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Alpha (Kingdom of)

Location: Known World, continent of Brun, northeastern reaches, area of Norwold.
Area: 9,478 sq. mi.
Population: 90,000, including 2,000 halflings.
Languages: Alphatian (official), Elvish (Shiye-Lawr dialect), Halfling (Lalor dialect), Heldannic, Thyatian.
Coinage: Alphatian Standard: Crown (gp), mirror (sp), judge (cp). Coins of many other nations are in common circulation here.
Taxes: 20% income tax, collected yearly.
Government Type: Independent monarchy part of the New Alphatian Empire.
Industries: Agriculture (grows barely enough for its own use), fishing, logging, mining, and trapping.
Important Figures: King Ericall (Human, male, F20)
Flora and Fauna: Alpha features the plants and animals one expects of the northern wilderness. The Peninsula claimed by Alpha is devoid of monsters thanks to the Regent Pass, but cold-climate creatures (such as snow apes, white dragons, frost giants, frost salamanders, and sasquatches) fill the rest of Norwold, as well as several scattered goblinoid tribes.

Description: by Alasdhair MacCallum

After the long trek through the Icereach Range, I was glad to finally make it back to civilisation here in the city of Alpha. [Ed. Note: Alasdhair writes his articles to us in chronological order, yet in the Almanac, we placed them in alphabetical order. For details on why he was in the Icereach Range, read his article on the Arch of Fire.] Having decided to take a boat back home instead of walking, well, for the majority of the trip anyway, the ports of Alpha became the logical choice as my next stop.

Alpha is blocked off from the inland by a large, rugged stretch of mountains that cut off the entire peninsula at the neck. There is only one way through these mountains; a small, twisting path known as Regent Pass. This narrow gap is guarded by a fortress garrisoned with an entire unit of the King's Guard.

The Land

From atop the hills of Regent Pass, the splendid deep-water port of the city is easily visible, with ships from around the world docked in its large harbour. Numerous fishing boats can also be seen scattered throughout the Great Bay. The city itself appears to be one huge castle or fortress, with several layers of high walls surrounding the city like various layers of an onion.

Atop a large hill in the centre of the fortified area lies one of the largest palaces I have ever seen. There must be at least a dozen huge buildings all interconnected to each other with arches and bridges and walls. Dozens of chimneys dot the rooftops of the palace, more than likely keeping the place comfortably warm during the cold winter nights here up north. Various small parks and woodlands can be seen within the palace grounds as well, suggesting that great care is taken to maintain its beauty and appearance. Still, despite the architectural decorations, the thick walls and several dozen towers clearly indicate that the main purpose of the palace is indeed defence.

The old section of the city has its own, central wall dotted with towers, ballistae, and catapults. This wall used to be the other wall of the long abandoned Thyatian fortress that once occupied this very area. A more recent wall, thicker and higher than the others, surrounds the rest of the city. All these overlapping walls and towers make the defences of the city a very formidable obstacle to any enemy. It must help the Alphans sleep well at night, knowing that they are well defended despite the Heldannic Knights being only several hundred miles away. The other sections of the city also have a larger than normal share of parks and trees compared to most modern cities of the Known World.

Besides the palace, two other buildings draw in the attention of any visitor to the area. The first is the Hardball Arena. This large marble structure was commissioned by King Ericall in AC 1007, in the hopes of drawing more people to Alpha. Unfortunately, with the destruction of Alphatia, the arena hasn't been as successful as he hoped. Still, there are a few games between minor local teams played here, and it's also used for various other social functions and reunions by the nobility and upper class who don't have access to the palace. On the bright side, it seems that there will indeed be a hardball season in AC 1014, so the local teams are training hard to see who will get to represent Alpha this year. Such "friendly" practice matches are very competitive and worth watching if one gets the chance.

The last structure of note is a temple dedicated to Zirchev. A large temple made out of strong and sturdy oak, this shrine stands just over three stories high. A large brass bell tops the tallest spire, which can be heard throughout the city. What makes the temple so beautiful is its sheer simplicity. There are no fancy decorations, extravagant use of gold or silver, or even tasteless statues used to Honor Immortals (Rad forbid anyone would want to anyway!). The only thing indicating that it is a house of Zirchev is a carving of his face just above the main double doors. It seems the Forest Immortal has gained quite a bit of popularity here in Alpha, and there are almost daily ceremonies held to Honor him. The high priest even has a choral of trained birds who "sing" the hymns during the prayers. Even I, who detests prayers and such religious nonsense, must admit that the presentation of the ceremony was marvellous. I would say one should disregard his religious beliefs (or lack thereof) for a brief moment and participate to at least one such ceremony, if just to see and listen to the show.

The land between the garrison at Regent Pass and the city of Alpha is almost completely converted into farmland, with just the occasional patch of evergreens here and there. The soil is rich in nutrients, apparently deposited by a glacier long ago, or so I've been told anyway. The farmers don't seem to care where it came from, just that it's there. Various natural lakes and small streams make sure that every farm has an adequate supply of fresh water.

The People

The inhabitants of Alpha are mostly Alphatian, although many of Heldannic and Thyatian ancestry are also very visible. The vast majority are happy to have a King Ericall to rule them, adding what they believe is a needed form of government and order to their lives.

Most are simple farmers or fishermen who do not have the typical Alphatian disdain of mundanes; those unable to use magic. Being removed from the former Alphatian mainland, magic did not become so mainstream in Alpha as to affect their lives very much. Alphans therefore have more or less the same ridiculous fear of the arcane as most peasants from around the Known World, besides Glantri, that is. Besides that, they are polite and welcome strangers eagerly in exchange for courtesy and the occasional stories about your travels. Most believe in minding their own business, do not interfere with your plans, and are content to simply do their work and not get involved in politics and "important" things.

There are three current major topics going around the taverns of Alpha. The first is the previously mentioned religious ceremony to Zirchev. Many people here are those who helped colonise the area or are their direct descendants. Alphans therefore have a greater respect for nature than most city-dwellers, as the numerous city parks and the wildlands in the area can attest to. I would say that Alpha could almost be called the City of Rangers and Foresters.

Another subject whispered every now and then concerns the encroaching Heldannic Knights to the south. The fall of Oceansend has caused even the most doubtful to believe that Alpha is next target of the Knights of Vanya. Despite the superb defences of the city, many are making plans on means of escape should the inevitable come to happen.

Finally, on a more joyful note, a certain Christina Marie Alanira is the third most talked about subject. I must admit, I have met this beautiful young lady (how I managed to attend such a high classed reception is another story!), and I cannot blame anyone for talking about her. It seems that this young daughter of a minor noble from Bellissaria has managed to catch the eye of King Ericall. Her own love of the outdoors and zest for life has allowed her to adjust rather well in Alpha, and earned her the respect of many of the nobles here. Needless to say, most rumours have to do with a royal wedding happening in the near future.

If such rumours are true, then I envy those lucky enough to receive invitations. The lands around Alpha is beautiful to behold, and the Grand Ballroom of the palace, where the ceremonies are sure to take place, is rumoured to be one of the architectural wonders of the Known World. I'm sure such a night will be one that would be impossible to forget.