The Where, Who, and What of Knownearth
What/where is Betheljin?
Betheljin is the northernmost nation of Knownearth, although the Oreseekers live farther north still, in territory marked "Unknown" on most maps. Iron is the main driver of Betheljin's economy, the only known deposits of iron ore being found in the Elgrion range. The Citizens of Traine hold a monopoly on the iron mining as well as the foundries and smithies in which it is processed into steel. As a result, iron and steel are of the highest value metals in Knownearth, after copper, which is nearly priceless.
Betheljin is ruled by the Commissar, a dictator who usually, but not always, emerges from the Citizenry. This office is officially an inherited one, but the history of Betheljin is filled with violent coups and revolutions. Few are the Commissars who survived into old age; even fewer are the dynasties that held the office for more than two generations.
What is Elesendar’s Shrine?
Elesendar’s Shrine is the location of the communications array erected on a plateau south of Mt. Mirkeldirk by Lieutenant George Grossmont, Ensign Veronica Chu, and Samantha Farrak, a civilian engineer. The array was never operational, perhaps because the Oreseekers never returned from their mission. The site is sacred to adherents to the Faith of Elesendar, who believe it to be a Shrine built by their ancestors to mark the place where Elesendar alighted from the heavens. The Lathan government uses the site as a place of execution for treason and other high crimes. The condemned are chained to the array and left to die of thirst and exposure while, in the words of the Lathan penal code, they “contemplate their ill deeds as they await Elesendar’s final judgment.”
What/where is Knownearth?
Knownearth is the name of the isthmus of land between Direiellene in the south and the uncharted north (home of the Oreseekers). The same name is also used generally for the planet settled by the marooned crew of the Elesendar. Its location in relation to Earth is unknown due to sabotage of the Elesendar’s navigation system. A day-night cycle on Knownearth lasts approximately 40 Earth hours; a year is 223 days long. Because Knownearth has a temperate climate with seasonal changes similar to Earth’s northern hemisphere, the human settlers retained a 12-month calendar system. Metallic ores (iron, copper, bronze, etc) are rare in Knownearth, and most tools are made from other materials such as porcelain, stone, and crystal.
What/where is Latha?
Centrally located on the isthmus, Latha extends from Relm in the south to Eldanion in the north and from the Yuslobna Kein in the west to the Semena plains in the east. Like Relm, it has a guild-based economy, led by the Weavers and Miners. Most of the country’s population is concentrated in the fertile lands west of the Lathalorns, while the territory east of that mountain range is covered by Kiareinoll Fembrosh, a vast forest that, according popular belief, has conscious awareness and can defend itself when necessary. For this reason, human settlements in the Kiareinoll are limited to the capital of Narath and widely scattered small towns, hamlets, and farms. Latha’s government is organized as a republic with an elected Senate and a monarchical head of state. Although the monarchy of Latha usually passes from parent to child, the Senate must confirm each Ruler and has the right to depose the Ruler for unlawful acts.
All Lathans are telepathic, to the extent that the ability is considered a language known as mindspeech. The origins of telepathy in Knownearth are unknown. While Lathan Loremasters preach that mindspeech was a gift from Elesendar, Heretic scholars have speculated that the ability may have originated from infection with a benign form of the Woern. However, the medical skills and equipment needed to test this hypothesis had disappeared by the time the ability first manifested. In any case, it is a universal trait among Lathans, who do not use their voices except to sing or for emphasis or emotional expression. Mindspeech can also be learned, although fluency is difficult to acquire for those not exposed to it during infancy.
What/where is Relm?
Relm is the southernmost nation of Knownearth and has an economic system that relies on the activities of trade and craft guilds. The country is known primarily for its finished stone products—everything from furniture to cutlery, all crafted by expert stone masons and carvers belonging to the Stonemasters Guild. Relm is ruled in dynastic fashion by the Lord (or Lady) of Relm and his/her Council; the spouse of Relm’s leader is always a member of the Council and is formally known as the First Counselor. The capital of Relm is Re, which straddles the river Re in the south of Relm. A secondary capital is Olmlablaire, a vast and elaborately finished cave system that serves as the palace of the Relmlord or Relmlady.
What/where is Traine?
Traine, the largest city in Knownearth, is the capital city of Betheljin. Founded after the discovery of iron in the Elgrion range during the second millennium AL, the city's wealth and power are concentrated in the hands of a merchant class known as "Citizens." Only Citizens may own iron mines or participate in Betheljin governance. The Citizenry also has exclusive trading rights to the curative ointment known as slotaen, which is manufactured by the Kragnashians.
PERSONS OF INTEREST
Who is Ashel of Narath?
His Royal Highness Prince Ashel of Narath is the eldest child of King Sashal of Narath and his wife, Queen Elekia of Reinoll Parish. Although first born, he is not Heir to Latha's throne, having given up that claim when he became a journeyman in the Lathan Minstrels Guild.
Who is Bethniel of Narath?
Her Royal Highness Princess Bethniel of Narath is the second and youngest child of King Sashal of Narath and his wife, Queen Elekia of Reinoll Parish. Bethniel is the designated Heir to the Lathan throne.
Who is the Blade?
The Blade is the nom de guerre of Victoria of Ourtown, an Oreseeker.
Who is Earnk Korng?
Earnk Korng is the son of Lornk Korng, the Lord of Relm, and Richelle of Reinoll Parish.
Who is Elekia of Reinoll Parish?
Her Majesty Queen Elekia of Reinoll Parish is the consort to Latha's Ruler, King Sashal of Narath. Together they have two children: Ashel and Bethniel of Narath.
Who is Geram of Alna?
Geram of Alna is an officer in the Lathan army who served under Victoria of Ourtown.
Who is Lornk Korng?
Lornk Korng is the Lord of Relm. He is also a Citizen of Traine.
Who is Sashal of Narath?
His Majesty King Sashal of Narath is Ruler of Latha. He is married to Elekia of Reinoll Parish and is father to two children: Ashel and Bethniel of Narath.
Who is/was Victoria of Ourtown?
Victoria of Ourtown is an officer in the Lathan army, although she was born an Oreseeker in the far north.
In ancient times, another Victoria of Ourtown, also an Oreseeker, fought in the War of the Council.
Creatures and Peoples
Who are the Caleisbahnin?
The Caleisbahnin are a seafaring people who occupy an isolated group of islands known as the Caleisbahn Archipelago. A rich nation of expert shipwrights, their wealth comes mainly from piracy and the slave trade. They maintain friendly relations with the Kragnashians, and consider service to wizards a sacred honor. In addition, the vast majority of Caleisbahnin are Heretics, like the Oreseekers they prey upon. Caleisbahn society is based on a maritime leadership structure in which only ships’ captains and admirals can participate in decision-making. Women are not permitted to serve aboard ship, and thus are relegated to second-class citizens. The Caleisbahn head of state is known as the First.
What are cerrenils?
Cerrenils are trees found almost exclusively in Kiareinoll Fembrosh. Also known as Old Mothers, their limbs lose rigidity at night, turning into vines that hang to the ground and give the trees the appearance of old women with unkempt hair. With the dawn, cerrenils raise their limbs to the light and look like "normal" trees.
Adherents to the Faith of Elesendar believe humanity was literally birthed from the Old Mothers after Elesendar descended from the heavens and mated with these trees. Whether Adherent or Heretic, most Lathans living within Kiareinoll Fembrosh believe the cerrenils are aware of their surroundings and have the ability to move at will.
What/who is Elesendar?
The Elesendar is the nickname of United Mineral Mining Vessel Registry LSNDR2237, captained by Franklin T.-J. Wong. After an unknown saboteur rendered the ship’s navigation and communications inoperable, the crew found Knownearth and negotiated landing rights from the Kragnashians. Three thousand years later, the ship remains in orbit and is visible as an extremely bright star that passes overhead two or three times per night.
Most of the humans on Knownearth now worship the satellite as the “father” of humanity. According to legend, Elesendar descended from the sky, alighting on a plateau south of Mount Mirkeldirk, a place known as Elesendar’s Shrine (the site of a communications array erected by the Elesendar’s crew). The deity then traveled east into the vast forest of Kiareinoll Fembrosh, where he mated with the cerrenil trees and produced humanity. This event is celebrated annually in mid-summer as “Elesendar’s Landing.” Adherents of the Faith of Elesendar believe that the numerous ship’s logs in existence are allegorical fables; they consider anyone who believes in the literal truth of the logs to be a heretic.
What are the erin?
One of Knownearth’s indigenous sentient species, the erin are mysterious mountain creatures that superficially resemble sheep in that they have a luxuriant fleece. The Lathan Weavers Guild owes their wealth and power to an alliance made between the erin and a pair of the Elesendar’s crewmembers while they were erecting the communications array at Elesendar’s Shrine. For reasons that are lost to time—and perhaps may not have been fully understood even by the people who made the agreement—the erin permit themselves to be shorn once a year by humans. The wool is woven into erinsheen, a lightweight, strong, supple fabric used for everything from clothing to pavilions.
Who are the Kragnashians?
The Kragnashians are the primary sentient species indigenous to Knownearth. In the words of Captain Wong of the Elesendar, the Kragnashians are insects:
"Big ones. Heinlein big. Triangular heads, hundreds of legs and horns on their tails, like a combination praying mantis, earwig, and centipede, standing 4 meters tall, with brains and language. Like something out of an old Twentieth Century movie. The Alien Invaders. Except we’re the Aliens. Wonder if they’ve ever imagined anything like us before."
During much of the period humans have lived on Knownearth, the Kragnashians have controlled access to the Woern.
Who are the Loremasters?
The Loremasters arm of the Lathan Minstrels Guild maintains an extensive library of documents dating from before the settlement of Knownearth, including a collection of ship’s logs far more comprehensive than that of the Oreseekers. Using these documents as the foundation of the Faith of Elesendar, the Loremasters promulgate belief in that deity and exercise tremendous influence throughout Knownearth.
Who are the Oreseekers?
The Oreseekers occupy the margins of habitable land in the uncharted north, where they eek out a living as fishers and farmers in small hamlets and towns named for both real and fictional Earth cities. Isolated and impoverished, these people are frequently victims of slavers from the Caleisbahn Archipelago. The original Oreseekers were surveyors and explorers sent out by Captain Wong to find a certain metallic ore that was needed for the communications array set up south of Mt. Mirkeldirk. However, the Oreseekers never completed their mission—the exact nature of the ore they sought, and the reason they never returned to base, are unknown. This gap in the historical record is both mysterious and ironic, since the Oreseekers otherwise dedicated themselves to preserving records of their origins—ship’s logs, technical specifications and documentation, the crew’s personal logs and correspondence, and scientific and literary works from Earth. The scholars who maintain these records are known as Logkeepers, a group that has persisted over the millennia despite the marginalized existence of the Oreseekers. All are Heretics, according to the Faith of Elesendar.
What are the Woern?
The Woern are microscopic parasites indigenous to Knownearth that infect the brain and other nervous system tissues after ingestion or transmission through bodily fluids. Most individuals die soon after infection, but some, known as “wizards,” acquire telekinetic powers at the cost of a progressive neurologic illness causing severe headaches, nausea, and a shortened lifespan. A few people are immune to the Woern—most of these are asymptomatic carriers, exhibiting neither sickness nor power. In a very few people, the Woern convey telekinesis without conferring any illness.
Things and Stuff
What is the Device?
The Device is a transporter machine that allows an individual to travel instantly between one Device platform and another. There are believed to be numerous Devices scattered throughout Knownearth, but the location of most is unknown. Travel between Devices is hazardous unless both sides are known to be fully operational and unlocked. Fully functional Devices are known to be in Traine, Narath, Olmlablaire, and Direiellene.
The Kragnashians claim to have invented the Device, and the organic nature of the technology suggests this is probably true. However, this claim has never been verified.
What is slotaen?
Slotaen is a gel-like substance distilled by Kragnashians from their own blood. As the gel has both anesthetic and antibiotic properties, it is a highly valued commodity among Healers and households throughout Knownearth. The Citizens of Traine hold exclusive trading rights for slotaen.