Nations and Places

Section 1: Nations

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Nations and Places

Table of Contents

Preface

A Map of the World

The Calendar of Gushémal

Section I: Nations

Section II: Places of Renown

 

Modayre

General Overview

Little is known of this land, not even in my own hometown of Chazevo. Only a scant few miles separate us from the Modayrean border, yet it might as well be an ocean. The people of this nation are a secretive kind, almost never venturing outside of their realm, almost never allowing visitors. There are only myths about them – but those are as plentiful as the items that the Modayreans produce.

It is a mystery in itself how the trade proceeds, but it exists, and it seems the only hard proof that Modayre itself exists. Everyone knows the firelighters, the fantastic little boxes that have replaced the match-and-tinder sets of old, and of many other devices that have been manufactured by the Modayreans. It seems the only trade they engage in is to deliver magical appliances to the outside world – specifically, only to trusted merchants here in Chazevo -, appliances that range from the utterly mondane to the incredible, such as the dragon rod, a weapon that can fire lightning. I myself have witnessed an appliance that could bring the dead back to life – something I would scarcely have believed before. There had been legends about such devices, yet only my own experience told me that there was truth to those tales.

The Modayreans apparently don’t know a limit to the appliances they produce, and a steep price they can command for them (which, I suppose, they do.) By virtue of commerce alone, they could probably rule the world. Looking at their weapons, they could most certainly enforce their rule.

Yet they never leave their abode of the rounded mountains, are content with the influx of their trade.

Myths have sprung up to explain this, legends that are as fanciful as they are diverse. Some of these may be true – but how can you tell the true from the false? There is no proof which is which!

What do we know about this land?

Modayre is close to the northern ocean, but does not border it directly. Its kernel is a range of mountains that forms a nearly perfect circle. There is no actual name for them; in Chazevo we commonly refer to the “rounded mountains” or the “Rocky Circle” when we speak of them. (I have found other appellations in old texts, but they seem to be fragments of other languages which mean the same as our colloquial words. It is possible, though, that one of those is the name used by the Modayreans themselves. Again, there is no way to ascertain this.) The mountains rise high enough to form a natural barrier for any who do not know a pass where to cross. They are also sufficiently tall that they can be seen and observed from a goodly distance. In fact, if I were to climb the highest tower of my own Darawk Academy, I could see the rounded mountains from here.

There is no way to reach the mountains. For one thing, a dense jungle surrounds them, growing for many miles in most directions (save that of Chazevo). It is a most challenging barrier, yet it would have been crossed long ago if it were not for other hindrances. Again, many legends tell of these obstacles – some claiming that there are monsters, some that the person to cross a certain threshold will be set aflame instantly, or turn to stone, or suffer some other kind of dreadful death.

A colleague of mine, Fraigue Conteral, has tried to verify these claims some ten years ago. (Actually his was one of the numerous attempts to reach the rounded mountains, but since he failed to do that, he has claimed without fail that he had only been interested in the jungle barriers. Who am I to contradict him?) He found none of the deathly traps of the legends. Instead he encountered an invisible wall in the jungle, in no way marked. It felt like the air had solidified, yet when he touched the wall, there was a tingle in his fingers. Otherwise it was unresponsive. Conteral observed the barrier for several days, noting that the forest animals could pass through it without any problem. But neither my colleague nor any of his companions nor their horses could cross the barrier. Conteral tried throwing items across it. Those natural to the jungle fell through it, but whichever items Conteral had brought with him were repelled by the barrier. (The only exception was the firelighter – but since it originally came from Modayre, this invisible wall apparently recognized it as one of its own.) It appears that this wall surrounds the rounded mountains in perfect circumference, allowing nobody to pass.

Neither my colleague nor any of the other travellers have ever found traces of the Modayreans themselves in the jungle, aside from this barrier or figments of imagination.

Is there any proof that the Modayreans still live in their old home? Or is it a ruse that they perpetrate? (That is one of the popular myths, that this people has left a long time ago and now live on an island before our coast. Visitors on this supposed island cannot recognize them as Modayreans, for their true abode lies underground. This disguise allows them to trade freely with the merchants of Chazevo since none would think that a ship carries their precious goods. Alas, the myth has been so popular that flocks of greedy treasure hunters have swarmed over the ships in our harbor to find the one that carries Modayrean wares. Also, pirates have tried the same scheme. In neither case has anything been found.)

But there are signs that people still live in Modayre. Now and then one can see glints and gleams on the rounded mountains, occasionally lightning flashes like the discharge of a dragon rod. These are rare occurrences, sometimes they happen once or twice a year.

Who are the Modayreans? Are they human beings, are they elves, or some other sentient race we have not yet encountered? Or are they demons or cherubim? Spirits? Or a mélange of all of those, living together?

Do they have a king? Or are they ruled in some other fashion?

There are indications of the latter. A select few merchants in my city trade with the Modayreans, and it can be assumed that these have met representatives of their race. At the very least they should have a better idea who and what the Modayreans are. Yet one cannot elicit more than the most vague comments from them – no doubt because any more would cost them their trading connection and the source of their wealth. But of these vague comments I can report one, made by a merchant named Tangrain. Whenever someone claims that Modayre is a kingdom, Tangrain invariably chuckles or looks ready to scoff the speaker – which of course he never does.

To my personal disfortune I know Tangrain rather well, and this seems to indicate that there is no king in Modayre, that their political system is far divorced from that of royalty. What exactly it is, I cannot say either.

Why do they never leave their home?

It is probably the greatest mystery of all why they have no contact at all with other peoples – except for those few merchants. Are they afraid? Do they despise us? We don’t know.

I shall only treat with this question by citing a song that we used to sing as children (and which can still be heard often to this day):

They do not leave,

Their hearts would cleave,

To good-bye their king who is ill,

That fresh air him would kill.

Of course this has no bearing at all on the true explanation, yet it shows how deep the mystery sits in our hearts. Even the children know of Modayre and wonder what could be there.

A curious offspring of this is that there are many fictional tales of people who have visited Modayre, such as the knight-errant Clairbold of Amaldis. Some are enjoyable to read, as the flights of fancy that they are, but to the scholar, they are completely meaningless.

In all probability we shall never learn more about Modayre, unless its people change their ideas about the outside world. And I do not know whether to look forward to such a change, or to fear the time when they leave their rounded mountains.