(This text, excluding the last paragraph, was used as an intro to Arcadia on the original TLJ website.)
In my many years as a Travelling Poet and Bard, I have journeyed far and wide across the fair Realm of Arcady, and I have seen sights most people have not dreamed. I have stood on the magnificent and terrible Southern Capes in the midst of Winter, when the storms are at their fiercest, while waves as tall as the towers of Altaban washed over my frozen body. I have witnessed the monstrous beasts that lurk in those dark and deadly waters of the South swallow brave galleons whole, Creatures the size of mountains that with a flick of a tail can touch the depths of the Sea and the Stars themselves. I have crossed the Great Ocean from North to South, and from East to West, and in the course been stranded on desert islands, with no sustenance but what I could gather from the sparse vegetation, for months at a time.
I have ridden the giant Elgwan across Ch'Angagriel, the Wasteland, from Altaban to Monterba, and further South where the Terukh, the Oasis, are few and far between, and I have seen the shifting dunes above the ruins of Gorimon, precious Jewel of the Bakshevan Empire, concealed for Centuries by the coarse and treacherous sand. And I have journeyed Far West, carried on good will and Destiny by Shadow Ships, to the strange and unknown cliffs of a World unseen by most, a World of an unfamiliar Tongue and customs, a World of Great Wonder and Mysticism.
I have seen all this, and more, but the fairest sights still I have seen in the Lands of the North, from Ayrede to the Border Mountains, from Tyren to the Bay of Fire. No sight can ever compare to dawn at Mount Tireney, looking out to the Plains of Nehdrah where wild Stallions run free in the Thousands. And to look on the city of Corescent, the Pearl of Fire, while the boiling sun sets in the Ocean beyond, the slow waves reflecting dark yellow and red as they lap slowly upon the sandy shores, is an experience truly treasured and ne'er forgotten. These Lands are blessed by the Creator, shaped by men, yet wild and free and fertile, home to the greatest cities, the most precious sights and the most cultured and civilised people in Arcady. Of all the fires I have rested my weary legs by, of all the taverns where I have learned the legends of tale-spinners and memorised the songs of Bards, of all the lands where I have wandered from city to village, it is to the Northlands I return time and time again to learn ever more.
Join me now, for I will evoke in you the very emotions I first experienced when visiting the sights and treasures of the Northern Lands. Join me, and I will surely bring you there, to the exotic midst of this blessed land, and you will pine for its rugged coast and green woods and its hardy people, and like me, you will ne'er rest until you can return to yonder shores.
"Oh, Marcuria, thou unkempt diamond, Of Capitals thou art by truth the fairest!
Thy Council many seek, for knowledge Kept within is Centuries sought and gathered
By men wiser than the Ages, brought hither
By word of mouth.
Marcuria, changed thou not the course of War
Between thine people? Diplomat, Wise Man, Magician; all this, and more.
Thou hast without equal, The mark of Merit and Virtue."
(Written by Jemein Urthrin, the Poet)
The august Capital of Ayrede, the Unified Country, Marcuria lies on the hardy Southern coast of the Northlands, halfway between Tyren and Corescent. It is a port of call for merchants, traders, adventurers and pilgrims from all four Continents. A place of commerce and diplomacy for millions of humans and and other species.
Ayrede is a strong and proud land perched between the Plains of Nehdrah to the north, the land of the Tyren to the west, the Great Sea to the south and the forests of the Northlands to the east, and inhabited by humans, Dolmari, Tyren, Mole-people and Vener. Ayrede was formed after Marcuria emerged as a major centre for diplomacy and trade, and became the banner under which the surrounding lands united as one. Ayrede is a democracy, currently led by the Chief Council of the Ayrede Flag, Lord Ygvan Dellan. The High Council, composed of the ministers who govern by representation, resides in the Hall of Assembly in Marcuria, flanked by the Palace and the barracks. The Ayredese are traditionalists, and their form of government has barely changed over the last few millennia. In High Tongue, Ayrede means unification, or assembly.
Marcuria is one of the largest cities of Arcadia, the capital of Ayrede, and a centre for trade, diplomacy and cultural diversity. Populated by a large variety of races, from human to Vener, Marcuria has grown from its origins as the birthplace of humanity to a city of all Arcadians, and the hub of the civilised world.
Founded twenty thousand years ago at the shore of the then unconquerable ocean, it is the first known permanent settlement of the emerging human race. Initially left to its own devices by more developed races, Marcuria grew large and fat and wealthy. With new-found confidence, it passed through a period of expansion which gained it a reputation as a merciless aggressor, which soon brought violent attention from the Tyren in the west and the Dolmari in the north. After years of war, Marcuria was decimated and subsequently rebuilt with sufficient reinforcements to weather attacks from both sea and land. Peaceful times followed, whereupon Marcuria settled into the role it has in today's Arcadia. Although all surrounding areas fall under its jurisdiction, there is sufficient self-governing and few central taxes to appease all but the most disgruntled. The huge areas of farmland around the city benefit from the well-kept roads, markets and the busy export to other lands.
Nearby villages benefit from the military might of Marcuria, protecting them against roving barbarians and Tyren armies. And Marcuria also provides the people of the Northlands with one of the best and busiest ports in Arcadia, allowing travel to distant destinations around the world.