The Helodonian Empire once stood proud and tall, a beacon of culture ruling most of the civilized lands and well known and respected in the rest. But no such society can endure, and the Empire declined under the weight of corrupt rulers, raiding barbarians, and internal strife. Slightly more than a century ago, the peasants revolted, and the emperor and his family were slain. Various noble houses and ambitious members of the lower classes tried to seize power, and the Empire collapsed into chaos and civil war. King Amphitryon I was one such man, taking control of the city Shera and the surrounding lands as the Kingdom of Cle-Shera.
Over the past hundred years, the Kingdom has expanded its influence to a larger area, winning some lands by conquest and some by alliance. It is currently in a state of troubled peace, although there are rumours that King Amphitryon II is merely biding his time and raising armies to march on foreign lands.
There are three major noble houses within Cle-Shera: House Alcaeus, the house of the King; House Termerus, whose lands were brought into the Kingdom through alliance and the marriage of Amphitryon II to Queen Elaine Termerus; and House Lathane, second strongest of the houses, who bear little love for the King. Countless lesser houses fill the remainder of the court, most sworn to one of the three larger houses.
Travel within the borders of Cle-Shera is relatively safe, especially far from the borders and on the patrolled roads. Those who can afford it, though, will travel under guard; those who cannot will attach themselves to larger groups for protection. Orcs and other fell creatures roam the surrounding lands and mountains, and occasionally raid farms and smaller villages.
Rumours, tales, and legends speak of the following things which may be of interest to adventurous souls:
- the independent town of Treshek is beset by a vile sorcerer and his demonic/undead/bandit minions (depending on which story you believe);
- the orc raids to the north have grown more frequent and savage, as if some terrible power drives the usually cowardly orcs to more violence;
- the hero Ventis was put to rest in a shrine high in the mountains overlooking the sea, and his legendary battle axe lies on his tomb which can only be found by one of pure heart in an hour of greatest need;
- Duke Lathane has been meeting in secret with travellers from Kaar and Marat Dyn;
- the Dwarves of Kharazhrat Thron have uncovered something deep and old in their mines;
- elven travellers are seen more frequently of late and speak in hushed tones of ancient prophecies and riddles, as the travel east toward the rising sun;
- the guildmaster of the Thieves’ Guild (The Ancient and Noble Guild of Thieves, Robbers, Burglars, Cutpurses, Pickpockets, Extortioners, and Criminals) is losing his grip on the guild;
- the ruins of an ancient city have been found, full of wonders of architecture and art, some weeks journey westward in the heart of the forest;
- the crops of the independent town of Bellyne have failed for the second consecutive season, due to a terrible curse.
There are three major gods of the world, the Black God, the White God, and the Wanderer. The White God is worshipped, the Black God is feared, and the Wanderer is the wild card of fate and chance, sometimes thanked and sometimes cursed. Much like the noble houses, they are complimented by a slew of lesser deities and spirits.
Yeah, sounds pretty good.