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SURSHIELD (Kingdom of)

Location: Southeastern Bellissaria, west of the Straits of Minaea, east of Horken and Turmoil. AS

Area: Approx. 150,000 sq. miles (382,500 sq. km).

Population: 50,000, including Spearpoint (pop. 30,000), Fort Ballarat (pop. 2,000) and Fort Merrelin (pop. 2,000).

Languages: Alphatian (Bellissarian dialect).

Coinage: Alphatian Standard: crown (gp), mirror (sp), judge (cp).

Taxes: 15% income tax on everyone of servant status or higher, and an import/export tax of 2% on magical items and components, and 1% on all other goods (Naycese kingdoms, Karameikos and Thyatis excluded). 10% of tax revenue goes to the Naycese treasury, and an additional 10% is spent on military forces in the name of the confederation

Government Type: Monarchy, member of Nayce.

Industries: Military, agriculture, fishing.

Important Figures: Gratia (Queen).

Flora and Fauna: Like its neighbouring Bellissarian kingdoms Surshield boasts little indigenous animal life. Most animals and plants were brought in from elsewhere and correspond to the terrain, both domestic and wild.

Further Reading: Dawn of the Emperors boxed set, previous almanacs.

Description by Daralann.

The Land

Surshield was once a much larger kingdom, but was divided into two societies. Eastern Surshield consisted largely of the navy and army that protected Bellissaria from attack from the east and its dependents and suppliers, and lived under military discipline. The rest of Surshield was an anarchy, undisciplined and chaotic. The separation of these areas and creation of new kingdoms was thus an appropriate and wise measure. This has allowed the unruly peoples their own region while giving us the chance to establish proper arrangements in the new, smaller but more governable Surshield. Our new borders end just west of Fort Ballarat and Fort Merrelin, combined castles, ports, and frontier towns. At the opposite end of the kingdom is the city of Spearpoint, which is not only the largest city on Bellissaria but is the only true city on the island continent.

In between lies a vast stretch of rugged but beautiful countryside, with forests for use in shipbuilding and mines that produce iron used in forging the weapons we use. Thus even the remnant of Surshield is enough to suit our needs, and any resources or products we lack at home can, in theory at least, be imported from abroad. For example, in addition to the ships we build ourselves, we acquire some from nearby Horken.

Indeed, in concept the port city of Spearpoint could develop into a commercial, trading, and craft centre for not only Surshield but all of Bellissaria and the Nayce. But the central government of Nayce has decided that, at least for now, we should continue to devote our resources and manpower to military matters and the protection of the new empire, which is prudent but prevents us from developing other spheres of activity. Trade is thus carried out largely by itinerant Minaean merchants and even Minrothaddans and Thyatians from the distant west. But the region is well defended and only the most major of attacks could threaten Bellissaria. A new source of contention, however, is the withdrawal of funding Nayce once granted us. They claim they can no longer afford such largesse as they need the money to finance costly projects, and funds needed to be sent to the Randel of Veroth as well. But this was a bitter pill for the queen, as Surshield is still expected to provide for most of the defence of Bellissaria, especially by sea, so we have had our tax burden increased but no lessening of our other responsibilities.

The People

While most of the inhabitants of Bellissaria have a reputation for being both rustic and closed-mouthed around strangers (and they used to have a saying on the mainland of Alphatia that Bellissaria "was a good place to get thrown out of"), the people of Spearpoint and modern Surshield always had more in common with continental Alphatians. Sure, the anarchists were typical Bellisarians, but the part of the kingdom that forms Surshield now has always been inhabited by more gregarious folk. Perhaps it is our military and seafaring traditions, which make us more outward looking and open by nature.

We have a reputation as Bellissaria's military kingdom, and it is true that our ships are always in top fighting shape and our soldiers well trained and alert, watchful for any attack. But we're not just militarists. We fish and hunt, and Spearpoint is the most cosmopolitan place on all of Bellissaria, conducting commerce not only with Alphatian kingdoms but also with nearby Minaea (their pirates try to raid our shipping, piracy only happens when there's trade to attack) and even some of the nations of Tangor. Of all of Bellissaria, Spearpoint was probably the most strongly influenced by Mylertendal's aesthetic philosophies. Sure, much of our art has a military or nautical theme, but it fits with our outlook. We also tend to have a positive outlook on life, when many other Bellisarians can be gruff and taciturn. For example, some might look on the fact that our kingdom was divided as a negative, but we tend to see it as a positive-an opportunity rather than a loss. Let those new kingdoms go their way, we'll go ours, and everyone will benefit in the end, I say. If our attitude can rub off on the other Bellissarian kingdoms, then the island continent will become the heartland of a new and vibrant Alphatia. Here's hoping they won't remain set in their ways.

Don't Miss

The city of Surshield, especially its vast fortifications and the battlements of its sea walls, which encompass not only the city itself but the port which serves both the navy and traders. The queen's palace is a massively towering citadel, which rises twenty stories-a height reminiscent of the tallest structures of the former continent of Alphatia, and no less splendid. It is studded not only with artillery emplacements but docking terraces for skyships and artistic frescoes reflecting a military and regal theme, and is made entirely out of stunning black basalt. Its base juts out from a promontory in the bay that forms Surshield's harbour, and many naval vessels are able to dock in its ground level.

Do Miss

Somewhere in the mountains of the interior is a hidden military base, in secret chambers that honeycomb one of the peaks. This facility was warded by powerful magics and intended as both a final refuge in time of attack and as a research facility. When the Week Without Magic afflicted the world back in AY 2009 [AC 1009. Ed.], the wards failed. A horde of monsters from the depths of the earth swarmed up from the tunnels below and seized control of this stronghold and held it ever since. Numerous strike forces have been sent to recover it, but all efforts at dislodging the monsters-which seem to consist of an alliance of humanoids led by a council of three red dragons-have failed. The area has since been quarantined, with base camps established around the mountains to contain this menace. Tribes of vile tasloi infest the forests as well, attacking unwary travellers but cravenly avoiding battle with the military forces sent to clear them from the area.