The Broken Empire
The Queendom of Leone
The Queendom of Leone sits at the center of the Broken Empire, occupying the lion’s share of the Heartlands. The country is composed largely of great expanses of farm country framed in by the Misty Mountains and the Mountain Home of the Dwarves in the west, the empty expanses of the Cartlahain Grass in the northwest, the Free Territories in the northeast, the Kingdom of Avara in the east, the Kingdom of Burgundy in the southwest and the Lawless Lands in the southeast. Its great size only works to bring attention to its tanist monarchy and cognatic inheritance – both of which set the Queendom apart from its neighbors.
Life, Society, and Culture
Leone is a human nation through and through – though other races certainly do find their way into the country, they are marginalized and curiosities anywhere except the capitol. Children crowd the riverside when ships pass through, hoping to catch a glimpse of one of the Illianer halflings – and dream of exploring the forests in hopes of stumbling on a gnomish (or Elvish!) clan that will adopt them and teach them of their mysterious ways. The country as a whole views other races as curios: they’ve had no real reason to distrust or hate them – especially not with the barbarian Burgandians and backstabbing Avarrans on their doorstep.
The people of Leone have prospered for more than a century under internal peace and stability, and are consequently a happy and generous people. The near-constant border wars and bandit raids coming from their neighbors (with the notable exclusion of the Dwarves of Manetheren and the Free Territories) has left them disdainful of foreigners that might’ve come from those lands – and their generosity and pleasant mood both drain rapidly in their presence.
The people of Leone are free and largely safe, and they know it. Consequently, they dwell in open villages and build their homes of thatch and timber with wide windows. They favor simple utilitarian clothes in the colors of their local lord: Tunics and Trousers for men, and dresses with hose for women – knee-length long coats and gowns constitute formal wear. Hooded cloaks for both men and women are worn in both rainy and cold weather. Leonites prefer understated ornamentation: scrollwork around cuffs and collars, delicate chain necklaces and band rings displaying a single stone (or none at all) are all common.
In the cities, colors vary a great deal more than in the country – with only those serving a noble’s household, or visiting from an estate, wearing his colors – and most others wearing the colors of the noble they like the most (or just like the colors of). Nobles and wealthier citizens of Leone tend to dress similarly to the commoners, though more often in formal wear, with the only difference being in material: silk and cotton in the place of wool, gold or silver thread for scrollwork, etc. Nobles also tend to display their family crest on their breast.
The people of Leone aren’t particularly pious, nor do they ignore the gods. Each village will typically have a single shrine to the Light while towns usually build a good sized temple dedicated to the Light. Only its cities have dedicated shrines to the individual gods, in addition to the bigger temples of the Light. Worship of the Shadow is illegal in Leone, but whispers of secret places were one can beg the Dark Gods for mercy permeate even the smallest of villages. Seasonal festivals are week-long affairs customarily dedicated to the Light (though the gods are usually the last thing on anyone’s mind during them) where everyone turns out to share in good food and community.
In Leone the elevation to manhood or womanhood is a matter determined by the local Elder’s Council (for boys) or Women’s Circle (for girls). It usually comes at or just after the onset of puberty, when the individual has proven their maturity and responsibility to their seniors. While young, both boys and girls keep their hair shorn short, and once elevated they let it grow long (men cutting it at shoulder-length, greasing it back, women to mid-back). Marriage is expected within a few years of elevation to man/womanhood; and many times a village will elevate their young in pairs (a communal form of arranged marriage) – at which point men are allowed to grow beards (short and trimmed is the custom) and women are allowed to braid their hair.
Law and Leadership
Leone is a Queendom with a Tanist monarchy – each successive queen is elected from the females of the ruling house by the Counts and Dukes of the court upon the former queen’s death. Though there is always a Queen and never a King, the heir of the other noble houses are always the high seat’s eldest child, regardless of gender (there are as many Dukes as Duchesses). Similarly, among the smallfolk the eldest child always inherits when both parents are dead (the spouse is first in line).
Nominally, each village and farmstead is under the rule and protection of a local Baron; who himself is under the rule and protection of his Count; who in turn is under the rule and protection of a Duke – who are then sworn to and protected by the Queen. The vast majority of the time, a house will hold multiple titles: Dukes have counties under their direct administration while Counts have their own baronies.
A great deal of power is invested in the hands of Elder’s Councils and Women’s Circles – whose membership is elected by the married men and women respectively in a community. In towns and cities these communities may include a few blocks in a residential neighborhood, but encompass entire villages and the farmsteads tied to them in rural areas. Each Community has it’s own sheriff (who may deputize others if he needs help), agreed upon by both the Council and Circle, to enforce law and order.
Leone’s long history of powerful women and foundation by a legendary warrior-queen has directed its legal system towards gender-neutrality – unique in the Broken Empire. And all free men and women of Leone can both own property and ply any trade they wish (and are capable at). The Queendom does not practice serfdom, though taxes can sometimes be severe: the ruling noble, village/town/city, and the crown all exact a tithe (10%) from all productive services, agriculture, and industries under their rule – with each village’s elder’s council held accountable for assessing and collecting these taxes.
The laws of Leone run the usual gauntlet: murder, theft, contracts, etc. without stipulation about race or creed, though those magic-users taken and suspected of breaking the Laws of Magic are turned over to the Red Ajah. When a crime is committed, the local sheriff is charged with correcting it – and restraining those who become violent in the process. At any point, a Leonite can demand a trial if he disagrees with the Sheriff’s punishment. Trials are conducted by both the Women’s Circle and Elder’s Council simultaneously. They can choose to uphold the Sheriff’s punishment/repayment, impose a new punishment/repayment, or find the accused innocent. If the Circle and Council disagree, the trial is passed to the local noble for final judgment.
Local Groups and Internal Politicking
International Influence and Politicking
Relations with Neighboring Lands
Leone has close ties with the Free Territories in the northeast, or more specifically the White Tower of Nim Templa – with whom the royal family has long been allied. The children of the Royal House all receive an education at the tower itself – whether or not they ever show any magical talent – and Nim Templa always maintains an adviser at the Royal Palace.
The Dwarves of Manetheren to the west are strong trading partners and allies of Leone. The Leonite mining towns in the western hills give the Dwarves a wide berth, and for their part the Dwarves try to avoid mining surface veins. Squabbles to occur – when dwarven underground operations are penetrated by Leonite diggers; but treaty and policy in Barleon move quickly to tamp down any outright hostilities.
The Cartlahain Grass in the Northwest spawns nothing but bandits as far as Leone is concerned. From time to time Leone has claimed the Grass, sending patrols into its scattered villages – but rarely stay for long.
To the south lie the Lawless Lands and the Burgundians – both of which are constant thorns in the underside of the Queendom. Constant raids by ambitious Lords, rampaging warbands, and endless streams of bandits coming from the south have left the Leonites with nothing but contempt for their southern neighbors. The Queendom has, more than once, conquered territory from their southern neighbors – adding successive layers of “buffer country” between Leone and the south. In truth, the Lawless Lands are lawless because Leone broke the Kingdom that once stood there.
In the east lies Leone’s bitterest rival – the Kingdom of Avarra. Every generation fights at least one war with Avarra, and usually more than two. The east isn’t a land of bandits and raids – when the Avarrans come, they come at the head of armies. Minor lords are bought and bribed by the Avarrans with such frequency that the eastern border is never considered “fixed” in place. Relations with Avarra vary between thinly veiled hostility and open warfare – and the people of Leone wouldn’t shed a tear if every last one of them died.