Old Griffon's Aerie
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|Ethnic Groups:||Griffons, humans|
|Current Ruler:||Karos Neskibi V|
|Currency:||Sequin, Asper, Deng, Kip, Karos, Rewop|
Griffon's Aerie was once the kingdom of Vallaria, an ancient human empire that once encompassed all of present day Griffon's Aerie, Leturia, Secca, and some parts of southern Zul Kiras. A race of sentient Griffons came to dominate the kingdom, and today, humans in Griffon's Aerie are serfs, bound to the land and the service of Griffons with few legal rights.
Griffons of the Aerie are known for their druidic magic, which spiritually links each individual to a separate sacred tree and its attendant dryad. Despite its large urban centers, Aerie civilization lives in a state of great harmony with nature.
The Aerie is one of the nations that adheres to The Lil, a philosophy of the ideal personal and social life.
Main Article: History of Griffon's Aerie
When King Arakatos V of Vallaria was deposed by a revolt and murdered along with most of the royal family in the year 558 BT, his son Relandos fled north into the mountains. Seeking aid or refuge, he encountered a race of sentient Griffons with the ability to transform into a humanoid form. They were sympathetic to his plight, and with their help, he became King Relandos V in the year 554 BT. The Griffons settled in Vallaria permanently under King Adrovos V, who married a Griffon princess and granted Griffons the right to own land after they helped secure his throne from a rebellion in the year 470 BT. The Griffons came to dominate the Vallarian Diet, the ancient assembly of nobles which elected Kings, had to approve taxation, and so forth.
Over time, the kings of Vallaria became powerless puppets of the Griffons, and in 312 BT, the Griffons staged a coup d'etat in which they seized control of southern Vallaria, renaming it Griffon's Aerie, and driving the human dynasty their adherents north. For the next two centuries South Vallaria was ruled by a council of several (between five and eight) Griffon warlords. The human kingdom held out for another two centuries, but it too disappeared in 110 BT when the Griffon hero Neskos conquered the last remnants of Vallaria and had himself crowned King of all Griffon's Aerie--with the same crown once worn by the human monarchs. Indeed, the Griffons have adopted much of the old Vallarian culture, including its infamously complex and rigid court protocol, and the Vallarian religion of Lilism. After a human uprising in the years 8-7 BT, humans in Griffon's Aerie were reduced to a state of serfdom, bound to the land and the service of Griffons with few legal rights. This state of affairs is upheld by a quotation from the Griffon language translation of the Lil, which states that "the winged shall rule over the unwinged."
In the year 443, King Karos IV of Griffon's Aerie was deposed by the evil wizard Rewop, who never managed to subject the entire kingdom to his rule. He was finally driven out and Karos restored to power in the year 466, but he lived as a virtual prisoner of the Griffon nobles who overthrew the usurper and effectively ruled the kingdom in his absence. Karos IV was assassinated in the year 468, and his young successor Karos V is similarly constrained by the same coterie of aristocrats, now acting as regents.
Notable Historical Figures
Adrovos I: the Unifier, or the Great (1090-1038? BT). A warrior-king, he brought about the union of Vallaria by force of arms.
Relandos I: the Great (790-778 BT), founder of the royal dynasty of the Svalastribi
Relandos V: (554-523 BT), son of Arakatos V., restored to power by the Griffons
Adrovos V: (479-433 BT) First made it legal for Griffons to own land in Vallaria and granted estates to several Griffons. This meant Griffon presence in the Vallarian Diet for the first time. Married a Griffon Princess.
Neskos: (ca. 135 BT-86 BT) The great national hero of the Griffons who conquered the northern Vallarian kingdom. First King of Griffon's Aerie and founder of the Neskibi Dynasty. The capital was renamed Neskegow in his honor. His exploits are recounted in the epic poem the Neskiad.
Rewop the Usurper: (443-466) Cruel wizard who seized power in Griffon's Aerie in the year 443. Finding a way to bypass the Griffon druidic wards, he kidnapped the royal family and created chaos in the process. Warred with the Griffons for 20 years on a campaign of death and desolation until his army was defeated in 465. Karos IV was restored to power in 466, but Rewop's legacy left a stain upon the empire.
Griffon's Aerie is bordered on the east by Elvendeep, on the southwest by Secca, on the west Leturia, and on the north by the Kuelenestra forest. It stretches from the coast of the Southern Sea to the tail end of the Lunit Mountains in the North. The mighty River Thunder forms the eastern border of Griffon's Aerie. Neskegow is the capital, largest city and principal port of the nation, located on the western bank of the River Thunder. It contains the royal palace, the seat of the Diet, and the infamous Seven Towers prison. Alamarkand is the kingdom's second largest city, and is famous for its covered market. It was the winter residence of the Vallarian royal court, and later the capital of the Northern Vallarian Kingdom after the Griffon coup in the south. Randegow in the northwest is the center of trade with Leturia. The University of Randegow is also an important cultural and religious center, and the chief center of Lilist scholarship in the Aerie.
Government and Politics
Griffon's Aerie has a monarchial form of government ruled by a king who is the highest arbiter of the Lil in the kingdom, and thus the apex of legal and religious authority. The Neskibi Dynasty has held the throne since the Griffon conquest over five centuries ago.
The Diet is an ancient institution that carried over from the Vallarian kingdom because the Griffons controlled a majority of the seats in the Diet before they seized power. The Diet is assembly of land owners who have the power to approve taxation and confirm the royal succession by "electing" the new king. Though this is a mere formality in most cases, the Diet has used its powers in the past to wring concessions out of kings and curb their excesses.
- 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.
- rewop = 7 karos. A gold bar issued under Rewop. These were used principally for the delivery of taxes to Rewop's Castle; those that somehow entered private possession (i.e. through theft) have mostly been melted down into counterfeit kips. A rewop might purchase a village with an adjoining manor.
Notable Government Officials
King Karos V: Current monarch of the Aerie. Karos V is the nephew of Karos IV and succeeded to the throne after his assassination in the year 468. At first, a coalition of nobles ruled as Regents before Karos came of age. They are beginning to discover that the young King is neither as foolish or as easily controlled as they initially believed.
Nikea of the Sainted Maple: The Restara and Queen of the Aerie.
Thanks to its policy of conscription, the Aerie boasts an impressive military presently in service to King Karos V. Members of the military are generally referred to as Griffonguards (informally: Griffguards). A griffon salutes by raising his wings. One special rank in the Griffonguard is that of "Sqaqraa," a position which involves an odd mixture of military and administrative duties in the eastern borderlands. The Sqaqraa commands five thousand troops.
Main Article: Lilism
The leading center of Lil interpretation is the University of Randegow, founded in 376. This establishment resembles a cross between a law school and a theological seminary. The Lil is thus used as a basis for both moral guidance and secular administration of justice, and an enormous secondary body of literature has grown up around its proper analysis. Libraries of these meticulous studies exist in all the major cities in buildings known as the Halls of Justice, which function both as courts of law and as places where citizens may ask trained Lilists for advice on personal problems. The Lil has therefore a total sort of power over the inhabitants of the Aerie: its authority extends from punishing high treason to encouraging young griffonettes to eat their peas, from hearing murder cases to advising those with marital or financial problems. The king is the highest authority regarding interpretation of the Lil but rarely exercises this power.
The Lil is also supplemented by a number of cults -- groups which have certain regular rituals and rites of passage, usually performed by their priests. A griffon who does not follow a cult in addition to the Lil is known as a Pempid. The most important and powerful cult in Griffon's Aerie is the Rastra. This is the group to which King Karos belongs, and it enjoys special privileges as a result. Membership in the Rastra can only be bestowed by a ritual known as the Junco Celebration while the initiate is still in the egg. Priests of this cult sport a silver-tipped beak.
Griffons are incredibly superstitious creatures, and as such, great superstition also surrounds the semi-mythical figure of the White Griffon. Known as the Restara, one is born once every two hundred years to commune with the Restara's dryad counterpart, the Sainted Maple. The egg of the Holy One is thought to be specially marked with a pattern of crescents, alerting the parents of the great gift they are to expect. The Restara is deemed a fount of wisdom, second only to the words of the sacred Lil. There is in fact a white griffonette alive at present; she is Nikea of the Sainted Maple, and her sympathy for humans is an embarrassing issue the nobles of the Griffon Court spend a great deal of time attempting to cover up.
Society and Peoples
Main Article: Griffons
"Griffon" technically refers to the male of the species; a "griffoness" is a female, and a "griffonkit" or "kit" refers to a child. The griffons of Griffon's Aerie are sentient creatures with plumage that comes in a wide variety of colors. Naturally, they have the head, talons, wings and breast of an eagle and the hindquarters of a lion. A griffon's tail is feather-tipped; griffons sometimes treat the feathers to be razor-sharp for use in whipping.
Griffons generally stand six to eight feet at the shoulder; griffonesses are slightly smaller. Their vision is piercing and they are formidable in combat. However, this is not the only form they will take, thanks to their relationships with dryads. The most striking effect of this relationship is the ability the dryad confers on the griffon to change forms. By calling upon his dryad, a griffon is able to change shape into a "mixed" form -- they will appear as an eagle-eyed human graced with a large pair of wings. Griffons can also take a completely human form, although they do not do this often; they cannot hold full human form for long, continuous periods of time
Griffons are highly resistant to magic of any sort, although they are vulnerable to psionics, and magic may be used indirectly upon griffons (for example, in flinging objects at them). Only the most formidable of spell casters stand a chance of their arcana affecting a griffon. With their extreme magic resistance, griffon mages are unheard of. Instead, griffons enjoy scientific pursuits; indeed, griffon engineering is extremely advanced, and their medicine is also quite sophisticated.
- "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 Lil!" or "By the branch!" or "By the Holy Maple!" (utterances of surprise)
Two systems of writing exist in Griffon's Aerie: pictographic griffon glyphs and a phonetic script based on the earlier written language of the human population. Similarly, the Griffons have two languages, one an ancient language of bird cries spoken in their natural form which is almost impossible for humans to reproduce without magical aid, and another that is a blend of Vallarian and the language that the dryads taught the first sentient Griffons. This language is used for all government and religious business. Common is spoken in most parts of Griffon's Aerie, and the ancient griffon language proper is used very rarely (generally between soldiers for battlefield communication). It might almost qualify as a near-dead language.
Naming conventions in Griffon's Aerie are a legacy of the ancient kingdom of Vallaria, and Aerie humans and griffons alike follow them. Vallarian families follow paternal lines. As such, it is customary for males to use their family name. In the case of griffonesses, who belong ultimately to the family into which they've mated, they usually identify themselves by their tree. (Examples: Plessea of the Strong Willow; Selena of the Blue Spruce; Seriesha of the Juniper's Jounce.) This is not so for Aerie human women, who obviously have no trees by which to name themselves.
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."