High above the Khatari Sea in the far East of Eldross floats the Dominion of Vendaeros. Once a large continent called Naras, the land rose high into the sky and left the sea far below in an event that has become known as the “Ascension”. Vendaeros is now only a collection of pieces of levitating land, called “eyots”. Some of these eyots float hundreds of feet into the air, while others are thousands of feet in the sky. These eyots can range in size from a very small piece of land to the size of some of the largest territories in Eldross. On these eyots can be found rolling hills, farm lands, forests with plentiful game and even mountains from which rivers flow. Amongst all of this highly scenic and beautiful terrain, the people of Vendaeros make their home. Before the Ascension, Vendaeros was a province of prestige and significance in the land of Naras. The city and the lands around it were known for their outstanding wines and artistic culture, as well as its quality of chivalric knights. After the Ascension, a time of chaos followed; yet with the strong infusion of Astra and their strong agricultural knowledge, the Vendaerosians persevered. The soil of the eyot lands was fertile and rich, and while the climate had changed somewhat, the seasons were still available for growth. The Vendaerosians adapted to their new circumstances quickly, and while much of Eldross suffered below, the “People of the Sky” survived and flourished.
Cities and Towns
There are many cities located on the different eyots of Vendaeros, but these three are the most significant: Bourtaigne, Aberness, and Lyonouse.
On the eyot named Relos is a large body of water the size of a small sea, known as the Brogeri Sea. This large body of salt water provides food and livelihood for those who call this area home. In particular, the coastal city of Aberness is located on its western shores. Ships that sail the sea and the air can be found here, as the great ship foundries produce these almost works of art are located nearby. Also located in Aberness is the Garden of Kannan, a botanical homage to the ancient hero who stood against tyranny. Many Vendaerosians make the pilgrimage in their lifetime at least once to see this living monument. Aberness is not the largest city of Vendaeros, but it is one of the largest exporters of food, mainly fish and other aquatic fauna to not only Vendaeros, but other lands as well. It is said that the seafood eaten from this area has a quality not found anywhere else in its capacity for nourishment and taste.
Deep in the Averost Mountains, located on the largest eyot known as Hule is the revered city of Bourtaigne. Built upon ancient ruins, journey to this city is often a perilous trek; the swirling winds make air travel almost impossible, and the mountain passes are nigh impassable in winter; however thousands make their way to its hallowed walls every year to visit the sacred source of Astra, the Luminex. In the Dominion of Vendaeros, there is nowhere more revered than the Fortress of Stillness that was built around the Luminex. Questing knights also visit this place for guidance, and as the starting point for their journey. Bourtaigne is also known as the City of Iridescence.
The capital city of the Dominion of Vendaeros. When the Ascension took place, many of the buildings fell and were destroyed in this old city, but over time it has been rebuilt. It is here the famed inventor Garo Vespuci learned the secrets of harnessing the element Essential Air and built the Vespuci Engine that would power the great airships of Vendaeros and allow them to reconnect with the world above and below. Within Lyonouse is also the Grand Luminarum, a domed building that is the largest gathering place of the Devoted of Astra in all of the Kingdoms of Eldross. Lyonouse is also known as the City of Clouds, due to the large amount of tall, cylindrical buildings that taper upward into the cloudy sky. These spires became more commonly built after the Ascension, and as only those with wings or in airships can reach them..
Places of Note
Fountain of Chenasse
Located within the city of Lyonouse, the Fountain of Chenasse is known for its healing properties and soothing qualities. Legend has it that this fountain and its mystical waters from a bygone age were the tears of an immortal being who wept for her children that were lost. Many also believe that throwing a coin into the fountain and making a wish will increase the chances of said wish coming true. It is not known if this is factual, but the amount of wealth pulled from the fountain each year is enough to make many believe this tale. The wealth gathered is generally sent to the Luminarums for caretaking the orphanages.
One of the crops that does well in Vendaeros is the grape, and so Vendaeros is known for its incredible wines. One of the best producers of wine is Chateau Savigne, located near the city of Joreaux. Every year thousands of casks are produced from this fertile area and Chateau Savigne is chief amongst these. Though a small vineyard before the Ascension, Chateau Savigne has grown into a powerhouse in the vintaculture community and its wines are enjoyed across the lands, especially by those of prominent families.
After the Ascension, it soon became evident that the lands were being infused by two main sources, Astra and Air. The lands from before were known to have a small amount of these forces, but after the Ascension they pervaded everything; the land, water, flora, fauna and yes, even the people began to change. ‘Essential Air’ was found in great quantities, and it became clear that Vendaeros rising into the air was due to the prodigious amounts of this force that was found in the rocks and earth itself.
Astra, however, was more internal in its effects. It permeated the air, the ground, everything. Food had a slightly different, more fulfilling taste because of it. Water also seemed to be slightly more wholesome. Creatures in the forests and mountains of Vendaeros changed, not only in color but also size and ability. Eager to find where and how this was taking place, the Magi of this time organized and tracked this pervading energy to its source, deep in the Averost Mountains. It was here in the ruins of an ancient city they found the well spring of Astra, a column of light that went deep into the ground. The closer they got to the Light, the more they felt changed and empowered. They named this phenomenon the Luminex, and over time built the city of Bourtaigne around it. It is customary for every citizen of Vendaeros to make the perilous pilgrimage to the City of Iridescence at least once in their lifetime.
Vendaeros floats high above the rest of the world and yet this does not seem to limit its natural resources at all. Forests that have been harvested for their lumber have been found to have regrown in less than a year. Mines that have been freed of all their ore are found to contain that much ore again several years later. The land itself contains a healing quality, replenishing all that has been used. Most believe this is the healing quality of Astra itself, proof that the inhabitants of Vendaeros are indeed blessed.
Being so high in the air does make for cold winters, yet for the most part Vendaeros enjoys a temperate climate that has clear, delineated seasonal crops. Vendaeros has bountiful harvests, to such a degree that food is actually a major export to other kingdoms and cultures. It is said that even the poorest Vendaeros will never go hungry and starvation has been all but eliminated.
Scintilum is also found within Vendaeros, an ore that is permeated with the very properties and energy of Astra. This ore, while rare, is often made into weapons and also used to reinforce the mastheads of ships. Some noble families have swords that go back to the time of the Ascension, when Scintilum was first discovered.
The Element known as Essential Air, when infused with the pure energy of Astra, creates a hybrid substance known simply as Astral Air. It is known for its uplifting power, both spiritually and physically. Not easily harnessed, it has the ability to quickly lift airships and was critical in the early years of exploration.
Magic and Technology
Before the Ascension, there were the Indomintus Magi, a group of mages that were dedicated to the proliferation of the Magic Arts. While well intentioned, these individuals were little more than dabblers of the arcane, their ability to channel the forces of the world muted and insignificant. After the Ascension, the Magi found themselves channeling far greater power than before. Something inherently had changed, and all disciplines of magic were now unlocked. Before, it seemed the upper echelons of power were the province of the Immortals only, but now all those with any training or talent could channel much more of that power, especially those devoted to Astra. It seemed even the neophytes could do more than the trained from before the Ascension. This proved to be a great boon, as the ability to channel Astra into healing helped incalculably in the saving of lives and healing the wounded from grievous injuries in the times of rebuilding. In the old days, the Indomintus Magi had decided that such power needed to be taught and handled wisely, and so created the Ordos. Today the Ordos has a great say in the daily goings on of the Dominion of Vendaeros, and through their efforts schools have been established to train those who show aptitude in the magical arts. Obviously, Luminancy is the highest priority, but all magics are taught, except the illegal Necromancy.
The weapons and armor of the Vendaerosians have not really changed in the 200 years since the Ascension, though advancements in forging Scintilum and Essential Air have progressed. The armor tends toward more knightly wear, as the concept of chivalry is strongly embraced by the Vendaeros culture. Ranged weaponry has also stayed much the same, though innovation has taken place in the form of a repeater ballista called the Lancer. Powered by Essential Air, this creation of Garo Vespuci proved to be a fearsome weapon of war when mounted on his next creation, the Airship. These Lancers not only have a fearsome rate of fire, but the bolts themselves are tipped with Scintilum and are very good at penetrating their target.
When the Ascension took place, the people of Vendaeros found themselves disconnected from the rest of the world. This was probably a good thing as it spared them the troubles taking place in the world below. However, it also had a downside as the inhabitants on different Eyots were disconnected. Fortunately for Vendaeros, Garo Vespuci, a prominent inventor from Landonia was visiting the city when the Ascension took place, and it was his contributions that led a few years later to the construction of the first Vendaeros Airships. Using the secrets of Astral Air, he created the Vespuci Airgine, used in all Vendaeros airships to this day. With these new airships, Vendaeros was able to reconnect with the inhabitants from other eyots and build their new realm in the sky.
After the Ascension, the physical effects of Astra on the Incarna became obvious in the sprouting of wings and other such vestments. As time progressed, these vestments became more normal to the nobility, though to those who had never seen them before, they invoked feelings of awe and even fear. It was a period of adjustment, as those who showed such vestments were considered “blessed”. Immortals of the noble families now have pointed ears and golden hair and hands. Some have wings and even show a nimbus of light around the heads, known as an aureole. Others have glowing eyes and shining gems that encircle them.
The clothing of the Vendaerosians is often ornate, and the higher the social status, the more whites, golds and silvers are worn. Those in the Ordos will wear ostentatious robes the higher their rank. Military armor is a status symbol all unto itself, and the more armored an individual, the more martial respect they hold. Clothing is a way to advertise social status in Vendaeros and it is used to set the mood for social situations.
Omni is key to the central philosophy of the culture, which is the harmonious accumulation of all life force working towards common goals. The people believe in everyone doing their job, and as a result the society will remain harmonious and prosperous. Disobedience and rebellion are almost unknown and the only true conflict arises from the ambitious in power seeking more control. In the belief they have been blessed by Astra, most inhabitants intrinsically feel it is their purpose to follow its tenants, which are harmony, obedience and virtuousness. Helping others is a core trait of the Vendaerosian people.
Instead of a calamitous event, the Ascension and was seen as the blessed taking their rightful place in the sky. The new infusion of Astra magick lent weight to the ideal that the Vendaeros people had been chosen as both the guardians of Astra and the Inheritors of the Kingdom of Eldross and the old ways. Unfortunately, some Vendaerosians have used this belief to justify arrogance, self righteousness and tyrannical authoritarianism. While the expansionist period of Vendaeros history started with the best of intentions- to bring civilization and order to the chaos below- there were those few who did not remain in harmony, leading to subjugating those who resisted the life that the Vendaerosians offered. As a result, there are those who still harbor resentment against the Vendarosians, despite the greater good they have brought to Eldross.
Etiquette and Society
Vendaeros is extremely hierarchical in social status. Society runs on the premise that everyone fits into a particular walk of life and that one stays in their particular caste. This is not to say one cannot rise to the very top of the caste they are in, but it is unusual to see someone change their caste. For example, a stone mason might never rise to be a knight or noble, but he might become the head of the stone mason’s guild. The acceptance of one’s social station implies that while someone might be considered “above you” in social status, there is still a general societal respect that is afforded to the individual, no matter what their job might be. This is because while a garbage collector is still a garbage collector, respect is afforded because garbage collecting is a needed job and the fulfilling of a needed function is worthy of that respect.
It is common to bow in society to someone of a higher social rank. The greater the difference in rank, the deeper the bow. Those considered to be of prestigious or royal blood will garner a kneeling to show one’s respect for their station. Those of equal rank or close to equal will give a head nod as a sign of recognition of station.
The language of Vendaeros is still the old language of Chrossian, which is also the common language of Eldross. This being said, the Vendaerosians speak an older dialect of this language that is very deliberate and formal and still carries the weight from the days of eld. This has caused other cultures to view the Vendaerosians as “stiff” and “overly-formal” in their descriptions. An old saying of Vendaeros is, “Hasty words make for discordant actions.”
There has also been a sign language developed by the privileged of Vendaeros who soar the skies on feathery wings. First developed by the elite members of the Radiant Host (a unit in the military of Vendaeros that is an all winged elite force) to counter the rigors and inadequacies of speech while high in the sky, it later became adopted by even those sailing on airships. This language is called Highspeak.
Architecture and Art
Before the Ascension, Vendaeros was considered one of the great cultural places in the Kingdom of Eldross. It was known as a province of artists and its wine culture was second to none. Many traveled from other lands to visit the famed Fountain of Chenasse and prodigious art galleries located throughout the land. After the Ascension, art was still important to the culture, but it took on a decidedly “Astral” flavor. Over a period of time, all pieces of art that survived the Ascension were phased out if they didn’t meet certain standards. Many great works of art were lost or destroyed during this time if the subject matter was deemed “inappropriate” or not uplifting in nature.
The Ascension and rise of Astra had another decided effect on Vendaerosians. Noble houses in the past had used some towers, but after the Ascension they became more en vogue, especially when inhabitants began exhibiting signs of evolution from the infusion of Astral energy. When the Immortals of noble families grew wings, the architecture changed to accommodate those who could fly and towers were built taller and taller.
Food and Diet
Vendaeros is a fertile land that is best described as a “bread basket”, meaning they grow and produce plenty of crops to keep everyone fed. In fact, Vendaeros always produces a surplus of food for most seasons and as a result one of their chief exports to other cultures is food. Another reason these lands are so good at agriculture is the fact they tend to be above the bad storms that plague the lands below and the precipitation they do get is usually light and not dangerous. In fact, Venadaeros suffers from few environmental hazards at all.
The foods common to Vendaeros include several grains, vegetables of all types, grapes in the fall and winter seasons and some fruits like apple trees. Meat is not an everyday dish, though mutton is a treat and sometimes game from the forests is added on special occasions. Cattle are raised, but more for milk and dairy than beef. Pigs don’t do well for some reason in Vendaeros, so bacon and ham are imported from Landonia.
There are a few delicacies that exist only in Vendaeros:
Brogen Grui: Grui is a special type of fish found only in the Brogen Sea on the Relos Eyot and is considered a delicacy all around the world for its exotic taste. Grui also don’t spoil as fast as other fish so they can be transported more easily as well.
Savigne Blue: Winter is not a harvest time for most crops, except the winter grapes found only in Vendaeros. Delicious wines are made from these chilled grapes but the most famous is known Savigne Blue, an ice grape wine that delights the senses and teases the mind. It is a welcome gift when nobility from Vendaeros brings Savigne Blue to nobles in other cultures.
Kenoche: This is an apple pastry made from the famed apples of the Derdagne Forest and is counted as one of the most desired desserts in the world.
Professions and Skills
It is impossible to talk about professions and skills without talking about the educational system of Vendaeros, which revolves around the hierarchy system. In Vendaeros society there are the Nobles, who are in charge of making the decisions for the society as a whole and belong to the main governing body, the House of Lords. Those who belong to the Ordos and those who belong to the military are considered next in rank, though some members of both the Ordos and the Military actually outrank some in the peerage. The next are the Guilded, those who belong to the guilds that oversee a particular industry (like the Grain Farmers Guild or the Aeronautics Guild). After the Guilded are the Unguilded, those who work a job that is not considered significant enough to be Guilded or maybe don’t work a job at all. These are considered “common” folk and while they still contribute most likely in some way to society, their status in the eyes of those who do hold more significant jobs is that of a lesser.
All that being said, education is the province of the status into which one is born. The Ordos does run primary schools for beginning education, to give even the lowest status the history of Vendaeros and perspective on how they will fit into Vendaerosian Society. It is also used to find those with magick aptitude amongst the lower classes, for they may be shuffled to Ordos Schools for Magick where they will be trained. It is in this way that one’s social status may actually change. For those without the magickal aptitude, once the basic education is complete then individuals will find themselves headed towards apprenticeship and learning a profession appropriate to their social status. Those from Unguilded parents may be found to have talent in a Guilded profession and may be chosen to be accepted for apprenticeship (this is another way in which to rise in status, however the Guilded will always choose first from those children of Guilded parents). Nobles have their own teachers and aptitudes, and some nobles might be groomed for leadership positions within the Ordos, the Military, or even Governance.
Vendaerosians are no different than any other society when it comes to enjoying their holidays and celebrations. The following are a list of holidays and celebrations that are important to the people of Vendaeros:
Host Day – a celebration of all military victories and those who have served in the military.
Day of Her Grace – this is a tribute to the celestial nature of Astra and its amazing works. Many dress in simple clothing of all white and make a trip to the Shrine or other places of Astral significance. This is the one time of year the Luminous Maiden leaves the Luminex and travels to the Grand Luminarum in Lyonouse.
Lambenalia – Winter Solstice- It is the time when snow is on the ground and at that time of the year presents are given and friends and family gather together for feasting and fellowship.
Sowing Day – It is the time for spring harvest. All members of all social castes participate in this festival and in the actual planting prior to it for the good of the culture. This ends with large tables placed in the main town area where everyone contributes and music and dancing is enjoyed by all.
The governing of the Dominion of Vendaeros is the province of the House of Lords, an august body made up of patriarchs from the noble families of Vendaeros. These Lords make policy and decide the laws of Vendaeros. Once there was an Emperor of Vendaeros, though he was lost in the war with Velkaria and has never been replaced. Now, the Lord High Protector is considered the “ruler” of Vendaeros, though this is an elected position by the House of Lords, in charge of carrying out the edicts of the House of Lords with limited veto power as well. Seats in the House of Lords are hereditary and it is up to the individual families as to who will hold the seats. Over the years, as other Eyots came under Vendaeros rule, more seats were added for those who were considered nobility on their respective Eyots. The nobility structure has Eyots split into Counties and within those Counties are Baronies. Most Eyots will only have one Count in charge of it and some are only the size of a barony, however the larger ones like Hule and Relos have several Counts and they answer to a Duke. The Duke of Hule is also the Lord High Protector.
The laws of Vendaeros are much like those in other civilized areas of the world, in fact Vendaeros brought the rule of law to many areas that had turned barbaric and savage after the Ascension. Even nobles are expected to obey the laws of the land, though they are afforded more rights due to their status. The one law however that none dare break, no matter what their station might be, is the use of Necromancy. Considered abhorrent in all its forms, all found guilty of such are imprisoned and often banished.
Other laws of course deal with murder, theft and trangressions of one citizen vs another. As a whole, Vendaerosians tend to be lawful in their approach and most of the time crime simply doesn’t happen; however there is always the odd outlier. For such cases there is a constabulary in most settlements, and in larger settlements a judicial branch known as Adjudicators. In larger cities these Adjudicators are assigned permanently to their specific areas, while the smaller cities rely on traveling Adjudicators to come and hear cases and pass sentence. Nobles who are not under the province of Adjudicators and can claim Noble Prerogative to have their case adjudicated by those of higher status.
Organizations and Orders
The mages from before the Ascension who called themselves the Magi quickly understood that the paradigm had shifted and soon anyone would be able to tap into great power. One of the first resolutions passed by the newly formed House of Lords dealt with the formation of a new branch of Government with its own powers. This branch, on the same level as the Military, would be in charge of all concepts of a magical nature, including the identification and training of those with magical talent and the investigation and capture of those using magic for maleficence. The head of the “Ordos” is the Grand Chancellor and his Council is the Quorum. Over the years the purview of the Ordos has grown to include running schools and orphanages and assigning Mages as “Counselors” to noble families across the lands. Today, the Ordos rivals even the peerage in influence and power in Vendaeros.
The Knightly Orders
The idea of a Knight, a warrior who is devoted to ideals and takes vows is a revered part of Vendaeros Society that harkens back to before the Ascension. In Vendaeros Society, Knights are counted as part of the military caste, though many noble’s sons have attained Knighthood through the various Orders that are recognized officially by Vendaeros. There are three ways to earn knighthood in Vendaeros. The first way is to be accepted into a recognized knightly order. Usually these have strict guidelines and one must “prove” themselves through deed or have a sponsor, i.e. another knight of that order or noble sponsorship. The second is to be named a knight by landed nobility, either a Baron, Count or Duke. This naming of the knight to a court means the knight is expected to carry out martial duties and be the advisor of war for the noble. The third way is by far the hardest and most unique. Those wishing to become a full knight can travel to the Luminex in the city of Bourtaigne in the Averost Mountains, to visit the Luminous Maiden who is in charge of tending to the Astra shrine. The aspiring knight will seek to be found worthy through devotions and meditation. If the Luminous Maiden reads the heart of the aspirant and finds it worthy, they are allowed to drink from the Chalice of the Virtues. Once this is done, they will receive a vision, a quest to complete that could take them years and send them far away from Vendaeros. These quests involve the righting of wrongs and helping those in need. If they survive and complete their quest, they will return to Bourtaigne and receive acknowledgement of their knighthood. These knights are rare and revered in Vendaeros society and to distinguish them, have been given the title of Questing Knight. While Order Knights answer to their order and Landed Knights answer to their nobility, Questing Knights wander Eldross, perpetually questing for Astra and going wherever they hear “the Call”. There are a number of Knightly Orders in Vendaeros, but these three are considered the most significant:
The Order of the Argent Light
This order is more militant and prefers arms to resolve its conflicts. It believes in honor and loyalty to the Dominion above all things. Many famous military leaders and heroes got their start in this order.
Knights of the Sanctum of Illumination
This order favors negotiation and peaceful means before having to resort to violence, though when it is necessary, they will invoke it. They hold the Luminous Maiden in the highest reverence, and see her as their patron.
This is an order of knights made up of all illuminated risen mortals. One must literally die and be returned by Astra to be worthy of this order.
The Noble Houses
Nobility is everything in the Vendaeros culture; society revolves around it.
House Eres is the oldest and most revered family in Vendaeros, having existed well before the Ascension. It was Justinius Eres, the immortal patriarch of the family who became the Emperor of Vendaeros during the expansionist period. He was the first and last Emperor of Vendaeros, as he went missing during the All Souls War against Velkaria. House Eres still has prominence, though some still blame them for the expansionist wars that resulted. House Eres scions are recognized by the golden sheen on their wings.
The Osmiere family is almost as old and distinguished as the Eres family and currently the head of the government is Lord High Protector Theobald Osmiere who was voted to this position by the House of Lords, after Emperor Justinius went missing. The newly titled Lord High Protector’s first act was to end the All Souls War with Velkaria and pull the surviving Vendaeros forces back. Since then Vendaeros has quietly rebuilt their strength and stayed insular the past 56 years or so. The Osmiere are recognized by the bronze tint to their wings.
The Argos family is different from the other distinguished noble families in the sense it is a recent addition to the noble structure, having been founded in the last 40 years. Caleb Argos was an unguilded lad who sought to attain knighthood by quest from the Luminous Maiden. The quest he received was one that others had been given but all had failed, the finding of The Astra-El, a feather from the rumored founder of the Vendaerods bloodlines. Years later, Caleb returned to Vendaeros with the Astra-El, though he had lost an eye and was missing a hand from his trials. For his great service, not only was he named a Questing Knight by the Luminous Maiden, he also was given the right to found his own noble family by the House of Lords. Those of the Argos line are known by the bluish-silver tint to their wings.
Members of House Wenmont are known to be adept at the ritual arts and guardians of Illuminancy. They prefer a peaceful approach to problems, letting the power of astra guide and direct their dealings. They are often found in the Ordos.
The Time before and the Ascension
Before the cataclysm, Vendaeros was an interesting dichotomy of farmers and working class in the rural areas, while the province was filled with high society and some of the premier artists of their day. Vendaeros always considered itself somewhat rivals to Aeteras, and when Kaanan’s new ideas and progressiveness was embraced by those who called Vendaeros home and concerned themselves with the finer aspects of life. Many advancements in architecture, music and painting took place during this time as new trends were quickly adopted. Then came the Ascension, and the world changed.
The first inkling of something wrong was the great rumbling that took place as the ground itself, once so steady and firm, was ripped from its foundation and rose into the air. Great panic took place as the region rose, breaking apart as it did, till it finally settled thousands of feet into the sky. Where once was a complete land of rolling hills, beautiful valleys, and picturesque mountains was a collection of floating islands but fractured islands.
The Early Years after the Ascension
The first years were hard, as the population was spread out amongst the different eyots. Besides the immediate death that took place, the following years continued that trend as the different eyots were sometimes spread too far to be easily traversed and a period of isolationism followed. While the lands still had plentiful game, and water still flowed from the mountains on some of the eyots, others were not so lucky and survival was not assured. The city of Vendaeros was on the main body of land that had ascended, and as a result recovered more quickly than many of the other Eyots. This eyot became known as “Hule”. While some of the city was devastated by its sudden flight and instability into the sky, the architecture had always been sound and survived much of the catastrophe. Hule had plentiful, fertile lands and soon the people, under the calming influence of the nobility and hierarchy structure, had life moving forward relatively quickly in comparison.
Times were initially hard. The countryside was rife with beasts and monsters that were disturbed from their lairs when the ground rose and order had to be brought to the chaos. It was during this time that a number of Knightly Orders were founded out of sheer necessity to combat the menace in the countryside. Some of these orders still exist to this day, their roots in noble heritage.
The invention of the airship changed everything. The great inventor Garo Vespuci was visiting from Ondras during the Ascension. Investigating the calamitous event, he discovered the sudden abundance of the resource Essential Air. This resource was largely responsible for the lifting of the region into the sky, but also could be used to power and provide lift to large objects. After a couple of years of development, the first “Airship” was produced that used his invention, the Airegine.
During the period of isolationism, lords and powerful personalities had created their own fiefdoms on their own eyots. The first order of business was to unite these eyots under the banner of Vendaeros, which became the name of the entire new nation that was being formed. The Eres family, through prestige, wealth and historical relevance declared themselves the inheritors of old Eldross, and through a Council of Surviving Lords, became the ascendant family of Vendaeros. They brought the recalcitrant lords on other eyots under heel, through diplomacy if possible, or war if not. It took 30 or so years in all to complete the “Unification”. The military power of Vendaeros grew exponentially from each eyot that rejoined the flock.
The Expansionist Period
Some fifty years after the Ascension, once all of the eyots were under Vendaroes rule, the nation began looking outward, sending forth expeditions of airships. The world below was surveyed, and one of the first expeditions went to seek out the High Kingdom of Chrossus, for the people of Vendaeros still considered themselves in fealty to that central authority. At the center of the kingdom, where once the greatest city of Eldross stood was now only a huge, raging maelstrom. The winds were too powerful for the Vendaerosians to get close, and it was assumed the High Kingdom was lost forever. The order and rule of law that once held the lands together was gone. This was the Vendarosian’s worst fear come true, and now they found themselves mourning what was lost, but also rife with new possibilities. Other expeditions found lawlessness and disorder to be the rule of the day across the world. The Vendaerosian contingents provided assistance and food to those refugees they came across.
There were great debates in the House of Lords during this time, and several prominent noble families came forth on opposing sides. House Eres and House Rhudeus were in favor of an aggressive approach to dealing with the rest of the world. The High Kingdom was gone, and in its absence was a void that needed to be filled. They argued, who better to pick up the mantle of Chrossus than Vendaeros? House Osmiere and House Wenmont were two of the most powerful houses that favored a more conservative approach, a wait and see attitude. In the end, the majority sided with House Eres and House Rhudeus and the Dominion of Vendaeros was born.
For the next fifty years, the Vendaerosians flew across the lands, bringing civilization, enlightenment and their skills in the healing magics to those below. More important than anything else, they brought bountiful amounts of food and often this was enough for communities and cities to accept their presence and their eventual rule of law. Wherever they went, the Dominion always had a strong military presence that was leveraged. In most cases, the people they came across were glad for the help and assistance. Some lands however, such as the newly created Landonia, were wary of their presence and negotiated a limited trade partnership instead of fully embracing Vendaerosian aid. Others did accept, either through the promise of a better way of life or intimidation of martial forces. A hundred years after the time of the Ascension, the Dominion of Vendaeros grew across the lands.
An Empire is Forged
In 106AK, the House of Lords made Justarius Eres the Emperor of the Dominion of Vendaeros. There was a bitter dispute against this in the House of Lords, but the influence of House Rhudeus convinced the undecided noble families that this was the correct course of action. A growing discontent in several colonies and the new discovery of the Necromancy embracing land of Velkaria, encouraged support for the cause.
For his support, Aryn Rhudeus was named the Lord High Marshal of the military. The newly anointed Emperor’s first act was to draft the Mandate of Legitimate Sovereignty. This document declared the right of Vendaeros to bring the enlightenment of the Dominion to all of the inhabitants of Eldross. Furthermore, it labeled Vendaeros as the Stewards of Eldross till such a time as the High King of Chrossus returned (which many thought was to be never) and gave the Emperor and Lord High Marshal authority to use the military to “ensure peace and dominion” of Vendaeros throughout the realm. Never before had Vendaeros taken such an aggressive stance when dealing with those in the world below and it spoke to a new era of Vendaeros politics, one where the harmony of peace was replaced by the dissonance of war.
The March of War
The new policies of the Dominion of Vendaeros did not sit well with most in Eldross, many of whom were already chafing under Vendaeros rule. As the Vendaeros war machine continued its campaign towards the Lord High Marshal’s true goal, Velkaria, many of its colonies and cities below grew more and more dissatisfied with Vendaeros rule and some went into open rebellion. This was a huge distraction to the Emperor, who was also concentrating on invading Velkaria. Time passed and harsh measures were enacted against those showing disobedience, which only fueled the flames of discord. At home there was internal strife as some of the dissenting lords who spoke out against the war were imprisoned and silenced. These only caused resentment to grow against the war. Even the Luminous Maiden spoke out against it, and as a result the City of Bourtaigne was closed by the Emperor, an unthinkable act. The closer that the Vendaerosians came to achieving their goal, the further from the tenants of Astra they seemed to be.
The All Souls War
The conquest of Velkaria seemed as though it would not be as difficult as originally thought. While the lands were harsh, inhospitable and unforgeable for invading armies, any organized resistance was quickly swept aside. Even cities they came across were no threat against the overwhelming superior forces that Vendaeros brought to bear. There seemed to be very little coordination between Velkarian forces, who attempted to engage the Dominion forces piecemeal. While some of the Umbra tainted lords were individually powerful, they were no match for a disciplined force. This proved to be the case the further into Velkaria the Vendaerosians pushed, until eventually they were outside the main capital, Undryn.
There seemed only one major concern; even though the Vendaeros forces had not encountered strong military opposition, a plague was running rampant through their ranks. There were complaints of fatigue and weakness by most native Vendaerosians. It was surmised that the deeper they went into these Umbra tainted lands, the weaker their Astra magic became. Still, the final battle was nigh, and even the Emperor came to join his Lord High Marshal in crushing the Velkarian opposition and assaulting the capital city.
The Battle of Splintered Dreams
The Velkarians had been pushed back until they had no other place to go, or at least this is what the Vendaerosians thought. The truth was, while Vendaeros’s strength was in the sky, Velkaria’s was under the ground itself. In Undryn the forces that were shown in the city were not the full might of Velkaria; that lay in the undercity of Undryn, and like the proverbial floodgates that opened, the forces of Vendaeros found themselves outnumbered and under siege by the nightmares that poured forth. At the same time, the ground forces outside the city faced another horde as undead rose from shallow graves and attacked the already beleaguered troops. To make matters worse, the Emperor’s Airship and his entire entourage went missing, leaving the Vendaeros forces with stricken morale. As more and more powerful Velkarian Lords entered the fray, it soon became evident that the day would not be won. Only the might of the Vendaerosian Navy kept the battle from becoming a wholesale slaughter. As it was, only a third of the original Vendaerose force made it home, a catastrophic loss for the once mighty and most feared military in the world.
Once their abandonment of the All Souls War, most of the military was in shambles, and the territories gained in the last 100 years all but lost. In the midst of these despairing times came an unexpected hope. Though long thought lost, the people of Chrossus returned, sending emissaries to Vendaeros. They had much to tell about a world beyond the maelstrom, and let it be known that they no longer claimed rule to the world. Instead they would recognize the sovereignty of Vendaroes and any other nation that wished to rule itself, allowing the paradyn philosophies of each nation to guide its rulers. They advised that Vendaeros set aside its conquest of the world and recognize the independence of each land.
Soon after, House Osmiere won support in the House of Lords, presenting a more harmonious approach to dealing with other nations and cultures. Osmiere became the ascendant family and Lord Theobold Osmiere became the Lord High Protector, the old title being resurrected after the Emperor went missing. His first course of action was repealing the Mandate of Legitimate Sovereignty. Insead the Dominion of Vendaeros would address the wrongs of the past and go forward seeking to only rule Vendaeros itself. In the 44 years since the All Souls War and period of colonialism, Vendaeros has shared its bounty and embarked on missions of charity and mercy around the world. They have sent their best Astra healers to the courts of other sovereign nations to promote good will. Their Questing Knights travel the lands, sent by the Luminous Maiden to be in the service of those who need help. The military is still strong, but kept mostly as a peace keeping force and has also come to the aid of other realms. Ironically, in losing the biggest battle they ever fought, the soul of Vendaeros was actually saved.