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Balance Saga: Book One, The Great Mother

The Four Kingdoms

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a part of Balance Saga: Book One, The Great Mother, by Twain Solemnheart.

Here will be detailed, in brief, the Four Kingdoms and their histories.

Twain Solemnheart holds sovereignty over The Four Kingdoms, giving them the ability to make limited changes.

287 readers have been here.

Setting

Image ❖ EARTH


          The Earth. The foundation upon which all must stand. It is the base element, one of strength, determination, and patience. The Earthen Kingdom of An' Tir is by far the largest of all the other nations, spanning the vast plains that take up well over sixty percent of the known world. It borders all the other nations, acting as a trading mecha along its western and southern borders, where the countries of Annaffiare and Al' Kemish sit respectively. Much of this land is agricultural, dozens of small villages dotting the plains and foothills, ranging from farmland to forestry. Their national pride is nearly unheard of, as is their unshakable faith. Many of the humans here live under the guidance of the many tribes of Earthen Drakes.

          The Earthen culture is large and diverse, but the roots of their nation are evident everywhere. Their buildings tend to either be stone or waddle and daub. Their livings come from the land and from their skill with metal work. An' Tir is known for having the largest and most powerful military in the world aswell, though it generally lies dormant. The soldiers of this land are trained to be as the earth itself. Patient, unwavering, powerful. Their heavy armor is a sight to see as the columns march through the land, carving a path to defend their lands. They rarely march without the blessing of the Earth Drakes, powerful beings of scale, claw and fang that act as a type of guide to many of the Earthen people. The drakes have also given the knowledge of more refined earth magic to many humans. Their specialty lies in quick and overwhelming attacks, mimicking the power of a landslide as they descend upon their foes.

          The Drakes of Earth are large and strong, their faith in the Earth Dragon Gaia unshakable. Their colors blend with their surroundings, lending them shining scales that range in color from the gold of grain at the time of harvest to the deep green of the pine trees in the forests.

          Prairie Drakes are often the color of wheat, fresh from harvest, and live in a nomadic way, moving with the herds of elk that roam the plains. They respect these large creatures and the way of the land, using everything they can when they must bring one down for the tribe. They are a peaceful and calm sort, not generally known for their fighting capability. They love animal companions, and generally tend to keep those of the herbivorous variety.

          Forest Drakes on the other hand, are known as master hunters, living deep within the trees and mountains of the land, stalking their prey like the great beasts that they surround themselves with. Many of these tribe adopt large hunters to accompany them, such as the mountain lion. They seem much more primal than the other tribes, wearing little or no clothing. They believe it only hinders their life, a barrier between them and the Earth. Most of the Earthen Drake leaders come from these clans, due to their exceptional power and connection to the great Earth Mother.

          Craven Hollow, the capital of this great and grand country is nestled near the mountains, to the east and south, in a pocket of land rimmed with forest. The great and gleaming buildings rise high amidst the trees, their near golden color shining brightly in the son. This bustle metropolis holds near on a quarter of An' Tir's populace, and is indeed one of the wealthiest cities in the world. The people of this city are kind, and often times will help those in need. The king is a very open man, although many believe that to be due to his young age and slight naivety. Regardless, Craven Hollow is haled as one of the most spectacular and well mannered cities in the world.

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The Four Kingdoms

Here will be detailed, in brief, the Four Kingdoms and their histories.

Minimap

The Four Kingdoms is a part of Balance Saga: Book One, The Great Mother.

4 Characters Here

Itan Soldin [1] A fire drake with an uncharacteristically level head, Itan is large and powerful, but tried his best to be kind.
Casandra Emberseed [0] A highly skilled dancer, Casandra is the woman who holds the element of passion, fire, at her fingertips.
Damien Nightraven [0] The notorious assassin of the secret Nightraven Society, Damien is a natural born killer with the great and misunderstood element of Darkness.
Twain Solemnheart [0] One of few born with elemental Light, Twain is a soldier, an idealist, and most of all, the very definition of what it means to fight and be human.

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ΰΉ‘ WATERImage
            The Water. The life blood that flows through everything. This is the life giving element, one of abundance and prosperity, as well as knowledge and wisdom. The Water Empire of Annaffiare encompasses the entire western coast, from the northern icecaps to the marshlands and jungles along the southern shore, through which none have passed. Many of the people who live here live in relative comfort, making their living off of either the ocean or the many rivers that flow in from An' Tir. They are traders and sailors, known for their determination and cunning. Many of the larger cities have arenas where the masses gather to watch the brutal sports of the gladiators.

            The culture of Annaffiare is one of elegance and grace. They have the largest amount of higher classed citizens than any other country, and do indeed spend much of their wealth on luxury. Silks and other fine fabrics make their robes of the finest make in all the world. The buildings are usually of brick and stone, most of them being in circular shapes. Their military is fairly small, but specialized and trained with a brutality that rivals that of Al' Kemish, the nation of Fire. Their special infantry, or Murmilloes, are trained to use chains and whips as well as blades. They fight with momentum, slowly building in strength from a gentle wave to a storm surge. Their magicians are especially talented in manipulating all forms of water and other liquids. Though it is forbidden in the modern times, there have been accounts of these magi using their power over water and other liquids to turn one's own blood against them. The art is nearly forgotten, with the only texts on it locked away in the royal vaults of Aquanna, the capital of Annaffiare.

            Water Drakes, or Naga as they prefer to be called, are much rarer sights than their earthly cousins. They are often under the water, swimming with the speed and grace of their queen, Lethiana, the Queen Serpent and Dragon of Water. They spend most of their time submerged, preferring to feel the water around them as their serpentine lower bodies cut through the water. Their spines and hands are webbed, lending them greater speed and grace than any human could ever hope to achieve. The coloring of their scales is often a deep blue or light green, reminiscent of the water. In the north their scales are etched in white, much like the ice they swim under and slither upon. In the marshes their scales are edged in brown, letting them blend in with the murky waters.

            The Naga are often seen as mystical creatures, beings that are more myth than reality. It is because due to this secrecy that they may serve their queen better. They are the guardians of the waters, leading the way for ships caught in the storms and taking what humans survive the wrecks to shore. A high concentration of these beings lies to the south, deep past the marshes, where no one has yet to return from. They seem more feral than their brethren, attacking all who approach. Many of the other Naga say it is because of some duty, though even they do not quite know what it is that has their kin so on edge.

            Aquanna, the capital of this empire is a large city located on one of the many large islands off the Western Coast. Near a hundred miles out on an island easily capable of supporting this great city, the emperor lives in comfort among many of his loyal subjects. The arena there is of great scale, at times being filled with water for the greatest of Murmilloes and gladiators to test themselves against the beasts of the deep. Their status in combat is marked by the number of shark teeth that adorn their wristbands. The rest of the city is divided into three districts, one for each social class. The workers live near the docks, bringing in the ocean's bounty and maintaining the ships. The lower class accompany the northern side of the city, working in the small farms that are maintained on the island. The rich and noble live in the southern and eastern ends of the city, near the arena and grand palace of the emperor, being one of several estates to be made of pure white marble. Canals are the main mode of transport in this city, taking the place of many streets, though some paved ways and bridges do exist.


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Image οΊ΄ FIRE
          The Fire. The heat and attraction that draws us all in together. Fire is the element of passions, whether it be love, lust, or hatred, the Fire is what fuels our passions. Al' Kemish is the great nation of Fire that lies in the south, almost in a bowl of mountains. It shares its borders only with An' Tir to the north. The great dunes stretch on and on, lending much of the country an almost entrancing likeness to the rest. The only sure path is along the one river that flows through this land, coming from the mountains in two different tributaries, one to the east and one to the west. Nearly all of the cities in the country can be found along these two life giving stems, including the capital, Al' Icran. Their riches come from the hidden mines of in the mountains to the east, along with their surplus of exotic spices and fruits. Their cities are known to have quite lively locations where one may go to see their legendary dancers.

          The culture of Al' Kemish is a strange one. On the outside, it does indeed look controlled and elegant, though the further in you go, the more you realize the pure passion that drives nearly every single one of them. Marriage is an almost unheard of thing, and many children grow up without knowing their true father. It is here that many come to revel in their more primal, passionate experiences. Their passion is note restricted solely to the carnal pleasures, however. Many are great warriors. There is no truly organized military in this country, where the ruler is known more as a figurehead than any real being of power. The king can however rally his people, driving them all behind one single purpose and focusing a force that could compete with even the forces of An' Tir. More songs have been made for these great warriors and lovers than any other. Their ability to dance is yet another thing of legend. This is the land of strong loves, powerful hates, and nights that burn so bright they could be inscribed among the stars in the sky.

          Drakes of the Flame that reside in the lava plains along the south and north eastern ridges of this country are often times just as primal as the Forest Drakes, though they are much quicker to anger. With a temper that can flare in an instant, these beings are truly worthy of both fear and respect. With their longer limbs the prefer to scurry across the sands, their ruby red and pitch black scales blazing brightly in the sunlight. They are the only drakes who can inherently breath any form of their element. Their ability in fire breathing has been the subject of nightmares and stories of horror throughout the world.

          Dune Drakes share many of the same characteristics of their fiery brethren, including the fire breathing and lengthened limbs, though they do have more control over their urges. They generally tend to live in small huts made of mud-bricks, using much the same technique as the humans in the region. Their scales are generally of an orange hue with rimmed edges of sand color. These two tribes are often seen together, sharing a close bond that rivals that of their earthen cousins. They do the bidding of their patriarch, Shimshesh, Dragon of Fire.

          Al' Icran is a fairly large city, though not the largest in the kingdom. In contrast to the territories that surround it, Al' Icran is exceedingly green due to an irrigation system connected to the river that flows through the center of the city. The Palace of Al' Icran, home of the king, is made of brilliant limestone and encrusted with elegant golden decorations. Surprisingly, this city rarely sees a sandstorm, which are notable in the surrounding regions. Many believe it to be the work of magi under the employ the their king. Others believe the land to be blessed and holy. Regardless, it is one of the finest cities in the nation, as well as the most well renowned when it comes to their dancers.


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~ WINDImage
          The Wind. The breath and joy in life that all of us yearn for. The Wind is the element of joy and freedom, the things that make this life worth living. And although the wind is usually not but a soft and gentle breeze, its fury can rip houses from their foundations and cause terror the likes of which you have never known. The wind nation of Tochikaze resides secluded in the northern mountains. One must take a series of long and near hidden mountain passes to reach the large valley within the peaks of the Craven Mountains. In this valley an entire nation resides. It is a small nation, having only three cities and a few, scattered villages that crowd around the a lake that rests on the southern end of the valley. The capital, a city of towering buildings made of wood and shingle, is found in a small pocket to the far northern end of the valley. Beings of the wind often travel out from their home, seeking the chance to explore and find what lies beyond their own, small world.

          The culture of Tochikaze is one of the more relaxed in the world. They understand the need of work, and do it willingly, generally whistling or singing to themselves as they move through their duties. Many come here to find themselves, letting the whispers of the wind carry through their minds, seeking the thoughts that are rooted and true. It is a land of peace and serenity, where laughter is common place. Many of the wind yearn for adventure and travel, more so than the other countries. But, even in this peaceful land, the need for defense is strong. Tochikaze is renowned for their archers, whose skill with a bow surpasses any other. The bows themselves are large, sometimes taller than the ones who operate them. Their magi are known for blending strong gusts with hand-to-hand combat. They cannot, however, fly.

          Drakes of the Sky, on the other hand, are the only of their kind to have wings and the ability to fly. They live in the sky, dwelling on floating cities in the clouds. Many consider these beings to be divine creatures, second only to Drakes of the Light. Seeing them is considered an omen, though whether good or bad is the question. They are great and mighty warriors, using their ability of flight to their advantage as they soar through the sky, swooping down like raptors onto their prey. Though they are usually peaceful beings who enjoy flying as more a leisure sport than a practice of combat, there is one recorded account of their females joining together during a time of strife, creating a storm so mighty that the entire country of Tochikaze was torn asunder. This is rumored to have been done to stop a corruption in the country that the mighty Dragon of Wind, FΕ«jin, feared may seep into his children, and from there, into him.

          The capital of Tochikaze, Kazehomu, is the largest in the country. Nestled at the far end of the valley, its towering buildings reach high into the heavens, some of them reaching the clouds that cloak the mountain peaks behind them. The people here are almost all members of the middle class, save for the royal family. The royal family generally dresses in fine robes and garments made of silk, with the ladies of the house dressing in ornate kimonos. This does not, however, keep them restrained from their personalities or liveliness. They are generally kind and gentle people, but have tempers and mood changes that mirror the wind itself, gentle one moment, brutal the next. The home of the royal family is a large castle, peaked with towers that reach high into the heavens. The rest of the surrounding area is generally of decent buildings, most being above a single floor.

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☾ LIGHT and DARKNESS ☽
ImageImage
The Light, and the Dark. The Twin Elements that lend shades and hues to our hearts, the elements of the spirit and soul. It is they who both shield us from evil, and expose it for what it truly is. Neither of these elements is inherently holy or evil, as many claim them to be. They are simply opposite sides the same coin, two pieces of the puzzle that could not be placed together without the other. There is no country, no nation that flies under the banner of the Light or the Dark. They are not concrete elements like the other four, but rather the elements of spirit in manifest.

Light is a much harsher element than people tend to believe. It is edged and sharp, like a blade. Though it is true that the people blessed with this element are happier than most, it is not because of any special gift given by the element. The power of Light is given to those who hold it in their hearts to see the truth, and accept it. They are a rare breed, selected and destined to be leaders in troublesome times.

The Three Drakes of Light are figures of legend, and in near all cultures depicted as beings of salvation, saviors during the darkest of times. They were all born as humans, those chosen to hold the light more than the others. Many truly believe these creatures to be only myths, beings made up in the minds of humans and drakes alike to give hope during dark times. It is rumored they live near a gateway to heaven that resides upon this earth, guarding it from any who attempt to gain entrance. They live their lives for the good of the world, and for Omega, Dragon of the Light.

Darkness is a subtle element, one with dulled edges and creeping way of going about things. It manifests much easier than its twin, though it is often shunned when shown. Darkness is not an evil element, but one of protection. It masks our fears, keeps the demons from finding their way into our hearts, and safeguards us as we dream. They are the unsung heroes of the world, those who toil away to keep us safe from the real horrors of the world. They have let the darkness consume their mind, falling into its shadowed embrace, and realized, it is not the shadows that are evil, but the things that stir inside them, trying to find a way out. It is they who truly deserve the thanks of the populace.

Drakes of the Shadows are twisted figures, their normal bodies twisting and contorting from their fights with the demons and beasts in the dark. They are often seen as demons themselves, or at the bare minimum, bad omens. They rarely leave their cave dwellings, the entrance to which lies at the back of the northern lava fields in Al' Kemish. When they do venture away from their home, they are driven mad by the demons they battle. They are the guardians to a quite literal gate to hell. They are our first and most reliable defense against the demons that reside in the place of torment. They live with their mistress, Morrighan, Dragon of the Shadows, just outside the gates of hell where they battle continuously, living a life in the dark.

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Image

It's time to take ahold of what belongs to me
It's time to walk away with [strike]no apologies[/strike]
Voices in the mirror start out [strike]quietly[/strike]
Now they're screaming back at me

DON'T BACK DOWN!



                                  He woke just before the dawn from an uneasy sleep. It had been another dream, another foreboding vision from a far off land he swore to never visit again, another taunting message from a being he should have destroyed without mercy.

                                  Twain shook his head, dark brown hair splaying in all directions before settling on his shoulders. Looking out towards the mountains in the distance, he could feel the chill of autumn slowly settling over the land. The farthest mountains already held snow on their peaks, sparkling lightly in the faint half-light of predawn. The time for harvest was fast approaching, a time that held mixed emotions for the man who now shifted out from under his covers, welcoming the new day with a faint smile.

                                  Running a hand through his hair, he stepped through his suite in the palace, crossing in front an ebony wood vanity that he had not seen use in years. The mirror was kept clean, as he whiped it down each night before bed, paying homage to its prior owner. He'd contemplated removing it several times, but at each occurance he couldn't bring himself to lift it away from his chambers.

                                  Shrugging off the remnants of sleep, he pushed open the door to his washroom, disrobed, and began to clean himself of the prior day's grime. The room itself felt warm just by the looks of it. Amber tinted, course glass filtered in faint light form on high. Carved wooden stools sat near a drain in the floor as a brass spicket came through the wall high up, its head the form of a howling wolf. As he pulled a wooden tassle hung near the stools, the wolf's mouth growled lightly before a soft rain of warm water casscaded forth, spitting out from enlongated fangs and showering him with warmth.

                                  Twain basked in the warm water as the sun slowly rose in the east, slowly brightening the amber glow within the marbel room. He washed himself slowly, letting his muscles relax in the warm water before he pulled another tassel, ending the spray of water to little more than a drip before it finally ebbed away into nothingness. As he walked back out of the washroom he tucked a towel loosely around his waist. His long hair and beard dripped water as he rifled through a dresser set next to his large bed.

                                  He pulled out a fine, white linen shirt, dark trousers, undergarments, and socks. They were of finer make than most, but not unreasonably so. He enjoyed dressing to look his best when he could, but not stiflingly so. Finally, he reached out to the top of the dresser and picked up a leather jerkin, the sleeves of which ended just before his elbows. Finally, he tied back his hair with a pinegreen silk ribbon, letting a loose ponytail fall to the place between his shoulderblades.Once he was dressed he slipped on his boots, and strapped on his sword belt.

                                  As he swung open the door he heard a small squeak from his left. He raised a brow and looked down to see a serving girl standing there with her hand pressed over her heart.

                                  "My apologies," Twain said with a chuckle, "I didn't mean to startle you, Susan."

                                  "No no, my apologies, m'lord," Susan said, blushing faintly and pushing back a lock of sandy blonde hair. "I do bring a message though. King Mountainsong would like to see you in the main hall. He says it's a matter of great import and would like you to come as swiftly as possible." She ended the message with a small cursty.

                                  "Thank you, my dear," Twain said, dipping his head in a small bow.

                                  "Shall I clean the room for you, m'lord?" she asked as Twain took his first couple of steps down the hall.

                                  "Do as you see fit," he said absently, brushing the matter off with a wave of his hand. "I'm sure you have much more pressing matters to attend to than making my bed. But, if you insist upon I shan't stop you." Twain had given up trying to convince the servants they didn't have to do things for him long ago, so he left it up to their judgement anymore. From what he could tell it infuriated some and made others feel much closer to him.

                                  As he strode down the marbel hallway, he heard the faint click of a latch closing behind him, and knew his bed would be perfectly made when he returned. Twain made a mental note to himself to leave something extra for her the next time she cleaned his room, a sort of treat. If he remembered properly she enjoyed candied fruits a great deal.

                                  It only took him another eight minutes or so before he came out to the central part of the palace from his room in the north wing, where many diplomats and officers of the military had rooms, as did the king and his family. The south wing of the palace was made for servants and a barracks for the guardsmen.

                                  In the eastern portion of the palace lay the gardens, a grand courtyard through which sprung the source of the River Gwendolyn, named after the wolf mother who had taken the first king of An' Tir and made him the first wolf rider. According to legend, the source of the spring is her burial site, and it was from the tears and howls of the wolves that the Great Mother herself let loose a single tear that would ever flow forth from Gwendolyn's grave. Around this spring was laid the foundation for the palace and the rest of the city. A large, stained glass murrel of a a great wolf howling amidst the forst shines behind the throne room, marking the entrance to the latice work that would bring one down from the raised floor of the thrown room, which sits atop the river that flows through the city center, covered by metal latice work to form a never ending bridge as well as the main street though the entirety of the city proper. The rest of the eastern wing is the housing for draken ambassadors, specially design for those who live there. The largest and most extravagent of which belongs to Twain's close friend, the High Chief of the Earthen Drake, Sciath Strongjaw.

                                  As Twain descended the stairs from the third level of the palace, he noted a stark lack of guards. The main hall, which doubly served as the throne room, was empty save for two people. One was a tall man, thick dark brown hair and a bushy beared flowing over his chest and a golden crown set with emeralds of the highest quality set in the eleven peaks that rose from the band of gold. The other was a tall creature with scales as rich as the emeralds, and eyes to match. The drake's bottom half was covered by an intricate tribal kilt.

                                  "But what disheartens me is they haven't reported back yet." King Edwin said, sigh out and pinching his nose. Dark bags hung under his eyes as he looked at the expansice main chamber. He lost himself for a moment in the vaulted cieling, the elgent tapestries hanging from the walls, the fluted columns rising four stories before bending and arching to the high point of the ceiling.

                                  "Patience is a virtue given unto us by the Mother, Edwin. It is wise to use it," breathed Sciath. The towering creature's voice echoed out like rumbling stones and growing trees, calm and peaceful, confident in the utmost.

                                  "You summoned me, Edwin?" Twain asked, bowing lightly. He and the king were friends, and as such only the barest of formalities were made between them.

                                  "Yes," Edwin sighed, stepping over to his high backed thrown and sitting down with a sigh. He looked tired, as though he had been up several hours and had gone to sleep far too late. He ran a hand over his face and then leaned forward, his shirt loosely fitting on his muscled frame. "We received reports earlier this month of a village in Agrius province that had seen strange goings on. Some said it was a haunting."

                                  Twain shifted on his feet, the smile he had worn fading from his face. Sciath shifted nervously near a pillar.

                                  "Some reports claim that the dead have been rising and calling out the names of their loved ones. Town guards can verify the shouting, but nothing out. We sent out a small investigative squad a while back, but have had no word. This was two weeks ago." Edwin stood then, crossing to Twain and looking him in the eyes. Fire sparked behind Twain's silver-blue eyes, a raging inferno.

                                  "I'm sending you to clean it up. Once you get there, find a way to contact me. It's a weeks ride out. You'll leave in two day's time. Eat, drink, and be as merry as you can my friend. I may be sending you back into hell." Edwin said with a heavy sigh, placing his hand on Twain's shoulder.

                                  A feral smile split Twain's lips. "Good," he growled, "the devil and I have a score to settle."






Image



DON'T BACK DOWN!
Holding on until my hands and mind are bleeding
DON'T BACK DOWN!
This is my birthright!
DON'T BACK DOWN
!

I'm so sick of feeling like I'm helpless
DON'T BACK DOWN, THIS IS OVER TONIGHT!

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Itan's ears woke up faster than the rest of him. Before his eyes opened, his mind was assailed by the mental images of a fire crackling in a forge downstairs, crickets outside his windows and the voices of the soon opening market. In the drake's opinion, the market was the highlight of the morning, especially with the shipment of gems coming in this morning. Swinging his legs off the side of the bed was the most herculean effort he would perform all day no doubt, but the effort was done and the young drake was up, ready for the day's trials.

Within minutes, Itan was dressed with a pair of trousers, a cloak and several leather belts around his waist, chest and one around his left leg, all holding various pouches and all hidden by his long and battered forge master's apron. The gold inlay of the master's symbol was covered by the cloak itself, but the hood was drawn back to the filed down horns, revealing the maroon scales and pink scars of his elongated snout. He patted his small apprentice on the shoulder as the young boy stoked the fire. The lad was exhausted, having stayed up all night tending the fire and working on a small dagger that neared completion. Itan's eyes scanned the metal and grinned. The boy was improving and neared the ability to make blades as a profession, but still not enough to put the drake out of a job.

"You're improving Ulmo, that's for sure. Go and get some rest." Itan told him, tossing more fuel into the flame, then closing the glass casing in the front of the forge to ensure no stray embers caught the house on fire. Ulmo nodded sleepily and retired to the other half of the room where his bed was. With that Itan left for the market to pick up his gems that finally came in.

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