Akanasho

Though no roads lead to or from it, Akanasho thrives and is far from isolated.  Its location downstream from Gatia on the Orshiano River connects it to both the imperial seat and the largest port city on the Dawnsea.  Akanasho is located between high bluffs on either side of the Orshiano valley, and many ornate towers have been built on the sides of the south bluff.

Once, Akanasho bore another name that has been blotted and stricken from memory and history.  For though many of the city states in the Orshiano Valley who were rivals to Gatia’s primacy were razed during the wars to unify the Cirsovan heartlands, Ga Akana found the city’s alabaster towers gracing the bluffs over the river to be fair and lovely.  After defeating the king and his army, Ga Akana proclaimed that he would spare the city if its people would bow before him.  The city was renamed Akanasho, or “Akana’s mercy”.

The greatest of the alabaster towers, Ga Akana made his palace, and from there he ruled for full year, where he won the affections of the people with his wisdom and benevolence.  The palace remains to this day a beloved spot of the imperial family.

Doria

Doria is a small town in northeast Cirsova.  It is off the main highways of the Long Road.  Once upon a time, the road from Doria was all that connected Agalla and most of Ungoza to the Empire, prior to the construction of the Agalla bypass.  It is still the principal route for travelers journeying from Gatia to Ungoza, as well as those fleeing Agalla for the cozy, civilized heartlands.

The demographic makeup of Doria is much like that of Agalla.  Of course, Doria has the advantage of not being the provincial seat of Ungoza.  Doria is inhabited by those who enjoy the often mild weather of northern Cirsova but dislike the big city life in Davou.  Doria has a bit of a frontier feel to it, and it was the northeastern frontier before Agalla was settled.  One of the enclaves of Doria is populated by Cirsovans who had thought they could find wealth in some office or service of the empire or provincial praefect in Ungoza only to return disappointed and disheartened.

Though otherwise unremarkable, Doria is home to a small cult of Tamra, an Ungozan (marshfolk) goddess of the sky and heavens, that has built a shrine outside of the city.  The shrine marks the only site of worship for any marsh-god outside of Ungoza.  The cult is made up primarily of Cirsovans who had visited Illi and were enamored with the tales of the Storymen.  The shrine and its rituals bear so little resemblance to any actual tradition of the eastern marshfolk that any native Ungozan would be thoroughly puzzled by what they might see or hear.

Shepherds take advantage of the ample grasslands and Doria boasts a number of tanners.

Davou, Covered in Snow

Emperor Orrin Tormant’s father, the Emperor Evane Tormant II, once commissioned a painting of Davou by famed Ortian realist painter, Horas Yunara. Near the painting’s completion, Horas decried his work and destroyed it before beginning anew, creating a massive canvas depicting Davou in ruins, half buried in snow. Upon hearing this, Emperor Evane thought of how he might punish the artist with imprisonment or even death.

However, when he saw the painting, the Emperor felt a strange enchantment within the pigments which depicted the demise of his northern stronghold. He ordered the new painting to be locked away in the vaults of the palace in Gatia, only to be placed on display once the events and destruction depicted had come to pass. Horas Yunara and his family were banished from the province of Cirsova until the day his painting hung in the courts of Gatia, upon which the Emperor would abdicate and hand his crown to Yunara or any surviving heir of his line. His grandchildren are rumored to live in Ortia, where, to this day, they guardedly pray for snow.

Davou

Davou sits at the crossroads of the north and sees through its gates the great shipments of crystals coming from the east, Gatlian trade goods return from the west. The road south leads to Gatia and all the empire beyond.

Davou quarters the Northernmost legion of the Cirsovan empire, though it is a shadow of the force that subjugated Ungoza. There has been no conflict in the region for over a century, and the task of quelling piracy and brigandage has fallen to the local barons. The only threats to Cirsova’s north are the encroaching snows and the radical political experiment brewing in Gatlia. Only one of these might bring the legion to bare, though only a few truly brazen members of the aristocracy would even breathe suggestion of sorts.

Presently, Davou prospers greatly from the trade road it sits upon and generates sizable revenue from the many warehouses within its walls. Additionally, it receives its own skim of imperial tax receipts collected from Ungoza and Gatlia.

Davou is also home to a travelling troupe of performers, the Wagons of Mystery, which often travels along the Long Road behind large merchant caravans, putting on elaborate plays and strange feats of daring in the towns along the road. During the colder seasons, when merchants are less frequent, the troupe stays in one of the dingier corners of Davou, trying out new talent, developing new routines, and occasionally offering private performances for those lucky enough to receive a writ of invitation.

Adventurers who wish to visit Jorgora may set out north from Davou, following the corridor between the  Gatlian Mountains and western forests of Ungoza. It is, however, a difficult journey with no roads, markers or wayrests, and most are disappointed to find nothing but a large, sometimes snow-covered hillock.

Orshiano River, The

The fertile region of Orshiano’s watershed is known as the Riverlands, and is the center of
Cirsovan high culture. During the early days of Gatia’s primacy over the heartlands, before the
great system of imperial roads were commissioned, the Orshiano river and its tributaries served as
the main method of transportation. Even today, it serves as a favored route of trade, with hundreds
of barges travelling up and down its course, from its sourcesprings in Gatia to its mouth at Korsha
on the Dawnsea.

It is in the valley of the Orshiano river that the Akhirs at last settled, ending their northward
migration. After a few generations, the peoples of the Riverlands began building the mighty city
states of ancient Cirsova. Many of these were destroyed when Ga Akana conquered the Riverlands,
however along with Korsha, Akanasho and Allister remain to this day as thriving imperial cities.
Gatia itself was built on the site where Ga Akana and his men discovered the headwaters of Orshiano

Though laws are more lax further downstream, under a revision to the Charters of Unification, it is
punishable by imprisonment in Gatia to dispose of corpses, human or animal waste in the headwater
reservoirs.

Santia

No roads enter or leave Santia, save for the one path that leads to the monastery of Owen, which stands sentinel over the region. The exact date of its founding is unknown, though guessed to be roughly a century before Gatia, with the monastery of Owen having been built a few years later. Though it is in the modern province of Cirsova, there is some debate as to whether Santia is ethnically or culturally Cirsovan or proto-Cirsovan, as it lies far from the Riverlands of Orshiano and northwest across the Gulf of Cirsova from Gatlia.

Some say that Santia was one of the only city states that rivalled Gatia during the late pre-imperial period. When Ga Akana, the first emperor, began his consolidation of the Cirsovan heartland, he concentrated on the River States, to secure the Orshiano river a trade route to the sea. Thus, Santia was the last heartland city to be added to Gatian dominion.

The story goes that when Ga Akana approached Santia, ready for battle, the Abbot of Owen descended alone from the mountaintop with a single cup in hand. Standing face to face with Ga Akana, the Abbot took a small sip from the cup, bowed, and proffered the beverage to Emperor, who, it is said, drank and then laughed heartily, slapping the Abbot on his shoulder, and invited the holy man to his tent. Exactly What transpired in the tent is subject of many fables, legends and bedtime stories, whose veracity are in question. What is known, however, are the results of the meeting: not a drop of blood would be shed, the people of Santia would be spared any tax or tarriff, and the Emperors of Cirsova would be granted access to Owen’s manuscripts and ales for perpetuity.

When later Emperors connected the Cirsovan Empire by road, Santia was left out. The reasons given by the chief royal engineers and cartographers were that they could find no charter in the archives confirming that Santia was indeed part of Cirsova that it should be connected by road to the rest of Empire. In fact, once, a document was procured from the vaults and used as evidence that no such road be built, lest it violate a holy imperial decree. No one from Santia ever complains, though some heartland nobles fret over Santia’s status within the realm.

The people of Santia keep mostly to themselves, though will engage with occasional sea traders who might stop to resupply between Syflanis and Corineaus or attempt to purchase manuscripts produced by the scholars of Owen. Most native Santians do not leave their home, but those that do, those that one may encounter throughout the province of Cirsova, tend to be neophyte monks of Owen on pilgrimage, delivering books or beer to important personages.

Owen

On a rocky mountaintop overlooking the village of Santia and the Dusksea, Owen looms grey and foreboding. Visitors to the tower, however, will find it quite hospitable and accommodating, provided that they show an appropriate amount of respect for the monks and scholars who have sequestered themselves here in pursuit of knowledge and maintain decorum and polite quietude in areas of study.

Originally a monastery dedicated to a Pre-Cirsovan god of knowledge, Owen is one of the few remaining links to the heartland’s former culture. If ‘magic’ ever existed in Cirsova, save in the fermented dreams of Shuul users and ancient Northerners, it may have been practiced in Owen. There is still something of a reverent fear in the town of Santia below, though none will say why and no written accounts exist (unless kept under lock and key of the tower itself) of the different rites and rituals performed on the grounds or the efficacy thereof. While both Santia and Owen are in the province of Cirsova and, thus, the Empire, there is an uneasy autonomy which is never brought up in polite conversation within the halls of authority.

Owen boasts the Empire’s foremost library and collection of ancient texts and pre-Cirsovan writings. All original copies of texts found in Northern ruins reside in the archives here, under protective lock and key, including the only known extant copy of the Romance of Tyurani and Velina, which is in the midst of a modern translation into Common Cirsovan. Early on, there were fears that Gaciall, or whatever elders rule Polaris, might demand the scholars of Owen surrender some of the Northern text; to the contrary, the White Lady sent both her written blessing and a large body of Polaran works, including some of her own writings, to be added to the illustrious collection of Owen. As of yet, very few of these works have undergone translation, and those that have are not currently available to any outside of the monastery. There are rumors, however, that the Emperor was given a translated codex of some of Gaciall’s writing that is a personal favorite of his.

Though printed books are coming into fashion througout the Empire, the hand copied illuminated works produced by the scholars are highly sought after works, made all the more expensive by Owen’s isolation. The lack of roads leading to or from Santia discourage most overland trade, though occassionally small bands of pilgrims, knowledge seekers or rare book-hunters make their way from Sotune or Peliora accross the plains. Most seeking to visit Owen arrive by sea via the small port in Santia, coming from either from Syflanis to the north in Gatlia or from Corineaus, which lies to the southwest in Karkuras, across the Gulf of Cirsova. The latest major works from Owen to find their way into the public eye have been a translation of ‘Jorgora’ and an annotated look at ‘The Ice Shall Take Us’, both of which were written by Garick Hellos.

Perhaps the best kept secret of Owen is the monastery’s brewery. While it has never been made commercially available, beer brewed by the monks is freely given to visitors, provided they consume what they are given on the spot and within view of the monks. Those who have tasted it declare it to be beyond compare or description (it is known to be fairly stout nut-brown ale, best served slightly cooler than room temperature). Each year, in lieu of gold or crops, Owen sends a single 12 gallon barrel of the beer to the Emperor in Gatia. Protecting this tribute is used as a final rite of passage for those wishing to become one of the scholars of Owen.

Cirsova

Cirsova! Cirsova! Land of Green, Land of Rivers, Land of Mountains, Land of Forests, Land of Power, Land of Kings!

Cirsova is the heart of culture as it is the heart of empire. All other peoples shall be measured against her qualities and might! The closer to Cirsova a people, the closer to the living gods who have through the ages brought the light of civilization and prosperity to those in the dark.

Cirsova’s calendar is dated to the founding of Gatia, the Imperial seat, though Cirsovan culture goes back a few hundred years prior. About 500 years before the founding of Gatia, one of the tribes, the Akhirs, who’d arrived from across the Dawnsea (some say the founders of Solaris) began migrating northward from Ortia and Paelnor. Upon reaching the heartland, the Akhirs found a land overflowing with milk and honey. Everything a civilization needed to thrive was nearby and plentiful: fertile graze and farmland, abundant timber, plentiful mineral resources, and a navigable river-route to the sea.

The Akhirs made clever alliances and favorable marriages with the native peoples they found inhabiting this new land. Some imperial historians claim that after only three centuries, pre-Cirsovan culture had been fully assimilated, and that no distinction could be made between the two. A more likely scenario, as these historians claim “no distinct pre-Cirsovan artifacts have been identified”, is that the Akhirs were the people who became fully assimilated into the more settled and advanced heartlanders’ culture. This is also evident in the adoption of the heartlanders’ language and pronunciation, hence the ‘Akhirs’ (which is very Ortian) became ‘Cirs’. Joined with “Ova”, pre-Cirsovan for nest, we have Cirsova, or “Nest of the Akhirs”.

For around 400 years, Cirsovan culture revolved around a system of city states that traded with one another and shared a common language and culture. Not long after its founding, Gatia quickly became the most powerful of these city states, unifying the whole of the Cirsovan heartland in only two decades. This first Emperor, Ga Akana, is still today seen and worshipped as a living god, for how else could one man so mightily bring all of the heartlands under his banner?