The lands of Nathar are mostly wilderness: forests, meadows, stone fields, rocks, rivers and lakes. Here and there, especially along the rivers, there are villages and towns of men, the surrounding forests having been cut down or burn-beaten for cultivation. These places are connected with roads that are often unsafe, but since the revolution, the main roads have usually been secured by imperial soldiers. Nathar is a remnant of the vast Empire of Nathos to which all towns of men belonged some centuries ago. Nathar is the greatest of the remaining realms, its south eastern neighbour Dantos being the second greatest. In the north, beyond the Wolf Sea, lies Gethar that guards the northern wilderness, and in the west, lies the dreaded island kingdom of Cruinne. In the south lie the abundant country of Eksos and the kingdom of Miran, famous for its wizards.
The Sea of Shadows is an inland sea on the north-eastern side of Nathar, on which shores are also the Dark Forest, Dantos, Gethar and the Badlands. Many trade and cargo ships sail on the Sea of Shadows and many trade routes cross it. Here and there on the shores of the Sea of Shadows there are trade places and towns, and on the north shore at the foot of the Gore Mountains there are also few mining villages and towns. Nathar has declared some of these its official colonies since it regards the whole region as its protectorate.
The Deep Strait between Gethar and Nathar separates the Sea of Cruinne from the Wolf Sea. It is a shipping channel with frequent traffic.
The Ador Strait is the thin strip of water on the northern side of Ador that separates the Wolf Sea from the Sea of Shadows.
On the Emperor’s rule
Sixteen years ago Nathar was ruled by King Aldrion VI the Wise. However, the seven-year reign came to a sudden end, when a mysterious nobleman and wizard –Zangavius – had the king killed, and seized power. Zangavius had a wide support among the nobility, and he reintroduced the old imperial title dubbing himself Emperor Zangavius I the Great.
The society is based on feudalism, which means that every village is governed by a count – usually a former knight who has received some land from his master. The villagers pay taxes to the count, who in exchange protects the villagers from outlaws, pyras, orcs and other monsters. Nowadays also the imperial army is powerful and defends the villages it stays in. In exchange, every man of age in every village has to serve in the army for five years.
Many people think the emperor is exactly what Nathar needs: a great ruler who will use his skill to raise Nathar into a new, more glorious bloom, an emperor, who can put things in proportion and who uses power with a heavy hand when it is necessary for the well-being of the empire. For these higher purposes people are prepared to grind their teeth and suffer the military service and high taxes. In return, they will have a country safe from intruders, and even better living conditions, for example, in the form of the Healers’ Guild and an improved road network.
Some, however, find Emperor Zangavius’s reign hard to cope with. Heavy taxes, long military service and harsh living conditions are wearing down the citizens. Talking against the emperor, however, is treason, punishable by death.
On the witches in Nathar
While sheriffs and guards uphold the mundane laws, there are wizard inspectors to uphold the laws of magic. Doing magic is illegal for others than wizards, and they punish illegal magicians severely. It is up to the wizard inspector whether the punishment is death, torture or extraction of magical abilities. Young men and women who have only just discovered their magical powers are usually punished only by extracting their magical abilities if they report their abilities immediately to an official. The mundane officials work together with the wizard inspectors reluctantly, perhaps more out of fear than respect. Some decide to avoid the wizard inspectors and practise magic illegally. They are tutored by witches, who usually live in the wilderness as outlaws. Witches are feared and respected and often they also work as midwives and surgeons in their nearby villages, and sometimes help other supernaturals beside magicians as well.
Witches live in lonely hovels here and there in the country and in the forests where they practise cursing, healing, preparing magic potions and other forms of magic. Witches are not always trusted, but it is known that evil creatures do not dare to approach them. It is also considered a good thing that they teach magic to women and others who cannot be accepted to the Highest Tower. On the other hand, anyone having something to do with witches, breaks the law of magic and the wizard inspectors wandering in the region might even punish them with death.
The wizards of the Highest Tower see magic as a force controlling nature – and the world. Therefore, the natural mission of wizards is to rule mankind, even if they are not yet ready for it. Preparations have already been made, and both Miran and Nathar are ruled by mages, and at least in Cruinne a wizard is acting as the ruler’s counsellor.
However, according to the Miranian view, magic is a balancing force that should somehow unite people. In Nathar this view is regarded as flawed because, in fact, magic is by definition external to nature; magic is change and expressly imbalanced. (They also train women as mages in Miran…) That’s why you find witches almost only in Vakar, the northest region of Nathar, close to the Badlands. Most of the witches in the south have fled to Miran, where they are allowed to live.