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Kaarjala (Kingdom of)

by James Mishler

Location: Continent of Brun, northernmost Norwold, north of the Great Bay, between the Kaarjavi and Vaaranavi rivers.

Area: 63,206 sq. miles. Population: 150,000 settled humans plus 50,000 nomadic humans (on the average); demihuman population is negligible; Beastmen population is unknown, though relatively low in the patrolled areas.

Languages: Saamari (a language unrelated to any spoken in the Known World though distantly related to the Essurian language spoken in Denagoth; spoken in two dialects, Kaarjalan and Vaarana), Heldannic, Norse; some Alphatian.

Coinage: Markka (gp), Penni (sp), Oren (cp); coins of Alphan, Heldannic and Norse origins are also in common circulation here. Most of the economy is still based on barter, as coins cannot be eaten or wielded as weapons.

Government Type: Monarchy, with a strong and independent minded noble class.

Industries: Agriculture (grains and potatoes; production is high due to the Great Saampo, an artifact held by the King of Kaarjala), dairy, fishing, logging and trapping. The nomadic Vaarana rely on the herds of reindeer during the winter months and farm ancestral lands in Kaarjala during the summer.

Description: Kaarjala consists of a wide swath of verdant fields and forests on the high ground between the swampy, lake strewn valleys of the Kaarjavi and Vaaranavi rivers. While the land is set dead centre on the Arctic Circle, the climate between the two rivers is much more like that further to the south; cool and moist in the spring and autumn, muggy in the short summers, and dry and chilly in the long winters. The Kaarjalan people are the Saamari, a group descended from a mixed tribe of Oltec and Neathar peoples from the west. The Saamari have a long tradition of the Heroic Warrior, and the royal family and many nobles claim descent from ancient heroes of legend. The realm is ruled by an hereditary king, though his power is usually only as strong as his personality; his function is primarily ritual in nature, as he is the Keeper of the Great Saampo, the ancient relic of the Saamari peoples.

The Kaarjalans primarily revere three Immortal Heroes, all of which were Great Heroes of Saamari legend. They are Vainamoinen, the founder of the kingdom as well as the Great Leader who led the Saamari out of the west; Ilmarinen; the Great Smith who constructed the Great Saampo; and Lemminkainen, who was the Great Wanderer of the Wastes; all three led the battle against Lovaara of Pojaara and her minions. The Church of Kaarjala reveres all three of these Immortal Heroes as well as the Ancient Ones (older Immortals who were the patrons of the Great Heroes and the Saamari during the elder days) and the Exalted Heroes (heroes from ancient days who did not attain Immortality, but were made into Exalted level associates of their respective Immortal Patrons). The Vaarana still revere the Ancient Ones as well as the Spirits of Animals, Plants and Elements; they have Priestly Shamans as well as Sorcerous (Wizardous) Shamans. There are also the Druids of the Circle of Kaarjala, who work with both the Vaarana as well as the Kaarjalans; they revere The Mother (Djaea) and are "led" by Her Son, Taapio and his wife Mielikki (Exalted level entities who reside in the forests south and west of Kaarjala). There is another Exalted level being directly involved with Kaarjala; an entity known as the Lord of the Yuletide; Saanto Klaas, who visits children on special holidays and leaves gifts (he is said to be allied with certain clans of Elves, Gnomes and Faeries who make his special, magical toys).

As regards Wizardry, Kaarjalan Wizards mostly learn their magic as apprentices to the local Hedge Wizard or Wise Woman, though the king and his Maga, inspired by the success of Uppsala College at Norrvik, have considered founding their own School of Magecraft. It was around the time of the Battle of White Bear River that several groups of peaceful Alphatian Wizards began to settle in these lands; they were assimilated into the general population and shared their knowledge with Saamari Wizards and their apprentices. It is from their influence that the more modern aspects of Kaarjalan Wizardry originate, though aspects of the Shamanic Wizardry practiced by the Vaarana still are found in some areas (a Kaarjalan Wizard is, in fact, more likely to use a Drum rather than a Wand as his focus).

Notable Sites: The capital "city" of Kaarjala is Kaarja, the only town of any notable size north of the Great Bay (pop. 12,000); it is found in the exact centre of the kingdom. The town is centred on the Great Citadel, where the king holds court. Here, in an open steeple on the highest tower of the Great Citadel, is found the Great Saampo, a mighty artifact in the shape of the sun. Deactivated, it is about 3 inches in diameter and unremarkable, appearing as burnished bronze covered in tiny black runes. When activated, it transforms into a golden sphere approximately three foot in diameter. It levitates at about seven feet above the ground and glows as a continual light spell with a radius of 300'; visible, of course, from anywhere within the horizon.

The Great Saampo was constructed by the Kaarjalan legendary hero Ilmarinen, and brought by Vainamoinen on the long journey from the west (see History, below). The Great Saampo ensures that the entire kingdom will enjoy a beneficial climate as well as abundant harvests. There are many other powers available through the Great Sampo, but these can only be used by those who know the magical runes or rhymes that will activate them (many, but not all are known by the king and princes; some others have come to know the words of power over the centuries). The Great Saampo has been known to: Call down the Great Aurora, which burns creatures of the night as though it were daylight; Create Gold; Raise the Dead; and, in times of extreme distress, it can be called upon to act as the sun (full daylight throughout the kingdom; only Great Heroes may activate this power, and for no longer than seven weeks of seven days in any one century). Some powers are available only when in the "active" state; others can be used while "deactivated".

History: The Kaarjalan Saamari peoples migrated from the west to the land between the rivers in the early 1st century AC, fleeing from the tyranny of Lovaara, the Witch Queen of Pojaara. They were led by the legendary hero Vainamoinen, who remained with the Saamari for over a century before continuing on his quest for Immortality. The Kingdom of Kaarjala was founded to maintain unity between the various Saamari clans (which formed the nucleus for the modern districts). The King of Kaarjala is the hereditary holder of the Great Saampo, entrusted to the royal family by Vainamoinen himself (who was, in fact, the grandfather of the first Kaarjalan king, Taavi Kaalevinen).

The Kingdom of Kaarjala existed peacefully until the mid 6th century, when the Vaarana Saamari, cousins to the Kaarjalans, fled into the region following a major series of defeats at the hands of Lovaara and the Pojaarans. The Kaarjalan Saamari and the Vaarana united with the Elves, Dwarves and Halflings of the region to defeat the invasion of the Pojaarans and their Hiisi (Beastmen) allies at the Battle of White Bear River in 640 AC. The Vaarana then returned to their nomadic life, wandering the northlands, centred on the warm lands between the rivers. Since that time there have been no great threats to Kaarjalan sovereignty or to the Vaarana until the last century, when the Thyatians founded Oceansend and the Alphatians founded Alpha; relations have been strained between the several nations, though violence has been kept at a minimum (which is still significant in the Frontier of the north).

Important Figures: Kaarlo Taavinen (King); Rikka Kaalwa (King's Maga); Vaalkoi Taapionen (Great Druid of the Kaarjalan Circle); Pekka Seppanen (High Priest of the Church of Kaarjala; Grand Smith of Ilmarinen).

Flora and Fauna: Kaarjala itself is unusual in that it has a rather more temperate climate than is the norm for this region; thus, creatures of a more southerly nature can be found in the land between the rivers. Domesticated animals include shaggy cattle, horses (ponies, mostly), dogs, cats and ferrets. Outside the region protected by the Great Saampo, of course, nature reigns, and the northlands are very, very cold. Creatures native to the region include moose, elk, bears, wolves, etc. It is also home to every sort of monstrous creature native to the arctic and subarctic: snow apes, white dragons, frost giants, frost salamanders, etc. There are also large numbers of nomadic Beastmen clans and tribes.