The Coalition
In a land divided by the wars against the invaders, there are only two great powers. The first is the mage-nation of Peria, and the second is known simply as The Coalition. United in their enmity of the mages of Peria, and their belief in and worship of the great god Zalhoon. Amongst them the distant empire of Mulhirad is certainly the foremost, but the merchant-princes of Venedoza and the young state of Alohand are both growing in power, and the Derro of the Dorondo control the ancient cities from which their now-extinct mountain dwarf cousins once ruled this part of the world, and guard the secrets therein.

Mulhirad


The great southern empire of Mulhirad stretches from the trackless stretches of the blazing parched desert in the south, up to the Dorondo mountains at the centre of Manus. Home to the Pillars of Zalhoon, and ruled over by the almighty Tisrah, it is to Mulhirad that the nations of the coalition look for leadership and direction. In their white cities the swarthy men of Mulhirad trade in bustling bazaars, and garner vast wealth and influence, while in the cool temples the pious prostrate themselves to Zalhoon in the hope of favour above that of their neighbours. Veiled women move to the wells at dawn with pots of water balanced on their dark, glossy heads and wealthy merchants decorate their thick hands with jewelled rings, while they sell their exotic spices. Camels give way to horses in the arid grasslands of the north, where the wealth, culture and wisdom of all of the coalition gather to paint the very portrait of civilization and enlightenment.

The Haradi Tribes

The Haradi are a nomadic warrior people, famous for making their home in the savage and uncompromising desert known as the Parched Sea in southern Mulhirad. It is said that a Haradi warrior is worth three of any other land, and this seems true, for no army has ever overcome a Haradi warhost in recorded history. Eventually the Haradi were incorporated into the Empire of Mulhirad, not by conquest, but because they were given the heir of the empire to keep as a hostage from his sixteenth birthday until he took the throne. This tradition has continued to this day, with the staunch taskmasters of the Haradi training the emperor to be as hard as stone, yet as elusive as sand as the priests of Zalhoon teach him to be steadfast, devout, and pure of heart and spirit. So long as they are ruled by one of their own - for that is what the heir becomes - the Haradi are the most loyal, and likely the most valuable - allies that Mulhirad has.

The Pillars of Zalhoon

There may be sects and schisms within the faith of Zalhoon - the most notable being those that took Alohand in recent history - but the foundation of the prevalent faith of Manus lies in the Pillars of Zalhoon, and the Pillars call Mulhirad both their administrative and spiritual home. The Great Mullah traditionally dwells in the city of Pashadan, and many religious scholars mix with bureaucrats and emissaries in the coffee houses of the white city. The Tisrah is, technically, ordained by the pillars, making the Great Mullah a powerful man indeed, but as yet none have denied an heir, so no one knows quite what would happen if the empire and the pillars - always a peaceful union - were to ever come into conflict.

Venedoza


Generally thought of as the second great nation of the coalition, Venedoza lies in the northern Dorondo mountains, in the centre-north of the continent. Venedoza is actually an alliance of a great many coastal city-states, which in turn are ruled by powerful, wealthy dynasties of merchant houses. Each city specializes in a certain trade or craft, and their craftsmen are some of the most skilled to be found anywhere in the world. Venedoza is wealthy indeed, and the Venedozans are a seagoing people who have mastered carrying goods over long distances to all of the great cities of the southern lands, save of course for the cities of Peria, where only pirates trade. Short but spirited naval wars or sieges between cities are common, when a matter of trade, territory or pride cannot be settled at the diplomat's table, meaning that the Venedozans also turn out proud warriors who form into bands of professional mercenaries, moving from city to city as there is demand for their services. However, on the whole, conflict disrupts trade, and the Pillars of Zalhoon council peace as the path to prosperity, and unity of the coalition, so these wars are usually tidy, well organized, and brief, with a minimum of collateral damage.

Alohand


Not so very long ago a major schism occurred in the Pillars of Zalhoon, when the council of Mullahs could not choose between the leaders of one radical and one conservative sect for Great Mullah. The situation became dire, and eventually to avoid an all out holy war, the Tisrah of Mulhirad stepped in and exiled the radical candidate and all of his followers from the lands of his empire. Taking thousands of their loyal followers, the radicals flooded north, and settled in the lands of the Principality of El Paiona. Quickly the priests, tempered in the cut throat fires of Mulharadi politics, quickly came to dominate the parochial nation, and eventually, gradually, they became the ruling class. Now Alohand is a heady, exotic mix of the southern Mulhiradi culture, and a more base version of the Venedozan way, ruled over by devout Sultan-priests. The Pillars have long reconciled their differences with the Alohandi Way of Zalhoon, in the face of their common enemy to the north. But if this threat were ever defeated who knows how long the two would co-exist.

Bret

Off the eastern coast of Venedoza sits a cluster of islands known collectively as Bret. Once a territory of El Paiona, they were never incorporated into Alohand by the Alohandi Way, and so they live a simple life, unaffected by the tumultuous clashes of the mainland or the unnatural perversion of the Wound. In this idyllic land of shady woods, picturesque farming villages and pleasant citrus groves life is simple and one can forget, at least for a time, that the outside world exists. But the slow predation of the Sahuagin, while largely unnoticed by the local people, is gradually, but inevitably becoming a problem.

The Dorondo Cities


The lands of the Dorondo were once the home of the Mountain Dwarves, but with the death of those stalwart warriors in the fight against the Invaders their vast and wondrous mountaintop cities were left empty. That was when their degenerate subterranean cousins the Derro saw their opportunity. Emerging from their own deep mines, they took over the cities, making the grandeur that was once the mountain dwarf nation their own, with their crude etchings and slovenly lifestyle. Not to say that the Derro of the Dorondo are idiotic, they merely don't value the history and culture of their cousins very highly, and know how to seize grand opportunity when they see it. Their almost fanatical adherence to the Pillars of Zalhoon (the Derro like the idea that prayer and devotion are an easy path to prosperity), surpassed by only the most zealous missionaries of the Wound, made them fast allies of Mulhirad and Venedoza, and the wealth and technology of their inherited culture make them influential and valuable allies.

Other Powers


Of course, to characterize the coalition as 'the rest' of the world would be a gross misnomer. There are other powers at play in the world, not aligned to the coalition - barely even known to it. The Koalinth reaver-nations of the western seas, or the Sahuagin enclaves found along the shores of the entire continent - and representing only a tiny part of a vast empire. The growing Bullywug communities of the south-Dorondo jungles, the deep-dwelling Duregar cities, and the Azer of the North Wall have all made their allegiances unknown, or else struck against both Peria and the Coalition in equal share. And what of the invaders themselves? Every now and then a cult following one of those awful and profane monstrosities is uncovered, even in the heart of Mulhirad! Can they truly be gone from the world forever, or are they churning and bubbling madly in some dark corner of the ever-shifting multiverse, amassing a new army? Only time will tell.

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