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PANTERIA (Marquisate of)
Location: Continent of Brun, northeast of Leeha, on the northern coast of the Great Bay. NW
Area: 2,494 sq. mi. (6,460 sq. km.).
Population: 7,000, including 1,500 hin.
Languages: Alphatian, Thyatian, Heldannic, Lalor.
Coinage: Alphatian Standard: crown (gp), mirror (sp), judge (cp).
Taxes: Vary in nature and amount, averaging to 25% of income, collected regularly by the guilds. People not affiliated to the guilds do not pay taxes but generally cannot work either.
Government Type: Marquisate, member of the Kingdom of Alpha, member of the Norwold Confederacy. Any and all activities are supervised by the powerful guilds.
Industries: Trade, some crafting.
Important Figures: Celia (Marquise), Weston (Governor), Lucci Dhay (Dame and Headmaster of the Trade Guild, actually a spy from rival Causa Nostra).
Flora and Fauna: The uncultivated lands of the marquisate are sparsely covered by short grass and shrubs that can resist even the most frigid winters under several feet of snow. Hin cultivate snow tulips in their gardens, which appear to be dead plants during their eight months hibernation but blossom in the spring into beautiful flowers larger than hin hands. Snow crabs come ashore during the winter to mate, but crab-hunters are careful not to stumble on deadly frost salamanders for whom the ice-plated crabs are a delicacy. Deer, wolves and other woodland animals can be spotted during the harsh winters. On rare occasions, frost giants come this far south in their forays into human lands, but the marquise is generally warned of their approach by Zoltan's elves or by Duke Ney.
Coats of arms: Marquise Celia: Black panther lying at the foot of a white oak, background silver (top) and gold (bottom); Governor Weston: Two diagonally-crossed black daggers with four gold circles (one in each quadrant), red background; Marquisate of Panteria: Black panther head, silhouette of a white sphinx (bottom left), gold background; City of Panteria: Black panther head, four coppery ships (one in each corner), gold background; Town of Cape Westria: Black dagger (blade pointing up), four gold circles (left half), black panther head (right half, top), silhouette of a white sphinx (right half, bottom), red background; Panterian Guilds: Copper ship (heading right) with two silver waves below, black lion head (or specific symbol, by guild) (bottom), gold background.
Further Reading: CM1 Test of the Warlords, previous almanacs.
Description by Adik de Chevas and Arcadius.
Among the feudal dominions that dot the large expanses of Norwold, the Marquisate of Panteria is atypical-as much as are atypical all the dominions carved out of the wilderness by the heroes of various lands who answered King Ericall's call before the Great War. But what makes this dominion stand apart from all the others more than anything else is the mere fact that this profitable realm never parted from Alpha to gain sovereignty, even after the Sinking of Alphatia, like most others did. Of course, this isn't the lone peculiarity of this place.
The marquisate extends along the northwestern bays of the Great Bay, following the coastline and the milder plains a few miles into the interior to the edge of the great northern forests. A good part of these plains have been turned to farmlands yielding meagre harvests, while the rest remain wilderness.
King Ericall granted Celia a good stretch of land, probably because the marquise always remained loyal to the kingdom even in the direst times. Besides, the marquise's beauty and smooth talking certainly helped her build her dominion to its current size and status, not to mention her connections with the most influential nobility in Alpha and especially Oceansend. Also, the absorption of Sir Weston's barony gave her dominion a sudden boost in both size and population, which she rapidly took advantage of.
Officially, the marches encompass all the land situated along the bay from the port-city of Panteria in the east, to the town of Cape Westria in the west, extending 25 miles in the interior. However, nobody denies that the marquisate actually extends farther inland up to the fringes of the forest-the domain of the elves-which more often than not is farther away from the coast than the recognised 25 miles, sometimes even as much as 40 miles. Moreover, a vast area east of Panteria is dominated by the guilds from the marquisate and thus falls de facto under the direct influence of the marquise; it is largely expected that Celia will sooner or later lay claim to it.
Panteria is a prosperous port-city boasting 4,800 inhabitants. It is not walled and seems undefended, both from attacks by land or sea, and even unpatrolled, but my guess is that the guilds enforce the law invisibly, and could muster greater forces than would appear possible if the city was threatened in any way. Everything and everyone in the city looks and acts as if they had their own place in an orderly society and knew what they could do and what they couldn't, even where there is most trepidation, like on the marketplace. Here one can find products from various places in the world, including the rare elven wonders that are traded by the secretive Shiye or goods from the mostly-forgotten kingdoms of Kaarjala and Littonia, as well as mundane or exotic goods from around Nayce, the Old World, and even sometimes from Davania. Panteria's deep-water harbour was recently upgraded (during the occupation of Oceansend by the Heldannic Knights), and now rivals that of Alpha itself. There are always many ships anchored there, mostly vessels hailing from Oceansend and Minrothad [it seems Minrothaddan captains prefer to dock their ships here rather than in Alpha or Leeha. Arcadius.]. Panteria is also the only city in all of Norwold where you can change any foreign coins for Alphatian crowns or vice-versa-for a small fee, of course.
Cape Westria is a town of some 1,800 inhabitants, half of them hin. The town is surrounded by a wooden palisade dating back from the days of the independent barony. The town feels orderly just like Panteria, though there are rumours of some people working outside the ranks of the guilds. It is also whispered that Causa Nostra may have interests in the town and is fighting the influence of the guilds, and that the hin are actually colonising on behalf of Leeha [both rumours started right after the merging of the barony into Celia's dominion. Arcadius.]. The town is obviously less developed than Panteria, its port being used mainly for trade with the city rather than with the world at large. To tie the town to the marquisate as much as develop an alternate supply route, a road is being built between Panteria and Cape Westria.
The reason why Minrothad and Oceansend ships are so common here is trade agreements. With Oceansend there always was good relations, but then Panteria's deal became even more profitable because of the Heldannic Knights' takeover [basically, most trade was diverted from Oceansend to Panteria. Arcadius.]. With Minrothad, there is a guild-to-guild trade agreement standing. This agreement is profitable to both sides: Panteria, which doesn't have a large trade fleet, gains access to rare goods from faraway lands and increased traffic, and can also accept foreign coins for that reason; the Minrothaddans gain a good entry point to a big market (Norwold, and also Alphatia before it sank) where there previously was a big competitor instead (Alphatia itself), benefiting from special advantages (cheap anchoring fees, lighter bureaucratic procedures, reduced tariffs [which still works for within Nayce. Adik.]), guilds taking care of things for them. Minrothaddans are not forced to work with Panteria, it's just that most captains do because their government has signed agreements that allows them to make more money than by sailing to Oceansend, Alpha, Leeha, or rival Latela.
Most of Panteria's population are humans from various ethnic origins, mostly Alphatians, Minrothaddans, and some Heldanners, Thyatians, Karameikans, and various other backgrounds.
A sizeable portion of the population are Oceansenders, some of whom live in the marquisate, though most are refugees who left the city when it fell to the Heldannic Knights. Most of the nobility and gentry of Oceansend settled in Panteria rather than Alpha, as the marquise sent many ships to the falling city to allow their escape; though King Yarrvikson did go to Alpha, most of his court was staying in Panteria. Many nobles have returned to their estates now, but some stayed behind or travel regularly between the two. Many ships sail from Oceansend to Panteria, sometimes without stopping at Alpha, and it is well known among the Norwold nobility that the guilds of Panteria have a branch in Oceansend and participated in the overthrowing of the knights.
In and around Cape Westria, and to a lesser extent elsewhere in the marquisate, live peaceful hin who settled a few miles north of their ancestral lands in search of better soil for their beloved snow tulips. Those hin generally live in burrows-nicknamed igloos by their human neighbours because they are covered in snow most of the year-covered by gardens of blossoming tulips during the late spring and summer months.
Everything in the marquisate is regulated by the guilds; everybody lives by the guilds' rules. The marquise officially is head of state, but the guilds have the actual say in everyday affairs. There are guilds for every activity going on in the marquisate: trade of course, crafts, magic, fishing, agriculture, even snow tulip gardening. Everyone willing to do the slightest thing within the field of a guild must first register at the appropriate guild, and follow its regulations. It is virtually impossible to do anything without registering at a guild; even beggars have their own guild! Those who tried anyway were soon forced to close shop: nobody would sell to or buy from them, and they were regularly visited by burglars.
A craft guild, for example, grants the right to practice one's activity, buys from another guild or imports raw materials and sells it at a fixed price to the craftsman, buys the finished product at a price varying with the craftsman's skill, then sells it to another guild or exports it. The guild also handles the whole tax aspect, speeds up or slows down the amount of work-and workers-according to market demand and raw material availability, plans the training of new craftsmen or immigration of master craftsmen from other regions, seeks out craftsmen that live outside of the guild and contacts other guilds to discourage their activities. All guilds work along these lines, with minor variants for each particular guild.
Each guild master is himself a member of the Master Guild, which purpose is to collect the taxes from the guilds and hand it over to the marquisate, create or disband guilds, set new trade lanes and economic agreements with other countries or guilds, and decide on other high-level and often secret policies. The identity of the high guild master is kept secret, even from the other guild masters, but it is commonly believed that the marquise herself is in fact leading the most powerful guild of her dominion.
Panteria is a fairly recent dominion; until the dawn of the new millennium, it was but wilderness, with just the occasional settler. When King Ericall invited heroes from all lands to come in Norwold and gain nobility and dominion in return for pledging fealty to the crown of Alphatia and to himself, many worthy heroes came to carve their own dominions; among them were Celia and Weston. Both became barons of Ericall and settled in this region of Norwold, founding cities to be their capitals.
Weston built a small tower where he wanted to create Cape Westria, encouraged settlers to come to his barony, surrounded the small town with wooden palisade for protection, and traded with the hin of Leeha, the Barony of Latela, and Alpha.
Celia built not much at first, but set the base for what would become the guilds, attracting people she would entrust the guilds to. She also contacted various rulers and guild masters, especially in Minrothad and Oceansend, and arranged for advantageous agreements for both parties. She then had a decent port built in the bay, and trade began. Cash was flowing into the guilds' treasury, the port of Panteria was a destination for many ships, and soon the baroness set into motion an aggressive policy of immigration, attracting merchants, skilled craftsmen, but also simple farmers or fishermen, from Alpha, Oceansend, Minrothad, and elsewhere, creating new daughter guilds as the need arose. Celia was awarded the title of countess in AC 1007.
In early spring of AC 1006 a most unusual storm destroyed a natural dam, thereby flooding hin lands with salt water from the Great Bay [this area is now back to normal. Adik.]. Their burrows were flooded and their snow tulips never blossomed that year. A few hundred hin moved north into Westria, which welcomed them. But the barony was already in financial trouble, trade being shadowed by nearby Leeha and Panteria, further deepened by mismanagement. The baron began to contract debts, until his barony was on the verge of bankruptcy.
In AC 1010 the two dominions peacefully merged. Actually, Countess Celia flatly bought Westria [some people speculated that the two would marry to seal the deal, but they didn't. Adik.]. Celia paid back the debts and the guilds quickly extended their control over to the new lands-most certainly greatly annoying the creditors, who probably had other plans for the barony upon its bankruptcy. It was expected at the time that Celia would declare her independence from Alpha like so many other petty lords, but she instead started to go by the title of Marquise of Panteria-she loved the word-and asked at Ericall's court for that title to be recognised, which he gladly accepted.
When Oceansend fell to the Heldannic Knights, many ships allowed the nobility, gentry and some commoners to flee to Panteria before the Heldannic navy definitively blocked all access. The port of Panteria was upgraded to rival that of Alpha and harbour most of the Oceansend trading fleet. The guilds' branch in Oceansend was certainly crucial in the overthrowing of the knights, probably covertly helping dwarves and Oceansenders smuggle arms, sabotaging Heldannic work and costing them much money, though their precise role remains largely undocumented but to the guilds' hierarchy.
If you are persona non grata in hin lands, then don't miss a visit to Cape Westria anytime in summer so you can tour the carefully tended snow tulip gardens. There you will be amazed by the connecting patches of blossoming flowers, forming intricate designs with their colours ranging from snow-white to yellow, orange, pink, red, and deep blue. If you are a spell-caster like myself, I strongly encourage you to levitate and marvel at how the patterns assemble like a vast mosaic across the individual gardens.
I advise everyone against doing any business in Panteria without first checking at the appropriate guild, unless you're looking for trouble. I [Arcadius] myself had the bad idea of simply casting a few spells while travelling the land incognito and quickly found myself in trouble-which I won't detail here-until I managed to prove that I was a lord of Norwold and a friend of Celia's. And yet I know that whenever I enter the marquisate the guilds still have me under watch all the time. I imagine with a shiver how easily this can become a terrible nightmare for a mere commoner with no connection to the marquise.