South Hendor is an earldom of the Turamzzyrian Empire.
- a majestic silver oak tree on a field of blue
"Since the fall of Hendor and its rebirth as part of the Empire, the former kingdom has established itself as the center of learning. Thus, it is not surprising to find the Tree of Knowledge, a tree that once grew in the garden of the kings of Hendor and was lost when the Witch Winter descended upon the realm, at the heart of the crest. It is unknown why it was named as much, be it a favored place for young princes to be tutored or if something far more magical was involved. Those wishing to remind others of Hendor's once independent status will ring the tree with a golden crown."— Culoney of Hendor, The Crests of the Turamzzyrian Empire
"Hendor was once a Kingdom apart from the Empire. Hendor fell in 4630, two years after the first appearance of Issyldra, the Ice Queen, in the DragonSpine. The campaign for Hendor, fought between 4635 and 4638, liberated the territories from the occupying humanoids and made North and South Hendor officially part of the Turamzzyrian Empire.
South Hendor is some of the most plush and resourceful land in all of the Empire. Plentiful streams and lakes, and rolling valleys make up what many consider to be the garden spot of the Empire. While South Hendor is land-locked, rivers abound, many large enough to support river towns and river commerce.
The city of Waterford is rich, even by Empire standards. It is central to the territories, and to the Empire itself. It is a hub of commerce, and is also very well ordered and lawfully ruled. Justice in Waterford is swift and absolute, deterring most major crime. The citizenry of Waterford pay considerably higher taxes to support this level of protection. Waterford's glory, though still well renowned, has diminished in the past century, as the quake that created the great falls on the Tempest River disrupted river access to the sea. River traffic in lumber and other distant resources still arrive in Waterford, but now require overland shipping once received.
Nydds is a wondrous city located south of the hilly land that borders the Sea of Fire. The culture of Nydds is different from most of Hendor, with the citizenry open to foreigners and strangers, and its people require a greater degree of freedom than most cities in the Empire. Serving as the scholastic center of the Turamzzyrian Empire with its numerous sages and colleges of the arts, Nydds also boasts a satellite Hall of Mages for students of the arcane.
The Halls of Solace, a monastery devoted to Lord Voln, can be found in Nydds. One of the most influential Voln monasteries in the Empire, the Halls of Solace have been instrumental in aiding Aldora against the Horned Cabal.
The merchants of Waterford are renowned for their magnificent silks, as the weavers of South Hendor are among the most skilled in the Empire. In addition to the great scholastic fame of Nydds, scriveners and artists abound."— Deinirius Antroydes, A Traveler's Guide to the Turamzzyrian Empire
"Waterford has an ancient harvest tradition known as "The Harvest Bell." At the time of reaping, a handful of corn is left uncut in the field, and at the end of the day the reapers stand a marked distance away and aim their sickles at the "harvest bell" (a sport that is not without its share of injuries!). When at last the shock of corn falls, there is a fight for its possession, with the victor carrying it in triumph to the harvest feast. On the way, young girls throw bowls of water at the sheaf-carrier, who is meant to dodge them all and bring his trophy safe and dry to the village hall, where he is lauded as the hero of the evening.
The historians of Nydds love to tell of the winged serpents that used to populate the area in days gone by. They were described as very beautiful, sparkling all over as though covered with jewels. Some were colorfully crested, and their bright wings had eyes like those of a peacock's tail. Despite their splendor, the serpents wreaked havoc on poultry and other farmyard creatures, and were eventually exterminated.
Though not generally superstitious, the people of Nydds are still loathe to enter a grove of oaks at midnight, for it is said that the spirits of the past assemble there, especially those who fell to the Ice Queen. It is also well known that he who cuts down a juniper will die within the year. In the older parts of the city one can still see strangely shaped houses built to accommodate one or more of these revered trees.
Nydds is sometimes called the City of Flowers both in reference to the glorious fields of wild orchids that cover the hillsides nearby and to the prevalence of flowery windowboxes that decorate Nyddian homes. The phrase, "Sweet as Nydds in Spring," is commonly used throughout the Empire when referring to something with a particularly pleasing scent. The young maids of the city are especially fond of wearing garlands and floral circlets, with different flowers to symbolize beauty, chastity, romance, devotion, and other popular themes."— A Traveler's Guide to the Turamzzyrian Empire
"Nay, perhaps the city most lenient to Lornon is that of Nydds. An incorrigible place, where the followers of such dark gods are allowed to participate in the so-called marketplace of faith. As such, it creates a certain friction with the followers of Koar’s son, Voln, when those who submit to Luukos are given allowance to recruit. For Lumnis, Nydds possesses one of the greatest temples in all of Elanthia.
It is called The Rings, and it is something of a mixture of hanging garden and library. It is a strange structure, built of four wide towers about one taller tower. Through clever engineering, streams of water are guided along the exterior walls, convenient to eradicate any danger of fire, as well cast over the sides in splendid waterfalls. The gardens, meanwhile, true to Nydds' reputation as the city of flowers, are planted with such flora as to blossom in colors corresponding to the sphere of knowledge of which the library within reflects. When the central tower is in full white blossom, it appears to float upon a cloud of white held up by arcs of falling water.
Such open permission pales only to the views of some in the province of Bourth, which has suffered the influence of sylvan thought upon religious matters. There are some who risk blasphemy to proclaim that neither the gods of Liabo or Lornon are divine, but merely powerful beings. That sentiment has managed to infect some within the city of Nydds, as well. But for the protection given that city for the freedom of knowledge, the Church of Koar would have long ago prosecuted and brought such foolish thought to an end."
"It was the year 4500 when an old retired sea captain named Eli "Blackhands" Gladden started up a mercenary company comprised mostly of fellow ex-pirates and some unsavory imperial sailors. Old Blackhands was given his nickname due to the fact that his hands were mostly useless, scorched black and charred by a gruesome incident, supposedly because he had wedded the daughter of an Archmagister of the Hall of Mages. The confrontation ended with the sea captain without his new bride and blackened clumps for hands with barely a finger or two left. It's unclear in the legend what happened to the captain's wife, although many presume her angry and powerful mage father whisked her back home after leaving the captain wounded as a warning.
After his hands were crippled by fire, Eli Blackhands Gladden used what wealth he had amassed on the high seas and started up a band of merry mercenaries to help provide protection for merchants and other trade vessels up and down the length of the Tempest River. His services could not have come at a better time, as sea pirates had recently gained a strong foothold along the river banks through the regions of the Turamzzyrian Empire. Because of this his business flourished and even expanded, many members of his crew branching out to provide protection along other vital rivers that winded through the lands of the Empire.
In 4518, the Lords of Waterford within the Kingdom of Hendor met with Blackhands and offered him a sizable amount of money to bring his group of skilled mercenaries into service to the Hendoran Kingdom, where they could continue to operate as normal, but reap the benefits of an officially recognized branch of the Kingdom's military, and full pardons for many of the seedier members of his company. It is said that Captain Eli met with every single member of his organization to hear out their opinions before finally accepting Waterford's offer two and a half years later in 4520. As promised, the Black Hands Company continued with business as usual, but now benefited from additional perks and respect brought about due to their affiliation with the Kingdom's army.
Shortly after the deal with Waterford, Captain Eli officially retired and left behind his home and his trusted servant and was never seen again. Some say he traveled south to once again see his bride who was stolen from him, and if that tale is true, then it is likely the captain finally met his demise at the end of an angry father's wrath. Others say he merely set off to find a new comfortable home, likely upon some shore, to await Gosaena's arrival for him.
Regardless of their founder's fate, The Black Hands continued to grow until their numbers suffered heavy casualties during the Witch Winter, when the Kingdom of Hendor eventually collapsed. Those soldiers and crew that survived escaped far to the south into the protection of the Turamzzyrian Empire. In 4650, a few years after the Turamzzyrian Empire recaptured the fallen cities of Hendor and imperial citizens began to once again settle the area, the Black Hands sprang back into full operation with many of the veterans resuming their old roles. Some took on the positions of officers and captains in a new specific branch of the Imperial Army with the Turamzzyrian nobles providing the funding needed to allow for new training and recruitment to strengthen the unit. The presence and success of the Black Hands were crucial to many northern and eastern nobles, as it helped to ensure safety along the vast rivers and offered a measure of economic security.
Their symbol is a black hand on a field of navy blue and gold."— Lord Brieson Cassle of Highmount, Orders of the Turamzzyrian Empire
Erudites of Fash'lo'nae
"The city of Nydds is just south of a land full of hills that borders the Sea of Fire, and it is a city full of culture and an open embrace of foreigners and strangers. It is considered to be the heart of knowledge throughout all of the Turamzzyrian Empire as it houses dozens of imperial colleges and even a satellite college of the Hall of Mages. Because of this scholastic environment, people in the area are allowed more freedom than one might find in other areas of the Empire, as many feel knowledge and education rises above any ignorance of race. But with all of that said, human superiority still exists, even if only as an undercurrent. And, while elves and half-elves freely walk the streets and attend many of the colleges, they can never hope to rise to the same ranks as humans in the political structure.
One of the largest colleges in Nydds is the Halls of the Patriarch, established to provide religious education for those aspiring to join the Church of Koar. It was founded by the Patriarch in the time period of Emperor Rallick II, and a special tax was ordered to help support the endeavor. In 4918, Lelandri, a young priestess of Koar, had excelled in her studies at the Halls of the Patriarch, gathering with her a small following who would attend weekly meetings and seminars with her, many of them in secret. Over time, her name became well known, and the secrecy of her education sessions with fellow peers began to circulate. The Headmaster of the Hall had sought to investigate, as the college's education was the rightful job of the instructors, and they could not allow any deviation. While students studying with students was not forbidden, it certainly needed to be managed. The Headmaster was then later shocked to learn that it was not Koar's Light that Lelandri had been preaching to her fellow students, but instead she was now a professed follower of Fash'lo'nae, the God of Magic and Forbidden Knowledge.
Lelandri was immediately expelled from the college for her conversion to Fash'lo'nae, but no other punishments were brought against her. In Nydds, diversity and knowledge were supported and heavily fostered, but the Halls of the Patriarch would not be used as a secret location to spread faith in the Grandfather. So it was that when Lelandri went peacefully and without asking, nearly three dozen students left with her. With no official academy to now call home, Lelandri led her seminars all throughout Nydds, even occasionally traveling to Waterford, where she always held meetings in libraries, regardless of their size, or those in attendance. It was out of this movement that the Erudites of Fash'lo'nae were born.
Since their founding, the Erudites have grown in size and reach, small pockets of the faithful scattered all throughout the Turamzzyrian Empire. There is truly no one center location for the Erudites anymore, as knowledge is best when explored and shared, and so it is often that members of the Erudites travel more than anything. However, the heaviest population of their order still remains within the walls of Nydds, where some members still hold monthly seminars throughout libraries in honor of Lelandri's memory. Lelandri herself disappeared some fifteen years later, as her and her elven lover left on a voyage out of Seareach to travel beyond the Western Sea in search of surviving remnants of the Ashrim culture. Whether their mission was successful or not, neither of them returned.
Despite their seemingly good natured goals of education and knowledge, the Erudites are not immune to controversy. A number of their members have gotten in trouble over time, some having even suffered imprisonment in imperial cells for their dangerous methods of research. In addition, in recent history a firestorm of rumors have circulated surrounding the Erudites of Fash'lo'nae, many suggesting that some within their ranks are actually Faendryl elves, using the magic of illusion to conceal their true identities. Some in Nydds have no qualms with this, since they argue knowledge transcends race and blood, but others worry it may all be an elaborate dark elven conspiracy to infiltrate a segment of imperial life or even jeopardize the greatest educational center in all of the Turamzzyrian Empire.
Their symbol is a stylized yellow flame on a field of grey."— Orders of the Turamzzyrian Empire
"The Halls of Solace is the primary center for knowledge and research in all matters related to the Order of Voln. Over the ages, nestled away in Nydds, the Halls have become an immense library where young and old followers of Voln alike come to become educated in both their faith and their purpose. It was also the largest depository of original works from the founding monastery at Kedshold, before it was destroyed by imperial troops during the Kannalan War. Generally, when a question of knowledge is discussed amongst the monasteries, the Grand Master of the Halls of Solace is given the most deference. But knowledge, like true life, does not grow if not nurtured.
Out of the Halls, an order of scholars and healers were founded, aptly named the Solacebringers, and sometimes among the more devout, referred to as the Sons of Fasthr. They exist because of what transpired at Fasthr's Monastery, and of the Order's need to preserve and expand their knowledge that was originally split from the old ruins, a majority going to the Halls of Solace, and other caches of tomes and research ending up in Fairport and the region where Highmount is today. These Solacebringers, in fact, spend very little time in the Halls. Instead, they are assigned to scouring the world, seeking out lost knowledge regarding their order and faith wherever it might have scattered. In addition, their travels afford multiple opportunities to heal and preach, bringing comfort to those who seek it, while also educating them on the truth of the Order and its crucial role in the events of the world today. It is through their pursuit of lost knowledge that they solidify their faith, and it is by their words and healing arts that they expand it.
Their symbol is of a white tree on a field of black."— Orders of the Turamzzyrian Empire
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