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BELLAYNE (Kingdom of)

Location: East of Herath and Shazak, West of Renardie. SC

Area: Approx. 25,000 sq. mi. (64,750 sq. km.).

Population: Approx. 475,000 (roughly 75% rakasta, with some dwarves and humans concentrated mainly in the north).

Languages: Rakastayne (official), Slag (Savage Coast trade tongue).

Coinage: Crown (5 gp), pound sterling (gp), quid (ep), shilling (sp), penny (cp).

Taxes: An income tax of 20% is paid by every subject, plus a 10% sales tax on all items considered to be luxuries (i.e. not food, clothing, or cinnabryl).

Government Type: Monarchy advised by a parliament made up of elected commoners and the Bellaynish nobility.

Industries: Coal mining, wool, tea, fishing, metal working, news, liquor.

Important Figures: James II (King of Bellayne, Son of Queen Catherine I, rakasta, male, F5 Noble), Humphrey the Exalted (Archbishop of Kittings, rakasta, male, Pr14 of Belbion), Marston the Just (Archbishop of Leominster, rakasta, male, Pr14 of Pax Bellanica), Perceval the Iron Clawed (Duke of Pawcester, rakasta, male, F10 Noble), Mortimer the Defiant (Earl of Penwick, rakasta, male, F11 Noble), Rodney the Intrepid (Earl of Theeds, rakasta, male, F13 Noble), Meghan the Gaunt (Viscountess of Furfield, rakasta, female, F8 Honourbound), Francis Blythe-Jackson (Leader of the Wyndham Party in the House of Commons, rakasta, male, T5 Local Hero), Benjamin Treeby (Leader of the Royal Party in the House of Commons, rakasta, male, F6 Honourbound), Mewsbury Fitzbagpuss (Knight of the Bath, Guild Master, rakasta, male, T13 Swashbuckler).

Flora and Fauna: Bellayne shows the marks of five hundred years of civilisation, and so until recently was relatively devoid of interesting creatures. More recently nearly successful goblinoid invasions have led to groups of goblinoids roaming the northern fringes of Bellayne, while the Red Curse has spawned a number of degenerate beasts. Creatures commonly found in Bellayne include animal herds (sheep, cows), bears, wolves, boars, giant rats, giant weasels, feliquines, various goblinoids and dragons. Being a relatively temperate land, Bellayne hosts a wide variety of deciduous trees (including oak, birch, and yew) and various types of shrubbery; the kingdom is well known for its roses, and some aristocrats have been known to spend vast sums of money to cultivate the most expansive and luxurious rose gardens.

Further Reading: Red Steel boxed set, previous almanacs.

Description by Marina Takanitas.

For this year's contributions to the almanac (thankfully far away from Mivosia for the most part!), my journeys took me to the western reaches of Brun. When I heard that I would be going to Bellayne, I thought I would faint! The stories one hears of the place! It always rains. The people are insufferably stuffy and rigid. The food is terrible and bland. The list goes on. Fortunately, my experiences in this kingdom have proven many of the rumours to be just that-false. The Bellaynish, however, have nothing to teach the Kastelians about seafood, but I digress...

The Land

Bellayne is a small but heavily populated kingdom, forming the westernmost of the kingdoms of the central Savage Coast. The countryside consists of a mixture of rolling hills, open grasslands and forests, blanked by farms and dotted with settlements ranging from tiny hamlets to fairly sizeable cities.

The People

The native rakasta of Bellayne form a curious double society-nomadic rakasta who range throughout the kingdom and the Yazak Steppes to the north preserve the traditional rakasta culture, shared with other rakasta in the rest of Mystara and beyond, while the city and town dwellers have borrowed the culture of a race of humans who once lived in the area now covered by Bellayne. In recent years there has been some tension between the two factions as the ever-expanding settlements force the nomads to range further north into goblinoid territory.

Present day Bellayne has a feudal system of government, as well as a fine system of justice and law. But this is somewhat misleading, as even the city moggies remain warriors at heart-they have simply managed to gain control over their emotions.

Recent History

The rakasta of Bellayne, like the lupins of neighbouring Renardie, were pushed out of the northern wilderness towards the coast by the goblinoids of the steppes. Here the rakasta discovered Bellayne, a nation of mostly humans with some dwarves and elves who were just beginning to develop a system of national laws and justice. Some rakasta settled here while most remained wanderers-not long after most of the humans and many demihumans were slain by a mysterious plague. Those that remained invited the rakasta into Bellayne, which began the modern history of the kingdom.

While the kingdom has had some perilous times in the past, the strong warrior tradition of the rakasta have kept the goblinoids at bay, while a disciplined and loyal citizenry have enabled the kingdom to prosper. Lupins and rakasta competed in the past for territory, and this has caused a certain degree of suspicion and rivalry between the two peoples. However they are in the main united against the common threat of the northern goblinoids-and in the years of peace rakasta have developed a taste for fine Renardois wines, while the lupins have come to appreciate Bellaynish wool, tea and liquor.

The Kingdom of Bellayne only recently gained a new monarch, King James II. James makes no secret of his longings to make Bellayne more traditional, in the vein of what he sees to be true rakasta culture, and has succeeded in irritating his parliament to the point which there have been clashes of arms. Is this the opening shot of a civil war, or will James succeed in cooling the situation?

Don't Miss

The capital city of Leominster (pop. 30,300, mostly rakasta, many elves, some humans, demihumans and tortles) contains the headquarters of many companies of honourbound, as well as the famed heralds of Bellayne. These illustrious bards provide the traditional Bellaynish entertainment-they gather information and relay it to the common people, often using illusions and magic. The heraldic guilds are so eager to find news that they will often organise spectacular events or send some of their best adventurers on amazing quests around the world. The guilds also write colourful manuscripts detailing their stories and sell them to the nobility in Bellayne and elsewhere. Different guilds have different styles of work; for example, the Company of the Times consider themselves defenders of the public right to be informed, while the Company of the Sun members search for secrets and share them with the guild, selling them for a price and perhaps seeking favours by letting involved parties know that the information has leaked. Needless to say, such activities ensure that the politics of Bellayne are particularly lively. Heralds all carry writs of identification or even a guild uniform, and enjoy certain privileges under Bellaynish law.

The word of the monarch of Bellayne is considered law, but the monarch works with both a council of nobles and religious leaders, and a council of rakasta elected from the common people. There is a strong code of national laws, but the various dominions of Bellayne are responsible for the enforcement of those laws. This is, of course, not nearly as egalitarian as the Kastelian political system, but I suppose what works for the locals is good enough.

Other areas of note include the port city of Theeds, home of the Bellaynish navy as well as the Royal University of Theeds; the city of Norchester, which is populated mainly by dwarven coal miners; and the Forest Marches of Wyndham, which form the westernmost border of the kingdom, and are home to various longbow-equipped bandits who have in the past repeatedly revolted against the monarch's autocratic rule. Wyndham is thought of as a dangerous bandit haven by the common Bellaynish folk.

Do Miss

As mentioned above, the main place I suggest you avoid in Bellayne is the area surrounding the Forest Marches of Wyndham, but more specifically the western reaches, where it borders the Bayou (where lizard-kin live, or so I am told), and the dark forests of Herath.