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EMEROND (Kingdom of)
Location: Jungle Coast, continent of Davania, southwest of the Thyatian Hinterlands. DV
Area: 67,500 sq. mi. (174,825 sq. km.).
Languages: Emerondian (a language not related to any other spoken on Mystara).
Taxes: None. Emerondians have a vague notion of private property and share freely with one another.
Government Type: Dynastic monarchy (loosely organized city-states under one monarch).
Industries: Farming, gathering.
Important Figures: Jerem Rhody (King), Pikkolu (Forest Protector), Dendeh (Sun Protector), Kamesama (Earth Protector).
Flora and Fauna: Emerond is a forested land west of the Thyatian Hinterlands. The kingdom has literally been "grown" into the jungle for there are few clearings and no serious attempt at large-scale clearing has ever been made. Many types of plants grow in the region, from sub-tropical species native to the region to more alien versions of common trees and bushes, directly imported from the ancestral home planet of the Emerondians. Some of these plants are able to modify their external structure and possess a rough form of intelligence and instincts. The common fauna encountered in the region include jungle creatures such as panthers, jaguars and other great felines, all varieties of tropical snakes, displacer beasts, and some lizards and amphibious creatures. Near the Emerondian settlements, insect-like creatures descended from pets brought to Mystara by the Emerondians (use statistics for giant insects but alter the creatures' appearance). Treants and gakaraks can also be found here and they are on friendly terms with the Emerondians. Other plant-like beings can be found here too, both dangerous and benign ones.
Further Reading: Previous almanacs.
Description by Shaun the Elfin.
Oh yes, I remember the land of Emerond very well. A fascinating place, very similar in its untamed beauty to my beloved Forest of Canolbarth, though a thousand times more enthralling and mysterious, especially for the uniqueness of its flora. I had the opportunity to visit it and meet some of its inhabitants many years ago, while adventuring in that region with a group of friends looking for a lost treasure. On our trip back to the Hinterlands we met none other than Pikkolu, who shared with us his knowledge of the Kingdom of Emerond and of the Forbidden City (which we had just explored). I stayed there for over one month, talking with Pikkolu and witnessing the marvels of the jungle, and now it's time to share this knowledge with you.
Emerond is a living kingdom, this is what really differentiates it from other countries. Its land is a living entity and it's one with its inhabitants: there could be no Emerond without the Emerondians and vice versa. This might seem an obvious statement, but it is not, believe me. If the ecosystem is in good condition and the forest thrives, the Emerondians too share their land's health and happiness as if it radiated from the soil and the leaves of the plants. Everywhere you go in Emerond you will only see green lush plants and sparkling streams, healthy animals and tasty fruits, weird creatures and cosy hidden glades. It's a veritable paradise for us sylvan creatures, but I must say that it could seem a bit too wild from the human point of view. Any dwarf would surely get sick of the landscape after a couple of days (as I've witnessed myself). But do not get me wrong, Emerond is not a savage natural park. Emerondians have got settlements that can be compared to those of humans and elves, even though they don't build them using the tools and knowledge of the common peoples of Mystara. Their cities are living: all is made of wood, which grows leaves and flowers and even fruits in spring and summertime. They grow special trees and plants that continue to live even after they chop them to create their houses; this way they can practically change the aspect of their homes yearly, during the period of the Change, when the house reacts to the mental commands of its inhabitants. Their cities are built on different levels, both on solid ground and on higher levels inside and outside these special trees. Each district of the city is connected via bridges and elevators or even through the use of special animals that come and go from specific places in the city, each one controlled by a rider as if it was a caravan or a flying ship.
Every Emerondian city however (no matter how small it is) has three basic features: the Temple of the Holy Protectors, the Common Well and the Light Dome. The temple is simply the place where the Emerondians perform their weekly religious ceremonies to praise the Land, the Forest and the Sun. They are what makes them live on every day, and so they feel the need to pay tribute to these elements (which are considered intelligent entities) through worship. The Common Well is held as sacred as the temple, for it provides the water so essential to the Emerondians' survival. The well is normally guarded at all times by a group of soldiers and only Emerondians can use it. Normally the common water is then mixed with some aromatic substances or other spices to obtain different flavours. Finally, the Light Dome is a complicated net of glass lenses placed in the branches of the tree that reflect the sun rays inside and below the trees, so that the Emerondians can get access to them without particular problems. The sun is vital to them, so they must be sure to bathe in the sun's rays daily if they want to regenerate their strength.
Emerondians use giant insects as vehicles: giant bugs resembling horses (but they can even climb vertical walls), hornets and butterflies for faster movement, and worms for digging holes underground. These insects comprise both the normal species commonly found on Mystara, which the Emerondians tame and train, and unique insect-like creatures originally imported from their lost world. These creatures come in different shapes and have different abilities, but all share an emphatic link with their rider and are more intelligent than common insects. They have also a more menacing appearance, with spikes and thorns protruding from their carapace. These creatures are created and tended in special enclaves administered by druids, where the Emerondians' cattle also live.
From the political point of view, Emerond is formally a kingdom ruled by a dynasty (a single family that holds political power). The kingdom is based on a loose alliance of city-states that are normally independent from one another and even from the king. The king himself has absolute power only in case of war or of natural calamity (situations where the ecology of the kingdom is threatened). Otherwise he limits his influence to coordinating among the various cities for purposes of trade and cultivating the jungle. Each city-state has its own rules and political bodies, but all must obey to the first and foremost rule: Never Harm the Forest.
There are three other important figures besides the king and each city-state governor: the holy protectors. These three individuals are the high priests of the three deities commonly worshipped in Emerond: the Forest (Ordana), the Sun (Ixion) and the Earth (Terra). All Emerondians, regardless of their status or occupation, recognise the authority of the holy protectors, who act as heralds of the deities' will. Each one is chosen during a ritual that is celebrated after the death of the old protector and they are always considered blessed by the deity they represent. Nobody questions their judgments or advice, but they don't often meddle with political issues, except when they are so asked by other important figures or when the deity orders it. When somebody becomes a holy protector, his real identity is (symbolically) erased from the memory of the community during a ritual and he becomes known only by his title; this way, he becomes one with the other precedent protectors. The forest protector is called Pikkolu (pron.: pEEk-ko-lou), the sun protector is called Dendeh (pron.: den-deh) and the earth protector is called Kamesama (pron.: kah-me-sAH-mah).
Emerond is a kingdom ruled by creatures who look like elves, but are slightly taller, green-skinned and silver-haired. Emerondians are plant-like creatures. They have a chlorophyll-like substance that acts as their blood and has many properties of other bodily fluids. They have a few internal organs used to produce their blood by altering other fluids they ingest (primarily water), to digest the foods and to reproduce. Their skin and muscles have a special feature: they're extremely elastic. Emerondians can actually extend their limbs for many feet long using them normally without loss of sensitivity. They normally drink water (in taverns it's served with some salt or aromatic substances) to replenish their inner fluids and they need much greater quantities than humans do (three times more). The Emerondians use the energy of the sun to produce the inner chemical reaction that transforms outer fluids into blood, much like plants, and only the mature and sane individuals are able to operate this process even at night. Normally the babies and weak old people are totally inactive at night, resting in a cataleptic state to avoid consuming precious energies. Others guard those people to protect them, helped by beasts bred from special plants. Emerondians eat only vegetables, roots and fruits, and cannot tolerate meat of any kind: their metabolism cannot digest it.
The Emerondians reproduce much as humans do: the male impregnates the female, who then act as a host and nurtures the baby inside her womb. The female normally keeps the baby inside her body for a season (4 months), then during a special ceremony the male opens the belly of his partner by cutting the skin and extracts a small seed-like organism the size of a fist. He then attaches the tentacle the seed-organism has to his nipple and places the seed inside a special "marsupial pouch" he has formed on his belly during the four months. For the next season (another four months) he will nurture the creature through his nipple and at the end of the period the couple will open the seed by breaking its shell, finally revealing the baby.
Emerondians have always tended the forest and protected it from the first time they settled in the Jungle Coast. They are so deeply linked with their ecosystem that they couldn't bear losing it or seeing it damaged. They love their land more than anyone else on this planet, I believe, and their sense of duty towards the land exceeds even that of the elves. In fact, they have much in common with the elven race, as much as with the other sylvan races: they live in the jungle gathering the fruits it produces and cultivating small orchards where they grow special vegetables derived from their homeworld. Theirs is a society of farmers and gatherers: they don't normally hunt for food.
The Emerondians have basically only a small set of ethical common laws, since each city-state settles local rules on its own, but every Emerondian obeys the First Law: Never Harm the Forest. Whoever is found guilty of this crime is immediately expelled from the Emerondian society (if he belongs to it) and abandoned alone in the jungle to face the Forest's Judgment, for it is the forest that is the highest power in Emerond. Foreigners who commit sins against the forest are sentenced to the Forbidden Territories instead of being delivered to the forest, because they are considered filthy and would poison it. The Forbidden Territories are, according to the legend, the land where the first generation of Emerondians (Pyrithians) lived when they arrived in Davania. But after some mysterious incident, they were forced to abandon those lands and re-settled west of them. The foreigners are brought to the Hills of Desolation or to the Forbidden City where they will face their punishment, apparently delivered by some ancient evil. So far, none of the foreigners who have been brought there ever returned to Emerond.
Emerond was founded many centuries ago by descendants of the first Pyrithians who came to Mystara after leaving their world, which was on the verge of destruction. The first settlers founded the city of Pyris east of the current kingdom of Emerond and they lived in that part of the forest for several decades, until disaster struck. Legend has it that the last ruler of Pyris sinned against Nature and the Land, for she wanted to use the Land for her own goals instead of serving Nature, and so she was cursed by the holy protectors. The protectors then, foreseeing the impending doom over the city, led the population westwards, where they crowned the new king, one of the nephews of the former ruler, and founded Emerond, cutting all ties with the other Pyrithians. As to what befell those who remained in Pyris, this is a mystery. Apparently, some weeks after the great majority of the people had left, the jungle around Pyris died and the land turned into a barren rocky desert, while the city itself was found empty and abandoned, without any signs of struggle or fight having occurred inside.
Emerond has always been a peaceful nation that never had any particular problems with the nearby tribes of Hinterlanders, nor from other humanoids that live in the region. This is mainly due to the fact that they are masters of combat in the jungle and their neighbours have learned their lesson already. Also, the Emerondians rely on their powerful mounts and other war-insects that have proven far superior to any other standard mount so far, so they are fairly safe inside their territory. Thyatis hadn't discovered its existence before mainly because it never ventured so far to the south or west (they still have problems keeping their Hinterlanders in line), but one never knows what the future will bring. One thing is for sure: if the Thyatians start a war to conquer Emerond, I don't think they will have an easy war like that waged on the Hinterlanders this time.
Well, I haven't visited the capital city of Izmira, but Pikkolu told me that it's a model of Emerondian architecture and perfection, so I think it should be worth a visit if any of you ever manage to get that far. I myself have seen only one specific site that really deserves a visit (besides the whole region, of course): the Tree of Knowledge. This is one of the holy places of Emerond and it's directly guarded by Pikkolu (each holy protector guards similar holy places as a duty). It consists of a big tree created by the magic of Pikkolu (I suspect the first Pikkolu) which contains all the tomes and parchments pertaining the history of Emerond and of their Pyrithian ancestors, including the methods for creating their insect-like beasts and the living plants, plus other obscure spells and unknown farming techniques. The tree is just a normal one from the outside, but Pikkolu has the power to open it using a magical key, revealing its wondrous contents which occupy a greater volume than that of the tree (so magic is obviously at work here). We were really lucky to have the honour of visiting it and reading some of its books, though I frankly admit I wouldn't be able to discover its location now. Some of the other holy places Pikkolu mentioned included the Cave of Magic, the Lake of Time and the Field of Dreams.
I speak firsthand here: never ever venture in the Forbidden City if you don't want to risk your soul. The city has a name, but it's known only by the holy protectors and not spoken out of fear of attracting the attention of evil forces. We discovered it by reading an ancient parchment and some inscriptions found inside the city: Pyris. It is basically a deserted city made of a strange resilient stone-like material (petrified wood according to Pikkolu), with buildings made of one to even five stories, many of them collapsed and in bad condition. The city covers a two-mile radius and is surrounded by high walls that have collapsed with time at more than one point. At its centre stands the Temple of the Holy Protectors, a pyramid about fifty feet high. The strange fact is that this city lies in the middle of a rocky desert, and the feeling you get when you roam around its streets is one of utter loneliness and aridity, dryness. Nothing similar to the sensation of decay and rotting flesh you get while exploring a lost graveyard or the slums of Thyatis City, quite the contrary. Everything here is so sterile and clean in its abandon: there are not even the remains of its former inhabitants, those who weren't so lucky or so wise to leave it before it was too late. And then there is the sensation that somebody's watching you all the time, trying to bring you towards the pyramid. This way we entered it: chasing a shadow that was seemingly spying on us. The map and the inscriptions told us that a great treasure was hidden inside the pyramid, so we explored it, and we encountered many traps and strange forces that wanted to stop us from going on. And not all of them were evil. What lies in the pyramid must not be disturbed, this is what I learned from our experience, or we risk unleashing in the world that which has caused the fall of a city like Pyris.
The Hills of Desolation are the second place I'd avoid if I were you. Indeed, we were able to avoid travelling in that region, and after hearing Pikkolu's tales I can only thank our guide for choosing another path. Dragons, evil and ferocious humanoids (orcs and trolls in particular) and other serpent-like abominations ply these lands, apparently guarding some mysterious lair or secret that has been forgotten by all except dragonkind. Even Pikkolu couldn't tell us much more for he himself hadn't ventured so far in his voyages, but I think that if a man so powerful as him has never found the time to explore that region, then I am sure I won't have the time to do it even in a thousand years...