“We were ousted from the capitol some two years ago; Aislin's brother deposed her as empress of Highbirth. It's time to take back our land. Forgive me, my name is Endry Blade. You don't need to know how old I am. I was a blademaster and captain of the Empress' guard. I still am, I suppose. Aeric Highbirth, having no place as the heir of the country, was given to a coven of wizards for training. The second in line for succession was always the court mage. However, his lust for power drove him to... Remove... his sister from office in her 113th year, a short span for an elven woman like her, a long one for a man that is only half. The empress survived, if only because I was prepared for his treachery. I had seen him on numerous occasions sitting on her throne in the early morning, before she returned from her night of meditation, hands peaked in contemplative thought. I had seen him giving sacks of gold to regular guardsmen. I had been given reports from my own men that he had tried to bribe them. And so, the night he had planned to kill her I took her through a secret passage way, and out of the castle. Two years. Two years of careful planning, and I am tired. Aislin doesn't know the risk I'm going to take, she doesn't know I'm going. I'm going to need some help.” Factions: There are a few reasons leading to the dissent and penultimate betrayal of Aeric Highbirth. Eleven years prior the City-state and namesake of the imperial family was a bustling, prosperous country. It had about ½ of both Darakh and Anglimar's territories. That is, until war was called on both fronts. The only known motive was greed. Although the Highbirth empire should have won, the general, Cal Dyrenian--an established tactical genius--led them to ruin. Cal's folly was of course blamed upon the empress Aislin, who ultimately decided whether his strategy had merit. She, however was not a born war-time leader, and didn't expect that his plans wouldn't work. That was the point. Aeric Highbirth had always thought that he should lead the empire, being as he was male and the 'sole' legitimate male in the line. As a note: all men born in the line after him were stillbirth, while the elders died of 'natural' causes. It didn't help that he was naturally charismatic, being that his half-elven/half-human blood appealed to both races, as well as his way with words. He ascended to the position of court mage when he was only fifteen, four years before Cal's Folly. By age nineteen his lust for a higher position became his sole goal, using magics to win over the 'genius' general's mind. These facts are not known to either Aislin Highbirth or Endry Blade. the elf lands: The Strife of the Elf-Lands. The immediate north is a lush forest, inhabited by numerous creatures. Further still north is the Elf Plains, home to a nomadic tribe of elves. They have no formal government, and are in effect, barbarians. Though most live to be age five hundred, they refuse to learn the advanced sciences and alchemies harbored by the humans, gnomes, and other races of intelligence. Very few learn to read and write, and those that do have a tendency to learn only the basics. Their beliefs in totems and the various magics of the wild give them no need of it, combined with their use of vocal storytelling to pass on history. They refuse to believe in the gods above (and below), and instead put their faith into their ancestors and the totem-spirits, Although more civilized peoples find totem-spirits archaic and ancestors as beneath notice, it is not far from right that their totem-magic and such truly works. Barren Ester Lands: Far to the east, just beyond the cavern-wastes, lives another fellowship of elvish peoples. These, in contrast to their barbaric brothers up north, have embraced technology and all it's mechanic wonders. Alchemy is below interest to them, as they do not believe it to be a 'science' at all. Mage-craft is generally disdained as well, reason being that scholars of the arcane arts don't produce much to society. The elves of the Barren Lands are an atheist nation, held together by a brutal democracy. Women are below men, homosexuality is alright as long as you are male, you can have sex with anyone you want with permission from their spouse (if they are female). Outsiders have no formal rights, cannot own land, but can rent a building and set up a shop. There is a yearly tax for foreigners of 20% of their total yearly earnings.