The Dry Season
The Five Nations of the Elves
The elves are divided into numerous nations, but while many smaller republics have risen or fallen over the centuries, only five have lasted for long. Three can trace their routes back to the beginning of recorded history in the islands, one splintered from the Celestial Kingdom after a long period under Orcish rule, and the fifth was established by powerful sorcerers from wealthy families tired of pointless internal squabbles.
The Republic of Talaris, located on the largest of the elven isles, claims descent from the warlord Talar, the great populist, who instituted the first elven republic and created the system on which all the other republics are based. The other republics do not dispute this point; they simply find Talaris’ insistence on keeping everything exactly as it was when the republic was first instituted backwards and foolish. Talaris is less efficient, less advanced and socially stagnant – but sheer numbers and their available resources have kept them relevant.
Easternmost of the elven republics, Sido is nearest to both the central island and the territory of the Celestial Kingdom. They broke away from orcish rule almost four hundred years ago, but their architecture, highly organized bureaucracy and more rigid social structure all still reflect colonial influence. Sido is a wild card in Orc-Elf relations, as likely to side with the Celestial Kingdom as the other republics, since both are equally unlikely to have Sido’s best interests in mind.
The republic of Mekriti is home to the most militaristic of the elves. Descended from Makara, a mighty warrior and brilliant strategist, their military is large, well-drilled and well-equipped, and would be a grave threat to orcish dominance if they were not the furthest of the republics from the Celestial Kingdom – and if the other republics were not so afraid of being conquered that they refuse to allow more than a few Mekriti warships in their airspace at any time.
Balteri, founded in the distant past by Balten, the elven merchant prince, is a wealthy trade republic. Situated in the centermost of the elven isles, it maintains a strong merchant marine and police force, but primarily relies on the other republics for real defense: None of the elven nations will willingly allow Orcish occupation of their neighbors, and if any of the other republics invaded Balteri, the others would naturally object to such an increase in their rival’s strength. Balteri politics is often a push-and-pull between those who believe this is a perfectly sustainable situation, and those who feel they must militarize before their neighbors simply decide to split the island between themselves.
The splinter republic, Varohai, sits on one of the many chunks of rock not large enough to be considered an ‘island’ by official cartographers. Nonetheless, the massive citadel that is home to the sorcerous academy known as the Dianata is recognized as a full republic, and hires out the services of its cadres of highly trained combat spellcasters in exchange for food, wealth and goods from the other nations – though they are equally content in times of peace, when their leaders make puppets of the smaller republics or raid the catacomb cities for resources. Varohai is a powerfully destabilizing force throughout the islands, and has only lasted this long because nobody particularly wants to assault a floating fortress full of powerful mages without enough space to spare to land serious siege forces.