You walk toward the first group of rooms that Master Arasemis allocates for the students. The walls are lined with paintings to remind the students of the wide world and their place in it as members of Candlestone.
You see six framed paintings in this hallway.
You don’t know much about these structures, but you remember they were tombs for petty kings of the Caribani tribe in what is now the southern steppe region of the Kingdom of Ovelia.
This area, called Arpalatri Aria, was continuously fought over between the Caribani and the Genevaro tribes. It was later pacified by Arukan colonists. Aside from the mixed influence of Arukan, Caribani, and Genevaro cultures, there are also many Lambic speakers in Arpalatri because it has borne the brunt of the modern wars with Lambochardy.
You recall that modern Ovelian dynasties do not use siggurats, although some local southern leaders still do. In the north, Master Arasemis has spoken of royal crematoriums where the remains of kings and queens are burned near the capital, Harpethosa.
After the ceremonies, the crematoriums are torn down and their bricks and stone repurposed for a public building project in Harpethosa, with their ashes buried within the foundation. In this way, the old rulers are said to provide the soul of the capital, where they live among the living.
This painting depicts the place inside of a giant rotting tree where an early member of Candlestone was held before being executed by the Frontier Corps. Master Arasemis said that Callistor was captured after trying to flee the colonial capital of Eglamour with Wallon. Were it not for Callistor’s help, it is doubtful Wallon would have successfully assassinated Seralin, the last Brintilian Empire Exarch of Pemonia.
Callistor endured much. The imperial soldiers dragged him from the city to attempt to track down Wallon and the rest of the Candlestone members, but Callistor led them in the wrong direction. When it became clear that Callistor was deceiving them, the soldiers locked him in a jail near the roadside.
It was a hollowed-out place inside of a dying giant tree of what had been Gallerlandia, now in southern Toulon Ministry of Donovan Kingdom, that was regularly used to transport troublesome tribesmen who had difficulty integrating into the imperial structure. The ruins of it are still there, a destination of secret pilgrimage for members of the Order.
Master Arasemis has pointed to Callistor’s sacrifice when explaining to you and the other students what is required to complete tasks on behalf of the Candlestone Order. Finishing the task is paramount, regardless of what happens to you, he says. It is difficult to think about, but you accept his instructions.
You think this is probably a depiction of the old tales you’ve heard about the native people of Temeszal who would try to intimidate Arukan colonists by burning effigies of Arukan leaders. The Arukans quickly established trade with the Temaris in the northern Sahab breadbasket areas, but Temaris who lived in the vast southern desserts consistently opposed Arukan encroachment.
Some southern Temari rebels today will occasionally burn effigies of Calbrian leaders, now that the Sahab region primarily exports its grains to Calbria. You remember there is a book upstairs in the library that is an Arukan colonial officer’s account of life in Temeszal during that era.
You love this painting because you enjoy learning about the Arukan culture. During the Age of Exploration, they were the primary rival to the Brintilian Empire and treated many of the natives with respect and even admiration. Although the Arukans did establish colonies in the New World, they also helped to prepare the natives to defend themselves against the Frontier Corps.
The Arukans had firsthand experience with the brutality of the Brintilians. Most famously, the wretched Arcodum prison island was in Arukia. The Arukans continuously struggled under the thumb of the Brintilians, dreaming of their ancient ideal form of governance: a republic. They achieved a short-lived one until Marshal Hilsingor led the Rivercross Corps on a crusade on behalf of the Messengian Church, overthrowing the nascent Republic of Arukia and mostly pacified the region.
This war made Hilsingor famous, even before he led the Frontier Corps in Pemonia. He personally oversaw the destruction of the first Senate building. As shown in this painting, a black opal statue called The Freeman had been placed in center of the shallow pond on its grounds, symbolizing the untouchable freedoms that the ancient republic guaranteed for its citizens. Hilsingor had the statue beheaded before placing it in his personal collection of war trophies.
As a result of working with the tribes of the New World, the Arukans secured allies and trade among them, and set up new kingdoms that ensured peace between previously quarreling tribes, for a time at least. And despite defeats back home in the Old World, the Arukans’ ideals lived on in the New, notably in modern Calbria, where the Arukans had much influence over the tribes of central Pemonia. Today, the Calbrian kings are chosen by regional Electors, as the Arukans did, and not dissimilar from how the Gallerlanders chose their leaders.
You see parallels between Rildning’s efforts and the Arukan approach, but Master Arasemis has not mentioned this. He also does not look positively on the Arukan experiments with a republic, or even the modern Calbrian government. Arasemis talks at length about the Gallerlanders’ primitive governance, but doesn’t seem to notice the similarities with the larger-scale republics. You suppose he has good reasons, so you’ll not ask him about it.
You remember Master Arasemis explaining this was a Gallerlander tale about the hidden location of an electrum hoard. The electrum was allegedly stolen by Raffen tribesmen, then buried to insult the Gallerlanders who believed the electrum was sacred.
According to the tale, a group of Gallerlanders tasked with finding the hidden treasure were pointed in the right direction by a large ring of electrum that floated like a specter among the misty forests of Gregoroth, a Raffen territory that is now part of Toninbern, eastern Rugenhav. There, amid the swirling mists and strangled vines of the forest, the Gallerlanders found their lost hoard, which was only recovered after they defeated a Raffen beast named Hiodin. The Gallerlander god, Wurumnak, was said to have provided the ring omen and the good luck to defeat the beast.
Arasemis said that the tale was obviously a fiction, a story devised to motivate Gallerlander warriors against the Raffen. This became especially important after the Raffen joined forces with the Brintilian Empire. Furthermore, Arasemis said the Raffen had no practical need for an electrum hoard because they received pure gold, steel swords, and horses from the Brintilians.
Still, you think it’s interesting, since the Gallerlanders certainly built massive electrum treasuries in Nalembalen, Gilgalem, and other places.
This is clearly a chief but it is unclear which subtribe he was from. You can tell from the painting style that this was commissioned during the colonial era. The Gallerlander is depicted as a brutish character clinging to his primitive weapon. The Brintilians laughed at the Gallerlanders’ general prohibition on using metal weapons.
Here, the chieftain displays the fire-hardened spear-sword, which had almost no impact on the Brintilian heavy cavalry. Still, the Gallerlanders remained dangerous in their forests, particularly when swarming colonial knights with their superior numbers, and using tree running and other acrobatic tactics.
Master Arasemis has taught you and the other students how to use these methods, so that Candlestone is never defeated.
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You remember reading about this place in Master Arasemis’s library. Romidna is part of Spardo Aria, a sacred island that the Ovelians believe is owned by one of their gods. Romidna is a holy place where all crimes are forbidden, especially murder and theft. All Ovelians may come and go from Romidna as they wish, and all food is free for short stays. Housing is also free, but one can only live there by petitioning the king.
Like the other islands of Spardo, Romidna competes for the greatest and most opulent shrines and monuments to the various Ovelian deities. But because it is a holy island, Romidna stands apart. Some of its temples took centuries to construct, and some even date back to the first temples built by the Caribani tribe. Among the most peculiar temples is a small, egg-shaped one that honors the god Rale, built in a mossy forest of larch trees. You notice a painting of the Rale temple nearby.
This painting is related to the nearby painting of guardians. Unlike the many lavish temples of the holy island of Romidna, this temple is small and relatively humble in honor of Rale, the Ovelian god of contemplation and silence. The temple door is sealed and has never been entered.
Unofficially, Rale is also the patron god of those who abuse laudanum tincture, which addicted Ovelians call opi. Many come to Rale’s forest to smoke and think and get lost in brain-muddled whispered conversations. The guards make them leave at sundown so that Rale has his own time to ponder the impossible.
Master Arasemis said laudanum tincture was originally Rahlampian in origin but adapted by Arukan colonists who provided it to the Caribani, Cavi, and other tribes. The Caribani eagerly consumed the drug, which Arasemis said made them more pliable to Arukan colonization. It remains popular in Ovelia today, a steady export from the swamplands of Calbria.
This is a painting of unusual style like the ones downstairs that you like. You recognize this man’s name because he was a famous Arukan knight and a member of the seventh generation of the Order of the Candlestone. In his teachings, Master Arasemis said that Dimanus was sympathetic to local tribes, whom he had fought as a colonial knight, similar to Rildning more than a hundred years earlier. Dimanus had witnessed how the Arukans weakened the tribes by trading mind-numbing drugs with them, particularly laudanum tincture and catha.
Despite his refusals to attack the drugged tribes, the respected Dimanus was elevated to a high position within the military of the new kingdom of Penogavia, in an effort to keep his soldiers loyal. The Arukans established Penogavia because they recognized the land was an important crossroads between Gretish, Temari, and Cavi tribes, and it was protected by mountains and rivers.
It was a strategic location that could control the region and greatly expand, it was hoped, the existing trade routes between the western and eastern halves of the continent. The Arukans planned for Penogavia to be their stronghold gateway into the Far East.
The founder of Penogavia was Cyperia, the daughter of a powerful Arukan governor of a neighboring territory. Cyperia was ruthless in plying the tribes with cheap drugs before assaulting them, in many cases violating peace treaties with them. Dimanus, by now a secret though untrained member of Candlestone, quietly agitated for her removal. As he and his followers became more vocal, she attempted to have them arrested. Dimanus then led a revolt against her that devolved into all-out war.
Arukan reinforcements soon overwhelmed Dimanus and his loyal soldiers and tribal allies, forcing them into hiding in the mountains and eventually into exile. He later helped lead Candlestone alongside Nothild and Bevil, while Cyperia went on to establish a dynasty of matriarchs that continues today in Penogavia.
This painting has no name on the frame, but you recognize it as a depiction of Gallerlander sky omens. You remember there are several paintings like this in the Shrine near Master Arasemis’s quarters on this floor of the castle.
You see five framed paintings in this hallway. The first three are untitled depictions of cave hill burrows, but you cannot remember anything about them.
This painting that depicts a fortress built by the Brintilian Empire to help control the island. It is perched on a rocky hill that overlooks the port city of Billan, which became the capital of the colony, and remains the capital of the Donovard side of the island today.
During his teachings about the tribes of Pemonia, Master Arasemis said the Noric tribe, who were isolated from their continental Gallerlander cousins, had sparsely populated the island due to constant battles with the Raffen tribe. As a result, the Brintilian colonists soon far outnumbered the Norics. Those who resisted colonization were driven to the southern portion of the island or into the mountains.
This is a painting that you like very much. Master Arasemis has taught you and the other students how to make seafire down in the laboratory. It is a thick, sticky, gray-yellow liquid that is extremely caustic. It ignites upon contact with water and is impossible to put out, owing to the properties of its main ingredient: quicklime. In addition to the quicklime (30%), you learned how to add napthar (30%), saltpeter (20%), and pine resin (20%), just as the ancient Raffen alchemists had done, without harming yourself.
Quicklime was originally discovered by the Raffen tribe after experimenting with a powder residue found among burned limestone, which they widely used to build fortifications. The Raffen called this powder firkirg. Arasemis said they used it against a rival tribe, the Nyden, by burning their ships.
Once they became allied with the Brintilian Empire, the Raffen also gifted the seafire recipe to the empire, which was used during naval battles and against Rahlampian landships during the attempted conquest of Aggarwal. Although the Brintilians failed in Aggarwal, they used seafire to good effect elsewhere in central Pemonia, and it is among those technologies credited with enabling Brintilian conquest over the more numerous tribes.
Later, the Martinus outlawed the use of seafire by or against any kingdoms adhering to the Messengian religion, following its use by the newly-independent kingdoms of Pemonia against each other. Using it against natives had been one thing, but spraying knights and royals with a flaming, sticky slurry that could not be doused was seen as uncivilized. The use of burning oil during a siege remained acceptable, however, because this method had not been invented by “heathens”. Regardless, seafire continued to be used sporadically by Congregants who didn’t recognize the religious authority of the Martinus. But even they came to see it as a barbaric weapon, and so the recipe was lost to history.
Arasemis said many suspect some kings or alchemists still hold the recipe in vaults in case their enemies revive seafire. It is clear to you that Arasemis takes great pride in being able to teach you and the other students how to make it, though you are sworn to protect it, like everything else related to Candlestone.
You see that Morroy kepta fancy bronze- and ivory-handled knife in this chest. There are no elephants in his native Calbria, but there are many in Genevaros and other nations in the Far East. You wonder where he got this one.
Originally sparsely inhabited by Welkar and then Rahlampian tribes, the lands of Preton were historically very dangerous due to raids by the Naren-Dra tribe. The Naren-Dra were particularly murderous toward anyone who killed or attempted to capture their horse-sized mountain goats, or took possession of any shells from the mountains’ giant tortoises.
Later, the Naren-Dra were deterred from coming down from their mountains by the Arukan-tribal alliances that were at war with the Brintilians. The Naren-Dra probably viewed them as a buffer that protected their mountains from Brintilian and Arukan colonization. This unspoken understanding must have been respected later when the lowlands became the Kingdom of Preton, and again when Preton became an electorate of Calbria.
Preton also encompassed the Almerian-influenced port city of Fossenlan, which was effectively like an isolated island: a thin strip of land between the Narendra Mountains and Oradrond Bay…
You recognize this one to be a famous Candlestone alchemist named Kelwin. Like Morroy, he was a Calbrian and is famous in Candlestone for being the father of color alchemy. You remember Master Arasemis explaining that it was one of the more esoteric schools of alchemy, dedicated to the study and practice of changing the color of substances and objects, often with unknown or not well understood consequences.
Most of Kelwin’s daily work was said to revolve around creating pigments and dyes for cosmetics, artwork, glass, inks, and other domestic uses. However, his ultimate goal was enta chromia: a pigment that can become any color at any time for the purpose of creating clothing of invisibility.
Arasemis said that as Kelwin got closer to his goal, one of his adherents coveted the enta chromia for herself. She took Kelwin’s notebooks and hid them away, then outed her master to the king’s men for sorcery.
Under the pain of torture, Kelwin’s followers detailed his work to the king, who ordered Kelwin to be executed by methods gleaned from his own alchemy books. The king’s investigators settled on a concoction that was called shadowed seafire. Arasemis said he is not aware of any such creation, so he thinks it was more likely that they misinterpreted something from Kelwin’s books.
The king’s men combined random mixtures from his laboratory in a large vat, with the intent of burning Kelwin, but the thick liquid began to solidify around him when a hot lamp was brought near to light it. This moment is depicted in the painting, with Kelwin waiting calmly for death in return for the king sparing the lives of his followers.
Impatient with the pace of events, and perhaps embarrassed that his investigators bungled their task, the king ordered Kelwin to be beheaded while he sat fixed in the vat of solidified liquid. The king then reneged on his promise, ordering the execution of Kelwin’s followers that had not evaded capture.
Today, Kelwin is considered a martyr by Candlestone, one who pushed the boundaries of what was possible with alchemy. Arasemis said he does not know what happened to Kelwin’s stolen notebooks. The pupil who had betrayed him was pardoned by the king, so she may have tried to complete enta chromia alone in secret. Other color alchemists have tried to reproduce Kelwin’s work, to little effect as far as anyone knows.
Many alchemists consider invisible materials to be a hopeless fantasy rife with trickery, as some color alchemists have turned to the creation of gold platinate and iron platinate substances. These are intended to mimic real gold and iron in an attempt to defraud gullible marks of their money.
You hold this bottle warily, recognizing it as chalice vine water. The flowers of this vine can be distilled to produce a yellow-tinted clear liquid that is a tasteless, odorless poison that creates rotting in wounds. It is traditionally smeared on blades. You remember that Bertwil’s sword was treated with concentrated chalice vine water, so he must have used this bottle to replenish the poison. As Master Arasemis explained: “a scratch can rot a limb, and a good cut is certain to kill.”
You’re not surprised this is in Bertwil’s room. He is among the only members of Candlestone who are still adherents of a major religion. He was raised as a practicing Messengian, though he does not speak of it much and you’ve never seen him read the holy books.
You were not there at the time, but you heard that Fetzer once challenged Bertwil and called him an agent of Messengianism. To which Bertwil responded that his religion required reform and purification, but that he was not an agent.
You have not been across the northern seas to Almeria, but you know this temple is the seat of the Martinus, the leader of the Messengian Church. One thing that interests you about the temple is the vast library said to be there. Cryphans are priests who protect, organize, and study the documents, which are called cryphae. The temple is said to hold the oldest writings in the world, in the form of scrolls, clay tablets, and birch bark paper.
…And yet, the Hrals held out against the Brintilian Empire in small pockets, though they were never organized enough to seriously defend their lands or negotiate terms. The Hrals were utterly incapable of bridging their own internal rifts, broken up as they were among independent warlords.
As a result, as the colonies gained strength, the Hrals were usually massacred by the empire. The Brintilians showed no mercy, viewing the aggressive Hrals as Memelos-inspired animals. Some were enslaved as laborers. Less often they were used as fighters against other tribes, but their unpredictable and brutal nature led many commanders to abhor their use despite the Hrals’ fight-to-the-death approach. This included the fabled furywine, said to be made from adder blood. This claim is surely apocryphal, though some have claimed that the shadowy band of murderers known as Candle Stone adopted such behavior…
Bertwil, always eating, clearly forgot part of his stash.
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