|Realm||Kingdom of the Carmine Sea|
|Religion|| Pagan (Huma worship),
Queen Tempest cult
Tempestia is a large, roughly round peninsula, mountainous in the centre and descending into green verdant fields which eventually give way to long stretches of sandy beach.
The Seal Bay is on the southern end of the peninsula, between a spur from it and the mainland. It houses a large population of seals, which give it its name.
The Endless Pools are a series of small lakes and ponds in the northwest of the peninsula, so named because they appear unusually deep.
The most important landmark in the peninsula is Mount Cambys, the highest mountain, where the huma birds are reported to nest. The peak is often hidden in clouds, and has a snow cap for all but the hottest few weeks in summer.
The people call themselves Sylphids. Fairly short and slim in stature, they have very pale, mottled skin, and can give an insubstantial impression. They bear a similarity to the storm berapi of Pontensulae, save that they are even slighter of build – although anyone comparing the two would probably conclude that the sylphids are, if not actually storm berapi, at least very closely related. The population of Tempestia is almost overwhelmingly female, with three or perhaps even four women to every man.
The sylphids are, by and large, gentle and generous, but fickle, flighty and easily bored. Anybody asking for help in Tempestia will be overwhelmed with offers and assistance, only to find all the helping hands drift away long before the task is completed. Polygamy is not so much an institution as a fact of life, since any one individual struggles to maintain interest in another for long, and the disparity in numbers by sex means otherwise most women would never find a partner.
Violence is frowned upon outside a few ritualised forms of unarmed wrestling used to settle disputes. The sylphids have little patience for long disputes and grudges, so where justice or revenge is sought it tends to be settled quickly. Despite the sylphids' distaste for violence, punishment for capital crimes is swift and severe.
One of the few things to hold the attention of the sylphids for long is the huma bird, soaring on the air currents around the mountains in the north. The birds have great cultural significance in sylphid culture and almost all sylphid art depicts them in some way or other. Killing the huma birds is strictly taboo and anyone who harms one is treated to the harshest punishments.
Since the arrival of Jarr and Venn settlers, sylphids have been found to have an aptitude for sailing, given their understanding of the winds and their slender build, which allows them to climb rigging easily. Few of them devote the time to become truly excellent sailors or join the navy, but some have made a great success of it.
Most of the people live in small villages and hamlets. There is one true town, Grantham, which was established initially as a colonial outpost but has become the centre of regional government. Population is a mix of sylphids and Jarr and Venn settlers - and a growing population of half-sylphids born from interbreeding between the settlers and natives.
The great huma birds of the mountains are the pride of the sylphid people. Rulers are selected based on those the birds appear to show favour, and great import is read into the whims and directions of the birds. Most of the people believe the birds never alight on the ground, though those few sylphids dedicated enough to trek into the mountains report that they do land and nest. According to legend, large huma can be ridden, and most great sylphid mythic heroes have acquired a huma to ride at some point, even if the original story did not include one.
The Jarr and Venn settlers were less intimidated by the legends surrounding the huma than the sylphids and, while remaining respectful, encouraged the sylphids to make use of their extensive knowledge of the birds to begin to tame them. With the introduction of modified saddles based on those of berunda riders, riding the huma became an achievable prospect for many of the sylphids. They are still held in great reverence as royal birds, however, and are not traded. Occasionally an egg or young huma might be given to a foreign ruler held in great esteem, and a clutch of eggs is sent to Aus-Teire every year for the Qzare.
Given the sylphids' casual attitude towards any form of work or agriculture, it is fortunate that the peninsula has an abundant population of geese, which were domesticated long ago. Sylphids are fond of their geese and seem to treat them almost like pets, albeit pets they are not averse to killing and eating when they become hungry, or bored.
Inevitably, there is no meaningful industry of any kind on the peninsula, and the sylphids are obliged to import metal for tools.
The sylphids are pagan. It is not clear whether their reverence of the huma birds is really religious, but it is the closest thing to an organised religion they have as a whole. Those who can interpret the movements of the birds and have an affinity for them are treated with the reverence usually due to priests. There is also a low-level veneration of wind spirits who control the air currents on which the huma soar.
Thanks to a misunderstanding over her name, there is a small, quasi-religious group devoted to Queen Tempest. Upon being informed, the king reportedly laughed and replied, “Well, I can see their point.”
What authority existed in Tempestia before the arrival of the Jarrs was vested almost entirely in those skilled in interpreting the huma, who occupied a position generally referred to by the Jarrs as “priest-queens”, or locally as ireiarchoneia. The positions were not technically hereditary, as any who could interpret the huma well enough are elevated to the priesthood, but since the priests tended to pay most attention to educating their own children, most of the positions over time had become vested in a few families.
After the Jarrs made contact with the sylphids in about 404, Earl Villem was able to predict the movement of some of the huma, using knowledge of the wind gathered from a lifetime of sailing. This impressed the ireiarchoneia and seemed to suggest that the Jarrs might be people worth listening to. Over subsequent years, more people from the mainland kingdoms have settled on the peninsula and eventually the ireiarchoneia agreed to recognise King Athelmere as their overlord. He duly took the title King of the Sylphids, with Tempest becoming Queen. Many of the sylphids, in line with their own matriarchal culture, regard Tempest as their true sovereign, although they pay respect to the position of the king.
Some of the Jarr and Venn settlers on the peninsula have remarked that this submission was in fact probably a ploy by the priest-queens so that the settlers do all the work while the sylphids get on with whatever they feel like doing at any given moment. There may be some truth in this.
There are eight ireiarchoneia at any given time. In ascending order of seniority, they are titled:
- Ireiarchon Esmanaxe
- Ireiarchon Teinanaxe
- Ireiarchon Emsathera
- Ireiarchon Teinopore
- Ireiarchon Varasugis
- Ireiarchon Teinesys
- Ireiarchon Esmachemon
- Ireiarchon Teinechemon
The positions are hierarchical, not geographic, and each ireiarchon has authority over the whole kingdom. When an ireiarchon retires or dies, the remainder move up one position in the hierarchy, so the youngest and most junior is always Esmanaxe and the most senior Teinechemon. It is not unusual for Esmanaxe to be under twenty years old. Most ireiarchoneia serve for life, but retirement is not uncommon: many ireiarchoneia tire of their responsibilities after several years in office and decide they wish to pursue other things in life. It is not a decision taken lightly, but they are not condemned for doing so.