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SCHATTENALFEN (Kingdom of the)
Location: Northwestern World Spine Mountains, continent of Iciria, south of the Azcan Empire, west of the Oltecs, east of the Traldar. HW
Area: 175,976 sq. mi. (455,780 sq. km.). This area does not take into account the large area that was conquered from the Azcans since the religious war in that kingdom.
Population: 600,000, including Issarthyl (pop. 60,000) and several other towns.
Languages: Elvish (Schattenalfen dialect, similar to the Shadow Elven dialect).
Coinage: Mountain (gp), pyramid (sp), stone (cp).
Taxes: 10% tithe in coin, 15% tariff on all goods, 10% toll on commodities transported through the kingdom, plus levies in kind, surtaxes, and corvée labour based on need.
Government Type: Theocratic monarchy; kings and queens must be priests of Atzanteotl.
Industries: Agriculture, crafts, mining.
Important Figures: Catriata (Queen), Caryldian (General).
Flora and Fauna: Basilisks, bats, black bears, brown bears, giant beetles, beholders, black puddings, carrion crawlers, mountain lions, smilodons, giant centipedes, chimeras, dinosaurs, dragons, gelatinous cubes, stone giants, hill giants, grey oozes, green slimes, giant lizards, ochre jellies, pterosaurs, purple worms, rats, trolls, giant weasels, yellow moulds.
Further Reading: Hollow World boxed set, previous almanacs.
Description by Moctlpotec.
The Divine Atzanteotl, who brings all blessings upon His people, bade me to describe the lands and people that have been sanctified through appropriate and necessary sacrifices in His honour to the outlander world. Wretched apostates and infidel savages have too long used insidious deceits to distort the record of our people and make their invidious hostility to us seem honourable. These vulgar barbarians have used their deceptive propaganda to attempt to confuse the gullible into believing their actions have been appropriate. But they have been the ones to take that which is not theirs by invasion, and they are the despicable ones who have forsaken faith and betrayed us, their former brothers. These renegades and, more recently, the northern savages, were turned by twisted guile and their own ignorant superstitious nature to follow other, darker Immortals who have promised them such rewards-rewards seized and expropriated from the righteous ones. The unrighteous betrayers claim these things by force and guile, while casting aspersions upon we who are honest in our beliefs and actions. We have, through all these trials, cleaved to our faith in spite of the tempters and deceiver Immortals. Atzanteotl has decreed that it is time to counter their lies with our truth, to bring enlightenment even to rustics such as yourselves, so that there might be some chance of comprehension. Thankfully, arrangements were made so that my text could be transported to you without having to taint myself in the presence of outlanders and savages who haven't been prepared for the sacred altar.
So, that out of the way, let me describe the sacred lands and people of Atzanteotl, so that you may learn in awed rapture of our accomplishments in the face of the impositions of the savages and the trials imposed by those elves which betrayed us.
Our lands are the most blessed in the world, the bounty provided by the grace of Atzanteotl, who led His chosen people to this spot. Here beneath the World Spine Mountains is a wealth of natural resources untold in all the world, vast caverns in which we repose, even vaster caverns where all manner of approved, sanctified foods are grown, and mines filled with seemingly inexhaustible veins of metals and gems of all sorts. Through tunnels we also have access to the surface at need, the ability to engage in the Holy Work of smiting the barbarous savages that surround us, whose wicked and nefarious ways cause righteous indignation among those who follow the Code of Atzanteotl. We even wreak Holy vengeance against the misbegotten and profane shadow elves that spurned the True Path and were wilfully beguiled by the False and Nefarious doctrines of the evil Rafiel, to the point that they expose their own children to death and drive their wisest elders from their midst by means of sacrificing to his insatiable blood-lust. Rumours you may have heard that these creatures of darkness defeated us were, of course, overblown-false rumours spread by their silver-tongued propagandists in order to delude simple but well-meaning folk into trusting them. Their guile is boundless, outdone only by their capacity for deceit and treachery. I give you warning of this, as token of our benevolence. But, nay-we were not defeated. Our punitive expedition against them served its purpose, to show that their dark Immortal cannot protect them from righteous wrath, and perhaps by such lessons they will learn the fallacies of their way, and return to the true path and guidance of the Righteous One, Atzanteotl.
We are a simple, but civilised folk, well-meaning but surrounded by a host of enemies, which covet the bounties that Atzanteotl has bestowed upon us, His chosen people. Thus, against our peace-loving natures, we are forced to arm ourselves and each of us must, by necessity, fight in His name against these savages who would seek to destroy us. We must also, of course, as right-thinking folk, do our utmost to push back the hordes of barbarism and heathen infidelity, especially those of the crude and wicked apostate Azcans, whose flighty ignorance is an offence to proper sensibilities. Thus, we are the sort of people who take up the heavy burden of fighting to bring the light of truth and benevolence to the world, a burden we bear willingly in the name of our Holy Guide, Atzanteotl, our hearts fortified knowing that one day our might will make the world right. We conduct our ceremonies in complete darkness to remind ourselves of the darkness in the world around us, and we cannot live in light until the darkness is driven back from the entire world. We do not ask for your thanks, but your respect is owed to us. While the land-grabbing and invidious shadow elves, having defiled and debased nature by their very presence in the Canolbarth, are winning through cunning deception and guile the sympathy of many easily misled surface dwellers, it is we, the Schattenalfen who follow the True Faith of Atzanteotl, who fight their nefariousness. The invidious shadow elves-called such because of the shadow of darkness that shrouds their hearts-have even illicitly seized the Holy City of Blessed Atzanteotl, corrupting it with their vile presence and filling its streets with blood by the massacres they perpetrated their against anyone who dared appear. Foolish people are sympathetic for them, and are willing to believe the lies they spread about my people. If you allow yourselves to be misled into darkness by such, then we shall be forced to smite you down as well, for your own good, as we cleanse the world of all the savage, barbarous, heathen races.
Glorious Issarthyl contains at its centre the great pyramid shrine to Atzanteotl, in the midst of a vast plaza where His most holy priests conduct His religious rites, surrounded by still more temples to Him (we are a very pious people), and by the royal palace grounds. The pyramid itself is a wonder of holy architecture, with frescoes on all sides and toped by a large altar, where the high priest conducts rights honouring Him, attended by acolytes. Should you have the distinct honour of being captured by our warriors in battle and being among those chosen to participate in these ceremonies, you may well see the altar up close. Consider such a role an honour, as you will be doing your part to help us in our Sacred Task. [This is this correspondent's opinion, not an advice from the editors of the Mystaran Almanac. We preferred to warn our dear readers before too many of you ended up being sacrificed. The suggestion of the editors is that you stay away from the Schattenalfen, and especially from their altars. Ed.]