Orel
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Capitol: Ordana (population: 78,000)
Population: 3,277,000 (76% Thann, 10% Aerynn, 7% Ralani, 4% Eloysians, 3% other)
Demi-humans: 232,000 (60% dwarves, 22% elves, 7% halflings, 11% gnomes)
Humanoids: few
Government: Monarchy (currently ruled by the Korannen Dynasty)
Current Leader: King Lorien Korannen II
Coat of Arms: a halved field of bright red and dark blue, with a golden crown above a white sailing ship in the center.
Exports: trade goods from Bronze Coast, ships, mercenaries, cloth, metal goods, crafts


Commonly called the 'Gateway to Corwyn,' Orel is a land obsessed by wealth, the mercantile capitol of the continent of Corwyn, and the richest nation in the Heartlands region.

This wealth has accrued for one simple reason; the Orellian merchants are in a unique position to obtain a percentage of all trade goods that go in or out of one of their five gigantic seaports.

Here, one can find bustling markets filled with trade goods from across the continents of: Corwyn, Avokhar, Za'har; as well as the Seven Cities of Brass, and the island nations of Al'Kethai, Ilsenene, Malvatis, Rhaygos, and Styr.

Because of Orel's enviable position as the essential 'middle-man' in sea trade, the merchants of Orel have become obscenely wealthy over the centuries.

Borders


Orel’s northern borders with Alveron are the enormous Trusk Mountains; its southern border is the Bloody Coast, along both the Gulf of Alesard and the Sea of Orel. The kingdom’s eastern borders with Gwynne are the Cimbar Hills and its western borders with the Elven nation of Melinarë are the jagged Forlorn Mountains. Orel patrols her eastern borders much more heavily than the others, for the kingdom maintains with good relations with its northern and western neighbors. Only Gwynne is considered a hostile power.

Politics


The current ruler of Orel is King Lorien II, who is the 21st ruler of the distinguished Korannen Dynasty. But behind the scenes, the kingdom is actually controlled by the powerful Oramar Assembly; the most richly detailed and complex chain of nobility of any kingdom on the continent. Politically, the kingdom is divided into 36 Grand duchies and 152 baronies. Today, many believe the monarchy is nothing but a figurehead for the common folk. This is not entirely true, for the Orellian Crown maintains exclusive control over the army and navy, and all members of the Oramar pay tribute.

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Military


For its protection, Orel maintains a small, but professional standing army of 12,000 soldiers; made up of light cavalry, heavy infantry, and its famous Kreskan Archers. But in times of war, the Kingdom can muster well over 75,000 troops, due to both noble contingents and hired mercenaries. Orel has never been a military power on land, and has few fortifications, they include: Castle Arianna, Lady Ophelia’s Keep, and Wymerly Keep.

However, The kingdom is the leading sea power on Corwyn; boasting the largest navy in the West, with 79 heavy warships and hundreds of smaller vessels in its service. Orellian warships are easily identified by their armored teakwood hulls; painted dark blue and trimmed with bright red, and their white silk sails. To project her power globally, the Orellian navy even maintains scattered bases in other realms and on various island chains.

Climate


Most of the realm is made up rolling hills, sharp valleys, and grassy, high, windswept plains. The climate of Orel is usually warm and humid because of its southern location, although the cool winds off the Sea of Orel give the coastal regions a comfortable climate all year. Only in the hottest summer months is the climate unbearably humid.

Life & Society


Most Orellians make their living through some sort of mercantile enterprise. If anything, Orel is a nation of wealthy merchants and traders, and here; everything and anything is for sale. The standard of living is far better than in any other country in the West, and the opulent palaces and villas of the Oramar boast the fabulous wealth of the country.

The four major Orellian seaports along the Vhan Myr Coast are thriving centers of trade, and most of Orel’s population lives in or depends on these cities for livelihood. Orel’s wealth and prosperity derives from its strategic location, as it becomes the middle-man for all incoming goods from Avokhar and Za'har, and all outgoing Corwynian goods.

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About the only home-made products the Orellian produce are their famous ships, with golden teakwood hulls and sturdy rigging. Orellian carracks are sold to nations all around the world to ply sea lanes and weather violent storms. Orel also exports its experienced seamen and marines as mercenaries, a task for which they are well suited. Other than trade routes and a few scattered fruit groves, rural Orel is no different than any other western nation of the Heartlands.

Orellian Banking


One of the prime sources of wealth for Orel is its banking industry. Each of the five largest Orellian cities has its own "Exchange;" an enormously complex and important clearing house for merchants and traders of every stripe.

Along with these commercial enterprises came the need for commercial credit, which led to the rise of the great banking houses. There is one for each city; they are the Terici, the Avenado, the Barzeni, the Mercia, and the Oparis.

Each bank makes obscene profits on both loans and speculation on merchant futures, such as crops explorations, and commodities trade. the banks also have the authority of the state behind them, should anyone default. Today, the five Orellians banks are united into a huge, powerful organization known as the Divitas Banking Syndicate.

Geography


Blackspur Hills: small hilly region which stretches east to the western banks of the Amador River. the fortress of Lady Ophelia’s Keep is located in this region.

Cimbar Hills: large wooded hilly region located in far eastern Orel.

Gulf of Alesard: deep basin that runs west from the Sea of Orel. At the northern mouth of the Gulf is the Orellian city of Ormath, and deeper within its recesses is the smaller city of Olthad. The Gulf is home to the enormous shipbuilding empire of Orel.

Important Sites


Castle Arianna: Magnificent fortress that serves as the royal seat of the Orellian Monarchy, located on a tall hill overlooking the city of Ordana. Within the castle is the Gilded Throne.

Ekkryn Sound: Site of the largest naval battle in Corwyn history, which took place in 371/5.

Eslynne Keep: Large southern military outpost of Orel, near the border with Eldara.

Golden Throne: The royal seat of Orel, located in the Great Hall of Castle Arianna.

Heath's Dike: Site of a bloody battle in 1287/4, considered the turning point in the War of Annexation.

Lady Ophelia’s Keep: Large eastern border outpost in northern Orel, guarding the border with Alveron.

Morathad: (population: 57,000) Massive seaport and second-largest Orellian city; currently ruled by Grand Duke Avon Verigo.

Naskan Bay: Site of a crucial naval battle which took place in the year 1264/4.

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Olthad: (population: 36,000) Fourth largest Orellian city, and important base for the Orellian Navy; currently ruled by Grand Duke Athar Haskin..

Oramar Road: Trade route running west from the junction with the Stoneway at the fortress of Westgard Keep, west to the city of Ordana.

Ordana: (population: 78,000) Capitol and largest seaport of Orel; currently governed by Grand Duke Eldard Avenhar.

Ormath: (population: 43,000) third largest Orellian city; currently governed by Grand Duke Orlen Accardi.

Ossenfort: Site of a crucial battle which took place in the year 38/4, which ended the Twilight War.

Stonehedge: Site of a bloody battle in 1254/4, which ended the Second Eldaran Civil War.

LOCAL HISTORY


The Kingdom of Orel arose from a long tradition of greed, mercantile enterprise, and enlightened self-interest. To understand present-day Orellians, one must know their long and storied history.

Early History: The Rise of the Orellian City-States


In the Late Third Age, what is today the present kingdom of Orel first developed into a series of city states. The excellent strategic position of these cities along the coast of the South Sea made Thannish naval and commercial power almost invulnerable. With the elimination of pirate threat from the Ceratine Islands, the five city-states became flourishing trade centers between Western Corwyn and the lands of the East and Far East.

The Orellian city-states seized several large tracts of territory on the western shores of the Sea of Orel before 1200, mostly for commercial reasons, because pirates based there were a menace to trade routes. The City leaders already carried the titles of "Exarch." Later mainland possessions, which extended as far south as the Melinar forest, were known as the "Territories", and were acquired partly as a buffer against belligerent neighbors, partly to guarantee safe trade routes, and partly to ensure the supply of mainland wheat, on which the cities depended. By the Late Third Age, the five city-states banded together in the Oramar Confederacy; a loosely affiliated alliance of coastal cities.

In building its maritime commercial empire, the city-states dominated the trade in salt and spices, acquired control of most of the island chains in the Towering Sea; including the Ceratine , Voltras, and the Dharaval, and soon became a major power-broker in the region. By the standards of the time, the Oramar stewardship of its mainland territories was relatively enlightened and the citizens of such smaller settlements of Seaforth and Ravenscar rallied to the defense of its sovereignty when the region was threatened by invaders.

The Oramar remained closely associated with the elves of Highforest, being granted exclusive trading privileges in the region, through the so-called "Chrysalis Treaty." For centuries, the Confederacy was also known as the "Duchies of the Archipelago."

Situated on the Bloody Coast, the city-states always traded extensively with the east, far east, and the Seven Cities of Brass. By the late 13th century, the Confederacy was the most prosperous nation in all of Corwyn. At the peak of its power and wealth, it had 50,000 sailors operating 5,000 ships, dominating sea-borne commerce. Its leading families vied with each other to build the grandest palaces and support the work of the greatest and most talented artists.

Each Orellian city is governed by the Oramar Council, which is made up of members of the noble families of that city. The Great Council appoints all public officials and elects a junior council of 200 to 300 individuals.

Since this group became too large for efficient administration, a High Council called the "Decemvirate;" made up of ten-members, controls much of the administration of the kingdom

One member of the great council was elected "Exarch" the chief executive, who usually held the title until his death; although several such rulers were forced by pressure from their oligarchical peers to resign and retire into monastic seclusion when they were felt to have been discredited by political failure.

The government structure was similar in some ways to a republic, with an elected chief executive (the Exarch), a senate-like assembly of nobles called the Oramar, and a mass of citizens with limited political power, who originally had the power to grant or withhold their approval of each newly elected Exarch. Temples and various private properties were also tied to military service, although there was no conscription within the kingdom itself.

Subjugation by Valden the Conqueror


For centuries, the Oramar Confederacy had thrived in its extremely profitable mercantilism. But the rule of the Exarchs was about to change forever. By 1170 of the Third Age, the Barony of Dureth under its ruler; Valden Durethë, was expanding control over the entire Heartlands region. The Oramar was never a great military power, and the Exarchs instead wisely negotiated a treaty with Valden. They gave up autonomy in exchange for several important concessions on control of trade. The five city-states submitted to Valden’s rule. This turned out to be a prudent decision, for the Oramar avoided a costly and bloody military campaign, which they would have undoubtedly lost, while at the same time, retained local control and a large share of the profits.

War for Independence


Orel had long been part of the larger kingdom of Eldara. By 1246/4, discontent among the Oramar started to grow. The Oramar, were led by a powerful noble named Duke Rygar Alesard, who knew that Ordana and its sister cities along the coast were the most profitable and wealthy of all the Duchies of Eldara, but were also the most heavily taxed. With the ailing royal court in Eldarand, and the vast riches of her sea-trade, the city of Ordana declared itself independent from Eldara and several other coastal duchies joined her revolt.

The King of Eldara at that time; Hagar Durethë II was determined not to allow his most profitable territories to break away and a bitter civil war ensued. For three long bloody years, Eldara was rocked by a second, bloody civil war. Rygar was ultimately victorious at the Battle of Stonehedge in 1248/4, and soon established the new kingdom of Orel with himself as the first monarch.

Rygar’s War


Within a few short years, the young kingdom under the Alesard Dynasty was soon under attack by her rival Thûle, who sought to conquer the fledgling kingdom and control her resources. This conflict, called Rygar’s War, lasted from 1273-1274/4, and the final Battle of Naskan Bay was the first of long series of humiliating naval defeats for the Thûlians.

The Incursion Wars


The Orellians grew stronger and wealthier by the year after defeating their Thûlian rivals. From 1256 thru 1279/4, the Orellians sent its armies as part of an alliance with Alveron, Eldara, and Rhodara to defeat the hated Vilzari and end the Incursion Wars. Orellian forces helped defeat the Vilzari at the fateful battle of Relanoth in 1279/4.

War of Annexation


Only four short years later; the Rhodaran king Gayorg invaded Orel in 1283/4, The War of Annexation cost Orel dearly; she lost many soldiers, ships, as well as Rygar’s son; King Robar. After that war ended, Orel has never again engaged in land combat, instead relying on her powerful navy for defense of the seas.

Wars Against Thûle


Orel’s later history was not entirely peaceful, as she has historically had to fight for control over the Sea of Orel, and the command of the Vhan Myr Ocean. Beginning in the Fifth Age, the Orellians have often been forced to wrest control of the sea lanes from their Thûlian rivals. The first of these conflicts was the First Sea War, which took place between 370- 371/5. Orel was ultimately victorious at the Battle of Ekkryn Sound, but the Orellian King Royce III was lost at sea, ending the Alesard Dynasty. The Oramar chose the noble House Xantheras to succeed the Alesard line, under its first king; Balthizar. It is said that with this succession began the waning power of the Orellian monarchy, along with the ascension of the Oramar as the supreme ruling power in Orel. By 440/5, the Thûlians were again threatening Orellian naval interests. For the next two years the two fleets hammered away at each other until the Thûlian fleet was finally cornered and destroyed at the Battle of Thronar Islands in 445/5. With this stunning victory in the Second Sea War, Orel entered a period of complacency. The Thûlians only bided their time. In 523/5, the Thûlian navy surprised a large Orellian naval squadron and destroyed it, beginning the Third Sea War. It wasn’t until 525/5 that the Thûlian navy was finally crushed, and Orellian losses were extremely high. This was the last conflict between Orel and Thûle for many centuries.

In the late fifth century of the Fifth Age, Sorimmar began to sow dissension between Orel and his nemesis, the Ravinian Empire. A series of sharp economic dispute gradually led to outright fighting in the Merchant’s War of 594-596/5. Even the mighty military of Orel was hard pressed by the gigantic power of the Empire, and for a time it seemed Orel was doomed. But in a daring move, the Orellians sent a large fleet south around the Cape of Black Ice and back north up the Wyn Myr into the Sea of Ralas, where it surprised and annihilated the entire Imperial southern fleet. The battle of Montero Straits ended the fighting and secured an Orellian victory, but the bitterness that remained meant that the Oramar would never allow the entry of Orel into the Ravinian Empire.

Orel was spared the brutal slaughter of the Cataclysm, but it suffered financial disaster as a byproduct of the carnage. As the Sixth Age began, Orel had peace until 381/6, when it was again attacked by Thûle in the Fourth Sea War. This time the Orellians struck back ferociously, destroying the Thûlian capitol at the Battle of Durendar in 384/6. The Thûlians again tried to conquer Orel in 485/6, but this time it was nature that defeated them, not the Orellians. The so-called War of Storms lasted from 485-491/6, and saw the entire Thûlian fleet destroyed by terrible storms and gales.

Much of the Orellian fleet was lost as well, along with King Agathar II, the last monarch of the Xantheras Dynasty. The Oramar appointed King Brynthar Zheren to rule the country and for a time Orel enjoyed peace and tranquility. This peace was shattered when Morgoth invaded the West in 670/6 beginning the War of Crows. Orel fought on the side of the West, and defeated the enemy naval forces in the Battle of Morathad in 674/6. After the War of Crows ended, Orel began to enjoy peace again, but not for long. In 729/6, Üthrar and Thûle allied together and invaded the country. The War of the Broken Crown was long and bloody, and saw the entire city of Ormath destroyed. During this terrible siege, King Bryce Zheren was slain and his dynasty ended.

King Larkin Korannen succeeded the Zheren family, and since then, the kingdom has been ruled by his family. Since that time, the Orellians have engaged in an ever-increasing domination of the eastern seas. The last conflict with Thûle was little over 25 years ago, called Lady Jeyne’s War. This latest war raged from 1210-1211/6 and resulted in another humiliating defeat for Thûle.

For Orellians, war has always been regarded as a continuation of commerce by other means; hence, the kingdom's long use of large numbers of mercenaries for service elsewhere, and later its reliance on those same foreign mercenaries when the ruling class was preoccupied with commerce.

Orellian ambassadors have always served a crucial role in the kingdom, by sending home secret reports regarding the politics and rumors of competing cities and nations; providing sensitive, inside information to both the monarchy and the Oramar.