Xilhiem

REGION M – The “Empire” of Xilhiem

History:
Geographically, Xilheim is one of the largest nations in the modern world. However, anyone with an accurate map would point out that this is because Xilheim itself occupies the one fairly small region of arable land to be found within a good thousand kilometers of it’s location in any direction. To the north of Xilheim lies the Sulbaki desert, an arid and parched sand-flat. To the south and beyond the Padorno Mountains where Xilheim rests is the Great Southern Tundra, where thorny scrub-lands quickly give way to vast frozen fields as one draws nearer the south pole.

With no convenient avenues for trade and very little land available to farm, Xilheim (which in the ancient days was called Halsfort) had always been a tiny, mostly-human and half-elven kingdom, to far from anywhere to be politically relevant and too inaccessible to be worth invading. It had been founded when a human noble eloped with an elven noble, and they had found themselves a peaceful place to build a kingdom together. The line of kings were long-lived, and the land was self-sufficient, if never prosperous. And so Halsfort existed, largely forgotten by the rest of the world.

That is, until the days before the Cataclysm, when the King of Halsfort received an invitation to attend the Conclave of the Elven Mage-kings. Honoured to be invited (and unaware that his invitation was mostly a formality), the king and his wife set out with an honour guard to attend, leaving their seventeen-year old only son to safeguard the kingdom until their return. History records them as lost to the Cataclysm, but little is known of when or how. What is much better documented, however, is what came next – a tale so rich that countless bards and playwrights have struggled to do it justice. It is the tale of Tymos, the first Emperor of Xilheim.

After the first few years of the war, the push to the south be refugees had over-whelmend the borders of the nearby kingdoms, and finally a desperate group of Elves braved the desert crossing, hoping to find a new home on the other side. When they arrived in Xilheim, they were not received warmly. The refugees has nothing but what they carried, and were desperately hungry. Fearful of being turned away, the Elves sent their finest envoy, an experienced courter of a noble house named Nalyndra to treat with the young king.

At twenty and never having been to a ‘real’ court, young king Tymos was utterly outclassed by the wiles of the high-elven woman, and her beauty left him plainly smitten. When she asked that he allow her people to settle in his lands, and that they be allowed to pay only the thinnest of taxes for a time (“that they might have time to prosper”) the young king made his most amateurish mistake – he made the only condition that she agree to marry him and be his queen. She agreed, delighted to secure her own place in the kingdom and to insure her people would always have the King’s ear. And so the elves were given a province at the foot of the mountain to the northwest, and allowed to settle.

And then, not quite a year later, another mass of refugees arrived from across the desert, hungry and bereft. These came from Lordosi, which had fallen apart following the Cataclysm and was now at war on many fronts. As king Tymos’s line traced itself back to Lordosi, they had journeyed here seeking asylum. They sent as their representative a beautiful young woman named Alora who was a noble but whose family had lost everything. She threw herself upon the mercy of the King and Queen, asking for the same blessing that had been given the elves – land, and a brief reprieve from taxes until they had settled and could become industrious. Nalyndra counseled the king against it, but was forced to spar verbally with the wily young noblewoman. It was then that the noblewoman pointed out that the Elves currently had it better in the kingdom than the humans did, and that what the King really needed was a human wife to balance out the influence of his elven one.

And, history tells, his reply was to ask if she was volunteering. It is unclear exactly what motivated this reply, but suffice it to say that six months later the king had two wives, the human refugees now had a province, and the king had had not a moment’s peace.

It was then then the third group arrived. This time the party was mostly dwarves, and rather than being refugees these were the last survivors of one of the Mountainholds to the east, driven into the desert by the Vile. The envoy arrived – a dwarven woman named Ketha, pretty enough by human standards and obviously a hardened warrior. She announced the her people needed a place to re-settle and heal their wounds. The King tried to plead that they could support no more refugees, but Ketha replied that she hadn’t brought refugees, she’d brought a small army – one that the King was damned well going to need if the Vile every made it across the desert. She wanted the same deal the last two envoys had gotten. Then she commented offhand that since they couldn’t go back, their only other alternative if refused would be to invade.

The King agreed to give them lands up in the mountains, and Ketha was pleased, and said she looked forward to finally marrying and settling down. The King tried to politely decline, saying that two wives were plenty, but Ketha’s reply was that she wasn’t going to let two women who had run from the war set policy for her people without her right there beside them. And so the King gained his third wife.

Nearly a century passed before the half-elven king and his three wives were forced to welcome another, somewhat larger group of arrivals. A small army of Whyr arrived, and at the head of them came one of the most notorious generals on the continent, the Vulpenkynde woman known as Yasha the Crimson Fox. She explained that now the war had ended, her army was looking for a place to settle. They had heard that no-one lived in the colder reaches of their lands, and that the elk and seal hunting there was very enjoyable. Since her people were going to live somewhere that none of the rest of them really wanted, it seemed only fair that they ALSO pay the very low taxes that Tymos has been unable to convince his queens to raise.

And when Tymos asked what she planned to do with her retirement, her answer was simple – that she had killed over a thousand Vile with her own blade, and that was enough for one lifetime. She was ready to settle down and relax, and being a Queen in a small, peaceful country seemed like a good life. It was tradition, after all, that one of each tribe be married to the “Emperor”, was it not?

And so the Whyr came to their own provinces in the south. With a larger population, the extremely low taxes finally began to bring the treasury back to what it had been before the war started. And ever since, the “Empire” of Xilheim has been ruled by the eldest son of the king, who is married to a woman selected by each of the Provinces when he comes of age.

Government: The Emperor rules… with the permission of his various wives.

People from here are called: Xilan (jz-ill-an)
*
*Population:
… as above.
*
What is interesting about living here:*
None of the people here arrived with anything, and the people who were here already didn’t have much. Thus, even to this day it is just as likely that you will be bartering in the market as seeing coins change hands. Trade is mostly done by caravan, with great trains of pack-animals moving between the provinces in an effort to aid the flow of goods from place to place.

The simple truth is that life here is fairly hard. Everyone is living hand to mouth, for the most part, and since there is very little overall wealth there is very little of it for anyone to accumulate. In truth, even taxes are paid mostly in material goods, making the Emperor himself more of a merchant patron than a ruler in some respects. As in times of old, and despite its fame from bardic tales, many kingdoms practically forget that Xilheim exists.
Why are people from here traveling to the Forgotten Continent:
In truth, VERY few are. And those that do are mostly envoys from the Emperor himself. Officially, these envoys are looking for information about the final resting places of the last King and Queen of Halsfort. Unofficially, these envoys are looking for anything, be it a magic, a crop, or a political connection that could help their always-struggling country to get ahead in the world.

Xilhiem

The Forgotten Throne Starhunter