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VYALIA (County of)

Location: Southeastern corner of the continent of Brun, along the eastern border of Karameikos and the Kerenda River, north of Machetos and south of the Altan Tepes Mountains. OW

Area: 2,748 sq. mi. (7,115 sq. km.).

Population: 25,000 (60% human, 40% elven, some hin) including the towns of Foreston (pop. 5,000) and Greenheight (pop. 1,000).

Languages: Thyatian (Thyatian dialect), Elvish (Vyalia dialect).

Coinage: Thyatian Standard: emperor (pp), lucin (gp), asterius (sp), denarius (cp).

Taxes: 25% income tax collected quarterly on the aristocracy, nobility, and wealthy; 20% income tax collected quarterly on everyone else (Va. 1, Ya. 1, Fy. 3, and Ei. 1). Thyatians abroad must still pay their taxes. Expensive and magical items are also taxed 25% of their worth. 10% imperial commercia sales tax on all goods except food, clothing, and fixed assets; levied on imports, rebated on exports. Tax on slave owning equal to 50% of the slave's value annually. Property tax levied based on quality of land, roughly 6% of its value annually.

Government Type: Dominion, member of the Thyatian Empire.

Industries: Light agriculture, crafts (especially woodworking, carving), fishing, magic, military, shipbuilding, textiles

Important Figures: Yldysyl Greenheight (Count, elf, male, F13/M12), Larandia Lymianoporus (Lady, Head of the Order of Foresters, human, female, F10/M12), Alexiana Hierydyl (Loremistress, elf, female, M18/Pr16 of Ilsundal), Formosos Treeshield (Warden Marshal, elf, male, F10/M10).

Flora and Fauna: The majority of Vyalia's territory consists of rolling hills, but the southern, settled portion is based in the forested valley around the Kerenda River. These consist mainly of immense, ancient redwood groves, but also of cedar, mahogany, and teak carefully cultivated for woodworking use, and peach, pear, orange, and cherry fruit trees in cultivated orchards. The woods are filled with many animal species, both game and predators; wolves, boars, deer, elk, and other forest creatures roam the area. Pegasi, griffons, rocs, ruby, gold, and white dragons as well as other aerial creatures are used as mounts occasionally.

Further Reading: Dawn of the Emperors boxed set, DDA1 Arena of Thyatis, DDA2 Legions of Thyatis, previous almanacs.

Description by Vivianna Romanones.

This county was enlarged by the emperor last year and is known for its elven population. With the recent arrival of some Alfheim refugees (some early last year came to work on the reforestation project and more arrived when they fled Wendar), Vyalia's population is now 40% elven. Many Vyalia elves live across the ostensible border, within the Dymrak Forest of Karameikos. Few Vyalia elves obey the rulings of their king, however, looking instead to their Clan Leader, Yldysyl Greenheight, the Count of Vyalia, for guidance. It originally became a county in the early 3rd century AC, when the Vyalia elves agreed to teach the Thyatians their arts, and sponsor the Order of the Foresters.

The Land

The most densely settled portion of Vyalia consists of ancient and dense old growth forests, part of the Dymrak Forest. Nestled alongside the glittering Kerenda River, this area preserves the untamed beauty of the wilderness. Tall trees loom overhead, spreading a canopy of branches and leaves sheltering the scattered communities of elves, humans, and hin who live here. Though one may hunt here (for food, not sport), tree-cutting is forbidden except by permission. Most wood gathered for fuel is deadwood, or culled from dying trees.

The northern portion of the county, and actually the largest portion, are the recently-added foothills of the Altan Tepes Mountains, granted to Vyalia in Eusebius' restructuring of the empire last year. These are sparsely inhabited, though the southernmost region (along the Kerenda River and adjacent to the area already settled) is the site of the Vyalian reforestation project. Here elves, and elf-friends, can be found planting seedlings and using plant growth and other magics to extend the Dymrak Forest northwards. This effort will no doubt take several years to complete, but those involved are patient.

North of this area lay the foothills proper. For the moment no plans have been adopted for this region; since they lack a ready water source such as the Kerenda River, it is considered less practical to grow forests here, at least for now. Many of the county's hin are considering making this area home, though. Open immigration is not considered a viable option for colonising this area, however, since the inhabitants of Vyalia are very selective about who they think should live here (though they welcome many sorts of visitors), and the kind of activities they should pursue, which is roughly speaking the elven lifestyle.

The People

The inhabitants of Vyalia are almost exclusively elves and elf-friends. The area is named after the elves that live here, those of the Vyalia branch of the elven family tree. Though much of the lands they reside in lay across the official border with Karameikos, the Vyalia don't pay much attention to this boundary, and frequently cross it back and forth. In case of disputes, those living in Karameikos are more likely to come to the elven court of Yldysyl Greenheight for redress than to seek out the authorities of the King of Karameikos. The Vyalians have long been friends and vassals of the empire, and see no need to change this now because of some recent, fleeting change in control of Traladara.

The Vyalia are divided into several clans. These include the Blueleaf, Diamarak, Etheredyl, Greenheight, Hierydyl, and Treeshield. The Blueleaf clan is known for its artisans-jewellers, painters, sculptors, and the like. The Diamaraks prefer to reside in the deep forests and wilderness of Vyalia, and serve as its protectors. They are ever vigilant against poachers and others who would despoil their woodlands. They are experts in the use of botanical magics, and are at the forefront of the reforestation efforts. Many of the Diamaraks are adventurers, and others tutor the foresters. The Etheredyls are a philosophic and mystic-minded clan, which largely keeps to itself and avoids contact with outsiders. The Greenheights are more outgoing and gregarious. They are even hospitable to dwarves. It is they who built the town of Greenheight, and who first agreed to sponsor the foresters. They also perform most of the few administrative functions that are required, and liaison with the imperial government in Thyatis City. The Hierydyls are the scholars of the Vyalia, knowledgeable in elven lore and magic. Many travel abroad, conducting their studies, and are among the more likely Vyalians to be encountered by travellers. One seeking the knowledge of a sage should go to the Hierydyls. The Treeshields are a clan of warriors. Many serve in the Thyatian military, usually in elite units.

Though Vyalia is considered the elven county, it should not be forgotten that the majority of its inhabitants are actually humans and that most Thyatian elves do not happen to live here. The human inhabitants of Vyalia are Thyatians who settled here, being attracted to elven ways and desirous of living in harmony with nature. If anything, they are even more fanatical in defending the wilderness than the elves are. Many of them live in the town of Foreston, but others live as the elves do, or as mountain men in the woods themselves or, increasingly, in the northern hills. They sell their wares in town, but are careful to avoid despoiling the natural order. One will find few indiscriminate trappers and hunters in their number, and those few usually do not last long-hunted and killed for their crimes by the other citizens of Vyalia, elf and non-elf alike.

Foreston is also home to a small community of hin, who find it more congenial here than elsewhere in Thyatis; the citizens of Vyalia do not tend to treat them as children. More might move in to explore and settle the dales and hillocks of northern Vyalia, but as of yet they form less than 10% of the county's population.

In greater numbers are the Alfheim elves. Though not as many Alfheim refugees settled here as moved to Karameikos or Wendar, and then, following the increasing strife there, on to other nations. In fact most of the Alfheim elves that settled here did so after being expelled from Wendar, but still fewer moved here than went to other areas. Those that did come here came in no small part because the reforestation project offered them the possibility of a positive project to undertake, all the more welcome after the disappointments of their previous travels and the failure of the crusade to Denagoth.

Don't Miss

Foreston is a beautiful community blending elven and human architecture in a way not seen even in Wendar (where the two races tend to form distinct communities instead of intermingling). Greenheight is the largest elven settlement in Vyalia, and home to some of their most breathtaking artistry, homes nestled in the branches of grand redwoods, statuary of the Blueleaf clan forming dioramas of wondrous nature scenes, and other visions which must be seen to believed.

But the most spectacular sight is one most of you will never see-the ceremony of adoption, where a trainee becomes a forester. The candidate is taken by his sponsors to their Tree of Life, deep in the forest, far off the beaten path. There the trainee is formally accepted into the clan as one of their own, and visited by the Arm of Ilsundal, filling her with vitality. It is one of the most touching ceremonies on all of Mystara, a living demonstration of the kinship of races. Only clan members and candidates are allowed to attend, however, so as not to expose the location of the Tree of Life to outsiders.

Do Miss

Or, rather, what to avoid doing when travelling here. Do not come as a poacher, logger, miner, or trapper. Don't do anything the residents would consider a desecration of the wilderness. Doing that invites a death sentence. Otherwise, this is one of the more pleasant areas of Mystara, with few rampaging beasts, kind and honest inhabitants, a true sanctuary. Don't cause trouble and you'll be welcomed here.