Cadaeren: Bordered by an ocean to its west, a vast desert to its north and east, and lush jungles to its south, the kingdom of Cadaeren has generally enjoyed peace and prosperity since the establishment of the Age of Balance.
From the City of Balance, Cadaeren’s capital, its unaligned king and queen work to maintain the magical Balance of the land. Beyond the City of Balance, Cadaeren’s thirty-two aligned noble houses use the magic of the earth, air, fire, or water to govern their ancestral holdings and their peasantry.
For hundreds of years, Cadaeren’s nobles and peasants alike have been content: as long as their rulers maintain the Balance – using all four elements of magic equitably in their governing – they know that their lands will continue to see peace and plenty all their days. Lately, however, King Kethel and Queen Tathilya’s disregard for the Balance has led to chaos, and mutterings of revolution are growing in every corner of the land.
Tonzimmel: Five hundred years before Alaric was born, a brilliant pair of rich noble brothers who were dissatisfied with the Cadaerian court sought a way to change their fate. They secretly built a city-sized fortress in the uninhabited lands northeast of Dragon Canyon, and surrounded it with a defensive magical field that could strip the power from any mage who attempted to cross it.
Once they were established in their new city of Tonzimmel and safe from Cadaerian retribution, the brothers offered sanctuary to any peasants who wanted to start a new life. Non-magical ability, they said, not inherited status, would be the means for success in their new city-state. Based on their revolutionary vision, Tonzimmel grew over the centuries into a thriving metropolis. Progress replaced tradition, science replaced superstition, and even the magic that Tonzimmel’s “energy fields” held at bay was forgotten by those protected within its walls. And that, its founders would have said, was as it should be.
Dragon Canyon: Southwest of Tonzimmel, a narrow canyon of red rock cuts its jarring way through Cadaeren’s countryside. Called Dragon Canyon because of its large, carnivorous, winged inhabitants, the canyon is a deathtrap for the unwary. Its blood-red stones serve as a reminder of the danger that awaits the foolhardy traveler who would dare its depths, and also speak to the legend surrounding the origins of this unnatural cleft in the earth.
The first mages of Cadaeren, it is said, continually strove to gain power by making war upon each other. In the final and most terrible of these mage-wars, a powerful aretz who saw his defeat at hand rent the earth apart in a last gesture of defiance. The earth opened and swallowed every last man on the battlefield, including the aretz himself. When the earth tried to close itself again, the slain warriors’ bodies kept the walls apart, even as their blood sank deep into its stones. Dragon Canyon has remained ever since, ugly and dangerous, warning Cadaeren’s mages of what may come when their powers are used for destruction.
The City of Balance: The City of Balance is the capital of Cadaeren, and the home of its unaligned royal house. As such, the City of Balance is also is the only location in the kingdom where mages of all four alignments – aeshes, shamais, aretzes, and ruahks – live together in (relative) harmony. In the center of the city is a grand castle large enough to house the royal family as well as most of the court. The castle is only full to capacity, however, in times of national emergency or national celebration, such as the Festival of Balance that marks the new year, or the coronation of the crown prince.
The City of Balance is located in central Cadaeren, on the north side of the Shamainis River. Originally known as “Kingstown,” King Cohlit changed the city’s name to help usher in the Age of Balance that he brought to Cadaeren. It has been known as the City of Balance ever since, both as a description of fact, and as a declaration of hope for the future.
The Kansil Mountains: This ancient mountain range far to the south of the Shamainis River, along with the Tornado Plains immediately to its north, has long been home to the most powerful ruahk families in Cadaeren. Man, however, is not the only race to live in the Kansil mountains. Over the centuries, dragons, griffons, ice-worms, and other, even rarer, magical creatures have been found in the mountains’ deeper caves and passages.
It is not these large predators, though, that keep all but the brave, the desperate, and the ruahks far away from the Kansil range. It is rather its hordes of ravenous fire-spiders, which string their flaming webs throughout the mountains’ vast natural tunnel system, that have given the Kansil mountains their well-deserved reputation for danger and death.
The Temple of the Elements: Built shortly after the dawn of the Age of Balance, the Temple of the Elements houses Cadaeren’s most ancient and powerful artifacts, including the Prince’s Crown. The guardians of the temple and their apprentices lead quiet but important lives: it is their task not only to keep Cadaeren’s magical treasures safe, but also to perform the myriad rituals required throughout Cadaeren to keep the land prosperous and in Balance.
One of the most important (though least often performed) of these is the coronation of the crown prince. Only the high guardian may perform the coronation ritual, which, through the power of the Prince’s Crown, permanently binds the Balance of Cadaeren to the king’s successor.
Throughout most of the year, however, the guardians of the Temple of the Elements are content to spend their days tending the temple’s lush gardens, enjoying its peaceful streams, fresh breezes, and warm fires, and willingly helping those who come to them for aid. The temple has had a long history of rendering assistance to those without anywhere else to turn, and many of Cadaeren’s peasants and nobles alike have marveled at the wisdom and magical skill that the guardians of the Temple of the Elements have given them without asking anything in return.
The College of Magic: A proud and ancient stone fortress, the College of Magic is firmly planted atop a tall, forested hill that overlooks the junction of the Tirhan and Shamainis Rivers. Within its broad walls, Cadaeren’s greatest mages have been passing on their knowledge to the next generation for nearly a thousand years.
Less than a quarter of Cadaeren’s mages choose to attend the College of Magic, and even fewer graduate. Those that do, however, are inducted into the Order of the Open Book, a close-knit family of scholars who can be relied upon to aid each other and Cadaeren in any way possible. For this reason, those who wear the embroidered open book over their heart are treated with as much respect as the members of the most ancient noble houses of the land.
White-robes and white-sashes: From the beginning of Cadaeren’s history, those with magical abilities have governed those without. When Cadaeren was established as a kingdom, this distinction was formalized into a two-class system of magical nobles and magickless peasants. The nobility quickly adopted the custom of wearing white robes to show their status and magical power, and they forbade any commoners from doing likewise. Since then, the color white has become so associated with nobility and with magic that the term “white-robe” is commonly used to describe those of noble birth.
This magical-nobility, magickless-peasantry distinction has mostly held through the centuries. However, a small third class has also emerged between the nobility and the peasantry. This class of “white-sashes” consists of those few, lucky peasants who are discovered to have magical abilities and are thus permitted to wear a white sash over an identifying tunic of red, green, blue, or silver. Though revered by the magickless, white-sashes are still peasants, as any white-robe will be quick to point out if the subject is brought up in conversation.
Prince Tirhan: One of the greatest kings of the Age of Balance, Tirhan son of Sovim began making history through the feats he accomplished during his Quest of the Unaligned. Immediately after retrieving the Prince’s Crown from the Temple of the Elements, Prince Tirhan received a plea for help from the villages in Cadaeren’s far northern reaches. The villages were under attack by an ice giant, the messenger said, a monster who had slain their lord and protector without warning and laid waste to several of their villages.
Filled with compassion for his people and fury against his heartless foe, Prince Tirhan immediately used his magic to transport himself to the ice giant’s lair. For two days, Tirhan and the Ice Killer fought, while a blizzard raged around them. Eventually the giant tired, whereupon Prince Tirhan smote him down using the Sword of Kings. In all of this, Tirhan kept the Prince’s Crown safe, and never once yielded to the temptation of using its forbidden power to help him in his battle. For this, he is ever remembered in the phrase spoken to every prince upon the beginning of his Quest of the Unaligned: “May your deeds rival those of Tirhan and Relnar.”
Prince Relnar: One of the greatest kings of the Age of Balance, Relnar was eager from his youth to match the heroic deeds of his grandfather Tirhan. In Relnar’s tenth year, he learned of a dragon that had been terrorizing the Heartlands in the southeast of Cadaeren since before he was born, and he swore to destroy it. When Prince Relnar set off from the Temple of the Elements on his Quest of the Unaligned, the dragon had already killed twenty knights, but Relnar was not afraid.
Accompanied only by his squire, Relnar tracked the dragon to its lair in the Kansil Mountains without magic, thus giving the monster no warning of his approach. A great battle ensued. With the help of his squire, Prince Relnar succeeded in slaying the terrible beast, but the victory came at a cost. Relnar was wounded in the battle, and his hurts, which pained him ever after, burned with the fire of dragon venom. Even so, Relnar refused to use the Prince’s Crown’s forbidden power to heal himself. Because of this, he is ever remembered in the phrase spoken to every prince upon the beginning of his Quest of the Unaligned: “May your deeds rival those of Tirhan and Relnar.”
Peatter of Aldergrove: Originally an aesh, Peatter of Aldergrove (legend says) eventually discovered how to become an orah, or mage of light. Much of his story is lost to history, but those lucky enough to have read his book, Beyond the Balance, know that Peatter served as chief advisor to King Cohlit, that he created the Prince’s Crown, and that he helped the king bind himself and the royal family to the Balance of Cadaeren. This act made King Cohlit, Queen Lohta, and their heirs the first of the unaligned and let them usher in a new Age of Balance in Cadaeren.
Other books hint of Peatter’s heroism in the War of Chaos, and even suggest that he, not King Cohlit, defeated the mages who led the rebellion against the crown. Whatever the truth of the matter is, Peatter of Aldergrove is a legend of Cadaeren, and his theories of magic have either inspired or frightened mages for hundreds of years.