction and King Freidriq Alairies' reign. This gigantic bridge spans the Indigo River almost due east of Coria City. The supports are carved in the likeness of giant warriors holding the heights of the bridge in place, and the spires reach into the heavens in order to tickle Solanis' belly as he passes overhead.
Constructed from indigenous rock, golden in hue, but as strong as granite, the Golden Way offers an unparalleled view of the surrounding countryside. Additionally, it performs the vital task of keeping the northern half of the country from being cut off from the south during the Indigo's violent periodic floods.
Slang in Coria:
"Never give a banker your money in the dead of winter." - proverb
"Shinara's Sneer" - usually said to indicate an event of bad luck.
"Having the blood of Wyaneth on one's hands" - referring to the unjust execution of Queen Wyaneth for treason - a charge that was later proven false. Used to indicate when someone has done a severe, unforgivable wrong.
Thanks to Bromern Sal for this contribution!