|Languages:||Griffonspeak Common Leturian|
|Ethnic Groups:||Griffons, Leturians, Other humans|
|Government:||Appointed Monarch with a Council of Elders|
|Current Ruler:||King Karos V|
|Currency:||Sequin, Asper, Deng, Kip, Karos, Neskos|
Griffon’s Aerie is a seaside kingdom that’s between Ferluxebi, Zul Kiras, Leturia, and Secca. It was founded in 312 BT after Griffons pushed the then slavery practicing Leturians to the east. Two-thirds of the population is non-Griffons due to pre-existing human majority cities in the grasslands, with Leturians and Mingits making up the largest percentage of that group. The nation prides itself on its laws and universities, and it’s engaged with the rest of Siveth through trade and diplomacy.
Establishment of Griffon’s Aerie
The Griffons originated in the Lunit Mountains. Their earliest history is a mystery, but at some point they began protecting a grove of dryadic trees at the base of one of the mountains, near a lake at the source of the River Sekka. The dryads gifted them magical properties and arcane focuses in order to make Griffons better guardians.
They live undisturbed until nomadic rint-riders from the southern border ransacked the Igmerind and Mingit’s kingdoms and created Leturia. Gold veins within a cave were stumbled upon by the Leturians, which set off territorial disputes. When human scouts came too close to the grove of dryadic trees, the Griffons declared war and used their human forms to infiltrate Leturian cities.
The Griffons instigated and armed slave rebellions that destabilized western Leturia. Amid the chaos, Griffon forces invaded, pushed Leturia to the east, and took over cities along the way. Griffon’s Aerie was founded in 312BT with a population of freed slaves, Leturian expatriots, and the Griffons who took leadership of the new nation. Development of the country was slow, as conflicts with Leturia continued. Another slave rebellion was fomented by the Griffons to further disrupt Leturian society and take a fortified city where the River Sekka meets the South Sea. in 252 BT, Secca was thus formed in what was once the capital of the Sopt Kingdom by a diverse group of freed humans, including Mingits. The new city was initially a protectorate of Griffon’s Aerie
Internal struggles within Leturia from years of conflicts and revolts led to an insurrection against the monarchy. This marked the beginning of peace between the Griffons and Leturians. Meanwhile, Secca focused on maritime and river mercantilism and built a fleet of ships. In exchange for its freedom, Secca agreed to a policy of free trade concessions with Griffon's Aerie, such as waiving potential tariffs that may arise in the future.
Two centuries of peace allowed Griffon’s Aerie to flourish. Bustling cities emerged within the plains, forests, and at the base of the Lunit Mountains. Universities trained renowned scholars, judges, and diplomats who travel the world to bolster the Aerie’s relations with different countries. The trade agreements with Secca gave them access to markets across Siveth. A military and knightly orders were developed, and their naval capacities were contracted out to Secca.
Then beginning in 106 AT, kingdoms across a large area further north began being conquered by orcs and other goblinoids. They were said to be led by an ancient dragon they worshipped who gifted them abilities in the dark arts. Humans from the destroyed Kingdom of Beren were the first to flee south. As more kingdoms fell, refugees began spreading across Siveth.
The Lunit Mountains made the Aerie’s original northwestern border, and Elvendeep still held much of the forest on the other side of the mountains. When the orcs reached the Great and Keulenestra Forests, their war with Elvendeep started. Griffons initially remained uninvolved with the conflicts due to Elvendeep’s isolationist policies. Then in early to mid-300s AT, Elvendeep abandoned the Great and Keulenestra Forests and centralized their nation into their current borders. This left a gap at the foothills of the Lunit Mountains that was traversable by the orcs.
Leturia was left vulnerable as well, so a joint effort was done to retake the Keulenestra Forest. The Aerie and Leturia split two sections of the forest once orcs were driven out, with Griffons holding most of it and Leturia taking a smaller portion to the southeast. Thus the current borders of these two countries were formed. There are still coordinated efforts to keep these areas of the forest as a buffer against orcish invasions.
In about 472, a new governor of Elvendeep began talks with the Aerie and Leturia to form a defense pact against Zul Kiras. These discussions have been difficult since some Deepish elves still want to reclaim the Keulenestra Forest which they once inhabited.
Notable Historical Figures
Neskos is a figure more of legend than historical fact. He is considered the primordial first Griffon who found the dryad grove and led efforts to protect it against magical beasts that wanted to feast upon the trees for power. Neskegow, the capital of Griffon’s Aerie, is named after this figure.
Kings of the Aerie
Beginning in 312BT, a Council of Elders elects a king who serves until old age.
King Karos I
Karos was considered a great hero during the battles against Leturia. He was respected for his strong sense of justice and ability to mediate as well. When he was elected as the first king, there were celebrations for a month. At the age of 250, King Karos I stepped down as he felt he was too old to run the country and his abilities were declining. Since then, appointed rulers have held terms until they turn that age. Each new king has taken the name of Karos as well.
King Karos IV
One of King Karos IV’s last missions before he turned 250 was to establish a trade deal with the countries in the Southlands in 467 AT. He was able to make the proposal and garner some interest, but a series of events led the meeting to never happen.
King Karos V
King Karos V is the current head of state. He was elected in 468 AT based on his pledge to continue the efforts of his predecessor to establish trade alliances. His claim to fame is being the youngest Griffon appointed king at age 175, and the people of the Aerie are hopeful he has a long and productive tenure.
Griffon’s Aerie features an array of biomes that includes mountains, deciduous and evergreen forests, grasslands, and desert.
The Lunit Mountains stretch across the northern and part of the western border. They form a protective barrier against orcish and nomad raids. Gold in the mountains is mined and used for currency, luxury items, and exports. A few Griffon villages dot the rugged terrain along the timberline.
Part of the Aerie is covered by dense deciduous and evergreen forests. The towering forests south of the Lunit Mountains are related to those in the Soranian forests, but the growth is much younger and wasn’t claimed by elves. Lower elevations are composed primarily of temperate deciduous trees, while closer to the mountains stately evergreens make the majority of the scenery. The Keulenestra is the most recent addition to the Aerie. It was once inhabited by elves who retreated into Elvendeep’s current borders. The trees here are tall and ancient, with the ability to contain multi-level dwellings for Griffons and humans alike.
The grasslands make up almost half of the country. It’s fertile soil is used for agriculture which feeds the population. Most of the non-Griffons populate the grasslands.
Desert at the western border is patrolled by aerial Griffons and rintriding humans against raids by the Yosp and Sibdar of Ferluxebi.
Government and Politics
Government and politics are dryer than the Great Desert, but many Griffons flourish and delight in bureaucratic positions.
The Aerie has an appointed king and Council of Elders who oversee the laws and governance of the country. Kings serve until the age of 250 then step down. The Council of Elders serves until their faculties are severely limited or death. Only Griffons are allowed to hold higher offices.
There are three provinces in the Aerie, and a governor is appointed by the Council of Elders for each one. Governors have a more direct impact on their allotted budget for their province. They ensure taxes are paid, infrastructure is built and maintained, and that public officials earn their salaries.
Mayors and city councils run the towns and cities. These are some of the few positions able to be held by humans, but their authority can be superseded by governors, the Council of Elders, or the King in a few circumstances such as during wars. Funds are allocated to each city and town based on pressing needs and a 5-year average of expenses. For instance, each town has guards, and the mayor submits a budget for salaries and expenses to their respective governor.
Justice is the bedrock of the laws of the land, and things like slavery are outlawed. The Griffons sometimes are considered overzealous in their application of the laws, however.
- Sequin = A small square molded brick recently introduced to replace strings of cowrie shells. Many inhabitants of the Aerie are leery about accepting these coins. A single sequin = paid to the keeper of an outhouse. A few sequins = used in playing cards, or for a cup of tea.
- Asper = 7 sequins. A small silver coin, shoddily produced, usually oval or roundish. A single asper = a drink of ale. 2 aspers = whiskey. A meal would be paid for in aspers, as would a simple article of clothing.
- Deng = 7 aspers. A larger silver coin. A deng = one night at an inn. Or might be used in buying dressy clothes.
- Kip = 7 dengs. Either a very large silver coin or a small gold coin; both circulate side by side. A kip = one week at an inn, or one night with a good prostitute.
- Karos = 7 kips. A fairly large round gold coin bearing the portrait of King Karos. A karos might buy a fine purebred horse; several of them might buy a shoe carved from a single sapphire.
- Neskos = 7 karos. This currency comes in the form of a small gold bar, and they are primarily used to pay taxes and fees.
The Aerie has a standing army and aerial forces. A complement of non-Griffon foot soldiers is stationed in the Keulenestra Forest to guard against invasive Zul Kiran forces. Griffons and those with aerial mounts patrol the skies along the border of Zul Kiras and Ferluxebi. The threat of war with Zul Kiras looms large in the Aerie, so the military is always recruiting.
Their navy is contracted out to Secca, who built up a fleet of ships while the Aerie and Leturia were still in conflict. Griffons rarely are officers or crew on ships, however.
One Council of Elders member per branch oversees the military at the behest of the King.
Volunteer militias are overseen by the governors of each province to protect cities and towns from invading forces. Some areas require more attention than others. The province that borders Ferluxebi prides itself on its militia of rint-riders who thwart raids attempted by the Yosp and Sidbar tribes. Militias play another important role in the Keulenestra, as they’re trained in guerrilla tactics should orcs get past the foot soldiers stationed along the border.
There are three knightly orders. One protects the dryad grove and those who make pilgrimages to it, another directly serves the king as his protectors, and a final group guards the gold in the treasury, within the mountains, and along the routes it travels. They’re given rigorous training in combat and arcane arts.
Order of the Neskos
This is the order that guards the dryads trees, which are ancient and tall oaks, and the Griffons who make their pilgrimages to the grove to give birth or pay homage to their patron dryad. Their symbol is a maple tree, which is said to have been the First Dryad’s, who gifted the legendary Neskos new abilities to serve as their protector. It’s the most prestigious and selective order in the country. Knights serve a term of 50 years at the prime of their life and are able to retire with comfort and honorifics. Only Griffons can be in this order.
Order of the Oak
This order serves and protects the king at his castle in Neskegow. The oak is their symbol, and it’s a metaphor for the unyielding and stately commitments they swore with their oaths. It’s a highly regarded order but is often the second choice of aspiring knights. The duration of terms is dependent on the reign of the king. When a king steps down due to old age or dies, a new roster of knights is assigned to protect the next head-of-state. A mix of Griffons and non-Griffons can make up this order.
The Alpine Order
Many who join this order wish for a life of thrills and adventures fighting bandits seeking the Griffons’ hoard of gold. Their assignments rotate between patrolling the mines, protecting the gold caravans enroute to the capital, or standing guard at the treasury in Neskegow. A windblown variety of pine commonly found at the harsh timberline of the Lunit Mountains is their symbol. It represents fortitude and resilience against adversity.
Those who are in this order are sworn to secrets of the treasury. Psychological training is particularly severe for these knights, to ensure they do not break or bend if captured. Griffons pride themselves as stalwart and faithful guardians, but contemporary life filled with temptations has led to suspicious kings sending a spy detail to keep track of Alpine Order knights. Despite the increasing diversity within the Aerie, only Griffons are trusted to protect the gold.
The Aeria is a polytheistic nation with no singular god or national religion. Most practices are Leturian influenced, but multiple churches honoring different gods are found in cities.
Griffons themselves have spiritual practices and allegories using trees as divine symbols. The maple tree is the most sacred among the Griffons, as it’s said this is what the First Dryad was. Still, it’s not unknown to find a Griffon who also worships Menxvan or other gods who represent order and justice.
Society and Peoples
For racial characteristics, see Griffons.
Since its founding in 312 BT, the Aerie has developed into a more diverse nation with a majority human population found primarily in the grasslands. However, Griffons still hold most of the seats of power in the government. There is an appointed king, but there are otherwise no nobility titles that are hereditary or granted. Knighthood is the closest one can get to such a title, and sometimes a prominent magistrate holds esteem similar to a count in cities. Such magistrates are colloquially called the Second Mayor as people seek them to mediate their conflicts and settle unjust scores.
Society in the Aerie is divided between the educated and uneducated. Griffon-founded universities, with the first and biggest in Randegow, are open to all, but often the studies require one to come from a well-to-do family who can afford to send an allowance to their studious child.
Cities that are majority Griffon are built with flight in mind. Unless one has wings, a winged mount, or magic flight, getting from one location high in the trees or mountains to another can be an exhausting effort up rickety wooden stairs or an anxiety ridden crossing over swaying rope bridges from lethal heights. The capital and largest Griffon majority city Neskegow can be especially daunting for non-Griffons. Some of the small towns in the mountains have more roads, but getting through the mountain can be treacherous.
Non-Griffons in the Aerie
Non-Griffons are protected by the laws, which is administered equally across all races. Sometimes sentencing in the Aerie is considered heavy handed, but it's justified as a deterrent against other would-be ne'er-do-wells.
- "I pray the sun has lit your wings and graced your face." (common greeting)
- "The sun has been good to bring me to this happy place and time." (acceptable response)
- "May you wing your way with grace upon the winds of the world." (common farewell)
- "May the sky always remain your home." (acceptable response)
- "By the branch!" or "By the Sacred Maple!" (utterances of surprise)
Male given names usually end with the suffix "-os" or "-ost" (Wylcros; Larkos; Salinost). The names of females invariably end with "-a" (Moira; Katrina; Nikea). Family names tend to be two- or three-syllable affairs, the last of which is "-ibi," denoting "descended from." (Examples: Taltibi; Gagibi; Neskibi.) This form is derived by taking the name of the line's founding father, removing the "-os," and applying an "-ibi."
Griffonspeak, the contemporary language of the Aerie, consists of tonal bird calls with subtleties in pitch, note, holds, and pauses that conveys complex meanings. It can be crudely mimicked by most, but much is lost in translation unless magic is used to comprehend and speak it. The written language version is like sheets of music meant to be performed.
An ancient language was taught to the Griffons by the dryads. It remains as a secret, unwritten, and sacred language among the Griffons meant to communicate with the dryads. Somehow, magical intervention is unable to translate it, which is possibly an effect developed by the dryads themselves. Griffons rarely speak it to each other far from the dryad grove in fear of widespread use leading to discovery by outsiders.
Many languages are spoken in the Aerie, as various peoples and cultures flock to its cities. Leturian and Common are the two most frequently spoken languages, outside of Griffonspeak.